Category Archives: health

New research shows smoking habits can be curbed with Omega-3s

omega 3Whether you’re trying to kick the habit or trying to help a loved one or a friend, there’s great new research out that links a simple supplement to curbing smoking habits.

Taking omega-3 supplements reduces craving for nicotine and even reduces the number of cigarettes that people smoke a day, according to a new study conducted at the University of Haifa. “The substances and medications used currently to help people reduce and quit smoking are not very effective and cause adverse effects that are not easy to cope with. The findings of this study indicated that omega-3, an inexpensive and easily available dietary supplement with almost no side effects, reduces smoking significantly,” said Dr. Sharon Rabinovitz Shenkar, head of the addictions program at the University of Haifa’s school of criminology department and of the psychopharmacology laboratory at Bar-Ilan, who conducted this study.

Chronic exposure to smoke-derived toxicants is the primary cause of progressive pulmonary and immune dysfunctions, as well as carcinogenesis Cigarette smoking is connected not only to cardiovascular dysfunction, immune system dysfunction and cancer, it also reduces the levels of essential fatty acids in the brain, especially that of omega-3. A deficiency in omega-3 damages the cellular structure of nerve cells and interrupts neurotransmission in areas of the brain involved with feeling pleasure and satisfaction. These areas are essential in reward and decision-making, and are very important in the process of the development, maintenance and relapseof the addiction and to the inability to stop smoking. In simpler terms, omega-3 deficiency makes it harder for the smoker’s body to deal with its craving for another cigarette. “Earlier studies have proven that an imbalance in omega-3 is also related to mental health, depression and the ability to cope with pressure and stress. Pressure and stress, in turn, are associated with the urge to smoke. It is also known that stress and tension levels rise among people who quit smoking. Despite all this, the connection between all these factors had not been studied until now,” Dr. Rabinovitz Shenkar said.

The current study adhered to a strict methodology (double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled) and included forty-eight smokers aged eighteen to forty-five who smoked at least ten cigarettes a day during the previous year, and an average of fourteen cigarettes a day. They were diagnosed as having a moderate dependency on nicotine. In total, the average age of the participants was twenty-nine and the average age they began smoking was under eighteen (in other words, they had been smoking for an average of eleven years). The participants were divided into two groups: One group received omega-3 capsules — “Omega-3 950″ produced by Solgar who donated the capsules for the study; the second group received a placebo. The participants were asked to take five capsules a day for thirty days and in total reported taking more than ninety-four percent of the capsules. At no stage in the study were the participants asked to stop smoking.

The levels of nicotine craving and consumption were checked using a series of scales regarding various aspects related to smoking urges, such as lack of control over tobacco use, anticipation of relief and satisfaction from smoking, and to the number of cigarettes smoked each day. These levels were measured at the beginning of the study, after thirty days (of treatment) and after sixty days (i.e., thirty days after stopping to take the capsules). Each time the study participants were tested they abstained from smoking for two hours and were then exposed to smoking-related cues images in order to stimulate their craving for nicotine.

The findings show that while no difference was found between the groups at the beginning of the study, after thirty days the smokers who had taken omega-3 reduced their cigarettes by an average of two a day (an eleven-percent decrease), even though they were not asked to change their smoking habits in any way. No less important, they showed a significant decrease in nicotine craving. After another thirty days of not taking anything, cigarette cravings increased slightly but still remained significantly lower than their initial level. In other words, the craving to smoke cigarettes did not return to the baseline level even a month after stopping to take the supplement. In the meantime, the group receiving the placebo did not show any significant changes in their craving levels or in the number of cigarettes they smoked a day during the sixty days.

According to Dr. Rabinovitz Shenkar, the finding that people who were not interested in stopping to smoke showed such a significant change reinforces the assumption that taking omega-3 can help smokers to regulate their addiction and reduce their smoking. Further research will indicate whether the supplement is also effective in stopping to smoke.

FoodFacts.com knows that most in our community are exceptionally health conscious and aware. But we all know people who have had a problem quitting smoking. It’s not an easy challenge and many of those we love can’t seem to overcome their addiction. This is great information to pass on. Omega-3 supplements are relatively inexpensive and easy to incorporate into one’s lifestyle. You don’t need a prescription. You aren’t putting more nicotene into your system and you won’t be inhaling controversial ingredients. Omega-3 supplements to reduce smoking frequency — let’s make sure this one gets around!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141106101903.htm

Pre-packaged sandwich wraps from Hormel. The real deal on Rev.

Hormel RevHormel’s been busy airing commercials for their Rev sandwich wraps.  The commercials are all about physical fitness, being the best you can be, participating in sports and achieving goals.  Somehow or another an ad agency managed to connect the dots between those things and a sandwich wrap.  Go figure.

While FoodFacts.com might not see the sense behind that connection, Hormel does.  Supposedly their Rev wraps are just the thing anyone needs to be able to maximize performance.  All 8 varieties deliver between 15 and 17 grams of protein … enough to power plenty of physical activity.  Sounds great, right?

Before you go grabbing a Rev wrap on your way to the gym though, you might want to read on and find out what’s going on beyond all that protein.

Let’s take a look at the Italian Style Rev Wrap.  There are actually 81 ingredients in this one.  That’s a lot for a wrap that contains pepperoni, genoa salami, mozzarella cheese in a rolled flatbread.  Here’s the list:

Flatbread (Flour Enriched [Wheat Flour, Barley Malted Flour, Niacin Vitamin B3, Iron Reduced,Thiamine Mononitrate Vitamin B1, Riboflavin Vitamin B2, Folic Acid Vitamin B9] , Water, Wheat Gluten Vital, Soy Flour, Contains 2% or less of the following: [Sugar Brown Liquid, Oats Fiber,Soybeans Oil, Olive Oil Extra Virgin, Spices, Baking Soda, Prunes Juice Concentrate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Wheat Protein Isolate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Propionate, Yeast,Cellulose Gum, Fumaric Acid, Salt, Guar Gum, Calcium Sulphate, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Annatto Color, Enzymes] ) , Cheese (Cheese Mozzarella Low Moisture Part Skim [Milk Part Skim, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes] , Cheese American [Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes] , Water, Cream, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Sorbic Acid) , Salami Genoa(Pork, Beef, Salt, Contains 2% or less of the following: Citric Acid [Dextrose, Water, Spices,Sodium Ascorbate Vitamin C, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Sodium Nitrate Nitrite, Garlic Powder,BHA, BHT, Citric Acid] ) , Pepperoni (Pork, Beef, Salt, Contains 2% or less of the following: Citric Acid [Water, Dextrose, Spices, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Oleoresin of Paprika, Garlic Powder,Sodium Nitrate Nitrite, BHA, BHT, Citric Acid] )

We can easily live without plenty of the ingredients in this wrap.  Curiously, though, it contains only 290 calories.  We’re going to assume that there isn’t much meat and cheese inside that flatbread.  It also contains 20 grams of fat, 10 mg of saturated fat, 55 mg of cholesterol, and 960 mg of sodium.  So besides those 15 grams of protein, there’s really not a whole lot else in there that’s doing much for your body — or fueling your workout or sports performance.

It’s our considered opinion that a different option that contains leaner protein, better fats, and real ingredients would be a better boost.  Nice try Hormel, but we’ll “rev” up without the wraps.

 

https://www.hormel.com/Brands/HormelRevWraps.aspx  

 

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

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

How tough would it be to eat just 6 teaspoons of sugar every day?

sugar.jpgIt sounds like a simple enough challenge, doesn’t it?  You might be thinking that you don’t add sugar to your foods or that you don’t use much sugar in your coffee.  But FoodFacts.com wants you to think really carefully about that question, because it certainly isn’t as simple as it might appear.

In a new guideline on sugar consumption, the World Health Organization reiterates its 2002 recommendation that no more than 10% of daily calories come in the form of sugar. But this time around, the WHO adds that people would get additional benefits if they can keep their sugar consumption below 5% of daily calories.

That’s likely to be a tall order. For an adult with a normal body mass index, 5% of daily calories works out to about 25 grams of sugar, or six teaspoons, the WHO says.

In an announcement on its website, the WHO says it is offering new guidance on sugar consumption in response to research documenting its deleterious effects: “There is increasing concern that consumption of free sugars, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in both reduced intake of foods containing more nutritionally adequate calories and an increase in total caloric intake, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).”
Worries about cavities and other dental problems played a role too, WHO says: “Dental diseases are the most prevalent NCDs globally and … continue to cause pain, anxiety, functional limitation and social handicap through tooth loss, for large numbers of people worldwide.”

A study published last month in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that a whopping 71.4% of American adults get more than 10% of their calories from sugar. Even worse, the study linked higher levels of sugar consumption with an increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.

Added sugars go by many names when they are listed on nutrition labels of processed foods. Some of their aliases include high fructose corn syrup, anhydrous dextrose, maltose, evaporated cane juice and fruit juice concentrates.

So let’s take a FoodFacts.com look at three meals on a busy day for a U.S. consumer who is not eating food prepared at home and is somewhat careful about the foods he or she is choosing. Perhaps there was a bowl of Quaker Instant Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal for breakfast before running to work, then lunch at Panera Bread with a co-worker for the Low-Fat Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto and a soft roll, then two slices of a Kashi Margherita Pizza for a quick dinner before the gym. We won’t even count snacks and beverages. At the end of the day, those three meals cost that consumer 7 and a half teaspoons of sugar. Add a few snacks and drinks into the mix and we’re more than one and a half teaspoons over the World Health Organization recommendation.

The scenario we just detailed is for someone making “better” choices. We can only imagine the teaspoon count for someone who isn’t. It’s eye-opening to realize that a small chocolate shake at McDonald’s contains 15 teaspoons of sugar … or that drinking two cans of regular coke adds 19 teaspoons of sugar to your daily intake.

It’s time for everyone in America to start taking added sugar seriously and counting up those grams on a daily basis. How much sugar are you really eating every day?

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-added-sugar-who-six-teaspoons-per-day-20140305,0,4431783.story#ixzz2vcANtHIZ

Foods that work to ease your headaches

When you feel a headache coming on, you’re most likely going to reach for acetaminophen, motrin or aspirin. You might try taking a nap. Or if you have sinus troubles, you may take an over-the-counter medication designed to help ease your congestion. But there are more natural ways to take the pain away. Next time, try some of these ideas and you may just beat the headache as a result!

Coffee
Caffeinated coffee can actually combat headache pain. While many think this remedy is unfounded, it really isn’t. Caffeein can reduce the size of blood vessels that have expanded to cause a headache. It can work. But you’ve got to drink that coffee cautiously. Since coffee is a natural diuretic, drinking too much can dehydrate your body and make your headache worse. Drink a cup, not a mug and wait to see if it’s had the desired effect.

Watermelon
When we dehydrate, one of the unpleasant side effects can be a headache. Rehydration can often reduce or eliminate the pain. But water isn’t the only thing you should reach for. Watermelon is a water-rich fruit, but it also contains magnesium, which has proven to be effective for headaches as well.

Baked Potatoes
Did you know that a lack of potassium can be responsible for chronic headaches? While the first food we think of in terms of rich potassium sources is a banana, there are some foods that will give you an even bigger potassium boost. Baked potatoes contain 725mg of potassium each. A banana contains 465. Try a baked potato for your next headache.

Almonds
Much like caffeine works to constrict blood vessels that have expanded during a headache, almonds can relax blood vessels. This is considered to be a preventative effect. So if you include more almonds in your diet, you’ll experience less frequent headaches.

Salsa
Sinus headaches can be particularly painful and frequent during certain seasons of the year. Congestion is the culprit here and many who experience sinus headaches will say that the pressure and pain can be intense and unique. To target congestion, spicy foods like salsa can actually help to clear congestion and reduce pressure. But you’ve got to make sure that it’s a spicy salsa, not mild. It’s the hot ingredients that do the trick.

Spinach
Spinach isn’t just full of iron, it also contains magnesium and potassium, proven to help relieve headache pain. So you can ease your pain by eating the vegetable, or you can incorporate it into juices or smoothies. It will work just as well.

These simple foods are a great way to help your headache heal naturally, without having to rely on over-the-counter medications. If you’re prone to headaches, there can sometimes be unpleasant effects from taking those meds often. Little things like a strange taste in your mouth, or dried out nasal passages, fatigue or the inability to sleep are all fairly common. FoodFacts.com hopes you’ll try some natural approaches that will help the pain without the problems!

http://wallstcheatsheet.com/stocks/6-best-headache-healing-foods.html/?a=viewall

Avocados can help between meal hunger

Good fats from lean proteins, vegetables and legumes add a lot to our health and our diets. But we have to admit, some are even tastier than others — and present numerous interesting possibilities to add flavor to our meals. At FoodFacts.com, we’re big fans of avocados for those very reasons.

Technically a fruit, avocados can substitute easily for sandwich spreads, or added to salads or stuffed with tuna or chicken. They can be incorporated into salad dressings, added to home made salsa or combined with with vegetables for new and different flavors. We’ve always appreciated how this good-for-you food can be enjoyed in so many ways.

Now it appears that the addition of avocado to your meals can help you curb between meal hunger.

Research published in the November issue of the Nutrition Journal showed that overweight people who ate half of a fresh avocado with their lunch were more likely feel full and not want to snack more after their meal.

According to the study’s authors, this might help with weight management and may even reduce risk for disease, like Type 2 diabetes.

“Satiety is an important factor in weight management, because people who feel satisfied are less likely to snack between meals,” lead researcher Dr. Joan Sabate, chair of the department of nutrition at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif., said in a press release. “We also noted that though adding avocados increased participants’ calorie and carbohydrate intake at lunch, there was no increase in blood sugar levels beyond what was observed after eating the standard lunch. This leads us to believe that avocados potential role in blood sugar management is worth further investigation.”

The study involved 26 overweight but otherwise healthy adults who were asked to include avocados in their lunch either by replacing an item they would have eaten with the fruit, or eating avocado in addition to their regular meal.

Those that added half of an avocado were found to be 40 percent less likely to want to snack after lunch over a three-hour period, and 28 percent less likely to munch on something else up to five hours after the meal, compared to when they didn’t eat the avocado.

Avocado-eaters also were found to report more meal satisfaction, about 26 percent higher up to three hours after the meal, compared to after eating a standard lunch.

The researchers said that more studies need to be conducted to be able to say for sure that the results would be applicable to the average person,. They want to look deeper at avocados’ effects at glucose and insulin levels, which are markers for diabetes.

This is a great idea for those of us who find ourselves looking for a little something extra between lunch and dinner. Try adding avocados to your lunch. You’ll not only be adding high levels of antioxidants, folate and fiber to your meal. You may just find yourself feeling fuller, longer!

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/eating-fresh-avocados-may-chase-away-hunger-pains/

McDonald’s tells its employees not to eat McDonald’s

McDonald’s maintains a resource website specifically for its employees.  Sadly, that site has recently been giving tips lately that its employees haven’t exactly appreciated.  A few of the special nuggets of advice have been telling workers to work a second job and sell their belongings for quick cash.

But the latest advice given by the website is actually helpful — although odd, considering the source.  McDonald’s employee website is advising its workers not to eat McDonald’s.  Actually, it doesn’t refer specifically to McDonald’s, but does explain the unhealthy nature of a fast food meal … and tells workers to avoid such meals.

An image posted on the site labels a McDonald’s-like meal of hamburger, fries, and a coke as an “unhealthy choice,” and warns employees against consuming such foods, which are “almost always high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt.”

“It is hard to eat a healthy diet when you eat at fast-food restaurants often,” the site goes on to say. “Many foods are cooked with a lot of fat, even if they are not trans fats. Many fast-food restaurants do not offer any lower-fat foods. Large portions also make it easy to overeat. And most fast food restaurants do not offer many fresh fruits and vegetables.”

“In general,” the site suggests, “eat at places that offer a variety of salads, soups, and vegetables.”

In a statement made to CNBC, McDonald’s insisted the website’s tips “continue to be taken entirely out of context.”

Not exactly sure what could be “out of context” about advising employees that fast food is an unhealthy choice. FoodFacts.com thinks it’s actually very good advice.   We also think that perhaps this could have just been a big mix-up and the firm McDonald’s hired to publish content to their employee site didn’t actually realize that the content was, in fact, meant for the employees of a fast food chain.  There are any number of possibilities here.  But we think the obvious take away might just be that McDonald’s is trying to steer their own employees away from the products they serve every day.  Which, when it comes right down to it, really says a mouthful.

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!

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!