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Wednesday
Sep102014

The Meta Effect

Fiber has come a long way, baby! It’s not usually a hot topic of choice (unless you’re a nutritionist like me) but whether you realize it or not it's a crucial part of our diets. Fiber is the stuff naturally found in the tissues of all plants that provides support in the stems and roots. “Dietary fiber” is found in plants that we can eat and comes in various forms (plant tissue, seeds, gummy material). None of these are absorbed because after we swallow it, it literally goes in one end and out the other. It’s interesting how fiber has no calories or nutrients, yet offers so many well-researched health benefits.

I am constantly teaching my patients how to add more fiber into their diets, and it’s not just for the folks who are blocked up! This is why I wholeheartedly agreed to sign on as brand ambassador for P&G's new line of wellness products called Meta. This includes their tried and true standby, Metamucil® (can you believe this has been around since 1934?), as well as their new Meta Health Bars™ (fortified with the same natural psyllium fiber found in Metamucil) and MetaBiotic™. The goal of this product line is to promote health from the inside out by offering multihealth benefits.

Many people don’t reach the 25-38 grams of fiber in their daily diets as recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Keeping a snack in your purse or desk drawer at work, such as a Meta Health Bar, can help satisfy an afternoon craving for sweets while helping to meet your fiber needs. Fiber-rich foods may not only help to satisfy hunger as a healthful snack*, but may promote digestive health* and lower cholesterol to promote heart health†.

Like I said, fiber isn’t exactly a sexy topic so I’m excited to now have a reason to talk more about its benefits because I’ve seen the positive results in my patients who eat more of it. Most of the recipes on this blog are plant-based and naturally high in fiber, but I will plan to post even more recipes that are based on fiber-rich whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and beans. I will also talk about various types of supplementary fibers such as that found in Metamucil and Meta Health Bars.

On the flip side probiotics are a very hot, sometimes controversial, topic. I will be delving into the reported benefits of these healthy bacteria, and what to look for when choosing an over-the-counter probiotic such as MetaBiotic.

Keep an eye out this month for the debut of the new Meta line, and check out the video below featuring spokesperson Michael Strahan. Also stay tuned for my fiber-ful posts!

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.   

† Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 7 grams of soluble fiber per day from psyllium husk, as in Metamucil, may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol.  One serving of Metamucil has 2.4 grams of this soluble fiber.

Disclosure: I've partnered with P&G on this sponsored post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. You can find more information at MetaWellness.com. 

Monday
Aug252014

Final Flavors of Summer

I know that school starts next week and I should be writing back-to-school posts on kids healthy breakfasts and lunches, but I don't want to let go of summer. The weather has been divine, making it really sad to say goodbye. It didn't help when Weight Watchers sent more of their delicious ice cream treats in new flavors. I had written a positive review on their ice cream lineup in April because I was surprised by how rich the low calorie flavors tasted. 

Their new Divine Triple Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche bars are just as yummy at 110 and 120 calories each, respectively, and 5 grams of fat. The top part of the bars is coated with that familiar crisp chocolate shell, and the ice cream tastes rich and smooth. There are swirls of either chocolate or caramel blended throughout that make them an indulgence until the end. As with other Weight Watchers frozen treats, I appreciate the portion control. Dessert is best enjoyed as a light refreshment to end a meal, not a second meal! Even though the size doesn't seem like much according to our usual huge dessert standards, they don't taste low fat or low calorie so you can feel pretty satisfied with one serving. This brand and Skinny Cow are the most popular choices among my clients, and I'm definitely a fan as well!

Disclosure: I received Weight Watchers food samples for my honest review of the product.

Sunday
Aug102014

Cook Smarts: Making You an Expert on Veggies

Jess Dang contacted me recently to share her site Cook Smarts, a company whose mission is to help home cooks lead healthier lives and have great experiences in the kitchen. Dang believes that simple home cooked meals can be a source of health, happiness and community, so she created Cook Smarts to offer educational tools like infographics, how-to videos, recipes, and even a meal planning service. I'm sorry if the rest of this post sounds like one big ad but know that I wasn't paid; I just absolutely love the site and will be sharing it with everyone who needs a little veggie help or is intimidated by their kitchen.

First of all Dang's story is unbelievably inspirational. She contracted Hepatitis C as an infant from a blood tranfusion, but of which she was unaware until making a blood donation. The disease progressed until college when her doctors advised her to undergo a year of intensive treatment with debilitating side effects, or risk developing other severe conditions. She vowed that if she made it to age 30, she would do something to help others lead healthier lives. She is now 32 and carrying out her mission through Cook Smarts.

When I checked out the site, I immediately loved the easy to read infographics and videos that showcase vegetables. I'm a veggie freak (drool over them, crave them, seek out restaurants that serve them, etc.) but not many people grow up with fond memories of vegetables; even if they do it's usually only one or two special vegetables dishes. I love how Cook Smarts highlights all vegetables and gives you the basics on how to store and prepare each vegetable in just the right way so you bring out its best flavor. Below are a few examples, but check out the site that has dozens more free cooking resources. The meal planning service costs $8 per month, providing recipes that can be tailored to special needs (gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian), nutrition information for each recipe, short how-to videos, and grocery lists.

This guide shows when to buy veggies, how to cook them, and in what types of dishes they work best:

This one reminds you which ones to use first before they spoil: 

And one of my favorites, a chart for kids to track which veggies they've tasted and liked...or not! Ellyn Satter, an expert on childhood nutrition and picky eaters, says that it can take 15-20 exposures to a new food before a child will accept it. So don't give up after one sour face:

Finally, don't miss their helpful videos like this one on how to make a vinaigrette. I've been sharing a similar 60-second recipe with my clients that makes a tasty sodium-free salad dressing, marinade, or light sauce for plain rice or quinoa. I've tried so many salad dressings that are too fatty, too spicy or too saltyoverall just too overpowering for greens. This easy healthful dressing is light but perfectly enhances a salad, cooked vegetables or grains.