Monday, 25 March 2013

Five Things That Shock Me.

For the past year or so, I've been painfully aware of the amount of processing that food goes through, and been making attempts to eat unprocessed and local food. I've come across tons of stories and statistics and watched documentaries and read some books...and there are a few things that I've read or watched that really stuck with me. There are a few more, but I stuck to the top five.

This is the stuff that shocks me.

5. Coke's effect on the body is similar to heroin.
I don't drink pop regularly, but when I read this one I was glad I don't.
Have you ever wondered why Coke comes with a smile? Because it gets you high. They removed the cocaine almost 100 years ago. Why? It was redundant.
In the first 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor, allowing you to keep it down.
20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (And there’s plenty of that at this particular moment.)
40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate; your blood pressure rises; as a response, your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked, preventing drowsiness.
45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.
> 60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium, and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.
> 60 minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium, and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolytes, and water.
> 60 minutes: As the rave inside you dies down, you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, pissed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like hydrating your system, or building strong bones and teeth.
This will all be followed by a caffeine crash in the next few hours. (As little as two if you’re a smoker.)
Read more:

4. At a meal at McDonald's, you are eating more corn than the hamburger or potatoes.
In The Omnivore's Dilemna, author Michael Pollan spends time tracing the roots to his meals. One of his chosen meals was a fast food meal, and he wondered how much corn went into the making of his meal, from the corn that the steer ate, to the high fructose corn syrup in his pop. An excerpt:

“Some time later I found another way to calculate just how much corn we had eaten that day. I asked Todd Dawson, a biologist at Berkeley, to run a McDonald's meal through his mass spectrometer and calculate how much of the carbon in it came originally from a corn plant. It is hard to believe that the identity of the atoms in a cheeseburger or a Coke is preserved from farm field to fast-food counter, but the atomic signature of those carbon isotopes is indestructible, and still legible to the mass spectrometer. Dawson and his colleague Stefania Mambelli prepared an analysis showing roughly how much of the carbon in the various McDonald's menu items came from corn, and plotted them on a graph. The sodas came out at the top, not surprising since they consist of little else than corn sweetener, but virtually everything else we ate revealed a high proportion of corn, too. In order of diminishing corniness, this is how the laboratory measured our meal: soda (100 percent corn), milk shake (78 percent), salad dressing (65 percent), chicken nuggets (56 percent), cheeseburger (52 percent), and French fries (23 percent)."

So, yes. The calories at McDonald's are coming from corn, not the beef, not the fries, but the corn syrup in the pop, and the corn oil the fries were cooked in.

3. The China Study 
The China Study was a 20 year study that started in 1983 that looked at the correlation between illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and diet that was either plant based or animal based. The China Study concluded that a plant based diet will prevent or reverse disease.

Read that again. A plant based diet will prevent (...ok) or reverse (WHAT? really?) disease.

Think about this statement. Now think about the implications.

Are we living in this meat-eating, the-world-is-flat culture that is completely unaware that we are poisoning ourselves? I don't know. It seems pretty "out there".  I'm still eating meat and meat products. Bacon rocks. Milk is my son's favorite thing. I don't plan on changing that soon. But why aren't I? Why isn't everyone? Culture is a hard thing to turn around.

2. In the United States, the USDA held a mother and her children at gunpoint for selling local food to locals. 
Thank the lord I live in Canada. Watch the documentary Farmageddon.

1. Food dyes contain petroleum. 
They make asphalt and kerosene from petroleum as well.

My daughter ended up in emergency a few weeks ago, all of a sudden started vomiting, and had a fever with an itchy rash. She took an allergic reaction to something and when we said she had a candy, and the nurses immediately said artificial dyes. The doctor also said it was likely.

Kraft is being petitioned in the States to take the artificial colors Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 out of their Mac and Cheese. The UK has a ban on those ingredients, and the Mac and Cheese they sell in the UK tastes and looks exactly the same - they actually use real spices, like paprika. (Here in Canada, they aren't even required to list which artificial colors they use, just the generic term "artificial colors".)

I remember when Smarties changed their recipe and got rid of the artificial colors...I did not like it all. I didn't really get why they would change such a good thing. Now I get it. I totally get it. I'm pretty thankful that there is a company out there that is willing to stand up and say "Hey. Hi there. We aren't going to feed petroleum to you anymore. Don't bother thanking us. It's ok. We're just doing our job."

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Sunday Prep Day

If I don't prep food over the weekend, I'm screwed.

Since I'm trying to eliminate pre-packaged and processed food, this means crackers, bear paws, etc won't be on the menu for school lunches. Also I was getting lazy with the snacks at home, the fam was getting sick of yogurt and apples. My husband's schedule has changed the past couple of months, so he was preparing suppers way more than usual. I can throw a healthy supper together fairly quickly, but god bless him, he struggles. He tries. But he struggles.

I found that the weekends that I prepare snacks and plan a few meals my week went a lot easier, and the kids had more snack variety. And I had fewer frantic texts at 4:45pm saying "I don't know what to make for supper."

On a good prep day, I make some healthy snacks. On an awesome prep day, I make some healthy snacks and prep a meal or two.

My food prep is usually a combination of a few of these tasty tidbits.

Carrot Sticks - I cut them using my Pampered Chef Crinkle Cutter, so they look like crinkle-cut fries. Kids love them. I store them in water in the fridge.

Whole Wheat Muffins - My veggie box people grind their own wheat, so we always have whole wheat on hand. The made some buckwheat once too, so I'll throw a cup in buckwheat sometimes. I keep half out and freeze the other half for the rest of the week.
Last Sundays recipe:

Roast Chicken - We got a few frozen chickens in our meat box, and I love just roasting a chicken and cutting it up without getting into the hassle of the entire meal deal with gravy and stuffing. (Not that I don't love a roast chicken dinner. I do.) After the chicken has cooled, I cut it and portion it into freezer bags. I usually keep a portion or two in the fridge, for a quick protein snack or to chop up for sandwiches.

Protein Bars - After a few unsuccessful recipes I found, I finally modified one to my liking - one that doesn't fall apart in my hands, and isn't sticky. I cut them into individual servings, put them all in a freezer bag and freeze. These are for hubby and I.
Protein bars before being cut. 

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas -  I saw these on Pinterest, and I loved them! They are probably an acquired taste, but I enjoy them. Crunchy and "acceptable" substitute for my chip obsession (which I have not, and likely will not, kick.)

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas.

Hamburger - We get frozen packages of hamburger in our meat box, and meal prep goes a lot faster if my hamburger is already cooked. I throw the frozen hamburger into a frying pan, and cook a couple batches up at a time. I usually throw some onions and sage into it to give the flavor a boost. When it has cooled, just divide into freezer bags and toss in the freezer. Great for a quick spaghetti or casserole.

Freezer Slow Cooker meals - I tried a few of these for the days that my husband was home, he can take them out of the freezer and throw them into the slowcooker and not have to think about cooking at all. And that is better for everyone. I checked out these sites, and I think soon I will start trying to modify my regular slow cooker faves into their freezer-friendly versions:

Prepping some slow cooker meals for the freezer. 

Hard Boiled Eggs -  Eggs are another staple of our veggie box. I recently started hard boiling them, and keeping them (shell on) in the fridge. They are super handy for a grab-and-go breakfast or a sandwich filler.

Cinnamon Chia Seed Granola- I've only made this once, but will definitely try this one again. It made me buy chia seeds, which are a fun and random little seed. Why random, you ask? This little seed turns into a gel when it gets wet. It's an odd little thing.
Chia Seed Granola

And those are the usual suspects for Sunday Prep Day. I have a few more recipes I'd like to try, have to test out some more freezer slow cooker meals, and I'd love to make a couple huge batches of spaghetti sauce to have in the freezer. Pinterest and websites like are always a great source of ideas and information.

I'm just getting into this habit, so I'm interested in what everyone else does for Sunday prep?