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    Archive for the ‘niacin’ Category

    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Perfect Pasta Sauce

    51vnSOGsI6L._SL500_AA280_Your typical tomato sauce recipe calls for plenty of chopping — and time! Many sauce purists, in fact, claim the only way to achieve deliciousness is by simmering tomato sauce for hours on the stovetop, allowing flavors to blend and fully integrate.

    While all that is true, it is not the only way to make an out-of-this-world pasta sauce.

    This recipe is super quick, but provides a sauce that truly tastes as if you had labored over it for hours.  I knew this was a must-share recipe when a friend of mine — who consider herself a “sauce connoisseur” — proclaimed this one of her top-three all-time favorite sauces and demanded the recipe.

    YIELDS: 1/2 cup (2 servings)

    INGREDIENTS:

    12 grape tomatoes
    1 medium garlic clove
    1/3 cup roasted or raw red peppers
    2 Tablespoons sundried tomatoes (packed in olive oil)
    1 Tablespoon white onion, chopped
    1/3 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/3 teaspoon dried basil
    1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/8 teaspoon sea salt
    Pinch of pepper
    1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend/process until well-mixed.

    NUTRITION FACTS (per quarter-cup serving)

    100 calories
    1 gram saturated fat
    170 milligrams sodium

    Excellent Source of: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E

    Good Source of: folate, niacin, potassium, thiamin

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Five-Minute Creamy Mushroom Soup

    mushroomsI love a bowl of homemade soup on chilly days, but don’t always have the time (or patience) to make soup from scratch.

    Alas, this amazingly simple “chop, blend, and heat” recipe produces an out-of-this-world-delicious (and super healthy!) soup.  I’ve been hooked on this since day one.

    Since this soup is filling due to its share of healthy fats and protein, it can be perfectly paired with a salad or small sandwich.

    YIELDS: 1 – 2 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 cup water
    1/4 – 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
    1/4 cup chopped onion of choice (I use yellow)
    1 garlic clove (use 2 if you want it extra-garlicky)
    1 cup sliced mushrooms of choice (I use white)
    1/4 cup chopped celery
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    1/8 teaspoon salt or miso
    Pepper, to taste

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Process all ingredients in blender.

    Transfer to pot and heat for 5 minutes.

    Serve and enjoy.  Top with cilantro or scallions!

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    358 calories
    4 grams saturated fat
    300 milligrams sodium
    3 grams fiber
    11 grams protein

    Excellent source of: Folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin C

    Good source of: Copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium.

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    You Ask, I Answer: What Makes Brown Rice Healthier?

    b6-brown-rice-lgWhy is brown rice considered so much better than white rice?

    The food labels for each one aren’t all that different.  Brown rice just has a little more fiber.

    So, what’s the big deal?

    — Jessica Bracanti
    (City withheld), CT

    As helpful as food labels can be in guiding our food choices, they barely tell the true tale of a food’s whole nutritional profile.

    You are right — strictly from a food label standpoint, brown rice doesn’t seem to have many advantages over white rice.  It’s what you don’t see on the food label that makes all the difference!

    Brown rice contains significantly higher levels of phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin E.

    If there were no enrichment laws (those which require that nutrients lost in processing be added back to refined grains like white rice), brown rice would also contain higher levels of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, and vitamin B6 than its white counterpart.

    Remember, though, that vitamins and minerals are only part of  a food’s nutritional profile.

    Since brown rice is a whole grain, it offers you its bran and germ components — and all their health-promoting phytonutrients and antioxidants..

    Some preliminary research indicates that specific components in rice bran oil lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.  Add to that to brown rice’s soluble fibers (which are also implicated in decreasing LDL cholesterol) and you have a heart-healthy one-two punch.

    These are the same fibers, by the way, that help achieve a longer feeling of fullness more quickly.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Canned Fruit

    venuscn$78172032With canned fruits and vegetables, are the values on the nutrition facts labels for the vegetables/fruits AND the syrup or juice? Or is it JUST the vegetable/fruit, sans juice/syrup.

    I imagine that the canning process causes a lot of vitamins to leach into the juice, so dumping the juice out would leave you a slightly less nutritious vegetable.

    — Christine (last name withheld)
    Berkeley, CA

    The nutrition facts label for canned fruits/vegetables displays values for solids AND liquids.

    If information is only intended for the fruit or vegetable, the label would have the word “(drained)” next to the serving size information (i.e.: “1/2 cup (drained)”).

    Since the canning process exposes fruits and vegetables to a significant amount of heat, you are getting lower amounts of some phytonutrients and heat-sensitive vitamins (especially C) compared to frozen or fresh varieties.

    The main issue is the loss of phytonutrients — those precious plant chemicals with healthful properties that we are still continuing to discover — since those compounds are exclusive to specific fruits and vegetables.  Many of the phytonutrients in pears, for example, are not found in other fruits.

    While some vitamins leach into the canning liquid, the nutrients there are found in abundance in many other foods, so there isn’t that much cause for concern.

    For instance, you may miss out on a good portion of the niacin in canned peaches if you drain out the syrup, but you can get that B vitamin in grains, beans, seeds, and vegetables.  Even the lowest-quality diet, if varied sufficiently, provides sufficient amounts.

    In the case of fruits canned in heavy syrup, I don’t think it’s worth drinking the extra sugar and calories to get a small amount of nutrients.

    If you want to drink the canning liquid, you are better off buying canned fruit packed in its own juice or extra light syrup.  Otherwise, dump it out.

    FYI — canned peaches packed in extra light syrup provide two fewer teaspoons of added sugar per serving than peaches packed in heavy syrup.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Flippin’ Healthy French Toast

    825101-FB~Sliced-Loaf-of-Bread-PostersI am often amazed at the many ways in which people desecrate French toast by turning it into a sugar-laden caloric bomb.

    I will never forget a restaurant in New York City’s Hell Kitchen neighborhood that served French toast coated in a thick layer of what appeared to be Golden Grahams cereal, only to then top that off with thick caramel syrup and powdered sugar.

    This recipe delivers a wide array of delicious flavors without the excess calories.  Make sure to serve with ripe fruits, as they are responsible for the sweetness of this dish.

    YIELDS: 4 slices (serves 2)

    INGREDIENTS:

    4 slices whole grain bread (frozen overnight)
    3/4 cup milk of choice (dairy, soy, almond, rice, hemp, etc.)
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 teaspoons coconut extract
    1 tablespoon cinnamon
    2 teaspoons butter/oil/vegan ‘butter’ (for griddle)
    2 tablespoons vanilla powder
    2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
    1 tablespoon cinnamon
    3/4 cup sliced strawberries
    1 medium banana
    1/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    (The night before, store slices of bread in freezer.  This will allow them to absorb more liquid without falling apart.)

    Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

    In a wide bowl, mix milk of choice (I use unsweetened soymilk),  vanilla extract, coconut extract, and cinnamon.

    Dip bread slices in mix and set aside on small plate.

    Heat butter/oil/vegan butter (I use Earth Balance “butter” sticks) in griddle or pan.

    Once griddle/pan is hot, place bread slices.  Heat for 2 or 3 minutes, flip, and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.

    Turn off heat and transfer bread slices to flat baking sheet (you may need to lightly coat with baking spray first).

    Pour any remaining mix on bread slices and top off with vanilla powder, shredded coconut, and cinnamon.

    Place baking sheet in oven.  After 7 minutes, flip bread slices over and heat for in oven for another 7 minutes.

    Serve and top with sliced strawberries, bananas, and walnuts.

    NUTRITION FACTS (for a 2-slice serving):

    460 calories
    4.4 grams saturated fat
    410 milligrams sodium
    10 grams fiber
    13 grams protein

    Excellent source of: Fiber, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin C

    Good source of: Copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: W-O-W!

    almondsThe recipe below appears in Ani Phyo’s cookbook Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen.

    I usually do not post recipes from cookbooks, but this one is so delicious, nutritious, and easy to make that I must share it with you.

    Ani, who credits another chef as the inspiration/creator, calls these “raw vegan donut holes”, but I refer to them as “one of the most amazing things you can create in 15 minutes using a food processor and your hands.”

    These “rounds” make for a terrific snack or dessert.

    YIELDS: 20 pieces

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 1/2 cup raw almonds
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped (I prefer Medjool dates, which lend a caramel flavor)
    1/2 cup unsweetened dried pineapple, chopped
    1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
    1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, for rolling

    Note: Although not listed in Ani’s recipe, there are plenty of variations you can make.  Here are some of my suggestions:

    • Add some cinnamon to the food processor almond mix
    • For extra crunch, add raw buckwheat groats to the general mix
    • Replace the dried pineapple with dried apple
    • Add quick-cooking rolled oats to the general mix

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    In a food processor, mix almonds, vanilla, and salt.

    Process until almonds have a finely chopped (as opposed to ground up) consistency.

    Transfer mixture to a large bowl (you will be mixing ingredients by hand in this bowl for approximately five minutes, so make sure it provides plenty of room)

    Add chopped dates, chopped pineapple, and 1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut to bowl.

    Mix all ingredients by hand until you get a dough-like texture (Hint: rinse your fingers under running water a few times to make this process easier)

    Rip off small chunks and make them into small ball/circular shapes by hand

    Roll in coconut.  Enjoy!

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (for 2 pieces):

    250 calories
    3.5 grams saturated fat
    240 milligrams sodium
    0 grams added sugar
    6 grams fiber
    6 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Fiber, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E

    Good source of: Niacin, protein, riboflavin

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    You Ask, I Answer: Enriched Whole Grain Bread?

    dsc00448I love this Costco whole grain loaf [I took a photo of the ingredient label for you to see] but have questions regarding some of the ingredients that go into it, namely the thiamine mononitrate, the riboflavin and the ferrous sulfate.

    I know that they can be described as dietary supplements but I am an avid whole grains baker myself and never add any of that to my breads.

    Two questions: Should I?   Do these nutrients double as dough conditioners and could it the reason Costco is using them?

    — “MC”
    Via e-mail

    Guess what?  Contrary to what Costco wants you to think, that loaf is not 100% whole grain.

    Notice the first ingredient?  Unbleached flour?  That’s refined white flour.

    Sure, whole wheat flour is the fourth ingredient, so this bread contains some whole grains, but it is not an entirely whole grain bread.  If you seek 100% whole grain products, look for whole grain flours as the first (and only) ingredient.

    In the United States, per the National Enrichment Act of 1942, all refined grain products MUST be enriched with niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and iron.

    Folate is a fortified nutrient and was not legally required to be added to refined grains until 1998.

    Remember, enrichment refers to putting nutrients lost during processing back into a food, while fortification entails tacking on nutrients not naturally found in a given food.

    When a bread is 100% whole grain (meaning ONLY whole grain flours are used), it is not enriched.

    These nutrients do not double as dough conditioners; they are there because it’s the law!

    By the way, this would only be considered false advertising if the loaf was sold under the guise of being “100% whole grain.”  It is TECHNICALLY a whole grain loaf since it DOES contain whole grains.

    Trust me, manufacturers know this.  They also know the words “whole grain” help boost sales.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Vegemite

    [What can you tell me about] the nutritional content of vegemite?

    Is it safe to eat some every day on top of toast, or should I be worried about preservatives/salt/etc?

    — Jade Miller
    (location withheld)

    Vegemite is a concentrated brewer’s yeast extract mixed with spices and malt extract that is quite popular in Australia and New Zealand.

    The Brits have their own version known as marmite, which replaces the sweeteners with salt and also adds vegetable extract.

    Among connoiseurs, the general consensus is that marmite has a strong flavor.

    Anyhow, vegemite offers a mere 9 calories per teaspoon (unless you are very fond of the substance, one teaspoon is all you need to spread on your toast) along with 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of carbohydrates.

    It is a very good source of niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and folate.

    There is no need to be concerned with sodium, since that one-teaspoon serving only adds 152 milligrams to your day.

    As far as I’m concerned, feel free to spread the vegemite love on your toast each morning!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Mushrooms

    From a nutrition standpoint, are all varieties of mushrooms pretty much the same?

    Sometimes I see portobello mushroom steak as a vegetarian option at restaurants.

    Is it higher in protein than other types?

    — Linda Ahern
    Santa Ana, CA

    All mushrooms are good low-calorie sources of potassium, phosphorus, and two B vitamins (riboflavin and niacin.)

    A cup of chopped mushrooms also offers approximately ten percent of the selenium daily value (although oyster mushrooms come up short in this mineral.)

    Portobello mushrooms are not higher in protein than other varieties.

    A five-ounce serving only delivers 5 grams of protein (that same amount of tofu offers 15 grams; five ounces of seitan contribute 30 grams; half a cup of black beans adds up to 10 grams.)

    Portobello mushroom “steak” as a vegetarian option on a restaurant menu strikes me as rather uninspired, particularly when it is the only meat-free choice.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have been at events where that is the sole vegetarian dish, and it is literally nothing but a huge, grilled portobello mushroom inside a hamburger bun. Snore!

    Many chefs love it, though, because it’s very easy to prepare.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Pasteurization

    Is it true that orange juice loses some of its micronutrient value through pasteurization?

    If so, do these nutrients get added back into the juice following pasteurization?

    And lastly, if pasteurization does effect the nutrient content, what does that mean for milk?

    Please help me clear up this confusion.

    — Anonymous
    Via the blog

    Since pasteurization involves heat, some of the Vitamin C in orange juice — roughly fifteen to twenty percent — is lost in that process.

    It’s actually not a big deal, since 8 ounces of pasteurized orange juice still deliver more than a day’s worth of Vitamin C.

    Unlike the Enrichment Act of 1942 (which mandates that nutrients originally found in grain products and lost in the milling process be added back in), there is no such law for fruit juices.  It is up to each manufacturer to determine if they want to enrich or fortify their juice products.

    As you know, though, I am a proponent of opting for a whole fruit over a juice. Not only do you get slightly higher vitamin and mineral values — you also get more fiber!

    As far as milk is concerned, nutrient losses as a result of pasteurization (simply heating it at 161.5 Degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds) are not very significant.

    Since the B vitamins present in milk (riboflavin and niacin) are heat sensitive, there are some small losses.

    Again, though, it’s not cause for concern.  These vitamins are found in a wide variety of foods; it would take a VERY limited diet to be deficient in them.

    I do not think of pasteurization as a process that is majorly depriving us of nutrients.

    Many raw milk enthusiasts will spout off statistics about pasteurized milk offering less absorbable calcium, although I have yet to see any of this information published in any respectable journals.

    The research I have done states that we absorb approximately one third of calcium in milk — raw or pasteurized.

    If high-quality, “junk-free” milk is on your mind, I would be more concerned with getting it from non-hormone-treated, grass-fed cows rather than worry about pasteurization.

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    Perfect Pickings: Nut Butters

    Wonderful as spreads on English muffins or dips for Granny Smith apples and celery, nut butters are delicious and pack a good deal of nutrition.

    All varieties — peanut, almond, cashew — provide 180 – 200 calories and 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoon serving.

    They are also good sources of vitamin E, niacin (Vitamin B3), manganese, and phosphorus.

    Reduced fat nut butters are simply marketing gimmicks. On average, they offer a mere ten less calories than their regular counterparts.

    How so? The small amount of fat that is taken away is replaced with extra carbohydrates (usually double that of regular nut butter).

    The key to finding the healthiest, least processed nut butters is to read the label.

    Brands like Jif and Skippy lis the following ingredients:

    “Roasted Peanuts, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Oils, Salt.”

    In essence, crushed peanuts with sugar and trans fat.

    No, thanks.

    You can do better than that by reaching for natural nut butters. Their labels tell the tale:

    “Peanuts, Salt.”

    Wow, imagine that!

    If you are buying no-salt-added varieties (which I prefer solely from taste perspective; nut butters with salt offer a very decent 140 milligrams per serving, far from a high-sodium food), the sole ingredient is peanuts.

    Natural nut butters need to be mixed when you first open them, as the oil separates from the solid nut paste.

    After mixing, store in the refrigerator to delay spoilage.

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    Soda 911

    After much buzz, Pepsi has finally launched Tava, its new “vitamin enhanced” calorie and caffeine-free sparkling beverage drink, largely aimed at the female 35 – 49 demographic.

    A lot of money and effort has been dedicated to Tava.

    It’s no surprise. Over the past two years, soda sales have been slipping.

    Consumers are instead reaching for just as sugary, but healthier sounding beverages like Vitamin Water or artifically sweetened drinks in fancy glass bottles containing trendy fruits like pomegranate and acai.

    Not surprisingly, soda companies are fighting back, no-holds-barred style.

    The New York Times recently profiled Tava’s alternative marketing strategybypassing traditional media and instead focusing on online advertising and music and art festivals in certain states (among them Colorado, New York, Washington, Florida, and Utah).

    Pepsi definitely spent a lot of time — and money — dressing up what is basically flavored sparkling water and aspartame with with lots of pretty accesories.

    First we have the vitamin factor, clearly thrown in to compete with Diet Coke Plus.

    Tava offers 10 percent of the daily requirement of Vitamins E, B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), and a trace mineral known as chromium.

    What’s the chromium fortification all about? Personally, I think it’s just part of the “exotification” of Tava.

    Don’t get me wrong; chromium is an important mineral. It teams up with insulin to help cells take up glucose and thereby maintain blood sugar levels.

    Some recent research also suggests possible links between chromium and heart health.

    The good news is that chromium is easily available from whole grains, vegetables, raisins, legumes, nuts, chicken, seafood, and dairy.

    Since it is found in many foods and a trace mineral, chromium deficiency is extremely rare.

    It is mainly seen in hospital patients on tube feedings, pregnant women, and people whose diets are very high in processed foods.

    People eating a variety of foods do not need further supplementation.

    Then there’s the three flavors.

    We’re treated to “exotic” names like Mediterranean Fiesta (black cherry citrus), Brazilian Samba (passion fruit lime), and Tahitian Tamure (tropical berry).

    In an attempt to class up the joint, Tava’s website offers “suggested food pairings” for all its drinks.

    For instance, if you’re sipping on Mediterranean Fiesta, you’re suggested to do so while nibbling on dark chocolate truffles or BBQ spare ribs.

    But wait, there’s more! Tava comes with a grassroots focus as well.

    The website features emerging artists and musicians, and displays “inspirational” messages reminiscent of those often seen on Senior yearbook pages like, “sometimes it’s okay to think inside the box, ” “set your mind to shuffle,” and “what if what if didn’t exist?”

    Oh, and if you’re wondering what Tava means, the Frequently Asked Questions page proclaims that the name was created to “evoke feelings of possibility and discovery.”

    Do you think Tava will be a hit in Pepsi’s roster or a beverage bomb like their Crystal and Blue varieties?

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    Everything that Sparkles Is Not Gold

    Diet Coke Plus — the current “it” drink among the young Hollywood crowd, if you believe the Coca-Cola PR wizzes — will soon appear in a supermarket or convenience store near you.

    And don’t you dare call it a soda! According to the marketing gurus, Diet Coke is a “sparkling beverage”.

    Jumping on the Vitamin Water bandwagon about five years too late, Coca-Cola will now offer their classic diet soda with 15% of the recommended amounts of niacin, B6, and B12, and 10% of the magnesium and zinc daily values per each eight ounce can.

    Despite a massive push by vitamin companies, most of us do not need extra dosages of vitamins and minerals if we eat in a balanced and healthy fashion.

    I would only really advocate extra dosages to people with absorption deficiencies or, in the case of Vitamin D, to people whose exposure to sunlight is limited (we can’t rely on food alone to get our Vitamin D needs).

    It is very rare for healthy adults to be deficient in the vitamins and minerals present in Diet Coke Plus.

    Niacin, by law, must be added to all bread products, a staple in most everyone’s diet. B6 and B12 are mainly found in protein-rich foods, and given the protein overload in the United States diet, there is little reason to worry about these two vitamins.

    Zinc is found in many animal products and is also added to nearly all ready-to-eat cereals, which millions of people have for breakfast.

    Keep in mind, too, that you can get the same amount of zinc in Diet Coke Plus in just one ounce of pecans, or a cup of yogurt.

    Ironically, Diet Coke still contains phosphoric acid, which, as I explained in issue two of Small Bites, decreases our blood calcium levels. Now THAT’S a mineral many people, especially women, are not getting enough of.

    If you enjoy Diet Coke, feel free to continue to have it once in a while. However, do not for a second think this new product is a health food.

    If you’re a Pepsi fan, you too can have unnecessary extra vitamins and minerals when their very own Tava drink is released later this year.

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