Six healthy foods to start eating now

June 13, 2008 4:35:40 PM PDT
Dietician and author Elizabeth Somer has healthy food tips!

Healthy Food Awards
1. Quaker Simple Harvest Instant Multi-grain Hot Cereal
2. Heritage Foods Little Einstein milk
3. Newman's Own Natural Salad Mist, such as Asian Sesame
4. Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta
5. Kashi Frozen Entrees
6. 100% Whole Grain Fig Newtons

Elizabeth's Food Tips:

1.There are some really hot new foods on market shelves that save food-prep time, yet are nutritious, taste great, and are good for you. I based the criteria for a healthy food award on:
1) A high nutrient density - the food provides a wealth of nutrition for few calories.
2) Low sodium and saturated/trans fats
3) High fiber and/or healthy fats.
And, of course they had to taste great and make your life in the kitchen or your struggle to get your kids to eat right a little be easier.

2. Quaker Simple Harvest Instant Multi-grain Hot Cereal. This yummy cereal is 100% whole grain - a mix of oats, wheat, barley, and rye, which gives it a nutty taste that is more interesting than just plain old oatmeal. It is low in calorie, has less sugar than most cold cereals, contains 4 grams fiber per serving, yet has no bad fat and not much sodium. Cook it in milk to boost calcium intake and sprinkle some dried fruit over the top and you don't even need sugar! And it's ready to eat in less than 90 seconds!

3. Milk is the #1 source of calcium in our diets, yet consumption is on the decline, especially in children. Ninety percent of our bones are built during the first 20 years of life, so failing to get enough calcium-rich milk in the early years can set our kids up for osteoporosis later in life. Anything that encourages our children to drink more milk, is a good thing. Heritage Foods Little Einstein's milk is packaged in kid-friendly containers, is hormone-free, and fortified with a plant-based, contaminant-free form of the omega-3 fat DHA, which is critical for children's brain development. Since young kids don't typically eat a lot of DHA-rich salmon, this is one way to get this important fat into their diets. It comes in 1% and 2%, so it packs a bone-building punch without adding unnecessary calories. Finally, it's a family-owned food and beverage company, based here in California. It's nice to know there are still family-owned companies out there!!

4. Americans are spending almost $2 billion on salad dressings each year, in large part because we are using so much more of those great bagged lettuces. Nowhere in the food industry's tug-of-war between "good-for-you" and "good-tasting" is the struggle so glaringly as in the salad dressings aisle, where food companies launch about 200 new dressings each year. Products try to straddle the line between new and exciting flavors and "responsible" formulations that could at least claim the appearance of being healthy. But, don't be fooled. Just because a dressing is made with yogurt or fresh herbs, or says it is "all natural" or "free of saturated or trans fats" (most dressings are low to devoid of these fats anyway!), doesn't necessarily mean it's low-calorie or even healthy. The problem is that 2 tablespoons of almost any full-fat dressing packs more calories than 12 cups of lettuce! Use 4 tablespoons and you've consumed more than 300 calories and almost half of your total day's allowance for fat.

That's why Newman's Own Natural Salad Mists gets the health award here. A few squirts coat salad for few calories (1 calorie per spritz) and little sodium, yet spread the full flavor of dressing over the entire salad. Like any good dressing, these Spritzers bring out the flavor of the salad, rather than smothering it with salt.

5. Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta has three-times the fiber (6 grams/serving) of regular pasta, the calcium equivalent of a glass of milk, and less calories than regular pasta, yet it looks, cooks, and tastes like regular pasta.

6. Kashi has six frozen entrees that are within the guidelines for sodium, are rich in whole grains, and have a fair amount of vegetables, so they bump the fiber content to 6 or 7 grams per serving. They also taste great. There is Black Bean Mango, Sweet & Sour Chicken, and Chicken Pasta Pomodoro, to name a few. Of course, you still need to compliment the meal with extra frozen veggies or a salad.

7. While many cookies have dropped the trans fat or are wrapped in smaller packages, only one has actually made their cookie considerably more nutritious. 100% Whole Grain Fig Newtons is one of the few cookies that actually supplies fruit and is made from 100% whole grain, they also are low in saturated and free of trans fats. They have a nuttier flavor than the original bland, white flour newtons, and they are delicious. Of course, these are still cookies, so you can't go overboard - each Newton has 50 calories.

About Elizabeth Somer: www.elizabethsomer.com

Buy her book on Amazon: "10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman's Diet"


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