Monthly Archives: July 2014
Crunchy and salty, how we love this snack time power couple! There’s no substitute for the crave-worthy flavor and satisfying texture that make carb-centric snacks so delicious. But store-bought chips are usually fried in an unhealthy amount of oil, which packs a significant amount of fat. Instead, try baking your own homemade chips by using vegetables, fruits and whole-wheat pitas. We’ve rounded up this list of healthier chip recipes that will certainly cure your case of munchies. Just don’t forget some salsa, hummus or dip!
Baked Sweet Potato Chips with Orange and Thyme
Orange juice and blood orange zest give an unexpected twist to the classic sweet potato chip. If you need to use more than one baking sheet, make sure to adjust the 20-minute bake time accordingly. Bonus: These are paleo-friendly!
DIY Pita Chips
It’s quick and easy to make your own pita chips, and this recipe tells you the how much of each spice is optimal for seasoning. Try adding Parmesan if you want a cheesy taste, or use nutritional yeast if you’re vegan. We recommend using whole-wheat pitas for a serving of heart-healthy whole grains.
Homemade Taro Chips
Known as the “potato of the tropics,” taro is a purple root vegetable that’s a good source of vitamins B6 and C. Eat these sophisticated chips au natural or class them up for a party by using them as a crunchy base for salmon tartar.
Garlic Bread Spinach Chips
Breadcrumbs, Parmesan and garlic give green leaves a kick in this savory snack that delivers a healthy serving of iron. Don’t skimp on the olive oil otherwise the delicious seasoning won’t stick to the spinach. And, be sure to use parchment paper on your baking sheet so your chips don’t burn.
Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips
Transform your apples into a cinnamon-y sweet treat! This recipe requires a three–hour baking and cool time, but the end result is worth it. We say fitting in a workout is the best way to make the time pass!
Baked Chili Cheese Fritos
Tortillas, spices and olive oil come together to give your taste buds a spicy punch in this gluten-free and vegan recipe. It’s got all of the flavor and none of the suspicious ingredients found in the store-bought version that used to turn your fingers orange. Sprinkle these crisps on to chili or a hearty winter soup.
Tofu Chips with Sesame and Miso
Asian-inspired seasoning made of miso paste and sesame seeds will take time to make, but the savory umami flavor is sure to get your taste buds’ attention. Pro tip: Make sure to press your tofu to release excess liquid before slicing it.
Beet Chips with Curried Yogurt Dip
The sweetness of beets enhances these veggie crisps. To save some calories, skip the frying and bake these instead. They’ll pair perfectly with a mild dip that’s got extra protein from Greek yogurt.
Lemon Dill Zucchini Chips
Tart taste lovers, rejoice! Lemony flavor steals the spotlight in this recipe. To slice your zucchinis as thin as possible to reduce baking time, use the thinnest setting on a mandolin slicer.
Microwave Sweet Potato Chips
If you don’t have an oven or a dehydrator, you can still make homemade chips with minimal equipment and ingredients. To prevent burning, make sure you keep a close eye as your sweet potato slices bake for 8 minutes or so since some microwaves emit an uneven amount of power.
Hint of Lime Baked Tortilla Chips
A dash of citrus ups the ante on your standard Tex-Mex spread. The secret? Bake tortillas until they start to crisp, sprinkle them with a zest and salt mixture and then return to the oven for a few final minutes… Olé!
Pita Cups with Homemade Hummus
Though not technically a chip, these pita cups make a unique — and healthy! — appetizer. Use an empty can or cup to make circular pita rounds, press them into muffin tins and voilà! You’ve got yourself a handy little cup just begging to be filled with hummus, salsa or artichoke dip.
For those with a sweet tooth, giving up things like soda and milkshakes can be hard. Thankfully, a smoothie is nature’s answer to that. Loaded with nutrients from fresh fruit and calcium sources, smoothies are a favorite for health nuts and everyone alike. Unfortunately, not all smoothies are created equally.
THE WORST KINDS OF SMOOTHIES
The worst smoothies are loaded with sugar, which — when consumed in excess — can affect nearly every part of the body. Excessive sugar consumption can cause cavities or exacerbate existing oral health problems, says dental-care network Kool Smiles Facts. And poor oral health is linked with serious health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
If you’re trying to better your health, it’s best to focus your diet around whole and natural foods. Packaged smoothie mixes are often packed with sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients. Make sure to carefully check the ingredient list and Nutrition Facts label, and skip the overly processed mixes.
Most of the fruit juices sold at the stores are not what they seem. While you may be reading apple juice on the label, what’s inside is likely just concentrate, sugar and water. If your smoothie has been made with the fruit juices (even ones marketed as a “healthier” option) you are likely drinking too much sugar. Try to avoid smoothies created with “100% juice,” and instead go for real juice made from 100% natural ingredients.
Made with Yogurt
Smoothies made with yogurt sound like a healthy choice. After all, yogurt is supposed to be a good source of calcium and protein. Consuming yogurt is also beloved for its weight control benefits. However, some of the popular yogurt brands are full of useless ingredients and sugar.
THE BEST KINDS OF SMOOTHIES
The best smoothies are the ones that have natural ingredients. They are better for your overall health and loaded with nutrients your body may not be getting anywhere else. Think of your next smoothie as a supplement to your meal and not just a sweet treat for a warm summer day.
Coconut milk is great for your health. When it has no added ingredients, it tends to be high in nutrients that are hard to find in just one place. Loaded with protein, fiber and potassium, it’s an understated nutritional powerhouse.
Freshly Squeezed Juice
Naturally, the best option for a smoothie is freshly squeezed juice. After all, this is what people think they’re buying when they order a smoothie. No concentrate for you — just go straight to the source.
Green tea is a natural antioxidant. It is ideal for weight control, boosting the immune system and cleansing the body. As with anything, make sure the green tea being used is all-natural and free of needless additives.
Smoothies are supposed to be a healthier drink option. However, in many cases, a smoothie is just another way to consume too much sugar. Skip the added sugar next time and know the facts before trusting your drink.
A common industry practice puts consumers at higher risks for eating food contaminated by deadly pathogens — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If acclaimed authors Upton Sinclair (The Jungle), Jeremy Rifkin (Beyond Beef) and John Robbins (Diet for a New America) haven’t given you enough reasons over the last century to be wary of the meat industry, then a year-long investigation by the Kansas City Star may do the trick.
Mike McGraw kicks off the KC Star’s investigative series by introducing Margaret Lamkin, who has been forced to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life, after a medium-rare steak she ordered three years ago at Applebee’s was contaminated with a pathogen. The resulting illness destroyed her colon.
Of course we already know about E. coli and other food-borne pathogens; people have gotten sick from everything from spinach to peanut butter. But the news here is that what sickened Lamkin wasn’t just the meat, but a process the industry uses to tenderize it. McGraw explains :
The Kansas City Star investigated what the industry calls “bladed” or “needled” beef, and found the process exposes Americans to a higher risk of E. coli poisoning than cuts of meat that have not been tenderized.
… Although blading and injecting marinades into meat add value for the beef industry, that also can drive pathogens – including the E. coli O157:H7 that destroyed Lamkin’s colon – deeper into the meat.
By using this process (which according to the story, 90 percent of processors will use, depending on the cut), people are at a greater risk of exposure to life-threatening illness. And consumers have no way of knowing whether their meat has undergone this process.
Ending up with a fecal-contaminated burger is bad, but it’s just the beginning of what the investigation uncovered. Here are the other key findings, as McGraw writes:
- Large beef plants, based on volume alone, contribute disproportionately to the incidence of meat-borne pathogens.
- Big Beef and other processors are co-mingling ground beef from many different cattle, some from outside the United States, adding to the difficulty health officials have tracking contaminated products to their source. The industry also has resisted labeling some products, including mechanically tenderized meat, to warn consumers and restaurants to cook it thoroughly.
- Big Beef is injecting millions of dollars of growth hormones and antibiotics into cattle, partly to fatten them quickly for market. Many experts believe that years of overuse and misuse of such drugs contributes to antibiotic-resistant pathogens in humans, meaning illnesses once treated with a regimen of antibiotics are much harder to control.
- Big Beef is using its political pull, public relations campaigns and the supportive science it sponsors to influence federal dietary guidelines and recast steaks and burgers as “health foods” people should eat every day. It even persuaded the American Heart Association to certify beef as “heart healthy.”
Read the full investigation, and think about how this scenario fits into the larger picture of what we deem acceptable as a food system. Just last month Consumer Reports shared frightening findings about pork.
And there is a ray of good news. Ocean Robbins wrote today:
People are taking an increasing interest in the way that the animals raised for food are treated. In fact, a poll conducted by Lake Research partners found that 94 percent of Americans agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from cruelty. Nine U.S. states have now joined the entire European Union in banning gestational crates for pigs, and Australia’s two largest supermarket chains now sell only cage-free eggs in their house brands.
The demand is growing for food that is organic, sustainable, fair trade, GMO-free, humane, and healthy. In cities around the world, we’re seeing more and more farmer’s markets (a nearly three-fold increase in the last decade), and more young people getting back into farming. Grocery stores (even big national chains) are displaying local, natural and organic foods with pride. The movements for healthy food are growing fast, and starting to become a political force.
Investigations like the one done by the Kansas City Star are crucial for public education, as is support for the growing food movement that needs help in turning purchasing power at the market into political power that can affect decisions about food safety and industry practices.
“Big agribusiness would probably like us all to sit alone in the dark, munching on highly processed, genetically engineered, chemical-laden, pesticide-contaminated pseudo-foods,” Robbins writes. “But the tide of history is turning, and regardless of how much they spend attempting to maintain their hold on our food systems, more and more people are saying NO to foods that lead to illness, and YES to foods that help us heal.”
The food processing industry and its raw food supplier allies have been clever at marketing their products as healthy while attacking the foods they replace as unhealthy. And it has worked both ways.
Saturated fats including coconut oil and real butter were demonized as obesity producers and heart health hazards while trans-fatty acid hydrogenated vegetable oils and margarine were marketed as substitutes that prevented both obesity and heart attacks.
All were lies marketed without intervention from the the Federal Trade Commission (FTA) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Yet both agencies are quick to jump on scientifically confirmed health claims from whole food providers such as those who grow and distribute cherries and walnuts (http://www.naturalnews.com/029698_censorship_FDA.html).
So we are forced to separate fact from fiction and see our way through the blizzard of lies and contradictions within the health foods field. As basic rules, moderation and different foods for different folks makes sense.
But marketing disinformation has vaulted questionable foods into undeserved health food status.
Guest post from Brad Shepherd of Fooduciary, via New Hope 360.
The truth is, weight gain or loss is about much more than calories in and calories out. More important than the quantity of calories is the quality of calories and what those calories are saying to your body. The information shared to your genes from broccoli calories is much different than what comes from cookie calories. But it seems there may be an additional level to this story—fat chemicals.
Environmental chemicals known as obesogens are found in many places, including pesticides used on conventional produce. They program our bodies to store fat and develop disease and do so to such an extent that, in theory, a head of conventional romaine could actually cause more weight gain than a grass-fed burger.
Obesogens belong in the class of chemicals known as endocrine disruptors. This class of toxins simulates the effects of natural hormones and disrupts normal hormonal responses. In terms of weight gain, “chemical calories” may actually be more significant than the caloric value of those calories.
How do obesogens exert so much influence? One method is by disrupting the normal release of leptin, the hormone that tells the brain you’re full. In addition, obesogens encourage the body to store fat by reprogramming cells to become fat cells, and they also contribute to insulin resistance. What’s more, they’re inflammatory substances, producing oxidative stress and causing damage to the body’s energy source, mitochondria, which then has a cascade of negative aftereffects.
Certainly some people are more sensitive to these toxins than others, though some are highly susceptible. Obesogens can have significant effects on children in utero, causing the fetus to produce more fat cells and increasing the likelihood of childhood obesity.
At the source
With those types of concerns and possible outcomes, the big questions are, where do these chemicals come from and how do you avoid them?
Meat and dairy are two major sources. Commercial meat production operations are permitted to use a variety of six hormones to promote growth in beef cattle or milk production in dairy cows. Studies have shown that people who eat hormone-treated beef have higher levels of foreign hormones in their blood and tissues, and one study with 10 universities as participants states a connection can be drawn between hormones found in dairy and the drastic rise of obesity rates.
Fish aren’t off the hook either. The feed pellets given to farm-raised fish include antibiotics that are classified as obesogens, and the flesh of farm-raised fish has been found to have high levels of pesticide residue.
As mentioned, conventional produce is another large contributor. The sprays used on crops are estrogen mimickers and thyroid disruptors, both attributes that promote weight gain.
Sadly, there’s more. BPA and other chemicals in plastic disrupt the endocrine system and increase the size of fat cells. Same goes for the pesticide residues, traces of pharmaceutical drugs and other toxins in tap water (The National Institutes of Health classifies tap water as a major source of endocrine-disrupting chemicals).
Fragrances found in household and beauty products make the list, and so does that microwave popcorn your coworkers love so much. The popcorn, as well as non-stick and water-resistant products, contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), an obesogen that promotes tumor growth. Female fetuses exposed to PFOAs are three times as likely to be overweight or gain weight easily.
It seems that these obesogens are everywhere—one study showed 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies. The question is, how do we make sure we’re part of that other 7 percent?
How to avoid obesogens
The good news is that we can control and limit much of our exposure, and the results can be dramatic. In one study the participants lost an average of 15 pounds in just six weeks by avoiding obesogens. How do you do that?
- First off, buy your food from sources you can trust that use chemical-free growing methods. Buying from local farmers and ranchers who use sustainable production methods is ideal. Choose organic when shopping in the grocery story. If you can’t afford to buy everything organic, familiarize yourself with the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen, the most toxic conventional produce you should make it a priority to avoid.
- Avoid conventional dairy (milk, butter and cheese), and be very picky about your meat. Pasture-raised, grass-fed and grass-finished are the best options, and that goes for eggs as well. Make sure your seafood is wild-caught, and avoid canned options unless they’re from a reputable source like Vital Choice. Wrap your meat and cheese in butcher paper or wax paper instead of plastic shrink wrap.
- Speaking of plastic, always verify your water bottles and food containers are BPA free, and even better, use glass, ceramic or compostable materials when possible.
- Of course only drink filtered water, and add tub and shower filters to your wish list, since your skin is no barrier to obesogens.
- Make your own fragrances with essential oils, buy natural versions or do without. This goes for home and body. Cosmetics are a common source of harmful toxins.
- Make your popcorn from scratch with organic corn or buy brands that state PFOA-free on the label. And for the rest of your cooking, ditch the non-stick. Stainless steel and cast iron are better options.
- If you can believe it, high-fructose corn syrup makes this list as well (how is that stuff still allowed in food?!!). HFCS affects appetite by interfering with insulin and leptin, so there’s one more reason to always avoid it.
Foods you should eat
Finally, some great news: there are foods that can help you eliminate the toxins you do come in contact with. All vegetables are fantastic for aiding the body in its detoxification and elimination processes, and cruciferous veggies are the superstars in this regard. Kale, cauliflower, broccoli and other crucifers metabolize the harmful forms of estrogen and show them the exit when they’re all done.
All that said, this article isn’t meant to scare you into becoming a subject for the sequel of What About Bob? Just as our immune system protects us from foreign invaders, most of our bodies are naturally good at eliminating toxins if we give them the fuel they need to do it and make a conscious effort to keep our exposure levels at a minimum.
Go out and enjoy life, try to be mindful of the sources of these fat chemicals, feed yourself clean food, and watch those fat cells melt away.