Fiber: The Real Deal vs. The Imposters

While, browsing the isles of the food store recently, I’ve come across numerous products touting ‘Great Source of Fiber’, however, many food companies are attempting to fool consumers such as you and I about the fiber in their products.


Start by taking a look at your favorite products, I’m sure you’ll be surprised to see a whole slew of ingredients such as modified food starch and other additives.  And what will you not see? Well, many of these products do Not list whole grains–therefore they’re serving up processed junk that has been stripped of its nutritional value and fiber content.  Many of my clients face stomach discomfort and GI problems, including myself, when these additives are consumed.

When reading the ingredient list on a food package, be sure to recognize fiber impostors such as inulin, modified starch, maltodextrin and polydextrose and understand that if the packing is touting ‘Fiberific” and these ingredients are listed…it’s time to put the product back on the shelf and reach for a whole grain product with ‘real’ fiber.

These fake fibers that I listed above do not provide us with the health benefits that we get from real fiber in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.  Be sure to watch out for fiber fortified products from brands such as Fiber One, Splenda, Post and General Mills cereals, crackers and desserts.

Be aware of the false advertising on packages of yogurts, cookies, ice creams, diet drinks and brownies.  These foods contain polydextrose, which I mentioned above and is synthesized from glucose and sorbitol, a low-calorie carbohydrate.  It’s one of the many new fiber imposters along with inulin and maltodextrin that is showing up in baked goods and dairy products that previously had very little or no fiber.  Sadly enough, the FDA  allows manufacturers to add polydextrose to more products than previously permitted, allowing food companies to entice consumers such as you and I to buy the ‘good tasting’ fiber foods.  These fiber additives serve two purposes-they can be used as bulking agents to make reduced-calorie foods taste yummy such as fat-free ice cream and pudding and they appeal to consumers by appearing on the Nutrition Facts as ‘dietary fiber’.  Don’t be fooled!

I encourage you to steer clear of these fiber impostors which make us believe that fiber ‘tastes good’ unlike the cardboard taste that many fiber rich products have.  Transitioning your family to increase their fiber content can be a struggle, however, do not let these processed foods become a part of your daily fiber intake.  Try to reach for fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes.  Make sure your fiber is coming from oat bran, whole wheat, beans, peas, prunes, almonds and other plans as these foods  naturally contain fiber.

As we all know from my previous post on Fiber, there are two forms.  Insoluble, which forms bulk and regulates acidity in your stomach and Soluble, which helps regulate cholesterol and blood sugar.

Insoluble is found in foods such as whole wheat products, quinoa, brown rice, bran, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds.

Soluble is found in foods such as oats, barley, rye, potatoes, fruits, veggies, dried fruits and legumes.

So, stick to the basics and don’t let your food get too complicated.  If grandma wouldn’t recognize it…put it back on the shelf and head to the perimeter of the food store where you will find fresh fruits and veggies with ‘Real Fiber’.

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Fresh Direct 20% Discount

Turn off the alarm clock and sleep in. Your weekly early morning dash to the Farmer’s Market for fresh salad greens and pasture-raised eggs has just ended. Beginning today, timed to the arrival of the summer’s bounty of fruits and vegetables, leading online grocer FreshDirect will double its local offerings to include more than 350 products during the peak season, from more than 30 farmers and suppliers within 300 miles of New York City.

“We’ve traveled locally to find small-scale producers and family-run businesses that offer the freshest, most delicious, highest-quality food direct from the farm.” said Monica Woo, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, FreshDirect. “At FreshDirect, our criteria for the local products are that they must not only be good for our customers, but also good for local farmers and good for our environment, too.”

FreshDirect’s fresh selection of local fruit, vegetables, dairy, cheese, grass-fed beef, seafood, bakery, and specialty products such as beer and wine can now be delivered to your door, many within 48 hours of being picked.


For FreshDirect, local means within 300 miles of FreshDirect and clear traceability of the products. On a daily basis, their trucks will pick-up seasonal products from farms out on Long Island, meaning you can have produce picked from the land and onto your table within 48 hours. Other products come from Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley, as well as cheese from Vermont.

FreshDirect believes in supporting local producers and cares about their community. All of the farms and purveyors have been visited by the FreshDirect team, where they have formed personal relationships. And whenever possible, FreshDirect places emphasis on small-batch or small-scale and family-owned and run companies.

Now you can get your pasture-raised eggs without waking up at the crack of dawn to get the goods at market. FreshDirect comes to you, on your time, offering everything and more than at the farmer’s market. Customers will be able to order hormone-free, antibiotic-free dairy from Ronnybrook Farm, Constant Bliss Cheese from Jasper Hill Farms, grass-fed beef from Hardwick Beef, Long Island wines, Ommegang beer, new offerings from FreshDirect favorite Satur Farms, fresh fruit pies hand-made locally by Breezy Hill Orchards, fresh Long Island seafood, packaged goods with locally-sourced ingredients, and when it’s time, local corn from Altobelli Farms.

New site features on the local page include an interactive map of all of the farms that lets you shop by proximity, as well as sweepstakes and discounts. And throughout the summer FreshDirect’s weekly newsletter ‘What’s Good’ will feature letters from the farmers themselves.


So, I wanted to share with all of you, my readers and fans FreshDirect’s impressive local expansion. They’ve doubled their local offerings and can now provide their customers with farm-to-table produce within 48 hours. www.freshdirect.com/local.

Because it’s seasonally dictated, gorgeous produce will be added throughout the summer… newly available on the site are local golden zucchini, rapini, yellow tomatoes, squash blossoms, black Tuscan kale, Satur Farms herbs (lemon thyme, chervil, chives, cilantro, mint), local cherries, and so much more. And by July 12th, FreshDirect will have delicious Long Island corn, plums, apricots, and fresh fruit pies from upstate NY.

Even more exciting news —  I’ve asked FreshDirect to provide a discount code as a special deal for your readers. The SUPPORTLOCAL code is good for 20% off their entire Local Market and is good all summer long. I hope you’ll post about FreshDirect’s renewed commitment to local farmers and producers.

You can use this link: http://twitpic.com/1ysh5l.

About FreshDirect

FreshDirect is one of the nation’s leading online food brands and grocery providers, known for its convenient home delivery service and the manufacture of fresh, delicious food. Changing the way customers shop for groceries since 2002, the company uses a direct distribution model with in-house, overnight production that cuts out the middleman and helps FreshDirect offer farm-fresh food at prices up to 20% lower than conventional grocery stores. Every product is 100% satisfactory guaranteed, every time.

Thanks to expert daily ratings, FreshDirect customers can easily shop for best of the season in produce and seafood. Only at FreshDirect, the online shopping experience is highly personalized with smart shopping features that help customers track their favorites, remember missed items, shop from previous orders and get recommendations on new foods they might like. FreshDirect has also teamed up with top New York City chefs and restaurants to bring customers quick, restaurant-quality prepared meals, unavailable anywhere else.

FreshDirect has fulfilled more than 11.6 million orders to date. Their ever-expanding service area includes most of Manhattan, locations in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx, as well as parts of New Jersey, Connecticut, Westchester and Nassau County.

For more information, visit www.freshdirect.com.

In The News…

Bringing Clarity to ‘Natural’ Claims

A & P Launches Produce Loyalty Program

Too Much Sugar in Toddler Foods

Keep Hydrated in the Summer Heat

FDA Seeks Less Use of Antibiotics in Animals

Going Gluten-Free is A Growing Trend

Foods To Avoid On a Gluten-Free Diet


Gluten, the gluey protein found in wheat and grains can be a challenge to eradicate from your diet.  There’s a reason wheat is used in wallpaper paste and adhesives; it sticks to just about anything.  Whether you have celiac, gluten-intolerance or simply want to cut down on your gluten consumption, eliminating the omnipresent ingredient takes some time and patience.  But with a little dedication, your gluten-free lifestyle will soon become second nature.  With the tips provided below, you’ll be able to weed through the myriad of products and fill your pantry with gluten-free goodies.

Gluten-Free vs. Wheat-Free

Carefully reading food labels is a must; thousands of products claim to be ‘wheat free,’ however they contain gluten.  Many foods you may not think of contain gluten and the smallest amount can cause problems and trigger your immune system.  Unless the package specifically says ‘gluten-free’ and the ingredients are truly free of gluten and wheat, do not chance it. Basically, don’t consume ingredients you cannot pronounce.

Avoid the Culprit in your Man Meal

Sadly, doughnuts, croissants and bagels are out.  Not to mention pizza, pasta and warm chocolate chip cookies.  No more birthday cake?  Don’t fret.  The obvious: cereal, pasta and bread (unless noted gluten-free) should be avoided, as well as all forms of wheat and grains including rye, oats, barley, kamut and spelt. Carefully read the ingredients in soups, bouillon and blue cheese, which may contain wheat.  Furthermore, matzo flour, chicken nuggets, meat balls, baked beans, pates, self basting turkeys, crab cakes and processed meats may contain gluten. Vegetarian meals often contain gluten; steer clear of seitan and review ingredients for soy-based veggie burgers. Although vegetables are gluten-free in their natural state, when mixed in sauces or fried, gluten may be present.

Watch your Condiments

Gluten contamination is hidden everywhere.  Sharing condiments should be avoided; purchase your own and separate with a labeling system.  Beware of gravy and sauces that use flour as a thickening agent. Chutneys and pickles, white pepper, brown rice syrup, dressings and spices may contain traces of gluten and should be avoided.  The same goes for your everyday condiments such as mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise. Surprisingly, even your tasty potato chips may contain gluten.

Double Check your Beverages

Be cautious with blended and herbal teas as the flavors may be derived from gluten grains. Cocoa, tomato juice, pre-made shakes, root bear, syrups and instant coffee can also contain trace amounts of gluten.  Several non-dairy milk products contain the hidden ingredient due to the barley used in processing the natural flavor.

At happy hour, it’s best to avoid beer.  When it comes to cocktails and spirits, steer clear of flavorings, mixes and malt. Potato vodkas, distilled whisky, unflavored rums and tequilas are naturally gluten-free. You’re usually in the clear with wines, however many wineries use old oak barrels sealed with food grade paste.

Beware of Extras

Many products often get overlooked when it comes to gluten.  Survey the ingredients in your gum, peanut butter, chocolate and energy bars.  Don’t forget to check the fine print on your vitamins, medications, and cosmetics, mouthwash, and toothpaste; the culprit could be lurking in any of these.

Gluten-Free Food Shopping

For a quick and painless shopping experience, it’s always best to come up with a strategy. Before heading out the door, compile a grocery list that can be used for future trips. Remember to double check the product is in fact gluten-free—you’d be surprised at how many brands make false advertising claims. Call the company if you’re unsure and be diligent about reading labels. Ingredients can change and you don’t want to be caught with gluten in your basket.

Be sure to check out my newest StyleCaster article,

Smarter Snacking: 5  Healthy Recipes To Beat That 3 PM Slump.”

Banish the Bloat

We’ve all had those days when we just can’t seem to banish the bloat in our stomach areas…here are a few culprits that may be causing your bloated belly…follow these tips and see how you feel.  Many of my clients swear they instantly feel better within a few days after tweaking a few of their daily rituals.

Forgo the Gum

When we chew gum, we swallow air, which can be trapped in our GI tracts and result in an uncomfortable bloated belly.

Ditch the Salt Shaker

High sodium foods such as processed, packaged goods, condiments and many restaurant meals can leave you bloated and uncomfortable, especially if they ‘slip’ MSG in the ingredient list.

Bloater Veggies

We all know broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are sure gas creators, therefore steer clear of these gas guzzlers and your intestinal tract will thank you.


Reach for Potassium

Foods rich in potassium such as strawberries and bananas counterbalance the sodium in your system and will leave you feeling less bloated and ‘puffy’.


The Bloat Culprits:

  • Alcohol
  • Soy Sauce
  • Canned Soups
  • Popcorn
  • Dried Fruit

The Bloat Busters:

  • Blueberries
  • Asparagus
  • Salmon
  • Watermelon
  • Citrus Fruits

Are there certain foods and beverages that seem to leave you feeling bloated?


If Your Fridge Could Talk…What Would It Say?

Seriously…think about it…would it yell at you and punish you for filling it with packaged, processed junk…would it scold you for bringing home leftover cheesecake from dessert or last nights Chinese take-out?

Or, would it hug you and thank you for taking such good care of it and filling it with fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins such as Greek yogurt, lean meats such as chicken, turkey and tofu and naturally sweetened beverages such as homemade lemonade and steeped iced green tea.

Each week, day, month (depending on your schedule and how often you eat at home) we stock our refrigerator, hopefully with a measure of self control and healthy, ‘clean’ foods.  To maintain a healthy lifestyle, stocking the fridge with healthy fare is the first step to promote good eating habits for you and your family.


  • Don’t Buy It…And You Won’t Eat It- It’s much easier to avoid the potato chips if they’re not staring you in the face.  Steer clear of the inner aisles of the food store and prepare your grocery list before you head to the store on a full stomach as we all know what happens when hunger strikes in the food aisles-we end up purchasing bad foods that veer off from our grocery list.
  • Make Your Fridge Look Pretty-Take the time to place each food group in a separate compartment to create an aesthetic appeal.  Store fruits and veggies at eye level for easy reach; use the bins for bottled waters or meats.  Be sure to keep salsa, hummus, yogurt and guacamole near your fruits and veggies for an easy go-to snack before you head upstairs in the freezer for the ice cream.
  • Buy It, Chop It, Store It-As soon as you get home from the food store, start slicin’ and dicin’.  Store fruits and veggies in Ziploc bags and Tupperware containers so ensure freshness.  Divide portions into individual bags/containers to avoid overeating and make it easy to grab when you’re on the run.  This way, when hunger strikes, you can simply reach for the carrots and hummus without thinking about cleaning, chopping and prepping!
  • Freeze ‘Em-I love frozen fruits.  Simply pop a banana or grapes into the freezer for a cool, refreshing treat that pairs well in smoothies or eaten alone with a dip of dark chocolate.
  • Store Safely-What do you indulge in? Dark chocolate? Nut Butters? Whatever it may be, keep it to a minimum and only purchase one variety at at time, this way you are not tempted to try each one when your cravings strike.  Store these indulgences out of eye sight so that it’s not an easy go-to snack and requires a bit of thinking before you reach for it.

Keep your fridge as your friend, not your foe and stock it with healthy fare.  Here’s a peak at what I stock in my fridge and freezer.

What are the staple items always stocked in your fridge?


I was featured in SmartBrief today!

Check out my gluten-free, dairy-free Buckwheat Cashew Puddin’

And Now For…In The News (Lots of News) This Week:

Wheat Grass…The New, Hot Health Trend

Experts Warn Against Dieting

Yogurt Branches Out

Crash Dieting Wrecks Your Health

Dining Out? Plan Ahead

The Over-Rated Calorie

It’s Always Right Time To Eat Right

Home Ec’s Modern Makeover

Health Foods Stores Offer Bad Information

Sports Injuries Stem From a Bad Diet

Adding Farmer’s Markets to the Cleveland Clinic

Elementary Chef Takes Lessons to the White House

5 Reasons Your ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ Isn’t Working

Ever find yourself wondering, “Why”?  “Why am I not feeling my best?” “Why am I not maintaining a healthy weight?”  Well, many of my clients have asked these questions and I thought it would be useful to share them with you.

1. You Eat a Small Breakfast

Your first meal of the day is the most important. Instead of rolling out of bed with a cup of java, opt for a well-rounded breakfast around 500 calories. A breakfast comprised of a scrambled egg, two slices of whole grain toast with nut butter, a small glass of OJ and a cup of fresh fruit fits the bill. If this sounds like too much food to you, spread it out throughout your morning. Have your egg and toast at home and save your fresh fruit for when you arrive at the office.

2. You Skip Meals

We’ve all heard the “I’m too busy to eat” complaint, but you’re only doing damage to your body and metabolism by skipping meals. Stretching too much time in between meals can easily cause you to overeat later in the day with less healthy options. Try to go no longer than four hours without having something to hold you over. Opt for trail mix, apples with nut butter, whole grain crackers with string cheese or air-popped popcorn sprinkled with chili powder.

3. You’re on a Superfood Craze

Just because it’s called a ‘Superfood’ doesn’t mean you can eat endless amounts. Even good-for-you items such as dried fruits, avocado and nuts can wreak havoc to your diet if you go overboard on the portion sizes. Be mindful when eating these foods and be sure to portion out single-servings into Ziploc bags or Tupperware for easy use. Eyeball or measure out your salad dressings, nuts, nut butters, oils and dried fruits to ensure you aren’t overdoing it.

4. You Don’t Watch Your Eats Saturday and Sunday

Weekdays tend to be scheduled and organized, therefore many of my clients have their structured meals mapped out for them, however, once the weekend hits-it’s downhill until Monday morning. Make a game plan that allows you to enjoy your weekends without over indulging. Plan ahead your meals and read the menus before getting to the restaurant when eating out. Plan where you want to save and spend your calories throughout the week, instead of simply Monday thru Friday. Don’t avoid your favorite indulgences, instead plan ahead and if you know Aunt Rosie’s going to be making her famous cheesecake, plan to have a sliver and maybe take a walk afterwards or curb your sweets intake for the rest of the day.

5. You Cancel Out Your Workouts

Just because you ran two miles on the treadmill doesn’t mean you can scarf down 2 pieces of pizza and a soda with fries. Many of us rationalize, “I just exercised, now I can splurge,” however, that’s not the answer. If you think you’ve earned a treat or snack after your work-out be sure to reach for healthy fare with lean proteins such as a Greek yogurt, beans and hummus. Pair these with vegetables and fruits for an easy and quick go-to snack that won’t cause damage to your diet.

What are your “Why” questions?

What to Eat?

That is the question, isn’t it?  We’re constantly told what to eat, how to eat and when to eat via television, the internet, books, magazines, friends, colleagues, doctors…the list is endless…One thing’s for sure, we must nourish our bodies with full-sized, flavorful meals and real breakfasts (no breakfast skippers).  I preach to my clients to eat wholesome, pure, real, ‘clean’ food as close to its natural source as possible.  My #1 rule: Don’t cut out fats, carbs, oils or chocolate.


Breakfast

From egg omelets to smoothies to oats, no one should run away from carbs at the start of the day.  Enjoy a hearty bowl of mixed cooked whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa or millet tossed with nuts, fresh fruit and dates.  Or perhaps you’d enjoy an omega 3 egg over easy on dark, whole-kernel rye toast with a fresh tomato, chives and a dollop of Greek yogurt.  Many of my clients prefer a morning smoothie, especially during these warm months and when they are in a time crunch and need to eat on-the-go.  A protein shake with rice protein powder, frozen cherries, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp milk can satisfy anyone’s morning meal and hold you over until lunchtime.  I enjoy herbed-egg scrambles with avocado, a side of steel-cut oats made with almond milk and agave nectar and a side of fresh in season fruit.

Lunch

Look beyond the PB & J and jazz up your brown paper bag to ‘wow’ your coworkers…whip up an almond butter sandwich on whole-grain bread with a whole-fruit spread and a sprinkle of ground flax seeds.  Toss together a salad with canned salmon, tuna or sardines; combine them with canned artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, veggies and a whole grain such as quinoa.  Many of my clients enjoy grilling tofu, chicken or salmon the night before and packing that atop a bed of mixed greens with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for their lunch the next day.  My lunches are quite similar every day; I usually have a load of veggies such as broccoli, asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, onions and carrots along with fish, such as wild Alaskan salmon, however I often opt for halibut, cod, mahi mahi or sardines, as they are equally as delicious.

Dinner

Grilled lean proteins such as fish, tofu, tempeh, turkey, chicken or pork loin are delicious options to ‘encrust’ with homemade bread crumbs (or gluten-free cereal, pretzels, crackers, etc. mashed) along with olive oil, then broiled in the oven.  This can be served with a vast array of vegetables depending on the time of year…perhaps acorn squash in the fall, eggplant in the winter and summer squash in the spring.  I always have at least three different vegetables with my dinner.  For instance, last night I had halibut with Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe and asparagus with grilled tomatoes, a drizzle of fresh lemon and balsamic vinegar and a few of my gluten-free homemade pitas with my homemade chickpea hummus.   I’m also a huge fan of shrimp and all seafood, therefore I never turn down the shrimp or fresh fish at the market; I often serve these with a stir-fry medley.  I liven up every dish with many spices such as cayenne, chili powder, cinnamon, basil, garlic, rosemary and cilantro.  My starches consist primarily of beans, squash and gluten-free grains.  And, let’s just say I never, ever, ever turn down a veggie! I eat unlimited vegetables everyday and never get bored with them because it’s easy to create a new spin on every veggie.  For instance, try broccoli one night baked in the oven with garlic and olive oil, then stir-fried with tamari the next night and steamed with fresh lemon the following evening…keep your taste buds guessing and veggies will never get dull!

Dining Out

Many of my clients stress out about restaurants, holidays, BBQ’s, happy hour, celebrations and any meal created by someone other than themselves.  But, in this day n’ age, our busy lifestyles don’t allow us to make homemade meals every night, therefore we must learn to eat smart when dining out.  The trick is to eat foods that you’d normally eat at home such as grilled fish, lean meats, salads and extra veggies.  For Seafood, I opt for a lobster or shrimp cocktail, poached fish and two sides of vegetables.  /For Italian, I opt for grilled veggies, chicken and a gluten-free grain or pasta.  I also love turkey, chicken, bison or fish burgers as well as fish, turkey or chicken tacos with pico de gio, salsa, guacamole, extra veggies and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  The goal is to be flexible and not just eat ‘brown rice, steamed veggies and tempeh’…branch out and adapt to the surroundings of the restaurant; leave room for some recreational eating as you want your dining out experience to be pleasant, healthy and enjoyable.

Go Ahead and Indulge

We all snack; from almonds, cashes, walnuts, grapes, cheese, fruits and veggies or perhaps dark chocolate, raw cacao, homemade banana Greek yogurt ice cream, air-popped popcorn, healthy whole grain nachos with nutritional yeast ‘cheese’, high-fiber gluten-free scones and cookies.

The goal is to listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel after each meal and snack.  Be aware of hidden sugars and sodium that lurk in many processed foods.  Once I came to understand how foods affect us and why we eat the way we do, I started to feel so much better, especially after I learned that I was gluten and dairy-intolerant as my dairy-free and gluten-free lifestyle is nutritious, healthy, delicious and doesn’t lead to cravings for foods that will make me feel bad.