Author: Morgan Curless
It’s Spring and gardens all over are popping up. We love the beautiful flowers and fresh produce that come from our garden, however, it's key we ensure that the soil used is nutrient-dense enough to grow bountiful products. Compost soil is an amazing way to minimize food waste, while also adding a variety of nutrients needed into the soil.
What Can be composted:
All of these items can be broken down and used for soil. Composting can be done directly in the back yard and turned daily to promote breakdown. Composting has not only growing benefits, but also earthly benefits. Typically, waste is sent to a landfill when not composted. During decomposition in the landfill a toxic gas, methane, is released into the air. Composting is a biological process that does not release methane, reducing the toxicity in the air we breathe. Composting is an excellent way to improve the quality of our garden, while also improving our environment.
Each time I cut the top off of a carrot or dump my coffee grounds into the trash I consider the possibility of composting, and potential for my waste to become something more than just trash. I currently live on the second floor of an apartment complex and have no way to build a compost pile, nor the time to maintain it even if I did. There was once very little one could do with their compostable waste in this type of living situation. Now, there are multiple solutions from community gardens to services like CompostNow, that offers composting services.
We can’t help but geek out over the idea of nutrient-cycling and replenishing lost nutrients back into the soil. Composting our waste products is a great way to not only reduce our carbon foot print, but also ensure the nutrient profile is maximized in the produce we are feeding ourselves and our families.
Author: Savannah Weeks
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), “a food allergy is defined as an adverse health effect arising from a specific immune response that occurs reproducibly on exposure to a given food.” Prevalence of food allergies has increased significantly over the past decade and is an important health issue for millions of Americans. However, false or clinically irrelevant positive allergy tests for foods are common. Indiscriminate and non-evidence-based screenings often lead to unnecessary dietary restriction.
Specifically, tests such as allergen-specific IgG are not supported by evidence and should not be used to diagnose food allergies. Only serum IgE tests and double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges can be used to diagnose food allergies. Many serum samples show positive IgG results for foods that cause no clinical symptoms in patients. There are no controlled studies demonstrating the diagnostic value of IgG testing in food allergy. IgG results indicate that someone has been repeatedly exposed to food components, recognized as foreign proteins by the immune system. This does not mean that the person is hypersensitive to the food component, but rather that there is immunological tolerance. It merely shows a normal physiological response of the immune system after exposure to food components.
Food allergies can be frightening and serious, but they are still rare. It’s estimated that >20% of the population is modifying their diet due to a perceived food allergy, but it is estimated that only 4% of adults have true food allergies. Unnecessary dietary restriction can lead to nutrient deficiencies, lower quality of life, and decreased enjoyment of food. If you suspect you might have a food allergy, talk to your doctor and avoid testing from any non-medical professional.
April is Eat Local month and we love supporting our local farmers and locally sourced restaurants. Although the eating choices in Charleston are endless, eating local may not be as infinite. Today, we live in a world where almost anything we want as consumers is within reach. A fresh lobster dinner can be shipped overnight straight to our door step if we so wish. While such having access is convenient, the benefits may not ring true for local farmers, small business owners, and even our planet.
For example, imagine having a shrimp dinner in Illinois. This shrimp did not come out of the Illinois River. Instead, it traveled hundreds of miles before it landed on your dinner plate. When you think deeper into this meal you may find that the shrimp was mass harvested, packaged multiple times and transported using multiple methods. While our jobs are truly to keep things as simple and easy for our clients as possible it terms of food, it is always good to remind you of the benefits of consuming products that are produced near your own community. In the end, you'll most likely get a superior product, reduce your carbon foot print and support local businesses.
Here are some ways you can eat local while supporting your community:
Opting to buy grocery items such as fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, bread and many other locally grown products is an easy way to buy and eat local. Buying from a local farmer ensures freshness and likely contains more nutrients than commercially grown products. There are even some health benefits from certain local products such as honey.
Locally Sourced Restaurants
I encourage you to ask questions and find wha restaurants near you source their food from local farmers. There are many here in Charleston, SC that are willing to buy local foods and follow this “Farm-To-Table” approach. These restaurants typically have more whole food options, leading them to have more healthy food options to choose from. It is important to remember that even if you live near the ocean, that doesn’t mean that the fish you are eating was sourced from your own region. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter questions about where the menu was sourced as this has become acceptable restaurant etiquette.
While there are many perks to eating local, the concept also keeps more money in your local economy. Supporting small businesses allows them to keep their doors open, feed their families, and also provide more choices for consumers. So, next time you brainstorm where your next meal is coming from, choose to eat local!
There are millions of food-related products out there. Here are some of the go-to items to we frequently recommend to our clients. They are listed below in order of frequency of use. Enjoy!
Digital Food Thermometer: We like this one because you can put the probe in the food and the digital screen that stays on the outside of the oven/grill will tell you when it has reached the proper internal temperature.
Meal Planning Sheets: These make it simple to plan meals for the week and keep track of your grocery list.
Anchor Glass Food Storage: Glass storage containers that are safe for the oven, microwave, dishwasher, and freezer...yes please!
Bentgo Lunch Box: Perfect for kids and adults to take meals to school/work/on the road
YUMBOX Mini: This is a smaller size meal/snack box. Perfect for younger kids or to hold your snacks for the day.
Snack Stacker: Fun way to keep snacks handy and properly portioned.
Instant Pot: Multipurpose tool and great for quick dinners.
Nutri Bullet: You can do A LOT with this little apparatus! Our uses go beyond smoothies to grinding coffee beans and spices!
Vitamix: Kitchen must have! Smoothies, soups, sauces and much more come together quickly in this product. The refurbished product still comes with a warranty and you'll save some money.
Spiral Vegetable Cutter: This spiralizer is easy to use and can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Great way to add more veggies to meals.
Dinnertime Survival Guide: Great book that provides recipes + good tips for getting healthy food on the table without a lot of stress!
Hidrate Spark Smart Water Bottle: Glows to help remind you to stay hydrated and integrates with FitBit and other activity trackers.
Kitchen Aid Mixer: Another kitchen must have. This piece of equipment will last forever. You can purchase optional attachments including a spiralizer, food processor, pasta maker and more!
We all know the temptation that comes with passing a Sonic Drive Thru between the hours of 2 and 4 pm on a sunny and 75 degree spring day. The thought of a fruity, sweet, refreshing slushy treat is sometimes too great to pass up, and sometimes you shouldn't. However, we can't always pull in. For one, we'd all be broke. Second, those delicious drinks pack a punch of added sugar (even more than a regular soda). If you still have the craving for a refreshing afternoon treat, but don’t want to meet or exceed your daily sugar total in one slurp, try this more nutrient-dense, less-sugary alternative instead.
Spring Slush Recipe
4-5 medium strawberries
5 chunks of pineapple (medium-large diced)
5-6 ice cubes
Juice from ¼ fresh lemon or lime
1 ½ cups liquid (water, flavored water, sports drink or combination)
Simply put all your ingredients in a blender, “bullet”, or food processor-type device, and blend away! You will even get a little frothy/foam on top! Sip through a straw, or use a spoon; the consistency is up to you! This recipe creates a refreshing drink as a fun alternative to your average fruit-infused water choices. I love having the option to squeeze in an extra serving of fruit rather than my day’s worth of sugar. Experiment with your flavors you love, and find your favorite version of your Spring Slush!
Author: Kelly Burgess, MUSC Dietetic Intern