Wellness Wednesday…Watch Out for Red Foods this Holiday

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‘Tis the Season for holiday baking…my favorite time of the year! I’ve always loved wearing my Christmas apron, making lots of yummy cookies, and adorning all the sweets with red and green candy decorations. This year, however, I’m going to have to change my ways a bit. After learning about the red dye used in a number of the food products I usually use around the holidays, I’m going to have to re-think my holiday baking. You might want to do the same.

 

img_1172What is red food dye?

The red food dye I’m referring to is Red Dye 40, which is a certified color that comes from coal tars. It’s found in many food products, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics, and it’s the most common artificial food coloring. When you’re baking this holiday season, you’ll find it in red candies (M&M’s, sprinkles, candy canes), canned vanilla frosting (to give it a golden tint), and even pre-made refrigerated pie crust.

 

It is listed on food labels as “FD&C Red No. 40” or “Red 40” and is also known as Allura Red.

 

Why do we care?

For starters, research shows that Red 40 has been shown to cause hyperactivity in children and is also known to cause cancer and DNA damage. More specifically, Red 40 contains p-Cresidine, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” In addition, the Center for Science in the Public Interest suggests Red 40 can cause allergic reactions in some people. Many European countries ban the food dye altogether.  

 

Common Food Products Containing Red 40

box-cereal-lucky-charmsCereals:

Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks, Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs

Foods:

Nutri-Grain cereal bar, Hostess Twinkies, Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks, Doritos, Jello Gelatin 

red-mms-chocolate-candyCandy:

M&Ms, Twizzlers, Skittles, Peeps, Candy Corn, Candy Canes, Sprinkles, Gumdrops

Drinks:

V8 Splash, Gatorade, Sunkist Orange Soda, Kool-Aid mix, Mountain Dew Code Red

 

Common Food Products that DO NOT Contain Red 40

1981849b-2fdd-4375-a5b8-7228c00ad679_2-5da55bd939a351877809f83f46b2278cBerry Berry Kix

Cheerios

Grape-Nuts

Post Shredded Wheat

Yoplait yogurts

Mott’s Medleys Fruit Flavored Snacks

Special K Red Berries Cereal

 

What to do this Holiday Season

christmas-cookies-up-close-wallpaper-7316-7647-hd-wallpapersI’m going to avoid Red 40 as best I can, and I recommend you do the same. Although it’s legal in the U.S., I’m not going to risk it. Check the ingredients on food labels, and look for foods that don’t contain any artificial dyes, such as Red 40. There are some alternatives out there. Some safer alternatives might be derived from natural products such as beets, elderberry, and purple sweet potatoes. And, please share the Red 40-Free foods you find this season. Let’s all work together to replace our “red” Christmas foods with some safer options.  Cheers to happy, healthy holiday baking!!!

 

Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!

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Wellness Wednesday…7 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

34b65ee065424f70c1130dc7f5cef2edAll of us at Boomers N Motion wish you a happy, healthy Thanksgiving Day! Can you believe it’s already next week? While none of us will eat perfect on the big day, that’s okay. We encourage you to enjoy the day with friends and family. How you eat on Thanksgiving Day will not determine your health. How you eat the other 364 days of the year does! Having said that, there are a few tips you can try to keep things in check this year. After all, you’ve been working so hard to stay healthy and keep fit. Let’s keep these goals in mind while celebrating the season.

 

1.  Eat Breakfast!  

While you might think it makes sense to save up your calories for the big meal, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. This will give you more control over your hunger and keep your blood sugar and hormones in check. If you skip breakfast, you’re likely to eat double the number of calories later in the day.

Skinny-Fried-Egg-and-Avo-Toast-Perfect-breakfast-YUMChoose a nutritious breakfast that includes protein, fiber, and some healthy fats. This will take the edge off your hunger and allow you to make better food choices later in the day. My favorite breakfast includes an egg-white omelet stuffed with veggies and a hot bowl of steel cut oats topped with blueberries and chia seeds….yum!

 

2.  Start the Day with Physical Activity.

Family Walking In The ParkTake a walk outside or get to the gym first thing, before the day gets crazy. Not only will you create a calorie-deficit right from the get go, you’ll end up feeling more energized throughout the entire day. 

Suggest the family take a neighborhood walk after the big meal. It’s a wonderful way for your family to get some activity and enjoy the holiday together. Plus, this will also help you from nibbling on left-overs.

 

3.  Lighten Up!

Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner or just making a few dishes to share, make your recipes healthier with less fat, sugar, and calories. Recipes usually contain more sugar and fat than is really necessary, and your family won’t even notice the difference. Here are a few suggestions:

  • U54f8c16bcd754_-_green-beans-hazelnuts-xlgse fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy.
  • Reduce or eliminate oil and butter wherever you can. Ask yourself if you could use applesauce or ricotta cheese as a replacement.
  • Try plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, and casseroles.
  • Make your own stuffing using Ezekiel bread. (It’s actually really good.)
  • Search for new recipes for making healthy sweet potatoes. One recipe I found calls for yams baked in foil at 400 degrees for about an hour. Then, peel and layer them with pineapple slices and a little cinnamon. You get sweetness from the pineapple without added fats and sugars.

 

4.  Position Yourself Well.

How many times do you find yourself hanging out in kitchen? For some reason, this is often the place we congregate. Unfortunately, it also makes it super easy and tempting to nibble on food and pour extra drinks. Don’t put yourself through the agony. Get out of the kitchen or dining room, so you’re not constantly looking at food. Place yourself where you’re looking at a nice fire, warm smiles, good tunes, or maybe even a dance floor. You’ll have a much better time.

fireplace-family-small-1024x647

 

5.  Be Smart with Alcohol.

drinksIf you like to drink on the holidays, be smart how you do it. Avoid drinking alcohol BEFORE you eat. It will make you hungrier and less inhibited. And, when you do start to drink, double-fist it. No, not like you think. What I mean is have your alcohol AND a glass of water. This will keep you hydrated and slow down your alcohol consumption. Remember, alcohol calories add up fast.

 

6.  Divide Your Plate.

portions_1Divide your plate into sections for success. Fill half of your plate with vegetables. Leafy green salads and fresh steamed or roasted veggies are best. Then, fill one quarter with white turkey meat and the rest with healthy carbs like corn on the cob, a baked potato or sweet potato, and/or healthy stuffing.

 

 

7.  Be Thankful.

With all of the busy-ness of the day, it easy to forget this one. Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Think about everything you’re thankful for this year. Think about your family and friends, about your health, about all of the delicious food you have available to you. Be grateful and keep a calm, peaceful mind throughout the day.

Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

 

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day, and please know how GRATEFUL we are for all of you. We are extremely THANKFUL that we get to share our knowledge and passion for health and wellness with you each week!

Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!

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Wellness Wednesday…Out-Smarting Food Labels

1600027568cfReading labels can be tricky. Since so many people are health-conscious these days, food manufacturers often use misleading tricks to convince people to buy their products. Have you ever seen a box of Cocoa Puffs labeled as “whole grain”? They try to make it look so healthy, but in reality, it’s still loaded with sugar and it’s not good for you at all.

The regulations behind food labeling are complex, so it’s no surprise we have a hard time understanding it. Front labels are often used to lure people into buying products; however, most of these labels are highly misleading or completely false. Today we’ll look at food labels in a bit more detail and learn what’s really going on with the food inside the package.

Look at the Ingredients List

  • ingredient-listProduct ingredients are listed by quantity from highest to lowest amount. That means the first listed ingredient is what the manufacturer used most of.
  • If the first ingredient includes refined grains, some sort of sugar, or hydrogenated oils, you can be pretty sure that the product is unhealthy.
  • A good rule of thumb is to look for foods with a short list of ingredients. If the list is longer than 2 to 3 lines, you can assume that the product is highly processed.

 

Watch Out for Serving Size

The back of nutrition labels state how many calories and nutrients are in a single serving of the product. These serving sizes are often much smaller than how much we actually eat. In this way, manufacturers try to deceive us into thinking that the food has fewer calories and less sugar than it actually does. They’re tricky. If you want to know the real nutritional value of what you’re eating, you need to multiply the serving given on the back by the number of servings you consumed.

calories01x-large

A perfect example of this is a bottle of Coca-Cola. They now advertise on the front of the bottle that there are only 100 calories per serving. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? The problem is, there are 8 servings in that bottle!

 

 

Misleading Label Claims…and What They REALLY Mean

Health claims on packaged food are designed to catch your attention and convince you that the product is healthy. These are super sneaky because they make certain foods sound so good for you. If something says “organic” or “gluten-free,” don’t you just feel like you’re making a healthy choice? That’s not always the case though. Here are some common terms and what they REALLY mean:

  • Light: The term “light” or “lite” indicates that a food has one third fewer calories, 50% less fat, OR 50% less sodium than a comparable product. Many times these products are simply watered down. Check the ingredient list carefully to see if anything has been added to replace the fat. For example, many times manufacturers will add sugar to replace fat. In this way, a food could contain 50% less fat (and be called “light”) but actually have double the sugar content.

7-multi-grain-itemmaster

  • Multigrain: This sounds very healthy, but it simply means that there is more than one type of grain in the product. Typically, this means multiple types of refined grains that are stripped of their natural nutrients and fiber. Look at the ingredient list to learn more. If you see refined grains listed, put it down and look for a product that uses “whole grains” instead.

 

  • Natural: Foods labeled “natural” do not contain artificial ingredients or preservatives, and the ingredients are only minimally processed. However, they may contain antibiotics, growth hormones, and other similar chemicals. Regulations are fairly lenient.

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  • Organic: If it’s organic, it’s good for you. Right? Not so fast! Foods labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95% organically produced ingredients and the other 5% must be approved by the USDA. These foods cannot be produced with antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, petroleum, or sewage-sludge based fertilizers, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation. Not all organic foods are good for you though. For example, organic sugar is still sugar!

 

  • 100% Organic: Foods labeled “100% organic” must consist of ONLY organic ingredients and processing aids.

 

  • Made with Organic Ingredients: Foods with this labeling must consist of at least 70% organic ingredients and none of the ingredients can be produced with sewage-sludge based products or ionizing radiation. Labeling cannot include the USDA seal or the word “organic” in any principle displays. (See how this gets so confusing?)

 

powder-chocolate-no-sugar-added-16

  • No added sugar: The term “no added sugar” does not mean a food does not contain sugar or that it is low in calories or carbohydrates. Some products are naturally high in sugar. This term simply means that the manufacturer has not ADDED sugar to the product. Again, read the ingredients. Sometime unhealthy sugar substitutes have been added instead.

 

  • Low calorie: Low calorie products contain 40 calories or less per serving. Remember to check the serving size!

 

  • Fat Free: Foods labeled as “fat free” might actually contain some fat! By definition “fat free” foods must contain less than 0.5 g per serving. If a food had 0.4 grams of fat per serving and you consumed 5 servings, you would actually consume 2 g of fat from this “fat free” food.

 

  • Low Fat: This label almost always means that the fat has been reduced at the cost of adding more sugar. Be very careful and check the ingredient list on the back. Technically, the term “low fat” means a food has 3 g of fat or less per serving.

 

label-salt-v8-low-sodium_3c122a96c1c852e99e175ad82d539015

  • Low Sodium: Foods labeled as “low sodium” contain 140 mg or less per serving. I can’t say this enough….check the serving size. If you’re using 3 servings of the product, your sodium intake might not be so low, after all.

 

  • Made with whole grain: This simply means there were whole grains used to produce the food. Why is this tricky? Because it doesn’t tell you how much of the product was made with whole grains. There’s a good chance very little whole grain was actually used. Check the ingredient list and see where the whole grain is placed. If it’s not in the first 3 ingredients, the amount is negligible.

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  • Enriched and fortified: “Enriched” means nutrients that were lost during food processing have been added back. An example is adding back certain vitamins lost in processing wheat to make white flour. “Fortified” means vitamins or minerals have been added to a food that weren’t originally in the food. An example is adding vitamin D to milk.  

 

  • Gluten Free: Just because a food is labeled as “gluten free,” it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Gluten is a mixture of proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and crossbreeds of these grains. Many foods are gluten free but can be highly processed and loaded with unhealthy fats and sugar. According to the rules set by the FDA, the criteria for using the claim, “gluten free” is that the gluten level must not exceed 20 ppm (parts per million).

dannon-fruit-bottom-strawberry-38454

  • Fruit-flavored: Many processed foods have a name that refers to a natural flavor, such as strawberry yogurt. In reality, there may not be any fruit in the product, only chemicals designed to taste like fruit.

 

 

Different Names for Sugar

01-too-much-sugar-openerSugar goes by countless names, many of which you may not recognize. Food manufacturers use this to their advantage. They purposely add many different kinds of sugar to their products, so they can hide the actual (total) amount. By doing this, they can list a “healthier” ingredient at the top of the ingredient list and mention sugar further down. So, even though a product may be loaded with sugar, it doesn’t necessarily appear as one of the top 3 ingredients.

To avoid accidentally consuming a lot of sugar, it may be wise to look out for the following names in the ingredient lists:

ingredients-list-sugarsTypes of sugar: beet sugar, brown sugar, buttered sugar, cane sugar, caster sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, golden sugar, invert sugar, muscovado sugar, organic raw sugar, raspadura sugar, evaporated can juice, and confectioner’s sugar.

Types of syrup: carob syrup, golden syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave nectar, malt syrup, maple syrup, oat syrup, rice bran syrup, and rice syrup.

Other added sugars: barley malt, molasses, cane juice crystals, lactose, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextran, malt powder, ethyl maltol, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, galactose, glucose, disaccharides, maltodextrin, and maltose.

There are many more names for sugar, but these are the most common. If you see any of these in the top spots on the ingredients list OR several kinds throughout the list, then you can be sure that the product is high in added sugar.

 

The Bottom Line

The best way to avoid being misled by these labels is to avoid processed foods altogether. Keep in mind that whole food doesn’t need an ingredient list because the whole food IS the ingredient. When you do have to buy packaged foods, though, use these tips to sort out the junk from the higher quality products.

Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!

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Wellness Wednesday…Pumpkin Season is HERE!

It’s November, and everything is pumpkin! Pumpkin pancakes are the special at every breakfast place, pumpkin-pie blizzards are now available at Dairy Queen, and I even saw pumpkin-flavored cheerios at the grocery store. It seems like people can’t get enough pumpkin this time of year.

bigstock-three-pumpkins-with-fall-leave-49194620

While many of these special pumpkin treats are loaded with extra sugar and calories, pumpkin is actually quite healthy for you. That bright orange color tells us something about pumpkin’s health properties. It’s an excellent source of beta carotene which is a pretty powerful antioxidant. Our bodies translate beta carotene into Vitamin A, which is known to protect us from certain cancers and other diseases. Vitamin A also plays a key role in eyesight, especially seeing in the dark!

Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. The seeds, too, are loaded with nutrients. The seeds are packed with fiber and protein and are an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, and monosaturated fat.

Today, as November is just getting started, let’s look at some healthy pumpkin recipes that you can enjoy without putting on any pre-holiday weight.

 

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

If you typically have a smoothie for breakfast, try this version for a special November treat. I suggest adding a scoop of vanilla protein to boost your morning intake of protein. Or, if you’re craving a pumpkin milkshake or ice cream, try this delicious smoothie instead. You’ll still get a sweet treat without blowing your calories for the day.

Recipe is for 2 smoothies or 1 monster size smoothie.

Ingredients:pumpkin-spice-smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (or other milk of choice)
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (optional)
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • 1 cup ice

Directions:

  • Add all of the ingredients to the blender in the order listed. Blend on high for at least 3 minutes or until smooth – this may take longer if your blender isn’t very strong. Scrape down the sides of the blender as needed.
  • Add more milk to thin out if it is too thick. Add a couple more ice cubes for a thicker texture, if desired. Add more spices to taste, if desired.
  • Enjoy this protein packed smoothie. It’s like drinkable pumpkin pie!

 

Crock Pot Turkey Pumpkin Chili

A perfect fall chili made with pumpkin puree, ground turkey, white beans, and more. Best of all…you can throw it in your crock pot and a warm meal will be waiting for you when you’re ready.

Recipe makes about 9, 1-cup servings.

crockpot-turkey-white-bean-pumpkin-chili-550x360Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 (15 oz cans) white northern or navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree (or homemade)
  • 5 oz canned chopped green chile
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • chopped cilantro and chives for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • low fat sour cream for topping (optional)

Directions:

  • Heat a large heavy saute pan over high heat and lightly spray with oil.
  • Add meat and cook, breaking it up until white. Add to crock pot.
  • Add oil to the saute pan, then onions, garlic, sauté about 3 – 4 minutes; add cumin and sauté another minute. Add to crock pot.
  • Add beans, pumpkin puree, green chilis, broth, chili powder, oregano, and bay leaves.
  • Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
  • Remove bay leaves and adjust seasoning to taste before serving. Enjoy!

 

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Easy, FLUFFY healthy pumpkin pancakes, made in the blender, so there’s no clean up. Simple, healthy recipe with lots of warm spices. A must make this fall!

Recipe makes 12, 5-inch pancakes.

pumpkin_pancakes_3Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat Flour
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or substitute 1 tablespoon lemon juice—do not omit!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

            For serving: apple or pumpkin butter, pure maple syrup, or toasted pecans

Directions:

  • If desired, preheat the oven to 200 degrees to keep the pancakes warm between batches.
  • To a high-powered blender, add the buckwheat flour and pumpkin puree, then pour the milk over the top so that the flour is moistened. Add the remaining ingredients: eggs, oil, maple syrup, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, salt, and spices. Blend until combined, stopping to scrape down the blender once or twice as needed.
  • Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium low heat. Low and slow is key to cooking these pancakes to ensure that they cook through but do not burn. Don’t rush it! Lightly coat with cooking spray or a small amount of oil. Once the pan is hot, for each pancake, pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan. Let cook until the pancakes look dry at the ends, about 3 minutes (bubbles will not form on top). Flip and cook on the other side until golden, about 90 additional seconds. Serve immediately with any desired toppings or place in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

If you’re looking for a quick, on-the-go snack, try making these tasty, munch-able roasted pumpkin seeds. Make them with a little sea salt, and you’re sure to reach for these instead of those potato chips!

Size of recipe depends on the size of your pumpkin.

2011-10-15-pumpkin-roll-and-pumpkin-seeds-080copyIngredients:

  • Pumpkin, with seeds inside
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt   

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  • Seed the pumpkin: Using a spoon, scrape the pulp and seeds out of your pumpkin into a bowl.
  • Clean the seeds: Separate the seeds from the stringy pulp, rinse the seeds in a colander under cold water, then shake dry. Don’t blot with a paper towel – the seeds will stick.
  • Dry them: Spread the seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet and roast 30 minutes to dry them out.
  • Add spices: Toss the seeds with olive oil and sea salt. Return to the oven and bake until crisp and golden, about 20 more minutes.

 

Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!

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