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    You Might As Well Call Them “Crop Subsidy Tarts”

    Pumpkin-Pie-Pop-TartsAutumn means two things — a dearth of “best & worst beach bodies” tabloid covers and the arrival of pumpkin-flavored items in stores.  Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts are not exempt from the latter, hence the latest addition to their product lineup — limited edition Frosted Pumpkin Pie pastries.

    Alas, the ingredient list reveals very little in the way of fall flavors and lots of the usual processed suspects.  Take a look at the entire ingredient list before we break it down:

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    You Ask, I Answer: Calcium Absorption, Kidney Stone Risk, and Gelatin-Free Vitamin D Supplements

    0904-calcium-supplements1. Is there research that indicates that calcium carbonate’s absorption is superior to that of calcium citrate?

    2. My doctor recently suggested that I supplement my diet with calcium and vitamin D. Is there a heightened risk of developing kidney stones associated with calcium supplementation?

    3. Most of the vitamin D supplements I’ve found contain gelatin as an ingredient. Do you know of any alternative products?

    — Josh Griffin
    (Location Unknown)

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    You Ask, I Answer: Protein Bar Guidelines

    zero impact barWhat things should I look for in a protein bar?  I use them when I’m on the go at times when I know I will need something, but don’t want to do fast food.

    — Tammy Edwards
    (Via Facebook)

    Wonderful questions.  When it comes to protein bars, I am “on the fence”.  Allow me to explain.

    On the one hand, I don’t think they are terrible and should be shunned.  Sure, there are some horrific protein bars out there (and, in a little bit, I will give you specific parameters to help you choose the better ones), but a smart choice can make for a great snack or meal replacement in a pinch.

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    Numbers Game: What Twenty Extra Pounds Really Mean

    use-scale-weigh-yourself-200X200A gain of twenty pounds (of fat, not muscle) over one’s ideal body weight results, on average, in a _____ percent increase of triglycerides and an average decrease of HDL cholesterol of _____ percent.

    a) 5/13
    b) 15/15
    c) 30/8
    d) 12/23

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

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    You Ask, I Answer: Calcium Carbonate in Vegan Beverages

    Tums UltraI’ve noticed that most soy/almond milk has calcium carbonate, which someone once told me was like drinking concrete?

    Is that true?  What is calcium carbonate, exactly?

    — Kerra Olsen
    (Via Facebook)

    Calcium carbonate– an ionic salt —  is a very abundant compound; it’s found almost everywhere in nature, from snail shells to our planet’s crust.  It’s also the main component in Tums!

    Yes, concrete (and chalk) are made from calcium carbonate, but that is not to say you are “eating concrete”.  After all, you can make paper mache paste from flour and water.  That does not mean, however, that a whole grain baguette is just a baked version of of it.

    Most calcium supplements (and calcium-fortified foods, such as non-dairy “milks”) are made from calcium carbonate because it is the least expensive source.  Research also shows that its absorption is the highest.

    Since calcium carbonate is best absorbed with meals, it only makes sense to use it to fortify foods.

    No reason to panic or fear.  Calcium carbonate is a perfectly safe way to get your calcium, provided you don’t have certain conditions (kidney stones being the biggest worry).

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    cornAmericans consumed a total of 403 million pounds of corn oil in 1970.  By 2002, that figure reached 950 million pounds.

    FYI: Corn oil has an omega 6:omega 3 ratio of 46:1.  Yikes!

    Chances are, this figure continued to climb over the past eight years, especially as plant oils took over for trans fats in shelf-stable snacks.

    As much as the “limit saturated fats” message is constantly drilled into us, statistics show that over the past thirty years, saturated fat intake has remained steady, while omega-6 intake has skyrocketed.

    Might as well change this country’s name to The United States of Corn.  Our cars guzzle it, our cattle chow it down, and the average American’s diet is so heavily processed, corn is its own food group!

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    Guest Post: A Look Back at the 2006 ‘Benzene in Soda’ Scare You May Have Missed

    Benzene_circleIn March of 2006, the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency ordered a recall of four brands of beverages after laboratory tests found excessive levels of benzene, a carcinogen. Attention-grabbing headlines, like that run by the Times of London on the front page of its home news section, announced the recall: “Soft drinks pulled from shelves over cancer fear. ” (1) A textbook example of an alert government regulator, policing the safety of its food system? Well, not exactly.

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    Guest Post: Are You Eating Dry Cleaning Fluid? Chances Are: Yes!

    Head ShotAs a graduate student of Public Health concentrating in Environmental Health, I find it extremely important to be aware of things in our environment that can potentially cause bodily harm and disease, in addition to finding ways to protect human health.

    I am also on the path to obtaining my Registered Dietitian credential, and have consequently discovered that our bodies can receive an arsenal of health promoting weaponry from the food we eat and the compounds found within them.  The combination of these two highly related disciplines has yielded two important conclusions:

    1. The health of our food supply is highly related to the health of our environment
    2. The food supply has become one of the biggest areas of concern regarding exposure to environmental pollutants.

    This has added many layers to a question I frequently ask myself: “what can I do to protect my health?”

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    Guest Post: Intense Workouts Need Fuel

    photoAndy’s “You Ask, I Answer” posts are some of my favorite Small Bites reads, so I’m thrilled the nutrition guru has turned the tables with questions of his own.  Because there is no substitute for Bellatti, I’ll file my first guest blog post as “Andy Asks, I Do My Best to Answer.”

    What’s the best thing to eat before a workout?

    That depends on another question- what are you doing? I recently spoke to Roberta Anding, sports dietitian for the NFL’s Houston Texans, and she says duration and intensity determine fuel needs. If you’re walking on the treadmill at 3 mph for 20 minutes, pre-workout fuel isn’t necessary.

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    Guest Post: The Top Ten Ways Anyone Can Be A Cook

    robyn_with_chef_garCooks can be made, they’re not necessarily born.  Sure, the innate ability to know your saute from your braise is completely natural for some people, but your chances of becoming a cook or being a better one is much greater than becoming a world class athlete or concert pianist ( believe me, I’ve tried such similar lofty attempts).

    In my over 25 years of teaching, I’ve seen those in need of cooking skills go from clueless to accomplished. They all do start out with one element: the desire to learn. And beyond that, I’ve culled a list of the advice I give to my cooking newbies.  Beyond these very practical tips my overall mantra is: if you fail, try, try again.  Even the most seasoned cooks make tons of mistakes; and I’ve got the garbage pails of experiments gone awry to prove it.

    But here now are my top tips to get you as polished as a brand new copper pot in the kitchen!

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    Guest Post: Why Is McDonald’s Listed As a Resource For Childhood Obesity Awareness Month?

    RonaldI am not a fan of any sort of “awareness” month as I find the concept trivializes important health issues. Are we only supposed to care about heart disease, diabetes, etc, during that one month of the year? And I rarely see anything of substance come from the month-long activities, just the usual ineffective educational campaigns, instead of meaningful public policy reforms. Plus many issues tend to crowd themselves into certain months, so it all becomes background noise. September is one such month. Among other causes (e.g., “cholesterol education“), September has been proclaimed “Childhood Obesity Awareness Month” by Congress and President Obama.

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    Guest Post: Eat Less vs. Move More

    Slide1In her August 21 New York Times Slipstream column Natasha Singer opens by asking:

    “WHY are Americans getting fatter and fatter?  The simple explanation is that we eat too much junk food and spend too much time in front of screens — be they television, phone or computer — to burn off all those empty calories.”

    I agree that, as a population, we are eating too much, but is exercise really the solution to America’s growing obesity epidemic?

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    Guest Post: Give Your Goal Setting a Makeover by Asking the Right Questions!

    reduced author photoAs a coach, many folks come to me for support in reaching their goals.  Sometimes they are related to career. Other times, goals reference money, relationships, health and wellness, or are tied to multiple life spheres. I typically find that irrespective of the focus of the goal, goal setters usually come to me frustrated. What they have been doing hasn’t been working, and despite how important the goal is, they are ready to bang their heads against the proverbial wall.

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    Guest Blogger Week on Small Bites!

    back-soonThis week marks the beginning of my Dietetic Internship, and I figured it would be wise from a mental health standpoint to take a break from blogging while I adjust and get that ball rolling (FYI: tweets and Facebook updates are not affected by this break).

    Alas, I  have reached out to seven individuals to keep you company during my absence.  Their areas of interest and expertise run a broad gamut — from food politics to environmental toxins in the food supply to home cooking, and everywhere in between.

    I specifically reached out to these guest bloggers because they are already well-established and highly esteemed in their respective fields or are well-informed, analytical thinkers just beginning their careers, with extremely promising futures.

    Enjoy!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Why Isn’t All Fiber Equal?

    048121276201You recently tweeted that fiber should come from foods “that inherently contain it”, rather than foods that have it added on.

    Why is that?  For example, today at the store I saw some Thomas’ 100% whole wheat English muffins that had 3 grams of fiber a piece.  But, the multigrain ones (also made by Thomas) that had white flour as the first ingredient had 8 grams of fiber each!  Aren’t the multigrain ones the better choice?

    — Tiffany Setcher
    Hoboken, NJ


    When you eat a food that intrinsically offers fiber (i.e: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, etc.), you also get a variety of other healthful compounds — phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

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