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Organic produce becomes mainstream

(BPT) – The organics category is becoming mainstream, as it is purchased by shoppers across all demographics. Recently, the category grew in just about every measurable way: in volume, dollars spent, and even in conversations in the media.

When consumers dabble in organic produce, they are more likely to purchase organic goods throughout the entire store and outside the store—like organic snacks or organic cotton sheets. This means it is important for retailers that sell organic products across departments to pay attention to trends in organic produce.

The organic shopper

Casual shoppers are the segment adding growth to the organic category, meaning that sometimes they purchase organic produce, and sometimes they purchase conventional.

“Organics are becoming mainstream, and shoppers are beginning to choose organic items over conventional items,” says Michael Castagnetto, vice president of sourcing for Robinson Fresh. “In our survey with U.S. consumers who buy produce, we found that 51 percent of respondents purchased organic produce and of those, 73 percent purchased both conventional and organic produce during the same trip.”

Research indicated that the organic shopper of today is most likely under the age of 35 or has young children living at home. Organic purchases are also highly correlated to household income.

When it comes to tailoring a shopping experience, it’s important to target Millennials because of their enormous commercial force, but consider the preferences of all generations. Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers all show a preference for organic produce as a destination within the store.

Why organic is becoming mainstream

“In the past, purchasing anything organic was an emotional-based purchase,” continues Castagnetto. “However, for today’s casual shopper, organic purchases are increasingly becoming more of an impulse purchase. The way that produce is merchandised makes a difference in how consumers make purchasing decisions.”

How organic produce is purchased

Organic items are an impulse purchase more than 30 percent of the time. Within the organics category, impulse purchases are two times more likely on items that index higher as healthy snacking options—such as berries and grapes. Here are the top 4 factors driving impulse organic purchases:

* The freshness and quality of the produce: 73 percent of respondents ranked this as a top driving factor

* The price of the produce: 61 percent of respondents rank this as a top driving factor

* The packaging the produce comes in

* Whether the organic produce is locally grown

To learn about who is buying organic produce and gain insight into the reasons why those consumers are choosing organic, Robinson Fresh(R) conducted a survey with U.S. consumers who buy produce—both conventional and organic. The full survey results can be found at www.robinsonfresh.com.

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Age ferociously with this eating game plan

(BPT) – A healthy diet and lifestyle are our best weapons against age-related diseases, and for staying healthy and active throughout life.

Becci Twombley is sports dietitian for USC Athletics and Angels Baseball, overseeing the nutrition of 650 collegiate athletes and the 200 MLB and minor league baseball players within the Angels organization. The healthy practices she employs to keep her athletes fighting strong also apply as preventative measures for staying fit and active as we age.

“It’s vital at any age to adopt good habits to live a long and healthy life,” says Twombley. “Exercise and move 30 minutes a day and along with that, pay attention to what you put in your body.” Twombley’s prevention plan against age-related illnesses and conditions starts with a “food first” approach.

Diet has a profound impact on two of the leading causes of age-related illnesses and conditions: inflammation and being overweight, according to Twombley. “Maintaining a healthy heart and blood vessels are two of the most important things anyone can do, along with keeping one’s weight under control.”

Eating a healthy diet does not need to be a chore, she claims. It is all a question of smart choices. Picking the right foods not only makes a difference in health risks, but also positively affects performance throughout the day at work and at home. While the answer is not in a single food, or even a handful, adding nutrient-rich foods like these Twombley recommends, and calls the “All Americans” of the functional food group, is part of a winning game plan.

Pistachios

Pistachios are a multitasking nut that has proteins and healthy fats, as well as three types of antioxidants. Those antioxidants help to decrease blood pressure and allow for good muscle recovery. Large population studies show that people who regularly eat nuts, such as pistachios, have a substantial lower risk of dying from heart disease or suffering a heart attack. Pistachios may protect from heart disease in part by improving blood cholesterol levels. Pistachios contain relatively high levels of the amino acid L-arginine, which maintains the arteries’ flexibility and enhances healthy blood flow by boosting nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes blood vessels. They’re also good for the eyes and skin, and have been found to positively promote weight maintenance.

Cherry juice

Twombley serves tart cherry juice to her athletes after their workouts as its targeted antioxidants help with muscle recovery, improving recovery time. In addition, it boosts sleep quality to help prevent anxiety and stress later on in the day.

Greek yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is a nutrient-packed snack that has many health benefits. High in protein, it can boost energy and muscle mass, which decreases as we age. It can also benefit digestive health if it contains probiotics. Check the label to see if it contains live and active cultures.

Beets

The deep red root vegetable increases the size of blood vessels, thereby improving the flow of oxygen that can get to muscles and tissues. For anyone with high blood pressure or suffering from cardiovascular disease, this is a good food to include.

Milk

A good hydration beverage that has protein, vitamin D and calcium like we often hear, milk also contains electrolytes for good muscle contraction.

Salmon and grass-fed beef

Both of these are high in omega-3, which is a really good healthy fat profile for overall heart health. They also decrease inflammation in the long term. Inflammation causes a lot of the diseases we fear as we age, whether it’s diabetes or cardiovascular health.

Beyond these foods Twombley identifies, the noted nutritionist has more tips for healthy eating.

* Look for different colors of foods at different times. Make sure they’re incorporated throughout the day.

* Eat often and in a good portion size.

* Shop for high quality whenever possible and pay attention to ingredients.

* Maintain balance. Make sure your plate has carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat in the correct amounts. Add fruits and vegetables to that to get the antioxidants.

* And finally, have a plan. Plan out what you’re going to eat that day and stick to it.

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5 baby formula myths debunked

(BPT) – The MythBusters on TV’s Discovery channel tackled hundreds — if not thousands — of myths in their 19 seasons on the air, but many questions still surround one topic never covered: infant feeding. Baby feeding has many pervasive myths, especially about infant formula. Here are five of those myths debunked by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, family physician and co-author of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year:

Myth 1: Breast is best.

Fact: It depends on the mother and her baby. Baby formulas are a completely acceptable, doctor-approved and time-tested option when feeding baby. Breastfeeding is hard. It seems like it should be natural and easy, but so often it isn’t. A recent study conducted by Perrigo Nutritionals found more than half of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby with low breast milk supply being the top concern. Additionally, while only 18 percent of new moms expect to introduce infant formula to baby during the first three days of life, in reality 45 percent relied on infant formula during those first days. If you experience breastfeeding challenges, look to formula as an ally — it can be used as a supplement while breastfeeding to provide some relief or used exclusively depending on mom and baby’s needs. Also, know that you can find help and support. Consider talking with a friend who has nursed her babies, your pediatrician, a lactation consultant or a local La Leche League.

Myth 2: You have to sterilize your baby’s bottles.

Fact: You do not need to sterilize your baby’s bottles. This is another time saver for you! You should sterilize new bottles and nipples before you use them for the first time. Simply put them in boiling water for five minutes. After that first time, however, you probably don’t need to sterilize them again.

Instead, you can run bottles and nipples through the dishwasher. Or if you’re “old school,” wash them in hot, soapy water. Rinse them carefully to remove any soap residue.

Myth 3: Babies prefer warm formula.

Fact: Not necessarily. It’s perfectly fine to feed your baby formula at room temperature (as long as it’s freshly prepared), or even a little cool from the refrigerator. Your baby is most likely to prefer his or her formula at a consistent temperature. In other words, if you start warming it you’ll probably have to continue warming it.

Here’s an easy way to warm your baby’s bottle: Set the filled bottle in a container of warm water and let it stand for a few minutes. Check the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist before feeding it to your baby. It should feel lukewarm, not hot.

Myth 4: Measuring formula isn’t a big deal — just “eyeball it.”

Fact: The instructions for preparing your baby’s formula are important. Follow the directions on the label carefully. If you put too little water in your baby’s formula, it can give baby dehydration or diarrhea. If you put too much water in the formula, you’re watering it down and your baby isn’t getting enough nutrients. It’s critical to measure carefully each and every time.

Myth 5: Brand-name formula is best.

Fact: Nationally advertised, brand-name formula and store-brand formula are practically identical but have different effects on your family budget! Did you know all infant formulas sold in the United States must meet the same FDA standards and offer complete nutrition for baby? That means store-brand formula is nutritionally comparable to nationally advertised brands. In fact, store-brand formula is clinically proven to support baby’s growth and development and proven to be just as well tolerated by your baby as those other brands.

So, what’s the main difference? Store-brand formulas cost less because they don’t spend millions of dollars on marketing. Think about all the ads you see on TV and all the samples that get handed out in doctors’ offices. In the case of those big brands, those marketing costs are passed on to you in the form of a higher price tag on each container of formula.

Once you get into the groove of feeding your baby, it will all feel like second nature. And then it will almost be time to give up the bottle!

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Looking for balance? Fighting fatigue? Your diet might be a place to start

(BPT) – Adults today are constantly searching for balance in life. While balance can be broadly defined, in simple terms it is rooted in equal proportions. The human body demands an equilibrium in order to sustain proper mental, physical and spiritual health. But, achieving balance can be difficult when everyday personal and environmental stresses (such as work, poor diet, harsh sunlight and pollution) expose the body to cell-damaging oxidative stress.

The obstacles to reaching balance are only growing due to shifting lifestyle choices. Today’s adults are active and trying to cram more into a 24-hour day than ever before. In fact, fatigue is a common issue for working adults.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of adults are not getting the nutrients they need to keep their bodies properly fueled to meet the demands faced in a single day. In fact, according to a survey from Instantly, more than 53 percent of Americans skip breakfast at least once a week, while 12 percent never have breakfast at all. The World Health Organization recommends eating at least 400 grams, or five servings, of fruits and vegetables per day, but approximately 75 percent of people worldwide fail to meet that minimum recommendation, creating significant nutrient gaps.

Let’s face it, it can be tough to eat a healthy and well-balanced meal morning, noon and night. For that reason alone, supplements, which fill in nutrient gaps, can ensure you get the right quantities and varieties of nutrients your body needs. Supplements are becoming a critical part of the everyday routine for those looking to do it all and still ensure optimal nutrition. When you incorporate the adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals into your diet, particularly plant-based supplements that add phytonutrients, you can easily fill nutrient gaps and achieve optimal nutrition. By following a few easy steps, you can be on the path to achieving balance.

Educate yourself on your body’s needs

The first step in achieving nutritional balance is understanding the nutrients your body needs to function properly. Knowing what phytonutrients are, and the health benefits associated with them, is key. Phytonutrients are nutrients found in fruits, vegetables and other sources. They are associated with a variety of health benefits, such as eye, bone, joint and heart health, as well as supporting the immune system and brain health. Many phytonutrients are also powerful antioxidants that help fight cell-damaging free radicals.

Taking a multivitamin or multi-mineral supplement each day is a great way to fill in nutrient gaps. Amway’s Nutrilite Double X, for example, is a supplement that delivers a comprehensive and balanced range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to help your body’s natural antioxidant defense mechanisms fight cell-damaging free radicals and support whole body health. Nutrilite Double X contains 12 essential vitamins, 10 essential minerals and phytonutrients from 22 fruits, vegetables and herbs sourced from plants grown on Nutrilite-certified organic farms and Nutricert-certified supplier farms.

The vitamin B family is made up of eight B vitamins, each of which helps your body form energy. Your body requires a regular supply of B vitamins in order to support energy-yielding metabolism. Most importantly, B vitamins need to be taken in the right amounts and at the right times. Amway’s Nutrilite Vitamin B Dual-Action supplement provides your body with an instant and extended release of B vitamins to create and sustain energy within the body. Knowing when to take vitamins and supplements and the right quantities you need is critical to achieving optimal health.

“Amway’s Nutrilite Double X supplement is strategically designed to provide key vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients your body needs,” said Steve Missler, Principal Research Scientist at Amway. “Together with Vitamin B Dual-Action, these two products help provide the body with the quality nutrients needed to function properly and maintain a healthy balance. However, as with all nutrition plans, it is important to consult with a medical professional or health expert to determine your specific nutritional needs.”

Achieve nutrient balance

When it comes to finding the right supplement, another tip is to look for third-party verifications of product quality. Nutrilite Double X and Vitamin B Dual-Action supplements are certified by NSF International, an independent, accredited organization that conducts rigorous tests to assure consumers that products contain what is stated on the label.

It is important to ensure that the supplement you choose is also gentle on your stomach. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast along with a supplemental source of phytonutrients and B vitamins can help ensure you get optimal nutrition throughout the day.

Achieving nutrient balance and fighting fatigue do not need to be uphill battles. Coffee and energy drinks can be effective for short-term needs, but are not the solution. There are many ways to proactively supplement your diet with the nutrients you need and to help fight fatigue before it begins. Supplements are an easy, safe and effective way to ensure you get enough vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, while also ensuring you get the right B vitamins to help fight fatigue. Jump start your day with essential phytonutrients and B vitamins and help your body endure your active life.

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Fighting the morning clock? 9 no-fail ways to get out the door on time

(BPT) – As the sun shines through the curtains, you hit the snooze button again. Suddenly you bolt up, realizing you’re running late. You skip breakfast, grab your bag and rush out the door. Stress levels skyrocket and your day has barely begun.

The race against the clock at the start of the day is a common problem. Mornings shouldn’t be difficult and certainly not something you dread. To get out the door on time and with a grin on your face, consider these nine no-fail tips.

Bedtimes aren’t just for kids: A great morning starts the night before. A regular bedtime is as important for adults as it is for children. Go to bed with the goal of getting seven to nine hours of sleep, as is recommended for adults by the National Sleep Foundation.

Use the night prior to your advantage: Mornings flow smoothly when you do a lot of prep work the evening before. That means select outfits, pack bags and backpacks, and organize any paperwork before you hit the hay.

Stock the fridge for health and convenience: It’s always smart to have delicious and nutritious ingredients in your fridge like fresh fruits, veggies and eggs. Eggs are especially versatile and packed with nutrition. Look for eggs with added nutritional benefits like Eggland’s Best eggs. In a hurry? Try Eggland’s Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs for a ready-to-eat lunch or snack.

Meal prep on Sunday: Another fridge-friendly tip is to do Sunday prep for the week. For example, chop up veggie spears or fruits and place in individual containers for easy grab-and-go snack options to pair with your hard-cooked eggs.

Learn to love the alarm: Rather than just setting one alarm for waking up, try setting several to keep your morning routine on track. For example, set one for when it’s time for breakfast and another as a five-minute warning for departure.

Eliminate distractions: The fewer distractions you have, the better your chances of meeting the morning clock. That means resist the urge to check your smartphone or have a rule that the TV remains off until all morning tasks are complete.

Check it and forget it: It can be highly effective to make a specific list with morning to-do’s for you and your family members. As each task is complete, you get the satisfaction of marking it off your list, plus it keeps the morning moving quickly.

Adjust your attitude: A positive attitude doesn’t only start your day out on the right foot, it can also help you stay focused so when you’re racing against the clock, you win every time (and with a smile on your face).

Don’t forgo breakfast: The most important meal of the day doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Make-ahead breakfasts and easy recipes are your key to a delicious morning without running late.

These delicious Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls will fuel your family throughout the day with superior nutrition. By choosing Eggland’s Best eggs, you get six times more vitamin D, 25 percent less saturated fat, more than double the omega-3s and vitamin B12, and 10 times more vitamin E than ordinary eggs.

Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1-inch cubes

1 green pepper, seeded then chopped into 1-inch chunks

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

3 green onions, chopped

toppings: tortilla chips, salsa, avocado

6 individual-sized containers with lids

PREPARATION

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. On a large baking sheet, place potatoes, peppers and onions in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt and ground black pepper. Toss until evenly coated.

3. Roast for about 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender, stirring and rotating pan halfway through cooking.

4. Meanwhile, crack Eggland’s Best eggs into a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then spray with nonstick spray and add eggs.

6. Scramble until the eggs are just barely cooked through and still slightly glossy, then scoop onto a plate and set aside.

7. Divide the potatoes and scrambled eggs evenly between the containers, then set aside to cool.

8. Once cool, sprinkle with cheese and green onions, then cover and refrigerate. Freeze any portions that aren’t eaten within three days.

9. To reheat from frozen: microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, then stir and continue microwaving until food is reheated, stirring between intervals. Top with optional toppings, then serve.

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7 ways to snack like a pro this football season

(BPT) – Football season is quickly approaching, which means it will soon be time for tailgating or watching the big game on TV. For many of us, this time of year is tough on our diet and exercise plans, but it doesn’t have to be, according to Bryan Snyder, registered dietitian and director of team nutrition for the Denver Broncos.

Snyder, who is responsible for keeping the year-round nutrition strategies for the team’s players on track, also knows the pitfalls for fans. “Nutrition goals can fall by the wayside when leisure time includes snacking or party fare,” Snyder says. “We tend to make poor choices when it comes to snacking, earning it a bad rap. But in fact, by picking healthy and tasty options, anyone can come out a winner on game day.”

Snyder recommends these tips for better snacking in his healthy eating playbook for football season and throughout the year.

1. Plan ahead.

Cut and slice your fruits and vegetables the day before you plan on eating them. That way when you find yourself hungry and ready for a snack, you will already have the hard part finished. Grab your pre-cut veggies and dip them in low-fat ranch dressing or hummus to help get you through the day. This is a great way to add some healthy vegetables to your tailgate menu. Perhaps you could make a strawberry banana smoothie with Greek yogurt the night before and leave the pitcher in the refrigerator for a quick grab-and-go snack as you run out the door.

2. Snack on foods that are healthy and will fill you up.

How many times do we eat a snack and 10 minutes later we’re hungry? The perfect snack strikes a great balance of healthy carbohydrates along with protein, fiber and antioxidants. One of the healthiest and best snacks is pistachios. With 1 ounce of pistachios, you get 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, healthy fats and 6 percent of your daily value of iron. Plus, pistachios contain antioxidants, which help our immune systems stay strong and fight off diseases. One serving of pistachios contains only 160 calories.

3. Aim for whole grains.

The last thing you probably think about as you get ready for the big game is setting out snacks that contain whole grains. However, eating whole grains may reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases like heart diseases, and incorporating whole grains isn’t as hard as it seems. One option you could have available is whole grain crackers and cheese. Try whole grain Wheat Thins instead of potato chips as a healthy substitution.

4. Stay hydrated with water.

Our bodies have a difficult time distinguishing between being hungry or thirsty. Often, we feel like we are hungry when in reality we simply may be thirsty and/or dehydrated. One study found that people who drink water 20-30 minutes before starting their meals eat about 75 fewer calories per meal. Considering we may be snacking for three hours while watching the game, these calories will add up.

5. Replace fatty protein with lean proteins.

Hamburger sliders are a staple of many tailgating menus across the country, but sometimes we just want a good burger. While eating a fatty hamburger in moderation isn’t the worst thing in the world, there are certainly some leaner options to choose. Instead of going to the grocery store and picking up the first piece of beef available to grill for the game, look at either a leaner beef option or a different meat altogether. For example, a better option for protein would be a 97 percent lean ground beef to make sliders or hamburgers. Another option would be to simply choose ground turkey instead of ground beef to make patties to throw on the grill.

6. Don’t be afraid of veggies.

Despite what your buddies may think, it is not against the law to eat vegetables at a tailgate party. More than likely, there will be some grilling before the big game. Don’t be afraid to throw some zucchini, mushrooms or even asparagus on the grill to complement the other items you are cooking. You can also chop up some veggies and serve with low-fat ranch dressing or hummus.

7. Have a backup plan

You might be heading to the game on Saturday or Sunday, and you plan on meeting up with some friends before the game to tailgate. In this case, you may have zero healthy choices to pick from while you are snacking and eating before the game. It is always good to have a backup plan. Healthy bars, nuts or a piece of whole fruit are easy and portable so you have a go-to backup plan. Trail mix and pistachios are easy to throw in your bag for the game or to have around your house for a snack. Plan ahead and bring some small snacks with you, so you don’t indulge in hours of unhealthy snacking, like my Pistachio and Date Energy Bites (recipe below). Great for tailgating, this portable and delicious snack is healthy and gives a great variety of protein and antioxidants to not only fill you up, but give you an immune system boost as well.

Pistachio and Date Energy Bites

Serves 20-25

Ingredients:

1 cup dried cherries

8 ounces dates

1/2 cup local honey

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon flax meal

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup pistachios (shelled)

Pinch of Kosher salt

3/4 cup pistachios (Finely ground)

Instructions:

Combine dates, honey, chia seeds, flax meal and salt in food processor and mix. Add small amount of honey if it’s too thick.

Remove and add to mixing bowl. Incorporate pistachios, cherries, oats and dark chocolate chips, and mix until combined.

Use desired portion scoop or portion by hand. Roll bites in finely ground pistachios, coating the whole bite. Store in the refrigerator.

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Mangos bring families together around the world

(BPT) – Ayesha Curry was raised by great women who instilled in her a passion for cooking. This passion has helped Ayesha both launch her career and prioritize spending time with her family in the kitchen. But even as a celebrity chef, author and foodie, Ayesha sometimes struggles to think of new, wholesome and delicious meals to bring to her table. When she finds herself needing a little food inspiration, Ayesha turns to the experiences and flavors of her childhood.

Mango love runs deep

Ayesha grew up with a Jamaican grandmother who had mango trees in her backyard, so eating and cooking with the fruit reminds her of home. A lot of people don’t know this, but mango is the world’s most popular fruit and iconic in many cuisines across the globe. While its sweetness and versatility make it a perfect addition to any favorite dish, mango is also delicious on its own and is often simply paired with the spices of the country.

In Ayesha’s home, not only does everyone love mango for its incredible flavor, but because it’s a superfruit. At 100 calories per cup, mangos are packed with vitamins and nutrients, and are a good source of fiber, making them a perfect food for any family.

Make it with mango!

When Ayesha is in the mood for something special and with a little cultural flare, she whips up her Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Skewers and Mango Salsa. Jerk chicken is a family-favorite recipe for Ayesha, and adding the sweet flavor of mango gives it a delicious twist.

Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Skewers with Mango Salsa

Servings: 4-6 skewers

Ingredients:

Mango Salsa

2 cups mango, chopped

1/4 cup red onion

1/4 cup cilantro

1/2 tbs lime juice

1 tsp jalapeno, finely diced

1/4 tsp salt and pepper

Jerk Chicken Rub & Skewers

3 cloves minced garlic

3 tbs olive oil

1 shallot, finely minced

1 tbs fresh thyme leaves, finely minced

1 tbs brown sugar

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground clove

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 pound chicken breast, cubed

Skewers, soaked in water

Instructions:

Mango Salsa

Combine all ingredients. Let sit and allow flavors to meld while you prepare the chicken.

Jerk Chicken Rub & Skewers

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Coat cubed chicken well with the rub. Marinate for 30 minutes or more. Skewer 4-6 pieces of chicken per stick. Cook on a grill pan at medium high heat. Turn frequently to avoid burning. Cook for about 15 minutes or until juices run clear. Place the chicken on or off the skewer and spoon the Mango Salsa on top.

Get your hands on a perfect mango

Mangos are available year-round, so you can always get your hands on a perfect mango. If you’d like to make mango your go-to ingredient, here are some tips and tricks Ayesha shares with family and friends:

  • Selection. To find a ripe mango, just squeeze gently. A ripe mango will be slightly soft like a peach or avocado.
  • Ripening. Keep unripe mangos at room temperature. Once ripe, mangos can be moved to the refrigerator to slow down ripening for several days.
  • Cutting. To cut a mango, simply slice off the sides of the fruit, avoiding the large seed in the center. Once you have these two sides, you can slice or dice as needed. Then, simply scoop it out of the skin. You can also cut around the seed to get two extra slices of mango and let your kids gnaw on the seed!

Mangos at the grocery store

While there are many mango varieties to covet, Ayesha’s kids love Honey mangos because they’re super sweet and creamy! Here’s a quick look at the most common mango varieties you’ll find in U.S. grocery stores:

Honey. Sweet, creamy and vibrant yellow. Small wrinkles appear when fully ripe. Peak availability is March – June.

Francis. Rich, spicy and sweet, with yellow skin and green overtones. Peak availability is April – June.

Haden. Rich in flavor with fine fibers, often bright red with green and yellow overtones. Peak availability is March – May.

Keitt. Sweet and fruity, with juicy flesh, limited fibers and green skin. Peak availability is July – September.

Kent. Sweet and rich, dark green mangos with red blush. Peak availability is December – February and June – August.

Tommy Atkins. Mild and sweet, these dark red mangos are the most widely grown variety coming into the U.S. Peak availability is March – July and September – October.

Who will you share the mango love with today?

Learn More

Visit www.mango.org for additional information on mango nutrition, selection tips, cutting methods and much more.

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4 surprising health benefits of cherries – this summer’s superfruit

(BPT) – Have you ever said no to a cherry? Probably not. This summertime treat is simply delicious. And if you’re looking for another reason to indulge, you’ll be pleased to know that cherries are surprisingly good for you. Recent research indicates that this summer’s superfruit offers a variety of health benefits, including the four outlined below.

Reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes

Heart disease and diabetes threaten the health of millions of Americans every year, and cherries can help. Research from Michigan State University found that 20 cherries provide 25 milligrams of anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation by shutting down the enzymes that cause tissue inflammation. This helps protect the arteries from the damage that leads to heart disease. Further research shows that those same anthocyanins also help lower blood sugar levels in animals, leading scientists to speculate that a similar blood sugar lowering effect could occur in humans.

In addition to being packed with anthocyanins, cherries also have a low glycemic index, making them a good choice for people with diabetes. Foods with a high glycemic index cause blood glucose to soar and then quickly crash. In contrast, foods with a low index, like cherries, release glucose slowly and evenly, helping you maintain a steady blood sugar level — as well as leaving you feeling full longer and potentially helping you maintain a healthy weight.

Combating arthritis and gout

More than 8.3 million Americans suffer from gout, a form of arthritis characterized by severe pain, redness and tenderness in the joints. This condition is commonly associated with elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. A study conducted by researchers at the University of California at Davis found that people who ate sweet cherries showed reduced levels of uric acid. In addition, research from the Boston University School of Medicine showed that people who ate cherries had a 35 to 75 percent lower chance of experiencing a gout attack.

Sleep support via melatonin

Everyone understands the value of a good night’s sleep, but sometimes your body simply doesn’t want to cooperate. When you find yourself wide awake and restless, your melatonin levels might be low. Melatonin is the chemical that controls your body’s internal clock to regulate sleep and promote overall healthy sleep patterns. Studies show that cherries are a natural source of melatonin, and researchers who have studied the melatonin content of cherries recommend eating them an hour before bedtime to help stabilize your sleep cycle.

Fiber for weight loss

Many Americans struggle with weight issues, and poor diet is often identified as a major culprit. But although there is a great deal of discussion about what people shouldn’t be eating, there isn’t as much talk about what people should be eating, like fiber. Most Americans’ diets are fiber-deficient, falling short of the 25-35 grams per day recommended by the USDA Dietary Guidelines. These guidelines recommend two cups of fruit daily, and cherries are an easy and delicious way to meet that target.

Enjoy a bowl of superfruit today

In addition to all these health benefits, cherries also possess cancer-fighting properties, according to a study by the USDA’s Western Human Nutrition Research Center. So whether you’re looking to boost your health or you enjoy the taste of this juicy treat — or both — there are plenty of reasons to reach for a bowl of cherries for your next snack or to add them to the menu at your next meal. Whatever your preference, be sure to get them quickly before cherry season is over.

To learn more about the health benefits of cherries, visit NWCherries.com.

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Chocolate Chip cookie baked in a cast iron skillet viewed from directly above.

Easy ways to lighten up your cookout

(BPT) – The mouthwatering taste of grilled foods, the indulgence of rich desserts and the joy of entertaining with family and friends — a cookout is always a crowd-pleaser, no matter the time of year.

The food and fun make for a memorable time, but sometimes all those savory sauces, scrumptious salads and succulent sweets can be a little heavy. Fortunately, you can cut calories and lighten up your menu without sacrificing taste.

Try these eight ideas at your next cookout for lighter foods bursting with flavor.

Go lean: Hamburger and red meat can be high in fat content and calories. When grilling meat, opt for leaner varieties, such as chicken breasts, turkey burgers or fish. Guests will love the variety. If you just can’t forgo the classic American hamburger, look for leaner meat such as a 90-10 ground mix.

Skip the barbecue sauce: A cookout without barbecue sauce? It can be done. Try marinating or rubbing spices on meats and sides instead. For example, citrus juice, olive oil and chopped fresh herbs are a healthier marinade for chicken or fish that brings out natural flavors.

Cut sugar in desserts: Bake with Stevia In The Raw, a zero-calorie sweetener with extracts from the stevia plant. Try replacing about half the sugar in any of your favorite baking recipes with Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag to cut calories and reduce sugar, while still achieving the proper browning, rising and caramelizing desired. The Bakers Bag is a smart pantry staple and measures cup for cup with sugar so there is no conversion needed.

Think outside the bun: Iceberg and butter lettuce are smart alternatives for buns for those who want to cut calories or have gluten sensitivities. If you do want to include buns in your menu, opt for whole grain rather than plain old white ones.

Drink up: Soda, punch, blended frozen drinks and adult cocktails are packed with calories. Swap or add in flavored water to the menu for a light and refreshing alternative. Fill pitchers with water, ice and add in flavor enhancements, such as sliced lemons, cucumbers, strawberries and raspberries.

Want more inspiration? Try these two recipes for decadent desserts that are ideal whether you’re hosting a cookout or attending a potluck.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Sugar In The Raw + 1/2 cup Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup chocolate chips

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter, egg, vanilla extract and the Sugar In The Raw/Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag combo. Meanwhile, mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir well to combine. Slowly add nuts and chocolate chips until well combined. Drop the dough in spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes.

Nutrition information:
Per serving (1 cookie): 144 calories, 9 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 16 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, <1 g dietary fiber, 75 mg sodium.

Cranberry Crisp

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons Sugar In The Raw, divided
1/4 cup Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter an 8-inch square pan or 9-inch pie dish. In prepared baking dish, toss together cranberries, 1/3 cup Sugar In The Raw, 2 tablespoons Stevia In The Raw, cornstarch and zest. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, 2 tablespoons Sugar In The Raw, 2 tablespoons Stevia In The Raw, salt and nutmeg. Add butter and use your fingers to work it into flour until mixture is crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle crumble mixture over cranberries. Bake until fruit is bubbling and crumble is browned, 45-50 minutes.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 220 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 26 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 150 mg sodium, 11 g sugar.

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CA Raisin Walnut Banana Oatmeal Cups

Research shows California Raisins positively impact diabetic nutrition

(BPT) – Research highlighted at the American Diabetes Association’s 77th Scientific Sessions suggests California Raisins — an all-natural, dried-by-the-sun, no-sugar-added fruit — can positively affect glucose levels and systolic blood pressure among people with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

“Raisins are excellent food choices for most individuals, including those with Type 2 diabetes mellitus,” said James W. Anderson, MD, Professor of Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, Emeritus, University of Kentucky.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control reported that more than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes, and 86 million are living with prediabetes, a serious health condition that increases a person’s risk of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and other chronic diseases.

Given the magnitude of the diabetes problem, and knowing that the nutritional quality of foods is one factor that influences glucose levels and cardiovascular disease risk among patients with T2DM, a first-of-its-kind study was conducted with California Raisins and patients with T2DM.

This 12-week study among 51 individuals with T2DM found that regular consumption of raisins — as compared to a variety of popular snacks — positively impacted both glucose levels and systolic blood pressure. The research, published in The Physician and Sportsmedicine journal, revealed study participants who consumed 1 ounce of raisins three times a day for the duration of the study, as compared to a group that ate a comparable amount of popular snacks, were shown to have:

* A 23 percent reduction in postprandial (post-meal) glucose levels

* A 19 percent reduction in fasting glucose

* A significant reduction (8.7 mmHg) in systolic blood pressure

These findings build on an earlier study where 46 men and women with pre-hypertension were randomly assigned to snack on raisins or snacks that did not contain raisins or other fruits or vegetables, three times a day for 12 weeks. The results indicated that eating raisins three times per day:

* May significantly lower blood pressure among individuals with pre-hypertension when compared to other popular snacks.

* May significantly lower postprandial (post-meal) glucose levels when compared to other popular snacks of equal caloric value.

Both studies were conducted at the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerotic Research Center (L-MARC) by Harold Bays, MD, medical director and president of L-MARC and funded by the California Raisin Marketing Board.

“With California Raisins, the ingredient list says it all: Raisins. They’re made for healthy snacking and it’s easy to whip up delicious, diabetes-friendly dishes with raisins, too — like my recipe for California Raisin Walnut Banana Oatmeal Cups. Bake a batch of these simple, no-sugar-added oatmeal cups on the weekends, and you’ll have breakfast or snacks all week long,” says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant, author and mother of three.

California Raisin Walnut Banana Oatmeal Cups

Recipe created by Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD

Makes 16 servings.

Ingredients:

3 cups oats, uncooked

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

3 ripe medium bananas, mashed well

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups 1% low-fat milk

1/2 cup California Raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until well combined. Whisk in the milk.

4. Pour the banana mixture into the oats mixture. Add the California Raisins. Stir well to combine. The batter has a lot of liquid in it, so don’t worry if it looks soupy.

5. Fill the muffin cups nearly to the top with batter (1/4 cup full).

6. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes, with the muffins still in the pan. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on the wire rack. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Per serving: Calories: 169, Carbohydrate: 22 grams, Fiber: 3 grams, Protein: 5 grams, Fat: 8 grams, Saturated fat: 1 gram, Cholesterol: 28 milligrams, Sodium: 157 milligrams, Calcium: 90 milligrams.

Visit www.calraisins.org for more diabetes-friendly recipes and information about both studies.

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