Food Prep Hacks


 

Thank you Ghregrich Connect for sharing this infographic!

food-hacks-final

Sources: Fix

Prebiotics


4319614500_e786aa21c2_o
Original Image by THOR via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Prebiotics are not synonymous with probiotics. While probiotics are the healthy bacteria found in cultured dairy foods, prebiotics are fermentable fibers that helps feed healthy bacteria in the gut. The healthy bacteria that live in the intestines use the prebiotics as a source of fuel. Prebiotics have been noted to help alleviate bouts of diarrhea, aiding in healthy bowel function and improving one’s immune system.  In addition, prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that allow probiotics to flourish.

Good sources of Prebiotics:

  • Fruits-berries and bananas
  • Vegetables: Garlic, artichokes, onions and some greens
  • Grains: flax, legumes, barley and whole grains, like oatmeal
  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem artichokes

There are no specific guidelines as to how many grams of prebiotics we need to consume, but some research suggests between 3-8 grams per day.

Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not influenced by heat, cold, acid or die with time. When prebiotics and probiotics are combined, they form a synbiotic. Synbiotics include yogurt and kefir, which are fermented dairy products that contain live bacteria.  Therefore, thankfully, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to obtain prebiotics in your meals! Who doesn’t love a great meal of oatmeal, berries and bananas?!

Photo Credit:eHealth101

Sources:http://www.prebiotin.com/prebiotics/prebiotics-vs-probiotics/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/consumer-health/expert-answers/probiotics/faq-20058065

http://www.prebiotic.ca/prebiotic_fibre.html

http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/naldc/download.xhtml?id=57525&content=PDF

http://www.ars.usda.gov/Main/docs.htm?docid=13431

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Prebiotics-could-help-combat-meat-pathogens-says-USDA

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrition-vitamins-11/probiotics

Calculating F&V Servings


FruitandVeggiesBy: Nikki Nies

T/F juice counts as a serving of fruit? How do servings work? For the most part, a cup means a cup — just measure out a cup of grapes or a cup of chopped carrots, and ta-da, you have your measurement. There are a few exceptions though.

  • When it comes to salad, a cup is not a cup. It takes 2 cups of leafy greens to equal 1 cup of vegetables.
  • Juice does count as a fruit. A cup of fruit juice does count as a serving of fruit, but nutritionists caution that you’re not getting the fiber and other good benefits of eating whole fruit.
  • When it comes to dried fruit, cut the amount in half. A half cup of dried fruit equals one cup of fresh fruit.
  • One big piece of fruit is roughly a cup. An apple, an orange, a large banana, a nectarine, a grapefruit — one piece of fruit gives you one cup.

Photo Credit: The Kitchn

Sources: http://www.thekitchn.com/10-photos-that-show-you-your-daily-recommended-servings-of-fruits-vegetables-207261?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=managed

http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/healthy-habits/how-much-serving-fruits-vegetables

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/fruitsvegetables/

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables-amount.html

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/myplate-and-what-is-a-serving-of-fruits-and-vegetables

10 Ways to a Healthier YOU!


Health-Map-471x282By: Nikki Nies

Being honest with ourselves’ goals and future lifestyle changes is the best thing to do moving forward.  While one might have the best intentions of losing weight, as we all know, learning how to walk is essential and part of the foundation of learning how to run.  With that said, with the New Year upon us, there’s no better time to jumpstart healthier changes.  BUT, while there are ten suggestions to a healthier lifestyle, you know, deep down, what changes will stick and what changes are not realistic to implement.

You don’t have to implement all ten changes, as that may be too overwhelming and backfire in the long run, but incorporating one or two ideas that best fit into your daily routine can provide insurmountable intrinsic and extrinsic benefits.

1. Drink more water! Aim for 16 oz. of water with each meal and snack

2. Plan at least one more meal per week in advance.  Meal ideas :

Breakfast:

  • 1 cup egg whites, 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats, 1 cup blueberries, 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • Flatbread sandwich with 3/4 cup egg whites, lean meat, cheddar cheese, spinach, onions and black olives
  • 2 scrambled eggs, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and Canadian bacon on an English muffin

Lunch/Dinner: 1047445.large

  • Chicken and flank steak, 1/2 cup white rice and 2 cups steamed vegetables
  • 4 oz. extra lean ground turkey, 1/2 cup sweet potatoes, 4 cups spinach with olive oil and vinegar dressing
  • 4 oz. salmon, 2 cups broccoli with 2 tablespoons of organic unsalted butter
  • 2 oz. turkey breast, 1 oz. raw, unsalted nuts, sliced cucumber
  • 6 oz. oven roasted chicken breast 1, 1 cup vegetables and 2/3 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, 4 oz. tilapia and 1 cup steamed green beans
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1/4 cup fat free cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons olive oil

Snack:

  • Banana and peanut butter smoothie
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese with 1 tablespoon natural nut butter or 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 cup oatmeal and protein shake
  • Fresh pineapple and yogurt
  • Handful of almonds and an apple
  • Carrots and hummus
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Brown rice cake with almond butter and string cheese

3. Make meat proteins a side dish, not main entree of meals

4. Follow the 80/20 rule-with healthy options 80% o the time, but still having the occasional indulgence

5. Instead of concentrating on the number of calories consumed, focus more on the variety of colors and foods you’re eating from the increased intake of fruits and vegetables

6. Gradually cut down on calories where you are willing to make lifestyle changes you can live with

7. Be patient and realistic–remember that small changes do make a difference and that it’s more important to FEEL better!

8. Sharing is caring! Share your latest achievements via social media! Post on Facebook the latest meal you made, take a picture and upload to Instagram of the view at the top of a mountain you’ve hiked and/or follow motivational and inspirational quotes on Twitter

9. Use the outdoors as your gym will decrease excuses of working out.  While it’s winter, indoor swimming, hiking, rock climbing and biking are great year round exercises!

10. Find a partner, a support system and/or accountability buddy to encourage, confide and motivate you to make healthier choices.

If you need more information, please search and contact a Registered Dietitian near you! Keep us posted on your lifestyle changes! What healthier lifestyle additions are you adding to your day to day life? Good luck!

Photo Credit: Care2 and Green Bean Delivery 

Vegetables THEN Fruits?!


urlBy: Nikki Nies

Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables are a ubiquitous aspect of health eating recommendations! While fruits are a great contributor of natural sugar, fiber and micronutrients, it’s less likely that criticism will derive from the amount of vegetables consumed.  The term fruits and vegetables kind of rolls of one’s tongue, but what message does that label send? By stating fruits before vegetables in the healthy recommendation, it hints that fruits are more important than vegetables to consume.

For many, it’s much easier to get their daily recommended intakes of fruit at 2-3 servings than  to eat 5-7 servings of vegetables.  However, with many folks barely getting 2-3 servings of vegetables, perhaps, our strategy for health promotion needs to change. Would it be more effective for the health industry to promote regular consumption of vegetables and fruits, not fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables can help one feel fuller longer on less calories, as they are high in water and fiber content. Quality vegetables also help ward of heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure, guard against cataracts and macular degeneration.

While we all know adequate intake of vegetables are necessary for optimal growth, development and maintenance, promotion of vegetables have not received enough attention and emphasis.  Therefore, I propose the consumption of vegetables THEN fruits! What’s your take? Do you agree?

Photo Credit:Raw Edibles

Sources:http://www.in.gov/isdh/20096.htm

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/

http://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/fruits_and_vegetables.htm

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vegetables-full-story/

MSNW Thesis Presentation!


By: Nikki Nies IMG_8331

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to present my Master’s in Nutrition and Wellness thesis presentation with my fellow colleagues! With the generous help and mentoring from Dr. Bonnie Beezhold, we successfully presented on the Associations with stress: A cross-sectional comparison of wellness in older adults.  My main focus on the study was health and lifestyle factors’ affect on depressive symptoms of the two sites: vowed religious community and independent retirement community.

Background: In the U.S., we have an aging population; the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2050, 20% of the U.S. population will be over the age of 65. According to the American Psychological Association, older adults are likely to report less stress than younger generations, but still report stress levels higher than what they think of as a healthy range. In older adults, increased stressful life events can lead to an increase in depressive symptoms.

Many lifestyle factors, including diet, can impact our mood and stress levels. Older adults do not meet dietary guidelines for their age, they often eat less fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and more total fat and saturated fat than recommended. Poor dietary choices in the elderly can have negative outcomes on physical and mental health. Aging is also associated with increasing BMI and body fat which are related to increased blood pressure, blood glucose and lipids.

We were given an opportunity through our contact with Father David to work with the Benedictine Monks at St. Procopius Abbey, the institution that founded our university. This is a group of older men who live in a cohesive community based in religious values. This opportunity made us curious about the impact of living environment on stress and other health and lifestyle factors, and so our research question was shaped by this population. Past literature indicated that a religious community can positively impact wellness, a 32 year follow up study of 144 nuns and 138 laypersons in Italy found that those living in a religious community had a more stable blood pressures, a common measure of stress, throughout the study compared to the control group. Another study, in the Netherlands focused on the relationship between a Monastic lifestyle and mortality. In the 1,523 Benedictine and Trappist Monks, the religious lifestyle was associated with longer life expectancy. Based on the previous literature, we hypothesized that older adults living in a vowed religious community would have less stress and healthier dimensions of mental and physical wellness than those living in a retirement community.

Major Results: When analyzing the data, we found that the distribution of the data was not normal therefore we used nonparamtetric tests to assess the data. The sample consisted of 67 independent older adults aged 65 years and older. Of whom, 52% were in the vowed religious community and 48% were living in the independent retirement community.  39% of our sample were men and 61% of our sample were women. 75% of our sample was white. Activity hours or hours spent related to paid work or volunteer hours was significantly different by group with a large effect size. The vowed religious community spent significantly more time in work-related activity than compared to the independent retirement community. Additionally, we hypothesized that the vowed religious community would have higher scores on the spirituality and well-being scale. Interestingly, no significant differences were observed by group. There was also no significant associations found with the social support scale.

Depression: 5.5% of older Americans have been diagnosed with depression. The DSM-V provides standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders.  In addition, past literature repeatedly finds women report more depression than men.  Symptoms include low mood, physical symptoms and evidence of chronic diseases. The consequences can be costly and serious. A quote that characterizes this condition well states, “…everyone feels blue sometimes, but depression is sadness that persists and interferes with daily life.”

We used the Geriatric Depression Scale 15 questionnaire (GDS-15) as it’s been identified as appropriate to use with older adults to successfully diagnose depression, but has high reliability and validity.  The fifteen questions are scored based on a point system, with a higher GDS score indicative of depression. 7.6% of our participants reported depression, which was higher than the overall reported depression for older adults in America at 5.5%.

Based on review of literature, we wanted to investigate whether reported depressive symptoms differed between the two major living sites.  Our hypothesis was that older adults living in a vowed religious environment would report less depression. We conducted a Mann-Whitney U test and found there was a significant difference between the living groups, with the vowed religious group reported a higher mean depression score than the community group, indicating they were more depressed. The null hypothesis was rejected. Since research shows that depression differs by gender, we conducted another test by gender, but there was NO difference in depression scores when we compared males and females in the whole sample (p=.297).

We went on to investigate relationships between depressive symptoms and health and lifestyle factors since there is a lot of research showing depression is multifactorial. We conducted Pearson’s correlations with higher GDS scores and the significant correlations are shown here. Depression scores were associated with associated with higher perceived stress, and negatively associated with social support, indicating that as stress increased, depression increased, and as social support decreased, depression increased. Depression scores were also associated with living in the vowed religious community. The alternative hypothesis was accepted. Again, depression is usually associated with gender, but in this population it was not.

Since these factors were significantly related to the GDS scores, we conducted a multiple linear regression to investigate how much of the variance in depression scores we observed between living groups. We entered perceived stress, social support, and living environment into the regression model, and found that 21% of the variance in depression scores between the two living groups was explained. Perceived stress makes the strongest unique contribution, and is the only statistically significant contribution to depression scores when gender and social support are controlled for. Perceived stress uniquely explained 8% of the total variance in depression scores in our population. The alternative hypothesis was accepted.

So coming back to our result of the vowed religious group reporting significantly more depression based on what we measured, we ran correlations with depression scores in the vowed religious group alone, and found that as stress and trans fat intake increased, depressive symptoms increased. Furthermore, those that consume a large amount of trans fats have been found to have a 48% risk of depression due to the low grade inflammatory status and endothelial dysfunction (Villegas et al., 2011).re

These results show  a linear relationship between these variables and we cannot draw causal conclusions.  Therefore, my null hypothesis was rejected.

Our study was the first to compare levels of depression in different cohesive environments in older adults, surprisingly, our vowed religious participants reported more depression than those living in a retirement community. We obviously did not measure all factors related to development of depression, but did find stress was a contributor. For example, in study led by Fagundes et al. they evaluated relationships between depressive symptoms and stress-induced inflammation. Of the 138 participants, the more depressive symptoms produced more interleukin-6 in response to the stressor.

Another study led by Aziz et al., 2013 looked at how perceived stress, social support and home based physical activity affect older adults’ fatigue, loneliness and depression on 163 participants. The findings indicated higher social support predicted lower levels of loneliness, fatigue and depression.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the vowed religious community had a lower level of wellness than the independent retirement community. They consumed more sweets, drank less alcohol, reported more depression & had higher body fat & heart rates. Spirituality was similar in both environments, and that factor was the biggest predictor of lower stress. Dietary practices may also be related to lower stress, such as eating less sweets, getting more vitamin D and drinking responsibly.

While there is still work to be done on the manuscript, it was a great relief to get this portion of the thesis complete! We want to thank all the participants, the Benedictine Nutrition department and Dr. Bonnie Beezhold for their extensive involvement!

Photo Credit: Highland Hospital and Fairfield County 

Safe Food Preservation


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Original Image by Jim Champion via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Fun Fact: Food preservation permeates all cultures.  And they say we’re all different, huh?

How often do you find yourself throwing food out because you didn’t have a chance to use it before it goes bad? Or how many times do you head to the checkout line at the grocery store with the maximum amount of produce allowed due to the great sale? While these conundrums may be a common issue for you, by canning and/or preserving your food, you can have your veggies and can them too! Pun intended!

There are so many preservation methods, depending on the foods, equipment and intentions with the food.  I’m by no means an expert on canning, but I’ve had first hand experience in the food saving systems it can do!

The list below is not an exhaustive list of food preservation, but it’s a good overview of the most common techniques used and a few unique modes of preservation for those more adventurous with their canning abilities.

Preservation Method Commonly Used Foods Fun Facts
Canning Wine; milk; vegetables; fruits; meat With canning, it destroys microorganisms and inactivates enzymes; the vacuum seal prevents other microorganisms from recontaminating food within jar or can; includes pressure canning and water bath canning
Cellaring Vegetables; grains; nuts; dry cured meats Storing foods in temperature, humidity and light controlled environment
Curing Meat; fish Earliest curing was dehydration; included use of salt to help dessicate foods; uses salts, acid and/or nitrites; may employ secondary method of fermenting, smoking or sealing
Dry Salting Meat; fish; vegetables Fermenting or pickling techniques; 2.5-5% salt concentration promotes fermentation; 20-25% salt promotes high salt concentration;
Drying Often with fish, game, domestic animals, fruits; herbs In ancient times, sun and wind would have naturally dried foods—with Asian and Middle Eastern countries actively drying foods as early as 12,000 B.C. ; in the Middle Ages they built “still houses” for the purpose of drying fruits, vegetables and herbs that didn’t have strong enough sunlight for drying
Fermenting Fruits–>wine; cabbage–>Kim chi or sauerkraut ; legumes; seafood; dairy; eggs; wine; cured sausage; yogurt; meats Fermentation has been used to create more nutritious and palatable foods from less than desirable ingredients; microorganisms that are responsible for fermentation can produce vitamins
Freezing Meats, vegetables, leftovers, fruit; eggs; nuts; prepared foods Common use includes cellars, caves and cool streams; chilling foods to at least 0°F
Jamming  Fruits With use of honey or sugar; in ancient Greece, quince was mixed with honey, dried and packed tightly into jars;
Pickling Wine; ciders; chutneys; mustards; relishes; ketchups and sauces Preservation of foods in vinegar or other acids; first fermented to alcohol and then alcohol’s oxidized by bacteria to acetic acid;
Sealing Legumes; seafood; dairy; eggs; wine; cured sausage; yogurt; meats Covers food to keep out air—delaying the activity of spoilage organisms; used as complementary process to other fermentation methods, i.e. freezing or drying; relatively inexpensive
Smoking Meats Improves flavor and appearance; can be used as a drying agent; by smoking, meats are less likely to turn rancid or grow mold than unsmoked

With all this said, what canning techniques have I left out that you think should be used consistently? Have any kitchen hacks you’re willing to share with canning? We’d love to hear them!

Learn how to preserve specific foods with OSU’s guide!

Sources: http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/preserving/

http://nchfp.uga.edu/

http://extension.psu.edu/food/preservation/safe-methods

http://extension.psu.edu/food/preservation

http://www.foodsafety.wisc.edu/preservation.html

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/food-preservation

http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/food_pres_hist.html

ERMAGERD #PSL


ciderportraitBy: Nicole Arcilla

Not going to lie, fall isn’t my favorite season! I’ve not truly gotten on board with the “pumpkin craze.” However, I do recognize the health benefits of pumpkin and I’m not going to let that deter me from promoting its health benefits to you!

1. Vitamin A – lots of it.

Just like other orange-colored vegetables, pumpkin is abundant in Vitamin A, also known as carotenoids, the form of Vitamin A found in plants. Vitamin A has long been known for improving eye health and promoting good vision, but carotenoids can also be found in different forms and provide other benefits. Probably one of the most important types of carotenoids is beta-carotene. This type of carotenoid is an antioxidant, meaning it can fight against free radicals that play a role in the development of chronic diseases. Just one cup of cooked, unsalted pumpkin can provide over 200% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin A.

2. Fiber
Fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber, and pumpkin is no exception to this rule. A lot of people tend to forget that going to the bathroom regularly is also a part of good health. So in order to have a regular schedule going make sure you’re eating enough fiber, but one thing to remember: fiber can act like a sponge and soak up the water in your body and make it harder to pass through your lower intestines. To counteract these effects simply drink plenty of fluids, like water. Another bonus of fiber? It’ll prolong satiety. In other words, you’ll feel fuller for longer and you can stop daydreaming about your next meal even though you literally just ate five minutes ago (that’s not just me, right?).

pumpkinpie3. Low in calories. So stop counting them.
Pumpkin, along with other fruits and vegetables, are what we call “nutrient dense”. This means that not only are they low in calories, but they are packed with healthy nutrients. It’s almost the same idea as getting “more bang for your buck” – you get more, for much less. Now it also matters what else you’re adding to your pumpkin. If you’ve boiled, drained and added some herbs to your pumpkin – perfect! But if you’re eating pumpkin pie with a generous serving of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream coupled with a pumpkin spice latte…then maaaybe let’s have a one on one chat.

I know. That last sentence didn’t sound too comforting. You’re probably thinking “okay, so…what can I eat with pumpkin?! Those were the good ones!” Don’t despair. There’s plenty of other pumpkin dishes beyond desserts and what Starbucks offers. So come on. Put down that pumpkin spice latte and venture out. You can do it. I did a little research and found healthy pumpkin recipes for each meal – check them out and enjoy!

Breakfast: Pumpkin Almond Bread

Pancakes are usually one of the first thoughts that come to mind when we hear “breakfast”, but muffins and breads are great options too! I like to think of this one as a pancake on-the-go, minus the heavy butter and syrup.

Lunch: Pumpkin Soup

With temperatures slowly dipping down, who wouldn’t want some soup? This recipe calls for canned pumpkin puree which is available all year round, but since it’s in season – why not use real pumpkin? Learn how to make your own pumpkin puree.

Dinner: Pumpkin-Seed Pesto

People often overlook pumpkin seeds as a key ingredient in different dishes. Pumpkin seeds have their own nutrition benefits such as being a good source of zinc – a key nutrient in keeping a strong immune system. Pesto sauces typically use pine nuts, whereas this one calls for pumpkin seeds instead. Use it as a topping for whole wheat pasta, or even on chicken breast, lean beef, and other meats.

Drink/Dessert: Pumpkin Spice Dark Hot Chocolate

This is a fun twist on the traditional pumpkin spice latte! There’s so many other drinks out there, guys! Try out this recipe instead. What’s great is it doesn’t call for a heaping amount of sugar. Instead it uses milk alternatives and spices to keep up the flavor. So drink up and have it as a side to your main dessert, or have it as a dessert all on its own.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Collins

MyPlate for Older Adults


mpoaEnglishFrontSmall2

Source: http://fycs.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/hnfs/enafs/MyPlate.php

Kitchfix–CJK Foods


logoBy: Nikki Nies

Want home delivered meals, but want guaranteed freshness? Kitchfix has got you covered! Previously, known as CJK Foods, Kitchfix is founded by Chef Josh Katt and has made quite a name for itself in the Chicagoland area.  The concept of Kitchfix evolved after Chef Josh’s experiences in an after school cooking program in 2010 as well as a personal chef.

As a personal chef, Chef Josh had to accommodate a family’s needs for an anti inflammatory diet.This diet emphasizes the use of whole, unprocessed foods such as fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, and meats, and avoids inflammatory ingredients such as dairy, gluten, soy
products.

Kitchfix cares about:

  • Flavor: By using innovative culinary practices, superfoods work well together with a variety of flavors and textures; Chef Josh Katt is passionate about experimenting with different techniques and cuisines
  • Nutrition: the most nutrient densed foods are used in the superfood dishes; Kitchfix’s nutrition philosophy is based on progressive nutrition research and with the help of Jenny Westerkamp, Registered Dietitian (RD)
  • Animal Welfare: Use only the highest of standards for chicken, pork or poultry; ensured that beef is from a grass fed company, with no added hormones or antibiotics; opt for cage free pork and poultry, which is better for the environments and users’ overall health
  • Local Economy: supportive of local food movement; proudly working with local farms, G7 Ranch Gunthorp Farms
  • The planet: With a rooftop garden, Kitchfix is able to grow their own organic ingredients while adhering to sustainable farming, reducing  their carbon footprint; Kitchfix’s farmers adhere to environmentally conscious practices as well
  • Neighbors: With half of staff hours dedicated to employing from the Cara Program, Kitchfix is able to contribute to the growth of Chicagoland’s economy, providing employees the opportunities to escape from poverty and homelessness
  • You: By providing superfoods that meet Kitchfix’s superstandards, customers are guaranteed to receive the best nutrition with the best flavor

Still not convinced Kitchfix is worth trying? Check out the menu and ordering options! Additionally, peruse the delivery page to find out pricing !

Order Deadlines

  • Wednesday evening for Monday delivery
  • Friday evening for Tuesday delivery
  • Sunday evening for Wednesday or Thursday

Have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact Kitchfix! Have you personally ordered from Kitchfix? What was your experience like?

Sources: http://www.kitchfix.com/faq/