Monthly Archives: September 2016

Caught the gardening bug early

“It wasn’t that much. It was like a few tomato plants, a pepper plant, and a lettuce,” Katie says of her “salad garden.”

Of course it may not seem like much now to this ambitious seventh grader, who turned her passion for planting and picking into a thriving non-profit organization that manages nearly 20 gardens to help to feed the homeless and hungry through local shelters and soup kitchens. The group, Katie’s Krops is featured on the next episode of Everyday Health airing October 1 or 2 on your local ABC station.

And it all got started with a not-so-small cabbage.

Planting the Seed of Change — Literally

When Katie, now 13, was in third grade, her school participated in the Bonnie Plants’ Third Grade Cabbage Program, which provides students with cabbage plants to grow to win a $1,000 scholarship (and bragging rights, natch).

“We planted it and treated it like every other plant in the garden,” Katie recalls. “But it ended up growing to be so much bigger than every other plant.”

In fact, the cabbage (an O.S. Cross variety, known for producing giant heads) ultimately weighed in at a staggering 40 pounds — and won Katie the contest.

But after the initial cheers and congratulations, there was the question of what exactly to do with a 40-pound cabbage plant. After all, serving it to Katie’s own family of four — or even her classroom — would result in a waste of perfectly good and wholesome food.

That’s when Katie had her light bulb moment.

“My dad had always told us not to waste because there are people out there that weren’t fortunate enough to have a hot meal on their table every night,” Katie says. “So I thought, why not donate my cabbage to those people.”

For her mom, Stacy Stagliano, the moment was a proud one. “She grew so attached to that cabbage,” Stacy remembers. “As it grew bigger and bigger it was like her little baby almost.”

To find the perfect home for her cabbage, Stacy searched online for “vegetable donation” and discovered Tri-County Family Ministries in North Charleston, S.C. Katie vividly remembers the day she and her mom went to deliver the massive vegetable. When they pulled up to the kitchen at the shelter, hundreds of people stood in line waiting to get in.

“Katie’s jaw just dropped and she was asking a million questions like, ‘Is this really the only meal they get?'” Stacy says. “When we took the cabbage out, all these people came over asking where it came from and if Katie really grew it.”

A great way to remember

Ever wish there was a quick-reference guide to remind you of the basics of good nutrition and healthy eating? If it’s tough for you to track how many grains, meats, fruits, veggies, and dairy products you need each day, just think back to the food groups or food pyramid that we learned about as kids. Today’s food pyramid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is new and improved, with even more great information to help everyone eat their way to good health.

The Food Pyramid for Nutrition Guidance: The Changes

Figuring out the food groups has actually become a little easier in recent years. “The look of the food pyramid has changed,” notes Sandra Meyerowitz, MPH, RD, a nutritionist, online nutritional coach, and owner of Nutrition Works in Louisville, Ky. Vertical stripes replace the old blocks.

The changes were made, she says, to make the food pyramid easier to use. “People can take a quick look and understand without going into too much detail,” says Meyerowitz. “The stripes on the pyramid are of varying widths, and that’s to represent that you need more of some foods and less of others.” For instance, the food pyramid stripes are thicker for grains, fruits, and vegetables to emphasize their importance and thinner for oils and meats because they are to be eaten more sparingly.

It’s important to remember though that the food pyramid is meant to be a guide to good nutrition, not a set of hard and fast rules. “The pyramid is based on the average adult,” says Meyerowitz. “It doesn’t take into consideration special dietary concerns or children.”

The Food Pyramid for Nutrition Guidance: How to Use It

The new pyramid format gives you daily quantity totals for each of the food groups, then allows you to divide those amounts up into however many servings you want — of course, the more servings, the smaller each one will be.

According to Meyerowitz, once you become familiar with the food pyramid and the different types of food groups it contains, there are quick ways to translate the nutrition recommendations directly to your plate. Meyerowitz suggests mentally breaking your plate into quarters at each meal. One half of your plate should be covered with vegetables, she says. One quarter should be taken up with protein, and the last quarter with whole grains. Think of fruit as a side dish or even dessert. “It’s an easy way without using any calculations or measurements to know you’re on the right track. The hallmarks of good nutrition are balance, variety, and moderation,” explains Meyerowitz.

The Food Pyramid for Nutrition Guidance: A Snapshot

Here’s a breakdown of the food pyramid guidelines, which now list total daily amounts in each category that you can assign to meals and snacks throughout the day:

  • Grain Group: six ounce-equivalents or servings each day. Choose at least three that are whole grain.
  • Vegetable Group: 2.5 cups total for five servings each day. Choose a variety of vegetables of different colors, including dark green and orange.
  • Fruit Group: 2 cups total for four servings each day. Choose a variety of fruits of different colors.
  • Milk Group: 3 cups each day. Yogurt, milk, and cheese (low-fat or fat-free versions are best).
  • Meats and Beans Group: 5.5 ounces total for two or three servings each day. Lean meats, chicken, eggs, nuts, dried beans and peas, and fish.
  • Oils: six teaspoons or servings each day. Choose mono- and polyunsaturated oils.

Drinks at mealtimes linked to careless eating habits

Drinking is associated with a poor diet, a new study says.

Spanish researchers surveyed more than 12,000 adults aged 18 to 64 about their drinking and eating habits. They found that heavy drinking, binge drinking, a preference for hard liquor and even drinking at mealtimes were associated with poor adherence to major nutrition guidelines.

Although drinking during mealtimes is traditionally associated with good health, the researchers found that this was not true if the drinkers ate carelessly.

“Our results are of relevance because they show that drinking at mealtimes is associated with insufficient intake of healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and with excessive intake of animal protein,” said study corresponding author Jose Lorenzo Valencia-Martin, a doctor at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, said in a journal news release.

“In Spain, alcohol is frequently drunk during meals, particularly lunch and dinner. Because of this, and the lower prevalence of abstainers, our findings apply to most adults in Spain and in other Mediterranean countries in Europe,” he added.

Valencia-Martin pointed out that heavy drinkers were likely to develop liver disease, and that many tended to favor high-energy fast foods high in trans fat. Unfortunately, a diet high in trans fats might also contribute to liver disease, he said.

Excessive drinking and an unhealthy diet are two major preventable factors that contribute to health problems in developed nations, the researchers noted.

“Drinking alcohol may reduce maintaining a healthy diet, leading to adverse metabolic effects which, in turn, add to those directly produced by alcohol,” Valencia-Martin said.

“Alcohol may indirectly contribute to several chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease or cancer,” he added.

Whats The Benefits of Honey

Every September, Jews all over the world celebrate the Jewish New Year with a slew of traditional foods, including apples and honey and honey cake to symbolize a sweet year ahead. This tradition dates back hundreds (if not thousands) of years, but there’s more to it than good wishes — honey can also be used as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments.

Ring in the Jewish year 5,773, (and the tail end of National Honey Month!) by taking advantage of the amazing health benefits of honey — and try some great seasonal honey recipes that Jews and non-Jews alike will enjoy this fall.

  • Immune booster: Honey’s antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties can help your immune system defend you against illness, including the common cold.
  • Weight-loss aid: Honey may help dieters lose weight when used in moderation as a replacement for other sweeteners. Keep in mind that one tablespoon of honey has about 63 calories, so use it sparingly.
  • Digestion aid: Honey is a popular home remedy (though the science behind this isn’t conclusive) for all kinds of digestive problems, including constipation and ulcers. For a homemade digestion aid, try tea with honey and lemon.
  • Cold remedy: Many people swear by honey’s cold and throat-soothing properties. Add honey to tea or hot water with lemon for an instant throat soother.
  • Anti-Inflammatory agent: In a 2005 study, topical application of honey was found to reduce mucositis, or inflammation of the digestive tract, in 85 percent of patients studied. A drink made from honey and apple cider vinegar is popularly used as a home remedy for arthritic pain or joint inflammation.
  • Anti-bacterial treatment: Honey has long been used as a topical anti-bacterial treatment for minor cuts, burns, and scrapes. Although the scientific community is still undecided about how effective this treatment is, preliminary data suggests that honey, applied in bulk to a wound, may indeed help prevent infection.
  • Skin soother: Honey is a popular ingredient, along with beeswax, in natural lotions and lip balms. Its antimicrobial properties are thought to make it a good choice as a home acne treatment. Combine honey with warm water and oatmeal for an all-natural skin scrub.
  • Energy booster: Honey, like all sugars, can provide a temporary energy boost and spike in blood glucose, and it’s a healthier option than many sugar substitutes. Research shows that diabetics can eat limited amounts of honey, too, provided they’re closely monitoring blood sugar levels.

The Healthier Option

The gluten-free craze is no new trend. For nearly a decade people have been removing the protein from their menu – many with the hope of dropping a few extra pounds.

And the restrictive diet trend is still going strong. Case in point: Pizza Hut has finally hopped on the gluten-free bandwagon, announcing that it will offer gluten-free pies at almost half of their United States chains by the end of the month.

While promising news for those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance who want to enjoy an occasional slice, there’s no doubt that those looking for a healthier option may be tempted by the new menu addition.

Despite years of debate, it’s still a common misconception that removing gluten from your diet is a quick-fix weight loss trick. But unless you have a gluten intolerance, choosing only gluten-free foods is not necessarily going to benefit you and could certainly make meal planning more difficult.

“A gluten-free diet is a diet that does not include gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley,” says Tricia Thompson, RD, a dietitian based in Manchester, Mass., who focuses on developing gluten-free eating programs for people with celiac disease. “It is a medically prescribed diet for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.”

People who are sensitive to gluten may have gastrointestinal distress to varying degrees as well as joint pain and skin rashes. Thompson says that many people are living with some degree of gluten sensitivity but have never been diagnosed, which is why you may have heard from friends that they felt much better after cutting the gluten out of their diet.

But Thompson emphasizes it is a much better idea to get a simple blood test from your doctor before you take that step. That way, you will know for sure if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Be aware that getting tested after you have switched to gluten-free foods won’t reveal your sensitivity. You must be testing while you are still eating a non-restricted diet.