Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Angie Scheetz

Recent Posts by Angie Scheetz:

NIFS Nutrition News: 'Tis the Season for Holiday Baking

holiday bakingOne of my favorite holiday traditions is making fabulous treats for friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.  Entire days are spent baking in the kitchen and the best part (after sampling the treats first hand) is hearing how great everything tastes.  Little do they know that with just a few simple tweaks, those holiday cookies and candy can be dramatically lower in fat and calories.  Here are a few easy substitutions to try:

  • Reduce - Many recipes call for an amount of sugar or fat well above the amount needed for taste and texture. Try reducing these ingredients by 1⁄3 or 1⁄2 when making your recipe. By using non-stick pans and cooking spray, you can reduce the oil or butter on baking sheets and pans.
  • Substitute! There are healthier alternatives to use without compromising taste. Give the following substitutions a try.
    • Eggs - For every egg, use 2 egg whites or 1⁄4 cup egg substitute. Scramblers or Eggbeaters can be found in the dairy/egg section of the grocery store. You can also make your own version of egg substitute: 6 egg whites, 1⁄4 cup nonfat dry milk, 1 tsp. oil, and 6 drops of yellow food coloring. Refrigerate for up to one week.
    • Whipped Cream -Make your own! Beat together 1⁄4 cup ice water and 1⁄4 cup non-fat milk powder until thick. Add 1⁄4 tsp. vanilla, 2 tsp. lemon juice and 1⁄4 cup sugar. Another option is vanilla non-fat yogurt.
    • Baking Chocolate - Use 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder for every ounce of baking chocolate.
    • Applesauce - Rather than using all of the oil, margarine or butter in baked goods, substitute a portion with applesauce. For example, instead of 1⁄4 cup oil, use 2 Tbsp. of oil and 2 Tbsp. of applesauce. The applesauce provides moisture, but you still have the benefits of the fat in the oil and save 23 calories and 28 grams of fat!
  • Prunes - For your best baked chocolate recipes, try baby food prunes as a fat replacement. They retain moisture and add to the color. Substitute the same amount as in the recipe, or try replacing with a portion of the prunes.

Whatever you decide to bake or eat this holiday season, just remember moderation.  Enjoy 1 or 2 cookies, not the whole batch!!  Happy holidays and happy baking!

Topics: nutrition NIFS calories weight control healthy habits

NIFS Nutrition News: Fabulous Fall Recipes for Employee Health

fall harvestThis is definitely my favorite time of year: football, cooler weather, and the return of all things apples and pumpkin! Not only are they chock-full of healthy goodness, but they are also delicious!

Health Benefits of Apples

The old quote “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” could not be more correct. Apples are loaded with fiber (a typical tennis-ball-sized piece has 4 filling grams of fiber), which helps to keep you satisfied. Apples are also high in immune-boosting Vitamin C.

One recent study found that eating apples was linked to a lower incidence of death from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Another surprising benefit of apples is that they may boost your endurance during a workout. The antioxidant quercetin makes oxygen more available in the lungs, and one study showed individuals who had this antioxidant prior to a workout were able to cycle longer.

Health Benefits of Pumpkins

Pumpkins have just as much to brag about as apples. Pumpkin is loaded with Vitamin A, which is essential for boosting your immune system, vision health, and bone health. You also get a significant amount of potassium from pumpkin. This helps keep your fluid and mineral balance regulated, which helps with heart function. That bright orange color from pumpkin means it is high in the antioxidant beta carotene. This means it is heart protective and can help lower your risk for heart disease. Finally, just like apples, pumpkin is loaded with fiber. Each 1 cup of pureed pumpkin has 7 grams—1/3 of your daily needs!

I like to use pureed, canned pumpkin as a fat replacer in cake mixes, brownies, and muffin mixes. Just substitute the same amount of pumpkin for the amount of oil called for in recipes and enjoy a lower-fat and nutritious treat!

Recipes for Employee Health

Try these delicious recipes for making the most of fall apples and pumpkin.

Baked Cinnamon Apples


4 large baking apples, such as Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, or Jonagold
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup raisins
1 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash apples. Remove cores to 1/2 inch from the bottom of the apples. Make the holes about 3/4 to 1 inch wide.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and pecans.
  3. Place apples in an 8-inch-by-8-inch square baking dish. Stuff each apple with this mixture. Top each with a dot of butter (1/4 Tbsp).
  4. Add boiling water to the baking pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until tender but not mushy. Remove from the oven and enjoy! Serves 4.

Calories: 230; Fat: 8 grams; Fiber: 6 grams

Recipe adapted from

Pumpkin Mousse


3 cups cold, fat-free milk
2 pkg. (1.5 oz.) vanilla flavor fat-free, sugar-free instant pudding
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup thawed fat-free whipped topping


  1. Beat milk and pudding mix in medium bowl and whisk for 2 min.
  2. Blend in pumpkin and spice.
  3. Stir in whipped topping.
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Makes 12, 1/2-cup servings.

Calories: 60; Total Protein: 3 grams; Total Fat: 1 gram

Recipe adapted from

Enjoy these fabulous fall super foods while they are plentiful! For more information, please contact me at

Topics: nutrition antioxidants employee wellness immunity fiber

NIFS Nutrition News: Rice and Arsenic

rice When I saw the Consumer Reports article a few weeks ago about them finding high levels of arsenic in rice, my first thought was, “surely they were wrong!” However, after researching it a little further, all of the evidence points to the sad truth that one of our cheapest, quickest, and most popular grains to eat and prepare may be dangerous.

I found this interesting article from the Chicago Tribune that gives tips on how to reduce the arsenic levels in rice. The following excerpt shows what the article suggests you do:

Rinse your rice thoroughly. The FDA cites several studies indicating that "thoroughly rinsing rice until the water is clear (four to six changes of water) reduced the total arsenic content by up to approximately 25-30 percent."

Check your municipal water report. "Make sure your local water supply does not have high levels of arsenic," says John Duxbury of Cornell University, who studies arsenic and rice. "If you do have high levels, washing can make it worse. But if you are under 10 parts per billion, it should help."

Cook and drain your rice sort of like pasta. "We say to use about 6 parts water to 1 part rice," says Michael Hansen, a senior staff scientist at Consumer Reports. "And then drain off the water after it's done." The FDA says that studies show rinsing and cooking in excess water can reduce total arsenic levels by 50 to 60 percent. "However, it should be noted that for enriched rice, rinsing will also likely reduce the amount of added nutrients," the agency said.

Choose aromatic rices. For those who are already fans of Indian basmati or Thai jasmine rices, the news is not so bad. According to the hundreds of recently released test results, aromatic rice varieties show the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic. Imported basmati and jasmine rices showed about half to one-eighth the level of arsenic as regular rices grown in the Southern U.S.

Consider limiting brown rice consumption. From a nutritional and fiber standpoint, brown rice is tops, but because its bran remains intact it can also hold on to higher levels of arsenic, according to test results. Are the nutritional benefits worth the arsenic load? Hard to say at this point. But some test results indicate that brown rice from California and India have [sic] much lower levels of arsenic than brown rice from Southern U.S. states. For now, they may be the best choice.

Choose California. Of the domestic rices tested by Consumer Reports, California rices had lower levels of arsenic than those in other states. FDA rice results also indicated that some U.S. rice had lower levels of arsenic, but the data it released to the public did not specify states of origin.

Be careful when feeding babies rice cereal and rice milk. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office conducted tests of rice cereals for babies that she announced all contained inorganic arsenic. Gerber recently released a statement announcing it now sources its baby cereal rice only from California. Still Consumer Reports advises that children do not drink rice milk and that infant rice cereal (1/4 cup) be served no more than once a day.

Hopefully by following some of these tips and suggestions, we can all feel more confident in consuming this tasty whole grain. More research is currently being done on this topic, so until the conclusion is released, try to rotate other whole grains such as quinoa, barley, couscous, and whole-wheat pasta into your diet and choose rice less often.


Topics: employee health nutrition cancer cereal disease prevention