Sprouting Grains-Way Better. Pun Intended

By: Nikki Nies WayBetterSnacks4

I recently attended a Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics dinner meeting, where the chic, Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RD, CDE, provided valuable information on the benefits of sprouted grains, friendly suggestions on how to conduct a food demo and provided some yummy samples of Way Better chips! As a non-chip eater, even I couldn’t stop eating them!  While the line of Way Better chips is naturally healthier, the great news is flavor hasn’t been discarded!

Want the low down? These chips are gluten free, omega 3 rich, trans fat free, no high fructose corn syrup, whole grains, low in sodium, no MSG and antioxidant rich!  How are these chips different than regular Lays or Doritos? These chips derive from sprouted grains!

sprouted-bread1While there is no standard scientific definition of “sprouted” grains, it may be interesting to learn how different companies, corporations and councils define “sprouted grains.” Grains are the seeds of certain plants, particularly cereal grasses.  The three parts of grains–bran, germ and endosperm are crucial for the creation of new plants.  Until the plant is fully developed–with all three parts of the plant grown to capacity, built in growth inhibitors are used to prevent the plant from germinating.  Once sprouting begins, these inhibitors are no longer needed and the long term storage starch is converted to smaller molecules to be digested.  Sprouted grains are a combination of seed and growth of a new plant, therefore, they reap the benefits of both worlds–encompassing whole grain benefits + easily digestable!

Potential Benefits:

  • Increases the bioavailability of vitamin C and other minerals
    Have lower amounts of anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of nutrients like minerals and can cause harm
  • Protein and fiber rich
  • Sprouted brown rice can help fight fatigue in nursing mothers, depression and/or diabetes and reduce cardiovascular risk
  • Sprouted buckwheat can help fight fatty liver disease
  • Sprouted barley may reduce hypertension
  • Sprouted sorghum enhances taste and is the best vehicle for sorghum nutrient composition
  • Reduces the amount of gluten consumed, which is an increasing concern
  • Allows nutrients to be more accessible to body and are more digestible

Sprouting is a science.  There needs to be the right amount of moisture, temperature and time for the germination process.  If such conditions aren’t met, this can lead to the preventative condition,e. coli! So, when considering sprouted grains, be sure to be mindful of best practices and needs.  Whether you opt to buy packaged sprouted grains, cook sprouted grains as side dishes, or bake with sprouted grain flour, there is a way to incorporate more sprouted grains in your life!

If you’re interested in presenting information on sprouted grains, the Whole Grain Council has graciously created and shared a free powerpoint! Download the file today! Additionally, mark your calendars for April, as April’s Sprouted Grain Month and grab your own bag of Way Better chips!

Photo Credit: Cook Eat Delicious and Daily Baby Steps to Healthy Living 

Sources: http://gowaybetter.com/





Why Ezekiel Bread is The Healthiest Bread You Can Eat


‘Smart’ Frozen Meals

By: Nikki Nies

I’m a self-proclaimed realist.  I recognize that TV dinners aka frozen meals are a mainstay in grocery aisles and family households.  Instead of stating one should avoid such meals, I’ll join in on the fun and try to provide some healthier alternatives and guidance on what to parts of the food label one should discern when opting between two choices.

Prepackaged frozen meals take up more shelf space than any other type of food in the frozen aisle!  There’s no way to bypass reading the nutrition fact label to ensure you’re choosing the healthiest option! In other words, please give yourself a few extra minutes to compare meals and perhaps bring a pair of gloves down that aisle if you’re like me and get cold easily!

There are two types of frozen meals one should stick to: esq-iNWyfh-frozen-large

  1. Light Frozen Meals: Less than 300 calories and no more than 8 g of fat
  2. Regular Frozen Meals: 360-400 calories per meal and a maximum of 25 g of fat

Additional Tips:

  • When possible, go for the light frozen meal.
    Make sure to note the frozen meal portion size and grab the meal with veggies, as they tend to be lower in calories and contain more fiber and vitamins and minerals
  • Choose entrees that contain brown rice
  • Opt for lean meats–chicken, poultry and/or pork
  • Stick with lighter brand versions: Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers, and/or Amy’s
  • Hungry Man, Marie Callendar’s and Stouffer’s brand tend to be very rich in calories and fat and less nutrient dense than the lighter brands!
  • If you’re watching your sodium intake, it’s recommended to limit intake to less than 600-800 mg per meal, which is 1/3 of recommended sodium intake for average American
  • Don’t get wrapped up in the health claims the packages toot, this includes “natural” and “organic.”
  • Select meals with at least 3-5 g of fiber
  • Limit fat intake to less than 3 g of saturated fat or less per serving

I recognize these tips may seem overwhelming.  If needed, slowly start incorporating these suggested tips into your daily frozen meal choices one at a time.  Grocery shopping is one of my favorite past times and I hope it becomes and/or stays one of yours as well!

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/top-12-healthy-frozen-dinners





Hummus and Guacamole Showdown


Source: http://www.prevention.com/which-healthier-hummus-vs-guacamole?cid=socFO_20140813_29676476

The Salt Review

By: Nikki Nies

Depending on living environment and/or accent, nouns be referred to as different things.  For instance, you won’t find the word “pop” on a menu on the East Coast, but in the MidWest, “pop’s” the standard name for soda.  Get it?  While these regional words are equally accepted and used for sodium bicarbonate, such exchange of words are not always accurate.

Salt and sodium are used interchangeably.  However, salt and sodium don’t have the same meaning.  Salt is the combination of sodium + chloride, with sodium deemed the unhealthy part of salt.  1 gram of sodium is equal to 2.5 grams of salt.  On average, people are consuming 9 grams of salt a day.

It’s important to follow these parameters as too much sodium can lead to hypertension and increase one’s risk for stroke and/or heart disease.  The salt shaker on your table isn’t the issue at hand, but 80% of sodium is from the pre packaged,prepared, restaurant processed foods that are packed with sodium rich preservatives.

Recommendation: One should have no more than 2300 mg a day of sodium/6 grams of salt.  If you’re of African American descent, 51 years or older, have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, you should limit to 1500 mg per day.  Yet, high salt intake doesn’t increase one’s risk for heart disease, but sodium does!

To be more mindful of the amount of sodium in foods, choose:

  • Food with less than 50 mg sodium per serving is very low in sodium
  • Entrees with no more than 480 mg sodium per serving   
  • Opt for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned
  • Look for “no salt added” or “low sodium” products
  • Eat in one more night a week.  Peruse the American Heart Association‘s website for heart healthy recipes and ideas
  • Limit intake of sodium rich foods–soy sauce, pickles, salad dressing, ketchup, cheese, canned meats, frozen meals (i.e. pizza, stir fry, TV dinners), bread, cold cuts, bacon, hot dogs, salami and sausage

Foods that contain more than 250 mg of sodium per serving are considered high in sodium.

Salt Grain Size Recommended Use Fun Fact
Sea Salt Small and large Cooking and seasoning Comes from evaporated sea water; it’s common for minerals to be left behind in sea salt, which gives it extra flavor and its off white color
Table Salt Very small For seasoning, baking and in salt shakers All mineralsare removed from table saltChemicals are added in so so the grains don’t stick together
Kosher Salt Large Cooking and Seasoning Salt isn’t actually “kosher”, meaning it doesn’t conform to Jewish food laws, it’s used to make meat kosher

Now that you can differentiate salt and sodium, you’re already on your way to lowering your risk for blood pressure, heart attack and stroke!

Sources:http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Sea-Salt-Vs-Table-Salt_UCM_430992_Article.jsp http://www.food.gov.uk/scotland/scotnut/healthycatering/healthycatering2/healthycatering06/healthycateringqa09#.U7rIRZRdVIE

http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/community-health/heart-disease-stroke/sodiumsalt.html http://www.food.gov.uk/scotland/scotnut/healthycatering/healthycatering2/healthycatering06/healthycateringqa09#.U7rIRZRdVIE



By: Nikki Nies

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 is the leading regulator of supplements, defined as products that are used to supplement the diet.  Specifically, supplements can include vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids and other dietary  substances. images

Critics stated that supplements aren’t regulated at all.  Part of that is true.  Supplements aren’t regulated like other types of drugs, but like foods, even though they’re not foods!

DSHEA is jointly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It should be noted that DSHEA has grandfathered all dietary supplements that were marketed in the U.S. before October 15th, 1994, considering them safe.  Due to this distinction, DSHEA has two categories of supplements: old (“grandfathered) and new (after 10/15/1994).  

I’m currently taking a Complementary Alternative Therapy class, which focuses on supplement use in American society.  It’s inevitable that people are going to try supplements, but I highly encourage you to consult your primary physician, dietitian and/or do your own research on the impact of specific supplements in academic journals.

While DSHEA is the primary regulatory of supplements, it doesn’t fully protect consumers from harm.  A supplement is considered unsafe if it’s been seen to cause “injury to health.”  As always, your primary source of nutrition should be from whole foods while supplements are used for special situations (i.e. malnourished individuals).

If you have any additional questions in regards of DSHEA and the regulation of supplements, don’t hesitate to ask or contact us at wedishnutrition@gmail.com

Sources:  http://www.fda.gov/Food/Dietarysupplements/default.htm


Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA)



To Supplement with Supplements?


By: Nikki Nies

When the mention of supplements arises it’s evident there’s conclusive perspectives on the need and use of supplements in daily life.  The talk of supplements even causes controversies with health professionals, as some want to avoid supplements at all costs, while others see the benefits outweigh the costs.  Defined by Congress through the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, a dietary supplement is regarded as: Herbal-Natural-Supplements1

  • Not as tobacco
  • Intended to supplement the diet
  • Contains one or more dietary ingredients and/or its constituents (i.e. vitamins, minerals, botanicals, herbs, amino acids)
  • Intended to be taken orally in the composition of a pill, capsule, tablet or liquid
  • Is labeled on the front panel of the bottle as a dietary supplement

The Federal Drug & Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements, however, not in the same thorough process as every day foods.  Supplement ingredients that that have been sold in the U.S. prior to 1994 are not required to be reviewed by the FDA prior to being placed on the market since they’re presumed to be safe.  Those ingredients that have emerged after 1994 must be notify the FDA and request permission for usage through evidence that it provides beneficial effects.

The decision for a product to be labeled a dietary supplement versus a conventional food or drug is dependent on how the product is advertised and portrayed by the manufacturer and/or the accompany literature.  However, many dietary and food supplement food labels do not provide such information.  Also, unlike drug products, there are no provisions in the law to for FDA to “approve” dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they are put on the market.

Once a dietary supplement is marketed, FDA has to prove that the product is not safe in order to restrict its use or remove it from the market. In contrast, before being allowed to market a drug product, manufacturers must obtain FDA approval by providing convincing evidence that it is both safe and effective.

Since supplements aren’t required by law to be tested for the safety and effectiveness, the amount of sound evidence of the positive impact of supplements  is limited and varies from supplement to supplement.  Drugs are different from dietary supplements as they can include claims such as the ability to mitigate, diagnose, cure, treat or prevent a disease, while said claims can not be done on a dietary supplement label.

I know many swear by the benefits of supplements.  I’m glad to see they’ve benefited from using them, but I’m still wary of their positive impact and lack of FDA regulation.  While food should be the primary source of nutrition, I can see how and why people would use supplements to aid in deficiencies.  Definitely more research and better regulation needs to occur for a better stance on supplements.

Sources: http://scan-dpg.s3.amazonaws.com/media/files/b12cab44-7be4-466d-af57-c8079862f433/SCAN%20NCAA%20Dietary%20Supplements.pdf




Snacks On-The-Go


By: Nikki Nies

Whether you’re wrapping up end of the year classes or are as busy as can be with obligations pulling in you in multiple directions, it’s always applicable to think about the snacks to keep on hand.

To decrease chances of overeating or binge eating, keeping a variety of foods stocked in your pantry is key to great snacking.  On the weekends or when you do grocery shopping, buy in bulk or at least for the next week’s activities, expecting to take snacks with you whenever out.

Snacking suggestions for all tastes and preferences:

  • Fresh fruits–apples, bananas, kiwi, pears, berries, oranges
  • String Cheese
  • Fat Free/Low Fat Greek Yogurt
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Raw vegetables and hummus
  • Peanut Butter and jelly sandwich
  • Frozen Grapes
  • Mixed salad with fat free dressing
  • Oatmeal
  • Dry Cereal
  • Low calorie, sodium soup
  • Fruit and Vegetable Smoothies
  • Rice cakes
  • Air popcorn
  • Pea/Kale Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Edamame

If you’ve already got a snack routine in place, that’s great! Never hurts to add an additional snacking option into the mix, it’ll add a different array of vitamins and minerals.

One’s snacking preferences are dictated by daily activities, availability and level of satiety. For me, I always take snacks whenever out and I can’t tell you how many times it’s helped me out of a bind.  If you’re not regularly a snack person, keeping a couple coins in your purse may be the difference between hunger and contentment.



Go Seek Some Seeds


By: Nikki Nies

I’ve talked many times about the benefits of eating various foods. Over the last few years there’s been a craze over different seeds, and rightfully so.  There’s a lot of benefits from eating seeds and it never hurts to be reminded what seeds you might want to add into your daily food routine. Benefits-of-Papaya-Seeds

Seeds may not be your initial instinct to ensure you’re consuming recommended nutrients, but don’t overlook their many benefits.  What they may lack in size, they can often times compensate with their favorable attributes.

Seeds Benefits
Pumpkin Seeds
  • High in protein (9 grams), magnesium iron and zinc
  • Good source of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and folate
  • Helps with energy
  • Helps stabilize blood pressure, prevent kidney stones, build bone strength, fight parasites, reduce stress and depression
  • High in phytosterols—helps alleviate urinary problems
  • Has variety of uses—can be roasted, eaten raw or ground into breads and pancakes
  • Serving size: ½ cup
Sunflower Seeds
  • Helps ward off sun damage
  • ½ cup=daily requirement for alpha tocopherol, the most active form of vitamin E—primary fat soluable antioxidant
  • Good source of magnesiumàhelps reduce severity of asthma, reduces risk of heart attack and stroke, lowers blood pressure and prevents migraines
  • Source for antidepressant phenylalanine, an amino acid the body turns into norepinephrineàkeeps one alert and focused
  • Can be used to replace peanut butter on toast, in baking or in sandwiches
  • Serving size: ¼ cup
Chia seeds
  • Contain 11 g of fiber in one serving—about ½ of recommended daily fiber intake
  • Contain 18% of daily calcium requirement
  • Helps build bones
  • Have highest level of plant based omega 3 fatty acids
  • Does not alter flavor of foods as it doesn’t contain a flavor itself
  • Contains 3x more iron than spinach
  • Gluten-free
  • Serving size: 1 Tbsp
Sesame Seeds
  • Rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc
  • A necessity to make hummus and tahini
  • Can help control cholesterol
  • Good source of copper, manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc and fiber
  • Contains sesamin and sesamolin, which are part of lignan family
  • Has cholesterol lowering benefits and prevents high blood pressureàHeart healthy
  • Serving size: ¼ cup
Hemp Seeds
  • Provides one with all the essential amino acids
  • Boosts immune system
  • Highly sustainable
  • Easily digestible
  • Richest known polyunsaturated essential fatty acid
  • Good source of fiberàincreases metabolism
  • An omega 3, rich in alpha linoleic acid, which has been seen to reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Great to be used in smoothies, yogurt, cereal or oatmeal
  • Serving size: 1 Tbsp
Papaya Seeds
  • Rich in oleic and palmitic acids—may ward off cancer
  • In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s used to detoxify the liver
  • Seeds can be used like pepper in salad dressings
Pomegranate Seeds
  • Contains good amount of vitamin Càraises metabolism
  • Rich source of antioxidants—high in polyphenols
  • Decreases fat storage
  • Heart healthy
  • Loaded with fiber—decreases chance of overeating
  • Heart healthy
  • Improves one’s immune system
  • Swap out nuts and use pomegranate seeds in your salad, make pomegranate juice or sprinkle on some fresh fruit
  • Serving size: ½ cup
Wheat germ
  • Loaded with fiber
  • Contains inulin, which helps with digestion
Flax Seeds
  • Contains omega 3 fatty acids–antiinflammatory, fiber and lignans
  • Wards off cancer
  • Heart healthy
  • May fight depression
  • May reduce inflammation
  • Ground flax provides more nutrients than whole seed
  • Add to smoothies, baked goods and/or cereals
  • Serving size: 1-2 Tsp ground
Apricot seeds
  • Contains amygdalin (aka B17)—attacks cancer cells
  • Serving size: ¼ cup
Cumin seeds
  • Great for digestive disorders
  • Can be used as an antiseptic
  • Rich in iron
  • Helps boost the power of liver
  • Relieves common cold, including sore throat
  • Black cumin seeds may treat arthritis and asthma
  • Serving size: 1 Tbsp
Grape Seeds
  • Contains good amount of flavonoids, linoleic acid, polyphenols and vitamin E
  • May prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Can reduce inflammation and inhibit platelet aggregation
  • May reduce infectivity of Norovirus surrogates
  • Serving Size: 1-2 Tbsp

The versatility of the listed seeds above will give you an abundant amount of nutrients while keep your taste buds happy!  Not mention it can add some color to your meals. Look online for some fun ways to use these seeds.

Sources: http://shine.yahoo.com/dailyshot/seven-seeds-you-should-be-eating-153056339.html?vp=1




The Top 10 Healthiest Seeds On Earth

Fresh or Frozen?

ImageBy: Nikki Nies

Making it a week before having to head to the grocery store can be a feat for some families.  How often do you run to the store to grab more fruit to pack in your kid’s lunch boxes or because you need some peas to put into the pot pie you’re making tonight?

Well, there’s often a debate on whether frozen or fresh are the better route to go. Like many things in life, with a balance of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables it can be beneficial in the long run . Check out this table of the pros and cons of fresh and frozen veggies

Fresh foods Frozen Foods
  • Richer in vitamins and minerals than frozen
  • Best when used immediately cut or purchased
  • If eaten on a regular basis, may not provide enough of the required amount of vitamins and minerals
  • Not as nutritious as fresh foods
  • Less nutrient dense than fresh food
  • Does not have as “immediate” use as fresh foods
  • Those that are without preservatives are the best source of nutrients—easily absorbed by blood
  • If purchased locally, often can avoid the preservatives
  • Contain many preservatives to prevent from spoilage
  • Daily consumption isn’t good for the body
  • May be better than wilted fresh food
  • Contain many preservatives to prevent from spoilage
  • Daily consumption isn’t good for the body
  • May be better than wilted fresh food
Time to Prepare
  • Can be cooked quicker than frozen as they’re at a much lower temperature
  • Need to be thawed prior to use—need to plan ahead
  • Don’t require washing, peeling or chopping—prep free
  • Need to be thawed prior to use—need to plan ahead
  • Don’t require washing, peeling or chopping—prep free
  • Spoil easily
  • Unless preserved, seasonal foods can not be consumed at all times of year
  • Quickly affected by bacteria and fungus
  • Minute produce is picked, it begins to lose its nutrienst
  • Freezing helps preserves foods for consumption later—can eat seasonally
  • Helps prevent waste
  • Prevents food decay, bacterial growth and/or chemical reactions
  • Doesn’t destroy nutrients
  • No unwanted additives are needed
  • Freezing helps preserves foods for consumption later—can eat seasonally
  • Helps prevent waste
  • Prevents food decay, bacterial growth and/or chemical reactions
  • Doesn’t destroy nutrients
  • No unwanted additives are needed
Our Market
  • Often times “fresh” has been kept fresh with preservatives
  • Never know how “fresh” produce is
  • Can’t tell what and if produce have been injected
  • Often takes at least 1000 miles from farm to table and can lose “freshness”
  • May be harvested before it reaches nutritional peak, then artificially ripened during transport
  • More than likely don’t have preservatives
  • Most produce that is freezed after fully ripened, which allows vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to be “locked in”
  • Easier to find “naked” produce—with single word ingredient lists—nothing added
 •    More than likely don’t have preservatives
•    Most produce that is freezed after fully ripened, which allows vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to be “locked in”

  • Easier to find “naked” produce—with single word ingredient lists—nothing added

As stated, purchasing both fresh and frozen will you a variety of tastes, nutrients and hopefully give you a chance to experiemnt next time in the kitchen.

Source: http://health.yahoo.net/articles/nutrition/photos/5-good-reasons-buy-frozen-fruits-veggies#0