The YOU Food Economy: 4 Trends Revolutionizing the Way We Eat

The YOU Food Economy: 4 Trends Revolutionizing the Way We Eat

Unless you’v been living under a rock, you know how rapidly the food landscape is changing. You know that today eaters are increasingly calling the shots-through their food dollars, social entrepreneurship, social media influence, or even with products they have created for the marketplace.

The mega-trend that’s emerging from all this? I call it the YOU Food Economy.

Far beyond debating  fat vs. carbohydrate, practicing Paleo or slashing sugar, the YOU Food Economy is about creating a food plan and eating philosophy that’s uniquely based on the total sum of YOU. Here are 4 ideas transforming the nutrition arena now-and that are worth watching closely.

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Expo West & Kiwi Magazine: 5 Not-to-Miss Trends

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Expo West Trends | Kate Geagan | Kiwi MagazineWhat’s next in natural and organic foods for you and your family from Expo West?

I’m just back from the 2014 Natural Products Expo West, and I have teamed up with one of my media partners, Kiwi Magazine (I serve on their Advisory Board), to share  5 of the top trends I saw there that will shape green living in 2014.
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What trends from Expo West did YOU love? I'd love to hear from you!

What’s next in natural, organic foods for you and your family? Parent Advisory Board Member and Registered Dietitian Kate Geagan covers the latest news out of Natural Products Expo West 2014 and explores the top five trends that will shape green living this coming year. Read more...

On Katie Couric: 3 Superfoods Get A Closer Look

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I had the pleasure of stopping by Katie recently to talk with Katie Couric about some of the hottest health trends in the supermarket. In case you're wondering, YES, she was as nice and approachable (and fun!) as you would think she'd be! Like most of us, she had several questions about some of the "super foods" that her friends, or people who work at the Katie Show, have been talking about. So here’s what we tackled:

Kate on Katie Couric

  1. Kombucha: The hype is that this trendy, tangy fermented tea beverage has been sipped for over 2,000 years, but is immensely popular in modern times because it merges many trends that are hot right now:  probiotics, detox, and ancient Asian remedies. Kombucha devotees claim a wide range of benefits, from probiotics, enhanced immunity and energy, improved digestion and liver function, lower cholesterol and cancer fighting potential. But so far the science lags a bit behind…so is it worth the hefty price tag?
  2. Tart Cherry Juice: Does tart cherry juice act as a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, one that can even rival over the counter pain relievers in relieving aches and pains? That's what Katie had heard, and wanted to know if it was true.
  3. Hemp: The buzz is that hemp seeds are a superfood that pack powerful nutrition and unique health benefits. 

Is there any truth to these trends?  Click the link to check it out yourself or click here to visit the article I wrote for Katie's website to dig a bit deeper.

Kate Geagan covers Supermarket Trends with Katie Couric

5 Super Green Awards at FNCE 2011

FNCE 2011The American Dietetic Association just wrapped its annual meeting in San Diego last week, and while there was certainly some controversy about America’s food and nutrition experts being sponsored by Big Food it was also incredibly refreshing and encouraging to see many companies who are committed to producing sustainable, nourishing foods sharing their message with RDs. There were lots of great ones, but here are my 5 Green Stars of FNCE. For the record, I am not personally connected in any way to any of these products- I just love ‘em. 1.  Cat Cora’s Olive Snack Packs

Cat Cora's Olive Snack Packs

I LOVE these! While we can’t all be lucky enough to pull up a chair to legendary chef Cat Cora’s kitchen table, this is the next best thing. Finally, real food snacking on the go has been made super delicious, super easy. These resealable packs are ingenious-they don’t leak in your purse or your bag-I love the pitted lemon and oregano olives, as they’re brimming with real olive flavor, not just a salt bomb that so many olives are these days. Sun ripened, with no artificial anything, made with ingredients found in your kitchen: olives, extra virgin olive oil, herbs and salt. Cora partnered with sustainable food pioneer Gaea (with carbon footprinting on the package), making it a lean and green superfood on the go for moms, execs, athletes even kids.

 

Einkhorn Pasta2.  Einkhorn Pasta

Truth be told, they had me at hello. If you haven’t already heard of it, get ready for a new “ancient grain” to hit store shelves near you: einkorn pasta. I got a fascinating anthropology lesson - seriously. First discovered on a perfectly preserved man who lived during the Bronze Age, einkhorn  was brought back to mainstream eating by Italian researchers-and is now cultivated on small organic farms in Italy-einkhorn is unique because it has never been hybridized, making it one of the most simple (chromosomally speaking) wheats out there. Rich in B vitamins, protein and trace minerals, with an ORAC score of 1200 (compared to durum wheat at 600), it’s a supergrain that has a wonderful nutty taste and is the perfect way to pump up your favorite pasta recipe. And they get a green star for sustainable packaging.

 

Sweet Tree Coconut Palm Sugar3.  Sweet Tree Coconut Palm Sugar

Sugar is a problem; we know Americans eat far too much of it, (an average of 22 tsp a day) and traditional cane sugar comes with a high environmental price tag as well. That’s why I’m so sweet on this new fantastic find. First introduced to me by my favorite qualitarian RD Ashley Koff, Sweet Tree is made from 100% organic crystallized coconut palm nectar, has a lower glycemic index (only 35) than table sugar (68), HCFS (62), or honey (55), and contains many trace nutrients like potassium. An easy, greener swap for your kitchen, it can be used ounce for ounce in your favorite recipes instead of cane sugar, and imparts a deliciously rich, almost caramel flavor to my coffee in the morning. Parent company Big Tree Farms has done outstanding work in sustainability: showing that “health, people and planet” can all coexist deliciously.

 

Crispy Greens4.  Crispy Greens

What I loved most at FNCE this year is how many companies are finally showing us that YES, snacking can be super clean, 1 ingredient foods like they’re found in nature-and still be fun, easy and delicious in the process. Crispy Greens is a shining example. I love the crispy Asian pear, mango and cantaloupe flavors-talk about a delicious wake up for your tastebuds! And a refreshing step beyond first generation “healthy snacks” like oily banana chips. Perfect for the purse, the high chair, the boardroom, the gym bag, and all of life in between. Green star, ladies.

 

Tera’s Whey5.  Tera’s Whey

Simple ingredients, ethically sources to support small, Wisconsin farms. A green factory that touches the planet lightly. Traceability that goes al the way back to the cow or goat. Now tell me, what’s not to love? Given all the highly fortified, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup options I saw on the FNCE floor, Tera’s Whey was a breath of fresh air.   For those who thrive on a morning whey shake or like that added boost of protein, Terra’s Whey is a lean, green, and clean option. Other bonuses: They offer organic cow and goat milk options, and offer versions that are unsweetened, or sweetened with low-glycemic stevia.

 

Did you see anything else at FNCE generating some lean and green buzz? I'd love to hear about it! Want more snacks to wean you from the vending machine? Shine has an amazing list of lean and green superfoods that I love.

 

Written with assistance from Lindsey Toth, MS, RD

On Dr. Oz: 5 Foods to Crank Proof Your Diet

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Do you cop to having a short fuse when it comes to dealing with life’s everyday stressors, such as your boss, your spouse, or even your kids? Do you reach for food or caffeine during the day in an attempt to feel calm, to find a jolt of energy or a moment of bliss? But above all else, do you just really crave a better mood? I recently did a segment on the Dr. Oz Show that tackled this topic.  If you want to feel significantly less cranky and more able to sail through your day, read on.

Seek Energy, Not Stimulation.

While good habits such as eating breakfast every morning and regular meals and snacks throughout the day form the cornerstone of an energized outlook, science has increasingly revealed the vital ways in which our food impacts our mood. And it may surprise you that some of the best weapons to help cure crankiness can be found in your local grocery store.

These 5 foods will help your mood in two ways: first, they deliver several key nutrients that science has found play a vital role in supporting brain chemistry to reduce the risk of depression and help improve the quality of your sleep. But they do something equally important as well: their powerful combination of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help you build up your energy and capacity to handle life from your body’s deepest levels (your cells metabolic and energy pathways), rather than that quick burst of stimulation from a sugar or high caffeine fix that ultimate leaves you feeling cranky or tired. Try including them as part of a delicious new happiness routine.

 

salmon with hemp1. Salmon with Hemp Seeds and Radish Sprouts.

In order for your brain to function optimally it needs to have the right nutrient building blocks available, and omega-3 fats are one of the most important when it comes to boosting your mood. The brain is 60% fat, and particularly loves omega-3 fats, but most Americans get far too little omega-3 in their diet. The problem with that? Growing evidence suggests that consuming inadequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with depression and poor moods.

Fatty fish like salmon is one of Nature’s richest source of omega-3 fats, so for a mood lift enjoy fatty fish 2-3 times each week. Odds will be you’re in happier company, as studies have found that people who infrequently eat fish are more likely to suffer from depression.  For an extra “heaping of happiness”, coat the salmon with crushed hemp seeds (available in the natural foods section of most grocery stores) and top it with a radish sprout salad: both the seeds and the sprouts are rich in vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fats to further bolster mood, brainpower and immunity.

By eating this way, you’ll enjoy a double brain benefit, too: not only do foods rich in omega-3 fat help fight crankiness and improve your outlook today, they help you maintain a robust memory and significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia as you age.

2. Mushrooms Exposed to UV Light .

Vitamin D is another key part of “mood maintenance” because it helps regulate the activity of the brain’s neurotransmitters (serotonin, melatonin and dopamine) which have have a profound impact on mood. Studies have found the likelihood of having depression is significantly higher in people with deficiency in vitamin D compared to those who have normal levels. And chances are, you or someone you know might be deficient and not even know it (a blood test is required); by some estimates over 50% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, making it a critical component in a crank-proof diet.

While it can be difficult to meet the RDA for Vitamin D through food alone (which is 600 IU for people ages 19-70), one fantastic food that has recently come to a supermarket near you is Vitamin D-packed mushrooms. These are mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light, which naturally boosts the vitamin D level, so that 1 cup of these mushrooms packs 100% of the RDA (look for this on the label). Serve these mushrooms over couscous for an easy and delicious dinner; the couscous is rich in selenium, another nutrient that has been  linked to improved mood.

3. Tart Cherries.

Savor a handful of dried tart cherries before you turn in for the night and you’ll set the stage for a better mood when you wake up. Tart cherries are rich in a hormone called melatonin, which acts as a natural sleep aid by improving quality of sleep. As we age, our bodies’ natural ability to produce melatonin decreases (one reason why seniors can find it harder to sleep soundly), and things like stress or artificial light can also lower our body’s melatonin. And here’s an added bonus: cherries’ powerful bundle of antioxidants helps protect your brain from free radicals, which enables your brain chemistry to be optimized for a good mood.

4. Amaranth Popcorn. 

This one’s fun as it is tasty! Amaranth is a delicious “new ancient grain” to try if you haven’t yet added it to your shopping list. This supergrain is loaded with antioxidants, minerals, fiber and iron, and was considered a life sustaining food of the ancient Aztec and Inca cultures.

Whole grains are a key part of any crank proof diet, as the carbohydrate in whole grain helps raise levels of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as the body’s natural anti-depressant.  The fiber in amaranth also helps keep blood sugar stable, so you feel more alert and energized longer. This is a key reason to choose whole grains over refined grains and sweets when looking for a mood boost, for those sugary treats often trigger blood sugar to spike and plummet, leading to crankiness and faster fatigue.

Look for amaranth in the bulk section of your grocery store or in the natural foods aisle. For a fun twist, try amaranth popcorn: simply put a dry medium skillet over medium high heat, and when hot add 2 Tbsp. amaranth seeds: COVER QUICKLY WITH A LID so it doesn’t pop everywhere! Gently shake back and forth, and the grains will quickly pop into “micro popcorn” in about 10 seconds. Pour into a dish and repeat with another 2 Tbsp. Dust with cinnamon for an added antioxidant and flavor boost.

5. Medjool Dates and Cocoa. 

Nearly all of the cranky viewers Dr. Oz and I spoke with sought out sweets at some point during their day; after all, who doesn’t like to feel that quick “pick me up” that sweetness can bring? The challenge is the sheer amount most of us are eating: Americans consume more than 22 teaspoons of sugar each day, According to a 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

While the initial rush of sugar can indeed perk you up, it ultimately leads to the crankiness of that inevitable crash. A sweeter fix for your sweet tooth is to try my Decadent Chocolate Fix, made from just 3 superfoods:  Avocado, Medjool dates, and cocoa powder. Aside from all the health benefits of cocoa for the cardiovascular system (mainly in the form of flavonoids) the reason cocoa often gives an instant feeling of happiness is due to the rush of dopamine that triggers the brain’s pleasure receptors, and endorphins which give a feeling of a natural high.

As with any sweet treat, even this one should be eaten in modest portions because it is high in calories, but at least you can go to the dark side in a delicious, healthy way.

Ingredients:

    • 6 Medjool dates (room temperature)
    • 1/2 ripe Hass avocado
    • 4 tbsp high quality cocoa
    • 1-2 tsp water (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or Vitamix and purée until smooth. Add 1-2 tsp of water to combine if needed.

What foods help you crank-proof your diet? I'd love to hear about them!

 

Written with help from Lindsey Toth, MS, RD