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