Category Archives: nutrition

Why It Matters Wednesday: New USDA Guidelines

I won't lie... the Whole Foods produce section is practically a religious experience for me.

You probably grew up with the understanding that fruits and veggies were an important part of the daily feeding process, but recent reports are indicating that Americans, advised to aim for ‘five a day,’ are still not getting enough

Yesterday, the US Department of Agriculture released new dietary recommendations to Americans, this time focusing less on counting servings and focusing more on fractions. In addition to advising Americans to watch their salt intake, eat less sugar, and consume less processed, prepackaged food (particularly of the dessert variety!), they also created a visual example of how to eat enough vegetation — fill half of your plate.

So is the Food Pyramid becoming a pie graph?
NPR’s April Fulton suggests… maybe. “The pyramid is still in place for now, although they might revise that a little bit later,” she says here. “But a lot of people are speculating they may move more towards a plate.”

But the break down gets a little more specific.
Age and race considerations factor into advice given to people with hypertension, those over 51, and African Americans — no more than 1,500 milligrams of salt — because these groups are the most likely to experience health problems as a result of excessive sodium intake.

So will this make eating better easier?
We can hope. At the very least, this gives a very visual guide of how to approach our plates. But there is still quite a bit to be desired…

We all know fruits and veggies are low calorie, highly nutritious and do worlds of good for us, and as always… that the ounce of prevention will always be worth more than the pound of cure. But what about the long-run? What will it all mean in the next several years?

Well, this remains to be determined. We’re starting to see more in the news about work being done to make school lunches healthier, etc., and I’m certainly hopeful that these will have a genuinely positive impact on our society. In the mean time, though, keep these images in mind when you’re dishing up dinner or reflecting on your food journal:

– Most dinner plates are about 10″ across, meaning that to follow the USDA’s new half-plate advice, you should have veggies spanning 1o inches in length and 5 inches in width. About the size of a (slightly rounded) paperback.
– Consider giving up the salt shaker entirely… I won’t lie, this is a hard one to do… But Jessica, aka Sodium Girl, likens sodium-free living to being similar to not wearing black anymore — at first, a mind-boggling challenge, but later a lesson in creativity and exploration. Be sure to check out her blog which explores how delicious life can be without sprinkling tiny crystals all over everything.

Sound off!! Tell me what you think of the new guidelines — will they do any good? Are they helping or hindering?

More info/news on the guidelines here.

P.S. Thank you, Jeremy, for post inspiration this week! 🙂

Advertisements

Kabocha squash and spinach soup

Pulled this recipe from my Whole Foods iPhone app. (If you have an iPhone, I seriously recommend getting this app.) I love squash and when I was at the farmer’s market on Sunday, I saw a beautiful kabocha squash. To my knowledge, I’d never tried it before, so I picked one up — there was bound to be some way to eat it, right? (Plus, Teri recently professed her love for kabocha and made it sound really easy and good. Gotta love some good word of mouth, right?) The fall weather that is slowly, but surely making its presence known in the Bay area added to my enthusiasm for culinary adventure this evening.

Here goes . . .

1 medium kabocha squash, cut into 1″ chunks
2 cups spinach, packed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic (I used 2 tsp of pre-minced garlic, so I really don’t know how close I got to this estimate)
4 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
shredded mozzarella or crumbled feta to garnish
sour cream

Put broth, squash, onion and garlic into a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Boil until kabocha squash is soft (about 15 minutes). Use a potato masher to mash squash. Add spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve, salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with sour cream and/or feta.

My modifications: I used feta and sour cream, but when I went back for a (smaller) second bowl (hey, it’s 130 cal per serving – ain’t no shame in going back for seconds), I used goat cheese instead of feta. DELISH!

 

Kabocha spinach soup.

 

A casualty of cooking — my poor, broken wine glass. It slipped out of my hand as I was pulling it out of the cabinet and smashed on the granite counter. There was glass EVERYWHERE. That was fun. On the bright side: I couldn’t remember the last time I’d swept my floor and now I can — today. It was also from IKEA — it was cheap.

 

Broken wine glass. (Sad. So very sad.)

 

The recipe made four servings — and I mean HEARTY servings. I put some in a container for tomorrow’s lunch and I STILL had enough to freeze two servings. Wow!

Also on tonight’s agenda:
– a glass of cabernet sauvignon (okay, two)
– pieces of chocolate (72% cacao, baby!)
– curling up with a book, my chocolate and wine in bed
– early bedtime

Do you like squash? What are you cooking lately? Any seasonal foods working their way onto your menu these days?