Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Meatless Monday’s

Today starts a new series on “Easy ways to eat more veggies (and fruits)”. So for the next few Meatless Monday’s we’ll give you tips on how to get move veggies into your busy lifestyle.

 Today’s Tip:

 

Prep ahead. This one is key: Make sure your fridge is stocked with ready-to-eat veggies. Whether this means cutting carrot sticks by the bag-full or buying baby carrots, do what it takes. Celery, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and sugar snap peas are some of our favorite fresh vegetables. Another tip is to put the veggies out so you can see them, use clear containers in the fridge or place them on the counter so they’re in eye-sight. Have your favorites ready so when you’re hungry, you grab them. I also find its easier if I wash grapes and cut melons so that I have a healthy snack when I’m on the go or waiting for dinner.

 

Source: Tammy’s Recipes

Photo: Health.com

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Greenwashing?????

Below is an article from Triplepundit.com, its long but definitely worth a glance. The article mentions Nature Valley Trail Mix Bars….guess I have for a snack today…. Nature Valley Trail Mix Bars. It pays to be an informed consumer.

 

 

What does “natural” mean? The nature of this notoriously vague label is once again reaching the courts, this time in a lawsuit filed by two Californian women against General Mills. The plaintiffs claim, according to the New York Times, that General Mills has deceptively marketed its NatureValley products as natural when they contain highly processed ingredients, and therefore the company is liable for false advertising and anticompetitiveness.

This case is the latest in a number of lawsuits that have been filed lately against General Mills, accusing the company of using deceptive advertising for its products. In addition to the legal questions, this series of lawsuits brings other questions to mind – for example, does the label under debate violate the company’s commitment to ethics and intregity? And what does it mean for a company that prides itself on being responsible, or as its CEO puts it: “our approach to global responsibility is straightforward. It’s all about living our values – one of which is “We do the right thing, all the time.”?

This case is also important because it helps once again to bring to the public attention the debate around the “natural” label. Currently there are no legal requirements or restrictions for using the label “natural” on foods, and it can be a meaningless marketing term, but consumers nevertheless tend to value it. For some reason, as some surveys show, they even value it more than they value “organic” labels. Under these circumstances, is it any wonder that the “natural” label became so popular?

In the current lawsuit (which, according to Marc Gunther hasn’t even been filed yet), the plaintiffs explain, they bought Nature Valley’s products because they believed they were all-natural and therefore healthier, only to find out later that “they contain non-natural, highly processed ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), high maltose corn syrup (HMCS), and maltodextrin and ricemaltodextrin (together, Maltodextrin).”

What gave them the impression that the products they bought were all-natural? The packages of the products, the plaintiffs explain. For example, “on the front and back of both Chewy Trail Mix Granola Bars’ boxes, the phrase “100% Natural” appears immediately beneath the NatureValley logo. The back of the Chewy Trail Mix Dark Chocolate & Nut Granola Bars’ box states: “100% Natural. 100% Delicious.” Given this type of language, they were expecting to buy all-natural snacks, not ones that contain HFCS, HMCS, and Maltodextrin.

As mentioned, this is not the first lawsuit against General Mills with this sort of allegations. Last October, Annie Lam of California filed a lawsuit against General Mills, claiming it is incorrectly describing the ingredients of its fruit snacks, citing strawberry-flavored Fruit Roll-Ups that contain “pears from concentrate,” but no strawberries. Lam also said, according to Reuters, that the packaging “was likely to deceive consumers into believing the snacks are healthful and natural, rather than a combination of artificial, non-fruit ingredients.” In May U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti in San Francisco allowed Lam’s lawsuit to go forward, noting that reasonable consumers might be misled by packaging that claimed the snacks are “made with real fruit,” and would not read the fine print.

According to AdWeek, that was the second lawsuit General Mills has faced for its Fruit Snacks. On June 2011, a woman sued the company for $5 million for misleading consumers about the health and nutrition qualities of Fruit Roll-Ups. The case was voluntarily dismissed a month later by the plaintiff, who decided not to pursue the case.

Another consumer lawsuit against General Mills was filed by Minneapolis law firm Zimmerman Reed, accusing the company of violating the FDA’s standard of identity for yogurt and knowingly mislabeling its Yoplait greek yogurt  because it includes milk protein concentrate (MPC), which isn’t listed by the FDA as an ingredient acceptable for use in yogurt. The use of MPC makes Yoplait Greek yogurt “neither Greek yogurt, nor yogurt,” the suit claimed.

All of these examples are from the last year, but it seems like General Mills had to face these issues even before that. AdWeek, for example, reported that in  2009, the FDA forced the company to discontinue misleading cholesterol and cancer-prevention claims on its Cheerios packaging.

So what do you think? Is this a frivolous lawsuit or should General Mills pay for “false” advertising?

Meatless Monday

 

 

 “Most of your most powerful animals in the wild are vegetarian, so I’m trying to get my strength to that level. I don’t know if I’ll make it or not, but elephants are vegetarians. They’re pretty big, so. . .”

Source: Ecorazzi.com

 

Meatless Mondays

J. I. Rodale, the man who launched the modern day organic movement in America published a list of the 11 healthiest foods in the world. And guess what….9 of them are meatless. Take a look at the list and let me know if you agree with his choices.

 (in no particular order)

 1.  Kelp – An edible form of brown algae, kelp contains more than just potassium. It’s rich in iodine, protein, magnesium, and other minerals at levels higher than most land vegetables. It’s also rich in the omega-3 fatty acid.

2.  Mushrooms – Mushrooms are not just healthy, they’re vital in boosting your immune system and preventing infections, and they’re becoming increasingly valuable tools in medicine, where research is finding that mushroom compounds can fight diseases such as breast cancer. To get the health benefits without the toxic chemicals used in growing commercial mushrooms — go organic.

3.  Coconut – Though high in saturated fat, coconut products, particularly coconut oil, are proving to be exceptionally healthy. Studies on populations that consume high quantities of coconut oil have found lower rates of heart disease, and coconut oil is one of very few sources of lauric acid, which helps your immune system fight bacterial and viral infections.

4.  Watercress – It’s not just an iron powerhouse. Scientists have also found that the antioxidants in watercress can battle breast and lung cancers, and a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating just three ounces a day boosts your levels of certain antioxidants by 100 percent.

 5.  Wild Berries – Wild berries, wild blueberries in particular, have higher levels of antioxidants than their cultivated counterparts. One Canadian study found that wild blueberries can counteract inflammation and insulin sensitivity, two factors that, when abnormal, can contribute to arthritis and diabetes.

6.  Wild Rice – Not technically a grain but a grass, wild rice is rich in protein, fiber and B vitamins. Since it grows wild, there is no need for toxic pesticides or water-polluting fertilizers, and it’s harvested in the least environmentally damaging way possible. Most “wild rice” on store shelves isn’t wild at all but a hybrid product cultivated in paddies. Keep an eye out for wild rice that’s actually wild, sold by companies like Eden Foods and Native Harvest.

7.  Maple Syrup – You need just a small amount of maple syrup to sweeten your coffee, baked goods, or oatmeal, and it’s actually good for you. Scientists recently discovered more than 50 compounds in maple syrup known to battle cancer and heart disease. Find organic maple syrup at any grocery store or visit your farmers market to get the good local stuff. Don’t fall for “pancake syrup” that’s mostly high-fructose corn syrup dyed brown with “maple flavoring” added.

8.  Honey – Honey is rich in antioxidants and is often used as an antiseptic treatment on wounds. It also contains phytoestrogens, and studies on Greek honey have found that those phytoestrogens can blunt the growth of breast, prostate and endometrial cancers. Honey also has a low glycemic index, so using it to sweeten tea or coffee won’t lead to energy-busting blood sugar drops later in the day.

9.  Nuts – Today, nuts are grown on trees raised in plantations that, unless certified organic, have resorted to heavy doses of chemical fertilizers. But find a certified-organic nut supplier, and you’ll get all the protein and minerals that J.I. valued without the extra dose of pesticides. In addition, walnuts and pine nuts are good sources for essential fatty acids that protect your brain, heart and bones.

Source: MNN

Meatless Monday

Vegans have a new option……..the Vegg. The world’s first vegan fried egg substitute. It’s meat-free, dairy-free, soy-free and gluten-free. The Vegg can also be used to prepare almost any egg based recipe including pastas, cake, hollandaise sauce, French toast, “egg”nog, custard and ice cream. The Vegg which looks strikingly similar to a real egg is made using a molecular gastronomic technique (whatever that means).

 Fried Vegg

With all the perceived benefits I wonder if there are some unspoken consequences as well. Are you willing to try the Vegg?  

Source: MNN.com

Meatless Monday

I don’t know about you but whenever I hear about a “topic” (for lack of a better term) I’ve never heard of before, it seems that this new “topic follows me wherever I go.  For example, shortly before Christmas my daughter was diagnosed with an illness that I had never heard of before. What happens next, within two weeks three other children I know get the same illness.

The same goes for the latest new “topic” in my life.  While on campus last week I heard some students talking about quinoa. I had never heard of quinoa but a couple of days later the quinoa follows me to a conference and what appears in my inbox this morning….more QUINOA. I am taking this as a sign that my Meatless Monday post today should be on quinoa.

 Check out this post from mythineats.com.  

Quinoa Nutrition facts

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is known as a superfood, some people relate it to grain but it is actually a seed that comes from a plant most closely related to spinach. It is grown in the Andes mountains of South America.  The ancient Incas considered this plant sacred and called it “chisaya mama” which means ‘Mother of All Grains’. Quinoa grains are about the same size as millet, but flattened, with a pointed, oval shape. The color ranges from pale yellow through red and brown to black.

 These are the Nutrition facts and why it’s so good for you:

Quinoa is a great source of iron, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, copper, phosphorous, tryptophan, B6, niacin and thiamine.  One cup of cooked quinoa has only 220 calories.  It also has 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein.

Quinoa is stocked with life-sustaining nutrients all across the board, including all eight essential amino acids. There are other highly beneficial compounds, vitamins and minerals.

It is not surprising that it is being recommended for people who want to lose weight, for people who suffer from migraine, heart disease and atherosclerosis, for people with gluten sensitivity, for vegans, and basically for everyone who wants to eat healthy.

 How to Prepare:

Quinoa cooks very easily, in about 15 minutes. Like cooking rice in a stove top pot, you’ll want almost 2 cups of water per one part quinoa but be careful not to pour too much water in the pot, otherwise it will take even longer.

Cook quinoa at a high setting until it starts boiling and then cover and simmer for about 12-15 minutes. When you see the ring-shaped sprouts popping out, you’ll know the quinoa is almost ready. Stir the quinoa so all the water gets absorbed.

Quinoa by itself is rather bland, I like to add olive oil, bullion, and if you like spicy food as I do some chili pepper as it boils. Quinoa is fun to cook with and you can add anything you like to it, from veggies to poultry, or you could make it as a cereal with milk and cinnamon, you can incorporate it into dessert, it’s a chameleon.

Ok, so my veggie loving friends…can I buy quinoa at a restaurant? I would rather have someone prepare this for me so that I know what its supposed to taste like before I try to make it on my own. I definitely want my first quinoa experience to be a positive one.

Source: My Thin Eats

Photo: Babble.com

Meatless Monday

I am certainly open-minded to different types of diets, but I am Southern to my soul! This is apparent by my strong affection for smothered pork chops and sweet tea. I have however learned a great deal about eating healthier for my body and the environment through the Meatless Monday movement.

While researching topics for today’s post I came across a website titled The Southern Vegan. I immediately thought “a vegan after my own heart.” After reading some of  the posts I decided to contact the author, Amanda, to find out more about her story.  Amanda was generous to share her story with me and I look forward to continuing our conversation about how this “southern girl” has made the transition.

 And now….an interview with a vegan.

 How long have you been a vegan?

I’ve been a vegan for 5 years

How/why did you become a vegan?

In college, I was hospitalized due to an excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. After weeks of testing, hospitalization and a few visits with a nutritionist, I was told I could not digest animal protein properly, causing infections, fatigue, malnutrition, problems with my internal organs and a host of other issues. The only solution I was given was a complete transition to a vegan diet with no exceptions or time for a soft transition. When many people read my story, they automatically assume I was either incredibly overweight or unhealthy, hence the need for a drastic and immediate change in my diet. On the contrary, I have always been a healthy weight and very active. However, I had no idea what I was putting my body through on a daily basis because of food I was consuming.

Since your vegan journey began out of necessity did you have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that you had to change your eating habits?

Prior to my hospitalization, I didn’t really understand what eating vegan was and I certainly didn’t understand why anyone would ever choose to limit his or her diet in such a drastic way. I questioned the protein source and malnutrition of any vegetarian or vegan in which I came in contact. I was raised most of life in South Carolina, eating throughout my childhood as most do their entire lives…meals filled with meat, processed foods and vegetables. Even the vegetables I consumed growing up were cooked in cheese or butter. I believed that foods derived from an animal were necessary to a healthy diet. When I was told the vegan diet was necessary for me to live a healthy life, I was ignorant to what I would eat, how I would get enough nutrients, and certainly how I would survive inSouth Carolinanot eating anything from an animal.

Was it a difficult transition?

I wish I could say the transition to a vegan diet was a painless and easy process for me, but it was quite the opposite. I struggled for months, if not years, on grasping the new lifestyle. At first, I felt restricted and lost. What you put into your body is the one thing you can control each day and I felt I had lost complete control. I wandered around the grocery store aimlessly, desperately searching for food to fill the void I felt inside. I had no friends or family living locally that were interested or educated on the vegan lifestyle. Most were just as I was before my sudden change in lifestyle, ignorant and misinformed about veganism.

One day I decided I had to take it upon myself to better my education on veganism and what the health benefits to eating a plant-based diet were. I was hoping that if I understood veganism better, mealtime would be easier for me. I began reading as many books and scientific studies as I could. When this educational process began, I was shocked at the facts. I could not believe how wrong my perception of “healthy” was. Educating myself on the facts of a healthy, plant-based diet was the key to an easier transition.

Any advice for people who are considering a vegan lifestyle?

Educate yourself and try it! I’m a big believer that if our society knew the scientific facts about health, nutrition and disease, many of them would choose to make a change to their diet. I know that I certainly would have made changes to my diet had I understood what I was doing to my body with the food I was consuming. Additionally, I think the best way to learn anything is through your own personal experience. Try the vegan lifestyle for a few months or even just for 30 days. You will see drastic improvements in how you feel, your attitude, your skin, your digestion, your energy level and a host of other great changes. This is not to say the transition will be easy for everyone, especially if your diet was anything like mine prior to my transition. My recommendation for those people is, for the first week or several weeks, keep your meals as similar to what you eat now as possible. You can find vegan alternatives to virtually anything and most of them taste great! This should make the transition easier. Once you get past the initial transition, try to focus on eating more whole fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, etc. This is where you will see the most health benefits.

I am a true believer that we can learn a great deal from hearing about someone else’s journey. If you have a meatless journey of your own that you’d like to share…or if you have questions for Amanda please email them to Shannan.george@life.edu. We’d love to share them with other readers. Also be sure to visit The Southern Vegan for great tips and recipes.