100 calorie packs can leave you feeling
hungry for more.

So you think you’re doing everything right when it comes to eating healthy. You eat breakfast daily, include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your meals, and try to limit processed and fast food as much as possible. But for some reason, those pesky 10 pounds haven’t budged. Ready to throw in the towel? Not so fast!
Most people will be surprised to learn that although their diets are very healthy, there are a few unsuspecting foods that can throw off the best of weight loss intentions. Here are three healthy foods that can sneak into your diet and throw you off track:
#1: Hidden Sugars – Granola, fat-free frozen yogurt, and protein bars all seem innocent enough. After all, it’s not like your chomping into a donut, right? You may be surprised how much sugar is lurking in your so-called healthier choices. Take a look at these comparisons:
·      1 cup Kellogg’s Froot Loops = 26 g or 6 teaspoons of sugar, compared to a “healthier” cereal, 1 cup of Kellogg’s low-fat granola = 28 g or 7 teaspoons of sugar
·      ½ cup Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream = 32 g or 8 teaspoons of sugar, compared to the “healthier” frozen yogurt version,  ½ cup Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie frozen yogurt = 34 g sugar
       3 Oreos = 25 g or 5 teaspoons of sugar, compared to a “healthy” bar, 1 Balance bar = 23 g or 5 teaspoons of sugar
Surprised? True, the Ben & Jerry’s frozen yogurt may have less fat, but usually less fat means more added sugar. Added sugars will contribute to your daily intake of calories and next, your waste line.
#2: Lurking Fat –  Most of us have heard of the healthy unsaturated fats vs. the artery-clogging saturated fats. Consuming unsaturated fats in the form of olive oil, nuts and nut butters, avocado and fatty fish help reduce inflammation that can lead to diabetes, heart disease and other diseases. Despite the health benefits, there is such a thing as overdoing unsaturated fats.
Spreading one tablespoon of natural peanut butter on toast for a satisfying breakfast is fine. Eating peanut butter mindlessly out of the jar with a spoon can tally fat intake equal to a slice of cheesecake.
The same goes for olive oil.  Drenching veggies in olive oil for stir fry or making a homemade vinaigrette can bring calories into the hundreds if you have a heavy hand.
Always measure your fats, even the healthy ones. One to two tablespoons of olive oil or peanut butter can go a long way while keeping the calories and fat under control.
#3:  Empty calorie snacks – Within the last few years, 100-calorie packs of everything from Oreo cookies to Wheat Thin crackers have cropped up on the grocery store shelves. In-between meal snacks should balance between 100-200 calories maximum, depending on your calorie intake for the entire day. However, not all calories are created equal. A 100-calorie pack of Oreos is mainly refined carbohydrates. Refined carbs may satisfy a sweet tooth, but they will empty out of your system quickly, only to leave you hungry in a hurry and looking for something else to eat.
Be wise. Choose snacks that are nutrient-dense and will keep you full longer. This includes snack foods that have protein, fat and fiber. An example is an apple (fiber) and cheese stick (fat, protein). Both items are portion-controlled and provide the right mix of nutrients to nourish and satisfy a grumbling belly.  Other ideas include a ¼ cup trail mix plus one piece of fruit, 6 ounces Greek yogurt, or an English muffin with 1 tablespoon peanut butter.
Hopefully these tips help you identify some healthy eating pitfalls. Making these slight changes can help save a few hundred calories. At the end of the day, this calorie deficit can translate to 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week.
Coconut water is all the rage and refreshing!

I am a dietitian. I am also human, therefore I am NOT perfect when it comes to eating and drinking. Last week I had a heart-to-heart with myself and realized that diet soda is a horrible habit in my life that I’d like to rid from my daily routine.  


I am not writing this post to say that diet soda is Lucifer in disguise as a refreshing, bubbly beverage.  If you drink diet soda in moderation, as in a few glasses per week, you should be fine. Personally, I felt I was becoming addicted to diet soda, grabbing for it out of habit for an afternoon caffeine pick-me-up. I also realized I was feeling bloated after drinking it, yet wanting more. To me, that’s not how I want to feel after eating or drinking anything. 


While water is best to keep you hydrated in this sweltering heat, it is nice to have something different here and there. Check out my list of some alternatives to regular and diet soda to keep things less boring while you hydrate this summer:

  • Unsweetened Iced Tea: Try adding 1 teaspoon of agave nectar or organic honey, a slice of orange, and a few grapes cut into halves or quarters. The juices from the added fruit, along with a touch of sweet agave nectar will make this a refreshingly tasty beverage with no sugar or chemical sugar substitutes. If you don’t have time to brew your own, there are some brands that sell bottled unsweetened iced tea, although it’s not always easy to find. 
  • Coconut water: This fairly new beverage has been getting a lot of attention in the past couple of years. It took me a while to try it, but after taking my first sip last week, I was sold. I tried CoCo Exposed’s Peach & Kiwi (picture above), with a short and sweet ingredient list including coconut water, aloe vera juice, peach, kiwi, and citric acid (Vitamin C). The 12 ounce bottle only had 60 calories and 14 grams of sugar. You can’t beat that!  Coconut water is also a good sports drink alternative for any runners or bikers racking up the miles in this summer heat. Coconut water is a natural source of sodium and potassium, electrolytes we lose through sweat during intense exercise.
  • Seltzer with fruit: Buy plain or flavored seltzer. Add any fruits you desire to make it more interesting. Try oranges, grapes, peaches, raspberries … don’t be shy! You can also add splashes of your favorite 100% fruit juices to seltzer. Look for “no sugar added” on the label to be sure you’re only getting sugar from real fruit and not added white table sugar.  Instead of seltzer, you could add fruit and 100% juice to good old water as well. 
  • Honest Ade beverages: It would be nice to think we always have time to brew our own iced tea or make our own seltzer. But in our hurry-up and rush-around world, sometimes we do need some convenience in food and drinks. Honest Ade drinks are a good quick grab.  They come in a variety of flavors, such as Orange Mango, and will set you back about 50 calories and 12 grams of sugar per 8 ounces. Other sweetened beverages contain double that amount of calories and sugar per 8 ounces. 
  • Gus brand soda: I’m not an advocate of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages on a regular basis, but every once in a while is perfectly fine. If you must drink regular soda, the Gus brand is a great alternative to your usual Coke or Dr. Pepper. I’ve tried Gus’ Extra Dry Ginger Ale. A 12 ounce bottle has 90 calories and 22 grams of sugar. Compare this with other brands that typically have 125 calories and 32 grams of sugar per 12 ounces. Plus, Gus uses natural flavors such as real ginger root extract for its ginger ale. Not bad for an occasional sugary beverage, as in once per week at most!
Hopefully some of these suggestions will liven up your drinking routine or help you to get some diet soda out of your life. Cheers! 


A few days ago I officially kicked off summer with my first visit to a local beach. Looking around, I saw people snacking out of huge bags of Doritos or standing in line for hot dogs and fries at the vending stands.  These foods aren’t good for us in general. Do we really need to be eating mindlessly out of an endless bag of chips while we are doing nothing more than lounging in a beach chair?

During the lazy days of summer, it’s time to get smart about eating. Here are some tips to help keep you feeling better about yourself in a bathing suit during these summer months:

  • Bring your lunch and snacks.  Most of us haul a cooler to the beach or pool already, so why not fill it with healthy options? Make a turkey or roast beef sandwich with mustard or hummus and lettuce on whole grain bread. Bring cut up veggies and fruit, yogurt, nuts, or cheese sticks. Any of these items are a better choice than fried food.
  • Make your own snack bags.  It’s a dangerous idea to bring a large bag of chips to the beach. You are more prone to continuously dig in and can do some serious damage in the calorie department.  First, choose a healthier snack option such as pretzels, lower fat chips like Pop Chips, or mixed nuts. Portion them into snack-size zip lock bags at around 100-200 calorie portions. To be more “green”, invest in some small snack-size reusable containers and ditch the plastic bags. 
  • Invest in a large, soft cooler.  Soft, insulated coolers are lightweight and have a shoulder strap for easy transportation. Hard, plastic coolers are heavier and more cumbersome, making it tempting to leave it behind and forget about bringing your own food. 
  • Eat like you normally would eat at home or work.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re having a great day at the pool, why not eat “junk” the entire time you are there?  If you’re there around lunch time, have lunch like you normally would and perhaps a small snack a few hours later. Again, there is no need to load up on excess calories.
  • Sneak in some exercise. Swim, play ball, go for a long walk along the shore. You are outside and should take advantage of some calorie-burning fun time. 
The biggest takeaway is to plan ahead. Bringing your own food to the beach or pool doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Get things ready the night before. Find easier ways to carry them such as a lightweight cooler, or even invest in a push-cart or wagon to haul all your stuff. You would be surprised how following a few of these tips can save extra calories and, in the end, prevent the scale from creeping up on you this summer. 

Ahhh, cereal. When the warm weather hits, I tend to trade in my oatmeal for cereal. The only problem is, my cereal bowl can get a bit out of hand to the tune of 100-200 extra breakfast calories. Definitely not a good thing for bathing suit season.

Perhaps some of you can relate to my cereal dilemma. Using your larger-than-normal bowl you pour in some cereal. Next you throw in some fruit. Then you pour an endless stream of milk, hopefully skim or 1%.  If it’s 2% or whole milk, you’ve got even more problems with your cereal.

As a dietitian who counseled many clients on the importance of eating breakfast, I know that cereal can lead many into the high-calorie danger zone. Even me. Here are my tips when it comes to attempting a healthy cereal breakfast:

  • The bowl. Are your bowls short and shallow or wide and deep? If you have what seems like a bottomless cereal bowl, you really ought to measure your cereal. Mindlessly pouring cereal in a large bowl can easily add up to hundreds of calories before you even add milk or fruit. 
  • The type of cereal. You are much better off eating cereal that has protein, fiber, and is low in sugar (less than 8g per serving). Cereals with protein and fiber will keep you full longer. Special K may be a low calorie cereal, but it also has no fiber or protein, so you’ll most likely feel hungry shortly after eating it. You can find cereals that are good sources of protein and fiber in the organic or natural food aisle. And there are certainly some hiding in the regular cereal aisle. Brands like Kashi and Barbara’s offer some great choices. Be sure to always check the labels because even some of the healthier brands offer cereals that have little to no protein and fiber, as well as too much sugar. 
  • Make your cereal satisfying. If you’re eating breakfast at 6 AM and know you won’t be eating lunch until noon, you definitely want your cereal to satisfy you for several hours. Using a plain, low fat or nonfat yogurt instead of milk can increase the fullness factor, especially when using Greek yogurt which is typically higher in protein. Throw in a small banana and 1-2 tablespoons of sliced or crushed nuts for added fiber, protein, and fat.
  • Stick to the serving size.  Most cereal serving sizes are 3/4 to 1-1/2 cups.  Use a measuring cup and stick to the serving size. Without measuring you can easily pour out 2-3 servings of cereal. 
Don’t be afraid of cereal. It can be a satisfying and healthy breakfast when done properly. It can even make for a nice afternoon snack. Ever try mixing Kashi GoLean Crunch into some low-fat vanilla yogurt? It can also be a quick lunch alternative on hot days when the heat makes everything else seem less appetizing. 
Just remember: measure, use a smaller bowl, and go for cereals with more fiber and protein!
Apples are on the hit list for high pesticide residue

Perhaps you have heard of the “Dirty Dozen”. This is a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables that are notorious for harboring the highest level of pesticides. This list includes celery, apples, strawberries, peaches, and potatoes. Experts recommend when it comes to purchasing these foods, you are better off buying organic, thus avoiding high levels of pesticides.


The article How Dirty is the Dirty Dozen? (LA Times) attempts to answer if we need to go crazy buying only organic versions of the produce on this hit list. What will happen if we buy non-organic?  What are the top nutrition and food experts saying?


Some studies show a link between ingesting pesticides over the years and cancer, birth defects, nerve damage, lower IQ, and ADHD. But like so many other diseases and disorders, not enough studies have been done to definitively say pesticides are a major cause. While there may be a link between pesticides and these health issues, why not be safe and buy organic versions when possible? One drawback for many is that organic foods can carry a bigger price tag. It is another instance of paying more to be healthier.

When it comes to foods on the dirty dozen list, personally I opt for organic MOST of the time. But not ALL of the time. If I’m faced with eating a non-organic apple, I certainly won’t eat a sleeve of cookies instead because I’m afraid of pesticides. Eating the non-organic apple is a better choice than processed foods laced with saturated fat and sugar. When it comes to pregnant women, infants, and children, I think it is best to opt for organic as much as possible because here we are dealing with developing brains and bodies.

Purchasing organic produce to me is a better-safe-than-sorry scenario.  However, it’s important for consumers to realize certain truths about organic vs. non-organic foods:
  • “Organic” does not mean a food is 100% pesticide-free. The article mentions that pesticides are used on organic farms, but they are found in nature (not created chemically) and less toxic.
  • Organic foods are not lower in fat or calories, and do not have more vitamins and minerals. A non-organic apple and organic apple offer the same nutrients.
  • Organic foods may or may not be tastier than non-organic. I shop at several different grocery stores in my neighborhood. One store stands out above all the rest when it comes to organic produce. Perhaps this is because they get frequent, local shipments of the freshest produce and move them off the shelves quickly, whereas the other stores may have organic foods shipped from further away and perhaps sit on the shelves longer. 
  • Organic produce still needs to be washed. You never know who touched your fruits and vegetables before you bring them home.
  • It’s not necessary to make your entire grocery cart organic. For instance, you don’t need to buy organic cookies. But when it comes to some produce, dairy, and animal foods, organic may be a less toxic choice. 
Bottom line: Foods on the dirty dozen list may be worth investing extra cash for the organic version. But if you are thinking of cutting these foods out of your diet completely rather than invest more for organic, don’t! The benefits of eating the non-organic versions of foods like strawberries, potatoes, pears, apples, and spinach most likely outweigh the risks or avoiding these nutritious foods entirely. 

Most of us are fed up with hearing what they are NOT supposed to do when it comes to eating right.  I remember Oprah once told her viewers they should NOT eat past 6 PM in order to help with weight control. Well if Oprah said it, we better listen, right?

WRONG! I came across this article today, What Time Should I Stop Eating? (Fox News Latino), on the topic of how eating a late dinner will actually not make you fat if you do it the right way. This is something I’ve routinely preached to nutrition clients. As the article mentions, many people living in Latino and European countries eat dinner as late as 9 PM and do not have the same obesity issues we have here in the U.S. 

If you fall prey to late dinners, perhaps past 7 or 8 PM, this will not set you up for rapid weight gain. The problem with late night eating is that most people are not eating much during the day. In the U.S, we tend to skip breakfast, eat a sub-par lunch at our desks, and skip healthy snacking only to find ourselves starving at the end of the day. Suddenly we are eating two or three helpings of dinner, or so ravenous that we pick up fast food on the way home. Then we stay up late watching TV and continue with mindless snacking. We then wake up not feeling too hungry for breakfast because we just consumed about 75% of our daily calories the night before.
I have always told clients fearful of eating a late dinner that it is fine if you follow some guidelines. First, be sure you are eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, and healthy snacks in between. All of this eating should obviously be well balanced meals and within reasonable portion control. So no, I don’t mean grab a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, two slice of pizza for lunch, an ice cream cone for a snack, and then a burger and fries for dinner. What about a day like this:
Breakfast – 2 slices whole wheat toast with peanut butter
Morning snack – 1 banana
Lunch – Salad with grilled chicken, vinaigrette, and a side of whole grain crackers with hummus
Afternoon snack – Vanilla Greek yogurt with chopped strawberries mixed in
Dinner – Grilled salmon, wild rice, veggies
If you eat healthfully and space your meals and snacks out every 3-4 hours, eating a late dinner should not cause weight gain. Whether a person eats that dinner at 6 PM or 9 PM, it should not make a difference. The only thing I will caution is that if you eat a late dinner, no matter how healthy, and go to sleep in less than two hours, you may suffer from indigestion. You want to give your body enough time to digest food before going to sleep.
Hopefully for all of you getting home from work late and trying to be healthy, you will find this to be good news.

Photo: www.istockphoto.com


Tip: Refuel within 30 minutes after a race or long run!

Marathon season has started for some and just around the corner for others. Whether you are new to running or a veteran, most runners always have questions about proper fueling before, during and after long runs. Below are five questions frequently asked by all levels of runners related to eating and hydrating properly for long distance running. The answers are based on my nutrition expertise, counseling clients, and 13 years personal experience as a runner who is constantly fine-tuning my eating game plan.
Q: I’ve heard of gels, gummy blocks, and sport beans to eat during a long run. How do I know which will work for me?
A: When my father ran the New York City marathon in the 1970’s, runners drank flat Coca-Cola to power them through 26.2 miles. Now there are many fueling options including sports drinks, gels, sport beans, and gummy blocks. Their main purpose is to replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) for runs lasting over one hour. A general guideline is to consume these “sport” foods every 45-60 minutes of running, along with approximately 8 ounces of water to avoid cramping.
Regular foods are just as effective and less expensive than fancily packaged gels and sport beans. Try fig cookies, pretzels, Swedish fish or bananas.  Purchase snack-size zip lock bags for storing these snack foods on your run.  Be sure to test drive all new foods during your training runs and never wait until race day to try something new.  Race day is not the time to find out Swedish fish or GUs give you knife-stabbing belly cramps!
  Q: I wake up very early for my long runs and don’t have time to eat. As a result, I lose steam early in my run.  What and when should I eat before a long run?
A:  What and how soon you eat before a long run varies for everyone depending on your stomach’s sensitivity and how hard you push yourself. A general rule is to consume 200-400 calories about 2-3 hours before the start of the race. This meal should be mostly carbohydrates, such as a bagel with jam, a low-fiber cereal (e.g., Cheerios) with milk, a low-fiber and low-protein cereal bar (e.g., Natural Valley) or 1-2 frozen waffles with a little bit of syrup or jam.
Try to avoid high fiber, high protein and high fat foods before the long run or race. These foods take longer to empty out of your gut, thus leading to cramps. If you are planning a 3-hour run starting at 6 AM, eating 2-3 hours prior may be impossible. In this case, try eating half of a bagel with peanut butter as a nighttime snack and eat the other half the next morning one hour before your run. 
Q: I hear it’s important to replenish my body with a snack containing carbohydrates and protein directly after finishing a long run.  What can I do if my appetite isn’t there?
A:  A key to a speedy recovery after a long run is consuming mostly carbohydrates and some protein within 30 minutes of finishing. Many runners suffer from a lack of appetite in the first hour after a long run. Liquid replenishment or a small snack may be easier to handle than an entire meal.
Personally, I love chocolate milk made with low-fat or non-fat milk. It offers carbohydrates, protein, sodium, and potassium – all excellent for nursing sore muscles. Not to mention, chocolate milk is a lot cheaper than recovery drinks.
Other “lighter” recovery options include:
·      8-16 ounces of sports drink, or 100% fruit juice (stick to non-acidic juices like apple or cranberry juice)
·      1 slice bread with low-fat cream cheese, peanut butter or 1 slice of cheese
·      Pretzels and hummus
·      Smoothie made with non-fat yogurt, berries or sliced banana and a splash of juice
·      6 ounces low-fat yogurt
·      1 cup cereal with low- or non-fat milk
Q: I am gluten sensitive.  How can I get the carbohydrates I need in a pre-race meal if I can’t eat pasta?
A: Pasta is touted as the dinner of running champions. While it is a great fuel choice, pasta is not the only option. Try eating a lean protein and veggies with these gluten-free carbohydrate choices: white or jasmine rice, baked white or sweet potato, buckwheat noodles, quinoa or rice pasta. All of these are rich in carbohydrates but contain no gluten for those with gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease.
There is a great article in the November 2010 issue of Runners World, Wheat Index, with helpful hints for runners who need gluten-free fueling options.
 
Q:  I sweat profusely and dehydrate very easily.  Is there any way to train your body to store and use water more efficiently?
A:  Proper hydration is not just about what and how much you drink on your long run. It starts with what you drink each day.  If your urine is pale yellow to clear in color and you urinate approximately every 2-4 hours daily, then you most likely are drinking enough (Clark, 2007).
Water is an excellent hydration choice for runs up to one hour. If you’re planning to run longer than one hour, you are going to need sports drinks with added electrolytes (sodium and potassium), such Gatorade or PowerAde.  Gatorade Endurance contains higher levels of electrolytes than regular Gatorade and is great for runs lasting beyond two hours, especially on hot days.
If sports drinks don’t sit well in your stomach, you have other options. Use plain water for hydration in conjunction with eating salty foods during your run. Sodium is found in sport foods like Clif Shot Bloks and GUs.  Remember, you can also rely on regular, cheaper foods like pretzels, saltine crackers and salt packets.
Weighing yourself before and after a run will show how much water weight you lost, thus helping gauge how much fluid to take in for the next long run. For example:
You weigh yourself before and immediately after a run and discover you lost 3 pounds. 3 pounds x 16 ounces = 48 ounces of water and/or sports drink needed for the next long run.
These are simple guidelines to help get your feet running in the right direction. Keep in mind that no one meal, sport food, or method of hydration works for everyone. Long distance training is not only a time to prep your muscles for race day, but also to get in touch with your gut’s likes and dislikes. You can benefit greatly by meeting with a sports nutritionist to help tailor a customized eating plan for your race.
References:
Clark, N. (2007). Nancy Clark’s food guide for marathoners. Oxford, UK: Meyer & Meyer Sport.
Kadey, MG. (2010, November). Wheat index. Runners World, Retrieved from http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-242-301–13683-2-1-2,00.html

Photo: www.istockphoto.com

The weekend is here! French fries are a great weekend food. But we all know they are not so great for our arteries and waist line. Why not take a few extra minutes and make your own healthier version of fries? Try using sweet potatoes (or yams) and making baked fries.

Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, beta carotene (protect from cancer and boost immunity), and vitamin C (cancer-protective and increases the absorption of iron). Not to mention, they taste amazing, with a cross between a sweet dessert and an earthy dinner side dish.

You’ll save a extra fat and calories with this recipe:

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

2 large organic or regular sweet potatoes
2 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp sea salt (optional)
black pepper to taste
a few shakes of garlic and onion powder
a few shakes of smoked paprika (keep to about 2 tsp if you don’t want the paprika to overpower)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Wash, then cut the sweet potatoes into long strips, imitating the look of a thick steak fry. You can peel the potatoes first if you desire, but I personally love leaving the skins on for extra flavor and crunchiness. Toss onto a non-stick cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and the spices. Toss the potato strips to coat evenly with the oil and spices. Place in pre-heated oven and bake approximately 30 minutes. Halfway through, take a spatula and turn them over for even cooking. If you like them crispy, cook approximately 10 minutes longer.

Sweet potato fries go great with baked or grilled fish, barbecue chicken, turkey or bison burgers.  Baking them vs. frying eliminates trans fat, saturated fat and higher calories. Since sweet potatoes are sweet and bursting with flavor, you probably won’t need the ketchup, deleting more calories and sugar grams from your meal.

Enjoy!

Greek yogurt has taken grocery stores’ dairy aisles by storm. Higher in protein and lower in sugar, it’s a great alternative to standard flavored yogurts that are lower in protein and higher in sugar or use sugar substitutes. Plain Greek yogurt can play many roles in your daily cooking, such as a base for your favorite veggie dip or an alternative to sour cream on your potato.

If you are feeling a bit lazy or simply don’t have the time to whip up your own recipes, now Greek yogurt veggie dips can be found pre-made. One I have stashed in my fridge is Marzetti’s Otria Cucumber Dill Feta Greek yogurt dip. Two tablespoons are 60 calories, 5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 2 g carbohydrates, and 2 g protein.  The well-known FAGE Greek yogurt line also carries a veggie dip.

Don’t be limited to using this dip only as a partner to a crudites platter. Here are some other great ways to use Greek yogurt veggie dip, whether you made it yourself or bought it at the store:

  • Use it in place of mayo when you make tuna salad, egg salad, or as a mayo-like spread on any sandwich. 
  • Spread it on baked fish such as cod or salmon. Spread it on after the fish is baked to avoid drying out the yogurt.
  • Use 2 tablespoons as an alternative to salad dressing.
  • Mix into cooked veggies to add some zesty flavor.
  • Spread on crackers. 
The one downfall to the pre-made dips is that they tend to be higher in sodium. If you’re concerned about your salt intake, it’s not that hard at all to make your own version using herbs, spices, and low-fat plain Greek yogurt, hold the salt!

You may want to keep your eyes peeled for this latest trend:  duck fat. Have you ever gone to an amazing French restaurant and had the duck entree, with its crispy (yet very fatty) skin? My favorite was a smoked duck quesadilla my husband and I found at this fabulous little restaurant, The Brown Dog Cafe & Wine Bar, in Lake Placid, NY.

According to a recent LA Times article, Pour on the Duck Fat, In Moderation, this bird’s fat is the hottest thing to be considered as a fat replacement at gourmet restaurants. Its nutrition profile boasts a high unsaturated fat content and its chemical composition is close to that of olive oil. Plus, duck fat is extremely tasty (opinion inserted here).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrition Database lists duck fat weighing in at 62% unsaturated fat and 33% saturated fat. Duck’s saturated fat content is close to chicken at 30% and pork at 39%. So no, it’s not a huge difference when it comes to the artery-clogging, cholesterol boosting saturated fat. But it is a much better choice than cooking in butter, which is 50% saturated fat. Plus, duck fat has a whopping 62% of the heart-healthy unsaturated fat, of which other fat choices can’t compete, with the exception of olive oil.

The verdict is out whether duck fat is truly the most healthy fat alternative in cooking. For foodies and duck-loving die-hards, one can’t dispute the delicious and savory taste. For your health, give it a try and keep your eye out for future studies on its health benefits.