The Best Thanksgiving Casseroles

Green Bean Casserole with Caramelized Onions

The purpose of Thanksgiving is more than sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends. It’s a once-a-year reminder to reflect and focus on gratitude. Food guilt should have no place at the holiday table, but it’s common to struggle with this. The goal is to enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving foods without regret. For this month’s Surprising Stars, we want to share our star-earning versions of classic Thanksgiving vegetable casseroles. These are delicious options if you’re looking for traditional comfort and heartiness with improved nutrition.

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The True Horror of Halloween

Berry Scary Shake.

No one wonders why children countdown the days until Halloween. Trick-or-treating is a magical experience. You wear a fun costume, pretend you are someone/something else, and travel from house to house, through dark neighborhoods filled with spooky creatures and decorations. Along the way, you amass a treasure of treats (mostly candy) before getting home, perhaps past bedtime, to tally up your haul.

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Snacks That Earn Stars

Screenshot of Nicole Friedman and Garrick Brown

Nicole Friedman from Retail Business Services, one of our valued clients, interviewed me about why potato chips earn Guiding Stars. We discussed some of the specific nutritional qualities in different potato chips that separate star-earning chips from chips that don’t earn stars. I also shared a few tips on including potato chips in your diet. Finally, we discussed our new Surprising Stars page, which is dedicated to explaining some of the questions we hear often.

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The Color Orange

Butternut Brains

In addition to eating plenty every day, health professionals recommend eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables because it’s the best way to get all of the vitamins, minerals, and nurients you need. Each color group of produce is rich in specific nutrients that help form a well-balanced diet. No single fruit or vegetable – not even superfoods – can provide all of the nutrients you need. Since Halloween is in just a few weeks, we thought we would dig a little deeper (perhaps 6 feet below the ground…) on the color orange. In this edition of Surprising Stars, we will discuss why the color orange is important for our health, share some ways to eat more orange fruits and vegetables and get clear on colors in the Guiding Stars algorithm.

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No Credit for Protein

Selection of high-protein foods like meat and eggs

Protein is an essential macronutrient that must be included in the diet at an adequate amount for good health. Due to their high protein content, foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. According to USDA’s MyPlate, protein foods should make up ¼ of our plates. However, these foods contain a lot more than protein and nutrient density varies because of it. In this edition of Surprising Stars, we will explain why Guiding Stars does not consider protein level as it evaluates the nutrient density of food. 

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Family Dinner Fallbacks

Black Bean Pizza.

The physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals are substantial and in an ideal scenario they would take priority in our family calendars over other activities. However, with conflicting schedules it can be challenging to fit in family meal time. For busy nights, home cooks need family dinner fallback meals that are guaranteed to please and require minimal time and effort. Keeping some basic ingredients on hand will help you whip up a simple, but nutritious meal and avoid the drive thru, takeout or eating at restaurants. This is a win for your family’s health and budget. For this month’s Nutritious Nudge, let’s discuss some fallback recipes that you can call on to consistently and quickly get dinner on the table. 

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Snack Bars Only Go So Far

Homemade Snack Bars

As kids start to head back to school and family calendars become increasingly busy with after-school activities, there’s even more interest among shoppers in convenient snacks that do not compromise on nutrition. Snack bars check off a lot of boxes for consumers looking for on-the-go snacks. They are available in appetizing flavors, have a long shelf life, are packed in attractive single serving packaging, and are perceived as a healthy choice due in part to convincing health claims by manufacturers. However, in terms of nutrition, not all snack bars are created equal. For this edition of Surprising Stars, let’s discuss why there are less Guiding Stars-earning snack bars than some might expect and how to ensure your selection within these foods is nutrient dense. 

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