Sunday, December 25, 2016

Eggs- you can enjoy them again

Eggs, who doesn’t like eggs?  Hard-boiled, egg salad sandwiches, scrambled, so many ways to enjoy eggs for breakfast and lunch.   But for years, eggs have gotten a bad wrap.  Many people avoid eggs or eat them sparingly because of the cholesterol scare.  And for years, the American Heart Association recommended limiting our egg consumption. But newer research says we can enjoy eggs once again.

What about eggs and cholesterol?
New research has not found a link between egg consumption and heart disease, even among men at genetic risk for heart disease.  It seems high blood cholesterol levels are more linked to the saturated fat in meats rather than the cholesterol in eggs.  In one Finnish study, over 1,000 men were followed for 21 years.  They found egg consumption and dietary cholesterol did not significantly increase risk of heart disease.  But they didn’t over consume eggs either, about one egg a day.    

How many eggs?
Some nutrition experts say you can enjoy from 5-7 eggs a week.  Keri Gans, R. D. states,For the average person, two eggs a day is totally fine.”  Another source states, “… recent studies have shown that regular consumption of two eggs per day does not affect a person’s lipid profile and may, in fact, improve it.”

Enjoy the eggs but still limit the saturated fat from some sides
Too often eggs are accompanied with bacon, sausage and hash browns.  Bacon and sausage are high in fat and in saturated fat.  Hash browns are high in fat.  Enjoy the eggs, but limit the sides or enjoy healthier sides, such as whole wheat toast.  Limit bacon to one to two slices and occasionally.

What do the Dietary Guidelines  say?
These government guidelines provide us “rules for eating” and how we can eat healthier.  The old Dietary Guidelines told us to limit our cholesterol to 300 mg a day, or about 2 eggs a day.  The latest round of Dietary Guidelines takes away the limit of 300 mg of cholesterol and even notes that eggs are good sources of protein and are nutrient rich. 

Why eat eggs?
  • Protein – eggs are not only a great protein source (6 grams protein per egg), but egg protein is a very high quality protein.
  • Nutrients – eggs, especially the yolk are rich in many vitamins and minerals and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Low cost – eggs are low in cost, about 25 cents an egg depending on brand.
  • Calories – eggs are low in calories
What do Nutritionists say?
Ruth Kava, director of nutrition for the American Council on Science and Health told WebMD:  “I am very happy with eggs.  Eggs have a high nutritional value, an excellent quality of protein, are only 70-80 calories each, and are not high in fat.”

So, enjoy some eggs this week.  For scrambled eggs, add some cheese to increase the protein and the calcium level.  Or make some egg frittatas with diced onion, green and red pepper.  Add some fresh cut up spinach leaves to boost vitamin A and folic acid.  An easy egg frittata muffin recipe has some chopped zucchini, red pepper and red onion. As noted in the recipe, you can make them ahead and then microwave in the oven for a quick snack or a quick breakfast.   They offer a lighter version with reduced fat-cheese for those interested in lowering the calories and the fat.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Food Trends in 2017

What new food trends might we see in 2017?  Many food websites are making predictions for trends you will see in 2017.  Here are some of them.
Eat This, Not That is predicting these 2017 Food Trends:
  1. Sour Dough bread – if you like it, great as you will be seeing more sour dough bread in 2017.  Eat This, Not That believes it is because sour dough bread is fine to eat for those who are sensitive to gluten.  (But still not fine for those who are gluten intolerant.)  And some experts say the bacteria in sour dough bread is great for your digestive system, so enjoy every bite.
  2. Spices – what’s so new about spices?  McCormick notes that in 2017 we will be enjoying even more spicy foods like more peppercorn will be spicing up restaurant menus.
  3.  Move over regular pasta and make way for alternative pasta – many of us have already enjoyed zucchini noodles, quinoa-based noodles but more varieties are forthcoming in 2017.
Environmental Nutrition:  Food Trends in 2017
  1. More Healthy Fats – for the longest time we have heard, “Cut the Fat”.  In 2017 we will be hearing, “Add the Healthy Fat”.   We will be told to include more healthy fats in our diets, such as nuts, olive oil, avocados and seeds like flax seed.  You will be seeing more products – snacks, cereals, and snack bars that have healthy fats.
  2. Snacking – how often do people say, “Snacks are Bad for You”.  But snacks can have a very important role to play, especially for kids as they have small stomachs and kids need snacks between meals.  The focus in 2017 will be on healthy snacks – whole grain foods like whole grain crackers, whole grain chips (Sun Chips anyone?), nuts, and vegetables. 
  3. Healthier Convenience Foods – many people are looking for foods easier to prepare and eat on the go.  Already we are seeing grab and go foods like salads, or fruit and cheese.   Expect to see more of these grab-and-go convenience foods but healthier options will be available.
  4. Less sugar – a lot of attention is being placed on cutting back on added sugars – not the sugar in foods naturally like the fructose in an apple, but the added sugars like all the sugar in a soda.  Expect to see more products in 2017 with less added sugar which is a great thing for our health.
Huffington Post – not a peer reviewed journal but the senior editor, Julie R. Thomson has made some food trend predictions for 2017.  Her predictions are based on the Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants predictions for 2017.
  1.  Spice it up – this is a good trend as spices are so healthy and full of antioxidants.   
  2. Lean meats – look for restaurants offering lean meat cuts of elk and venison.
  3. Mediterranean cuisine – this is also a healthy trend as the Mediterranean Diet is a very healthy way of eating.   
Great that 2017 will be focusing on old favorites like sour dough bread and new items like healthier convenience foods.  Let’s see how many of these food predictions come true in 2017. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Breakfast On the Go

Traveling this holiday season?  Who isn’t up for a fast food breakfast?  My favorite is a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, orange juice and black coffee.  Are there healthier breakfast choices at fast food establishments?  What are the not so healthy choices? The ones loaded with fat, sugar and calories?
WebMD has a great slide show, Better Best for Fast-Food Breakfast.
Healthier Breakfast Options
Egg McMuffin – only 300 calories, 12 grams of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat.  Yes, there is bacon but it’s lean Canadian bacon so more protein and less fat. 
Egg White Delight McMuffin – if you want less cholesterol – 250 calories, 8 grams fat and 4.5 grams saturated fat

Breakfasts to pass on
Big Breakfast with Hotcakes – a whopping 1050 calories with lots of fat (56 grams) and lots of saturated fat (19 grams) and loaded with sodium, 1960 mg.
Burger King
Healthier Breakfast Options
Egg & Cheese Croissan’wich - like the Egg McMuffin this sandwich has only 300 calories.  Not so much fat at 15 grams and less saturated fat at 7 grams.  A less than half the sodium at 580 mg.  A good thing about this sandwich is the protein, 11 grams of protein. This will give you some “staying power” until lunch time. 

Breakfasts to pass on
King Croissan’wich with Sausage and Bacon – 580 calories and loaded with fat (39 grams) and saturated fat (16 grams).  Plus a whopping 1,370 mg of sodium.  Sounds tasty with a sausage patty, thick bacon, double cheese and eggs on a croissant.
King Croissan’ich with Double Sausage – even more calories at 700 calories, 51 grams of fat and 20 grams of saturated fat along with 1410 mg sodium.  Not a heart healthy choice.
Healthier Breakfast Options
Choose the Spinach & Feta Breakfast Wrap.  Only 290 calories with 10 grams fat and only 3.5 grams saturated fat.  And it will have “staying power” as it provides 19 grams of protein.  Even some fiber (6 grams) which so many Americans are lacking in their diets. 
For a super nutrition boost, choose Classic Whole-Grain Oatmeal – always a heart healthy choice. Very low in calories at 160 calories, before the toppings you add. 
Greek Yogurt Parfait – yogurt is always a healthy choice with the probiotics it provides and a healthy protein.  It has some fresh berries and some honey for 250 calories.

Breakfasts to pass on
Sausage & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich – has 500 calories, 28 grams of fat and 9 grams of saturated fat.  Does provide some protein, 15 grams but along with it is all that fat and saturated fat.
Healthier Breakfast Options
Choose the 3” Egg and Cheese with only 170 calories, it would fit into anyone’s diet.  It has only 5 grams of fat and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat.  For some, this won’t be enough calories, for others it would fit well into their diet plan.  It also offers a good amount of protein at 9 grams.  To boost the nutrition of this breakfast choice, add tomatoes, green peppers, onions and other low calorie veggies. 

Breakfasts to pass on
Not really too bad a choice, the 6” Bacon, Egg, and Cheese.  It will have “staying power” as it packs a good 25 grams of protein.  Not too high in calories at 440 calories.  It does have 17 grams of fat, and 6 grams of saturated fat.  Because of the bacon and other ingredients it does pack a sodium punch at 1290 mg sodium. But overall, not too bad a choice.

Before going out for breakfast, take some time to look at the nutrition tables online.  Most fast food places have very detailed nutrition information on their website.  Check out the total calories, fat grams, saturated fat grams and sodium of your fast food menu item.  You also should think about the protein in breakfast as protein will have the “staying power” to help you keep off the hunger pains until lunch time.

Sources:  Better Best for Fast-Food Breakfast   Image source: Breakfast

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Diet Chocolate?

Chocolate was in the news this week.  Nestle is planning to reformulate chocolate to make it lower in calories.  Who doesn’t love chocolate?  And more recently they have discovered chocolate actually has many health benefits.   But the downside has been that chocolate is often loaded with sugar and fat which somewhat negates its health benefits.  So, what does Nestle plan to do to make chocolate lower in calories?

Nestle will lower the sugar content in chocolate.
Lowering the sugar content sounds good from a calorie and health perspective but not from a taste perspective. 

How can Nestle lower the sugar content but keep the taste?
Restructure the Sugar Molecule: Nestle has found a way to basically reform the sugar crystal, making it hollow on the inside.  But one still gets the sweet taste from the hollowed-out sugar crystal so they say the reduced sugar chocolate will still taste sweet.  The Nestle technology officer explained it this way, the new sugar crystal is like an empty shoe box.  The sugar is on the outside but no sugar on the inside.  The sugar on the outside dissolves in the mouth and there is less sugar to go into your stomach. 

When will the reduced-calorie chocolate be available?
Nestle has a target date of 2018.  So, no reduced calorie chocolate as gifts this holiday season. 

How much of a calorie reduction will there be?

Nestle estimates as much as a 40% reduction in calories – a lot. 

What products will be made from the reduced calorie chocolate?

Nestle indicated the new sugar crystals will be in Crunch, Butterfinger, and BabyRuth bars beginning in 2018.
Unfortunately, we will have to wait awhile before we can buy and enjoy our reduced calorie chocolate.   Chocolate lovers will welcome this new trend. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The 5 Second Rule – A Myth?

Who hasn’t used the 5 second rule?  You drop some food on the floor and if it is less than 5 seconds, is it safe to eat?  If it is on the floor longer than 5 seconds, is it really more contaminated?  Does the type of floor matter?  The type of food?  Is the 5 Second Rule another food myth?   Believe it or not, researchers have actually studied the 5 second rule.  What foods did they drop and what did they find?

A number of researchers have studied the 5 Second Rule the most recent study about Myth Debunked, was published in September in the journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.  Previously, a high school student studied gummy bears and fudge-striped cookies dropped on a floor contaminated with E. coli.  He found that food was contaminated in less than 5 seconds.   So, what did the 2016 researchers find?

What is the 5 Second Rule – the belief is if you drop any food on the ground/floor and pick it up in less than 5 seconds, the food is less contaminated and thus, “safe” to eat.
Type of surface – the researchers studied dropping food onto different surfaces: stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet. 
Bacteria – they coated each of these surfaces with bacteria, the bacterium Enterobacter aerogens
Food – they dropped watermelon, plain bread, buttered bread and gummy candy on the different surfaces.
Time elapsed – they let each of these foods be on the ground for 1, 5, 30 or 300 seconds (5 minutes)
Their findings:
The longer the fallen food touched the surface, the greater the contamination.  But even after 1 second, there was some contamination. 
Watermelon, because of its greater water content, was the most contaminated of the foods tested.

Some take-a-ways: 
  1. The longer food is on the ground, the more contaminated. 
  2. Wetter foods, like watermelon, are more contaminated than foods without much water, like hard candies.
  3. Foods falling on carpet are less contaminated than foods falling on ceramic tile or the other surfaces tested.
  4. Foods falling on the floor for 5 seconds or less, are not likely to make you sick.

The Berkeley Wellness Letter reviewed this study and noted:  There is a big difference picking up a cracker from a just-cleaned dry kitchen floor, versus the floor near the cat litter box.  So consider where the food has been dropped before munching down the dropped item.

Sources:  Myth Debunked, Berkeley Wellness Letter, Image Source:  Five Second

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Protect Yourself and Family from Colds and Flu

Now that the weather has turned colder, it is time to think about how you can protect yourself and family members from getting colds or flu this winter.   There are many things people can do in terms of diet, exercise and habits that can greatly reduce your chances of getting sick.  

What diet and other changes can you focus on to boost your immune system and keep you healthy?

     1.   Fruits and Vegetables – 5 A Day is the suggested amount but eating even more than 5 A Day during the cold and flu season is a wise choice.
a.       Antioxidants for your immune system: Fruits and vegetables are not only full of vitamins and minerals but also antioxidants that can help you fight off those infections and build your immune system.  But each color of fruit and vegetable has different antioxidants.  To ensure you are getting a wide range of colors, vary your colors.  Include many different kinds of fruits and vegetables each day.
b.       Frozen Fruits and Vegetables – there may be less of a selection of fresh produce this time of year, but don’t hesitate to enjoy frozen fruits and vegetables.  They offer the same nutritional value, the antioxidants and help your immune system.  Most frozen fruits and vegetables are picked when ripe and frozen right after being harvested thus preserving the vitamins and minerals. 
c.       Berries – are especially rich in antioxidants.  Keep some frozen berries on hand to add to your morning oatmeal, some yogurt or a smoothie.
d.       Frozen or fresh vegetables – make some homemade soup and add in some frozen or fresh vegetables. 
    2.  Vitamin E – we all think of vitamin C to prevent colds, but vitamin E has an important role to play in enhancing our immune system. Studies have shown this vitamin improves our response to the flu vaccine, and helps ward off colds and other upper respiratory infections.
a.       Vitamin E rich foods include:
                                                               i.      Nuts:  walnuts, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts
                                                             ii.      Seeds:  sunflower seeds
                                                           iii.      Oils:  olive oil, wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil.  One tablespoon meets your daily needs.
                                                           iv.      Peanut butter, wheat germ
                                                             v.      Fruits and Vegetables: leafy greens like kale, spinach,  kiwi, mango, tomatoes
To add vitamin E to your day, use the oils noted in cooking, sautéing food, use in salad dressings.
3.  Zinc – have a cold?  You can buy lozenges with zinc added.   Zinc has been shown to reduce the length of a cold and research shows zinc can boost one’s immune system. 
a.       Protein Foods: Most of us get enough zinc as protein foods like turkey, chicken, lamb, pork, oysters, pork, and yogurt are rich in zinc. 
b.       Plant sources of zinc:  nuts, seeds, beans, chickpeas and whole grains.
       4.    Fluids – drink plenty of fluids.  Water is always good, but add some green tea.  Green tea has antioxidants to reduce inflammation. One doesn’t have to drink 8 glasses of water a day as soups, tea, coffee, milk also count as fluids.
5.     Walk – what does walking have to do with colds and flu?  Studies have shown that people who walk at least 20 minutes a day are less likely to get sick.  And when they did get sick, their symptoms were milder than those who walked less. Walking doesn’t have to be outside.  You can walk at malls, go up and down stairs, walk to a co-worker’s office instead of sending an email.

To incorporate some of these ideas this week:
Cook with olive oil, add a handful of nuts to your day, pack a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, add some fruit to your oatmeal or make a smoothie with some berries.  Use a salad dressing with olive oil on a salad of leafy greens (not iceberg lettuce).  Take a walk at lunch or after dinner. There are many, simple ways to boost your immune system. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Whole Grains for a Longer, Healthier Life

Watching your carbs?  Who hasn’t heard people who say, “I am watching my carbs.”?  Well, you should “watch your carbs” to make sure you are getting whole grains in your diet every day.  Most Americans are getting enough grains in their diet, but not enough whole grains.

The Whole Grains Council lists many benefits of eating whole grains. Reduce your risk for many diseases.  Eating whole grains can reduce your risk of:
o   Stroke by 30-36%
o   Type 2 diabetes by 21-30%
o   Heart disease by 25-28%
                And, contrary to public opinion, whole grains can make maintaining your weight easier.

The American Heart Association in articles in Circulation, noted replacing refined grains like white bread with whole grains like whole wheat bread and whole grain cereals lowered one’s risk of heart disease (Replace refined grains with whole grains).   Another article Whole grains and total deaths)  looked at many studies and reported whole grains lowered one overall risk of death by lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. 

Why are whole grains so healthy?  Because they contain the entire grain, the bran, germ and endosperm, whole grains are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber.  When manufacturers refine grains to make white bread, white flour, many minerals and vitamins are removed and not added back.  Whole grains also provide phytochemicals which have many health benefits. 

Aim for at least 3 servings of whole grains a day.  MyPlate recommends half your grains each day should be whole grains. How can you add more whole grains to your day? 
  • Cereal – choose a whole grain cereal for breakfast.  Oatmeal, Cheerios are whole grain.  All General Mills cereals are whole grain.
  • Popcorn – enjoy as a snack with only a little butter.
  • Whole grain bread, whole grain bagels – use whole grain bread in a sandwich for lunch
  •  Whole grain hamburger buns, whole grain hot dog buns – not always easy to find but they are available
  • Whole grain crackers – Triscuits, Wheat Thins
  • Brown rice or wild rice
  •  Quinoa
  •  Whole grain pasta – if you don’t like the taste of whole grain pasta, add only some to your pasta.  Start with only about 10% whole grain pasta and work up to 50%.

2 ways to know if a food is whole grain
  1. Ingredient list – look for whole grain as the first item on the ingredient list such as:  whole wheat, whole corn, whole rye
  2. Look for the Whole Grain Stamp – one is for foods providing 16 grams of whole grain and all ingredients are whole grain, or 8 grams of whole grain per serving and providing some refined grain.
This week, find some ways to add whole grains to your diet and the diet of your kids.  Let your kids choose a General Mills cereal so they can enjoy some whole grains for breakfast this week.  Eating at Subway, choose the bread with whole grain in it, 9-Grain Honey Oat bread.

For a great resource on whole grains, visit Today’s Dietitian and read:  Impact of Whole Grains on Health

Sunday, November 6, 2016

How to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies

Everyone knows fruits and vegetables are good for your health.  But many parents don’t know about half of what a kid eats should be fruits and vegetables.  MyPlate shows a plate with half the plate being fruits and veggies.  Many parents aren’t serving kids even one fruit or vegetable at a meal, let alone 2 at each meal.  In fact, statistics show only 22% of kids ages 2-5 are getting the recommended servings of vegetables. For older kids, it’s even worse with only 16% of kids ages 6-11 and only 11% of kids ages 12 to 18 are getting the recommended vegetable servings.  Even then the vegetable is often French fries or chips.     

Many nutritionists and health care professionals offer tips to parents on how to get kids to eat their veggies (and their fruit).
  1.  One bite rule – child care centers often invoke this rule.  A child has to take at least one bite before they get to veto the food.  The child may find they actually like the food but if not, at least they have given it a try before saying “no”.
  2. Cute names – many studies have shown that giving a food a cute name will get a child to eat that food.  “Mighty Green Beans” are more likely to be eaten.  Try different names to see what works.
  3. Cooking – get kids to help with cooking or help in the kitchen.  USDA has a helpful guide on how to get even preschoolers to help out in the kitchen. 

2 year olds
3 year olds
4 year olds
5 year olds
Wipe tables
Add ingredients
Peel eggs
Measure liquids
Tear lettuce or greens
Scoop out mashed potatoes
Set the table
Use an egg beater
Snap green beans
Squeeze citrus, lemons
Crack eggs
Cut soft foods with a dull knife
Rinse vegetables or fruit
Stir batter like pancake batter
Help measure ingredients
Clearing the table after a meal
Make “faces” out of fruit and vegetable pieces
Name and count foods
Help make sandwiches, toss salads
Scrubbing vegetables (potatoes, mushrooms)

4.   Try different forms of the fruit or vegetable – a child might not like apples unless they are peeled.  Try fresh, frozen, dried, canned foods to see what your child likes better.  Some children won’t drink juice with pulp in it but like juice without pulp. 5.       Serve fruit and or vegetables at every meal.

a.       Breakfast – add fruit to cereal
b.       Lunch – Pack – 2 fruits/vegetables in lunch: cut up vegetables, a salad, hummus, add a box of raisins
c.       Snacks – piece of fruit, raw vegetables with a dip, box of raisins
d.       Dinner – always serve 2 fruits/vegetables at dinner.  Add veggies to frozen pizza, add more cut up vegetables to the salad mix.  

Try some Recipes:  Fruits & Vegetables like Fruity Frozen Treats, Mango Salsa and make them with your kids.  USDA has Cooking with Kids guides for cooking with preschoolers, elementary school and Fast Meals & Quick Snacks for middle and high school age kids.

So this week, try to get your kids in the kitchen and eating at least one and hopefully 2 fruits and vegetables at lunch and dinner.