A First Step to Diversify the Certification Program’s Testing Portfolio

Two years ago the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) published a notice in the Federal Register (and accompanying blog post) that restated the ONC Health IT Certification Program’s (Program’s) open policy regarding the submission of testing methods for approval under the Program. We called and the National Committee for Quality […]

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3 Ways to Be Confident in Your Food Choices

According to the 12th Annual Food and Health Survey released by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC), 78-percent of Americans encounter a lot of conflicting info about what to eat and what foods to avoid. More than 50-percent of those polled say that this conflicting info makes them doubt their food choices. Here are 5 ways you can be confident in the food decisions you make.

Stop Making Assumptions

The survey also found that many consumers are making incorrect assumptions about certain foods, including fresh verses frozen and canned. Consumers are almost five times as likely to believe a fresh product is healthier than canned and four times as likely to believe a fresh product is healthier than frozen.

Take fresh fruits and vegetables, for example. They’re a healthy part of a well-balanced diet, but canned and frozen are just as healthy. Some studies say that they may even be healthier because canned and frozen produce are packed at their peak of ripeness.

You can feel confident when you buy fresh produce, but also be aware that canned and frozen are just as good for you. The only thing you want to pay attention to is that no butter or cream sauce was added to frozen veggies or sugar to frozen fruit, and that the sodium is low is canned food (or rinse it off before eating).

Feel Good About Your Choices

The survey found that 56-percent of women care about food being produced in a sustainable way, verses 42-percent of men. I myself am “pro-choice,” meaning you should be proud of whatever food choices you make, whether that means local,  organic or conventional. Nobody can dictate if you should choose organic, or grass-fed, or GMO-free. Everyone has their own reasons for purchasing certain foods. What you do what to make sure is that you’re choosing healthy foods including fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats.

Look for Credentials

Most folks rely heavily on information from their friends and family, including nutrition information. About 77-percent of survey participants said they rely on friends and family at least a little for this type of information. The survey also found that 59-percent of participants rated friends and family as their top influencers for what they choose to eat or the diet they choose to follow.

To get reputable information, seek the recommendations of a credentialed individual. Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) have been specially trained in food and nutrition. You may also find someone who has a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics, or a diet technician (DTR)- all who can provide science-based information and recommendations.

 

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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Trusted Content from Healthfinder.gov Can Improve Patient Portals

The ONC Patient Engagement (PE) Playbook was created by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to help healthcare professionals use health information technology (health IT) to provide better care to patients. The PE Playbook focuses specifically on electronic health record (EHR) patient portals, which allow both patients and healthcare teams, […]

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 Trend Alert: the Urban Farm-to-Table Movement

Vertical aeroponic gardening at Tower Gardens.

 

Farms aren’t just in the country anymore. Rooftop gardens supply dozens of Chicago restaurants with just-picked veggies. In the lobby of Vin de Set restaurant in St. Louis, diners are greeted by tall white towers growing kale for salads that night. At New York’s Bell Book & Candle, the menu is set by herbs like chervil, Opal basil and sage, all grown several stories above the dining room. Today, chefs and consumers are tasting veggies picked mere hours beforehand from restaurant rooftops, and from the abandoned parking lot turned urban farm next door.

 

Aeroponic Farming

Jeff Seibel’s official title is Farm Manager, but his unofficial title is “Urban Farmer” in St. Louis. He oversees a commercial greenhouse that supplies all of the Bibb lettuce, Romaine, kale, arugula, kohlrabi, fennel, mustard and other greens for five Hamilton Hospitality restaurants. From March to December, restaurant owners Paul and Wendy Hamilton do not order a single green leaf for their growing restaurants. “We’ve even switched up our menus to add more greens to our dishes, including green-topped pizzas, braised greens pastas and creative salads. It’s a good dilemma, to have so much just-picked produce,” said Wendy.

To make the most of crowded city spaces, Seibel grows produce for the Hamilton’s restaurants in white vertical Tower Gardens. Last year over 10,000 pounds of produce was grown in just a ¼ acre plot of land. The Tower system is known as aeroponic farming and according to some calculations, farmers can grow 30% more food up to three times faster than traditional farming methods, using 98% less water and 90% less space.

 

Hydroponic Gardens

In New York City, students at the Food and Finance High School (FFHS) in collaboration with NYC Cornell University Coop Extension (CUCE) tend hydroponic gardens —soil-free plots that grow plants in nutrient-rich water. Students learn that the liquid nutrient solution requirements needed for young plants is different from that needed for mature plants, and that a controlled environment is needed to produce healthy vegetables and herbs.

Once harvested, produce like kale and Chinese cabbages are prepared by students in the school’s cafeteria, and in the culinary arts and catering programs. “Graduates of our programs are skilled in every aspect of growing plants hydroponically to marketing the mature vegetables in retail settings,” explains Professor Philson Warner, Founding Director of CUCE Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics, Sustainable Agriculture Applied Research Teaching Labs.

 

Rooftop gardens

Over 10 million heads of leafy greens and herbs are grown year-round on the south side of Chicago at the Gotham Greens 75,000 square foot rooftop farm. It claims to be the world’s largest and most productive greenhouse. Not only can chefs get bok choy and Windy City Crunch lettuce blend, but consumers can find these greens at their local Jewel supermarket. Gotham Greens also partners with the Greater Chicago Food Depository food bank.

Baseball fans seated on the third base side of Fenway Park in Boston can view the Fenway Farms garden from which the kale on their Kale Caesar was harvested. Tomatoes, peppers, Brussels sprouts and other veggies grown in the rooftop garden are served at Red Sox EMC Club restaurant, for special events, and in concession stand favorites.

 

Tips for Finding Urban Farms in your City

Keep your eyes peeled for greens grown right in your own city above restaurants, at schools, in stadiums. Or search online for: urban farm, hydroponic, rooftop garden. Here are a few specific examples:

 

Colleges

University of Southern California

Lindsey Pine, a Registered Dietitian at USC Hospitality, notes: “Students may see the lettuce they will have for lunch as they walk to class.” With 88 Tower Gardens, there’s a good chance if you eat at a restaurant, catered event, or dining hall on campus, you’re eating greens that are only a few hours old.

Bowdoin University

Even in Maine’s short growing season, vegetables, fruits and herbs from the Bowdoin Organic Garden are served in the school’s cafeteria.

 

Community Programs

Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture

This organization in Columbia, Missouri, is like gardening training wheels. Chefs, pharmacists and wannabe home gardeners can learn skills in gardens around the city.

Little Free Garden Project

In Moorhead, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota, you and your neighbors can share the fun of gardening together.

 

Supermarkets and Farmers Markets

Gotham Greens

Originating in New York City, their greens are in hundreds of NYC restaurants and at grocery stores around New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Rising Pheasant Farms

Farmers market shoppers in Detroit can pick up asparagus, sage and sunflower shoots grown on the East Side.

 

Serena Ball, MS, RD is a food writer and registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com sharing tips and tricks to help families find healthy living shortcuts. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and Snapchat.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

Photo courtesy of Tower Gardens

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One if by Land, Two if by API

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has updated the Certified Health IT Product List’s (CHPL) landing page. The update includes several enhancements making it easier to access data about 2014 Edition and 2015 Edition certified health IT products. Below the main search box, we have added (and will continue to […]

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The 6 Nutrients Vegetarians and Vegan Diets May Be Missing

Incorporating more meatless meals into your diet is a great way to boost health. Research shows that eating more plant-based foods and less animal products can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers. However, whether you choose to eat this way part-time or all of the time, there are a few nutrients that need more planning to ensure you are getting enough. Luckily, there many whole food sources, fortified foods, and supplements to ensure you are meeting the daily nutrient requirements. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, or plan on switching any time soon, be mindful of these 6 nutrients.

 

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B12, found primarily in animal products, is needed for production of DNA and maintaining nerve cells. A deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia and nerve damage, among other problems. Therefore, a reliable source of B-12 is essential, especially for vegans, in order to prevent deficiency. Since fortified foods vary greatly in the amount of B12 they supply, a daily supplement is recommended instead.

 

Calcium

Calcium needs can be easily met without animal products since calcium-rich foods are found in all food groups. Vegan sources include leafy greens, calcium-set tofu, soybeans, tempeh, dried figs, almonds, tahini, broccoli and chickpeas, as well as fortified foods.

 

Vitamin D

Also known as the sunshine vitamin, this is one nutrient that we don’t need to obtain directly from our diets during summer months. When the sun’s UV-B rays hit the skin, a reaction takes place that triggers skin cells to manufacture vitamin D. You don’t need much, as fair-skinned individuals can produce up to 10,000 IU’s of the vitamin with just 10 minutes of exposure. However, depending on your skin tone, where you live and the time of year, this amount can be harder to obtain directly from sunlight. Plant-based sources of vitamin D include fortified plant-based milks, tofu, some mushrooms, fortified breakfast cereals and orange juice with calcium.

 

Iron

Iron is found in two forms, heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron, found predominately in meat, poultry, and fish, is well absorbed. Non-heme iron, found in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts is less well absorbed. As plant-based diets only contain non-heme iron, vegans especially should include foods that are high in iron and include techniques that can promote iron absorption. These include sprouting, soaking, and fermenting as well as including a Vitamin-C rich food source. Plant-based sources of iron include chickpeas, lentils, tofu, whole and enriched grain products, raisins, figs, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds and broccoli.

 

Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids provide the building blocks for the brain, nervous system, and cell membranes. Vegetarians and vegan may have difficulty balancing the amount of essential fatty acids and intake of omega-3 fats. Unlike omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are less common in food, making it easy to be deficient in this important nutrient. Good sources of omega-3 ALA’s are found flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, leafy greens, soybeans, and wheat germ. If these are not included regularly, supplementing with an algae-derived DHA/EPA supplement is encouraged.

 

Zinc

The main sources of zinc in the diet are usually animal products, followed by fortified cereals. However, many plant foods do contain zinc. Being mindful of incorporating these foods into your diet is important, especially since phytates in plant-foods can inhibit some of their absorption. However, the effects of phytates can be lowered through fermentation, soaking, and boiling root vegetables. Good sources of zinc include tofu, tempeh, pumpkin, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, oatmeal, tahini and cashews.

 

Alex Caspero MA, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She is the founder of Delish Knowledge (delishknowledge.com), a resource for healthy, whole-food vegetarian recipes. In her private coaching practice, she helps individuals find their “Happy Weight.” 

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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Coming to ONC – One Informaticist’s Journey

EMRs, EHRs, and Medical Computing These are exciting times for the software industry, with extraordinary new products and services on devices from phones and tablets to their backend enterprise servers. We need this dynamism in software development to provide increased interoperability and usability to patients and clinicians. Clinicians and patients are aware that, while electronic […]

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