*written by Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Fine Foods Registered & Licensed Dietitian
Calling all olive lovers -
Your Dietitian's Choice this week is Essential Everyday® Black Olives, 4 for $5.00, 5.75 - 6 oz. cans on select varieties from January 21st thru January 27th.
Black vs. Green Olives
There are over 2,000 species of olives and about 150 of those species are used for eating and making delicious olive oil.
Many are only familiar with the green and black varieties of olives. The coloring of the black and green varieties only signify degree of ripeness. Green olives are unripe fruits while the black olives are ripe. You can consume the same species of olives as green or black.
Apart from the degree of ripeness, you will also find differences in their availability in many supermarkets.
Green olives are often found bottles and preserved in a liquid like vinegar; they are often pitted and can be stuffed with pimento, blue cheese, almonds, garlic, and cheese.
Black olives are often found packed in cans and have varied degrees in sizes; although, preserved black olives are available. Because black olives are riper than green, they are higher in natural oils that may separate from the fruit. These oils are a high source of healthy fats including omega-3 fatty acids to support heart health and manage inflammation.
Nutritional Benefits of Black Olives
Because olives are naturally high in fat, it helps the body support the absorption of fat soluble nutrients. Nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K require adequate consumption of dietary fats to absorb into the body properly. The dietary fats form a structure, called a micelle (right image) around the vitamin. The hydrophilic head helps the fat soluble nutrient be transported with water into the blood stream while the hydrophobic tail strengthens the bond to the fat soluble nutrient.
Vitamin E, a fat soluble nutrient, is a strong antioxidant, found in high amounts in olives. It helps fend off free radicals, compounds that have unstable levels of oxygen attached that may cause inflammation or increase risk of cancers. As a nutrient, it supports healthy white blood cells, relaxes blood vessels and reducing blood pressure, and improve cellular signaling to carry out functions in our nervous system, organs, and more.
Olives are a rich source of the fatty acid, omega-3. This fatty acid is often associated with fish oil supplements, but for those who do not like seafood or not interested in fish oil supplementation, consuming olives or using olive oil will provide just that. Apart from building the structure and strength of cell walls like our skin, multiple studies have found that supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids have reduced depressive symptoms by 28%; however, scientists are not sure of what the specific functions
are on regulating serotonin (happy hormone) levels.
We often think about preventing anemia and supporting healthy red blood cells with iron. Iron allows for the protein, hemoglobin, found in our blood to attach to oxygen molecules in our lungs. The blood cells then transport oxygen to various parts of our body from organs, to muscles, cells, and even the brain. Without oxygen, our body cannot perform at its best.
Olives are a rich source of the mineral, copper. In the presence of copper deficiency, our red blood cells transform from smooth oblong-circular small structures to large, abnormally jagged edged red blood cells. This is a concern as like high levels of cholesterol, large-sized red blood cells may clog arteries, increasing blood pressure.
Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Garlic, Black Olives, and Feta
1. In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the tomatoes, olives, feta, capers, parsley, salt, and pepper.
2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti until just done, about 12 minutes. Drain.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, heat the olive oil over moderately low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the cooked pasta and the garlic oil to the tomato mixture and toss.
*written by Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Fine Foods Registered & Licensed Dietitian
Support your gym goals with the Dietitian's Choice this week, Essential Everyday® Peanut Butter, Chunky or Smooth, 2 - 16oz containers for $4.00 from January 14th thru January 20th.
What Are Peanuts?
ver wondered why many food allergy warnings often list the information as, "May contain peanuts or tree nuts"?
It is simple - peanuts are not tree nuts like walnuts, cashews, and coconut.
The classification, Arachis hypogaea, is considered part of the legume family. Legumes include lentils, beans, peas, soybeans...even alfalfa and clover.
It is possible to be allergic to peanuts, but not tree nuts and vice versa.
We often eat the peanut itself, which is grown underground; however, many cultures, especially those in Asia and Africa, eat the flowers and leaves as part of stir-fries, curries, or soups.
What is Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter is a common food condiment found in almost every American households, even alternative versions of it like sunflower butter, cashew butter, or soy butter, for those who are allergic or intolerant to peanut-derived products. It is a spread that is made from dry roasted peanuts; however, may have additional ingredients to modify its texture and flavor such as honey or soy lecithin (a thickening agent).
Peanut butter is made by using two different grinding techniques. The first technique reduces the peanuts to a medium grind. The second technique then finishes it into a fine, smoother texture. To make chunky peanut butter, the manufacturer may use larger breeds of peanuts, or, remove specific grinder parts to reduce the fine, smooth consistency. Once the grinding has been completed the peanut butter moves into a stainless steel hopper. There, the peanut butter is stored and mixed intermittently, waiting to be packaged.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has very specific guidelines for a product to be called peanut butter. Peanut butter must be 90% peanuts.
Nutritional Benefits of Peanut Butter
Peanut butter, and many other nut butter variations, are a very budget-friendly source of protein that can last. Most manufacturers put a "best used by" date on their product which signifies their promise in quality. Peanut butter can even be consumed beyond that safely as long as the seal is not broken. Due to its high fat content, amount of added salt and sugar, it is not prone to spoilage as fast once opened compared to other products.
A 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter provides on average 3.3g of saturated fat. Many consumers look at the total fat amount which is on average 16g of total fat/ thus, may opt for the low-fat or reduced fat peanut butter variations. Many registered dietitians will prefer to recommend their consumer to purchase the regular peanut butter, whether that is chunky or smooth, instead of the low-fat or reduced fat versions. That is because the consumer will loose so much benefits of the healthy, monounsaturated fats if the low-fat or reduced fat versions are bought. Monounsaturated fats help alleviate inflammation, repair healthy skin tissue, support hormonal balance, and reduce high cholesterol levels. As well, low-fat and reduced fat options often have added fillers like different types of carbohydrates (not diabetic friendly) to imitate the quality in texture and flavor compared to its regular counterparts.
Peanut butter is an excellent way to add additional lean grams of protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter provides almost 8 grams! Peanut butter can be added into smoothies with protein powder, sauces for Asian-style noodles, and even salad dressings. Lean protein sources like those from peanut butter will help support muscle tissue growth and repair for the average-to-advanced weight lifter; as well, the monounsaturated fats will help alleviate exercise-induced inflammation.
We often think about calcium and Vitamin D as the primary nutrients to support strong bones; however, do not forget about phosphorous, an essential mineral that also supports bone health. Not only that, but do you recall learning about something called ATP in your high school or college biology or chemistry classes?
ATP, adenosine triphosphate, is a compound produced by the mitochondria in cells, an organ responsible for metabolism. It creates ATP from various nutrients like carbohydrates, fat, and protein, to provide us energy throughout the day. The p in ATP represents the mineral phosphorous. Not enough phosphorous each day may cause issues int he human body including bone pain, osteoporosis, irritability and agitation, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
Two tablespoons of peanut butter provides approximately 131mg of phosphorous. Men and women need approximately 700mg per day. In certain cases like for individuals with end-stage kidney disease on dialysis, phosphorous may be recommended in smaller amounts. As the kidney is failing to filter out excess waste from our blood to be secreted as urine, phosphorous, a difficult mineral for people with end-stage kidney disease to filter out, increases the risk for osteoporosis. The body wants to try and breakdown its own bone for calcium to control blood phosphorous levels.
Peanut Butter Chicken
By Kristen of the Endless Meal
Peanut Butter Sauce
1. Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and put them into a large bowl. Add the coco aminos or soy sauce and mix. Let the chicken marinate while you chop the onion and make the sauce.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together all of the peanut butter sauce ingredients.
3. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Pour the chicken and soy sauce into the pan (careful, it will splatter) and move the chicken around so that it is in a single layer. Let it cook undisturbed for 5 minutes then turn the chicken pieces over and let them cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Add the onion to the pan and let it cook for 3 minutes, or until it is transparent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 more minute.
5. Pour the peanut butter sauce into the pan and let it cook until it begins to thicken a little, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and serve with a little minced cilantro.
*written by Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Fine Foods Registered & Licensed Dietitian
The Dietitian's Choice is Hormel Natural Choice® Bone-In, Center Cut Pork Chops for $2.49 per pound from January 7th thru January 13th.
Go Lean with Pork Chops
Pork is an excellent choice if one is lookin for meat options that are heart healthy. Pork is naturally low in sodium, but high in potassium. These two nutrients function together to support healthy blood pressure.
Many cuts of pork are lean, but pork tenderloin and pork sirloin roast has met the American Heart Association Health Checkmark program criteria for heart-healthy lifestyles. The criteria takes into account per serving - less than 5 grams of total fat, less than 2 grams of saturated fat, and less than 480 milligrams of sodium.
Other lean cuts of pork include...
Nutritional Benefits of Pork
Pork is a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid which research shows can help support serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone that assist with mood stabilization, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Tryptophan has also been shown through research that it may help increase melatonin levels to achieve deep sleep. For those who ever felt super tired after a Thanksgiving feast, turkey is also high in tryptophan!
A 3-ounce serving of pork provides 51% of your thiamine needs. Thiamine, also known as Vitamin B1, is important for the metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
The same serving amount also provides 37% of your pyridoxine needs, also known as Vitamin B6. For the gym-goer or athlete, glycogen is an important source of energy which our body obtains from our liver and muscles to keep ourselves moving forward during exercise as much as we can without giving up early. Vitamin B6 helps support the regulation of glycogen including storage regeneration.
Myths About Pork
The Pork Industry Uses Hormones.
Truth: According to the Food Drug Administration, it is illegal to use hormones in pigs and it has been illegal since the 1970's. The only animals approved for hormone use are sheep and beef cattle. Many pork packages will say, "No added hormones or steroids"; it is technically true and allowed by the Food Drug Administration as a labeling claim; however, this claim is often misleading in the sense that it may cause many consumers to believe there are pork products with hormones.
Pork Needs to Be Cooked All The Way.
Truth: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) used to recommend cooking pork to 165F due to the possibility of a foodborne illness caused by trichinosis. This was true back then, but now that pork meat is even leaner today than it was before, this ends up resulting in a very dry and tough cut of meat. Through years of research, it was discovered that cooking pork to an internal temperature of 140F is enough to kill trichinosis; thus, the USDA has changed the internal cooking temperature of pork to 145F back in the year 2011. This cooking temperature continue to show no significant cases in foodborne illnesses and result in a juicy, moist pork product that will delight the taste buds.
The Pork Industry Uses Antibiotics.
Truth: The pork industry does use antibiotics in their animals. How else are they going to keep their pigs safe and healthy from disease? Pork farmers work with trusted veterinarians to ensure the pigs are healthy - one sick pig can create a mess for other pigs. The most common antibiotic given to pigs is amoxicillin. Amoxicillin is also given to humans for bacterial infections. When a pork package states "antibiotic free", it does not necessarily mean that the pig did not receive antibiotics. According to the USDA, the labeling claim "antibiotic free" can be used if the producer can show documentation that the pork is free of all antibiotic residue, meaning, the antibiotics have broken down and cleared within the animal before being butchered.
The "antibiotic free" labeling is often confused with the other USDA-approved labeling claim, "no antibiotics added". This claim means that the pigs were raised without ever being exposed to antibiotics.
Nitrates in Cured Pork Products are Dangerous
Truth: Nitrates are added to cure pork to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum, or simply botulism. It is a myth that botulism can only be a risk from consuming canned goods. Nitrates only account for about 5% of one's intake from cured pork products. The 95% remaining actually come from the vegetables we eat. Nitrates from our diet are very important for the human body in regards to protein metabolism. Basic protein structures, called amino acids, are created by our liver to rebuild muscle tissue, strengthen our immune system, and other means. There are 9 essential amino acids we must obtain from our diet. The remaining 11 are called "non-essential amino acids" which is produced by our liver from nitrates.
Juicy Skillet Pork Chops
By Adam and Joanne of Inspired Taste
1. Take the pork chops out of the refrigerator and season on both sides with salt and pepper — we use just less than 1/4 teaspoon of fine salt per pork chop. Set the chops aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the spice rub. In a small bowl, mix the flour, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika. After 30 minutes, use a paper towel to pat the pork chops dry then rub both sides of the chops with the spice rub.
2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet (with lid) over medium-high heat. As soon as the oil is hot and looks shimmery, add the pork. Cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Flip the pork so that the seared side is facing up. (If there is a fattier side of the pork, use kitchen tongs to hold the chops, fat-side-down until it sizzles and browns slightly; about 30 seconds.) Reduce the heat to low then cover the skillet with a lid. Cook 6 to 12 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 145 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the chop. (Since cook time depends on the thickness of the chops, check for doneness at 5 minutes then go from there, checking every 2 minutes). If you do not have a thermometer, you will know they are done, if when cutting into the chops, the juices run clear.
4. Transfer pork chops to a plate then cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let the pork rest for 5 minutes.
5. While the pork rests, make the pan sauce. Increase the heat to medium-high then add the chicken stock, vinegar, and honey. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan so that any stuck bits of pork come up. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half. Taste then adjust the seasoning with salt, more vinegar or honey. Slide the skillet off of the heat and when the sauce is no longer simmering, swirl in the butter. Slide the pork chops back into the pan and spoon some of the sauce on top. Alternatively, slice the chops then place back into the pan. Scatter fresh parsley over the pork then serve.
Love seafood? This week's special is perfect for you!
The Dietitian's Choice are Sea Scallops for $19.99 per pound (max 10 scallops) from December 17th thru December 30th.
Pick some up today and create a special moment with a Surf and Turf for your loved one.
What Are Sea Scallops?
Do not be confused with bay scallops . Bay scallops are often found on the east coast in shallow water, are three times much smaller than sea scallops, but are more tender and sweeter. Bay scallops are typically used in stews and casseroles.
Sea scallops, like the name implies, come from the sea. They are not as sweet or tender with a little chew; however, are phenomenal when prepared right, often cooked by searing to a medium-rare / medium consistency. Anything beyond that makes the sea scallop tough to eat.
Both types of scallops are mollusks with two-hinged shells. The part we eat of the animal is the abductor muscle - the muscle that opens and closes the shell.
How to Shop for and Keep Sea Scallops
According to Fine Cooking, "As with any seafood, shop for scallops with your eyes and nose. Fresh scallops should appear moist but not milky. Refuse any that have a feathery white surface (a sign of freezer burn) or dried and darkened edges (a sign of age). Always ask to smell scallops before buying. They should smell somewhat briny and seaweedy, but not offensive, sharp, or at all like iodine."
"Cook scallops the day you buy them, if possible. If not, store them in the coldest part of your refrigerator. I sometimes nest the bag or container in a larger bowl of ice to ensure that they really stay cold. But avoid direct contact with ice—it will leach flavor and deteriorate the texture of the scallops. Also, try not to rinse scallops, as this will wash away flavor."
There is also nothing wrong with purchasing frozen sea scallops. The freezing and packaging process of these products ensure that you are getting the highest quality, locking in its flavor, texture, and nutrition profile.
Why Are Some Scallops Orange?
If you happen to have an orange scallop among your catch. Do not throw it out - keep it!
It is not bad. Orange scallops come from the female. As the female scallop reaches the time where they are ready to ovulate, the hormones cause the abductor muscle to become an orange tint. This happens to make the scallop much more sweeter and tender!
Nutritional Benefits of Sea Scallops
Sea Scallops are one of the most nutritious seafood in the culinary world!
A 3-oz serving is sea scallops provides approximately 20 grams of protein per 100 calories! A food item that provides so much protein for little calories helps support fullness for those working on weight loss. As well, sea scallops are considered a lean protein to support heart health and lean muscle growth.
Besides protein, the same serving provides almost 33% of your daily selenium needs. Selenium is a mineral that supports thyroid health and hormone balance. Selenium also acts as an antioxidant, reducing risks for conditions such as cancer and inflammation!
There is no set-in-stone recommendation on how much omega-3 fatty acids to consume daily. Most health organizations seem to average around 200-300 mg per day as the recommendation. A 3-oz serving of sea scallops provide approximately 333 mg of omega-3 fatty acids! Research has been showing omega-3 fatty acids reduce risk for Alzheimer's disease.
Easy Garlic-Lemon Scallops
Step 1 Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic, and cook for a few seconds until fragrant. Add scallops, and cook for several minutes on one side, then turn over, and continue cooking until firm and opaque.
Step 2 Remove scallops to a platter, then whisk salt, pepper, and lemon juice into butter. Pour sauce over scallops to serve.
Your Dietitian's Choice this week is asparagus, available for $2.99 per pound from December 10th thru December 16th!
What is Asparagus?
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis), also known as folk sparrow grass, is a hardy perennial - perennial meaning a plant that can keep re-growing and/or live more than two years. It is a member of the lily family. Another identification asparagus is known as is the "springtime vegetable" due to its abundant variety during springtime; thus, the cost of asparagus is more affordable during the spring months.
In the wild, it is very common to see asparagus grow along railroads and roadsides. It is a native species to the Mediterranean region and was introduced to the United States around the 1650's from European settlers. Today, there are currently more than 300 species of asparagus!
Colorful Asparagus Varieties
As stated earlier, there are more than 300 species of asparagus. In addition to this, a variety of different colored asparagus - most commonly green, white, and purple.
Green asparagus is the most common type to be found in grocery stores across the United States. This plant is green due to its exposure to the sun and being able to produce chlorophyll - the pigment that gives it its green hue. Green asparagus is the most nutritious of all its color counterparts. It is high in folate which supports healthy pregnancies and reduces risk for anemia, rich in Vitamin C, and even fiber for gut health and low cholesterol. Green asparagus can be a bit grassy with sweet notes. If prepared well, it can cook al dente or tender depending on the texture or dish you are serving it with.
White asparagus lacks chlorophyll. When farmers are growing white asparagus, they either wrap the plant with a dark black bag, or, pile a large mound of dirt over it so it is not exposed to the sun. White asparagus is more mild in flavor with a slight bitterness to some. The spears of white asparagus do tend to be more thicker; thus, require longer cooking time. The thickness of the white asparagus though gives it a nice chew or meaty texture.
Even though white asparagus lacks chlorophyll, it does not mean it has no nutritional benefit. White asparagus contains an antioxidant, anthoxanthins, which may reduce the risk for cancer, improve blood pressure, and manage inflammation.
Purple asparagus comes from specific species of asparagus. Although it is purple on the outside, it is green on the inside. It has the highest carbohydrate content of all asparagus, with 20% more carbohydrates in the form of fructose (a fruit sugar often that can be found in vegetables). In addition to its sweet flavor, it also has a slight nuttiness.
Purple asparagus is a great source of the antioxidants astaxanthins (red hue), and anthocyanins (blue hue) which together, gives it its purple exterior. Astaxanthins have been shown to support brain health; anthocyanins have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and assist in absorbing Vitamin C.
Regardless of the type of asparagus you consume, they all use the same cooking methods and can be substituted in any recipe that calls for asparagus.
Cheesy Garlic Roasted Aspargus
By Karina of Cafe Delites
*written by Andrew Akhaphong, Mackenthun's Fine Foods Registered & Licensed Dietitian
Silk® Oat Milk is your Dietitian's Choice this week, $3.88 per 64 fl oz cartons on select varieties from December 3rd thru December 9th!
What Is Oat Milk?
Oat milk is a milk alternative made by blending oats with water which is then strained to remove the oat kernals. This often leaves a starchy, thick liquid so enzymes may be added to break down the starch to make the liquid more thin. Often times, oat milk is used as a creamer alternative due to how thick it can be.
Oat milk is a great milk alternative for those who are allergic or intolerant to dairy milk, cashew milk, so milk, and other kinds of milks; however, oat milk should not be taken if you are gluten-free or have Celiac Disease.
How Nutritious is Oat Milk?
Though oat milk can be made at home, commercially made oat milk like Silk® is going to be nutritiously superior. That is because, compared to dairy milk, commercial oat milk is often fortified to ensure its nutrition profile is similar to that of cow's milk. Nutrients not naturally found in oat milk, like calcium, will be added in to prevent nutritional deficiencies and risks like osteoporosis (weakening of bones in adults) or rickets (weakened bones and bowed legs in children).
Oat milk however, is rich in fiber compared to other milk alternatives. Fiber is not naturally present in dairy milk itself. Fiber supports insulin regularity, managing blood sugars more effectively. It may also reduce cholesterol levels to improve heart health, and, increase fullness to assist in weight management goals.
Oat milk is a great source of the B Vitamins. B Vitamins are essential to support metabolism, liver health, and prevent neural tube defects (neurological disorders / poor development) during pregnancy.
Down Sides of Oat Milk
As stated earlier, oat milk is not a good option for those who are gluten-free or have Celiac Disease; however, there are other factors oat milk may not be good for.
Per serving, oat milk is higher in calories. This is ideal for someone who has a lot of unintentional weight loss (weight loss related to illness or other factor); thus, oat milk may be ideal for those to gain weight back if consumed in large amounts. For someone who is looking more into managing weight, it is important to consider the serving amount as excess calories lead to weight gain.
Oat milk is significantly lower in protein per serving compared to other plant-alternative milks, especially to that of dairy milk. If young children are dependent on oat milk as a beverage, the protein content may not be enough to support growth and development.
Oat Milk Chocolate Pudding
By Ali Slagle, Cooking New York Times
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup/ unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups/480 milliliters nondairy milk, preferably oat
- 3 to 4 ounces bittersweet bar chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a medium saucepan, use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir together the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Slowly stir in the milk and keep stirring until smooth and combined.
2. Stir the mixture constantly over medium-low heat, scraping the bottom, sides and corners of the pan, until the pudding thickens, begins to bubble, and coats the back of the spoon or spatula, 5 to 10 minutes. (If the pudding is coating the bottom of the pan too quickly, reduce the heat.)
3. Add the chocolate and stir vigorously until the pudding is very thick and smooth, about 30 seconds longer.
4. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Spoon the pudding into a serving bowl or individual cups or ramekins. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. It will thicken as it cools.