The New World of Sodas

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, January 24, 2017

Love a fizzy beverage but know better than to reach for the usual can of high-sugar soda? If you’re mindful about nutrition but enjoy something sweet and bubbly, these four better-for-you choices might be for you.

 

Soda Specifics

A can of a traditional soda contains carbonated water spiked with high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, flavorings and possibly caffeine. Many also include phosphoric acid. You don’t need to be a nutrition expert to know that soda can be bad for you. Aside from all the empty calories, all those processed ingredients can have a negative impact on digestion and bone health. There are some sodas on the scene that use better quality ingredients and cut back on some of the sugar by using fruit juice. Despite the higher end quality of these sparkling drinks, it’s still best to sip in moderation.

 

San Pellegrino Fruit Beverages

Juices of citrus, pomegranate and prickly pear are combined with sugar and carbonated water. These taste fairly sweet, so it’s a nice idea to dilute with some San Pellegrino sparkling water. Try the Aranciata Rossa (blood orange) for a sweet and sour treat. Read more

Vermouth Is New Again

by in Food News & Trends, January 22, 2017

If you ever snuck a swig from that dusty bottle of vermouth in your grandfather’s liquor cabinet, you may have decided vermouth is not for you. But it’s time to give vermouth another taste. Not only is the herbaceous cocktail ingredient totally on-trend, but the low alcohol-by-volume (ABV) of vermouth makes it a low-calorie sipper to help keep your healthy new resolutions.

A fortified wine (yes, it’s a wine,) vermouth begins as red or white wine, that is then fortified with brandy. Up to 40 botanicals are also added to make each brand a unique cocktail-in-a-bottle. Botanical aromatics range from cinnamon, cardamom and anise to grapefruit floral and rhubarb.

‘Vermouth’ comes from the German word Wermut, meaning wormwood, and was originally created for its medicinal properties. Bitter, aromatic wormwood remains a signature ingredient in most vermouths, however subtle. Sipping a vermouth aperitif or digestive is popular way to enjoy it. Of course, it’s also essential in the Negroni and the gin martini – shaken, not stirred!

There are three basic categories of vermouth:

Dry
Along with the sub-category of extra-dry, dry vermouths begin as white wine and are not sweet. They often contain flavors of fresh green herbs, fennel, nutmeg, bitter orange, lemon, grapefruit and light floral. A popular brand is Noilly Prat Original Dry.

Sweet Blanc
These vermouths also originate as white wines and have a touch more sweetness than dry, however, they are not sweet sippers. Blancs are aromatized with tart apple, citrus, stone fruit blossom, elderflower, thyme and toasted butter. Look for Dolin Blanc.

Sweet Rosso/Red
With beginnings as red wine, these sweeter bottles contain rich aromas of cola, cinnamon, prune, spice, licorice and vanilla toffee. Martini & Rossi’s Rosso is popular.

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Are You An Exercise “Non-Responder?” Don’t Give Up Hope!

by in Fitness, January 21, 2017

Exercise is supposed to be the answer for myriad health concerns – from cardio-respiratory fitness and blood pressure maintenance to weight control – but there are those of us who may feel that, no matter how much we exercise, we don’t see much in the way of results. Turns out, it may not be in our heads.

Fitness experts estimate that anywhere from 20 to 45 percent of those who undertake a form of regular exercise experience no measurable physiological change as a result – and they even have a name for us: non-responders.

“Although it would appear to be intuitive that all previously untrained and sedentary individuals undertaking exercise can expect positive changes to their physiological function and overall health, the scientific literature is quite clear that for a segment of the population this is indeed not the case,” says Lance Dalleck, associate professor of exercise and sport science and director of the Center for Wellness and Human Performance at Western State Colorado University, who has done research on non-responders.

One unfortunate effect of the phenomenon is that non-responders can become frustrated with their lack of progress and decide it’s not worth it to stick with their exercise program – or, really, any exercise program.

But recent research has indicated non-responders to one form of exercise may yet respond to another, and so it may be just a matter of finding the right exercise program for you. That study, which was conducted Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and the University of Ottawa, determined that non-responders could benefit by swapping out one form of exercise for another. Read more

A Look Inside Healthy Grain Bowls

by in Cookbooks, January 20, 2017

Grain bowls are trending, and there’s an art to making these one-dish creations. I called on the expertise of Carolynn Carreño, author of Bowl of Plenty: Recipes for Healthy and Delicious Whole-Grain Meals on how to make bowls that are as beautiful and balanced as they are delicious.

  1. What inspired you to write an entire cookbook on one-dish whole grain meals?

Eating bowls filled with grains and topped with smaller amounts of deliciousness has been my way of keeping myself healthy and feeling good for years. I had some pretty serious, chronic issues with my health, and the way I got better was by restricting a lot of foods from my diet. But there was no way that was going to last forever. Eating and cooking in a non-restrictive, “gourmet” way is a major part of my life. I test recipes for cookbook collaborations. I travel to other countries, such as Italy and Mexico, and I want to experience the foods of those places. I go to food events and I go out to eat about every other night in New York City. Plus, I just love good food.

I didn’t want to deprive myself, so as I started to feel better, I kept myself introducing small portions of what I call “the good stuff”—flavorful proteins and dairy and condiments—onto piles of steamed brown rice (quinoa came later, and then farro and the rest) and Brussels sprouts or broccoli.  I’d put a tiny portion of shredded Mexican pork on a big bowl of brown rice with some black beans and broccoli for good measure. It was a middle ground between healthy and delicious that allowed me to have everything I wanted, without feeling like I got ran over by a truck the next day. When grain bowls went mainstream, I wanted to show the world that there can be so much more to a grain bowl than pink hummus and watermelon radishes. Read more

Order This, Not That: Wendy’s

by in Chefs and Restaurants, January 19, 2017

Out of all the fast food restaurants in the country, Wendy’s was recently rated the top fast food joint in a poll by Ranker. With many folks frequenting this popular restaurant, be prepared with these better-for-you choices. Read more

What to Know About Functional Beverages

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, Food News & Trends, January 18, 2017

Ever since the juice bar craze, we’ve come to expect more from what we drink. Here’s a closer look at three popular functional beverage options, and the evidence behind their health claims.

 

Drinking Vinegar

While adding apple cider vinegar to your diet won’t cure cancer or the flu, it may be a secret weapon in keeping blood sugar levels under control. Unlike the more outrageous claims made by proponents of apple cider vinegar, there is enough evidence that consuming it may decrease the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance. The high acetic acid content in vinegar inhibits the enzymes that help you digest carbohydrates, thereby producing a smaller blood sugar response after eating. As an added benefit, this undigested starch becomes food for the good bacteria in your gut, acting as a prebiotic that supports overall digestion and a healthier immune system. While there seems to be a big push in using apple cider vinegar, any vinegar will get the job done. Acetic acid, the carbohydrate-inhibiting ingredient, is present in all vinegars, so feel free to use whatever one you enjoy best. Additionally, you don’t have to drink the vinegar to get the benefits — eating your favorite salad with a vinegar-based dressing will work just as well. Read more

Myth or Fact? Artificially-Colored Foods Are Bad for You

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, Is It Healthy?, January 17, 2017

Ever wonder how some of your favorite foods are made? And if they’re supposed to be that color? We’re cracking the code on some infamous colored foods to find out if they naturally occur that way or if they had some help.

Color Me Unhealthy?
Many beloved foods we eat everyday are doctored with colorings to improve visual appeal. In some cases these colorful enhancements are food based and therefore safe, but others have potentially harmful chemical infusions. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, eating these synthetic dyes may pose harm and cause behavioral problems, especially in children.

Highly processed foods like soda, commercial baked goods, candy, frozen treats, salty snacks (think cheese doodles) and kids’ breakfast cereals are some of the worst and most obvious offenders. Potentially dangerous yellow 5, red 40 and red 3 dyes are found in numerous foods, and have been linked to behavioral problems and allergic reactions. Europe has imposed strict regulations on the use of these coloring agents, but in the United States progress has been much slower. Some U.S. chains and manufacturers including Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Panera, General Mills and Nestle don’t sell products with dyes and/or are beginning to remove them from some of their products. Here are 4 foods that might raise a colorful flag. Read more

Fitness Fundamentals: Building a Better Plank

by in Fitness, January 15, 2017

I’ve never been one to make (and then feel bad about breaking) a bunch of New Year’s resolutions. But I am determined to make 2017 The Year of the Ab. My abs, specifically. Because even though I’m fit—I run several times a week, hike, ski, rock climb and do the occasional yoga class—my middle is still kind of mushy.

If you’re in a similar situation, feel free to join me in a year long plank-a-thon. Rumor has it not only will our abs be rock hard, but our posture will improve and our backs will be stronger too. “Done correctly, a plank is an isometric contraction of all the muscles that stabilize the spine, hips and shoulder girdle,” explains Christa Bache, MA, a personal trainer in New York City. “It is truly a whole body exercise.” The key words there are “done correctly.” The plank is all about form, so here, Bache shares some tips for getting the most out of every plank: Read more

Here’s What Happened When I Took Probiotics For 30 Days

by in Food & Nutrition Experts, January 14, 2017

Probiotic supplements claim to improve digestive and immune health, but how can you know if they really do what they say? I decided to do a 30-day probiotic experiment to test out these claims.

The facts about probiotics

Your gut contains more than 100 trillion live bacteria, known as probiotics. Although bacteria are generally regarded as a bad thing, probiotics are considered “good bacteria” and are essential for a healthy digestive tract and immune system function. The body does a good job of maintaining its own probiotic levels, but certain things like an unhealthy diet, undue stress or a harsh round of antibiotics, can cause imbalances or disturbances in your natural “good bacteria”. That’s where probiotic supplements come into play. In one small capsule, you can reintroduce billions of live cultures with diverse strains to your gut.

My 30-day test

Although I eat a pretty healthy diet and exercise regularly, I decided to take a probiotic for 30 days to see what all the hype was about. Specifically, I paid very close attention to changes in my digestive tract or immune system. Although I had seen the research on the benefits of probiotics, I was pretty skeptical about taking any type of supplement (since they are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)). Yet, I did my homework and found that there was little to no downside to taking a probiotic. Before we dive in, I want to note that my experience is completely anecdotal and may not be the same for everyone.  Read more

3 Easy Ways to Organize Your Kitchen

by in Healthy Tips, January 13, 2017

Those shiny new appliances you received as holiday gifts need spots in your kitchen, so it’s time to organize. Here are three tactics to get you started, without being overwhelmed by the task.

Declutter, then donate

Decluttering can be daunting, especially if your entire household’s stuff ends up in the kitchen. So focus on tossing out extras of the following items; you’ll be energized by the fact that you will have a couple of bags to donate in no time.

  • Matching dishes – Two plates, two bowls, two glasses for each family member. Use disposable when you need extra for a party.
  • Silverware – Again, two spoons, forks, and knives for everyone. They can wash dishes, right?
  • Reusable water bottles – Each family member needs only one. Done.
  • Kitchen utensils – Toss anything cracked. Nasty bacteria builds up in tattered spatulas. If it pains you to part with that cool doohickey from your dear neighbor, think how much joy someone else will have from finding it at the resale shop.
  • Plastic food containers – They should all have lids, and all fit neatly inside each other. Toss the misfits.
  • Pots and pans – You don’t need six sauté pans. Here’s the pots you do need and how to organize them.

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