Food Is Not Your Enemy

Curry or BBQ Sauce Made of Grape Jelly?
September 30, 2009, 10:19 am
Filed under: food politics | Tags: , ,

I’m loving the middle school in Queens, New York, that’s actually bothering to cook up fresh curries for its students. It’s good to see that there’s a very real movement to give kids fresh, real food in their school cafeterias.

Cost, of course, remains a barrier to wide-ranging change. The executive chef for New York City schools, Jorge Collazo, came and spoke to my class at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition this year, and told us he can only spend $1 per student per day for lunch. But he’s really trying to improve things–he’s made a point of bringing whole-wheat bread and whole-wheat pasta into NYC schools, and really gets it that kids deserve something better than processed junk.

Mayor Mike Doesn’t Always Live By His Own Health Rules

The New York Times ran a piece detailing how New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, pusher of smoking bans, banner of trans-fats, and advocate of calorie information in fast-food joints, himself has a bit of a heavy hand with the salt shaker. He drinks too much coffee. He eats too much sometimes. And did I mention the salt, that substance he’s pushing New Yorkers to consume less of?

Some would charge all this makes Mayor Bloomberg a hypocrite. Me? I’m more forgiving. I understand how hard it can be to eat the right things, and that there’s always a time and place for fried chicken and biscuits. Because Bloomberg eats less than optimally sometimes doesn’t mean that trans-fats are okay. Trans-fats do not make fries or doughnuts taste better, they are simply cheaper and more convenient for the restaurants to use. But that cost savings is dangerous to our health–it has been proven that these lab-concocted fats lead to heart disease. And calorie counts? It’s good for people to know that the meal they are about to order has a full day’s supply of calories. Some people may not change their order because of it, but some will. And the restaurants, fearing sales could slip when people realize how calorie-packed some of their offerings are, will hopefully make changes, both to how they prepare their food and what their menus contain. Is it really necessary for chain restaurants to deep-fry their chicken at a central plant once before it is distributed to each restaurant location, and then again at the restaurant before it’s sent out to the patrons? This is a routine practice, according to David Kessler’s important new book “The End of Overeating,” and a big reason why 1600 calories for a chicken entrée is not unusual at places like the Cheesecake Factory.

So yes, I’m all for Bloomberg’s health initiatives. And if he salts his Saltines, or packs on a few pounds, I’m not going to be the one to point a finger.

A Size-Zero Model Trapped in an Overweight Lawyer’s Body
September 22, 2009, 9:40 am
Filed under: weight loss | Tags: , , , , ,

In the Lifetime show “Drop Dead Diva,” a size-zero model, Deb, ends up trapped in the body of an overweight, hard-working (and stylish) lawyer, Jane. While Deb subsisted just fine on celery, Jane craves sandwiches and sweets.

The show explores interesting issues of weight–can you become a size zero just by sheer willpower? It’s not likely. Too many other factors come into play–metabolic rate, attitudes about food developed while growing up, emotional eating, and so much more.

Untangling this web of reasons behind weight gain and loss is part of what I do as a holistic nutrition counselor. If you’d like to learn more about my counseling practice, visit my Web site.

Noodles: Safe or Scary?
September 18, 2009, 9:39 am
Filed under: Food/Health Blogs, Grains | Tags: , , , ,

Is there any food kids love more than pasta? Chances are, pasta, in some form, makes a regular appearance at the dining table. But should it be in regular rotation, or more of a once-in-a-while thing? Read my latest column on AOL’s ParentDish to find out whether Italian pasta, ramen, mac and cheese, and canned pasta meals are good for you and your family.

Spaghetti Con Ceci
September 16, 2009, 9:46 am
Filed under: Beans, Grains, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , ,

New York magazine published this recipe before the last New York City marathon, pushing this dish as a great way to carbo-load. It’s also a great weekday-night meal, quick to prepare and utterly delicious. I use Bionaturae brand whole-wheat spaghetti, bacon instead of pancetta sometimes, regular organic diced tomatoes from a can, and organic chickpeas (no need to track down any special kind).

Cool, Now We Know When Haggis and Mallomars Were Invented

Check this out: Found this “food timeline” online that details when different foods first came into use and/or were invented. Rice and millet, for instance, have been eaten since before 17,000 B.C. (but brown rice didn’t hit the U.S. until the 1960s). Marshmallows have been around since 2,000 B.C. And seedless watermelon first entered the market in 1949. Plus, recipes!

The Smart Choices Campaign: Froot Loops Are A-Okay


From this week’s New York Times:

“Froot Loops qualifies for the [Smart Choices] label because it meets standards set by the Smart Choices Program for fiber and Vitamins A and C, and because it does not exceed limits on fat, sodium and sugar. It contains the maximum amount of sugar allowed under the program for cereals, 12 grams per serving, which in the case of Froot Loops is 41 percent of the product, measured by weight. That is more sugar than in many popular brands of cookies.

‘Froot Loops is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals and it is also a good source of fiber with only 12 grams of sugar,’ said Celeste A. Clark, senior vice president of global nutrition for Kellogg’s, which makes Froot Loops. ‘You cannot judge the nutritional merits of a food product based on one ingredient.'”

But can I object to all the artificial colors and trans-fats in the cereal, proven to be unhealthy? Given the standards of this food-industry-run program, soon you’ll see candy fortified with vitamins sporting this stamp. Michael Jacobson, head of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said it best in the article: “You could start out with some sawdust, add calcium or Vitamin A and meet the criteria.”

So please ignore this “Smart Choices” seal–it’s just another attempt by the food industry to manipulate us into buying junk food with high profit margins.