December 29, 2007

Just got back from Italy

I just got back from 10 days in Italy, and for the first time I ate in the homes of Italians...real Italians. And, of course, we ate in many great Italian restaurants.

I'll spend some time later telling you about all the meals and my observations, but the first thing I must mention is AutoGrill.

It's fast and it's food on the highway. But it's nothing like American fast food.

Imagine going into a great gourmet Italian sausage and cheese shoppe. And there you also find wine, bread, salads and soups, steaming hot foods and of course, fresh pasta. Sandwiches and espresso. Lots of espresso. But it's not on Fifth Avenue, or even Arthur Avenue. It's not on Rodeo Drive or on the Miracle Mile. It's on the truck-laden freeway (or autostrata, in Italian).

Since we drove nearly 1,000 miles, we had a lot of opportunities to gas up and eat up at AutoGrills, the truck and car stop along Italy's main highways. AutoGrill -- the world's biggest provider of food and beverages for travellers in the world -- is celebrating 30 years of great fast food.

Their business model proves you can have fresh pasta, paninis, grilled vegetables, antipasto and specialty foods, cheese, meats, beer and wine all in a fast food restaurant/shop. It's good and it's fresh and it's healthy.

Frank Bruni a year ago expressed my sentiments so well about the Autogrill:

It’s one of the many questions that keep flitting through my mind as I flit through Italy, eating and then eating some more.

Here are others: why do my American friends and I love the Autogrill so much? Why am I bummed when I’m on an Italian highway that isn’t a veritable autostrada and doesn’t have an official Autogrill, and why do I find myself stopping at the Autogrill more often than I need to stop for food and fuel?

The Autogrill is what Italy has in place of the oddball combination of fast food restaurants under one roof that we have at Jersey Turnpike rest stops. In that way the Autogrill isn’t a bad metaphor for differences between the Italian approach to food and the American approach. The Autogrill doesn’t throw a cacophony of options at you. It sticks with the tried and true: usually a bit of pizza and a bunch of panini, or sandwiches, that tend to showcase a few familiar and high-quality ingredients: prosciutto crudo, arugula, mozzarella, etc.
There's nothing like Autogrill pizza on the autostrada driving at 140 down to relatives in Basilicata. A little crisp dough. A touch of sun-kissed tomatoes. And a sliver of melted milky-white mozzarella. A bit of heaven in the cool dry mountains of the Potenza province.

Read what others have to say about the Autogrill.
I was a vegetarian when I was in Italy, and became completely obsessed with the Autogrill’s spinach pesto sandwiches. I still think about them. Unbelievably delicious.
  • — Posted by Kate

Related to the Italian approach to fast food, my wife and I had pizza and a simple salad at the Venice Airport food counter that in quality and freshness surpasses 90% of similar fare in so-called “real” restaurants here in the U.S.

— Posted by Fred

Autogrills rock!!!! I was in shock the first time I walked, bleary-eyed from the NY/Rome flight, into an Autogrill. And now I wish I could go to one right now!!!!

— Posted by Freddi


December 28, 2007

Ten Reasons to Buy Local Food

In the spirit of the New Year and those ubiquitous top ten lists, here's Pinch My Salt blogger, Nicole, Top Ten Reasons to Buy Local Food:

1. Local food tastes better — Food imported from far away is older, has traveled on trucks or planes, and sat in warehouses before it finally gets to you."


December 20, 2007

Congress tells the Bush administration to stop the false food claims

It's bad enough that this Bush administration is fighting every step of the way putting calorie information on menus. But it's reprehensible that three years ago it quietly allowed unscientific health claims on food products.

Congress finally has put a stop to this.

From CSPI:

WASHINGTON—The just-passed omnibus spending bill urges the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not to permit so-called “qualified health claims” for foods until a Government Accountability Office report on the controversial program is completed. The step, first approved by the House of Representatives last August, has prompted the FDA to announce today that it is commencing a scientific review of several health claims previously permitted by the agency. The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest welcomed the move.

Qualified health claims are often based on tenuous scientific evidence and are informally reviewed, but not officially approved by the FDA. They have triggered numerous misleading labels and advertisements ranging from claims about green tea and cancer to statements that adding almonds to desserts can reduce the risk of heart disease.

The FDA, since 1993, mandated that health claims be based on “significant scientific agreement” and required companies to obtain formal approval. However, under pressure from the Bush Administration and the food industry, the FDA reversed course in 2003 and began allowing food companies to make claims based on much weaker evidence.

A coalition of medical, health, and consumer groups including the American, Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, AARP, the American Dietetic Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Public Health Association, the Society for Nutrition Education, the American College of Preventive Medicine, Consumers Union, and the Alliance for Retired Americans urged Congress to take action.

December 19, 2007

Americans want smaller portions for the New Year

Every year Americans make New Year resolutions, especially about food, and eating less of it.

T.G.I. Friday's survey of food-related resolutions shows Americans want more vegetables, more fruits and less food on their plates.

How do we make it the norm, then, for restaurants to serve appropriate portions for appropriate prices (AP4AP!)?

One way is to skip national fast food chains and visit your local town's restaurant. Then tell them you want a smaller portions at the appetizer price, and keep visiting those restaurants as long as they listen.

We are going to change America, one meal at a time.

T.G.I. Friday's Restaurants Releases 2008 'Food-Related Resolutions' Survey Results: "CARROLLTON, Texas, Dec. 19 -- According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of T.G.I. Friday's restaurants, fifty-six percent of U.S. adults plan to make food-related New Year's resolutions for 2008 and seventy-one percent feel having a variety of smaller portion entrees when dining out would make it easier to keep those resolutions.

The top three food-related 2008 New Year's resolutions among those who plan to make them are eat more vegetables (51%), eat more fruits (49%) and eat smaller portions (47%).

'The survey results make it clear smaller portions can help Americans keep their resolutions,' said Mike Archer, president and chief operating officer of T.G.I. Friday's 'T.G.I. Friday's Right Portion, Right Price menu addresses this holistically and provides big, bold flavors in a variety of portion sizes all day, every day.'

In a separate survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of T.G.I. Friday's, eighty-two percent of U.S. adults find it challenging to watch how much they eat when dining out. In addition, eighty-two percent would prefer to dine at a restaurant that offered entrees in various portion sizes."

December 18, 2007

Beef is not cool

The Cattle Network - Connecting The Beef Industry Worldwide reports that American restaurant chefs are moving away from fat-laden beef. More than 2/3 of all chefs surveyed said beef is not a "hot" food.

Small portions, however, are hot. And that's good news for American waistlines. Alternatives fatty foods are also hot.

Let's hope the trend continues.

The hottest trends on restaurant menus include small plate entrees, grass-fed and free-range items and alternative red meats and game, according to a survey of more than 1,000 professional chefs. The National Restaurant Association's 'What's Hot What's Not' survey, conducted in October, asked 1,282 chefs to rate 194 foods, beverages, cuisines and preparation methods as 'hot,' 'cool/passé' or 'perennial favorites.' Topping the list for entrees and main dishes were small plate/tapas/mezze style servings, which 73 percent of participants rated as 'hot'.

Over half the chefs polled also put grass-fed items, free-range items and alternative red meats and game animals such as buffalo, ostrich, venison and emu on the hot list. The chefs also gave the nod to preparations that incorporate ethnic cuisines, flavors and ingredients.

Only 33 percent of chefs surveyed rated beef as hot, but 55 percent rated it as a perennial favorite. Similarly, 30 percent rated pork as hot, with 46 percent calling it a perennial favorite. "

December 14, 2007

Obesity is just a liberal media myth

Sometimes I wish political conservatives got their wishes, and we all could go back to bowing to the King of England, sipping tea and sending our tax pounds back to London.

I didn't think it took a rocket scientist to know that obesity is increasing in America.

But, the conservative do-nothings, say "whoa, it's a liberal media myth. Fast foods shouldn't be regulated. We don't need 'obese' government."
On Sunday’s CBS '60 Minutes,' anchor Lesley Stahl began a segment on calorie labeling for fast food by making this alarmist proclamation: 'Obesity rates continue to spiral out of control in this country and nutritionists say one main reason is how dependent we've become on eating out.' Enter the big government hero: Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden is in charge of regulating New York City's $11 billion restaurant market...the chains are up against a formidable foe, because Frieden has a record of making big industry bend to his will. He's the one who forced smoking out of city bars and artery-clogging trans fats out of city restaurants. Both those bans spread nationwide, which is also happening with his new crusade. Frieden’s latest 'crusade' is to force big fast food chains nationwide to label the calories of all of their products, which were exempt from doing so. As Stahl explained, 'Now, one of the most powerful health officials in the country wants to change that by forcing chain restaurants like McDonald's and Wendy's to spell out exactly how fattening their food is right"

In addition to Stahl's depiction of obesity as being "out of control," both her and Frieden depicted the average consumers as morons.

Frieden condescendingly remarked that, "You might think that tuna salad, because it says it's salad, is healthier." Stahl later introduced Cornell Professor Brian Wansink, a marketing and nutritional expert, who studied mall food courts to monitor people’s calorie consumption from fast food. Stahl summed it up in this way: "He uses the mall as a laboratory, observing the food-court crowd like other scientists study rare tribes." She followed by mentioning that Wansink was also the author of "Mindless Eating."

If people really are this dumb, it would make sense to have the government take control.

Apparently, conservatives are extremely dumb. Most people -- conservatives and liberals -- cannot figure out how many calories are in the meal. Frieden just wants restaurants to post those figures on the menu.

But conservatives don't want you to know the truth. Conservatives never expose safety issues. Conservatives never bring to light financial irregularities. Conservatives never proactively protect our children.

Let me ask you: who would you trust with your food, water and medicine? An industrial conservative insider, or a big-spend government liberal.

To save our children, I'm rooting for the liberal.

December 7, 2007

NY Times says BIG dishes are dead

In Wednesday's New York Times, Kim Severson, chronicles for the non-readers of this blog, the demise of large, caloric-laden entrees: Is the Entree Heading for Extinction?

THE entree, long the undisputed centerpiece of an American restaurant meal, is dead.

O.K., so maybe it’s not quite time to write the entree’s obituary. But in many major dining cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago, the main course is under attack.

Although the entree’s ills were first diagnosed in the late 1990s, when the rise of small plates kicked off the tapafication of American menus, the attacks have become more serious lately.

Upstarts like the snack menu, with its little offerings of polpettine and deviled eggs, are encroaching from the flank. Crudi, salumi plates and cheese boards have piled on. The appetizer, once a loyal lieutenant, is demanding more attention on menus. Side dishes and salads, fortified by seasonal ingredients and innovative preparations, are announcing their presence with new authority.

But the gravest threat may be the dining public, which seems to have lost interest in big, protein-laden main dishes.

Most restaurants still offer gut-busting large portions, but a small ripple can become a tsunami.

Next time you are dining out, order an appetizer and a side dish or salad. Even go hog-wild and split a dessert. I willing to bet your hunger will be satisfied, you'll feel better and even your wallet will appreciate it.

December 5, 2007

Obesity now kills more than all cancers

More and more data keeps coming in telling us all that obesity is a killer. A big killer.

NBC Nightly News reports that for the first time since the Civil War, Americans lifespan will decline because of obesity. And it's obesity in our youths -- every one in three youngsters are overweight -- that will drive up health care, insurance rates and lead to even more disease in America.

Today, about a third of U.S. youngsters are either overweight or obese. Increasing numbers of obese children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, bad cholesterol and other obesity complications that were seldom seen in children before. Some of those complications are risk factors for heart disease, which could explain the link between childhood weight and a higher risk of heart disease, the Danish researchers suggest. Or it could be because many heavy children — although not all — become heavy adults, they said.
We must do something about this killer.

I'm starting Fast Food Independence Day this July 4, 2008. For one day, to dramatize this issue, I urge every American to skip fast food. Tell me if you can support this moment.

November 28, 2007

Oversized Portions? Blame the Chef

The NY Times blog, Well by Tara Parker-Pope, reports:
Researchers at Clemson University recently surveyed 300 chefs about what goes into their decisions about portion sizes and the food they serve diners. The study, published in the August issue of Obesity, found big differences between what chefs consider a regular portion compared to the standard serving sizes dictated by the United States Department of Agriculture. When chefs were asked to estimate a typical portion size of penne pasta served in their restaurant, for instance, half of the chefs suggested portions that are six to eight times larger than the U.S.D.A.’s standard 1-ounce serving. Nearly half the chefs said they normally serve 12-ounce steaks in their restaurants, although the U.S.D.A. says daily meat intake shouldn’t exceed 5.5 ounces.
You don't need the NY Times or the magazine, Obesity, to tell you that restaurants serve too big of portions. What we need is some way to stop them. How would you get restaurants to serve smaller portions at appropriate prices?

October 21, 2007

Enjoy your food (the RightWay)

It's not about dieting, it's about enjoying -
"( -- As a trained chef, restaurant owner, healthy-cookbook author, and confirmed food lover, I absolutely refuse to let the word diet hijack my life -- and I don't think you should, either. Smart eating is not about settling for less; it's about heaping more good stuff on your plate." more...
This has been my life for the past 14 months. Less food and a lot more joy. I know it's hard to believe but each meal is a celebration of life. This week's meals have included french green beans with pignoli, spinach brownies, tiger shrimp, turkey burgers, roasted carrots and zucchini, homemade whole wheat banana muffins (with sugar substitute), beautiful tomatoes with mozzarella and my garden-grown basil, and mushroom and egg white omelets. Buon Appetito!

Seeing stars in a cafeteria?

Rudd Sound Bites: Nutrition Sells:
"An article in The New York Times last month reported on a grocery store chain in Maine, The Hannaford Company, that over a year-long period let consumers know which products were more (or less) healthy by placing “stars” next to them. The healthiest products (those lowest in saturated and trans fats, those that contained whole grains, were low in added sugars, high in fiber, etc.) received up to 3 stars while less healthy products received anywhere between 0 and 2 stars.

Would implementing a similar type of “star” rating in company cafeterias also have this kind of beneficial effect? I imagine that there’s a company somewhere that has already done this, but I’d be really interested to see whether it was effective." more...

10 ways to lose weight without hunger | Dr Briffa's Blog

Dr Briffa's Blog:
"Eat fewer calories than you burn’ has been the weight loss mantra for decades now. The problem is, cutting back on food and taking more exercise almost inevitably makes people hungry, which can make changes quite unsustainable in the long term. In this article, I offer some practical solutions to this, by outlining several approaches that can help put the body in ‘caloric deficit’ and promote weight loss without the need to go hungry." more tips...
I'm don't agree with tip #1, because I know reducing calories is the only sure way to lose weight. But the rest of his blog makes sense.

A blogger asks: Should Fat People Be Allowed To Eat at Buffets?

The blogger Cheobu asks?
"Should Fat People Be Allowed To Eat at Buffets? Last Friday, I went for a buffet dinner at Hilton Hotel (Read my food review) and I saw this really fat guy making his rounds taking food. Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against fat or obese people, and I understand some of them are like that due to hormonal or medical problems. However, I somehow think it is not 'right' for somebody of that size eating at buffets. Why? Because firstly, it fuels greed and secondly, it's really unhealthy to be eating so much when you are already that fat whatever the cause of your obesity might be. This guy that I saw, is REALLY huge." more...

Your stomach says: Don't overload me!

From the Iowa City
"For four days next week, University of Iowa students who dine at Burge or Hillcrest Hall Market Places will be encouraged to do something they probably haven't been asked to do since leaving home: clean their plates. From Tuesday to Friday, students can join the Clean Your Plate Club at tables near the dining facilities' entrances. In exchange for a club button, students pledge to select only as much food as they're likely to finish so that little of it -- and ideally none -- winds up in the trash. The button features a smiling plate in the middle of a tray and the words, "Don't overload me! more..."

October 15, 2007

Another lousy invention by a fast food company

Hardee's rolled out its new Country Breakfast Burrito -- two egg omelets filled with bacon, sausage, diced ham, cheddar cheese, hash browns and sausage gravy, all wrapped inside a flour tortilla. It's guaranteed to quench your appetite and maybe your life.

The burrito contains 920 calories and 60 grams of fat.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocate for nutrition and health, has called the Hardee's line of Thickburgers "food porn."

The group's senior nutritionist, Jayne Hurley, said the burrito was "another lousy invention by a fast-food company."

The "country breakfast bomb," as she called it, represents half a day's calories and a full day's worth of saturated fat and salt, to say nothing of cholesterol.

"That's all before 10 o'clock in the morning," she said.

Even Hardees' chicken salad -- topped with onion rings and crispy chicken -- has 1,100 calories and 83 grams of fat.

Hardee's makes no apologies.

"We don't try to hide what these are," a spokesperson said. "When consumers go to other fast-food places they feel like they've got to buy two of their breakfast sandwiches or burritos to fill up. This is really designed to fill you up."

October 7, 2007

Best Fast Food or Worst?

In the annual Citysearch Poll of 2007, Hardee's was voted best fast food in 13 cities.
People really love Hardee's and its Thickburgers(TM). According to's annual 'Best of' poll, Hardee's was voted the no. 1 fast food restaurant by voters in 13 cities, including: Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Louisville, Tenn.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Nashville, Tenn.; Norfolk, Va.; Orlando, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; St. Louis; and Tampa. In addition, Hardee's Thickburgers were voted 'Best Burger' in Atlanta, Jacksonville, Louisville, Minneapolis and Kansas City, Mo. Read more at Hardee's Franchise News.
Now take a look at those states and look at that state's obesity rates. You don't need to be a research scientist to see a relationship. You don't see Colorado, Massachusetts or Connecticut on the "best burger" -- or is it worst burger for you -- list.

Just for the record, the average Thickburger will make you thicker by 850 calories. If you are a man trying to lose any weight, then that's half your calories for the day. If you are a women one Thickburger means you need to walk for 10 miles or else you'll be adding thickness to your thighs.

Everyone talks about moderation. Just eat in moderation, says the CEO of Hardees. The problem with this "best food" is: there is no moderation. The burger by definition is extreme. If you have this sandwich, it's nearly impossible not to overeat and nearly impossible to exercise it off. Stay away from this "best food", it can't be good for you.
"We think it's great that people recognized both Hardee's as best fast food and our Thickburgers as their favorite hamburger,' said Brad Haley, Hardee's executive vice president of marketing. 'Our thick, juicy, Angus beef Thickburgers have won a number of 'best hamburger' competitions across the country, and it's no surprise since we set out to make the best burgers we could."
Did they set out to make Americans unhealthy as well?

October 4, 2007

US restaurant should offer European portions

Justine Lescroart writes in The Harvard Crimson about the differences between American restaurants and European eateries. I'll give you a hint, it's a giant indictment of America's huge appetite.
Granada, Spain -- In the U.S., an average can of Coca-Cola (or at least the one in my fridge at home) contains 355 ml of soda. Cans in Spain (or at least the ones in my fridge here) hold only 200 ml. At home, Cold Stone Creamery’s “small” portions of ice cream are five ounces. In Spanish gelato shops, a 2.5 ounce scoop is the norm. By American standards, European food portions are tiny, but living abroad, I’ve come to see things in a different light. In reality, American portion sizes are huge, not to mention that they contribute to a national obesity epidemic and they flat-out waste food. The rest of the world’s food suppliers manage to provide reasonably-sized portions. Why can’t we?

Thanks to smaller portion sizes, European citizens eat healthy, “diet-sized” servings without feeling like they’re depriving themselves. Americans should be able to do the same. When food suppliers offer small, high-quality amounts of food with the right marketing scheme, it’s a win-win situation: customers drop weight, and restaurateurs pick up a profit.


October 3, 2007

Senate debating what you will eat

The Senate is debating the 2007 Food and Farm Bill this month. And what you eat and pay for food hangs in the balance. You think -- because you aren't a farmer -- that the "farm bill" doesn't affect you. But you are wrong.

Even though the USDA and nutritionists want Americans to eat less fat, less sugar and more fruits and vegetables, your governments pours billions of dollars into livestock and sugar and very little into vegetables. Why is it that it costs just an extra buck for another hamburger or a another quarter for a supersized drink, but there's no break when you buy three apples or broccoli and carrots?

Could it be the billions of dollars our government gives to the corporate farmer for growing cattle over cauliflower?

For the past 20 years our government has had a a policy that values corporate interests over the health of the American people.

Call your Senator today and tell him or her you want a bill that promotes health, not obesity.

October 1, 2007

McSubway project: Virtuous diners eat more

When you go to Subway and order the lite turkey sub with no mayonnaise and no cheese, do you, then, reward yourself and munch down on chips and cookies as well?

If you do, you are not alone. And that's trouble.

In today's, Brain Wansink says, "There's a health halo that surrounds a lot of the foods at restaurants like Subway that leads people to overeat on side dishes and grossly underestimate the number of calories they consume."

The director of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, N.Y created the 'McSubway Project,' a series of studies that examine the habits of fast-food customers. Much of the research compares foods at McDonald's and Subway, which advertises that it has more healthful options.

What he found was diners significantly underestimate the calories at Subway and McDonald's, but underestimate much more at Subway.

Though Subway has a health halo, "there's also a health shadow that's cast on McDonald's. People know what they are eating may be indulgent, so they come much closer to estimating the right number of calories," says Wansink, the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.

People who consumed about 1,327 calories at a meal underestimated the calories by an average of 484 at McDonald's and 681 at Subway.

"There's a double curse to the health halo because you grossly underestimate the calories, and you overeat afterward because you think you deserve it," Wansink says.

Without help, diners cannot figure out how many calories they are eating and what's good for them. One alternative is not to eat at Subway or McDonald's. But a better way would be to figure out how to help Americans eat appropriately at restaurants. Starting with better choices, clear, posted information, and a government-led program to make the dining experience healthier. What to we have to lose?

September 29, 2007

Football and food: In the RightSize

Jesse Chatman tells Sports Illustrated this week how a weakness for Mexican food and anything fried nearly derailed his NFL career. After an injury Chatman ballooned from 220 to 283 pounds. Then he started exercising -- but even a NFL regiment -- couldn't get him to his playing weight.

To shed those 60 pounds, Chatman changed his diet.

He now eats egg whites with mushrooms in the morning, spinach salad with chicken at lunch and salmon with oregano and lemon at night.

By skipping the fast food restaurants, Chatman made the Miami Dolphins roster.

Goes to show you that eating the RightSize is one way to be healthy and to be an NFL player!

September 26, 2007

Wait staff: what's your best and worst restaurant stories?

I thought I would use the power of the blog, to ask all wait staff their favorite restaurant story. We always hear about what goes on in the kitchen with the chefs, but now it's your turn to tell us about the food you bring to the customers.

And what about those customers? Are overweight people a pleasure or a pain to serve? From your vantage point to people overeat? Do restaurants overserve? Is the special of the day really special? And can you survive on those tips?

Let us know with your comments. Thanks.

September 22, 2007

What to look for when dining out

Lately I have been talking a lot about the bad things at a restaurant. But we all eat out, several times a week or even several times a day.

Last night I had cioppino at my favorite Italian restaurant Lucia in New Milford. The seafood was simply prepared in a little wine and lemon sauce. My wife enjoyed veal and asked for broccoli rabe on the side. A little wine, a little espresso and, later, at home, a little limoncello, made eating out, a dining-out pleasure.

So how do you find these restaurant gems hidden in a sea of unhealthy meat markets? What are the clues that waffed into your senses as you walk into a restaurant?

Karla Cook of the International Herald Tribune talked to restaurateurs and drew upon her experience as a restaurant critic to offer sage advice.

First. as you are waiting for a table or just opening the menu, spy on your neighbor. Did the chef take his time with the side dishes?
"Look over your neighbor's shoulder," says Betty Fussell, an author living in New York. "It's good to know the size of the portions. And check out the joint, to see what other people are eating.' Are vegetables, whole grains and fruits and vegetables commanding half the plate, or are green beans a garnish? Is there too much rice? Is sauce lapping over the sides of the platter? Is there, as Rodgers disdainly describes it, 'excess for the sake of excess?'"

"The value of my dollar isn't based on how much food is on my plate," he said. "It's based on the dish itself and the quality of ingredients, the flavors and the overall dining experience."

Next, look for menu clues: light, fresh and sustainable. A small and simple menu is probably a great indication of a kitchen that changes with the season and keeps less perishable food lying around.

A promising sign on a printed menu is provenance plus preparation, like "grilled Barnegat Light scallops," with a description of "New Jersey dandelion, guanciale, celery," at Blue.

The item and its ingredients seem to indicate an interest in buying local, in perhaps paying more for it, and, possibly care to make the most of the ingredients. I ordered it, and was right.

Watch out for foods that are out of season. Where did those peaches and tomatoes come from in December?

On the other hand, peaches and tomatoes on the menu in winter should raise an eyebrow, says Nils Norén, vice president of culinary arts at the French Culinary Institute in New York.

Specials can indicate either too much inventory or a chef's treasure, with price as a rough guideline. "If it's really inexpensive, or looks like a great deal, it might be too good of a deal," says Noren.

And always custom order for yourself. Substitute broccoli rabe for French fries.

Finally, no menu should say "freshly made" or "grilled to perfection". Isn't that what you're paying for?
Buon appetito!

September 21, 2007

Money Funds America’s Killer Diet

CNN this weekend tackles America's Killer Diet: Fed Up: America’s Killer Diet.

It's probably an eye-opening special, but by the stories on the web and the thrust of the headlines, CNN only tackles the symptoms of America's obesity problem.

The best part is the title: food in America is a killer.

But it's a killer with a lot of money behind it.

Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, said, the federal food policy is making, and keeping, people fat.

He was interviewed by the Hartford Courant and his views coincide with my experience.

If you don't change food policy, people will keep getting fatter and sicker, and no diet or exercise program in the world will change that, Brownell said.

His advocacy of sweeping policy change, such as his promotion of the so-called Twinkie tax on junk food - and his own substantial girth - has made him an object of derision to conservative critics who say weight is purely a matter of personal responsibility.

His conclusions have been at the center of a growing national debate over food - from whether trans fats should be served in restaurants to snack food in schools. Brownell believes the chief culprit is the trillion-dollar food industry, which Brownell said has stayed profitable through massive advertising campaigns to get people to eat more calories than they need.

The evidence is everywhere, Brownell said, from super-size fast food meals to jumbo Coca-Colas. As portion sizes ballooned, so did waistlines of people who exercised less and less over the years.

Meanwhile, the government has fueled the obesity epidemic by granting subsidies to farmers that helped create cheap feed for cows, greasy oils and sweeteners to create countless empty calories in our diets, he said.

Food economics make it cheaper to buy a Happy Meal than a salad. Why is it, he said, that you get a price break the bigger the fries or soft drink you order, but there is no break when you buy six apples instead of three?

Why not create food subsidies for apples, oranges or broccoli instead of corn?
As they said in "All the President's Men": follow the money! Obesity isn't a problem with individual willpower. It's a problem with too much money for all the wrong foods. Let's demand cheaper healthy food and expensive junk food. In the end, it will all be cheaper and better for us and our children.

September 14, 2007

You may be too fat to go through the drive-thru is reporting that some car owners may be too fat for their cars (and tires).

The Mazda MX-5 Miata and Chevrolet (GM) Corvette, aren't certified to carry two 200-pound adults, according to a government formula aimed at tire safety.

Many five-passenger vehicles are rated about 850 pounds, maxxing out if their five occupants weigh more than 170 pounds each. Six 200-pounders would overload the seven-passenger Dodge Grand Caravan minivan."
Car weight limits are a big, fat problem
Automakers say the limits reflect a mandated federal formula that requires them to rate passengers at 150 pounds each. The limit may not be realistic "given American propensity for food, but that is the regulation," says Mazda safety director Dan Ryan.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says automakers can set the weight limit at whatever they deem appropriate.

In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control pegged average weights at 190 pounds for men, 163 for women.

David Champion, Consumer Reports head of auto testing, says automakers aren't building cars that can stand up to loads of bigger passengers. A family car "should be capable of carrying five reasonably sized people, not five midgets.
Sounds like one part of the government is not talking to the other part. The Federal government reports 66% of Americans are overweight or obese. I don't think those tires are going to last long; not as long as Americans keep going through the fast-food drive thru.

September 12, 2007

The revolution has started

If McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Jack-in-the-Box, et. al. won't control themselves; and we know Americans can't control themselves, at least in California, the law will control fast food.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting officials are considering "health zoning": prohibiting new fast-food restaurants in certain all of South L.A.

"The people don't want them, but when they don't have any other options, they may gravitate to what's there," said Councilwoman Jan Perry, who proposed the ordinance in June, and whose district includes portions of South L.A. that would be affected by the plan.

In just one-quarter of a mile near USC on Figueroa Street, from Adams Boulevard south, there are about 20 fast-food outlets.

"To be honest, it's all we eat," Rey Merlan said one recent lunch hour at a Kentucky Fried Chicken. "Everywhere, it's fast food everywhere."

The L.A. Times study found South Los Angeles with the highest concentration of fast food restaurants, and fewer grocery stores than the rest of the city.

And of course the next statistic is no accident. Thirty percent of adults in South L.A. are obese, compared with 20.9% in the county overall, according to a county Department of Public Health study released in April.

For children, the obesity rate was 29% in South L.A., compared with 23.3% in the county.
"While limiting fast-food restaurants isn't a solution in itself, it's an important piece of the puzzle," said Mark Vallianatos, director of the Center for Food and Justice at Occidental College.
But it's a start.

Other cities including Concord, Mass. are starting a new revolution by banning fast-food restaurants in certain districts.

The first shot heard round the world was just fired.

September 11, 2007

What a concept! Schools teach and serve healthier foods

It's been almost 400 years since Harvard University was founded.

And today the Boston Globe reports that for the first time healthy eating is being taught in the "Hub of the Universe".

Boston City Schools have hired a chef to train cafeteria managers across the public school system how to make their food healthier and more attractive. He started serving food last week.

"I think this chef's program will get kids to change their eating habits," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "What we're trying to do is make sure they're educated about what to eat."

Almost half the children in Boston's public schools are overweight and many are obese. At the Frederick school, 41 percent are obese; at the chef's other pilot school, the Mario Umana Middle School Academy in East Boston, 52 percent are obese and 17 percent are at risk of diabetes, according to school officials.

more at: The Boston Globe: Schools hope chef's touch whets cafeteria appetite.

It's about time (and health).

September 10, 2007

FDA might get it half-way right

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration took the first step toward new food labeling, inviting food companies, trade groups, watchdog organizations, medical experts and its overseas counterparts to share how front-label symbols, like the 'traffic light' system used in Britain, can improve public health.

Last January, I told you England has easy to understand symbols, pointing out the RightSize of fat, salt and sugar.

I suggested then that this only covers about 60 percent of the food we eat. The other 40 percent is eaten away from the home and we still don't have any way of figuring out the calories, the fats, the salt or the sugar in our restaurant meals.

How much fatter do our children have to get before we take action? How much fatter do we have to get before we take action?

Let pressure our presidential candidates now to consider food labels on menus.

FDA Asks Groups to Consider Food Labels

WASHINGTON (AP) — Next month, General Mills Inc. and Kellogg Co. will begin emblazoning their breakfast cereals with symbols that summarize complex nutritional information — part of the growing use of logos to steer harried grocery shoppers toward healthier choices.

The proliferation of such symbols is a worldwide phenomenon, with government regulators in Britain, Sweden and elsewhere establishing logo systems that concisely indicate how nutritious food products are. In the United States, however, corporations have been left to devise their own schemes. That's led to a patchwork of systems that some fear further confuses consumers already unsure about how to eat wisely.

Here's the way my labeling would look at restaurants:

September 6, 2007

Chefs Share Their Secrets

I've told you about chefs that can turn healthy foods into fattening foods with too much butter or cream, but now Reader's Digest searched America to find chefs who are putting down the fats and still cooking good tasting food.
When Michael Wild prepared his savory chicken dish for eager diners 15 years ago, he'd start by reaching for butter and cream to prepare the sauce. Today, the owner/chef of Bay Wolf Restaurant in Oakland, Calif., poaches the chicken in stock, tops it with a mushroom-rich mustardy vinaigrette, and artfully arranges his creation on a bed of greens. The butter and cream rarely leave the refrigerator.

Susan Weaver, executive chef at Fifty Seven Fifty Seven, the restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York, builds flavor with vinegar, citrus fruits, mustard, spices, and herbs. That approach applies even to whipped mashed potatoes, a traditionally butter-rich member of the comfort-food family. "We puree the cooked potatoes with chicken stock and mustard, which gives a dense, rich flavor," she explains. "The creaminess comes from the potato itself. The taste is that of a luscious, fat-laden dish, but in fact there's no fat whatsoever."

It's chefs like these showing the rest of America it's possible to have good tasting, satisfying healthy restaurant meals.

They are the ones deserving our applause, and business. And fast food restaurants could be doing the same thing. There's not one reason for a salad to be 700 calories. A side order of potatoes doesn't have to be fried; it could be mashed with chicken stock.

As Chef Pierre LeBlanc of the Culinary Institute of America said : I look at low-fat cuisine as a challenge to creativity and a catalyst to healthier food that taste better.

All restaurant chefs take that challenge. I dare you.

September 2, 2007

Company charges extra for obesity

"If you're too heavy, then we are going to charge you more."

That's the message at least one company is telling its employees.

From "Like a growing number of companies, Clarian Health Partners has for a number of years had a program that rewards employees for getting healthy. But now, Clarian is telling its workers, it's time to shape up or pay up."

“For several years, we’ve had a reward program, where if you cease smoking and do a self-assessment, you receive a reduction in your [health care] premiums,” Clarian president and CEO Daniel Evans told TODAY co-host Matt Lauer on Friday. "[But] our health care costs were going up and our employees were not taking full advantage of the programs we had in place.”

To combat the problem, beginning in 2009 Clarian employees will be charged up to $30 every two weeks for failing to meet standards set by the company in a number of areas. That breaks down to $10 for a body mass index that’s too high, and $5 each for smoking, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

It's only a matter of time before all companies look to offset the increased costs of health care for obese employees. Now is the time for the restaurant industry to get in line with helping people to get fit, not the other way around.

September 1, 2007

Why are Missouri citizens so fat?

New men's belt size

Missouri has the 12th highest rate of adult obesity at 26.3 percent.


One reason might be restaurants and restaurant reviewers who revel in the ridiculously rich, roly-poly, wrong-sized portions of fat and calories.

Take Betha Whitlow from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a Pulitzer-prize winning newspaper. This is not some backwater village crier, but "what once was" a respected newspaper.

In her review of Billie's Fine Foods, she writes:
Dining: "My eating style typically leans toward small-portion grazing, but I got a thrill when my chicken fried steak with eggs, potatoes and a biscuit ($6.40) arrived on two large dinner plates, inspiring a 'She's a hungry one!' from our server. I forked into the steak, which was covered with velvety white gravy flecked with black pepper. The fried crust of the steak remained inexplicably light and crisp under its heavy gravy blanket, and the steak itself was piping hot and juicily tender. I also devoured my two perfectly cooked over-medium eggs, and fried potatoes that fell somewhere between hashed and cubed. While the larger potato pieces were a little soft, their mild flavor mingled beautifully with the smaller bits, which had a caramelized brown patina. The biscuit — a heavy slab sliced from a pan — was dense and buttery enough to make me forget about cholesterol for the moment."
First, it doesn't sound like Billie knows what fine food is. But why does the reviewer play up the most heart-attack-producing meal? Couldn't we have heard about something that approached fine foods?

I guess not. The reviewer concludes with:
... but we picked the plate clean as we reveled in our newfound gluttony.
Missouri is only the 12th fattest state. With restaurants and reviewers like that, look out Mississippi, they will be #1 in the nation soon.

August 31, 2007

Time for Congress to get off the couch

This is not a man-bites-dog story. This is expected, predicted and, tragically, the logically conclusion.

Obesity continues to rise in 31 states with no state showing a decline. Obesity rates rise in 31 states -

But the reaction is not what we expect from our leaders.

No one is standing up to the fast-food lobby, nor to the corporate farms and its subsidies, nor
to the cola companies. Everyone is taking this laying down.

What was President Bush's reaction to this updated survey by the Trust for America’s Health, a research group that focuses on disease prevention?

Nothing. Not one word. Reminds me of global warming. Keep denying it because it's not on the conservative Republican agenda.

As for the survey, the news is terrible for adults, especially for the South, where Mississippi has the most overweight citizens.

The report also finds that rates of overweight children (ages 10 to 17) ranged from a high of 22.8 percent in Washington, D.C. to a low of 8.5 percent in Utah. Eight of the ten states with the highest rates of overweight children were in the South.

In Connecticut the obesity rate is horrible for its youth: 37th highest rate of overweight youths.

In New York the youths are getting bigger by a New York Minute: 18th highest rate of overweight youths.

In Ohio the adults are not as small as buckeyes: Ohio has the 15th highest rate of adult obesity at 26.0 percent.

When will our representatives get off the couch and start exercising food leadership?

August 25, 2007

Steamed vegetables can be bad for you

At restaurants there's no nutritional label to read. There's no complete list of ingredients. There's no list of calories and carbs and especially FAT! exposes how -- even non-fast food -- restaurants can invisibly wreck your diet.

The sneaky ways restaurants wreck your diet:

"You may think you know what you’re doing when it comes to eating healthy while eating out at restaurants, but do you really? Do steamed veggies and egg white omelets sounds like healthy fare? considering they aren’t normally, at least not as much as you might think. Truth is restaurant food generally tastes as good as it does considering chefs and cooks have any number of tricks up their sleeves to add fat. Fat makes food taste great, sadly, and so they put it in and on everything. Besides steamed veggies (which are often coated in oil before and after steaming) and egg-white omelets (which are cooked in loads of oil in the skillet), other high-fat restaurant shockers"

August 22, 2007

Will fast foods stop 275 pounders?

Christian Hales of Salt Lake City wrote to the the editor of The Salt Lake Tribune with an unique suggestion.

Stop obese customers from entering Burger King if they weigh more than 275 pounds. He'd have the doors locked, bolted and shuttered.

Here's his letter. Food for thought?

Scaling back obesity
I am writing to voice my concern about obesity in this country and to suggest one possible solution. My proposal is that a scale system be set up at the major fast-food restaurants like Wendy's, Burger King, Dairy Queen and McDonald's. When customers approach the front doors, they walk over a scale that weighs them. The scale has been programmed not to let anyone over a certain weight pass through the doors. If anyone over, let's say 275 pounds, steps on the scale, the doors will lock, preventing their entry into the restaurant. If we as a country can find a way to limit the amount of fatty foods that the average American consumes, I believe our world will be a happier place.

August 21, 2007

Does The Cheesecake Factory cause cancer?

We all know too many calories and not enough exercise causes obesity in Americans. In previous blogs I pointed out that The Cheesecake Factory has some of the highest caloric portions of all the restaurants. Now the American Cancer Society points out that obesity is tied to an increased risk of several different types of cancers, such as breast cancer in post-menopausal women, as well as cancers of the colon, endometrium (uterus), esophagus and kidney.

It doesn't take a logic professor to tell you that it's possible The Cheesecake Factory causes cancer, the same way Philip Morris causes cancer. Of course The Cheesecake Factory will vehemently deny it, and talk about no cause-effect relationship and freedom of choice, but didn't the American tobacco companies do the same thing for the last 50 years.

ABC news has a great article written by Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. He's a doctor who's had his own battle with weight. Like I have said many times before, it's not easy to live in America and lose weight or even keep your weight appropriate.

The key is making the RightChoice every day of your life.

He writes:
I can sympathize with every one of you out there, especially the older folks, who find it so difficult to get on track and lose some weight. I, too, have had a lifelong battle with being overweight and obese.

After a significant health scare, I tried to go back to a healthier diet.

After about 18 months, more or less, I have been able to lose a bit over 30 pounds. It hasn't been easy, and the reality is that it takes constant attention.

I was once called "Mr. No Fun" by a server at a local waffle shop in north Georgia when I asked for an egg-white omelet, no cheese, no grits, no toast, and yes, please, some sliced tomatoes on the side.

August 19, 2007

Let's take the ham out of burger

That's absolutely no reason why burgers couldn't be healthy and the RightSize of calories, fats and carbs.

But restaurants -- especially, fast food restaurants -- need to turn those Golden frowning arches upside down into smiling healthy arches.

EatBetterAmerica has six smart, better burgers than the typical corn-laden beef burger.

You have to ask yourself, why can't each of these be a option at McDonald's, Wendy's or Burger King? (Could it be that Congress only subsidizes corn farmers?)

Next time you are out at your favorite restaurant try to order a turkey burger...or a soy, portobello, veggie or venison burger. The restaurant won't have it, but if we all keep asking for them, eventually we'll convince restaurants we want to be healthy.

EatBetter America in Branch Out with Burgers writes:

The aroma fills the neighborhood. And that distinctive sizzling sound can mean only one thing: It's grilling season. But while you're enjoying those burgers, be mindful to keep your meals healthy for your heart. 'A burger doesn't have to mean beef,' says Rachel Brandeis, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian with a private practice in Atlanta. 'By changing out ground beef, you can save on calories and cholesterol.' Meet These Grilling Greats Here are six heart-smart choices along with tips for better-tasting burgers.

Chicken and Turkey:
More supermarket space is now devoted to ground turkey and chicken. The trick is finding the lowest-fat versions to make burgers.
* Heart-healthy benefits: Some ground turkey breast can be 99% fat free. In addition, ground poultry breast can have fewer calories than a typical ground-beef burger.


August 18, 2007

Restaurant Critics: Part of the Problem?

Every day I read another restaurant review where the critic associates huge portions with a favorable review. This isn't like global warming or the big bang theory: There's no disagreement that large food portions are wrong for Americans. Avoiding the wrong size of calories and fat is the #1 way to avoid becoming obese.

Yet in every newspaper in America -- save a couple -- the restaurant reviewer falls into the lazy American slogan that bigger must be better. It must be good 'cause it's so damn big.

Just in one article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (I realize it will never win a Pulitzer; still it perpetuates the portion myth), the restaurant critic mentions -- not once, but twice -- in glowing terms "huge portions."

This longtime South Broward favorite continues to delight diners with dependable Indian food. Portions are huge and while fried dishes tend to be a bit soggy, the curries are very good and rice dishes, like biryani, are text book.

If you can live with the enormous portions and sometimes over-the-top conceptions (and Michael Blum's place is packed with fans who can), it's wonderful fun without any pretense to subtlety. Plum-glazed salmon, Asian ribs, turkey meatloaf and Yankee pot roast are all highly recommended.
Don't believe there's any connection. The University of Oregon reported: "Recent studies have shown that there is a higher rate of obesity among...who live in one of four Florida Counties: Broward, Duval, Palm Beach..." Of course the Sun-Sentinel covers Broward county.

But it's not just fat Florida where you find portion flattery.

Head just north of Florida for Atlanta and the Daily Report's restaurant critic -- who, obviously has never been to Italy -- loves the portions.

"Little Italy, lotta food" -- restaurant slogan
We chose the lasagna, which our capable waitress, Autumn, brought to our table within five minutes. It came piping hot with accompanying garlic bread. With just the right combination of pasta, meat and tomato sauce, the dish was larger than we could handle. “For the food and the volume that you get,” says D’Angelo, “you never leave here complaining. That’s where our slogan comes in. You literally get a lot of food. After 13 years, how could we start changing the portions?”
I have been to Italy...many times. Not once in the more than 100 meals did any restaurant approach "lotta food".

I could spend the rest of the day copying and pasting WrongSize restaurant reviews. But it's "hugely" clear that critics must change. It's irresponsible. It's like doctors promoting cigarette smoking. Oh, that's right. Doctors did promote smoking in the 40s and 50s. And it was irresponsible.

Stop the obesity obscenities in newspapers now. You can change the World (and Times and Herald), write your editor!

August 14, 2007

China recalls McDonald's

Which is worse: putting lead paint on toys and exposing a million children to potentially lead poisoning? Or, putting fat-laden french fries and hamburgers in the bellies of hundreds of million of children exposing them to potentially obesity, diabetes, heart disease and premature death?

Neither is a statistical certainty. No one has claimed -- yet -- their child has a learning disability from lead paint on a Mattel toy. No one has claimed -- yet -- that fast food has led to premature death for their child. In both cases people voluntarily bought the product. No one forced anyone to buy the toys or burgers. There's plenty of other options. Buyer beware, most Americans would say.

Americans demand certainty. It took nearly 100 years of proof before most Americans would accept that smoking causes cancer and premature death. We used lead paint for a 100 years before accepting that children sometimes chew on items with paint, and some children developed learning disabilities from that kind of paint. Even now the government doesn't require you to remove that lead paint around your window.

Americans have had fast food for just 50 years. And now we have an obesity problem. This blog is starting the 50-year countdown. I'm looking forward to the year 2067 when America recalls all fast food because everyone now agrees it causes obesity.

If Mattel recalled toys with lead, should China recall American fast food?

August 8, 2007

Iowa votes for unhealthy food

When you head to the Iowa State Fair, you've better bring your walking shoes, light comfortable clothes, but leave your healthy salad and water at home. Because the Iowa State Fair doesn't want any stinky, East Coast liberals with their tofu and sprout sandwiches. In fact, the reports no beverages, food or coolers may be brought into the fair. The exception is baby food. OK, your baby can eat healthy, lady. You can't.

The Iowa State University Cooperative Extension has estimated the calories of fair favorites.

- Cotton candy: 100 calories.

- Caramel apple: 200 calories.

- Chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick: 300 calories.

- Plain hamburger: 450 calories.

- Fried candy bar on a stick: 550 calories.

- 64-ounce soda: 800 calories.

- Fried turkey leg: 1,100 calories.

There are more than 220 foodstands at the fair with dozens of items. What healthy foods does the website suggest?

- Baked potato (278 calories with nothing on it)

- Corn on the cob (155 calories with butter)

- Salads (watch out for the dressings at sometimes 500 calories)

- Mixed fruit cups

- Shish kebabs (who knows what's in those)

- Veggie corn dog (Cotton candy might have less calories and taste better)

- Turkey tenderloins

- Pork chop on a stick (154 calories for 3 oz.)

That's it. A thousand food items in the breadbasket of the nation, at the show place for agriculture and food in America, and the website can find less than 10 healthy food items.

I'd suggest you'd bring your own food and water to the fair. But that's illegal in Iowa.

August 3, 2007

Eating at McDonald's means low paying job

If you eat at McDonald's in high school, that might be the only place you'll be qualified to work.

That's one conclusion I drew after reading Time Magazine's article, Overweight Kids: College Less Likely.
Using college enrollment as a measure of academic success, University of Texas at Austin sociologist Robert Crosnoe found that obese students had a worse experience at school than their thinner peers and were less likely to attend college, and that the effects of being overweight hurt girls far more than boys.

Recent research has shown that overweight youngsters are often teased, ostracized and isolated by their peers, and are sometimes treated differently by teachers and even parents. According to Crosnoe, children often internalize this negative social feedback — whether real or perceived — which can lead to alcohol and drug use, failure in school, truancy and suicidal thoughts. "They are just unhappy at school," he says, "and it does things to them in the present that have long-term consequences."
Seems to me this should be reason number 340,329 not to eat at McDonald's or other fast foods.

July 30, 2007

The 10 Greatest Advancements in FAST FOOD History

Erik Amonson and Lukas Kaiser tackle the question everyone should ask: What are the 10 top advancements in fast food history. Read all about it in The 10 Greatest Advancements in FAST FOOD History.

I think you can could up with your own list, but I especially liked #6 -- Subway successfully tricks people into thinking they make healthy fast food.
By the time I graduated high school, I was getting close to being borderline obese. I ballooned from a size 40 to a size 44 pants size within my senior year. Things were looking grim. Then I got a summer job that required I be on my feet at all time and an internship that was seven miles from my house that required a 45 minute long bike ride there and back. Oh, also, I barely had any time to eat and ended up quickly making two hot dogs for lunch and two for dinner. Needless to say, by the time I entered college, I was down to a size 36 and I had lost almost 50 pounds (in under three months). I suppose you could say I lost weight thanks to hot dogs in addition to exercise. That'd be a fib...the kind of fib Jared, from Subway, tells every day (his, as you probably know, is that he lost nearly 100 pounds). But it's the kind of fib lazy people who don't want to ride bikes and run and exercise want to believe. Thanks to Jared and his perfect "aw shucks" delivery, Subway is now the fastest growing fast food chain in America (in fact, there are more Subway restaurants in Manhattan than there are McDonalds). Thanks to Jared, every fast food chain (save Popeye's) has "healthy" food items on their menu now. And thanks to Jared, people will continue to believe they can lose weight by not exercising and eating shitty ham sandwiches. And here's something, guys: even if you do lose weight, the sandwiches are still not "healthy" for you. They still don't contain vegetables or nutrients that your body needs and are still mostly packed with bullshit and you'll still die of a coronary. But you'd never know that...because a guy who used to be fat told you he lost weight.

July 29, 2007

Eat like a gorilla

From the The Nutrient Rich Blog Dr. Joel Fuhrman suggests we eat more like a mountain gorilla than a mountain lion.
What would happen if you attempted to eat like a mountain gorilla, which eats about 80 percent of its diet from green leaves and about 15 percent from fruit? Assuming you are a female, who needs about 1,500 calories a day, if you attempted to get 1,200 of those calories from greens, you would need to eat over fifteen pounds of greens. That is quite a big salad! Since your stomach can only hold about one liter of food (or a little over a quart), you would have a problem fitting it all in.

Did you notice that 100 calories of broccoli is about ten ounces of food, and 100 calories of ground sirloin is less than one ounce of food? With green vegetables you can get filled up, even stuffed, yet you will not be consuming excess calories. Animal products, on the other hand, are calorie-dense and relatively low in nutrients, especially the crucial anti-cancer nutrients.

You would surely get lots of protein from this gorilla diet. In fact, with just five pounds of greens you would exceed the RDA for protein and would get loads of other important nutrients. The problem with this gorilla diet is that you would develop a calorie deficiency. You would become too thin.

Researcher’s Unveil Four Factors of Obesity

The researchers at UC Berkeley came up with the four factors of obesity. One of the factors is directly connected to restaurant food (haven't I been telling you that?). Two other factors seem indirectly tied to restaurant's bad fat and sugary sweet drinks.

The researchers didn't mentioned weak minded as a factor, or personal self-control.

Here are the four factors that are most likely to cause overweight and obesity in America according to researchers:

* the consumption of dietary fat, (because of its high calorie content, palatability and efficient utilization by the body)
* sweetened beverages, (consumption of sugar in beverage form likely to result in higher calorie intake, high fructose corn syrup metabolism in the liver favors lipogenesis - i.e. fat production)
* restaurant foods, (the more one eats out the harder it is to avoid weight gain - fast foods and restaurant foods higher in calories and fat and lack other nutrients)
* and a pattern of breakfast-skipping (overweight individuals tend to skip breakfast)

Read more at Researcher’s Unveil Four Factors of Obesity or read the full report at California Agriculture.

July 28, 2007

Calorie pusher comes to town

When the Cheesecake Factory comes to your town, you better watch out! writer notes that she's might be the only person in Rochester, NY not looking forward to the opening of another Calorie Pusher. And of course, The Cheesecake Factory won't even tell you what's in its food.

Calorie pusher comes to town: The Cheesecake Factory hits Rochester

"They refuse to tell their customers what they’re serving. Their web site states that they do not provide nutrition information, and it’s not available in their restaurants, or on most independent nutrition sites, either.

Emails to the company requesting nutrition bring this response:

At this time we do not provide nutritional information, such as caloric values, although we do hope to have that service available to our guests in the future.
I find it extremely difficult to believe that they don’t have the information.
The Cheesecake Calorie Factory is "in"famous mostly for huge plates overflowing with pounds of high-calorie food.

How bad is it? Officially, the Cheesecake Calorie Factory won't say. But a cook at RecipeZaar recreated their Pasta Da Vinci, and came up with 3,736 calories and 165 grams of fat.

That's nearly TWO DAYS worth of calories in one dish.

A slice of their cheesecake has 1,150 calories, and 74 grams of fat. (You'd have to walk for MORE than 5 hours to work off that Calorie/Coronary cheesecake.

Don't expect anything healthy with the "Profit, I mean Weight, Management" salads. The California Salad has 43 grams of fat. (You could eat 10 peanut butter cookies and still eat less fat.)

Next time you see a Cheesecake Fat Factory feel very good as you pass by.

July 27, 2007

Do you know anybody who died of obesity?

Today I was reading this blog, and got to thinking. Obesity is a killer in America. But I don't think I know anyone who died of it. I know, unfortunately, way too many young friends and family who died of cancer. Yet, no one of fatness.

So I'm asking my audience to comment: Do you know anyone who died of obesity? Let me know their story.

Americans think Obesity as Unhealthy as Smoking reports the tide has turned in America.

Both obesity and smoking are risky to our health.

A new Gallup Poll shows 83% of U.S. adults view obesity as very harmful to one’s health, compared with 79% who said the same about smoking.

Researchers say the results reveal a new view of obesity’s health risks and show that medical knowledge about the negative health effects of being overweight has entered the American mind-set.

In fact, they say the message has come through so clearly that at this point Americans are just as likely to say that being obese is very harmful as they are to say the same thing about smoking, which has long been the target of public health campaigns.

Read more on the poll...

Nutritional restaurant food costs more than junk

There's a reason it's called junk food. Because it's cheap nutritionally, and cheap for your wallet. Good food costs money. But most times the local vegetable farmer is not subsidized like McDonald's and Walmart.

A recent report from the University of Washington compared the weekly costs of eating high- and low-energy-dense food in 1,500 French teens and adults. It found that fruit, vegetables and other lower-calorie fare cost more than fast-food burgers, fried chicken and other energy-dense foods. That suggests, the team concluded in June in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, that 'lasting improvements in diet quality may require economic as well as behavioral interventions.'

Here are some tips from the researchers:

  • Add a first course to lunch and dinner. Make it a large leafy salad with plenty of vegetables and low-fat or nonfat dressing. Penn State researchers have found this practice can cut an average of 100 calories from the main meal without affecting fullness.

  • Sip soup. It's filled with water, which helps you feel full on fewer calories. Stews are another smart option. The exception: Avoid cream-based soups, which are packed with fat and calories.

  • Cut fat but not flavor. Choose fat-free or low-fat cheese instead full-fat varieties, especially in casseroles and mixed dishes where other ingredients can take up the slack.

  • Add fruit or vegetables to cut calories. Diced grapes, celery, carrots and water chestnuts lower the calories in chicken salad or tuna salad and add flavor and texture. Use mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, spinach and other vegetables on pizza in place of some of the pepperoni and sausage. Add spinach, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and other veggies to pasta dishes while cutting back on meat

  • Get more fiber. Not only does it help dilute calories, but it also increases satiety. So add beans to taco fillings, salads and soups. Switch to whole-wheat bread, pasta and cereal.

  • Read more at: You can eat more and still lose weight.

    Restaurants Experimenting with Smaller Portions

    Out West diners are commenting on TGI Friday's new smaller portions for smaller prices.

    Check out their reactions at: Restaurants Experimenting with Smaller Portions.

    Here's a sample:
    "People can be addicted to food the same way some are addicted to alcohol. Unfortunately there is the one difference - we still have to eat. It isn't like we can just stop, like someone who smokes.

    I think it is a wonderful idea to have smaller portions as an option. It is difficult to stop eating when there is still food on your plate."

    July 26, 2007

    Friends, family may make you fat

    Friends, family may make you fat

    In my "best 10 ways to lose 100 pounds" I pointed out that your friends and family pose a threat when you are trying to lose weight. This research proves it.

    July 24, 2007

    Soda (diet or regular) linked to heart risks

    Last blog I told you McDonald's wants to sell you a soda the size of Siberia.

    Now researchers from Boston University's School of Medicine finds a link between all sodas -- diets and sugar-laden -- and increased heart disease risks. (The author of the study emphasized the findings don't show diet sodas are a cause of increased heart disease. But cigarette makers have argued for years that cigarettes don't cause cancer either.)

    Without a definitive explanation, researchers offers only this advice to diet soda drinkers: "consume in moderation and stay tuned for more research."

    I'd say if you are serious about your health stay away from colas.

    more...Diet soda linked to heart risks - Yahoo! News

    July 21, 2007

    McDonald's wants to make you HUGO fat

    McDonald's was starting to offer more appropriately portioned food lately. But that ended today.

    The Hugo, a 42-ounce drink is now being offered for as little as 89 cents. One cup of the Hugo Coke has more than 400 calories. Some are calling it the Tubbo.

    Of course, the Hugo ads are in both English and Spanish, making sure that Latin minorities have an equal opportunity to be obese.

    Today's NY Times comments:

    When McDonald’s opened in 1955 the largest soda was 7 fluid ounces, according to Ms. Nestle and Ms. Young. Now a small soda is 16 ounces, and a child’s soda is 12 ounces. And what was once considered a normal adult meal is now a child’s portion. A patty the same size as the original McDonald’s hamburger and a serving of French fries, for instance, is now offered to children as part of the Happy Meal, Ms. Young said.

    The problem with bigger portions has been well documented. They are undoubtedly good deals. But put simply, if people are offered more food, they eat it.

    I don't remember going to McDonald's in the 60s and saying to myself, this place would be pretty good, if the sodas were 6 times bigger. Or that the hamburgers needed to be have twice the fat, or the fries needed to be 4 times larger.

    Why did those "appropriately sized" meals in the 60s satisfy us, but now they don't?

    Of could it be the 60s-sized profits don't satisfy Wall Street and McDonald's executives (whose bonuses are all tied to making Americans as fat as possible).

    And I just can't believe they call it Hugo. Wasn't that a hurricane?

    Hurricane Hugo was a destructive Category 5 hurricane that struck Puerto Rico, St. Croix, South Carolina and North Carolina in September of the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season, killing 82 people. It also left 56,000 homeless. The storm caused $10 billion (1989 USD, $16.3 billion (2006 USD) in damages, making it at the time the most damaging hurricane ever recorded, surpassing Hurricane Frederic.

    Doesn't sound like something I'd want my summer drink associated with.

    July 20, 2007

    The 10 best ways to lose 100 pounds (continued)


    After you have lost the 100 pounds, now start living. Not by eating everything, but only the best, healthiest, local, greatest tasting food every day. I stopped eating everyday red meat. That’s the hamburgers, steaks, sausage, ham, pork, bacon, roasts that come from Kroger’s or Stop and Shop. I love a beautiful slice of prosciutto around the ripest melon, or an appropriate portion of Ruth Chris filet mignon occasionally. I live for beautiful local vegetables grilled perfectly with just a touch of the tastiest Italian olive oil and hand-harvested sea salt from France (with some herbs from my garden). Or the freshest catch of the day in my favorite American restaurant. In other words, live it up, live it well, but live it appropriately.

    July 19, 2007

    The 10 best ways to lose 100 pounds (continued)

    9. FIGURE OUT WHAT FOODS WORK FOR YOU. The foods that work for me are:

    a. Spinach – World’s best food. Nutritious and it must have the highest weight to calorie ratio. Can be used for all three meals. Spinach in eggs, spinach salad and sautéed spinach for dinner.

    b. Salt, pepper and spices – Just because you are eating correct portions doesn’t mean you can’t live dolce vita. Use generously, it makes the little food you are eating so much better. Buy the best salt and pepper.

    c. Mushrooms – Again, one of the best weight to calorie ratios. Everyday I have a spinach and mushroom salad for lunch.

    d. Pico de gallo (salsa) – Falls under the heading of spicing up every meal for very little calories. Don’t buy the national brands, but real fresh stuff in the product department.

    e. Fish – Any and all kinds. Shellfish as well. Enough said.

    f. Egg whites. Breakfast is so important. And everyday I have scrambled egg whites with mushrooms and spinach with a little salsa.

    g. Bananas and strawberries – Everyday at 10 am I have a banana. For dessert after dinner I sometimes have strawberries. Both are perfect foods. Sweet, nutritious, low in calories and satisfying. Both are great in a smoothie, I treat myself to on Saturday mornings.

    h. Almonds – The perfect snack in the right portions. Extremely healthy for you and very tasty.

    i. Walden Farm’s No-Calorie Salad Dressings – Most salad dressings are part of the weight problem, not a solution. These great tasting dressings should be part of every person’s diet whether or not they are trying to lose weight.

    j. Metamucil - It's the best way to get lots of fiber into your diet, and it fills you up. I mix it with water in the morning and drink it like Tang. (Like the astronauts.) On the website, the company says the fiber in Metamucil helps modulate blood glucose levels after meals. I don't know how any of this works for me, scientifically, but after losing nearly 100 pounds, I do know, it works.

    July 18, 2007

    The 10 best ways to lose 100 pounds (continued)

    7. URINATE. Every diet is going to tell you water is your best friend. Maybe your only friend at this point. You should drink lots of water, but not to fill up your stomach. You’ve heard this a hundred times, and it’s boring and stupid. Water doesn’t fill up, despite all those health nuts and diet claims. But it does wash away the impure fats in your body. None of the magazines or TV commercials want to tell you how it really works, but you’ll soon be urinating your weight away. (How else is it going to disappear?) Forget the gym, every time you go to the bathroom, you are literally losing weight. Keep going to the bathroom!

    8. READ. Read every blog and book you can on obesity. Read about healthy food. Read about local food. Read about bad food. Read about bad American marketers. Get knowledgeable. You probably know more about baseball or football, than the food you have been sticking in your mouth for the past 20 years.

    9. FIGURE OUT WHAT FOODS WORK FOR YOU. All calories count, so find the foods that you like with the lowest calories. I focus on the foods with lots of bulk and little calories, and if they have moderate calories, then the foods should be very healthy for you – at least on the top 10 lists of healthy foods. For me the foods were very easy to find and to eat nearly everyday. The foods that work for me are:
    (continued tomorrow).

    July 17, 2007

    All of America demands calorie information

    Today's NY Times succinctly describes how and why Americans are demanding calorie information at restaurants.

    Calorie Labels May Clarify Options, Not Actions

    If you were watching calories, would you go for the chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s or the classic sirloin steak? Subway’s tuna or roast beef sandwich? A Starbucks chai or a cappuccino?

    Demand for calorie labels on restaurant food is sweeping the country. New York City is ahead of the trend — a law requiring calorie counts to be posted next to prices in some restaurants went into effect July 1, though it will not be enforced until October. But some 20 other states and localities are considering measures that would require chain restaurants to provide calories or detailed nutritional information right on the menu or menu board, often next to the price and in the same size lettering.

    “Do you think people will stop eating McDonald’s French fries and Big Macs?” asked Rick Sampson of the New York State Restaurant Association, which is suing New York City over its law. “It doesn’t keep me from eating a candy bar even though the calories are listed on it right in front of me.” (A Big Mac has 540 calories; a medium order of fries, 380.)

    But public opinion polls suggest that consumers are overwhelmingly in favor of menu labeling. And a 2005 survey of 5,297 adults by the food services company Aramark found that 83 percent of them wanted nutritional information in restaurants.

    “Often, people are trying to do the right thing and make the healthier choice, but they’re just guessing at what the best choice is — it’s not always obvious,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutritional policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the advocacy group that is leading the movement for menu labeling. “Because there’s no nutritional information, they’re not getting what they think they’re getting.”

    The chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s is one of those items that might appear to be a healthier choice, but brace yourself: it contains 1,010 calories and 76 grams of fat, while the sirloin has 540 calories and 42 grams of fat (not counting side dishes).


    And the NY Times also asked its readers if menu nutritional information would affect what you ordered at restaurants?

    The answer was overwhelming yes!

    Some of the comments:

    • Calorie labels would absolutely affect what I order at restaurants. I am no saint, but I often do try to think about what would be a healthy option when dining out. If I had the added information of a calorie count, it would be much easier to make that decision.

      — Posted by Mark

    • Yes, it would affect what I order. I travel to Japan often, where many restaurants note in their menus the amt of calories each item has. I find it helpful.

      — Posted by TonyD

    • not only would it affect what i order, it would allow me to go out to restaurants more often. I currently try to avoid eating out more than once a week.

      — Posted by estefanía

    • YES, please put labels on restaurant food. Restaurants are famous for adding in tons of fat and I think it would make them more aware. Not to mention me more aware when I eat a steak and wonder why it tastes so good! Well it has a ton of butter rubber all over it! Besides, then when I diet I can actually go out to eat so I have a clue what I am eating!

      — Posted by Linda