Category Archives: Nutrition

Healthy Holiday Oranges

We sprinkle a little lemon juice over guacamole and apple slices to keep them from turning brown but have you ever wondered just how lemons work their magic? It’s the antioxidants. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that turns apples brown, causes rust to form on your car, and is also responsible for the hardening of your blood vessels – the first stage of heart disease. Antioxidants help prevent oxidation and they’re in all citrus, not just lemons. While vitamin C is the most well-known antioxidant in citrus fruits, there are more than sixty bioflavonoids that are also antioxidants.

Hesperidin is one of the most studied of these bioflavonoids. It has been studied for its potential role in preventing cardiovascular disease. In addition to its antioxidant activity, it’s also been found to interact with your genes to help improve cardiovascular health. So is eating an orange a better way to get your daily vitamin C than relying on your multivitamin? Definitely!

What does all of this mean for you?

  • Eat citrus! The average American doesn’t get enough vitamin C in their diet and that probably means they could do with more bioflavonoids too. That’s embarrassing because 1 orange has all the vitamin C you need in a day. Come on America. We can do better. Tangerines and grapefruits also have a significant amount of vitamin C as well as those wonderful bioflavonoids.
  • Juice can help. Citrus juices have just as much vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium as the whole fruit (even from concentrate). They also have a significant amount of bioflavonoids. The only thing juice doesn’t have is fiber (even with the added pulp). Since most Americans don’t get enough fiber, eat the whole fruit where possible. When you do drink your vitamins and bioflavonoids, limit yourself to no more than 1 cup (8 oz) per day due to the sugar content.
  • -ades don’t cut it. Lemonade, limade, orangeade…stay away! –ade is Latin for cheap drink flavored with sugar and lacking nutritional benefits. Or at least that’s what I remember it meaning… Regardless, one glass of lemonade has the same amount of sugar as orange juice but less than 10% of the vitamin C and is also proportionately lacking in bioflavonoids.

No excuses. Perfectly ripe California navel oranges are here, along with blood and cara cara oranges, tangerines, and clementines. They’ll stay deliciously sweet through April. Nutritious and delicious. What more could you ask for? Enjoy them before they’re all gone

Fun fact: Bioflavonoids contribute to the taste and appearance of citrus fruit. Variations in bioflavonoids are a big part of what make each fruit unique. Bioflavonoids are responsible for the dark color of blood oranges. Naringin is a bitter bioflavonoid primarily responsible for the unique flavor of grapefruit. The peel of citrus fruits is also a concentrated source of bitter bioflavonoids. Not all bioflavonoids are colored or bitter, however. Hesperidin has a neutral taste and appearance.

The Secret of Apples

The Iconic and Nutritious Apple

“American as apple pie” and “an apple a day…” say it all. As one of the first foods cultivated in America and a common symbol of nutrition and health, apples are intertwined with American culture and viewed as an especially healthy food. But how did apples become so American and do they truly warrant their status as a health symbol?

Continue reading The Secret of Apples

Spatchcocking and Other Things to do with Your Thanksgiving Bird

No, your grandma won’t wash your mouth out with soap if you suggest spatchcocking. She might look at you a bit perplexed, however, until you explain that it’s a cooking technique that gives you a holiday turkey with golden crisp skin and perfectly moist meat every time.

Let’s face it, traditional stuffed turkey just ain’t cutting it anymore. While the stuffing may taste great soaking in all those turkey drippings, it’s also soaking in salmonella and always winds up soggy. Not to mention filling your bird prevents it from cooking inside out, prolonging cook times and often making the meat drier. Looking for a better way? Try one of these methods.

  • Spatchcock – In this cooking method, the backbone is removed and the turkey is laid flat. The payoff? An evenly cooked bird and much shorter cook times, usually around 90 minutes depending on the weight.
  • Vertical Roasting – If you’ve got enough space in your oven, try roasting your turkey upright. Minimal contact with the pan means crisp skin over the entire bird and more uniformly cooked meat. Google vertical turkey roaster and you’ll find a variety of wire stands perfect for the job.
    • Beer can roasting is not a good vertical roasting technique. The beer doesn’t get hot enough to steam the bird or impart any flavor. Instead, it just prevents your turkey from cooking inside out.
  • Deep frying – A surprisingly healthy way to cook your bird is to deep fry it. The moist turkey meat actually repels the cooking oil so only a negligible amount enters the bird. After just a short hour or so of cooking, you’ll have a perfectly golden bird with tender meat.

The cooking method is only half the equation. To get the perfect turkey, be sure to season it appropriately. Use salt and pepper and your favorite seasonings to coat the turkey, inside and out; brine your turkey; or inject it. And, most importantly, don’t forget to brag about spatchcocking your bird to all your guests.

Your Source for Organic Deli Meats

Applegate Farms is one of the biggest names in organic deli meats. They supply many major grocery chains including Whole Foods and Sprouts and we’re also proud to stock them here, at your local Associated Foods grocery store. Organic deli meats are a great example of how we strive to be different from other retailers out there. You won’t find Applegate Farms Organic at retailers like Smiths or Walmart and we offer them at a better value than Whole Foods and Sprouts. Just one of the many examples of how we’re trying to provide you with the best shopping experience possible.

What does organic mean?

Organic certification is a set of standards that are strictly enforced at all levels of production. From the farms that raised the animals to the facilities that processed them to the distribution centers that get them to your local store, all must be certified organic to ensure that what you’re buying actually meets the standards established. While the standards are very lengthy and specific, generally speaking all organic meats:

  • Are raised in pastures and on feed that is organic. This means no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers can be used.
  • Feed must be 100% vegetarian with no animal products.
  • In the case of beef, at least 30% of all feed must be from grazing in pastures.
  • All animals must have access to the outdoors.
  • Minimum space requirements for both indoor and outdoor areas are set.
  • No antibiotics or hormones can be used.
  • Manufacturers ensure the product does not come in contact with any prohibited chemicals.

Organic vs natural

Meats are one of the only products in your grocery store where natural is a regulated term. The FDA, which oversees labeling of most shelf-stable items, has not yet defined natural but the USDA has long been enforcing a standard for natural meat products. All natural meats must be made without any synthetic ingredients like nitrates or sodium erythrobate and can’t be produced by means such as mechanical separation. The meat, however, may or may not be from humanely treated animals, animals raised without hormones or antibiotics, or animals raised on organic feed and organic pastures.

Applegate has a natural line in addition to their organic deli meats. In addition to containing no synthetic ingredients, the company also guarantees the animals were raised without antibiotics or hormones. They also guarantee that no animal by-products were used in the feed. Both the Applegate Organic and Natural products are high quality. You’ll taste the difference immediately. I recommend purchasing the organic if you can because there are added assurances about animal welfare and sustainable farming practices through organic certification. No matter which you choose, however, you won’t be disappointed the in the quality of the meat or the price you’ll find at your local grocery store.

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!

introduce kids to proper meat handling techniques

Stop, Hammer Time

While there’s hopefully a part of every adult that treasures the nostalgic throw-back to MC Hammer, this activity is about introducing kids to proper meat handling techniques, not parachute pants. And did I mention it also gives kids the chance to help pound chicken breasts to their hearts content with a meat mallet?

The activity can be appropriate for children of all ages. However, you should gauge how much of the activity will be demonstrated by you and how much you’ll allow them to be involved in. Improper handling of raw meat or poor hand washing can result in very serious food borne illness. By introducing kids to the potential risks of food borne illness now, however, you may help save them from getting sick later.

Learning objective – kids will assist in the preparation of chicken cordon bleu and learn about proper meat handling techniques.

You will need, for each chicken cordon bleu:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 slice ham
  • 1 slice Swiss cheese
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Toothpicks
  • Plastic wrap
  • Meat tenderizer mallet
  • Vinegar or bleach

Activity:

Throughout, emphasize the 4 keys to preventing food borne illness:

  1. Clean
  2. Separate
  3. Cook
  4. Chill

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Have kids CLEAN their hands. Address the need to wash before preparing any food and after handling any raw meat or eggs.
  3. Place a cutting board on the counter. Emphasize this is a SEPARATE cutting board just for raw meats.
  4. Remove chicken from the fridge. Show how it has been kept SEPARATE from other food items.
  5. Place chicken on cutting board and cover with plastic wrap to prevent chicken juices from splattering on other kitchen surfaces.
  6. Pound chicken breast with flat end of meat tenderizer until it is ¼ inch thick.
    • Note: this is a service that your local grocery store butcher can provide for you if you prefer.
  7. Remove and discard plastic wrap and place ham and Swiss cheese on chicken.
  8. Roll chicken, ham, and cheese and secure with toothpick.
  9. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and place on baking pan.
  10. CLEAN your hands and remind kids that always after touching raw meats you should wash your hands.
  11. Bake chicken for 30-35 minutes. Tell kids that properly COOKING meats will kill all bacteria and make them safe to eat.
  12. While chicken is baking, CLEAN cutting board and meat mallet by wiping them down with pure vinegar or soaking them in a combination of 1 tbsp bleach in 1 gallon water and then washing with soap and water. Alternatively, you can put them in a dish washer that reaches 170 degrees.
  13. Emphasize that the last step to CHILL any leftovers is still important. Cooked meats and other perishable foods shouldn’t be left out of the fridge for more than 2 hours.
  14. Enjoy a delicious chicken cordon bleu that your children can be proud they helped make!

Not only is this activity fun and educational, it’s also functional since you’ll be getting your dinner made at the same time. For additional activities, videos, and resources, visit the website www.fightbac.org.

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore with Black Rice

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore with Black Rice Makes 6 servings Active time: 10 minutes Total time: 3 hours

Delicious and requiring only ten minutes of active cooking, there truly is no reason why you can’t enjoy a homemade dinner on even your busiest day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups “Hinode” black rice, uncooked
  • 1/2 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper washed deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 8 ounce package sliced crimini mushrooms (mini bellas)
  • 6 bone in chicken thighs with skin removed
  • 2, 14.5 ounce cans of Western Family fire roasted tomatoes with garlic
  • 2, 14.5 ounce cans of Western Family reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary with leaves picked off
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Pour black rice into bottom of slow cooker
  2. Remove skin and place chicken thighs on top of rice
  3. Wash and cut bell pepper, peel and dice onion, pick fresh rosemary leaves from stem and, along with sliced mushrooms, place on top of chicken
  4. Pour tomatoes and chicken broth into slow cooker
  5. Place lid and set on high
  6. Cook for 2 hour and 45 minutes
  7. Let stand 5 minutes
  8. Stir and serve

Cucumber Kiwi Salad with Applegate Organic Roasted Chicken

Cucumber Kiwi Salad with Applegate Organic Roasted Chicken Makes 1 entrée salad or two side salads Active time: 8 minutes Total time: 8 minutes

Offering a subtle sweetness that is complemented by mild savory deli meat, sunflower seeds, and mozzarella, this salad is a fresh treat any time of the year.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spring mix
  • 1/4 cucumber peeled halved and sliced
  • 1 kiwi peeled, halved and sliced
  • 3 slices Applegate Organic roasted chicken
  • 1/3 cup fresh mozzarella, diced or bought as mozzarella pearls
  • 2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 ounce Bolthouse Raspberry Merlot dressing

Directions:

  1. Measure out spring mix and place in a bowl
  2. Cut the other ingredients and place on top of spring mix
  3. Sprinkle sunflower seeds

Add dressing

Ask a Butcher

steak1

Jimmy has worked in the grocery industry his entire life. Starting at 16, Jimmy worked as bagger and then cashier at his neighborhood grocery store. At 18 he started working as a butcher and has never looked back. Now, with nearly 30 years of experience as a meat manager, Jimmy is a valuable asset to our team and customers. You can find him cutting tender and juicy meats at our Park City Fresh Market.

  1. What is your favorite thing about being a meat manager? My favorite thing about being a meat manager is being a part of that perfect meal. Whether it’s cutting a dinner roast for a family gathering or providing recommendations on doing the perfect BBQ, I like the satisfaction of knowing that I’m contributing to the success of the party. I also enjoy the unique demographic of Park City. Because it is a prime vacation area, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.
  2. I know this will be like choosing between your children, but what’s your favorite meat entre to cook at home? When I’m looking to treat myself to that perfect meat entre, I usually choose a rib eye steak or prime rib. For everyday meat choices, however, I usually eat more fish and chicken. For value, nothing beats a skirt or flank steak. Typically a less expensive cut, they still have a bold flavor if cooked right. The key is to cook them slow and slice them thin or shred them during cooking to allow more juices to coat the meat.
  3. What’s the most common question you get from customers? Besides, “Can you get me a…” the most common question I get is, “How do I cook this?” Our butchers are trained to provide cooking recommendations to help the customer cook it just the way they like it. From rare to well done, we have the expert advice on how to get the job done. We also often have recipes and other meal ideas if I customer doesn’t know what to do with a meat. We can even recommend pans, seasonings, and vegetable pairings so don’t be afraid to ask your butcher.
  4. What custom services can a butcher provide a customer to help make meat preparation easier? In addition to the basics of cutting a custom sized roast or custom thickness steak, we can prepare the meat just about any way the customer can imagine. Thin sliced, cut into strips, diced into cubes, tenderized, pounded flat, ground, custom seasoning or marinades… If your recipe calls for a special type of meat preparation, we can probably do it behind the counter. We’re also happy to find any meat at any quantity you may need. I’ve had requests for anything from 40 pounds of chicken feet to goat to Chilean sea bass. Choice and prime grade meats are also a common request from customers and something we’re happy to order if we don’t have it in stock. I can usually get most metas within a day or two and seafood is often even available that same day. Exotic meat dishes like crown roasts, turdunkin, and French rack lamb are also something we can do. You can even purchase bones and carcasses for animals.
  5. What’s the difference between what someone might find behind the meat counter and prepackaged in the refrigerated display cases near it? The meat counter, what we refer to as the butcher block, is focused on prepared meats. These are the marinades, kabobs, chicken cordon blue, etc. Most of the refrigerated display items are more whole meat items. Chicken breast, whole chicken, steak, roasts, things like that. The idea is for the common meat purchases customers can just grab them off the refrigerated display and go. For more custom cuts and preparations, that’s what the butcher block is for. Selection of butcher block items varies by store so don’t be afraid to ask if your butcher can make something if you don’t see it there.
  6. How soon should I use the meat after I’ve bought it? All of the meat is stamped with a sell by date. The meat is guaranteed to stay good through that date. My recommendation is to always cook OR FREEZE the meat before the sell by date to reduce your risk of foodborne illness. Put a reminder in your phone and if you don’t use the meat by then, no problem, just pop it in your freezer and defrost it when you’re ready to prepare it.

Thanks to Jimmy for taking the time to provide us with tips on how to make the most of our local grocery store butchers. The next time you’re looking for the perfect meat entre, take advantage of your friendly and knowledgeable butcher to ensure the meal is a success.

Being a responsible Omnivore

Fruits

I don’t advocate for or against vegetarianism. There are valid arguments on both sides that ultimately come down to your values. I do advocate for health and there are certain dietary habits related to meat that can affect your health. The way your habits affect your health can be through direct or indirect means.

Direct Effects

Plants – including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans – are the foundation of a healthy diet. When meats are included, opt for fish and poultry sources and consume other meats in moderation. Limit your consumption of processed meats like deli meats, hot dogs, and sausages. People that follow these few basic principles, in general, experience better health throughout their lifetime. Does this mean you need to eliminate all red meats and processed meats? Absolutely not. Just because more car accidents happen when it’s raining, doesn’t mean you should stop driving every time it starts to sprinkle. There are safe ways to drive in the rain. Use common sense, slow down, and ensure you do routine vehicle maintenance. Do the same with red and processed meats. Use common sense; slow down; and eat an overall healthy diet, exercise, and get routine medical checkups.

Indirect Effects

A healthier environment means improved health for everyone living in it. Buying organic and sustainably raised meats is a way to promote environmental health and, indirectly, your health and the health of future generations. As your local grocery store, we support sustainably raised meats and actively work to help provide a wide array of sustainable options at a great value. Recently, we’ve highlighted two suppliers that are doing it the right way, Smart Chicken and Applegate Farms. Keep following the blog and subscribe to the monthly email for more education and tips on other great products you can find in our stores.

As you shop, remember, what you buy is what the industry will produce and supply. For your health and the health of the planet, be informed about your choices and seek to be a responsible omnivore.