Monthly Archives: March 2015

Spring into Vegetables

In the United States, we are very lucky (or very spoiled, depending on how you look at it). We can get almost any food at any time of the year, regardless of what’s in season. On the other side of the world, where our winter is their summer, Chile provides fruits and vegetables to the United States all winter long.

our commitment to buying local

Nonetheless, even though these fresh foods are available all winter, it doesn’t mean they’re comparable to fresh food that is grown nearby. Modern produce transportation is a miracle, but food grown closer to home will have a fresher taste and better nutrients.

Whenever possible, we at USConnect strive to provide the freshest, most local food available. This means our salads use greens grown closer to our commissaries, and they come fresher to you. Try some carrots with hummus; locally grown carrots are sweeter and more tender than those that have been transported. Whenever possible, add some vegetables to your meal; the extra nutrients will make you healthier. Dark vegetables like kale and spinach have the most nutrients and anti-oxidants.

What can you do at home? Snap peas and green beans are delicious in the spring. Try sautéing them with some minced shallots and a light coating of vegetable oil. Asparagus is a classic spring vegetable; try grilling or roasting it with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or bake it in a quiche with mushrooms and red onions—providing protein and vegetables in one dish. A lovely spring salad combines baby spinach, sliced strawberries, chopped green onions, and crumbles of blue, goat, or feta cheese. Toss with a champagne vinaigrette for a lovely light flavor.

No matter how you get your vegetables, you can be sure that spring is a great time to begin. The warmer weather encourages us to get outside and reduces cravings for fat- and carb-heavy comfort foods. It’s spring, and it’s time to freshen up with vegetables!

The Match-up: Diet vs. Regular Soda

Which is better – diet or regular soda?

When colas like Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola were first introduced in the late nineteenth which soda is better to drink? Regular soda or diet soda?century, their companies touted their health benefits. Advertisements claimed that these drinks could aid digestion, cure headaches, relieve exhaustion, and bring refreshment to the day.

Over a century later, no one drinks soda for the health benefits. In fact, most medical experts agree that soda—both diet and regular—is expressly bad for your health. But if you’re desperate for a cola, is your best choice diet or regular? Read on for what the experts say.

Regular Soda:


  • Regular soda contains sugar, a naturally occurring substance. Regular soda fans cite the taste of sugar (as opposed to artificial sweeteners) as well as the potential health hazards of the chemicals in artificial sweeteners to support their preference for regular soda.
  • The 140 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar in an average 12-ounce soda may seem like a lot, but these numbers are actually low compared to some other sugary drinks; bottles of Snapple and Starbuck’s Mocha Frappuccino, for instance, both contain around 200 calories and plenty of sugar.


  • Regular soda’s 140 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar per 12-ounce serving can add up quickly. Many Americans drink more than a serving a day, a habit that can correspond to over 10 additional pounds of body weight a year.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to this country’s obesity crisis and to a rise in metabolic syndrome (the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke).


Diet Soda:


  • Most diet sodas are zero-calorie drinks, so in theory, they don’t contribute to weight gain (see below for more on this). One recent study funded by the American Beverage Association found that diet soda can actually help people who are trying to lose weight.
  • Since diet sodas do not contain sugar, they are not as bad for your teeth as regular soda.


  • The artificial sweeteners in diet soda can fool the body into craving more sugar—leading to greater weight gain.
  • A long-term study found that people who drank diet soda were 48% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke later in life than those who did not.

The Conclusion?

Regular and diet sodas both have positives and negatives. When in doubt, go for a nice drink of water!


Do You Know Your State Snack?

Many people are familiar with their state flower, or maybe their state bird (hint: the cardinal, the mockingbird, and the Western Meadowlark all have at least five states as their “official” home). However, did you know that many states have their own official food? The following list shows the official snacky foods for each state:

Alabama (state nut): pecanofficial-state-snacks

Arkansas (state fruit): tomato

California (state fruit): avocado

Colorado (state pastry): cinnamon roll

Connecticut (state cookie): Snickerdoodle

Florida (state pie): key lime pie

Georgia (state prepared food): grits

Hawaii (state muffin): coconut muffin

Idaho (state food): potato

Illinois (state snack): popcorn

Indiana (state pie): sugar cream pie

Kentucky (state fruit): blackberry

Louisiana (state fruit): strawberry

Maine (state treat): whoopie pie

Maryland (state food): blue crabs

Massachusetts (state doughnut): Boston cream doughnut

Minnesota (state muffin): blueberry muffin

Missouri (state dessert): ice cream cone

Nebraska (state soft drink): Kool-Aid

New Hampshire (state fruit): pumpkin

New Jersey (state fruit): blueberry

New Mexico (state cookie): bizcochito

New York (state snack): yogurt

North Carolina (state fruit): Scuppernong grape

North Dakota (state fruit): chokecherry

Ohio (state beverage): tomato juice

Oklahoma (state treat): cornbread

Oregon (state nut): hazelnut

Pennsylvania (state cookie): chocolate chip cookie

Rhode Island (state drink): coffee milk

South Carolina (state snack): boiled peanuts

South Dakota (state bread): frybread

Tennessee (state fruit): tomato

Texas (state snack): tortilla chips and salsa

Utah (state snack): Jell-O

Vermont (state flavor): maple

Virginia (state muffin): blueberry muffin

Washington (state vegetable): Walla Walla sweet onion

West Virginia (state fruit): Golden Delicious apple

Wisconsin (state pastry): kringle

What can you do with this seemingly useless information? Make at-work dining more fun by challenging your co-workers to a scavenger hunt; see who can find the most state foods during the course of a week! Yogurt (New York) is always easy to find at our Bistro To Go™ kiosks, and do any of our fruit drinks contain chokecherry (North Dakota)? How about a nice Cobb salad with avocado (California) or a golden delicious apple as a snack (West Virginia)? Don’t go too heavy on the Boston cream doughnut (Massachusetts) as you eat your way around the country at work!