A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This is What You Should Eat….

What I got when I searched for "Hospital Food"
Look appetizing? I didn’t think so. The sad truth is that if enough money was put into marketing this as being a quick weight-loss solution, many people would flock to it. Why? My theory is there are countless diets circulating the internet, TV, airwaves, and by word-of-mouth that most of the population is confused on what to eat. Now, many have left it to a certain “program” to tell us what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat. I can guarantee nearly all of these diets/solutions/programs have something(s) to sell you. In sum, all diet creators have one ultimate thing in mind…..not your health, just how much cash they can make off of their “plan.”

With all of the fad diets selling their books and their bars, it’s no wonder so many of us are confused on what should be on/off our plates. As a past victim from these diets, I made the smart decision to realize money is their only concern and I need to figure things out on my own.
That being said, I’d like to offer my simple approach to choosing what you do and do not eat. I ask nothing in return and you don’t have to buy my e-book with 100 pages of wordy ways to say the same thing over and over while not actually saying anything.
Read nutrition facts and ingredients on anything packaged. If you can’t find info on the package, approach with caution and at your own risk! Ingredients are listed in order by volume of the package; if sugar (in any of its many names) or fat/oil is in the top 3, I put the box back. Also, a short ingredient list with real food names is a good indication you have something worth eating.
Get to know your kitchen. Go buy some carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, radishes, celery, apples, and any other fruits and veggies you might like in their whole form at the produce department. Set some time on the weekend aside to wash, peel, chop, dice, and cook your treasure; then pack in air tight containers to be ready for the week ahead. Here are some quick ideas:
  • Cut red bell peppers in strips for easy snacking.
  • Chop peeled carrots into your own baby carrots or any size you like. I make some thick cuts and use carrots as a utensil to eat small snacks like yogurt mixed with peanut butter.
  • Wrap a cleaned sweet potato in a paper towel and microwave for 3-4 minutes on each side to have a potato that only needs reheating when you want one for a quick dinner.
  • Dice apples into small cubes and freeze; these are great to mix with your favorite milk or yogurt, some whole grain cereal, and a few toasted nuts for a healthy and refreshing treat or meal. 

Forget everything you hear from the fad diets! Low carb, high protein, low fat, etc. are all unnecessary. How can anything grown from the Earth (asides from poisonous things) be that bad to eat? Yes, I know the way some foods are produced by people can have ill-effects, but focus more on eating whole foods rather than something in a box, bag, or wrapper and you will be off to a great start. Just remember, everything most things in moderation. I feel some foods, like those containing partially hydrogenated oils, sugar as the first ingredient, etc. should be avoided at all costs.

To sum it up:
  • Most creators of diets are more concerned with their bottom line than your bottom
  • Read ingredients and nutrition facts and know what they mean
  • Prepare whole foods to be ready for snacking throughout the week
  • Turn away from fad diet advice…I don’t care if the Princess “used” it
  • Consume everything in moderation; do not consume the really bad stuff 
This has not been the first, and it won’t be the last post I write regarding the marketing ploys of companies and false promises of diets. I urge anyone wanting to get healthy to stay away from anything with a drive-thru window and most packaged items.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Squash Instead of Ice Cream…

Intrigued? I’ve mentioned something about this on previous posts, but wanted to dedicate today’s post solely to one of my favorite treats. For months I have been making different variations from squash and fruit to have for part of my dinner during the weekdays and weekends.

At first I would use canned pumpkin, but now I try to bake most of the squash that can be used all week. I will rotate with Spaghetti, Acorn, or Butternut squash (whatever looks good at the store), cut in half, scoop out the seeds, place face down on a cookie sheet, and roast them in the oven at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. After cooling a while, I’ll scoop the flesh into a big bowl for use throughout the week. Of course, there’s always a can or two of Libby’s Pumpkin Puree for when I run out or just miss a chance to bake some squash.

With the base of this treat ready for use, I will take several scoops (maybe a cup’s worth) of squash and place in a blender cup. Add to this some frozen fruit of choice followed by one or more of the following: small scoop of plain Greek/regular yogurt, half scoop of vanilla/chocolate whey protein powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, water, coconut milk, or almond milk. The amount of liquid varies as I never actually measure anything, just eyeball it. I have two plastic cups that are used for these treats and usually have a different creation made for each one. The first cup will usually be a lighter, less indulgent variation, but it's still tasty. The second cup is usually something chocolate soothing for the mind and body. Let me go through the typical ingredients I might use for each cup one night…

Cup #1

- A few scoops of Acorn or Spaghetti squash
- Frozen mixed berries
- Half scoop of Stevia sweetened vanilla whey protein powder
- A mixture of water and almond milk; not a lot as squash has a good amount of water already
- Vanilla flavored liquid Stevia; about 8 – 10 drops
- Small plop of non-fat yogurt
- Dash of ground cinnamon and ginger

Cup #2

- A few scoops of Butternut Squash
- 1/4 frozen banana, 1 frozen strawberry, a few cubes of frozen papaya
- Half scoop of Stevia sweetened vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder
- 4 – 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- A little bit of water, coconut milk, and kefir; maybe 1/2 cup combined
- Vanilla or chocolate flavored stevia
- Broken pieces of whole grain pretzel dipped in a little peanut butter to mix in after blending; I love sweet and salty!

I blend ingredients for Cup #1 and pour (scoop if needed) into the cup, then do the same for Cup #2. When mixed with the right proportions, the consistency is like ice cream, but a lot better and more nutritious. I will place each cup in a koozie and put them in the freezer as I prepare the first part of my meal which is usually a salad with veggies and a lean protein.

After the salad mix meal, I proceed to indulge in the healthy treats that help relax and satisfy me for the night. Does anyone else do anything similar? Please post to the comments and share your crazy creations, I’d love to hear them!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eat All the Junk Food You Want…..

….as long as you cook it yourself. Did the title catch your attention? When I read the first part of this sentence in Michael Pollan’s book, “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” I didn’t know what to think. Then I finished the sentence and it made sense. Mr. Pollan is a great author with very interesting and informative books on food and culture. I take a lot of his suggestions to heart, and the junk food one is no exception.

The following quote is from an interview with Mr. Pollan when asked what his favorite rule is:

“Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” That gets at a lot of our issues. I love French fries, and I also know if I ate French fries every day it would not be a good thing. One of our problems is that foods that are labor or money intensive have gotten very cheap and easy to procure. French fries are a great example. They are a tremendous pain to make. Wash the potatoes, fry potatoes, get rid of the oil, clean up the mess. If you made them yourself you’d have them about once a month, and that’s probably about right. The fact that labor has been removed from special occasion food has made us treat it as everyday food. One way to curb that and still enjoy those foods is to make them. Try to make your own Twinkie. I don’t even know if you can. I imagine it would be pretty difficult. How do you get the cream in there?"

In support of Pollan’s rule, I’d like to post a couple “junk food” recipes to enjoy at home and stop wasting time with the processed stuff in a box or food chain. Let’s start with the fries..

First, here’s the ingredient list for McDonald’s French Fries from their website.
French Fries:

Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid

pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to

preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK *(Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).
Cut out the fast food fix and try these Baked French Fries instead:

1 large baking potato
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder


1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

2.Cut potato into wedges. Mix olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and onion powder together. Coat potatoes with oil/spice mixture and place on a baking sheet.

3.Bake for 45 minutes in preheated oven.
This is a good recipe to use as a base, but you can substitute sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, or any other starchy vegetable. Have fun and try something new while knowing you can pronounce the ingredients you’re eating.

Another junk food favorite is Mozzarella Sticks. Try these baked cheese sticks at home (have your kids help!) and never succumb to the fried from frozen fast food chain sticks again.

Mozzarella Sticks
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 teaspoons melted butter
1 Cut cheese in 1/2" x 1/2" x 3" sticks.
2 Toss with flour and set aside.
3 In small bowl, beat together eggs and water and set aside.
4 In separate bowl, combine bread crumbs, italian seasoning and garlic powder.
5 Dip sticks in egg mixture, then coat with crumbs.
6 Repeat this process.
7 Place on a plate in a single layer, cover with foil and chill for 2 hours.
8 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
9 Place cheese sticks on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with melted butter.
10 Bake until crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes.
11 Heat a little spaghetti sauce to use for dipping.
For quick snack ideas, just make sure to always have baby carrots on hand. Or, buy a few veggies like jicama, turnips, broccoli, and celery; then wash, cut, and store to be ready throughout the week. It may only take an hour to prepare these cut up treats to help keep you from turning to that bag of chips in the pantry.
These are fun to make and a rewarding treat. Making your own “junk food” will help minimize the amount of bad foods you eat by introducing the labor aspect as it should be. Try cutting junk food out for a month, I bet you’ll feel a lot better in the end!

Here’s a picture of mechanically processed meat from Fooducate.com that is used for things like hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and pepperoni. Let this be motivation to cook your food and know what you’re eating.

Craving something bad from a food chain? Search on how to make it yourself and get in the kitchen to put those pots, pans, and utensils to work!  Heck, break a sweat while your at it...cooking is a good workout too!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Can Brown "Cocoa" Do For You?

Unsweetened cocoa powder, not to be confused with hot cocoa mix which has sugar added, is great in sweet and savory recipes and provides healthy doses of nutrition.  A 2 tbsp. serving of unsweetened cocoa contains just 25 calories and 1.5 g of fat. It is also a great source of vitamins, minerals, mood boosters, and heart-friendly elements.
The vitamins and minerals sourced from cocoa powder include iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, and manganese. Antioxidants in the form of polyphenols are an abundant part of cocoa; it is actually known as one of the highest polyphenol containing foods. In addition to these great qualities, cocoa provides phytosterols which help reduce total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (aka bad cholesterol), lower blood pressure, and increase blood flow to arteries.
Improve your mood with food! Cocoa contains a neurotransmitter called phenethylamine that helps to elevate your mood and it can boost endorphin levels. Endorphins act as natural opiates which are accountable for the happy feeling you get when laughing, winning a major award, or being intimate with a loved one. In addition to these “happy makers,” cocoa can increase serotonin which helps boost your overall feeling of happiness.

Unsweetened cocoa can be combined with skim milk over low heat and sweetened to you liking for an easy and healthy hot cocoa, but there are other uses too. It’s also good in a dry rub for pork or chicken.

The following is a good chocolate pudding recipe that’s very satisfying and way better than anything store-bought. I noted two ingredients I changed when making this pudding with no problems at all.


2 egg whites
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch – I use arrowroot powder as a 1 for 1 substitute
2 1/4 cups nonfat milk or 2 1/4 cups low-fat milk
1/2 cup Splenda granular or 1/2 cup sugar – I use a 1/2 tsp of liquid Stevia instead
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lightly beat egg whites in a small bowl. In a large bowl, mix together cocoa and cornstarch. Add 3/4 cups of the milk and whisk mixture until its smooth. In a large saucepan, mix together the rest of the milk, sweetener of choice, and the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, whisking continuously.
Remove from heat. Whisk the cocoa mixture into the milk mixture. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 minutes while whisking continuously. Remove from heat. Slowly whisk 1 cup of the hot cocoa mixture into the egg whites. Pour this mixture back into the pan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking continuously; be careful not to allow the mixture to boil.
Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Mix well. Pour into 4 serving dishes. Cool to room temperature. Cover with waxed paper that has been cut to fit the serving dishes (this prevents the pudding from getting a skin). Refrigerate for 1 hour. Garnish with berries, mint leaves, and cocoa if desired.
I didn’t want to post a brownie recipe as they are easy to find, but here are a couple other, non-traditional recipes with cocoa powder:
Turkey Chili with White Beans – cocoa powder adds depth with a roasted flavor, extra nutrients, and enough acid to help tenderize the meat. Even without meat, cocoa powder is a tasty addition to vegetarian chili too!

Chocolate Pumpkin Protein Smoothie

This is something I make all the time and never really follow a recipe. The following is what I work with, but feel free to make changes as you see fit:

- 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree (I use Libby’s brand)
- 1/2 Cup Different frozen fruit; whatever I have at the time; banana works best, but I’ve used strawberries, blueberries, papaya, mango, and cherries with good results
- 6 to 10 drops of liquid vanilla flavored stevia
- 1/2 Cup various milks (dairy, unsweetened almond, or unsweetened coconut)
- 1 or 2 heaping spoonfuls of Greek yogurt
- 1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 to 1 scoop of chocolate or vanilla whey protein sweetened with stevia

Mix all ingredients in a blender, pour into desired cup and enjoy a sweet treat packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins!
Have you ever wondered about the difference from Dutch processed cocoa powder and just cocoa powder? Because natural cocoa is acidic, some powders are treated with an alkali to act as a neutralizer. This is Dutch processed; it has a reddish-brown color, mild flavor, and is easy to dissolve in liquids.Natural unsweetened Cocoa has a complex chocolate flavor while the Dutch-process is less intense. The intense flavor makes it ideal for use in brownies, cookies, and some chocolate cakes. When natural cocoa, an acid, is used in recipes calling for baking soda, an alkali, it creates a leavening action that causes batter to rise when cooked in the oven.
To obtain the most health benefits from cocoa powder, look for the raw, non-Dutch processed type as the processing (like most other foods) removes a lot of the benefits. Try adding a tablespoon to your coffee grounds before brewing a pot of java, and add some cinnamon for a quick Mexican Mocha Coffee.
Natural cocoa is lighter (on the left); Dutch-processed is darker (on the right)

Until next time, cheers to good health with good food!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Tasty Tomato

Sliced, diced, crushed, or whole, tomatoes complement many meals with flavor and nutrition! We all see the word Lycopene tossed around when tomatoes are involved, and for good reason! Tomatoes offer a whopping dose of lycopenes that help protect against prostate, cervical, colon, stomach, mouth, throat, and rectal cancers. Studies have shown that when lycopenes were introduced to pre-existing cancer cell cultures, the cultures were unable to grow anymore. Not a fan of tomatoes? No problem, it only takes 540mL of tomato product to benefit from lycopenes, that is equivalent to just one glass of tomato juice.
Aside from lycopenes, tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of molybdenum, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, chromium, and vitamin B1. In addition, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, folate, copper, niacin, vitamin B2, magnesium, iron, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, vitamin E and protein.


This fruit that poses as a veggie comes in over a thousand diverse varieties and can be red, yellow, orange, green, purple, brown, or a mixture of colors. In its raw form, the tomato lacks much sweetness and tastes more like a veggie, but cooking will reduce the acidic and bitter traits to bring out a rich and sweet product. As I’ve said before, just roasting veggies is easy and makes for great flavor, this goes for tangy tomatoes too.

You could be boring and just drink 540mL of tomato juice and be done with it, but here are three recipes I recommend you try instead:
Gazpacho – this is an easy to make cold soup and very customizable to your liking. Here’s a simple plan to get you started…. Purée tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and scallions together in a food processor and season with herbs and spices of your choice to make this refreshing cold soup.

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes - Two tasty and nutritious foods come together for something real satisfying!

Homemade Sundried Tomatoes – These are great in pasta dishes or salads, easy to make, just a long time in the oven. Nothing beats homemade; the store bought varieties can become costly.

You can never go wrong with tomatoes; hope you try one of these interesting but easy recipes soon! Be warned, the acid in tomatoes does not mix well with aluminum cookware. Your meal will become bitter and will have some aluminum contamination, please use something other than aluminum when cooking tomatoes on the stovetop.
For a little extra kick in any of the three recipes above, Just Add Cayenne to your liking!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homemade Rice Pudding

Who doesn’t love pudding? It can be made in many ways, but rice pudding is one of my favorites. Sure, you can buy it pre-made from Jello-O (not advisable) or Kozy Shack (better option), but making it homemade is always the best bet for a healthy treat.

Although some recipes call for raisins to be added, this usually takes away from the creaminess and just adds more sugar than needed. Homemade is better than store bought as you control the type of rice and other ingredients used. A little work pays off when using better ingredients to feed your need for sweet solace.

There may be some trial and error when opting for healthier ingredients, but that is part of the fun and learning process. Plus, I’ve never been so disappointed in the outcome where it had to be thrown out. Just search for a healthy rice pudding recipe and you will be faced with many options. For someone like me, “healthy” is not good enough, and I will alter the recipe further.

Here are a couple recipes and what I changed to make one of my favorite treats…

- 1/2 cup Arborio rice, uncooked – I opt for medium grain brown rice for more fiber and minerals than this white short grain variety
- 1 cup nonfat milk – Sometimes I will use a light coconut milk for a real treat, otherwise non-fat is great
- 1 cinnamon stick, about 3 inches long
- 3 tablespoons sugar – Not a fan of sugar (surprise), but will use Stevia or a little honey instead
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated – This does sound good to me, so I never add it.
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Ground cinnamon

Directions1 In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, stir together the 2 1/2 cups milk and the rice. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.
2 Reduce heat to medium high and boil for 5-6 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring occasionally.
3 Stir in the other 1 cup of milk, the cinnamon stick, sugar, and lemon zest.
4 Increase the heat to high and return to a boil, stirring occasionally.
5 Reduce the heat to medium high and boil for 4-5 minutes or until creamy and soupy.
6 Remove from the heat.
7 Stir in the vanilla and let the mixture stand for 30 minutes to thicken somewhat.
8 Before serving, remove the cinnamon stick. Sprinkle the individual dishes of pudding with ground cinnamon to your tastes.

 This is a pretty basic recipe and turns out great for me even when I make the noted ingredient changes. You really need to watch out when heating the milk, it will bubble and scald really fast if not careful! I love mine chilled with a few fresh strawberries, blueberries, bananas, or a combination. Try adding peanut butter for extra flavor and protein.
Another, more exotic recipe that can be used to “Wow” your friends and family is this black rice pudding.

  • 2 cups black (forbidden) rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups canned or fresh coconut milk – I use light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup palm sugar, or substitute brown sugar – It’s hard to mimic the role sugar plays in this recipe, but I am stubborn and use Stevia with maybe a 1/4 cup of brown sugar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Place the rice and water in a heavy pot and bring to a boil. Let boil vigorously for several minutes, stirring frequently, then cover, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to very low and let simmer, still covered, for about 30 minutes.
Just before the rice finishes cooking, place the coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the sugar and salt until completely dissolved. Heat just to a boil, then reduce to the lowest heat until the rice is cooked.
Add the coconut milk to the rice and stir well, then remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
Serve warm or at room temperature, in small bowls, with your choice of topping.
Black rice is an interesting grain and something fun to eat. Also, the compounds that make it black are called anthocyanins. These are the same type of antioxidants found in blueberries; plus you get the added benefit of more fiber, protein, and less sugar than the berries.
Try to use brown or black rice in place of white rice as much as possible, the benefits over the latter will pay huge dividends to your health.

For motivation to make the switch here’s an interesting bit of information from WHFoods.com
“The process that produces brown rice removes only the outermost layer, the hull, of the rice kernel and is the least damaging to its nutritional value. The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be "enriched" with vitamins B1, B3 and iron.” 

Rice can be enjoyed in many dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and, as seen above, dessert. Use it in for any part of your meal and start reaping the flavorful whole grain benefits for yourself!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Food News and Views

Just a few articles I found and wanted to share on today’s post. Enjoy the reading and use the info as you see fit!

In a country where candy displays are perched next to cash registers at every retail outlet imaginable and drinking soda is a birthright, it can hardly be surprising that Americans consume a large amount of sugar. But 22 teaspoons a day? That's hard to swallow.
Yet the statistic is true. U.S. adults consume 22.2 teaspoons of sugar daily -- or 355 calories, reports UPI. That wildly exceeds the daily recommended amount, says Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst. He says average-sized women should be consuming no more than 6.25 teaspoons; men 9.4.
Not only is the sugar bad for your waistline, but diets high in the sweet stuff have been shown to contribute to high blood pressure, increased triglycerides and cardiovascular disease, the American Heart Association says.
As is usually the case with dietary matters, a little moderation goes a long way.
Sugar is a hot topic on many news articles. It is the center of attention in the Corn Refiner’s Industry trying to change high fructose corn syrup to “corn sugar” thinking the new name won’t have a negative connotation. No matter the debate, it’s a non-nutritive, calorie dense ingredient in most packaged foods. An easy way to shed a few pounds is to cut out sodas and fruit drinks from the diet. Most people could do that alone and notice the improved composition and benefits in a week. Please, any sugar-filled drink users out there, switch to water for a month and see how much will change……for the good.

The Dukan Diet reportedly has Kate Middleton and J. Lo slenderizing. But is this high-protein, low-carb, four-phase diet really anything new? Calling Atkins and South Beach!

Now you can find out what all the hype is about. The English version of the decade-old French weight-loss bible The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever, by French physician Pierre Dukan, MD, hits stores today, April 19.

Our friends over at Everyday Health asked nutritionist Kelly MacDonald, RD, to review the Dukan Diet, and lay out the pros and cons. Among them: "Though you may see rapid initial weight loss, it will mostly be from water and, later, from muscle mass. You'll also likely experience fatigue, moodiness, and other symptoms because the diet is so severely lacking in carbohydrates."

Full article is here - http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition/the-dukan-diet.aspx
I despise fad diets, plain and simple. Most fad diets seem to have something to sell or someone will benefit with the more people trying them out. I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it, stick with foods directly from the earth and lean animal proteins and you’re good. Steer clear of any marketing, remember, businesses are just that….businesses, in order to survive, they must profit. Please stop trying to find the “trick” to weight loss and health. It’s no trick; just eat whole foods, cooked in your home most of the time. This will work for the majority of humans on Earth, please give it a try. The cost of wholesome food is offset by less medication or doctor’s visits in the long term.

Is the federal government about to put Tony the Tiger out of a job?

In the face of a national epidemic of childhood obesity, a collection of federal agencies has been working for two years now to come up with a set of voluntary guidelines that would restrict what foods can be marketed to kids. Food companies and marketing groups rejected a set of proposed guidelines last year, and the government has repeatedly postponed releasing new ones.

But as the Associated Press reports, the feds may finally pull the trigger as soon as today. Apparently, the AP reporter got a sneak peek at the new guidelines and writes that "companies would be urged to only market foods to children ages 2 through 17 if they are low in fats, sugars and sodium and contain specified healthy ingredients."

The story goes on to say that the new guidelines are stricter than the standards companies have set for themselves in terms of targeting kids. (Not a surprise since a company like Kellogg's, for example, still doesn't see anything wrong with hawking Frosted Flakes to tots, as an article in the New York Times pointed out last year.)

The guidelines will reportedly cover not only traditional forms of advertising (e.g., commercials during Saturday morning cartoons), but the burgeoning market of online advertising as well.

There's probably more to say here, but darn it, in the middle of writing this we popped over to the Lucky Charms website (which gets, like, a quarter million hits a month), and we got so distracted trying to navigate Lucky the Leprechaun through the Chocolate Mines that we ran out of time.

Luckily, there's a tiny banner at the bottom to remind us: "Hey kids, this is advertising!"
Another attack on the marketers, I know. Well, I say adults are still the most to blame as it’s our responsibility to question what goes into our body. To this, it’s the adult’s responsibility for what goes in their kid’s body as well. I understand parents just want to make their kids happy, and buying them whatever they saw on the latest commercial will do just that…..for the day at least. So, advertising to kids is an effective approach for a business, but makes it hard (not impossible) to keep the kid’s diet clean. Parents must strive to teach their kids early and by following a healthy lifestyle themselves. So they throw a fit, it can’t last forever, just know of you succumb to the fit, they’ll be another one right around the corner.

Please consider my thoughts on these articles and do what you will with all similar info. An enjoyable life is a healthy life. Health can be obtained through wholesome foods and a better attitude towards life.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Support Your Community, Environment, and Yourself!

Food is good………fresh food is better………local fresh food is the Best!

It may seem difficult and costly to start purchasing more local food from a farmer’s market as opposed to food shipped to your nearest grocer, but certain groups have helped tremendously. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and food co-ops are two popular ways for people like you and me to benefit from fresh food straight from a farm near you.

Kelley and I currently have our house for sale and were scheduled for a showing this past Saturday morning. Since this puts us out of the house for 2 hours, we opted to go for a nice walk with Abby, our Golden Retriever, and buy some coffee from a local business nearby. On the walk back, we stumbled on a group of people sorting various fresh produce among laundry baskets in equal portions. This was something that I, a food lover, had to investigate.

We walked over and the people explained how they are a food co-op consisting of small group of people who get their food from a farmer’s market every 2 weeks. To join, you pay $25 for each food assortment and a one-time fee of $7 for the laundry baskets used to place your share of food. After explaining how the group rotates who goes to the farmer’s market for the bulk purchases and their bi-weekly meeting time, I was intrigued and wanted to join. I saw they had mushrooms (a big fav of mine) and asked if I could by any leftovers. Instead, they gave us a basket full of their whole assortment of produce; green peppers, string beans, mango, kiwi, mushrooms, broccoli, and romaine lettuce!
Wow! If they didn’t know how passionate I was about food already, they did now. I became giddy offered the $5 we had left after our coffee purchase, but they refused. We finally get the group to accept the cash as a donation for their new church, but wish we could’ve given more. I got a number to call once we were sure we wanted to join, and then we carried on our way with a bag full of goodies!
So, what are food co-ops and CSA’s you ask? Here’s an explanation for each group and their benefits listed from this site:

Community Supported Agriculture: These arrangements involve a consumer (you) purchasing shares (also called memberships or subscriptions) from a farmer. In exchange, you receive a weekly box (container, bag, basket) of local food grown seasonally on the farm. You may also be asked to spend time working on the farm to help out. This way, the benefits of a bumper crop are shared equally among the members, as are the challenges of a lean year.

Food co-ops: These involve the cooperative efforts of a group of people or organizations all with the aim of producing food for all members. They are generally nonprofit organizations, but they may sell to the public, with all profits going to the members. Food buying clubs, a subset of food coops, are those groups that come together to buy in bulk from local farmers in order to achieve lower prices for locally produced foods.

Benefits of purchasing from a CSA or food cooperative

Farmers benefit: By partnering with the people who purchase the food and from the resulting financial support, a community is born, allowing input from all sides in order to create a better system for all.

Consumers benefit: Those purchasing food co-op food receive ultra-fresh produce that’s healthier and more eco-friendly. Additionally, when the farmer grows interesting heritage foods, consumers are exposed to foods they may never have tried before. Children of these families also benefit by learning where their food comes from.

Environment benefits: Purchasing foods produced locally reduces the food miles your food travels (giving you a smaller carbon footprint). You’ll also likely be supporting a small-scale, family farm that is much more sustainable and hopefully organic, which has many other benefits. Learn more about the benefits of being a locavore.

Search for co-ops and CSA’s in your area at http://www.localharvest.org/ and start doing your part for a healthier environment and healthier you!

Here are a couple other sites to search for local farmers:



If there is nothing in your immediate area, you can look into starting your own co-op and take pride in your work.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Enhance Flavor & Boost Nutrition with Herbs

Anyone trying to cut back on calories but experiencing a loss of flavor should try adding herbs (fresh or dried) to meals. Herbs have plenty to offer in terms of distinct flavors and nutrients for our bodies. Herbs will add zest to a meal without the need for a lot of salt. If you find yourself at a loss when trying to prepare a healthy meal that still has flavor, try some of the herbs listed below.

Basil – Anti-inflammatory, high in magnesium, and high in Vitamin A
Great with tomatoes and mozzarella for an easy caprese salad. Basil pairs well with many foods including eggs, white fish, and basically all types of veggies. It is really good fresh or dried when mixed in a salad. Basil is a token of love in Italy, so it’s always good to have on hand when traveling abroad!

Parsley – Anti-cancer, Antioxidants, Immune system, and high in Vitamins A, C, & K

The curly type is served as a garnish in many dishes, and works as a breath freshener for after the meal. Italian parsley is a versatile herb that is a great addition to poultry, eggs, pasta, rice, potatoes, and all veggies. Try this chicken parsley recipe for a quick and healthy meal.

Oregano – Anti-bacterial, high in antioxidants and Vitamin C

Similar to and interchangeable with marjoram, oregano is known for its use in pasta and pizza sauces. It also goes well with fish, rice, and summer squash dishes. Make some happy taste buds with this pizza recipe, omit the chicken and add veggies for an awesome vegetarian pizza.

Dill – Anti-bacterial and good source of calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium

A member of the parsley family, dill adds robust flavor to many creamy dips. Create a satisfying and healthy Greek dip with this Tzatziki recipe. Dill helps to calm our digestive system by soothing stomach aches and is also said to cure hiccups. Can’t hurt to try some Tzatziki dip next time you get a case of the hiccups!

Thyme – Anti-oxidant, antimicrobial, good source of iron and manganese

Yes, we all wish we had more of it…..to flavor our food that is. Thyme is a great accompaniment to most meat dishes and useful in flavoring stock for soups and stews. Serve this Thyme Roast Pork Tenderloin recipe for a great weekend meal packed with flavor!

Rosemary – Rich in B Vitamins, high in vitamins A &C, and good source of potassium, calcium, and iron

Another herb that make meat marvelous, but vegetables irresistible in this roasted veggie recipe.
This herb dries very well and and is also commonly used in household products for its pleasant aroma.

Cilantro – helps lower blood sugar, remove metals from the body, anti-inflammatory, good source of iron and magnesium

A cool fact on cilantro is that the seeds are what we know as the spice coriander. Cilantro is incredibly popular in Mexican cuisine, and mostly commonly known for its place in salsa and guacamole. Whip up this healthy guacamole recipe with Greek yogurt for your next gathering or just all for yourself!

Next time you are inspired to cook a meal or two, skip the salt and toss in a few of these herbs for a healthy dose of flavor! Also, for something extra in your dish, Just Add Cayenne!