Baby Carrot Anyone?

Baby carrot anyone? What is a baby carrot? Seems like a simple enough question. Obviously, it’s a carrot that hasn’t yet reached maturity. Also obvious, if you give it some thought, baby carrots will vary in size and shape as do squash, eggplant, and green beans. A baby carrot won’t always be a 2 inch length of uniformly orange vegetable with perfectly rounded ends. So what are those things we buy in the bag?

Those easy-to-pop-in-your-mouth snacks are baby-cut carrots. According to the World Carrot Museum (who knew there was one), baby-cut carrots were the brainchild of Mike Yurosek of Newhall, California who got tired of having to cull 70% of his harvest because the roots were twisted or knobby or broken. He knew that some of his carrots were cut up by frozen vegetable processors so he wondered, why not cut them up ourselves and sell them fresh?

After hand cutting a trial, Yurosek bought an industrial green bean cutter from a frozen food company that was going out of business. That machinery cut 2-inch strips. He then sent the strips to a packager to load them into a potato peeler to remove the peel and smooth the edges. Eventually, he bagged a few and sent to one of his grocery store clients to try. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, there was an upsurge in the popularity of carrots following the 1986 introduction of baby-cut carrots. Consumption peaked in the US at 14.1 pounds of carrots per person per year in 1997. By 2015, average consumption settled at around 8.3 pounds per person per year. Baby-cut carrots now make up more than 50% of carrot sales.

Because of baby-cut carrots’ popularity, plant breeders began to create varieties that were longer and narrower. They also bred the carrots to be sweeter. These were interesting shifts from the previously preferred characteristic of sturdy green tops.

Carrots are edible from one end to the other, but I can’t name anyone off the top of my head who eats the tops. I can name two people who don’t peel carrots on a regular basis. I’m one of them. Most of the nutrition in a carrot lies just beneath the peel. If you take away the peel, it’s easy to take away lots of good stuff in the process.

I prefer baby carrots to baby-cut carrots. I like surprising shapes and slight variances in color and flavor. But again, I’m the oddball. I was eyeing the last tomato in a bushel basket at the Farmer’s Market a few years ago. It was slightly misshapen. The proprietor of the booth said I could have it. He’d never be able to sell it. It seems even when we’re purchasing directly from the farmer, we’ve come to expect uniformity.

I’ll never argue against something that encourages a vegetable snack over a doughnut and I’m happy when waste is reduced by using all the parts of a particular food. Baby-cut carrots tick those boxes. But I vastly prefer the full flavor of the food I grew up eating right out of the garden to uniformity.

So, when there’s an option, I’ll take a baby carrot over a baby-cut carrot. Anyone else want one?

Is the Secret Always to KISS?

Whether it’s clean eating, a plant-based diet, or a healthy lifestyle, is the secret always to KISS? A lot of us want to live as healthily as possible. There’s plenty of information out there to help us. A search for clean eating lends 507,000,000 results, plant-based diet 231,000,000 results, and healthy lifestyle 748,000,000 results. If you have time, you can read more than a billion articles. If not, it seems that they all boil down to one idea that could be expressed as KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)!
simple
Looking back at the food I ate as a child, I had a cleaner diet than many people who deliberately attempt one today. We ate at home. Our beef came from our field. Our pork came from the pigs that almost killed me when I tried to play with their babies. My plate was always full of vegetables fresh from the garden – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, cabbage, squash, carrots, peas, okra, corn, and potatoes.

In the summer, there was watermelon. Honeybees lived behind our front porch. There was always a line of them flying across the driveway. Once a year, my dad hired a man to rob the hive. Each jar of rich, thick honey had a bit of honeycomb included.
There was no elaborate preparation in the kitchen. None was needed. Flavor burst from lightly sautéed squash or boiled corn on the cob. I ate tomatoes like apples. They were so sweet and juicy, I never added salt.

Our tomato juice was home canned. Pickles were home made. We rarely ate sandwiches or pasta and hardly ever at restaurants. A picnic at the river was left-over fried chicken, deviled eggs, potato salad, and bright green sweet pickles. All of them were made by my grandmother.

I remember this food as the tastiest I ever had. I rarely find produce in the grocery store to match. Even the farmers market often falls short. Maybe that’s why my children and grandchildren seem satisfied with food full of flavor enhancers or additives.

Maybe it’s why many people are satisfied with mediocre restaurant or packaged convenience foods. And maybe some of these people think that great food requires lots of equipment and lengthy preparation.

Perhaps that’s why they sometimes miss the fact that clean eating, a plant-based diet, and a healthy lifestyle all begin with keeping things simple. Start with fresh. Process as little as possible. Let the flavors of the ingredients shine through – keep it simple stupid.

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/?s=the+hive

We’re bombarded with the words Eat Healthy, but what do they really mean?

Every day we’re bombarded with the words Eat Healthy, but what do they mean? Do any of us really know?

Watch TV news shows for a day and you’re bound to see a graphic that features some combination of the words healthy and eat, eating, or diet in a list of behaviors that can reduce your chances for contracting some chronic health condition – diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, seasonal affective disorder, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines, and more.

If a healthy diet can help prevent us from contracting all of these horrible things, you’d think we would all jump on the bandwagon so we could avoid feeling bad, doctor visits, side-effects of medicine, higher insurance rates, and a shortened lifespan. It kinda seems like a no-brainer, and yet I’d wager that a high percentage of us really have no idea exactly what a healthy diet is.

The word diet has come to be automatically associated with low calorie or something you do to get skinnier. Since you can be both thin and unhealthy, let’s start by removing our association of diet with calories alone.
healthy meal
A healthy diet combines a good balance of water and nutrients. Nutrients are the components in foods that our bodies use to survive and grow. They include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and vitamins. Also essential to human metabolism are some dietary minerals – salts, copper and iron.

In the broadest view, the best foods have the highest ratio of nutrients to the lowest amount of calories, but you do not have to limit yourself to these foods. You can eat in a healthy manner by maintaining a good balance across all food groups while managing portion size.

In order to know whether you are getting a good balance of nutrients, you must first know what’s in the food you consume. That doesn’t mean knowing what a TV commercial says about it, or what the large marketing terms on a package scream out. In fact, it’s best if you erase the food pyramid from your brain along with packaging that says DIET, no ADDED sugar, WHOLE grain, or low fat. These terms do not mean the food is healthy.

To know what’s in packaged food, you must read the ingredients and nutrition information on the label. To learn the composition of fresh foods, you can use one of the many tools available online.

It’s also good to have some general guidelines regarding how much of each nutrient your body requires. Because everyone’s metabolism is unique, there’s not a single, exact formula that applies, but you can begin with generalities and then observe and adjust to fit your body’s requirements. You may need less or more food than listed based on your age, height, health condition, and activity level.

Here are some general guidelines to healthy food consumption:

Allow the following in your diet each day:
75 – 100 grams of protein, plus additional if you eliminate complex carbohydrates (300 – 400 calories)
60 – 80 grams of carbohydrates, plus additional to meet calorie requirements. Most of the additional carbs should come from fresh vegetables, legumes, and fruit (240 – 320 calories minimum)
63 – 97 grams of fat (567 – 873 calories)
9 – 13 cups water minimum (0 calories)

If you find all of this confusing, just remember to focus on FLAVOR!

F resh food
L imit packaged, processed food and grain-based carbs
A nimal proteins with the least amount of fat and no additives
V egetable and fruit carbs in wide variety
O rganic when possible
R epeat each day

And now for more detail:
protein
Protein Minimum: 46 (women) – 56 (men & pregnant women) grams of protein per day.
Better: 25 grams per meal or about 75 grams per day.

Examples of high protein foods: beef, pork, lamb, bison, chicken, eggs, fish, seafood.
Other foods with protein: milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs. nuts, beans, tofu, quinoa.

A 3 ounce portion of meat typically has 21 grams of protein and each gram of protein provides 4 calories of energy. Meat will also contain fat. In order to keep your fat intake reasonable, it is good to eat a variety of lean meats, poultry, and fish. You can also choose yogurt made with skim milk instead of whole milk, raw nuts instead of roasted nuts with oil, and you can cook beans with chicken stock rather than ham or salt pork.

Protein is made up of amino acids that your body uses to build healthy cells. If you do not get enough, you can suffer from fatigue, weakness, or muscle loss and your immune system may suffer.

veggie carbs
Carbohydrates 60 – 80 grams per day is sufficient.
If you have a calorie deficit after consuming the amount of protein and fats you need, then adding vegetables, legumes, or fruits for more energy is a healthy choice.

Each gram of carbohydrate provides about 4 calories of energy. Carbohydrates can be broken into two categories – simple and complex. Simple carbs from fresh fruits and vegetables are the healthiest form of carbohydrates. They provide many essential vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber. Legumes, which can be either simple or complex, are also a source of protein.

Examples of high carbohydrate foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes. Less healthy carbohydrates often combined with fats are bread, rolls, wraps, tortillas, cornbread, crackers, cakes, pies, brownies, candy, muffins, pancakes, waffles, donuts, pastries, toaster pastries, breakfast bars, breakfast cereal, many protein bars, cookies, french fries, ice cream, ice cream bars, pasta, rice, corn, and oats. Other high carbohydrate foods that should be consumed in limited amounts: sugar, soft drinks, energy drinks, ketchup, maple syrup, cane syrup, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, honey, jellies, jams, and candy.

Simple carbohydrates are single and double-chained sugars and usually end in the letters ose – glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose. These simple carbs are usually devoid of nutrition in spite of the calories they add. If you get these sugars from fruits or dairy, the fruit itself or the dairy product will contain nutrients. If simple sugars are added to processed food, they provide temporary energy, but no significant nutrition making them empty calories.

Complex carbohydrates are made from many chains of simple sugars joined together. Complex carbohydrates include starch and fiber. Foods containing complex carbs include wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, hops, some beans, potatoes and other vegetables, breads, wraps, cakes, muffins, pancakes, waffles, donuts, pastries, breakfast cereal, breakfast bars, many protein bars, toaster pastries, chips, and pasta.

Your body will process simple sugars faster than it processes complex carbohydrates. Because we have a cultural habit of eating 3 meals per day spaced 5-6 hours apart, many people have become accustomed to using complex carbs as a way to feel full for a longer period of time. You can eliminate complex carbohydrates and eat more often and still be eating a healthy diet that will give you continual energy. If you eat too little protein, it may be even more tempting to fill up with starchy complex carbs in order to feel satisfied.

Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, pasta, rice, corn, and oats are less expensive to purchase than proteins. For that reason, restaurants, fast food outlets, and the increasingly popular fast casual restaurants have menus filled with an overabundance of carbohydrates and fats combined with small portions of protein. Fresh vegetables and fruits are offered in limited selection because they have a short shelf life and are relatively expensive.

Since many grain based products are fortified with vitamins and minerals, they appear to have more nutrients than the raw grains offer. There’s nothing wrong with added nutrients unless they are accompanied by a high amount of fat, simple sugars, and chemical additives. This is often the case with packaged, convenience foods.

As the public has demanded lower fat food choices, many packaged foods have replaced fats with sugars to enhance flavor. If you read any nutrition label, you may notice that the percentage of the recommended daily allowance of sugar is never listed. The carbohydrates will be listed in grams, but never the percentage of RDA. This is a clever omission to make it more difficult to recognize how much sugar you are consuming in each serving.

Filling up with high carbohydrate packaged foods on a daily basis is not healthy.

(This is perhaps the most debated food group and rarely do medical professionals take a stand other than in relation to diabetes. There are some physicians who believe no carbohydrates are essential, but many vegetables and fruits are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals so most will concede that some carbohydrate consumption can be healthy. A larger group warns against highly processed, high fat, sugary complex carbohydrates. The seemingly largest, and most vocal, group of medical professionals and nutritionists encourage the consumption of whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas so that you will get proper nutrients and enough dietary fiber. Often overlooked in their recommendations is the fact that most breads, cereals, and pastas purchased at the market must be fortified with added vitamins and minerals in order to offer you the nutrients of which they speak. Additional oversights seem to be: 1)Breads purchased in a package will often contain a significant amount of sodium even though they do not taste salty. 2)Fruits, vegetables and nuts contain a large amount of fiber making it possible to get enough fiber without consuming complex carbohydrates.)

fat
Fats Women should allow consumption of 63 – 73 fat grams per day, and men from 77 – 97 depending on age and overall calorie requirements.

Examples of foods that contain fat: meat, some fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, bacon, cheese, salad dressing, lard, shortening, nuts, nut butters like peanut butter, avocados, whole milk, butter, cod liver oil, coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, and other vegetable oils. Muffins, cookies, crackers, cakes, chips, fried chicken, french fries, other fried foods, breads, candy bars, and protein bars.

Each gram of fat contains 9 calories which is more than twice as many calories as contained in a gram of protein or carbohydrate. That’s about 120 calories per tablespoon.

The body requires fats that it cannot manufacture. These fats help proteins do their jobs. They help the body stockpile nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K, and they begin chemical reactions used in growth, immune function, and reproduction. Naturally occurring fats may be saturated or unsaturated. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature while unsaturated are not.

There’s a category of fats called trans fats that is produced in the gut of some animals. Small amounts of trans fats then appear in foods made from these animals. There are other artificial trans fatty acids created by an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. These trans fats will be listed on labels as partially hydrogenated oil which is no longer considered generally safe in human food and should be avoided.

Minerals and Vitamins There are recommended daily allowances for many vitamins and minerals and upper allowances for some. Minerals and vitamins are contained in most of the foods listed above.

Vitamins and minerals are important for bone health, electrolyte balance, thyroid function, and many other body functions like blood clotting and heart rhythm.

Examples of minerals that you need: Calcium, copper, sodium, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and iodine.

Examples of vitamins that you need: A, B6, B12, Niacin, Riboflavin, Thiamin, C, E, K, and folate.

In order to get all of these vitamins and minerals, you will need to consume a wide variety of foods. If you have been advised to limit your salt intake, it is important to recognize that many packaged foods contain a significant amount of sodium even though they don’t taste salty.

Water Average adequate intake per day for a woman living in a temperate climate is 9 cups.
Average adequate intake per day for a man living in a temperate climate is 13 cups.

Water needs are affected by weight, age, temperature, electrolyte balance, intake of caffeine, intake of sugar, physical activity, your surrounding environment, health conditions, and pregnancy or breast-feeding so you may need more water than the amount listed here. You will also get water from fruits and vegetables, liquids like tea and coffee, juice, milk, and flavored drinks. Most flavored drinks also contain a large amount of added sugar or chemical sweeteners and should be limited or avoided altogether.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and contributes to the function of every body system. Lack of water can lead to dehydration that can drain your energy, give you a headache, cause weakness, dizziness, palpitations, confusion, fainting, sluggishness, and inability to sweat. Severe dehydration over a period of time will cause body systems to shut down leading to life-threatening conditions.

Now that you know the guidelines – we’ve said it before, but perhaps it bears repeating, the easiest way to know what’s in your food it to prepare it from fresh ingredients. Even when cooking from scratch you’ll make the healthiest choices by reading labels. This will help you avoid added sodium or preservatives that are often injected into meat or poultry. If you notice that a label contains lots of tough to pronounce chemicals, then it is probably best avoided or at least limited.

Again, if you don’t have time to study every little item you consume, then you can always just focus on FLAVOR as your guide:

F resh food
L imit packaged, processed food and grain-based carbs
A nimal proteins with the least amount of fat and no additives
V egetable and fruit carbs in wide variety
O rganic when possible
R epeat each day

There’s nothing more tasty than a perfectly ripe sweet cherry, peach, or tomato. You don’t have to cook them. They are rich in nutrients. They are just three of the hundreds of healthy, fresh foods that you can include in your diet and they prove that healthy can be both simple and delicious. Now get out there and Eat Healthy!

Want to know more? Check out these links:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/how-much-protein

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/dehydration-adults

http://www.doctoroz.com/article/protein-fact-sheet

http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/dietary-guidance

http://www.doctoroz.com/article/good-carbs-vs-bad-carbs?page=1

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/carbs.html

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/pyramid-full-story/

http://www.drperlmutter.com/learn/faq/how-much-carbohydrate-do-we-absolutely-require-in-the-diet/

http://www.pennmedicine.org/health_info/nutrition/not_same.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423102127.htm

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/vitamins-minerals-how-much-should-you-take?page=2

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”