Easter Maze

I think the Bunny needs to hold off on bringing sugary treats this year. I’ve been sugar free for two weeks now and I’m not sure I could stand the temptation. The Beastlings have never gotten a lot of candy at holidays anyway, but I’m not willing to push my luck right now.

I do think everyone should have a chocolate rabbit in their basket, but it doesn’t have to be a big one. I’ll get a good quality chocolate one rather than the cheaper massive ones they sell. That cheap “chocolate” is full of partially hydrogenated nastiness anyway.

And then they will get some trinkets, a book or two, maybe some non-candy snacks, some play-doh toys and matchbox cars, and that will be it. I won’t be tempted to eat the play-doh, at least.

And they will get plenty candy from their school egg hunts. I suggested that the classes fill the eggs with stickers and things other than sweets but that went over like a lead balloon. I should have expected that, but it was worth a try.

I could really go for a Cadbury Creme Egg right now. Or three.

Or five.

Here’s a maze to keep the little’uns busy. Click and enlarge.

P.S. Here’s a very interesting (and somewhat disturbing) article on High Fructose Corn Syrup everyone should read.

PPS.  This entry was originally published on March 24, 2009.  I have since discovered that Cadbury Creme Eggs contain HFCS and am in mourning.  I republished because this because it is one of the most continually popular blog posts on here because of the maze.  Also, I just love that colorful egg graphic.

Skinny Bitch

I just finished this one and I have to say it was not what I expected, not at all. It would have helped if I had read the summary before starting it, of course, but then I might not have read it at all.

From “About the Book:”
Not your typical boring diet book, this is a tart-tongued, no-holds-barred wakeup call to all women who want to be thin. With such blunt advice as, “Soda is liquid Satan” and “You are a total moron if you think the Atkins Diet will make you thin,” it’s a rallying cry for all savvy women to start eating healthy and looking radiant. Unlike standard diet books, it actually makes the reader laugh out loud with its truthful, smart-mouthed revelations. Behind all the attitude, however, there’s solid guidance. Skinny Bitch espouses a healthful lifestyle that promotes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and encourages women to get excited about feeling “clean and pure and energized.

From Barnes & Noble:
The frank, “get real” approach of this diet book may be just right for those who have tried and tried without success to lose weight and keep it off. As the title indicates, the language is salty as Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin tell readers just what they must get rid of in their everyday eating: sugar first, followed by meat and dairy. Freedman and Barnouin recommend a vegan lifestyle, and tell why, and then offer more than 75 recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacking. They help readers break through the mental denial about bad food habits, and offer responsible and fun food choices without denying cravings and appetite.
A lot of the book makes a lot of sense, no doubt. Soda, is, in fact Satan. High Fructose Corn Syrup needs to be eliminated. “Low Fat” does not equal “healthy.” And a lot of this we already know, but don’t really want to think about.

The book makes a very strong call for veganism and it is at the core of their “method.” I don’t have any intentions on becoming vegan, but I might if it were more practical…and tastier. I’m not married to meat, but I can’t say I don’t enjoy it. The book goes into detail about why, ethically and environmentally, consuming animal products is bad for us and bad for the planet. They have a very good case. A slam dunk, actually. I can’t disagree with a lot of their reasoning and yet I eat meat.
Why? I think humans are omnivores to begin with and that animal products are beneficial to the diet, but while they may be tasty, I recognize that they aren’t essential to the human diet. Eliminating animal products because of the contamination and cruelty concerns outweighs the tasty factor for many. It should definitely be a bigger concern for the rest of us, even those that do indulge in a yummy carcass now and then.
And dairy. I’m not a big cheese eater, but I do like skim milk. Pizza. Yogurt. The book wants you to drop it all like a hot potato. And reading through it, they have some very valid points. Why do we stop nursing our children, only to put them on the milk of another species? Why do we not question the chemical contamination in milk and even organic milk? Why does the dairy industry have such a foothold in US nutrition policy? The answers may disturb you. Not enough to put down your slice of cheesecake, perhaps, but it is good to be mindful of the politics in play when dealing with food policy and cultural norms.
Their first hurdle they’d like you to jump over is sugar. Sugar in any form, but primarily in standard table sugar that has been stripped of any nutrients and HFCS which is chemically altered to your detriment. And I agree. Sugar is like crack – we’ve all said it, but it turns out it’s true.
According to a recent study:
Hoebel and his team also have found that a chemical known as dopamine is released in a region of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens when hungry rats drink a sugar solution. This chemical signal is thought to trigger motivation and, eventually with repetition, addiction.

The researchers conducted the studies by restricting rats of their food while the rats slept and for four hours after waking. “It’s a little bit like missing breakfast,” Hoebel said. “As a result, they quickly eat some chow and drink a lot of sugar water.” And, he added, “That’s what is called binge eating — when you eat a lot all at once — in this case they are binging on a 10 percent sucrose solution, which is like a soft drink.”
Hungry rats that binge on sugar provoke a surge of dopamine in their brains. After a month, the structure of the brains of these rats adapts to increased dopamine levels, showing fewer of a certain type of dopamine receptor than they used to have and more opioid receptors. These dopamine and opioid systems are involved in motivation and reward, systems that control wanting and liking something. Similar changes also are seen in the brains of rats on cocaine and heroin.
In experiments, the researchers have been able to induce signs of withdrawal in the lab animals by taking away their sugar supply. The rats’ brain levels of dopamine dropped and, as a result, they exhibited anxiety as a sign of withdrawal. The rats’ teeth chattered, and the creatures were unwilling to venture forth into the open arm of their maze, preferring to stay in a tunnel area. Normally rats like to explore their environment, but the rats in sugar withdrawal were too anxious to explore.

Scary, huh? So I’ve been on the wagon as far as sugar is concerned. No candy, no chocolate, no soda. I did eat a few broccoli cookies, but they were whole wheat, so I gave them a pass in a weak moment. And it feels pretty good. It’s been over a week…lets see how long I can keep this up.

The premise of the book is simple, eat organic, fresh, plant-based foods and you will be thinner, healthier, and happier. Some of their claims and expectations may be a little over the top, but it’s fair to say that it’s extremely difficult to become obese on a plant only, sugar-free, diet. I don’t know – maybe we should all try it. If I were single with no children I probably would, but it’s unlikely at this point in the game.

However I can do the following

~ Eliminate refined sugars.

~ Eliminate HFCS – we already do this.
~ Eliminate refined flours – nothing that isn’t whole wheat or whole grain (except tortillas, because whole wheat tortillas taste like ass). We do this in large part, but could be more vigilant.
~ Eliminate artificial chemicals and flavors – I do try, but they sneak in. I do not buy anything with MSG, for example.
~ Buy Organic. This requires work, and money. We have limited availability for organic produce, but we should probably buy more of what is available.
~ Reduce dairy. I have actually cut milk out entirely while nursing Babybeast, since she had tummy issues, but I’m back on it. It wouldn’t hurt to cut back, though.
~ Increase use of plant-based proteins, like lentils, beans, whole grains, etc.
~ Eat more fruit and veg. I like it, but I forget to eat it sometimes. The kids eat tons, of course. Mommy should follow suit.

So as far as the book goes, I’ve been reading about a plan I will never fully implement, but which has inspired me to make a few smaller changes and to be more thoughtful about food sources and ingredients. And it was funny. And short and easy to read. If curse words offend you, though, then it’s probably not the book for you.

Also on my list to read are Real Food by Nina Planck and The Omnivore’s Dilemma which come highly recommended to me by my friend Jenny at The Nourished Kitchen and Jon Stewart respectively. Look for reviews to come.

High Fructose Corn Syrup, Now with Tasty Mercury!

High Fructose Corn Syrup creeps me out. This is nothing new – once I became aware of it about four years ago, I started eliminating it from our family’s kitchen. It still sneaks in sometimes
when I forget to read labels, but for the most part we are HFCS-free

I wonder how much we consumed before I stopped buying products with it, though? Pounds and pounds of it, I am certain, since its use is pervasive. HFCS can be found in bread, sweetened drinks, granola bars, most sauces like barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce, and ketchup, cereal, crackers, canned soups, and yogurt. The list goes on – in fact it’s easier to list the things it’s not in.

The HFCS manufacturers, courtesy of promotional ads by the Corn Refiners Association, would like you to think that it’s harmless stuff, that it’s “made from corn,” that it “doesn’t have artificial ingredients” “has the same calories as sugar or honey” “is nutritionally the same as sugar”, and “is fine in moderation.” Unfortunately, that’s just not true.

For starters, here is a description of how it is made. Tasty, no?

Why not use real sugar, you ask? Because sugar tariffs and corn subsidies converge to make HFCS a bargain ingredient and table sugar (sucrose) much less attractive in terms of product profitability. It’s all about the bottom line – nothing more, nothing less.

HFCS is linked to obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and more.

And it is used in products primarily marketed to our children.

And so I turn on my computer today and see that HFCS has made the news again. Somewhat (ok, extremely) disturbingly, it appears that there are two basic grades of HFCS. The kind with mercury in it and the kind without. Presumably the kind with mercury is cheaper. Which do you think is used in foods marketed at young children and families such as Quaker, Hunt’s, Manwich, Hershey’s, Smucker’s, Kraft, Nutri-Grain, and Yoplait?

Yes, folks, if you have HFCS in your home, you have probably been noshing on mercury tainted foods. And so have your children.

For the full article, please click HERE.

Please contact the makers of foods that use HFCS (via the 1-800 number on the packaging) and tell them you do not intend to purchase their product until they cease using high fructose corn syrup. And then follow through with your promise not to purchase them – there are many products that are HFCS free, you just have to look for them. And today would be an excellent time to start.

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