Diet and Nutrition

5 Questions to Ask at Your Farmers Market

farmers market carrots

I love starting my weekend with a trip to the farmers market. I may start the day overwhelmed by my to-do list, but everything slows down as I start to walk past the tables of vibrant produce, local honey, and artisanal breads and cheeses. Connecting with your food and those who produce it makes you pause, breathe, and appreciate the great gift of real food. You know you’re doing something better for your body and planet by going fresh and local.

However, you can’t take for granted that everything at your local farmers market is good for you and the planet. Supporting your local farmers market can provide  better quality produce and be beneficial to the environment and local economy. However, it is not a guaranty that the produce is free of pesticides, meets safety standards, or that the product is actually from a local source. If you’re not taking the opportunity to get to know your farmer you may not be getting what you bargained for. Here are some questions to ask at your next (or first) farmers market visit.

Farmers Markets in all 50 States Accept Food Stamps and EBT

DO YOU USE PESTICIDES?

Not every local farmer grows organically. Those who do so often proudly display their USDA organic label. If you don’t see the organic label, you need to ask how they spray and fertilize their crops. Some farmers use all organic methods but simply do not have the resources to obtain the organic certification. Others may use conventional methods of pest control and fertilization. If it is a fruit or vegetable on the Dirty Dozen list, make sure to choose organically grown produce.

WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR LIVESTOCK?

Local and grass fed seem to go hand-in-hand but you can’t assume that is the case. Cows and chickens may still be eating grain due to cost and land availability (or even junk food!). They may also still be getting things you don’t want in your food, like antibiotics. Organic eggs may be the best protein choice at the farmers market. They can be used in a variety of ways and can be less expensive per serving than organic beef. (more…)

Garlicky Mushroom Cavatappi Pasta Recipe: A Love Story

mushroom cavatappi pasta recipe

Do you remember the Book-It program? It’s Pizza Hut‘s program for rewarding kids for reading. I crushed Book-It. I mean, in first grade, I had piles of those free Personal Pan pizza coupons stacked up at home. About once a month, mom would take me to the neighborhood Pizza Hut to collect my prize. You were only allowed one topping. One.

Here kids, here’s a whole bag of Skittles, now let’s just eat one. Say what?

baby-bella-mushroom

Early on I narrowed in on my choice and never once deviated. At age six — through elementary school — it was a plain mushroom pizza for me. I love those little squishy, cheesy bites of fungi! Three nights ago I ordered pizza for dinner — mushrooms only. It’s really the best option. Even my homemade pizzas are piled high with thick slices of mushrooms, and the salami, bell peppers, and basil are just there for decoration.

This, however, is not about pizza. It is a lot about how I’ve found one more place to enjoy three of my favorite things — mushrooms, cheese, carbs. Pile ’em up, baby! (more…)

Drunk Munchies are Real! 3 Ways to Combat the Morning After Bloat

drunk munchies

You’re trying to lose weight, but you still deserve a social life, so you start your night out with a plan — because fail to plan, plan to fail, right? You’ll have a low calorie cocktail or two, you’ll drink lots of water in between, and you’ll steer clear of those the appetizers you know your friends will order.

But before you know it, you’re having a great time and that plan goes right out the window. While your night is amazing, the next morning: not so much. You wake up feeling bloated, sick and remorseful. What the heck happened?

Drunk munchies are real. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people eat more calories and make unhealthier food decisions on days that they drink. Read: fried, greasy foods consumed well after dinner time.

It makes sense because, as we all know, alcohol lowers your inhibitions. We’ve all woken up thinking, “why did I do/say/eat/text that?”. It’s because alcohol causes us to focus on immediate gratification (yummy, fatty food) rather than long term goals (yummy, flat tummy). (more…)

Do Fasted Workouts Work? What Skipping Breakfast Means for Your Fitness

superfood supplement powder

You may or may not have heard of fasted workouts, or probably more likely, fasted cardio. Fasted workouts are just that: workouts that are done in the morning on an empty stomach.

The idea is, if you get your sweat on before you break the overnight fast with breakfast (yes, indeed, that’s where the name comes from) your body will go immediately to burning its fat stores instead of wasting time burning through the calories you ate for breakfast.

It sounds good in theory, but doesn’t this go against everything we know about the “most important meal of the day”?

Let us first look at how breakfast affects your morning workouts in general:

FOOD IS YOUR BODY’S FUEL.

Your body uses the food you eat to power it to do the things you love, and all nutrients in your food are used for different purposes. This food, however, must be digested and broken down for those nutrients to do their jobs, which can take hours. Leaving time for this can be nearly impossible if you prefer to workout first thing in the morning, but it’s always been encouraged to consume at least a little something, preferably quick burning carbohydrates which break down quickly for fast energy. (more…)

Penn Jillette’s 105-Pound Weight Loss is No Illusion

penn-weight-loss

Everyone everywhere has started to notice that magician Penn Jillette is seemingly a very slender man all of the sudden. We will avoid making the same “he didn’t use magic!” joke that everyone else has referenced, but we will say that he looks incredible.

According to various sources, Jillette has lost somewhere around 105 pounds–an incredible amount of weight. Jillette told People Magazine that he was on six different pills a day to help with his high blood pressure. When doctors told him he could cut some of his medication out of his life by losing weight, Jillette took it to heart. The controversial comic-magician lost the weight by introducing a very low-calorie diet into his life. By consuming about 1,000 calories a day, Jillette lost 105 pounds in three or four months. (more…)

Dietetics Association Shames Their Own Members Over Deal with Kraft Singles

kraft-cheese-eat-right-label

This year’s National Nutrition Month, held every March, has been a disaster for registered dietitians. I speak for myself as one of the rank and file when I say our professional association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, threw us under the bus. Again.

The fiasco started on March 12th when The New York Times ran an article titled, A Cheese ‘Product’ Gains Kids’ Nutrition Seal. It described how the Academy gave Kraft permission to add our ‘Kids Eat Right’ logo to Kraft Singles, those individually wrapped slices of pasteurized prepared cheese product. ‘Kids Eat Right’ is a nutrition education program run by the Academy’s foundation. Kraft Singles is the first product to carry the logo, in the form of a seal. It looks like a product endorsement, but the Academy maintains it’s not. Unfortunately for them, it quacks like a duck.

Due to the absurdity of an organization of nutrition professionals promoting Kraft Singles, major news outlets, including ABC News, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, US News and others, picked up the story. They called into question the credentials of registered dietitians. It was guilt by association for us. But none was worse than Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, who quipped while pointing to a package of Kraft Singles, “the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is an academy in the same way this is cheese.” Oh, the shame! (more…)

How to Make Your Own Perfectly Roasted Chickpeas with Help from 2Armadillos Crispy Chickpeas

2-armadillos-chickpeas

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a staple Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African cuisine, making them second only to the soybean as the most widely eaten bean in the world. The primary ingredient in hummus, chickpeas are a great source of lean protein and filling fiber: a one cup serving of chickpeas contains 268 calories, 12.5 grams of dietary fiber, 14.5 grams of protein, and 4.2 grams of fat.

Mild in flavor, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like a chickpea, unless it’s the mushy texture that turns them off. When roasted, however, they can offer a healthy, low-carb crunch to your favorite meals. If you’ve ever tried to roast them on your own, you are probably painfully that without the right recipe you’ll end up with scorched, bitter bits with a mushy center.

2Armadillos Crispy Chickpeas makes hand-roasted chickpeas that crunch like pretzels and taste like chips. They use nothing artificial, no preservatives, no junk and they offer a variety of delicious flavors like Tomato Basil, Spicy Cayenne, and Cinnamon Toast. Passionate about their chickpeas, 2Armadillos’ relationship manager Candice Cook shared with us her expert secrets to make your own delicious roasted chickpeas at home, plus tons of flavor combinations and unique uses you’ve probably never thought of. (more…)

The Bug Banquet: Serving Sustainability in a Cricket Pesto Flatbread

eat-crickets

“You’re invited to the Bug Banquet,” the email read. Ewwww! Must I go? I am psychologically averse to insects, but as a good sport, I’ll try.

The Bug Banquet is a culinary exploration of entomophagy, the practice of eating insects. It was created as an “experience” to help guests enjoy insects as food. Founders Chloé Bulpin, a senior at at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and Alex Gandarillas and Matt Kominsky, two Johnson & Wales University culinary students, believe in the power of visual imagery to educate.

The intriguing menu was served cocktail style and the presentation was gorgeous.

  • Pesto Flatbread: cricket pesto, mozzarella and artichokes
  • Tempura Skewers: crickets, silkworms and scallions with a spicy sriracha sauce
  • Watermelon and Waterbugs: compressed watermelon, apple and waterbug
  • Spicy Silkworm: Korean-style marinated silkworms with hummus and roasted cauliflower
  • Dark Chocolate-Coated Crickets
  • Sundae Shooters: waterbug ice cream, caramel, and banana
  • Several different cookies and tarts made with cricket flour

How did the creations taste? The comment most often overheard was, “I would never have known.” Ground crickets in pesto tasted “like escargot.” Waterbugs had a “floral extract that is not off-putting.” Roasted crickets tasted “like roasted fava beans with a crunchy outside and a mushy middle.” Dark Chocolate-Coated Crickets were “reminiscent of a Ferrero Rocher candy.” (more…)

7 Healthier Spring Weight Loss Methods That Work

spring-weight-loss

We are well into the swing of 2015. How’s it going so far? Do make resolutions and then walk away? Or do you check-in with yourself? Spring break is the perfect time to reassess your progress to goal and what you can adjust to help keep you on track and see that resolution through to the end.

If you’ve tried something that didn’t work for you, maybe consider switching gears a bit. Or if you’re using spring as the impetus for making healthy changes, then you’ll need a place to start.

Here are new players on the weight loss scene — big program changes to age-old standards a few exciting new faces that deserve your attention!

The Atkins 40

Atkins revealed a new diet plan at the start of the year, a fresh take on their famous low- or no-carb way of life. The Atkins 40 is a new, revised program that focuses on sustainability and results. People are encouraged to eat from all of the major food groups, starting at 40 net grams of carbs instead of the previous 20. The program is best designed for people who have less than 40 pounds to lose.

What You Can When You Can

The #WYCWYC meme has taken the social web by storm, and this incredibly refreshing theory will be available in a book in just a few weeks. Written by Roni Noone and Carla Birnberg, the What You Can When You Can philosophy focuses on living in the moment — something that will likely appeal to everyone. The book will be released at the end of April, thanks to a hashtag that has already gone viral. If a healthy lifestyle on your own terms appeals to you, without any pressure or guilt, then it’s time to see what you can do… when you can! (more…)

Roasted Kielbasa and Potato Casserole: An Easy Meat and Potatoes Dinner You Can Feel Good About

potatoes-and-kielbasa

I very much grew up in a meat and potatoes household. Our dinner menus were as predictable as the negotiating was to get out of doing dishes. Every night there was a meat entree — ground beef made into burgers, meatloaf, sloppy joes — with some form of potato — be it baked, mashed, or frozen fries. A side of canned green beans or corn would round out our plates. And for dessert we never received more than two small sandwich cookies.

This is my comfort food. This is what I fall back to when I’m homesick, too exhausted to think through a meal plan, or just want to keep things really simple.

So many of my recipes are fresh takes on old favorites, and that’s exactly what I’m serving up here. There’s nothing new with this recipe, it’s been served out of casserole dishes for decades. What is new is the realization that you can make it a little more wholesome, but just as savory, familiar, and comforting. (more…)