new foods LRWelcome to our healthy lifestyle challenge lead by our program dietitian Vicki Bovee and her husband, Bill. Because we can always do better to live a healthier lifestyle Vicki and Bill decided to work on a weekly challenge together to provide support and accountability for each other and hopefully inspire you to make healthy changes. Follow along with them as they tackle a variety of challenges to eat better, eat more mindfully, and improve physical health and emotional well-being. Vicki and Bill invite you to participate and accept the challenges to improve your lifestyle too. Some of them may be difficult and please feel free to modify the challenges to accommodate your dietary needs and physical abilities.

Challenge #30 Try one new healthy food a day
Well, this challenge was fun and interesting. I frequently have patients asking me or telling me about new products on the grocery shelves. And there are A LOT of new products added every year. In 2010 alone there were 21,528 new products introduced. The largest share of overall new products included gum, candy, snacks, beverages, condiments, and processed meats. I didn’t say there were healthy products being introduced. In fact, the smallest amount of new foods introduced were meal replacements and special diet foods. Hmmm. Do I see a correlation here between the most new foods and our continuing high obesity rates?

When we shop I see more and more junky foods on the shelves and the end caps. We agreed we would try one new food a day and it had to be a healthy choice, not the latest flavor of Doritos. We didn’t have much luck with our weekly shopping trip to Raley’s so it was a field trip to Whole Foods. Now there we had no problem finding new foods. Surprisingly the produce department did not produce the highest yield of untried foods. We went up and down the aisles looking for new foods. It was amazing to me how many different foods we have eaten over our lifetimes. There were by far more foods we had tried than foods untried. We passed on variations of foods we have eaten. For example, we passed on dried figs because we had both eaten figs at some point. No, we were looking to move out of our food comfort zone.

We had our basket of new foods and set off on our eating adventure. Now I am sure some of the foods we tried may be a typical food for you but they were new to us. We had some winners (yum) and some losers (yuck). Our new foods included:
• Yerba Mate- This is a noncarbonated beverage made from the leaves and stems of a rainforest plant with powers to unite and energize. The canned drink also contained elder flowers, sugar, and some other juices. It tasted like a big yawn. We both gave it a yuck.
• Parsnip chips- Let’s face it. You can take any vegetable, even beets which I DO NOT like, make it into a chip and tastes good. But it is still a chip and not a health food. We gave it a yum and decided like other chips, it’s best not to buy them. “If you don’t buy, you can’t eat it.”
• Tofu shirataki noodles- Hang with me on this one. Tofu noodles? Yup, and only 10 calories with 2 grams fiber for half the package, about 3/4 cup. They come in different shapes, angel hair, elbow macaroni, etc. Now these made me excited. A pasta for weight loss surgery patients! No gummy flour or swelling in the pouch. I made chicken with a tomato sauce and feta to put on top of the pasta. We both gave it a yum and I will buy this again. It is in the vegetarian refrigerator section in Whole Paycheck (excuse me, Whole Foods). It is already cooked and heats in the microwave for 1 minute.
• Tempeh with flax- Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake and is a great source of protein and fiber. I had to find a recipe and made balsamic maple glazed tempeh. It was easy to make, just marinade and bake. We both gave it a yum. Bill loved it and asked me to make “that dark stuff” again.
• Sunchoke, also known as Jerusalem artichoke- It looks similar to fresh ginger and is the tuber part of a sunflower plant. I only bought one because they were: 1) $10.99 per pound and 2) I didn’t know if we would like it. Another recipe hunt. I cut it into slices and roasted it with olive oil and salt. While it was roasting Bill did some online research. He told me it was also known as a “fartchoke”. Good thing I only bought one. We gave it yum but probably won’t buy it again.
• Plantains- I have looked at these stacked next to the bananas, they are a part of the banana family, but didn’t have a clue what to do with them. You can buy them green, yellow, or black. The color of the plantain will determine the cooking method. I bought a yellow one and went on a recipe search. Martha Stewart’s baked plantain chips were pretty good and easy to make.
• Quorn Chik’n Cutlets-Quorn is a meatless and soy-free protein made with mycoprotein from mushrooms and other fungi. I found these in the freezer section. We both gave our cutlet a big yum. Bill loved it. Even though I liked it, I most likely won’t eat it again because it was too processed for me. It reminded me of the pseudo chicken they use in nuggets.
• Better Belly probiotic shots- We both take a probiotic supplement daily and thought we would try drinking it. It was fine but certainly a lot more expensive than the supplement form.
• Celery root- I never bought one before because again, I had no clue what to do with it. Another recipe hunt. I made celery root and potato soup. Another yum from both of us.
• Kombucha- this a probiotic drink made from fermented tea leaves (and I think stinky socks). I know this is a popular drink and maybe there are better brands than the one we tried. It must be an acquired taste. It was like drinking vinegar and I couldn’t do it. Bill mixed it into apple juice and he couldn’t do it either. A big yuck from both of us.
• Kimchi- Another acquired taste. (Translation: yuck.) It is a Korean fermented vegetable dish and usually includes cabbage. Two bites were enough for me. Bill said, “I’m not eating that kookaburra. My gut can’t take any more.”

Vicki’s observations:
• We put our guts to the test with all the fermented foods we tried. It was a probiotic week.
• Jennifer, our surgery scheduler, told me there was alcohol in kombucha and if I drank enough of it I could get drunk. I would rather drink cough medicine if I was that desperate for alcohol.
• Trees, our insurance person, loves kimchi and was the one who suggested we try it. Thanks Trees. Here’s a jar of kookaburra for you.
• The fact that we had to go to Whole Foods and search for new foods made me realize that NOT eating something is not a big deal. I have at one time, eaten most everything I want to eat and I already know what it tastes like.
• It was fun to go grocery shopping on a different mission.

Bill’s observations:
• I am not the one to try new foods as I have a hard time swallowing most foods with my reflux problem. I try to stay with foods I know but this was fun and I enjoyed the experience.
• I now think it is important to give new (healthy) foods a try. You never know when you will really like something new like when I tried tempeh with flax…yummy!!!
• Variety is the spice of life so give something new a try. You never know….you just might find that new food that you will love.
• I would be up for another round of this challenge in 6 months.

The food manufacturers keep adding new foods to the marketplace. Remember their job is make money, not make you healthier. It is your job to make yourself healthier. Read food labels and avoid the marketing hype. Don’t be afraid to give new foods a try but make those new foods wise choices. A safe place to start is in the produce department. Sometimes we need to move out of our food comfort zone.

Next week we’re stretching our limits with the help of a friend. Stay tuned.

Eat Smarter…
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD

Want to catch up on what you’ve missed?
The road to success is always under construction
Challenge #1 Eat everything sitting down.
Challenge #2 Eliminate cheese as an ingredient.
Challenge #3 Walk sideways in your home.
Challenge #4 Include a fresh herb in your daily meal plan.
Challenge #5 If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand.
Challenge #6 Eat the MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables.
Challenge #7  Stand (and walk if possible) while talking on the phone.
Challenge # 8 Don’t eat out of the package. Put your food on a plate or in a bowl.
Challenge # 9 Keep a food record.
Challenge # 10 Power down while eating.
Challenge # 11 Eating to reduce inflammation.
Challenge # 12 Eating to help our environment.
Challenge # 13 Switch it up.
Challenge # 14 The road to success is still under construction.
Challenge # 15 Little bites.
Challenge # 16 Drink your water.
Challenge # 17 Count your chews.
Challenge # 18 The 100 Bite Diet.
Challenge # 19 Start your day right.
Challenge # 20 Holiday moves.
Challenge # 21 Limit TV time.
Challenge # 22 The Paleo Diet: Eat Like a Caveman.
Challenge # 23 Sweet dreams.
Challenge # 24 What color is your plate?
Challenge # 25 Six month reflections
Challenge # 26 Retro-walking.
Challenge # 27 Gimme a high fiber
Challenge # 28 The Half Plate Rule

Challenge #29 Feel Good Week

WBI blue


Vicki Bovee is the Registered Dietitian for Western Bariatric Institute and leads the non-surgical weight loss program, “Health and Lifestyle Program.”