Smart Summer Snacking

5 Jul

Smart Summer Snacking

Summer is in full swing and backyard BBQ parties are about to hit hard!

For summer snacking party prep, I spent some time in Sacramento (110 degrees F – ouch!) last week sharing some of my favorite smarter snacking tips on the Sac & Co show (full segment here).

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Now you know snacking is on the upswing – but apparently people want healthier choices. One recent survey found that 33% of respondents said they are looking for healthier snacking options.

So as you shift your summer into high gear, check out a few of my favorite summer snacks:

 

California Avocados

California Avocados Logo

We are in peak California Avocado season (June is actually California avocado month). There’s no better way to sass up your snacks than by including this nutrient dense superfruit. Avocados are nutrient dense because they contain substantial amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for relatively few calories.

My favorite avocado snack are these super easy California Avocado Cucumber Cups that I created for the California Avocado Commission.

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You slice cucumbers, hollow them out with a melon baller, mix up some avocado and use a zip top bag snipped at the corner to pipe the mixture into your cucumber cups. They’re easy, delicious and 6 cucumber cups has just 100 calories.

You can get this and other great recipes using California avocados at californiaavocado.com.

 

Tessemae’s Salad Dressing

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Snacks don’t have to be super hard. I like it to keep it simple for summer and make smaller versions of my favorite meals into mini meal snacks. And there’s no meal I love more than a big old salad; but a salad is only as good as the dressing you put on it!

That’s why I love Tessemae’s – a line of 25 organic salad dressings, marinades and condiments. They contain no added sugar, fillers or additives like you sometimes find in other commercial dressings.

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All of the Tesseemae’s products are USDA certified organic and made with real, whole food sourced ingredients. They go great on your salad, to marinade meats or veggies for grilling out, or just to dip your favorite veggie stick in for a smart snack on the go.

 

BODYARMOR

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Hydration is essential to beat the summer heat. But as an active person on the go, you don’t need the sodium and artificial ingredients you sometimes find in other sports drinks.

That’s why I love Bodyarmor – a premium sports drink with natural flavors and sweeteners. Bodyarmor also has potassium-packed electrolytes, coconut water and vitamins. It comes in 8 great tasting flavors, so there’s something for every flavor profile!

 

Heavenly Organics Chocolate Honey Patties

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Overly restrictive diets are not conducive to my summer lifestyle! I challenge you to stop taking all of the fun out of food, and instead indulge your sweet tooth a bit. My secret weapon for my sweet tooth this summer is a steady stash of Heavenly Organics Chocolate Honey Patties.

These decadent bite-size treats have a dark chocolate shell made with 100% cocoa; inside they’re filled with 100% organic raw white honey blended with other natural flavors like peanut, pomegranate and mint.

All of the Heavenly Organics Chocolate Honey Patties are made with 4 ingredients or less and they contain less than 60 calories per patty. To top it off, all of their flavors are Non-GMO project verified, plus they’re gluten, dairy and soy free so they work with all sorts of dietary patterns.

For more about my favorite summer snacking tips, check out my segment on Sac & Co.

Disclosure: I have a financial relationship with the products mentioned in this post; I was not paid to write this post but I was paid for the product mentions in the TV segment appearing in the post.

California Avocados: All Day for 7 Days

10 Jun

California Avocados: All Day for 7 Days

June is California Avocado Month!

As a nutrition spokesperson for California Avocado Commission for the past 5 years, it’s safe to say I am a pretty big avocado fan.

This is the best time of year for California Avocados, which are in season from spring through fall. California grows about 90% of the nation’s avocado crop and they do it with the help of approximately 5,000 small family farms located throughout the state.

Our avocados are top notch because the growers put so much care into how the trees are nurtured, planted and harvested. California avocados are picked at the peak of freshness, so you know you’re getting quality fruit when you see that California label!

When it comes to nutrition, avocados are one of the few things I feel comfortable labeling a superfood…because:

  • California avocados are a nutrient-dense: one-fifth of a medium avocado (1 oz) has 50 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds
  • California avocados contribute good fats to your diet – this is key since the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 focus on fats is now about what types and not how much you get

This season I created a 7-day meal plan using some of the amazing recipes from the California Avocado Commission. If you think avocados are just for guacamole, you have to check out some of these innovative meal and snack ideas.

It’s pretty safe to say you probably need more avocado in your life – and this 7 day meal plan has it all…if I do say so myself!

For more information about avocados, nutrition and the Dietary Guidelines, check out The Scoop blog post by friend and fellow dietitian Andrea available here.

To see my 7-day plant based meal plan featuring LOADS of California Avocados, see below or click here.

CAC 7 Day Meal Plan FINAL APPROVED 5-12-16

Disclaimer: I am a paid nutrition spokesperson for the California Avocado Commission; however, the views and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.

How Fiber Fared in the New Food Label

24 May

After 9 arduous years of deliberations, the FDA finally rolled out the final rule on the new food label last week.

In a nutshell, the biggest changes you will notice by 2018 are outlined in the FDA’s infographic:

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Much of the food label media attention has centered on 3 of the most obvious changes:

  1. More realistic serving sizes (so long 1/2 cup of ice cream serving…)
  2. Addition of the added sugars line (bad news for the entire “fruited yogurt” industry…), and
  3. Changes in nutrients required (adding vitamin D and potassium and deleting vitamins A and C).

Most nutrition advocates are generally pleased with the direction of the food label change. First Lady Michelle Obama summarized the changes by saying, “Very soon you will no longer need a microscope, a calculator or a degree in nutrition to figure out whether the food that you’re buying is actually good for your kids, so that’s a phenomenal achievement.”

But how did fiber fare with this food label overhaul?

There are 2 changes with regards to fiber on the new food label:

  1. The FDA defined dietary fiber for the first time saying fiber, “includes naturally occurring fibers and only fibers added to foods that show a physiological health benefit”
  2. The Daily Value (DV) for fiber will be changing from 25 grams to 28 grams per day

With regards to the definition of fiber, the FDA determined that there is adequate scientific evidence to support the notion that the following added fibers may have beneficial health effects for humans:

  • Cellulose (improves bowel function)
  • Guar gum, pectin, locust bean gum and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (lower blood total and/or LDL cholesterol values)
  • Psyllium husk (aka inulin and was added to the definition of fiber because of its role in bowel health)

This refined definition also means that all of the other functional (added or “fake”) fibers you find added to processed foods will not be able to count as dietary fiber since there is no evidence supporting their beneficial effect on health.

And what about the change in daily value from 25 to 28 grams? Well, let’s keep this in perspective: most Americans eat only 12-15 grams per day, so most of us would still benefit from eating more fiber. Whether that’s 25 or 28 grams probably doesn’t matter: we need to eat more plants and less processed foods with food labels on them.

Manufacturers will have to roll out the new food label by July 26, 2018. For companies with less than $10 million in annual food sales will be given an additional year to comply.

As renowned nutrition expert Marion Nestle so eloquently put it in her Scientific American blog post today, “But let’s keep this in perspective. Healthful diets are based on foods, not food products. We would all be healthier eating foods that do not come with Nutrition Facts panels, and saving most of those that do for once-in-a-while occasions.”

 

 

If Diets Don’t Work…What Does?

10 May

If Diets Don’t Work…What Does?

This weekend the New York Times attacked the topic of “Why You Can’t Lose Weight on a Diet”. The article, written by neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt led with, “The problem isn’t willpower. It’s neuroscience. You can’t – and shouldn’t – fight back.”

Dr. Aamodt is the author of the forthcoming book “Why Diets Make us Fat” and is herself a proponent of abandoning diets in favor of behaviors that will improve our health and extend our lives.

I had the good fortune to be featured along with with Sandra Aamodt on today’s KQED Forum radio program in San Francisco with host Michael Krasny. The purpose of the episode was to analyze research showing that diets do not result in long-term weight loss and how they might even lead to weight gain.

The precipitating publication that spawned interest in this topic was a recent article in the journal Obesity that followed “The Biggest Loser” competitors 6 years after their appearance on the show. As you can probably guess, 6 years out weight loss was not a foregone conclusion for the Biggest Losers.

Since the show’s finale, the 14 Biggest Loser participants analyzed in the study had regained 70 percent of the weight they initially lost. And perhaps even more interesting, these losers were burning approximately 500 less calories per day than other people their age and size.

The neuroscience tie-in that Sandra Aamodt is looking at questions what we know as the set point. The set point is that target weight your body is going to fight to keep you at, no matter how hard you try to get below it. And dieting that pushes your weight below your body’s set point results in you burning fewer calories and ultimately messing with your body’s metabolic rate.

One challenge lies in quantifying your “set point” or your body’s “metabolic rate”. These aren’t numbers on a scale or values in your blood that can be easily measured. Sandra and her team are instead analyzing the powerful interplay between cyclical feasting and fasting, one’s genetic makeup and ultimately their weight outcomes.

Her findings may surprise fad diet adherents: diets that require you to cut calories below your baseline needs have the opposite of their intended effect – they result in lower metabolic rates which ultimately impede weight loss and may even contribute to net weight gain.

So what’s a dieter to do? Here are a few takeaway messages from today’s show:

  • Embrace intuitive eating – learn to listen to your true hunger and satiety cues when making food choices
  • Don’t just blame your genes – genetics may play a role in obesity, but so does environment and lifestyle factors
  • Get moving – regular physical activity not only increases your energy output but it also can boost your resting metabolism, meaning you burn more calories at rest if you exercise than if you don’t
  • Learn from other losers – check out the National Weight Control Registry, a cohort of “Successful Losers” – those who have lost 30 pounds and kept it off for more than a year. See what they have in common and learn from their experiences.
  • Ditch the diets – no published data has ever found a particular diet or eating pattern to be the one that promotes sustainable weight loss; the diet industry is a $20 billion+ megalith that will do everything to convince you of the opposite!

So time to throw out your diet books and get back in tune with your body. Cutting calories too low doesn’t lead to sustainable weight loss and actually lowers your metabolic rate.

For more info on the tie in between our brain and our bodies, check out Sandra’s TEDTalk on Why Diets Don’t Work and listen to today’s Forum program from KQED here.

Lean Green Food Finds

17 Mar

Lean Green Food Finds

Disclaimer: I have a financial relationship with and was paid to represent the products in this blog post and associated TV segment.

With St. Patrick’s Day upon us, you may have Irish-inspired menu ideas on the brain. But when it comes to green food fare, your food choices can also be good for the planet. Here are my top picks for some lean, green food finds:

KIND: Simplified, Sustainable Ingredients

KIND

  • Looking to simplify your life? Why not start with your ingredient list! The shorter an ingredient list is, generally the more clean and wholesome the food will be.
  • KIND bars are packed with simple wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce – not to mention they do not contain genetically engineered ingredients.
  • KIND Nuts & Spices have 5 grams of sugar or less per bar with no artificial ingredients or sugar alcohols, so they’re a bar you can feel good about eating.
  • To learn more check out www.kindsnacks.com

Pistachios: Eating Local…and Loaded with Lutein!

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  • Pistachios are an excellent option when it comes to nutrition and health; pistachios are among the lowest fat and lowest calorie snack nut out there. They’re packed with protein and fiber which help you stay full for longer.
  • Did you know the hint of green in pistachios comes from antioxidants like lutein?
  • If you’re trying to make an environmental impact by eating locally, pistachios are a great option. Over 99% of all pistachios grown in the US are from California
  • Wonderful pistachios come in a variety of delicious flavors like salt and pepper and sweet chili and a serving size of 49 pistachios has just 160 calories (1/2 cup in shell or ¼ cup out of shell)
  • For more information check out www.getcrackin.com

good2grow: BPA-Free for Me!

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  • Good2Grow Fruit & Veggie Blends & Juicy Waters are a great way to quench your kids’ thirst without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
  • All of the good2grow products are non-GMO, the bottles are recyclable and the tops are BPA-free.
  • The good2grow character sippa-top containers are reusable, which cuts down on waste seen with other disposable water and juice bottles.
  • For more information check out www.good2grow.com

Lowering Your Food-Based Carbon Footprint

  • Climate friendly foods favor plants over animals; if all Americans eliminated just ¼ pound serving of beef per week, reduction in global warming gas emissions would be equivalent to taking 4-6 million cars off the road
  • When selecting seafood, choose locally caught, sustainably managed fish or herbivorous farmed stocks like tilapia, catfish and carp. Check out www.seafoodwatch.org for sustainable seafood selections
  • Buying organic is another great way to positively impact your environment; organic production means the food is free from pesticides, herbicides, drugs, fertilizers and genetic modification

For these and other lean, green food finds, check out my segment on San Diego Living at: http://www.cw6sandiego.com/lean-green-and-eco-eats/