To follow up on our post last week about which milk personality you are, let’s take a look at the different types of “cow’s milk” and what benefit they give you. With so many choices available to the consumer in every market, from personalized pens to macaroni and cheese and, yes, milk, sometimes it can be difficult what option is best for you and your family.
At this point, whole milk drinkers are becoming a dying breed, though whole milk certainly has plenty of loyalists as well. At 146 calories per serving size (244 grams), with a little less than half coming from fat, whole milk is definitely the least-healthy option out of those discussed here. Whole milk is a good source of Vitamin D, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Calcium, and Phosphorus.
Whole milk’s appeal, of course, is its richness and quality, which certainly cannot be replaced by any of the other milk options. For this reason, it may be the best option for small children who are average weight or underweight and won’t drink milk unless it’s whole milk.
For those who want a little more richness than provided by skim milk but a more healthy option than whole milk, 2% is the ultimate compromise. 2% milk has a little over half the fat content of whole milk, but only 30 less calories per serving size. 2% has a thicker and more flavorful taste than skim milk, so it might be a better option for those who value taste more than other factors but need to cut down on the fat content of whole milk.
Skim, or nonfat, milk seems to be something that people either love or hate. Unlike the others, skim milk is low in saturated fat and cholesterol while still providing the same health benefits as the other types of milk. Skim milk has over 33% less calories than whole milk and none of the fat content. Skim milk also has the same calcium content as any other type of milk, so don’t get tricked into thinking otherwise.
The key with skim milk is making it a habit, especially before you really become reliant on heavier types of milk. For that reason, if you’re planning on introducing skim milk to children, doing so should occur at the earliest age possible so they’re used to the taste and texture before they’re old enough to notice that there’s a difference.
The bottom line
Each type of milk provides different a different taste, texture, and, sometimes unfortunately, fat content, but all provide a good source of calcium and other important nutrients. From a health standpoint, skim milk is the clear winner, as it provides the same health benefits without the fat content of 2% or whole milk while maintaining some semblance of the taste.
I was in the grocery store the other day and stood in front of the milk section for a good ten minutes just looking through the varieties. Gone are the days when there were just one of two cartons on display, separated only by their fat content. Now we’ve got all sorts of milk – ones from different animals, organic varieties, and even non-dairy selections like soy, rice, almond, or even coconut. So how are we supposed to choose? Are they all as nutritious as the regular cow milk? And most importantly, how do they taste in comparison?
Here’s a little run-down of the wide varieties of milk products available to help you choose your “milk personality”:
The good ‘ol cows’ milk
If you’re more of a traditionalist, this is the only true option for milk. Even the fat percentage variations are a little too “modern” and you think we should just stick to whole, or 2% in emergencies, as you can successfully identify the difference in taste between the two. The taste is thirst-quenching with its mild and smooth flavor, and you cannot even think of a food that it cannot be paired perfectly with. Cow’s milk has the most calcium, and almost double the protein of any other type of milk, so this is definitely a nutritious choice.
This type of milk is commonly used in all parts of the world as a staple beverage and ingredient. It packs as much calcium as whole cow’s milk and also has an added amino acid, tryptophan, that is a bonus health boost. You’re a goats’ milk drinker if you are a fan of its distinct taste — a combination of sweet and salty and its stronger smell as compared to cows’ milk.
If you’re lactose intolerant, this is one of the tasty options available to you. Made by soaking soybeans and grinding them with water, soy milk is rich in protein and calcium and has no saturated fat. It also scores low in calories and comes in many flavors so if you’re not a fan of the traditional taste of cows’ milk, you can buy a vanilla or chocolate flavored soy milk to sweeten things up!
If you’re not concerned about reaping the nutritional benefits from your food, then rice milk could be a good alternative for you. It comes in plain or vanilla flavors and is lactose- and soy-free. It’s made from ground rice, and it is very low in fat and calories, but lacks essential nutrients like Vitamins A and C and any significant amount of protein.
If you’re up for trying new things, I bet you’ve been eying the almond milk in the grocery store. Made from ground almonds mixed with water and sweetener, almond milk has become quite popular in the last several years and for good reason. It shares several properties of dairy milk, with its wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and a comparable fat content. Almond milk also has a rich, nutty taste and comes in several flavors, making it an attractive alternative for those allergic to dairy or soy. Be careful about the sugar content though – it would be wise of you to check out the label on the carton to make sure you’re drinking the healthy stuff.
This type of milk is a staple in the areas of Indian and Thai cooking and is quite flavorful. It’s made from ground coconut meat and juices, giving it a rich, creamy texture. If you’re up for a new taste, I would suggest trying it out, but in small quantities because just 1 cup of coconut milk packs in 467 calories! However, its fats are more easily digested than those in dairy milks and it is low in cholesterol, so it does have some nutritional benefits, but it is best enjoyed as an indulgence.
When we think of the spring time, we usually think of budding flowers, warmer weather, picnics, and of course, pollen, runny noses and sneezing. While seasonal allergies of this type are usually nothing more than a nuisance, there are other types of allergies that are much more serious and even life-threatening.These are known as food allergies.
Food allergies are quite common; studies have shown that about 4 percent of the adult population and about 4 to 6 percent of children have allergic reactions to food. Many children outgrow their allergies over time as they develop and get introduced to new types of fruits, vegetables, nuts and meats. Some allergies, like peanut and shellfish, stay for a lifetime and cannot be outgrown. Anyone can acquire a food allergy at any time in life. It can also be genetic; if there is a family history of any allergy, asthma, or atopic dermatitis a child is more likely to develop a food allergy. Also, if an immediate family member has a peanut allergy, their child is at an increased risk for developing peanut allergy.
The tricky thing with food allergies is that someone may not know that they will have a reaction until they ingest a certain type of food that triggers the allergy. The most common symptoms of allergic reactions to foods may involve the skin (causing rashes, hives, itching or swelling), respiratory tract (wheezing, cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath, sneezing, runny nose), cardiovascular system (dizziness, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness, chest pain) and gastro-intestinal tract (including stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea). Considering the large amount of symptoms, experts still do not know why some people have mild reactions and others face life threatening reactions.
Chances are that if you’re an adult and you’ve eaten a range of food over your lifetime without any disturbances, you likely do not have any food allergies. But for children in particular, it is important to introduce small amounts of different types of foods individually to acquaint the body to the food and to help target the specific allergen to trigger.
There are a range of foods that can cause reactions, but it is estimated that 90 percent of food allergies come from 8 different types of foods. Even the slightest hint of the food can trigger a severe reaction, so caution should be used if you know of an allergy. Sometimes even smelling or touching the food can bring on a reaction, without even ingesting or consuming the item at all.
Tree nut (like almonds, walnuts, and pecans)
Crustacean shellfish (like shrimp or lobster)
If you know you or someone you are with has a food allergy, it is important to be aware of your activities at all times. Dining out can pose a significant threat, so it is important to notify your server so they can make sure proper steps are taken in the kitchen to eliminate any contact or contamination. Even going out for ice cream can often be a hazard; many ice cream scoops come in contact with a range of ingredients, from milk and peanuts to syrups and fruit.
If the allergy is one that is known to cause severe reactions like respiratory complications, it would be beneficial to carry an epinephrine auto-injector (or “EpiPen”) in your car, bag or pocket. If you are subject to other, less severe reactions like small rashes or hives, having a few tablets of an antihistamine or Diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl) with you at all times is a good precaution. Many people with severe reactions also carry an Allergy Action Plan that is signed by their doctor and lists emergency contacts, steps to take with severe reactions, and instructions on how to administer an EpiPen injection. This document can be saved or scanned into an electronic medical record, or “EMR“, so that it can be accessed quickly and easily by a computer even outside of the physician’s office.
The most important thing to remember with food allergies is to always be aware of the foods that may contain or may come in contact with ingredients that trigger reactions. If you are unsure of foods that may cause a reaction, you can go to an allergist who can test your skin to see if a larger reaction is likely to occur.
References: National Peanut Board, The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
For years our government has steered the nation’s nutritional guidelines by the all-encompassing Food Pyramid that was designed to organize our portions and consumption of healthy choices. Problem was, it wasn’t very accurate because it didn’t clearly distinguish between the items of nutritional value like fruits and whole grains with less nutritious foods like white grains or bacon, and many people found it to be complicated and confusing.
The pyramid was displayed all over, from school text books to the packaging on frozen meals, but it was often stripped of its content and left consumers wondering what it even represented. As a result of this, it was often overlooked, and became just another graphic on a box already filled with too much information. It seemed as if the “steps to a healthier you” approach to the Food Pyramid weren’t leading up to healthy choices.
The current Obama administration took notice, and a new initiative was led by the First Lady to restructure our food guidelines and combat obesity which has become a chronic problem in our country. The new food guidelines were released recently, and the layout seems to be a bit easier to understand and is visually representative of the portions we are supposed to be eating. See what you think:
It does seem to be a bit clearer in terms of portion sizes, but it is quite simplified. No longer do they list the key items that each of those categories contains, but the biggest problem that it solved was showing what the ideal food plate should look like. It is a good model to follow, especially if we are teaching this to our children in health education classes at an early age.
What is also great about the new food plate is that it shows a balanced diet. Many people also think that they must eliminate certain types of food all together, like red meats or carbs from rice and bread, or eat only vegetables for every meal. This plate shows that it is okay to have a range of foods in controlled portions, and that combined with other nutritious choices, we can find a happy medium for any type of palette.
We have all heard from since we were little kids that one of the best ways to stay healthy is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, but whether or not we’ve followed that rule is a different story. Believe it or not, it’s easy to stay healthy if we are dedicated to eating fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables at nearly every meal. Making a small adjustment in your diet can make you feel great and lighten your step while providing a deliciously fresh new array of foods for you to introduce to your palette.
Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables is a great idea because they are often inexpensive and loaded with tons of nutrients and intense flavor. Buying these items frozen or dried is not a bad idea, but nothing beats munching on a crisp, vibrant fruit or veggie when it’s in its prime.
A plate that includes colorful vegetables is not just appealing to the eye; your tummy will thank you too! A wide variety of produce also provides your body with a number of health promoting benefits, such as vitamins, minerals and fiber. It’s important to eat a wide variety of colorful vegetables and fruits every day, so load up your plate with color. Some of the best choices are dark leafy greens, cooked tomatoes, and anything that’s a rich yellow, orange, or red color.
Though seasonal items vary slightly by region, here is a quick list of some fruits and veggies according to the season in which they can be easily harvested, be readily available in grocery stores, and be at their tastiest.
Those marked with * signal a superfood packed with essential nutrients!
Green beans Zucchini Cucumbers
Garlic Lettuce Squash
Tomatoes* Peppers Potatoes
Okra Rhubarb Onions
Radishes Corn Sweet Potatoes*
Eggplant Black-eyed peas
Blueberries* Melons Pears
Red Grapes Apples Kiwi
Strawberries Nectarines Plums
Raspberries Watermelon Mango
Cherries Peaches Pineapple
Oranges* Papaya Figs
Beets Chestnuts Sweet Potatoes* Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage Parsnips Swiss Chard Broccoli*
Cauliflower Squash Endive Spinach*
Apples Clementines Grapes Pomegranate
Avacado Cranberries Grapefruit Pear
Bananas Figs Kiwi Pumpkin*
Artichoke Cauliflower Radishes
Bok Choy Celery Root Snow Peas
Broccoli Rabe Kale Watercress
Kumquat Persimmons Cranberries
Passion Fruit Pummelo Grapefruit
Pears Tangerines Bananas
Artichoke Beets Fava Beans Leeks
Arugula Cardoons Green Garlic Mint
Asparagus Carrots Scallions Parsley
Apricots Cantaloupe Casaba Melon
Strawberries Currants Papaya
Blueberries* Cherries Pineapple
So whether you are an avid fruit and veggie eater or your prefer to just push them around on your plate, it is so important to realize their nutritional value. Next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to check out the fruit and produce section and try out some new and tasty seasonal pieces, and if you’re feeling especially inspired, the spring and summer seasons are perfect for planting your own garden. It’s a great way to save money and learn how to appreciate the fruits of our earth!
References: WebMD, Harvard School of Public Health
For the night owls and college students out there, the late-night snack is a way of life. It’s also a tough meal to tackle considering the circumstances. You don’t want something too filling that will sit in your stomach when you lay down to sleep in an hour or two, but you also want something that will satisfy your craving. Unfortunately, often times this does not lead to healthy choices, as this craving generally involves something sweet or salty, and we often regret our late-night snack choices.
It doesn’t have to be this way! You can have a satisfying late-night snack without the unneeded calories and uncomfortable feeling in your stomach when you lay down in bed. Below are our suggestions on some healthy late-night snacks for you to try.
A healthy snack with plenty of different flavors to choose from, yogurt is perfect for when you’re craving a sweet late-night snack. If you’re looking for something a little more filling or just look for a different texture, try adding granola to it. Sometimes your late-night craving may require two cups, especially if you’re choosing (which you should be) to eat light yogurt.
No need for salty, buttery popcorn when a much healthier version tastes so good. Orville Redenbacher’s SmartPop pocorn is 94% fat free and a full-size bag is under 300 calories. A whole bag will definitely fill you up, so you might want to put some in a ziplock bag for tomorrow’s lunch.
Whole wheat bagel
Bagels are one of the few foods that can be eaten at any time, day or night. We suggested peanut butter as the best topping for breakfast, but that may fill you up a little too much during the late-night hours. Jelly or strawberry cream cheese is the ideal topping to quench the late-night craving for something sweet.
This breakfast food makes a perfect snack that will fill you up without you feeling bloated when you go to sleep an hour or two later. Oatmeal is a good source of fiber and a very tasty snack, not to mention it’s extremely easy to prepare. Try adding raisins or nuts to make it a little more filling and to get a wider variety of nutrition.
As long as you keep the amount somewhat reasonable, pretzels will fill you up and satisfy that craving for a salty snack. A good way to limit the amount you eat is to pour them in a bowl instead of eating straight out of the bag. Dip them in a little peanut butter if you want a more filling snack.
Yes, this also made our list of best protein-filled breakfasts, but trail mix is among the most versatile snack foods out there for a reason. It mixes the salty and sweet flavors that you will be craving late at night and is more healthy than other options that accomplish the same thing.
You’re sitting at your desk in the office, or you’re struggling to pay attention in Spanish class, or maybe you’re on the treadmill at the gym. A rumble in your stomach doesn’t care what you’re doing, it will present itself unannounced at any given time. “But wait,” you ask yourself, “didn’t I just eat breakfast an hour ago?”
The importance of including protein in your breakfast cannot be understated and can mean a significant difference in your morning productivity, and who wouldn’t like that? While you may currently be eating what feels like a full breakfast, sometimes a lack of protein can contribute to feeling hungry after what seems like no time at all.
Now, you may be saying that you don’t have the time in the morning to make sure protein is in your breakfast (or to eat breakfast at all). Nonsense! It doesn’t take much time or effort to make sure you’re getting enough protein in the morning. Here are a few of our favorite options.
Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter
Portable and filling, a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter is perfect for a quick, protein-filled breakfast. While you may already include a bagel in the breakfast that currently leaves you hungry after an hour or two, the addition of peanut butter makes a significant difference. Plus, the whole grains also provide you with protein and fiber. Add a glass of orange juice to this for a balanced and healthy start to your day.
Easy to munch on during your morning commute or while you’re getting ready for work or school, trail mix provides a variety of nutritional value and enough protein to get you through the morning. While many are very healthy, be careful of trail mixes that include an abundance of sweets.
The best part about protein shakes is the endless amount of flavors and ingredient combinations available. Protein powder is much more tasty than it used to be, so get rid of that old perception of it tasting like chalk, and even if you still don’t like the taste it can easily be masked by other ingredients. Add milk, ice, peanut butter, and even some fruit (banana and peanut butter is a great combination) and turn on the blender. This is another protein-filled breakfast that can be consumed “on the go” by simply putting it in a water bottle or travel mug.
They may be less practical for those busy work or school mornings, but eggs are a classic and versatile source of protein. If you prefer them scrambled, add some skim milk and low-fat cheese! Best of all, they will probably last you all the way until lunchtime and are among the most inexpensive options. If you have a big day, and more specifically a big morning, ahead of you, eggs are worth the extra few minutes before you rush out the door.