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Fooducate: Mobile App Puts Foods to the Test

Having trouble deciphering the nutrition claims and labels down the grocery aisles? Well, there’s an app for that. Many shoppers are now turning to their smart phones to determine if what they are grabbing from the grocery shelves is in fact as healthy as their labels claim. The mobile app Fooducate provides shoppers with a clearer sense of what is in their food, behind all of the marketing hype. The App does this all by dishing out a grade to your grocery. Users scan a product barcode and Fooducate gives the product a letter grade based on its ingredient list and nutrition facts. Generally, the less processed the food, with fewer fillers or additives, the higher the grade. Just to get an idea of some of the products graded: Fooducate gives Coca Cola a D+, Nature Valley Granola Bars a C+ and Skippy Natural Peanut Butter a B-. The app also calls out what's affecting that grade -- for example: Kellogg's NutriGrain Mixed Berry cereal bars aren't 100% whole grain and contain artificial flavors. The app highlights both the good and bad of the product you are looking to buy and helps you select better alternatives. Grab your smart phone next time you’re shopping and see if your groceries pass the test!

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Moe’s Southwest Grill: Everyone’s Speedy Mexican spot for Cinco de Mayo

We know Moe’s is ready for Cinco de Mayo. The restaurant has been advertising their “Cinco de Moe’s” event for a while now: "be one of the first 100 in line on Saturday morning and get a free T-shirt." Careful on those Burritos though! The Chicken Burrito with the works can easily run you over 1000 calories and more than 2500 mg of sodium! If you are watching your calories and/or carbs, try and go for the “Streaker”option—(no tortilla or shell). Their Streaker with Black Beans is a healthier bet. Another way to ease up on the carbs may be to hold the rice or beans. The Pork Crispy Tacos make our calorie cut and are low carb - but everything in moderation! Some of their salads made our picks- like the Salad with Chicken. Add on Guacemole, Lettuce, Grilled Peppers, and Cheese and it still made the 1200 Calorie, low sodium, low carb and gluten free picks! If you are in the mood for steak, their Quesadilla with Steak surprisingly makes it in the 1800 calorie diet. Be sure to add on those veggies! See some more of our Moe’s picks here.

Jeatwell's picture

Rosa Mexicano: Mexican Dining at its Finest!

Want some elegant Mexican cuisine on Cinco de Mayo? Then Rosa Mexicano might be just the place. Their menu is as diverse as the flavors they promise with some items that we have not seen at other Mexican restaurants. Their Swordfish Steak with Chili Guajillo Adobo is pretty unique (and falls under the 1800 calorie diet!). They also offer individual Gluten Free lunch and dinner menus, with awesome options like the Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus or the Achiote Rice and Black Beans (which are also low in calories – even with some chips and salsa). There are plenty of health-conscious, and stylish, items to choose from. Look at the rest of our Rosa Mexicano picks here.

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Taco Del Mar: West Coast Spin on Mexican

Taco Del Mar takes a West Coast surfer spin on traditional Mexican food. They boast on their “Mission Style” burritos and Fish tacos and they offer a few vegan and vegetarian options. Some that made our list include the Baja Mondito Veggie Bowl and their Refried Bean Tacos. Their Meatless Breakfast Tacos pretty much hit the mark for every diet (gluten free, vegetarian, reduced calorie, etc.). For those on a restricted calorie diet, the Fish Taco with Black Bean and Corn Salsa is a good option. Their Mondo Burritos are around 500 calories each and all of their Mondito Burritos are 300 calories or less, but watch out for the Vegan Mondito Burrito. Compared to the other ones which have around 5 grams of Saturated Fat, the Vegan has 25 grams! See the rest of our Taco del Mar picks here.

judy's picture

Taco Del Mar: West Coast Spin on Mexican

Taco Del Mar takes a West Coast surfer spin on traditional Mexican food. They boast on their “Mission Style” burritos and Fish tacos and they offer a few vegan and vegetarian options. Some that made our list include the Baja Mondito Veggie Bowl and their Refried Bean Tacos. Their Meatless Breakfast Tacos pretty much hit the mark for every diet (gluten free, vegetarian, reduced calorie, etc.). For those on a restricted calorie diet, the Fish Taco with Black Bean and Corn Salsa is a good option. Their Mondo Burritos are around 500 calories each and all of their Mondito Burritos are 300 calories or less, but watch out for the Vegan Mondito Burrito. Compared to the other ones which have around 5 grams of Saturated Fat, the Vegan has 25 grams! See the rest of our Taco del Mar picks here.

Jeatwell's picture

April showers bring May flowers, and May flowers bring… Cinco de Mayo!

What are your Cinco de Mayo Plans? While it may have started as a celebration of the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo has since crossed the border to a celebration of Mexican culture, Mexican food and (possibly most popularly) Mexican drinks! So in honor of Cinco de Mayo we will be reviewing some Mexican favorites into the weekend. First up, Chuy’s, who promises to provide authentic Mexican Food using only the freshest ingredients. We like that Chuy’s values fresh and seasonal ingredients. Their tortillas are “hand-rolled” and their Salsa Fresca made every hour with fresh tomatoes. We also like the use of “hand-pulled chicken” --- pulled from whole roasted chickens cooked right there in the kitchen. They even claim to have their managers travel to the fields of New Mexico, where their Green Chile Peppers are harvested, to pick them at their freshest. Talk about commitment!

As far as the overall menu, we have some favorites for healthy eating. Their Grilled Chicken Salad with Creamy Jalapeno is lower in calories, sodium and carbs. Their Chicken Flautas with Guacamole and Pico are also a healthier choice. Their vegetarian options are not so extensive though, with the traditional Quesadillas as an option as well as their Salads (you may have to ask for no meat), and maybe their Nachos (but who really eats Nachos as a meal?) Watch out for the menu items that are fried and/or battered like their Chile Rellenos and Chuychanga signature dishes. Those are sure to be loaded with calories. Their “Signature Sauces” appear to have a lot of fresh ingredients and spices which is great. Just be mindful that sauces many times mean lots of salt or sugar, so if you are watching your sodium or calories, you may want to go “light” or without. If you happen to stop by Chuy’s this weekend, come back and let us know what you think of the food! Keep checking out the blog for new reviews of other Mexican favorites and let us know some of your favorite Mexican food spots!

judy's picture

10 day Feeding Tube Diet! Watch Steven Colbert Explain

People can be desperate to lose weight. Fad diets are appealing because they promise quick weight loss. They have been around for a very long time and reappear every so many years. One diet that keeps resurfacing is the high fat/low carb diet. This diet actually came about from a diet used to treat PKU (phenylketonuria). Most people only recognize this word from the warning on diet coke cans. Individuals with PKU have to be on very special diets consisting of mostly fat and very little carbs (what I mean by low is basically none). Researchers thought that the people would gain a lot of weight with so much fat, but they didn't. They lost weight. This eventually led to the Atkin's diet and many other "ketogenic" diets. I won't get into the reasons for why this extreme diet is not healthy unless you are receiving treatment for PKU - except to say that these people need to be followed by a team of clinicians for life and they also take special supplements/shakes to make the diet safe.
This diet is resurfacing, but in a very unusual way - via a feeding tube. While it's true that the actual diet is not palatable consisting of so much fat, it would be like just eating butter all day (and not on a biscuit); a feeding tube seems extreme. This diet is promising to help brides to lose 20# in 10 days before the big day. This fad is obviously controversial and very serious - so we decided to let Steven Colbert explain it. I couldn't trim the video, so it's about 5 minutes long. The first 2 minutes are about the diet. Feel free to watch the second half about testicle injections, birth control and scorpions - although I will not be commenting on it!

judy's picture

Want to eat salty foods? What if you were taxed on it??

High blood pressure (or hypertension) is the #1 risk factor for death worldwide. Besides being deadly, it is also expensive. It accounts for 10% of all the healthcare spending worldwide or about $450 Billion (that's with a B) in the US alone.

The World Congress of Cardiology just released an article on research to help reduce high blood pressure. The study suggests reducing salt by 10% in processed foods and taxing foods (40%) with high salt content. The tax would be similar to taxes applied to tobacco in many countries. They suggest that this could reduce death by 3%. If you are thinking what I was thinking, 3% doesn't sound like a lot, I then read that it meant 500,000 fewer deaths per year if it was adopted globally and in addition, several million nonfatal heart attacks and strokes would be prevented.

It's hard to argue with the numbers. I shy away from political stances in my blog about food. So, I don't want to get into whether more or less taxes is better! But what if we did just leave it up to the individuals and have them make better choices? We are starting to encourage restaurants to publish their nutrition information. Jeatwell uses that information to help people make better lower sodium choices. We have all sorts of restaurants we review from fast food to 5 star. We've exposed restaurants like Magiano's who have over 13,000 mg of sodium in one of their meals. I can't emphasize enough that every time you make a purchase at a restaurant or the grocery store, you are making a vote for that item. So when people stop ordering ridiculously high sodium foods or stop buying them from the stores, the stores and restaurants will eventually stop offering them.

If salty foods are taxed higher, what will be next? Sodas? Sweets? Fried foods? Please don't say chocolate! What are your thoughts?

judy's picture

Request for Fatz Milkshakes

We've had a request for not only a specific restaurant, but for a specific menu item - Fatz milkshakes. Fatz is found in the Southeast United States. The South isn't usually known for its healthy low Calorie foods! See our blog on SNL skit on Paula Deen. Some of Fatz's menu items are par for the course. The beef or chicken fiesta nachos are close to 2000 Calories. Their baby back ribs are around 1440 Calories and around 7500 mg of sodium. Fatz does have a gluten free menu and a Lite menu that has items under 550 Calories. We picked some traditional southern fair like the Fatz Famous Fried Fish with Grilled Veggie Skewers and Strawberry Fatz Freeze (which fit our 1800 Calorie diet) and the Calabash Popcorn Shrimp and Grilled Veggies Skewers (which fit our 1800 Calorie diet and the low Carb diets). Some other picks were not typical Southern food like the Lite Key West Basa with Broccoli and Garden Rice (which fit the 1500 Calorie diet and is also gluten free). See the rest of our Fatz picks here and keep the requests coming.

judy's picture

Snack Attack!

One of the most common questions I get is about snacking. Should I snack? Is snacking bad? What kinds of snacks should I eat? Although Jeatwell is really about eating at restaurants, we don't mind answering all sorts of nutrition questions. I have been asked about snacking recently by a pilot for a major airline. He said that pilots and flight attendants often struggle with diets since they are away from home for days at a time and then only have access to fast food in the terminals where they have lay overs. He is not the first Airline employee to say the very same thing. A flight attendant had asked me what are some shelf stable healthy foods that she could travel with on her flights. Other industries have the very same problem. I talk to many nurses who are on the go from the minute they start their shift and snacking is the only way they can eat.
So.. let's talk about snacking. Snacking can really be part of a healthy way to eat. It can be a way to get extra nutrients in between meals. It can prevent hunger when meals are spaced out by more than 4 hours. It can help to prevent your metabolism from slowing down (which contributes to weight gain). Planning healthy snacks can also prevent a person from eating unhealthy snacks (from vending machines, drive through's etc). Most every patient I have ever counseled for weight loss, learned a lot about snacking. But what kind of snacks?? It really depends. Do you have an ice pack and cooler? Do you have access to a microwave? How long will it be to your next meal? In general, snacks should be no more than 200 Calories. They should have some sort of protein (closer to 10-15 grams would be best) and a little fiber would be a bonus. If your snack could contain a fruit, vegetable and/or dairy serving, you hit the nail on the head. Sometimes you can get a well-rounded and healthy snack at a fast food restaurant, kiosk or convenient store. But it is most likely to be cheaper and a quicker if you bring it from home. You can plan out snacks for the trip with individual pre-portioned snacks. I always have snacks on me anytime of day, anywhere I go. Here is a list of some potential snacks:

- protein/snack bar (this is a topic in itself! But think less than 200 Calories, 10-15 gm protein. For example, the zone bars)
-trail mix (again - remember the Calories and protein. Also, if you are on a road trip - think about if it will be left in a hot car- you may want the one without chocolate)
-carrots, celery and/or bell pepper with small hummus snack pack
-fresh fruit with a protein snack (milk, peanut butter snack pack, hand full of peanuts, etc)
-shelf stable milk (horizon makes an organic 1% milk with 110 Calories and 8 grams of protein)
-muscle milk light (160 Calories and 15 gm protein)
-cereal (Kashi Go Lean Crunch has 200 Calories, 9 gm protein and 8 gm of fiber in 1 cup) *eat it dry or have a 1/2 cup and have some milk to drink with it
-100 Cal snack pack of microwave popcorn *pop before you leave or if you have access to a microwave in a hotel or terminal. Mix with a protein like milk, cheese, yogurt or nuts
-nuts (1/4 cup of almonds is around 160 Calories, 6 gm protein and 3 gm of fiber)
-beef jerky (not like the slim jims! But Golden Valley makes some that is 90 Calories and 11 gm of protein in 1 oz)
-dried fruits (bananas, apples, cherries, etc). mix with a protein snack.
-canned tuna * i would shy away from this one if you are in a small confined area like a cockpit, etc.

If you have access to a cooler or refrigerator; or if you don't you could just eat as one of your first snacks at the beginning of your trip:
-yogurt and granola
-cottage cheese and fruit
-string cheese

Hope this helps! If you have any snack related questions or any nutrition related questions, let us know!

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