August 2014 - Ready for back to school nutrition?
By Sima Hamraz
Summer the longest holiday for the students is reaching to the last month in August. However, many people plan their summer vacation in August while still they could feel the hot summer breeze with the smell of barbeques. Meanwhile, the date on the calendar is sending out a loud and clear message to the students and the parents. It says, “It’s the time to get ready for going back to school.” For most of the students and families getting ready to go back to school means to complete the school supply list and of course do the shopping for the new outfits, also some students will start to review the forgotten subjects. But, where does the nutrition stand in the getting back to school plan?
During summer most of the healthy eating habits that were developed throughout the school year are no more followed. The summer holiday is the excuse for it. August is the perfect time to bring those healthy practices back into the daily routine. Parents can prepare their kids to start a good school year by initiating the healthy lifestyles and eating patterns first in their own homes. Here are some tips for the parents to boost their child’s healthy eating behavior before going back to school.
- Focus on breakfast: August is the time to practice to get up early for the breakfast, before the actual morning battle beings for going to school. The study showed that students who eat breakfast show better performance on tests, concentrate better and have higher school attendance. The quick and easy options for having a nutritious breakfast include instant oatmeal topped with nuts or dry fruits, or fruit parfait made with low-fat yogurt and sliced fruit topped with granola.
- Snack smart: Carry with you easy to grab healthy snacks such as fresh seasonal fruits for kids during summer fun activities.
- Ask for the school menu: Review the school’s menu before the start date and plan ahead to send a nutritious food as a substitute of the day that the Menu is short in nutrients.
- Involve children: Encourage children to participate in menu planning for the family and asked them to help with preparing the food.
- Take children to grocery shopping: Ask the children to pick their favorite fruits and vegetables.
- Plan an educational activity: Take the kids to the local farms as the end of summer fun activities.
- Be a good role model: Most of the children tend to follow their parents’ habits. By demonstrating a healthy attitude toward food set an example for the young followers.
For the most parents end of the summer season is the beginning of the lunch box season. Figuring out what to pack is one of the daily parents struggle. And, of course for the parents the most disappointing time is when they find out the school lunches that they carefully planned and packed boomerang back uneaten or, even worse, ended up in the school cafeteria trash bin.
The following ideas are helping parents to create a perfect lunch box that kids will enjoy.
- Make too much dinner: Leftover dinner can turn out to the sandwich or a salad for the next day lunch.
- Stock up on Saturday: Make a weekly shopping list and go for a shopping on Saturdays.
- Pack Ahead: Always prepare the lunch box a night before and enjoy the hassle free breakfast with kids.
- Go Seasonal: Use the nature for an inspiration. On a cold winter day, pack soup in a thermos, and during the spring use in-season produce and make a colorful salad.
- Variety is the Key: Do not bore your kids with the same food such as sandwich every day. Mix it up.
- Pack and send your Love: Surprise your kids with a lovely note showing them how much you care.
Have a great healthy school year ahead
July 2014 - Welcome to Summer: Fruits and Vegetables
By Samantha Wu
Days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer, welcome to summer! Summer is a great time to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables can be found in local Farmers’ markets in this time of the year. The month of July offers many of choices of fresh produce. Vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers and corn and fruits like cherries, blueberries and peaches are some of the seasonal produce in July. Did you know that a bell pepper contains twice the Vitamin C content as an orange and blueberries have the highest amount of antioxidants in fruits?
Why is it good to eat in season?
You may save money by buying produce in season. For example, there are likely to be plenty of fresh corn available so the price is lower. Fruit and vegetable in season may taste better because they are picked when they are ripe and at their peak. You may get more nutrients from the food because of the reduced transportation time. Travel time of the food from the farm to your plate is probably shorter since they are grown closer.
Benefits of eating fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are important parts of a balanced diet. Eating fruits and vegetables has many benefits including the reduced risk of heart disease, Type II Diabetes and cancer. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories, sodium, and fat and contain no cholesterol. They are great because they are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Fruits and vegetables are great for people who want to lost weight because they are lower in calories and can be helpful in weight management. There are so many reasons to eat more fruits and vegetables, let’s fill half of our plates with fruits and vegetables today.
Here is a refreshing summer fruit salad recipe that you may like:
2 cups of blueberries
1 cup of peach, cut into bite size
2 cups of strawberries, cut big strawberries in half
2 cups of grapes
1 mango, cut into bite size
½ cup 100% orange juice
Wash fresh fruits and cut into desired sizes. Mix in a large mixing bowl and chill.
-This fruit salad can be a healthy snack or a great breakfast with non-fat yogurt or oatmeal.
-Frozen or canned fruit may be used. Look for canned fruit that is in its own juice with no added sugar.
-Choose mango and peach that are slightly soft. Pick firm and plump berries and grapes with no mold spots.
June 2014 - Cultural Swaportunity
By Marsha Sommervil
Memorial day has come and gone and now summer is unofficially here! That means that BBQ & picnic season is here too! Did you know that June 14th is Flag Day? On Flag Day we as Americans celebrate the history of the American flag also known as “Stars & Stripes” or “Old Glory”. One of the greatest things about being American is that we can celebrate our ethnic heritage and also that of others. So this summer why not have a Flag Day themed party? Having foods from different cultures at your party is a great way to get people talking and trying new foods that can be a healthier alternative to traditional BBQ meals.
Here are three easy ways you can swap a traditional BBQ item for a healthier cultural choice. This is a great “cultural swaportunity!”
1. Grilled Yucca instead of Potato Salad
Yucca, also known as cassava, is a vegetable that is popular in Latin American countries. It is a starchy vegetable just like potatoes and it is high in vitamin C. It can be baked, grilled, boiled, or even fried. One cup of yucca can contains about 250 calories 4 grams of fat. One cup of potato salad can contain 357 calorie and 20 grams of fat.
2. Chicken Shish Kabob instead of Hamburgers
Shish kabobs are a food dish that is popular in Middle Eastern countries. A kabob is usually a piece of meat (beef, chicken or lamb) chopped into squares and put onto a skewer (wooden stick). You can also put chopped red, green, and yellow bell peppers on the skewers. This adds vegetables and color to your dish.
3. Exotic Fruit-Infused Water instead of Soda
Fruit infused water is a good way to cut down on the extra calories that we usually drink during BBQs. In fruit infused water, different fruits are cut into slices and soaked in the water pitcher. The flavor of the fruit mixes with the water and gives you a sweet drink that isn’t loaded with sugar. Infused water is usually done with fruits like oranges, lemon, and strawberries. Have you ever had a star fruit? Star fruit also known as carambola is a fruit that comes from the countries in Southeast Asia like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka. When cut, its slices actually look like stars. One can of soda can may contain 33 grams of sugar and 136 calories. One cup of Star fruit can contain 41 calories and 5 grams of sugar.
Interested in having a representation of “Old Glory” at your BBQ? You can always do this with fruits and wooden sticks. All you would need are bananas for the white stripes, strawberries for the red stripes, and blueberries to represent the blue in the flag. Why not try this and swap it for the chips or cookies for a snack.
Switching traditional BBQ foods for foods from a different culture is a great way to have healthier options at your party and get people to start talking. This summer take advantage and have a cultural swaportunity!
June 2014 - Staying Cool during the Summer: Bring on the Water
By Tiffany Geoffroy
It is that time of the year again – summer! It’s the season to spend time outdoors; picnicking, hiking, playing sports, and family gatherings well into the long summer nights. But as the temperatures rise so does your need for one very important item – water.
Why is water so important?
Did you know that water makes up more than half of your body weight? Water allows your body to get rid of wastes. It helps your body maintain a normal temperature. It lubricates and cushions joints such as knees and elbows and it is a means for nutrients and oxygen to travel to cells, tissues, and organs.
How much water do you need every day?
There are different recommendations for water intake because different people have different needs. However a general rule is between 6-8 8oz glasses per day. Another method is to calculate intake based on your body weight. First take your weight and divide it in half. This number will give you the number in ounces that you should drink. Take that number and divide it by 8oz to get how many cups a day of water you need to drink. For example a 150lb person will need to drink about 9 cups of water per day. Here’s a site that will calculate your water needs:
How do you know if you are dehydrated?
Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dizziness, headaches, confusion, little or dark urine, constipation, muscle or joint pain. Risk for dehydration increases with:
Being outdoors in hot weather or hot climates
Pregnancy or breastfeeding
Medical conditions such as kidney stones, bladder infections, diarrhea, vomiting, or fever
What are ways you can increase your water intake?
Is water not exciting enough? Flavor it by squeezing in a lemon or lime. Or fill a pitcher with water and place chunks of cut up fruit such as melon, pineapple, oranges, or berries and let sit for an hour. The result - great tasting water with your favorite fruit taste.
Purchase some decaffeinated teas and boil several bags in a pot of water. Pour the water over a pitcher filled with ice. Now you have homemade iced tea with none of the added sugar or calories.
Many fruits and vegetables contain a large percentage of water and these will also count toward your total water intake. Fruits such as watermelons and tomatoes and vegetables such as cucumbers and lettuce are 85-95% water. Have a slice of watermelon as a mid meal snack or tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce are easy additions to any salad or sandwich.
Drink a glass of water or two 15 minutes before you eat a meal.
Carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day that you can refill.
Water vs. Commercial Beverages
Water is inexpensive, has no calories, or added ingredients. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea can dehydrate you. Sodas have no nutritive value and contain added sugars which will add on the pounds. Sports drinks may contain caffeine and oftentimes added sugars. Fruit and vegetable juices although they contain vitamins and minerals may also contain added sugars and salt.
And the award goes to…water!
For most people water is all that is needed to maintain good hydration. It is a daily essential for good health.
May 2014 - Stay Hydrated and Eat Healthy During the Hot Summer Months
By Sarah AfzaalSummer is a great time to relax and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. However, when the hot days of summer come around, dehydration becomes an issue of concern. Water is lost through sweating, breathing, urination, and physical activity. As the weather gets warmer, our nutrition needs are going to change a little bit as well. Sure, the basics stay the same – you need to eat a balanced diet, watch your caloric intake, etc. However, there are some extra things that you have to pay attention to when the temperatures outside start to rise.
Here are some smart nutrition tips to remember this summer:
- Drink more water
Drinking water throughout the day is the best way to hydrate. Consider adding lemon, lime or mint to your water to add some flavor. For those who don’t like the taste of water, flavored water, plain seltzer water, or unsweetened iced tea can be a good choice as long as you watch the sodium content and/or calories. You can also replace fluid and sodium losses with watery foods that contain salt and potassium, such as soup and vegetable juices. Drinks like fruit and vegetable juices, milk and herbal teas can add to the amount of water you should drink each day.
- Cut back on the caffeine & alcohol
Not only do you want to make sure that you are getting enough water in the summer but you also need to make sure that you’re not taking in too much caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea and soda, and it increases your urine output which can further dehydrate you.
- Be smart about your salads
Many people start to eat a lot of fresh salads during the summer months. This is a great idea because salads are easy to prepare, don’t require cooking in a hot kitchen and are healthy for your body. However, you do have to make sure that you’re using smart nutrition when you eat a lot of salad. It’s important to pay attention to how much dressing you put on your salads and what type of dressing you are using. A fresh dressing made from lemons and olive oil is going to be a lot healthier for you than a creamy packaged dressing.
- Eat more fruits & vegetables
Increase your fruit intake. Many fruits provide healthy doses of fluid (such as pineapple, pear, watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, apples and peaches). The added bonus is that these fruits are high in fiber and low in calories. Also, don’t forget the veggies. Increased consumption of certain vegetables can help keep you hydrated in addition to the obvious benefits of healthy food. Cucumber, zucchini, eggplants and bell peppers (you pick the color) are all good examples of such vegetables.
- Drink fruit smoothies instead of eating ice cream
It’s tempting to eat some foods during the summer that are not really nutritious. Ice cream is a great example of one such summer food. Learn to make substitutions so that you’re eating foods that are just as refreshing but a lot healthier for you. Swap your ice cream for a fruit smoothie (made from milk, yogurt and fresh fruit).
- Make sure that your food is fresh
This is a particular concern in the summer because as the weather gets warmer, food spoils more quickly. Make sure that you pay extra attention to the freshness of meats and seafood.
April, 2014 - I Like Eggs
By Victoria Varsos
You may be familiar with Debbie from The Girls Room on The Amanda Show often saying, “I like eggs!” Well, Debbie is on the right track. Eggs have multiple health benefits and are the perfect source of protein.
Many people seem to be afraid of eggs because they think they are high in cholesterol and so will increase their own body’s blood cholesterol levels. But, this is not the case. Research has shown that eating eggs does not have a significant increase on cholesterol levels in the blood. Also, eating a lot of eggs is not linked to a higher risk for heart disease. What has a much bigger effect on your blood cholesterol is actually the amount of saturated fat in your diet. This is the unhealthy fat that’s in things like junk food, desserts, fatty meats, and cheese. If you need to lower your cholesterol levels, eating less saturated fat is the real key. For the general public, there is no reason to be very restrictive about how many eggs you eat and eating eggs along with a varied diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, fish, and low saturated fat is perfectly healthy.
Eggs are packed with nutrients and contain 18 vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants. These are good for your immune system and can help prevent diseases. Eggs also provide the highest quality protein of all foods. 1 large boiled egg has about 80 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat. Eggs can be made many different ways: boiled, scrambled, poached etc. and so they can be a quick and convenient breakfast option that will provide you with a great start to your day. A boiled egg could also be a nutritious and filling snack so this Easter, don’t be afraid to set aside a few to enjoy throughout the week.
March, 2014 - Avocados Beyond Guacamole
By Jessica Alvarez
Avocados are best known for guacamole, however, the health benefits of this fruit deserve much more recognition than being limited to just a dip. Avocados contain several important vitamins, minerals and other components that make up a healthy diet. Recently, they have been called a “super food” because of the many benefits its nutritional profile has. Introducing more avocados into your diet can be a small change on the road to a healthier you.
Avocados are a unique food because they are high in calories and fat, but provide many health benefits. According to the USDA, 1 medium size avocado contains about 29g of fat, with only 4g from the bad fat. The majority of fat is monounsaturated fat (MUFA), the healthy fat that is also found in olive oil and almonds. MUFA’s have been shown to have a protective effect on heart health and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Along with healthy fats, Avocados also contain high amounts of fiber. Fiber is known to help digestion, manage weight, control blood sugar and reduce cholesterol. One fruit contains approximately 14g of fiber and such high amounts can help control hunger as well. The recommended daily intake for fiber is 25-35g per day; however, many Americans don’t meet that recommendation. Therefore, eating more avocados can help meet that number, control your appetite, while providing you with a delicious meal. Studies have proved that regular avocado consumers are not only lower in weight, but overall healthier.
Avocados are also high in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which have protective effects on the heart and other diseases like cancer. They work towards combatting cell damage and death. One phytochemical in particular, the carotenoid, is best known for accelerating the absorption of other nutrients when eaten together. That’s why Avocados in salads can be a great idea! It also contains vitamin E, a popular antioxidant, and significant amounts of other minerals like folate, potassium and magnesium. So, maybe the saying should be- “an avocado a day keeps the doctor away”.
How to add Avocados into the diet
Avocados are a super food, with super powers, and are now recommended for a healthy diet. Unfortunately, it is under consumed in the United States. In a large study of about 17,000 participants, only 2% of people consumed avocados regularly. To eat more of this nutritious fruit consider making simple changes to your normal diet and eating the proper serving size- one eighth of an avocado.
How to use an avocado in recipes
- Use it as a spread on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or butter.
- Cut it up into chunks and put into salads (especially to accelerate the absorption of all the nutrients).
- Enjoy an avocado with an egg for breakfast.
- Add it to a smoothie for that rich, creamy taste.
- Substitute an avocado for butter when baking; use a 1-to-1 ration (example ½ cup avocado instead of ½ cup butter) – it adds some green color too!
February, 2014 - A Heart Healthy Valentines Day
By Susie Polgreen
February 14th has forever been a day of love, romance, and, well- sugar headaches. With Valentines Day right around the corner, why not dodge the sugar coma and show our affection by giving the gift that keeps on giving: health! Although the most popular Valentines Day treats are delicious, they are usually packed with sugar and harmful ingredients. The good news is, there are a ton of healthy choices that can add some nutritious to delicious! This article will talk about the most popular Valentines Day Treats while offering a healthier option that will give the word heartfelt a whole new meaning.
Assorted Chocolate- Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. It’s true, just read the ingredient label. Artificial flavors… Invertase… Sodium MetabisulfiWHAT? We love these boxes because they offer so many mouth-watering choices, but do we really want to eat something that has ingredients we cannot even pronounce? Instead, let’s make our own chocolate covered nuts and strawberries using mixed nuts, fresh strawberries, and dark chocolate. Melt the chocolate in a small pot and cover the strawberries and nuts with it, allowing them to cool for about fifteen minutes. Aim for chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa, for cocoa contains stuff called antioxidants that can improve blood flow and help our hearts work better. More cocoa means more antioxidants and less sugar, so this time around we will know what we are going to get- a lowered risk of heart disease!
Sweetheart’s Candies- A sweet message with an even sweeter taste, these heart shaped candies have become the most popular Valentines Day treat. But with 27 grams of sugar in each tiny box, they are saying much more than “be mine.” So let’s “be smart” and make our own sweet and crunchy snack by using a mixture of dried cherries and peanuts. The cherries have a similar but more natural sweetness- not to mention they are packed with vitamin A, which has been shown to support healthy skin and eyesight. Adding peanuts to the mix will not only give us the same crunch as those sugary candies, they will also give us B-vitamins and healthy fats which have been shown to help our brains work harder.
Valentines Day Cupcakes- Because these pre-made cupcakes are meant to sit on a shelf for most of the Valentines Day season, they almost always have unhealthy ingredients that help them stay on shelves longer. This plus fake colors and flavors can add insult to heart-injury, so it is best to avoid these treats altogether. The good news is that there are way healthier baked goods out there that taste just as sinful, such as this triple chocolate black bean brownie recipe http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe/triple-chocolate-brownies-15530996. With just 150 calories and two grams of fiber, these guilt-free brownies will be kind to your heart and your waistline.
More Heart-Healthy Valentines Day Tips:
Cooking together: Cooking together at home has many benefits over buying pre-made food. Not only is it a great way to spend quality time, it prevents us from eating too much. By making meals and snacks from scratch we are also avoiding many of the unhealthy ingredients added to processed food that are used to keep them fresh.
Dining out: When eating at a restaurant on Valentines Day, choose main dishes that include vegetables and aim for steamed, broiled, or grilled meats. Overeating is a common problem while dining out, so sharing a main dish or ordering an appetizer-sized portion will help keep the meal light in calories, fat, and sugar.
Being active: Go ice skating, skiing, or take a couples dance class! Exercise releases good chemicals in our bodies that will improve our mood and really put the “happy” in Happy Valentine’s Day!
by Christine Quinn
As the holiday season comes to a close and a new year begins, many of us tend to look back and regret how much and how unhealthy we ate. Family gatherings, holiday office parties, catching up with friends to exchange good cheer can wreak havoc on our waist line. But rather than scolding ourselves, it is time to leave the past in the past. You can start again today! Today is the day you can decide for yourself that you want to get back on track to a healthier you.
Every year, we all make resolutions hoping to improve ourselves: begin exercising or exercise more often, get in shape, lose weight. But, many times we start without a clear plan of attack and before we know it, we are back to our old routine and our well intentioned resolutions are left in the dust. Luckily though, with a little planning and commitment, you can make your resolutions a reality.
First, on a piece of paper or in a notebook, write down one resolution (the GOAL) you want to make happen. By writing, it down, it helps you to consciously make a commitment to improve yourself and your health. For example:
The Resolution/Goal: Lose Weight
Next, break down your resolution into 3 smaller goals that can help you to obtain your resolution. For example, rather than focusing on how many pounds you want to lose, focus on the steps that to take that can get you there:
2-eat less high calorie/high fat foods
3-eat more fruits and vegetables
Next, for each of your smaller goals, make them more specific. Start small and identify ways that you feel you are most likely going to do.
1-start exercising - go for a walk 2 times a week for 15minutes each day
2-eat less high calorie/high fat foods - substitute 1 high calorie/high fat food with a healthier version daily
3-eat more fruits and vegetables- add 1 serving of fruit or vegetable to 1 meal daily
Next, choose one of your smaller goals and pick a start date as well as a goal date. A goal date is the date in which you want your specific goal to become a part of your daily or weekly routine. When choosing goal dates, it is important to make them realistic, meaning that you are willing and able to do the activity you selected within a particular time period. Don’t make goal dates too short. By giving yourself more time, it can help to remove the pressure from making it happen immediately which is where many of us tend to lose steam and end up giving up all together on our resolutions. After you have chosen your dates, write them on a calendar, marking the start and goal date as well as the days of the week you will do the activity.
For example, let’s begin with our first smaller goal (start exercising):
-During the second week of January, I will begin walking 2 times a week (Wednesday and Saturday) for 15minutes each day.
-My goal date is the 4 weeks from the start.
Finally, it is time to begin. Work on each smaller goal individually. As one becomes a part of your daily routine, add another smaller goal or increase the amount of time you spend on the same goal. For example, you are at goal date and for the last 4 weeks you have been walking twice a week for 15 minutes each. You can revise the goal to include more days (such as walk 4 times a week) or increase the time you spend walking (walk twice a week for 30 minutes each). Make another goal date and begin again. Before you know it, you are making changes in your daily routine that will help improve your health in the long run!
December 2013 - Don’t let the Party Crashers ruin your Holiday Parties!
By Ching Man Macy Chow
The holidays season is coming soon! They are fun and joyous occasions when family and friends get together for parties and enjoy scrumptious food. You do not want to invite germ that causes food-borne illnesses to your party.
There are a lot of foodborne bacteria, but certain kinds love to be party crashers. Clostridium perfringens and Listeria monocytogenes are often found in foods from unsafe food handling like not washing your hands while preparing foods, and not keeping foods hot/cold enough. Some foodborne bacteria are not detectable from smell or taste. Follow the simple rules to prevent your loved ones from getting sick.
Party Crasher 1: Clostridium perfringens
Clostridium perfringens is often found in food that are in the cafeteria due to the long hours (more than 2 hours) of food being on the counter.
Party Crasher 2: Listeria monocytogenes
Listeria monocytogenes are often found in cold foods because it multiplies slowly at room temperature. To avoid this party crasher, make sure to follow "keep refrigerated" label directions and "sell by" or "use by" dates on food labels.
Preparing Food for Your Party
- Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean
- Serve food on clean plates
Use a food thermometer
Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of certain foods to make sure they are cooked thoroughly. Always reheat solid leftovers to 165 °F. Reheat liquid leftovers to a rolling boil.
Keep Cold Foods Cold
If you are serving cold foods in a buffet style, you should be keep foods cold by putting bags of ice under the plates.
Keep Hot Foods Hot
If you are serving hot foods in a buffet style, you should be keep foods hot using chafing dishes, and heating trays at 140 °F or warmer.
The Thaw Law
Always plan ahead to defrost foods. The best way to thaw perishable foods is in the refrigerator. Never thaw food at room temperature.
Follow the two-hour rule!
Chill leftovers within 2 hours. Keep the refrigerator at 40 °F or below and use a refrigerator thermometer to check the temperature. Germs start to multiply if food is on the counter for over 2 hours.
November 2013 - Bread – The Staff of Life
By Oxana Kraynyak
One of the most comforting smells in the world is the aroma of baking bread. It fills a kitchen with warmth, love and eager appetites. This irresistible smell reminds us of our home and heartfelt family gatherings. It brings about pleasurable memories and a smile to our face…
There are thousands of different kinds of breads. Yeast breads, flat breads, sourdough, quick, fruit, spicy, country, multigrain, gluten-free, whole wheat, rye, and specialty flour breads to name some of them. Many cultures have their own traditional kinds of breads to celebrate important events in one’s life like weddings or childbirth. There are also special breads to celebrate holidays. Often, small loaves of sweet breads are given as gifts to thank special people in our lives or to express love and care.
Each kind of bread has its own ingredients, texture, taste and special character. They all have their distinct features and purposes. Just to help you select the bread with optimal nutrition, I will explain the key differences between multigrain, whole grain and whole wheat breads.
Multigrain bread is usually made from a variety of different types of grains, such as wheat, oat, and barley. However, the label has to clearly state that the bread is made from whole grain. Without this indication, the multigrain bread is often made using refined grains and refined flour and, therefore, is missing the key nutrients found in the bran and germ.
“Whole grain” means that the flour used to produce this bread is made from all parts of the grain kernel – the bran, germ, and endosperm. The bran and germ are the most nutritious parts of the wheat grain. They contain vitamins B1, B2, B3, E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron and dietary fiber. During the refinement process, the majority of these nutrients are lost. For example, regular white bread is made from refined grains, which go through a process that strips out certain parts of the grain along with some of the nutrients and fiber. So, when you select bread, choose the superior taste and nutrition of whole grain bread.
There are two kinds of whole wheat bread: regular whole wheat bread and white whole wheat bread. Regular whole wheat bread is made from red whole wheat grain, so it has all the great benefits of whole grains. White whole-wheat bread is made from white whole wheat grain, and is as beneficial as the regular whole wheat bread; however, the color and texture of it is much lighter and resembles white bread. Essentially, the two kinds of whole wheat bread are nutritionally the same and provide you with best nutrition.
Although, today some people blame bread as an evil food and part of the problem of obesity, it is actually not true. In spite of what you might have heard, bread has its well-deserved place in a healthy diet. Of course, whole wheat or whole grain breads are the best choices from a nutritional point of view.
It is a great pleasure to bake your own bread. Better yet, baking your own bread allows you to make breads that are very healthy - high in protein, fiber, many vitamins, and minerals; low in fat and sugar; without any preservatives, artificial sweeteners or flavor enhancers. You can always add a variety of seeds, nuts, whole grains, or herbs to suit your needs. In fact, bread baking could be simple and easy to incorporate into your busy schedule. One option is to invest into a good bread machine. It will take care of all the steps of the bread making process, and the result would be a perfect loaf of bread every time. Your job is just to gather the best ingredients, put them into the machine container, select the program, and rest assured that you will consistently have a delicious loaf of healthy bread baked to perfection. I have been using my bread machine at least two-three times a week for more than five years. There are many great bread machine recipe books that will give you plenty of ideas and inspiration. Happy baking! :)
November 2013 - Pumpkin is a super food during the holidays and beyond!
By Elena Kochin
When Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner we would see more and more of this delightful vegetable almost in every grocery store or farmer’s market. Pumpkin truly is a gold mine of nutrients. It is low on calories, therefore 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin has only 45 calories, and it is also an excellent source of dietary fiber and potassium. Orange fruits and vegetables such as pumpkin have a lot of vitamin A, that promotes good eyesight and important for many bodily functions. Pumpkin’s seeds are full of protein, fiber, B vitamins, minerals and healthful fats such as Omega 6 and Omega 9, which will be helpful in improving your heart health and immune support. Pumpkin is a multipurpose ingredient that can be used in either sweet or savory dishes. When cooking you can use either canned or fresh pumpkin, however if you are going to use canned pumpkin look for 100 percent canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, which has some other ingredients added to it. Here is some ways you can sneek this very special vegetable into your favorite recipes.
Oatmeal: Simply stir some pumpkin puree in a smooth bowl of oats and topped it with pecans, then put just a touch of maple syrup and your boring breakfast just become a treat!
Yogurt: You can mix ½ cup of low-fat Greek yogurt with ¼ cup pumpkin puree. Voilà! The new and improved yogurt!
Hummus: Combine some of pumpkin puree with a regular hummus to give it just slightly sweeter taste. This dish will become a favorite snack for your whole family.
Pumpkin Pickles: Pickle slices of pumpkin and use it instead of regular pickles for any sandwich or as a side dish!
Mac-n-Cheese with a twist: Mix some pureed pumpkin into your Mac-n-Cheese for a healthier version of it!
Quesadillas: Put some chopped and slightly sautéed pumpkin together with jalapeños, chicken and cheese between the tortillas. Enjoy your new, yet familiar quesadillas!
Ravioli: Wrap up creamy pumpkin and cheese filling with a pasta shell to create this tasty autumn dish. It is sweet, healthy and fulfilling!
Cookies: Try spice up the regular oatmeal chocolate chip cookie with some new taste. Put some of that bright colored pumpkin puree and some cranberry into the dough for your friends and family!
Protein shakes: Perfect for anytime snack or just to satisfy your pumpkin cravings! Just blend some pumpkin puree to your shake and enjoy a “pumpkin pie smoothie”!
Pumpkin seeds: They can be roasted in the oven and used for a delicious snack any time of the day!
Be creative, feel good and most important - have fun!
October 2013 - Fall In Love with Fruits and Vegetables!
By Jennifer Chung
The cool fall brings us crisp air, colorful leaves, and surprisingly, a large variety of seasonal produce. In-season fruits and vegetables are in its greatest abundance, cheaper than off-season produce, and in their peak flavor. In addition, eating fruits and vegetables lowers our calorie intake and helps prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends us to make half our plate fruits and vegetables. In other words, half of your food intake per day should be fruits and vegetables! Take advantage of this season by saving money on your groceries, trying out different fruits and vegetables, and eating healthy!
What is in-season now?
There are many fruits and vegetables in season for the fall: apples, grapes, pumpkins, winter squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, pears, and more!
Here is a link for a list of the fall season produce:
Eat, Eat, Eat!
Before grocery shopping, plan ahead and write a list. Try a new in-season fruit and take advantage of eating produce during the time of year they taste the best. After cutting up produce, save it in the fridge so you can snack on them later. Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your meals and snacks. For example, you can add grapes to chicken salads. Raw fruits can also make great snacks. To mix it up, try adding fruits like pears and cranberries to vanilla yogurt. If you have a sweet tooth you can top it with granola and a little bit of honey.
Not In-Season? No Problem
I'm sure there are fruits and vegetables you and your family members love that are not in-season during the fall. Other options in buying produce that is not in-season, is buying them frozen or canned. Fruits and vegetables are frozen and canned at their peak freshness. In addition, frozen and canned out-of-season produce is usually cheaper than fresh out-of-season produce.
Don't Fall Out of the Habit!
Unfortunately fall will come to an end. However, this will give you the opportunity to try different fruits and vegetables that are in season during the winter, spring and summer. Continuing to use your skills of eating in-season fruits and vegetables will never get you bored of eating healthy!
September 2013 – Fuel Your Studies with Whole Food
By Stephanie Dunne
Around the country students are getting into the swing of another school year. For many, the start of school means less time to go to the grocery store and cook meals, as homework and afterschool activities fill the days. When things get busy, it’s easy to rely on vending machines, frozen dinners and fancy coffee drinks for fuel. But many of these “fast” foods won’t give you the energy or the nutrients you need to succeed at school and stay healthy.
Finishing a full day of studies, workouts, music lessons, clubs, and volunteering is much easier when your body has all that it needs to function properly. By following these simple steps, you will ensure you are getting everything your body needs to perform well.
Choosing unhealthy foods is easy when you are in the middle of a busy day and realize you are hungry. Planning ahead means you will have healthy foods like vegetables, fruit, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy products on hand when it’s time for a meal or snack. It also means you won’t have to figure out what to eat when you are already hungry.
Choose food with your head.
Because the cafeteria is full of pizza, fries and potato chips, you might struggle to make healthy choices. But the cafeteria has plenty of healthy options too, if you take the time to choose food with your head and not your stomach. Choose a baked chicken breast with a side of steamed vegetables, a turkey wrap with low-fat cheese, or a salad with tuna and low-fat dressing to ensure you get the energy you need to stay focused for the rest of the day.
Keep healthy snacks handy.
When hunger strikes, it’s easy to reach for a candy bar or other sugary food to stop your stomach from growling. Rather than reaching for food that can cause you to crash, keep healthy snacks in your backpack or locker for a quick pick-me-up. An apple, baby carrots, almonds, low-fat yogurt, and whole-grain crackers are tasty, nutritious foods that are also convenient.
Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, give you headaches, and reduce your performance in all of your activities. Staying hydrated is one of the best (and easiest!) things you can do for yourself. Keep a water bottle in your backpack so that you always have it near-by when you want a drink. And avoid fancy coffee drinks and smoothies for hydration as they often have extra sugar and fat that you don’t need.
By eating whole foods and staying hydrated, you will be properly fueled to succeed at school and stay healthy in the process.
Last modified: Jul 15, 2014