Monthly Archives: March 2014

Burger King offers to be the main course for the upcoming Kardashian/West nuptials

burger-king-logo-kim-kanye-wedding-300x197.jpgJust imagine it. You’re a guest at one of the most glamorous weddings in history. You’re probably in France, somewhere on the outskirts of Paris. Every extravagant detail has been scrupulously planned and orchestrated. It is, as they say, “over the top.” Dinner is finally served and on your exquisitely beautiful, fine china plate sits …

A Whopper and fries.

That’s right, Burger King is offering to cater Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding reception.

While we don’t think that will fly with Kim and Kanye, it’s certainly been worthy of some press. Just exactly how did that offer get extended anyway? Burger King isn’t in the business of catering weddings, especially not for a couple who may currently be the most famous duo on the planet.

It appears that there are rumors circling that claim that Kanye has bought Kim a chain of ten European Burger King restaurants. Supposedly, a source shared the information with a U.K. tabloid, saying that “As always, Kanye is thinking outside the box when it comes to gifts for Kim. She owns all the jewels anyone could ever want, so he is taking the practical route by investing in businesses for her instead. He knows the fast food industry is reliable and lucrative, plus BK is international so he thinks it’s the perfect fit for Kim.”

It seems difficult to believe that fast food restaurants would hold any business appeal for Kim Kardashian. Let’s see, there’s a clothing line, clothing stores, makeup, fragrance, tanning products, and jewelry bearing the Kardashian name right now. We’re pretty sure the Kardashian Kids line just launched, but honestly it’s hard to keep up. We can’t understand how 10 Burger King restaurants in Europe fit into the growing portfolio. But we guess you never know!

“Burger King Corp. is familiar with the recent news stories regarding Kanye West and Kim Kardashian,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We are unaware of any purchase of BURGER KING® restaurants made by either Mr. West or Ms. Kardashian, but we’re available to cater the wedding!”

Haven’t yet heard a peep from the happy couple about that suggestion. FoodFacts.com can’t imagine that we will. While it was certainly a generous offer, we’re pretty sure that Burger King isn’t expecting to hear from them either. With hundreds of guests traveling to France for an extravagant wedding celebration, we’re fairly certain that the feast will reflect the setting — and that the ingredients chosen to create that feast don’t exist anywhere in the Burger King repertoire!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/28/burger-king-kim-kardashian-wedding_n_5050685.html

http://www.upi.com/Entertainment_News/2014/03/30/Kanye-West-Kim-Kardashian-wedding-to-be-catered-by-Burger-King/4901396202865/

Under the Bun: Dunkin Donuts Eggs Benedict Breakfast Sandwich

egg.jpgIt’s that time again! Let’s go under the bun at Dunkin Donuts with their new “brunch” offering, the Eggs Benedict Breakfast Sandwich.

We’re sure that by now you’ve either heard about it or read about it. If you haven’t tried it yet, FoodFacts.com definitely thinks that there are things you should know before you decide. It’s important to point out that many of the online reviews have included information about how the “hollandaise sauce” doesn’t drip. Actually we’ve read that it doesn’t move. So we had a few preconceived notions before we read the nutrition facts or the ingredient list.

Here’s what we found:

Nutrition Facts
The numbers here aren’t the worst we’ve ever seen.

Calories:                    300
Fat:                             9 grams
Saturated Fat:          4.5 grams
Cholesterol:              90 mg
Sodium:                     790 mg

In the world of fast food breakfasts, the Eggs Benedict Breakfast Sandwich is actually better than most. That might not make it ideal, but if you were to base your choice of this option simply on the nutrition facts it might appear to be a better alternative to say the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a croissant.

But here at FoodFacts.com, we need to dig a little deeper under that bun.

Ingredients
English Muffin: Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Wheat Starch, Yeast, Sugarcane Fiber, Contains 2% or less of: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Chicory Root, Degerminated Yellow Corn Flour, Degerminated Yellow Corn Meal, Whole Wheat Durum Flour, Wheat Gluten, Vinegar, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Salt, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Fumaric Acid; Fried Egg: Egg Whites, Water, Egg Yolks, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Sauteed Flavor (Soybean Oil, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Natural Flavor), Salt, Artificial Butter Flavor (Propylene Glycol, Artificial Flavor), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Coarse Ground Black Pepper; Black Forest Ham: Cured with Water, Salt, Potassium Lactate, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite; Hollandaise Flavored Spread: Pasteurized Milk and Cream, Water, Maltodextrin, Whey Protein Concentrate, Natural Flavor, Salt, Modified Food Starch, Sugar, Cheese Culture, Whey, Sodium Citrate, Yeast Extract, Butter, Stabilizers (Carob Bean and/or Xanthan and/or Guar Gums), Enzyme Modified Butter, Spice, Turmeric and Annatto (Colors), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Lactic Acid, Sodium Caseinate, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Diacetate, Dehydrated Butter, Lemon Concentrate, Vinegar, Sodium Phosphate, Lemon Oil, Enzymes.

The sandwich doesn’t seem like a better alternative after reading all that, does it?

88 ingredients. 11 controversial ingredients. 9 sources of hidden MSG. We can say with confidence that we now completely understand why the sauce doesn’t drip. In the ingredient list, Dunkin refers to it as Hollandaise Flavored Spread, not sauce. It’s too coagulated to move, so spread made more sense, we guess.

All things considered, we’re not going to be biting into this one.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/sandwiches/breakfastsandwiches/egg_benedict.html

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Sandwiches-Wraps/Dunkin-Donuts-Eggs-Benedict-Breakfast-Sandwich-1-Sandwich/91883

White House pastry chef leaves post to promote healthy eating

Yep. That’s what we said. Most likely though, it’s not what you’ve been reading. Contrary to what the announcements might infer, Bill Yosses is not tired of Michelle Obama forcing him to prepare healthier foods. As a matter of fact, it appears that our First Lady has actually inspired him to explore the relationship between food and health.

There have been a number of variations on a theme that reads something along the lines of “White House pastry chef resigns: ‘I don’t want to demonize cream, butter, sugar and eggs.’ ”

And the full story kind of belies the narrative of the “demonize” frame.

Yosses has been White House pastry chef since 2007. President Obama’s nickname for him is “Crust Master.” He gave a lengthy phone interview to Marian Burros of The New York Times upon the announcement of his departure. Its lead notes that the first lady is indeed the reason – but because she’s piqued his interest in the relationship between food and health.

Yosses said he’s moving to New York after he departs the White House in June and hopes to put together a foundation or some sort of organization that promotes “delicious food as healthy food,” according to the Times. There are also family reasons for the change: His husband of three years, Charlie Jandusay Fabella Jr., lives in New York.

Yosses said that he thinks food knowledge, as in the culinary arts, should be taught in schools. He added that for formal occasions, 20 percent of desserts are still old-style cream-heavy and that he does not want to “demonize” the ingredients that go into those, given their tastiness. But he has worked with Mrs. Obama to add fruit purée and other healthier ingredients that are still appetizing.

“She has done it with humor and goodwill, without preaching,” Yosses told the Times.
Does that sound like somebody leaving in a huff because doughnuts are forbidden? TheBlaze, Glenn Beck’s media venture, does not think so. Blaze writer Oliver Darcy did a quick rumor check and decided that Yosses’s admitted fondness for cream was not the reason for his departure.

More healthy-eating inspiration from our First Lady. FoodFacts.com believes that her committment and dedication to nutrition has legs. It’s reaching the masses.

Michelle Obama is certainly inspirational. She’s helping millions of people in our country become educated food consumers, conscious eaters and healthier human beings. And now she’s inspired the White House pastry chef to take up that same cause outside of his privileged post. There’s really no reason for a trendy negative spin here. Healthy food news is good news!

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/Decoder-Buzz/2014/0319/No-White-House-pastry-chef-didn-t-quit-because-Michelle-Obama-is-anti-cream-video

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/03/18/291196601/a-bittersweet-goodbye-white-house-pastry-chef-to-move-on 

Too much salt = aging cells in obese teens

salt.jpgWe’re always hearing about the negative effects of high salt intake. Too much sodium in our diets has been linked to higher risk of stroke, heart disease and certain types of cancers. Yet, it’s difficult for many people to avoid. Considering the idea that most of the sodium we consume is as a result of processed foods and not the salt shakers at our kitchen tables, the only way we can confidently reduce our sodium intake is to prepare our meals at home from scratch. And that’s something that becomes even more challenging when we focus on teenagers, who are out and about and generally eat their way through the day outside of our kitchens. Concerns about what high levels of sodium mean for overweight and obese teens are just now coming to light.

In a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology & Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014, researchers found that overweight teenagers who consume too much salt exhibit signs of faster cell aging.

In their study, the researchers divided 766 subjects, who were between 14 and 18-years old, into two groups based on whether they consume more than 4,100 mg of salt a day or less than 2,400 mg of salt a day. The subjects in both groups notably consume more than the American Heart Association’s recommended 1,500 mg of salt serving per day.

The researchers observed that the protective ends of the chromosome called telomeres, which naturally shorten with age, were much shorter in overweight and obese subjects with high salt intake but not in teens with normal weight but high salt intake.

“Even in these relatively healthy young people, we can already see the effect of high sodium intake, suggesting that high sodium intake and obesity may act synergistically to accelerate cellular aging,” said study lead author Haidong Zhu, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Georgia.

Zhu said that overweight teenagers who want to reduce their risk of heart disease should consider reducing their salt intake and this may even be easier than losing weight.

“Lowering sodium intake, especially if you are overweight or obese, may slow down the cellular aging process that plays an important role in the development of heart disease,” Zhu said. “Lowering sodium intake may be an easier first step than losing weight for overweight young people who want to lower their risk of heart disease.”

Zhu also pointed out that most of the salt in the diet comes from processed food and urged parents to prepare fresh and healthier foods more often.

“The majority of sodium in the diet comes from processed foods, so parents can help by cooking fresh meals more often and by offering fresh fruit rather than potato chips for a snack,” Zhu said.

Encouraging teens to eat real food can be a challenge. Certainly it’s good advice to cook fresh meals as often as possible. Yet, even parents who prepare meals from scratch every day face the issue that teenagers are spending less time in the home than they did when they were younger. FoodFacts.com likes the idea of choosing a variety of healthier snacks for the home, in hopes of finding a few that teens can seek out when they’re outside the home. It may help us help them to make healthier choices when we’re not there to guide them.

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/4648/20140321/high-intake-of-salt-in-obese-teens-causes-cells-to-age-faster-study.htm

Who’s defining sustainable beef for McDonald’s?

Or better yet, exactly what is “sustainable beef” anyway? It appears that this question has been discussed quite a bit in the last few years. And even back in January, when McDonald’s announced that it will begin the transition to sustainable beef in 2016, the answers weren’t very clear. That might explain why their plan was met with skepticism.

That plan didn’t provide any answers either. In the weeks that followed, McDonald’s continued working with a group called the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) to come up with a working definition of the term, and on Monday, GRSB released a draft of its definition for public comment. In addition to McDonald’s, GRSB’s new set of sustainability guidelines will also be implemented by the group’s other members, which include Walmart, Darden Restaurants (the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster), Cargill, Tyson Foods, and the pharmaceutical company Merck.

Despite its name, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef is not so much an environmental organization as a meat industry group. Its executive committee includes representatives from McDonald’s, Elanco, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Just two environmental groups—the World Wildlife Fund and Netherlands-based Solidaridad—are part of its executive board. Cameron Bruett, president of GRSB and chief sustainability officer for JBS USA, a beef-processing company, said that McDonald’s, along with other members, helped come up with the organization’s “sustainability” definition and guidelines.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the group’s leadership, the GRSB’s guidelines are short on specifics. Instead, the group provides a definition for sustainability that is open to members’ interpretation. The plan says, for example, that sustainable companies must provide “stable, safe employment for at least the minimum wage where applicable” and institute “where applicable, third-party validation of practices by all members of the value chain.” But it doesn’t doesn’t specify which third-party groups should conduct audits, and doesn’t explain how workplaces should be monitored to prevent labor violations. In its section on climate change, it says that GRSB members should ensure that “emissions from beef systems, including those from land use conversion, are minimized and carbon sequestration is optimized.” But it does not include any specific examples of target emissions standards or grazing policies.

Also absent from the plan is any mention of the beef industry’s use of antibiotics. In the United States, four-fifths of all antibiotics go to livestock operations. McDonald’s uses antibiotics to “treat, prevent, and control disease” in its food-producing animals, according to a McDonald’s spokesman.

Using antibiotics to prevent disease—rather than only to treat infections—has been criticized by some food-safety experts. But the new plan doesn’t recommend that members ditch the practice. “I don’t know if there’s any justification for banning antibiotics in feed, I know that’s popular in some media circles, I haven’t seen the scientific evidence,” said Bruett. Yet studies have shown that antibiotic-resistant bugs can jump from animals to humans.

GRSB says that the lack of details in the plan is intentional; it “deliberately avoids” metrics that could be used to measure progress in sustainability, instead leaving it up to local roundtables to tailor the recommendations to specific regions. Bruett noted that “You could come out with a global standard, but it would simply be ignored, and it wouldn’t lead to improvements among members.” He adds, “There’s all the discussion about sustainability, but it’s by people who have very little knowledge or participation in the livestock industry…you’ll never achieve [improvement] unless you have producer participation or support.​”

Hmmm. When we look closely at these statements, FoodFacts.com still doesn’t come away with a usable definition of sustainable beef. O.k., there seem to be some guidelines taking shape, but they seem to be fairly loose. The use of the term “where applicable” more than once might lead us to believe that members of the industry get to define the term sustainable for themselves, rather than having it defined for them.

Not that we’re suspicious about the intentions, but we could easily see this as a way for a variety of companies (McDonald’s included) to change the public’s perception of the food they serve, without actually changing the food. While the issue is certainly not finalized (as the definition is still open for public comment), we’d like to call the public’s attention to the other concerns regarding the majority of items on McDonald’s menu. If the company is looking to change perceptions, it would behoove them to begin with much-needed changes to the ingredients used in the foods they serve. And that could easily change public perception without any arguments about definition.

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/03/mcdonalds-sustainable-beef
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-20/fleshing-out-the-incredibly-vague-concept-of-sustainable-beef

University of Alabama nutrition expert claims water and weight loss are not connected

water.jpgHow many glasses of water did you drink today? For years, we’ve been told that drinking water is for more than hydration and health, it’s also key to weight loss. Most respected diet plans encourage drinking about eight, 8-oz. glasses of water per day. But now, a nutrition expert is calling that into question.

Dr Beth Kitchin, a nutrition expert at the University of Alabama has debunked myths related to drinking water, weight loss and calories.

Dieters are often advised to drink a lot of water to help shed weight. But Kitchin said that it is just a myth that drinking water aids slimming.

“There is very little evidence that drinking water promotes weight loss – it is one of those self-perpetuating myths. I’m not saying drinking water isn’t good – but only one study showed people who drank more water burned a few extra calories, and it was only a couple of extra calories a day,” Kitchin, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor of nutrition sciences, said in a statement.

There is also another myth that says people must drink eight glasses of water a day.
Kitchin said that it is important that the body gets sufficient amount of fluids every day. But it does not necessarily have to be only from water. As of now, there is no evidence proving water’s role in dissolving fat.

Although water is the best liquid to drink; green tea, coffee, diet soda, juices and squash are also hydrating.

“People think coffee doesn’t count, but actually it does. When you drink coffee, your body is retaining much of that fluid – especially for people who are habituated to drinking caffeine, as the body adapts, resulting in a reduced loss of fluids.”

Drinking cold water helps lose weight is another common myth. Kitchin believes that water might help burn extra calories but it does not have sufficient impact to assist weight loss.

The only way to lose weight is to consume lesser calories. Kitchin recommends eating fruits, vegetables and soups. Enrolling in long-running weight management programs like EatRight by UAB or Volumetrics can also help.

Kitchin’s claims contradict the conclusion of previous studies that found drinking two cups of water 20 to 30 minutes before every meal helps people lose weight quickly.

Water is good for our bodies. It doesn’t have an ingredient list (at least it shouldn’t). It helps keep our skin clear and provides the essential hydration we need. There’s even research backing up the claim that drinking water prior to meals will help curb hunger, and therefore, help with weight loss. So FoodFacts.com isn’t necessarily jumping off of water-weight loss connection band wagon just yet. We’d like more information before we take that leap.

http://www.universityherald.com/articles/8152/20140315/drink-water-quench-thirst-burn-calories-lose-weight-nutrition-expert.htm

Popchips go from “all natural” to “naturally delicious” in class-action lawsuit

Popchips.jpgAnd another one bites the dust in the “all natural” food claims on-going battle. A class-action lawsuit was filed against Popchips back in April of 2013 claiming that the brand knowingly deceived consumers by marketing its chip varieties as all natural when a number of the ingredients used in their formulation cannot be classified that way. More pointedly, the lawsuit states that “the artificial and synthetic ingredients contained in Defendant’s Popchips include autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, dextrose, disodium phosphate, lactic acid, malic acid,
maltodextrin, sodium caseinate, sodium citrate, tartaric acid, torula yeast, xanthan gum, and yeast extract.”

Earlier this month, Popchips acquiesced, settling the lawsuit for $2.4 million while claiming they had not misled consumers and had not made any false claims. At the same time, the company agreed to change the verbiage on their website, in their ads and on their product packaging from “all natural” to “naturally delicious.”

These lawsuits have been popular in the last few years, and that popularity isn’t dying out. FoodFacts.com has to wonder why manufacturers continue to make all natural claims when their ingredient lists certainly can’t back them up at all.

Let’s take a look at a popular Popchips flavor just so we can all understand a little more about the lawsuit and the ensuing settlement.

Popchips Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips
Potato(es) Natural (Potato(es) Flour, Potato(es) Starch) , Safflower and/or Sunflower Oil,Seasoning (Lactose, Salt, Buttermilk Powder, Onion(s) Powder, Sour Cream Solids [Cream, Milk Non-Fat, Cultures] , Sugar, Corn Maltodextrin, Sunflower Oil, Garlic Powder, Lactic Acid,Sodium Caseinate, Whey, Spice(s), Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Flavor(s) Natural [Including Butter Extractives] ) , Rice Flour, Salt

Our database has identified three controversial ingredients out of the 27 listed: corn maltodextrin, sodium caseinate, and natural flavors. All three are identified as hidden sources of MSG. Let’s just focus on the sodium caseinate. The lawsuit defines this as follows:

Sodium Caseinate is a highly processed substance. It is produced through the
mechanical or chemical extraction of casein from milk and the addition of sodium
hydroxide to dissolve the casein and stabilize the proteins for a longer shelf life.
The resulting mixture is evaporated and leaves a tasteless, odorless, white powder
that is added to food to act as an emulsifier and stabilizer.

Doesn’t sound all that natural, does it? In addition, one of the selling points listed on the website is no added preservatives. Since sodium caseinate helps to ensure a longer shelf life of the foods in which it is used, we can reasonably assume that it actually is a preservative.

Natural flavors, as many in our community understand, aren’t really natural at all. They are derived from natural substances, but can and do undergo chemical processes in order to extract various compounds from the substances. In addition, natural flavors are made up of many ingredients which are not disclosed on any list. In other words, not everything about a natural flavor has to be natural.

An example from the ingredient list of Barbecue Popchips is natural smoke flavor. The compound AM 01 gives natural smoke flavor its characteristic taste, this ingredient is usually made by burning beech wood (Fagus sylvatica l.) and the production process consist on the following steps: pyrolisis (heating, burning) of wood particles in a controlled environment, condensation of the hot vapors, dissolution of the raw product in a solvent and subsequent cleaning, and finally distillation of the solution with a desired concentration of AM 01. AM 01 is controversial. In 2009 the European Food Safety Administration evaluated the safety (genotoxic potential) of AM 01, they stated that the use of this ingredient should be of safety concern.

Not especially appetizing and not what we would consider natural.

For us, it isn’t surprising that Popchips, like all the manufacturers who have been named in these lawsuits, chose to settle. Product differentiation is a necessary element in marketing. If a product can’t set itself apart from its competitors, it won’t survive. It does seem that many manufacturers jump on the “healthy product” bandwagon without justification in order to accomplish that differentiation without much thought. Claiming their products are “all natural,” especially in an overcrowded, well-branded snack category might seem like a fairly immediate “win” for some manufacturers. Until some very educated, no-nonsense consumers take another look.

If you bought Popchips between January 1st 2007 and November 14th, 2013 thinking the product was all natural, you’re eligible to file a claim. Click here for the details: https://popchipssettlement.com/mainpage/FrequentlyAskedQuestions.aspx

http://www.washingtonian.com/blogs/wellbeing/news/popchips-admit-its-snacks-arent-all-natural-either.php   

http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Regulation/PopChips-agrees-2.4m-all-natural-lawsuit-settlement-settlements-also-likely-in-Kashi-and-Bear-Naked-cases

 

 

 

 

 

Happy National Nutrition Month! How do you “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right?”

eatting right.jpgMarch is National Nutrition Month. This is the time for us all to focus on broadening our nutritional awareness and our healthy eating habits. This year’s theme, “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,” is also encouraging us to focus on the flavor of healthy eating.

FoodFacts.com thinks that this is a great new direction for the occasion! Too many Americans still associate healthy eating with a lack of flavor. Some of us even have some bad memories of our moms attempting to include different versions of health foods into family favorites. My own mom was no exception. Many decades ago, when adding bran to your diet was a popular, healthy addition, my mother got a little carried away. Growing up in an Italian household, meatballs were a Sunday meal staple. She decided to substitute bran for the bread in her meatballs one Sunday. It was rather unforgettable and it would be difficult to accurately describe the look on my dad’s face when he bit into a meatball. If you know anything about Italian Sunday meals, you know they’re rather long, boisterous affairs. That one wasn’t. At all.

We’ve come so far in defining healthy eating and healthy habits. These many decades later, there are so many flavorful ways to incorporate healthy foods (and healthy cooking) into our diets. We can “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” without sacrificing taste or meal satisfaction. So we want to share some ideas with our community to help you get the most enjoyment from your healthy diet.

Fruit in the fridge
Apples, pears, bananas, grapes, peaches, apricots, cherries, melons, berries … we love them all. We sometimes notice though, that we don’t get as much of them as we would if we have them readily available. Many of us like to choose a variety of them, slice up those that aren’t bite size and mix them together in a container to keep in the fridge. Great mid-afternoon snack. Perfect for taking care of a little craving after dinner.

Parfaits for breakfast
They’re appealing. They’re tasty. And when you make them yourself, they’re healthy. Good quality plain yogurt, low-fat granola and the fruit of your choice make for an interesting and satisfying breakfast. Kids love these, too. They look like dessert!

Meatless Monday
We really like this idea. With all the research that’s come out regarding plant-based diets, the mediterranean diets and the benefits of plant-based proteins, many of us here really enjoy reserving one day of the week for meatless meals. It allows us to be creative and experiment. This winter we’ve enjoyed a variety of soups — mushroom barley, potato, tomato and broccoli to name just a few. Beans and root vegetables can make a great, flavorful stew. Let’s move away from the idea that vegetarian meals can’t be hearty and delicious.

Nuts and seeds
In the last twelve months or so we’ve seen some great, meaningful research some out about a variety of nuts and seeds. Walnuts, almonds and chia seeds come to mind, but there are so many options. Sprinkle them in oatmeal or yogurt. Enjoy them over salads. Incorporate them into sauces. They add a distinctive crunch and depth of flavor to whatever dish in which they’re included!

Kids in the kitchen
Looking for ways to encourage your kids to make better food choices? Get them cooking! Kids are naturally creative souls and there’s no better way to put that creativity to work. Their involvement in food preparation actually helps them to try new foods and gets them excited about their meals. Even if they’re not old enough to slice and dice, there are still many different ways they can help out. They can learn to measure and mix ingredients, choose different herbs and spices and help to create new recipes. They’ll love it and you’ll have a great time. And who knows, with a little encouragement you may have a future Bobby Flay or Mario Batali in the family!

However you choose to celebrate National Nutrition Month, make it healthy and delicious for the whole family! “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” throughout March and all year long!

Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s … did you get yours this St. Patrick’s Day?

366305547,366305548,366305549.jpgWe were wondering … and if you did, do you know what was in it?

It’s an unmistakable concoction. The Shamrock Shake is bright green (a little too bright for our taste here at FoodFacts.com). One look and you know for certain that this is a St. Patrick’s Day specialty, of the same order of the green beer and green eggs and ham sold at local pubs all around the country to celebrate this particularly festive holiday when everyone experiences some good Irish cheer.

So in case you did run into your local McDonald’s and grab one, we thought we’d take some time to tell you exactly what you consumed. It isn’t pretty (even if you really like the shade of green featured in your cup).

We’ll begin with the ingredient list:

Ice Cream Reduced Fat (Milk, Sugar, Cream, Milk Nonfat Solids, Corn Syrup Solids, Mono and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Dextrose, Sodium Citrate, Flavors Artificial Vanilla, Sodium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Disodium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate) ,Syrup (Corn Syrup High Fructose, Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Flavors Natural, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Yellow 5, Blue 1) , Cream Whipped (Cream, Milk Nonfat, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Contains 1% or less of the following: [Mono and Diglycerides, Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80, Beta Carotene,Flavoring Artificial and Natural, Tocopherols Mixed Vitamin E] ) , Cherries Maraschino(Cherries, Water, Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Sugar, Malic Acid, Citric Acid,Flavoring Artificial and Natural, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Red 40,Sulphur Sulfur Dioxide [Contains Sulfite] )

To save you from actually having to count the ingredients, there are 54 of them. Seems a bit heavy handed to us for one shake. To make matters even worse, 20 of those ingredients are controversial. And that bright green color that qualifies it as a “Shamrock Shake,” that’s Yellow 5 and Blue 1. We’d like to point out that while the shake is green, there’s no such thing as Shamrock flavor, so we’re not exactly sure what McDonald’s was going for here. At least the Irish Creme coffees from Dunkin Donuts are trying to simulate Irish Creme flavor. This is just a green shake with bad ingredients.

The nutrition facts for the Shamrock Shake are no better. Let’s take a look at the 16 oz. medium size shake:

Calories:                             660
Fat:                                      19 g
Saturated Fat:                   12 g
Cholesterol:                       75 mg
Sugar:                                 93 g

Yes, you read that right. There are 93 g of sugar in a medium Shamrock Shake. That’s 23.5 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR. Wow! The World Health Organization wants us to limit sugar intake to 6 teaspoons a day. So one medium Shamrock Shake is almost 4 DAYS worth of sugar intake.

If you treated yourself to a Shamrock Shake this St. Patrick’s Day, you might want to count your sugar grams carefully for the remainder of the week. If you didn’t have one, don’t feel badly about missing out on McDonald’s once a year green “treat.” Oh, and either way, next year, you can find plenty of other, far better treats to indulge in for a little Erin Go Bragh. Sometimes we can take a sweet treat much too far!

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/DessertsShakes/McDonalds-McCafe-McShamrock-Shake-Medium-16-fl-oz/91918

Under the bun: Starbucks new breakfast sandwiches

starbucks.jpgSome months it’s actually difficult to keep track of the new menu introductions from the fast food chains, and March is certainly no exception. This time, we have new product news from Starbucks.

While some don’t consider Starbucks to be fast food, it’s important to keep in mind that the chain is relying more and more on its food items as an integral part of its future success. About half of Starbucks total sales occur before 11 a.m. So we shouldn’t be surprised that earlier this month, they introduced four new breakfast sandwiches to the menu.

Let’s take a peek “under the bun,” as FoodFacts.com likes to say, and see what’s really going on with these four brand new breakfast choices.

Vegetable & Fontiago Breakfast Sandwich
This new option certainly sounds healthy enough. It features Spinach, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions and Fontiago cheese on a multigrain ciabatta bun. It also contains 470 calories, 17 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 910 mg of sodium. And while the ingredient list isn’t the worst we’ve seen, you’ll also enjoy some sulfur dioxide and caramel color.

Slow-Roasted Ham & Swiss Breakfast Sandwich
Simply ham, swiss cheese and egg on a croissant. Here you’ll be eating 490 calories, 25 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat and 830 mg of sodium. The saturated fat content equals 60 percent of your recommended daily intake. Not great. Natural flavors are included in the ingredient list, but there’s nothing else controversial listed.

Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich
Reduced-fat turkey bacon and reduced-fat white cheddar cheese on an organic wheat English muffin. This one actually is a better choice if you’re looking for a Starbucks breakfast sandwich. With 230 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat and 560 mg of sodium, it’s a lighter option. The English muffin is made with organic ingredients. Natural flavors appear in this ingredient list as well.

Egg & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich
This new sandwich is simply described as egg and cheddar cheese on multigrain toast, which certainly doesn’t sound bad. A closer look tells us that this simple sandwich will cost us 400 calories, 17 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat and 730 mg of sodium. We honestly weren’t expecting to find this particular set of nutrition facts in this sandwich. The good news here, though, is that there are no controversial ingredients included in this one at all.

FoodFacts.com “under the bun” conclusion: There’s definitely a mixed bag here. While most of these sandwiches are high in calories and fat (not to mention, saturated fat), the ingredient lists are better than many fast food breakfast choices available. The sandwiches aren’t the worst we’ve seen … but with a little work, they could be a lot better.

http://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/hot-breakfast/egg-cheddar-breakfast-sandwich

http://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/hot-breakfast/reduced-fat-turkey-bacon-breakfast-sandwich

http://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/hot-breakfast/slow-roasted-ham-swiss-breakfast-sandwich

http://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/hot-breakfast/vegetable-fontiago-breakfast-sandwich