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All Things Avocado: Peak Season Produce

3 Jun

All Things Avocado: Peak Season Produce

California Avocado season is in full swing! California produces more than 90% of the US avocado crop, and more than half of that is grown right here in sunny San Diego.

As a nutrition spokesperson for the California Avocado Commission, I love talking about (and eating) the delicious and nutritious fruit that is the avocado.

Here’s a few of my favorite avo tips:

How to Pick the Perfect Avocado

  • The best way to tell if a California avocado is ripe and ready for immediate use is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand
  • Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm but still yield to gentle pressure
  • To expedite ripening, place the avocado in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana; the ethylene gas from the fruits speeds up the ripening process

 Avocado Nutrition Knowhow

  • Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients and act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients in foods that eaten with the fruit
  • Use the nick & peel method as the safest and most effective way to cut an avocado
  • Be sure to peel your avocado carefully as the greatest concentration of beneficial phytonutrients is found in the flesh closest to the peel

Going Beyond Guacamole

  • Avocados make a great addition to any meal or snack and you can also use avocado as a 1:1 fat replacer in baking
  • For breakfast, add avocados to egg dishes, bake into bran muffins, or power up your morning meal with a healthy dose of avocado’s good fat in your smoothie
  • Find some really unique ways to use avocados in meals, snacks, and desserts at http://www.californiaavocado.com/recipes

For more info about California Avocados, check out my segment on San Diego Living for All Things Avocado.

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The Skinny on Potato Skins

15 Jan

The Skinny on Potato Skins

Carb smart consumers know, when you’re sizing up starchy foods, “If it’s white…walk away!”

We’re talking white bread, white rice, white pasta, white crackers…and then someone inevitably asks, “But what about white potatoes?”

For this fiber fan, white potatoes are the exception to the walk away from white foods rule.

A common misconception is that most of the potato’s nutrients are found only in the skin. According to the US Potato Board,  “The majority (>50 percent) of the nutrients are found within the potato itself.”

A medium-sized potato with its skin on has about 4 grams of fiber; and half of the potato’s fiber is found in the skin. So if you ditch the flesh, you’re depriving yourself of half of your potato’s fiber goodness.

And it’s not just fiber that one finds in potatoes. That same potato has more potassium than a banana and almost half (45%) of your daily value for vitamin C.

Now granted, it’s sometimes what you put ON the potato that can set you back. The Loaded Potato Skins appetizer at TGI Fridays has 1,430 calories and a day-and-a-half worth of saturated fat. And you can bet it’s not the potato that’s the problem there!

If you want a skinny skin, try scooping some of the flesh and piling on steamed broccoli, reduced-fat shredded cheese, and some low fat sour cream for good measure.

For some great potato recipe ideas, check out the US Potato Board’s recipes at www.potatogoodness.com.

Sponsored Post Disclosure: I have previously been compensated by the US Potato Board; I was not paid for this post and the thoughts & opinions are my own.

Healthy Holiday Tips & Tricks

29 Dec

Healthy Holiday Tips & Tricks

With New Year’s upon us, the holiday entertaining season is still in full swing. And if you’re like most Americans, you can expect to gain 1-2 pounds this holiday season.

But good news: you don’t have to be just another heavy holiday statistic! If you want to Beat the Creep this year, check out these simple tips for curbing holiday weight gain:

Follow the “Rule of Ones”

  • If a holiday party buffet is about to ruin your day, follow the rule of ones: grab one appetizer, one main dish, one side, and one dessert.
  • With the rule of ones you have to make your choices matter. Start out strong by amplifying your appetizers: pump up flavor & spice, not salt and fat.
  • This holiday season I am loving the convenience of Bibigo Korean BBQ Sauces & their fully cooked Chicken & Cilantro Wontons. Pair the 2 together for a tasty, convenient appetizer packed with authentic Korean BBQ flavor that won’t break your calorie budget.

“Three Bites: Now Say Good Night”

  • Attack that holiday meal by following the three-bite rule: the first bite is the best, the last is to savor, and one in between is for good measure.
  • Be a smart stocking stuffer with savory and sweet treats in bite-size, calorie controlled portions which help you satisfy without overindulging.
  • My favorite tasty treat this holiday season is the Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond KIND bar – it’s packed with ingredients you can see and pronounce, and only has 5 grams of added sugar!

Power Up with Protein in Peanuts

  • Fiber and protein are the 2 nutrients that help keep you full – and peanuts have a great combination of both; with 7 grams of protein per serving, peanuts have more protein than any other nut.
  • Everyone leaves Santa cookies, but why not also pack him some peanuts to power his present delivering through the night?
  • For a delectable and protein packed treat, check out this great gluten free Ultra Peanut Butter Cookie recipe from the National Peanut Board

For these and other healthy holiday tips, check out my recent segment on NBC 7 San Diego.

Sponsored Post Disclosure: I was compensated for product mention in this post & TV segment – thoughts & opinions are my own.

Tricked Out Tortellini from Buitoni

6 Oct

Tricked Out Tortellini from Buitoni

Prepackaged pastas aren’t usually much to write about.

But the Whole Wheat Three Cheese Tortellini from Buitoni is a fabulous fiber find with flavor to boot.

The first ingredient – whole durum wheat – is a whole grain responsible for the 6g fiber per serving. Durum wheat is the hardest of all wheats, is high in protein, and is used to make pasta.

I found the Buitoni WW pasta product in the refrigerated aisle at Target. A 9 oz package (2 1/2 servings) runs you $3.99 and nets:

  • 300 calories
  • 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat)
  • 500 mg sodium
  • 6 g fiber
  • 16 g protein

Like all packaged foods, this tortellini is higher in sodium than a homemade whole foods version would be. However, if you’re not into making your own whole wheat pasta, then this is a pretty delicious alternative…if you can keep from eating the whole package in one sitting!

Dorm Room Diet Done Right

21 Aug

Dorm Room Diet Done Right

Colleges and universities are back in session, and that means students are busy stocking their dorm room refrigerators.

As students are gearing up for a new school year – many have questions about how to eat healthy on campus without gaining the dreaded “Freshman 15”. Here are some tips for staying lean and mean this semester:

Eat Small Frequent Meals

Going long stretches without eating is a major downfall for people trying to eat right. Small frequent meals help you stay alert, keep blood sugar levels stable, and help you avoid overeating late in the day. Choose easy-to-prepare on-the-go meals, like this new Pirate’s Booty Mac & Cheese made with organic wheat pasta, real cheese and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Find Time for Fruit

Fruit is not just a fantastic between meal snack, it’s also a great way to incorporate nutrition into your meals. Try this Cranberry Chicken Salad on Flatbread recipe as an example of a super easy way to incorporate cranberries into your back-to-school meal planning.

Cranberries not only taste great, they are also really good for you. You probably know they help prevent urinary tract infections, which is true – but all cranberry products (like cranberry juice cocktail, dried cranberries, cranberry sauce and fresh and frozen cranberries) contain flavonoids. A specific type of flavonoid that is unique to cranberries actually prevent bacteria from sticking to cell walls, which prevents UTIs.

A new study in the journal Advances in Nutrition found that the bioactive compounds in cranberries not only help reduce the incidence of certain infections and maintain a healthy urinary tract, but they also improve heart health by improving blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure and reducing inflammation.

Snack Smarter

Did you know that 91% of American snack every day? And kids in particular need snacks, as their small stomach size can’t always meet daily nutrition needs in 3 meals alone.

But what you snack on matters – and here is a smart snack for you: sprouted grains chips. Way Better Snacks’ line of chips has sprouted grains, beans, and seeds. Sprouting helps to reduce certain anti-nutrient compounds that inhibit absorption – meaning that these chips have more bioavailable nutrients, and are more easily digested than other grains.

Grab Good To-Go Options

Now you might not think of a convenience store when you picture health food, but there are some pretty good options available out there today, and in particular at 7-11. The Fresh Food line at 7-11 offers fresh salads, sandwiches, seasonal fruit and snacks that would make any dietitian proud! Look for options with whole foods, minimal processed ingredients, and those that contain protein and fiber, which help keep you full.

For more tips on how to eat right on campus, check out my segment on KUSI Ch 9 Good Morning San Diego this week.