Monday, August 23, 2010

Condiments: Illusory Foods not so Innocent

How Long Should I Hold the Mayo?

Would you sacrifice quality of life to defend your right to dollop hollandaise over asparagus or to asphyxiate crisp, steamed broccoli with molten cheddar cheese sauce? Since ancient times, Chefs created sauces and condiments to display their talents. Once a savvy chef presented me with a point to ponder, “Why would anyone wish to disguise the true taste of perfectly cooked food?”

When Sandi and I converted to the green side, it required condiments on vegetables to make them appetizing. Eventually, we learned to dig the clean, fresh taste and texture of produce in its God-given state. If you’re the boss of your health destiny, then you know at home or away, condiments present a dietary challenge. Everyone’s favorite is mayonnaise composed of a fatty emulsion of oil, raw egg, vinegar, and spices. For me, switching to mustard was a huge health-plus. Commercial condiments explode with sugars, wheat gluten, phantom calories, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and trans fats directly connected to heart disease, diabetes and obesity

Ever-present condiments are illusory foods which innocently appear as insignificant addendums to any meal, but realistically, they’re subtle delivery systems for massive amounts of calories to sneak into the temple. The word "sauce" is French meaning a relish to make food appetizing. Gravy, the grand-daddy artery-clogger of all, is generally derived from greasy pan renderings and supposedly makes foods look, smell, and taste better. Before the advent of refrigerators and preservatives, as a necessity, sauces and condiments were created to cover up the smell of rotting meat. Today we still see this practiced in grocery meat and fish counter ‘Petri dishes’ brimming with colorfully decorated, albeit aging raw fish, chicken and kebobs with alluring monikers. They take this economic risky measure to rid their inventory of ‘old’ meats.
Don’t insult a verdant salad with goopy bottled salad dressings burdened with less-than-ideal ingredients. Select vinegar or lemon juice, and EVOO. I recently praised my plump lunch companion’s choice of salad bar; however, I was astonished watching her decant a cup of blue cheese dressing onto the crisp, nurturing greens. (The ‘broccoli and cheese sauce’ syndrome). To flourish, you don’t need sauces compromising your health, such as Alfredo Sauce, sugary ketchup, BBQ sauce, mysterious sandwich spreads, chicken nugget dipping sauces, or flavored coffee creamers.

Like placing kerosene into a gas tank, you can only dupe the Temple so long. By existing on un-holy, factory foods, you put the pedal to the metal on the aging process and destabilize your birthright of good health. Give serious thought to returning to nature, and then begin to prepare your own ‘scratch’ food. If your home-made foods need condiments, perhaps you should consider a cooking class. As a family learn to enjoy the real flavor and texture of foods in their God-given state.


• Top baked potatoes with plain low-fat yogurt, low-fat sour cream, or salsa

• How about a crowning a baked sweet potato with Smart Balance and a drizzle of real maple syrup, not Aunt Jemima which is pure HFCS.

• Hot sauce can be added to a variety of food providing big flavor.

• Honey is an excellent alternative to sugar

• Soy sauce is associated with Asian cooking but can be used in everything from Mexican fare to traditional French.

• Salsa is an excellent alternative to crappy nacho cheese.

• Hummus is a delighful veggie dip

• Avoid foods named au gratin, Alfredo, gravy, creamed, or sauced

• Make scratch salad dressings. Regular salad dressing is expensive and has about 120 calories per tablespoons.

• Use flavored mustard or yogurt-based dips for chicken strips.

• Try Meijer’s Organic Peanut butter

• Have low-fat cottage cheese with a drizzle of honey, sprinkle of ground flax or chia seeds, and cut-up seasonal fruit.

• And finally, try a Honeymoon Salad: Lettuce alone with no dressing, but I really, really, digress.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Power of Produce

In 1988 an emotionless cardiologist uttered in monotone, “Get prepared, Mr. Fowler, you’re going to die…soon”.
Two decades ago, my diet was KFC, double-cheeseburgers, and Krispie Kreme’s flushed down with beer and ciggy-butts; a 300 pound poster child for self abuse. Fruits and vegetables were interlopers necessitating gravy to make them edible. Slothful, under the influence of cozy family traditions and repetitive advertising, I’d squandered the first half of my life eating foods not intended to enter the temple.

I nearly paid the ultimate price. Using produce to sustain health was not programmed into my Midwestern mindset. Since childhood I’d been encouraged to eat specific comfort foods. Over time, like most Americans, I was shanghaied from the path of nutritional righteousness by Betty Crocker, commodity brokers, bankers, and repetitive advertising that left tiny footprints on my malleable mind. Advertising frequency exerts a mighty influence over what you choose to eat. It generates awareness, creates interest, and arouses taste buds. I’ve pondered if the mass confusion, conflicting headlines, contrary opinions and such is by design. I'm a seeker of truth not a conspiracy theorist, but, keep in mind, it’s highly profitable to keep people fat, and sick, and coming back for more.

Motivated by the proposition of death, I began eating more fruits and veggies containing essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber and less man-made nonsense. Subtly, new skills surfaced. Not feeding my temple the innate heavenly diet designed for humans had blunted my God-given skills. The American Cancer Society, the CDC, National Kidney Foundation, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and scores of health authorities are screaming in unison, “American must increase the fruits and vegetables they currently eat”. Produce from the celestial apothecary contains substances called phytonutrients; defenders of human health that battle cancer, heart disease, GI inflammation, diabesity, and blood pressure.

A vast body of research fruits, vegetables and plant foods were on the original menu of foods the Universe designed for its creations. Genesis 1:29. Instead, Americans are corporately swayed to consume synthetic creations from man’s inventive mind, brewed in his laboratories, having no counterparts in nature, ergo the health care catastrophe. Fruits and vegetables are your heavenly source of sustaining energy and give the temple the nutrients needed to ‘have your health.’ Alas, only one-third of Americans eat two or more pieces of fruit per day and 25 % don’t eat vegetables at all.

Forage for foods natural to your evolutionary lineage; fresh foods most apt to promote health. Today, a nation drools when offered health destructive foods; foods that diminish your fitness and quality of life. The Five-A-Day program recommends five to nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day to ward off diseases. That’s 2.5 cups, friends. One trip to the salad bar could take care of that in a jiffy; nevertheless summon the strength to resist the urge to asphyxiate the green salad in copious amounts of Ranch or Bleu Cheese Dressing. Opt for Olive oil and either wine vinegar or lemon juice.

• Support your community Farmer’s Market. Ask questions then shake the hand of the hard working family farmer

• Pre-cut vegetables into small portions then place in the refrigerator for easy access. Make vegetables as convenient as any other snack food and you’ll eat more of them

• Create a home-salad bar with healthy dips and vegetable you cut into interesting shapes. Dips include low fat salad dressing, guacamole, humus, low-fat cottage cheese, and salsa

• When serving cow burgers, Sloppy Joes, cheesy pizza or any other kid-pleasing fare, sneak in shredded carrots or broccoli. Just a small amount will blend into a red sauce and boost the nutritional value

• Grill kabobs. Cut bite-size pieces of vegetables and grill them on skewers or alternate with chunks of lean cuts of dead animal meat. Add a tasty marinade.

A nickel's worth of fresh produce beats a five dollar doctor visit on any day.