Welcome to A Better Bag of Groceries, the official blog of the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System. We rate foods on a scale of 1-100, based on their nutrition. The higher the score, the more nutritious the food. There are more than 1,600 supermarkets across the country that use NuVal Scores, and these are seen by millions of shoppers each week.
Throughout this blog, we’ll be making references to the NuVal System and how you can use it to find better foods for you and your family.
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While some of the writers of this blog are registered dietitians, the advice given on this blog should not replace that of a trained physician. NuVal is a system designed to lead customers to the most nutritious food choices. It is not a diet or weight-loss plan. Before starting a diet, you should always consult your personal physician. The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the writers and not necessarily the opinions of NuVal LLC.
Welcome to Cancer Control Month on A Better Bag of Groceries. In the month of April we plan to focus on a variety of fruits and vegetables that may reduce your risk of developing cancer. We will talk about what components of the fruit/vegetable that reduce your risk of developing cancer, how to incorporate it into your diet if not already there as well as uses of the fruit/vegetable. The fruits and vegetables we will be discussing provide a concoction of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants beneficial to your health. Today we will be talking about the allium vegetables and garlic, the 13th berries, the 20th cruciferous vegetables and the 27th citrus fruits. We hope by the end of this month you will feel more educated and empowered to take control of your health.
The allium family encompasses a variety of vegetables ranging from garlic to chives. Garlic in particular has compounds consisting of flavonoids, selenium, arginine and oligosaccharides that have been shown in research to potentially improve health. Several population studies have taken a look at the use of consuming garlic and the reduction of a wide range of cancers including pancreas, breast, colon, esophagus and stomach. Although a number of these studies show a reduction of the risk of cancer, there are many study limitations that need to be taken into consideration. For example, inaccurate reporting of the intake of garlic is one. Another consideration is garlic may have been consumed with other ingredients beneficial to health, which questions whether the garlic reduces cancer or some combination of multiple ingredients is more favorable.
There are unfortunately some downsides and safety considerations to consuming too much garlic. The obvious one is bad breath. Garlic has also been shown to interact negatively with many prescription drugs, so check with your doctor before introducing the vegetable to your diet.
Garlic can be incorporated into your diet in many different ways. It can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be used in salad dressing, guacamole, salsa, mashed potatoes, you name it! Check out this delicious recipe for garlic green beans from allrecipes.com.
My colleague Sarah and I recently went to the Oldways Supermarket Dietitian Symposium in New Orleans for the first time, and as its National Nutrition Month, I thought I would share all the awesome things we learned with you!
First I feel as though I should explain what Oldways is (for those of you that don’t already know). Oldways was founded in 1990 by K. Dun Gifford as a non-profit food and nutrition education organization that strives to guide people towards good health through theirs and others heritage. This is their mission statement “Oldways guides people to good health through heritage, using practical and positive programs grounded in science tradition and real foods. Let the old ways be your guide to good health”.
Now being from Boston and about to experience a 6” snow storm…. Sarah and I couldn’t wait to go to sunny New Orleans! It was beautiful weather. Sunny and in the 60s! We spent most of Sunday afternoon sitting on a second floor patio eating delicious food and people watching in the sunshine. We were basically reptiles…
Sunday evening started with a cocktail “hour” (it was really 2) in which we did sponsor speed dating! It was a lot of fun getting to meet all the Registered Dietitians (RDs) there and explaining to some of them what NuVal is. We then had a very lovely dinner put on by the hotel (the Ritz Carlton). It was a great opportunity to meet even more new people and continuing conversations.
Monday Morning began with a delicious breakfast of eggs, fruit, yogurt, pastries and many other things. I was pleasantly surprised with how great they handled food allergies and intolerances. After breakfast we started the educational sessions. There were talks on everything from: “Are saturated fat and cholesterol still the enemy?” to “Applying global flavors to your cooking demonstrations.” Several supermarket dietitians were spotlighted in how they are successfully running their programs. Two of our partners were acknowledged in this. Ellie Wilson from Price Chopper and Julie McMillin from Hy-Vee.
Some of the important takeaways you might ask? Here are just a few:
Sorghum is a gluten free grain that can be frozen and DOESN’T get soggy! (mind blown!)
Catering to millennials and convenience shoppers is already important to staying relevant and will become even more so.
There is a push towards healthy, nutrient dense snacking by consumers.
Labeling is extremely confusing to consumers and education will be key in the future.
Global flavor trends are moving in a savory, exotic, tangy kind of direction.
People want a continuity across experiences including shopping from groceries.
“Veggan” is totally a thing!! (vegans who eat eggs).
There was such a wealth of information, knowledge and experience. Those were just the highlights! It was amazing to just sit and listen.
Monday evening began with a walk to the Restaurant August by Chef John Besh. They gave us a 4 course dinner of salad, chicken entrée, beef entrée and a fantastic pineapple coconut sorbet. This was my personal favorite dish, as the other dishes I could only eat small bites of. However, everyone I spoke to told me their meal was amazing!! I was also sitting as a dedicated “gluten free” table, so we decided to have a small support group meeting as well.
On to Tuesday!!
Tuesday started with the vendor marketplace, so Sarah and I were up at 7am to set up our table and get ready to meet the dietitians! There was a great turnout and there were many people interested in NuVal (our swag was pretty good too!).
Tuesday afternoon there were several discussion panels that met in different rooms. Sarah and I went to one about building and maintaining public-private relationships. As it should be, this talk was geared to RDs that are in the community working with everyday customers, but I took many things away from it. Those takeaways included:
How to find the right kind of partners.
Building those relationships with mutual trust, respect and communication.
Finding a unique-ness that you provide, then building that up.
Getting involved in local government and schools as this allows you to build some personal relationships in your community.
These were just a few of the awesome ideas that the RDs had for their fellow colleagues. I imagine the other panels were just as collaborative, maybe more so.
Tuesday evening we had a scavenger hunt…. This was as funny and enjoyable as it sounds. We were randomized into teams and then wandered around the French Quarter asking complete strangers to do ridiculous things with us. It was amazing. Sarah’s team actually won! Go Spring Green! Here are a few gems from my team.
Finally there was another amazing dinner at a restaurant called Calcasieu by Chef Donald Link. This was a buffet of African Heritage dishes thought up by Georgia Orcutt with Oldways. Everyone said the food was fantastic! (Even the rice, which I thoroughly enjoyed!)
Overall, Sarah and I had a fantastic time catching up with old friends, meeting new ones and learning so much! We can’t wait to go back next year!
I had the honor of working for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (JOFF) in 2014 as a Food Policy Intern. I learned a lot about the strides Jamie Oliver was taking to help fight and end childhood obesity, and I was motivated to be a part of a company that would help me make a difference in people’s lives once I graduated, hence my job here at NuVal.
Throughout Nutrition month, we have shared our stories with you, and working at JOFF was a huge part of mine. This week, Jamie Oliver made headlines by successfully convincing the UK government to install a sugar tax on carbonated beverages (as well as some energy drinks and smoothies). While also spearheading the Food Revolution Day, Chef Oliver has continuously been in communication with the UK government to enforce this tax to reduce the consumption of beverages with added sugar. Simultaneously, he has also made a positive impact on the environment; he was recognized as Raymond Blanc’s Sustainability Hero on March 21st. Chef Oliver has shown the world what happens when you work hard for something you believe in, and we here at NuVal are excited for this and other changes happening in the world that can help you all eat healthier and deliciously.
We here at NuVal want to see the world change for the better, so that families can live better and healthier lives. Leaders like Jamie Oliver strive to do the same, so this month, we also celebrate him and everyone out there making a difference in their community!
It all started in high school when I was trying to decide what I wanted to major in when I went to college. I took an accounting class because I liked math, but decided it was kind of boring. Then I took a cooking class where we learned a little bit about nutrition, and I found it intriguing. I then applied to schools with Nutrition programs and I ended up at the University of Rhode Island.
As a Nutrition major, I didn’t know early on which path I wanted to take once I graduated, but I was grateful I knew what I wanted to major in right from the start, as I watched several of my friends bounce from major to major. To become a Registered Dietitian you need to complete a Dietetic Internship after graduation, and as freshman we were all pushed in that direction.
Freshman year I joined the Varsity Women’s Rowing team as a walk on and had no idea what I was getting myself into, which was probably for the best (ignorance is bliss). I made it into a boat all four years, which is an accomplishment for a walk on with no real athletic experience. My junior year I took a Sports Nutrition class as an elective and the material came so easily to me. The power food has in improving athletic performance is just fascinating to me. Four years of rowing turned me into a long distance runner and sports nutrition still impacts me every day as I try to achieve in the near future my long term goal (it’s been 5 years already…) of trying to qualify for the Boston marathon.
During my senior year I applied to Dietetic Internships and wasn’t accepted. I thought it was the end of the world until I found out that the internship acceptance rate is only about 50% and there are other career paths instead of becoming a Registered Dietitian.
When I applied to Dietetic Internship programs, I had also applied to graduate school and was accepted to the Simmons College Master’s in Nutrition and Health Promotion with a Certificate in Sports Nutrition in Boston MA. I moved to Boston after graduation in 2008 to begin my Master’s program. I was also working part time for the dietary department of a hospital. I learned a lot during my first year and a half in Boston. I realized a career in clinical and/or food service wasn’t for me and I was much more suited for research and data analysis.
I first heard about NuVal in one of my graduate school classes. I had an assignment where I had to research various nutrition scoring systems and write about the pros and cons of each system. I liked the idea of a scoring system implemented in a grocery store. The concept of quantifying nutrition just made sense to me. Out of all of the scoring systems I had to research, NuVal was my favorite (this was before I had any bias point of view I might add). When I finished graduate school I spent six months looking for a job more suited to my interests and I stumbled upon NuVal…. The rest is history.
Welcome to a new section of the blog that we are bringing back by popular demand: Cooking with Catherine Katz! Each month I will pick one or two recipes from Catherine’s website and provide NuVal scores for the key ingredients and interesting facts about those ingredients. I will also share my trials, tribulations and successes of making those recipes at home and how they came out. We hope you enjoy this revitalized segment!
Welcome to my first journey in Cooking with Catherine Katz!
I went on to Catherine’s website and was amazed at all the different recipes to try… I, however, have several dietary restrictions (no gluten, or dairy, and very little sugar and soy) and therefore had to filter through her options to find something I could eat. And Hurray! I was successful because she has options for just about everyone! I landed on her Walnut Crusted Salmon. and Simply Quinoa. recipes!
So on to Whole Foods I go to pick out some delicious, sustainable Atlantic salmon… I already had the quinoa in the pantry! Let’s talk about these ingredients for a minute, shall we? They are fantastic nutrition powerhouses!! The NuVal scores say it all! Atlantic salmon scores a 93, quinoa scores a 95, and walnuts get an 84! These are amazing scores! Salmon and walnuts are full of lean protein and healthy unsaturated fats, especially that elusive bugger Omega 3… you may have heard of him!? These two combined attributes help to maintain healthy weight, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and build strong healthy muscles! So what’s so great about quinoa? It’s just another grain right? Quinoa is one of the only plant sources of protein that provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it mother nature’s complete protein. This allows it to be great for vegetarians because you don’t have to be concerned with combining it with other proteins like beans and legumes to get all 9 of those amino acids, typically only found in animal sources of protein.
Okay, enough science…. on to the cooking!
Now, Catherine has a video on how to make this salmon … everything prepared… beautiful kitchen… the proper cookware…I strove for equality! Really I did! But I digress….
I happened to be visiting my parents with my coworker Tara and I decided to make them all guinea pigs for the sake of science!
First I cut the Salmon into 4 equal pieces
Tara, my fearless cooking sidekick, was on walnut grinding duty… Now, I feel as though I should mention that my parents do not have a food processor. So I had to get creative with how to grind/crush nuts. So being their daughter that no longer lives with them, I rummaged through their cabinets… And enter… The coffee grinder!!
In theory this was a FANTASTIC idea…. in practice…. not so much. Because walnuts contain a lot of water and the coffee grinder provides little air, the walnuts turned into more of a, well lets call it a…..paste…But we made it work! Onward!
We laid out the salmon on an oiled cookie sheet, as my parents didn’t have a cooling rack available. Sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got! The walnuts being a paste actually made it a bit easier to spread onto the salmon, instead of dredging or sprinkling them. Into the oven they went… The anticipation was palpable!
The quinoa was very simple as its name suggests. I rinsed it first, so it wouldn’t taste bitter and then placed it in the boiling water, added the turmeric, reduced the heat to simmer and let it do its thing. Easy Peasy!
So how was the finished product? Delicious! The combination of the walnuts with the salmon was awesome! (Side bar, added bonus, it makes the kitchen smell like walnuts instead of fish!) All the healthy fats kept the meat moist and flavorful. I, also, already love quinoa, but had never tried it with turmeric… it was good! Tara and my parents also agreed and loved it! It was a hit! I loved that this whole meal had only three ingredients, and they all score above an 80! And when you combine them with fresh veggies scoring 100, it gets even better!
If you’re someone that’s just starting out with cooking, these are great basics to have! Simple, delicious and healthy! And a definite crowd pleaser!
Once you get these down, the sky’s the limit. You could add other nuts and earthy spices like cinnamon and cloves to the salmon (using the food processor… NOT the coffee grinder).Add veggies, herbs and other spices to the quinoa… So many options!
Have you tried this recipe of Catherine’s? What were your stumbling blocks and triumphs? Have I encouraged you to give it a go? Share your thoughts with us!
The NuVal Nutritional Scoring System gives nutritional guidance to consumers frustrated with complicated nutrition labels and misleading packaging promises. Under NuVal, all foods and beverages are rated on a scale between 1 to 100. The higher the score, the higher the overall nutrition.