Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hungry for Change

The biggest snowstorm in years has taken over the television and Kelly and Michael is not airing.  Tragic, I know.  All I wanted to do today was curl up with some tea and watch my favorite show.  I suppose the Midwest's safety is more important than me seeing Kelly in Disney World today so I'm moving to the next thing on my list: blogging. Oh, and yes, I know I have a "list" problem.  I can't even take a snow day without making one.  It's a problem I am fully aware of.  

Time to discuss the other documentary I watched on my TV filled Saturday.  While I enjoyed Vegucated, I LOVED Hungry for Change.  I mean, REALLY loved it.  I completely agreed with everything they said, and all the sugar stuff I relay to you on my blog is covered in this documentary.  It is a MUST watch in my opinion.  I don't want to write tons and tons on this because really, I just want you to go watch it.  So go.  Blog post over.

Just kidding.  Here are my notes, but I'm not going to make it all fancy because if I sum it ALL up for you, what do you have left to watch?

  • Diets don't work.  You may lose weight, but eventually, you'll gain it all back.  (And more, sometimes!)
  • Sugar is the cocaine of the food industry.
  • People are overfed, but starving at the same time.  They are overfed, but undernourished.
  • We are programmed to put on fat (survival) for the winter, for shortage of food, etc.  Now days, no "winter" comes and we never shed the extra fat.
  • We are chronically starved of nutrients so we are always hungry.
  • We aren't eating food anymore, we eat food like products.  The goal of the companies is for food to last and it be appealing.  They don't care if it's nutritious.
  • MSG is in 80% of processed foods and it can be hidden behind 50 different names.  (This was shocking to me!)
  • Anything labeled fat free=full of sugar. (Ex: you could put "fat free" on a 20 lb. bag of sugar.  This is why on low fat diets you are constantly hungry.)
  • Of the bad fats, partially hydrogenated oil is the worst.  Healthiest: avocado, (sigh of relief for me!) salmon, and chia seeds.
  • High fructose corn syrup obviously comes from corn, but because it's so refined it is horrible for you.  They linked this to cocaine.  The coca leaf is what cocaine is made of.  In it's original form, the coca leaf is not addictive, but once it's refined it becomes highly addictive.  The same happens with corn syrup.  Corn is great; once it's refined, it's addictive.
  • High fructose corn syrup is in many more products than you think.  *Side note: I JUST discovered a new one.  I usually buy tomato soup at Traders Joe's so I haven't bought a can of Campbell's in awhile.  Our church does a canned soup drive every Superbowl Sunday weekend.  They call it "Soup-er Bowl Food Drive".  Clever, right?  Anyway, I grabbed some tomato soup while at the store and guess what was in it?  You got it-high fructose corn syrup.  I was enraged.   Poor Josh.  He had to hear me go on and on about it on the way to church.  It's just not right, though.
  • Fructose (fruit sugar) is okay when you consume 15-25 grams per day.  Today, the average person consumes 70-80 grams a day.
  • Your definition of "sugar" REALLY needs to expand.
  • I talked about my strong feelings on aspartame in the past.  This documentary supports everything I've said and more:
    • The only studies out there that claim there are no side effects to aspartame are those done by the food industry.  Aspartame has side effects and also make you crave carbohydrates.  The manufacturers fund the studies to send to the regulators.  The manufacturers know their ingredients/chemicals are addictive.  (MSG, sugar, aspartame) and just like cigarette companies add nicotine, they will add these addictive ingredients to their food so people come back for it again and again.
  • It is not fat that makes us fat, it's sugar.  Sugar is like a drug-it's that addictive.
  • Jamie Oliver (who I'm a HUGE fan of) says the amount of sugar added to flavored milk that kids are required to take in school should be called child abuse. 
  • What to do?  Limit man made foods.  Look for high quality animal protein.  Increase your green veggies!  Green veggies help detox the body. 
Have I convinced you to watch yet?  If I still haven't, take a look at this clip. 

I realize I am fascinated with this kind of stuff, but just watching the trailer gets me all fired up.  Clearly, the manufacturer's aren't going to change, so it's up to YOU to be educated and get back to the basics of clean eating. 

Did I mention you should WATCH THIS DOCUMENTARY!  You won't regret it. 

Friday, February 15, 2013


Last time I blogged about a documentary I mentioned I had a couple more on my list to watch.  I am happy to report: mission accomplished last weekend. Saturday to be exact.  I like to call it utilizing my resources, but really I was a bum.  I managed to watch two documentaries, the K-State basketball game, and Taken 2.  I did fit a walk with my Dad in there and I made some salsa so I wasn't totally useless.  Just mostly useless.  If you look though, half of the television viewing consisted of documentaries, which is basically like being in school. Right?  

I wasn't kidding when I said I needed to utilize my resources while I could.  I was in Kansas City for the weekend and my brother was in town from Houston.  Said brother has Netflix and he was leaving town on Sunday.  You see, I really had no choice but to sit and watch hours of television taking advantage of his Netflix account.

First up, was Vegucated.  I have to be honest...I liked it, I didn't love it.  I would definitely recommend it to people to watch as it's very insightful.  So, just because I'm not over the moon about it doesn't mean I'm saying you shouldn't take the hour and a half to see if for yourself.  It will be time well spent and you will learn some things.  

From their website, here's the synopsis:

Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. This entertaining documentary showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who discover they can change the world one bite at a time.
Marisa Miller Wolfson put an ad on Craigslist to find the three New Yorkers to go vegan for six weeks.  She found Ellen-a doctor, Tesla-a college student, and Brian-a bartender.  All three of them adopted a vegan diet and found it pretty difficult.  I found following their six weeks was quite entertaining. 
Here's what I liked about it and found interesting:
  • All of their taste buds changed some during the six weeks.  They tried new vegetables and fruits they had never had before and found out they ended up liking many of them. 
  • This documentary states that America's demand for protein is so large we can't keep up with it the natural way.  I liked this statement because sometimes we blame the farmers and the large manufacturer's of meat for their unhealthy and unnatural meat.  However, due to the amount of meat consumption in the U.S. they aren't left with much alternative.
  • Tesla has the hardest time going vegan because she lives at home and she hates not being able to eat with her family.  She states, "It's not a good thing if everyone around you isn't vegan."  I think there is so much truth to that statement; it's hard if you're not cooking the food for yourself or if you go to some one's house.  I think this documentary was very honest.  It shows it is extremely difficult to go vegan in an animal protein obsessed culture.  I appreciated the honesty.
  • If you've seen anything about the way the animals are treated you know it's horrible.  With the risk of losing a few of you animal lover readers I'll go ahead and say it: I don't like animals.  I mean, really don't like them.  I tell you this, because I'm one of those people who can't be convinced to give up meat because of the way animals are treated.  And, now that you all think I'm a horrible person I'll get to my point.  I've seen videos and images showing how animals are treated, but it never really got to me.  I was more concerned with how poorly they were treated in terms of not being fed right, being shot up with growth hormones and having no space to roam and therefore, resulting in a lesser product on my plate.  However, Vegucated managed to pull on my heart a smidgen.  I've said for years every time I pull out a chicken breast and see it's almost as big as my head-there's no way that's normal.  I never really thought about the state of the chicken, I always thought of myself and the hormones I must be ingesting from this piece of meat equal to three servings.  Vegucated shows a chicken whose top half is so overgrown and large it can't even stand on it's feet.  It is top heavy and just lays like that all day.  For a split second I felt sorry for that chicken.  Then, the old me came back.  Is that really the meat I want to eat?  If you ask me why I rarely eat meat, my answer is I don't trust where it came from, what the animal ate, or what hormones it was injected with.  (Don't be too discouraged...there's more and more options out there as more awareness is brought to this.  For a higher price, you can find good, quality, hormone free meat.  For me, it's come down to what I mentioned above.  Just like the three participants taste buds changed, mine have too.  Even when I fork over the extra money and buy quality, trusted chicken breasts it doesn't taste good to me.  I'm just used to not eating it and I don't feel deprived at all.)  Vegucated does an excellent job of digging deeper and showing the production side of animal products.  It really is an eye opener.
  • Vegucated really motivated me to find local products.  I've never liked milk.  In fact, it really, really, bothers my stomach.  However, if I was a milk lover I wouldn't be anymore.  One discussion in this documentary tells of the abnormal amount of milk the cows are forced to produce to keep up.  They get infections and just keep on going and therefore, puss is found in a lot of our milk.  Go ahead and let that sink in.  Yuck.  Gross.  Disgusting.  Etc.  Now, not only do I need a chicken, I need a cow too!  (For Josh, not me, silly)
Thing I didn't like/don't agree with:
  • Everyone has their opinions on how to eat. (Just call me Captain Obvious!) In this documentary, Marisa shows some items that are vegan and introduce the three participants to vegan cheese, vegan "meat", etc.  This is where I have some hesitations.  Now, I understand they were going vegan cold turkey and she was trying to make the transition as smooth as possible.  However, when you look at a package of vegan cheese or soy crumbles there are a TON of ingredients.  I love, love, love Michael Pollan's books and completely agree with his book, Food Rules.  In my post on this I show a picture of some of his rules, one of them stating: Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.  Personally, I would rather eat an all natural, organic, hormone free chicken breast, than a fake soy "chicken" strip with many ingredients, with tons of them I can't even pronounce.  (Furthermore, many soy products are genetically modified.  I'll save that for another post, and I'm all for some soy products, but you have to be careful.)
  • These three volunteers were all hoping to lose weight.  Although Ellen lost about 10 pounds, the other two did not lose a significant amount of weight.  (Although all of their blood pressure did go down.)  I'm guessing this is because Marisa showed them Oreos are vegan. Again, I know she was trying to help them stick with their vegan lifestyle, and I know a couple Oreos never hurt anybody, but I do think it proves just because you go vegetarian or vegan it doesn't mean you'll lose weight.  You still MUST look at the ingredients.
In conclusion I found this documentary very interesting and insightful.  Did I agree with everything?  No.  Did it convince me to go vegan?  Not even close.  Is it worth watching?  ABSOLUTELY.  I think Marisa's point is that if America keeps up with their animal protein consumption at this rate, there's no way it can be done humanely or safely for consumption.  I am a huge believer that American's eat way too much animal protein and can cut back a ton and that will make a difference.  Perhaps you could consider going vegetarian one day a week. Anyone? Meatless Mondays are super fun! 
If you want more information:


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Newport Grill

For those of you who haven't heard yet, we have some changes ahead this summer.  Josh was accepted to a CV Fellowship at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, TX.  We are packing up and headed south!  (Just for a year)  If you are like every single person I have told we are moving, you're wondering where exactly Temple is in that big 'ol state of Texas. 
Allow me to make something perfectly clear for you about that red dot:  it's in the middle of nowhere.  Alright, alright, technically, I have never been, but that's what I've prepared myself for.  Regardless, I am so proud of my hubby and one year will fly by.  I knew these moves were all possibilities when I married him and I'm happy to support him wherever that may take us.  One of the songs played at our wedding said, "Wherever life may lead you, with all my heart I'll go there too."  I picked that song for our wedding solely based upon that line.  {Although I told Josh it had a teeny tiny footnote that said it couldn't be to Salina, KS, which is where Josh is from.  It's much too small of a town for me.}  Well, God and his sense of humor is sending me to the Salina of Texas.  All joking aside, I'm actually looking forward to a year of warm weather and perhaps more time to blog since there will be nothing to go do :) More importantly, though, take a look at those black dots around that red one...that's what I'm really looking forward to. Say hello to weekend trips to Austin and San Antonio.  You just KNOW there's some fabulous food there.  Can I get a YEEHAW?! 
I have a few months left before I say goodbye to my beloved Midwest and I thought I better review a few of my favorite Wichita restaurants before I go. I'm starting with my absolute favorite:
Newport Grill
Newport Grill wasn't here when we moved to Wichita three years ago. However, we've eaten there every chance we can since they opened a couple years ago. By every chance, I mean for every birthday, anniversary, holiday, special occasion, etc. You see, this isn't why it's my favorite, but it also happens to be the most expensive so we save it for special occasions.  The service has always been fantastic, the decor is modern and it's a very pretty space, the patio in the summertime is one of, (if not the best) in town, they have a small, private dining area that makes for a very fun girls night and happy hour is amazeballs. Oh, and did I mention the food is out of this world?! Obviously.
 One of my most memorable evenings here in Wichita was a summer night when Josh and I arrived at Newport and they had a live band on the patio.  We sat out here with a beautiful view and live music and had such a fun date night.
Newport Grill has some staple menu items, but they also change their menu based upon the fish that got delivered.  They receive fresh fish daily 6 days a week! You can really tell in the taste how fresh everything is. I've had salmon, mahi mahi, scallops and I've even tried fish I've never heard of before. Each time, it's just as good as the last. Furthermore, the presentation of each dish is stunning. Yes, I know, normal people call a bride stunning and I call Newport's food presentation stunning.  The sooner you find that acceptable, the more you will enjoy reading my blog. :)
Here are some pics of food from my last several visits and more detailed descriptions.

This is a pic from a happy hour visit I made to Newport with some friends to celebrate my last day of work back in October.  It was the first time I tried their house-made Ricotta with olive oil and olives served with grilled ciabatta.  It was so smooth and full of flavor; I fell in love.  It's priced at $9, but I think it's $5 for happy hour. 
You MUST start with the Arugala Salad.  It's $6 and has fennel, pomegranate, goat cheese (my fav!) apples, and a sherry vinaigrette dressing.
 Josh and I have both ordered the Norwegian Salmon.  This is one of the staple menu items that is always available.  It is served over ravioli, pine nuts, and has a balsamic pepper drizzle.  It's $26 and worth every penny!  
 This is another dish that you can always find on Newport's menu.  Diver scallops with cauliflower puree and broccolini.  I could have licked my plate.  $28

We have tried the well known steak houses in Wichita and Josh is always disappointed.  He's found Newport's filet to be his favorite.  For $33 you get an 8 oz. filet mignon served with mashed potatoes and string beans.
To be honest, I can't remember exactly what this fish is I ordered.  I'm pretty sure it's mahi mahi, but regardless, this is an example of their fresh fish option from the menu.  You choose the fish you want and two sides.  It's not as pretty of presentation, but if you want something light and healthy it's a great option. Their sides vary depending on the season, but some options have been: mashed potatoes, green beans, quinoa*,  spaghetti squash, asparagus, zucchini.  
I don't know if I did it justice, but if you haven't been to Newport you must go for your next special occasion.  Hands down, the best restaurant in Wichita.  Yes, you pay for the fresh ingredients, but I always feel it's fairly priced.  Plus, you leave feeling like you ate a relatively healthy meal and that's always a plus.
*My only complaint I've ever had about Newport Grill is that their quinoa is hugely disappointing. You can do so much with quinoa and I was excited to order it as a side on one of my visits. It was plain. I don't even think they cooked it in broth. Why on earth they don't add some pine nuts and goat cheese is beyond me, but steer clear of the quinoa! You can go home and boil some yourself and it'll taste the same. Bland and boring. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Avocado Oil

Just like my relationship wavers with yogurt, I have done the same with oil.  For years, I used 100% extra virgin olive oil whenever I could as it's much healthier for you than vegetable or canola oil.  Then, I read several articles that claim when olive oil is heated it releases cancer causing carcinogens.  Naturally, I freaked out and searched and searched for an alternative.  I introduce to you: Coconut Oil.  It's delightful!  I have found it's cheapest at Trader Joe's.

I used it for my own omelettes and different things for a week or so and then one night I used it to make shredded sweet potato hash browns.  I took a bite and it was delicious!  I was so happy to have found coconut oil.  Then...Josh spoke up.  He could taste the coconut and he doesn't like coconut.  Back to square one I went.  I couldn't argue with him; it does have a distinct coconut flavor.  I continued to use coconut oil in dishes that he wouldn't be able to taste it, but I still didn't have my "go to" oil for when I needed to heat it. 
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we had such a great time in Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl.  We enjoyed some very tasty food, the family time was memorable, and we met lots of great people.  Furthermore, I found my oil!  I know, weird, right?  Our last day in Arizona was a Sunday and every Sunday the resort we were staying at has a farmer's market.  My parents and I decided to go check it out and see what an Arizona farmer's markets entailed.  Little did I know I would hit the jackpot!

As we walked around I saw this stand and made a beeline for it.  I was chatting up a storm with Keith (the nice man pictured above) in a jiffy.  He told me ALL about his avocado oil and I was intrigued.  He let me sample some and I was SOLD.  In fact, you are reading the blog of the newest member of the sales team for Storino's Quality Products.  Just kidding, but I'd totally do it.  I believe in it that much!
Aside from all the health factors, it doesn't taste like avocado.  Which, is a bit of a shame, because avocados are one of my main food groups.  However, this fact makes it perfect for cooking anything!  I get abnormally excited about things like this and Keith was happy to answer all my questions.  Here's what I learned:
*The smoke point of avocado oil is the highest of all plant oils at 520 degrees.  (Olive oil is 350 degrees)  I'm psyched about this!
*Since it's made from 100% avocado's it's also rich in monounsaturated fats (the good fat from avocados), it's rich in antioxidants, and has vitamins A, E, D and potassium.
*This particular brand I purchased uses Ahuacatian avocados and they are from the region in Mexico where the best avocados are grown-Michoacan, Mexico. 
Are you ready to buy some yet?  You won't regret it!
You can purchase bottles directly from their website or if you have a World Market in your area they carry it. 
Thankfully, I had the good sense to purchase the biggest bottle there because I'm obsessed and going through my bottle at rapid speed. It was the perfect way to end a spectacular trip to the desert.  The pamphlet I got with my purchase says it perfectly:
"What do you do with Avocado oil?"
"It's great from Sizzle to Drizzle."
*I still use my olive oil for homemade salad dressing and different things, but I stick to the avocado oil whenever I'm heating to a high temperature.  Coconut oil is another oil that can reach a high temperature before burning and is another great choice-I prefer the avocado oil for the neutral taste.