Tag Archives: Healthy Living Tips

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan’s

Found this very interesting book on the library shelf last week while browsing titled “Food rules: An Eater’s Manual”. One of the most interesting and simple books on food I have read so far, and I have read quite a few.

I am one of those “fortunate” people  with whom food has always had an extra special relationship, it has been my friend in many a down ward spiral and has pepped me up a gazillion times, and then when am back to normal, I feel like it is my enemy and that I am always fighting a losing battle against it! Well with this ongoing love- hate relationship between us I am kind of drawn to any book, video et al with anything remotely tied to food. Yeah yeah, after trying umpteen diets and fads I know one needs to be aware of what one eats, why one eats, Should eat at regular intervals, eat healthy etc…  if it were only that easy.. There are just so many contradicting pointers out there it is like a maze, figuring out what to eat and what not.

So sack to the topic at hand, the book – So I pick it up, a simple cover with a long table of contents. The Part I title itself triggered my interest – What Should I eat? that is followed by the 2 other sections What kind of food should I eat? and How should I eat it?

The author has pretty much put together simple facts about food and us into a book. I like the introduction where he basically says all we need to do is “Eat food, not too much, Mostly plants“, he calls them the 7 words which form the essence of all that we need to know about food.

Michael Pollan says that it does not require a nutritionist to tell us what we should eat or should not, what we need to do is follow some simple basic principles, which were the ones our ancestors followed.

He has many more rules in the Book, I am picking a few as examples –

  • Don’t eat anything your Great – Grandmother would not recognize as food. (See for me that would mean letting go of most of the junk food that I am used to having)
  • Avoid foods that contain more than 5 ingredients (You can choose the number of ingredients, just stick to it and see what you will buy! More ingredients mostly means more processing involved)
  • Don’t eat breakfast cereals  which change the color of your milk.
  • Avoid foods which contain ingredients which are not used in a normal pantry. (Xanthan Gum, Ethoxylated diglycerides etc… to name a couple) I like this one which is similar better – if a third grader can’t pronounce an ingredient don’t buy it, simple! 🙂
  • You want to eat junk food? Eat all you want as long as you cook it.
  • If it’s called the same name in all languages it is not food (the author means the brand named products like Big Mac,Cheetos, Pringles and their ilk)
  • Eating what stands on one leg is better than eating what stands on two legs which is better than eating what stands on four legs. {Chinese Proverb} (Plants – one leg,fowl -2 legs,  animals- 4) It does leave out the healthy fish wonder why?
  • Avoid foods with high-fructose corn syrup (there are ads on tv which say the body uses sugar and high fructose corn syrup the same way, but that is not the issue, high fructose corn syrup signifies that the product is highly processed)
  • Avoid foods which pretend to be something else (eg. I can’t believe its not butter – means it is not butter and it is not natural)
  • Only eat food that will eventually rot, as real food is alive and it has to die.
  • Eat more leaves and treat meat as a special occasion food or flavoring.
  • The whiter the bread the sooner you will be dead!
  • If it came from a Plant eat it, if it was made in a Plant, Don’t.
  • Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince and Dinner like a Pauper (well it is kind of the other way around for many of us).

Opinion

There is a lot more to read in the book, pick it up it has some common sense suggestions. The book is very well written and simple enough to understand and follow. It is a useful book for anyone who cares about health and food, I am sure you will find helpful tips for a healthier lifestyle for you and your family. Like the author says it is not about “nutritionism” it is simply about Food.

A Video of Prof Michael Pollan talking about – Food Rules. I found it very informative and interesting.

Check it out on Amazon

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual

Healthy Snacks For A Healthier Lifestyle

Summer the season for fresh produce in the local farmers markets and the farms in around the suburbs… It is the perfect time to start a healthy and sustainable way of living. Enjoying fresh farm grown produce, be it fruits or vegetables is such a pleasure.

Summer is the time when every one feels more hungry and the days definitely are longer and we are all more active too. The easy way would be to just reach for the candy bars or the ice -cream sandwich which feels so good when we enjoy it but really does nothing to the hunger.

Most of the snacks we get are loaded with sugars and fat which while adding unnecessary calories does not help satiate our hunger. In my quest to make summer healthier I put together this  list of healthy snacks:

From the kindergartner to the kid in you these snacks suit everyone in the family 🙂 –

Dried fruits mix – I buy Pecans, Walnuts, Peanuts, Raisins and other dried fruits (I like:) ) and make my own mix. I mix the nuts up with a drizzle of honey and roast them in the oven at 300F for 15-20 minutes and give them a good shake together and keep them in airtight jars. Keeping them all roasted and ready in different bowls and letting your little one make his/her own mix is a good way to start a healthy life style really young. It’s fun and Healthy!!

Bake Your Own Fruit Muffins -My favorite snacks have always included muffins and cookies. Now I have adapted my love of baked goods to include healthy baking. I use whole grains, bran, less sugar etc.. to make healthy versions of my favorite sweet snacks. I have substituted butter with apple sauce and have had decent results baking cupcakes and muffins. These are some  of my favorites:

1. All-Bran Chocolate Brownie

2.Healthy Fruit Muffin

3.Healthy Chocolate Muffin

4. Healthy Granola Bars

Cheese – It is just a matter of finding low fat cheeses and keeping the quantity in control. The variety available is mind-blowing, my favorite incidentally is the Laughing Cow wedges which come in different flavors too. One of my favorite appetizers is a slice of pineapple, an olive and a piece of cheese on a toothpick, try it I like the sweetness of the pineapple with the salty tartness of the olive and the cheesiness of the cheese, simply perfect!

Fresh Fruits – Chopped fresh fruits are always a very healthy snack to go. It is even more interesting when they are cut using cookie cutters, melon-ballers etc… different shapes make it more attractive and fun! I love making flowers (best fruits for flowers – Melons, pineapples, mango, grapes etc..)

Fresh Fruit smoothies – Love making smoothies (has been a favorite since childhood, now I avoid adding the scoops of ice-cream to it 🙂 ) Basically blend fresh fruits with milk and sometimes add nuts to give it a kick. One special one I make is the Apple, Pistachios and Milk smoothie try it you will agree it is yummy!! I use 1% milk and only use a cup per smoothie (there by keeping my calories under control). Some of my other favorites are listed below in the fruit bar category.

Fruit bars I make my own fruit bars by freezing smoothies 🙂  beating together fruits and nuts in a blender and freezing them in yogurt cups,jello molds,  ice trays etc to make healthy natural replacements for ice-cream! best ones according to me :

1. Strawberry banana with either yogurt or milk added  (my secret ingredient with banana is to add half a pod of cardamom for flavor)

2.A Very berry icy –  Strawberries, blue berries, black berries etc any berry you can find and milk. Adding a touch of vanilla adds a different flavor to it.

3. Choco Banana Icy – This one is for the Chocoholic – Banana and milk with a teaspoon of either drinking chocolate or cocoa powder. When using cocoa powder I tend to add a tsp of sugar to it.

4. I also like frozen pieces of fresh fruit when they are in season (it helps to keep cool when out in the sun) Fruits that freeze well – Grapes (especially when they are getting a little too ripe) Water melon (anything which is really juicy will crystallize and it makes it more sweet.

Vegetables cut into small strips with a healthy dip – Dips can be anything from peanut butter to a ranch dressing. I make my own ranch dressing which is lighter, tasty and fresh. With dressings I keep an eye out for the amount of oil and salt I use.

The recipe can be found here >> Easy to make Light Ranch Dressing

This is another dressing which I like to use >>

it is a Soy dressing from Food network

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy oil
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1 generous tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced
  • Salt to taste (I tend to avoid the salt as soy sauce has enough salt for my taste)

Whip all the ingredients together and drizzle on vegetables or salad greens.Enjoy!

Hoisin Dressing: (from the foodnetwork.com)

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients and whisk well to blend. (Will keep in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.)

Yield: 1 cup

My basic Vinaigrette (I like to make it fresh every time, keeps the tanginess intact)

  • EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)- 4 tbsps
  • 1/4 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • Chopped Fresh Basil,Thyme and oregano
    OR
    a Tsp of dried thyme, basil and oregano
  • Pepper and salt to taste

Whisk together the liquids until it becomes viscous (cloudy and white) add spices, pepper and salt to taste enjoy drizzled over your favorite greens!

1 cup of Fresh Lemon Juice

Mint leaves for Garnish

8 cups water + 1 cups of sugar  (heat in the microwave for 4 minutes)

Add some ice to the sugar water mixture to cool it down. Mix in the lemon juice and your lemonade is ready. I serve mine with lots of ice and a mint leaf. Check for sweetness I am tad on the less sweet side.

Enjoy Summer with all the fresh ingredients and flavors at your local Farmers market. It is a fun way to spend time finding healthier produce and also getting to know the producers 🙂 So get out there Enjoy the dog days of Summer!

Live Green!

I would love to add any other ideas anyone would like to add to this list.

Some things which I think will help:

Kidco Healthy Snack Frozen Treat Trays

Lunch Boxes and Snacks: Over 120 healthy recipes from delicious sandwiches and salads to hot soups and sweet treats

Healthy Snacks with Blue! (Blue’s Clues)

How Clean is Your Reusable Grocery Bag?

BYOB – Bring Your Own BAG! It’s a green Mantra of sorts for sustainable living and reducing plastic bags in the landfills. There was a time when most grocery stores had only plastic bags, with the conscientious customer demanding greener options they added the paper bags and now most stores offer a sturdy, recycled plastic bag! Strong, reusable and recycled! What more would one need!

So every week I head to my grocery store with my trusted set of 4 bags 2 canvas and 2 recycled plastic bags. Use no additional plastic bags or paper etc and feel good about my Green habit. Today I read this article on Discovery health about the cleanliness of the reusable grocery bag! I was surprised and shocked when I realized that my plastic bags belong to the 97% of bags which were not cleaned on a regular basis!

The article by Benjamin Radford is based on a study by researchers in the University of Arizona who looked at reusable grocery bags in California and Arizona. They picked the bags from patrons as they entered the stores. Public unawareness of cross contamination was found to be almost universal. It is estimated that there are about 76,000,000 cases of food borne illness in the United States every year! And most are from improper handling or cooking of food.

Their conclusions and recommendations are as follows:

  • Consumers almost never wash reusable bags (a whopping 97% do not!)
  • Requiring printed instructions on reusable bags that they be washed between uses or the need to separate raw foods from other food products. (Duh… Why did I not think about washing the plastic bags!?)
  • Hand or machine washing reduced the numbers of bacteria in reusable bags by >99.9%
  • A potential significant risk of bacterial cross contamination exists from using reusable bags to carry groceries
  • Bacteria were capable of growth when stored in the trunks of cars (I leave mine in there most of the time)
  • Large numbers of bacteria were found in every reusable bag, but none in new bags or plastic bags (So it is how we use it that transfers the bacteria into the bags)
  • Coliform bacteria including E. coli were found in half of the bags tested (Washing hands, food etc will definitely help)

I would add the following to it –

  1. Keeping separate bags for groceries and say the library or Gym clothes etc… (a dedicated grocery bag basically)
  2. Cloth or canvas is the better option as it can be washed in hot water and does not disintegrate with heat.
  3. For meat and related products, keep a dedicated bag so it does not cross contaminate.
  4. I am also suggesting sun exposure after washing, sunlight is a good deterrent to micro-organisms and also gets rid of moisture easily 🙂

Take a look at your grocery bag, I know I will never look at it the same way again. Remember to wash it regularly and keep your family safe.

Also wanted to mention the standard plastic bags that we see around can be recycled for details and to find a recycling place near you go to PlasticBagRecylcing

Couple of neat cotton grocery bags are below click on the picture to go to their websites.

Live Green!

Interested in reading the whole study click here

The Discovery.com Article is here