7 Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are nature’s hidden treasure because one handful of mushrooms delivers nutrition, value, taste and versatility. They’re fat-free, low-calorie, nutrient-dense, low in sodium, contain natural antioxidants, and have a savory flavor that enhances everyday dishes. Here are 7 health benefits of mushrooms:

 1. Weight Management/Satiety. Mushrooms are hearty and fulfilling. Increasing intake of low-energy density-foods (meaning few calories given the volume of food), specifically mushrooms, in place of high-energy-density foods, like lean ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing daily energy and fat intake while still feeling full and satiated after the meal. Research conducted at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests substituting mushrooms for lean ground beef in an entrée just once every week would save almost 20,000 calories or more than 5 pounds of body weight in one year.

 2. Source of Vitamin D. Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but mushrooms are unique for being the only source in the produce aisle and one of the few non-fortified food sources. All mushrooms contain vitamin D, but growers also have the ability to increase D levels in mushrooms to a controlled amount by exposing them to ultraviolet light.

3. Every Day Versatility.Thanks to their versatility, low-calorie, nutrient-dense mushrooms can help people meet recommended dietary guidelines. Fresh mushrooms can be added to everyday dishes to provide an extra serving of vegetables and deliver important nutrients, including vitamin D, potassium, selenium, ergothionene and B vitamins.

4. Low in Sodium. Mushrooms are low in sodium, plus their umami counterbalances saltiness and allows for less salt to be used in a dish, without compromising flavor. “Tasting Success with Cutting Salt,” a collaborative report from the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America, recognizes cooking with umami-rich ingredients, like mushrooms, as a way to boost flavor without adding salt.

5. Good Source of Antioxidants and Immunity. Mushrooms are a great source of the antioxidants selenium and ergothioneine which helps strengthen the immune system and protect body cells from damage that might lead to chronic diseases.

6.  High in B Vitamins Mushrooms also provide B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

7. Cancer Prevention Scientists at City of Hope were some of the first to find a potential link between mushrooms and a decreased likelihood of tumor growth and development in cells and animals. The team’s research shows that women may benefit from a balanced diet, which includes about 3 to 5 ounces of mushrooms per day. Pink takes center stage in October as mushrooms are sold in pink packaging in honor of national breast cancer awareness month.

Also here’s some more mushrooms 101

  • To clean mushrooms, simply brush off any dirt with a damp paper towel or fingers. Before using, trim the end of the stem if it’s tough. Never soak mushrooms as they may absorb the moisture.
  • Mushrooms keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. To maximize shelf life, keep mushrooms in original packaging until ready to use. You can freeze sautéed mushrooms for up to one month.

I am partnered with the Mushroom Council, but this post was done independently to share my love for mushrooms and their health benefits. See Mushroom Council for more information about mushrooms and recipes.


5 Health Benefits of Figs

Although dried figs are available year round, there is nothing like the taste and texture of fresh figs. Figs are available from June through September, and some European varieties are available through autumn. Here in Alabama, one of my friends has a fig tree in his back yard. How lucky! Figs are low in calories and contain dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that contribute to health and wellness. Here are the 5 health benefits of figs.

1. Figs can help lower high blood pressure-Figs are high in potassium which helps control blood pressure.

2. Figs can help lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women-Figs have the highest amount of calcium of any fruit, and 100g (3.5 oz) of dried figs contains 16% of the daily recommended amount.

3. Figs can help dibaetics-Figs are high in fiber which can help diabetics lower insulin and blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Figs also are filing and take the edge off appetite.

4. Figs are high in antioxidants-Both fresh and dried figs are an excellent source of phenol antioxidants, which are present in many fruits and vegetables that protect cells from oxidative damage that leads to cancer, heart disease and other diseases.

5. Figs are good for bone health-Figs are high in manganese. Your body relies on manganese to help activate enzymes, the proteins that carry out chemical reactions in your cells. Manganese-dependent enzymes allow for healthy bone development and also help your body break down carbohydrates and proteins from your diet.

6 Kitchen Nutrition Tips

I get emails on the time asking me tips ands questions about nutrition. Here are 6 fun and interesting kitchen nutrition tips for your Wednesday:

1. Toss pink grapefruit and orange segments into smoothies – Mixing this refreshing fruit in a blender breaks down its cell walls, which makes cancer-fighting lycopene more available for your body to absorb. Toss in some spinach too; the vitamin C from the grapefruit (or any citrus fruit) will help you absorb the iron in dark, leafy greens.

2. Tear your lettuce in advance – A study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that cutting romaine and iceberg lettuce a few hours before serving it can double its antioxidant content

3. Dice garlic, then let it rest – Maximize garlic’s powerful medicinal qualities (cancer-fighting compounds, antioxidants, vitamin C) by chopping, mashing, or pressing it and allowing it to sit on the cutting board for 10 minutes before cooking.

4.  Pick dark chocolate over other kinds – Numerous studies have shown that dark chocolate (more than 70 percent cacao) can lower bad cholesterol, decrease blood pressure, and aid in weight loss. In one study, volunteers who ate 3.5 ounces of it every day for a week raised their “good” (HDL) cholesterol by nine percent.

5. Use frozen berries– Frozen fruit and veggies have been shown to be better for you than fresh out-of-season produce, since they are picked and frozen when their nutrition is at their peak. See Easy Home Meals for more information on refrigeration and freezing tips.

6. Cook carrots whole– When carrots are cooked whole, they have 25 percent more falcarinol, a cancer-fighting compound, than carrots that have been chopped beforehand.

Read more: http://www.rd.com/slideshows/secrets-make-food-healthier-without-even-trying/#ixzz2aXcMGoby

Are Frozen Foods Healthy CBS Los Angeles

Last week was so busy! I went to Los Angeles for a national television segment on CBS Los Angeles KCAL talking about frozen foods and the benefits to using them more in your cooking for the NFRA and Easy Home Meals. Read all about the segment and take a few minutes to watch the video here.  It was a blast, and the thank you to the amazing staff at CBS Los Angeles for your wonderful hospitality!  Hope to see you again soon 🙂

Health Benefits of Turmeric: Is it the New Kale?

Turmeric, an culinary spice relative to ginger, is most often used in curries and the source of the yellow color in mustard. Lately turmeric is getting the latest health buzz, being called “the new “kale”. Turmeric is a great source of vitamin B6, essential for maintaining your blood vessels and preventing heart disease. This spice is also a great source of iron, manganese, potassium and fiber. Turmeric has been called a “magical healing substance”.  It contains curcumin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Because inflammation is a contributor to so many diseases, including Alzheimer’s and arthritis, the curcumin in turmeric is a precious find. Here are a few of my favorite health benefits of turmeric.

1. Turmeric and Cancer: Doctors have found that curcumin, the main component in turmeric, can block an enzyme that promotes the growth of head and neck cancer.
2. Turmeric and Arthritis-Recent studies show sufferers should consider turmeric for arthritis as it is a powerful anti-oxidant. Like other antioxidants, turmeric works to destroy free radicals in your body which are responsible for damaging body cells.

3. Turmeric and Alzheimer’a-Studies with turmeric have shown that one of the major turmeric health benefits is helpings to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties might help to prevent or delay the onset  because it’s believed that turmeric blocks the production of IL-2 protein, which is known to destroy the protective sheath found around the nerves.

Carrot, Orange and Turmeric Juice from Yummy Mummy

Spiced Oatmeal Smoothie from Kitchen Konfidence

Creamy Turmeric Tea from Mark’s Daily Apple
Tandoori Shrimp Rolls via My Recipes

10 Easy New Year’s Resolutions

Did you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, how is that going? I have a list of 10 New Year’s Resolutions you can actually stick to.  If you have any other ideas, leave a comment below sending me more ideas! Have a super rest of your week and weekend!

1.    Unplug: Unwind by spending less time on your phone and computer, especially when you’re trying to relax, on vacation or in a social environment. You’ll have more social time, be more relaxed and more productive!

2.    Read more, browse less: Reading is a great source of relaxation and can help you sleep better at night. Pick a time each night to turn off the computer, iPad and smart phone and relax with a good book.

3.    Eat at home more often: Eating at home will help save you money and can help lead to healthier diet. Restaurants offer larger portions than most of us need and typically cook with more oil, fat and salt than you would at home.

4.    Plan meals: Try to plan meals and snacks ahead of time. If you stock your home or office with healthy foods and snacks, you will eat healthier and spend less money!

5.    Take the stairs: Most people join a new gym in January, but by March they stop going! If getting to the gym is difficult, remember to move more throughout the day. Take the stairs, ride your bike or walk wherever and whenever you can!

6.    Be more organized and focused: Write everything down. Keep one notebook with all your daily to-do’s and check them off as you go. This way, your lists are all in one place.

7.    Restock your pantry: If you’re goal is to lose weight, start small! Once a week, replace one junk food favorite with a healthier option. For example, eat an orange instead of a candy bar to satisfy your sweet tooth. Continue substituting healthy options until you eliminate all of the junk food in your diet!

8.    Step out of your comfort zone: Try something new! Mix up your workout schedule, try a new hobby or make that change you’ve been contemplating. Switching up your routine will give you confidence, mental stimulation and even help you meet new friends.

9.    Carve out “Me Time”: Schedule your workouts, a long lunch or a mid-day walk. Penciling in half an hour to an hour of “me time” on your calendar every day is a great stress reliever and important for your body. Start taking care of yourself, even if it’s 10 minutes of quiet meditation. It will be worth it!

10.    Be specific: Think about what resolutions you want to achieve this New Year. Once you have a few in mind, write them down and think through what steps you need to take to achieve them. If you take these measures and have the will, you will be very successful!

How Do We Make Food Decisions? Seductive Nutrition

We hear about “Mindless Eating” often, and I speak about it often during my health and nutrition presentations. I was so glad to find out about Dr. Wansink, an expert in the psychology of food. In his book, “Mindless Eating, Dr. Wansink explores and trys to understand how small changes in people’s everyday food decisions can make a positive difference on their health. He is supportive of Unilever Food Solutions’ “Seductive Nutrition” approach.

What is “Seductive Nutrition”? Dr. Wansink states, “It can speak to the holistic dining experience. Nice dinnerware, soft lighting and a matching tablecloth can help enhance a person’s dining expectations and is something to keep in mind for your next dinner party.” In his research, he found people rated the taste of a brownie much higher when it was served on a nice dinner plate than on a cheap plastic plate. Look how this broccolini  looks more luscious in this photo (above). See health benefits of broccolini and the recipe for Broccolini with Pumpkin Seeds. Dr Wansink now wants to help industry professionals (bloggers, recipe developers, restaurant operators) and their dining patrons learn how quick, easy meal changes – whether dining in a restaurant or at home – can make positive impact on how people eat, and therefore how they live. The group at Unilever Food Solutions recently hosted a “select group of chefs and restaurant operators at the Culinary Institute of America-Greystone (CIA) to highlight their efforts to help people choose delicious, slightly healthier meals when they eat out through “Seductive Nutrition.” Developed by Unilever Food Solutions after the release of a global World Menu Report, “Seductive Nutrition” nudges guests to choose top menu items made slightly healthier through small changes to ingredients and preparation methods, with more enticing menu descriptions.” For example, my recipe for Checkboard Tuna Sandwich is more enticing by its name and its presentation.

Here are a few tips from he suggests on how to seduce diners or readers into making the healthier meal choices:

  • Research from his Cornell Food and Brand Lab, and his book show that we eat first with our eyes and imagination, and then with our stomachs. If we think something is going to taste good, it also tends to.  Knowing this tendency, “Seductive Nutrition” may help make the healthiest of foods not only appear – but also taste – indulgent to your customers.
  • Simple, yet descriptive, words on a menu board can help lead customers to select healthier menu items. Using words like creamy, hot, or spicy on a menu board have been shown to help increase food sales in restaurants by up to 28 percent; and, in his studies, he found it led people to view restaurants as more “trendy and up-to-date.” It’s an easy change to make.  For example, including descriptive adjectives can turn your everyday mashed potatoes into “creamy, whipped mashed potatoes,” and a yogurt parfait into a “silken yogurt parfait.”
  • Incorporating vivid adjectives can trigger people’s meal expectations. In his analysis of more than 1,000 descriptively-named menu items, he found three key ways for foods to be “seductively” named:
  • 1. Geographic Labels: Use words to create an image or illicit the ideology of a geographic area that diners can associate with foods. Examples include Southwestern Tex-Mex Salad; homegrown Iowa Pork Chops; “Real” Carolina Barbeque Sauce; or Country Peach Tart.
  • 2. Nostalgic Labels: Alluding to your customers’ past can trigger happy associations of family, tradition, national origin and a sense of wholesomeness. Use these fond associations to create appealing names, like Old-World Italian Manicotti; Grandma’s Best Banana Cream Pie; or Green Gables Matzo Ball Soup.
  • 3. Sensory Labels: Describing the taste, smell and texture of menu items served can help set customer dining expectations. Dessert chefs accomplish this masterfully; example menu names include Velvet Chocolate Mousse; Silky-Smooth Pumpkin Pie; or Warm Apple Crisp. Sensory labels apply to all meal courses, such as Hearty, Sizzling Steaks; Snappy-fresh Seasonal Carrots; or Garlic butter-infused Chicken Kiev.

For more information on Unilever Food Solutions, the “Seductive Nutrition” approach to menu development and the “Seductive Nutrition” Challenge, please visit www.unileverfoodsolutions.us.

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post as part of a sponsored opportunity from the Mom It Forward blogger network for Unilever Food Solutions. All ideas, images and opinions are my own.


High Antioxidant Superfoods Salad

Since I have been doing a lot of nutrition seminars and speaking engagements lately on superfoods and healthy eating habits, it has been so fun to experiment with various combinations of super healthy ingredients. Last week, I thew together this with this High Antioxidant Superfoods Salad. My newest favorite ingredient is broccoli sprouts, and my kids and I are infatuated with them. They are so healthy and are said to help prevent cancer, reduce inflammation and even help protect against ulcers. This salad is also filled with some of my other super food favorites including berries, pumpkin seeds and colorful greens. If you want a refresher on the health benefits of blackberries, read my post on “Top 10 Health Benefits of Blackberries.”  Feel free to add grilled chicken or shrimp along with your favorite salad dressing, or just simply use balsamic vinegar and oil.

7 Healthy Halloween Tips

Who is ready for Halloween? I did my monthly radio show this week WMJJ Magic 96.5 FM Radio on “Healthy Halloween Eating Tips”, and I mentioned this recipe for Halloween Caramel Corn. It makes a great party, snack or dessert idea just in time for Halloween. I am so excited to have had the opportunity to get Oprah Winfrey’s trainer, Bob Greene to share some of his top healthy Halloween tips. Bob Greene, founder of TheBestLife.comoffers a few helpful hints for having a happy and healthy Halloween, and starting the holiday season off on the right foot. We all need this right?  “The key to enjoying Halloween is to have a plan of action beforehand,” says Greene. Here are his top 7 healthy Halloween tips:

1. Delay candy shopping: If you have bags of candy lying around your home for weeks before the holiday, you will start to dip into them. Stores will have plenty of candy to sell, even the day before Halloween so make this the last thing you do for the holiday

2. Opt for lower calorie treats: When you do shop, consider getting hard candy, such as small lollipops, which have fewer calories than gooey chocolate and caramel treats.

3. Buy your least favorite candy. If there’s a type of sweet you can’t stand, make that your candy of choice for treat-or-treaters. That way, you won’t be tempted to taste.

4. Eat before trick-or-treating: You will need the energy to take your kids around anyway, so you may as well have a healthy meal before heading out. If you’re feeling full, you’ll be less likely to sample all the sweets.

5. Don’t neglect your workouts: It’s fine to enjoy a little candy on Halloween, but don’t forget to sneak in a workout. Try to add an extra 15 minutes to your sweat session to help offset the calorie splurge.

6. Partner with other families: Find other like-minded moms and dads in your neighborhood who want to offer healthier options and make those homes your designated trick-or-treat spots.

7. Go bobbing for apples: Apples are high in fiber, plus they contain quercetin, which has cancer-fighting properties.

About Best Life 

Best Life is a company devoted to helping you become your healthiest. Its popular online weight loss plan, TheBestLife.com, based on Bob Greene’s best-selling The Best Life Diet, is focused on helping individuals create their best life and encouraging them to enjoy it each and every day. Behind all of our advice is the belief that losing weight shouldn’t be about counting calories or deprivation, eating nutritiously shouldn’t require sacrificing taste, and living healthfully shouldn’t be a chore. Rather, living your best life involves making smart choices that fit into your lifestyle. It’s about taking pleasure in eating foods that taste good and are good for you. Ultimately, it’s a way of living that brings more joy and satisfaction to your life.

7 Health Benefits of Apples

Do apples make you skinny? That’s what I have heard from some time. Whether they do or not, apples are in abundance right now, and I love cooking and eating them. My daughter, Leigh, fractured her foot last week at dance (this is the 3rd fracture she has had in a year-ughhh). I told her yesterday, “Maybe you should start eating apples since they are good for bone health”, and it made me think of writing this post on the 7 Health Benefits of Eating Apples:

1. Apples make you feel full (or skinny?)-I heard that apples can make you skinny, but perhaps it’s the fiber in an apple that keeps you feeling full longer. There are about 95 calories in a medium-sized apple, and they take our bodies longer to digest since they are made with complex fiber. One component of an apple’s peel is something called ursolic acid, which was been linked to a lower risk of obesity in a recent study in mice. Also, applesauce is also a great healthy substitute for baked goods. Try substituting it for half of the butter and oil in many dessert pr baked recipes.

2. Apples can lower cholesterol- Apples are one of the top fruits with plenty of pectin, a soluble fiber that reduces cholesterol. Pectin prevents cholesterol from building up in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis and heart disease.

3. Apples are a good memory booster- Apples have quercetin which may protect brain cells, help improve your memory and lower your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.

4. Apples help reduce blood sugar– The polyphenols in apples can influence the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and help achieve normal glucose levels.

5. Apples have anti cancer benefits- Studies have showed that apples can also help protect against colon cancer from a chemical in apples. Another in 2007 also found additional compounds, called triterpenoids, which seem to fight against liver, colon, and breast cancers.

6. Apples can protect bones-Apples contain phloridzin that is said to increase bone density and boron that strengthens bones.

 7. Apples can help reduce and prevent Asthma– Studies link a higher intake of vitamin C with improved asthma. Another study, discovered adults and children who consumed apples or apple juice every day also reduced their risk of asthmatic attacks.
Also studies show that women who eat plenty of apples are less likely to have children with asthma.