health


In my continuing revisit to the Fiber One bars, I figured it’s easier to just list all the sugars in one post (about 5-6 depending on who’s counting). So…the next ingredient on the nutrient facts label is semisweet chocolate which is made with sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin and natural flavor. Soy is considered one of the major allergens by the FDA, hence the mentioning of it on the label.

On deck is corn syrup, which is essentially just another sugar (slightly more benign than HFCS), regular old sugar comes in at seventh position, honey has been removed, and in eleventh position is maltodextrin, (generally a thickener or preservative) and while not necessarily considered a sugar, it may have an adverse effect on your blood sugar. I can’t imagine there’s enough to have an appreciable effect though so I will table that deep dive for another time. Fructose (aka fruit sugar) comes in around ingredient 17 and barley malt extract at ingredient 18 (also an added sugar).

As part of the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s recommended to limit intake of calories from added sugars to less than 10 percent of total calories per day. That will vary given age, gender, etc. Added sugars according to the FDA “include sugars that are added during the processing of foods (such as sucrose or dextrose), foods packaged as sweeteners (such as table sugar), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices. They do not include naturally occurring sugars that are found in milk, fruits, and vegetables. The Daily Value for added sugars is 50 grams per day based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet.” There are deadlines in place for manufacturers to make these changes to the label which you can see here.

The online “label” I have been referencing indicates 9 grams of sugar total, so that’s a little more than 2 teaspoons. BUT It appears though that this particular bar actually has a new recipe AND new nutrition information. If you look at the bottom of the screen shot, you can see the new bar boasting only 2 grams of sugar and a whopping 12 grams of fiber. Okay, I for one am utterly confused, but, I imagine technology hasn’t caught up to manufacturing? It’s not like I gave the bar much thought for 10 years or so…If you’d like to check out the new bar and its stats apparently you can find it at Sam’s Club. I am going to keep an eye out for what’s on the shelves as well, because like Velma I love a good mystery (and I also lose my glasses a lot.)

Despite this unexpected plot twist, I will persevere with the 10 years later comparison. BUT, I also am sworn to now review the newer, fiberier, less sugary version of said bar.

To be continued…

References (citation styles may vary, hyperlinks will guide you though)

https://www.menutail.com/blog/19/Is_Maltodextrin_Considered_An_Added_Sugar%3F

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Added Sugars on the New Nutrition Facts Label. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/added-sugars-new-nutrition-facts-label

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Industry Resources on the Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label. Retrieved July 1, 2020, from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/industry-resources-changes-nutrition-facts-label.

“Oats & Chocolate Chewy Bars • Fiber One.” Edited by Fiber One General Mills, Fiber One, 3 Mar. 2020, http://www.fiberone.com/products/chewy-bars-oats-and-chocolate/.est bet

brown nut lot

Yesterday I posted about the first ingredient in the Fiber One bar, chicory root extract. While I can go on and on about that one, and I will, I’ll save it for the finale.

So moving on, the second ingredient in the bar is “whole grain oats” formerly referred to as “rolled oats,” and ten years or so later takes the second spot on the ingredients list away from chocolate chips with confectioners shellac, which I’d say is kind of a good thing.

As far as ingredients go, I honestly did not think the whole grain oats topic was going to be very exciting, but lo and behold there’s always a little controversy if you are obsessed with food labeling and nutrition.

To review, ingredients are listed in in the order of their predominance in a product, this means there’s more chicory root extract by weight than anything else in the product. And presumably, the next largest amount of ingredient would be coming from the oats. Actual amounts of each ingredient are not available, but you can make an educated guess based on the serving size how much of a certain ingredient and/or nutrient you will be consuming. So, you can see below there are 9 grams of fiber per serving according to the nutrition facts label on the General Mills website.

In my research, I came across a document on a different part of the General Mills site: Healthcare Product Nutrition Guide. Most likely this document is for institutional food service departments that may (or may not) use federal funding of some sort (i.e. school lunch programs, adult day care, etc). On that lovely table, this product was looking even better, with a whopping 8 grams of whole grains per serving.

Last time I checked, chicory root extract was not a whole grain. Granted, it’s hard to keep up with all of the food labeling changes, but, seriously, it is not a whole grain. You can make me call it a dietary fiber, but not a whole grain!

It could just be an oversight, or it could be purposeful misrepresentation of the amount of whole grains to whatever audience uses that chart for calculating nutrition information in programs that are federally funded. I definitely don’t think it promotes this on the actual box to consumers. And if I have completely lost you, my point is that if it had 8 grams of whole grains, whole grain oats would be the first ingredient listed, not second…

fiber one bar

But, I digress. Whole grain oats are just that, whole grains. A grain in a form that includes the bran, germ and endosperm, You can check out a list of cool grains at the Whole Grains Council site. Additionally, while not directly related to this ingredient, General Mills has been making efforts to help farmers convert to regenerative farming. That’s got to be a good thing.

So, if you would like some whole grain oats you are probably better off having some oatmeal because given the size of this bar (40 grams), it’s actually not a great source of anything except possibly…SUGAR (coming up next)

.

Whole oats photo by Mike on Pexels.com

Ingredients NOT found in a Fiber One bar

Ingredients NOT found in an Oats & Chocolate Fiber One bar

Fiber is my number one favorite geeky dietitian topic, and having recently been diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, perhaps now more than ever it is important to me.

Looking back at the blog, it seems like my post on the Fiber One bars has been one of the most popular posts on my blog since I started it. I can’t believe that was 2009, but I thought it was worth a revisit and see if anything had changed.

For the record, I still have never tried the bar, but I can say it seems like patients and clients are definitely bringing it up less than they did 10 years ago, so perhaps popularity is waning? I’m sure the Kind bar has taken some of it’s market share and perhaps with good reason…

So anyway, here goes again. This time I plan to break it down into a few posts based on ingredient since there’s really a lot to say about each and every one, why not take our time?

1 serving of a Fiber One “Oats and Chocolate” bar is 40 g

140 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 90 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 9 g total sugar (a little more than 2 teaspoons), 2 g protein

(Only changes here are an increase in saturated fat by .5 gram, an increase in sodium by 10mg, and a decrease of sugar by 1 grams)

So, it still does seem to have  a good bit of fiber. But, where is the fiber coming from? The first ingredient is chicory root extract. Since, ingredients are required to be listed in the order of their predominance in a product, this means that there is more chicory root extract by weight, than anything else in the product.

So what is chicory root extract? Chicory root extract is also known as inulin. Inulin is known as a prebiotic, meaning it’s good for your digestive system.

There is still some question though as to whether inulin offers the same benefits as dietary fiber.

Dietary fiber is the kind we get naturally from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes etc. The health benefits of dietary fiber are promoting satiety, reducing cholesterol, improving bowel regularity and even promoting stable blood sugar levels.

The Center for Science in Public Interest (CSPI) has requested that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans be updated to advise consumers to differentiate between the different types of fibers when choosing foods. This would mean on the food label you might see “X grams of processed fiber per serving.” You can access CSPI’s most recent commentary here: Can fiber help keep you regular?.

Additionally, the FDA recently released  The Declaration of Certain Isolated or Synthetic Non-Digestible Carbohydrates as Dietary Fiber on Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels: Guidance for Industry.

There was a very recent journal article “Effect of chicory inulin-type fructan–containing snack bars on the human gut microbiota in low dietary fiber consumers in a randomized crossover trial” that concluded in healthy adults, adding 3 or 7 g inulin-type fructans (ITF) to snack bars increased Bifidobacterium, a beneficial member of the gut microbial community. While that seems promising, you have to look at the source of the info, two of the authors actually work for General Mills, which is a bit of a red flag.

Stay tuned for the next ingredient, which is NOW called whole grain oats (formerly referred to as “rolled oats,” and ten years later takes the second spot on the ingredients list away from chocolate chips with confectioners shellac.)

How do you feel about inulin? Does it help or hurt your digestive system or have you not noticed an effect either way? Let me know in the comments section.

najczestsze-alergeny-pokarmowe-259

Though I’ve been at this parenting thing awhile, the one thing I always make a point to ask when my son or one of my daughters have a friend over is “any food allergies?” This may be in part because I’m a dietitian, but also according to the CDC, 1 in 13 children in the U.S. have a food allergy of some sort.

As someone who suffered from food allergies at an early age, I understand the gravity of the situation. My parents had to go through the scary situation of taking me to the hospital for being short of breath and covered in hives after enjoying some summer lobster. Maybe I was 5 or 6 years old, tops. I was told I was allergic to shellfish, and for a good 30+ years I avoided it like the plague. As an adult I have dabbled in shrimp, though if a shrimp touches my skin I will get a serious hive reaction. I have been able to eat small amounts of shrimp, in a Fear Factor manner (my sister especially gets scared). I’ve never been brave enough to voluntarily try lobster though, too risky. Though I love sushi and most fish, there have been many an instance where I’d be eating something and realize there’s some unknown item in my food. Is that a shrimp? Or a Sea Monkey? What the heck, does anybody have any Benadryl? Anyways…

A food allergy is defined as an immune response to any number of proteins found in food (aka allergens). Symptoms can range anywhere from skin reactions such as hives (such as I get when a lobster or shrimp comes near me) to the more serious anaphylaxis. These food allergies are thought to be mediated by immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody. Generally onset of symptoms will be relatively quickly, but up to a few hours after exposure.

A food intolerance may involve some of the same symptoms, but doesn’t involve an immune response. A food intolerance may also be dose dependent, meaning you may be able to consume some of the food without having a negative reaction or may be able to consume an enzyme of some type prior to eating to offset the negative symptoms. Lactose intolerance is probably the best example, and also the most prevalent of food intolerances.

In the US, there are eight allergens which are the most prevalent. The “Big 8” are:

In 2004, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) was passed which required manufacturers to disclose on labels if a product contained one of the “Big 8.” Having come into effect in 2006, there have been no major changes to the “Big 8” which account for about 90% of food allergies. Though recently, Illinois has initiated a mandate that sesame must be added to it’s food packaging.

For some quick help on how to look for the “Big 8” on food labels, click on each of the bullet points above to see information from the Food Allergy Research & Education website.

You can also sign up or the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service email list which sends out alerts on undeclared allergens (as well as food borne illness.)

References:

Zikmund, J. (2015). Nutrition fundamentals and medical nutrition therapy. St. Charles, IL: Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals.

Cdc.gov. 2020. Food Allergies | Healthy Schools | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/foodallergies/index.htm&gt; [Accessed 11 March 2020].

(n.d.). Mayo Clinic – Mayo Clinic. Food allergy – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20355095

https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/ige-mediated-food-allergies

(n.d.). Mayo Clinic – Mayo Clinic. Food allergy vs. food intolerance: What’s the difference? – Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/expert-answers/food-allergy/faq-20058538

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10009-food-problems-is-it-an-allergy-or-intolerance

(n.d.). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Protection Act of 2004 Questions and Answers | FDA. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/food/food-allergensgluten-free-guidance-documents-regulatory-information/food-allergen-labeling-and-consumer-protection-act-2004-questions-and-answers#q1
(n.d.). NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. Sesame Allergies Are Likely More Widespread Than Previously Thought : The Salt : NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2019/08/02/747545877/sesame-allergies-are-likely-more-widespread-than-previously-thought

Been experimenting with using fruit in a savory way lately (especially if I let it sit around too long 😂) 

Chopped onions, vinegar and olive oil brought the kiwi and dragon fruit together beautifully. 

#Thanksgiving

IMG_9626

Had a very good summer as far as tomatoes go, and find myself making this dish which I’d heard about but never actually made until I found a great recipe in a book by Sally Butcher called New Middle Eastern Street Food: Snacks, Comfort Food and Mezze.

It’s basically a tomato and vegetable stew which serves as a poaching medium for eggs. Might be one of the easiest, tastiest healthiest recipes for breakfast or any meal of the day that I have come across in a LONG time.

While I don’t follow the exact recipe anymore, it’s too much fun to just throw in whatever is  handy..this is roughly what I do:

Ingredients

  • Olive oil 0r cooking spray – to coat the pan
  • Onion – 1/2 – whole medium
  • Garlic – at least one clove
  • Tomatoes – 6-8 medium sized (I put half in food processor and half I like to keep diced)
  • Diced Vegetables – (I’ve found any of these are great: peppers, carrots, zucchini, mushroom)
  • Eggs – 4 (probably can do more depending on size of your pan)
  • Spices – Cumin, paprika, berbere, salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat up the oil in a cast iron skillet, medium high (so the onions sizzle when you throw them in)
  2. Add onions & garlic, sauteing until they become fragrant. If you are using peppers you can add them in now as well
  3. Add the tomatoes, stirring it all together. Expect people to start filing into the kitchen to see what’s cooking.
  4. Add spices, and any other veggies you want. If you are using something soft, like mushrooms, I’d wait until right before you add the eggs.
  5. Allow the mixture to cook down, around 5-8 minutes
  6. The fun part! Make little “holes” in the mixture where the eggs will go, and then crack the eggs letting them land in the “holes” in the stew
  7. Lower the heat a bit and cover the mixture until the eggs set to the desired texture. I’d recommend erring on the side of less well done, as they continue to cook even after you remove them from the heat.

I find this dish so filling I don’t usually need bread, but you definitely could sop up the stew with some. It’s a great dish for a few people or you can make a batch and save it for later, it holds up very well. Tons of lycopene and a good bit of protein, you can’t go wrong.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 8.47.45 PM

Still feeling like I need soups over salads while it has been chilly lately. Kinda burned out on stews and the slow cooker for awhile, but, the delicate Japanese broth known as miso has been so good for a quick meal.

I’m not crazy about how salty the packets are, but, you can always dilute them with more water, which is what I have been doing. Probably using double the amount of water that the directions recommend. Then, depending how I feel, I’ll add some quick cooking noodles right into the broth (in this case udon) while it’s boiling and whatever vegetables I have on hand. I have REALLY been feeling the bok choy lately. Plus, it comes in all different sizes, so you can make it work in any dish. And 100g of bok choy is only 13 calories! Lots of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A & C and potassium.

Occasionally I will throw in some curry paste because I like spicy food. Finally added in some firm tofu. Probably takes 10-15 minutes altogether to prep and cook. Calorie load is minimal, satisfaction quotient very high.

 

IMG_5940That is the question. Well, not really, but I need a loose recipe goal in mind sometimes, so that’s where I’m at today. Found myself hungry, but also motivated…Leftover whole wheat couscous at my disposal, which in all honesty is dry as sh*t. Had a pretty good set of veggies also, so when all else fails I’m going to make a salad. In this case, a grain salad, which is way more nutritionally complete than just some greens and tomatoes.

I didn’t feel like chopping so I threw every ingredient in the mini food processor separately, which made the salad nice and uniform.

Ingredients:

Whole Wheat Couscous (cooked) – 1 1/2 cups (? more/less)

1/2 red onion

1/2 an orange pepper

1 carrot

Handful of cherry tomatoes

Sunflower seeds

Dried Cranberries

For the dressing:

Red wine vinegar

Toasted sesame oil

Maille mustard

Mint, Chives

Berbere, Ras el Hanout

Method:

In a medium to large bowl, throw in your cooked couscous. Then add in each vegetable one at a time, incorporating them into the salad. Once everything is mixed, mix the dressing into the salad (Yes, I also made the dressing in the food processor). You can pulverize the seeds and berries or throw them in whole, it’s really your preference. I chose to use some chopped Romaine for the base of the salad, but you could use it as a side dish or on its own it’s pretty good and very satisfying.

IMG_5949

 

 

 

   
This is my set up for breakfast (when kids sleep late, so yeah, not that often.) You could always get the ingredients ready beforehand and have them available. Either way,  just chop it all up and heat up a pan and you are ready to go.

Here are my ingredients:

Garlic

Onions

Chives

Fresh thyme, basil

Peppers

Shiitake mushrooms

Asparagus

2 eggs

Cooking spray

Hot sauce (optional)

  
Just sauté the veggies, mushrooms last. From here you can set aside and make an omelette or frittata or a scramble.

I opted to just do a little “Egyptian egg” (or whatever you guys call it) action.

If you cook the egg just right, it’s soooo creamy, you won’t miss the butter and cream cheese.

  
 

I got very inspired late last night reading a beautiful cookbook “The Food of Taiwan” by Cathy Erway. Since it was late and I probably shouldn’t have been eating OR cooking, I picked a pretty quick recipe, Noodles with Minced Pork and Fermented Bean Sauce. Most of the ingredients are common pantry items and things you would find in the refrigerator.

The ingredients waiting to be tossed

The ingredients waiting to be tossed

I made a few intentional and some unintentional substitutions, which I’ll list below. Took about 45 minutes including prep and cooking. Makes about 4 servings.

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp oil (vegetable or peanut) (I forgot this completely)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbsp fried shallots (I used fresh shallots instead)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet bean sauce (I used hoisin sauce)
  • 2 tsps cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 to 2 tsp dark soy sauce

Noodles

  • 1 pound wheat noodles
  • 1/2 cup fresh or thawed edamame
  • 2 cups packed bok choy or napa cabbage leaves (I used bok choy)

For Serving

  • 1/4 cup black rice vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts (I only had canned and they did not taste good, so skipped these)
  • 1 cup julienned cucumbers

Method for the sauce:Fermented Bean Sauce

Heat the tablespoon of oil in your wok over medium heat and add the pork fat. Sprinkle with salt and sir-fry for about 1 minute. Then add the shallots, garlic and sugar and incorporate together. Stir in the sweet bean sauce. Separately stir together the cornstarch and water. Once the pork mixture is bubbling, add the cornstarch mixture, stirring until it thickens, ~10 seconds. Taste and season accordingly, soy sauce optional.

Method for noodles:

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.  Next bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, and also prepare a bowl of ice water and keep to the side. Drop the edamame in and cook for 3-4 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drop the bok choy or cabbage into the boiling water for up to a minute. Remove and transfer to the ice bath to cool. When greens are cooled, shred them.

For serving:

Makes about 4 servings

Makes about 4 servings

Arrange your noodles in a large serving bowl. Drizzle the vinegar around. Ladle the pork sauce on top of the noodles. Then add all of the veggies to the top of the sauce. Toss everything together and serve. According to Ms. Erway, the dish is supposed to be lukewarm.

The dish was extremely tasty, and was a nice mix of protein, fat and carbs. Good dose of vegetables and the is not the star of the dish, but rather plays a supporting role. Definitely left me feeling satisfied. My only comment is that I like my food with a lot more heat, so I added a good dose of sriracha sauce just before serving.

The Food of Taiwan by Cathy Erway

The Food of Taiwan by Cathy Erway

Next Page »