Nutrition News: Granola and Other “Healthy” Food Myths, Busted; Nutritionally Sound Grocery Savings

by in Food News, September 2, 2016

Granola: Snack at Your Own Risk

Americans think of granola as healthy, but the granola we buy in stores or, often, make at home is usually so loaded with sugar we may as well be eating a piece of cake, a handful of cookies or a doughnut. In some cases, that cup of granola we eat for breakfast may actually contain more sugar than some of those dessert items, The New York Times notes, which explains why the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines categorize granola as a “grain-based dessert.” Some nutritionists say you can manage a healthier workaround by buying unsweetened granola and preparing it without adding sugar, but others just advise avoiding it altogether. Read more

Have You Tried Teff?

by in Gluten-Free, Have You Tried, Uncategorized, September 1, 2016

You know you should get a variety of whole grains in your diet. But it’s easy to get stuck in a quinoa rut if you don’t make an effort to seek out new-to-you whole grains. This article tells you everything you need to know about teff, a tiny whole grain that’s popular in Ethiopian cuisine.

What Is It?

Teff is a small, gluten-free grain, about the size of a poppy seed. It comes in different colors and has a mild, nutty flavor. It’s a staple grain in Ethiopia, where it’s ground into flour to make injera, a spongy, pancake-like fermented bread.

What Are Its Nutritional Benefits?

Teff is a really nutritious whole grain. A cup of cooked teff has 7 grams of fiber, 10 grams of protein and the following vitamins and minerals:

Magnesium, 32% DV
Thiamine, 31% DV
Phosphorus, 30% DV
Iron, 28% DV Read more

Chickpea Shawarma Pitas with Hummus-Dill Dressing

by in Healthy Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan, August 31, 2016

Ever since the United Nations declared 2016 the Year of the Pulse, I’ve been trying to include at least one serving a day in my diet. Pulses, otherwise known as beans, dry peas and lentils, are fiber and protein powerhouses — not to mention that, at roughly a dollar a pound, they’re dirt-cheap. Thankfully, they also taste delicious.

Since “chickpea” sounds a lot like “chicken,” I thought chickpeas would be a natural swap in these Mediterranean-inspired shawarma pitas. Covered in spices and roasted to crispy perfection, they are then tucked into warmed pita bread and covered in a creamy hummus-dill sauce. Add in a few colorful vegetables and you’re left with a flavor-packed sandwich that’s perfect for lunch or dinner.

At first glance, this recipe may seem like it takes more ingredients than it’s worth, but they’re mainly spices that can be found in well-stocked pantries. To me, my spice pantry is king, giving me the ability to add maximum flavor without added fat. In healthy cooking, seasoning is everything, and for that, spices are worth their weight in gold. If you find that you don’t need a large jar, head to the bulk-bin section of your local grocery store for just the amount you need.

For a “cook once, eat twice” approach, transform any leftovers into a chickpea shawarma salad: Layer the vegetables with roasted chickpeas and top it with dollops of hummus-dill dressing. Read more

This Week’s CSA: Tomatoes at Last!

by in In Season, August 30, 2016

Finally! Sweet summer tomatoes have arrived in this week’s CSA from Mountain View Farm. For a cook, being handed a bag full of unadulterated produce is like being a kid handed an ice cream cone; it’s a moment of pure wonder. Still, it’s easy to grow weary during a long season of squash, squash and more squash.

Don’t get me wrong — summer squash is outstanding roasted, tossed into stir-fries and grated for slaws. But sometimes you yearn for something more … something just like a sweet, juicy tomato.

Now that we’ve gotten our wish, here are a few ideas for what to do with those fresh-from-the-farm tomatoes.
Salads: What says summer more than a fresh tomato salad? Good produce means very little work is required; just a simple vinaigrette, some fresh herbs and light seasoning will make the natural sweetness in your tomatoes pop. Read more

5 Snacking Pitfalls

by in Healthy Tips, Uncategorized, August 29, 2016

We’ve become a nation of snackers. Supermarket shelves are lined with snacking options, and many focus on the health-conscious consumer, providing snacks that are gluten-free, sugar-free, organic, vegan, kosher, dairy-free and/or GMO-free. However, you can overdo it even with the healthiest intentions. Here are five snacking mistakes that many folks make and what you can do to prevent them.

#1: Over-Grazing
Many folks tend to eat small snacks throughout the day, also known as grazing. If this habit is not kept under control, the few hundred calories you’re munching at each snack time can quickly add up and lead to weight gain over time.

Instead: Even if you’re a grazer, snacks and small meals should be scheduled throughout the day. This way you know when you’re eating, so you can have more control over what and how much you eat. Read more

Back-to-School Recipe Roundup

by in Healthy Recipes, Kid-Friendly, Uncategorized, August 28, 2016

It’s that time of year again: You need breakfasts that are quick to make and eat, lunches you can pack the night before, and after-school snacks that will keep kids going strong till dinnertime. To get the school year off to a healthy start, we’ve rounded up some great ideas and easy-to-make recipes that will help get you and the kids out the door on time.

 

Breakfast in a Hurry

Pumped-up pancakes: Add some shredded kale and apples to your regular pancake batter for an extra dose of nutrients.

Yogurt parfait: Layering plain or vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit and granola makes this fun breakfast a complete — and filling — meal.

Overnight oats: Prep these the night before and your kids can dig in as soon as they get up.

Breakfast burritos (pictured above): These wraps are a hearty and healthy breakfast — perfect for kids who are extra-hungry in the morning. And if you’re really in a rush, simply wrap a scrambled egg in a tortilla and hand it to your kid on his way out the door.

Frittata: Make this yummy dish on Sunday and your kids can eat it for breakfast all week long. Read more

Raw Cheese: Good or Bad?

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, August 27, 2016

Buying artisanal, local foods, including unpasteurized cheeses made from raw milk, is very popular at the moment. Some advocates even claim that raw cheese is healthier, but of course there are two sides to every story. Read on for the pros, cons and the verdict on eating raw cheese.

The Good
According to Carlos Yescas, program director at Oldways Cheese Coalition, “the benefits of eating raw milk cheese are many, amongst the most important are the diversity of the microorganisms that are present in these cheeses.” Although there are many questions that still remain due to the complexity of the human microbiome, these microbes found in raw milk cheese can help fight infection and disease.

Many folks, including myself, have food safety concerns when it comes to raw milk cheese. Yescas explains that in order to keep food safety under control it is important to source good milk. The raw cheese producers must pay attention to the quality of the milk, which included the living conditions of the animals, the nutrition of the dairy cows, and animal husbandry. “Because the processing of raw milk will not go through pasteurization (heat treatment) it is even more important to ensure that the conditions around the milking parlor are clean and safe,” says Yescas. Further, producers are mandated to constantly train their employees, as well as follow food safety guidelines (known as HACCP) that ensure that the points of contamination where pathogens can be introduced are carefully supervised. Read more

Nutrition News: Healthy Eating and Teens, TV Ads and Kids, and Fatty Fish and Eyesight

by in Food News, Uncategorized, August 26, 2016

Healthy Eating: The Teen Scene
If you want to instill healthy-eating habits in your children, obsessing about your own weight around them is not a great idea; it may increase the risk that they will develop eating disorders or obesity during their adolescent years and beyond. That’s according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has released new guidelines on preventing obesity and eating disorders in adolescents. The AAP recommends that parents discourage their children from dieting, severely restricting their calorie intake or skipping meals. Parents should encourage healthy eating and physical activity; make family meals, where adults model healthy eating, a priority; refrain from “weight talk,” either about their own or their children’s weight, and instead focus on “healthful-eating behaviors”; steer clear of “weight teasing” and try to encourage a healthy body image overall; and be aware of bullying or extreme weight-loss efforts in overweight or obese teens. Overall, UPI notes, a focus on a healthy lifestyle, rather than a weight, is the way to go. Read more

5 Lighter-Than-Usual Cocktails Starring Summer Fruit

by in Healthy Recipes, August 25, 2016

Health experts unanimously agree that light or zero alcohol consumption is better than heavy or even moderate drinking, and we can’t argue with that. But for those of us content to live life by the “in moderation” mantra, the best we can do is steer clear of the true nutritional disasters: thick, creamy daiquiris and sickeningly sweet juice cocktails that pack half a day’s calories or more. On the other hand, light, effervescent drinks sweetened with whole fruit or homemade fruit juices will give you a buzz and a few additional nutrients. If you’re looking to get a little bit tipsy without going overboard, this is the way to drink — and we have a few cocktail recipes that will help keep happy-hour excess in check.

Pink Derby
This glamorous pink cocktail is best suited for the pageantry of the Kentucky Derby, but it will fit in with grace and ease at any other summer soiree. To make it healthier, the chefs in Food Network Kitchen used honey in place of white processed sugar, and the gorgeous pink hue comes from a blend of watermelon, kiwi and lime juices.

Read more

Celery Was the Star in This Week’s CSA

by in In Season, Uncategorized, August 24, 2016

This week’s CSA from Mountain View Farm included bright-green celery tops, fragrant as ever. It was about time for celery to stand up and say, “Notice me!” Celery leaves don’t receive the attention they deserve. The hearts are diced for crunch in salads, added to mirepoix for soups or enjoyed raw as a crunchy snack, but the fragrant leaves are often forgotten — and they’re among my favorite culinary secrets.

Plopping a trimmed celery top into your weekend brunch-time Bloody Mary for a colorful garnish is fine. But wouldn’t you rather pluck off the leaves to use in a vibrant pesto with Parmigiano-Reggiano? Not to mention, celery leaves make a bright, herbaceous addition to nutty grain salads and hearty chickpea dishes.

These delicate green leaves can be used pretty much anywhere in place of parsley. For the best leaves, look for full celery bunches with the dark outer green stalks still attached. The trimmed celery hearts usually available at the grocery store have been stripped of most of their beautiful leaves.

Then store them properly for a longer shelf life by plucking off the leaves (you can reserve the dark-green fibrous stalks for making stock or soups) rinsing them under cool water and wrapping them in a damp towel. Store the leaves in your humidity-controlled refrigerator drawer in an opened plastic bag for use in your next meal. Read more