Building a Better Burger with Chefs Gabi & Greg Denton

Chefs Gabi Quiñónez Denton and Greg Denton at the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project™ kickoff event at the James Beard House

 

What’s the secret to building a better burger? If you ask the James Beard Foundation and Chefs Greg Denton and Gabi Quiñónez Denton, it’s using less meat.

The Dentons — the husband and wife chef team behind Portland, Oregon’s Ox and Superbite, and recent winners of the James Beard award for Best Chef Northwest — teamed with the JBF to kick off the 2017 Blended Burger Project. The eco-minded movement challenges chefs all over the country to blend finely chopped mushrooms into the meat in their burger mix to create a more nutritious and sustainable burger.

Starting today through July 31st, chefs across the country will be serving up their own versions of a blended burger. (Click here to find one near you: hundreds of chefs from 40-some states are participating — from old-school diners and fine-dining restaurants alike. Try as many as you can this summer, then vote for your favorite!) The rules are simple: chefs can use any type of meat and mushrooms they choose, but the patties must contain 25-50% ‘shrooms.

So why mushrooms, anyway? “One, it creates a healthier burger,” says Eric Davis with the Mushroom Council. “Mushrooms are very nutrient-dense and are a good source of B vitamins. Plus, you’re cutting down the fat and sodium by using less meat,” says Davis. “The second reason is the taste — mushrooms have that great umami flavor, and they make a burger so juicy. Lastly, there’s the sustainability aspect since mushrooms have a much lower carbon footprint than meat.”

The Dentons’ blended burger in the garden of the James Beard House

 

Healthy Eats talked to the Dentons to learn more about their mushroom-blended burger creation, and to hit the duo up for their tips on eating healthfully and sustainably.

 

Healthy Eats: Tell me about the “blended burger” you made today, which will also be on the menu at Superbite this summer.

Greg & Gabi Denton: We use diced beef shoulder and dehydrated shiitake mushrooms, which get rehydrated when they’re ground into the burger. That makes up the patties. Grinding the mushrooms into the mix gives it a nice savory quality, and it means they won’t slip off the burger like they would if they were sautéed mushrooms sitting on top of the patties.

We do two patties — one with fontina cheese and one with yellow Cheddar — and they get topped with pickles, minced onions and shredded lettuce. Then we do a griddled homemade brioche bun covered with sesame seeds and our homemade “fancy sauce.” It’s huge! And tall. It’s our memories of our childhood-favorite burger, mixed with our more contemporary style.

 

Do you have other favorite “meat minimal” dishes for which you swap some or all of the traditional protein for plant-based foods?

My go-to is legumes. I love using beans or lentils to extend a protein and make a meat-based dish more healthful. When it comes to making tuna salad we’ll buy a little jar of high-quality Spanish tuna packed in olive oil, and extend it with some lentils or white beans.

We’re also huge proponents of taking dishes that usually call for meat and using a vegetable in its place. Today we’re serving a tostada with shredded king trumpet mushrooms that we braised with smoked guajillo chiles that have a braised chicken quality to them.

At Superbite, we also do a Nashville Fried Hot Cauliflower instead of fried chicken, and a chorizo made from eggplant. We focus on that side of sustainability and health, and work to pull the “meatiness” out of vegetables.

 

Your cookbook Around the Fire, co-written with Stacy Adimando, is chock-full of gorgeous dishes cooked over open flames. What are some of your favorite veggies to throw on the grill?

Everyone has their favorite summertime veggies that may seem best suited to the grill. But we also love working with winter vegetables like squash, cauliflower, artichokes, even broccoli that you don’t normally think of as grill-friendly. If you straight grill them, they tend to get tough and their fibrous qualities come out. But if you par-cook a veggie and then finish it on the grill, then you get a tender smoky, woody quality on the outside, but it’s still tender on the inside.

In the springtime, there are so many great vegetables like snap peas, snow peas, fava beans, padrón peppers and varieties of small peppers that cook up so quickly and beautifully blistered on the grill. If you don’t have a grill basket, just put an extra grill grate or rack from your oven on top of your grill grate at a 90-degree angle to create a grid, and those small veggies won’t fall through.

We also love throwing greens like escarole, radicchio and romaine on the grates or ashes. There’s not much that we don’t throw on the grill!

 

 

Do you have any tips we at home can borrow for using up leftovers and wasting less food?

First, make a game plan for your leftovers. Plan to add an egg to last night’s dinner to make breakfast, or use that extra carton of rice to make fried rice. Just don’t let it sit in your fridge.

Also, we do cream-based soups with mushrooms or asparagus scraps. If you have a blender and a fine-mesh strainer, you can pretty much anything into a cream soup. Butter, garlic and onion as a base will make almost anything delicious.

And stock up on those versatile foods that you can put almost anything in, like eggs, potatoes, rice and tortillas so it’s easy to cook them up with leftovers. We “taco” everything!

 

What do you cook at home to stay healthy?

For us, it’s important to have healthy snacks at home. Two of our go-tos are lettuce wraps with cold cuts, and nori with avocado, gochujang and toasted sesame seeds.

For breakfast, we’ll make a big pot of oatmeal seasoned really simply, and then we’ll pack the leftovers in a Tupperware. The next day we’ll pop it out and cut it into slices, and griddle them in olive oil until they’re golden brown. They’re crunchy and delicious on the outside, but still creamy and tender on the inside. Then we top them with whatever we have on hand: berries and a little cinnamon, fried eggs, sautéed spinach, chicken sausage, tomato sauce…a leftover braise. Sweet or savory, it’s totally up for interpretation.

 

Visit the James Beard Foundation to find a list of chefs around the country taking part in the Blended Burger Project, and to vote for your favorite.

 

Photos by Ken Goodman

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Announcing the Winners of the Move Health Data Forward Challenge

On May 9, 2016, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced the Move Health Data Forward Challenge to promote innovation in the area of consumer-mediated exchange. We challenged the health information technology industry to help find new technological ways to put consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to […]

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5 Foods to Help Your Respiratory Health

Did you know that what you eat can benefit how your lungs function, and how well you can breathe? Give these five foods a try for improved respiratory health.

 

Pears

Eating more fresh fruit like pears may decrease production of phlegm, found a Scottish study in the European Respiratory Journal. In the study, adults regularly eating fresh fruit had a 30 to 40 percent reduced prevalence of phlegm for three or more months per year and in the morning in winter. “Pears are portable and can easily be found nationwide,” says Shaw. “Not only are they bursting with fiber, which helps keep you fuller for longer, they’ve also got vitamin C, an important antioxidant that can boost your immunity.” Pair pears with almond butter, or add thin slices to a grilled cheese sandwich.

 

Matcha

This green tea boasts caffeine, which may improve lung function in people with asthma for up to four hours, per a Cochrane review study. “Matcha green tea also offers a healthy boost of polyphenols and L-theanine, which may help keep you focused and calm while also alert,” says Maggie Moon, MS, RDN, author of The MIND Diet.  

 

Sweet Potatoes

Here’s a veggie that tops the charts for vitamin A and is also an excellent source of vitamin C. “These two antioxidants protect against oxidative stress and inflammation in people with asthma,” says Moon. She suggests topping a baked sweet potato with toasted almonds, which are vitamin E superstars.

 

Black Cumin

This spice may fight inflammation and help lower resistance in the respiratory airway — potentially helping get more air to the lungs. People with partially controlled asthma who supplemented with black cumin saw improvements in both inflammation and pulmonary function, per a small study in Annals of Saudi Medicine.

 

Fish

Eating fish like salmon and sardines may help your respiratory health: Kids who ate less fish were more likely to report poor respiratory health, especially more coughing and wheezing, in a European study. It’s possible that the omega-3s in fish may provide protective respiratory benefits. Grill salmon with veggies, or add sardines to a Greek salad.

 

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

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

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What Vegetarian Dietitians Eat at Fast-Food Restaurants  

As a dietitian and longtime vegetarian, I find that people are often surprised to hear that I do sometimes eat fast food. But these days, there are some tasty, balanced vegetarian options at restaurants like Subway, Chipotle, and Panera. Here are some of my healthy favorites, and picks from fellow vegetarian and vegan dietitians.

 

Subway: Veggie Delite Salad + Egg Patty

This is my off-the-menu go-to: I top a Veggie Delite Salad with an egg patty. I request a base of spinach and add a ton of veggies: tomatoes, green bell peppers, red onion, cucumber, banana peppers, and jalapenos. I top the salad with sprinkling of shredded cheese, as well as dried oregano and red wine vinegar. I love that Subway sells apple slices, so I’ll usually grab a baggie of those, as well.

 

Taco Bell: Fresco Bean Burrito

“I’ve been eating this for years on road trips,” says Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, blogger at Whole Green Wellness. “Fresco means replacing the sour cream and cheese with pico de gallo.” You can also add extra veggies — like lettuce, tomatoes, and jalapenos — for a little bit extra.

 

McDonald’s: Fruit & Maple Oatmeal

McD’s now serves breakfast all day, which means you can pick up this vegetarian oatmeal anytime. “It’s easy to go overboard on sodium if you choose the breakfast sandwich route,” says Meredith Harper, MS, RDN, owner of MeredithRD.com. “Many contain at least half the daily recommended limit, but this oatmeal has only 140 milligrams of sodium.” Order it with a slight modification: “I recommend choosing to get it without the brown sugar — it’s sweet enough as is,” says Harper.

 

Chipotle: Burrito Bowl

Load up a customized bowl with veggies, as does Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, owner of ChampagneNutrition.com. “I get every type of veggie Chipotle offers, including fajita veggies and all types of salsa,” says Hultin, who requests both pinto and black beans. Note for vegans: The Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette contains honey, so opt instead for guacamole as a topper.

 

Panera: Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa

This is a favorite of Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, owner of NutritionalaNatalie.com. “The salad has 510 calories and11 grams of protein, and it’s a heart, filling, and tasty lunch,” says Rizzo. “I usually opt for an apple as my side to keep the calories to a minimum and increase my fiber intake.” You can also order a half portion and pair it with cup of soup or a half sandwich.

 

Panda Express: Eggplant Tofu

“It’s so hard to find vegetables in fast-food choices, so this dish is great,” says Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of Plant-Powered for Life. Veggies add filling fiber, and this dish is a good source. Palmer suggests pairing it with steamed brown rice for additional fiber.

 

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

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

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Should You Take a Collagen Supplement? 

Some are claiming that they’ve found the fountain of youth, and it’s in a bottle at your local vitamin shop. Collagen is the newest supplement fad to hit the market, and many are adopting this new craze in the hopes of having tighter skin and less aching in their joints. But does it really do what it promises?

 

What is collagen?

Quite simply, collagen is the structural protein found in animal connective tissue. As the most abundant protein in the human body, it’s found in skin, muscles, bones and tendons. Collagen is also found in animal meat, so eating is it not new…but bottling and selling it as a supplement is. Many claim that taking collagen supplements will reduce wrinkles, make skin look younger and increase the elasticity in the joints. Yet, collagen is quickly broken down during digestion, so how can any of this be true?

 

Researchers realized this digestion problem early on and created a unique solution called hydrolyzed collagen. In simple terms, in hydrolyzed collagen, the molecular bonds between the individual collagen strands have been broken down into 19 amino acids. Research has found that this form of collagen is about 85% absorbable by the bloodstream. In other words, you may absorb more collagen when taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements than eating a piece of meat.

 

What does the research say?

Since collagen supplements are new to the market, the research is still preliminary. But a handful of studies show promising results on the effects of collagen supplementation on skin and joints.

 

In a recent randomized controlled trial, women aged 35-55 either received 2.5 grams or 5.0 grams of hydrolyzed collagen or placebo once a day for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, the skin elasticity in the groups taking the collagen supplement significantly improved, while the placebo group did not. Another similar study observed 114 women aged 45-65 years as they received a collagen supplement or placebo once a day for 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, the group that took the collagen supplement saw a statistically significant reduction of eye wrinkle volume. There are a few other studies that showed similar results, suggesting that collagen supplementation may help skin look younger or prevent against the signs of aging.

Because collagen is a major component of muscles, bones and tendons, it has been also studied for its role in preventing the breakdown of joints. One study looked into the effectiveness of collagen supplementation on treating the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. After thirteen weeks taking a collagen supplement, the researchers found that supplementing with collagen decreased the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Another study observed the effects of collagen supplementation on the joints of athletes — a population that puts high stress on their joints. Subjects were either given 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen or placebo for 24-weeks. The researchers found that the athletes given the collagen supplement had less joint pain than those that did not receive the supplement.

 

The bottom line

Research suggests that supplementing with collagen is a safe and effective way to improve the health of skin and joints. But, as with any supplement, it’s best to be cautious. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements, making it impossible to know if the supplement matches what’s on the label. Choose brands that use third party testing, like NeoCell, rather than generic brands. And don’t be fooled by extreme claims on the label. While the research on collagen is promising, it won’t undo the effects of smoking, excessive sun exposure or a bad diet. As with any supplement, it should be accompanied by a healthy diet and lifestyle.

 

Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., is a media dietitian, food and nutrition writer, spokesperson and blogger at Nutrition à la Natalie.

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

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Eat for Your Body, Not Your Bikini: How to Love Your Summer Body

Summer is around the corner, and while many look forward to the joys this season brings — vacations, more time spent outside, time off from school and work — just as many dread it thanks to media marketing around getting “the perfect bikini body” and photo-shopped models painting an unrealistic ideal. Along with the “beach body” marketing comes an onslaught of ridiculous fad diets and expensive schemes that ultimately lead to long-term weight gain…not to mention lower self-esteem, anxiety and preoccupation with food. This summer, try eating for your body, instead of that bikini and implement these practices to cultivate body respect and kindness.

 

Intuitive Eating

Ever wonder how a toddler knows exactly what and how much he/she wants to eat? We’re all born with an innate ability to know what food our body needs and when we’re satisfied. But unfortunately, somewhere along the way, a family member, friend, health professional, or the media told us what we should and shouldn’t eat and we lost touch with that inner voice. The good news is that inner wisdom still lives within each of us, and intuitive eating is a practice that helps us strengthen that voice by tuning into our body to honor our hunger and feel when we’re full. The work involves making peace with food by ditching the diet culture mentality, telling the food police to shove it, and finding pleasure and satisfaction from eating. This summer, rather than asking yourself “what should I eat right now?”, which comes from a place of fear, guilt and shame, empower your internal wisdom and flex that self-trust muscle by asking, “what do I want to eat right now?”

 

Social Media “Diet”

The only “diet” that may be of some value to follow this summer is one where you control the media you take in. Marci Evans, registered dietitian and eating disorder expert in Cambridge, MA, helps her clients block unhelpful people on Facebook, un-follow provoking Instagram accounts, toss out triggering magazines and carefully curate the blogs they read. “Then we have fun filling their feeds with information that inspires them to be their healthiest and most authentic self in mind, body, and spirit. It’s a picture of health that is taken from the inside, rather than the outside,” Evans says. Not sure where to start? Evans recommends to “try searching for people who promote body positivity, body acceptance, intuitive eating, and non-dieting.” Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness, says we need to filter our social media feeds so we can see pictures of people in larger bodies having fun. “The reality is 67% of American women are a size 14 or higher. Why can’t we see more representation of what people really look like? Exposure to size diversity helps us all.”

 

Ban Body Bashing

Negative body talk is all around us; in fact, many women bond over complaining about their bodies. But if we don’t like our bodies, guess what, we’re not going to treat them very well. It’s time to change the dialogue because our thoughts affect our behaviors and if we want to start treating our bodies better, we need to start with shifting the dialogue from negative to positive. Scritchfield suggests trying to focus on all the wonderful things our bodies do for us. “Write a ‘love letter’ to yourself. Put positive post-its where you get dressed and feel naked and vulnerable and see if the self-love note helps you feel a little less body shame.” She also says it’s pretty powerful to “write down your ‘critic’ thoughts and ask ‘would I say this to a little girl’?”. Evans recommends getting your girlfriends in on the change. “Let your friends know that you want your friendships to foster support and encouragement, not body bashing.”

 

Feel Good in Your Here and Now Body

The reality is that many aspects of our bodies are out of our control, and the more we try to manipulate them to fit a certain size or reach a number on the scale, the more if backfires and we feel worse. The best thing we can do is to treat our bodies with respect because health is more about behaviors than it is about a size. Rather than waiting to treat yourself until you reach that “number,” start working today to feel good in your here-and-now body. Evans recommends trying things like a fun pair of sunglasses, a new nail polish, a fresh haircut and hydrating your skin with lotion. “You deserve to treat your body with warmth and kindness today! Turns out we treat things we like better than we treat things we hate. So start treating your body as if you like it, and your health just might thank you for it!”

 

Kara Lydon, R.D., L.D.N., R.Y.T., is a nutrition coach, yoga teacher and self-proclaimed foodie. She is a recipe developer, food photographer, writer and spokeswoman. Her food and healthy living blog, The Foodie Dietitian, features seasonal vegetarian recipes and simple strategies to bring more mindfulness and yoga into your life.

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

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How One Simple Vending Machine Tweak Could Prompt Healthier Choices

You’re at work, feeling a little hungry, low energy or just in the mood to take a break, so you stroll down to the vending machine in search of a snack. You feed some cash into the machine and choose something that catches your eye. A few minutes later, you’re sitting at your desk with an empty bag, greasy fingers and an unmistakable sense of regret. Why didn’t you choose something healthier?

 

Making snack decisions in a snap doesn’t always bring out the healthiest eater in us. To quantify this truism, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago created a device that can be installed in vending machines that delays the dispensing of unhealthy snacks (candy and chips, for instance) for 25 seconds and but allows healthier snacks (nuts, popcorn) to be dispensed straightaway. A sign on the vending machine lets people know unhealthy snacks will take extra time to receive.

 

Guess what happened when the experimental machines were made available around campus? Yep, people began to choose healthier snacks.

 

“We saw a roughly 5 percent change in the proportion of healthy snacks” sales, Brad Appelhans, the associate professor of preventative medicine who led the project, told NPR.

 

It’s unclear whether people were inclined to pick healthier items to avoid the delay (and skirt the inconvenience) or because of it (more time to consider), but even those of us who don’t have access to the tricked-out vending machines can benefit from hitting the pause button when making our food choices, says Philadelphia-based registered dietitian Marjorie Nolan Cohn, MS, RDN, CEDRD, CSSD, ACSM-HFS. Implementing a snack delay — just allowing ourselves a little extra time to consider our options and their potential effects on our well-being — may allow us to break unhealthy habits.

 

“A simple wait period that allows someone to reevaluate their decision internally could be very beneficial,” she says. Being mindful of the sodium content of foods or considering total fat and calorie content, she adds, may be especially important for those who have high blood pressure or are trying to lose weight.

 

Cohn also recommends planning snacks ahead as well. “Even if you change course throughout the day from your plan, simply having a plan will promote more thought of what one is choosing to eat,” Cohn says. “And when someone thinks about what they eat — from a health perspective — they tend to choose foods that are better for their body.”

 

So next time you’re craving that midday candy bar, try counting to 25 and think about how it will affect your body and how you will feel afterward. You may just find yourself opting for a handful of nuts or some fresh fruit instead.

 

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.

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

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