How to Indulge without the Bulge


    Slim and Trim Tips for Keeping Your Holiday Sparkle

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    ‘Tis the season for holiday office parties, festive dinners, cocktail gatherings and sweet temptations just about everywhere you look. Welcome to the dreaded holiday weight gain season. Or is it?

    For years, it was popular knowledge that folks gained between five and seven pounds during the holidays as they swilled eggnog and piled plates high at party buffets. But, the truth is most folks don’t gain that much.

    A study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that most people gain only one pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. But before you grab another sugar cookie grab this – if you don’t lose it in the New Year -one pound a year over ten holidays equals ten unwanted pounds no matter how you do the math.

    So here are some tips to help avoid holiday weight gain:

    Party Time

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    -Try to eat regular meals and snacks so that you are not famished when you arrive at a holiday party and might tend to overeat

    -Remember that holiday gatherings are for enjoying time with family and friends; make that the focus not the food

    -Don’t deprive yourself of holiday food favorites; you may crave them even more

    -Practice portion control; take small portions of high calorie favorites and savor them

    -If you overeat one day; try to cut back the next. It’s about balance over a span of days.

    -Fill your plate with a balanced selection of foods from the buffet; make a meal instead of mindlessly eating

     Naughty and Nice Foods

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    -Know what you’re getting into; did you know eggnog has 360 calories per cup?

    -Healthy holiday favorites include: boiled shrimp, turkey, roast beef, sweet potatoes, winter squash, steamed green beans, and fresh fruit salads.

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    Holiday Recipes on WGN Midday Fix

    -Deck the halls with boughs of holly but accessorize foods with care. Adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravies, whipped cream, or syrups adds extra calories.

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    Liquid Calories were involved!

    -Liquid calories can add up quickly as you enjoy holiday libations. Champagne and dry rose wines are among the lowest in calories per glass; sweet and creamy drinks such as spiked eggnog or chocolate martinis among the highest.

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    More tips on holiday healthy in this video from Fox 5 Good Day Atlanta

     Holiday Hustle

    -Take advantage of every calorie burning opportunity during the busy holiday season; climb the stairs instead of taking the escalator or elevator and park further away at shopping centers.

    -Remember that exercise helps fight stress; take a walk for vanity and sanity!

    -Holiday lists aren’t just for gifts! A study from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research found that those who kept daily food and physical activity records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. Researchers say the process of seriously reflecting on what you eat and how much helps dieters become more aware of habits and face the facts. It also puts the brakes on mindless munching such as grabbing an extra handful of chips at a holiday party or snacking on bits of brownies when food diaries demand an honest record of every bite.


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    Energize with Healthy Gifts – If the demand of buying last minute holiday gifts is dragging you down here are a few bright ideas in the healthy living category.  

    • Salad spinner- create a gift basket with olive oils, mustards and vinegars.
    • Slow cooker- one of the best ways to tenderize tasty cuts of lean meat in stews packed with tasty vegetables.
    • Microplane grater – for zesting citrus, grating whole spices to add flavor without calories
    • Specialty spices – more expensive spices like cardamom, vanilla, saffron, smoked paprika and curry powders are elegant gifts to add flavor and healthy antioxidants with no calories.
    • Immersion blender – make rich and creamy textured soups and sauces from cooked vegetables without the need for much or any cream.
    • Fitness bands – one of the hottest healthy gifts this year. Wearable digital fitness bands keep track of activity, food intake, and sleep patterns.
    • Fresh herb garden kits – a great way to get fresh, seasonal taste in foods with little containers of fresh herbs that can start to sprout now on winter windowsills.

     

     

     

     

     

      Happy Healthy Thanksgiving!

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        Whether you’re doing the cooking at home, taking a dish to a gathering or making restaurant reservations for Thanksgiving dinner Atlanta area chefs offer some inventive ideas to add a deliciously healthy twist to menu traditions.
        While Thanksgiving is not a day for dieting, it’s certainly smart to up the flavor appeal of holiday favorites with creative recipes that help keep the calories down. That way you have room for a bigger slice of pumpkin pie. Yes, you can indulge without the bulge.

        Here’s the How to Indulge without the Bulge segment for #HealthyThanksgiving I did for WGN TV with Chicago food stylist Connie Pikulas.

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        Enjoy Winter Salads

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        Look at these beautiful Brussels sprouts!

        The very first Thanksgiving’s mission was to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Chefs turn to the season’s harvest for culinary inspiration. Salads are often overlooked in the parade of roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.
        At newly opened Paces & Vine, chef Ian Winslade’s Tuscan kale salad with mandarin orange dressing, crystalized ginger and local radishes, is a great winter produce idea. The Thanksgiving to-go menu at Murphy’s, also under Winslade’s direction, features a winter salad of mixed greens, pears and walnuts as well as butternut squash soup with the flavors of apple and ginger cream.
        Sweet New Ideas
        What Thanksgiving spread would be complete without sweet potatoes? Sweet potatoes are rich in healthy fiber, potassium and beta-carotene. Chef Carvel Gould suggests roasting sweet potato wedges and tossing them together with parsnips and rutabaga wedges cooked in a non stick pan with some garlic and shallots for about four minutes until their tender but still have some texture.

        Chefs at Seasons 52 restaurants, who specialize in creating just-as-tasty but lighter, lower calorie dishes are serving maple-glazed roasted butternut squash with their Thanksgiving menu this year.

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        Modern Family Menus
        From the head of the table to the kids’ table, there are bound to be a few folks at Thanksgiving gatherings this year who have unique diet needs including a nut allergy, a gluten intolerance or are vegetarian or vegan. No doubt whoever’s cooking the meal will feel a bit challenged. Sous chef Cooper Miller of JCT Kitchen says, “We are used to special diet requests so we create a bunch of sides that anyone can enjoy without nuts, bacon or breadcrumbs. Then we throw in a few dishes loaded with all of those ingredients for those who want to splurge.” An easy idea for home entertaining: create a condiment platter of ingredients so each guest can customize their plates depending on allergies or food preferences.

        Everybody’s happy on Thanksgiving.

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        How Not to Get Over Stuffed on Thanksgiving

        • Fill your plate with your personal holiday favorites first. Don’t waste your calories on foods you can eat all year long.
        • Turkey and all the trimmings may be the draw, but remember the main event should be sharing time with family and friends.
        • Start a new tradition by taking a walk with family and friends after the big meal and serving dessert after the stroll. You’ll feel better and dessert will taste even better.
        • Give thanks that even dietitians believe Thanksgiving is not a day to diet. You may not lose any pounds over the holidays, but if you maintain your weight you’re doing great.

          Dietitians Dish on What’s New in Nutrition

            Did you know were supposed to be feeding the friendly bacteria

            that naturally live in your gut?

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            That’s just one of the hot topics in nutrition research presented to registered dietitians gathered in Atlanta for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2014 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE).

            “Increasing the intake of foods such as yogurt and kefir with live and active cultures and fermented foods including sauerkraut or kimchi helps add more good bugs to our digestive tracts,” explained Jennifer McDaniel, an Academy spokesperson and private practice dietitian in St. Louis, Missouri. Studies presented at the conference show that a healthy balance in the population of good versus bad bacteria in the gut called the “microbiome” is related to improved immune function, a smaller waist circumference and even improved cognitive function.

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            Kale is good for a healthy micro biome too.

            “Most folks have heard they need to eat more fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains for overall good health but these plant-based foods feed the microbiome too,” said Lauri Wright, registered dietitian nutritionist and professor of Public Health at the University of South Florida.

            Health coach help

            If it seems like you read something new and confusing about nutrition every day, then you’re not alone. There’s an emerging specialty in nutrition coaching. Taking one lesson to improve your tennis serve or golf swing can’t significantly change your game.

            The same goes for handing out a list of diet do’s and don’ts to lower cholesterol, manage diabetes, treat hypertension or lose weight. Atlanta registered dietitian nutritionist Caitlin Russell who specializes in weight control said, “I know that one visit is not enough. For long term weight management success, people need a personalized lifestyle plan so I can coach them through challenges along the way.”

            The dietitian is in

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            We dietitians get pretty excited about nutrition. Me (left) with Janet Helm, MS RDN (center) blogger at Nutrition Unplugged and Liz Weiss, MS RDN (right) blogger at MealMakeoverMoms

            Dietitians are moving beyond the clinical setting to a grocery store near you. Many retail food companies are employing dietitians to help source specialty products from gluten-free bread to reduced-sodium soups, teach cooking classes and work with pharmacists to create displays of foods that support the treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes. Registered dietitian Jane Andrews, of Wegmans Food Markets based in New York, said, “While registered dietitians help shoppers improve their health, it’s also healthy for the supermarket business because we’re building strong customer loyalty.”

             

              Rooting for Root Vegetables

                 


                handsimagesCarrots may enjoy a starring role on restaurant menus year round, but other less commonly consumed root vegetables take center stage in the fall. The slightly sharp flavors of parsnips, rutabaga, beets and turnips are a great compliment to hearty braised meats featured on cold weather menus.

                “The parsnip has that dynamic light licorice flavor that lifts your palate with heavier dishes such as duck,” says executive chef Mike Deihl of Atlanta, currently the Southeast Regional Vice President of the American Culinary Federation.

                Demonstrating his enthusiasm for the autumn harvest, Deihl prepared a salad of roasted parsnips, carrots and golden beets at the Taste of Atlanta food festival recently. “I call it my culinary fall trinity,” he says. “They’re roasted first to concentrate the flavors kind of like reducing a sauce.”

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                Roots on the Menu

                A quick survey of online menus posted by Atlanta restaurants proves chefs are rooting for root vegetables this time of year. At Woodfire Grill braised pork shank is served with roasted parsnips and an apple cider glaze. An apple, walnut and rutabaga compote complements roasted duck at Babette’s. Creamy parsnip soup is on the menu at Canoe and braised baby beets with burnt honey vinaigrette is offered at South City Kitchen. An arugula salad at The Optimist is topped with pickled turnips and carrots.

                “What I like about root vegetables is their flexibility. You can eat them hot, cold, room temperature, pureed, braised, stewed and grilled because they’re so strong and hearty,” says Deihl. “I’ve even made a golden beet sorbet!”

                Grounded in Good Nutrition

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                While root vegetables come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors they’re all really good sources of dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health and is associated with lower rates of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Turnips and rutabaga are high in vitamin C.   And as with most members in the produce aisle, root vegetables contain the mineral potassium, which helps support healthy blood pressure. Rutabagas and turnips are in the same cruciferous family as broccoli and cauliflower known for cancer-fighting antioxidant nutrients that help boost the immune system. So, while you’re enjoying the seasonal taste treat of root vegetables this fall know that you’re also adding some pretty powerful nutrition to boost your health to help ward off the winter chills ahead.

                 

                  Healthier Halloween….with or without Candy Corn

                    Scary Good Advice for a Healthier Halloween

                    When I was a kid after a night of neighborhood trick or treating, I’d take off my witch’s hat, pirate girl wig or angel wings and dump the sweet loot on the living room floor to size up the cache collected on Halloween. Then I started categorizing. Chocolate bars earned the highest value and candy corns the very least. Temporary tattoos and spooky pencils even ranked higher than candy corn. (They still do.) This year, according to the National Retail Foundation’s 2014 Halloween Consumer Spending Survey, we’ll spend over two billion dollars on candy. That’s a lot of bubble gum, candy bars, peanut butter cups and yes, candy corn. So, how do registered dietitian handle Halloween’s candy fest? Here are some scary good tips for treating kids and adults to a healthier Halloween.

                    Good Goblin Gobbling– serve those zombies a well-balanced dinner before trick or treating to fill tummies with filling protein foods and whole grains so they aren’t as tempted to dive into collected candies right away.

                    “Try a ‘Mini Mummy Pizza’ made on whole wheat English muffins with pizza sauce, slices of protein-packed mozzarella cheese and sliced olives for the eyes.”  -Lanier Dabruzzi, registered dietitian, Atlanta, Southeast Dairy Association

                    “Why not break up the candy monopoly and include a bit of fall plant-based flavor in your Halloween menu? Think pumpkin smoothies, stuffed acorn squash with quinoa, carrots served with hummus in a hollowed out mini pumpkin, roasted spiced pumpkin seeds, and baked apples with cinnamon.”  -Sharon Palmer, registered dietitian and author of Plant-Powered for Life

                    Healthier Treats – fun sized small candy bars come portion controlled. That’s good for adults handing out the treats using the join-the-fun ‘one for you, two for me!’ trick. But small bars may not include important information to detect any possible allergens.

                    “Miniature forms of candy do not contain a listing of ingredients on the individual package. These ingredients can be found on the larger package.” – Jill Castle, registered dietitian, food allergy expert.

                    Another way to limit sugary treat intake is to give candy that takes longer to eat. “These include hard candies (Jolly Roger), Starburst Fruit Chews, fruit leather, boxes of raisins, licorice, Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops, lollipops, licorice and gum.” – Julie Upton, registered dietitian at Appetite for Health.com

                    Savor the Sweet Treasure – happily none of the dietitians I interviewed suggest costuming carrots as candy. In fact, Halloween is a good time to teach kids how to splurge in moderation.

                    “Instead of trick or treating with the largest bag you can find, use a small plastic pumpkin so the kids fill their buckets but bring home less.” – Marisa Moore, Atlanta registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

                    “Instead of making Halloween treats and candy off-limits, teach your child balance by encouraging them to enjoy special treats as part of an overall healthy diet.” -Jessica Cox, registered dietitian, eMeals.com

                    “I do think it is important to keep treats from being forbidden fruit or they become that much more attractive and desirable.” Alice Henneman, registered dietitian University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.

                    After Halloween, Cox says, “Put leftover candy away and out of site. Combine candy with whole-grain cereal and nuts for a homemade trail mix that contains protein and fiber.”

                    Frighteningly Fit

                     The best thing about Halloween is that is usually involved walking and often running from house to house to gather as much sweet treasure as possible.

                    “We have a steep driveway and have noticed many trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood pass us by even though it is obvious we are passing out treats. A neighbor suggested setting up table at end of driveway. I said no. We are giving out candy so folks can trek up the driveway!” – Marilyn W. Yon, registered dietitian,

                    The best way to eat candy corn

                    BONY FINGERS. Fill clear plastic gloves (the type designed for wearing in the kitchen when preparing food) with popcorn, which is a whole grain food high in fiber and low in calories. Tie the end with ribbon or yarn. Add a few pieces of candy corn at the end of each finger for fingernails. Source: http://food.unl.edu/fnh/healthy-halloween-party

                    So the real trick on Halloween is to treat the costumed crew to a short but sweet trip through candy land while making sure the rest of the day includes healthy food choices and the night includes fitness for a frightfully fun time.

                     

                     

                      Crazy Good Nutrition Advice for Crazy Busy Times

                        Do you feel like you’re crazy busy right now?

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                        I sure do. My big annual conference where all of the dietitians get together to listen, learn and share libations happens this week and this year it’s in Atlanta!

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                        All dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians. Look for the RD or RDN credentials. And look for all of us out on the town in Atlanta October 18-21st.

                        Look out folks as 7,000 dietitians populate the city’s restaurants and just might act a little like Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally” as they enthusiastically order everything on the side, with this or without that. I’ll have what she’s having……..

                        UntitledWelcome to one and all attending The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo ( FNCE ).

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                        The fall is often a busy and productive season for all of us.  Got a Power Point to finish? Trying to polish that resume? Trying to stay ahead of stress induced memory loss?

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                        Preparing for a job interview, school exam, special event, music recital or business presentation is vital for success but what you consume before the performance can make a difference too.

                        Meal choices can make or break your mental powers.

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                        Protein punch

                        While a biscuit or bagel can be fast for breakfast, nutrition scientists say eating nothing but carbs is a bad choice for a big day. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study compared two groups who ate either a high-protein or high-carbohydrate breakfast. Two hours later the carb group had levels of the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan that were four times higher than the protein group. Add an egg to that breakfast biscuit and some peanut butter or smoked salmon to a bagel to boost protein content.

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                        Greek Yogurt is a good source of protein. Try it in savory recipes too. It’s not just for fruit and smoothies.

                        Lean protein foods such as eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, chicken and fish support the production of neurotransmitters needed for smart thinking.

                        Brain cells crave choline

                        Found in egg yolks, the nutrient choline helps support the brain’s messenger service and new memory cell production.

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                        Attention egg white omelet fans: chances are you’re not getting enough choline if you skip the yolk. Registered dietitian Elizabeth Ward said, “It’s a nutrient that’s frequently under-consumed by those who need it most. In fact, fewer than 10 percent of older children, men and women meet the recommended Adequate Intake for choline.”

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                        My dietitian pal Liz Ward is pretty smart and really pretty!  Liz says one egg, which contains 125 milligrams of choline, can help close the gap.

                        B alert

                        B vitamins, such as folate or folic acid, play a key role in forming the brain’s memory cells and have been shown to improve alertness in adults. The vitamin can be found in orange juice, green vegetables, cantaloupe, and whole grain foods including those enriched with folic acid such as breads, cereals, pasta and rice.

                        Pay attention with tea

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                        Coffee may be the go-to beverage for go-getters but too much caffeine can cause nervous jitters.

                        So switch to tea.

                        teaimagesJohn Foxe, Ph.D. professor of neuroscience, biology and psychology at City College of the City University of New York found that theanine, an amino acid in the tea plant increases alpha brain-wave activity which induces a calmer, yet more alert, state of mind. Theanine is found in green, black and oolong teas.

                        Water for the brain

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                        Dehydration can make you feel listless and lethargic and contribute to concentration problems. If your brain feels a bit fuzzy, you might just be thirsty.  I know this week, I’ll be drinking water…in between each of the culinary cocktails I’ll be enjoying with dietitian friends.

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                          Fall in Love with Fall Menus: Healthy and Happy

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                            Autumn’s harvest of apples, pears and turnips will be tumbling onto restaurant menus and into supermarkets soon.

                            To help home cooks up their veggie know-how the James Beard Foundation has released a new smart phone app featuring vegetable recipes from famous chefs with photos and shopping lists.

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                            The Glazed Baby Turnips by celebrated chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry in Napa Valley look delicious and actually pretty easy to make.

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                            I always look forward to cozy fall fashions after a summer of sheer fabrics in whites and brights. The same goes for fall meals with warm plates of earthy and robust flavors, compared to the lighter and often chilled tastes of summer.

                            colorUnknownThere’s a change in the air and on the menu.

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                            Woodsy notes from shitake mushrooms transform chef Zeb Stevenson’s grilled whole trout into an autumnal treat at Parish in Inman Park where the dish is served with Swiss chard and spritzed with juice from a grilled orange half.

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                            Braised kale and the hearty grain farro (similar to brown rice in consistency and related to wheat) accompany grilled salmon topped with a sweet-tart rhubarb salsa at Food 101 in Sandy Springs.

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                            At 4th & Swift, chef/owner Jay Swift dresses flank steak for fall with satisfying sides of squash, corn puree, and king trumpet mushrooms. Swift’s duck breast entrée salutes the season’s appetite for more robust flavors with mustard seed, sauerkraut, Brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes. Apples and pears star on fall dessert menus all over town.

                            Fall’s Healthy Harvest: What’s inside?

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                            Apples- vitamin C and fiber. There are five grams of fiber in one medium apple. Have a baked apple for dessert.

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                            Brussels sprouts – fiber, vitamin C and folate. There are three grams of fiber in four sprouts.

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                            Cauliflower- vitamin C and folate. Very low in calories-25 calories in a cup. Watch the cheese sauce!

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                            Collard greens, turnip greens and kale- vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber and calcium. That’s right! The mineral calcium famous for being in milk, is also found in these greens. All that and it’s National Kale Day this Wednesday.

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                            Mushrooms- very low calorie, high in Riboflavin; good source of niacin. Mushrooms add rich flavors to soups and stews.

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                            Winter squash and pumpkin- vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, fiber and folate.  Try cooked pumpkin in savory dishes. It’s not just for pies!

                            sweet potatoes imagesSweet potatoes- fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Count 100 calories for one medium sweet potato. Roasting caramelizes the natural sugars. No need for added butter or brown sugar.

                            So much to be thankful for when fall serves up the food!

                             

                             

                              Tiny Wild Blueberries Deliver Big Nutrition

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                                 Good things come in small packages.

                                The same can be said of the tiny wild Maine blueberry being harvested this time of year on otherwise barren rocky fields.

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                                In fact, the land in northern Maine where these short scruffy bushes grow is referred to as ‘the barrens.’

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                                About one third of the size of cultivated blueberries commonly sold in most supermarkets, Maine’s petite deep purple wild berries have been popping up on their own without human help for more than ten thousand years.

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                                Merrill Blueberry Farms is the first and only company to process organic wild blueberries for the frozen market.

                                “The plants are not fast growing but they’re long lasting,” says David Yarborough, wild blueberry specialist and professor of horticulture at the University of Maine. “I eat my way through the fields and have wild blueberries with oatmeal for breakfast every day.”

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                                David Yarborough also likes wild Maine blueberry ice cream.  So does Hannah Richards, mommy blogger and editor at Ethos Marketing.

                                To learn how wild blueberries are different from the tame (that’s what the US Department of Agriculture calls cultivated blueberries) I joined a group of food bloggers for an educational farm to table tour called “Blog the Barrens!”

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                                Regan Miller Jones RD of Healthy Aperture , Danielle Omar of Food Confidence and I visit Wyman’s of Maine.
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                                Liz Weiss, fellow dietitian and blogger at MealMakeoverMoms and I celebrate wearing blue in blueberry land! Blueberry fields forever.

                                We braved a little cold and rain but blessed the weather conditions as ‘good for the berries!’ and enjoyed wonderful meals together as we tasted and talked – it was all about the wild Maine blueberry.

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                                At Havana restaurant in Bar Harbor, wild blueberries find their way into blueberry butter, blueberry vinaigrette sauce for scallops, and blueberry compote for goat cheese cheesecake.  We were greeted with a wild Maine blueberry Mojito since Havana’s theme is a latin inspired menu.

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                                We also spotted a very famous and discriminating ‘foodie’ and fellow blogger…Martha dining right next to us at Havana.

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                                No we didn’t get a chance to chat but the Martha sighting had me craving more berries and appreciating the gorgeous views!

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                                The bartenders at the Bar Harbor Inn shakes up blueberry martinis and executive chef Louis Kiefer makes a variety of wild blueberry salsas.

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                                RECIPE: Wild Blueberry & Tomato Salsa 

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                                1 cup Wild Blueberries

                                1 cup quartered Cherry Tomatoes

                                1/4 cup diced Yellow Bell Pepper

                                Chiffonade of Fresh Basil Leaves

                                Pinch of Sea Salt & Cayenne

                                1 tablespoon honey

                                2 tablespoons Walnut Oil (or olive oil)

                                1-2 tablespoons of Fruit Vinegar (Champagne vinegar, Blueberry vinegar! or Red Wine Vinegar for instance)

                                Mix well and serve- great with tortilla chips (duh) or on top of grilled fish ( as in photo above)

                                WILD ABOUT WILD BLUEBERRIES IN MAINE!

                                It’s easy to find blueberry pancakes and blueberry ice cream on just about every menu in Maine. (And as a design on table linens and other decor) Let’s get another look at that wild blueberry ice cream!

                                IMG_8074 If they’re not using the state’s wild berry, I’m pretty sure they’d be run out of town.

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                                Yarborough explains that while blueberries grow wild in Maine, farmers manage the fields where they grow to control competing weeds and insects to ensure a healthy crop. This year will be a banner year for wild blueberries because the weather was ‘honeybee friendly’ during the critical pollination phase.

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                                Speaking of the harvest….there are mechanical harvesters but much of the crop today is still gathered as it has been for years…by raking the berries into a toothy contraption in back and forth motions so the berries tumble into the catch. It’s back breaking work and I had enough of it in five minutes. Cheers to those humble heroes who harvest our sweet crops!

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                                Big Nutrition, Small Berry

                                Wild blueberries offer banner nutrition too. Because the berry is tiny there’s more skin to flesh ratio so the wild blueberry is twice as high in fiber and much higher levels of antioxidants as compared to bigger cultivated berries. Registered dietitian Kit Broihier, who works with the Wild Blueberry Association of North America says, “Tiny is huge when it comes to nutrition. The wild blueberry has concentrated levels of nutrients that support eye, heart and brain health.”

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                                While the savoring of fresh wild blueberries is an annual celebration during harvest in Maine, the majority of the state’s crop heads immediately to the freezer. “It’s nature’s pause button,” says Yarborough. Freezing maintains the color, shape, and flavor of the fruit and creates a food product that’s available year round and worldwide.

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                                And studies show that freezing not only protects but actually increases the availability of nutrients in blueberries. You can find wild Maine blueberries in most supermarkets in the frozen fruit section. Or….you can head to the state of Maine for the late summer harvest next year. Besides it’s the best time of year to visit Vacationland.

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                                  Food Allergies Can Cause Nutrition Gaps

                                    Jackphoto The first mission in creating safe meals for children with food allergies is avoiding the offending ingredient. But, there can be a downside to diets that miss out on the nutritional value found in foods kicked off the menu. A study in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (JAND) cautions that inappropriate elimination diets can induce vitamin and mineral deficiencies, anemia, and other symptoms affecting a child’s growth and nutritional status.

                                    “Food allergies and intolerances are on the rise,” says registered dietitian Vandana Sheth, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “But it’s important that we identify that kids are actually allergic (through proper testing) before we avoid those foods unnecessarily.”

                                    The eight foods that account for more than 90% of childhood cases of food allergies include milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, pecans), wheat, fish and shellfish. Food intolerances such as lactose and gluten add even more children to the at-risk list for nutrient deficiencies.

                                    “A parent should always offer a variety of different foods within a food group,” says registered dietitian Cheryl Orlansky, president of the Greater Atlanta Dietetic Association. Gluten free grains inlude rice, corn and quinoa. Sheth says if a child is allergic to peanut butter, substitute sunflower seed butter.

                                    Registered dietitian Toby Amidor, author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen says, “If you skip dairy you skip its nine essential nutrients. Studies show people with lactose intolerance may tolerate up to a cup of fluid milk, which has 12 grams of lactose. Cheeses, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are much lower in lactose.”

                                    Mind the Gap

                                    The food allergy study in JAND measured the benefit of dietary counseling in preventing and correcting nutrient deficiencies in children with food allergies. Results from the multi-center study in Italy showed that advice on what foods to eat to help fill in the gaps helped kids get enough calories, protein and other needed nutrients. “I think it’s fascinating,” says Sheth. “They showed that dietary counseling really helped and growth patterns were improved.”

                                    Sheth says, “A lot of kids outgrow allergies to eggs and milk by age 16. But other allergies such as nuts may be life long.” Her knowledge comes first hand. Her son was diagnosed with over 20 food allergies as a child, “Now he’s a healthy JV football player. He’s down to four or five allergies including all nuts. I always feed the team so I can keep an eye on what he’s eating!”

                                    Visit www.eatright.org for tips on feeding kids with food allergies.

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                                      Breakfast Skippers Stay Slim

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                                        Are you a breakfast skipper? Then you’ve probably been lectured about breakfast being ‘the most important meal of the day’ as the culinary kick-start you need to fuel a healthy day ahead. But, take heart. Two new studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, one conducted by a self-proclaimed breakfast skipper at the University of Bath in England and the other by obesity researchers at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), conclude that folks who say no to the bacon and eggs, or granola and toast are not more prone to weight gain.

                                        David Allison, director of UAB’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center says their study comparing weight loss in breakfast eating and breakfast skipping groups of overweight and obese adult dieters found that the morning meal made no difference in weight loss over 16 weeks. The study in Bath found that breakfast didn’t rev up the metabolism, a commonly held nutrition notion. Those who abstained from breakfast did in fact ‘save calories’ because they ate fewer calories over the whole day as compared to breakfast eaters. But, eating breakfast was associated with burning more calories because these folks were more physically active in the morning. Hungry yet?

                                        Breakfast Benefits

                                        There’s more to the morning meal than calorie counts. Nutrition research supports the fact that the body best uses protein to maintain muscle mass when protein-containing foods are eaten throughout the day, not in one sitting. So eating a huge steak at dinner is not the best plan for bodybuilding. Ideally, each meal should contain about 30 grams of protein. Ditto for 30 grams at lunch and dinner. 30 grams is about three ounces. So, the protein in Greek yogurt, milk with cereal or scrambled eggs at breakfast helps build, repair and maintain our muscles.

                                        Other research links eating breakfast with improved cognitive function throughout the morning. Hello back to school families! Breakfast eaters do better paying attention in morning classes.

                                        Did you know even if your quickie breakfast is a just a latte you’re getting some good nutrition? A typical 12-ounce coffee latte with milk contains about one third of the calcium needs for the day and other milk provides other needed nutrients including protein and potassium.

                                        So, while skipping breakfast may not cause you to eat more the rest of the day resulting in weight gain, it’s still vitally important to enjoy a nutrient rich morning meal to boost the health of your body and brain.

                                         

                                         

                                         

                                         

                                          Let’s do lunch! School Lunch!

                                             

                                            The smiling and some not-so-smiling faces in first day back to school photos posted on Facebook inspired me to think about what’s on the menu for school lunch this year. And wow school nutrition folks are getting a A+ for menu makeovers and building dedicated teams of chefs, dietitians, food safety pros and local farmers to bring good nutrition and great taste the cafeteria table.  It’s almost as much fun as checking out that cute new guy who moved into town this year.  Wait! Isn’t that a school cafeteria scene from Twilight? 

                                            Healthy School Lunch Menus 

                                            Can’t decide whether to get the Turkey Cobb Salad, Italian Vegetable Sandwich on a Whole Grain Wrap or the Sweet and Sour Chicken with Vegetable Fried Rice and Asian Vegetable Blend? Well, then you could be in line for lunch at one of Atlanta Public School’s high school cafeterias. Don’t forget to check out the daily ‘Salad Bowl’ offering of leafy greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes with a rotating selection of tasty toppings from kidney bean salad to slices peaches. In fact locally grown peaches are August’s ‘Produce of the Month’ on the Atlanta Public Schools’ School Nutrition website where daily menu items are listed for all grades and include gluten free and vegetarian options.

                                            Director of Nutrition Services for Atlanta Public Schools, Marilyn Hughes says, “We are listening to our customers who are our students but we’re following nutrition guidelines too of course.” So while kid-pleasing pizza is served, the crust is whole-grainand the cheese is reduced fat. The colorful website includes student and parent friendly links to nutrition and fitness information including shared webpages created by school districts across the nation with timely nutrition tips for adding more produce to home meals, too. Here’s a sample-

                                            Harvest of the Month for August is corn:

                                            • Add corn to your favorite salad recipes using fresh, frozen, or canned corn.
                                            • Stuff corn and black beans into whole-wheat pita pockets for a healthy sandwich.
                                            • Sprinkle corn kernels on pizza for a new take on toppings.
                                            • Add frozen or canned corn to your favorite casserole or soup.

                                            Cobb County School menus go the extra mile to promote eating more vegetables by creating a daily cafeteria category called “vivid veggies” including Broccoli Dippers and Garden Spinach Salad.

                                            Nationwide,  milk got a makeover too. Now only 1% milk and fat free flavored milks are served. All milk contains the same nine essential nutrients. Truth is  – if there’s only white milk offered, many kids will skip it totally. So flavored milks ( made with way less sugar than before!) are a great way to get those 9 needed nutrients consumed.

                                            What’s not for lunch?

                                            Foods containing trans fats and whole milk have been kicked out of school. Fried foods are limited. In a response to concerns about childhood obesity and overall wellness public schools nationwide must follow nutrition plans regulated by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act enacted in 2012.

                                            Many who continue to criticize school lunch programs may not be aware of the efforts being made to teach the ABC’s of good nutrition by improving what’s on our children’s plates. Hughes says, “I believe if more parents knew the full team dedicated to their children’s health including certified chefs, registered dietitians, sustainability and food safety specialists they’d realize we’re working to pack the best nutrition into every bite.”   In many school districts you can add local farmers to the list, too. Farm to school programs are cropping up nationwide including the Georgia Grown initiative.

                                            But Will They Eat It?

                                            Just as adults can easily speed past the listing of ‘light entrees’ on restaurant menus to order high fat favorites; kids and teens can ignore the sweet potatoes in favor of the pizza. Hey why not sweet potato on the pizza? Stay tuned. It may be showing up for class at a school near you. I can’t wait to see what’s for lunch tomorrow.

                                            Parents Teach Your Children Well

                                             • Be a positive role model for your child. Ask what they ate for lunch today and review choices to emphasize the need for a variety of food groups.

                                            • Remember that children ages 7-10 should be getting 3 servings from the milk group, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 5-6 servings of grains, and 2 servings from the meat/bean group daily.

                                            Want some suggestions on how to pack a healthy, tasty lunch from home? Watch this fun video from BestFoodFacts.org as I shop for foods appropriate for different ages. After all, the tiny second grader doesn’t eat the same thing as the big football playing senior!

                                            Now let’s start having fun- it’s time to go BACK TO SCHOOL!

                                             

                                             

                                             

                                             

                                             

                                             

                                             

                                             

                                              Peru Holds Adventures for the Palate

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                                                Quinoa is one of Peru’s most popular culinary exports

                                                Peruvian Culinary Treasure Chest 

                                                The spiritual draw of Machu Picchu combined with the gastronomic fame of Peru’s cuisine lured me to Lima and the Andes mountains.

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                                                I joined grazing llamas and fellow travelers to explore the stone structures and staircases throughout the majestic and mysterious mountaintop ‘lost city of the Inca.’

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                                                Discovered by American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911, archeologists still do not know why the Inca built Machu Picchu.

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                                                It’s a reminder that civilizations of the world– ancient and modern- have much to reveal and share with visitors from afar.

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                                                Peru Rail is the way to “climb” the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu from Cusco to Aguas Caliente

                                                MORE THAN QUINOA ON THE MENU

                                                The popularity of quinoa in the U.S. has people talking about Peru where it’s a staple of the traditional diet.

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                                                Though technically a seed not a grain, quinoa is nutritious and high in protein. It can be served like rice and comes in a variety of colors including black and red. A crunchy quinoa salad with fava beans and corn on the menu at La Huaca Pucllana is chef Marilu Mandueno’s contemporary spin on classics, “I want to keep tradition to show where the modern interpretations come from. It’s my way of rediscovering ingredients.”

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                                                Marilu is one of Peru’s top chefs and has a beautiful cookbook of Peruvian traditional dishes kicked up with her marvelous modern touches

                                                 

                                                Peru is celebrated for ceviche, too. From tiny stalls in bustling city markets to gorgeous restaurants, the art of raw fish slightly marinated in citrus juice and chili peppers is not to be missed.

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                                                Peru is the perfect for potato lovers where there are over 3000 types including purple, red, and yellow and all shapes, sizes, and textures.

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                                                Ode to the Peruvian potato at Palacio del Inka in Cusco. Potato soup and the best potato chips you can imagine

                                                One of the most delicious Peruvian recipes is causa, which combines mashed yellow potatoes with olive oil, lemon juice and chili.

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                                                Causa is so pretty and so delicious! I like the idea of making mashed potatoes with olive oil and lemon.

                                                Moray, an Inca archeological site in the Cusco region is believed to be an ancient agricultural experiment station to develop potato and corn varieties for varying altitudes.

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                                                Moray is believed to be site of Incan crop breeding

                                                Each Ingredient is Prized in Peru

                                                A dish called “diversity of corn” is presented on the ‘elevations’ tasting menu at the ultra contemporary Central restaurant in Lima, home to chef Virgilio Martinez. I first met him at the Worlds of Flavors conference at the Culinary Institute of American in Napa Valley.

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                                                These are the same little plants that grow in the stone cracks in Machu Picchu. Dishes at Central are edible jewels

                                                 

                                                Another course, called ‘dry Andes’ is a tiny bite of grey colored clay with citrus flower garnish.

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                                                “Peruvians like impactful flavors,” says Gregory Thomas Smith, formerly of Atlanta and wine director at Central. “If they eat an orange they want the most passionate orange they can find.”

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                                                Look who I found in Lima! My Atlanta pal Gregory Smith, now the wine director at Central restaurant

                                                Peru’s bounty from the ocean, plains, mountains and jungle is celebrated at Astrid & Gaston in Lima, recognized as one of the finest restaurants in the world.

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                                                Roasted potatoes are served table side, unearthed from steaming black dirt.

                                                Dining in Peru is an adventure.

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                                                A T-shirt pokes fun at Peruvian chefs cooking cuy, or guinea pig, a national food favorite

                                                Get ready to discover fish and fruit from the Amazon, the flavor of cuy (guinea pig) and learn that alpaca isn’t only for sweaters. Alpaca, raised by certified purveyors, is a lean meat and tastes a bit like venison.

                                                The restaurant at Tambo del Inka Resort in the Sacred Valley elegantly serves grilled alpaca with native potatoes, lavender flowers and cocao sauce.

                                                 

                                                Not so daring? Have an empanada and a Pisco sour.

                                                Amazon Adventure

                                                While many people associate the Amazon River with neighboring Brazil, nearly twenty percent of the Amazon basin lies within Peru. A living laboratory of nature’s biodiversity, the Amazon supplies chef Pedro Miguel Schafino’s groceries for Amaz restaurant in Lima, the first restaurant to showcase the history and culture of the jungle region. “Nobody’s doing this. One hundred percent of our menu is from the Amazon,” says Schafino. The menu at Amaz is a colorful, tropical mix of fruit and vegetables including pomelo (ancient cousin of grapefruits), sugar cane and hearts of palm cut into spirals and served like pasta. “We’ve introduced forty new fruits into Lima,” says Schafino. “It’s a very healthy cuisine integrated with nature and these plants have high levels of vitamins and antioxidants.”

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                                                The pasta looking dish on the left is shaved hearts of palm at Amaz restaurant in Lima

                                                There are four different kinds of Amazon River fish on the menu (of the 20 to 30 Amazon natives currently consume) prepared ceviche style or in flavorful stews. For the adventurous palate there are river snails and fresh water clams too.
                                                When I tell Schafino that I thought I was going to eat piranha at his restaurant he smiles and says, “Oh there would be piranha if I could find a consistent quantity and good quality!” Check the menu if you visit Amaz on a trip to Lima. Maybe piranha will appear on the menu. Of course, not to be missed are the two most famous flavors of the Amazon- chocolate and coffee, both indigenous to the region.

                                                High Altitude Help

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                                                Welcome to Cusco! A little coca tea perhaps to begin your stay at the glamorous  Palacio del Inka Hotel

                                                When traveling to cities such as Cusco above 10,000 feet and the archaeological site Machu Picchu at about 8000 feet a lot of folks can feel the effects caused by less available oxygen in the air.

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                                                This so called “thin air” makes it harder to breath and speeds up dehydration. It can cause insomnia, dizziness and nausea. At first, I felt like I had boulder on my chest. Taking your time while climbing steps on a city tour and hiking trails is critical as well as drinking plenty of water. Go easy on the Pisco sours, too.

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                                                Feeling AOK in the high altitude at Machu Picchu.

                                                Professional tour guide, Jaime Vasquez, who has led over 650 groups traversing the mountainous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu says, “While it’s offered at some hotels, I don’t recommend using oxygen because it will take longer for your body to acclimatize to the altitude. Instead take aspirin, drink a lot of water and slow down.”

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                                                Pretty fancy display for Mate de Coca at Inka Terra Machu Pichhu Peublo Hotel in Aguas Calientes

                                                Mate de coca, tea brewed from coca leaves (yes, that kind of coca but legal in Peru) is a time honored folk cure for soroche in the Andes. It’s provided in hotels, restaurants and sold in tea bags at the market. “Coca tea has alkaloids so it helps stimulate the system,” says Vasquez. Just don’t try to bring any souvenir coca leaves home to the USA.

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                                                You can bring back all the Inca Kola you like…kind of like Mountain Dew, well Andes Mountain Dew

                                                For great information on all things Peruvian and planning travel to Peru I recommend connecting with the Peru Trade Commission office Los Angeles.  Gracias!!!

                                                 

                                                  Celebrating with Seafood and Champagne

                                                     

                                                      Really Good Nutrition Research Starts with a Pie Chart

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                                                    As a registered dietitian who’s been writing about food for more than two decades, I’m always worried that what I know and what I share will ultimately be proven wrong. After all, there’s a cavalcade of new studies, reports and surveys released just about every day. The conclusions roll in and I read through the facts and try to figure out what’s best to advise based on better science.   And as The Lady of the Refrigerator I am obsessed with the cold, hard facts!

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                                                    It’s my birthday this week so I thought I’d review the benefits of celebrating with seafood and wine.

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                                                    Cheers to Your Health – What’s a Champagne lover to do?

                                                    Pour over the research reports very carefully.

                                                    A new study published in the British Medical Journal found that a group of subjects, who do not drink alcohol because of a genetic expression that causes nausea and facial flushing, had lower rates of heart disease than those who were light-to- moderate drinkers. The researchers said they couldn’t prove cause and effect prompting this word of caution from Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, “It is clear that the patients with this genetic variant have a reduction in alcohol intake, but it is unclear if this in itself is the factor improving their cardiovascular outcomes.” She says don’t dismiss the many studies showing the antioxidants and other compounds in wine are beneficial for heart health.

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                                                    Celebrating Seafood – If you like sautéed trout, grilled salmon, baked cod, crab cakes and steamed shrimp then you’re dining for taste and health. Fish and shellfish are a great source of protein, essential minerals and heart healthy omega 3 fats. But what about the mercury contamination? This is a tale of balancing risks and benefits.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has drafted updated guidance to match the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendations for everyone, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children, to eat eight to 12 ounces (two to three servings) per week of a variety of low mercury seafood. Fish higher in mercury include tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish and king mackerel.

                                                    “A large percentage of women are simply not eating enough fish and as a result they are not getting the health benefits that fish can provide,” says Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the F.D.A.’s acting chief scientist.

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                                                    Picked stone crab served with peppery tomato broth at Everleigh restaurant in Los Angeles

                                                     

                                                    My favorite birthday splurge is succulent crabmeat with a flute of chilled Champagne, so it’s good to know what makes me happy can help me enjoy more birthdays ahead.

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                                                      Grilling Secrets from Montana Master Grillers

                                                        IMG_6276 Montana is my 50th state. Not on purpose, just because.  Even though I traveled all over the place with CNN for so many years as a correspondent covering food, health and then travel; I realized I hadn’t been to three states: Alaska, Wyoming and Montana. Last summer I took a cruise to Alaska with my family. Check! This winter I went to Jackson Hole to visit my daughter Katie in Wyoming. Check!

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                                                        But Montana eluded me until I was invited to attend the Montana Master Grillers weekend at Paws Up Resort outside of Missoula.

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                                                        So here’s where the story begins……..

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                                                        Montana Master Grillers- The Thrill of the Grill in Montana 

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                                                        BBQ master Sam Huff of Marietta, GA in his element

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                                                        Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                        And for fans of grilling and barbecue there’s nothing more captivating than gathering around the hallowed hot embers to listen to an expert reveal some recipe secrets.

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                                                        “It’s dangerous knowledge to cook really great ribs,” says Sam Huff, chef and owner of Sam’s BBQ1 in Marietta.     “People will beat a path to your door.”

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                                                        Huff’s popular Pork U classes where he shares behind the scenes BBQ know-how gained during a decade of competition cooking fill up pretty fast.

                                                        But I didn’t meet him in Marietta. I sampled Huff’s lip smacking food and attended his BBQ cooking demo in Montana. Huff was one of five featured chefs at the annual Montana Master Grillers event held at The Resort at Paws Up, near Missoula.

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                                                        Yup, this is where that movie was filmed.

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                                                        Billed as a 37,000-acre backyard barbecue,

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                        the weekend of Montana ranch meets fine food and drink

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                                                        included activities such as fly-fishing (with Napa Valley winemaker Dennis Cakebread),

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                                                        trails rides,

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                                                        and even a cattle drive.

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                                                        Among the meaty lessons on gourmet grilling: Chef Joe Davidson of Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, Kansas led guests through the art of butchering

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                                                        while chef Danny Fischer of Baby Blues BBQ in Venice, California showed how to properly pepper a beef brisket.

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                                                        Huff says, “People are tired of fast food and BBQ is the opposite of fast food.” Huff told his audience, “Only rich folks ate high on the hog. Barbecue was for the tough meat cuts with long protein strands so folks had to figure out how to cook them slow and low.”

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                                                        Huff  likes an average cooking temperature of no more than 240 degrees over indirect heat with a lot of patience, “If you’re looking you’re not cooking!” Another tip for tender meats is placing a pan filled with liquid in the cooker. “It adds flavor and stops the dripping fat from causing flare ups,” say Huff. “I use whatever compliments. With pork I’d use apple juice, beef maybe some red wine and with chicken I use chicken stock.”

                                                         

                                                        Healthful grilling

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                                                        Avoiding the black char caused by flare-ups is important for good health, too. When proteins in meats are cooked at searing temperatures, carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) can form. Registered dietitian, Sarah Krieger, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says, “And emerging research suggests marinating meat for at least 30 minutes can reduce the formation of HCAs.”

                                                        Montana Menus

                                                        A chuck wagon lunch by the river served up grilled elk and duck sausages, colorful salads and bowls of the region’s beautiful berries.

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                                                        Paws Up executive chef Ben Jones (left) heads up the Montana Master Grillers weekend.
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                                                        A river of grilled sausages runs through it…

                                                        A Montana inspired dinner prepared by chef Brian Howard of Comme Ca restaurant in Las Vegas perfectly captured the grilling and ‘glamping’ spirit at Paws Up.

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                                                        Chef Brian Howard (right) with sous chef and grill mate Daniel Ontiveros of Comme Ca, Las Vegas

                                                        Dishes included grilled and smoked oxtail and fire roasted elk short loin with grilled ramps and caramelized onions.

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                                                        Paws Up perfect for the tuxedo bachelor party crowd!

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                         

                                                        For dessert? Marshmallows and s’mores enjoyed under the stars toasted over the flames of the campfire, of course.

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                                                        And Crystal Bowersox performed!

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                                                        More Montana Magic at Paws Up Resort

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                                                        Sure, you can put on your boots and saddle up but at Paws Up you can pause to relax in a Cowgirl Princess kind of way. Spa services are found in Spa Town’s tented luxury.

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                                                        And every detail in the accommodations are fascinating to notice. Hey! Isn’t that the Paws Up logo over the stove in the gourmet kitchen?

                                                        Hope to see you next year for the Montana Master Grillers Weekend at Paws Up Resort in….yup….MONTANA!!

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                                                          Healthy Demand for Splurge Foods

                                                            Healthier Menu Options Don’t Appeal to Everyone 

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                                                            From soft tacos topped with fresh pico de gallo salsa at Taco Bell and whole-wheat linguine with pomodoro sauce at Olive Garden to braised kale and baked sweet potatoes on many menus; there’s definitely a healthy selection of more nutritious options at restaurants today.

                                                            But that doesn’t mean diet-conscious dishes are leading the charge at the cash register. “We’re committed and it’s our responsibility to make these options available but they’re not big sellers,” says Jonathan Blum, chief public affairs and global nutrition officer for Yum! Brands (parent company of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut). For instance, Taco Bell’s Fresco menu items with less than 350 calories and fewer than ten grams of fat are a dietitian’s dream but sales are skinny compared to the cheese covered classics on the menu. Blum says, “Consumers aren’t demanding healthier choices as much as we’d like.”

                                                            Speaking at The National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show in Chicago Blum and other industry leaders discussed the current state of nutrition.

                                                            “We’re integrating nutrition into the menu development process but it’s not always easy,” says Steve Hilton, vice president of global government and public affairs of McDonald’s. To address recommended calorie levels for children, McDonald’s shrunk the portion size of fries in their Happy Meals several years ago but Hilton says, “There were a lot of parents and children not happy about it.”

                                                            Registered dietitian Cheryl Dolven director of health and wellness at Darden Restaurants says that choice, variety and innovation lead menu development for healthy options but customers don’t want what they consider indulgent special occasion foods to disappear, “Moms tell us ‘I feed my kids broccoli and grapes at home so when we dine out we want to enjoy the fries and a soda.’ We have to listen to how they use our restaurants. It might be only four times a year.”

                                                            Menu Labeling

                                                            Whether you care about calories and sodium or not when you’re dining out, the Food and Drug Administration is finalizing regulations to require restaurants (with more then 20 units in operation) to make nutrition information available on menus, websites and in-store signage. Dolven says it surprised her that more than fifty percent of folks in focus groups reacted negatively to the concept of nutritional numbers being listed on menus, “They said ‘I don’t need to be told about what to eat.’ And in fact we don’t know if the information will change diet behavior. About sixty studies have been done and half show menu labeling changes what people order and half showed it didn’t.”

                                                            Nutrition Know How

                                                            One way I think nutrition information on menus can help with the enjoyment of eating and nutrition education is by helping to make quick comparisons. Checking restaurant websites, which are already listing nutrition information, reveals that the burger you might really want actually has fewer calories than the entrée salad you thought you were supposed to order. Case in point: Five Guys Burger at 700 calories vs Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad at 780 calories. But, calories and fat alone do not tell the whole health story. The salad has more fiber than the burger.

                                                            “It’s not what to delete, but what to eat,” says registered dietitian Janet Helm who writes the blog Nutrition Unplugged.

                                                             

                                                              Diner’s Education to Enjoy the Ride

                                                                Better driving is dependent on knowing the rules of the road. Your journey toward more nutritious eating also begins with careful navigation. Whether the eats are at a happy hour with co-workers or dining out at a restaurant with family and friends, basic dining detours such as passing on the bread basket or taking the “carpool” approach and splitting a meal with someone at the table can make a big difference.

                                                                See this cute info graphic on BestFoodFacts.org

                                                                Diner Education Infographic

                                                                Watch the Video on WGN

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                                                                These simple detours can help you determine a better route to nutritious eating, navigating away from Overload Road to a more pleasant Lean Street – avoiding any unfortunate “crashes” into excess calories, fat or sodium.
                                                                Whether you’re dining at the local eatery or just looking for a quick bite at the airport or mall, the Restaurant Road Rules  from registered dietitian Carolyn O’Neil on WGN’s Midday Fix can keep you well fueled and in the driver’s seat.

                                                                Remember you’re in the driver’s seat…..when you’re dining out. I see a sign!

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                                                                http://wgntv.com/2014/05/16/midday-fix-rules-of-the-road-for-dining-out/

                                                                 

                                                                 

                                                                 

                                                                  Let’s Eat Out!

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                                                                    Dining with friends at The Purple Pig in Chicago enjoying great food and great fun. Good thing we had a 5:30 pm reservation. The place was packed during the National Restaurant Association Show.
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                                                                    Purple Pig fave: Turkey leg cooked in a confit of duck fat. It was like dinner on The Game of Thrones.

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                                                                    Let the gourmet games begin at the 2014 National Restaurant Association Show welcoming thousands of restaurant owners, chefs and food service suppliers.  Attendees buy everything from vegan entrees to vacuum cleaners.

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                                                                    So what’s on the menu for restaurants? I spent three days spotting trends and talking to pros in the food biz.

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                                                                    Supreme seafood at Halpern’s booth in the NRA Exhibit Hall. Who needs the Deadliest Catch, Halpern’s bring the legs to lunch!

                                                                     BUZZ WORDS ABUNDANT

                                                                     

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                                                                    Fresh, natural, authentic, hand crafted, made with ancient grains, and high in protein.

                                                                    These and many more buzzwords related to better eating were trending big time at the in the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) annual trade show held in Chicago.

                                                                    “It’s OK to say the ‘h’ word now,” observes Cynthia Harriman, Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies for the Whole Grains Council.
                                                                    Harriman spoke at one of the educational sessions focused on nutrition and healthy living. While whole grains used to be minority players on menus, Harriman says they’re center stage now. “It may surprise folks to know that the 45% of the rice ordered at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro is the brown rice.”

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                                                                    Chicago’s Kiki’s won an Innovation Award from the NRA for their Deep Dish Gluten-Free Pizza

                                                                    Registered dietitian Cheryl Dolven, Director of Health and Wellness for the Darden Restaurants says, “We have to change what’s in our pantry to change what’s on the plate. Our customers are asking for healthier items. At Darden we’re lowering calories and sodium and enhancing children’s menus with more vegetables.”

                                                                    So, joining the big bowls of pasta at Darden’s Olive Garden chain are dishes such as Chicken Abruzzi made with cannelloni beans and kale.

                                                                    Nutrition on the Menu
                                                                    The NRA exhibit hall showcased products operators need to address special dietary needs including gluten-free, allergy-friendly, vegetarian and vegan options.

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                                                                    Steve Schimoler, chef and owner of Crop Bistro & Bar in Cleveland says, “It’s not unusual for a table of six guests to announce that one can’t have raw onions, one has another allergy and one is a vegan.”

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                    Schimoler is a member of the Research Chefs Association; specialists in product development that meets specifications such as lower in sodium and sugar without sacrificing appeal.

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                                                                    Chobani chefs demonstrated ways to use Greek yogurt in savory sauces, soups and dishes.

                                                                    Dolven says, “We’ve got to show people that healthy foods can taste great.”

                                                                    What’s new on the menu? 
                                                                    Combing the exhibits I spotted sweet potato wraps, parsnip fries, Greek yogurt sold for savory recipes, meatless ‘meats’ such as a sprouted quinoa chia burger and a range of chicken, fish and meat substitutes from Gardein made with quinoa and other grains.

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                                                                    A fishless fish filet?

                                                                    “Protein is a big nutrition trend,” says registered dietitian Janet Helm author of the blog Nutrition Unplugged. “People want a variety of vegetable based proteins even if they’re not vegetarian or vegan.”

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                                                                    Janet Helm, Chief Nutrition Strategist for Weber Shandwick and author of Nutrition Unplugged blog with me as we present our session “Nutrition on the Menu: trends for restauranteurs.” Packed house by the way!

                                                                    But it’s not always easy catering to the health conscious consumer. They may be into Meatless Mondays one week and craving steaks on the Paleo Diet the next.

                                                                    Gluten-free was everywhere at the NRA Show but so was attention to artisanal breads.

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                                                                    Life is better with better bread!

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                    Long time critic of the restaurant industry lack of nutrition focus Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest told an audience gathered to listen to a panel discussing  the state of nutrition in the restaurants today, “I think things are moving in the right direction but very slowly.”

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                                                                    Years ago, Jacobson dubbed fettuccine Alfredo ‘heart attack on a plate’ and continues to call for change, “Restaurants have got to cut the salt and add more fruits and vegetables.”

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                                                                    Well, you got it…one way or another!

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                      What’s Not on Menu?

                                                                        On the Menu

                                                                        Here’s some food for thought. No additives, no preservatives, no antibiotics, and no growth hormones. These phrases meant to highlight healthy intentions by focusing on what’s not on the menu are starting to overshadow nutrition information about what’s actually in the dishes we order at restaurants.

                                                                        According to marketing research from Technomic, the healthy halo for foods today is created not so much by touting the good nutrition they provide. It’s more about delivering against what consumers perceive as undesirable substances.

                                                                        “I am so exhausted by the dialogue that I think confuses and even scares consumers into eating in ways that are ultimately unhealthy and unattainable,” says Washington, D.C.-based registered dietitian Lisa Katic.

                                                                        Case in point. Burger places may boast about all-natural beef and never-frozen fries, but that doesn’t change the fact that the meal can serve up a day’s worth of fat and calories.

                                                                        “It seems that we are giving ourselves license to eat what we crave — big juicy burgers and a heaping pile of fries — if they are free of the current no-nos in the food supply,” says registered dietitian Christine Palumbo of Benedictine University in Chicago. “Do a reality check on portion sizes. Just because your burger is hormone-free, doesn’t mean it is calorie-free.”

                                                                        Words to watch

                                                                        When you see “we only use natural ingredients” listed on a menu, it might not mean what you think. The claim “natural” is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture only for labeling meat, poultry and eggs and does not include standards regarding farm practices. The term “organic” is closely regulated for use on all crops, livestock and agricultural products that meet USDA standards. Note that federal regulations have never permitted hormones or steroids in poultry, pork or goat.

                                                                        According to Technomic research, other restaurant terms associated with healthfulness include “homemade,” “house-made,” “real” and “made from scratch.” But the ice cream and bacon can be house-made, and the heavy cream and sea salt can be real. If weight management or heart health is a concern, these terms are not the perfect guide to finding the healthiest choice on menus.

                                                                        So isn’t it a good thing that restaurants are meeting demand for what consumers perceive as healthy for people and the planet?

                                                                        “It is in the eye of the beholder if these production factors are a misplaced concern or not,” says registered dietitian Melissa Musiker, who specializes in food and nutrition policy at APCO Worldwide in Washington, D.C.

                                                                        She says, “In my mind, I think we’d make more progress by encouraging the availability of more healthy substitutions — salad or fruit instead of fries, unsweetened ice tea or even smaller portion size options.”

                                                                        Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and author of “Southern Living: The Slim Down South Cookbook.” Email her at carolyn@carolynoneil.com.

                                                                          Yeah Spring! Farmer’s Markets Open!

                                                                            Spring signals new beginnings and the re-opening of area farmers markets.

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                                                                            Farmers meet shoppers one-on-one to sell their just-picked crops and suggest the best ways to cook them. Friends and neighbors, many with kids and dogs in tow, chat about the week and compare purchases.

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                                                                             Checking Georgia Organic’s list of what’s in season for April, shoppers can expect to see asparagus, English peas, radishes, spring onions and leafy greens such as arugula, kale, cabbage and collards.

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                                                                            Crop O’Goodness

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                                                                            There’s often a good crop of freshly baked breads and locally made cheeses, sausages and honey at markets, too. Don’t know what to do with fresh turnips or kale? Most farmers markets have weekly chef demonstrations.

                                                                            Chef Kevin Gillespie of Gun Show in Atlanta gets ready to roll!
                                                                            Chef Kevin Gillespie of Gun Show in Atlanta gets ready to roll!

                                                                            At the Peachtree Road Farmers Market at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Buckhead, chef Jeb Aldrich of 4th and Swift Restaurant recently showed shoppers how to create a kale salad with turnips, oyster mushrooms and spring onions. Produce came from Heritage Farms and Burge Organics, both with booths at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market.

                                                                            Burge Farm farmer!
                                                                            Burge Farm farmer!

                                                                            Harvest of Benefits

                                                                            The taste benefits drive flavor-seekers to farmers markets but the health benefits of enjoying freshly picked fruits and vegetables are a big attraction, too.

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                                                                            Add to that the good feeling of supporting local farmers and food producers with your purchases and farmers markets are a great place to shop.  The USDA’s National Farmers Market Proclamation lists multiple benefits including, “..farmers markets play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support the sustainability of family farms, revitalize communities, and provide opportunities for farmers and consumers to interact.”

                                                                             

                                                                            The Heritage farm - all in the family!
                                                                            The Heritage farm – all in the family!

                                                                            To Market, To Market:

                                                                            -Try to get there early to buy the pick of the crop. Look on line for a list of farmers and food producers who attend each market to help plan ahead.

                                                                            -Jump into the season: what’s seasonal now? If it is in season it will taste best and often cost less.

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                                                                            –Try varieties of fruits and vegetables you’ve never tasted before. Talk to the farmers, if they grew it, they are happy to tell you how to cook it. Don’t be shy. Move aside chefs!  Farmers are the new food celebrities.

                                                                            -Buy some ripe, and buy some not so ripe, so you have a nice selection for the week. For instance, with tomatoes and peaches, choose really ripe ones to eat that day. Choose firmer ones that will ripen on the kitchen counter to eat a few days later.

                                                                            -Imperfections can taste best. The ‘ugliest’ tomato is likely to be an heirloom variety with more tomato flavor.

                                                                            -Bring your own reusable bags. Make sure they’re clean because dirty bags can contaminate your perfect produce.

                                                                            – Have small bills in cash for faster transactions. Some farmers take credit cards, but cash is easier for all.

                                                                            -Note that many farmers market accept EBT/SNAP benefits (food stamps). Some double the value through a partnership with Wholesome Wave Georgia to make healthy food accessible to more shoppers.

                                                                            -Food safety is important. Look for perishable foods such as eggs, cheeses, yogurts, meats, seafood and sausages displayed on ice or in refrigerated coolers.  And have an insulated cooler with ice in your car to place perishable purchases. For more good stuff on food safety and nutrition visit BestFoodFacts.

                                                                            -Enjoy the experience. In general, farmers markets are leisurely, and most people peruse the goods at a relaxed pace. Have fun!!

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                                                                            Wholesome Wave helps shoppers using Snap benefits ( food stamps ) stretch their dollars to afford more fresh produce. Now that’s a crop of goodness!

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                              Wonderful Wyoming

                                                                                Appetite for the Tetons

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                                                                                 A spring break visit to Jackson Hole promised moose sightings, snowy mountain vistas, world class skiing and plenty of cowboy boots. Add herds of grazing elk, galleries popping with contemporary western art and tickets to the see the Moose hockey team slap shots across the ice at the Snow King Center and you’ve got the makings of a wonderful time in Wyoming.

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                                                                                My kids Katie and Jack with me at the Moose hockey game in Jackson, WY
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                                                                                Go Moose!! Note the billboard ad on the wall for broken limb repair!
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                                                                                My friend Liz McDermott and I with…of course…the cuddly Moose mascot!

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

                                                                                 

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                                                                                Jason WIlliams and I stalking the wild elk herds.

                                                                                “There’s no way I could live in the city again,” says Jason Williams, owner of Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris. A trained geographer and skilled wildlife photographer, Williams toured us through the National Elf Refuge handing out binoculars and pointing out big horn sheep and telling us about the wolves and bears in the surrounding Grand Tetons.

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                                                                                Me, Beatrix Kondor, Liz McDermott and the Grand Tetons!
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                                                                                Liz found a moose in the town of Jackson! #antlersarein

                                                                                Wildlife is part of the landscape. In fact, the speed limit on area roads goes from 55 mph during the day to 45 mph at night so drivers have more time to avoid hitting a moose or other animal.

                                                                                Leaning Local on the Menu

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                                                                                Birthday lunch for Bea at the Handlebar at Four Seasons Resort in Teton Mountain Village. We loved the burger there!!! Wyoming angus beef.

                                                                                 

                                                                                The menus on restaurants feature local fare including craft beers, cheeses, wild huckleberries and game meats.

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                                                                                The window at Local restaurant in town square of Jackson.

                                                                                “Buffalo and elk have a huge draw on the menu,” says executive chef Kevin Humphreys of Spur Restaurant at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village.  He says, “Buffalo is similar to grass fed beef. It’s a lean meat and has a dry aged beef flavor.”

                                                                                Originally from St. Simons, Humphreys moved to Jackson fifteen years ago. “I came out for a summer and fell in love with it.”

                                                                                Popular dishes on the menu at Spur include buffalo sliders and fries covered in elk gravy, a play on the Canadian dish called poutine.

                                                                                 

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                                                                                Yup, fries with elk gravy….

                                                                                “We braise buffalo and elk for seven hours and then shred into the gravy and top with a local farm house cheddar,” says Humphreys.

                                                                                At Hayden’s Post in the Snow King Resort state products proudly star on the menu such as a Wyoming Whiskey Manhattan and a Wyoming Angus Beef Burger on buns made by artisan bakers at 460 Bread located just across the border in Idaho.

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                                                                                Couldn’t resist this little guy! Hello from a local!

                                                                                “There’s an emerging dining scene here and the majority of restaurants use local ingredients as much as possible,” says Humphreys. “I like to use beer from Snake River Brewing to make an ale mustard and to braise buffalo.”

                                                                                There’s even a restaurant called Local. On the menu there – seared coffee rubbed elk medallions with a huckleberry demi-glace.

                                                                                In the summer months, when visitors flock to hike, bike, and go fly-fishing and river rafting there’s plenty of trout on the menu and locally grown vegetables.

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                                                                                The bloody mary with cured bacon garnish at Spur.

                                                                                If you’re not game for game, the Jackson dining scene is diverse.

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                                                                                Bin-22 is a wine and tapas bar with charcuterie platters and creative salads.

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                                                                                Gavin Fine welcomes Liz, me and Bea to Bin 22!!

                                                                                The menu at Il Villaggio Osteria features Mediterranean fare for mountain appetites including house made fennel sausage for pizzas and pastas and dark chocolate “salami” for dessert.

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                                                                                Chocolate salami- what a great idea! Thank you Gavin Fine, owner of the Fine Dining group of restaurants including Bin 22 and il village osteria and the Kitchen where my daughter Katie will be working this summer. (:

                                                                                The fresh cold air and abundance of outdoor activities can really ramp up an appetite for mealtime in the mountains.

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                                                                                Jackson Hole Mountain Resort as seen from the cozy fire on the terrace at Handebar.

                                                                                Allison Arthur, an editor of Dishing, which is a guide to dining around Jackson Hole and Teton Valley, says there are advantages to living with chilly temperatures, “Your body has to work harder to stay warm, and you can consume more calories. Not that we need another excuse to eat and drink but every little bit helps.”

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                                                                                Something for everyone on the menu in Jackson, WY. Three different bubbles at Bin 22 for Beatrix, Liz and me.

                                                                                Game On Nutrition

                                                                                Both buffalo (bison) and elk are lean meats with less than 200 calories per four ounce serving. As with beef and lamb, bison and elk are good sources of vitamin B12 and the minerals iron and zinc.

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                                                                                My favorite salad at Bin 22. I’ll be back…..this summer.