August 18, 2014

chilesI use a lot of chiles when cooking at home (people that I swap recipes with don’t ask me if a recipe is spicy, but rather “how spicy is this?”). So you can imagine that I’m excited about the start of Harmons annual chile roasting weekends. Chiles in addition to being delicious do have health benefits. Spicy chiles contain a powerful antioxidant called capsaicin and like most fruit contain a good helping of vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant. Additionally I find that foods with a little “heat” don’t need as much salt to flavor them, which can be helpful for reducing sodium in the diet.

Tips for including chiles:

If you are not used to spicy foods start with milder peppers such as Anaheim chiles and discard the seeds and membranes in the chiles. You can also add some dairy such as milk or plain yogurt to a dish to help reduce the heat (I have gulped many glasses of milk over the years after making a dish too spicy).

When working with spicy chiles wear gloves to avoid feeling a burning sensation. Avoid touching any sensitive part of your body when working with chiles (I have “burned” my eyes more than once over the years). If you don’t wear gloves, rub oil (any cooking oil) onto your hands and then wash with a degreasing type of dish or hand soap.

Some of my favorite ways to use chile peppers include:

  • Top a turkey burger or grilled Portobello mushroom with a roasted Anaheim or poblano pepper and guacamole (this combination also appears on my favorite turkey sandwich)
  • Stuff a poblano pepper (here is a quick recipe from Cooking Light (use a lower sodium refried bean such as Amy’s light in sodium or Field Day Organic vegetarian black bean refried beans to reduce the sodium in this recipe):
  • Make a pot of white chicken chili
  • Chop with tomatoes, onions and spices for a great fresh salsa
  • Make homemade green enchilada sauce (this is great in rice as well as for making chicken enchiladas)
  • Add to a tuna salad (my favorite is Southwest Tuna Salad – see the recipe below)

What is your favorite way to use chile peppers?

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Great Health Tip of the Day: Hiking Safety

August 14, 2014

Hiking is a great form of exercise and Utah has many beautiful hiking trails. Whether you are out for a short day
hike or a backpacking trip lasting several days make your hiking trips enjoyable and safe by following some simple
tips:hiking safety

  •  Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return
  •  Stay on the trail
  •  Ask for help if it becomes necessary
  •  Hydrate and fuel up as needed
  •  Always carry the recommended essentials:
    1. water
    2. extra food
    3. extra clothing/insulation
    4. rain and wind protection
    5. sun protection: sun glasses, sun screen, lip balm, sun hat
    6. compass and maps or GPS and knowledge of their use
    7. flashlight and spare batteries
    8. first aid kit and insect repellent
    9. emergency kit: whistle, matches or small lighter, candle or fire starter tabs, lightweight reflective emergency bag or space blanket
    10. pocket knife


Wasatch Mountain Club – The Ten Essentials and National Park Service – Hiking Safety

Zucchini, Zucchini, Zucchini!

August 8, 2014


It has come. The time of year in which zucchini (and of course, zucchini bread) is abundant. It’s inexpensive, taking over gardens, and inspiring the rationalization of eating of too much zucchini chocolate cake: “but it has vegetables in it, right….?” If you’re especially lucky (unlucky?), you may have already found an abandoned zucchini on your front porch.

This year, let’s embrace the abundance! Try some new recipes. Zucchini after all is very nutritious and versatile. One cup chopped provides a mere 20 calories, some fiber, and a generous dose of vitamin C.

Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy zucchini.

  • Add it to lasagna. Be sure to roast or sauté them first so your beautiful lasagna doesn’t turn to mush.
  • Add it to pasta sauce (be sure to sauté it beforehand or simmer it in the sauce until tender).
  • Throw it on pizza (even takeout pizza, if the zucchini is already roasted).
  • Substitute bread for roasted zucchini “coins” as the base for caprese appetizers.
  • Shred into pancake batter for extra moisture.
  • Slice it thin and add to a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Zucchini is great in almost any light, summery soup.
  • Cut it into sticks and eat it raw dipped in hummus.
  • Throw long, thin strips on the grill during your next barbeque for a smoky flavor.
  • Add it to a traditional corn and black bean dip salad (chop it up finely and enjoy it raw).
  • And then of course when I’m lazy, I simply sauté it in bulk with some garlic and olive oil and eat it as a side dish for a couple days.
  • Peel it into ribbons and marinate it for a cold salad (see below for the recipe I’ve been using).

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Some additional ideas:

What are you favorite ways to enjoy zucchini? We’d love to hear!


Great Health Tip of the Day: National Sandwich Month

August 7, 2014

What a great month to celebrate sandwiches! They are quick to prepare, don’t require turning on the stove, and can be a complete meal. Here are some tips to creating a healthy sandwich masterpiece.

  • Use whole grain bread
    • Look for “100% Whole Grain” on the package or look for “whole” in the ingredient list
    • The fiber of whole grains will keep you satisfied
  • Include veggies
    • Load em’ up for a light, refreshing sandwich loaded with nutrients and flavor
    • Keep them raw for a crunchy, cooling treat
  • Choose a lean protein
    • Hummus, grilled tofu, fresh mozzarella, leftover chicken breast, egg, and tuna are great choices
    • When choosing a deli meat, look for nitrate/nitrite free options with less than 350 mg of sodium
  • Choose condiments carefully
    • Choose low-fat or healthy-fat options
    • To bump up the creaminess and heart-healthy fats, replace mayo with mashed avocado
    • Use a small amount of pesto for a burst of flavor and healthy fats
  • Think outside the box
    • Try thinly sliced fruit with goat cheese
    • Use a whole-grain wrap (or even leftover whole grain pancakes) instead of bread
    • Add leftover veggies like roasted beets or zucchini
    • Stuff a pita with leftover salad for a fresh look


Great Health Tip of the Day: I Scream, You Scream… Tips for Choosing a Healthier Frozen Treat!

August 5, 2014

Cold Organic Frozen Strawberry Fruit Popsicle‘Tis the season for longer days, outdoor barbeques, and blazing temperatures. When the mercury rises, many of us want to reach for a decadent, cold treat to cool off. However, the calories from these frozen treats can really add up if you aren’t careful! Read on for tips on choosing a healthier frozen indulgence, and some of our top picks in the freezer aisle.

Popsicles- Nothing says summer quite like a cold Popsicle. But their empty calories and high sugar content leave much to be desired in the nutrition department. If you eat them regularly, consider switching to sugar free popsicles for a 25 calorie savings per pop. Or, even better, grab some of your favorite frozen fruit and eat that instead! Frozen grapes and pineapple are great snacks that taste decadent, but are actually healthy.

Ice Cream – While delicious, some ice cream can pack in over 300 calories in a 1⁄2 cup serving! (I’m looking at you, Ben and Jerry’s.) Try to stick to varieties with around 100 calories per 1⁄2 cup serving. Also, be sure that you’re sticking to the 1⁄2 cup portion size – it is very easy to overestimate. (I recommend using a measuring cup at least once to get a feel for what 1⁄2 cup really looks like) Top with sliced fruit like strawberries or peaches for a healthier summer treat. Top Picks: Dreyer’s Slow Churned Varieties, TruMoo Lowfat Ice Cream.



August 4, 2014

Various types of cheeseOne of the questions we dietitians get asked most often (and with the most trepidation) is, “Do I have to eliminate cheese from my diet?” And I find that people are usually scared of our answer since they’ve often heard that cheese is unhealthy, or heard a story about a friend of a friend who lost 20 pounds by eliminating dairy. But their fear is usually alleviated when we tell them that cheese can be a part of a healthy diet, as it is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and protein. However, not all of the criticism of cheese is unwarranted: it does contain a good amount of saturated fat and calories, and can be pretty high in sodium. So the key with cheese, as with all things in nutrition, is fitting it into your diet in the right way. Here are some of our top tips for fitting cheese into your diet the healthy way!

Look out for sodium

Cheese is often chastised for its high fat and calorie content, but overlooked for its sodium, which can be surprisingly high. Look out for the high sodium in cheeses like feta, parmesan, and Gouda. Many people are surprised to hear that cottage cheese is a sodium offender, with about 450 milligrams of sodium per 1⁄2 cup serving. For lower sodium options, try ricotta or Swiss cheese.

Use a reduced fat cheese when you can

While it won’t work for everything, a reduced fat cheese can be a great substitution in recipes that call for a lot of cheese. It still melts well, and when it’s combined with the other flavors in the recipe, you likely won’t be able to tell a difference from the full fat variety. However, keep in mind that fat free cheeses don’t melt very well.

Limit your portion size

This is probably the most important tip for eating cheese healthfully. I have seen many people trying to lose weight who snack on large chunks of cheese, which is likely not doing any favors for their waist lines, as one serving of cheese is just one ounce. One ounce of cheese generally contains 110 calories and 9 grams of fat, 6 of which are saturated. (Saturated fat is the one that isn’t so good for heart health) If you have trouble slicing cheese to the right portion, try buying cheeses that are already sliced or pre-portioned and wrapped, such as string cheese, Tillamook brand Tilla-Moos, or mini Babybel cheeses. I also recommend using a food scale a few times, until you’re used to what a 1 ounce serving size looks like.

Use cheese so you can taste it!

Who doesn’t love melty, gooey cheese on a cold day? (or any day!) When eating cheese, make sure that it takes center stage for your taste buds, and isn’t just adding joyless calories. For me, this means foregoing cheese on cold sandwiches, as I don’t really taste it, but instead topping my salads with a shaving of parmesan cheese where I can really enjoy it. So be strategic about your cheese, and use it so you can really savor it.

Pick cheese with more flavor (and use less!)

When you buy cheese, pick ones that have a stronger flavor so that you can use less. For example, instead of using a lot of mild cheddar in a recipe, substitute a smaller amount of a sharp cheddar. Need a good recommendation for a flavorful cheese? Our cheese islands carry cheeses from over 10 different countries, and our fabulous cheese mongers would be happy to point you in the direction of a delicious, flavorful cheese.

Dietitians Choice

Another question we get frequently is why we don’t tag any cheeses as Dietitians Choice. It’s a difficult question to answer, because as you can see above, cheese can be part of a healthy diet. However, cheese is higher in saturated fat than we generally allow in our criteria, and can also be pretty high in sodium. So ultimately, we decided not to tag cheese as a category not because it isn’t healthy, but because it became difficult to find cheeses that would really meet our saturated fat and sodium standards. From a nutrition standpoint, cheese probably won’t ever be the best choice, since there are more nutrient-dense foods with less saturated fat and sodium, but we also think that it can be a part of a healthy, balanced diet.


Planned Leftover Grilled Chicken

July 26, 2014


Normally I enjoy cooking, but during the summer months I would rather spend my time outdoors. In order to still have healthy meals without spending a lot of time in the kitchen, we grill a lot of chicken. What I like most about chicken (besides how it tastes!) is its versatility. We almost always cook extra to “makeover” into another meal or to take for lunches. Here are my favorite ways to make quick, healthy and easy meals out of leftover chicken (these are also great with rotisserie chicken if you need an even quicker meal solution).

  • BBQ Chicken Sandwich on Whole Grain Rolls or Buns
  • Mix 1/2 cup shredded chicken breast with 1/4 grated carrot (or the packaged matchstick carrots) and 2 tablespoons lower sugar barbecue sauce (I really like Famous Dave’s Natural Heat and the Stubb’s Barbecue Sauces). Heat in the microwave and serve on a whole grain bun. A green salad and fresh fruit pair well with this.
  • Chicken Rice and Black Bean Salad
  • Mix 1/2 cup shredded or diced chicken with 1/2 cup cold brown rice, 1/3 cup black beans, 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, and 1 sliced green onion. Toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette (to add a Southwest flavor add a little chopped cilantro and jalapeno). Add a little fruit and yogurt for dessert and you have a balanced meal in a short time.
  • Chicken Taco Salad
  • Toss chopped chicken with lettuce greens, kidney beans, tomatoes, onions, crushed tortilla chips (look for those made with whole corn), and a small amount of shredded cheddar. For the dressing, mix equal parts non-fat Greek yogurt and your favorite salsa.
  • Fruit and Chicken Green Salad
  • Mix a bagged lettuce blend with cubed chicken, fruit (berries, grapes or peaches are great) and almonds, toss with a raspberry or balsamic vinaigrette.

What is your favorite healthy way to “makeover” grilled chicken?


Great Health Tip of the Day: National Hot Dog Day

July 23, 2014

7 billion hot dogs are eaten annually between Memorial Day and Labor Day

Holiday Picnic Hot Dogs

A hot dog will never be a dietitian’s first choice, but as with all less-than-healthy foods they can fit into a healthy diet by enjoying them in moderation and making a better choice when choosing these summer favorites. Use the following tips to make a better choice:

  • Choose uncured hot dogs as these do not contain nitrites or nitrates
  • Look for hot dogs lower in saturated fat
  • 3 grams or less would be best
  • Watch the salt: Since hot dogs are usually eaten with a bun and condiments containing salt, sodium can add up very quickly
  • Aim for 400 mg or less sodium per hot dog

Better Choices at Harmons:

Applegate’s uncured beef, chicken or turkey hot dogs


Utah Melons!

July 22, 2014

Melon_Mania_2014-1This week is melon mania at Harmons. For the last couple weeks, we’ve been going strong with cantaloupe and watermelon from Sterling Farms in Hurricane, Utah. They are better than ever! I dare you to walk past the cantaloupes and resist their sweet aroma. Look for the sign at the bottom of this page in the store.

Not only are these melons delicious, but they are fresh and local, which means more nutrients for you! The moment fruit is picked from the vine, it starts to lose some of its precious vitamins. Since these melons only need to travel a few hours up to our stores, they are at their peak potential.

Cantaloupe is packed with vitamin A. Just one cup provides all you need for an entire day plus a healthy dose of vitamin C.

You probably don’t need another reason to love the iconic sweet, juicy watermelon, but just in case you do, know that one cup of watermelon has more lycopene than a fresh tomato. Lycopene is a strong antioxidant that may decrease risk of prostate cancer and heart disease. Lycopene is what gives watermelon its pink tint.

Stop by Harmons this week for killer deals on local melon!

Need to liven it up a bit?

    • UtahGrownMelonsToss melon cubes with chopped fresh mint for an extra-refreshing treat.
    • Throw in melon chunks into your next smoothie.
    • Grill it! Watermelon is surprisingly delicious hot off the grill.
    • Make a sweet fruit salsa with finely chopped melon, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

Think it’s too hot to eat healthy? Think again!

July 16, 2014

frozen grapesWith temperatures nearing the 100s, it’s no wonder that many of us in Utah don’t want to be heating up our ovens to make dinner. Drive thrus seem to beckon us with ready-prepared meals, and the promise of not having to heat up the kitchen (and the house!). However, eating well is still important even when it’s hot outside, and it can be just as easy, convenient and delicious to eat well as it is to eat “junk food.” Here are a few tips to help you stay cool and healthfully filled up during this hot summer season.

  1. Use the grill

When it’s hot outside, grilling is an excellent way to make delicious food that is healthy, and also won’t heat up your house. Grab a couple of our pre-made chicken or beef kabobs in our meat case for an easy, quick meal, or get some of our fresh ground turkey to make turkey burgers.

  1. Use vegetables as side dishes – and snacks

Vegetables are easy to eat in the summer since they are light and refreshing. I love keeping a container of already cleaned and chopped veggies in my refrigerator to munch on, or to quickly top a salad. If you need a dip for your veggies, I recommend mixing a 16 ounce container of nonfat plain Greek yogurt with a packet of dry ranch dressing mix; it makes a perfect ranch dip, and no one can ever tell that it’s actually made with Greek yogurt!

  1. Fill up on fruits

It’s important to eat fruits and vegetables all year long, but summer is the perfect time to fill up your cart with produce. Plenty of fruits are in season, making them less expensive, more nutritious, and tastier. Keep your fruits in the fridge for a tasty, cold snack. For a fun twist, try freezing your fruit to create popsicle-like healthy treats. Have you ever tried frozen grapes? Freezing grapes creates a sorbet-like texture, and a sweeter taste. However, almost any fruit tastes delicious when frozen. Grab a bag of frozen pineapple for a sweet treat, or cut up your favorite fruit and pop it in the freezer for a couple of hours.

  1. Stay hydrated

When we’re hot, our bodies release water (aka sweat) to help cool us down. While this is effective for cooling us off, it does make us lose water and can cause you to become dehydrated, if you don’t replace the water you’ve lost. Be sure to keep a water bottle with you when you leave the house; if you have it with you, you’ll be much more likely to actually drink water. A good way to tell if you’re well hydrated is by taking a look at the color of your urine. Clear to pale yellow urine is ideal; the darker your urine, the less hydrated you are.

  1. Buy healthier convenience foods

There’s nothing worse than feeling hot and bloated. Fast food tends to be packed with bloat causing salt, and is also usually high in empty calories that don’t provide a lot of nutrition. Eating healthier foods will make you feel cooler, and will also give you more energy. If you’re crunched for time, try grabbing some of our pre-made Dietitian’s Choice deli options. Our chipotle turkey salad makes a fabulous sandwich when put on a 7 Grain Roll from our bakery; serve with some cold, raw veggies, and you have a balanced and cool meal.