A few products to try...

Celebrity endorsements play a big role in “creating value, recognition, and credibility” for brand name products, according to a study by English researchers.  These same endorsements can prompt your kids to dig into a hefty bowl of high fat, high salt junk food.  That’s great news for advertisers, not so great for kids.  Just this week, Shaquille O’Neal made the announcement on Twitter that he’d be launching a new line of sodas.  Bottom line:  celebrity endorsements can/do influence what we buy. 

While I may not be a celebrity, in some realms of the world I am a nutrition expert.  I’m always trying to educate my clients on label reading and trying to sift through the latest nutrition information to make sense of it all.  Believe me, it’s confusing!  Here are 5 products/foods that I use myself (because I wouldn’t promote something if I didn’t use it myself).  Take it or leave it.  I don’t work for these companies and surely am not profiting from promoting them.  My goal is for people to be eating healthier.  I always encourage people to make one change at a time.  If one of these products is something you can switch out with what you’re using now, I’ll consider that a step in the right direction.

Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock – I know all of us would love to make homemade chicken stock, but the reality is who has time?  Many of the other store-bought stocks are loaded with salt, MSG, and many other ingredients we can’t even name.  Here’s a chicken stock that tastes like homemade (only YOU didn’t have to make it).  The ingredients:  chicken stock, chicken flavor, vegetable stocks (carrot, onion, mushroom, celery), honey, bay, thyme, pepper.   It’s not sodium free but it does only have 150 milligrams per cup (200 mg for their Beef flavor and 240 mg for the Vegetable).  Again other brands can have upwards of 850 mg of sodium per cup-way too much!  This stock is one you’ll want to invest in.

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Gia Russa Low Sodium Tomato & Basil – once again, I’d love to make homemade spaghetti sauce, but the truth is I don’t.  I need that go to sauce that I grab to make spaghetti quickly!  In comes Gia Russa’s Low Sodium Tomato & Basil.  The ingredients:  plum tomatoes, olive oil, fresh onions, fresh basil, fresh garlic, spices, xanthum gum, garlic powder, onion powder.  At just 20 milligrams of sodium per ½ cup this spaghetti sauce is delicious without all the sodium!  Some spaghetti sauces out on the market can go as high as 800 mg of sodium per ½ cup.  Sodium is one of those hidden dangers that we need to be aware of.  I’m not sure too many people would think of spaghetti sauce as having sodium, but it does.  Whether I’m making manicotti, lasagna, or just plain old spaghetti (I am ¼ Italian), this is my go to sauce!

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Qrunch Quinoa Burgers – They were taste testing the other day in the supermarket that I was in.  I do love to sample foods, so I thought, why not?  I’m glad I did.  I’m a pescetarian and it’s almost summertime – what’s a girl to put on the grill when they’re grilling up all the hamburgers and hot dogs?  The Quinoa burger!  The ingredients:  Organic Millet, Organic Ouinoa, Organic Coconut oil, Organic Onion, Organic Carrots, Organic Broccoli, Organic Spinach, Arrowroot starch, Organic Apple cider vinegar, Psyllium seed powder, Sea salt, Organic garlic, Canola oil.  This frozen veggie burger is full of flavor without a lot of sodium (just 150 milligrams per burger).  I can’t wait for the 1st bbq of the summer – I’ll have a veggie burger I can put on the grill.  My only beef is that it probably should’ve been called a millet burger (since that is the 1st ingredient).

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LӓraBar – Cashew Cookie – I normally make my own version of a Lӓrabar and switch it up by changing the nut that I use - walnuts, cashews, or almonds mixed together with dates.  But again I know not everyone has time for that.  The Lӓrabar is a great fruit & nut food bar to have around, whether it’s a mid-afternoon snack or whether it’s an “energy” bar you’re using on race day.  The ingredients:  cashews and dates.  (There are many flavors of the Lӓrabar out there.   Most are great and with minimal ingredients.  My recommendation is to stay away from the chocolate flavored ones – too many extra calories and no longer minimal ingredients).  There are many “energy” bars/granola bars on the market and many times they start adding in too many ingredients.  Lӓrabar is as simple as simple can be (& they taste good!)  So whether it’s that mid-afternoon snack that you need to fill the void or whether you need a little boost on your race day, Lӓrabar is a great combination of carbohydrate, fat, and protein that will help sustain you.

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Papaya – while this isn’t a processed food in a package it is often a fruit that’s avoided in the produce department.  Maybe we’re just more comfortable with our go-to fruits:  apples, oranges, & bananas.  Maybe it’s because you’re not sure what you’re getting on the inside (I’ve been known to pick a not so delicious papaya).  Or maybe it’s because you’re not sure how to eat it.  Whatever the reason, people tend to pass them by.  Don’t.  Papayas are sometimes referred to as nutritional powerhouses.  Each cup of cubed papaya has 2 ½ grams of fiber, ~1 ½-day supply of vitamin C, & 28% of a day’s vitamin A, 14% of a day’s folate, and 6% of a day’s potassium, all for just 60 calories.  Just slice the fruit open, scoop out the seeds, and cut the fruit away from the skin.  Enjoy as is or maybe make a refreshing salsa (diced papaya with black beans, diced red bell pepper, minced red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, and lime juice.  Leave the beans out and you’ve got a great topping for grilled chicken or fish).  Next time you’re in the produce department hopefully you’ll give that papaya a chance!

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So there it is.  A few products you’ll actually find in my kitchen that are edible, healthy and won’t contribute to the obesity problem in America.  Now if only I was a celebrity and people would listen