Upcoming Event @ Garden Gate!

GardenGate

Join me at Garden Gate Creativity Center in Berkeley for some tips on creative and efficient ways to use vegetables, such as ways to disguise them for children and ways to stay on a budget. I will also provide nutritional information and storing tips as well as  food tastings. Please forward info to anyone who may be interested in attending. Contact me to register. Thanks!

Comments Off on Upcoming Event @ Garden Gate!

August 23, 2012 · 12:54 pm

Avocado Advocate….Recipe: Avocado Cocoa Mousse

Want another recipe that will knock people’s socks off and be the hit of the party? As promised from a previous post, here is a recipe for Avocado Cocoa Mousse. It is a very simple recipe, using only whole foods. As mentioned in the recipe, it is a great recipe to start with, but also easy to tweak to make your own, based on what you think might make it taste better to you. If you try it, let me know how you like it!

Comments Off on Avocado Advocate….Recipe: Avocado Cocoa Mousse

Filed under Fats, Recipes

Soda Popped

Wow, is soda in the news lately! In fact, today and tomorrow, there is a Sugary Drinks Summit taking place in Washington, D.C., where researchers, government officials, health professionals, low-income and minority advocates, and many others are devising plans to improve health by decreasing sugary-drink consumption.

It is not exactly a news flash that Americans drink a lot of soda, nor is it news that these beverages contain a lot of sugar and/or artificial sweeteners. With their addictive quality and their link to health problems (diabetes, obesity, inflammation, heart disease), many health professionals consider sugar and artificial sweeteners to be the tobacco of the 21st century. Sugary beverages are such a pervading part of our society that measures are being taken by local governments to try to decrease their consumption, just as measures have been taken against tobacco and alcohol.

Two cities close to my heart, New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area (more specifically, Richmond, CA) are in the midst of heated debates over the role of government in regulating or taxing soda. In an effort to fight rising obesity numbers, Mayor Bloomberg of NYC is fighting to ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts. In Richmond, CA, where an estimated 52 percent of elementary school students are overweight or obese, the city proposes a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which is to appear on the November ballot.

Some see these proposals as the responsibility of the government to stand up to the food industry and promote health for its citizens. Others see these proposals as the government overstepping its role in determining what we can or cannot consume. Either way, I see it as a positive thing that public health policy is starting to ignite fire in us while raising awareness of what we choose to buy.

Comments Off on Soda Popped

Filed under News, Sugar

Avocado Advocate!

When I was younger, I didn’t like avocados. Now I can’t get enough of them! I like to use them in salads, for guacamole, as a topping (on soup or scrambled eggs), as a spread, and even as an ingredient in desserts. Believe it or not, because they are so creamy, they make a wonderful ingredient in a mousse! Stay tuned for a recipe…

Growing up a tennis player, I always noticed teammates eating bananas during long tennis matches to prevent muscle cramping. Many people know that bananas have a lot of potassium, which can help with muscle cramps.  However, did you know that avocados have more potassium per serving than bananas!? They are also a wonderful source of healthy fats (the unsaturated oil content of avocados is second only to olives among fruits, and sometimes greater) (Murray 2005).

Some tips with avocados:

  • Avoid overripe avocados with brown meat (these will be mushy to the touch).
  • Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe.
  • After they have been sliced, they will keep in the fridge for a day or two, especially if the pit is stored in contact with the flesh.
  • To prevent the natural darkening of the flesh after it’s been sliced, you can sprinkle it with a little lemon juice or vinegar.

Murray, Michael. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York. McGraw-Hill. 2005.

Comments Off on Avocado Advocate!

Filed under Fats, General Guidelines

The Stuff They Get Away With! (Part 2)

It’s not exactly a news flash that trans fats are bad for us. So clearly, we want to stay away from the products with trans fats. So if we buy products advertised as “Zero Trans Fats”, we’re safe, right? NOPE!

Some quick facts about trans fats:

  • They are also known as partially hydrogenated oils.
  • These fats are most commonly found in fried foods (like fast food french fries, donuts) and processed foods.
  • Adverse effects of consuming trans fats: lowers the “good” cholesterol, raises the “bad” cholesterol, increases risk of diabetes, decreases efficiency of immune systems (Enig 2010, 85).* (These are just a few.)
  • Nutrition Facts food labels show trans fats listed. HOWEVER, if a product contains less than 0.5g of trans fats per serving, it is listed as having 0 trans fats. See the admission of this on the FDA page.

If “less than 0.5g of trans fats” sounds close enough to zero to you, consider that the maximum recommended daily intake of trans fat is just 1.11g. You could therefore unknowingly exceed that amount of trans fats by eating just three servings of “zero trans fat” snack food.

So basically, food manufacturers are sneaky, yet again. They make a food so tasty with artificial fats that it is incredibly difficult to eat just one serving of it. Even though they know it has trans fats in it and they know it is bad for you, they label it as a “Zero Trans Fats” product because they can.

Take-home message: This is just one more reason to eat food that doesn’t come with a food label.

*Enig, Mary. Know Your Fats. Maryland. Bethesda Press. 2010.

Comments Off on The Stuff They Get Away With! (Part 2)

Filed under Fats, General Guidelines

The Stuff They Get Away With! (Part 1)

Here’s the gist: As consumers, we have to be very vigilant when buying food.  If it has a label or needs advertising as being “natural”, sadly, chances are it isn’t. We all know the well-deserved hype around kale now….but think about it, when was the last time you saw a bunch of kale advertised on TV?

Growing up in NYC, I remember eating in Chinese restaurants and always hearing people request “no MSG” with their orders. Perhaps this rings a bell for you. Back then, I didn’t understand what MSG was, but it was clear that nobody wanted to eat it with their food. Now I understand why: it is a widely-used additive in the food industry and responsible for symptoms in people such as upset stomach, headaches/migraines, and heart irregularities. Guess what!? There is MSG in many common foods we buy today and we don’t know it because it’s  hidden under a different label.

Let’s take this herbal tea bag as an example. There are many kinds of teas out there, with some brands having longer, scarier ingredient lists than others. The tea in the photo is a lemon-ginger, caffeine-free tea. Its ingredient list reads, “100% natural ingredients: ginger root, lemongrass, lemon flavor, safflower, hibiscus, and citric acid. ”

I want to draw your attention to the two words “natural” and “flavor”  because these are key words that should sound alarms in all of us. As this article says, we shouldn’t be fooled by “natural flavors.” As long as you start with a natural ingredient, like a real lemon, “you can do whatever the heck you want with it, and the end result, regardless of how many solvents  you used or how you processed it, will be labeled as a ‘natural flavor.'” And, well, what d’ya know…… “natural flavors”  are just one example of a hidden source of MSG.

This is just one little tea bag….I admit, not much of a big deal. The labeling is still very misleading, though. Plus, after enough tea, if you are sensitive to additives, you may have symptoms without realizing why. We need to be aware of what is hidden in ingredient lists.  Check out some lists….and notice how often the words “natural” and “flavors” are used. Once again, if you care about your body, I stress the importance of eating real food.

Comments Off on The Stuff They Get Away With! (Part 1)

Filed under General Guidelines

And Yet One More Article

Image

Fats are not to blame for heart disease, but instead processed foods and sugar are more responsible for it. This concept has been brought up before (in fact, the theme is quite repetitive on this blog….sorry….but it is simply THAT important to understand).

This article, recently written by a heart surgeon, seemed to clearly get the point across to people I know, so I am circulating it in case some of you haven’t seen it yet. Please take the time to read it and contact me if you have any questions about it.

Eat. Real. Food. Period.

Comments Off on And Yet One More Article

Filed under Carbs, Fats, General Guidelines, News, Sugar