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Whole Grain Benefits

The Staples Every Runner Needs in Their Pantry



In an ideal world, we would all have the time to plan, shop, and prepare our meals and snacks for the week. The reality is that most of us runners are short on time due to training, work and family commitments; Diet often becomes an afterthought. Enter the pantry staples: stocking up on the right time savers can help you hit your energy and performance goals. Quick, easy options can help prepare a meal or save time in the kitchen while nourishing your body.

When thinking about healthy staples to buy, try dividing your pantry into what your body needs as a runner. The three macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fats – should form your foundation, and adding some color to fruits and vegetables can increase your overall intake of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Healthy Pantry Staples: Carbs

(Photo: Getty Images)

Carbohydrates are our body’s most efficient fuel when we run, and they play key roles in energy production, hormone balance, injury prevention, sleep, and recovery. When considering carb staples for the pantry, a mix of simple and complex carbs can ensure you have variety to suit your needs. Simple carbs break down quickly in the body and can be a great way to fuel up before or after a run, while complex carbs break down more slowly in the body and keep your blood sugar more balanced. Neither is “bad” for you; our body uses both to generate energy.

CONNECTED: Your complete runner’s guide to carbs

Essential carbohydrates that you always have on hand

  • Dry Oats: Whether as a pre-run snack (just cooked quickly due to the lower fiber content; lots of pre-run fiber can be rushed to the nearest restroom), added to smoothies, or to make your own granola, oatmeal is a versatile pantry staple that can help you meet your carbohydrate needs.

  • Granola: Some granolas really score when they contain nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. This can be helpful for runners who need an easy way to consume more food overall to support their training. Look for a granola without too much added sugar (10 grams or less). Bonus points if it also has protein and fat. Purely Elizabeth and Kind Healthy Grains Cereals are convenient options that can be found at most grocery stores.

  • Dried fruits: A convenient, portable carb option that can be a great addition to oatmeal, trail mix, or just on its own. Be careful with sulfur dioxide, which is used as a preservative – it can cause dizziness and headaches in sensitive individuals.

  • Pre-Cooked Cereals: If you’ve ever tried to cook that perfect portion of rice or grain, you know that getting it just right can be difficult and time-consuming. This is where storing frozen or long-life pre-cooked grains can come in handy. Pop it in the microwave so you can add your carbs to any meal on the fly. Brands like Seeds of Change or Tasty Bite offer a variety of options to choose from, but if you see added sodium be sure to check the nutrition facts.

  • Frozen waffles: Frozen waffles are a handy pre-run option and pack a carb punch. Look for whole grain options like those offered by the Nature’s Path brand, and bonus points for Kodiak Cakes that contain carbs and may help keep blood sugar more balanced.

  • Frozen Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables add a negligible amount of carbohydrates, but are important for getting the added antioxidant, vitamin, mineral, and fiber benefits that they provide. Try including a variety of colors to increase micronutrient intake diversity and ensure you cover all your bases to keep you healthy and running strong. Remember that frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen when they are fully ripe!

The story goes on

Healthy Pantry Staples: Proteins

Canned tuna, which is a healthy staple protein

(Photo: Getty Images)

Protein is used as the body’s building block and is broken down into amino acids and used as a support system for neurotransmitters, immune cells and to rebuild muscles that have been damaged during physical activity. Differences in the protein content of the food typically result from whether it is a vegetable or animal protein source. Most often, animal protein sources contain more protein in a smaller amount of food. The protein requirements of endurance runners are higher than those of the general population, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough to help you recover and prevent injury.

CONNECTED: 6 signs your protein intake is too low

stacking proteins

  • Shelf Stable Tofu: Tofu is a plant-based protein option that can be used in smoothies, stir-fries, scrambled eggs, and wraps. Tofu can be thrown in almost anything to boost the protein content. Make sure you have a variety of textures in your pantry — from silky to firm — for added versatility.

  • Shelf Stable Nut Milk: Most commonly used as a base for a smoothie, nut milk allows you to easily fuel up after your run. Choosing a nut milk that contains protein (most contain a large percentage of water) is key. Ripple Pea Milk goes well and comes in a long-life version.

  • canned beans: Great as an accompaniment to a meal or as a base for a bean salad, canned beans contain additional carbohydrates and protein. When choosing your beans, look for BPA-free cans to avoid potential health risks like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

  • Canned Tuna/Salmon or Tuna Packages: A quick snack or addition to any meal, salmon and tuna provide you with the protein you need and added omega-3 fatty acids for anti-inflammatory properties. For eco-friendly options, look to wild-caught, sustainable companies like Wild Planet.

  • Chickpea Pasta: Packed with carbs and protein, chickpea pasta like banza can be a great base for meals or side dishes. Just be sure to check the fiber levels before a big run, or you may have to make a few bathroom stops along the way.

  • Protein powder: While a food-first approach is always preferred, it can be helpful to have a protein powder on hand to mix up a quick shake, boost the nutrients in your overnight oats, or even give your soup a boost. Gnarly Nutrition or Garden of Life Sport are both Certified for Sport tested which can ensure a purer end product free of heavy metals.

Healthy pantry staples: fats

Close up of almond butter

(Photo: Getty Images)

Not only do they make food taste better, fats are also important for proper hormone function and fat-soluble vitamins (vItamines K, A, D and E) Absorption. As a macronutrient, they contain twice the energy (calories) of protein and carbohydrates in a smaller amount of food, making them a convenient choice to meet a runner’s higher energy needs. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can be good choices for stockpiling because of their anti-inflammatory properties.

CONNECTED: New study: Marathon performance linked to fats, potassium and magnesium in the diet

stack fats

  • Olive or Avocado Oil: Used as a dressing, sauce, or cooking base, oils like olive and avocado contain anti-inflammatory monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Great choices are Chosen Foods or Primal Kitchen for avocado oil and California Olive Ranch for olive oil.

  • Nut/Seed Butter: The perfect addition to a meal or snack, nut and seed butters offer great nutritional value with their combination of fat and protein. Watch out for added sugars and preservatives. Try Big Spoon for some fun flavors or 88 Acres for some tasty, allergen-friendly seed butter options.

  • Pesto in a jar: Having a good pesto on hand can not only provide anti-inflammatory fats, but also pack a lot of flavor into a meal. For a traditional twist, choose Kitchen & Love Organics; For something more alternative, try Freak Flag’s kale or tomato pesto.

Meal Ideas with Go-To Pantry Items

Stocking up on your pantry with all the macronutrients can help when trying to lump together quick meals and snacks. The main principle to keep in mind is to select one item from each category, resulting in a meal that provides the energy, vitamins, and minerals to help you stay strong.


  • Smoothie with frozen fruit, frozen spinach, protein powder, oatmeal, nut butter and nut milk

  • Kodiak Peanut Butter Frozen Berry Cake (if you have syrup, drizzle on top for extra carbs)

Having lunch

  • Tofu bowl with pre-cooked grains, sautéed frozen vegetables and pesto

  • Three Bean Chili with Sourdough Bread


  • Chickpea pasta with tomato sauce, sautéed vegetables and cannellini beans

  • Tofu stir-fry with frozen veggies and pre-cooked rice

Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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