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Finding the Right Gift in Every Price Range: A Healthy Holiday Gift Buying Guide

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the hardest part about finding the right gift is sifting through the stuff that is either too cheap or too expensive to fit what I’m looking for! Shopping by price, in many cases, is the easiest way to find exactly what I need. As we’ve highlighted on the blog before, The Wellness Spot, backed by NCES, is an easy place to find great gifts for the health enthusiast in your life! If you visit ShopWellnessSpot.com, you can browse the site by price. But, for all you blog lovers out there, here’s a little breakdown for you!

Stocking Stuffers: These items are priced low and will fit in most any stocking! Pick one or order all 3 to help Santa fill the stockings of your loved ones.

Freezie Mitts Water Infuser Dressing Lid
5535 Freezie Mitts 5328 Watr Infuser 5232 Dressing lid 1
Freezie Mitts let your kids enjoy their frozen treats with no mess, no drips and it keeps their little hands warm and clean. Simply slide onto any freezer pop or frozen yogurt, open and eat! Click here for Freezie Mitts Infuses water and teas with fruits and herbs. This ingeniously designed ball keeps seeds, pulp and other ingredients contained within while flavoring liquids. Fits most pitchers and is a healthy alternative to sugary drinks. BPA Free, Dishwasher Safe.Click here for the Water Infuser Don’t ruin your fresh, healthy salad with too much dressing! This Dressing Lid Measures one serving of salad dressing at a time!Click here for the Dressing Lid

 

Gifts for $20 or less: These gifts are great for co-workers, teachers, babysitters and anyone else you want to remember this holiday season!

Herb Savor Pod 2.0 Herb Shears Oil Mister
5531 Herb Savor 5533 Herb Shears 2 4931
Nothing makes your meals taste better than the freshest ingredients. The herb-savor pod will prolong the life of your fresh herbs for up to 3 weeks so you can enjoy fresh, flavorful meals every time you cook.Click here for more: The perfect tool for adding a burst of fresh flavor to any dish. Many recipes call for a final flourish of fresh herbs to be added just before serving. It’s now easier than ever with our 3-blade herb shears.Click here for more: Save calories! Use this mister to spray your pans, salads or foods with healthy oils and vinegars, with a clog-free filter. Ensures a thin, even coating of oil. BPA-Free.Click here for more:

 

Portion Plates Reusable Grocery Bag
NCES Portion Plate Sale 4535
NCES and The Wellness Spot offer a wide variety of portion plates to fit every need. From MyPlate inspired designs to elegant dinnerware, we’ve got you covered!Click here for more: Use this 100% recycled light weight yet heavy duty polyester bag to carry heavy loads, tackling any grocery store or shopping trip with ease.Click here for more:

 

Gifts over $20: These great gifts are sure to please every health enthusiast on your holiday shopping list this year!

iPrep iPad Holder Perfect Portions Food Scale
5422 Iprep 4832
The iPrep fits all popular tablets. This tablet stand fits all popular tablets in either portrait or landscape mode. A stylus is included to keep the screen clean of messy hands. A weighted base and non-slip rubber grip keep the stand planted where it belongs!Click here for more: It’s a scale and nutrition calculator in one. It is the most intuitive, easy-to-read nutritional scale on the market because it integrates the familiar Nutrition Label. Breaks down information into % daily values, tracks your daily total and even allows you to customize the scale by entering your own foods.Click here for more:

The Wellness Spot is a great place to find all the gifts you need this holiday season! If we can help you find anything, please Contact Us via email or phone (877.623.7266) so that we can help you find the perfect gift this season! Also, if you’re looking for some good savings, join the NCES Holi-Daily Deals email to save 50% on many great gifts from NCES and The Wellness Spot. We’ll be featuring a deal a day from now until Christmas! Happy Shopping!

 

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The 5 Most Amazing Tools to Have in Every Healthy Kitchen

We’ve all been there! We’re interested in preparing healthy snack and meals at home. But, we don’t have all the right tools. It seems like in order to get ourselves back in shape, we have to spend a lot of money getting our kitchens back in shape too. Based on the foods that wreak the most havoc on our waistlines, there are only a few essential items that you need in order to update your kitchen and lighten up your cooking.

Salad dressings are one of the most commonly overused foods. If we’re eating a salad, it’s healthy, no matter what we top it with, right? The truth is that salad dressings hide a lot of empty calories. So, limiting the amount used on a salad is a great way to cut back on overall calorie intake. Reusable dressing lids that measure portions make it super easy to watch portions and still enjoy your favorite dressings. This tool is also great for kids as they learn how much dressing they should be using on their salads.

NCES Healthy Step Pasta BasketI don’t know about you, but in my house pasta is a staple in many of our meals. It offers a great base for many vegetables and proteins. The key with pasta, like with any other food, is to keep an eye on your portions. The Healthy Steps Pasta Basket is perfectly sized for an individual portion. Plus, it hangs on the side of your pot of boiling water for easy draining when the pasta is done and collapses flat for easy storage after use. Truly, it doesn’t get much easier than that!

The Perfect Portions Food Scale also makes keeping an eye on portions easier. Not only will it weigh your foods before you add them to your favorite recipes, it will also give you the nutrition information for that food, including calories, fat grams, protein and much more. It’s like having your own personalized nutrition label for any amount of any food!

The best way to add flavor to any dish is by using fresh herbs. Cooked in to your favorite recipe or cut fresh on top of a salad, herbs are a great low (or no) calorie addition. If you don’t use them quickly enough though, they tend to go bad. The Herb Savor Pod stores them neatly and also helps to keep them fresher longer, prolonging their life by up to 3 weeks.

And, finally, no healthy kitchen is complete without this hands-free countertop tool, the iPrep iPad Holder. As technology changes, printed cookbooks are quickly becoming ‘so 1995’. In their place are online recipes, meal planning sites and digital cookbooks. What’s better to access them from than an iPad? But, those mini computers aren’t cheap so you don’t want it setting on your counter with all of your ingredients while you’re cooking. Instead, have it safe and secure in the iPrep holder for easy recipe viewing. It also comes with a stylus so you don’t have to touch the screen with dirty, meal prepping hands. It’s basically the cookbook holder of 2014!

Cooking healthy meals can be a lot of work. However, with the right tools, you can really simplify the process. The Wellness Spot, backed by NCES, offers an entire line of products just like you’ve seen in this blog. We chose these five as essentials for every healthy kitchen, but there are many more available to browse through by category. If you have any ideas for healthy products that should be featured on The Wellness Spot, send them in and we’ll see about getting them added. We hope you enjoy your new tools and your healthier kitchen!

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Choosing Between Fad Diets and a Healthy Lifestyle

NCES Food Models“You can’t eat carbs 2 days of the week” or “Just eat our 6 pre-portioned snacks and meals each day to lose 7 pounds in 1 week”. We’ve all heard them… the claims from all the fad diet promoters. Many of them are easy to spot and we do our best to avoid them. Or at least I hope that’s the case. However, some are a little trickier to identify. Here are 3 quick tips to help you spot a fad diet before you endure the roller coaster that is “fad-diet weight loss” again!

  1. Are they promising that you’ll lose 5-7 pounds each week? Experts recommend losing 1-2 pounds per week to maintain healthy body function and to avoid rebound weight gain.
  2. Is it so simple that it requires no thought to participate? Making healthy choices is about education and understanding what you’re eating. If everything is perfectly pre-portioned for you, you’ll never learn the basics of healthy eating. Dieting is about more than just weight loss! It’s about learning how you became overweight to begin with. It’s also about understanding the foods you eat and the impact they have on your body.
  3. Can you maintain this new ‘diet’ for a lifetime? Sure, it sounds easy enough to avoid restaurants and eat strictly fruits and vegetables for a 7 day cleanse. But, can you continue that for a lifetime? Odds are you can’t. So, as soon as you go back to your everyday life, you’ll jump right back in to your same old eating habits.

 To sum it all up, you’re looking for a diet that represents a lifestyle change. One that you can carry on through your lifetime! Make your weight loss about the journey, not just the destination. When you’re thinking about your food choices, don’t just consider the affects it will have on your weight, but your body as a whole. How does it support overall health and longevity?

Finding a diet that fits your personality and goals is very important! Focusing on the USDA’s MyPlate and dietary guidelines is a great place to start. For dietitians looking to help patients understand proper nutrition and portion control, NCES food models are the perfect nutrition education resource! I hope these tips help you and your clients choose healthy diets that will last a lifetime.

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3 Ways to ‘Healthify’ your Breakfast Cereal for the Best Start

NCES Healthy Breakfast CerealAs you probably already know, we love celebrating ‘healthy’ days throughout the year! We’re big fans of the UNL Food Calendar and use many of the days they highlight to bring attention to different nutrition topics. This week is National School Breakfast Week, which also happens to coincide with Cereal Day (tomorrow). So, to further the message of creating a healthy breakfast, we’ve compiled our RD’s tips for the best ways to make the most of your breakfast cereal.

Many RD’s tend to shun breakfast cereals. It’s really not surprising given all the added sugar, empty carbs and deceitful marketing surrounding popular cereals. However, there are many companies out there fighting to provide healthy breakfast cereal options. Plus, by using some of our tips below, you can really beef up your breakfast cereal to a level that will please any dietitian.

  1. Don’t skip reading the nutrition label. All cereals are not created equal. And, just because the image or text on the front of the box implies that the cereal is a healthy way to start the day, you still need to read the label. Look for things like:
    1. Whole Grains: Check the ingredients label to see if the first ingredient is a whole grain.  If the first ingredient is enriched or refined whole grain then it’s best to but it back on the shelf.
    2. Low-Sugar: You are looking for cereals with 15 grams or less of sugar per serving
    3. High fiber to jump start your metabolism and help your body process food
    4. Protein to keep you full and fuel your body through the morning
  2. Stick to the serving size. Most cereal serving sizes are between ¾ and 1 cup. However, most cereal bowls easily lend themselves to servings at least double that size. Use a measuring cup, or one of our NCES Right-Sized Portion Bowls to keep your cereal portions in check.
  3. Full your bowl with nutritious add-ins. Fruit like bananas and strawberries, as well as nuts and dried fruits like blueberries help to provide the fuel your body needs to get through the morning. Since you’re focusing on cereal portions now, you’re bowl may look a little emptier than your used to. So, fill it up with fresh, filling options!

Breakfast tends to be one of the hardest meals for many Americans. Mornings are busy and donuts are easy. However, understanding how different foods can fuel your body for the day will help you build the best cereal. Cereal isn’t the only way to start your day either! When you’re choosing breakfast foods, focus on these same tips. Protein and Fiber will help you start the day strong, making foods like eggs and peanut butter a good choice. Just remember to focus on portion control. How you start your morning can determine your attitude about eating for the rest of the day.

For more great tips on starting your day with a healthy breakfast, check out the NCES “Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day” video, available as a Lunch N Learn Presentation or on DVD.

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Create Your Best Thanksgiving Menu Yet

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe MenuIt’s finally here! Although Thanksgiving is rolling in a little later this year, if you’re like me, it still found a way to sneak right up. It’s pretty easy to cook the same foods that you’ve been cooking for the last 20 years. Even though you keep thinking that one of these year’s you’ll lighten up your Thanksgiving meal, time gets away and looking up new recipes just gets pushed off until next year… again! So, to make it a little easier, we’ve pulled together our list of favorite sites to find lighter versions of your favorite Thanksgiving classics.

It’s important to remember that the key to a healthy Thanksgiving plate is still portion control. Although adding lighter, healthier ingredients to your foods is a great addition to a healthy diet, portion control is still very important. TIP: Fill your plate with your favorite fruits and vegetables. Then, fill in the holes with those other foods that you wait all year to enjoy. And, remember, don’t be too hard on yourself. Enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving foods on Thanksgiving. Just remember to get back to your healthy daily eating habits quickly after the holiday!

Mayo Clinic: As a trusted professional in health and medicine, the Mayo Clinic is a great place to turn when looking for health information. They have incorporated some great healthy Thanksgiving recipes in to their site. Sorted by dish, they are easy to search and find.

Simply Organic: Offering a full line of organic seasonings, Simply Organic has created a website chocked full of healthy renditions on many holiday classics. Plus, you can bank on the fact that the recipes will be full of flavor!

Eating Well: There motto is “Where good food meets good health” and they aren’t kidding! These guys have put together a great resource for healthy cooking with recipes, menus and news. Thanksgiving is no exception… you’ll find some great recipes. Including a healthy spin on one of my favorites, green bean casserole.

Readers Digest: We’ve been turning to Readers Digest for everything, including the best holiday recipes for years. Now, you can get healthy recipe ideas from them too! If you’re looking for a side dish, this is the place to go!

EatRight.org: Of course the dietitians over at the Academy have great resources for every holiday, event, age and topic. They’ve also put together a little shopping guide for Thanksgiving. It’s not a lot. But, it’s got a few tips for shopping with a healthy Thanksgiving meal in mind.

Pinterest: Of course, every recipe imaginable can be found on the new super recipe book… Pinterest. I’m a huge fan of this Healthy Thanksgiving board by Brittany Mullins though. If I had the time, I would try EVERY single one of these recipes. Maybe if we split it up, we can cook through this board together!

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Tips for Packing School Lunches

With back to school season in full swing, packing school lunches is on the brains of many parents. With all of the debate and discussions surrounding school lunches, more and more parents are taking on the responsibility of packing their child’s lunch rather than purchasing through the school lunch program. Although many school lunch programs have made great strides recently to provide healthier options to students, the reality is that many still fall short due to factors like a lack of funding or inappropriate standards set for the lunch program. By packing a student’s lunch, parents can rest assured about what their child is eating each day while they are at school. But, is this really beneficial? Many parents don’t always know how to choose the right foods that will fuel their child through the entire school day. Look at what many adults choose to eat on a daily basis; it’s not hard to see where parents may not always be equipped to make the best choices for school lunches. That’s where it’s our role as dietitians to educate parents on making healthy food choices; both for the parents and for their children.

As many of us already know, packing school lunches on a daily basis is a huge commitment. If you take the time to make sure that your children are getting the right amount of foods from each food group, changing up meal options enough to keep them excited and keeping the pantry stocked with all the right foods to make it happen, you quickly find that it’s much easier to just have your child purchase a school lunch. But, we’ve got a couple of tips to ease the burden and make this important task a seamless part of your everyday schedule. As a dietitian, these are great tips to share with clients.

  1. Create a Plan: If you’re the type of person who thrives on a schedule, make a meal plan a week or two in advance. If you have a list of common meals that your family enjoys, you can just pull from that list to fill your meal plan. Be sure that you have slots for each food group under every meal. Fill these slots with MyPlate in mind to create a balanced plate for every meal. Then, use your meal plan to create a grocery list. You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to look at your meal plan and make what it says. There’s no guessing or thinking involved. You just read it and do it!
  2. Pack Meals in Advance: Depending on the lunches you’ve chosen, you can prepare the meals ahead of time. Many times you can take some time on Sunday afternoon and get all your lunches for the week packed and ready to go. If you’ve chosen fresher options, it may be a little more difficult. But, always plan to pack lunches in the evening so you can simply ‘grab n go’ in the morning.
  3. Always Remember MyPlate: Sometimes it’s hard to look at a blank slate and start filling in a meal plan or packing a school lunch. But, if you keep a copy of MyPlate hanging in your kitchen, just begin going around the plate choosing foods that fit in each food group. For example, as I go around the plate, I can easily fill it with 1 slice of whole wheat toast, peanut butter, green beans and grapes. Top it off with a glass of milk or yogurt and voila, we have a full meal that is packed with everything a student needs to stay energized throughout their day at school.

Like I said before, packing school lunches for your family is a commitment. But, once you get in the swing of it, it will become second nature! Be sure to utilize all the different resources available online that make packing school lunches easier. In fact, some of them will even create balanced meal plans for you if you don’t have the time or energy to create your own. Until next time, here’s to healthy lunches and happy families!

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Diabetes Plate Tackles Diabetes Education

Did you know that 25.8 million Americans are living with diabetes? Some are diagnosed and some still undiagnosed. And, unfortunately, this number is not shrinking. In 2010, 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 and over.** Not only is this a problem for the individual suffering from diabetes, it’s a problem for all of us as a society. How can we educate people on the causes and effects of diabetes? How can we take a population that is living with diabetes and get them back on the right track? How can we take a generation that is being raised addicted to food and teach them about healthy eating habits? Educate!

diabetes plateProviding education and the right tools is the best thing we can do. In the upcoming Fall 2013 edition of the NCES catalog, we’ve focused on diabetes prevention and education with our new products. Our new Right-Sized Diabetes Plate is designed specifically with the diabetic in mind. On this plate, our dietitians have tackled the major issues facing diabetics and given them tools to manage their diabetes right on the plate.

  • Portion Control: This is a very important consideration for all of us, but especially for a person with diabetes. Keeping blood sugars in check often means only eating proper portions of foods from each food group.
  • Carbohydrate Counting: More than just watching portions, a person with diabetes must keep track of the carbohydrates they consume. Because carbs play such a huge roll in blood sugar levels, monitoring carb intake helps a diabetic control their highs and lows.
  • Physical Activity: Managing diabetes through diet is only part of the equation. Maintaining a healthy weight and building a strong body is reliant on getting the recommended amount of physical activity.

The NCES Right-Sized Diabetes Plate combines these three concepts in to a visually appealing plate that can be used on a daily basis to help a person living with diabetes remember how to manage their diabetes through diet and exercise.

This plate and other new diabetes related products have been added to our growing Diabetes section in the catalog and at www.NCEScatalog.com. Take a second to view the diabetes section here today. Do you have ideas for us to add to the Diabetes section? Please share your ideas on Facebook, Twitter or email them to us at info@ncescatalog.com.

**Source: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/