Tag: nutritionist

Food Allergy vs. Intolerance: Do you Know the Difference?

It seems like everyone has a food sensitivity these days. However, there is an increase in individuals who are self-diagnosing their food allergies and intolerances, or even worse, using a food sensitivity as an excuse to restrict important foods from their diet.

Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under 18. However, an expert-led survey found that almost 50 million people THINK they have one. This number was after the survey’s strict criteria for labeling a food allergy as well as its exclusion of food intolerance symptoms from the study.

In order to determine whether someone truly has an issue with food it is important to first understand the distinction between a food sensitivity/intolerance and an allergy.
  • A food sensitivity (or intolerance) = a symptomatic response to a food that is usually caused by a digestive issue, such as not producing enough of a certain enzyme to properly break down a food. This can lead to symptoms such as: bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or gas, but is NOT an immune response. (i.e IBS or lactose intolerance)
  • A food allergy = an adverse immune response to a dietary protein within a food. Basically, the body thinks it is being harmed from the particular food and causes a range of symptoms from mild (rash or itch) to more severe, life-threatening reactions such as difficulty breathing/anaphylaxis. (i.e Celiac Disease or nut allergy)
The major difference is that with a food sensitivity/intolerance you may be able to eat small amounts of the problematic food without trouble or mild symptoms, whereas with a food allergy you may be at a risk of a life-threatening reaction.
If you suspect you have a problem with a particular food(s), it is best to see an allergist or gastroenterologist. Never self-diagnose or remove key foods from the diet without consulting a Registered Dietitian first.

Are you a Cereal Pro?

Cereal still remains one of the most popular breakfast (or snack) options across all age groups. In fact it is estimated that 50% of Americans eat cereal for breakfast daily.

After milk and carbonated beverages, breakfast cereal is the third most popular item sold in grocery stores. With hundreds of options to choose from, it can sometimes be overwhelming to select the right variety for your health goals.

Here are some helpful pointers to assist you the next time you hit the cereal aisle:
  1. Read the food label! The food label provides you with all the pertinent nutrient and ingredient information needed to determine whether a product is in fact healthy.
  2. Choose whole grain options. To know if a product is made with whole grains check the package for a) the words “100% whole grain” or b) the ingredient list to see if the first one listed is: whole wheat flour, stone wheat, durum wheat, or wheat flour. If you see “enriched white flour” the product is a refined (less healthy) grain.
  3. Go for the fiber. Select a cereal that provides 3 grams or more of fiber per serving.
  4. Be careful of the sugar. The cereal industry in the U.S. uses over 882 million pounds of sugar per year in its production! Aside from weight gain, added sugar contributes to many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. To check for grams of added sugar, look under “total sugar” on the food label. For example, the label will read 30 grams of total sugar, 20 grams of added sugar. That means 20/30 grams of sugar were added by the food company. Don’t be fooled by the bright packaging or your favorite cereal mascots. The sugar is everywhere!
Healthier cereal options provide important key nutrients such as fiber and B vitamins. However, like any food, it is very important to watch portion sizes. Typically, 1 serving of dry cereal = 1 cup.
Now you are ready to take on the cereal aisle like a pro! Which cereal do you like to eat?

Food Spotlight: Artichokes

Not only do artichokes make such beautiful centerpieces with their unique texture and flower-shape, but they also provide several health benefits.

History: Artichokes are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world. They originate from the Mediterranean and Northern African regions and have been harvested since the 5th century BC. It takes 6 months for the buds to be ready to eat, however they can be harvested as many as 30 times a season, with their peak season being in both the Spring and Fall.

Nutrition Profile: Artichokes are high in fiber and are loaded with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, and magnesium. In fact, a medium artichoke contains almost 7 grams of fiber, which is a whopping 23-28% of the reference daily intake (RDI). They are one of the richest sources of antioxidants, which is particularly important with both corona virus and flu season upon us. Additionally, artichokes have been shown to: reduce both unhealthy (LDL) and total cholesterol, increase good (HDL) cholesterol, lower blood pressure for those with pre-existing elevated levels, and improve digestive issues such as bloating flatulence, and constipation.

How to Eat: Artichokes can be eaten both warm or cold. The heart, which is fully edible, is a culinary delicacy and is known for its smooth and nutlike flavor. The smaller heads, or buds, are usually the most tender and are typically served as a warm vegetable with a sauce or as a cold salad or appetizer. They can be steamed whole, cooked in a microwave, baked, roasted, grilled, or sautéed.

Additional Tips: Artichokes are typically served with butter, cream, or mayo-based sauces. Because these options are high in saturated fat, be mindful of portion sizes. For healthier options, prepare a sauce with: nonfat, plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt or tahini with lemon, garlic, and salt.

Try 1 New Recipe Each Week

Since Covid 19 hit, almost everyone I have spoken to both personally and professionally have all told me the same thing, “I am cooking more than I ever have!”

With both limited restaurant options available as well as at-home working and schooling, we have been able to connect more with our kitchens than we previously had time or resources for. While I am so happy to see so many people put their chef hats on and learn new skills, the Catch 22 is that many of us are getting cooking burn-out.

One way to combat the cooking exhaustion is to make it a goal to find and try 1 new recipe a week. Thankfully, we have countless options available at our fingertips. These include: internet sites, Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube. Not to mention, all of the paperback cookbooks and books that are available online.

By far, my favorite website for finding new recipes is: Epicurious. This website allows you to build recipes around a single ingredient, which is perfect for those who are wanting to try a new food but have no clue where to begin. You can filter by type of cuisine, dietary considerations, and type of cooking method. I also like the recipe comparison feature and the recipe rating system.

Another one of my favorites is Yummly. Some of the features require you to pay, however there are plenty of free recipes to choose from. The recipes are easy to read and follow and you can actually purchase all of the ingredients for a particular recipe directly from the website via Walmart, Ralph’s/Kroger, and Instacart. That to me is the coolest part!

America’s Test Kitchen is another great resource as are the Cooking Light and Eating Well websites. With the last two options be careful to review the recipe entirely as I have caught some that are listed as “Healthy” but were in fact not.

Whichever resource you choose, adding variety to your recipe library will help you “spice” things up (pun intended) in the kitchen and beat the cooking boredom.
Comment below with some other cookbooks, sites, or apps that you use to find new recipes.

Food Spotlight: Pears

With over 10 varieties to choose from in the U.S. and 3,000 varieties worldwide, pears are a perfect seasonal fruit for this time of year. Their crisp, soft texture and sweet taste make them versatile in many dishes.

History: The common pear is probably of European origin and has been cultivated since ancient times. The pear was introduced into the New World by Europeans as soon as the colonies were established.

Nutrition Profile: Pears are roughly 100 calories each and provide fiber, Vitamins C, K, potassium, copper and tons of antioxidants. One medium-sized pear provides 22% of your daily fiber needs. Pears contain a soluble fiber called pectin, which is a prebiotic that nourishes gut bacteria and improves gut health. Because they have a high water content, they also help keep stools soft while flush toxins from the digestive system. Pears, particularly the skin, contain a variety of polyphenols, which help fight against oxidative or cellular stress inside the body. Vitamins C, K, copper, and copper help reduce inflammation and protect against certain diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure, assists with muscle contraction, and promotes kidney function.

Additional Tips: Since several health benefits are found in the skin, so be sure to include the skin in your eating and preparation methods.

Healthy Recipe Ideas: They can be eaten on their own, cut up onto a salad, made into a sauce, jam, or spread, baked into a dessert, mixed in with alcoholic drinks, topped onto a crostini, or roasted with vegetables. Popular cooking methods include roasting and poaching. They pair well with chicken, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, cheeses like Gouda and brie, and ingredients like lemon and chocolate.

Healthy Cranberry Sauce

Traditional cranberry sauce recipes typically call for 1 cup of sugar per 12 oz of cranberries. That means the bigger the batch = the more the sugar. We all know what happens when we choose foods or dishes that have too much sugar.⁣

This cranberry sauce recipe cuts down significantly on the sugar while providing key antioxidants your body needs.⁣ It only has 82 calories per 1/4 cup serving, is fast and easy to prepare, and takes advantage of all the wonderful fall spices that we love.⁣

Prep Time: 2 min⁣
Cook Time: 8 min⁣
Total Time: 10 min⁣
Yields: 2 cups⁣
Ingredients:⁣
1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries⁣
½ cup honey or maple syrup (use maple syrup if you are vegan)⁣
½ cup water⁣
Zest of 1 medium orange (about 1 teaspoon)⁣
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon⁣
¼ teaspoon ground cloves⁣
¼ teaspoon ground allspice⁣
Optional add-in: ¼ cup fresh 100% orange juice⁣

Instructions:⁣
1. Rinse the cranberries well and drain any excess water. Discard any squishy ones.⁣
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, honey (or maple syrup), and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened, about 5-10 minutes.⁣
3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the orange zest, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Taste and, if the mixture is too tart (keeping⁣
in mind that cranberry sauce should be a bit tart), add orange juice and/or or little more honey (or maple syrup).⁣
4. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. It will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 2 weeks.⁣

Leave a comment below if you can’t wait to try this!⁣