Sunday, August 29, 2010


If you like your eggs sunny side up with the yolk a little runny you’re a gambler. Raw and undercooked eggs have been on the watch list of foods potentially contaminated with salmonella bacteria and other bad bugs that cause food poisoning for years. But, this month’s nationwide recall of shell eggs suspected to be the source of a recent four-fold spike in the number of Salmonella Enteritidis infections has raised the red flag even higher. While no cases of Salmonella Enteritidis have yet been reported in Georgia, the state is included in the recall.
“No sunny side up eggs anymore,” says noted food safety expert Missy Cody, PhD RD, professor emeritus Georgia State University, “Or undercooked scrambled eggs, unless they’re made with a pasteurized egg product.” When eggs are pasteurized, they are heated to a temperature high enough to kill bacteria. So, pasteurized products such as frozen and liquid eggs are safe to consume even when undercooked or used raw in making ice cream or hollandaise sauce, for instance.
Since, eggs are among the most nutritious and economical foods on the menu; here’s a half dozen tips to help you safely enjoy those delicious dozens.
1. Keep eggs refrigerated at all times. Cody cautions, “And beware of breakfast places that keep raw eggs near the hot griddle. The heat will make salmonella which may be in the eggs grow much faster.” Do not keep eggs warm or at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
2. Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or undercooked, unpasteurized eggs. Restaurants should use pasteurized eggs in any recipe (such as Hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise or Caesar salad dressing) that may call for raw eggs.
3. Avoid eating raw eggs. No matter how tempting, avoid licking the cake batter off the spoon! Make sure shell eggs used in baked goods or casseroles are thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Meringue-topped pies and soufflés should be baked at 350 degrees F for at least 15 minutes.
4. Sunny side up not a bright idea. Whether boiled, poached or fried; eggs should be cooked until both the white and the yolk are firm and eaten promptly after cooking. Undercooked egg whites and yolks have been associated with outbreaks of Salmonella Enteritidis infections.
5. You can’t judge a “good egg”. Contaminated eggs will not smell, look or taste any different from normal eggs. However, always discard cracked or dirty eggs.
6. Some are at higher risk for food poisoning. Eating raw or undercooked eggs should be avoided by young children, pregnant women, elderly and those with weakened immune systems due to serious illness. Good timing-September is The National Restaurant Association’s National Food Safety Education Month. The 2010 theme is High Risk Customers: Serve Your Fare with Extra Care.”
Sources: and

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Eating Lessons in Eat, Pray, Love

It was the fresh buffalo mozzarella pizza with sweet tomato sauce and one sprig of basil that got me thinking of lessons learned about digging into delicious foods and letting go of weighty worries and calories consumed. In the first section of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love she travels to Italy as part of what the subtitle describes as “one woman’s search for everything.” Her journey of self discovery, now depicted by actress Julia Roberts in a movie of the same name, includes a serious confrontation with American women’s attitudes about eating, dieting and the guilt often associated with enjoying indulgent foods. At a pizzeria in Naples, Gilbert describes a “Thin, doughy, strong, gummy, yummy, chewy, salty pizza paradise” and orders two whole pizzas for herself because “the pizza is so good we can barely cope.” She goes on to admit she’s gaining weight every day in Italy and says friends back home refer to her trip as the “No Carb Left Behind Tour.” But Gilbert’s new found joyful abandon with pleasures of the palate isn’t a runaway train headed for dietary doom. It’s an exhilarating side trip of gelato, pastries, pasta, wine and chocolate with a plan to get back on track later as she imagines her body is telling her, “OK, kid, live it up. I recognize that this is just temporary.”

In both the book and movie, the message throughout seemed to be about finding balance in life, love, work, thoughts and deeds. Balance is certainly something dietitians talk about all of the time in terms of a healthy balanced diet to support well being of body and mind. So, here’s a sampling of thoughts about the eating in Eat, Pray, Love from nutrition experts who offer guidance to clients on their personal health journeys of self discovery.

Yes, her name is Love.

Page Love, Registered dietitian, Nutrifit Sport Therapy of Atlanta, “I think it is wonderful how the main character reminds women how to really enjoy food and be OK with letting her waistband expand. She also reminds us how to tune into cravings and mindfulness -listening to body signals and responding to what your body is telling you it wants -sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes more because it just looks so good and tastes so good, but then there are other times when our body tells us that we have had enough. She reminds us of the sheer enjoyment of eating without worry of what others are thinking or what may happen to our body!”
Love took her own solo mid-life trip to Rome and says she didn’t gain weight because she was so active touring around and walking everywhere as tourists often do.
When in Rome

Bonnie Taub-Dix, registered dietitian, National Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, “I was smitten after reading the first part on Italy and wanted to pack my
bags immediately and go directly to that pizza shop! Traveling, for me, is so much about food. That’s the message I try to convey to patients: Savor the moment, make it
worth it, make it special, make it count. Don’t eat bread in Italy just because you’re in Italy. Eat bread in Italy when an amazing piece of bread is served to you while you’re there and hopefully it’s coupled with an amazing Barolo!” Taub-Dix is the author of a new book on better understanding food labels, Read It Before You Eat It (Plume 2010)

Give up the Guilt

Ann Dunaway Teh, registered dietitian, Dunaway Dietetics, Atlanta,
“Unfortunately I still think there is a lot of competition almost among women when eating, such as always noticing what the other person is eating or choosing, making qualifying statements or disclaimers about why they made this choice or that choice.
I counsel on moderation and not restricting certain foods because this can set up a person for “binging” on that particular item later and feelings of guilt. I also temper my advice with physical activity and teach people how to enjoy all foods in moderation and have their eating reflect physical activity and vice versa.” Dunaway Teh specializes in nutrition counseling for athletes and families.

Enjoy! It’s Healthy

Marsha Hudnall, registered dietitian, Green Mountain at Fox Run, Vermont.
“Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, and the current attitudes about eating in this country seriously interfere with that enjoyment. We can dig into our food, enjoy it thoroughly, and still walk away healthy. In fact, enjoyment and happiness even promote good digestion and utilization of the nutrients in food. I believe that one of the positive life messages in Eat, Pray, Love is to realize that food is a wonderful part of life and to enjoy it as part of a full life that includes other things”
Hudnall is program director at Green Mountain at Fox Run in Ludlow Vermont, a women's healthy weight loss retreat and pioneer in the non-diet, mindful eating approach to health and healthy weights. She leads Adventures in Mindful Eating Tours of Italy!

Mealtime Mindfulness

Each one of the nutrition experts mentioned the importance of mindfulness in eating. Page Love said it well, “When we tune in by eating slowly, pausing during meals, you will get appropriate and accurate measures of when to stop. Set up a “healthy meal environment” sitting in an aesthetically pleasing environment. Maximize your enjoyment mindfully which will in the end help you decide how much you need of yummy food without overdoing it!”
Elizabeth Gilbert, author Eat, Pray, Love communicates mindfulness too writing about her lunch of eggs, asparagus, olives, goat cheese, salmon and a peach, “Finally when I had fully absorbed the prettiness of my meal, I went and sat in a patch of sunbeam on my clean wooden floor and ate every bit of it with my fingers.”

Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD is a registered dietitian and co-author of The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous! She can be seen on the Food Network’s Good Eats with Alton Brown, as recurring nutrition expert, The Lady of the Refrigerator.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Watermelon Gazpacho & More New Tastes

The smiling chef with the view of Beaver Creek's awesome mountains behind him is Steven Topple, the talented chef at fabulous Beano's Cabin. If you're going skiing in Vail/Beaver Creek area you better make your reservations to eat there now! Chef Topple cooked a wonderful lunch for me and my friend Debbie Kopp, who lives in Vail.

Made me think that one of the best parts of traveling is tasting new things. Simple as it is...I had never thought of combining watermelon with a traditional tomato gazpacho before I enjoyed the one created by Chef Topple. The watermelon lightened up the tomato taste and added another refreshing taste of summer to the soup. The two dishes in his hands about to hit the table and our tastebuds are Fresh Dungeness Crab with Apple Tower and Pancetta Wrapped Rabbit with carrot salad and cinnamon cider sauce.

As we wheel our carts down supermarket aisles or peruse a restaurant menu chances are we’re on the hunt for familiar tastes and the usual favorites. We’re creatures of habit, especially when it comes to food choices. Add to that the additional worries brought on by a lack luster economy and there’s even more reason to steer clear of expensive impulse purchases. Dark chocolate covered dried apricots sound delicious, but will they fit into the food budget? But, sometimes wandering off in a new direction can lead to fresh discoveries that satisfy culinary and cost demands – often led by other forces at work. According to results of the 2010 Food & Health Survey, conducted by The International Food & Information Council Foundation (IFIC), taste is the biggest influence on food and beverage purchasing decisions (86%) followed by price (73 %). However, the next biggest impact on food buying habits is concern about health (64%). And of the Americans who say they care about the healthfulness of their diet, a whopping 76% are moved to change the types of foods they’re eating. So, what’s new?
A Change for the Better
Whether it’s to lose weight, maintain weight or boost overall health status; Americans are adding and subtracting foods to support their goals. The IFIC survey found that nearly half of those questioned say they’re trying to eat more protein and consume less salt. Coffee drinking habits are changing too. While, less say they’re eliminating caffeine from their diet (10 % compared to 16 % in 2006); nearly three-quarters report consuming caffeine in moderation this year.

Meanwhile, some results from the IFIC survey read like a shopping list of a concerned yet confused consumer. Nearly three-fourths of Americans are trying to consume more fiber and choose whole grain versions of foods, but they don’t really know what the benefits might be. (For the record, whole grains are beneficial for digestive health, heart health, weight control and provide a myriad of disease fighting antioxidant rich plant nutrients.) Dietary fat remains a dizzying area, too. Most (64%) are trying to consume fewer artery clogging trans-fats and saturated fats but less than half (43%) say they’re choosing more heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Maybe that’s because they don’t know the canola oil salad dressings and salmon they’re eating are sources of Omega-3’s? One thing remains a constant in food and health surveys (including this one from IFIC) a significant barrier getting in the way of improving diets is the perception that newly adopted healthy foods won’t taste as good as old favorites. So here are some suggestions for great tasting healthy foods you may have noticed but might not have tried before.

New and New to You Foods for a Healthy Menu – why not try something new for taste and health?

Jicama- Eat more veggies by trying new varieties. Pronounced "hick-ah-mah," this large brown tuber doesn't look very pretty when judging from its plain Jane outside. But, it's the Cinderella of vegetables! Cut it open to reveal a white interior that looks and tastes kind of like an apple. It’s crunchy, slightly sweet and perfect for salads or as crudités with an impressive 6 grams of fiber per cup!

Scandavian Crispbreads: Messages to consume at least half of your grains as whole grains may be new. but these flat breads have been around for years. Super crunchy, high-fiber, whole grain crackers like Wasa crispbreads from Norway are only 40 calories a slice. No added sugar or fat. Top off with turkey and Swiss or humus and tomato slices.

Quinoa: Add more players to your whole grain cast. Quinoa (keen-whah) seeds cook up into slightly nutty tasting light and fluffy rice-like grains. Perfect as a side dish combined with fresh herbs and chopped veggies. Unlike other grains, quinoa is good source of complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids.

Flat Iron or Hangar Steaks: Cut back on saturated fat and still enjoy beef. Leaner lesser known cuts of beef such as the Flat Iron Steak or hangar steak (think Steak Frites in French bistros) are lower in total fat and calories per serving but big on flavor. Order medium to medium rare and slice against the grain to maximize tenderness.

Cocoa Nibs: Enjoy the taste of chocolate in tiny bites. Cocoa nibs are crunchy slightly bitter sweet roasted bits of cocoa beans. Loaded with antioxidants and the mineral magnesium, a little goes a long way. Sprinkle on a fruit and yogurt parfait or add a mocha hit to your coffee. At Canoe Restaurant, Executive Chef Carvel Grant adds a kick of cocoa and crunch by adding cocoa nibs to Fallen Chocolate Soufflé with Chocolate Mint Ice Cream.

Yerba Mate: Cutting back on caffeine but still need a boost? This weird sounding South American tea possesses health benefits that sound pretty good. A study conducted at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana found that yerba mate's super high antioxidant content out performs red wine and green tea. Mate contains one third the caffeine of coffee, and provides a milder stimulant lift.