SOLE Food Eating

Follow us on the next level of our journey at http://www.solefoodkitchen.com. We’re having fun with new recipes, more local eating and all new menus and weekly budgets for farmers market eating!

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Day 154–On Obesity and Industrial Food

Newsweek just featured a story on why the obesity epidemic is so pervasive (hint: it’s not that we’re lazier as a society) and now the Huffington Post has published a thoughtful article about why we diet but can’t lose weight. I’m reprinting part of it here with a link to the whole article. It is definitely worth a read! Click HERE for the Newsweek article and see below for the Huff Post piece.

The Last Diet You Will Ever Need

by Mark Hyman, MD

Why is it that we believe we can feed our bodies industrial, nutrient-depleted food-like substances empty of life and be healthy? How did we come to believe that food industry chemicals and processing could replace nature-made foods?

A hundred years ago all food was organic, local, seasonal, fresh or naturally-preserved by ancient methods. All food was food. Now less than 3 percent of our agricultural land is used to grow fruits and vegetables, which should make up 80 percent of our diet. Today there are not even enough fruits and vegetables in this country to allow all Americans to follow the government guidelines to eat five to nine servings a day.

What most of us are left with is industrial food. And who knows what lurks in the average boxed, packaged, or canned factory-made science project.

When a French fry has more than 20 ingredients and almost all of them are not potato, or when a fast food hamburger contains very little meat, or when the average teenager consumes 34 teaspoons of sugar a day, we are living in a food nightmare, a sci-fi horror show.

The very fact that we are having a national conversation about what we should eat, that we are struggling with the question about what the best diet is, is symptomatic of how far we have strayed from the natural conditions that gave rise to our species, from the simple act of eating real, whole, fresh food. When it becomes a revolutionary act to eat real food, we are in trouble.

The food industry, which is the second biggest employer in America after the federal government, heavily influences the media and government agencies that regulate it (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Congress) and intentionally confuses and confounds us.

Low-fat is good — so anything with a “low-fat” on the label must be healthy. But Coke is 100 percent fat-free and that doesn’t make it a health food. Now we are told to eat more whole grains, so a few flecks of whole grains are sprinkled on sugary cereals. That doesn’t make them a health food either.

The best advice is to avoid foods with health claims on the label, or better yet avoid foods with labels in the first place.

In the 21st century our tastes buds, our brain chemistry, our biochemistry, our hormones and our kitchens have been hijacked by the food industry. The food-like substances proffered by the industrial food system food trick our taste buds into momentary pleasure, but not our biology, which reacts, rejects and reviles the junk plied on our genes and our hormonal and biochemical pathways. We need to unjunk our biology.

Industrial processing has given rise to an array of addictive, fattening, metabolism-jamming chemicals and compounds including aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, to name the biggest offenders.

MSG is used to create fat mice so researchers can study obesity. MSG is an excito-toxin that stimulates your brain to eat uncontrollably. When fed to mice, they pig out and get fat. It is in 80 percent of processed foods and mostly disguised as “natural flavorings.”

And trans fat, for example, is derived from a real food — vegetable oil — chemically altered to resist degradation by bacteria, which is why modern cookies last on the shelf for years.

But the ancient energy system of your cells is descended from bacteria and those energy factories, or mitochondria, cannot process these trans fats either. Your metabolism is blocked and weight gain and Type 2 diabetes ensue.

Your tongue can be fooled and your brain can become addicted to the slick combinations of fat, sugar, and salt pumped into factory-made foods, but your biochemistry cannot, and the result is the disaster of obesity and chronic disease we have in America today.

No wonder 68 percent of Americans are overweight. No wonder that from 1960 to today obesity rates have risen from 13 percent to 36 percent and soon will reach 42 percent. Over the last decade the rate of pre-diabetes or diabetes in teenagers has risen from 9 percent to 23 percent.

Really? Almost one in four of our kids now has pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes? And 37 percent of normal weight kids have one or more cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar, because even though factory food doesn’t make them fat, it makes them sick!

It is time to take our kitchens and our homes back. Transforming the food industry seems monumental, a gigantic undertaking. But it is not. It is a small problem. In the small places in our lives, our shopping carts, the fridge, the cupboard, the kitchen and on our dining room table is where all the power is.

Read more at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/food-industry_b_1559920.html

Day 136–Health Data and Arugula Pesto

We have been on our family locavore journey for almost six months now. We feel better, have more energy and we are enjoying our food! So I was very interested to see what my doctor would have to say at my annual physical last week. Last year, she gave me a little warning that at 204, my cholesterol was high for the first time ever, and that I had gained about six pounds in the previous year. I was also having trouble sleeping and was feeling very moody at certain times of the month. I thought I might have a thyroid problem (I didn’t).

While we are more conscious about exercising, the biggest change we have made to our lifestyle is our food. We have eliminated soda and fruit drinks, including things like Crystal Light. We have eliminated almost all processed foods from our diet. We buy locally produced, mostly organic and hormone-free vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy. Do we have dessert? Absolutely! Are we starving ourselves or eating just beans and rice? Not hardly! We’ve been eating pretty darn well. So, is there a physical change?

Well, in the past six months, I have dropped 10 pounds and brought my cholesterol from 204 to 192. My triglycerides are at 89. My iron levels are no longer borderline anemic and higher than they have been in a long time. My blood pressure at 109/60 is excellent. My doctor was very impressed. In fact, she wanted my blog address!

So score one for local foods and all of you who produce them. Thanks for helping me get and stay healthy and for helping my family improve our health outcomes for the future!

Here is a recipe for a lovely arugula and spinach pesto that goes well with pasta, vegetables and is a great topping for grilled fish! If your arugula is very peppery and bitter (if it’s older, it may be), you may want to add more spinach to balance it out.

Arugula Pesto

  • 1 1/2 c. baby arugula leaves
  • 1 1/2 c. baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 c. chopped pecans
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2-3/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese

Combine greens, pecans, garlic and cheese in a food processor and process until chopped. With processor running, add olive oil, starting with 1/2 c. and using more if necessary to make a paste.

You can freeze this for use later (I like to freeze pesto in ice-cube trays and defrost as needed) or refrigerate and use within 24 hours.

Day 119–What’s Fresh at the Market?

Our spring weather in central North Carolina has been downright odd. Most of the winter we were in the 70s and now that it’s spring, we’re in the 50s and 60s. Or mid 80s. The weather for the weekend farmer’s markets was chilly, cloudy and windy, with temperatures in the 50s. Blech. If the weather is confusing to us humans, it has absolutely stunned most of our vegetable plants. As a result, we have more greens at the market, but the diversity of vegetables for most of the organic farmers isn’t all that great yet. But still, it is spring, and there is much to celebrate. Here’s what I found today:

  • Strawberries–still plentiful!
  • Lettuce–red, green and romaine
  • Greens–swiss chard, kale, spinach, tatsoi and bok choi
  • Spring onions
  • Spring garlic
  • Radish
  • Carrots
  • Greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Beets and rutabegas

If you love salads, this is a great time to get your lettuce and other greens before the summer heat hits us (which, given our weather extremes, could be any minute now). Get out to your markets this weekend and let me know what you’re finding in your area!!

Day 117–A Locavore’s Lunch–Sarah Cecilia Good Food Company

We love buying our fresh, locally produced vegetables, meats, cheeses, etc. and cooking at home, but sometimes the drive to cook just isn’t there. And sometimes dinner is so good that we don’t have leftovers for lunch the next day. I found myself hungry and bereft of lunch options yesterday while also visiting the newly reopened Downtown Farmer’s Market in Raleigh. I considered buying enough basic ingredients to make my own lunch, but then I came across the Sarah Cecilia Good Food Company Booth and decided to let someone make my lunch for me! I have seen the Sarah Cecilia booth at the Western Wake Farmer’s Market, but usually I’ve just finished breakfast and am not feeling up to buying prepared food. This day, however, was different. I was hungry!

The Sarah Cecilia Good Food Company is a small business run by Kim Hunter and Kelly Hatch. The name of their company comes from their two moms–Sarah and Cecilia. Sweet, no? Their dedication to preparing locally sourced, sustainably produced foods in healthy and nutritious ways drives their budding catering and food delivery business. They are present at many of the local farmer’s markets in the Triangle area and they also deliver meals to your home or office! I understand that Kim and Kelly are also interested in opening a cafe in Raleigh–I’m looking forward to that!

For lunch, I had the Asian noodles with greens, cilantro, chicken and onion. Wow, was it good. Flavorful and healthy and bursting with all kinds of fresh flavors. A nice portion for lunch, too and at $6, it didn’t break the piggy bank. The other option today was shrimp rolls, which sounded good also.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to find a healthy, local lunch while shopping for vegetables and that I could support a local, woman-owned business. And I felt virtuous enough with my super healthy lunch to have some strawberry cobbler later 🙂

Day 106–Starting Week 15–Budget and Menu

I absolutely love this time of year. Our farmers markets are full of fresh, spring produce, strawberries are ripe and we don’t have scorching temperatures yet. In some ways, shopping at the markets was easier in the winter–now I find myself completely smitten by all kinds of beautiful produce NOT on my shopping list. A good excercise in self-control. And–TA DA!–this is the first week for our Produce Box deliveries! My box of lettuce, greens, strawberries and hothouse cucumbers should be delivered Wednesday afternoon. We’ve planned a Saladpalooza night to celebrate!

This week’s budget is pretty good! I spent $94.40on our groceries for this week. I spent an additional $18.00 on strawberries that have become jam and frozen berries for later (recipes to come this week). Since we are getting more in our Produce Box, I went ahead and put almost all of the strawberries up for later. So, technically, I went over budget at $112.40, but the six half pints of jam and quarts of frozen berries will be used throughout the year. That should save us over the course of the year. We have a busy week ahead, so no super involved dinners. Hopefully we will get some rain this week–we sure do need it.

  • Water Oaks Farm (eggs): $4.00
  • Produce Box (lettuce, greens, strawberries, cucumbers and more): $23.00
  • Farmer’s Market, various vendors (bok choi, potatoes, onion): $13.00
  • Farmhand Foods (skirt steak from Meatbox): $15.00
  • Trader Joes (broccoli, chicken thighs, frozen fruit, soy milk, Ezekiel bread): $39.40

What’s on the menu for this week? Well, here it is–pretty simple, but good!

  • Sunday–grilled skirt steak, sugar snap peas, potatoes, salad; carryover frozen lemon blueberry pound cake and strawberries for dessert
  • Monday–chicken and veggie stir fry with spicy peanut sauce
  • Tuesday–grilled cheese with leftover Hillsborough Cheese Co cheese and frozen chicken soup [What’s On Your Plate? screening]
  • Wednesday–egg salad sandwiches, carrots and strawberries for dessert
  • Thursday–saladpalooza!
  • Friday–leftover cleanup night
  • Saturday–family pizza night, salad

A great moment for me this week was completing my first 5K road race in a long time. I have never been able to finish a race running the entire distance (I usually have to do a run/walk thing toward the end). But I ran the entire way and felt absolutely great! I am owing a good part of this to our better eating and more conscious exercising. We’re looking for the next race to run!

Have a wonderful week and enjoy the beautiful spring weather wherever you are!