Monthly Archives: December 2013

The new food year — expected trends in food and nutrition choices in 2014

Every new year brings with it new food choices and consumer trends in nutrition. So what are dietitians expecting 2014 to bring? FoodFacts.com has looked into what the experts have to say that might help shape the contents of our grocery store shelves in the coming 12 months. Have you been thinking about any of these trends as they pertain to your own diet?

 

Wheat-Free Eating
Dieticians predict that consumers will continue their interest in going wheat-free in the new year. While there’s no factual evidence supporting wheat or gluten free diets for weight loss or health (unless someone has a sensitivity or disease), consumers are finding wheat-free eating a fast tool for weight control. Wheat-free diets will make it to the top of the list for popular diet plans in 2014.

The decline of the low-fat diet
Dietitians are expecting that the low-fat diet will be the least-embraced diet plan of the year. Low-carb diets may pick up in popularity, while interest in low-fat eating falls off. We might attribute this to the renewed interest in healthier eating and ingredients as consumers become more concerned about how low-fat foods are produced.

Healthy eating becomes a bigger focus for food shoppers
More and more consumers are becoming educated shoppers. Ingredients and nutrition labels are a bigger concern than ever and consumers everywhere are spending more time considering the nutritional value of their purchases. This trend is expected to continue and grow in the coming year, giving food manufacturers a bigger opportunity than ever to respond to consumer concerns.

The continued lack of sound nutritional information
While it’s a good thing that consumers are more concerned than ever about the nutritional value of the foods they consume, dietitians are reporting that most of the nutritional information consumers are using is based on personal beliefs and popular concepts that are half-truths. Shoppers aren’t relying on actual published research for their information. This trend is also, unfortunately, expected to continue into the new year.

Increased interest in local and sustainable foods
Dietitians tell us that more and more consumers are looking to be more eco-conscious at the grocery store. The trend with their clients seems to be towards increasing purchases of locally produced and more sustainable foods.

The search for more and better nutrition and diet information is on
The majority of dietitians agree that American’s interest in nutrition and weight loss information will continue to grow in 2014. We hope that instead of relying on friends, relatives and articles from less-reliable sources, consumers turn to FoodFacts.com and other viable information resources in answer to their nutrition-information quest. We’ve got some big plans for the new year that will help nutritionally-conscious consumers stay committed to their healthy lifestyles!

FoodFacts.com wishes everyone in our community the happiest, most prosperous and healthiest of new years. Have a wonderful 2014!

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20131227/Dietitians-identify-14-diet-nutrition-and-food-trends-to-shape-Americans-waistlines-in-2014.aspx?page=2

Surprising comfort foods that can help shed holiday pounds


As the holiday season comes to a close and we get ready to welcome the new year, our thoughts may be turning to weight loss. All those holiday indulgences may have tipped our scales in the wrong direction! So we’re recommitting to our healthy diets as we begin the new year and planning to get rid of the excess pounds we happily put on enjoying the season. FoodFacts.com has some surprising ideas that might just help.

Have a cup of hot chocolate
No — not the cup from the fast food chain by the office. Made in your own kitchen, hot chocolate can actually help with weight loss. Cocoa is high in antioxidants which lower your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone related to a build-up of belly fat. In a study from Cornell University, hot chocolate was found to have a concentration of antioxidants up to five times greater than black tea.

Enjoy a first course bowl of chicken soup
Adding a first course broth or vegetable-based soup before a meal can help you consume fewer calories. The water content helps fill you up, reducing your hunger before eating your main meal. A Penn State study found that eating soup prior to the main meal can reduce calorie intake by 20%.

Pot Roast equals more protein
Carefully prepared, pot roast — or any protein — is actually a weight loss tool Protein fights fat. Because your body works hard to break down protein for energy, you’re actually burning more calories as you digest it. And because it takes protein longer to leave your stomach, you’ll be fuller for longer after eating it. Studies show that people who increased their protein intake to 30% of their dietary intake consumed about 450 fewer calories each day.

Add a side of roasted carrots
Roasted carrots are full of sweet flavor. Carrots are high in water and fiber, so they’re great when you’re hungry. But when they’re roasted they actually help you burn more calories. The antioxidant content of the roasted vegetable actually contains three times the antioxidants of raw carrots.

Roast some potatoes
As it turns out, not all white foods help pack on the pounds. We’ve heard about white flour actually contributing to inflammation problems. We’ve heard that white rice is not as beneficial as brown rice. But the white potato is actually a fine source of many important nutrients. In addition, they contain a disease-fighting chemical called allicin. This anti-inflammatory chemical can contribute to weight loss. In addition, white potatoes are known to be a satisfying addition to a meal.

Enjoy a glass of red wine with your dinner
Many studies have been conducted regarding the benefits of red wine for your heart. But it does appear that there are other important benefits as well — one of which is fighting off excess weight. While there’s nothing conclusive, studies do suggest that the antioxidant resveratrol may inhibit the production of fat cells. There’s another substance occurring naturally in red wine called calcium pyruvate that appears to help fat cells burn more energy. Enjoy one glass for about 150 calories and you can help your heart and your weight.

While these may not be the first things we think of when seek to change our eating habits for weight loss, they really are better, healthier (and more flavorful) ideas. Diet products contain mountains of bad ingredients and they leave us hungry. Diet plans may work for a while, but odds are, the weight will come back. Intelligent changes to our regular diet that we actually enjoy can make a world of difference for our weight. So as you think ahead to taking off some weight in 2014, try some of these ideas. A new approach might just do the trick!

Mighty Wings, Mighty Flop????

In September, McDonald’s introduced Mighty Wings. These spicy snacks were originally expected to be a tremendous hit with consumers and add yet another category to the McDonald’s menu that would compete with wings sold in other fast food chains.

Unfortunately for McDonald’s things didn’t work out exactly as planned. It seems that as we move forward into 2014, the fast food giant has about 10 MILLION pounds of unsold Mighty Wings. McDonald’s is looking to dispose of this gargantuan inventory as quickly as possible.

10 million pounds is a lot of wings. So what exactly happened there, anyway?

McDonald’s purchased 50 million pounds of wings for it’s limited time product introduction. About 20% of that original inventory remains unsold. Consumers didn’t think the Mighty Wings were quite as mighty as McDonald’s had hoped.

While Mighty Wings reportedly tasted great, consumers apparently had a problem with what they may have considered a mighty price.

At more than $1 per wing for orders under 10 wings, the price “was not the most competitive,” Don Thompson, McDonald’s chief executive, told Bloomberg Businessweek. Three wings were sold for $3.69, five for $5.59 and 10 for $9.69. Three wings are barely a snack. A restaurant appetizer wing portion is usually six. And while you’re paying more than $3.69 for that appetizer — it isn’t fast food. Next, take into consideration that an order of 20 piece Chicken McNuggets is about $5.00 (depending on your location) and you can see why folks weren’t thrilled about paying close to $10.00 for 10 chicken wings.

In an attempt to sell 10 million pounds of wings, McDonald’s will now lower the price of Mighty Wings to $2.99 for three, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Even at a discount, that’s still a lot of wings to sell. FoodFacts.com really can’t imagine what 10 million pounds might actually look like. Especially frozen.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/19/mcdonalds-mighty-wings_n_4475103.html

Holiday Cheer: Buche De Noel Edition

The big day is upon us!  The house is decorated, the tree is lit, the presents are wrapped and the meal planning is well underway!  FoodFacts.com wanted to make sure that we showcase one of our favorite courses from the holiday feast – dessert!

No matter what your tradition, dessert will certainly play a big role in tomorrow’s meal.  And many home chefs look forward to putting their skills to work in the creation of a beautiful and tasty Buche de Noel (or Yule Log).  These cakes can truly be works of art – and banquets of holiday flavor.  Unfortunately as beautiful and flavorful as the cake may be, it’s also very rich and typically packs a big punch in the fat and sugar categories.  The traditional recipe for Buche de Noel contains:

Calories: 276
Fat: 17.7g
Saturated Fat: 10.4g
Sugar: 22.9g

We’re pretty sure we can do better, while still keeping this beautiful cake moist, flavorful and fun.

For the cake, you’ll need:

  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoon(s) organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup(s) whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup(s) cake flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2/3 cup(s) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt

For the filling and frosting, you’ll need

  • Organic Agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon(s) instant espresso powder or coffee granules
  • 4 teaspoon(s) dried egg whites (see Tips), reconstituted according to package directions (equivalent to 2 egg whites)
  • 1/4 tspn creme of tartar
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup(s) brewed coffee, room temperature or cold
  • 1/4 cup(s) organic half-and-half

 

Directions

  1. Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a large (12-by-16 1/2-inch) rimmed baking sheet (half sheet pan) with parchment paper; coat the paper and pan sides with cooking spray. Place eggs (in the shell) in a stand mixer bowl or large mixing bowl, add warm tap water, and set aside to warm the eggs and bowl.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, swirling occasionally, until the white flecks of milk solids in the bottom of the pan start to turn golden brown, 4 to 8 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl. Let cool to room temperature, then add 2 teaspoons vanilla. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk whole-wheat flour, cake flour, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a medium bowl; set aside.
  4. Drain the water and break the eggs into the warmed mixing bowl. Add sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until thick and pale light yellow, 5 to 15 minutes (depending on the power of your mixer). To test if it’s beaten well enough, lift the beater from the batter: as the batter falls off the beater into the bowl, it should mound for a moment on the surface.
  5. Gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture with a whisk, in two additions, until just incorporated. Gently fold about 1 cup of the batter into the reserved butter. Then gently fold the butter mixture into the bowl of batter with a whisk until just incorporated, being careful not to overmix. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking sheet, spreading completely to the sides.
  6. Bake the cake until puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool in the pan on a large wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently run a knife around the edges and turn the cake out onto the rack; remove the parchment and let cool completely. Once cool, cover with 2 overlapping pieces of plastic wrap and a clean, damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. (The cake can be held this way for up to 4 hours before assembling the Yule Log.)
  7. To prepare filling and frosting: Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. Combine agave nectar, instant coffee, reconstituted egg whites, cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the top of the double boiler. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Place over the simmering water and beat on high speed until the frosting is glossy and has the texture of very thick shaving cream, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla until just combined.
  8. Leaving the towel and plastic wrap over the cake, invert it onto a work surface with a long edge nearest you. The towel will now be on the bottom, with the plastic wrap directly beneath the cake. Combine coffee and half-and-half in a small bowl. Brush the top of the cake with the coffee mixture; let it soak in and continue brushing on more until all of it is absorbed.
  9. Spread about two-thirds of the frosting evenly over the cake. Using the plastic wrap, lift the long edge and roll the cake into a log lengthwise. Cut a 3 to 4-inch “branch” off one end at an angle. Place the longer log on a serving platter, seam-side down. Use a little frosting to attach the branch to the main log. Cover the cake and branch with the remaining frosting. Make decorative ridges in the frosting with a fork to resemble bark. Let the cake stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Or refrigerate, uncovered, for up to 1 day.

Here’s how the nutrition facts stack up for the revamped recipe:

Calories:  178
Fat: 5g
Saturated Fat: 3g
Sugar: 8g

 

That’s a pretty significant difference.  It’s important to remember, especially around the holidays, that we can enjoy our favorite meals – and desserts.  We can all find lighter versions of much-loved traditional foods that don’t sacrifice flavor and will help to make our holidays happy and memorable!

FoodFacts.com wishes everyone in our community the happiest of holidays and a healthy and prosperous new year!

The internet, food activism and food manufacturers

Internet influence on consumers is everywhere. Online information has changed so much about how we approach purchases of all kinds. We’re more educated, more aware and definitely more discerning about the products and services on which we choose to spend our money. And because of the internet, we can be a lot more vocal about our likes and dislikes – and our product requirements.

That fact is especially true when it comes to food purchases. American consumers are paying much closer attention to the foods and beverages they consume. And we’re letting manufacturers know loud and clear what we DON’T expect to find in our foods. Online petitions and popular blogs – as well as FoodFacts.com (our own website), are helping consumers learn more than they ever have before about the ingredients in the food products in our grocery stores. In addition to a much more detailed ingredient education, those resources are giving us all a bigger voice that is clearly being heard by food manufacturers.

Earlier this year, for example, PepsiCo Inc. said it would stop using brominated vegetable oil in Gatorade and find a another way to evenly distribute color in the sports drink. That action was based on an online petition started by a teenager from Mississippi.

Last year, Starbucks said it would stop using a red dye made of crushed bugs based on comments it received “through a variety of means,” including an online petition, and switch to a tomato-based extract.

Kraft Foods plans to replace artificial dyes with colors derived from natural spices in select varieties of its macaroni and cheese, a nod to the feedback it’s hearing from parents.

The internet has made consumers much more powerful in the eyes of food manufacturers. It’s helped our voices be heard and our demands be met. Online resources have certainly created a shift in how those manufacturers respond to their customers.

Ali Dibadj, a Bernstein analyst who covers the packaged food and beverage industry, says the changes reflect a shift from “democratization to activism” by consumers.

“It used to be that people would just decide not to buy the product. Now they’re actually agitating for change,” Dibadj said. “There’s a bullhorn – which is the Internet – so you can get a lot of people involved very quickly.”

There are no numbers tracking how many companies are reformulating products in response to consumer demand. But even if recipe changes aren’t in direct response to petitions or blogs, executives understand that ingredients can become a liability once they fall out of favor with the public.

High-fructose corn syrup, for example, has gained a negative image in recent years and has been blamed for fueling bad eating habits. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group, says the sweetener is no more harmful than ordinary sugar in large amounts. But Kroger Co. decided to remove it from store-brand cereals following surveys with consumers in 2011.

The supermarket chain isn’t alone. Over the past decade, the use of high-fructose corn syrup in packaged foods and drinks has fallen 18 percent to 6.1 million tons last year, according to market researcher Euromonitor International.

Not all companies are making changes, at least not right away. The same teenager who called for the removal of brominated vegetable oil in Gatorade, for instance, is now taking aim at Coca-Cola’s Powerade, which also contains the ingredient in select varieties. As of Tuesday, her newest petition had more than 57,000 supporters.

In a statement, Coca-Cola noted that all its ingredients comply with regulations. But the company also said it is “always looking for ways to evolve” its formulas.

Another petition that asks Mars Inc. to remove artificial colors from M&Ms had more than 141,000 signatures. In an emailed statement, the privately held company stressed the safety of its ingredients.

As the internet continues to evolve, it places more and more power into the hands of the consumer. No manufacturer likes bad press. And news travels very quickly through online channels. Food manufacturers are adapting to the idea that our opinions are more influential than ever and that our voices can be heard quickly by millions. That’s all good news for us, as we continue to express our nutritional and ingredient requirements to the food industry.

http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_289563/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=H9WkyLl7

Holiday Cheer: Party Snack Mix Edition

Most of us have more than a few gatherings of family and friends coming up. And some of those gatherings are planned in our own homes where we’ll be preparing the food for our guests. During most of these events, we’re likely to put out some appetizers and snacks for our guests to enjoy with a holiday cocktail or beverage as we’re putting the finishing touches on the meal.

What will you be serving prior to your dinner? For many of us here at FoodFacts.com, party snack mixes are a big hit with guests. These snacks tend to be a combination of salty and sweet goodies that are easy to pick up and eat while sipping a drink. And snack mixes also offer the advantage of convenience for many party hosts.

Generally FoodFacts.com associates convenience with problems like bad ingredients, or too much fat, or too much salt – or all or any combination of those three issues. And party snack mix is no exception to that rule. Here’s a typical ingredient list for a mainstream brand of party snack mix:

Flour Enriched (Wheat Flour, Barley Malted Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Vitamin aB)) , Corn Meal Degermed Yellow, Wheat Whole, Vegetable(s) Oil (Soybean(s), Rice Bran and/or, Canola) , Flour Bleached Enriched (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Vitamin aB)) , Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Sugar, Contains 22% or less Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Maltodextrin, Rye Flour, Yeast, Garlic Powder, Corn Syrup Solids, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Margarine (Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Whey, Beta Carotene, Vitamin A Palmitate, Flavor(s) Natural) , Malt, Baking Soda, Barley Malt Extract, Corn Syrup, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Malt Syrup, Spice(s), Soy Lecithin, Milk Non-Fat Cultured, Sodium Diacetate, Onion(s) Powder, Almond(s) Flour, BHT To Retain Freshness, Calcium Carbonate, Color(s) Added, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Monoglyceride Distilled, Garlic, Molasses, Monocalcium Phosphate, Peanut(s) Flour, Sesame Seed(s), Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Soy Sauce (Wheat, Soybean(s), Salt, Maltodextrin, Caramel Color) , Tamarind Extract, Trisodium Phosphate, Wheat Starch, Whey, Corn Flour Yellow

One half cup (the serving size) of that same mix contains:
Calories: 140
Fat: 6g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Sodium 390mg

At first glance that really doesn’t seem so bad. But considering the serving size, we’re pretty sure that most of our guests are going to consume more calories, fat and sodium than this suggests. We can definitely do better preparing a party snack mix ourselves with less ingredients that are better choices while we lighten up on the calories, fat and sodium.

Ingredients
• 4 cups organic squares cereal (such as Cascadian Farm or Nature’s Path)
• 2 cups organic mini pretzels (such as Shiloh Farms)
• 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
• 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon organic Worcestershire sauce

To Prepare
• Preheat oven to 350°F.
• Mix cereals, pretzels, Parmesan, garlic salt, onion powder, pepper and cayenne in a large bowl. Toss with oil and Worcestershire. Spread on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
• Bake, stirring often, until toasted, 40 minutes.

Here are the nutrition facts for every half cup of this snack mix your guests will enjoy:

Calories: 61
Fat: 2g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Sodium: 189mg

In addition to lightening up the obvious problems, this party snack mix doesn’t contain any partially hydrogenated oil, MSG, caramel color, hidden MSG or artificial flavor.

Enjoy good food for the holidays. Offer your guests the flavor and goodness that comes from your kitchen – that includes the snacks and appetizers. They’ll appreciate your efforts – and enjoy indulging on treats that are better for them from the ingredients to the calories, fat and sodium!

Get ready for a big change in bananas

Bananas are one of our favorite fruits. Most of us have been eating them since we were babies (in fact, they were probably one of the first solid foods we came in contact with.) They’re great in our morning cereal and oatmeal. They’re quick, handy and satisfying snacks. They’re rich in potassium and provide plenty nutritional value.

Bananas have so much going for them and FoodFacts.com is not ready to say goodbye. But it is looking like we may have to at some point in the foreseeable future.

The most popular variety of banana, the Cavendish, accounts for about 80% of banana exports each year. It’s the variety that we enjoy here in America and the most familiar around the world. The Cavendish is under attack from a fungus that’s creeping into banana crops around the world. It has made an unwelcome appearance at banana plantations in Mozambique and Jordan and it is feared that its next stop may well be Latin America (the world’s largest banana exporter). The science journal Nature reports that the fungus was originally thought to be confined to Asia, until it turned up in Mozambique in October. The fungus causes the incurable Panama disease, or Fusarium wilt, that rots bananas. In the 1950s, another strain of the banana fungus nearly wiped out the Gros Michel banana, once as common as the Cavendish variety. After the fungus decimated banana populations in Central and South America, producers switched to the Cavendish, which was resistant to the strain of fungus at the time.

“For those who buy their bananas in supermarkets, the Cavendish may well be the only variety they know,” said Nature.

The fungus is nearly impossible to get out of the soil, Nature notes. The pathogen rots banana plants, turning their tissues into a “putrefying mixture of brown, black, and blood-red” that smells like garbage, according to a 2011 New Yorker article about the emerging blight.

It’s likely that the fungus will spread to Latin America “in the near future,” researcher Gert Kema told the publication. That would be devastating to the banana industry and Americans’ eating habits, given that Latin America and the Caribbean represent 80 percent of banana exports. To fend off the possible fungal attack on Cavendish populations, growers may need to resort to a method that’s worked in the past and replace the Cavendish with a fungus-resistant variety.

Bananas are Americans’ favorite fruit, outpacing apples, watermelon, grapes, strawberries and other fruit, according to the Department of Agriculture. But our favorite fruit has been the Cavendish banana for over sixty years now. Changing the fruit in the Chiquita and Dole packages might take a little getting used to.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/devastating-fungus-may-mean-end-of-days-for-top-banana/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/16/banana-fungus-threatens-plantations-fruit-supply_n_4453573.html

Farmers weigh in on new food safety rules … express concerns about the regulatory process

Foodborne illnesses are always a concern in the U.S. food supply. E. coli and salmonella are among the outbreaks we’ve become fairly used to hearing about in the news. FoodFacts.com follows food recalls on our website to keep our community notified of issues with specific products that often include foodborne illnesses. In January of 2011 the firm major reform of food safety laws in seven decades was enacted. The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed with the purpose of making food safer and reducing foodborne illness. It’s been two years and the FDA has put forward a draft for the new rules which has been open for public comment.

According to the Farm Bureau, however, the new regulations may just be too broad to do this job the way it needs to be done. Farmers have very specific concerns with the new regulations and believe that the FDA seems to be unwilling to focus specifically on the commodities that are most often associated with foodborne illness.

“We urge the FDA to reconsider standards that take into account the relative risks and comparative benefits associated with individual commodities. The FDA should initially propose regulations for only those commodities with a history of microbial contamination,” the Farm Bureau wrote in lengthy comments recently submitted to the FDA.

Only once those regulations are successfully put in place and enforced, should the FDA even consider expanding regulations to cover other commodities.

“We know that there have been problems with E. coli in leafy greens or with salmonella in tomatoes, for example, and the industry has voluntarily taken the initiative to curb some of those problems,” said Kelli Ludlum, American Farm Bureau Federation food safety specialist. “That’s where it really makes sense for FDA to focus their efforts. Unfortunately, they’ve chosen to go significantly broader than that and regulate a whole scope of commodities that have never had foodborne illnesses, and, because of the way they’re grown and consumed, are very unlikely to have those issues.”

Including low- and no-contamination risk commodities is a waste of both growers’ and the governments’ time and money.

“Instead of shrinking the size of the haystack in which they’re looking for that public health threat needle, by choosing to regulate all produce, they’re only making that haystack bigger, which neither farmers nor government inspectors and regulators have the resources for,” Ludlum said.

Specifically, because considerable changes to the draft rules are expected to be made as a result of public comments, the Farm Bureau believes a second draft of the proposed rule should be put out in order to work through the regulatory process adequately. Congressional lawmakers agree and are also calling for another round of comments. 30 senators and 45 House members said they were concerned about the impact of proposed rules on farmers and businesses that an additional comment period could help alleviate.

“We encourage the FDA to release a second draft of the combined produce safety, preventive controls for human food and animal feed, foreign supplier verification program and third-party audit certification rules to allow for sufficient review as to how all the rules are intended to work together,” Farm Bureau wrote.

Farmers are clearly concerned by the possibility of over-regulation that may not be necessary to ensure the safety of the food supply. While new regulation has clearly been needed and food safety is of the utmost importance to all Americans, the Farm Bureau’s concerns certainly pose a significant question regarding the FDA’s overarching approach to the issue. Time and money are important resources for both the government and America’s farmers. We’d be happy to see a second round of public comments to help the FDA arrive at a sensible set of much needed food safety rules that work for the government, the growers and consumers.

http://fbnews.fb.org/Templates/Article.aspx?id=38139

Holiday Cheer: Honey Baked Ham Edition

Next week, millions of families will sit down to a wonderful holiday feast. There are so many traditions for that feast that it’s often difficult to zero in on one main dish that defines the meal. Often our heritage comes into play when planning our feast. Folks of different ethnic backgrounds have different dishes that play a starring role at the table. But the honey baked ham is a common superstar for a variety of reasons.

First, there are plenty of servings in the average five pound ham. Second, most holiday ham recipes don’t require a lot of fuss to prepare, allowing the cook to attend to other, more detailed dishes that will inevitably involve more time and effort. And third, most folks view ham as a “healthier” meal option – which it can be if you’re careful. Unfortunately, most traditional recipes for honey baked ham leave much to be desired in terms of nutrition facts.

Because FoodFacts.com is sensitive when it comes to the ingredients in our foods, ham can be a “touchy subject” for us. Right out of the gate, we’ll say that unless the ham is uncured, we’d rather stay away from it. But even an uncured ham prepared in the traditional manner won’t leave you much room for the rest of the feast. Let’s take a quick look …

Each five ounce serving of traditional honey baked ham contains about:

Calories: 520
Fat:          28.3g
Sodium: 1492 mg — more than half the average adult’s daily recommended intake in one serving!
Sugar:     38.6g – that’s over 9 teaspoons of sugar per serving

We want to be able to enjoy our entire meal – not just the main event. Nutrition facts like this make that difficult to do. What about the mashed potatoes, the vegetable dishes and the desserts?

We can definitely do better with this holiday feast superstar! It will be just as tasty and satisfying and save you and your guests a tremendous amount of calories, fat, sodium and sugar. Most importantly, it will leave you some room to indulge in the other dishes sure to be crowding your holiday table.

Ingredients

One five pound, bone in, uncured spiral ham
¼ cup pineapple juice
¼ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place ham, cut end down, in a large 13 x 9 pan.
3. In a small bowl, mix together pineapple juice and orange juice. Spoon 2 tablespoons over ham. Bake ham for 5 minutes. Remove from oven drizzle 2 more tablespoons all over ham. Bake for an additional 5 minutes and spoon the remaining juices over the ham. Remove ham from oven.
4. In another bowl, mix together brown sugar, honey and 1 tablespoon of orange juice.
Brush over ham. Place ham back in oven and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

While this requires a bit more attention (and a lot less sugar) than traditional recipes, you’ll be quite happy with the results. And you’ll be even happier when you take a look at the nutrition facts for a five ounce serving:

Calories: 165
Fat:          10.5g
Sodium: 785 mg.
Sugar:     5g

We’re really happy with the difference here! FoodFacts.com knows that with a little careful thought and preparation, we can all make our holiday meals a healthier experience without sacrificing flavor or giving up traditional favorites. We all expect a great feast to be indulgent, but we’d rather not be paying for that indulgence for weeks to come! With recipes like this we can satisfy our cravings with much less concern. Stay tuned for more Holiday Cheer from FoodFacts.com. We promise, we won’t forget dessert!

Staying healthy during the holidays

Our holiday focus zeroes in on our tendency to overindulge at this time of year. Please don’t get us wrong … FoodFacts.com loves treating ourselves during this season just as much as anyone else! Snacks … cookies … desserts … specialty cocktails … the pleasures of the season are plentiful … and we’re certainly not going to tell you not to indulge.

But we are going to tell you that it would be beneficial to indulge intelligently. What’s your strategy for staying healthy during the holidays? You really do need to have one so that you can fully enjoy the season without guilt … or repercussions. So we’re sharing some tips we can all use during the holiday festivities that will help us keep on track, even though we are happy to enjoy the many opportunities on hand to indulge.

Don’t forget about water …
Let’s make sure that we keep drinking water during holidays. More than 50 percent of the human body is made of water. Bodies need water to function and you don’t want to dehydrate. Dehydration means your metabolism coming to a grinding halt and increasing your body’s inflammation levels, often resulting in weight loss resistance. By the time you realize you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Drink a large glass of water when you wake up. Always have water on hand to sip throughout the day. Water can help you feel fuller, longer and help your body process the foods you’re eating. It’s important all year long … but right now, it’s more important than it usually is.

Make sure you get enough sleep
The season is all about parties … and some of them can run late. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be craving bad food in the morning. Missing one night’s sleep can throw your fat-burning hormones for a loop. When you finally do wake up, your body will be asking you for foods you normally wouldn’t be eating – things with too much fat, sugar and salt. Especially during this time of year, you need at least seven hours of real sleep every night. If you make sure you get it, you’ll have a happier holiday season.

Don’t forget your exercise
We’re all really busy this time of year. Make sure you don’t interrupt your exercise routine. It’s really not o.k. to neglect it. Work out on your regular schedule, no matter what you need to do to make that happen. Remember, you’re eating and drinking more right now than during other times of the year.

There’s a lot of stress during the holidays
We have to buy gifts, go to parties, make phone calls, see family, maybe we need to get on a plane or a train or a bus … scheduling is difficult (at best). Then we’re consuming more caffeine, more alcohol, more sugar and more salt. Mix that all together and your cortisol level is going to be higher than it is all year. Cortisol is the stress hormone and when its levels are higher in your body, you’re going to be storing more fat. What’s your go-to stress relief method? Meditation, yoga, exercise, walking, deep breathing???? Whatever you do, do more of it until after the new year.

Make sure to eat your daily fiber
Fiber slows stomach emptying, dials down your hunger hormone ghrelin, balances blood sugar, and reduces cravings so you’re less likely to eat bad food. The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention recommend a daily intake of fiber of 25 to 35 grams for adults. During this season of overindulgence, make sure you eat your daily fiber requirements with high-fiber foods … berries, lentil, leafy greens, nuts and seeds.

Enjoy your holiday! Eat what you’d like to eat, drink what you’d like to drink and have a wonderful season! You can do all of that without sacrificing your healthy lifestyle! Keep track and stay smart and active. None of us indulges 24 hours a day. Make those other hours count for your health and well being. Then you won’t have to miss out on anything.