Archive for January, 2013

Three delicious and distinctive flavor blends stand apart in the premium juice crowd

New Simply Orange and Simply Lemonade Blends Tempt Taste BudsSimply Orange Juice Company is once again setting the standard for great taste with new Simply Orange and Simply Lemonade varieties. These fresh tasting, not-from-concentrate blends offer the premium and distinctive quality for which Simply BeveragesTM are famous.

Launching this month, Simply Orange with Tangerine and Simply Orange with Banana will join the Simply Orange blend family, which includes Mango and Pineapple varieties. Gently pasteurized and loaded with a full day’s supply of Vitamin C, both new blends will allow people to enjoy sweet, tropical flavors as the perfect complement to any breakfast!

Simply Lemonade with Blueberry is all natural, combining the great taste of Simply Lemonade with pureed blueberries to create a perfectly balanced, sweet-and-tart flavor sensation. This delicious drink can be enjoyed at any time throughout the day – and by lemonade lovers of all ages. Simply Lemonade with Blueberry joins the Simply Lemonade family, which includes popular Raspberry and Mango varieties.

“More than ever, consumers are seeking variety in their beverage choices. To meet the demand for new flavors, we are offering refreshing new twists on classic favorites,” said Allison Higbie, Group Director of Marketing for Simply Beverages. “Our new lemonade and orange juice blends are all natural and are made with only not-from-concentrate juices.”

All three new Simply Beverage varieties will be showcased in the brand’s iconic 59 oz. Simply carafe and available in the chilled juice section of grocery stores nationwide. These new beverage blends are the latest additions to Simply Orange Juice Company’s family of juices and drinks, including Simply Apple®, Simply Lemonade, Simply Limeade®, Simply Grapefruit®, Simply Cranberry® Cocktail and Simply Orange. Please visit www.simplyorangejuice.com to learn more about all of Simply Beverages’ 100% juices and juice drinks.

About Simply Beverages

Since the launch of Simply Orange Juice Company’s flagship product, Simply Orange®, the Simply Beverages line has established an impressive share in the chilled juice category. Committed to creating natural, not-from-concentrate juices and juice drinks that offer premium, fresh taste, the Simply Beverages portfolio also includes Simply Lemonade®, Simply Limeade®, Simply Apple®, Simply Grapefruit®, and Simply Cranberry® Cocktail. Simply Juices® and Simply DrinksTM are available at retailers nationwide in a variety of sizes: 59 fl. oz. carafe, 13.5 fl. oz. carafe, and 89 fl. oz. package.



New Weight Watchers Red Velvet Creme Cakes Help New Year's Resolutions Last

According to a new survey from Kelton, research shows that almost half of the people who made a resolution in 2012 stopped following through with it by the end of the year. One way to avoid becoming part of this statistic in 2013 is to choose foods that don’t force you to sacrifice on taste.  It is easier to stick to weight loss goals when you don’t completely give up your favorite foods—even an indulgence like cake.

And now even red velvet cake lovers can enjoy the rich taste they crave without all the calories. Weight Watchers Sweet Baked Goods is introducing Weight Watchers Red Velvet Creme Cakes, a better-for-you version of the treat people love in a snackable size.

Weight Watchers Red Velvet Creme Cakes are a perfect combination of rich filling made with real cream cheese surrounded by moist red velvet cake and covered with a delicious layer of sweet icing.  Decadent and rich, these cakes feel indulgent while remaining waistline-friendly with each pre-portioned cake being only 90 calories and a PointsPlus® value of 2.

New Red Velvet Creme Cakes join the other popular Chocolate, Lemon and Carrot Creme Cakes as well as Chocolate Brownie, Coffee Cake, Cookie and Muffin varieties in the Weight Watchers Sweet Baked Goods line.  Look for them at your local grocery retailer for a suggested retail price of $3.49.

About Weight Watchers Sweet Baked Goods
The Weight Watchers Sweet Baked Goods lineup consists of a variety of snack cakes, coffee cake, cookies, muffins and brownie offerings. With emphasis placed on great taste, Weight Watchers Sweet Baked Good products help consumers live sensibly while enjoying the sweeter side of life in a portion-controlled offering. Dawn Food Products, a family owned bakery supplier based out of Jackson, Michigan, produces each item in the product lineup.

Americans to Eat 1.23 Billion Chicken Wings Super Bowl Weekend

Chicken wings have become a staple food of Super Bowl parties in the U.S., and demand for them on menus is now at an all-time high leading up to the second biggest eating day of the year – Super Bowl Sunday.

Super Bowl weekend is unquestionably the biggest time of the year for wings.  According to the National Chicken Council’s 2013 Wing Report, more than 1.23 billion wing portions will be consumed during Super Bowl weekend in 2013, as fans watch the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens battle for the Lombardi Trophy.

To put that into perspective, if 1.23 billion wing segments were laid end to end, they would stretch from Candlestick Park in San Francisco to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore… 27 times.

Super Bowl wing consumption is down about one percent, or 12.3 million wings, compared to last year’s numbers, but not because demand for them is declining.  Quite the opposite, explains Bill Roenigk, chief economist and market analyst at the Washington, D.C.-based National Chicken Council.

“Chicken companies produced about one percent fewer birds last year, due in large part to record high corn and feed prices,” Roenigk said.  “Corn makes up more than two-thirds of chicken feed and corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, due to two reasons:  last summer’s drought and pressure from a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol.  Simply put, less corn equals higher feed costs, which means fewer birds produced.”

Ranch Hands Bleu Cheese Decisive Defeat in New Poll

Almost six in 10 (57 percent) U.S. adults who eat chicken wings said they typically like to eat their wings with ranch dressing, according to a new National Chicken Council poll conducted by Harris Interactive*.   Only about three in 10 (35 percent) prefer bleu cheese dressing.

Adults who eat chicken wings who live in the Northeast, though, are significantly more likely to prefer bleu cheese dressing (47 percent Northeast vs. 32 percent Midwest, 30 percent South and 32 percent West), while those in other parts of the country are more likely to prefer ranch dressing (65 percent Midwest, 56 percent South and 64 percent West vs. 44 percent Northeast).

The data also show that nearly four in five U.S. adults (79 percent) eat chicken wings and that consumption does not vary significantly by region or gender.  Women (77 percent) are just as likely as men (82 percent) to roll up their sleeves, break out the wet naps and eat a few wings.

“The data show that chicken wings are not bound by gender or geographic lines,” added the council’s Roenigk.  “We also know that they are nonpartisan and politically independent.  That is, there are really no extreme left wings or extreme right wings.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, among adults who eat wings, women are more likely than men to say they like to eat their wings with celery (39 percent women vs. 28 percent men).

After ranch dressing at the top:  43 percent of wing lovers chose barbecue sauce as their typical snack or dipping sauce; 38 percent said hot sauce; 35 percent said bleu cheese; and 34 percent chose celery. Fewer than one in five wing lovers (8 percent) described themselves as purists who eat nothing with their wings.

Wing-onomics

The vast majority of wings, especially those destined for restaurants, are disjointed, with the third joint (the thin part known as the flapper) being exported to Asian countries and the meatier first and second joints being sold domestically.  The wing is usually split into two parts – or portions or segments – known as the “drumette” and the mid-section or “flat” and sold to restaurants or retail grocery outlets.

A chicken has two wings, and chicken companies are not able to produce wings without the rest of the chicken.  Therefore, the supply of wings is limited by the total number of chickens produced.  When the demand for wings is stronger than the demand for other chicken parts, the price of wings will go up, as it has this past year.

The wholesale price of wings will be the most expensive ever during Super Bowl XLVII as demand rises and the supply has shrunk.  Wings are also currently the highest priced part of the chicken.

Wholesale wings are currently at about $2.11 a pound (Northeast), the highest on record at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, up 26 cents or 14 percent from a year earlier.

Wing prices always go up in the fourth quarter of the year as restaurants stock up for the Super Bowl and prices usually peak in January during the run-up to the big game.  But many analysts expect that demand will hold steady even after the NFL season ends.

“Demand for wings is proving more and more to be inelastic,” Roenigk added.  “With the rising number of restaurants with menus dedicated to wings, the return of the NHL hockey season, the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament and then the start of grilling season, wing demand should remain hot.”

But Roenigk adds that consumers shouldn’t worry about any shortage of wings on Super Bowl Sunday or any time soon.

“The good news for consumers is that restaurants plan well in advance to ensure they have plenty of wings for the big game,” he said.  “And some restaurants are promoting boneless wings and some are offering flexible serving sizes.  But if you’re planning to cook your own wings, I wouldn’t advise being in line at the supermarket two hours before kickoff.”

Retail Grocery and Supermarkets

According to Nielsen Perishables Group FreshFacts® data, both fresh and prepared wings totaled $1.6 billion in sales for the 52 weeks ending November 24, 2012, an increase of 5.4 percent compared to a year earlier.

Wing sales at grocery stores and supermarkets spike dramatically the week of the Super Bowl, but the data show that consumers also stock up the week before, too.

Americans to Eat 1.23 Billion Chicken Wings Super Bowl Weekend

Consumers cooking their own wings at home can find traditional and unique chicken wing recipes on the National Chicken Council website at www.eatchicken.com.  With Super Bowl XLVII being played in New Orleans, Cajun-style wings might be in order.

Food Service/Restaurants

Originally on and off various fast-food menus, chicken wings have become a staple of casual dining and pizza places.  Virtually every casual dining chain offers chicken wings as an appetizer, if not also as an entrée.

Increasingly, ready-to-eat or heat-and-eat wings are showing up in the delicatessen and prepared foods section of supermarkets, a growing trend.

“Orders at carry-outs and restaurants for chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday will increase more on that day than any other winter Sunday – a 156 percent increase,” said Harry Balzer, vice president of the NPD Group, a market research firm.

Chicken is a very popular dish overall on that day… and it’s not just wings.  According to NPD Group data, chicken strips will also be up 43 percent over a typical winter Sunday and orders for fried chicken on the bone will be up 33 percent.

Wing-specific Restaurants are Hot on Super Bowl Weekend

Wingstop, a Texas-based restaurant franchise with 550 locations, is prepping for the biggest day of the year when they expect to sauce and toss more than six million wings at restaurants across the country. Wingstop expects Super Sunday business to be up 15 percent over last year, and if Wingstop reaches its goal this will be the 13th straight year the company has set a big game sales record.

“The Super Bowl is the second biggest eating holiday of the year, after Thanksgiving. With the growing demand for wings, we are gearing up for this to be our biggest year yet,” said Charlie Morrison, Wingstop president and CEO.

The Rest of the Year – 2013

Although America’s taste for chicken wings is no hotter than during Super Bowl weekend, the National Chicken Council estimates that overall in 2013 more than 13.25 billion chicken wings, about three billion pounds, will be marketed as wings (as opposed to the wings on a whole chicken, for example).  The actual number of wing portions sold is estimated to be 26.5 billion because, as noted above, the vast majority of wings are cut into two segments or portions.  This is about a two-percent decrease from 2012, reflecting chicken production estimates for 2013.

History of the Chicken Wing

Deep-fried chicken wings have long been a staple of Southern cooking.  But the concept of cooking wings in peppery hot sauce was born in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, when co-owner Teressa Bellissimo cooked leftover wings in hot sauce as a late-night snack for her son and his friends.  The boys liked them so much that the Bellissimos put them on the menu the next day.  Served with celery slices and bleu cheese sauce, “Buffalo Wings” were an instant hit.

Dick Winger, who sold hot sauce to the bar, went on the road with Dominic Bellissimo, the owners’ son, to promote the item and sell hot sauce, and the item gradually caught on with restaurant operators around the country.  The concept hit the big time in 1990, when McDonald’s began selling Mighty Wings at some of its restaurants.  KFC rolled out Hot Wings a year later, and Domino’s Pizza introduced its own wings in 1994.  They’ve remained hot ever since.  McDonald’s is back in the wing business this year, currently testing its Mighty Wings in 500 Chicago-area locations.

Chicken Wings and Football – A love story

The rise of the chicken wing and its correlation to American football all had to do with timing.

Cooking the whole bird was trendy in the sixties and seventies, but in the eighties U.S. consumers started preferring boneless-skinless breast meat, and wings became an inexpensive byproduct for chicken producers.  Restaurants and bars realized they could charge low prices for the relatively inexpensive  protein, and due to the spicy/salty nature of the sauce, they discovered that beer sales would go through the roof when customers ate wings.

At the same time, sports bars with multiple TVs and satellite dishes were becoming more and more common in America thanks to rapidly developing technology; and the most popular sporting event to watch with friends in bars is football.  Wings were easily shareable and affordable, a great “group food” to eat with other people, and are the perfect pairing with a pitcher of beer.   And so the relationship was born.

*Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the National Chicken Council from January 14-16, 2013 among 2,050 adults ages 18 and older, of whom, 1,586 eat chicken wings. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.  For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Tom Super at tsuper@chickenusa.org.

The National Chicken Council represents vertically integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens.  Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

Craft Beer Sales Double in Past Six Years, Set to Triple by 2017

While the economic downturn has affected consumer spending across many sectors, craft and craft-style beers are defying recessionary trends with an impressive upward trajectory. Indeed, latest research by Mintel on the craft beer market in the US shows that sales of craft beer nearly doubled between 2007 and 2012—increasing from $5.7 billion in 2007 to $12 billion in 2012.

Moreover, the trend toward craft beer options is set to enjoy robust growth through 2017, with Mintel forecasting the segment to grow to $18 billion by 2017 — a result that will see the segment tripling in the decade between 2007 and 2017.

Jennifer Zegler , beverage analyst at Mintel, says:

“The growth rates seen by craft beer are impressive, especially during a period when domestic and imported beers have shown a flat to declining performance. Unlike its domestic and imported beer counterparts, craft beer has been able to defy overall beer market trends and continue expansion during the economic downturn and subsequent slow recovery. While the craft and craft-style beer category remains a small segment of the $78 billion U.S. beer industry, the category has been able to stabilize the overall beer industry, which has experienced volume declines in the domestic and imported beer categories since 2008.”

The rise of craft beer in the US has been supported by increasing consumer demand. Nearly a quarter (24%) of consumers who drink beer indicate that in 2012 they drank more craft beer sold at stores compared to 2011. Meanwhile, more than one in five (22%) report consuming more craft beer in bars or restaurants.

When looking at age, Mintel research shows that craft beer’s sweet spot is with 25-34 year old consumers. While overall, some 36% of US consumers drink craft beer, half (50%) of older Millennials (25-34 year olds) do so. And craft beer also wins on taste. Some 43% of both Millennials and Generation X say that craft beer tastes better than domestic beer, compared to 32% of Baby Boomers.

Although successful, craft beer is not free from challenges. Only 17% of Millennials and 18% of Generation X say that craft beer is a better value. Instead, a majority (56%) of consumers of all ages feel that domestic beer is better value compared to craft beer. Furthermore, Mintel research found that nearly half (45%) of consumers would try more craft beers if they knew more about them.

“Despite the variety of beer releases created by craft breweries, craft beers are not yet everyday beer choices for most drinkers due to a lack of understanding about their taste profiles. To continue growing, craft beer must be its own best advocate and expand appeal beyond Millennials who are most likely to consume craft beer. An additional barrier is lack of knowledge. Craft brewers need to focus on education through tastings and classes that inform consumers about the differentiation in flavor between craft beer and other alcoholic drinks,” Jennifer Zegler explains.

In addition, Mintel research found that 50% of overall craft beer drinkers express interest in locally made beer, and 25% are interested in purchasing craft beer where it was brewed. Another 39% say that they are influenced to purchase a craft beer if it has a personality to which they can relate.

“Buying local is not limited to supporting one’s homebase; it also provides consumers with the ability to support towns that they do not currently call home. To bring that local feel to consumers regardless of location, craft breweries should consider partnering to create multibrewery variety packs that would offer consumers a taste of one city, state, or region. These taste-of-an-area packages would allow consumers to experience smaller breweries from their own or other geographies,” Jennifer Zegler concludes.

New Cereal with Real Greek Yogurt Bunches is a Smile Waiting to Happen

New Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch CerealParsippany, NJ  (Food News)  Post Foods, LLC, announces the addition of a new variety to the Honey Bunches of Oats family, new Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch cereal, available nationwide. This unique cereal with an unmistakable tasty crunch, combining real Greek yogurt bunches, crispy whole grain flakes and a touch of honey, is the first Honey Bunches of Oats variety to include Greek yogurt.

“Honey Bunches of Oats revolutionized breakfast in 1989 by combining four different cereals to create the perfect blend, and it has been a staple at the family breakfast table ever since. In recent years, Greek yogurt has become a breakfast favorite, as well,” said Dr. Mark Izzo, Vice President of Research, Development and Innovations at Post Foods, LLC. “We channeled the innovation that made Honey Bunches of Oats great – combining favorites – to create two unique granolas that unite both the sweet taste of honey and slightly tangy taste of Greek yogurt. It is sure to make every family member smile.”

The new cereal features crispy whole grain flakes and two distinct crunchy granola clusters made with real Greek yogurt – one that has the Greek yogurt baked into the cluster and one that blends it into a creamy Greek yogurt style coating, for an unmistakable crunch and sweet, tangy flavor. In addition to its unique taste, each one-cup serving of Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch has 33 grams of Whole Grains, 80 percent of the Daily Value for iron and is a heart healthy choice to start mornings off right.

For more information, please visit www.honeybunchesofoats.com and www.facebook.com/honeybunchesofoats.

About Post Foods, LLC
Post has enriched the lives of consumers, bringing quality foods to the breakfast table since the company’s founding in 1895. Post’s portfolio of brands includes diverse offerings to meet the taste and nutritional needs of all families, including such favorites as Honey Bunches of Oats®, Pebbles™, Great Grains®, Post Shredded Wheat®, Post® Raisin Bran, Grape-Nuts®, and Honeycomb®. Post is dedicated to health and wellness, offering consumers a variety of cereal choices to meet their nutritional needs from whole grain and fiber to lower sugar offerings. For more information about Post Cereals, visit www.PostFoods.com.

New Snack Smoothie Shakes Things Up In The Diet Aisle

The South Beach Diet® launches a fruity, delicious, nutritious smoothie with only 100 guilt-free calories

New York, NY  (Food News)  South Beach Diet® today unveiled a new addition to its popular family of nutritious and convenient foods — rich, creamy South Beach Diet® Snack Smoothies. Packed with protein and fiber that satisfies all the way to the next meal, Snack Smoothies contain only 100 guilt-free calories. And, unlike most shakes sold in the diet aisle, Snack Smoothies have no artificial flavors or sweeteners. South Beach Diet Snack Smoothies are available in three taste-tempting flavors — Strawberry Banana, Wild Berry, and Perfectly Peach — and are in stores now.

“I’m so happy to be learning healthy habits for life. It has been so great learning how to make better food choices for me and my family. The Smoothies are a delicious part of my diet plan. I got my first compliment last week and my fat pants are almost falling off of me now.  It is awesome motivation to keep going,” said Jenna, a 30-year-old mom from West Palm Beach, FL, who has embraced the South Beach Diet for the last 10 weeks and has already lost 20 pounds!*

“We’re pleased with the high level of consumer excitement about the South Beach Diet Snack Smoothies,” added Elise Donahue, CEO of the South Beach Diet. “We like the idea of shaking things up in the diet aisle by providing a refreshing, fruity, nutritious snack that smoothly satisfies taste and hunger and is a perfect fit in a balanced, weight-loss plan. These Snack Smoothies are delicious treats, and a great snack, whether you’re on a diet or not.”

New South Beach Diet Snack Smoothies are shelf-stable, single-serve, ready-to-drink smoothies that help you feel full and satisfied between meals, with 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. Made with natural sweeteners like monk fruit extract, ounce for ounce, each thick, rich Smoothie has 45% less sugar than the leading weight-loss shake.**

South Beach Diet Snack Smoothies join the trusted brand’s popular health-directed products, including tasty Sweet Delights — natural sunflower seeds and soynuts coated in real dark chocolate, its high protein and fiber Meal Bars, 100-Calorie Snack Bars such as Fudgy Chocolate Mint, natural whole-grain Good to Go Bars , and delicious Good to Go Bars — Extra Fiber.

*Expected weight loss 1-2 lbs. per week when following the South Beach Diet® plan and exercise.

**South Beach Diet Smoothies: 8g sugar per 8 fl. oz., vs. the leading weight-loss shake, which has 18g sugar per 10 fl. oz.

About South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet, a trusted choice for millions seeking a total solution for losing weight and gaining health, is a globally recognized brand with a portfolio that includes a substantial new offering of nutritionally balanced foods, available to consumers in over 30,000 doors nationwide (including Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, Publix and Safeway); SouthBeachDiet.com, a compelling interactive web property that provides tools for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, recipes, exercise routines, customized meal plans, and support from registered dietitians; the fully featured South Beach Diet mobile app, that offers premium content and the easiest to use, most feature-rich diet experience in mobile; and a continuing series of #1 New York Times Bestselling books, with over 23 million copies in print, written by renowned preventive cardiologist Arthur Agatston . The South Beach Diet is where healthy never looked so good.™

Kansas City, MO  (Food News)  Hostess Brands Inc. has selected Flowers Foods, Inc. as the stalking horse bidder for the majority of the assets related to the Company’s bread business, including the Butternut®, Home Pride®, Merita®, Nature’s Pride® and Wonder® brands.

The agreement includes, in addition to the brands, 20 bakeries, 38 depots and other assets. The purchase price consists of $355 million in cash (increased to $360 million if certain license rights are included in the sale).  The Company’s remaining bread brands, as well as its snack cake business, will be sold separately.

Hostess has also selected Flowers as the stalking horse bidder for the Company’s Beefsteak® bread brand. The purchase price consists of $30 million in cash for the brand. The transaction does not include facilities or additional assets.

Hostess has requested that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York authorize the Company to proceed with an auction with the two Flowers proposals as the stalking horse bids, provided the Company receives additional qualified bids. If approved, the stalking horse bids will serve as the opening bids in the auction. The final sales will be made to the highest and best bidders at the auction, subject to Court approval.

“We are pleased with the Flowers offers and look forward to a robust auction process that will allow these iconic brands to continue and to maximize value for all of the Company’s stakeholders,” said Hostess Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gregory F. Rayburn . “We also continue to negotiate with parties interested in purchasing our snack cake business and remaining bread brands and expect to select additional stalking horse bidders as soon as reasonably practicable.”

Hostess has asked the Court to order that the auction take place on February 28 and that a Court hearing to authorize the sale to the highest or otherwise best bidders commence on March 5. The schedule and the Flowers proposals are subject to Court approval. A hearing to consider approval of the bid procedures motions is scheduled for January 25.

Hostess selected the Flowers bids after Perella Weinberg Partners, Hostess’s financial advisor, conducted a bidding process that involved contacting 169 potentially interested parties, 87 of which signed confidentially agreements.

Jones Day provided legal advice to Hostess on the transaction. Flowers was advised by Deutsche Bank and Kilpatrick Townsend .

About Hostess Brands

Founded in 1930, the Company’s products include iconic brands such as Hostess®, Wonder®, Nature’s Pride®, Dolly Madison®, Drake’s®, Butternut®, Home Pride® and Merita®.

Heart Healthy Lean Beef Recipes

Classic Beef Stew

These days, many people are re-evaluating their diets to lower cholesterol and fat. They’re looking closely at foods to eliminate or cut back. One item that shouldn’t be on the chopping block is lean beef.

It may be surprising, but lean and extra lean beef are nutrient-rich sources of protein that complement a low-fat diet. In fact, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a healthy lean diet that includes lean beef as well as fruit, whole grains, vegetables and nuts, showed similar effects on cardiovascular disease as a similar diet without lean beef. In the study, people using either diet showed a reduction in LDL cholesterol compared to those eating the typical healthy American diet.

Mitzi Dulan, a nationally recognized nutrition and wellness expert and team sports nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals, understands that lean meat is an essential part of a healthy diet. “Lean and extra lean beef have tremendous nutritional benefits and provide more bang for your buck to healthy diets,” said Dulan. “Adding lean beef into meals is a quick and easy way to inject necessary protein in your diet, in a low-fat, heart healthy way.”

Dulan recommends several considerations for using lean beef in a healthy diet:

  • Look for beef that is “lean,” which by USDA definition contains less than 10g of fat, 4.5g or less of saturated fat, and less than 95mg of cholesterol per serving. “Extra lean” contains less than 5g of fat, 2g of saturated fat and 95mg of cholesterol per serving. Brands such as Laura’s Lean Beef are excellent options.
  • Lean beef can be easily substituted into many favorite and time-honored meals to make versions that are delicious and lower in fat and cholesterol. Whether making chili in the cold winter months or burgers for summer grilling, lean beef is a quick fix for healthier meals.
  • Lean beef is an excellent source of protein, which provides fuel for the body, helps maintain a stable blood sugar level and takes longer to digest, helping to reduce cravings. While the benefits are real, those looking to obtain a healthy diet must, as with anything, remain mindful of portion control.

For more tips and recipes using lean beef, visit www.laurasleanbeef.com.

Classic Beef Stew
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Makes 8 servings
1 tablespoon oil
2 pounds Laura’s Lean Eye of Round Roast cut into 2-inch cubes
2 cups sliced onions
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, sliced
4 large celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 medium carrots
4 large baking potatoes (about 2 pounds) cut into eighths
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup fat-free beef stock (double strength)
1 tablespoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil in skillet. On medium-high heat, sear meat cubes in skillet until browned on all sides.

In a separate bowl, combine canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock, basil, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture over meat and vegetables in roasting pan.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to 250°F and bake for 2 hours or until meat is very tender to the fork. Baste occasionally.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
CALORIES 260 (15% from fat); FAT 4.5g (sat 1.6g); PROTEIN 31.9g; CARB 26.5g; FIBER 8.8g; CHOL 51mg; IRON 13.2mg; SODIUM 547mg.

Deliciously Smart Substitutions

When you’re hungry and pressed for time, it’s tempting to swing through the drive-thru or order takeout. But while these seemingly convenient choices save you time, they might cost you in calories, fat, sugar and sodium. Here are some easy ways to make smart substitutions throughout the day that are also time-saving.

Breakfast: Eating breakfast starts your day off right and helps you control hunger.

  • Save up to 300 calories by substituting a doughnut or danish with a small English muffin and a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter. You’ll also get the added benefit of protein, which gives you energy to start the day.
  • Be mindful of what you add to your morning coffee. Your on-the-go 16-ounce latte could contain as much as 330 calories, 13 grams of fat and 40 grams of sugar, and could be costing you. Substitute with a 12-ounce cup of coffee with skim or soy milk, a pinch of cinnamon and a natural sweetener like honey.

Lunch: You can enjoy a satisfying, convenient and smart meal whether you’re at home, work or out to eat.

  • If you can, avoid full-calorie pizzeria pizza and look for products such as Weight Watchers® Smart Ones® Thin-Crust Pepperoni Pizza. The blend of reduced fat cheeses with a zesty tomato sauce on a crispy-thin crust will give you 8 grams of whole grains and has 300 calories — compared to the 440 calories from the standard takeout slice.
  • When you have to have that classic all-beef patty, less is more. Keep it simple and balanced with a whole grain bun, ketchup, lettuce and tomato. If you’re more adventurous, try turkey and veggie burgers for fewer calories and less saturated fat.

Snacks: Snacks can be part of a smart diet — you just have to enjoy the right kinds of snacks in moderation.

  • If you’re hungry for something sweet, opt for a low-fat Greek yogurt sweetened with honey, which is much lower in calories than a milkshake, and offers probiotics.
  • If you’re craving something salty, try a handful of lightly salted almonds, which are packed with protein and will help you feel satisfied so you won’t be tempted by chips or other salty snacks.

Dinner: Being smart about portion sizes as well as your entrée choices lets you stay on track and enjoy your evening meal.

  • Forget takeout chow mein, which could have up to 490 calories (200 calories from fat), and eat in with an alternative, such as Smart Ones Sesame Noodles with Vegetables, with only 280 calories (25 calories from fat).
  • Divide up your entrée — either share it with your dining partner, or ask for a to-go box and put half of your food in the container as soon as it arrives. Not only do you get a more appropriate portion, but you also stretch your dining dollar into two meals instead of just one.

For more deliciously smart substitution tips, recipes and ideas — including breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner and desserts — visit www.eatyourbest.com.

Soup Essentials

Hearty Pasta Fagiole with Ham

Few things warm your body and soul quite like a bowl of hot and hearty soup on a chilly day. Don’t be left out in the cold this winter. Make sure you have a pantry stocked with the right ingredients to make a delicious, comforting soup any time your taste buds desire. Here’s what you need:

Grains and Legumes — Grains, pastas and legumes are a must. They offer filling fiber along with great taste and texture.

  • Brown rice
  • Long grain rice
  • Rigatoni
  • Small pastas such as orzo or ditalini
  • Farfalle
  • Egg noodles
  • Canned beans such as pinto, black, cannellini/white kidney, and lentils
  • Couscous
  • Quinoa or barley

Vegetables — Adding two or three vegetables to a recipe brings color, flavor and vitamins to your soup.

  • Roasted peppers
  • Canned corn
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Dried mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery

Broths and Stocks — For an inexpensive way to season your soup, make your own stock and freeze it for whenever you need it. You can also buy broth at the grocery store and save in your pantry until needed. Either way, make sure to keep a variety on hand for different kinds of soup.

  • Low sodium chicken broth or stock
  • Beef broth or stock
  • Vegetable broth or stock
  • Soup bases, such as turkey, chicken or beef

Proteins — Make sure to hold onto your leftovers. Ham, bacon, turkey, chicken, beef and sausage can all be great flavor additions. These two soup recipes will help you enjoy every last bite of your remaining Smithfield ham and its rich, smoky flavor.

Winter Root Vegetable and Ham Soup
Serves: 6
2 cups leftover Smithfield ham, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large leek, chopped
4 cups diced butternut squash
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups chopped escarole
3 cups vegetable broth

In medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in cumin; cook 1 minute until fragrant.

Stir in broth, butternut squash, carrots, potatoes, parsnip, Smithfield ham and pepper. Over high heat, heat to boiling; reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 15 minutes until vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally. Add escarole; cook 5 minutes longer.

Hearty Pasta Fagiole with Ham
Serves: 6
2 cups leftover Smithfield ham, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 16-ounce cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large tomato, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 cups ditalini or tubetini pasta, cooked
2 cups chicken broth
Grated Parmesan cheese

In 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, in hot oil, cook garlic, about 3 minutes, until softened. Add white kidney beans, tomato, chicken broth, ham and pepper; over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To serve, stir in parsley. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Stock up on soup essentials today so you can enjoy the perfect soup any time you want. You can find more recipes and tips like these at www.smithfield.com.

Complete Meals in 30 Minutes or Less

Family Fiesta Soft Tacos

“What’s for dinner?” It’s often the most dreaded question of the day. Between school, activities, work and life, there are nights the big dinner decision doesn’t happen until the last possible minute.

Fortunately, the answer is probably right in your pantry — canned food. Canned foods are not only convenient and budget-friendly, they reduce your cooking time and inspire wholesome and delicious meals your family will love.

Canned items are also one of the best ways to get food directly from the farm to your family’s table. Because many fruits and vegetables are canned directly after harvest, the canning process seals in foods’ freshness and natural goodness, retaining their taste, quality and nutrients. Canned vegetables and fruits often provide as many vitamins and as much dietary fiber as their fresh and frozen counterparts.

So when you’re cooking with canned foods, you can feel confident that you’re serving your family a high-quality, hearty, home-cooked meal. And, most importantly, you know what’s for dinner. It’s in your pantry (a.k.a. your “Cantry.”)

For more recipes, visit www.Facebook.com/CansGetYouCooking and www.Pinterest.com/CansGetUCooking.

Canned Food Items for a Well-Stocked “Cantry”

  • Canned vegetables (peas, corn, carrots, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach)
  • Canned tomatoes (sauce, paste, diced, crushed, whole)
  • Canned beans (black, pinto, garbanzo, navy)
  • Canned fruit (pears, pineapple, peaches)
  • Canned seafood (salmon, shrimp, tuna)
  • Canned flavored beans (baked, refried, seasoned)
  • Canned broth
  • Condensed soups
  • Canned meat (chicken, turkey, roast beef)
Family Fiesta Soft Tacos
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 8
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 pound extra-lean ground beef or turkey
1 can (4 ounces) diced, mild green chiles
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, no salt added, drained
1/2 cup drained canned corn
1/2 cup drained and rinsed canned red kidney beans
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt, to taste
Spray oil
8 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortillas, warmed according to package directions
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup finely shredded lettuce
1 cup diced avocados

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until lightly browned, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add beef and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Add chiles, tomatoes, corn, beans, chili powder, cumin and pepper and stir until heated through, about 3 minutes.

Season to taste with salt, if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and keep warm.

To serve, plate up warm tortillas, dish up cheese, lettuce, and avocado (if desired). Serve with taco meat filling. Assemble and enjoy.

Enchiladas Grandes
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2
Spray oil
4 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2/3 cup canned red enchilada sauce
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 cup warm taco meat filling (from Family Fiesta Soft Tacos recipe)
1/4 cup finely shredded sharp, cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 375°F

Heat large skillet over high heat. Spray with a thin film of oil and wipe out with a paper towel. Cook tortillas on both sides until blistered and soft, about 1 minute per side; keep warm.

While tortillas are cooking, pour 1/3 cup enchilada sauce into a pie plate or small rectangular baking dish, about 6 x 10 inches. Mix the remaining sauce with sour cream; set aside.

Mix meat filling, cheese and cilantro in medium mixing bowl.

To assemble: Fill a tortilla with 1/4 cup of the meat mixture, and roll up like a tight cigar. Place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Pour enchilada/sour cream mixture over enchiladas. Cover tightly with foil and bake until sauce is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Top with green onions.

Smoky Southwest Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 cup canned, sliced carrots, drained
2 cans (3 ounces each) premium chunk chicken breast in water, drained
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch ground chipotle chile
1 cup shredded, pepper jack cheese, divided
1/3 cup evaporated fat-free canned milk or heavy cream
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Cilantro sprigs for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onion and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in soup and broth. Add rice, carrots, chicken, chili powder, cumin, chipotle chile and 3/4 cup cheese; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors; stir in evaporated milk and chopped cilantro. Garnish with remaining cheese and cilantro sprigs.

Stir-Fried Ginger Beef and Broccoli
Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4
12 ounces beef sirloin strip steak, cut in 1/4-inch strips
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons dark molasses
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (divided)
1/2 large red onion, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 cup canned corn kernels
1 can (4 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced gingerroot
1 cup canned, diced tomatoes, drained
4 cups (12 ounces) broccoli florets, cut in bite-size pieces
1/2 cup water
1 scallion, roots trimmed, thinly sliced

Toss beef, soy sauce, water, molasses, cornstarch and crushed red pepper in a mixing bowl until the beef is uniformly coated; set aside for 15 minutes.

Heat wok over high heat until smoking hot. Add 1 teaspoon oil. Add onion and stir-fry until translucent, about 1 minute. Add corn and mushrooms and stir-fry until heated through, about 1 minute. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry another 30 seconds. Transfer to a clean mixing bowl.

Add another teaspoon of oil to the wok and heat until smoking. Add beef and stir fry until browned, about 3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and continue cooking until beef is cooked through, scraping any brown bits clinging to the surface of the wok into the mixture. Transfer to bowl with vegetables.

Add remaining oil to wok. Add broccoli florets and stir-fry until bright green, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup water, toss with broccoli, cover and steam until broccoli is tender, about 2 minutes.

Uncover, return vegetables and beef to broccoli, and toss until everything is combined. Scrape onto a large serving platter. Garnish with sliced scallion.

Chicken Mediterranean Pizza
Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4
2 teaspoons cornmeal
1 refrigerated pizza crust (12 to 14 inches), unbaked
1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce
1/2 cup canned, diced tomatoes, drained
1 can (5 ounces) chunk chicken breast, drained and flaked
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch crushed red pepper, if desired

Heat oven to 400ºF.

Sprinkle cornmeal on bottom of pizza pan.

Place pizza crust over cornmeal. Spread pesto sauce over surface of crust. Top with remaining ingredients.

Bake 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and edges are browned.

Recipes and images courtesy of Mealtime.org.