Check It Out! (2)

I love sharing information that I find helpful, funny, ironic, thought-provoking, etc. so I’m really pleased that many of you enjoyed my first “Check It Out!” post.

I don’t have any schedule for these posts, but I’ve accumulated some more interesting articles for you to “chew on,” if you wish. (Gotta keep those food metaphors going!)

Do you trust cookbook authors? You won’t after reading this Slate exposé about the misinformation and downright lies food writers make when giving instructions on caramelizing onions. Shocking indeed!

Are you a food blogger? Then you’ll find the Food Blog Alliance a very useful site for information on writing about and photographing food with contributions from a number of hands-on bloggers.

Say adios to good cholesterol. Honestly, the longer you live, the more you realize that health information is only as valid as the last scientific experiment. (Take, for example, the poor, yoyo-ing egg: once upon a time, it was good for you, then it was bad for you, now it is once again a beneficial food.) Today, the scientists have put HDL in the spotlight, and...oops…there goes one path to heart health!

Keep up with the grains-es! Just when I think I’ve got the alternative flour/seed world under control, it takes off again. “17 Healthy Grains You’ve Never Heard Of” includes some that I do know about, but also quite a few that I didn’t. This helpful article also summarizes health information about each grain.

Happy reading!

Yucca vs. Yuca + Yuca vs. Potatoes

Does the title of this post make you feel slightly dizzy? Me too. That’s why I felt compelled to put fingers to keyboard.

Without realizing it, I have been using the words “yucca” and “yuca” interchangeably when, in fact, they refer to two completely different plants.

And I’m not the only one. A Google search of “yucca preparation” yielded 554,000 results, although the web sites were really trying to demonstrate the preparation of “yuca.”

And, to add insult to injury, I’ve been pronouncing the two words exactly the same: “yuck” and “a.” However, this is only correct for “yucca,” not for “yuca” which sounds like the beginning of Yucatan.

Moreover, I realized I knew nothing about the root vegetable I’ve started using as part of my “Get Acquainted with Vegetables” year.

So, in honour of living and learning…

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Diet Danger! Does This Happen to You?

Yesterday I returned from a lovely five-day trip in NYC with my grandson Alex. We stayed with wonderful friends, Tom and Linda. Linda was my best friend from high school—do not ask how many years back that relationship goes. Suffice it to say: in the second half of the previous century.

Alex and I walked miles, travelled subways, investigated museums, etc. and so forth. I did not eat gluten or dairy, and I tried my best to stay on my diet by sticking with protein and vegetables/fruits.

You and I could quibble over my choice of honeyed peanuts instead of plain peanuts, but if I told you that I succumbed while waiting for a flight home that was three hours late, I’m sure you’d understand.

In other words, the Angel of Diets had taken generally good care of me. I had a piece of cake here and some coconut ice cream there, but my activity level was also sky-high. I figured that I hadn’t gotten off the diet track in any serious way.

But what is it they say about good intentions?

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Check It Out! (1)

I do a lot of reading about food and issues related to eating, dieting, and health. I often think: I’d like to share that with people who come to this blog.

So I decided to write a “Check It Out!” post for this kind of information. If you like the idea, let me know.

For the lactose-intolerant: I’d been thinking about investigating non-cow milks to find out the pros and cons, but this article, Which Non-Dairy Milk is Best? by the Nutrition Diva, covers a lot of good territory.

For curious dieters: Have you ever wondered how restaurant critics maintain their weight? Diet Differently: Shed Weight by Maximizing Your Flavor Per Calorie is about one critic who lost 40 pounds and kept it off by believing in gratification, not denial.

For the philosophically inclined: It turns out that peas can communicate with one another. Thoughts to ponder at If Peas Can Talk, Should We Eat Them?

For pepper lovers: The spouse won’t eat peppers so I don’t have recipes that include them. But that doesn’t mean I don’t salivate at the occasional good-looking possibility. Quinoa Stuffed Red Peppers look delish!

And, finally, in the “Lose Your Appetite” department: Read about 28 mealbreakers: “nasty, non-edible surprise[s] found in food while it is being eaten; often lawsuit-provoking, sometimes fabricated, always disgusting.”

No Weight Loss? Have You Had Your Thyroid Checked Lately?

This is a cautionary tale. It’s about the thyroid, a gland that controls your metabolism and can cause your weight-loss program to seemingly self-destruct.

I tell this story because it happened to me, and I should have known better because I’ve had thyroid disease for almost 20 years.

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You, Protein, and Amino Acids

This is what an amino acid can look like.

In March, I posted an article called “What’s an Incomplete Protein?” This article was also posted on the Fooducate blog where it came in for some criticism, and rightly so.

People wondered about my explanation of microbiology and, after I read their comments, so did I! Fooducate asked me to rewrite, and this is the result, adapted for this blog.

The article had come about because I had questions “niggling” at me. I eat very little meat but lots of beans and whole grains. Here’s what I thought was true: Beans are an incomplete protein that needed to be completed to provide a protein that my body could use.

My questions were: What exactly is an incomplete protein? And what do I have to do to make sure it becomes complete? As my commenters and further research showed me, these questions were outdated and simplistic.

But let’s start at the beginning.

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What is an “Incomplete” Protein?

As a result of working on The Bean Bake Blog, I’ve begun to look more closely at beans in general. For example, bean protein is considered an “incomplete” protein.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really understood the term: incomplete protein. I know we have to “complete” the protein with other food, but what does that mean, and how are we supposed to do it?

Clearly, it was time to do some research, and here is what I learned.

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Calories are Complicated!

Last June, I wrote a post, entitled “Is a Calorie Just a Calorie?” in which I discussed an interesting food study, reported on in The Washington Post. In this study, scientists examined the effects of various foods—potatoes, nuts, yogurt—on weight gain/loss and discovered that these effects were different than what would be expected, given each food’s calorie count.

Most importantly, this study demonstrated that weight loss is a lot more complicated than just “calorie in; calorie out.” 

Marion Nestle

Recently, Mark Bittman interviewed Marion Nestle, who is Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and who co-authored the 2012 book, Why Calories Count, with Malden Nesheim.

Bittman’s report of this interview, once again, points to the difficulties of just counting calories as weight-loss strategy. To summarize:

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For Newbies: A Day in the Gluten-Free Life

When I became a gluten-sensitive newbie a year ago, I couldn’t figure out what I’d eat on a day-by-day basis.

This hadn’t been a problem when I became lactose-intolerant because so many alternatives to cow’s milk products were in the grocery stores. Nor had it been a diet problem because my program (Weight Watchers) was not restrictive in choice, just in portion size.

But gluten-intolerance (and also a problem with oats, alas) threw me into a complete tizzy. So many of my favorite foods were out the window. What was I going to eat at breakfast? For lunch? What about when I just wanted to grab a snack?

Oh yes, I could eat potatoes, rice cakes, rice crackers, and rice/corn cereals until I was blue in the face, but eventually I overdosed. Basically, my food choices shrank to the point that they fit in a very small box. To say I was unhappy would have been a major understatement.

Fast forward a year later: I’m no longer down in the no-gluten dumps. In fact, I have a more varied and interesting diet than I’ve ever had. Why? It’s not because stores are carrying a lot more gluten-free products. I can’t eat most of them because they contain milk and/or are too high in calories.

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