Archive of ‘Nutrition Facts’ category
I usually buy Trader Joe’s brown rice cakes in bulk. They’re always sitting in my cupboards and I usually eat at least one per day, usually smeared with jam, with an avocado on top, or plain by itself. You probably already know that because they’re all over my WIAWs.
But lately, I keep reading articles about how they’re not actually good for you at all. In fact, some say they’re just plain bad for you. AHHHHHHH, my beloved rice cakes! Could this be true? I did a little research and here’s what I came up with on why they’re supposedly not healthy….
1) They have a really high glycemic index (91 our of 100), so they’ll raise your blood sugar quickly. This is not enough to make me stop eating them.
2) Some have additives. Mine don’t…the only ingredients are brown rice.
But the real reason…..
3) Toxicity. Rice cakes are created in the same manner as typical processed grains, like cereal. The high tempatures in the factories remove proteins and make it “puff” and in turn, the process makes the grain toxic.
Whole grain brown rice cakes are produced in VERY high temps, making their toxic properties come out strong.
My verdict? Welll…I’m taking it with a grain of salt. They’re not the most nutritious, they might be a little toxic, but I don’t think it’s worth freaking out about. Many things these days are toxic, I suppose. If the majority of what I eat isn’t processed, then I should be okay. I think this might be in the back of my mind next time I buy them, but oh well. If I freak out about everything having chemicals or some level of toxicity, I’ll go crazy. So pass me a rice cake.
– Do you like rice cakes?
– Would you eat them if you knew they were produced in a way that brought out some toxicity, or would you not care?
– What’s your favorite rice cake topping?
For Sunday Fun Day, we organized a “field trip” out of the City and across the Bay to the St. George Spirits/Hanger One Vodka factory. They give free tours and inexpensive tastings on the weekend.
We took the Ferry over, which was a blast and adventure on its own.
Then we walked about a mile from the Ferry through the old Naval base and to the factory, which is literally in an old hanger (Hence the name, Hanger One Vodka).
From the outside, it seriously looks like an abandoned building.
But the inside is really nice! Re-done and very modern. We started with an hour-long tour.
I learned a lot. Here are a few fun facts about vodka and the general alcohol making process:
Vodka doesn’t have to be made from potatoes, in fact, it’s usually not. Vodka can be made from ANYTHING, what makes it vodka is that it’s 95% distilled. St. George’s Spirits makes most of their vodka from wheat and grapes.
Scotch and Whiskey are the exact same thing. Scotch is just whiskey made in Scottland. So if someone tells you they like Scotch and not Whiskey…..that’s totally impossible because it’s the same!
You shouldn’t have to freeze vodka or even drink it cold. It’s only the poor quality vodka that tastes better when you do this because the coldness cuts down the bad flavors and makes it more tolerable. Good vodka can and should be drank room temperature.
Fermentation is conducted in clean, sanitized vessels that are open or sealed from the air and lasts for three to five days.
The government has to approve every single label that any alcohol company puts on their bottles….and they are super strict about it!
That’s vodka infused with a Buddha’s Hand fruit- looks crazy cool, huh?
Absinthe is NOT illegal in the US (i totally thought it was!) and it’s made from anise, fennel, and wormwood seeds. Interesting, right?
Hmmm….and that’s all I can remember. He told us about how all the machines work and stuff and it’s a long interesting process. The tour guide loved his job, obviously.
Then we all went into the tasting room. For $15, we tasted 10 of their different kinds. Quite a menu:
First rule they set was– no taking shots! You must sip it in at least 2 sips- ha, wonder if they had issues with that in the past.
Our group at the tasting table.
The way you are supposed to taste vodka is really unlike wine tasting. Under no circumstances should you swirl it in your cup! If you do, it lets the alcohols out and will cause more burning in your mouth. Instead, you are supposed to take a deep breath, take a small sip, and then breath out through your mouth.
So many to try. My favorite was the Mandarin. The most out-of-ordinary was a chipolte vodka- spicy hot and sooo different.
They were all good, but I couldn’t get most of them down….I’m not used to drinking straight alcohol and much more just a wine-sipper these days. I “shared” my tastes with the others.
After fun tasting, we caught the Ferry back to SF. Sunday Fun Day and now I’ll be more inclined to buy more expensive vodka.
– Have you ever done a non-wine tasting?
– What’s your drink of choice when you go out? Red wine usually for me, though occasionally vodka-soda
Cancer. That scary word that we all dread hearing in reference to someone we love. A girl I grew up with passed away from breast cancer last year. She was 30 and had a 2 year old baby girl. A good friend’s mom passed away in March. Only 18 months from diagnosis to the end. It’s so scary and it’s so hard. I think that in a decade, we’ll know so much more about how to prevent and stop the disease, but until then, we have to do the best we can. Seems like we’re learning more and more about how nutrition affects cancer, so when Jillian McKee contacted me about a guest blog post, I thought it would be a great topic.
Jillian McKee is currently researching and writing about cancer and how it is effected by healthier lifestyle practices. She has a ton of information and if you google her, you can read her other various blog posts.
So without further adieu……
Nutrition for Cancer Patients: Another Tool for Healing
Good nutrition is important for everyone, but for those coping with cancer, a healthy diet is essential. Because cancer and its treatment can affect how the body consumes and uses nutrients, a diet that provides adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals from healthy, unprocessed food can help patients feel better and cope with the stresses of diagnosis and treatment.
The National Cancer Institute’s recommendations for nutrition in cancer care point out that cancer itself can affect how the body uses food, so a healthy diet for cancer patients may be different from the standard guidelines intended for general use. Nutrition therapy – the use of foods in healing – for cancer patients focuses on improving quality of life, promoting better immune responses and sustaining the body during sometimes-harsh treatments.
Cancer patients may not get adequate nourishment for a variety of reasons, putting them at risk for malnutrition and cachexia (wasting). The disease itself can cause a loss of appetite, and some tumors block absorption of nutrients by the body, resulting in weight loss and muscle weakness.
Treatments for mesothelioma and other cancers, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can cause gastric problems such as nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Changes in smell and taste can make food unappealing, and conditions such as dry mouth, mouth sores and difficulties in swallowing can make it difficult to eat. Surgery and its aftermath can also affect the appetite and the body’s response to food.
Malnutrition during cancer affects all aspects of a patient’s life. Loss of energy, weakness and fatigue can impair the body’s immune system, making it harder to fight infections and heal from surgical procedures. Malnutrition and its associated symptoms can also contribute to depression and weakness, which can compromise quality of life and outlook.
For these reasons, oncologists and nutritionists emphasize the need for quality dietary support during cancer therapy. Patients should be encouraged to consume diets high in protein and high quality carbohydrates for energy, liquids for adequate hydration, and vegetables and fruits for vitamins and minerals.
Different methods may be needed to ensure that patients are able to consume the needed amounts of nutrients. Liquid diets make consumption easier for those with problems swallowing or chewing; diets lower or higher in fiber can help with digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea. Nutritional supplements such as protein formulations can add nutrients that may be missing from the diet.
Nutrition therapy for cancer patients helps to mitigate the symptoms of the disease and support the body during treatment. With the help of nutrition therapists who understand their special needs, those coping with cancer have another powerful tool for healing.
It’s probably no surprise that I love my daily cup(s) of coffee.
Sometimes, anticipating my cup of coffee is what helps me finally get up from an especially comfy bed. I also love the ritual of sipping something hot in the morning while flipping through emails or the newspaper. I love the smell of fresh coffee beans when you open a new container. And yes, I love the extra caffeine jolt that helps me start my day.
On average, I drink 2 cups of coffee a day….usually with almond milk. This morning’s cup:
I’m not a coffee snob (there are some what I would call (lovingly) “coffee snobs” in SF– they will only go to Philz or drink Blue Bottle and they scoff at Starbucks.) Nothing wrong with that, but I’m not one of those people. I just like my daily cup, wherever it’s from. And usually, I like it made out of my home coffee maker, right there in the comfort of my kitchen.
Right now, I have three different kinds of coffee in my tiny kitchen.
Kona Coffee that I brought back from my trip to Hawaii in December.
Costa Rican coffee that my sister brought me back from her trip this past January
I usually save the above two for when I am out of my “usual” beans.
And my favorite, everyday coffee tht is almost always in my kitchen (yes, from TJ’s, of course)–
Besides the “vacation” coffee, I always buy organic coffee. This TJs brand is my favorite.
So why organic? Coffee’s not one of the traditional “Dirty Dozen” of foods to buy organic. I don’t buy everything organic (I wish, but it’s just too expensive)…However, I do believe that drinking organic coffee is important enough to spend the extra bucks.
Here’s why I drink organic coffee–
– Turns out, Coffee is the most chemically treated agricultural product on the planet.
–Coffee typically isn’t grown in the US and most of the countries where it is grown don’t regulate the use of chemicals and pesticides (true for fruits and veggies grown in these countries as well).
– The most common chemicals used in coffee production are synthetic petroleum-based fertilizers that slowly destroy the soil’s fertility and seep into local water supplies. Pertroleum? Yuck! That’s not good for our bodies, the environment, or for the people living near the farms.
2) Save the Rainforest
– Coffee naturally needs shade to grow (not in direct sunlight). The non-organic coffee industry has developed sun-resistant coffee tree hybrids that now comprise about 70% of the world’s coffee production. As a result rainforests are being cleared at alarming rates to make room for the new, sun resistant coffee trees. Yikes.
– It’s estimated that 11 million acres of land gets used exclusively for the production of coffee. There are estimates that 25% of South American rainforests have been lost to coffee production. That fact is soo sad to me.
– Organic coffee growers, however, grow their plants in the shade of the rain forest. The soil and its biodiversity provides nutrition and eliminates the need for chemical pesticides and herbicides.
– Do you ever notice a metallic or chemical aftertaste with conventional coffee? I do. Organic coffee does not have this.
– Conventional coffee is also tougher on your stomach since they contain gastrointestinal irritants and cancer-causing agents from the pesticides.
So there you go! Some of the reasons why I prefer organic coffee. There are many more interesting stats, but these are just the ones I thought I’d share with you. Here, here, and here are some places where I got the info for today’s post.
This definitely isn’t pressure to buy organic coffee– I know that our budgets are all limited. But I wanted to post this because I don’t think there is enough talk about the benefits of organic coffee (and worries about conventional coffee). Every coffee drinker should at least know some of these facts and make their choices from there (I was so surprised when I first heard the rainforest stuff).
For me, if I’m starting each day off with a cup (or two) of coffee, it makes me feel better to know that I’m starting the day without pesticides and with something that isn’t causing any more trouble to the Rainforest. I’ll still go to Starbucks
occasionally often, but when I can choose, I spend the extra few bucks on organic.
– How old were you when you first started drinking coffee?
– How many cups do you drink per day?
– Do you buy organic coffee? Did you already know the things I mentioned or was it new to you?
All the best days start with a Green Smoothie
And end with Salmon. (Not together!! Eaten separately )
Green in the morning makes me feel awake and energetic and the Salmon does the same thing in a nice omega-3 kinda way.
My favorite way to cook salmon is to honey-glaze it and also to top it with cinnamon.
This is one of those “non-recipe” recipes that I love because it’s so simple and takes so few ingredients that I feel silly even posting them here. But honestly, when it works, it works! This is an easy, delicious way to cook salmon, especially on a busy work night.
For the salmon:
I alway buy wild, Alaskan salmon. It’s slightly more expensive, but it’s the best for you and I feel like it’s more than worth the extra few bucks.
– I rinse the salmon in water and put it on a broiler pan (skin side down).
– Squeeze fresh lemon on top.
– Then, just drizzle a thin layer of honey on top of the salmon. Spread it evenly (you should probably use a knife, but I usually just use my finger….I hope that’s not gross!)
–Sprinkle a very little bit of sea salt on top.
Then, just stick it into a 350 degree oven and bake! I usually bake mine for about 20 minutes, but cooking time varies depending on the thickness of your piece of salmon.
When it’s time to eat, I like to drizzle some more honey on top (sweet tooth!) too, but that’s optional.
And that’s it. Told you this was ridiculously easy!
My other favorite way (which I normally do with the other piece of salmon) is to squeeze lemon on top and then sprinkle generously with cinnamon. After the salmon is cooked, I add some sea salt.
Love salmon and this simple go-to is my fave. I cooked some this morning because I knew I wouldn’t be home until 8 tonight and am already excited for dinner!
Okay, next salmon-related topic……
What’s the deal with salmon skin? Do you eat it?
I’ll admit- I usually eat it or I give it to Charlie (dog). I know a lot of you are probably grossed out by that– seems like a lot of people throw it out? But regardless, I’m just curious what the deal is with it anyways and what you’re “supposed” to do.
I debated not posting this because it's really not very appetizing, but...
Here’s what I found out based on a slew of sites (thank you google)–
– The skin includes healthy omega-3s (esp in that dark fleshy part between the skin and the pink part) and all the nutrients that make salmon good for you.
– However, some of the mercury and pollutants from the water are found in the skin (the skin protects the fish from getting the pollutants….) so by eating the skin, you’re getting more harmful chemicals.
Verdict? If you eat salmon all the time (aka, twice a week), it’s best to not eat the skin all the time so you don’t ingest as many pollutants. But if you are only eating salmon occasionally, go ahead and eat the skin. And dogs enjoy it as well (plus, it keeps their coat shiny), so feel free to share the goods.
Ok, so you tell ME
- Do you eat the skin?
- How do you normally cook salmon?
- How often do you eat fish?
Surprise, surprise (ok, no surprise at all), I have a new favorite Green Smoothie combo!
In my effort to check all the 111 foods off my superfoods list, I bought frozen pineapple at Trader Joes this past weekend. And holy moly, I have been making the most delicious pineapple smoothies.
New favorite Pinapple-tastic Smoothie:
Frozen Cut-Up Pineapple
Blend away!! ***The pineapple took a little more blending time than some other fruits, fyi.
At work the other day, we were talking about smoothies and debating straw vs spoon. I’m DEFINITELY a straw girl. You?
Breakfast of champions. Notice how the pineapple makes the smoothie a pretty, bright green color!
I haven’t had pineapple since we were in Hawaii in December and I ate the entire thing by myself in 3 days. Frozen pineapple is my favorite TJ’s product of the week (though I could really just buy a fresh one, cut it up and freeze it myself- ha lazy girl).
Truth though– I’m not a fan of pineapple juice. You?
So just like my mango smoothie post, there are a lot of reasons why pineapple is a superfood that you should add into your smoothie. Fittingly, it’s also the start of pineapple season (March-June….so eat one this week!)
Pineapple display at the grocery store today!
Here are some fun pineapple facts:
from source and source
- Pineapple fruit contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelain that has anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting and anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that consumption of pineapple regularly helps fight against arthritis, indigestion and worm infestation. ***worm infestation? ewww
- Fresh pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and beta-carotene. So eat up and to fight off winter colds.
- It’s rich in B-complex group of vitamins like folates, thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like copper, manganese and potassium.
- Speaking of magnese…..a cup of pineapple chunks contains 76 percent of your daily need for manganese, an essential mineral required for the synthesis of healthy bone and cartilage.
- The pineapple, native to Brazil, was taken to Spain by Christopher Columbus in 1493 after he found it on the island of Guadaloupe.
Okay, this is really random, but did anyone else take French in Middle School or High School and watch Telefrancias with the puppet character, Anana?? I had totally forgotten about it until I googled “pineapple” this morning. Loved that show!
So, you tell me:
– Smoothies with a straw or a spoon?
– What’s your favorite thing to put pineapple in? Pizza? Fried Rice?
– Do you already add pineapple to your smoothies?
– What language did you take in High School?
Have you added a mango to your green smoothie yet?
Well if not, then YOU MUST
They add a tropical, sweet, deliciousness.
Trader Joes sells great frozen mangoes and it couldn’t be easier. I think Whole Foods sells them too. Who knows, maybe even Safeway?
This smoothie was THICK, let me tell ya.
My great morning……..
I went for a 3 mile run, made some coffee, blended up my smoothie…..and then, crawled back into bed to drink it while I read Sophie Kinsella’s new book, “She’s Got Your Number.” She’s such a good, easy read relaxing author. It was really cozy…..
Awww, cozy good morning. And somehow, I wasn't even late to work.
So, besides that they taste yummy, WHY EAT MANGOES you’re wondering?
Well, did you know:
- Mangoes are the world’s number one fruit and are now (finally?) gaining popularity in the US
- There are dozens of types of mangoes and they are the state fruit of India.
- Mangoes are an excellent source of vitamins A & C– A ripe mango gives you THREE times the recommended daily intake.
- Australian mangoes provide more Beta Carotene than any other fruit.
- Mangoes also have a ton of potassium and some B-6 vitamins.
And the real reason (in my opinion), they taste delicious!
Do you like mangoes? Do you put them in your green smoothies? What else do you add them to?
I’m usually a creature of habit (ahem, green smoothie addiction), but have been making an effort to try new products.
A few new-to-me things have been showing up in my kitchen and belly lately and I thought I’d share them with you.
1) Icelandic butter.
How do you think this is pronounced?
I usually buy Irish butter or Earth Balance, but Whole Foods just started carrying Icelandic butter and I thought I’d give it a try. It’s a bit pricey ($3.99) but so is EB and Irish butter, so oh well. Iceland lets their cows graze in a pure, natural, completely unpolluted environment yearound. Accordingly, their butter is very pure, creamy, and spreads really well.
My verdict?: I bought the unsalted version and wish I tried the salted. I think I prefer Irish butter, but was glad to give this a try.
2) Carrot juice. Ingredients: Organic Carrots.
Sadly, I don’t have a juicer of my own so have to rely on the storebought versions if I want veggie juice. I saw this at Trader Joes and thought it would be something different to try for a weekday afternoon snack.
Verdict?: It tasted like, well……carrots. Carrots are naturally sweet, so the juice was sweet as well, but I think I generally prefer to eat my carrots instead of sipping them.
3) Himalyan Sea Salt.
Himalayan sea salt is naturally pink and has many nutritional benefits. The salt has 84 minerals, is high in electrolytes, and the nutrition is more easily absorbable and much more use-able by our bodies than any sea salt. I’m low in electrolytes (per my doc), so thought this would be a good product for me.
My verdict?: I’m a bit weary that my $2 trader joes salt is really as beneficial as some of the more expensive ones, but all in all, this salt does have a different flavor than regular sea salt. I love the nutritional properties and will continue to use it in addition to my regular sea salt.
*** Weird thing though– see how it is packed in Pakistan, then shipped all the way to South Africa, and then brought to the U.S.? That is so weird and huge carbon-footprint-ish to me. Sorta wonder what the purpose is– just cheap labor?
4) Peppermint Whipped Cream
This one, I can’t take credit for. Jared bought it and I am so glad he did (also glad that it was buy one get one free….so we will be eating this for quite a while). This isn’t healthy in the least and is full of chemicals, but it is so good! Peppermint is a great combo with whipped cream.
Verdict?: Try this!
5) Red Champagne
Okay, well this technically isn’t in my kitchen…..but a girl in my book club got engaged last weekend so we celebrated with a glass. It was my first time drinking red champagne (actually, I had never heard of it before!) so thought I’d share with you.
It was a dark, red color and tasted sweeter than regular champagne, which I liked– reg champ is a little dry for me. I couldn’t find much info about it, except that it’s Ukrainian and made from cab and merlot grapes. I don’t think there are many brands at all.
Verdict?: Try it! Esp if you don’t care for regular champagne, this is sweeter and still fun & bubbly.
So…while I didn’t love all my new things, they were all fun to try.
Even adorable pugs try new things sometimes!
OK, YOUR TURN!!
Have you tried any of these products?
What’s new in your kitchens lately?
I’m spending the first part of the morning sitting at Starbucks and sipping on a tall coffee with soy milk. Their vanilla soy milk is the best.
This whole month, I was never given one of their cute Valentine’s Cups. Very disappointing.
Anyways, I wasn’t going to blog this morning, but as I was sitting here doing other stuff, I started thinking about how much Starbucks has become a part of our culture, especially the Blogger’s culture. Seems like every blogger mentions their favorite starbucks drink at least once per week.
And it’s extra interesting that all the Starbucks look alike– I’m in SF right now, but I could be in the middle of Kentucky and the Starbucks would look almost exactly the same. 30 years ago, this so wasn’t true– we would all be at our little corner coffee shops (per-wifi though, so we probs wouldn’t even be there). Think we’ll still be at Starbucks in 10 years? Or will something else have taken over?
My sbucks this a.m.
There’s also a weird Starbucks culture. This homeless guy has been standing (not sitting or leaning, just standing) near the bathrooms staring into space for the past 35 minutes. Trying to get warm? No idea. Last week at Starbucks, this guy started snoring LOUDLY in one of the chairs. And the week before that, a guy came in and started putting pounds of coffee into a garbage bag, not even trying to hide the fact that he was stealing. It was bizarre. The 18-year old barista just politely asked him to put them back and leave. I guess this is the life of a Starbucks in the City. I’m doubting this happens in the suburbs? Or maybe I’m just generalizing.
Oh geez, as I was writing this, Jared coincientally sent me this article about the first SKI-THROUGH Starbucks. Craziness!
Anyways, I looked up fun facts about Starbucks and found this great article.
Here are some facts for you:
1. There are over 87,000 drink combination possibilities.
2. The Cinnamon Chip Scone has more calories than a Quarter Pounder.
3. Starbucks opens 2 or 3 new stores EVERY day.
4. Most stores are designed in one of three layouts.
5. The name came from a character in Moby Dick.
6. Smiling is part of the employees job description. (Makes sense doesn’t it? The baristas always seem happy and smiley)
Okay, your turn:
- What’s your favorite Starbucks drink?
- How often do you go to Starbucks?
- Think the Starbucks “phenomenon” is here to stay….or we won’t be spending our time or money here in 10 years?
This morning, I had a smoothie.
It was the usual– frozen spinach, frozen blackberries, frozen banana, 1 tsp vanilla, water, and an Amazing Grass packet.
When I was at Whole Foods earlier in the week, I picked up this “flavor” of Amazing Grass.
“15,000 ORAC units per serving”
What the heck is ORAC?
Whatever it is, it made my smoothie taste good.
While I was sipping my smoothie, I figured I’d google it. At first, I mis-typed and googled “Orca” and a bunch of photos of whales popped up. I was pretty sure that wasn’t what was in my vegan smoothie powder.
The real answer is:
ORAC (the oxygen radical absorbance capacity) measures antioxidant levels (also known as the free radical destroying potential) of a particular food.
The higher the ORAC number – the stronger the antioxidant properties of the substance.
If you want foods with greater antioxidant properties, you look for foods with high ORAC levels. The USDA recommends we consume 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units daily. But based on the “5-a-day” fruit and vegetable serving recommendations, that will only give you an ORAC score of about 1,750 units. source
Hmmm, the Amazing Grass packet had 15,000 units, so I think I am good for the day!
Based on a 3 ounce portion (100 grams), here’s the ORAC ranking of the top fruits and veggies: Source
Goji berries 25,300
Black raspberries 7,700
Acai berry 5,500
Red raspberries 2,400
Yellow squash 1,150
Brussels sprouts 980
Alfalfa sprouts 930
Steamed spinach 909
Red bell pepper 710
Dark chocolate 13,120
Milk chocolate 6,740
Yay, Chocolate has a high ORAC value!
We tend to focus a lot on the power of antioxidants– we eat blueberries and raspberries, knowing how high they are. But we don’t tend to count our ORAC (unless you happen to be a scientist). Should we?
According to a Doc, “While these values are useful, they are not complete. Here’s the larger picture. The ORAC scores actually measure only one type of antioxidant activity — the reactive oxygen species or ROS that functions in the water-based compartments of the body. Along with many other water-soluble antioxidants, there are fat-soluble antioxidants as well. source”
So, moral of the story?
Eat your blueberries (and goji berries, and spinach, and of course, chocolate!). I don’t think it’s necessary to count your ORAC score everyday, but keeping it above 5,000 can only have positive results.