Sunday, June 30, 2019

Nutrition in the News

Some nutrition and exercise news you may have missed.  Like to go out to eat?  Which restaurant is revising its menu?  No time to exercise?  What would a brisk walk for 10 minutes a day do for your health?

1.    Which restaurant is revising its menu?  Panera bread will soon have ten new choices on their menu.  But only in Lexington, KY and Providence, RI in September 2019.  But if successful, you may be seeing these items in your Panera in the not too distant future.  What are some of the new offerings?

a.       Flatbreads:

·         Artisan flatbread – one of my favorite appetizers when we go out to eat so glad to hear that Panera bread is testing the addition of this to their menu. 
·         Margherita Artisan Flatbread – fresh mozzarella, fontina, a tomato and bell pepper sauce, some red grape tomatoes and fresh basil.  Sounds delicious.
·         Steak & Blue Cheese Flatbread – the stead will be from grass-fed beef, and blue cheese, fresh mozzarella and fontina with a garlic cream sauce, some caramelized onions, arugula and a sweet balsamic glaze.
·         Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Artisan Flatbread – chicken, bacon, a garlic cream sauce, some fresh mozzarella and fontina, some red grape tomatoes, and fresh cilantro with a chipotle aioli (a Mediterranean sauce made up of olive oil and garlic).   
b.      New sandwiches
·         Toasted Pastrami Sandwich – served hot
·         Toasted Tuscan Grilled Chicken Sandwich – also served hot
c.       New Bowls
·         Teriyaki Chicken & Broccoli Bowl – which the Delish Lifestyle Editor claimed was a healthier Panda Express type meal
·         Pesto Chicken Bowl
Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli Bowl
d.    New Salads to try like the Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad

2.     Exercise – a new study finds that even 10 minutes of brisk walking a day which equates to an hour a week, can add to your health.  Researchers studied 1,564 people (ages 45-79), who stated they had some pain or stiffness in their knees or hips.  Those who walked briskly for about 55 minutes a week or about 10 minutes a day were found to have fewer joint problems four years later.  Many people say they have no time to exercise but aiming for a fast-paced 10 -minute walk a day can fit into most people’s schedules.  And some short, but more frequent, walking breaks can lower your blood sugar levels.  Exercise helps get the sugar out of your blood and into your muscles so getting in some walking, taking the stairs, just being more active is a healthy thing to do.

I like to eat at Panera and look forward to their new menu.  I hope their testing phase is a short one and their new menu items are available at all Panera’s soon.  Summer is a great time to get in some extra walking.  Try early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperature isn’t so hot.  

Sources:  Panera, aioli, Editor, Exercise, sugar  Images:  menu items,  Bowls. Walking

Sunday, June 23, 2019

What foods to pack for the beach

Going to the beach this summer?  Or to a summer cabin or lodge?  What foods and snacks can withstand the sun, sand and taste good from the cooler?  Remember to keep cold foods cold.  Foods that need refrigeration shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour in the heat of summer.  Use ice packs in the cooler or freeze some water bottles and use these to keep the food cold.  Once at your destination, cover the cooler with a blanket or towel or keep in the shade under that beach umbrella.   
  1. Hard boiled eggs – peel them before you go.  A great high-quality protein snack and low in calories.  If you get some sand on them, just rinse with water and eat.
  2. Wraps – may work better than sandwiches made out of bread.  You can protect the wrap with aluminum foil and peel it back as you eat the wrap.
  3. Buy a rotisserie chicken – use as a main course then as sandwiches.
  4. Bars – easy to pack and store.  Add some healthy ingredients like oats, dried fruit, nuts.  
  5. Fruit kebabs – great idea for a summer side.  Choose whatever fresh fruit is in season.
  6. Smoothie – make up a smoothie before you leave and keep it in an insulated bottle or thermos.
  7. Yogurt – another great protein boost.  Easy to pack (remember the spoon) or get the yogurt that you squeeze.
  8. Hummus and veggies – pack some cucumber slices, baby carrots, celery.
  9. Trail mix – great way to snack on healthy options – dried fruit, nuts, oats, coconut.  
  10. Cracker Sandwiches of whole grain crackers and cheese.  Triscuits are often a favorite or try some Kashi crackers or the Mult-Grain Crackers you can buy at Costco.  Instead of cheese bring some almond butter and add some fresh fruit like blueberries, banana slices or raspberries.  The salt on the crackers also replaces some of the electrolytes lost in sweating.  
       11.   Stay hydrated with water or food that has a high-water content. 
a.     Water – Choose the Spring water and not just the water that has been purified.  Or bring some of the tasty sparkling waters that are so popular. 
b.     Watermelon – many fruits like watermelon have a high-water content.  Watermelon is 92% water.  A slice of watermelon helps you hydrate while adding many nutrients to your day like vitamin C.  And watermelon supplies some electrolytes that you may be sweating out when at the beach.  Try a watermelon and feta cheese salad to pack in some protein.  
Watermelon - good for hydration and vitamin C
c.    Oranges – another fruit loaded with water.  Interesting that vitamin C which is provided by oranges and watermelon has been shown to limit the skin damage done by the sun.  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin C “supports important and well-known functions, stimulating collagen synthesis and assisting in antioxidant protection against UV-induced photodamage”. 
d.    100% juice – another way to not only hydrate but if you choose a citrus juice you have another way to add some vitamin C to your day.
 Enjoy your time at the beach or cabin and bring along some snacks to enjoy.  Easy to bring along snacks to help you hydrate and to protect your skin from sun damage. 

Sources:  snacks, cold, water, vitamin C, NIH  Image sources:  Crackers , Watermelon, fruit

Sunday, June 16, 2019

How to eat healthy on road trips

Summer is a great time to hit the road.  Off to the beach, the lake, the mountains, or a long road trip.  Many people stop for a quick bite to eat at gas stations or other places that offer a range of food items.  How can you eat healthy while on that road trip? 
  1. Watch the calories – sitting all day in a car burns up a lot less calories.  A short trip not to worry but a long road trip can decrease your daily burn of calories by up to 400 calories.   
  2. Take some healthy foods with you – pack a cooler of yogurt, some fresh fruit, veggies like baby carrots, some nuts, healthy nutrition bars and even some sandwiches to eat along the way.  My husband and I often eat at the picnic tables at rest stops – we eat the food we brought with us.  I once told my daughter to bring her lunch on a long road trip we were taking.  She pulled out a gourmet assortment of food – hummus and veggies, a fresh homemade salad, fruit, homemade granola mix, whole wheat chips with ranch dressing. 
  3. Seek out the healthy, fresh food.  Many gas stations now offer an assortment of healthier choices.  Yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, cut up fresh fruit, milk, freshly made sandwiches. 
  4. Hydrate – bring along some water bottles.  Skip the soft drinks at the gas stations and re-hydrate with more water, 100% juice (skip the juice drinks) or milk.  (Milk is mostly water and a good way to get some extra protein and hydrate.)
  5. Bring your snacks – another daughter was in charge of snacks on one of our road trips.  And what an assortment of snacks she brought to share.  Nuts, whole grain chips, pretzels, apple slices with peanut butter, health bars, granola, snack crackers, cheese sticks.   Wander Wisdom lists some healthy snacks or light meals to pack for a road trip:
Pack some healthy snacks and include some protein like cheese, nuts, peanut butter.
  • Apple slices with nut butter
  • Hummus and mini carrots or pretzels
  • Guacamole and low-fat tortilla chips (make sure the first ingredient is whole corn)
  • Yogurt – Greek or plain yogurt with granola or fresh fruit 
  •  Dairy:  Cheese sticks or those mini cheeses like Baybel, individual milk boxes, yogurt
  •  Wraps
  •  Nuts – peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, mixed nuts
  • Almond or Peanut butter and fruit on crackers or whole grain bread
  • Fresh or dried fruit – apple slices, dried fruit, raisins, bananas, grapes
  • Trail mix, , granola, nutrition bars, dark chocolate, dry cereal like Wheat Chex and raisins 

So before heading on a road trip this summer take the time to pack the cooler and pack some snacks.  We keep a bag of non-perishable snacks in the car – the jar of nuts, the box of whole grain crackers.  The cooler loaded with light lunch supplies is in the trunk ready for our road side picnic.  Take the kids shopping with you before you go and let them choose some healthy snacks to bring along on the road trip.  They are much more likely to eat it if they had some choice in choosing it.  
Pack a sandwich for your road trip and some fresh fruit.
Sources:  burn, water, snacks  Image sources:  Lunch, Supplies, pack

Sunday, June 9, 2019

What are some food ingredients allowed in the USA but banned in other countries?

The USA is well known for its safe food supply.  But there are foods and ingredients in the USA that are banned in other countries.  Each country and the European Union have their own food standards so what can be sold in one country may be banned for sale in another country.  

Go on a trip to another country and you will see American food everywhere.  In France, you can easily stop at a McDonald’s for their coffee or food.  Our fast food restaurants seem to populate the globe.  But some foods you can easily buy in the USA are not sold in some other countries.  Or, there are some ingredients you can find on food labels in the USA but not in some countries.  What are some of these ingredients and what countries ban them?
     1.    Artificial Food Dyes:   Many candies and other foods are colorful because of artificial food dyes.  M&M’s – one of my favorite snacks, especially the Peanut M&M’s, are colored yellow, blue, red and green.  If you look at the ingredients the colors are noted:  Blue 1 Lake, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1.   The European Union requires a warning label on foods and snacks like M&M’s or other candies that contain the food dyes:  yellow 5, yellow 6, or red 40.  The European Union required warning label states: “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”.  Actually, in the USA, for 10 years there were no red M&M’s.  This was because in 1976 the Mars candy company decided to remove red colored M&Ms because of the controversy over the dye Red No. 2.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned Red No. 2 in 1976.  Even though Red No. 2 wasn’t used in M&M candies, the Mars company stopped making red M&Ms because of the concern over red food dyes and included orange M&M’s instead.  Interesting that Canada took no action at the time against Red No. 2.  And in many countries, such as all the European Union countries, Red No. 2 is still legal.   (For fun, look at this 1986 M&M commercial , sans red M&Ms:  (
 But banning a red food dye doesn’t mean red food coloring is banned forever.  After the ten-year ban (1976-1986), red M&Ms were back in 1987.  Why?    Although Red No. 2 is banned, there is now Red No. 40.  As noted above, the ingredient list for M&M’s contains Red No. 40. 
 There is no exact science for deciding what food color to ban and which to allow.  Although Red No. 2 is still illegal in the USA, it is still legal in other countries. In fact, the European Food Safety Authority declared it harmless in 2010.  On the other hand, the European Safety Authority recommends children limit their intake of Red No. 40. 
       2.  Preservatives – many food manufacturers add preservatives to foods for a longer shelf life. 
a.       One such preservative, Butylated Hydroxyanisole or BHA, can be found in many foods such as potato chips, cereals, cookies and some vegetable oils.  Again, countries differ in the regulation of BHA.  FDA has BHA on the GRAS list which is a list of ingredients Generally Recognized As Safe.  In contrast, the European Union has strict regulations on the use of BHA.  

b.       Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) – also used as a preservative in foods such as snacks and breads.  BHT is also on FDA’s GRAS list so in the USA it is recognized as safe.  In other countries, BHT is restricted and use is limited.  Some companies have decided not to use BHT.  In 2015, General Meals decided to remove BHT from all its cereals.  
Cinnamon Toast Crunch sans BHT
c.       Potassium bromate – used in some baked goods as it helps dough rise and improves the texture of baked goods.  The European Union, Argentina, Canada and some other countries have banned its use in food.  Potassium bromate is considered safe by the FDA.
It is interesting how different countries consider a food additive safe, while another country has banned it or restricts its use.  I am glad the red M&Ms were brought back in 1987 and remain in a package of M&Ms.  One doesn’t have to eliminate food dyes and additives in order to cut back on them.  Eating real food instead of fake food is one way to easily cut back on food dyes.  For example, Sunny D contains many preservatives and the food dyes, Yellow#5 and Yellow#6.  Replace Sunny D with real orange juice and you eliminated the preservatives and the food dyes.  Cut back on the sports drinks like Gatorade which contains Red 40 and hydrate with real juice or fresh fruit like watermelon or oranges.  Choose healthy whole grain chips like Sun Chips that have no BHT in the ingredient list.   
This week, take some time to read the labels of the foods you eat and check the ingredients to see what artificial colors or preservatives are in your foods.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Carb Myths (cont.)

Carbs, carbs, carbs.  Last week we discussed two big carb myths.  One, the myth that grains are bad for you when they are not.  Two, that carbs are fattening when carbs such as whole grain carbs are good for your health, help you feel fuller and help one lose weight, not gain weight.    This week we will review any more myths about carbs.  Are you falling for some of these carb myths?  For every fact out there about carbs, you probably can find some fake information about carbs.  Before believing some of these fake posts, check out the information on WebMD, Mayo Clinic, a .gov website to see if the information is true.

Myth #3:  Natural Sugars:  good or bad?

Sugars – Americans eat a lot of sugar.  Some of the “sugar” is natural and already present in food.  But much of the sugar in our diets is added to foods.  Look at the ingredients on food in your pantry and you may be surprised at how many food items contain added sugar.  Americans eat too much added sugar, yet it is hard to avoid since so much sugar is added to the foods we eat.  What are the “added sugars” we should cut back on?  Added sugars include sucrose or white table sugar, high fructose corn syrup which seems to be added to so many foods, corn syrup, brown sugar, raw sugar, molasses, and maple syrup.  Why should we be concerned about all the “added sugars” in our foods?  The Centers for Disease Control notes, “Americans are eating and drinking too much added sugars which can lead to health problems such as weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.”  And added sugars provide calories but few nutrients.  That’s why added sugars are considered, “empty-calories” as these added sugar calories are pretty empty of nutrients.  But most of the added sugar calories we get in our diets comes not from the desserts we eat like candy or cupcakes but from the beverages we drink like sodas or fruit drinks that are not real juice like lemonade, fruit punch, sweetened tea, and sports drinks. What are some ways to cut back on added sugars in your foods?

1. Use fresh or frozen fruit to sweeten your cereal or yogurt.

2. Read labels and choose foods for your main course that have no added sugar.  Choose pasta sauce with no added sugar, look for bread with no added sugar, and try to cut back on the added sugar in foods that are the main part of your meal.  Save the added sugar for your desserts.

3. Packing lunch for your kids?  Look for fruit like applesauce with no added sugar and avoid the apple sauce with high fructose corn syrup added.  Buy the canned fruit that is canned in water or fruit juices and skip the heavy syrup.
Look for unsweetened applesauce

4. Drink water or milk with meals and skip the soda or sweetened tea.

5.  When baking try cutting back on the sugar in the food.  Some recipes use applesauce or other fruit to add sweetness to cut back on the amount of added sugar.  

Myth #4:  Fruit is high in sugar so avoid fruit

Fruit contains the natural sugar, fructose.  Yet, some websites mistakenly tell you to cut back on fruit or 100% juice because of all the “sugar”.  Yet, fruit and 100% juice, have no “added sugar”.  It is the added sugar in foods that we should be cutting back on. One website noted you should avoid bananas because bananas are too high in “sugar”.  Yet, like all fruit, bananas have no added sugar.  Pass up bananas and you are passing up potassium, manganese, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, Folate and other nutrients.  We want more potassium in our diets as potassium helps counteract all the sodium Americans eat.  One banana provides 10% of your daily potassium needs.  So, ignore anyone telling you bananas or any fruit is bad for your health.  As Natalie Rizzo, a registered dietitian talks about how crazy it is that some people believe fruit is high in sugar.  She notes, “It’s amazing how many people think fruit should be avoided….  Bananas have tons of potassium, red grapes have antioxidants, and pineapple is loaded with vitamin C.  There is no reason a healthy person should avoid fruit.”  
Enjoy some fresh fruit
 This week watch out for the carb myths you may encounter each day.  Whether it is a co-worker telling you bananas are high in sugar or a website telling you to avoid fruit.  And don’t be misled by a food labeled “natural” when it is full of added sugar.  Keep the carbs in your diet, the good carbs.  You want to include fruit and whole grains in your day.  Read some labels this week and look for the “added sugar” that is in so much of our food today.  I like my candy, my desserts and I know these have “added sugar”.  But I don’t need added sugar in my spaghetti sauce and my crackers.