Confessions of a Juice Drinker

RIMG6810You would have thought I had committed a heinous crime when I admitted to a group of women that I frequently drink orange juice in the morning.  I know that eating whole fruit is a better choice, but I like juice.

Their astonished comments were accompanied by what they thought was a known fact that there was lots of sugar in juice. OK I admit this. One eight-ounce glass of juice contains 21 grams of sugar. However, if you drink only pure 100% juice, then that sugar is all from the fruit itself, not added sugar.

After their admonishments, I’m still trying to convince myself that drinking juice is acceptable. One of my rationalizations is that I make an effort to seek out juice that has added calcium and vitamin D. At least I’m getting those extra nutrients.

I also admit that I like lots of pulp. The pulp in orange juice is real orange pulp, but it doesn’t amount to any significant fiber. That said, I still like it. The majority of orange juice sold is pulp free, so the pulp is actually removed at the beginning of the process and then added back into juices that have pulp.

It takes about three oranges to make a cup of juice. Juice allows for a lot of calories to be consumed quickly. There are 71 calories in one orange, yet 8 ounces of orange juice provides 112 calories. If I ate three oranges instead of drinking the juice, I certainly would feel a lot fuller! Part of that is due to the three grams of dietary fiber in each orange.RIMG6848

It seems I’m not the only person who likes juice. According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 1/3 of all fruit consumption in America is in the form of juice. The most commonly consumed fruit juices are orange, apple, and grape.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we “shift to mostly whole fruits, in nutrient-dense forms.” The guidelines also say that “although fruit juice can be part of a healthy eating pattern, it is lower than whole fruit in dietary fiber and when consumed in excess can contribute extra calories. Therefore, at least half of the recommended amount of fruit eaten daily should come from whole fruits.” They also go on to say that when juices are consumed, they should be 100% juice, without added sugar.

Here’s a tip when it comes to children and juice: the amount of fruit juice allowed in the USDA Food Patterns for young children aligns with the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Young children should consume no more than 4 to 6 ounces of 100% fruit juice per day.

RIMG6844Let’s end with a comparison:

Whole fruit: offers fewer calories for the satiety it provides, features more dietary fiber, takes longer to eat and therefore provides more eating satisfaction

Juice: offers a quick and easy way to reach daily fruit servings and could be enriched with needed nutrients

Here are the take home messages:

  • Seek moderation in all things.
  • Watch the amount of juice consumed.
  • Make that “shift” to whole fruit whenever possible.

Some habits are hard to break.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

PS Here’s a printable handout that features the highlights of today’s post.

Juice

Handout Sneak Peek: Vitamin and Mineral Chart

You know what has been flying off the shelves lately?

The Vitamin and Mineral Chart. This poster highlights particular foods that are rich in certain vitamins and minerals. Since most consumers need to eat a more plant-based diet in order to avoid excess saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars while somehow managing to get enough nutrients in the calories allotted, it’s wise to have a few materials that could make that transition easier. This chart has been an eye-catching tool for inspiring and maintaining motivation, along with teaching key nutrient lessons.

As a special bonus, I want to share the printable educational handout that comes with the poster. Normally you could only access this if you had already bought the poster, but today I’m going to make an exception. The Eat Your Nutrients handout features macronutrients and micronutrients alike, highlighting the health benefits of these vital food elements.

Enjoy!

Vitamin A: Prevents eye problems. Necessary for normal vision, immune function, and reproduction.

B-Vitamins: This group includes B-1 Thiamin, B-2 Riboflavin, B-3 Niacin, B-5 Pantothenic Acid, B-6 Pyridoxine, B-7 Biotin, B-9 Folic Acid, and B-12 Choline. Necessary to metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and amino acids. Activates B-6 and folate, which is essential for red blood cell growth and maturity.

Vitamin C: Antioxidant that protects against cell damage; boosts immune systems; forms collagen in the body.

Vitamin D: Aids absorption and usage of calcium and phosphorous ; necessary for growth and calcification of bones and teeth. The best source is the sun.

Vitamin E: Acts as an antioxidant that protects cells against damage.

Vitamin K: Important for blood clotting and bone health.

Calcium: Essential in bone and teeth formation, muscle contraction, absorption of B-12, blood clotting, and growth.

Copper: Necessary for absorption, storage, and metabolism of iron; key to formation of red blood cells.

Iodine: Regulates rate of energy production and body weight. Promotes growth and health of hair, nails, skin, and teeth.

Iron: Hemoglobin and myoglobin formation, oxygen and CO2 transfer, red blood cell formation, and energy release.

Magnesium: Helps heart rhythm, muscle and nerve function, and bone strength.

Phosphorous: Helps cells to function normally. Helps your body produce energy. Key for bone growth.

Potassium: Important in maintaining normal fluid balance; helps control blood pressure; reduces risk of kidney stones.

Selenium: An essential trace element; protects cells from damage; regulates thyroid hormone.

Sodium: Primarily controls the body’s osmotic pressure, hydration, and electrical activities.

Zinc: Supports the body’s immune and nerve function; important in reproduction.

Protein: A necessary major nutrient in the diet, providing amino acids, which are necessary for growth and development.

Carbohydrate: Provides basic source of energy; stored as glycogen in all tissues of the body, especially the liver and muscles.

Fat: Also known as adipose tissue. Serves as an energy reserve.

Fiber: Aids digestion, helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol.

And here’s a free printable copy of the handout!

Whats In Your Food Handout

Looking for more nutrition education materials? Here are some of the newest resources to hit the store!

Digital MyPlate Poster and MyPlate Food Photo Collection

Sodium Math Handout

Floor Sticker: Make Your Salad a Rainbow

A Fresh Look at Hummus

There are several foods in my refrigerator on a regular basis that weren’t there five years ago. One of these is hummus.

HummusI’ve been buying hummus as an alternative to sour cream or mayo-based dips, and it has now become my favorite appetizer. I try to “walk the talk” as a health educator, and so I put out healthful snacks when we have people over. Hummus goes very well with fresh vegetables, whole grain crackers, or baked pieces of pita bread.

Recently I wondered if I could make my own hummus. Some of this is just my curiosity, but I was also looking for a way to save some money/calories. The commercial versions of hummus are at least $2 for just 12 ounces and declare that 50 calories are in just 2 tablespoons. (This is still better than the typical French onion dip that averages 60 calories per 2 tablespoons, with 75% of the calories from fat). But I was looking for something even more healthful.

ChickpeasThe basic ingredient in hummus is the humble chickpea (a.k.a. garbanzo beans or cece beans). Chickpeas themselves are powerhouses of nutrients. They are high in protein and dietary fiber while staying low in fat and sodium. What a great base for this dish!

In addition to chickpeas, another traditional ingredient in hummus is tahini. Tahini is a paste that is made by grinding up sesame seeds. Not only is it expensive, but it’s really high in fat. According to the Nutrition Facts label on the jar, just 2 tablespoons of tahini contain 260 calories, and 200 of them are from fat! Wow! That adds up fast, especially when recipes call for 1/3 to 1/2 cup of tahini for each 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of chickpeas.

Now, when it comes to the ingredients, I prefer to take things a bit farther. Most of the hummus recipes I found start with a can of chickpeas. But I wanted to be even more in control of the ingredients in my hummus, so I got dried chickpeas. If you’ve never purchased them, dried chickpeas are with the other dried beans and peas in the grocery store. I soaked them overnight in water, brought everything to a boil on top of the stove, and finished cooking them for 5 hours on low in the slow cooker. Made this way, they were perfect. Chickpeas can be cooked for a shorter period of time on top of the stove, but the slow cooker was easy for me to start and then do something else while the chickpeas cooked.

Mixing It TogetherOnce I had finished preparing my chickpeas, I found that I got 8 cups of cooked beans out of a single pound of dried chickpeas. That’s about four times the amount of beans you’d get in one can. Plus, that larger amount costs the same as a small can of beans, and this version has no added sodium.

I was also impressed with the flavor — I found it to be so much better than the canned version.

Now that the chickpeas were ready to roll, I started to experiment with actual hummus recipes. I found one particularly intriguing recipe from the free recipe database at Food and Health Communications — this recipe used plain yogurt instead of tahini. I tried it that way and loved it, and what a savings in terms of calories and fat!

Hummus!From there, making hummus is a snap! I slowly processed all the ingredients in my food processor, adding more yogurt until I got the consistency I liked. After a few experiments, I found that I prefer Greek yogurt in my hummus because it offers a little more body than more traditional yogurts.

Once it was well blended, I seasoned my hummus with lots of garlic, lemon juice, and parsley. Drizzling it with a little sesame oil and sprinkling with toasted sesame seeds gives it a hint of tahini flavor and makes the presentation super appealing.

I guess I’m not a “hummus purist,” but I like this lower-cost and lower-fat version.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Want to offer your clients a guide to healthful, tasty hummus? Get a free PDF recipe right here! This page is an excerpt from The Home Run Cooking Book, which is a fantastic introduction to healthful cooking. It goes over kitchen tips and techniques, discusses cooking equipment, and offers the most popular healthful recipes, all of which have been rigorously tested and audience approved. It’s the perfect educational resource. Try this hummus and see for yourself!

Hummus Recipe

Remember, we are here when you want to look your very best right now. Here are some wonderful options to help encourage your clients to choose balanced diets…

Vitamins, Minerals, Fiber, MyPlate and Much More!

Nutrition Poster Value Set

This CD has our top 6 grocery PowerPoints, all in one place!

Healthful Shopping Presentation

The truth about sugary drinks!

Beverage Banner and Stand

Chickpeas, Garbanzo Beans, and Cece… Oh My!

I have to admit, chickpeas were one of those foods I could take or leave.

Yum! ChickpeasThe only time I ever really ate chickpeas was when they were in three bean salad or hummus. That all changed recently, when I started looking for a way to pep up our meals at home. Now these flavor and nutrient powerhouses have become a regular feature in our meal rotation.

So, what are chickpeas?

It turns out that these hearty little legumes go by many different names. Some folks call them chickpeas, while others insist on garbanzo beans as their moniker. The Italians call them cece. Don’t worry — no matter what you call them, these beans are delicious.

Hummus!The most common form of chickpeas are pale yellow in color, but they can also be black, brown, green, or red. Their flavor and texture have been described as somewhere between chestnuts and walnuts. When cooked, they have a creamy consistency with a mildly nutty flavor profile. This makes them the perfect base for spiced dishes and stronger flavors.

Originally from the Middle East, chickpeas are the most widely-consumed legume in the world. Did you know that? I was surprised!

More Chickpeas!The largest producers of chickpeas are India, Australia, Pakistan, and Turkey, but these beans can also be grown the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Chickpeas are legumes, which means that they have seed pods in the plants, and are similar to beans or peas. Each chickpea seedpod usually contains two to three edible peas.

So, why should you make chickpeas a part of your diet?

Well, for one thing, they are full of nutrients! A cup of cooked chickpeas contains 15 grams of protein, with only about 269 calories and 4 grams of fat. There is no cholesterol in chickpeas, and they are very low in sodium. They are also sources of folate, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Like other beans, they are a great source of dietary fiber (12 grams per serving). For a closer look at the nutrient profile of chickpeas, check out the post MyPlate Flavor Exploration: Beans and Peas.

But how can you make chickpeas a part of your diet?

Chickpeas can be purchased canned and ready-to-eat. This is convenient, but unless they are canned without salt, they are generally pretty high in sodium.

Chickpeas can also be purchased as dried beans. Like other dried beans, they need to be soaked before cooking and generally have a long cooking time. To cook dried chickpeas, drain them and rinse well to remove any foam. Set them in a big saucepan and add water in a 3:1 ratio (3 parts water for every 1 part dried chickpeas). Bring the whole shebang to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender. When I made chickpeas, I soaked them overnight and then cooked them on low in the slow cooker for five hours. I ended up with perfectly cooked beans!

Once cooked, chickpeas can be stored, covered, in the fridge for up to a week. Since one pound of chickpeas makes about 8 cups, I had lots of beans to use. Once you are open to experimenting, chickpeas can be used as you would other beans. I put them in salads, stews, soups, casseroles or ground as hummus.  Extra cooked beans can be frozen.

Some of my favorite chickpea recipes come from the Food and Health Free Recipe Database. Take a look…

No matter what they’re called, I’m glad I gave these little nutrition powerhouses a try. I’ll do it again!

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

For more health and cooking resources, check out the Nutrition Education Store. Here are some great options…

Fruit and Vegetable Wellness Challenge

Choose Wisely Poster

Home Run Cooking: Guide to Healthful and Delicious Home Cooking

We are here when you want to look your very best right now.

4 Breakfast Options for Everyone

Mornings are busy. That’s just how it is. But does that busyness mean that a healthful breakfast is impossible?

It doesn’t.

Yes, it might be impossible to sit down to a multi-course, elaborate breakfast each and every morning, but there are a surprising number of simple, balanced, and healthful breakfasts that can please the whole family. Let’s take a look at some top contenders.

BurritoBreakfast Option #1: Make Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast burritos are infinitely adaptable, easy to travel with, and great vehicles for healthful ingredients. Scramble some eggs or egg whites, add drained and rinsed canned beans and some salsa and you’ve got a great base for endless innovation. Sauté some peppers and onions to roll into the burritos, or bulk them up with cubes of sweet potato. You could also add nonfat plain Greek yogurt for a creamy tang. Plus, with a few basic ingredients, everyone can mix and match, ensuring a breakfast that can please a crowd without having to make at least 3 totally different entrees.

By prepping the ingredients the night before, you can make it even easier to make the burritos for breakfast. Just reheat everything while you scramble the eggs. You could even make and assemble breakfast burritos as a family and then freeze a bunch for later. All you’d need to do is reheat and go!

Here are some great ingredients that you can use in breakfast burritos. Which will you pick?

  • Scrambled eggs or egg whites
  • Scrambled tofu
  • Hot sauce
  • Salsa or pico de gallo
  • Drained and rinsed pinto or black beans
  • Cooked lentils
  • Shredded chicken
  • Sautéed peppers and onions
  • Brown rice
  • Cilantro
  • Tomatoes
  • Cubed sweet potatoes or potatoes

ParfaitBreakfast Option #2: Make Parfaits

You’ll minimize cleanup and maximize options with simple breakfast parfaits. And the best part is, everything is infinitely adaptable. Simply layer some granola, nonfat yogurt, and fruit in a glass and you’re good to go. Plus, you can make these in travel mugs if everyone really needs to get out the door in a hurry.

Here are a few fun combinations…

  • Strawberries, nonfat vanilla yogurt, and granola
  • Oranges, fortified soy yogurt, and oat cereal
  • Raspberries and blueberries, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and granola
  • Apples, nonfat plain yogurt with cinnamon, and oat cereal

With protein, calcium, and fiber — not to mention vitamins — these parfaits are nutrient powerhouses.

OatmealBreakfast Option #3: Make Oatmeal

Oatmeal doesn’t deserve it’s blah reputation. With a myriad of toppings, it is infinitely adaptable, and quick-cooking varieties come together speedily, which makes them winners for the morning routine.

If you make a big pot of oatmeal, everyone can top it with whatever they wish. Or you can make different types throughout the week.

Since I’m such a big fan of oatmeal, I’ve made quite a few variations. Here are some of my favorite free recipes…

Smoothie1Breakfast Option #4: Smoothies for Everyone

Here’s another option that can be varied infinitely. Try a few different combinations to find out which ones are best for your family. All you need is…

  • Liquid
    • Skim milk
    • Calcium-fortified soy milk
    • Orange juice
    • Water
    • Nut milk
    • Green tea
  • Fruit
    • Strawberries
    • Blueberries
    • Pineapple
    • Mango
    • Cherries
    • Oranges
    • Apples
    • Banana
  • Smoothie2Ice
  • Extras
    • Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    • Low-fat light vanilla yogurt
    • Peanut butter
    • Cocoa powder
    • Ground flaxseed
    • Cinnamon
    • Oats
    • Silken tofu

You can assemble these in the blender the night before, put the blender in the fridge overnight, then whirr everything together in the morning.

Oh, and for more smoothie inspiration, check out the free smoothie recipe collection.

Whew!

That was a lot of information about breakfast. Which options will your clients love? Which will you try? For a great recipe to help everyone get off on the right foot, try this Sunrise Smoothie, excerpted from our top-selling Home Run Meals Cookbook. The handout is free, it’s here, and it’s yours. Get your copy today!

Sunrise Smoothie Handout

If you like what you see in the handout, consider getting a copy of the Home Run Cooking Book. I wrote this book as the perfect introduction to healthful cooking, and included all of my favorite meals that have been home-runs for family and friends alike. This book walks its readers through grocery shopping, meal planning, proper knife use and safety, food safety, cooking with moist or dry heat, cooking basics, measuring basics, etc. Then it features a wide variety of guaranteed-hit recipes that have been rigorously tested and beautifully photographed, from breakfast to lunch to dinner, and even snacks and dessert! Get your book today!

Home Run Cooking

There are tons of other cooking resources in the Nutrition Education Store. Here are some of our newest bestsellers…

Learn to Cook Workbook

Kitchen Math and Measuring DVD

Portion Control Tearpad

Shopping Presentation

A Prune by Any Other Name

Let’s talk about prunes.

Dried PlumsI know, I know! This is not a topic that most people would consider for dinner conversation. But I do have a few prune stories.

We’ll start with a trip I took. A couple years ago, my mom and my sisters and I went on a cruise. I took advantage of the room service and ordered a bowl of stewed prunes for breakfast every day. My middle sister (always the one who isn’t afraid to say anything) asked, “Why did you order prunes? Are you having problems?”

That seems to be the general consensus about prunes — they have a reputation related to bowel movement, laxatives, and/or as a remedy for other digestive “problems.”

No, I wasn’t having “problems.” I just like prunes and hadn’t thought about buying them at home.

So. That was story #1. Here’s story #2.

We were having dinner at a neighbor’s home and got into a discussion of new foods and favorite things to eat. She was excited to share a new product that she just loved to put in salads.

She showed me the package. They were “dried plum” pieces.

I had to laugh. Those are prunes! Rebranded, of course, but prunes! Once I told my friend what I knew, she thought for a few seconds and then laughed with me. What great marketing.

It seems that back in 2001, the plum growers got together and petitioned the FDA to change the name of their dried fruit. Their argument was that “dried plum” has a more positive connotation than “prune.” The goal was to modernize the product and remarket it as a healthful snack food, instead of something that grandma ate when she needed a laxative. I guess it worked, because my friend bought them!

Of course, I had to go looking for dried plums too. I was surprised to find that while some of the products were in fact called dried plums, most of the items I saw were still called prunes. There were even individually-wrapped dried plums that were marketed as easy-to-take-with you snacks.

Plums. A Prettier Alternative.It’s interesting to note that the images on the packages of prunes are almost always pictures of fresh plums. You can see why they might choose plums instead of prunes. Just look at the photo above! Along with a bad image, prunes just aren’t very photogenic.

Now I’m not saying that dried plums don’t deserve their reputation as a laxative, because they do. A 1-cup serving of prunes has 12 grams of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. In other words, a 1-cup serving of prunes provides about 1/3 of the fiber that men need and almost half the amount that women need each day.

But then let’s not forget that prunes are dried fruit. That makes them a concentrated energy source. One cup of prunes or dried plums is loaded with 418 calories and 111 grams of total carbohydrates. They are also nutrient-dense, providing vitamins K and A, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6,  calcium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Prunes are virtual powerhouses of nutrients.

Too much of a good thing can lead to that previously-discussed “digestive side effect.” In addition to the fiber, it’s interesting to note that prunes are a natural source of the sugar alcohol sorbitol, which also has a natural laxative effect.

If you’re like me and just like prunes, or if you are looking for a healthful snack/way to increase your dietary fiber consumption, then the California Dried Plum Board says that you can safely eat up to 10-12 prunes a day. That’s a little more than ½ cup of dried fruit. If you’re not used to eating a diet high in fiber, start small — with just four or five prunes — to avoid any undesirable digestive side effects.

So what are you waiting for? Grab some dried plums today!

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

Fiber is one of our favorite topics, so we’ve added a free handout to this post. Check out the guide to fiber and blood glucose and get your copy today! Originally, this page was only accessible to Communicating Food for Health subscribers, so if you like what you see, consider getting a membership.

Fiber and Blood Sugar

It may come as no surprise that there are tons of educational materials about fiber in the store! Check out a few of the most popular options…

Holiday Secrets

Holiday Secrets

Fiber Stars Poster

Fiber PowerPoint and Handout Set

Basic Nutrition Poster Set

Quinoa…is it a name or a grain?

Quinoa and  Brown Rice Pilaf

Quinoa and Brown Rice Pilaf

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t totally understand Pinterest.  But, my cousin seems to really be into it. She recently shared on her Facebook wall several things she learned on Pinterest.  I chuckled at one of them…

People actually are naming their daughters Quinoa.

But, laughed even harder at her comment….

 Um, that’s sort of like calling them Oatmeal isn’t it?

I guess quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is one of those things most people don’t  know a lot about.  For some it might just be a good “Q” word to play on Words with Friends or Scrabble.  I guess to others…it’s an interesting new child’s name.

I’ve heard about quinoa for years, but my cousin’s post inspired me to try it out.  I didn’t have to go to a specialty food store to find it. Our local discount store had several versions.

My cousin wasn’t far off when she likened it to oatmeal.  It’s close.  Quinoa resembles a grain in use and appearance and it has frequently been called an ancient “grain”.  But it’s really a seed.  This grain-like crop has been eaten for thousands of years in South America. If you’ve never seen it, quinoa is a small seed that resembles millet or couscous.  It can be used as a you would rice, pasta or oatmeal.

White quinoa--uncooked and cooked

White quinoa–uncooked and cooked

uncooked quinoa

uncooked quinoa

cooked white quinoa

cooked white quinoa

Compared with grains, quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse containing a high amount of complete protein, soluble and insoluble fiber and unsaturated fats.  It also contains iron, magnesium and zinc and is gluten-free.

 

The United Nations General Assembly Food and Agricultural Organization feels so strongly about the role of quinoa as a high quality food for health and food security, they have declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. They noted the exceptional nutritional qualities of quinoa and its potential contribution in the fight against worldwide hunger and malnutrition.

In the US, generally you can find red, white or black quinoa. White is the most common. The flavor has been described as nutty or “earthy”.   I thought it was fairly bland and seemed to pick up the flavors of what it’s cooked with. I’ve been told that red quinoa has more flavor, but it’s more difficult to find.  Most of the prepared mixtures I found combined it with brown rice, vegetables and seasonings.

Like rice, pasta, wheat or couscous, quinoa is very versatile.  It can be used as you would any of these grains—as a pilaf, risotto, in soups or drinks.  Most people I talked with that eat quinoa like it best mixed with other grains. Another  breakfast idea:  cold cooked quinoa with yogurt and fruit or hot like oatmeal.

Some quick quinoa tips:

  •   1 cup dry = 3 cups cooked.
  •   The cooking ratio is 1 1/2 to 2 cups liquid to each cup of dry seeds.
  •   It cooks quickly:  bring the liquid and quinoa to a boil, cover and simmer until the water is absorbed (10—15 minutes)
  • When cooked,  quinoa will become translucent and a white ring will appear along the outside edge of the seeds. This is the “germ”.
  • According to the USDA one cup cooked quinoa contains 222 calories, 8 grams of protein,  5 grams of fiber and 3.5 grams of fat.

Hey Oatmeal…..or Quinoa…..it’s time to eat.

Here is a delicious Quinoa Berry Salad

close-up cooked quinoa

close-up cooked quinoa

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Whole grain breakfast cereal with quinoa

Whole grain breakfast cereal with quinoa