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  • How to Eat Healthy at Restaurants How to Eat Healthy at Restaurants 09/10/2018 Plenty of healthy options are available when eating out at restaurants. Find out how with this plant based guide for dining out.

    Living a healthy plant-based lifestyle does not mean you have to forgo your social life and give up the pleasures of dining out. Plenty of options are available, and there are a few things you can do to make your restaurant experiences quite enjoyable. Find out how with this plant-based guide for dining out.

    Finding Good Vegetarian Restaurants

    • Make recommendations when friends and family request input on where the group will dine.
    • Look up the menu online if friends or family have already picked the restaurant, and become familiar with the options.
    • Call ahead to ask questions, and have a good attitude.

    I recently called ahead before dining at a restaurant, and the manager put me on the phone with the chef who asked a number of questions. Chefs enjoy a challenge and opportunity to use their culinary creativity in the kitchen. Don’t forget to leave great reviews for great experiences!

    Eat Something Before You Go

    If it looks like your healthy options will be very limited, eat something before you go. It’s better not to be ravenous if the only thing healthy on the menu is a salad. Being prepared can keep you from becoming “hangry” and make bad decisions when you are irritated and hungry.

    Be Flexible and Polite

    Don’t stress over every detail. It can be disappointing when there are no alternatives to refined foods like white rice and pasta. If brown rice and whole wheat pasta aren’t on the menu, just aim to select the best options available. Attitude is everything when dining out. When customers become difficult, servers and staff are less likely to accommodate you. They also know the menu much better than you do, so ask questions like, “Can you suggest something that is meat and dairy free?”

    I did this a few years ago at a restaurant. When I politely asked the young waitress for assistance, she got so excited that she slid into the booth with us and started telling us all about their menu. She suggested we not order the rice because it came pre-seasoned with chicken stock, and the lemon sauce with vegetables had butter in it. She was able to make suggestions and talk with the chef, and we ended up with an excellent healthy meal. I can’t stress enough that it’s all about the attitude with which we ask.

    Learn Where and What to Order

    When you adopt a plant-based lifestyle, it is very important to empower yourself with knowledge about your options within different cuisines. Form a relationship with some restaurants that you visit frequently. A local Chinese restaurant that we order from regularly knows me well, and they know exactly what I want.

    Types of Cuisine Choices

    • Thai restaurants usually offer numerous plant-based options. Always ask for dishes to be made without fish sauce. Some menu items that are good choices include:
      • Fresh Garden Spring Rolls, also known as rice paper rolls loaded with vegetables and even some fruit
      • Stir-Fried vegetable dishes
      • Tofu and vegetable dishes
      • Vegetarian noodle soups
      • Steamed rice
    • Chinese restaurants offer plenty of vegetable and tofu-based dishes, as well as noodles and rice. It is best to ask for things to be prepared without oil, fish sauce, or oyster sauce. Look for the following options on menus:
      • Stir-fried vegetable dishes
      • Steamed tofu and vegetable dishes
      • Vegetarian noodle soups
      • Steamed rice
    • Vietnamese food offer some delicious healthy options. Just make sure their broth is from vegetables or miso. Here are some options I have found healthy and delicious:
      • Fresh Garden Spring Rolls (AKA: Rice Paper Rolls)
      • Vegetable Pho
      • Vegetarian noodle soups
      • Steamed rice
    • Japanese cuisine typically offers plenty of low-fat vegan options, but make sure no cream cheese or fish product is added to your dish. Some of our favorites include:
      • Vegetable sushio
      • Miso Soup
      • Grilled tofu dishes
      • Vegetarian soba noodle dishes
      • Vegetarian rice dishes
    • Italian choices can be a tough one, but here are a few options for healthy Italian dishes:
      • Vegetable pizza without cheese and extra marinara
      • Pasta and veggies with marinara
      • House salad with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
    • Mexican restaurants often have a vegetarian menu, and some dishes can be altered by removing the cheese and sour cream to make it a healthy plant-based meal. Always ask that your food be made without oil as most rice dishes have a lot of added oil, and make sure any beans you order are made without bacon or other animal products. Some of our Mexican favorites include:
      • Vegetable Fajitas
      • Avocado tacos
      • Bean and rice burritos
    • Delis and sandwiches made without cheese on whole wheat bread, loaded with vegetables and seasoned with oregano or vinegar are healthy and delicious. Options at these types of restaurants might be:
      • Whole wheat bread with
      • Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, beets, carrots and avocado
      • Mustard, pickles and balsamic vinegar
      • Black Bean Burger
      • Portobello Burger
      • Garden salad
      • Baked potato with salad bar toppings

    Other Resources

    Learn more about Terri Edwards’ nutrition education, cooking classes and more at EatPlant-Based.com.


  • Fast Food Survival Guide Fast Food Survival Guide 08/21/2018 ​Eat smart on the run with these seven tips.

    Eat smart on the run with these seven tips: 

    1. Order a kid's meal. You will get less food for less money.
    2. Share your meal with a family member. 
    3. Order water instead of soft drinks. 
    4. Order a smaller hamburger and french fries.
    5. Think twice when ordering the value meal combo. 
    6. Don't super-size it. 
    7. Eat and prepare more meals at home
    Visit our Eat Smart Blog for more healthy tips. 
  • FAQ's About Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs FAQ's About Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs Linda Watson | 07/23/2018 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs allow you to support a local community farm. In return, you receive fresh food d...


    I’ve long supported local farmers by shopping at farmers’ markets and choosing local at the grocery store, but joining a CSA took my support to a whole new level. CSA means food subscription group, even if it officially stands for Community Supported Agriculture. When you join a CSA program, you support a farm with a micro-loan, which helps pay for seeds, feeds, salaries, and more. In return, you get utterly fresh food direct from the farmer. You may share the risk and reward of farming, too, getting a smaller bunch of collards after a cold snap or bonus tomatoes during a peak harvest. Usually you pick up the week’s bounty at a certain time and place, but some CSAs deliver. 

    We’re lucky in the Carolinas to have a wide variety of CSAs. I joined Edible Earthscape’sCSA to research my book Fifty Weeks of Green. Jason and Haruka Oastis were running about the only winter CSA that was still taking members. I enjoyed it so much I joined again the next year with a friend.

    Looking for a CSA? Check out our favorite Local Food Search Engines!

    Why I love Belonging to a CSA

    • Plentiful, top-quality produce. Every week feels like Christmas as Jason opens the week’s box and describes each bundle before handing it to me to put in a cloth bag. Farmers tend to fill their CSA boxes first and then offer the rest for sale at the market. No worries about getting to the market too late for carrots or sugar snaps.
    • Unusual and beautiful vegetables. Jason and Haruka started farming in Japan, so they grow taro roots, burdock, and a host of Asian greens. Sometimes their salad mix includes flowers.
    • The weekly email. Learn what’s in each week’s share and mull over any choices. (Which salad green: arugula, mizuna, or wasabina?). Get recipes and farm news.
    • Fewer decisions. My grocery list shrunk and menu planning was easier because I just cooked what I received. It nearly eliminated the label reading that can go with eating 10%-plus local diet.
    • The parties! I love going to potlucks at the Edible Earthscapes and coming early to help plant. Some members host other potlucks. Most dishes include food from that week’s share. We go from being supporters to being friends.

    Questions to Ask Before Joining a CSA

    • Does this CSA offer food I will eat? Find out what will be in a typical box and, if possible, what variety is ahead for the season. Look for a selection that looks tasty and that you will actually cook. You can find CSAs for vegetables, fruit, flour, eggs, dairy, meat, fish, or a mix. Local should be a given, but look for other key words such as organic, pesticide-free, non-GMO, or pastured.
    • When will it run? Most CSA sessions range from 8 to 30 weeks. Some farms run multiple sessions, so you could sign up for the spring, spend summer at the beach, and sign up again in the fall if you enjoyed being a member.
    • How much food will you get? Some CSAs offer full shares or half shares. Wild Onion Farms offers a free-choice or market-style CSA, where you prepay an amount and use your credit within a year.
    • What does it cost? Home cooking with local ingredients is wildly affordable compared to eating out, but the upfront cost of a CSA can take a bite out of your budget. You might pay $200, $500, or even $1000 depending on the type of food and length of the session.
    • Where will you pick it up? Common choices include at farmers’ markets, restaurants that the farms supply, and even grocery stores or co-ops with a local focus. For busy people, paying a little extra for home delivery may be a good investment.
    • How is the delivery handled? With some CSAs, you swap an empty box for a full one every week. With others, you bring your own box or bags. CSAs that offer highly perishable food may provide coolers and chill packs.
    • Are any bonuses included? Will there be community events such as potlucks, farm tours, or farm work days? Harland’s Creek Farm offers a CSA cookbook and menu plans. Some CSAs offer cooking classes.
    • What happens if you go on vacation or move? Some CSAs build in a few skipped weeks. In general, expect to have someone else pick up your box or to have it donated to a food bank. One year, I split a share a friend, which gave us flexibility.

    When you join a CSA, you get fresh, local food while creating a stronger community and more resilient foodshed. I hope you will try supporting agriculture in your community in this direct and convenient way.

    Get more great tips from Linda to help you eat well and wildly affordable at http://cookforgood.com/ Her monthly newsletters are awesome or buy her fabulous book, Wildly Affordable Organic!

    @Copywrited for text and pictures by Linda Watson.


  • 10 Tips for Healthier Fast Food Choices 10 Tips for Healthier Fast Food Choices 07/17/2018 It's possible to make wise choices and eat a fairly healthy meal at fast food restaurants if you order carefully.

    It's possible to make wise choices and eat a fairly healthy meal at fast food restaurants if you order carefully.

    1. Instead of French fries or onion rings, order healthy side items like vegetables and fruits. Consider salads, apple slices, or carrots.

    2. Select from the restaurant’s healthy menu, if available. Most chains have their menu online.

    3. Order the smallest sandwich on the menu, or get the kid’s size.

    4. Ask for grilled chicken instead of fried chicken in sandwiches, wraps, and salads.

    5. Ask for sandwiches without mayonnaise, sauces, or cheese.

    6. Opt for low-fat or low-calorie sauces and dressings such as mustard, fat-free salad dressing, or salsa.

    7. Order a main course salad, but be careful. Sometimes salads with a lot of high-fat meats and cheeses actually have more calories than a cheeseburger. When it comes to salad dressing, a little can go a long way, so use the smallest amount possible and always order it on the side.

    8. Choose lean meats or veggies for subs; try the turkey or grilled chicken breast sub instead of a meatball sub.

    9. For subs, ask that some of the bread be scooped out before it’s assembled and pile on fresh veggies.

    10. Choose sugar-free drinks, such as water (best choice!), unsweetened tea, coffee, or diet soda.

    Thank you to the American Diabetes Association for providing this content.


  • 5 Tips for Choosing a Better Cheese 5 Tips for Choosing a Better Cheese 07/10/2018 Want a cheese that delivers the goods - flavor, protein and calcium with the least calories, saturated fat, and salt? Check out...

    Cheese. Some love it, some hate it. Since 1970, we’ve nearly tripled how much we eat, and it’s not just the dishes you typically expect like pizza and quesadillas. It’s on salads, sandwiches, pasta, vegetables, you name it.

    Want a cheese that delivers the goods - flavor, protein and calcium with the least calories, saturated fat, and salt? Check out these 5 tips.

    1. Watch the serving size.

    When comparing labels, watch out for:

    Slice vs. block. Cheeses that come sliced may look lower in calories, saturated fat, and sodium because their labels list a smaller serving (usually a 3/4 oz. slice) than blocks or shredded cheese (1 oz.).

    Skinny slices. It’s not easy to tell whether really skinny slices like Kraft Slim Cut or Sargento Ultra Thin are better or worse than ordinary slices because the slims’ and thins’ labels show both a 1-slice (about 1/3 oz.) and a 3-slice (about 1 oz.) serving. It comes down to how many slices you use and whether the cheese is reduced-fat (like Kraft Slim Cut) or full-fat (like Sargento Ultra Thin).

    2.  Look for sat fat steals.

    Ignore the man-bites-dog headlines. Saturated fat still raises LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Solution: eat less cheese…or look for products that have no more than 3 grams of saturated fat per serving—roughly half what you’d get in full-fat cheese. They’re usually labeled “lite,” “2% milk,” “50% less fat,” “reduced fat,” or “part-skim.”

    Bonus: many cheeses that are lower in sat fat are also lower in calories. An ounce of Cabot Sharp Light Cheddar, for example, supplies 8 grams of protein and 20 percent of a day’s calcium for 70 calories. An ounce of the company’s full-fat Vermont Sharp Cheddar (with roughly the same protein and calcium) will cost you 110 calories. Why do most fresh mozzarellas have 3 grams of sat fat or less even though they’re full fat? It’s because they contain more water than regular mozzarella (or most other cheeses).

    3.  Keep an eye on salt.

    Looking for less sodium? Swiss cheese (many have 40 to 60 milligrams of sodium per ounce) and fresh mozzarella (typically 80 to 100 mg) are naturally lower than other types. Try to choose cheeses with no more than 200 mg of sodium per serving.

    Tip: Skip Kraft fat-free shredded cheeses. Ounce for ounce, they have about 100 mg more sodium (280 mg) than shredded lower-fat cheeses from Horizon Organic, Sargento, Trader Joe’s, and Kraft’s 2% Milk line.

    4.  Watch out for non-dairy cheeses with little or no protein or calcium.

    Most dairy-free (vegan) cheeses are nearly protein-free, with 0 or 1 gram per ounce instead of cheese’s usual 5 to 8 grams. That’s because they’re mostly water, oil (coconut, canola, palm, or soybean), and starches.

    Exception: Treeline Aged Treenut Cheeses get 5 grams of protein per ounce from cashews. And many non-vegan “cheese alternatives”—like Go Veggie Lactose Free or Trader Joe’s Almond Mozzarella Style Shreds—add enough casein (a milk protein) to reach 6 grams of protein per ounce. But only Go Veggie consistently adds calcium. Most Field Roast, Follow Your Heart, and Treeline have zip.

    5.  Watch the claims.

     You can ignore most of them. Almost all cheese is made with “simple” ingredients and has “no added sugar.” Most hard cheeses are lactose-free—or close to it. (Lactose is milk sugar, so check the “Sugars” line on the Nutrition Facts label.) And any cheese that isn’t processed (like Kraft Singles) can call itself “natural.”

    This post was originally published at NutritionAction.com.

  • 4 Healthy Lunch Tips for Travelers 4 Healthy Lunch Tips for Travelers 06/21/2018 Here are tips for eating healthy at the airport and on the road.

    Nutritious eating on the go while getting from place A to place B can be a challenge. Here are tips for eating healthy at the airport and on the road:

    1. Planning ahead saves you time and money. Having snacks on hand will help keep temptation at bay during delays and layovers. Slip some of these security-friendly snacks into your carry-on:
      • Nuts
      • Apples or grape 
      • Whole grain cracker
      • Granola bar
      • Peanut butter sandwich
    2. Save money on drinks by bringing a reusable empty water bottle. Bottled water is more expensive in the airport. Fill up your water bottle at a drinking fountain (after you pass through security screening, if flying).
    3. Many airport eateries—both fast food and sit down restaurants—offer healthier choices these days. If your travels are long, do a bit of research online to see what’s available at your layover airport.
    4. Keep these healthful tips in mind when ordering at a restaurant:
      • Order the smallest sandwich, without cheese and sauces.
      • Request all sauces and dressings on the side, and don’t use the entire portion.
      • Choose a smaller-size lunch portion, if available.
      • Split the main dish if the servings are large.
      • Split the main dish if the servings are large.
      • Avoid fried meats and sides.
      • Ask for a salad or vegetables instead of fries.

    American Diabetes Association



  • 4 Tips to Drink More Water 4 Tips to Drink More Water Lauren Wright | 06/21/2018 Staying hydrated is easy, even in the summer heat!

    Summer is here, which means the temperature and humidity are on the rise in South Carolina. With such scorching, sticky weather, it’s extra important to pay attention to hydration during summer months. We’ve all heard the adage, “drink 8 glasses of water a day.” But is that really enough?

    According to the National Institutes of Health, the Daily Reference Intake for water for adults is between 2.7 to 3.7 liters per day. That means you should really be drinking 11 to 15 cups every day!

    Here are 4 tips for getting more H2O into your diet.

    • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. A good portion of the water you lose each day is insensible water loss, which means it is lost through breathing or evaporation from the skin. Even though you might not realize it, you’re actually losing a lot of water while catching Zs. To get a jump-start on replacing that lost water, drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.
    • Buy a glass water bottle. There’s no need to buy disposable water bottles every time you reach for a drink. The new trend right now is glass water bottles, which are sturdy, reusable, and do not contain any BPA. Keep it on your desk throughout the day to remind you to keep sipping all day long.
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables. You don’t just have to drink your water to keep hydrated. Fruits and vegetables naturally contain high amounts of water that your body can use to hydrate. Some fruits and veggies with notably high water contents are watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, celery, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
    • Jazz up your water. Tired of drinking plain, old water? Add sliced fruits or herbs to infuse a light, refreshing flavor to your water. Or opt for a sparkling water, like seltzer or club soda, for a bubbly treat that is just as hydrating as regular water. 
    Stay active, healthy and hydrated this Summer! Find healthy resources in your local community by using the Let's Go SC searchable directory. Find farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture programs, parks, trails, school grounds and recreational facilities.
  • Vegetarian, Vegan and Meals Without Meat Vegetarian, Vegan and Meals Without Meat 06/19/2018 Eating vegetarian or vegan meals every now and then can help you lower your cholesterol and improve your heart health.

    Eating vegetarian or vegan meals every now and then can help you lower your cholesterol and improve your heart health. Unlike a strict vegan or vegetarian diet, mixing in some meatless meals won’t require you to give up your carnivorous ways.

    What’s the deal with meatless meals?

    Well, it seems that leaving out the meat is good for you. In fact, it could help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. Best of all, a semi-vegetarian or flexitarian eating style doesn’t require you to completely give up your carnivorous ways. You can totally eat lean meat – just less of it! We’ll let the experts explain.

    Expert Tip #1:

    Most of the cholesterol-raising saturated fats that Americans eat come from meat and full-fat dairy products such as whole milk cheese,” said Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., a professor of nutrition at Tufts University and an AHA volunteer. “If you decrease your daily intake of animal fat, you’re going to decrease your intake of saturated fat.

    What’s in a meatless meal?

    What does your dinner look like when you take meat off the menu? Your meal won’t be boring and there are more options than you’d think! For example – craving a burger? Try a savory grilled portabella mushroom burger.

    Expert Tip #2:

    Going meatless are as simple as moving vegetables and fruits from a side dish to a starring role. You should also seek out high-fiber whole grains, beans and legumes, unsalted nuts, and lower fat and fat-free dairy foods. These tend to be high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and other important phytonutrients,” said Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition professor at the University of Vermont and AHA volunteer.

    Start with small steps.

    Expert Tip #3:

    "An easy way to get started is to eat one meatless meal a week,” suggests Dr. Johnson. Sticking with it can quickly make you start feeling lighter and your wallet fatter: People who eat less meat tend to consume fewer calories, and foods such as beans are one of the most cost-effective sources of protein available. Meat typically costs more per pound than other protein sources.

    If meatless is not for you, don’t worry. You don’t have to go cold turkey on meat to adopt a heart-healthy eating style.

    Are you a fan of chicken or fish? Skinless poultry and fish containing omega-3 fatty acids are good protein choices and easy to prepare in healthy ways.

    Gotta have meat? Limit it to once in a while.

    When you do eat meat, choose the leanest cut available, reduce your portion size to no more than 6 oz cooked, remove all visible fat, and cook in a healthy way to avoid excess saturated fats. And remember, a meatless meal doesn’t automatically translate to less saturated fat.

    Expert Tip #4:

    "You can drop meat, but if you substitute quiche for steak, you’re not going to get any advantage in terms of heart health,” Dr. Lichtenstein cautioned. Make sure you’re making healthy swaps.

    More tips for going meatless:

    • Keep the refrigerator and pantry stocked with plant-based alternatives like veggies, beans, nuts, whole grains and tofu.
    • Find recipes for meatless meals and get your cook on! The American Heart Association offers hundreds of healthy, delicious plant-based entrees in our cookbooks and online recipe center.
    • Go veggie at work. If you have access to an office kitchen, keep a few convenient meatless foods you like, such as veggie burgers and vegetarian microwavable meals, on hand for a quick, meatless lunch.

    Thank you to the American Diabetes Association for providing this content.


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