Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Skinny on Fat

O Organics Old Fashioned Creamy Peanut Butter, 18 Ounce Jars (Pack of 6)Along with many other things in the American diet, I think we need to reevaluate the role fat plays in our lives. It came to my attention yesterday when I heard a girl comment on how disgusting her friend’s protein shake was because he added peanut butter to it. I could understand if you didn’t like peanut butter, but she said it had too much fat. 
She commented on how high in calories it was because of the peanut butter. He responded with the fact that he wasn’t worried about the calories because they were healthy calories and he had run 8.5 miles that morning. I silently agreed with the man, and laughed to myself as the girl went on about how high in fat and oil the peanut butter was. I finally said: but it’s good fat. She replied: it’s still fatSo today I would like to present to you the skinny on fat.

I read somewhere that, "eating fat does not turn into fat in your body the same way that eating brains will not make you smarter." It sounds pretty simple since most people wouldn't eat brains, but why does fat get that bad rap?
All fats are not created equal. Just like carbs, there are beneficial fats and detrimental fats. In general, “bad” fats are the ones you find in processed foods: french fries, candy bars, ice cream, etc. “Good” fats are the ones you’ll find in pure, natural foods: nuts, pure nut and plant oils, fish, and vegetables like avocados and olives. Pretty simple, right?
Healthy fats benefit you. Unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats and Omega-3 fats provide great benefits to your body. They help regulate your blood sugar, improve your mood and cognitive function, protect your joints and nourish your skin. It has been proven that two servings of fatty nuts can alleviate mild depression. Most of these are best eaten raw, though. Even oils commonly used for cooking such as olive and canola are no longer beneficial once exposed to heat. These work best at low heat or when used as a salad dressing. 
Eliminate trans fats and saturated fats. Things that are processed, pre packaged or deep fried usually contain one or both of these types of fat. If you're worried about the fat from adding some avocado to your burrito, you might want to worry more about the lard in the tortilla. High fat meat and dairy also fall into these categories.

Read labels: anything “hydrogenated” is not going to benefit you. This process takes fats and infuses them with hydrogen to make them more shelf stable. This process makes the products difficult to digest triggering an array of problems from heart disease to cancer. The maximum daily amount of trans fats anyone should consume is 2 grams, but the FDA only requires labeling if the product contains more than .5 grams per serving. Considering this, a person could consume 4 servings of things claiming to have “0 grams trans fat per serving” and reach or exceed the healthy limit without knowing it. This is why it is so important to read the ingredients on packaged foods. If it has no package (i.e. fresh produce, nuts, beans, etc.) it’s probably free of bad fats.
Lay's - Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips - 10.5 oz
Pair fats with carbs. WHAT!?!? No, we’re not talking donuts, here. We’re talking fruits, vegetables and whole grains - duh! Simple sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly, but pairing a simple sugar (like fruit) with a healthy fat (like nuts) lowers the glycemic index of the food helping your body absorb it more slowly and providing you with a steady stream of energy for longer.  So add some peanut butter to your protein shake, all fats are not created equal.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 31

Our days of vegetarianism are officially over but we did learn a few things in the process. At home it wasn't a big deal at all but eating out was a hassle. That is good in a way because it prevented us from going out too much. We decided we might continue to eat a few vegetarian meals per week and when we do eat meat, continue to make vegetables the focus instead of the other way around.

Here is a picture of our last veggie meal of the month: green salad with fresh tomatoes, onion, and bell pepper with lentils, barbecue tofu and feta cheese. YUM! I was sad to realize the dishwasher had not been run so we had to toss the pretty meal in a bowl. Oh well it was still delicious.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bed Snack

This recipe was one my parents used to make when I was growing up. It's so simple and tasty I just had to share it.

When I was little, my parents would read a book to my brother, my sister and me while we ate a snack before bed. This snack we admirably named "Bed Snack" was made for us once in a while and was always our favorite.

All you'll need:
  • Regular sized marshmallows
  • Crackers
Kashi TLC Crackers, Original 7 Grain, 9-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12)
    My parents made them with plain old saltines but I wouldn't pass up the chance to incorporate a few more whole grains so I used kashi 7 grain crackers. The whole grains help to lower the glycemic index since marshmallows have an alarming amount of sugar in them. The package I bought listed a serving as 4 mallows with each serving having 19 grams of sugar! Topping a carby cracker with a gooey mound of sugar probably isn't the best idea before bed so this might make a better mid-afternoon snack... especially if you're feeding it to your children.

    What to do:
    1. Preheat the oven to about 300
    2. Lay out the crackers on a cookie sheet or pizza pan and top each cracker with a marshmallow. Be sure to center the mallow because they puff up in the oven and if it slides off you'll have a gooey mess.
    3. Bake until the marshmallows are puffed up and light golden brown on top - about 5 minutes.
    4. Remove and allow to cool before eating.

    This is an easy one for the kids to help with (not putting them in or taking them out of the oven, of course) and they will love watching the marshmallows grow as they cook. People of all ages love a good sweet, salty, crunchy, melty treat once in a while!

    Sunday, April 10, 2011


    Update on the vegetarian experiment: still going strong.

    We have learned that America is less-than accommodating to non-carnivores. After attending a party for my husband's work, a friend's baby shower, and dining out a few times; we've had a hard time avoiding meat in public. The restaurants we've been to have maybe maybe an item or two without meat. On the other hand, we found some pleasant surprises in some places! Before this challenge, I would have assumed that if you didn't eat meat you wouldn't go to a burger joint or a steakhouse. Recently I realized that just because you don't eat meat doesn't mean your friends are that way too! People go out just to be social, so why exclude anyone??

    Buffalo Wild Wings has a boca burger on their menu and you can substitute a black bean burger for the meat on any of their signature burgers. Who knew??

    Panera Bread has a satisfying hummus and vegetable sandwich.

    Moe's Southwest Grill has a tofu option as well as gluten free and low cal menu choices. Even if you're ordering their "regular" items, they serve grass-fed, hormone free meats and fresh vegetables - even their cheese is organic! 

    You can find a listing of more vegetarian-friendly restaurants in your area and around the world here.

    Now to tackle another problem we've had with this challenge: sandwiches. Dinner hasn't really been a problem, other than some new recipes we tried that were a total flop and were not worth posting. Lunch on the other hand has been difficult. We eat a lot of sandwiches. I stopped buying lunch meat over a year ago because I felt the nitrates weren't worth the price. When my hubby came back from deployment we started buying it again so he could have sandwiches for lunch. This experiment has forced us to open our minds to new sandwich combinations and I would love to share some.

    Today I had a variation of a Caprese salad on a sandwich. We were out of hummus (my new go-to sandwich staple) but we had some left over vegan mozzarella which is surprisingly delicious! Thus, my caprese sandwich was created.

    You will need:
    • Bread
    • Mozzarella
    • Tomatoes
    • Basil

    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Garlic
    • Onion
    • Balsamic Vinegar
    • Other spices that suit your fancy

    I lightly toasted 2 slices of Ezekiel bread, then sprinkled a little vegan mozzarella on top with some garlic powder and basil then melted in the microwave for 20 seconds or so. This "cheese" gets really gooey when it melts. Then I added some sliced onion, tomato and green peppers we had left over from pizza the other night to one side of the bread. Top with the second slice and voila!

    This cheese I bought at the health food store to make pizza with is by Daiya. We haven't been avoiding dairy really but the amount of cheese thats on a pizza sometimes causes stomach cramps but this stuff is fantastic! It's gross fresh out of the bag but it takes on a wonderful taste and texture when melted - perfect for pizza! I took a picture of it but my camera's dead so I'll have to post it later.

    The full list ingredients for the "cheese" is as follows: filtered water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and /or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, vegan natural flavors, inactive yeast, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, citric acid (for flavor), titanium dioxide (a naturally occurring mineral).

    More sandwich creations soon to come. Enjoy!