Category Archives: Health

Better For You Back to School – Industry Insights

back to school blog pic

It’s July.  The kids are beginning to get restless and parents are already thinking about sending their kids back to school.  With the selling season right around the corner (August-September) retailers can begin to focus on additional seasonal opportunities for back to school.  Families are beginning to get into shopping mode so it’s time to benefit from some creative marketing and enjoy the incremental sales that are generated.


In recent years, the percentage of households switching their kids to homemade, packed lunches – at least a few times a week – has almost doubled.  Parents are making an increased effort to avoid school hot lunches for 3 key reasons:

  • School lunches are not nutritious.  Only 6% of school lunch programs nationally meet the nutritional requirements established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • They contribute to childhood obesity.  Compared with kids who brought lunch from home vs. those who ate school-prepared lunches were more likely to be overweight or obese (38.2% vs. 24.7%)
  • They can take a bite out of your wallet.  Packing a lunch for your children means that you can choose healthy and inexpensive items to keep them fueled for the school day.

With specialty & natural food sales at an all-time high and a health conscious community screaming for additional healthy options, retailers find themselves in the enviable position of offering high growth specialty & natural items to mom’s that are interested in good health and tasty alternatives.  Transform ends with high visibility into back to school destinations. Recommendations include:

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly with Almond Butter as an upscale/healthier option.  Almond butter sales were up 20% last year which equals half a pound of almonds a year per person in the U.S.
  • Snack size options including pita chips, popcorn, coconut chips, premium fruit snacks and Non-GMO pretzels.  Cross merchandise using clip strips to create additional selling opportunities.
  • Ready to drink beverages; Organic juice/juice box multi-packs, bottled and seltzer water.
  • Grab-and-go breakfast items such as granola bars and fruit/oatmeal squeeze pouches.

According to a study by Viacom’s Nickelodeon, 71% of parents say they solicit opinions from their kids regarding purchases.  Nearly all let the kids weigh in when what’s being purchased is mainly for the kids themselves, but more than two-thirds of parents take their kids views into consideration when making family purchases.

Kids today have more of a say than ever.  In “Preparing for Back to School Merchandising and Marketing Tips” by Debby Swoboda, some unique ideas are featured to engage kids in the purchase process.  Examples include a tasting fair where kids are able to vote on their favorite specialty healthy options and use the results to place “Kid tasted & approved” shelf talkers throughout the store.  Consider holding a contest where they vote online – kids love the internet.  Or create an end cap geared to kids with signage or recipes that educates parents on how to create “nutritious snacks.”

Be creative, add color, make sets attractive, eye catching and make back to school your most important growth opportunity for seasonal and holiday selling.

By Craig Bannon, Chex Marketing Manager

2015 Healthy Food Predictions


With 2014 behind us, we’ve seen the predictions for everything from the fitness trends to look out for to trending baby names. And now, we’ve got the latest foodie trends to come in the new year!


 NBC’s Today Show nutritionist, Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D.N, gives her top 5 picks!

1. Goodbye, diet food. Hello, real food!

There’s been a rise in popularity of eating “clean,” wholesome foods and the trend is only growing.

“Mother Nature got it pretty close to perfect herself—she doesn’t need much help,” says Bauer. “Diet foods, which are often heavily processed and loaded with artificial sweeteners and other suspect ingredients, seem to be losing their appeal.”

Now, people are filling their plates with foods like veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, whole grains and lean protein

2. High-carb goes low-carb.

While, low carbs isn’t necessarily a revolutionary idea, what IS new is how people are going about it. Think comfort foods like mashed potatoes, pasta, and pizza upgraded and made healthier with veggie substitutes like cauliflower or spaghetti squash. Some recipe favorites for: Slim-Style Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower Pizza Crust.

3. Bring on the snacks.

No, we’re not talkin’ that morning doughnut with your coffee or mid-afternoon muffin from the break room.

“You have to choose smart snacks,” shared Bauer. “By that I mean, nibbles that are calorie-appropriate (less than 200 calories) and made up of the right nutrients: fiber and/or protein with bonus points for healthy fat.”

Not only will these nutrients help to stabilize blood sugar levels, but you’ll also keep your energy levels and focus up.

4. Thoughtfully sourced ingredients.

There’s been a real movement towards organic, locally sourced, and humanely raised produce and meats.

“We care about not only how the food tastes and if it’s good for us, but if it’s good for the Earth and everyone involved in the development of that food,” Bauer said.

5. Unusual produce makes a debut.

Sure oldies like broccoli and carrots or apples and oranges are always a nutrition do, but exotic picks like jicama (a Mexican yam or turnip) and sunchokes (the Jerusalem artichoke) are making their way on to people’s plates. “Switching things up is fun, delicious, and will ensure your bowl doesn’t get boring,” noted Bauer. “You’ll also score all the various phytonutrients found in different colored fruits and veggies.”

What do you think about these foodie trends for 2015?

What You Should Know About Cold Weather Fruit

Winter-Fruit-at-PikeDecember is here and temperatures are reaching the lowest lows, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fruit. Here’s what’s in season during winter, whether domestically or globally.


What are Winter Fruits?Fruits that are harvested from December through February and include; citrus, pears, bananas, as well as kumquats, passion fruit, pomegranates.

How to Buy:
Choose conventionally grown or organic but always select those with few or no bruises or brown spots. Fruit should seem heavy for its size, and its skins should be brightly colored. Local is preferred, as it’s usually freshest and most nutrient dense.

How to Read the Label:
On bulk packages or the labels on bulk bins, check for country or state of origin, conventional or organic.

How to Use:
Peel passion fruit, citrus and bananas; use only the seeds of a pomegranate; wash pears and grapes and eat with skin. Eat raw, steam or stew into compotes, or juice. Be creative, fruits are a great dessert.

Health Benefits:
Fruit contains high amounts of antioxidants. Blood, Mandarin and seedless Clementines, Tangerines, Tangelos, Satsumas, Sweet oranges, and Kumquats are high in vitamin C and fiber; Kiwis are high in vitamins A, C, E and fiber; Red grapes and Pears are high in vitamins A and C. Bananas have B-6 and Potassium. Pomegranates fight aging and heart disease with Vitamin K, (only its seeds are used either alone or squeezed into a juice.) Pummelo is a huge citrus, similar to grapefruit, but tastes sweet and mild; good source of Vitamin C and antioxidants.

How to Store:
Bananas, pomegranates, red grapes, and citrus can be kept at room temperature, but all others should be refrigerated, unwashed until ready to eat. When in doubt, refrigerate. Enjoy within 5-7 days.

Smarter Shopping and Tips:
Buy in bulk so it is easy to consume 3-5 servings a day, and keep within eyesight so you’ll remember to eat more!


From Supermarket Guru

Canned Tomatoes 101


Shopping for canned tomatoes and confused with all the choices? Learn the basics here!


What are Canned Tomatoes? Roma or plum tomatoes and their varietals are the most commonly used in cans. They are sold diced, sliced, stewed, roasted, crushed, and ready-cut or whole. They are often packed a “peak freshness” and so a great option when tomatoes are not in season.

How to Buy: Prepared tomatoes, sold in cans, are conventional or organic, sold plain, with basil, chilies or chili seasoning, fire roasted, with onions and garlic, onion and green pepper, or garlic and oregano. Some are imported or gourmet choices at substantially higher prices.

How to Use: Excellent time-saver for creating your own sauces, as peeling, cooking, and the flavoring, is done for you. Use in any recipe that calls for a tomato sauce or blend with cheese or milk for richer sauce. Can be used for Italian, Mexican or Caribbean recipes, or use in soups or stews with vegetable, beef or chicken stock. 

How to Store: Can be stored in a cool dry cupboard until ready to use; once opened, refrigerate in a tightly sealed container.

Health Benefits: Tomatoes are high in fiber and antioxidants, partizcularly the carotenoid, lycopene, well known for promoting eye health and fighting some cancers. Cooked tomatoes have high amounts of vitamins C, A and K, potassium and manganese, and trace elements of many other nutrients. Cooking does not seem to diminish the nutrients significantly. Relatively low in calories (70-80 per ½ cup.) Sodium content varies from 280-700 mg per ½ cup.

Have you tried Daily Panty’s canned tomatoes? These Ohio Valley tomatoes are bursting with flavor and take you back to peak tomato season year round!


Apple Season is Here! Here are 5 Varieties You Need to Know

176087-fruit-applesWe’ve all heard that an “apple a day keeps the doctor away” but most of us can’t remember why. Here is a little reminder: all apples are rich in fiber and potassium. The skin, or peel of the apple contains polyphenols, which are cancer-fighting antioxidants. Apples contain quercetin, which has demonstrated an ability to lower the risk of pancreatic cancer and help with allergies. Apples also have an ability to impact our waist. Research has found that those who ate apples on a regular basis were 21 percent less likely to have a large waist.


Here are five seasonal favorites.

Empire: a sweet/tart flavor, this solid red is crisp and great for snacking and salads. Season September to July.

Ginger-Gold: a sweet/tart flavor, this green-yellow, sometimes with blush apple is crisp and best for snacking and salads. Season August to November.

Honeycrisp: a sweet/tart flavor, this apple is mottled red over a yellow background. Crisp, it’s best for snacking, salads, pies, sauce and freezing. Season September to February.

Jonathan: spicy and tangy, this apple has light red stripes over yellow or deep red. It’s less firm and good for pies and baking. Season September to April.

McIntosh: a tangy, red and green apple, it’s tender and best for snacking, sauce and pies. Available September to July.

As you can see, the fall season produces some of the best tasting apples you can bite into. Do keep in mind that there are about 2,500 apple varieties in the US with over 7,500 internationally, each with its own unique flavor and texture. In general, red apples offer a sweet flavor while green varieties are tart and tangy. Remember apple juice is not a replacement for the whole fruit, it typically contains less fiber and in many cases has added sweeteners; and if you do your research carefully you’ll find that much of the apple juice concentrate that is used in packaged juices is actually produced overseas.

Think local and think whole fruit!

*Source: Supermarket Guru

Health Benefits of Honey


Honey, the sweet fluid produced by honey bees by adding enzymes to the nectar of flowers, has long been rumored to have a multitude of healing powers with everything from relieving a sore throat, allergies, or a stomachache, to using it as a facial mask for healthy skin or mixing with your shampoo for healthy hair. Let’s take a look at honey’s beneficial properties, as well as why it might be a good replacement for table sugar.


Honey has antimicrobial properties, which means that compounds in honey discourage the growth or persistence of many microorganisms. Honey also has the capacity to serve as a natural food preservative and research has demonstrated the potential for honey to reduce enzymatic browning in fruits and vegetables and prevent fat oxidation in meats.
A study from the University of California, Davis found that consumption of buckwheat honey increased antioxidant levels in study participants. Antioxidants provide defense against free radicals, which cause cell damage. The same study also showed no weight gain in participants for the month they were consuming honey. Some participants claimed that eating honey for breakfast actually made them feel full and satisfied. Keep in mind however, researchers are not suggesting replacing antioxidant and fiber rich fruits and vegetables with honey. But, these findings give good reason to consider sweetening your tea with honey instead of sugar. One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories.

Honey acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are non-digestible dietary supplement that help balance the intestinal microflora stimulating the growth or activity of the beneficial bacteria while suppressing the growth of the harmful bacteria. The most common prebiotics are non-digestible oligosaccharides and inulin. Honey contains a variety of oligosaccharides. Research conducted at Michigan State University demonstrated that adding honey to fermented dairy products such as yogurt can enhance the growth, activity, and viability of beneficial bacteria.

All of the combined properties of honey can lead to a healthy immune system, providing protection from colds and flus, as well and boosting resistance to seasonal allergies!

Health Benefits of Tea: Green, Black, and White Tea


Tea is a name given to a lot of brews, but purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids.


The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.

The more processed the tea leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols include flavonoids. Oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented, so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea; but their antioxidizing power is still high.

Here’s what some studies have found about the potential health benefits of tea:

  • Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
  • Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.


Featured Chex Tea: Taylor’s of Harrogate Green Tea with Jasmine

Made with 100% natural ingredients! This tea is high in antioxidants and has a light, delicate flavor with floral aromas!

Kale 101

Kale What is Kale? Kale is a cruciferous vegetable with green leaves (Brassica oleracea), with several varieties: curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (lLcinato or Tuscan) kale, all differ in taste, texture, and appearance. more…

How to Buy: Look for firm, evenly colored, unwilted leaves (yellow edges indicate age) and moist hardy stems. Avoid those with brown spots or small holes.

Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and a lively pungent flavor with an edge of pepper. Ornamental kale (salad savoy) has either green, white, or purple leaves and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head; mellow in flavor and tender in texture.

Dinosaur kale or Lacinato or Tuscan kale has dark blue-green leaves with embossed texture and a slightly sweeter, more delicate taste. Smaller-sized leaves are more tender and mild than larger leaves.

“Baby” kale is also available.

How to Use: Steam, bake, sauté or use in a stir-fry, or soup, or with grains. Lightly dress in olive oil and lemon for a raw salad. 1-1 ½ cups are a healthful serving.

How to Store: Place kale in a plastic storage bag removing air as possible. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (some can be stored longer), although age increases bitterness. Wash only before using to avoid spoilage.

Health Benefits: Kale is a nutrition dream, high in fiber, antioxidants and carotenoids (lutein and beta-carotene), and more than 45 flavonoids, particularly kaempferol, anti-inflammatory nutrients (omega-3), and twice the vitamin K as other cruciferous vegetables. Contains vitamins A, C, E, various B vitamins, as well as tryptophan, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, protein, and more. NOTE: Does contain oxalates; those with kidney or gallbladder concerns should monitor intake.

Consumer Trends in Gluten-Free Foods


Gluten-free diets have been a celebrity trend and a social drift for healthy eaters lately. Celiac disease and healthy eating habits have changed the demand for gluten-free products. The demand for gluten-free products has been increasing dramatically across North American and European regions.


The most important factor behind buying these gluten-free food products is that they are considered to be much healthier and conventional products.

It has been released that the Gluten-Free Products Market is currently experiencing a double digit growth! Globally, the gluten-free product market has been projected to reach a value of $6,206.2 million, growing at a CAGR of 10.2% by 2018. Can you guess which products account for the largest volume of that share? Gluten-free bakery and confectionary products will account for about 46%!

The gluten substitutes go through many complex processes of removing gluten to make it tolerable. For any nutrient loss during this process, these foods are often fortified with additional nutrients. Many companies are now conducting extensive research and development for producing nutritious, gluten-free food.

We wonder how far this gluten-free trend and lifestyle will go!

Gluten 101


You’ve probably seen gluten-free items at your local grocery store and you might be wondering….what exactly is gluten? It’s simple. Gluten is the protein substance present in cereal grains, the most common being wheat, but it’s also found in barley, rye, and sometimes oats.


Gluten-free foods are a large, growing market these days and it makes you wonder why they’re becoming so popular. A gluten-free diet is often used to treat Celiac disease. This is a complication in people where gluten actually causes inflammation of their small intestines. By eating a gluten-free diet, it allows people with the issue to control their signs and symptoms, preventing complications.

Chex Finer Foods offers various different gluten-free items for all of your health needs! Check out “Dippin’ Chips,” they’re made with all-natural ingredients and are gluten-free certified! Try them out with your favorite dip!