Food: What It Can Teach Us.

Food, the way it is prepared, and eaten can teach us many things.  First it can teach us the differences in people, and how that is not a bad thing.  People can be divided into two groups, when it comes to food.  You are either a foodie, or a non-foodie. The difference is easy to define.  A foodie lives to eat, and a non-foodie eats to live. The easies way to find a foodie, is to turn to any show on the Food Network, or the Cooking Channel. These people love to cook, and consume food.  They like to find new places to eat food, and find new ways to prepare food. They are enthusiastic eaters, and when  they are eating will use  words like, heaven, oh my God, and so good.  The non-foodie will eat, and enjoy certain foods, but will not go to any great means, to find unusual ways to prepare, and eat food.  Even though, there is a distinct difference, between these 2 groups, they all seem to get along.  No one, seems to discriminate against one group, over the other, when it comes to jobs, civil rights, and opportunities. The foodies and non-foodies seem to be fine with each other, despite their distinct differences.

Food can show how unique you are.  We all have foods, that on the whole, are good for the general populous, that can just, not make us feel good.  Mine is tomato juice.  About 12 hours after drinking tomato juice I will get a splitting headache.  My daughter can not eat broccoli. Then, there is the more serious allergic reactions, that some people develop to certain foods.   It tells you, that you are a totally unique person, and that is not bad.  You want to cultivate that uniqueness, into something special. You never want to worry about being a little different, than the “regular people”.  You are that one special person, with your own hopes and dreams, that only you can accomplish.

Food can teach you compromise.   The best example of this is microwave popcorn.  The compromise is between unpopped  kernels, and burned popcorn.   You do not want too many unpopped kernels, but if you try too hard to pop all the kernels, then the popcorn will burn.  I once, had someone tell me, they liked burnt popcorn.  This person turned out to be an idiot. For those of  us, of at least average intelligence, the goal is to pop as many kernels, without that awful burnt smell, when the bag is opened.

Food can teach you when to be creative, and when to have discipline.   When you are cooking food, that is the time, to let the creative juices flow.  When baking, you better have the discipline to following the recipe exactly.  You might be creative in finding a unique way to bake cookies, pies, and cakes, but you  better remember exactly what you did, or the next time will be a disaster. In cooking, when I make sauces, dips, and rubs I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. When the sauce, dip, or rub, really turns out well, and someone wants to know what I put in it, not only do I not the amount, but many times, I don’t remember all the ingredients.  In my view, that is the fun of it, just wing it. I do not do this, when I bake chocolate chip cookies.

Food can teach us to plan.  Planning what you are going to cook and eat for the week is a great way to learn how to plan other activities.  Planning your meals for the week can help you eat healthier and help your budget.  Plan on some left overs, which you can prepare in different ways from the original meal. You can get into your creative mode again.

Food helps you to get to know yourself, by listening to your body, on how it responds to certain foods, and cuisines.  This goes beyond the more severe reactions, we discussed earlier. Start to pay attention to how you feel, after you eat.  You should feel better than when you started.  Things that can make you off, after you eat, maybe related to waiting too long to eat.  There may be a certain food, that you can tell is difficult for you to digest, or just doesn’t make you feel right.  By paying attention to such things, you can improve your abilities in any endeavor you are doing.  You may sleep better, and be more relaxed by eating foods, that only make you feel good.

Finally, food is a great way to try new things.  Not much of a negative can happen to you, by eating something you have never tried before.  Being more adventuresome in the food world, may spread to other aspects of your life.  Getting use to trying new cuisines, may make your life a little more fulfilled. Even though we need food to survive, food is there to give us so much more.  Try to eat more mindfully, and enjoy every bite, by appreciating what all that good food can really do, to make your life better.

Food: How Did It Get So Important

Food is a necessity.  Without taking in food, you would die in about 6 weeks or less. We all have to eat.  You do not even have to eat healthy, to survive.  You must supply your body with fuel, to function. In the modern world, food is much more important than that. Food is associated with events and activities.   Popcorn at movies, Peanuts, cracker jacks and hot dogs at baseball games, the hot dog at turn, in golf, and cake at birthday parties.   Food has a whole day devoted to it, called Thanksgiving.  If the Pilgrims only knew what they started, they would have given thanks by only drinking water.  Even at the most casual get togethers, like playing cards, book clubs, and watching sports on TV, the host will feel an obligation to provide some food. So how did food go from becoming a necessity, to becoming the part of almost everything we do socially, to the point that sometimes it is the main event?  There are lots of ideas about the subject, and all the things that food can do, to make any social event better, and how much it shows you care, by providing food, and lots of it, at an event that you are hosting.  But no where is there any mention, on how this process all came about. There had to be sometime in history, where people got together to do something, and food was no where to be found. But there seems to be no documentation of this.  Even very old movies, made in the 1920’s show people gathering together, and eating and drinking, in almost the same way, that we do today. Naturally I have some theories, and there is very little data elsewhere, to dispute it.

It all boils down to the rich and famous.   There was a time in our history, particularly during the depression and World War II that food was hard to come by.  Even so, if you had money, then food was plentiful.  What better way for the rich and famous  to show how much money they had, by serving lots of  food at any big social function.  As times got better and food became more plentiful, and less costly, it was a way for the middle class to be just like the rich and famous, by having food included, in any social event that they were going to have. Plus, it was not a problem for the rich to distance themselves from everyday people, by other means.   Today, with the corona virus taking away all social functions and contact, food has become less fun.  We have returned to the day, where food, now is just a necessity, that we have to cook for ourselves, and whoever we are sheltering in place with.   Once this pandemic is over, I am sure food again, will take its place as the center piece of most any social function.  The way things are now, it is hard to believe that this will ever be.  We are a more open society today, than we were 100 years ago. Today, you can have quite a diverse group of people getting together for fun, food, and a good time, wherever that may be.  Food is taking a back seat, as the pandemic is moving on and on and on.  With so many questions on what will happen, concerning the virus, food has lost a lot of its importance.  So, no matter what started  food having to be at the center of all social events, these last two months have shown, that it is something that is ingrained in our beings, and is not helping us get through this crisis.

Hopefully, we will again, be able to enjoy food with our friends and family, in the not too distance future.   Food has been a big part of the human experience for a long time. This pandemic could affect how we enjoy and feel about food, for the rest of our lives. Let’s hope that we can all get through this, with as few emotional scars as possible, and that everyone we know remains healthy and safe.  As things begin to open up, I hope there will be no major setbacks in the near future.   I can smell those hot dogs already.


Food: Can it really do that?

When you read about food, there are many articles that talk about all the health benefits of any particular food. Looking at a particular nutrient of food, like the omega 3 fatty acids, is another popular topic.  Omega 3 fatty acids are give many positive attributes. One article I read, stated that there are 17, count’em 17, science-based, I mean real science baby, benefits of eating omega 3 fatty acids. Even the name sounds cool.  I am the Omega Man, the preventer  of many health problems.  Lot better than being called Celery Man. According to the article Omega 3’s can help with mental disorders, blood pressure, brain health for the fetus and in early life, and may even help prevent cancer. I am out the door to get 20 pounds of salmon and 30 cans of sardines.  This article will take you to many studies, to back up all 17 claims.  I read them, and they all have some flaws, and come to conclusions, that may not be correct.  Many health agencies want you to get 2 servings a week of a fish, that is high in omega 3’s  to reap the benefits.  However, fish oil supplement companies want you taking the product everyday. If you google the benefits of eating almost anything you will find results that are positive.   I googled garbage, dog poop, and processed foods, and they all came up with benefits, when they are consumed.  If you continued this process on any food, you would assume you could eat anything and live a long healthy life. Could that be true?

At first your answer would be no way.  When I googled the benefits of eating garbage, I came across a site, that said why do people eat garbage. My first thought was, I didn’t know people ate garbage, unless they were homeless.  But the garbage that this author was writing about, is food purchased at fast food chains, and highly processed foods. He  describes how nearly 90 percent of America’s budget is spent on junk food.1 What is more appalling is that nearly 60 percent of food eaten in America are ultra-processed,2 convenience foods that can be purchased at your local gas station. These processed foods also account for nearly 90 percent of the consumption of added sugar in the U.S. Now lets say that this is all true.  I have no doubt that it is true.  You have to wonder then, how does anybody make it to 85 years and beyond.  There are three diets that are describe in various sites.  The Mediterranean diet, which is a middle European diet,  the Natural diet attributed to Asia and Japan, and then the good old Western or American diet.  You could conclude that if you are on the Western diet, that you probably won’t make it past 40. If you have doubts about all the benefits that certain foods can give you, then possibly you should have doubts about all the harm that food could do. Are there any conclusions that can be drawn from this hodgepodge of claims and so called data?

Lets look as some things that we absolutely know about nutrition and health. There are absolutely a number of diseases, directly related to nutritional deficiencies.  They range from Scurvy, Rickets, Iron deficient anemia, Pellagra, and Calcium deficiency diseases. If your diet lacks certain vitamins. minerals or other essential nutrients you will get sick. There is no denying that.  There is no question that people have a sensitivity to certain aspects of food.  Gluten, certain preservatives, and spices may make some people sick. Once you eliminate the sensitivity issue, when you look at so called bad diets, it may not be what’s in them, but what’s not in them, that may be causing all the problem. The other issue, may be the amount of food, that is consumed rather the content.  What would happen if you put people on a plant based diet but they consumed vast amounts of that food, especially things like nuts and whole grains along with vegetables and became 40 to 50 pounds overweight. Do you think they might get some of the same health issues that overweight individuals get  from a processed animal based diet.   There are many more variables I can make up, but it shows why these so scientific studies are difficult, and may not be all that scientific. When it comes to food, variety and common sense, are the key ingredients.  To answer the question at the top of the page, can food really do that? I think we all know the answer is no.

Food: Caffeine

Caffeine is the most consumes drug in America, and probably in the entire world. In the United States, it is estimated between 85 and 90% of the people, consume some amount of caffeine daily, with the average being about being about 164 mg per day.  Over the years caffeine has gone from being bad for you, to being good for you, back to being bad, and now it is considered good for you, again. There are many medical and food sites, that discuss the pro and cons of consuming caffeine.  The general consensus is, that for the most part caffeine can help you, more than hurt you.  It’s pretty common knowledge, that caffeine affects the brain, and it seems to allow you to concentrate better, and be more alert, about one hour after consumption. The common side affects, are  keeping one awake at night, and it might give you some heart palpitations at higher doses.  Anyone can go on line and find the information.  However I did find some things that were interesting, and surprising, about how the scientific community feels about caffeine, and  there is still a lot to learned.

One thing I found that has to with nothing, but is interesting, is caffeine supposedly was discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder, who gave it to his goats, and it seemed to give them more energy.  Why you would want goats to have more energy is beyond me. The second new fact, for me anyway, was that there is not a lot of difference between what is safe to drink and what could cause some problems.  Taking in about 150 to 300 mg of caffeine per day seems to be very safe.  However taking in about 500 mg very quickly can cause some heart and blood pressure problems. So drink that coffee slowly. There is a debate in the scientific community, on whether caffeine is addictive.  Some sites say that it definitely is, while other sites say that it does not have all the traits of what constitutes an addictive drug.  All I know, is that some people do seem to have withdrawal symptoms from caffeine, if they try to stop taking caffeine abruptly.  They can get the shakes, headaches, and will be come more agitated in certain situations. My most surprising finding was that it seems that we are all drinking  coffee at the wrong time.  It all goes back to that darn circadian rhythm, again.  Its seems that when we wake up in the morning, that cortisol levels are at their highest, and therefore we do not need that jolt of caffeine, even though are brains may be telling us something different.  It is best to hit the coffee machine about 10 am, when your cortisol is starting to go down, and your body really does need that boost.  We seem to cycle back down around 1:30 so another cup will help again.   It is best to end the caffeine intake just after 2PM if you want a good nights sleep.

There is no doubt that caffeine is a drug, and the affects of are real.  On the whole caffeine can be a benefit, to help and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  However, there are more dangers involved than the general media puts forth.  After all, the coffee industry is a multi billion dollar business.  It goes back to those idiosyncratic responses that so many people have to so many different substances.  I know many people that say they can drink one or two cups of coffee at 7 to 8 PM, and sleep like a baby.  If I drank one cup at 7 PM, I would be up all night. Caffeine has many health and wellness claims, some more substantiated than others.  One claimed benefit is helping to prevent gall stones. The dose for prevention is 400 mg per day and even higher.  I think I would take my chances with gall stones.  I am going to start drinking my coffee later in the morning, when possible, and see if it makes any difference. It boils down to the same old thing.  Please. just listen to your body, it will tell you all you need to know.

Food: How Did We Get Here

The consumption of food is costing us billions of dollars every year. I don’t mean the cost of the food. I mean the results of consuming too much food for our own good.  Over half the world is overweight.  Over one third of world is a lot over weight.  I am not going to use the o word, in describing how much a person is overweight. In my view, any amount of weight over your ideal weight, can cause a problem. This is different than being pregnant, where you can be a little bit overweight.  This should not lull you to sleep, thinking that this is probably ok for your health, because it is not. Spend an entire day carry around a 10 bag of potatoes, and see how you feel at the end of the day. This is how your body feels, after it  carries your ten pounds of excess fat around, for the last so many years. This blog is not about how to lose those 10 pounds or more, but to try and find out how the world go so fat. How did we get to this state.  This is a problem that is on the rise.  More people die from complications of being over weight than smoking.  The cost of treating weight related diseases is estimated to be 147 billion dollars a year.  Each individual has to take responsibility for their own condition, but let’s look at some big picture elements, that have a lot to do with it, and what if anything we can do about it.

The beginning of the fast food chains, has done has as much as any industry, to cause people to eat more.  The fast food industry has taken a lot of criticism, over the years, for not offering as many healthy choices as they should.  Because of this criticism, fast food has improved in quality and variety. However, fast food still entices you, in many clever ways, to eat more than you should.  From catchy names like the Big Mac, The Whopper, The Whaler, MAKE IT A MEAL FOR ONLY $1.50 MORE and SUPERSIZE IT, DUMB ASS. Not only do they entice you with catchy slogans, but the more you eat, the less you pay per unit. A single Burger at Wendy’s is 4.49, but put another patty on, for just a buck, and make it a triple for just another dollar.   It goes on and on, and every chain is like this.  Should there be a law against this.  If that’s what it takes, to keep this from happening, yes, I am all for it.  There should be at least a suggestion, like on alcohol commercials, to eat responsible, because we all don’t want to pay for  those 5 stents you’ll get in 5 years.  You should not have to pay more, but you should not get a discount, because your appetite is like the offensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The entire food industry is like this.  That’s the whole purpose to buying clubs like Sam’s and Costco’s, in that they want you to buy in bulk and save money.  Unfortunately, I think this makes you eat in bulk also.  This kind of thinking. in my view, must come to an end.  The idea of the bigger you buy, the less it will cost.  It is not doing us any good. By the same token, all you can eat food bars, should come to an end. Again, they just contribute to a problem that is escalating at an unbelievable rate. I know that none of these things are going to happen, but it would be interesting if they did, just to see if they helped this costly problem of American  and world health.

Everyone is responsible for their own health and well being, but it does not help when people are bombarded with the above nonsense.  Can we learn a lesson from all this? We can all get into the mode of moderation.  With some moderate consumption habits and some moderate exercise added to our daily regime I think most of us can get back to a more healthful condition of our body.  Even though I wrote that any amount of being over weight is not good for your body, any amount of weight loss is good for your body.  Enjoy your food, but only eat one patty of ground meat, and eliminate the word large or big from your vocabulary, anytime you are going to order food.  Unless you have a big family buy small and eat small.  In the long run you will make you and the world a better place. Now excuse me, as I take my 54 tater tots out of the oven.

Food: Breakfast, I Just Can’t Do It

The breakfast experiment is over, after only one week.  Maybe, you can not teach an old dog new tricks.   For 7 to 9 days,  I made a concerted effort to eat breakfast, before I started my day.  I will admit, I may have had more energy in the morning, but what I felt were problems, outweighed that perceived benefit. First, when I awake in the morning, no matter what time, I am not hungry.  There is nothing I can do about that.   Now believe me, I have eaten at other times of the day when I am not hungry.  I would have fairly large amounts to eat at breakfast.  I would have 2 hard boiled eggs, potatoes, and one sausage.  Another morning I had yogurt, with fruit, and two slices of toast, with peanut butter or cream cheese.   I would have more non traditional breakfast food, once having a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with pickle.  It did not seem to make any difference what I ate, I was always very hungry around lunch time, sometimes even sooner.  Though I may have felt I had more energy in the morning, I did not do anything more, than I usually do.  I walked about 3.5 miles and did my exercises.  Maybe I did not give it long enough, but I felt stupid, eating when I was not hungry, first thing in the morning. I will just have to face the fact, that I am heading for a 20 to 25% more chance of developing coronary artery disease and type II diabetes, by not eating breakfast on a regular basis.  Am I really?

The more I think of this breakfast thing the more I feel that my initial instincts were right.  I am not feeling this way, because of my failure to continue to eat breakfast.  Breakfast being considered the most important meal of the day is not something that is fairly new.  We have been hearing this since the late 1950’s and 60’s.  Let’s look at the three meals of the day, and I will take them in reverse order beginning with dinner. What foods do you associate with dinner.  The list can be very long, ranging from pasta, meats, vegetables, and other carbohydrates.   The same thing could be said for lunch, with some narrowing of the list.  For lunch, I think most people will think of soup, salad, and sandwiches.  Again, there can be a great variety of foods that one thinks about, for a typical lunch.  Breakfast has more of a traditional selection of foods.  Eggs, bacon sausage, toast,  home fries, waffles, and pancakes.  Breakfast cereals are at the top of the breakfast list.  Yes, some families for something different, may  have breakfast for dinner. There have always been more traditional breakfast foods.  To say the least it is a major industry.  Do you think the makers of breakfast cereals and eggs have anything to do with the thinking, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? The cynical side of me definitely thinks so.  Maybe this is the same side of me that is not hungry in the morning.

I will not ague the point, that I did not give the breakfast experiment much of a chance. Eating when you are not hungry, just seems to go against the grain of what makes sense, from a heath and fitness standpoint.  One of the newer crazes right now is fasting.  I am not an advocate of that either, but you could argue that. this is what people are doing unknowingly, when they skip breakfast.  Fasting advocates talk about, that not eating for 16 hours is considered a fast. Even if you eat as late as 8 pm, and then get up the next day, and don’t eat until around noon, you have done a fast. I not saying this is good for you either, but its becoming something, that is suppose to help your health and well being. As they all like to say, more studies and research is needed.   I think the bottom line here, is that it just goes back to the fact, that most recommendations fail to consider individual idiosyncrasies.  Are these the exceptions that make the rule.  I do not believe that, either.  I think everybody needs to plan their own form of a diet and health plan.  It boils down to one concept.  If it makes you feel good do it and if it doesn’t don’t. I am meaning physically good not emotionally good. Try to leave emotion out of it when it comes to health and food.  This sounds so simple but as I get older I am finding out that the simpler you make  things the better results you will get.  If anybody else that skips breakfast wants to do the breakfast experiment let me know after you have done it for three months.  I failed miserably.  But you know what? I feel much better for this failure.

Food: Breakfast

In the last food blog I wrote, I discussed breakfast, and the notion that this was the most important meal of the day.  In my mind this fact has not been proven 100%.  I decided to look into this further, and started to go to sites that discussed breakfast, with various points of view.  Before I do an overview of all the studies and sites, and I looked at about 20 of them, I must define and explain Circadian Rhythm.  Circadian Rhythm is a natural internal process, that regulates the sleep wake cycle, and repeats every 24 hours.  There is a Circadian Diet, which advocates eating more in the morning and less at night, and eating basically from sunup to sundown. Once the sun goes down you should stop eating.  For this reason, breakfast is really emphasized, for those who believe, that the Circadian Rhythm should be constant.  This philosophy believes you go to bed the same time everyday, and wake up the same time everyday.  This subject could be another blog, but you can not look at breakfast studies, and not see this come into play.  What did I find out about breakfast?

Despite all the benefits of breakfast, on average at least 30% of adults skip breakfast, on a regular basis.  One of the biggest studies on breakfast, included 50,000 people.  These people belong to the Seventh Day Adventist, which is a religious group.  In this group 93% eat breakfast every day.  In this group 37% consider dinner their biggest meal of the day.  In the general population, well over 90% consider dinner their biggest meal of the day.  Even though this is a very large study on breakfast, some of the conclusions are tainted, because this is not what the general populous does.  There were many other studies on breakfast, not as large as the one mentioned, but on more of a cross section of the population.  So what can be derived from most of these studies.  Breakfast eating is not a major factor in weight loss, or weight gain.    Skipping breakfast does seem to lead to some increase health risks.  Skipping breakfast can lead to a 27% increase in coronary artery disease and a 20% increase in acquiring type II diabetes.   One oddity was a decrease in bone density in Japanese men, who skipped breakfast.  One study showed that college students did significantly better on exams if they ate breakfast, compared to students that skipped breakfast that day. Eating breakfast seemed to make children behave better, and not gain as much weight.  Skipping breakfast seemed to make people more lethargic, and less active in the morning.  A lot of the studies did not touch upon what type of breakfast, people were having.  There was little mention of the what I call the traditional breakfast of bacon, ham, or sausage, with eggs and toast, plus potatoes.  Those that did mention what to eat, advocated eating more protein and less carbohydrates and to stay away from the processed breakfast cereals.  Of course, pastries and donuts are big no no.  There is more talk of eating non traditional foods for breakfast, such as fish, chicken beans and nuts.   The Circadian Rhythm people feel one should make breakfast the biggest meal of the day.  This is not new thinking.  Adelle Davis, nutritionist of the mid 20th Century, wrote eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.

After reading all this over the last two days, will this change the way I look at breakfast.  I believe it will.  I will make more of an effort to eat breakfast, before I leave the house or start my day.  I like the fact that there is this trend to get away from the more traditional foods for breakfast.  Will I make breakfast my largest meal of the day? I do not think so, but I will make it second.  Dinner to me is more of a social gathering and I am not going to make any major changes in that process or what I eat for dinner.  Again after reading all of this I know there is a lot of work to be done on what and how to eat.  For the next 3 months I will make this effort to eat more for breakfast and see how it goes.  Let’s face it anytime you are going to eat more of something how bad can it be. Will report on this in three months.

Food: Eating Healthy

This would seem like an easy thing to do, have a healthy diet.  When you google eating healthy, there are many hits.  There are medical websites, nutrition websites, and weight loss websites. They all have similar things to say, with just a little bit of a twist, here and there. Some websites have things to sell, which is always a red flag on how legitimate their advice is on eating healthy. All the  sites are better at telling you what to avoid, rather than what to eat.  In general, they tell you to eat a wide variety of foods, mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.  That about sums it up,  end of blog.  No, it is definitely not that easy.  You would think that eating healthy and weight loss would go hand in hand. Unfortunately it does not. These sites do not break down foods well enough, to balance the good and the bad. I am  going to break down foods, that I consider overrated and some that are not given enough credit, for being healthy.  I am going to discuss some nutrition “facts” that in my view, are far from proven. I looked through about 50 websites.  What follows is a composite of these websites and with my views sprinkled in. I can not rank any website as outstanding and most of what they say is the same thing, so I am not going to mention any particular site.

First, lets get to the easy stuff, what is bad.  The first and foremost is soft drinks.  They have not one redeeming quality.  I know I love a Coke once in awhile, so I can’t say I never drink them, but I try to limit them to 2 per month.  Fatty meat is a big no no.  It is hard to not like  fat,  when you here on the food channel, that fat is the flavor.  One thing everybody can do when they buy a steak is to trim off more fat.  Every little bit helps.  Sugar is bad, which is what makes pop so bad.  Stay away from sugar if possible.  Think of it as a dessert only food. This can help you avoid it,  during the day.  Please stay away form diet pop, it is even worse for you than regular pop, but that is a whole other blog.  Stay away from the typical snacks, they are high in fat, and calorie dense. Stay away from highly processed foods, like bacon, lunch meats, and energy bars.  Some processed foods can be better than others, but it is best to stay away. Eating these things in very limited quantities, is the best way to go. The one that is the hardest to avoid is bacon, because everything is better with bacon.

Now, for the so called good stuff, that may not be as good as you think.  I feel the most over rated food is the nut.  The so called benefits of nuts, is far out weighed by how calorie dense they are, and this is any nut you can think of.  An 8 ounce container of peanuts has over 1600 calories. I could eat that in less than a half hour.  I saw none of this emphasized, on the sites I visited. The second overrated food is fruit.  Now, fruit has more benefit than nuts, but it comes at the cost of sugar.  Some fruits are worse than others, but even the so called lower sugar fruits have 7 to 9 grams of sugar per serving.  Some of the low sugar fruits are not even the kind you eat, like lemons and cranberries.  So if you are watching calories or sugar, go easy on the fruit.  On the other side of the coin I consider dairy products the most underrated food.  Skim milk is a great source of Vitamin D and protein.  Eggs are low fat and high in protein.  Yogurt has many positive effects for you intestinal tract and health.  Even cheese is not all that bad for you, but  limit some cheeses, due to the fat content.  The big knock on dairy products is their digestibility. The lactose intolerant group can not eat dairy products, and this is understandable, but the entire world is not lactose intolerant.  There is a theory that we were able to digest milk when we were infants, but as we age our ability to digest dairy becomes less.  Again, this is not true for most of us.  If you have no problem with dairy products then eat more, because it is very nutritious with very little down side. Vegetables are definitely the super food.  The more you eat, the better your health is  going to be. But certain vegetables, you still  have to be cautious.  Any vegetable that is high in Vitamin A, such as carrots,  you must eat with some moderation. Vitamin A is stored and processed in the liver and consuming large amounts of Vitamin A could cause some liver issues if done chronically.

Then there is the one nutrition saying, that states breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  This statement has been far from proven.  There are lots of studies on this, although you could argue not enough, and the conclusions are still variable.  First, the number one reason that people don’t eat breakfast in the morning, is they do not have enough time. Maybe the results of not eating breakfast in morning, such as low energy, eating unhealthy snacks, and binge eating, could be attributed to a lack of sleep, and rushing in the morning. To me, the so called controlled studies about eating breakfast, were not all that well controlled.  Why not make sure that people are getting enough sleep, get up early enough to leisurely get ready for school and work, then skip breakfast, and see how they feel the rest of the day, compared to people, who did the same thing, but ate breakfast.  For me when I get up in the morning after a good nights sleep, I am not hungry.   Why should I eat?  This is the other area where I think nutrition falls short, and that is listening to you own body.  If you are not hungry in the morning why should you eat?  Despite what I wrote about the foods I think are underrated, if any of those foods make your digestive tract uncomfortable, then by all means avoid them. That doesn’t mean if potato chips are something easy for you to digest, that you should eat a half of bag full during the day. Remember to listen to your body, and that all foods have some drawbacks, even if they are reported to be healthy foods. There are plenty of choices out there, so stay away from the definite bad and still be cautious on what is supposed to be good.   In future blogs I will touch upon some of these things in more depth, especially the breakfast thing, which I find fascinating.

Food: Back in the Saddlea

Haven’t blogged about food for awhile for various reasons.  I tried, despite what I wrote in a previous blog,  to lose that extra 10 pounds, and again failed miserably.  The reasons I did this, was that I thought it would be a good opportunity, because I did not have the stress of working and I was scheduled for cataract surgery on December 4th.  I thought this might give me some extra incentive, but I should have known better, because in reality this extra 10 pounds I am lugging around is not a major health hazard. The incentive was not really there.  It was the wrong time of year to try and do something like this,also.  The weather is getting colder and the body wants to retain fat, not lose it.  I think that is why so many New Year’s resolutions fail, when it comes to weight loss.  It’s in the middle of winter, and the body is fighting like mad to hang on to that fat, to help it keep warm.  The cataract surgery went well, and I am over all this nonsense, and can get back into enjoying food.  I have been cooking food for about 10 years now and I am a very good amateur cook.  But that is the key word amateur.  I do not think that people that  teach cooking realize, this is all people want to be, is good amateur cook.  We do not need to chop an onion in about 15 seconds.  If I tried to do it that fast, I probably would lose my fingers first, and I’m not too sure how good they would taste in the sauce or soup, I was making.  I  think not enough is mentioned about cooking to taste.  Cooking things that you like. Grilled portabella mushrooms may be great, but not if you do not like mushrooms. The thing I like most about cooking is that you learn the basics, then you can create.  Here are some of my basic ideas when it comes to cooking and keeping it simple and flavorful.

First, don’t  get all worried about chopping onions, peppers, carrots or celery all the same size.  I always chop these vegetables a larger size than most.  They still cook up fine, and I feel you can taste them better, in whatever you are making.  I always sauté some kind of vegetables first when I am making rice. Once the veggies are softened, I add the rice and coat it with the olive oil for about 60 seconds, pour in the water.  It makes the rice more flavorful  and keeps it from foaming up and spilling, making a big mess.

Any time you are making a sauce depending on what it is, always add lemon juice or ketchup to it, my “secret ingredients”.   Horseradish and Mayonnaise is another one for a white sauce.  Horseradish heavy for cocktail sauce with lemon juice. Hot sauce used in small amounts add some real flavor to sauces with out adding any heat to the sauce.

Rubs work better than marinades. I find that rubs make meats more tender and flavorful, than marinades, and it’s easier.   I rub round roast, flank steak, pork roast, pork shoulder, tri tip, pork chops, turkey breast, chicken, ham and just about any meat I am going to grill or roast.  I usually put the rub on in the morning and refrigerate for 5 to 6 hours or will even do it overnight.  My basic rub is Montreal Steak seasoning, Paprika, Chile Powder, then smaller amounts of Cumin and Garlic Powder.  Put the rub on liberally.  For roasts the rub should cover the meat so you do not see the meat. Only slightly less for steaks, chicken parts, and pork chops.  For steaks I usually just do Montreal Steak seasoning, doing both sides.

Brining is the new thing for the Thanksgiving day turkey, and now you can  get turkeys that are already brined.  Its worth the time, or the cost, if you don’t want to do it yourself. It makes a huge difference in the tenderness of the white meat.  The  only other cut of meat that I think should be brined is the boneless pork chop.  It’s easy and it makes the pork chop so tender.  It is the difference maker when it comes to grilling pork chops.  There are plenty of brining recipes for pork chops and I don’t think there is one better than the other.  The key to brining, whether it’s the turkey or the pork chop, is to thoroughly rinse the food when you are done to remove all the salt.  With pork chops, you do not want to over brine.  You should only brine them for about 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on how big they are.  I wasn’t all that impressed on what brining did for chicken, so I don’t bother brining the little bird.

Finally, make sure that you know thy grill.    Where are the hot spots.  Know how long it takes to cook every cut of meat that you grill, even if it takes a little bit of trial and error. You do not want to keep lifting the lid of the grill, and peaking every 60 to 90 seconds.  Even though I am big believer in the statement, the fat is the flavor, you should trim some of the fat off, of what you are going to grill.  The same thing for burgers, get the 90% lean at least.  The reason being, if the cuts are too fatty, as the fat drips into the flames it has a tendency to make giant flames, which can just burn the hell out of the meat. You want to keep that lid of the grill down for at least 4 to 6 minutes per side depending on what you are cooking.  Turn off the middle burner if you need to cook things through like chicken or pork.

That’s it for now. Will have some more tips and ideas in future food blogs.  The main thing here is to learn to cook.  Food Network is a great place to learn, and get started. I think cooking food makes you appreciate it more, and makes the whole consumption process more enjoyable.


Food should be such a simple thing. We need to eat to survive, but most of us really enjoy eating. A lot of that enjoyment is taken away from us by so many food rules, developed by God knows who. Foodist have written more things about food, and the things they have written about over the years have, at times, changed dramatically. Let’s go through just a few, which is just the tip of the iceberg. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or not. Eat complex carbohydrates, or not. Do not eat after 7pm, or go ahead its no big deal. Eggs are good for you, or not. Drink or don’t drink water during a meal. Stay away from red meat, or not. You can eat too much fruit, or not. Dairy products are bad because you are older than 6 months, well maybe. Eat your biggest meal in the middle of the day, or not. Sugar is bad for you, but it still not as bad as artificial sweeteners, which does not get enough publicity. Do you think money has anything to do with that. I could go on and on about this, but you get the picture.

The big advice out there, is you should listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full. I don’t know about you, but I could say that I never feel hungry when I eat. The dictionary defines hungry as feeling an uneasy or painful sensation, from a lack of food. However, another definition is the desire or need to eat food. Now I have felt that baby, every day. So when are you supposed to listen to your body. Are you supposed to wait until you feel pain to eat. I hope not. Forget about all that nonsense about waiting until your hungry to eat. When you feel like eating, then eat and if you don’t feel like eating then don’t. Don’t feel like you have to eat at a certain time. I skip breakfast more than I eat breakfast. I think it is more important to listen to your body, after you eat. I am not talking about the full thing either. Who knows when your “full” and who cares. I am talking about how you generally feel after you eat. Without a doubt you should feel better. I think there are many idiosyncrasies that people can have to one particular food. I do not care what kind of food it is supposed to be, like really good for you, if you do not feel right after you eat it, then stay away from it. This could be a subtle feeling, like you just don’t feel right, or it could be more distinct like abdominal pain. You never want to get into the trap of eating something because this is what you should eat. Broccoli may be considered a super food but if every time you eat it, you double over in pain, then stay away from it. Always eat things that you like, and that make you feel good, after you eat them. It almost should be a form of relaxation.

Now I know there are proven intolerances to Lactose and Gluten, but being tested for a lot of other food issues, to me, is unnecessary. Your body will tell you if a food is not agreeing with you and when it speaks just listen and avoid that food. I think a lot of health issues regarding food are related to not listening to your body after you eat and stressing over what you should eat. Just remember there is no bad food. So enjoy the food that makes you feel better and stop trying to get it right.