Coffee and Milk May Reduce Inflammation

Coffee and Milk May Reduce Inflammation

As a person with RA (rheumatoid arthritis), a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease that’s left me with disfigured feet and a lifetime of morning stiffness, I was excited to read this latest study on coffee. Coffee- my absolute favorite way to start my day! But if tea is your thing, keep reading.

The study from the University of Copenhagen found that the antioxidants found in coffee when paired with protein from milk may have anti-inflammatory effects. If bacteria, viruses, or other unknown compounds get into our bodies, our immune systems kick in and release white blood cells to protect us, causing inflammation.

Polyphenols, a type of antioxidant can be found in humans, plants, fruit, and vegetables. The food industry also uses antioxidants to reduce the oxidation and breakdown of food. This prevents rancidity and off-flavors in food. These chemicals also protect people by reducing oxidative stress that causes inflammation in the body.

Limited studies are available about polyphenols and how they might interact with proteins in foods that we eat.

Researchers at the Department of Food Science, along with researchers from the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, at the University of Copenhagen studied how polyphenols behave when combined with amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The results of this study are exciting!

According to Professor Marianne Nissen Lund from the Department of Food Science, who headed the study, “We show that as a polyphenol reacts with an amino acid, its inhibitory effect on inflammation in immune cells is enhanced. As such, it is clearly imaginable that this cocktail could also have a beneficial effect on inflammation in humans. We will now investigate further, initially in animals. After that, we hope to receive research funding which will allow us to study the effect in humans,”.

Fighting Inflammation with a Breakfast Beverage

The researchers studied the anti-inflammatory impact of polyphenols plus protein by applying artificial inflammation to immune cells. A control group received no treatment while some of the cells received different doses of polyphenols that reacted with an amino acid. Other cells received only polyphenols.

In the immune cells treated with polyphenols and amino acids, researchers noted there was a double impact on fighting inflammation compared to those that received only polyphenols. While this experiment was done on a cell line, the researcher’s next move is to study the impact on animals.

“It is interesting to have now observed the anti-inflammatory effect in cell experiments. And obviously, this has only made us more interested in understanding these health effects in greater detail. So, the next step will be to study the effects in animals,” says Associate Professor Andrew Williams of the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, who is also a senior author of the study.

Discovered in Coffee and Milk

Prior research by this group showed that polyphenols bind to proteins in meat, milk, and beer. In another study, they tested to see if the molecules also bind to each other using coffee and milk. Coffee is a source of polyphenols and milk contains proteins.

The reaction occurs between polyphenols and protein in the coffee drinks containing milk that were evaluated, according to Marianne Nissen Lund, one of the researchers.

The researchers believe this reaction may also have anti-inflammatory effects when other foods containing polyphenols and proteins are combined, such as meat or fish with fruits and vegetables. This is promising research as inflammation drives diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

“Because humans do not absorb that much polyphenol, many researchers are studying how to encapsulate polyphenols in protein structures which improve their absorption in the body. This strategy has the added advantage of enhancing the anti-inflammatory effects of polyphenols,” explains Marianne Nissen Lund.

While my picture shows dark roast coffee, lighter roast coffee is actually higher in polyphenols. Roasting coffee results in some losses of these plant chemicals. If you like the mug, find it here: Deja brew | Sound Bites Nutrition

Facts on Polyphenols

  • Polyphenols are a group of naturally occurring antioxidants needed by humans.
  • They protect organs from damage and destruction by preventing and delaying the oxidation of healthy chemical substances.
  • Fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, red wine, and beer are sources of polyphenols.
  • Polyphenols are used in the food industry to reduce the oxidation of fats, protect food from deteriorating and avoid rancidity and off flavors.

Tips to combine polyphenols with proteins:

  • Enjoy Greek yogurt with your favorite fresh or frozen berries.
  • Add milk to coffee. Use skim or 1% to limit saturated fat.
  • Try pineapple, peaches, or berries in cottage cheese.
  • Include beans, lentils, tuna, or hard-boiled eggs to tossed salads.
  • Enjoy an apple with peanut butter.
  • Add chopped spinach, peppers, and tomatoes to meat sauces.
  • Top grilled fish, chicken or other meat with grilled zucchini, peppers, or asparagus
  • Include lots of vegetables in your stir-fried chicken, seafood, or tofu.

Journal Reference:

  1. Jingyuan Liu, Mahesha M. Poojary, Ling Zhu, Andrew R. Williams, Marianne N. Lund. Phenolic Acid–Amino Acid Adducts Exert Distinct Immunomodulatory Effects in Macrophages Compared to Parent Phenolic AcidsJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2023; DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.2c06658
Simple Air-fried Chicken Nuggets

Simple Air-fried Chicken Nuggets

When you hear the word “nuggets”, you likely picture the pre-formed type that you buy frozen or get from a pickup window at a popular fast-food chain. Whether you have kids that want chicken nuggets, or you want them for yourself, I’ve got a healthier, cheaper alternative.

Despite my girls being older, they still like chicken nuggets. I think they have fond memories of eating them when we’d go out to dinner or a quick road trip meal. We’re not a big “fast food” family but you can’t always avoid it entirely. Don’t judge me. Dietitians aren’t perfect.

Why Air Fry?

I’ll admit- I was a late adopter to the air fryer. It’s a heavy, bulky appliance that takes up a lot of real estate on your kitchen counter. We store ours in the basement but I’m developing nice biceps from bringing it back and forth to the kitchen.

I picked one up at a discount home store in Cincinnati. It’s a decent brand that may or may not have been refurbished. Either way- I use the thing for all sorts of food!

What I like about the air fryer is the minimal ingredients and ‘thyme’ that I need to make delicious food. I love roasted veggies, for example. But roasting broccoli or carrots takes a good 30 minutes in the oven. They only take about 8 minutes in an air fryer.

In addition, because food is cooked via convection heat, you use less (or no) oil or other fat to cook things. Recipes are much lower in fat and calories this way. Some of my favorites include air fried Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and French fries.

I decided to try my hand at chicken nuggets after a friend used frozen ones in his air fryer. The frozen type are convenient but are also higher in fat and sodium. Not to mention- expensive. When you cook at home, you control the ingredients and know exactly what’s in the mix. Below is my easy recipe:


1-pound skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces

3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1 tsp. paprika (optional)

Non-stick cooking spray


  1. Pre-heat the air fryer for 3 minutes on 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the breadcrumbs with paprika.
  3. While the air fryer heats, roll the chicken pieces in the breadcrumb mixture and set aside.
  4. Once the fryer is heated, spray the air fryer basket with nonstick spray and place the nuggets in the fryer. Try not to have them overlap.
  5. Close the fryer drawer and set the timer for 8 minutes. Check the nuggets after 8 minutes and continue to cook if not done for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce (optional).

Makes 4 servings (4-5 nuggets each): 222 calories, 4.23 grams fat, 28.6 grams protein, 15.4 grams carbs, 1.1 grams fiber, 83 mg cholesterol, 446 mg sodium.

Share is caring! If you have an air fryer recipe you’d like to share, send it to me with a clear image. I’ll analyze it and share it on my blog for others to enjoy.


A Tribute to My Dad

A Tribute to My Dad

Dear friends and followers,

Today is a weird day for me. It’s the Feast of the Epiphany, the second anniversary of the insurrection and the 20th anniversary of my dad’s passing. He would have been 94 this April.

Although he’s been gone 20 years, I think of my dad regularly. He taught me to appreciate good food, family time, fun, and friends. As a high school principal, he was very strict with us and demanded good grades. If he said (disappointingly), “You can do better than that”, you knew you were in trouble.

Despite his strict stance on education, one of his best qualities was his sense of humor. He was always cracking a joke or occasionally a prank. My daughters would have loved how silly he was. This is one of my favorite memories of him:

Deja Brew?

I lived at home during college. My parents had five kids and were living on one salary, so we didn’t have a lot of money for college. This is one of the reasons I hate food waste so much. You couldn’t leave a pea on your plate at my house!

I studied nutrition at Youngstown State University and commuted to school. One day I mentioned that I had a big anatomy test that I needed to study for.

My dad suggested I drink coffee in the evening to help me stay up late to study. “Good idea”, I told him. I had never drunk coffee and started drinking it after dinner.

A few days after the test, my dad asked how the test went and if the coffee helped. “Great! I got an A. That coffee really kept me up to study!” His response? “You know, Lisa- we drink decaf”.

Thank you, Dad for my love of coffee!

Word Nerds

My dad and I also shared a love of words. He was a big crossword puzzle fan, and I have been a freelance writer for many years. I wish I could share my food puns with him because many were inspired by my dad. Deja brew, This. Is. The Wurst. Praise Cheeses, Oh. My. Gouda. Bada bing, Pearfecto, etc. I know he’d get a kick out these.

If you’re a word nerd, need a good laugh or want to share one with others, check out Lettuce Beet Hunger Food Pun Shop | Sound Bites Nutrition . Food has always been a central part of my life and I see it as a perfect way to connect people. Part of proceeds goes to programs that fight food insecurity in Cincinnati. Food is meant to be shared.

Use code Flash25 to take 25% off all food pun merch til midnight tonight. RIP Dad. I love you.

Cheese and thanks,



Classic Italian Pasta Fagioli

Classic Italian Pasta Fagioli

I could never pronounce it but always loved pasta fagioli (pronounced fah jol), Fagioli in Italian means beans, in case you didn’t know. I just started learning Italian on Duo Lingo and am really enjoying my grandparents’ native language. I wish I could say this was their recipe but I never met them.

But, on to the soup! My mother used to make this on cold winter days in Youngstown, Ohio. What I love about this dish is that I always have the ingredients on hand. Wintertime means comfort food- AKA soup. I’m usually stocked up on celery, onions, carrots and of course, canned beans this time of year. You can use cannellini, Great Northern or Navy beans for the soup.

In addition to the veggies, pasta fagioli also has tomato sauce and a generous helping of paprika, which gives it that savory taste and beautiful color. If you’ve got any kale or spinach in your fridge, feel free to chop it up and add it to the soup! This adds more vitamin C, beta-carotene and potassium to the recipe.

From a nutritional standpoint, you can’t beat this recipe! It boasts 10 grams of protein and 9 grams of dietary fiber per serving with under 250 calories. The soup is also a good source of potassium. It’s filling but doesn’t leave you feeling “heavy” as the fat in the recipe is from olive oil and a smattering of cheese if you add some. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 white or yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. paprika

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 (15 ounce) can low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 (15 ounce) can Great Northern or Navy beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup whole wheat ditalini or elbow pasta

Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and sautee for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the paprika and oregano and toss to coat the vegetables.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth and beans and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the pasta to the pot and cook on low-medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked.
  5. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Makes 6 servings. Nutrition information per serving: 237 calories, 6 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 10 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 832 mg sodium


Cream Cheese Stuffed “Cannoli” Dates

Cream Cheese Stuffed “Cannoli” Dates

Do you have “olfactory flashbacks”? It’s a term I use to describe food or aromas that bring me back to a previous time in my life. I have very fond memories of my dad giving us dates rolled in coconut and almonds at Christmas each year. I loved the chewy, sweet texture then and still enjoy dates today.

Olfactory flashbacks inspire me to make new recipes of old favorites. As an ambassador for Natural Delights, I received free samples to make this date recipe. Medjool dates are naturally sweet and a good source of fiber and potassium. They’re versatile and require no refrigeration. Just open the box and eat them!

Cannoli are a popular Italian dessert, though my family never made them. We’d buy them occasionally at little bakeries in Youngstown and I will still seek them out at Ferrari’s Little Italy and other Cincinnati bakeshops. I had the pleasure of making this recipe on WCPO Cincy Lifestyles this morning.

This recipe will take much less ‘thyme’ than traditional cannoli AND it has much lower fat, sugar and calories. There are less than 100 calories per date. I used whipped cream cheese for the filling instead of ricotta or mascarpone which is typically used. They can be made ahead to serve at your favorite party or bring them to your next holiday event.


1 box pitted Medjool dates

1 (8 oz) container whipped cream cheese

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips



  1. Split the dates down the middle but do not cut in half.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, cinnamon and powdered sugar.
  3. Add 1 tsp. cream cheese mixture to eat date.
  4. Add 4-5 mini chocolate chips on top of the cream cheese.
  5. Decorate with colored sprinkles as desired.

Makes 20 stuffed dates. Nutrition information per serving: 98 calories, 2.2 grams fat, 1.3 grams saturated fat, 6.5 mg cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrate, 1.7 grams fiber, 1.4 grams protein, 57 grams sodium

#samples #ambassador #notpaid


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