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Archive for June, 2011

Shortly after the deadly foodborne illness outbreak in Europe, I attended a catered lunch at a conference. As I bit into my sandwich, I detected the distinct crunch and flavor of sprouts. Was this sandwich safe?

News was abuzz about the European outbreak—and rightfully so. Researchers attributed the cause of death for more than forty people to Escherichia coli (E.coli) in bean sprouts. The bacteria infected at least four U.S. travelers to Germany and caused the death of an elderly Arizona man.

E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks occur more often throughout the world than you may think. Many cases go undiagnosed because symptoms mimic other health problems. Typical signs include fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Symptoms may occur twelve to seventy-two hours after ingestion of the tainted food and last from four to seven days. If the bacteria spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and other body sites, death can result unless promptly and appropriately treated. Those most susceptible are seniors, young children, and individuals with compromised immune systems.

Why are sprouts the culprit? Sprouts grow in a warm, humid environment, the same ideal conditions needed for bacterial growth. Unlike other raw fruits and vegetables, washing sprouts before eating may not help. Bacteria can cling to the surface of sprout seeds and grow inside the sprouts as well as outside.

Should you eat sprouts? Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established guidelines for suppliers of sprouts, safety is not guaranteed, and they remain potentially hazardous. In 2009 and earlier years, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended consumers avoid raw sprouts. Consuming organically grown sprouts is even more risky. Researchers linked the contaminated sprouts in Europe to an organic farm in Germany. To elude this foodborne illness stay away from uncooked sprouts. Better yet, choose other healthy foods with less contamination risk.

 Reference: CDC Median Relations:
Sprouts: Not a Healthy Food for Everyone. http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/r990809.htm

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Can Healthy Food Taste Good?

As I placed my prepared dishes on the table for a pre-meeting brunch, I commented to a couple of members close by, “These are healthy.”

“Yuk,” replied a friend who has diabetes and struggles to lose weight, “then they can’t be good.”

I probed, “Why do you say that? I don’t think you can tell the difference in the banana-nut bread.  You might actually like the other dish, too.”

He replied, “When anyone says healthy, I think of broccoli.”

In the bread recipe—a family favorite—I replaced the oil in the list of ingredients with applesauce. Although
relatively high in sugar, the overall product is fat-free and has fewer calories than the original recipe.

My other contribution that day consisted of a mixture of yogurt, almonds, oatmeal, and fruit. While the texture turns off some people, my friend tried it and insisted it was good. I noticed he later went back for seconds on that “healthy” banana-nut bread.

Where do people get this idea that if it’s healthy it must not taste good? If you are one of those, be courageous
like my friend, give healthier foods a try. You, too, may be surprised.

For my version of banana-nut bread,see the recipe below. It’s great for breakfast or snack, especially when served warm with a glass of ice-cold low-fat milk.

I can’t wait to share with my friend my zucchini-nut bread. I think he’ll like that too. Yum!

BANANA NUT BREAD

2                 cups flour

2                 teaspoons baking powder

1/2              teaspoon baking soda

1/4              teaspoon salt

1                 cup sugar

1/2              cup applesauce

2                 eggs

1                 cup mashed banana (about 3 very ripe bananas)

1                 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4              cup pecans, chopped

Sift dry ingredients together. Combine applesauce, sugar, eggs, and half the bananas. Beat about two minutes at medium speed.  Add remaining bananas and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Fold in flour mixture and nuts. Pour batter into a 5” X 7” X 3” loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350o F. for 1 hour.

 

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It’s here! The pyramid is history. Look at the new icon for healthy eating, ‘My Plate,’ and make your plate look like the new symbol. Introduced today, June 2, 2011, several dietitians report the new symbol as reminiscent of the old Basic 4. For the younger generation, that model preceded the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the pyramid.

 ‘My Plate’ promises to be user-friendly. It’s simple, straight forward, and easily interpreted. Its website, www.choosemyplate.com, provides reliable links to other related sites and reiterates the message of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Those points incorporate the following:
  • Balancing Calories. Enjoy your food, but eat less. That means watching portion size.
  • Foods to Increase. Increase nutrient-dense foods by filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits and at least half of the grains (breads, cereal, pasta) from whole grain sources. A switch from whole milk to low-fat milk will reduce fat and calories.
  • Foods to Reduce. Reduce dietary salt by checking labels, especially of soups and frozen meals. Drink water instead of sugary drinks to avoid increased sugar and calories.

For more details, check out the website and try using the new icon to improve choices and portion sizes on your plate.

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Just when you thought you understood the food pyramid, a new symbol waits in the wings to take a bow on Thursday, June 2, 2011. The 2005 MyPyramid, revised from the original Food Guide Pyramid released in1992, spawned criticism from dietitians who found it confusing and difficult for consumers to understand. The new concept will focus on a familiar icon—a circular plate. Four brightly colored sections will symbolize food areas of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. A smaller circle next to the plate will represent the milk group.

The symbol culminates work of an overall plan from the 2010 White House Child Obesity Task Force designed to equip consumers with reliable information to make healthy food choices. Potentially, the new icon will give a quick and easy way to compare a real plate of food to the image without measuring for portion size or counting calories. The icon content will complement the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 released in January 2011. Many dietitians and others involved with food/nutrition issues will embrace the change.

Get ready for exciting transformations in nutrition education. It’s time to bury the ancient pyramid and welcome a useful guide to help everyone make wiser food choices. Check back here for details.    

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