Archive for March, 2011

Corn and Soy Follow-up

As promised on Tuesday, here’s a little follow-up about corn and soy and the food you’re eating.

If most of what you eat comes directly from a plant, today’s post isn’t so much about what you’re eating. If most of what you eat comes from a package, this one’s for you.

You might have watched the video on Tuesday and thought that it didn’t really matter because you don’t really eat corn or soy products. But a scan of the ingredients in the food you’re eating will show otherwise.

(I read somewhere a while back that over 3/4 of what the average American eats is corn. Can’t find that stat now…)

Go get a couple of packages of anything out of your pantry and look at the label.

Obviously, any ingredient with “corn” in its name is made from corn. Corn syrup (whether high fructose or not) and corn starch are both extremely common. There are many other ingredients that can be derived from corn, though they also could be derived from other sources. A very comprehensive list can be found here.

Found any corn in your food so far?

Now scan those same labels for soy. Again, anything with “soy” in the name is a culprit, including soy protein, soy lecithin, and soybean oil.

That is why these two crops are such a big deal. Additionally, livestock are fed both of these in large quantities, so if you are a meat-eater, you are eating these GM foods second-hand.

Was there more corn or soy in your pantry than you expected?

How can you get away from it? Eating foods that come from plants instead of foods that come from packages is the simplest way to do it. Eating organic also does the trick.

For packaged foods: those containing soy are typically labeled, since it is a common allergen — look just under the ingredients. Know what you’re looking for and read labels.

This makes me think … a post about reading labels is in order. Look for one next week!

Is a gym worth it?

For awhile, I have been contemplating joining a gym. I have two specifically in mind, but I feel pretty indecisive about it. Both gyms have good setups, comparable costs, classes I want to take, and friends to work out with.

My biggest problem is, how do I know that I am going to go? I make a schedule to run/work out each week, but there is never a guarantee that I am going to do it.

My motivation for exercising has not completely dissapated, but it is waning…a lot and I get so frustrated. I figured a gym would help pump me up, get the juices flowing again. So the question I pose to all of you is four fold…

1. Where do you go?

2. Do you love/like/meh/hate it?

3. Suggestions for making sure I join and then go.

4. Who wants to yogapilaatesspinzumbastepellipticalfreeweight with me? I like buddy workouts.

How the Food Industry is Making Us Sick

This wasn’t today’s planned post, but after watching this video yesterday, I couldn’t delay sharing it with you. (Thanks to DIY Natural for sharing it yesterday!)

I knew already that profitability — not consumer safety — drives the food industry, and that the regulatory organizations are worthless at best.

I also knew that many foods considered safe in the US are not considered safe anywhere else in the world.  I didn’t know that major companies in the US create their same foods without any of the GM ingredients so they can be exported but do not make those foods available in the US.

I knew already that most soy in the US is genetically modified, but I didn’t know it is modified to make it resistant to weed killers. This also means that it is exposed to and absorbs more of said weed killers.

I didn’t know that GM corn was modified to release its own insecticide.

This video is about 18 minutes long and is well worth all 18 minutes. It has strengthened my resolve not to eat foods made with corn or soy ingredients unless they’re organic. I will post on Thursday about these two ingredients and how you’re eating a ton of both even if you don’t actually eat corn or soy.

Between yesterday’s information on meat glue and today’s on all of this … is anyone else furious about the way food is handled (on the grand scale) in the US?

Meat Glue

Until last week, I had never heard of meat glue. In fact, if I hadn’t been in the same room as The Big Man when he was watching this video, I still probably wouldn’t know about it. (I have no idea where he got it from.)

This is the gist:

Transglutaminase (an enzyme) is used to take scraps of meat, “glue” them together, and sell the new whole as prime cuts. Once cooked, they are indistinguishable from real whole pieces, even to people with better eyes for meat than the average person. Sometimes, they are indistinguishable raw as well.

According to the video, transglutaminase can be produced from bacteria or from blood plasma of pigs and cows — the part that causes blood clotting (or coagulation).

This binding process can be used on beef, pork, lamb, chicken and fish.

So what’s the problem? If it reduces waste, it’s a good thing, right?

First, let me knock off the little problem of ethics. It’s not right to put meat scraps together and sell them to someone as a prime cut of meat. It’s not a prime cut of meat — it’s scraps glued together.

Next, you need to wear protective clothing (gloves and a mask) when handling the enzyme. That in itself doesn’t make me inclined to want to eat it.

The last set of problems have to do with bacteria. The pieces that used to be on the outside (as scraps) that are now on the inside have “hundreds of times” more bacteria and are more difficult to cook thoroughly. That’s a bad combination, leaving people very open to food poisoning. Also, if you don’t know that the meat is “glued” and you order it anything less than well done, those hard-to-cook parts definitely aren’t going to be cooked.

Unless you are vegetarian, you are probably eating glued meat regularly — and there are no disclosure laws, so no one has to tell you anything, even if you ask. (And they may not even know, depending on how they’re supplied.)

Meat glue was banned in Europe last year, but it is legal everywhere else.

There is another write-up about meat glue here that references the same video, if you are looking to read a bit more.

Have you ever heard of this? Does it affect your eating habits?

other people’s handiwork

The Big Man and I stopped by the Tempe Arts Festival yesterday. For those not local, they close down the main drag in Tempe and vendors set up tents down the street. There is food, entertainment in a few locations, and all the stuff to buy. Since it’s an art festival, most of the tents have some variety of artwork: paintings, drawings, photography, jewelry, woodwork, metalwork, blown glass, clothes.  There was a strip of tents this time around (I don’t recall this from last fall’s festival) of food-related things: sauces, dips, salsas, etc. There are also some for whoever has money (Direct TV, some landscapers, the phone company, etc.), but mostly, it’s tons of stuff that is beautiful to admire.

Usually, we don’t buy anything and just go to look.

Yesterday, I bought a wide-brimmed hat. I have been looking for a very wide-brimmed hat that fits my head (apparently smaller than average). The plan for this summer is a couple of long, loose dresses and a wide-brimmed hat to stave off sunscreen as much as possible, so I was excited to find a hat that fits, is wide-brimmed, wasn’t too expensive, and could reasonably go with casual or slightly dressy clothes.

With that — a variety of reading for you today:

How Western Diets Are Making The World Sick from npr.org

LOVING YOURSELF TO CHANGE. from MizFitOnline: If hating yourself hasn’t prompted you to change, perhaps a different approach is in order…

What I Learned About Failing By Setting A PR from Get Fit Slowly: “PR” stands for “personal record,” which, in the world of racing, just indicates that you achieved your own best time. So the title less succinctly would be “What I Learned About Failing by Doing Better Than I’ve Ever Done Before.”

How to Minimize Repetitive Stress Injuries from active.com: Whether you’re just getting off the couch or are a seasoned athlete, repetitive stress injuries are a possibility unless you take precautions against them.

Get More Nutritional Bang for Your Buck from northjersey.com: A list of nine foods that are, in one or more ways, good for you.

Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

Today’s recipe is for a meal that is ridiculously easy and delicious, straight from organicgardening.com. We agreed that when we make it again, we’ll use more garlic and more spinach, but as-is, it was still very tasty!

Watch out — the ingredient list calls for cooked pasta, so cooking it will need to be part of the plan. (I have missed that detail in more than one recipe that called for something already cooked.)

I’m getting closer to remembering to take pictures.  We had eaten but were still at the table when I thought of it. Perhaps next time…

Whole Wheat Pasta with Walnuts, Spinach and Mozzarella

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 cup torn baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 4 oz whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
  • 2 tbsp shredded part skim mozzarella
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the nuts and toast them for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the garlic, spinach, basil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes more, turning frequently.
  5. Toss with the cooked pasta and top with cheese.

this week in pregnancy: week 9

I have to tell ya: I see how pregnant women gain a lot of weight, especially if they’re not on top of their food game ahead of time.

I haven’t had any weird cravings, though some foods that would normally not be appealing have been tasty.  I have had a few food aversions — sweets, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal so far.

So it’s not about cravings so much as it is about body signals.

My body tells me very frequently that I am hungry.

My body also never tells me that I am sated, and it almost never tells me that I have eaten too much.

It is the weirdest thing. I can eat half of a pizza and not feel full, much less uncomfortable. That’s not normal.

So I’m eating fruits and veggies whenever they’re not unappealing (occasionally, I really don’t want them, but not often) and just being aware of what I’m eating. At meals, instead of eating until I feel sated, I eat until I don’t feel hungry. (Those are not the same feeling.) So far, it’s working pretty well most of the time.

But some of the new snacks I’ve picked up are too high-cal (in the quantity that I’ve been eating), and I put on a pound this week. Cutting back on the peanut butter crackers.

Which reminds me that salty foods are appealing. Not too salty, but things like chips used to be take-or-leave and now they’re take-and-take.

Outside of eating … I haven’t been exercising every day, but I have gotten out most days. I went to the gym for the first time in a long time and spent some quality time with the elliptical.  I went to my track training group and worked more lightly than I normally would. It feels really good.

Sleeping hasn’t been great, relative to how I usually sleep. I haven’t been able to sleep in, which is annoying, and I sometimes wake up during the night, which is quite odd for me. So it goes. (I know: get used to it.)

Energy level is better than it was a week or two ago. I need a nap less often (despite not sleeping as well) but I do take one when I need one.

I have an off-and-on history with migraine headaches. It became an “on” after chemo, which was a side effect I wasn’t so excited about. Since then, when I’m getting a migraine, I have the visual aura thing going on, which I never used to have but is a nice warning that it’s coming. Most of the time, some strong tea taken right away will stave off the worst of it. Sometimes it’s enough that I won’t get a headache at all!

In the last three weeks, I’ve had a migraine aura at least four times. Twice I had some tea. Once I had already had tea that evening and didn’t want more (too much caffeine is not good). So twice I just went to bed. No bad headaches, which is good, but it’s getting a little ridiculous…

That’s where I’m at so far! Minor whining, but nothing too bad 😉

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