How to Buy Bread: Shopping Tips for the Savvy Shopper

 

how to buy bread

Bread choices can be overwhelming!

It’s just a simple food staple, but what’s the best way to buy bread? 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, does it matter when you buy bread?

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

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 an important 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.

Other label deciphering tricks for how to buy bread

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 it comes to bread, avoid gluten if it is medically required.

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?

Is Your Dietary Supplement Downright Dangerous? 5 Tips to Protect Yourself!

Many Americans naively pop vitamin and mineral supplements and guzzle various types of protein powders, thinking they are helping with overall health. The reality is that many of these supplements can be downright dangerous! In fact, according to recent newspaper headliner, the 28 billion dollar supplement industry has serious and widespread manufacturing flaws. These flaws are extensive enough have the potential to harm our health. From quality control to formulation issues, the product you are taking may not be what you are thinking it is. There may be much more or too little of a specific nutrient. Even lead, arsenic, and rodent feces have been known to contaminate our supplements.

As a potential consumer, it needs to be understood that the supplement industry is a self-regulating industry. That means the government does not directly oversee the quality control of a supplement. Companies are largely left in charge of their own standards. Under current laws, the FDA does not screen supplements for safety before they hit the consumer market. The FDA only takes action regarding supplements on the market once there is a documented issue with the supplement. The FDA relies on manufacturers themselves, as well as consumers, to report any adverse effects.

Proactive steps to take when purchasing supplements

Buy name brand supplements

Well-known brands may have better “in-house” quality control standards because the reputation of the company is at stake. Steer clear of companies you have not heard of.

Look for the USP label

This label means that the supplement has been at least evaluated for ingredients stated on the label. It also means the product will dissolve in your digestive tract rather than passing straight through your body. The symbol does not guarantee any other health or safety advantages of the supplement.

Look at the Nutrition Fact Label on the supplement

Note the percent daily value of the nutrients. If you see values of many nutrients far exceeding 100%, don’t be duped into thinking this is a good thing. Consumers need to understand that too much of a nutrient can be very harmful. We have upper limits of safety for many nutrients, and we should avoid exceeding those upper limits of safety.

Consider using the Internet to investigate your supplement before taking it

Consumer Labs is an independent testing lab that evaluates supplemental products and makes the test results available for a small subscription fee. The analyses and data are extensive and informative.

 Consider having a dietitian evaluate your current diet.

A dietitian can evaluate nutrient shortcomings and make appropriate recommendations to meet those dietary deficits with the correct dosages of nutrients. Or better yet, a dietitian can help you find the foods you like to eat to give you the nutrients you need!  After all, mother nature does the best nutrient packaging of all.

Do you ever think about safety issues regarding supplement use?

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?

 

Build a Better Breakfast!

 

My Creamy Berry Smoothie

 

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.The “problems”, however, always seem to revolve around what to eat, how long will it take to prepare, and how fast can it be eaten! If you are getting tired of standard breakfast fare, consider the following as options:

Berry Creamy 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.

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

Oat Bran Muffins

Make from scratch.  This is about as easy as it gets and you know what is going into your body. They can be frozen after you make a batch, and then pulled out of the freezer when you get up in the morning. Let thaw as you shower. Enjoy with some orange or low sodium V-8 juice.

When evaluating an oat bran muffin recipe, if you are watching your waistline, consider recipes without dried fruits and nuts as ingredients. If a recipe calls for applesauce, that allows for a moister oat bran muffin.

 Oat Bran Muffin Recipe

Improvise with an English Muffin

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 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.

Standby eggs

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. Making that little bit of effort ahead of time in order to grab these will be worth it as you head to work.

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?

 

 

20 Reasons to Eat Your Carbs and Forgo the Beef!

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. 20 of the many reasons to eat your carbs are listed, so check out the list!

20 reasons to eat your carbs instead of beef

Penne with Chickpeas, tomato, and feta

  20 guilt-free reasons to eat nutrient dense 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.

  5.  Provide health protecting phytonutrients found almost exclusively in complex carbs.

  6. Complex carbs are high in fiber to aid digestion and prevent constipation.

  7. Fiber-rich complex carbs aid in blood glucose control.

  8. Complex carbs fill you up and help you stick with a weight loss diet.

  9. Sufficient carbohydrates prevent ketosis.

  10. Carbohydrates spare the protein to function in growth, healing, and repair.

  11. When decreasing carbs, you then need to increase your calories from another nutrient such as animal protein, which in excessive amounts may weaken bones.

  12. Cut your carbs, then you need to increase your calories from other nutrients such as fat. This may lead to plaque build up on your arteries.

  13. A low carbohydrate intake might increase cortisol levels. This may increase risk of some cancers.

  14. A low carbohydrate intake might lead to an increased animal protein intake, which can increase painful gout.

  15. You need carbohydrates in your diet to make glycogen.This is your storage fuel for endurance athletic events and can be a fuel source if food is not available.

  16. Dairy products are nutrient dense carbohydrates which have important nutrients for strong bones and normal blood pressure.

  17. Most Americans do not consume enough magnesium. Many good sources of magnesium are complex carbs like spinach, bran cereal, beans, lentils, and dairy products.

  18. 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.

  19. As food, they create less of a carbon footprint than growing animals to eat.

  20. They are satisfying and taste good! Don’t you miss them?

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

 

 

Nutrition on the Net-5 Sites to Start Searching

Type “nutrition for health” into your favorite search engine, and you may get literally millions of hits!  It’s no wonder it is difficult for consumers to navigate the Internet and find correct nutrition information.  With endless pages on an ever-growing World Wide Web, and bearing in mind that there are no editors on the Internet, it is very difficult for the average consumer to find accurate nutrition information.  Also, keep in mind that websites with the extensions such as org. or edu. are often good starting points for accurate information.  On the flip side, you may want to avoid commercial websites as sources of credible nutrition information because the purpose is often to promote a specific product!

Here are a 5 nutrition related websites you can use to start a search for timely nutrition information:

  • The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine-This is the “go to” site for information on supplements and alternative medicine. In particular, you can access some good information on herbs and botanicals, including safety and efficacy. Consumers really need to bear in mind that not all over the counter herbal supplements are either safe or effective.
  • The Nutrition Blog Network-If your preference is the blog approach to gathering your nutrition information, these blogs are written solely by registered dietitians (RD).  It is a vast amount of nutrition information with topics for all.
  • This website, UpToDate, was recently mentioned on a Chicago network morning talk show.  I thought I would check it out, and I approve.  It is a great website to become an informed patient, and depending on the diagnosis, there is also information on nutrition if applicable.
  • The American Institute for Cancer ResearchYou don’t need to have cancer to benefit from this wonderful website.  The site is full of healthy recipes and suggestions for reducing your risk of cancer through diet and healthy living.
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics-Here the consumer can access a variety of suggestions on how to carry out a healthy eating lifestyle.  You can also find a dietitian in your zip code.

Additional links on various topics may also be found at: //mydietmatters.com/links.html

Keeping a keen eye on the websites you rely on for accurate information will help you become a better educated and savvy health and nutrition consumer.  Happy surfing.

Do you have a favorite nutrition website to share?

Don’t Buy Shrimp From Thailand: Save The Fishing Cat!

 

Exotic fishing cat

Exotic fishing cat pushed to extinction by shrimp farmers

Not very long ago, I was in a major Chicago suburban grocery store planning to buy some frozen shrimp. With the globalization of our food supply, I am in the habit of checking where a food item originates from in order to be “respectful” to the planet. I would prefer to avoid purchasing seafood from the other side of the world. This shopping day, I was actually unable to find any frozen shrimp other than shrimp from Thailand. I put the shrimp back, as I just had an unsettled feeling about making such a purchase. I will not ever purchase shrimp from Thailand after finding out that this beautiful exotic fishing cat is becoming extinct due to shrimp raised in that country.

Extinction of an exotic fishing cat

This week, tuning into the late hour US ABC Nightline news show, there was a story about a beautiful exotic cat from Southeast Asia which is becoming extinct. This wild cat, called the fishing cat, is a native to the wetland areas of Southeast Asia. These same wetland areas of Southeast Asia are also being utilized for the farming of shrimp. And, much of that shrimp ends up in the United States.

According to the ABC Nightline story, as the shrimp farmers take over the wetlands and encroach on the native home of the fishing cat. Now, the fishing cat population has declined to near extinction. As this exotic web-footed cat actually swims in the water for food, this encroachment by shrimp farmers has affected the natural habitat as well as the ability to access fish for food. With diminished capacity to find fish to eat, fishing cats are often forced to hunt for alternative food sources. They may resort to farmers’ livestock, which then allows them to meet their death with a shotgun.

Shop locally

Regardless of how you connect to this story, it points out there are multiple good reasons to purchase food locally. If purchasing shrimp raised closer to home stops extinction of a species, that means a lot to me. If it means our planet degrades less quickly, it should mean the world to you.

For the complete Nightline footage on this story, //abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/shrimp-farms-endanger-fishing-cats-16207450

Hey Seniors, Reach for These 5 Dietary Supplements

Link

Supplements for seniorsWhile daily use of multi-nutrient supplements has fallen out of favor by some health professionals due to some recent studies, there are five supplements many seniors should take. While food is always the best source of nutrients, certain circumstances with aging may warrant adding these supplements to your diet! Here are the 5 recommended supplements for seniors :

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

We have too little of these essential fatty acids in our diet. While fish can be a good contributor of omega-3-fatty acids, eating fish a few times a week is not necessarily going to be insurance requirements are met. Other food sources include walnuts and flaxseed, but consistency is key. If these foods are not eaten regularly, a fish oil supplement a few times per week may be helpful.

CoQ10

We make this nutrient, but we make less of it as we age. If you are taking a statin drug to lower your cholesterol level, the statin drug will limit your body’s ability to make this nutrient. Consider taking CoQ10 if you are aging or on a cholesterol lowering statin!

Magnesium

While distributed in a wide variety of foods, my clients are often consuming too little of this nutrient. Magnesium may be easily washed and peeled away from foods during processing. A decreased calorie consumption also means less is being consumed through food.

Vitamin D

It is best to get your baseline blood vitamin D levels checked, but chances are you will benefit from at least some additional supplemental vitamin D. While we can make this vitamin, we make less as we age. Increased use of sunscreen will further decrease production of vitamin D. With mounting evidence that vitamin D plays roles in promoting strong bones, healthy blood pressure, fighting infection, and decreasing inflammation and cancer risk, supplementation is frequently warranted.  For more information on why it is hard to actually get enough vitamin D from foods, read on.

Calcium

If you skip the dairy group, there is a good chance you may not be meeting your calcium requirements. Calcium is important for more than our bones-it also protects against colon cancer and high blood pressure. If you opt out of drinking regular milk and eating dairy products, choose soy, rice, or almond milk. Just make sure the brand you choose is fortified with calcium. If you avoid these products altogether, consider a supplement. Consume 1000 mg up to 50 years of age; for 50+ the requirements increase to 1200 mg.

While my preference is always going to be to get nutrients through food, eating less as we age, medication, and lifestyle may impact our nutritional status.

Any one have other supplements they think we should be taking as we get older?

5 Tech Strategies for Successful Weight Loss

Sample view of Nutrihand, my client online food tracker

If you just ate too many jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, consider using some tech strategies to help. With some time ahead of us before the next holiday, it’s a great time to start tracking your diet and physical activity. Tracking your food intake allows you to avoid denial about your calorie consumption. And, it keeps you honest with yourself on a daily basis.

If weight loss is your goal, then the only way you will reach that goal is to somehow eat fewer calories than your body needs. Or, use more energy than you consume through food. To lose one pound of fat per week, you must go into a 3500 calorie deficit per week. By doing so either with less food, more exercise, or a combination of less food and more exercise you will see the scale change! Crossing your fingers and “hoping” the weight comes off is a rather common occurrence. But being systematic with your focus can mean the difference between hoping and happening.

Some of my favorite for weight loss tools

Use the Internet for nutrition information

If you “must” dine out often, you need to be aware of the nutrients and calories you are eating away from home. While a full service restaurant is not required by law to provide the calorie content of its meals, franchises with 20 or more locations are. This is very helpful to anyone who frequents Panera to P.F. Chang’s. Check the nutrition information prior to dining at franchises to make better choices.

Online food documentation

Nutrihand is one of the online food tracking platforms I now offer my clients. Clients log in their food intake and day-to-day, we can both see if goals are met. Goals may revolve around calories, but also other specific nutrients. Carbohydrate, fat, protein, calcium, potassium, sodium, and fiber can all be assessed. There are similar programs on the Internet to serve a similar purpose. It’s worth your while to experiment with a format that works for you.

Using smartphones for food related decisions

At this point, there are so many great smartphone apps on the market. And, more become available daily. These apps allow for tracking food and calories on the spot. Others track your physical activity like a pedometer. We can even find apps to help us make better nutritional decisions at the grocery store. With the smartphone camera, you can even take photos of foods to share with your favorite dietitian for further discussion.

A Pedometer

While basic pedometers are not exactly high-tech, they can be effective for assessing baseline physical activity. The more expensive pedometers allow for downloading of collected data (steps, aerobic steps, calories, distance) to your computer. This allows your data to be documented, graphed, and saved on your computer. Then it’s available for review or sharing with your dietitian.

BodyMedia Armband

This is the ultimate assessment tool for determining how many calories you require for weight management. Worn on the left upper arm, it measures your calorie burn in a 24-hour period. It seems very accurate and after the collected data is downloaded, you are able to look at your energy expenditure in sections of the day. This allows you to evaluate the activities and movements which are most effective at burning calories. Knowing this information will help you lose weight. Furthermore, sleep quality is assessed. Current research suggests sleep quality is correlated to weight management.

With the help of these self-monitoring tools, your behavior and diet will be consistent and effective enough to help you reach your weight goals.

Do you have any special weight loss tech tools you would care to share?

 

The Pressure (Cooker) is On!

I was a child in the 50s. Mothers back then frequently cooked with a “scary” piece of equipment called the pressure cooker. I remember being afraid of the loud sounds it made. I distinctly feared that the rattling piece of metal sitting atop the lid would fly off. When my mother gave me her pressure cooker after I myself became a mom, it sat in my cabinet and was never used. It was just way too intimidating to me with three small children to feed. After all, I was also concerned for their “safety”!

Fast forward to now. Like most people, I am very busy. I still work and I will always want to be eating healthier foods. Pressure cookers made today are much different than in the past.

Modern pressure cookers

The newer pressure cookers seem to be the perfect solution to preparing healthy food in limited time. They are equipped with a variety of settings, such as browning, sautéing, and warming, along with both low and high pressure settings, making it easy to prepare a complete gourmet meal in no time. For instance, rather than going through the hassle of soaking lentils overnight, with a pressure cooker you can cook with them immediately.

What’s more, modern pressure cookers have safety features to help prevent kitchen accidents. There are many other benefits to using a pressure cooker. Aside from saving time, using a pressure cooker limits nutrient losses. Because all the recipe components are in one pot and the liquid is part of the main dish, all nutrients are retained. Additionally, preparing a meal with a pressure cooker saves money. Tough and more economical cuts of meat can be used very successfully in the pressure cooker because the high pressure will tenderize the meat. Two of my favorite pressure cooker recipes can be found on this website.

So, if time is tight and healthy eating is a priority, consider lessening your personal pressure by increasing the pressure for cooking.

Do you have any favorite foods you enjoy making in your pressure cooker?