Pressure Cooker Chicken Soup: Yummy & Good For You

pressure cooker chicken soup

Homemade chicken soup made in my favorite Cuisinart electric pressure cooker

It seems as though sinus infections, the stomach flu, bronchitis, and muscle aches are making the rounds in my large family and we don’t even live in the same house! I finally found both the energy and time to take out my favorite cooking equipment, my pressure cooker, to make some virus fighting fuel.  We have all heard that even canned chicken noodle soup can help fight a cold, but I was eager and ready to taste the rich flavorful type of chicken noodle soup I could make with my electric pressure cooker. At this point, I decided I would enhance the rich flavor by making the chicken stock base in my pressure cooker rather than using low sodium chicken broth.

Pressure Cooker Homemade Chicken Stock Ingredients

2 pounds of chicken wings
small onion
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
2 bay leaves
5 parsley sprigs
2 quarts water

Cook all ingredients on high pressure for 40 minutes. Use a natural release to continue extracting the flavors. Strain the stock. Cool the stock in order to skim the fat off.  If time is short and you need to use the chicken stock before it is completely cool, use a chilled lettuce leaf to help skim the fat off the stock. The chilled leaf will actually attract the fat in the broth to allow for removal.

On to the Chicken Soup….

  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound of skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups of your homemade chicken stock recipe or 6 cups low sodium packaged chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 cup egg noodles (may substitute rice or orzo)

Saute the celery, onion, and carrots in the tablespoon of oil for a few minutes. Add the chicken breasts, thyme, salt, pepper, and stock or broth. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes; when done release the pressure quickly. Add in the chopped parsley and then cook the egg noodles or other pasta or rice in the hot soup.

In addition to being a “comfort” food, chicken soup will fight inflammation, thin your mucous, and hydrate you which will all hopefully fight whatever ails you!

Do you have a favorite chicken soup recipe?  Interested in more soup recipes?

Legal Disclaimer

 

 

Should You Take Supplements: Facts to Consider

Nutritional supplements

News coverage over the last few days seems to be revolving around the weather, the holidays, and of all things nutritional supplements!  While I can’t comment about most of the current media topics, I do have a few words to say on the topic of supplements! If you listen to the media hype over the last few days, there are some recurring statements from the so-called experts. This begs the question of whether we should be taking supplements.

Expert comments

Some “experts” note our nutrients should come only from food. Others suggest  “natural” whole foods be put into pill form. The truth and correct answers are most likely somewhere in between the black and white statements made by these so-called experts. Unfortunately, not one “expert” ever suggested that each person should be evaluated on a case by case basis. To determine if supplements are right for you, consider these tips:

Supplements fill in dietary gaps

If you eat a healthy diet, there is a fairly good chance you can skip taking pills! If you are lactose intolerant, don’t eat any foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, or are vegan, then you may need a supplement. Consulting a licensed/registered dietitian can help you sort out what you may need to be doing with supplements.

Supplements are of benefit to your health if you have a documented deficiency 

Wondering if you should really be taking vitamin D supplements? You should have a blood test to determine if you need to be taking a supplement. Once blood work is done on my clients, most have turned out to be deficient. Correction of a deficiency is usually easy to do with diet or supplements. For a vitamin D deficiency, sunshine may be the prescription!

Be aware of upper limits of safety 

Many people taking multiple supplements forget they may be doubling or tripling their intake of a nutrient because they are taking multiple pills. Beyond a certain limit, it can be dangerous to ingest too much of a single nutrient. Some nutrients can even be toxic if taken in excess. Your favorite dietitian can be your best resource for this information!

Food is your best source of nutrients 

Mother nature packages foods perfectly with the best combination of nutrients. The mixture of nutrients designed by mother nature work effectively together. With that stated, those people who eat a lot of processed foods and a limited diet may indeed benefit from specific supplements. An evaluation of your diet and eating habits is the best way to move forward with accurate supplement recommendations.

Regulation of supplements

If a supplement is reported as unsafe, the stores are required to pull the product. Until then, it’s buyer beware as the supplement industry is strictly self-regulating. With that stated, the savvy consumer choosing to take supplements should consider well-known brands. Well known brands want to protect their reputation. They  will have high quality control standards. Using lesser known brands may result in lower quality control. Even arsenic and lead have tainted some supplements in the past few decades.

Not all supplements are good or bad. Not all people need them. Consulting a professional to evaluate your diet prior to making recommendations both improves your health and saves you money.

Clean Up Your Dirty Eating in 7 Steps

 

Clean up your dirty eating in 7 steps

You can clean up your dirty diet in 7 simple steps right now.

We are all busy! My new clients all seem to feel like there is no time to “cook”, they eat on the run, and the end result is a poor diet that will eventually impact health and weight. Through my four decades of counseling clients, I have seen the American diet deteriorate to new lows. This blog is for you! Here are 7 tips to clean up your dirty eating right now. They are simple and anyone can start these steps immediately. It’s never to late to clean up your dirty eating habits.

Eat breakfast to begin the clean up your dirty eating fast

By starting the day with healthy fuel, you are more likely to get all your required nutrients for the day. If trying to lose weight, you will use these morning calories more efficiently, and be less likely to store them as fat. You can keep it super simple-a serving of fruit, slice of toast, along with juice or milk. Try a smoothie for a change of pace. There is also the psychology of starting out the day in a positive way. It often snowballs to continuing on a positive trend as the day continues. Starting out the day poorly has the opposite effect as one does not usually improve their diet as the day continues.

Add fruits and vegetables to your day every day and ALL day

Most Americans eat far less than the minimum recommended 5 servings a day. By adding fruits and veggies to your diet, you are adding compounds to your diet that decrease inflammation. Decreasing inflammation can decrease your risk of disease.

Specific compounds called phytochemicals are found primarily in plant based foods. These phytochemicals protect the plant as it grows. When we eat those same plants, the phytochemicals serve to protect our health as well. There are many phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables and they have varying roles on our health.

Tackle this step by making sure you eat a serving of fruit and vegetable with every meal and then as snacks and voila, mission accomplished!

Drastically decrease animal protein consumption to really clean up dirty eating

Why? Animal protein is not just protein; it is also a significant amount of saturated fat. By eating less animal protein, you will decrease your intake of fat, particularly saturated fat which is artery clogging and increases inflammation. Additionally, decreasing your overall consumption of red meats such as pork, beef, and lamb will decrease our risk of certain cancers such as colorectal cancer. The American Institute of Cancer Research urges us to limit our consumption of red meat to NO more than 12-18 oz. per week. 

Don’t care or not convinced? Meat products have larger carbon footprints per calorie than grain or vegetable products. Growing plants is just easier on the health of our planet.

Avoid the fast food-restaurant trap

Dining out constantly is a sure-fire way to ruin your diet unless you constantly order salads with low fat dressing and fruit platters. Sounds boring, right? Most restaurant food is much higher in sodium, calories, and fat than the counterpart made or assembled at home. When you eat at home and pay attention to how food is shopped for, prepared, and portioned, you are completely in the driver’s seat. When you go to a full service restaurant, the chef in the kitchen is in the driver’s seat.

Don’t be afraid of some convenience foods in the grocery store

I can almost guarantee that if you eat some brands of frozen dinner such as Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine, you will be better off than going to the local fast food chain or diner. Why? The meals are portion controlled; you know what you are eating because you can see a Nutrition Fact Label. We have been brainwashed to think that these meals have too many chemicals, etc. There are many nutritional advantages to these items as a back up to a chaotic schedule that necessitates relying on dining out to get your meals consumed. And, it is cheaper.

Meals can be large snacks that do not require cooking

Throughout the years, clients have told me that they would eat cereal for dinner because they are too tired to cook. I think those same clients expect me to say “how awful”, when I actually tell them this is not a problem. A bowl of cereal along with skim milk or milk alternative and a nice serving of fruit is actually a nice low-calorie and low-fat meal providing protein and carbohydrates in reasonable quantities. You can also just serve yourself a smoothie made with frozen fruit and throw in some yogurt or cottage cheese to bump up the protein content.

Track your food to really clean up your dirty eating

Better yet, track your diet with a really good app like MyFitnessPal. It will allow you instant analysis of what you are eating, and more importantly, makes you face the music. ALL my clients that have been tracking their food with this app are eating better and losing weight if that was the objective. Even if you are seeing a nutrition counselor, tracking your food forces you to be accountable to yourself between appointments. This app is free and my favorite, but there are many options available.

Bottom line to clean up your dirty diet

Start the day with a healthy breakfast .Don’t delude yourself into thinking it is too time consuming. Eat less meat (sorry keto people) and a lot more fruits and vegetables. Be in control of your diet by eating out less, and doing your own meals at home. Consider packing a lunch and snacks to bring to work. You do not need to cook as you can capitalize on all the foods available in grocery stores. Consider using already cooked foods and healthier versions of frozen dinners which provide ease and portion control.

If you enjoyed this post, please share. I am trying to increase my readership.

Do you have other easy and practical tips on how you cleaned up your diet?

Lower Blood Pressure Naturally: Eat This Nutrient!

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), having high blood pressure (hypertension) puts you at risk for both heart disease and stroke. These conditions are leading causes of death in the United States. About 78 million Americans (32%) have high blood pressure. This contributes to about one million heart attacks and 800,000 strokes each year. The higher your pressure reading, the greater your health risk. Only about half (54%) the people have the condition under control. 

People are frequently unaware they have hypertension as there are no obvious symptoms. For that reason, an elevated blood pressure reading during a doctor of clinic visit might be your first sign of a problem. As pressure readings change frequently, it’s important to keep a regular eye on your blood pressure. In addition to regular blood pressure checks, try to address diet and lifestyle modifications if necessary.

Decreasing stress and lowering weight are two important and effective strategies for addressing this problem. But, there is another little known diet strategy to decrease your blood pressure. That strategy is decreasing your sodium along with increasing your dietary potassium. It’s an easy first step to controlling what is called the “silent killer.”  

Potassium rich foods to lower blood pressure naturally

lower blood pressure with potassium rich foods

Fruits and vegetables are a source of nutrients important in lowering your blood pressure.

We’ve all heard that reducing sodium intake can help lower blood pressure. What consumers are less aware of is that decreasing the salt in your diet may be only 50% of what you need to do to prevent high blood pressure and stroke risk. The rest of the story has to do with eating enough potassium rich foods. Potassium is found primarily in unprocessed whole foods. Consequently, it’s easy to get to the 4700 mg recommended potassium intake when eating lots of calories and unprocessed foods.

However, if you limit your calories and eat a lot of junky processed food, it’s much harder to reach your potassium recommendations. In order to get the most potassium for the least amount of sodium, consider eating the listed foods. In addition to being loaded with nutrients to lessen stroke and heart attack risk, these foods are high in fiber to fill you up. It’s noteworthy, that all that extra fiber is a great way to control appetite and shed a few pounds as well. Finally, weight loss can be very important in decreasing blood pressure.

  Potassium rich foods that are also low in sodium

Potassium (mgs)                    Sodium (mgs)

One medium potato                                       926                                            17

One cup winter squash                                  896                                             2

One cup low sodium V-8 juice                       820                                          140

½ cup pitted dates                                         584                                              2

One cup low sodium tomato juice                 556                                             24

½ cup spinach                                                510                                            25

3.5 oz. sweet potato                                       398                                             68

½ cup kidney beans                                       370                                              1

One small banana                                          362                                              0

1/3 avocado                                                    356                                              2

½ cup prune juice                                           353                                              5

½ cup uncooked oatmeal                               335                                              2

1.5 oz. box raisins                                           322                                             5

3 oz. cooked beef or chicken                          290                                           47

½ cup cooked broccoli                                    278                                           29

One cup raw sliced mangos                           257                                            3

¼ cup wheat germ                                           256                                           3

½ cup any melon                                              242                                          27

4 ounces orange juice                                      240                                           1

½ cup cooked carrots                                      183                                           45

One oz. walnuts (14 halves)                            125                                            1

One tablespoon ground flaxseed                       82                                            4


By choosing more of these foods, you will slash your sodium while boosting your potassium. This boosts your chances of steering clear of stroke and heart attacks by normalizing your blood pressure! And, you may be able to eliminate or decrease your use of medication.

Legal Disclaimer

Caffeine Kids: Is There Too Much in Your Kid’s Diet?

caffeine kidsReviewed by Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN and updated December, 2019

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, on a given day in this country, 73% of kids are exposed to caffeine. So, if your kids are coming across as a bit too “energized,” it might be time to investigate how much caffeine is getting into your kids! Caffeine and similar chemically structured compounds are hidden in many common foods eaten by kids. While Johnny may not be drinking Starbucks in the morning, there are lots of opportunities for kids to get caffeine-like stimulants into their bodies. Caffeine, and another similar dietary compound called theobromine, are commonly found in foods we unwittingly give our kids. In the past, soda was a consistent source of caffeine in kids’ diets. Now, more common sources are energy drinks and even coffee products that are being eaten by kids.

Health implications of too much stimulant

Too much caffeine or theobromine can have negative health consequences for adults and kids alike. In both adults and kids, too much caffeine can cause:

  • an upset stomach and diarrhea
  • headaches
  • nervousness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • trouble sleeping
  • elevated blood pressure
  • faster heart rate
  • dehydration

Upper limit of caffeine for kids

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not set guidelines for safe limits of caffeine in children (for adults, the FDA cited a limit of 400 mg as safe). The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of caffeine and other stimulants in any amount. The Canadian government, however, has made some set daily limits for caffeine exposure in children. These guidelines are helpful and noted below:

  • 45 mg for kids aged 4-6
  • 62 mg for kids aged 7-9
  • 85 mg for 10-12 year olds
  • Ages 13 and older: limit caffeine to 2.5 mg/kg body weight (Ex.- a 120 pound adolescent should not exceed 136 mg)

Sources of dietary stimulants

caffeine kids

Beverages as a source of caffeine for kids 

Lemonade, bottled teas, non-cola soda, vitamin water, hot cocoa, chocolate milkshakes, and energy smoothies can all contribute varying amounts of caffeine-like stimulants. Because these beverages may be hidden sources of caffeine or other stimulants, read any available labels of all beverages you provide to your child and teen. As a bench mark comparison, keep in mind that a standard cup of drip coffee (8-10 oz.) has about 150 mg. of caffeine. But, if you are a lover of 16 oz. servings of Starbucks, you could be drinking as much as 360 mg for some popular brews. 14 oz. of Dunkin Donuts clocks in at 210 mg.

  • 12 oz. of Coke Zero, Classic Coca Cola, Diet or Regular Dr. Pepper, Sunkist Orange Soda has about 30-45 mg
  • 12 oz. Barq’s Root Beer has 22 mg
  • 12 oz. of Diet or Regular Mountain Dew has 54 mg
  • 8 oz. Arizona Iced Tea, black has 15 mg
  • 8 oz. white or green tea (generic) has about 15 mg-25 mg
  • 8 oz. Starbucks hot chocolate has 12 mg
  • 8 oz. Snapple Lemon Tea has 18 mg
  • 10 oz. Vitaminwater Energy Tropical Citrus has 25 mg

Source: Center for Science in the Public Interest Caffeine Chart (recalculated from this data for some portions noted).

Energy drinks and caffeine use for older kids

Most energy drinks that older kids would be using have between 80 to 300 mg of caffeine per serving. In addition to the caffeine content of these drinks, they are often loaded with calories derived from sugar. Some energy drinks also have inappropriate amounts of B vitamins along with herbs that offer no health benefit. Popular energy drinks with caffeine content include:

  • 5-hour energy (2 oz.) has 200 mg
  • Bang energy (16 oz.) has 300 mg
  • Monster Energy (16 oz.) has 160 mg
  • Rockstar Energy (16 oz.) has 160 mg
  • NOS Energy (16 oz.) has 160 mg
  • AMP Zero Energy (16 oz.) has 157 mg
  • Red Bull (8.4 oz.) has 80 mg
  • MIO Energy, all flavors have 60 mg per 1/2 tsp.

Source: Center for Science in the Public Interest Caffeine Chart (recalculated from this data for some portions noted).

Food sources of caffeine and theobromine

caffeine kids and sources of caffeine

Foods may contain either caffeine or the caffeine-like stimulant theobromine. Chocolate flavored cereals, desserts, ice cream, and candy may have theobromine. Coffee ice cream and yogurt could contain varying amounts of actual caffeine and should be discouraged for children.

  • A 6 oz.  serving of Dannon Lowfat Coffee Yogurt contains a whopping 30 mg of caffeine
  • Starbucks Coffee Ice Cream has 50-60 mg of caffeine per one cup serving
  • 4 oz. Haggen-Daz Coffee Ice Cream has 20 mg
  • Chocolate flavored hazel nut spread (1 Tbsp) has 3 mg

Moving on to candy and other treats, here are some favorites along with the caffeine content:

  • 1 oz. dark chocolate (60-69% cacao solids) has 24 mg
  • 1 oz. Nestle Crunch bar has 13 mg
  • 3 Musketeers Bar (2.13 oz.) has 4 mg
  • 5th Avenue Candy Bar (2 oz.) has 3 mg
  • Mounds Candy Bar (1 bar, snack size) has 3 mg
  • 4 oz. serving chocolate pudding has 2 mg

You won’t typically find the actual caffeine content of these foods listed on any Nutrition Fact Panel, so all you can do is be aware of the potential foods containing caffeine or theobromine.

Source: USDA Nutrient Data Base (2018)

Medications as source of caffeine for kids

Certain adult medications may contain caffeine which speeds pain relief. Examples of non-prescription pain relievers containing caffeine include Excedrin and Anacin. Parents should obviously avoid these medications and choose medications that are caffeine-free. Another medication an adolescent female might take which does contain caffeine is Midol for relieving menstrual cramps.

  • Excedrin Migraine, 2 tablets have 130 mg
  • Anacin, 2 tablets have 64 mg
  • Midol  Complete, 2 tablets have 64 mg

Take Away

Anything that goes in your child or teen’s mouth should be evaluated for stimulants. For kids, beverages such as colas, root beer, and even lemonade can be a hidden source of caffeine. Clearly, energy drinks are a source of caffeine for adolescents, and parents should be mindful of how much their teens might be drinking. Chocolate and coffee flavored foods are also sources of stimulants. For medications, be sure to check the labels and avoid medications with caffeine unless prescribed by a physician. While a little caffeine will not harm your child, if your kid is bouncing off the walls or having trouble sleeping and concentrating, it’s wise to assess if he or she is consuming too much “hidden” caffeine.

Thoughts on how else caffeine gets into our kids’ diets?

Legal Disclaimer

Crustless Pumpkin Pie & Minestrone Soup: Fall Recipes

crustless pumpkin pie recipeToday, some major plans fell through, and I very unexpectedly have the whole day free to tackle my kitchen and food preparation. With the fall chill in the air and mums on the front step, I am in the mood to make some of my favorite “fall” foods. These incude my crustless pumpkin pie and super effortless minestrone soup!

For a healthier sweet tooth fix, consider making crustless pumpkin pie. In my family, we eat crustless pumpkin pie all year-not just during the holidays. This is a slimmed down version, with literally half the calories of traditional pie The trick is to get rid of the crust calories, but still have the pie hold its shape. Using Bisquick mix (and you can use the reduced fat version), you will decrease the calories by 50%. This is a healthy dessert, full of anti-oxidants. You might even want to consider eating this for breakfast! My family uses this as breakfast food all the time.

Slimmed Down Pumpkin Pie Recipe (1/8 pie has about 100 calories)

15 oz. Can pumpkin pie

1 can evaporated skim milk

¾ cup Splenda or 1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. salt

½ cup Bisquick mix

Mix all the ingredients in bowl. Use baking spray and coat a glass pie pan. Add the mixture and bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes, then turn down the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue baking approximately 45 additional minutes.

Soups are another fall favorite recipe. Soups are wonderful in that most can be frozen very well and then pulled out of the freezer for a very quick dinner when time is tight. A favorite soup in our family is quick minestrone. It takes virtually no time to assemble my version of this recipe. This is a true family favorite, and all of my adult children and daughter-in-law really enjoy this recipe. I hope you do as well.

 Very Quick Minestrone Soup (1.5 cup serving has about 200 calories)

1 cup carrots, thinly sliced

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 small zucchini, sliced

one large can (28 ounces) of low sodium chicken broth

1 can light kidney beans (15 ounces), rinsed and drained

1-2 cans of stewed tomatoes

1 cup medium pasta shells, uncooked

1 cup frozen peas or Italian-style beans

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil leaves

Parmesan cheese to top soup (optional)

Directions

Toss all ingredients into a stockpot. Bring to a boil and simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle each serving with parmesan cheese if desired. Serve with whole grain bread and a light salad. This is a meal rich in anti-oxidants and fiber. And, serve some pie along with it.

Enjoy the autumn along with these favorite fall recipes.

“Great” Green Tea: What’s in it For Your Health?

Green tea health benefits and how to prepare

Green tea is probably the one beverage I can think of that can be deemed completely healthy and almost without any controversy!  A search on pub med today just yielded 4688 scientific/medical journal abstracts on green tea. I am not aware of any studies that are critical of green tea regarding health, and scientists have been interested in the potential health benefits of green tea for many decades.

Key anti-oxidant in green tea that promotes health

The compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is found primarily in green tea, and it is the compound that appears to confer the significant health benefits of green tea. This compound is one of four prominent compounds which are strong anti-oxidants present in green tea. Some of the health benefits of green tea include: interfering with cancer cells, lowering lipids, decreasing inflammation, decreasing the risk of blood clots and stroke, and fighting tooth decay.

Caffeine

Many people assume green tea has a lot of caffeine and they opt for decaffeinated green tea. A cup of regular brewed green tea has less than 30 mg of caffeine while a cup of regular brewed coffee (not Starbucks) has 95 mg or more. So, if you are highly sensitive to caffeine, go for the decaffeinated version. But if caffeine sensitivity is not an issue, even the regular green tea is still low in caffeine. Choose decaffeinated teas that remove caffeine with carbon dioxide rather than chemicals. Use of chemicals for decaffeinating may actually destroy the anti-oxidants.

How to brew green tea

Green tea can be brewed as loose leaves of tea or using a tea bag. Use one tsp. loose tea or one tea bag per serving. Using bottled water rather than tap water for brewing may improve the taste of the tea. Steep your tea in water which has just reached the boiling point of 160 degrees. Turn the heat off and steep the tea for 2-4 minutes. Limiting the steeping time to 2-4 minutes will allow for optimal anti-oxidants and decrease the bitterness and caffeine content. Steeping tea for 4 minutes will actually increase the caffeine content to 40-100 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving.

Flavored teas and tea products 

Flavored teas will be lower in anti-oxidants. The flavoring added to the teas reduces the actual tea percentage and therefore the anti-oxidants. Nonetheless, flavored teas and already prepared tea products can still be a source of anti-oxidants. You can also brew your own tea, and add your own flavorings such as mint, lemon, or ginseng.

With the summer heat wave sweeping the entire country, consider making your green tea into a pitcher of iced tea. You’ll get the health benefits of green tea along with hydration!

Do you have a favorite green tea brand or recipe to share on this blog?

How to Buy Bread: Shopping Tips for the Savvy Shopper

how to buy bread

Ever wonder how to buy bread?  It’s just a simple food staple, but the choices can be overwhelming. What points should be considered? A recent family conversation revealed to me the confusion on  how to buy bread. It’s not just an issue of rye versus wheat or white versus whole grain. Grocery shoppers encounter a far more complex array of bread terms such as enriched, 100% whole grain, high fiber, and gluten-free.

Knowing a few facts about what these terms mean is crucial for the savvy bread shopper. Check out some of the key factors to consider when you buy your next loaf of bread.

Whole grain bread or 100% grain?

These terms mean the entire grain kernel was used to make the bread, as opposed to just part of the kernel. More specifically, the bread was made from all parts of the grain kernel: the nutrient dense bran and germ of the grain, as well as the less nutrient dense middle endosperm. As a result, the fiber and nutrient content of the bread is generally higher. Both whole grain bread and 100% grain translate to a healthy option for the consumer.

Enriched white bread (refined flour)

Enriched white bread is made from the less nutrient rich endosperm. US government regulation also requires that only some of the nutrients found in whole grain bread be added back into enriched white bread. These nutrients include some B-complex vitamins; however, fiber, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and chromium are not typically added in to the enriched product. So, opt for whole grain or 100% grain when you buy bread. You are getting more nutrition bang for your buck.

Wheat bread, brown bread, stone ground

how to buy bread

These breads are not necessarily made from a whole grain, and consequently are not guaranteed to be a nutritious option. You must check the label to determine whether the bread is made from a whole grain or an enriched flour.

Fiber

Most whole grain breads will yield more fiber than white enriched products. Fiber is an important element of a healthy diet, so look for a minimum of 2 grams of fiber per slice. Many whole grain breads may have as much as 5 grams of fiber.

Sodium

Bread can be a significant source of sodium. If this is an issue for you, check out the nutrition fact label for this information. Sliced packaged bread typically ranges from about 150 mg to several hundred mg of sodium per slice.

Calories are a factor when you buy bread

Calorie content per slice of bread varies widely. Many varieties of sliced bread range from 70-120 calories per slice. Check the nutrition information to ensure that the bread of your choice aligns with your caloric requirements.

How to buy bread with other label tricks

Look at the list of ingredients. The most prevalent ingredient is listed first, and the least prevalent ingredient is listed at the end. If you are looking for a healthy whole grain bread, you would most likely see “whole or 100% wheat” noted first on the list of ingredients. A less nutritionally desirable bread might list 100% whole wheat, followed by enriched wheat and other ingredients.

A word about gluten 

Gluten is protein which some individuals are sensitive to, or must avoid due to celiac disease. It has become popular to avoid or decrease gluten, but it is not necessary for everyone to do so. When medically required, gluten must be avoided in order to prevent damage to the gut.

A word about high fructose corn syrup

High fructose corn syrup is used as a sweetener in food items, and it has been highly criticized in the past few years. Whatever the final scientific findings on high fructose corn syrup may be, there are many breads on the market free of this ingredient. Read your labels and find a bread that uses an alternate sweetener if this concerns you.

Do you have a healthy favorite store brand bread you can recommend?

Legal Disclaimer

7 Trader Joe’s Best Bite Entrees When Time is Tight!

It’s summer, and I cannot figure out why I am so busy! Today, as has been the case for the last few weeks, I am short on time. I decided to hit my favorite area specialty grocery store this morning for some “back-up” type meals to avoid being tied to the kitchen later in the day. I like to keep a few “convenience” type meal alternatives that do not require either thinking, or labor, when I am either very tired or too busy to spend time in the kitchen. My criteria when purchasing such foods is typically limited to evaluating: total fat, calories, and sodium.  For many convenience foods, it is easy enough to find limited fat and calories, or limited sodium, but rather a difficult task to find convenience foods already prepared that are acceptable in all three categories.

Here are my favorite “go-to” foods from Trader Joe’s

  • Breaded Tenderloin Chicken Breasts (per 66 gram piece, has 110 calories, 3.5 gm total fat, 180 mg sodium); toss on a bed of lettuce greens for a quick meal.
  • Roasted Vegetable Multi-Grain Lasagna (per 1/4 package, has 240 calories, 7 gm total fat, 480 mg sodium)
  • Wild Salmon in Yogurt and Mint Sauce with Orzo Pasta, Spinach and Zucchini (one container has 350 calories, 10 gm fat, 310 mg sodium)
  • Chile Lime Chicken Burger (one burger has 150 calories, 6 gm fat, 310 mg sodium)
  • Organic No Salt Added Marinara Sauce (has 60 calories, no fat, and only 35 mg of sodium per 1/2 cup).  Just put on pasta, add a dash of favorite cheese and serve with a salad.
  • Reduced Fat Fish Sticks (6 fish sticks have 220 calories, 9 gm fat, and 240 mg sodium)
  • Grilled Chicken Strips (3 oz. serving has 130 calories, 2.5 gm fat, and 210 mg sodium).  Toss on top of a bed of greens, with a lower sodium roll, and you are good for dinner.

Here’s to a night out of the hot kitchen! And, for dessert, there is always a bite of TJ 56% cacao dark chocolate (1/2 bar has 80 calories, 5 gm of fat, 0 sodium, and  a lot of antioxidants).

Do you have any healthy meals to recommend from Trader Joe’s or other specialty grocery stores?

 

20 Reasons to Eat Your Carbs and Forgo the Beef!

Updated December, 201920 reasons to love your carbs

If you have a beef with carbs, you might want to rethink avoiding them. There are technically many reasons to actually eat the right amount of carbs. For whatever reason, the topic of carbohydrates fuels a firestorm of controversy. Look anywhere on the internet, and you will find a preponderance of carbohydrate criticism and vilification. It’s true that not all carbs are the same. The carbs which should be emphasized for health are the complex carbohydrates. These carbs are high in nutrient density. Complex carbs include lentils, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Check out this list of 20 solid, fact based reasons to eat your carbs. Then, enjoy bringing this macronutrient back into your life!

  The first 10 of 20 great reasons to eat carbs

  1. They provide a rich source of B-complex vitamins not found in other food categories.
  2. In the form of fruits and vegetables, they are an excellent source of vitamin C.
  3. Complex carbs provide significant sources of potassium.
  4. They are naturally low in fat which helps a variety of medical issues ranging from gastric reflux to heart disease.
  5.  They have health protecting phytonutrients which are found almost exclusively in complex carbs.
  6. Complex carbs are high in fiber to aid digestion, prevent constipation, and feed gut bacteria.
  7. Fiber-rich complex carbs aid in blood sugar control.
  8. Complex carbs fill you up and help you stick with a weight loss diet.
  9. Sufficient carbohydrates prevent ketosis.
  10. Carbs are the preferred energy source for your brain and central nervous system. By eating enough carbs to fuel the brain and central nervous system, the protein you eat can be used to promote growth, healing, and repair. Consequently, eating enough carbs spares the protein to do the job of growth and repair, instead of being used to meet energy requirements.

10 more great reasons to eat carbs

  1. When decreasing carbs, you need to increase your calories from another nutrient such as animal protein. But, protein in excessive amounts may weaken bones.
  2. If you cut your carbs, then you need to increase your calories from other nutrients such as fat. This may lead to plaque build up in your arteries.
  3. A low carbohydrate intake might increase cortisol levels. This may increase risk of some cancers.
  4. A low carbohydrate intake might lead to eating more animal protein. Too much animal protein can increase painful gout symptoms.
  5. You need carbohydrates in your diet to make glycogen. This is your storage fuel for endurance athletic events. You need this fuel source when food is not available. Adequate glycogen stores are essential if you want to excel at endurance sports.
  6. Dairy products are nutrient dense carbohydrates which have important nutrients for strong bones and normal blood pressure.
  7. Most Americans do not consume enough magnesium. Many good sources of magnesium are complex carbs like spinach, bran cereal, beans, lentils, and dairy products.
  8. Strong bones need more than just calcium. And, many of the nutrients necessary for strong bones-vitamin K, various B vitamins, and magnesium are readily available from complex carbs.
  9. As food, they create less of a carbon footprint than growing animals to eat.
  10. They are satisfying and taste good! Don’t you miss them??

Take away

For these reasons, emphasizing unprocessed nutrient dense carbs such as lentils, beans, fruits, vegetables, fat-free dairy, and whole grain foods is not controversial. In fact, it is intelligent eating for the 21st century.

Legal Disclaimer