Friday, September 2, 2011

0 Why cut out processed foods?

As I've mentioned I have almost always cooked from scratch, I enjoy cooking, prefer the taste and know what I'm eating is better for me.

But I have on occasion fallen into the processed food trap. Sometimes it's because I've worked from 8 am to 8 pm, for six days in a row and all I want to do is take a bath, eat and watch TV.  So it's convenient to throw a frozen pizza in the oven.  Or, sometimes it's because I'm having a huge dinner party and the last things I want to do are peel fruit and wash more dishes when all I have to do is pop a frozen apple pie (in it's own pan) into the oven just before dinner is ready and it's bakes while we're all eating. But I also know doing such things only every once in a while and not daily won't do too much damage to my body either.   

I have always known that eating processed foods doesn't lead to a healthy lifestyle and I really try to avoid that trap. But after reading books like “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” & “In Defense of Food”, watching “Food, Inc.”and “The Future of Food” and reading blogs like “” I've decided to be even more vigilant in eating more healthy and to reach out to others to help promote healthier eating.  Here's a statistic that you may not have heard before - 70% of processed foods have some sort of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)!  The food industry fought against having to label foods as GMO and won...  Stay tuned for future articles to learn specifically about what these processed foods do to you.

Below is a list of reasons why you should cut out processed food.

1.  Making smarter food choices now may reduce healthcare costs later in life.

2.  Cutting out processed foods could lead you to experience a variety of benefits such as having more energy, losing weight, lowering your cholesterol levels, lowering your blood pressure, lowering your risk of getting diabetes, improving regularity, or just feeling healthier. 

3.  Coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer – four of the top ten chronic diseases that kill most of us – “can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food” according to Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food.  

4.  The food industry has proven that it is not very good at seasoning our foods by adding too much salt, sugar, and/or oil to almost everything.   

5.  Processed foods often appear to be healthy (with claims like low fat, low carb, vitamin fortified, no trans fat, etc.) when these foods are in fact the very thing making a lot of Americans unhealthy, sick, and fat.  

6.  Why would you want to eat a processed food-like substance that is scientifically designed to never rot?

7.  When you eat white bread and other foods made with white flour you are basically consuming empty calories with far less nutrition than the whole-wheat or whole grain alternatives.  

8.  It is estimated that up to 90% of processed foods* in the supermarket contain either a corn or soy ingredient in the form of an additive under a variety of different names.

9.  Rather than counting calories, watching fat grams, or reducing carbs for “healthy eating”, simply eat whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry.

10.  It just makes sense to fully understand what you are eating, be able to pronounce everything on the list of ingredients, and know exactly what's in your food.

*Statistic courtesy of a food scientist interviewed on the documentary “Food, Inc”

Here are two of my favorite summer salad recipes and they're super easy, thanks to Aunt Midgie and Grandma Flynn for passing them on to me...

Pickled Beets
4-5 beets cooked and sliced or 1 can of sliced beets (look for plain beets, there is probably salt added get the low sodium if you can)
½ onion sliced thin
¼ c vinegar (I prefer to use rice vinegar it's more mild but you can use white vinegar)

Put the beets and the onion sliced into a bowl, add the vinegar and mix. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour, serve cold.

If you buy pickled beets in a can – read the ingredients!   Beets are already sweet, but you'll find that the processor might have added sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup to the can.


Cucumbers in Sour Cream
2-3 cucumbers sliced thin
1/2 onion or 2-3 scallions sliced thin (optional)
1-2 tsp salt
3 Tbl sour cream
1 Tbl vinegar (again I like rice vinegar but you can use white vinegar as well)
1/4 tsp dill weed

Put the cucumbers in a bowl, add salt, mix. Put another smaller bowl on top and add a weight of some kind (I usually use a small pot full of water). Let sit for about an hour. Drain, rinse and drain again. Get as much water out of them as possible. Add onion, sour cream, vinegar and dill to the cucumbers and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour, serve cold.

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