Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why Am I Gaining Weight?

Two out of three people in America today are either overweight or obese. My question is this, what happened? How did we all get in this predicament? Well, the simple answer is that we eat more calories. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that American men eat 7% more calories than they did in 1971; American women eat a whopping 18% more—an additional 335 calories a day! But the harder question is this: Why do we eat so many more calories? Are we suddenly more gluttonous? Do we have some kind of collective death wish? The answer to these questions is, no. There’s an even crazier reason: It’s the food! We’ve added extra calories to traditional foods, often in cheap, mass-produced vehicles like high fructose corn syrup. These new freak foods are designed not by chefs, but by lab technicians packing every morsel with maximum calories at minimum cost—with little or no regard to dietary impact. A perfect example is the typical fast food hamburger; it’s enough to kill your appetite, which would be a good thing

The great American staple; fast food hamburgers. Let me start by saying, yes, burgers really do come from cows—but have you ever wondered how those giant chains process and distribute so much meat so cheaply? If you don’t want to know, stop reading now.

The Truth: Most fast-food hamburger patties begin their voyage to your buns in the hands of a company called Beef Products. The company specializes in taking slaughterhouse trimmings—heads and hooves and the like—that are traditionally used only in pet food and cooking oil, and turning them into patties. The challenge is getting this meat byproduct clean enough for human consumption, as both E. coli and salmonella like to concentrate themselves in the fatty deposits. The company has developed a process for killing beef-based pathogens by forcing the ground meat through pipes and exposing it to ammonia gas—the same chemical you might use to clean your bathroom. Not only has the USDA approved the process, but it's also allowed those who sell the beef to keep it hidden from their customers. At Beef Products’ authority, ammonia gas has been deemed a “processing agent” that need not be identified on nutrition labels. Never mind that if ammonia gets on your skin, it can cause severe burning, and if it gets in your eyes, it can blind you. Add to the gross-out factor the fact that after moving through this lengthy industrial process, a single beef patty can consist of cobbled-together pieces from different cows from all over the world—a practice that only increases the odds of contamination.

Eat This Instead: Losing weight starts in your own kitchen, by using the same ingredients real chefs have relied on since the dawn of the spatula. If you’re set on the challenge of eating fresh, single-source hamburger, and pick out a nice hunk of sirloin from the meat case and have your butcher grind it up fresh. Hold the ammonia, thank you!

As always, bon appétit!

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year's Weight Loss

It is a time-honored tradition to make resolutions at this time of year. If your resolution is to lose weight (and keep it off) then keep reading! Here are a few simple tips that will have you losing weight in a balanced and healthy way.

Drink lots of water: Water is essential for weight loss. If you haven't been drinking enough water, your body has developed a pattern of storing water. This water retention equals extra unwanted weight. By drinking more water, you are not only flushing out toxins, you are also teaching your body that it no longer needs to store water. Drink at least 60 ounces of water (about 8 glasses) a day. Boil water and sliced lemons, and drink this throughout the day to help with fluid retention. If you are still not sold on the merits of water, try this on for size: water is a natural appetite suppressant.

Eat early to keep weight off: The human body follows a circadian rhythm, which means that the same foods eaten at breakfast and lunch are processed differently than when eaten at dinner. Studies show that when you eat your daily protein and fat at breakfast you tend to lose weight and have more energy; however, eating the same things at dinner tend to increase tendencies toward weight gain. I suggest that you eat your last meal of the day by 7 p.m. if possible.

Adopt a balanced approach to your diet: Most of the fad diet programs out there nowadays are extreme in a few recommended foods, or else deprive the body of food altogether. This works in opposition to our metabolism and the results usually don't last, producing a yo-yo effect that depresses your metabolic function—not to mention your self-esteem. We are natural beings that need a balance of nutrition from all sources. Your diet should consist of a balance of organic sources of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Instead of white rice and pasta, opt for brown rice, bulgur, millet, or buckwheat. Eat greener, chlorophyll-rich foods such as broccoli, kale, spinach, and asparagus. Eliminate candy, sugar, soda, and all simple sugars from your diet. Excess sugar ends up being stored as fat in your body, which results in weight gain. Also, keep dairy to a minimum because most dairy products are high in saturated fat. Avoid fatty foods, processed or fried foods.

Get physical! The number one cause of weight gain is inactivity. Physical activity is the key to speeding up your metabolism and burning excess calories. The best way to be physically active is to use your legs! Walk as often and as long as you can. Always take the stairs instead of the elevator. Step outside during your break at work and take a walk around your building. Consider joining a local hiking club, gym or athletic club. Try taking a walk 30 minutes in the morning or 30 minutes in the early evening.

I hope these tips help you shed some pounds and add on the years! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Fat Traps to Avoid

Tis the season. This is a difficult time of year for most of us that are trying to eat well and pay attention to our waistline! There is an abundance of opportunities to eat way too much food. That being said, I think it would be unreasonable for any of us to try and avoid all the holiday cheer around the dinner table. However, choose wisely because there are a few holiday foods that can completely wreck your diet! Moderation is the key, along with keeping your activity level high through the holidays. Here are a few of the worst offenders to watch out for:

Pecan pie
What it’ll cost you: On their own, pecans are high in calories, but combine them with sugar, butter, and corn syrup and you’ve got a potentially deadly dessert. A single slice will cost you more than 500 calories, 37 grams of fat, and 26 grams of sugar! If you want to indulge, go ahead; simply plan a 40 minute run to burn off the calories.

Glazed ham
What it’ll cost you: A 6-ounce slice contains 1,760 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of sugar, and 300 calories. This might not seem outrageous, but think about how many slices of ham you fork onto your plate. The numbers add up quickly!

Swedish meatballs
What it’ll cost you: Lurking within each tempting ball can be at least 400 calories of white bread, butter, heavy cream, and sodium-laden beef broth. If you can’t resist, go ahead and enjoy. You can burn off the calories with 40 minutes of cycling.

Spinach and artichoke dip
What it’ll cost you: Spinach and artichokes alone are nutritious. However, generous amounts of mayonnaise, sour cream, and cream cheese overpower the vitamin-packed veggies. One popular restaurant’s spinach and artichoke dip with tostada chips has 905 calories and 3,100 milligrams of sodium, over 1,000 more milligrams than the USDA recommends! Yikes!

As always, bon appétit!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fat Traps

First I'll start by saying that I hate the four-letter word "diet" simply because of the negative connotations it conjures up. The actual definition of diet is “a prescribed selection of foods.” That being said, paying attention to the foods we choose to eat has a profound effect on our overall well-being and weight.

One of the most common diet downfalls most of us encounter (including me) is our choice of beverages. A perfect example is a “blended coffee drink” from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Most of these beverages average at least 439 calories; those extra calories can lead to a 20-pound weight gain in one year. Yikes!

I’m not asking you to give up your morning coffee, because I certainly couldn’t dream of giving up mine. However, a simple switch to plain brewed coffee (which is nearly calorie-free) can save you a ton of calories. But I won’t be a total party pooper on this one; if you love specialty drinks, simply choose a smaller size and skip the whipped cream and syrups (add the sugar yourself). Presweetened drinks can contain 20 teaspoons of sugar which is double the 10 teaspoons of added sugar any of us need on a daily basis.

As always, bon appétit!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Worst Foods in America, 2010

This article is definitely worth reading. I hope you find it as enlightening as I did and, as always, bon appetit!

"This year brought perhaps the craziest, most calorically damaging menu items we've ever seen. In fact, you should not attempt to eat a single thing on this list unless you are sharing it with at least three other people—because each of these “individual servings” include a full day (or more) worth of calories."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Skinny Through the Holidays

Everyone knows when the holiday season rolls around, extra pounds seem to magically appear. Ur, um, or maybe its from eating all those baked goods, huge meals, party appetizers, and candy bowls around the office.

The most important thing you can do for yourself this time of year is to increase your exercise and overall activity level. You don't have to be a superstar athlete, just doing anything other than sitting around can help; jog, walk, run, chase your children around the house, clean out the garage, yoga, dancing (you get the picture.) If you can add some strength training in as well, that is perfect. The idea is to keep your energy level up and keep moving throughout the day. Limit your time sitting and when you are sitting, wiggle your legs as best as you can. You burn more calories standing then you do sitting, about 120 per hour. Anytime during the day you can sneak some exercise in do it, waiting in line, jump back and forth foot to foot, dusting your house add in a few dance steps, be creative have fun and keep moving.

One thing that has helped me to maintain my weight is simple; if I'm not hungry, I don't eat! Don't eat food just because it is there or to not hurt someone's feelings. You can take a piece and say "Thank you, I will save it for later I am not hungry now".

Maintaing a regular exercise schedule and eating sensibly is the best way to make it through the holidays without gaining excess weight. It is unreasonable to expect that you will go to parties and abstain from all the food choices that are offered.


Friday, August 13, 2010

The Center for Science in the Public Interest Publishes their list of the 10 Worst and Best Foods


The top 10 worst are both funny and sad all at the same time! Number two is my favorite:

2. Triple Bypass: Can’t decide what to pick from a restaurant menu? No worries. Now you can order not just one entrée, but two … or three … all at once. Olive Garden’s Tour of Italy – Homemade Lasagna, Lightly Breaded Chicken Parmigiana, and Creamy Fettuccine Alfredo – comes with 1,450 calories, 33 grams of saturated fat, and 3,830 milligrams of sodium. Add a breadstick (150 calories and 400 mg of sodium) and a plate of Garden-Fresh Salad with dressing (350 calories and 1,930 mg of sodium) and you’ll consume 2,000 calories (an entire day’s worth) and 6,160 mg.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Successful Weight Loss Tips

Okay, for those of us still anticipating getting into a bikini before the end of summer, let’s get real and talk about how to lose a few pounds. For many people weight loss is a chronic endeavor; all too often the shedding of pounds is a temporary event followed by a steady regain of lost weight. Most popular diets are unsuccessful in the long run because they fail to address the multi-faceted nature of what successful, permanent weight loss necessitates. While no single blog post can possibly cover this vast subject, below are some helpful tips.

1. Exercise is essential for weight loss:
This is nothing new, but exercise is probably the most important predictor of whether you will succeed at long term weight loss and weight loss maintenance. In order for exercise to be helpful in weight loss, you should strive for a minimum of five 30 minute sessions per week. One caveat, be certain to find something you enjoy so that you'll be more apt to stick with it. Try walking with a friend, joining a sports league, participating in outings, hiking, running, or try some classes at your local gym. Once you give exercise a chance, you will begin to enjoy its positive benefits on your psyche as well; you will literally become "hooked" (trust me!)

2. Keep a food diary for triggers that hinder weight loss:
Keeping a food diary can be a huge asset in successful weight loss. Devote some time each day to record what you have eaten and how much, your hunger level prior to eating, and any feelings or emotions present at the time. A food diary can provide a large amount of self-awareness. It can identify emotions and behaviors that trigger overeating, foster greater awareness of portion sizes, and help you discover your personal food triggers. Study any patterns that emerge from your food diary and identify where you may be able to make more healthful changes. A food diary provides an added benefit of keeping you focused on and committed to your goals.

3. Stay focused on being healthy, NOT on becoming thin:
Many people become more successful at long term weight loss when their motivation changes from wanting to be thinner to wanting to be healthier. Change your mindset to think about selecting foods that will help your body's health rather than worrying about foods that will affect your body's weight. Focus on eating high quality, nutrient dense REAL food.

4. Weight loss and portion control:
With the advent of "super-size" meals and increasingly huge portions at restaurants, our concept of normal serving sizes is a distant memory. Be mindful of the amounts of food you consume at a sitting. When necessary, divide your food in half and ask for a take home bag. It is all too easy to be a "plate cleaner" even when served enormous portions. Learn to pay attention to your hunger level and stop eating when you feel comfortably full, not stuffed.

5. Lose weight slowly with small changes:
It is important to realize that the more quickly weight is lost, the more likely the loss is coming from water and muscle, not fat. Since muscle tissue is critical in keeping our metabolism elevated, losing it actually leads to a decrease in the amount of calories we can each day without gaining weight. Fat loss is best achieved when weight is lost slowly. Strive for a weight loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week. One pound of weight is equivalent to 3500 calories. By making small changes like eliminating 250 calories a day from food and expending 250 calories a day from exercise, you can lose one pound (of mostly fat) per week.

6. Eating slowly can lead to weight loss:
Did you ever notice that thin people take an awfully long time to eat their food? Eating slowly is one method that can help take off pounds. That's because from the time you begin eating it takes the brain 20 minutes to start signaling feelings of fullness. Fast eaters often eat beyond their true level of fullness before the 20 minute signal has had a chance to set in. The amount of calories consumed before you begin to feel full can vary significantly depending on how quickly you eat. So slow down, take smaller bites and enjoy and savor every tasty morsel.

7. Weight loss through eating more fat (yes, more), but do it wisely:
If you were around for the low-fat diet craze of the 90's, you may have found yourself convinced that fat is the dieter's worst enemy. But that's not necessarily true. Fat is actually considered a vital nutrient. It is an important part of your diet: It can not only be beneficial ... it's essential! Fat supplies essential fatty acids for growth, healthy skin, vitamin-absorption and regulation of bodily functions. Not to mention that eating enough fat may actually help you manage your weight loss efforts by providing a better sense of satiety than other lower fat foods. This is because it helps you feel fuller longer than other lighter fare. For example, if you eat a reduced-fat cheese and egg white omelet in the a.m., your tummy may grumble by the time you've settled into your cubicle; but if you use a small portion of regular cheese, that morning meal may have longer staying power and keep you hunger-free until noon. The reason is fat actually takes longer to digest than some other types of foods. Since it sticks around in your stomach a while, you'll feel fuller longer and will be less inclined to eat until you feel a sense of hunger again.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sushi is Good For You!

Sushi is at the top of my list of favorite foods...so...I thought it would be fun to learn how to make it. It turns out that there is a lot more work involved that I thought. That being said, I have a much greater appreciation for all the hard work that goes into making sushi taste so yummy! Available in almost every city, sushi is much more than just a tasty meal. In fact, scientists believe it is one of the reasons why the Japanese are among the healthiest people in the world. The Japanese diet of raw fish, vegetables and rice is one of the healthiest in the world and as a result, their rates of heart disease are among the lowest in the world. On average, each person in Japan consumes around 100 grams of fish every day, in forms such as sushi, tempura and sashimi. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish are linked to heart protection and improved circulation. Rice is the staple of the Japanese diet and is a good source of energy and provides a supply of protein. Wasabi is thought to cleanse the palate and has also been found to aid in cancer prevention and prevent blood clots, if eaten regularly. The Japanese have been eating sea vegetables for centuries and they use seaweed in large amounts in their diet because of its concentrated mineral content. Up to a quarter of Japanese food contains seaweed to boost flavor and is rich in iodine, copper, calcium iron and magnesium. Ginger is a popular flavor-enhancer in sushi dishes and is widely known to have therapeutic effects, including aiding digestion. Soy sauce is made from fermented soy beans and is widely used in Japanese cooking. There are some definite benefits linked to a higher consumption of foods rich in soy. For those of you who are gluten-intolerant (like me), the only issue here is the soy sauce. The good news is that San-J makes a wonderful wheat-free soy sauce. San-J is available at Whole Foods Market and most any Health Food store.

If you live in Richmond and are interested in learning how to make sushi, please visit the link below.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fats that make you thin

I wanted to share this video to help shed some light on the (sometimes confusing) topic of weight loss and dietary fat. For starters, we all need some fat in our diets to support optimal health and well-being. The issue is the source of fat we choose to consume, along with quality and quantity. I think this video helps clear up some of the confusion on this subject. As always, bon appétit!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Muffin Top Epidemic

"Muffin-top" is a generally pejorative slang term used to describe the phenomenon of overhanging flesh when it spills over the waistline of pants or skirts in a manner that resembles the top of a muffin spilling over its paper casing. This generally occurs when a person wears low-rise jeans, hip-hugger pants, and/or midriff-baring tops that are too small.

The question I have is why is this problem so widespread? I don’t have all the answers, but I believe that High Fructose Corn Syrup is a major culprit in this phenomenon. High fructose corn syrup was virtually unheard of until the 1970's when it was added to many foods and beverages, replacing white sugar and other sugars. Food manufacturers found this simple sugar tasted good and was a lot cheaper to use than other sweeteners. It didn't take long before high fructose corn syrup was added to everything, including bread and many processed foods. Perhaps by coincidence (perhaps not) the rate of obesity began steadily increasing after high fructose corn syrup made its appearance on the supermarket shelves as a hidden ingredient in foods. Many nutritionists blame it for the spike in weight gain following the low-fat craze of the 1980s, since greater amounts of high fructose corn syrup were added to products such as low fat cookies to make up for the taste lost by reducing the fat.

There are many reasons why high fructose corn syrup is bad for health and especially bad for people trying to lose weight. According to medical doctor and noted health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola, high fructose corn syrup is the sweetener most easily metabolized by the body directly into fat. Drinking just one can of soda pop puts 40 grams of high fructose corn syrup into your body, which is more than the American Medical Association's recommended daily allowance for all sweeteners! Drinking a can of pop along with eating a sandwich on white bread with high fructose corn sweetened-grape jelly and peanut butter can put your consumption sky-high. This manufactured fructose is sweeter than sugar in an unhealthy way, and is digested differently in a bad way. Research has shown that "high-fructose corn syrup" goes directly to the liver, releasing enzymes that instruct the body to then store fat! This may elevate triglyceride (fat in blood) levels and elevate cholesterol levels. This fake fructose may slow fat burning and cause weight gain. Other research indicates that it does not stimulate insulin production, which usually creates a sense of being full. Therefore, people may eat more than they should

Within the body, high fructose corn sweetener is processed very differently from natural sugars found in fruits and other food sources. Dr. Elizabeth Parks, writing in the Journal of Nutrition in 2008, states that high fructose corn syrup is quickly converted by the liver directly into fats, which are then stored. Some are stored directly at the liver. These can lead to raised cholesterol levels as well as create conditions ripe for insulin resistance, a precursor to Type II (adult-onset) diabetes. Worse yet, high fructose corn syrup is also a trigger food for some people; ingesting even a small amount of high fructose corn syrup sets up a craving in the body akin to an alcoholic's craving for more booze once they take a single sip.

Losing weight is not about deprivation; natural weight loss is possible once you eliminate high fructose corn syrup from the diet. The first steps are fairly simple; eliminate obvious sources such as soda pop and other sweetened beverages. Even fruit juices can contain large amounts of high fructose corn syrup, so unless the label states that the product is 100% fruit juice, or doesn't list high fructose corn syrup among the ingredients, skip it. Other healthy beverages include tea of all sorts, plain water, and sparkling water. The health benefits of tea are legendary and whether you opt for green tea, black tea, or herbal teas, unsweetened tea is a wonderful beverage to consume. Read labels carefully on all processed products. Breads, cookies, crackers, boxed and frozen dinners, ice cream and frozen desserts all contain great amounts of high fructose corn syrup. Making your own desserts ensures that all the ingredients are high fructose corn syrup free. Cooking from scratch using only unprocessed ingredients takes only a little bit more time and helps you avoid excess corn syrup, salt, and chemicals.

The only way to make lasting changes is to focusing on natural, whole, unprocessed foods. While fructose does exist in fruits, these natural plant foods also contain several vitamins and minerals that effectively disable the ill effects of the fructose they contain. When you're eating processed and prepared foods, you're often getting the desired taste but completely missing the nutritional value of your food. To truly take control of your weight, you must become aware of the foods that damage your body, and the foods that nourish and heal you. More often than not, if you suspect a food is unhealthy for you, you're right. Inspect your labels, or better yet, try eating foods that don't come packaged and processed for a couple of weeks and note the difference in your weight and overall health.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Eat Local

Local and regional food equates to fresh food, vibrant communities, and a strong connection between cities and the countryside. We live during a time when we can get exactly what we want, when we want it. With the ability to ship goods throughout the world, most countries have access to fruits and vegetables that they would not otherwise have. Regardless of the time of year, we can get pretty much any fruit or vegetable at the grocery store; this isn't necessarily a good thing. It is usually many days, or maybe even weeks, by the time all of these imported fruits and vegetables have reached the United States. Worse yet, most of these items are picked before they are even ripe--which makes the nutritional content inferior. Fruits and vegetables are most nutritious when picked at the peak of ripeness (of course, this is nearly impossible to do year round.)

The solution? Only eat fruits and vegetables that are in season. Being willing to eat what is locally available is the best way to save money on fruits and vegetables and is the best for you nutritionally. For me eating what is local means different things in the summer and winter. In the summer I can eat fruits and vegetables grown locally or driven within a few hundred miles. However, in the winter this simply isn’t possible (local becomes anything grown in the United States!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day!

Celebrate the earth, eat environmentally friendly! What better way to honor Earth Day than to prepare a dish that's easy on the environment? Check out this website chock full of Earth Day recipes, featuring seasonal fruits and vegetables. Look for spring gems like asparagus, blueberries, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms and peas at your nearest farmer's market. Eating local supports your economy and involves fewer miles traveled - and fewer pollutants emitted - to get dinner on your plate.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Liberation Diet

This book is right up my alley! What if you could eat re­al, sat­is­fy­ing, full-​fat foods, and get thin and healthy, for life? We've been pro­grammed by the food, med­i­cal and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­tries with mis­in­for­ma­tion that is de­stroy­ing our health in Amer­i­ca. Au­thors Brown and Pres­ley nav­i­gate the mine­field of mis­con­cep­tions sur­round­ing low–fat high-​carb di­ets, soy foods, and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal med­i­ca­tions. They chal­lenge com­mon myths about choles­terol, wa­ter con­sump­tion, and ex­er­cise -​-​ and their find­ings will sur­prise you.

Writ­ten by a na­tion­al­ly renowned per­son­al fit­ness train­er from New Jer­sey and a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian from Texas, two health mav­er­icks who in­de­pen­dent­ly came to the same con­clu­sions about the "code-​red" state of health, The Lib­er­a­tion Di­et rep­re­sents their col­lab­o­ra­tion in crack­ing The Mis-​In­for­ma­tion Code. Un­like most di­ets, The Lib­er­a­tion Di­et has many re­al life suc­cess sto­ries.

Get ‘lib­er­at­ed’! Fol­low The Lib­er­a­tion Di­et and get thin and healthy for life!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easy Herb Garden

One of the things I love most about springtime is easy access to fresh, tasty herbs. You can easily grow them in pots on the patio within reach of the grill! Potted herbs are fairly easy to grow, but they are a bit different than most container plants, so you'll want to make a few adjustment. Just a few super easy steps and you’re on your way!

1. Plant herbs with similar light requirements in the same pots (I admittedly don’t have a green thumb, so I tend to stick with herbs that have similar light requirements.)

Herbs which tolerate full sun are basil, sage, rosemary and thyme. Lemon balm, tansy, oregano and parsley like partial shade. Bay, chamomile, coriander, ginger, mint and tarragon tolerate full shade.

2. Use at least 10" pots for single herb plantings and much larger pots if you are going to put multiple herbs in one pot. Herbs have expansive root systems and need the room large pots give them.

3. Amend the soil you use for your herbs. Herbs grow best in an alkaline-based, aerated soil. Create these conditions by mixing 3 parts all-purpose potting mix with 1 part manure and 1 part coarse sand. The sand creates aeration and the manure makes the soil more alkaline.

4. Water herbs in pots by soaking them, letting them dry out slightly over a period of two or three days and then soaking them again. Herbs prefer to dry out slightly in between heavy watering. However, if your herbs are in full sun, watch them to make sure they do not wilt. Herbs must be watered every day if they dry out in the span of one day.

5. Water the herbs more often if you grow them in clay pots because clay pots dry out more quickly than wood or plastic pots. Smaller pots also need water more often.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Real Food, Real People

I'm so excited about the growing interest in real food! So, what is real food? The first thought that comes to mind for most people is a vegetarian diet. While there is nothing wrong with that approach, I prefer to have the variety that meat, poultry and seafood provide. The key is eating whole fresh foods that are minimally processed. As Michael Pollan says "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

Many of my readers have expressed that they like the idea of eating this way, but need help. Michael Pollan has many excellent books that tackle the subject of food. These are two of my favorites and have been a source of inspiration for eating well. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Grilled Rib Eye Steak

There’s nothing like a grilled Rib Eye steak (and a glass of red wine), now THIS is real food. Grass-fed, locally raised Rib Eye steak on the grill is just downright amazing! It has a wonderful buttery taste, which is absolutely delightful. Add a green salad and some garlic smashed potatoes and you have a very delicious, yet simple, dinner.

How to grill a perfect Rib Eye steak:

• Purchase Rib Eye steak at least 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick, with bright red color and abundant marbling.
• Bring steak to room temperature — removing from the refrigerator at least 2 hours prior to cooking. This will prevent over-charring or taking too long to cook.
• Marinate for at least one hour. One of my favorites is very simple; olive oil, red wine, a dash of soy sauce, and salt & pepper.
• Preheat gas grill on high to 500–600 degrees.
• Place steak on very hot grill and close lid. This will help the steak cook from all angles and sear in juices.
• Cook with lid down for 2-3 minutes (resist the urge to open and look.)
• Flip steak after 2-3 minutes using grilling tongs. Don't use a fork, it will let out all the juices you're trying to keep in.
• Close lid and continue to cook until preferred doneness:
     About 1 more minute for rare
     About 2 more minutes for medium rare
     About 3-4 more minutes for medium

Garlic Smashed Potatoes:

• 3-4 organic russet potatoes
• 5-6 organic garlic cloves
• ¼ cup butter
• Just enough milk to make the potatoes creamy
• Salt to taste

Scrub potatoes thoroughly. Cut into quarters (leave skin on) and boil with garlic cloves until soft. Smash potatoes and garlic with a fork, add butter and milk to desired consistency. Salt to taste.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grocery Shopping Critique

The emerging trend toward healthier, fresher foods that are also kind to the environment present a new dilemma for conscientious consumers. As a result of this, marketers tout the attributes of "organic" food, while the "local foods movement" is gaining popularity throughout the world. Consumers frequent local farmers' markets because they expect higher quality, freshness and taste, and lower prices. Organically grown produce is healthy and environmentally friendly because of the use of less-damaging pesticides. But the loaded question is this; do consumers really understand the difference between "organic" and "local" produce? And what price are we willing to pay for these fresh, premium products? These questions present challenges for growers, retailers, and ultimately, savvy consumers.

Follow the link bellow to learn more; I found this article to be very informative on the subject and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why Has Eating Become So Difficult?

Along with sleep, what you eat is likely the biggest determinant of how healthy you are. Now, the real question is: why is it so hard to figure out what we should be eating? A wolf doesn’t have a problem figuring out what a healthy diet is, birds know exactly what they should be eating (you probably see where I'm going with this.) So what’s the deal with us humans? I think the answer is that most of what we’re presented with isn’t real food. A stroll down the grocery aisle will confirm this, what you’ll see is (to quote Michael Pollan) “edible food-like substances,” but precious little “food”. We’ve been convinced that the foods nature has provided us are inadequate and need our intervention. We steer clear of fat, along with other important nutrients. Then we dissect food, and put it back together in unnatural ways, generally making sure that we never eat anything remotely resembling the foods our body recognizes.

What I mean by “real food” is simple…foods that are in, or very near to, their natural state. Here’s a short list of guidelines to lead us to real foods:

Food grows and dies; it isn’t created.
Food rots, wilts, starts to smell (you get the picture).
Food doesn’t need an ingredient label (and probably isn’t in a package either). Example, an apple is an apple, chicken is chicken, and almonds are almonds… and, yada, yada, yada!
Food doesn’t make health claims and doesn’t have celebrity endorsements.

So where do you find all of this food? Ideally, your local farmer’s market; the food is fresher with an abundance of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, raw cheeses, and grass-fed meats and eggs (not pies, cookies, and bagels), real food from real farmers. Okay, so let’s get real, a trip to the grocery is inevitable and I understand that. The key to the grocery store is sticking to the perimeter. Think about what you see on the outside of the store…meat, eggs, produce, nuts; all foods that are incredibly healthy and unprocessed. About the only thing I can think of worth venturing into the middle aisles for are things like olives, vinegar, rice, tomato sauce, and toothpaste.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Subway’s Dubious Nutrition Claims

When you think of a healthy fast food chain, which one comes to mind?  If you chose Subway, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey by market research firm Decision Analyst, Subway is the fast food franchise consumers trust the most for nutrition information. Subway is the leader in consumer trust with almost one-quarter (24.2%) of consumers saying they “completely trust” its nutritional claims…42% of Subway customers choose this restaurant because it “has a good selection of healthy items,” compared with only 3% of Taco Bell consumers who select this restaurant for its healthy menu.

“Subway owns the nutritional claim relative to its competition, as there is a significant gap between Subway and these other popular fast food/quick-service restaurants.” Truth be told; Subway has taken great pains to portray itself as a healthy fast food, and if you look at the nutrition information on their menus and website, it is quite impressive, until you read the fine print.

What you need to know:

At the bottom of the nutrition facts webpage (this requires a great deal of scrolling) you’ll see the following “disclaimers” in small print:

Subs with 6 grams of fat or less include 9-Grain Wheat bread, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers. All other sandwich values include cheese unless otherwise noted.Salads contain meat/poultry, standard vegetables and do not include salad-dressing or croutons. Addition of other condiments and fixings will alter nutrition values.

Any restaurant that presents their nutrition data this way will look better than those that don’t. But who in the world would dream of having a sub without a schmear of mayo or some other condiment? Or a salad without any dressing? Trust me, you actually NEED a bit of oil, not just to make the salad go down easier, but to increase absorption of some of the vitamins and minerals in the veggies.

There are eight “6 grams of fat or less” sandwich options, and you can’t have a slice of cheese with them, nor condiment. Yes, they are under 300 calories (for a six inch sub), but who eats such an unflavored option (not me.)

And even if by some strech of the imagination you actually swallowed down the sub without adding cheese or a spread, the sodium levels are atrocious! Four of the eight choices mentioned above provide over 1000 milligrams of sodium. That’s almost half a day’s worth for healthy adults.

In California, the nutrition info provided by restaurants must be for all menu items AS SERVED, not a stripped down version of just the healthiest options. So how does Subway get away with it? Who knows…

In conclusion: At best, Subway is the least un-healthy option out there.  Don't let their marketing hype confuse you to into thinking that a Subway sandwich is a healthy meal choice.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Goodbye, Boring Breakfast!

There are few of us willing to wake up an extra 30-45 minutes earlier every morning to whip up a nutritious and filling breakfast. Truth be told, most of us are lucky if we can pour ourselves a hurried cup of coffee before we rush out the door to begin our day. However, skipping breakfast should never be an option because it provides the energy you’ll need for the day ahead. Breakfast cereals are a popular way to start the day, but for the most part they are not hearty enough to get you through the morning. And for those of use who are gluten-intolerant, preparing a healthy breakfast can become even more of a challenge. However, with a little planning there is no reason why breakfast can't be tasty, quick and filling. The key is planning ahead; a fail-proof approach is to prepare the night before. The last thing you need to worry about in the morning is another thing to add to your “to do list.”

One of my favorite breakfast meals is crust-less quiche. Prepare a large pan on Sunday afternoon and you’ll have breakfast covered for the next week. Trust me; you will not miss the crust! The following recipe is one of my favorite concoctions (spinach and mushroom quiche) The best part is that you can have fun with it; keep the basics (eggs, milk, salt and pepper) and then throw in left-over’s from last night’s dinner to create your own quiche—be creative and have fun!

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche
Prep Time: about 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes


• 1 T olive oil
• 1 T butter
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
• 10 eggs
• 1 ½ cups milk
• 6-8 oz feta cheese or goat cheese
• 1 lb shitake mushrooms, sliced
• ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
• 1 tsp sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large frying pan, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until tender, next add butter and mushrooms (continue to sauté until mushrooms are tender.) Remove from heat.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add the cheese, salt and the pepper, and stir to combine.

4. Add spinach, mushrooms, onions and garlic, stir to combine.

5. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 glass baking dish; bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges start to brown.

6. Serve alone, with a tossed salad, rice, or roasted red potatoes (my favorite!)

7. Yields about 8 servings (depending on how hungry you are!)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lose Weight; Eat Real Food!

For many of us, ringing in the New Year brings a renewed commitment to improve our lives with resolutions to make positive changes. Diet resolutions are among the most popular. Fitness centers fill up, and restaurants sell more salads. TV shopping channels hawk diet supplements, exercise equipment and lots of Spandex active wear. But more often than not, even the most enthusiastic plans to “finally lose weight this year” fade by the time Super Bowl snacks appear.

Instead of setting yourself up for failure with another fad diet, remember that the only way to successfully maintain weight loss is to make lasting changes. Real food is the answer; real food is what you find around the outer aisles of the supermarket. This is where you find the fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and dairy. You also find real food in the frozen food cases. The other real foods include certain breads, dried beans and grains, and canned goods. Real foods are foods that you can recognize without having to read a long list of ingredients. Broccoli is broccoli. Cheese is cheese. Milk is milk. Apples are apples. Chicken is chicken (see where I'm going with this?)

Now that you know what the real foods are, you must restrict yourself to those real foods that are not laden with too much sugar and salt. Many canned goods are high in sodium or sugar. Too much sodium, from salt or sodium chloride, is linked to hypertension. Too much sugar adds too many calories. Furthermore, too much salt and sugar causes us to crave more food and overeat. That's why you can't eat just one potato chip. That's why when you drink certain sweetened beverages, you're still thirsty.

To lose weight you must burn more calories than you eat. Professional athletes can eat several thousand calories per day and remain lean because they burn several thousand calories per day. People who sit at a desk all day don't need to eat as much as pro athletes. If you work at a desk and you eat as much as Venus or Serena Williams, then you are going to get fat. A point of clarification is in order here: Lean and thin are not the same thing. You can be thin and fat, meaning that you have no significant muscle mass or muscle tone. Serena Williams is not thin, but she is lean. She has lean muscle mass.

In addition to eating real food, you must eat sensible portions. If you eat food without a lot of sugar and salt, it is easier to eat smaller portions. You will not be as easily subject to cravings, and you will be more easily satiated because your body will get nutrients from real food. Real foods are nutrient dense and will not ignite cravings, so begin now to incorporate them in your diet.