Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Diet Chronicles - Hilo, Hawaii (for anyone freezing at the moment)

100-Ingredient Meals

Taco Bell makes burritos.  McDonald's makes burgers.  These are pretty straight-forward foods, right?  Think again.  A Big Mac has around 60 ingredients.  The newest burrito at Taco Bell, the Beefy Crunch Burrito, has no fewer than 150 ingredients.  That 150 is not a typo.  150 ingredients in a burrito.  Suddenly it isn't so straight-forward.
If you want the Beefy Crunch Burrito ingredient list, click here.  (I can't fit it into this post.)  You can find the Big Mac ingredients by clicking on this link.
The thing that I really don't understand is why we need all these extra ingredients.  Instead of 100-ingredient burgers, why don't we have chicken for dinner?  Here's the ingredient list:

Chicken:  Chicken, salt, pepper, butter, lemon.
Sweet Potatoes:  Sweet potatoes, sunflower oil, salt
Broccoli:  Broccoli, water (for boiling)

I like that dinner better.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Yogurt Has Culture

If you've read my previous yogurt post, you know that I'm not really a fan of store-bought yogurt.  Well, that's a bit extreme.  What I mean is that I'm not a big fan of most store-bought yogurt.  I'm not opposed to plain, meaning unsweetened yogurt.  I like normal yogurt, but I love Greek yogurt.  If you have never had Greek yogurt, I urge you to try it with all my heart.  My favorite is Greek Gods Yogurt. It has a sour-cream-like texture, just like all Greek yogurt, but it also has the best flavor EVER.  If you add some honey (we use raw), it is heaven on earth.  Kind of like dark chocolate.

Makin' Yogurt!
We also use Greek yogurt as a starter for our own homemade yogurt.  (Yes, we do make our own yogurt.)  Making yogurt is pretty cool.  You add your starter to heated milk, pour the mixture into your yogurt maker, and voila!  12-24 hours later you have homemade yogurt.

Aside from the benefits of cheapness and deliciousness (is that a word?), making your own yogurt is good for you.  It's particularly good for people who just stopped using antibiotics.  The live cultures that turn the milk into yogurt replenish the good bacteria that were killed along with the bad bacteria.  It can be eaten by some people with lactose intolerance, because the cultures turn most of the lactose into latric acid, which can be safely eaten.  You control exactly what goes into your yogurt, as opposed to the MSG, HFCS, and aspartame in some yogurts.  (*Cough, cough* Yoplait *Cough, cough*)
Homemade Yogurt for Lunch

So if you can make your own yogurt, do so.  Please.  Share recipes in the comments; tell me about your yogurt.  If you do, I might share some tales of tragic failures we have made.  If not, well, I might share them anyway.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sugar Wars... Continued!

Since Mr. Callos brought it up, let's talk about SUGAR.  It is everywhere. 
Seriously.  Here are some reasons not to eat it, and a few natural alternatives.

Five Reasons You Shouldn't Eat Sugar
1.  Sugar destroys your immune system.  We all know Vitamin C is important for fighting viruses like the common cold.  Vitamin C and glucose have similar cell structures.  When your sugar level goes up, the glucose and Vitamin C compete to enter your cells.  The glucose wins, and you don't have as much Vitamin C, leaving your defenses down.  Just one tablespoon of sugar can knock out your immune system for hours.  Hmmm, how much sugar was in your breakfast today?

2.  Sugar can make you fat.  If you eat way too much sugar at once, your body floods your system with insulin to take care of it.  Insulin is also the hormone that tells your body to store fat.  This is why you can get fat eating low-fat foods.

3.  Sugar is addictive.  The more you eat, the more you want to eat.  Have you ever wondered why you always want to eat more than one cookie?

4.  Sugar can cause headaches.  If your blood sugar rises, your insulin level rises, too.  Then, when your blood sugar crashes in about 30 minutes, you can get irritable, tired, and get a huge headache.

5.  Sugar causes tooth decay.  Well, not exactly.  If you eat anything sugary, the sugar will feed bacteria in your mouth.  The bacteria then make an acid that dissolves tooth enamel.  This is why you should brush your teeth after meals.

File:Stevia rebaudiana flowers.jpg
A pretty stevia plant
Some Alternatives to Sugar

1. Maple Syrup.

2.  HONEY!!!  I love love LOVE honey.  We use it in cornbread, yogurt, really almost everything.  It's best to use raw, unheated honey (which you can get at the farmers' market!).

3.  Stevia.  An herb from South America, stevia is about 250 times sweeter than sugar.  We get little glass bottles with droppers and, since you only need about 6 drops, they last a long time.  It also comes in a powder form if you want it for baking.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Delighted to Be Here! Sugar...Watch Out!

I'm guest blogging! I'm guest blogging!

Thank you to the young champion of good, healthy food (and all things wholesome), Ms. Kaynan Goldberg, for asking me if I'd like to guest blog on Veggies Go Crunch!

I'm delighted to be here.

I'm Tom Callos and I'm a martial arts activist working in the international martial arts community. I teach school owners how to do what they do, better. One of our big areas of interest is food (go figure!). Here's a video, one of my "Diet Chronicles," where I talk guessed it, FOOD (glorious food).

There were some veggies in there, yes?

This year I'm intending to become a complete vegetarian, as I've been one before (not even eggs!), but at the moment I'm still looking to eggs for protein and things to make my family on Sunday mornings.

One of the things I'm really on the lookout for is sugar! Sugar is everywhere (sort of like Justin Bieber). Check out this crazy-good video I found last week:


I hope to come back again and visit Veggies Go Crunch! I'm VERY proud of the leadership role Kaynan has taken (she doesn't know it yet, but she's going to inspire a LOT of other young people to eat better food).

Kayan, thank you for letting me come in and offer my 2 cents!

Tom Callos

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I'm a Label-Reader

Everybody says that "this" food is healthy and "that" isn't, but do we really know what is healthy and what isn't?

We all know that fast food is bad for you, and natural produce is good. But then we have all the food in the middle. At least, we think it's the middle.

Take low-fat foods. Do you know exactly why they're so good for you? Sure, they're low in fat, but they're high in chemicals! These are the ingredients in a Yoplait Light Blueberry Yogurt. (The nasties are in blue.)

Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Non-Fat Fat Milk, Blueberries, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Modified Cornstarch, Whey Protein Concentrate, Kosher Gelatin, Natural Flavor, Tricalcium Phosphate, Citric Acid, *Aspartame, Potassium Sorbate added to maintain freshness, RED #40, Vitamin A Acetate, BLUE #1, Vitamin D3.

That's about five too many blue ingredients for me.

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), is made by adding chemicals (most of which I cannot spell) to liquidized cornstarch. It is one of the foods everyone knows is bad, but if you go to the supermarket and pick up almost any processed food, you'll probably find those four letters somewhere on the ingredient list: HFCS. (I'll do a whole post later on this yucky non-food.)
  • Modified Cornstarch is Modified Food Starch, which is the same thing as Monosodium Glutamate, another baddie. Again, I'll do a post on this one, too.
  • Whey Protein Concentrate, is also MSG in disguise. You'll find that a lot of foods that claim to have no MSG actually have it under sneaky pseudonyms. MSG has about a billion names, which let it slip into foods and into your body. YUCK!
  • Natural Flavor. This one isn't really bad. The problem is that you don't actually know what they mean by natural flavors. Manufacturers even put teeny-tiny amounts of MSG in with the "natural flavors". With all of the other dubious ingredients on the list, why don't they tell us the names of these so-called "natural" flavors?  Hmmmm....
  • Aspartame is another bad, bad food. Or should I say non-food. It is an artificial sweetener that has a strangely sweet taste. It was apparently once a biochemical warfare agent. I don't want to eat that.
Now, if these are the non-ingredients in a "healthy" yogurt, what are the ingredients in the unhealthy foods? Is the low-fat yogurt really worth all those chemicals, non-foods, and preservatives? It sure isn't to me.