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The Case for Wheat

We enjoy a variety of breads and grains in our kitchen since nobody in my household suffers from gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease. As I’m sure you are aware “Gluten Free Diets” are very popular these days, even among those who physiologically have no intolerance to gluten. There is popular belief that gluten is bad for all – this is not true. Unless you have Celiac Disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), there’s no evidence that shows any health benefits to avoiding gluten. It’s estimated that anywhere from 1 in 100 to 150 people have Celiac Disease (once properly diagnosed, seek nutrition care). This also means that 99 of 100 people don’t have a problem with gluten.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. These grains contribute fiber and important vitamins and minerals to the diet. Wheat is actually higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate than other cereal grains (like corn or rice). People with Celiac Disease (a disease of the small intestine) can’t properly digest gluten.

Over recent years, awareness for Celiac Disease has increased and in 2013 the FDA reviewed the labeling regulations for “Gluten Free” products to ensure they are clear of gluten. On a recent trip sponsored by General Mills, I learned they revised the way they package Cheerios® to ensure the product is completely gluten-free (Cheerios® are made with oats, which are gluten-free, but the new FDA guideline requires insurance that no gluten was touched through processing and packaging).

cerealMuffin

Oat & wheat cereals with nuts and dried fruit over yogurt. Breakfast cereals improve dietary profiles, so enjoying cereal with milk in the morning can ensure the intake of nutrients of concern (those often lacking in the typical American diet – Vitamins C, A, D and the mineral calcium)

Are you avoiding gluten for no good reason?

It’s understandable, if you have some belly aches or gastrointestinal distress from time to time, you may think “Hmn, I wonder if going gluten-free will help?”

The problem with elimination diets, is that it’s difficult to determine exactly what aspect of the foods you eliminate brings the change (in how you feel, or your weight for instance). The other risk you take when eliminating foods or food groups is nutrient deficiency or imbalance.

If you substitute an egg and fruit (~150 calories) for the 300 calorie bagel you used to have for breakfast; or you  eat a salad with tuna (~150 calories) for lunch instead of a tuna salad sandwich (~300 calories), you’ve created a calorie deficit, and therefore some weight loss. If someone removes all of the wheat products from their diet however – no toast, bagels, buns, pasta, wheat or bran cereals, or rolls with dinner – it may also result in vitamin deficiency.

At the end of the day, calories do matter, and it’s the calorie deficit – not the avoidance of bread or wheat – that promotes weight loss. You can however balance the carbohydrate, protein and fat in your diet, while including bread and grains.

If You Don’t have Celiac Disease, Don’t Avoid Wheat!

Wheat is a member of the grass family, and wheat flour is the most widely used grain in the United States, therefore has the potential to provide a lot of nutrients as well as fiber to the American Diet. Wheat products such as whole wheat breads and grain products such as wheat cereals, whole wheat couscous and pasta, all provide fiber to the diet. These foods also help create delicious and enjoyable meals!

Many studies have shown the benefits of consuming grains. Including whole grains in the diet may reduce your risk for heart disease and certain cancers. There are a variety of ways to include whole grains in the diet which may include consuming whole grain breads, whole grain cereals, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta.

In addition, cereal and bread products are fortified with vitamins and minerals (nutrition professionals know these added micronutrients as “nutrients of concern” – which means that a large part of the population are at risk for not getting enough of these nutrients in the diet).

Some may ask – Why fortify or enrich?

“If cereals or flours made with wheat don’t have folic acid in them, why add it? And if milling removes some vitamins, why process them?”

There is a good reason we fortify some foods with certain vitamins and minerals – it’s an effective way to reach a large population and prevent deficiency. For instance, since 1941, we’ve been enriching refined grain products with iron and three B vitamins (thiamin, niacin and riboflavin). Years ago, many people suffered from deficiency diseases such as beriberi and pellegra. These two diseases are corrected simply by ensuring there is enough thiamin and niacin in the diet. In 1998, folic acid was also added as part of the enrichment process after it was determined that a diet deficient in folic acid (another B vitamin) was connected to birth defects, specifically neural tube defects.

Enriching common food products with these essential vitamins is a safe and simple way to ensure public health across the board. These essential vitamins are added to foods that everyone has easy access to.

Final Word

If you are suffering from gastrointestinal or other medical problems, you should follow up with your doctor. If you have a confirmed disease, diet therapy is important, and you should see a registered dietitian who is trained in that area. In any case, chew the facts about gluten and wheat. If you don’t have Celiac Disease or NCGS, enjoy variety in your diet!

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Gaming for Nutrition

I caught up with Melissa Halas-Liang, mom, dietitian and founder of the popular children’s nutrition site SuperKidsNutrition.com to ask her about her new free app, FoodLeap and her thoughts on helping kids eat healthier.

Can you share with my readers, the new research on incentivizing healthy food choices and also discuss using foods as rewards.

Well, you definitely don’t want to reward good behavior in general with unhealthful food choices. For example, giving a donut to your child if they make it through church quietly isn’t going to make them want to eat vegetables. In fact, it teaches children to treat junk food like gold. When you offer a food as a reward, children begin to believe that food holds special value. So the donut, for example becomes excessively glorified. It teaches that junk food is more important than healthy food. It’s also confusing because it’s saying, “do something good, like behave, and I’ll give you something bad for your body.” These foods should be enjoyed separate from behavior and not consumed everyday.

Parents who struggle with picky eaters often hear that if they offer healthy foods, avoid using pressure tactics, and act as positive role models, their kids will eventually eat their veggies. But what happens when this doesn’t work?

We’re starting to see that rewarding healthy food choices with small prizes or praise results in kids trying and accepting new healthy foods, in effect incentivizing good habits in kids. One new study found that when parents offered their kids the same fruit or vegetable on several occasions and gave them a small, tangible reward for tasting it, the kids consumed more of the new food and were more likely to learn to like it. Another study found really good results in fruit and veggie intakes among kids when parents, schools, and supermarkets offered fruits and vegetables in a more fun and visually appealing way.

Eating out gets a bad rap? How can parents give their kids nutritious meals if they’re eating out?

While that’s the common belief that homemade meals are best, you actually can feed your child healthy foods at restaurants. In fact, some of the menu options provided by restaurants participating in the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program may even prove to be more nutritious than homemade meals! It all depends on what choices you make at restaurants.

To get your kids interested in making healthy choices when dining out, try the new fun and FREE app, FoodLeap available on iphone and ipad. In the game, Super Baby Abigail leaps and bounds through the different colored levels of Rainbow Road, catching and collecting healthful, colorful foods while outsmarting hostile kitchenware (tea cups, tongs, spoons). Each healthful food gives a dose of antioxidant power to boost Abigail’s speed, so she can leap over or fly through the obstacles, moving faster to the next level. As she completes each level of Rainbow Road, she unlocks fun and tasty facts about the foods that she’s captured.

SKNBerries Food Leap

Just like reading books can bring up conversation on important topics, games can do the same. After you play Food Leap, you can engage in conversations about your favorite ways to you enjoy the healthy foods featured in the game. FoodLeap also links to the free Kids LiveWell app, which helps you locate a restaurant that offers healthy kids choices.

 SKNgame

How do you combat society’s constant lure towards junk and living an unhealthy lifestyle?

First, be committed to the change you want to see in the world. These words are famous for a reason! You have to demand quality foods as a consumer—if you show a demand, restaurants and the industry will respond.  You’re going against the grain by doing this, and it may not be easy. 60% of overweight 5-10 year olds already have 1 precursor to heart disease—we clearly need to change how we eat as a nation.  By giving in and fitting in, you’re not saying “yes” to health. So step out of your comfort zone and really be an advocate for your health. And as a consumer, always watch out for:

  • Commercial influence, including, TV ads, magazines, magazine ads, billboards, and posters in public places like the subway. These marketing tools are trying to get you to choose foods that are not good for your body. As parents, we should demand that companies start using cartoon characters not to entice children toward junk but toward healthy foods! This is actually one of the reasons the Super Crew kids are so important to me. Let’s reverse the trend and make cartoons, like the Super Crew, appear only on foods that are good for kids minds and bodies!
  • Always plan ahead, and don’t go hungry!  Make sure you’re bringing a healthy dish when you go to parties.  Be prepared for play dates and sports events by bringing your own snacks. 
  • Peer influence—whether you’re 5 or 50, we are all influenced by our peers’ food choices, many of which are not good for health.  Whether it’s diet soda, chemical cuisines, sweetened beverages, salt or sugar laden pre-packaged foods, etc.—probably 80% of calories come from those foods. So put your needs first, smile and graciously don’t let the choices of others impact your choices.
  • When they’re young, teach your kids the difference between choices that make their body feel, look, and think its best. Make them aware of what advertisers are doing the next time you see a TV advertisement with a cartoon sponsoring a junk food. It’s not always going to be easy; it will be challenging.  But as a parent, you want to make the right choice, not the easy choice. Luckily, games like FoodLeap are being created to help reverse the trend by using cartoons and games to actually encourage kids to be healthy, to eat nourishing foods, and to be active.

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Rainy Day on the Farm

I’m in western Pennsylvania this week at the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics conference and expo, which offered a pre-conference tour of Soergel’s Beef Farm, a local area farm. It was a rainy day, and quite chilly, which prevented us from really touring the grounds, but we had to chance to listen to Warren Soergel, who works on the farm that his uncle owns.

Was too muddy for a full tour today.

Was too muddy for a full tour today.

Over the past few years, dietitians have had the opportunity to tour a variety of farms as part of our continuing education requirements. As consumers want to know more about where their food comes from, and the media often misinterprets the facts, I’m always eager to see farms in action, learn more about agriculture, and talk with farmers.

AMEfarmtour

Farmers love the land, their animals, and their families. Here are a few things you may not think about when you think about farmers:

  • They aren’t like “Old MacDonald. They may not wear overalls, and they are more often than not college educated
  • Many farmers have Bachelor of Science degrees in Animal Science or Agriculture
  • Farming is a science
  • Farming is an industry that strives for efficiency – using the least amount of energy, for the most output
  • Farmers often refer to “feeding the rumen, not the cow”. The nutrition formula, or “ration”, they use is very specific to maintain the pH of the rumen, and also promote growth.
  • Hormones that are used in cattle production (testosterone and estrogen) to enhance growth and reduce production costs, are delivered via an ear implant. The difference between beef from an implanted cow versus one not given the hormone implant is insignificant. Beef from an implanted cow contains .06-.09 nanograms estrogen per ounce. Beef from a non-implanted cow contains .03-.06 nanograms per ounce. A nanogram is one billionth of a gram, and would be visually equivalent to a blade of grass in a football field. So don’t be worried about “hormones in meat” (and they are always naturally present anyhow).
  • Almost every cattle corral is designed using the concepts of Temple Grandin.
cowcoraleAME2016

Cattle corral for this small farm

To learn more visit the Pennsylvania Beef Council – where you’ll find recipes, nutrition information, and more.

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Easy Cheesy Shrimp Grits

I love good food, but day in and day out cooking can be a drag to me sometimes. Weeknight meals are generally simple ones that I can throw together quickly with what’s in the pantry. On weekdays, I try to eat my salad or veggies at lunchtime, in case I’m short at dinner (which, yes, sometimes happens for this dietitian). I also keep convenient items on hand, such as frozen shrimp, frozen peas, frozen bread dough, frozen onions and peppers, pasta, rice (including quick cooking rice), grain mixes, and quick cooking grits.

I’ll often use frozen shrimp as a protein to throw together with pasta and veggies. This week, I made this simple comfort dish, and thought I’d share it here.

www.rustnutrition.com

www.rustnutrition.com

Easy Cheesy Shrimp-N-Grits

Serves 2

Ingredients

1/2 cup Quick cooking Grits

pinch of salt

6 ounces Frozen shrimp

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 cup shredded smoked Gruyere or cheddar cheese

Freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Bring 2 1/4 cup water to boiling, adding salt if desired. Slowly add grits, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cover, and occasionally stir (watch closely) to be sure grits aren’t sticking.
  2. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  3. While grits are cooking, heat medium pan until hot, add olive oil, onions and garlic, cook until the onions are soft, then add shrimp and sauté for about 5 minutes. Keep warm.
  4. After grits are done, remove from heat, and stir in shredded cheese until smooth.
  5. Spoon cheese grits into bowls, top with shrimp and cracked pepper.

Enjoy!

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Will GMO-free Labeling Really Sell?

One of the reasons I started writing this blog was to help people search out the facts about nutrition, food, and diet trends, and sort out the false claims and fear-mongering headlines. With factual information, you can make better choices that are right for you (your health, and your food budget), avoid false promises, and enjoy eating for better health.

I’ve written about GMOs before, and they continue to be a hotly debated topic in the news. Many “controversial” topics often bring emotions into the opinions and reactions, but I encourage you to consider the facts, and also consider the source, giving credit to scientists who are evaluating scientific topics.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • At the moment, there is consensus among the scientific community siding with the safety of genetically modified foods on the market.
  • The most popular “issue” seems to be labeling. This is usually presented as a “right to know” argument
  • Many behind the labeling push are political advocacy groups affiliated with the Organic food industry (e.g. US Right to Know, Just Label It). The push for mandated labeling is perplexing since by definition, the Certified Organic label already requires the food is GMO-free
  • Labeling laws are being proposed in some states across the country, and mostly getting rejected.

So while the labeling proponents claim that they want all foods, that may contain GMO ingredients, labeled as such in the name of “your safety”, it seems that there could be an ulterior motive. I’m not against choice – I feel everyone should be able to put what they want in their cart, just don’t misinterpret a “GMO-free” food as better or healthier. And don’t force companies to change how they label their products when consumers already have a choice to choose Certified Organic if they want to.

My beef with the whole thing is when food manufacturers start slapping health claims or other claims on packaging, it does more to mislead the customer rather than inform. This has happened for years. In many cases products are labeled as “free” of something they never even contained. For instance in the 80s and 90s everything was labeled “cholesterol free” even if they did not contain cholesterol in the first place. “Sugar free” ice creams or apple pies are labeled as such since no sugar was “added”, but they may still contain natural sugars from the milk or fruit. Foods such as peanuts (peanuts have never contained gluten) or potato chips that naturally don’t contain gluten are labeled Gluten-free giving a false “health-halo” notion to shoppers.

gmoFreeMeme

www.rustnutrition.com

The GMO labeling will bring the same confusion, and will provide no useful information to customers concerned about choosing a balanced diet to improve their health. It’s already encouraging food manufacturers to slap random labels on their products.

My Plea to Food Companies

Just yesterday Del Monte announced that they are moving away from GMO ingredients. Sadly, Vani Hari, aka Food Babe, endorsed this move as super-awesome-great-news!. Worse, Del Monte publicly applauded Vani on Twitter and happily accepted being part of the “Food Babe Army” (aka a bunch of people with little to no food science background who protest food ingredients for no good reason).

Last fall Chobani announced their products would be “GMO Free”. And of course you’ve likely heard all about Chipotle, and their “food integrity” campaign which shuns GMOs.

Please stop.

I understand that food marketing is about a bottom line. Without sales, there’s no company. Food marketers are constantly looking at their target consumer, and will cater to them no matter what. It seems that whatever the consumer wants on the label, is put there to sell more of the product. Such is the case for many of the voluntary GMO-free products on the market. Some companies have caved and removed all GMO ingredients in an effort to please the consumer. Some companies may even admit that they know there is no safety issue or functionality issue for the change in ingredients, they are literally doing it only to please the confused consumer.

GMO Crops Currently Available

DelMonte is now labeling their fruits and vegetables as GMO Free. But guess what? There are no GMO peaches or peas! There are currently nine GMO crops on the market, and one of them isn’t food (cotton). A GMO apple (non-browning) will also soon be on the market:

  1. Corn (Feed corn is both insect resistant and herbicide tolerant. Corn for humans is insect resistant)
  2. Soybeans (insect resistant, herbicide tolerant)
  3. Sugar beets (herbicide tolerant)
  4. Alfalfa (herbicide tolerant)
  5. Canola (herbicide tolerant)
  6. Papaya (disease resistant)
  7. Potatoes (reduced bruising, non browning)
  8. Squash (disease resistant)
  9. Cotton (insect resistant and herbicide tolerant. )

This list are foods that MAY be genetically modified, and does not mean that for instance, all potatoes are GMO.

To learn more about the science behind GMO and biotechnology visit GMO Answers.

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A Fresh Start this Spring: Adding Flavor with Less Salt

There’s something about spring. It’s a time for fresh starts and fresh air.  National Nutrition Month® is all about celebrating eating for good health, and springtime somehow gives us a boost – helps us want to make some healthy changes in our lives.HTNwithherbsphoto

While salt is a common and important seasoning when it comes to cooking, there are ways to add flavor without it. If not eliminating salt, you can certainly use less. Springtime is a perfect time to begin experimenting with fresh salt-free seasonings. If you are trying to follow the DASH Diet, you will be working on reducing the sodium in your cooking and diet. And since DASH Diet is a great plan for weight loss, you may as well get ready for summer now! Consider:

  • Citrus. It’s amazing what a fresh squeeze of lemon can do to a dish! You may try squeezing fresh lemon juice onto baked chicken or fish dishes, or even in places you might not think about – like pasta or rice.
  • Herbs.
    • Fresh rosemary can turn an ordinary potato or sauteed squash into something extraordinary. This is a great time of year to start a kitchen herb garden.
    • Cilantro brighten up tomato dishes, fresh salsa, poultry, rice pilaf or quinoa.
    • Herbs de Provence are such a special combination. Sprinkle them onto a vegetable medley or poultry dish.
  • Use Vegetables. Chopped green onions, leeks, garlic, peppers – all add great color, flavor and even nutrients to your dishes. Mincing vegetables into a dish can really boost flavor and nutrition.
  • You can also use fruit in different ways. Try this Sweet Potato Salad with Mango Curry Dressing for your next family gathering.

Cooking a few more meals at home and trying a few simple changes each week, can reduce your sodium intake, while still savoring the flavors of healthy food. Cheers to your health!

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Hello Little Black Dress. Goodbye Mindless Snacking

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.
Guest Blog by Regular Girl

It’s Spring. Every girl has to have a knockout little black dress. Look sensational in yours by eliminating mindless snacking which may add unneeded calories to your day (and inches to your hips). When you head straight to the RegularGirlHEARTkitchen for a snack after work or empty that chip bowl while streaming your favorite shows, it’s not because you’re hungry. You’re just not feeling satisfied. Studies show Regular Girl’s soluble fiber helps provide that contented feeling. It helps you achieve satiety – that feeling of being full – which may have a big effect on your waistline.

Achieving satiety

Calories alone don’t help you feel full. Many breakfast foods have the same amount of calories, but that bowl of oatmeal does a better job of stopping the mid-morning munchies than a slice of white toast. Foods high in fiber, protein or water help you stave off hunger and achieve satiety. Foods rich in soluble fiber, such as beans and peas are especially helpful, as they slow down the digestion of food, keeping you feeling fuller longer. Unfortunately, most of us don’t consume enough daily fiber. The average adult consumes just 15 grams daily, far short of the 25 -38 grams of daily fiber recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

The Regular Girl difference

Regular Girl includes clinically proven Sunfiber. This gluten-free soluble fiber helps you achieve satiety and reduce that mindless snacking. Sunfiber’s unique composition also helps control blood sugar, which may also help reduce your cravings.

Studies have also shown that soluble fiber helps lower blood cholesterol levels. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services reports that 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber per day may reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol by up to five percent.

Unlike other fiber supplements, Sunfiber is a helpful prebiotic which supports the beneficial bacteria residing in your gut. This also helps prevent the uncomfortable gas, bloating and diarrhea associated with some other fiber supplements. Combine this with Regular Girl’s helpful probiotics and you may have just what you need to help keep your body and your figure in tip-top shape.

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.

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Flavor Meets Lifestyle on the Road to Health

When you think about “healthy eating”, does “food that tastes good” come to mind? The National Nutrition Month theme, Savor the Flavor of Eating Right, encourages you to enjoy a healthy diet. Flavor definitely rules when it comes to choosing foods to eat, but of course health matters too. Can you have both? Absolutely! NNM2016_meme2

Eating right has to fit your lifestyle. This is why it’s a great idea to meet with a registered dietitian online (RDN), in person, or pick up a few books written by RDNs, to figure out where you are, and what goals you may set. There are many things to consider when choosing what to eat:

  • What is your schedule like?
  • Do you skip meals?
  • Are you overweight? Muscular?
  • Do you have food sensitivities?
  • Do you have a disease or health problem that requires nutrition therapy?
  • Are you an athlete?

There are also many different reasons to apply different diets:

  • For instance, if you have metabolic syndrome or diabetes, you should track carbohydrates, and may benefit from a low glycemic diet. Rather than view the Glycemic Index as a quick fix or fad, consider our approach in The Glycemic Index Cookbook For Dummies – it’s simply a tool to use as a way to help you choose a healthy diet. Choosing a diet with foods lower in GI, has many similarities to other healthy diets – such as the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet.
  • If you have a family history of heart disease or high blood pressure, the DASH Diet may be a good fit for you.
  • If you are an athlete, you’ll need to pay close attention to amount of calories, carbohydrate and protein you eat.
  • If you are pregnant or lactating, you also have very special nutrition needs.
  • Children and older adults have different nutrition needs compared to younger adults

chocolate-mouseThe good news: All of these “conditions” can be met with a variety of flavorful, healthy food. Learning to try some new foods and test some easy cooking methods, will allow you to savor the flavors, and eat well. Yes, you can have dessert, and no, you don’t have to eat steamed vegetables! If you have never roasted a vegetable, now’s the time to try it. Not only is it super easy, it’s so much tastier!

Learn more about healthy cooking, choosing foods when dining out, and choosing healthy snacks by visiting the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

 

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Adding Protein to Your Diet

Have you noticed that when you eat a meal that includes more protein you feel fuller? This isn’t just in your head, there’s some science behind it. A new study featured in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, addressed the effect of protein intake on perceived fullness and confirmed that protein does make us feel fuller. Learning how to balance your plate, not only helps you get the nutrients your body needs, but can also help you eat the right amount of food. If you include enough protein at each meal, you may control calories at mealtime or limit excess calories from unnecessary snacking.

Fiber and protein in the diet both play a roll in satiety and “fullness”. By balancing your plate – to include fiber from fresh fruits or vegetables, and a reasonable portion of protein (perhaps 3 ounces of meat or fish, 2 eggs, a combination of beans and nuts, 8 ounces milk) you can add to the satiety factor of the meal. Of course adding dietary fat is important too, as fat also contributes greatly to satiety. Fat is calorie-dense, so you don’t need a huge amount of it. A perfect example of adding satiety would be adding 2 tablespoons of an oil-based dressing to a tossed green salad topped with a salmon filet, cottage cheese, or beans and nuts. The whole package of fiber, protein and fat, is much more satisfying as a meal than the greens alone would be.

Protein is Important but Not a Magic Bullet

Of course, simply upping your protein intake isn’t a magic weight loss bullet. As the authors of the study point out – There’s often “room for dessert” – even when we are full.  There are also many aspects of eating – your environment, how quickly or slowly you eat, whether you are distracted during eating (television, work, standing, in the car, etc) – that can impact your overall diet quality and weight management.

In addition, your body won’t absorb large doses of protein at one time, so it’s best to spread out your protein intake through the day. The amount of protein you need depends on your size, age, gender and activity level, but shooting for about 20 grams at each meal is a good idea.

Here are some examples of protein sources in your diet:

  • Eggs. Eggs are easy to prepare each egg white provide 7 grams of protein. You can hard cook 6 eggs on Sunday and then enjoy them with breakfast, lunch or as a snack through the week for an extra 7 grams of protein per egg.
  • Beef, pork, poultry, fish. Each ounce provides 7 grams of protein, so a 4 ounce portion provides about 28 grams of protein. Choose leaner varieties, and remove visible fat to reduce saturated fat content.ricotta
  • Cottage Cheese and Ricotta. While all cheese provides protein, hard cheeses are pretty calorie dense and high in saturated fat – enjoy them in smaller portions, but not as a “daily protein booster”. You get more protein with less calories from cottage cheese or ricotta. A 1/2 cup serving of Ricotta can provide 14 grams of protein, and a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese provides about 10-11 grams.
  • Nuts and Seeds. Adding 1/4 cup of nuts to a dish (stir fry, salads, vegetable) will add about 4-5 grams of protein, but realize they are calorie dense (150-200 calories per 1/4 cup). Also remember that each 1/2 cup of vegetables provides about 2 grams of protein to the diet.
  • Nut Butters. 2 TB Tablespoons of peanut butter or other nut butter provides about 8 grams protein
  • Tofu provides about 10 grams of protein per half cup.

Calories and Protein

If you are young and active, your protein choices are vast, as you may not need to worry much about calories. As you age however, it becomes even more important to get adequate protein at each meal, but it can become a challenge to get the nutrients you need with a smaller calorie load. For instance, a 55 year old woman who is 5 foot 6 inches may only require 1600-1800 calories a day to maintain her 140 pound weight. So with this mind, consider that each of these portions of food provide 7 grams of protein:

FOOD/PORTION = 7 GRAMS PROTEIN

CALORIES

Skinless chicken, 1 ounce

50

Low fat cottage cheese, 1/3 cup

60

Salmon, 1 ounce

65

Part skim ricotta, 1/4 cup

70

Egg, 1 large

75

Tofu, 1/3 cup

80

Beef sirloin, 1 ounce

90

1% Milk

100

Oats, cooked, 1-1/4 cups

180

Peanut Butter, 2 TB

190

Quinoa, 1 cup cooked

225

Adding grains to your diet is a healthy choice for fiber, vitamins and minerals, but you see that a 2 ounce portion of chicken would provide you with 14 grams of protein at only 100 calories, whereas you’d have to consume 2 cups of cooked quinoa to get 14 grams of protein (and 450 calories).

While the exact amount of protein needed to enhance fullness will vary from person to person, how you add more high quality protein to your diet, and which you choose, may depend on a number of factors that impact your weight management plan.

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It’s National Cereal Day!

natlceralDayI received a gift and a some cereals to sample from General Mills but was not paid to write this post.

cerealCabinet

Celebrating our cereal cabinet

We are a cereal household. In fact, we have a “breakfast station” in the kitchen which includes the toaster oven, cutting board, bread knife, cereal bowls, plates, utensil drawer, and yes, a cereal cabinet. So when I opened the box from General Mills, everyone in my house was excited about it.

First off, I have three sons, two teenagers and one grown. They all have enjoyed ready-to-eat cereal since a young age (Cheerios were one of their favorite finger foods, and also traveled well). The teenagers enjoy a variety of breakfast foods, including cereal. Unfortunately the high school senior often just grabs a glass of milk in the morning (but it’s better than nothing. This became a new habit – as he always used to feel like eating in the morning up until this year – but I have faith he’ll get back into breakfast soon enough). In any case, he still enjoys a bowl of cereal as either an after-school or bedtime snack every day.

My husband leaves for work every day around 6:50 am and he eats a bowl of cereal before each workday.

When I opened the gift box from General Mills my youngest said:

“Trix! I’ve only had that at the neighbors house!”

I typically am not in the habit of buying “kids cereal” on a regular basis (when my children were younger, March was notorious in my house for Lucky Charms Month), but I’m glad that I received these samples to try, since General Mills has been reducing the sugar and artificial colors in their cereals. Here’s a run down of our “taste test”.

CerealCollageSugar

When people think “kids cereal” they often think it should be avoided because it’s loaded with sugar. However the sugar content isn’t as bad as you may think. Trix, Reeses, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch all have 9 grams of sugar per serving. Golden Grahams had the most at 11 grams per serving.

Compare those to say, a Raisin Bran type cereal (18 grams sugar per serving) and it’s not all bad. Or you can compare them to many granola cereals – which have anywhere from 12 to 15 grams of sugar per serving. This would be an example of a “health halo”. Granola or bran is associated with “healthy” while “kids cereal” is associated with “too much sugar”. But in reality, this isn’t necessarily the case. And, there’s no reason not to eat the cereals that you enjoy (using serving sizes as your guide)!

Keep in mind that a bowl of cereal is just one small part of your diet. You or your children can enjoy sugar-sweetened cereal occasionally by balancing your overall diet. Children who enjoy a bowl of cereal with milk also benefit from the protein, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and riboflavin from the milk. A quick bowl of cereal with milk will always beat “no breakfast”, and is also a better snack when you are craving something sweet, than say, a candy bar or piece of cake.

Colors

Foods that contain artificial colors have also been ridiculed over the years, even though the ingredients are on the FDA GRAS list. General Mills has committed to removing artificial flavors and colors and are using natural ingredients (turmeric and fruit and vegetable juices for example) to color cereals such as Trix®.

Taste Test

My kids have been enjoying every box of cereal, and I tried them all too. I really liked the Trix® cerealBowl(which I admit to not having had in a long time) but the Reese’s (even though it had no more sugar in it than the others) tasted too sweet to me. My sons’ favorites remain the Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios.

As a mom I don’t fret over every gram of sugar (or fat or sodium) that my children consume. I know I’m providing a balanced diet – including fresh fruit and vegetables every day – and they have become very good at making their own choices, and self-regulating portions and what they need each day.

 

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