New England's favorite mom, the Hood Answer Mom™ is back, and she has a new blog on Hood.com. 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.
ABOUT THE HOOD ANSWER MOM
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.
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:
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?
4. What is the minimum daily suggested intake for whole grains for children and adults?
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
d. Vitamin D
e. b, c, d
7. You need which of the following to provide amino acids to build cells, tissues, and muscles:
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.
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.
By Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.
Super Bowl Sunday is second only to Thanksgiving for the average amount of calories consumed in a single day in the United States! While the typical Super Bowl menu can bust your calorie budget well before the game starts, these delicious recipes trim calories and fat without sacrificing taste.
Enjoy the football festivities, even if your favorite team isn’t playing in the big game!
Roasted Tomato Crostini
Makes 6 servings
“Crostini “ means little toast.
1 large baguette, sliced on the diagonal into 18 to 24 1-inch pieces
2 pints grape tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups Hood Low Fat Cottage Cheese (http://www.hood.com/Products/prodDetail.aspx?id=648&lb=875)
1 tsp dried basil
1 Tbsp Hood Milk
Preheat oven to 375˚F. To make crostini, place slices of bread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Brush each piece with olive oil, then turn over and brush the other side with olive oil. Bake until golden brown and crunchy. Set aside.
Turn oven down to 350˚F. Place tomatoes in a medium bowl. Add olive oil and salt and toss until tomatoes are thoroughly coated. Transfer tomatoes to baking sheet. Roast tomatoes until soft and skins have burst, about 50 to 60 minutes.
Add cottage cheese, basil, and milk to a food processor. Blend until mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds.
To serve, divide the cottage cheese mixture evenly among the crostini and top with equal amounts of roasted tomatoes.
Makes about 2 cups
Serve with baked snack chips or toasted whole wheat pita bread that’s been cut into wedges.
2 ripe avocados
¾ cup Hood Low Fat Cottage Cheese
¼ cup lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
¾ to 1 tsp jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Chocolate Raspberry Mini Tarts
These “tartlets” are bite-size and satisfying.
½ cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup Hood Low Fat Cottage Cheese
14 mini phyllo cups
14 fresh raspberries
Place the cottage cheese in a food processor. Melt the chocolate chips, and cool for about 30 seconds, stirring the entire time. Add the melted chocolate chips to the food processor and process the cottage cheese and chocolate until smooth, about 1 minute.
Fill phyllo cups with an equal amount of the chocolate mixture, about 1 tablespoon each. Garnish each mini tart with a raspberry.
By Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.
You meant it when you vowed to eat better, exercise more, and lose weight in 2014, but now your resolve is fading fast. Here’s how to regain your enthusiasm for a healthier lifestyle for you and your family.
Why It’s So Hard to Change for the Better
Your intentions to improve your life are stuck in low gear. That’s to be expected, especially if you set lofty goals for yourself. Chances are, you’ve made it too difficult to achieve lasting change because you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
We’re creatures of habit. Most of us thrive on ritual and routine, which is why we eat the same meal for breakfast every day, travel the same route to work, and watch our favorite TV show every week. Habits make life easier by freeing up the brain to think about other matters that require more attention.
Since we cling so closely to habit, it makes sense that changing too many habits at once – no matter how detrimental they are to good health - is a recipe for failure. Change takes a lot of willpower, and you only have so much mental energy to go around. Attempting to alter too many behaviors simultaneously undermines willpower to the point where you stop trying to make any positive change because it’s just too hard.
Live by The Rule of One
The Rule of One is all about concentrating on a single new healthy habit. It may come as a surprise, but research shows that cultivating one healthy habit leads to other healthy habits.
Which habit should you tackle first? That depends. Whatever you choose, focus on inclusion.
Staying positive about balanced eating gives you the psychological edge to make changes to your diet. For example, vow to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables or to include three servings of non-fat or low-fat dairy every day instead of telling yourself to cut out all chips, candy, and cookies.
Getting the recommended amount of produce and dairy makes you feel good about your eating habits, which can perpetuate additional healthy behaviors. At the very least, you’ll increase your vitamin and mineral intake.
When you include nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains, there’s less room in your day for low-nutrient foods, such as chips, candy, cookies and sugary soft drinks. On the other hand, it’s not necessary to entirely ban higher-calorie foods. It may be helpful to eat small portions or your favorite foods, as feelings of dietary deprivation often spell the end for healthy eating efforts.
Whatever habit you start with, keep it simple. If you don’t exercise now, don’t vow to work out every day at the gym. Instead, try to walk for 30 minutes on most days of the week for now. Cut yourself some slack. It can take up to three weeks to establish a new behavior. And when you do feel secure, move on to the next one!
By Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD
Weight loss is one of the top New Year’s resolutions among Americans, but you probably knew that already.
How often have you made the vow to shed pounds on the first day of the year? I don’t think I have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I resolved to slim down just because it was January. That’s before I learned to look at weight control in a way that’s done me a lot of good, and may work for you, too.
As an overweight teenager, I was on my share of diets, including the Grapefruit Diet, Atkins, and the Cabbage Soup regimen. My weight may have fluctuated by ten or so pounds, but it might as well have been 50 or 75 pounds, the way it made me feel about myself. For me, weight gain equaled failure and a lack of self-control.
It didn’t help that my family associated food with nearly every emotion including joy, boredom, and sadness. I loved to eat, but I wasn’t always eating because I was hungry. To make matters worse, I also have a relatively slow metabolism, and there’s never been a lot of wiggle room, calorie-wise.
When I was in my early 20s, I decided I’d had enough with dieting. I knew that I had to find the balance between eating and exercise that worked best for me. No more quick fixes. I was finally in it for the long haul.
To understand how I approach healthier eating, picture a long winding road with no end in sight. The road has hills, and plenty of twists and turns. Maintaining a steady course on the path to a healthier lifestyle isn’t always smooth sailing. Your responsibilities as a caregiver, parent, employee, friend, or some combination of the above can easily challenge your motivation to eat right and move around more, sometimes on a daily basis. It’s OK to slip up, as long as you keep trying.
The New Year is full of hope. Here is what I wish for anyone striving for to do their best, in 2014 and beyond.
• Don’t be so quick to throw in the towel. Eating a couple of cookies or having an extra glass of wine is not an epic diet fail. You always have the next meal or the next day to do better.
• Find a solution, don’t make resolutions. What’s really holding you back from improving what you eat and how much you exercise? If you can figure out your biggest barriers and start to work through them, you won’t need to resolve to do the same next year.
• Give yourself plenty of leeway. Don’t expect to solve all of your eating and exercise challenges in a week or two. It takes time to learn new skills that lead to healthier habits, but it’s worth it.
• Realize there’s a limit to self-control. Willpower is often described as doing something you don’t want to do, and that takes a lot of mental energy. When you are tired, or stressed, or have too much to do, it makes it more difficult to make healthy lifestyle choices.