Thursday, March 26, 2009

Food Rescue at the Airport

The photo above captures "My desk Today" as I sit and write in my serene villa at the Amanyara Resort in the quiet Turks & Caicos Islands. Delta direct to Provo and you're here in two hours. That's less time than it takes me to go to the Atlanta airport, go thru security and wait for the flight! Uh and a half hour at the Crown Room. (:

The link below arrived in my mailbox......taking me to a little video that's a lot of fun if you need tips on eating more healthfully when airport living is a big part of your life. Bon Appetit Road Warriors!

Frequent Flyer Diet Video – <> Frequent Flyer Diet - Dietitian Carolyn O’Neil comes to the rescue of a busy business traveler whose on-the-go diet is high in unhealthy airport food.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pitty the Poor Potato

Pitty the poor potato. The humble spud has been hit right between the eyes by the just-say-no- to-carbs craze. If an entree comes with a potato side dish, dieting diners demand their waiter substitute broccoli or green beans. ( even if the green vegetables are drowning in butter or cheese sauce) Baked potatoes have been banished in favor of sweet potatoes on many menus because the deep orange root vegetable ranks higher in nutrition concentration of vitamin A and is supposedly easier on the glycemic index than the regular white potato. But, before you malign another mashed potato, let's revisit the nutrition facts involved. Potatoes are actually diet and nutrition good guys.

A five-ounce potato provides just 100 calories, for which you get 35 percent of a day’s recommended vitamin C, nearly two times as much potassium as a banana, 20 percent of the vitamin B6, 15 percent of the iodine, 10 percent each of B vitamin niacin, iron and copper, and 6 percent of the protein.
Try potatoes baked, boiled or steamed. Top with a little low fat sour cream or yogurt mixed with dried herbs and you've got a delicious side dish.

Deep fry potatoes and you can add 100 calories per ounce. Frying does that to foods. So French fries don't fit into the diet category- low carb or high carb.
Here's what really matters. If you consume potatoes with a meal then their effect on blood sugar is greatly reduced. So the glycemic load of the total meal is lower than the glycemic index number for the potato alone. Fiber, protein and fat help reduce the effect on blood sugar levels. So enjoy baked chicken, green beans and mashed redskin potatoes. Or savor beef stew, chock full of vegetables with some boiled new potatoes. This is another reason nutritionists advise eating balanced meals that include a variety of foods.

A new survey by the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) reveals that Americans love their spuds. There’s no doubt, potatoes remain a relished dish on the national table – survey results confirm that potatoes are “America’s favorite vegetable.” When asked to select their favorite vegetable, consumers picked potatoes (26%), corn (19%) and broccoli (17%). When eating a potato, leave the skin on for added fiber and nutrients.

So, how do we savor our spuds? When it comes to cooking up the tuber, Americans keep it simple. Mashed potatoes (28%) and baked potatoes (25%) top the list of preferred preparations, with French fries (20%), home fries/hash browns (10%) and potato chips (5%) following.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Really Really Super Safe Food

Photo: Chef Ian Windslade's delicious slow cooked salmon with cherry tomatoes in a miso-yuzu broth at Market in W Hotel Buckhead, Atlanta.
Eating out when you're immune function is down.

Going through the rollercoaster of chemotherapy for treatment of cancer or other illnesses is physically and mentally challenging enough. Add to that the addition of cautionary lists of foods to avoid when the immune system is weakened and even the everyday enjoyment of eating a bunch of grapes or grabbing a deli sandwich with friends can be taken away, too. When a friend of mine who is undergoing chemotherapy for a kidney condition told me her physician recommended she avoid eating all raw fruits and vegetables I wanted to learn more about the nuances of current food safety advice for cooking and dining out.
Tiffany Barrett, clinical dietitian specialist at the Emory Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University Healthcare in Atlanta, explains that the level of concern in avoiding potential pathogens in foods is related to the level of immune defense indicated by white blood cell counts because the lower the level of white blood cells (which fight infection), the higher the concern for food safety risks. “So I do not recommend all chemo patients avoid raw produce. The potential risks include food borne illnesses due to bacteria on the produce, especially produce that cannot be washed effectively. I educate the patient on cross contamination and handling of food.”
Washing produce thoroughly is emphasized and thick-skinned fruit such as oranges and bananas which can be peeled are preferred over thin skinned uncooked fruit such as grapes or apples.
For patients who must avoid even the slightest risk of eating raw produce (including bone marrow transplant patients), Barrett recommends fully cooked fruits and vegetables or commercially frozen or canned produce to receive the benefits of healthy eating. A baked apple rather than a raw apple is a simple and delicious solution.

Dining out can present several risks and challenges because of the unknowns of what is going on behind the scenes with sanitation. What might be perfectly safe for healthy customers could sicken someone with a weakened immune system so advice includes avoiding all salad bars and buffets and requesting that meat and fish be cooked to well- done. If patients are advised to avoid public spaces, they can still enjoy foods from their favorite restaurants as take-out but make sure to reheat dishes when you get them home to at least 165 degrees F or until their steaming hot. Throw out leftovers after 24 hours.

Other potentially hazardous foods because of the bacteria they may contain include unpasteurized milk and cheeses, blue cheeses, brie and other soft cheeses, undercooked eggs, unroasted raw nuts, unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices, honey in the comb, cold smoked salmon and certainly no sushi or raw shellfish. Barrett says specialized yogurts with live and active cultures are on the “foods to avoid” list at Emory, too, “Little is known about their potential harm to a weakened immune system. Yogurt has been debated here every year. And every cancer center has different guidelines.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Snack Alert- Literally!!

Remember back when business meeting breaks at conference hotels meant rushing to the pay phones outside the room to return calls and then washing down a big pastry with a cup of industrial-tasting coffee?
The next step was struggling to keep your eyes open during the next round of speakers as the late afternoon slump set in. That’s why hotel companies such as Wyndham Hotels and Resorts have started to offer foods and beverages that help boost energy and promote an alert state of mind.

At the Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center in Peachtree City, a recent seminar held for professional meeting planners featured a demonstration of what can be offered to clients who want their meeting goers to stay awake.
“I think health and wellness has become a growing trend and focus in the meetings industry,” said Kelly Blair of Atlanta-based Monumental Meetings.
During the morning break at the Wyndham, a smoothie bar offered a drink made with soy milk and tropical fruit. The snack selections included single servings of yogurts and lowfat cottage cheese as well as fresh fruit, dried fruit and 100-calorie packs of whole grain crackers and high-fiber cereal bars. Even the air was designed to keep you feeling perky.
“It’s called Pure Air and it’s a system that purifies the air by decreasing particulate matter including mold and spores in hotel guest rooms and meeting rooms,” explained Marilyn Yelle, senior director of sales and marketing for Wyndham.
• Carbohydrates increase brain levels of a chemical called serotonin, which induces sleep. Good for bedtime, not meeting time.
• Foods that contain protein keep blood sugar levels on an even keel, preventing extreme highs and then crashing lows that lead to loss of energy.
• Certainly caffeine in colas and coffee still plays an important role in keeping minds alert. But it turns out that tea, with its combination of caffeine and an amino acid called theanine, increases alpha-brain wave activity that induces a calmer, yet more alert, state of mind.
• Folate, a B vitamin found in orange juice, green vegetables and whole grains, has been shown to improve alertness in adults.
• Drink up to stay awake. Dehydration can make you feel listless and lethargic and contribute to concentration problems. The water in fresh fruit and veggie snacks help hydrate.