When Abroad, Skip These

Original Image by eyeliam via Flickr
Original Image by eyeliam via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

When  traveling abroad or trying to acclimate to new cultures, it’s not only gracious to try local cuisine, but expected.  I personally don’t see the point in those long plane rides to eat the same foods I could get back home.  However, while being open minded can help increase your taste palette and exposure, there are certain foods you should refrain from eating if you’re traveling outside of the U.S.

You may be wondering why the locals are more than willing to eat unwashed foods or don’t see sanitation to be as big of an issue, however, living where we do, Americans have not grown immune against all exotic bacteria and it’s not worth learning the hard way if you’re immuned to a certain bacteria or not.  On top of that, with the added stress of traveling on an irregular schedule, one is more susceptible to adverse effects if not diligent about what he or she eats.

Examples Quick Notes
Shellfish If uncooked—i.e. raw oysters or mussels
  • Bacteria it’s picked up can easily be transferred to consumer
  • Oysters can destroy your liver
  • Get a tapeworm from eating contaminated raw meat
Game i.e. venison, grouse
  • Most reliable source for wild game: D’Artagnan Foods—improts inspected foods (i.e. pheasant, redlegged partridge or wood pigeon)
Produce Avoid unwashed, uncooked vegetables and fruits
  • Eating such can cause one to be sick with salmonella, cyclospora or campylobacter
  • Suggested to cook or boil fruits and vegetables
  • Be aware of raw fruit in desserts
  • Only eat pork that’s been thoroughly cooked through to 160°F
Eggs i.e. Caesar salads, steak tartar with raw egg, raw steak
  • ½ of egg related illnesses are picked up in restaurants
  • the problem: chicken that lays the egg, not shell
  • crucial to drink bottled water in developing nations, especially as more often than not the tap water’s contaminated
  • Use bottled water to brush your teeth!
  • Less likely to have to worry about contaminated water in London, Paris or Tokyo
Spit i.e. cassava root is chewed by tribeswomen and the juice is spat into bowl that’s left to ferment alcohol
  • Although it’s considered an honor to drink chichi, which is produced usually with spit, may make you very sick

So, remember, even foods that look like what you’d eat “back home”, there’s no guarantee.  Traveling should be an enjoyable experience and with a little caution can be bacteria free.

Source: http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/7-things-never-eat-drink-while-traveling-150700926.html


Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Original Image by Kurman Communications, Inc. via Flickr
Original Image by Kurman Communications, Inc.
via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

On Hallow’s Eve, it only seems fitting to start talking about the inevitable eating festivities with the winter holidays looming.  Not only does Halloween provide children some fun and chance for a sugar high, but can be to channel healthier eating options as well.

When you’re carving your turkey or sneaking into the kitchen for your second Christmas cookie, keep these tips in mind.  You can have your one cookie and eat it too.  Pun intended.

  • Before a holiday gathering, grab a protein rich snack to avoid arriving starved and overeating
  • While enjoying snacks and holiday meals, sip water throughout the day to prevent overeating
  • Weigh yourself twice a week consistently–it’ll help you stay on track while not ruining all the holiday fun
  • Start your day with a quick workout in your home or local gym–less likely to have high fat cravings
  • At buffets, potlucks or grand feasts, make a lap through the food and be extremely picky about what you want to try; pick the foods you can’t resist, in moderation
  • If you know you’re heading out for the evening and decide to “not eat” to save calories for event, you may end up overeating at event since you did no t eat all day
  • It’s easy to get excited about the food at an event, but try to focus on other aspects of event, such as catching up with old friends, which can help keep you away from refreshment table
  • Using dessert or smaller plates can make you eat less in the long run
  • After a meal, encourage and suggest everyone walk a couple blocks, which is a great after meal activity for all
  • Limit intake of alcohol to respectable manner, not only are drinks often high in calories, but can alter one’s perception of how much they have really eaten
  • Don’t swear off desserts or it’ll drive you crazy! Three small bites is all you need!
  • Limit intake of carbonated beverages, such as soda as it can lead to gas, excess sugar intake and feeling of uneasiness
  • Chew slower as it’ll decrease the amount of air you swallow, as more air can cause more bloating
  • Ensure you’re eating enough potassium rich foods as this mineral can ensure you retain less water; i.e. cantaloupe, kiwis, bananas, strawberries and/or papayas

Using several of these tips over the next few months will help you enjoy your holidays, while eating more “mindfully.”

Sources: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20646043,00.html



Timing’s Everything

Original Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr
Original Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Timing’s everything they say, huh? Well, that saying might ring more true than you think.  As with everything, take suggestions with a grain of salt, but many of these suggested times provide sensible explanations.

  1. 2PM–nap time: a 20 minute nap should boost your alertness for several hours; if you limit intake of caffeine to 1-2 cups/day, caffeine can kick in immensely
  2. Follow regular sleep schedule–Those that get at least 7 hours per night, are less likely to be obese or gain weight; with a  regular schedule it keeps one’s biological on track; those with irregular sleep patterns have been found to have emotional, health, digestive problems, heart disease and/or cancer
  3. Eat dinner 3 hours before sleep–creates more efficient digestion
  4. Take mulitvitamin with meals–better absorption when taken with meal; limit chance of upset stomach
  5. Take birth control or heart pills at night–if nausea is common, you’ll sleep through this common side effect;it’ll still be 30-50% effective when you rise in morning,which is the most common time for heart attacks and strokes; maximize lipid lowering ability by taking at night
  6. Cardio in the morning: fewer distractions in the morning; worse comes to worse you can reschedule for later in the day if needed; air pollution outside’s lowest in the morning; boosts brain activity for the rest of the day
  7. 4-6PM–learn a new sport a skill: hand eye coordination is highest then; will help you sleep better later
  8. January or June: Best time to join a gym; with the New Year, often times discounts or reduced enrollment fees; June’s a great time to join as there’s sometimes incentives to join during vacation season
  9. Start a diet in June: Being outdoors usually indicates more weight loss with increased movement; seasonal fruits and vegetables at hand to be taken advantage
  10. Within hour of drinking sports drink: brush your teeth as the acidity can erode your teeth
  11. Get a root canal after 2PM: pain meds last usually 8-10 hours, so you’ll be good to go until bedtime
  12. Head to toe examination in December: you’ll be less likely to be tan, so there will be a higher contrast in your pigments and lesions.  Doctor will better be able to pick out any suspicious remarks.

What tips are you planning to incorporate into your daily living? Doesn’t hurt to try, does it?

Source: http://prevention.com/health/healthy-living/healthiest-time-do-everything?s=1


“Unprocessed October”


By: Nikki Nies

So, I stumbled upon this 4th annual event on the cusp of the end of October, but if you’re reading about Unprocessed October for the first time as well, it could always follow into November as well?   Before you agree to commit to such an adjustment, let’s lay out the facts, specifically why you should go a month without processed foods. October-Unprocessed-Recipe-Guide

What’s the premise you ask? To go a month without eating adding foods that contain added sugars,salt, fat preservatives, artificial colors and instead eating more healthy. 

Not sure where to start? Let’s start with how Andrew Wilder, the creator and entrepreneur of the concept of Unprocessed October defines unprocessed.

Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.

Keep in mind, if you pick up an ingredient that doesn’t have an ingredient label, then more than likely it’s not processed.

There’s a free PDF on Andrew Wilder’s website that provides step by step directions on how to get through the month. The PDF provides lots of great information on how to help you get the most from the challenge, ways to avoid common “speed bumps,” advice for specific dietary restrictions,  and tons of other unprocessed goodness. Download at http://www.eatingrules.com/2013/09/official-guide-to-october-unprocessed/

If a month of unprocessed foods sounds too daunting of a task, take the pledge for a week! See how you fare and gradually add on a few days if you like the results! Wish I had known about this challenge at the beginning of October, but better late than never!

Sources: http://wallstcheatsheet.com/stocks/7-unhealthy-everyday-foods-processed-and-problematic.html/?ref=YF




Plumpy Nut

Original Image by Mack Male via Flickr
Original Image by Mack Male via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Plumpy Nut is a thriving nutrition bar for children over the age of 6 months.  As a Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), Plumpy Nut is given to help those that are severely malnourished without any prep needed prior.

As a lipid based nutrition supplement, it is a good value of vitamins and minerals.  It has a shelf life of 24 months.

With the introduction of Plumpy Nut, created by a French pediatrician, it has made outpatient care and home treatment possible.  Plumpy Nut is only the first step in helping the severely malnourished, but require regular medical check ups and a physician’s prescription.


The life saving, but simple peanut pasta now makes life seem imaginable for some.  It stays fresh after being opened, does not require medical supervision to be distributed, does not require clean water to swallow, nor fridgerated.  What can get better than that?

Sources: http://www.nutriset.fr/en/product-range/produit-par-produit/plumpy-nut-ready-to-use-therapeutic-food-rutf.html



Foods Worth the Investment

Original Image by Lisa Williams via Flickr
Original Image by Lisa Williams via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

With rising food costs, it’s never a bad idea to check your grocery list twice.  Being aware of “what you buy” can help save you more than pennies in the long run.  It can help you save your helath as well.

Healthy foods, although deemed, more expensive, don’t always have to be.  The table below lists some great staples to have on hand   that are a great price for the value.

Food Price Benefits
Oats Approx. $3/lb.
  • Contain avenanthramid—antioxidant that protects the heart
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Possess disease zapping antimicrobial activity
Dry Beans Approx. $2/lb.
  • Low fat
  • Planted based protein
  • 1 cupful=at most 17 grams of fiber
  • high in calcium, potassium and magnesium
  • can reduce risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, breast and colon cancer
Garlic $1/bulb
  • contains 70 active phytochemicals—i.e. allicin which may decrease blood pressure
  • lowers rates of ovarian, colorectal and other cancers
Cayenne Pepper Approx. $3/jar
  • capsaicin can help fight cholesterol
  • jump starts metabolism
  • clears congestion
Celery $1.99/bunch
  • Modest reductions in blood pressure
  • High in phthalides—phytochemical
  • Has androstenone and androstenol
Tomatoes $1.50/lb.
  • Common source of lycopene—antioxidant that can help against heart disease and breast cancer
Onions $2.99/2 lb.
  • Has immune boosting compounds that can prevent cold to cancer
  • High in quercetin, which helps keep blood healthy
  • Natural allergy preventer
Brown Rice $1.75/lb.
  • Easier to digest than white rice since it contains the bran and the side hull
  • High in naturally occurring oils, antioxidants, fiber, selenium and magnesium
  • Helps stabilize blood sugar levels—great for diabetics
Frozen Vegetables $1.75-$2.25
  • Can be higher in nutritional value than fresh since many “fresh” vegetables have traveled at least 1500 from farm to table

How many of the listed above foods do you have currently in your pantry? If none, add these key staples to your grocery list stat!

Sources: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/more-shopping-storing/ten-organic-foods-worth-money-00000000011780/



Dollar Menu–>$5 Menu

Original Image by Matt McGee via Flickr
Original Image by Matt McGee via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

 My generation grew up with the Dollar Menu.  You can’t talk about the Dollar Menu without mentioning McDonald’s, nor can you talk about McDonald’s without the mention of the Dollar Menu.   Although, the Dollar menu’s been an integral part of McDonald’s since 2002, there are some new prices changes around the corner.

Yes, there will still be some $1 menu items, which has generated 13% of sales, but in addition, there will be $2 sandwiches, as well as $5 meals (i.e. 20 piece nuggets), called price tiers.  The Dollar Menu will still be advertised, but more as a starting price than an across the board menu option.

CEO Don Thompson defends the changes as a way to give more options to customers as well as providing an evolved menu that stands the test of labor pressure and increasing commodities.

You can also thank climate change’s contribution to the change in prices. With rising temperatures since 2011, drought conditions have occurred more in OK and TX, leading to increased feed and more expensive cattle on the market. us-drought-conditions-moderate-severe-extreme-exceptional_chartbuilderAlso, beef prices have increased since 2008 .

While the McDouble was hailed as “the most bountiful food in human history” for supplying 390 calories at such a low cost, even it can’t last forever

With an adjustment for inflation, $1 in 2002 is equivalent to $1.30 present day.  One day, it’ll be impossible to sell $1 burgers because the cost and profit need will be too high.  Introducing non-$1 food items is a slow way to decrease the number of $1 meals offered.

Be ready for the additional price changes starting November 4th.  Is it wishful thinking that such price hikes will encourage others to lessen their frequency at drive thru’s and fast food?  Low income as well as those that can’t stay away from convenience foods, argue one can’t beat $1 meal.

Sources: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/mcdonald%E2%80%99s-new–dollar-menu–goes-up-to–5-144930006.html


Kitchen Hacks to Save Time

Original Image by Chalon Handmade via Flickr
Original Image by Chalon Handmade via Flickr

Kitchen Hacks to Save Time

By: Nikki Nies

Browse through these various tips to expedite your kitchen prep, which will quicken your speed to enjoying your savory, delicious meals!

Some noteworthy tips:

  1.  Put a wooden spoon across a pot of boiling water to keep it from boiling over
  2. Avoid storing potatoes near onions; it will result in them spoiling sooner.
  3. Use a ball of aluminum foil instead of a steel wool sponge, as it’s great for cleaning glass pans and pots

What tips have you incorporated into your daily routine?  What’s hacks have saved near disaster?

Source: http://greatist.com/health/kitchen-tips-hacks


Kick the Sugar Habit

Original Image by Moyan Brenn via Flickr
Original Image by Moyan Brenn via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

The average American consumes 23 teaspoons of sugar a day. I don’t drink soda, eat convenience foods or canned fruit in heavy syrup, but I know I consume my fair share of sugar.  I’ve cut down my sugar intake to only one sugar packet for my coffee in the morning, but I know I need to be more aware of the added sugar I consume on a daily basis.

Even if you’ve made some dietary changes, it’s never a bad idea to evaluate what you’re eating and consider where your biggest culprits of sugar intake are.

Ways to decrease sugar intake:

  • Gradually eliminate soda from diet–replace with diet soda to reduce calories while still having your sweetness fix. Then, after a week, make the switch to seltzer with a slice of citrus–save 10 teaspoons of sugar intake
  • Opt for nuts, vegetables and fiber rich foods–apples, pears, instead of cookies, crackers, candy and/or energy bars–save 2-10 teaspoons of sugar intake
  • With fruit juice accounting for 10% of many consumer’s added sugar content, by mixing 1/2 juice and 1/2 water the diluted drink can pay off–save 2-3 teaspoons of sugar intake
  • Choose steel cut oats instead of Frosted Flakes–save 2-4 teaspoons of sugar intake
  • Change it up and grill your peaches, grapefruit and watermelon–save 2-10 teaspoons of sugar intake
  • Switch to plain Greek yogurt–by naturally sweetening one’s yogurt, it can help limit sugar.  Skip “fruit on the bottom” yogurts as their often higher in calories and sugar.  For an added punch, sprinkle on some cinnamon–save 2-4 teaspoons of sugar intake
  • Buy sugar free and/or low calorie drinks and products
  • Instead of adding sugar to baking recipes–use extracts such as vanilla, almond, orange or lemon
  • Substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in applesauce
  • Enhance foods with ginger, cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg instead of sugar
  • Avoid canned fruit in syrup

So, how much sugar should you be consuming on a daily basis?  The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake to no more than half of daily discretionary calories allowance.  In perspective, for most women, that’s no more than 6 teaspoons per day and for men no more than 150 kcal/6 teaspoons.

Source: http://www.menshealth.com/weight-loss/beat-your-sugar-habit




Move Over Quinoa

Original Image by Keith McDuffee via Flickr
Original Image by Keith McDuffee via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

I believe quinoa’s run as “hot new grain” is fading.  It’s become a ubiquitous grocery staple, which means there has to be a new “fad grain” in town.  There is!

Move over quinoa, you can expect to see kaniwa hit grocery shelves, menus and health gurus suggestions.  Also called Cañihua, Canihua, Kañiwa or Chenopodium pallidicaule, in comparison to quinoa, kaniwa is a smaller, reddish-brown grain.  This grain is a good source of calcium and iron, is a high protein, high antioxidant and phenolic content.  Unlike quinoa, kaniwa does not contain saponins, which would require a good rinse prior to cooking.

The brand Purely Elizabeth has just debuted a new line of cereals, including kaniwa. Also, it can be purchased on amazon.com or at some Whole Foods stores one may be lucky enough to buy before the huge, possible wave of consumers.

Source: http://prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/kaniwa-newest-ancient-grain