Guest post - Eating well with limited selection from Eating Well Anywhere

>> Monday, September 29, 2008

Eating Well Anywhere is another of my favorite blogs. I always find lots of delicious and healthy food ideas on this blog. We made the peach crisps featured on the blog when we were swimming and peaches, and now I dream of eating one of those yummy frozen peach crisps this winter.

Eating well with limited selection

Shopping for food can be a little like a scavenger hunt. You squint at
labels, frequent more than one store, stalk certain aisles. The prize?
Eating food that makes you happy. Maybe it's organic or local food, maybe
it's food without a certain ingredient or additive, maybe it's the one
kind of peanut butter you can't resist eating straight from the jar.

My blog is about putting good food on the table no matter where you live.
Earlier this year I shared five tips for eating organic with
limited selection
. I know Cathy's family is trying to avoid high
fructose corn syrup; when selection at the supermarket is limited, finding
HFCS-free foods can be difficult, too.

These ideas will help you stay saner on your own supermarket scavenger hunt:

- Make a list of your pantry staples, and keep it in your wallet or purse.
When you're somewhere you can stock up on organic or HFCS-free
versions--for me, a big supermarket or specialty food store in the
city--do so wisely (buy only what you can use in a reasonable period of
storage time).

- Buy ingredients instead of products. Maybe you can't find an organic or
HFCS-free three-cheese pizza in the freezer section, but you can
get flour, cheese, and canned tomatoes. Many products we think of as
convenience foods can be made at home without a lot of commitment; tomato sauce is a
great place to start.


Guest post - Pamela Reinsel Cotter of Fitness Inside and Out

>> Friday, September 26, 2008

The guest posts continue! Pamela has great posts on a variety of subjects on her blog Fitness Inside and Out.

Guest Blogger: Pamela Reinsel Cotter of Fitness Inside and Out


I'm Pamela Reinsel Cotter, an online producer at, mother of two, wife of one, joined in my home by two cats and my 76-year-old father.

The Fitness Inside and Out blog started as an offshoot to a new project we were trying for our Rhode Island newspaper's Web site -- a women's micro-site called "In Her Shoes." It hasn't launched yet, but my blogging partner, Providence Journal outdoors writer Tom Meade and I have been faithfully blogging since July, to help people in their quest to become more healthy.

Because I am dedicated to my practice of yoga, I often write about fitness on the "inside": meditation, yoga poses, and carving out time in our busy days for a little relaxation and movement. But don't let that fool you. I also love to talk about sports (I am a maniac about the Pittsburgh Steelers), my own struggles with body image, and just how hard it is to be an imperfect being sometimes.
Providence Journal photo / John Freidah

That's why I read, "A Life Less Sweet." And that's why, as Cathy requested when she kindly asked me to guest blog while she's on vacation, I'm sharing some of my favorite posts from our blog:

It's fall sports times for kids, what will you be doing?

Brady-like knee injury is common -- especially for women

'Girls Night In'? No thanks, GameStop

Cure for the work-a-day-aches

Tom's posts have a lot to do with healthy foods and more outdoorsy activities, so be sure and check those out, too.


Guest post - HFCS: Global Influence? by Fake Food Free

>> Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another favorite blog of mine is Fake Food Free by Lori Rice. Lori is a freelance health and travel writer. A Nutritionist by education, she is halfway through her 2 year adventure of the true Brazilian experience, which doesn't include a beach anywhere nearby. You can catch up on her thoughts about reducing fake foods at and her ex-pat adventures at

HFCS: Global Influence?

You've watched it happen before. A rather unhealthy food choice climbs to the top of the popularity charts in the US and then begins to permeate the societies of unsuspecting countries around the world.

There are fast food, sodas, pizzas and fried chicken. Now, living abroad has provided me the fortune of realizing that all this fattening of other countries isn't completely our fault. However, you can't ignore the fact that U.S. food corporations and restaurants contribute.

So this got me thinking about HFCS, this fake food that has seeped into almost every packaged product on the US supermarket shelves. Right now, I am a US ex-pat living in a small town in southern Brazil. My roots are in Indiana and Kentucky and last year I took on this adventure of living abroad with my husband. Oh, what an adventure it has been.

I got to wondering if HFCS is even used in Brazil. I wasn't expecting it in Brazilian products, but there are several US companies and products here. We have Kraft, Kellogg, Nestle, and of course, Coca Cola.

I set out this weekend to do some label reading. Lucky for me, since Portuguese is a constant struggle, many foods have English listed on the labels as well. Although, the words in Portuguese aren't so difficult to translate. I would say overall even packaged foods are simpler here. There seem to be fewer additives than what I have become accustomed to in the States.

The first thing I should point out is that sugarcane is a huge crop here. I mean, huge. My husband drives through miles of it to get to work. Needless to say, there is no lack of sugar.

In fact, after a little research on the web I've gathered that the importation of sugar to the US is set low making prices high. This creates a great market for HFCS which is manufactured right in the good ol' US of A. I won't go into that because it will take me longer to get my facts straight and I don't want to pass on any false info. Just something to think about.

After reading label upon label of crackers, pasta sauces, cookies, cereals, yogurt and even Coca Cola, I found no trace of HFCS in the products at our local supermarket here. It is all sugar.

Now, for someone who knows more about the details of trade agreements and import/export practices (not me!) this might not be surprising. However, I guess part of me expected to see that HFCS crept in under the radar somewhere.

I'm not a big packaged food fan anyway, so this doesn't make we want to go out and stock up on cereal and crackers, but it did get me thinking more.

I'm sure there are other countries where our products are exported, the ones that do contain HFCS. So over the next decade are we only going to be adding to the damage that sharing our fast food and unhealthy habits has already done?


Guest post - Keep it simple! from Super Healthy Kids

>> Monday, September 22, 2008

Dear readers, while I am on vacation enjoying the company of normally far away friends and family, some of my favorite bloggers have graciously provided guest posts for your reading pleasure. The first guest post comes from Amy, author of the blog Super Healthy Kids. As a mother who struggles with two picky kids, I've gotten so many good - and healthy - ideas for meals and snacks from her blog. Not to mention good tips and some laughs. So, enjoy this guest post and check out her blog!

Tip of the day: Keep it simple

I couldn't believe my ears!! I had to ask "whaaaat?", several times. The stars must've been aligned exactly right, I must have said my prayers, maybe it's good karma for writing a blog about healthy eating, but my cereal boy (9 years old) ate his salad, and ASKED FOR MORE! I have been trying to get him to like salad for at least 8 years! It has finally paid off. He had three helpings! He even said, "This is good. I like it almost as much as rice." I'll share some things that may have helped getting him to open up to salad.

Forever they have been dipping carrots and broccoli in ranch. They like it and it's not new. I only had ham for dinner because our potatoes didn't cook quite as quickly as I thought they would, so there was not a lot of competition for his appetite. I shredded some cabbage, red leaf lettuce and carrots quite small. Poured just enough ranch to make it palatable, and didn't say a word as I handed them a plate with a small piece of ham and the salad.

My 5 year old on the other hand is still sitting at the counter reminding me he doesn't like salad. Hopefully it doesn't take 4 more years for him to accept it like it did for cereal boy.

My neighbor's boy was over the other day talking about how he loved Spinach salad! How did his mom do that? I don't know why it has been twice as hard for me. I have struggled with my picky eaters since they started on solids. Luckily they took well to breast milk. My blog is about my journey in getting them to eat better. Super Healthy Kids


Blog news!

>> Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm quickly popping in to pass along a little news. First up, if you're missing posts on HFCS, check out my guest post on Mark Salinas' blog. Thanks for the guest post opportunity, Mark!

Second, A Life Less Sweet is on Wellsphere! I've been invited to be a featured blogger in the Healthy Eating community and have been given a Top Health Blogger badge. Wellsphere is a very nice health site chocked full of great information, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

Last, this little blog has made another list on I don't know much about their site, but they come out with these great lists that link to health blogs. A Life Less Sweet made the "Ditch your Diet: 100 Tips and Tools to Lost Weight without Trying Hard" list under Nutrition Blogs. I'm looking forward to delving into the list (as losing the last of this baby weight is high on my list!) and checking out the other blogs.


Bear with me!

>> Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We're getting ready for a much anticipated vacation - back to visit family in the land of plenty - and things have been a little crazy around here. I might be a little short on posts for the next couple of weeks, but check back! I have some of my favorite bloggers that have agreed to do a guest post while I'm gone, and I hope to get a couple of posts written while on the road.

More good stuff to come!


Great Indian simmer sauces

>> Monday, September 15, 2008

If you're like me, you have those days when you don't really feel like cooking dinner, don't have any leftovers to munch on, and don't have the budget to eat out. About a year ago, we found these absolutely fantastic Indian simmer sauces made by Maya Kaimal. They're fresh and authentic tasting and a snap to prepare.

Take a look at the ingredient label from our favorite, Coconut Curry: coconut milk, water, onion, potato, tomato puree, spices, ginger, vegetable oil, salt, fresh curry leaves, black mustard seeds, sugar, turmeric. So simple! I wish that I had a picture of the sauce all prepared, but trust me when I tell you that you can see the spices in there and will have to pluck out a bay leaf or two.

I go the simple route when using these sauces and just add chicken, but you could eat them as is or add an endless permutation of vegetables and/or meat. I have to admit that we pretty much stick with the Coconut Curry as it is mild, and the kids love it, but they have other great sauce options to choose from.

Look for these simmer sauces in the refrigerated section of your grocery store - especially specialty or health food grocery stores. The sauces keep for a month or two in the refrigerator, and we find it's great to have on hand for a night when we want a simple but delicious meal. Or you could go the other route and use it as the base for a delicious and more expansive Indian meal!


Oh, those pesky ads

>> Friday, September 12, 2008

Have you seen the ads? If you haven't, well, take a moment and watch them.

What did you think? If you're like me, you found them funny at first, and then a little creepy and very contrived.

I was going to write a big long post ranting about these commercials, but I've decided instead to link to a few other blogs that have already ranted against these commercials. I will say this: corn is so processed during HFCS that calling it natural is like calling a plastic bottle natural because its molecules originated in the ground. So, yeah, HFCS is from corn. For that matter, gift cards, coffee cups, and blankets are also made from corn but I'm not about to chow down on a coffee cup.

Anyway, take a look at these different blogs and what they have to say about these ads.

LiveWell 360 made me laugh with her take on the ads: High Fructose Corn Syrup for President

The Consumerist called it badvertising and had this great title for their blog post: It Looks Like High Fructose Corn Syrup Manufacturers Are Getting a Little Nervous

Serious Eats has an interesting discussion on the ads: Pro-HFCS Ads: Do They Bother You?

Then there's this great post from BlogHer that takes on the commercials point by point: High Fructose Corn Syrup Ads and Evaluating Information

There are many, many others, but those posts really resonated with me. The scary thing about these ads is that they'll probably work. There are so many people out there that just need that little bit of reassurance to forget about HFCS and eating healthier. It's only corn, right?


Surprising HFCS food of the week

>> Thursday, September 11, 2008

When we first cleaned out our pantry of HFCS-containing foods, I was shocked - SHOCKED - to find that my dry breadcrumbs had HFCS in them. Breadcrumbs? Who would have thought? Now that I know a little more about the hows and whys of HFCS usage, it makes sense to me. Breadcrumbs are not sweet, but they do require a long shelf life, and as we found out when exploring HFCS's role in bread, HFCS can help extend shelf life. Breadcrumbs sit on an unrefrigerated shelf for an amazingly long time, so any cheap, shelf-life extending aid has got to be a boon to manufacturers.

Progresso is one of the brands that sells breadcrumbs with HFCS. Seems like most do, so be sure to check the label when buying regular breadcrumbs. Surprisingly, Albertson's generic brand of breadcrumbs did not have HFCS in them (at least, when I last checked). Their flavor was also a little more like cardboard than the other brands, but that might have been because I was using an old carton of breadcrumbs.

Progresso contains HFCS!!!

Panko breadcrumbs are another alternative. I have found two brands that don't have HFCS in them. Sun Luck is one of the HFCS-free brands. (Sadly, I don't remember what the second brand was.) Panko has a different crumb texture than regular breadcrumbs, so they might not always be a good alternative in your recipes.
HFCS free!

To avoid the issue all together, I've started making my own breadcrumbs. Whenever I have old bread leftover (especially the heels), I pop it into my food processor and whir it into breadcrumbs. They'll last as long as a carton of dried breadcrumbs when stored in my freezer. I use them as is for fresh breadcrumbs, and heat them at 400 F for about 5 min (check to make sure they don't burn) in my oven to make dried breadcrumbs. Easy-peasy! And so much better tasting than the dry breadcrumbs you get in a box!


Another reason to not consume HFCS

>> Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I came across this article from the Washington Post from last March that talks about the toll that HFCS takes on the environment. It's an interesting argument for avoiding HFCS - not that I need yet another reason to avoid it.

Exerpt from: High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Not So Sweet for the Planet

Sunday, March 9, 2008; Page N02

Much ink has been devoted to the dietary hazards of high-fructose corn syrup, the cheap, ubiquitous sweetener found not just in soda and Twinkies but in many foods that aren't even considered sweets, such as bread and ketchup. Though the jury's still out on whether the substance is to blame for rising obesity rates, environmentalists have been trumpeting another reason to avoid it: Doing so is a step toward going green.

High-fructose corn syrup "may be cheap in the supermarket, but in the environment it could not be more expensive," Michael Pollan, author of "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" (Penguin Press, 2008), writes in an e-mail.

Most corn is grown as a monoculture, meaning that the land is used solely for corn, not rotated among crops. This maximizes yields, but at a price: It depletes soil nutrients, requiring more pesticides and fertilizer while weakening topsoil.

"The environmental footprint of HFCS is deep and wide," writes Pollan, a prominent critic of industrial agriculture. "Look no farther than the dead zone in the Gulf [of Mexico], an area the size of New Jersey where virtually nothing will live because it has been starved of oxygen by the fertilizer runoff coming down the Mississippi from the Corn Belt. Then there is the atrazine in the water in farm country -- a nasty herbicide that, at concentrations as little as 0.1 part per billion, has been shown to turn male frogs into hermaphrodites."

Milling and chemically altering corn to form high-fructose corn syrup also is energy-intensive. That's not to say that corn is evil and other foods aren't; all crops require energy to grow and transport. What makes corn a target is that federal subsidies -- and tariffs on imported sugar -- keep prices low, paving the way for widespread use of high-fructose corn syrup and, in the process, keeping the American palate accustomed to the sweetness it provides.

{read the rest of the article for more good stuff}


Try this hummus!

>> Sunday, September 7, 2008

I am not a chickpea fan. I don't like their taste or their texture, but something magical happens when they're transformed into hummus. The blend of a few simple ingredients results in a dip that is so tasty and really quite healthy. While I like hummus from a restaurant or bought pre-made at the grocery store (usually, I've had some pretty bad hummus, too), I absolutely love the recipe below for hummus. The flavor of this hummus beats all other hummus that I've tried hands down.

Before we move on to the recipe, let's talk about the humble chickpea. Like other beans, chickpeas are high in fiber - both soluble and in
soluble fiber. High fiber foods are great for many reasons - they help to regulate blood sugar levels, they can help lower cholesterol levels (soluble fiber), and they can help prevent constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (insoluble fiber). In addition to the fiber, chickpeas are loaded with molybdenum (especially important for people with sulfite sensitivity), manganese and folate (both important for heart health). They are also a good source of protein, copper, phosphorous, and iron. Heck, they even have a dose of calcium in them! Chickpeas are low in fat, and what little fat they do have is mostly polyunsaturated fat (one of the good kinds).

So, go try this incredibly simple hummus. It's a goo
d one for kids - my 2 yr old loves this hummus (my 5 yr old won't touch it, but he's got dip issues). You'll never buy hummus again!


1 can (14-16 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup tahini
1 small clove garlic (I add more because I like it really garlicky)
juice of 1 lemon
1 TBSP olive oil

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.


Oh, for an HFCS-free cracker...

>> Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ok, so the there are actually plenty of HFCS-free crackers out there, but they're swimming in an ocean of crackers containing HFCS. (High fructose corn syrup might seem like a strange ingredient for crackers, but it serves the same purpose in crackers as it does in bread. Two big advantages to using HFCS in crackers are increased shelf life and cost.) Go look in any supermarket at the cracker aisle, and you'll find cracker after cracker with HFCS in it. Hidden among those HFCS-containing crackers are several good ones that are free of the offending ingredient. I'm not going to even try to tell you all of the crackers that don't have HFCS in them, but I am going to try to give some pointers to finding HFCS-free crackers in the different cracker categories - and maybe point out a few crackers that contain HFCS that surprised me.

Let's start with saltines. The situation with saltines really isn't as bad as it first seems. I'm going to use Nabisco brand as an example, but I would guess that other brands are similar to Nabisco. Nabisco Original Premium Saltine Cracker has HFCS as an ingredient. Strike them off of your list! Sadly, I wasn't able to find a regular saltine that didn't have HFCS in any of the brands that our grocery store carries - and there were several brands to look at. The good news is that as far as I can tell, every other permutation of saltine (low-salt, fat free, multigrain, toasted onion, etc.) from Nabisco is HFCS-free! We've been using the Nabisco Fat Free Premium Saltine Crackers for years now. I'll admit that they don't taste quite as good as the original - they're not as tender for one thing - but after using them for a while, I find that they taste just fine. And the ingredient list is pretty innocuous too. If you don't want to go fat free, try the other options. Maybe multigrain? But remember, what's true for Nabisco might not be true for other brands, so look before you buy!BUTTER CRACKERS
There are a few butter cracker options out there. Toasteds Buttercrisp is a good one. All of the Toasteds crackers are HFCS free. Wild Harvest Natural - a very reasonably priced organic food line - also has a reasonable priced HFCS-free butter cracker. The biggies - Townhouse Original (and Reduced Fat) and Ritz have HFCS in them.

I was a bit surprised by how many wheat crackers had HFCS in them. Wheat Thins was one that surprised me - it has HFCS in it. Wheatables also contains HFCS. So, where to turn? Townhouse Wheat is HFCS-free (though it does contain corn syrup, but we're not going to quibble about that right now)! Toasteds Wheat, again, is HFCS free. Good ole Triscuits is HFCS free (at least the original - I didn't check the different flavors for HFCS). And, again, Wild Harvest Natural wheat crackers are HFCS free.

Cheese crackers are a particular favorite in my house. What kid doesn't like munching on goldfish? (We won't discuss how healthy they are - or are not - here.) Happily, Goldfish (at least the original flavor, I didn't check other flavors) are HFCS free! No kid mutiny here! Reduced Fat Cheese-its, another household favorite and good addition to trail mix, is also HFCS-free. Reduced Fat Cheese Nips are also HFCS free. (Regular Cheese-its and Cheese Nips both contain HFCS.) Better Cheddars are also HFCS free.

Then there are the specialty crackers. Keebler Graham Crackers - another favorite around here - thankfully is HFCS free. These are so useful for graham cracker crusts, snacks, and other desserts! I hate to admit it, but I love Chicken in a Biskit crackers as a sometimes snack, and happily, they're HFCS free! And I have yet to see a Pepperidge Farm cracker with HFCS in it. We love their Pretzel Thins here. Sadly, I'm still looking for a vanilla wafer that doesn't have HFCS in it. Banana pudding is not in our diet for the immediate future! And if you want those snack packs that have peanut butter or fake cheese spread between two crackers (often a weird shade of orange), those have HFCS in them. Maybe that's not such a bad thing...

And there are so many more! Crackers that tout being multigrain or organic generally seem to be HFCS-free (but check those labels to be sure!).

Did I miss a cracker that you're interested in? Let me know if the comments!


Applesauce that's fun and healthy to boot

>> Monday, September 1, 2008

Remember a while back when I bemoaned the presence of HFCS in applesauce? Well, a company that is getting into the applesauce business read that post too and were kind enough to send me a couple of samples of their new HFCS-free applesauce! Luvli Foods, Inc. is introducing a new applesauce product called Smashies next month. As they describe it, Smashies is "applesauce in a handy squeeze pouch: no mess, no fuss, all fun."

We are not a big applesauce family. My 5 yr old son would eat it when a mere baby but won't touch it anymore. My 2 yr old daughter wouldn't even eat it as a baby, though I suspect that she might have liked it once she got over the texture. So when we got our samples, I was intrigued. The applesauce comes in a kid-friendly, colorful pouch with a place to suck out the applesauce at the top. The final verdict of my kids? My son wouldn't try it - even with the nice pouch. My daughter, on the other hand, thought it was great! She slurped up the whole thing. She would take a slurp, smile, and look at me and say, "Drink, Mama!" Success! While she won't have anything to do with applesauce in a tub, the novelty of the Smashies was enough to win her over. (Unfortunately, in her excitement to eat/drink the second Smashies today, she grabbed it out of my hand and squeezed the pouch hard enough to squirt applesauce up her nose. After that, she would have nothing more to do with it. Sigh.) I tried a bit myself. It tastes like, well, applesauce, though it has a finer texture than the applesauce in the little tubs.

I would have no problem recommending this product - especially if you have applesauce loving kids. The pouch is handy and though messes can still be made, no utensils are needed and an older kid can easily handle the pouch without spilling a drop. It would be a great snack to throw in a lunch box, diaper bag, or purse. The applesauce ingredients are simple: organic apple puree, natural flavor, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The applesauce is USDA organic, kosher, vegetarian, and gluten free.

Smashies won't be in stores until October, but if you really have a hankering to try them, you can order samples from their site now. The line is starting with plain apple flavor (called Snappy Apple) with more fun flavors to come beginning early next year.


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