Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Amazing Kiwi

The scientific name for kiwi is very appropriate, actinidia deliciosa. Now I have no idea where actinidia comes from but completely agree with the deliciosa part. Once you get past the tough and creepily hairy outside, the bright green fruit of the kiwi is a delicious treat! Whether eating it straight out of the skin or enjoying its unique color in a fruit salad, the kiwi never disappoints. In nutrient content, the kiwi continues to perform. With more fiber and nearly double the potassium and vitamin C of an orange, there’s no denying the nutritiousness of the kiwi.

Now let’s talk about that hairy skin and other odd quirks. At first the kiwi fuzz might be a turnoff for some. Peeling off the skin with a paring knife or slicing the kiwi and scooping out the flesh are common solutions. A lazy option (and I do love to be a lazy cook) is to simply rub the skin vigorously to remove the fuzz and then eat the fruit whole. The skin is surprisingly thin and unobtrusive.

Another common complaint about the kiwi is how quickly they spoil after being cut. Unfortunately there is no lazy solution here. Kiwis contain enzymes which are activated when it’s cut. Once activated, the enzymes quickly begin breaking it down as well as any other fruit they come in contact with. Cut your kiwi as soon before eating it as possible and don’t plan on saving any leftovers. This doesn’t apply to cooked dishes because the enzymes are deactivated with heat.

In honor of this nutritious and delicious fruit, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite ways to enjoy kiwi (in no particular order):

  • Fresh, right out of (or including) the skin
  • Dried into kiwi chips
  • Cut in a fruit or green salad
  • Cut over cereal or pancakes
  • Chopped in plain yogurt or parfait
  • Baked into bread
  • Pureed in a smoothie
  • Juiced or pureed in a mixed drink
  • In jams and jellies
  • Mixed in sauces or marinades
  • Sliced over ice cream or shortcake
  • Topping for fruit pizza

No matter how you enjoy your nutritious kiwis, enjoy them while they last. California kiwi are available through winter and into spring. Get yours before they’re gone.

Smart Chicken, More than just a Name

One of my goals as your grocery store dietitian is to help you, the customer, cut through the marketing and see what’s really behind the products on your grocery store shelf. That’s why I set out to investigate Smart Chicken and find out if the company really lived up to its name. What I found was a company, Tecumseh Farms, founded on the idea that the best tasting chicken would come from humanely treated birds and a concern for the welfare of its employees and the environment. The company is now a responsible farm system that produces some of the highest quality chicken on the market.

Better than local

Local works when the community has the resources to support the business. Utah lacks the abundance of water and feed required to grow chickens on a large scale. Tecumseh Farms are located in the Midwest, home to the Ogallala aquifer, the biggest natural underwater aquifer in the nation, as well as the largest producers of corn and soy, the primary feed of chickens. Since it requires 2-3 pounds of feed per pound of usable meat, reducing the miles traveled by the feed actually does more for the environment than reducing how far the final chicken travels. By situating themselves in the ideal area to raise chickens, they can produce them in a more environmentally friendly way than any large local operation could.

Sustainable farms

2-3 pounds of feed per pound of meat not only means it’s better to grow the chickens near the feed, it also means for every pound of organic chicken, you’re supporting the growth of 2-3 pounds of organic crops. Some Tecumseh Farms chickens are not organic but even those are raised with a higher degree of sustainability than industry standards. Tecumseh farms achieved a “Great” rating from Howgood, a third-party organization that rates food companies based on their sustainability and business practices.

Humane animal treatment

Tecumseh Farms is certified humane through the Humane Farm Animal Care program, a third party certification organization recognized by Consumer Reports Greener Choices. Being certified humane, Tecumseh Farms is subject to periodic audits to ensure minimum space requirements and facility requirements are met. These requirements are designed to minimize the boredom and stress of the animals while ensuring their comfort. Standards also ensure that animals are killed in a way that minimizes pain and discomfort.

Higher quality meat

According to the USDA, simply being organic doesn’t mean the chicken is any more nutritious or better tasting than conventionally raised chicken. It’s not through its organic practices, but rather those that go above and beyond organic that led to Smart Chicken being identified through an independent university study as tenderer than a competing brand. The secret, according to Tecumseh Farms, is its more humane mode of slaughtering the chickens which avoids bruising and bone breakage as well as a meticulous quality assurance program.

Other thoughts

While not all of the chicken produced is organic, all chicken produced by Tecumseh Farms is raised without antibiotics. Antibiotic use in animal production has been identified by the American Medical Association, World Health Organization, and a variety of other organizations as a serious public health concern due to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria through its abuse. All chickens are also 100% vegetarian fed. They meat is also air chilled rather than chilled in a highly-chlorinated ice bath with other chickens as is the industry standard. This reduces the spread of bacteria and also improves the taste of the meat.

While the price of organic and sustainably raised chicken is higher than conventional chicken, the value in terms of taste, sustainability, and animal welfare, truly make Smart Chicken a great buy. If you are on a budget, start small. Substitute one meals every week or two for Smart Chicken and gradually increase frequency as you are able. Buying whole chickens may also be a more economical option than purchasing chicken breast or other trimmed meat. Stop in to your local Associated Food Store and get yours today!

Yummy Pet Cookies

Yummy Pet Cookies

Cookies for dogs and cats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups wheat germ
  • 3 (2.5 ounce) jars strained chicken baby food
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees In a medium bowl.
  2. Mix the wheat germ, baby food, and water together. Add more water if necessary to form a dough.
  3. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork dipped in water.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven.

Protect your pets during winter

 

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Brrrr – It’s cold outside! As winter settles in, here are a few tips to remember to ensure a healthy season for your furry friends. As most pet lovers know, winter can be a challenge for our pets.

  • Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs or wildlife.
  • During the cold winter months, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can easily become lost. Make sure your dog always wears ID tags.
  • Be sure to always thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow and ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in the winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short breed dog? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may difficult to housebreak during the winter months. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
  • Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him, and his fur, in tip-top shape.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • Make sure your furry companion has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

Healthy Salad Dressing Ideas

With its rainbow of fresh produce, a salad can be a delicious and striking part of your meal…not to mention loaded with nutrients! Now, if dousing your salad with a calorie-laden dressing is the only way to get your picky eaters to enjoy it, I’ll call that a win. A better option (double win?) would be to use a lighter, healthier dressing. Here are five healthy and delicious salad dressings you can make in less than five minutes:

  1. Arugula Salad with Grape Tomatoes and Shaved Red Onions – There’s beauty in simplicity with this quick and easy salad. The peppery arugula is complimented perfectly in taste and appearance by a few simple savory ingredients.
  2. Balsamic Vinaigrette – Offering a distinctive, Mediterranean flavor, this dressing pairs wonderfully with baby spinach, pomegranate seeds, and pine nuts.
  3. Greek Yogurt Caesar Salad – The Greek yogurt provides the creamy texture you’ve come to expect in a Caesar salad with less fat and more protein. I guarantee you won’t miss your old Caesar one bit!
  4. Oriental Dressing – This savory dressing offers just a hint of sweet and pairs wonderfully with mild salads. Try yours with spring mix, julienned carrots, bean sprouts, and cucumber!
  5. Raspberry Vinaigrette – The raspberry vinegar lends a deep, complex flavor with fruit undertones to this salad dressing. Pairs well with spring mix, sliced radishes, and sliced green apples.

Enjoy making these healthy salad dressings and get that double win at your next meal!

Ron