F.I.T. City

Chicago has embraced a new initiative that has made eating healthier easier. The new initiative called F.I.T. City “seeks to support food service establishments as local community cornerstones in food, nutrition, and health.”

F.I.T. City stands for Fresh, Innovative, and Tasty. The hopes of the program is to emphasize fresh, seasonal ingredients with innovative preparation styles that contribute to making dishes tasty.

F.I.T. City works with restaurants, chefs, culinary schools, health advocates, and community groups to develop healthy, nutritious food choices for busy individuals. There are five criteria restaurants must meet to receive the title. They are:

  1. A minimum of two menu items, other than salad,  whose main ingredients are fresh, non-deep fried selections of fruits and vegetables
  2. A minimum of two menu items whose grain component contains whole grain as the first ingredient (unless water is first)
  3. No menu items with artificial trans fat
  4. Only plant-based cooking oils, containing predominantly monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats (including oils such as olive, canola, peanut, grape seed, rice bran, corn, sunflower or safflower), are used for frying entrées and side dishes
  5. A non-deep fried fruit or vegetable is offered as an option for all meals that include french fries or chips

To find a F.I.T City establishment close to you, visit http://www.healthierchicago.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={654883FA-91E8-4ED7-B47D-F768B9918832}

You can follow F.I.T City on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FITCityChicago or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/fitcitychicago.


1. Have you eaten at a F.I.T City establishment?

2. Do you think the criteria are appropriate for classifying a restaurant as ‘healthy’?








Gluten-Free Regulations

Just over a decade ago, food companies started selling foods that claimed to be “gluten-free.”  At the time, nobody really had a problem eating the proteins found in foods. The gluten-free market is now a $4.2 billion dollar market. About 3 million need to follow a ‘gluten-free diet’ due to celiac disease.

Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine when a person eats gluten. Gluten prevents the intestines from absorbing necessary nutrients.  A strict gluten-free diet is often prescribed for people with the disease.


Gluten is found in foods such as wheat, barley, rye or some oats. The follow foods also need to be avoided unless labeled ‘gluten-free.’

  • Beer
  • Breads
  • Cakes and pies
  • Candies
  • Cereals
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Croutons
  • French fries
  • Gravies
  • Imitation meat or seafood
  • Matzo
  • Pastas
  • Processed luncheon meats
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces, including soy sauce
  • Seasoned rice mixes
  • Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Soups and soup bases
  • Vegetables in sauce


The FDA just made strict guidelines for foods that claim to be “gluten-free.” Until now, there were no guidelines for labeling of these foods. For most people, it wasn’t a problem. However for the 18 million Americans who have neither celiac or wheat allergy, there is now some reassurance that the foods they are eating are safe.


FDA Regulations

Foods will not be labeled ‘gluten-free’ there is a presence of gluten to less than 20 ppm. FDA will allow manufacturers to label a food “gluten-free” if the food does not contain any of the following:

  1. an ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains
  2. an ingredient derived from these grains and that has not been processed to remove gluten
  3. an ingredient derived from these grains and that has been processed to remove gluten, if it results in the food containing 20 or more parts per million (ppm) gluten

Foods such as bottled spring water, fruits and vegetables, and eggs can also be labeled “gluten-free” if they inherently don’t have any gluten.

The regulation will be published Aug. 5, 2013 in the Federal Register, and manufacturers have one year from the publication date to bring their labels into compliance. Taylor says he believes many foods labeled “gluten free” may be able to meet the new federal definition already. However, he adds, “We encourage the food industry to come into compliance with the rule as soon as possible.”














Glycemic Index- All about Carbs

Our bodies break down most carbohydrates (carbs) found in the foods we eat. Our bodies convert the carbs into a type of sugar called glucose. Glucose is the main source of fuel for our cells.


There are two types of carbs: simple and complex. These carbs contain different amount of sugar. The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbs on a scale from 0 to 100. It measures how fast and how much a food raises our blood sugar levels.

High G.I. Foods: Food with a GI of 70 or more are considered high-GI foods. These foods raise our blood sugar levels very quickly.  These foods are quickly digested and absorbed and result in arked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. High blood glucose may cause damage to vital organs.

Low G.I. Foods: Food with a GI of 55 or less are considered low-GI foods. These foods raise our blood sugar levels much more slower. These foods produce gradual rises in blood sugar levels, and have proven health benefits. Low GI foods have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger.

This chart shows how high GI and low GI foods affect our sugar (glucose) levels over two hours.

GI Graph

Readers Digest Asia has made some suggestions for lowering your GI:

1. Aim to eat 7 servings of vegetables every day, preferably of 3 or more colors. Make sure you fill half your dinner plate with vegetables.
2. Cut back on potatoes. Have one or two boiled new potatoes or make a cannellini bean and potato mash replacing half the potato with cannellini beans. Try other lower GI starchy vegetables for a change, such as a piece of orange sweet potato.
3. Choose a really grainy bread, such as stoneground wholemeal, real sourdough bread, or a soy and linseed bread. Look for the GI symbol on the breads you buy
4. Start the day with smart carbs like natural muesli or traditional (not instant) porridge oats or one of the lower GI processed breakfast cereals that will trickle fuel into your engine.
5. Look for the lower GI rices (basmati, Doongara Clever rice or Moolgiri), and choose low-GI whole grains such as pearl barley, buckwheat, bulgur, or quinoa.


Good Carbs Versus Bad Carbs Infographic


1. Have you/do you try to eat only foods with a low GI?

2. According to the suggestions by Readers Digest Asia (see above), which recommendation for lowering your GI would be easiest for you to incorporate into your lifestyle?








The 7 Minute Workout

What is the 7 Minute Workout?  It is a high-intensity circuit training (HICT) workout that uses body weight as resistance. The objective is to allow for a series of exercises to be performed in quick succession — using proper form and technique — and at high intensity with minimal rest between exercises. The exercises target the whole body, upper body, lower body, and core.

Here are the 12 exercises included in the 7 Minute Workout:
The 7-Minute Workout consists of 12 exercises and doesn't require any equipment - just body weight, a chair and a wall.

Each of the 12 exercises should be performed for 30 seconds. In between the exercises, you should take 10 seconds to rest and transition to the next exercise. The only equipment needed for the workout is your body weight, a wall, and a chair. The lack of equipment makes this workout easy to do from anywhere!


Misconceptions: You would assume that the 7 Minute Workout would last 7 minutes.  However, in an interview by ABC 7 News, Chris Jordan, the developer of the workout said, “We recommend doing it [the workout] not once but three times for a good, hard vigorous 21-minute workout.” Jordan says that without doing it 3 times in a row, you aren’t going to be getting a complete workout. However doing the workout once is better than never.

ABC News did a full report on the 7-minute workout. You can view it here: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/minute-workout-sweeps-country-19654198


There are also websites and phone apps that can help you track your 7-minute workout. They tell you when to complete each exercise, your work-out time, and your resting time. I listed some of my favorite ones I found below.

Website: http://www.7-min.com/

iPhone App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/7-minute-workout/id650762525?mt=8

Android App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.minhphan.android.seven&hl=en



Have you tired the 7 Minute Workout?  If yes, what did you think?

If no, do you think the workout provides enough physical activity each day? The CDC’s recommended guidelines can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html










Give me some Protein!

The idea that protein only comes from meat is a myth. Almost all foods contain some amounts of protein.

What is Protein? Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in your bodies. The proteins in your body are constantly being broken down and replaced. Protein builds, maintains, and replaces the tissues in your body. Your muscles, your organs, and you immune system are made up mostly of protein.

There are two types of protein: complete and incomplete.

Complete Protein come from animal sources and contain all nine of the essential amino acids. You can get complete proteins from meat, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs, yogurt, and milk.

Incomplete Protein come from vegetable protein and don’t have all nine essential amino acids. You can get incomplete protein by eating grains, nuts, seeds, beans, peas, and corn.  If you don’t eat any animals sources to get your complete protein, you can still get your essential amino acids by eating a variety of rich vegetable foods. By combining foods from two or more incomplete proteins, a complete protein can be created!!

How much protein do I need? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women get 46 grams of protein each day and that men get 56 gram. To find how much protein you specifically based upon your age, height, weight, gender, and activity level, visit:   http://www.healthcalculators.org/calculators/protein.asp

Most people in the United States get more than enough protein to meet their needs.

Here is a table with some commonly consumed foods with complete protein and incomplete protein sources.

Food Amount Grams of Protein
Meat, Fish, Poultry
Hamburger 4 oz. (125 g.) broiled 30
Chicken breast 4 oz. (125 g.) roasted 35
Haddock 4 oz. (125 g.) cooked 27
Tuna 5 oz. (145 g.) 33
Lunch meat 4 oz 20
Eggs 1 large 6
Beans, nuts
Kidney beans 1/2 cup 6
Navy beans 1/2 cup 7
Garbanzo beans (chick peas/hummus 1/2 cup 6
Tofu (soybeans)(extra firm) 3.5 oz 11
Peanuts 1/4 cup 9
Peanut Butter 1 tbsp 4.5
Almonds, dried 12 nuts 3
Gardenburger (original) 2.5 oz. (75 g.) patty 6
Baked beans 1 cup 14
Lentil soup 10.5 oz. 11
Low-fat cottage cheese 1/2 cup 15
Milk (1%) 1 cup (8 ounce glass) 8
Yogurt (whole, skim) 1 cup 11
Cheddar cheese 1 oz 7
Ice cream, frozen yogurt 1/2 cup 4
Processed cheese (American) 2 oz 13
Breads, cereals, grains
Macaroni and cheese 1/2 cup 9
Pasta 1 cup cooked 8
Bagel 2 oz 6
Raisin bran 1 oz (2/3 cup) 3
Rice 1 cup cooked 3
Bread 1 slice 2
Baked potato 1 large 4
Peas, green 1/2 cup 4
Corn 1/2 cup 2
Lettuce 1/4 head 1
Carrot 1 large 1
Banana, orange, apple 1 medium 1


1.) Based upon the protein calculator, how much protein do you need? Do you think you get enough protein in your daily diet?

2.) Looking at the chart above, what foods do you consume that contain protein?









UV Safety Month!

July is UV (ultraviolet) radiation month! Now that summer is here, it is a great time to review some easy steps you can do to protect your skin from the sun!!

What is UV radiation? According to the American Cancer Society, UV radiation is a major risk factor for skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.  Sunlight is the main source of UV rays, as well as tanning lamps, and tanning beds. People who get a lot of exposure to light from these sources are at greater risk for skin cancer. UV damage can also cause wrinkles and blotchy skin.

Luckily, the UV Index was created to help you decide how much protection you need before heading out into the sun!

What is the UV Index? The UV index was created to help you decide on how long you should spend outside and what type of protection you need for your skin. It was created by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Weather Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You can find your specific UV Index using your city and state at:   http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html

Based upon your UV Index number, the following chart can help you decide what type of protection you need before heading out into the heat. Your UV index number can change each day, so you should monitor it frequently!

Regardless of the UV Index, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends you do the following:

    • Do Not Burn.
    • Avoid Sun Tanning and Tanning Beds.
    • Generously Apply Sunscreen to all exposed skin using a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Re-apply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
    • Wear Protective Clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, where possible.
    • Seek Shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
    • Use Extra Caution Near Water, Snow and Sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun which can increase your chance of sunburn.


What type of sun protection do you use on a daily basis?

At the moment, what is your UV Index? Are you following the protection chart according to the UV Index?









The Dirty Dozen & Clean 15

In recent years, organic foods have become very trendy. The organic food industry is growing exponentially from $1 billion in 1990 to $29.22 billion in 2011. Recently, the industry is growing roughly 10 percent every year. Buying organic foods is usually more expensive, but is it really worth it??


What is organic produce? Organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), or ionizing radiation.

What is a pesticide? A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. They have been links to cancer, hormone disruption abnormal brain and nervous system development.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a an organization that monitors the United States food supply. There mission is to serve as a watchdog to see that Americans get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun, so they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment.

The EWG have tested numerous fruits and vegetables to find how contaminated they really are. They have found that some foods are saver to eat then others. They have developed a list of foods that can be purchased conventionally, also known as the “Clean 15.” They have also created a list of really contaminated food or the “Dirty Dozen.” They recommend to buy these foods organic.

In the following video by CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta tours a grocery store to help you decide what to buy organic.


Do you buy organic produce?

If yes, what kinds? If no, would you consider buying certain organic produce?