A Handful of Almonds

While you’re watching the debate tomorrow night, enjoy a handful of almonds. No matter how you feel about politics, you can’t go wrong with a simple, nutritious snack that pays homage to those who came before. You may remember that during an Obama speech to the DNC in 2016, Matt Yglesias tweeted, “Tonight, Obama’s going to eat seven chocolate-covered almonds.”

We all snack at different times and for different reasons. Rather than trying to eliminate snacking, why not enjoy eating something you can feel good about?

I’m not sure whether the chocolate-covered almonds referenced are cocoa dusted or almonds covered in candy. Of the two, cocoa dusted is the healthier choice. Healthier still are raw almonds.

Seven raw almonds contain 49 calories, 1.8 grams of protein, 1.7 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 4.3 grams of fat. They also have 21 mg of calcium and 61 mg of potassium. For comparison, a banana has 5 mg calcium and a tablespoon of whole milk has 17. A banana also has 358 mg potassium, 90 calories, and .3 grams of fat. A tablespoon of whole milk has 22 mg potassium, 9 calories, and .5 grams of fat. Almonds also provide a good supply of vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium. While they may seem high in calories, some of those calories are not absorbed by the body.

The brown skin of almonds is high in healthy antioxidants. In fact, vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect your cells from oxidative damage. Studies have linked higher vitamin E consumption with lowered rates of Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease.

Magnesium lowers blood sugar levels and reduces insulin resistance which may help prevent Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. A sufficient amount of manganese is required to keep blood pressure in check. As if that weren’t enough, almonds can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Almonds fill you up, protect your cells, help preserve your memory, and give you satisfying crunch. Sounds like a pretty good snack, no?

Whether you’re enjoying the debates, binge watching, or taking a hike, almonds are a great choice when you want a snack between meals. Just a handful will do!

https://www.calorieking.com/us/en/foods/f/calories-in-nuts-almonds-raw/ZBfdrfsWRzyC1C68o0NSrw

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-proven-benefits-of-almonds#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20199999/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12117360/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15321799/

Get to Know Your Breakfast Sandwich

If you typically get breakfast from a drive-thru, it’s time to get to know your breakfast sandwich. With January swiftly progressing, many of your neighbors and friends have already abandoned their New Year’s resolutions. By taking the time to gain knowledge so that you can create a lifestyle to support the changes you want to make, you’ll be way ahead of them in the long run.

In the past couple of weeks we’ve looked at the calorie and nutrition content of breakfast foods most commonly consumed at home. About 10% of American breakfast eaters grab a drive-thru breakfast sandwich, so let’s examine a few of those.

The typical breakfast sandwich is a combination of bacon, egg, and cheese or sausage, egg, and cheese. It comes served on some kind of bread: an English muffin, toast, waffle, biscuit, or doughnut. It is not normally gluten-free.
breakfast sandwich
The best-known of the breakfast sandwiches is the Egg McMuffin®.

Egg McMuffin
McDonald’s signature breakfast sandwich is made with egg, Canadian bacon, and cheese on an English muffin. This sandwich has 290 calories. It also contains 17 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat, 235 mg cholesterol, 840 mg sodium, 3 g sugars and a total of 29 g carbohydrates in addition to 30% of the Daily Value of calcium, 15% of iron, 10% of vitamin A, and 2% of vitamin C.

While cholesterol may no longer have a recommended limit, the American Heart Association suggests a goal of 300 mg per day. 235 mg is a significant portion of that amount. The 840 mg of sodium provide 30% of the recommended sodium for a day.

Dunkin’ Donuts Belgian Waffle Breakfast Sandwich

For me, the pull of this sandwich is the waffle. I love waffles! Of course, I won’t ever choose to eat this sandwich because I must be gluten-free or be itchy, in pain, and weak. That doesn’t keep it from looking like a delicious choice. Let’s see how it stacks up nutritionally.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ puts egg, cheese, and bacon between two Belgian waffles. The waffle sandwich has 420 calories, 16 grams of protein, 27 grams of fat, 190 mg cholesterol, 800 grams of sodium,
14 grams of sugar, and 38 g total carbs.

It seems the waffle adds a significant amount of sugar and carbs. There are other sandwich carriers at Dunkin’ Donuts – bagels, biscuits, croissants, English muffins, and multigrain flatbread. There are also other fillers like the vegetables and egg whites.

If you choose a Veggie egg white omelet on multigrain flatbread, you’ll get 320 calories, 17 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 610 mg sodium, 3 sugars and 33 total carbohydrates.

That’s more calories and slightly more fat and carbs than an Egg McMuffin, but with significantly less cholesterol and sodium.

Go big or go home!

Burger King Supreme Breakfast Sandwich

With this Burger King option, you get double egg, double sausage, and double bacon. I guess that’s what makes it supreme. The larger portions mean more calories. It has 880 calories, 41 grams of protein, 59 grams of fat, 375 mg cholesterol, 2170 mg sodium, 7 grams of sugar and a total of 45 grams of carbohydrates. In addition, this sandwich provides 15% of the Daily Value of calcium, 25% of iron, 4% of vitamin A, and 2% of vitamin C.

This is the highest calorie, highest fat, highest carb breakfast food we’ve explored. Not only does it have lots of fat, some of it is trans fat. Trans fats are created using an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Many doctors believe this is the worst type of fat you can eat.

With this sandwich, you’re getting a full day’s worth of sodium, almost a full day’s worth of protein, and close to half of a day’s needed calories. Most of us won’t work off those extra calories or cut back on salt the rest of the day.

Remember that we’re gathering information in order to put together a health plan that we can sustain throughout our lives. When you review your desired lifestyle, health goals, priorities, and budget, you may decide that one of these sandwiches is a good fit for your plan.

Given this information, I’m going to choose to go home for breakfast!

https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us.html

https://www.dunkindonuts.com/dunkindonuts/en.html

https://www.bk.com/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Show Me Some Heart Healthy Love With a Valentine’s Day Frittata!

eggshells

With Valentine’s Day looming, it’s time to show me some heart healthy love! How? Well, first let me sleep late in my favorite pjs, then bring me some coffee and the newspaper and tell me how adorable I am. Now, get in the kitchen and make me some eggs.

Wait a minute, I said heart healthy and then I said eggs. What’s up with that? Well, it seems that the US government is about to withdraw its warnings about consuming cholesterol. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee which provides the scientific basis for published Dietary Guidelines has recommended that the warnings be lifted. While the final report has not yet been filed with the Department of Heath and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, it is rare for the guidelines to vary significantly from the recommendations of the committee.

This new stance will likely result in some confusion because many of us have been taught consuming cholesterol is DANGEROUS for everyone, but it appears that the science to support that conclusion was weak at best from the very beginning. About 25% of the population on average will experience detrimental effects from consuming cholesterol. The rest of us can enjoy our Valentine’s Day frittatas with total peace of mind.

Speaking of frittatas, I like them for brunch and for dinner whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not. They’re quick, easy, and a perfect delivery system for lots of yummy, fiber-filled left over vegetables. I can throw one together in a heartbeat when guests arrive tired and hungry. If I’m low on leftover veggies, I use frozen English peas which I always have on hand. Okay, I’ll admit sometimes I sauté onions, shiitake mushrooms, and red bell pepper rather than using leftovers. They make one of my favorite delicious combinations in a frittata or alongside a slice roast beef.
veggies
I don’t limit the ingredients to vegetables. Country ham and asparagus; bacon and cheddar; sausage, feta, and kale; salmon and dill are all flavor combinations I love encased in fluffy eggs. Just like the traditional one pot meal, you can throw in anything that you think will taste good.

So what’s the formula for a successful Valentine’s Day frittata? Use an oven safe skillet, get the broiler hot, coat your skillet in oil or butter, choose fully cooked meats and/or vegetables with complimentary flavors and enhance them with herbs or cheese, salt and pepper. Warm the meat, vegetables, and herbs in the oil coated skillet over medium low heat. Add a splash of water to 6-8 eggs for fluffiness before you lightly whisk them along with the salt and pepper. Add the eggs to the skillet, sprinkle with cheese and cook until the eggs set and only a tiny layer of liquid egg is left in the center on top. Finish under the broiler causing the eggs to rise and lightly brown.
frittata

Most importantly, don’t forget to include the love. It’s the most important ingredient for heart health every day!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/10/feds-poised-to-withdraw-longstanding-warnings-about-dietary-cholesterol/

http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015.asp

Let’s Talk Turkey

chili

 

Ever throw turkey burgers on the grill because you think they’re automatically healthier than regular burgers? Ever make turkey chili to appease a spouse who’s trying to lose weight? If you substitute ground turkey for ground beef in order to reduce the fat in your diet, but you also need to be concerned about calories, sodium, and cholesterol, you may not be making the best choice.

These days, general wisdom assumes that any white meat is healthier for you than red meat. Let’s see if a nutritional comparison supports that wisdom(1):

 

 

Ground Turkey 3oz, cooked                        Ground Beef 90% Lean 10% Fat                   Ground Beef 85% Lean 15% Fat

200 calories                                                     148 calories                                                           181 Calories

50% fat, 50% protein, 0% carbs                     51%fat, 49% protein, 0%carbs                      63%fat, 37% protein, 0%carbs

Total Fat 11.18g = 17%                                      Total Fat 8.4g=13%                                              Total Fat 12.6g=19%

    Saturated Fat 2.883 = 14%                              Saturated Fat 3.409g=17%                                Saturated Fat 4.927g=25%

Polyunsaturated Fat 2.747g                             Polyunsaturated Fat .389g                                Polyunsaturated Fat .364g

Monounsaturated Fat 4.159g                         Monounsaturated Fat 3.657g                        Monounsaturated Fat 5.506g

Cholesterol 87mg = 29%                                  Cholesterol 55mg=18%                                   Cholesterol 57mg = 19%

Sodium 91mg = 4%                                          Sodium 55 mg 2%                                             Sodium 55 mg=2%

Potassium 230mg                                              Potassium 270mg                                            Potassium 248mg

      Total Carbs 0%                                            Total Carbohydrate 0%                                      Total Carbohydrate 0%

Dietary Fiber 0g                                                Dietary Fiber 0%                                                   Dietary Fiber 0%

Sugars 0g                                                             Sugars 0G                                                                  Sugars 0G

Protein 23.27g                                                      Protein 16.8g                                                         Protein 16.25g

Vitamin A 0                                                          Vitamin A 0                                                           Vitamin A 0

Vitamin C 0                                                           Vitamin C 0                                                           Vitamin C 0

Calcium 2%                                                           Calcium 1%                                                            Calcium 1%

Iron 9%                                                                 Iron 10%                                                                 Iron 10%

The first thing you may observe is that all beef blends are not created equal.  Because the cost of leaner beef tends to be higher than either less lean beef or turkey, we must also factor in cost.  If budget is your primary concern, ground turkey is probably your best bet.

If your budget allows you to purchase leaner beef, then there are other factors to consider. Three ounces of ground turkey contains more calories and total fat grams than three ounces of 90% lean ground beef. The turkey also contains twice the sodium, a bit less iron and potassium, and 10% more cholesterol. Surprisingly, ground beef has fewer calories than turkey, but that’s partially because it has fewer grams of protein per ounce.

It seems the best conclusion we can draw is that your personal priorities will determine whether beef or turkey is healthier for you. If you need to limit sodium and cholesterol and reduce calories, choose the leanest beef you can afford. If you want to limit overall fat, then turkey is a better choice. Turkey is also a good choice when you want to increase the protein in your diet without increasing the saturated fat. Turkey will also be easier on your pocketbook…which can reduce stress…which can increase your health.

Now that you’re informed, you can enjoy your burger knowing you’ve made the very best choice for you whether you choose beef or turkey!

 

1)”Ground Turkey (Cooked).” Calories in and Nutrition Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2012. <http://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/usda/ground-turkey-(cooked)>.