Why I Won’t Restrict Myself to Just the Calorie Amount

Original Image by Foodfacts pm via Flickr

Just like judging someone’s capabilities based on appearance is limiting, judging the quality and nutrient richness of food based off just calories should be removed from our society. While a movement that removes prejudices and first impressions is slowly, but surely occurring, I’m sure I’ll have better luck explaining why I won’t restrict myself to reading just calories on foods.

Yes, I admit it, I can’t help, but look at the nutrition fact label! I pride myself in inputting my food intake into MyFitnessPal app for the last 55 consecutive days and have learned a lot! When eating fresh, whole foods doesn’t necessarily always come with a nutrition fact label, by inputting my recipes into MyFitnessPal and portioning out my meals, I’m more aware of how much calories, fat, sugar, sodium, carbohydrates and fiber I’m allotted per day.

If we’re being frank here, one of my biggest pet peeves is when restaurants advertise offering 500 calorie or less meal options, but then forget to acknowledge their dishes have more than the recommended daily sodium intake or have an astronomical amount of sugar! Yes, considering the amount of calories in dishes  is important, especially when dining out should be part of the deciding factor, it shouldn’t be the deal breaker.

Original Image by Anders Sandberg via Flickr

All of us have certain nutrients we’re more mindful of, for me, since tracking my food with MyFitnessPal, I’ve learned I need to be aware of my fat intake, specifically because I love nuts! For example, 1 ounce of nuts has 160 calories and 7 g protein, great right? Based on my height and weight, I should be consuming 43 g of fat per day. With just one ounce of peanuts, I’ve already used up 14 g! I’ve learned the hard way that while nuts are yummy, moderation is extremely necessary for me as I could mindlessly eat any and all kinds. If I want to add some nuts to my homemade parfait, that’s fine, but I can’t be eating more than an ounce a day, as I like variety like any one else.

I don’t want to get too hung up on numbers, but to remind you to look at the full picture. 7 g of protein for one ounce of anything is phenomenal, but what are you trading for that? Like a jigsaw puzzle, trying to find creative ways to enjoy food while staying within recommended limits can be a fun challenge.

Thankfully, the FDA has revamped the nutrition fact label to make it easier to discern the quality of food, specifically:

  • Better highlighting servings and calories in products with an updated design
  • Declaration of percent daily value and grams of ‘added sugars.’ It’s recommended one does not consume more than 10% of daily calories from added sugars, with the new labeling taking the guess work out of how much a product is contributing to daily amount
  • ‘Per serving’ and ‘per package’ provided for foods that can include multiple servings   (e.g. pint of ice cream) in ‘dual column’ format, with consumers better able to understand how many nutrients will be consumed if entire package/unit is eaten at one time
  • Improved abbreviated footnote of %Daily Value
  • For products between 1-2 servings (e.g. 20 oz soda), calories and nutrients will be labeled as one serving as most people consume at one time
  • Updated values (e.g. fiber, vitamin D and sodium) to be consistent with Institute of Medicine recommendations and 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines
  • Inclusion of iron, calcium, vitamin D and potassium in g and %DV form, with vitamin A and C no longer required to be included as deficiencies are rare.
  • ‘Calories from Fat’ will be removed, yet type of fat (e.g. saturated fat, trans fat) will be provided and is more important for consumers to understand the breakdown

When should you be expecting these changes you ask? Most manufacturers will be required to comply by July 26, 2018. What are you most looking forward to with the new nutrition fact labels? When choosing foods what is the deciding factor if it’s a no or go? Sodium? Sugar? Fat?

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm


How to Celebrate the Hot Commodity: Cheese

Original Image by Jules Morgan via Flickr
Original Image by Jules Morgan via Flickr


By: Nikki Nies

While the oldest record of cheese making was ~7500 years ago in an ancient cattle rearing town in present day Poland, with the help of the master cheese makers, the Romans, the spread of cheesemaking quickly permeated Europe under the watchful eye of monks.  Legend has it that like many great creations, the creation of cheese was sheer coincidence, when an Arabian merchant had stored his milk in a sheep’s stomach and then days later found the milk had separates into curds and whey.

Nowadays, the U.S. is the largest producer of cheese, producing >30% of world’s cheese. Yet, with such wealth of cheese, 4% of the world’s cheese is stolen annually, making cheese the #1 stolen food on Earth.

Original Image by wisconsincheese via Tumblr
Original Image by wisconsincheese via Tumblr

With over 1400 varieties of cheese around the world, below are some suggestions how to best celebrate 1/20 Cheese Lover’s Day:

  • Join Green Bay Packers football team in Wisconsin, USA, who wear yellow, wedge shaped hats
  • Search for tastings, cheese rolling, special restaurant menus, costume parties and/or cheese fondue parties near you. Personally, I’ll be checking out Scardello, a cheese shop that also doubles as a wine shop. Cheese mongers help pick out cheeses ranging from Roquefort to Stilton.
  • Eat a classic grilled cheese!
  • Learn about the different textures of cheeses, with the main varieties including:  fresh cheese (ricotta); soft cheese (feta); semi-soft cheese (Fontina); semi-hard cheese (Gouda); hard cheese (Cheddar); double or triple crème cheese (Brillat-Savarin); blue cheese (Gorgonzola); washed rind cheese (Limburger); and bloomy rind cheese (Brie). This statement comes from the Dallas Observer.
  • Visit the Vermont Cheese Council’s Vermont Cheese Trail, which has 40+ farms and creameries that specialize in producing 150+ cheeses from cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk. Learn more at Travel Channel 
  • Use 1 or all 5  favorite cheeses in America: cheddar, burrata, gouda, feta and mozzarella in tonight’s dinner (e.g. mac & cheese, fondue, pizza, lasagna, omelettes, quiches, casseroles or simply as is!)
  • Celebrate locally produced cheese by checking out the American Cheese Society’s list of local cheese companies.

Are you as surprised as I am that there are so many varieties of cheese from such simple ingredients? Yes, all cheese derives from curds, which are the bits of protein that is produced from soured milk, yet, variations in cultures and the addition of flavors (eg. added spices and mold) aids in the transformation of cheese from a simple combination of dairy and acid into many celebrating cheese on Cheese Lover’s Day!

Many wine connoisseurs have their favorite wine and cheese pairings. Do you have a go to pairing? What’s your favorite way to eat and/or use cheese? If you’re curious the origin of cheese from around the world? Check out this interactive map that shows exactly where cheese comes from!

Sources: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/ist/?next=/arts-culture/celebrate-national-cheese-lovers-day-map-cheese-found-around-world-180953915/







Natural Licorice

Original Image by J Brew via Flickr
Original Image by J Brew via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a plant, most commonly associated with flavorings in food, beverages and tobacco.  However, the root is used to make Eastern and Western medicine.

Licorice can be used for:

  • Digestive issues: heartburn, indigestion, GERD, stomach ulcers, colic, ongoing inflammation of the stomach’s lining-chronic gastritis
  • Sore throat
  • Canker sores
  • Eczema
  • Bronchitis
  • Cough
  • Infections from bacteria or viruses
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Liver disorders
  • Malaria
  • Tuberculosis
  • Food poisoning
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

It can be used in many forms:

  • Dried root: 1 – 5 g as an infusion or decoction (boiled), 3 times daily
  • Licorice 1:5 tincture: 2 – 5 mL, 3 times daily
  • Standardized extract: 250 – 500 mg, 3 times daily, standardized to contain 20% glycyrrhizinic acid
  • DGL extract: 0.4 – 1.6 g, 3 times daily, for peptic ulcer
  • DGL extract 4:1: chew 300 – 400 mg, 3 times daily 20 minutes before meals, for peptic ulcer

If one has the following disease states or situations, use of licorice should not be used: liver disease, pregnancy and breastfeeding, high blood pressure, hypertonia, low potassium levels in the blood (hypokalemia), kidney disease, surgery, sexual problems in men and/or hormone sensitive conditions (i.e. breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and/or endometriosis).

Natural licorice can increase cortisol concentration, leading to increased sodium retention, potassium excretion, high blood pressure (aka hypertension) and/or an increase in sodium reabsorption.  These changes can antagonize the action of diuretics and antihypertensive medications.  Some herbs have a stimulant laxative effect (i.e. aloe vera, castor oil, senna and rhubarb) should be avoided to lower potassium in body.

Furthermore, use of certain medications can negatively interact with licorice.

Medication Use Potential interaction with licorice
Warfarin (Coumadin) Slow blood clotting Licorice may increase breakdown; decrease effectiveness of warfarin, which may increase the risk of clotting
Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) Treat cancer Licorice may decrease how well cisplatin works
Digoxin (Lanoxin) Treats atrial fibrillation and heart failure Large amounts of licorice can decrease potassium levels, which can inhibit digoxin’s effectiveness
Ethacyrnic Acid (Edecrin); Furosemide (Lasix) Treats edema; diuretic When etharynic and licorice are taken together, may cause potassium to become too low
Furosemide (Lasix) Treats edema When furosemide and licorice are taken together, may cause potassium to become too low
Medications associated with the liver (i.e. cytochrome P450 2C9, cytochrome P450 3A4, CYP3A4, phenobarbital, dexamethasone) Liver issues Licorice may change how the liver breaks down medications, may increase/decrease effects of medications
Antihypertensive drugs (i.e. captopril, enalapril, losartan, valsartan, amlodipine, hydrochlorothiazide, Lasix) Treats high blood pressure Might decrease effectiveness of medications for high blood pressure
Corticosteroids (i.e. hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, methylprednisone, prednisone) For inflammation Some medications for inflammation can decrease potassium in the body; when corticosteroids are taken in conjunction with licorice, can decrease potassium in the body too much
Diuretics (i.e. Lasix, Diuril, Thalitone, HCTZ, Microzide) Water pills In conjunction with licorice, diuretics can decrease potassium in body too much

Lastly, when taking licorice, drinking grapefruit juice may increase licorice’s ability to cause potassium depletion. Licorice can increase sodium/water retention and increase blood pressure. Licorice can be a great solution to certain disease states, however, take caution with use of licorice if you’re on medications. Best to check with your primary care physician if it is safe to use licorice.

Sources: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/881.html






Review: Cabot Cheese

By: Nikki NiesCabot_Logo 2
Disclosure Agreement: Cabot provided me with coupons for free cheese to try. We Dish Nutrition tested each product thoroughly and gives high marks to only the very best. Opinions expressed at We Dish Nutrition are our own.
Milk, eggs and bread seem to be the storm staples whenever we’re told there is an impending hurricane, earthquake or snowstorm. While those three items can last a family of four enough time for a natural disaster to pass through, I’m an advocate for adding cheese to that list! While eggs are a great source of protein, adding cheese to any meal or snack elevates the flavors in a whole other level! Don’t you agree?
With more than 1,200 dairy farm families planted throughout New England and over 1,000 employees, Cabot Cheese would be ready and eager to handle such disasters.  Cabot has been partnered with Vermont’s Dakin Farm for ease and convenience, with consumers able to order online.  The decisions don’t end there! Cabot cheese products come in bar, slices and shredded form, ready to meet your cooking and snacking needs! Yet, Cabot cows are kept busy, also used to make cottage cheese, butter, yogurt, whipped cream, sour cream, cream cheese and dips!
I expect no less from Cabot Farm, providing a variety of flavors and mixtures to its consumers. While I can’t get enough of Cabot’s Muenster cheese, I have put that aside for today to make some lasagna! I decided to shred some of my own Sharp Light Cheddar for today’s meal. I’m impressed with Cabot’s line of “Light cheeses” and with the help of Regan Jones, RD and Sara Wing, RD, Cabot’s present and future products are in good hands!
1517709_658815820834694_205711366_nAt only 70 calories per one ounce serving, the Sharp Light Cheddar cheese has only 170 mg of sodium and 4.5 g of fat. Yet, the light cheddar’s flavor, thankfully, hasn’t been compromised.  It still contains the expectant savory feel of the regular line of cheese, but without the unnecessary fat!  As someone who’s always experimenting with new recipes and ways of making foods healthier, I used sliced zucchini instead of traditional lasagna noodles to add in more vegetables. The mixture of Cabot cheese and tomato juices added the necessary punch!
While making lasagna can be time consuming, Cabot has thoroughly provided its consumers with more recipes than one could hope! If you’re in a bind, check out their solutions for 2-Day Suppers, which promotes the use of leftovers as a means get easy family friendly meals on  the table! I’ve been having a ball roasting cauliflower for meals, so I can’t wait to try out more of Cabot’s Roasting Veggie recipes!
To be frank, I don’t want to overwhelm you with all the resources Cabot has provided its consumers, but when you have the chance, check it all out! Cabot hasn’t missed a beat! Make sure to use their handy guide on how to use Greek yogurt in replacement of sour cream and/or cream cheese, 5 Day Planners, how to add Health Kitchen Helper(s), in the form of your kids and the Brown Bag Builder, providing a step by step guide on how to pack a healthy, delicious lunch! For the lactose intolerance, don’t worry! Cabot’s naturally aged cheese has 0 grams of lactose and shouldn’t cause any lactose intolerance symptoms and/or discomfort.
In addition, as a cooperative, Cabot is owned and operated by its members-the family dairy farmers who are the source of Cabot’s dairy products. Cabot reinforces their business philosophy with a Co-op to Co-op Program. Not only does Cabot providing samples of their “World’s Best” cheddar, gift boxes and coupons, but they’re always eager to share the love of cheese with you! Learn how to participate in their cooperative extension today!
What’s your favorite way to enjoy Cabot cheese? Have you had your cheese allotment for the day yet?

Photo Credit:Cabot Cheese

Milk Substitutes

By: Nikki Nies

For hundreds of years, milk derived from animals only, such as cow’s, sheep and goat. Yet, with lactose intolerance, maldigestion and the preference for non-dairy sources of milk emerging in recent years, the market and need for milk substitutes as increased multifold. Like there are differences in whole milk, 2% and skim milk, the nutrition content, flavor, color and texture of non-dairy milks–soy, rice, oat, 7 grain, hazelnut, hemp, almond and coconut vary.


Milk Type Description Texture/consistency Nutrients–1 cup Use
Whole great source of vitamin D, B12 and calcium 147 calories; 8.1 g fat; 98 mg sodium; 12.9 g carbs; 12.9 g sugar; 7.9 g protein; 276 mg calcium; 349.4 mg potassium; 98 IU vitamin D
1% great source of vitamin D, B12 and calcium 91 calories; 0.7 g fat; 130 mg sodium; 12.3 g carbs; 12.3 g sugar; 8.7 g protein; 316.2 mg calcium; 419.1 mg potassium; 98 IU vitamin D
Soy–plain obtained from soy bean; closest option to cow’s milk; contains vitamin B12 and D; processed; can be high in sugar; comes in sweetened, unsweetened and flavored varieties such as chocolate and vanilla creamy 100 calories; 4 g fat; 120 mg sodium; 8 g carbs; 6 g sugar; 7 g protein; 300 mg calcium; 300 mg potassium; 119 IU vitamin D vegan–baking, coffee, as is, cereal
Almond made from ground almonds, water and sweetener; has ⅓ of calories as 2% milk; magnesium and protein content is good for bone strength; contains less sugar than soy or rice milk; tends to be high in sodium; contains vitamins A, D & E; low in protein; higher in fat than skim milk thick 60 calories; 2.5 g fat; 150 mg sodium; 8 g cars; 7 g sugar; 1 g protein; 200 mg calcium; 180 mg potassium; 100 IU vitamin D cereal, coffee, sipping, baking
Coconut richest, creamiest of all milk alternatives; when purchased in a carton, tends to have a lower fat content and is not as creamy as in can form; high in saturated fat and calories thick, creamy 80 calories; 5 g fat; 30 mg sodium; 7 g carbs; 6 g sugar; 1 g protein; 450 g calcium; 40 g potassium; 100 IU vitamin D ice cream, Thai curry, moistens cakes; coffee; tea
Hemp best for those with nut or soy allergies; rich in omega 3 fatty acids; low in saturated fat; mixture of hemp seeds  and water; contains essential amino acids; fortified with vitamin D and A; low in protein thick, creamy; “earthy” 100 g calories; 6 g fat; 110 mg sodium; 9 g carbs; 6 g sugar; 2 g protein; 300 mg calcium; N/A potassium; 100 IU vitamin D smoothies; porridge; baking; cereals
7 Grain–original Oats, Brown Rice, Wheat,  Barley, Triticale, Spelt and Millet thin 140 calories; 2 g fat; 27 g carbs; 3 g protein; 115 mg sodium; 125 mg potassium biscuits, smoothies and cereals
Hazelnut considered “more agreeable” in flavor with coffee; supposedly “froths” better thin 110 calories; 3.5 g fat; 120 mg sodium; 16 g carbs; 0 g sugar; 2 g protein coffee, baking, vegan cooking
Oat Void of cholesterol and saturated fats; high in fiber, iron; contains phytochemicals, which can protect against heart disease and some cancers; must be avoided by those that need to adhere to gluten free diet thick and grainy 130 calories; 2.5 g fat; 24 g carbs; 110 mg sodium; 19 g sugar; 120 mg potassium on its own as a beverage, cereal, gravy, cupcakes, hearty cookies
Rice most hypoallergenic option of all milk alternatives; good for blood pressure due to niacin and vitamin B6 content; low in protein; not recommended for diabetics; highly starchy; often enriched with calcium, vitamin A & D watery, thin 70 calories; 2.5 g fat; 80 mg sodium; 23 g carbs; 10 g sugar; 1 g protein; 300 mg calcium; 0 mg potassium; 100 IU vitamin D oatmeal, smoothies and cereals–not recommended to be used in baking or cooking due to watery texture

With cow’s milk allergy reported to be the largest allergy in infants and children, it’s safe to say that these milk substitutes are a valuable resource. What’s your experience with these different milks? Have a particular preference you want to share? If you’re up to the challenge, why not make your own milk?
Sources: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/273982.php







Ramen Revamp

Original Image by jeffreyw via Flickr
Original Image by jeffreyw via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

My church recently held a Thanksgiving Harvest dinner, with potluck entrees and desserts galore! It was great to see what others’ variations of sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and rolls.  Walking away, I most impressed by how one person had brought an elevated ramen dish! I never did get to find out who brought the dish, but one week later, I can’t stop thinking about the crunchy, vinegary taste!

While this college student food staple has a bad wrap for its  Using ramen noodles in a salad is a great loophole in using the noodles in a healthier way!  After looking through recipes, I realized I had a great dish of crunch coleslaw!  Ramen noodles can be used as regular pasta noodles, soups, and as a great addition in salads

Better ways to use Ramen noodles:  grilled cheese; chili noodles; shepherd’s pie; soups; omelettes; casseroles; chimichanges; noodle pancakes; lettuce wraps, etc.

Original Image by Joy via Flickr
Original Image by Joy via Flickr

Ramen Noodle Crunchy Coleslaw: Serves 6


  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup of sliced and toasted almonds
  • 4 green onion – white part only
  • 1 16 oz. bag of coleslaw mix or 6-8 cups of shredded cabbage
  • 1 package of chicken flavored Ramen noodles

Dressing: In a jar, mix together the sugar, pepper, vinegar, oil and chicken flavor packet from the Ramen noodles. Set aside.

1. In a dry fry pan toast almonds and then the sesame seeds. Clean and slice the white part of green onions into small rounds, discarding tops.

2. Combine in a large bowl the coleslaw mix (OR 6-8 cups of shredded cabbage), sliced green onion, toasted almonds and sesame seeds.

3. Crumble the dry (uncooked) Ramen noodles on top of the cabbage. Gently mix everything together. Just before serving toss the salad with the dressing.

The best part of revamping the use of ramen noodles is there isn’t as much worry about fat, sodium and MSG! What are some inventive ways you have used a package of ramen?

Recipe adapted from Start Cooking and Vegan Chow Down 





“Lighter Take” is Not So Light!

Original Image by m01229 via Flickr
Original Image by m01229 via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Unlike a typical restaurant review, which includes the evaluation of wait staff service, ambiance, and/or décor, we’re reviewing restaurants a little bit differently! Sensational Sustenance is redirecting one’s attention to the nutrient content on specific menu items! We aim to not only evaluate the flavors in the entrees given, but how nutrient rich they are in relation to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans using our own proprietary score sheet:  Healthy Food Critic’s Ultimate Review Form for Restaurant Entrees.  I recently visited Maggiano’s,  ready for my senses to be wowed.

For those not familiar with Maggiano’s, it is an Italian chain restaurant that offers simple, authentic Italian dishes. While Maggiano’s originated in Oak Brook, Illinois, with consumer favor, it has expanded nationally, with locations everywhere from California to Georgia to Massachusetts.  Recently, Maggiano’s has advertised their “Lighter Take” menu options, promising that while portion sizes haven’t been compromised, the chefs have utilized new cooking techniques to satisfy the “toughest critics.” With only a handful of these “Lighter Take” options, I opted for the Lighter Take Fettuccine Alfredo (850 calories), which was described as encompassing “hand cut fettuccine grilled chicken, asparagus and asiago cream sauce.”

When the dish came, it was hard to smell anything specific, with the food lukewarm to taste.  That is not to say that there was a particularly unpleasant odor, but if I were to have to describe the dish by how it smelled it would have been challenging. Being able to appreciate  the aroma of asiago cheese and/or asparagus would have started the dish on a great note and would have elevated my opinion of the dish.  Yet, I was glad the asparagus and parsley were present to give the dish a more visually appealing look with  added textures and colors.

The entrée appeared quickly put together, with the food arranged disproportionately to the right hand side of the bowl.  In addition, the serving bowl itself was larger than needed.  While, the size of the bowl did not hinder my ability to eat the pasta, I would have preferred a smaller size plate to eat from as research shows that eating from a smaller plate increases perceived satiety.

Maggiano’s offers the “choose one Classic Pasta for today and another for tomorrow” option, allowing customers to order one dish to eat at the restaurant and another, potentially different dish, to take home!  Therefore, receiving two dishes for the price of one, at $12.50 of the entree was adequate–I chose to take the “Lighter Take” Baked Ziti home as my complimentary dish. In comparison to the evaluations’ healthy option measures, the fettuccini alfredo did not meet any of the standards below.  Let’s break it down:

Healthy Option Parameters1 Fettuccini Alfredo Nutrient Content
600 calories or less 850 calories
At least 50% is fruit or non-starchy vegetables More than 80% was noodles; sparse amount of asparagus
Grain based item are at least 50% whole grains No indication of whole grain noodles used
Total fat is less than 30% of total calories Total fat was 36% of calories–850 calories had 34 g of fat
Sodium is less than 750 mg 1530 mg
Low in added sugars N/A
Less than 10% of calories from saturated fat 18 g of fat=18(9)=162 g of fat162/850=19% of calories from saturated fat

1Healthy Option Parameters are in conjunction with the Dietary Guidelines’ measures for a balanced, healthy meal.

As you can see, none of the healthy option parameters  were met, which does not provide any convincing evidence that this dish is healthy.  I consider myself an alfredo “aficionado” and I found the sauce to be on the blander side. The bland sauce did not add too much to the entree’s flavor.  Thankfully, the parts of the entree that I found worked best” were the amount of salty tasted and portion size! As an asparagus fanatic, I would have loved to have seen more on the plate, but I was still content with the amount provided.

Overall, I rated my entree as ‘liking slightly” as  I was underwhelmed with this generic entree that didn’t pique my taste buds’  nor did I walk away convinced this entree belonged under the “Lighter Take” section, with many of the healthy option parameters not met.  After the underwhelming combination of flavors and overall experience, Maggiano’s lighter take on the alfredo wasn’t “light” enough in nutrients for me to be included on the “Lighter Take” menu.  With the “regular” fettuccini alfredo listed as 1570 calories on Maggiano’s website, I don’t want to think about what the fat, sodium and/or nutrient content of that dish is!

Low Cholesterol Diet

By: Nikki Niesshutterstock_57921664

While it’s been pounded into our heads the notion of “good” vs. “bad” fats, we shouldn’t overlook such labels as they’re for valid measure.  Yes, fats can be used as a type of energy source for the body, but it’s the primary source of the energy and like any subject matter, too much is harmful.  In regards to our bodies, too much fat has a direct correlation with one’s risk for heart disease and/or stroke. Old news, right?

Fat intake’s contribution to cardiovascular disease(s) may be old news, but why does our society struggle with that news? peppers-betaPerhaps, you need a fresh thought on the concepts.  Not keen on the guidelines for a low cholesterol diet? Limit cholesterol, duh! Yet, there’s more to it than that.  Actually, there’s two tiers of the cholesterol diet, which was created by the National Cholesterol education Program (NCeP).  The two low cholesterol guidelines continue to emphasize: low sodium, decreased total fat and saturated fat, decreased dietary cholesterol, increased fiber and complex carbs and decreased energy intake to obtain and/or maintain a healthy body weight.

I’m not a fan of the word “diet”, but that’s how dietary guidelines are phrased.  Therefore, Step 1 is composed of dietary changes to reduce cholesterol levels for those over the age of 2.  Step 2 of the cholesterol diet consists of more stringent limitations and is more appropriate for those with a current and/or past heart attack, stroke, high cholesterol or evidence of atherosclerosis–clog in arteries.

Photo Credit:Disease Proof and Women’s Fitness UK

Sources: http://www.gatewayhealth.com/images/uploads/general/36_-_Low_Cholesterol_Diet.pdf

Acidity and Alkalinity of Foods

acidic-alkaline-phchartBy: Nikki Nies

T/F: The foods you eat can impact the output of your urine? Of course, the answer is true! Acid’s formed by anions, phosphorus and sulfur while alkalinity is due to an intake of cations/electrolytes–potassium, sodium, calcium and/or magnesium.  This is why fruits and vegetables are responsible for the alkaline “ash” in urine, except prunes, plums and cranberries, which are considered “acid-ash” foods.  Also, high protein (i.e. meat, fish, poultry, eggs and cheese)and grains (i.e. breads, cereals).

Consumption of milk impacts the acid and alkalinity in one’s body.  Eating more alkaline rich foods helps to oxygenates one’s body and shifts body’s pH.   Alkaline foods provide proper functioning to prevent and combat cancer.

What about the foods that are exactly in the middle of the spectrum of the alkaline and acid scale you ask? Butter, margarine, oils, plain candies, sugar, syrups, honey, arrowroot, corn, tapioca, coffee and tea are called “neutral foods.”

Knowing which foods are classified as acid and alkaline is important to treat kidney stones since formation of these stones are due to an acidic urine pH.  It’s believed eating acid-ash foods in moderation can help treat the stones, while also excluding purine rich foods.

Photo Credit:Asana Foods 

Sources: http://www.nutrition411.com/patient-education-materials/ck98-miscellaneous-topics/item/1460-acidity-and-alkalinity-of-foods/


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

Sources: http://www.restaurant.org/Industry-Impact/Food-Healthy-Living/Kids-LiveWell-Program