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Powered by Powdered Peanut Butter

12 Apr

Powered by Powdered Peanut Butter

If you love peanut butter – its taste and texture, but not the fat and calorie profile – you must check out PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter from Bell Plantation.

Powdered peanut butter? I know, I was skeptical too. But then I saw it endorsed in CSPI’s Nutrition Action Healthletter, so I gave it a shot. And folks, rest assured: this is no astronaut food.

By pressing slow roasted peanuts – PB2 ends up with 85% less fat and calories than traditional peanut butter.  You simply mix 2 Tbsp of PB2 with 1 Tbsp of water. Stir until smooth. Voilà!

It’s PB, but without the pain in the B of those extra calories…

I bet you’re wondering: does 85% less fat and calories mean 85% less nutrition?

Quite the opposite: in a 2 Tbsp serving you get:

  • 45 calories
  • 1.5 grams of fat
  • 0 g saturated fat
  • 94 mg sodium
  • 5 g total carbohydrate
  • 2 g dietary fiber
  • 1 g sugar
  • 5 g protein

That’s the same amount of fiber you get in a 200 calorie 2 Tbsp dollop of the real thing. Not bad for something that looks, tastes and feels like real peanut butter!

So branch out of your peanut butter safety zone, and get on board with powdered peanut butter. You can purchase PB2 from Amazon or direct from the company.

 

 

The Great Potato Debate

20 Oct

The Great Potato Debate

It’s not a new question, but it’s back in the news: are potatoes less healthy than other vegetables? The devil is in the details, and in this case, the details are about preparation methods.

The USDA – the government agency that runs the National School Lunch Program – recently proposed limiting “starchy vegetables” to no more than one cup per week. The intent is to increase the variety of and exposure to other vegetables in kids’ lunch, and based on the reality that many potato products are highly processed, fried in fat or contain too much salt.

So, why all of a sudden the push to limit the potato? Not surprisingly, one USDA study found that 75% of the vegetables in kids’ school lunches are of the starchy variety. But will taking away french fries and tater tots dramatically increase broccoli and spinach intake?

One group that thinks not is the National Potato Council, whose advocacy website on this very topic, www.potatoesinschools.com points out that potatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium, and when baked, grilled or broiled, can be a very nutritious addition to a well-balanced school lunch.

It does look like potatoes have gotten a bit of a reprieve, as this week the Senate moved to block the USDA’s proposal to adopt the 1 cup starchy vegetable limit beginning in 2012. The Senate amendment seeks to prevent, “any maximum limits on the serving of vegetables in school meal programs.” The House responded and criticized the Senate’s stance.

At this point, it does appear that the jury is still out on whether potatoes will continue to pervade school lunch trays of the future…

Kids ‘n Fiber FDA Video

23 Sep

The FDA has a new video encouraging parents to help improve their kids’ fiber intake:

The FDA dietitian points out that for kids, fiber:

  • Helps their digestive system
  • Prevents against chronic disease when they’re older
  • Needs are 14-31 grams of fiber per day

Recommended sources of fiber to incorporate in a child’s diet to help meet these needs include:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grain bread, cereal, pasta

To learn more about the FDA’s nutrition education efforts for children and teens, visit the Spot the Block campaign at http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/KidsTeens/ucm115810.htm.

McDonald’s New Happy Meals – Any Healthier?

16 Sep

McDonald’s New Happy Meals – Any Healthier?

McDonald’s rolls out their new healthier Happy Meals today. The skinny-sized Happy Meals will come now standard with apple slices, a smaller french fry serving and less calories:

  • French fry serving is down to 1.1 ounces from 2.4 ounces for a total of 100 french fry calories
  • Apple dippers drop from 3.1 to 1.2 ounces and now contain no added sugars or dipping sauces
  • 20% reduction in calories per Happy Meal, equating to about 600 calories per meal

There’s no net boost in fiber in these revised meals. According to McDonald’s own nutrition information publications, even the original 3.1 ounce size of apple slices was so small it contained “0″ grams of dietary fiber! If you actually eat a whole, medium-sized apple with skin, you would get 4.4 grams of dietary fiber.

Why the push to improve processed kiddie food?

The happier Happy Meals are certainly a move in the right direction. Now let’s get to work on what the parents are ordering!

Will Ketchup Still be a Vegetable?

13 Jan

Will Ketchup Still be a Vegetable?

The USDA will announce on Thursday that for the first time in 15 years, The National School Lunch Program is going to undertake a major overhaul of its notoriously lax – and laughable – nutrition guidelines. Among the proposed changes confirmed by the USDA:

  • Only one starchy vegetable per week – limiting the “french fries are a vegetable” out
  • Ban most trans fats
  • Establish a first-ever calorie limit for school meals
  • Make all milk nonfat or 1% and all flavored milks be nonfat
  • Gradual increase of required whole grains with eventual goal of most grains being whole
  • Incorporate a grain and a protein into the school breakfast program, instead of just one or the other as it is now

If you want to get a sneak peak at how the USDA envisions their new menu will contrast to the previous guidelines in a theoretic elementary school – check out this chart: http://www.usda.gov/documents/cnr-chart.pdf

These nutrition improvement announcements come on the heels of President Obama’s December 2010 signing of the “Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act“, a child nutrition bill that increases reimbursement to participating schools for the provision of healthier foods.

So what does an “increase” mean? In this case, the bump in reimbursement to schools providing free lunches to qualifying students is exactly an extra 6 cents per meal. SIX CENTS. And for some clarity: the 2010-2011 reimbursement rate for schools providing free lunches to qualifying kids is already a measly $2.72 per meal. You try making a nutritious, fresh, appealing meal for kids with high fat, high calorie USDA commodity food and $2.72 in reimbursement!

So how much good will these proposed changes do? To put it simply: while setting lofty school lunch standards may make for good politics – six cents doesn’t realistically amount to massive change.