Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Juicy Scoop on Florida Grapefruit

Sure it's easy to find fresh seasonal fruit under the summer sun, but did you know that winter is the best season for citrus? Gorgeous grapefruit from Florida are tumbling into supermarket produce sections and ready for you to section into breakfast bowls, over dinner salads, over yogurt and even as a wonderfully sweet and tart dessert. Cut juicy pink grapefruit in half and run under the broiler for a few minutes to caramelize the natural sugars in Florida grapefruit. Refreshing Florida grapefruit tastes like sunshine and not only brightens up winter taste buds; it offers a terrific source of vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber.
One-half of a medium Florida grapefruit contains only 60 calories. With fewer than 100 calories per 8-ounce serving, grapefruit juice contains fewer calories than many commonly-consumed 100 percent fruit juices. It's the juice you want for weight control!!
Not only is it peak grapefruit season, but February is National Grapefruit Month, so here are some delicious ideas for infusing the fresh flavors of Florida grapefruit and 100 percent grapefruit juice into meals and snacks.

Delicious on its own, grapefruit also pairs perfectly with a number of foods to provide added flavor and nutrients to your favorite dishes, making a tasty addition to citrus salsas, salads and post-workout smoothies. Here are some ideas to add tangy sweetness to your meals:

• Toss grapefruit segments into a shrimp stir fry to add a punch of tangy flavor and great texture.
• Reach for grapefruit segments as a topping for cereal, waffles, pancakes, or in a low-fat yogurt parfait.
• Bake half of a medium Florida grapefruit with a topping of brown sugar for a twist on the traditional breakfast treat.
• Marinate chicken in grapefruit juice for zesty, mouth-watering flavor.
• Freeze grapefruit juice in ice pop holders for a nutritious frozen treat.
• Prepare salad dressing with grapefruit juice instead of vinegar for a citrus flavor burst.
To learn more about the health and nutrition benefits of grapefruit and 100 percent grapefruit juice, check out the new Florida grapefruit Facebook page and application, “Juicy Scoop.”
This interactive new site offers the inside scoop on the most effective workouts, best new restaurants, functional foods, cool styles and beauty secrets. Also, be sure to check us out on Twitter @JuicyScoop to receive all of the hottest updates.

Juice Scoop Event in Atlanta this Thursday.I'll be at Lennox Square Mall on Thursday, February 3rd from 5pm - 8pm with tasty samples of my recipe for Grapefruit Avocado Salsa. Prizes and fun with a fitness expert and make up artist, too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kitchen Gadgets to Love

Whether they’re competing on “Iron Chef” or getting ready to prepare a dish for a restaurant guest, professional chefs begin by gathering ingredients and getting organized. This is called “mise en place” — a French phrase that loosely translates to “everything in its place.” If one of your resolutions for this year is to eat more healthfully and to learn to prepare delicious and nutritious dishes, why not give your kitchen a diet makeover so that it will be easier for you to whip up quick and healthy meals at home? Here are a few tools that cooking pros love:

Garlic press. Add aromas and healthy antioxidants to sauces, salad dressings or sauteed vegetables with minced garlic. These s little gadgets allow you to crush unpeeled cloves without scenting your fingers with garlic perfume. Find them at Cook’s Warehouse.

Slow cooker. Quickly becoming a fixture in modern kitchens, slow cookers do the work for you while you’re away for the day. Toss ingredients in before work so dishes are ready for dinner. Slow cookers and pressure cookers concentrate flavors so less salt or fat is needed in recipes, and long braising times tenderize lean cuts of meat.

Microplane grater. This long, thin and graceful gadget makes it easy to add fresh lemon zest to recipes and can be used to grate hard cheeses such as Parmiagano Reggiano . A Microplane is much easier to use than stand graters that can threaten manicures and knuckles.

Immersion blender. Dietitian Jill Nussinow, an expert on vegetarian cooking, shares her favorite gadgets for a healthy kitchen on her website and includes the hand-held immersion blender for turning steamed veggies into smooth purees for delicious soups or to thicken sauces without adding butter, cream or flour. Also great for making single serve fresh fruit smoothies.

Mini-food processor. These petite powerhouses are less expensive than big food processors and take up less counter space. Easy to use to chop up a batch of onions, bell peppers, celery, parsley or shallots in the just the right amount for recipes.

Mini kitchen scale. “Take the guess work out of portion sizing and get better results when following baking recipes”, says Susan Nicholson, Atlanta based dietitian and author of 7 Day Menu Planner for Dummies. Her cookbook includes kitchen basics section called “The Tools of the Trade: Cookware and Appliances.”

Salt grinder. Upgrade your salt shaker and grind salt from large crystals. Freshly ground sea salt (as with peppercorns) can taste more intense so you use less on foods to get the same zing. Amy Myrdal Miller, dietitian at the Culinary Institute of America notes that while table salt and sea salt are both made up of sodium chloride, “sea salt can contain slightly less total sodium. For instance, a teaspoon of fine grain table salt contains 2360 milligrams of sodium. Fine gain sea salt contains 2160 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2010 Finally Arrives in 2011!!

The calendar may read 2011, but the 2010 update of US Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a tad overdue and is expected to make its debut sometime very soon. As you’ve no doubt heard, the American diet could use some improvements to battle obesity and help prevent diet related illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The goal of the update includes an emphasis on advice based on the latest nutrition research; a lot of which has emerged since the last guidelines were released five years ago. So, what does a healthy diet look like these days? Are there clearly defined dietary devils and darlings so we know what to avoid and what to add to our plates? Addressing these questions was the job of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) established to update the 2005 Dietary Guidelines by taking a look at current consensus in nutrition science and advising leaders at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on what Americans should be eating today. What we’re waiting for now is the official publication of the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines. Already alerting consumers there may be meal planning changes in the works, the website for reminds visitors that the diet advice on the site is currently based on the 2005 guidelines and shares this link to check on the development of the new guidelines.

What’s New in Nutrition?A menu of the DGAC’s dietary suggestions which we may soon see incorporated in the final version of the US Dietary Guidelines includes this broad conclusion, “On average, Americans of all ages consume too few vegetables, fruits, high-fiber whole grains, low-fat milk and milk products, and seafood and they eat too much added sugars, solid fats, refined grains, and sodium.” Translation: Spend more time exploring the produce section and less time eyeing fried chicken in the deli.

Get Off The SofasRemember all the talk about “couch potatoes” referring to sedentary habits that contribute to weight gain? Well now couches are joined by sofas! The 2010 Dietary Guidelines report warns that “SoFAS” (solid fats and added sugars) contribute about 35 percent of calories to the American diet for kids, teens and adults. ‘Solid fats’ refers to the fat in butter, cheese, stick margarine, vegetable shortening (oils which are hydrogenated to be solid at room temperature) and the fats in meats. ‘Added sugars’ doesn’t need much explanation but don’t forget that includes soft drinks.

The 2010 “Uncle Sam Diet”, if you will.

DGAC Report: “Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.”

Translation: Check out the vegetarian entrees on menus when dining out, even if you’re not a vegetarian, to increase intake of valuable nutrients including fiber and antioxidants.

DGAC Report: “Increase the intake of seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products and consume only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry, and eggs.”

Translation: Lean toward low fat dairy and lean meats. For instance, from flank steak to top sirloin, there are 29 different cuts of beef which qualify as lean with less than 10 grams of fat per serving.

DGAC Report: The committee included advice to encourage the enjoyment of healthy food and pointed to the benefits of Mediterranean-style dietary patterns.

Translation: Enjoy platters of grilled fish and lemons, vegetables drizzled with olive oil and sliced melon for dessert. A glass of wine is OK, too.

DGAC Report: “Significantly reduce intake of foods containing added sugars and solid fats because these dietary components contribute excess calories and few, if any, nutrients.”

Translation: Don’t waste calories on sugar sweetened beverages and deep fried foods. If you do, spend those calories wisely with smaller portions enjoyed less frequently.

DGAC Report: “Reduce sodium intake.”

Translation: Shaking a salt habit doesn’t have to mean suffering with bland foods. Add a world of healthy flavors with fresh herbs, dried herbs, spices, citrus, vinegars, salsas, garlic and mushrooms.

DGAC report: “Lower intake of refined grains, especially refined grains that are coupled with added sugar, solid fat, and sodium.”

Translation: Looks like we better go easy on the donuts and tortilla chips.