Archive for the ‘Ask The Guyatitian’ Category

As featured on the National Dairy Council The Dairy Report.

Posted By David Grotto On December 8, 2014 @ 8:27 am In Nutrition and Science | No Comments

Ever since I was a kid, I refused to limit my love affair for cereal and milk to only the breakfast occasion. This combo proved a simple and delicious after-school or before-bedtime snack that I didn’t have to bother mom and dad to “make”– especially considering my limited culinary prowess as a kid. The recipe ingredient simplicity of bowl [1]cereal [2]milk and spoon was culinary genius! Maybe, if I felt really adventurous, I’d add on a banana or other fruit topping… maybe.

The food pairing of cereal and milk was something my parents intuitively felt really good about — having a hunch that the combined nutrition merits were very special. As both a parent and a registered dietitian, I’m thrilled to confirm that my parents’ hunch was spot on. The marriage of cereal and milk* is not only a tasty combination that has been appealing to kids and adults alike for over a century, but it is truly an ideal breakfast when combined with a serving of fruit, snack or any occasion-pairing based on its nutrition, health benefits and convenience.1,2042914breakfast_s [3]

The milk and cereal [4] duo delivers important nutrients that kids and adults otherwise might miss out on if they skipped breakfast altogether or picked a less nutritious choice.1,3,4 That’s a smart thing to do as it turns out that when it comes to breakfast foods, the cereal and milk combo is a one of the best choices in supplying up to 10 important nutrients for the amount of calories they provide.1,3

Plus, milk and cereal is one of the best combos in providing shortfall “nutrients of concern:”Many cereal and milk combos provide calcium, potassium, vitamin D and fiber.1 This can help populations such as children, adolescent girls, women and older adults who are at risk of not meeting their calcium needs based on their current intake.3 In addition to getting essential calcium, potassium and vitamin D from milk, some cereals are also fortified with these key nutrients to help meet this need. In fact, regularly eating cereals at breakfast can help provide adequate nutrient consumption.3,5

And the best part is that cereal and milk is an option available to many. It’s a good value and an affordable choice compared to many other popular breakfast options.1

Lastly, cereal and milk are great on-the-go partners for portability, nutrition and deliciousness! TASTE, not nutrition, is the number one reason why people purchase the food  they do.6 Because cereal comes in a variety of flavors and textures, cereal and milk can be a perfect solution for making good nutrition delicious and do-able!

Here’s some tasty tips that just might fuel right for you!

  • Grab single-serve cartons of cereal and low-fat or fat-free milk from the convenience store on your way to the kid’s game or as a healthy snack between errands.
  • Refrigerate shelf-stable milk cartons and pack it along with single serve bowls of ready-to-eat cereals (RTEC) or RTEC pouches for kids’ lunches.
  • Use milk instead of water to boost the nutrition of your favorite hot cereal.
  • Add in fruit such as mixed berries, mandarin oranges or sliced mango. Fruit can offer additional vital nutrients such as potassium, fiber, vitamin C and folate.
  • Top with nuts for added fiber and healthy fats.
  • Be adventurous. Can’t decide between two different cereals? Play master chef and combine the two, three or more cereals for a new taste sensation. Don’t forget to pour on low-fat or fat-free flavored milk to provide even more flavor versatility!

*Choose low-fat or fat-free varieties first.

David Grotto, MS, RD, LDN is the author of The Best Things You Can Eat and also the Senior Nutrition Marketing Business Partner for the Specialty Channels division of the Kellogg Company. The opinions expressed in this blog post are those of David’s and not necessarily that of the Kellogg Company.

  1. Cereal: The Complete Story. Available here [5]. Accessed October 1, 2014.
  2. Kellogg’s: A Historical Overview. Available here [6]. Accessed October 2, 2014.
  3. Williams, PG. The benefits of breakfast cereal consumption: a systematic review of the evidence base. Advances in Nutrition. 2014;5(5):636S-73S.
  4. O’Neil CE, Keast DR, Fulgoni VL, Nicklas TA. Food Sources of Energy and Nutrients among Adults in the US: NHANES 2003–2006. Nutrients. 2012; 4(12):2097-2120.
  5. Song, WO, OK Chun, J Kerver, S Cho, CE Chung, S Chung. Ready-to-Eat Breakfast Cereal Consumption Enhances Milk and Calcium Intake in the US Population. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106:1783–1789.
  6. International Food Information Council: 2014 Food and health Survey. Available here [7]. Accessed October 30, 2014.

If you love BBQ like I do, then you are going to love these recipes. One is for a basic sauce that features California Strawberries and what has become one of my favorite juices to drink as well to use as a recipe ingredient – Welch’s Farmer’s Pick 100% Juice Blackberry. The other features favorite fruit such as cantaloupe, watermelon and California Strawberries. Of course, you are free to use whatever combination of fruit you’d like in the recipe I call Shish-Ka-Booze! Yes, there is definitely an adult theme to it but the alcohol in the recipe is burned off in the grilling process.

Besides great fresh fruit flavor and fun, there is a hidden agenda to using these ingredients when barbecuing. Antioxidant-rich fruit, such as berries, have been found to benefit heart health, cognition, diabetes and may protect against certain types of cancer. But I especially like to use berries as part of marinades and sauces which may help reduce the presence of heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are known carcinogens (cancer causing agents). Also, eating antioxidant rich food in the presence of foods containing HCAs and PAHs may reduce their harmful effects. The best advice is to avoid charring your meats by using indirect cooking methods. Here’s a great link to the American Institute of Cancer Research who offers great safe grilling tips.

California Strawberry Shish-Ka-Booze
Tip: If time allows, let skewers rest in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours after basting to absorb mixture.
Servings: Makes six skewers
1 pound California Strawberries
1 large cantaloupe
1 pound watermelon
1 tsp Nielsen Massey Tahitian Vanilla extract (or other high quality vanilla extract)
½ cup Dark rum
½ cup Maple syrup
6 Skewers

Apply non-stick grill cooking spray to grill surface. Preheat grill at its highest setting. Cut fruit into large cubes. Alternate fruit on skewers and set aside. Mix vanilla, rum and maple syrup in bowl. Brush mixture liberally over fruit skewers. When grill is ready, place skewers on the surface and cook for a few minutes on each side or until grill marks are visible. Remove and serve when all sides are grilled.

Berry BBQ Sauce
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 cup Welch’s Farmer’s Pick 100% Juice Blackberry
1 cup chopped California Strawberries
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and cool slightly before using. Apply liberally to meat, poultry or firm fish when grilling. Store remaining sauce in the refrigerator.

Let me know how you like these yummy BBQ treats! And as always, I would love YOUR ideas for fun and healthy recipes for summertime grilling. Hit me up in the comments section. Have a great rest of the summer!

Disclosure: I am proud to be working with both California Strawberries and Welch’s to bring you today’s recipes and healthful summer tips!

Art Grotto
(That’s my almost 94-year-old dad enjoying one of his favorite purple beverages in moderation!)
David Grotto, RDN

I know you may be thinking that “seeing “red” was your only color choice when it comes to making smarter dietary choices to support heart health. Not so fast!

Though red is a wonderful color, there are more colors in the rainbow when it comes to doing what’s best for your ticker. Many of the foods that I recommend and feature in The Best Things You Can Eat for heart health actually come in red, white, tan, orange, green and even purple! Turning purple is a lot more fun and easier than holding your breath. That’s why I’m thrilled to be working with the folks at Welch’s to share the grape news about heart health.

Polyphenols are a group of plant nutrients that, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, may play a role in heart health by supporting healthy blood vessels. You’ll find polyphenols especially in purple variety foods such as grapes (think wine and 100% grape juice), cabbage, potatoes, eggplant and even non purple foods such as tea, onions and even nuts. In fact, berries (including grapes!) are a delicious way to get your daily dose of purple, and they deliver polyphenols (specifically anthocyanins) not found in many other colors of fruit.

Purple potatoes. This variety hails from South America and is rich in potassium, vitamin C in addition to polyphenols. By the way, leave the skin on. Like grapes, you’ll find polyphenols in the skins! Roast in a pan with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Yum!

Eggplant. Hard to believe that there was a time that this lovely vegetable was once thought to cause insanity and leprosy! Amazing! But the good news is you’ll find potassium, folate magnesium fiber and many other additional healthy nutrients in eggplant.

Purple Cabbage. Cabbage belongs to the family of veggies called Brassicas. This stinky but yummy veggie contains a healthy amount of fiber, vitamin C and anthocyanins. Glucosinolates, another group of plant nutrients found in cabbage, may help support a healthy immune system, too!

Wine. I see the debate brewing already. “Come on Dave … wine is not a food, it’s a beverage.” Well, hold onto your grapes of wrath! Red, purple, blue and black varieties of grapes are all used to make red wine. What distinguishes red versus white wine is that red varieties are allowed to have the skin and the seeds come in contact with the grape juice as it ferments. The health benefit may be due to a group of plant nutrients called polyphenols, which are abundant in red wine varieties. As with all alcoholic beverages, wine is beneficial for your health only in moderation.

Concord Grapes. And for those who are not wine lovers or choose not to drink alcoholic beverages, dark purple Concord grapes and 100% grape juice possess many of the same polyphenols as those found in red wine. Thanks to the Concord grape, 100% grape juice helps support a healthy heart. An 8 ounce glass of Welch’s 100% Grape Juice made with Concord grapes supplies 250 mg of polyphenols, provides an excellent source of vitamin C and counts as two servings of fruit.

Here’s a twist on the traditional tuna fish salad sandwich to include some tasty polyphenols and other healthy ingredients. Enjoy!

Grapes of Wrap
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes

¾ cup Purple grapes, quartered
2 cans Tuna or chicken, drained
½ cup Celery, chopped coarse
1/3 cup Purple/red Onion, chopped coarse
1 teaspoon Dill, chopped fine
¼ cup Canola oil mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Black pepper
2 teaspoons Honey
1 teaspoon Fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Welch’s 100% Grape Juice concentrate (defrosted)
¼ teaspoon Toasted sesame oil (optional)
½ teaspoon Dry mustard powder
6 Whole-wheat tortillas

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spread some of the salad on a whole-wheat tortilla. Garnish with lettuce and tomato, hold together with a toothpick and serve.

Nutrition Highlights
Calories: 195; Total Fat: 4.5g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 20mg; Sodium: 460mg; Total Carbs: 27g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 6g; Protein: 18g

By David Grotto, RDN, LDN

After 20 long years, the FDA is now proposing revisions to the Nutrition Facts label, commonly found on the pack of food and beverage containers.

Why? Many experts agree that the information contained within the label is outdated or not clearly understood by the consumer. This may explain why less than half of adults currently read the nutrition label, with any regularity. Though encouraging news from a recent USDA study, which found that label reading has increased by 34% over the past two years, improvements are still needed to get the rest of us on board.

What information from the nutrition fact panel isn’t resonating with consumers?
Calories. Experts and consumers agree. This info is probably the most important thing on the label and should be easily seen. Bolded and larger font size for “calories” is being proposed.
Calories from fat. Science supports that total calorie intake is far more important than where calories come from. Though it is important to know if a product contains healthy fats or bad trans fats, we no longer have to be “total fat-phobic”. News Flash! Olive oil derives 100% of its calories from fat. See how “Calories from fat” doesn’t help much?
Grams. As much as our elementary teachers have tried, we (as Americans) have not warmed to the metric system. Most consumers have no idea what 30 grams of something looks like. Instead, use teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, handfuls or a shot glass (okay – I understand how much that is – maybe the kids won’t).
Sugars. Is it total sugars in a product or added sugars that is a real or perceived concern? Many are pushing for either including a line that says “added sugars” or replace sugars with the term “added sugars”. Again, maybe an icon that shows teaspoons of sugar versus grams might be more useful?
Grams of whole grains. Again with the grams thingy! Us old-school RDs have always taught our patients to look to the first ingredient in determining what is most in a product. We also said to look for statements like 100% whole grain on the label. People understand percent’s.
Be Up Front. In this day of transparency, the consumer assumes that someone is trying to pull the wool over their eyes (aka “hiding something”) when nutrition information is relegated to the back of the package. I agree. Expect to be seeing more “Nutrition Keys”, which are highlights of the nutrition facts panel, appearing on the front of the label.
Serving size. Time to get real here too, people. Expect to see not only more realistic serving sizes but perhaps visuals/language that does a better job explaining what a serving size is. “A serving is a Fred Flintstone-sized bowl of cereal” (cue Fred). Well – maybe that’s my serving size – but you get the idea, right?
More importantly, what do you think needs to change? What say you? Take the short survey below!

Thank you to my intern Liana Akkawi for her assistance with this post!

Photo courtesy of US News & World Report

Photo courtesy of US News & World Report

Of course, any style of eating is actually considered a diet. But what I’m talking about here is a ‘diet’ in the traditional sense – a style of eating that includes an element of deprivation attached to it. Well, my friends…I’ve got good news for you! Not surprisingly, the best overall diets for health seem to focus on achieving a reasonable lifestyle that doesn’t require becoming a gym rat or only eating raw plants; gnawing mainly on roast beast that you had to wrestle into your grocery cart (in the most paleo-thetic way possible) or foregoing anything that tastes amazing AND hailed from a package or burger joint.

The U.S. News & World Report just announced the reigning champ of all diets. Drum roll please. After analyzing 32 popular diets, their panel of experts, including notables such as Robert Kushner, MD, David Katz, MD, Joanne Slavin, RD, PhD and Penny Kris-Etherton, RD, PhD, proclaimed the DASH Diet as No.1 in Best Overall Diets followed by the TLC diet and the Mediterranean diet in 3rd place.

The DASH, TLC (National Institutes of Health’s Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet endorsed by the American Heart Association) and Mediterranean diets are well-researched diets and all share the common benefit of reducing the risk of heart disease. This is good news as heart disease still plagues Americans as the No. 1 killer of both men and women. All three diets are similar as they all espouse monitoring calories, limiting (but not eliminating) sodium, sugar and animal protein and filling up the plate abundantly with vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Also not surprisingly, Weight Watchers, which has always focused on monitoring calories and including all types of food, holds on to the top spot for Best Weight-Loss Diets. Notably absent from top rankings of “Best” categories for overall health, weight-loss, diabetes, heart health and any other category was:

• Paleo diet (last place)
• Dukan diet (tied for last place)
• Wheat Belly
• Low carb
• Any celebrity-written diet
• Juicing, acid-alkaline or detox program

Another thing the “Best” diets seem to have in common is that they were very much in side step with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (MyPlate) albeit some slight tweaking. Though the “Best” overall diets didn’t make the top three ranking of “Best Weight-Loss Diets”, in my opinion, they certainly could easily be converted into a “Hannah Montana – best of both worlds” type diet by just adjusting the calorie level downward to suit your needs. The USDA has a Super Tracker that can help you figure out what that calorie level is and assign it to whatever type of diet you decide to follow. Might as well give heart disease a kick where it counts while dropping some poundage (if you need to) following the latest and bestest US News & World Report not-a-diet, diet! Good luck. Also, let me know if you’ve stumbled onto a dietary plan that you can stick to lifelong that was not mentioned here. Meanwhile, I wish you a healthy and delicious (non-diet) New Year!

Sorry about that! That was almost a “Shalloween” recommendation by its mere absence! Here’s the link for a most scary video. Be prepared!!!

Are potatoes responsible for obesity or Miley twerking on the MTV music awards? Are spuds a nutritional dud? Check out what the experts have to say!