Posted by & filed under Breakfast, Snacks.

We had a treat at the 2014 Shopping for Health meeting – a morning spread of belVita Breakfast Biscuits, paired with fruit and dairy to make tasty and healthy on-the-go breakfasts.

“One of the unique benefits of belVita Breakfast Biscuits is the nutritious sustained energy they provide all morning long,” the Mondelez representative told our group. “The delicious, crunchy biscuits are made with a combination of grains that are carefully baked to release energy regularly and continuously to fuel your body throughout the morning.”

We sampled two types of belVita Biscuits: Mixed Berry and Apple Cinnamon. They were served with small containers of non-fat and low-fat Greek yogurt, making a breakfast that was delicious and portable, as well as healthy! Add to the yogurt a favorite fruit like blueberries or sliced strawberries and you have a complete balanced breakfast.

“Studies show that breakfast eaters enjoy a number of advantages like improved nutrition in their overall diet, improved concentration in the morning and a positive impact on managing body weight,” the spokesperson said. “But despite these advantages, less than half of Americans report eating breakfast every day.

“That’s where we can help. belVita Breakfast Biscuits are specifically portioned in convenient, individual packs to help you grab a breakfast option, no matter what the morning brings.”

Take a look at the belVita nutrition profile for more information:

SFH June 17th

Posted by & filed under Blog Posts, Snacks.

There is serious power in the crunch of almonds, and at the Shopping for Health 2014 conference, we learned just how much nutrition is packed into this little nut!

At a beautiful reception sponsored by the Almond Board of California, an ABC representative talked about the energizing protein, hunger-fighting fiber and essential nutrients found in every handful.  “Ounce for ounce, almonds are the tree nut highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin,” she said. “They are also one of the highest sources of hard-to-get magnesium.”

Organic almonds

Look at this way: There are approximately 23 almonds in a one-ounce serving. That’s plenty to make up a tasty and satisfying snack. And that one ounce provides a wealth of nutrients your body needs, like:

  • 12 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, iron, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium, niacin, phosphorus and calcium
  • 6 grams of protein – as much as is in one egg
  • 13 grams of monounsaturated fat
  • 4 grams of fiber, to help you fill fuller longer

So there’s lot of good news about almonds! And of course, they remain one of shopper’s favorite nuts, both for snacking and in cooking. Check back in a couple of weeks for more information from the Almond Board of California’s reception at Shopping for Health, including some of the terrific recipes that they served our grocery store guests.

*Tan YT, Mattes RD. Appetitive, dietary and health effects of almonds consumed with meals or as snacks: a randomised, controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 2013;67:1205-14.

Posted by & filed under Blog Posts, Watermelon.

Summer and watermelon go hand-in-hand, and for good reason. Watermelons are 92% water, which makes them a perfect hydrator on steamy, hot days, when we need to consume as much liquid as possible. Eating one slice of watermelon is the equivalent of drinking a glass of water, said registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer during her talk to the grocery store RDs at the 2014 Shopping for Health meeting. In fact, study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry states that watermelon is as effective as a sports drink for hydration, muscle soreness and electrolyte replacement after exercise.

There are more than 1,200 varieties of watermelon grown across the globe. This tasty and fun-to-eat fruit offers numerous health benefits, including:

  • Being a potent anti-oxidant
  • It’s rich in potassium, as well as vitamins A, C and B6
  • It’s rich in phytonutrients like lycopene, arginine and citrulline
  • It’s fiber content helps with calorie restriction

AND, with all this goodness and of course great taste, most likely, it is still the least expensive fruit in your store. Take a look at this comparison chart from Elizabeth Somer.  Her complete presentation is available for your use in the “Conference” section of this web site.



Posted by & filed under 2014 Shopping for Health Conference, Blog Posts, Candy, Consumer Research, Fact/Information Sheets, Snacks.

If you were to take a poll asking your shoppers about their favorite aisle in your store, what do you think they’d say? How about the candy aisle? If nothing else, it’s full of variety and fun to shop.


There’s no doubt that most people love candy, kids and adults alike. The  challenge for store dietitians, of course, is how to communicate to shoppers about the healthful way to include candy in the diet. We know people should keep candy consumption to a moderate level, as opposed to eating it in excess. But what does ”moderate consumption”  even mean?


The National Confectioners Association is studying alternatives to restriction on candy consumption, in ongoing research at Pennsylvania State University. Preliminary results show that parental restriction of candy is associated with children’s lower self-regulatory control. Also new from  Purdue University is a study showing that for people with a low level of self-regulation of candy consumption, restriction from eating chocolate was not an effective approach to reducing caloric intake from candy.


What is known:

  • Research suggests that forbidding certain foods may be counterproductive.
  • Dieting and restrained eating may lead to overeating and poor body weight control in children and adults.
  • It is more productive to promote moderation rather than restriction.


Speaking at the Shopping for Health 2014 conference, the National Confectioners Association announced work on establishing a definition for “moderate” consumption of confectionery. This would recommend  50 – 100 calories of candy in any one day, or a larger serving size of 250 – 500 calories one or two days a week. This definition would follow guidelines established by the American Heart Association, the Institute of Medicine, USDA and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


These individual organizations’ recommendations are as follows:

New Picture (3)

Posted by & filed under 2014 Shopping for Health Conference, Blog Posts, Consumer Research, Fact/Information Sheets, Seasonal/Special Events, Snacks, Vegetables / Fruits.

We ate lots of strawberries at Shopping for Health 2014, courtesy of the California Strawberry Commission. And along with these tasty dishes, we all learned some new health and nutrition facts about America’s favorite fruit. Consider:

  • There are 110 published studies on strawberries relevant to human health since 2006. They extol the virtues of strawberries in fighting oxidation and inflammation, to reduce risk of chronic disease
  • These studies show emerging evidence that strawberry consumption can:
    • Reduce cardiovascular disease: Prevent LDL oxidation
    • Reduce hypertension: Improved endothelial function
    • Reduce diabetes risk
    • Prevent cancer: Activate tumor suppressor genes
    • Reduce inflammation: Decrease IL-6 and CRP after high fat meal
    • Promote brain health: Reduce memory and motor decline of aging

The good news for retailers is that berry sales in general are up about 5% over just a year ago. Strawberries have seen a .6% increase in sales volume. Strawberries are the largest volume of the berry segment, accounting for 50.3% of berry dollar sales. This is followed by blueberries (25.6%) and raspberries (13.7%).

More consumers are eating fresh strawberries with greater frequency in 2013 compared to 3 years ago – with better than half (52%) consuming them once a week or more often – compared to 35% in 2010. Consumers who think that “strawberries are one of the healthiest types of fresh fruit you can eat” has increased from 40% to 50% (since 2010; all statistics provided by the California Strawberry Commission.)

The majority of consumers are aware of strawberries’ high Vitamin C (80%) and antioxidant levels (73%). And 70% of the respondents in this survey indicated that if they knew more about the health benefits provided by strawberries, it would affect their purchase/usage behavior – up from 60% who said that in 2010.


America: What is Your Favorite Fruit?


Posted by & filed under 2014 Shopping for Health Conference, Consumer Research.

Did you know that only ten percent of American children eat the USDA recommended amount of vegetable servings per day? (That’s according to the 2010 State of the Plate report; other surveys show even more depressing numbers!) Why, parents everywhere ask, is it so hard to get kids to eat a serving or two of vegetables every day – let alone the recommended three to five servings, for kids over the age of six?

At Shopping for Health 2014, Birds Eye Frozen Vegetables hosted a presentation and lunch to tell our grocery store dietitian guests about the work the company is doing to turn around this situation. Their strategy? Help moms on the front line – in the kitchen– by providing recipes and products that are tasty and easy to prepare.

Here’s a great example from the Birds Eye “Making the Healthy Choice the Fun Choice” lunch at Shopping for Health 2014!


Confetti Stuffed Bell Peppers & RiceNew Picture (2)

Serves 4


4 large bell peppers, cut in half length wise and seeded

1 bag (12 oz.) Steamfresh® Mixed Vegetables cooked according to package directions

1 bag (10 oz.) Steamfresh® Whole Grain Brown Rice, cooked according to package directions

1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese, divided

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

1/8 tsp. black pepper


Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine prepared Mixed Vegetables, Brown rice, ½ cup mozzarella cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce and black pepper in a large bowl.

Arrange peppers on prepared pan; spoon mixture into peppers. Pour ¼ cup water into pan around the peppers. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, until peppers are tender. Remove foil and evenly sprinkle peppers with remaining cheeses.  Bake uncovered 5 minutes or until cheese melts.



Posted by & filed under 2014 Shopping for Health Conference, Consumer Research, Fact/Information Sheets, Ingredient, News, Protein.

photo 1The American Egg Board was at Shopping for Health 2014, talking to our supermarket RDs about protein — and specifically, protein at breakfast.

The typical American diet consists of a skewed protein distribution: About 10 grams of daily protein intake at breakfast, followed by 20 grams at lunch and then 60 grams at dinner. That’s because most of us take our protein in the form of a meat-based dinner, right? This is a concept that is ingrained in our culinary routine.

But research shows this is not the best way to consume protein. More optimally for absorption and energy production, protein consumption should more evenly distributed – say, 30 grams at breakfast, then 30 at lunch and again at dinner. The problem: It’s hard enough to get many people to eat breakfast at all, let alone a meal that contains protein. A bagel or a bowl of cereal doesn’t do it.

Enter the Egg. The average large egg provides 13% of the amount of high-quality protein needed daily, along with just 72 calories. This protein helps provide satiety to make breakfast last through the morning, perhaps reducing the urge to snack before lunch. High protein intake photo 2is important to promote muscle growth and development.

At Shopping for Health 2014, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast with several egg dishes. One example of a portable, protein rich breakfast for a busy morning: Stuff a biscuit or bagel with scrambled eggs, ham and cheese! Or, keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge and eat with a piece of toast and a small cup of fruit.

Posted by & filed under News.

At the recent Shopping for Health conference, we talked strawberries, we ate strawberries, we cooked with strawberries, we loved strawberries! And who doesn’t? Your shoppers sure do – many say strawberries are their favorite fruit!

Most likely, your produce aisle is loaded with them. Here are some tips from the California Strawberry Commission to give to your shoppers on how to select the best strawberries, and how to freeze them for later use:

California strawberries are fully ripe at the time they are picked and do not continue to ripen after harvesting. When shopping for fresh strawberries:

Examine clamshell on all sides to make sure there are no signs of mold.

Select strawberries that are shiny with a vibrant red color and fresh green caps.strawberry

Refrigerate in clamshell as soon as possible.

Rinse before removing stem, and right before serving.

To Freeze:

Rinse and pat dry.

Slice stem off at top of berry.

Place uncovered in freezer for at least 12 hours, or overnight.

Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.

Transfer strawberries to a freezer bag.

Frozen strawberries can be stored frozen for several months.

Check back for more strawberry tips, facts and recipes. At Shopping for Health, we can talk about strawberries year –round!

Posted by & filed under 2014 Shopping for Health Conference, News.

DSC_0094The fourth annual Shopping for Health conference for retail dietitians and consumer affairs advisors just wrapped up in fabulous Charleston, SC – and what a terrific meeting it was! Representatives from major grocery chains around the country spent several days in this historic and culinary-forward city, learning about consumer shopping trends, new ways to use social media, nutrition updates and new recipe applications for favorite products. Many leading food industry sponsors were also on hand, spending time updating this important group about their products.

If you couldn’t join us, we missed you! But check the Shopping for Health web site weekly for photos, special presentations and other information from the conference. We have it all here and are ready to share with you, and, if you’d like, put you in touch with the researchers and speakers who made the news.

First up:

What’s Changed in Consumer Eating Patterns, since Shopping for Health started? Here are some stats from Darren Seifer of the NPD Group, a long-time food and beverage industry analyst who has spoken twice at Shopping for Health:

  • 30% of adults now claim to be avoiding or cutting down on gluten consumption
  • For the average consumer, just 2% of their days (or about 7 days out of a year) come close to meeting all of the goals of USDA’s My Plate
  • As recently as 2009, Americans were preparing more of their meals at home. But the trend reversed in 2010 and continues to show more food purchased and eaten at restaurants

Posted by & filed under 2014 Shopping for Health Conference.

social-mediaWhile highlighting some of the best ideas in social media today, several issues come up for supermarket RDs. One is that while every company handles social media differently, RDs and consumer advocates need to play a key role because they bring some of the most important ideas to the table. The other is the increasingly shaky ethical tightrope RDs must walk. Here’s a quick overview:

You Hold the Power – While a few RDs actually guide the entire social media effort for their store chain, most provide input to their marketing or PR department – or work with outside agencies who orchestrate their company’s social media. No two companies set it up the same way, but there is one constant worth keeping in mind: as the RD or consumer advisor in the mix, you bring some of the most powerful messages to connect with your shoppers. They don’t want promotions all the time, and they don’t to hear too much company news either. Families want information and advice they can use. From health and nutrition facts, to recipes, new ideas and serving suggestions, you bring the “content” consumers really want. Make sure your team appreciates what you bring to the table: your ideas will increase engagement, and they will soon thank you!

Disclose any Relationship or Arrangement – As brands and commodity groups more aggressively work to get their products and messages in front of you, take care to disclose any relationships. For example, even if you receive a free product to review, that is considered compensation, so you need to disclose that product was given to you to review. And it must be disclosed in the post or tweet itself, not off on an “about us” page or in a footer somewhere. Likewise, if a company has paid to promote a product at the point of sale, or on your website, you must disclose this arrangement if you then discuss the product in social media.