Can’t beat the heat? Kale salad recipe to the rescue…

Here on the East Coast, we enjoyed our first taste of summer this week. The temperature spiked to the nineties, lasting a couple of days. In the midst of a heat wave, who feels like turning the oven on to cook? Certainly not I! Prepare this salad recipe–no oven or stovetop required– for a nutrient-dense afternoon or evening meal during a heat wave.

Can’t Beat the Heat Kale Salad

Serves One

Ingredients:

1 cup of baby kale

1/4 cup of halved strawberries

2 tbsp. of sunflower seeds

Shaved Manchego to taste

1/8 cup of lemon vinaigrette

Method:

Toss baby kale, strawberries, sunflower seeds, and lemon vinaigrette together until fully incorporated.

Then, add desired amount of shaved Manchego cheese atop the salad.

Enjoy! If preparing salad in advance of a meal, simply pour lemon vinaigrette into a separate container from the salad components.

What are your go-to salad recipes when you can’t beat the heat?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

Is the writing on the wall for Whole Foods?

Its food and beverage sales? Waning. Its Board of Directors? Reshuffled. Its stock market performance? Closing price declines. Uh oh. Is the writing on the wall for Whole Foods Market?

According to USA Today, Whole Foods Market ushered in “its seventh consecutive quarter of falling sales in stores open at least a year.” The media company also reported it would not be out of the question for senior executives to put Whole Foods Market on the market.

When Whole Foods Market first opened its doors, it differentiated itself from other grocery chains by sourcing local specialty food items, antibiotic-free poultry and wild-caught seafood, as well as organic fruits and vegetables.

Two things can be attributed to the mind-boggling success of its early marketing campaigns. First, Whole Foods Market sold food and beverage products nobody else did. (Think 80-percent cacao Fair Trade chocolate bar, free-range eggs, organic asparagus, and grass fed beef.) Second, Whole Foods Market offered an experience nobody else did. (Think an artful arrangement of produce, a series of build-your-own food stations, and a Certified Cheese Professional offering you a wedge of Manchego to sample.)

In other words, an exclusive product plus an extraordinary experience equaled a compelling brand.

Throughout the twenty-first century, the grocery chain’s competitors began selling the same caliber, often times the same brand, of food and beverage products as Whole Food Market. For example, free-range eggs have almost become a dime a dozen in that the majority of grocery chains now carry them.

Competitors of Whole Foods Market also began changing the consumer experience at their grocery locations. Our neighborhood Market Basket added a section of prepared food items. The local Stop and Shop started supplying a bowl of oranges and bananas at the entrance of its store for hungry shoppers aged ten and below.

A grocery chain (and any business venture for that matter) must think in the future but operate in the present to remain a frontrunner in the metaphorical race for sales. In the beginning, Whole Foods Market did just that. However, it’s almost as if Whole Foods Market stopped running (and quit thinking in the future but operating in the present) right in the middle of the race!

What has changed about Whole Foods Market this past decade? Nothing. It’s more of the same. For that reason, its competitors have reached (and I’d venture to say that a select few of its competitors have surpassed) it in the race for sales.

In order to get its head back in the game, Whole Foods Market must rediscover its entrepreneurial spirit. Only when it starts to think in the future but operate in the present again will it be able to reverse its monetary woes.

What’s your take on Whole Foods Market’s financial situation? If you sat on its Board of Directors, what action item would you institute to turn the chain around?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

Study links possibility of contracting dementia and stroke to diet soda consumption

It’s another blow to the processed food industry’s widespread use of artificial sweeteners in its products. A new study in the journal Stroke revealed that an individual’s risk of suffering from dementia and stroke widens as his or her intake of artificial sweeteners heightens. Specifically, an individual who consumes not so much as one diet soda per seven days is three time less likely to contract dementia or a stroke in comparison to an individual who consumes one diet soda every 24 hours. While the study did not affirmatively establish the consumption of artificial sweeteners as a cause for these conditions, it did associate these two variables. Even still, yikes!

These findings again demonstrate the marketing prowess of the processed food industry. By adding the word diet to soda, soft drink companies often succeed in duping consumers into thinking that this new and improved (as the food business would like the general public to believe) version of a sugary beverage is somehow healthy. The sheer speed at which tweaks to the formulas of sugary beverages and new marketing claims sprawled across soda cans appear make it difficult to keep up with the methods of processing and persuasion implemented by the beverage industry. A healthy dose of skepticism while making purchasing decisions in the sugary drink aisle goes a long way in ensuring that no beverage is bought until ensuring its contents align with its health claims.

Are you surprised by the Stroke study’s findings? Why or why not? Also, how do you make sure not to be deceived by the marketing claims processed foods and drinks boast?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

Switch Up Your Sides With Polenta Croutons

I was home over the weekend and my Mom prepared polenta as a side dish for dinner. The next day, we made polenta croutons with the leftovers. In particular, we spread out the leftover polenta evenly on a baking sheet and baked until crisp.

Here’s a link to Valerie Bertinelli’s recipe for polenta croutons that our family enjoys:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/valerie-bertinelli/greens-with-polenta-croutons

You’ll notice that Bertinelli’s version contains chopped rosemary. If you’re not a fan of this herb, but you enjoy savory flavors, substitute the chopped rosemary with either sprigs of thyme or leaves of oregano. If you’re feeling adventurous, elevate your polenta croutons with a dash of cayenne for a spicy bite.

How do you switch up your favorite side dishes to ensure variety? Also, how do you repurpose leftover side dishes?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

3 Food Products Whose Sugar Contents May Be Too Damaging To Your Health And What To Do About Them

This weekend as I walked through a refreshment line at an event, I picked up a bottle of cranberry juice. Turning the juice bottle to its side, I read the ingredient list. Much to my chagrin, the first ingredient was water and the second ingredient was sugar.

The ingredient list got me thinking about the extent to which the processed food industry conceals enormous amounts of added sugar in its products through deception. My cranberry juice bottle–or perhaps more aptly put, my glass of sugar water–serves as only one example of a product marketed as nutritious yet teeming with sweeteners.

Below you’ll find three other food products whose nutrient density must be put into question. At the grocery store this week, set a goal to read the ingredient lists of these products and reevaluate whether their sugar contents are too costly for your overall health and well-being.

Flavored milks and yogurts

Chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla milk all too often contain synthetic chemicals that sweeten the product and detract from the nutrient density of the milk. In addition, yogurt with fruit on the bottom may be another added-sugar culprit. I’ve found that sugar pseudonyms such as evaporated cane juice precede the actual fruit in ingredient labels for yogurt. The same goes for drinkable yogurts. My solution? As I’ve said before, purchase plain versions of dairy products and add desired mix-ins at home.

Protein bars

Many a times branded as delicious and nutritious, protein bars often contain vast quantities of added sugar and almost no natural sugar. Scan the ingredient label of your go-to protein bar and look out for terms such as dextrose, maltodextrin, or rice syrup. If you unearth myriad sweeteners, consider switching to another brand. If I may offer a suggestion, my wonderful Auntie Jen recently sent me RXBARs. Void of added sugars, each of these protein bars contain two dates for natural sweetening.

Condiments

If you scan an ingredient label for ketchup, it’s highly likely that one of the first few ingredients will be high fructose corn syrup. This unfortunate reality too often holds true for mustards and mayonnaises as well. I’d recommend substituting whole foods as condiments rather relying upon processed ones. To that end, smear an avocado on a sandwich rather than mayo. Skip the ketchup on a hamburger or hotdog and try homemade salsa.

On January 28, 2017, Michael Pollan wrote “Unhappy Meals” for the New York Times Magazine and explained, “Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.”

Edible foodlike substances. Food science. Health claims. Pollan unpacks each of these terms to demonstrate how some foods may not be as nutritious as we would necessarily like to believe. All too often, the added sugars contained in food products are disguised so masterfully it’s difficult to deduce the ultimate nutrient density of grocery store items.

It’s up to each and every one of us as empowered and informed consumers to ensure that the juice we drink isn’t sugar water, and so on and so forth.

Have you ever discovered that one of your favorite and supposedly nutrient dense food products in actuality contained added sweeteners? What strategies do you implement while you shop and while you cook to avoid added sugars seeping into your diet?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

A Guide to Your Easter Dessert Table

You may remember that last year around this time, Hershey introduced its Carrot Cake Kisses to the masses. Well, they’re back. Although I’ve never tried one, I did (of course) read the ingredient label! Among other things, there are artificial colors and flavors in this dyed white chocolate with cream cheese-esque core. Looking to add the taste of carrot cake and chocolate to your Easter dessert table? Try this carrot cake fudge instead from Food.com: http://www.food.com/recipe/carrot-cake-fudge-303988  This recipe includes carrots (!) and doesn’t include artificial colors or flavors. Enjoy!

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

Food as First Aid? Physicians in Brazil Use Tilapia Skin to Dress Burn Wounds

Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” While medical professionals and lay people alike have long recognized the healing properties of food, they are also increasingly realizing that such healing properties extend to ameliorating injury. In particular, physicians from Fortaleza, Brazil are experimenting with the usage of sterilized tilapia skin to dress second-degree and third-degree burns.

Such experimentation in Brazil stems from the country’s dearth of resources to dress such fatal wounds. Although affluent countries have access to burn treatments like human skin and pig skin, Brazil does not have access to a wide array of animal skins.

Prior to experimentation with tilapia skin, physicians in Brazil applied silver sulfadiazine cream and gauze to patients’ burn wounds. Unfortunately, physicians must remove and reapply this cream and gauze on a regular basis. It’s an excruciating process for burn victims, but one that nevertheless must occur every 24 hours to maintain cleanliness.

However, sterilized tilapia skin dressing does not have to be removed and reapplied every 24 hours. This treatment not only reduces patient pain, but also offers environmental benefits because tilapia skin is not discarded but now put to medicinal use.

The usage of tilapia skin as a burn dressing is still in its early stages in terms of experimentation. Specifically, the Federal University of Caerá first researched this medical treatment. Following sterilization, tilapia skin can be preserved for 24 months if refrigerated properly.

As clinical trials abound in Brazil, it seems likely that if tilapia skin repeatedly proves itself as an effective first aid treatment, commercial entities will capitalize on its healing properties.

What do you think about leveraging tilapia skin to dress burns rather than using a traditional dressing of gauze and cream? What are other examples of how food may be used to heal injuries?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

Let’s Talk (#9)

“It is far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.”

-Hippocrates

Do you agree with Hippocrates’ deduction? How does an individual’s attitude, mental state, and personality affect his or her experience of physical wellness or disease?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

-Buddha

One of the ways to show yourself love is to strive toward, achieve and then maintain optimal health. Enjoy this festive Valentine’s Day recipe to aid in your pursuit of wellness on the holiday and the entire year through.

Cranberry Pomegranate Smoothies

Serves Two: One for you and one for the love of your life 

Ingredients:

1 cup of plain Greek yogurt

Half of a peeled banana

1/2 cup of frozen cranberries

1/4 cup of frozen strawberries

1/4 cup of frozen raspberries

1/4 cup of frozen blueberries

1/2 cup of pomegranate juice

1/2 cup of water

2 tbsp. of milled flax seeds

Method:

First add the base (Greek yogurt and half of a banana) along with the liquids (pomegranate juice and water) to the blender.

Then, add the frozen fruit and milled flax seeds. This ordering of smoothie ingredients prevents the frozen fruit from becoming stuck in the blade of the blender.

Blend until smooth. Pour into two glasses.

Slice one strawberry in half. Arrange the halves to form a heart on the rim of the glasses for a garnish. Enjoy!

What are your favorite Valentine’s Day recipes?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

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Vegetarians and Meatball Enthusiasts Unite

To all of my vegetarian friends…

Scratch that.

To ALL of my friends…

Among her MANY talents, my sister is a phenomenal chef. She recently prepared delish’s Zucchini “Meatballs” by Lauren Miyashiro. My family and I agreed that these meatballs were the most AMAZING and FABULOUS and WONDERFUL meatballs ever. I urge you to try them, and Super Bowl 51 is a timely occasion to do so!

What are your favorite meatball recipes?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

P.S. Zucchini is awesome in a myriad of recipes, not just in meatballs…if you don’t believe me, please check out: “Musings from a CSA Shareholder: Zucchini Chips” and “A Few Snack Switches”  and you just may change your mind!

If you found what you read compelling, please consider:

Forwarding this blog post to a friend and encouraging him or her to follow me at:  www.letseatlunch.wordpress.com

Liking this blog post.

Sharing this blog post on Facebook or Twitter.