Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Mmmm, Delicious Niblets of Knowledege

Hello, dear readers.

You know, it's really amazing how much information seems to find its way to you once you open your mind to learning in-depth about a particular subject. In my life recently, it's been food and nutrition. Here's the latest from my food-obsessed world.


I have, as of late, become slightly obsessed with high fructose corn syrup and its bad nutritional rap. This obsession has coincided with my anti-trans-fat obsession, and the two obsessions have fed off of one another, growing exponentially into one (very expensive) quest to find tasty alternatives to things that contain these ingredients (I thought I was doing great just eating wheat bread - it turns out most traditional brands - even my personal fave, Nature's Own - are made with high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS).

Check out the info on HFCS health effects here. And if you want to know about trans fats (I could write an entire blog about this subject alone), read this.

You know what else relies on HFCS to give it taste? Peanut butter. And jelly. So bread, peanut butter, and jelly are all on my Naughty List now. I consulted my friend Jason, an all-around smart guy who happens to be married to a woman, Sue, who is fantastically well-versed in matters of organic food, vegan lifestyles, and nutrition. So I said, What Would Sue Do?

Sue would eat Almond Butter. And, I extrapolated, HFCS-free natural fruit preserves. On delicious natural whole wheat bread.

So I set out to make a better PBJ - and it is now an ABP: an almond-butter-and-preserves sandwich.

I used Trader Joe's unsalted Almond Butter (a risky investment at $5.99 a jar) and organic mixed fruit preserves (sweetened with grape juice). I spread it on some organic wheat bread (I checked that there was no HFCS involved), and put a little honey on it just to make it a bit sweeter.

I must say, it was tasty. And according to askdrsears.com, "Almond butter is more nutrient-dense than peanut butter. It contains half the amount of saturated fat, less salt (usually), and eight times as much calcium. Peanut butter, however, contains twice as much protein and four times as much niacin (20 percent of the DV)." So PB has its virtues, but I trust Sue.

Almond butter has to be refrigerated, and you have to stir it before you spread it (since there are no artificial homogenizing agents, the oil separates from the nuts). The fruit preserves are great! I'd buy them no matter what (also Trader Joe's brand).
Thanks, Jason and Sue!

Hmmm...do I forsee a recurring "What Would Sue Do?" query on this blog? We'll have to see.


I have been hearing a ton of buzz lately about Fage (pronounced fah-ye) Greek Yogurt. I've read stories of people smuggling it back from Greece in their luggage, and apparently the entire Greek yogurt category was invented because this brand became so popular in the U.S. Well, I finally tried it.

The hype is real. It is the most delicious yogurt I've ever had (and I have tried literally every type of yogurt on the market, including organic and soy). I got the Fage Total 2%, which in a 200-gram container has 4 grams of fat and 3 grams of saturated fat. Not too shabby - and it so creamy, rich, and filling, that you feel like you're eating a pint of Haagen-Daas. Never in my life did I think I would enjoy PLAIN yogurt. I just added a squeeze of honey and stirred it together, and it was the most luscious yogurt experience you could imagine.

The full-fat version has 12 g. of fat (9 g. saturated) - so I won't be indulging in that any time soon, but my friend Tara has had both the 2% and the 0% (fat free), and swears that the fat-free is just as good. Check out their website. You can buy Fage at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, but I'd look for it in wider distribution (i.e., your local regular supermarket), because with all the press it's getting, customers will be demanding it soon.


My weeknight, too-tired-to-really-cook standby is scrambled eggs and toast, and I'll admit it here, publicly, that I almost always cook my eggs in a little butter. Yes, real, honest-to-God butter. It's delicious.

Well, I ran out of butter. So tonight, I scrambled my eggs in a little olive oil. And you know what? It was really good! It gave it, well, a little olive-y flavor - it reminded me of eggs cooked over a campfire. And it added way less saturated fat than butter! Every little bit helps.


Also inspired by my chat with Jason, I have begun to look into what researchers call "food deserts." These are areas, concentrated overwhelmingly in low-income areas, almost completely devoid of healthful food options, especially fresh produce. Supermarkets, convenience stores, and gas stations in these areas stock almost entirely processed food. As a result, people in these food deserts suffer from a range of serious health risks, including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Read about it in more detail here. And here's another in-depth article about food deserts here in Chicago.

Wouldn't it be great if there were a non-profit organization that could bring healthy, fresh food to people in these areas? I have not the foggiest idea how one goes about creating a non-profit group that would require the amount of capital, influence, and sheer manpower that this one would (although I've already named it OASIS, so cross that off the list), but that hasn't stopped me from daydreaming about changing the world.

Something to think about.

'Til next time, friends.

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