Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh Please!

This article is just so full of it, particularly the headline which reads, “Having Lots of Kids Helps Dads Live to 100.” The article then goes on to say that farming also helps men live to 100, as does keeping off excess weight in youth. That part I can agree with. Farming can be a healthy activity. Farmers get lots of exercise, they are out in the fresh air a lot, and the potential is there for them to eat a healthy diet with food taken right from their farm. And of course it is healthy to keep off excess weight, in one’s youth or at any other time of one’s life. But I really doubt that having lots of kids helps men live to 100. Even the article itself says that “based on previous studies by other authors, and common sense, quite the opposite could be expected.” I tend to agree with the common sense part. My grandfather had four children and he died at the age of 77. Why? Because he smoked, ate an unhealthy diet which included lots of saturated fats, and at times he bordered on obesity. Also, maybe there was something in his genetic history that kept him from living longer, although many of his siblings lived into their 90s. Having four kids had nothing to do with it. Leading an unhealthy lifestyle had a lot to do with it.

Articles like these really make me mad. They are like articles in which you can prove almost anything if you choose the right statistics. In articles like these, some of the most outrageous conclusions can come up depending on what you are looking for. Much of that depends on coincidence. Surely you’re not going to tell me, “Go out, have four kids, and you’ll live to 100.” That’s ridiculous, and I think much of this study is ridiculous as well.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Eddie’s Vegetable Soup

1 carrot
1 onion
5 cloves garlic
1 can Beef Broth (15 oz.)
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
8 oz can lima beans
8 oz can green beans
8 oz can green peas
8 oz chickpeas
8 oz dark red kidney beans
11 oz can white shoepeg corn
4 oz frozen spinach
Black pepper
Garlic powder

I can cook and eat this delicious soup within one hour, and it makes 4 or 5 servings, maybe more, so I have plenty to eat at lunch for most of the week.

Prepare one large carrot, chop it up and put in 3 qt. pot. I don’t particularly like crunchy carrot in my soup, so I put enough water with it (not much) so that I can boil it some while I’m cutting up the onion and garlic. Keep a close eye on the cooking carrot. Chop onion and garlic and add it to carrot, stirring often. I put some olive oil with this sometimes, but you could also just add a little more water so that you can cook it all until the onion is somewhat translucent. Then I add a 15 oz can of Swanson’s Beef Broth and an 8 oz can of Hunt’s tomato sauce (just the plain variety) with a little coarsely ground black pepper and some garlic powder on top, and increase heat under pot. While all that is heating, open and drain all your beans. Also, rinse the chickpeas and kidney beans, maybe to minimize gas? Then to the pot add an 8 oz can Del Monte lima beans, an 8 oz can cut Del Monte green beans (I cut some in half if they seem too long), an 8 oz can Lesueur very young small early peas, an 11 oz can Green Giant white shoepeg corn. Chickpeas and kidney beans usually come in 15 oz cans, so I add a half can of each to the soup and freeze the rest for next time. I use organic beans if they are available. Food Lion has started carrying a lot more organic beans lately. I add some frozen spinach to the pot. It thaws nicely as the soup heats. I bring all this to the point where it simmers, almost boiling, reduce heat, cover, and let it cook for little awhile before I eat it. I spoon a bunch of the soup into a bowl, sprinkle black pepper on top, and crumble up 3-5 Saltine crackers in it, then stir and eat. You could add a little elbow macaroni or maybe some orzo if you want, but the corn is your grain. Sometimes if I have something like blackeyed peas left over I might add it to the soup, but I try to be careful not to spoil the taste of this soup because I love it.

I think this soup is one of the healthiest things a person can eat. Look at all the vegetables, the variety of foods, etc. I think it might help you lose weight, too, but I’m not sure. I’ve lost a couple of pounds recently, and I’ve been eating a lot of vegetable soup for lunch. This is one reason, though, why I’m not a vegan. I do use beef broth occasionally. Other than that, and some occasional Locatelli cheese on pasta, I am a vegetarian.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

False Assumptions Can Kill?

It is interesting to me how some people are operating under false assumptions when it comes to their health. I don’t want to be judgemental or snobbish about this because I have done the same sort of thing myself. I used to eat potato chips, and I thought that since they didn’t have cholesterol, then they weren’t bad for me, or something like that. In other words, the potato chip bag had a label on the outside that said something like “Cholesterol Free,” and I thought that was a good thing. And of course it was a good thing, from my point of view, that they didn’t have cholesterol. But my sister pointed out to me the fact that they contain a lot of fat. So not only did they contain some saturated fat, which drives up a person’s cholesterol, but I am sure they contain more omega-6 fatty acids than I prefer to eat today.

When my elderly aunt had heart problems, her response was, “Well, I eat Cheerios every day.” And I said to her, if you’re expecting to control your cholesterol with Cheerios alone, that won’t do it. They will help, because of their soluble fiber, of course, but you can get a lot more soluble fiber just from using products like FiberSure, etc.

And this summer, in the middle all of our 104 degree days, my aunt had a fainting spell, no doubt because of dehydration, and her potassium was very low. Her response to that was, “Well, I eat a banana every day.” And I wanted to say to her that a banana only has a small amount of our daily requirements of potassium – even less if you factor in the heat of a summer day. If you’re expecting to control your potassium by eating a banana every day, well that won’t do it. If you are concerned about your potassium, there are many other foods that contain it. In this list, banana is at the bottom.

Here is an article that challenges our assumptions, for example, that we might be getting enough omega-3 fatty acids if we buy all the food in the grocery store that claims to contain it. The article says, “Consumers are in real danger of being misled.” Well, duh. Cheerios claim to lower cholesterol, potato chips have no cholesterol, some foods contain omega-3s – we’re not in danger of being misled, we’ve been misled for a long time. Sure, some of the processed food in the grocery store is good for us, but we are often wrong to assume that it is the best choice of food to put into our bodies based on what the food companies tell us. In some ways they need to mislead us so that we will buy their products. I go back to the fact that a corporation’s only responsibility is to make money.

Anyway, we need to make sure our assumptions are correct and not wait until a health crisis forces us to find out the truth. By the time that happens, it could be too late.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

No More Trans Fat?

Wow, I was at the store the other day and I discovered that Nutella no longer uses hydrogenated oil. One reason I stopped eating it was because of the trans fats. The only problem now is that instead of partially hydrogenated peanut oil they are using palm oil, which is also bad. Nutella has a lot of fat per serving, but a lot of that fat is from hazelnuts. I’m not recommending this product, but it is good, and I was just happy that they had taken out the trans fat. (Note: I just looked up the nutritional information on Nutella. Apparently their website hasn’t caught up with the change because it still has the old information. But I swear what I am saying is correct. Check it yourself next time you are at the grocery store.)