Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lightened-Up Inside-Out Bacon Cheddar Burger

Ah, the juicy burgers of summer cookouts! They taste so good — but are so often huge fat and calorie bombs. The sad truth is that most homemade burgers have well over 800 calories. But it is possible to pack all that savory meaty flavor, oozing melting cheese, and yes, even bacon into a big, satisfying burger without blowing your dietary allotment for the entire day.

A typical homemade 6-ounce burger alone can easily pack 450 calories — and the bun, cheese and bacon will add another 400. And that’s without any sauce or mayo.

So we reconstructed the burger to pack in all that great decadent flavor with about half the calories and saturated fat.

Lightened-up burger tips:

  • Use 93% lean ground beef. This is the optimal point, at which the meat won’t dry out but is reasonably lean.
  • Swap regular mayo for a canola-based version to save 50 calories and 6 grams of fat per tablespoon.
  • Toss reduced-fat cheese with chopped bacon to get more smoky bacon flavor in every bite.
  • Think small when it comes to the bun: A smaller bun not only equals fewer calories but also makes your burger seem that much bigger!

 

Inside-Out Bacon Cheddar Burger

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons canola mayonnaise, such as Hellmann’s

2 tablespoons ketchup

3 slices center-cut bacon

1 1/2 pounds 93% lean ground beef

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 ounces shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

4 potato rolls or hamburger buns

4 small lettuce leaves

4 (1/2-inch) thick tomato slices

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

 

Directions:

Prepare the grill for direct medium heat.

Combine the mayonnaise and ketchup in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat; add the bacon and cook, turning once, until crisp, about 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate covered with a paper towel and drain; chop.

Gently combine the beef, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. Divide the mixture into 8 portions and form each into a 3 1/2-inch-diameter patty; place 4 patties on a work surface. Toss the bacon with the cheese and spoon one-fourth of the mixture on top of each of the 4 patties, keeping the edges clear. Place the remaining patties over the cheese and pinch the perimeter to seal the filling in.

Place the patties on the grill, close the lid and cook, turning once, 9 to 10 minutes for medium doneness. Remove from the grill. To assemble, place the bottom half of each roll on a plate and top with a lettuce leaf, tomato slice and burger. Spoon the mayonnaise mixture over the burgers, then top with the onion slices and the remaining roll halves. Serve immediately.

Per serving (1 burger): Calories 465; Fat 21 g (Saturated 8 g); Sodium 846 mg; Carbohydrate 26 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 45 g

 

Marge Perry is an award-winning  food, nutrition and travel writer and teacher whose work appears regularly in Rachael Ray Every Day, AllRecipes, Newsday, and on her blog, A Sweet and Savory Life. In addition, Marge is a chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City and an Adjunct at New York University, where she teaches food writing.



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Top 8 Changes Coming to Nutrition Labels

What Does the New FDA Nutrition Labels Mean for Consumers FinalAfter years of committees, debates, panels, “consensus-building” retreats, and literature reviews, the FDA has finalized the new nutrition label guidelines. Packaged food companies have two years to incorporate the new labels. At that point, anything in a package that humans eat must have labels that reflect these changes. You’re probably skeptical. I was. The FDA doesn’t have the strongest track record. But before we condemn the new labels sight unseen, let’s take a look at what’s actually changing and what the implications are.

1. Added sugars

“Carbohydrates” will now contain a subsection for “Added Sugars,” which includes all sugars that do not naturally occur in the food.

Adding “Added Sugars” is a great move. Natural sugars are different than added sugars because they come packaged with the nutritional elements that mitigate their damage. A blueberry contains glucose and fructose, yes, but also anthocyanins, fiber, and other micronutrients. It used to be that you’d have to guess where the sugar was coming from in a packaged food. You’d have to see where an added sugar source lay on the ingredients list and estimate its degree of contribution to the total. With the new label, you get actual numbers, no guessing.

2. Revised serving sizes

Serving sizes will reflect what people typically consume in a sitting.

Using realistic serving sizes is a no-brainer and I welcome it. Nobody drinks just half a bottle of Coke or scoops a neat half cup of salted caramel ice cream from the pint. The labels should reflect how people actually eat.

3. Added micronutrients

The food’s vitamin D and potassium contents are required to be displayed.

I also like the inclusion of vitamin D and potassium. They’re both important nutrients that most people are deficient in. Of course I’d like to have seen magnesium added or, heck, all the relevant micronutrients like manganese, zinc, chromium, choline, vitamin K2 (especially iodine, about which I can never seem to get accurate data), but this is better than nothing.

4. Removed micronutrients

Vitamin C and vitamin A are no longer required to be displayed.

If label space was a premium and it came down to potassium and vitamin D versus vitamin C and vitamin A, I’m happy the former pair won out. Otherwise, I would have included both. Vitamin C and vitamin A are important vitamins that people assume they’re eating enough of.

5. Actual quantities of micronutrients listed

Instead of only listing the vitamin or mineral content of a food as a percentage of the daily value, the new labels will also list the absolute amounts of those nutrients in milligrams or micrograms.

Getting absolute amounts of the micronutrients is huge. Not everyone eats the 2000 calorie diet the daily values are based on, reducing the utility of the “percent of daily value,” but “400 milligrams of potassium” applies to everyone equally.

6. Daily values updated

The daily values for fiber, sodium, and vitamin D have been updated to reflect new scientific consensus. Whereas 4 grams of fiber used to comprise 16% of your DV, it’s now 14%. Sodium DV was previously based on a 2400 mg daily limit; now it’s 2300 mg.

“Scientific consensus” can be iffy, but some of these changes appear for the better. Sodium limits have been tightened (unfortunate, given the mixed evidence for salt restriction), fiber recommendations increased (good, given what we know about the microbiome), and vitamin D recommendations increased (good, because most people could use more).

7. Increased prominence of “Calories” and “Servings Per Container”

“Calories per serving” is front and center, with a larger font and more bolding. “Servings Per Container” has a similarly elevated emphasis.

Calories are probably overemphasized. Everyone “knows” how important calories are for weight loss; further accentuation on the label may lead folks to ignore everything but them when making choices. That said, using realistic serving sizes does increase the utility of “calories per serving.”

Servings per container deserves the extra emphasis. It’s the reference point from which everything else on the label proceeds.

8. “Calories from fat” removed

The new label no longer lists the amount of calories derived from fat.

YES. Since fat is more calorically dense than other macronutrients and most people assume calories are the most important aspect of a food’s healthfulness, using calories to represent fat’s contribution paints fat as the bad guy. Eliminating the “calories from fat” encourages consumers to evaluate the food on its merits.

You know what? I’m really impressed. These are actually positive changes. But what would I add, had I supreme power?

ORAC

Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity; the antioxidant activity of a food. Higher is generally “better” and indicates the presence of polyphenols.

Added micronutrients

I’d include magnesium, manganese, iodine, chromium, choline, betaine, all the B-vitamins, vitamin K2, all the good stuff we talk about.

Added clarity

I’d specify which forms of vitamin A (beta-carotene, retinol, etc), omega-3 (ALA, DHA, EPA, etc), fiber (soluble, insoluble, fermentable, etc). I’d distinguish between synthetic and natural forms of the nutrients.

Sugar represented by “teaspoons”

In addition to using grams, using teaspoons would provide a strong visual for consumers.

But that’s in a perfect world. Being a producer of foods that require a label myself, I know how onerous and expensive it can be to expand the standard label to include more information.

Maybe in 10-15 years, we’ll have “living labels” with touch screens and augmented reality capabilities. Touch “Minerals” or “Vitamins” and the full breakdown pops up. Touch “Where I’m From” and get a video showing the production process. That will be very cool.

Hardened Primal veterans won’t see their lives or behavior change much directly from the new labels, but you’re not the main audience. What I foresee happening is the general population realizing they’ve been eating terribly (“How much sugar is in this low-fat yogurt?”). We’re already trending in that direction; these label changes indicate the broader shift. When people realize that, no, a third of a bottle of Coke isn’t the true serving size and yes, they have been regularly consuming 65 grams of added sugar when they pop the 20 ounce Coke at lunch, they’ll realize that the way most people eat is insane and maybe that guy in the office who eats his steak and greens lunch out in the sun and takes frequent walking breaks and lobbied to get standing workstations for everyone isn’t so crazy after all.

All in all, I don’t see any big drawbacks here. It’s mostly a positive shift.

Scoff all you want. Realize that you folks who know the magnesium content of each spinach varietal by heart, can rattle off the specific non-curcumin phytonutrients present in turmeric, and are able to place a single droplet of liquid on your tongue and divine its sugar content by weight with perfect accuracy are in the minority. Most people can use the information provided on the new labels. Most people will see their food choices improve.

That’s a good thing.

What do you think, folks? Are you for or against the new label changes?

Thanks for reading.

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5-Ingredient Strawberry and Black Quinoa Salad

No doubt you’re familiar with white quinoa, which has become a healthy pantry staple in recent years. But you might be pleasantly surprised by the fun, pop-y texture and striking color of the black variety. Black quinoa also has an earthier taste, and works well in cold salads, since rather than clumping together, each seed of black quinoa can boldly hold its own. Even more important, black quinoa contains more than twice as much iron as white quinoa.

While quinoa is fine and dandy cooked in water, if you have some broth on hand, by all means cook the quinoa in broth for added flavor. And if the bottom of the rotisserie-chicken container has gathered juices, toss those in, too. This liquid gold equates to added depth of flavor in the finished dish.

Strawberries are gorgeous, sweet, juicy and fragrant during their peak season of summer, baring their fully red “shoulders” all the way up to the leaves — an indicator of truly ripe and delicious strawberries. The berries’ flavor is more pronounced at room temperature, so don’t be afraid to let them sit on the counter for a bit before you mix them into the salad.

 

5-Ingredient Strawberry and Black Quinoa Salad

Serves 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients:

3/4 cup black quinoa

6 cups flavorful green salad mix, like baby spinach, arugula, chard and herbs

2 cups sliced strawberries

2 cups sliced or chopped cooked rotisserie chicken breast

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

 

Directions:

If you have a fine-mesh strainer, place the quinoa in a medium pot and cover with cold water, soaking 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly and place back in the pot. (If you don’t have a fine-mesh strainer, you can soak the quinoa and pour off the water.) Pour in 1 1/4 cups water and bring to a boil on high heat. Cover and reduce to low heat, simmering for 15 minutes. Remove from heat without disturbing the lid and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a wooden spoon or fork.

To mix the salad for 1 serving: In a medium salad bowl, combine 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1 1/2 cups salad mix, 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/2 cup chicken, 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 1 dash salt and freshly ground pepper. Refrigerate remaining ingredients until ready to serve.

To mix the salad for 4 servings: Linearly arrange the quinoa, salad, strawberries and chicken in one large, wide shallow dish or in four small shallow dishes. Serve the oil, vinegar and seasonings on the side. Or combine all of the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

Per serving (2 1/2 cups): Calories 355; Fat 14 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 60 mg; Sodium 225 mg; Carbohydrate 31 g; Fiber 6 g; Protein 26 g; Vitamin A 75% DV; Calcium 7% DV; Vitamin C 97% DV; Iron 28% DV

 

Michelle Dudash is a registered dietitian nutritionist, Cordon Bleu-certified chef consultant and the author of Clean Eating for Busy Families: Get Meals on the Table in Minutes with Simple and Satisfying Whole-Foods Recipes You and Your Kids Will Love.



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Do We Need a Sugar Tax? Why Food Freedom Matters

Do We Need a Sugar Tax? Why Food Freedom Matters

Confetti For The Win

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Mazen and I scheduled a mini photo shoot with Sarah Cramer Shields in the new Cramer Photo studio. I just had to share these!! Sarah was able to capture Mazen’s serious, sweet, and silly sides beautifully. A shout out to Lauren for doing my make-up! This is a little less than half of the photos we received in about 10 minutes of fun. Yay confetti!

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