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Are You Eating Right To Support Breast Health?

Every October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and more and more research indicates a link between diet and cancer. Your genetics are bathing in your environment, including the food you choose to eat. Choose well. 
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Deal with Food Cravings. A 4 Step Process.

What can you do about unwanted food cravings? I'm often asked this question by clients, and this four-step approach is one of the most simple, but powerful strategies to prevent yourself from overeating.

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10 "Healthy" Foods Hiding Sugar

It’s nearly impossible not to have a love-hate relationship with sugar. From freshly baked birthday cakes to our favorite Thanksgiving pies, sugar occupies a delectable place in our diets.

But while it tastes oh-so-scrumptious, sugar comes with drawbacks. It can cause a number of emotional health problems, such as depression and anxiety, and is addictive.

The tricky part is, sugar sneaks into our diets in unexpected ways and under different names — such as molasses and corn syrup. But to maintain optimal health, it seems best to stick to a low-sugar diet.

We’ve listed 10 so-called healthy foods that aren’t as nutritious as they seem on the surface:

1. Almond Milk

Dairy-free might be in vogue, but that doesn’t mean alternatives are always healthier. Many boxed brands of almond milk contain around 7 grams of sugar. Luckily, many big labels have “unsweetened” options - or make it yourself (it's easy)!

2. Whole Wheat Bread

Many people probably think of whole wheat as the healthier alternative to white bread. But it still contains added sugar. Some brands labeled “100 percent whole wheat” list sugar, raisin juice concentrate, and molasses among their ingredients.

Sprouted bread is a healthier option, as it is less likely to contain additives and is easier to digest. And when in doubt, read the ingredients.

3. Salad Dressing

Even tangy salad dressings are typically made with hidden sugars. Instead of buying packaged dressing, try mixing olive oil and lemon to add zest to your salad. Or play around in the kitchen and concoct your own recipes.

4. Some Dried Fruits

Fruits are naturally sweet on their own, but many companies add sugar and oil to dried versions, even in the bulk section of the grocery store. It’s always best to opt for low-glycemic fresh fruit, which has less sugar and will also help hydrate you.

If you just can’t live without that handful of raisins, be sure to check the ingredients.

5. Protein Powders & Bars

Fitness fanatics know protein is necessary for maintaining muscle and energy. But while protein powders and bars are easy ways to amp up your amino acid intake, many contain added sugars to improve their flavor.

Opt for an unsweetened protein powder, or try making your own wholesome protein bar.

6. Peanut Butter

Many companies add sweet substances to their peanut butter to improve the taste. Even some “natural” peanut butters list sugar in the ingredients.

Seek spreads that are made only from peanuts and salt and therefore contain only 1 or 2 grams of naturally occurring sugar. When it comes to nut butters, always check the label.

7. Tomato Sauce

Yes, even tomato sauce has sugar — as much as 10 grams per serving! So check labels. It may even contain high fructose corn syrup, so also be on the lookout for that. Even some of the big names sell a “no sugar added” option.

8. Flavored Oatmeal

Not all bags of oatmeal are equal — and you should be especially wary of the flavored varieties. For instance, cinnamon-and-spice instant oatmeal can have 11 grams of sugar.

While there are surely lower-sugar options, it’s simple to make your own flavored oatmeal. Just get steel-cut oats and add seasoning (such as a dash of cinnamon) and some sliced fresh fruit. Voilà!

9. Smoothies

Smoothies are pretty healthy, right? Sometimes. But many include sweetened liquids, such as almond milk or yogurt, in addition to added sugars and fruits.

Your best bet is making your own smoothie — or placing a fresh order instead of grabbing a pre-made smoothie — and being careful about choosing sweetened ingredients.

10. Fruit & Nut Bars

What’s so bad about a modest amount of fruits and nuts? Well, those aren’t usually the only ingredients in a fruit-and-nut bar. Many of those bars are coated with sweeteners such as sugar, glucose syrup, and dates.

A healthier — and perhaps more filling — treat is a trail mix containing your favorite dried fruits and nuts. Or try making your own bars! You’re body — and your wallet — will thank you.

Article courtesy of the lovely mindbodygreen

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Recipe

The days are growing longer, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are singing, it's readily apparent that spring is in the air (unless, of course, you live in the Northeast, in which case, that's probably the snowplows, not the birds, you hear).

One of my favorite springtime desserts is an old classic, pineapple upside-down cake. Upside-down cakes can also be made traditionally with any chopped fruit, like apples or cherries, or, un-traditionally, with pears or cranberries. Me, I'm a traditionalist, and I'll stick with the pineapple.

Like many desserts, pineapple upside-down cake is high in flavor but also high in calories. Can it be made a little healthier while still keeping the original flavor? Of course.

One substitution is to eschew the white sugar for coconut palm sugar. Collected from the buds of the coconut palm, coconut palm sugar actually doesn't taste a thing like coconut. If anything, it's more reminiscent of brown sugar, with a slight caramel-y flavor, which plays well with tropical ingredients like pineapple.

Coconut palm sugar is mostly sucrose, not glucose, and has a low glycemic index, meaning that it's less likely to cause spikes and drops in your blood sugar. It is also rich in potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, as well several B-vitamins. When cooking or baking with coconut palm sugar, it can be substituted for white sugar on a 1:1 basis.

Then, of course, there's the pineapple. It's easily found in a can, but depending on where in the United States you are, finding fresh pineapple isn't difficult. Most recipes call for a 20-oz can of sliced pineapple; a fresh two pound pineapple will yield about the same amount and taste that much better. You can easily core a pineapple with a pineapple corer, or simply slice the pineapple and use a small cookie cutter to remove the cores.

You could also omit the traditional maraschino cherries and use blueberries or strawberries instead, or, if you're feeling really hardcore (and like traditional cocktails), you can make your own! The maraschino cherries you see in supermarkets these days have been brined, preserved, and pumped full of so much food dyes that they're cherries in name only. Making your own can be as simple as dumping some fresh (never frozen) pitted cherries into a canning jar and topping it off with maraschino liqueur, giving it a couple of weeks, and voila! Maraschino cherries the way they were pre-Prohibition, and they are great not only for pineapple upside down cake, but also in a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or the cocktail of your choice.

Another cool thing about pineapple upside-down cake? You can cook it in my favorite cooking utensil, a cast-iron skillet. Cast-iron provides nice, even heat for a perfectly caramelized top.

While this is usually a springtime dessert, there's no reason you can't enjoy this treat any time of the year.

This recipe, courtesy of Food.com, is a great starting point if you want to jump into the world of inverted desserts.

1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 (20 ounce) cans sliced pineapple, drained (or freshly sliced)
1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
maraschino cherries, if desired

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine flour, coconut palm sugar, shortening, milk, baking powder, salt, and egg until well blended.

Melt butter in iron skillet.

Sprinkle brown sugar over butter.

Arrange pineapple slices on top brown sugar/butter.

Place cherries in center of slices.

Pour batter over pineapple in skillet and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from oven and turn onto heat-proof plate.

 

Sources:

Wikipedia, Coconut Palm Sugar found here.

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Where's All That Sugar Hiding?

2015’s theme for National Nutrition Month’s is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” which encourages everyone to adopt eating and physical activity plans focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health. 

There are many ways to upgrade your Standard American Diet, and one of the standouts is to REDUCE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE. 

Is Sugar Affecting Your Health?

According to the National Cancer Institute, Americans consume an average of about 22 teaspoons a day of added sugar. This far exceeds the amount the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends: a daily maximum of six teaspoons for women and nine for men per day. Health issues such as mood swings, rheumatoid arthritis and cavities can be affected by sugar intake, and the AHA says added sugar is associated with increased risks of high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels.

To understand how much sugar you are consuming, start by reading labels and especially ingredients. Minimize the products that list sugar as one of the main ingredients.

When label reading, 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar! Familiarize yourself with the other words that signal sugar!

 In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods

 

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Natural Sweeteners with Added Nutritional Value

With so many different sweeteners available, how do you decide which one to use? I prefer a natural sweetener with some added nutritional value. I use the sweetener to replace processed, non-nutritive, refined sugar. It’s highly recommended to decrease your intake of refined sugar because it can have harmful effects on metabolism and contribute to all sorts of diseases. Excess intake of fructose, in particular, overloads the liver, forcing it to turn fructose into fat. Fructose also negatively effects our hunger hormones, is highly addictive for many people, and increases the risk of gaining weight. Keep in mind, limiting fructose intake does NOT apply to fruit. It’s almost impossible to overeat fructose by eating fruit.

Here's a helpful list of great natural sweeteners, the added nutrition each provides, and some suggested uses for each. 

Organic Fruit

Fun Fact: The vibrant color of fruit are due to phytonutrients, beneficial compounds that promote healthy aging and reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and more.

Fruit’s Health Benefits:

  • High in fiber which slows the overall digestion process, helping prevent increases in blood sugar.
  • High water content which provides a feeling of fullness.
  • Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Low in calories
  • Full of phytonutrients, which reduce risk of diseases.

Fruit’s Best Uses:

  • Options and uses are immense, which is why we love this natural sweetener!
  • Eat with a meal or as a snack, add fruit to smoothies, add to hot and cold cereal

Yacon (Yuh-cone)

Fun Fact: Known as the “Peruvian Ground Apple.” The yacón’s sweet, crispy tuberous root is described as a cross between an apple and a melon, or similar to a sweet jicama.

  • About half as sweet as honey or maple syrup.
  • Has been used for hundreds of years by people indigenous to the Andes mountains.

Yacon’s Health Benefits:

  • Low in calories
  • A low glycemic natural sweetener with unique properties.
  • High in FOS (Fructo-oligosaccharides), a sugar your body can’t absorbed.
  • Great source of inulin, a type of fiber that slows absorption, resulting in a minimal effect on blood sugar levels.
  • Inulin is considered a prebiotic to promote healthy gut flora, essential for good digestion.
  • Promotes a healthy digestive tract and helps increase the amount of good bacteria in your intestines

Yacon’s Best Uses:

  • Commonly available as a syrup and powder
  • A more delicate molasses flavor.
  • Use in smoothies, on roasted winter squash or sweet potatoes, atop pancakes or waffles, or in raw food treats. It’s very versatile.

Green-leaf Stevia

  • An Herb available in powder, tincture, or whole plant form. Grow your own stevia!
  • The green leaf is better than the white powder.
  • 300x as sweet as sucrose
  • Zero calories

Green-leaf Stevia’s Health Benefits:

  • Doesn’t promote dental cavities.
  • Doesn’t affect blood sugar levels.
  • An excellent choice for diabetics, people with sugar intolerances or weight issues, or for those who want to avoid excess calories.

Green-leaf Stevia’s Best Uses:

  • Convenient to use in tea, coffee, sweets, and smoothies.

Maple Syrup  

  • Sucrose is the predominant sugar at 60%.

Maple Syrup’s Health Benefits:

  • Excellent source of manganese.
  • Good source of zinc, which supports the immune system.
  • Choose darker syrups because they contain more antioxidants than the lighter syrups.

Maple Syrup's Best Uses:

  • Sweeten baked goods, plain yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, or a smoothie.
  • Add to salad dressings, sauces, on roasted meat.

Coconut Palm Sugar

  • Contains 70-80% sucrose
  • Much lower in fructose, which you want to limit, than other sweeteners.

Coconut Palm Sugar’s Health Benefits:

  • Contains several minerals, including iron, calcium, and zinc.
  • Contains antioxidants.
  • High in inulin, a type of fiber that slows absorption, resulting in a minimal effect on blood sugar levels.

Coconut Palm Sugar's Best Uses:

  • Fabulous taste, similar to brown sugar.
  • Texture makes a nice replacement for traditional sugar.
  • Great to use for cooking and baking.
  • Commonly used to sweeten Asian dishes, sauces and beverages.

Raw Honey

Fun Fact: Honey is the ONLY food source produced by an insect that humans eat.

Raw Honey’s Health Benefits:

  • Buy local whenever possible.
  • Rich in enzymes, antioxidants and minerals
  • Some antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
  • When choosing raw honey, the darker the color the better—means it’s higher in antioxidants.

Raw Honey's Best Uses:

  • Stir into hot beverages.
  • Sweeten yogurt, dips, dressings, and smoothies.

Manuka Honey

Fun Fact: Manuka honey is thicker and less sweet compared to raw honey. There are also slight taste differences between manuka honey brands, depending on where the manuka honey has been farmed, soil type, and other environmental factors. 

Manuka Honey’s Health Benefits:

  • It’s a healing food!
  • The major antibacterial component in manuka honey is methylglyoxal (MG). The higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibiotic effect.
  • Promotes wound healing
  • Fights bad bacteria and infections, eczema, acne, and a sore throat.
  • Anitmicrobial and antiviral properties.

Manuka Honey’s Best Uses:

  • Stir into hot beverages.
  • Apply topically to the skin for infections, bites, and cuts.
  • Take a spoonful to soothe the throat and digestive tract.
  • For general health, eat as you would any other honey products.

Molasses

  • Choose the dark and blackstrap varieties; these are highest in antioxidants.

Molasses Health Benefits:

  • High in antioxidants when compared to other sweeteners.
  • Helps with digestion.
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron and calcium.

Molasses Best Uses:

  • Sweeter than sugar so you'll need less.
  • Used in baking

Dates

Dates Health Benefits:

  • A whole food!
  • A great source of fiber, which helps with digestion.
  • High in antioxidants when compared to other sweeteners.
  • Don’t dramatically increase blood sugar levels.
  • Contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc.

Dates Best Uses:

  • Excellent in baking, smoothies, mixed into trail mix
  • Use to calm a craving or provide an energy boost.
  • Another option is date sugar, which is simply ground up, dried dates.

Lucuma Powder

Fun Fact: Lucuma is the most popular ice cream flavor in the Andes of South America.

  • Made from the lucuma fruit, which is native to Peru, Chile and Equador.
  • Has a mild, maple-like flavor with a smooth texture.

Lucuma's Health Benefits:

  • A low-glycemic food.
  • Provides 14 essential trace elements, including potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and skin-repair effects on human skin.
  • Don’t dramatically increase blood sugar levels (low glycemic).

Lucuma's Best Uses:

  • Use as a flour in pies, cakes, pastries, and food bars.
  • Add to smoothies, energy drinks, and nut milk.  

Remember, as with all sugar-based sweeteners, if you’re going to eat it, do so in moderation.

In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods

 

References:

Fructose and Health issues: http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/54/7/1907.short

Adverse Metabolic effects of fructose: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23594708

Insulin resistance and cancer: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jdr/2012/789174/

Fructose and Hunger hormones: http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jc.2003-031855

Sugar is Addicting: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306452205004288

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763407000589

High fructose corn syrup may cause obesity: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/4/537.short

Antioxidants in sweeteners: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19103324

Manuka Honey: http://www.webmd.boots.com/vitamins-and-minerals/manuka-honey

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