Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup


4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp of Indian curry paste
1/2 cup split red lentils
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup milk
2 cups packed baby spinach
2 tbsp lemon juice
plain yogurt for serving (optional)


  1. Place broth, onion and curry paste in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add lentils, reduce heat and simmer covered for 5 minutes.
  2. Add sweet potato, continue to simmer covered about 10 min until lentils and sweet potatoes are tender. Add milk to hot soup.
  3. Ladle about 1/3 of the soup into a blender or food processor (being very careful, as it is hot). Puree, then return to soup in saucepan. Add spinach. Stir over medium heat, but don’t boil, just until spinach is wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in lemon juice. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, if using.

Cooking tip: Look for split red lentils as they cook in half the time as regular red lentils.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Dairy Farmers of Canada


Why the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Keep Changing and How to Read Them

Deena Shanker wrote . . . . .

As Jerry Seinfeld might say, what’s the deal with nutrition science? One day eggs are bad, next day they’re good. Or good in moderation. Who knows?

One reason what to eat is so hotly debated is all the money tied up in it. The dietary guidelines the U.S. government issues every five years are the culmination of a process that involves not only nutritionists, doctors, and other health professionals but also the food industry and its many lobbyists.

In the latest guidelines, issued early this year, the expert panel’s preliminary report included advice to lower consumption of red and processed meats, for the environment as well as for your health. The meat industry weighed in, and in the final version only men and teenage boys were urged to eat less protein. The environment was cut out of the equation altogether.1 The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have said that the guidelines are based on a rigorous review of scientific evidence and consideration of comments from the public and federal agencies.

The science changes, too. Eggs were once considered a driver of heart disease, because of their high cholesterol content. According to some recent research, healthy people can eat eggs without much of a problem. Fats, too, are no longer entirely shunned, but broken down into good and bad. Trans fats (in processed foods) and saturated fats (in dairy and red meat) are bad. Unsaturated fats (in olive oil and nuts) are good.

The nuance, if not the cholesterol, could kill you.

People don’t shop for unsaturated fats. They shop for food. Maybe the government should keep it simple: More fruits and vegetables. Less processed food and soda. Lean meats, fish, nuts, and beans. Whole grains. Not too much of anything. Except maybe the vegetables.

Watch video at Bloomberg (2:11 minutes) . . . . .

In Pictures: Off-menu Dishes at Fine-dining Restaurants with Celebrated Chefs

Risotto alla Milanese — Casa Lever, New York

Meatballs Vergara-style — Fiola, Washington

Foie Gras Brûlée — Boka, Chicago

Kama Collar — Craigie on Main, Boston

Foie Gras Shashlik — Zahav, Philadelphia

Cuttlefish ‘Tagliatelle’ — Acquerello, San Francisco

Nose-to-Tail Hampshire Rabbit — Stovell’s, Chobham (near London)

Pigeon de Bresse — Epicure at Le Bristol Paris

Tuna Cones — Spago Beverly Hills, California

Bright Lighting Encourages Healthy Food Choices

Dining in dimly lit restaurants has been linked to eating slowly and ultimately eating less than in brighter restaurants, but does lighting also impact how healthfully we order?

New research findings forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research illustrate that those dining in well-lit rooms are about 16-24% more likely to order healthy foods than those in dimly lit rooms. Furthermore, the researchers found evidence that this effect is due mainly to the level of diners’ alertness. “We feel more alert in brighter rooms and therefore tend to make more healthful, forward-thinking decisions,” explains lead author Dipayan Biswas, PhD, University of South Florida.

First, the researchers surveyed 160 restaurant patrons at 4 casual chain restaurant locations. Half of those diners, who were seated in brighter rooms, were more likely to choose healthier options (such as grilled/baked fish, vegetables or white meat) over relatively unhealthy items (such as fried food or dessert). Furthermore, sales records showed that those in dimly lit rooms actually ordered 39% more calories! In four additional lab studies involving 700 college-aged students in total, the researchers replicated these results.

The follow-up studies also showed that when diners’ alertness was increased with the use of a caffeine placebo or by simply giving a prompt to be alert, those in dimly lit rooms were just as likely as their peers in brightly lit rooms to make more healthful food choices. From this, the researchers conclude that the main reason that we make healthier choices in well-lit spaces is because we feel more alert.

Lighting is used to create ambience and enhance the dining experience, which is why many restaurants have dim lights. “Dim lighting isn’t all bad,” says co-author Brian Wansink, PhD, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, “despite ordering less-healthy foods, you actually end up eating slower, eating less and enjoying the food more.” So, what’s the real take-away here? According to Dr. Wansink, doing what you can to make yourself feel alert is the best way to avoid overindulging when “dining-in-the-dark.”

Source: Cornell University Food and Brand Lab

Today’s Comic

May be Skipping Breakfast in the Morning Isn’t So Bad

Allison Aubrey wrote . . . .

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? And does eating a morning meal help us maintain a healthy weight?

The breakfast-is-best dogma is based on a blend of cultural tradition and science (and more than a little cereal marketing.)

Some of the earliest evidence goes back to the 1960s, when researchers in Alameda County, Calif., documented residents’ everyday habits. The long-term study linked eating breakfast — along with other lifestyle choices, including a good night’s sleep and regular exercise — to improved health and longevity.

But in recent years, this association has come under more scrutiny. And what’s emerged points to a more complicated conclusion.

For instance, researchers in Canada who studied the habits of about 12,000 adults concluded that “breakfast consumption was not consistently associated with differences in [body mass index] or overweight prevalence.” And a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, when it comes to weight loss, breakfast eaters do no better — or worse — than people who skip the morning meal.

Here’s the deal: Lots of American adults aren’t sitting down to breakfast anymore.

In our informal Twitter poll, almost 1 in 5 respondents said they skip the morning meal entirely, or just drink coffee. Another 25 percent of respondents grab a quick yogurt or energy bar at some point during the morning.

Our results mirror the findings of industry research. The NPD Group finds that Americans are moving away from prescribed mealtimes. The trend is most pronounced among millennials, who, according to NPD, skip twice as many breakfast meals compared with older Americans.

And, increasingly, what millennials are choosing to eat in the morning — when they make time for it — also marks a significant departure in eating habits: They’re often opting for a hot breakfast instead of cereal.

How do we square the “breakfast-is-the-most-important-meal” belief with the shift in our eating habits?

If you sift through the scientific evidence, there doesn’t seem to be anything magical about eating first thing in the morning. Lots of us aren’t hungry until a few hours after we wake up. If you’re a “grab-a-yogurt-at-10 a.m.” person, that’s OK.

And waiting to eat anything until lunchtime might actually work best for some of us. As we’ve reported, some dieters have found success with minifasts.

So, is there a downside to skipping breakfast — or not eating early in the morning? We put the question to David Ludwig, an obesity researcher, nutrition professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, and author of the book Always Hungry?

And his answer, in short, is this: What we eat in the morning may be more important than when we eat it.

“If [your] breakfast is based on highly processed carbohydrates [such as sugary cereals or sweet rolls], it may be as bad [as], or worse than, skipping breakfast,” Ludwig says.

Why? All of those refined carbs and sugars can lead to a spike in blood sugar and insulin. “The high insulin programs the body for fat storage, making it hard to cut back calories,” says Ludwig.

And a breakfast of highly refined carbohydrates may leave you feeling hungrier later in the day.

On the other hand, if you eat a protein-rich breakfast (think eggs), you’re likely to be satisfied longer. “Non-carbohydrate foods, specifically protein and fat, slow down digestion,” says Ludwig.

So, what’s an ideal breakfast? We asked the advice of Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist at Columbia University who studies the links between food and mood.

Ramsey pointed us to eggs, topped with a mix of fresh greens and pumpkin seeds, which are rich in magnesium, thought to play a role in fending off anxiety.

The body of evidence linking high protein to more satiety is growing. For instance, a new study finds that a high-protein breakfast may help people control their appetites and eat less the remainder of the day.

And it seems millennials are ahead of the curve on this advice: NPD Group’s Darren Seifer says young adults are big on protein-rich foods.

They may not eat breakfast every day, but when they do, “we are seeing a greater number of younger consumers consuming eggs in the morning,” he says. And based on NPD’s modeling, this trend is set to accelerate.

In some ways, it seems as if we’re going back to where we were at the turn of the last century, when a farmer-style, cooked breakfast was the norm.

We turned away from this when cereal was marketed as the healthier, more convenient alternative. “Americans really did make this shift … to a lighter, grain-based breakfast,” says Abigail Carroll, author of Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal. Cereal became the go-to option.

Now, habits are shifting once again.

Source: npr