Meijer and Clear Channel Dayton know that this is the time to start looking out for yourself in a healthy and positive way. Join us for a more healthier and happier 2013 as we present The MEIJER Healthy Living page.
Janine Faber, MEd, RD, LD, Meijer Dietitian and Healthy Living Advisor
For more information, visit www.meijermealbox.com.
Question: My question is about NuVal ratings - I came across one I didn't understand. I was comparing different types of Silk Almond Milk and the original sweetened flavor rated 81 while the unsweetened vanilla only rated 25. The original unsweetened did not have a rating on the tag. Why would the sweetened version rate so much higher than the unsweetened? The rest of the ingredients, except for the cane sugar and vanilla, looked the same to me. I use the NuVal ratings regularly to help me make healthier purchase decisions and this one didn't make sense to me.
Answer: You are right - those NuVal scores are confusing. I emailed the dietitians at NuVal and this was their response:
According to our database, 4 of 5 UPC’s you listed are scored.
Silk Pure Almond Milk – Vanilla (UPC 025293000995) Score 48
Silk Pure Almond Milk – Dark Chocolate (UPC 025293001190) Score 39
Silk Pure Almond Milk – Unsweetened Original (UPC 025293001497) No Score
Silk Pure Almond Milk – Original (UPC 025293000988) Score 81
Silk Pure Almond Milk – Unsweetened Vanilla (UPC 025293001367) Score 25
After further review of these products by our team of dietitians, it was found that the reason the unsweetened versions of this almond milk score lower than the sweetened versions is because of the protein value in relation to the amount of calories. To explain a little deeper, the current algorithm has a rule that states that the protein value will be nulled if the product contains less than 15 calories per 100g. In this case, the reason the sweetened versions score higher is due to the fact that the added sugar also increased the calories, and therefore protein was counted. In instances such as these (which are few and far between), the application of this rule has a confusing impact on the final score. Therefore, we have decided to remove the score from this UPC so as to not confuse consumers. This has been brought to the attention of Dr. Katz, and is something we are currently looking into fixing.
As always, we appreciate your attention to detail, and we thank you for bringing this to our attention
This just shows how complex the algorithm is. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
Question: My son cannot eat foods that contain gluten. How can I find gluten-free foods at Meijer for my son’s school lunches?
Answer: Simply look for the ‘GF’ blue circular icons on Meijer Brand products and refer to our newly updated Meijer Brand Gluten-Free Product List (available on www.meijermealbox.com/healthy-living). This list identifies Meijer Brand products that, to the best of our knowledge, are gluten-free. This list does not contain all gluten-free products available at Meijer and is supplied only as a guide to assist you in shopping. You should always confirm the status on the label and ingredient statement of the product.
If the Meijer Brand product label does not have the ‘GF’ circular icon, you may find ‘gluten-free’ stated by the product’s ingredient statement. Naturally gluten-free products may include the statement “a gluten-free food".
In addition, on the website, there is a link to the Gluten-Free Section, Grocery Dept. - National Brand List (a list of gluten-free National Brand items we carry in the gluten-free sections of many of our stores). Both lists are updated online quarterly.
Gluten-free recipes can be found on the Meijer Mealbox website at www.meijermealbox.com. Simply click on the recipes tab in the blue box on the right side. Then, click on the diet tab. Scroll down to access the gluten-free recipes
Question: I have the Easy Meals, Healthy Families booklet. On page 5 it says I can print out more weekly meal planners and shopping list templates at the Meijer Mealbox website. I haven't found how to do that on the site. How can I do that?
Answer: The Easy Meals, Healthy Families booklet is a great resource! You can download more copies of the weekly shopping list and weekly meal planner on our Meijer Mealbox website at www.meijermealbox.com. Underneath the picture of the Healthy Living Team is a picture of the Easy Meals, Healthy Families booklet. In this area, you will see a link to “’print weekly shopping list’ and ‘print weekly meal planner’.
Another great part of our website is the Weekly Nutritious Menu under “Meal Planning” on the right-hand side of the website. Each week, we take items on sale at Meijer and put them in to a dinner menu, shopping list and recipes. This may help with ideas for dinners throughout the week.
Question: I was just diagnosed with celiac disease and I have to go gluten free. Do you have gluten free sections in your stores? Also, I was informed that all meats are gluten free. I'm not sure if you have a specific list but if you do and could send me it that would be great. Thanks for your time
Answer: We do have a Meijer Brand Gluten-Free List on our Meijer Healthy Living website at www.meijerhealthyliving.com It is under the heading ‘Special Diets’. This will help to locate some Meijer Brand gluten-free products around our stores. We are currently in the process of updating the list and information, so it will be a few weeks/months before the new list is posted. The new list will then be updated on a quarterly basis. We are trying to make gluten-free shopping easier for our customers.
You are right - we do have gluten-free sections in our stores. The gluten-free products are dispersed in the aisles near similar products, so we have different gluten-free areas - baking aisle, frozen foods area, etc. A large amount of gluten-free products are in our baking aisle. We have recently expanded our gluten-free offerings because of the interest of our customers.
You are right-the fresh meat (without breading, stuffing, etc) is gluten-free, as is the produce. In the gluten-free section on our Healthy Living website, there is currently a resource page that you may find helpful. It lists cookbooks, websites and other resources for people with Celiac Disease.
Question: I am on a low salt diet (2,000mg a day) and I shop at Meijer. Can you suggest a low sodium bread, low sodium pasta and low sodium tomato sauce?
Answer: I would be happy to help you. Please see my suggestions below:
For pasta: Most dry pastas are low in sodium or even sodium-free. I would recommend the whole wheat pasta and not salting the water when cooking your pasta to help keep the sodium content low.
For bread: Aunt Millie's Light 100% Whole Wheat Bread or Light Whole Grain Bread is low in sodium. One slice contains 95mg of sodium and 40 calories. Two additional options include Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat Bread or Whole Grain Bread which contain 105mg sodium per slice.
As for tomato sauce, Hunt's and Muir Glen offer No Salt Added Tomato Sauce. If you are looking for pasta sauce, Prego Heart Smart Traditional pasta sauce had the least amount of sodium that I could find at 360mg for a half cup. I would suggest making your own pasta sauce with Hunt’s No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes. The diced tomatoes contain 15mg of sodium and the Hunt's No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic and Oregano contains 25mg of sodium. The base of your sauce can be the diced tomatoes and then you can add your favorite fresh, chopped vegetables, such as mushrooms, spinach and bell peppers.
Question: I am trying to lose weight. How many calories should I eat each day?
Answer: WebMD has a good food and fitness planner available at this link: http://www.webmd.com/diet/food-fitness-planner/default.htm. Just fill in your information (gender, height, weight, age) and the site will guide you. Good luck!
Question: I am looking for the recipe for pea soup that used to be on the package of Meijer brand split peas. Think you can help?
Answer: One of our Meijer team members searched for the recipe and we think we found it! Please see the Split Pea Soup recipe below. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy a nice, warm bowl of soup for dinner. I would serve it with a dark, green leafy salad with sliced apples or pears and a whole grain roll.
Split Pea Soup
2 Cups dried peas
2 qt. water
1 ham bone
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup dried carrots
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp. thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and sort peas; add water. Bring to boiling, simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour. Add ham bone, vegetables, bay leaf and thyme; heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until peas are soft. Remove bone; cut off meat and dice. If desired, put vegetable mixture through a food mill, blender or sieve. Return meat to soup; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Question: I need to make some lifestyle changes due to a recent diagnosis of diabetes. I would like to utilize your Weekly Menus. Without a working knowledge of nutrition labels, will the weekly menu meet my goal of a 1900 calorie intake mindful of my diabetes?
Answer: Our Weekly Nutritious Menus are a great resource to use. These menus are just dinner menus, so they would not include menus/ideas for breakfasts, lunches and snacks. However, they are a great starting resource. They can help you plan a balanced dinner. Plus, they have the calorie and carbohydrate amounts for the meal listed below the meal. The calories average between 400-600 calories for the dinners. This will help to give you an idea of the number of calories and carbohydrates you have left for breakfast, lunch and snacks so you can adjust the menu and meal accordingly.
We also have a dietitian-authored guidebook online at www.meijermealbox/healthy-living.
This may be a helpful resource for you. It has recipes and general information on diabetes management. Plus, on the same website under “Advice from the Advisors”, click on the link to the Healthy Living booklets. This site houses our past Healthy Living Naturally booklets and some of them had a focus on diabetes.
Another great tool to help you choose healthier food options is NuVal, our nutritional scoring system. NuVal scores foods from 1-100. The higher the NuVal score, the healthier the product. You can find the NuVal score for products on the shelf tag - right by the price of the product. NuVal makes it easier to compare yogurt to yogurt, meat to meat, cereal to cereal and snack food to snack food.
With your recent diagnosis, another good website/resource is the American Diabetes Association website at www.diabetes.org. They have information on using your plate as a guide to healthy eating, tips on choosing healthier foods and general information for making healthy changes.
I would also highly recommend meeting with a dietitian in your area to discuss more ideas to help manage your diabetes.
Question: My son is 6 years old. His main staples are chicken nuggets, hot dogs, pizza, cheese, and eggs. I have a terrible time getting him to try any new, nutritious foods. What is the best way to get him to try new foods and do you have any kid friendly recipes?
Answer: To help your son try new, nutritious foods, involve him in the planning, shopping and prepping of meals. Bring him to the store with you when you shop (I know it can be hard!), but involve him in your decision of choosing produce items. Show him how you can tell when an avocado is ripe, or how to choose an apple or grapefruit. Ask him about the color and smell of the items. You can also teach him about NuVal, our nutritional scoring system. The higher the NuVal score, the healthier the product. The NuVal score is at every Meijer store and can be found on the shelf tag of food products. He can help choose the higher scoring cereal or snack foods that are healthier for him.
Also, let your son help you when you are preparing meals and snacks. Make fun scenes with the produce items (snowmen for the winter or sun for the summer, etc) and have fun with it. Cut sandwiches in to shapes using cookie cutters. And don’t forget – being a good role model! If your son sees you eating chicken nuggets and pizza, he will want to do the same. If he sees you eating fruits and vegetables, he will be more tempted to try produce items.
For fun recipes, visit our Meijer Pinterest page. We have a lot of kid-friendly recipes and tips to encourage kids to eat healthier. Other recipes can be found on meijermealbox.com.
Question: I posted in the "Ask Janine" question box about a month ago asking if there were any ways that Meijer makes it easier for customers to choose healthy food options. In your reply you told me about NuVal, and since then I have been taking full advantage of this very helpful system. As an average college student I don't really have a lot of time to read every single nutritional label on the foods that I buy, so the NuVal scores have made it significantly easier for me to decide between different brands and even flavors. Something that I am curious about, however, is if there is a specific way to get an estimated score for a recipe with multiple ingredients that all have different scores. Is there a way to average the scores? Or should I just look at all the scores and use them to get a rough idea?
Answer: I am glad to hear you are finding NuVal helpful when shopping for healthier products at our stores!
At this time, there is not a specific way to get an estimated score for a recipe with multiple ingredients that all have different scores. However, the NuVal company is working on such a "formula". Until they inform us of this "formula", I would suggest looking at all of the scores of the ingredients and the amounts of each ingredient to get a rough idea. Remember that NuVal is all about balance.
Question: My husband was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. What are some good cereal choices for him to have for breakfast?
Answer: Here are a few tips from the American Diabetes Association to help you make better cereal choices:
• The best cereals will be made mostly with whole grains. Check to see if a whole grain, like whole wheat flour or whole oats, is listed as the first ingredient on the nutrition label.
• Check the nutrition label for the amount of fiber. Look for whole grain or bran cereals that have 3 or more grams of fiber per serving. If you can find a cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving, that is considered an excellent source of fiber and is probably a good choice!
• The best cereals are a good source of whole grains and fiber, while also being low in added sugars.
• Even if you buy a healthier cereal, it is still important to watch portion size and consider carbohydrates you are eating. All cereals (and milk) contain carbohydrates and will raise blood glucose.
• Opt to use skim,1/2 %, 1% milk in your cereal. Unflavored regular soy milk or light soy milk are also good choices.
• Become familiar with what a serving size of cereal looks like in your bowls at home. Research has shown that the bigger the bowl or plate we have, the more we will serve ourselves. You don’t have to measure every day, but it may be a good idea to check yourself and re-measure once in a while.
Two good, specific options are Shredded Wheat or oatmeal (the old fashioned or quick cooking, not the instant with the added sugars). One idea is to top your oatmeal with a few chopped walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Also, at Meijer, we have a nutritional scoring system, NuVal, that can also assist you and your husband in finding healthier cereals. NuVal looks at over 30 different nutrients in a food product and boils the information down in to one single value between 1 and 100. The higher the number, the healthier the product. Simply look for NuVal scores on Meijer Brand and National Brand shelf tags (by the price). NuVal takes in to account fiber and the glycemic load, so it is a good starting tool for people with diabetes. Shredded Wheat is one of the highest scoring cereals with a value of 91.
For more information on the management of diabetes, please feel free to view our diabetes videos on www.meijermealbox.com on the "videos" tab.
Question: Do you have any ideas for ways I can make my holiday breads and cookies healthier?
Answer: Making a few little changes can help boost the nutrition of your holiday breads, muffins and cookies. Try these ideas below. For more recipes and ideas, visit meiijermealbox.com and the Meijer Pinterest “Taste of Christmas” page. Enjoy the tastes of the holiday season!
a. Use white whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour (whole grain bonus)
b. Sneak in ground flaxseed and / or oats
c. Boost the flavor and antioxidants by adding chopped dried fruit such as apricots, cherries, cranberries, dates, prunes or raisins
Question: I am the cook of the family. Do you have any advice on how to prepare meals for my family while not completely blowing the family budget?
Answer: Our Weekly Nutritious Menu is a free resource that saves you time and money by planning easy dinner menus. The menus are assembled by Meijer Registered Dietitians and are based on weekly sale items found at Meijer. For a family of four, each meal is under $10. The meals include variety and balance with nutrition in mind. Access the weekly menu at www.meijermealbox.com/healthy-living.
NuValTM: Our nutritional scoring system helps you find the most nutrition for your money. Look for NuValTM scores on product shelf tags - the higher the number between 1-100, the healthier the product.
MPerks: Our digital coupon program offers coupons for items including fruits and vegetables. Sign up at www.mperks.meijer.com.
Meijermealbox.com: Search for a variety of recipes from casseroles to side dishes.
Question: I am hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year. Do you have any tips for buying and cooking the turkey?
Answer: Here are tips to tackle the turkey dinner. Meijer has all of the food and equipment you need to make a delicious holiday meal for your family. Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving
Purchase: 1 pound of uncooked turkey per person and, if desired, an additional 1/2 pound per person for leftovers. If everybody prefers white meat, you’ll need a slightly larger bird. Alternately, you can purchase a turkey breast to roast along with your whole turkey to please the white meat eaters.
Defrost: Never thaw at room-temperature; this promotes can bacterial growth (cooking can kill bacteria, but not the potential by-products/toxins the bacteria produce while the bird sits at room temperature).
In the fridge: Place wrapped, frozen turkey on a baking tray, breast side up. Place in refrigerator and allow about 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds. A 20-pound frozen turkey will take four to five days to thaw completely.
In water: If you're pinched for time, submerge the frozen, wrapped turkey in cold water to cover, changing the water every 30 minutes. It will take about 30 minutes per pound to thaw.
• A thawed turkey will keep up to two days in the refrigerator before roasting.
Cook: Cover turkey breast with foil. For a fresh or thawed turkey roast at 325 to 350 degrees F, approx. 12-15 minutes per pound unstuffed, or 18-20 minutes per pound stuffed. Fresh turkeys may cook more quickly (10-12 minutes per pound unstuffed) than defrosted turkeys.
8 to 12 pounds: 2 3/4 to 3 hours unstuffed; 3 to 3 1/2 hours stuffed
12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours unstuffed; 3 1/2 to 4 hours stuffed
14 to 18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours unstuffed; 4 to 4 1/2 hours stuffed
20 to 24 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 hours unstuffed; 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours stuffed
Remove foil from turkey breast and baste frequently during the last 45 minutes to 1 hour of roasting time.
It's Done: when the internal temperature of the thigh is 180 degrees and the center of the stuffing is 160 degrees.
Let the turkey stand: Wait 20 to 30 minutes before carving, to retain juices and to make carving easier. Use a very sharp knife or electric knife to carve turkey.
Frying: Smaller turkeys (14 lbs or under) are best for frying. Thaw turkey completely before cooking. Heat frying oil (peanut oil is recommended) to 375 degrees, pat turkey dry with paper towel and add to fryer. Leave approx. 3 inches space between oil level and top of fryer while cooking your turkey to avoid oil bubbling over top of fryer. Cook 3-4 minutes per pound, until internal temperature of the thigh is 180 degrees.
Brining: Brining will add flavor and improve texture in even the least expensive birds. Use 1 cup Kosher salt per gallon (4 qts) water (if substituting table salt, use 1/2 to 3/4 cup per gallon water). Add herbs to water, if desired. Rosemary, thyme, chili peppers can all add flavor to your turkey. Some chefs also add 1/2-1 Cup brown sugar to brine water. Place turkey in a deep contained, breast down. Cover with brine. Cover container and refrigerate and soak:
Less than 12 pound turkey: Less than 12 hours
12-19 pound turkey: 12 hours
20+ pound turkey: 12-24 hours
Remove from brine and pat dry and roast as desired. Discard brine water and sanitize brine container.
Time Savers: You can shave at least two hours from cooking time by cooking turkey in
parts rather than cooking the whole bird.
Roasting bags will also cut down the cooking time for your holiday turkey, with the added bonus of increasing turkey tenderness.
Look Beyond the Stove and Oven:
Microwaves can cook vegetables in about half the time
a slow cooker does all the work for you
Use a rice cooker can be used to make a variety of rice side dishes.
Using these other appliances will also save space on your stovetop and in your oven.
Lastly, remember to use safe food handling practices: Don't cross contaminate clean surfaces and utensils between uses – keeping raw meats from coming into contact with cooked foods or foods intended to be eaten raw (veggies and dip). Keep foods at safe temperatures (avoid letting food stand more than 2 hours at room temperature). And, don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.
Question: I live with my friends and they have food here but it is not what is on the weekly menus. I need help planning a menu with the ingredients I already have on hand. Can you help?
Answer: To find recipes using ingredients you already have on hand, visit our Meijer Mealbox website at www.meijermealbox.com.
In the blue box, there is a search bar at the top. In this box, type in your ingredient (ie: chicken) and recipes will appear that contain chicken. If you find a recipe you like, you can take your mouse and drag the recipe to the day of the week that you want to have that meal (the days of the week are listed at the bottom of the box). Dragging the recipe to the day of the week will help you to create your own menu and shopping list. Meijer Mealbox is a great resource and guide. I hope this helps!
Question: Do you have a specific area of the website for recipes that take 30 minutes or less to prepare?
Answer: Our Meijer Pinterest page has a board entitled “30 Minutes or Less” and contains great, easy and quick recipes that take 30 minutes or less to prepare. Just sign up on Pinterest and search for our Meijer Pinterest page. In addition to the “30 Minutes or Less” page, we also have a page for “Healthy Living”, “Yum”, “Microwave and Mini Fridge” (for college students), “Ethnic Foods”, “Healthy School Lunches” and “Meals for Family Night”.
Question: Do you have to have a cell phone to use Meijer’s digital coupon program, MPerks?
Answer: Yes, at this time, customers do need a cell phone with texting capability to use mPerks. Customers do not have to have a smartphone though. Landlines are not accepted at this point since texting is the way we verify the phone number. When joining mPerks, customers enter their mobile number and then they receive a text message with a verification number to ensure the number they provided is valid.
We offer savings to our customers in many different ways - coupons in our Meijer One Stop Ads, lower prices, etc. One of the things that we heard from our customers is that they wanted to receive savings or coupons digitally through a website or their mobile phone on the go. We listened to the consumer and developed the mPerks program.
Question: My children get tired of sandwiches in their packed lunches. Do you have any other ideas that my kids may like?
Answer: Try to make sandwiches more appealing by mixing them up! Instead of bread, use whole grain wraps, whole wheat pita bread, or whole wheat English muffins to make it more appealing. You can also use a skewer (wooden skewer, pretzel sticks, popsicle sticks or colored straws) and make a sandwich kabob with bread, cheese, and lean meat. You could also add veggies to the skewer such as spinach leaves or tomatoes. Another idea is to make a cucumber boat. Peel a cucumber, slice in half lengthwise, hollow out the center and fill with tuna salad or chicken salad.
When it gets cold, send some jazzed-up low-sodium soup. Pour the soup in your child’s thermos and add thawed, frozen vegetables and cooked, whole wheat pasta. The additions will offer more nutrition and heartiness.
When packing your children’s’ lunches always remember to include a protein or dairy, whole grain option and fruit or vegetable. Also, include your children when you shop for their lunches and make their lunches.
For more ideas, visit our “Back to School Meals will be as easy as 1, 2, 3” video series on Meijer Mealbox at www.meijermealbox.com.
Question: I saw one of the Meijer Healthy Living Advisors at an event where she prepared a brown rice salad that had avocado in it. Unfortunately, I've misplaced the recipe. I was wondering if it could be posted on the site. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me!
Answer: Below is the recipe for the Chilled Avocado Salad that Tina, one of our Healthy Living Advisors, made at the event. It is delicious and can be made ahead of time. Avocados are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and brown rice is a healthy whole grain option. By draining and rinsing the canned beans, you can reduce the sodium content by up to 40%. Enjoy!
Chilled Avocado Salad
3 Tbsp. Meijer olive oil
2 Tbsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. McCormick dried oregano
1/4 tsp. McCormick cumin
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup Meijer cooked brown, cooled
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 green onion, sliced
1/8 tsp. salt
McCormick ground black pepper
1. Whisk oil, vinegar, salt, oregano and cumin in large bowl. Add avocado; toss gently to coat.
2. Add rice, black beans, tomato and green onion; toss gently to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 294, Fat 14g, Cholesterol 57mg, Sodium 61mg, Carbohydrate 35g, Fiber 6g, Protein 7g.
Recipe source: www.meijermealbox.com, TryFoods International
Question: Every time I check Meijer Meal Box for coupons, it says they're not available. Have you discontinued these or is it just for certain customers? Thanks.
Answer: We moved all of our online coupons to our Meijer mPerks digital coupon site. We thought it would be easier to have all of the coupons in one location. You can access the mPerks coupon site by going to: www.mperks.meijer.com. To sign up, you just need to put in your cell phone number and a chosen 4-digit passcode. Then, simply clip the coupons you want. There are coupons for Meijer brand products, produce items and National brand products. You don’t even need to print off your coupons! Instead, when you check out, tap the mPerks icon on the screen and enter in your cell phone number and chosen 4-digit passcode and the coupons will automatically deduct from your receipt!
Question: The label of the Meijer Brand Organic Soy Milk doesn’t mention milk in the list of allergens. However, on the Meijer Brand Allergen List, it states that the Meijer Brand Organic Soy Milk does contain milk. Which is correct?
Answer: There is casein in the manufacturing of the Meijer Brand Organic Soy Milk, however, it is then processed out. So technically, the vendor does not have to declare milk as an allergen on the product label. However, the casein in the manufacturing (even though it is then removed) can still be problematic for some individuals that are highly sensitive. When we created the Meijer Brand Allergen List, we made the decision to declare on our list that all soy, rice, etc milk does contain a milk allergen. We are making the list the higher standard for our customers.
Question: Do you have any fun recipe ideas for the 4th of July?
Answer: Below is a fun 4th of July Menu I put together for you. We also have a variety of ideas on our Meijer Pinterest page. Kristen Johnson, another Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, and I post to the Meijer Pinterest Boards Bibs and Cribs, Healthy Living and Yum! daily for fun tips and recipe ideas.
4th of July Menu
Red, White and Blue BBQ Chicken Nachos (Nacho Bar)
Cool Cucumber Salad
Berries and Stars
Red, White and Blue BBQ Chicken Nachos
Bring 1 ½ cups barbecue sauce and ½ cup water to a simmer. Add 4 cups shredded cooked chicken; heat through. Top Meijer Organics Blue Corn Tortilla Chips with chicken and 3 cups Meijer Shredded Mozzarella Cheese. Bake until cheese melts then top with topping ideas.
Nacho Bar Topping Ideas:
Firecracker Guacamole (recipe below)
Plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream)
Sliced romaine lettuce
Makes 16 servings
1 Mini Seedless Watermelon
8 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, peeled, seeded and coarsely mashed
¼ cup minced green onions
2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 habanero chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced (or less, to taste)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt, to taste
1. Roll the watermelon to find the flattest side; place that side on bottom. OR, slice a thin slice off of one narrow end of the watermelon so that it will stand flat. Slice the top third of the watermelon off. Wrap and set aside.
2. Hollow out the red watermelon from the remaining watermelon section; reserve fruit for another use. A rice paddle works well for this task. Make sure all of the red part of the watermelon is removed. Pat dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with salt. Place upside down on a rimmed tray lined with paper towels and refrigerate overnight.
3. For the guacamole, gently combine all ingredients in a medium serving bowl. Let sit for at least 10 minutes for the flavors to blend. With paper towels, rub inside of watermelon bowl to remove salt and thoroughly dry. Fill with Firecracker Guacamole, serve and enjoy!
Cool Cucumber Salad
Makes 6 (1/2-cup) servings.
2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers (4 small or 2 large cucumbers)
1/2 tsp. Meijer salt
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup Meijer vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. Meijer sugar
1/2 tsp. McCormick® Dill Weed
1/4 tsp. McCormick® Black Pepper, Coarse Ground
Pinch McCormick® Red Pepper, Ground
1. Place cucumber slices in medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Stir in onions.
2. Mix remaining ingredients in small bowl. Pour over cucumbers and onions; toss lightly. Cover.
3. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve. Toss before serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 28 calories, 0g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 197mg sodium, 6g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 1g protein.
Other idea: Sour Cream Dill Cucumber Salad: Prepare cucumbers and onion as directed. Omit vinegar, water and sugar. Mix 1/2 cup sour cream and seasonings. Toss with cucumber mixture.
Adapted from: McCormick.
Berries and Stars
Mix fresh blueberries and strawberries in bowls. Then, sprinkle fruit dishes with stars to add extra pizzazz. Pineapple or bananas and vanilla-flavored yogurt make attractive white stars to toss in with a mixture of red and blue berries for the 4th of July.
Stars: Use a star-shaped ice cube tray to form the stars. Mix two parts fruit (fresh or frozen) to one part flavored yogurt. If necessary, stop the food processor occasionally to push the mixture down the sides. Fill ice cube tray with mixture. Freeze until firm, about 3 hours. Stars maintain their shape best if left in the ice cube tray until served. Cover with plastic wrap and freezer foil after they are frozen if you plan to use them a day or so later. If stars don’t pop out of the ice cube trays right away, let them sit for a minute or so to warm slightly and loosen. Experiment with different fruit and yogurt combinations.
Source: University of Nebraska at Lincoln Extension
Question: I would like to know if there is a list of soy free products available.
Answer: We do not have a specific list of just soy-free products, however, we do have a Meijer Brand Allergen List that lists if any of the eight major allergens (one being soy) are in certain Meijer Brand products. To access the list, go to our Healthy Living website at www.meijermealbox.com/healthy-living. Under "special diets" on the right-hand side, there is a link to the "Meijer Brand Allergen List".
Question: Just wondering if you had a pamphlet or good website you can point me to for fiber intake – I need more and am getting tired of eating high fiber cereal. I already eat a lot of fruits and veggies.
Answer: As you mentioned, fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber. Whole grains, beans and legumes are also good sources. Below is a link to the Whole Grains Council website to help you choose whole grains and use them in meals:
Also, below is a link for choosing and using beans and legumes in recipes to help increase your fiber intake:
For additional fruit and veggie recipes, visit the Produce for Kids website at www.produceforkids.org. Meijer is partnering with Produce for Kids again this month to help raise money for local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. When you purchase certain produce items at Meijer, the participating companies donate money towards the children’s hospitals.
Keep in mind it is very important to increase your fluid intake as you gradually increase your fiber intake. The additional fluid will help to keep your body running smoothly.
Question: What is the daily allowance for sodium and sugar?
Answer: According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, it is recommended to have less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. For individuals who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should have less than 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines also recommend decreasing our intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars (SoFAS). For most people, it is suggested not to have more than 5 to 15 percent of the total daily calories from SoFAS. For example, if someone followed an 1800 calorie meal plan, and 5% of their total daily calories came from solid fats (saturated fat and trans fat) and 5% of their total daily calories came from added sugars (a total of 10% of their daily calories from SoFAS), that would be about 10g of solid fats a day and 23g of added sugars a day.
The American Heart Association has more specific recommendations for added sugars. They suggest having 100 calories a day or less of added sugar for most women and less than 150 calories a day for most men. That is equivalent to about 6 teaspoons (or 25 grams) of added sugar for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar for men.
Keep in mind that some foods have natural sugars including milk products and fruits. At this time, the nutrition label does not separate natural sugars and added sugars, but you can read the ingredient list to see if sugars are added to a product. Key words to look for include: high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, syrup, cane juice, sugar or cane syrup.
Question: My 10 year-old granddaughter has declared that she is a vegetarian...no meat or fish. Please send recipes to include soy (protein). She visits in June & July.
Answer: April is actually Soyfoods Month, so your request couldn't have come at a better time. There are great soy recipes at the Soyfoods Month website at http://www.soyfoodsmonth.org/.
Other great sources of protein include: beans, cheese, eggs, milk, nuts, yogurt, and grains, such as quinoa. Here is a link to the All Recipes website with quinoa recipes: http://allrecipes.com/recipes/healthy-recipes/super-foods/whole-grains/quinoa/top.aspx.
Stress the importance of a varied diet so that your granddaughter is not missing certain vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B12.
Question: Last year, I attended a presentation on healthy breakfasts and an overnight oatmeal recipe was distributed. Do you have this recipe?
Answer: I think you may be referring to the Almond Oatmeal recipe. This is a great breakfast idea to get you out the door because it is made the night before. The recipe is below. Enjoy!
1/2 cup of Meijer Naturals Rolled Oats- NuVal score 59
1 tbsp. Meijer Raisins- NuVal score 91
1 tbsp. Meijer Walnuts- NuVal score 82
1 tsp. Meijer Ground Cinnamon
1 cup Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk
Combine all ingredients and put in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight. Just grab and go in the morning!
Nutrition Information: Calories 315, Fat 12 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 150 mg, Carbohydrate 37 g, Fiber 6 g, Protein 10 g
NEW: Meijer is now on Pinterest and the Healthy Living Team is pinning! Follow us to access a variety of health information and recipes.
Question: Do you have a diabetic meal plan for 1,400 calories?
Answer: The link below takes you to a page on the Diabetes Forecast website where the dietitian put together a meal plan that is 1400 calories with quick and easy foods. For other days, you can use this as a guide for the amount of grains, dairy products, protein and produce at each meal to stay within your 1400 calorie goal. Click here
Question: I am 50 years old and I have had a heart attack (with no damage). I exercise daily but I need to lose another 20 pounds. What vitamins or supplements do you recommend?
Answer: I'm sorry to hear that you had a heart attack, but I am glad to hear that there was not any damage. I think it is wonderful that you are interested in making some changes to reduce your risk of another heart attack.
It is great that you are doing some type of physical activity every day. At Meijer, we have some great equipment, DVDs and sport items to help keep you motivated with your physical activity goal.
As for supplements or vitamins, we recently introduced our "Vitamin Finder" on our Pharmacy page. All you have to do is answer a few questions and it will recommend certain vitamins or supplements for you. Remember to check with your doctor and Meijer Pharmacist before taking any of these items. Below is the link to the Vitamin Finder:
I think it would still be beneficial to make dietary changes to help you lose your 20 pounds. First, it would be good to keep a diary of what you are currently eating. Write down the item you eat and the amount of the item. Then, at the end of the day, see where you can make some small changes. For example, instead of a regular soft drink switch to diet or lowfat milk or water or tea. Instead of five cookies, choose two cookies. Instead of regular pasta, try whole wheat pasta. Use NuVal, our nutritional scoring system in all of our Meijer stores, to help you find healthier foods. The NuVal scores are on the shelf tag of each food product. NuVal rates foods from 1 to 100; the higher the number, the healthier the product. Fruits and vegetables all score in the 80's and 90's, so they are always good options. Regular pasta scores a 61 while whole wheat pasta scores an 88 or 91.
Remember, it is not recommended to lose more than 1-2 pounds a week. If you lose too much weight in a short period of time, you are more likely to gain the weight back. It is important to make lifestyle changes that you can stick with for a long period of time.
I hope these ideas help. Good luck!
Question: I work in the medical field and have heard a lot of patients talking about the health and nutrition benefits of Chia seeds. What are these, would you recommend them as a nutritious seed, and if so, how much is the proper amount for the average person? Thank you!
Answer: Chia seeds contain heart-healthy omega-3's, protein and fiber. They are a great plant-based source of omega-3’s. We sell them in our Meijer Pharmacy area. You can add the seeds to oatmeal, smoothies, cereal, baked goods, etc. They are little black seeds and add a little crunch and slightly nutty flavor.
I found this great article on chia seeds on WebMD by dietitian Kathleen Zelman. It answers most, if not alll, of your questions and provides a nice summary:
Question: Can eating breakfast actually help you lose weight?
Answer: Yes, eating a healthy breakfast is good to include in your daily routine. Research from the National Weight Control Registry has shown that people who successfully maintain a significant weight loss eat breakfast just about every day. In fact, people who eat breakfast burn more calories in the morning and throughout the day. After your body has gone without a meal or snack for 8-12 hours, breakfast helps to jump start your metabolism and provides your body with energy.
But don’t choose just any breakfast. Make sure it is a nutrient-rich breakfast as a breakfast full of nutrition will give you the energy to perform better, both mentally and physically. When planning your breakfast, include carbohydrates such as whole grains and fruits for energy. Add protein for sustained energy. Good protein sources include low-fat dairy products, eggs and lean meat or peanut butter. If you are not hungry in the morning, start with a light bite – 100% fruit or vegetable juice or 100% whole wheat toast – then have a nutritious mid-morning snack like low-fat yogurt or low-fat string cheese.
There are additional benefits to eating breakfast:
Adults who eat breakfast have more energy for work, have higher productivity levels and are better to handle tasks that require memory.
Studies also show that breakfast eaters also tend to have more strength and endurance, better concentration and problem-solving ability.
Children and teens that eat breakfast have higher school attendance, less tardiness and are less likely to be overweight.
Breakfast eaters also have higher intakes of fiber and important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, folate and calcium.
Try these ideas:
1. Whole grain frozen waffles with banana slices, chopped walnuts and lite syrup.
2. Oatmeal with dried fruit and milk; 100% apple juice.
3. Whole grain French toast with warm Meijer Organics Unsweetened applesauce, sprinkled with cinnamon; low-fat milk.
4. Cold cereal (choose one with at least 3 grams of fiber), add low-fat milk and blueberries.
5. Scrambled eggs and shredded 2% milk cheese in half a whole wheat pita bread; grapefruit half.
Question: Please tell me where the apples are grown that Meijer uses to make their apple juice. Thank you!
Answer: The label of a product will always declare the country of origin. For the Meijer Brand Apple Juice:
Meijer Apple Juice – Product of USA
Meijer Organics Apple Juice – Product of Argentina
The country of origin is labeled on the plastic container of the apple juice (above the label).
Question: I’m looking for some easy nutritional guidance. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to eat better. What does Meijer have that can help?
Answer: NuVal, our nutritional scoring system, is a great resource that provides nutritional guidance. NuVal looks at over 30 different nutrients in a food product and boils the information down in to one number between 1 and 100; the higher the number, the healthier the product. The Nuval score of a product is located on the shelf tag. NuVal scores can be found on Meijer Brand Products and National Brand products.
Another tool that compliments NuVal in helping you find healthier products in the aisles at Meijer is our Health Callouts icons. While NuVal numbers are on the shelf tags of store brand and National Brand products, the Health Callouts are on the front package of only Meijer Brand products. The icons are blue and white circles.
The Health Callouts are based on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines. While some products could receive many Health Callouts, we limit it to no more than three Callouts on a product. We choose the ones that are most pertinent and beneficial.
The Health Callouts may include:
Trans Fat Free
Making more meals at home can also help you to eat healthier. Cooking your own meals puts you in control of the ingredients you are adding to your food. For meal ideas based on sale items at Meijer, visit the Weekly Nutritious Menu on meijermealbox.com/healthy-living.
Question: I am hosting a Super Bowl party this year. Do you have any appetizer recipe ideas?
Answer: Join us on Saturday, February 4th from 11 am to 4pm in all of our Meijer stores for the Taste of the Game event. We’ll show you how to make your super party super easy, with samples of a game day spread. Plus, starting in mid-January, check out our video series at Meijermealbox.com for recipes and tips that score with your guess.