Is 2016 the Year of the Vegetable?

Alice Knisley Matthias wrote . . . . . .

The new year has begun and with it comes the word from many sources that 2016 will be the year of the vegetable. Step aside, steak, and allow cauliflower and beets to take center stage.

NPR’s food blog The Salt states that this year will be more focused on vegetables for many home kitchens and restaurants. The covers of Better Homes and Gardens and Eating Well that recently landed in the mailbox feature glasses of colorful juices, smoothies, and vegetables too.

Sure, the new year always brings conversations about starting a new diet for healthier eating plans. But the idea of eating a more plant-based diet, filled with a variety of raw, steamed, roasted, or grilled vegetables benefits our health in many ways as well as helping the environment.

You can easily make a difference in your health and reduce your carbon footprint by swapping vegetables for meat once a week, as the Meatless Monday campaign advocates. Take a look at the list of people who are putting more vegetables in their diets every Monday and get inspired to do the same. Everyone from Simon Cowell to Oprah is on board with Meatless Mondays. Don’t think a day of plant-based meals will be dull and unsatisfying. We did it in our house and two growing boys didn’t even notice.

Looking for ways to eat several plant-based meals a week and becoming what food writer Mark Bittman calls being a “flexitarian” and eating as a part-time vegetarian? If you want some ideas to get started, and are a fan of the popular meal kits delivered to your door, try Bittman’s new project at Purple Carrot where they offer the first plant-based meal kits available. All the ingredients are pre-measured and the recipe cards can help a home cook of any skill level turn out delicious meals of vegetables. Take a look at their website and read the statistics about the health and environmental benefits for eating a plant-based diet.

Rethink what your definition of what a salad is and take a look at Katie Webster’s recipes for swapping lettuce out for different ingredients. Webster is the author of the popular Healthy Seasonal Recipes blog and this week she shares recipe ideas on TheKitchn. As Webster points out, winter isn’t the time for tender lettuce greens so she delivers recipes that use sturdier greens, winter squash, and shaved fennel.

Chef Amanda Cohen has been thrilling the New York City diners in her vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy for several years now and you can make some of her recipes at home with her cookbook by the same name. You’ll find many creative vegetable recipe ideas in the pages of Cohen’s book.

Welcome 2016 as the year of the vegetable!

Source: Community Table


Chinese Vegetarian Dish with Sunflower Seeds


1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 oz dried Chinese black mushroom
2 tbsp finely diced carrot
4 oz diced celery
5 minced water chestnut
1-1/2 oz finely diced salted turnip
1/3 oz dried black fungus
2 sprigs diced cilantro
4 red dates


1/3 tsp salt
1/3 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
1 tsp ginger juice
1 tbsp water


1/3 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
dash of sesame oil


  1. Soak, trim and remove stalks of black mushroom. Drain, steam for 10 minutes and dice finely.
  2. Soak dried black fungus for two hours, wash and parboil for 5 minutes. Then soak with cold water. Drain and dice finely.
  3. Remove stone of red date, steam for 10 minutes, dice finely.
  4. Saute salted turnip, mushroom, water chestnut, red date and carrot with 3 tbsp oil. Mix in seasoning ingredients.
  5. Add celery and stir-fry briefly. Mix in sauce ingredients and toss until sauce thickens.
  6. Add sunflower seeds and cilantro. Toss to combine. Remove to serving platter and serve.

Source: Chinese Vegetarian Dishes

Campbell Soup Becomes First Major Company to Start GMO Labeling

Campbell Soup Co said it will label all its U.S. products for the presence of ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms, becoming the first major food company to respond to growing calls for more transparency about contents in food.

The world’s largest soup maker broke ranks with peers and said it supported the enactment of federal legislation for a single mandatory labeling standard for GMO-derived foods and a national standard for non-GMO claims made on food packaging.

The company, which also makes Pepperidge Farm cookies and Prego pasta sauces, said it would withdraw from all efforts by groups opposing such measures.

Several activist groups have been pressuring food companies to be more transparent about the use of ingredients, especially GMO-derived ones, amid rising concerns about their effects on health and the environment.

Several big companies such as PepsiCo Inc, Kellogg Co and Monsanto Co have resisted such calls and have spent millions of dollars to defeat GMO-labeling ballot measures in states such as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and California, saying it would add unnecessary costs.

Monsanto Co said in a statement Friday that it sells seeds to farmers, and does not manufacture or sell food products from crops grown from those seeds.

The six biggest agrochemical and biotech seed companies — Monsanto, Dupont, Dow AgroSciences, Bayer CropScience, BASF Plant Science and Syngenta AG — spent more than $21.5 million to help defeat a 2012 California proposition labeling proposition, according to state election data.

However, in 2014, Vermont became the first U.S. state to pass a law requiring food companies to label GMOs on their products, which will come into effect in July.

Pro-labeling groups such as Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Just Label It cheered Campbell’s move.

“We applaud Campbell’s for supporting national, mandatory GMO labeling,” Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at EWG said.

Advocacy group Just Label It said Campbell’s move was a step closer to reaching the goal of a federally crafted national GMO labeling solution.

Campbell said late on Thursday that if a federal solution is not achieved in some time, it was prepared to label all its U.S. products for the presence of ingredients that were derived from GMOs and would seek guidance from the FDA and approval by the USDA.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which represents more than 300 food companies opposed to mandatory GMO labeling, said it respected the rights of individual members to communicate with their customers in whatever manner they deem appropriate.

However, the GMA said it was “imperative” that Congress acted immediately to prevent the expansion of a costly patchwork of state labeling laws that would ultimately hurt consumers who can least afford higher food prices.

Kellogg and Pepsi were not immediately available to comment on Campbell’s move.

Campbell said in July that it would stop adding monosodium glutamate (MSG) to its condensed soups for children and use non-genetically modified ingredients sourced from American organic farms in its Campbell’s organic soup line for kids.

The company also said it would remove artificial colors and flavors from nearly all of its North American products by July 2018.

Source: Reuter

Popular Nutrition Trends for 2016

Densie Webb wrote . . . . .

Today’s Dietitian speaks with several nutrition experts to determine what products and categories will be the most popular this year and on the minds of clients and patients in 2016.

Here’s what they forecast:


“Souping is the new juicing,” says Rachel Beller, MS, RDN, CEO of Beller Nutritional Institute and author of Eat to Lose, Eat to Win: Your Grab-N-Go Action Plan for a Slimmer, Healthier You. “It’s definitely on the horizon for 2016.” She’s not referring to bone broth diets that encourage you to sip on soup before a meal to tame your appetite but rather to exclusive souping meal plans that even include desserts. She says, “While exclusive juice diets are billed as ‘cleanses’ or ‘detoxes,’ the one ingredient with the most ‘detoxing’ power—fiber—is trashed after the juice is squeezed out.” Not so with soups, which often contain whole vegetables and, in the case of breakfast soups, fruit. The soups keep the fiber, seeds, rind, and pulp that juicing often discards. “It’s trending in Los Angeles, with soups sold in to-go jars, similar to pressed juices.” There are breakfast soups, known as smoothie bowls, and even dessert soups. McKenzie Hall, RDN, cofounder of NourishRDs, a nutrition communications and consulting company, says that because you have to sit down and eat with a spoon, breakfast smoothie bowls encourage people to enjoy their breakfast more mindfully.

Sprouted Grains

While sprouted grains have been around for a while, our forecasters predict that they’ll become more mainstream. “Sprouting provides increased vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, increased digestibility, and nutrient absorption,” says Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE, a nutrition blogger and consultant for Way Better Snacks, a company that produces sprouted grain chips and crackers. Sprouting, she says, creates enzymes that make plant proteins, essential fatty acids, starches, and vitamins more available for absorption. According to Oldways Whole Grain Council, a nonprofit nutrition education organization based in Boston, some research suggests that sprouted buckwheat can decrease blood pressure and help protect against fatty liver; and sprouted brown rice can help reduce blood glucose levels and improve immune function in breast-feeding mothers. In addition to chips and crackers, you also can expect a wider variety of sprouted food products. At the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2015 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo® (FNCE®) in Nashville, Tennessee, several companies displayed their sprouted grain products, including grain cereals, snack bars, and rice and risotto mixes.

More Products With Less Sugar

According to Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD, cookbook author and food writer, companies will be under increasing pressure to reduce the added sugar content of their products and, as a result, will be turning to more of the so-called ‘natural sweeteners,’ like stevia, maple syrup, agave syrup, monk fruit, date sugar, and coconut palm sugar. Some provide as many calories as table sugar, others contain fewer calories, and some, like stevia, are calorie-free. While certain natural sweeteners, like date sugar, provide nutrients absent from table sugar, there’s little or no research to suggest that alternative natural sweeteners provide any health benefits. Americans consume upwards of 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day and there’s no debate that this amount should be reduced significantly; the response to this statistic has been a virtual “war on sugar.” Google “war on sugar” and you’ll find that chef Jamie Oliver has declared a personal war on the sweet stuff. Look again, and you’ll find articles in The New Yorker, Bloomberg View, Huffington Post, and The Washington Post all declaring a war on sugar. As Kadey remarked, there will be greater demand and increased offerings of products containing reduced amounts of sugar, replaced with one or more of these natural sweeteners, many of which are metabolized by the body no differently than sucrose. Be prepared to answer consumer questions about all of them.

Probiotic Push

Probiotics have been around for a while. Those “good bacteria,” like L Acidophilus, L plantarum, L rhamnosus, and L reuteri, have been found in yogurts and yogurtlike products for a long time. However, Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD, LDN, a Nashville-based dietitian, says, “Looking forward to 2016, it won’t be uncommon to find probiotic-fortified foods and beverages, such as orange juice, cereals, and waters.” At the Natural Products Expo East in 2015, there also were vegan buttery spreads made from virgin coconut oil with probiotics added; microwaveable, high-protein muffins with probiotics; and organic fruit and vegetable juices, sweetened with maple syrup and with probiotics added. And it’s not just about improving intestinal health. There’s an important gut/brain connection you may be hearing more about. Research suggests that probiotics may be helpful in treating symptoms of depression. Whether or not there are enough live, active good bacteria in these new products to improve health is another question.

Full-Fat Dairy

According to Hall, “Now that people are starting to embrace more fat in their diets, I think we’ll continue to see more full-fat and reduced-fat (as opposed to fat-free) dairy products being used.”

Gregory Miller, PhD, MACN, president of the Dairy Research Institute, confirmed Hall’s observation. “Consumption of whole-milk dairy products is on the rise as part of a whole, natural, and real trend. And there’s a growing understanding that milk fat isn’t bad for you and may actually be good for you.” A survey conducted by IRi, a company specializing in predictive analytics in consumer markets, found that whole milk sales have gradually increased from 27.9% of the retail market in 2010 to 32.1% in 2015. Milk fat contains bioactive compounds, such as conjugated linoleic acid, a fat that research suggests may decrease the risk of coronary heart disease and depress cancer cell growth. The trend may be catching up with the research. In 2013, three comprehensive, independent reviews, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Journal of the American Heart Association, and the European Journal of Nutrition, concluded that there’s no association between dairy fat or high-fat dairy foods and obesity, type 2 diabetes, or cardiometabolic risk, and they may be inversely associated with obesity risk. Not everyone agrees with these findings; the DASH diet and MyPlate still recommend consuming low-fat or nonfat dairy products. While the Scientific Report of the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) pointed out that “consumption of dairy foods provides numerous health benefits, including lower risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, CVD [cardiovascular disease], and obesity,” the evidence on dairy fat wasn’t specifically addressed.

The Pluses of Pulses

Pulses are lentils, dry beans, beans, and chickpeas to clients and patients. The United Nations is so certain that pulses will peak in popularity that it has dubbed 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP). The aim of IYP 2016 is to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production, aimed towards food security and nutrition. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthful diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions, and cancer; they’re also an important source of plant-based protein for animals. In addition, pulses come from plants that have nitrogen-fixing properties, which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment. Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, CSSD, a nutrition blogger and author of Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches With Real Food, Real Fast, says she has devoted an entire chapter in her book to the health and weight-loss benefits of pulses, along with an eating plan that includes one serving of pulses per day. At FNCE® 2015, pulses were on display as snack bars and snacking crisps, in prepackaged salads with edamame and roasted soy nuts, and in soups.

Better With Beets

Beets have long been at the bottom of the vegetable hierarchy, as any fan of the show The Office can attest. When the character Dwight Schrute talks about his beet farm, his boss Michael Scott tells him, “Dwight, beets are the worst; nobody likes beets!” Well, food companies are now betting that the tide has turned and beets increasingly will be found on American tables. Beet juice—alone and combined with passion fruit juice—was on display at FNCE® 2015, along with beet hummus and beet-infused sports drinks. Consuming more beets would be a good thing, because they’re rich in betalains, antioxidant compounds; folate; fiber; and the minerals manganese, potassium, copper, and magnesium. A 2015 review of beets and their health benefits in the journal Nutrients found that consumption of beets and beet concentrate holds promise as a treatment for oxidative stress and inflammation. Its constituents possess potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and chemopreventive activity. So be ready with answers to questions about beets.

Relaxing Cholesterol Restrictions

Since the 1970s, the generally accepted recommendation regarding dietary cholesterol has been to limit intake to no more than 300 mg/day. But the 2015 DGAC, which reviews the latest research and makes recommendations for the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, has for the first time taken a step back from the 300 mg/day rule. This is what the DGAC report said: “Previously, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that cholesterol intake be limited to no more than 300 mg/day. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will not bring forward this recommendation because available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol … Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” Because the average US daily intake of dietary cholesterol already is less than 300 mg, it’s no longer considered a nutrient of concern. Whether or not dietary cholesterol in excess of that amount affects risk of coronary artery disease or risk of diabetes is still unclear. And because the guidelines likely will be issued at either the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016, expect to get many questions in 2016 about whether dietary cholesterol still matters and how much is too much.

Sustainable Diets

Another first for the 2015 DGAC report was the mention of sustainable diets as part of the recommendations for achieving a healthful diet. The report defines sustainable diets as “a pattern of eating that promotes health and well-being and provides food security for the present population while sustaining human and natural resources for future generations.” The report goes on to state, “The environmental impact of food production is considerable and if natural resources such as land, water, and energy are not conserved and managed optimally, they will be strained and potentially lost. The global production of food is responsible for 80% of deforestation, more than 70% of fresh water use, and up to 30% of human-generated greenhouse gas … emissions. It also is the largest cause of species biodiversity loss.” Nevertheless, the USDA has recently stated publicly that the US Dietary Guidelines are not the appropriate vehicle for promoting sustainability, so dietitians won’t see it mentioned or explained in the 2015 guidelines when they’re released. Still, there will likely be more emphasis on food products in the market and on dietary patterns that are more sustainable for the planet. Be armed with information about what a sustainable diet is and advice on how to eat sustainably.

Managing Food Waste

Related to the sustainability movement is the growing emphasis on reducing food waste in restaurants, hospitals, and grocery stores as well as in the home, where 60% of food waste occurs. Here’s another sobering statistic from Andrew Shakman, food waste prevention advocate and cofounder of LeanPath, a nonprofit organization developed to prevent and minimize foods waste through computerized food waste monitoring systems: one-half of all the food in the United States is wasted farm to fork, yet there are 870 million hungry people on the planet. To learn more about the specifics of reducing food waste, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website at and read the book American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It) by Jonathan Bloom. The FDA and the USDA have established a joint goal to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030. In the next few years, expect to address more questions about how to cut food waste in the home.

Renewed Push for Protein

Researcher Douglas Paddon-Jones, PhD, FACSM, from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, says we can expect more research on the benefits of increased intakes of high-quality protein in middle-aged men and women. Much of the protein research to date, he says, has been in young and older populations. But the National Institutes of Health is calling for more research proposals that focus on protein intakes and its health effects in the middle-aged population. Keeping up with the latest protein research will better prepare dietitians to make protein recommendations for everyone they counsel.

Source: Today’s Dietitian

Certain Yoga Positions May Impact Eye Pressure in Glaucoma Patients

New study highlights importance of patient education during glaucoma awareness month

Glaucoma patients may experience increased eye pressure as the result of performing several different head-down positions while practicing yoga, according to a new study published by researchers at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai (NYEE) in the journal PLOS ONE.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States and can dramatically affect the quality of life for patients with moderate to severe visual loss. Damage to the optic nerve occurs in glaucoma patients when fluid pressure inside the eye rises. Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is the most common known risk factor for glaucomatous damage and, at the current time, the only modifiable one for which treatment has a proven effect on preventing or slowing the progression of the disease.

“While we encourage our patients to live active and healthy lifestyles, including physical exercise, certain types of activities, including pushups and lifting heavy weights, should be avoided by glaucoma patients due to the risk of increasing IOP and possibly damaging the optic nerve,” said Robert Ritch, MD, senior study author and the Shelley and Steven Einhorn Distinguished Chair and Director, Glaucoma Research, NYEE. “This new study will help clinicians advise their patients on the potential risk associated with various yoga positions and other exercises that involve inverted poses.”

In previous research, studies and case reports had tested only the headstand position, which showed a marked two-fold rise in IOP. In the new study, researchers had healthy participants with no eye-related disease and glaucoma patients perform a series of inverted yoga positions, including downward facing dog, standing forward bend, plow, and legs up the wall. They captured the IOP in each group at baseline seated, immediately assuming the pose, two minutes while holding the pose, right after they performed each pose in the seated position, and then again 10 minutes after resting in the seated position.

Both normal and glaucoma study participants showed a rise in IOP in all four yoga positions, with the greatest increase of pressure occurring during downward facing dog. When the measurements were taken after the participants returned to a seated position and again after waiting ten minutes, the pressure in most cases remained slightly elevated from the baseline.

“While our study results don’t show a dramatic difference in IOP between the normal participants and those with glaucoma, we believe that additional research, with a larger study population and longer durations of practicing the inverted positions is warranted,” said first author Jessica Jasien, M.En., research associate with the Shelley and Steven Einhorn Clinical Research Center at NYEE. “As we know that any elevated IOP is the most important known risk factor for development and progression of nerve damage to the eye, the rise in IOP after assuming the yoga poses is of concern for glaucoma patients and their treating physicians. In addition, glaucoma patients should share with their yoga instructors their disease to allow for modifications during the practice of yoga.”

The research team emphasizes the importance of educating glaucoma patients on all of the risks and benefits of relating to physical exercise and their overall vision health, as well as any other factors that might impact their glaucoma progression, including diet, lifestyle choices, and other co-morbid conditions such as diabetes.

Source: EurekAlert!

Today’s Comic