Tuesday, June 7, 2011

VitaminWater: A Candy Bar in a Bottle

Knowing the truth about this product, I absolutely cringe everytime I see this being carried in health food stores and organic/natural food stores. I just don't understand why they carry this. It is as if they have fallen for the deceptive marketing as well. I know they know better, (I think) so I have to wonder if Coca-Cola gives them some sort of incentive to carry this psuedo healthy water.

Glaceau VitaminWater (made by the Coca-Cola Company) has a whopping 33 grams of sugar per 20-ounce bottle (and 130 calories), which is only 6 grams less than a can of Coke. In fact, Coco-Cola Company was sued in 2009 for promoting VitaminWater as a healthful product. Not surprisingly, VitaminWater was rated the "Worst Healthy Drink" by Eat This, Not That.

VitaminWater is not water—it's a candy bar in a bottle. Much of the sugar in VitaminWater is the worst possible kind—crystalline fructose—which is even more damaging to your health than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Crystalline fructose is 99 percent fructose, whereas HFCS is only 55 percent fructose.

Fructose is known to significantly raise your triglycerides, which in turn raises your risk of heart disease because it metabolizes into triglycerides and fat, not glucose. And if that's not bad enough, crystalline fructose may be contaminated with arsenic, lead, chloride and heavy metals.

But it doesn't end there.

Many of these so-called health drinks contain as much caffeine as 6 ounces of Starbucks coffee or 12 ounces of Folgers mountain brew. If you are curious about the caffeine content of your beverage of choice, check the following databases, Overcaffeinated or Energy Fiend. But what about the nutritional claims made by some of these companies—how accurate do you think they are? One journalistic group decided to actually have these beverage products tested.

Source: Dr. Mercola's Article  - Perhaps The Most "Toxic" Health Drinks of the Centrury

Another great article on this subject: Coca Cola VitaminWater: "Dangerously Misleading Advertising"

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hot Weather = Homemade Yogurt Season!

Not only is this incredibly easy to make, but it is amazingly inexpensive as well. If yogurt is a staple item in your home, then this is something you have to try. Now, in addition to being easy and cheap, it is very delicious and you can control the added sugar content. How fabulous it that?


1 cup of organic plain Greek yogurt
4 cups of organic milk


• Pour milk into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, but do not scald. Bubbles should be along the edge of the pan. (This process is killing any bacteria that would inhibit the yogurt culture)

• Let the milk cool to room temperature. Do not allow the milk to get cold.

• Pour milk into a glass bowl. Add 1 Cup of organic Greek yogurt to the bowl of milk and mix gently. Now cover the bowl.

• Place the bowl in a consistently warm place 80-90 degrees. Example: Top of refrigerator or in warm garage during summer months.**

• In about 8 hours you will have your homemade yogurt. It should have a jello like consistency. Now take out 1 cup (if you would like) to use for your next batch which will replace the Greek yogurt.

NOTE: If you let your yogurt sit too long it will form a clear liquid on top. This will make your yogurt taste bitter.

You can add many things to your yogurt to make it super yummy. I add a little bit of organic Madagascar vanilla extract and a few drops of stevia to make a delicious low sugar vanilla yogurt. Also, add some ground flax seed for an added health benefit! Some other things people use are honey, fresh fruit, jam or wheat germ. I also make my own yogurt salad dressings from this too. Enjoy! :)

** There are also many electric yogurt makers you can purchase. Try looking at the Yogourmet and the Euro Cuisine.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

5 Sneaky "Healthy" Labeling Tricks - Don't Fall For Them

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I run into people that truly feel they are eating something healthy because the packaging or marketing says it is "healthy". Just the other day, one of my co-workers told me he had a healthy breakfast; he felt all proud of himself. I asked him what he had. He proudly stated, "A Nature Valley granola bar!". It did not take long for me to take the wind out of his sails. I asked him to get the packaging and together we went over why his breakfast choice was not a good choice at all. 

America trusts big food companies way too much when it comes to labeling and marketing. We need to read the ingredient label first and then make our own decision on just how healthy the product really is. 

The FDA and manufacturers have once again been in the spotlight this week.  Manufacturers are stating that the FDA is hindering their amendments, as well as their lucrative businesses.  The FDA, however, is supposed to have our backs when it comes to products that are healthy and good for us.

There is much work to be done when it comes to deceptive labeling and educating people on what exactly they are taking in.  Claims such as “fat free," “trans fat free," and “helps to improve immunity,” are now coming under closer scrutiny than ever before.  Here the top 5 Sneakiest label claims of all time.

Claim #1: Made With 100% Whole Grain
One big claim in whole wheat or whole grain products is that the product is made with whole grains.  The whole grain part, which contains wheat germ and high levels of fiber, typically are processed away, leaving us only with bleached wheat flour.  A product needs to have 20% whole grains in order for us to get the healthy benefits from whole grain ingredients.  Most whole grain products fall short of this mark, ranging anywhere between 5-10%.  Flip the product over and be sure that the first ingredient is whole grain flour or some form of whole grains. This way you can be sure that you are getting the associated health benefits.

Claim #2: Made With 100% Real Fruit
Most people have heard the phrase 5-2-1-0, which was coined during these years of rising youth obesity.  The 5 in 5-2-1-0, stands for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, which is great if you are using canned, frozen, or fresh fruit.  Products that claim they are made from 100% real fruit need to be examined a little closer.  Not only do some of these products contain little or no fruit or fruit juice in them, but they are made with artificial fruit flavors.  Some products have emerged on the market making the same such claim, but use fruit puree.  You are getting more real fruit added, but you are also adding more sugar and eliminating the good part of the fruit, which is what you get the healthy benefits from.

Claim #3: Trans-Fat Free
Some products claim that they are "Trans-Fat Free."  In order for a product to be trans-fat free, you would believe that they contain 0 grams right?  Not really!  A product needs to contain 0.5 grams or less of trans-fats to be considered trans-fat free.  One of the biggest misleaders in food labeling is how many products claim they are trans-fat free, but contain high levels of saturated fats, which naturally contain trans fat.   Saturated fat can come in two different forms, natural and artificial.  The natural kind are usually found in lean meats and some low-fat dairy products which should not overly concern us, but the artificial, which can comprise a good majority of people's diets, can contain high levels of trans fats.

Claim #4: Front Of Package Claims
There has been much debate lately on front-of-the-package labeling.  On the front of boxes, manufacturers are allowed to make health claims about their product, which most of the time is fine if they used enough of the nutrient to support that claim.  The products may not contain enough of that specific nutrient per serving to live up to the claim.  This is true for some kid’s cereals, and the FDA is hearing about it now.  Most of the cereal claims it is healthy, but can contain more added sugar and other artificial fillers that make the product both unhealthy and, in some cases, higher in calories.

Claim #5: No Added MSG
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is an additive that makes food taste better, and occurs naturally in some foods.  MSG can also lead to other health risks that most people do not know about.  Foods that are said to have “no added MSG,” or “No MSG,” can be labeled such because the manufacturer did not add any additional MSG to the product.  Instead they added some form of hydrolyzed protein which contains MSG.   For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “hydrolyzed,” this means that proteins are either treated with acid, or are treated with enzymes, which will contain some salts of free amino acids including glutamate, which is a main ingredient in MSG.

The FDA is starting the slow process of tightening their restrictions on such deceptive claims in the food industry.  Manufacturers, in turn, are fighting tooth and nail at eliminating these restrictions, claiming they are hindering their First Amendment rights to Free Speech.  Whatever happens in the battle, our health is of vital importance.  Learning to correctly read a label, or the FDA mandating the labels be easier for us to read, will hopefully lead us to make better choices on what exactly goes into our mouth.  So next time you are shopping, stick with whole food choices, such as meat, chicken, and fresh fruit in order to avoid some of the deceptive labeling in the food industry.

Sources: Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES - Prograde Nutrition

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I've Gone Flackers!

I am a crunch girl -  I love my crunch! However, if you are someone like me, who stays away from refined grain products; crunch is nearly impossible to find! Enter in - FLACKERS! Thanks to Flackers, I have got my crunch back on!

These wonderful bits of crunch are the brilliant work of a local M.D. in Minneapolis, MN. Dr. Alison Levitt, M.D., (a.k.a. Dr. In The Kitchen) developed these for her patients and began to sell them at her practice back in 2005. Later, Dr. Levitt joined forces with Donn Kelly, a seasoned food marketer and former sales executive at General Mills. As a result, we now have a healthy crunch option in our lives!

Talk about healthy, look at this line up of health:
  • Three flackers add up to only 100 calories! (That's 33.33 calories for one!)
  • One serving has 7 grams of fiber.
  • One serving has 5 grams of protein.
  • Each flacker is made from organic golden and brown whole flax seeds.
  • Each flacker contains those GREAT Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Gluten Free
  • Raw  (baking and frying depletes nutrients)
Seriously folks, this is a healthy persons dream come true!

Flackers come in 3 flavors; savory, dill, and rosemary. My personal favorite is savory. For some, these may take some getting used to. My mom, who normally likes healthy things, did not care of them, but, my 9 year old daughter LOVES them. Our favorite way to enjoy flackers is by spreading  real organic farm butter on top of them. Eat them alone or couple them with soups, salads, or dips.

Keep in mind that flackers are high in fiber. I always recommend drinking lots of water when you are consuming things high in fiber as you could experience some constipation if you don't.

Luckily, you can buy flackers in a lot of places now! Click here to see if they are carried at a grocery store near you!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Forks Over Knives Premiere!

The feature film, Forks Over Knives, examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.

On Friday, May 20th, 2011, FORKS OVER KNIVES will premiere in Minnesota, at the Lagoon Cinema | 1320 Lagoon Avenue | Minneapolis, MN 55408. To purchase tickets online, click here. Tickets can also be purchased at Minneapolis Whole Foods Market stores.

I am a strong believer in eating lean, grass fed organic animal protein, so this film will be interesting to me, as it supports a diet moving away from processed foods and animal protein. Processed foods, without question, are destructive to our health and they are slowly killing so many people in America.

Please watch the trailer below. I think you will find it engaging and thought provoking.  If you have watched Food Inc. and the movie FRESH, then I think this is must add to that list of food documentaries and films.

If you see the movie, I would be very interested in your comments and feedback!