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Nutrition

Prunes have promising effect on men’s bone health, adding to growing body of research

Eating prunes daily has a protective effect on bone health in men over 50.

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Photo by Kamala Bright from Unsplash.com

New research from San Diego State University’s School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences reports that eating prunes daily has a protective effect on bone health in men over 50. This study is the first of its kind to examine the beneficial prune effect on bones in men. It is estimated that 2 million men are battling osteoporosis and another 16.1 million men have low bone mass, or osteopenia (Wright et al., 2014). Despite these statistics, bone disease in men is often overlooked.

“We’ve already seen significant evidence that prunes have a positive effect on bone health in women, so it’s particularly exciting to find that prunes can also play a beneficial role in men’s bone health. We look forward to continuing to study the ‘prune effect’ on bone and other health outcomes in men,” said lead researcher Professor Shirin Hooshmand, PhD, RD, School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University.

In this randomized-controlled clinical study, 57 healthy men aged 50-79 years old were assigned to either consume 100 grams of prunes every day or no prunes for twelve months. At the conclusion of 1-year, the prune consumers showed significant decreases in biomarkers of bone breakdown, while no changes were observed in the control group (Hooshmand et al., 2021). The study authors also reported the men who ate prunes showed improvements in bone geometry indicating greater bone strength.

Historically, research has focused on osteoporosis and bone health in women, already indicating a favorable bone response to prunes specifically among postmenopausal women. Several studies have suggested that eating 50 to 100 grams of prunes everyday could lead to increased bone mass and decreased bone breakdown (Arjmandi et al., 2001; Hooshmand et al., 2011, 2014, 2016). Moreover, a recent case study published in the Bone Reports earlier this year reported that total bone mineral density increased in a postmenopausal woman with osteopenia after she consumed 50 grams of prunes daily for 16 months (Strock et al., 2021).

“Bone health is not just a concern for women. Men need to think about how to protect their bones as well,” said Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN and consultant with the California Prune Board. “Prunes are a shelf-stable and nutrient-packed food that provide a preventive, proactive, palatable option for men to optimize their bone health.”

While San Diego State University’s newest research is an exciting addition to existing prune-focused literature, more investigations into the effect of prunes on human bone health are currently underway. An upcoming study from Pennsylvania State University examines how consuming different amounts of prunes affects health outcomes in postmenopausal women over a one-year period. The study not only explores the impact of prunes on bone health, but it will also look at the prune-effect on inflammation and gut health.

The men’s bone study by Hooshmand et al. (2021) can be found here.

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Nutrition

Recipes for party-worthy wine pairings perfect for easy entertaining

When inviting guests to share your personal favorites, nothing enhances a tasting get-together quite like complementary snack and wine pairings.

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Red or white, sweet or dry, wine lovers are often entertainers at heart. When inviting guests to share your personal favorites, nothing enhances a tasting get-together quite like complementary snack and wine pairings.

The next time you find a wine party on your schedule, consider these simple yet delicious recommendations from sommelier and founder of “The Lush Life,” Sarah Tracey, who partnered with Fresh Cravings to create “Dips and Sips.” Aimed at reinventing wine and cheese parties, the movement focuses on simplistic recipes, easy dip pairings and suggested wines.

“When I entertain at home, I’m always looking for ways to impress my friends with fresh, creative bites I can pair with wine,” Tracey said. “My favorite hack is finding great products with high-quality ingredients then creating simple, elevated ways to serve them. The less time I spend in the kitchen, the more time I get to spend with my guests.”

Tracey relies on the versatility of Fresh Cravings’ array of dip options and crowd-pleasing, bold flavors worth celebrating. With authentic-tasting chilled salsas offering a vibrant alternative to soft, dull blends of jarred salsa and flavor-filled hummus made with premium ingredients like Chilean Virgin Olive Oil, these dips elevate both traditional and reinvented recipes.

For example, Tracey’s recipes for Polenta Rounds with Pico de Gallo Salsa and Crab, Spiced Butternut Squash Naan Flatbreads, Cheesy Tortilla Cutouts with Salsa and Hummus-Stuffed Mushrooms offer flavorful, easy-to-make appetizers that can make entertaining easy and effortless. Plus, these crave-worthy morsels are just as tasty and approachable for guests choosing to skip the wine.

Find more recipe and pairing ideas perfect for enhancing your next party at FreshCravings.com.

Hummus-Stuffed Mushrooms
Recipe courtesy of Sarah Tracey
Total time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6

Nonstick olive oil spray

16        ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed and gills scooped out
            salt, to taste
            pepper, to taste
1          container Fresh Cravings Classic Hummus
1          jar manzanilla olives stuffed with pimientos, cut in half
1          jar roasted red pepper strips
            Oregon Pinot Noir

Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare sheet pan with nonstick olive oil spray.

Place mushroom caps on sheet pan, spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Roast 7-8 minutes then let mushrooms cool to room temperature.

Fill each mushroom cap with hummus and top each with one olive slice.

Thinly slice roasted red pepper strips and arrange around olive slices.

Pair with lighter bodied pinot noir with cherry tones from Oregon.

Cheesy Tortilla Cutouts with Salsa
Recipe courtesy of Sarah Tracey
Total time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

            Nonstick cooking spray
6          large flour tortillas
16        ounces pepper jack cheese, grated
1          can (4 ounces) green chiles, drained
1          bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1          container Fresh Cravings Restaurant Style Salsa, Medium
            New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place large flour tortilla on sheet pan. Top with handful of grated cheese.

Sprinkle chiles on top of cheese layer. Add chopped cilantro. Sprinkle with additional cheese.

Top with another tortilla. Bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Work in batches to make three sets of cheese-filled tortillas.

Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters.

Serve with salsa and pair with sauvignon blanc from New Zealand with zest and zing.

Spiced Butternut Squash Naan Flatbreads
Recipe courtesy of Sarah Tracey
Total time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6

1 1/2    pounds butternut squash
2          tablespoons olive oil
1          tablespoon maple syrup
1/2       teaspoon cumin
1/2       teaspoon chili powder
            salt, to taste
            pepper, to taste
1          container Fresh Cravings Roasted Garlic Hummus
1          package mini naan dippers
1          bunch fresh rosemary, minced
            La Veielle Ferme Rosé

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Chop butternut squash into 1/2-inch chunks.

Toss squash with olive oil, maple syrup, cumin and chili powder.

Spread on sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste, and roast until tender, about 20 minutes.

Spread hummus on naan dippers and top each with squash and fresh rosemary.

Pair with deeper, savory and earthy rosé. 

Polenta Rounds with Pico de Gallo Salsa and Crab
Recipe courtesy of Sarah Tracey
Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

1          tube (16 ounces) prepared polenta
            nonstick cooking spray
            salt, to taste
8          ounces jumbo lump crabmeat
1          container Fresh Cravings Pico de Gallo Salsa, Mild
1          bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
            Mateus Rosé

Heat oven to 400 F.

Slice polenta into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Arrange on baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Sprinkle with salt, to taste, and let cool.

Combine jumbo lump crabmeat with salsa.

Top each polenta round with crab salsa mixture.

Garnish with finely chopped fresh mint and pair with vibrant, fruity rosé.

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Nutrition

Recipes for those on a mission to eat healthier

To help make nutritious eating more manageable, call together your family and work with one another to create a menu everyone can enjoy while staying on track.

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Setting out on a mission to eat healthier starts with creating goals and working to achieve them with those you love. To help make nutritious eating more manageable, call together your family and work with one another to create a menu everyone can enjoy while staying on track.

Connecting an array of recipes that all can agree on starts with versatile ingredients like dairy. Gathering at the table with your loved ones while enjoying delicious, nutritious recipes featuring yogurt, cheese and milk can nourish both body and soul.

For example, the key dairy ingredients in these recipes from Milk Means More provide essential nutrients for a healthy diet. The cheese varieties in Feta Roasted Salmon and Tomatoes and 15-Minute Weeknight Pasta provide vitamin B12 for healthy brain and nerve cell development and are a good source of calcium and protein, which are important for building and maintaining healthy bones. Meanwhile, the homemade yogurt sauce served alongside these Grilled Chicken Gyros provides protein and zinc.

To find more nutritious meal ideas to fuel your family’s health goals, visit MilkMeansMore.org.

Feta Roasted Salmon and Tomatoes
Recipe courtesy of Marcia Stanley, MS, RDN, Culinary Dietitian, on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

            Nonstick cooking spray
3          cups halved cherry tomatoes
2          teaspoons olive oil
1          teaspoon minced garlic
1/2       teaspoon dried oregano or dried dill weed
1/4       teaspoon salt
1/2       teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2    pounds salmon or halibut fillets, cut into four serving-size pieces
1          cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line 18-by-13-by-1-inch baking pan with foil. Lightly spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In medium bowl, toss tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, oregano or dill weed, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Place fish pieces, skin side down, on one side of prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining pepper. Lightly press feta cheese on top of fish. Pour tomato mixture on other side of prepared pan. Bake, uncovered, 12-15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with fork.

Place salmon on serving plates. Spoon tomato mixture over top.

Grilled Chicken Gyros
Recipe courtesy of Kirsten Kubert of “Comfortably Domestic” on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes chill time
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8

Chicken:
3          tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2          tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1          tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2          cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3          tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1          teaspoon kosher salt
1/2       teaspoon black pepper
2          pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Yogurt Sauce:
1 1/2    cups plain, whole-milk yogurt
1 1/2    tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2       cup diced cucumber
2          tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1          clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/4       teaspoon kosher salt
1/8       teaspoon black pepper

3-4       small loaves whole-wheat pita bread, halved lengthwise
1          cup thinly sliced tomatoes
1/2       cup thinly sliced red onion

To make chicken: Place melted butter, dill, oregano, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in gallon-size zip-top freezer bag. Seal bag and shake contents to combine. Add chicken. Seal bag, pressing air out of bag. Shake chicken to coat with marinade. Refrigerate chicken in marinade 30 minutes.

To make yogurt sauce: Stir yogurt, lemon juice, diced cucumber, dill, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover sauce and refrigerate.

Heat grill to medium heat.

Grill chicken over direct heat, about 10 minutes per side, until cooked through. Transfer chicken to cutting board and rest 10 minutes. Thinly slice chicken across grain.

Serve chicken on pita bread with tomatoes, red onion and yogurt sauce.

15-Minute Weeknight Pasta
Recipe courtesy of Kirsten Kubert of “Comfortably Domestic” on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6

6          quarts water
16        ounces linguine or penne pasta
2          tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2       cup thinly sliced onion
1          cup thinly sliced carrots
1          cup thinly sliced sweet bell pepper
1/2       cup grape tomatoes, halved
1          teaspoon kosher salt
1/4       teaspoon black pepper
2          cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1          cup reserved pasta water
1          teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2       cup smoked provolone cheese, shredded
1/4       cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
            Parmesan cheese (optional)

Bring water to rolling boil and prepare pasta according to package directions for al dente texture, reserving 1 cup pasta water.

In large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in onions, carrots and sweet bell peppers. Saute vegetables about 5 minutes, or until they brighten in color and begin to soften. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and garlic. Cook and stir 1 minute to allow tomatoes to release juices.

Pour reserved pasta water into skillet, stirring well. Bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 3 minutes. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings, as desired.

Transfer drained pasta to skillet along with lemon zest and smoked provolone cheese, tossing well to coat. Serve immediately with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese, if desired.

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Nutrition

Food safety when eating outdoors

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Photo by Quaritsch Photography from Unsplash.com

It may already be September, but summer is far from over! There’s still plenty of warm and sunny days perfect for picnics and barbecues. Unfortunately, this time of year is also a favorite for foodborne bacteria that cause foodborne illness (also known as food poisoning), which multiply faster at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F. 

Follow the tips below to keep your food safe when eating outdoors.

Before your picnic or barbecue

  • Defrost meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator. If you thaw by submerging sealed packages in cold water or defrost in the microwave, the food should be cooked immediately afterward.
  • Never reuse marinade that touched raw foods unless you boil it first. Instead, you can set some of the marinade aside before marinating food to use for sauce later.
  • Marinate foods in the fridge, not the countertop.
  • Wash all produce before eating, even if you plan to peel it. The knife you use to peel it can spread bacteria into the part you eat. Fruits and vegetables that are pre-cut or peeled should be refrigerated or kept on ice to maintain quality and safety.
  • If your picnic site doesn’t offer clean water access, bring water and soap or pack moist disposable towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
  • Don’t forget to pack a food thermometer!

Packing coolers

  • Place food from the refrigerator directly into an insulated cooler immediately before leaving home.
  • Use ice or ice packs to keep your cooler at 40 °F or below.
  • Pack raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a separate cooler, or wrap it securely and store at the bottom of the cooler where the juices can’t drip onto other foods. Place beverages in a separate cooler; this will offer easy drink access while keeping perishable food coolers closed.
  • Minimize the time coolers are held in the trunk of the car, as the trunk can get very hot. Bacteria can multiply rapidly at high temperatures. Once at the picnic site, keep food in coolers until serving time (out of direct sun) and avoid opening the lids often.

Grilling

  • Have clean utensils and platters available. Cook meat, poultry, and seafood to the right temperatures ─ use a food thermometer to be sure (see FDA’s Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Chart). Keep cooked meats hot at 140 °F or warmer until serving time — set them to the side of the grill rack to keep them hot.
  • When removing foods from the grill, place them on a clean platter. Never use the same platter and utensils for cooked food that you used for raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

Time and temperature 

Don’t let hot or cold food sit in the “Danger Zone” (between 40 °F and 140 °F) for more than 2 hours – or 1 hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90 °F. If they do, throw them away.

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