This is rule No.20 from Michael Pollen’s book “Food Rules”

 

not food

I’m always glad when someone comes right out and says it like it is, especially in regards to the business of food production. It’s scary what all ends up in those takeout meals and in much of the packaged food available to us. I’ve said plenty on the subject too, but this time since someone else has already said it in the best possible way, I’ll just share this quote–it says it all.

Here’s to eating real food!

Stay tuned for my next post “Get Cooking”

 

 

Why I recheck labels

Almonds Label

Of course it’s always important to check your labels. It’s best to find out what’s really inside your packaged food and then ask yourself “Do I really want those ingredients in my body?” Take a look at the above label, for example: The front of the package says Smoked Almonds, but the list of ingredients on the back has much more to reveal. Not just almonds, but canola and safflower oil, processed corn and soy, and loads of salt—not a package of almonds that I’d personally choose.

But it’s also important to recheck labels from time to time to ensure things haven’t changed—for the worse that is. Sometimes new, poorer quality or less desirable ingredients get added in place of a preferred ingredient. Ingredients like wheat, diary, corn, and soy (all going by various different names), or any of the vegetable oils, or all sorts of other preservatives or additives may suddenly show up in a food where they hadn’t previously been.

For instance, a certain cracker line that I’d come to enjoy, had all of a sudden changed from using 100% spelt, to also adding regular whole wheat (in addition to the spelt), into one of its products. It also now had soy oil in it. I had planned to include it on the list of recommended items for those “too busy to cook days” in my healthy weight-loss book, but I discovered this ingredient switch in the nick of time. I removed the cracker from the list and searched the natural food stores for a suitable replacement. (The majority of the products on the list were to be free of conventional wheat.)

I’ve since found yet another wholesome cracker product which I’ll happily recommend: Doctor Kracker’s Seedlander Snackers or Seeded Spelt Crispbread. All goodness—no worrisome ingredients.

.spelt crispbreat

Some body and beauty products will also have ingredient changes after a while on the market. Almost every time I discover a new hand or body lotion with an impressive ingredient list, it turns to disappointment before long—and I’m talking about products found in natural foods stores. Believe it or not, finding personal care products that aren’t going to do you more harm than good is not as easy as one might hope.

What often happens is that the good quality ingredients which were previously listed at the beginning of the ingredient list (the list runs from highest to lowest in terms of quantity), eventually get moved further down the list. While the poorer quality items—or at least the ones you’d prefer to do without—will have moved closer to the top of the listed ingredients.

When these things happen with food or with anything else that will be absorbed into my skin or bloodstream, I choose to find another product instead, preferably in a reasonable price range.

The main reason that companies tend to change some of their ingredients for those of cheaper, poorer quality, is generally about profit. Sometimes this change occurs when a smaller scale company producing good quality products is sold to a large company with a different agenda. I’ve not found any products that have suddenly sneakily started using superior ingredients. When a company improves a product, they usually widely advertise that they’ve done so. They may decide to quietly discontinue use of an increasingly unpopular ingredient that’s begun getting bad press, while being sure to boldly announce the addition of a new healthy ingredient that’s gaining consumer popularity and good press. Often companies leave the poor quality ingredients in, but try to win consumers over by adding and drawing attention to a hot topic item like ‘quinoa’ or whatever the current craze ingredient may be. That’s why it’s so important to become an informed label reader.

Whatever you’re purchasing, it’s good to also be aware that although a product costs more, it doesn’t always mean the ingredients are necessarily superior. Bear in mind though, if you want a good quality product, it’s not likely to be the least expensive.

While it is common for certain companies to choose profit over health, fortunately many other companies are consistently, unwaveringly dedicated to quality first.

A few food companies whose products I recommend are:

Eden Foods
Pacific Foods
Amy’s Kitchen
Nature’s Path
Food for Life

Recommeded personal care products (skin care, body care, hair care):

Andalou
Dessert Essence

Note: The products listed above are widely available, but there are also many other quality packaged foods and products, that are produced by local and smaller scale companies in your area, available in your local natural-food stores or farmer’s markets.

Vegetable Inspiration

vegetable inspiration

Do you ever fear you’re too often falling short in eating enough daily servings of vegetables (and fruit)? Who doesn’t? That’s why every once in a while it’s good to be reminded of why it’s important to ensure you’re getting your daily dose.

Even though I really do like all vegetables, the problem for me (and many others) often lies in putting the time and effort into utilizing a wider range and actually preparing and eating them regularly. I so often find myself resorting to the same-old-same-old… A salad of mixed greens (with tomatoes, avocado and coloured peppers) and then the handful of every-day basics: onions, carrots, broccoli, celery, garlic. Fruits are never a problem, on account of how delicious and easy to grab-and-go they are—little to no preparation necessary. Vegetables (most of them) are the challenge, but they are so worth it to consume.

I too, needed to be reminded of why I should eat more veggies. My reminder came in the form of a Ted talk. A medical doctor with multiple sclerosis explains how she improved her health condition considerably through diet. She discusses at length, the large amounts and different types of raw vegetables that she would regularly eat.That was all I needed to hear to become quite excited about vegetables again. I envisioned the raw veggie salad I’d create that same day for dinner and made a mental list of the vegetables I’d use.

Oh those amazing vegetables! Every part of our body needs the goodness that veggies offer; from the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes, to their high alkaline content, and all sorts of other good health and healing agents that vegetables contain. They are extraordinarily beneficial to us, especially when we eat enough of them, and regularly.

Yes, it’s a little more time-consuming, but preparing and eating real food is and has always been the natural and necessary thing to do. Think of vegetables (and fruits and herbs) as nature’s pharmacy. If you currently need to get chemical prescriptions filled, you may want to try reducing or eliminating your dosage by increasing your intake of fresh vegetables, fruit and herbal medications instead. There are many verified accounts (some of which I’ll share in another post) of people healing themselves from a range of health problems, strictly through diet.

It’s advisable to get your vegetables as locally as possible. It’s unnecessary to have every conceivable fruit and vegetable from all corners of the earth be made available to us. A wide local(ish) range will do nicely. During the winter months, I do often extend the local reach to include more of the continent. Luckily the continent I’m living on is North America, and areas of year-round growing for many different vegetables, but also for things like oranges, avocados and lemons, aren’t really that far away.

I made the envisioned raw salad later that day and fed it to my two teenagers and some of their friends. Everyone really liked it. The salad:

• chopped red cabbage and kale
• diced fennel and cucumber
• grated celeriac, carrots, and beets
• cilantro

The dressing:

• raw apple cider vinegar
• Dijon mustard
• a drizzle of sesame oil

I’ve since added chopped jicama and avocado, dried cranberries or raisins, and hempseeds or sunflower seeds to the blend, but really, the possibilities are endless. My plan is to keep switching things up and make a big bowl of raw veggie salad every second day.

Exceptions to the raw salad rule:

Not all raw vegetables (i.e. cabbage, kale, and broccoli) agree with everyone’s digestive systems. They can cause intestinal discomfort and be particularly gas-producing. For some people, these and some other vegetables are often best cooked.

Cabbage, kale, and other vegetables in the brassica/cruciferous family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, collards, and Brussels sprouts contain goitrogens. Goitrogens are naturally occurring compounds that can suppress thyroid function and are best avoided when raw by those with hypothyroidism. Cooking the “goitrogenic vegetables” reduces the goitrogen content considerably. (I personally prefer to eat the brassica family of vegetables steamed or cooked (i.e. soups, stir-fry, etc.) most of the time.

Want to see the TED talk?

Click the link below to hear about this medical doctor’s (Dr. Terry Wahl) phenomenal healing journey and to learn how and why vegetables are able to heal us as they do.

Something to keep in mind:

This is one person’s story – and a great one at that – but different things work for different people. Personally, I won’t be eating quite as many vegetables as Dr. Terry Wahl did/does each day. However, if I were to be diagnosed with a moderate to serious illness or disease, after consulting with a physician, I would likely follow a very similar food regimen. This TED talk provides a lot of excellent and important information, but the amounts and types of foods mentioned are not always possible or perhaps necessary for everyone to consume in the same way.

 

Oats—To Eat or Not to Eat

Image

A friend called me the other day, concerned over what to do about her breakfasts. She sometimes eats oats (steel-cut), but she’d just watched a talk show on television, where a guest had said that we shouldn’t eat oatmeal for breakfast because it turns to sugar.

Oh for heaven’s sake! I suppose I understand the rationale that brought on this new line of thinking that’s attempting to sweep the nation; but really, what’s the world coming to? On top of everything else we have to deal with—the steady bombardment of do’s and don’ts that are confusing people enough already—someone’s now bad-mouthing oats. I could feel my bronchioles constricting a little as I asked my friend for more details.

She told me all she could remember, still baffled over what to do with the news that had come along and hit her out of left field. I suggested that she quickly return to her senses and advised her not to listen to anyone who tells her not to eat perfectly good, real, whole food. Basically, if people were eating it one hundred years ago (and it hasn’t been terribly altered or tampered with since then), and it makes you feel good, then eat it. Besides, oats are nutritious, energy giving, bowel moving, cholesterol lowering, natural and economical, and we certainly need as many of these benefits as we can get.

We’ve got grocery stores loaded with products high in actual sugar and refined wheat (white flour rapidly turns to sugar) that we ought to be very concerned about and trying to avoid. I don’t think anyone should be picking on the innocent oat—dragging it into the sugar discussion. Same goes for any grains for that matter—rye, spelt, kamut, barley, brown rice – because they’re all generally friendly to most people. Oats didn’t do anything wrong and surely don’t deserve this bad press! Good grief! Okay, now I’m going to breathe…

Just make sure to stick to the large rolled oats or steel cut oats. The quick or “instant” oats do turn to sugar quicker. The large whole grain oats break down more slowly, releasing sugar/energy into your blood stream more gradually (as mentioned in chapter 2 of my book “Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips”).

A few exceptions to eating oats :

– Although oats do not contain gluten, there are often traces of gluten found in most commercially sold packaged oats because most facilities processing oats also process gluten containing grain, like wheat. This is why most oats may need to be avoided by those with celiac disease. Luckily “certified gluten-free oats” are also available to consumers.

– Oats are a perfectly good food to eat, but like all foods and all people, they don’t always get along. Occasionally a person may feel that oats, or other grains, simply don’t agree with them. Some people have trouble with grains in general.

For more on the many important health benefits of oats, see the following article from a website devoted to oats… http://www.eatmoreoats.com/health.html