Monday, November 30, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

You Can't Always Take it With You

Images from The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!
Illustrator Laura Coyle
Food on the Fly!

Air travel is true survival mode these days and that means more people than ever are packing their own snacks and even meals to help get them through the day. Since airline meals (at least the free ones) are disappearing too it’s even more important to have an in-flight food plan.

Navigate Nutritiously.
-Ask for OJ. The nutrients in 100 percent orange juice help boost your immune system to give you a fighting chance to ward off cold and flu germs floating in airport concourses or the cabin air on crowded flights. Ask the flight attendant to mix orange juice with sparkling water for a nutritious low calorie quencher. I love the fresh squeezed orange juice at Nature’s Table Bistro on Concourse E of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport.
- Snack Smart. Bag own “sky trail mix” of peanuts, almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, and granola. Healthy fats and stomach filling fiber will keep you keep going and this combo will be much lower in sodium than the airline’s on board snack mixes. You want to cut down on sodium intake today, because all that sitting can lead to unwanted puffiness and even ankle swelling.
- Concourse Cuisine. If you are bored and have flipped through all of your magazines even before take off, you might be tempted to reach for food as entertainment. So, make sure to ask yourself if you are really famished. If it is in fact mealtime the good news is that most airports do have healthier choices today including freshly made sandwiches, salads, yogurt and even sushi. A salad is fine, but make sure it contains some kind of protein, such as chicken, turkey, ham, eggs or cheese to keep your blood sugar on an even keel. Stress can take a toll driving your blood sugar level down way below normal.

-This flight is making me thirsty! Buy bottled water on the concourse after security screening to drink while you wait and to take on board in carry-on. Or bring an empty water bottle or other container to fill up from an airport drinking fountain (after you’ve gone through security) to avoid paying for water at airport vendors.
- Watch the alcohol at altitude. You and your skin and your brain can really get dehydrated in a pressurized cabin. Alcohol can accelerate dehydration. If it’s at the end of long travel day and you want a drink to unwind, that’s fine. But make sure to double up on water with the wine.
-If you happen to be on a flight that serves a meal, know that you can order a special meal ahead of time. Airlines request a minimum of 24-hours notice. Special meals usually include fruit for dessert.

Airport Security Food Police

Keep in mind that airport security rules prohibit “gel type substances” such as yogurts and liquids such as bottled water or other beverages in carry-on luggage you take through security check points. Solid foods such as sandwiches, hard cheeses, crackers, fresh fruit and vegetables are allowed. Just as security officials don’t like wrapped gifts, make sure food be seen through its packaging and falls under the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) guidelines for acceptable items. (And no snow globes! That’s on the TSA website too.)
Holiday travelers take note- you can NOT take these foods through airport security even if the home made jam is your Aunt Martha’s.
Cranberry sauce
Creamy dips and spreads
Peanut butter
Maple syrup
Oils and vinegars
Salad dressing
Wine, liquor and beer

But good news, if you’re bringing the cherry cream pie or caramel cake to the family gathering TSA rules state, “You can bring pies and cakes through the security checkpoint, but please be advised that they are subject to additional screening.” (Especially if it looks like a really good dessert.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Now Let's Add Some Nuts

This beautiful caramel cake from Piece of Cake in Atlanta arrived yesterday afternoon. An autumn delight! There are a few more pieces missing today. Perhaps a sprinkling of toasted nuts would add a little more seasonal glamour.


There’s a nut war going on, and it’s more than the usual squirrel battle to gather the most food before winter sets in.
Growers of almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are clamoring to communicate the big health benefits in each bite.

Nuts (and seeds) are a healthy snack choice. Photo by CHRIS HUNT/AJC Special
Nuts as a category have emerged as one of the health heroes in the food world. Not too long ago nuts suffered from an image problem because of their high calorie content.
But today studies show that people who regularly eat nuts — about 1½ ounces a day, five days a week — are at much lower risk of having their arteries clog than non-nut eaters. (By they way, 11/2 ounces is a handful, not a can full.)
“Nuts have gotten a bad rap for being ‘fattening.’ The truth is nuts are nutrient powerhouses full of anti-oxidants, protein, fiber and minerals,” said registered dietitian Marisa Moore, an Atlanta spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
Nuts can also help keep your blood sugar on an even keel, and the most attention-grabbing news for calorie counters is that research also suggests that eating nuts may dampen your appetite, putting the brakes on your tendency to overindulge.
Not created equalJust in case you hadn’t noticed, the first three letters in nutrition happen to be N-U-T, but all nuts do not contain the same nutrient benefits. So the nut world is crowded with sales pitches based on nutritional profiles.
Almonds are a particularly good source of calcium, vitamin E and fiber.
Peanuts (technically a legume) serve up five times the amount of the heart- health-promoting B vitamin folate, compared with other nuts.
Pecans are a super source of anti-oxidants, ranking higher than most other nuts.
Cashews provide copper and hazelnuts manganese, both important micro-nutrients.
Walnuts are the best nut source of omega-3 fatty acids, important for heart health and other benefits.
Chestnuts, with only 69 calories per ounce, win as the leanest nut. Most nuts clock in at about 160 to 200 calories per ounce.
Pistachios win the biggest number in a 1-ounce serving. Forty-nine nuts go a long way to satisfying your craving for a snack. Moore points out another plus: “Pistachios in the shell are the perfect slow food snack. The time it takes to open pistachios gives your brain a little extra time to realize when you’re satisfied. This helps with both portion control and ultimately weight management.”
Case for mixed nutsSo, which nut should you snack on? Toss into salads? Crush to make a breading for baked fish? They’re all good choices for different reasons. So perhaps it’s best we refer to one of the hallmarks of good nutrition, which is to enjoy a variety of foods to get a variety of benefits. Sounds like mixed nuts to me.
Happily, you can find a variety of nuts on Atlanta restaurant menus.Here’s a sneak peek at two nutty dishes about to be introduced.
Bistro Niko (scheduled to open Thursday): Chef Gary Donlick’s French bistro-inspired salade de endives gets extra crunch and nutrition from walnuts and apples.
One Midtown Kitchen: New executive chef Drew Van Leuvan adds excitement to green pea ravioli with curried hazelnuts.
Nut notes● The protein in nuts puts them in the “meat” category. According to the
U.S. Department of Agriculture, in meal planning, a half-ounce of nuts is equal to 1 ounce of meat.
● Studies suggest that most nuts may reduce the risk of heart disease. But it’s interesting to note that does not apply to Brazil nuts, macadamias and cashews, which are higher in saturated fats than other nuts.
● About 1 percent of the population is allergic to nuts.Always ask the server if nuts are used in recipes and if dishes can be made nut-free.
Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and co-author of “The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!” E-mail her at carolyn@carolyn