Snacks: 60 Simple 100 Calorie Options

100 calorie snacksThe holidays have arrived. You don’t want to gain ten pounds this season. So, you are trying to be mindful about your eating habits-including snacking. By setting a 100 calorie limit for snacks, you are sure to stay on track with your diet and weight management. Smart snacking strategies work during the holidays and really all year long. Personally, I think that to make snacking options really work for a person, they need to be super easy. While Pinterest and the rest of the internet have many great snack recipes, it’s nice to have 100 calorie diet snack options that are NOT recipes! Sometimes, it’s necessary to make snacking fast and effortless! Any preparation beyond getting to the grocery store and simply eating the snack may actually be a mental roadblock. With no recipes or preparation, these 100 calorie simple snacks will help straighten out your eating quickly.

Some of these 100 calorie diet snacks are easily purchased in prepackaged servings. Other 100 calorie diet snack options listed here just combine simple foods. Or, it might be necessary to count certain food items to reach the 100 calories. There are no recipes, just 60 easy 100 calorie simple diet snacks.

Benefits of snacking

Snacking can prevent you from overeating. By incorporating a snack into your day, you can offset a downward blood sugar spiral which could lead to severe hunger. Untamed, severe hunger can lead to a calorie binge that was not anticipated. You will simply eat too much, too quickly, and possibly the wrong foods if you become ravenous. It’s always best to avoid that scenario so you avoid eating the whole kitchen. Strategically placed snacks throughout the day do more than raise your blood sugar to prevent overeating. They can also be a significant source of nutrients-depending on what snacks you opt for. There are many “treat” type snacks noted below, but there are many 100 calorie options noted that are high in nutrients. By adding several planned snacks to your daily eating regimen, you are more likely to meet your overall nutritional requirements.

By choosing more of the nutrient dense options, your snacks can contribute specific key nutrients and have a huge impact on your biochemistry. If you opt for fruit and vegetables as snacks, you’ll be getting more fiber, potassium, and phytochemicals into your diet. If you opt for protein rich snacks, you’ll be satisfied for a longer time period because the protein stabilizes your blood sugar levels. As far as your sweet tooth, sometimes it just needs to be satisfied, right? Knowing how to stop the sweet tooth snack attacks at 100 calorie will be helpful for all your weight and health goals!

100 calorie snacks that are salty and/or crunchy- 20 options

100 calorie diet snacks

  1. 1 bag of Skinny Pop popcorn
  2. 25 baby carrots
  3. 2 celery stacks with 1 Tbsp. reduced fat peanut butter
  4. 20 dill pickles
  5. a medium sized apple
  6. pretzels, 3/4 oz.
  7. 25 pistachio nuts
  8. 40 raw almonds
  9. 11 cashews
  10. 16 peanuts
  11. 2 Tbsp. roasted chickpeas
  12. Simply Quinoa Chips, 3/4 oz.
  13. Soy nuts, 3/4 oz.
  14. 15 Tostitos tortilla chips plus 2 Tbsp. salsa
  15. 5.5 ounces of tomato juice plus 1 oz. vodka, plus 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  16. 3 Tbsp. toasted and salted sunflower seeds
  17. Pirate Booty, 3/4 oz.
  18. Amy’s Minestrone Soup, 1 cup
  19. Trader Joe’s Pickled Beets, 3/4 cup
  20. 28 Veggie Straws

100 calorie snacks for your sweet tooth- 20 options

snacks for sweet tooth, waffle with whipped cream

  1. Low fat waffle, 5 strawberries, aerosol whipped cream
  2. 10 jelly beans
  3. 27 M & Ms
  4. 4 Hershey Kisses
  5. 1 oz. box of raisins
  6. 4 large marshmallows
  7. Ice cream float made with diet soda and 1/2 cup ice cream
  8. 11 Frosted Mini Wheat Biscuits
  9. 2/3 cup Honey Nut Cheerios
  10. 2 fig bars
  11. Baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon, stevia, and spray of whipped cream
  12. 3/4  cup skim milk sweetened with 1 Tbsp. Hershey’s Lite Syrup
  13. Medium sized banana (4.2 ounce)
  14. 20 strawberries with 2 Tbsp. aerosol whipped cream
  15. 2 cups of watermelon
  16. Salerno Butter Cookies, 4
  17. Rice Krispie Treat, 1 package
  18. 1/2 cup strawberry Halo Top Ice Cream
  19. 60 grapes
  20. Creamsicle, 1 bar

Protein rich snacks for about 100 calories- 20 options

high protein 100 calorie snacks

  1. 3 oz. cooked shrimp plus 1 Tbsp. cocktail sauce
  2. Hard boiled egg, Extra Large
  3. One cup low fat milk
  4. 2 oz. cooked chicken
  5. 2 oz. flank steak
  6. 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 4% milkfat
  7. 1/4 cup cottage cheese, 4% milkfat, plus 5 oz. cantaloupe
  8. 1 oz. brie cheese or provolone cheese
  9. 2 slices of 2% milkfat American cheese
  10. Yoplait Greek Lemon Yogurt, 1 container
  11. Oikos Mixed Berry Yogurt, 4.5 ounces
  12. 1/2 cup light tofu
  13. 1 string cheese
  14. Belgioioso fresh mozzarella balls, 1 oz. plus 2 water crackers
  15. tuna packed in water, 4 oz.
  16. 2 Tbsp. humus plus one whole carrot
  17. Edamame, 1/2 cup
  18. 2 wedges Laughing Cow Extra Light plus 2 Melba Toast
  19. Babybel Light Cheese & Crackers prepackaged snack
  20. 1 Luna high protein bar

I hope you enjoyed this list of snack options for your salt cravings, sweet tooth, and protein fixes! Snacking can be an important part of a high quality diet. Choosing your snacks wisely can increase key nutrients in your diet. It can reign in your sweet tooth to help manage your weight. And, it can even help stabilize blood sugar to curb hunger and control diabetes. These are great options to add to your eating plan to round out your taste preferences without rounding out your waistline! If looking for a few less calories, check out 50 calorie snacks!

 

 

A Diet High in Fiber: A Solution for Many Health Problems

fiber how to get enough

Fiber does a lot for your health. If you are skipping this key nutrient, then you are missing out on a lot of potential health benefits. People that eat more fibrous foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lentils are statistically healthier. And, the impact is not just on the digestive tract. Beyond the gastrointestinal tract, it affects cancer risk, immunity, and helps stabilize blood and cholesterol levels. And, it even helps with weight loss. As fiber rich foods are a key source of phytochemicals and anti-oxidants, they are important in fighting inflammation in the body. With so many health benefits, let’s check out how much we need and how to get enough. Once you know how much to eat and where to find it, you can reap the health benefits of a diet high in fiber.

Requirements

Requirements vary by gender and age. Adult women up to 50 years of age need 25 grams. After 50 years of age, requirements decrease to 21 grams. Adult men up to 50 years of age need 38 grams. After 50 years of age, requirements decrease to 30 grams. And, what about eating more than the requirement? You should be aware that excessive fiber intake beyond these recommendations may actually be harmful for some. Too much dietary fiber limits absorption of: iron, zinc, and calcium.

Impact on health of a diet high in fiber

fiber impact on health

Constipation

Fiber help moves your food through your digestive tract by softening the stool. Some types of fiber swell (soluble) when exposed to water. In the digestive tract, this causes your bowel movements to soften, easing the constipation. Other types of fiber that are coarser (insoluble) will stimulate the colon to make mucous and water, which also enlarges and softens the stool.

Gut bacteria benefits from a diet high in fiber

Fibrous foods are a source of prebiotics for your gut bacteria. Prebiotics are essentially the food or fuel for gut bacteria. It’s important to feed your gut bacteria because a healthy balance of bacteria has the potential to have a huge impact on your overall health. While researchers have known for some time that the mix of gut bacteria can affect our digestion and immunity, it’s becoming apparent that there’s more to it. In fact, gut bacteria may affect metabolism, heart disease, and even mood.

Diverticulosis will benefit from a diet high in fiber

If you have this condition, then you have pouches known as diverticula that balloon out from the colon wall (see photo below). This should not be confused with diverticulitis, which is the same pouches that are inflamed or infected.

diverticulosis and fiber benefitWhen you eat enough fiber, it pushes on the muscular colon from the inside out. The pushing outwards of the colon wall will eliminate or shrink the pouches, and reduce the diverticulosis. As the pouches lessen or decrease in size, there is less likelihood of inflammation or infection occurring. And, random food particles from corn, nuts, and seeds will not readily lodge themselves in the colon as these pouches shrink. Think of the fibrous foods as free weights for your colon! The colon is a muscle, and the fiber will work it and push it outward.

Cancer and fiber

There is a decrease in colon cancer risk as dietary fiber consumption increases. Fibrous foods may protect against certain cancers by binding, diluting, or removing cancer causing agents from the body.  As fiber speeds up the time it takes food to move through the digestive tract, cancer causing agents that might be in our food are removed more quickly from the body. This decreases the amount of time a cancer causing agent is in contact with the body, and reduces cancer risk. Alternatively, the abundant phytochemicals found in fibrous foods may be protective from cancer. These phytochemicals may also decrease inflammation, which is thought to be the root of all diseases and even the aging process.

Blood sugar benefits from a diet high in fiber

It’s well known that fiber can affect blood sugar levels and have a positive impact on diabetes management. When low fiber foods are eaten, blood sugar levels rise rapidly. When high fiber foods are eaten, blood sugar levels rise much slower. For instance, eating a piece of low fiber white bread would cause a sharper spike in blood sugar than eating a slice of high fiber whole grain bread.

Blood cholesterol

Fiber can almost act like a sponge when it comes to blood cholesterol levels. It can bind to cholesterol and bile acids, which are made from cholesterol. By binding to both, they are removed from the body in your poop! This makes the body resort to using the cholesterol from the blood to make more bile acids. In doing so, blood cholesterol levels are automatically lowered as they are used up to produce more bile.

Weight control is helped by a diet high in fiber

Who doesn’t want to lose weight and feel full? That’s what fiber helps with. The actual fiber in food passes through your digestive tract and is excreted. It contains no calories. The calories in fibrous foods, such as apples, come only from the natural carbohydrates in the apple. But, that calorie free fiber does make one feel full. And, remember, blood sugar levels will stay elevated for a longer time period. Hunger kicks in when blood sugar levels drop, so by keeping your blood sugar elevated for a longer time period you’ll feel less hungry. Less hunger can mean better weight control!

fruits and vegetables for fiber

How to get enough fiber with fruits and vegetables (3 or more grams per serving)

  • raspberries, 1 cup has 8
  • 1/2 cup cooked lentils have 8
  • blackberries, 1 cup has 7.6
  • black beans, 1/2 cup has 7
  • pear, one medium whole has 6
  • garbanzo beans, 1/2 cup have 6
  • 3 oz. of avocado have 5.7
  • baked beans, 1/2 cup has 5.5
  • 1 apple, medium whole has 5
  • hummus, 2 Tbsp. have 3.7
  • blueberries, 1 cup has 3.6
  • carrots, 1 cup chopped has 3.6
  • banana, medium has 3
  • celery, 3 stalks have 3

How to get enough fiber with whole grains (3 or more grams per serving)

  • Awake High Fiber Bran Buds, 1/2 cup has 17
  • Kashi Golean Cereal, 1.2 cup has 13
  • All Bran, 1/2 cup has 12
  • Ezekiel Cereal, 1/2 cup has 6
  • Shredded Wheat, 1 cup has 5
  • Flax Plus, 0.8 cup has 5
  • Natural Ovens, Everything Bagel, 1 Bagel has 5
  • Orowheat High Fiber bread, 1 slice has 5
  • Natural Ovens, Whole Grain bread, 1 slice has 4
  • Oatmeal, 1 cup has 4
  • Barley, cooked, 1/2 cup has 3
  • Wild Rice, cooked, 1 cup has 3
  • Cheerios, 1 cup has 3

How to get enough fiber from a breakfast bar (3 or more grams per bar)

These products do not have the nutritional quality of the above list, but they can be used to fill in as needed. If you are going to indulge in a breakfast bar or snack bar, I always say get some important nutrients while indulging. I’ve even used some of the sweeter bars as a dessert!

  • Quest Bar has 17
  • Fiber Love Bar has 12
  • Fiber Plus Protein Bar, Kellogg’s has 7
  • Cliff Luna Bar Peanut Butter Strawberry has 7
  • Isagenix Fiber Snack Bar has 6
  • Meleluca Bar has 6
  • Fiber One Bars, all varieties have 5
  • Fiber Now Bar, Millville has 5
  • Advocare Bar has 5
  • Meta Health Bar has 4
  • Special K Fiber Bar has 3

Easy ways to improve your fiber intake

Consider focusing on a plant based diet. Emphasizing more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will automatically improve your fiber intake. Keep in mind there is absolutely no fiber in meat or pure fat (sorry keto diet fans). Use lentils on salad and in soups. Mix vegetables into noodle dishes. Add grains like oats into recipes such as meatloaf. And, consider making your own smoothies.

Adjusting to increased fiber

Go slowly when you start adding fiber to your diet. It can take some time for your gut to adjust and you may feel gassy at first. If a particular food seems to cause a lot of gas, move on to another food with fiber. All foods will not cause the same amount of gas in all people. You need to experiment to find the best foods for your gut. Lastly, be sure that as you increase your fiber you also increase your fluid intake at the same time. This will keep your food moving nicely through your digestive tract!

Take away messages

Skipping this key nutrient will have a negative impact on your health. For gut health, it reduces constipation and diverticulosis. It also feeds your gut bacteria which can impact your overall health. It’s able to help regulate both your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. And, for many, it’s a perfect tool for weight loss. The fiber helps fill you up, providing that full feeling to help manage your appetite.

Anyone have any great high fiber recipes to share? I’d love to add to this post.

Healthy College Eating: Tips From a New Grad

Written by Tess O’Brien and Edited by Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN
hleathy college eating tips

Now that you’ve been in college for a few months, you may find it challenging to eat healthy. Based on my experience, I often blamed my irregular schedule, super-tight budget, lack of sleep, and insubstantial meal plan. Adjusting to the college lifestyle is not easy and it may seem that weight gain or “malnutrition” are inevitable. However, utilizing tips for healthy college eating will help you be mindful in seeking healthier, accessible options on campus.

The first few years: on-campus living and dining hall tips

During your first year at college, you may be living in a 130-square foot dorm room that doesn’t provide you with many options for food storage. It is also common for 1st year and on-campus students to depend on a meal plan that is strictly valid for dining halls which are not typically recognized for providing nutritious options. Thus, the first year or two of college are probably the most difficult time to achieve a healthy eating routine, let alone adjust to a new style of eating altogether. Here are some personal tips for healthy college eating that helped me during the initial years spent eating dorm food.

My personal tips for healthy college eating as you begin college

  • Keep a loaf of whole grain bread in your dorm. Buy peanut or almond butter for your bread.
  • Drink plant-based milk! Milk alternatives such as almond milk can be purchased in single servings. No refrigeration is necessary until the seal is broken.
  • Store canned goods anywhere there’s space.
  • Enjoy a microwaved sweet potato. Poke holes in the skin with a fork, microwave for 5-6 minutes, and top with black beans or salsa!
  • Cold cereals and oats can be stored in a dry environment and last for a long time. These staples are good sources of iron and fiber, which are important nutrients for college students.
  • Buy apples and bananas in various stages of ripeness for snacks.
  • Purchase nuts in bulk. Raw unprocessed nuts are the most nutritious.
  • Pack your mini fridge full of fruits and vegetables!
  • Buy green or herbal tea bags and microwave water as the boiling/heating method.
  • Most dining halls provide a salad bar, so utilize it and add as much color to your plate as possible. Color is key to a healthier diet.
  • Skip the heavier salad dressings. Instead, opt for a more vinegar-based dressing. Try red wine vinegar mixed with a small amount of olive oil and seasonings.
  • Add beans (kidney or black) or chickpeas to your salad as a source of protein rich fiber.
  • Keep your water bottle full and drink plenty. Aim to skip sugary drinks.
  • Stay focused on portion control to prevent overeating.

The last few years: off campus living and apartment eating tips

healthy college eating tips

You are now living on your own and don’t have to depend on a meal plan or limiting yourself to a mini fridge for perishables. For some of you, retreating from your meal plan may be a relief. You are now free to expand your food options from outside of a dining hall. However, some of you may be uncertain on how to provide yourself with nutritious choices while dealing with a tight financial budget and time constraints. Personally, I was excited to move out of my dorm room and be in charge of my food options. However, I was a non-working, full-time student so I utilized these tips for healthy college eating that worked with my restrictive budget and schedule.

My personal tips for healthy college eating off campus

  • Find restaurants/stores that offer healthy options and student discounts. For example, Sweet Tomatoes gives students 10% off everything you can pack into your bowl at their salad bar!
  • Skip the dairy in your daily coffee and opt for a dairy-free option (almond, oat, coconut, soy). Tip: If there is a Whole Foods near you they don’t charge extra for dairy-free options!
  • Buy foods that can be prepared quickly and taken on the go (oatmeal, pre-made salads and wraps).
  •  I ate a lot of canned soups while in college. My favorite was the Amy’s Organic Soup that was only about $2.50 per can and was enough to fill me up. Be sure to check labels for the sodium content though, as canned soup can be loaded.
  • Always carry healthy snacks with you throughout the day so you aren’t craving junk food when you finally get home from the library. Here’s a list of 50 calorie snacks.
  • Some grocery stores offer a small discount when you bring your own bags to carry your groceries (Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Target).
  • Obviously, alcohol consumption is not healthy and is often referred to as “empty calories” due to the lack of nutrients. If you do choose to drink alcohol, avoid sugary drinks. Instead, opt for a lighter alternative such as a vodka soda with fresh lime.
  • After a few evening alcoholic drinks, treat yourself well. Drink plenty of water, eat foods high in nutrients, and eat a healthy snack before bed!

Grocery store tips for easier healthy eating at a savings

  • Eggs are super inexpensive- even organic and cage-free eggs can be priced around $4.00 a dozen! I’d often hard-boil an entire carton at a time and eat a few of them throughout the day to keep me satisfied.
  •  Buy frozen fruits and vegetables! In fact, frozen fruits and vegetables are actually picked when they’re perfectly ripe so they still have all the nutritional value and flavor. They are also reasonably affordable and easy to store in your freezer for very long periods of time. Frozen fruits are perfect for a fast and nutritious smoothie recipe.
  • Adding a plant-based protein option to your grocery list can be significantly cheaper than buying animal products. While you don’t necessarily have to be a vegetarian to maintain a healthy diet, you can seriously save some cash by going meatless a few days a week.
  • Buy food in bulk such as rice, pastas, and nuts. This will not only save you money, but also save you time consuming trips to the grocery store.
  • If you have roommates, consider investing in a food delivery service (Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, etc.) and splitting the cost. It’s a fun activity to cook your meals together and it’s super convenient! It’s delivered every week right to you with pre-measured out ingredients and instructions on how to make every meal. Also, it will save you a trip to the grocery store, giving you more time to study or have fun with your friends.

Planning your eating at home and out

cooking at home

  • Meal prep is a key strategy! Meal prepping helped me so much in college because after spending long periods of time preparing meals for myself, I felt less tempted to eat out.
  • Obviously you don’t want your healthy eating getting in the way of going out to eat with your friends. I feel I’ve been most successful when I look up the menu beforehand to make sure there is something healthy that I can eat on the menu. If you find there isn’t anything on the menu, you can always suggest a different restaurant or eat a meal beforehand and just order something small. I try to never let my dietary choices get in the way of having a fun night with my friends. When I plan accordingly, I always seem to find an option that works out for everyone. Here are some more tips for healthier dining out.
  • Try to avoid late-night junk food snacks by keeping plenty of healthy snack options at your disposal. You will save money and feel better the next day.
  • Don’t 100% limit yourself to only eating super healthy foods all the time. Treat yourself to your favorites every once in a while. Everything in moderation is key.
  • Lastly, train yourself to bring a reusable water bottle with you everywhere. Drinking enough water and staying hydrated plays a very important role in staying healthy. It’s also great for your skin (more eating tips for great skin)!

Take-Away

While college is all about adjusting to a new and independent lifestyle, it’s OK to have a less than perfect diet. Being on your own and learning how to nourish yourself appropriately are important college lessons too!  A healthy diet is a challenge at college, but key to preventing that feared “Freshman 15.”  Knowing how to make better dorm food choices and provide for healthier food options are important in the beginning of college as you navigate your first few years on campus. As you branch out on your own as an upperclassman, shopping know how and planning are key. Learning healthy eating strategies now will be a useful lesson for your entire life.

Please share your healthy eating tips for college! And, please share this post if you learned something.

Oats: The Good and Bad

oat cereal Oats, including oatmeal, can dish up some serious health benefits. When we think of oat based foods, we typically think of them as being a good source of health enhancing fiber, particularly soluble fiber. By definition, soluble fiber actually dissolves in water. In foods, soluble fiber adds a pleasing consistency. When we eat foods with soluble fiber, we can potentially decrease our blood sugar and cholesterol levels. There is scientific evidence that soluble fiber, once fermented in the gut, can reduce inflammation and even support our immune system. And fiber, in general, fills us up so it’s easier to lose weight! With so many health benefits, why would we hesitate to eat it?

Oats may have gluten

If you need to avoid gluten, not all oat cereal is gluten free. Oats do not contain gluten, but they may become contaminated with gluten if processed with other gluten containing foods. Choose brands of oat based cereals manufactured in a gluten free facility if there is a medical reason to avoid gluten. These products, such as the one in the below photo, can state they are gluten-free. They can state this because there were no other gluten containing products made at the processing facility that could contaminate the oats.

gluten free oatsOats and weed killer

Glyphosate is a weed killer that is sprayed on many of our conventional crops including oat crops. This compound has caused reproductive problems in animals and is thought to be a potential carcinogen in humans. The common weed killer Roundup contains glyphosate.

Published safety limits are hard to find. As is the case with a lot of controversial food topics, it’s hard to get at some of the facts. According to a Consumerlab.com. review, California has set a daily limit of 1100 mcg. In contrast, European countries set a higher adult limit of 34,000 mcg. The same review states a standard 3/4 cup serving of Original Cheerios contained only 32 mcg of glyphosate. If this is still not low enough for your healthy eating strategies, you can always opt for organic versions of your favorite oat based foods. You may not be able to totally avoid ingesting some of the glyphosate, but you can decrease your exposure by going the organic route.

Fungal contamination of oats

Ochratoxin is a fungal toxin found in foods of plant and animal origin. Molds produce the Ochratoxin when exposed to heat and moisture during crop production. Up to 70% of oat-based cereals in the United States have been reported to contain this toxin. And, it’s a compound strongly linked to cancer. According to research, choosing organic over conventional counterparts will not be helpful. Cooking does not destroy this toxin. The best practical risk reduction strategy is watching your portion sizes! This will obviously limit your exposure to the toxin if it’s in the cereal.

The good news: Oat cereal is a good source of fiber and protein

oatmeal labelSo should you skip the oat cereals? I think definitely not! Oatmeal and other oat cereals are a source of healthy complex carbohydrates and a fairly significant source of dietary fiber. A single 40 gram serving of oatmeal has 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. Choosing gluten free organic options and watching portions will go a long way in making sure the oat cereals you choose are the best possible choices for your health.

Oat cereals are low in iron and sugar

And, what may not be readily apparent is the fact that oatmeal is a cereal that is low in iron. While cereal for much of the population is an important source of necessary dietary iron, there are many people that do not benefit from that iron. In fact, the iron may harm their health. Most men and older women should be picking cereals that are lower in iron. And, if your oat cereal is unflavored or plain, the sugar content clocks in at virtually nothing. Given the sugar content of most cereals, that is actually unusual and clearly a nutritional advantage.

Oats are a good prebiotic food

Your gut contains many bacteria that help you stay well. This is frequently referred to as the gut microbiome. The make-up of your individual gut bacteria is unique and hinges, in part, on the types of foods you eat on a regular basis. When you have the right mix of gut bacteria, your immune system is stronger and your digestion is better. While bacteria reside in the gut, people can also consume bacteria known as probiotics. The gut bacteria may be altered to improve overall health when these probiotics are consumed in adequate amounts. Certain foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut are rich sources of probiotics. Probiotics are also available as a supplement (purchasing tips).

Probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics. Prebiotics serve as food for probiotics, assuring their viability. Prebiotic foods are usually rich in fiber. While the fiber is in the digestive tract, the bacteria use it for food. Eventually, the fiber is excreted in digestion, but while in the digestive tract, it plays a crucial role in feeding the gut bacteria. Oatmeal is a classified as a prebiotic food.

Take away

As is the case with many foods, oats are at risk for pesticide and toxin contaminants. Choosing smaller amounts and organic versions of oat cereals can lessen risk from these contaminants. The good news is oats are low in sugar and iron (good for many people). They are a lower calorie source of protein and fiber. That fiber lowers your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and aids in weight loss. And, it’s critical for feeding your gut bacteria. Bottom line, oats are a pretty good fuel for both you and your gut bacteria.

While I like oats for the above reasons, another researcher suggests oats may be the next superfood as they are loaded with anti-oxidants!

If you want to try the very popular overnight oats, the basic recipe is here.

Why do you think oats are healthy? Please share so I can add to this blog. If you learned something from this blog, please share as well.

 

 

Restaurant Dining: A Cost to Your Health and Wallet

Resturant dining and cost

My spouse and I are health conscious because I am a dietitian and not a hypocrite, and his life depends upon it. We regularly visit an area of southwest Michigan, and recently had breakfast at a local diner with great TripAdvisor reviews. Unfortunately, we did not agree with the great reviews on TripAdvisor. Here’s why I think there’s a restaurant dining cost to your health and wallet!

Restaurant dining menu and cost

The menu was limited, but I will be the first to state that this is not necessarily a bad thing. A limited menu may end up focusing on food quality, rather than an abundance of mediocre dishes. The good news here was the staff was more than happy to substitute requested egg whites for whole eggs.

Now the bad news: the nice multi-grain bread was already buttered on the bottom of the toast (so did not realize it until it was eaten), the portions were huge (I know many people want large portions for the money being doled out), and I saw no fruit options on the menu. Other bad news: the bill was $30.00 for what we could have made at home for probably a dollar at most, and made it a lot healthier in a shorter amount of time. This is, in fact, the key issue with dining out on a regular basis.

Restaurant dining cost to your health and bank account

More fat 

If you make the same food at home, you can control the fat in the dish with very simple recipe tweaking. Restaurants don’t typically care about the high fat content in their meals because fat carries flavor and texture. And of course, they want you to return for another meal! You can bank on eating more calories than you anticipated due to the higher fat content. You can also assume that it will be more difficult to meet your weight loss goals.

More calories

And, let’s not forget the simple concept that larger portions, when eaten, yield more calories. Unless you can exercise a lot of self-restraint while dining out, you will most likely eat your whole meal. If you can consistently ask for healthy substitutions such as fruit for fries, you are on the right track. Also, you need to get in the habit of bringing at least half of your meal home. And who doesn’t want that yummy appetizer, dessert, or cocktail while dining out? It’s probably safe to say that if you are eating at home you are not eating those extra high calorie goodies.

Salt in restaurant food

More sodium

If you are fortunate to find a nice restaurant meal low in fat and overall calories, the sodium is probably lurking. I have yet to see a healthy restaurant meal that is low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, calories, and sodium. If you think the sodium content does not matter because your blood pressure is fine, you need to think again. High sodium intakes cause other health problems such as bone loss and are correlated with increased cancer risk. And, if you hop on the scale the next day, you can credit that weight gain of several pounds to fluid retention from all that salt you ate.

More money

My husband made a lower sodium chili on Sunday, and pointed out that the entire pot of chili cost less than a few dollars. Purchasing a bowl of chili at a restaurant would have cost about $6.00. He used half a packet of low sodium chili powder and added additional beans plus veggies, creating a healthier chili.

When you must dine out at fast food restaurants

Ironically, thinking in terms of restaurant food chains rather than non-chain full-service restaurants may serve your health concerns more effectively. Unless you live in a cave, you have seen nutrition information is posted at your favorite fast food restaurant. In 2014, the FDA set into motion new labeling requirements for chain restaurants. By now, all that nutrition information has been available to customers for years. If you pay attention to that posted nutrition information, it can help you make better decisions while dining out. There are lots of helpful websites to start planning for healthier choices. One that I really like is HealthyDiningFinder. Put in your zip code and you can start your search for healthier cuisine.

Casual dining establishments

Consider frequenting casual dining restaurants that actually have a set calorie controlled menu with a lot of choices such as the Cheesecake Factory. While in the past I would have cringed at dining there, they have made great strides with their Skinnylicious menu options. I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty the food was from that menu and ecstatic with all the choices for under 600 calories. I can’t say the sodium was acceptable across the board with that menu, but as I stated, it’s very hard to nail the fat, calories, and sodium content of any restaurant meal.

Full service restaurants

Restaurant dining cost to health and walletClearly, fast food options are not always what we want or need for social occasions. Always try and check out the restaurant menu online prior to arriving there. This will at least allow you an opportunity to avoid split second and thoughtless decisions when ordering. Socializing with friends while trying to order without some prior thought does not usually translate to a healthy choice.

Dining at restaurants without published nutrition information

Looking for plain menu options like a ladies’ cut filet or chicken that is not smothered in sauce might be good options. Add some steamed vegetables and plain baked potato and you’ve made some wise choices. By skipping the appetizers, cocktails, and desserts you are on your way to helping your waistline. And that bread basket is always a problem, right? Ask the wait staff to keep it in the kitchen or move it to another part of the table. And, if portion sizes of your meat based entree are larger than a deck of cards, bring the leftovers home if you are serious about managing your healthy diet. Help yourself with that action by asking for the “doggie” bag at the beginning of the meal!

Final thoughts

While eating out is recreational for many, it should be a treat for special occasions rather than your regular diet. Eating at home more often will result in a healthier diet and bank account. With that stated, here are some additional tips to manage food choices and calories when eating away from home. Eating at home is a win-win scenario, except for the dirty dishes. With all the money you can save, you can buy a new dishwasher!

Do you have any strategies for managing your calories, fat, and sodium while dining out that I didn’t mention? And what recommendations can you share to keep restaurant dining cost to a minimum when you do splurge?

If this blog post was helpful, please share it with a friend!

 

Fast Breakfast Ideas: Easy and Nutritious On the Fly

fast breakfast ideas chocolate chip buckwheat muffins

Grogginess in the morning? You know you should eat some breakfast and not just gulp down java. But, creative and fast breakfast ideas are often limited and with tight schedules, most of us could use some help. Breakfast does not need to be complicated or labor intensive. We just need to do a little thinking a ahead and maybe outside the box. Here are some fast breakfast ideas that are easy and require very little time to pull off.

Nutritionally speaking, there are a lot of important reasons to fuel up in the morning. Research has noted that breakfast eaters have a jump-start on: maintaining a healthy weight, meeting daily nutritional requirements, and performing better physically and mentally all day. However, the issue is always what to eat, how long will it take to prepare, and how fast can it be eaten!

Fast breakfast ideas that are easy and nutritious

Smoothies are a versatile and fast breakfast idea

fast breakfast ideasTry a breakfast smoothie. The most time consuming part of making a smoothie is rinsing your blender!

For my creamy berry smoothie, blend 1.5 cups of blueberries (may start off as frozen and let thaw while in shower), ½ cup 1% milk fat cottage cheese, and ½ cup orange juice in a blender until thoroughly mixed. Yes, add the cottage cheese or cultured cottage cheese. It makes the smoothie thick and gives a very slight “cheese cake” twist to the smoothie along with some major high quality protein.

Each 12 ounce serving has 260 calories, 15 grams protein, 48 grams carb, 2 grams fat, 7 grams fiber, and 275 mg. of potassium.

Muffins made ahead and frozen are a fast breakfast idea

This is about as easy as it gets and you know what’s going into your body. Make ahead of time, freeze, and grab as needed. Let thaw as you shower. Enjoy with some orange juice or low sodium V-8 juice.

Consider making oat bran muffins as a healthy alternative to hot cereal. When evaluating an oat bran muffin recipe consider recipes without dried fruits if you are watching your waistline. Those additional ingredients will make the overall calorie value of your muffin much higher. If a recipe calls for applesauce, that allows for a moister oat bran muffin. Here’s a healthier oat bran muffin recipe.

For those needing a change of pace, I recommend this buckwheat chocolate chip muffin recipe that has gotten great personal and client reviews. The blog photo on top shows what these delicious muffins look like.

Improvise with an English Muffin for more fast breakfast ideas

Toast an English muffin, add one slice low-fat cheese and a slice of Canadian bacon. Now you have an Egg McMuffin, sans the egg, and you don’t need to stop at the drive through and get tempted with those fatty hash browns.

What about English muffin pizza for breakfast? Toast each half to make it crispy. Spread some pizza sauce on each half, some shredded mozzarella, and zap for a few seconds in the microwave. Who doesn’t enjoy pizza for breakfast?

Improvise with a waffle for a fast breakfast

Take your favorite regular or gluten free waffle and smear on some peanut butter. Top with a sliced banana for a nice dose of potassium. Or, instead of peanut butter, melt a slice of your favorite cheese on top of the waffle.

Standby eggs always work as fast breakfast ideas

Consider hard boiling several to grab during the week. Each egg is a nice packet of nutrients and only about 80 calories. Or, consider making small cheese and spinach quiches in muffin pans and freezing. This is one of my favorite breakfast foods of all time for myself and if I am hosting guests. They always freeze great and can defrost in the microwave in seconds. Making that little bit of effort ahead of time in order to grab these will be worth it as you head out the door.

Overnight oats

overnight ats fast breakfast ideasThis takes a little effort the night before, but “little” is the operative word here. This is very easy to toss together the night before, and enjoy in the morning. To prep the basic overnight oat recipe take:

1/2  cup of oatmeal, combine with 1/2 of any type of milk (skim, 2%, soy, almond, coconut, rice, cashew), add 1/2 yogurt or skip the yogurt and use an additional 1/2 cup of milk. Add a pinch of salt and whatever sweetener you desire.This basic recipe can be modified by adding chocolate chips, Nutella, peanut butter, a mashed banana or berries. If you need more of a caffeine jolt on top of your java, add some instant coffee to your oats!

Mix your basic ingredients and your optional ingredients and place in any container with a lid. Mason jars are popular at the moment for this recipe, but any container that can be capped will work. Place in the refrigerator overnight, and you are done. The oats will be ready to eat in the morning. They can be eaten cold, or gently warmed in the microwave if warm oatmeal is your preference. Another advantage of this recipe, as it will last about 4 days in the refrigerator, so it’s not impeative to eat it the very next day.

 No crust  pumpkin pie

crustless pumpkin pie

Crust free pumpkin pie is perfect to start out the day. I bet you didn’t see that one coming as a fast breakfast idea! It’s full of anti-oxidants and with some good quality protein from the eggs and milk used in this recipe. Even my crust free version that does not use splenda is healthy for the whole family. And, it would work to decrease the sugar a bit more in the conventional recipe if you like. When my kids were growing up, I often made this recipe and served it for breakfast. No one was complaining at all. As long as it doesn’t get eaten first, it will last all week. Make it on Sunday night for the work week.

Bottom line, a better breakfast will mean a better you and better day. If you are also thinking of lunch and dinner, here are some other suggestions! 

Do you have a favorite, fast, and healthy breakfast idea? If so, please share so I can add to my blog.

 

 

Concerned About Sugar in Cereal? Pick These Cereals, Not Those

sugar in cereal

When you look at a Nutrition Fact Label, you can see sugars noted on the label. The amount of sugar will be stated in grams of sugar from the product based on the serving size noted on the label. Here’s a quick fact to visualize what those grams of sugar look like if put into a teaspoon. For every 5 grams of sugar, that is equal to one teaspoon of sugar. So, if a cereal has 17 grams of sugar per serving, then that cereal contains over 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving. I think most nutrition professionals would say there is too much sugar in that cereal. At least this one would!

Checking labels for sugar in cereal

Cereal label showing sugar in cereal

So, if you take a look at the Nutrition Fact Label, you can see that a serving of this cereal has only 2 grams of sugar. That sugar content is very low in comparison to most cereal products. It would be a good choice if you wanted to limit your sugar from cereals. While limiting sugars is important, a cereal should be providing other important nutrients such as fiber and iron. For many people, the amount of iron in cereal is particularly problematic and could potentially be harmful to their health.

Drawbacks to lots of sugar in the diet

Sugar is classified as a simple carbohydrate. It is a type of carbohydrate that has virtually no nutritional value other than calories. This is in direct contrast to complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates give us so much more than just empty calories. These foods are significant sources of B complex vitamins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Examples of complex carbohydrates include potatoes, corn, legumes, barley, brown and wild rice, and whole grain derived products. In fact, the cereal chosen to eat for breakfast should be viewed primarily as a complex carbohydrate and should not be a significant source of the other carbohydrate-the simple ones. So, what ‘s the real problem with too much dietary sugar?

The list could go on and on, but here are some highlights:

Sugar in popular cereal, 15 grams or more (3 teaspoons of sugar)

  • Frosted Flakes have 21 grams
  • Raisin Bran Crunch has 19 grams
  • Raisin Bran has 17 grams
  • Lucky Charms have 17
  • Cracklin Oat Bran has 16 grams

Options with 11-14 grams of sugar (2+ teaspoons of sugar)

  • Cheerios Oat Crunch have 14 grams
  • Kashi GoLean Cereal Crunch 13
  • Great Grains have 13 grams
  • Honey Nut Chex have 12 grams
  • Frosted Mini Wheats have 11 grams
  • Kashi GoLean Multigrain Toasted Berry Crisp has 11 grams
  • Cascadian Farm Cinnamon Crunch has 11 grams

Options with less than 10 grams of sugar (less than 2 teaspoons of sugar)

  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch has 9 grams
  • Oatmeal Squares with Hint of Brown Sugar have 9 grams
  • Honey Nut Cheerios have 9 grams
  • Life Cereal has 8 grams
  • Quaker Life Cereal has 6 grams
  • Multi Grain Cheerios have 6 grams

Cereal with 5 grams or less of sugar (1 teaspoon or less of sugar)

  • Grape Nuts have 5 grams
  • Wheat Chex has 5 grams
  • Special K (plain) has 4 grams
  • Rice Krispies have 4 grams
  • Crispix has 4 grams
  • Corn Chex has 4 grams
  • Wheaties have 4 grams
  • Corn Flakes have 3 grams
  • Kix has 3 grams
  • Rice Chex has 2 grams
  • Cheerios (plain) have 1 gram
  • Fiber One has 0 grams

Choosing the best cereal for your individual needs

So, none of us need to be loaded up with sugary cereal. It does not matter how old or young we are, we should be avoiding high sugar cereals! The one exception might be if you count it as a dessert (which I do occasionally).

However, when choosing your cereal, it is also important to consider things like the iron and fiber content. For determining your iron needs and which cereal would be best for your individual health, just check here. This is actually quite important. Iron requirements vary by age and gender, and cereal is fortified for the population needing the most iron. Those needing the most iron are women of childbearing years. The rest of us may actually be exposed to excessive quantities of iron in cereal. This is particularly true for those that like extra large servings. Knowing your iron requirements should always be a guideline for picking a healthy cereal. For other cereal purchasing considerations, refer here.

Take away messages

Sometimes it’s not an easy decision on which cereal to pick. If cutting iron is critical, you may need to be eating a tad more sugar than desired. And, if fiber is a priority, you may need to comprise once again. But, knowing the nutrition facts on your favorite cereal choices can go a long way on choosing the best option for your individual or family needs!

Do you have a great cereal that you enjoy that is low in sugar with the right amount of iron and fiber? Care to share? Speaking of sharing, please share this post if you enjoyed it.

Does Your Cereal Have Too Much Iron? Check the Label and Know Your Needs

cereal with too much iron

This is an update to a popular blog written years ago. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem much has changed with regard to the iron fortification in cereal. Iron requirements for humans have not changed, and many cereals still have way too much iron for certain people. Many people do not need a lot of iron. Those people include all adult males and women who are menopausal. Women of childbearing age require the most iron and iron fortification mandates that this be taken into consideration when setting the amount of iron added to a food in the fortification process. So, some people win on this matter (women that need iron) but, other people are eating cereal and inadvertently eating way too much iron!

Excess iron from cereal and foods in general

Iron is toxic in large amounts. Once absorbed inside the body, it’s difficult to excrete. A healthy person will be able to defend against too much iron absorption in numerous ways. Typically, the body can prevent too much iron from being absorbed by trapping in intestinal cells and then shedding it through digestion. The iron exposure to the intestinal cells can, however, pose a risk for colon and rectal cancer. In healthy people, the hormone hepcidin also swings into action to prevent too much iron from being absorbed. For some with a genetic condition, these safety measures to prevent iron absorption do not happen. Iron overload (technically called Hemochromatosis) then occurs with symptoms of fatigue, abdominal pain, depression, and eventual liver failure, diabetes, and bone damage if left untreated.

For those healthy people that can defend against too much iron, even they can experience the downside of too much iron. Excessive iron is constipating. That constipation can prevent food from moving through the digestive tract efficiently. Food moving through the digestive tract too slowly poses a risk of increased exposure to food borne pathogens and toxins that are present in our foods. As those not so nice things in our food supply linger too long in our gut, we can get sick. It’s so much better for our food to move nicely through our digestive tract rather than taking days to move along!

Gender and age will determine your iron requirements

  • Adult males aged 19 to >70 need only 8 mg/day
  • Adult females aged 19 to 50 need 18 mg/day
  • Once an adult women reaches 51 years of age and older, requirements decrease to 8 mg/day
  • Children aged 1-3 need only 7 mg/day
  • Children aged 4-8 need 10 mg/day
  • Growing adolescent males aged 9-13 need only 8 mg/day
  • Growing adolescent males aged 14-18 need 11 mg/day
  • Females aged 9-13 need only 8 mg/day
  • Females aged 14-18 need 15 mg/day to accommodate growth and menstruation

Avoiding cereal with too much iron

Nutrition Fact LabelCereals with too much iron can be avoided by first checking the Nutrition Fact Label. If you walk down the cereal aisle and start looking at the Nutrition Fact Label on cereal boxes, you will see that some of the most popular cereals are often packed with 50 to nearly 100% of “the requirement”. Remember, iron requirements vary by gender and age. So, the Nutrition Fact Label must select only the iron requirement of the part of the population needing the most iron. Therefore, all the iron percentages on the label are based off the 18 mg recommended for 19-50 year old females as their requirements are the highest!

So, what about a man or older woman who chooses to eat multiple servings of a these cereals in a given day? They would be ingesting much more iron than they need, potentially placing themselves at medical risk over the long run. The solution to this dietary dilemma is to simply know your requirements and choose the cereal that matches your needs. The Nutrition Fact Label reading can get complicated, so I’ve gone ahead and looked up popular cereals and done the calculation to note the iron content per serving so it is easier to review what can work best into your own diet.

Updated iron content of popular cereals

Cereals with less than 3 mg of iron per serving

  • Puffins have < 1mg
  • Kind Healthy Grains (all varieties) have <1 mg
  • Erewhon Brown Rice Cereal has <1 mg
  • Cascadian Farm Cereal Berry Vanilla Puffs Organic have <1 mg
  • Nature’s Path EnviroKidz Panda Puffs Cereal Peanut Butter Organic has <1 mg
  • Nature’s Path Sunrise Cereal Crunchy Vanilla Gluten Free Organic has <1 mg
  • Raisin Bran Crunch has 1 mg
  • Shredded Wheat has 2 mg
  • Kashi Whole Wheat Cereal Berry Fruitful has 2 mg
  • Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes have 2 mg
  • Kashi Golean has 2 mg
  • Nature’s Path Flax Plus has 2 mg

Cereals with 5-9 mg of iron per serving

  • Cracklin Oat Bran has 5 mg
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal has 5 mg
  • Fiber One has 5 mg
  • Frosted Flakes have 5 mg
  • Golden Grahams have 5 mg
  • Honey Nut Cheerios have 5 mg
  • Life Cereal has 7 mg
  • Cornflakes have 8 mg
  • Smart Start has 8 mg
  • Regular Cheerios have 8 mg
  • Kix has 8 mg
  • Wheaties has 8 mg
  • Great Grains Cereal Raisins, Dates, & Pecans have 9 mg

Cereals with greater than 10 mg of iron per serving

  • Corn Chex has 11 mg
  • Special K has 11 mg
  • Rice Krispies have 11mg
  • Cheerios Oat Crunch has 14 mg
  • Grape Nuts have 16 mg
  • Frosted Mini Wheats have 16 mg
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal with Hint of Brown Sugar have 16 mg
  • Total Cereal has 18 mg

Serving sizes and cereal with too much iron

It’s important to take note that the serving sizes of most cereals are only 1/2 to one cup. If someone eats, say double, the above iron numbers double as well. Another little known fact is that if iron rich foods are eaten with a source of vitamin C, the absorption rate of the iron is tripled! Think orange juice with breakfast cereal. And, note that all fruit has vitamin C, so eating berries or melon with your cereal will also triple the iron absorption. This is great for those that have iron deficiencies, but not so great for those that need less iron. And remember, other popular foods are also either fortified with iron or are natural sources of iron. Pasta, bread, lentils, dried fruits, beef, and fish all contain iron. And, the more calories consumed, the greater the dietary iron consumed.

Key points on cereal with too much iron

Know your individual iron requirements. If you are male or an older female, you need much less iron than a younger woman. If you like large amounts of cereal (like me), then make sure you are eating within your recommended limits by picking a lower iron cereal. Cereal is really a healthy breakfast (and can be a creative good dinner, if I’m honest). It can be a great source of fiber and B vitamins, but also a source of too much iron for many except the anemic. Besides the iron content of a cereal, fiber and sugar content should be evaluated when you buy cereal.

If you want to see how your favorite popular cereal stacks up for sugar, click here.

Do you have any favorite low iron cereals you enjoy? If you found this blog post helpful, please share comments and the post itself!

Color of Food: Hidden Secrets to Health?

Color of food: hidden secrets to health?

What does colored food mean to your health?

The color of food you eat can be a huge factor in determining the quality of your diet. The quality of your diet can hold the secret to great health. Foods can range in color from white to black, and everyone should think about how to utilize color when planning healthy meals. The types of chemicals found naturally in foods often determine the color of the food. These compounds are called phytochemicals, which is Greek for plant chemicals. What scientists have come to believe is that these natural plant chemicals serve to protect plants from disease. If we eat the plant, we also get some sort of health benefit. In fact, these phytochemicals are emerging in scientific research as key players in regulating health.

Phytochemicals color your food

The roles of phytochemicals are wide ranging- from protecting our genetic material to fighting inflammation, aging, and disease. In addition to imparting color to our food, they often confer the specific smell a food emits upon cooking, such as that distinctive odor from cooked broccoli or cauliflower. Like hot peppers or the flavors of onions and garlic? It’s all about the phytochemicals present in these foods.

Although we can use color to do a basic “decode” as to which phytochemicals are present in a particular food, it’s important to note that a given food item may have thousands of phytochemicals. For instance, a tomato may have 1000 or more identifiable phytochemicals. Scientists also feel that the phytochemicals found naturally in food actually work together. This would be an argument against taking individual phytochemical supplements. Additionally, it is unclear if supplemental forms of phytochemicals are absorbed as well as the compounds from food.

Color of food: a closer look at what the colors mean

Color of food: secret to your health

 

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Red foods

Lycopene colors foods red. All tomato based foods, pink grapefruit, guava, and watermelon contain lycopene. By acting as a very strong anti-oxidant and cancer fighter, lycopene protects your health. Early research studies have found that men who ate ten or more servings of tomato based foods or other pink/red foods weekly had a significant reduction in prostate cancer. Some studies also suggest lycopene protects against other cancers such as liver, skin, breast, and lung cancers. Newer research suggests the lycopene derived from tomatoes helped human subjects improve their cholesterol levels.

Heat and oil aid in increasing lycopene absorption. Therefore, Italian cuisine that has both tomatoes and oil is a great way to boost your dietary lycopene absorption.

Blue foods

Anthocyanin colors foods dark red to blue. Cherries, blueberries, purple grapes, raspberries, red cabbage, and cranberries are sources of anthocyanin. In addition to being anti-oxidants, anthocyanins also appear to reduce cholesterol production to help keep our arteries clear. Aiding immunity and boosting production of detoxifying enzymes are other possible benefits of anthocyanins.

Blueberries, in particular, have been evaluated for their impact on the brain. Years ago researchers fed chow rich in blueberry extracts to rats, and fewer age related mental changes were exhibited in contrast to rats that ate regular chow. This was the beginning of the “brain superfood” called blueberries. Current research continues to support adding anthocyanin rich foods to the human diet. One recent study supported incorporating blueberry juice concentrate into the diets of older adults of to aid brain function.

Black foods

Polyphenols, along with anthocyanins, help color foods black. Foods rich in polyphenols are also rich in anti-oxidants. Examples of black foods include prunes, dates, blackberries, figs, raisins, black beans, chocolate, and coffee. Dark chocolate is particulary high on the anti-oxidant chart. News every chocoholic loves to hear. And, our morning coffee? Studies have found that coffee polyphenols seem to protect against diabetes and certain cancers such as pancreatic cancer. If you need other beverages high in polyphenols, there is green tea and wine.

Orange foods

Beta-carotene colors foods orange. Beta-carotene is the plant derived form of vitamin A. Once eaten, it’s converted to vitamin A that can be used by the body. Beta-carotene rich foods include cantaloupe, acorn squash, carrots, pumpkin, guava, mango, sweet potatoes, and apricots.

Key health benefits are that it’s another anti-oxidant. It protects the skin, fights infection, regulates genes, and impacts reproduction. In particular, beta-carotene rich foods offer health benefits against various age related eye diseases.  

White foods

White foods like garlic, scallions, onions, and leeks contain the phytochemicals allicin and diallyl sulfide. The smell of garlic after cutting is due to the allicin.. Allicin may protect against certain cancers as well as decrease blood pressure. Diallyl sulfide also seems to offer protection against certain cancers such as stomach cancer.

Green foods

Green foods contain chlorophyll which may mask other colors such as the orange color of beta-carotene. It is safe to say that green colored foods contain a wide array of many types phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, green cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts) all contain sulforaphane. This phytochemial may act by detoxifying cancer causing compounds, limiting production of cancer causing hormones, and preventing tumor growth. Green fruits and vegetables are also sources of phytochemicals known to prevent macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the US in those over 60 years of age.

Color of foods: a menu planning tool

Menu planning for a healthy future must include a rainbow of colors. By making sure there is a lot of color in your diet, you are making sure you get a wide spectrum of phytochemicals into your body. As you age, you then decrease your chances of heart disease, cancer, infection, eye diseases, and cognitive decline. You can’t go wrong with a plate full of color. Its the easiest way to improve the quality of your diet.

Ice Cream Calories: 6 Tips to Lighten Up

tips to decrease your ice cream calories and not increase your waistlineIce cream is a special summer treat. For many of us, summer is the time we went to the local ice cream shop for a special treat on a hot summer day. We did this as kids, and now with your own kids, you may be repeating family traditions. But, if you are like many Americans, it might be advantageous to know how to lighten the calories to help your waistline. If you are not careful, you can easily end up with an ice cream calorie equivalent of a whole day’s worth of calories!

Here are six tips to carry on with your ice cream tradition without increasing your waistline:

Avoid premium ice creams altogether 

A single 6 oz. scoop of premium ice cream can cost you 500 calories. Oberweis chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate marshmallow, chocolate almond, butter pecan, butter brickle, chocolate caramel crunch, cookie dough, and strawberry cheesecake flavors can all claim that calorie content! After you decide on your ice cream, you need to pick a cone or cup. Waffle cones generally have more calories (120-160 calories) than sugar cones (60-130). Pick the paper cup instead and you’ve saved yourself some calories without sacrificing much of the flavor!

Eat like a little kid to lower your ice cream calories

kids eating ice creamCalories and fat will always follow portion sizes, so you can either have a bite of someone else’s treat, or get yourself a kid scoop. A kid scoop is roughly 2.5-3 oz., so you can assume the calories are slashed 50% from the adult version, translating to much more calorie and fat control.

Exercise caution with low-fat and dairy free options

Don’t assume because the ice cream is low-fat that it is fine to have a double scoop! The Oberweis single scoop low-fat flavors range in calories from vanilla at 250 calories to chocolate marshmallow at 300 calories. Do the math and you can see how you might still get into a calorie bind by having a double scoop.

Dairy free ice creams are the current hot rage as the demand for healthier frozen treats has spiraled. These dairy free ice cream treats are made from almond, soy, and coconut milk and some also contain pea protein. While the dairy has been removed, the calories have not. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream roasted peanut butter and strawberry jam flavor yields 17 grams of fat and 270 calories per 2/3 cup. Ben & Jerry’s almond milk chocolate chip cookie dough flavor has 16 grams of fat and 350 calories for 2/3 cup. A better choice would be Talenti brand dairy and fat free mango sorbetto which will satisfy your sweet tooth for only 160 calories.

Avoid the final touches to lower those ice cream calories

Dipping your DQ vanilla cone in chocolate will add anywhere from 100-200 calories to your treat, depending on the size of cone you opt for. Adding  the candy pieces, whipped cream, and nuts will also give you some additional “energy” to the tune of at least 100 calories.

Go for cold alternatives 

Most ice cream franchises have healthier lower fat and calorie options for consumers.Better options include sorbet, low-fat frozen yogurt, and sherbet. Single scoop servings of these frosty alternatives may also be significantly lower in calories. A 4 oz. serving of sorbet can run your calorie tab 80-150 calories. Many frozen yogurt flavors are 150 calories or less per 4 oz. serving. While sherbet is virtually fat-free, the calories can start adding up as a 4-6 oz. single scoop of orange sherbet can run as high as 260 calories. If slashing fat is the objective, sherbet is a good way to go, but the calorie tab may run higher than anticipated.

Go to the supermarket instead 

There are so many frozen treats at your supermarket to take advantage of if you are trying to stay slim this summer. Spend a few minutes looking at the nutrition fact labels and pick a product that suits your palate and nutritional goal. There are many ice cream-like products hitting the mainstream and specialty grocery stores all the time that are both tasty and fit into anyone’s eating lifestyle.

If your full fat treat is a once in awhile treat, enjoy it! But if you frequent ice cream shops, then you’ll help your waistline by paying attention to the type and portion size of treats selected.

What do you opt for at the ice cream store? Can you share the nutrition information of your favorite frozen treat?