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.

 

Cheese!

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

GrilledChickenLeg

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.

 

Great Health Tip of the Day: National Bison Month

July 14, 2014

BisonJuly is National Bison Month! Have you ever tried a bison burger or steak?

If you’ve never tried bison, this is the time! Fire up the grill and enjoy bison for a change. It is pretty similar in taste to beef and a little more lean (less fat) and lower in calories. It’s a touch higher in iron, too! Harmons offers a variety of bison, including bison burgers, steaks (sirloin, ribeye, NY strip), ground bison, and even bison dogs (with no added nitrates and nitrites!) As with beef, it’s best to stick with the leanest cuts, like sirloin.

Grill a bison steak just as you would beef (cook to a minimum internal temperature of 145F). They are great marinated or cooked with just a little salt and pepper to season.

Here’s a comparison of beef and bison:

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 4.44.42 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portable Snacks

July 10, 2014

cheese and crackersI don’t think there are many worse feelings in the world than the nagging hunger that comes so often in the afternoon. I remember distinctly my first week as a college freshman when around 3:00 every day it would come and I would waste the next 20 minutes removing everything from my backpack in search of any form of nourishment. I can’t tell you the excitement that a piece of hard candy or maybe a few chopped carrots left over from lunch would bring. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I just wasn’t the “I can wait until I get home to eat something” kind of a person. Instead, I now suffer from what I like to refer to as CSP, Compulsive Snack Packing! Since then, my faithful Nike shoe bag, purse, backpack and pockets have all served as great vehicles for my snack-packing habit. My friends and family have taken to calling me Miss Poppins and often take advantage of my stash and generosity.

For those of you who have someone like me in your lives, you are among the lucky. For the rest of you, the task of being prepared is falling on your shoulders. Since most people are at work, school, or running errands in the afternoon, snacks that are portable, filling and quick are usually necessary. The following are my top seven on-the-go snacks to keep in your desk or backpack to keep you going when the time between lunch and dinner seems a little too long:

#1 Instant oatmeal

Oatmeal is often touted as being a heart-healthy breakfast option but there is no reason that it can’t also be a great snack. The individual packets are already portioned and often the package it comes in can act as a built-in measuring cup for water. Be sure to look for those that are lower in sugar.

#2 String cheese with whole-grain crackers

Cheese and crackers is a staple snack for many people and for good reason . . . it’s such a great combo! Triscuits are a great choice for a nutrient-dense cracker.

#3 Pre-popped or microwave popcorn

Popcorn is most definitely my favorite food in the entire world, but that is not the only reason I added it to this list. It is also a whole grain and provides fiber to make you feel full longer. Look for those varieties that are lightly salted and buttered. If you want a sweeter snack, try Angie’s Boomchickapop Lightly Sweet Popcorn . . . you seriously won’t regret it!

#4 Almonds and raisins

This may seem odd but I like to think of it as my own simplified trail mix. I usually buy raisins and lightly salted almonds separately then mix them together and pack them in an air-tight container. I feel like this gives the perfect mix of sweetness with a touch of salt from the almonds. Really you can do any dried fruit/nut mix. Be creative!

#5 Granola bars

The great thing about granola bars is that there are so many different varieties that you could seriously never get bored. Some are obviously more nutrient-dense than others but they are usually far better than grabbing a candy bar out of the vending machine in a quick rush. Some of my more recent favorites are Cascadian Farm’s Dark Chocolate Almond Chewy Bars and Kashi’s Peanut Peanut Butter Chewy Granola Bars (fyi, this is not a typo . . . that really is their name).

#6 Fresh apple or banana with nut butter

I am so grateful to nature for making a lot of fruits inherently portable. They can seriously be taken anywhere with no prep work included. By adding a little nut butter, you not only add to the deliciousness (I realize this is my opinion), but it also provides a dose of protein. I have recently discovered Justin’s single-serve Honey Almond Butter and love them, especially when I am trying to pack snacks in a hurry.

#7 Yogurt

I know a refrigerator is needed when packing this snack but there usually is one available in most work and school settings. Yogurt has many health benefits including being a source of calcium, vitamin D and probiotics. Get the most benefit by choosing those yogurts with low amounts of added sugar.

Written by Harmons Dietetic Intern Billie Jean Reed

 

 

Great Health Tip of the Day: Be Smart About Your Summertime Eating

July 9, 2014

It’s the time of year again for weekend picnics and barbeques!
 Make sure you enjoy yourself while still being aware of the food choices you are making. Be mindful of what you are eating by following these guidelines:

Use smaller cups and plates.happy family together in picnic, colorful outdoors

People generally eat less when they have smaller dishes even if they are aware of it.

Never go to a party really hungry!

Eat a small snack, such as an apple, before you go so you do not allow your hunger to dictate what you put on your plate.

Put your fork down between each bite.

This will slow down your eating and help you notice when you are no longer hungry.

After eating, avoid standing next to the food table.

This will help prevent you from eating without thinking.

 

Written by Harmons Dietetic Intern Billie Jean Reed

 

Superfood Battle: Kale vs. Spinach

June 27, 2014

This week Harmons is pleased to have a second blog installment from one of our nutrition interns. Ashley Quadros wrote this blog and is currently working on finishing a Master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics at The University of Utah. She hopes to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist once she completes the program and looks forward to working in the always exciting field of nutrition.

Healthy green juiceSuperfood Battle: Kale vs. Spinach

As you have probably noticed, kale has made quite the name for itself as a “superfood.” Some argue it is the world’s most powerful superfood, which has lead to the publishing of such cookbooks as “The Book of Kale” and “Fifty Shades of Kale.”

A quick (and admittedly not thorough) Google search reveals decidedly fewer recipe books dedicated to spinach, and none with titillating titles that liken the leafy green to erotic romance. Nevertheless, you might be wondering is kale really that much better? Does it deserve all of this limelight?

First, I will start off by saying that regardless of the outcome of this battle, please eat your green leafy veggies! Spinach, kale, chard, collards, mustard greens, bok choy…. These vegetables are loaded with nutrition including fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and E, folate, magnesium and potent phytochemicals. Some greens are also high in iron and calcium. Each of these nutrients has plenty of data backing their health-giving properties (folate and cardiovascular disease, vitamin E and skin health). When all is said and done, leafy greens are mighty fighters against chronic disease and are an excellent addition to any diet.

Okay – now that I’ve been able to stand on my nutrition soapbox, let’s get to the battle.

Nutrition

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As you can see, spinach comes in at about half the calories and fat as kale, while kale has a bit more protein. This comparison doesn’t really give us enough to evaluate who the winner might be, so let’s look at vitamin and minerals.

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 10.20.25 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Verdict

While kale only won in 4 out of 9 nutrients, it is considerably higher in vitamins C and K than spinach. Additionally, spinach is much higher in oxalates, a naturally occurring substance found in many plants and vegetables. Unfortunately, oxalates may decrease how much calcium and magnesium we absorb from foods meaning we absorb less of these nutrients from spinach than from kale. With these considerations, I would say that kale has a slight edge over spinach. However, the abundance of disease-fighting phytochemicals in each of these foods makes them both winners. And what about cost? Per fresh bunch, spinach can be about 30 cents cheaper, making it the more economical choice. So, what is the bottom line? Kale is a very healthy food. No doubt about that. So is spinach. And with that, the battle has come to an end! Choose either of these to add to a healthy diet.

So, are you feeling inspired to write a cookbook about poor, under-appreciated spinach? Maybe something like “Sexy Spinach”? Ha! I can admit my book titling skills are certainly lacking. Either way, if you’ve made it to the end of this veggie duel, hopefully you have had a giggle and know a bit more about greens.

Written by Ashley Quadros