Category Archives: meat


But the label said no nitrates

But The Label Says No Added Nitrates

What are nitrates?

Nitrates and nitrites are preservatives frequently found in preserved meats such as deli meats, hot dogs, sausages, etc. Nitrates are seen as the less harmful of the two, however, they can turn into nitrites which are linked to more serious health concerns.

Nitrites help keep the meats looking pink and can prevent the growth of listeria or botulinum bacterias. Unfortunately, however, consuming high amounts of nitrates and nitrites can be bad for your health. And nitrites can further degrade into nitrosamines (which are highly carcinogenic) when exposed to the amino acids in the stomach. 

Health impact of nitrates

Studies have shown that people who eat a lot of processed meats tend to have a higher than average risk for cancer including pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancers. Other studies indicate a link between nitrosamines and diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and liver disease. So even if you’re not highly sensitive to nitrates, consuming a lot of them is not a good idea. 

“No nitrates” on the label

Sometimes you’ll see labels that say “no nitrates.” You may be wondering how they’re preserving the food.  The answer is they’re still using nitrates, they’re just using a different form, usually celery juice or celery salts.

This is a case of manufacturer manipulation. Because of what these food/based nitrates are, the current FDA rules allow for the product to be labeled either No Nitrates or No Added Nitrates. (Similar to how they allow certain glutamate-rich products to be labeled no added MSG).

Because of consumer demand for cleaner labeling, some food producers are choosing to manufacture with these food-based nitrates. They then use Front-of-Package terminology to lure consumers to their products. However, some people are very sensitive to nitrates, even the food-based ones. So once again it comes down to reading the ingredient panel and knowing what’s in what you are eating.

Symptoms of allergy or sensitivity

The symptoms of nitrate sensitivity include headaches, sinus issues, stuffy nose, sneezing, runny nose, itching, hives, or asthma. It can be difficult to pick out if it’s specifically due to nitrates as these symptoms can be found with other ingredients as well.

If you think you are sensitive you can check with a doctor for an allergy test. You can also do an elimination diet and avoid all sources of nitrates. Those added to the food, as well as the vegetable-based sources listed below. When doing an elimination diet it’s important to keep a food journal so you can closely track your symptoms in relation to the food you are consuming.

Food sources of nitrates

High nitrate vegetable sources include:

  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Collard Greens
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Radishes
  • Spinach

Plus, when these ingredients are juiced, the longer they sit the more the nitrates convert to nitrites. So if you make juice that includes these kinds of vegetables, it’s best to drink it right away rather than letting it sit.

If you’re looking to consume low nitrate vegetables, these are:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broad Beans
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Green beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Summer Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes

It’s also important to know that industrial fertilizers are high in nitrates. This means that commercially grown crops tend to have higher levels. In other words, the more nitrate-rich the soil they are grown in, the higher the nitrate level in these vegetables.

Sources
 

  • Hord N.G., Conley M.N. (2017) Regulation of Dietary Nitrate and Nitrite: Balancing Essential Physiological Roles with Potential Health Risks. In: Bryan N., Loscalzo J. (eds) Nitrite and Nitrate in Human Health and Disease. Nutrition and Health. Humana Press, Cham.
  • Nothlings, Ute, et al. Meat and Fat Intake as Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer: The Multiethnic Cohort Study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Vol. 97, No. 19. October 5, 2005.
  • Tong, M, et al. Nitrosamine Exposure Causes Insulin Resistance Diseases: Relevance to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis, and Alzheimer’s Disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009; 17(4): 827–844.
  •  

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Repealing Country-of-origin Labeling Isn’t Cool

The House just voted to repeal Country-of-Origin labeling (COOL) for beef, chicken, and pork.  The reason that this happened makes sense but the fact that it happened at all makes no sense.  But first, a little background.

COOL was first signed into law in 2002 as part of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act as a voluntary labeling process.  Initially it was intended for the label on fresh beef, pork, and lamb products.  In 2003 it became mandatory to label COOL.  By 2008 the program was expanded and the current labeling requirement covers beef, veal, lamb, chicken, fish, shellfish, pork, goat, macadamia nuts, pecans, ginseng, peanuts, and perishable agricultural commodities.   For the purposes of this post I’m focusing on meat.

The intent of COOL was to clearly identify the chain of supply for fresh food.  If an item was destined for a processing plant where it would be significantly changed for example, turning fresh beef into a shepherd’s pie, that process would remove the need for COOL.  The FDA’s definition of processed is so broad that many foods were able to avoid using the label.

What does the label look like?  It’s confusing.  There’s no clear standards for a COO label.  It can be any size, font, color, location on the package.  There are standards about what it has to say but even there it can get a little confusing.  The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) which is part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does publish a list of the standard terms acceptable for labeling which covers country names and their abbreviations as well as labeling options covering the chain of supply from birth to either slaughter or slaughter and import.  Prior to May 2013 even that was less than clear due to commingling.  This was the practice of allowing a single label for meat that has more than one country of origin as long as it was processed in the same slaughterhouse all on the same day.  Commingling is no longer allowed which should make for clearer labeling of where animals were born, raised, and slaughtered.

In theory the ability to know where your meat is coming from, where it was raised, is a good one.  In practice COOL does not work as advertised.  I believe part of this is due to the lack of consistency with labeling, a lack of clear understanding for the consumer, and too many loopholes.  I also believe that people really are paying more attention to where their food comes from, how it’s raised, and where it is processed.  They want to know but are confused about the label due to inconsistent and unclear implementation.

The supply chain can sometimes become very convoluted.  As the Horsemeat Gate Scandal in the early part of 2013 highlighted, our food can travel a great distance before it lands on our dinner plate.  This unfortunate incident where horesemeat was fraudulently sold as beef only revealed the scale of travel for processing not for birth and rearing.  Obviously because it was processed it also would have been able to sidestep a COOL process had one been in place.

Horsemeat Gate also revealed a significant breakdown in the traceability of where our meat comes from.  The EU is currently investigating possible solutions to prevent this from happening again.  Something along the lines of COOL comes to mind, but only if it’s properly implemented.  It’s important to note that this was by no means a stand-alone incident, it was simply the biggest, most reported on episode.  There have also been incidents in China such as a 2013 investigation into the use of rat, mink, and fox meat being adulterated and sold as mutton.  And it doesn’t seem to get better.  Just last year there was a recall in China of donkey meat contaminated with fox.  These incidents, by the way, give serious pause to the thought of eating any meat from China.  And yet the USDA has approved the import of American raised chickens to China for processing and then re-imported for sale. Currently the transportation costs for poultry are too expensive and it does not appear that any American producers are doing this.  Unfortunately, if they do, it may be hard to know because the chicken would come back in a processed form that would thereby allow it to avoid COOL.

So why is COOL on the chopping block?  In a single word, politics.  Canada and Mexico filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) claiming that COOL was discriminatory.  It is interesting to note that China is listed as one of the third parties in the complaint.  Canada contends that meatpackers offer lower prices for their products.  Not because they are lesser quality, but because the meat packers don’t want to track and label the meat.  Canadian producers claim this has cost them nearly US$1 billion.  Unfortunately the WTO agreed with the plaintiffs.  This is the second time they’ve done so, the first time the US reworked COOL but apparently this was not perceived as being enough.  Now Canada and Mexico are threatening import taxes on certain products from the United States unless COOL is repealed.  Due to fears about trade the House has voted to dismantle COOL altogether.  The next step is to go before the Senate.

This is a huge mistake.  While the process of modification on any legislation is certainly challenging, the fact remains that this program was never thoroughly laid out or utilized to begin with.  Given the increasing issues with food contamination, adulteration, mis-labeling, and because of sourcing concerns it makes sense to keep COOL and more clearly identify the supply chain for our food.  Consumers want to know, and have the right to know, where their food comes from.

 

Greensbury Market – A Review

Greensbury Mkt

I write and talk frequently about eating cleanly, well-sourced foods.  From pesticide-free, non-gmo produce to pastured eggs, grass-fed dairy, and more.  For a number of people it’s not always that easy to source clean meats.  Grocery stores don’t always carry what you want, it may be organic but it’s not grass-fed, or it’s grass-finished not fully grass-fed, or it’s not pastured.  There may not be easy access to a local farmer who is raising sustainable animal products.  For whatever reason there are times when your only way to source what you want is to purchase it online.

I’ve recently discovered a new source for clean meats, all sourced from providers who follow sustainable practices, Greensbury Market.  I was fortunate enough to be able to try some of their organic, sustainably raised beef.   I had holiday houseguests and decided to have a tasting party for them, serving the steak and hamburgers from Greensbury Market.    While we had delicious vegetables, a lovely fermented cabbage and cucumber dish, and a salad, the focus of the meal, of course, was on the meat. I asked my guests for honest feedback and here’s what they shared:

“I’m not a big meat eater, but I would definitely eat this again.”

“This is really tender meat.”

“Delicious!  Great burger.”

“This tastes better than the steak we usually eat.”

I agree, I found it to be very tender and quite delicious.  I also liked that the meat was very lean.  A quality best found in pastured beef since the cows are not fattened up by feeding them food they can’t digest well.

Usually I try to avoid “work talk” at the dinner table but this time I was able to share with my guests why it’s so important to choose clean meats.  Grass-fed beef in particular has less saturated fat, more omega-3 (yes you can get it from beef, not just from fish), and a higher level of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that is beneficial for avoiding cancer (those with higher CLA appear to have less incidence of breast, colorectal, and stomach cancers), reducing cardiovascular risk, blood pressure, and high cholesterol and triglycerides.

According to Greensbury Market they source all their meats from small farmers who are environmentally proactive, practice sustainable agriculture, and are focused on animal welfare.  Additionally, their meat comes from animals that are not given synthetic hormones or antibiotics.

They offer beef, chicken, pork, and seafood, all sustainably sourced.  Having tasted it I can say that their beef is delicious.  I am a fan of their stated agricultural focus, especially that the animals are humanely raised.   If you’re looking for a good source for clean, humanely raised, pastured, grass-fed meats, I’d encourage you to check out Greensbury Market.

 

 

 

*disclosure

Nordic Diet

There’s a new diet trend that appears set to take the world by storm, the Nordic Diet. It appears to be a Scandinavian take on the concepts of the Mediterranean Diet. According to a study published in The Journal of Internal Medicine it lowered cholesterol and inflammation among study participants who followed the plan for 18 weeks.  Without a doubt there will shortly be a book, a cookbook, several websites with recipes, and a new crowd of enthusiasts.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it may not be the right thing for everyone.

The diet does allow for whole grains, primarily rye, barley, and oats, as well as low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, game meats (like moose), fruits, berries, vegetables, and canola oil. While new diet plans always garner a lot of excitement it’s important to remember that there is no one size fits all diet. We are bio-individual creatures and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. If someone is gluten intolerant they need to avoid the rye and barley (and source gluten free oats) allowed in this nutritional plan. Just because it’s part of the diet doesn’t mean it’s the right choice if your body can’t handle it.

I do have a couple of thoughts about this diet and about food trends in general:

  • The Nordic Diet calls for canola oil. In the United States this is not a good choice as the vast majority of it is contaminated by GMO. Some estimates of contamination and cross-contamination are so high that there are those who believe there is no unmodified canola to be found in the U.S.
  • The diet calls for low-fat dairy. This is not a healthy option. Starting with the fact that dairy is one of our few food sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (meaning it needs to be consumed with fat in order for the body to properly utilize it). Vitamin D is also important to help the body properly make use of calcium. When it comes to the old notion that high fat diets cause obesity, recent studies have shown that the opposite is true. In measured studies, those who consumed whole-milk dairy products had reduced risk for obesity.
  • The diet does not, as far as I’ve been able to find, specifically talk about sourcing of food.  While game meat is unlikely to be adulterated with added hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, poultry and fish need to be sustainably sourced.   It’s interesting to note that game meat in general may be gaining some prominence as people seek to avoid meat from animals raised in confined operations.
  • Vegetables and fruits still need to be sourced without pesticide residue and GMO contamination.
  • I imagine that there will be more of a call for root vegetables.  This is a good thing as root vegetables are high vitamins, beta-carotene, and fiber.  [side thought: I’m always surprised when I buy parsnips at the grocery store and the checkout clerk wants to know  what the “white carrots” are.]

With food trends in general I expect we’ll face a year ahead with more, New, BETTER (read tongue in cheek) superfoods that convey all sorts of health benefits.  I’m not a huge fan of seeking those out and quite frankly we have superfoods that are local and easily accessible, there’s no need to keep chasing the latest super ones.

I imagine there will still be some sort of push to get bugs onto the menu and into the grocery stores.  They’re cheap and easy to raise, a quick, convenient source of protein.  I’m not a fan but that’s a personal preference.  I also don’t eat things like squid or eels that doesn’t mean I think they’re dangerous or bad for you.  With anything that we eat we have to look at how it’s raised.  Remember, you are what you eat includes whatever the animal you’re eating ate.

I still believe there’s not enough focus on fermented foods.  These are in a category referred to as functional foods, they have a specific health benefit.  In the case of fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, and lacto-fermented vegetables they add beneficial probiotics to our intestinal tract, helping us to break down our food, boost our immune system and stay healthy.  While I see more and more evidence of some fermented foods I believe we would all benefit from eating more of them.  Ideally we’d learn how to make them at home.

I’d like to believe we’ll continue to see a growing influence of tip-to-tail consumption that will encourage us to eat more fully from the whole animal.  Learning to eat organ meats again, consuming more bone broths, getting away from the white-meat-only-chicken-breast diet that so many of us have become accustomed to.

Whatever nutrition plan lies ahead let’s remember that we need to eat according to the needs of our bio-individual bodies.  Our dietary needs change over time.  We don’t eat the same in our 40’s as we did when we were a toddler or an adolescent.  But however we choose to eat, whatever we’re eating, let’s focus on clean, healthy, sustainably sourced foods rather than jumping from one popular diet plan to another.

photo: PL Przemek

What’s In Your Beef

People often wonder about the higher cost of organic, grass-fed, pastured beef.  It is, admittedly quite a bit more expensive than the conventional version at the grocery store.  The difference however is quite significant.  After all, it’s not just what you’re eating, but what what you eat ate.  I know, that’s confusing, go back and read it again.

(more…)

On My Mind Monday 03.11.13

on my mind -- what's in the news
It’s never the same two weeks in a row. A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health. Here’s what’s on my mind.

Aspartame in Milk – Those of you who follow along on my Facebook page have already heard about this issues and how upset I am. Bad enough that they want to use aspartame in milk. The horror of this newest petition to the FDA is that the organizations involved want the FDA to remove the requirement to label the presence of aspartame in the dairy products. It does currently appear in a number of dairy items but it’s presence must be disclosed. If the request is successful it potentially could mean that you might be consuming dairy with this health-harming product in it. Not a good thing. If you’re as upset as I am, the FDA is seeking public comment and you can tell them how you feel.

Did Your Grandmother’s Smoking Habit Give You Asthma? – This is epigenetics at work. Genetic switches turned on and off by exposures. Although far from definitive it appears that there is a strong possibility that a grandmother who smoked cigarettes can have a genetic impact on her grandchildren even if her own children did not smoke. Hopefully this news will help more people decide to quit smoking.

Pink Slime Mfr Seeking $1.2 BILLION – Apparently if consumers find out what’s really in their food and decide not to eat it rather than accepting that the new paradigm is for the manufacturers to sue those who reported on the issue. Not the person or organization who came up with the term “pink slime” (that would be a scientist at the USDA btw) but the news media because they have deeper pockets. How about instead of trying to feed people food that was made from left-over bits and ammonia they just used real food? Hmmmm…now there’s a thought for you.

What’s Mira reading: I just finished the final revisions on The Pantry Principle and am eagerly awaiting the print proof copy. I think I’ll take a break from reading for a week or so as I’ve read/proofed/edited my own book to the exclusion of almost anything else for weeks.

Video of the Week: Not sure what to think about this, apparently a new(ish) food fraud scandal in China is selling concrete filled walnut shells. The story was originally reported a year ago but has just now surfaced in food news.

photo: Alvimann

Top Ten Reasons To Buy Grass Fed Beef

Grass-fed beef is different from the majority of beef products we find in our grocery stores. Free range, pasture raised beef is only raised on grass, not grain. What’s the big deal about cattle eating grass and not grain? There are many reasons pasture raised grass-fed beef is better than factory feedlot grain-fed beef.

First, let’s step back and take a brief look at our history. For ages, man has existed as hunter gatherers. They ate what they found, foraging for food and hunting animals. The animals they hunted lived off of grass, unless it was some kind of predator, such as a lion. So animals from the wild existed on the native grasses and plants of their surroundings. Their biological makeup evolved around their environment and they were well suited to digesting and processing plant matter; they were very happy doing just that, eating grass all day. We as hunters were very happing eating the foraging animals. As time went on we domesticated animals as a food source and planted crops.  This allowed us to stay put in one place and not have to constantly be on the move hunting and foraging. For many years, the diet of those domesticated animals was still primarily grass.  Things were good, but fast forward to today.

Now we have in many instances cattle packed into feedlots and fed grains, mainly genetically modified corn. Their highly evolved digestive tract was never meant to thrive with just grains, and certainly they were never designed to live in confined areas – shoulder to shoulder at a trough. But that is what we have today. What has suffered is the quality of life for the cattle. More importantly we find that quality of the meat available nowadays is poorer in nutrition and can have a negative effect on our health. This leads into the top 10 reasons why grass-fed beef is superior to conventional grain-fed beef.

  1. Grass-fed cattle are usually free-range, and raised in open pastures, not in unsanitary feedlots. Disease is not an issue on the open range whereas in the feedlot disease can spread quickly. As a result, there is no need for antibiotics; the animals are healthier with better immune systems.
  2. Grass-fed beef commonly does not contain synthetic hormones. This is a result of the rancher knowing they are raising quality meat and not wanting to taint their product.
  3. The cattle are raised in a natural setting and not fed corn or grains. In today’s world the majority of animal feed has been genetically modified. Believe it or not, but research published in 2012 from Caen University in France show that animals fed a lifetime of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) in this case corn, have a much higher rate of cancer and tumors, and have a shortened life span — this can’t be good for us to eat.
  4. The beef has a higher amount of vitamins and minerals. A study done by USDA and Clemson University researchers in 2009 proves this among many other facts listed below. One example is Vitamin E. Grass-fed beef usually has up to 7 or 8 mcg/gram of Vitamin E compared to 1 to 2 mcg/gram in grain-fed beef.
  5. Grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fats which has been linked to heart disease.
  6. Grass-fed beef has higher levels of in beta-carotene.
  7. Grass-fed beef is higher in thiamin and riboflavin (Vitamin B’s).
  8. Grass-fed beef has a higher mineral content including calcium, potassium and magnesium.
  9. Grass-fed beef is a better source for Conjugated Lineolic Acid (CLA). CLA has been proven to improve the immune system and has also been connected with reducing the risk of obesity, cancer and diabetes.
  10. Grass-fed beef provides higher amounts of Omega 3 fats. These fatty acids are essential for brain function and optimal health. Studies show that grass-fed beef contains up to 7 times the amount of Omega 3s compared to conventional grain-fed beef.

And while grass-fed beef is a healthier, better choice than its grain-fed counterparts, there is also a difference in taste.  The key here is eating premium grass-fed beef which tastes delicious, in this way we get beef that tastes great and is healthier for us at the same time.

Rich Coffman is a blogger on the front range of Colorado. His favorite source of grass fed beef is Teton Waters Ranch where they raise their cattle on the native grasslands of Idaho next to the Teton Mountains.

On My Mind 07.16.12 – Meg’s Edition

news | photo: mconnors

Normally this is where I write about what’s on my mind and share information and links on a variety of food, nutrition and holistic health topics.  Today we have a guest post from Meg in Connecticut who has been reading along for a while and was inspired to put together this list of links.

Triage Your Food – this excellent tip from Lifehacker claims that by creating a triage box in your fridge you can keep track of what needs to be eaten first and possibly save $100 per month or more.  I’m currently scrounging around my bin collection to see what I have that can be repurposed so I can implement this very idea.

USDA ‘playing chicken with safety’ – Essentially the government wants to turn the inspections over to the companies themselves.  This is not the first time this sort of issue has come up and I am assuming it won’t be the last.  Unfortunately this is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse and I do not believe that safety will continue along its current levels which are already not good enough.

Maryland politicians chicken out on arsenic ban – Yes, there is arsenic in chicken feed.  No it is not necessary.  Yes chickens, and people, would be healthier if it was removed from the feed.  The producers put it in there to reduce or eliminate coccidiosis, a common problem with overcrowded poultry conditions.  The dangers of arsenic go beyond the exposure in the meat, the run-off present in chicken excrement also poisons water supplies and the environment.  Buying organic chicken or from a a farmer you know and trust is the only way to avoid exposure to this toxic metal.

Ag-gag laws in five states – I find this very disturbing.  Producers are so concerned about public opinion if consumers know what they are really doing that they have managed, in five states, to successfully gag anyone who tries to report on them.  So what are they hiding?  Poor conditions, inhumane treatment of animals, unhealthy and unsanitary conditions, and possible/probable contamination which can affect the consumer.

USDA needs to label mechanically tenderized beef – meat that is tenderized by machine is considered “non-intact” and therefore has more surface area.  This higher level of surface area provides more growth medium for bacteria, therefore requiring a higher cooking temperature to avoid illness.  This issue has apparently been under review since 2009.  Quite frankly I’m not sure what the holdup is, this could prevent illness and bacterial outbreak and makes perfect sense to me.

What’s inside the 26-ingredient school lunch burger – The first ingredient is meat and the second is water.  But the third ingredient is soy flour (hmmmmm…..is there no allergen label in those school cafeterias?).  Most of the ingredients are not food and should not be in there, including “natural” flavor and disodium inosinate both of which are key words for MSG, and caramel color, which the Center for Science in the Public Interest says is a carcinogenic ingredient.  Last time I made burgers I had just six whole food ingredients, meat, egg, onion, parsley, oregano, and salt.  No chemicals, no harmful ingredients.  What’s in your burger?

Paper Mache Carrot Pencils – a really cute craft idea to encourage veggie interaction.

Regulating sugar like alcohol – This is an opinion piece from CNN which points out all the reasons that sugar is so bad for our health and how difficult it is to control in our diet.  If nothing else it should at least help you to be more cognizant of how much sugar you may actually be consuming in your diet without being fully aware of it.

Growing Your Own Veggies – more and more people are turning to the idea of home gardening.  Not only to combat the rising cost of food or the increasing food contamination issues, but because growing food is fun.  And other people are learning how to identify, forage for, and eat weeds.

 

On My Mind Monday 3.19.12

newspaper | photo:  mconnor

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  This is my snapshot of what I find interesting.  Information about health, nutrition, and/or holistic living.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

A soda a day may increase heart attack risk – in men.  Of course we all know that soda is bad for us.  Those empty calories and negative ingredients are not good for anyone. Now there’s another reason (as if you needed one) to give it up.

UN supports taxes on junk food – as a way to control how much junk food people eat, I think taxes fall far short of the bar.  Unfortunately this is also a disproportionate tax as the population most likely to eat junk food are usually shown to be those of lower income and lower food availability.  They aren’t going to stop this habit just because there are taxes.  What I believe is really needed is a education about whole food nutrition and about how to eat well for health.  Many people do not understand that junk food doesn’t nourish your body and how much damage it actually can do.  Until that fact is fully understood junk food consumption will continue to be a problem.

Pink Slime – This stuff has been in the news for quite some time but now, for some reason, it has taken off with the general public and there is a huge outcry.  What is it?  It’s the waste trimmings and leftover bits all mulched together, treated with ammonia hydroxide and sold as meat.  Banned for human consumption in other places (where it is used in pet food) it is legal for human consumption here in the US.  A short time ago McDonald’s announced that it would stop using pink slime in it’s restaurants.   Other big chains followed suit.  What to do with all that pink slime?  Why sell it to school cafeterias instead.  People this stuff is GARBAGE.  It is not food.  Ammonia hydroxide is a poison and it is used to mask potential pathogens in the garbage that is masquerading as meat.  I find it astounding that some food safety experts are claiming that it is okay to eat this.  Everyone that I spoke to, once they knew what it was, said that they would not knowingly choose to eat this product.  Some said that they were highly upset at the thought that they had been eating it unknowingly.  If the thought of this product upsets you consider signing the petition against it.

DIY Yogurt – yogurt is becoming popular again.  And more people are finding out just how easy it is to make your own at home.  You can use some yogurt that has already been cultured or purchase a culture of your own from Cultures For Health.

Grapefruit is in season here in my area of the country.  I have friends who have grapefruit trees who generously share with me and I have to say there is nothing better than a tree-ripened grapefruit.  Juicy, flavorful, and just amazingly delicious.  In addition to a whopping dose of vitamin C, grapefruit can also deliver a lot of vitamin A and fiber.  It also helps to alkalize the body, believed to help reduce calcium oxalate type kidney stones.  Now I’ve learned that grapefruit also has narinigenin.  This flavonoid appears to support liver health, reduce triglycerides and cholesterol, and inhibits Hep C viral activity.  Rather interesting when you consider that if you are told not to consume grapefruit if taking statin drugs.

Are You A Nutrition Rockstar?

What Am I Reading? The Whole-Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors: A Nutritional Approach to Preventing Recurrence.  This is an amazingly informative book by Dr. Helayne Waldman and Dr. Ed Bauman.

disclaimer:  cmp.ly/5

Dinner At The Counter

Our family went to dinner at The Counter last night, a new eatery in town.  The concept behind this place is that it is a build-your-own burger joint.

Walking in we were greeted by very friendly people with fantastic music in the background.  My husband and I were amused that somehow the place has managed to hit the exact right blend of music.  Not only did we like it, our teenager liked it and our young server liked it too.  We were given a menu that allowed us to create our perfect burger from four different proteins, the choice of a burger or a bowl, followed by a very wide selection of cheeses, toppings, sauces, and a choice of buns.

My husband ordered a beef burger with gruyere cheese and an assortment of toppings, our daughter choose a veggie burger with her topping preferences and I choose a chicken breast to be served in a bowl.  Several things stood out with our order that I thought were fabulous.  Their beef is humanely raised, grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free and they claim it is never frozen.  The veggie burgers are made in-house and are not simply reheated, cardboard tasting, burger-shaped pucks.  My salad was made with organic greens.  All three tasted absolutely delicious.  The beef was tender, juicy and very flavorful.  The veggie burger was, quite frankly, the best veggie burger I have ever had.  I’m not sure how they make it but it was moist and really stood out compared to any other veggie burger.  My chicken salad came on a bed of organic greens with the most amazing pesto.  I loved the fact that my sauce came on the side so I could choose how much I put on my meal.  We also shared some sweet potato fries with a horseradish mayonnaise.  While I’m certainly used to eating mayonnaise with my fries I will confess that I really don’t like horseradish so I was suspicious of why anyone would put it into mayonnaise.  It turned out to be the perfect compliment to the fries.  Not too strong, certainly not overwhelming, just a tiny bit of bite that went very well with the sweetness of the thin cut fries.  We ended the meal by sharing an oversize chocolate chip cookie that was so large we wound up taking half of it home.  And speaking of taking it home, I was really happy to see a wax paper lined box instead of a styrofoam container.

A few things stood out to me that I think would improve the restaurant.  The artwork was great but I felt that otherwise the blue and chrome decor was rather cold and sparse.  I’d love to see it warmed up a bit.  I’m a little disappointed that with all of the wonderful local, organic, humanely raised, etc they still had conventional ketchup on the table.  Sadly that ketchup is made with high fructose corn syrup and not a healthy choice.  I would also have liked sea salt and fresh ground pepper on the table.

Overall I think this restaurant has a lot going for it and I hope that it will be successful and stay in the area.  I love the concept, I really like a lot of their food choices and what they stand for.  I absolutely admire the fact that a number of things, their sauces, the veggie burger, and even their cookies are all made in-house on the premises.  That speaks a lot to the quality that they are going for and it shows in how tasty their food is.

I liked the food so much that as I was walking out the door I was already thinking about ideas for what I will build the next time I go back.

If you haven’t been yet go check it out, they have locations all over the country and even a couple of locations in Ireland.