Category Archives: food

More Food Marketing Rage

Last week I brought up my dislike of marketing and especially food marketing. Rage is probably the more appropriate term. But I was reminded of another example of food marketing gone awry while reading an article at The Atlantic: How Vegetable Oils Replaced Animal Fats in the American Diet.

And this reminded me of another article I had read at the Weston A Price Foundation, The Oiling of America

We’ve been dealing with anti-fat hysteria for several decades now in the United States. Everyone has heard “fat is bad” and done their part (if they care) to reduce the fat in our diets. Even food consumption statistics reflect this trend. We Americans are obeying the recommendations of cutting out fat.

But did you know that the anti-fat hysteria actually got a toe-hold in the very late 1890’s and early 1900’s? No joke! This is when the message of animal fat being bad for us started to circulate. You know, “arterycloggingsaturatedfat.” Animal fat bad. Oil good.

The message of animal fats being bad for our health started with the introduction of vegetable oils to the market, circa 1900-ish. And technically, it wasn’t a vegetable oil that entered the market, but cottonseed oil; essentially an agricultural waste product (which, when unrefined, apparently has a whole lot of bad things going for it, including being poisonous to animals and making men infertile… see the article in The Atlantic).

You’ve probably all tasted cottonseed oil… also known as Crisco. Yes, Crisco. That perfect substitute for lard and also a connoisseur of delightfully flaky pie crusts.

The Atlantic article covers some interesting ground about how Crisco came about, an effort by a young Proctor & Gamble to come up with a cheaper means of producing soap (because lard was the ingredient du jour for soap in those days and in high demand). Eventually they figured out that cottonseed oil worked well in soap-making, and created what we know as Ivory soap.

On a side not: Ivory was marketed as the first bar of soap to float. Now who knew soap didn’t float before this? Fascinating stuff!

Back to the main focus. Through some wizardry in a science lab P&G discovered you could also cook with cottonseed oil and soon they began marketing it as an alternative to cooking lard. They used all kinds of approaches to selling the white greasy goo and part of those efforts were to seize upon the idea that it was a healthier alternative to lard.

There wasn’t an authority existing to demand honesty in marketing practices so this statement went unchecked. Eat hydrogenated oils! It’s healthier than butter and lard! Of course, we now know hydrogenated oils are the worst thing you could be putting into your mouth. Trans saturated fats anyone?

Imagine with me, if you will, a world that rejected Crisco, a world that rejected the notion animal fat is bad for you. What would our nation’s health look like today? Would heart disease be the killer it is? Would we be as obese as we are?

Because a company, more than a century ago, hocked an agricultural waste product as a healthy food stuff, and began dismantling the long-standing tradition of animal fat as cooking medium, are we mired in a health crisis? Did P&G start a cascade of decisions and thought processes that rippled profoundly through our nation’s health, to our detriment?

This is why I despise food marketing. No matter how innocently it may (or may not) have started, something reckless was unleashed. It was a recklessness that made us doubt Mother Nature and her wholeness. It fostered a trust in manufacturing processes and an idea that you can improve on Mother Nature.

But it really hasn’t worked out so well for us or our health.


Get Your Manipulation ON

For about 12 years now I’ve worked in a marketing-related field and from the get-go, I learned pretty quickly how to manipulate statistics to say whatever I wanted. I’ve also learned how to put a positive spin on just about anything… channeling a sort of a bright-side, optimistic angle to everything.

I’m not a bright-side type girl. Oh, I used to be in high-school, nothing much bothered me in those days, and if something did bother me, I was quick to find a positive in its midst. I wasn’t annoying about it – at least I don’t think I was – it was just genuine, youthful optimism that radiated from me. Or naiveté. Take your pick.

But now, I’m bothered. I’m part of a machine, a spin doctor, knowingly distracting from the negative by waving my hands over here at something positive. Distract, confuse, draw-in. Manipulate.

That’s what bugs me the most: the manipulation of marketing. I hate being manipulated and I dislike manipulating people (notice I don’t say I hate manipulating people… I’ll do it on occasion if it benefits me… and if you’re honest, so do you… but it feels pretty under-handed and bitchy when I do so I try not to).

So generally, I despise marketing.

Before I continue, I do want to say, marketing is a part of my livelihood so I don’t want to bash it completely. I think a lot of the people in marketing are good people and are mainly looking to do their job well, and maybe don’t think of the consequences of the products they’re promoting. And, sometimes products aren’t that big of a deal… the consequences of marketing them well are not going to upset the time-space continuum or anything like that (Booyah! LOVE being able to use nerdy-assed references like “time-space continuum!”). Like mustard. Is mustard going to hurt anyone? Not unless you’re allergic or you go through bottles of the stuff everyday.

So why am I even talking about marketing and my dislike of it?

Food. The marketing segment that most sticks in my craw is food marketing. It makes me want to do this:

It makes me want to rage… RIGHT NOW (thank you Brian Wilson… the baseball player, not the beach boy… Google him. LOVE HIM). Or this:

Except… you know… to unhealthy food. How awesome would it be to run down a grocery aisle and smash the stuffings out of all the processed crap lining the shelves?

Food marketing is, in my mind, the evil step-child of marketing. It must be destroyed before it consumes our soul, filets us over a flaming bbq, and invites over a special dinner guest by the name of Lucifer.

Why am I so repulsed by food marketing? It convinces people they’re doing something healthy for themselves when they aren’t. AT. ALL.

Case in point: Breakfast Cereal

I noticed recently that one of the cereal giants is promoting their cereals as having “even more healthy whole grains!” I think there was even a blurb about whole grains being the first ingredient on their label. But like the man behind the curtain, pay no attention to all the sugar making this cereal palatable!

  • Cheerios – 1 Cup – 1g sugar
  • Chex Wheat – ¾ Cup – 5g sugar
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch – ¾ C – 10g sugar
  • Cocoa Puffs – ¾ Cup – 10g sugar
  • Fiber One Raisin Bran Clusters – 1 Cup – 14g sugar
  • Golden Grahams – ¾ Cup – 10g sugar
  • Honey Nut Cheerios – ¾ Cup – 9g sugar
  • Kix – 1 ¼ Cup – 3g sugar
  • Lucky Charms – ¾ Cup – 10g sugar
  • Total Raisin Bran – 1 Cup – 17g sugar
  • Trix – 1 Cup – 10g sugar

What I find particularly interesting is that kid cereals are keeping the sugar to around 10g or less. Companies have been kicked around over this issue so they’re doing a small part to change the sugar content of kids’ cereals. Or they’re at least changing the serving size to make us think they’re reducing the amount of sugar in kids’ cereals.

LETSBEHONEST… who REALLY has only ¾ cup of cereal? When I ate cereal, I’d usually have about 2 cups in my bowl (mmm lucky charms) for an estimated 27g of sugar, not including milk.

Surprisingly, when you look some of the more “adult” cereals, the sugar content soars. Who would have thought Fiber One or Total Raisin Bran would have more sugar than sweet “kids” cereals? And what about parents who feed their kid those more adult cereals thinking they’re doing their wee one a nutritional favor?

We’ve been in such an uproar about kids cereals we forgot to closely examine all the other cereals on the market. For the record, the only cereal that is doing you any favors are the unsweetened, plain jane cereals: Cheerios, Chex, and Kix. Better yet, instead of cereal, reach for a couple eggs and a piece of fruit instead.

Case in Point 2: Nutella

Breakfast never tasted this good? Well of course not. When has breakfast ever included 70+ grams of sugar? Yeah, that’s right people. The “Nutella breakfast,” as depicted on the Nutella website, includes the chocolately, hazelnutty spread slathered on a piece of whole-wheat toast with a piece of fruit, a glass of orange juice, and a glass of milk which totals around 73g of sugar. WTF!?

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Orange juice – 21g sugar
  • Skim Milk – 12g sugar
  • Whole Pear – 15g sugar
  • Whole-grain Toast – 3g sugar
  • Nutella – 22g sugar
  • Total – 73g sugar

73 grams of sugar is more than 17 teaspoons of sugar. A 2 tbsp serving of Nutella alone as about 5 teaspoons of sugar – the new daily recommended limit for women, and nearly twice the 3 teaspoon limit for children.

This complete “healthy” breakfast is more than 3 times the recommended sugar intake for your average women. For those male readers, the new sugar intake recommendation for men is 9 grams of sugar (lucky bastards). This breakfast would fill your sugar allotment for the day. And I’m pretty sure all of us would be famished two hours later from such a breakfast.

GIVE ME FOOD NOW BEFORE I RIP YOUR HEAD OFF!!!

And these are just two examples of where “healthy” marketing is distracting us from the real story.

Other “healthy” Fare:

  • Milk: It does a body good? Especially the low-fat stuff with 12g of sugar per serving.
  • Snackwells: Low-fat! Bet you can’t eat just one since they’re loaded with sugar!
  • Lean Cuisine/Healthy Choice: Also low-fat. Also loaded with salt, sugar, preservatives, and packaged in a lot of questionable plastic.
  • Canned Fruits/sauces: Tons of added sugar.
  • Fruit Juices: Tons of added sugar.
  • Yogurt: loaded down with both sugar and artificial sweeteners.

So I’d probably be insulting you if I thought this was a new concept for you. I’m sure we’ve all heard this in one form or another. The stuff advertised as healthy, most likely isn’t so. You live this day in and day out. But let’s conjure some strategies to deal with this marketing minefield anyway.

  1. Be skeptical of everything. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. We’re not going to make this a probably statement. We’re going to say that it is, without a doubt, too good to be true.
  2. So with that acknowledged, we have to educate ourselves with the facts. Find out what is behind the curtain that these marketing wizards are trying to distract us from. What sleight of hand are they trying to pull? This is as easy as reading the nutrition label AND the ingredient list.
  3. Of course, identifying what needs to be avoided and deemed “unhealthy” requires you to answer some questions for yourself on what you deem to be healthy. So take 10 minutes and write down your food values, your stance on food issues. What is important for you to consume and to avoid? For me, this encompasses a Paleo diet that makes some room for full-fat dairy; specifically cream, butter, and cheese. I know sugar is a huge problem for me so I’m going to avoid it like the plague. I also know I feel icky when I eat bread and grain-based products. I get indigestion and reflux symptoms that range from annoying to major discomfort and heart-attack like symptoms (scary stuff!). And I like the idea of sustainably raised food. That ties into my values and food choices as much as I can afford it.
  4. Bypass food manufacturers and marketers almost completely by consuming a diet consisting of mostly whole foods; meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and dairy. Yum. Those inner aisles in the grocery store are stuffed with food products that aren’t vital to your diet. They don’t add anything you can’t already get from meats, eggs, veg, fruits, nuts, and dairy… except for convenience.
  5. Be diligent. If you haven’t checked labels on your old standbys lately, check them. Things can change. Economic hardships sometimes demand cost savings and companies may change their recipe in order to use cheaper ingredients and keep their profit margin in the black.
  6. Remember, food companies aren’t here to care for us. They’re in it for the money. I totally support them in their right to make a product, sell it, and make a profit. Otherwise, why bother? Unfortunately they don’t all bring high standards to the product table. Find companies you trust, who engage in practices you can support, and trade your hard-earned money for their quality products.
  7. Whenever you can, shop locally. It’s great to be able to interact with the people who grew/raised your food. You get a sense of their values and practices and can feel confident in the quality on your plate.

Okay… I could probably go on, but this is already very lengthy, so I’ll stop. I will bring up one other thing though… my focus has been on the sugar content of these foods and I think sugar is a BIG problem in the American diet. But we haven’t even begun to tap into the additives, preservatives, “natural flavors,” packaging, and sustainability of all these processed foods. Perhaps a topic for another day.

How do you feel about marketing? Do you want to scream at your tv when you see cereal commercials promoting healthy whole grains while they are saturated in sugar? Have you ever wanted to go Gallagher on a grocery store aisle?


Herb Broiled Eggs

Totally borrowing this photo from So Delushious! until I can snap my own this weekend.

It’s time to put up a new recipe since I haven’t done that in a while. A few months ago I stumbled on the blog So Delushious! and it’s amusing (okay, downright H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S at times) and low-carb half the time. She recently did a post on Herbed Baked Eggs and they looked SOOO yum I had to try them myself. I finally got around to trying them about 1 month ago and they’ve been my go-to eggs since then (seriously so GOOD!).

So Delushious! doesn’t give exact measurements but she got her original recipe from the Food Network. Personally I always try to follow exact measurements the first go around on recipes and then I tweak for my tastes on the remakes. Anyway… before I bore you, let’s get crackin’ in this… (seriously getting hungry for these NOW).

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasted French bread or brioche, for serving (skip if you’re doing the Paleo/Primal/Low-Carb gig)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes, oven rack 6 inches below the heat.
  2. Combine garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside (so I actually have never been too technical about these measurements… eyeballed it, nailed every time but that one time I accidently dumped about 2 Tbs of dried parsley in there… picked what I could out but it still overwhelmed the dish… when in doubt go easy on the parsley). Oh, I only had fresh thyme on hand so I used dried herbs for the rest of it and reduced measurements… by eyeballing it. Maybe I need to take back that statement about following recipes closely the first time… recipes are just guidelines anyway, right? But now I feel an urge to buy all fresh herbs for this and give it a whirl. I think that will be one of my weekend projects. Yes. Yes it will. But I digress…
  3. Crack eggs into a separate bowl or two, divided up the way you’re going to cook them (eggs divided between two smaller dishes or all together in a bit larger dish).
  4. Place 2 individual gratin dishes/ramekins on a baking sheet (or one larger casserole dish). Place 1 tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter (so honestly, there’s usually more butter and cream in mine) in each dish and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly and butter is starting to brown.
  5. Quickly pour the eggs into the dish(es) and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper (I keep forgetting the salt and pepper… haven’t missed it).
  6. Place back under the broiler for 5 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. (this takes longer in my oven… maybe 7 min).
  7. The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with toasted bread.

So there you have it. Amazingness. And it only takes about 10 minutes start to finish. Oh… bonus addition, add some freshly cooked, crumbled up bacon to the eggs. My motto, bacon makes everything better… and it makes these eggs life altering.

Update: I set out to make these eggs for brunch and discovered I was out of Parmesan. NOOOOOOOO!! The HORROR! I dug through the fridge taking stock of what cheese’s were available. Mozzarella? Eh. Pepper jack? No. Cheddar? Hell No. Feta? Hmmm. Feta it was. Turned out equally divine. So if you find yourself in such a conundrum, feta is a great alternative and depending on your mood, possibly the better alternative. It was SUPERB! Will be using feta pretty regularly for this recipe from now on.


Overcoming Sugar

I have a yen and it’s called sugar. For about 18 months now I’ve been trying to get a handle on my inner sugar whore and so far she’s thwarted all my efforts. So it’s time to make a game plan to redeem this wayward miscreant.

I surfed the web and swam through the cobwebs of my mind to find some the most useful tips for giving up sugar and here is what I’ve come up with:

  1. Make sure you’re eating enough at meals. When your blood sugar dips and your belly starts knocking, sugar will be the first thing you crave because it’s fast acting. It’s like taking a match to paper; it lights quick. The bad thing about burning paper is that it flames out quickly too.
  2. Make sure you’re getting plenty of protein and fat in your meals. Protein and fat has staying power (liken it to burning wood). Your body won’t burn through fat and protein as quickly as it will sugar, starches, or grains. This will keep your blood sugar levels stable; preventing the sharp dips that trigger sugar cravings.Hand in hand with this, invest the time to make delicious meals that thoroughly nourish your body.
  3. Clear sugar out of your life. Remove the sweets and make easy access to them impossible. No more bags of chocolate. No more seasonal candy purchases (goodbye my Cadbury eggs). No more sugar bowl. Clear out cake, brownie, and muffin mixes and any other obvious sweets crowding your kitchen (or undisclosed hiding place). Let go of the honey.
  4. Become a label reading guru. Sort through your fridge and pantry searching for those items that have hidden sugars in it. Check the grams of sugar. See where sugar is positioned on the ingredient list. Peanut butter, jams and jellies, condiments, salad dressings, food mixes, bread, really any kind of processed food likely has added sugars (can someone explain WHY bread has sugar in it?).
  5. When cravings strike, have a game plan. The cravings WILL come. How will you deal with them? If you’re taking care of #1 and #2, genuine hunger shouldn’t be an issue. So when the cravings strike, it’s going to stem from the addictive quality of sugar. You need to respond like a recovering addict.Will you take a walk? Meditate? Recite self-affirmations? Open up a note of encouragement that you write to yourself (sit down and do this now)? Start journaling? Open up a daily inspirational reading or devotional?Figure out a plan of attack!

Okay, these are genius ideas if I do say so myself. I should have thought this through YEARS AGO!

Something I’ve been debating is fruit and what its place is going to be in my primal diet. I love having blueberries with coconut milk or cream drizzled over them, or dipping strawberries in freshly whipped cream. I also have a recipe that includes dates and I wonder if their sweetness is too much.

For now my approach is going to be allowing two fruits maximum per day. Dried fruit is something I’ll really need to be cautious with since it is such a concentrated sources of sweetness. They will be treated as condiments but will still count as one of my fruit allowances if I have them.

Now for the last thing. Dark chocolate. I’ll allow dark chocolate on occasion but it can’t be an everyday thing. And it has to be DARK. At least 72% or I won’t be able to stop eating it. This will be something I need to be cautious about.

So there we go. This is how I’m going to approach sugar.


just a quickie: china study

If you haven’t already heard, the China Study is being grossly abused and misused. The claims about meat and animal products being bad are completely bogus.

Learn more here! Raw Food SOS


sausage and apple stuffing

Back in January a friend had me over and fixed Roast Duck with Sausage and Apple Stuffing from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. It was AMAZING!

It was the first time I recall ever eating duck and I’ll definitely be eating duck again. But the AMAZING part was the sausage and apple stuffing. YUM!

About a month ago I had a hankering for this stuffing and decided to try it out as a stand alone dish, especially since I’m not sure where I can get duck in my area in the middle of the summer without breaking a few laws.

The result was a succulant, AMAZING dish that I inhaled. So AMAZING!

Have I mentioned it’s AMAZING!?

I did tweak the dish to make it a little more primal friendly – at least balancing out the fruit and meat servings. Give it a whirl!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground pork sausage (regular flavoring, sage could also work), browned
  • 2 medium apples (I like fuji), cored and chopped into appx 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Sage
  • 2 Tbsp Cognac
  • 1/4 C Port
  • 1/4 C Beef Stock

Directions

  1. Brown sausage and set aside in a bowl, reserving fat in the saute pan.
  2. Add 1/2 tsp of honey to the reserved fat and heat.
  3. Core and slice apples into 1-inch chunks and saute in the honey/fat mixture until lightly browned and almost tender.
  4. Place the apples on a platter and sprinkle with cinnamon, salt, sage, and cognac.
  5. Wipe out saute pan and add port and beef stock, boil rapidly until liquid has reduced to 2-3 Tbsp.
  6. Pour wine reduction over the sausage.
  7. Combine apple mixture and sausage mixture.
  8. Eat!

The beauty of this dish is that it takes about 15 minutes to prepare, start to finish. It’s a great last minute go-to meal and is something that will be in my recipe box for decades to come. Perhaps the only downside is that it’s hard to stop eating it once you start. One of these days I’m going to try it with pheasant and see if they compliment each other. If I can refrain from eating too much of it before it makes it to the bird.


    bacon makes everything better: asparagus

    Over the years I’ve tried various recipes for asparagus and I’ve concluded that I have a love hate relationship with it. I usually love it when other people fix it in all the myriad ways they do. I also usually hate it when I prepare it because it just plain tastes either blah or too asparagus-y.

    My favorite experience with asparagus thus far has been the Cream of Asparagus soup served at a local restaurant called LaMinestra – delightful. I’ve tried replicating it and I’ve found out I’m crap at making cream soups (or possibly all soups).

    Now I think there may be a new contender for favorite asparagus side. And, in light of this new occassional segment, “bacon makes everything better,” I give you bacon wrapped asparagus.

    Ingredients:

    • Asparagus
    • Bacon

    Directions:

    • Start up grill, allow to warm, probably medium heat.
    • Bend asparagus and allow them to break naturally so you get rid of the thicker stalk towards to bottom (not sure this has to be done, but THE Julia recommends it in her book)
    • Select 3-4 stalks
    • Pick up slice of bacon
    • Wrap bacon around bundle of stalks
    • Repeat until all asparagus is wrapped in bacon
    • Place on the top rack of your grill and cook until the bacon looks done (maybe 10-15 min)
    • Eat and moan with ecstasy

    I’ll be making these a regular addition to my diet. DIVINE!