The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen: 2012 Rankings

It’s that time of year again…  For the eighth year in a row, the nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group has released its annual Dirty Dozen list of the 12 most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables on the market as part of their 2012 Shoppers Guide (along with the coinciding list of the cleanest 15).  To compose this year’s list, EWG researchers looked at 45 popular fruits and vegetables based on pesticide-load reports conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.  The database includes 60,700 samples taken over a 10 year period, beginning in 2000.  The group found that 68 percent of the food samples tested had detectable pesticide residues, even after they had been washed and/or peeled.

Like last year, apples top the dirty list, while Continue reading

Improving Skin Through Food: The Dietary Essentials

We all know that living a smoke-free, sunscreen-filled life is the key to gorgeous, glowing skin, but there are also plenty of foods you can eat (and avoid) to naturally enhance your complexion.  With a few simple dietary tweaks, you can improve dull, dry skin, decrease oil and acne production, and reduce the signs of aging and thinning skin.  The saying “you are what you eat” couldn’t be truer when it comes to appearance…  Check out the list below for easy ways to give your skin that little extra summer boost with nothing more than a trip to the grocery store. Continue reading

The Top 10 Basics Of Gluten-Free Baking

Whether you have celiac disease, a gluten intolerance or are just curious to experiment with gluten-free baking, here are some of the basic rules and guidelines I follow to create delicious, moist, and tender baked goods.  And if you’ve ever tried a dried out, rock hard gluten-free baked good, you can appreciate what I’m talking about.  Use this as your cheat sheet and I guarantee you will not be disappointed with the results. Continue reading

Food Labeling Misconception #4: Healthy Claims

Although food labels are meant to accurately tell us what’s in the package we’re buying, marketers have devised a clever little system to make foods sound more healthful than they really are.  More specifically, a food item can claim any number of vague health statements that may or may not be scientifically valid.  There’s been a recent trend in products suggesting that they can boost immunity or defend against illness – but there’s typically little or no evidence backing up such claims.  This rather large white lie is permitted because of the lack of regulation regarding labeling rules. Continue reading

Friday Roundup: Week of 3.31.12 – 4.6.12

Welcome to the Friday Roundup – a little something new I’d like to present every Friday highlighting the links that were hot, and not so hot, in the world of food, health, and nutrition news.

This week we saw even more reasons to increase red wine consumption, avoid added sugars, question poultry, and perhaps steer clear of the next centurion bike race.  And that’s just the beginning.  Here’s to a fascinating and thought-provoking week in the media that (thankfully) doesn’t involve a Kardashian.

Can Bicycling Affect A Woman’s Sexual Health – We’ve all heard about what cycling can do to men, but check out this new study on the affects for women.  Sorry all you spinners out there.  (NY Times) Continue reading

The Fruits and Vegetables of Spring 2012

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.  ~Charles Dickens

Spring has officially arrived, and with warmer weather and longer days comes a bright new crop of fresh fruits and vegetables.  So why not ‘spring clean’ your diet, lose the heavy fare of fall and winter, and load up with the deliciously light bounty of spring.  Shopping the best of what’s in-season will not only provide the most nutritional value, it will also provide the best flavor and value.  Here’s what to look for on the produce aisle or at the local farmers’ market.  Continue reading

Food Labeling Misconception #3: High in Fiber

Not all fiber is created equal.  And unfortunately the popular terms High in Fiber or A Good Source of Fiber don’t have much meaning as, with many other misleading front-of-package claims, there is no regulation of the term.  To boost the fiber content of many packaged foods, manufacturers will add fiber-substances with names such as inulin (chicory extract), maltodextrin and polydextrose.  While these do count toward a food’s total fiber, they  aren’t nearly as healthy and haven’t been proven to offer the same benefits as naturally occurring fiber.  Not to mention, inulin can cause gastrointestinal discomfort; and who wants that?  To tell whether a product contains the above-mentioned substandard forms of fiber, Continue reading

Ch, Ch, Ch, Chia…..

Anyone who was alive in the 80’s has had the catchphrase “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia” ring through his or her head at least once.  And though nostalgic to many, chia seeds are actually a nutrition powerhouse.  Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico.  The Aztecs prized these miniature seeds more than gold and not only were they a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets for survival, they were also used medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.  Today, you can Continue reading

Food Labeling Misconception #2: Multigrain

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in the food labeling misconceptions #1 post, many people believe that if something has a healthy buzzword on the label, it is automatically considered a healthy food.  This is not always the case.

A growing number of products from bread to potato chips to cereal to crackers proudly proclaim themselves to be “multigrain.” While this may appear to be a synonym for Continue reading

Healing Mood by Healing Digestion

The body is made up of a variety of systems that are inter-connected, so it’s no surprise that when one system is off balance it can trigger a domino effect, potentially creating a surge of severe health complications.  A perfect example of this is the relationship between digestion and the mind.  The digestive system houses immunity, fights off harmful invaders, maintains overall health and is home to the largest concentration of mood-altering neurotransmitters.  None of which would be possible without good bacteria in the gut.

One strain of good bacteria is probiotics.  Probiotics provide live strains of Continue reading