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Whole Grain Benefits

Better-for-you pizza options join traditional favorites



Delicious, convenient and reliable: pizza is a go-to food. The simple pizza pie checks a multitude of purchasing factors including value, quality and variety and its versatility accommodates anything from a quick, grab-n-go slice to a culinary exploration of restaurant-like results at home. Its highly adaptable format, which has proved virtually pandemic-proof, can be indulgent while also finding balance with better-for-you options.

While traditional forms of pizza show no signs of stagnation, there is a steady gravitation toward better-for-you diversification. This includes a rise in pizza crusts that follow clean label, low carb or low net-carb, whole grain, plant-based, vegan and gluten-free diets and lifestyles that respond to health-minded consumer demands, said Matthew Schueller, director of marketing insights and analytics, Ardent Mills, Denver.

Authenticity leads those demands – whether that’s pizza made with traditional ingredients and methods, leading with the origin story of a product, or seeking out the perfect flour, sauce or toppings to accommodate individual desires.

Starting point

That means starting with a great baseline. Many consider a quality dough and crust to be the most important component of pizza, according to Technomic’s 2020 Pizza Consumer Trend Report.

There are a myriad of options available these days from the traditional and artisan made with minimal ingredients to crusts made with heirloom and ancient grains and those fortified with a variety of plant-based ingredients.

Delorio’s, Utica, NY, is a pizza dough supplier and manufacturer of premade frozen pizza dough, dough balls, organic dough, pizza dough flats, shells, breadsticks and alternative crusts for food service along with retail pizza kits and dough products featuring crust, sauce and cheese.

Looking to meet growing demands for crust that tastes great and dovetails with dietary demands, Delorio’s offers broccoli and cauliflower plant-based crusts, gluten-free, keto and sweet potato and chickpea crusts. Cargill, Minneapolis, has seen tremendous growth in the better-for-you pizza segment in retail led by a rise in demand for gluten-free crust with cauliflower as a leading option.

For customers who wish to offer whole-grain, gluten-free, non-GMO dishes, Ardent Mills provides organic flours and specialty grains that can produce a cleaner label eating experience. Add-ins such as quinoa, chickpea flour and spelled further boost nutrition, texture and flavor for health-conscious consumers, shared Lindsey Morgan, head of product marketing, Ardent Mills.

In 2021, the company introduced its Net Carb Flour Blends for use in a range of bakery and snack applications for consumers looking to manage their net carb intake. The calculation of net carbs subtracts the total grams of fiber and sugar alcohols from total carbohydrates. Crustless pizza, otherwise known as pizza bowls, is another option to enjoy pizza with a lower carb count.

Top that

Plant-based is also seeing robust growth in pizza toppings. Favorites like Italian sausage crumbles, pepperoni and minced meats and meatballs in plant-based form deliver a familiar look and nutritional benefits to conventional, animal-based products. Those looking to boost the protein content of their pizza can look to plant-based pizza toppings made with pea protein and textured pea protein.

Plant-based cheese offerings also continue to refine their offerings with greater emphasis on meltability and flavor. Schuman Cheese, Fairfield, NJ, offers its Vevan brand with Vevan Shreds for dairy-free and vegan pizza options.

“Consumers are looking not only for good tasting dairy-free cheese, but they also want it to perform like ‘real’ cheese,” said Allison Schuman, chief business development officer at Schuman Cheese. “Our Vevan Mozza-Shred is made by our master cheesemakers, so they stretch, pull and melt like dairy cheese. We think that in the near future, the performance of cheese is going to be a deciding factor for some shoppers.”

Another important factor in the purchase of pizza ingredients is longevity and authenticity. Pastorelli Food Products, Chicago, is the manufacturer of Italian Chef Pizza sauce, the first fully prepared pizza sauce in a can, created in 1952. The fourth-generation, family-owned company creates oils, vinegars, and tomato products for foodservice, retail and bulk.

“When we invented fully prepared pizza sauce in the can, there was a demand for convenience in the kitchen,” said Richard Pastorelli, chef, Pastorelli Food Products. “Now, we are seeing trends circle back to making dishes and ingredients from scratch.”

Alignment with values

This includes a return to the idea that less is more when it comes to pizza toppings, with consumers seeking out higher-quality ingredients and a growing awareness of sustainability when producing items.

For its authentic products, Pastorelli chooses to harvest domestic tomatoes, which is better for the environment than imported tomatoes, and in 2018, the company began packaging its Italian Chef Pizza sauce in a re-sealable glass jar to reduce environmental impact.

The trifecta of sustainability, better-for-you and good taste continue to push the bar, and the pizza category is no exception. Transparency across the entire product lifecycle is of growing interest to consumers from how the ingredients are grown to how products are made and packaged.

Last year, Ardent Mills launched its regenerative agriculture program to help strengthen the soil ecosystem and assist producers in improving the productivity and profitability of their farms. By the end of this year, Ardent Mills has committed to enrolling 250,000 acres of spring and winter wheat into its regenerative agriculture program. The program’s goal is to advance regenerative agriculture practices and build the grower base over the next three years.

Continued innovation

A product borne out of regional communities, pizza is a natural go-to when it comes to gatherings. Pastorelli predicts the pizza-making category will continue to see growth, especially in younger family households along with young adults. New audiences and new takes on the classic will likely continue to give rise to pizza as a food that inspires chefs and provides at-home cooks permission to experiment with flavors, cultural influences and ingredients.

Products such as Premium Gold ricotta cheese from Saputo, Lincolnshire, Ill., offer a way for foodservice operators to up the ante with restaurant-style pizzas featuring ricotta and figs or to brighten up a vegetarian offering.

“Consumers aren’t shying away from unique flavor combinations in the crust and toppings,” Schueller said. “Pretzel crusts, beer or ale in the dough and infused flavors are fairly new trends we expect to grow.”

Cargill is seeing consumers experimenting with “mashups” – flavor juxtapositions along with tried-and-true flavors. Its qualitative insights found that consumers are most likely to customize a cheese or pepperoni pizza and they’re doing it with a variety of toppings, including fresh chicken, ham or ground beef; as well as produce items such as peppers, garlic and spinach.

When it comes to a pizza bowl or a traditional or alternative crust, toppings are only limited by one’s imagination. Pizza variations run the daypart gamut with breakfast and dessert pizzas and internationally inspired flavors. Examples include Mediterranean-inspired hummus, tandoori chicken and Greek yogurt-topped pizza and pies with infusions of cream such as Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper) and mac and cheese. For the adventurous, there’s even ceviche, fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices.

“The highly visual nature of pizza invites consumers to share anything from a pizza’s artisanal quality or showcasing the uniqueness of toppings,” said Thomas Andersen, consumer insights manager, Cargill.

The International Pizza Expo 2021 showcased Korean beef bulgogi pizza, duck-and-sour cherry pizza, and cheese bread topped with French fries and BBQ sauce. New contenders will likely be introduced at this year’s International Pizza Expo. Held March 22-24 in Las Vegas, pizza makers from around the world will attend workshops in pizzeria management, educational sessions and equipment. Stay tuned for more pizza trends from the International Pizza Challenge, a gathering of 200 of the world’s best pizza makers.

Looking forward

Yelp predicts that blonde pizza, a white pizza without tomatoes, is likely to become a 2022 sensation. Datassentials forecasts artisanal pizza as a top pizza trend with staying power. New Haven-style pizza, popular in 2021, continues to trend as popularized by the One Bite pizza reviews of Dave Portnoy, founder and CEO of Barstool Sports, on YouTube and Twitter.

New Haven-style pizza can be compared to classic Neapolitan or New York-style pizza but in a thinner, crispier version. The pizza features an extremely thin crust, distinctive char and uses 00 Caputo flour to make the dough tender and chewy.

“One of America’s favorite foods is heading toward a very interesting phase of innovation – from flavors to formats and ingredients and potential benefits,” Schueller concluded. “It will be extremely exciting to see how this category grows and unfolds and what creative applications come from it.”

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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