Category Archives: health

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It’s time to rethink the snacks we put in our children’s travel bags

Summer traveling for families doesn’t just mean making new memories made up of fun activities and amazing adventures. For many, it also means carefree eating (read: disregarding nutritious foods and mindless munching unhealthy snacks). More often than not, parents pack their children’s bags with treats that may be filling, but are poor in nutrition and even pose risks to their health.

FoodFacts.com recently stated in a recent blog post that 43% of products marketed for children contain artificial food coloring, based on the new study published on Clinical Pediatrics. Many consumers are unaware that artificial food additives used to enhance color and flavor, and prolong shelf life are made from by-products of petroleum. You read that right – petroleum, that liquid mixture mined from the earth and refined to produce gasoline. So, before you head off to your family getaway this summer, you may want to rethink those bags of candies and chips you are packing for your children.

While we only discussed the known facts about Red Dye #40, it’s also worth noting other food colorants that are in our foods: Blue Dye #1, Blue Dye #2, Citrus Red Dye #2, Green Dye #3, Red Dye #3, Yellow Dye #5 and Yellow Dye #6. According to various studies, artificial food dyes can cause serious health problems including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Hyperactivity and other behavioral problems
  • Allergic reactions
  • Damage in chromosomes
  • Organ damage
  • Birth defects
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Hypoglycemia

When it comes to packing food for children, it wouldn’t hurt to grab ideas from well-known chefs. Take these turkey rolls that restaurateur and celebrity chef, Richard Blais, packs for his daughter, for instance. They’re tasty and healthy, and your kids can take them anywhere.

Barring any restrictions (such as quarantine regulations in specific borders, transportation rules and so on), here are healthy snacks you should be putting in your children’s travel pack:

  • Fresh or dried fruits
  • Sliced vegetables
  • “Good” candies
  • Raw nuts and trail mix
  • Homemade snacks like the aforementioned turkey rolls, healthy muffins and granola with dried fruits concoctions

Download the All My Food Facts app to find out if your favorite travel snack is good for you! Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.

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Recipe: Spinach salad with apples, cranberries, avocados and pecans in balsamic vinaigrette

Eating salad daily is one of the simplest ways you can do to jumpstart your efforts to implement healthy eating habits and dramatically improve your health. It is a convenient way to work in a heaping serving of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

Salads start off healthy, what with the natural ingredients that make the base. However, many salads wind up being unhealthy because of the toppings and dressings that people embellish them with either at home or at restaurants.

FoodFacts.com shares this salad recipe that’s guaranteed high in nutrition and low in calories.

Time: 30 minutes

Serving: 4

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine spinach, apples, cranberries and avocados.
  2. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and toss.
  3. Chop pecan halves into smaller bites and sprinkle on salad.
  4. Serve immediately.

 

Love salads? Find out how your favorite dressing fares in our health score with the all my foodfacts app. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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Foods you should eat to stay healthy this summer

Summer is officially here, and it is time to sit back and relax! Whether you’re off to epic outdoor adventures or just staying put for low-key backyard or poolside barbecues, there’s no doubt that the tranquility of the season makes eating, all the more, one of life’s simple pleasures.

Thankfully, summertime brings an abundance of fruits and vegetables available for us. So, while you’re gallivanting and gormandizing, FoodFacts.com lists foods that can help you stay in tip-top shape during the summer months.

Corn

Make corn your official side dish for those grilling sessions with family and friends! Corn contains two specific antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help form macular pigment that filter out the sun’s ultraviolet rays. To put it simply, corn is a natural sunblock that can help protect your skin from damages caused by the sun.

Tomatoes

Tomato is rich in lycopene that help protect your skin from sunburn, making it another great produce that you can add to your line of defense against the blazing summer sun. Bear in mind that tomato increases its lycopene content when processed and/or cooked.

Berries

Berries make for a delicious and healthy snack whether you’re eating them off of a bowl at home or off of a container when you’re on the road. Munching on berries can significantly improve your diet as they are rich in antioxidants and fiber. These fibrous fruits can help you combat constipation, which is a common problem when traveling.

Green tea

Green tea is one of the most highly recommended foods for detoxing and hydrating. It should be a staple regardless of where you are. In her article, A Top Chef’s Tips for Keeping It Healthy While Traveling, celebrity chef Marisa Churchill recommends bringing your own supply so you’ll always have some on hand and consuming 20 ounces of green tea per day.

Water

Water still remains the best way to stay cool and hydrated during the scorching summer months. Drink 16-32 ounces, plus additional amounts when you’re being active to replenish the loss from perspiration. Be sure to always have water with you when you are traveling. You may also want to consider bringing a portable water filter so you can have access to clean, drinking water wherever you go.

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Healthy dishes for Father’s Day cookout

It’s almost Father’s Day! Are you still looking for a great gift for Dad? Take a hint from the old adage, “the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and give him something he’ll truly appreciate: eau de grill.

Last month, FoodFacts.com shared some healthy recipes to prepare for Mom to treat her like the queen that she really is. Today, we’re sharing this perfect Father’s Day cookout menu to whip up this Sunday that will make the king of the grill really proud.

Brunch

maple-709982Get Dad all fired up by making his first Father’s Day meal special. The sweet flavor of maple syrup and the oak smokiness of a touch of bourbon make up the brilliance of this concoction. This will make Dad’s pre-grilling pancake brunch something he’ll definitely be glad to wake up to.

Get the recipe: Bourbon Maple Syrup

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Great Value Pure Maple Syrup

 

Appetizer

img_4867Warm that barbecue mojo up with some shrimp skewers. This dish is so easy to prepare that you may even want to start serving it to the family on a regular basis. This low-key, stress-free dish is great to get both the appetite and family conversations going.

Get the recipe: Pesto Shrimp Skewers

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Peeled & Deveined Large Uncooked Shrimp

Main Dish

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Dad is most likely going to expect the usual steak or burger, but he won’t be disappointed with this salmon dish for his main course. It’ll get him just as satisfied and filled – with fewer calories and much less fat, at that – he won’t be missing his favorite red meat staples.

Get the recipe: Plank-grilled sweet soy salmon

FoodFacts.com recommended ingredient: Goya Cooking Wine – Dry White

Side Dish

asparagus-353941This side dish recipe is low-calorie and low-carb, and could easily be the official side for every grilling get-together this summer. The acidity of the Sriracha toasted pecan vinaigrette pairs perfectly well with the nice, smoky flavor of the grilled asparagus.

Get the recipe: Grilled Asparagus with Sriracha Toasted Pecan Vinaigrette

FoodFacts.com recommended ingredient: Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili Sauce

Dessert

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Two ingredients, one delicious dessert. Broiling mango brings the fruit’s natural sweetness out, which is balanced by the lime juice. This broiled mango treat will definitely cap off your Father’s Day cookout with the sweet taste of summer.

Get the recipe: Broiled Mango

FoodFacts.com recommended ingredient: Lime

 

Find the healthiest ingredients for your Father’s Day menu with All My Food Facts. Get the app on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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It’s National Candy Month, too!

June is quite the contradictory month. It’s not only National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, it’s also National Candy Month! That’s right – the National Confectioners Association is celebrating chocolates, candies, gums, mints and all kinds of sweets this month!

FoodFacts.com absolutely advocates making better food choices through the awareness of healthy and unhealthy ingredients contained in our food. However, we also appreciate the men and women who create treats that play a special role in commemorating significant cultural and historical events in the United States. In fact, most American confectionery companies are family-owned, and directly contributes to the US economy in the agriculture, manufacturing, retail and shipping sectors.

That said, we are joining the millions of Americans celebrating in National Candy Month, but we are doing so in a healthy and equally-fun way! Here’s how you can get in the candy spirit without compromising your health goals.

Bite-sized portions

When trying to cut down calories, abstaining from sweets and salty foods is usually the first step. Nutrition experts believe, though, that the occasional treats can be a part of your balanced diet, as long as you pay attention (and have control) of the quantity. Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD says, “Everyone should allow themselves a daily treat because there is no reason why a 100- or 200-calorie snack can’t fit into a healthy diet.”

Get your sweets from “good” stores

Proponents of the organic food movement as well as veganism have helped launch more than just a handful of businesses that cater to their respective audiences. It should be of no surprise to find that there are now organic and vegan candy stores that give us relatively better options for sweet treats.

Keep it dark

When it comes to chocolates, the darker the better. Dark chocolates contain less sugar and are more filling than milk chocolates. This superfood can actually give your body plenty of health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants and can aid in blood flow improvement, and lower blood pressure and the risk of heart diseases.

Make your own treats

Today’s top food influencers share plenty of hacks for making healthy versions of popular sweets like Butterfinger, Snickers and Twix. These foodies also constantly come up with brilliantly innovative health-conscious treats that allow you to succumb to your sweet tooth, guilt-free.

Make fruit candies

While we’re on the subject of making your own treats…

Take advantage of the abundant supply of fruits this season and grab some ripe, blemish-free fruits such as mangoes, cranberries and California apricots. The best and easy way to turn fruits into candies without the added sugar is to dry them. You can dry fruits on your burner, in the oven or under the sun!

Tip: Use the all my food facts app to find out how your favorite candies fare on our health score. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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Safety tips for handling fresh produce

Eating fresh produce is integral in achieving a balanced, healthy diet. However, over 80% of the United States’ population do not meet the recommended daily consumption for both fruits and vegetables. This National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, our goal is definitely to get people to eat more fresh produce, but we should also send caution about food poisoning from the consumption of these foods.

Food becomes contaminated through a variety of ways. For fruits and vegetables, they may come in contact with harmful bacteria in the soil or water from which they are grown, or during storage and preparation after they are harvested. Eating contaminated produce may lead to foodborne illnesses; and they are especially more common in the warm summer months when foodborne bacteria multiply faster, and fruits and vegetables are often eaten raw.

FoodFacts.com shares some safety tips in handling fresh produce to avoid foodborne illnesses (also called “food poisoning”).

Choose Right

Whether it’s from a grocery store, farmers’ markets or roadside stands, be sure to inspect produce properly and avoid the ones that are damaged or have bruises. Whole, uncut produce is always preferable, but for pre-prepared fruits and vegetables like sliced cantaloupe or bagged lettuce, grab only those that are chilled in the refrigerator or on ice.

Note: Segregate fruits and vegetables from raw meat, poultry and/or seafood in your cart, and place them in separate shopping bags.

Store Properly

Proper storage is important in maintaining the quality of fruits and vegetables. Perishable goods, especially pre-cut, peeled or packaged, must be refrigerated at a temperature of 40°F or below. Some produce, such as apples, potatoes, onions and garlic, are better stored at room temperature.

Preparation Tips

When dealing with produce, be sure to begin with clean hands. Wash hands with soap and warm water. Cut and discard any damaged or bruised areas before preparing and/or eating fruits and vegetables.

Washing

  • Do NOT use soap or detergent.
  • No matter where you got the produce – homegrown or from any merchant – it’s highly recommended that you wash them thoroughly with running water to rid them of as much chemicals as possible.
  • Even if you plan to take the peel off of fruits and vegetables, washing the outer layer is still necessary to remove dirt and bacteria. For firm produce such as watermelon and zucchini, use a produce brush.
  • Dry washed produce with a clean paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may still be present.

Putting together

  • Always keep raw meat, poultry and seafood (as well as cutting board, knives, utensils and dishes used to prepare them) separate from produce that will be eaten uncooked.
  • If possible, use different cutting boards and other kitchen tools for meat, poultry and seafood, and for fresh produce.
  • Or, wash cutting boards and other kitchen tools with soap and hot water between preparing raw goods and produce.

 

If you or a family member have contacted foodborne illnesses, call your healthcare provider immediately. For serious cases, take afflicted to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

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Recipe: Provençal Tian

While FoodFacts.com is all about promoting more fresh produce consumption this National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, we thought we’d share this healthy, delicious and easy-to-prepare comfort food from Provençe, France.

Provençal tian is a French term that pertains to both the shallow earthenware as well as the dish prepared in it. Traditionally, Provençal tian is made with eggplant, zucchini and tomato.

Time: 20 minutes to prepare ingredients; 40 minutes to bake

Serving: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplant, cut into thick slices
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 large brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Provençal herbs: rosemary and thyme sprigs
  • Ground black pepper and salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Coat earthenware with olive oil, and arrange eggplant alternately with zucchini, tomatoes and onions.
  3. Repeat sequence to fill the dish, making sure to fit the ingredients tightly.
  4. Sprinkle minced garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary and thyme sprigs.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender and browned around the edges.

Provençal tian is usually served as a side dish for grilled, baked, barbecued or roasted meat.

Note: Serve in a clear dish to show off the layers!

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It’s National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month!

June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month! It’s no surprise that FoodFacts.com would take every opportunity to encourage our readers to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. If we haven’t said it enough, fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential in making your body work, feel and look its best. They provide the nutrients for vital health and aid in lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases.

The dietary guidelines for the amount of fruits and vegetables intake basically depend on one’s gender, age, and activity level. Based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet, two cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables are recommended, whether fresh, frozen or canned.

There are many easy ways you can get yourself eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Below are some of them:

Grow them yourselves

Vegetable and fruit gardens in people’s backyards are always a pleasant sight. Making use of space this way is a great way to utilize and maximize it. For those who don’t have the room and time for an edible garden, there are small and low-maintenance herbs that you can grow indoors, such as basil and parsley.

Buy locally grown

If homegrown is not an option, locally grown is the next best thing. The shorter the distance the fruits and vegetables have traveled, the fresher they are. Roadside stands and farmers’ markets are the best places for those! Be sure to find out if your farmers’ markets are selling goods that they have grown or made themselves or are carrying other farms’ goods. National, state and city laws require farmers’ markets to disclose if they are “producers only” or “carrying” products from others.

Buy in-season produce

Nature has its way of telling us what the best foods to eat are and when to eat them. Fruits and vegetables offer the most nutritional value and flavor when they are in season; plus, they cost less when supplies are aplenty.

Learn fast and easy ways to prepare them

While eating raw produce have many health benefits, there are certain fruits and vegetables that are better consumed cooked. For instance, cooked tomatoes contain increased lycopene, a phytochemical rich in antioxidant properties, than raw tomatoes.

Be sure to always wash produce before eating. It’s also a great idea to prepare ahead – wash, cut and store them safely for future use.

Go for the healthy snacks

When you’re craving snacks, you want something convenient and ready-to-eat. This is where the pre-prepared fruits and vegetables come to play. Go for the cut-up fruits and veggies when you have the urge to reach for some bag of chips!

Try something new

Keep things interesting by trying something new, not just for the enticing colors and flavors, but for the body’s nourishment. No fruit or vegetable contains all of the nutrients that your body needs. So, shake things up and keep a variety – the options are limitless!

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Clean-eating without going over your budget

There’s a question that lingers in the minds of people who want to make better food choices: How can I eat clean and not hurt my budget? At local grocery stores, a family-sized bag of chips is cheaper than a container of mixed greens; and fast food chains are perpetually coming up with value-meal promotions, which sell ready-to-eat food and convenience in their pitches.

The sad truth is, for many people, buying healthy foods means living above their means. It doesn’t take a genius to see why a parent would purchase a full meal that comes with plenty of sides and drinks for $20 for his or her family, instead of opting to spend more on ingredients as well as more time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals. Unfortunately, food choices among many households in the United States are dictated by income; and those resorting to unhealthy choices are more susceptible to developing serious health conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

FoodFacts.com shares these money-saving tips that will, not only help you eat cleaner, but only allow you to have enough to live a quality life.

Apply supply-and-demand principle

When putting an effort in adding more fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, be sure to consider the ones that are in-season. Merchants drop the prices of seasonal produce due to their abundance. Also, the flavor and nutrition of these fruits and vegetables are at their peak during their natural harvest season. This summer, the produce to buy are strawberries, cherries, peaches and plum!

Up-size your supplies

In addition to seasonal fruits and vegetables, you save on staples such as grains, nuts and spices when you buy them in large sizes and/or in bulk. Large sizes minimize packaging costs for the supplier, therefore there is less manufacturing expenditure passed on to the consumers. Bulk-buying does make you spend more upfront, but it saves you more money and time in the long run.

Freeze fruits and vegetables

Bought too much of the in-season produce? Put them in the freezer. Frozen fruits and vegetables will make great ingredients for your next fruity smoothie or cleansing vegetable juice!

Skip the all-organic diet

While the growing awareness on the health benefits of organic food is undeniable, not many people can afford it. Sure, the gap between the prices of organic and non-organic foods is not as high as generally perceived, but it’s still the amount of money that many individuals and families can’t afford to shell out. The good news is, there are certain produce that minimally absorb chemicals when they are conventionally grown such as corn, cabbage, avocados, onions and pineapples.

Buy store brands

Don’t veer away from store brands! Whole Foods 365, Wegmans and Trader Joe’s, for instance, have products that offer the same nutritional value as the brands they carry on their shelves at cheaper prices.

Make your own sauces and dressings

Forgo store-bought sauces and dressings. These not only cost more as compared to homemade concoctions, but they are full of added sugar, sodium and whatnot. Take some olive oil and spices and you’ve got yourself your own sauce and dressing, minus the preservatives.

Get creative with leftovers

Don’t throw food away! Cut back on food waste by freezing leftovers, and eating them at a later time. You can also search up recipes that use the same or similar ingredients to repurpose them into new dishes.

The all my food facts app can help you identify ingredients that will aid in your clean-eating efforts. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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Recipe: Grapefruit and kale detox salad

Yesterday, FoodFacts.com shared a list of amazing foods that detoxify your body. If you’re still recovering from the excess of food and drinks consumed over the Memorial Day Weekend, here’s an easy grapefruit and kale salad recipe that will aid your cleansing.

Time: 15 minutes

Serving: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 grapefruit, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup salted almonds, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons grapefruit juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Toss kale, grapefruit, Parmesan cheese, and salted almonds in a large bowl.
  2. Pour coconut oil, honey, and grapefruit juice into a container and shake well to combine.
  3. Pour dressing over salad and toss to evenly coat kale leaves.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve chilled.