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Stack a Smarter Sandwich

3 Nov

Stack a Smarter Sandwich

Today is National Sandwich Day; but America’s favorite handheld meal isn’t always the greatest go-to when it comes to nutrition.

According to one study, 49% of Americans age 20 and older eat a sandwich every day. And sandwiches account for roughly 1/5 of daily sodium intake.

If you stack it wrong, your next sandwich could set off a hypertensive crisis.

Here’s how to build a better sandwich working your improvements from the outside in:

 

Beware of Your Bread

The salt in cheese and processed meat is low hanging fruit in the sandwich sodium conundrum. You should actually be more afraid of your bread and the sodium that it’s sheltering.

A typical slice of bread can have 250-400 mg sodium – and that’s per piece. Considering that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend less than 2,300 mg per day, it’s not worth it to suffer so much sodium in sliced bread.

A few rules of thumb for selecting better breads:

  • Go for whole – look for the word “whole” in the first ingredient & avoid products “made with” while grains; “made with” just usually means white bread batter with a bit of whole grain thrown in at the end
  • 3 g fiber rule – a bread with whole grain in the first ingredient will usually have 3 g dietary fiber or more per slice; 3 g fiber per slice is a good bet when you’re picking your pan
  • For sodium sleuths – look for around 150 mg sodium or less per slice

Some best bets for lower sodium whole wheat breads are:

For a good read on sodium sneaking around in your breads, check out this CSPI article “Finding the Best Sliced Bread”.

 

Get Choosy with Your Cheese

Cheese and salt are synonymous. You can’t eat low salt cheese because a.) there’s no such thing and b.) it would be revolting if there were.

Instead, choose naturally lower-sodium cheese selections, such as:

  • Mozzarella
  • Cream cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Swiss
  • Monterey Jack
  • Ricotta
  • Parmesan

When it comes to lower sodium cheeses that actually taste legit, I like Alpine Lace – they cut the saturated fat and salt, without compromising taste.

 

Lower Lunch Meat Sodium at Home

One surefire way to curb the sodium in your sammies is to select meat or cheese, but not both. Luncheon meats and cheese are naturally higher sodium choices, and to be honest, you don’t need both.

But if you must maintain meat in your lunch, look for lower sodium versions of old standbys like turkey, ham and roast beef.

Another easy (and cheaper) option is to just rinse your standard lunch meat under running water. This is estimated to reduce sodium by about 30%.

When it comes to firing up the faucet, keep in mind you are also rinsing away the preservatives, so be sure to eat your rinsed lunch meat right away vs. re-storing in the refrigerator.

 

Cool it on the Condiments

If you cut the sodium in bread, meat and cheese, you’ve got the most serious salt problems out of the way. But sodium lurks in condiments too.

Keep these high sodium condiments on the minimum:

  • Ketchup (150 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Relish (160 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Barbecue sauce (175 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Steak sauce (280 mg sodium in 1 tablespoon)
  • Low fat salad dressings

If you want to slather your bread with lower sodium condiments, why not try making your own? Check out these home made lower-sodium condiment ideas from Cooking Light. They whip up in no time and taste so much like the real deal that you won’t miss the salt.

 

Sandwich Day at SUBWAY

If you want to get in on celebrating National Sandwich Day – Subway is offering a buy one, give one sandwich deal at participating SUBWAY restaurants. They’re launching this along with their “exclusive” SUB Emoji on Twitter.

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You can get in on the game by tagging your tweets with #savelunchbreak. And if you want to really soup up your SUBWAY, ask your Sandwich Artist to “run it through the garden“. Piling your SUBWAY high with all of the fresh vegetable offerings in a footlong can net you up to 4 full servings of vegetables.

Succumbing to the King Arthur Cult

16 Sep

Succumbing to the King Arthur Cult

I’m not a big baker, but when a recipe recently called for whole grain spelt flour, I wasn’t about to go searching for stale spelt product at my local healthfood store.

So I was pretty stoked when I stumbled upon the fabulous online options available from King Arthur Flour.

Now a thing or two about the King: King Arthur has been in business for 225 years, so they’ve got the flour power bit down. As of 1996 the company transferred from a family-owned operation to an employee-owned operation and they became a Certified B Corporation in 2007, meaning they are deemed ethically and environmentally fit by the nonprofit B Lab.

According to Inc. Magazine, employees at King Arthur get 40 hours per year of paid volunteer time, free professional development, reimbursement for weight management and childcare. On top of that, lower-paid workers receive a subsidy for produce from a local farm.

So what does employee relations and business development have to do with flour? A company that takes care of its employees has those employees in turn producing the highest quality products.

I scoped a few baker blogs for King Arthur praise and apparently I’m 225 years behind the curve on this one. They all rave about the fabulous flour they’re churning out in Vermont.

Although King Arthur sells every type of baking flour imaginable, its’ the Whole Grain section that really gets me going. If you need wheat berries, gluten free brown rice flour or organic pumpernickel flour delivered to your doorstep, this is the place to go!

I also found their Videos selection incredibly helpful. Did you know that you’ve been measuring your flour wrong all this time? You’ve got to fluff first!

Lastly, if you find yourself stuck in a baker’s blunder, call up the King Arthur baker’s hotline. The number is (855) 371-2253. The friendly employer owners folks there know it all.

And if you’re curious how much fiber is in the organic whole spelt flour? It’s 3 grams fiber per 100 calorie 1/3 cup serving. I learned it from the hotline!

For a whole grain kick to your next morning meal, check out this super simple Spelt Pancakes recipe from the Whole Grains Council and King Arthur’s Flour:

Simple Spelt Pancakes

Serves: 4 (16 4-inch pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (7 oz) whole spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons (7/8 oz) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (14 oz) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Combine the milk and melted butter, and the vanilla if you’re using it.
  3. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir the batter just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened: it will seem very wet, but will thicken as it sits. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes before you use it.
  4. Heat a non-stick griddle if you have one, or a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. If your surface is not non-stick, brush it lightly with vegetable oil.
  5. When the surface of your pan is hot enough that a drop of water sputters across the surface, give the pan a quick swipe with a paper towel to eliminate excess oil, and spoon the batter onto the hot surface, 1/4-cupful at a time.
  6. Let the pancakes cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cakes, about 2 to 3 minutes. You may need to adjust your heat up or down to get the pancakes to cook through without scorching the surface, or being too pale.
  7. When the cakes are just beginning to set, flip them and let them finish cooking on the second side, about 1 minute more, until they’re golden brown on both sides.

Nutrition Information (per 4 4-inch pancake serving)

  • Calories 137
  • Fat 4g
  • Carbohydrate 20g
  • Dietary Fiber 4g
  • Sugar 4g
  • Sodium 375 mg
  • Protein 5g

Cereal Fiber Beats Back Diabetes Risk

2 Jun

Cereal Fiber Beats Back Diabetes Risk

If you need yet another reason to get your fiber on – a new study shows cereal fiber can help keep diabetes at bay.

A study published last week in the journal Diabetologia showed that not only does dietary fiber help fight type 2 diabetes risk, but it also helps lower Body  Mass Index (BMI) and keeps weight down.

The study was a meta-analysis which looked at data from over 350,000 subjects from 18 countries followed for over 10 years. Results showed that participants who ate 26 grams of fiber per day were 18 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who ate 19 or less grams of fiber per day.

To put that in perspective, the typical American only eats 16 grams of fiber per day, so 26 grams is a pretty fierce fiber bump.

In this particular study, cereal fiber was shown to be particularly effective, more so than fruit or vegetable fiber.

One of the best ways to get cereal fiber is to consume whole grains.

And while you’re at it, focus on your ABC’s: amaranth, buckwheat or barley, and corn – some great whole grain options that can easily work their way into your morning meal.

For more tips on getting your whole grains, check out these recipes from the Whole Grain Council.

Grain Bashing Takes a Back Seat

20 Apr

Grain Bashing Takes a Back Seat

Carbs are destroying your brain,” crows the Grain Brain diet book.  While “Wheat is why you’re sick,” screams the Wheat Belly diet book.

Despite a recent spate of grain bashing, new research indicates that eating grains has a more positive health impact than refraining from them.

The Grain Foods Foundation (who, granted, is in the business of getting you to buy grains) partnered with nutrition consulting firm Nutrition Impact to assess grain foods consumption and health and presented their findings recently at the annual Experimental Biology conference.

The research looked at existing government data sets: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), USDA’s What We Eat in America, and the USDA food categories.

Researchers found:

  • Adults who eat yeast breads and rolls have lower total sugar intake compared to adults who eat no grains
  • Adults who eat certain grain food patterns (cereals, pasta, rice, crackers, salty snacks, pancakes, waffles, and quick breads) have lower saturated fat intake and more dietary fiber in their diets
  • Even in a 2,000 calorie diet that only has 1 serving of whole grains and 5 servings of refined grains, positive health and nutrition end points can still be realized
  • Grain foods get you bang for your buck: yielding dietary fiber, protein, folate, iron, magnesium, calcium, niacin and thiamin for relatively low cost

While grain foods may be associated with better health in this particular analysis, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Eating too many grains – regardless of where they come from – can lead to excess calorie intake and unwanted weight gain.

At the end of the day though, grains are probably not the evil food group sensational diet books make them out to be. It may, in fact, be finally time to give the grain bashing a break.

Whole Grain Intake Massacres Mortality Rates

13 Jan

Whole Grain Intake Massacres Mortality Rates

It’s time to table that Wheat Belly BS & push your Paleo proclivities aside: a new study shows that eating whole grains is linked to lower mortality.

While it has long been known that high whole grain intake cuts heart disease and diabetes risk, these new findings represent a major step forward in tying whole grain intake to lower mortality rates.

The study – published in JAMA Internal Medicine – looked at data from over 74,000 females in the Nurse’s Health Study and 43,000 males from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Participants filled out diet questionnaires every 2-4 years for a period of 25 years. Findings were adjusted for age, smoking, BMI, physical activity, and other dietary components.

The researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that whole grain intake is linked to:

  • A 9% lower overall mortality rate
  • A 15% lower cardiovascular disease related mortality rate
  • Overall mortality drop of 9% and CVD mortality cut of 15% for every serving of whole grains you add per day
  • 6% lower total mortality and 20% lower CVD related mortality when the benefits of bran foods were taken into consideration.

Self-reported dietary data is always an inherent drawback to studies of these sorts – but the large sample size and impressive length-of-follow are 2 inspiring components of this publication.

What’s the take away? You do your body a long term favor by replacing refined carbs with whole grain goodness.