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Liz Ward

New England's favorite mom, the Hood Answer Mom™ is back, and she has a new blog on Visit the Hood Answer Mom Blog for the latest news about health and nutrition, and for easy-to-use tips and suggestions for healthy eating for you and your family. Got a question or comment for the Hood Answer Mom? Click here.

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

How to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

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By Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

You know that fruits and vegetables are good for you, but you may not realize how beneficial they really are. Recent research says the more produce you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age.

A 12-year study of the eating habits of more than 65,000 people in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health ( found that eating seven or more servings of produce daily lowered the risk of dying from any cause by a whopping 42% compared to one portion or less each day. Health benefits increased for every serving over one. 

The research also showed that vegetables have a stronger effect on staying alive than fruit, but that fruit makes an important impact. Getting enough fruits and vegetables in your daily eating plan can be challenging, but it’s easier when produces play a role in main dishes and snacks. 

This homemade version of Ranch dressing can be used for dipping or on salads, and kids love it!

Ranch Dressing
Makes 1 cup

2/3 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. Hood Fat Free Buttermilk
1 Tbsp. reduced-fat mayonnaise
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. white vinegar
¼ tsp. dried dill
¼ tsp. salt
Ground black pepper, to taste, if desired

Place all ingredients in small mixing bowl. Using a whisk, mix ingredients until well combined. If possible, refrigerate for at least an hour before using. Refrigerate remaining dressing for later use.

Here are some of my favorite recipes that feature fruits, vegetables, and Hood products, which serve up bone-building calcium, protein, and many other nutrients:

Broccoli Cheese Calzone:  

Au Gratin Vegetable Bake:
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata:  

Spinach Banana Smoothie:  

Roasted Red Pepper Dip:  




#HoodCreamCreations Google+ Hangout with Chef Chris Coombs

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By Chef Christopher Coombs

Growing up, Hood dairy products were always a big part of my life. They remain that way today as I’m now a chef and restaurant owner.  My grandfather drove a Hood truck for more than forty years and so the Hood red and white logo will forever hold a sentimental meaning to me.  I am honored to now wear that logo on my chef’s coat and serve as the official Hood Cream Chef.  It is a wonderful tribute to my family; and as a Hood Cream customer, I am proud to use a local New England product in my dishes at Deuxave, dbar and Boston Chops. 

To kick off this partnership, I’m hosting a Google+ Hangout with Hood Cream on Tuesday, April 8, at 6:00 p.m. During the Hangout, I’ll be doing a live cooking demonstration, at which time I’ll encourage users to follow along and ask questions about the recipes, Hood Cream, or about cooking in general. You can join in the conversation by using the #HoodCreamCreations hashtag on Twitter. Another perk is that users who ask me questions on Twitter will have the chance to win a $100 American Express gift card, which they can use to create their own spring celebration meal.

Spring is my favorite time of the year to cook because it’s when the beginning of fresh vegetable season commences and I have the opportunity to cook with some of my favorites like morels, ramps, fiddleheads and spring peas. Everything seems to come alive and grow in the spring and chefs love being able to table root vegetables and canned vegetables to focus on the fresh, first tastes of spring.

I will be cooking three spring celebration recipes during the Google+ Hangout: an Asparagus Gratin, a Spring Carbonara, and a Brioche French Toast, all of which feature Hood Cream.
You can find the hangout by visiting the HP Hood Google+ page. Don’t forget to RSVP and tune in on April 8 at 6:00 p.m., at the hangout link below.

Link to the hangout:  

Link to the Hood Google+ page:  



10 Easy Ways to Boost Nutrition

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By Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

Taste rules when it comes to food choices. No matter how nutritious, if food isn’t enjoyable, you won’t eat it.  March is National Nutrition Month and the theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” Here are 10 ways to get more nutrients for the calories - without sacrificing taste. 

• Rethink the take-out stuffed crust pepperoni pizza you typically order in favor of our Nacho Pizza which is overflowing with whole grains, vegetables, and great taste.  

• Use half as much ground beef in your favorite chili recipe and replace it with an equal amount of sautéed chopped mushrooms. Mushrooms are the only item in the produce aisle with bone-building vitamin D. Brands that have been exposed to ultraviolet light have the most vitamin D; check the label.

• Save on calories, fat, and cholesterol when you swap half the feta cheese for low-fat cottage cheese in dishes such as this Greek Pasta Salad.

• Forgo store-bought trail mix for a more wholesome version. Mix whole grain cereal, dried fruit, sunflower seeds or nuts, and, if you like, a few dark chocolate morsels.

• For less sugar and more protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals than most fruited yogurt, mix plain, fat-free Greek yogurt with a teaspoon of honey, molasses, or sugar, and fruit. 

• This delicious and easy Ravioli with Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce  is a good example of how to pump up  pasta with the protective plant compounds, vitamins, minerals, and fiber found in vegetables. 

• Swap whole wheat flour for up to half the white flour in your favorite quick bread recipes such as pancakes, waffles, and muffins. Add dried fruit for additional vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

• Tired of brown rice? Try quinoa; it’s delicious and in cooks up in minutes. Prepare quinoa with low-sodium chicken broth instead of water. When cooked, stir in dried cranberries. Top with slivered almonds and enjoy!

• Buy eggs fortified with extra vitamins, such as vitamin D, minerals, and omega-3 fats. You’ll get more nutrition for the calories.

• Munch on popcorn instead of pretzels or chips. Popcorn is a whole grain and counts toward the suggested minimum daily requirement of three servings.



Test Your Nutrition Know-How

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By Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

March is National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” Taste drives most food choices, and it’s important to pick the most nutrient-rich foods you can every day. Test your nutrition know-how with this quick quiz!

1. According to MyPlate, the government’s symbol for healthy eating, you should fill half your plate with the following:

a. Protein
b. Whole grains
c. Dairy foods
d. Fruits and vegetables

2. True or False? You must drink 8 glasses of water every day.

3. What is the body’s preferred energy source?

a. Protein
b. Carbohydrate
c. Vitamins
d. Fiber

4. What is the minimum daily suggested intake for whole grains for children and adults?

a. 5
b. 7
c. 3
d. 4

5. Which vitamin is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin?”

a. Vitamin C
b. Vitamin D
c. Vitamin K
d. Vitamin A

6. Which of the following nutrients are necessary for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth?

a. Vitamin B12
b. Calcium
c. Magnesium
d. Vitamin D
e. b, c, d

7. You need which of the following to provide amino acids to build cells, tissues, and muscles:

a. Carbohydrate
b. Thiamin
c. Protein
d. Fiber


1. d. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal. A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is linked to better overall health. Get in the spirit of Patrick’s Day with our Spinach-Banana Smoothie includes two servings of fruits and vegetables and nearly a full serving of Hood Milk!

2. False. Adults need at least between nine 10 13 eight-ounce cups of fluid daily, and it doesn’t have to come from water only. Milk, 100% fruit juice, tea, and coffee are also sources of water and can help satisfying fluid requirements. Staying well-hydrated helps your body and brain function properly. 

3. b. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source because they can be easily broken down into the type of fuel your cells need to function. Foods such as whole grain bread and cereal, vegetables, and beans are nutritious sources of complex carbohydrates, which provide a steady supply of energy. 

4. c. Experts recommend including at least three servings of whole grains in your daily eating plan. Whole grains are typically richer in fiber, vitamins, and minerals than refined grains such as white bread, white rice, and white pasta. Examples of a serving of whole grains include ½ cup whole grain cereal or cooked brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or quinoa, or 1 slice whole grain bread. 

5. b. Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin” because your body makes it in response to strong summer sunlight. Problem is, most people aren’t exposed to enough sunlight to make the vitamin D they need throughout the year.  That’s why it’s important to consume foods rich in vitamin D, including Hood Milk, tuna, salmon, and fortified eggs, every day to get the vitamin D you need for strong bones and teeth.

6. e. Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D contribute to bone health, along with other nutrients, including protein. Most people don’t get the calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D they need, putting them at risk for bone disease.  Hood Milk is a source of all four nutrients, and more, that you need for good health. 

7. c. Protein in food supplies amino acids, which your body uses to make cells, tissues, and other compounds that keep you alive. MyPlate suggests allotting about one-quarter of your plate with protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, poultry, and seafood, at every meal. MyPlate also recommends serving of dairy, also a source of protein, at each meal.




5 Delicious Foods for Heart Health

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By Elizabeth Ward, M.S., R.D.

February is about matters of the heart, romantic and health-wise. You may be under the impression that heart-healthy foods must be bland and boring to benefit your ticker, but some of your favorites are actually good for your heart.

Chocolate:  Your chocolate obsession could be good for your heart. Plant compounds in chocolate, called flavonoids, help to keep blood pressure within normal range, lowering the risk for heart attack.  Unsweetened cocoa powder has the most flavonoids and nearly no calories. Hot cocoa made with Hood milk, cocoa powder and the sweetener of your choice includes heart-healthy flavonoids as well as a serving of dairy.  Or try a chocolate banana smoothie made with 1 medium banana, 1 cup Hood milk, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder and sweetener.

Eggs: For decades, eggs have been demonized for causing heart disease, but no single food can be blamed for a chronic condition.  In addition, eggs supply vitamins and minerals that actually support heart health. Health experts now say that most healthy people can include an egg a day in their balanced diet. People with high total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) – bad cholesterol - should ask their doctor about how many eggs are right for them.  The same goes for people with diabetes. Eggs Florentine Wrap combines Hood Cottage Cheese, eggs, and spinach on a whole wheat wrap – satisfying, and good for you, too.

Nuts: News flash: A small handful of nuts on a regular basis may lead to a longer life.  A study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) found a link between eating a 1-ounce serving of nuts and lower death rates from heart disease and other conditions, such as cancer.  Nuts supply fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protective antioxidant nutrients.  Experts say it’s OK to have nuts every day. Snack on nuts, top salads with them, and enjoy nuts as part of your morning meal in Creamy Fruit and Nut Oatmeal.

Potatoes: Have you shunned potatoes in the name of weight loss? You may be doing your heart a disservice. Potatoes pack potassium and magnesium, two potent minerals that support heart health.  Potassium counteracts the effects of sodium, which may cause blood pressure to rise.  Magnesium promotes a healthy heart rhythm, among other important functions. This heart-healthy Veggie Stuffed Baked Potato is nearly a meal in itself, and it’s ready in minutes.

Coffee: Love your coffee, but feel slightly guilty for having a second or third cup?  No worries.  According to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), research suggests that your coffee habit poses no threat to your heart. (In fact, coffee is a major source of antioxidant nutrients that help protect your blood vessels.) Moderation is key, of course; sipping up to six, eight-ounce cups of coffee daily is OK for many people. Drinking regular coffee is not linked to increased blood pressure in large population studies, but if you have a hard time controlling your blood pressure, talk to your doctor about coffee. Skip the high-priced coffee shop drinks in favor of this Simply Smart Cappuccino that’s good for your heart and your bones.