Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Trying to figure out the fat puzzle can be a real pain. Transfat, unsaturated, good, bad, indifferent it can be confusing to figure out nutrition. It doesn't help that every time you look, someone is telling you what you should and shouldn't eat. One day you're told to eat butter, the next day margarine and then back again. I was under the impression for a long time that you should only eat the whites of eggs. As it turns out, now the studies show that almost all of the nutrition of an egg is in the yolk, and the cholesterol there is "good" cholesterol.  You can go nuts trying to figure it all out.  So, here are 3 very simple (maybe a bit oversimplified) rules about fat.

1)If it's a trans fat (look for "partially hydrogenated oil" on the label), then don't eat it. Period. This man made substance has been linked to a variety of health issues, in particular heart disease.

2)If it comes from the ocean or from open fields (fish, game, free-range animals, or plants), it's good for you. From tuna to avocado to nuts to venison, this is unsaturated fat—the heart-healthy stuff.

3)Everything else—dairy fat and most of the meat we encounter—won't hurt you in limited amounts. But there are healthier things to eat. Just don't overdo it.

The biggest problem is that the big food manufacturers start adding fats to food that should be good for us.

Here is a list from Eat this not That (click the link to check it out) that calls out 6 of the worst restaurant offenders in the U.S. Do you ever eat these or something similar?

#6. Ruby Tuesday Triple Prime Bacon Cheddar Burger 1,333 calories, 101g fat 1,892mg sodium
That's more sodium than I try to take in for an entire day!! And close to 75% of the calories!!
     New rule: The more syllables in a menu item's name, the more fat there's likely to be in the dish. Less than 3 percent of the beef produced in this country earns the USDA's "prime" rating, and that's not a bad thing. Prime beef, as it turns out, is the fattiest beef you can sink your teeth into. If you really want a burger, you're better off heading elsewhere. Not one of Ruby's has fewer than 700 calories. Go with the Plain Grilled Top Sirloin and earn all the beefy protein without the superfluous calories.

#5. Chili's flame Grilled Ribeye with broccoli and mashed potatoes 1,460 calories 106g gat(44g saturated) 3,700 mg sodium
For a healthy diet, the USDA recommends you cap your daily saturated fat intake at 20 grams. This meal more than doubles that, and it's only 12 ounces of meat. Sure, ribeye is a notoriously fatty cut, but it's primarily the bath of butter that pushes this steak's fat count to such unhealthy heights. Switch to the Guiltless Grill Classic Sirloin and save an astounding 1,090 calories.

#4. Chili's Bacon Ranch Chicken Quesadilla 1,650 calories 107 g fat (39 g saturated) 3,450 mg sodium     Traditional Mexican food is big on seasoning and light on cheese, but with this quesadilla, Chili's takes a different approach. Trying to appease palates primed for indulgence, the restaurant layers on the fat in four ways: cheese, ranch, bacon, and sour cream. Go with the Margarita Grilled Chicken and you'll cut the overall fat content by more than 80 percent.

#3 IHOP Chicken and Spinach Salad 1,600 calories 118 g fat (32 g saturated) 2,340 mg sodium
     Chicken? Good. Spinach? Good. IHOP’s Chicken and Spinach Salad—downright deplorable. You'll need to i-hop for four hours to burn it off. This salad is exactly what makes restaurant food so questionable and potentially unhealthy. The name makes it sound like a paragon of nutritious eating, yet the numbers reveal it to be just the opposite. The chicken here is actually fried chicken, and the spinach is little more than a small bed for bacon and cheddar cheese. You could snarf down six pancake short stacks and still take in less fat. Save yourself the waistline damage and opt for the Simple & Fit Simply Chicken Sandwich instead.

#2. Applebee's New England Fish & Chips 1,930 calories, 138 g fat (24 g saturated) 3,180 mg sodium
     The American Heart Association recommends eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week. By doing so, you lower your risk of such chronic diseases as heart disease and cancer. But if you prepare fish by deep frying it in a tub of bubbling fat—like Applebee's does with this artery-clogging monstrosity—you reverse all those benefits. Opt for Applebee's Garlic Herb Salmon instead. It offers 109 fewer grams of fat, nearly two-thirds fewer calories, and a heap of flavor that will still leave you satiated.

#1. Cheesecake Factory Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken 2,300 calories 103 g saturated fat 1,517 mg sodium.
     Cheesecake Factory prefers to keep its nutritional stats hidden, but a law in California forced it to reveal saturated fat. Total fat is still a mystery, but this meal breaks through the 100-gram ceiling on saturated fat alone! The culprits here are the oversized portion and the thick, fat-riddled alfredo sauce. The typical restaurant recipe for this sauce relies on some combination of cream, butter, oil, and cheese, and there's no reason to believe that Cheesecake's version strays from the norm. Unfortunately, the chain offers no single pasta dish with fewer than 1,100 calories, so keep yourself safe by sticking to the new Skinnylicious menu.

Well, there you have it. It is possible to eat at a restaurant and not totally blow your nutrition plan, but it takes a little knowledge.

Stay hungry my friends


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Food that's not food

Here is an interesting article over at some may surprise you some may not.  But it's definitely worth considering.

Stay informed and stay Hungry

Friday, July 26, 2013

Where is the line?


     Going to take a slight swerve here. At least it may seem that way, but it does go to the direction of where I want this blog to go. Here are the questions I am struggling with; Do food ethics matter? If they do, then just what does that mean? Is the ethic simply that if we feed everyone all the time, then anything goes? It's not what I am addressing today but, does it matter how we grow grains and vegetables? By that I mean what chemicals are or are not o.k.? Genetically modified? Mega ag companies? And I could go on but these are things I will address at a later time. Today I'm going to consider meat and the animals that we raise for that purpose. This will just be a small piece of a very large and complicated puzzle so let's see were it goes.

     The thing that has brought this to the fore front for me is an ethical struggle I am having with something that would seem pretty irrelevant and minor. Pig wrestling. Yup, pig wrestling. Now let me get this out of the way up front, I'm not a member of PETA, I eat meat, I have hunted deer, ducks, geese, squirrel, rabbit etc. That being said, the more I learn about the processing of meat in this country, the more vegetables I eat. So what does pig wrestling have to do with food ethics? Maybe nothing, that's the struggle I am having.

This sums up some of the issue as I see it.
"It's widely agreed that because animals feel pain we should not make them suffer gratuitously. Some ethical theories go even further: because of the capacities animals possess, they have a right not to be harmed or killed. Such views concern what not to do to animals, but we also face the question of what we should do to assist the ones that may be hungry or distressed. And if we do, say, feed a starving kitten, does this commit us to feeding wild animals suffering through a hard winter?"
Animal Ethics in Context
Clare palmer
 (at a later date I'll give a bit of a review of this book.)

     I am not a farmer, never raised pigs and know nothing about hog psychology. But one argument that I will not accept or even consider is one that I have actually heard and read. "The pigs love it, they are having fun" NO, the events I have seen I don't think the pig was having much "fun". Here is a excerpt from an ad for a pig wrestling event.

"Hog wrestling is a competition where four person teams enter the mud pit/arena and try to catch a hog and lift it up onto a padded barrel. The porkers are clearly in their element, the competitors clearly are not. The whole thing ends up being a tremendous amount of fun."

from an event in Crivitz, WI July 20 2013

I can't say for sure, but that pig doesn't look it's in its  element, or like it's having much fun.

     Now with that out of the way. Who cares? It's just a pig. What's wrong with having a little fun? Most of these events benefit charities or causes, that makes it o.k. doesn't it? The only people that complain are tree huggers, PETA freaks or city people that have no clue. The bigger, more "pig friendly" of these events use several pigs and each pig is only in the ring once and with a strict time limit. So they really care for and protect the pig, right? Hey if weren't for these events these pigs would probably already be on someones plate, so we are doing them a favor.

     Hopefully, you are starting to understand my dilemma. But Del, this reads like you are dead set against it. Maybe it does. Maybe I am. And it is the way I am leaning. But here is the thing, I regularly complain about people putting human emotions and thought onto animals. Do animals have and show emotions? I have been around animals enough to know that, to a degree, yes they do. But I think we make a mistake when we equate those instincts with human emotion and rational thought. Take the photo above. It's very easy to put a human emotion on that pig because of the way it looks. Is it emotion as we know it or is it simply a projection of the fight or flight instinct? I am not sure, and no, neither are you unless you are the "Pig Whisperer".

     So now that this is as clear as the mud in the ring, lets muddy it up a little more. Forget the ethics (yeah right), is it legal? It depends on how you read the law and which side of the argument you are on. Let's look at the relevant Wisconsin state statute. (I'm using WI because that's were I am).

     Chapter 951 of Wisconsin law deals with Crimes Against Animals. This is a three page document, which you can look at here. But, let me read for you what it says about pig wrestling or does it say anything about it?  You decide.

"(1) No person may intentionally instigate, promote, aid or abet as a principal agent or employee, or participate in the earnings from, or intentionally maintain or allow any place to be used for a cockfight, dog fight, bullfight or other fight between the same or different kinds of animals or between an animal and a person. This section does not prohibit events or exhibitions commonly featured at rodeos or bloodless bullfights."

     If you come down on the side of pig wrestling is unethical and illegal, you focus on the highlighted section above. The "between an animal and a person" thing, Well that seems clear cut doesn't it? Nope. The other side of the legal argument is that first, this isn't a "fight" and second "this section does not prohibit events or exhibitions commonly featured at rodeos or bloodless bullfights". So it comes down to how read the law and what you consider these events to be. I've never seen a pig wrestling event at a rodeo or bullfight, so I don't know how "common" that could be. Is it a fight? Maybe, maybe not, but I have never seen the pig grab a human and stuff him in a barrel. Obviously lawyers on both sides are pretty convincing that they are right, it is there job after all.

“Since pig wrestling is between an animal and a person and is not commonly featured at rodeos or bloodless bullfights, we feel this is a crime against animals as per Wisconsin Law,” says Lynn Paully co director of the AFA. "Moreover", she notes, "not only are those who run or participate in pig wrestling competitions breaking the law, but a spectator of such an event is also in violation of Chapter 951 and could face felony charges."

But then again,

Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard says "I do not believe that what is occurring here could be described as a ‘fight.’ I also strongly suspect that what is described here is akin to exhibitions commonly featured at rodeos. For these reasons, this office declines to take further action at this time in this connection.’

     Well that clears that up doesn't it? So where does all this leave me? I'm not going to say that if you enjoy watching or participating in one of these events that you are a terrible evil person, or that you can't go to one. (telling you what to do offends my Libertarian sensibilities). My simple rule is this, "first do no harm". Which leaves it for you to decide if this causes harm or not. And that is what I want to accomplish, put the topic out there and let you decide.

I'm going to end it here. I could go on and on and still not make things any clearer or sway one side of the argument or the other. So what do you think? Does it matter? Is there such a thing as ethics in the treatment of food? And just where is the Line?

Tofu wrestling anyone?

Stay hungry my friends

some other sources

Monday, July 22, 2013

A long time coming.

Hello again,
     It's been awhile between posts.  Why?  Well, I have been on a bit of a transformation and desire to change the focus and content of this blog.  I am going away from a typical food/recipe blog and will be writing about all things food.

     First, let me address the change in my personal motivation and for the change of my "food conscience".  Last March, by the prompting, prodding and general complaining of my wife, I made a long over due doctor appointment.  (and our insurance company said I had to.)  When I went to the doctors office I weighed in at 251 pounds,  my cholesterol was way high (and the good was way low),  my blood pressure was way to high, glucose was high, I had fatty liver and had continuing back issues.  There is a condition called metabolic syndrome which is diagnosed based on 5 conditions including good and bad cholesterol (HDL and LDL), glucose levels, blood pressure, and BMI.  If 3 of these factors are not within a healthy range you are determined to have metabolic syndrome.  Being the over achiever I am, I qualified on all 5!!  Here is the thing, I felt pretty good.  Sure I knew that most of my back issues had to due with my weight, my energy was a bit low, and I avoided anything physical because I knew that I would either hurt myself or wouldn't be able to do it.  So what to do?

     My doctor gave me some ideas;
1. Do nothing and probably be dead in 10 years or so. (not a very appealing option)
2. Start vigorous exercise. (again, not very appealing)
3. A complete change of lifestyle and how I look at food and activity. (not terribly appealing, but more so than the other options.)

     I will get into the specifics as we go along, but for now I will briefly outline what I did.  First of all, your spouse, significant other, family or who ever else is important to you must be on board and willing to change with you.  In my case my wife was not only willing but had been waiting for me to get off my butt and do something.  With that done,  toss out all of your perceptions of food, especially in the western world and even more so in the U.S.  What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat all have to change.  I went with what is commonly called the "Mediterranean Diet", honestly I went this way because I like the food of the Med.  I quickly learned that "diet" as we view the word is a stupid thing.  In our usage of the word it almost always refers to a way to lose weight, I know that it has been said in many places many times but it is worth restating,  DIETS DON'T WORK!!!   What works is a lifestyle change, not temporary but permanent.

     I can honestly say that as of today I have only started half of the lifestyle change, that change being what I cook and how much I cook.  I am just now starting the more active part of the change and I will get into that as we go along.  Just by changing what and how much I eat the results have been amazing, if I do say so myself.  After just 4 months my cholesterol is within normal ranges (my HDL is still 2 points to low but that could be heredity, or will improve as I get more active), blood pressure is normal, and I have lost 33 pounds!!! Yup, 33 pounds just by changing my view of food!!  And that is where I am going with this blog.

     My plan?  Post about the food changes I have made and other options you can chose.  Let's have a discussion on where our food comes from and if our food chain is healthy.  Organics?  Natural?  Local? What the heck is all of that and does it matter?  Food politics, activism, and is Monsanto the most evil force on the planet? Or, is fast food and the companies that supply them?

     Raw, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, ancient etc... what are they, and do they make any sense?

      These are just a few topics to address.  I'm nobody's expert, but what I do have is time to read and a love of investigation.  I hope to be a clearing house of sorts, of all things food and "diet".  I will always give you my sources so that you can check them out yourself and decide what is what, and when possible I will point you to opposing opinion so you can be fully informed, particularly on topics of food politics. (things like GMO, organic certification and others)

     I will also review books, websites, TV shows and anything else I come across that may be of interest or is suggested to me.  Along those lines,  this is a very, very good book that I would recommend to anyone interested in the topic of "Mediterranean" eating and it's benefits.  I will have an in depth review of it in the future.

So that's it.  I know this post is a bit scattered, but I will narrow the target for each post as we move forward.

If you shop Amazon Please us the links on my page to go there.  It helps me out a lot...THANKS!!!
Stay hungry my friends (for the truth)
 Oh, I am going to leave up the posts from my previous blog just in case you want to check it out.