Monday, November 17, 2014

Waste Not, Want Not

"If we don't waste what we have, we'll still have it in the future and will not lack (want) it."

This morning I heard a story on NPR that struck close to home. In fact, Adam and I just talked about this two weeks ago. The amount of food Americans waste is astounding. I'm guilty of it. We're all guilty of it. 

Image credit: Love Food Hate Waste site

I HATE that I waste food and someday when I have my own house, I plan have a compost pile (more on that later), so any food that is thrown out is at least turned into something I'll use. 

However, until that happens, this is the plan of action I need to take. Not to mention, the statistics are astounding. Read the NPR story here because I think it will strike a chord with you, too.

I go visit my aunt and uncle in California as often as possible. It is now law in California that whatever can be composted, must be. This includes coffee grounds, orange and banana peels, and napkins that have food waste on them. The state made it easy, by giving a green plastic bin with a lid to each household. You can buy compost-safe bags at the grocery, and once that is filled up you take it out to the big green bin outside, right next to the black trash bin and the blue recycling bin.

Hopefully, eventually, other states will pick up on California's composting program and we can begin to take better care of this planet we call home. Until then, consider composting in your yard. You can buy compost bins at garden nurseries, that you can easily spin (this movement is imperative to the breakdown process... if the food doesn't move, oxygen can't get to it and it doesn't break down. This is why landfills are a bad design and fill up eventually). All of that thrown away nutrients becomes fertilizer for your flower and vegetable gardens. You can't find soil much better than that!

What is heartbreaking to me, is that this is something both of my grandparents and parents grew up doing. This was the NORM. My mom grew up in the country and while they burned their trash (which I obviously do not recommend), all food waste was turned into fertilizer, for their huge vegetable garden. Only in recent history have we gotten so far from our roots; convenience is killing our planet, and our bodies. If everyone adapts these food-saving practices--either planning their meals and wasting less, or composting what we do waste--we're just making our world that much better. 

Today's Takeaways:

1. Plan meals so you don't waste food you purchase, especially produce
2. Split entrees with a friend or significant other when you do dine out
3. Start a compost pile or bin in your yard (here's a website with easy to follow steps)
4. Research. Learn more. Pass on the information. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

But seriously, what are we eating?

Sometimes, when I hear about or read things like the two articles in this post, I get really discouraged. It is discouraging to hear about how huge companies are running so much of our food industry and we have to channel Sherlock Holmes on a weekly basis at the super market, just to feed ourselves and our families decent stuff that isn't purposefully modified to make a profit. 

toxic wheat

That being said, I'll let these two articles do the rest of the talking for me. Maybe (hopefully) there isn't much truth to this first article - The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic - but I can't help but believe it.

The average American consumes the equivalent of 19.5 teaspoons a day in added sugars, but there are no federal guidelines recommending a limit.

Then there is How Much Sugar is Too Much? which I think has some really eye-opening points on how horrible sugar really is... and this I definitely believe to be true. Like 74% of PACKAGED foods have ADDED sugar. Always look at your ingredients to make sure there is not added sugar. It's not necessary! And, one 12-ounce soda a day can increase your risk of dying from heart disease by one-third.  !!!!!!

Sorry for the depressing post. The good news is (besides it being Friday), you can continue to "vote" at the scanner with the foods that you buy. Keep buying organic, responsibly farmed animals, produce, and grains, and someday we may turn the tide.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reality Bites

Me at The Crest, with my favorite pimento cheese dip.
Don't worry, I also got a salad.
Time for the truth. Adam and I caved this weekend. Okay, so it wasn't THAT bad. We had an honest conversation about our Saturday night plans with friends - he at a friend's house watching the game, me out to eat - and we decided that instead of going hungry or guilting ourselves, we were going to make conscious choices.

Our Saturday night choices also carried into a one-year-old's birthday party today, but I don't feel bad about it. Because tomorrow, while we're not giving up all five things again, we're definitely continuing to eat clean. We spent the evening tonight prepping lunches and snacks to get us through the first few days this week. We both agreed that we felt WAY better after just seven days of eating so clean and that feeling isn't lost on us (especially after eating cheese and sugar in the last 24 hours... ugh...). We were both sleeping better, waking up easier, and just 
over all feeling good. So that's been fun. 

Moving forward this week, we're sticking with no caffeine or sugar, no dairy, and no alcohol. Some of these things may be more permanent than the 21 days, we'll see. Gluten proved to be the hardest for me, mostly just not knowing what all it's in. Sometimes when I get what I like to call "emergency hungry", crackers are the easiest thing for some sustenance and I am okay with that.

So, the lesson here? No one can be perfect, even when you're trying really hard. And just because you slip once or twice, doesn't mean you should just give up and quit all together. Find out what is most important, and try and stick to it. As my mother has always said (besides never give a limp handshake), everything in moderation. 

Except sugar. Sugar is just bad. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Challenge: Day 4

Day four of 21 is upon us. Adam and I (mostly Adam) prepared some meals after grocery shopping on Sunday to take as lunches this week. I haven't been tempted really yet, which is nice. It's definitely made me more conscious of the choices I'm making.

Speaking of which, breakfast the past two days has been a smoothie (coconut water, spinach, banana, orange, hemp & chia seeds, and mango), along with a vegan, gluten- and sugar-free waffle (Van's) with almond butter on top.

image credit: Forks Over Knives
And I have to say, this breakfast has been sticking with me longer than I expected. It could be because my stomach isn't stretched from constant snacking, or it could be that it's just really filling and because I'm not tempted by other things, I'm not picking up Cheez-It's or the magic food birthday cupcakes (thanks, Dixon). (P.S. our office calls food that just appears "magic food".) 

Lunches have included chickpea salad (chickpeas, spicy hummus, onion, celery, mustard... thanks Adam), lentil soup (from Mazah), leftover challenge-friendly mushroom stroganoff... So far so good!

And lastly, dinners have included mushroom stroganoff and a Tuscan bean stew. Both from the Forks Over Knives cookbook.

As I mentioned in my first post about this challenge, it's really called a cleanse. I also mentioned that I do not like that term, because it has a negative implication. See this article about cleansing to see why cleanses are not only viewed negatively, but are also not really that great for you. That's why, I call this a challenge. A challenge to reset your habits and your body - most importantly - without depriving it of the key nutrients and things it NEEDS to do its job correctly.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's only 21 days...

Friends. On Saturday (November 1), I will begin a three-week "cleanse". Now, I don't particularly care for the word "cleanse", because I think that has a certain stigma attached to it, so I'm going to refer to it as a challenge. Either way it's also going to be a chance for me to reset some of the bad habits I've picked up, like eating office-provided Cheez-Its for my 10:00 snack. Almost every day. 

Originally inspired by this book (which is much more than just the food part), I'm better when I am held accountable, therefore I've recruited a few friends to accompany me on this 21-day challenge. I also plan to share my progress through the blog, so knowing you'll be reading these posts will help me with my will power.

What are the rules?
  1. No alcohol
  2. No animal products (eggs, dairy, etc)
  3. No caffeine
  4. No gluten
  5. No sugar
I can still have fruit, vegetables, and things like brown rice, buckwheat, etc. that don't have gluten. I can have nuts, seeds, herbal teas, and still plenty of yumminess. I predict that the hardest parts will be the preparation so I don't get caught hungry and without a proper snack, and the temptation when I go out to eat. WHICH, will happen I'm sure at least once.

So, who wants to come on this journey with me? If you are, make sure to post in the comments of my blog posts over the next few weeks!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Does your meat have the COOL factor?

If you're tired of hearing me talk about avoiding meat as much as possible, well, #sorrynotsorry. If you still choose to eat meat, I'm going to continue to post things like this article. #youarewelcome.

A somewhat recent blogpost by Marion Nestle covered what I consider to be one of those "duh" topics, that I think every American (and human in general) should have the right to know. Where our food COMES from. The Country-of-Origin-Labeling (COOL) law would require that meat products be labeled with the country where the food animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. People would know how far their meat traveled before they purchased it for consumption. You can understand why some in the business might not like this...

Related, is this article on 10 fish you should avoid (and why). The very first slide is regarding imported fish, that might come from a country with more lax standards on the types of chemicals and antibiotics that are used in raising. Some of these fish are over-fished, or just full of mercury. None-the-less, still a good resource.

Moral of this story? One you've heard before - come on - let's all say it together now... "Buy local and organic, whenever possible" :)