5 Steps to Healthier Living in 2022

Whether you’re looking for a quick bite of information or want to drop some knowledge on your dinnertime companions, here’s our Featured 5 of the Week! 

If you’re thinking about resolutions or want to become more focused on your health and immunity this year, we have some tips for you…

5. Cut Back on Sugar

This is a great first step to improving your overall health.

Sugar is something we talk about a lot here on D2D, and that’s because too much can wreak havoc on our bodies. It weakens our immune system, increases insulin, increases blood pressure, and can lead to diet-related illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. The first step in reducing your sugar intake is to find how much sugar is in your favorite foods. Many companies sneak sugar into seemingly healthy foods like granola and protein bars. Be sure to read the labels! Sneaky sugar includes fructose, glucose, and dextrose. If you see these on your label, be aware that this is just another word for sugar.

We also have lots of recipes with little to no-added-sugar and even healthier cocktails on our website. Less sugar doesn’t have to mean less fun – it’ll help increase your energy levels and help with your overall health!

4. Take Your Vitamins Every Day 

Many government officials report that mid-January will be a high-peak time for Covid resurgence, making this the time to strengthen our immune systems.

At D2D, we love our vitamins because they make us feel better and prevent us from getting sick and help us fight off illnesses quicker. Vitamins also help protect us against diseases like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Whether it’s vitamin D, vitamin C, Nootropics, or even Epicor, it’s so important to add vitamins into your daily health regimen. Think of it as your little sidekick to help fight off any unwanted sickness! But, be sure to talk to your doctor first to make sure you’re taking the right ones.

Protect both yourself and your family by taking your daily vitamins and strengthening your immune system. And, if you’re curious to know how vitamins work in our bodies, click here.

3. Fully Understand a Diet Before You Try It

New Year’s is usually a time where we like to try a new fad diet. But before you jump in, make sure you know everything there is to know about a diet before you start.

Tons of fad diets make their way through all social media channels. Whether it’s Keto, plant-based, vegan, vegetarian — it can feel like these diets tout themselves as “the healthiest!” However, it’s important to know how that diet is going to work with your body. For example, if you decide to take on a plant-based diet, understand that due to the lack of meat you’re consuming, your body will need more complex proteins from other sources.

Understand the difference between complete and incomplete proteins and know which one you’re eliminating and which you’re increasing. B12 is a vitamin found in almost solely animal foods. You may need to supplement B12 into your diet another way if you choose a plant-based diet. If you’re an athlete or lead an active lifestyle, understand that you may need more protein in your diet, so 100% plant-based proteins may not work for you.

We are not saying don’t try new diets, but you may do more damage to your body than good if it’s not the right diet for you.

2. Fuel Your MIND

Ok, let’s talk about your MIND now…

We all do everything we can to keep our health goals on track, but what about fueling your brain? Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. But, you can lower your chances by incorporating some of these foods into your diet. Berries, leafy greens, whole grains, fish, even wine – all of these are known to help the brain in one way or another.

In a study done by Rush University, the MIND diet, much like the components of a Mediterranean diet, led to a 53% decreased risk of Alzheimer’s development for those who strictly followed it, and 35% for those who moderately followed it.

Fuel your body, but also make sure you’re fueling your brain. It is just as vital.

1. Be Mindful…

About your food, your exercise, everything!

The most important thing you can do in 2022 is be mindful about what you’re putting into your body. Food is a primary determinant of the strength of our immune systems, how much inflammation is in our body, and how we fight off viruses.

Read the labels. Understand what they mean. Know what’s going into your body. And, when in doubt, just eat more fruits and vegetables.

5 Healthier Holiday Cocktails

Whether you’re looking for quick information, or want something to impress your friends at dinner, here’s our Featured 5 of the Week!

If there’s one thing we love during the holidays, it’s all of the festive cocktails! There’s nothing better than settling in for the night with a delicious holiday cocktail. But, many of them include extra calories, unwanted carbs, and lots of bad sugar. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of healthier holiday cocktails so we can all enjoy without having to worry about breaking our health goals!

5. Rosemary Gin Cocktail

This cocktail is so light and fresh, you’ll be adding this to your cocktail list for every season!

The Rosemary Gin Cocktail contains gin, grapefruit, simple syrup, and of course, rosemary. But, don’t be afraid – the simple syrup is made from Truvia! Rather than using a simple syrup from the store that’s all sugar, try making this super easy Truvia simple syrup. You won’t notice the difference in the taste, but your body will surely thank you.

This cocktail is perfect to enjoy with friends and they’ll be so impressed with your Truvia simple syrup! Get the recipe here.

4. Red Fox

The Red Fox is a take on a Vodka Cranberry, but much lighter. We first found this drink in while on a trip. Locals of the destination town often enjoy this drink while watching polo matches. When we found out it only contains 140 calories per drink, we knew we had to add it to this list!

With only 3 ingredients, this is perfect for anytime you’re craving a drink but don’t want to spend a lot of time making one. And, it’s holiday red so how can it get any more festive than this?

Impress everyone around you with this pretty, yet super easy and delicious cocktail! Check out the recipe here.

3. Hot Toddy

Picture this: It’s snowing outside. You have the fireplace going, tree lights on, under a blanket. What are you drinking? A Hot Toddy, of course!

There is nothing better than sipping a hot drink on a cold night. And, when hot cocoa just won’t cut it, this hits the spot and it won’t take you any more time to make. The Hot Toddy contains water, lemon juice, honey, and bourbon, with garnishes of apple slices and cinnamon. So light, so many great ingredients, and only 180 calories!

We will probably be making Hot Toddy’s all winter long! If you want to as well, here’s the recipe!

2. Light Tequila Sunrise

Looking for a holiday brunch cocktail? We’ve got you covered!

We all love a good tequila sunrise, but with all of the added sugar, it’s so hard to enjoy one without feeling at least a little bit guilty. That’s why this lighter version is perfect! It still keeps the great taste of a tequila sunrise, but with better ingredients, including fresh squeezed grapefruit or orange juice. It’s also only 150 calories – wow!

So, mix it up, pour it into a festive glass like this one and enjoy! Here’s the recipe.

1. Skinny Santa Claus-Mopolitan

Of course, we have to go with a classic for our number one healthier cocktail, and this one has Christmas written all over it!

This cocktail is sure to get even the Grinchiest of people into the holiday spirit! With only 3 ingredients and 130 calories, these are super easy to make and won’t come with the guilt that a regular cocktail would. They can also be personalized by adding lime juice to the rim then dipping in either Truvia or coconut flakes. It will give the perfect Santa Claus touch!

Whether you’re having a Christmas night with friends, family, or just watching movies by yourself, this is the perfect cocktail to enjoy! Get the recipe here.

Will New Wheat and Barley Genomes Help Feed the World?

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By the time I am 60 years old in 2050, our global population will have increased to 9.7 billion people. That’s an additional ~2 billion human beings that will need to be fed. With over 275 million hectares (680 million acres) of irrigated land globally, researchers note that to grow enough food for our projected population increase, we will need crops to produce more output on existing land.

Experts estimate that to provide for the 2050 population forecast, annual cereal production will need to rise by 50% to about 3 billion tonnes. To do this, we must implement plant breeding technologies as one part of a comprehensive solution for global hunger.

A Genetic Breakthrough in High-Yield Crops

The big news, as reported in the journal Nature, is that researchers have sequenced new variations of genomes in barley and wheat. The international team includes scientists from the University of Adelaide’s Waite Research Institute, along with the 10+ Genome Project, spearheaded by Curtis Pozniak, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. Pozniak is in collaboration with the International Barley Pan Genome Sequencing Consortium, led by Nils Stein, professor at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research.

Associate Professor Ken Chalmers at Adelaide University’s Waite Research Institution inspecting wheat grain.

What does that mean for society today? Because barley and wheat are staple crops on a global level, scientists may have found a way to produce the high yield necessary to feed more mouths within our lifetime. And it’s not just a boon to cereal production; these discoveries bring us one step closer to unlocking the entire gene set, otherwise known as pan-genome, in wheat and barley, which has ramifications for all future research in plant genomics and cereal farming.

Here’s how the research unfolded: Scientists conducting field tests in Chile found a way to increase the amount of protein (expansin) in the plants, which controls growth rate. The result: grains that were up to 12% larger than usual‚ with higher yields as well. In the past, there had always been a tradeoff between grain size and number.

This is especially good news because wheat provides about 20% of the calories consumed by humans, and the current yield is increasing at only about 1% annually — a far cry from the 50% needed to supply the population by 2050. Field results were a critical component, as they helped prove the effectiveness of these variations, by showing that the plants could perform under typical agricultural conditions. The teams of researchers are now working to make this research available to farmers and the greater food industry to help inform their decisions on crop production.

Consumer Acceptance is Key to Survival

Currently, more than 800 million people worldwide are chronically hungry, and about 2 billion are nutritionally deficient. This is a huge public health concern. What’s more, fertile land and water supply are becoming scarcer, and production increases are falling off — amplifying the need for more productive land.

United Nations World Food Program

Gene-editing technologies can only address global hunger and land and water availability if they’ve gained consumer trust. GMOs and gene-editing are some of the most studied plant technologies. They also have the capacity to increase yield and lower chemical fertilizer and pesticide use, provide crops with better resilience to poor climate conditions, ward off pests, reduce post-harvest loss, and produce more nutrient-dense foods.

And yet, even with 30 years of research and countless commercial applications proving that gene-edited or GMO crops are as safe as conventionally grown crops, there is still hesitation from mainstream culture.

What if you were to wake up at 60, 70 or 80 years old, and — instead of looking at flourishing families — you’re looking at 900 million people going hungry, land once used for playgrounds now dedicated to growing food, and the population still multiplying? While this may seem like a stretch, if we don’t accept plant breeding technology and realize its fundamental impact on food security, we may not meet increasing global food demands. More and more people will go hungry.

It seems like a luxury to even discuss consumer food production preference when people in developing countries are dying of starvation. With COVID running rampant, Africa is unable to make use of new plant technology, including GMOs, due to bottlenecks caused by the pandemic. This, as Ruramiso Mashumba, an African smallholder farmer shared with us, is not a matter of preference but truly, a matter of life and death.

So, while our issue here in the United States remains a social challenge of widespread consumer adoption, developing countries are struggling with political barriers, preventing them from using lifesaving technology.

We hope to see more plant technologies such as this emerge and we hope that consumers do their research and come to understand the safety and vital nature of these developments.

5 Better-For-You Holiday Sweets

Whether you’re looking for quick information, or want something to impress your friends at dinner, here’s our Featured 5 of the Week!

The holidays are upon us and for many, it’s a time of love, peace, and eating too many sweets! We know the struggle of wanting to watch movies and eat cookies while not wanting to break your health goals. And, even though a treat is ok to eat once in a while, we have some holiday dessert ideas that won’t make you feel guilty the next morning:

5. Chocolate Banana Mug Cake

Sometimes there is nothing better than a warm, chocolatey cake on a cold night.

This mug cake is perfect for those nights when we’re cuddled in a blanket, watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, and looking for something quick to satisfy a sweet tooth. It has nutritious ingredients, like ground flaxseeds and bananas, and no added sugar. It also requires no messy clean-up because all the ingredients are cooked right in a mug in your microwave!

So, forget processed sweets like sandwich cookies and candy — this mug cake is healthier and more delicious than them all. Find the recipe here.

4. No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies

No-bake cookies get a serious upgrade with this recipe…

Honestly, what’s better than no-bake chocolate cookies? These cookies are chewy, chocolatey, and oh-so-delicious. Since they don’t require any baking time, they are fast and easy to make, and are perfect for your kids to help, too! These cookies are also free of any added sugar, using natural or sugar-free sweeteners such as pitted dates and Stevia.

Grab the family and have some fun making these no-bake cookies (and enjoy them without worrying about a sugar-high) and get the recipe here.

3. Naturally Sweet Pancakes

Picture this: it’s Christmas morning. The kids have just opened presents and now everyone’s hungry. What do you make? Naturally Sweet Pancakes!

These pancakes are perfect for Christmas morning because they are so versatile. You can add any of your favorite toppings and make them as festive as you’d like. They also get the day of overeating sweets off on the right foot because they don’t have any added sugar, but still taste great.

Forget sugary, processed pancakes, and give these a try. We promise you and your family won’t be disappointed!

2. No-Sugar-Added Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone’s favorite cookie but with less guilt…

We bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies every Christmas — it’s a staple sweet around our house during special times of the year. This recipe for chocolate chips with no-added-sugar makes such soft, gooey cookies that we don’t think we’ll ever go back to the original ones.

With only six ingredients and 12 minutes of baking time, these are so quick and easy to make that they can be done right on Christmas morning!

Check out the recipe and give them a try. However, these cookies do include nut butter, so be sure to avoid them if you have a nut allergy.

1. Nutty Coconut Balls

What’s more festive than a cookie that looks like an actual snowball?

Nutty coconut balls are probably one of our favorite cookies of all time and we especially enjoy them around the holidays. They are packed full of nutritious ingredients like cashews, almonds, and unsweetened shredded coconut, and even get their sugar from pitted dates or stevia, so there are no unwanted calories.

These are the perfect holiday cookie with both their look and their taste, and will look great on any holiday dessert table. Find the recipe here.

Meeting Demand: A New Type of Salmon

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Innovation and creative thinking in the protein industry is ever-evolving. You may have read some of our posts on the perils of overfishing our oceans and rivers. So when I heard about the genetically-modified AquAdvantage salmon that addresses sustainability issues as well as the potential to bring income to rural America, I was immediately curious. Of course, I wondered whether it was regulated and what the testing looked like. So I dug deeper and learned a lot about how this fish is grown.

AquAdvantage – What is it?

AquAdvantage Salmon is the first genetically-modified salmon approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada. AquaBounty, the company behind AquAdvantage, has its unlikely farm in Indiana. Yes – the Midwest can grow salmon!

This fish is more sustainable and unique because it can grow to maturity in just 18 months, compared to 36 months for a traditionally farmed salmon. Both take significantly less time than their wild cousins, which can take 7 years.

Farmed and wild Atlantic salmon stop growing during the winter and when they are environmentally stressed. Wild salmon take so long to reach maturity because they are foraging for food, avoiding predators, and dealing with tough environmental conditions. Farmed salmon also have a tough time growing because, even though they are swimming in enclosed sea nets, they are still exposed to diseases, parasites, and sometimes water that is too warm.

30 years ago, the AquaBounty salmon was genetically modified to help survive their early, most vulnerable stages of growth. Just like a labradoodle dog — a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle — an AquAdvantage salmon is a combination of the Atlantic salmon, the Chinook salmon’s growth gene, and a gene promoter from an ocean pout. Not the most attractive fish in the ocean, the major benefit of the ocean pout is that their ‘promoters’ turn on the Chinook growth gene to make the fish grow all the time, as opposed to seasonal growth with the Atlantic salmon’s promoters. And if an ocean pout was on the menu, I would certainly try one, growth promoter and all.

What does the FDA say?

The FDA approved the AquAdvantage salmon as “safe and effective” under the new animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in November 2015.

The FDA studied this fish for over 25 years. The first 10 years were setting up the prenotification process before filing for approval. For the next 15 years, they wanted to prove three things: Is it safe for the fish? Is it safe for humans? Is it safe for the environment? The answer to all three was yes.

Finally, after all these years of research development and regulatory evaluation, the first fish is expected to be harvested in December 2020 at AquaBounty’s farm in Indiana.

There is no mystery involved here. You will know when you are eating an AquaBounty fish when you buy your fish at a market or grocery store. The USDA National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act requires ‘mandatory standards for disclosing foods that are or may be bioengineered’. However, restaurants are not under an obligation to highlight genetically modified salmon on their menu.

Less Feed – Better Conversion Rate

One of the most remarkable attributes of this breed is that, despite its continual growth, it requires less daily food. The on-farm results with AquAdvantage salmon have confirmed the scientific studies and demonstrated that it is possible to produce one pound of fish with less than one pound of feed. This is compared to most farmed Atlantic salmon which take one pound of fish feed to grow one pound of fish.

Grown without antibiotics in Indoor Farms

All of these fish are – and will be – grown in highly-regulated fish farms. If you ever had a fish tank, this is not the same thing. Biofiltration units keep the water clean, fresh, and provide great conditions where this salmon can thrive. Because of the clean environment, the fish do not get sick or acquire sea lice, so they are always grown without antibiotics.

The tanks are completely contained without the possibility of a fish escaping into the wild. Yet they are big enough for the fish to jump and swim in schools – allowing them to be their natural selves.  They do not have to forage for food as they are fed just enough for them to grow and not too much to stimulate excessive waste.

AquaBounty’s indoor grow-out tanks prevent escapement and eliminate parasites that lead to disease.

Stimulating Economic Growth in Rural America

So much of rural America has lost the benefits of agriculture. Bringing fish farms to parts of America is a way to boost economic growth, especially in the mountainous areas such as West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. It is an opportunity to bring jobs and income to areas that have lost their income in part due to bankruptcies in the farming sector, many in the dairy industry.

Riding my motorcycle around some of the beautiful Pennsylvania northern counties, all I see are fallow farms and beautiful, stately barns – falling apart.

AquaBounty has found that Indiana, where the company has its current U.S. farm, and other mid-west locations, are great examples of states committed to AgriTech.

AquaBounty actively works with local and state governments and agencies that are committed to AgriTech. They believe this is the future of agriculture as well as their state’s economic and employment growth.

AquaBounty also closely monitors the USDA Rural Economic Development Program as part of the site selection process.

Why do we need AquAdvantage?

In 2018, Atlantic salmon, second to shrimp, was the most valued farmed fish in the world. The upward projections continue and is expected to grow to 4 million tons by just 2023, from about 3.5 million tons in 2019. The U.S. imports about 400,000 tons of salmon every year. About 70% come from farms – mostly in Norway, Chile, Scotland, and Canada.

Salmon is particularly healthy — it is rich in minerals, micronutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and many vitamins. Not only is salmon good for you, but it is easy to cook for dinner, throw together in a salad, or even have as sushi. More and more consumers are enjoying the health, taste, and ease of cooking it at home.

However, we cannot catch them all with a fishing pole or a fishing boat or we will not have any left.

Remember the Atlantic Cod off the coast of Maine? As a D2D reader, you may have read about the sustainable importance of farmed fish versus wild-caught.

As the oceans become over-fished, there are many benefits to eating fish grown from responsibly managed fish farms and ocean fisheries.

With diligent oversight, these operations help meet demand while natural aquatic habitats improve from current overfished conditions.

What do consumers say about GMO fish?

Concerned about whether consumers would embrace a genetically engineered fish, the AquaBounty management team conducted extensive research to determine their reaction. Here are key points from Quantitative Research Executive Summary:

  • 53% of consumers’ initial impressions of the term GMO/GE are neutral to positive – many are conflicted
  • Respondents are neutral about purchasing products they regularly buy if labeled GMO/GE.
  • Almost three-quarters rank level of trust for government agencies to provide oversight/guidelines as Neutral to Trust Very Much
  • Top-ranked attributes for AquAdvantage Salmon: Chemical free, Nutritious, Antibiotic Free Consistent Access to Fresh Fish, Affordability, FDA Approved

What do NGOs and Political Figures say about a GMO Fish?

When the news came out, even our local fish market had loud ‘NO GMO SALMON HERE’ signs posted everywhere. Of course, it was not sold ‘here’ because the salmon was a couple of years away from being available….

Concern: Anti-GMO, NGOs, and other groups filed a legal challenge in March 2016 in the San Francisco federal court. The first challenge was whether the FDA’s animal drug authority could oversee genetically-engineered animals and fish. The second claim said that the FDA violated core environmental laws in the event these fish escaped into the wild.

Response: Judge Vince Chhabria of San Francisco affirmed that the FDA had the authority to oversee genetically-engineered animals and fish. For the second claim, while he understood that the FDA had thoroughly analyzed the exceptionally low probability of escape, they did not address the consequences if this breed of salmon were to establish a persistent population in the wild. Judge Chhabria ruled that AquaBounty can continue its operations in Prince Edward Island, Canada and Indiana. Nor did the Judge prevent AquaBounty from harvesting in December 2020.

AquAdvantage salmon cannot make the leap from a land-based indoor tank to the wild. All these facilities have tightly-closed septic and water systems to prevent eggs or fish from escaping.

In addition, all the fish will be sterile females and, unlike the protogynous sea bass, a female salmon cannot turn into a productive male, thus procreating with wild salmon – or any other fish for that matter. Once a salmon is sterile – it is sterile.

Other concerns such as those from The Consumer’s Union are worth mentioning as their issues are similar to GMOs overall.

Concern: More and more children are getting allergic reactions to different types of foods, like nuts and eggs. Since these salmon are GMOs, they must contribute to children’s allergies.  They are also an advocate of labeling.

Response: As we have mentioned in previous posts regarding GMOs, all GMOs are tested for allergies…in fact, every single allergy known to humans. AquAdvantage fish are no exception. It is also worth noting that the gene brought into the salmon is a growth promoter. There are no known allergies to naturally occurring growth hormones.

Response:  These GMOs are required to be labeled if they are sold at the fish market or grocery store. However, not at a restaurant.

Concern: GM Watch says that these hormones can cause cancer and the fish could have different protein levels. The concern is that the additional hormones create a hormone called IGF-1 that increases insulin and causes cancer.

Response: When you eat an AquAdvantage salmon, the growth gene from the Chinook salmon and the growth promoter from the ocean pout could not affect you or change your genes.  It is the same as eating any type of seafood. They all have growth hormones – otherwise, they would not grow!

The IGF-1 hormone is necessary for all vertebrae and mammals to mature. While the ocean pout hormone is different than the salmon hormone, this hormone does not produce more insulin in the human body. In truth, the IGF-1 hormone is present in humans already and a too low level might cause diabetes and other health issues.

Concern: This fish has a higher ratio of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats, compared to other salmon that have more omega 3s.

Response: A different growth hormone does not affect the nutritional quality of this salmon. Also, most farmed fish are fed with by-catch. In this case, they are working with an algae product that produces the same fatty acid profile as fish.