To help break the winter doldrums, my neighbor ladies and I got together for a soup exchange over the weekend–and we had a ton of fun! Not only did I get to try an array of delicious soups, but I now have six quarts of different varieties stocked in my freezer--and the recipes, too. I love soup and make it frequently for a quick lunch or dinner. Soup can be nutritious but it can be high in sodium, too, so opt for lower sodium varieties of ingredients like canned beans, canned tomatoes and broth when possible. Our Sodium Smart SimpleNutrition tag can help you easily spot these options in the aisles.
Although there were many favorites from my get-together, one standout was my neighbor Mary’s tomato soup:
3 pounds Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups Safeway Fat-Free Unsalted Chicken Cooking Stock
3 cups O Organics Fresh Basil
1 teaspoon O Organics Fresh Thyme
1 (28-ounce) can Pantry Essentials Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Preheat oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, toss together tomatoes, garlic cloves and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet and roast for about an hour.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and red pepper flakes; sauté until onions are soft. Add stock, basil, thyme, canned tomatoes with juice, and oven-roasted tomatoes and garlic, along with juice drippings from pan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer about 45 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree soup, or let soup cool completely, then puree in small batches using a regular blender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 8 servings Per serving: Calories: 140; Fat: 8g (Saturated Fat: 1 g); Protein: 5 g; Carbohydrates: 17g; Fiber: 4g; Sodium: 65 mg.
Maybe it’s the candy bar calling your name from the vending machine at 3 p.m. each workday. Or the chips that nag you as you watch television in the evening. No matter your go-to item to munch, many of us feel a craving to eat a particular food now and then – or more often!
Food cravings are linked to emotions and desires. Whether you’re stressed, anxious or bored, people tend to reach food foods that contain fat, sugar or both. So how should you deal with a food craving when it strikes?
Give in–within reason. How many times have you tried to ignore a craving and instead, eaten around it? First you try to satisfy with grapes and then cheese, and then crackers–only to end up eating the brownie you wanted in the first place? Restricting foods makes cravings worse and you often end up eating the food you really wanted anyway, plus many more calories.
Portion it out. If you have a craving for a particular food, portion out a reasonable amount instead of dipping your hand nonstop into the potato chip bag or sticking your spoon straight into the ice cream container. Giving yourself a set amount will help you satisfy your craving without overdoing it.
What do you do when a food craving strikes?
Three kids, two jobs, school/homework and extracur
To solve for this, I started packing a “second lun
What healthy snack tricks do you have
With the New Year come new trends of all kinds, including those for food. Here’s a smattering of what some experts predict will be trends to watch in 2013:
Popcorn as snack of the year. Move over chips and pretzels, popcorn is back! Long a movie-watching staple, popcorn will become THE snack time pick. And why not? Popcorn is a whole grain food and if air-popped, has only 120 calories and 5 grams of fiber in a 4-cup serving. Plus, a study last year found that the crunchy hull in popcorn is loaded with antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, which may help prevent damage to cells. But before you pull out the popper, keep in mind that the potential health benefits of popcorn are negated when it’s drowned in butter, oil and salt. For a better–and spicy– change of taste, try popcorn lightly sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, chili powder and a dash of cayenne.
Veggies as main dish stars. Veggies will no longer play only supporting roles on the dinner plate–they’ll be center of the plate mainstays, too. Many restaurants are creatively preparing veggies as entrees, something that you can do at home, too. Try vegetarian stuffed peppers, soy-ginger stir fry, or spaghetti squash with pesto. Veggies are important sources of many nutrients, including fiber, folate, potassium and vitamins A and C.
A new focus on frozen. Frozen fruits and veggies will finally get the nutrition recognition that they deserve this year. They’re as nutritious of fresh and offer convenience and cost savings, too. Check here for some of our favorite freezer tips and tricks.
What are your food predictions for 2013?
It’s that time of year again! To keep your 2013 nutrition and fitness resolutions attainable and lasting, keep these four tips in mind:
1. Be specific. Instead of saying, “I’m going to exercise more,” decide on details. A better plan is “I’m going to start walking on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 7 a.m. each week and walk from my house to the park and back.”
2. Find friends. I’ve said it before, but this is absolutely key for me. Knowing that my friends are counting on me to show up is what gets me out of bed on chilly mornings. I’d feel too guilty having them wait and be a no-show. Bonus: friends won’t let you get away with blowing them off – they’ll call you on it!
3. Say it out loud. Right before Halloween, one of my exercise buddies said that she wasn’t going to eat any Halloween candy. I said that I was going to do that, too. And guess what? I didn’t! I didn’t sneak into the bags of candy I bought to give away and I didn’t sneak any of my son Tim’s candy haul, either. Every time I felt like eating just one little bar, I remembered that I made that darn commitment. Much to my surprise, because I love chocolate–I kept my promise. Try it with something you either want to do or stop doing. I think you’ll find that the power of promise is pretty amazing.
4. Record in a daily log. A study this past summer found that women who kept food logs and consistently wrote down the foods they ate lost more weight than women who didn’t record. Food logs keep you accountable on what you’re eating and how much in relation to the calorie limit you’ve set for losing weight. Whether you fancy the traditional pen and notebook method or prefer to use an online food log or app that electronically tallies the calories for you, keeping track of what you’re munching might be the missing link to help you reach your weight loss goal.
What nutrition and activity goals do you have this year-- and what strategies are you going to use to stick to them?
My niece Claire and nephew Henry are joining us for the holidays this year and I’m so excited for their visit! They’re at that adorable age where everything related to Christmas is magical – especially Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve. To help keep Santa nourished on his round-the-world-in-one-night adventure, we’re leaving him a plate of cookies with a glass of milk (fat-free, of course!). These scrumptious cookies are made with oatmeal, whole-wheat flour, almonds and dried fruit, to add a sprinkle of nutrition. They’re a favorite in our family, so I know Santa will love them, too.
½ cup stick margarine*
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup applesauce
¼ cup Lucerne Best of the Egg Whites egg substitute
2 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Safeway Old Fashioned Oats
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup O Organics Dried Cranberries, chopped
½ cup Safeway Kitchens Dried Fancy Apricots, chopped
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375°. Beat together margarine and sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add applesauce, egg whites and vanilla, then spoon in both flours, oatmeal, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon; mix until just combined. Stir in almonds, cranberries, apricots and chocolate chips.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto cookie sheets, and gently press down on cookies to slightly flatten. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for two minutes, then move to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
* Choose stick margarine that contains 65% or more vegetable oil, with 0 g trans-fat and no hydrogenated oils
Per cookie: Calories: 140; Fat: 7 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g); Trans Fat: 0 g; Protein: 2 g; Carbohydrates: 17 g; Fiber: 1 g; Sodium: 90 mg.
One of our family favorite recipes for the holidays is one I started making a few years ago – Brussels sprouts with walnuts. It’s a recipe from Emeril and it’s been known to convert even the pickiest eaters! Here are the simple instructions:
Cook two pounds of halved Brussels sprouts in a pot of salted boiling water until crisp and tender (about 5 minutes), then drain.
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan and cook ¼ cup thinly sliced shallots and 2 tablespoons minced garlic for one minute.
Add the sprouts to the pan in a single layer and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Remove from pan, add another 2 tablespoons butter and, when melted, add ¾ cup roughly chopped walnuts and cook until golden-- about 2 minutes.
Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and sprouts back to the pan and stir until coated.
Transfer to your serving bowl and sprinkle with some finely grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
The holiday rush is upon us! Rev up your energy and stamina with these healthy holiday shopping tips:
Don’t leave home on empty. If you’re spending the day at the mall, eat a filling breakfast for the energy you’ll need to gather gifts on the list you’ve made (and checked twice, of course). These quick-to-fix breakfast ideas will have you nourished and ready to shop in no time.
Be smart about snacking. Save money –and calories–by bringing nutritious snacks with you instead of having to rely on the food court for a bite to eat. Slip a piece of sturdy fresh fruit, such as an apple or orange, into your purse for a quick snack. Bring along a portable lunch, like a peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread. Tote a fruit-and-nut-filled Open Nature Honey Nut bar or a package of Open Nature Freeze Dried Fruit (I’m partial to the Harvest Blend variety) to munch when you start to feel the shopping drag. And don’t forget to bring a bottle of Refreshe water to keep you hydrated!
Move it. Boost activity during your shopping spree with these ideas:
• Forget front and center! Even if you arrive early to the mall, park your car farther out in the lot, not near the door.
• Climb the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
• Pick up the pace and walk briskly between stores.
• Make trips to and from your car with packages to add a little extra calorie burn to your day.
How do you survive the holiday shopping rush?
A few Thanksgivings ago, I wrote about ways that I boost nutrition and trim fat, sodium and sugar in some of my favorite Thanksgiving foods. Since I’m always trying out little tricks, here are a few more ideas to help make your Thanksgiving spread this year a little healthier:
• When making gravy, remove the fat from turkey pan juices and drippings by using a wide mouth spoon or even better, a fat-separating pitcher. Fat rises to the top because it’s lighter, making it easy to skim off. The drippings are what give the gravy its flavor, not the fat. Every tablespoon of fat you skim removes about 120 calories.
• Skip rubbing your turkey with butter to trim saturated fat by using our famous (and delicious) 2-Hour Turkey recipe! And go skinless when you sit down to dine: removing turkey skin before eating cuts fat content in half. A 3-ounce portion of light meat turkey without skin has 3 grams of fat; with skin, it jumps to 6 grams.
• Instead of whipped cream topping on your pie, whip a can of chilled Safeway Evaporated Fat Free Milk with a sprinkle of sugar for a creamy alternative (serve right away since it’s less stable and can get runny).
• Reach for prepared ingredients with less sodium, like low-sodium broth and no-salt-added canned veggies.
• In baked goods, you can trim sugar by about ¼ to 1/3 without a noticeable difference in taste or texture.
• Use chicken broth in your stuffing recipe instead of butter to keep it moist without extra fat and calories.
Do you have any holiday trimming ideas to share?
Turkey is turkey, right? Not if you shop at Safeway, it isn’t!
At Safeway, we have a variety of turkeys, including one that’s perfect for you and your family. Before you head off to pick out that perfect bird for your Thanksgiving meal, get to know a couple of our favorites that are available for you to choose from.
Safeway Select Frozen Turkey
If you’re looking for a turkey that will dazzle friends and family during the holidays, look no further than the Safeway Select Frozen Turkey. This premium turkey is USDA certified grade A, which means you can feel confident its quality is unsurpassed, guaranteeing that it will taste as great as it looks.
Frozen turkeys also allow you to shop, prepare and organize in advance, leaving more time for family. Plus, our Safeway Select turkeys are frozen at its peak of quality - locking in freshness, taste and important nutrients and minerals.
Open Nature All Natural Turkey
The Open Nature All Natural Turkey isn’t only delicious, but something you can feel good about feeding to your family. That’s because it’s 100% natural and free-range birds, which means it has no antibiotics, nitrites or hormones added. All that’s left is a delicious, natural turkey that guarantees you’ll be dishing up a Thanksgiving meal just as nature intended.
We also offer additional turkeys with delicious flavor and features: from smoked, stuffed, Butterball and more, they’re always tender and juicy.
No matter which turkey you prefer for your Thanksgiving celebration, you are sure to find the best value, quality and selection at Safeway.
Explore new cheese varieties with some delicious German cheese! Champignon is a German cheese-maker that has been making cheese for 112 years in Bavaria. The cheese is made using 100 percent pure grass fed cow’s milk from grazing cattle in the Bavarian Alps. Safeway carries several varieties of the Champignon brand soft-ripened cheese, two of my favorites are Cambozola and Champignonare.
Cambozola is a must for any blue cheese lover. Triple crème brie combined with Gorgonzola makes for a rich and decadent treat. The smooth, creaminess of the brie is followed by the burst of blue cheese flavor on your palate.
Champignon mushroom brie is milder featuring double crème brie made with actual mushroom pieces in the cheese. Any traditional brie enthusiast will enjoy this upgraded version of brie.
Cambozola and Champignon are delicious on their own, in salads, used in fondue, on sandwiches or burgers and even pizza. A fun way to serve this cheese is to heat it up on the grill using a wooden plank, served warm with fig paste to accompany the Champignon and blackberry preserves to accompany the Cambozola.
Light wines such as Beaujolais, Sauvignon Blanc or sparkling wines go beautifully with either cheese, as well as light ales.
Cambozola and Champignon are available in a wedge or the 5-oz mini brie.
There’s no doubt that Halloween is one of the best kid holidays ever. It’s a fun holiday for parents too, but dealing with the mountain of candy that your little trick-or-treaters collect isn’t so fun. If you’re overwhelmed about what to do with their sweet haul, consider these four options:
1. Set a daily limit. Allow your child to enjoy a few extra on Halloween night, but after that, institute a cap on the amount of candy–say, two mini candy bars each day for a week or so. Most kids tend to forget about their candy after the Halloween excitement wears off.
2. Buy it back. Some parents pay kids a set amount (such as 10 cents) per pound for trading in their candy or offer a toy or special outing in exchange.
3. Sort and toss. Help your goblins sort through the candy and choose the varieties they absolutely love. Set a limit for how much they can eat of that stash and then get rid of the rest. Donate candy for troops overseas. Or check if your dentist offers a candy buy-back program where kids receive money, coupons or other trinkets in exchange for candy.
4. Repurpose. Sort the candy into chocolate and non-chocolate piles. Freeze the chocolate candies and use them as treats throughout the year or add to baked goods (like M&Ms instead of chocolate chips to cookies). Keep hard candies and licorice for decorating holiday gingerbread houses.
How do you deal with Halloween candy overload?
There’s a chill in the air, the mornings are getting dark, the foliage is changing color and leaves are all over the ground…this can mean only one thing: fall is here! I suddenly have the urge to pull out my Crock Pot for some good Bacon & Chicken comfort food. Here’s a great recipe that’s easy, flexible and oh so delicious!
Total Time: 6 hours (cook), 15 minutes (prep)
• 5 slices Safeway Bacon
• 6 Eating Right or Safeway boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
• 10 oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup OR 10 oz. jar four cheese Alfredo sauce (or any flavor of condensed soup you want)
• 4 oz. jar sliced mushrooms, drained OR 1 onion, chopped
• 1/2 cup diced Swiss or Havarti cheese (or any kind of cheese!)
In large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon and set aside in refrigerator.
In bacon drippings in skillet, cook chicken over medium heat 3-5 minutes or until light brown, turning once. Place in 4-6 quart slow cooker. Top with mushrooms. In skillet, heat soup and pour over mushrooms and chicken. Cover and cook on low setting for 4-5 hours, or until chicken registers 160 degrees F on a meat thermometer. Top chicken with cheese slices and sprinkle with bacon. Cover and cook on high for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Pumpkin is one of those holiday foods that just doesn’t get the nutrition accolades it deserves, nor the year-round usage that it should. One cup of pumpkin is not only a good source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium, but its bright orange color is a giveaway that it’s also rich in vitamin A and carotenoids. Vitamin A helps promote normal vision, helps regulate the immune system and helps keep body cells and tissues healthy.
Although you can use fresh pumpkin for cooking and baking, don’t dismiss its canned counterpart. Canned pumpkin is loaded with the same nutrients as fresh, so it’s a convenient option. Remember to choose 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, which has sugar added to it).
Help boost nutrition, lower fat or trim sodium in favorite foods like these by adding pumpkin:
Pasta Sauce: Stir 1 cup of pumpkin puree to one jar (26 oz.) of sauce during heating.
Mashed Potatoes: Add ½ cup of pumpkin puree to each cup of homemade or instant potatoes.
Chili: Stir ¼ cup of pumpkin puree into each cup of chili.
Boxed Mac & Cheese: Replace butter or margarine called for in directions with ½ cup pumpkin puree.
Brown Rice: Add ½ cup pumpkin puree to the cooking liquid for each cup of uncooked rice you add.
Pancakes and Waffles: Stir 2/3 cup of pumpkin puree into 3 cups of pancake batter.
Smoothies: Blend in a dollop of pumpkin puree in with yogurt and fruit.
Baked Goods: Replace 1/3 of the butter called for in baked goods recipes with pumpkin puree instead.
Do you have a tip for adding pumpkin to recipes?
I love fall. I love the changing color of leaves, the crisp chill in the air, the way sunlight looks different–and I especially love fall’s favorite fruit: apples!
Apples are more than just delicious–they’re good for you, too. In fact, the old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away has a slice of truth to it. Research has linked eating apples to a reduced risk of some cancers, diabetes and heart disease. Apples’ health benefits are likely due to the soluble and insoluble fiber and beneficial plant compounds like flavonols and quercetin they contain.
I love eating apples all kinds of ways, but one of my favorites is baked.
4 large apples (varieties like Jonathan and Golden Delicious are good for baking)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped raisins
1 Tablespoon butter
½ cup hot water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using an apple corer or a paring knife, remove cores of apples, keeping about ½ inch of the apple bottom. Using a spoon, dig out the hole so it is about an inch wide. Place apples in a small baking dish and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, walnuts and raisins. Stuff apples with mixture and top with a ¼ tablespoon dot of butter. Add the hot water to the bottom of the baking dish around the apples and bake about 30 minutes, until the apples are tender. Remove apples form the oven and spoon some of the juices in the baking pan over the apples. Serve apples in a bowl and add a small scoop of Eating Right Fat-Free Vanilla Frozen Yogurt on the side, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: Calories: 250 ; Fat: 8 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g); Protein: 3g; Carbohydrates: 48 g; Fiber: 6 g; Sodium: 25 mg.
What’s the most “appealing” way you enjoy apples?
The sun’s rays are a bit lower, it’s dark when the alarm goes off, and I’ve seen more than a few footballs in the neighborhood. Yep. It’s fall. Whether you view the change of seasons as good news or bad, there’s one reason I always welcome this time of year: apples.
With fewer than 150 calories, no fat, and about 5 grams of fiber each, apples are nutritional powerhouses and a dieter’s secret weapon. They may even help lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol, decrease risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and possibly even lower blood pressure.
The approach of fall is a perfect opportunity to brush up on our apple varieties. Below is a cheat sheet listing the U.S. Apple Association’s 11 most popular varieties, along with what makes each one distinct. Print and take with you when you shop to explore something new this fall.
Honeycrisp: This popular newcomer has a mild, sweet flavor with explosive crispness. With coarse flesh and spotted red and yellow skin, Honeycrisps store well. Harvest begins in September, and previously limited supplies are increasing.
Braeburn: This multipurpose choice has a rich, spicy sweet flavor, and varies in color from deep orange to bright red. Available October-July.
Fuji: Available all year, this perfect snacking choice is typically striped with yellow and red. Expect a sweet flavor and firm bite.
Gala: Crisp, juicy, and very sweet, Galas are ideal for snacking. They vary from nearly cream colored, to striped with red and yellow. They’re typically available all year.
Ginger Gold: Most common to the East Coast and great for salads, Ginger Golds also cook well. Supplies can be limited, but they’re generally available beginning in mid-October.
Golden Delicious: Their pale yellow skin sometimes holds a red blush, and the flesh resists browning. Great for snacking, baking, and salads, they’re an all-purpose choice. With a mellow flavor that’s substantially sweet, you can actually reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe when you use them in baking. Available year-round.
Jonagold: A unique honey-tart flavor with crispy, juicy, yellow flesh, Jonagolds are perfect for snacking and cooking. Look for a yellow-green skin with red-orange blush. Available October-July.
Jonathan: Look for crimson skin with green flecks. Their unique, spicy flavor makes them great for blending with other varieties in pies, sauces, and ciders. Available September-April.
McIntosh: Deep red with the occasional green splash, the McIntosh is juicy and tangy, with tender white flesh. While they’re best used for snacking and sauces, some choose them for pies. (The flesh cooks down easily, so use a thickener or cut slices thick when including in a pie.) Available September-May.
Red Delicious: America’s most popular apple, the classic Red Delicious is sweet, crispy, and juicy. Skin color varies from striped red to a solid, dark maroon. Best eaten fresh.
Rome Beauty: Known as the “baker’s buddy,” Rome is known as a great storage variety. They’re mildly tart, and primarily used for cooking. Delicious baked or sautéed.
Now that you’ve got your apple appetite going, try using a new variety in a new way. Add slices to a grilled cheese. Mix chunks into tuna salad. Chop and fold into a salsa. Roast chunks and pair with pork chops. Even scatter them on a pizza.
No matter how you get that apple a day (or more), that unmistakable fresh flavor is sure to brighten any dish.
Following a gluten free diet isn’t easy, and that’s especially true when it comes to baking at home. Gluten–the protein in wheat flour– is important in baked goods because it provides structure to products. In order to make gluten free baked goods, you need to compensate for the lack of gluten. Here are a few tips:
• Gluten free home baking requires patience and practice so don’t be discouraged if baked goods don’t turn out right the first time. Start with recipes that are easier to make, such as pancakes, waffles, cookies and muffins. Once you master these, you can try more challenging recipes for breads and cakes.
• A combination of gluten free flours and starches tend to work better than using single flours to replace wheat flour. Instead of spending the time sifting together your own combo recipe, take a shortcut and use a gluten free all-purpose baking flour in place of wheat flour in recipes.
• Improve the flavor of baked goods by adding one-third to one-half more herbs, spices and other flavorings than you normally would. Adding nuts, fruits like applesauce and bananas, or dried fruits can also boost flavor in recipes.
As you’re shopping for baking ingredients or other gluten free products, look for the SimpleNutrition “gluten free” tag throughout the aisles of our stores. Our tag helps you easily hone in on the gluten free ingredients you need to make your baked goods the best ever!
What are your tips for gluten free baking?
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. An overall healthy diet and lifestyle is thought to help lower risk of diseases (including many types of cancers), and breast cancer is no exception. But exactly which foods and nutrients may help or harm is less clear for breast cancer, and recommendations have flipped and flopped a bit over the years. Take this quiz to see if you’re up to speed on the latest findings.
Fact or Fiction? Eating a low fat diet lowers your risk of breast cancer.
Fiction. Several studies have found that breast cancer is less common in countries where women typically eat low fat diets. But in studies among US women, researchers have not been able to demonstrate that eating less fat helps reduce risk – nor that eating a high fat diet increases risk. Stick to general nutrition advice on this one: keep fat intake moderate to between 20 and 35 percent of calories, keep saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calories by replacing it with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and keep trans fats as low as possible in your diet.
Fact or Fiction? Drinking alcohol is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.
Fact. Regularly drinking even a few alcoholic drinks each week is linked to a higher breast cancer risk, particularly among women who don’t get enough folate in their diet. If you do drink, limit it to no more than one drink per day. And if you are at higher risk for breast cancer, consider not drinking any alcohol.
Fact or Fiction? Being overweight increases your risk of breast cancer.
Fact. Although the connection between weight and breast cancer risk is complex, research shows that being overweight or obese after menopause increases breast cancer risk. That’s because after menopause, most estrogen comes from fat tissue, and having more fat tissues increases your risk since it raises estrogen levels. Women who are overweight also tend to have higher blood sugar levels, and that has also been linked to some cancers, including breast cancer.
There’s a lot of buzz about the health benefits of honey. Here’s the sweet truth on three popular claims.
True or False: Honey is more nutritious than white sugar.
False. Although often promoted as a healthier option, honey is not nutritionally better than white sugar. There’s no significant difference in calories or nutrients, when compared on an ounce-to-ounce basis and once in your body, it can’t tell the difference between the two. A teaspoon of honey weighs more than a teaspoon of sugar, so it has more calories: about 21 in honey compared to 16 in sugar. However, since honey is sweeter, you need less to sweeten foods.
True or False: Honey can help alleviate cold symptoms.
True. Surprisingly, honey may help when you’re feeling under the weather. Although there isn’t any research to support it, a spoonful of honey–on its own or mixed into a steaming cup of tea–is a time-honored way to soothe sore throats. Interestingly, there is research supporting honey’s benefit in quelling coughs. A recent study found that taking two teaspoons of honey before bedtime resulted in less frequent and less severe coughing, and better sleep in kids. This is especially sweet news because parents don’t have many options to treat coughs in wee ones, since use of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines is not recommended. One note of caution: avoid honey in any form until your child is at least a year old–it can harbor toxic spores of bacteria. While these spores are harmless to adults and older children, they can cause botulism, a severe foodborne illness that can be fatal, in babies.
True or False: Honey can prevent allergies.
False. Advocates claim that eating local honey reduces allergy symptoms. The theory goes that local honey contains pollen from the plants in your area that may be causing your allergies. So by eating small amounts of honey daily, it’s like getting allergy shots. However, there’s no scientific research to support this claim.
Are you sweet on honey?
Cheese may get a bad health rap, but with moderation, there are actually several types of reduced calorie and lower fat options available, and can offer a good source of calcium and protein. Some of my favorites are Dofino Light Havarti, Beemster Light Aged Gouda, SkinnyBrit Low Fat English Cheddar, Kerrygold Reduced Fat Irish Cheddar, Alpine Lace, or Jarlesberg Light Swiss, President Light Brie, Treasure Cave Reduced Fat Blue Crumbles, Athenos Light and Fat Free Feta.
If you’re yearning for regular cheese, there are great portion control options available that can help, including Laughing Cow Wedges, Mini BabyBels, or Ile de France Brie Bites.
Here’s one of my favorite fun and healthy recipes featuring fat-free feta:
Grilled Flatbread Greek Pizza
¼ cup chopped artichoke hearts (drained)
¼ cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
¼ cup sliced olives of choice (kalamata, black or green)
3-oz fat-free feta cheese, crumbled
1-2 oz shredded parmesan cheese
Sliced or shredded, pre-cooked chicken breast meat
2 tbsp EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Brush both sides of the flatbread with EVOO.
2. Layer the ingredients on top of the flat bread, adding the salt and pepper last. Feel free to layer on any other vegetables that you like!
3. Grill on low until the cheese melts and the ingredients and heated through. The flatbread should be slightly browned. If you don’t have a grill, you can also broil the pizza in the over for about seven minutes at 375 degrees.
I toss a lot of salads using greens or beans as the base. Lately, I’ve been stirring up something a little different: salads made with whole grains. Studies show that eating whole grains as part of a healthy diet may help protect against heart disease, help manage your weight and reduce your risk of cancer and diabetes. MyPlate recommends making at least half of the grains you eat whole grains.
Its fun to mix and match ingredients to come up with signature creations. If you’re stuck on where to begin, use the chart below to get started: simply mix together the amounts listed in each category and toss with about 2/3 cup of Open Nature Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing; my favorite dressing for great value and great taste. I like to add about ½ cup of chopped, fresh herbs to my salads, too. Try parsley, basil, mint or cilantro—or a mix of them. This salad “formula” will make eight main dish servings. Depending on your choices from each category, calories will vary. If you’re trying to trim calories, switch to a reduced calorie salad dressing and go a little lighter on the add-ons, since those items are higher in calories.
I’d love to hear what salad combinations you toss up–please share!
6 cups total
Choose two or more
6 cups total
Choose one or more
2 cups total
Choose one or more
1 cup total
Shredded carrots or cabbage
Finely-diced celery, bell peppers, onions
Steamed cauliflower or broccoli florets
Cooked corn or beets
Grilled, diced zucchini or yellow squash
Diced seedless cucumbers
Grilled, chopped asparagus
Cubed chicken or turkey breast
Dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, cherries, dates, raisins)
Toasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios)
Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin seeds)
Crumbled or shredded cheese (feta, blue, goat, parmesan, asiago, pecorino, fontina)
Roasted red peppers
Marinated artichoke hearts
Did you know that nearly one-third of American kids and adolescents are overweight or obese? That statistic is of concern, because overweight kids are more likely to have serious health issues usually seen in adults, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and Type 2 diabetes. Childhood obesity is a serious issue, and that’s why the Safeway Foundation has committed to funding community-based programs that fight childhood obesity.
So, how can you help your family eat smart, be active and practice healthy weight habits? Try these tips:
Begin with breakfast. It provides important nutrients, is linked to better school performance and can help kids (and adults) manage weight. So don’t hesitate–pull up a plate. We have loads of quick and nutritious breakfast ideas.
Snack with nutrition in mind. It’s hard to get all the fruits and vegetables that young bodies need when these foods are limited to meals. Snacks can fill nutrition gaps–and there are plenty of tasty and fun kid-friendly options. Plus, snacks supply the energy that growing, active kids need for good health.
Get up and move! Inactivity is strongly linked to childhood overweight, so get kids moving–and move with them. Take a family bike ride or hike, toss the frisbee, play kickball or chase each other in tag. There are plenty of activities you can do inside, too, when the weather gets chilly.
Think outside the (lunch) box. Your kids will love these nutritious and delicious lunchbox ideas. And you’ll appreciate these tips to help make lunch-packing a snap.
Make family meals a priority. Research shows that eating together offers many benefits that go beyond family bonding. It’s an opportunity to improve family eating habits that promote good health, too.
What’s your #1 tip to keep your family healthy?
September is National Cholesterol Education Month, a good time to get your cholesterol checked and to make the lifestyle changes needed to help lower it, if needed.
Having a high blood cholesterol level is one of the major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. One of the main dietary culprits in raising blood cholesterol levels is saturated fat. Much of the saturated fat we eat is found naturally animal foods, like beef and pork, poultry skin, cream, butter, cheese, and whole and reduced fat (2%) milk. But other foods you may not suspect are often high in saturated fat as well. In fact, baked goods, desserts, fried foods and pizza rank among the top sources in the American diet.
Replace foods high in saturated fat with healthier fat alternatives: use liquid vegetable oils like canola or olive oil in place of butter, switch to fat-free milk instead of whole milk and remove the skin from chicken before eating. Another simple way? Look for the Simple Nutrition “Low Saturated Fat” tag in our stores to help you easily find good options. We have lots of other heart smart tips online, too.
If you have high cholesterol, what swaps do you make to limit the amount of saturated fat you eat?
No one wants to labor in the kitchen on Labor Day—me included! Given that it’s the last day before summer unofficially ends, I plan to relax as much as possible and savor the last rays of summer sunshine. That means our dinner will be a super simple one: grilled flank steak, corn on the cob, green salad and angel food cake topped with strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Easy and delicious!
Did you know that flank steak is a lean cut of beef? A 3-ounce serving—about the size of a deck of cards—contains about 2.5 grams of saturated fat. That’s the same amount found in a 3-ounce serving of a skinless chicken thigh! Beef is also an excellent source of protein and a natural source of nine more essential nutrients, including iron, zinc and B vitamins.
If you avoid beef because of heart health concerns, it’s time to make room for beef on the grill next to that chicken! A study by researchers at The Pennsylvania State University found that substituting lean beef for white meat as part of a heart-healthy diet lowered LDL “bad” cholesterol by 10 percent, and improved other heart disease risk factors across the board. As always, you’ll find great steaks at a great price in our stores. Look for our Ranchers ReserveÒ beef—the most premium, tender beef available anywhere.
Here’s my favorite marinade recipe, good for a 1½ to 2 pound flank steak:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
¼ cup honey
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together ingredients in a small bowl. Place steak and marinade in a food-safe plastic bag; turn steak to coat. Seal bag and marinate in refrigerator at least 6 hours and as long as overnight, turning occasionally. When ready to grill, remove steak from bag and discard marinade.
In a rush? Marinate the steak in one of our great Safeway or Safeway SELECT marinades instead.
For more great grilling tips and recipe ideas, check out our Get Out & Grill website.
What’s on your menu for Labor Day?
It’s that time of year again: here comes the morning school rush! If you’re like me, getting everyone out the door on time is a daily challenge. But during that rush, don’t neglect breakfast.
Consider that kids who eat breakfast tend to:
Breakfast is the perfect opportunity to get key nutrients such as fiber, calcium and protein, and to work in some whole grains and fruit. A nutritious breakfast can be quick, too. Even kids can make some of these morning meals themselves:
What speedy breakfasts are your favorites?
If someone asks you to name your favorite snack, do you say cookies? Chips? Ice cream? If so, it might be time to rethink your snacks.
It’s fine to enjoy these foods—I do! But I think of them as treats, not snacks, to eat in small amounts no more than once a day.
However, for many people, treat foods are their snack of choice. According to MyPlate, about 35% of Americans’ calories come from empty-calorie foods, including foods like cookies and chips. These foods lack nutrients and provide your body with little besides calories. They shouldn’t take up too much space in your diet.
Instead, eat snacks that are nutrition-packed. Fruits and veggies top my snack list, especially because it’s tough to get enough when limited to meals. As always, you’ll find low prices on the season’s bounty in our produce department. Look for our SimpleNutrition tags that point out the unique nutrition benefits of different fruits and veggies.
Most cities and towns across the country have already sweated through many “dog days of summer,” well ahead of their traditional August appearance. Staying hydrated is critical to good health, but particularly so when it’s hot and humid outside.
Even mild dehydration can negatively affect your well-being. Two recent studies found that mild dehydration was associated with headaches, moodiness, greater fatigue and increased tension and anxiety. Imagine how you’d feel if you were more than mildly dehydrated! Click here for a simple way to gauge your hydration status and to learn more about your daily fluid needs. And help keep your cool with these hydration tips:
How do you keep your cool when temperatures rise?
Over a year’s time, cutting just 100 calories from your daily diet can really add up and help you drop some of those unwanted pounds. The best part? You don’t need to deprive yourself. Cutting 100 calories from your diet is simple and nearly effortless–more than anything, it’s a matter of getting into the calorie-trimming habit! We have lots of great tips to share here, along with these 10 favorites:
What calorie-cutting tricks do you use?
Since nothing says summer like ice cream, you may be standing in the frozen foods aisle wondering which to choose: frozen yogurt or ice cream? Slow-churned or fat-free? Strawberry or cookie dough? One of the best ways to spot the better-for-you choices is to use our SimpleNutrition tag as a guide–you’ll see it on products that meet our strict requirements. Along with our tags, this “scoop” on America’s favorite frozen treat may help you decide the best lick:
Ice Cream: Its creamy texture and taste also come at a nutritional price: premium ice cream usually contains more fat and therefore, more calories than frozen yogurt. But more nutrition-friendly options are available. Many manufacturers, for example, are using new churning technologies to make products with less fat and calories using the same ingredients found in their regular ice creams. Light ice cream is a good option–it has at least 50% less fat and 1/3 fewer calories compared to regular varieties. Low-fat ice cream is a good choice too, with 3 grams or less of fat per serving; fat-free ice cream has less than 0.5 gram. Be aware that candy, cookies and other mix-ins add calories, so opt for plain or fruit flavors most often. Although mouth feel and flavor may be different, options for those with special dietary needs include “no sugar added” or “sugar free” ice creams, and for vegans, soy or non-dairy ice creams.
Frozen Yogurt: Compared to ice cream, frozen yogurt usually has less fat (since it’s made with milk, not cream) but it sometimes contains more sugar. Look for fat-free and low-fat varieties in plain or fruit flavors and skip the ones with high-calorie mix-ins. Another important fact about frozen yogurt: yogurt and frozen yogurt are not the same. Most frozen yogurts pale in comparison to their refrigerated counterparts in terms of nutrition–frozen yogurt typically contains more calories and fat, less calcium, and little of the digestive-friendly live and active cultures. Happily, there are some exceptions to that rule, such as Open Nature Frozen Greek Yogurt. It contains live and active cultures and has more protein than most regular frozen yogurts. Honey is my favorite flavor–with blueberry a close second!
What’s your favorite frozen treat?
Smoothies rock as a quick breakfast or pick-me-up snack. They’re not only refreshing on a summer day (or any day), they’re loaded with good nutrition, too. And kids love making them–my son has even created a smoothie that he calls the “Tim Special”! I’m not at liberty to share that secret recipe, but here are three of my favorite smoothie combos. Don’t be scared off by the color of the Green Smoothie –I promise it doesn’t taste like spinach. The directions for making these smoothies are the same: simply place ingredients in a blender and give them a whirl!
½ cup strawberries*
½ cup sliced peaches*
½ cup O Organics Blended Lowfat Strawberry Yogurt
½ cup Open Nature Mango Nectar
Makes 1 serving.
*Add some ice cubes during blending if you use fresh fruit instead of frozen.
Per serving: Calories: 220; Fat: 1 g (Saturated Fat: 0.5 g); Protein: 4 g; Carbohydrates: 49 g; Fiber: 3 g; Sodium: 55 mg.
¼ cup Open Nature Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt
½ cup Safeway 100% Apple Juice
½ cup chopped O Organics Baby Spinach
½ medium apple, diced
1 to 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
Sprinkle of cinnamon
½ cup ice
Make sure the greens are thoroughly blended before serving. Makes 1 serving.
Per serving: Calories: 230; Fat: 2 g (Saturated Fat: 1 g); Protein: 5 g; Carbohydrates: 50 g; Fiber: 3 g; Sodium: 90 mg.
Blueberry Smoothie Pops
This smoothie recipe is delicious frozen as popsicles, but equally as good as a drink. If you serve it as a beverage, add some ice cubes during blending.
Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe to share?