Archive for the ‘Ranting’ Category

quest nutrition.

questpageThere are lots of bones to be picked out there in the world of protein bars. SO MANY of them are full of CRAP and weird chemicals and dozens of ingredients. I currently have a bone to pick with Quest Nutrition. The timing is funny because the other day our sales director came into the office and asked my opinion on it… (my co-workers know by now about my eating habits) and all it took was a look at the ingredients list for me to lump it into the same category as all those other garbage protein bars.

THEN I go onto Facebook and see it there, too! Here’s a screen grab from a Quest advertisement from my Facebook page. questAccording to their marketing, if I eat Quest protein bars, they provide me with #nojunk and the ultimate ability to #cheatclean. ALONG WITH being gluten free, with no sugar added and having a whopping 20g of protein! WHAAAAA? That sounds AWESOME! I’d love to be able to down a cookies and cream bar every morning and know I’m eating a quality, clean option! Sign me up! In the words of Quest, “your food should love you back!” Damn right it should! Three cheers for Quest!

But if you actually LOOK at the ingredients list, here’s what you see: ARTIFICIAL SUGAR. MAN-MADE FIBER. PROCESSED PROTEIN. Here’s a glimpse at the ingredients list on the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar:


They even had a lawsuit slapped on them for misrepresenting the amount of fiber in their bars last year. Whether it’s accurate or not is beside the point – what’s funny is that it turns out it’s difficult to test accurately using conventional testing methods because IMO’s (the fake fiber these bars have) are different than regular, natural fiber. Way too much science for me to follow, but there are papers on the topic written by people way smarter than me.

Regardless, there is a bottom line to all this. It’s not that hard. JUST EAT REAL FOOD.


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First off, I’m on my way to Dallas this weekend for my college girlfriend’s wedding. There’s supposed to be a huge storm front passing through but hoping it holds off until Sunday. Regardless, super excited to see her and a few other college friends – and who knows, maybe I’ll meet a nice southern Texas man! KIDDING.

Today’s post is a bit random I admit. Two news-related items caught my eye this week that have absolutely nothing to do with each other. But here goes.

supermThe first one was from earlier this week. It’s about the former president of Trader Joe’s. Inspired by all the wasted food America trashes every single day (1/3 of the world’s food goes to waste every year!), he’s decided to open a store called The Daily Table. This store, located in Boston, will be a grocery/restaurant hybrid that will sell expired food and produce that typical grocery stores would throw away. The goals are to a) reduce food waste from large grocery stores and b) to provide fresh options for those with lower incomes that normally don’t pay for and/or can’t afford fresh foods.

A report done by the National Resources Defense Council last year showed that Americans throw away approximately 40% of food every year, which equates to over $2,000 annually per family of four. THIS IS SO SHAMEFUL. There are so many different and EASY ways to reduce your family’s waste: plan your meals, freeze extra food, buy fresh produce once a week (and not in bulk!), eat your leftovers… the list goes on. Also- studies have also shown that we throw away food long before it goes bad, and that many are confused by dates on items. Just because it has passed the date, doesn’t necessarily mean it has gone bad. And many don’t realize the differences between “sell-by” versus “use-by” versus “best by” and the government hasn’t established any standards to regulate what these mean.

But this is not just consumers. I think restaurants are also a big part of the fault. I realize that restaurants need to abide by very stringent rules related to food safety. I also realize, especially at nice restaurants, that chefs have a high quality standard that they set for each plate that goes out to the dining room. But a couple things aren’t happening at most restaurants. One, I think that back of house staff needs better training on food waste. Not only will that education help our planet and reduce waste, but it saves the restaurant money and helps its bottom line! Two, portion sizes are straight up out of control these days in restaurants. Sometimes my entrée is enough for my actual dinner, and two lunches during the week. But I seem to be in the minority; so many people don’t take the rest of their meals to-go or let them sit in the fridge to be inevitably tossed in the trash.

So because of this, I’m in favor of his new concept. Who knows if it will be successful but at least there’s someone trying to make strides to reduce waste and educate consumers on how to reuse those random items in your fridge!

AMAArticle two. I get to my computer this morning at work and there’s this in my inbox: “Heroin-Like Drug That Rots Flesh, Bone Makes Appearance In US”. What the whattttt? My colleague must have read it at the same time I did cause we were both like, HOW HAVE WE NEVER HEARD ABOUT THIS? Apparently, it’s some cheap concoction of codeine-based headache pills mixed with iodine, gasoline, paint thinner or alcohol. It gives a high like heroin but only lasts 90 minutes. Oh, and IT TURNS YOUR SKIN INTO A CROCODILE. So there’s that. It’s street name is Krokodil, which makes sense, and sounds super cool. Anyways, this just baffled me that people want this so much that they will literally let it eat their body away for a 90 minute high. Ugh. There’s some really gross pictures that I’m not posting here, but if you don’t have a weak stomach, check them out here. And besides its skin-eating effects, it can also compromise your immune system, impair motor skills, damage your brain, burst your heart arteries and other really cool things.

Just something nice to leave you with on a sunny Friday. Have a great day!

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the truth about modeling.

So yea, it’s been a while. BUT…praise God that this weekend is my last travel destination for the next month and a half! Not that my travel has been boring: weddings, the beach, home to Pittsburgh… but I feel like I haven’t been able to be in Chicago all summer.

I have a pet peeve (among many as you’ve noticed). I shudder when I see those magazine headlines from People or Glamour or Cosmo highlighting “How ___ dropped twenty pounds for her new acting role” or “Only 3 weeks and she’s back in that post-baby bikini body: find out her secret!” These articles say that you too should have the ability to drop weight like said celebrity and your number one concern after birthing a child should be weight loss (who cares if your kid is healthy and happy – if you don’t fit into those skinny jeans then your life is over!).

All kidding aside, not only are these articles ignorant but they are quite often misleading or downright lies. My favorite is when these celebrities are describing the exact efforts they took to lose their weight. “I do pilates a couple times a week,” “Just eating healthy and exercising more,” “I only allow myself one cheat day a week” or the ever-popular “I just have a really fast metabolism.” All this does is creates false impressions in our youth that it’s easy and effortless to look like these celebrities.

Case and point… I came across this pretty poignant article a few weeks back and have been wanting to do a post on it since reading it. It’s written by ex-model Carre Otis. Throughout her career, she received the majority of her fan mail from younger girls, expressing their desires to be skinny, pretty, cool, have awesome hair, and eliciting her beauty secrets. But her goal with the article is to tell the truth, not what she was told to tell reporters or magazine editors, but the real-life struggles she went through to be successful in the modeling industry.


carre otis.

Instead of the exercise touted in magazine articles, Carre had strenuous two-a-day workouts on her off days and worked out seven days a week. All this on zero energy because her true diet consisted of cigarettes and cups and cups of coffee each day. So she was constantly fatigued from starvation and over-exercise. And because she was always caffeinated to maintain her energy, she needed sleeping pills in order to fall asleep at night. Because of the coffee and nicotine, her teeth were yellow and nails brittle. But nothing a little post-shoot airbrushing and manicured nails couldn’t fix. Her hair fell out and was also thin and weak and oftentimes would have fake hair added or even be given a wig during shoots. Her skin was dry and blemished and pimply but would be Photoshopped later to be flawless.

Because she was constantly on the road, her romantic relationships suffered and most times did not ever develop into any deep connections. Living this lifestyle kept emotions at bay and left her so tired that she had no energy left to feel real feelings. Something bad happened in her life? She had to suppress it and act happy and sexy in front of a camera.

After about twenty years on this “diet regimen,” Carre was rushed to the hospital with heart palpitations – the doctors found holes in her heart and she needed emergency surgery to save her life.

BUT THIS SIDE OF THE STORY IS NEVER TALKED ABOUT. The young girls who have eating disorders and body image problems or even low self-esteem don’t hear these stories. What they do hear is Kim Kardashian’s 2-month 50 pound weight loss of doing nothing but “healthy eating and moderate exercise.” I mean, seriously?! That’s like a pound a day. I’m sorry, but I eat healthy and have an active exercise regimen and I don’t drop A POUND A DAY. I would venture to guess that Kim’s been working with a “nutritionist” that has her eating next to nothing, and a personal trainer that kicks her butt 2-3 times a day. So not only are we lying to our youth (and our naïve adults!) but it creates an unrealistic expectation for those that struggle with weight that having a salad for lunch instead of a burger and staying on the treadmill for 15 more minutes is all you need to do. And what happens when the weight doesn’t come falling off? We become disheartened and discouraged and for a lot of people, they quit altogether. And guess what? They gain more weight because they feel like constant failures.

I know this doesn’t sell magazines. It’s much more exciting to read about drastic weight loss than developing a healthy lifestyle and dropping 50 pounds over the course of a year. But what’s sustainable? Eating lettuce leaves and drinking coffee for every meal and training seven days a week for 5 hours a day? Or maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and developing a LIFESTYLE instead of a diet?

What we do need are a few more Carre Otis’s to tell the truth in order to create realistic expectations to the public in regards to weight loss. And to ultimately redefine these ridiculous body image stereotypes and show the younger generation that the way to weight loss isn’t not always what it may seem.

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So I’m making my way to the beautiful city of Plymouth, MI after work today to visit one of my besties and her husband and little one. Seeing my friend = super fun, but 5+ hour drive from Chicago in Friday rush hour traffic = super not-so-much fun. My other friend is coming with me and she promised tunes from the new Backstreet Boys CD so I mean, I guess we’ll be fine.

In other news: I came across an entirely disturbing, yet not surprising article this week. It’s from this new blog I found, which is awesome, and I’m so sad it took me so long to come across it! The blog is called Weighty Matters, and it’s written by an obesity doc out of Ottawa. Anywho, this article details how the American College of Cardiology is promoting a number of initiatives backed by Coca-Cola. Yep, the company responsible for a ridiculous amount of obesity in this country (the No. 4 source of calories in the standard American diet, in fact).

diabetes: it's a family affair.

diabetes: it’s a family affair.

One of these initiatives that they are pushing is a Coca-Cola family field day. Yay! Fun! Ha not quite. Essentially it’s a huge marketing gimmick designed to reach families and younger audiences by trying to associate Coke products to exercise, sports and family togetherness. Gross.

But what’s worse is the banner at the bottom of the page: “Balancing Calories with Physical Activity. What is Weighing Us Down? Calorie Imbalance Impacts Us All”. This links to an infographic that can only be deemed hilarious and ludicrous. The infographic was designed by the Coca-Cola Company, “from government data and third-party researchers to promote understanding of calorie (energy) balance and active, healthy living.” Aw, aren’t they sweet (pun intended), helping us understand calorie consumption and learning to live a healthier lifestyle?

In this incredibly enlightening and non-biased infographic, we learn things like:

1. The three most common calorie contributors are: grain-based desserts, chicken dishes and breads.

2. Weight management is simply calories in, calories out.

3. Sugar consumption is actually decreasing among Americans.

4. If you do a TON of physical activity, you can eat basically anything you want!

This infographic seriously makes me want to punch someone in the face. I mean, seriously?

Number one blames obesity on chicken dishes, grain-based desserts and breads. Okay, even if I don’t agree with the chicken dish part (probably because people are adding sugars and breads to the chicken dishes), why omit #4? Oh RIGHT, because that’s you. Convenient. And what food is responsible for one-third of calories from added sugars in adult diets? Yep – sugary drinks. (PS: the number is even higher with children and adolescents.)

Two, I’m pretty sure the idea of calories in, calories out went out of date around the same time my scrunchies and Jnco jeans did [read: 1990’s]. 300 calories in a large Coke = 300 calories of grilled chicken and veggies? I think not. Idiots.

And the icing on the cake, or should I say, HFCS in the Coke, is number 3. If you actually pull up the study they are referencing, this is the actual conclusion to the study: “Although the consumption of added sugars in the United States decreased between 1999–2000 and 2007–2008, primarily because of a reduction in soda consumption, mean intakes continue to exceed recommended limits.”

Sugar consumption went down because people STOPPED DRINKING AS MUCH SODA. And even more, intakes STILL continue to exceed recommended limits. Agh.

And four is just annoying: do a bunch of physical activity everyday. Here’s tons of examples. But here’s no help whatsoever for how to maintain healthy eating. Here is all that they say: Calories come from many sources and they all count. Start by focusing on the whole diet. Pay attention to everything you eat and drink. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!?! And how does that help anyone struggling with their weight?

Oh, okay, Coke. Thanks for all the help! You guys sure are great. And leadership at ACC? I hope that big paycheck from Coke helps you sleep better at night on your yacht in the Maldives.

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All that talk about all the posts I was going to have coming and it’s taken me two weeks for another one. AND this one is going to be short. I am taking a much-needed mini vaca home to Pittsburgh for the fourth where I HOPE to bust out a few upcoming blog posts.

In the meantime, I ran across this article the other day about nutrition myths that people still believe. I could probably come up with about 50 more, but for the sake of brevity, here are the 4 myths Dr. Mark outlines:

1. It’s all about the calories.

Okay, so I think I stopped believing this one about ten years ago but you’d be shocked at the number of people still tracking their calories. Programs such as Livestrong, FitDay, LoseIt, and tons more now even have apps where you can track your daily calories and bump it up against your physical activity.

A CALORIE IS NOT A CALORIE IS NOT A CALORIE. Common sense should tell you 100 calories of Mountain Dew or 100 calories of McDonald’s french fries does not equal 100 calories of grilled chicken. I mean, seriously? As Dr. Mark so eloquently puts it, “Eating less garbage or choosing the lower-calorie garbage doesn’t make the garbage any better for you. It’s still garbage, and garbage doesn’t nourish your cells.” We need to focus on the nutritional profile of the foods we are consuming, not the number of calories we are eating.

But what if I’m trying to lose weight, Rachel? I get it- you want to be careful about what’s going into your mouth. But as long as you are eating your veggies and meats, not eating grains, watching your fruit (sugar) intake and not shoveling cups of macadamia nuts down your throat, calories will not be an issue for you.

2. Low fat diets are healthy.

This one takes a little more convincing for some people. I personally struggled with this a ton post-college: those low low-fat-diet-cartoon-265x300fat cookie packs or switching to skim milk or my personal favorite: fat free cheese. I mean, really? It’s CHEESE. It is supposed to have fat. Taking fat out of something with fat inherent in it can’t be good for you, right?

Studies are now showing those medical beliefs that were conjured up in the 80’s and 90’s about fat leading to weight gain and heart disease are just flat out wrong. As Dr. Mark points out, the largest clinical trial ever conducted on diet proved that low-fat diets do not result in weight loss or lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The important thing to learn is our bodies need fat; but we need to consume those healthy fats in conjunction with a diet low in processed foods and grains in order to stay trim, have more energy and maintain balanced insulin levels.

3. Sodium is bad and causes high blood pressure.

We all have heard the medical stories of sodium = high blood pressure and heart attacks. Thing is, there are a number of controlled trials that show no correlation between sodium restriction and a lower risk of heart attack.

A good point he makes: real food is naturally low in sodium. So just try to eat real food! Problem solved.

4. Cholesterol is bad and causes heart disease.

Ah. This is my absolute favorite one. If I had a dime for every time someone commented about using egg whites only, how their doctor told them to stay away from cholesterol, or how they want to stay healthy so they only eat cholesterol-free foods… I would be retired on a beach in Bora Bora.egg

Here’s the breakdown. 80% of cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver. Cholesterol is important for a number of things, including creating cell membranes, fixing damaged cells, and synthesizing a bunch of vitamins and hormones. Thing is, a typical American diet is full of processed carbohydrates, low in fiber and extremely nutrient deficient. What does that mean in relation to cholesterol? Your liver starts producing a bunch of cholesterol to make up for all the inflammation going on in your body due to eating this type of diet. Essentially, anywhere you find naturally-occurring cholesterol is a good thing to put in your body!

Bottom line of this article: Eat real food. Eat real food that has sodium. Eat real food that has cholesterol (that means EAT THE YOLKS OF YOUR EGGS FOR SOBBING OUT LOUD.) Eat real food that has fat. Eat these healthy fats without processed carbs. And when you start eating read food, you don’t have to count calories.

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Less than a week to go! I’ve been feeling really awesome lately- feeling better during the day, having better workouts, and just feeling overall happier!  I would also be lying if I didn’t say I am a little excited to get back to real life (and have a cocktail!). I’ve suffered a little bit socially over the past few weeks (getting a little sick of being nominated automatic chaffeur everywhere I go) and have a bout of FOMO every once in a while when I decide to just stay in. But it’s ONLY 30 DAYS, and I feel awesome. This was just the kickstart I needed to go into 2013 happier and healthier.

jibaritoI had another busy week, so not much excitement in the way of my weekly menu to report, except… as was expected, I did try my hand at a jibarito (flattened plantains used as bread, and also coincidentally a native menu item of Chicago!). Check it out! I was pretty proud of myself that it didn’t fall apart- and I used two mini beef sliders I bought from US Wellness with some guac, arugula and tomatoes to finish it off. Amazeballs. I decided to continue my Whole30 through Saturday (so I guess I should call it a Whole32…) since I’m headed to the ‘burbs for a church retreat and the food isn’t what you’d deem quality. (or frankly, edible). So here’s to less than a week to go!

Secondly, I came across this article the other day that details the school lunch program of the Japanese. Basically, Japanese schools serve real food to their kids at lunch (veggies, rice, fish) that is rarely frozen. And try to use seasonal ingredients when possible. Further, the kids serve each other, and you get what is served (there is no “second option” because you don’t like mushrooms).  Fruit and yogurt for dessert. Fried food is a rarity. Kids are even asking for the recipes.  Finally, on a regular basis, they are given a 5 minute educational session about their meal: a short explanation of what their meal consists of and what the health benefits are, helping the kids to interact and learn about what they are eating.

Why will this never happen in America? Two reasons: culture and Big Agra.


The Japanese pride themselves on the homogeneity of their society; for the most part, their culture promotes healthy, well-balanced eating (of real food) and they are well-known for their self-discipline. Japanese culture teaches children a level of respect and submission to adults and to policies. These kids walk into school being told their menu every day. Their exact menu- no choices, no substitutions, no religiously-excused alternatives, no vending machines of cookies and chips if they don’t like what’s being served. (For real- they don’t have vending machines.) And guess what- they EAT IT. In America, on the other hand, children are coddled to tell us exactly what they want to eat, and parents allow their children to become picky and obnoxious about their dietary preferences. With our society of gluttony and an abundance of options, schools would be culturally shunned if they implemented a “take it or leave it” approach to the school cafeteria. Remember, this is the society that deemed PIZZA A VEGETABLE.

Also- what kid in America these days would help serve lunch? Are you kidding me? Children are being raised with such an air of entitlement that they would fall to the ground laughing if they were asked to help prepare or serve school lunch. And then get back to tweeting their friends.

Big Agra.


courtesy of

Big Agra earns money from stockholders, politicians and donors. Lots of money. Big Agra mass produces cheap sugars and starches (read: cereals, microwaveable meals, Cheez-Its, pizza, Twinkies: otherwise known as CRAP). Kids become addicted to this crap. All they want is to eat crap. They buy more crap. Big Agra gets richer. It makes more crap. Kids eat more crap (and parents buy it for them!). Cheap crap becomes cheaper because everyone’s eating it. Politicians take money away from school lunch programs. Schools are forced into extremely limited budgets and can only afford… *ding* *ding* *ding* CHEAP CRAP! A Washington D.C. school food director was just FIRED because he replaced the processed food from the school lunch menu with real, fresh food made in house. Guess why! Because of the dolla dolla bills, ya’ll. Coming from local politicians who profited from the foodservice company contract (which is composed of Big Agra foods).  So kids eat more crap- even at school- and get fat. And guess who makes money when kids are fat? Big Agra. Three cheers for obesity!

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So with the start of the new year comes all the marketing relating to new diet gimmicks and ridiculous exercise equipment. Including this super weird thing. This also means the mogul of the dieting world, David Zinczenko (he’s the “Eat This, Not That” guy) is at it again with another diet idea to ring in 2013. This one is called the “8 hour diet” which claims that weight loss can be achieved by only eating within an 8-hour window (instead of the constant eating from the second we wake up until we go to bed that our culture is so used to). For example, eating late at night messes up our digestive system and does not allow time to process our food before we go to sleep. Zinczenko claims that you can “eat whatever you want, as much as you want” as long as it is limited to an 8-hour window. Sounds awesome, right? Reading the small print, he recommends you get two of his eight “Powerfoods” at each meal or snack (these include eggs, lean meats, dairy, legumes, nuts, blue & purple fruits, red fruits & vegetables, yellow & orange fruits and vegetables and green fruits & vegetables. Lastly, you can follow it anywhere from 3-7 days/week to see results!

My take: First, the “whatever you want, as much as you want” thing scares me. Our culture as a whole is incredibly gluttonous, and my fear is that the 8 hour window will turn into a binge sesh and not include a ton of high quality foods. Example: putting berries on a bowl of ice cream. Lean meat on your pizza. Lettuce and tomato on a fried chicken sandwich. You get it. I also don’t have to get into how I don’t agree with the dairy and legumes being included as “powerfoods”. HOWEVER, I think that the idea of fasting is incredibly valid and I am excited to see that it is something that has finally reached the mainstream. I do see a difference when I intermittently fast- in my body, my energy and my satiety levels post-fast. I am by no means an expert AT ALL, but this guy has a ton of info and is definitely worth checking out. Simply, there are proven benefits to fasting, including an increase in resting metabolism, healthier gastrointestinal area and a lower bodyweight. After my Whole30, I think I may experiment with this 8-Hour Diet but use paleo as my guide towards what is a “Powerfood”. To be continued…

Secondly, speaking of the Whole30, I am well into Day 1. Had a great back-to-Crossfit class (love me some tabatas) and I found out there are over 15 of us doing Whole30 from my Crossfit box. Super stoked to find this out- and our coach even set up a “support” page on Facebook so everyone can share tips and recipes and keep each other motivated. Today, I whipped up some Smoky Bacon chili (compliments of PaleoOMG) with one small tweak- no potato and I simmered it for about 2 hours. I also added about a ¼ cup of water to her recipe. It is deelish and I even took some over to my sick-at-home friend who had a raving review! I also got around to making a batch of my Spicy Paleo mayo. Recipe below. This stuff is so good (took me a few attempts of experimenting!) but I put it on a ton of stuff.

Spicy Paleo Mayo

1 organic egg
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 ¼ cups of olive oil (light tasting so it doesn’t taste bitter like EVOO [I get mine from Trader Joe’s])
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp salt
¼ cup diced jalapenos & their juice (I buy the little cans from the Hispanic section)
3 tsp paprika
3 tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

In a blender/food processor/bowl/whatever, break the egg and add the lemon juice. Let it get to room temp. (I usually wait an hour or two). After the egg warms up, add all the spices, jalapenos and ¼ cup of olive oil. Depending on what device you are using (blender, food processor, hand mixer), blend the ingredients together. Now comes the emulsion process! Slowly, slowly (teeny little drizzle) add the rest of the oil while blending. The more oil you add, the thicker it should get until it turns into mayonnaise! If your concoction is having a hard time emulsifying, you can add another room temp egg yolk which should probably help it thicken. If you’re still having trouble, then you are a horrible chef. Kidding. YouTube “homemade mayo” and you will find some tricks of the trade. I usually keep mine in the fridge no more than 2 weeks (essentially, as long as your egg is good for- make sense?)

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