Good Eggs

imagesBy: Nikki Nies

Good Eggs, a warehouse that delivers fresh, sustainable groceries to your door! Foods are guaranteed to be made with integrity and picked “just in time” for use. The company is driven by the mission to grow and sustain local food systems internationally. CEO and co-founder, Rob Spiro, recognizes consumer demand for higher quality produce and transparency of country of origin. The upside is that producers want a more direct relationship with their consumers. Thankfully, Good Eggs bridges the normal gap between producer and consumer.

‘Our food isn’t what you’ll find in any market and you get it hours after the farmers drop it off with us. So, yes, we’re different.’ Rob Spiro, CEO and Founder

Criteria for selling through Good Eggs includes: environmental and ecological transparency of ingredients, fair labor, humane treatment or animals and great taste! 05eggs-druckman-slide-FCA0-tmagArticle

Within two minutes you can order your farm fresh groceries in San Francisco Area, New Orleans, Los Angeles and/or Brooklyn for free. How does Good Eggs make money you ask? They take a percentage of each purveyor’s sales.

If you live in one of the above listed areas, gain access to these fresh foods now!

Photo Credit:Index Ventures and NYTimes Blog 

Good Eggs Raises $21 Million From Index Ventures To Deliver The Farmer’s Market To Your Door

Kids LiveWell

KLW_homepage_spot_ad_webBy: Nikki Nies

Dining out is meant to be filled with fun, however, a little planning ahead of time can make it healthy too! Thanks to the National Restaurant Association’s partnership with the Healthy Dining Finder on the Kids LiveWell Program, parents have more access to list of healthier restaurants options.

Restaurants that participate in the Kids LiveWell program promise to offer menu options that focus on increased fruit and vegetable intake, lean protein, whole grains and low fat dairy.  These provisions are on top of the limitation of unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium.  Do these menu options sound familiar? Perhaps, it reminds you of the Dietary Guidelines?

Criteria to be considered Kids LiveWell full meal including entree, side and drink

  • 600 calories or less
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • < 0.5 grams trans fat
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤ 770 mg of sodium
  • 2 or more food groups

Criteria to be considered a nutritious side item:

  • 200 calories or less
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • < 0.5 grams trans fat
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤ 250 mg of sodium
  • 1 food group

With more than 42,000 restaurants participating in this health initiative, your family should not have too much trouble finding healthy options that meet your taste preference. Restaurant  establishments include: Au Bon Pain, Bonefish Grill, Burger King, Burgerville, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Chevys Fresh Mex, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Corner Bakery Cafe, Cracker Barrel, Denny’s, El Pollo Loco, Friendly’s, IHOP, Joe’s Crab Shack, Outback Steakhouse, Silver Diner, Sizzler, T-Bones Great American Eatery and zpizza.

Due to Kids LiveWell three year anniversary, make sure to check out promotional offers that can be used as supported restaurants!  With all these great offers, you can dine out guilt free! What menu option are you going to try next?

Photo Credit:National Restaurant Association


Sensory Science Focus Groups

By: Nikki Nies

When people talk, listen completely.  Most people never listen.” -Ernest Hemingway

Yes, one of the great American authors, Ernest Hemingway stated thecfans_asset_089259 above words that are as relevant today as when said in 20th century.   There is room for interpretation of the quote, but for today, Hemingway’s words resonate as a reminder of health professionals’ ongoing priority: to listen to clients, customers and colleagues needs.  In particular, Registered Dietitians (RDs) can better “listen” to clients and patients’ needs through the administration of focus groups.

To elaborate, the use of a focus group that consists of 6-12 participants using qualitative, quantitative methods of questionnaires and/or observations helps to understand consumer’s intrinsic characteristics (i.e. preferences of taste, aroma or color).  Consumers may not be able to articulate product preference, but with the use of focus groups, it allows researchers to take the guess work out of the equation and focus on the “what” differences. The goal is to recognize the perceptions, preferences, opinions and beliefs of a particular audience.

Not sure how to best incorporate focus groups into your daily work? Past research and examples of focus groups are a great reference and starting point for budding sensory scientists.   Again, focus groups can be used in a myriad of situations and populations.1

Use of Focus Groups by RDs:  

·         Making Tortillas without Lard: Latino Parents’ Perspectives on Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, and Weight-Management Strategies for Overweight Latino Children1

  • With Latinos among the most overweight racial/ethnic groups of US children, a study aimed to identify parents’ perspectives on healthy eating, physical activity, and weight-management strategies for overweight Latino children. Four focus groups were conducted of Mexican immigrant, Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, and other Latino families with overweight children. Parents were open to integrating healthy substitutes into traditional Latino meals/snacks, and found them palatable
  • Quinoa Flour as a Replacement for All Purpose Flour in a Peanut Butter Cookie2
    • As a high quality protein, fiber rich content and lack of gluten, quinoa flour is a great health substitute for celiac patients and for the health conscious. Objective tests and subjective evaluations were administered to university students, with no significant difference in preference found using a nine point likert scale. Although, the quinoa flour was described as significantly sweeter and chewier than the control group, the wheat flour
  • Research continues to show consumption of whole grains reduces one’s risk of diabetes. However, due to a lack of acceptability of brown rice for white rice, a study led by Zhang et al., 2010 looked at the feasability of introducing brown rice into the Chinese diet. Prior to tasting, most considered brown rice inferior to white rice in regards to unpalatable taste, rough texture and quality.  After tasting the brown rice, the majority of participated stated a willingness to try brown rice in the future.
  • Obtain baseline data on employee and/or customer preferences4
    • Using a focus group allows anonymity of opinions that may not be obtained otherwise. This allows employees and customers to feel more comfortable sharing the “whole truth.”  People are often more open with suggestions and concerns if there is less of a worry of repercussions with shared comments
    • Through the use of focus groups surveys, information obtained can be used to develop marketing surveys to assess customer perceptions of foodservice operation from employees that have direct contact4
  • Increase participation in community events, such as congregate meals5
    • The administration of focus groups, RDs can better understand what foods older adults are more receptive to at congregate meals. 5
    • In a study led by Lee et al., 2008, they inquired why there was an 18% decline in participation of congregate meals from 1980 to 2002. Researchers valued the senior’s beliefs about participation is fundamental to implement a successful program.  With four different meal sites, they learned what seniors valued in the congregate meals (social interaction, cost/savings on grocery bill, access to nutritious meals), but there were concerns for bland tasting breakfast and the lack of meals provided on the weekend. 5
  • Response to a “Better-For-You” peanut butter by three consumer population segments: A focus group Study6
    • It can’t be ignored that health claims and food labels influence consumer purchases. By using focus groups, one can assess consumer responsiveness to health claims, detect themes in consumer perception of peanut butter and determine potential impact of identifying peanut butter as an antioxidant or high rich fiber food.6
    • A study led by Harrison et al., examined the taste perception of peanut butter based on food label and health claims. It was found, while the health claims don’t necessarily impact purchasing decisions, but “taste” , appearance and price were the leading factors of purchasing power.6
  • Improve store and/or company brand quality through sensory evaluation methods7
    • Using sensory evaluation to determine acceptability and likeability of products can help companies brand their generic products to compete with national brands. By inquiring consumer’s perception of nutrition quality and packaging can provide dietitians with the ability to provide more “acceptable” visually pleasing company products.7
  • How to meet children’s taste and palate preferences more effectively8
    • It’s not realistic or effective to generalize children’s food preferences.  In a study led by Donadini et al., a hierarchical cluster analysis was used to better identify cheese preferences among preschoolers. 8  Among the clusters formed, it was evident some children focused on flavors and textures while others exclusively fixated on flavors.5  Such information could not be as easily obtained without the controlled setting administered and in addition with obtaining parental consent was required.

Sensory-Science-Course6As you can see, sensory science is its own platform of evaluative tools.9  Furthermore, sensory science is used for research purposes and not necessarily to manipulate people’s choices, but to provide choices that they don’t even recognize they want.10  The point is, while health professionals are given numerous opportunities to learn what consumers, clients and/or patients want, often times it’s easier to anticipate the wrong assumption or not really “hearing what’s said.”  Don’t squash the opportunity to use focus groups in your field of dietetics.  Better yet, I challenge you to find a way to incorporate at least one focus group study into your field of practice!

  1. Flores, Glenn et al. Making Tortillas without Lard: Latino Parents’ Perspectives on Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, and Weight-Management Strategies for Overweight Latino Children Journal of the American Dietetic Association , Volume 112 , Issue 1 , 81 – 89
  2. Harra, N.M. et al.Quinoa Flour Is an Acceptable Replacement for All Purpose Flour in a Peanut Butter Cookie Journal of the American Dietetic Association , Volume 111 , Issue 9 , A45
  3. Zhang, Geng et al. Substituting Brown Rice for White Rice to Lower Diabetes Risk: A Focus-Group Study in Chinese Adults Journal of the American Dietetic Association , Volume 110 , Issue 8 , 1216 – 1221
  4. Perlmutter C, Gregoire M, Canter D. Use of focus groups to improve nutrition services in a worksite cafeteria. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1994;94(9):A76.
  5. Lee K, Gould R. Using focus groups to access beliefs of seniors about participating in congregate meal programs. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2008;108(9):A110.
  6. Harrison J, Hargrove J, Kerr W, Pegg R, Swanson R. Response to a “Better-for-you” peanut butter by three consumer population segments: A focus group Study. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2014;114(9):A61.
  7. Way L, Paris K, Poynor S. Sensory evaluation methods to select, maintain and improve store brand products and quality. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2011;111(9):A18.
  8. Grenci A, Brill M, Kinsey J, Hughes L, Cirignano S, Morgan K. Parent focus groups spotlight opportunities for nutrition professionals to collaborate on school wellness Initiatives. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012;112(9):A81.
  9. Rohall S, Ballintine J, Vowels J, Wexler L, Simeral S, Goto K. Who’s your patty: Sensory evaluation of burger patties made with different types of meat or plant-based Products. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009;109(9):A68.

Photo Credit: University of Minnesota and Nottingham

Discovering Healthy Choices

dhcBy: Nikki Nies

Who likes free? If you’re like the rest of the global society, you answered with an emphatic “I DO!!!”  Today you’re in luck, I’m sharing some the free curriculum that was shared with me at FNCE 2014. Discovering Healthy Choices os a garden enhanced nutrition curriculum as part of the Shaping Healthy Choices Program.

The goal with this curriculum is to provide better understanding of nutrition concepts and development o problem solving skills so children and teens can make wise, evidence based decisions about the foods they eat.  The curriculum covers everything from the roles of specific nutrients to MyPlate and physical activity recommendations to explanations on how food companies market their products.

Whether you’re an elementary teacher that wants to incorporate more sustainable practices in your classroom or you’re a dad that wants to teach your kids how to read food labels, this curriculum is friendly to all!

Photo Credit:UC Davis


Danger[s] of Dentures

OlderAdults_225x207By: Nikki Nies

I recently finished up my long term care rotation at the DuPage Convalescent Center (DPCC) in Wheaton, IL. I’m not one to shy away from  helping the older adult population,but I didn’t know too much about what I’d be getting into prior to the rotation.  In the seven weeks that I was at this facility, I quickly became familiar with the facility’s philosophy and way of care.  It’s very telling that during care conferences,many of the residents families’ shared how appreciative they were of the care their loved ones were receiving at DPCC and how they could tell the employees didn’t think of their daily activities as part of just “a job.”

With that said, with the many quarterly, yearly and initial assessments I completed, it became clearer as the days passed that evaluation of one’s oral care, dental and swallowing and chewing impairment affected the resident’s ability to obtain and maintain adequate nutrition.  While dentures aka false teeth can be the solution to said issues, it’s important to keep your dentures and mouth consistently clean.  If you wear ill-fitted dentures for a prolonged time, it can lead to:

  • Gum and/or mouth irritation
  • Problems eating and/or speaking
  • Mouth infections

While with age, change comes, there are preventative ways you can make sure your dentures don’t contribute and/or exacerbate existing

  • Make sure to frequent the dentist as gums and bones will change and dentures won’t fit as well and your dentures will need to be adjusted
  • If you have trouble eating, don’t eat anything sticky, chew food slowly, take small bites of soft foods (i.e. eggs and yogurt) and chew foods using both sides of your mouth at the same time, which prevents dentures from moving forward or tipping
  • Use an adhesive to keep dentures in place and make them feel more secure
  • Unless dentist prescribes otherwise, do not sleep with your dentures in, especially after extraction and/or initial use of dentures
  • When holding dentures, stand over a water filled sink or place towel underneath dentures to protect in case dropped.
  • Clean dentures daily by soaking overnight with a denture cleaner and clean in the morning before putting them in your mouth
  • Use a special denture cleaning brush or soft bristled brush
  • Do not use toothpaste, bleach or powdered household cleaners as they are too abrasive
  • Clean and massage gums, tongue and roof of mouth daily prior to putting dentures.
  • Don’t use toothpicks as they can damage dentures

What denture hacks have you used to keep dentures in place? What troubles have you encountered with your dentures?

Photo Credit: Olmsted County and Dreamstime


Halloween Hacks

thBy: Nikki Nies

I’m all for the holidays. Whether it’s the 4th of July or Thanksgiving, the holidays revolve around food. Rightfully so! It’s safe to say that with Halloween around the corner, the start of the holiday festivities are about to begin! However, with many holiday gatherings filling up your calendars, that doesn’t mean you have to walk away from every celebration filled to the brim yourself.

Whether you’re celebrating your first Halloween as a freshmen college student or hosting your very own Halloween party for the neighborhood, having a variety of treats that are guilt free are a great way to start the holiday season on the right foot! 63360bbe5e540b5f57690aeda50d994f

Depending on your own food preferences and palette,that can help you decide what foods are worth indulging in and which foods you want can pass up.  However, I’ve done some research of my own, finding that there are some recipes that aren’t completely loaded with sugar and fat. Why not try a healthier version of the favorite fall pumpkin bread, make a veggie man, microwave baked apples with dried cherries, healthier brownies,mini rice cakes and/or  spiced apple butter bran muffins!

Regarding prevention methods to avoid overindulgence with the Halloween treats. Some friendly suggestions:

  • Agree upon a  x amount of candy that will be limited every day prior to trick or treating
  • Before trick or treating, make sure to eat a snack and/or dinner to prevent caving into the chocolate cravings
  • Keep candy out of plain sight to avoid overindulgence
  • Consider “buying” back candy in exchange for some coins and/or paper!
  • Be a role model and eat candy in moderation. To avoid temptation, buy candy last minute and throw out leftovers.
  • Suggest use of nonfood treats–such as stickers, toys, temporary tattoos, false teeth and/or bubbles

Whatever your Halloween plans are, I hope you enjoy the night and be safe!

Photo Credit:The Family Room Blog and Pinterest


5 Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Best Coffee Cities

gallery-full-roasterBy: Nikki Nies

There’s often controversy over whether coffee is good for you or not.  While critics sort that out, I’m going to go with the “innocent” until proven guilty theory in regards to the benefits of coffee since I owe a lot of my own sanity to the carafes of coffee over the years! With that said, I’m definitely more particular about my coffee than let’s say the brand of garbage bags I choose.

Thankfully, my trusty Time magazine has come out with a new list of Best Coffee Cities!  Take a look below at the list: 12bcbf7b654e9a9272d3374d2e8efe12

  1. Portland, Oregon with Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Coava and Water Avenue Coffee : This city has again topped the list of “best coffee” due to it’s vibrant variety of coffees.  Stumptown Coffee Roasters has thankfully expanded beyond Oregon.  While, Coava is a single origin roaster and Water Avenue Coffee offers $1 sidecar shot espressos.
  2. Seattle, Washington with Slate Coffee Roasters or Convoy Coffee, which  offers  bike-powered coffee cart with pour-overs, AeroPress, and iced coffee. Or check out the interactive Starbucks Reserve and Roastery and Tasting Room!
  3. Providence, Rhode Island with sweet “coffee milk” found at Dave’s Coffee.
  4. Albuquerque, New Mexico with its local flavor found at New Mexico Pinon Coffee Company.  Short coffee history classes, cupping and roasting demos are offered weekly or check out Golden Crown Panaderia, where one can indulge in a Coffee Milkshake with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and espresso!
  5. Houston, Texas with Siphon Coffee‘s offering of vacuum prepared coffees.  Or head over to the Revival Market that sells Houston based roaster Greenway.

After going through this list, what city is missing from the list? Yes, “best” is subjective, but what’re some non negotiable parameters you use when opting for different coffee flavors?

Photo Credit:The Roasterie and Pinterest 


Food Forward

By: Nikki Nies s-FOOD-FORWARD-PBS-large

We’re all familiar with the old saying “In the good ol’ days…” or “When I was a child…”, yet those that are able recap such decades of hardship and/or prosperity may be onto something.  In a matter of decades, food has gone from a source of nourishment, to becoming a source of addiction and contributing to the obesity epidemic on hand.

Where  our food derives from deserves equal attention to what we eat.  Also, understanding the impact of our food choices has on the rest of the ecosystem can provide clarify of the carbon footprint of such choices.

Curious to know more about your food, but not sure where to turn? The Feed Forward Documentary delves into the lives of farmers, chefs, teachers, scientists and entrepreneurs to better learn what viable alternatives are emanating to nourish us AND the planet.  These stories and ideas need to be heard!

Photo Credit:  Huffington Post



Oleic Acid

By: Nikki Nies

fatty_acidI’ve talked a lot about fats due to their ubiquitous nature, our need for healthy fats and due to the controversies related to which fats are better than others.  While polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats are lauded as the healthy fats, there’s another type of fat that deserves equal healthy attention. That is oleic acid!

While polyunsaturated fats have multiple double bonds, oleic acid(omega-9) has one double one, which makes it still a “healthy fat.”  Oleic acid is an unsaturated fatty acid, compromising of 55-85% of olive oil. In its natural form, oleic acid is odorless, colorless and great in all methods of cooking.

Oleic acid is an omega- 9 fatty acid and is naturally found in animal and plant oils. In its natural form, Oleic acid is odorless and colorless.  Although oleic acid is best known to derive from olives, it can also be found in avocados, canola oil, grape seed oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sesame seed oil, pecans, almonds and other types nuts.  Naturally in the body, it’s found in adipose tissue.

Benefits of oleic acid:

  • Used as an emulsifier in aerosol  olive oil
  • Less susceptible to spoilage, which makes it ideal for food preservation
  • Lowers blood cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Reduces occurence of blood clots
  • Ability to remove plaque and debris in blood vessels
  • Antioxidant rich to help remove harmful toxins and free radicals
  • Prevents premature aging in cells
  • Increases immune system functioning
  • May help boost memory and increase speed neurological transmission
  • May help relieve asthma symptoms
  • May increase respiratory functioning
  • Seen as a treatment for joint pain, swelling and redness related to arthritis

With all these listed benefits of oleic acid, how can you resist the variety of oleic acid rich nuts and oils?

Photo Credit: Pioneer and Olive Oil Excellance