May 2013 - Water does more than make the flowers grow!
By Aviva Levitin
What are benefits of drinking water?
Water gives us the energy we need to prevent us from feeling tired. Once we feel thirsty, chances are that we have not been drinking enough and can become dehydrated. Headaches can be a symptom of dehydration. Another benefit is that our digestive system needs enough water to break down the food properly. Often water can help treat stomach pain, and water along with fiber can help digestive problems. Water is used to help clean out the body from waste products. Water is one of the best tools for weight loss because it often replaces high-calorie drinks like soda and juice. Water has no fat, no calories, no carbohydrates and no sugar. Drink plenty to help your weight-loss program. Finally, a proper intake of water rehydrates the skin, giving it a healthy glow.
What are common causes of dehydration?
- Tiring activity
- Too much sweating
- High fever
- Extended vomiting or diarrhea
- Staying in the sun too long
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Certain medications that increase the amount of fluid excreted
How much water is appropriate?
Every day you lose water through your breath, by sweating, and through using the restroom. For your body to work properly, you must drink enough water by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. The larger and more active a person, the greater is their need for water. Most people need at least 6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses of liquids a day.
What foods contain water?
Some examples of fruits and vegetables with high water content:
What are tips for increasing your water intake?
Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work or running errands.
- Freeze some freezer-safe water bottles. Take them along with you as you pack your bag.
- Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This tip can also help with weight management. Substituting water for one 20-ounce sugar-sweetened soda will save you about 240 calories.
- Choose water instead of other beverages when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.
- Give your water a little flavor by adding some fresh lime or lemon. This may improve the taste, and you just might drink more water than you usually do.
Water is your body's most important component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water.
April 2013 - Earth Day
By Sharon Puello
Every April the environment is put in the spotlight as Earth Day is celebrated worldwide. This day brings awareness to changes happening to our climate, food supply, and wildlife, while encouraging individuals to do their part to help save our planet. Part of the proposed solution is the idea of sustainable practices. Sustainable practices are methods of growing which promote the preservation of the environment for future generations, and which lead to the production of foods which are both affordable and grown through socially acceptable methods. Sustainable eating refers to the eating of foods produced by these actions. While newer methods of farming allow for more foods to be produced and produced out of season, they produce foods lower in essential vitamins and minerals.
How Can You Be Part of the Solution?
You can start by buying in-season. Buying in season means buying what is grown locally during its regular growing season. For many New Yorkers this may mean buying apples or pumpkins in the fall and strawberries or asparagus in the spring. The main advantages of eating in season are that these foods are typically lower in pesticides and higher in beneficial vitamins. Foods purchased out of season generally have to be shipped further allowing for more bruising and aging which can compromise foods’ nutritional content. Often times, these foods are picked long before they are ready to be picked, and then ripened through artificial means. To avoid this, one can shop at local farmers’ markets. These are designated areas where farmers from the local area bring their crops for sale, and individuals are able to buy fresh, high quality produce. Generally what can be bought at these markets are fruits and vegetable that are currently in season; however if there is a question, websites such as foodstalk.org offer free, downloadable guides to what’s in season in your area. To extend the life of these foods you can freeze, can, or prepare them into soups which can be frozen and enjoyed long after their regular season ends.
In the Supermarket, Organic and Fair Trade Options:
Other factors which can help you eat more sustainably include buying organic. Organic certification means that foods have been produced in a way that minimizes their pesticide content, prohibits the use of artificial fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones and changes to plant genetics, and that their growth has resulted in minimal pollution to the environment. While buying organic can be expensive, there are certain items which are more beneficial to buy organically grown than others. Each year a variety of websites put out what is called the “Dirty Dozen” list. This list indicates the twelve foods containing the most pesticides. Foods commonly included on these lists include apples, spinach, and foreign-grown grapes. Viewing one of these lists can help you determine the most worthwhile foods to buy organically. The Fair Trade designation on the other hand indicates foods which have be grown outside the country in a way which helps small farmers develop a stable farming lifestyle which can help support their families and community; think of it as quality foods for a quality price. Fair Trade foods are certified to contain no harmful chemicals or changes to their genetics, while promising that no child labor was used to grow them and that farmers received fair pay for their work. Either certification identifies a food as sustainably grown, and can be found at a variety of stores. Eatwellguide.org offers a useful tool to help locate shops and markets offering sustainable foods in your local area.
From the Comfort of Your Home…
What other changes can you make this Earth Day to help keep you and your planet healthy? You can start by making your own container herb garden right in your kitchen. Herbs are one of those wonderful things that can be grown year round with little care. When in season, purchase an herb plant from an area garden center or market. Next, find a safe, reusable container. A few manufacturers selling organic greens such as spring mix or baby romaine are now packaging their lettuces in BPA-free containers. These containers make perfect growing areas for herbs as they are not only food-safe but also contain holes for the plant to breathe and are large enough to allow the plant to grow adequately. Lastly, buy a small package of soil, plant your herb, and water it as it needs. Don’t be afraid to take off what you need for your recipe; it’ll grow back and your plant will survive for years to come!
April 2013 - Start Moving Towards a Healthier Life with Nutrition Facts Labels!
By Yuen Ting Cheung
Many grocery shoppers tend to pay very little or even no attention to the Nutrition Facts labels on food packages. Learning to read the Nutrition Facts label is important in improving your health status and preventing many possible diseases that are related with diet, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. You can move forward to better health by just spending a minute to understand what is actually present inside the food that you are going to eat!
What is Nutrition Facts label?
The Nutrition Facts labels on the packages of prepared foods items, also known as the Nutrition Facts Panels, show how many nutrients there are in one serving of a food product. In a recent study, researchers found a positive link between nutrition label use and healthier food choices by consumers. These labels have valuable information in helping us choose healthier foods among different food products.
What is on the Nutrition Facts label and how do you use the information?
- Serving Size & Number of Servings: The Serving Size tells you what is considered one serving, while the Servings Per Container tells you how many servings there are in one package of food. They are important because the rest of the information on the label is based on one serving.
- Total Calories and Calories from Fat: They tell you how many calories and calories from fat there are in each serving. If you need to control your weight, you should watch out for how many calories you are eating.
- Percent Daily Value (%DV): %DV helps you compare and choose foods that provide enough nutrients for your daily diet. It tells you the percentage of the recommended amounts of nutrients an average person should get for the whole day, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
You may aim for low amounts of total fat, saturated fat, trans-fat, cholesterol, and sodium when choosing your food because they are known to increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases. Moreover, selecting foods that have high %DV for minerals and vitamins ensures that you are getting enough amounts of them. You can also aim for a high amount of fiber and a low amount of sugar in your diet, which are listed under Total Carbohydrates. Since some foods that are high in protein are also high in fat, you can choose protein wisely from healthier sources such as low-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean meat, fish, eggs, and beans. Note that you may need more or less of a nutrient depending on your health status and caloric needs.
Also check the ingredient list
Check the ingredient list on the bottom of the label to see exactly what is in the food product. Ingredients are listed in order from the highest to the lowest quantity by weight; the ones listed first have higher amounts, whereas those listed last have lower amounts. For healthier food choices, look for the word "whole" on the ingredient list, such as whole wheat or whole oats. Avoid foods that have added sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and glucose, as the first few items on this list because they have no nutritional value but add calories.
A minute of label reading changes your future!
You are what you eat. Not knowing what you are actually eating can be harmful to your health. The Nutrition Facts label can be used to choose foods that best fit into your healthy diet. A healthy diet will lead you to better health and prevent many possible diseases. Taking a minute to read the label can change your future! So start this great habit today!
March 2013 - Bubble in Trouble?
By Alena Zhakava
Although the practice of chewing gum has a thousand-year-old history, the gum that we buy and enjoy today is relatively new. In 1848, gum was manufactured for the first time, and the first ingredients used were either spruce tree resin or charcoal and chalk. The modern market offers its customers a huge selection of chewing gums with various flavors. Although dentists recommend chewing a gum to protect teeth from developing cavities and for the whitening effect, the role of gum goes far beyond its impact on oral health. Since chewing gum is considered as food and has a nutrition label, let’s go ahead and read Nutrition Facts on the label of a contemporary chewing gum to better understand what we are chewing on.
Although various companies used different ingredients, the main ones remain universal and they include gum base, sweeteners, flavorings, and softeners.
Gum base is the insoluble part of the chewing gum, made of a combination of waxes, food-grade polymers and softeners.
Sweeteners provide flavor to the gum, and they are usually sugar, corn syrup, or some sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, and aspartame. According to American Diabetes Association, sugar alcohols are known to cause abdominal pain and diarrhea, and can be responsible for irritable bowel syndrome.
Softeners used in gums are mostly glycerin or vegetable oil based. They are added to retain moisture so that the gum remains chewable for a longer period of time. Small amounts of glycerin put on the tongue can cause blistering because glycerin absorbs water, and it is widely used in by soap manufactures.
Flavorings used can be either natural mints and fruits or synthetically created flavors.
Chewing gum stimulates production of digestive juices in the stomach. These juices are released to break down solid foods, and they promote hunger effect. Therefore, chewing gum causes the sensation of empty stomach and desire to eat continuously.
So if you are a chewing gum lover and enjoy the gum for any of the reasons: dental benefits, stress relief, or even for dry mouth moistening, you are most likely to get not only less than 5 kcal from one gum piece, but also a risk for unexplained diarrhea, digestive problems, and continuous hunger. Read the nutrition fact label carefully and decide if you find any of the ingredients in the chewing gum appealing to you. After all the choice: to chew or not to chew is yours. And while you are deciding, try to look for an expiration date on the label of the gum to check for its freshness: bet you won’t find one!
February 2013 – Aromatic Herbs
By Gitty Blachman
Of all the senses involved in the eating experience, smell is very important. Improve any dish by simply adding fresh herbs which bring out the natural aroma (smell) of food. With fresh herbs available in supermarkets year-round, there’s no reason to rely on dried. Fresh herbs wake up the appetite and add taste to any meal.
Fresh or dry, herbs not only add flavor to your food, they also protect the body and help fight disease. Common herbs used in everyday cooking, such as basil, coriander and parsley, contain nutritious vitamins and minerals. Herbs like basil, oregano, parsley and thyme are great sources of vitamin K, which is important for healthy bone formation and blood clotting. Other herbs may help protect against certain conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
The addition of herbs and spices to recipes can replace unhealthy ingredients such as salt, sugar andsaturated fat. Stir-fry dishes, marinades and dressings, vegetable dishes, casseroles and soups can be made more appetizing when prepared with herbs, which increase food satisfaction and make you less likely to overeat.
For herbs with woody stems, such as thyme and rosemary, store in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped in a barely damp paper towel and sealed in a zip-lock bag for up to 5 days. Stems of basil, parsley, and cilantro can be kept like a bunch of flowers with their stems in a glass of water. Cover with a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to a week.
With the exception of rosemary, which can survive long cooking times, fresh herbs are usually added to a dish towards the end of cooking to preserve the most flavor. Dried herbs are usually added at the beginning of cooking so their flavor can develop.
To flavor soups and stews, combine various herbs and spices to make a “bouquet garni.” Tie in a small piece of cheesecloth and drop into your pot. Don’t forget to remove the package before serving.
Dust plates with finely chopped herbs for an elegant garnish.
1 teaspoon dried herb is equal to 1 tablespoon fresh herb.
If using dried herbs, after measuring, crush them between your fingers to bring out the flavor.
January, 2013 - Let's Keep it Simple for the New Year!
By Christine Vega
Many of us celebrate the holidays attending many parties. This often leads to eating large amounts of food and heavy desserts. We eat more than we should and not surprisingly this is a prime time for extra weight gain. This over eating is allowed because people feel that they will change and will be different once the New Year arrives. This is because of the very popular New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Unfortunately, this resolution also has a high failure rate.
We often feel that in order to lose weight we have to cut out all the “bad” foods, eat mostly plain salads and exercise to the point of exhaustion. Perhaps, these are extreme examples but maybe the main reason is that it is just too much too fast. This could be the reason why many give up by February. Take a look at any gym during the beginning of January you will see it full. Take a look at the same gym by the end of February and you will see less people. People attempt such a big change or bunch of changes that it tires them out quickly.
This idea of ‘doing too much too fast’ does not only relate to weight loss. It often describes what happens with many of the resolutions made for the New Year. We try very hard to do the opposite of what we have been doing all year and pretty much overnight. Quit smoking, save money, drink less, alcohol, manage debt, and get a better job are a few of the popular resolutions listed on USA.gov. We make these resolutions because we want to change but do we really have good plans to them happen? Have we created plans that we’ll be able to follow for longer than a month or two in order to achieve what we want?
My suggestion for this year is to KISS. Keep It Simple Sweetheart! Small and simple changes really do make a difference. For example, share the piece of cake or cheeseburger you are dying to eat. Start an exercise plan by just walking 30 minutes every other day. Add little increases to exercises and little decreases in what you eat. Start small and go slowly. Let these new and simple changes become part of you. You will be surprised!The start of the New Year does not have to mean that we have to change our entire lifestyle. The start of the New Year is not the only magical time when we can change. We can make changes any time we feel we are ready.
Enjoy the adventures that this New Year brings but remember you can decide to start new at any time. Just remember to KISS for 2013!
December 2012 – Holiday Party Survival Guide to Eating
By Lauren Jannarone
The holidays are in full swing, and that equals tons of parties to celebrate! At most holiday parties, there is plenty of food and drink to spread the good cheer. Staying healthy can be difficult with holiday goodies all around. However, those holiday goodies may come with a price – most are loaded with sugar, salt, fat, and calories. Don’t wait for New Years Eve to set goals for being healthy– get a head start and begin today! Here are some tips to help you get through the last of the holiday season and enter the New Year with an already healthy start.
Have a Plan
When the day of the party arrives, make changes in your diet. If there is a holiday celebration at work or school during the day, skip dessert if you know you will be having dessert later that night. Eating a lighter breakfast and lunch also allows you to enjoy yourself at the party without feeling too guilty.
Eat Before a Party
Going to a party hungry is never a good idea. You will probably eat the first thing you feast your eyes on, and chances are, it isn’t the best choice. Eat a small bowl of soup or a small salad with some protein such as a hardboiled egg or a handful of nuts before the party begins. This will take help you to slow down and make the best choice when the appetizer tray comes your way.
Make the Best Choice
If possible, choose healthier food options at the party. Choosing protein foods such as shrimp, cheese, or deli meats will help you feel full for longer than carbohydrate foods such as crackers and breads. Here are some examples of the worst holiday party options and the best.
Worst Dip: spinach and artichoke dip Worst Side Dish: potato skins with toppings
Better Dip: salsa Better Side Dish: roasted potatoes
Worst Dessert: pecan pie with ice cream
Better Dessert: chocolate fondue with fruit chunks
Bring Your Own Dish
By bringing your own dish there will be a healthy option at the party. Most of your friends or family would love the extra help! Find a healthy recipe, be creative, and have fun with it. Something as simple as a colorful fruit plate can help avoid extra desserts.
The holidays are about spending time with family and friends. Remember to enjoy the company of loved ones instead of focusing only on the food. Use these tips to help you get through the last of the holiday season without all of the guilt – but remember to allow yourself a few cheats and treats. Try to slow down during the rush of shopping and gatherings and enjoy the true spirit of the holidays.
November 2012 - How to Eat Healthy on Thanksgiving
By Sheri Morstein
Thanksgiving. Saying the word alone, I can almost smell the turkey roasting, the pumpkin pie baking, and the spiced cider brewing. It’s a day when it is okay to sit on a comfortable couch, watch football, and have an all day eating marathon. After the stresses of everyday life, why don’t we deserve it? I would never want to ruin this event, or image you may have, but I am sure that without even realizing it, after you have piled large portions of gooey, buttery sweet potatoes, crispy, dark turkey meat, and soft stuffing, you have also packed away an upwards of 4,000+ calories and 300 grams of fat in a single meal. WOW! But making this famous meal healthy? This probably seems like you would be committing a crime. I am up for the challenge. Here are some easy, tasty changes you can make that you won’t even realize you are cutting back on the calories and fat.
Fill up on yummy vegetables- aim for 50% of your plate: Yes, it is true. Vegetables can be extremely flavorful! You don’t need the green bean casserole topped with fried onions. To me, there is nothing better than roasted Brussels’ Sprouts. Drizzle a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast until crispy and brown. I think they are amazing just simply prepared- but for an added boost sprinkle a little parmesan cheese over them , or add some toasted nuts like pecans or walnuts. Some other options for vegetables are sautéed green beans with toasted almonds, and roasted butternut squash with fresh sage.
A Healthy Starch Side Dish- aim for ¼ of your plate: Instead of the classic mashed potatoes filled with tons of butter and sour cream, and the equally unhealthy, sweet potatoes with butter and marshmallows, try roasting potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper , garlic and fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme. The potatoes get crispy in the oven, and the fresh herb flavor is far better than basic mashed potatoes.
White meat turkey – aim for ¼ of your plate: What’s a Thanksgiving meal without the main event? Turkey can be a great lean protein. But when you eat the turkey leg, covered in skin and gravy, what was once a good protein option has now turned bad. Choose white meat turkey, which is still moist and full of flavor, and is also a fraction of the calories and fat.
Drink. But drink what is good for you: Make sure you get plenty of fluids throughout the day, and drink enough water. You don’t need to avoid alcohol altogether. Just choose the right option. Drink red wine which is full of healthy antioxidants.
Don’t skip the dessert: Yes, that is correct. Don’t give up the sweet ending to your meal. If you love pie- opt for pumpkin pie, instead of apple. It is usually less in calories and fat, and just as sweet. You can also try baking apples with cinnamon and top with vanilla yogurt.
This sounds easy enough. Basically it is about using olive oil and fresh herbs. Both pack in flavor. Also be sure to watch your portion sizes. Through it all, don’t limit yourself too much. If you need the apple pie and mashed potatoes, just make the portions smaller. Trust me, if you follow these tips you won’t be in that awful food coma usually felt after the meal. You now have the tools to start the holiday season on a healthy note!
October 2012 - Healthy Trick-or-Treating Tips
By Erika FroshauerTrick-or-treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat! This is the familiar jingle squealed by hundred of kids looking for sugary treats on Halloween night. These kids go home with pillowcases and shopping bags overflowing with just that: high calorie, high sugar candies with no health benefits. With childhood obesity rates increasing quickly, it is important to try to substitute healthier treats for children on Halloween. There are several tricks for healthy treating that may help reduce the amount of sweets eaten by both you and your kids on Halloween.
When buying Halloween candy it is better to wait until the last minute in order to keep candy out of the house and to stop snacking. Buying smaller amounts of candy will mean that there are no leftovers for mindless snacking. Keeping candy out of sight in your home may prevent temptation to snack often. When handing out Halloween candy to tick-or-treaters, hand each child one or two pieces of candy. This will stop each kid from grabbing four or five candy bars at once. Parents should remind their kids to be polite and only take one or two candies, not the entire basket!
On Halloween night enjoy a healthy family dinner and set out on a long walk to enjoy the decorations in your neighborhood. This will reduce snacking and give you and your family a great workout. Instead of sending your kids out with extra-large bags for their loot, use a smaller traditional Halloween bucket to limit the amount of candy brought home. Give your kids a time limit so that they are not out for endless hours collecting tons of candy.
Once your kids are home and unloading their Halloween treasures, always make sure that you check the candy for any open or unwrapped candies or candies that look like they may have been tampered with. Set limits for your kids. Only allow a certain amount of candy to be eaten per day to avoid eating too much. Ask your kids to separate the candies into a like and dislike pile. Give the dislike pile away so your family is less likely to snack on them just because the candy is in the house.
Some healthy options for Halloween treats include:
- Graham crackers
- Hot chocolate mix
- Silly putty
- Temporary tattoos
September 2012 - Staying Fit this Fall
By Kelsey Lubeck
I don’t know about you but fall happens to be my favorite season. The crisp air and autumn foliage keeps a smile on my face despite the fact it also means back to school time. Goodbye sweating in the hot sun, hello boots, scarves and fresh air. But just because we are no longer donning our bathing suits and short shorts does not mean it’s time to kick the good habits we had all summer. There are plenty of ways to stay fit and fabulous this fall. No one wants to have grandma telling them they look a “bit pudgy” this holiday season. Thank you very much Halloween candy on my boss’s desk. So how do we keep ourselves in shape and eating healthy this season?
Although the nights will soon get darker earlier, and it will be harder to get ourselves to the gym, that is no excuse to skip it! Switch up your gym routine and try going early in the morning so you can rest when you get home after work. Not an early bird? No problem. Opt for a workout video that you can do at home, rain or shine. If you know you won’t have the motivation to go to the gym alone, ask a friend or coworker to go with you. Didn’t work out this summer? Now is a great time to start! This beautiful fall weather is perfect for long hikes. Find a local trail near you and try biking or just simply walking and take in the beautifully colored leaves. Still not sure you can do it? Go apple picking with the family and walk the entire orchard. Then you can go home and enjoy some of those delicious apples as a treat!
Make your favorite meals healthier.
I know many of us think of fall as the time to indulge in comfort foods, but soups, stews and fresh bread can be healthy too. Skip the creamy soups and try ones loaded with vegetables. Opt for whole wheat bread instead of Italian or white. Experiment with lighter meats such as turkey in stews or make it vegetarian. Fall also means that many delicious foods come into season. Apples, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and pumpkins are just a few examples. Squash, such as acorn, butternut and pumpkin, have tons of fiber, vitamin A, B vitamin complex and potassium. Not sure how to cook squash? It’s pretty simple, just cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and pop them in the oven at about 425 degrees and roast them until they are tender. Add your favorite spices and enjoy! Everyone knows the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” so why do we only enjoy apples in apple pie? Try adding apples to your salad or making fresh apple sauce in your crock pot. Want that delicious apple pie flavor without all the calories? Cut up a granny smith apple, remove the core, add some cinnamon, nutmeg, a sprinkle of brown sugar and microwave it for thirty seconds. Yum! Want more seasonal fruits and vegetables? Follow this link to find a full list of seasonal foods: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/whats-in-season-fall.
Visit farmers’ markets.
Most importantly fall means farmers’ markets are still around and buying local is great for the environment! Most farmers’ markets pack it up around November. That gives us plenty of time to check them out. Farmers’ markets may be more expensive but the quality and freshness can’t be beat. To get the best products go early but be prepared to spend some time there looking around and checking the produce. Can’t afford to spend any extra money? Go a little later; the closer to closing time the better the deal. The benefit of going to a farmers’ market is being able to talk to those who grew the produce. If you aren’t sure how to prepare a food, ask the farmer, they will surely have recipes and tips to share. Unsure where to find a farmers’ market near you? Check out this link http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/ just input your zip code and you can find the one closest to you.
Last modified: Apr 24, 2013