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By Toby Amidor, MS, RD

Last week I attended the New York City Fancy Food Show where I saw a wide variety of food trends. Here’s a look at what will be hitting store shelves—and which foods you should keep in your cart, and others you may want to skip.

From The Ground Up Cauliflower Snacks
Cauliflower has made its way into pretzels and crackers. Both the cracker and pretzels are tasty and have a similar taste to the real deal. The pretzels come in twists or sticks and are 110 calories, 23 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, and 1 gram protein per 1 ounce (20 twists) serving. The crackers come in several flavors including nacho, cheddar, and sea salt. Per one serving (1 ounce or 40 pieces) of the sea salt flavor there are 100 calories, 18 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber, and 2 grams protein.
My Take: Definitely worth a try!

Fire Cider Apple Vinegar Tonics
Apple cider vinegar is still very popular, with many touting benefits including weight loss. Although the research isn’t there, there’s no real harm to adding apple cider vinegar to your diet. On occasion, too much may irritate your tummy.
My Take: Use apple cider vinegar in dressings or marinades but I’m not a fan of straight up shots.

Explore Cuisine Legume Pastas
I got to try edamame spaghetti and green lentil lasagna and it was delicious! I will definitely be adding these legume pastas to my pasta repertoire. The edamame spaghetti containers per 2 ounces of dry pasta 180 calories, 20 grams carbs, 13 grams fiber, and 24 grams protein.
My Take: A definite must try!

RW Garcia Organic Corn Chips
One of my favorite chip companies just came out with a better-for-you corn chip! They come in Blue, Yellow, Bar-B-Q, and Chili Cheese and all are mighty tasty. The Organic Yellow Corn Chips and Organic Blue Corn Chips have 3 ingredients, while the sodium for all variety range from 100 to 230 mg sodium per 1 ounce serving or 32 chips. I’m so glad to finally find a corn chip with less sodium, and fewer ingredients!
My Take: A delicious option for corn chip lovers!

Ozery Bakery Lavash
I always stop at Ozery Bakery for the delicious breads and crackers, and to practice my Hebrew with the Ozery family. The latest Lavash crackers made with organic spelt are a welcome addition to my healthy eating plan. A 3 cracker pack (each box has 8 packs) contains 70 calories, 2 grams protein, 11 grams carbs, and 2 grams of fiber. I also tasted their Cocoa and Banana Snacking Rounds that were outstanding at 60 calories each. Fill with some peanut butter for a filling snack or enjoy for breakfast with eggs.
My Take: A must try

Made Good Foods Granola Minis
Made Good has a line of kid-friendly gluten-free and nut-free granola bars, granola, and crispy squares. I was particularly drawn to the bite-size minis that are available in Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Banana, Chocolate Chip, Mixed Berry, and Strawberry. Each serving of bites are between 90 to 100 calories and made with whole grains—perfect with a glass of milk.
My Take: A great nut-free snack for back-to-school

PeekABoo Ice Cream
This brand spanking new company is AMAZING. Each flavor of their organic ice cream contains vegetables—and tastes so good! The Cotton Candy contains beets, the Chocolate has cauliflower, the Mint Chocolate Chunk has spinach, and the Vanilla has zucchini. Calories are consistent with traditional ice cream with ½ cup of the Chocolate providing 250 calories, 2 grams protein, 23 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber, 21 grams sugar, and 15 grams fat. The only drawback is the $8.00 price tag per pint.
My Take: If you have the cash, then try this delicious, indulgent treat

Epic Performance Bar Egg White Based Bars
This Texas-born bar started out as meat bars, but have now added egg white bars to their repertoire. Flavors include Almond Butter Chocolate, Lemon, Peanut Butter Chocolate, and Peanut Butter. The Almond Butter Chocolate contains 210 calories, 7 grams fat, 12 grams protein, 25 grams carbs, 4 grams fiber, and 19 grams sugar (with 0 grams added sugar).
My Take: A fun option if you’re looking for a non-meat or poultry protein bar

That’s It. Fruit Bars
This line of very simple ingredient fruit bars lists the ingredients right on the front. The Apple-Strawberry fruit bar contains 1 apple and 12 strawberries (that’s really it!). Calories for this bar are 100 with 22 grams carbs, 4 grams fiber, 17 grams natural sugar, and 1 gram protein. Other fruit flavors include Apple + Mango, Apple + Blueberries, and Apple + Pear. That’s It also have a line of Veggie Bars including Beans + Peas, Beans + Carrots, and Beans + Kale, and more indulgent truffles or bites that combine the fruit with dark chocolate.
My Take: A simple, delicious, tasty snack or dessert great for kids and adults.

Brooklyn Crafter Ginger Beer
When I came across Brooklyn Crafted Ginger Beer, I just had to give it a try….because I am crafted in Brooklyn too! The Lemon-Lime is my absolute favorite flavor that I will go and purchase, but they also sell sugar-free versions if that’s your style. The Extra Spicy flavor did pique my interest, but I was a little afraid to try it in public. I will need to give that a whirl with a few glasses of water in front of me!
My Take: Yes, yes and yes!

Little Bird Kitchen Fire Syrup
There were a lot of sweet and spicy items at the show, including this mom and pop made fire syrup which is outstanding. The best news is they just packaged them in individual teaspoon packets to help control calories. They work really well in marinades, dressings, and cocktails.
My Take: Get this trend a spin, but just be mindful of portions.

Biena Snacks Thin Mint Chickpeas
This chickpea snacks have been growing, but my absolutely favorite flavor that was just released in the Thin Mints Chickpea Snacks. They really do taste like the real thing, plus you’re getting the good-for-you nutrients from the chickpeas.
My Take: If you like thin mints, then these are even better (and healthier!)

The Republic of Tea Single Sips
I am a wholehearted tea lover (sorry coffee), and don’t always have the time to seep a cup of tea. Now when I’m looking for something when I’m on the go, I can pour these tea sipper powders with water. Flavors include Organic Turmeric, Organic Daily Greens, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Matcha.
My Take: If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to flavor water, give these a go.

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Photo credit Hélène Dujardin

By Toby Amidor, MS, RD

This post is a collaboration with Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner., on behalf of the Beef Checkoff, as part of my role as a member of the Beef Expert Bureau. I have been compensated for my time commitment. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

I grew up eating a Mediterranean-style diet and still do so today. If you open any of my cookbooks, you’ll see a Mediterranean influence in many of my recipes. One thing, however, that has always remained a constant in my Mediterranean-style meal plan is the inclusion of beef, especially lean beef. Here’s a look into what I eat in a day— and the recent science to back up this heart-healthy style of eating.

The Research

A recent study conducted at Purdue University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern that incorporates lean, unprocessed meat, along with other animal protein sources, can support heart health. The study followed 41 overweight or obese adults for 16 weeks, where the participants were divided into two groups. One group ate a typical U.S. lean red meat diet (about 18 ounces per week), while the second group ate a diet restricted with lean red meat (about 7 ounces per week). The results showed that participants who consumed 18 ounces of lean, unprocessed red meat per week—in addition to poultry and/or fish—as part of a healthy, Mediterranean-style eating pattern, showed decreases in total cholesterol and LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol, and blood pressure.

A Day In My Life

As a registered dietitian, folks are often curious as to how I eat and how I stay healthy. Here’s what a typical day looks like for me:

Breakfast
Fruit smoothie made with nonfat plain Greek yogurt, frozen strawberries, splash of nonfat milk, and a date (to naturally sweeten).

Morning Snack
Sliced vegetables (like cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, radishes) with Simple Hummus

Photo credit Gail Watson Photography

Lunch
Tuna Nicoise Salad

Photo credit Nat & Cody Gantz

Afternoon Snack
Honey Ricotta with Strawberries

Photo credit Gail Watson Photography

Dinner
Grilled Steak with Herb Sauce
Israeli-Style Salad
Cooked quinoa

Photo credit Hélène Dujardin

In addition to my well-balanced eating plan that includes lean red meat, I also exercise regularly. I compete in several U.S. Tennis Association competitive tennis leagues, regularly practice Pilates, and weight train.

To Lean More

To find out more information on how lean red meat can be part of a Mediterranean-style eating plan, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, is hosting a free webinar on July 11 from 12-1 pm MT titled Getting to the Meat of the Mediterranean Diet: How A Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern with Lean Red Meat Can Support Heart Health. You can register here. You can also check out this infographic for more information on the eating pattern and recipes that include lean beef.

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One of the most popular diets today is the ketogenic diet (AKA the keto diet). This diet has been around for quite some time and used to help epileptic children, but it has recently become the latest weight loss trend. Before you start filling your plate with fatty foods and drastically limiting your carbohydrates, here’s what you need to know.

Keto Diet 101
The Ketogenic diet is essentially a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat diet that puts the body into a metabolic state, known as ketosis. In a state of ketosis, the body no longer utilizes carbs (specifically glucose) as energy, but converts fat into called ketones in order to fuel the body. Once your body uses ketones for fuel, you are in a state called ketosis. Proponents of the plan claim ketosis can lead to many health benefits including weight loss, increased energy, and enhanced physical and mental performance.

What You’ll Be Eating
The general ratio of nutrients on the keto diet is:

  • Fat: 70% of calories
  • Protein: 25% of calories
  • Carbs: 5% of calories

On the keto diet, you’ll be eliminating grains (yes, even whole grains), fruit, starchy vegetables, legumes and sugar. Instead, you’ll be filling your plate with a lot of meat, leafy greens and other non-starchy veggies, high fat-dairy (think cream and butter), nuts and seeds, avocado, butter, coconut oil, and high-fat salad dressings. If you need a sweetener, you’ll have to rely on the low-carb options like stevia, erythritol (a type of sugar alcohol), and monk fruit.

The Risks
Some of the negative side effects of being in a state of ketosis include constipation, muscle loss, decreased energy, bad breath, leg cramps and even the “keto flu,” which often occurs in the first few weeks of following the diet. Headaches, nausea, trouble focusing and sleeping, and also often reported.

While in ketosis, you also run the risk of developing ketoacidosis, which is an acidic state for your body to be in and over the long-term can lead to headaches, fatigue, irritability, and could potentially even lead to organ damage and become deadly.

It’s important to remember that the diet was originally developed as a medical intervention for epilepsy done under the supervision of medially trained professionals. With such large restrictions in what you can eat, you also run the risk of becoming deficient in key vitamins and minerals, so it is recommended that you take a multivitamin and mineral supplement while following the plan.

Another question that is often raised is long-term effects. However, there are not human studies that have examined the long-term effects of following a keto diet, or the long-term effects of being in a state of ketosis.

My Take
While weight loss seems to a major benefit to following this plan, when you cut out numerous food groups you are not sufficiently meeting the needs of your body to keep it healthy. In addition, severely cutting out major food groups also makes it difficult to stick with long-term, and when it comes to making lifestyle changes, sustainability is key.

While both good and bad types of fats are encouraged on the plan, a high intake of saturated fat is encouraged, which can raise blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. If you’re looking for a quick fix for fast weight loss, keto will work—but mind my words that you’ll most probably be back to your old eating patterns in no time (with the weight right back to where you started).

TELL ME: Have you tried the keto diet? What was your experience?

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The Isagenix Diet is a company that sells protein shakes, bars and supplements touted to help you lose weight, feel better and support the body’s detox and cleansing process. You can choose the package (or “pak”) that best suits your individual goals including weight loss, energy, enhanced athletic performance, and healthy aging. Here’s a breakdown of the Isagenix Diet and if it’s right for you.

How It Works
The company uses a multi-level marketing approach to promote their products, which means you have to buy them through an associate and they get a kick back when you sign up. This is why you may have seen friends promoting the company and products over social media.

Once you sign up and choose the “pak” that best meets your needs, there’s a wide variety of expensive products to invest in (the 30-day starter pak for weight loss starts at $378.50).

Within these packs come a variety of products, including shakes. The shakes are meal replacers designed to serve as a meal replacement so in addition to protein, they are fortified with vitamins and minerals. The shake’s nutritional profile varies slightly between the various programs offered (weight loss, energy, enhanced athletic performance, healthy aging), but the protein content in the shakes ranges from 24 to 36 grams per serving and is designed for “healthy weight loss and lean muscle building,” according to the Isagenix website.

Along with the long list of products you’ll be purchasing comes long ingredient lists. It’s a far cry from filling your plate with high-quality whole foods. While you can expect to replace two of your meals each day with a shake, you can eat one 400 to 600 calorie meal per day and have two 100 to 150 calorie snacks per day of your choice or you can use their snacks. Once or twice a week you’ll also need to prepare to “cleanse,” which means no solid food on those days – just shakes and supplements.

In addition to the shakes, there are bars, snacks, coffee, energy shots, and sports drinks. Plus Isaflush which is “a blend of natural cleansing herbs and antioxidant botanicals to help support the body’s own detoxification process,” and accelerator, which “uses natural ingredients such as cayenne, green tea and cocoa seed to support thermogenesis and boost metabolism to help you burn fat.”

My Take
While the diet or so-called cleanse claims to detox the body, there is no single food or supplement that can do this. Detoxification is a process that our kidneys and liver are designed to do, and as long as they are working properly, they do so quite efficiently. As such, there is really no need to empty your wallet to pay for expensive supplements promising to do so.

Also, while the shakes do offer a good amount of protein per serving, you can easily obtain this from a well-balanced diet for a lot less money. For example, 8 ounces of plain Greek yogurt contains 22 grams of protein. You can also get plenty B-vitamins and antioxidants from filling your plate with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein instead of through their expensive products.

As for weight loss, since the diet is low in calories (1,200-1,400 calories per day), you will likely lose weight, but this can also be accomplished by eating a balanced calorie-controlled filled with high-quality whole foods, rather than expensive and processed shakes, bars and supplements.

If you choose to give this plan a try, be sure to check with your doctor first – especially if you are taking any medications, as herbs can often interfere with prescription medications. I would also not advise pregnant or lactating women to try this or anyone else with a serious medical condition. A healthy, varied, and balanced diet is still the way to go.

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Diabetes runs in my family with several of my relatives being diagnosed with prediabetes. Interestingly, not many folks know too much about prediabetes, and that’s why I was thrilled that my friend, registered dietitian colleague, and diabetes expert Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE, FAND just released her new book Prediabetes: A Complete Guide: Your Lifestyle Reset to Stop Prediabetes and Other Chronic Illnesses. As there are so many misconceptions about prediabetes, I asked Jill to provide 5 facts about prediabetes that most people don’t know. You can find her list below.

Fact 1: Prediabetes is super common.
Next time you go to the supermarket, shopping mall or a sporting event, randomly count out 9 adults. Chances are pretty good that at least three of them have prediabetes. Even more worrisome – they probably don’t know they have it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 out of 3 American adults have prediabetes. And 90% haven’t been diagnosed.

Fact 2: Prediabetes is not pre-problem.
Prediabetes isn’t harmless, and it didn’t come out of the blue. Prediabetes is a sign that something metabolically has been awry for some time. Before blood sugar levels rose to the threshold of prediabetes, insulin resistance or loss of insulin production or both were going on – likely for years. The earliest stage of the problem is a secret because blood glucose levels remain normal. That’s because the beta-cells of the pancreas pump out extra insulin to compensate for the body’s refusal to use it properly. Over time, the body can’t produce enough insulin to make up for the body’s resistance. That’s when blood sugar levels first increase.

Other problems associated with insulin resistance include blood vessel dysfunction, fatty liver, chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, and even some types of cancer. So you can see that prediabetes is not pre-problem.

Fact 3: Prediabetes is more reversible today than tomorrow.
Both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are progressive disorders. The driving factor is loss of insulin-producing beta-cells. The longer someone has insulin resistance, the more beta-cells are likely to be lost. So today is your best opportunity to reverse course on prediabetes. Every day that window of opportunity closes ever so slightly.

Fact 4: Prediabetes rarely has any symptoms.
There’s a reason that 70 million Americans have prediabetes and don’t know it. There are rarely any signs. Typically, healthcare providers screen for diabetes and prediabetes around age 45. It’s smart to ask if you should have the simple blood test that identifies prediabetes and diabetes. Your provider may screen you earlier if you’re overweight, have fatty liver or cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol levels.

Fact 5: Carbohydrates aren’t off-limits.
This is such as common misconception. Yet, so many disease-fighting foods contain carbohydrates. Instead of focusing on high-carb or low-carb, distinguish your foods between wholesome and not-so-wholesome. Let’s eat ample black beans and kidney beans, but let’s put limits on jelly beans. Recognize that there is a huge difference between a toaster pastry and whole wheat toast with peanut butter. A few carb-containing foods that I recommend for prediabetes are oats, barley, yogurt, berries, beans, lentils and nuts.

To get all the information you need to know about prediabetes, pick up Jill’s book on Amazon today.

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By Toby Amidor, MS, RD

This post was created in partnership with Dannon Light & Fit. I have been compensated for my time commitment. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

When I was younger, my mother used to take me and my brothers and sister to Israel for the summer. We would rent an apartment, shop at the local supermarket and farmers’ market, purchase local ingredients and cook our meals in our little kitchen. Because Israel is right off the ocean, the style of eating is similar to the Mediterranean diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, seafood, and wine. Israeli’s also love their dairy, especially yogurt, as well as whole grains.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend several eating patterns, including the Mediterranean Diet. Although I was aware that I eat a healthy diet and have always eaten Mediterranean-style, it was nice to be validated by the science.

The Dietary Guidelines also recommend increasing intake of nutrient-dense foods, such as fat-free of low-fat dairy products, like yogurt. Yogurt is nutrient-dense and many yogurts are a good source of protein and calcium. Greek yogurt typically contains more protein than regular yogurts.

Typically I eat two yogurts every day, one at breakfast and one as a snack. Light & Fit is my go to Greek yogurt and offers a delicious variety of products to fit any eating pattern. Here is an inside look at how it fits into mine.

Breakfast
My belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day stems from my childhood. My mother always made sure that I ate a well-balanced breakfast. In Israel, breakfast is an important meal where it is traditionally eaten together with family. My typical breakfast includes the following:

  • 1 egg over easy
  • 1 tablespoon of hummus
  • 1 cup Israeli-Style Salad
  • 1 (4-inch) whole wheat pita
  • 1 (5.3 ounce) Light & Fit Original Greek Strawberry Nonfat Yogurt container sprinkled with 1 tablespoon toasted almonds

Snacks
I typically get my mid-afternoon slump around 2:30 or 3pm, so I make sure to have a yogurt parfait ready for me to munch on. Below is the recipe for my Grape Pumpkin Seed Parfait that uses a splash of Concord grape juice to remind me of the delicious wine in Israel.

Grape Pumpkin Seed Parfait
Serves: 2
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 2 minutes

Ingredients
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons 100% Concord grape juice
1 tablespoon 100% maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup green seedless grapes, halved
½ cup red seedless grapes, halved
2 (5.3 ounce) Light & Fit Original Greek Vanilla Nonfat Yogurt

Directions
1. Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add pumpkin seeds and toast until slightly fragrant, about 2 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grape juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Add the grapes and toss to coat.
3. In each of two tall glasses or mason jars, spoon half of a yogurt container, top with ¼ cup of the grape mixture including the liquid, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of toasted pumpkin seeds. Repeat the layers ending with the toasted pumpkin seeds.
4. Enjoy immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutrition information (per parfait):
Calories: 238; Total Fat: 8g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Protein: 17g; Carbs: 28g; Fiber: 1g; Sugars: 24g; Sodium: 54mg

For more delicious meal and snack ideas with Dannon Light & Fit Original Greek Nonfat Yogurt, follow @Lightandfit on Instagram and use the hashtag #LightandFitRD #LightandFit

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By Toby Amidor, MS, RD

This post was sponsored by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED). All thoughts are my own.

One-in-10 people world-wide are afflicted with depression or anxiety disorders according to a 2016 World Health Organization Report. Emerging research suggests that omega-3s play a role in supporting various mood disorders. As May is National Mental Health Awareness month, plus I am personally affected by anxiety, I wanted to highlight the research and let you know how to get your omega-3s.

Linking Mental Health and Nutrition
Between 1990 and 2016 there was a 50% rise in mental disorders with a treatment cost of $1 trillion. There is emerging and compelling evidence suggesting that nutrition plays a role in mental disorders, just like it does in other health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

The connection between mental health and nutrition isn’t new. A study published almost 20 years ago in The Lancet found that the prevalence for major depression was reduced in countries where fish consumption was higher. Further, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report, which compiles the evidence-based review that set the basis for the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, states that, “relationships may exist between eating patterns and some neurocognitive disorders and congenital anomalies.” The report further concludes that there is some, albeit limited, evidence that a diet emphasizing seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes – the same components of a Mediterranean style of eating – is associated with a lower risk of depression in men and non-perinatal women (that is, women who are not pregnant, not about to be pregnant, or who were recently pregnant).

The Link Between Mental Health and Omega-3s
A 2016 meta-analysis with over 150,000 participants examined the relationship between fish consumption and depression. Researchers found that folks who regularly consumed high levels of fish were nearly 20% less likely to have depression compared to folks who did not consume much fish.

Many believe that it’s the omega-3s found in fish, especially fatty fish, that is the key nutrient responsible for these mental health benefits. Three of the most common omega-3s are EPA, DHA and ALA. Both EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, and mackerel. ALA is a short-chain omega-3 found in plant foods like flax seeds and walnuts. ALA serves as a source of energy and is a building block for making EPA and DHA. However, our bodies don’t convert ALA to EPA and DHA very well, so it’s best to get EPA and DHA directly by eating fatty fish or taking an omega-3 supplements.

A 2010 study looked at EPA and DHA levels in folks with depression and found that blood levels of EPA and DHA are lower in those with major depression. A 2016 study showed clinical benefits to taking EPA verses a placebo in folks with depression.

How To Increase Your Omega-3s?
Based on the research available there seems to be a link between mental health and omega-3 fats. This is just another reason to make sure you take in your omega-3 fats. Here are several ways to do so:

  1. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating 8 ounces of seafood per week, in two, 4-oz servings; preferably of “oily” fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and trout. Use this chart to find out which fish is the highest in omega-3s.
  2. You can take a high-quality omega-3 supplement every day. When choosing a supplement look for the amount of EPA and DHA per serving and how much you need to get a full serving. Most health professionals recommend 250mg to 500mg of combined EPA and DHA per day for adults.
  3. Look for EPA and DHA-fortified foods and beverages at your local grocery store such as milk, yogurt, bread, and chocolate. Fortified foods typically have between 30-100 mg of EPA and DHA per serving.
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Looking to get a little more plants in your diet? The Truly Healthy Vegetarian Cookbook: Hearty Plant-Based Recipes for Every Type of Eater by Elizabeth Thomson has over 100 simple and easy vegetarian recipes to fit into any healthy eating plan. Here’s an inside look into this delicious cookbook, including two recipes. Plus, you can also enter to win your own copy in my giveaway below.

About the Cookbook
The introduction of the cookbook is by my registered dietitian colleague Dixya Bhattarai, MS, RD, LD. In the first chapter are tips to creating a healthy balanced vegetarian plate, and provides 15 snacks that can be whipped up in 10 minutes or less. Chapters include:

  •  Breakfasts
  • Snacks and Sides
  • Substantial Salads
  • Soups and Stews
  • Wraps, Sandwiches and Burgers
  • Roasted and Baked Dinners
  • Noodles, Rice and Pasta
  • Desserts

Each recipe includes the nutrition information and tags such as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, nut-free, soy-free, and low carb.  A few of the recipes that I plan to try are the Spinach Falafel Wraps, Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas, and Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowls. Elizabeth was kind enough to share her recipe for Coconut-Mango Smoothie.

Coconut-Mango Smoothie
Serves: 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Gluten-free, Dairy-free. Nut-free, Soy-free, Vegan

Ingredients:
1 cup ice cubes
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Instructions:
1. Blend the ice, mango, pineapple, coconut milk or almond milk in a blender until smooth.
2. Divide between two glasses and sprinkle with the coconut flakes and chia seeds (if using).

Nutrition information (per glass): Calories: 263; Fat: 10g; Carbs: 41g; Fiber: 5g; Sugars: 36g; Protein: 2g; Sodium: 88mg

Enter to Win!

One randomly selected commenter will win a copy of my cookbook The Truly Healthy Vegetarian Cookbook: Hearty Plant-Based Recipes for Every Type of Eater by Elizabeth Thomson. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below, which will run Monday 5/21/18 12:00 am ET through Friday 5/25/18 11:59 pm ET. Just click on the rafflecopter link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*NOTE: You do not need to purchase anything to win. Only open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. states, D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to enter. Rockridge Press has sponsored the prize offered and is responsible for shipping.

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Probiotics are still as popular as ever, and it’s no wonder since 60 to 70 million people in the U.S. are affected by a digestive disorders and are willing to try anything to relieve their symptoms. In addition to helping with a variety of digestive issues, probiotics are also through to help boost immunity and brain strength- so who wouldn’t be intrigued? You can find probiotics in tablets, powder form or added to foods like granola bars, cereals and beverages. But is taking a probiotic supplement necessary or can you just rely on our body to maintain a healthy gut?

What are probiotics?
Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your gut that can help maintain healthy digestion and boost your immune system. And the more strains (or varieties) you have, the better. While your digestive tract naturally produces good bacteria on its own, you can also increase levels by eating fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, tempeh, kimchi and sauerkraut or by taking a supplement.

What are the health benefits?
The healthy bacteria that live in your gut can help digest food and keep your immune system running efficiently. The good bacteria can also help your body fight off the bad bacteria and any pathogens that can enter into your digestive system. Studies have shown different strains of probiotics provide different health benefits so it’s important to take in a variety of strains.

Occasionally the balance between good and bad bacteria can be thrown off, leaving you with unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea and a supplement could help restore balance.  Some folks also find that taking a daily probiotic supplement is especially helpful during cold and flu season to fend off illness or to shorten the duration of it. Some studies have suggested that taking a probiotic supplement while on antibiotics can help prevent diarrhea, since antibiotics not only kill off the bad bacteria, but the good as well.

The research supporting the benefits that probiotics can have to the gastrointestinal system is pretty solid, but further research still needs to be done to determine whether or not they can help with conditions such as weight loss, diabetes and depression.

Bottom line
Supplements can be helpful in some cases, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First, if you choose to take a probiotic supplement, know that the FDA does not monitor them, so as with any supplement be sure to do your research to insure you are purchasing a high-quality product.

Also, there are no standard amounts of microbes required in food or supplements so read the label to know just how much you’re getting. A label containing a probiotic should also list the full name, including the genus, species and then the strain (such as S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus). You will also find a “use by” date on probiotics supplements since they contain live organisms and have a limited shelf life so be sure to take note of it.

Some people find they experience gas and bloating during the first few days of use, but most report these symptoms subsiding after the first 2-3 days. And as always, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor first before taking anything new. Anyone with a weakened immune system or currently undergoing chemotherapy is advised to avoid taking probiotic supplements. And a healthy gut is not achieved just by taking a probiotic supplement alone. It’s also important to have a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and find ways to manage stress levels to keep your digestive system in tip-top shape.

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By Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN

I have partnered with V8® as part of The V is for Vegetables campaign. I was compensated for my time commitment. However, my opinions are my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

I have always had an itch to be active.

As a teen, I played high school basketball and was the captain of the varsity team. Knowing how much I loved being a part of a team, as an adult I picked up competitive tennis and now play in several United States Tennis Association (USTA) leagues.

But things have changed since I was MVP of my high school team. These days I am much more aware of what I eat and drink, before, during, and after my intense activities. I also consider my daughter, who watches my every move.
As a mother, dietitian, and competitive athlete, it’s important for me to be a positive role model for my children. Over the years, I watch as my children mimic my behaviors and strive to accomplish some of the same things I have. Proper pre-workout meals, and post-workout snacks, as well as hydration are an important part of sports recovery, and it’s something that I encourage my children to consider when they are working out.

Here is how I make sure my family and I eat well with our busy and active lifestyle.

I play tennis, both doubles and singles, several times a week and have matches throughout the year. Before heading to my 90-minute practice or 2-hour matches, I make sure to eat a well-balanced meal.

Practices are in the morning, so breakfast is very important, and usually consist of an egg over-easy with whole wheat toast and sliced vegetables like cucumbers, red peppers, and tomatoes. It took a bit of trial and error to get it right! When I wasn’t fueled properly, I would run out of energy rather quickly. Now, I turn to 2 or 3 meal options that I love and can be confident that I am properly fueled and will feel good during my intense workout.

My fueling doesn’t stop when I am at practice or matches. I need to rehydrate on the court. During a match, I will do this when we switch sides on the tennis court. Water can do the trick in some cases, but if I play a 2 to 3-hour game of singles or I am playing outside in the heat, then I need the extra boost of and electrolytes or I will lose energy. My go-to-drink is always a 5.5 oz. can of V8® Original 100% Vegetable Juice. It is the perfect replenishment for electrolytes, and allows me to get 1 full serving of vegetables for fuel, with no added sugar.

What is most amazing to see is that my love for activity and proper nutrition, is now a shared love with my daughter!

Since the age of 3, my daughter Ellena has followed in my footsteps and been involved in sports, taking on gymnastics…after a lot of begging on her part.

Soon after she started, her coaches requested she join the competitive team at only 5 years old. She now competes in the USA Gymnastics league and we travel all over the New York area for competitions. She also has a demanding practice schedule that includes three hours of training, three days a week.

Ellena knows she needs to be fueled properly before, during, and after every meet and practice. After watching my routine with meals and snacks, she understands that proper planning is the key to staying energized throughout her practice or competition.

When she comes home from school at 3pm, she has a well-balanced meal. I like to serve full meals, not snacks, after school to avoid mindless junking. As such, I have kept to my own schedule and serve my kids dinner at 3pm. This way I know my daughter is fueled before hitting the gym.

Before heading to practice, Ellena is already thinking about post-practice replenishment. She goes into our V8® stash, and packs one in her gymnastics bag.

It truly is “like mother, like daughter.”

When I pick her up from practice, I find her drinking her V8® which helps her body replenish post-workout. It provides 320 mg of potassium per 5.5 oz. Potassium is an important electrolyte that helps with nerve function and muscle contraction. Plus, as we all know, getting kids to eat their vegetables can be a delicate game, but with this powerful drink packing 1 full serving of vegetables, I know she is getting exactly what her body needs.

Once we get home, Ellena feeds herself a more substantial snack of a half-sandwich or fruit and yogurt. She has always been a smart eater, but watching my eating habits when exercising and from years of experience, she has learned what works for her, and that is all I can hope for as a mother, dietitian and lifelong competitive athlete.

To get more information or to connect with V8, visit www.V8drinksome.com or follow on Instagram @V8 or post your favorite way to enjoy V8 and use the hashtags #TheVisforVegetable #drinksome

TIPS

Five Ways to Fuel a Busy Day – From Running Errands, Working Out, and Juggling Kids

  1. Keep your pantry stacked with powerful foods and drinks. I keep a stash of V8®Original 100% Vegetable Juice made with 100% vegetable juice in my pantry so I can easily grab it as I hustle out of the door. If you plan your pantry right, you’ll always be confident in choosing the right snack when you’re on the go.
  2. A great workout is only as good as your nutrition. To replenish after sports, I pack a V8® Original 100% Vegetable Juice into my workout bag. The electrolytes help to replenish with nutritious vegetables and powerful antioxidants.
  3. Post-workout, I drink V8® Original 100% Vegetable Juice. For 30 calories, I get 1 full serving of veggies, no added sugar, and nutritious vegetables and electrolytes.
  4. V8® Original 100% Vegetable Juice is also a perfect option for kids to sip on after sports to help the body replenish post-exercise with electrolytes. Plus, it’s a quick and easy way to get 1 full serving of veggies into their diet.
  5. V8® Original 100% Vegetable Juice contains as much as a small banana. Potassium is a great electrolyte to help you replenish after a workout or practice.

To get more information or to connect with V8, visit www.V8drinksome.com or follow on Instagram @V8 or post your favorite way to enjoy V8 and use the hashtags #TheVisforVegetable #drinksome

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