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:

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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.

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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

 

Great Health Tip of the Day: Know Your Beers!

June 27, 2014
Glasses with four beers on a white background. The file contains a path to cut.With summer in our midst, there are few things more enjoyable on a hot day than a cold, refreshing beer*. However, beer is generally high in calories and not all beers are created equally. If you’re watching calories, it’s good to be aware of the number of calories in the beer you’re sipping (per 12 oz. serving):
 
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*You should not drink alcohol if you are under the age of 21, pregnant or have certain health conditions. Alcohol intake should be limited to 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men.

Article by Ashley Quadros.
 

Nutrition for the MS Bike Ride

June 21, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.33.22 PMThe last weekend of June is quickly approaching, which means it is almost time for the MS Bike Ride!  If you are participating as a rider this year, I hope you’ve had a great time training for the event.  I also hope you’ve started to think about your nutrition strategy leading up to, during, and after the ride.  If not, I’m here to help…before it’s too late!

Fueling for the big day

You’ve probably heard about carb-loading if you’ve been cycling for a few years.  You want to start out your ride with your fuel tank full, which means you need to top off your glycogen (stored carbohydrate) stores in your muscles.  The best way to do this is to make sure you eat enough calories and carbohydrates leading up to the event.  While a high carbohydrate meal the night before is great, you should really think about increasing your carb consumption a few days before the MS Ride.  Foods that provide a good source of carbohydrates include pasta, rice, quinoa, bread, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and granola bars.  Make sure you don’t skip any meals in the days leading to the ride and try to eat something every 3-4 hours to ensure your glycogen stores remain topped off. 

Pre-ride dinner

For your pre-ride dinner, make sure you don’t experiment with any new foods and try to keep the fat and fiber content on the lower end.  Pasta with tomato sauce or a drizzle of olive oil is a better choice than cheesy alfredo or other heavy sauces for the night before.  Pasta isn’t the only option though; rice or noodle stir fry, pancakes and eggs, or a sandwich with potatoes or other starchy sides are also great to fuel you up.  But remember, don’t try anything new the night before!

Ride-day breakfast

Carbs are king on the morning of the event too!  Try to eat a light meal at least 2 hours before the ride, if possible.  Similar to dinner, you don’t want a lot of fat, fiber, or even protein on the morning of the ride to avoid gastrointestinal issues.  Great options include a bagel with honey and banana, yogurt with granola and fresh fruit, or breakfast cereal with low-fat milk and fruit.  It is also important to hydrate leading up to the ride.  Drink about 10-20 ounces of water with your breakfast and another 10-15 ounces about 15-20 minutes before the event (this gives you time for one last toilet stop before you start riding!)  If you sleep in and don’t have time for a full breakfast, top off your liver glycogen right before the ride with sports drink, sport gel or chews, or even a liquid meal replacement drink.

During the ride

During the ride, try to eat 30-60 grams of carbohydrate every hour.  If you are just out for a leisurely ride, you will be able to also include some lean protein in your snacks if you choose, like string cheese, a small amount of peanut butter, or low-fat milk.  But if you’re out for speed and really push yourself, stick with easily digested carbohydrate.  Not sure what 30-60 grams of carbohydrate means in food?  This chart will help:

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It’s also extremely important to stay hydrated!  Since everyone sweats at a different rate, your fluid needs will be specific for you (hopefully you figured out your fluid needs during training).  Drink every 15-20 minutes to increase absorption and don’t forget to replace electrolytes (sodium) through sports drinks, salt tablets, or salty food during the ride.

Recovery nutrition

If you’re like me, you dream about recovery food!  I usually start thinking about post-event food half way through the event because I am so hungry J  You want to eat more carbohydrate-rich foods within 30 minutes-1 hour after finishing the ride, ESPECIALLY if you are riding again on Sunday.  It is also a good idea to include around 10-25 grams of protein to help your muscles rebuild.  If you don’t have much of an appetite at the end, try to at least drink sports drink, a smoothie, or chocolate milk until you can stomach a snack or meal.  Below are some post-ride suggestions that provide both carbohydrates and protein:

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Great Health Tip of the Day: Start Your Summer in a “Berry” Delicious Way!

June 20, 2014

BerriesTomorrow, June 21st, is officially the first day of summer! While Utah’s weather doesn’t always cooperate, the produce department at Harmons is decidedly summery. With blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries all in season (AND on sale this week), it’s an excellent time to enjoy treats that are both nutritious and delicious.

Berries are packed with vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, and also contain fewer carbohydrates per cup than many other fruits, making them an excellent choice for people living with diabetes. Oh, and they also taste great! So throw some berries into your morning cereal or oatmeal, put a few on your salad, or grab a handful and eat them plain, and enjoy one of the delicious tastes of summer.

 

Brown Rice vs. Quinoa

June 17, 2014

Brown Rice, Quinoa and Wild RiceHarmons dietitians are lucky to be able to host talented interns in the summer months. Carmen Ramos wrote this blog and is currently studying at the University of Utah in the nutrition master’s degree program. She plans to become a registered dietitian after graduation and work towards becoming a certified diabetes educator.

Brown Rice vs. Quinoa

Brown rice and quinoa are two grains that are highly recognized for their nutritional value and as a better alternative to refined grains. However, which would be the top choice for optimal nutrition? Let’s take a look.

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When it comes to calories, brown rice and quinoa are about equal, with brown rice taking the slight lead in the race. However, this small difference in calories may be due to fat content. Although quinoa has double the amount of total fat, it has the same amount of saturated fat and triple the amount of polyunsaturated fat, which has been shown to have cardiovascular benefits. The health benefits associated with poly- and monounsaturated fats may outweigh the small difference in calories.

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Quinoa has less carbohydrates and more fiber than brown rice. Fiber can help control blood sugar levels and make you feel fuller for longer, which sets quinoa in the clear lead. On top of quinoa having a higher protein content, it is also one of the only grains that is a complete protein. This means that it has all 9 essential amino acids, which your body cannot make.

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Although brown rice is certainly a good source of multiple vitamins and minerals, quinoa takes the lead again due to its higher content of micronutrients. Potassium, which is important for kidney health and maintaining normal blood pressure, is almost four times as high in quinoa than in brown rice. Quinoa also has ten times the amount of folate, which is needed for fetal growth and development as well as red blood cell production.

Cost

In terms of cost, brown rice is generally less expensive than quinoa. Brown rice typically sells for $0.96 per pound, while quinoa sells for about $7.49 per pound or more.  

The Winner?

Although quinoa is clearly in the lead with this one, it is important to recognize that a variety of whole grains is actually the top choice for optimal nutrition. This includes brown rice, quinoa, farro, barley, and oats. Also, if the cost of quinoa is a barrier, brown rice is a grain that will ultimately give health benefits as well.

Author – Carmen Ramos

 

Sweet Potato vs. Russet Potato (vs. Red vs. Purple)

June 12, 2014

“Are potatoes as bad as they say?” is a question I am often asked on store tours.  Or, “Are sweet potatoes really much better than white potatoes?”  Let’s take a look.

When we compare the nutrients in different varieties of potatoes, we find some similarities.  Variety of Fingerling Potatoes in CollanderPotatoes are a starchy vegetable, which means that they are a high carbohydrate food and are quite similar in calorie content (purples are slightly lower).  They are all high in fiber and vitamin C, and have almost twice as much potassium as a banana!  They originated in South America.  Peru has been known to grow over 5,000 potato varieties, and still maintains 2,800 varieties today.  In the US, the vast majority of potatoes grown are the familiar Russet Burbank potato, which makes our beloved baked potato and French fry.

Carbohydrates & Fiber
Beyond calories, we start seeing some differences.  Sweet potatoes and Russets have the exact same number of carbohydrates, reds slightly fewer, and purples contain the fewest grams of carbohydrates.  Sweet potatoes are highest in fiber; purple potatoes are considerably lower than sweet potatoes or Russets. 

Vitamins
Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A, packing almost 700% of the recommended daily value in one medium potato; all the others have none.  Sweet potatoes also have about twice the vitamin C of Russet Burbank and red potatoes.  They all are great sources of potassium, with red potatoes leading the pack.  Purple and red potatoes are unique in the fact that they are packed with antioxidants.  The purple potato is full of the antioxidant, anthocyanin, like most blue/purple foods.

So, which is best? 
With the most fiber and vitamin A & C and a healthy dose of potassium, sweet potatoes come out the winner!  Keep in mind all the potatoes are nutrient-dense and each has a unique nutritional strong-point, so mix it up next time you grab some potatoes.

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Lachman J, Hamouz K. Orsak M.  Red and purple potatoes – a significant antioxidant source in human nutrition.  International Food Information Service.  2005; 99 (7): 474–82.

Collyns D. Peru’s potato passion goes global. BBC News.  8 February 2008.  Accessed 9 Mar 2012. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7231148.stm

 

Great Health Tip of the Day: National Men’s Health Week

June 11, 2014

Young African American Man Exercising In ParkWith Father’s Day just around the corner, now is a great time to recognize ways in which men can improve their health, or ways in which they are healthy already! Here are some tips for improving men’s health:

Quit smoking. This is the best to improve your health. Tobacco has been linked to multiple health problems such as lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Secondhand smoke has also been seen to cause health problems to those around you. Quitting smoking will not only help you but your loved ones as well.

Be safe. The third leading cause of death in men is unintentional accidents. Be sure to wear protective gear when performing sports and put on your seat belt when driving.

Stay active. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week. This will help decrease your risk of developing heart disease, keep you energized, and boost your self-esteem. Take a bike ride, toss a ball with friends, or take your dog for a walk.

Monitor your alcohol intake. Chronic alcohol consumption has been linked to cirrhosis, depression, and nerve damage. The recommendation is to limit intake to no more than 2 drinks a day for men.

De-stress and get enough sleep. Too much long-term stress can cause health consequences such as high blood pressure, chronic headaches, and depression. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night can help with de-stressing as well as listening to your favorite music and spending time away from electronics like your phone and laptop.

Eat healthfully. Enjoy a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for protection against chronic diseases. Limit your salt, red meat, fat, and sugar intake while exploring your favorite ways to cook vegetables.