Beef: Know Your Cut

I will be blogging this month about how you can incorporate beef into your healthy diet. These posts are sponsored by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative and the Pennsylvania Beef Council, but are expressions of my own.

My goal is to help you enjoy eating for better health. This sure doesn’t mean giving up the foods you love. My regular readers know I subscribe to a philosophy of “everything in moderation”. Yet many consumers are still confused about how “red meat” can fit into a healthy diet.

As co-author of two books that discuss diet and cardiovascular (heart) disease, I am well aware of the importance of a balanced diet. While I’m always striving to encourage you to add more fruits and vegetables, lean meats fit onto the plate too. It’s all about balance. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s DASH Diet guidelines recommend that 27% of your calories come from fat, with only 6% of those calories as saturated fat.

Low in saturated fat, a 3 ounce portion of lean beef provides only 17-19% of your daily fat allowance, so it can easily fit into that guideline. It’s important to know your cuts of beef, and incorporate lean cuts into your diet most often.

Improvements to Nutrition Profile

According to the beef checkoff, the past four decades have seen an estimated 44% reduction in available total fat, and a 29% reduction in saturated fat per capita, contributed by beef. This was a result of the changes in cattle breeding and management, and trimming practices, by processors, retailers and foodservice operators.

As part of my National Nutrition Month® blogging this month, I am going to share some facts with you each week about today’s beef so that you can “Put Your Best Fork Forward®”!

Labeling Lingo

When grocery shopping, it’s always a good idea to check labels and the Nutrition Facts panel. 

Here are a few terms to look for when shopping for beef:

  • Lean beef is less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol, per 3.5 ounces.
  • Extra Lean Beef is less than 5 grams total fat, less than 2 grams saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5 ounces.

Look for these cuts:

  • Extra Lean ground beef (96%, 4%)
  • Bottom Round Steak (select grade)
  • Sirloin Steak
  • Sirloin Tip (select grade)
  • Top Sirloin Petite Roast Boneless (select grade)
  • Top Sirloin Steak, boneless center cut

I realize however, that budgets are important too. Don’t fret if you pick up a package of beef that is a bit higher in fat. You can make adjustments in the way you cook it, and in the portion, as well as how you balance out the whole meal with vegetables and grains. Or, perhaps your family really enjoys a chuck roast or a T-bone steak? Enjoy those for special occasions, and use the lean cuts guide to gauge weekly shopping choices.

Going Against the Grain

Some leaner cuts of beef may be tough if you don’t prepare them properly. Cuts such as bottom round steak or sirloin tip, can be marinated to improve tenderness. How you cut the steak or roast can also impact tenderness. You may have heard the advice to “cut against the grain”. What does that mean? Well, the “grain” refers to the bundles of long muscle fibers that are parallel to one another. When you slice these steaks, you want to slice perpendicular to those grain lines (not parallel with them). This cuts through the muscle fibers, and offers you much more tender, delicious bites.

I hope I’ve given you some food for thought about choosing healthy beef cuts. Next week, I’ll cover the protein power of beef.

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5 Simple Steps to March into Better Habits

Wow. It’s March already. And you know what that means? Registered Dietitians are all hopped up on nutrition tips, now more than ever!

It’s National Nutrition Month®!

via GIPHY

Every year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics uses the month of March as an additional platform to encourage everyone to eat a healthier diet.

“The theme for 2017 is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”, which acts as a reminder that each bite counts. Making just small shifts in our food choices, can add up over time.”

There is so much conflicting information out there about nutrition. What should I eat? Does all of my food have to be “natural”? Should I avoid dairy or wheat? What’s the difference between organic versus other vegetables? 

The bottom line is this: Make small changes every day that will improve your diet. Everyone has different food preferences, and one person may be intolerant to different foods or ingredients, while another is not. So don’t think “Oh, I have to stop drinking milk because Gwyneth Paltrow says it’s bad for the environment”. Many people have no issues with dairy, and benefit from it’s fantastic nutrition profile (and ask a farmer, or follow a dietitian for nutrition advice, not Gwyneth or any other celebrity).

Here are my five simple tips to help you kick off the month of March:

1. Eat more vegetables.

Yes, vegetables can take a bit of work to include into your diet, but it’s time well spent. You must consider food prep time as a valued investment in your health! Keep raw veggies cut in the refrigerator so you have easy access to them for a snack. I keep canned and frozen vegetables on hand as quick options too. Cook fresh veggies differently – Roasting or grilling vegetables makes them more tasty. Add spinach or kale to your sandwiches or scrambled eggs. Try a vegetarian dish once a week for lunch or dinner. There are so many resources for vegetarian meals that are just an Internet search away. It could be vegan, or incorporate dairy and eggs (lacto-ovo). Look for recipes that include vegetables you already like.

2. Eat more fresh fruit.

Shop for sales and BOGO (buy one, get one free). Enjoy a piece of fruit every morning and afternoon as a snack. Enjoy fresh, or canned (packed in its own juice without sugar added). Pack fruit in both your lunch, and your child’s lunchbox.

3. Enjoy smaller portions of lean beef, pork, and poultry.

Meat lovers don’t have to sulk. These foods provide protein, iron, zinc and other important minerals, but strive to make half of your plate vegetables and whole grains. It’s okay to enjoy a delicious steak, just balance it with a nice vegetable side dish and salad (I’ll be blogging this month for the Northeast Beef Initiative).

4. Eat less sweets.

Pastry is my weakness. One of my favorite things is a hot cup of coffee and a really good pastry. But pastries, desserts, cookies, and coffee cakes are calorie dense. As you age, it’s pretty hard to fit them in on a regular basis without weight gain. Consider limiting sweets to home-baked, and choose daily options such as flavored Greek yogurt and fresh fruit to satisfy your sweet craving.

5. Work on Behaviors

Don’t be surprised if it takes a few days, or up to a week, to break a bad habit and start a healthier one. Sometimes your routine becomes so engrained, that you aren’t even sure why you are eating something. Your environment impacts your behaviors too.

  • If sweets are an issue at home or work, remove the candy dish, or other temptation from sight.
  • Have you gotten into the habit of eating on the couch, at your desk, or in the car? Make an effort to eat at the kitchen breakfast counter or table, or at a table in your break room at lunch.
  • Put a fresh fruit bowl on the counter in your kitchen, or at work.
  • Prepping your fruits and vegetables ahead (washed and cut) makes eating them easier to grab from the refrigerator.
  • Portion out “smoothie bags” (sandwich bag filled with berries, cut melon, chopped spinach) and store in the refrigerator so you can quickly grab them, dump into blender, add yogurt and ice, and whip something healthy up for breakfast or a snack on the run.

Change it up, and one day at a time, you’ll get used to your new food choice or daily habit.

 

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Spring Break: Keep Your Belly Happy

Spring is around the corner. I love how these tips really fit my life. As a Regular Girl affiliate, I couldn’t wait to share them with you, too. For many in the blustery Northeast, a nice trip south may be on your calendar. Keep your belly happy along the way and back. Now’s a great time to try Regular Girl®.


This post was posted by Regular Girl on March 30, 2016 in Fiber Basics, Travel
 
Springtime tummy troubles can dampen your fun. Whether you’re heading to the beach or just chilling with friends on the patio, take precautions to avoid occasional constipation, diarrhea or other digestive distress. You worked hard to get that swimsuit-ready body. Don’t let bloating steal the show. Here’s how to keep your belly happy this spring:

 

A trouble-free belly at home starts with a healthy diet

  • If warm weather means firing up the grill, be sure to pair your steaks and burgers with a skin-on baked potato and a salad. You may suffer digestive distress if you’re not getting enough fiber. Adults should consume 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day. If half of your plate isn’t fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, consider a supplement such as Regular Girl. One scoop of this soluble fiber supplement provides five grams of fiber.\
  • If a sudsy cold beer or dirty martini accompanies your dinner, follow it up with a big glass of water. Alcohol consumption can cause dehydration which may lead to constipation.
  • Your springtime allergies may also be causing your bathroom woes. Some over-the-counter antihistamines often list constipation as a side effect. Consult with your doctor if this is an issue for you.

Planning may help you stay healthy away from home

Eating new foods while on vacation may upset your digestive balance. Supporting your gut’s beneficial bacteria before and during a trip with probiotics may help maintain your intestinal health. Regular Girl contains an active count of eight billion clinically proven Bifidobacterium lactis. Its prebiotic fiber helps keep all your good bacteria happy.

If you swap your high-fiber cereal for a glazed donut when traveling, your belly may revolt. Pack high-fiber snacks such as pears, nuts and whole-grain crackers. And, mix a scoop of Sunfiber into your water bottle to get an additional tummy-pleasing fiber boost without any unpleasant side effects.

Keep your bathroom routine consistent when you are away from home. Not listening to your body – either because you don’t want to stop the fun or you just don’t like the facilities – may lead to uncomfortable constipation.

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.


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Herbs and Spice and Everything Nice

Herbs and spices add flavor to foods, and are often a great way to reduce the salt you use in cooking. However, some spices may also provide additional benefits to your health. Many contain “phytochemicals” and have health benefits.

Last year, General Mills sent me some samples of their new cereals that use natural ingredients and spices to provide color (in place of artificial colors). Turmeric is one of those ingredients used to provide an orange color to foods, naturally. They sent me a jar of the spice and I’ve been looking for new ways to use it ever since. I’ve added it to chicken dishes, and soups and stews. But today I thought I’d add some to a smoothie!

Turmeric comes from the turmeric plant, and is often used in Asian cooking (curry). It has a bright orange color and may have beneficial properties that can help ease an irritable bowel, reduce inflammation, or tame a headache. It seems to be trending, and since I had a jar in my pantry, I figured I’d add some to a smoothie.

Inulin, which is sourced from chicory root, is a functional prebiotic fiber, that may also help support gut health. It’s sometimes used as a fat replacer, in foods such as yogurt or pudding. This allows for a lower calorie product (great for middle aged women and men), that also has the benefit of additional fiber.

This smoothie recipe includes both turmeric, and Dannon Triple Zero® yogurt (which contains chicory root fiber). And of course, I wouldn’t share it if is wasn’t delicious! Not to mention that it’s filling, and only 160 calories!

STRAWBERRY SALTED CARAMEL SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

5-6 ripe strawberries

5.3 ounce container of Dannon® Triple Zero Salted Caramel Yogurt

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2-3 ice cubes

3 TB water

Method:

Whirl all ingredients in a blender or juicer until completely smooth. Makes one 160 calorie serving (with 15 grams protein).

 

Disclosure: General Mills sent me a jar of turmeric as a gift when they sent me samples of the new cereals using it as a natural coloring. I also recently attended an educational session sponsored by Beneo. 

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Add More Flavor and Variety to Meatless Meals

I’ll probably make a beef filet with lobster tails for cozy Valentine’s day dinner at home. But I also like to include a meatless meal once a week. Whether it’s pasta with beans or a vegetable rice dish, vegetarian meals aren’t just for vegetarians. You don’t have to “go vegan” to enjoy them as part of your weekly meal planning. Even meat-eaters can incorporate a vegetarian dish once a week. You can also modify vegan recipes (for instance, use dairy cheese in place of the vegan cheese) to suit your taste. The goal here is to add more vegetables to your diet, and incorporate more complex flavors, so they really satisfy.

I made this easy recipe one weeknight, and it was delicious. To me, this type of casserole is the ultimate comfort food: Warm, soft, flavorful, and cheesy! My version was inspired by this one.  A traditional Moussaka dish includes both eggplant and ground meat, and topped with a Bechamel sauce (white cream sauce). But this recipe is an easy way to enjoy my favorite flavors in the dish. It eliminates the meat and adds whole grain, high protein quinoa, and a high protein, creamy custard topping. And of course, it’s DASH Diet friendly.

Vegetarian Moussaka [serves 4-6]

Ingredients

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 cup finely chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup water

1/2 cup uncooked Bulgar and red quinoa mixture (I used Full Circle brand – but you could use 1/4 cup quinoa and 1/4 cup bulgar wheat)

1 small can tomato paste (plus 4 cans of water)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Cooking spray

1 cup Light Sour Cream or plain fat-free Greek yogurt

2 TB feta cheese, crumbled 

2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

2 large eggs

3 TB Parmesan cheese, grated 

METHOD

Preheat broiler to high. Line a baking sheet pan with foil. Spray with olive oil cooking spray. Place eggplant slices on the baking sheet and lightly drizzle olive oil over the eggplant, or spray with olive oil spray. Broil for 5 minutes on each side or until browned. If needed, cook in batches (being sure you only have one single layer of eggplant). Set eggplant aside.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Add onion, stir to coat with oil and cook about 5-10 minutes or until onion is tender. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Add 1 cup water, quinoa, tomato paste, salt and pepper, and additional water (measured in tomato paste can). Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir in basil.

Set oven temperature to 350°.

Combine sour cream (or greek yogurt), feta cheese, goat cheese, and eggs in a bowl or large glass measuring cup, stirring well with a fork until smooth. Set aside.

Spread half of the tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 9×11-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange half of eggplant slices over sauce, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

  1. Spoon remaining tomato sauce over eggplant and top with remaining eggplant slices. Spoon or pour yogurt mixture evenly over eggplant, spreading to cover.
  2. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until topping is lightly browned. Garnish with extra basil if desired.Cut into 4 large squares and enjoy!Other additions: You can always use up other vegetables you may have in this dish. Sliced zucchini, bell peppers, or sliced mushrooms could be used an additional layer in this dish. Alternate the layering – eggplant, vegetable, then eggplant layer.

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Go Red for Heart Health

Today is Go Red for Women® day. What’s that all about?

It’s an awareness campaign sponsored by the American Heart Association that encourages women to monitor their health, eat well and exercise. Cardiovascular deaths in women hit about 500,000 per year. The campaign aims to dispel the myths about heart disease and women, and help women understand how to recognize risk and care for themselves. 

The campaign encourages women to:

Of course my coauthors and I wrote DASH Diet For Dummies® because we are all passionate about heart health. As women, we are also passionate about women’s health, and hope that our books help you better understand your own heart health and overall risk for heart disease.

I asked my coauthor, Dr. Sarah Samaana board certified cardiologist and a Physician Partner at the Baylor Heart Hospital in the Dallas Metroplex city of Plano, Texas. She cares for a wide range of patients, including those whose focus is prevention as well as people with advanced heart disease. She co-authored The DASH Diet for Dummies and is the author of Best Practices for a Healthy Heart: How to stop heart disease before or after it starts.

Here’s some of her best advice for you:

Q: What should women be asking their doctors when they go in for a well visit?

A: Women should know their blood pressure, lipid profile (including LDL,HDL, and triglycerides) and blood glucose, as well as their BMI. These simple numbers are key in identifying your cardiovascular risk, and in helping to formulate a plan for prevention.

Q: What do you recommend for an overweight women who is not participating in exercise? How can she start?

A: Exercise is critical to preventing  heart disease and other chronic illness. For older adults, simply walking 30 min 5 days per week will lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and dementia by 30%. Just put on your sneakers and walk out the door! Or if the weather is not cooperative, consider an exercise bike or treadmill.

Q: What dietary suggestions do you offer to women, that may differ from men?

A: For most women, it’s especially important to get plenty of calcium. Calcium helps strengthen our bones, but is also important for heart health. The body uses calcium from the diet much more efficiently that it does when taken in the form of supplements, and there is some concern that supplements could even pose harm. I especially like Greek yogurt. It’s a protein powerhouse and a great source of calcium as well. Fortified milk (including my favorite, soy milk) is another good source of calcium. So is canned salmon, since the little bones in the fish get softened and pulverized during the canning process.

I advocate a Mediterranean diet, with a good balance of healthy fats, healthy carbs, and lean protein. The DASH diet, designed to lower blood pressure, includes many elements of the Mediterranean diet, and both are adaptable to suit just about anyone’s dietary needs and restrictions.

Q: How might stress be handled?

A: Stress is not all bad. It is the stress that we cannot control that is so dangerous. That includes unhappy relationships at home and at work. A demanding spouse or a job in which you feel underappreciated or overworked can be sources of this unwanted stress. While we can’t always escape stress, nurturing healthy habits like regular exercise, meditative activities, and adequate sleep can really help to counteract the harmful effects.

Don’t waste any more time. Take care of yourself. See your doctor. Check your numbers. Eat right. Be heart happy.

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Enjoying a Safe Food Supply – in Moderation

I recently attended a food conference where a session about animal welfare was sponsored by the USFRA (however I was not paid to write this post). One of the speakers, Brad Greenway, is a pig farmer from South Dakota, and I’ve used some of the content from his lecture to create this post.

According to US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) surveys, animal welfare is a top consumer concern, in addition to use of antibiotics, growth hormones, and how food is processed. Yet despite the facts that the vast majority of farmers treat their animals humanely on the farm, hormones are not used in pork or poultry, and antibiotic use to promote growth is now banned, people continue to falsely report these issues on social media or in conversation.

Whether you’re a carnivore or an omnivore, it’s likely you care about where your food comes from.

I enjoy listening to real people talk about the real things they do. So often in our 24/7 news and media storm, we hear soundbites, or see memes, short videos, and other sorts of media out of context. The food perspectives you’ll hear from someone who is vegetarian or vegan will differ from someone who includes meat in the diet, and those who prefer to purchase certified organic over conventional produce, will also vary in opinion.

I encourage everyone to choose their own version of a healthy diet and then work toward choosing foods they enjoy within that dietary framework, and their food budgets.

I personally eat according to the DASH diet guidelines, and also incorporate many Italian and Mediterranean ingredients. As the author of DASH Diet For Dummies®, I recommend that you reduce the amount of meat you eat, choosing smaller portions of leaner cuts.

However my personal eating style is not important. Neither is telling every consumer, “you should eat this”. What is important to me, is getting the facts to the consumer. Since people do indeed eat bacon, it’s important to dispel any myths about it’s food production. In that vein, this post is for meat-eaters. It is not intended to claim that one diet is better than another, nor whether or not you should consume bacon. It is about food safety.

Food Marketing VS What’s Healthy

Since food marketing is driven by consumer demand, the latest conversations seem to revolve over whether a food is “clean” or organic or “free” of something. I’ve heard consumers say things like “All of the hormones in our food are making us sick!” when in reality, hormones are not even allowed in pork or poultry, and are only used sparingly in beef cattle.

In the case of the meat industry, terms such as antibiotic-free, organic, or cage-free, are viewed as more important now, than say, the dietary fat content, or any other nutritional quality of the food.

Real Farmer. Real Food.

Brad Greenway isn’t just a pig farmer, he’s the 2016 American Pig Farmer of the Year. Every farmer I’ve met over the years has several thing in common: a dedication to family, the land, and the care of their animals. Brad was no different.

For those living in urban areas and big cities like New York, LA, Boston, or Chicago, the opportunity to speak with a real farmer, and see photos of their family, farm, and animals, can help connect the farm to the the people at the market. The USFRA supports this idea, and tries to bring the farmer to you, via the videos and stories on their website, and also in sponsoring farmers to speak to groups (as the one I attended).

A few things that Brad spoke about that are important:

  • Farming is a science-based business that utilizes technology to create the most productive and humane system possible
  • Animal care is a top priority. For instance, Brad built a barn to protect his pigs from harsh winter conditions of South Dakota. He uses technology to monitor their well being (movement, feeding, etc).
  • While many have different definitions of sustainability, on Brad’s farm the smart use of resources are part of his definition. He puts animal manure back into the soil as fertilizer to grow crops, which then are cycled back to the animals.
  • Top of mind: The products that Brad produces go onto consumer plates.

Antibiotics

Top of mind is the use of antibiotics. We generally think of antibiotics as medicines used to treat illness. Yes, antibiotics are used to treat infection, but in the past they were indeed used in low doses to promote growth in farm animals as well.

The sub-therapeutic dose of antibiotics added to animal feed in the past supported animals that grew more quickly and stayed healthy, but farmers have slowly pulled back on this use of antibiotics, and as of December 2016, the FDA ruled that they can no longer be used to promote growth in food animals. Like it or not, consumer demand often trumps science when it comes to changes made at the market.

Hormones

Hormones are not used in pigs. They are used is small doses to enhance the growth of beef cattle (they are not legal for poultry, pigs, veal, or dairy cows). These hormones are placed into the cow’s ear, and are slowly released over time.  In general, they allow for faster growth, resulting in enhanced production, using less resources.

Food Pricing

Farmers work hard to be as productive as possible, both for their own welfare, the welfare of their animals, and to keep food prices reasonable at the market for the consumer. A diet lower in meat is healthier (if it is also balanced with plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes), but despite the effort of myself, and many of my colleagues, to encourage people to reduce their consumption of meat, data shows that Americans are demanding more of it.

Facts Not Fear

Regardless of the supermarket where you choose to shop, or the food brands that you put in your cart, I’m confident that your food is safe to eat. Farmers like Brad are feeding their families the same food you are eating. They have your best interest in mind. The next time you hear someone making a scary statement about “what’s in your food”, think about the source, ask yourself if there’s any fact behind the statement, look into it yourself, and help others see the farmer’s perspective too.

 

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Kiwifruit: Big Nutrition, Small Package

Variety is key to a healthy diet, so if you’ve found yourself in a rut, eating the same fruits or veggies every day, it’s time to shake it up a little. We are so fortunate to have all sorts of fruit available through every season, no matter where in the US you live. We’ve been loving Mighties™ kiwifruit at our house lately. They are often on sale at our local market, so it’s cost-friendly to purchase a two pound box (about 8-10 kiwi). 

As they claim on their nutrition facts label, one kiwi contains:

  • 90 calories
  • 460 milligrams of potassium
  • 230 % you daily value for Vitamin C
  • 70 % of your daily Vitamin K
  • 10 % of your daily Vitamin E
  • 10 % of your daily Vitamin A
  • 4 grams fiber

Any fruit can be considered a DASH Diet fruit, but kiwifruit is higher in potassium than some other choices. You can’t go wrong adding some kiwifruit to your diet. You can either peel several, and slice or cube, then keep in the refrigerator to eat as you like. Or you can simply cut one in the morning to enjoy with breakfast. Children and adults alike enjoy eating them with a spoon – just slice in half, and scoop out of the skin.

Including some whole fruit for breakfast or at snack time also adds fiber to your diet. Fiber is an important part of the healthy diet, and helps with weight control by keeping you full. Fiber also helps those with diabetes manage blood sugar levels (and kiwifruit has a low glycemic index).

Adding more variety and color to your diet guarantees a variety of antioxidants, and makes eating more enjoyable. Scout the produce sections for sales at your local grocer, and enjoy a variety of fruit all year round.

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The Best Diet is the Healthiest One that You Can Swallow

I just arrived home from a conference about some of the hottest topics in nutrition right now: Food safety/allergy, dietary fat and heart health (omega-3 fatty acids, dairy fat), food intolerance (gluten, wheat, sugars, dairy protein), plant-based proteins, diet and irritable bowel disease, gut health and the microbiome, and how to handle fake nutrition news (a favorite topic, as that’s where Chew the Facts was born).

Slide from Timothy Caulfield

In the coming weeks, I’ll continue to cover these topics and will cite the research as well. Most of these topics are indeed emerging, and I’m excited that many of them support the DASH Diet eating style. I’m also excited about the research supporting proper infant feeding from birth, through the first 1000 days. Such an important topic, and near to my heart. Personally, I think the only solution to pediatric obesity is prevention via healthy pregnancies and proper infant feeding.

Is Dairy Fat Different?

I was quite interested in learning how dairy fat may be of benefit to heart health. Teaser: As a self-proclaimed cheese-lover, news about the potentially functional quality of dairy, via peptide action as well as how some dairy fat may behave differently than other saturated fats, interests me. Dairy fat has been demonized at times, and limited, with standard recommendations to “use low fat or non fat dairy”. While I’ve made those recommendations myself, I’ve also always worked with clients individually – creating meal plans that work for them. Some research is showing that dairy fat may behave differently than other sources of saturated fat. Of course high fat dairy products still provide more calories than lower fat options, and calories are still an important issue. Total calorie load may be more important for those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight, but in most cases, a variety of dairy may be workable (perhaps cream in your coffee, regular cheese or yogurt, and low fat milk – or some combination of that).

You’ll also be interested to learn more about allergy – and how offering peanut butter in the first year of life actually reduces risk of food allergy.

Stay tuned over the next months for more details, more research, and more information on trending food and nutrition topics.

 

 

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Stop Eating Plain, Boring Vegetables

By now, you’ve heard that DASH Diet is voted one of the best diet plan to follow. I’m talking lifestyle here. For life.

Just about any sensible diet plan, that’s supported by science, will be recommending you add more vegetables to your diet.

You know you are supposed to be eating more vegetables, but you don’t think you like them. Consider this: Many people have never had a vegetable dish they really like because they’ve never had a delicious vegetable dish to try! It has a lot to do with both the cooking method, and the prep. How are the vegetables cut? How are they combined? What sort of flavors are added to them? How are they cooked?

If you are used to eating bland, steamed or boiled vegetables, set a goal to try cooking some on your own, and try a wider variety this year. They can really taste great with the right prep and cooking method. Even an inexperienced cook can excel.

Asparagus is an easy vegetable to prepare. Try these three easy ways to cook them:

  1. Heat grill. Rinse asparagus, and using your hand, break off the end (where it breaks naturally). Place asparagus on a plate and drizzle with olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Place onto grill pan on hot grill, and cook for about 5 minutes. You’ll want them to be “crisp-tender” meaning they will be tender, but still have firmness to them.
  2. Steam. Put a large pan on the stove, add about 2/3 cup water and heat to boil. Add cleaned asparagus to pan, cover and simmer for 6-7 minutes. Remove to platter immediately, add 2-3 teaspoons olive oil, and squeeze half a lemon over.
  3. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Clean asparagus and place onto cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil. Drizzle with1 tablespoon olive oil, add 2 garlic cloves to pan, and toss all in oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender.

Swiss Chard and Spinach (and yes, Kale) are both full of Vitamin C and folic acid. These greens are so easy to cook. Simply prep by chopping off stems and rinsing well in a colander to remove dirt or grit (or you can purchase the pre-washed bags of greens). Five to six cups of raw greens will cook down quickly to about 2 cups.

  1. Heat 1 TB olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 clove minced garlic and chopped greens, and stir quickly until greens are wilted, reducing heat if needed. Enjoy as a side dish or add to an omelet.
  2. Try my roasted cauliflower and kale.
  3. Saute the greens as above in #1, transfer to plate, quickly add chopped nuts (walnuts or pine nuts) to hot pan over medium-low heat, saute for a minute, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and toss to coat, stir 1 minute. Add nuts to greens and serve.

Finally, a simple tossed salad can be eaten daily, upping your veggie intake.

  1. Using pre-packaged greens can be a big time save but don’t stop at the greens. Add yellow tomatoes, chopped cucumber, sliced grapes, sliced strawberries, orange sections, chopped nuts (or the toasted nuts as above), slices of avocado, olives, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, or canned (rinsed) beans.
  2. Make your own simple dressing – try 1/4 olive oil, 2 TB raspberry vinegar (or balsamic), 2 teaspoons honey (or mustard, or both), pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until combined, drizzle over salad.

 

If one of your 2017 goals is to use the DASH Diet plan, then you’ll need to increase your vegetable and fruit intake. By all means, make them tasty! Try our DASH Diet recipes and tips found in our cookbook and cheat sheets.

 

Note: Adding vegetables to your diet is important, so while these examples use fresh produce, it’s still okay to eat canned or frozen vegetables! Canned beans, tomatoes, even corn, can really come in handy when you’re short on time. Look for water-packed, and low sodium canned vegetables. Rinse beans to remove some of the sodium (black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, kidney beans – all great inexpensive sources of fiber and protein).

 

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