The Oldways Table Blog

Celebrating health,
happiness, heritage,
and delicious,
nutritious food.

April 24, 2014 | Oldways Table

During the summer, salads tend to top our weeknight dinner menu.  Avoiding the stove on hot evenings means turning to cooler, no-cook ingredients that simply require some assembly.

During my recent vacation in Arizona I crossed paths with an unusual salad – Cowboy Ciao’s Stetson Chopped Salad. The minute I took my first bite I could not wait to share it with others, because I knew it would make any summer menu sizzle.  Once home from vacation, my husband and I immediately searched online to find out how to make the salad and thank goodness we found the recipe. I cannot take credit for coming up with this dish, but I can guarantee your lettuce won’t be lonely with this line up of ingredients. This chopped salad is what dreams are made of!

Let’s look a the ingredient list (arugula, couscous, roma tomatoes, dried sweet corn, pepitas, asiago cheese, dried cranberries and smoked salmon tossed with a basil pesto buttermilk dressing) and you tell me, would you ever have thought of this fabulous flavor combination?!

Assembling this salad takes a little bit of work but the beautiful presentation is worth the extra minutes.   We have already served it several times and everyone who tries this chopped salad falls in love with it.  We hope you do too.

And if you have any summer salads that make your menu sizzle we invite you to share your recipes too!


(Note:  In the salad above I used raisins instead of dried cranberries and whole wheat couscous.)

April 17, 2014 | Oldways Table

As life gets busier for many of us - dashing to the airport for a business trip, dropping off our kids at their latest sports games, working longer hours with shorter lunch breaks - when do we have time to think about preparing food? And, with half our meals eaten outside of the home, how can we eat healthy while on the go?

Think “Grab and Go”
With the latest “Grab and Go” trend in the food industry (prepackaged, ready-to-eat food distinguished by fresh and healthy ingredients), we no longer have to resign ourselves to finding the nearest fast food drive-thru to quell our hunger. Today, whether you’re a meat lover or a vegan, wholesome and convenient options abound – not only at restaurants (fast food or otherwise) – but at airports and hotels as well.

Check Out Your Local Supermarket
Many retailers have a refrigerated section near the front entrance and checkout, where you can easily find healthy, individual-sized portions for appetizers, entrees, desserts and snacks - prepackaged and priced so you can be quickly on your way. If you’d rather create your own meal, visit the salad bar, deli case and dairy aisle to find inspiration. What’s fun about making your own is you can mix and match flavors and textures to meet your particular taste and dietary needs.

The “Grab and Go” trend started in response to not only our busier lifestyles, but also our adoption of healthier eating habits. Its popularity is due to many factors including convenience, portion control, fresh ingredients, and sensitivity to the handling of food allergens. In our latest Oldways Nutrition Exchange (ONE) Toolkit, we explore the many facets of this growing trend – be sure to check us out this month to learn more. If you haven’t signed up for your free ONE account that gives you access to a year’s worth of Toolkits, you can do so here.

Go, and eat well.


April 15, 2014 | Oldways Table

The right place is Oldways and the right stuff is the wide variety of consumer-friendly resources Oldways has created to help everyone understand and embrace the Mediterranean Diet.  

We’ve been the nation’s leading experts on the Med Diet since 1993, when we created the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid with the Harvard School of Public Health. We have great materials, and we’re embarking on a major campaign to make sure every doctor in the country knows that Oldways can make it easy for them to tell their patients about the Med Diet.

But first, to put this in context:  here are a few facts from the American Heart Association’s 2013 Update. (Circulation.2013; 127: e6-e245 Published online before print December 12, 2012, doi: 10.1161/ CIR.0b013e31828124ad)

1.  Cardiovascular disease accounts for 1 out of every 3 deaths. While the relative rate of death attributable to Cardiovascular disease (CVD) declined by 32.7% from 1999-2009, CVD still accounted for 32.3% (787 931) of all 2 437 163 deaths, or 1 of every 3 deaths in the United States.

2.  Cardiovascular disease costs more than any other disease.  The total direct and indirect cost of CVD and stroke in the United States for 2009 is estimated to be $312.6 billion. This figure includes health expenditures (direct costs, which include the cost of physicians and other professionals, hospital services, prescribed medications, home health care, and other medical durables) and lost productivity that results from morbidity and premature mortality (indirect costs). By comparison, in 2008, the estimated cost of all cancer and benign neoplasms was $228 billion ($93 billion in direct costs, $19 billion in morbidity indirect costs, and $116 billion in mortality indirect costs).

3.  Obesity is associated with risk factor development and incidence of diabetes, CVD and other health conditions.  Obesity (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2) is associated with marked excess mortality in the US population. Even more notable is the excess morbidity associated with overweight and obesity in terms of risk factor development and incidence of diabetes mellitus, CVD end points (including coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure), and numerous other health conditions, including asthma, cancer, end-stage renal disease, degenerative joint disease, and many others.

4.  69 % of Americans are obese or overweight.  2010 data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) show that 36% of adults are obese, and another 33% are overweight. Why? Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicate that between 1971 and 2004, average total energy consumption among US adults increased by 22% in women (from 1542 to 1886 kcal/d) and by 10% in men (from 2450 to 2693 kcal/d).

QED?  The conclusion from these four facts put forth by the American Heart Association is that there is a great need for cardiologists and other physicians to address healthy eating behaviors as part of patient treatment.  From many recent studies we know the Mediterranean Diet is the great-tasting gold standard.

So what is Oldways doing?  Oldways attended and exhibited at the Annual American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Sessions and Exhibition, which was held in Washington, DC.  We were the only food and nutrition organization that exhibited at the ACC, hidden in a back corner in the “Cardio-Smart” Pavilion.  (We did wonder – shouldn’t everything at this show be Cardio-Smart?)

Despite our eastern Siberia location we met hundreds of interested and interesting health professionals, and showed them samples of our “Med Diet 101” brochure, tear pads of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid graphic, our Med Grocery Shopping List and our 4-Week Menu Plan book.  We were excited to hear comments such as:

  • I talk about the Mediterranean Diet every day, sometimes 15 times a day.
  • I need something simple to explain the Mediterranean Diet to my patients – this brochure would be perfect.
  • Finally – this is just what I need to help my patients eat better.
  • I’ve been telling my patients to Google “Mediterranean Diet” but I’d much rather give them your attractive materials, and be sure they’re getting reliable, well-written information.

While it’s quite likely that many cardiologists, nurses and administrators at the ACC didn’t find the Oldways booth in the back of the expo hall, we are encouraged and inspired by the overwhelmingly positive response of those who did stop by. We look forward to reaching more health professionals who are on the front line of saving lives, and introducing them to our Mediterranean Diet Starter Kit. By changing eating habits and embracing the Mediterranean Diet, heart disease and deaths from heart disease can be reduced.  

This is good for individuals and families, and also for society as a whole.  


April 10, 2014 | Oldways Table

Today we embark on a new food journey (and monthly series) into the wacky world of culinary conundrums.  

Use by dates, to freeze or not to freeze and the infamous 5-second rule!  There are many schools of thought on these hot topics.  So, what better way to solve these culinary conundrums than to turn to experts in the culinary and nutrition world, to hear where they take a stand.  Our new monthly series will address one of these topics each month, making for some interesting conversations and fun food fodder!

First up: We ask the experts to answer this age-old, controversial question: “Do you believe in the 5-second rule?"  The answers may surprise you…or maybe not!

“Not in the Food52 kitchen! As far as our apartments go, our lips are sealed.”Editors at Food52
“Absolutely, I'd even stretch it to the 10 second rule - depending upon how clean the floor is.”Melissa Clark, food columnist for The New York Times and cookbook author

“Whether a food is on the floor for five seconds or one second matters little to me. What matters is what food has fallen and whose floor it is. I may eat a tortilla chip off my floor but not a fudgy brownie. Then again, it depends on how hungry I am and if it is the last brownie!”Janice Bissex, Dietitian and one of the Mom’s Behind Meal Makeover Mom

“I practice it every once in a while but only at home and after my house cleaner has cleaned the floors. I would never do it at my restaurant!" Joan Weir, Chef, Restaurateur and Cookbook Author

"Yes, most of the time I do!  I think there is some truth to the hygiene hypothesis, which purports that as we move away from infections we have experienced a rise in allergies and autoimmune diseases.  It may be that certain infectious agents--bugs--we co-evolved with may protect us from immune-related conditions.  The idea is that our ultra-cleanliness may not be such a healthy thing.  However, people can still get really sick--even die--from food borne illness.  So, I think it's important to follow food safety rules and use caution with particularly vulnerable foods, such as with fresh produce, which will not be cooked, and hand-washing after exposure to raw meats, poultry and fish, and after using the restroom, and avoiding cross contamination of raw meats and fresh foods.  And the 5 second rule depends on where I drop my food!”Sharon Palmer, The Plant-Powered Dietitian

“I think it's actually the 3 second rule and no, I don’t really believe in it.”Ana Sortun, Chef, Restaurateur and Cookbook Author

“Do I believe in it? No. But do I occasionally give in to the 5 Second Rule? Yes! If I dropped an apple on the floor, I’d wash it again and then eat it. I’m not gonna lie. Food grows from the ground, after all. When I’m around my 4 year old though, I have to be careful because she doesn’t differentiate between, say, a stadium bathroom floor and our clean kitchen floor, you know? That is a lesson I’ve been teaching her lately.”Michelle Dudash, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Chef Consultant

What do you think about this age-old question? Jump on over to the Oldways forum to share your thoughts and your other culinary conundrums!


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