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


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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.

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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

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm502182.htm

How Oranges Trump OJ


Original Image by Rego Korosi via Flickr
Original Image by Rego Korosi via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Growing up, I was lucky to have my mother make me breakfast every morning. Before I became accustomed to coffee, my mother would heavily encourage me to drink the orange juice she poured, as it would ‘wake me up’ and it’d be a way to get more fruit into my day. I can see why my mother pushed me to drink the orange juice instead of handing me an orange, as there may be misperceptions about ‘orange’ juice being just as healthy.  The USDA allows fruit juice companies to make statements such as ‘one serving is equal to one serving of fruit’, yet after further research, I can attest they’re not equal.  Now, the general advice is to opt for fruit, instead of the juice form, which is stripped of fiber, but added sugar has been included.

While fresh fruit and freshly squeezed orange juice contain approximately the same levels of carotenoids and vitamin C, the levels of flavonoids are lower and pasteurized orange juice contains more antioxidants.  In particular, the flavonoid, hesperidin, is concentrated in pulp and shows promise as an anti-inflammatory by lowering blood pressure and promoting healthy cholesterol.  In addition, studies have found  nutrients in some fruits and vegetables are more bioavailable when chopped, mashed, juiced or prepared with oils. However, I’m not promoting the switch to juices just yet.  Unless you’re making your own juice, the typical jug or bottle of juice purchased at the grocery store spikes blood sugar levels more and at a quicker rate than eating whole fruit.  A study from Harvard found a link between regular juice consumption and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, meaning the downsides of juice unfortunately far outweigh any potential boosts from carotenoids.

Furthermore, store bought fruit juice tends to have a bit less concentrated fructose than soda, with fructose surmised to be a riskier form of sugar than glucose due to the increased risk of chronic diseases (e.g. liver and cardiovascular disease). Deemed as ‘liquid sugar’, orange juice will leave the stomach much more quickly than whole oranges, due to the stripped fiber.

Nutrient Breakdown: An 8 oz glass of orange juice has approximately the same amount of energy as 2 oranges.

Amount per 100 g Orange Orange Juice
Calories 47 45
Total Fat  (g) 0.1 0.2
Saturated Fat (g) 0 0
Cholesterol (mg) 0 0
Sodium (mg) 0 1
Potassium (mg) 181 200
Carbohydrate (g) 12 10
Dietary Fiber (g) 2.4 0.2
Sugar (g) 9 8
Protein (g) 0.9 0.7
Vitamin A (IU) 225 220
Vitamin C (mg) 53.2 50
Calcium (mg) 40 11
Iron (mg) 0.1 0.2
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.1 0
Vitamin B12 (µg) 0 0
Magnesium (mg) 10 11

As you can see, there’s more fiber and calcium in an orange fruit and the orange fruit contains natural sugar versus the added sugar that is put into orange juice.

I’m not sure why, but the calories one drinks doesn’t register as part of daily caloric intake. We have the tendency to gulp juice down in seconds, yet the healthier contrast of eating an orange requires more time, ‘feeding’ multiple senses while peeling.  Now that I’ve seen it for myself, next time I head to the grocery store, I’m stocking up on oranges!

Note: If you do opt for OJ, choose with pulp, then at least you’ll be getting some more fiber in!

Sources: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/01/22/378920980/for-more-nutrients-drink-oj-or-eat-an-orange-it-s-not-so-clear-cut

http://creationbasedhealth.com/whole-oranges-vs-orange-juice/

http://greatist.com/health/fruit-juice-increases-risk-diabetes-090313

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150121103301.htm

http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/11_5/current-articles/Oranges-vs-Orange-Juice-Which-Is-Better_1709-1.html

 

When in España…


IMG_9999By: Nikki Nies

I had the pleasure of spending 10 days in Madrid, Seville, Granada and Barcelona, Spain. This retreat from daily responsibilities was a superb way to learn and better understand Spanish culture, food and tradition.

While there, I was taking note of the similarities and differences between American and Spanish culture. On the plane there, I was quickly reminded that the Spanish work to live, unlike the American reputation and often times reality, that we live to work. This statement rang true from city to city. Not only was a greeted with kindness everywhere I went, but the infectious enthusiasm and zest was much needed.

Perceptions can be far from reality, so I went to Spain with as open as a mind as could. Since back from my trip, I realize that I enjoy the Spanish “clock.” Most services aren’t offered before 8AM, with lunch far from starting prior to 2PM and dinner well into 9-11PM.

Cultural and food traditions I took away:

  • As a good reference of time, the metro’s first departure is 730AM. I’m sure you’re familiar with how American public transportation, with life and business available well before 6AM
  • Breakfast consists of a small coffee and a (chocolate) croissant, it’s rare for a cafe to be open before 8-9AM.
  • Bocadillos, or sandwiches, are a quick, easy way to eat on the run! With cheese and Iberian ham, you can’t go wrong. These can be eaten for a heavier, yet acceptable breakfast item or as a snack
  • IMG_9635Spaniards are not afraid, if anything, encourage sugar consumption. While in Madrid, I stopped in a cafe and noticed that instead of the traditional salt and pepper I’m used to seeing on tables, the table had granulated sugar, brown sugar, a sugar substitute and salt. More times than not, there was no pepper to be seen. Additionally, when ordering coffee, even if not requested, sugar was always given
  • The drink of choice is beer. There’s no such thing as ordering tap water, with bottled, mineral water offered if requested. Diet soda is not an option either, with Coca Cola and Fanta the norm
  • With the beaches and Mediterranean Sea near, fresh seafood is a common find on menus. In particular, fried calamari or garlic in prawns were prevalent and served in large portions. It’s safe to say that seafood is in abundance!
  • Pastries are a common means for dessert. A Spanish dessert staple consists of churros that are dipped in chocolate. IMG_0027
  • Fresh produce can be found in day markets and the street vendors are eager to share their latest, freshest produce. You don’t have to travel far to
  • While vegetables are scant, the Spanish have impressively been able to keep their figure. Tapas are a great portion control way to maintain one’s recommended intake.
  • I was intrigued by the Spaniards’ lack of need to “finish” their plates. Unlike Americans, I noticed many times people would leave a bit of their beer, coffee or food on their plate, not feeling the need to “clean” it.

I’m reenergized from this relaxing trip! What aspects of Spanish cuisine do you most revel in? If you’ve traveled to Spain, what different experiences have you had?

Review: Larabar


Review of Larabar was due to compensation from the company’s whose products were reviewed. 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. 

By: Nikki Nies

I frequent my grocery store well enough if that if I were to be captured, blindfolded and told I had to go grocery shopping that way, I wouldn’t skip a beat. With that said, I’ve always passed aisle 13, where the energy bars are. Over the years, I’ve, unfortunately, never found energy bars that filled me. While many bars tout themselves as a great snack with loads of protein, it can be hard to decipher which brands are worth the calories and money when they all promote the same qualities and nutrients. We all know they can’t ALL be that good!

thumbYet, during FNCE 2014, I tried Larabar’s new line of uber products, which were more filling than I expected! I especially enjoyed the cherry cobbler, which is a great mixture of dried cherries, almonds, pecans, cashews, raisins, dates and sea salt.  Those are some of my favorite foods and to have them in one bar was like little bits of heaven!

Now that I am transitioning from college life to career, I know my routine will have to change as well.  For me, that means ensuring I will have portable, nutrient packed foods on hand! Thank goodness I experienced the wonders of Larabar when I did! Not only do the flavors hold up to their name, but nutrient wise, they do too! My rule of thumb when skimming through snacks, especially energy bars is that it should be at least 3 grams of protein and fiber, mostly heart healthy fats (omega 3s), mostly whole grains and no more than 15 grams of sugar. A tall order, yes, but feasible!

Let’s do a breakdown of nutrient content of some of Larabar’s popular bars: W

    Nutrient Parameter      
  Nutrition Parameter Cashew Cookie Peanut Butter Cookie Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Calories ≤ 200 calories 230 calories 220 calories 200 calories 210 calories
Carbohydrates ≤ 30 g 23 g 23 22 g 28 g
Fiber ≥3 g 3 g 4 g 4 g 3 g
Sugar* ≤15 g 18 g 18 g 16 g 16 g
Total Fat ≤10 g 13 g 12 g 10 g 11 g
Protein ≥3 g 6 g 7  g 5 g 4 g
Sodium ≤ 100 mg 5 mg 70 mg 0 mg 55 mg

*With six ingredients or less found each bar, the fruit in the bars contribute to the higher sugar and carbohydrate content. These bars are free of added sugars,sweeteners, preservatives, fillers, and artificial colorings.

What are your initial thoughts on the chart above? Be mindful that not all of Larabar’s products are the most sugar friendly.Yet, it’s not a coincidence that nutrient wise, the peanut butter cookie is the best and is considered a Larabar favorite! Make sure to read nutrition fact labels, compare flavors and remember that moderation is key. Make sure you’re stocked with other fresh snacks to maintain balanced intake.

Another note, I am not training for an Iron Man or marathon, so I won’t emphatically look for bars that contain ≥40 g of protein. Yes, there are products out there! As a gal that’s on the go, Larabar’s work for me!

Furthermore, Larabar is a great value-nutrient and price wise and have made efforts to provide quality in all they do.  Everything from production to recycling. Like FSTG, Larabar is committed to the non-GMO project, ensuring its consumers that fifteen of its products are certified non-GMO! Since their partnership with TerraCycle, Larabar wrappers are part of the Energy Bar Wrapper Brigade, a free recycling program and fundraiser opportunity for participants.  LARABAR_Energy_Bar_Wrapper_Brigade_Arrow

Grab your wrappers out of the garbage and sign up to be part of the Brigade, one wrapper at a time! Unfortunately, not all products are available in Canada, so Canadians, don’t get your hopes up when browsing through Larabar’s products!

Check out Larabar’s Facebook | Twitter | Instagram Pinterest | eNewsletter | Blog | Site 

Disclosure Agreement: Review of Larabar was due to compensation from the company’s whose products were reviewed. 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. 

Photo Credit: Larabar

Source: http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/smart-choices/best-energy-bars

http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-runners/how-choose-best-energy-bars

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=802

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

http://www.eatingwithfoodallergies.com/milksubstitutes.html

http://www.wellnesstoday.com/nutrition-recipes/which-nut-milk-is-right-for-you

http://www.latimes.com/food/dailydish/la-dd-is-hazelnut-milk-the-new-almond-milk-20140416-story.html

https://www.behance.net/gallery/2681739/Primer-Milk-Alternatives

http://www.pacificfoods.com/food/non-dairy-beverages/nut-grain-beverages/organic-7-grain-original.aspx

https://www.behance.net/gallery/2681739/Primer-Milk-Alternatives

Cap Coffee Creamers


almond-joy-delight-creamerBy: Nikki Nies

With holiday blends of creamers available for limited editions and the enticing labels of “sweet, creamy” labels, it’s understandable why you can’t pass up those bottles in your local grocery store.  However, have you thought about what that creamer is made of and that it may be adding extra calories and sugar you’re not acknowledging? These creamers are also known as “non dairy” creamers, which is an oxymoron and may lead some to think twice about what they are pouring into coffee. My point isn’t to take away the fun with coffee, as I’m an avid fan of flavored coffee, but to bring awareness of everything you consume, including creamers!

Obviously, depending on the amount of creamer you use will depend on what adjustments you need to make with creamer use.  If you’re like my friend who dumps about 1/2 cup of creamer in her morning joe, perhaps, she needs to decrease creamer use than you do!  Furthermore, some brands are now carrying products that contain a blend of nonfat milk, cream, sugar and flavorings that are lower in calories than past offerings.

Yet, it’s important to note that these creamers have 0% “actual cream” and are made of a combination of partially hydrogenated oil, sugar, sodium, food coloring and thickeners.  While many brands tout themselves as offering sugar and/or fat free versions, many times artificial sweeteners are added in.Yes, most creamers are lactose free and gluten free, but many products still contain casein, a milk protein that can still cause someone with lactose intolerance and/or milk allergies some trouble. Bottles can be labeled “lactose” and/or milk free, but still contain casein.  Make sure to read the nutrition fact label thoroughly just in case! Additionally, there are soy based creamers available for vegans and those alike, just may have to search a little more! Homemade-Vanilla-Coffee-Creamer

Again, the measurement of moderation may be numerically different for you than it is for me. Still want to add some creamer to your coffee? Make your own homemade vanilla bean creamer today!

Photo Credit: AndCute and Beverage Universe 

Sources: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Suppliers2/CSPI-warns-about-coffee-creamers

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/fat/transfat.html

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/shelf-stable-food-safety

http://blogs.ext.vt.edu/eatsmart-movemore/2013/10/18/half-and-half-vs-non-dairy-creamer-whats-the-best-for-coffee/

http://bodyunburdened.com/homemade-healthy-vanilla-bean-coffee-creamer/

http://www.tricities.com/news/local/article_8fb4e27e-eb25-11e3-a58e-0017a43b2370.html?mode=jqm

http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2013/09/23/coffee-creamer-good-or-bad/

http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=5709&channel_id=9&relation_id=26047

Small Changes–>Big Steps!


By: Nikki Nies Sugar-Addiction

High sugared foods– the more refined sugars we eat, the more we crave. Cutting unhealthy habits can be a challenge.  In regards to the highly addictive substance, sugar, it is best to go cold turkey. Find options that work for you as reliable replacements and be sure to never leave home without them!
Like the title of this post states, but incorporating some small changes into your life, can lead to big results! The initial changes can be a test, but is important in building the confidence that you don’t have to turn to sugar or chips, but with the nourishment of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts, one can develop a healthy lifestyle.
While changes and goals must be realistic and individualized to your own needs, it’s important to just get started!
Potential Suggestions:
  • Start your day off with a protein, fat and carb packed breakfast
  • Make a list of activities to do besides eating to have on hand for when you want to eat, but your body isn’t necessarily hungry
  • Record your food intake including portions, time of day and emotion during that meal
  • Opt for three meals and two snacks a day or 5 small meals.  Listen to your body’s hunger cues!
  • Try your hand at the spice cabinet.  Experiment with different flavor combinations to find what you like best! Grab the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, coriander and/or cardamom and go to town!
  • Get moving! When one exercises, it helps reduce tension, boosts energy and decreases sugar cravings!
  • Be open to exploring emotional causes of sugar cravings.  One can turn to sugar as a means to meet emotional needs that aren’t being met
  • Limit use of artificial sweeteners as this won’t help you with your sugar cravings! If you must use an artificial sweetener, opt for Stevia as it’s the healthiest.
  • Change your environment, whether that means removing tempting foods from kitchen countertops to rerouting the drive home to bypass ‘must have’ fast food!
  • Grab an accountability partner can help on the days when more support is needed!
  • If you find yourself in a tempting situation, grab an apple, carrots and/or a handful of almonds to stave off the unhealthy foods!

Again, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many changes.  No need to overhaul your life and adopt ALL of the above suggestions.  Perhaps, incorporate one or two of these changes into your week and slowly add in more changes as you build your confidence and reduce your sugar cravings!

It typically takes two weeks of dedicated healthy eating for sweet cravings to subside.  Yes, change can be hard and takes work, but are you ready for the challenge to become a healthier you?  What steps are you taking today to get there?!

Photo Credit: LA Beach Fit 

Sources: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories/weight-management/current-consumption.html

 

MyPlate for Older Adults


mpoaEnglishFrontSmall2

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

Choosing Breakfast Cereals


Original Image by Ramnath Bhat via Flickr
Original Image by Ramnath Bhat via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

During my community rotation, I’ve spent more time with the younger than 18 year old population than I can say I’ve ever have. Although, I’m more comfortable with the geriatric population, I’ve walked away from this particular part of my dietetic internship with some notes! I’m pleased to say more and more children are walking out the door eating breakfast.  Next obstacle to tackle, making sure they are eating quality breakfasts.  I asked some my summer campers what they eat for breakfast.  Most common answers: pancakes, waffles, cereals, oatmeal, toasted strudel and a breakfast sandwich.

I don’t know all cereals, but some helpful tips on how to discern which cereals are better than others.

  • Disregard the health claims on the cereal box–head for the nutrition fact label
  • Remember the sugar from fruit is included in the amount of total sugar
  • If “whole grains” (i.e. whole grain oats) is listed as one of the top ingredients it’s a better option than cereals that list rice or rice flour.  If the word “whole” is not listed before a grain, one can assume it’s refined.  Rice or rice flour is a refined grain, which you want to limit.
  • Compare the amount of sugar and grains to the suggested serving size.  If the amount of whole grains and serving size are close in number, that means it’s almost whole grain
  • Assess what the first two ingredients are on the nutrition fact label.  Ingredient amounts are listed in descending order.
  • Not all fiber is created equally. Many cereals contain isolated fibers, which are fibers that are made into powders (i.e. oat flour, soy flour and/or corn flour).  Ignore the claims of “high in fiber” and assess the whole grain status
  • Stay away from advertised yogurt clusters.  While it sounds “healthy”, yogurt clusters=oil+sugar–>no health benefits
  • Opt for cereals that contain: No more than 250 calories/cup; no artificial sweeteners (i.e. aspartame)

Some recommended cereals with their nutrition breakdown:

  • Post Shredded Wheat Original, 150 calories, 5.3 g of fiber, 0.4 g of sugar per 2 biscuits (46 g)
  • Barbara’s Bakery Shredded Wheat, 140 calories, 5 g of fiber, 0 g of sugar per 2 biscuits (40 g)
  • Kashi 7 Whole Grains Puffs, 70 calories, 1 g of fiber, 0 g of sugar per cup
  • Kashi Island Vanilla, 250 calories, 6 g of fiber, 2.5 tsp sugar per cup
  • Kellogg Unfrosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size, 200 calories, 6 g of fiber, 1 g of sugar per 30 biscuits (59 g)

It can be overwhelming to rummage through all the nutrition fact labels in the cereal aisle. Perhaps, head to the supermarket at 8PM or on Wednesdays, which are notoriously slower grocery days.  Take your time and I’m sure you’ll find the perfect fit!

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/10-best-new-healthy-breakfast-cereals

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/06/health/time-healthy-breakfast-cereal/

How to Choose a Healthy Breakfast Cereal

http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/food_shop_prep/food_shop/hgic4224.html

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/breakfast-cereal

http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/smart-choices/best-healthy-cereals

4th of July


73746512617699055_nJZmwufD_fBy: Nikki Nies

Happy early 4th of July! I know you’re prepping for the family BBQs and gathering of friends.  We Dish Nutrition couldn’t help ourselves, but join in the the festivities as well! As a time for celebration of this great nation, there’s no better way to celebrate than with some hearty, yet fresh foods.

Healthy options:

  • Meat: when choosing which meats to grill or BBQ, opting for the lighter colored meats such as skinless chicken breast.  135-46392-crop_mg_1736-1372111761Not only is this a great lean protein, but also packed with B6 and niacin
  • Take it Easy on the BBQ Sauce:It can easily add up in calories and fat.  To be safe, sticking to no more than 2 T of BBQ sauce is ~45 calories, 254 mg of sodium and 8 g of sugar
  • A refreshing treat, such as the Fruity Ice Drinks are not only patriotic, but antioxidant rich too!
  • Don’t be shy with mustard and ketchup: As a great flavor enhancer, mustard contains no calories, fat or cholesterol; yet it’s worth noting that 1 teaspoon contain 60 mg of sodium. Ketchup’s rich in lycopene–an antioxidant that protects against free radicals, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
  • Grab an ear of corn!: One ear provides 3-4 g of fiber, 130 kcal and is packed with B vitamins and beta carotene.  Perhaps, use the corn in a Corn Salad or to make my personal favorite, corn muffins!
  • Fill up on watermelon! While having a cookie or two is reasonable, if you’re still craving something sweet, eating 1 cup of watermelon  contains vitamin A and C and has great anti-cancer effects
  • Show your patriotic side by loading up on “red”, “white” and “blue/purple” foods: It’s not a coincidence that during the summer there are great antioxidant foods that just so happens to be part of our patriotic flag.  Grab some “in season” strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, cherries, tomatoes, cabbage, and red peppers.  The blue/purple foods contain flavonoids and anthocyanidins, which are provide antiinflammatory and neurological protection.  Check out blackberries, blueberries, purple grapes, plums and beets.  You’re often told to stay away from refined grains and sugar, but cauliflower, onions, garlic, mushrooms, bananas, and white varieties of peaches, nectarines and grapes are the often overlooked “white” foods that are great for one’s circulatory system and bone health due to their indole rich properties.

With the official kick off to the summer, sorry Memorial Day, remember, 4th of July is a great day to celebrate independence! Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Sources:http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442470755

http://blogs.webmd.com/food-and-nutrition/2012/06/fourth-of-july-foods.html