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Archive for July, 2010

Numbers Game: Honey, I Blew Up The Cattle!

whatsinyourmilkApproximately _____ percent of feedlot cattle (this includes dairy cattle as well as those slaughtered for their meat) in the US receive artificial hormone injections.

a) 46
b) 75
c) 92
d) 30

Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Friday for the answer.

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Quick & Healthy Recipes: Allergy-Friendly Breakfast Pie (Wheat, Soy, Dairy, and Nut-Free!)

goodmorningiu9You can have this pie whenever you please — day or night.  However, its fruity flavors are breakfast-ish to me.  And, while it is a pie, it is made of such healthful ingredients that you can start your day off quite nutritiously with a slice.

Chock-full of fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it makes minimally-nutritious morning pastries quiver in fear!

YIELDS: One 8-slice pie

INGREDIENTS:

For crust:

3/4 cup raw almonds (see NOTES at bottom of post)
3/4 cup raw walnuts (see NOTES at bottom of post)
(NOTE: For nut-free version, you will need 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup hemp seeds, and 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds; see NOTES at bottom of post)
2 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded dried coconut (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pitted dates (any variety; I like Medjool)

For filling:

1.5 cups blueberries
1.5 cups strawberries, sliced
1 medium banana, sliced
2 Tablespoons cup raisins
1 scoop unsweetened whey or hemp protein powder (optional; see NOTES at bottom of post)
1 Tablespoon water (if needed, to thin out)

INSTRUCTIONS:

To make the crust, process the nuts/seeds, coconut (if using), vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in food processor into a finely ground powder.

Add the pitted dates, 1/3 of a cup at a time, and process for 30 to 45 seconds at a time.

Once all the dates have been added, you should have a solid “dough-like” product.  If it does not stick together, add a few more pitted dates and process again.

Remove the “dough” from the food processor and press it into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan (preferably glass), forming a crust that goes up onto the sides of the pan.  Once done, place pie pan in freezer for 30 minutes.

While crust freezes, make the filling, as detailed below.

Rinse out the food processor and fill it with berries, the sliced banana, and the raisins.  Process for 45 to 60 seconds, or until completely smooth.  If needed, add up to 1 Tablespoon of water to make processing easier (careful, though, you don’t your filling to be watery!).

Once filling is smooth (and has a creamy texture), remove crust from freezer and pour filling into pie pan.

Refrigerate pie pan for at least 90 minutes.

Once pie has been fully refrigerated, cut into eight uniform slices and enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS (for 1 slice, crust made with almonds and walnuts, filling without protein powder):

245 calories
1.5 grams saturated fat
150 milligrams sodium
5 grams fiber
4 grams protein

Excellent Source of: B vitamins (except B12), folate, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, zinc

Good Source of: Iron, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 ALA fatty acids, vitamin E, zinc

NOTES:

1. For a simpler and less costly crust, you can definitely use one type of nut or seed.  I like using a combination in order to achieve more flavors, but that is completely up to you.  If using multiple nuts/seeds, feel free to experiment with different ratios, too.  You can also try ingredients not listed in this recipe (i.e.: Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, etc.)

2. The extra scoop of whey or hemp protein in the filling provides an additional 2.5 grams of protein per slice, and thickens up the texture slightly.  I find that an unsweetened, vanilla-flavored type works best with the filling.

3. Serving this for guests?  Top it off with whole fresh berries or sliced fruits of your choice!

4. If you want to give the crust a hint of chocolate flavor, add one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the crust.  For a deep chocolate flavor, add two tablespoons.

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Celebrity Diet Secrets: But You DO Eat Carbs, Drew Carey!

drew-carey-240Comedian and Price is Right host Drew Carey has shed 80 pounds over the past six months, and the folks at People are on the case.

In an article titled “How I Lost 80 Lbs.”, Mr. Carey shares his tip for success:

“No carbs,” Carey says. “I have cheated a couple times, but basically no carbs, not even a cracker. No bread at all. No pizza, nothing. No corn, no beans, no starches of any kind. Egg whites in the morning or like, Greek yogurt, cut some fruit.”

Alas, Mr. Carey has fallen prey to the same type of erroneous thinking that many other dieters do — the idea that “carbs” and “starch” are the same thing.  They are not.

Remember, carbohydrates are in every food (except for oils, solid fats, and animal protein).  Yes, everything else — from almonds to yogurt to fruit to sweet potatoes to broccoli — contains carbohydrates.

The notion that Drew Carey lost weight while “shunning carbohydrates” is wrong since he then states that he would sometimes start his mornings with yogurt and fruit.

Besides, it is absolutely possible to lose weight while eating carbohydrate-rich foods like oatmeal, quinoa, lentils, and chickpeas.

I also have no doubt that a quick comparison of Mr. Carey’s caloric consumption before and during this diet would also show a decrease in total calories.  Of course, the key to successful weight loss is to cut calories without sacrificing satiety and nutrient intake.

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Who Said It?: Reveal

perricone_oprah_5-300x230“Coffee has organic acids that raise your blood sugar, raise insulin. Insulin puts a lock on body fat. When you switch over to green tea, you get your caffeine, you’re all set, but you will drop your insulin levels and body fat will fall very rapidly. [You will lose] 10 pounds in six weeks [if you replace coffee with green tea], I will guarantee it.”

This quote comes from Dr. Nicholas Perricone, specifically from a 2004 appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show.

As with other doctors who are a staple on the media mogul’s program, Dr. Perricone is a source of nutrition soundbites that are TV-friendly, albeit not entirely accurate.  Never mind, of course, that Dr. Perricone is a dermatologist who for many years was invited to sit on Oprah’s couch to dispense nutrition advice.

Let’s examine Dr. Perricone’s statements piece by piece.

“Coffee has organic acids that raise your blood sugar.”

True, coffee raises blood sugar levels ever so slightly.  The same can be said about plenty of healthful foods – nuts, seeds, beans, fresh fruit, whole grains, and root vegetables.  This concept of “raising blood sugar”, by the way, is nothing more than the glycemic index.

Additionally, if Dr. Perricone is so concerned about coffee’s glycemic index, why is he such a fan of wild blueberries, which raise blood sugar levels more?

“When you switch over to green tea, you get your caffeine, you’re all set, but you will drop your insulin levels and body fat will fall very rapidly.”

This, of course, assumes you are drinking coffee and green tea on their own, without any milk — dairy or otherwise — or sweetener.  Add dairy, almond, soy, oat, or any other milk to your tea and your blood sugar will rise to some degree.

If you like your tea plain but accompany it with food (whether it’s oatmeal or a chocolate chip cookie), this talk of “dropping insulin levels” also becomes a moot point.

The above statement also makes the erroneous assumption that weight loss is simply about dropping insulin levels, rather than lowering caloric intake.

It is absolutely possible to lose weight while eating foods with high glycemic indeces, provided that calories are also being lowered.

Allow me to clarify.  It is true that plenty of fiberless and overly processed foods — white flour, white sugar, refined grains — raise blood sugar levels significantly.

However, fruits are far from low-glycemic.  In fact, ice cream has a lower glycemic index than watermelon.  If weight loss was your goal, would you consider a cup of watermelon or a cup of Ben & Jerry’s to be the wiser choice?  Not to mention — have you ever heard of anyone gaining weight as a result of drinking unsweetened black coffee?

Remember, too, that a food’s glycemic index can be altered by a variety of factors.  A potato’s glycemic index, for instance, is different if you eat it with its skin and top it with olive oil than if you peel and mash it.

“[You will lose] 10 pounds in six weeks [if you replace coffee with green tea], I will guarantee it.”

If this were a money-back guarantee, Dr. Perricone would have to file for bankruptcy.

The notion that all it takes to lose 10 pounds — in six weeks, no less! — is a switch from coffee to green tea is not only science fiction, it is also infuriatingly misleading.  Talk about setting people up for failure.

Of course, this “promise” wasn’t met with an ounce of skepticism.  Oprah vouched that she would give this a try, and the audience responded with applause.  Because, as we all know, if “a doctor on TV” says something, then it MUST be true (even though sixty percent of doctors in the US don’t have a single nutrition course built into their medical school curriculum, and thirty-five percent can take one course as an elective).

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You Ask, I Answer: Farmers’ “No Bovine Growth Hormone” Pledge?

farmers_pledge_150I see this verbiage on my milk carton and it seems very vague.

“Our farmers pledge not to treat their cows with rbST.”

The word ‘pledge’ implies to me that they may or may not do what is stated above.

I’m interested in your input.

– Ken Leebow
(Location Unknown)

In the overwhelming majority of cases, farmers who pledge not to use recombinant bovine Somatotropin (rbST)/ recombinant growth hormone (rBGH) sign legal affidavits that are kept on file by the respective companies they provide milk to.

In the vast majority of cases, though, this is done via an honor system.  There is no formal inspection process.

There also aren’t unannounced assessments or investigations.  For example, the New York and Connecticut chapters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association explicitly state that they “do not investigate or make any guarantee that the individual farmer is complying with the Farmer’s Pledge.”

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In The News: Don’t Count on Calorie Labeling in Great Britain

double_whopper_with_cheese_menu_labelingDiscouraging news from the other side of the Atlantic, friends — “fast food chains and restaurants have quietly sunk a plan by Britain’s food watchdog to display calorie counts in eating outlets across the country.”

A trial calorie-display initiative set forth by the Food Standards Agency has been downright abandoned by “fast food greats” like Pizza Hut, KFC, and Burger King.

Consequently, a mere three percent of the eligible fast food restaurants in Great Britain are posting calorie counts in visible ways (ie: not solely on their websites or on a leaflet that must be requested by customers).

This is why having the law on your side is crucial.  Calorie counts must be legally — and federally — mandated.  Case closed.

And, before any “the government can’t tell me what to eat!!” zealots pipe up, keep in mind that this is not about prohibiting the sale of any foods.  It simply makes information more public and easier to access.

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You Ask, I Answer: Nut Butters, Nut Milks, Protein, and Satiety

04314l1395I understand that nuts are filling because, in part, of their protein. Do nut milks (e.g., almond milk) possess similar properties? Are they as “filling” or have as much protein?

Also, what is a good protein replacement for nut butters? I like nut butters and love the idea of “bulking up” a piece of bread to make it more satisfying, but sometimes find it hard to digest nuts in large quantities. Is there something else I can put on my breads, muffins, etc. that will make me feel as full for as long as nut butters do?

– Lizzie (Last Name Withheld)
(Location Withheld)

Nut milks offer different nutrient values than nut butters because they have have a much higher water content.

If you make nut milk the traditional way (straining the liquid through a chinois and/or a nutmilk bag before consuming it), most of the “nut mush” (along with its fiber and protein) is caught and does not make it to your beverage.

This helps explain why the average cup (1 serving) of commercial almond milk has 1 gram of protein, while 1 serving (2 tablespoons) of almond butter has 7 grams of protein.

In terms of a good replacement for nut butters, you could always do a combination of nut butters with fruit.

For example, if you normally put 2 tablespoons of nut butter on bread, try 1 tablespoon (or even 2 teaspoons) and then add some sliced bananas or mashed berries.  The fiber in the fruit will help you feel full, while the decrease in fat will make the total snack easier to digest.

You could also put a small amount of nut butter on bread and add a sprinkling of hemp, chia, or flax seeds for easier digestion.

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Who Said It?

QuestionMark-300x2991Coffee has organic acids that raise your blood sugar, raise insulin. Insulin puts a lock on body fat. When you switch over to green tea, you get your caffeine, you’re all set, but you will drop your insulin levels and body fat will fall very rapidly. [You will lose] 10 pounds in six weeks [if you replace coffee with green tea], I will guarantee it.

I will reveal the answer — and explain why this statement raises my blood pressure — on Wednesday.

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You Ask, I Answer: Endocrine Disruptors & Obesity

Keep-the-Weight-Off-After-You-ve-Lost-It-Weigh-Yourself-Daily-or-Weekly_slideshow_imageWhat do you think of articles (like this one) that link chemicals known as endocrine disruptors with obesity?

– Various Readers

While on vacation last week, I received over a dozen e-mails inquiring about endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and their potential role in “making Americans fat”. 

Also known as “obesogens”, these chemicals are present in pesticides, plastic containers, and unfiltered tap water.

According to the article linked to in this post, EDCs explain why “traditional diet advice — choose chicken over beef, eat more fish, load up on fruits and vegetables — may not work anymore.”

Hold up.  Do you see the problem with that description of supposed “traditional advice”?  None of it is about eating fewer calories!   “Choose chicken over beef”, for example, has very little to do with caloric intake (that advice has more to do with lowering saturated fat intake).

While I am not denying that EDCs exist, and can pose health consequences to us, I really dislike the notion that they are the reason “why you can’t lose those last ten pounds.”

EDCs may very well be a tiny factor in rising obesity rates, but we can’t ignore the main one — excessive caloric intake.

By “excessive caloric intake”, I don’t simply mean “we are eating more”.  To me, “excessive caloric intake” encompasses crop subsidies (which make heavily processed, not-at-all filling ingredients cheap), exploding portion sizes (a direct result of crop subsidies), food deserts, and other social factors. 

Imagine, if you will, that you light a match and start a fire outdoors.  A gust of wind will strengthen it, but it did not start the fire.  The same can be said about EDCs and obesity.  They very well could be the wind that provides some extra fuel to the obesity flame, but they are certainly not the match that started it all.

I am not downplaying the benefits (both personal and environmental) of eating organic produce and avoiding BPA, but keep in mind that many people have successfully lost weight while strill drinking unfiltered tap water, eating conventional produce, and eating/drinking items from plastic containers. 

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Numbers Game: Answer

Bob-Nichols-CAFOTwo percent of the livestock companies in the United States are responsible for 40 percent of the country’s cattle, poultry, and pigs.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

In case there were any doubts, our current food system is essentially an oligopoly.

Implications?  Strong lobbying forces, involvement and presence in “official” dietary advice, and big budgets.

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New Giveaway: Feed Your Activist Hunger

appetiteForprofit-hroptiSo far this year, the Small Bites blog has teamed up with a variety of individuals to give away some of my favorite things — from spice kits to healthy crackers to a brand-new vegan cookbook.

This giveaway is for  my fellow food politics buffs who are interested in learning the inner workings of the beast known as the food industry.

Two Small Bites readers will win an autographed copy of Michele Simon’s engrossing book, Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back.

A health policy expert and law professor, Simon lays out thoughtful and appropriately scathing critiques of the food industry’s attempts to lull consumers into a false sense of security with “health initiatives”, self-regulation, and other tactics.

If food politics, corporate responsibility, public  health issues, and food law interest you, this book needs a home on your bookshelf!

To enter this giveaway:

  1. Send an e-mail to “andy@andybellatti.com” with the subject line “Appetite for Profit” anytime between 12:01 AM (Eastern Standard Time) on Thursday, July 22, 2010 and 11:59 PM (Eastern Standard Time) on Monday, August 9, 2010.
  2. Only one e-mail entry per person.  Multiple e-mail entries do not increase chances of winning.
  3. You may increase your chance of winning (equivalent to a second entry) by sharing the link to this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook.  For Twitter, you must include “@andybellatti” in your tweet.  For Facebook, please notify me via e-mail when you share this link on your wall.
  4. Winner will be selected at random on Tuesday, August 10, 2010 and will be contacted by me via e-mail.
  5. Winner must reside in the United States.

Good luck!

Many thanks to Michele Simon for donating two books to this giveaway.  Keep up with her on Twitter (@Appetite4Profit)!

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Small Bites Returns July 22

back_soon1Dear Reader,

Small Bites is taking a short summer break and will return on Thursday, July 22.

In the meantime, please follow me on Twitter to stay up-to-date on nutrition news and receive helpful tips and informative facts throughout the day.

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What Obesity Problem?

IMAG0343-1024x613KFC’s double deep-fried Double Down concoction threw down the gauntlet in April, and “inspired” other fast-food companies to put out their grossest, most extreme creations.

Last month, Friendly’s unveiled their Grilled Cheeseburger Melt. Now, Foodbeast.com reports that Carl’s Jr. is testing a footlong cheeseburger (advertisement pictured at left) in some of its California locations.

I’m not even going to feign shock at this point.

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The Three Words Every Nutritionist Should Say

mesclun_greens_11234220238“Eat more greens.”

Yes, there is “eat more” advice that promotes health.  Unless you are drowning them in copious amounts of oil, greens don’t make a caloric dent.

Dark, leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of many minerals (especially calcium as far as kale, bok choy, and mustard greens are concerned), phytonutrients, antioxidants, and flavonoids.

Barring exceptions (ie: someone taking Coumadin), everyone can benefit from consuming a higher quantity of these vegetables.

By the way, the key when taking Coumadin is to keep your intake of dark leafy green vegetables constant.  If you normally eat a lot, keep eating a lot.  If you normally don’t, keep your intake low.

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Numbers Game: Meat Monopoly

cafo_hogs-470x351Two percent of the livestock companies in the United States are responsible for ____ percent of the country’s cattle, poultry, and pigs.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

a) 30
b) 40
c) 21
d) 54

Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Wednesday for the answer.

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