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Kid-Approved Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese Launches ‘Pimp That Recipe’ Makeover Series

By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America

The idea behind most recipe makeovers is to take out or replace the “naughty” foods with “lighter” versions in order to reduce the big numbers from calories and fat. While reducing numbers is a piece of the health puzzle it doesn’t tell the whole story. Specifically since high fat/high calorie items are frequently replaced with chemically processed or highly processed “lite” versions which leaves a recipe that, quite frankly, can have a negative impact on your overall health.

This recipe makeover, however, is based on a non-reductive food philosophy; one that doesn’t just rely on taking high calorie foods OUT but focuses on adding the right foods IN. Adding in real whole foods, clean foods, foods as close to nature as possible.

So off we go with a new way of re-doing recipes. Pimp That Recipe will take your favorite comfort foods and upgrade them to a new, wholly health supportive, nourishing, satiating, and delicious version. Surely you’re on board with that!

Pimp That Recipe Mission 1: Macaroni and Cheese

I am jumping right out of the gate with a tough one. Macaroni and cheese is delicious. There, I said it. I understand why many of my clients are in love with this rich, creamy indulgence. But, holy cow traditional macaroni and cheese is not a waist-friendly food. It typically weighs in at 600 calories and 30 grams of fat per serving, with very little micro-nutrients to speak of. Additionally, the standard white pasta and heavy dairy will wreak havoc on gut health, blood sugar stabilization, and your body’s ability to effectively burn fat. Let’s turn this yummy delight into a health friendly, (yet delicious) masterpiece. Shall we?
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The Scientific Quest for a “Healthy” Cheese Leaves us Flavorless

By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America

In a world of endless food “science” it isn’t terribly surprising that even the mighty cheese is subject to investigation, processing, and testing in an attempt to create a cheese-like-food-product that scientists will deem “healthier” by reducing sodium and fat. In this never ending quest to make all food “diet worthy” and eternal dieters “happy” there is no food spared from their turn in the science wheel. Yet, each time we’ve attempted to replace a natural, whole food with a processed version of the food the results of “health” have not exactly worked out.

Case in point: changing butter to margarine. The partially hydrogenated fats that were originally thought to be much healthier then butter’s saturated fat have since proved to be the exact opposite. Why would a “new” cheese be any better?

The average American consumes nearly 30 pounds of cheese per year; that is an awful lot of fat and salt. But, cheese is so much more than a block of fat and salt, it has a story, a life, a history.

If you have ever spent time with a cheese expert or any amount of time in a real cheese haven like Murray’s cheese shop in New York City, you may have been graced with some of the history and story behind cheese. Stories of generations of sheep farmers in France creating glorious cheese from humble resources, or small American artisinal cheese makers who, with a much shorter history of cheese making, are taking this culinary world by storm. Cheese has been consumed as a traditional food in many cultures for literally thousands and thousands of years, and yet it is just in the last 50+ years that we are seeing the steep decline in the health of people. It makes us ask, is cheese really to blame?
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Play More and Eat Less During August Family Fun Month

By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America

There is something inherently playful about August. Even as we are bombarded with the reality that fall is just around the corner and the kiddies will soon be off to school there is a bubbling mischievous and naughty nature about the final weeks of summer. We just want to play hooky, have fun, let loose, experience life, swim, frolic and laugh.

What if we allowed ourselves to do just that? What if play became more important and food less important? What if you spent a day like any 4-year-old where food was absolutely secondary to FUN.

There is a delicate balance that begs to be struck between nourishment from life and nourishment from food. When life is out of balance (unhappy career, long work days, little to no sleep) food can creep in to try to fill the void. When our very essence is begging for fun and our “busy trap” keeps us from having fun it’s amazing how food seems like the solution. What if we satisfied the need for fun? Would food become less important?

Here are three ways to increase your play and upgrade your fun in these last few weeks of summer and allow food to be secondary to the immense joy that a summer frolic can offer.
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3 Eating Tips from the Fab Five Gymnasts

Karen Sherwood for Nutritious America

Every four years I am more inspired by the determination and power of the amazing athletes who compete in the Olympic Games. Gymnastics is one of the most-watched events in London this year as millions of people are glued to their televisions to witness the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, nicknamed “Fab Five,” and their quest for Olympic gold. Not since the Magnificent Seven in 1996 did a women’s gymnastics team win a gold medal and these five young ladies are ready to make it happen again! As teenagers, the pressure they are under is unimaginable, yet they hop onto their balance beams with poise and stamina.

Watching Gabby Douglas float gracefully across the mat, and Kyla Ross soar what looks to be eight-feet above the uneven bars, leaves a curious nutritionist wondering… what in the world are these teenagers eating that they look and move like superheros? More importantly, is it something sustainable and realistic? I began to investigate.

While their meal plans weren’t publicly listed (aside from Aly Raisman’s chocolate milk as a recovery drink), from what I discovered they have a great support system of coaches, trainers, and family members who do their best to look after them. Don’t underestimate these gals just because they’re young, they know how to create a safe and healthy relationship with food on their own. Fab Five member Aly Raisman takes her eating very seriously and knows that a nourished body means a better performance. A nice balance of healthy foods along with occasional “fun foods” always takes the gold. Too much restriction can be dangerous for young women since they are already susceptible to things like eating disorders brought on by media hype and the pressure of competition. 
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Beat Summer Bloat with 3 Green Foods

By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America

The lazy, hazy days of summer are here; long days at the beach, picnics in the park, outdoor BBQs, family, friends, and puffy bloated bellies. Yes. The most common thing I hear from clients in the hot humid weather is, “I feel bloated. Can you help my belly not stick out?”

Did you know that water accounts for 60% of a person’s weight? In the summer, or extreme heat conditions, our bodies adjust the amount of water we retain, i.e. we retain more water in the humidity. Ugh. Unfortunately, for many people this can mean bloated puffy stomachs, and even up to 4-5 pounds of extra bloating weight! Ah, the irony of it all, a puffy belly in the season that we most frequently show our belly.

If you are a summer belly bloat sufferer here are three fantastic foods to add to your diet to help combat that puff and help you feel trim and slim and bikini-strut worthy.

Celery – Rich in both potassium and sodium, celery contains the minerals most important for regulating fluid balance. This keeps us hydrated while it stimulates urine production, helping to rid the body of excess fluid. Chew on a few stalks of fresh celery at the first sign of intestinal madness.
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