Referred to as “golden apple” in Greek mythology and meaning “precious” in Latin, apricots deserve way more glory than they receive. Often overshadowed by their fuzzy cousin, the peach, a fresh apricot has only 17 calories, 3 grams of sugar, and almost 1 gram of fiber. What a find! They are also high in potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C to boot, making this precious fruit an ideal low-calorie summer snack!
But before you reach for that package of dried apricots, I would encourage fresh fruit whenever possible because the fresh stuff contains significantly less sugar per serving. Dried fruit can be coated in a preservative, sulfite or sulfur dioxide, to maintain a bright color; many people have an intolerance to this preservative, experiencing head fog or head aches, wheezing, hives, and in some cases, anaphylaxis.
How to Pick
Apricots are easy to choose because they aren’t shy about showing signs of ripeness. Fresh apricots are a bright orange-gold color and slightly soft. They let off a strong, sweet smell when they’re to ready to eat. Avoid pale yellow or tinted green ones as they’re not quite ripe, and wrinkly apricots have gone bad.
How to Store
Keep in the refrigerator to avoid over-ripening. You can also preserve apricots in the freezer. If you purchase unripe apricots that are still hard, place them in a paper bag to speed up the ripening process. Just remember to check on them daily to evaluate whether or not they are ready to eat; they should take about two or three days.
When to Buy
Did you know that 90-95% of the world’s apricots are grown right in California? They have a very short season, but you can find them at their freshest from mid-May to mid-August, so get them while you still can.
Here are a few recipes to try:
- Goat Cheese Stuffed Apricots with Honey and Pecans by from Domestic Fits
- Grilled Apricot Halves on a bed of salad. Yum. My favorite! Check out this recipe on Cooking Light.
- Fruit Kebabs! Made with fresh or dried apricots, grapes, and any type of berry. Both kid and adult approved.
Have you gotten your apricot fix this Summer?
Co-written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN and Debi Zvi, RD, CDN
Edited by Tamara Cabrero
What do you think of when you hear the words detox and cleanse? Extreme Diet? Starvation? That really testy person at the office drinking something green? A healthy break from your favorite “bad” foods? The words detox and cleanse hold very different meanings depending on whom you ask. Today, they are typically associated with fads touted by those who are not qualified nutrition professionals, often celebrities. The popular notions tend to go hand in hand with extreme diets (remember The Master Cleanse?), the elimination of whole food groups (most juicing regimes), or significant and unhealthy calorie reduction, which is why most dietitians try to steer their clients away from “detoxing.” This isn’t because detoxification isn’t real—get this, it’s actually one of the processes our body does best! How else would we be able to handle the margaritas, hamburgers, and questionable dietary decisions after a long weekend?! Give a round of applause for your liver and kidneys!
While our bodies are performing detoxification functions on a daily basis, there is a lot we can do to support these processes, such as eating the right foods, proper portion control, hydrating, improving digestion and making better lifestyle choices (being active, practicing stress management). In some cases, aiding our bodies in detoxing can indicate dietary supplements but the theme here is balance, not extremes.
Detox In A Nutshell
This process depends on two main organs: your liver and the kidneys, but it’s really your liver that deserves most of the glory. Without going into too much detail, Phase 1 basically involves a family of enzymes breaking down and releasing toxins from your fat stores and metabolizing them further to water soluble molecules so that, in Phase 2 (also known as the “natural healing phase”) they can be excreted through urine, bile or stool. During detoxification, toxins are roaming in your blood stream, which can manifest as unpleasant symptoms like headaches, bad breath, skin outbreaks (acne, eczema, rashes), mucus buildup and changes in bowel movement or urinating patterns. All very attractive. But they proceed the “cleanse high”- when you actually feel the benefits of a good detox or cleanse program!
Detox vs. Cleanse
Although used interchangeably, they actually mean different things. Detoxification is the process of clearing toxins from the body or neutralizing them, i.e. ridding yourself of the excess “gunk.” Cleansing, on the other hand, involves eliminating culprits like trigger foods, additives and processed foods, while also introducing new and rejuvenating items to your diet, like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. As a Registered Dietitian, I encourage my clients to embrace the Detox+, a combination of ridding toxic substances while replenishing with healthy foods. Think of it as a whole-food based cleanse without the pesky hunger pangs or calorie counting that can lead to throwing a green juice at your boss’s head.
So Why Detox+?
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Inspired by a recipe from @VerdeyRebelde, these vegan cookies are so easy to make and (almost) guilt-free. They contain no milk, no eggs, no added sugars (except for a little stevia), and are gluten-free! Best part of it all is that you are in and out of the kitchen in 40 minutes, tops.
Ingredients (to make 10-12 cookies):
- 2 ripe bananas (some black spots are required!)
- 6 heaping tablespoons of rolled oats
- 1/3 cup of coconut flakes
- 1.75 to 2 oz of dark chocolate (preferably 70% cocoa)
- 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or sesame butter (for those with allergies)
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 - 2 packets of stevia (depending on your sweet tooth!)
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
- a pinch of salt
First crush the bananas with a fork. Mix in cinnamon, stevia, and baking soda. Then add nut or seed butter and mix. Start adding dry ingredients one a time- oats, coconut flakes, and lastly, the chocolate pieces. Use a spoon to scoop and make small cookie balls with your hands. Use small amount of coconut oil on a cookie tray. Cook for 22 to 25 minutes at a temperature of 325F. Enjoy!
Calories per cookie: 90 (no added sugars!)
Happy Saturday baking! Yum.
Holidays are a time to celebrate, and the Fourth of July is no exception! But you shouldn’t feel the need to sacrifice your health (or hard-earned beach bod) every time you attend a BBQ or go to a party. There are plenty of healthy and tasty alternatives to traditional BBQ fare – check out our posts on healthy BBQ tips from last year, including a recipe for delicious burgers. And don’t forget that healthy drinking is a huge part of healthy eating. Scroll down for a few of my sip tips and favorite, low-calorie cocktail recipes. Salud!
Okay, so maybe drinking isn’t necessarily part of a healthy diet, but if we’re going to indulge (be honest) we can at least be smart about it. By following some good drinking habits, such as those listed below, we can enjoy ourselves fully.
TIP 1: Have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink and slow down. Alcohol is a toxin, therefore your liver will always try to eliminate it first, bypassing food to process the alcohol. When you drink water, you give your liver a chance to “catch up,”plus there is no end to the benefits of water.
TIP 2: Ditch the added sugars. Mixed drinks (typically 12oz) are extremely caloric because they are loaded with sugar in addition to alcohol. For reference, a Dark & Stormy or a Margarita can range from 350 to 600 calories, respectively. Is that really worth it? By nixing the sugar, you will not only cut calories but also be able to taste the strength of the alcohol, which naturally slows you down.
TIP 3: Get creative with natural flavors. Using fruits, naturally sweet herbs, or flavored seltzers instead of sodas can add that tinge of sweetness or bite without the calories! My favorite flavor boosters: basil, mint, rosemary, cucumber, lemon, lime, lemon/lime zest, or orange slices.
An alternative to a vodka Bloody Mary. Who said you can’t get your veggies in a cocktail?!
Ingredients per drink:
- 6 ounces of beer such as Modelo Especial, Presidente, Aguila, or even Budweiser
- 4 ounces of V8 (my pick is the spicy hot, low sodium)
- 1 twig of rosemary
- A few slices of cucumber
- Stick of celery
- 3 drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)
Instructions: Pour beer into a cold glass or frosty mug with ice. Make sure to add beer at a 45-degree angle to avoid foam. Add garnish and Tabasco. Top off with V8 juice. Mix and sip. Calories: 95 per drink.
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I am excited about CSA! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s exactly that. It gives you the opportunity to buy a “share” of fresh produce (like eggs, meat, and dairy) from a local farmer before the start of the season. You are essentially investing in a future crop. It’s a great and easy way for city dwellers to reap the nutrition and flavor benefits of high quality, fresh foods for pennies on the dollar while also supporting local agriculture!
How CSAs Work
- CSAs typically offer amazing food throughout the warmer months. The “share” is purchased upfront to ensure that the farmer can adequately prepare for the season. Buy your share in March or April and get your bounty from June to October/November.
- The farm you have chosen will deliver your share of produce to a convenient drop-off location on a prearranged schedule. CSA distribution sites vary but can be found all over the city, from gardens, and markets to housing developments and restaurants.
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Bushwick Nutrition turned 2 yesterday!!!! Holly moly! So far, Bushwick Nutrition has been a tool to disseminate information on current nutrition topics as well as old favorites (90 posts so far!). In the coming year, I look forward to participating more in the community. I want Bushwick Nutrition to be a go-to resource for diet and nutrition in the neighborhood. Looking forward!
Picture taken at Bushwick Open Studios 2014. If you haven’t been, stay tuned for next year! Love The Bushwick Collective.
Strawberries are the most cultivated berry in the country, and lucky for us in the Northeast, they are the first fruit to ripen in spring and early summer. These delicious heart-shaped fruits are naturally sweet and simply jam-packed with healthy nutrients such as fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin C and phytochemicals. Here are a few of their benefits:
- Fiber helps us feel fuller, longer (increasing satiety)
- Folate lowers our homocysteine blood levels and therefore aids in heart health
- Vitamin C helps support a healthy immune system
- Potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure
- Phytochemicals, specifically flavonoids, give strawberries their bright color and contain cancer-fighting properties
One cup of strawberries has only 45 calories, absolutely no fat, zero sodium, 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of natural sugars and 1 gram of protein. Strawberries also give any dish a punch of color and are generally considered people pleasers, satisfying even the pickiest of eaters—you know who you are!
How To Buy Strawberries
I don’t usually push for shopping organic, but in this case, I definitely recommend choosing local or organic strawberries if possible. Strawberries are #2 on the Dirty Dozen List for 2014, which means they are on the top tier of produce that has the highest amount of pesticides. Their skin is so thin that pesticides can easily slip in and are hard to clean out; research has even shown that conventionally grown strawberries are lower in cancer-fighting phytochemicals! Nothing beats fresh, local berries, but frozen works just as well in a pinch.
Outside the Box Strawberry Recipes
Sweet and savory meets the strawberry. Give strawberry, balsamic vinegar and basil ice pops a shot! Balsamic Vinegar, a naturally acidic food, provides a great tartness that pairs beautifully against the natural sweetness of strawberries. See recipe below!
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May is National Egg Month! Even though eggs (or should we say, egg yolks) are nutrient powerhouses, they have gotten a bad rap—mostly due to their dietary cholesterol content and its presumed link to heart disease. Here’s what you need to know…
Eggstra Special Nutrition
Eggs contain the most bioavailable protein of any food on earth—7 grams of protein per large egg, to be exact. They are loaded with 13 vitamins and minerals and all for a measly 70 calories!
Research suggests that even though a whole egg has approximately 212 mg of cholesterol per large egg yolk, it has a marginal impact on our blood cholesterol, unless you have diabetes. Interestingly, it’s the types of fats in our diets (saturated vs. unsaturated) that influence our total cholesterol—lousy cholesterol (LDL) and healthy cholesterol (HDL)—more than the cholesterol found in foods.
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So proud to work for the Center for Comprehensive Wellness within Columbia University Medical Center. It was the first integrative program in pediatric oncology that fused complementary therapies (i.e. Acupuncture, massage, meditation, yoga, nutrition, herbs, dietary supplements) within the framework of conventional care. Pretty amazing.
Scroll down to page 13 to learn more about the program, and to see a picture of one of the cutest patients I’ve ever worked with. When she saw her picture in the magazine, she yelled out… "I’m famous!" Priceless.
We all know calcium builds strong bones, but did you know that it isn’t the only major participant when it comes to bone health? A balanced diet and good nutrition are essential for healthy bones. Calcium is a team player that acts best with other nutrients, like vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and potassium. And let’s not underestimate the importance of exercise—especially weight-bearing exercises. Weight training and cardio activities such as swimming, squats, taking the stairs, Tai Chi and walking will help to improve bone strength and prevent hip fractures. During Osteoporosis Prevention Month, I want to share some tips for preserving strong bones at any age!
What is Osteoporosis & What Are the Risk Factors?
Osteoporosis is a condition that makes your bones weak and, therefore, more likely to break. It’s known as the silent disease because you may not know you have it until you break a bone. Ouch! Approximately 10 million people over the age of 50 have osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone density, known as osteopenia, which puts them at high risk for developing osteoporosis. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but there are certain factors that put you at higher risk:
- Getting older- Over 50 years of age and especially women after menopause
- Being a white or an Asian woman. Eighty percent of the people who have osteoporosis are women and women are four times more likely to get it than men
- Being small and thin
- Genetics- Having a family history of osteoporosis
- Taking certain medicines, such as steroids
- Excess fat around the belly- New research even suggests that excess liver and muscle fat, independent of BMI, age and exercise, is detrimental to the strength of the bones
The Nutrition Lowdown
1.) Eat it to beat it: Choose foods rich in calcium, not just dairy. Even though increased dairy consumption has been consistently associated with lower rates of osteoporosis and better bone health, you can get calcium from many other sources. The recommended calcium intake for adults is 1000-1200 mg per day, dependent on age. Estimate your average intake and fill in the gap with a supplement, if necessary. But remember, too much calcium is counterproductive!
- Fish, such as bone-in sardines, anchovies, salmon
Leafy greens, like kale, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula, Bok Choy, broccoli rabe
- Low-fat to full-fat dairy products (preferably Organic or local), such as yogurt, milk, cheese, kefir
- Foods fortified with calcium, like orange juice, breakfast cereals, non-dairy milk alternatives (almond, rice, soy, coconut), breads or instant oatmeal
- Bone broth
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