Thursday, June 21, 2018

Could the Sunshine Vitamin Prevent Cancer?

A team from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine recently published an article in PLOS ONE suggesting that increased levels of vitamin D in the blood may lower a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. 

Further, these researchers identified 60 nanograms of 25-hydroxycholcalciferol per every milliliter of blood plasma to be the threshold in which most positive results were seen.  Women aged 55 years and over at or above this level exhibited one-fifth the risk of developing breast cancer compared to those with levels at or below 20 ng/mL.  While previous studies have suggested a link between breast cancer and vitamin D, this research presents the strongest evidence of an association thus far. 

Although this research correlates higher serum vitamin D levels to positive health outcomes, it is important to understand that extremely high levels of vitamin D can cause adverse effects.   Symptoms such as nausea, constipation, weight loss, heart rhythm problems, and kidney damage have been linked to serum vitamin D levels at or above 125 ng/mL.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Refreshing Way to Serve Soup in the Summer

Are you hungry for soup this summer but do not want to eat warm soup on a hot day? Gazpacho is a perfect recipe for soup in the summer!  This traditional Spanish soup is served cold and is sure to refresh your taste buds on a hot summer day.  Gazpacho incorporates a lot of different fresh vegetables and herbs that can easily be found during the summer months.

3 large tomatoes, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 medium-size red onion, diced
1/4 cup dried Kalamata olives, about 4 to 6 olives
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, diced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, diced (or 2 teaspoons dried)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh dill, diced (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 46-ounce can reduced-sodium tomato juice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Croutons or breadsticks

1.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.  Serve with croutons.

*Substitute an equal volume of vegetable juice (regular or spicy) for the tomato juice.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Freshen Your Summer with Berries

Now that the weather is nice, berries are officially in season! Adding these delicious little fruits to your diet is the perfect way to ensure you are getting the nutrients your body needs for optimal health. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are all loaded with antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, potassium and even folate! 

When shopping for berries, look for ones that are firm, dry and without stains. Avoid green blueberries and red blackberries. Since strawberries don’t ripen after harvest, you want to stay away from green or yellow ones. 

The best place to store your berries are in the produce drawer where there’s lower circulation. They can last for one week in your fridge, however you should eat them within three days for maximum nutrition. If you don’t plan on eating them immediately, you can always freeze them for another time! Just spread them out on a baking sheet and place them in your freezer for a couple hours. Once frozen, transfer them to a container and keep frozen until you are ready to eat! 

Learn more about the best ways to add berries to your diet here: 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Fruit, Fast Food, and Fertility--Could They Be Linked?

A study recently published in Human Reproduction, the academic journal from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, suggests that a woman’s fast food and fruit intake may alter her chance of becoming pregnant.

Through the examination of 5,598 women, this research observed that those consuming higher amounts of fast food and lower amounts of fruit took longer to conceive and had an increased risk of infertility than those consuming more fruit and less fast food.  

More specifically, women eating fruit only 1-3 times a month were found to take 19% longer to conceive and exhibited a 29% increase in the risk of infertility, compared to those who consumed fruit more than 3 times a day.  Women who rarely or never consumed fast food were shown to take 24% less time to conceive while also exhibiting a 41% reduced risk of infertility compared to women that consumed fast food 4 or more times a week.

This study highlights the importance of a preconception diet for women hoping to become pregnant or looking for pre-pregnancy guidance.  In addition, this research could lead to helpful tactics for those struggling to build a family of their own.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Traveler’s Guide to Healthy Options

When traveling, many people often find it difficult to eat healthy. However, there are options that many do not realize are available.

For instance, non-perishable snacks, such as dried fruit and nuts, can be packed for the trip. The next step of eating healthy while traveling is finding alternatives to junk food along the way. In airports, some healthy options may include a whole-grain sandwich with lean meat, a salad with lean protein, a fruit cup, and pre-cut veggies.

Road trip stops have healthy options too. Whether it is a market, sandwich shop, drive-thru, or buffet, healthy foods can be found. When eating at places like these, look for options that include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, and grilled options. Watching portion sizes can also make a big difference when eating at these types of places. 

Along with road trip stops and airports, healthy food can be found in hotels as well. If a mini-fridge is available, snacks like hummus and yogurt can be kept on hand. Hotel breakfasts also have healthier alternatives, such as whole-grain cereal and fruit. 

The last step of having a healthy trip is being safe with food. When traveling out of the country, avoid drinking tap water and eating raw produce. Instead, drink bottled water and eat foods that are safe for consumption. Safe foods might include fruits with peels and well-cooked meat. 

Although it may seem impossible to eat healthy while traveling, there is almost always some type of healthy alternative that can be found! 

Find this and more at:

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Perfect Side Dish for Your Holiday Weekend

Need something to bring to the family cookout this Memorial Day weekend? Impress your relatives with this version of tabbouleh for a light and refreshing side dish! Tabbouleh is a classic Middle Eastern salad that is usually made with uncooked bulgur. However, this recipe uses whole grain couscous instead. 

2 cups cooked whole-wheat pearl couscous, chilled*
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 medium unwaxed cucumber, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley
2/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 medium green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice**
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel**
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper, or to taste
1.   Put couscous, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, mint, bell pepper, feta cheese and green onions in a large bowl.
2.   In a separate bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, lemon peel and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over couscous mixture; toss gently to coat.

Cooking Notes
·       *To cook pearl couscous, simmer 1 cup whole-wheat pearl couscous in 1 1/4 cups water, covered, for 10 minutes. Pearl couscous, also called Israeli couscous or ptitim, has a chewy, nutty flavor, somewhat similar to barley. Compared with traditional couscous, the granules are somewhat larger, firmer in texture and less likely to clump together. If pearl couscous is not available, use traditional couscous.
·       **Variation: Substitute orange juice and orange peel for lemon juice and lemon peel.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Summer Cookout Tips and Tricks

Instead of eating inside during the warm sunshine of summer, have a cookout and enjoy making and eating healthy food outside! 
When grilling, it is important to ensure that you are applying proper food safety techniques. Clean your grill with hot, soapy water, and then heat the grill to the proper temperature before cooking. These actions will kill any potential bacteria that may be harmful to you. In order to prevent cross-contamination, be sure to pack extra utensils and plates. Never prepare or marinate raw foods and ready-to-eat foods using the same plates or utensils!
Seasonal fruits and vegetables from your local grocery store or farmers’ market can bring lots of new, delicious flavors to your meal. Not only do they bring flavor, but they also provide fiber and a variety of nutrients to your cookout. Some lean grilling options include marinated Portobello mushrooms or turkey burgers. To make a Greek turkey burger, simply add feta cheese, Kalamata olives, oregano, and pepper to the ground turkey. Serve the burger on pita bread with tomatoes and cucumbers. It is crucial to ensure the turkey burger is cooked to 165°F to prevent food poisoning! Season summer vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, eggplant, corn, summer squash, etc. with herbs and grill until browned. After grilling over low heat, pineapple slices, peach halves and fruit kabobs can be a great dessert for any summer cookout. Another unique summer cookout dessert is grilled watermelon! Use these tips this summer to create a delicious cookout that will spice up your meal time.