Cabbage is part of the cruciferous vegetable family where you'll also find bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and radish. Cabbage, like many other vegetables, is a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Cruciferous vegetables also contain many phytonutrients which promotes health as well as helps reduce risks of cancer, especially colon cancer.
Goi Ga - Vietnamese Cabbage Salad
My mom made goi ga (Vietnamese cabbage salad) all the time when I was growing up. It's quick, fresh, and can feed the whole family for fairly cheap. When I was shopping at Trader Joe's, I found a bag of pre-shredded green cabbage and was suddenly inspired to make this dish. Here's how to make it:
Ingredients for 1 serving of salad:
Ingredients for dressing (save extra in fridge):
To learn how to shred a head of cabbage, see my video below:
Being Asian, rice is my preferred grain/carbohydrate source at almost every meal at home. I grew up eating only white rice and didn't convert to brown rice until I started learning about food and nutrition at the ripe age of 22. I didn't prefer it at the beginning but slowly started liking it and now it's the only rice I make at home. Once in awhile I will still have white rice when I'm eating at Asian restaurants, cooking really traditional Vietnamese dishes, or having meals at my mom's house. My mom tried brown rice, but she won't budge from her daily white rice!
Brown rice is more nutrient-dense and plays a positive role in satiety and blood glucose. I break down the differences below.
A serving of 1/2 cup of brown rice provides 2 grams of fiber while the same serving of white rice provides 0 grams. While 2 grams may not sound like a lot, getting fiber from your grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds throughout the day will help you meet fiber goals of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men under 50 years of age daily. For adults over the age of 50, fiber recommendations lower to 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men.
A grain of brown rice is covered in bran which is fibrous and provides additional minerals like potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium. Brown rice is converted to white rice when the bran is removed, meaning both the fiber and the minerals are removed as well making it less nutrient-dense than brown rice.
Calorically, white and brown rice has a similar amount of calories, about 100-110 calories per 1/2 cup serving.
Taste and Texture
Brown rice is slightly tougher and chewier in texture and has a nutty taste. Since white rice has the bran removed, it is softer and fluffier and tastes much more mild.
Glycemic Index and Blood Sugar Spikes
Brown rice is beneficial since it's lower on the glycemic index than white rice. The glycemic index gives you an idea of how quickly the carbohydrate source can spike up your blood sugar. With white rice being a simple carbohydrate, it dissolves into sugar and absorbs quickly into your bloodstream causing a blood sugar spike. On the other hand, brown rice has fiber so it takes longer for your body to break it down and will feed your body the glucose at a slower rate, therefore, providing you energy for a longer period of time.
Unlike white rice, the fiber in brown rice helps you feel full quicker which allows you to eat smaller portions.
An occasional bowl of white rice won't make a large difference on your health in the grand scheme of things. If you eat rice regularly like I do, switching to brown rice (or even converting to half white/half brown rice) can help you meet your daily fiber goals and help you control your portions.
Deciding on which yogurt to buy is so confusing! Generally, yogurt contains live and active cultures which is bacteria that supports a healthy gut which directly supports your immune system. Making fruit parfaits, dipping fruit into yogurt, putting them in smoothies, and replacing it for cream in recipes are great ways to incorporate more yogurt into your diet. But which one should you buy? There are a few things to consider. Take a look at my example below comparing Sunnyside Farms Non-Fat Lemon flavor yogurt to Fage Total Full-Fat Greek yogurt.
Yogurt fat is determined by the milk the yogurt was produced from. Non-fat yogurt was made from non-fat milk and full-fat yogurt was made from regular, full-fat milk. Full-fat yogurt is higher in calories and fat but tastes better, gives you more satisfaction, and keeps you fuller for a longer period of time. With low-fat or non-fat yogurts, you'll find calories and fat is lower, but companies tend to add sugar to it to make it taste better.
Yogurts naturally have about 8 grams of sugar. If you see more than 8 grams, definitely take a look at the ingredients! Most likely, the manufacturer added sugar to it. Notice in the table above, the non-fat Sunnyside Farms yogurt has a whopping 25 grams of sugar! It will definitely taste good, but it's better to buy plain yogurt and sweeten it yourself with fruits, berries, and granola.
You want to find a yogurt with minimal ingredients. Ideally, yogurt should only contain milk and cultures. As you can see, Fage contains only milk and cultures, but Sunnyside Farms has a long list of ingredients with sugar listed twice.
Next time you find yourself shopping for yogurt, get educated and turn the yogurt container around to see the nutrition label. Look for minimal ingredients and little to no added sugars.
Eggs provide us with a lot of protein and is low in calories, so it's a great choice when eating eggs as a protein in your meal or as an added protein source. You'll notice at the grocery store that there are a lot of different egg labels and gradings. What do they mean? Today, I'll discuss egg grades. In the future, I'll go over other labels like what cage-free and omega-3 eggs mean.
When shopping for eggs, you'll see cartons labelled with Grade AA and Grade A. Egg grading gives us an idea of the egg's quality to help us make the best decision for the kind of eggs we need. Grading of exterior/interior egg quality and for size and weight is voluntary and completed by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). If companies want their eggs graded, they will pay the USDA to grade for them. Once graded, you'll see the grade integrated into a USDA shield symbol. IF companies do not pay for this service, eggs will be monitored for quality by the state and will just be labeled as "Grade A."
Grade AA are the highest quality of eggs and the freshest ones you'll find in a grocery store. The yolk is firm, centered, and has a height, and the egg whites will be thick and won't spread too far from the yolk. Presentation-wise, Grade AA eggs are ideal for eggs needed for presentation such as sunny-side up eggs, eggs benedict, or making boiled eggs with perfectly centered egg yolks when cut in half. Per USDA, getting a carton of Grade AA eggs must contain at least 87% Grade AA eggs, meaning egg packers are allowed to fill 13% of the carton with Grades A or B eggs. So in a carton of a 12 Grade AA eggs, 1 or 2 eggs may be of a lower grade. In terms of appearance, shells of Grade AA eggs should be spotless, no blood spots, and free of dirt.
Grade A eggs are similar to Grade AA based on the exterior shell, but it's not as fresh, so the egg whites and yolks will be thinner, more watery, and will spread more. Grade A eggs will be a better option when preparing or using eggs for dishes where the appearance does not matter. It's good for baking and scrambling.
Grade B eggs are not sold in grocery stores, although they may be in some of your egg cartons since 13% of the eggs are allowed to be of a lesser grade and quality. They are the least fresh, may have defects on the shell (stains, spots, etc), the egg shape may be abnormal, the yolk and whites are watery and spreads out greatly, and are sold primarily to mass producers who need liquid and dried eggs.
Selecting Egg Grades
Now that you know the differences between the grades, think about what you are using your eggs for. If you're just cooking for yourself, making scrambled eggs, or needing eggs for baking, Grade A would be a great choice. If presentation matters in your cooking like if you're using it for food photography or making sunny-side up eggs or eggs benedict, go for Grade AA.
Making a green smoothie is an easy way to get fruits and vegetables into your body. If you want to learn about the power of greens, see my previous blog by clicking here. It's a quick fix when you're on the go, when you want something nutritious to drink on your way to work, when caring for yourself or others while they're sick, or when you just want to get rid of leftover greens and fruits.
Smoothie's Basic Ingredients
A typical green smoothie will contain the following ingredients for one smoothie serving:
It takes a few tries to find a smoothie you really love since everyone's taste buds are a bit different. So don't get discouraged! Here are some tips while you're experimenting to find a smoothie that matches you.
Beginner's Green Smoothie Recipe
If you're apprehensive about making/trying a green smoothie or just need a recipe to get started, here's a recipe from the Minimalist Baker I use often. You can definitely make it your own by using any alternatives you already have in your kitchen or leave out ingredients you absolutely dislike.
Nutrition Education: When Smoothies are Needed for Nourishment
Smoothies provide a quick and easy way to nourish our bodies. They're especially useful in the life cycle and for specific circumstances.
Jane the Dietitian
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Happy National Nutrition Month! It's an exciting month (especially for dietitians) since it's an opportunity to highlight the wonderful effects food has on our bodies. On that note, I want to focus on greens today such as spinach, kale, and chard.
Greens add a mean punch to your meal. Its dark, green color provides specific nutrients to your body. It gives us fiber to aid our digestive health, it's high in vitamin A which helps enhance your night vision, and contains cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Dark green leafy vegetables are also linked to slowing cognitive decline as you age.
Greens are easy and affordable to add to your daily meals. You can add them raw to salads, sandwiches, and wraps, throw them into your soup, add them to your morning smoothies, mix it in with your omelets or scrambled eggs, and it can be easily sautéed in a pan which makes a great veggie side dish. If you're on a time crunch or want to eliminate prep work, you can purchase pre-washed, pre-packaged greens at the grocery store.
How to Sauté Greens
I will be showing you how to sauté your greens today! In my video, I use spinach, but you can apply this method to other greens like kale and chard.
See the video below for a demo.
Jane Pelcher, RDN
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist focused on helping everyone love nutrition through cooking! My blogs provide new home cooks with basic cooking skills and grocery shopping tips. Most importantly, I strive to teach the nutrition behind the foods you cook to help you understand how specific foods can better your health and prevent chronic diseases. I hope you embark on this journey with me!