Health & Food

Demystifying Label Claims

Do you ever read label claims and wonder, “what the heck does this even mean?!”. I know I do! This post is meant to clear up some of the confusion when it comes to some very common label claims. SOURCE: ADA TIMES

Natural: While there is no specific definition, the FDA has not objected to the use of this term, as long as it is used in a truthful and non-misleading manor. The product should not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. The use of the term “natural” cannot be added to ingredients on the ingredient list (for example, a company cannot write, “natural salt”), with the exception of the phrase “natural flavorings”. The FDA does not regulate the use of this term, so you’ve got to trust the company from whom you are buying.Demystifying Label Claims 2Processed vs. Unprocessed: According to the Farm Bill of 2008, a processed food is one that has “been processed to the point it undergoes a change of character”. What does this mean? While many people consider frozen and canned fruits and vegetables, “processed”, this apparently is not accurate. Examples include; raw nuts (unprocessed) vs. roasted nuts (processed); edamame (unprocessed) vs. tofu (processed); a head of spinach vs. cut, pre-washed spinach (processed). Does this make you change your view of processed foods? I bet you had no idea tofu was considered processed!

Whole Food: Refers to foods that are not processed, refined, or have added ingredients. There are several different definitions of whole foods, but by most definitions, whole foods would include whole grains, dairy, fresh produce, meat, and fish. Basically, any food that appears in it’s most pure form, and which has undergone minimal processing.

Organic (meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy): These animals were not given antibiotics or growth hormones (Defined by the USDA)

Organic (plant foods): Produced without using most conventional pesticides; synthetic fertilizers bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. It is imperative that all farms be inspected to ensure that these standards have been followed, before allowing the “organic claim”. There are also USDA standards for organic handling and processing.

Three levels of Organic
100 Percent Organic: Products that are completely organic or made of only organic ingredients qualify for this claim and a USDA Organic seal.Demystifying Label Claims 3

Organic: Products in which at least 95 percent of its ingredients are organic quality for this claim and a USDA Organic seal.Demystifying Label Claims 4Made with Organic Ingredients: These foods are food products in which at least 70 percent of ingredients are certified organic. The USDA seal may not be used on these packages, but there can be a claim that the product is “made with organic ingredients”.

To read more about the USDA Organic Seal, click here

Live and Active Culture: When purchasing yogurt, always look for a claim that the yogurt contains “Live and Active Cultures”, not that is was made with them (because all yogurt is made with live and active cultures). This doesn’t necessarily mean it has a beneficial amount, but at least you know that there are some live and active cultures. Also look for the Live and Active Cultures seal (below), which represents the fact that the product has at least 100 million viable bacteria at the time of manufacturing. The addition of alternative probiotics (not just the ones used to make the yogurt) makes the yogurt even more unique. Look for probiotics such as L. bulgaricus, B. bifidus, L. casei, and L. reuteri on the ingredient list.

Free Range: Do you by free range chicken or eggs? Keep in mind this does not necessarily mean that the chickens were allowed to roam free all the time. This count possibly mean that the chickens were given access to the outside, but not at all times. “The USDA regulations do not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time an animal must have access to the outside” (Wikepedia). So while it’s nice to think that these chickens are 100% free to roam wherever they wish, this is likely not the case.

Antibiotic Free: This doesn’t really mean anything other than the fact that at the time of packaging, testing showed zero antibiotics in the animal. The animal could have been given antibiotics throughout its life, but they just so happen to be out of the system by the time of packaging. If you want 100% antibiotic free animal products, look for “Raised without antibiotics”, or buy Organic.

Giveaway Update

Chia Seed giveaway!

Coming Up

Tonight Nick and I are going to do a “semi-final” walk through of our two favorite houses. I want one, he wants the other. We will be keeping track of the positives and negatives of each, then reviewing them at the end and hopefully making a decision. I hope this ends well, we’ve actually been fighting over this house issue a lot lately. This has been much more difficult than I ever imagined. I think we’ll need to discuss our choice over a nice beer at our favorite local pub. Yeah, that sounds nice  That’s what Fridays are for!

This weekend I will be posting about the DHA/EPA and mercury levels in different fish. Until next time, have a great evening!

Health & Food

Broccoli; A True Superfood

Thanks for all of your wishes for a Happy National Registered Dietitian Day yesterday! You guys are so sweet and kind, what would I do without you?! I also enjoyed reading your comments about the quotes I posted from “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus”. Some of you disagreed with what the author said, and I find that I disagree with this book sometimes too. But overall the book has really helped me understand men much better, and has helped Nick understand ME!

Today I decided to dedicate my post to one of my favorite vegetables; BROCCOLI!

Broccoli; A True Superfood 6

Broccoli is an amazing vegetable. It’s a member of the “cruciferous” family of vegetables, which also includes brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, kale, and bok choy. Here are some of the reasons why I make sure to eat at least 1/2 cup of broccoli (or the others listed above), everyday:

  • Vitamin C for collagen repair (especially good for the small capillaries that help with circulation, and for gum health). Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, and works with other compounds in broccoli to increase it’s ability to act as an antioxidant.
  • Fiber for heart health and a healthy GI tract.
  • Folate for heart health and for DNA synthesis (especially important for young women who may become pregnant, or who are currently pregnant.)
  • Phytonutrients that act to bolster antioxidant defenses, and some of which actually act as
  • Phytoestrogens, which are “plant estrogens”. They act similar to human estrogen, but instead of binding to estrogen receptors on cancer cells, and helping to replicate the cancer, it binds to the receptor and preventsthe binding of human estrogen, thus preventing the growth of hormone sensitive cancers (prostate and breast cancer are two examples).
  • Beta-catoene, lutein, xeaxanthin (all carotenoids), which can help prevent numerous types of cancer (especially colon and bladder) and which help protect the eyes, and the skin from UV rays.
  • It takes GOOD!

Quick, Cheap, and Healthy Recipe #15
Broccoli Soup

(Serves 1)
1.5 cups steamed broccoli
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup 1% milk
1 T egg whites
1 t olive oil
1 ounce shredded white cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Possible Modifications

  • Use more broccoli!
  • Use more or less egg whites
  • Use any kind of milk you have available
  • Use any kind of cheese, and any amount (although keep in mind, cheese is high in saturated fat)
  • Use any seasonings you wish

Steam your broccoli!

Broccoli; A True Superfood 7

After steaming your broccoli, throw together each of the above ingredients, minus the cheese, into a Magic Bullet or other food processor. Blend until you reach desired consistency. Put the contents into a medium sized saucepan and cook on medium heat until you reach your desired temperature. Pour into a bowl, and sprinkle the cheese on top!

Nutrition Facts

Broccoli; A True Superfood 8

My Rate: 8 out of 10
(It could have used a bit more seasoning, and maybe a tad bit more cheese!)

Nick’s Rate: He hates soup, but he LOVES broccoli! Either way, he didn’t try this.

Yes I know, this doesn’t look very appetizing, but it does taste better than it looks!

Broccoli; A True Superfood 9

Coming Up

If you didn’t notice, there was no Biggest Loser review this week. I thought about watching the it on Tuesday, but then I realized, I really don’t enjoy it and I have better things to do with my time. I may or may not pick it back up next week, but that really depends on how much work I have to do. I apologize to those of who who enjoy reading it, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do! Tomorrow I will be posting about label claims (ex: Natural, Organic).

Sandwiches & Burgers

Turkey Burgers and Calorie Readouts on Exercise Equipment

Tuesday is coming to a close, and I’m pretty excited about it. A few updates; first, we went to see some new houses last night, with both Nick’s mother and my parents. It was exciting, the big day is getting closer!! Also, a funny story. Last night Nick and I discussed what we would choose if we could have three foods on a deserted island. Here is what he said: White Chocolate Wonderful, Dark Chocolate Dreams, and English Muffins! HA!

Quick, Cheap, and Healthy Recipe #15
Fiesta Turkey Burgers

3 ounces lean ground turkey
1/4 cup sliced bell pepper (any color)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp. cayenne powder

Possible Modifications

  • Use any type of ground protein
  • Use any type of-starchy vegetable
  • Use any spices, and amount of spices, you desire
  • Add some oil or avocado for added moisture

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, blend with clean hands.

** If you prefer to cook the peppers first, saute them in a pan with a bit of EVOO, to get them soft. This is not, however, necessary. I personally prefer a little crunch!**Turkey Burgers and Calorie Readouts on Exercise Equipment 11
Form into patties and cook evenly on both sides. Take the temperature of the patties and make sure the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees before consuming.Turkey Burgers and Calorie Readouts on Exercise Equipment 12

Place between a bun, or a slice of bread. Or eat however you please! Add condiments as you wish, and cheese if desired.Turkey Burgers and Calorie Readouts on Exercise Equipment 13

 Nick’s Rating: 9 out of 10
My rating: 8 out of 10
** Next time I will add a bit of oil, or avocado to the patties, for more moisture!**

Nutrition Information
(Includes one patty and 1 slice whole grain bread)

 Calorie Readouts on Exercise Equipment
Source: Today’s Dietitian Magazine

Are you one of the many individuals who tries to reach a desired calorie goal based off of what your exercise equipment spits out? While it’s ok to do that, be aware that the calorie readouts may not be as accurate as you might think.Turkey Burgers and Calorie Readouts on Exercise Equipment 14

  • The calorie readouts are a “ballpark estimate”, and the machines that are most accurate are the ones that require exercisers to bear their weight (ellipticals and treadmills are better than stationary bikes and rowing machines).
  • The best estimate will come from a machine that asks you to input your weight.
  • Even when you enter your weight, the estimate may not be as accurate as possible, as muscle is more metabolically active than fat, and the machines do not consider this.
  • Each machine uses a different equation to calculate calories burned (there are tons), so one machine might tell you one number, while another may claim you burned more or less.
  • Some studies have shown that treadmills overestimate calories by 10-20%.
  • For the bestworkout, don’t hold on to the sides of the machines. By doing so, you are doing yourself a disservice because you are decreasing calorie usage.
  • Trying to burn 400 calories? When your machine reaches the 400 calorie mark, go for five extra minutes. You will be much closer to the 400 calorie mark by that time.

Some thoughts: I used to be obsessed with looking at the calories that I burned while doing particular exercises, until I concluded that the science of “calories in, calories out” isn’t exact, so why waste my time and energy focusing on the calories? Similar to weighing yourself, focusing on any number, which can fluctuate throughout the day (weight) and with different machines (calorie readouts), makes the activity less fun, in my opinion. I think it’s more important to find an exercise you love to do and that provides a good challenge. More benefits will arise from doing different types of exercises, every day or every week. But If you still want to focus on calories burned, just remember the numbers are an estimate, and that’s ok, just as long as you’re aware.

Coming Up

I’ve been really busy with work lately, so I may or may not do a new post tomorrow. Either way, a Biggest Loser review is in the future! I’m excited for it to start back up again. I’ll also be doing a post on all those crazy label terms we see on the shelves.

Have a great night everyone! Thanks for reading.

Health & Food

Pizza From Scratch, and Being Active at Work

I hope you are all having fantastic weekends. Mine has been productive, and relaxing. Today I’m planning on doing some cooking for the week, and working on some blog posts for our workplace wellness company. For today’s post, I’m finally celebrating “from scratch weekends”! Melinda, this one is for you.

Quick, Cheap, and Healthy Recipe #14

Oat Bran Pizza Crust


3 cups oat bran flour

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 t oil (for your fingers when spreading the dough)

1 t salt

1.5 T sugar

1 cup warm water

Possible Modifications

  • Use whole wheat flour, or all purpose flour (less nutritious if you use the latter)
  • Use canola oil or just regular olive oil


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2) Combine and mix the flour, salt, sugar, and the yeast in a medium sized bowl. Next, add the EVOO and water.Pizza From Scratch, and Being Active at Work 16

(It sort of stuck to the side of the bowl. I just scrapped it off and put it back into the ball.)

3) Coat your hands with some oil, or non-stick spray. Use your hands to spread the dough evenly on a pizza pan, the larger the better.

4) Add topping as desired. Cook for 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven and how crispy you like your pizza!)

I put pizza sauce on Nick’s half, and EVOO on my half. Pizza sauce has spices in it that I cannot eat, as they are part of FODMAPS.Pizza From Scratch, and Being Active at Work 17

I ended up putting sauce on 3/4 of the pizza, because that’s how much Nick typically eats. One-fourth (or two large pieces) of the pizza is always sufficient for me, especially because I usually have pizza with a nice beer. On this particular night, it was a Great Lakes Burning River (pale ale).Pizza From Scratch, and Being Active at Work 18


  • Sauce or EVOO
  • Mozzarella cheese (Organic, I usuallybuy organic dairy) (~3/4 cup)
  • Chunks of grilled chicken (Trader Joe’s) (~3 ounces)
  • Green pepper (~1/2 cup, only on Nick’s side)
  • Spinach (~1/2 cup, only on my side)
  • Tomato (~1/4 cup, only on my side)

Basil (~1 T)

Garlic (~2 t)

Cayenne (~1/2 t)Pizza From Scratch, and Being Active at Work 19

Nick’s Rating: 10 out of 10Pizza From Scratch, and Being Active at Work 20

My Rating: 9 out of 10

** While this pizza was AMAZING I will use a larger pizza pan the next time I make it. The pieces were really thick and that made it difficult to get the middle crust completely cooked. It was so thick I could barely eat my two pieces, and in fact, Nick only had two pieces himself!! I have never seen him eat only two pieces, EVER. **Pizza From Scratch, and Being Active at Work 21

Nutrition Facts for the CRUST Only

(Serving Size: 1/8 of the pizza)Pizza From Scratch, and Being Active at Work 22
** This crust received a C+ rating, but once you add some healthy toppings, like lots of veggies and calcium-packed cheese, it will be a healthier meal!! Also, it is better than a crust made with white flour, as this one provided almost 5 grams of fiber per slice! **

Being Active During the Day

Many people responded to the comment I made on my post a couple days ago, regarding the fact that working out once a day isn’t necessarily the end all be all when it comes to weight management and overall health. Some people think they can workout for an hour, then sit on their butt all day, but this just doesn’t cut it! I’m not saying you need to be walking and moving all day, but if you workout for 60 minutes, then go to your job and sit all day, that’s a problem. What can you do to get a little more activity into your day?

  • Park far away whenever you go anywhere. This will force you to walk more.
  • Get up and walk to the furthest bathroom wheneveryou have to go.
  • Get up and walk to the furthest drinking fountain, wheneveryou need a drink.
  • Instead of paging someone, get up and personally tell them the message.
  • Walk to your car and back during your lunch break.
  • Do a set of push-ups (10 slow) every 30 minutes
  • Ask about getting a Wii for the office!
  • Ask your boss about sitting on a stability ball during work. Sitting on a stability ball, rather than a chair, will require the use of different muscles, rather than sitting in a nice relaxing chair, which requires use of very few muscles.

Health & Food

Mock Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta

I have a couple things I want to say. First, I updated the list of food I eat at night, on yesterday’s post, so if you were one of the first 15 people to read it and you want a really candid view, check out the “night time eating” section again! I realized I wasn’t completely honest, so I added more foods as I thought about it more. I do more mindless eating than I thought (I paid attention to it last night), so if you’re curious, check it out.

Second, I was wrong about 1/2 cup cooked vegetables counting as 1 cup of vegetables, apparently that’s not true anymore! Yikes, I need to update my MyPyramid knowledge. It is true for some veggies, mainly leafy greens. To learn more, click here. That being said, I only counted cooked veggies as 1 cup one time, so I still reached my fruit and veggie goal.

I received a lot of questions on yesterday’s post. I tried to answer most of them, but some of you don’t have blogs so I don’t know how to contact you. Please leave your e-mail if you ask a question, thanks! If you asked about Nutritional Yeast, click the link to read more. Here are a couple of questions I received:

Q: I get really bad stomach pains occasionally from eating certain foods and have to take gas X. I don’t take it consistently because I’m afraid that taking too much gas X or beano would have negative effects on me somehow. So sometimes I just suffer through the pain! I know from reading your blog that you rely on beano and (I think) Gas x for your stomach and I was wondering what your opinion was about taking these regularly!

A: This really depends on what you mean by “stomach pain”. If it’s gas and bloating, I say take the Gas X, if it helps. But remember, Gas X will not prevent gas and bloating, it will help relieve your gas and bloating (aka, it helps you fart!). If you want to prevent it in the first place, take Beano. I really don’t think you can take too much Beano, as there is no note on the bottle as far as how many to consume in a day. It’s very safe, and very effective. Rather than being afraid to eat veggies, I say take Beano whenever you can! As for the Gas X, the box says no more than 4 in a 24 hour period. If you take Beano, you shouldn’t really need the Gas X, but if your stomach pain isn’t from gas and bloating, you may want to see a doctor.

Q: Do you follow a general calorie allowance each day? or just follow your hunger cues? how often do you work out? do you incorporate both strength and cardio?

A: I typically consume around 1700-2400 calories a day (2400 on weekends because we eat out and I usually have drinks). I don’t count calories, and I do eat by my hunger cues (intuitively!), but I have counted my calories before so I know the rough estimate of how many calories I consume. I workout 5 days a week, for 45-60 minutes each time. I do pilates and/or yoga twice a week, weights (using the band, and 8 pound weights for my arms and legs) about 3 times a week, and the elliptical or treadmill 4-5 times a week, for 30-40 minutes each time. I am also very active during the day, and rarely sit. This helps. Exercise is NOT the only thing you should do to maintain weight. If you aren’t active during the day, exercise isn’t going to make much of a difference. I stand all day, rather than sitting. If you can do that, I suggest it (I put my laptop on my ironing board!)

Quick, Cheap, and Healthy Recipe #13
Mock Pesto and Noodles

I love pesto sauce, who the heck doesn’t?! But I don’t always have the ingredients on hand. For my 2010 cookbook I wanted to come up with a recipe for pesto that uses ingredients that most people have in their home, which is really the purpose of my cookbook. With this idea I decided to try my own version of pesto, using dried basil and walnuts (or any nut). Thanks to my handy-dandy Magic Bullet, this was achievable.

I used brown rice pasta, which is both gluten and wheat free (yeah!). For anyone who is on a gluten or wheat free diet, I recommend this product as an alternative to whole wheat noodles. The nutrition facts are fairly similar, although the brown rice pasta has less protein (kind of a bummer if you are a vegetarian).Mock Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta 24

Ingredients In Mock Pesto Sauce
(makes 3 servings)

1/2 cup half and half **
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup walnuts
3 T basil
1 T parmesan cheese
1 t olive oil
1 t garlic powder **
1/2 t salt

Throw all ingredients together in a blender or Magic Bullet, and blend!

**NOTE:  If you are following a low FODMAPs diet, be aware that the half and half and garlic powder contains FODMAPs.  You could use a garlic-infused oil instead, and omit the garlic powder, but if you’re lactose intolerant the half and half may cause problems.  Look for a dairy-free half and half or take a Lactaid pill if you want to try this recipe!Mock Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta 25

Possible Modifications

  • Use any type of nut, or pine nuts
  • Use less milk or less half and half to make a thicker sauce
  • Use any type of milk
  • Add more basil
  • Add other spices

Nutrition Facts
(includes the pesto sauce plus 1 cup whole grain pasta)

I served it with my turkey meatballs and a side of spinach and green beans.Mock Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta 26

I also served it (another night) with some fun green “spinach” noodles.Mock Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta 27

My Rate: 7.5 out of 10
It was good, but definitely not pesto. I may try to work with this a little more to make it thicker. It has true potential!

Coming Up

I may or may not post tomorrow, as I really need to catch up on reading all of your blogs! I am getting behind again since I will only allow myself to read 15 per day.

Health & Food

Food and Supplement Label Claims

I hope everyone is having a nice weekend! Last night Nick and I went bowling with some of my friends, and their husbands, from my dietetic internship. It was pretty fun, despite the fact that we all stunk at bowling. Tonight we are going to dinner with his family, which is always a good time.I wanted to clear something up before I get into the topic of today’s post. On Tuesday when I posted about supplements, Karen reminded to explain to my readers that supplements are not evaluated by the FDA prior to going on the market. I failed to mention that, but it’s an important piece of information to point out. Supplements are treated life foods, rather than drugs. It’s actually up to the manufacturer to make sure supplements are safe and efficacious. But you know manufacturer’s are only out to make money, so can they be trusted? Some can, others can’t, that’s the risk you take. If you remember anything, remember this; NATURAL IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH SAFE! You also never know about the quality of a supplement, or whether what is reported on the label is actually what you are consuming, as this is not evaluated by the FDA either. However, there are third party companies that will come in and analyze the quality of supplements. The manufacturer pays extra for this service.

Remember to look for these symbols, which will indicate that a supplement has been tested for quality, contamination, and proper strength:Food and Supplement Label Claims 29Food and Supplement Label Claims 30Label Claims
There are three different types of label claims, two of which I will discuss here.

#1) Health Claims

Definition: Health claims link a nutrient in a food or supplement with the decreased risk of a certain disease or condition.

Regulation: The FDA is responsible for making sure foods and supplements make health claims that are not false and misleading. Normally the FDA will review a health claim prior to the product being put on the market. There are many qualified health claims, which you can view here. Does the FDA actually test the food or supplement to make sure it actually contains what the health claim says? Nope. That would just take too long, even though it would be nice.

If a product’s health claim is ever brought into question, the FDA will re-analyze the claim. A good example would be Cheerios, which in May of 2009 was brought to the attention of the FDA because their claim to help reduce cholesterol and thus reduce heart disease wasn’t really stated clearly, or in an appropriate manor.

Some Examples of Health Claims

– ” This food is an excellent source of calcium, which has been shown to decrease risk for osteoporosis.”

– “This product is low in sodium. Low sodium diets may help prevent high blood pressure.”
– “The fiber in this product has been shown to decrease risk for some types of cancer.“

# 2) Structure/Function Claims

Definition: Structure/Function claims link a certain nutrient in a product or supplement with a certain function in the body.

Regulation: How many time have you read a food or supplement label and thought to yourself, “Who regulates these? How can this company make this claim?!”. The FDA doesn’t regulate these claims until after they have been on the market, and after someone suggests to the FDA that the claim should be reviewed (similar to the Cheerios example, with the claim to “help reduce cholesterol”, which was written in a way that made it sound like Cheerios was a drug that could be used as a cholesterol lowering agent).

Some Examples of Structure/Function Claims

–  Calcium can build strong bones

–  Fiber can keep you regular

Supplements are required to have the FDA disclaimer for all structure/function claims.

“This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”

 Question: Would you like to add anything to my label claim discussion?

Entrees (Meat & Poultry)

Nutritional Yeast, Fish, and Prenatal Vitamins

Thanks for all of your wonderful comments on my last post, regarding The Raw Food Diet. It seems as though most of you agreed with me that while the Raw Food Diet can be a healthy way of living, it’s a little too extreme and unrealistic for most people (including even the most nutrition savvy individuals!).

Today has been a really bad day, as I woke up to find my car had been hit in the parking lot, with no note (of course). Right as Nick and I are trying to purchase our first home, this has to happen. Oh well, life isn’t fare.

I received a question yesterday that I would like to answer.

Q: I was wondering what you think of woman who are not pregnant and not planning on becoming pregnant, taking prenatal vitamins or a prenatal vitamin.

A: I think some women do this as a way to grow their hair faster, and longer nails, right? I think I have heard of women doing this before. In reality it’s not smart because prenatal vitamins will be very high in two nutrients that you do not want to get too much of; iron and folate. Some studies have linked high doses of folate (1000 mcg from supplements and food combined) with cancer. Many prenatal vitamins will provide close to that amount (for the purpose of helping the baby!). The iron in these supplements is also high (maybe up to 25 mg). This amount of iron is not healthy or necessary for a women who is not pregnant. It can cause constipation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The upper limit (UL) for iron is 45 mg. By taking a prenatal vitamin with 25 mg of iron, you are at risk of reaching that amount, especially if you eat fortified cereals!

The Low Down on Fish

If you are interested in learning about fish, and which seafood has the highest amount of EPA and DHA, check out my blog post for out work website, here.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast was introduced to me by several of you. I had never thought to use it, as my diet is full of plenty of vitamins, minerals, and protein, but I saw it at Whole Foods the other day and wanted to give it a try, just for fun. It’s deactivated yeast and is produced by culturing the yeast with a mixture of sugarcane and beet molasses, then harvesting, washing, drying and packaging the yeast (Source: Wikepedia). It’s flavor is said to be, “nutty, cheesy, and creamy” and it’s nutritional profile is incredible; B12, riboflavin, folate, thiamin, complete protein, fiber, and potassium.

It tasted great on top of some spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce and ground turkey….Nutritional Yeast, Fish, and Prenatal Vitamins 32

It added some flavor to my boring egg whites…..Nutritional Yeast, Fish, and Prenatal Vitamins 33

And I also added it to some popcorn, kale chips, and last night’s baked potato!

Question: If you use nutritional yeast, how do you use it?

Coming Up

Tomorrow I will post a “Nutrition Tidbit” about food and supplement labeling laws. I will also post about a new product I recently tried; Yoplait Greek yogurt!

Have a great night everyone, and thanks for reading.

Health & Food

Turkey Meatballs and The Raw Food Diet

The title of the post is indeed a complete contradiction, but once you read my thoughts about the “Raw Food Diet” you will sort of see why. I hope everyone had a great Hump Day. This week does seem to be going pretty darn fast, is it just me?! I’m excited to share with you the following recipe, which was inspired by a recipe I found on the blog; Gluten Free Gidget.

Quick, Cheap, and Healthy Recipe #13

Turkey Meatballs


(makes 8 small meatballs)

1/2 pound lean turkey

3 ounces fresh spinach

1 egg

2 T cornmeal

1 T low sodium chicken brother

1.5 t basil

1 t garlic powder

1/2 t onion powder

1/2 t pepper

1/2 t salt

1/4 t cayenne pepper


After gathering all the ingredients, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or spread with a light layer of oil.

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size bowl and mix together with clean hands, until well blended.Turkey Meatballs and The Raw Food Diet 35

Create 8 small balls (about 1.5 inches in diameter) with the mixture. Place on a baking sheet. Pop into the oven for about 20 minutes. Cut one open to make sure there is no pink inside! Let them cool for about 5 minutes, then enjoy over some spaghetti, or even plain.Turkey Meatballs and The Raw Food Diet 36

Nutrition Facts

Each meatball contains about 50 calories, but the following nutrition facts are for a meal consisting of 1 cup whole wheat pasta, 2 meatballs, and 1/2 cup of pasta sauce.Turkey Meatballs and The Raw Food Diet 37

Nick and My Rate: 9 out of 10

My only complaint was that they were sort of dry, but the sauce really helped. Strangely, Nick didn’t find them dry at all! This recipe was a keeper. The sauce in the above picture is a modified pesto sauce, which I will be posting about soon.

The Raw Food Diet; From An RD’s Perspective

Here is the definition of “The Raw Diet” from Wikipedia:

Raw foodism (or rawism) is a lifestyle promoting the consumption of uncooked, unprocessed, and often organic foods as a large percentage of the diet. Raw foodists typically believe that the greater the percentage of raw food in the diet, the greater the health benefits. Raw foodism or a raw diet is usually equated with raw veganism in which only raw plant foods are eaten, but other raw foodists emphasize raw meat and other raw animal products. Depending on the type of lifestyle and results desired, raw food diets may include a selection of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds (including sprouted whole grains such as Gaba rice), eggs, fish (such as sashimi), meat (such as carpaccio), and non-pasteurized/non-homogenized dairy products (such as raw milk, raw milk cheese, and raw milk yogurt). Raw foodists can be divided between those that advocate raw vegetarianism or raw veganism, and those that advocate a raw omnivorous diet.Turkey Meatballs and The Raw Food Diet 38

(Reasons why the Raw Food Diet may be beneficial, in my opinion)

– Some studies have shown that cooked meats, cooked at high temperatures, could produce carcinogens.

– Some studies have shown that cooking with added sugars, or cooking foods that have sugar, could produce agents that are correlated with inflammation in the body.

– Some studies show a decrease in the amount of protein digestibility when proteins are cooked to high heat.

– Some nutrients are destroyed by cooking, or lost in the water in which they are cooked.

– You’ll most likely be getting plenty of fruits and vegetables if you follow this diet!
( Reasons why I don’t necessarily like the Raw Food Diet, for myself, that is.)

– While some studies have shown that cooking meats to high temperatures could produce carcinogens, it’s still not clear how much you would have to consume in order for any problems to occur. There are also several ways to reduce the possible production of these carcinogens.

– Eating raw meat or raw produce is a serious risk factor for foodborne illness

– If you eat sugar in moderation, bullet number three above should NOT be a problem.

– A decrease in protein digestibility is not something most Americans should worry about, as we are getting too much protein in our diets anyway, in my opinion.

– While some nutrients are lost from cooking and leached into the water, other nutrients (lycopene for example) are better absorbed when cooked. Not only that, but it’s pretty clear that minimal nutrients are lost when foods are cooked for short periods of time only (microwaves are best) and when minimal water is used (steam your foods to prevent nutrient loss in water).

– It just seems so inconvenient! It would be hard for anyone to eat out and go to parties or social events if following a raw food diet plan. Some RDs also suggest that Raw Food Diets may be potentially low in B12 (only found in animal products), vitamin D, and calories (but this really depends on how well the person understands nutrition, some may not be deficient in these).

– For someone with GI issues, raw food can sometimes be their worst enemy! By cooking vegetables they can be digested much easier.

Bottom Line: I’m going to continue cooking my meat and steaming my veggies. If you want to start eating raw, more power to you! It isn’t going to mean you are healthier, necessarily, but if you do it right it may have some health benefits. It will likely take a lot of practice to really get used to this type of diet, and to learn how to obtain all the proper nutrients while living this lifestyle. As always, I like to suggest the use of a standard diet, full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products (or dairy alternatives), with sweets and processed foods in moderation. Even this way of eating is difficult for many, so why make life harder for both you, and the company that surrounds you, by avoiding any cooked foods? A better approach may be the macrobiotic diet, which Diana of Soap and Chocolate blogged about in October. Check it out here. This diet does include cooked foods but also focuses on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and seriously limits the intake of processed foods.

Another blogger, Sagan of “Living Healthy in the Real World” recently did a one month “Raw Food Diet” challenge! Check out her recaps here and here, they are very informative and provide some fantastic information about the life of a raw foodist.

Question: What are your thoughts on the raw food diet?

Coming Up
Depending on my productivity level tomorrow, I may or may not be posting about food labels, and the regulation (or lack of) of supplements and food labels. If not tomorrow, I’ll be doing this post on Friday. As for now, I’m off to watch LOST with Nick! He has officially sucked me in, ugh.

Have a great night, and thanks for reading!

Health & Food

Your Questions About Dietary Supplements, Answered!

Warning, this is a long one, but I really think it’s worth reading, or maybe printing to read later. Pass this information around so people know the resources and what to look for when purchasing a safe and high-quality supplement (if needed).Your Questions About Dietary Supplements, Answered! 40

Question 1: If we eat a balanced diet, do we really need a supplement?

Answer 1: This depends on your definition of a “balanced diet”. There is a reason why the food guide pyramid and the US Dietary Recommendations exist if you follow these recommendations you should get all of the proper nutrients you need. In reality, very few people follow these guidelines. You should be getting 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables, at least 3-4 servings of whole-grain (one serving equals 16 grams), 2-3 servings of dairy (includes soy drinks and yogurts) and plenty of protein (which is NOT hard to do). If you find it hard to reach this goal, I would suggest a multivitamin. Even I, one of the few Americans who follow the guidelines, used to take a half multivitamin every day just to assure myself. I knew this wouldn’t be harmful. I take a full multivitamin (generic Flintstone) one now because I am not eating fortified cereals or bread anymore, and because of my malabsorption issues. That being said, another reason you may want to take a multivitamin is if you eat all organic foods. Organic foods are not fortified or enriched, so especially young females may need a supplement for iron and folate.

Question 2: Can you get too much of some vitamins and minerals?

Answer 2: YES, and this is the reason why taking a bunch or even just a few, supplements can be dangerous. It’s almost impossible to overdose if you aren’t taking a supplement, or if you are just taking one multivitamin a day. Some people take several supplements and don’t realize how much of each nutrient they are consuming. This can be very dangerous. Most people who overdose are taking multivitamins that have way too much of certain nutrients. Specific vitamins to watch out for are vitamin E, niacin, and folate. Some supplement companies put way too much of these nutrients in their product, and many people take more vitamin E thinking that the more antioxidants they consume, the better. This is NOT the case. Too many antioxidants can actually have a negative effect.

Here is Nutrition Action’s list of recommended multivitamins:

Best Brands for Premenopausal Women

  • Nature’s Bounty ABC Plus
  • One-A-Day Maximum
  • Sundown Advanced Formula Sunlite
  • Sundown Naturals Complete Daily

Best Brands for Men and Postmenopausal Women

One-A-Day Men’s Health Formula

One-A-Day Men’s 50+ Advantage

The above vitamins were chosen because they all contained the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals. Notice there are no specialty supplements on the lists. These are just the cheap ones you pick up at your local pharmacy. There is no need to waste your money on the really expensive brands.Your Questions About Dietary Supplements, Answered! 41

If you have some multivitamins at home, make sure they contain the following:

Vitamin A: No more than 4,000 IU

Beta-Carotene: No more than 5,000 IU (there is no upper limit for beta carotene from food)

Vitamin C: 60-1,000 mg

Vitamin D: 400 IU or more

Vitamin E: 30-100 IU

Vitamin K: 20 mcg or more

Thiamin (B1): 1.2 mg or more

Riboflavin (B2): 1.7 mg or more

Niacin (B3): 16-35 mg

Vitamin B6: 2-100 mg

Folic Acid: No more than 400 mcg (** if you are taking a multivitamin to avoid eating cereals or bars that provide 100% of the DV of folate!!**)

Vitamin B12: 6 mcg or more

Calcium: Don’t rely on a supplement! (**Men shouldn’t have more than 200 mg in their multi**)

Iron: No more than 10 mg (**Premenopausal women should have 18mg in their multi, men and postmenopausal may not need any in their supplement)

Phosphorus: No more than 350 mg

Magnesium: 100-350 mg

Zinc: 8-23 mg

Copper: .9-10 mg

Selenium: 20-105 mcg

Chromium: 35 mcg or more

NOTE: “OR MORE” does not mean there is no upper limit, only that the level in a majority of multivitamins are not high enough to cause harm

Source: Nutrition Action Healthletter

Quality symbols to look for on your supplement

Question 3: I hate veggies and don’t get as many as I should, should I be taking any supplements? Multi, fish, or joint supplement??

Answer 3: Normally I would suggest trying to incorporate more vegetables and fruits, slowly, until you reach the daily recommendation (most people just want an easy fix so they can eat their McDonald’s crap and then be “healthy” by taking a multivitamin) For the person who asked this question I know they just don’t like veggies (and have tried)! I would say a multivitamin is probably a good idea, since it’s clear you will never be reaching the 5-9 servings a day recommendation. Keep in mind, however, research shows that whole foods, rather than supplements, are better absorbed, and they provide a type of “synergy” where the compounds in the foods all work together to provide their benefits, which is much better than just taking a supplement with single nutrients all in one capsule. I don’t recommend fish oil unless you don’t eat any fish, then I would say it wouldn’t hurt to take one. As for a joint supplement, there just isn’t enough research backing up their efficacy!

Question 4: I should REALLLLLY take Beano. mmmm is it expensive?

Answer 4: Yeah, it’s sort of expensive (about $18 for 100). This may not sound like a lot of money, but the serving size is 2-3 per serving of “offending” food. If you are like me and take the pills with 1-2 foods each day, they disappear pretty fast. Coupons are often available, and trust me, these babies work!Your Questions About Dietary Supplements, Answered! 42Question 5: Do you know which vitamin is good to take for leg cramps??? My calves have been so sore and they feel like they are two seconds away from Charlie Horse.Your Questions About Dietary Supplements, Answered! 43

Answer 5: Muscle cramps are caused by dehydration, muscle fatigue, and electrolyte deficits. A specific nutrient is not recommended, but be sure to drink a Gatorade or Powerade if you are working out hard, for more than an hour. You can get the calorie free one (G2) if you want. Another option would be to start eating a banana daily, and just make sure you are getting 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and drinking the correct amount of fluid (take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2). Low blood calcium could also be the cause. Make sure you consume 3 servings of dairy, or at least 1000 mg calcium per day (for those under age 50).

Question 6: Do you know anything more on the acceptance of Truvia and rejection of stevia? I use pure stevia extract, but mainly for hot beverages and yogurt only.

Answer 6: There is really not much information available that goes beyond what Wikepedia says. You will find a lot of different information from people who try to claim that Stevia has been approved, but the truth is it has not. Do I think it’s dangerous? Not really. At least not any more than any other sweetener. But again, when people use too much, it can be dangerous. This is from Wikepedia:

  • In the United States, rebaudioside A is generally recognized as safe (GRAS)as of December 2008.
  • Critics note that the FDA has not actually permitted the stevia plant itself to be used as a food additive, but only the rebaudioside A extract
  • In May 2008, Coke and Cargill announced the availability of Truvia, a consumer brand stevia sweetener containing erythritol and Rebiana, which the FDA permitted as a food additive in December 2008

Studies have not shown Stevia to be 100% safe. Diabetics could have major side effects from Stevia (specifically high doses) due to its the effect on blood sugar (could dangerously decrease blood sugar).

Question 7: I should probably take some Vitamin D. I work all day in a dark room (no lights or windows!) So maybe this would be something I should look into?

Answer 7: All you need is 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight, twice a week, between 10 am and 3 pm, in order to get enough vitamin D. Working in a dark room really doesn’t mean you can’t get out for 15 minutes and get some sun. If you don’t get even 15 minutes of sun, twice a week, I would probably recommend a supplement (especially during the winter when it’s much more difficult to get sun!). Keep in mind, however, vitamin D is also found in some yogurts, milk, and bony fish.

Coming Up

Tonight I am home alone, without the Biggest Loser! As sad as that is, I have really been enjoying the Olympics so I think I’ll survive. Tomorrow’s post will include a new recipe and my thoughts on the “Raw Food Diet”.

Thanks for reading, and have a great night/day!

Soups and Chilis

Easy Chili and Valentine’s Day Surf and Turf

I hope everyone had a great weekend! It’s snowing like crazy here in Columbus, and it’s literally pitch white (instead of pitch black..haha). I’ve got a lot to share today, so let’s get started.

2010 Cookbook, Quick, Cheap, and Healthy Recipe #12

Thick and Meaty Chili

(Makes 2 large servings, or 3 small)

6 ounces cooked ground turkey
1/2 can tomato, with all the juice
1/4 can black beans
2 T tomato paste
1/4 cup red pepper
1 t. basil
1 t onion powder
1 t cumin
1 t garlic
1/2 t cayenne

Possible Modifications
– Use any protein you wish
– Use any kind of bean you wish
– Add any other vegetables you wish
– Add more or less of any of the spices!

This is EASY AS PIE. Throw everything into a large pan, turn on the heat, and cook until desired temperature is reached. YEAH!Easy Chili and Valentine’s Day Surf and Turf 45I served mine over some spinach, and added some grated parmesan, and Red Hot.Easy Chili and Valentine’s Day Surf and Turf 46Nutrition Facts
(for one large serving)Easy Chili and Valentine’s Day Surf and Turf 47My Rating: 9 out of 10
This recipe was SO EASY! And I just love chili, no matter what, so it deserved a 9 more it’s easy prep and delicious taste.

Nick’s Rating: 9 out of 10
He added extra Red Hot to his, and it was VERY SPICY

Surf and Turf From My Valentine

I thought of a new job for Nick on Friday (when we celebrated V-day) and that is to be a food safety inspector! See the plate below? I put the lobster on the same plate as the fillets, so I could get a picture. WELL the food safety “Natzi” yelled at me and said you can’t put seafood and raw meat together because that could cause “cross contamination”. But they haven’t been cooked yet!, I said. Apparently it doesn’t matter. Ooops.Easy Chili and Valentine’s Day Surf and Turf 48Despite a couple “wrong moves” I made in the kitchen, and despite having the tiniest kitchen on this planet, we came together and made an AMAZING meal. We used Alton Brown’s recipe for steak fillets, and set off the smoke alarm… least we know it works!Easy Chili and Valentine’s Day Surf and Turf 49We used a simple recipe for the lobster. Basically we steamed the lobster tails in salty water for 10 minutes. EASY! The hard part was getting to the meat. My goodness, we paid a ton of money for about 4 ounces of lobster. It was worth it though.Easy Chili and Valentine’s Day Surf and Turf 50Our final dinner consisted of freshly baked sweet potato, sauteed spinach, lobster tail with garlic and basil butter, and medium rare fillets. For drinks we had our favorite pale ale, Sierra Nevada. Not pictured is the blue cheese we added to our steaksEasy Chili and Valentine’s Day Surf and Turf 51Freshly dipped lobster tail. Devoured in ten seconds.Easy Chili and Valentine’s Day Surf and Turf 52Dessert: Gluten free brownies (which actually have more sugar than the regular kind..why were the in the “healthy” section again???) and homemade chocolate ice cream with peanut butter chips.Easy Chili and Valentine’s Day Surf and Turf 53Coming Up

Tomorrow I’ll be answering your questions from Sunday’s supplement post! Also if you’re interested in reading about some 2010 Fitness trends, I wrote a new blog post for our workplace wellness website; 2010 Fitness Trends.