Summer Sunsets

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in National Picnic Month 2016

Enjoying the sunset is one of the best things about summer in my opinion. The cool breeze at night, watching the gorgeous colors change and enjoying something tasty to eat? Why not!

Watching sunsets is thought to have many health benefits beyond just a pleasant night out. Like many other aspects of being “in nature” it improves your emotional /mental health, concern for others, and increases your satisfaction with life. It allows you to slow down and really enjoy the moments in life. Many scientists believe it to be a form a meditation and have shown that it can actually make you a happier person. As most of us are constantly looking at computer screens or engrossed in our smartphones, taking the time to really enjoy what nature has to offer is one of the best ways to reconnect with ourselves, de-stress and reevaluate everything we have going on.

One of my favorite places to watch a sunset here in Boston is Deer Island. This island sits just northeast of the city in Boston Harbor and has a great view of the city skyline with the sun setting behind it. It also has great walking trails and an outlook to sit at.  Here are some pics from my most recent sunset excursion there (the city is down in the bottom left hand corner)…

2016-06-17 20.22.33 2016-06-17 20.16.58

So that’s you’re first to-do in the sunset picnic adventure: find you own beautiful spot! West facing beaches, lakes, meadows, tops of hills/mountains… anywhere you can see the west facing skyline (just be safe and check conditions before-hand).

What’s next on the to-do list? First is something to sit in or lay on. I love a good comfy blanket or beach chair. Whatever makes you comfortable, so you can sit back and relax! Secondly and probably more importantly, is the food! There are so many great options out there for a picnic by a sunset. Of course, there are the staples and classic go-to’s like cheese, crackers and fruit. You could also try something more romantic like champagne, strawberries and chocolate. Make things more interesting and prepare one of these delicious sandwiches ahead of time (102 options to be precise) or enjoy tortilla or pita chips (remember Higher Number = Better Nutrition!) with your favorite homemade dips like guacamole or hummus. Another great portable idea is a smoothie! This allows you to just stare at the sunset while you enjoy your tasty treat. No utensils or hand-eye coordination required!

The biggest thing to remember is to relax and just be present. Leave your phone in the car and embrace the beauty and awe of nature (and perhaps whomever you brought with you)!

Enjoy! – Stephanie

Share on Social Media
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

Heading to the park for a picnic!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in National Picnic Month 2016

It’s been rainy and humid these past few days in Boston, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not looking forward to spending at least a few afternoons in the sun before autumn sets in. I want to just grab a blanket, my mobile speakers, and some good food and head to the Boston Public Garden, to soak up the last bits of summer.

spring-276014_640 (2)

The most refreshing food to bring to a summer picnic is fruit. My personal favorite is watermelon. Sweet, hydrating, and so easy to dress up, you get as much nutrients as you get joy eating it. It’s full of vitamins, including Vitamin A and C, and again is mostly water, so you can definitely hydrate with a few slices of this yummy fruit. One of my favorite things to do is a dress it up with a slightly spicier flavor: ginger. Prepare a small amount of ginger infused simple syrup and drizzle it on your watermelon so you get a crisp yet spicy burst of flavor with every bite. Feeling a little bit adventurous? Try a twist on the melon and prosciutto combo and wrap pieces of watermelon in this salty ham. Sooo good!

A classic picnic staple is of course the sandwich, but even this could be switched up. You can make wraps or tacos with corn tortilla, or even deconstruct the ingredients in your favorite sandwich into a cracker topping or salad. One of my favorites is chicken salad because there’s a variation for everyone! You can add raisins and walnuts and make into a spread with some Greek yogurt and Dijon mustard, or you can go classic with light mayo, celery, and spices for a sandwich. One of my favorite recipes is curry chicken salad, because in case you can’t tell, I like spicy things. I also like healthy things, and curry powder contains a high amount of turmeric, which is great for preventing bone disease and promoting good heart health. I’d also love this on some whole wheat crackers, naan, or even in a pocket pita with some lettuce and cucumbers, juicy vegetables that cut through the heat.

picnic-1456955_640 (2)

To cool down, don’t forget to drink plenty of water! Flavor it with slices of lime, cucumber, or ginger for a fun and nutritious twist.

Where do you like to picnic? Share it with us in the comments below! And don’t forget to stay safe and stay cool!

 

Share on Social Media
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

Coleslaw with Apple Vinaigrette

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Cooking with Catherine Katz

When trying to decide what to make for this month’s post, I was very much drawn to the salad section of Catherine’s blog… probably because it’s been 90+ degrees here in New England for what feels like forever.  Needless to say, I had no desire to turn the oven on, and I think many readers out there would agree! So which salad did I choose? I’m glad you asked. The Coleslaw with apple vinaigrette!

Coleslaw is typically very heavy because it’s smothered in mayonnaise, so when I saw that Catherine made hers with vinaigrette I was intrigued! And she also adds apples and walnuts to the cabbage… Even better!

This being the NuVal blog, we have to discuss nutrition! So what’s so great about cabbage? Green cabbage is full of vitamins, especially vitamin K, vitamin C and Folate. Being a vegetable, it’s also a great source of fiber, helping to keep you feeling full longer. Also, depending on the color of cabbage you choose, you get different antioxidants! So combining colors is even better. Another great thing about cabbage is that it keeps well for a very long time. You can use half a head and store the rest in the fridge for over a week! We’ve discussed the awesome-ness that is walnuts before and apples are also a great source of fiber and vitamins like the cabbage. So this dish is packed full of nutrition AND isn’t ruined by mayo! That’s a solid win in my book.

Luckily I had a lot of these ingredients already in my pantry and fridge. The only items I needed to get were the cabbage and an apple (easy enough to add to the weekly shopping list!). I, however, bought the bagged coleslaw with the carrots in it… I know I just said that cabbage lasts practically forever, but I’m a single girl and physically just cannot eat that much cabbage… the struggle is real! So I used half the bag and put the rest in the freezer to use in soups. So if you’re one person like me or strapped for time the bagged mix is a great option, but a head of cabbage is usually cheaper and you can likely get it local this time of year!

IMG_4066IMG_4067 IMG_4068

I then cut the apple into quarters and put it through my mandolin slicer (you don’t need one, but I bought it on a whim and enjoy playing with it). I combined it with the cabbage and added the nuts in. I used a combo of pecans and walnuts because that’s what I had in the cupboard.  Simple as that!! I later combined the dressing ingredients in a small Tupperware bowl and shook it up and added it to the coleslaw mix and shook that as well.IMG_4073IMG_4086

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh my god! So good! The vinaigrette on the cabbage is so light, but also SO tasty! The apple compliments the nuts and cabbage very well. I added Tuna (for some omega 3 rich protein) and blueberries and had it as a dinner entree. It was delicious on a hot July evening. I highly recommend it!

IMG_4088

Share on Social Media
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

Classic Summer Barbecue

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in National Picnic Month 2016

Contrary to popular belief, the method of barbecuing was not created by Americans.  Anthropologists believe about 1 million years ago Homo erectus began cooking meat.  The origin of the word “barbecue” is a little uncertain as well, but conventional wisdom suggests Spanish explorer Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, commonly known as “Oviedo”, used the word “barbecoa” in 1526 in a Spanish dictionary to describe how the natives in the Caribbean and what is now Florida would cook their food using a wooden rack over the ground.  According to Oviedo, “barbecoa” originated from the Taino dialect of the Arawak American Indians word “barbicu”.

Since the 19th century, barbecue has been popular in the American South.  Because pigs were common in that part of the country, pork became a popular barbecue choice.  Different regions of the south have a unique method for cooking their meat though.  For example, pulled pork is popular in Memphis, Tennessee.  North Carolina prefers to smoke the whole hog.  Kansas City likes ribs and Texas is a little more complicated.  Eastern Texas is close enough to Memphis that pulled pork is the popular choice, but western Texans prefer barbecuing beef.

Be A Cook Out King

Summer is the perfect time to barbecue due to warmer temperatures.  There are several events in the summer months, starting with Father’s Day, continuing with the 4th of July and rounding out the end of the summer/start of fall season, tailgating at football games where barbecuing is popular.  Cooking using a grill isn’t exclusive to just meat either!  You can cook your entire meal over the grill and enjoy being outside on a summer evening for that much longer!

You can begin your meal with a Grilled Caprese Salad, a delicious appetizer.  For a classic side dish, try Mexican Style Grilled Corn.  A traditional Southern American classic, pork, is the star of your dinner dish, Pork Chops Chimichurri.  Last but not least, you can’t forget about dessert – Lavender Grilled Fruits Over Ice Cream!  There you have it – an entire meal that can be made on the grill!

Share on Social Media
Facebooktwitterlinkedin

Now YOU can access NuVal Scores, Anytime, Anywhere!

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Announcements!

Alright everyone, so by now you might have heard that we have released access to our Score Search database, as well as our mobile app, NuScan, through the NuVal Empower program. What you might not have heard is that we are offering a free 30-day trial, so you can see for yourself how awesome these tools are before you pay anything!

A quick rundown on how legit this is: we are offering a free trial of the most robustly validated, inclusive nutritional scoring system in existence. You can access over 120,000 scored products.  If you’re not familiar with NuVal Scores, they are derived from the Overall Nutrition Quality Index (ONQI®) algorithm, which weighs over 30 macro and micronutrients, so you get the best picture of the nutrition in your foods.

That’s right: you’re getting access to that for free for one month!!

With your free trial, you get to test out the Score Search website. This tool allows you to search by multiple fields, including UPC, keyword and category, and filter by Scores and/or attributes, including gluten free and organic, as well as multiple nutrient-based attributes (ex: excellent source of fiber). For example, let’s say you’re looking for a healthy pancake mix that’s high in fiber – you can search for all the products that meet those criteria to see how you can trade up to a better option.

With the mobile app, NuScan, you have your own grocery store “GPS” – scan a product, get a score. It’s that easy! You might be surprised with the NuVal Scores of your favorite products, and find yourself trying something new and higher scoring you wouldn’t have tried otherwise. And if it’s not in our system? Don’t worry! You get 5 free submissions per month, and it’s very easy to submit products so we can score them for you!

Up until this release, scores have only been available on retail shelves across the country, but we’re excited to share these tools with you, whether you’re a fitness or health professional, or just looking for better ways to feed your family.

There’s no time to lose! Go to nuval.com/empower to learn more, view a free demo, and sign up today! And if you have any questions, leave a comment below, or reach out to us at empower@nuval.com with the subject line “Empower Question”.

We’re super excited about this release, and we hope you enjoy using these tools to improve your lives!

 

Share on Social Media
Facebooktwitterlinkedin