March 28, 2017

Italian food plays a major role in America's culinary tradition. Pasta dishes abound. But in the last 20 years, low-carb living has led many people to forgo pasta, which is a shame.

Pasta can definitely be a part of a healthy diet, including weight loss programs. Here are a few things to consider.

The main concern when eating pasta is the serving size. If you compare a pasta dish in an American restaurant to its counterpart in Europe, you'll immediately understand what we're talking about.

The FDA defines a serving of pasta as 2-ounces dry (4 ounces cooked). This serving, before adding sauce, will set you back 200 calories. Indeed, pasta is an energy dense food! Pasta is made from durum wheat, a grain with relatively high protein content. A serving has approximately 40 grams of carbs, but also 6 grams of protein!

Take note, and the next time you cook, make only the amount you'll need for a single serving per diner.

We always recommend eating whole grains, and pasta is no exception. Standard...

August 10, 2016

GMO is an acronym for genetically modified organism. GMOs are crops or animals whose DNA has been artificially altered in order to improve one or more traits. They could not have evolved or mutated naturally to achieve this change. In many cases, foreign DNA is injected into the organism. Today, the majority of corn and soy in the US are genetically modified, after their DNA was altered to withstand certain pests and herbicides.

While this scientific feat is quite amazing, GMOs pose several challenges:

  • GMOs have not been proven safe for humans over the long term.

  • GMOs have not necessarily decreased the use of pesticides or herbicides. In some cases, pesticide use and toxicity has increased.

  • GMOs are patented and pose ethical issues pertaining to corporate control of the global food supply.

Awareness of the existence of GMOs has grown in recent years, with many consumer groups calling for clear labeling of food products containing genetically modified ingredients. Accordin...

June 28, 2016

Popcorn can be a healthy snack, but you need to mind the added ingredients.

Let's start with the basics. A single cup of air-popped corn has only 30 calories. A one ounce serving - 3 full cups - is still less than 100 calories. And, it has 3 grams of fiber to boot.

Most people, however, do not eat their popcorn this way. In fact, the most common format is movie-theater popcorn. Beyond the gigantic portion size, the popcorn is soaked in unhealthy fats and sodium. A large tub can easily reach 1000 calories, with over 50 grams of saturated fats - 250 percent of the daily recommended maximum! If you do purchase popcorn at the movie theater, opt for the smallest size possible.

Supermarket popcorn is divided into ready-made and pop-at-home. Ready-made popcorn can be further divided into sweet and savory varieties. Ready-made sweetened popcorn should have an ingredient list as follows:

Popcorn, Oil, Sugar, Salt.

An ideal savory popcorn ingredient list:

Popcorn, Oil, Salt.

Shoot for popcorn with less...

May 31, 2016


Chewing gum is very popular for several reasons:

  • It freshens your breath

  • It keeps your mouth busy with something beside food

  • It can help you stay awake on a long drive

  • It may improve concentration and cognitive performance

  • It tastes good.

Although most gums are very low in calories, they may contain unhealthy ingredients. Let's take a look at Wrigley's Extra Peppermint Gum, for example:


Sorbitol, Gum Base, Glycerol, Mannitol, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Less than 2% of: Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Aspartame, Acesulfame K, Soy Lecithin, BHT (to Maintain Freshness), Color (Blue 1 Lake).


Like most sugar free gums, the sweeteners used here are sugar alcohols: sorbitol, glycerol, and mannitol. All sugar alcohols end with "ol". Unlike table sugar, there is some evidence that sugar alcohols may actually improve dental health. They are slightly lower in calories when compared to table sugar, however the amount used in chewing gum makes this a moot point.



May 11, 2016


One of the many contributions of Mexican cuisine to the US is salsa, which is Spanish for "sauce".

Typically based on tomatoes, salsa is a low calorie dip that can be enjoyed with tortilla chips, alongside rice and beans, and with tacos. Traditional recipes call for some heat, usually derived from spicy peppers.


What makes a good salsa?


If you make it on your own, it's sure to be awesome. All you need are diced ripe tomatoes, onion, vinegar, cilantro, salt and pepper. If you are buying your salsa, it shouldn't have much more than that.


Here, for example, is the ingredient list for Frog Ranch Salsa:


Vine ripened tomatoes, pickled peppers (peppers, vinegar, salt), fresh onions, parsley.


From a nutrient perspective, salsas are a very good choice. They tend to be very low in calories: just 10-30 calories per serving of two teaspoons. This means you can have seconds without feeling guilty. The tomatoes provide a nice amount of vitamin C and lycopenes (antioxidants).


Be watchful of the sodiu...

April 26, 2016


In many lunchtime sandwiches across the nation, deli meats are a standard. Fast food chain Subway has built its fortune on the sale of deli meat sandwiches. One brand in particular, Oscar Mayer, has been a beloved namesake for generations of lunch packing moms. There's no doubt, Americans love their bologna. Can these meats be a part of a healthy diet?


The term "deli meat" refers to meats preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives.

In most cases, red meat is used, either pork or beef. As tasty as they are, deli meats are NOT a health food. Multiple studies have demonstrated that increased consumption may lead to heart disease and cancer.


Among the problems associated with cold cuts are high levels of unhealthy fats, high levels of sodium, nitrates, and other additives.


Saturated Fats. Not all fats are created equal and the saturated fats in processed meats may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.


Sodium. Salt is a natural preservative that has been used for a...

April 14, 2016


Ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard are the quintessential condiments of the American meal. This triumvirate is found in nearly every household fridge across the nation, begging the question - which is the healthiest?


Ketchup is made of tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices. Here is the ingredient list for the most popular brand, Heinz:


tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, natural flavoring.


A serving of ketchup is one tablespoon. It is only 15 calories, but all of them are from sugars! There are no fats and no proteins. Ketchup is also surprisingly high in sodium, with 190 milligrams (about 10% of the daily maximum). The one redeeming value of ketchup is that it is made from tomatoes, and thus is a great source of lycopene, a type of antioxidant.


Mayonnaise is a mix of raw eggs, oil, and spices. Here is the ingredient list for top selling Hellmann's


Real Mayonnaise:


soybean oil, water, whole eg...

April 5, 2016


Making vegetables an integral part of your diet decreases the chance of disease, improves vital body functions, and helps to lose weight.


There are 3 places at the grocery store where you will find vegetables:

  • the produce section

  • the freezer

  • the canned foods aisle.

It's true that fresh veggies are the prom queen of the grocery store, don't discount the other two options.


Let's talk about frozen vegetables first. Flash freezing is a technique by which a food is exposed to extremely cold temperatures for a brief time period. It freezes almost instantly. This technique allows vegetables to retain almost all their original nutritional values. Flash freezing has no effect on the calorie count, protein and carb levels, mineral levels, or amount of fiber. There is a very slight loss of vitamins, usually vitamin C, but it is negligible.


Almost all frozen vegetables sold these days are flash frozen, which is great from a nutrition perspective. Unfortunately, not all frozen veget...

March 29, 2016


Pickles are extremely easy to make at home, but most people prefer the convenience of commercial jars, often not realizing what's inside. Lets take a look at Vlasic Original Dills, for example, to see what goes into industrial pickles these days. Here is the ingredient list:


Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Polysorbate 80, Natural Flavors, Potassium Metabisulfite (Preservative), Yellow 5.


The first four ingredients make sense - they are what your grandmother used to make pickles. She also added lots of dill, which, despite the product's name, is surprisingly missing from the ingredient list. Now on to the "bonus ingredients".


Calcium Chloride is a flavoring that doubles as a food preservative. It adds to the salty flavor without the added sodium. On its own, calcium chloride is an irritant, but it is safe when part of a food.


Polysorbate 80 is an emulsifier used in ice creams to keep their texture smooth. It is also used as a solubilizer, helping to dissolv...

March 10, 2016

Did you know that the average American eats 6 frozen meals a month? The market is estimated at $9 billion in annual sales.


The first TV dinner was introduced to the public in 1953 under the Swanson brand. It was presented as a solution for busy moms who had begun joining the workforce and could no longer spend hours in the kitchen. The meal included turkey, corn bread and gravy, buttered peas and sweet potatoes. It cost $0.98.


This was the beginning of a revolution. Combining an entree and two sides in a three part aluminum container that could be heated, eaten from, and then discarded, proved to be of great convenience to consumers.


To this day, convenience is the top reason for frozen dinner purchases.


The "healthy" frozen meal trend began in the mid-80's when the CEO of Con-Agra suffered a heart attack. Upon returning to work, he could not find a frozen entree that his doctors would approve. Thus was born the Healthy Choices brand. Since the FDA regulates the use of the term "Health...

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