Monday, January 30, 2012

Super Bowl Snacks to Fill Nutrition Gaps!

Game on!
There’s almost as much hype about the menu for Super Bowl parties as there is about the big game. Many restaurants, bars and food markets have their flags flying high with special football focused menus to attract hungry fans. Super Bowl Sunday is a big day for food. Some say it’s the second biggest day of over-zealous eating next to Thanksgiving. Fans will be snacking before kick-off and all the way through half-time to the final cheers and trophy presentation to feed their nerves and celebrate the great plays with nachos, wings, pizza, burgers, ribs, submarine sandwiches, guacamole, chips and plenty of beer.

Here’s just one sports fan statistic to put consumption into perspective - The National Chicken Council estimates 1.25 billion pounds of wings will be devoured on Super Bowl Sunday.

Here come the Game Day Dietitians!
Add to the scrimmage nutrition experts who are out in numbers to throw a cautionary “flag on the field” to evaluate high calorie menu choices. After all, weren’t we just talking about New Year’s diet resolutions a month ago? There are some fairly simple ways to lighten up football food favorites. Use low fat sour cream or Greek yogurt in dips. Try to calm your nerves by crunching on celery sticks instead of diving into the tortilla chips. Use a small plate to create your game day meal plan instead of mindlessly grabbing finger foods so you lose track of your intake score. Tackle the stuff you really crave first such as guacamole with a few chips or small order of wings and then move down the field to secondary players when you’re not as hungry so you won’t eat as much.
Super Bowl Scores for You

Snacks, such as those served on game days, may have the reputation for being high calorie extras but they can play starring roles by saving the day with nutrients you may be missing in other meals. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, many Americans fall short of the nutrition goal post for these seven nutrients: fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E.

Here’s how to snack on Super Bowl Sunday to boost your health. Game on!

Fiber: “The Safety” –aids digestion, lowers cholesterol and linked to appetite satiety. Foods: whole grain crackers, tortillas, bread, fruit, vegetables.
Broaden the veggie team to include cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini and yellow squash.

Calcium: “The Running Back” - supports bone health and healthy blood pressure.

Foods: Fat free or low fat milk or chocolate milk, yogurt or frozen desserts, low fat string cheese and Greek yogurt in dips. New research from the University of Maine shows that drinking one glass of milk per day boosts mental power in visual, verbal and memory tests. Think fast: should we run the ball or throw it?

Potassium: “The Wide Receiver” -regulates blood pressure to keep the cardiovascular system healthy and strong. Foods: citrus, citrus juices, cantaloupe, banana and green leafy vegetables including popular spinach dip made with frozen chopped spinach!

Vitamin E: “The Nose Guard” -supports immune system, healthy skin and works as antioxidant to lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Foods: Avocado in guacamole, in salads and on sandwiches. Nuts including walnuts, almonds and Georgia pecans.

California Haas Avocados smooth, creamy and rich source of Vitamin E.

Magnesium: “The Offensive Guard”- needed for bone and muscle health, nervous system and heart health. Foods: Pumpkin seeds, spinach, black beans, shrimp and soy beans. Calm close score nerves with healthy peel-and-eat shrimp and edamame beans.

Vitamin A: “The Kicker”-needed for healthy eyesight, skin and immune system. Foods: Orange colored produce such as tomatoes in salsa, carrots and mango.

Vitamin C: “The Quarterback” – lead player in looking and feeling good by supporting immune system, wound healing and healthy skin. Foods: Citrus, strawberries, bell peppers and tomatoes found in salsas! Hey add some chopped orange segments to the salsa too.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fresh Start Diet

Looking to lose weight this year? It remains one of the most popular resolutions. But research shows the most successful dieters -- those who lose weight and keep it off for the long haul -- practice healthy eating and exercise habits all year long. They don’t have New Year’s diet resolutions because they don’t make big promises that are impossible to keep. For instance, if you’ve ever vowed on January 1st that “I’ll never eat ice cream again!” or “I’ll never order French fries again!” you made one of the biggest New Year’s diet mistakes -- biting off more than you can chew. Instead, set a time limit or portion limit. “I’ll only eat French fries once a month.” Or “I’ll only eat ice cream in a really small bowl.”

Whether it’s the last week of January or first day of June, there’s no time like the present for new beginnings. Here’s a simple guide to help you hit the reset button on food and fitness habits. Follow these FRESH start rules to launch a healthier new you.

Garden Fresh Flavors

F- Freshen up your food life - Think fresh fruit and veggies first. Fill up your plate with produce and go beyond the usual broccoli and green beans. Restaurant chefs are more creative than ever before with vegetable side dishes. A recent lunch at Farmstead restaurant in St. Helena, Calif. was a sensible serving of sole with lots of braised carrots and fennel lightly sauced with lemon and butter. Delicious vegetable sides at Valenza in Brookhaven include braised kale and roasted cauliflower. In veggies and grains, fiber adds good health and helps you feel full longer. So choose whole grain breads, pastas, pizza crusts and go for the brown rice instead of white. Think whole grains! The nutty flavors are palate pleasing in granola bars, cereals and your favorite shape of pasta. Sunbelt Bakery makes the best raisin and date granolas for breakfast!

R- Recognize barriers - Embrace and understand your favorite food splurges. Whether it’s chocolate cake or pasta with cheese sauce, it’s going to be tough to say ‘no’, so accept the power of your splurge foods and resolve to enjoy them in small quantities. Use a small plate to serve yourself. Research shows your mind will think it looks like a lot more food than the same amount on a large plate. Crave the bubbles in soft drinks but want something healthier? Make your own at eateries by asking for club soda mixed with a splash of orange juice or pomegranate juice.

E- Enjoy the taste of eating right – Did you know that steamed shrimp, roast beef, sirloin steak, Canadian bacon, boiled eggs, barbecued chicken and roasted pork loin are all diet-friendly lean protein choices? Feel free to add low-cal flavor with mustards, horseradish, cocktail sauce, hot sauces and salsas. Get excited about the crunch of fresh vegetables in a salad, not the croutons! The green salad served at Bistro Niko in Buckhead features the peppery punch of radishes.

S- Start new habits - Keep a list of what you’re eating and drinking for a few days. Be as specific as possible on types of foods and amounts. Don’t know what a cup of mashed potatoes looks like? Get some measuring cups out and become familiar with portion sizes. This snap shot will help you keep track of over eating and while you’re at it -- write down your physical activity. Or literally take a snap shot of meals and snacks with your phone. Research shows those who are mindful of what they eat are more successful with weight loss goals.

H- Have a plan – Eat breakfast. Schedule time to take a walk or go to that yoga class. If you’re eating out tonight, eat less at lunch and walk more tomorrow. If there’s a road trip on your schedule, pack fresh fruit and a whole grain granola bar such as the ones from Sunbelt Bakery under 150 calories per serving. Curb your hunger so you aren't tempted to stop at a fast food joint. Successful long term weight control is a balancing act.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Of diets and detox

Weighty Nutrition Truths 
Talk about taking one for the team!

While millions of Americans try to eat less to weigh less, a group of 25 healthy volunteers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge agreed to pig out in the name of science by consuming nearly 1000 extra calories a day. Their mission was to help weight control researchers figure out if weight gain varies from person to person when they over-eat and how much is stored as body fat.

Did they all gain weight? Yes, they each packed on nearly eight pounds of body fat. But, the total number of pounds gained – as measured on a scale - was dependant on the percentage of protein in their meals. The group eating less protein gained less weight.

As reported in this month’s Journal of the American Medical Association eating a low protein diet (5% of calories from protein) causes the body to lose more lean body tissue compared to a normal (15% of calories from protein) or a high-protein diet (26% of calories from protein). The low-protein group gained half as much total weight as the other groups but it was due to muscle loss not because they stored less fat. In fact, Dr. George Bray, the study leader, reports that the low-protein group stored more than 90 percent of the extra calories as body fat. So, the numbers on the scale aren’t a good guide to tell you where the pounds are going.

More Protein?

Based on these new findings, there’s more reason to pay attention to protein. That doesn’t mean you have to mainline meats or protein powders. The USDA’s My Plate guidance to eat 6 to 8 ounces of protein foods a day is what’s recommended to protect your muscles. Unfortunately, research studies such as this one from Bray often get misinterpreted and misunderstood. Some may conclude eating more protein will help you lose weight; others might think limiting protein aids weight loss. Neither assumption is true. What is true is that over eating regardless of the food source leads to fat storage. No protein miracle cures, sorry.

Understanding Studies

“We get information in snippets about a study,” says Atlanata resident Robert Davis, PhD, author of Coffee is Good for You: the Truth about Diet and Nutrition Claims. “What is the whole picture? To look at a puzzle we must put all of the pieces together.” Davis’ new book debunks popular myths and points to what’s proven. He says nutrition scientists are closer to the truth now more than ever but many people are still misled by unfounded food fads such as “detox” diets. “Your body does not need to be detoxed,” says Davis referring to severely restrictive juice cleanses and regimens often including laxatives and herbal supplements. “Repeated and prolonged detox dieting can potentially lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, muscle breakdown and blood sugar problems.” If a “detox” plan leads to weight loss he says it’s because you’re cutting back on calories. The book includes a valuable explanation of the types of research used to study health from preliminary test tube studies to gold standard randomized clinical trials – the kind used by Bray in his weight gain research.

Monday, January 2, 2012

DishOnDieting: Time to Delve into 2012!

DishOnDieting: Time to Delve into 2012!

Time to Delve into 2012!

Tasty and Healthy Food Trends for the New Year

Can’t decide between a side of the down home locally grown vegetables or the international taste adventure of a Korean kimchee? Then you’re smack dab in the middle of two colliding culinary trends predicted for the New Year. We want the world, but we want to support local farmers and producers.

Chef Micah Willix of recently opened Latitude Food and Drink in Buckhead has found a way to satisfy both of those cravings. His globally inspired cuisine is a delicious mélange of flavors from the Mediterranean, Asia and South America all featuring many ingredients from around the southeast.

Chef Micah Willix with guests at Latitude
Latitude’s pan roasted Louisiana redfish is served with quinoa, tangerine and local winter squash; the freshly ground lamb and beef burger acquires an Italian accent with rosemary aioli and arugula. Willix says, “Latitude will be an opportunity for me to explore more options of different cuisines and cultures, but I still want to cook and create dishes that are simple and close to the source.”

Farmer Dave Taylor's Chefs' Garden for Old Edward's Inn  

More farmers on the menu. The National Restaurant Association’s annual “What’s Hot?” menu trend survey of chefs places locally sourced meats, seafood, produce as well as alcoholic beverages in the top ten for 2012. Dietitian Joy Dubost, director of Nutrition & Healthy Living for the NRA says, “Local farms and food producers have become an important source of ingredients for chefs and restaurateurs wishing to support the members of their business community and highlight seasonal ingredients on menus.”

Nutrition plus: organic and locally grown produce often tastes the best.

World Tours- “Cooking is at a crossroads where everything collides!” according to restaurant consultant, Michael Whiteman of Baum & Whiteman. Their 12th annual menu trend prediction list says from tortillas to tarragon we still want the world on our plates, “The wilder, the better. After all, if your new car’s parts come from around the world, why shouldn’t your sandwich ingredients?”

Just a tiny taste of the spice selection at the Culinary Institute of America Napa Valley campus! 

Nutrition plus: Borrowing from the world’s spice cabinet from Spanish saffron to Indian curry powders you can add flavor to food without as much salt.

Healthy Kid Stuff- Children’s menus continue to get an overhaul in 2012. Dubost says, “Nutrition - especially when it comes to children – is becoming a major focus for the nation’s nearly one million restaurants, in tune with consumers’ increasing interest in healthful eating.” The NRA’s annual convention in 2012 will feature a new Healthier Kids Fare Pavilion to showcase healthful children’s options.

Nutrition plus: The NRA’s Kids Live Well program helps restaurants develop menu items that meet specific and strict nutrition criteria.

Veggie Variety- Side dishes continue to gain gourmet steam as chefs put more effort into quality and quantity of choices. Willix’s warm beets with tarragon and smoked fingerling potatoes are show stoppers.

Nutrition plus: easier to eat your vegetables.

Gulping the Garden- Think way beyond the Bloody Mary as kitchens and bars continue to collaborate in 2012. The category of “culinary cocktails” made the NRA’s list of top trends. Mixologist Thomas Keenan at the Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, North Carolina creates refreshing blends of beet juice, broccoli, cucumber, herbs and edible flowers get a kick from vodka, tequila, rum, brandy or moonshine.

Nutrition plus: The drinks are made with vitamin and antioxidant rich fresh fruit and vegetables.

Would you like a little or a lot?

Have it Your Way- Expect an easier time asking for ‘sauce on the side.’ Mintel Research predicts more consumer control in 2012 as customized ordering systems will continue to flourish, as will greater flexibility in menu design.

Nutrition plus: Special menu requests help you control the salt, fat and calorie content of your meal. Gluten free choices more mainstream too.