5 Food & Nutrition Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

The other day, as I watched my boyfriend open a Greek yogurt and pour the liquid into the sink, I immediately questioned him: “What are you doing? Don’t you know that’s whey?”

Apparently he didn’t, but I assumed he did.  As a Registered Dietitian, a large part of my life revolves around food.  I am constantly talking about food, learning about different products and making meal plans and recommendations for clients.  Not to mention, I love to cook and eat food myself!  So it’s easy for me to forget that not everyone has an education in food and nutrition science.  Not everyone knows the things I know.  And I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, everyone should aim to be the expert in their field.  It’s estimated that we make over 200 decisions regarding food daily, most of those being subconscious.  And that’s where I come in and why I have a job…to help people make informed decisions toward better health.  And while I’m never one to provide unsolicited advice (except in that case with boyfriend :)), I’m passionate about food and nutrition and love sharing tips and information.  So I’m going to share a few food/nutrition facts you might not already know…

-The liquid on the top of your yogurt container isn’t just water.  It’s actually whey.  Milk has both whey and casein protein, which become separated by higher bacteria and acidity content in yogurt.  The whey liquid still has protein, calcium and a little bit of tart flavoring, so mix it right back in! 

-You can eat the outside of a kiwi!  Some people are intimidated by the fuzzy layer on kiwis and get frustrated peeling them or scooping the insides out.  No need, because the skin is completely edible and can boost both the fiber and Vitamin C content of the fruit.  Just make sure to wash it thoroughly, as you would any other fruit!

-Peanuts aren’t actually nuts.  This one is a little more well-known, I think….?  Unlike other nuts that grow on trees, peanuts grow underground and are truly a legume!  And FYI, November is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month, which you know I’ll be celebrating!

-“Cage free” and “Free range” eggs aren’t held to any USDA standards.  I often encounter people trying to do “the right thing” by consuming products labeled with these claims, not truly understanding what they mean.  According to “Free range” eggs means the chickens are not caged and may have access to outdoors, but there are no requirements for the amount of space, duration or quality of that access.  “Cage free” eggs are not caged, but generally don’t have outdoor access at all.  And it also doesn’t have any impact on what the chickens are fed.  Just food for thought! (For more information on food labeling claims, visit the USDA or the Humane Society)

-Carmine (Natural Red 4), a red pigment used in foods, is derived from insects.  Companies like Starbucks and more recently, Dannon have come under fire from vegan and vegetarian groups for choosing this food dye over plant-based dyes, such as actual fruit!  The dye has caused allergic reactions and is not considered Kosher, so be aware and keep an eye out on ingredient lists!

Tell me: Did you already know all of this? What little-known facts have you learned about food/nutrition? Feel free to add to my list in the comments below!

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A Fall Pasta “Primavera” Recipe

Happy Wednesday!  I’m excited to share some fun news with you all on this Hump Day.  Last week, I was featured on the Pasta Fits website in a Q&A about pasta and exercise!  

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Q&A on Pasta & Exercise

As a runner training for my FIRST marathon (ahhh!) and a dietitian who works with athletes, it’s safe to say I know a little something about diet and exercise.  So when my friends at the National Pasta Association had some questions about how endurance athletes can use pasta to fuel their training, I was more than happy to share my thoughts!  Click on over to their site to see what I had to say.

Since pasta is a staple in my diet during marathon training, I’m always looking for new and and interesting pasta recipes.  Recently inspired by the presence of new seasonal apple varieties in the grocery store, I decided to try a pasta dish using apples!  I know it might sound strange at first, but trust me…it’s really delicious! Check out the recipe below and try it for yourself.

Fall Pasta “Primavera”

(Serves 4)

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1/2 box whole grain pasta (I used fettucine)

2 Tbsp butter

1 medium onion

1/2 lb crimini mushrooms

2-3 medium apples (I used Ginger Gold)

1 cup vegetable stock (or Chicken stock)

1 cup water

~1/2 cup marsala wine

salt & pepper to taste

grated Parmesan cheese

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Cooking up a storm

Directions:

-Heat a large skillet and melt butter.  Stir in chopped onion and mushrooms, saute for approximately 5 minutes.  Add in chopped apples and cook for additional 2-3 minutes.

-In a medium saucepan, combine stock, water and wine.  Bring to a boil, add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes.  Pour half of pasta “sauce” directly into pan with apple mixture.  Strain remaining liquid and pasta.  Add pasta back into saucepan and toss all ingredients together.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Ta da!

-Last (but not least), serve and top with grated Parmesan cheese!  Enjoy!

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Dig in!

Not only is this fall pasta dish super easy to throw together and absolutely delicious, but it’s healthy too!  It’s only about 300 calories per serving, high in fiber and packed with lots of vitamins and minerals!  I chose to make this a vegetarian dish, but there are endless ways to edit this recipe to make it your own.  Chicken or pork would pair well with the flavors, as would goat or bleu cheese!   Get creative and have fun with it!

Give it a try and share your thoughts with me.  Do you have a favorite or unique pasta recipe to share?  

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