Which Food?

The posts guide you with choices at the grocery store, eating out or general information about our food industry.

Winterize Your Greens

weather

I think I can safely say that summer is behind us. Fall is almost behind us. It’s time to adjust our diets to cater to the colder months. According to traditional healing systems, such as Chinese and Ayuervedic medicine, our bodies need cooling foods in the hot months and warming foods in the colder months. Realistically, we often eat the same foods year round but when you think of these cooling and warming foods, it makes a lot of sense.

Cooling foods are more of the raw fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits and leafy, crunchy vegetables. Warming foods require more cooking or preservation. Tomato sauces, lentils, winter squash, cabbage and dried fruits are all warming foods. Garlic and Ginger are both warming while curry is cooling. That seems counter-intuitive but if you ever eat a curry in mid-winter and then go outside, you will soon realize that you aren’t as warm as you were before you ate the curry.

Meat, dairy, eggs and heavier foods such as butter, cream, chocolate and whole grains such as barley lend themselves much better to the winter months but vegetables are just as important and shouldn’t be neglected. It’s just a matter of switching. For example, a staple in the summer, salad, can become cooked winter greens so there is no excuse to give-up the greens in the winter months. The nutrients they provide are all the more important to fend of the cold and flu bugs.

Although, lettuce doesn’t lend itself well to being cooked, kale, swiss chard and bok choy does. Very well. Steamed kale with a drizzle of tamari and olive oil is delicious. Sauteed bok choy is super simple and probably easier – and quicker – to put together than a salad in the summer.

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Warmed greens in minutes. Bok choy is sauteed in butter and drizzled with tamari and olive oil.

 

 

 

 

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My Neglected Blog

I’m a touch horrified to discover it’s been over 2 months since I last posted here. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking of it or even that I haven’t been composing posts in my head, it’s just …. simply …. been ….. nuts. The summer flew by and was filled with much socializing but also by the fact that both of my children were home with me. All Day. Every Day. All Summer.

It was a time to focus on them and that I did. I also enjoyed myself immensely knowing that there were 2 ways of going into this; either with extreme trepidation that I would end up certifiably insane after spending that much time with them, or; with the attitude of not being able to beat them, therefore I might as well join them. (That might have been a poor choice of phrase!).

So, with mindfulness, I discovered a whole new side of me. A side that could let the small things slide and I could get out and enjoy the moment. I’m actually proud of how long I was able to let the cleaning go in my house because that is something that I don’t let go off easily. The winter was long and the summer felt short so I was going to make the most of it.

Ironically, after all that focus, the time now I am enjoying just as much. These strong fall days are spectacular. The already stunning colours, the blue September sky and the warm weather (but cool nights) are just about perfect. I wish it could last forever.

Now I’m done blaming the weather for my neglect, let’s get back to business. The most exciting piece of news I read while I was galavanting around was some damaging news on artificial sweeteners. Everyone loves bad news for their enemy and artificial sweeteners are my #1 sworn enemy. Now there is scientific proof that artificial sweeteners are doing exactly the opposite of what they are supposed to.

A study has found that the replacement for sugar, artificial sweeteners, might be making a problem that they were designed to prevent, actually worse. The results found that volunteers (and mice) had increased blood sugar levels which is a marker for a higher risk of diabetes. The effect seems to be concentrated in the gut bacteria. Like sugar, artificial sweeteners appear to increase the “bad” bacteria in the gut which kills off the good bacteria and compromises the immune system.

Artificial sweeteners have been a source of controversy for many years. I have written about them a few times mainly in respect to weight. This link to the post Deceptive Labeling: Which Sugar? includes a list of which brands falls under the “artificial sweetener” umbrella. I would love to see this “food” banned altogether, this is a small step in the right direction.

In the end, it all goes back to the same thing. Let’s ditch the magical replacements for those deemed foods”unhealthy”, such as butter and sugar and instead focus on creating ourselves a diet that includes all the whole foods we’ve been eating for centuries but in realistic proportions. A diet that doesn’t have room for chemicals.

And while we clear out all those chemicals and get back to nature, make sure you get out in the next few days to enjoy the stunning weather.

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Happy Canada Day!!

There is usually a touch of beer or wine – or more – consumed on our national day. If you are having a party, tempt your guests to drink water at the same time by adding some of the local, seasonal and extremely delicious strawberries in a jug of water. Together with some lemon and lime, it’ll will keep everybody hydrated on this hot, humid day and they won’t feel deprived either.

IMG_20140701_0744231 jug water (approx 8 cups)
1/2 lemon, quartered
1/2 lime, quartered
1/4 cup fresh strawberries
5 mint leaves
A few ice cubes

Wishing everybody a very Happy Canada Day!

 

 

Dodgy Fruits and Veg

15 Dozen

Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a list of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables as well as a list of the cleanest produce. This list can help us budget by selecting organic versions of the produce that are heavily sprayed and allows us to get away with conventional produce that isn’t so contaminated.

Anybody who has their own fruit trees will know that it’s hard to have a good yield without the use of pesticides. These fruits are the common ones, especially apples and pears. Potatoes are also hard since they vulnerable to bugs and easily damaged.

So it’s no surprise that some of the most common fruits and vegetables hit the Dirty Dozen list year after year. Much hasn’t really changed from last year with the following listed as the highest contaminants (in no particular order):

1. Apples
2. Peaches
3. Imported Nectarines
4. Strawberries
5. Grapes
6. Cherry Tomatoes (new, they were listed as a “runner up” last year)
7. Imported Snap Peas (new)
8. Potatoes
9. Celery
10. Bell Peppers
11. Cucumbers
12. Spinach

So what’s the issue with the pesticides used? First of all, the contaminants have been so successful in producing larger crops that their use increases year after year. For us, they have been shown to produce behavioural and developmental problems in our children whose immature bodies are unable to process the chemicals. Before you dismiss this, consider the recent statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 1 in 5 schoolchildren in the US are on some form of psychological medication. ONE.IN.FIVE. Yikes.

Furthermore, they are endocrine disruptors. In plain English, they mess with our hormones creating a whole host of problems including infertility. Finally, they are .. surprise, surprise …. carcinogenic. In my last post, I was asking you to eat more greens to prevent against cancer. And yet, many conventional greens are sprayed with chemicals that counter this benefit. So when you do choose your greens, select organic versions of spinach, kale and collard (the latter two were runners up on the Dirty Dozen list).

This is just us. The damage they are doing to the environment is a whole other story, one that is changing the entire eco-system, killing off entire species of wild and marine life, reducing the quality of the soil and contaminating our drinking water.

If your budget doesn’t stretch to 100% organic, you can save some money by choosing conventional versions of the following produce, aptly named “The Clean 15”:

1. Asparagus
2. Avocado
3. Cabbage
4. Cantaloupe
5. Cauliflower
6. Eggplant
7. Grapefruit
8. Kiwi
9. Mango
10. Onions
11. Papayas*
12. Pineapple
13. Sweet Corn*
14. Sweet Pea
15. Sweet Potatoes

* Although these are listed as low in pesticide residue, papaya and sweet corn have other problems. They are both GMO foods and should be only consumed as organic versions.

The EWG has compiled this information into a PDF that you can print and carry with you to the grocery store. Click here to download the EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide.

A can of beans

Lentils cook within half hour without requiring any pre-soaking. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a can of lentils, you can literally throw them in water, let them cook and then store them until you need them. Easy.

Beans, particularly chickpeas, are not so easy.  They do require pre-soaking and much longer cooking times. Although, it’s not laborious, it is time consuming and requires pre-planning. So cans do come in handy for beans.

Beans are a wonderful healthy source of fibre and protein that stabilizes blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling full for a long time. But any time we cut corners, there a concern that we take in unwanted chemicals. Canned beans definitely fall into this category. Many labels now scream “no salt or low sodium” which a good step in lowering the amount of salt the canned beans contain. But most brands also contain an ingredient that is detrimental to our health and the environment. Disodium EDTA is often listed and should be avoided.

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Most brands have disodium EDTA listed in the ingredients.

EDTA was approved by the FDA as a pharmaceutical aid in chelation therapy (the removal of heavy metals in the body). It’s widely used now in all kinds of industries. In the food industry it is used as a preservative and prevents discolouration.

Is it enough to make you run for the dried beans? Well, yes, ideally but realistically, I don’t want to discourage eating this great food. Thankfully, not all brands contain this ingredient and it might surprise you which one do and which ones don’t.

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The good guys

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A safe choice

So, don’t stop what you are doing and change your food choices, just remember to check the can and avoid those that list disodium EDTA as an ingredient.

Wild Fish

I know I’ve been MIA. My intention was to spend some time cleaning up this blog and making it easier to search subjects. Instead, I’ve been researching essential oils as I want to include them in my daily life more. More on that when I have something put together.

In the meantime, I continue to keep my eyes open for new information and I was drawn to this website this morning with information on which wild fish to purchase.

It’s a thorough, easy to use, information source on wild fish. This info has generally been around for ages but the use of smartphones have made it easier to look up the relevant information right in the store. It’s very nice have these sites available to us but not much good when we are standing at the fish counter at Loblaws. Now you can browse the fish, step away – look it up and then make your choice.

http://blueocean.org/seafoods/

2013 Worst Food of the Year

If you google Worst Food of 2013, you get an impressive variety of horrors straight from our southern neighbours. It’s hard to compete but we have a few of our own horrors. Here are my top 3:

1. The Cronut Burger

The most memorable horror food of the year was given to us by the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition for those who don’t live in the centre of the universe, sorry GTA).

I blogged about it on August 21. (https://onedayforchange.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/cronut-burger/)

If it wasn’t scary enough, it had some health issues, made a bunch of people sick and resulted in it’s booth being shut down. The only thing that saves this product completely taking over this post was that it was only ever going to be available for 2 weeks of the year even if it hadn’t made anybody sick.

2. Tim Horton’s Breakfast Sandwich
Some fast food items are obvious that they are a nutritional nightmare. Tim Horton’s isn’t always like that. But their Breakfast sandwich (admittedly introduced before 2013) is as bad, if not worse than some other choices. With the homestyle biscuit choice with sausage, this breakfast contains 31g of fat, 16g of which are saturated fat (20g is the daily limit). On top of that, it comes with a half day’s worth of sodium and very little beneficial nutrients.
We are a society of grab the breakfast on the run. Be careful of the choices, even the yogurts can be loaded with too much sugar. Instead take the time to eat (or at least prepare) a breakfast at home.

Lunchables-Downoads-Ingredient-List

3. Lunchables Uploaded
My favourite google find for the year. The ingredient list is quite unbelievable. Oscar Meyer’s Lunchables were a heavy feature in one of the books I read over the course of the year; Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss. Launched 30 years ago when mothers still trusted the Food Industry, they were a nutritional nightmare masqueraded as a healthy convenient option. Their reputation hasn’t changed much, although I think most people have now clued in, they are still a popular choice due to their convenience and kid appeal. (Personally I’d rather my kid refused lunch than ate that).

Lunchables Uploaded is a white tortilla wrap with chicken, processed cheese and salsa. It comes with Kool-Aid, Cheez-It crackers, Oreo cookies and – oh it’s all ok – some spring water. This is the ingredient list. I know you can’t read it but trust me, it’s as scary as it is long.

And honorable mention goes to the “Christmas Tinner”, a canned version of Christmas dinner introduced by a Gaming company in the UK. I hope it was a joke.

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