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Budget constraints prevent many people from eating right.
"I can't afford to buy healthy food."
"Fruits and vegetables are too expensive."
"Grocery store prices are astronomical."
"It's cheaper to eat fast food."
We hear these "excuses" every day--and they're good ones. But we don't give up that easily and believe any excuse can be overcome. Today we're setting out to prove that healthy eating is possible on any budget.
We compared the cost of unhealthy foods from the drive-thru, freezer section and snack foods aisle to the cost of healthy foods. By making even one of these swaps, you can make room in your grocery budget for a few new healthy foods.
The photos below aim to show the diversity in healthy foods available. Prices may vary in your area (some items were on sale when we shopped), but we think you'll be shocked at how far you can stretch a buck at the supermarket when you buy healthy foods! Read More ›
Takeout is tasty and convenient, but comes with high fat, sodium, and calories. Afterward, you may experience bloating or a tummy ache and have little idea what ingredients were used in the dish you purchased. Instead of surrendering control to your local drive-in, diner, or dive, use these SparkRecipes to cook your favorite take out dishes in the comfort of your own kitchen. By doing the cooking yourself, you can use savory spices, health-smart ingredients, and improved cooking methods like baking and steaming that bring out the natural flavors in food. With the money you save, don’t forget to give yourself a little tip: you deserve a reward for a job well done!
Chicken Satay with Vegetables (Chef Meg's Makeover)
Crispy Baked Egg Rolls
Chef Meg's Spring Rolls
Pot Stickers (steamed wontons)
Baked Crab Rangoon
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McDonald’s has begun posting calorie information on restaurant menu boards and highlighting items under 400-calories to help people make healthier choices when eating away from home. Other restaurants are choosing to wait for the FDA to set final guidelines before posting calorie information as mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
With such a large number of high calorie choices available in restaurants, will any of this really make a difference? If you believe the information produced by a leading market research company that tracks consumer foodservice choices, calorie information availability on menu boards will likely not influence order selection on a long-term basis.
There is now a new way for diners to enjoy food in a correct portion size and limit calories while also helping others. But would you be willing to receive a smaller portion while paying the same price?
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I’m sure you think I cook dinner every night but, the truth is, I eat out with my boys a decent amount. Sometimes it’s because we head straight from school to soccer to chess and there’s no time to run home. Other times, when I’ve been testing recipes and cooking all day, I just want someone else to serve the food. Plus, I love games and we always play something while we wait for the meal: Scrabble, Blink, Spot It, Uno, hangman, tic-tac-toe or word search. This week, I’m traveling with my buddies and we made up a game – we created tee pees with our silverware while waiting for breakfast!
Food-wise, my kids love everything but eating out with picky eaters can be daunting. My boys didn’t start out with open minds and palates, but I used a few tricks to get them started and here they are: Read More ›
Have you ever noticed that many top chefs also struggle with their weight? If you read the news or follow food blogs, it would be hard to miss the controversy over the popular TV chef Paula Dean and her battle with diabetes. These stories have kicked off interesting water cooler debates about the tug of war between fine cuisine and our health. The issue has also taken a tragic turn with the deaths of Dom Deloise and Jennifer Patterson of “Two Fat Ladies,” among others. At the same time, there is a new generation of chefs tackling this issue with fresh vigor, including some that are already super famous, like Jamie Oliver, and some that are still up-and-coming, but making an impact in their location communities. Read More ›
Mexican dishes often combine both healthy and not-so-healthy ingredients. Although they include a lot of fresh produce (lettuce, tomatoes, and corn) and complex carbohydrates like beans and rice, the meals are also sometimes cooked in lard and topped with lots of melty cheese. Taco salads, for example, are usually chock-full of veggies, but they can also be piled high with cheese, meat, and deep-fried chips. And chicken fajitas are made up of mostly healthy lean protein and veggies, but are often stir-fried and wrapped in an empty calorie tortilla. For a healthier Cinco de Mayo feast, should you dig into a taco salad or a plate of chicken fajitas?
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Here are some interesting statistics regarding restaurants –
- Sixty-two percent of consumers have been cutting back on visits to casual-dining restaurants.
- Forty seven percent of consumers want healthy restaurant options while just twenty-three percent select healthy food when dining away from home.
- Fifty-two percent of consumers suggest that different and unique flavors influence their restaurant visits.
Technomic is a consulting and research firm that focuses on the food industry by providing proprietary studies and research based guidance. Their research has found many interesting consumer trends. Here are some of the top restaurant trends they want us to watch in 2012.
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We have seen many restaurants update their menus this year to provide patrons with healthier options. The new Kids Live Well campaign provides families with healthier choices when eating away from home to help kids maintain a healthy weight. While some reports suggest the new healthy options aren't popular, many restaurant chains aren't giving up and are striving to be on board with the First Lady's anti-obesity campaign.
Throughout 2011, we have highlighted some of the healthier fast food and casual dining options in our Food on the Run and Diet Friendly Dining reviews. Here are 10 of the healthiest menu options we've seen this year:
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Today in our ongoing Diet Friendly Dining series, we look at newly updated T.G.I. Friday's. Previously, Friday's didn't provide complete nutrition information for their menu items. Beginning at the end of September, nutrition information became readily available on their website.
We continue to recommend menu selections for a complete meal contain around 500 calories or less with 15-20 grams of fat or less. For many people, this is about one third of their daily calorie allowance. To meet this goal at T.G.I. Friday's it will require smart selections when ordering. We hope these tips will help.
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It is difficult to listen to the news, read a newspaper, or review online blogs these days without hearing about the childhood obesity epidemic. With a childhood obesity rate that has more than tripled in the past 30 years, the problem certainly is important to address. Last year the First Lady launched her Let's Move Campaign but more information and tools are necessary to teach kids healthy habits.
Last week there were two breaking headlines related to this topic. The first headline surrounding a renowned child obesity expert had Twitter feeds and news message boards lit up. A commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that states should intervene in life-threatening childhood obesity cases. The authors acknowledge many factors affect energy balance. They also site many aspects of modern society promote unhealthy lifestyles that contribute to childhood obesity issues. Their controversial opinion loosely links inadequate parental supervision and role modeling of healthy habits as a form of child abuse that contribute to issues of severe obesity in children. They suggest that some severely obese children in this situation would be better off in foster care than with their parents. The second health related topic leader of the week related to restaurants offering healthier food for kids.
Some call the Kids Live Well campaign a restaurant marketing ploy while others consider it a positive response to a national crisis. Regardless of how you label it, the collaboration between the National Restaurant Association and the team of registered dietitians at Healthy Dining will help families make healthier choices when eating away from home. Helping families make healthier choices will hopefully decrease the need to even think about having to remove children from families for health reasons. Here is a closer look at what the new program includes.
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This past Wednesday In-N-Out Burgers, a California based fast food chain, expanded its operation in the Dallas/Fort Worth market, one already saturated with restaurants galore.
When In-N-Out Burgers opened their doors in Allen and Frisco last week, it was reported that the line to get into the restaurants wrapped around the buildings and onto the adjacent roads leaving patrons to wait as long as three hours to get a burger. I understand that this more of an isolated situation, but three hours in line for a burger? Where do you draw the line?
And if you were looking for a burger with a little more substance, just head on down to the West End in Dallas where you can imbibe in a burger that boasts a whooping 8,000 calories, equivalent to four days worth of calories for me and that is if I expend 3000 calories that week via exercise. However, I will add that the burger is served by a waitress donned in white nurse's uniform, complete with cap. The name of the restaurant--The Heart Attack Grill. And if the size of the burger doesn't entice you to walk through the doors, as a bonus those patrons who weigh over 350 pounds get to eat for free.
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By Jennifer Nelson for FITNESS Magazine
If you like THAI, go for:
Thai-style chicken: It's loaded with vegetables and sometimes served in a hollowed-out pineapple. It's your five a day in one eye-catching meal.
Summer rolls: usually wrapped in low-calorie rice paper and filled with bean sprouts and other steamed vegetables, shrimp and/or fish.
But Steer clear of:
Peanut sauce: "It's delicious but loaded with fat," says Joan Carter, R.D., an instructor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a trained chef.
Thai tea: Sweetened with condensed milk and loaded with heavy cream or half-and-half, it's virtually a dessert.
If you like CHINESE, go for:
Wonton soup: It's light, refreshing and flavorful. One caveat: it can be high in sodium, so be sure to drink a lot of water.
Beef, chicken or shrimp with broccoli (heavy on the green stuff). Ask for the sauce on the side.
Brown rice: It's richer in nutrients and higher in fiber than white rice, so you'll crave fewer fortune cookies.
But Steer clear of:
Chow mein noodles and anything else that's crispy, crunchy and deep-fried, says Laura Olsen, R.D., a dietitian in private practice in Brooklyn.
Sweet-and-sour pork: Underneath all that calorie-packed sweet sauce are big chunks of deep-fried pork.
Kung Pao chicken: A typical order could be "garnished" with up to a half pound of cashews or peanuts (read: 30 grams of fat).
Get the rest of the story here! Read More ›
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to include more seafood.
Seafood is a general term referring to both finfish as well as shellfish. The average intake of seafood in the United States is around three and a half ounces per week. Evidence suggests increasing consumption to about eight ounces per week from a variety of seafood will provide a daily average of 250 mg of the healthy fats EPA and DHA. Consumption at this level has been associated with decreased cardiac deaths and the prevention of heart disease.
I tend to select seafood when I am eating away from home. As part of our ongoing Diet Friendly Dining series, let's look at the healthier seafood options at Red Lobster.
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When you're on the run or out with friends, it's not always possible to plan ahead and do your research before heading to a restaurant. (If you can plan ahead, Tanya's Food on the Run series is a fantastic resource.) Once there, your senses are often assaulted by glossy photos on menus and table tents, tantalizing smells, and fast-paced sales pitches from servers. Even your fellow diners get in on the act, urging you to try the newest, most popular menu item. "Crispy breaded macaroni and cheese bites wrapped in bacon and served with our five-queso, dragon fire dipping sauce." Sounds good when everyone else is ordering it, right?
While the trend at some hip restaurants is simplicity (Mac-n-cheese: penne + pancetta + artisan Gouda), most restaurants add long descriptions to entice diners. "Fluffy omelets," "real cheese," and "fresh lettuce" become selling points.
But think about it: Omelets are fluffy by nature. Shouldn't all cheese be real? And would someone really serve not-fresh lettuce? (Perhaps, but most customers would send it back.) If you're telling me about a specific type of food--Hass avocados, which have a richer flavor than other varieties; Vidalia onions, known for their sweetness; or Niman Ranch pork, a high quality brand--then please add the descriptors. But if restaurants are stating the obvious, overselling their dishes, or trying to gloss over unhealthy ingredients, we as consumers should be able to read beyond that and make educated decisions.
My number one piece of advice for translating menus: If you would never be willing to eat the opposite of a menu description (e.g. stale bread, soggy lettuce, tough chicken), then the modifier is just hype!
When you're learning to maneuver the thick menus of restaurants and seek out healthier items, it's not always easy. I've scoured menus for descriptions that are full of hollow marketing terms. Let's separate hype from reality. Below, I'll translate these menu descriptions. Do any of these adjectives and descriptions actually mean food is better for us? Or--health aspects aside--does it really make a difference in the final taste? Does it justify an added cost? No restaurants will be named in the list below. Read More ›
Balancing energy intake with energy expenditure is a key to successful weight management. Nutrition tools like databases, trackers, and fact labels can help. However, the help they provide is limited by the accuracy of the information each tool includes.
The same is true with calorie information on restaurant menus. The nutrition calculations are derived from a variety of sources. Restaurants frequently use laboratory testing, published resource information, and food supplier information to help them calculate estimated nutrition information. If the source information is not accurate, the inaccuracy will be handed down and perhaps multiplied. Tufts University researchers tested meals from several familiar chain restaurants. The tested meals were eighteen percent higher in calories on average than the listed menu information. The scariest part of their findings to me was the wide range of variation between actual calorie content and reported content. Some meals were 36 percent lower than the restaurant calculation. For most of us, that is an error in our favor that doesn't bother us too much. Others were 200 percent higher than the reported calorie information. That variation can make a large impact that is more unsettling.
Some people have ordered their lifestyle so that eating away from home isn't something they do often. Others of us eat away from home from time to time for a variety of reasons. When we do, we rely on helpful recommendations to plan before we go in order to successfully navigate the menu for the healthiest choices. We also try to apply many of the healthy eating habits we have learned as well. Unfortunately, we also trust in the nutrition information provided for the restaurant we are visiting. Here are some things to consider when reviewing and relying on menu nutrition information while dining away from home.
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