Meatless Monday Recipe: Vietnamese Pho

 

Pho to Asian cultures is like the chicken noodle soup to Americans. Comforting, warm, and delicious!

It’s also nutritious. Unlike other Asian dishes that use fatty, sodium-heavy sauces, this Vietnamese dish gets its flavor from herbs and savory broth.

This Meatless Monday Recipe of the Day is packed with metabolism-boosting ingredients, like garlic and hot red chiles.

It also contains cubed tofu, carrots, bok choy, bean sprouts, scallions, green beans, and thin rice vermicelli noodles. For a healthier option, try using thin spinach noodles.

Try this recipe: Vietnamese Pho

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Post LiveActive Nut Harvest Crunch

Category: Breakfast crunch

Crunch factor: Very good crunch

Taste: When a cereal is promoted as “for digestive health” and contains 3 grams of prebiotic fiber per serving and 8 grams of total fiber (more than Raisin Bran), we expect it to be more work than play, more fiberboard than crunchy flakes. This one surprised us: a nice balance of just-right flakes with bits of pecans, almonds, and walnuts and some mystery granola-ish clusters. Not too sweet, either, and the cereal “performed well in milk”—i.e., didn’t turn into a soggy mess. You’d think this was a veritable nut fest from the “enlarged” photo on the box, but it’s mostly flakes. Most tasters preferred it to the Mixed Berry Crunch version.

Overall score: 3.6 out of 5, or just shy of “very good.”

The bottom line: 220 calories in a one-cup serving of LiveActive delivers good fiber to fill you up. Not an exceptional cereal, but a good one, and not oversweetened.

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Recipe of the Day: Miso Chicken with Brown Rice

 

‘Healthy Chinese food’ is somewhat of an oxymoron — and for good reason. Even when we avoid the obvious no-nos (fried wontons anyone?) the average takeout menu is mired with potential diet landmines.

 

 

For example, take chicken and vegetables. On its own, this ubiquitous entree item is harmless. But drowned in sugary sauce and piled high with white rice? Not so much.

 

 

Enter: our healthier chicken and veggies. The rice is still there, but it’s brown – a fiber-rich, better-for-you option. And while the sauce maintains a distinctively Asian flavor (it’s made with soy sauce, ginger, and miso) it’s low in sugar and calories. Factor in 36 grams of protein for under 400 calories and you’ve got a power meal.

 

 

Like actual takeout, this tastes even yummier the next day –pack up the leftovers for an easy work lunch!

 

 

Ingredients: miso, ginger, chicken breast, garlic cloves, eggs, onions, carrots, cooking spray, fish sauce, brown rice, mushrooms, parsley, green onions, low-sodium soy sauce, spinach

 

 

Try this recipe: Miso Chicken with Brown Rice

 

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Sur La Table Is Having a Major Sale on the Instant Pot Today Only

The Instant Pot might be one of the handiest kitchen gadgets around thanks to its super multitasking functions—and when it’s on sale, it’s an extra appealing purchase. Right now, Sur La Table is offering an amazing deal on the Instant Pot Ultra (today only!) during its Deals Dur Jour Sale, which is taking place until December 28.

When it comes to deciding if you should purchase an Instant Pot, consider its versatility. Not only can you cook a wide variety of foods, it multitasks as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, saute pan, steamer, yogurt maker, rice cooker, and warmer all with a super-fast cooking time that makes whipping up healthy meals a breeze. Plus, there’s nothing better than a kitchen appliance that eliminates multiple devices cluttering your kitchen.

If you’re trying to decide between different models, the six-quart Instant Pot Ultra ($119, marked down from $300 on surlatable.com) might be your best bet. Even though it will take up a little bit more space in your cabinet than the three-quart model, it can do the same tasks as the eight-quart model, which is even bigger and bulkier.

RELATED: 5 Clever Hacks for Your Instant Pot That You Haven’t Tried Yet

The Instant Pot was one of the most popular gifts last year during the holidays, and this year it’s still at the top of our list. Whether you’re shopping for the skilled cook in your family or need the perfect gift for a newlywed couple, you can’t go wrong with an Instant Pot. Shop now before the deal ends today!

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5 Myths and Facts About Your Microwave

 

Did you see American Hustle? Remember that scene where Jennifer Lawrence’s hilarious, mouthy character Roslyn almost burns down the house by putting a meal in the microwave that’s covered with tin foil? In a fit of anger, she tells her husband, Irv, (played by Christian Bale) that he never should have brought that thing in her house anywaysince microwaves make food less nutritious.

That’s not true of course. (In fact, in case you missed it, the movie’s claim even resulted in a lawsuit last year.) But it is a fact that microwave cooking has sparked a number of myths since the “space oven’s” creation. Read up on the most common microwave myths, and which ones are legit.

 

 

 

Myth: Microwaving food is a danger to nutrients

Nope, you shouldn’t be overly concerned about microwaves messing with nutrients. “There is no specific harm of microwaving with regard to nutrient levels,” says David Katz, MD, director of Yale University’s  Prevention Research Center. In fact, any type of cooking can chemically change a food and it’s nutrient content: Vitamin C, omega-3 fats, and some bioflavanoid antioxidants are more sensitive to heat in general, Dr. Katz says.  Nutrients from veggies can also leach into cooking water. Since you’re apt to use less water when cooking in a microwave, your food might even be better off.

RELATED: 20 Foods You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen

 

 

 

Fact: You should be careful with plastics

Microwaving plastics is definitely a no-no because it can lead to the containers breaking down and allowing more chemicals like BPA and phthalates to leach into your food. Many companies today make BPA-free and “microwave safe” containers. However, in a 2011 study in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers tested 455 plastic products, from baby bottles to food containers, and found nearly all of them still leached estrogenic chemicals, which have been linked to obesity and some forms of cancer. Even plastics marketed as BPA-free were guilty. The ubiquity of plastics makes it hard to avoid them completely. But the best advice is to avoid them when you can, and always transfer food to a glass or ceramic dish before microwaving, Dr. Katz says.

RELATED: 27 Mistakes Healthy People Make

 

 

Myth: Reheating pasta can make it healthier (for now, at least)

A recent experiment on the BBC investigative health program Trust Me, I’m a Doctor sparked buzz after finding that when pasta was cooked, cooled, then reheated in a microwave, it reduced participants’ post-meal rise in blood glucose by 50%. The reason, researchers said, is that pasta that’s cooled and reheated acts like resistant starch, preventing the gut from breaking down carbs and absorbing them as sugar. But don’t get too excited. That was one study including a measly nine volunteers, so Dr. Katz says to take it with a grain of salt for now. His advice: stick with whole-grain pasta instead, which experts know is healthier. (Due to the higher fiber content, blood sugar does not spike as quickly as it does after eating refined pasta.) “For sure, whole-grain pasta has a lower glycemic effect than refined pasta, whether or not it is reheated,” he says.

 

 

 

Myth: Microwaves cook food all the way through

When it comes to cooking, microwaves penetrate food to a depth of 1 to 1.5 inches, according to the USDA. So heat won’t be able to reach the center of really thick pieces of food, Dr. Katz says. This is especially dangerous for poultry or red meat because you can get food poisoning from undercooked meat. You’re better off using your microwave as an assistant in your kitchen, for re-heating food you already cooked or thawing something you’re about to cook.

RELATED: 13 Healthy Frozen Dinners

 

 

Fact: Microwaves are safe

The reason it’s called a “microwave” is because it emits microwaves, a type of electromagnetic radiation, to heat your food. It’s absolutely an old wives’ tale that microwaves are the same as cancer-causing radiation. All they do is cause the molecules in food to move and the molecular motion is what causes the heat, Dr. Katz explains. And you can’t get cancer just by standing next to a microwave oven either: The microwaves are mostly contained within the oven itself when it’s on, and any that leak out are limited to a level far below what could actually hurt you, according to the American Cancer Society.

RELATED: 9 Everyday Sources of Radiation

 

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Recipe of the Day: Sweet Potato and Spinach Quesadillas

Now that it’s November, we’re giving ourselves full permission to go into sweet potato overdrive. Luckily, these beta-carotene-filled spuds are super versatile, so there’s no shortage of recipes to try. First up? Sweet potato and spinach quesadillas.

This recipe provides a surprising new twist on the root veggie, which is usually baked, mashed, or fried. With a golden crispy outside and sweet, cheesy insides, these pockets of yumminess will hit all the right notes.

Cheesy quesadillas may sound like a comfort food–and they are–but not the kind that will leave you feeling bloated with regret.

In addition to the magical powers of sweet potatoes, you’ll be treated to an extra dose of vitamin A and calcium from the baby spinach and mozzarella. The best part? These deliver less than 400 calories per serving. As if you needed another reason to make them!

Ingredients: sweet potatoes, red onion, red wine vinegar, peppercorns, tortillas, baby spinach, part-skim mozzarella, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper

Try this recipe: Sweet Potato and Spinach Quesadillas

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The Most Important Foods to Buy Organic

Organic foods aren’t just for granola-crunching hippies anymore. These days, they’re growing in popularity and availability worldwide. But this raises the question: With so many options available, which foods are worth buying organic?

Food for Thought — The Need to Know

Organic foods are often associated with fewer synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, but the USDA has created plenty of other requirements; to make the grade as a certified organic food. In the case of livestock, animal health and welfare play a role. The livestock must also be raised without hormones or antibiotics and fed an organic diet. Organic crops can’t be grown with synthetic fertilizers, certain prohibited pesticides, sewage sludge, or genetically modified organisms (GMO). And multi-ingredient foods (think packaged foods in the center of the grocery store) must include 95 percent organic ingredients to earn the organic label. But all that organic TLC costs extra. For farmers, organic foods are more expensive to grow, meaning higher prices may be unavoidable. To avoid the premium price tag (and getting ripped off!), there are a few other key words to look for:

 

 

 

 

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Natural: This product label is not synonymous with organic. “Natural” means that the product doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients or colors. These products are also minimally processed, but the label must include a more detailed explanation of what exactly makes it natural.

 

 

Free-Range: “Free-range” or “free-roaming” means that the animals have access to the outdoors, though there is no standard for how much access they have. Consider springing for organic rather than free-range if animal welfare is a primary concern.

 

 

Cage-Free: Some egg producers house hens in cage-free environments. These systems are generally considered to offer better conditions for the animals, though they’re still far from cruelty-free. There’s no evidence the nutritional quality of the eggs differs based on caged and cage-free systems.

 

 

Antibiotic-free: Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can result from the overuse of antibiotics, and those bacteria can be passed from animals to humans through the food chain. Farms that use fewer antibiotics have been shown to have fewer resistant bugs, which may make their products safer when they reach the table (though studies are still preliminary).

 

 

Hormone-free: The presence of hormones is one of the most significant differences between conventional and organic milk products, even if there still isn’t absolute evidence that hormones are dangerous. For buyers that choose to avoid hormones, hormone-free (rather than all-out organic) dairy products offer the same benefits at a potentially lower price.

 

 

Transitional: Going organic ain’t cheap or quick (for the farmer!), and the easiest way to help a farm make the switch is buying transitional food. “Transitional” means that the product has been cultivated according to organic standards, but the soil and farm conditions haven’t yet completely met organic standards or the farm’s organic status is pending.

 

 

 

Getting Your Green On — Your Action Plan

Farmers that cultivate organic foods must use methods that promote biodiversity, cycle resources, and generally look after Mother Nature. But what the heck does that mean? Greatist digs in to find out what these extra requirements do for nutritional value:

Meats: If meat is what’s for dinner, the environment, health, and animal welfare may all influence the decision to go organic. Three things make organic livestock unique: They’re raised without antibiotics and hormones, they’re given proper veterinary treatment whenever necessary, and they have access to the outdoors, sunlight, and clean water— all of which affect each type of meat differently.

 

 

 

Beef: For the most part, scientists agree that the drugs given to animals carry over to the meat on that dinner table, but they can’t seem to agree on whether beef growth hormones— used to make animals grow larger faster— pose a health risk to humans. And while the European Food Safety Authority has concluded that hormones may be linked to certain cancers and early puberty, U.S. agencies maintain that they’re perfectly safe. Cows’ diets may also affect the quality of meat. While organic cows must graze in pastures for at least 120 days per year, conventional cattle are typically cooped up indoors without grazing time. Some studies show that pasture feeding can result in leaner meat with higher concentrations of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

 

 

Chicken: The jury (read: scientists) is out as to whether organic poultry beats conventional in terms of nutrition. But the limitation on antibiotics could result in fewer antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Reducing antibiotics may be better for the environment, too, as antibiotic-laden run-off could be poisonous to wildlife and could even make its way into the water supply. On the other hand, allowing chickens more access to the outdoors— as is the case with organic poultry— could actually increase the risk of infection and contamination. Given the conflicting results, the choice between conventional and organic chicken comes down to a matter of preference— if animal welfare and the environment are a priority, organic poultry may be worth the splurge.

 

 

Pork: One significant difference between organic and conventional pork is that organic, cured pork products don’t include chemical preservatives like nitrate and nitrite. These preservatives have occasionally been linked to gastric cancer and birth defects, though there is not enough data to support a causal relationship. Instead, organic cured meats are preserved with vegetable derivatives that contain natural nitrate. However, the veggies don’t preserve quite as well as the chemical versions, so food safety is especially important when cooking up organic bacon, sausage, and deli meats.

Fruits and Vegetables: Compared to conventional produce, organic fruits and veggies are grown with far fewer pesticides, which have been associated with developmental neurological issues among children. Research has also suggested organic food may be more nutritious— with fewer nitrates and more vitamin C, for example— though these studies are far from conclusive. Peeling fruits and vegetables or removing outer layers of leafy greens is also a great way to cut back on pesticide intake. That said, certain fruits and veggies might be more important to buy organic than others. Enter, the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen generally have the most pesticide residues when grown conventionally because they’re more prone to pesky bugs.  Purchase these fruits and veggies organic whenever possible to avoid the potentially harmful effects of pesticides:

 

 

 

Apples                                        Celery                                 Blueberries         

 

Strawberries                               Nectarines                           Lettuce

 

Peaches                                      Spinach

 

Bell Peppers                               Potatoes

 

Kale                                            Collard Greens

 

Dairy and Eggs: Organic dairy and meat animals are afforded the same creature comforts, and the same regulations apply to their diet and medical treatment.

 

 

Milk: As with beef cattle, hormones —used to increase milk production— are a hotly-debated issue with dairy cows, too. One study found that organic milk has significantly higher concentrations of the hormones estradiol and progesterone which may help prevent the potentially breast cancer-causing effects of milk’s Vitamin D, but had a lower concentration of IGF-1, the hormone that triggers the onset of puberty [11] [12]. Organic milk may also be healthier thanks to a higher concentration of beneficial fatty acids. However, one study suggests organic milk could be lower in iodine, a necessary nutrient. Further confusing matters, a separate study found that organic and conventional milk were almost identical in protein and bacteria count, making the still-controversial hormone debate the deciding factor between the two.

 

 

Eggs: While some say organic eggs are no higher in quality than conventional eggs, opponents argue that organic eggs are still worth the splurge because they can be more nutritious and free of dangerous chemicals and antibiotics. One study found that, when given access to a grazing pasture, chickens produced eggs with more omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin E. On the other hand, a study based in Taiwan found that chickens permitted access to the outdoors actually produced eggs with significantly higher concentrations of pollutants. The pollutants found in those eggs were prevalent in Taiwan, though, so this study’s findings may not apply overseas. As with other dairy and meat items, antibiotics fed to chickens could crop up in the end product (under USDA-established tolerable levels, of course), so skip conventional eggs if this is a personal concern.

 

This article originally appeared on Greatist.com

 

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Another Reason to Never Eat Fast Food Again (That Has Nothing to Do With Fat)

Add this to the list of reasons a drive-thru meal isn’t good for you: the paper it comes packaged in may contain chemicals linked to serious health problems, according to a new study.

The Silent Spring Institute, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), and the Green Science Policy Institute teamed up with researchers at the University of Notre Dame and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to analyze more than 400 wrappers and containers from 27 fast-food chains throughout the country. About half the wrappers tested contained flourine, a marker for fluoridated compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs).

PFASs (formerly called PFCs) make food wrappers and boxes resistant to grease. (Consumers are also exposed to PFASs in certain types of nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, and stain-resistant products.) Previous studies have linked PFAS exposure to fertility and thyroid problems, developmental delays in children, increased cancer risk, and other outcomes. 

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Further analysis of 20 samples found that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)—a long-chain PFAS that’s been linked to heart disease and is currently being phased out in the United States—was among the fluoridated compounds present. 

This study only looked at the presence of PFASs in the wrappers themselves, and not in the food they contained, or in the people consuming them. But previous research has suggested that PFASs have the potential to leach into food. 

“It’s difficult to know how much will actually migrate, because it depends on temperature, the type of food, how long the food is in contact with the paper, and what specific PFASs you’re talking about,” says lead author Laurel Schaider, PhD, an environmental chemist at Silent Spring Institute.

RELATED: 24 Things You Should Never Order When You Eat Out

Research has shown that long-chain PFASs can remain in the body for years. They can also accumulate in landfills when products like food wrappers are discarded, where they can leach into the environment and affect drinking water, they authors say.

You can’t tell by looking at a wrapper or food container whether it contains PFASs, says Schaider; they’re even currently allowed in compostable materials. So the best way to avoid it in fast-food wrappers is to simply avoid fast food. (That’s especially important for kids, she adds, who are more sensitive to harmful chemicals.) 

“I think we all already have some reasons to reduce how much fast food we consume, and this may be another one,” she says. “If you’re going to eat it, you could try to get the food out of the wrapper as quickly as possible—that might help a little bit,” she says.

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The study was published today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. The EWG also published a companion report, recommending that all fast-food companies stop using fluorinated compounds in their packaging, and that the Food and Drug Administration further restrict their use in products that have contact with food.

The EWG report also suggests that consumers reduce their exposure to PFASs by eating fresh food and preparing meals at home, avoiding the use of paper tableware, and not buying microwave popcorn. (Make it on the stove instead.)

Consumers can also call or write to fast-food chains they frequent, says Schaider, letting companies know that they don’t want hazardous fluoridated chemicals in their food wrappers. And they can look out for other popular sources of PFASs, like nonstick cookware and stain-resistant carpet and furniture treatments.

“We can be exposed to these chemicals through many different pathways, and all those exposures can add up,” she says. “Even if we can’t avoid all of them, every little bit can help.”

 

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5 Healthy Baking Swaps You Need to Try

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For me, baking is pure bliss. I love whipping up brownies, cupcakes, cookies, pies, and cornbread. But as a nutritionist, I also want to feel good about my goodies, whether I’m eating them myself or sharing them with friends and family. To that end I’m always playing around with better-for-you ingredient substitutions.

Here are five swaps that will shore up your baked goods’ nutritional profile, while also enhancing the flavor and texture (I promise!).

Trade butter for avocado

I’ve heard avocado referred to as nature’s butter, and the name truly fits. I enjoy avocado’s creamy goodness whipped into smoothies, spread on whole grain toast, or as the base for a dip, but it’s also fantastic in baked good recipes. Just trade each tablespoon of butter in a recipe for half a tablespoon of avocado. This swap slashes calories, and still provides the satisfying texture you crave in a dessert, while also delivering heart-healthier, waistline-trimming monounsaturated fat (MUFAs for short), and significantly boosting the vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant makeup of your treat. Just one note: you might want to use this trick in recipes with cocoa, which masks the color. I’ve used avocado in blondies and cookies, and while the texture and flavor were fantastic, there was a distinct green tint!

RELATED: 9 Healthier Dessert Recipes for Fall

Replace wheat flour with bean flour

While I tested negative for Celiac disease I do feel better when I avoid gluten. Fortunately there are a number of gluten-free flours ideal for baking that also add bonus fiber, protein, and nutrients. One of my favorites is garbanzo bean flour. A quarter cup packs 5g of fiber (versus just 1g in the same amount of all-purpose flour) and I love the nutty flavor and heartiness but not heaviness it adds to brownies and muffins. Substitute it in a one-to-one swap for all-purpose or wheat flour. It should work well in any baking recipe.

RELATED: 16 Easy, Guilt-Free Cookie Recipes

Use coconut oil in place of shortening

Shortening and coconut oil look similar in that both are generally white and solid at room temperature. The difference is shortening is solid because a liquid oil was hydrogenated to make it solid—a man-made process that’s far from natural. Partial hydrogenation creates trans fat, the nutritional villain that’s been linked to a host of health problems, from heart disease and type 2 diabetes to fertility challenges. Fully hydrogenated oil (aka interesterified oil), while technically trans fat free, may be even worse for your health. A Brandeis University study found that subjects who consumed products made with interesterified oil experienced a decrease in their “good” HDL cholesterol and a significant rise in blood sugar about a 20% spike in just four weeks.

Enter coconut oil, a natural plant-based fat, which also supplies antioxidants similar to those found in berries, grapes, and dark chocolate. While high in saturated fat, newer research confirms that not all saturated fats are bad for you. Coconut oil contains a type called medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, which are metabolized in a unique way. This good fat has actually been shown to up “good” HDL, reduce waist circumference, and increase calorie burning. For baking, substitute it one-for-one for shortening. It’s amazing in pie crust and chocolate chip cookies!

RELATED: Good Fats, Bad Fats: How to Choose

Swap some sugar for pureed fruit

While fat used to be public enemy #1, today’s nutritional wisdom dictates including good fats (such as avocado and coconut oil) and shunning refined sugar. While removing it entirely in baking isn’t always possible, I have found that I can replace up to 50% of it with pureed fruit, such as bananas, pears, apples, mangoes, papayas, and dried dates or figs pureed with water. In addition to being bundled with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, the naturally occurring sugar in fruit is much less concentrated. For example, a quarter cup (4 tablespoons) of mashed banana contains less than 7 grams of sugar, compared to 12 grams in just one tablespoon of table sugar. The replacement ratio can be a little tricky, because some fruits are sweeter than others, but I often find that a quarter cup of pureed fruit can replace a half cup of sugar. (Note: I don’t like my baked goods overly sweet, so some bakers may prefer a one-to-one replacement.) And because fruit has a higher water content, you’ll also need to reduce the liquid in the recipe a bit, typically by a quarter cup.

RELATED: 23 Superfruits You Need Now!

Upgrade chocolate chips to dark chocolate chunks

I’m always singing the praises of dark chocolate, and the research just keeps coming. A study out this month found that gut bacteria ferment dark chocolate to produce substances that fight inflammation, a known trigger of aging and diseases, including obesity. Most of the research about chocolate’s benefits has been done with 70%t dark, and the chocolate chips you’ll find in the baking aisle are likely 34% or less (I have seen one brand of 70% but it can be hard to find and quite expensive), so I recommend using a chopped dark chocolate bar instead. It’s easy peasy, and some research shows that chocolate’s aroma, which is released when it’s chopped, pre-sates the palate, which may naturally help you gobble less of the goodies. P.S. If you love chocolate, check out my vegan chocolate brownie recipe with a secret superstar ingredient (hint: it’s a veggie). To make them gluten-free use garbanzo bean flour in place of the whole wheat pastry flour.

RELATED: 7 Healthy Holiday Cookie Recipes

What are your thoughts on this topic? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches. Connect with Cynthia on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

 

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5 New Waters to Try That Go Way Beyond Coconut

Plain old water is awesome for your body—we all know that. (To recap: H2O helps with digestion, keeps your skin looking good, and may even help with weight loss.)

That said, some people just aren’t that into it, maybe because of the taste, or the lack thereof. Here’s a potential solution for the meh-about-water types: plant-based versions. If you’re not regularly downing nature’s clear stuff, testing these waters could get you closer to your fluid goal; some may even give you bonus health perks. (Don’t go on a guzzle binge, though—unlike actual water, these all contain sugar, some more than others.)

RELATED: 7 Easy Ways to Drink More Water

Here, five new-to-the-market varieties—beyond coconut—that might tempt your water-hating tastebuds:

Maple water

Try: DrinkMaple ($42 for 12 bottles; amazon.com)
The sugar factor: 5 grams in a 12-ounce bottle
What to know: You’ll get a slight hint of sweetness from this water tapped from maple trees. There are no ingredients added, and it’s not sticky like sap or syrup.

RELATED: 10 Ways to Use Maple Syrup Beyond Breakfast

 

Cactus water

Try: Caliwater ($35 for 12 bottles; amazon.com)
The sugar factor: 9 grams in an 11.2-ounce bottle
What to know: It’s made from prickly pear cactus puree, along with its extract. Prickly pear water, specifically, may boast antioxidants like betalains.

Photo: courtesy of Caliwater

RELATED: 6 Things You Should Know About Water (But Probably Don’t)

 

 

Birch tree water

Try: Byarozavik Birch Tree Water ($42; amazon.com)
The sugar factor: 18 grams in a 17-ounce bottle
What to know: This traditional Scandinavian water comes from birch tree sap, which is slightly syrupy, but still goes down practically like water, and contains trace amounts of minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, potassium, and magnesium.

Photo: courtesy of Byarozavik

RELATED: Fight Cellulite with Water

 

 

Watermelon water

Try: WTRMLN WTR ($53 for 12 bottles; amazon.com)
The sugar factor: 18 grams in a 12-ounce bottle
What to know: Just three ingredients go into this cold-pressed water (that’s technically a juice, but with less sugar than most): watermelon flesh, watermelon rind, and lemon—i.e., no extra sugar is added.

Photo: courtesy of WTRMLN WR

RELATED: You’ve Been Cutting Watermelon All Wrong

 

 

Aloe vera water

Try: Aloe Gloe ($29 for 12 bottles; amazon.com)
The sugar factor: 8 grams in a 15.2-ounce bottle
What to know: The drink is made with organic aloe vera leaf gel powder (which apparently is a thing?). That’s combined with water, cane sugar, and Stevia.

Photo: courtesy of Aloe Gloe

 RELATED: 4 Cool Uses for Aloe

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