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Archive for the ‘FOOD’ Category

Sweet potatoes, a traditional fall favorite, are delicious year-round. This versatile autumn vegetable is a mainstay for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, especially in the southern United States. While its history extends back 5,000 years to warm climates, it is recognized and grown throughout most of the world. It’s believed to have originated along the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and the mouth of the Orinoco River in Venezuela.

100+ Free Sweet Potatoes & Sweet Potato Photos - Pixabay
Sweet Potato Plant stock photos and royalty-free images, vectors and  illustrations | Adobe Stock

Sweet potatoes are not the same as yams or white potatoes. Sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family, and its flowers look similar. True yams, related to the lily family, are starchy, dry tubers grown in Africa. Their bark-like skin is black or brown with white, purple, or reddish flesh. Grocery stores often identify sweet potatoes with deep orange flesh and copper skin (those we most commonly eat) as yams, but they are not.

Unlike sweet potatoes, white or Irish potatoes are members of the nightshade family (eggplant, tomato, capsicum, petunia). They are indigenous to the Andes region of South America and date back to 7,000 to 10,000 BC. The first known potato crop in North America was grown in Londonderry, New Hampshire in 1719, and the potatoes were known as Irish potatoes because the plants were from Ireland.

Sweet potatoes start mostly from cuttings of small pieces of tuber from the sweet potato known as slips. A single potato can produce fifteen or more slips. Plants produce long stems, five to 20 inches, that grow along the ground. This vegetable grows best in temperatures with abundant sunshine and warm nights.

            China leads in the harvest of sweet potatoes, but it will remain popular in the deep south of the US. Traditionally, sweet potatoes in the Southern US are cured to improve storage, flavor, and nutritional value. Potatoes are dug from the ground and left in the field for two to three hours and then stored in relative high humidity at temperatures of 35 to 90o F. for five to fourteen days. Properly cured and stored, sweet potatoes will keep for a year at temperatures of 55o to 60o F. Storing at refrigerated temperatures or below 50o F. will injure the root.

            Sweet potatoes are considered one of the vegetables highest in nutritional content. They are high in complex carbohydrates (starches) and a great source of dietary fiber and vitamin A (beta carotene, carotenoid). Sweet potatoes with darker orange flesh have a higher nutritional value than those with lighter color.

            Sweet potatoes can be cooked in a variety of ways. A great way to retain nutrients and enjoy eating is by baking. As they bake, the high starch level in the potatoes tends to caramelize. Not only are they great to eat straight from the oven, but they can also be refrigerated or frozen and used later in preparing other recipes. To bake these simple tasty vegetables, wash potatoes, spray with cooking spray and rub into the outer skin.  Place on a large baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Space potatoes so they do not overlap or pile on top of each other. Bake at 325o F. in a preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes, depending on size of potatoes. Make sure they are barely soft when squeezed lightly. Overcooking will cause potatoes to dry out and lose flavor. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat later. While sweet potatoes have a higher calorie count than many vegetables, and I choose to eat them plain, many prefer to slit the potato down the center and add brown sugar and butter.

While fall and winter holidays find sweet potato casseroles as a must for dinners, their goodness extends year-round. Below is a sweet potato bread recipe I acquired from my sister-in-law. This is just one more way to enjoy this healthful and delectable vegetable.

SWEET POTATO BREAD

3 1/3                cups sifted all-purpose flour

1                      teaspoon cinnamon

2 2/3                cups sugar

2/3                   cup vegetable oil

4                      eggs

1 ½                  cups sweet potatoes, mashed

2/3                   cup water

2                      cups raisins

2                      cups pecans, chopped

Combine flour and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, oil, and sweet potatoes. Beat in 1 egg at a time. Dredge raisins and nuts in 1/3 cup flour. Add water and flour alternately to potato mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Spray loaf pans with cooking spray. Fill half full of mixture. Bake at 325o F. for 1 hour or until bread pulls away from side of pan.

Note: I cut the raisins and nuts to one cup each. It’s your choice.

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Every five years since 1980, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in conjunction with the Health and Human Services (HHS) revises the recommended dietary guidelines for Americans. The new committee, made up of physicians, dietitians, scientists, and other medical professionals, has pored through current research in nutrition to develop undated guidelines. What changes can we expect from those previously published?

According to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, more than half the people in the US have one or more a preventable chronic disease. Many of these conditions relate to unhealthy dietary practices. Therefore, a major goal of the committee is to summarize and synthesize scientific evidence to reduce risks “of chronic disease while meeting nutrient requirement and promoting health for all Americans.”

ExRx.net : Dietary Guidelines

The committee amplified or expanded the five principles from the 2015-2020 guidelines with more emphasis on pregnant women, infants, and toddlers. Below are the current guidelines with a few suggested changes.

1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.

The committed suggests revised guidelines include dietary patterns for each life stage by incorporating, following, and modifying the pattern for different life stages for specific nutritional needs.

The committee recognizes three acceptable dietary patterns that share core components but allow for key differences to tailor for individual preferences: Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern, and Healthy Vegetarian. These three patterns all 1) obtain most of needed energy from plant-based foods, 2) provide protein and fats from nutrient-rich food sources, and 3) limit intakes of added sugars, solid fats, and sodium. All use the 2,000-kcal level as a reference for serving size and nutrient content.

The USDA Food Pattern includes five major food groups, and in some cases, subgroups.

MyPlate Graphic Resources | ChooseMyPlate
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables: Dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy, and other
  • Dairy, including calcium-fortified soy beverages
  • Grains: Whole grains and refined grains
  • Protein Foods: Meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; nuts, seeds, and soy products
Mediterranean Cuisine Mediterranean Diet Health PNG, Clipart, Baked Goods,  Birthday Cake, Cake, Cake Decorating, Carbohydrate Free

The Mediterranean diet includes more fruits and protein foods than the Healthy U. S.-Style Pattern. It also includes more omega-3 fatty acids because of emphasis on seafood and contains less sodium. However, the Mediterranean diet is lower in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A primarily because it includes two cup-equivalents of dairy instead of the three cup-equivalents in the U. S.-Style Pattern.

2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.

 The proposed guidelines focus on breastfeeding and human milk for optimal nutrition for infants. For all ages, the authors reiterate variety, portion size, and frequency of eating based on nutritional quality of food choices,

3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.

The committee recommends limiting foods and beverages that are sources of added sugars, saturated fats, salt, and alcohol to reduce excessive calories and replace those food components with more healthful choices. For alcoholic beverages, they state “current evidence indicates that lower intakes are better than higher intakes and some groups should not drink alcoholic beverages.”

4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.

The consumer’s take-home message from the guidelines is that it is never too late to start improving their dietary pattern. That begins with recognizing which foods and beverages to modify or exchange. Changes should include a shift in the dietary pattern to foods and beverages with higher nutrient-to-energy ratios.

5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.

The committee advocates food accessibility for all Americans while considering cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic factors that influence food preferences and support healthful eating patterns for all ages.

Although the information included in this blog is core to the revisions, the committee, in 835 pages, expounds on the many issues considered in adapting the 2020-2025 guidelines for healthier Americans. These recommendations were open for public response and can be accessed online. While many will choose to ignore suggestions, the prudent will take note to make needed changes in their diets to live a healthier— and thereby— longer life.

Nutrition In The Go | Healthy living, Free clip art, Clip art

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What is milk? The answer seems a no-brainer until we consider all the products on the market today labeled milk. In the past decade or so, the definition seems to have blurred. With plant beverages emulating traditional dairy products, identity has become confusing.

Black and white cow eating green meadow grass | Premium Photo

The standard government identity of milk from animal sources has become embroiled in controversy. Younger generations express concern over cow milk’s carbon footprints on the environment, and thus the push for more plant-based foods in the diet. Heavy advertising and support from organizations like the Plant Based Food Organization (PBFO) have changed the landscape for consumption of cow’s milk. However, the PBFO identifies the Certified Plant Based seal this way. “The most important thing to understand is that for PBFA, “plant-based” means 100% free from animal ingredients. We make no exceptions to this rule.” Evidently, they don’t feel the same toward animal milk.

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Standard of Identity protects most products on the market. The FDA defines “milk” as “the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.” According to this standard, “milk” must come from animal origin. Why have standards for cow’s milk become compromised by using the term “milk” to describe plant-based alternatives? “Plant-based products that resemble dairy foods, such as milk, cultured milk, yogurt, and cheese do not have standards of identity.” These products, therefore, are non-standardized foods.

Animal milk sales have plummeted because of mistaken assumptions that plants are healthier. By 2018, sales of cow’s milk dropped six percent while plant-based sales increased nine percent. Many professionals in the field of nutrition are alarmed as households choose more expensive plant milks without understanding all the nuances behind its popularity and its missing health properties. How different are animal milks and plant-based alternatives?

Market research in 2018 showed that consumers believed animal and plant milks were comparable in nutrients. Seventy-seven percent of respondents thought plant sources had the same or more protein. Cow’s milk typically has about nine grams of protein per cup compared to one gram in eight ounces of almond milk. All forms of cow’s milk contain comparable major nutrients but vary in fat content.

Milk is a significant source of vitamins and minerals including riboflavin, niacin, vitamins A and D, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and others. All cow’s milk must be fortified with 400 I. U. per quart for vitamin D and 2,000 I. U. per quart for vitamin A. Even whole milk with some natural vitamins A and D must be fortified to these standards.

As consumers see more and more non-dairy milk alternatives on the market such as almond, coconut, oat, pea, hemp, and other plant “milks,” how can they become more informed about nutritional content? Here is how the top three plant-based milks fare.

Soy Milk, Spilt Milk? FDA's Next Free Speech Conundrum - Food and ...
  • Soy milk is closer in nutritional content than most plant-based sources. It originated thousands of years ago in Asia. On the US market since the early 1900s, it is a viable alternative to those with allergies or sensitivities to cow’s milk. Made with ground soybeans and water, it is often fortified with B-vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D. Soy milk is a good source of protein, but not the quality protein found in cow’s milk.
  • Almond milk contains few almonds, sometimes no more than the equivalent of three to four whole almonds. The nuts are ground and added to water. Drinks may contain some vitamin E and are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Whereas cow’s milk never has sugar added, this drink often does plus possibly other additives. In 2014, before the recent alternative milk craze, Tom Philpott in “Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters” wrote “The almond-milk industry is selling you a jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds.” He continued by comparing the typical one-ounce serving of almonds with an eight-ounce serving of one brand of almond milk. Whereas the almond serving contained six grams of protein, three grams of fiber, and 12 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, an eight-ounce serving of almond milk had one gram each of protein and fiber and five grams of fat. Maybe we would be better off to eat a handful of almonds and drink a glass of water. It’s much less expensive.
Got Milk Decision Fatigue? The Pain and Politics of Soy, Almond ...
  • Coconut milk on the dairy aisle is not the same as coconut milk found in cans. The drink is watered down to match the consistency of dairy milk. Protein content is negligible, but added nutrients may include calcium and vitamin D, and some may have B12.

While legislation is pending on Capitol Hill and the FDA investigates the issue, the Federal Register lists several questions regarding the identity of cow’s milk and plant-based products. Below are samplings of questions.

  • What do consumers understand about the basic nature and characteristics of plant-based products? Do they perceive them as comparable in meeting Dietary Guidelines for Americans? 1
  • Are consumers more prone to purchase plant-based products that use the term “milk” than if they are referred to as beverages or drinks? Do consumers assume that products placed in the dairy section alongside dairy products are comparable?
  • Why do consumers without cow’s milk sensitivity buy plant-based milks? Do they perceive plant-based products as healthier? Do consumers believe they are more nutritious, or equal to dairy counterparts?
  • Do consumers believe properties of plant-based “milks” perform in the same manner as dairy when used in food preparation?
  • Do consumers understand or know the many added ingredients in plant-based “milks” such as added emulsifiers, nutrients, sweeteners, and thickeners? Are they aware that contents vary according to the different plant source? Non-dairy milks have no federal standards and may contain as much as ten different added ingredients including salt and sugar plus stabilizers and emulsifiers like locust bean gum, lecithin, and other gums.

So, how do you define “milk?” Should plant-based alternatives use the term milk in their products? What is your response to other questions posed in the Federal Register?

Today’s, consumers don’t always know what they are eating. Food labels help, but remember as you make food selections, they don’t always tell us everything. Choose reliable sources for your nutrition information. For starters, try those listed on my website http://www.cindryn.com. Keep dairy products in your diet for healthier eating.

         

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All Milk Is Antibiotic Free! - The Farmer's Daughter USA

June is National Dairy Month. After a campaign by grocers in 1937 to promote use of milk during summer months, June became the official “dairy month.” The Dairy Alliance, a nonprofit organization in the Southeast, works with dairy farmers and community and public groups to promote their industry, especially during the month of June. The dairy alliance points out that:

  • The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reinforces the importance of dairy products in the diet.
  • Dairy foods contain nine essential nutrients, including three of the four nutrients typically lacking in the American diet: calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.
  • Nutrients in dairy products provide combinations of nutrients, key in reducing risks of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
  • Cow’s milk has more potassium and almost twice as much protein as found in alternative milks. Whether skim, reduced fat, whole, organic, or inorganic, dairy contains the same amount of protein, about 1 gram per ounce (or 8 grams in 8-ounce servings). Coconut and rice milks have the lowest amount of protein among plant beverages with 0 grams, while almond has 1 gram and soy 7 grams.
  •  Most beverages made from alternative plant sources cost more and have about half the nutrients of cow’s milk.
  • Lactose is a sugar found only in milk. Lactose-reduced and lactose-free milks are available for the lactose intolerant.

The amount of fat in cow’s milk depends on whether it is skim (with minimal fat), whole (full-fat content), or somewhere in between. Coconut milk, with 4.5 grams per serving of mostly saturated fat, has the highest fat content, and soy milk contains about 4 grams per serving. Cow’s milk with one percent fat, or 2.5 grams per 8-ounce serving, has about the same amount of fat as almond and rice beverages. Research confirms that saturated fat is less healthy than unsaturated fats whether from animal or plant sources.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) belabors the issue of how to label and what to call plant-based alternative milks, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) believes consumers know what they are drinking. In a 2018 survey, at least 75 percent of consumers recognized whole milk, chocolate milk, non-fat, and skim milk (90%, 85%, 78%, 74% respectively) contain cow’s milk. But less than one-half understood that lactose-free milk is also from cow’s milk.

Nearly three-quarters of participants understood that plant-based “milks” do not contain any cow’s milk. Of those who bought milk, sixty-two percent purchased only diary milk while thirty-eight percent chose to purchase non-dairy milk. Consumers more likely to purchase plant alternatives lived in the western US (45%), were under forty-five years of age (43%), were people of color (48%), and were college educated (44%).

Controversy continues over naming these non-dairy products and whether they are as wholesome in the diet as cow’s milk. The FDA extended the time for consumer’s responses to these issues. Check part 2 of this topic for greater insight into what choices are best for you and your family.

Recipes to Celebrate National Dairy Month | Atkins

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September is National Mushroom Month. Many recipes I prepare call for mushrooms. But rarely do I think to include them in favorites that don’t list them among the recipe ingredients. That’s a mistake. Mushrooms are beneficial in many ways and can be a part of any healthy diet.

In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, rats fed a high-fat diet showed fewer signs of atherosclerosis when researchers added portabella and shiitake mushrooms. Future studies may determine if the effect proves true in humans.

Mushrooms contain the minerals, selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and phosphorus. Some reasons to include them in the diet are because they 1) have high concentrations of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione which protect cells, 2) may have some preventive effect on the neurological diseases Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, 3) may boost memory and reduce mild cognitive decline, 4) improve heart health by substituting for portions of red meats, 5) strengthen bones by converting ergosterol into vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight, and 6) increase energy because of rich amounts of B-vitamins which help cells convert glucose into energy.

Benefits may go beyond these assets. Mushrooms can be used freely in many dishes because of texture and flavor. But they are so much more because they are:

  • low in calories
  • fat-free and therefore cholesterol-free
  • gluten-free
  • low in sodium

Related image

Mushrooms are fungi, but their characteristic nutrient content qualifies them to be categorized along with vegetables. The Mushroom Council states that they are wholesome, enjoyable foods that can help fill a void when we fail to eat enough vegetables.

Proponents of including mushrooms in the next Dietary Guidelines for Americans point out advantages because of their properties. These advocates support the concept of “The Blend,” the addition of mushrooms to dishes such as hamburger. Mushrooms enhance flavors due to their distinctive natural unami, and they create a more nutritious product. Such mixtures lower dietary fat and adds vegetable equivalents to the diet, especially significant for school children. Mushrooms can be a healthy asset and improve flavor in sauces, egg dishes (scrambled, omelets, quiche), salads, and meat mixtures (meatloaf, chili, burgers, etc.).

While mushrooms supply numerous nutrients for a healthy body, they are not a panacea. Studies on animals and insects look promising, but it is not a given those results will work in humans. Enjoy them for what they are ─ a delightful food to add for a healthy and tasty diet.

 

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No one wants dirty foods. Before we shy away, what are dirty foods? A little dirt can be washed off, but dirty foods encompass much more. Recently I discussed how kale landed on 2019’s “Dirty Dozen” list. What is that list, and should we have concerns? Should these foods be eliminated from our diets?

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization focused on health and transparency in consumer product labeling, releases lists of the most and least pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. These are referred to as EWG’s Dirty Dozen for 2019 and EWG’s Clean Fifteen for 2019.

EWG’s Dirty Dozen for 2019 include the following, in order: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes. Some produce may come as a surprise. Most of these fruits and vegetables had residue of two or more pesticides. Kale and spinach averaged 1.1 to 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than other crops.

Red Strawberries

So which fruits and vegetables are safer when it come to pesticide content? The EWG’s Clean Fifteen for 2019 include avocados at the headAssorted Vegetable Lot of the list followed by sweet corn. Less than one percent of these two products had any detectable pesticides. More than 70 percent of the remaining list; pineapples, frozen sweet peas, onions, papayas, eggplants, asparagus, kiwis, cabbages, cauliflower, cantaloupes, broccoli, mushrooms, and honeydew melons had no pesticide residues. View the entire listing of both lists at the EWG’s website.

 Farmer spraying pesticide

Does this mean to avoid foods listed on the dirty list? Fruits and vegetables are significant contributions to the diet. It would be a mistake, health wise, to discontinue these foods. For instance, strawberries are low in calories yet have high levels of flavonoid phytochemicals that can deter onset of cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases. Strawberries are also excellent sources of vitamin C plus A, E, and B-complex vitamins which have powerful antioxidants.

The modified list below from MedlinePlus summarizes how to protect yourself and family from pesticides on fruits and vegetables.

  • Wash hands with soap and water before preparing food.
  • Wash produce when ready for use. Washing before storing degrades the quality of most fruits and vegetables.
  • Wash produce even those for peeling since chemicals or bacteria may transfer to the inside when peeled or cut.
  • Rinse all produce under cool running water for at least 30 seconds.
  • Buy a produce wash product or use a solution of one teaspoon of baking soda in two cups of water. Avoid washing foods with dish soaps or detergents that can leave inedible residues.
  • Pat produce dry with a clean towel after washing.
  • Discard outer leaves of leafy vegetables such as lettuce. Rinse and eat the inner part.
  • Eat organic sources of foods grown with approved organic pesticides, especially for those fruits with thin-skins. Eating more organic foods may lower risks of cancer compared with individuals who do not eat organic foods.

These guidelines can help reduce exposure to pesticides yet allow continued enjoyment and healthful benefits from susceptible “dirty foods.” When you weigh the odds, the nutrients these foods contain may outweigh harm if you follow precaution in using. Eat well, eat healthy.

 

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Image result for menus with calories

What do you think about requirements for restaurants to show calorie counts on their menus? Do you use them?

As of May 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stipulated restaurant chains with 20 or more locations must serve essentially the same menu items with calorie counts and do business under the same name. Written nutrition information stating total carbohydrates, added sugars, fiber, and protein must be available for those who request it.

Before requirements were initiated, I often drove through Wendy’s drive-thru for their Frosty when shopping or running errands. Their refreshing drink perked me up. When I noticed the calorie count on the menu board, I was shocked. Now I love Frosty, but it’s no friend to maintaining a healthy weight. It had to go. It wasn’t easy to stop this delightful treat, but it was better than the extra exercise needed to get rid of added weight.

Image result for menus with calories

Americans consume about one-third of their daily calorie intake from food and beverages consumed away from home. These items contain more calories, sodium, and saturated fats than most home-prepared foods. The average person who eats one meal away from home each week will gain about two extra pounds over the course of a year. To abate the problem of extra calories when eating out, consider these three suggestions adapted from FDA.

  • Know your calorie needs. While 2,000 calories a day serves as a guide, needs vary according to sex, age, and physical activity. See the Estimated Calorie Needs Table to determine your needs.
  • Check calorie and nutrition information of menu items. Find information on menus or menu boards next to the name or price of the item. Deli counters, bulk food items in grocery stores, food trucks, airplanes/trains, and school lunches are not required to list calorie counts. Foods with two options or with a side will be listed with a slash―200/300. Multiple food items of three or more choices or different flavors (think ice cream) will be shown as a range of calories―200-300 calories.
  • Choose what is best for you.
    • When you choose an entrée, check the available sides and choose those with fewer calories.
    • If servings are more than you usually eat or want, don’t hesitate to ask for a to-go box.
    • Order salad dressings, gravy, and cream sauces on the side to limit what you consume.
    • Choose foods that are baked, roasted, steamed, grilled, or broiled.
    • Avoid those described as creamy, fried, breaded, battered, or buttered.
    • Try water with lemon for a refreshing beverage with your meal and avoid or limit sweetened beverages.

Eating out should be a pleasant event, not a time of restricting your diet and enjoyment. These simple guidelines will help you choose wisely while enjoying your dining experience.

Image result for menus with calories

Share your thoughts with other readers about inclusion of calorie counts on menus and menu boards.

 

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Nutrition information seems ubiquitous, but is it reliable? Who can we trust? March is National Nutrition Month® (NMM). The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, promotes NMM as the valuable and creditable source of scientifically-based food information. The Academy recognizes its 100,000 plus members each year and celebrates Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day on the second Wednesday of March. This year, March 13, 2019. 

The Academy’s mission is to promote optimal nutrition and well-being for all people. As nutrition experts, RDNs assist Americans as well as people everywhere translate scientific knowledge into practical application for healthy eating. RDNs individualize information to help each person make positive lifestyle changes. 

To improve your nutritional status and choice of healthy foods, see the “19 Health Tips for 2019” from the Academy. If you are a crossword fan, check out this puzzle. Then test your knowledge with the NNM 2019 quiz “Fact or Fiction?” Celebrate this month with healthier eating and make it a lifetime habit. 

 

 

 

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Greetings faithful readers. 

Image result for Free Clip Art Religious Christmas Greeting

Christmas evokes traditions, memories, gifts, and much more. It’s the time of year when foods play a major role in our celebrations. Instead of more information to close out this holiday season, I refer you to a few previous Christmas posts from my blog.

While these food or food-related posts are important snippets of information, let’s not forget the most important aspects of this Holy Holiday.

For those who have forgotten or never knew, Christmas is the observance of the birth of Jesus Christ. In his brief ministry of about three years, Jesus declared many truths about himself. In John 6:48, he refers to himself as the “bread of life.” Indeed, he is. While residents of this world, the foods we eat feed our earthly bodies. Jesus alone is the bread of life for eternity. He proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to [God] except through me” (John 14:6).

Enjoy the holiday and all it has come to represent but don’t forget that Jesus is the real reason for this season. God bless.

Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

 

See the source image

 

 

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June is National Dairy Month. In recent years, cow’s milk has taken a bad rap for several reasons. A few individuals have food sensitivities and more readily tolerate milk from other animal sources. Some people prefer omitting any meat or meat-related products and opt for plant-based forms of milk such as coconut, soy, or almond. These milks lack many of the nutritional values of animal milk and often have added sugars and other substances. (See my blog, “Milk―It’s Your Choice”)

Woman Drinking Milk

Cow’s milk, which most of us drink, is available in four forms: Whole milk has 3.5 percent fat. In an eight-ounce serving, it has 8 grams of fat and 150 calories. Reduced fat milk has 2 percent fat plus 5 grams of fat and 120 calories per eight ounces. Low fat milk contains one percent fat with 2.5 grams of fat and 100 calories per eight-ounce serving. Fat free (skim) milk has no fat and provides 80 calories per eight-ounce serving.

All forms of cow’s milk contain major nutrients but vary in fat content. Each eight-ounce serving of milk provides eight grams of protein. Milk is a significant source of vitamins and minerals including riboflavin, niacin, vitamins A and D, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and others.

Vitamins A and D are found only in the cream (fat) of whole milk. All other cow’s milk must be fortified with 400 I. U. per quart for vitamin D and 2,000 I. U. per quart for vitamin A. Even whole milk with less than the required amount must be fortified to these standards.

A student once asked, “Is skim milk made from whole milk that has been watered down?”  While I stifled a smile, the student was serious. In recent years, I have learned she is not the only one with that misconception. How would you have answered her question?

Milk Terms to Know:

  • Organic: Organic milk is produced from cows without any exposed to hormones or antibiotics. Today, very little milk has these two substances. More recently, guidelines for organic milk require a certain amount of free-range time for cows.
  • Lactose-Free: Some individuals are sensitive to lactose. The lactose-free form is real cow’s milk with the natural sugar (lactose) broken down for easier digestion. Lactose-free milk has the same nutrients and standards of other forms of  milk.
  • Flavored: While chocolate is the best-known flavored milk, it is also available in other flavors and has the same nutritional qualities of unflavored milk. Lower fat choices are available, but most will have added sugar.
  • Raw: The raw form comes straight from the cow without any processing. Federal law prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk across state lines. For health reasons, raw milk is not recommended.

Benefits of Milk:

A few studies have indicated adverse effects from drinking cow’s milk, but the benefits more than outweigh any harm. Milk provides nearly one-third of the daily requirement of calcium. It works conjointly with other nutrients, especially vitamin D, in the development of bones and teeth in children. While significant throughout the life cycle, it is particularly important in aging as a deterrent of osteoporosis and other bone conditions more common to those over age 50. The body also needs calcium and vitamin D for several other functions.

Milk is a major source of protein. The higher quality protein in milk may benefit weight management because it helps to maintain lean body mass. Muscle, as opposed to fat, assists in burning more calories. In addition, higher quality protein increases satiety, reduces hunger, and fits into appropriate weight-loss plans.

What can be more refreshing than a tall glass of cold milk? Well, for me, that may be a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Whatever your choice, milk is a healthy option in any eating plan. During National Dairy Month, enjoy more milk in your diet. It’s good for you.
Cows grazing on a green field.

 

 

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