Allison Aubrey

When we asked you (via our Facebook page) to tell us about the weekday challenges your families face, given the competing demands of work, commutes, schoolwork and activities, you didn't hold back. Especially on the subject of squeezing in a family dinner.

When it comes to supernutritious foods, the blueberry has long had a health halo floating over it.

Going back to Colonial times when Native Americans and English settlers ground up blueberries and added them to porridge, in both dried and fresh forms, there have been hints of health-promoting effects.

Being a little overweight may tip the odds in favor of living a long life, according to a new analysis. Researchers say there may be some benefit to having a little extra body fat.

This isn't the first time researchers have raised questions about the link between body weight and how long someone will live. While there's no debate that being severely obese will raise the risk of all kinds of illnesses and even cut some lives short, it's less clear what happens to people who are less overweight.

It's high season for pie-making. And when we came upon this touching story about a bunch of women gathering to bake fresh apple pies for the people of Newtown, Conn., it warmed our hearts here at The Salt. Truly.

Italians may still be light-years ahead when it comes to gelato, but when it comes to extra-virgin olive oil? Watch out: U.S. producers are on it.

The produce aisle may not yet be restocked at the Stop & Shop in Toms River, N.J., and other perishables may still be hard to come by. But rest assured, the local pizza joint is hopping.

"We've been busy, very busy," says Marissa Henderson, granddaughter of the proprietor of Geno D's pizzeria in Toms River. It was one of the few restaurants open in the area in the wake of the hurricane that rolled through earlier this week.

We almost brought you news today about a study that appeared to raise some troubling questions about aspartame, the popular sugar substitute found in many common foods like diet soda. Note the key word — almost.

A study due to be published at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and released to reporters earlier in the week under embargo found some correlation between drinking diet soda and an increased risk of leukemia and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, as well as a few other rare blood-related cancers.

The idea that milk may diminish the potential heart-health benefits of tea has been a topic of some debate. Lots of us can't imagine black tea without a little dairy to cut the bitterness. But, according to this research going back to 2007, we might want to at least consider trying, say, a nice cup of green tea sans sugar or cream.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It may be more important than we thought to tackle obesity in childhood. A new study published in Pediatrics finds that overweight teenagers eat fewer calories than their healthy weight peers.

That's right — they eat less.

Yes, organics is a $29 billion industry and still growing. Something is pulling us toward those organic veggies that are grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

But if you're thinking that organic produce will help you stay healthier, a new finding may come as a surprise. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds scant evidence of health benefits from organic foods.

High school students with heavy academic course loads often find the demands of homework colliding with the need for adequate sleep.

The "know your farmer" concept may soon apply to the folks growing your coffee, too.

Increasingly, specialty roasters are working directly with coffee growers around the world to produce coffees as varied in taste as wines. And how are roasters teaching their clientele to appreciate the subtle characteristics of brews? By bringing an age-old tasting ritual once limited to coffee insiders to the coffee-sipping masses.

There's no magic elixir for healthy aging, but here's one more thing to add to the list: good gut health.

A study published in the latest issue of Nature finds diet may be key to promoting diverse communities of beneficial bacteria in the guts of older people.

To evaluate this, researchers analyzed the microbiota, or gut bacteria, of 178 older folks, mostly in their 70s and 80s.

It's no longer just foodies at farm markets or Whole Foods buying antibiotic-free, pasture-raised meats.

When it comes to walking, the easy part is understanding the benefits: Regular, brisk walks can strengthen our bones, help control blood sugar, help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and the list goes on. The hard part is finding the time to fit it in.

Engineering physical activity back into Americans' daily lives is the goal of an educational campaign launched by Kaiser Permanente,an Oakland, Calif.-based health plan.

Thiamine mononitrate, disodium inosinate, pyridoxine hydrochloride.

Why are these hard-to-pronounce ingredients added to everything from a burger served in schools to veggie burgers in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store? We try to answer that on this edition of Tiny Desk Kitchen.

It turns out the answers are as varied as the ingredients. But as we yearn to know what's in our food and how it's made, these kinds of ingredients with unfamiliar names make people suspicious.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has weighed in on the use of so-called pink slime in beef served in the government's free and reduced-price school lunch program.

No need to be stingy with spices. Research from Penn State finds heavily spiced meals — think chicken curry with lots of turmeric, or desserts rich in cinnamon and cloves — may do the heart good.

"Elevated triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease," explains researcher Sheila West.

Her study found that a spicy meal helps cut levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in the blood — even when the meal is rich in oily sauces and high in fat.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent a warning letter to the maker of a caffeine inhaler that's marketed around college campuses. The agency says it's concerned about misleading claims about the product and its safety.

Have you ever splurged on a highly rated bottle of Burgundy or pinot noir, only to wonder whether a $10 or $15 bottle of red would have been just as good? The answer may depend on your biology.

A new study by researchers at Penn State and Brock University in Canada finds that when it comes to appreciating the subtleties of wine, experts can taste things many of us can't. "What we found is that the fundamental taste ability of an expert is different," says John Hayes of Penn State.

When we think of the farmers we know, we can count a lot of locally-produced food we've reported on, from unusual greens to pawpaws.

And when the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture promotes their Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, what do they count? Jobs.

This year would not be a good year for ice cream. In fact, there would be none at all if we relied on the technique George Washington used at Mount Vernon, his Virginia estate that's perched on the banks of the Potomac River.

His source of ice was the frozen river. Given the warm winter we've had here in D.C. , there's no chance. Seems the weather is nothing like it was on Jan. 26, 1786, when Washington wrote in his journal:

"Renewed my Ice operation to day, employing as many hands as I conveniently could in getting it from the Maryland shore, carting and pounding it."

Less salt and fat. More whole grains, fruit, veggies and low-fat dairy. This is what kids can expect in the school lunchroom soon, according to new nutrition standards for school meals announced today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and first lady Michelle Obama.

You may remember the controversial studies linking food coloring and additives to hyperactivity in kids. Or you may know parents who have pinned their hopes on an elimination diet to improve their kids' rowdy behavior.

If you feel hungrier as winter draws near, you're not alone. Even though most of us spend our days in climate-controlled offices and homes, our appetites seem to change when the days grow shorter. Some researchers say it's our primitive impulses promting us to stockpile calories for the winter ahead.

Jim Eckhardt says there was a time he'd fill his holiday shopping cart with toys for his six grandchildren. But seven years ago, he had an epiphany: The kids had too much stuff.

"You look at all the things we throw away and that money could be put to better use," Eckhardt says.

When I heard Paula Deen was coming to town, the image that leaped to mind was a fried cheesecake, deep-fried. She actually makes this!

At a time when it's trendy to take things out of food (think: gluten-free, sodium-free, fat-free), Paula Deen unapologetically puts it all back in. She loves all that stuff we're told to eat less of: butter, mayonnaise, sour cream. Did I say butter?

A decade ago there were fewer than 100 Narragansett turkeys being raised on a few hobby farms. The gamy-tasting meat has a flavor that most Americans have never tasted. "They're delicious," says Slow Food USA's Josh Viertel.

"And they're at risk of being gone forever."

When it comes to the politics of school lunch programs, the easy part is agreeing that kids should be eating more fruits and vegetables.

The hard part? Determining what counts as a vegetable. Take, for instance, the tomato sauce on pizza. As part of new nutrition standards proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, schools would need to use about one-half cup of tomato paste on pizza in order for the sauce to count as a vegetable serving.

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