Build a Healthy Plate this Summer

For those grilling this summer, a juicy steak with a side of potatoes might sound like the perfect meal but before taking a bite, you might want to look at the numbers.

One-half pound of New York Strip steak garnished with roasted potatoes and a pat of butter contains one day’s worth of protein (50 grams) and 60 percent of the daily value for saturated fat (12 grams).

Make healthy choices and enjoy the foods you love by following these simple tips to build a healthy plate this summer:

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Healthier Pre-game Choices for your Next Party

Classics like cheesy appetizers, burgers, hot dogs, pretzels and beer may get you in the game-day mood but they can really pack in the calories and sodium.

One soft pretzel with butter has almost 500 calories. To put that in perspective, the average woman would need to cycle for 81 minutes at 10 mph to burn off those calories!

There are, however, healthier pre-game choices. Keep reading to learn about delicious tailgating party foods that also get a registered dietitian’s stamp of approval.

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Tips for Finding the Healthiest Fair Foods

There is simply nothing quite as mouthwatering as traditional fair food. Hot dogs, ice cream and fried dough tempt fairgoers at every corner. Name a food to deep-fat-fry, and you will probably find it a fair (even cheesecake!). Fortunately, fairs offer so much more than fried food and you can sample the finest fair foods without sabotaging your lifestyle goals. Here are a few tips.

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Revitalize your spring meal routine with ancient grains and seeds.

Thousands of years ago, whole grains and seeds were a vital part of the food supply across the globe (see map below). Over millennia they were replaced by modern wheat, corn and soy but recently the winds have changed.

Featured in fitness magazines and social media, these ‘ancient grains’ and ‘super seeds’ have suddenly become the secret to beauty and weight-loss…. So you ask, what’s all the hype and  how do I add ancient grains and seeds to my spring meal routine?

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Q&A: Is sunflower oil okay?

Q: Is sunflower oil OK to use if not heating it, just using on a salad? “Anne in Cincinnati”

A: First a little background on dietary fats. Consuming too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 leads to an imbalance of signaling molecules (prostaglandins) that causes inflammation.

National surveys show that Americans are consuming too much omega-6 fatty acids from soy, corn, safflower, and other vegetable oils.

So the key is to find a balance and for the average American that means replacing oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids with oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Back to your question.

Sunflower oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids so it is okay to have in moderation and I encourage you to dress your salad with other oils that are rich in anti-inflammatory and heart healthy fatty acids.

The most nutritious oils for salads are rich in oleic acid (omega-9) or alpha linoleic acid (omega-3), are unrefined and unfiltered (look for cold pressed on the label). I would recommend dressing your salad with extra virgin olive oil (75 percent heart-healthy oleic acid), flaxseed oil (57 percent anti-inflammatory alpha linoleic acid), fresh avocado or avocado oil (71 percent oleic acid), or almonds (30 percent oleic).

A note about unrefined oils: They should be kept in a dark, cool spot and should not be used for sautéing.

Heartburn Relief through Diet & Lifestyle

Q: Is it just me, or does adding ginger to my diet – either in food, tea or eating a small piece each day – help with digestion and symptoms of acid reflux? I’m trying to avoid having to take Nexium, which has been linked to kidney damage, or any medication for the symptoms. What else can I do?

A: Occasional indigestion happens to all of us, but if you experience indigestion frequently (several times during the week or daily) you may have acid reflux — also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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Fun, Healthy Alternatives to Easter Candy

According to the National Confectioners Association, Americans buy more than 700 million pieces — about 120 million pounds — of Easter candy annually. That is nearly half a pound of candy for every man, woman and child in the country! And as a nation, it is estimated that we consume 16 billion jelly beans during the Easter season. If those jelly beans were placed end to end, they would circle the globe almost three times.

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Q & A: Are Dextrose and Stevia Safe?

Q: After buying Organic Stevia Blend, I noticed when I got home that it contained dextrose. Because it is organic, I am hoping that the dextrose won’t be problematic. But isn’t it one of the sugars we shouldn’t eat?

A: Dextrose is a simple sugar that is made from corn. Consuming added sugar like dextrose is OK in moderation.

Remember small amounts of concentrated sugar from brown sugar, granulated sugar or honey are okay too!

But consuming excess calories from simple sugar is associated with higher body mass index and the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Did you know the average adult in America consumes about 400-500 calories of added sugar in one day? Added sugar is hiding in so many foods! Click here to “eat” virtual meals and find out how much added sugar you consume on an average day.

Children 2-18 years old and adults should limit added sugar to no more than 100 calories (25 grams, or 6 teaspoons) per day.

A note on Stevia: The stevia plant has been used a for thousands of years in other cultures and it is on the FDA’s Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.