Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Fresh Fast Food Revolution

February 7, 2014

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Eating well on the fly isn’t easy. Fast food and vending machine choices tend be high in fat, sugar, and sodium, and low in quality and nutritional value. Luke Sanders agrees, and he set out to do something about it. His latest venture, Farmer’s Fridge, is a kiosk filled with fresh, organic and where possible, local food that is as good for you, and the environment, as it tastes.

The company fills the refrigerated kiosk daily, with fresh salads which are  high on both flavor and nutrition. Super foods, nuts and seeds are incorporated into the mix. Best of all, they are packaged in BPA and phthalate free, fully recyclable jars. The ingredients are layered  to keep them from getting soggy. At the end of the day, the product is discounted, and the remaining salads are donated to local food pantries.

The concept is sure to revolutionize the fast food market. While the only one is at the Garvey Food Court in the Chicago area, watch for future kiosks to emerge in other cities across the country.

The Breakfast Club

September 11, 2013

breakfast plate, bacon and eggs, sunny side upFor many years, we have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It set the stage for healthy eating, recharged our bodies after a 12 hour fast, and prevented us from over eating later in the day, right?

Well, maybe not.

A new report from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims there is no study to support that eating breakfast helps us control our weight. Say what?!!!
Researchers reviewed material from many studies and found that eating breakfast had little relationship to weight loss.

A study from Vanderbilt University compared moderately obese adults who usually ate breakfast and skipped it, against a group who did not habitually eat breakfast and were served a regular morning meal. Both groups were given the same amount of calories per day, and both groups lost similar amounts of weight during a 12-week period of time. It is thought that both groups were given a healthier diet than they usually ate, amounting to more than average weight loss.

The bottom line is that if starting the day with a healthy meal feels good and fuels your body properly, go for it. If you wake up with no appetite, it’s ok not to eat until later in the day. As long as you have sufficient energy to power your morning and make good, healthful food choices throughout the day, it’s ok to eat, or not eat breakfast accordingly.

Confused? Yeah, we are too.

The take-away from all of this? Listen to your body, and do what is right for you.

photo: glasshouse images

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Don’t Pass the (Star)Buck

June 19, 2013

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Often, some of the controversial health bills passed in New York City become more widespread in time.  Such is the case with Starbucks, who today announced it would post calorie counts on all of their menu boards, nationwide.

The Food and Drug Administration is looking at having all restaurants with more than 20 locations post the nutritional information publically, allowing customers to make more informed decisions. Starbucks is one of the first to voluntarily post calories in their stores across the country.

In an effort to serve up healthier options the chain began offering sugar free syrups and switched to 2% milk, as it’s standard several years ago. Skim milk is also an option for customized drinks.

Would you pass on that double chocolate chip Frappuccino at 500 calories, and choose a 260 calorie iced Café Mocha, or a Skinny Flavored Latte at only 110 calories, if you were well informed? How about a 240-calorie croissant, instead of the healthier sounding banana walnut bread at a whopping 490 calories?

Informed decisions are generally better decisions, and Starbucks is taking a step in the right direction to make sure that their customers know what they are indulging in.

New York has successfully led the country in kicking the trans fat habit, banned smoking in public places and built awareness of the calories in their food.  Now how about those giant sodas Mayor Bloomberg is fighting to limit? Do you think that will eventually catch on as well?

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Nutrition Fiction

May 20, 2013

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While flipping through a popular health and wellness magazine today, I was a little surprised at some of their nutritional suggestions.

I am an armchair expert, admittedly with no formal training in nutrition and look to articles written by others to provide me with much of my information. Through this process, I have a heightened awareness of what is good for you, and what is not. Clearly, some of what I read falls into the latter category.

First up on the agenda: The 2013 Healthy Food Awards.

In this segment, 175 readers blind tested foods that the editors and contributing registered dieticians selected and deemed healthy.

The winners all came in a package, something that generally doesn’t spell “super food” to me.

With categories like “best potato chip”, “best nuked popcorn” and “best chewy granola bar” on the list, it’s hard to grasp the concept of these foods being healthy.

The next page featured celebrity chefs’ recipes using kale, which they dubbed “the holy grail of health.”

Alex Guarnaschelli’s Kale and Watercress Soup has white potatoes, whole milk and heavy cream. It is 252 calories per serving.

I don’t know about you, but the soups I usually enjoy are closer to 80-120 calories per serving. The potatoes, when pureed, should be enough to give the soup a creamy texture, making the heavy cream and milk unnecessary. Using broth instead of the dairy, would probably add more flavor to the soup, and a fraction of the calories and fat.

Instead of the suggested garnish of low fat sour cream, how about recommending a dollop of fat free Greek yogurt? It is lower in calories and fat than the sour cream, and is higher in protein and contains healthy probiotics.

As an avid and well-informed reader, I am concerned that a magazine of this type, would feature foods that are processed, high in saturated fat, and not the best, healthiest versions available. This is not a food magazine, where the flavor and ingredients take center stage, nutritional aspects be damned.

This is a magazine about healthy eating, fitness and wellness. They owe it to their readers to provide them with informed choices. High fat, high calorie soup is not healthy, just because it has a trendy super-food in it.

Processed foods laden with preservatives, huge amounts of sodium and a few unpronounceable ingredients, often in potentially toxic packages, are not healthy, just because they are organic, or lower in calories than their counterparts.

So how does the average consumer get real information about the seemingly healthy foods that are not in fact, as healthy as they seem?

Let me introduce you to a not so secret weapon called Fooducate.
Fooducate is a website and an app for smart phones that offers nutritional profiles culled from a huge database of supermarket foods.  The free app allows you to scan the food’s barcode, and it provides a breakdown of the item’s nutritional data from a list of ingredients to calories, fat and sodium contents, chemicals and preservatives, information about what makes it a good or bad choice, and sums it up with a letter grade. It is a valuable resource for those who want to make wise decisions in the food aisles. The app also offers daily tips, and can help zero in on gluten free or diabetic friendly foods as well.

Perhaps the experts featured in my magazine might benefit from swiping a few of the foods they list, before awarding them best healthy food status.

photo: Glasshouse Images

(Easter) Basket Case

March 29, 2013

CHOCOLATS DE PAQUES

It’s Easter, and inevitably, there will be candy. Here are a few “fun” facts to help you decide if it’s really worth it to indulge:

The Chocolate Bunny:

Your average run of the mill drug store bunny is considered 3 servings. Eat the whole thing for a calorie total of almost 700. Add in 66 grams of fat, and almost 70 grams of sugar. It’s filled with high fructose corn syrup, and other additives. If you are going to go the chocolate route, go for rich dark chocolate. It’s heart healthy and so much more satisfying than a waxy tasting chocolate rabbit.

Jelly Beans:

These little nibbles are fat free, but contain 34 grams of sugar. Don’t even think about what created all those attractive colors. ( if you really want to know, click HERE) That lustrous sheen comes from the secretions of female lac bugs, and is very much the same product used to shellac wood. Yum!

Peeps:
Five of these little chicks will cost you about 140 calories. They are fat free, but contain 34 grams of sugar per serving. They have absolutely no nutritional value, and contain sugar, corn syrup, preservatives, yellow dye and carnauba wax, which is commonly used on cars.  The gelatin that gives them their spongy texture, is made of animal skin, bones, hoofs, cartilage and intestines. Many people prefer them when they are stale. Sorry, but that just doesn’t seem appealing to me.

Dove White Chocolate Mini Eggs:

Um, chocolate isn’t white. This confection is made from cocoa butter, powdered milk and sugar, if you’re lucky. The less expensive versions trade the cocoa butter for vegetable oil. There is absolutely no chocolate in white chocolate. These faux -chocolate tidbits pack about 24 grams of sugar and 24 grams of fat. If you love it, go ahead and enjoy it. Just don’t pretend it’s really chocolate.

Cadbury Cream Eggs:

Each one packs 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 20 grams of sugar, and Castoreum, which is excreted by beaver’s anal glands. And admit it, you aren’t only going to eat one, are you?

Indulgence is fine, as long as it is worth the splurge. In my opinion, these Easter treats are not it for me. I’d rather have something else.

For children, consider making a basket containing real eggs, dyed with natural food colorings, and baby carrots to share with a cute little stuffed bunny.

Happy Easter!

photo: Glasshouse Images

The Superbowl is Not a Giant Bowl You Fill With Snacks

February 3, 2013

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Today is Superbowl Sunday. It is an annual event that is to junk food what turkey is to Thanksgiving.

It is expected that Americans will consume over 11 million pounds of potato chips, 8 million pounds of tortilla chips and more than 4 million pounds of pretzels. Add in 1.24 billion chicken wings, 4.4 million pizzas and 111 million gallons of beer. No word on guacamole and bean dip consumption.

The average person will consume 1200 calories during the game. That’s alot of calories.

What would it take to burn off the day’s excess?

Actually playing football instead of just watching it could torch the entire amount in two hours. Walking it off could take 5 hours, but a moderately paced run could burn them off in two. A good spinning class or 3 could solve the problem in about 2 1/2 hours.

Taking a relaxing yoga class could help you come to terms with your indulgence, and work it off if you are willing to practice for 7 hours straight.

Or you could just enjoy the game and go back to healthy eating tomorrow.

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We Are Hungry

September 27, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama has done considerable work to help fight the battle of childhood obesity and instill the concept of healthy eating in young people across the country. As a result of this, school lunches have been limited to 850 calories, and kids across America are complaining it’s not enough.

Shockingly, others are agreeing.

According to various university researchers, teenage boys require between 1,800 and 3,200 calories per day. Girls need 1,600-2,400 calories per day. This range is contingent on body composition and activity levels.

It seems that the issue is not really calorie restriction. It is the quality of the food being served.

It is important to note that most fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, fish, poultry and lean cuts of meat are relatively low in calories. An 850-calorie lunch, consisting of fresh, healthy food would likely be more than most growing kids would be able to consume in any given meal.

A group of high school students in Kansas have put together a protest video, set to the tune of “We Are Young” by F.U.N. and retitled it “We Are Hungry.” The video claims that the lunches are not sufficient to provide the energy needed to participate in sports.  It shows kids sneaking off to fill up on fast foods and processed snacks to give them more sustenance to get through the day.

Once again, the point has been missed. Any athlete will tell you that high calorie, high fat, high sugar, processed foods are not the key to performance, and often make people feel sluggish after eating them. Providing fresh and healthy “real foods” are the key to controlling weight and energy levels. Educating youth on proper nutrition, and giving them the right foods to help make healthy choices is a better idea.

Organic Panic?

September 5, 2012

Health researchers at Stanford University released a study this week casting doubt on the advantages of organic meats and produce. While they concluded that most fruits and vegetables labeled organic were not more nutritious than the conventional versions, the jury is still out on whether or not spending extra for organic products is worth it.

Conventional varieties tested did have more pesticide residue on them, but the levels fall within the allowable limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The question lies in whether or not these levels are in fact safe for humans long term.

Many of the key motivators for buying organic foods are the stringent rules governing the farming of these items.

Organic chicken and pork were found to less likely to be contaminated by antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The study also found that organic milk contained higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to the heart. Organic produce also had higher levels of phosphorous, and phenols, believed to help prevent cancer.

Organic foods also have less environmental impact than large-scale conventional farming techniques.

More specific studies have found some added benefits to going organic.  A Washington State University study done in 2010 found organic strawberries contained higher levels of vitamin C than their conventionally counterparts.

Three other studies published last year, from Columbia University, The University of California Berkley and Mount Sinai Hospital, showed that children whose mothers ate organically during pregnancy had a higher I.Q. than those whose mother was exposed to higher levels of pesticides.

While this news is likely to spark controversy among farmers and nutrition experts alike, the facts are still somewhat inconclusive.

For children, pregnant women and those with impaired immune systems, the benefits may still out weigh the expense of purchasing organically grown food.

The choice, as always, belongs to the consumer.

photos:Glasshouse Images

The Incredible Edible Egg

July 9, 2012

We knew that eggs were a healthy and economical source of protein, but we didn’t know that how the hens were raised had an effect on their nutritional content.

New research shows that hens raised on the pasture may contain 4 to 6 time more vitamin D than those raised in cages.

Based on testing done by the Mother Earth News, as compared to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest data on conventional eggs, the pasture raised eggs may also contain 1/3 less cholesterol, ¼ less saturated fat, 2/3 times more vitamin A, 2 times more Omega 3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene.

Look for free range, hormone free and preferably organic eggs to get the most nutritional bang for your buck.

photo:Glasshouse Images

House of Mouse Launches a Healthy Marketing Initiative

June 7, 2012

Today, Disney announced a new initiative that would impose strict guidelines on the foods that are advertised on their TV shows, radio stations and sold in their amusement parks.

With First Lady Michelle Obama by his side, Robert Iger, Chairman of the Walt Disney Company unveiled plans to ensure that all food advertised, sponsored or promoted through its media outlets meet federal dietary guidelines and encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables, limit portion sizes and calories, and have a reduced sugar, saturated fat and sodium content. The plan will be fully implemented by 2015.

Iger also announced the new graphic symbol called a “Mickey Check”, which will appear on all branded food items sold at parks, resorts and grocery stores which feature Disney characters on the package. These foods currently include fresh fruit, dairy items and drinks. The “Mickey Check” features the tag line. “ Good for you – fun too!” and will serve to assure parents that the food they are purchasing is healthy.

The Disney announcement fully supports Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, which promotes a healthy and active lifestyle for children. Having Disney’s iconic characters helping fight the battle of childhood obesity is a pivotal change in how we market to children.


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