Monday, April 6, 2009

Going Greek (Yogurt)

We all know that yogurt is good for us. Low fat yogurt provides a good source of dairy and calcium, helping to make our bones stronger. Yogurt is also packed with beneficial bacterial cultures that help support digestion and our immune system. But do you ever get bored of your watery, runny American-style yogurt? Have you been looking for a thicker more indulgent alternative that will still keep you healthy? Look no further…Greek yogurt is here to stay! Greek yogurt is a better alternative to the stuff we’re used to eating. Just make sure to opt for the low-fat or non-fat varieties of the yogurt.

Why is Greek Yogurt So Good?

  1. Texture - Greek yogurt has a smooth, rich and thick consistency that tastes too good to be true! Part of what makes Greek yogurt different than regular yogurt is that it is strained to remove the whey, giving it a dense texture

  2. Versatility - Greek yogurt can be used for both savory and sweet dishes. Due to its thick texture and rich taste, many people use it as a substitute for milk, sour cream and even crème fraiche when cooking or baking.

  3. More Protein - With more protein than the average American yogurt, Greek yogurt is a protein powerhouse. Since it is strained, the protein content is concentrated, providing an average of 20g per cup as opposed to 13g per cup for the American style.

  4. Easier to Digest - Greek yogurt contains less carbs than regular yogurt and therefore less lactose, the sugar in dairy products that can sometimes upset people’s stomachs.

  5. Fullness Factor - Greek yogurt is dense and so high in protein that it keeps you feeling full and satisfied

Heather's Favorites

  • Favorite Yogurt Brand: Fage 0 or 2% Yogurt
  • Favorite things to Add to it: 1-2 tbsp of Knorr Soup Mix (or salsa if you’re salt-sensitive)
  • Favorite Time of the Day to Use It: 4pm snack with sliced cucumber and peppers

Stephanie's Favorites

  • Favorite Yogurt Brand: Oikos Organic Greek 0% Yogurt
  • Favorite things to Add to it: Crushed garlic, onions and chopped cucumber (to make tzaziki)
  • Favorite Time to Use It: At dinner on top of poached salmon or chicken kebabs

Dara's Favorites

  • Favorite Yogurt Brand: Chobani ‘Fruit on the Bottom’ Blueberry Greek 0% Yogurt
  • Favorite things to Add to it: ½ cup of KashiGoLean Cereal, cinnamon and 1 tsp of ground flax
  • Favorite Time to Use It: Breakfast (a healthier version of a yogurt parfait)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spice It Up With Cinnamon

Myth or Fact? Cinnamon Has Health Benefits

FACT. Cinnamon is a unique and flavorful seasoning, exotic to the taste buds. But besides being a perfect enhancer to some great dishes, cinnamon is also good for you! Cinnamon has lots of healthy attributes besides being able to give your palate something to smile about.

One of the first human studies on cinnamon was published in 2003 in a medical journal called Diabetes Care. Sixty people with type 2 diabetes took 1,3, or 6 grams of cinnamon in pill form daily, an amount roughly equivalent to ¼ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. After 40 days, all 3 amounts of cinnamon reduced fasting blood sugars and the bad ‘LDL’ cholesterol.

Besides reducing blood sugar and lowering bad cholesterol, many studies have revealed other potential health benefits of cinnamon:

  1. Cinnamon acts as a natural preservative for food
  2. Is a good source of manganese, iron and calcium
  3. May aid in treating some bacterial infections
  4. May help reduce inflammation

Cinnamon often gets a bad rap… because cinnamon buns, cinnamon toast or pumpkin pie are the foods that may come to mind. But cinnamon can be included in our daily diet in a much more healthy way. The best part of cinnamon is that it’s easy to add to foods you already eat. All you need is a ½ teaspoon a day.

Try these tricks to get some more spice in your life:

  1. Add some cinnamon to hot oatmeal or cold fiber cereal
  2. Mix some into 1 tbsp of peanut butter and spread onto celery sticks
  3. Stir some into plain yogurt
  4. Sprinkle some over baked sweet potatoes or carrots
  5. Add some to a store-bought rub to go on grilled chicken
Sprinkle some straight into your coffee, skim latte or skim cappuccino

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Are frozen fruits and vegetables less healthy than fresh fruits and vegetables?

I am happy to report that this is a Myth. Common sense might lead us to believe that fresh fruits and vegetables would be far more nutritious than their frozen counterparts. Although this is generally accepted, did you know that fresh produce is picked, boxed, often transported over long distances and then left to sit on store shelves for up to several weeks? The time lapse between picking fresh produce and purchasing them at a store can often cause them to lose some of their nutritional value as they are exposed to light and air. Both taste and texture may also be diminished.

Before getting to the freezer, frozen fruits and vegetables are first picked, they are quickly blanched (cooked for a short time in boiling water or steamed) and immediately frozen and packaged, generally when nutrient levels are at their highest. So frozen fruits and vegetables are processed at their peak, in terms of freshness, and nutrition. This means that the vitamins and nutrients are preserved until the next time the package is opened.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the International Food Information Council (IFIC) both report that nutrients in produce are generally NOT lost during freezing (and canning) and they provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as fresh. Another bonus of going frozen is that it’s often less expensive than their fresh counterparts. Though fresh fruits and veggies may be more visually appealing and taste better, they don’t last as long in your fridge and may not be the most nutritious.

At the end of the day, any fruits and vegetables are better than none at all. Just remember:
  • Buy fresh produce in season and buy local when possible
  • Buy non-seasonal produce frozen (if possible)
  • Even using canned fruits and veggies without added salt or sugar is also a good choice
Here are some great ways to include fruits and veggies into your daily routine:

Buy a variety of fruits and vegetables (choose a wide range of colors!) in the fresh and frozen form
  • Keep a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter and in the office
  • Have some cut-up vegetables in the refrigerator at all times for easy snacking
  • Add fresh or frozen fruit to your breakfast meal in cereal, oatmeal or yogurt
  • Choose fruit for dessert (frozen grapes anyone?!)
  • Add a mix of frozen vegetables when you prepare soups, sauces and casseroles

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Possible Connection Between High Frustose Corn Syrup and Mercury

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has already been deemed a possible suspect in the obesity epidemic. Now, two studies published last month report that mercury has been found in many tested samples of commercial HFCS and in brand name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second-highest labeled ingredient.

HFCS has replaced sugar as a sweetener in many common food items like BBQ sauce, jam, cereals, yogurt, ketchup, and other condiments. Many popular sodas also contain HFCS. HFCS has been widely used because it extends the shelf life of processed foods and has replaced table sugar because it is cheaper.

Given that mercury is toxic at all levels and the fact that so many of the products we consume contain HFCS, I have included a few commonly consumed culprits and their HFCS-free alternatives below:

Contains HFCS
Weight Watchers 100% whole wheat bread Ezekiel 4:9
Yoplait Fage
Kellog's Corn Flakes Barbara's puffins
Nutrition Bars
Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars Lara or Cliff Nectar bars


Annie's Natural Organic Ketchup
Salad Dressing
Wishbone Salad Spritzer Classic Caesar Most Newman's Own
Wheat Thins FiberRich
Campbells tomato soup Amy's light in Sodium
Quaker Oatmeal to Go McCann's Irish Oatmeal

Although this is an interesting study, there still needs to be more research conducted to truly understand its health consequences. Truth is, HFCS, like other sugars, when consumed in excess have many negative health consequences. Just like other forms of sugar/sweeteners, it provides no nutrients. If you are concerned about the amount of HFCS in your diet: Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins and limit your intake of junk food!:

SOURCE: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, news release, Jan. 26, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Peanut Butter Outbreak

Myth or Fact? All peanut butter products are contaminated by Salmonella

MYTH. If the recent Salmonella scare has made you think twice about eating anything containing peanuts, you're not alone. Over 500 Americans have been affected in over 43 states by various peanut butter and peanut paste-containing products (including 9 deaths). Officials have isolated the source of the outbreak to contaminated peanut butter and peanut paste produced by The Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) at its Blakely, Georgia processing plant. PCA’s products are used in hundreds of different food items including cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and ice cream.

As unfortunate as this situation is, not all peanut products are affected. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “major national brands of jarred peanut butter found in grocery stores are not affected by the PCA recall” and the makers of my favorite peanut butter product, Justin’s 100 Calorie Nut Butter Pack (available at Whole Foods) claim that their products are still safe to eat as well.

For information about the Salmonella outbreak, including a searchable list of products recalled by the FDA, visit

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How Our Food Choices Impact The Environment

Myth or Fact? Weight gain leads to global warming?

FACT! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average weight of Americans increased by 10 pounds during the 1990’s. This increase in weight required airlines to consume an additional 350 million gallons of jet fuel in 2000 leading to the release of 3.8 million more tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. So what can you do about this? Either start holding your breath, stop flying, or better yet considering shedding those extra pounds.

Here are some easy (food-related) ways that we can all support the environment:

  • Support local farmers by buying whole, locally produced foods such as fruits and vegetables to avoid the extra energy costs associated with the production and transportation of processed foods.

  • Buy organic dairy products to ensure that you are not promoting the use of growth hormones or antibiotics in cows.

  • Choose certified organic meats to avoid contributing to the widespread use of antibiotics.

  • Eat species of fish that aren’t overfished and are also lowest in mercury and other toxins (avoid Chilean sea bass, Atlantic cod, King crab, Grouper, Sea scallops, Albacore, blue fin, big eye, yellow fin tuna). Go to: for the complete guide.

  • Instead of bottled water, buy a reusable water container that is BPA-free certified. Also use a water filter at home and at work.

  • Use sustainable, reusable storage containers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recipe: Easy Super Bowl Veggie Dip

  • Knorr® Vegetable recipe mix
  • 2 containers (160z) of Greek 0 or 2% yogurt

Combine both ingredients in a medium bowl. A great treat to dip your favorite veggies in.