Public Health? Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

ABA Close UpDe do do do, de da da da. Entering the Brooklyn subway on a sunny day. But what’s this? A public health message? Move in closer….img_1921

Okay, I see. Big Soda is paying the MTA to endear us to their products, disguised of healthful advice. This ad is sponsored by the group that represents Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper. (I miss Mayor Bloomberg.)
Public Health Indeed!

That was fours days ago. Then. today I woke up to this article in the New York Times: Coke and Pepsi Give Millions to Public Health, Then Lobby Against it. Ah, the public health part.

But these articles, also ripped from today’s headlines, put another spin on “public health”:

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (“The Academy”), the professional organization of registered dietitians in which I once held leadership positions, accepts (a lot of) sponsorship from Big Food. That’s why I am no longer a member. They have sullied my name and so they must be renounced. My dietitian friends will tell you, the phrase “The Academy” always evokes the response, “I hate them.”

Personally, I favor a soda tax (and everything else that can be done to reform our sick brand Capitalism.) I neither drink soda nor eat processed food. (Bread is about as processed as it gets.) I’ve written about why I favor a soda tax in the blog posts listed below.

Your thoughts: How can we stop this?

Don’t Forget About Walnuts!

I can’t seems to get enough of one of my favorite winter foods: Walnut Stuffed Figs. It’s a Portuguese favorite my mother used to make when I was a little girl.
Here’s the recipe:
Take a dried, but not too dry, fig (Kadota or Calimyrna, I guess.) Cut the fig in half and press as many walnuts as you can into each half. Put the fig sandwich together and mash it down with the heel of your hand. Roll it sugar (this part is unnecessary unless you have a sweet tooth like me but, rest assured, no more than ¼ teaspoon of sugar sticks to each fig) and eat. How simple is that?

I’ve been eating two Walnut Stuffed Figs with a Greek yogurt for breakfast, or lunch, or whatchamacallit. (I’m not the structured type.)  At 110 calories each, they’re quite filling and mad nutritious, full of calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc, niacin, pyridoxine, folate, and pantothenic acid, as well as alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3), anti-oxidants, and nutrition pigments. (You can skip your supplement for the day.)  Walnut stuffed figs may be wrapped in bacon or topped with Gorgonzola cheese, which is not for everyday, but here are the recipes:

Remember Walnuts!

Full disclosure: the California Walnut Commission has wined and dined me a few times this year. Those guys know how to host a classy event!  It’s hard to believe that walnuts need a promo because who could have a problem with walnuts? But I guess people forget about them and they don’t know how nutritious walnuts are. That’s too bad because walnuts have anti-inflammatory properties that protect against heart disease and diabetes, and they maintain sperm quality, with fewer chromosomal abnormalities, in older men. (I mention this because I know a lot of late 20- and early 30-somethings who are delaying childbearing and, so, guys, take it from me, keep eating walnuts.) Dr. Wendie Robbins, from the UCLA School of Public Health, presented her walnuts-fertility research in Philadelphia at a FNCE dinner hosted by California Walnuts held at Supper, the wonderful ‘New American’ restaurant. Nom nom nom, walnuts with every course.

You must visit the California Walnuts Commission’s recipe page for inspiration. I recommend these two recipes only because I’ve made them and they are seasonal:

Random walnut fact: Do you know the name of the “classic walnut,” the principal variety marketed inshell? It’s the Hartley Walnut, the only variety that can stand vertically!

Your thoughts: How do you eat walnuts? Got a walnut recipe to share?

Whoa! That’s a Lot of Brands

The dietitian’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo last week overwhelmed me. Between them, FitBloggin, the Editor’s Cooking & Entertaining Showcase, and other food events in Manhattan, I am up to my neck in swag, branded promotional gifts. I have seen around 500 vendors in 17 days. Did I say I am overwhelmed?  Some products are fantastic (hello, Tupperware~) and others are unexpectedly cool (more about them later) but, overall, none was necessary. But someone, somewhere, has some job.

All in all, the food industry is about developing niche products out of something we already have. Take salt, for instance, simple and necessary. A biblical food. At one end, I met Real Salt, very nice people selling salt harvested from an ancient sea bed unrefined with 60 trace minerals. At the other end is Soda-Lo, also very nice people, who use nanotechnology to recrystalize salt into microscopic hollow crystals that are meant to reduce the salt in processed foods. Both brands (and others) claim to deliver an intense salty taste immediately and so, we need less to register a salty taste. Both companies seem to be telling the truth, as is my man, Alton Brown, who explains the taste of salt.

None of this matters to a body that can utilize salt in any form, from any source, and excrete the excess (when we are in good health.)  As for the teeny bit of 60 trace minerals? I get them in my wholesome food and vitamin-mineral supplement. And the nano-salt? I don’t eat much processed food and I guess nanos are okay….

I have to say that too many brands in too few days messed up my chi, but I am breathing in to restore peace. In the end, the experience left me seriously craving cabbage.

This is My Pledge to you: I will never write about a product unless I truly love it and I actually use it. And if I am paid to write to endorse anything, I will disclose it, and you may never know how I really feel. Full disclosure: No one paid me to mention cabbage.

Your thoughts:  What do you think about having so many brands on the market?