Good news about the new Nutrition Facts label…

…added sugar is one of the stats listed now. Very cool. Looking forward to when the labels get on packages.


Sometimes you learn something unexpected.

(click photo to enlarge)

Take a close look at this picture. On the left is a margarine tub. Canola Harvest. From a Canadian company based in Alberta. On the right is a tub of whipped butter, Challenge brand, from a California dairy. Read the ingredients. Read the calorie count. Read the amount of sodium. Now, whipped butter includes a fair amount of air whipped into it to make it more spreadable and give it more volume. I grew up on margarine instead of stick butter, so something spreadable in a tub is sort of personal preference.

So yeah…science is now saying that the move away from butter to margarine was not a good idea, and that the hydrogenation process used to make liquid oils solid made something far worse than saturated fat for our cardiovascular health. The Canola/Palm oil margarine on the left does not have hydrogenated oils in it, but it has way more sodium than the butter, and more calories when you compare the volume of margarine vs. the volume of whipped butter. Yes, if you go by weight, the margarine serving is heavier than the whipped butter. But our eyes see volume instead of weight, so ultimately the amount that fills a tablespoon is the same. That tablespoon’s worth of the whipped butter looks, to our eyes, like that tablespoon of margarine.

And where the difference really becomes clear is when you look at the ingredients list on the margarine vs. the butter. Butter: cream and salt. Margarine: a long list of substances that are hard to pronounce and go halfway down the package. And then there’s also the fact that the butter came from a dairy in California, and the margarine is from thousands upon thousands of miles away. Local food is better than non-local food for the Planet.

Moderation is key in all things. You don’t want to be eating out of that tub of whipped butter with a spoon. But the occasional bit of it on a potato or on a whole wheat English Muffin is fine. And probably better for you than those mystery ingredients in that tub of margarine.

Frankenfoods, Frankensupplements, and your liver.

Green Tea Fields, Japan

I drink a fair amount of green tea nearly every day. I’ve been doing so for about a year, when I substituted homemade, unsweetened iced tea for my Pepsi MAX habit of 2-4 cans a day. I don’t do artificial sweeteners anymore, (with the occasional lapse or accidental consumption, mind you) and I keep nutritive sweeteners to a minimum. If I drink a sweetened beverage, chances are it’s sweetened with Stevia or Monkfruit extract, or a blend of both.

However, steeping tea in water is one thing, using chemicals to extract the maximum amount of catechins from green tea leaves, then concentrating that extract, is yet another. A glass of wine at dinner is pretty much a good thing, unless you are taking meds that specifically do not allow alcohol consumption. However, chugging a whole jug of red table wine is harmful, to say the least. A few cups of green tea, spread out over a morning and early afternoon, is fine. But taking large doses of diet supplements with green tea extract in it can screw up your liver even faster than alcohol abuse, apparently.

I strongly believe that the closer to nature food is, the better it is for you. You can’t always eat that way but the more fresh stuff you eat and the less processed stuff you eat, the better off you will be. Unfortunately, the Diet Industrial Complex and the Bodybuilding Industrial Complex is very successful in selling special food and special supplements to people trying to either lose weight or gain muscle. It’s a huge business, and last year I saw it in action, up close and personal.

Even if you don’t want to check out that link, I want you to take a look at this picture. Check out the hellbroth of chemicals in this supplement, and all the disclaimers. It’s scary stuff.

Holy Disclaimers, Batman!

Seriously, that’s a packet of “high performance fitness supplement” I was given at that event. Do you think anyone wades through all that verbiage before popping one or two in hopes they can get that leg up on weight loss or training? Of course not! We should not be surprised that doctors are seeing really scary side effects from these supplements and pseudo-meals. There’s also the way some people train that’s very dangerous…yes, I like Crossfit, but people take it to extremes and some people wind up coming down with Rhabdomyosis, which is a muscle wasting disease that actually can be brought about by insane overtraining.

The fact of the matter is this: health should be the goal of any fitness and/or eating regimen. If you are endangering your health in the chase after skinny or buff, you are missing the point completely.

Getting to healthy

I talk here a lot about body acceptance. This is not an accident. This is not dogma, this is a necessary starting point for a realistic fitness journey.

I’m not a religious person, but the Serenity Prayer has a message even for someone who is agnostic like me. Let me rephrase it a little.

Let me find within myself the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Mesomorph Endomorph Ectomorph

We cannot change our genes. A fair amount of what controls our metabolism and our body type is genetic. Ectomorph (skinny, non-muscular) parents tend to have Ectomorph children. Endomorph (fat) parents tend to have Endomorph kids. Mesomorph (Average build) parents…you get it. Parents whose ancestors had to deal with food insecurity a lot tend to have slow metabolisms that hang onto calories. In turn, they have kids with similarly slow metabolisms. Those whose ancestors lived in relative plenty tend to have quicker metabolisms. Why do Frenchwomen not get fat? Why do we look at Greece and Rome for our body ideals instead of Poland, Hungary, Ukraine or Russia? Again, you got it. The more science looks at the connections between heredity and weight, the more it seems that our results are at least partially written in our genes rather than completely a matter of effort. This is something the American psyche rebels against, kicks against these goads until it bleeds, but it’s truth.

However, there are things we can change. We can get more active. We can eat more real food, more plant-based food. We can stop doing things that work against our health. We can control stress. We can get enough sleep. Ultimately it’s not going to provide the kind of OMG WOW results that you see all over the place in the media, but it will at least mean you will be a stronger, healthier person who will likely live a longer life than those who tend to not pay attention to things like that.

So yeah, let me find within the serenity to accept what I cannot change; (my body type) the courage to change what I can change; (my health habits) and the wisdom to know the difference.

1200 Calories

Great stuff.


I don’t know why “1200” managed to be the magic number of calories women should consume if they want to lose weight.

I don’t even know how I know of this number. Only that I know it, and my friends know it, and my mom knows it. Somehow, somewhere along the road, I was taught that if I want to have a flat stomach and tight tushy, I need to limit my calories to 1200 a day and do cardio. I don’t know how it got in to all of our collective brains, but somehow it did (if any ladies remember how or when they first heard the 1200-calorie rule-of-thumb for losing weight, please let me know via comment box).

What I do know is that 1200 is the general number of calories health professionals say women cannot drop below without suffering negative health consequences.

Interesting, isn’t it? 1200 calories. The…

View original post 2,040 more words

The Fake Food industry and the Diet-Industrial Complex…

hand in glove.

I’m not surprised by this revelation, but I’m sure some will be. The same companies who engineer food-like substances for maximum addictiveness are the same that are also getting into the diet business and pushing it hard.

Let’s look at the rogues’ gallery:

  • Nestlé: Jenny Craig
  • Heinz: Weight Watchers
  • Unilever: SlimFast

And what else do these multinationals serve up?

  • Nestlé: Nesquik, Hot Pockets, Stouffer’s, Tombstone Pizza…
  • Heinz: Ore-Ida Potatoes, Bagel Bites, TGI Friday’s Frozen Foods…
  • Unilever: Knorr, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Ragu Spaghetti Sauce, Klondike Bar…

In short, they get you coming and going. They get you through thick and thin. Perhaps it’s time to ditch the Frankenfood for some real food for a change?

ChewBakas, an attempted Paleo remix (UPDATED)

This version is good for a lot of people who eat Paleo. Oats have been replaced with Quinoa. However, this recipe is not Vegan…there is an egg in the mix to help the Quinoa bind together. Like the oat version, this has no added sugar save for the sweetness of the applesauce, bananas, and the dried fruit.

Quinoa, however, is an ingredient that is actually controversial with people who eat Paleo. A friend of mine who does eat Paleo no longer eats Quinoa. “Yeah, it’s a seed, not a grain, however, it has been found to behave like grain in your body.”

So yeah, back to the drawing board on this. If you want to try this, go right ahead. However, I really do prefer the Oat version of the bars to the Quinoa version, and I am not interested in personally going Paleo. It engenders too much of a “dieting” mindset, and because of my family history of eating disorders I can’t allow myself to fall into that mindset.

Coconut Oil Spray
3 cups cooked Quinoa
1/2 cup nut mix (any nuts you like, just 1/2 cup of them)
1/2 cup fruit mix (any fruits you like, just 1/2 cup of them)
1/4 cup seed mix (by seeds I mean seeds like poppy, sesame, flax or hemp, just 1/4 cup total)
(optional) 1/4 cup each roasted unsweetened cocoa nibs and unsweetened coconut.
(Just the unsweetened coconut is fine too…unsweetened cocoa nibs are hard to find.)
1 egg
3 ripe bananas
1/3 + 1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.

Dry mixture: add oats, oat bran, nut mix, fruit mix, seed mix, cocoa nibs, and coconut to a large bowl.

Wet mixture: in a food processor or a blender, liquify the three bananas and the applesauce together. Add the extracts, the egg and the cinnamon. Whisk until combined.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until well-combined.

This time I made them in two 12 x 8 x 1.33 baking pans, and it yielded 24 bars. This yields a more crumbly bar. It also needs more time to set up…45 minutes to cook.

Genki Okonomiyaki…my take on the One Move Forward recipe.

OK, I did it! I finally gave the Okonomiyaki recipe a shot, and it turned out great!

Here, this is what it looks like when finished…

Okonomiyaki of DOOM

Pretty cool, no?

My recipe is based on this one, here:

However, one thing you must know about Okonomiyaki is that it really is one of those dishes that even the Japanese love to improvise with. One of the reasons the dish evolved was quite similar to the burrito and chilaquiles in Mexican food, pizza in Italian food, and a host of other dishes around the world: you can take the last bits of something you cooked last night and add it to the batter before grilling it on the griddle. As it turned out I wasn’t able to find bay shrimp or bean sprouts at my local Food 4 Less, so I used a can of clams and kanikamaboko (fake crab) instead of the bay shrimp, and more broccoli slaw and green onions instead of the bean sprouts. Okonomi quite literally translates as “whatever you like,” and yaki means “cooked on a grill” so yeah, you can put whatever you like in Okonomiyaki. I really did like what the chopped clams and the clam broth did with the recipe so that’s now a permanent part of the recipe as far as I’m concerned.

Genki (Healthy) Okonomiyaki
1 cup chopped cooked meat, whatever you want. I’ve had chicken in Okonomiyaki before at a really nice Japanese restaurant, so don’t just think seafood.
1 can chopped cooked clams, drained carefully, with the liquid going into a container. Measure out the liquid, reserve 1/2 cup.
1 bunch green onions, chopped.
2 cups bagged coleslaw mix
1 cup bagged broccoli slaw, or 2 if you can’t find fresh bagged bean sprouts in your store
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 1/4 cup “egg beaters” or equivalent. Good for cooking and baking, not so good for breakfast.
1 1/4 cup Whole grain baking and pancake mix. Trader Joe’s, as usual, is your friend here.
1/4 cup Oat Bran Meal. Also findable at Trader Joe’s.
1/2 cup reserved clam juice (from the canned chopped cooked clams)
1 tsp ponzu or 1/2 tsp low sodium soy sauce and 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Turkey bacon cut in small strips
Nonstick spray (I like Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil spray but their Olive Oil spray is good too!)
Low-sodium steak sauce, in lieu of more traditional Okonomiyaki sauce which is a salt BOMB and hard to get outside of Japanese grocery stores
Lite mayonnaise. Get Nisshin MayoDoree if you have a Japanese grocery store that carries it, but Best Foods/Hellman’s or Kraft or Trader Joe’s will do.

1.) Wash and chop the green onions. Add them into a big bowl along with the chopped meat, chopped drained clams, coleslaw mix, broccoli slaw and bean sprouts.
2.) Whisk the egg substitute, clam juice, ponzu, and Worcestershire sauce together.
3.) Mix together the baking mix and oat bran meal in a third bowl. Then make a well in the middle of it, and pour the liquid ingredients in. You want everything to combine at the consistency of crepe batter.
4.) Take the batter and mix it in with the meat and veggies.
5.) Preheat and spray nonstick spray on the griddle. Spoon out the Okonomiyaki onto the griddle, about 1/3 cup at a time, making pancakes. Cook on one side for 4 minutes, and while the first side is cooking arrange pieces of turkey bacon on the top. Flip after 4 minutes, and cook on the other side for 4 minutes or until the turkey bacon is as crispy as you like it.
6.) Drizzle on low-sodium steak sauce and lite mayo.
7.) Itadekimasu! (Be thankful for your food, and eat!)

Serves roughly four people. Cooked Okonomiyaki freezes well…just cool it in the refrigerator before freezing.
Again, I don’t have a calorie count, but all of this is pretty healthy.