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Archive for October, 2011

Speaking With…: Bruce Bradley

A few weeks ago, I learned of a relatively new blog largely centered around food industry deception, but with an interesting twist — its author, Bruce Bradley, is a former Big Food marketer!

Specifically, Mr. Bradley spent over fifteen years as a food marketer at companies like General Mills, Pillsbury, and Nabisco. He has since, in his words, “become more educated about the risks and environmental impact of eating processed foods”, and is now a CSA enthusiast.

I recently asked Mr. Bradley some questions that I thought someone with his unique background and experience could really shed some light on:

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Giveaway: Kale Chips, Sunflower Seeds, and Fruit Leathers — Oh My!

Time for another raw, vegan, and gluten-free giveaway!

Last month, it was macaroons and “grawnola”, this time around it’s ‘cheesy’ kale chips, sprouted sunflower seeds, and unique fruit leathers courtesy of the folks at Kaia Foods, an Oakland-based company started in 2006.  Creator Nick Kelley left a career in finance to fulfill his dream of making “minimally processed, truly healthy food more readily available to everyone”.

As you know, I only do giveaways of products I enjoy myself.  Kaia Foods’ spiced sprouted sunflower seeds are a staple in my kitchen.  The teriyaki and garlic varieties instantly liven up salads, the sweet curry flavor adds a delicious crunch to soups, and the cocoa molé sunflower seeds are perfect airport food.  The lime-ginger fruit leather is my favorite (orange + banana + kale + lime juice + ginger!).  As for kale chips — there is never a wrong time for those!

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More Vegan Deliciousness From Doug McNish!

Last week, Canadian vegan executive chef Doug McNish shared his much sought-after recipe for tempeh croquettes. This week, he delights us with two lovely side dishes perfect for autumn — a spiced sweet potato mash and a caramelized onion and cherry tomato relish! I hope some of you are inspired to include these at your Thanksgiving dinner next month.

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Speaking With…: Mary Waldner of Mary’s Gone Crackers

As much as I enjoy calling out Big Food’s deceptive tactics and worrisome practices, I also like to recognize companies that offer real food and a refreshing “what you see is what you get” approach. Among that small group of all-stars is Mary’s Gone Crackers (apart from crackers, they also offer cookies, pretzel-sticks, and “crumbs”).

I have been a staunch fan since my first bite in 2008, and have been spreading the word about them since. Any time I have brought these to an office, meeting, or get-together, many people express curiosity and, after trying one, immediately ask, “Wow, where can I buy these?”.

While the crispy crunch, unique flavor, and dip-withstanding texture are definite pluses, my favorite aspect is the whole-food, organic, non-GMO ingredients. Did I also mention the entire Mary’s Gone Crackers product line is wheat and gluten-free?

With October being non-GMO month, I wanted to speak with creator Mary Waldner about her goals with the product line and get some insight into production and sourcing issues.

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3 (More) Examples of Food Industry Deception

As with computer operating systems or software programs, it is imperative to consistently update your Big Food BS detector.  Below, I decode three of the latest misleading declarations making the rounds.

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Chef Doug McNish’s Tempeh Croquettes

I know Chef Doug McNish from Twitter, but I really look forward to the day when I get to try some of his food.  How could I not, after seeing photos of his marinated beet carpaccio with Belgium endive, sprouted pumpkin seed chimichurri, and chili flax oil, or his black kale and bok choy salad with pumpkin seed ‘butter cream’, nori, and spirulina?

With chilly Fall temperatures here to stay, I asked Doug to share his favorite hearty autumn recipes with me.  These tempeh croquettes (!) are one; be sure to come back next Friday, when I’ll share the other two delectable recipes he sent me.

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New Products, Same Old Deception

I enjoy keeping up with Big Food’s product releases. Not only is it mind-blowing to see how many different ways you can rearrange crop subsidies, unhealthful oils, and added sugars to come up with “new” items; it’s also fun to see what front-of-package health claims and call-outs are trotted out.

The three products below may be new on the shelf, but the “wholesome and healthy” deception is the same old dog and pony show.

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Quick & Healthy Recipe: Cocoa-Tahini Brown Rice Crispy Squares

Rice Krispies treats originated as a homemade snack in the 1920s. As a testament to their popularity, they are also available in prepackaged form.  Of course, that means means they come bundled with partially hydrogenated oils, petroleum-derived artificial flavor, sketchy preservatives like BHT, and the usual genetically modified suspects (high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, etc.).  No, thank you.

Vegans are out of luck, too; traditional recipes for Rice Krispies treats contain butter and marshmallows (made from gelatin). Homemade versions can be made with vegan marshmallows, which are nevertheless empty calories that usually contain likely GMO ingredients, like soy and corn byproducts.

This no-bake recipe — my adaptation of an original one found in the excellent cookbook Vegan Bites by Beverly Lynn Bennett — saves the day. It offers whole grains, healthful fats from whole foods, not too much sweetness, and is a snap to make.

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What’s The Deal With Supplements?

Two alarmist bits of news captured the health world’s attention yesterday.  First, ‘supplements may cause early death in older women’.  Then, ‘vitamin E may be risky for prostate‘.  Let’s dissect.

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The Ultimate Olive Oil Guide

The various health benefits of extra virgin olive oil are no secret, but many Americans don’t know they are very likely purchasing ‘faux’ olive oil, or olive oil which offers very few of those well-publicized healthful compounds. I absolutely despise nutritional and food rip-offs, consider this the ultimate olive oil guide — or what you can no longer afford to NOT know.

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Giveaway: Hail Healthy Snacks

It has been quite a while since I offered a giveaway on Small Bites, but a new line of products I recently discovered made me think, “I’ve got to share this with everyone!”.  I am referring to Hail Merry’s delicious raw, vegan, and gluten-free offerings.

I first discovered Hail Merry earlier this year when visiting Texas, the company’s home state.  In a rather serendipitous turn of events, two days after returning from that trip, I noticed that my usual shopping destinations here in Seattle had started carrying their products that same week.

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6 Cosmetic Chemicals in Fast Food

It’s not difficult to make the case that fast food isn’t healthy.  One can point out the ubiquity of partially hydrogenated oils (AKA trans fats; which appear on five separate occasions in the ingredient list for Burger King’s grilled chicken filet).  Or the tablespoons upon tablespoons of added sugars.  Or the outrageously high levels of sodium.  Or the lack of fiber.  Or the presence of food dyes (there are two food dyes in Subway’s pickles!).  Pick your poison.

One also cannot gloss over the litany of chemicals — many of which are oddly found in cosmetics — present in these foods.  Sure, water and aloe vera are found in mass-produced beauty products, but food in cosmetic products is very different from cosmetic chemicals in food.

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Slim Jim: The Last Thing Any “Guy” Needs

Burger King had its “I Am Man” campaign a few years ago. Dr. Pepper recently marketed a soft drink with ‘manly’ artificial sweeteners. Now, ConAgra has taken its Slim Jim product to new heights of unbridled testosterone with Slim Jim Dare (“made from stuff guys need”).

The commercials revolve around the problem of “male spice loss”, for which a Slim Jim Dare is the proposed cure. We see the Slim Jim team and its “manbulance” rescue a man who ordered a salad, one who is driven around in a scooter by his girlfriend, and others caught ironing their jeans, among other “temporary lapses of judgment.”

While Slim Jim may save men from stepping outside the rigid societal confines of masculinity, it can’t say the same about the risk for several cancers (mainly that of the colon, stomach, and pancreas).

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Quick & Healthy Recipe: Oil-Free Autumn Buckwheat Granola

Buckwheat is technically a seed (and, despite its name, wheat & gluten-free)

I love this granola for several reasons; it offers something different by not being oat-based, it doesn’t contain any added oils (gets all its healthful fats from whole foods), it’s a delectable combination of crunchy and chewy, and it captures all the flavors of autumn.  Enjoy!

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