Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Interesting article why processed food can lead to weight gain

In my experience, I lost a significant amount of ‘the last ten pounds’ when I started to prepare my own food from scratch with fresh (raw) natural ingredients at home: vegetables, fresh or frozen, rarely canned (besides tomatoes), dried beans and legumes cooked in the slow or pressure or rice cooker, quinoa, sometimes dried pasta, Indian basmati rice (for lower levels of arsenic), olive oils, fresh fruit, and raw nuts. That is about 90% of what I eat. Occasionally, I will add some parmesan cheese or goat cheese, bread is mostly home-made without preservatives, rarely animal products. Yes, the occasional frozen yogurt and gummy bears and chocolates. I guess at some point people called this ‘clean eating’, i.e. no processed food. So, what is processed food anyway?

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  • food that was prepared in a factory a long time ago
  • food that waits on a shelf to be bought and eaten, and therefore contains many chemical food additives to keep it shelf stable
  • food that contains ingredients that were partially prepared in a factory (think pasta sauce in a home-made pasta dish)
  • factory prepared bread that never goes bad
  • food that has a wrapper
  • food that comes with a plastic tray and is heated in the microwave
  • fast food and many chain restaurants foods (they get it shipped from the mother ship).
  • food that no longer has any enzymes or vitamins because it was cooked eons- ago.
‘Processed’ food has been around for a very long time --- bread and cheese are technically ‘processed foods’. Canned food is processed food but it was and is used to be a way to preserve food. However, the problem started to escalate in the last 50 years, when the food industry was influence by the chemical industry and mass production has become common place. More and more chemicals were added to processed food that were either labeled or would remain unlabeled, when problems with obesity and gut inflammation started. The crux is really in all the chemical additives that have nothing to do with the food, but enhance taste and shelf life and reduce the cost of food production and enable mass production (more profits for the food industry!)

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This is an interesting article that links two common food additives, i.e. emulsifiers, to weight, immune system and digestive health. The simple story is that the emulsifiers mess with the gut bacteria and the mucus that protects the gut, so that the bacteria can get to the gut and chronic inflammation (aka colitis) can start for people who are predisposed. The emulsifiers also reduce the ‘good bacteria’ diversity in the gut. The variety of good bacteria exploit all the nutrients in the food for the body; if the body does not some of them, it will signal “give me something to eat, I need those nutrients’. This can lead to feeling hungry when you do not need the calories, but the nutrients….. They tested heir hypothesis with mice, and tests with humans will start. Even in very low concentrations, the food additives can lead to metabolic problems, meaning they gained weight and get colitis.

Here is a link to the original article in Nature.

So, there we go. Scientific proof that the earth is round and food additives lead to medical consequences for humans (and pets). There are so many things that the food industry conveniently does not want us to know about convenience food. We also sometimes think it is more convenient to ignore it. But, it is up to you.

Monday, March 2, 2015

March inspiration under piles of snow

March! Hopefully, this will be the month with rising temperatures and sinking snow coverage here in Maine. Because, there is a lot of snow that has to go before we will see green again. But today, today it is snowing again.

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At least, some make the best out of it. Who needs a snow man when you can make a snow pug.

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I am inspired by summer clothes collections, and covet this handbag. The rest I probably find in my closet. With the levels of snow and the temperatures, it will be April before I can really wear anything like that.

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Neat idea to re-purpose the food props for organizing perfume bottles.

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I am not into the 50 shades of grey thing, although the main male character almost enticed me to watch it since he does such a great job as serial killer on The Fall with Gillian Anderson.

Links of interest:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Spring break

Friday and spring break upon us! The day started cold, but not too cold, and with sunshine and mounds of white snow. Last meetings to wrap up before everyone disappears, some to Caribbean beaches, some to Europe, and some just wind down and kick up their heels, worrying only about leisurely pursuits for a few weeks.

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How come that lunch pans always look a lot better before they are cooked?

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I feel like jumping in my car and heading out of town, too. Exploring snowy beaches, hiking snowy mountains, cross country skiing frozen lakes, hibernating and drinking wine in sleepy, cozy remote cabins. Ah, winter fun!

Last weekend I started watching “Friends” on netflix, to really for once watch all the episodes in order. “Friends” is still the same gem as it was originally. These guys have such great comedic timing as an ensemble and of course such great personal chemistry. Only, the clothes they wear? Oy vey Smile

Other recommendable movies for spring break:

  • St. Vincent (It is “Up!”, just with people).
  • Gone Girl (as good as the book)
  • Two Faces of January (If you liked “The Talented Mr. Ripely” this is for you)
  • Fort Bliss (if you want to be inspired by a truly powerful woman)
  • Copenhagen (Sweet coming of age movie in Copenhagen)
  • Call the Midwife series
  • and yes, House of Cards, Season 3 is up on netflix today!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Valentine’s M&M Softbatch Cookies

Valentine’s day is long gone but I still relish in the Valentine’s day chocolate. Godiva, ferrero rocher, and the pink M&Ms. Yesterday, I felt like baking and cookies it was. Softbatch cookies, with valentine’s red and pink M&Ms.

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Valetine’s M&M Softbatch Cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons light crème
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 cup Valentine’s M&Ms
  • 0.5 cup mini chocolate chips


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl and electric hand mixer), cream together the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla extract and light cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda and pudding mix.
  4. Put speed on low, and slowly added the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute; don't overmix.
  5. Add the chocolate chips, and mix until just incorporated.
  6. Mix in the Valentine’s M&Ms in with a spatula, to not break them up.
  7. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
  8. Using a small icecream scoop,  form heaping 1 – 1 1/2 –tablespoon sized mounds and slightly flatten mounds, ca. 8 cookies per cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for about 10-11 minutes.
  10. Do not overbake since the cookies will firm up as they cool.
  11. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for about at least 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooking. They will be sticky because of the slightly melted candy corn.

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