Label Lingo: Organic, All-Natural, Low-Fat and More

Food labels got you loopy? This guide should help you get label literate.


This is the big one. It is a verified and meaningful label regulated by the USDA. Standards for organic labeling vary by product, and some states have stricter standards for their labels.

Organic fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains are non-genetically modified (non-GMO), grown without synthetic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers and have not been irradiated.

Organic milk is from cows given 100% organic feed for at least one year. At least 30% of the cow’s diet must come from allowing cows to graze on grass.

Organic meat and poultry is raised on 100% organic feed with no animal products. Animals can access the outdoors and are given no growth hormones, antibiotics or other drugs. Meat must not be irradiated.

Organic packaged foods have three levels of classification:

    • 100% Organic: All ingredients are organic.
    • Organic: At least 95% of ingredients are organic.
    • Made with organic ingredients: At least 70% of ingredients are organic.



A survey by Consumer Reports found people believed this label was more meaningful than the organic label; however, nothing could be further from the truth. Meat and poultry can’t contain artificial ingredients or added color during processing. Any other product can label itself “natural” as long as it doesn’t contain artificial colorants, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. It’s a low bar even for processed foods and is essentially meaningless when it comes to any whole-food ingredient.


This label is used for chicken and eggs. The birds are allowed to freely roam a building, room or enclosed area. They have unlimited access to food and water and continuous access to the outdoors when they can produce eggs. It does not mean they necessarily have enough room to move around comfortably. Since chickens raised for meat aren’t kept in cages, this label on poultry is meaningless.


Birds are given access to the outdoors but this does not mean they will necessarily go outdoors or that the outdoor space is large or allows for natural behaviors.


Animals get the majority of their foods from grass throughout their life, but can be supplemented with grains. There are also 100% grass-fed labels, meaning the animal has not been fed supplemental grain. There are a lot of grass-fed labels out there; here are a few with real meaning behind them. It does not limit the use of growth hormones, antibiotics or drugs — if that’s what you want, look for the organic label.



This label is most often seen on poultry, eggs, dairy products, beef and pork. It is meant to convey that the animal spent most of its life on pasture. For dairy and eggs, there is no standard or requirement, rendering it meaningless. For meat and poultry, producers are required to explain their practices on their labels, but that information it is not third-party verified. For dairy and beef products, the “grass-fed” label is a regulated and verified option.


The food (or cosmetic product) is not a genetically modified organism (GMO) or is not made with ingredients that are GMOs. Note, however, it may contain up to 0.9% GMO by the Non-GMO Project’s definition.


This label is most often seen on chocolate, coffee, tea and spices. The item or ingredient is grown and processed in a way that promotes the following in the country that grows it: community empowerment, economic development, social responsibility (no child labor and support for worker’s rights) and  environmental stewardship. This label is not regulated by the government; different labeling groups have their own standards. You can see which ones are meaningful here.


Lots of common food labels that have intuitive meanings come with legal meanings regulated by the USDA. See which ones are worth looking for to meet your health goals.

Whole-grain/whole-wheat: Grains (or foods made from grains) utilizing all parts of the naturally occurring grain or seed to maximize fiber and B-vitamins. At least 51% of total weight in the food must be whole-grain. Look for 100% whole-grain or 100% whole-wheat for the best nutrition.

Multigrain: Food made from more than one type of grain. No matter how many grains it claims to have (seven, 12, 20), this label does not mean it is whole-grain.

Calorie Free: Each serving contains less than 5 calories.

Low-calorie: Each serving contains 40 calories or less.

Reduced Calorie: A product contains 25% fewer calories compared to the original item with its original serving size.

Light or Lite: A product contains 33% fewer calories compared to the original with its original serving size.

Low-fat: A serving contains 3 grams of fat or less.

Reduced-fat: A serving contains 25% less fat compared to the original food with its original serving size.

Fat-free: A serving contains less than 1/2 gram of fat per serving.

Cholesterol-free: A serving contains less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol.

Transfat-freeLess than 1/2 gram of trans-fat per serving.

Excellent source of …: A food has 20% or more of the daily value of that vitamin or mineral per serving.

Good source of …: A food has 10-19% of the daily value of that vitamin or mineral per serving.

Enriched with …: The vitamin or mineral was removed during processing and was then added back into the food.

Fortified with …: The vitamin or mineral is not naturally in the food so it’s being added.

Sodium-free: There are less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Low-sodium: There are 140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving.

Very Low-sodium: Each serving has 35 milligrams or less of sodium.

Lightly Salted: 50% less sodium was added to this food, compared to the original food with its original serving size.

Sugar-free: Each serving contains less than 1/2 gram of sugar per serving. It can contain artificial sweeteners to boost sweetness.

Low-sugar: There is no established definition.

Reduced-sugar: A product contains 25% less sugar compared to the original item with its original serving size.

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Volleyball Pros Perform Their Favorite Beach Exercises

Baywatch” bodies are not exclusive to the silver screen. In fact, the AVP is bringing some of the most beautiful beach bodies to an oceanfront near you. With the pro beach volleyball league’s season in full swing through September, the fittest athletes may be kicking up sand near you during their eight-stop tour, which includes Seattle, San Francisco, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Chicago and more. (Check out the full schedule.)

You don’t need to be a volleyball fanatic to appreciate watching these sculpted bodies in action. But if you prefer to hit the gym and work on your own beach body rather than sit on the sidelines soaking up the sun, here a handful of go-to exercises from top volleyball players to sculpt a strong, sexy silhouette for summer.


Emily Day, 3-time AVP winner, currently on the number 1 ranked AVP team

Go-to move: Split-stance squat jumps. “It gets my glutes activated, my quads burning, my core turned on, plus it gets my heart pumping. For beach volleyball, my legs are never fully rested so doing an exercise that practices jumping when my legs are tired is perfect to improve my game.”

Try it: Start in a lunge with your hands on your hips. Engage your core as you jump up, switching your front and back legs mid-air. Land with the opposite leg in front. That’s one rep. Watch your knee positioning: You don’t want your forward or back knee collapsing when you land. Do three sets of 10 reps.


Stafford Slick, five-time AVP third-place finisher, second-place finisher at the 2017 AVP NYC Open

Go-to move: Hang three ways. “Comprehensive core strength is crucial for dynamic and powerful athletic movements. This exercise targets both upper and lower abs as well as obliques.”

Try it: Start hanging in a neutral position. Bring your knees to your right armpit (or as close as you can), then fully extend back to neutral. Next, bring your knees to your chest, then fully extend back to neutral. Lastly, bring your knees to your left armpit, then fully extend back to neutral. Complete all three directions for one rep. Perform 7–10 reps. For an added challenge, lower your legs to full neutral extension on a 3-count.


Brittany Hochevar, currently on the number 1-ranked AVP team with Emily Day

Go-to move: Lateral band walks with shoulder activation. “It hits everything that needs to be turned on for a defender, like myself, right before battle. I can do these as quickly or as slowly and as deliberately as I please. The resistance in both directions creates a cool meditation space of the push pull before a match.”

Try it: Start in an athletic position with one theraband looped around your ankles and the ends of another theraband in each hand. Lower to a squat position to create slight tension in the band. Keep your arms straight out in front, shoulder-width apart at shoulder-height. As one leg steps laterally, creating more tension in the band, both arms also extend laterally, keeping them straight and at shoulder height. Be sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together, activating your back muscles. Keep your knees and toes aligned and make sure your shoulders are relaxed (not hunched by your ears). Do 8–10 steps out and back.


Ryan Doherty, 2-time winner and tallest AVP athlete at 7-foot-1

Go-to move: Band Y-T-As. “The Y-T-As are great to help stabilize your shoulders. Volleyball requires us to swing forward with our hitting arm over and over, so it is good to exercise the opposite muscles that help to keep the shoulder blade in its socket. This won’t be as taxing as other exercises that focus on bigger muscles groups, but will help keep you in the game by preventing injury.”

Try it: Wrap a theraband around something stationary and sturdy. With one end in clasped hands, make a “Y” by bringing your arms up and back at a 45 degree angle. After 10 reps, make a “T” by bringing your arms straight back. Do 10 more reps, then back and down at a 45 degree angle to make the “A” for another 10 reps.


Kelsey Robinson, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, trains on the beach for pro indoor volleyball

Go-to move: A series of three defensive slides. “I love these exercises because they always force me to engage my core while keeping tension in the band. They work my quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs and translate directly to the court or sand. Performing all three moves is a great warmup or quick workout on its own.”

Try it:  Wrap a theraband around your thighs, just above the knee, and slightly squat in a defensive position. This is the starting position for each exercise. Move number 1: Tighten your core and slowly step to your left, stretching the band tight (fire up your quads and glutes). Bring the right leg behind, keeping the band tension. Perform 20 steps to your left, then 20 steps to your right. Move number 2: While still in squat position, take a super-wide step forward to complete one “monster walk.” Take 20 steps forward and 20 backward, keeping band tension throughout. Move number 3: Walk forward in a straight line with your right foot forward. Slowly bring the left foot forward, keeping tension in the band. Continue to walk with your right foot in front the whole time for 20 steps. Next, do this backwards with your left foot leading you back for 20 steps. Repeat this same exercise with your left foot forward and your right foot back for the last variation. Do this series 3 x 20 steps each.


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Mini Whole Wheat Egg Sandwiches | Recipe


Try this mini whole wheat egg sandwich by 24 Carrot Life that you can make ahead of time and reheat for a quick breakfast. Cheesy egg and ham patties baked and sandwiched between a flaky whole wheat, green onion biscuit will surely make you smile. You can also add tomato, spinach, avocado or any of your favorite veggies to the mix.

Mini Whole Wheat Egg Sandwiches


For the egg patties

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (approx. 4 large eggs)
  • 1/2 cup shredded manchego cheese (or cheese of your choice)
  • 3 slices deli ham
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

For the whole wheat biscuits

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) cold butter + 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing on top
  • 3/4 cup fat-free milk

Optional Ingredients

  • Sliced avocados
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Baby spinach


To make the egg patties, preheat oven to 350°F. Heavily grease a standard sized muffin tin and set aside. Then,  add all ingredients for egg patties to a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine completely. Fill each muffin tin 1/2 way and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the egg is cooked throughout.

Set the egg patties aside. Then raise the oven temperature to 425°F and let oven preheat.

In the mean time, make the whole wheat biscuits. Grease a baking sheet and set aside. Add all ingredients except butter and milk to a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine. Add 1/4 cup butter and use two knives or a pastry cutter to chop butter into small pieces until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk and stir until just moist (dough will be sticky).

Place dough onto a heavily floured surface and fold over/knead lightly 5 times with floured hands. Flatten dough to a 1/2 inch thickness and cut into biscuits using a biscuit cutter, cookie cutter, or cup, pushing straight down and then twisting slightly. The biscuits will not spread at all so you want to use a small size to keep the biscuits mini. Gently reform dough and make more biscuits until dough is finished (the last biscuit will be a weird shape but I didn’t want to waste dough).

Place biscuits on the greased baking sheet with the edges touching and brush remaining butter on top of each biscuit. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Assemble the biscuit with the egg patties and optional ingredients (e.g. tomato, spinach, avocado) of your choice.

NOTE: You can wrap the sandwiches individually and store in the freezer for a quick breakfast.

Nutrition Information

Serves: 12 |  Serving Size: 1 egg patty + 1 whole wheat biscuit

Per serving: Calories: 178; Total Fat: 10g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 90mg; Sodium: 735mg; Carbohydrate: 16g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 0g; Protein: 8g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 137mg; Iron: 6%; Vitamin A: 6%; Vitamin C: 0%; Calcium: 8% 

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Grilled Chicken with Tomato Avocado Salad | Recipe


This 450-calorie dinner is full of flavor (and 39g of protein!). Cooking Light’s Grilled Chicken with Tomato Avocado Salad uses homemade buttermilk dressing to balance the heat of the chicken. Chicken is a high-quality protein that is naturally low in sodium. Avocado delivers twice the amount of potassium than banana and is a good source of folic acid, vitamin E and B-vitamins.

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