Why eat whole foods?
“Most consumers would be shocked to find the types of filler products that are used as substitutes for items that they believe are more pure.” Michael A. Yoshikami, chief investment strategist
Eating whole foods is a splendid idea, simply splendid. I’ve been eating as much whole foods as possible for quite some time now and encouraging others to do so. It’s not as easy as it sounds though in our fast food culture, it actually takes effort to eat foods made by nature that haven’t been tampered with. Our ancestors, just a mere 75 years ago wouldn’t have known anything but these single ingredient foods. In fact our diets have changed more in the last 75 years than they have in 10,000. (My grandma said that she saw the first processed cold cereal right before WWII)
I recently heard some information the other day that made my eyes bug out and reaffirmed the quest to eat whole foods. The FDA is only requiring processed foods be 80% accurate on their ingredients label. That means that at least 20% of the ingredients in that product can be….. anything! The trick with getting these hidden foods by the FDA is to hide them as ingredients in other foods that ARE listed. For example, Sudan Red dye, which is a potent carcinogen that is banned worldwide is being used to bump up the color of paprika then just listed in the foods as “paprika”.
Another popular item hidden in food is wood pulp. Yup, wood pulp has been approved by the FDA as a “safe” ingredient. It’s cheap, tasteless, has no calories and adds fiber. (I guess the FDA considers us termites) Folks don’t necessarily like to know wood fiber is in their food so it is either called “modified cellulose” or hidden within other foods. Nearly all the fast food chains are using it in their foods and most of your favorite brands are too. Like those beloved Wheat Thins, Kraft Mac and Cheese and soft serve ice cream, all have wood pulp in them. Word to the wise, if a food you are buying has “fiber rich and low fat” on the box; it is most likely has wood pulp in it.
To better understand this dilemma, a lab did a study where they dissected some processed foods and found that they actually had up to 50% unlisted foods in them! After all, the FDA usually doesn’t even test foods, they depend on the company producing them to run a study to determine if they are safe. Well that leaves the coyote in charge of the chickens now doesn’t it? The corporations that churn these foods out have a lot of leeway to experiment with added (cheap) ingredients. Much of what 70% of Americans now eat is not so much as cooked, as it is engineered into finely-tuned, nutrient-deficient creations of science. Ladies and gentlemen we give you Franken food.
Another study that has been causally done by Melanie Warner, author of the book, “Pandora’s lunchbox” is how much preservatives are really in processed foods. She has bought different processed foods over the years that just set them in her office, unrefrigerated and open, to see how long they would last. “I’ve had some foods in here for over 7 years, and they still have not decomposed.” Warner said in a recent interview. Processed foods boast over 200 different types of powerful chemical preservatives to enhance shelve life that have untold ramifications on our health. So this is good to keep in mind when you are in a hurry and reaching for that frozen pizza.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea, eat mostly whole foods and lots of veggies. Processed foods are so full of everything possibly bad for us that it is unfathomable. There is no way to keep up with the next creative Franken food a corporation is going to wrap up in copious amounts of seductive packaging and sell to you. We must be our own ally and eat as little of it as possible for our health, our children, and our earth.
One of my all-time favorite whole foods this time of year is kale. It is such an easy crop to grow here in the NW and so full of nutrition and natural fiber that it is hard to beat. I have a good friend who has lost 100 pounds this year and massaged kale salad has been one of the foundations of her diet. Here is a rendition of it for you to enjoy in health in your skinny jeans.
Massaged Kale Salad
Be creative with this delicious salad. Quinoa, while optional, adds a nice toasty crunch and packs in the protein.
For the salad
8 cups of chopped and de-stemmed Kale
1/2 cup of chopped toasted nuts of your choice (walnuts are very good here)
1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries (or 1/4 cup of dried cranberries)
1 apple cubed
1 cup of cooked quinoa, cooled (optional)
1/4 of crumbled feta cheese
For the vinaigrette;
¼ cup of Extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 clove of garlic, pressed
2-3 teaspoons of honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Start with your vinaigrette first, pour everything into a jar and shake it up till well mixed. Or you can do it in the blender, which I prefer. Add everything but the olive oil to the blender and whiz it up, then slowly…very slowly while the blender is going, drizzle in the olive oil. This will cause some emulsifying, which I really like in dressing but it is not necessary, just nice. Set aside the dressing while you prepare the salad.
After de-stemming your kale, and put in a large bowl, then pour the vinaigrette over the beautiful leaves. Massage vinaigrette into the kale with your hands for about five minutes, you will notice the size of the leaves will decrease significantly and you will feel the leaves becoming more tender. After this stage, you can put the salad in the fridge for up to 12 hours. When you are ready to eat the salad, toss the massaged kale with the rest of the ingredients and serve immediately. Enjoy your whole foods in good health!