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    Archive for the ‘breakfast’ Category

    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Oil-Free Autumn Buckwheat Granola

    Buckwheat is technically a seed (and, despite its name, wheat & gluten-free)

    I love this granola for several reasons; it offers something different by not being oat-based, it doesn’t contain any added oils (gets all its healthful fats from whole foods), it’s a delectable combination of crunchy and chewy, and it captures all the flavors of autumn.  Enjoy!

    Continue Reading »


    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Allergy-Friendly Breakfast Pie (Wheat, Soy, Dairy, and Nut-Free!)

    goodmorningiu9You can have this pie whenever you please — day or night.  However, its fruity flavors are breakfast-ish to me.  And, while it is a pie, it is made of such healthful ingredients that you can start your day off quite nutritiously with a slice.

    Chock-full of fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it makes minimally-nutritious morning pastries quiver in fear!

    YIELDS: One 8-slice pie


    For crust:

    3/4 cup raw almonds (see NOTES at bottom of post)
    3/4 cup raw walnuts (see NOTES at bottom of post)
    (NOTE: For nut-free version, you will need 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup hemp seeds, and 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds; see NOTES at bottom of post)
    2 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded dried coconut (optional)
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup pitted dates (any variety; I like Medjool)

    For filling:

    1.5 cups blueberries
    1.5 cups strawberries, sliced
    1 medium banana, sliced
    2 Tablespoons cup raisins
    1 scoop unsweetened whey or hemp protein powder (optional; see NOTES at bottom of post)
    1 Tablespoon water (if needed, to thin out)


    To make the crust, process the nuts/seeds, coconut (if using), vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in food processor into a finely ground powder.

    Add the pitted dates, 1/3 of a cup at a time, and process for 30 to 45 seconds at a time.

    Once all the dates have been added, you should have a solid “dough-like” product.  If it does not stick together, add a few more pitted dates and process again.

    Remove the “dough” from the food processor and press it into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan (preferably glass), forming a crust that goes up onto the sides of the pan.  Once done, place pie pan in freezer for 30 minutes.

    While crust freezes, make the filling, as detailed below.

    Rinse out the food processor and fill it with berries, the sliced banana, and the raisins.  Process for 45 to 60 seconds, or until completely smooth.  If needed, add up to 1 Tablespoon of water to make processing easier (careful, though, you don’t your filling to be watery!).

    Once filling is smooth (and has a creamy texture), remove crust from freezer and pour filling into pie pan.

    Refrigerate pie pan for at least 90 minutes.

    Once pie has been fully refrigerated, cut into eight uniform slices and enjoy!

    NUTRITION FACTS (for 1 slice, crust made with almonds and walnuts, filling without protein powder):

    245 calories
    1.5 grams saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    5 grams fiber
    4 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: B vitamins (except B12), folate, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, zinc

    Good Source of: Iron, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 ALA fatty acids, vitamin E, zinc


    1. For a simpler and less costly crust, you can definitely use one type of nut or seed.  I like using a combination in order to achieve more flavors, but that is completely up to you.  If using multiple nuts/seeds, feel free to experiment with different ratios, too.  You can also try ingredients not listed in this recipe (i.e.: Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, etc.)

    2. The extra scoop of whey or hemp protein in the filling provides an additional 2.5 grams of protein per slice, and thickens up the texture slightly.  I find that an unsweetened, vanilla-flavored type works best with the filling.

    3. Serving this for guests?  Top it off with whole fresh berries or sliced fruits of your choice!

    4. If you want to give the crust a hint of chocolate flavor, add one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the crust.  For a deep chocolate flavor, add two tablespoons.


    A “Touch” Of Honey… And A Whole Lot More!

    ServeImageOne of Kellogg’s newest products is its Special-K low-fat granola.

    I came across it for the first time in the supermarket today and got such a kick out of its misleading advertising that I must share it with you.

    The front of the box states:

    “Touch of honey”

    I don’t know about you, but when I hear that something is sweetened with a “touch of honey”, I assume honey is the only sweetener used (and used in low amounts, no less).

    A look at the ingredient list reveals the following (I bolded certain ingredients for effect):

    Whole grain oats, sugar, corn syrup, oat bran, rice, honey, soluble wheat fiber, modified corn starch, soy grits, molasses, corn flour, natural flavor, salt, acacia gum, soy protein isolate, oat fiber, evaporated cane juice, malt flavoring high fructose corn syrup, niacinamide, reduced iron, BHT (preservative), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin A palmitate, folic acid, ferrous fumarate, calcium pantothenate, vitamin D, vitamin B12.

    Sugar, sugar everywhere!  There are no less than seven different sweeteners — including honey — in this product.

    There most certainly is a “touch of honey”, along with a touch of sugar, corn syrup, molasses, evaporated cane juice, malt flavoring, and high fructose corn syrup.

    The sugar content isn’t anything extravagant (9 grams — or slightly over 2 teaspoons — per 3/4 cup serving), but it’s well beyond a “touch” of sweetness.  For what it’s worth, you get the same amount of sugar from a three-quarter-cup serving of Fruity Pebbles!

    Remember — and I will never tire of saying this — that the use of honey as a sweetener does not make a product healthier, lower in sugar, or less caloric.


    Does A Healthy Breakfast Cost More?

    Ciniminis_260x480I was just perusing Burger King’s website and came across one of their $1 breakfast offerings — a “4-pack of warm, gooey” mini cinnamon buns accompanied by a small container of icing dip.

    This breakfast item adds up to:

    • 490 calories
    • 7 grams saturated fat
    • 39 grams (almost 10 teaspoons) of added sugar
    • 1 gram fiber
    • 400 milligrams sodium

    Then, I started hearing the voices.  You know, the critical voices that claim healthy eating is something only a certain elite group is capable of doing.

    “See, Andy, how can you possibly convince someone to have a healthy breakfast when they can fill up on 490 calories for a mere dollar?”

    Time for some budget-conscious nutrition 101!

    Let’s suppose that, rather than start the day off with this cinnamon bun breakfast, our hypothetical subject instead toasts two slices of 100% whole grain bread, tops each with a tablespoon of peanut butter, and chows down on a banana.

    Based on prices I have seen online as well as in various markets in New York City, I think it is fair to say that one can buy a 20-slice loaf of 100% whole grain bread for $2.89.

    A standard 16-ounce jar of natural peanut butter can be purchased for $3.29 (even less if it’s a generic brand).

    A medium banana sets you back approximately 25 cents.

    Now, for some simple math:

    2 slices of a $2.89 20-slice loaf of bread= 28.9 cents

    2 tablespoons of a $3.29 16-ounce, 28-tablespoon peanut butter jar: 23.5 cents

    Add 25 cents for the banana and you get a grand total of 77 cents for the healthier breakfast (which, by the way, takes no more than 5 minutes to make).

    Even when you consider tax, you are looking at no more than 82 or 83 cents.

    For the record, this is the nutritional breakdown of the healthier breakfast:

    • 515 calories
    • 2.5 grams saturated fat
    • 460 milligrams sodium
    • 11 grams fiber
    • 4 grams (1 teaspoon) added sugar
    • 17 grams protein

    While the sodium count is slightly higher, it is still within reasonable parameters.  Remember, ideally you want a calorie-to-sodium ratio of 1:1.  Hence, 460 milligrams of sodium in a 515-calorie meal is much more acceptable than in a 150-calorie snack.

    Besides, an additional 60 milligrams of sodium are not worth worrying about when the healthier breakfast provides less saturated fat, a lot less added sugar, and significantly more fiber than Burger King’s $1 “value breakfast”.

    More importantly, the healthier breakfast contains higher amounts of magnesium, manganese, monounsaturated (heart-healthy) fats, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.

    In this case, choosing healthy over convenient truly is the better deal.


    You Ask, I Answer: Tofu Cream Cheese

    brealfastHow does tofu cream cheese stack up against regular cream cheese?

    Is the tofu type any better for you?

    — Ella Biggadike
    Brooklyn, NY

    Dairy and soy-based cream cheeses don’t offer much nutrition.

    Here is what you get in one tablespoon of dairy-based cream cheese:

    • 50 calories
    • 3 grams saturated fat (quite a bit for a mere 50-calorie serving!)
    • 1 gram protein
    • 4 percent of the vitamin A Daily Value
    • 2 percent of the phosphorus Daily Value
    • 1 percent of the Daily Value of: calcium, pantothenic acid, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin K

    Of course, fat-free varieties do not offer saturated fat (and clock in at 35 calories per tablespoon).

    Soy-based cream cheeses have an almost identical nutrient profile (except their fat is mostly polyunsaturated, rather than saturated).

    The bigger nutritional concern is what cream cheese is being slathered on.

    The average bagel, for example, clocks in at anywhere from 400 – 500 calories.  Considering that it takes three or four tablespoons of cream cheese to fill them decently, you are easily looking at a 700-calorie breakfast.

    I recommend using nut butters as bagel fillings.  Their fiber, high protein content, and healthy fats (especially in the case of peanut and almond butters) will keep you full for much longer.

    A half bagel topped with two tablespoons of nut or seed butter is a filling breakfast that adds up to approximately 400 calories.


    Research, Shmesearch

    mini_wheats(1)Tens of thousands of research studies have played a pivotal role in the discovery and perpetual evolution of nutrition science.

    Unfortunately, there has also been plenty of “research” solely meant to push forward certain food companies’ agendas and products.

    Case in point — the latest study attributed to Frosted Mini Wheats.  

    In their quest to convince parents that this cereal is the absolute best for children, this is what Kellogg’s is pushing on their website and in television advertisements:

    A clinical study showed kids who ate a filling breakfast of Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats cereal had 11% better attentiveness compared to kids who missed out on breakfast.

    And then there’s this gem:

    A clinical study showed kids who ate a filling breakfast of Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats cereal had 23% better quality of memory when compare to kids who missed out on breakfast.

    What this one study appears to show, then, is that eating breakfast is better for mental function than not eating it.  The Frosted Mini Wheats are irrelevant.


    Numbers Game: Heavy Wake-Up Call

    cheesecake-factory2Order a Morning Quesadilla at The Cheesecake Factory and you’ll be served _______ calories and ______ milligrams of sodium on a plate.

    (NOTE: Daily sodium intake is recommended to not surpass 2,400 milligrams)

    a) 1,870/2,500
    b) 2,215/1,900
    c) 2,410/3,200
    d) 2,015/4,347

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Monday for the answer.


    Good Morning, Unnecessary Products!

    productshotBehold CapriSun’s latest venture — CapriSun Sunrise.

    According to its advertisements, this juice drink blend “adds a little sunshine to breakfast” by providing children with calcium and Vitamin C in a “fun-for-them, no-fuss-for-you pouch.”

    Sigh.  This quite possibly deserves the “most unnecessary product award.”

    From a nutrition label and ingredient list standpoint, there is absolutely no difference between CapriSun Sunrise and regular CapriSun.  Water and sugar are the first two ingredients, followed by juice concentrates (more nutrition-void sugar!)  The highly-advertised vitamins and minerals are simply tacked on during processing.

    THIS is supposed to reassure parents that their children are starting off the morning nutritiously?  They might as well serve their children a glass of sugar water a with a chewable multivitamin on the side.

    Apparently, consumers are buying into the notion that certain products are strictly for the morning hours, despite being identical to their “any time of day” counterparts.  Luna Bars’ Sunrise bars (released in 2007) have sold well, and 2006’s Gatorade A.M. has managed to stay afloat in the sports drink arena.

    According to CapriSun, their Sunrise line “makes Mom sense.”  I think it’s NONsense.


    You Ask, I Answer: Breakfast

    In Gwyneth Paltrow’s new site she gives nutrition advice.

    She recently said that a person should try to go 12 hours between finishing dinner and beginning breakfast.

    She states that breakfast should be a “break from the fast” (12+ hours) to allow the system to rest and detoxify.

    What do you think of this concept?

    — Sarah (last name unknown)
    Via the blog

    Gwyneth didn’t have much nutritional credibility with me earlier this year when she blogged about the health miracles of detoxing. Let’s find out if she has redeemed herself with her latest batch of advice.

    No need for a drumroll — the answer is NO, she has not redeemed herself.

    The number of hours that pass between your last bite of food prior to hitting the sack and waking up the next morning are irrelevant.

    There is nothing magical about twelve hours. Eating breakfast nine hours after finishing dinner has no negative effects on health or digestion.

    Let’s assume you had a late snack at 11:30 PM and went to bed an hour later, at 12:30 AM. Eight hours later (at 8:30 AM) you wake up. I find it absolutely ridiculous to expect you to wait three hours to eat breakfast!

    If anything, by the time you have your first morsel of food, you’ll be so famished you’ll overeat.

    I would much rather you focus on what you’re eating for breakfast. Waiting twelve hours to load up on a breakfast low in fiber and nutrients but high in added sugars and calories makes no sense.

    My other concern with this “health halo” surrounding fasting and spending hours without eating is that it is a half step away from glorifying anorexia nervosa.

    Where did celebrities get the idea that an Oscar and a health credential are the same thing?


    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Sweet Quinoa Breakfast

    Here’s a delicious — and healthy! — alternative to oatmeal for these wintry days.

    YIELDS: 1 cup (2 servings)


    1 cup prepared quinoa (follow instructions on box; as with rice, you can make one large batch and keep it in the fridge for later use)
    1/2 cup milk of choice (dairy, soy, almond, rice, etc.)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract (if using unflavored milk)
    1 teaspoon honey/agave nectar/yacon syrup (optional, if using unsweetened milk)
    1 tablespoon raisins or goji berries
    1 tablespoon raw walnuts, pecans, hemp seeds, chia seeds, or unsweetened shredded coconut
    2 tablespoons oat bran


    Place all ingredients in saucepan.

    Turn stovetop burner to high and place uncovered saucepan on top. Bring mixture to a boil.

    Once boiling is reached, lower heat to simmer and cover saucepan.

    Turn heat off after 5 minutes. Let saucepan sit on stove for a minute.

    Uncover saucepan, stir, and transfer contents to bowl.

    Top with 2 tablespoons oat bran.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving; assuming recipe is made with unsweetened soymilk):

    330 calories
    1.2 grams saturated fat
    100 milligrams sodium
    6.5 grams fiber (2.5 grams soluble)
    11.5 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: fiber, manganese, monounsaturated fat, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, thiamin

    Good Source of: iron, niacin, riboflavin, protein


    Numbers Game: Answer

    Del Taco’s “Macho” bacon-and-egg breakfast burrito starts the morning off with 1,030 calories, 100 percent of a day’s worth of saturated fat, and 73 percent of a day’s worth of sodium.

    From a caloric standpoint, that’s equivalent to almost three and a half Egg McMuffins!

    Interestingly, consumer behavior reports are showing large increases in breakfast-to-go purchases.

    According to the 2008 New American Diner Study twenty percent of consumers “always or often” eat breakfast away from home on weekdays.

    On another note, isn’t it rather pathetic that manliness is somehow equated to hyper-caloric, unhealthy eating?


    Ready, Set, Scramble!

    Scrambled tofu is a highly polarizing brunch entrée.

    Many people — including myself — love the fluffy texture and savory tones, while others gag just reading those two words on a menu.

    In my experience, though, most carnivores who think tofu is the creation of demonic forces with bland palates end up changing their perception of the soy-based food after a few bites of a well-made tofu scramble.

    The one kink is that, as delicious as it is, its preparation involves the chopping and dicing of many vegetables.

    As wonderful a brunch dish it is, I often find it hard to motivate myself to prepare it on a lazy Sunday morning.

    Imagine, then, how pleased I was to stumble upon Fantastic World Foods’ tofu scrambler seasoning.

    All you need to do is buy a package of extra firm tofu (found at most supermarkets’ produce section), crumble it in a bowl, add the seasoning, mix it all up, and then heat everything in a slightly oiled pan.

    Best part of all? Each seasoning packet clocks in at 800 milligrams of sodium, meaning that even if shared by just two people (that’s quite a bit of scramble!), you are only getting 400 milligrams a piece.

    The ingredient list is also a pleasure to read. Barley flakes, dried vegetables, and a variety of spices are the main ingredients.

    There is no “onion flavoring” or “celery flavoring,” but actual onions and celery. Imagine that!

    In total, a tofu scramble prepared this way and shared by two adds up to:

    262 calories
    1.3 grams saturated fat

    400 milligrams sodium

    4 grams fiber

    21 grams protein

    Accompany it with a slice of whole grain toast topped with a tablespoon of your nut butter of choice and you have a nutritious breakfast that is ready to be served before the coffee is done brewing.


    Red, White, and Blue — And Good For You

    With patriotic spirits soaring over the past few days, I thought it would be perfect timing to discuss U.S. Mills’ cereal and instant oatmeal products — easy and very tasty ways to increase your whole grain and fiber intake.

    Three quarters of a cup of Uncle Sam’s original cereal offers 10 grams of fiber (all derived from the ingredients, not added on for fortification), 7 grams of protein, and 0.5 grams of sugar in a 190 calorie package.

    I do wish, however, that this cereal included ground flaxseed (as opposed to whole) for even more of a nutrition boost.

    In any case, throw in some sliced bananas, add your milk of choice (dairy, soy, rice, etc.) and you have a filling, wholesome breakfast.

    Their instant oatmeal with non-genetically modified soymilk, meanwhile, makes for a wonderfully convenient vegan breakfast.

    Simply add water and enjoy…

    160 calories
    50 milligrams of sodium
    (that’s 220 fewer milligrams than the same amount of Quaker instant flavored oatmeal)
    5 grams of fiber
    6 grams — a mere teaspoon and a half — of added sugar (50% less than Quaker flavored oatmeals)
    7 grams of protein

    … per packet.


    Numbers Game: Big Breakfast

    Au Bon Pain’s “sausage, egg, and cheddar on an asiago bagel” breakfast menu item contains _______ calories and _________ percent of a day’s worth of saturated fat (for a 2,000 calorie diet).

    a) 810/115%
    b) 612/81%

    c) 739/150%

    d) 531/92%

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Tuesday for the answer!


    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Ultimate Yogurt Bowl

    I came up with this concoction last year and it soon became one of my favorite breakfasts.

    Depending on your caloric requirements, you may opt to have it as a weekend brunch item or have it as your weekday breakfast with a few modifications (detailed at the end of the post).

    Either way, it’s a delicious source of calcium, Omega-3 Alpha Linolenic Fatty Acids, heart-healthy fats, and fiber (including a spectacular 3 grams of the soluble, cholesterol-lowering variety).

    6 oz. low-fat plain dairy or soy yogurt (I love Greek yogurt’s taste and texture)
    1/2 cup strawberries, chopped
    1 medium banana, sliced

    1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

    1/4 cup oat bran
    3 Tablespoons ground flaxseed

    Get all the ingredients into a bowl and mix them together. Yum!


    646 calories
    23 grams fat
    3 grams saturated fat
    16.6 grams fiber
    40 grams protein
    300 milligrams calcium (30% of the Daily Value)

    Note: If you are preparing this with “regular” (non-Greek) yogurt, protein adds up to 29 grams and calcium totals 700 milligrams!

    If you need to lower the calories, try one — or more — of the following options:

    Omit the banana and save 105 calories (fiber total decreases to a still excellent 13.1 grams)
    Omit the walnuts and save 131 calories (the ground flaxseeds still deliver Omega-3 fatty acids, and you only lose 1.3 grams of fiber)
    Lower the ground flaxseed to 1.5 tablespoons and save 55 calories (the end result will contain 13 grams of fiber).

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