Tag Archive | food

Food of the Future!!!

I watched the Challenger disaster in elementary school and it made me too afraid to fly to the stars, which of course meant I would never get to eat the cool space food I saw on TV–shiny packages of nutritionally-packed, scientific food stuff. So, I find it ironic that, in a way, I did get to eat like an astronaut–shiny special, pre-packaged food, engineered to sit on the shelf. Instead of all the nutrients found in bags of dehydrated dinners, though, this Earth-bound space food was often full of sodium, added sugar, and artificial flavors. After years of buying into the processed, low fat, diet food hype, I realized that I wasn’t really eating food, and, as I got further into nutrition, I realized it wasn’t the way I wanted to eat.

As I started out on my new path, my point of view swerved to the notion that all chemicals and space-aged packages are bad and I should only eat what my grandfather grew or raised on his farm. Except, that as I learned more of the science, my nutritional point of view changed again and relaxed a bit.

First, the fallacies of my all chemicals are bad way of thinking:

  1. Everything is a chemical, even water, so chemicals aren’t inherently bad.
  2. Related to #1, a chemical used in a product, like say, a yoga mat, doesn’t mean that it is bad for you. That’s not how it works. Take acetic acid. It’s used as an industrial solvent, in some pesticides, and as part of perfumes and synthetic fibers. All things I wouldn’t want to eat; however, I put acetic acid (aka vinegar) in salad dressing and in sauces all the time. The uses of a chemical doesn’t necessarily define the edibility of it. (Is edibility even a word?)
  3. Just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s good. Arsenic is natural. Ricin is natural. I don’t eat them. Natural is often a marketing term not a measure of health.
  4. Trying to live in a perfect way–no chemicals! no toxins!–can lead to a disordered view of food. If the food is not perfect, then you feel guilty and you failed. You are a failure. You have to binge or cleanse or purify which leads to more restrictions. Plus, what will you be able to eat after a while? Water and air? Water is a chemical…

So those are the fallacies when we think that all chemicals are bad. If chemicals are bad, does that mean food from a box is good? No, not necessarily. It depends on what is in that box. The basis of my nutritional perspective is to eat food that is as close to its source as I can. I want to eat an apple rather than an apple snack that contains some apple in it. I want to eat a stir fry I made from scratch with “real” ingredients rather than something that comes in a bag with a sauce. Bottom line, that’s the healthier way to eat–real fruits, real veggies, whole grains, and lean protein sources with YOU controlling what goes in. But I know as a person with a busy life and limited funds it is really hard to make everything from scratch. I’ve developed guidelines for myself to follow when I’m crunched on time or need a economical shortcut.

Look at the ingredient list and read the nutrition panel.

If I need to buy packaged food, I try to find the least processed of all the options. I turn the package over, ignoring claims of “natural,” “organic,” or “healthy part of your diet” found on the front. If the ingredient list looks like a chemistry experiment or is extremely long for no good reason, I put it back on the shelf. If the nutrition label lists a lot of sodium or added sugar, it again goes back. It it’s all that’s there and I really need that item, the I buy. I just don’t buy it often.

Find ways to cut prep time.

I make large batches of food and freeze half for a quick meal later. I also made friends with the slow cooker in the back of my cabinet. But be careful, many slow cooker recipes rely on processed, high-sodium ingredients, which sort of defeats the purpose. Buy pre-cut or frozen veggies to save time. Frozen veggies (without a sauce!) are just as healthy as fresh. Just make sure there is no sauce or added ingredients (e.g. salt/sodium). Canned veggies, while not as good as fresh or frozen because of the higher sodium content, can be rinsed before use to remove a lot of the salt if it fits your budget better.

Find a farmers’ market

My area has a plethora of farmers’ markets, which are a great source for incorporating real food into your diet and buying in season items can cost effective. I get overwhelmed at large markets with a lot of people and prefer to avoid them, but there are some great smaller markets that are easy to enjoy. Or don’t go to a farmers’ market. That’s okay too.

Take it slow

Change is hard and a complete overhaul of how you eat is overwhelming. Make one or two small changes during the week so real food habits are sustainable. Each change makes you that much healthier.


It’s not about being perfect or omitting everything. Sometimes, you don’t have the time or money. Sometimes, you have to drive 40 miles or walk past scary and unsavory people to get to the store and you just don’t want to do that! That’s okay! It’s about making changes YOU can make and sustain that cut down on the boxes and bags of “astronaut food.” Last night I used instant falafel (horror!) rather than make it from scratch, because I don’t have time and I really like the boxed kind. And it was yummy! And I’m okay with that!



7 days! I think. I didn’t think I’d get past two, so yay me.

I’ve been debating whether I should write nutrition-related posts. It’s my new career and it would be good practice, but I think I’m afraid to put myself out there like that. I can talk about the craziest things–bowel movements, blood, gory details of pregnancy–but I’m wary about nutrition. I think because it’s such a contested topic. Media and “nutrition” bloggers say one thing, but the science shows something else. Unfortunately,  the science is not as sexy and people believe quacks or sensationalism. I’m not sure I want to put myself out there and have attacks from toxic-free, colon cleanser food experts with whom I disagree.
I need to think about it more before I decide what I want to do.

Experimental Craziness

It’s Foodie Friday!!!! I know, I know. I’ve officially hit kitschy. I will stop. Until next week when it’s Footsie Friday or something equally heinous.

Last week, I believe on a Tuesday, I had a doctor appointment. I bet you are so darn jealous. It was a little later than I normally schedule and in the opposite direction from work. One never knows quite how long a doctor’s appointment will take (no offense doctors), so I opted to not make lunch. I didn’t want it to sit in the car for hours. Plus, if I got out at lunch it was the perfect excuse to stop by Starbucks or, um, some other place. (Not addicted!). Sadly, the appointment went fast, so I swung by the house and threw together a lunch.

So now to back up a bit. I had seen a school lunch roundup at 100 Days of Real Food a few days before. Compared to what I ate for lunch growing up—soggy pb&j, water, and…something that must have been so heinous I can’t even remember—these meals were amazing. So different, creative, balanced, and healthy. No pb&j in site, although I think that gets you arrested and sent to Guantanamo these days. I was so taken by what I saw, that on Tuesday I decided to try one with our leftover Superbowl veggie tray.

I packed a metric ton of veggies (radishes, broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, and olives), with some nuts, a slice of “Daddy” cheese, and hummus. That’s it, and I was STUFFED!!! The afternoon at work always kills me and I need to find something to eat or I will be cranky (er, crankier), but that day I was full until dinner. Gotta love fiber!

I wasn’t sure if it was a fluke or was the food, so I decided to experiment. I packed a similar lunch all week, and into this week. And yes, not all were unprocessed food and I didn’t make the hummus and peanut butter from scratch. I’m amazing, but I’m also busy.


I did not think to photograph the first lunch. You’ll notice that the veggies are the same, although I did have broccoli on other days not photographed. You will also notice that hummus and peanut butter look like something from a diaper.

I have to say, I really enjoyed it. I didn’t always get through the afternoon without a snack, but it was so minor and a Clementine was enough to sate the appetite. I felt most full with the one with peas, but there were also too many nuts in that one.

I’m still fiddling with amounts (you’ll notice that there seem to be more veggies in the bottom, more filling, boxes) and I’ve been swapping out the side boxes (one box not pictured had peanut soba noodles), but overall, it’s AWESOME! Not only am I less snacky in the afternoon, but I found that I had more energy at Zumba this week. I just need to come up with a few more variations (lentils, sweet potatoes, spinach, etc.). I do believe I have a new standard lunch.

Oh, and I did go to Starbucks anyway after that appointment. (Not addicted)

Meatless Rant Helmet On

So whatever happened to my attempt at being vegetarian on my trip? I did it. Mostly. I did sneak in that Japanese breakfast that had salmon, but how often do you get to choose that from room service? And of course, there were two meals where I got food that I thought would not have meat, but  did, like the potato salad or egg drop soup. I promptly stopped eating them, but they were on the plate.

I have to say that I feel for every vegetarian and vegan out there who do this every day, because they choose a different way of eating and are in the minority, their options while out can be vastly limited. I found that if I was lucky, the restaurant would have one token vegetarian option. If I was super lucky it would be something I would actually want to eat. Were I trying to be vegan, many of those options were full of cheese or cream and wouldn’t work. And this was in LA!! Of course, a highly touristy part catering to outsiders, but still.

The buffets at the class and training were worse. Only one day included a meal with a dominant vegetarian entree–veggie lasagna. The rest of the meals provided were predominately meat and I had to make do with rice, salad, and if I was lucky, beans. Let me tell you, the lack of protein options was tough.

Here’s the thing that restaurants, conferences, office parties, etc. don’t understand. It doesn’t have to be that tough to provide for vegetarians and vegans. Beans, lentils, nuts, soy, quinoa, tempeh, vegetables, pasta, brown rice, etc. are out there and easy to incorporate into a menu. Granted, not all are cheap, but some can be quite cost effective. If your only option is going to be a salad then at least provide a salad that has some, pardon the pun, meat to it. A lettuce, tomato, and onion salad with sprinkled cheese and maybe one lone cucumber just won’t cut it. Provide options for people.

Look at McDonalds. I don’t know of one straightforward vegetarian option on the list. I can get a paltry salad with no chicken, but then what’s left? Cheese, lettuce, maybe two tomatoes? You could get the apples with walnuts and possibly mix the two. If that’s the case, why can’t McDonalds do that and offer it as a meal? At least Burger King has that horrible veggie burger that some how sucks the life out of every sandwich I get. All McDonalds needs to do is make a black bean/soy burger or a salad that is built for vegetarians in mind, with beans, nuts, or dare I say more veggies. And I don’t mean to pick on McDonalds specifically. Wendy’s has similarly limited options (would it kill you to have a vegetarian chili?). And while Burger King has a veggie burger, it’s pretty mediocre and not much else on the menu.

I am actually quite lucky. I did the week as a vegetarian on a whim, to see if I could do it. If there was nothing for me to eat, I could always fall back to meat. Not everyone is so lucky.  I decided to try my social experiment, because I’m on that precipice where I’m not ready to give up meat, but I’m flirting with giving it up. What I found was that I missed meat. I did decided to make more of an effort to cut back on it again, but not give it up completely. I am fortunate that I live in an area with many great restaurants and stores with many great options for a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle, and I’m going to do my best to support them.

The Blue Booger

Leave it to the Blue Booger to provide more food options!

Vegetarians Have It Rough

After receiving 5 calls from Southwest on Sunday telling me how my Los Vegas to LA flight was suffering from multiple personalities, or something, I arrived safely in LA. The first call said my 7:30 flight was now 8. After landing in Los Vegas I had two messages where the first call said the flight was back to 7:30 and the second said 8:00. The people at the gate said the fight would leave shortly after 7:30, but we were moving down the hall. Sadly we got on the flight and then had to wait until 8:15 before we had approval to leave. Fortunately, the flight was uneventful, albeit confused about itself.

The conference has been okay. After 3 sessions on the first day that seemed to be different topics but ended up covering the same thing, I decided to bag the day and walk across the street to Universal Studios City Walk. I think that should really be called Universal Studios in Your Face with Touristy Crap and Tacky Chain Restaurants. Okay, maybe one or two restaurants weren’t tacky, but still. It’s fair to say, it’s not my thing although the walk was nice and I plan to go to a crepe place on the walk to pick up dinner to get out of the hotel. I’m not sure what else is around and being a small-town girl in an unfamiliar place near sunset, I don’t generally go a-walking. That’s the fun of being a girl. At least the girl in my head.

Speaking of the crazy in my head. I decided to do a social experiment while I’m away. Well, I’m not sure if it’s really a social experiment, really, but let’s call it that, shall we? I decided to try being completely vegetarian on my trip. You would think that would be pretty easy to do in LA. You would be wrong. At least where I am so far. And can I say that it sucks trying to eat Vegetarian?!? Every place has one veggie-friendly option if I’m lucky. The hotel restaurant? In LA? None. None! I had to ask to have something modified. Crazy. What’s with that, LA hotel?

I did cheat this morning and ordered the Japanese breakfast with fish, but how often do I get to order a Japanese breakfast. It was yummy by the way. We’ll see how well I do the rest of the week. Especially if something looks yummy.


Hey, Mommy! If I learn how to use a computer, can I go to the next conference?