January 04, 2011

Food Fun

Maybe this isn't exactly nutrition, but I'm cooking dinner right now and while sauteeing some mushrooms, I had a great thought.

Unlimited by budget and seasonal availability, what foods would you eat pretty much all the time?

Mine are Bing cherries and morel mushrooms.


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October 14, 2006

Fast Food Circa 1978

Hey, everybody, think back to the 1970s with me for a bit.

In 1978, I lived in a small town called Kalkaska, MI. Kalkaska was home of very few restaurants, but it did have a McDonald's, which opened up somewhere around 1978. I remember the craze when it debuted, and I was a wee six year-old or so (might be off by a year, but I don't think so).

Now, I was never much of a hamburger fan, found them bland, and that's something from someone who at that age ordered everything plain. In 1978 or so all that was available at McDonald's for someone such as me was a Filet o' Fish, which was introduced in 1963, according to Wikipedia's entry for that particular sandwich. No grilled chicken. Oh, no, nothing like that. No salads. Remember those fries in the paper bags, though? I bet you do.

Now, it's possible that the food attackers were out back in the 1970's, but I was a young one, and it wasn't important. Certainly we didn't go to McDonald's often, but I have some memories of orange-tasting/orange-colored water (on the same tap on the soda fountain, and water's all I drank, lifelong soda hater that I am). Memories of wishing for Happy Meals with something other than those stinking hamburgers. Memories of my first sundae (the eating of which occurred because I had a crush on the pastor's son and everyone else around us wanted one. We were out with that family on a Monday night after Monday School (think Sunday School on Monday night)). McDonald's wasn't vilified, and its menu was nutritionally AWFUL. Is it the Internet that's facilitated the fast food witchhunt? Is it the culture as a whole because we're all fatter (myself included - blame my crazy life during pregnancy). Do we need to shake our fingers at someone to feel better about ourselves?

I spent more than a few meals at McDonald's during the pregnancy. My two big cravings were grapefruit and McDonald's fries (no idea why on either). Since we were home buying, moving, and home selling during my third trimester, it was highly convenient. And, you know what, there's some pretty good food at McDonald's if you find yourself stuck there. Compared to 1978 or so, one can eat a decent meal. Consider too the bottled water (oh what heaven that would've been to a 6 or 7 year-old who was oh-so-tired of that orange-tinged stuff). That's another post entirely, though, how bottled water would've affected my quality of life as a youngster.

Not sure I have a point. Brian and I stopped at McDonald's today for his lunch since Big Macs are $1 each on Cardinal day games. I sampled, er, ate, 7 of his fries and thought all this through. Cravings are long gone, thankfully, but I thought I'd share.


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January 30, 2006

Men and Diets

So CNN has this headline today that made me click in: "NutriSystem lures men with pizza, sex"

And I said to Brian before reading, "I wonder if they make them choose."


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September 18, 2005

Colorado Spice

I like food cooked fairly plainly but with spice. The Foreman grill is great for this, and I've found some really good prepackaged spices that I thought I'd share. Website: Colorado Spice.

I've linked into the sampler pack you can buy online. No MSG - nothing artificial. These are a bit pricy, but you can find them locally by the fish counter at Schnuck's. Well worth it.


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August 28, 2005

Parts is Parts

All white meat chicken?

ATLANTA - Daniel Fletcher has found a way to transform dark meat chicken into white, a scientific advance some purists say has gone too far.

"Leave chicken alone," said Mary Raczka, who's in charge of hospitality at Mary Mac's Tea Room, a prominent Southern-style restaurant in midtown Atlanta that serves more than 500 pounds of fried chicken a week — dark and white meat.

But Fletcher, a University of Georgia poultry science professor, said his other white meat isn't designed to compete with the real thing on restaurant menus or grocery shelves. Instead, it's a filler that can be used to add protein and amino acids to something else, such as chicken nuggets.

The recipe involves adding excess water to ground-up dark meat to create a kind of meat soup, then spinning the mixture around in a tub at high speed. The centrifugal force makes the mixture settle into layers of fat, water, and extracted meat, which can be molded into breast-like patties of all-white meat.

Is that supposed to elicit a "Yum?"


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August 25, 2005

Today's Obesity Commentary

Reading the newspapers this last year or so, I get this impression that journalists are trying to convey that obesity is as simple to "catch" as the common cold. And as quick to manifest itself on unwary souls.

And I really have to laugh at that. What poor schmuck doesn't notice that he's gaining weight. Wow, Jim Bob, you really need to do something, that belt doesn't have another notch. I mean, come on now. There's no Metamorphosis going on here. Gregor woke up one morning...and he was...FAT. Uh, no.

Equally silly is this journalistic "newness" applied to obesity "treatment" - CNN has an article that seeks to carry an air of novelty when it suggests that cycling might curb obesity. Move more, eat less, wow, there you have it in simple form. Even McDonald's gets that.

I guess, in a nutshell (don't eat that - just the nut), what really gets me with the "poof, you're fat" mindset is that the problem has been taken off the individual and put to society. As if we can actually say, SOCIETY, it's your fault Timmy's fat.

I hold out one hope even in this continuing trend to blame everyone but the Twinkee stuffer. Video games. You're scratching your head, but with EyeToy and long until virtual reality's in the living room. To defeat the bad guy and have the ultimate time, you're going to have to sweat. And once kids (and adults) are sweating, the endorphins will kick in.

Ok, one last thing. Blaming the food industry. Forget it. I'm not defending the food industry, but, see, there's this free will thing. You choose what goes in your mouth. You choose for your family, so be responsible. If you have a day where you eat everything in sight, make sure you see healthy things. (I sorta had one of those, but I hope to use it to my advantage when I attempt a century (not sure if it's metric or imperial yet...will know at the lunch point how far I'm going to go) on my bike on Saturday. But that extra 500 calories I downed today, my fault, not Snyder's Pretzels of Hanover, not Great Harvest Bread Company, not Perdue chicken. Nope, all Heather Noggle.

I'd better not wake up fat tomorrow. Better pay the obesity fairy.


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August 24, 2005

New Hobby

I've been on this kick of trying to eat natural food (devoid of preservatives, few ingredients on label if it's storebought) lately. I've brought out the breadmaker, been making desserts, etc. Something I'd never done until recently, though, is make my own salad dressing.

I have this habit of buying Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette and then draining off about 5/6 of the oil and declaring it good. That's very acidic when I get done, so one doesn't need very much at all. But I tried my hand at a few of my own dressings here lately, and, mmm, quite good. Here's the best one yet, though gentler folk might want to up the oil a bit.

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 clove (not head) of garlic, run through press
1/8 to 1/4 of dry teaspoon mustard
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

It packs a punch, for sure, but it was mighty tasty.


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August 15, 2005

Bottle That

Bottled water. What does it mean to you? To me, all I can do is wish it was around when I was growing up, non-soda-drinker that I've been for 33 years now. I like the fact that it's portable. That you can buy it anywhere, from the movies to ball games to the cooler at Walgreens.

The City of Milwaukee (and other cities) want you to reconsider tap water, though. I have no qualms with tap water - usually drink it at dinner. The though just amuses me. How do you put a spin on tap water?

The utilities' message to consumers: Our product is as good as what's found on store shelves — and less expensive. The utilities hope to make a few bucks and help their ratepayers in the process.

"People should not have to spend an exorbitant amount for quality water," said Ken Blomberg, executive director of the Wisconsin Rural Water Association, which promotes the sale of bottled municipal water as a less-expensive alternative to the commercially bottled product.
What is the "sale of bottled municipal water"? How do you brand that? I'd try it. I'd also pay a premium for safe reusable bottles that are shaped like the ones I use that come from commercial products (our brand of choice is Ice Mountain, which comes out to 15 cents or so a bottle when we buy at Sam's Club).

Propel, made by Gatorade folk, now has a competitor. Powerade has its own version of the flavored low-calorie, vitamin-fortified water. Powerade Option. Same calories as in Propel (10 per serving) - better taste on its Lemon product. The black cherry's pretty tasty, too. Dunno about the strawberry. Propel's got many more flavors, though, and it's been in the market longer.

Just thoughts.


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August 13, 2005

These Times They Are a Changin'

Would this have been newsworthy before the fall of Atkins? The thought amuses me.

Feds Aren't Subsidizing Recommended Foods

WASHINGTON - The government says half your diet should be fruits and vegetables, but it doesn't subsidize the farmers who grow them. Instead, half of all federal agriculture subsidies go to grain farmers, whose crops feed animals for meat, milk and eggs and become cheap ingredients in processed food.

What's wrong with that?

"Obesity. That's clearly the problem, if you look at the outcome in today's society," said Andy Fischer, executive director of the Community Food Security Coalition, a Venice, Calif., advocacy group.

Ha ha ha. The food pyramid changes, and now all of a sudden protein strikes us with overnight obesity.

The article then breaks down farm subsidies by type. 1.5 billion for tobacco. Disgusting. Perhaps that's what Mr. Fischer should decry. That clearly doesn't aid anyone's diet.


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August 11, 2005

Not New Fat City

Ok, New York, you're probably going too far here.

New York City wants restaurants to narrow their list of ingredients — and maybe some waistlines — by cutting out trans fats. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said the voluntary change could also help fight the city's biggest killer, heart disease.

To comply, chefs would have to dump many margarines and frying oils, and possibly reworking long-held recipes for baked goods.

Do I want it labelled? You bet. I'd love to see full nutrition specs on every meal I eat. But banning ingredients? Tsk. And what's next, no Crisco in the grocery stores?

I'll clarify my stance on all of this. What people put into their own bodies (alcohol, cigarettes, food, drugs) - not my business. The only reason I get so worked up about smoking is because the byproducts affect my air when I'm around a smoker. And there are certain expectations in life where one is trapped with smoking smokers, sadly. A trans fat eater - no way to affect me.

This is way overstepping the bounds of what government should do.


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August 04, 2005

So Long Atkins Diet

So I'm a ways behind reporting that Atkins Pharamceuticals is now bankrupt defunct. Good riddance.

There's an article today from yesterday I found on CNN that says no new diet has risen to the fore. And that's probably a good thing, too.

Some are counting the minutes between meals or checking a food's glycemic index. And old-school calorie counting continues to have its followers.

This week's bankruptcy filing by the late Dr. Robert C. Atkins' old company provide fresh evidence of the low-carb diet's demise, a downward spiral that began early last year. But no single new diet has filled the void.
I'm trying to trim a few, taking advantage of my exercise schedule this year which is a little less weekend warriorish and far more steady. The new, improved food pyramid really seems to have something here. Lots of whole grains, healthy oils. If you haven't visited lately, here it is.

In everyday eating, I'm apt to grab a bowl of raisin bran topped with blackberries and raspberries. It's not exactly a small bowl, either. While this works on days I ride in the morning and burn 600 - 800 calories, I have found I don't actually NEED 350 calories of fiber filled goodness on most mornings. So doing a bit of retooling there. Fewer calories at lunch, too, and a few more in the afternoon. Also trying to nearly wipe packaged foods out of my diet. The fewer ingredients in something store bought, the better. I've gone so far as to make my own salad dressings. This adds some olive oil in. Going to dust off the breadmaker and see what high-fiber concoctions I can come up with.

Just some pre-bike ride thoughts this morning. Don't forget to eat your whole grain bread.


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July 19, 2005

Get Your Flavonoids Here!

More reason to love dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate can not only soothe your soul but can lower blood pressure too, researchers reported Monday.

The study, published by the American Heart Association, joins a growing body of research that show compounds found in chocolate called flavonoids can help the blood vessels work more smoothly, perhaps reducing the risk of heart disease.
I bet that's why mine's so good. Makes me want to order some! Honey, I promise this shipment won't be too heavy to lift.


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July 05, 2005

Fat Soldiers?

Interesting article of off the AP today. Military Concerned about Troops' Weight.

Weight issues plague all branches of the military, from elite Marines to the Air Force, often lampooned as the "chair force" because of its many sedentary jobs.

Thousands of troops are struggling to lose weight, and thousands have been booted out of the service in recent years because they couldn't.

However, one of the biggest worries concerns those not even in uniform yet: Nearly 2 out of 10 men and 4 out of 10 women of recruiting age weigh too much to be eligible, a record number for that age group.

"This is quickly becoming a national security issue for us. The pool of recruits is becoming smaller," said Col. Gaston Bathalon, an Army nutrition expert.

Unless weight rules are relaxed, "we're going to have a harder time fielding an Army," he said.

Today's soldiers are supersized, averaging 37 pounds heavier than their Civil War counterparts. Military officials say that's not all bad, because most of it is muscle, not fat, and the result of better nutrition. "Large and in charge" makes soldiers look more formidable to the enemy, they note.
And what are weight guidelines for the Army (article's focus is mostly Army and Air Force)? Article doesn't say, so I did some digging.

Here's an Excel chart. has more info. For my age group and height I'd pass.

The Excel chart shows acceptable body fat %, too, which is far more telling.

This leads to a funny story that I thought Brian already related on his blog...about his mother making weight as a Marine. I can't find it on Google, though, so here's the short version.

My mother-in-law will never be accused of weighing too much. As a young woman on her way to weigh in for the Marines, she ate several pounds of bananas (I think it was even on the back of a truck or something) on her way there. She made it in, but Brian didn't grow up around a bunch of bananas.


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February 20, 2005


What are scallions? How about shallots? I at least see the latter labelled at the supermarket. No such luck with scallions, though, and lots of recipes call for them. Help!


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February 18, 2005

None and Zero Are Different

Frito-Lay's got a website. You may have seen it - it proclaims thus:
0 Grams Trans Fats
Frito-Lay adding 0 Grams Trans Fats message to Tostitos products. There's a link for more.

Take the link, and here's what you get.
In the coming months, the "0 grams trans fat" message will appear on other Frito-Lay snacks including Lay's, Ruffles, Doritos, Fritos and Cheetos.

"Consumers today are becoming increasingly aware of foods containing trans fats," said Stephen Quinn, chief marketing officer, Frito-Lay. "Frito-Lay is now adding the '0 grams trans fat' message on the front of the bag to help consumers make informed snacking choices."
Back up a bit before I get into why I'm writing this. Trans fats are created by hydrogenation, and they were at the supposed healthier alternative to saturated fat. You know it as margarine versus butter. But they're not the most natural thing, and debate has sometimes swayed the opposite and stood in the corner with butter (if one must partake).

So, if consumers are to be concerned - and they should be. WebMD and others agree that there's no known "safe" intake amount of trans fats, would you not want to avoid them at all - or almost at all - if given the choice? The answer to this also appears to be yes - trans fat content will appear on nutrition labels in 2006, by law.

Many companies are jumping the gun on this - affixing proud labels to their pristine products. Frito-Lay's not the exception. But it's not telling the whole story.

Zero grams doesn't mean none.

How does one currently identify trans fats within a packaged product? Well, companies such as Frito-Lay who are meeting the requirement early put the number of grams within the nutrition label. But, as I stated, this isn't everything. You read the nutrition label and stop, and you figure "none." You read the ingredients, however, and the answer is "not exactly."

The words "partially hydrogenated x oil" (x is often soybean) indicate the presence of trans fats? Check this out.

Do you see it? I tried to leave the images big enough so that Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil stood out for you.

Stinkers. They're making a big deal out of something that is true to labelling standards (less than .5 grams) but doesn't satisfy me, the one who's trying to make the label-mentioned "Smart Choice."

Tostitos bags say the same thing but truly have 0 grams - no mention of hydrogenation.

If you didn't click into the WebMD link, here's what the most important part says:
How much trans fat is safe? No one really knows. Kava says that the prestigious Institute of Medicine reported that there isn't enough research yet to recommend a safe amount of trans fats. "We know that like saturated fats, trans fats can raise bad cholesterol but there is conflicting data about what it does to good cholesterol," she says. "I wish the data were stronger."

The FDA, while requiring manufacturers to put the amount of trans fats on nutrition labels, will not require a % daily value (DV) for trans fat because there is not enough information at this time to establish a such a value, she says. Food labels do offer such information about saturated fats.

Nabisco Wheat Thins completely removed this type of fats from the product. The result? Crunches just a bit different, but still very tasty. Its advertising claim is also 0 grams trans fat. And it's not kidding.

Just thought you should know.

hln Just thought I'd bring it up.

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December 17, 2004


I'd never heard of this, and apparently (concluded because of the lack of search results on Google), it's a new proclamation, but...

How'd you like a diet that supposedly adds years to your life and wants you to eat two of your favorite indulgences daily? Sign me up.

The Polymeal includes wine, fish, dark chocolate, fruits and vegetables, almonds and garlic, eaten on a daily basis (but four times a week for fish). Scientists reviewed the medical literature on how much each ingredient cuts heart disease, blood pressure or cholesterol levels by varying amounts, (150ml wine daily for instance reduces heart disease by 32%) and worked out the combined effect of the ingredients. They then calculated the potential effect across an ongoing study of American adults.
Wine? Dark chocolate? YUM! I like fish, fruits, veggies, almonds, and garlic, too. Wine and dark chocolate together: heaven. Fireplace and mood music optional.

A couple of different sources on this. First, that paragraph quoted came from Medial News Today. The fun source, though, is translated from Chinese. It gives some good advice (as well as approximate portions; unfortunately, they're in grams and milliliters.

But, the advice.

Adverse effects reported for garlic include malodorous breath and body odour, so researchers do not recommend taking the Polymeal before a romantic rendezvous.
Which means eat your garlic (and know the difference between a head and a clove) early in the day and your wine and dark chocolate in the evening. By the fire - I've changed my mind. That's not optional.

Back on topic. I made a list of all of my favorite fruits and veggies, vowed to add broccoli (even if I have to eat it raw - it's a superfood...don't much like it, but I can do it). Also adding apples - going to get myself a good paring knife (because I really like apples but hate to bite into them - and carry it with me (but the airport) so that apple eating is possible wherever I go.

Fish - a bit short on fish recipes, but I imagine that'll change. I'll only do fish twice a week for dinner and do the other two times as lunches for me unless Brian thinks this is a good idea. Unfortunately, St. Louis' best fish market isn't exactly proximate. But a once-a-week trip should be doable.

Downside of this diet? Obvious. Can you say EXPENSIVE? Fish ain't cheap. Produce isn't half bad, but wine and good dark chocolate - not cheap either. Not a problem for us - we already buy good healthy food.

I'm excited.


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August 12, 2004

Common Sense

Not many changes proposed for the food pyramid and nutrition recommendations surrounding it. The consensus? America - get off your collective ass and MOVE.

The highlights? Eat more whole grains, more fruits and veggies. Eliminate trans fats, and keep saturated fat intake low. I could've written this. It's very good rational advice.

Trans fats lurk everywhere. Just about every brand of chips and crackers - common snack food. Microwave popcorn's full of it. The words "partially hydrogenated" are your clue.

But back to a key thing. It's never been that the food pyramid is too complicated. It's that people don't place value in it. I like the proposed changes, the specifics where they're needed. But it's still no panacea; nothing will be.


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June 08, 2004

CSPI: Miami and Everywhere Else

Jazz Food Police are looking through my folders...

Welcome, readers, to this edition of the show where we beat up Margo Wootan and Kelly Brownell. It's the least we can do.

Today's article is brought to us by Reuters, and it stars the FTC. An offical - the head of the organization - had the audacity to state that banning junk food ads that someone has deemed as "aimed at children" (note da scare quotes) is not the answer. Amazing. Really?
Prohibiting ads for unhealthy foods "is impractical, ineffective and illegal" under the First Amendment, which protects free speech, said Timothy Muris, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.

"I think banning marketing is a distraction. Even our dogs and cats are fat ... and it's not because they're watching too much advertising," Muris said at an obesity conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, sponsored by Time magazine and ABC News.
That's right - our pets are fat! Blame that on little Johnny's tv habits. But happy Margo of the Woo-Tan Clan informs us that parents feel "outgunned" (forget the whippersnappers! We've got guns! [a very old silly private joke]) by Big Advertising.


Margo, are you just trying to make Kelly feel better because he's fat? It's not his fault, you know. It's those damned long hours he puts in trying to make Americans take less responsibility for their food habits. Really. (See last week's time magazine if you want some wisdom bits (and a photo) of sedentary perky Kelly Brownell. (p. 83, 6/7/04 issue). (If I had to caption the picture, I'd say "You can't discredit me; I'm a YALE psychologist!")

Oh, a bit off the tilt, but Kelly is THE big dog proponent of the so-called (to piss of Brian) "fat tax." He's the author of (in case you missed it: Food Fight (haven't picked that one up yet). In Time, it's noted that a penny-a-can tax could produce 1.5 billion in anti-obesity money. (Or...something those tax tides turn. Anybody remember da tobacco settlement?).

Rest of the above-noted article doesn't tell you anything you don't already know. So move along, now. Y'know, burn some calories.


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May 27, 2004

Herby Health

Cilantro. Killer. (of bacteria).

Too bad I hate it. And I do mean hate. Tastes like dish soap. (Don't ask how I know).

Indulge if you like it, though. Could stop Salmonella, purveyor of severe vomiting and dehydration.


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May 20, 2004

Heather N. the Cereal Killer

Special K pisses me off. The website uses words like "nutrition" and markets itself as this wonder for anyone who's got a few pounds to drop. I've got a few words for Special K.


It dances right around that with marketing text.
It's the cereal that started it all. Special K® lightly toasted rice flakes have just the right amount of crunch and substance to start the day off right. One serving holds eleven essential vitamins and minerals your body needs with a generous taste that satisfies. Kellogg's® Special K® is the cereal that puts you in a healthy frame of mind that includes eating smart all day long for a healthy way of life.
Oh, and it makes you click a nutritional info link TWICE before it gives you the reading. Here, click and click again.

Less than 1 gram of dietary fiber? What a crock.

Remember Total and it's "you'd have to eat 4 bowls of blah blah blah" to get the fiber in one bowl of total? You'd still have to eat 3+ bowls of Special K to get the whopping minute number of 3 grams in Total's new low-carb touted Total Protein. Uh, chances are that if you're living in America, you don't need more protein. But, perhaps I'm wrong and vegans are dancing everywhere with their milkless cereal.

Best two I've found so far are Post Raisin Bran at 8 grams per serving (Kellogg's has 7)and Kashi Cinna-Raisin Crunch (buy 10 boxes now!) at 10 grams per serving. We need fiber, people. Study after study has shown that fiber fills (and keeps that pesky colon cancer at bay). 25 grams per day - fiber recommendation.

We eat whole wheat pasta at the Noggle household. I prefer the texture of it, and, wow, what a benefit - 5 grams of fiber per serving. In a typical 2.5 serving dinner, check it out - that's 12 grams of fiber. (And then, of course, burn those carbs - that's what they're for!)

If you know of other high fiber cereals, tell me. Has to be at least 8 grams per serving. When I've got some spare time, I'll put a fruit/veggie fiber count per serving chart up.


Posted by hln at 02:50 PM | Comments (10)

April 23, 2004


Look here - everything you ever wanted to know about garlic.

Why is this so stunningly important now? Because today I learned the difference between a head and a clove. I used to think the head WAS the clove. No wonder the kitchen smelled for 6 days after cooking with garlic.


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April 20, 2004

Carbs - Balance

Wow, people more qualified than me are extolling the virtues of a balanced diet.

Carbs. Whole grains. Fiber. Good.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two studies presented on Sunday confirm the benefits of a varied, wholesome diet and call into question the wisdom of low-carb and other fad diets that limit what kinds of foods people can eat.

In one, a team at cereal-maker General Mills found men and women who ate three or more daily servings of whole grain foods were the least likely to be overweight or obese.

In a second, university-based researchers found people who ate a variety of foods were more likely to get the recommended levels of vitamins and other nutrients than people who stuck to a few favorite foods.

Both studies were presented by the American Association of Nutritional Sciences at a joint conference in Washington called Experimental Biology 2004.

Dr. Carolyn Good and colleagues at General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition in Minneapolis looked at 9,000 men and women taking part in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes.

This nationwide study collects information on the consumption of whole grains -- found in packaged cereals, whole-grain breads and crackers. Processed white flour, for example, does not count as a whole grain.
This goes out to all that brown rice, Kashi Good Friends, and Post Raisin Bran that I consume on a regular basis. Metamucil avoidance. Atkins eschewing, fiber chewing.

Carbs. Eat them. Burn them. Live.


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April 13, 2004


Seems every 10th headline in my RSS aggregator about health has to do with some state and/or city and obesity battles. Here's the rundown.

Little Rock, Arkansas - running BMI tests on its students.

Douglas County, Nebraska - people are fat/or depressed, and they're sexually unhealthy. What a trifecta.

West Virginia - fatter than average. This article's "largely" quotes from women trying to doff poundage.

But it was here's the most interesting thing; we're not getting taller as we get wider. How interesting.
Around the time of the Civil War, Americans’ heights predictably decreased: Union soldiers dropped from sixty-eight to sixty-seven inches in the mid-eighteen-hundreds, and similar patterns held for West Point cadets, Amherst students, and free blacks in Maryland and Virginia. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, the country seemed set to regain its eminence. The economy was expanding at a dramatic rate, and public-hygiene campaigns were sweeping the cities clean at last: for the first time in American history, urbanites began to outgrow farmers.

Then something strange happened. While heights in Europe continued to climb, Komlos said, “the U.S. just went flat.” In the First World War, the average American soldier was still two inches taller than the average German. But sometime around 1955 the situation began to reverse. The Germans and other Europeans went on to grow an extra two centimetres a decade, and some Asian populations several times more, yet Americans haven’t grown taller in fifty years. By now, even the Japanese—once the shortest industrialized people on earth—have nearly caught up with us, and Northern Europeans are three inches taller and rising.

The average American man is only five feet nine and a half—less than an inch taller than the average soldier during the Revolutionary War. Women, meanwhile, seem to be getting smaller. According to the National Center for Health Statistics—which conducts periodic surveys of as many as thirty-five thousand Americans—women born in the late nineteen-fifties and early nineteen-sixties average just under five feet five. Those born a decade later are a third of an inch shorter.

Just in case I still thought this a trivial trend, Komlos put a final bar graph in front of me. It was entitled “Life Expectancy 2000.” Compared with people in thirty-six other industrialized countries, it showed, Americans rank twenty-eighth in average longevity—just above the Irish and the Cypriots (the Japanese top the rankings). “Ask yourself this,” Komlos said, peering at me above his reading glasses. “What is the difference between Western Europe and the U.S. that would work in this direction? It’s not income, since Americans, at least on paper, have been wealthier for more than a century. So what is it?”
Read the whole thing.


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March 29, 2004

Ah, a Comment

Lovely - on one of my early Atkins-related posts.
lady your wrong diet has everything to do with your heart ample supply of the right nutrients and a viral infection wouldn't be stop listening to docters start thinking for yourself for once.
I must concede to this obvious expert. After all, he or she has redefined the proper usage of "your" for "you're" and the spelling of doctors.

Forgive me for not thinking for myself. Perhaps I should set an hour of my gym time a day aside to do nothing but stuff myself with little preprocessed no-carb snacks made by the Atkins marketers. During this time I can sit cross-legged on the floor and ask forgiveness for the error of my ways. No more carb-filled fruit for me; I'm a changed woman.

The sarcasm runs pretty think on Monday. In other news, there are geese running across the roof here at work. Perhaps I should go outside to see if they are obese, and, if not, ask them what they eat. If I see any low-carb packaging in their beaks (seed-cracking or worm-stabbing beaks, Brian?) I'll let you know.

I love carbs.


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March 09, 2004

UK GM and Fingers (Not Chicken Fingers)

Our friends in Great Britain have okayed some genetically modified corn destined for a bright future as cattle feed. Big news, actually.
Britain's first genetically modified commercial crop will be Chardon LL maize, a type of corn crop used for cattle feed that is manufactured by Cropscience, a unit of Germany's Bayer. The crop will not be planted until spring 2005 at the earliest, Beckett told the House of Commons.

Chardon LL is not grown in any European Union (news - web sites) countries, but similar varieties have been grown in the United States for several years.

Spain is the only European Union country to plant significant amounts of biotech crops, with 79,000 acres of genetically modified corn in 2003, up a third from 2002.
This particular "flavor" of corn is genetically modified to be resistant to herbicides. British experts of their own flavors, of course, are quoted complete with dissenting opinion. I mean, isn't it obvious, it's the gentically modified crops that have made America so obese. GM food is the cause of all ills that plague this country.

While reading a sister article, I learned that Greenpeace is furious. Greenpeace - whales. Concentrate on the whales. Welcome to rational thought, UK government. May your people and "experts" soon follow suit in learning the process.

"The government has given the thumbs up to GM maize and shown two fingers to the British public," said Friends of the Earth (news - web sites) director Tony Juniper. "Tony Blair must not ignore the threat GM poses to our food, farming and the environment."
Yeah, two fingers. Like, as in lovely British obscene gesture. As demonstrated here. (Click that - it's a "can't miss.")

In a complete unrelated story that now must emerge, a British online friend explained the two-finger thing to me once. I'll see if I can find that for you. Ah, yes, here we are.

The original tale said that after Agincourt (or maybe Crecy - it depends on which version you find) the English cut off the first two fingers from the hands of captured French bowmen, to prevent them from drawing a bow again. The English subsequently used the "two finger salute" as a jeering gesture at French soldiers.

But, wait, wasn't I using all ten of my fingers to tell you about Greenpeace? Aye, I was. Naaa - nevermind. Unimportant.


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March 03, 2004

Where Capitalism and Obesity Meet...

McDonald's is phasing out super-sizing! Yeah, what's that mean? Less food for your money, solider. But it's for public health! Now, to get the same amount of food, it's less of a value and more menually (is that a word) difficult to obtain.

The hamburger giant has started phasing out its trademark Supersize fries and drinks in its U.S. restaurants as part of an effort to simplify its menu and give customers choices that support a balanced lifestyle, a company spokesman said Tuesday.
Chew on that instead of your extra fries and drink. And whistle the balanced food cost "simplified" menu song.

And this dude?
An award-winning documentary called "Super Size Me" has heaped on more unwanted publicity for McDonald's. The documentary, which chronicles the deterioration of filmmaker Morgan Spurlock's health during a monthlong experiment eating nothing but McDonald's food, won a directing prize at the Sundance Film Festival and is set for wide release this spring.
Moron. Apple muffin in the morning, big salad for lunch, grilled chicken sandwich, no mayo for dinner. You actually probably need more food than that - two grilled chicken sandwiches for dinner - hold the top bun on one. Let me guess that's NOT what he ate during his month. May his girth and intelligence increase.


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February 18, 2004

Quote(s) of the Week

"People want to eat from the time they get up till the time they go to sleep. And by the way, no exercise, please," Romano said. "It's all about proportion, it's all about balance."
Source? Pasta fights back. Speaker? Michael Romano, executive chef of New York's Union Square Cafe.

My favorite brow-furrower from the article:
Colette Heimowitz, the Atkins organization's research director, denied that the Atkins Diet is risky or a fad. "It's amazing how Atkins is blamed for everything," she said by phone from New York.

"If people could have moderation in everything that'd be wonderful," Heimowitz said. "We wouldn't have this discussion. But people won't, they don't, they can't. They need other options to reach their weight goals."
They can't. I see. I guess I'll have to reverse my views on personal responsibility. I mean, how can you expect a human to live within his means financially, exercise, eat and drink responsibly, work for a living, and not use tobacco? Can't be done, Colette? Pleh.


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February 17, 2004

Soy Crisps - Product Review

I'm sure I've mentioned these in previous blog entries, but Nacho Cheese Soy Crisps are absolutely the bomb.

I think they're comparable to Dorito's - have a heck of a crunch to 'em. Plus, protein, baby, what every muscle grower needs. If you're monitoring carbs but not throwing them away altogether, also a good snack.

And this site I'm pointing to has them very darned cheap. In the grocery store, I pay $2.69. You can bet I'm placing an order after I save this.


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February 16, 2004

Three Cheers for Campbell

Another snack to add to my arsenal. Goldfish crackers are now acceptable!
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, the cheesy fish-shaped crackers familiar to most Americans, are about to undergo a major makeover, losing their artery-clogging transfatty acids.

Pepperidge Farm parent Campbell Soup Co. is set to announce the change at a food industry conference on Tuesday, marking the first such modification from a big branded cracker line. It comes amid heightened consumer awareness about health and rising obesity rates.
Instead, we get canola and sunflower oils. Much, much better.

Somebody want to buy me a bag of the pizza ones after the changeover? Mmm.


Posted by hln at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2004

Atkins Politics!

Confirmed. No autopsy on Dr. Atkins. I have long wondered that - whether one would be performed, but the man did have a history of heart disease, so I guess he wasn't going to open that can of worms.

Looks like some others did in reminding us of the late Dr. Atkins' cardiovascular system woes. And stirred up a hornet's nest in the meantime.

Atkins Nutritionals (and the widow Atkins) and a bunch of vegetarian doctors. Do you think that perhaps these folks would NEVER agree? I'm thinking that's the case.

Anyway, Yahoo's got an article about the craziness ensuing. It says things like this:
NEW YORK - Dr. Robert Atkins, whose popular diet stresses protein-rich meat and cheese over carbohydrates, weighed 258 pounds at his death and had a history of heart disease, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Atkins died last April at age 72 after being injured in a fall on an icy street.

Before his death, he had suffered a heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a report by the city medical examiner.

At 258 pounds, the 6-foot-tall Atkins would have qualified as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites)'s body-mass index calculator.
You know, newspapers put all of that important info at the top, no? That stuff you JUST CAN'T MISS. If you walk away from the article having read only that, you don't get the whole picture. It later states that no autopsy was performed and that the conclusions were formed only by reviewing medical records created, presumably, when Dr. Atkins was still alive and about yapping about his diet.

For every assertion, the Atkins pharmaceuticals have a loud "BUT!" What that "BUT" is telling you, gentle readers, is that there's still a lot of money to be made with this low-carb diet stuff. As far as the origin of Dr. Atkins' cardiovascular issues, who knows? How likely is it for a human to get cardiomyopathy - or heart infection - as humans quoted in this article asserted caused Atkins' issues? 50,000 Americans have it, according to this website, which appears to be an offshoot of the National Institute of Health.

Okay, I'll buy that's possible. I don't know about likely, though. Hard to glean any facts out of this political mess. So that's what I'll diagnose the situation as - a political mess. So don't expect me to forgo my whole wheat pasta spaghetti for lunch.


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January 24, 2004

More on Atkins and Saturated Fat

On Wednesday or Thursday, Spoons sent me the Atkins folks' rebuttal to the New York Times article.

Essentially, it states thus:
    Atkins has not changed. The basic tenets of the Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM (ANA), consistent since 1972, are to control the intake of carbohydrates, avoid refined carbs (like sugar and white flour), eat a balance of fats (including saturated fat but not trans fats) and consume a variety of protein sources, such as red meat, fish, poultry and tofu. Saturated fat remains a valuable part of the ANA. There is absolutely no scientific research to support any claims that eating red meat and saturated fat as part of your Atkins program is anything other than beneficial. These protocols have been consistently reinforced as safe, effective and beneficial and have been further supported by 17 studies released over the last three years.
I'll give them points for shaking fingers at trans-fats. But that's about it.

And I'll buy most of this.
    Millions of individuals who benefit from doing Atkins understand that the ANA is a very effective four-phase approach to healthy eating. The ANA focuses on moving people away from diets loaded with refined carbohydrates like sugar and white flour to a lifestyle centered around eating whole foods and nutrient-dense carbohydrates like leafy greens, and finding a balance in the consumption of proteins and fat.
Brown rice anyone?


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January 21, 2004

Juicy! Part Two

More Atkins repercussions. Now the orange growers are feeling some stigma.

    LAKELAND, Fla. - Tired of losing orange juice drinkers to low-carb diets, Florida's citrus growers are fighting back.
Can't you just hear that in a Monster Truck commercial voice?

hln hln

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January 20, 2004

Atkins Diet, Ha Ha Ha Ha

Finally, some sense from these people! What, you say? "Watch your saturated fat intake, they say." Darn. I was just weighting, er, waiting for the lawsuits from the doe-eyed, too.

Okay, so I really mean THANK YOU! I take issue with the whole couldn't get the message across bit. I mean, there are several books out there written by Atkins himself and the Atkinettes. How difficult is it to say "Watch. Your. Saturated. Fat. Intake." Not so hard. No one tried to kill me.

In other words, Lileks is going to have to cut down to half a pig at lunch.


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November 26, 2003

Wash Your Produce; Find Bugs Early

One of the stranger things I've read recently:

    BOSTON - Heidi Waite went to the store for grapes. She came home with a poisonous pet. Waite was feeding red seedless grapes to her 1 1/2-year-old daughter this weekend when her father stopped her cold. A black widow spider, the most dangerous type of spider in the United States, was nestled in the bunch of fruit.

    Waite didn't panic. She put the arachnid into her children's bug jar, and has kept it there since.

    "I couldn't come to terms with killing it," she said Tuesday.

    Waite, of Boylston, purchased the California grapes last week at a Shaw's supermarket in Shrewsbury. She said she wanted to get the word out to ensure others are cautious with their grapes.

    In response to venomous discoveries by Waite and another customer who bought grapes at a different store, Shaw's supermarkets, a unit of Britain's J Sainsbury PLC, said it would increase inspection of the fruit at its stores and sell the grapes loose, instead of in bags.

    "As a result of the growers' efforts to reduce the use of pesticides in the industry, the possibility of finding an insect or spider exists," the West Bridgewater-based company said in a statement.

    The current problem of black widow spiders is limited to red grapes because they are currently being harvested, Shaw's said.

    The black widow spider's venom is not usually fatal to humans, because only a minute amount is transmitted. But the bite is extremely painful.
I hate spiders. I'd have freaked out. Are we sure Venemous Kate hasn't moved to Ohio recently because this woman actually dealt with the thing rationally.


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November 25, 2003

Lions, Tigers, and Fat Bears, Oh My!

I couldn't help it. I had to blog it.

    It's no secret that America's adults are getting fat and sedentary. Its children are becoming couch mini-potatoes. Even its pets are overweight.

    Now the fast-food lifestyle is getting to the bears, too.
Yes, really.

    A study of black bears in the Sierra Nevada has found that those animals that live in and around cities and towns are less active than those in wilderness, spending less of their time foraging for food and fewer days in their winter dens. These and other behavioral changes are making the bears heavier.
You know when I had this revelation? It was at McDonald's in Springfield. Brian and I stopped to get an afternoon snack (yeah, I ate a few fries - mmmm), and this well-dressed Bear, perhaps it was N.Z. Bear, ordered FIVE super-sized Big Mac meals. Five! I mean, that's a lot of soda for a bear, no? And I thought to myself -- perhaps bears are the next obese animal. N.Z. - hope you didn't have heartburn, dude.

But, back to the article, that states that garbage is the ultimate in bear-foraged food. This must mean that Americans are throwing away a portion of their super-sized meals? No...could it be? Or perhaps the Whopper wrappers are tasty to Smokey and his kin.

    The researchers, who also are affiliated with the University of Nevada at Reno, attached radio collars to 59 bears and tracked them from week to week. They found that the animals fell into two camps: country bears, which spent almost all of their time in wild lands, and city bears, which lived in residential areas, often right under people's noses. Some city bears denned beneath homeowners' decks or elsewhere in backyards in towns like Incline Village and Stateline, Nev.

    The researchers followed individual bears for 24 hours in the fall to study their foraging habits. In the case of the urban bears, Dr. Beckmann said, that often meant following them from parking lot to parking lot at night while they fished in Dumpsters and garbage cans for their dinner.

    A black bear fattening up for the winter is a glutton, eating upward of 20,000 calories a day. In the study, country bears, forced to roam over wild lands searching for pine cones, troves of berry bushes or the occasional prey, spent more than 13 hours a day foraging. City bears, with all that rich garbage for the taking, spent much less time, an average of about 8.5 hours a day.
Do you remember that video game Rampage? Now I'm thinking of it in terms of bears (instead of more interesting critters like...monsters) ravaging cities for FOOD. And this amuses me. Rack up those points!

But I have to go to work, and a silly snark can only last so long. So here, you aspiring capitalists. Here's a product for you to tout and sell.

    For a bear, weight is not unattractive, or unhealthy, as far as anyone knows. Rather, the problem with eating human food is that it brings bears into contact with humans, and the bears invariably lose. That kitchen-ransacking bear, for example, was destroyed. Many other urban bears are killed by motor vehicles. Nevada, Dr. Beckmann said, has only 300 black bears, and is losing about 10 a year to accidents.

    The solution, he said, is to require or encourage businesses and homeowners to use bear-proof trash containers. In places where they are used, the bears go elsewhere.
Yes, I realize Bears in the cities/our backyards is a bad thing, but that headline had me from hello.

Oh, and remember. Only YOU can prevent Bear Obesity.


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Avoid the Norwegian Fish Delicacy


    Fish in seas near a Norwegian Arctic city are getting an unexpectedly strong cocktail of caffeine and painkillers from local sewers, a scientist said on Monday.

    SOME SAMPLES TAKEN very close to a sewer outlet near a psychiatric hospital also showed measurable amounts of anti-epileptic drugs and anti-depressants.

    “We don’t know what effect this is having on the environment,” said Ole-Anders Braathen, head of department at the Norwegian Institute of Air Research which led the study of waters off the city of Tromsoe.

    “The measurements showed surprisingly high doses, especially of caffeine,” he told Reuters, adding that caffeine and drugs flushed from city sewers may take longer to break down in icy Arctic waters than further south.
Can you imagine their behavior?


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November 23, 2003

Atkins Watch

As I have long suspected there would be, negative articles about the Atkins diet are circulating through the news feeds.

My focus on this post is going to be on what isn't being said in this particlar article, though.

    Jody Gorran was proud of his 32-inch waistline -- until a heart scan showed an artery had become almost entirely blocked during the two years he was on the Atkins diet.

    Lisa Huskey was happy about being on a diet with her 16-year-old daughter, Rachel, until Rachel dropped dead from a heart arrhythmia in class.

    Both say the high-fat, high-protein approach advocated by the Atkins diet was responsible.

    "What I contend is that the Atkins diet gave me heart disease," Gorran said at a news conference sponsored by the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. "I traded a 32-inch waist for heart disease."
The article later discusses both cases individually. I'm going to focus on Gorran.

    Gorran said when he started the diet, his total cholesterol level was a very low 148. In May 2001 it had gone up to 230. Anything above 200 is considered unhealthy.

    A scan of his arteries before he started the diet had shown no evidence of heart disease.

    "Two and a half years later, after being on the Atkins diet for that length of time, I had heart disease," the 53-year-old Florida businessman said.

    A new scan showed one artery was 90 percent blocked.

    Three weeks ago, Gorran had an angioplasty -- a procedure to clear his clogged artery. A mesh tube called a stent was inserted to keep his artery clear.
Smoker? Non-smoker? Heart disease in his family? Previous scan ever conducted? We don't know. All possible factors/contributors/exacerbators.

For Huskey, we don't know what she weighed from this article, arrythmia can occur naturally and/or be caused by multiple factors, and, well, I just don't see much here. I believe three high school-aged kids at my school in the 80's died during athletic activities, usually because of hidden heart conditions.

In another article from November 20, 2003, CBS mentions Dr. Neal Barnard from the Physicians (sic) Committee for Responsible Medicine. Dr. Barnard is a raving vegetarian (no, those two words don't always go together), so you can guess he's not a meat-friendly chap. I also think he and his organization might carry a bit o' bias, you?

PCRM conducted an online survey - which the article and I must point out are not exactly strong scientific evidence. Still, it made the news. Dissent!

What I agree with?
    Because fiber is found only in plant foods, and high-protein, high-fat, carbohydrate-restricted diets tend to be low in plant foods, these diets are also typically low in fiber. Low fiber intake is associated with increased risk of colon cancer and other malignancies, heart disease, diabetes and constipation.

    Some high-protein, very-low-carbohydrate, weight-loss diets are designed to induce ketosis, a state that also occurs in uncontrolled diabetes mellitus and starvation.

    When carbohydrate intake or utilization is insufficient to provide glucose to the cells that rely on it as an energy source, ketone bodies are formed from fatty acids. An increase in circulating ketones can disturb the body's acid-base balance, causing metabolic acidosis. Even mild acidosis can have potentially deleterious consequences over the long run.

    For these reasons, high-protein, high-fat, low-fiber and carbohydrate-restricted diets, such as the Atkins Diet, especially when used for prolonged periods, are expected to increase the risk of multiple chronic diseases and other health problems, despite the weight loss that may accompany their use, Barnard says.
I say this just about every time I write about it - Atkins may cause you to drop weight, but what you may be trading...we don't really know yet. Common sense from nutrition knowledge - what we already know - would agree with these statements.


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November 19, 2003

KFC for Your Health

Uh, did you folks at Foote, Cone & Belding rent Crazy People and then twist the results a bit?

Reuters (and everyone else, really) has the scoop.
    - Regulators at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission are examining the validity of health claims made in advertisements for KFC's fried chicken, advertisements that the chain plans to pull on Friday.

    An FTC spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that the agency has begun looking into a complaint by health advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest that calls the KFC ads deceptive and misleading.

    It is the latest blow to a fast-food chain trying to fix disappointing sales and marketing messages that have failed to strike a chord with consumers. KFC's sales have fallen in 13 of the last 16 months and the company's management was recently overhauled.

    The KFC television ads, which were touted in a press release last month titled "KFC sets the record straight," try to position fried chicken as a component of a balanced diet and as a healthier alternative to Burger King's Whopper sandwich.
"Healthier alternative?" SCOFF! Here's how you make fried chicken at KFC, ladies and gentlemen.

You have a big tub of flour with herbs and spices in it. You have a bunch of chicken. You double-bread the chicken using the "method" (which I'll not divulge), and then you "rack" the chicken on a round basket to go into the Collectramatic. The chicken is immersed in oil (mostly likely trans fatty acids; the shortening was in liquid format as recent as 1994 - the last I can attest) for 14 to 17 minutes, depending on the number of chix in da cooker. Then, the chicken comes "up," and you open the pressure fryer (slowly, please, gently releasing pressure), lift the chicken up with a special hook, and place the hook in a position for the chicken to drain. Drain for a few minutes - preferably more than one. Voila - fried chicken.

Veritable picture of health, no? But let's look at that...healthier. Living...healthier than dead. Emphysema? Probably healthier than cancer-ridden. Gangrene? Healthier to have it in one toe rather than three. Healthier.

    "Our ads simply set the record straight by providing consumers accurate information and facts about KFC's Original Recipe fried chicken and how it can be part of a balanced diet," said KFC spokeswoman Bonnie Warschauer. "However, we're not in a position to comment on FTC affairs."
Positioning KFC as a tradition or a picnic food - sure. "Balanced diet?" Come on, lady - look at the existing food pyramid. See that fats and oils section? says something like that, no? KFC is a treat. KFC for life...uh, no.

    One of the two ads at issue features a couple affirming their dedication to eating better--as the woman sets down a bucket of fried chicken. The ad notes that two pieces of its chicken breasts have less fat than a Whopper.

    The second ad focuses on chicken as a low-carbohydrate, high-protein food fit for dieters trying to cut down on carbs.

    Other fast-food chains, like McDonald's Corp., have had success by developing new, healthier options like salads.
Okay. I read this twice. Laughter ensued. "Dedication to EATING BETTER?" Huh? Were there mounds of Whopper wrappers rotting in the background? And two chicken breasts have less fat than a Whopper? So?

The low-carb option cracks me up, too. Is there some fun small print mentioning that the "double-breaded chicken" probably isn't the best low carb fare in restaurant America? I'll bet there are instructions to remove the skin and all of the KFCness that makes KFC, well, KFC.

And the last sentence is the kicker - the part that adds maniacal to the laughter. Salad...fried chicken.

Nice comparison. And, hmm, I actually agree with the CSPI. Hard not to on this one.


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August 26, 2003


This post has been in the making for a while now.

First, I'd like to discuss fat, fat, and fat. We've seen different articles floating about the Internet news - this state, that country. Obesity is a visible, high-ranking developed-world problem. That being said, I read this article yesterday.

It has a nice breakdown of the viewponts of personal responsibility versus evil corporations who prey on mindless people. I, of course, agree with "You're fat. Your fault." At the end of this article, there's this quote.

    The system is complex and there are many layers of control," she said. "Genetics loads the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger."
The she here is Ruth Kava of the American Council of Science and Health. Genetics, eh? You think fat kids from a fat family don't "learn" a few environmental factors along the way, too?

I digress before I really get started. Today, I found this.
    Faced with an epidemic of expanding waistlines as the Irish enjoy unprecedented prosperity, Health Minister Micheal Martin confirmed he was "very tentatively" examining slapping a levy on high-fat comestibles.
Mmm! Tax. And this isn't your traditional "vice tax." We all do have to eat, you know. And, as many of us probably don't know (merely due to lack of attention paid), some of the "fattiest" fatty foods are not what you would expect.

Almonds, pecans, and cashews! Oh My!

Yep - one serving of pecans feeds your body 220 calories and 19.2 grams of fat. Now, granted 60% of the fat is monounsaturated and 30% is polyunsaturated. These little pups might carry some awesome tax, no? But I doubt anyone governmental would think of it, thankfully, being too focused on the Big Macs and little White Castles we humans CHOOSE to consume.


So, fat. Fat makes you fat, right? No. Calories In - Calories Expended. This is either a positive or a negative number. If you want to watch your weight, watch your calories. Monitor your activity. Learn the burn. Obviously, metabolism plays a factor in how many calories a human expends, but exercise and a healthy/balanced diet have a broader, more pronounced effect (on your metabolism, too). More muscle = more metabolism (to feed the muscle).

I'm done with fat now. I'm on to carbs.

With the low-carb diet fervor, I find it amusing that governments and political watchdog agencies are frothing at the mouth about fat. But the most famous of the low-carb diets, the Atkins diet, makes me roll my eyes as quickly as some of the political fat rhetoric.

First, the low-down on Atkins, complete with sources. I'll give the sources, first. These comprise a small collection of differing opinions.

Needless to say, this is a tiny example. People are fervent and passionate about this diet. I'll all Phil Kaplan to sum it up here with a focus on glycogen.

    When you consume a healthful and supportive diet complete with proteins, carbs, and fats, the carbohydrates are broken down into glucose. Glucose is actually blood sugar. Some of that glucose is transported and stored in muscle tissue as "glycogen." This is sort of the fuel in your fuel tank. That's important to understand. Glycogen = Fuel.

    Glycogen is used to produce energy that fuels muscle contraction. ALL muscle contraction! Don't think of muscle contraction only as exercise. Any movement requires the contraction of muscle, from blinking your eye to rising from bed in the morning. As long as you're consuming carbohydrates you access and burn up stored glycogen, but quickly replace it with new muscle fuel. An understanding of that simple fact -- that carbohydrates are the source of muscle fuel -- should raise an immediate red flag toward anything that suggests seriously limiting carbs for any extended period of time.

    Once you understand the basic premise behind muscle glycogen, you should understand that the liver also plays a role in fuel storage. Some of the carbs that you eat ultimately wind up stored as liver glycogen. Think of the liver as sort of a "pump" for blood sugar. The brain burns more calories than any other organ in your body, and guess what it uses as its primary source of fuel. Glucose! Carbohydrates! As brain activity results in the "burning" of blood glucose, the liver accesses its glycogen stores to keep blood glucose in adequate supply. Again, as you expend glycogen, the carbs that you ingest replete your supply.
That about sums it up for me. While I may be an extreme case with my crazy 90+ mile bike weekends, average Joe (who gets some exercise) just may suffer from depleted energy and function if he were to try this diet. And any diet that asks me to give up ALL fruit for a week is just nuts.

Atkins also insinuates that you can be "lazy" and still lose weight. But there's that little problem of what is "weight." That's another post for another day.

Oh, but I can eat nuts on the Atkins diet, right, because they're fat.

And now what brought us here today...

So I'm cooking dinner this evening, and I have this really funny thought. I've already alluded to it. Can you imagine the uproar of Atkins ("I'll eat the cheese off the pizza; you eat the crust") dieters if the fat tax goes into place? I mean, yow. Yow yow yow. While many of the targeted "sinful" foods are loaded with both carbs and fat, who knows where the fat tax is going to stop. That one has the potential of being a steep slippery slope. "What, you mean we taxed 'em and they still aren't losing weight? Tax 'em some more! And, this time, include..."

I think we've had enough here. Read your labels. Learn what you can. Exercise as often as possible, and, if you're really serious, keep a food diary. If you suspect that your metabolism is flawed, seek a doctor's advice.

Caution, prudence, sweat, and resistance training. There ain't no easy way.


Posted by hln at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2003

Beware of Salmon?

This is enough of a warning for me to add salmon to the "limit consumption" list until otherwise tested. (Don't see too much wild salmon in the grocery).


(Registration required to view article)


Posted by hln at 06:02 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2003


Please, if any of this surprises anyone, please e-mail me. I rolled my eyes no fewer than three times through the article.

    The findings, released by the American Institute for Cancer Research, add to the debate over how much restaurants and fast-food outlets are contributing to the epidemic of obesity in the United States and elsewhere.

    The institute's survey found that 69 percent of those polled finish their meals most or all of the time, even when the portions are huge.

    "Fully 30 percent of Americans now say they generally base the amount of food they eat on the amount they are served," according to the institute, which promotes research on the links between diet and cancer.

    "In a country where 64 percent of us are overweight or obese, there is an alarming tendency to overlook the sheer amount of food we're eating," Dr. Barbara Rolls of Pennsylvania State University told a news conference.

Posted by hln at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2003

Verdict Soon: Does Heather Continue Continue to Indulge in Microwave Popcorn? Stay Tuned

Verdict Soon: Does Heather Continue to Indulge in Microwave Popcorn? Stay Tuned

I'm one of those freakazoids who watches everything she eats. No, really, you say? Shocker. Everyone's aware of the silly Oreo lawsuit about trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids are in EVERYTHING - and I've been looking...for about a year.

Goodbye went the Wheat Thins (replaced with Kashi TLC.)

But I just can't give up the microwave popcorn...not just yet. Yes, I see it in the ingredient list - partially hydrogenated soybean oil. I figure, it's a treat, right? Soon, though, we will know how MUCH trans fatty acids grace my favorite once-in-a-while snack. And then I will decide whether to trade it in for a more harmless cousin. Here's why.

I like labels. They raise some awareness with people who are starting to watch what they eat, and every bit helps. With this solution, we shift no blame to the food producers; we merely ask them to state the facts, and then we make our decisions, as it should be.


Posted by hln at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)


Less overt than chocolate-covered ants, these food additives might surprise you.

Makes me want to abandon my lunch of Lean Cuisine pizza for something a lot less processed. I'm glad Fortune didn't do an article about the bacteria lounging on our food; we might pay attention to how hard our immune systems really do work every day.


Posted by hln at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2003

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Mine? It's in the backyard and is fed by water and plant food. But, if you've been following the news at all in the last five years, you know that a fair portion of America's foodstuffs, especially produce and soybeans, has been produced with the aid of genetic engineering.

Being such the nutrition fiend, I picked up Eating in the Dark from the local library, and I've been plodding through the book bit by bit over the last few weeks. (Life hasn't left me much time for reading...except blogs, of course).

It's enlightening. St. Louis is, of course, home to Monsanto, one of the companies heavily attacked in this book. Personally, I wish I had read Food, Inc. first, as it is purported to be more fact-oriented and less of a platform for the author's opinion.

I've found a glaring error in Eating in the Dark, and it has clouded the believability of the book. On page 89, it mentions the dioxin mess in Times Beach, Missouri. Anyone who lived in this area at the time and had access to the news remembers it quite vividly. It was a story of the 80s, and the author states the year was 1974. Oops! Electric shock to the fact checkers.

Next on the agenda is Pandora's Picnic Basket, also an item found at Bridgeton Trails Library. The author is a genetic engineer, so this should prove interesting. Eating in the Dark is authored by a journalist.

As you likely already know, the Europeans are not too keen on receiving and consuming genetically engineered food. Well, today, there was a step in what I believe is a positive direction. Labelling.

This food is here to stay. I'd like to see it labelled in the United States for the same reason that I want all of my food labelled - conscious choice. There's a common view that many people will avoid genetically engineered foods if given the choice. Often called Frankenfoods, genetically engineered items have a deep stigma attached, to the point that in 1998 (and many times since and probably before) fields growing genetically modified corn were systematically destroyed by "activists."

Is this stigma appropriate? I'm not sure yet and may never be. I am sure I'll write more on this.


Posted by hln at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2003

Newest Obsession

These. Are. Amazing.

Chocolate Soy Nuts, brought to my home by Genisoy.

Posted by hln at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)