cinnamon

Although this study was done for diabetic research it has some good info on the positive impact that cinnamon has for anyone.    Thanks to spicymama’s weblog for posting it.

cinnamon

fast food boosts good cholesterol?

A recent study in Sweden asked 12 men and 6 women to eat two meals per day at a fast food restaurant over four weeks.  In addition to the expected outcome of bad things happening in the liver the researchers were surprised to find an increase in HDL or “good cholesterol” after the four weeks. 

 Article Here

hickory farms

A couple of foods are staples in my house during the Superbowl. Chili, which is going to be a future entry, and a hickory farms beef stick to snack on. In keeping with my effort to see if I can sacrifice fat but not flavor I picked up a hickory farms turkey summer sausage instead.

The first thing I noticed is that the turkey versions come in a few different flavors. A little red flag went 21_t.jpgup when I saw this because I wondered if they were trying to “enhance” the flavor of the turkey version by adding something. In the beef version all we need is the smoked meat goodness but for the turkey one I was forced to choose something with added honey and brown sugar or jalapeno.

Turns out my red flag was right. The first thing I noticed was the color, it seemed a little to light for a smoked meat product and the texture just didn’t have that snap that I have come to expect from hickory farms. For me there was no comparison between the turkey summer sausage and the traditional beef stick. Overall the turkey version was edible, it was just a completely different product and not something I’ll be including in future Superbowl menus.

The one thing you can’t ignore about the two though is the comparison in fat. Looking at 2oz of both products the regular beef stick has 190 calories with 150 of them from fat including 9 grams of Sat Fat and 1 gram of Trans Fat. The turkey version, however, has a more modest 90 calories with 30 of it from Fat including 1 gram of Sat Fat and no Trans Fat. Those numbers do show a huge difference but honestly I would just skip the turkey stick and eat more chili, salsa and guacamole all of which are tasty and if prepared right good for you.

cholesterol drugs over the counter?

I came across an article on another wordpress blog that I thought was interesting.  Link   Looks like Merck, who is a very large drug company, is trying to get it’s cholesterol lowering drug available over the counter.   Lovastatin was the first statin approved by the FDA in 1987 and because it was approved so long ago it is now available in generic.  So having it sold over the counter would give Merck the ability to make a lot of money off of this product again.   I don’t really have an opinion on that one way or another but I did find something interesting when doing a quick search to compare Merck’s product with Lipitor.   Comparison Chart

This study compared a bunch (the merck one is lovastatin listed in the chart as Mevacor, Altocor and Altoprev) and found that it didn’t rank very high compared to some of the newer statin drugs.    I’m not sure we will get to a point where cholesterol drugs will be sold over the counter, but I’ll continue to monitor this and give an update if there is one.

recipe corner – chipolte salad dressing

For Christmas my wife got a Magic Bullet.   For those of you that haven’t seen the infomercial it is basically a blender that looks like…well a bullet.   I have to say that I was sceptical of this little gizmo but since starting to play with it a few weeks ago it is my new favorite kitchen appliance.   This weekend we had friends over and I made the whole menu out of the Magic Bullet.    Hummus, Bean Dip, Salad Dressing, Spaghetti Sauce, Garlic Spread for Bread and Chocolate Mousse…oh and Margaritas!       I’m going to share the salad dressing that really came out great.   I adapted it out of a Mexican cookbook that I have.  It has a little kick so if you are sensitive to that you may want to experiment with the chipoltes.

Into the bullet went:

1/4 of a red onion

3 tbls balsamic

1 teaspoon oregano

1-2 chipoltes (canned with a little of the sauce)

juice of half a lime

1/4 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

Bullet until dressing like.     Add olive or vegetable oil until you get to the consistency you want (stirring as you go) and shake to combine.  Obviously a blender or food processor will work just fine, but you can’t say “abracadabra” as it blends.   Well, you can say that but you’ll just sound stupid.

plant sterols (part two)

A few posts ago I compared a few products that include plant sterols to see which one was the better buy.  Link   During that post I mentioned how people looking for plant sterols now have some options on how they want to include it.   How?  If you look at the back of the Minute Maid orange juice discussed in that post you will see a little logo for something called Corowise which, turns out, is the secret to this super duper juice.

Corowise is a product made by Cargill Health Food Technologies and is a concentrated form of plant sterols which they can put into either a pill form or into other food.    Going to the Corowise website it appears that you’ll soon be able to get your twice daily plant sterols in everything from cheese to granola bars and this is a good thing for consumers.   The reason?    Competition.   When I only really had the option of taking Active shots I might have been willing to pay the premium price. But, when I also see I can get it in orange juice, maybe I become less likely to pay so much.   Now, thanks to Corowise branching out I can get it in store brand Kroger milk, Nature Valley granola bars, Orowheat bread, dark chocolate muffins, Rice milk, cheese and of course vitamins.

The key when looking at these products is to read how much is included in each serving to make sure you are taking enough of it to make a difference.   But, you can easily mix and match throughout the day or week so you don’t get stuck drinking 8oz glasses of OJ everyday for the rest of your life.   I’m going to try and include as many of these as I can over the next month and we’ll see if it makes a difference in my cholesterol.

in defense of food

I was at Costco today and stumbled across a book by Michael Pollan called “In Defense of Food : Eat Food, Not to Much, Mostly Plants.”   The title struck me funny so I picked it up and flipped through it really quick.    The part I happened to flip to made me laugh out loud so I thought I would share.   

Pollan was writing about the overabundance of food additives and he used bread as an example.  I didn’t buy the book or write anything down, but basically he had an ingredient comparison of Sara Lee Soft and Smooth 100% Whole Wheat Bread to a Wheat Bread your Grandmother would make.   My Grandmother knew dinner was done when the smoke alarm went off; so I’m going to pretend by finding a normal Wheat Bread recipe available at Cooks.com. 

The fictitious Grandmothers ingredients are:

yeast, water, honey, olive oil, eggs, whole wheat flour and salt.

And now our friend Sara Lee’s version care of Safeway.com

Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Wheat Gluten, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Yeast. Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Calcium Sulfate, Brown Sugar, Vegetable Oil (Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oils), Salt, Butter (Cream, Salt), Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of the Following: Mono and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Mono and Diglycerides, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Enzymes), Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate), Corn Starch, Guar Gum, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Distilled Vinegar, Natural Flavor, Beta-Carotene (Color), Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour.
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I guess Grandma was out of Ammonium Sulfate and Soy Lecithin when she made her version.  Also I had to chuckle when spell check kicked back seven of the words in the list as not exisiting.   My favorite though is the ingredient “Natural Flavor” if it is natural why do I need to add it?   I’m not picking on poor Sara, I’m sure most bread you find in the store has a similar list.   It does, however, make me pause and wonder if some of the health issues facing the population today are advanced due to this long list of ingredients for a fairly simple product.   I just might try and make bread this weekend.