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 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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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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Local Foods

Sausages on a campfire

Supermarket sales continue to show shoppers’ growing interest in and demand for local foods. In the Hartman Group’s Health + Wellness 2019 report, 69% of consumers say they look for locally grown or produced foods and beverages when shopping. To meet this demand, grocers are sourcing and marketing more local foods in their stores. The same Hartman report noted that consumers across the board see locally sourced foods and beverages as healthier, but is that true? In this edition of Surprising Stars, let’s explore how Guiding Stars evaluates local foods and determines if they really are a nutritious choice.  

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Why do some potato chips earn Guiding Stars?

Baked Seasoned Potato Chips

Potato chips are among America’s most popular “snack foods” and sales spike during the summer months. There’s no wonder why, unless you’ve never tasted a potato chip. They are the classic high-fat, salty snack designed to make it hard to stop eating once you’ve started. Most Americans recognize that potato chips are a food that should be eaten in moderation. At the same time, due to shopper demands, there are an increasing amount of better-for-you chip options to choose from at the supermarket. For this month’s Surprising Stars, I’m going to explain why some potato chips earn Guiding Stars. 

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