Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I Think I'll Have the Salad... or A Big Mac

Crisp, crunchy, and vibrant, salads are now becoming the chosen entrée for many restaurant-goers.  Let’s be honest, we order a salad because we think it is a healthy choice, right?  Your typical restaurant side salad consists of greens, cucumber, tomato, and shredded carrots.  Besides being just plain boring, it usually tastes like you’re eating cold paper—not so appetizing.  Salad shouldn’t be something we have to eat; it should be something we want to eat. 
Therefore, restaurants usually adorn their entrée-sized salads with copious amounts of dressing and other questionably “healthy” items.  These sneaky additions turn a reasonably nutritious salad into a dish that is no better than a McDonald’s Big Mac.  The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine published a list comparing the calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium contained in some popular salads alongside the infamous McDonald’s Big Mac. 

·      Big Mac: 550 calories, 29g fat, 10g saturated fat, 75mg cholesterol, 970mg sodium

·      California Pizza Kitchen’s Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Salad, Full: 1500 calories, 99g fat, 10g saturated fat, 295mg cholesterol, 1380mg sodium

·      Applebee’s Grilled Shrimp ‘N Spinach Salad, Regular: 1000 calories, 66g fat, 10g saturated fat, 195mg cholesterol, 2990mg sodium

·      Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad: 1430 calories, 96g fat, 28g saturated fat, 175mg cholesterol, 2620mg sodium (*worse than 2 Big Macs in all categories)

·      IHOP’s Crispy Chicken Cobb Salad w/Avocado: 1350 calories, 104g fat, 29g saturated fat, 590mg cholesterol, 2980mg sodium

If you’re really craving a good salad, don’t be afraid to order one!  Simply remove the cheese, avoid creamy dressings, request the dressing on the side, and always remember that you can ask for additional vegetables.  While some restaurant salads may be worse than a Big Mac, please note that not all of them are.  Armed with these tips, next time you visit a restaurant, you will truly be able to make a healthy choice.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fire Up the Grill

            With the weather getting warmer and summer right around the corner, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the weather while you cook! One benefit of grilling is that fats do not need to be added. There is no need for butter or other oils while cooking on the grill. It is recommended that meats with smaller amounts of fat to be used for grilling. Meats like lean beef, pork, chicken, and fish are great choices! The grill is also a great way to cook some vegetables like onions, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, or corn!
            Some concerns that accompany grilling foods include the cancer risk. There is the concern of consuming charred meats as being a cause of cancer. Other carcinogens are also created from smoke. To avoid charring meats, remove the visible fat around the meat before grilling. To prevent smoking, precook the meat in the microwave to rid of some of the juices. This will stop the juice from dropping on the hot coals of the grill that can create smoke.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Growing Your Own Vegetables at Home and Abroad

            A recent study from Cornell University Food and Brand Labs found that kids who grow his or her own vegetables are more likely to consume them. This research is an important step in increasing vegetable consumption in young adults, and, as co-author Drew Hanks mentions, “the first hurdle in increasing vegetable consumption is simply getting kids to put them on their plate.” The pilot study in an upstate New York school saw a change in young students selecting salads. There was a notable increase from 2 % to 10 % of students selecting salads when students were involved in growing the produce. When students grow the produce themselves it may provide a sense of personal satisfaction. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) encourages families to grow a garden of their own too, which may increase vegetable consumption in the domestic setting. For more information about the research at Cornell University Food and Brand Labs, and tips on beginning your own at home garden visit:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Is There a Right Way to Eat Food?

Healthy eating is not difficult, but it can sometimes be confusing, especially if you’re not familiar with a particular food.  The number one priority when fueling your body is to make sure you’re actually getting all the nutrients from the food.  The following 10 items are some of the most common foods that require a little something extra to unlock their key nutrients.

·      Flaxseeds-these seeds are shockingly full of good things like fiber, omega-3s, and lignans.  Our bodies actually have a hard time digesting the whole seed, so to obtain the most nutrients, it is recommended to grind them.
·      Black tea-if you often enjoy your tea with milk, you may want to think about trying a plant-based milk instead. Our bodies have a difficult time absorbing the good-for-you plant compounds because the proteins in milk bind with the catechins in tea.
·      Broccoli-this miniature tree-like veggie boasts vitamin C, antioxidants, chlorophyll, and anti-carcinogenic compounds.  To obtain the most nutrients, steaming these green guys is the way to go.
·      Strawberries-resist the urge to wash and chop these berries before you’re ready to eat them.  The fiber, antioxidants, and especially vitamin C in the ruby red berry are sensitive to when exposed oxygen and light.
·      Garlic-let the clove sit out for around 10 minutes before you toss it into your dish.  The cancer-fighting enzyme, allicin, actually likes to be exposed to air.
·      Whole grains and beans-both of these contain phytates that can bind to vitamins and minerals and prevent our body from absorbing them.  The phytates can be released by soaking intact whole grains and beans in water overnight.
·      Yogurt-be sure to give your yogurt a quick stir before digging in.  Incorporating the watery substance that often appears on the surface will ensure that you are getting all of the protein, vitamin B12, calcium, and phosphorous that yogurt has to offer.  Also, the live and active cultures that occur in yogurt do not do well when heated.  So eat it chilled to obtain the most nutrients.
·      Tomatoes-this juicy, red fruit contains the phytochemical lycopene, which is best absorbed when the tomato is cooked.  But don’t think you have to give up eating them chilled; tomatoes still have a great amount of beneficial nutrients when served at room temperature or cold.
·      Grilled meat-nothing says summer like grilling outside.  But be aware, meat that is grilled over an open flame might actually increase cancer risk.  When meat is chargrilled, it forms two possible cancer-causing chemicals, heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.  Make sure that you closely monitor and reach the safe internal temperature using a food thermometer.
·      Asparagus-even though it may save time, try to avoid using the microwave to cook asparagus.  This cooking method depletes the vitamin C content.  As an alternative, use the stove to quickly steam or stir-fry until the veggie is tender and still crisp.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ensuring Your Best Healthy Summer

Summertime is a great opportunity to enjoy beautiful weather with friends and family. Due to busy schedules though, it often can be very tempting to make unhealthy food choices.  With activities, such as family barbeques and road trips, it is very easy to overeat and consume less nutritious options. Eating in this manner during the summer can have you feeling lethargic, thus catching a case of summertime sadness. To ensure you have the optimum energy and best summer possible, follow the four H’s: Hygienic, Healthy, Hydrating and Hearty.


With summer being prime BBQ season, along with many kinds of meats consumed, it is important to ensure that all ribs, steaks, chicken, etc. are being properly handled. Make sure to wash your hands and utensils that will be used to prepare and cook the meat. It’s also important to ensure that your food does not sit out for more than two hours after it’s been cooked, in order to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. If the temperature is over 90 degrees, do not let it sit out for more than 1 hour. Another helpful tip to reduce the risk of bacteria growth includes letting the grill preheat at least 20 minutes before it is to be used. This will kill any lingering germs from its previous use.


Many families are on the go in the summer, therefore potato chips and chocolate chip cookies usually suffice as snacks. As they are delicious and convenient, they can easily be replaced with healthier options, such as vibrant and juicy fruits and vegetables. They are filled with many antioxidants and vitamins that will help keep energy levels high during those hectic summer days.  Many farmers markets sell fresh fruits and veggies during the summer, which is something that should be taken advantage of.  Instead of serving up a bunch of potato salads and cornbread casseroles at the next family BBQ, try a colorful fruit salad.


Many people do not realize that dehydration plays a major role in decreased energy levels and fatigue. Water is one of the most important fluids for the body. In fact, water makes up approximately 65% of the human body. It is nice to enjoy refreshing iced teas, but in regards to dehydration, caffeine is the last thing you want to be drinking. If you’re trying to add some flavor to the water, drink it with some slices of lemon or refreshing cucumbers.


As mentioned before, Americans are prone to overeating, especially during the summer months.  A way to decrease the urge to overeat includes eating hearty meals. The human body craves rather nutritious foods for nourishment, whereas low-protein and “junk” food leaves the body feeling depleted. Eating these types of unhealthy foods causes your stomach to be satisfied for a shorter amount of time, which results in snack cravings. Snacks simply hold off your appetite, but do not generally meet the nutritional requirements the body really needs. When looking for snacks, try eating foods like hummus and veggies that will better satisfy your body, instead of less nutritious food, such as potato chips. Also, when preparing daily meals make sure they are filled with hearty nutrients, such as lean proteins and a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Power of a Shopping List

            As several Americans are discouraged to lose weight because of the efforts of getting on fancy diets and performing vigorous exercise, a study has recently shown it really doesn’t have to include these endeavors or be that difficult. The simple exercise of making a shopping list and sticking to it when going to a grocery store has been shown to be effective in losing weight.

            In this study, people who said they used a list when they shopped for groceries had a healthier weight than those who didn’t, even in neighborhoods where there were a variety of obstacles in healthy eating. Researchers went door to door, collecting demographic information, height, weight, and other details about a person’s diet in lower income neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, where residents had fewer options to healthy food. Researchers found that when asking more than 1,300 residents about their grocery shopping habits, nearly a third said they always shopped with a list. Around 17% said they sometimes shopped with a list, while 26% said they never bothered to. On average, it was determined that those who used a shopping list regularly, weighed at least 5 pounds less than those who didn’t.

            So you may ask, what makes shopping with a list more effective? When shopping with a list, we are more prone to stick with what is on the list instead of drifting off with no direction, purchasing miscellaneous food products in our presence. If you plan at home and organize a healthy-food filled list, you are more likely to stay focused. Food marketers have the goal to sell their products, not to make us healthy. That is why it is very important to plan and look into the nutrition of foods before we purchase them, instead of simply buying them because their packaging and advertising looks well. Using a shopping list, no matter your income level, can help you live a healthier lifestyle!