5 ways to add more nutrients to your lifestyle
(Family Features) A nutritious diet is crucial for overall health and well-being. While it’s OK to indulge from time to time, it’s important to make sure you’re providing your body with appropriate nourishment.
There are many ways to help you add more of the essential nutrients you need into everyday meals, including these nutritious ideas from CocoaVia.
Sneak in More Fruits and Vegetables.
You can bulk up the nutritional value of nearly any meal by incorporating fruits or vegetables directly into your recipes. Pureeing veggies is a good way to disguise textures or flavors you might typically avoid. For example, celery is a natural flavor enhancer for many types of broth soup. Adding finely pureed celery to the stock will add the flavor without the crunchy bits. You can also slip vegetables like spinach or carrots into smoothies, and depending on the base and fruit, you may never even taste them. Fresh, canned or frozen, fruit can give a boost of nutrition to dishes like oatmeal or pudding. You can also use purees (think applesauce) as a low-fat substitute for eggs and oil in baked goods like cake.
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide a wealth of essential vitamins and nutrients, but you may be surprised that their frozen counterparts do the same. Frozen foods are often perceived as less nutritious, but they can contain just as many nutrients as fresh produce. In fact, since freezing often involves picking the food at its peak and then quickly freezing it, freezing can actually help retain vitamins more efficiently than refrigeration or canning; frozen vegetables can actually hold on to nutrients longer than fresh produce and are a great alternative when seasonal fruits and vegetables are unavailable. In many cases, frozen veggies also make it easy to experiment with better-for-you meals because the cleaning and prep work is already done. You can try adding them to soups, stir-fries, casseroles and even pasta dishes.
If you’ve historically shied away from cooked vegetables, you may find that proper preparation is the secret ingredient. Not only does overcooking veggies deplete their flavor, in most cases it also diminishes their nutritional value. Cook veggies lightly and quickly using methods like stir-frying or steaming to help retain water-soluble nutrients like vitamins B and C.
You may think of dishes covered in rich gravy or sauce as unhealthy, and in some cases, you would be right. However, it’s actually quite possible to create saucy dishes that taste terrific. Both tomato sauce and pesto add nutrients and can top pretty much anything, from pastas to grilled chicken. Tomato sauce contains lycopene, a bright plant pigment known as a carotenoid that has been linked to a range of health benefits. Pesto is traditionally made with healthy pine nuts and basil, but you can also get creative and prepare this light sauce alternative with options such as arugula, spinach and heart-healthy walnuts or pecans.
Consider Cocoa Flavanols.
Another option to consider adding to your diet is cocoa flavanols. These plant-based phytonutrients are found naturally in cocoa, and research supports that these flavanols work within your body to help maintain healthy blood flow. While chocolate, including dark chocolate and natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder, can be sources of cocoa flavanols, they are often not a reliable source of cocoa flavanols. The way cocoa is handled matters in the retention of these phytonutrients. However, one easy way to add cocoa flavanols to your routine is by incorporating a daily cocoa extract supplement, such as CocoaVia, which contains the highest concentration available in a cocoa extract supplement today. The supplement can be added to the food or beverage of your choice, like a Chocolate-Chai Smoothie or coffee. Visit CocoaVia.com for more information about cocoa flavanols and ideas for adding them to your diet.
The Truth About Chocolate
While there are many misconceptions about chocolate, especially when it comes to its health benefits, these facts from the experts at CocoaVia set the record straight on some of the most common chocolate myths.
- Chocolate contains powerful antioxidants.
Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, does contain cocoa flavanols, phytonutrients which numerous scientific studies have demonstrated have a positive impact on health. However, cocoa flavanols are not antioxidants. While not antioxidants, cocoa flavanols have been shown to have positive effects on health that are linked to their ability to support the health and function of your blood vessels.
- Chocolate is good for your heart.
Chocolate can be part of a healthy diet, but it is not a health food. Even if chocolate is high in cocoa flavanols, the calories, fat and sugar leave it best-suited as an occasional indulgence.
- Chocolate containing 70 percent cacao or greater is good for you.
The percentage of cacao is not a reliable indicator of a product's cocoa flavanol content. Unfortunately, there is also no way of knowing exactly how many cocoa flavanols are in a conventional chocolate product because traditional cocoa processing, which includes fermenting, drying and roasting of beans, destroys many of the flavanols naturally present in the cocoa bean.
- Chocolate is high in caffeine.
Chocolate does contain caffeine, but an average 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate contains less than half the amount of caffeine found in an average cup of black tea. The amount of caffeine in chocolate is in proportion to the percentage of cacao in the product, meaning milk chocolate contains less caffeine than semi-sweet or dark chocolate.
Makes: 1 smoothie
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 chai-flavored tea bag
- 1/2 cup fat-free milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ice cubes
- 1 packet CocoaVia Unsweetened Dark Chocolate (or Sweetened Dark Chocolate) supplement
- In measuring cup with pour spout, pour boiling water over tea bag. Let steep 5 minutes; remove tea bag.
- Pour milk and tea into blender; add honey, a handful of ice and cocoa extract supplement. Cover and blend until smooth.
Nutritional information per serving: 130 calories; 1 g total fat; 50 mg sodium; 27 g carbohydrates; 1 g dietary fiber; 24 g sugar; 5 g protein; 375 mg cocoa flavanols.
Content courtesy of CocoaVia
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (man and woman in kitchen)
Source: Cocoa Via
Hit a home run with essential nutrients for active kids
(Family Features) With summer in full force, kids are busy with physical activities and whether it’s little league baseball games, swim team or summer camp, they’re more active than ever. Moms, nutritionists and pediatricians alike know active kids and developing bones and muscles need essential nutrients to grow strong, but The Dietary Guidelines for Americans say most Americans, including children, actually aren’t getting enough fiber, calcium, vitamin D and potassium in their diets.
Moms can keep up by making sure kids fuel their bodies with proper nutrition and stay hydrated at the same time. As a drink kids already love the taste of, milk is a great choice when moms want to serve delicious and natural, high-quality protein for kids before sending them off on summer adventures. Many are also surprised to learn that milk can help hydrate after exercise due to its natural electrolytes and fluids.
Milk plays an important role for kids’ meals and snacks, providing three of the four nutrients most Americans, including kids, aren’t getting enough of (calcium, vitamin D and potassium), and it’s the top food source of these nutrients, to boot.¹ Plus, with 8 grams of protein per every 8-ounce glass, the farm-fresh beverage is a great way to help the whole family kick start the day.
One way to hit a home run for your kids is by stepping up to the breakfast plate with delicious baseball pancakes. Served with an 8-ounce glass of milk, this breakfast is the perfect combo to help kids fuel up with protein in the morning.
Find more nutritious recipes to pair with milk at milklife.com.
Home Run Pancakes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup fat free milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- nonstick cooking spray
- 8 strips low-sodium turkey bacon (optional)
- 2-3 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry syrup (optional)
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Mix egg, milk and vanilla separately. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk gently until just combined.
- Heat griddle or skillet to medium heat and grease lightly with cooking spray.
- Using 1/3-cup measuring cup for each pancake, pour batter onto pan. Cook until bubbles form and edges start to look dry then flip and cook another 30-45 seconds.
- Cook bacon on griddle 3-4 minutes on each side, if desired, until desired crispiness is achieved.
- Place cooked bacon next to pancakes for “baseball bats.” If desired, drizzle syrup onto pancakes to make baseball stitching.
- Pair each serving with 8-ounce glass of milk.
Nutritional information per serving: 240 calories; 1.5 g fat; 55 mg cholesterol; 15 g protein; 40 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 420 mg sodium; 454 mg calcium (45% of daily value). Nutrition figures based on using fat free milk, and include an 8-ounce glass of milk.
¹Fulgoni VL, Keast DR, Quann EE, Auestad N. Food sources of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and potassium in the U.S. The FASEB Journal. 2010;24:325.1.
Quality nutrition for the perfect start to longer spring days
(Family Features) With warm weather on the horizon, it’s time to turn the clocks forward and say “so long” to winter and “hello” to longer spring days. With an extra hour of daylight ahead, spring is the perfect season to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and get the family on track with healthy habits and quality nutrition – starting at breakfast.
As you plan morning meals for your family this spring, remember that milk provides important nourishment – like high-quality protein – for you and your kids. As one of the original farm-to-table food, this wholesome drink typically arrives on grocery store shelves in just two days from many family-owned and -operated dairy farms. Milk is minimally processed for safety and farm fresh, often originating from dairy farms fewer than 300 miles away from your grocery store.
Start off warm springtime mornings with a sweet, butterfly-inspired twist on a breakfast sandwich made with Mandarin orange slices, sure to get your kids excited about wholesome choices at breakfast. Pair with an 8-ounce glass of milk to give your kids more of what they already love, with protein they need to give them a good start on the day.
For more information and kid-friendly recipes with milk, visit milklife.com.
Recipe by Tiffany Edwards of Creme de la Crumb
- 1 white English muffin
- 2 tablespoons whipped cream cheese
- 6 blueberries
- 4 mandarin orange slices
- 1 green grape, cut into strips
- Slice and toast English muffin. Spread cream cheese on both halves of muffin.
- Arrange three blueberries in a line down the middle of each half of the muffin and place a mandarin orange slice on each side of the blueberry lines to serve as wings of the butterfly. Place grape strips above blueberry line as antennas.
- Serve with an 8-ounce glass of milk.
Nutritional information per serving: 310 calories; 8 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 30 mg cholesterol; 14 g protein; 46 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 440 mg sodium; 364 mg calcium (35% of daily value). Nutrition figures based on using fat free milk, and include an 8-ounce glass of milk.
(Family Features) Whether you’re a competitive sprinter chasing a new record or an everyday gym hound looking to get the most from your workout, seafood is among the best foods to support an athletic lifestyle. It not only delivers great-tasting nutrition, but also provides one-of-a-kind health benefits.
The combination of lean protein, anti-inflammatory omega-3s and muscle-building nutrients found in Alaska seafood are why it’s a staple for athletes like Ryan and Sara Hall.
“We like to incorporate Alaska seafood in our daily diet because it’s a really high-quality protein that helps to repair our muscles on a daily basis,” said Ryan Hall, a two-time Olympian and holder of the U.S. half-marathon record.
After a run, Sara Hall – a 3,000-meter steeplechase and marathon runner, U.S. national champion and World Team member – relies on seafood as a go-to for low-fat meals with protein and simple-to-digest carbs.
Sample these dishes straight from the Hall kitchen, and find more recipes and nutritional values for your favorite seafood at wildalaskaseafood.com.
Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon with Sweet Potatoes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Cedar planks with enough surface area for salmon
- 4 Alaska salmon fillets (4-6 ounces each), fresh, thawed or frozen
- olive oil spray
- 1 tablespoon fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) dill, thyme or rosemary
- salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- 4 large sweet potatoes, sliced lengthwise into wedges
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
- Soak cedar planks for 1-2 hours (or overnight) submerged in water. Remove and pat dry.
- Heat grill to medium heat (400° F). If frozen, rinse ice from salmon under cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Spray cedar planks and salmon with olive oil spray. Place salmon on planks; sprinkle with herb, salt and pepper. Place sweet potatoes in bowl; spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cumin and salt and pepper, to taste. Toss to coat.
- Place cedar planks and potato wedges on grill. Cover and cook about 3-4 minutes; turn wedges over and continue cooking until potatoes are soft and cooked. Keep warm. Cook salmon 12-15 minutes, until fish is opaque throughout.
Nutritional information per serving: 350 calories; 11 g total fat; 2 g saturated fat; 27% calories from fat; 91 mg cholesterol; 33 g protein; 33 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 277 mg sodium; 36 mg calcium; 1,700 mg omega-3 fatty acids.
Pan-Seared Cod over Minted Pea Puree
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 pounds frozen or fresh peas, blanched
- 1 package (0.6-0.7 ounces) fresh mint, leaves only
- salt, to taste
- 4 Alaska cod fillets (4-6 ounces each), fresh, frozen or thawed
- olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
- Add water, peas and mint to blender or food processor; season with salt. Puree until almost smooth. Cover and keep warm.
- If frozen, rinse ice glaze from cod under cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Heat heavy, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of fillets with olive oil.
- In heated skillet, cook cod, uncovered, about 3-4 minutes, until browned. Shake pan occasionally to keep fish from sticking. Turn cod over and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning. Cover pan tightly and reduce heat to medium. Cook an additional 6-9 minutes for frozen cod or 3-4 minutes for fresh/thawed fish. Cook until fish is opaque throughout.
- To serve, spoon pea puree onto 4 plates. Top each with cod fillet and serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 319 calories; 5 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 13% calories from fat; 65 mg cholesterol; 37 g protein; 34 g carbohydrate; 12 g fiber; 393 mg sodium; 101 mg calcium; 28 IU vitamin D; 200 mg omega-3 fatty acids.
Miso Halibut with Soba Noodle Stir-Fry
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1 package (12 ounces) prepared soba noodles (or noodle of choice)
- 4 Alaska halibut fillets (4-6 ounces each), fresh, thawed or frozen
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
- 2 cups roughly chopped bok choy
- 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 1/4 cup miso
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
- Prepare noodles according to package directions; set aside.
- If frozen, rinse ice glaze from halibut under cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Heat large, nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of halibut with half of the sesame oil.
- In heated skillet, cook fish, uncovered, about 3-4 minutes, until browned.
- Shake pan occasionally to keep fish from sticking. Turn halibut over; reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook 5-7 minutes for frozen halibut or 2-3 minutes for fresh/thawed fish, cooking until fish is opaque throughout. Transfer fillets to plate; cover to keep warm.
- Wipe out skillet/wok with paper towel. Add remaining sesame oil. Heat to medium-high then add and stir-fry bok choy, snap peas, mushrooms and green onions. Stir in noodles; turn off heat. Cover and keep warm.
- In saucepan, blend miso, water and teriyaki sauce. Bring mixture to boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook 1 minute. Stir sauce into warm noodle-vegetable mixture. To serve, divide and portion mixture into 4 bowls or plates. Top each with halibut fillet.
Nutrition information per serving: 571 calories; 15 g total fat; 2 g saturated fat; 22% calories from fat; 56 mg cholesterol; 38 g protein; 71 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 1,643 mg sodium; 77 mg calcium; 219 IU vitamin D; 350 mg omega-3 fatty acids.