Making Every Berry Count

The skin and flesh of colourful fruit such as cranberries, blackberries and the superfood açai berries is rich in vitamin C as well as in natural compounds called anthocyanins. The juice extracted from these berries is brightly coloured, has a distinct flavour profile and potent antioxidant properties. The global juice market is complex. Whilst products able to make specific health claims or offer unusual flavour or nutrient profiles have continued to do well, consumers have grown sceptical of the intrinsic health benefits of more traditional products like orange juice, which contain a substantial amount of sugar. Recent UK consumer media coverage has criticised  household-brand orange juices for their high sugar content and there have even been recommendations that fruit juice should not count towards a person’s “five a day.” There is a clear opportunity for beverage manufacturers to leverage the rich colour and health benefits of berries to create 100% juices that both taste great and support a balanced diet. In fact, the beverage sector has already seen an increase in consumer demand for antioxidant-rich açai, goji and aronia berry drinks.


Meeting consumer brand demand: more high-quality functional ingredients needed
Taste and health-giving properties are not the only attributes that consumers look for when reaching for fruit juice. Convenience has become an increasingly important consideration when buying food products. Given that 80% of British adults admit to struggling to keep up with the recommended “five a day”, the attraction of a high-quality fruit juice or smoothie that counts as one or two portions is clear. Market research confirms this, indicating that, while sales of fruit juice remain static at a high level throughout Europe and North America, in Asia, South America and North Africa they are going from strength to strength. Low-acid and not-from-concentrate juices have recorded the highest growth rates in these regions, with a shift towards highquality products with antioxidants and other functional ingredients similar to that previously seen in Europe and North America.

Enzymes: add a little, do a lot
Given these market conditions, it is no surprise that there is an increase in the number of consumers wanting fresh, healthy juice made from blue and red berries. However, unknown to most people, when berries are squeezed, only some of the antioxidants and juices are released. So a special enzyme designed to break down the skin and tissues of these delicate fruits is needed to extract more from them. Manufacturers using these enzymes can actually double the level of antioxidants made available in the juice, compared to not using enzymes. Also, if coloured berry juice was produced in Europe and North America without the help of enzymes, the cost of producing the juice concentrate would be about 20% higher, potentially making it less accessible to consumers seeking the health-giving properties and great taste of berry-based juices. That would be a real shame for families already contending with the rising cost of living.

Open Air Breakfasts

Biscuits ‘n gravy has never been one of my breakfast staples. I recently had the occasion to taste a pretty amazing version outdoors, under a stormy, cloudy sky. It might have been the location and timing of that particular breakfast, but I am pretty sure I would go back for third helpings of this dish anywhere.

Ready to paddle the distance of Boston to Washington, D.C. using just these two arms and my legs.

Ready to paddle the distance of Boston to Washington, D.C. using just these two old arms.

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Quick and Creative: Why Quinoa Makes the Perfectly Packed Lunch

Like most collegiates, I love my university. I can speak at length about classes, clubs and extracurricular activities. But, I never thought I’d be so excited to talk about my school’s food. I attend Boston University and I’m proud to say that among its many accolades, another area where BU truly excels is in its cuisine. Instead of having to choose between bad options like when my parents went to school, my biggest dilemma in the dining hall is limiting myself to only one dinner entrée.

I’ve been lucky enough to dine in an amazing space for the past two and a half years, but when I studied abroad in London this past spring, the dining hall unfortunately did not travel across the pond with  me.

One of my favorite London drinks!

One of my favorite London drinks!

On the weekends, my peers and I enjoyed traditional English pub food – freshly battered fish and chips finished with a crisp cider, which was a delicious option, but not always the healthiest. After a month of pasta and peanut butter sandwiches, I started to research a better lunch option to pack for the work week. Quinoa was the perfect solution.



I was originally attracted to quinoa after reading that the UN deemed 2013 the International Year of Quinoa due to its incredible nutritional value. Although quinoa, pronounced “keen-wa” has only recently become a popular item in nearby grocery stores, it’s been a major food crop in other countries for centuries.  It was a staple in the pre-Columbian culture in Latin America and is still a dominant crop for the Quechua and Aymara peoples of the rural Andes region of South America, where in the Quechua language quinoa affectionately translates to “mother grain.”



Prepared either creamy or crunchy, quinoa is a great dish for anyone with an active lifestyle. It is incredibly easy to make as it can be boiled – or easily reheated in the microwave with water – for simply ten minutes. For anyone preparing their own lunch, it holds incredibly well. Quinoa is packed with many health benefits (which you can read more about here), but what I love is that it keeps me full for the entire afternoon.

Sarah 4


Quinoa’s best asset is that it allows for creativity – even if you’re new to the cooking scene like me! I  enjoy a kale and quinoa salad sprinkled with sliced almonds and feta cheese, but often I would chop up various vegetables the night before, add some olive oil before lunch and enjoy an entirely new creation! There is nothing worse than having the same boring lunch that you had the day before, but with quinoa one package can provide a base for a week’s worth of lunches while also giving you the option to change spices and additions from day to day.

Here is a delicious recipe from the National Honey Board (client) to get you started on your quinoa quest. What is your favorite combination? Please feel free to comment with new favorite recipes!

Fruit and Mint Quinoa Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing



Hope Springs Eternal: Celebrating the End of Winter with a Renewed Dedication to Healthy Eating

Despite the fact that the ground is still snow-covered where I live about 30 miles north of New York City, the calendar continues to assure me that spring does indeed start today. And after a miserable winter that pretty much compelled me to live on comfort food for the past several months (simply refer to my last post for evidence of that!), I think many of us are looking to the warmer weather as the impetus to shed a few extra pounds and reintroduce more healthy foods back into our diet. Combine that with the fact that it’s National Nutrition Month and we have too many good reasons to ignore.

My focus for this post is two of my favorite salads. In fact, few things make me happier than the day in mid-May that I plant my annual herb garden of basil, chives, rosemary, parsley and cilantro. It compels me to get creative with different ways that I can use them.

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The Spotlight on Sugar: Proposed Initiatives Call to Reduce Sugar Intake, Imply Not All Sugars Created Equal

As Jaime Schwartz addressed in her recent post, new nutrition labeling changes could have big implications for marketing and communications professionals. This summary takes a deeper dive into labeling concerns looking at the implications of added sugar labeling in light of the guidance WHO proposed last week.

Not All Sugars Are Created Equal


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The Getting Married in Three Weeks Snack

I’m a guy. And I like my snacks. Especially those involving chocolate.

But I’m getting married in three weeks and given that I’d like to look my best I’ve attempted to alter my eating habits (a bit), and make little changes where possible. With that said, I’d like to introduce you to what I’ve deemed “The Getting Married in Three Weeks Snack.”

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So what DO they serve at The Obesity Society meeting

So what DO they serve at The Obesity Society meeting
If you are thinking this is a post about food so fabulous that you can’t stop eating it, then read no further. The Obesity Society is not about gluttony unleashed. The former name of this group, the North American Society for the Study of Obesity, is much more descriptive of its mission. It actually is a science geek
s paradise, with presentations mostly on metabolism, genetics, physiology of diets, . . . . . but don’t let me digress. Big hunks of beef, mounds of white bread rolls, pasta with cream sauce, roasted vegetables dripping with oil,  baked chips (which, by the way, have about the same number of calories as fried), wraps with mayo, sugar sweetened soft drinks, were all on the menu for Society sponsored events. And for a group so intent on nutrition labeling, none was available. 

So basically, the professionals are no different from anyone else, further validating that knowledge doesn’t necessarily translate to behavior. But lest you think this is a totally boring group, make note of this 3 inch thick textbook that was available for sale– Beer in Health and Disease Prevention.


Food Companies Meet Obesity Half-Way

The food industry did itself proud today by announcing a commitment to reduce the calories in its foods by 1 trillion by the year 2012. Speaking from the White House and partnering with First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier American, the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) pledged to develop and introduce lower-calorie options than the foods currently available, lower the calorie content of current products, reduce portion sizes of existing single-serve products and to reduce fat and sugar in foods.

And lest you fear that the food industry capitulated by taking on all of the blame for obesity in the country, the HWCF noted that these product changes will account for ½ of the “energy gap” (the amount of calories consumed vs. the amount of calories expended), which was cited as the cause of the obesity epidemic. The other ½ will need to come from consumers themselves – by expending that additional energy.

With the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation named as the watchdog that will ensure that food companies are complying, we can expect that the 80 member companies (including retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, sporting goods and insurance companies, trade associations and nonprofit organizations) will be touting their progress along the way. For food companies, this means that developing healthier products may no longer be news – it’ll be what’s expected. It also means that companies and organization that have not yet signed onto the coalition will need to figure out how they will respond – quickly.

Stuff, Bake, Eat!

OK this is not an earth shattering concept. We’ve all stuffed something one time in our lives – – from turkeys to crème puffs but especially peppers. I recently revisited an old favorite, stuffed Bell peppers, and I just had to share them with you because I had forgotten what I was missing out on (and didn’t want you to do the same!)
First of all the recipe is super fast to prepare but most importantly it is soooo darn tasty.  Peppers are one food you don’t have to do much to to make them taste outrageous.  They are also low calorie and high in nutrients like vitamin C, B6, beta carotene and folic acid.   
In my Italian American family stuffed peppers have been made many different ways with different ingredients. The best rendition was my nanny’s.  She used to use Cubanelle sweet peppers, which are thin, long and light green in color (shown below).  They are a bit more tart then a bell pepper when cooked. She used to stuff them with lots of bread, cheese and of course garlic, butter and oil.  Yes, these were not the low calorie options but OMG were they mouth watering. 
My recipe however is the lighter version using Bell peppers, ground beef and turkey, brown rice and crushed tomatoes.   I made a half dozen (just for myself because Phil “the hubby” doesn’t eat tomatoes.) so I had leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day… it was the dish that kept on giving!
Here’s the recipe. Serves 6.
½  lb lean ground turkey
½  lb lean ground sirloin
1 yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tbs olive or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp fresh or dried parsely
1 tsp fresh or dried oregano
1 cup brown rice (uncooked)
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
6 whole sweet peppers (any color)
Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.
Start cooking your brown rice.
Then, core and clean out each pepper. Brush skin with a little olive oil and stand them up in a baking dish. Set aside.
Salt and pepper turkey and beef. 
On med/high heat, in a fry pan, add ½ tsp oil and brown your ground turkey and beef. Remove meet and set aside. 
Add, ½ tsp oil, 1 diced onion and 3 diced garlic cloves to pan. Letting them cook up for a for minutes. 
Then add tomatoes, herbs and salt pepper to taste. Let that come to a boil. Turn heat down to med/low and add meet and cooked rice to pan. Toss to combine ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.
Stuff peppers with meet/rice mixture. Drizzle with some olive oil, add a little water to the bottom of baking dish and put in oven for 15-20 minutes. Putting them in uncovered will help roast the skin.
Remove and cover with tin foil for 20 minutes more. Covering will keep the stuffing from drying out and help the peppers to cook through.