Buckwheat Pancakes, Juice and Sugar, Storing Leftovers

Q: I’ve seen buckwheat pancakes on several breakfast menus lately. Are they lower in calories than regular pancakes?
Q: When nutrition experts recommend avoiding sugary drinks, do they mean fruit juice too?
Q: I’ve heard that one way to “go green” and reduce energy consumption is to leave leftovers on the counter after a meal and put them in the refrigerator once they’ve come to room temperature. Is that true?


Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: I’ve seen buckwheat pancakes on several breakfast menus lately. Are they lower in calories than regular pancakes?
A: Although buckwheat flour contains about ten percent fewer calories than an equal amount of white flour, this difference is totally insignificant in regard to a serving of pancakes. Calories aside, buckwheat flour is a great choice (as is whole-wheat flour) as it yields pancakes that are higher in fiber and more nutritious than pancakes made with refined white flour. If you’re making pancakes at home and are unsure of how your diners will react to the heavier texture of a whole-grain product, try making your pancakes with a combination of whole-grain and refined flours. Although this reduces the nutritional gains, it is progress toward the end goal of eating more whole grains. When it comes to the calorie load of your pancakes, take a closer look at how you’re topping them. Loading them with butter or margarine and lots of syrup adds hundreds of calories. For fewer calories and added nutrition, top your pancakes with berries, peaches, bananas or perhaps even a dollop of vanilla yogurt.

Q: When nutrition experts recommend avoiding sugary drinks, do they mean fruit juice too?
A: While a glass of 100 percent fruit juice does contain sugar – the fruit’s natural sugar – thanks to the additional nutrients and phytochemicals it provides, fruit juice is categorized differently than regular high-sugar soft drinks. As a concentrated source of calories, however, even natural juice poses a problem if consumed in large quantities. And, unfortunately, as conventional juice lacks the filling fiber found in whole fruit, it’s easy to take in more calories than you need. For example, one eight-ounce glass of orange juice provides about 112 calories; many people can easily swallow double that amount in one sitting. Yet it would take about two medium oranges just to equal the calories of the first glass of juice. It’s doubtful most of us would even consider doubling those calories by eating four oranges at once. The bottom line: if you enjoy fruit juice, have a glass daily, but remember to watch your portion size (pay particular attention to bottled juices sold at convenience stores as they can contain from double to four times the recommended serving size in one bottle). Get most of your daily fruit servings from solid fruit in order to benefit from the fiber and phytochemicals. Whole fruit will also leave you full and satisfied on fewer calories. And, while tomato and vegetable juices aren’t as concentrated in sugar calories, they too lack the filling fiber of solid vegetables and fruits. As for those juice drinks and cocktails that contain only a small percent of actual fruit juice – those definitely belong in the sugary drink category. Save these for occasional use only.

Q: I’ve heard that one way to “go green” and reduce energy consumption is to leave leftovers on the counter after a meal and put them in the refrigerator once they’ve come to room temperature. Is that true?
A: “Going green” is a great idea, but only in ways that don’t put your health at risk. Once food is cooked, it should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours, which includes serving, eating and cooling times. Small amounts of bacteria that can be found in (or on) meat and other perishable foods reproduce rapidly at room temperature. It is much safer to allow food to cool only briefly before refrigerating it. If you want to speed cooling time, cut food into smaller portions or divide it among several shallow containers.

Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research www.aicr.org

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