Friday’s Food For Thought

Happy Friday, y’all! Spring break is upon me, so I’m letting loose and finally writing in the blog! Sorry about the hiatus, folks.

Anyway, as I lounge lazily on the couch in the car dealership waiting for service, I thought I’d share some great “food for thought” resources/articles I’ve recently come upon:

1. “7 Foods You Should Never Eat” – scary title, but interesting and though-provoking article!

2. “Looking Ahead: Ingredient Trends 2012” – short and sweet (~20 mins) webinar about new trends in restaurants, consumers’ minds, and the general food system.

3. Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food – the USDA just launched this fantastic initiative which offers “a digital narrative with stories, pictures and video about USDA’s support for local and regional food systems, and interactive map with datasets displaying the various ways and places where the initiative has made an impact” (quoted from the USDA’s blog). This is a step in the right direction!!

Check these out and let me know what you think. 
I’ll be back soon (promise) to talk about some great companies I’ve recently found, and update you on some yummy food I’ve been putting in the belly 🙂 

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Reading Materials

You’ve probably heard of Meatless Mondays, the nationwide (and arguably, worldwide) effort to not eat meat one day of the week and to eat less meat overall. I applaud this effort and think it’s a step in the right direction to become more aware of our food choices and how they affect our bodies, our environment, and our animal friends. In honor of MM, here are a few great articles circulating in the media these days, with some differing viewpoints. (I’m not all about being veggie!):

Why Eating some Meat may be better for the Environment than going Vegetarian

We’re Eating Less Meat. Why?

Meat Eater’s Guide

Meatless in the Midwest: A Tale of Survival

And just for the hell of it…a succinct article (by the great Marion Nestle) defining organic, sustainable, seasonal and local. And why ethanol isn’t good:

Defining Organic: The Difference Between Sustainable and Local

Happy Reading! And Happy Meatless Monday!

Pyramids and Plates and Healthy Plates

We all know about MyPlate, the government’s newer initiative to replace the dated and sometimes confusing healthy eating pyramid. I talked about this unveiling back in June. Now, those smarty pants at Harvard have further updated upon the plate model and tweaked it to their liking to better define things like whole grains, healthy proteins and healthy oils.

Here’s the current MyPlate picture:

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It’s very simple, focusing on four major food groups and encourages the user to check out their website for more detailed information about adequate and appropriate fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy and grains.

If you remember, I liked the emphasis on half the plate full of produce and the circular visual as it actually looks like something we would eat off of, rather than that pesky pyramid that went backwards in my mind. Aren’t we trying to reach the top of the pyramid? No? That’s bad? OK…

Here is the new Healthy Eating Plate from Harvard:

Healthy Eating Plate (healthy-eating-plate-700.jpg)

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As you can tell, this graphic is much more detailed and doesn’t rely on the user to visit a government website to find out what it means to eat healthfully. Straightforward. This I like.

I like that this plate emphasizes whole grains, rather than just white bread and white rice, as well as healthy, lean proteins…none of the artery-clogging beef and pork on this plate, please. Of course I like the inclusion of beans and nuts as protein sources, too. 🙂

I also think it was a good idea to include healthy oils, because, realistically, we eat a lot of oil and it should be a part of our diet in moderation. I also like the emphasis on water and limitation of dairy.

P.S. That “stay active” guy is cool, too! I think that’s a nice addition to round out the healthy lifestyle.

Here’s my main concern: While the plate paints a pretty clear picture of the proportion of foods to eat on a regular basis, there is no definition of what makes up a proper portion. How much oil constitutes one serving? We surely eat too much oil, and too much of many other things (i.e. sugar, which didn’t make it to the plate), so I think people need better definitions of serving sizes in general. That’s the only thing I miss about that food pyramid. I think it did a better job of defining how much of each food to eat per meal and per day.

No doubt, one can seek out this information very easily, but if the Harvard smarties want this picture to be all-encompassing, they need just a couple tweaks here and there, and I’ll be sold.

What do you think? What about that mention of french fries not counting as a vegetable?
We had a fun discussion about that in class…

Happy New Year!

Hey Blog friends! Happy new year to you all. I hope 2012 is treating you well so far. I am enjoying my last day of “freedom” before I start classes again tomorrow. It’s been so nice to have 3 weeks off…I almost forgot what it was like to be a college student and have such a long holiday vacation, instead of having to work in the “real world”!

I have so much to share about my time off and my trip to Las Vegas last year (ha). I haven’t quite gotten back into the writing groove, so stories will be coming soon, but until then, I’m enjoying quite a few great articles/stories to get the new year started right:

1. Fast-Food Outlet Stirs Concerns in a Mecca of Healthy Living

2. Dietitians Pick Detroit as Healthiest Airport

3. The 10 Most Influential People in Veganism

4. 6 Steps for Planning Next Year’s Garden

5. 2012’s Top Nutrition Trends

6. 270,000 Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto

OK, so my links are all food/veg-centered…they are interesting anyway, and that’s my life these days! Also, in general, the Good News Network is a great place to learn about wonderful things happening in the world rather than just reading about the bad…it’s the perfect way to start off a new year!

Enjoy your first week of 2012 and all to come after it!

A Quarter Century

Sorry for the hiatus, folks. I’ve been working on 4 final papers due today, so that I can say I’ve finally finished my first semester of graduate school! In other news, this is my 200th post. Woo Hoo!

Also, in more special news, I turned 25 yesterday! That’s just crazy talk, if you ask me. I’m happy to say that I completed several of the items on my “25 before 25” list, and I’m wrapping that up tonight with a real cooking class/birthday party!

I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in my 25 years so far, but there are always doubts in my head that I’m not doing enough…So to look on the positive side, I wanted to think of some of my most proudest accomplishments/moments/memories and look to all the great things that lie in my future. I think it suits us all to appreciate things we’ve done well and set goals for what we hope to achieve.

1. Becoming a leader – Throughout high school, college, and many jobs, I feel like I have developed some great skills and honed my abilities as a natural leader.
2. Scholarship – Without receiving a full-tuition scholarship to Wayne State University, I don’t know if I would have been able to complete college without putting my family into debt, and I would never be able to forgive myself for that.
3. Love – I am lucky to have the love in my life from my wonderful and quirky family, and to have created and worked at the best relationship I have ever had with my husband, Eric.

Goals: I don’t plan to make a yearly list of the smaller thing I hope to accomplish, but I think it’s important to have an idea of priorities and long-term goals.

By the time I am 30 (eek!), I hope to:

1. Have a child – at least one. This will of course come when Hubs and I feel ready for that big step.
2. Pay off some debt – between medical school and grad school, we certainly won’t pay it off in the next 5 years, but we should have a regular payment plan set up and be working toward that big goal.
3. Get in touch with my Hungarian – I keep saying I want to learn more of the language, but I know that I need to commit to some kind of plan to actually retain more than the basic words I already know. I also want to absorb as many of my family’s stories as I can, because I won’t always have my grandmother and other relatives around to share those special memories.
4. Live in another city – Detroit is our hometown and where our family is. Pittsburgh is a great place to go to school and live for a few years. But we would love to experience another city, maybe westward. Denver, perhaps? 🙂
5. Volunteer on a regular basis – I already do a lot of volunteer work, but it’s mostly sporadic. I hope to figure out a few great causes that I want to be involved in that reflect my knowledge, hobbies, and priorities in life.

Do you have any other recommended goals for me? I appreciate others’ input, but know that I can only set goals that I think I will be able to accomplish and want to do for myself.

What are some of your long-term goals?

A Taste of the Food System

Remember how I said it was “FOOD. ALL. THE TIME.” these days? Well, not only do I eat food (obviously), study it and constantly think about it, I also get to have extra special tastings of it in my Food Systems class, as students regularly prepare treats to share and talk about. Back in September, I made challah, and each week my taste buds are excited for the next items to come. Everything has seriously been so good, and I’ve finally been able to take a couple pictures before eating it all!

Check ’em out:

Irish Colcannon - cabbage, potatoes and buttery goodness!

According to my classmate, “Colcannon is Irish for white-headed cabbage. It is a common Irish food prepared for Halloween. Cabbage is central to many Irish Halloween customs; so important, in fact, that Halloween is often called Colcannon Night or Cabbage Night in Ireland. Until recently, October 31st was a day of fasting on which no meat was eaten—hence the potatoes and cabbage.

The cabbage and potatoes can be simply boiled and then mixed together, but Colcannon is not complete without a generous addition of butter, salt, cream, and a sprinkling of green onion.”

This was my first (and very pleasant) experience with Colcannon. The things you learn!

Chips with tomatillo salsa and poppyseed strudel

This perfectly roasted and mild tomatillo salsa was made by my classmate using fresh and organic tomatillos from our school’s garden! I had two plates full 🙂

And this heavenly strudel had just the right balance of sweetness, seeds and dough for a desserty touch after savory salsa. SO happy!

There have been so many great food items shared so far; everything from refreshing Chia Pudding to inspiring Chakalaka to ridonculous Grape Pie. So far, my favorite has to be Hungarian Palacsinta, for its special place in my heart. Both of my grandmothers made this Eastern European “pancake” (a.k.a. crepe, a.k.a. blintz), and my paternal grandmother was able to cook with me and teach me the impressive wrist technique to perfect the paper thin canvas that is palacsinta. When my classmate made a jam-filled, sour cream-topped version, I thought “why didn’t I make this?!” It’s so special to me 🙂

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Every Monday my stomach becomes enormously satisfied, and sometimes my heart, too. Thank you, foodie classmates!

Being Thankful

Yay, a truly food-related holiday is upon us! OK, all holidays revolve around it, but I am BEYOND excited for my very-foodie Thanksgiving this year. Pics to come later, friends!

For now, I want to leave you with some inspirational articles about alternative ways to do Thanksgiving, and a reminder:

When giving out praise this Thursday, make sure to thank all your friends and family for preparing the food and sharing it and the holiday with you, but please also consider thanking the people who grew, processed, shipped, and sold the food that you were able to cook this holiday and all year-long. And, as a vegetarian side note, please consider and thank all the animals who sacrificed their lives for you to enjoy.

I would like to give a special shout out to all the under-appreciated farmers out there who provide me with fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, and even that processed stuff that has to come from somewhere and someone. And also, thank you to cows, goats, and hens that occasionally provide me with cheese and eggs. I am sorry for your suffering, and I am trying not to contribute to it any longer. Sorry for the semi-rant, but hey, it’s my blog…

And finally, thank you for reading.

Happy Thanks-Veg-Giving! 

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Veg-Links:

A Thanksgiving Feast, No Turkeys Allowed

Gluten-free, Vegan Thanksgiving

4 Tips for the Perfect Vegan Thanksgiving

Thankful Turkeys

Vegan Thanksgiving Done Deliciously

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