Debunking Common Food Myths

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These days, it’s easy to hear all sorts of information about food on the Internet, television and kitchen scuttlebutt. The hard part is digesting the entire gastronomic gospel and separating the facts from the fiction. The doubt is out, as we have finally investigated some of the most common myths about food.

1. Peanuts Are One of the Ingredients in Dynamite

Peanut oil can be processed to produce glycerol, which can be used to make nitroglycerine, an explosive liquid used in dynamite. However, there are other processes that can be used to make dynamite without using peanuts at all. So, this little factoid isn’t completely false and it isn’t completely true. But it’s enough to make us wonder why they make us take off our shoes at the airport, and then serve us dynamite ingredients on the plane.

2. Yogurt Isn’t a Good Source of Both Calcium and Fiber

Though yogurt usually contains 20–30 percent of your daily dose of calcium, it rarely has significant amounts of fiber. To make sure you get plenty figure-friendly fiber, buy plain flavors and add your own berries, nuts, raisins, flax seeds, oats or bran cereal. Peanuts

3. Heavy Cream Does Not Weigh As Much As Milk

The term “heavy cream” is a misnomer that describes the product’s density, not its weight. The scales will prove that an equal volume of whipping cream weighs less than the same volume of whole milk. In fact, the heaviest form of milk is skim milk, which has the fewest calories. (We just helped you with your child’s next science fair project, by the way. You’re welcome.)

4. You Can’t Use Wooden Cutting Boards with Meat

Both wood and plastic are safe. The key is to clean the board properly after each use. Wash the board thoroughly with soap and running water—the hotter, the better. Then dry it with a paper towel (if you leave it wet, bacteria could grow). As an added precaution, use two cutting boards—one for meat and one for fruits and vegetables—to prevent meat juices from contaminating produce. Bottom line: Feel free to use a wooden board, but keep it very clean.

5. Honey Is the Only Food That Does Not Spoil

Bee-lieve it or not, it’s true! The “nectar of the gods” will supposedly last indefinitely if kept sealed and properly stored at room temperature. How do we figure? Well, honey has been found perfectly palatable in Egyptian tombs. However, it can develop mold if improperly stored. Like any other packaged food, honey should be rotated through the storage cycle and replaced with fresh product.

6. You Can Put Hot Food in the Fridge

Ideally, when you refrigerate food, it should be cool enough to prevent it from warming up the food around it to an unsafe temperature (above 40°F). But leaving food out to cool at room temperature also makes it a potential breeding ground for bacteria. An easy solution is to separate it into smaller portions so it cools to a safe temperature quickly. But what’s okay for the food may not be okay for your fridge! Avoid putting hot plates on a cold glass shelf.

7. Milk Isn’t Going to Increase Your Mucus

For centuries, dairy has been blamed for increased mucus production—and in turn for a range of other conditions such as asthma and snoring. But while many people swear milk produces mucus, there is no scientific evidence. Until researchers can prove that congestion connection, we’re going to enjoy our milk and stick with a neti pot.

8. Add Salt to Your Pasta Water

The claim that salted water cooks food faster (because of its higher boiling temperature) is exaggerated; you’re not adding enough salt to raise the temperature more than about one degree Fahrenheit. However, salted water does flavor the pasta. Adding 1–2 tablespoons of salt to a large pot of rapidly boiling water seasons the pasta internally as it absorbs the liquid and swells.

9. Chocolate Does Not Cause Zits

Studies have unequivocally shown there is no connection between chocolate and skin problems, and that some varieties of dark chocolate, in fact, may even be good for you.

10. Microwaving Plastic Can Be Toxic

When certain plastic containers get hot, plasticizers (additives used to make them flexible) can dissolve in food. Some plasticizers, such as phthalates, have been linked to reproductive problems. Phthalates are found in soft plastics, like the kind meat is wrapped in, and flexible containers, such as those used for take-out food. Not all plastics run the risk of contaminating hot foods. Containers labeled as microwave-safe have passed strict Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for resilience and can withstand repeated use. As for using cellophane wrap to reheat food faster and prevent splatters, skip it. Instead, place a vented microwave-safe plastic cover or a white paper towel over the dish.

11. Coffee Does Not Cause Dehydration

You may be running to the restroom an hour after you finish your cappuccino, but that’s just because of coffee’s fluid content, not because you’re dehydrated. Although caffeine is a mild diuretic, a Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Oregon State University, Balz Frei, Ph.D., says that caffeine consumption of up to about 500 milligrams per day does not cause dehydration. For perspective: A 7-oz. cup of coffee has about 100 milligrams of caffeine.  

Choose Healthy

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Sprouts wants to help you on your healthy living journey by offering a great selection of good-for-you foods and tips for making every meal a healthy choice in 2018.

#1 – Load Up on Fruits & Vegetables

The USDA’s guideline is to eat 5–9 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables—or two cups of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of veggies—daily. Fruits and veggies contain antioxidants, essential minerals, like potassium and fiber to protect against chronic illness and disease. Try this! Add fresh or frozen veggies to smoothies or casseroles for an extra serving of nutritious, colorful produce. Grapefruit, strawberries, oranges and peaches

#2 – Boost Energy with Whole Grains

Whole grains are a great source for the B vitamins that help boost energy and fiber to feel fuller longer. Rich in nutrients, whole grains can offer protection against heart disease and diabetes, as well as significantly reduce the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Aim for 5–8 servings of grains per day, with half of those being whole grain. Try this! Add a little whole-grain twist to your soups or salads by adding quinoa, amaranth, barley or wheat berry.

#3 – Maintain a Balance with Cultured Food

Cultured foods can improve digestion, support a healthy immune system and promote friendly flora in the gut. These live-cultured foods are loaded with probiotics, essential vitamins and minerals. When ingested, they are beneficial in helping prevent and treat numerous medical conditions. Try this! Add unpasteurized sauerkraut on your sandwich, add kefir or yogurt to a smoothie or enjoy a cup of miso soup for a probiotic punch.

#4 – Build Muscle with Lean Protein

Protein, the building block of muscles, also creates the necessary enzymes to help repair body tissue, skin and cartilage. Choose lean meats (like buffalo), egg whites and incorporate a variety of seafood 2–3 times a week. Meat isn’t the only source of good protein—try plant-based proteins like dried beans, lentils or tofu. Try this! Use beans and lentils as a main dish for burgers or burritos. Beans contain slow releasing carbohydrates, and are low in fat and high in protein.

#5 – Fill Nutritional Gaps with the “Essential 4”

Eating a proper diet should be all you need to get the recommended vitamins, minerals and nutrients for optimal health. However, these nutritional marks are often missed by consuming suboptimal foods. The Essential 4 are supplements that easily incorporate into your lifestyle and help fill those nutritional gaps. Try this! Incorporate Sprouts Essential 4 in your diet: (1) Multivitamins, (2) Omega-Rich Oils, (3) Probiotics, (4) Superfoods. Note: Be sure to check with your physician before starting any supplement routine.  

Boost Your Juice with These Mix-ins

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One healthy habit that can keep you on the track to wellness is starting your day fresh with a nutrient-dense smoothie. A great on-the-go option, smoothies are perfect for busy lifestyles. Need some inspiration to mix it up (pun intended)? Make a top-notch nutritious juice or smoothie with these mix-ins.

Cacao Nibs

Green smoothie with raspberries in them Great news for chocolate lovers! Cacao nibs, which are chocolate in their purest form, are full of both antioxidants and flavonoids. Cacao also stimulates the brain, triggering the release of phenylethylamine, a neurotransmitter commonly referred to as “the love drug,” which elicits feelings of contentment and alertness. There might be a reason for our chocolate love affair after all.

Turmeric Rootspice

A pinch of ground turmeric rootspice is great in juices and smoothies. Part of the ginger family, turmeric adds a warm spice flavor to your smoothie or juice while providing powerful anti-inflammatory benefits and antioxidants.

Maca Powder

Maca’s health-boosting properties have been used by the native Andean people in Peru for thousands of years. Rich in carbohydrates, protein and a variety of essential minerals, maca enhances endocrine function, regulating metabolism, fertility, sexual function, energy levels and the nervous system.

Goji Berries

A true superfood, goji berries contain natural antioxidants that support healthy skin. Beyond antioxidants, they also boast 18 amino acids, carotenoids, vitamins A, C and E. In fact, per ounce, goji berries tout more vitamin C than oranges!

Powdered Peanut Butter

Enjoy the taste of traditional creamy or chunky peanut butter in smoothies by mixing in powdered peanut butter. Just like the traditional version, powdered peanut butter is loaded with protein, potassium, niacin and folates. Blend with cacao nibs, almond milk, whey protein and bananas for a healthy twist on a chocolate and peanut butter smoothie that’s friendly for the waist.  

Avocados: Thinking Outside the Guacs

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Avocados are both popular and populous in California. About 90 percent of crops from the U.S. come from the Golden State, with more than 6,000 growers producing trees that bear anywhere from 150–500 fruits apiece, each of which is picked by hand. That’s a lot of work! Their popularity stems from the fact that they are creamy and flavorful, but also very good for you: they are one of the only fruits that has “good” fats (about 3 grams per serving of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats), and no cholesterol or sodium.

Picking Out a Good One

The most common variety of avocado is the Hass, and that’s pretty much all that Sprouts sells. Ripe Hass avocados are darker in color—anywhere from dark green to black—and the best ones will be firm but also yield gently to pressure. If you happen to get some that are a little too hard, just put them in a brown paper bag along with an apple or banana for a couple of days. The natural ethylene gases given off by those fruits act as a good ripening agent.
Video Description: When selecting a perfectly ripened avocado look for produce that is green to purple-black in color. Place the avocado in the palm of your hand and squeeze gently. If it yields slightly then your avocado is ready to eat!

Peeling It

There are several techniques for peeling the skin off an avocado and removing the large seed, but the easiest one is this:
  1. Using a paring knife, slice the avocado lengthwise just off center. You’ll be able to feel where the seed is. (Note: the seed is rather thick, so you should try to cut it with its wide surface perpendicular to the table.)
  2. Once you have sliced off that smaller half, use a teaspoon to scoop out the seed from the remaining larger half.
  3. Now lay each piece down on a cutting board, flat side down, and use the paring knife to peel back the skin, starting at the narrow end.
  4. (Alternatively, you can use the spoon to scoop out the avocado meat.)
 

Aromatherapy

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Long work days and hectic schedules can send stress levels sky-high. Keep your mind, body and spirit in balance with aromatherapy.

What Is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the practice of using extracted oils from roots, seeds, plants, flowers, wood or bark. Their aromatic fragrance can stimulate the part of the brain that controls relaxation, emotion, motivation and spiritual influence.

How to Use Essential Oils:

Oils can be used in a variety of ways. Some oils, like rose and patchouli, can be applied directly to the skin, other oils such as peppermint or sandalwood should be diluted into carrier oils (jojoba, almond or avocado oil) before applying to the skin. They can be inhaled, added to bath water, body lotions, shampoos, even cleaning detergents.
  • Rose = Happy
  • Lavender = Calm
  • Patchouli = Relaxed
  • Sweet Orange = Positive
  • Sandalwood = Peaceful
  • Peppermint = Energized
 

Adding More Greens to Your Diet

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Sometimes when we are really hungry or in a hurry it can be too easy to forget our nourishing greens. Instead, we just reach for something sweet or salty. Luckily, there are many quick ways to get more greens into your daily meals and snacks. Greens are low-carb, raw, fat-free, low-cal, gluten-free and vegan. That means no matter what diet you’re on—from raw to Paleo—greens fit right in. Crisp, fresh and dark leafy greens are great in a salad or steamed as a side. But if you’re tired of the same old steamed spinach, here are a few new ways to enjoy leafy greens. Bowl full of spring lettuce

Stir Fry:

Swiss chard is a favorite for simple leafy green sautés. The dark green leaves are a visual treat while the mild, slightly peppery flavor blends well with garlic, water chestnuts and mushrooms. Also try kale, beet greens, mustard greens, spinach or a mixture of several varieties.

Green Smoothies and Juices:

This is probably the quickest way to get in your recommended servings of vegetables. One of our favorite combinations is green apple, lemon, ginger, kale, parsley and spinach. Spirulina, chlorella, or a good green powder are also healthy and convenient for smoothie additions.

Pasta:

Tuck some kale between layers of lasagna noodles, throw a handful of collard greens or chard into your favorite ravioli, or toss macaroni with a nutritious spinach pesto. You’ll find comfort in knowing that your favorite foods have a boost of nutrition.

Soup:

Soups are a great way to use leftover leafy greens that you have on hand. Add collard greens to lentil soup or kale to any sausage, potato or white bean concoction. Even those who don’t get excited by cooking greens enjoy the earthy flavors they provide in soups.

Scrambled Eggs:

Next time you get a hankering for a big ol’ omelet, add in some shredded kale, cilantro or parsley for a big flavor boost without adding extra calories or fat. Quick, warm, savory and nutritious, what more could you ask for? Baked kale chips are a crispy, crunchy way to snack on leafy greens. Kids love them, too! Click here for a recipe!  

How to Grill Steaks to Perfection

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There’s nothing more frustrating than cutting into a steak fresh off the grill and realizing that it’s overdone. Or equally frustrating, cutting into it and realizing that it’s underdone and needs to be thrown back on the grill; the juices spill out before the meat has had a chance to rest. So, how exactly can you tell when your steak is to your preferred doneness? Here’s an easy trick from our friends at The Spice Hunter that uses the best cooking tool you have: your hands. Using your hands, you can tell if your steak is rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well or well done depending on which finger you press to your thumb.
Video Description: Looking to grill up the perfect steak? Check out the tips below for how to achieve preparations from rare to well done.

Rare:

Relax your hand. Using your other hand, touch the fleshy part of your hand beneath your thumb. This is what a rare steak feels like.

Medium-rare:

Gently touch your index finger to your thumb. Using your other hand, touch the fleshy part of your opposite hand beneath your thumb is firmer. This is what a medium-rare steak feels like.

Medium:

Gently touch your middle finger to your thumb. Using your other hand, touch the fleshy part of your opposite hand beneath your thumb. This is what a medium steak feels like.

Medium-well:

Gently touch your ring finger to your thumb. Using your other hand, touch the fleshy part of your opposite hand beneath your thumb. This is what a medium-well steak feels like.

Well:

Gently touch your pinky finger to your thumb. Using your other hand, touch the fleshy part of your opposite hand beneath your thumb. This is what a well-done steak feels like.

Grilled Steak Recipe

Now that we know how to tell when the steak is done to perfection, here’s a simple recipe for perfectly delicious grilled steak.

Ingredients:

  • 4 10-oz. Ribeye steaks
  • 1/4 cup The Spice Hunter Steak & Chop, Grill & Broil
  • Olive oil for brushing

Preparation:

Sprinkle the steaks with the desired amount of steak rub. Rub the steaks on both sides. Brush one side with oil and place on the grill. When ready to flip, brush the top side of the steak with oil. Allow the steaks to rest for 5–10 minutes before serving.  

A Guide to Greens

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You know that greens are nutritious—now make them delicious! Wilted, blanched, sautéed, braised or even puréed, these greens add great balance and depth to any dish and pair especially well with garlic, lemon and olive oil. With these shopping and cooking tips, you’ll be turning over a new leaf in no time.

How to Choose & Store Your Greens

When buying greens, look for crisp, young leaves with vibrant color. Discard any bruised, slimy leaves and stems before storage. Most will keep for a few days when tightly wrapped in paper towels and stored in the refrigerator. Wash just before using. Pre-packaged greens are a real time-saver too. Look for pre-washed Sprouts Lettuce in the Produce Department.

How To Eat Your GreensBrunch of greens in a bowl

Bok Choy

Don’t stop at stir-fries! Fold these sweet, vitamin C-packed leaves raw into salads, slaws or even chicken noodle soup. Try making a simple side dish with mushrooms, bok choy and miso paste.

Collard Greens

This fiber-rich favorite is more versatile than you might think. Try collards folded into your morning frittata or added to your homemade marinara sauce.

Kale

Bursting with vitamin C, kale makes a hearty Caesar salad, brightens vegetable soups, and will even supercharge a pesto. Roast small pieces with a little olive oil, salt and pepper for a light and flavorful snack chip.

Mustard Greens

These vitamin A-filled leaves add a jolt of color and flavor to a meal, complementing meat as well as fish. Try them in braises, curries and pastas too.

Dandelion Greens

These peppery, vitamin K-loaded leaves are best served simply: sautéed in garlic and olive oil and given a spritz of lemon. You can also toss into a salad in place of arugula.

Turnip Greens

If you’ve already used your turnips in another recipe and have a pile of tops covering your cutting board, use these dark, spicy greens as you do kale or collards. They pair well with salty meats, heavy cream or fresh garlic. Or, try a fresh green smoothie for a vitamin-packed breakfast.

Swiss Chard

Chard is a nutritional powerhouse. The stems can be used much like celery, chopped and sautéed to add depth to soups. Use its slightly sweet leaves to class up a pasta dish. (Psst! A little nutmeg adds a special flavor too.) We sell red, green and rainbow varieties at Sprouts.

Spinach

Tied with kale as the most nutritious of all the greens, it delivers more than a dozen flavonoids (anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting compounds) and half the recommended dose of vision-maintaining vitamin A.

Radicchio

Sometimes bitter is better! Okay, so it’s not green, but this red-leaf Italian chicory is traditionally used in salads. It’s also excellent grilled and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Escarole

It may look like romaine, but this bold and bitter green is much more flavorful. It has a delicious nutty flavor and is a wonderful accompaniment to rich meats, a topping for stews or soups, or a wrap for scallops and shrimp. Plus, you’ll find about 65 percent of your daily recommended bone-healthy vitamin K in just half a cup.  

10 Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

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If grocery goods had personalities, apple cider vinegar would have one that comes with being naturally good at just about anything. Used for centuries, this vinegar is a born-ready helper offering benefits for cooking, cleaning and a number of natural remedies.

Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

 
  1. Mix in your salad dressing  Add some zest and flavor to your next bowl of greens by topping it with a homemade dressing that includes a bit of this wonder food.
  2. Include in a marinade  Marinade anything from meats to veggies in a bag or bowl and simply let sit for a few hours to allow flavors to set.
  3. Add to a drink  Up your smoothie, juice or tea by simply including a bit of apple cider vinegar. A teaspoon is plenty!
  4. Boost metabolism  Taking an ounce a day may help to boost your metabolism.*
  5. Create a natural skin astringent  Apple cider vinegar can help restore your skin’s natural pH levels, which helps to keep your skin looking healthy and clear.*
  6. Use as a baking ingredient  Give your cake and muffin batters a lift with this natural leavening agent.
  7. Fight bacteria and fungus  Add apple cider vinegar to salad dressings, meals and more as it contains malic acid which can help fight bugs and germs that may come your way.*
  8. Detoxify naturally  Taking apple cider vinegar each day can help rid the body of toxins.*
  9. Use as a household cleaner  Meet your new all-purpose cleaner! Best used in a spray bottle, it can be mixed with water to create an all-natural cleaner for use in the kitchen, on countertops and floors while also effectively removing any odors that linger in the house.
  10. Enhance & protect your garden  Rid your garden of weeds and watch it grow with this vinegar. Apple cider vinegar can work as a fertilizer when mixed with water and just might help you in achieving a green thumb!

Kids Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

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Ten Kids’ Lunchbox Ideas

Make lunchbox packing easier (while maintaining your sanity) by keeping your refrigerator and pantry stocked with my 10 must-have items to pack a healthy lunchbox for kids. These double (sometimes triple)-duty ingredients guarantee you’ll have fresh, healthy lunchbox options for school or work, any day of the week.

Hummus

Whether as a dip for vegetables, creamy sandwich spread or as a filling for deviled eggs, hummus (made from chickpeas) offers fiber and protein. Make your own, like this flavor-packed Smoked Paprika Hummus or choose a premade option, usually found near the deli case, in a variety of flavors.

Lemons

Use fresh lemon juice to keep sliced apples from browning or as a dressing for green and grain salads like in Salmon and Orzo Salad. Healthy Lunchbox for Kids

Dark Chocolate (70% or higher)

Eat a piece of dark chocolate on its own for a sweet and simple dessert like Chocolate Dipped Apple Slices or melt the chocolate and use it as a dip for strawberries or bananas. You can also melt dark chocolate, spread it on parchment, and top with seeds, nuts and dried fruit for a delicious dessert like this Sweet & Salty Dark Chocolate Bark. Look for options that are lower in sugar and are made from at least 70% cacao.

Berries

Berries play a variety of roles in a healthy lunchbox. Use them as part of a fruit salad, layer in a parfait, top on a green salad, use in place of jelly such as in the Sunflower Seed Butter and Strawberry Wafflewich, or mash and stir into plain yogurt for a no-sugar-added sweetener.

Hard-Cooked Eggs

Boiled eggs are an inexpensive and simple way to add more protein to a lunchbox. Eat as-is with a sprinkle of salt, pepper or paprika, or chop and make into an egg salad, or a simple topping on a green salad. Ever baked eggs instead of boiling them? Try this three-step how to make hard-cooked eggs in the oven method.

Rotisserie Chicken

Pick up a rotisserie chicken from the deli so you always have a high-quality protein source on-hand. Rotisserie chicken can be chopped and made into a simple Balsamic Chicken Salad with Cherries, eaten on its own, topped on a pizza, added to a grain salad, or mixed with barbecue sauce for a quick sandwich.

Grain (barley, couscous, pasta/orzo, quinoa, etc.)

Grains, especially whole grains, offer fiber and a host of other nutrients. Make your own grain salad by combining your favorite cooked grain with cheese, chopped vegetables, fresh or dried fruit and your favorite protein such as turkey, chicken, tofu or lean beef. Try this Couscous Salad for a yummy lunch option.

Greek Yogurt

As a delicious and easy source of high-quality protein, calcium, vitamin D, potassium and other nutrients, Greek yogurt can be eaten as in Chia Seed and Raspberry Yogurt or topped with fruit and oats. It can also be used in place of sour cream or mayonnaise in dips, or as a topping for baked potatoes.

Fresh vegetables

There are many delicious vegetables to keep on-hand that are perfect for a lunchbox. Keep carrot, celery and bell pepper strips in the fridge to use as a dipper. Try diced squash, zucchini and onions in grain or green salads or shave your veggies with a peeler to make Asparagus, Zucchini & Carrot Ribbon Salad.

Cheese (feta, goat, cheddar, etc.)

Cheese always nice to have on-hand for sandwiches and snacks. Spruce up your salads and pasta dishes with a sprinkle of feta or goat cheese. Make Antipasto Skewers using cubed or fresh mozzarella. For a protein boost that is delicious, sweet and savory, try cottage cheese.

SHOP LUNCH PRODUCTS NOW


About Holley GraingerHolley Grainger

Cook. Learn. Eat. Laugh

Holley Grainger, MS, RD is a nationally recognized nutrition and lifestyle expert, who has instructed millions of home cooks on how to make simple, fast and healthy meals through her online videos, media appearances and writing. Holley was the Food and Nutrition Editor of CookingLight.com and MyRecipes.com for over five years where she hosted over 650 online cooking videos for MyRecipes.com including the award-winning “Dinner Tonight” daily video series and the “Real Life Nutrition” video series. Holley currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Brent, preschooler, Ellie, and toddler, Frances. Keep up with her on Holley’s Twitter or like Holley’s Facebook page for healthy recipe suggestions, smart diet advice and motivational healthy eating tips.