Sunday, July 31, 2011

Where is the real food?

“You look at the labels and you see farmer this, farmer that. It’s really just
three or four companies that are controlling the meat. We’ve never had
food companies this big and this powerful in our history.”
– Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation.”
As we enter August, I've come to realize how much I have not missed eating meat throughout the first seven months of 2011.  As many of you know, I started a journey this year with my husband (at his urging and suggestion) to adopt a pescetarian diet.  This diet is an octo-lavo vegetarian diet with the addition of fish, crustaceans and shell fish - in other words - I don't eat things with legs or wings (but technically crustaceans have legs).  My husband, Dan, made it through January and decided that this form of eating was not for him.  He has since gone back to a full carnivore diet while I've continued on the pescetarian path.

Then April came around and I decided that since I was being conscious about what I was putting into my body already, I might as well take it step further and work on getting healthy overall.  I've since been following a generally strict caloric in-take, while sticking with pescetarianism, as well as targeting at least three work-outs per week.  It's been a struggle and I'm not perfect but I've lost over 20 lbs, down three pants sizes, feel amazing and actually have registered for a half-marathon coming up in November.  I've got a long way to go to be as healthy as I would like, but this year has really been life-changing thus far.

So why am I providing you with the most recent updates on my journey?  Well, as I have changed my life, I've also tried to take the time and educate myself about food and fitness.  From books to magazines to blogs to social networking... I'm utilizing several resources to gain knowledge and learn about what I'm putting in my body.  During a conversation last week with a friend (who has recently adopted a vegan diet in order to naturally combat Type 2 diabetes) the documentary film, Food, Inc. came up.  While I had heard of this film previously, I had never actually seen it.  My friend had mentioned the a few topics that were covered in the film and I decided that I must see it.  That same night (Wednesday of last week), I watched the film (thank you Netflix Instant Queue!).

"Food, Inc. exposes America's industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers' rights."  It is truly and eye opener.  Now, I wouldn't say that I had previously been ignorant to some of the things that happen in the American Food Industry, but I was for sure not versed in it (nor would I say now that I am fully versed either).  This documentary provides insight into chicken and beef farming, the over- and misuse of corn, industry and government cooperative corruption, waste and pollution, human rights and several other topics.

After seeing chickens that are so pumped with hormones that their legs can not develop fast enough to carry their over-sized bodies; war-ready soybeans; cows that are forced to stand knee-high and deeper in their own waste; vegetables grown in manure that is full of bacteria and chemicals, and so many other horrible sights, the main thing that I took away from this film is that I did not want to go back to eating animals.... ever... and while I can't make that promise, I can guarantee that if I do, it will be different.

As much as an animal lover as I am, the treatment of the animals (also very tough to see) was not what hit me the hardest.  The major cord of mine that was struck is that the animals that we are eating are not real animals.  They are pumped up and full of junk and genetically modified and just not real.  It's amazing science that we can make chickens with double the breast size in half the time or cows that constantly lactate, but we are doing that with hormones that are then being passed into the food we consume and then into our bodies.  Sounds yummy, doesn't it?  This film changed me and I just don't want to do it any more.  I want real food.  This goes for pretty much all food.  Produce, meats, dairy, eggs, fruits.. all of it.. I want real, natural food.  No chemicals, no hormones, no genetically modified (aka mutilated!!) organisms (GMO).  None.

So that is what I'm going to do.. continue to change and grow and learn and improve me.  I want to find local and real food sources and eat real food.  Is it going to be easy? No way.  Will I fail along the way?  Hell yes.  Will it be worth it?  I sure as shit think so.  And of course I will be keeping you updated.  I haven't set any deadlines or end-all goals, but this will be an on going project.  The next step in a life transformation.  Oh and Dan too.  I'm just as concerned about what is going into his body as mine.

If you get a chance, check out Food, Inc.  There are several different topics covered so I think each of us would take away something different, or maybe even nothing at all, and I would love to hear your views and opinions as well. 

(More information available at Hungry for Change and  TakePart

It is almost time!

You've still got plenty of time to plan a meatless meal for Meatless Monday! Check out the below for some ideas or try on of the handful of recipes that I've posted here.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lunch Gear Give-Away

The folks over at Vegetarian Times are offering a drawing for some pretty nifty pack-your-own-lunch items.
Prize package includes:
1. Built NY’s Spicy Relish lunch tote ($30)
2. Kids Konserve Food Kozy sandwich sleeves ($23/set of 5)
3. Black + Blum Lunch Pot. ($22)
4. LunchBots Duo ($17.99)
5. To-Go Ware bamboo utensil set ($12.95).
Total prize value: $105.94.

The entry form is available here.
Swing over to their site for your chance to win!

ps.  I'm just sharing this because I love free stuff!  I have no affiliation to Vegetarian Times at all... just wanted to throw that out there!  Good luck!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Follow me...

...if you want.
I've been posting some quick articles and info over at my Google+ feed and decided that I should invite my readers (I think I have readers) to follow me.  Blog feed is published there but I've also been using this as a quick way to share info that I find around the web that may not be something I post about here.  As mentioned, things like articles, blog posts, random thoughts and other stuff.

So feel free to add me and +1 your little hearts out!  Profile link is here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Vegan Peanut Butter Pie

Looking for a quick, light, tasty, peanutbuttery vegan pie fix?!?!

There isn't much else to say besides: MAKE THIS!  You won't regret it.
Recipe is HERE from Andy Bellatti's Small Bites.

I used Koeze's Cream-Nut All Natural Peanut Butter from our local Fresh Market (made in Grand Rapids, MI... represent! (ps. I'm originally from Michigan)).  Also, I went with a chocolate crust because, let's face it.. what is better than chocolate and peanut butter?

Instructions: add ingredients to food processor, blend, pour in pie crust, chill, enjoy!

This is so quick and easy to make and my photos DO NOT give this justice at all.
I even whipped it up with a blender (because I don't have a food processor).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Caramel Apple Frosty™ Parfait

We have a Wendy's restaurant within walking distance from our house.  It's tempting but I've been pretty good about not visiting over the last several months.  In my previous life (ha!), we would be there almost once a week, sometimes more often.  Dan still stops here on a sort of regular basis, about once a week, and today was one of those days.  He swung by the drive through on his way home from work this afternoon.  I withheld from partaking but will admit that I stole a few fries.

His bounty from Wendy's included  a spicy chicken sandwich, large french fry, large original Frosty, large chili, and a new Caramel Apple Frosty Parfait.  When he first arrived through the door, he mentioned this parfait as just "caramel apple parfait" and I assumed that it was yogurt (similar to what McDonald's offers).  Dan offered it to me and I passed (he also offered me the chili and I think he keeps forgetting that I'm still refraining from consuming beef).  I then put together my own fruit and yogurt snack for lunch.

Mixed Berry Yogurt with Honey

Mixed Berry Yogurt with Honey

  • 1 cup fat-free, reduced sugar vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup blackberries
  • 1 tsp honey

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well.  Feel free to adjust berry measurements to your liking.  (I just added the berries that I had on hand but this is also wonderful with other fruits as well.  I also enjoy strawberries in mine!).  Total calories on this are about 220-250 with no fat, but could vary depending on the type of yogurt and fruits you use.  You can also skip the honey to save about 50 calories.

As I enjoyed my homemade lunch/snack, I did some research on what my husband was ingesting just at the other end of the couch.  He wouldn't let me tell him the total calorie count.  It is astonishing and I'll just leave it at: It was over 10 times the amount of calories in my berry yogurt lunch

Here's the kicker for me... The Caramel Apple Frosty Parfait.

I didn't realize it was a 'Frosty' parfait until I got to the company's nutritional information and was unable to find it under the categories I had assumed it would be located (sides or value menu).  So I checked the Frosty category and low and behold... it's a frosty with apples, granola and caramel sauce.   Of course, my first thought was that Wendy's appears to be trying to make their sugary milk-shake type treat into something more 'healthy'.  Blasphemy.  I browsed around the web to see if there was any info about this product yet.  I didn't find too much except a couple reviews about the taste (of this as well as the other flavors available.. Berry and Oreo).  Then I went back to the Wendy's website and found their own description of the product:  "It’s our creamy, classic Frosty swirled with brown sugar granola, fresh red and green apple slices, and real caramel. It’s a tasty, feel-good treat."  And there it was... the two words that I was looking to find.  I couldn't imagine that a fast-food chain could add fruit to something full of sugar and chemicals without trying to make it sound like something that is good for you.  It's BS, honestly.  BS.  Wendy's must think we are idiots and sadly, maybe they are right.

I did try a bite of this product.  The granola was tasty and the apples crisp.  The frosty (vanilla flavored) was soupy and messy and for this being Ghirardelli Caramel, I wasn't impressed.  These pack 400 calories, 9 grams of fat and a whopping 57 grams of sugar.  Interestingly, the Oreo option has the same amount of calories with one less gram of sugar and one more gram of fat.  Amazing!  If you HAVE to get one of these, I would opt for the Berry option (320 calories, 48 sugars and 7 fat), but really it would be best if you skipped this all together.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Article: Benifits of Vegetarianism

Just a quick post to share the following article from Everyday Health.

A Vegetarian Diet for Heart Health

Some quick highlights:
"Vegetarian diets boast a number of health benefits, including decreasing your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which can put you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke"

There are also some great tips on including more veggies in your diet:

  • Fill half your plate with vegetables at each meal.
  • Try to get about nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Substitute nutrient-rich vegetables like leafy greens for nutrient-poor vegetables like potatoes.
And some great suggestions on meatless alternatives to breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks!

  • Breakfast: Instead of bacon and eggs, try a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal topped with fresh fruit, or a whole grain English muffin spread with peanut butter.
  • Lunch: Instead of a sandwich made with lunch meat, try a hearty vegetable soup and a whole-wheat burrito filled with beans.
  • Dinner: Instead of spaghetti and meatballs, try bowtie pasta with roasted garlic and eggplant.
  • Snacks and desserts: Get more nutrition into your day with a strawberry smoothie for a midday pick-me-up, or a watermelon blueberry banana split for dessert. 
Start by trying a meatless day one day a week.  See how you feel.  Probably won't be today since I'm sure many will be out BBQ meats and having a great 4th of July.  Lets shoot for next Monday for your first Meatless Monday!  Happy Independence Day America!  Enjoy!!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Declare your Independence from Snack Food

I love snacks... love love love snacks.  Candy, cookies, chips, popcorn, ice cream... all of it.  I've been struggling to keep my snacking on the healthy side and I came across a great article this week from Lisa Cain, PhD aka Snack Girl.  Her article, titled: Evidence That Junk Food Snacking Will Shorten Your Life, covered a study done by the University of North Carolina on various rats and the effects of snacking.  (Let me say that I am not a fan of animal testing, but when they just get to each junk food all day, that sounds like animal heaven.  But seriously, please don't holler at me for the rats.. not my study.. just sharing the now that that is over, lets move on.)  The study showed that when allowed, the rats would overeat not only their snack food but their regular meals as well.  Additionally, it appears that when they started snacking, they couldn't stop.  I'll leave you to review the post yourself but will highlight the following:
"Snacks are not the enemy. They are very convenient and portable- the danger is consuming too many of the bad ones. Many packaged snacks are high in salt, fat and trans-fat, and low in fiber."
In a similar article (Kids Snacking Too Much), also regarding a study done at the University of North Carolina, we learn that over a 30 year period, children are more and more likely to be snack addicts.  The caloric intake of snacks in children's diets increased by 168 calories from 1977 to 2006 and that now 27% of children's calories come from snacks.  Barry M. Popkin, PhD said the following:
"Such findings raise concerns that more children in the United States are moving toward a dysfunctional eating pattern, one that can lead to unhealthy weight gain and obesity."
Then I come across an article, in an actual print version of Men's Health that we have at our home, that talks about "6 formerly forbidden snacks that are actually good for you".  Jackpot, right?  Wrong.  This article proceeds to tell you that beef jerky and sour cream are good for you.  WHAT?!?!?!  I understand you can argue why these items might be better than others, which Men's Health does, but the claim that these are good for you I think is a little far fetched.  They also seem to be exploiting the smallest of good from things like chocolate and wine, and not balancing out the information with that downfalls of overindulgence in these items.  I've also been enlightened recently by Andy Bellatti (whose blog is amazing!) on some of the other falsehoods that Men's Health preaches about food and I'm happy to say that that magazine will no longer be coming into our house.

So what do I snack on now, you ask?  Carrots, cucumbers, hummus, string cheese, yogurt, berries, Buddy Fruit, individual serving bags of popcorn, and a whole bunch of other goods stuff.  I try to keep  my snacks to two a day, and aim to keep them at about 50 calories each, but they vary and usually never more than 100.  And no, that doesn't mean those 100 calorie snack packs of cookies and junk.  If you need snack packs, try to make your own. 

I've also recently found an app for that.. Crazy, huh? Everyday Health's Snack App gives you several categories of snacks to chose from and lists the calorie counts for each.  It also includes suggested exercises to help you burn off your snacks too!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...