7 Foods You Should Always Have in Your Pantry

Christa Sgobba wrote in Silver Sneakers by Tivity Health that maintaining a well-stocked pantry is vital if you want to eat healthy. Think about it: When hunger hits, whatever’s in reach is what goes on your plate.

“If you don’t have healthy items on hand, you’re more likely to pick a convenience food, order takeout, or run out for fast food or to a restaurant,” says Nathan Myers, R.D., a clinical dietitian at James J. Peters VA Medical Center and an adjunct professor of clinical nutrition at New York University. “Most restaurant food and convenience foods like frozen meals and the stuff you pop in the microwave generally have a worse nutritional profile than something you might put together yourself, even if it’s something simple.”

Keeping certain staples on hand means you’ll always have a healthy meal at your fingertips. And if you stock smartly, you could be doing your body some big favors. The shelf-stable options below will help you replenish after your favorite gym workout or SilverSneakers class. And they’ll deliver some surprising health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease, healthier blood sugar, and natural pain relief.

Open up your pantry. If these foods aren’t there for the taking, it’s time to go grocery shopping.

1. Low-Sodium Canned Beans

The type—garbanzo, black, or pinto, for instance—is up to your taste buds. They can all add heft to any soup or salad, says Kristin Willard, R.D.N., a dietitian who specializes in senior nutrition in Chico, California.

Canned beans are not only affordable and versatile, but they’re also nutritional powerhouses with disease-fighting antioxidants and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Best of all, a ½-cup serving of cooked black beans has 7 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber.

Why that’s good: The combo of fiber and protein helps the glucose (sugar) from the starch of the beans to be slowly released into the bloodstream. While simple carbs—including processed foods like cookies, cereal, and refined grains—release sugar into the bloodstream very quickly, beans keep you full for a long time and help control blood sugar levels.

Choose a can that has “low sodium” on the label, and rinse them before you serve, Willard says. A study in the Journal of Culinary Science and Technology found that draining and rinsing canned beans can cut their sodium content by 41 percent.

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Junk food: Eating for two while Lactating leads to Obesity

College of DuPage Nursing Student Syeda Tariq researched that according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), at least one in five children in the US between the ages of 6 to 19 years is currently obese. The rate of childhood obesity since the 1970s has at least tripled, 1 and recent research suggests the time for prevention begins during pregnancy. Dr Stéphanie Bayol from Science Daily, found that consuming large quantities of junk food during pregnancy and/or while breastfeeding may impair normal appetite regulation and encourage the desire for junk food in the offspring. According to the CDC, an extra 300 kcal/day are recommended during pregnancy, and 500 kcal/day while breastfeeding, however, this is not the time for binge eating or consuming junk food. These temptations are relatively normal due to hormonal changes or a lack of knowledge regarding healthy food choices, but unhealthy eating at these crucial times in the child’s life may contribute to childhood obesity. Research also indicates that obesity during childhood may lead to obesity as an adult and increase the likelihood of high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint complications, or even cancer. Obese children may also suffer from self-esteem issues resulting in social isolation, depression, or bullying.

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Can America’s Favorite Drink Stop Diabetes? A New Study Says Yes!

College of DuPage Nursing Student Brian Gallagher writes that every morning millions of Americans wake up and have a cup – or more – of coffee, to get their day started. Does this simple act keep diabetes at bay? A recent study, published in the, Journal of Natural Products, by Fredrik Brustad Mellbeye et al., says that it does. Mellbeye and colleagues followed up on previous studies showing a link between the consumption of coffee and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2DM).

Original studies showed that four cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of developing T2DM, originally thought to be from caffeine, although, this was later disproven when the same effects were observed from decaffeinated coffee. According to Mellbeye et al., a compound in coffee called, cafestol, increases the secretion of insulin, thereby, increasing glucose uptake in the cells similar to certain commonly prescribed anti-diabetic drugs. Insulin is necessary to transport glucose into cells for use as body fuel.

Mellbey et al., studied two groups of rats with differing cafestol levels; they then compared blood glucose levels and insulin secretory capacity between the groups. After ten weeks both groups had lower glucose levels and an improved insulin secretory capacity, when compared to the control group. Interestingly the compound cafestol was also found to be less harmful to the human body than the traditional anti-diabetic medications; there was no incidence of hypoglycemia or low glucose levels which is a common side effect from anti-diabetic medications. Read more

The D-A-S-H Diet

College of DuPage Nursing Student Michael Zaremba shared that high blood pressure (hypertension) is a common medical problem in America. Just how common you might be asking? Hypertension affects 1 out of every 3 American adults. In fact, 1 out of every 6 adults with hypertension do not even know that they have the disease. High blood pressure can lead to numerous health problems including heart attack, stroke and kidney issues.

Many individuals with hypertension have no symptoms initially. Diagnosis of hypertension can be made by under the guidance of your General Practitioner or Primary Care Provider. He or she will have you come to their office for blood pressure screenings regularly and monitor your blood pressure numbers. If a diagnosis of hypertension is confirmed, you can take several steps to improve your cardiovascular health. Some interventions include exercise, medicine and changing your lifestyle factors.

One of the most important steps to improving your cardiovascular health and blood pressure numbers is making slight modifications to your diet. By using a specially designed D-A-S-H diet you can treat your blood pressure with or without the aid of medication. The D-A-S-H diet stands for “Dietary Approaches to Slowing Hypertension” and is recommended by the American Heart Association.

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The Truth About Celery

Celery as a culinary plant produces a root, called celery root or celeriac, which has a nutty, potato-like flavor. It’s usually peeled and mashed. There are also celery seeds, which come from mature celery plants, and are dried and used as a spice, particularly in pickling. Most common are the stalks and leaves — though the leaves are often removed in grocery store bunches. Both are edible in full. The leaves have a ton of flavor but they’re bitter, making them a great addition to soups or chopped fine into salads. The stalks are mild, crisp and herbaceous — in short, the perfect snack.

Those seeking weight loss will love celery’s low-calorie count — there are only 10 calories in a hearty foot-long stalk. (Would you like to burn those 10 calories? Try chewing gum for an hour. Feel the burn!)

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Tis’ The Season for Fresh Veggies & Fruit

Sue, Rachel & Yash at Health Track Sports Wellness shared in their recent newsletter that we are at the height of fresh summer fruits and vegetables. Take advantage of the season to visit a French Market or Farmers Market. This is a great opportunity to expose your kids to new and interesting produce.

With the variety of choices comes a great opportunity to fill your plate in a new and different way: “backwards.” Most of us fill our plates with the carbs first, leaving less room for the nutrient rich fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Try loading up with the fruits and vegetables first then add the lean protein, which leaves a smaller area for the carbs like noodles and rice. This way, you have lots of room for your fruits and vegetables, which provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber and even water to help nourish your body.  Add some activity at Health Track and you have a recipe for healthy living!

Here’s a recipe they shared for Avocado toast from the Food Network

Hint:There are two secrets to these simple avocado toasts: rubbing the bread with garlic for just a hint of flavor and adding a pop of crunchy sea salt on top.

Ingredients – Vegetarian   –  Serves 4

Produce
  • 1 8-ounce ripe avocado, ripe pitted and peeled
  • 1 clove Garlic
Baking & Spices
  • 1 Red pepper flakes
  • 1 Salt and freshly ground black pepper, Fine
  • 1 Sea salt, Flaky
Bread & Baked Goods
  • 4 slices Whole grain or whole wheat bread
Dairy
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil or unsalted butter, extra-virgin

Recipe for Success: Changing the Way People Eat Their Veggies

Gracie Cavnar, the CEO of Recipe for Success Foundation founded Recipe for Success ten years ago after she became involved in a campaign to remove junk food vending machines from elementary schools in Texas because she knew the power of marketing to young children. During this campaign, she became aware of the childhood obesity epidemic and diseases related to weight issues. This prompted her to found Recipe for Success, and use her newfound knowledge of the diet-related issues affecting millions across America, as a way to change the minds of children about eating healthy food. Ten years later, Recipe for Success has grown to a national footprint, with many initiatives. They produce programs such as hands-on cooking and gardening, healthy community calls to action, school contests, healthy food access, cookbooks, and multi-media projects.

Cavnar worked with professional chefs, scientists, nutritionists, gardeners, and teachers to develop grade-specific, hands-on curriculum for learning in the garden and culinary classrooms. According to Recipe for Success, after one year in their Seed-To-Plate Nutrition Education™ program, children are eating an average of 30 percent more fruits and vegetables.

In 2010, after seeing their impact on 20,000 Houston children through their Seed-To-Plate Nutrition Education™, the Obama administration asked Cavnar to expand Recipe for Success to a national scale. “It took us two years to really find a way to scale our programming in a sustainable way,” said Cavnar. In 2012, Recipe for Success launched their Affiliate Partnershipsfor schools across the country. “Now, you can become an Affiliate Partner, and we will train, certify and support your instructors with a robust library of curriculum, webinars, social sharing, and trainings,” said Cavnar.

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Bullies use a small but powerful weapon to torment allergic kids: peanuts

Eating Fresh Fruits and Veggies Is Easy When They’re Relatively Cheap

Sarah Chaney posted in the Wall Street Journal that in the fresh versus processed food wars, fresh fruits and vegetables are winning, thanks in part to their relatively cheap price tags.

Since November 2008, the consumption of fresh fruits has grown 16.2%, while consumption of fresh vegetables is up 20.6%. Consumption of processed fruits and vegetables increased only 9.9% during the same time period, notes Eugenio J. AlemánWells Fargo senior economist, in a new report.

“Consumers have rationally reacted to much higher prices on the processed side in relation to the fresh side,” Mr. Alemán said in an interview. “In relative terms, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables are cheaper today than processed fruits and vegetables are.”

Processed fruits and veggies are in the “freezer aisle,” while fresh are not frozen, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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