Fun Food Fact Friday: Capers!

Photo by Tim Lewis

Recently overheard by Bitchin’ Dietitian’s dad: “This dish would be even better topped with capers!”

Hm, so what ARE capers, where do they come from, and do they have any nutritional value? The salty sour flavor of capers makes them a stellar addition to soups, salads, and main dishes. They’re the unripened flower buds of a prickly perennial plant native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. After the buds are harvested (picked by hand, which is why they cost a pretty penny!), they’re sun-dried and pickled in vinegar, wine, brine, or salt. The curing brings out their lemony flavor.

A serving is generally about a tablespoon and 2 calories. Too little to pack a nutrition punch?! No way! One tablespoon of capers is loaded with enough vitamin E and other antioxidants to give them a place on the health wagon. Plus, even in small doses, they’ve been shown to prevent lipid oxidation. If all you’re hearing is ‘blah blah blah’… how does lowering heart disease risk sound? Jackpot! The only downside is their sodium content… generally about 250 milligrams per tablespoon. But, just keep your focus on lots of unprocessed nature foods and those capers will fit in perfectly.

Try this Penne with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Capers dish for something different. And if you want that caper flavor without the bank-breaking side-effect, here’s a recipe for Poor Man’s Capers.

How do YOU caper?

Fun Food Fact Friday: Bagels!

Do you bounce out of bed on free-bagel Friday?! What is it about those round wonders that gets us pumped for the ball & chain? Could it be the ingredients?…  high-gluten flour, salt, water, yeast, and malt. That must be it: Drop the flour, and you’ve got beer. Or, is it the condiments? The tower of cream cheese, drippy margarine, or peanut butter & jelly combo.

When you gather at the toaster today, here are a few facts to help you choose the best “beygel“. Get as close as you can to the following: 300 calories, 0 grams of fat & saturated fat (since your topping will no doubt have some fat), and <5 grams of sugar. Red and Green lights are indicated:

Nutrition info from Einstein Bros Bagels and Panera Bread

Asiago Cheese: 360 calories, 3 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 71 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 2 g fiber
Chocolate Chip: 370 calories, 3 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 76 g carbs, 10 g sugar, 3 g fiber
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl: 350 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 78 g carbs, 14 g sugar, 2 g fiber
Everything: 340 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 75 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 2 g fiber
Honey Whole Wheat: 320 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 71 g carbs, 11 g sugar, 3 g fiber
Pumpernickel: 320 calories, 0 g fat, 68 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 3 g fiber
Sesame: 310 calories, 3 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 59 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 2 g fiber

As for toppings, reduced fat cream cheese saves you 50 calories & 6 grams of fat, but still adds 130 total calories to your circular sammidge. To go even lower, top your toasty with jam, which adds only 70 additional calories. And how about this?! Hollow-out or “scoop-out” the bagel guts and save yourself 75 calories! 

How did YOU eat it this morning?