Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pick of the Day: Mango Madness!

Mangos are at their peak of the season! Mangos not only taste great but they are also good for you (and for your skin too)!
Vitamin C: One cup of fresh mango contains 90% of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of vitamin C. Vitamin C is not only essential to retain a strong immune system, it is also a wonderful antioxidant. Vitamin C also plays a critical role in repairing the body tissues that is needed for wound healing. In addition, vitamin C is also necessary for the production of collagen in the skin, bones, and teeth. Yes ladies, vitamin C’s collagen building activity can help you retain a youthful appearance! But do not go overboard and buy a bunch of those supplements, because vitamin C in great excess can become unstable and also have pro-oxidant effects which do the opposite (along with some adverse affects on the gastrointestinal tract).
Vitamin A: Mangos are high in a form of vitamin A called beta-carotene. Vitamin A is essential for vision (it is needed to form rhodopsin, a vitamin A-containing pigment protein found in our eyes). Among vitamin A’s many functions in the body, like vitamin C, it promotes skin health my stimulating cellular growth (thus, turnover) which can therefore help promote a younger appearance along with giving skin a gorgeous glow (note: vitamin A in major excess can also cause the skin and eyes to appear yellow). Furthermore, vitamin A has some powerful antioxidant functions.

A fun way to incorporate Mango: A Simple Yogurt Parfait


You don’t need to be a culinary mastermind to make fruit look delicious. Here is an easy way to make fruit and yogurt look fabulous.
½ cup mango, cubed (Use my friend Catherine’s video if you need help cutting a mango -
2-3 raspberries (for garnish).
½ -3/4 cup of yogurt of choice (I used Fage® total 2%).
2 tsps Agave Nectar.
1 tsp shredded Coconut (optional).


You will also need (optional):
Cool transparent dish, like the martini glass shown here.
Ziploc bag and scissors.

Spoon yogurt into the bottom corner of Ziploc bag. Using your scissors, cut a small slit into the corner of the bag. Tap the bag onto a hard surface to move the yogurt to the bottom of the bag. Place the bag onto a paper towel (to avoid a yogurt mess). In a transparent dish, place half of the mango to make the first layer. Using the Ziploc bag, gently squeeze the yogurt over the mango.  Drizzle on the agave nectar. Gently assemble the remaining mango over the agave. Finish off by sprinkling the coconut on top. Add the raspberries. Enjoy!

© Kate Ezra Wolf, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Get your Iron On: Part 2 - Food Paradoxes

As I mentioned in Part 1, iron is very difficult to absorb in the body. One of the reasons why it is so difficult to absorb iron is because of many inhibitors that are consumed simultaneously. The idea is not to completely eliminate these inhibitors from your diet (because they also have many health benefits), but to be mindful and try to avoid when consuming iron rich foods.

Here are some iron inhibitors:

Polyphenols (such as tannins or derivatives of gallic acid) – are found in coffee, black tea and red wine (as well as grape juice). Polyphenols are very powerful antioxidants that help fight premature aging and help prevent certain cancers (among many other benefits). However, they also hamper the absorption of iron.

Oxalic acid – found in raw spinach (cooking spinach will help eliminate the oxalic acid - note that spinach is an excellent source of iron), chard, berries, CHOCOLATE, and teas.

Phytates – found in maize, whole grains and legumes (such as beans).

Phosvitin – a protein found in egg yolks.

Other nutrients such as calcium, zinc, manganese, and nickel

Stay tuned for more on iron and other nutrients!

Best of health,

© Kate Ezra Wolf, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hibiscus Cooler

The heat has officially arrived  in California and it looks like it might be here to stay! During the summer months it is extremely important to stay hydrated in order for our bodies (and minds) to function optimally. Caffeine-free ice teas are a great departure from boring old water! Just keep in mind that many herbal teas can also function as  powerful diuretics (which can also cause dehydration), thus it is still important to drink plenty of water.

Hibiscus tea, comes from a tropical flower known for their large blossoms, make wonderful and flavorful teas. Hibiscus teas have a tangy unique flavor as well as a gorgeous ruby color.

Hibiscus Cooler Made Easy
 1 quart (4 cups) of water.
1 Hibiscus Tea Bag – I used The Republic of Tea® Hibiscus Sangria Tea.
2-3 Tsps of Light Agave Syrup (or sweetener of your choice).
½ Orange, sliced.
Bring  1 quart (4 cups) of water to a boil. While water is heating, place tea bag into a heat safe pitcher. Pour hot water over bag and stir with a heat safe spoon. Steep tea  for 5-7 minutes and remove bag. Stir in sweetener (or no sweetener if you prefer). Let pitcher cool for about 30 minutes and place in refrigerator for about an hour. Pour tea in glass over ice. Place an orange slice either inside of the glass (for more flavor) or use on the rim as a garnish. Enjoy!

Where to buy tea: or

Click here to watch my video:

New Product Review: NuGo® Dark, Mint Chocolate Chip (Gluten Free)

Product Info: Gluten free, dairy free, vegan. Kosher Pareve.

Allergen info: Contains soy. Processed in facility with equipment that has contact with products containing peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and egg.

Overall Rating: A

Although I am not a huge advocate for supplement bars, these Nugo® nutrition bars might just be the exception to the rule as my new guilty pleasure! Nugo® offers a series of different lines to accommodate to a variety of nutritional needs including gluten free, vegan, low sugar, organic, and high protein. Each individual bar (not product line) has its own unique combination to fit a variety of nutritional requirements. Although I found this to be initially confusing, my best suggestion is to thoroughly check the labeling on each bar (even if it is in the same product line as another bar). NuGo® Dark, Mint Chocolate Chip, for example, is gluten free. However, it is the only variety in the dark line that happens to be gluten free. Note: They also have a full gluten free line called Nugo® Free.

*Special Note: I just received an email from NuGo® with their new updated info  that NuGo® Dark Peanut Butter Cup and NuGo Dark Chocolate Pretzel were recently certified gluten-free!!  You should start seeing the new certified gluten-free wrappers in stores along with Mint. Also, NuGO® Slim is certified gluten-free and contains only two grams of sugar from REAL Dark Chocolate and chicory root - no sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners!*

These bars taste surprisingly pretty good. The dark chocolate is rich, but not too rich and the texture has a nice combination of crispy and chewy. The Nugo® company takes much pride in the fact that they use real dark chocolate, as opposed to chocolate flavored vegetable oils that some of their competitors use. Their greatest accomplishment however, is that my husband likes them, which for those who don’t know, my husband is the pickiest eater on the planet!

The dietetic profile isn’t too bad. The entire bar has a total of 200 calories, which is a common number range for nutrition bars. The bar has a total 10 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber. The bar also has 14 grams of sugar (which is a pretty high, but not terrible considering that the bar is completely covered in chocolate).


Would I purchase again: YES.

Palatability grade: A

Potential for improvement: So, so.

Dietetic Profile: A-

Overall Grade: A

Where to buy: or 

For more info:

Here is the link to see all of the gluten-free bars.

Here is our special dietary needs chart.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pick of the Day: Sunchokes!!

Don’t be fooled by their grotesque root-like appearance! Sunchokes are a surprisingly delicious veggie that can be prepared in so many ways! Although they look like a ginger root, they actually taste more like an artichoke heart. Imagine the texture and tenderness of an artichoke heart with the flavors of a potato and a chestnut!

Sunchokes are high in a prebiotic soluble fiber known as inulin, thus promoting intestinal health. They are also a wonderful source of vitamin C and potassium.

Sunchokes can be prepared in a variety of ways. They can be boiled, roasted, or can even be consumed raw like jicama.

Where to buy: Can be found in specialty markets such as Whole Foods or Gelsons. If you live in warmer climates, check your local farmers markets.


Simple Sunchoke Salad

Rinse and scrub sunchokes thoroughly to remove any excess dirt.
In a medium size pot, add water, a dash of salt, and sunchokes. Bring to a boil. Cook sunchokes for about 20 minutes. Drain water and let the sunchokes cool for about 10 minutes. Peel off the skin with fingers (or use a knife if you prefer). Chop sunchokes into cubes. Serve on top of your favorite salad (Above: Raw spinach, almonds, pear vinegar, olive oil, and freshly ground pepper). Enjoy!

Product Review: Skinny Crisps, White Sesame (gluten free)

Product Info: Gluten free and Wheat free.

Allergen Info: contains nuts.

Overall Rating: A

Let me just start off by saying that I do not have celiac disease, I am not gluten intolerant, nor am I allergic to wheat (at least that I know of). All of these diseases/conditions can potentially be very serious and if you have not been diagnosed with any of these conditions by a medical doctor, I generally do not recommend completely eliminating wheat from your diet. By eliminating wheat, whole wheat in particular, one is also taking out many essential nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin E, and fiber. I will expand on wheat, celiac disease, and gluten intolerance in future posts.

Moving on to Skinny Crisps, which are amazing by the way! They are so amazing that I couldn’t keep them for enough time after I purchased them to photograph for the review!

 These crackers are made with crushed almonds and chickpea flour (as a replacement to wheat flour). They are crunchy and not too crumbly, the way the crackers are supposed to be (which is particularly impressive because it is very difficult to replicate the flavor and texture of wheat flour). Now, I am not saying that they taste exactly like a wheat cracker, but they come pretty darn close!

They come in several other varieties including Plain, Toasty Onion, Seeded, Say Cheese, and Brownie Crisps. For this review, I had the White Sesame variety. Note: I particularly like my crackers to be bland and plain so if you looking for something with a lot of flavor, I would maybe go for the Toasty Onion variety.

As far as dietetic profile, I really cannot say anything bad about them. They are relatively low calorie, about 60 calories in 4 crisps. They are low in fat, made with the including natural oils from the seeds and nuts as well as some added olive oil. They have 2g of fiber per serving (4 crisps). They are also pretty low in sodium (which is rare for crackers). In conclusion, I will probably be buying these yummys regularly!


Would I purchase again: YES.

Palatability Grade: A

Potential for Improvement: They are great the way they are!

Dietetic Profile: A

Overall Grade: A

Where to buy:
Go to the Skinny Crisp’s webpage to find retail locations and/or to order online:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Get your Iron On! Part 1:

Believe it or not Iron deficiency anemia is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world, especially among women. It is crucial for one to consume iron rich foods daily to help deliver oxygen to the cells in the body. Iron deficiencies can do a number on the body causing not only severe exhaustion and a weaker immune system, but can also affect the physical appearance of hair, skin, and nails. The problem is that not only are people not consuming enough iron rich foods in general, but iron is also very difficult to absorb in the body. They’re many factors (including other essential nutrients) that can impair iron absorption in the body.
Here are foods that you may (or may not) to expect to be rich in iron:
Clams and Oysters: Shellfish lovers rejoice! These gourmet treats are freakishly high in iron (as well as zinc); nearly quadruple (yes 4x) the amount of iron in ground beef!

Plant Sources: Although meat sources tend to be higher in iron content and bioavailability (how well it is absorbed in the body), they are also an abundant amount of plant sources.
Lemon grass:  A delicious herb that is used in Asian cuisine. Lemon grass has nearly double the iron content than cooked spinach (another excellent source of iron). I will be posting some lemon grass recipes very soon!

Parsley: Whoever said that parsley’s only purpose is to be just a simple garnish was severely mistaken! Parsley also has nearly double the amount of iron than cooked spinach and is widely consumed in a Middle Eastern dish called tabbouleh. Stayed tuned for some new and innovative tabbouleh recipes!
Tip: When consuming iron from plant sources aka nonheme iron it is important to add vitamin C rich citrus juices (ascorbic acid) to help optimize absorption. Some foods that are high in vitamin C include lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit. Other foods that are high in vitamin C include bell peppers and sweet potatoes.

More info on Iron coming soon!

Best of Health,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trader Joes 100 Calorie Packs, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Allergen info: Contains wheat, gluten, eggs, soy and dairy. Processed with equipment that have contact with nuts.

Product Overall Rating: B

I’m sure many of you have seen the trend of 100 calorie snack packs in the grocery store and it looks like TJ’s has jumped onto the bandwagon with these cookies! They are actually a wonderful way of maintaining some portion control which many of us need when it comes to sweets! Each box comes with six individual packs and each pack comes with a total of about ten quarter size cookies.

The cookies overall are pretty good. They are crunchy as opposed to soft, chewy, or crumbly. The general flavor profile seems cohesive to the traditional cookie flavor. If you are not into chocolate chips overwhelming your cookie, then you are in luck! In contrast to the picture of the cookies on the box with several very substantial looking chocolate chips, the actual cookie’s chips are rather meager. They seem to have tiny fragments of chocolate instead of an entire chocolate chip.

The overall dietetic profile of the cookie is not fabulous but adequate compared the 100 calorie packs that one would see by more mainstream brands. The cookies have 1.5g of saturated fat (which isn’t too bad considering it is made with whole eggs) and of course, made with 0g of partially hydrogenated oils (always a positive in my book).  I do wish however that the cookies were made with a whole wheat flour (instead of an enriched wheat flour) to give it some fiber content. In conclusion, a perfect snack for someone with a sweet tooth who doesn’t want to go overboard.  If possible!


Would I purchase again: YES.

Palatability grade: B+

Potential for improvement: So, so.

Dietetic Profile: B

Overall Grade: B

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Product Review: Whole Foods 365 Greek Yogurt

Can I get a side of fruit puree with my lactic acid? You are probably wondering if it was that bad. Well, it was. 365 and 365 Organic are two of Whole Foods private label lines. Usually the products from this line (like many private label lines) are just more economical variations of products that sell well in the store such as cereal, chips, bottled water, and in this case, Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt has been a thriving trend in the yogurt and food industry. There is a slightly different process of its development leading Greek yogurts to be thicker, creamier, and have higher protein content than regular traditional yogurts. I even recently read that Chobani is one of the fastest growing food companies in the U.S. Why wouldn’t Whole Foods want a piece of it?
Let me start by saying 365 products are usually great. But their attempt at Greek Yogurt was an utter fail. First of all, I want to say that I probably got a bad batch, but then again probably not. Knowing that Whole Foods invested a good chunk of change into this venture, they obviously wouldn’t put their name on something without tasting it first. The yogurt was way over fermented (meaning, it was sour and not sour in a good way). Also, their choice of using 0% milk fat (I personally prefer 2% which I will later write an article on) made it even more disastrous. The one thing remotely good about this product is that the fruit topping is placed on the side similar to  the Fage split cups. I had the blueberry and pomegranate (yes, wonderful combo of antioxidants). Although I found the side to be overly sweet (with way too many unnecessary added sugars), I did like that it was in the form of a puree rather than dehydrated mushy fruit chunks. However, Whole Foods just simply missed the mark on this one.
Would I purchase again: NO.
Palatability Grade: D.
Potential for improvement: YES.
Overall Grade: D+

Thursday, June 14, 2012

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