It’s a new year, Warriors! Time for fresh beginnings as the days get longer. To continue with Tuesday’s theme, today’s posts are all headed as resolutions -- ways that we can use news to create positive changes in our life. Today we venture into the realms of Big Food, colony collapse, living wages, exercise trends, eating less sugar, and a whole lot more. Good luck with the first week of what is bound to be a great year!
Words to Live By
“...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
—Ranier Maria Rilke
Mindfulness in action
If you’re like many of us, you probably multi-task a fair amount, maybe without even recognizing that you’re multi-tasking. Take a moment to read this article by Sheryl Paul about the art of silence and connecting with the people around you.
No matter what the country or culture, higher prices and/or taxes may limit consumption of sugary drinks
In Mexico, a grand experiment should soon begin this year with a new tax on sugary drinks, which are widely recognized as being a big culprit in the obesity epidemic both in Mexico and worldwide. Now the improbable but appropriate question will soon be posed: Can America follow the lead of Mexico?
Resolution: Get Into Healthy Food and Out of “Big Food”
The term “Big Food” is now being used to represent not only agribusiness, but also the big businesses that these agribusinesses are supplying. We saw Big Food in the news this week when China rejected GMO corn from the US
and in this great op-ed on the industrial meat industry
, both highlighting the complicated mess that is our food system. The Huffington Post came through with two articles summing up the big trends of big food in 2013 and some hopes for the year to come.
We’ll have the sea beans, but hold the edible trees
A trends report from a hospitality consulting agency out of San Francisco has us both intrigued and horrified at how far the restaurant industry will go to create the Next Big Thing. Presented in three categories -- #overit, #wegetit, and #youknowyouwantit – their panel of industry experts, chefs, and authors give us the dish on “The Dishes, Drinks and Digs That Will Be Breaking Down Barriers in 2014.”
We’re not sure many of these will appear on your local restaurants’ menus soon: unless, of course, you live in a food-centric urban area that thrives on everything from fried quail to “sea beans.” Most important: how many of these trends are truly healthful and beneficial to the body’s nutrition? A few...but not many.
We’re not going to let the bee die-off sting us anymore
The E.U. is way ahead of the U.S. on the save-the-bees issue. Let’s get going! Here are two petitions to sign asking the EPA to ban the neoniconitoid products that are known to hurt bee populations:
Can your blog make a difference? Here’s a social media success story
Do we have the ultimate Wellness Warrior for you! Her name is Renee Shutters and she took on the food dyes that go into candies like M&Ms. She and Vani Hari, a blogger known as the Food Babe
, are crusaders. You’ll be inspired.
The Fast Food Frontline
Resolution: Fight for Living Wages
The battle for living wages for fast food workers
is far from over, and it is yet another example of how corporate involvement in our food system is problematic. This interview with a person who has been working in fast-food for almost twenty years, shows how difficult it can be to provide for a family on $8 an hour and what drove her to get involved by speaking out.
Resolution: Respond Carefully to Innovations
Be it Taco Bell’s waffle taco, KFC’s to-go cup that fits in your car’s cup holder, or an all-day breakfast available at McDonald’s, fast food companies have been racking their brains to market products this year. While some of these trends seem innocuous, they are all designed to get more customers in faster. Also, of note, check out how some fast-food chains are using E-Z Pass like technology
to help you pay faster, and how one restaurant will deliver high speed food through pneumatic tubes
. Keep an eye out for these developments and try to fall prey to them with disciplined moderation.
Have elevated blood glucose? Try some cinnamon...
If you’re one of the 25 million Americans
diagnosed with diabetes, or one of the 80 million
others who have elevated fasting blood-glucose levels (a condition known as pre-diabetes), you may want to consider adding more cinnamon in your diet. That’s because cinnamon lowers fasting blood glucose, according to a recent meta-analysis
by Paul Davis
, a research nutritionist at the University of California, Davis, which appears in the Journal of Medicinal Food. Additional evidence
suggests cinnamon can also help lower lipid levels, including LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. But along with the benefits comes a warning. Some individuals are sensitive to coumarin, a naturally occurring ingredient found in cassia cinnamon, the variety most widely found in the U.S. You can avoid consuming too much coumarin by switching to Ceylon cinnamon, a milder variety that comes from a related tree. Learn more about the health benefits of cinnamon on NPR
. And be sure to check out our Tasty section below for a recipe that uses cinnamon to create a spice and herb rub for lamb loin.
Dogs have good “bugs”
Your child’s GI tract may actually benefit from a healthy “dose” of anti-asthma protective bacteria that arrives in the gut via the presence of Rover. This is a 180-degree turn from most of our thinking that dogs and all that hair and pet dander are major asthma triggers.
Ah, the good ol’ I’m-gonna-exercise-more-this-year motivation that arrives with yet another trip around the sun. We can all do it and do it well! But, what’s the best way to go about it? Amidst a slew of exercise-science research, NY Times writer Gretchen Reynolds pulls out the gems. This is a fantastic year-in-review article with plentiful links to pertinent discoveries and helpful tips. There’s some great stuff about how exercise affects your brain chemistry and inhibits anxiety, as well as the effectiveness of short, high-intensity workout bursts.
While you’re at it, check out this helpful little article on how many calories, on average, different types of exercise burn:
Resolution: Eat Less Sugar
Sugar (particularly the processed stuff): We all know its not great, and yet it is sooooooo hard to avoid. Instead of going cold turkey, many of us choose to limit our daily intake of sugary treats. But, how much should we go about it? Everyone’s body is different and getting to a place where you can recognize your own reactions to sugar is a great goal, but in the meantime, the American Heart Association has put out some guidelines to help us manage our intake. In some cases, the AHA recommends consuming about 7 times less than the daily national average (which by the way, is 22.2 teaspoons -- or about half a cup!).
While you’re at it, you may want to pay specific attention to how much sugar tends to be in our everyday “staple” items:
What We're Watching
Resolution: Help Build the Green Economy
Started in 2009, Farming First has been working to create a sustainable reality for food and agriculture in anticipation of the incredible population growth projected for the middle part of the 21st century. This video shares their vision for building a green economy around agriculture that reducing environmental impacts, increasing productivity ... and it actually supports the livelihood of farmers. If you become more interested, check out these 13 Highlights from Farming First’s 2013 Activity
Resolution: Watch Out for Diet Trickery
There’s lots of products out there that say that they can help us meet our weight loss/fitness/health goals. Though some of these supplements can be helpful, there are tons of them that don’t do what they say and can even cause you harm. Lindsey Gellman from The Wall Street Journal gives us some advice about how to make sure that we are getting what we are expecting.
Not just for French toast, cinnamon makes a flavorful addition to savory dishes. Whether you’re looking to capitalize on cinnamon’s health benefits (see Prevention News above) or just love the taste, try the following recipe from John Critchley, executive chef at Bourbon Steak Restaurant.
John Critchley, executive chef at Bourbon Steak Restaurant in Washington, D.C., via NPR
Lamb Loin with Baby Spinach, Golden Raisins, Preserved Lemon and Cinnamon
Yield: 4 portions
Here's the recipe from John Critchley, executive chef of Bourbon Steak in Washington, D.C. It calls for ras el hanout, a North African spice blend, and sumac, which are available at many halal markets and online.
- 2 pounds lamb loin
- 1 pound baby spinach
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons preserved lemons, chopped
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
1. Season lamb loin with ras el hanout, sumac and 1 tablespoon Saigon cinnamon and sear in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat.
2. Cook until medium rare or about 12 minutes constantly turning over medium heat.
3. Let rest on your cutting board.
4. In a mixing bowl combine the baby spinach, cinnamon, raisins and preserved lemon with olive oil and lemon juice.
5. Slice the meat and arrange on a platter.
6. Plate the salad in a bowl