Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Blendtec and Our Favorite Recipe "The Green Monster"

This past Mother's Day we bought a Blendtec Blender from Costco.  I have wanted a professional style, very powerful blender for a long time.  A lot of people that eat a whole foods diet use this blender or the VitaMix.  I was unsure which one to get, but I was able to see many different things that we would make in it!

While at Costco my husband and I watch the person demonstrate it and talked about it's many benefits.  My husband was convinced, but he wanted to take a few days to think about it.  After much debate, the surrender of my hard earned Mary Kay money, plus the return of our Cuisinart blender/food processor to Costco - We purchased it!

Blendtec Total Blender

My Mother's day gift could not have been any better!  Even though it is something that my husband uses as much as I do.  About one week in, we were upstairs and he said "I feel the need to blend".  Almost like Goose from Top Gun "I feel the need...".  Hilarious!!

We are well above 100 uses!!

The kids love it and the things that we make from it!  Our Favorite recipe is an adaptation of what the display person mixed up in the store.

The Green Monster
1/2 cup water
1 cup of grapes (we like the seeded kind)
2-3 very large handfuls of spinach
1/2 cup (or so) of fresh pineapple
1 banana
1/2 an avocado
2 Tb agave nectar
1 cup of ice (about)

Put in the blender in that order, push the whole juice button, grab the glasses, when done poor and enjoy!

A few reason we chose the Blendtec over Vitamix:
  1. It has a lower profile so it fits under the kitchen counter with the pitcher on the base.
  2. I'm a sucker for fluff!  It has six preset buttons (soups/sauce, whole juice, ice crush, ice cream, etc) that automatically speed-up or slow down and then shut off after a the time is over.  "Set-it-and-forget-it"  We wouldn't have to figure out how to use the dial like the Vitamix.
  3. The blender didn't have actual blades, making it easier to get things out of the bottom (which I have only done 2 x's).  The blade is shaped like a helicopter propeller and it spins so fast it just pulverizes everything.  See note later...
  4. It didn't have the tamper and seemed to work well without it.  I do believe that it does well, we have not really needed a tamper.
  5. It was cheaper by about $25.
  6. They both had the same warranty
  7. It was on modern marvels - How cool is that?

Places for you to look at:
Blentec Website

Demonstration of the blending ability - Very cool!  They blended marbles and turned them into powder!

We really are sold, and apparently some of our family and friends are as well!  So far we have taken it on one camping trip and plan to take it with us to Colorado next week (well I plan on it).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Food Pyramid

Did you hear?  They have revamped the food pyramid again...

The first food pyramid was designed by the US Department of Agriculture in 1992, then it was updated in 2005 to a stair step type diagram.  Apparently to many people thought this design was confusing and the eating recommendations diagram have been redesigned again.

This time into the shape of a plate.  This is a great visual aid to see clearly how much of your plate should be devoted to each food group.  Grains play a large part, as well as vegetables and fruits.  It does not focus on portion size or control though, maybe they are saving that for the next revision...

The New Plate Diagram from the USDA

ChooseMyPlate.gov is a great resource with a lot of information.  It includes, food groups, tip and resources, games and activities for children, and a lot of general information.

Yes - I know this is a government organization.  Yes - I know this is not a great solution for eating healthy.  Yes - I know, I know, I know... But I do like to see something being done that is a pretty good representation - too bad they had to spend $2 million getting there!

History Trivia - Do you know where the original food pyramid came from?  Sweden!  That's right it is another example that strikes down the theory that the US is the best and leading the way in research and recommendations.  Also the Swede's came up with a plate diagram, oh... about 19 years ago!!!

The Swedish plate model has three portions cut like pie pieces, two big and one smaller.  Click here to see the Swedish plate model with a brief description of how to use it.  I like their version / recommendations the best and think that it gives a great discussion of how to change the portions of each type of food, why you would want more of one type than another and so on.

From Sweden's National food Administration

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What is MSG? How Do I Eliminate MSG?

Everyone remembers the craze about a decade ago... "Avoid Asian food it contains MSG"

Most of us didn't know much about MSG back then, I venture to say most of still don't know much about MSG today.  MSG, Monosodium glutamate, is a food additive that enhances the flavor of what could otherwise be a bland meal.  It is a plant derived chemical additive.

MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, an amino acid (non-essential to our bodies).  It is in a category of salts called glutamates.  These are used by our bodies for a reaction process called the citric acid cycle.  Glutamate is a very potent neural transmitter.  It also is responsible for the flavor sensation "umami", one of the five taste that we sense.

So what is the big deal about something that our body makes and uses and occurs naturally in plants?

MSG, the flavor enhancer that is added to our foods, is made by fermenting carbohydrates with yeast or bacteria.  This alone can give some people cause to worry or irritate those with a sensitivity to yeast.

Although hotly debated and researched, there are no great studies that can show conclusively that this, excitotoxin, is good or bad for you.  Several studies have shown that a certain percentage of the population may be sensitive to the free glutamate acid.  No studies have shown an over whelming societal impact on symptoms such as

  • -          Headaches
    -          Flushing
  • -          Tingling in face or hands
  • -          Disturbing the heart rhythm
  • -          May cause heart attacks
  • -          A growth resource for cancer
  • -          Disturbs hormone production
  • -          Causes obesity
  • -          Disturb the growth in children
  • -          Children may develop learning problems
  • -          Behavior impairments
  • -          Damage to the retina
  • -          Increased Alergies
  • -          May be linked to many disorders like MS, or other neurological disorders

Some people link MSG as one of those downfalls that are making us hold onto fat.  Will we ever know the truth about what all the things we eat do to our bodies? Can we say definitively that this one ingredient is a major contributor to so many things.

I have not done or read a lot of research on MSG, just a little.  I can say though that I have learned that MSG in several of it's forms will bring on a guaranteed migraine for me.  I think each person must make a decision on the facts and information that they have available to them, that may include an elimination diet.  I believe that this is the only way that you can truly tell the difference - don't eat it for a length of time to allow you body to clean that item out and reset/heal itself, then try it a little at a time to see if you have a reaction.

I  love BBQ chips (not a good food I know) and I would have them a few times a week if I could.  I have learned that if I eat them, just a few, about 3-4 hours later I will get a migraine.  MSG is called or labeled many different things (list later) and I have noticed that a some of these can also cause me to have terrible headaches or migraines.  So I have learned to avoid them, and really do my best to read all the labels and not purchase such things.

I began eliminating all MSG about 18 months ago.  It is very hard!  It is in almost everything and almost every restaurant uses it.  When we started asking the managers if they used it, what I cold have without it, and could they prepare other items without it - our eyes were opened.  They put it on almost everything!  It is in the seasoning on the meat, it is in the salad dressing, it's in the butter for your bread, it is in the oil that they put on the grill to cook, it can be the oil they add to the vegetables.  It really is everywhere!

A few days ago it struck me that we purchase some items for the children (or rather my spouse does) that have one of these ingredients in them.  If it's not something I'm going to eat why should I be willing to give it to the rest of my family?  Interesting thought!  We will be working more closely the next few weeks to eliminate MSG in all it's forms from out diet.

Here is a list of most of the items that I look for and avoid.  These may be a different way of labeling MSG, an ingredients that sometimes (or always) contains MSG, or something that will create MSG in your body.

Monosodium glutamate, glutamate, accent seasoning, natural flavor enhancers, natural and artificial flavors, soy protein, soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein or HVP, yeast extract, autolyzed proteins, vegetable protein extract, hydrolyzed vegetable oil, E621, calcium caseinate, modified food starch, maltodextrin, any broth or stock, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate.

Be aware that even though the product states it contains no MSG, or NO MSG added, it may still contain the free glutamate - which essentially is what MSG is in the food anyway.  Some of the above are examples of free glutamate.

If you wold like more information - I have found these sites to be a great resource.