Archive for February 27, 2014

Food labels to get first makeover in 20 years with new emphasis on calories, sugar

The ubiquitous nutrition label on food packages is about to get its first overhaul in 20 years, a change that is likely to have a dramatic effect on what people choose to eat and drink and what products sell on supermarket shelves.Obama administration officials say the update, scheduled to be formally unveiled Thursday at a White House event, is necessary to keep pace with the science of nutrition and to reduce confusion about what qualifies as healthy food.

 

 

 (GRAPHIC: A look at the proposed nutrition labels by the FDA. Akira Ono/Associated Press – On July 9, 2003, FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan announced that food labels would be required to list the amount of unhealthy trans fat during a news conference at the Health and Human Services Department.)

The new label, which could take years to appear on store shelves, includes more than a half dozen significant changes — such as more prominent calorie counts and more realistic serving sizes — that advocates see as key in fighting the country’s obesity epidemic. Years of research show that tracking calories may be more important than tracking fat consumption when it comes to your health.

Food labels to get first makeover in 20 years with new emphasis on calories, sugar – The Washington Post.

Michael Pollan’s 7 Rules for Eating (WebMD)

Pollan says everything he’s learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Probably the first two words are most important. “Eat food” means to eat real food — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and, yes, fish and meat — and to avoid what Pollan calls “edible food-like substances.”

Here’s how:

  1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. “When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, “What are those things doing there?” Pollan says.
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
  4.  Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren’t food,” Pollan says.
  5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. “Always leave the table a little hungry,” Pollan says. “Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, ‘Tie off the sack before it’s full.'”
  6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It’s a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. “Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?” Pollan asks.
  7. Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.

via Michael Pollan’s 7 Rules for Eating (WebMD)

Following Michael Pollan’s Advice (“Eat Food, Mostly Plants”) On A Limited Time/Money Budget

I’ve come up with a list of tips for parents who want to attempt to follow Pollan’s rules for eating:

  • Get a rice cooker and make a habit of cooking up a big pot of rice every other day.
  • Buy as much fruit on sale as you can afford, and try to start each day eating some.
  • Frozen veggies last long and are often cheaper than fresh. Plus, some kids will just eat frozen corn and peas as snacks.
  • Canned veggies aren’t as good as frozen, but better than no veggies. Except maybe canned asparagus. That shit is nasty.
  • Butter and sprinkle Parmesan cheese can go a long way toward getting most kids to eat more vegetables and to making vegetables more satisfying.
  • Don’t buy snack foods. Ever. Saves money and the kids won’t drive you nuts begging to eat crackers all the time.
  • Crock pots are awesome – just throw all the stuff in a pot in the morning and turn it on. (Some kids have a hard time with big chunks of different foods mixed together. One fix for that is using a hand mixer and making pureed soups such as potato.) I love this Crock Pot cook book.
  • Bread makers are also awesome, and I’m always seeing cheap ones for sale in thrift stores.
  • Buy less milk and cereal. Oatmeal is way cheaper than cereal and milk, and often healthier, too. The dairy industry has hyped the nutritional value of daily milk consumption.
  • Put all the veggies in the pasta. If the kids complain about chunks of veggies, puree it into sauces. Cauliflower works great in cheese or cream based sauces, and pretty much any veggies will puree well into a tomato sauce.
  • Meat is expensive, full of fat, and lots of kids just want to eat that and then not veggies, so try to use it sparingly in rice or pasta dishes that stretch it further.
  • Use beans more as a protein. They are cheap, are already cooked in the can, and can be prepared a gazillion different ways to suit different tastes. If worried about the salt in canned, you can cook dried beans or just rinse the canned ones.
  • Make a lot of potatoes. They are cheap and taste good. The easiest thing I’ve found to do with them is chopping them into wedges, spraying them with veggie oil, sprinkle with salt, and 25 minutes in the oven at 425 degrees.
  • In general if you have the time to cut up all the veggies or the money to buy them already cut up, roasting veggies is the bomb. Most veggies will roast well at 400 degrees for 40 min-1 hour. Ones I’ve gotten my kids to eat regularly: butternut squash, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, turnips, red peppers, onions, and sweet potatoes.
  • Make refried bean quesadillas on corn tortillas. It’s as quick and easy to prepare as a toasted cheese sanwich or box of mac-n-cheese, but healthier. Corn tortillas and refried beans are cheap, and a small amount of melted cheese gets most kids to gobble it up.

via Humanist Mom: Why Michael Pollan’s Advice Doesn’t Work for Most Families.

Simple slow cooker tomato soup

Simple slow cooker tomato soup – CSMonitor.com:

Sure, opening a can is quick, but making this soup is as quick and easy as it gets. Maybe a few minutes more works, but the pay-off in taste is worth the minimal extra effort. No unpronounceable ingredients, no metallic aftertaste, no unnecessary added sodium. The slow cooker and some ready prepared ingredients make it a snap to have fresh, flavorful soup with ingredients you chose, seasoned the way you like…

Simple slow cooker tomato soup

Make sure your vegetables and tomatoes have no added ingredients.

Serves 6 – 8

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1 package frozen carrots, celery and onions (“mirepoix blend”), thawed and drained

2 teaspoons minced garlic (freshly minced or from a jar)

2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

1 32-ounce box low-sodium chicken broth

5 sprigs fresh thyme

5 sprigs fresh oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

1. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in the crock of a 7-quart slow cooker. Partially cover and leave for a few minutes to melt. Add the vegetables and garlic, stir to coat with the butter, cover the slow cooker and leave to soften, about 20 minutes.

2. Pour the tomatoes and broth into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Tie the sprigs of thyme and oregano together with kitchen twine to make a neat little bundle. It is OK if leaves come off, but you don’t want stems in your soup. Tuck the herb bundle into the soup, cover the slow cooker and cook for 5 to 6 hours on high, or 7 to 8 hours on low.

3. When ready to serve, fish out the herb bundle and discard. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until smooth (you can also do it carefully in batches in a blender). Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you want a creamier soup, stir in the heavy cream and leave to warm through.

Variations:

Add 1 tablespoon curry powder to the vegetables, omit the herbs, and stir in 1/2 cup coconut milk instead of heavy cream.

Add a small can of chopped green chiles to the vegetables, omit the herbs

Stir in a can of rinsed and drained cannellini beans 20 minutes before the end of cooking time and warm through.

Stir in some cooked pasta or rice at the end of cooking until warmed through.

30 minutes before the cooking time ends, stir in some finely chopped spinach and cook until wilted and warmed through.