Monday, June 30, 2014

One Sad Stick

I would imagine by now, most of us know American portion sizes are distorted from what is actually a true serving. This shouldn't come as a surprise though, because restaurant servings and packaging of store-bought foods are very misleading. Restaurants give us enough food for essentially 3-4 meals in one sitting, and even your favorite bottled tea is typically more than one serving per container.

This first link is a video of serving sizes vs. our reality. This is tragic for things like guacamole and peanut butter, two of my favorites. I know better, but I still eat more than two tablespoons of peanut butter in one sitting. Although, I would rather you go crazy with guac or a good PB than Lucky Charms or Oreos, but I digress.

Below is a cheat sheet that I found that I think is a fun image to remember what serving sizes we should be dishing out on our plates. 

Another trick: use a smaller plate. By using a salad (or child's) plate, you can't load up on as much in one sitting... and you have time to think before overeat OR grab seconds.

This second link has three more ways to think about your portion / serving sizes. Just a good reminder to eat the right things, in the right way (not that we're not going to splurge on Jeni's every now and then...)

Reminder / disclaimer: I'm not perfect - and I hope you all know I don't think I am. These blog posts are as good as a reminder to ME as it is informative for YOU. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Garden Tips & Tricks

A few years back, a friend and I planted a garden in her yard. We were ambitious. Twelve pepper plants (all hot), three eggplants, three zucchinis, three cucumber, at least six tomatoes. It was going to be GREAT. And it was. At first.

Our cucumbers were the first to poop out. They were all so pretty in a little row, why were they turning brown!? We were diligently watering every day in the heat of summer. Everything else was happy! It turns out, cucumbers aren't HUGE fans of water. Yes, they like to be watered, but they don't like to SIT in water. 

Tip: Plant your cucumbers in mounds (see picture). This way, they get the water they need, and shed the rest. It's as easy as planting your cucs last, and using some of the excess dirt you accumulate when planting your other veggies, to build a small mound. Then, create a nice little hole for the plant, and voila. You've got yourself a happy cuc plant, well into August.

As you may have noticed, I said our cucs were the FIRST thing to poop out. Second, were our tomatoes. Not the plants, but the fruit. They got these weird brown spots on the bottoms of the fruit, and it was on ALL of them. A bug? A disease? Nope. 

TrickWe've all heard of healthy soil for our fruits and veggies, and tomatoes need calcium. In order to prevent those dreaded brown spots, a month or so before planting, save a few eggshells. Wash them out thoroughly and let them dry out completely. Then crush them into tiny pieces, and bury them in the area where the tomato plants will be going. You'll have happy, healthy tomatoes, without those dreaded brown spots.

Overall, our that year garden was fruitful (pun intended). The best way to get healthy food is to grow and prepare it yourself. And, it's pretty rewarding to come home from work and find how hard your garden has been working while you're away! Below are some of the goods from my garden last year.

Monday, June 23, 2014

13 isn't always an unlucky number

Sometimes there are things that you would just rather not know. This slideshow - The 13 grossest things you're eating - may be one of those things, but I think you should REALLY read it. However, if you only want to skim, below are the 5 I find most disturbing and think you should read.

- Paint chemicals in salad dressing. 
My alternative: use lemon juice (from a lemon), olive oil, or balsamic vinegar (or a mixture of the three) instead. Matt's wife makes a great mustard / balsamic / olive oil mix. Get creative, don't buy the bottled shit. Real stuff tastes better anyway.

- Sex hormones in milk. 
My alternative: DON'T DRINK ANIMAL MILK. It's not good for you. Drink almond, rice, hemp, or cashew milk instead. Even better: make your own (someday I'll have a post about this).

- Human hair and feathers. Umm, what?????

- Brain-frying food dyes.
Basically, just stay away from crap that has dyes in it. This can be hard, but it's not if you are eating whole foods. Read labels.

- Disease promoting popcorn bags. 
My alternative: use a simple brown paper bag, 1/4 - 1/3 Cup of popcorn kernels, and microwave for about 2 1/2 minutes (make sure you fold the bag over 2-3 times, or else you'll have a mess).

Or, for a greener option, you can take 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil and heat it on Med. in a pot with a lid. Once the oil is hot, add your kernels. Put the lid on, allowing a little air to escape. Wait until the popping slows, and remove from heat. I add some lemon juice and Apple Cider Vinegar to dress mine up. A lot healthier than butter!

Rachel got me this great - and easy to use - popcorn maker / flavor mixer for Christmas. It works similarly to the stove top method, but mixes your toppings automagically! 

So, moral of the story (as many stories you'll see here) is eat natural, whole foods. Limit your processed stuff, and you'll limit the dyes, chemicals, and human hair consumption. (What?)

Here's the original story

Friday, June 20, 2014

Beef: It's what's for dinner??

I stopped eating meat two and a half years ago as a personal choice. While I added back in fish every now and then (mostly in sushi form), I also occasionally crave things like buffalo chicken dip and sausage gravy (nothing but the best, obviously).

But seeing this latest article by NPR - after the original "scandal" two years ago - I am SO glad that I don't have to worry about ingesting things like THIS.

If you've ever watched the documentary Food Inc., you know about the ammonia treated - stuff - that most major companies added to their ground beef. Mostly added as a filler so that meat could be sold cheaper, once consumers caught wind of this crap and boycotted, many big retailers took it out of their meat. But now that beef prices have risen to up to $4.00 a pound, many have added it back in. Luckily some big box groceries, like Kroger, have chosen to keep their meat filler-free.

I would prefer to keep this - and any ground meat - out of my diet. But, for those of you who like your beef, might I recommend going to a local and/or organic meat market to get your goods?

Here's the full story on NPR's The Salt: 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sparkling Water Blind Taste Test!

I've never been a big soda drinker but I would have one every once in a while as a "treat", or when I needed that kick of bubbles. However, I've quit that crap all together, and now keep a stash of sparkling water at home and at the office. In my opinion, sparkling water is a great replacement for calorie and artificial sugar-laden sodas, but often times you have to get used to the taste (especially if you are / were a regular soda drinker). 

I've recently gotten my co-worker and friend Matt on the sparkling water train, as he gave up soda 3+ months ago (yay, Matt!). With all the different types in the stores, we wanted to do a blind taste test of the same flavor in two brands - Source Perrier's Pink Grapefruit and La Croix's Pamplemousse (French for grapefruit). 

Matt tried each kind. He was very professional about this, kids. He sniffed, he sipped, he gargled, and he swallowed. After two or three rounds of this rigmarole, he chose his winner.

And the winner is.... Source Perrier's Pink Grapefruit. Matt said it had a cleaner finish and a crisper scent.

Here are the deets as we know them: You can purchase 12 12-oz La Croix's at Giant Eagle for $4.99, and 10 8-oz Perrier's at GE for $5.99. We suggest you use a Perrier for your Gin & Tonics (which I will be trying), as tonic water can sometimes have additives.

What's your favorite sparkling water flavor?

Note: we were not compensated in any way by either La Croix or Source Perrier for this test, this was merely for fun.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hooray for healthy pod's First Post!

So, this would be my first (ever) blog post. I may just be writing into white space, because who knows if I'll actually get any followers!

I'm using this as a way to share my thoughts on healthy living / food / recipes, etc. with the possibility of gardening and other oddities thrown in for good measure. This blog is the result of an email I began sending friends with factoids I myself thought were too good to keep to myself, as well as the fact that my family health history is less than stellar.

All posts are my opinion, so please feel free to share yours. I'm open to my friends recommendations / blog ideas, so share away!

For my first post, I'd like to share this Asparagus Risotto recipe Adam and I made last night, from Thug Kitchen. We added mushrooms, which I needed to use, and I think my only other addition would have been toasted pine nuts (because you can never go wrong with toasted pine nuts). I forgot to take a picture of it (usually I get at least one), so I promise my next post will be more visually appealing. Let me know how yours turns out!  

Credit to Thug Kitchen for the tasty recipe!