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.
August 2013 - Let's Go Apple Picking
By Helen Cheung
Are you tired of buying apples? Why not go apple picking? It is a good idea to spend your weekend. Living in New York City which is called “the Big Apple” we are lucky to be surrounded by a number of local apple orchards. Some of them are even within a one-hour commute from New York City, and you don’t even need a car to get there. Let’s take a look at the reasons why we should go apple picking:
Apple is one of the healthiest fruits
Apple has many health benefits. It contains important nutrients and antioxidants that help to keep our body strong and healthy, such as fiber and vitamin C. Eating a whole apple also makes you feel fuller than eating a chocolate chip cookie but gives you fewer calories.
It is fun!
It is simply amazing to spend a day at an orchard with your family or friends. You will take pictures, make memories and meet new people during your apple picking adventure. You can tell your friends and colleagues how much fun you have during the weekend. Most importantly, you will get tasty “souvenirs” to take home and give away.
Going outside of the city and surrounding yourself with nature can be an effective way to relieve stress. When you are stressed out by the city, why not just visit a local orchard and take the chance to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature?! You will feel the difference before and after the visit.
A learning experience for your kids
Bring your children to the orchards and teach them how to respect the nature. It will be an excellent outdoor lesson for your little ones. Apple picking helps your kids to understand where the apples come from, identify different variety of apples, and demonstrate a liking towards healthy fruits. Your kids will definitely love the apples picked by their own hands. Honestly, who doesn't?
Your own apples taste better! They are incredibly fresh and nutritious as there is no delay from harvest to table. You can eat them fresh or use them in your favorite recipes. These apples are so unique and delicious because you will taste not only the apple, but also the hard work you put into apple picking.
Support local farmers
Picking apple at local orchards is better than buying apple shipped from other states. It saves energy used for transportation and improves the economy of the state. You will feel good to support your local farmers.
With the fall season coming up, we should definitely start planning on activities to do in the fall. The peak apple picking season begins from the Labor Day weekend to October. Some orchards even open in July. In addition to apple, they also have other seasonal fruits and vegetables for picking, such as blueberries, peaches, strawberries, and pumpkins. Check out the following websites to locate a local orchard and find out what is in seasonal for picking. Make sure to call the orchard in advance to confirm the price, availability, time, and other details.
July 2013 - The Summer Bulge
By Jennifer Sall
Well, it’s finally here…the hot weather, pool parties, beach days, barbeques, umbrella drinks, bikinis…belly bulges? When having so much fun munching on hot dogs and guzzling margaritas during the summer months, it’s easy to forget how easy it is to pack on the pounds.
Hamburgers, potato salad, ice cream, oh my! Everyone should enjoy these once in awhile, but downside is that these summer favs tend to be high in fat, sugar, and calories. No worries- there are many other options to try!
The Grill: Meant for more than chopped meat & processed dogs. Grilled portabella mushrooms are a great healthy alternative. Have fun with skewers and add any veggies you like (peppers, onion, cherry tomato, zucchini) with a few shrimp or chunks of white meat chicken. These are tasty and look impressive when catering. Grilled eggplant, salmon fillets, and pork tenderloin are also excellent lean and healthy choices. If you must have that burger- choose lean (90%) ground meats and try swapping out the white bun for whole wheat. Consider low-fat toppings like tomatoes, red onion slices, peppers, lettuce, and mustard.
Hold the mayo. Potato and macaroni salads are summer classics, but they are also high in calories. Try changing it up with vinegar-based salads. Another option is to swap out mayo for a low-calorie dressing.
Another cocktail, please. Frozen drinks like coladas and daiquiris seriously pack on the pounds. If you want a beverage with a kick, try a wine spritzer, a light beer, or a liquor drink with low-calorie mixers. Drink these in moderation, remember, one shot of liquor can contain over 80 calories.
It’s okay to indulge in ice cream…once in awhile. Try to eat smaller portions or less fattening frozen yogurt (but don’t overload on the sugary toppings). Even better—make frozen treats at home! Blend low-fat Greek yogurt with sugar and berries, pour into an ice cube tray, stick in toothpicks and freeze for a healthy, summer treat. Another option is to freeze watermelon cubes or grapes for a quick and cool healthy snack. For fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season check out: http://snap.nal.usda.gov/resource-library/summer-sizzlers/whats-available-summer.
Blazing Heat & Blasting AC. When summer hits, sometimes we jack up the AC and hide from the heat. Getting enough exercise is key to reaching our weight goals. The CDC recommends that adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week.1 Keeping cool on the couch will not help us beat the bulge! Outside summer activities are endless. Try bike riding, playing beach volleyball, or a simple jog or walk. Other options include outdoor yoga or Pilates classes. Remember to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water while you sweat it out. If you hate the heat, try rising early to exercise before the sun begins to blaze. If you are not an early riser, you can do the same in the evening when the day starts to cool off. Don’t want to leave your beloved AC? Check out your local gym! Some gyms offer discount memberships during the summer months. Hate the gym? Work out in the privacy of your own home. If you have cable, then you probably have free exercise on demand. Skim the variety of options (ranging from yoga to kickboxing) for what suits you.
June 2013 - National Great Outdoors Month!
By Ji Yoon (Jackie) Park
Summer has arrived and so has National Great Outdoors Month! There are exciting outdoor opportunities like canoeing, fishing, hiking, biking, camping, and more. Outdoor activities often last all day and involve eating at least one meal outside, away from comfort and convenience of home. If food is not prepared or handled correctly, foodborne illness can certainly arise and end the day on a sour note.
Food safety is more than knowing when to wash hands and what temperatures food needs to reach. It is about practicing food safety to keep yourself and others safe. First step is to plan ahead. If the planned outdoor activity is to last all day and there is no way to reheat the food, choose foods that are kept well at room temperature. Some suggestions are:
- Dried fruits and nuts
- Granola, protein bars, cereal
- Beef jerky and other dried meats
- Crackers and pretzels
- Peanut butter
- Bananas and oranges (fruits that often have hard skin and peel)
Other key things to remember:
- Keep yourself clean by:
- Washing hands often (before, during, and after preparing, eating, cleaning food)
- Washing hands often with wet wipes and/or soap and water
- Keep foods safe by:
Keeping cold foods cold, hot foods hot
Tip 1: for cold foods. Freeze gel-pack or have enough ice for cooler. Drinks can be frozen. As they thaw, cold foods packed with it can remain cold at a longer time.)
Tip 2: for hot foods, cook to a minimum internal temperature and check with food thermometer. Take a look at list of minimum internal temperatures at: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html.)
- Separating the raw foods from ready-to-eat foods. Do not cross contaminate!
Tip 1: Keep foods in closed container with a lid.)
Tip 2: Keep utensils separate for raw and ready-to-eat foods.)
- Do not use fresh water from a lake or a stream to wash food
- Take-out and already-prepared meals are no different. Same food safety rules apply.
There is a lot to food safety, but it should not stress or stop you from getting fresh air. Make sure to take advantage of this time and become active! Start this National Great Outdoors Month right, without any hesitation, without foodborne illness, and without any tummy trouble! For more information and details about food safety, check out the website: http://www.eatright.org/Public/landing.aspx?TaxID=6442452000
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: Nov 13, 2013