Thursday, March 23, 2017

Health Food or Junk Food: Go Macro Bars

It’s National Nutrition Month and we’re looking at snacks. Which are health foods and which are junk foods?

Someone asked for my opinion on this week’s product: Go Macro Bars.

To be honest, I’d never eaten one before.  So, I had to sample one, especially after I found them for a ridiculously low price. I bought a whole box of 12 for only $2!

These bars of organic, vegan, Kosher, gluten-free, and non-GMO. But, none of those terms automatically make this product a health food. 

In fact, I’d say this falls more in the spectrum of junk food. 

Let’s look at the ingredients to really understand why…

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Health Food or Junk Food: KIND Pressed Bars

We all need a grab-and-go snack sometimes. Often, a granola bar is an easy choice because it can be eaten with one hand. It doesn't even have to be a clean hand because your hand will never touch it; just eat it straight from the wrapper.

But, there are a lot of different granola bar and granola-bar-like things on the market. Their status as health food or junk food varies.

Where do KIND Pressed Bars fit?

I'd call these a health food!
This is a health food because it is made up of only a few ingredients, all of which are healthy foods.

KIND's website lists 6 flavors: Apricot Pear Carrot Beet, Pineapple Coconut Chia, Pineapple Banana Kale Spinach, Mango Apple Chia, Cherry Apple Chia, and Strawberry Apple Chia.

Those aren't just the flavor names; those are the ingredients. The Mango Apple Chia flavored bar only contains mango, apples, and chia seeds.

Although I consider this to be a health food instead of a junk food, I still recommend eating it in moderation. An even healthier option would be to eat whole fruit.

One characteristic of a healthy diet is getting a variety of foods. So, while KIND Pressed bars can count as fruit, they shouldn't be the only source of fruit in your diet.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Health Food or Junk Food: The Complete Cookie

A bodybuilder friend told me about “healthy,” vegan cookies by Lenny & Larry.
My sweet tooth said, “I have to try them.”  I soon found The Complete Cookie at my corner drugstore. There were only two flavors available in store and each individual cookie cost $1.99.
But, online Lenny & Larry sell 11 flavors: snickerdoodle, chocolate chip, birthday cake, coconut chocolate chip, double chocolate peanut butter swirl, double chocolate, peanut butter, white chocolate macadamia, lemon poppy seed, oatmeal raisin, and pumpkin spice.
These cookies are vegan and Kosher. They’re made without high fructose corn syrup, soy, artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and partially hydrogenated oils. They must be healthy, right?
Well, no. These are healthier cookies, but they’re still junk food...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Health Food or Junk Food: Greek Yogurt

It's National Nutrition Month! At work, I'm celebrating it with a series on MyPlate. However, I'm going to focus on junk food because, of course, I am the Junk Food Nutritionist and love to eat.

So, for the next few weeks, we'll be looking at items that might be healthy foods in some ways and might be junk foods in other ways.

First up is Greek yogurt.

Greek yogurt can be a healthy food. It has protein and calcium, which we need to be healthy. But there are many Greek yogurt products on the market. They're not all the same and they're not all equally healthy.

One major difference is the ingredient list. Some Greek yogurts are thick due to straining or removign the liquid portion; others are thickened with added ingredients.

Today, I will breakdown the ingredients of one flavored Greek yogurt product with raspberry chocolate and toasted coconut mix-ins.  

In case you can't see the picture, here are the ingredients again...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cran-Cherry Oatmeal Bars

You may already know that I love my Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bake recipe. It makes a nice, soft oatmeal bar. But I set out to make another soft oatmeal bar.

I came up with this Cran-Cherry Oat Bar which was literally devoured by the first coworker who tried it. No one else got a piece!

  This time, I decided to get the protein from chickpea flour. And without the sticky peanut butter, I needed another binder—a flax egg!

Cran-Cherry Oatmeal Bars
Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free

Number of servings depends on your serving size. I cut mine into 6 bars. 4 of which were eaten by one man.

1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
3 Tablespoons water
½ c. brown sugar
5 Tablespoons vegan margarine
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup chickpea flour, packed
1 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ c. dried cherries
¼ c. dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Using a fork or whisk, mix together ground flax seed and water. Set aside 15 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, cream together margarine and sugar.
4. Stir in flax egg.
5. Stir in lemon extract.
6. Stir in flour, oatmeal, and baking powder. It should look like the photo below.

7. Stir in dried cherries and dried cranberries.

8. Spread evenly in greased pan. I used an 8” x 8” pan, but you could use a larger or smaller pan if you want thinner or thicker bars.

9. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown (or desired darkness). Because there is no egg, you do not have to worry about making sure it’s not raw.

 Variations: Go ahead and experiment with other dried fruits. And, if you don't have chickpea flour on hand, another flour will work. If you're not gluten-free, I have made this recipe with all-purpose flour. And, if you aren't vegan, butter and a real egg work, too.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: "365 Snacks For Every Day of the Year"

I was happy to see a package at my doorstep. It’s the little surprises at the end of a long day that count, right?

I opened it up to find a copy of Sarah Koszyk’s new book, 365 Snacks For Every Day of the Year.  Sarah is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and blogger at Family.Food.Fiesta. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book to review. I was not paid for the review nor was I told what to say. The opinions expressed here are my own...

Sarah starts with a little introduction. She snacks, just like the rest of us, and sometimes those snacks come from convenience stores.

She also provides a little bit of information about why we need to snack. She keeps it easy to understand, which is great because not everyone has taken anatomy or biochemistry.

Sarah wrote this book to help others determine the healthier snack options available at stores. It is not so much a cookbook as it is a list of snack ideas.

Sarah breaks down her snack ideas into 5 categories: for home, for school and work, on the go, convenience store, and sweet.   

I was excited by the idea of the book. After all, I love snacks and have the nickname the “Junk Food Nutritionist.”

Thursday, January 19, 2017

FAQS About the Mono Diet

No, the mono diet isn't what you eat when you have "mono" also known as mononucleosis, the kissing disease, and Epstein-Barr. 

Although if you have mono, you might feel so poorly you only eat one food. And that is the mono diet.

What is the mono diet?
The mono diet is eating only one food per meal. So, breakfast might be an apple. It could be multiple apples as long as all of your items are the same food. You wouldn't be able to have an apple with peanut butter.

Depending on how strictly you follow the mono diet, you wouldn’t even be able to eat peanut butter by itself. Most peanut butters are not just made from peanuts. They have oil and sugar added. Sometimes they have salt. Some peanut butters also have fillers, emulsifiers, or other additives.  

What is the theory behind the mono diet? 
The theory is that early man only ate one food per meal.