Archive for February, 2011

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Why Frankenfood can make you fat

February 19, 2011

The Adds and the Add-Nots 

 To celebrate Chinese New Year, we set out to find a really authentic restaurant in Los Angeles’ Chinatown.  We asked around, looking for a recommendation from people in the neighborhood and settled on a popular favorite. 

An hour after eating, I started to feel short breathed and was literally gasping for air.  My face was flush and I felt pangs of anxiety, followed by an intense need to sleep. For a moment, I thought I was having a heart attack.  Or was I just losing it altogether? Come to find out I had taken in a serious dose of MSG.  Monosodium Glutamate, a common additive that enhances flavor is also linked to obesity, learning disabilities and even brain lesions. I kicked myself over the fact that I forgot to make sure they weren’t adding that awful chemical to our meal.  After all, if we don’t ask, who’s going to tell?There are over 14,000 additives used in commercially prepared foods today. Some are far more complicated and potentially dangerous than others and manufacturers, restaurateurs and those who make our food are not required to disclose the hazards.  Whether you’re eating out or preparing food at home, it’s critical to know what to protect you and your family’s plate against. 

In this issue, check out our ‘Steer Clear’ list of additives to avoid like the plague, FrankenFood can make you fat and an Irresistible Clean Plate Club Offer.

The Cleaner Plate Club

The Steer Clear List.

(BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE. Do you put it in your body or your gas tank? See answer below.)

Ditch these phony baloneys:

1. Artificial sugars:  Created to pacify the sweet cravings of dieters, sweeteners do more than sweeten your food — they serve as a health hazard.  Aspartame, Acesulfame K and Saccharine are all chemically produced to sweeten our foods without the calories of sugar. Even Splenda, which has a better reputation is not as clean as it should be. Ironically, these empty calories can create a vicious cycle of craving more sweets, with the inevitable consequences of weight gain. Don’t be seduced by the calorie-free promise.  What you trade out is far worse.  Artificial sugars have been linked to behavioral problems, hyperactivity, allergies and are possibly carcinogenic.  Stick with the real deal.

Sweeteners are rampant in diet, lite or sugar-free products. They are used in dry mixes for beverages, instant coffee and tea, gelatin desserts, puddings, non-dairy creamers, chewing gums, breath mints, diet soda, yogurt, even children’s medicine and vitamins.

THE CLEANER PLATE CLUB TIP: Try more natural sources of sugar as in agave, stevia, honey, molasses, and maple syrup in moderate quantities.

2. Artificial colors: Food colorings are used to make the food look more appealing or to replace colors lost in processing. However, don’t let these colors deceive you. Artificial colorings are synthetic dyes that are mostly coal-tar derivatives. 

They are suspected to cause allergies, asthma, hyperactivity and are possibly carcinogenic. Chief culprits: Candy, beverages, soda, gelatin desserts, pastry, sausage, baked goods, even fruit like green oranges sprayed with red dye to make them look ripe. 

THE CLEANER PLATE CLUB TIP: Keep it real with a rainbow of fresh fruit and veggies, natural juices and additive-free snacks

3. Artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, EDTA, etc):  You may see these ingredients in chips, fried snack foods, baked goods, carbonated drinks, cheese spreads, chewing gum, ice cream, breakfast cereals and even cosmetics.
These preservatives are actually synthetic petroleum-based and fat soluble antioxidants, used by manufacturers to prevent oxidation and retard rancidity.  They can cause cancer, allergic reactions and hyperactivity, and BHT may be toxic to the nervous system and the liver.

THE CLEANER PLATE CLUB TIP: Choose food and drinks labelled with “no artificial antioxidants.”  Avoid poor quality vegetable oils.  Look for cold-pressed virgin oil which contains natural antioxidants such as Vitamin E.  Eat fresh produce that doesn’t contain these preservatives.

4. Nitrites and Nitrates: Love your bacon in the morning and salami at lunch time? Cured, preserved, smoked meats are saturated with nitrites and nitrates to preserve shelf life and give it the healthy pink hue. These two preservatives may prevent the growth of bacteria but they transform into cancer-causing agents called nitrosamines in the stomach. They also produced noticeable side effects like headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.

THE CLEANER PLATE CLUB TIP: Look for nitrite-free processed meats and opt for meat-free alternatives to mix it up.

5. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): You may be happy that you’re dining in restaurants that carry the “No MSG” declaration.  But do you know that MSG lurks in all kinds of sauces used to prepare the foods that you thought are MSG-free?  They are also significant in all kinds of snacks, seasonings, candy, even infant formula, over-the-counter medications and nutritional supplements. 

THE CLEANER PLATE CLUB TIP: Buy MSG-free snacks and read labels, so you can make healthier choices.

(BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE is a cancer causing additive found in some cereals, chewing gum potato chips, vegetable oil and is definitely on the ‘don’t put it in your stomach’ list.  Just remember, Buty is booty.)

FrankenFood Makes You Fat

Each American is exposed to about 10 to 13 different pesticides through food, beverages and drinking water every day. And nine of the 10 most common pesticides are endocrine-disrupting, which have been linked to weight gain.* In his book, “The New American Diet,” author Stephen Perrine talks about “obesogens” and how they play a role in the American obesity crisis. From pesticides to growth hormones, antibiotics and plastic pollutants, to name a few. Bad for the environment, bad for us, here’s what to avoid.

In your refrigerator:

  • The Dirty Dozen: Non organic peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots, pears.
  • Farm raised fish: (e.g. Farmed salmon are up to 10 times higher in pesticides like PCBs as wild salmon)
  • Corn/soy-fed beef and chicken
  • Non organic dairy products

In your pantry:

  • Plastic compounds (in particular BPA)
  • Lining of canned foods such as canned tuna, soup, beans and tomatoes
  • Lining of canned beverages such as energy drinks, baby formula
  • Sports drink bottles

THE CLEANER PLATE CLUB TIP:  Wash with EAT CLEANER All Natural Fruit + Vegetable Wash or Wipes to effectively remove pesticide residue from the surface of fresh foods. 

PEAS OF MIND:
  Rest assured that all EAT CLEANER(r) products are made with BPA-free plastic, including our Wash + Dryer Kit Spinner and Scrub Brush.  Check out all of our EAT CLEANER(r) products at www.eatcleaner.com.

* From “Chemicals in Food Can Make You Fat,” Feb. 11, 2010, cbsnews.com

On the steer clear list: GMO's, artificial additives and fake frankenfood

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Swimming Upstream: When it comes to fish, go wild

February 9, 2011

Farm Raised vs. Wild Caught.  Is there a difference?  Hook, line and sinker.

When it comes to fish, go wild.

When you sang Old MacDonald growing up, I bet you $100 one of your answers was never ‘had a fish, eieio’.  Now, how did salmon and tuna trade in their tails for the ranching life? 

Before we jump into that pond, an ode for seafood.

We love fish for its versatility, variety, flavor and health benefits.  Omega-3’s found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines have been shown to have a variety of benefits ranging from reducing the risk of heart disease to treating the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. We don’t produce these Omega-3’s on our own, so it’s critical we get them from our food.

So, does it matter whether we opt for wild caught or farm raised fish?  The answer is absealutely.
Wild fish swims in the sea where it’s supposed to, and is usually line caught. 

Farm raised salmon are housed within small pens that are set up in the ocean or in small ponds and are fed with food other than what nature intended.

Think free range chicken, beef, etc.  Same philosophy. So herein lies the problem.  Farm raised fish are:

  1. Confined and medicated: Think of it as a CAFO under the sea.  These farms can stretch as far as four football fields and contain over a million fish crammed together in floating pens.  The overcrowding increases their risk of infection and disease and they’re often given antibiotics to help deter this.  Sea lice have been known to infiltrate these pens, killing young salmon.
  2. Fed funky food pellets:  Instead of being allowed to find their own natural food sources, they’re fed dried food pellets made up of fish oil and fish meal. Salmon farmers give farm raised salmon a similar color by feeding them a synthetic pigment called canthaxanthin. It’s since been banned in Great Britain.  To add to the mix, pellets often contain cancer causing agents as PCBS, dioxins, and even flame retardants.
  3. Nearly void of good Omegas:  Lower omega-3 levels have been found in farm raised, but they also have higher omega-6 fatty acid levels, a pro-inflammatory that you want to try and avoid.
  4. Prone to E.coli contamination:  Because of overcrowded conditions, fish excretions accumulate and have no where to go.  They can enter fish gills and become a threat to their health and those that eat them.

The bottom line?

According to statistics, the most common fish species raised by fish farms are salmon, carp, tilapia, European seabass, catfish and cod and it’s estimated that only about 10% of the salmon on the market in the U.S. is wild.  Although wild fish may be a bit more expensive than farm raised, you get what you pay for. 

What’s a seafood loving soul to do? Dive in.

– Ask where your food comes from. Look for ‘wild caught’ or ‘line caught’ fish at the grocery store and request more from your fishmonger.  If you’re at a restaurant or sushi bar, don’t hesitate to ask if they offer wild caught and let them know you prefer those selections. 

Look for the smoked section.  Most Gravlax and smoked salmon is wild caught and because of the strong flavor, a little goes a long way.  It’s not just for bagels, either. Toss it into your pasta, alongside eggs and atop sliced, sprouted wheat bread with a dab of nonfat greek yogurt, lemon and fresh dill.

Wash and cook it good. Clean your seafood fillets and whole fish with Eat Cleaner All Natural Seafood + Poultry Wash to help cleanse away contaminants, bacteria and pesticide residue.  According to the Environmental Working Group, you can also reduce your exposure  by trimming fat from fish before cooking.  If farm raised is your only option, limit consumption to once a month. Learn more at http://www.ewg.org/reports/farmedpcbs.

Seafood WATCH.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood WATCH program offers updated resources on sustainable selections by the region you live in.  Consult their site and download their guides and iPhone app here.

It’s Fit February here at the Cleaner Plate Club.  Stay seafood savvy and eat your way to better health with us all month long!

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A Fit February Super Bowl

February 4, 2011

 

You’re ambling through the grocery store, shopping for snacks for Superbowl Sunday and POW, just like that the hunger pangs start to grow and your so hungry you could eat a frozen pizza.  Walls of processed, fluorescent colored triangles and squiggly do-s, brown, creme filled sponges and sugary-chemical drinks start to close in on you and suddenly, you feel the room start to spin and your hands quiver.  What’s a Fit Foody to do? 

Whether you’re getting ready for game day,  chasing your kids across the park or bounding around the country chasing down clients, keeping your snack attacks from an all-out battle of the binge can be a challenge. To avoid completely sabotaging your diet or suffering a melt down, put down the ding dongs and class up game day.

1)  Put a Skewer In It:  The Big Game doesn’t have to be host of a junk food fest.  Just put a stick in it and you’re done.  Chop up bite size carrots, broccoli spears, celery sticks and radishes and skewer them for a portable treat.  Create a ‘Super Bowl’ of cut fruit and offer toothpicks with a side dip of plain lowfat Greek yogurt mixed with a spoonful of honey.  Spray EAT CLEANER Fruit + Vegetable Wash on fruit and veggies to help them stay fresher, longer.  For your protein, try our yummy Marinated shrimp skewer recipe, below.  You can substitute chicken, tofu or tri tip.

2)  Crunchy Munchies: Food Should Taste This Good is the name of the brand and we love these better-for-you chips when you need a crunchy fix.  Food Should Taste This Good Multi-grain tortilla chips are made with flax, sunflower and sesame seeds so they come with functional benefits.  Flavors like Olive and Jalapeno appeal to your worldly tastebuds while Chocolate and Cinnamon satisfy a sweet tooth.  Pretzel Crisps are a tasty, thin, all-natural flat-baked pretzel and the world’s first spreadable pretzel cracker.  At only 110 calories per serving with no trans fats, saturated fat, or cholesterol, they’re packed with fiber and flavor that can handle the dip or stand alone on their own. Deli Style, available in the deli section of stores of course, and Modern Classic varieties.  Savory and sweet varieties include Sesame, Garlic Parmesan, Tuscan Three Cheese and Cinnamon Toast (yum, it’s like a churro but without the guilt). 

3) Dip it – Give your full fat spinach dip and cheese whiz a time out.  Opt for tomato and onion salsa, cannellini bean dip made with a little olive oil and basil, or a lowfat yogurt dip seasoned with cucumber and lemon.  You can skinny up your spinach dip with nonfat sour cream, fresh  spinach and a little hot sauce for a kick without calories.
4) Happy Endings: We’re not all saints, so sometimes, you gotta give in to your sweet tooth.  But cookies and cake can pack a whopping 400+ calories!  All natural Vitalicious VitaTops taste like an indulgence.  Deep Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Pomegranate, Apple Crumb and Banana Fudge are just a few of the fantabulous flavors. At just 100 calories and a gram and a half of fat, you can warm em up, and top them with a little non-fat whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon and voila – a delish dessert for under 120 calories!  Plus they contain 9 grams of fiber 4 grams of protein.  SCORE!
Grilled Rosemary Shrimp and Tomato Skewers
This is shrimp with some big flavor.  If you make the marinade in advance, cook time is only about 6 minutes. A little indulgence that you can afford when made at home.
 
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves plus sprigs for garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil plus oil for brushing shrimp
2 lbs shrimp  (Wild caught is best; clean any debris or traces of STPP with EAT CLEANER Seafood + Poultry Wash)
Basked of grape tomatoes (wash with EAT CLEANER Fruit + Vegetable Wash)
12-inch bamboo skewers, pre-soaked for 30 minutes
Lemon wedges 
 
Mash garlic and salt together in large bowl. Mix together with minced rosemary, and oil and add shrimp. Let stand, covered in refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Soak skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Preheat grill. Place 4 shrimp on each skewer. Brush with oil. Grill for about 3  minutes on each side, or until just cooked through. Makes 7-8 skewers. 
 

It's the anti-diet...just a way of life

So you forgot your January resolutions.  It’s Fit February.  Eat Cleaner, Get Leaner with  Us for a Lifetime. What does it mean to Eat Cleaner? It’s not a diet.  That’s a 4-letter word.   It’s a lifestyle and a balanced approach to food – from its nutritional content to how it’s prepared – bringing you better health, one bite at a time.  At the end of the day, it’s the quality and quantity that count. When you cut the junk and chemicals, amazing things happen.  Join us here each day this month on our blog and our Facebook page for a Fit Tip that will keep you hungry for more.

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Fit February – Pazzo for Pasta

February 2, 2011
 

You can be a fit foody and still be pazzo for Pasta.

Pazzo for Pasta

You gave white flour and carbs the boot, but you pine away for heaping plates of pasta like a lovelorn teenager.  Now, you can twirl your noodles and eat them too.  There are about as many options that deliver sound nutrition as there are Italian handbags that I covet.  Plus, whole grain pasta is economical, filling, quick to make and easy to feed a crowd.  Sure, it may take you a few times before you get the texture you like from these alternatives but don’t give up – it takes 8 times before you decide if you like a food or not.

So stick a fork in it and say, ciao bella!  

–         Quinoa Pasta – Made from the super protein ancient grain, pasta made with quinoa has a great, nutty flavor and a nice, firm al dente bite.  Ancient Harvest is a great option for a variety of pasta shapes (good for kids) that are gluten free, non-gmo.

–         Brown Rice Pasta – No empty carbs here – just good pure nutrition.  This pasta cooks up great and holds up to any of your favorite sauces.  The Trader Joe’s brand is wheat, sodium, gluten and cholesterol-free.

–         Protein Plus Pasta from Barilla – When my all time favorite pasta brand, Barilla, launched this line, I jumped up and down at the grocery store and yelled ‘bravo!’  One serving gives you 10 grams of protein (same as a chicken thigh) and it’s packed with Omega-3s and Fiber. www.

–         Spelt and Kamut Pasta – Two other protein-packed ancient grains, these are good options for people who have gluten or wheat intolerance.  Eden Organics makes a good, organic gmo-free variety.

 

Quinoa Pasta is packed with protein and a good option for gluten-free diets.

Feeling saucy?  Here’s what you can put on top.

– Grape sized tomatoes, basil and garlic and a dash of freshly grated Pecorino (goat milk) cheese

– A variety of sauteed veggies and beans, including spinach, zucchini, asparagus and white cannellini beans with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

– Thai style, with shrimp, cilantro, shredded carrots and peanuts

– Ground turkey sauteed with fresh tomatoes, garlic, parsley and red wine

– Chicken breast cubed and sauteed with kale, onions, peas and lean turkey bacon bits

– Puttanesca, made with crushed tomato, anchovy, red pepper flakes and Kalamata olives

Eat Cleaner, Get Cleaner.  Join us for Fit February on Facebook every day for cleaner eating tips.

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Eat Cleaner, Get Leaner. The Fit February Challenge is ON.

February 1, 2011
 

 

So you forgot your January resolutions. It's Fit February. Eat Cleaner, Get Leaner with Us for a Lifetime. What does it mean to Eat Cleaner? It’s not a diet. That’s a 4-letter word. It’s a lifestyle and a balanced approach to food – from its nutritional content to how it’s prepared – bringing you better health, one bite at a time. At the end of the day, it’s the quality and quantity that count. When you cut the junk and chemicals, amazing things happen. Join us here each day this month on our blog and our Facebook page for a Fit Tip that will keep you hungry for more. Ready to join? Here are the ground rules:

 1)      Fruit and veggies own half the plate.  It may be hard to keep track of 5-9 servings a day but if you stick to a half the plate approach, getting your produce in at every meal is a cinch. Fresh fruit and veggies deliver more phytonutrients and antioxidants than any other food on the planet.  For the rest of the plate, pick lean protein and a complex carbohydrate.  The baseline is 1200 calories per day for women and 1800 calories per day for men so manage your intake accordingly (note, if you are active, you need more.  Try this calculator for a better estimate.  

2)      Limit oil and steer clear of saturated and trans fats.  That means fried foods, hydrogenated fat and foods loaded with animal fat, delivering heart clogging cholesterol and fat that can’t be processed by your body.  According to the American Heart Association, limit total fat intake to less than 25–35 percent of your total calories each day.  Raw food is packed with enzymes that love your body.  If it is cooked, broiled and baked is best.

3)      Avoid processed and refined foods and snacks. You won’t miss the artificial flavors, colors and preservatives in most processed grocery items.  Also watch for frozen, prepared meals as they’re high in sodium.  Fresh is always best. Fill your shopping cart with foods from the perimeter of the store and opt for complex carbohydrates that are richer in nutrients.  Real labels diligently.

4)      Choose pesticide and antibiotic-free options.  Chemical pesticides, preservatives, colors and additives can actually prevent you from losing weight, interfering with the body’s ability to properly process nutrients.  This includes produce, dairy and all animal protein.  Eat Cleaner can help remove pesticide residue and wax from non-organic produce and the surface of seafood and chicken.

5)      Drink 8 glasses of water a day. Water helps flush toxins, keeps you hydrated and controls your appetite. Thirst often disguises itself as hunger.***Print this certificate and keep it on your fridge as your accountability.  Welcome to the Cleaner Plate Club.***Are you in? Join our Eat Cleaner, Get Leaner Feb Fit Challenge

***Print this certificate and keep it on your fridge as your accountability partner.  And remember, we’re here to support you.  Welcome to the Cleaner Plate Club.***

Are you in? Join our Eat Cleaner, Get Leaner Feb Fit Challenge

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