Sneaky Healthy Thanksgiving Desserts

26 Nov

Sneaky Healthy Thanksgiving Desserts

Did you know that the typical Thanksgiving dinner contains more than 3,000 calories?

Since you probably want to indulge in dessert without overdoing it this year, here are some sneaky tips for satisfying your sweet tooth without breaking your calorie budget:

Swap in Sweetpotatoes

A sweetpotato (which is all 1 word!) is an entirely different vegetable than a potato, with its own set of nutrients:

  • The sweetness of sweet potatoes comes out when you bake them – consider swapping in mashed sweet potato in place of fat and sugar in your baked goods
  • 1 sweet potato contains more than 100% of your daily vitamin A needs
  • For some great dessert recipe ideas featuring sweetpotatoes, check out the California Sweetpotato recipe page at http://www.casweetpotatoes.com/recipes/ (my favorites are the Sweetpotato Oatmeal Cookies and Sweetpotato Lava Cake)

Raisin the Bar with Your Baked Goods

Another way to liven up your holiday desserts is to put a healthy spin on traditional favorites. I do this by incorporating raisins in my desserts.

Raisins are awesome to bake with, because as a dried fruit, they come by their sweetness naturally:

For more info on Sneaky Healthy Thanksgiving Desserts, check out my segment on Good Morning San Diego from earlier this week.

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Special thanks to California Sweetpotatoes and California Raisins for providing recipes and sponsoring the above segment.

Beat Diabetes…by Cooking?!

20 Nov

Beat Diabetes…by Cooking?!

It’s November – which means Thanksgiving…and National Diabetes Month.

Health statistics rarely make you take pause, but try this one on for size:

37% of the US population has diabetes or prediabetes.

Think about that: more than 1/3 of American citizens are walking around with compromised blood sugar control. While that might not sound like such a bad thing at first, down the road, diabetes becomes a nasty condition that ravages the entire body.

Uncontrolled diabetes is a leading cause of many complications, including kidney disease, blindness, amputation, neuropathy, stroke, and high blood pressure…not to mention it is #7 on the list of top 10 killers of Americans.

On top of all of that depressing news, the American Diabetes Association now estimates the cost of diagnosed diabetes to the country is $245 billion.

So what can be done to stop this trainwreck called diabetes? Well for starters, you can cook your way out of the abyss.

That’s right – cooking more of your own foods at home (as opposed to eating out or eating packaged and processed junk) can now be considered a primary diabetes prevention tool.

How does that work?

As a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, I see firsthand that diabetes prevention is all about excess weight prevention. And how can you prevent unwanted weight gain?

Cook at home more.

This year’s American Diabetes Month theme is “America Gets Cooking to Stop Diabetes” – an approach that acknowledges the power of at home food preparation and “empowers all Americans to cook nutritious and delicious food, and be more active”.

Cooking food more often at home is a great way to control calories, increase fiber, and include more fruits and vegetables in your meals. You are never going to add as much butter to your meals as that restaurant chef will!

As we head into the holidays, this year do your part to reduce diabetes risk by making restaurant trips more of a “sometimes” thing and home-cooked meals your go-to game.

Produce Wash: What’s the Point?

17 Nov

Produce Wash: What’s the Point?

You know you’re supposed to eat your fruits and vegetables – but do you need a special produce wash to clean them too?

Produce washes – which bill themselves as boosting safety – are pretty much hogwash.

Turns out, when it comes to cleaning your produce, running water and friction will cut it.

A number of food safety authorities say don’t waste your time with produce washes:

  • Foodsafety.gov says, “Soap or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended”
  • The FDA does not recommend the use of soap, detergent, or produce washes
  • USDA recommends washing your produce under cold running tap water to remove any lingering dirt

So just how long should you wash your fruit and veg for? Food microbiologist Dr. Michael Doyle from the University of Georgia and its Director of its Center for Food Safety says that 20 seconds is sufficient, stating, “Any longer won’t make much of a difference.”

And what about bagged salads? These products say they’re double or triple washed – and turns out, they probably are. FoodSafety.gov says, “If the package indicates that the contents have been pre-washed or are ready to eat, you can use the product without further washing.”

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying a good old-fashioned head of lettuce and washing it thoroughly too!

PMA 2014: Fresh Summit Recap

7 Nov

PMA 2014: Fresh Summit Recap

As a guest and exhibitor with the California Avocado Commission, I recently had the opportunity to attend the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2014 tradeshow in Anaheim, CA.

With over 20,000 attendees and 900 exhibitors from 60+ countries, this was the place to BE if you love produce!

I was fortunate enough to spend my time in the CAC booth hosting Supermarket Registered Dietitians and educating them on the benefits of premium California avocados. I had an opportunity to demo one of the recipes I created for California Avocados this year – my 100-Calorie California Avocado Cucumber Cups – to the retail RDs and highlight the nutritional benefits of this versatile fruit.