Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Thirsty?

I like to read books. Especially one’s that give me useful information. As I was strolling through the library for unnecessary reading material not for school, I stumbled upon “Drink this, Not that.” I love these “Eat this, Not that” books so of course I was intrigued. Here’s some useful information I think we can all use, especially us alcoholics.

If you are going to drink vegetable juice or use some in your Bloody Marys, V8 is always best. V8 is actually better for you than real straight up tomato juice even. Why? Because it includes an expansive list of nutrients and an 8-ounce glass provides two servings of fruits and vegetables. This is heaven to my ears since I can’t even find it in myself to put tomatoes on my sandwich. More interesting? V8 Fusion is tastier but still good for you. It’s 50 calories per serving and each calorie comes from a blend of sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, pomegranates and blueberries. Nice. One more interesting thing? V8 Splash is bad for you. The book says it is “unfit to carry the V8 brand name. It’s made with artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup and a pathetic 10% juice.” Of course V8 Splash was the one I liked, but that’s just how my life has been going lately.

Another devastating blow? Rice milk is bad for you too. Fudge me. I don’t really enjoy drinking cow milk because I love my dairy cows but I do love the taste of cow’s milk. That’s why I love rice milk. It tastes just like skim milk and I always thought it was awesome that it was made from rice…how healthy! Nope. The book crushed all my dreams by telling me “You can’t expect the milk to be more nutritious than the grain that produced it, and that rule is best illustrated by rice milk. Rice consists of mostly starch, a carbohydrate that quickly breaks down to sugar in the body. Likewise, rice milk is the most carbohydrate-rich of all common nondairy milks.” Sweet. I’ve been DRINKING my carbs too! Wow. I’m an idiot.  So now my husband can say “told you so!” since he’s been trying to convert me to almond milk for months. Husband 1 Wife 0. Damnit.

Now, onto the important stuff: beer.

If you are going to drink Domestic beer my lovely Rolling Rock Extra is a winner! Hallelujah! It is one of the lowest calorie beers. 132 calories to be exact. You want better than that? I gotchu. My favorite grandma drink that everyone makes fun of me for drinking is Michelob Ultra. But I don’t care because it only has 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs. Holla! Miller Lite is pretty awesome too, at 96 calories and 3.2 grams of carbs. The lowest though is MGD 64 (Miller Genuine Draft 64) at 64 calories and 2.4 grams of carbs. How come no one has introduced us before? Now if you want your fancy imported beer, the “healthiest” beer is going to be Becks Light, which is pretty good I have to say myself and has 64 calories and 4 grams of carbs. Another good one? Yummy Amstel Light at 95 calories and 5 grams of carbs.

That was the best of the best. Here’s the worst of the worst. For Domestics, Budweiser American Ale is your worst enemy. A bottle carries 182 calories and 18.1 g of carbs. Holy guacamole. My husband’s fave Sam Adams Boston Lager comes in second at 170 calories and 18 g carbs. Ha! Husband 1, Wife 1. For light beer drinkers Michelob Light is the worst at 123 calories and 8.8 carbs. You might as well switch to my Ultra. Also bad? Bud Light and Bud Light Lime. For imports Guinness Extra Stout (176 cals, 14 carbs) and Heineken (166 cals, 9.8 carbs) were the worst. Corona also made the bad list. Sadness.

If you are intrigued so far, you should get the book because I only highlighted what was important to me. I thankfully don’t consume coffee, pop, tea or juice. Most other people do, so this book explains and compares many gazillion brands of drinks. It also goes into wine and spirits. 😉 Also important to me, but I don’t have all day to write about alcohol. Maybe if someone paid me. Anyways, get the book because it’s awesome. It runs about $20 at the bookstore or be cheap like me and get it at the library. For those of you unwilling to spend $20 on a book but have accidentally gone to the bar when it wasn’t Happy Hour and spent $20 on two margaritas, you may want to reevaluate your priorities. Not judging, just saying from one alcoholic to another.

Cheers!

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Are you on my level?

Here we go all. Day 1 of my lifestyle change. So as if it’s not already bad enough that it’s Monday and I have a night class tonight, I also am embarking on healthy eating. So far? Blah! Breakfast consisted of bran cereal that tasted like literally nothing with almond milk. (I used to be a HUGE avocet of rice milk…but more about that later.) So far, so bland. But that’s alright. It’s a step in the right direction. I may even eat a fruit for my morning snack today. Yes sir, you read it here first, I am going to eat a piece of fruit. (For any of you who don’t really know me, I am a vegetarian that eats very little vegetables. And almost no fruit. The fruitiest thing in my diet is wine.)

So as I jump forth into this new territory of conscious eating I had to have some sort of backbone and goal to motivate me through this. I found a pretty cool book called “Eating for Health” which is part of the Teach Yourself series and is written by Sara Kirkham. In it I found a little quiz that tells you which level you are at on the “health scale.” At one end of the spectrum, 1 is Junk and 10 is Optimum Nutrition. Ideally you want to be at a 10. I am between a 4 and 5. That’s freaking’ terrible.

Anyways, the chapter goes on to describe how to achieve a 10, or at least how to try to achieve a 10. Our bodies, as well as any other changes we want to achieve, can only adjust in stages. So I need to make realistic goals. I can only aim to make a few changes to move to the next level. Bottom line…I’m not going to be at 10 by the end of the week. So what realistic goals do I have for this week?
1. No alcohol.
2. Consume at least one serving of fruit and at least two servings of veggies a day. (We’re suppose to eat like 5+ servings of this stuff a day, but hey, I said realistic goals.)
3. No white icky carbs like donuts, cakes, etc.
4. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
5. No use of the salt shaker.

Let’s see how today goes. I already am bored, but I need to redirect my thinking. I eat to live, not live to eat! Here’s the quiz from the book…see what level you’re at!

How many servings of fruit and vegetables do you eat a day?
a. One or less, and unlikely to be fresh
b. 2-3
c. 4-5
d. 5+

How much water do you drink each day?
a. none
b. only if I am thirsty, or in coffee and tea
c. A couple glasses a day
d. 8+ glasses

What sort of carbs do you eat?
a. Croissants, doughnuts, cakes
b. French bread, white bread, white rice
c. Grain breads
d. Whole wheat/whole grain bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta

What type of proteins do you eat regularly?
a. Ground beef, processed deli meats, hot dogs
b. Yogurts, milk, cheese, meat products such as bacon and sausage
c. Mainly red meats including pork, lamb
d. Mainly fresh fish, soy, nuts, and/or some organic meat

What types of fat do you consume?
a. Lard, salad dressings, sauces, margarine, a lot of refined fats (biscuits, pastries, etc.)
b. Butter, vegetable oils, limited amount of refined fats
c. Vegetable oils for cooking, low fat spreads
d. Olive oil for cooking, vegetable oils for salads, no refined fats

Which of the following fibers do you eat regularly?
a. White bread, breakfast cereals (think typical kid’s cereals)
b. Bran
c. Whole wheat cereals, oatmeal
d. Fruit, veggies, brown rice, oats

How much alcohol do you drink?
a. Above 8 (10 for men) drinks weekly, drinking either every day or binge drinking on weekends
b. Between 6 to 8 (8 to 10 for men) a week
c. Between 3 to 6 for either sex
d. Under 3 a week

How many drinks of coffee, tea, or pop do you drink each day?
a. Over 6 cups (are you crazy?)
b. 3-5 cups
c. 1-2 cups
d. None

How often do you eat sweets, refined convenience/ready-made foods?
a. In every meal or several times a day
b. At least once a day
c. Few times a week
d. Rarely

How many meals do you eat each day?
a. I often miss meals and have coffee and/or snacks instead
b. One of two meals, I usually miss breakfast and eat more later in the day
c. Usually 3 meals a day, including breakfast
d. I eat throughout the day including breakfast and healthy snacks

 

How’d ya score?

Mostly a’s: Place on the optimum nutrition scale: 2-3. You do need to change your diet. You need to limit the use of convenience foods, reducing salt and sugar intake, and drinking less coffee, tea and/or alcohol. Increase your servings of fruit and vegetables and eat regularly through out the day.

Mostly b’s: 4-5. Some changes need to be made. Look at the questions which you answered b or a and try to improve specifically on those areas. Altering different areas of your diet slowly without too many drastic changes is the best way to adopt a healthy diet and improve your health.

Mostly c’s: 6-7. You eat better than most people but would still benefit from a few more changes. Most of your diet is fairly healthy but you may want to cut back on coffee, tea, alcohol or sugar. Address specific questions that you answered a, b, or c to.

Mostly d’s: 7+ Well done. You are already close to eating an optimum nutrient diet. Look back at the questions you answered a, b, or c to and improve on those particular aspects of your diet.

See you tomorrow-Happy Monday!

 

Fast Food Nation

Last night I had the extreme pleasure of viewing the movie Fast Food Nation for the very first time. Let me tell you, if you haven’t seen this movie, you must! I was only a tad reluctant because the movie got very mixed reviews. Many of the reviews I read on my beloved Netflix were terrible. People we’re complaining that the movie should have been made into a documentary instead but I disagree. I thought the movie was well made. In defense, the way I see it is that not many people enjoy documentaries. I in fact, love them, but I know that many people find them to be boring, slow, long, etc. Therefore taking the matter of slaughterhouses, the fast food industry, the meat industry, immigration and activism and putting it into a fictional plot seems like a good idea to me. I find that people who cannot bear to sit and watch documentaries can watch a movie that has a plot, storyline and characters that they can identify with.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, it is a movie following a few different people’s lives who are all somehow affected by the meat/fast food industry. We follow around a business man who works for Mickey’s, a fast food chain, a high school girl who works at Mickey’s while becoming friends with college activists, and an illegal immigrant couple who come to America and end up working at Mickey’s beef supplier. It stars many people, including Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Wilmar Valderama, Avril Lavinge and Bruce Willis.

For whomever out there that wants to see this movie in documentary form, there is a version, called Food, Inc. This documentary is great, and was one of the first movies I saw that really concreted my decision of giving up meat. It shows you a behind the scenes look at slaughterhouses, worker conditions for immigrants and nonimmigrants, and also describes all the preservatives and hormones that you are consuming when you eat industrialized meat.

The book that both films are based off of is New York Time’s bestseller, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. The book takes you behind the scenes to what we are really eating when we eat beef from our favorite fast food restaurants. It goes into detail about the “flavorings” that make our beef taste “cajun” or “smoked,” shows us what ingredients are in our foods, where our food comes from, and who touches our food before it gets to us. There are insights, interviews, and so much more…I love it. Because of this book, which I read many years ago, I no longer consume McDonald’s strawberry milkshake-it has over 30 ingredients and 50% of them are chemicals. Yum!

For anyone who either doesn’t have the time or patience for reading Fast Food Nation, Schlosser (along with Charles Wilson) wrote a second book, called Chew on This, which is a tamer, shorter version of Fast Food Nation. It was made to aim at teenagers and younger people, but with the same concept-to educate people on the fast food industry. I have yet to read this but plan on doing so soon.

So in conclusion, I have to recommend both films, the fictional Fast Food Nation and the documentary Food, inc. Both will broaden your horizon and knowledge on the meat and fast food industry. I feel better just knowing where meat comes from, and it helps me remember why I don’t consume it. For anyone who is reluctant because they do want to consume meat, don’t fret, just go organic. Food, Inc. will show you how a chicken is killed in a slaughterhouse versus how they are killed on a local farm. Good stuff folks.

Peace!

Other good, similar films to check out:

‘That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals!’

I was at the cabin a few weekends ago and the family made some ribs, steaks and hot dogs. Instead, I had my salad and beans. My darling 7 year old niece, E, asked me “What is steak?” As she chewed it up.
“It’s cow,” I replied.
“WHAT!?” She looked like I told her that she just ate a puppy. Which I don’t see the difference of anyways.
“Yeah, a cow. Like moo.” I then preceded to tell her the ribs on her plate were pig, much to her parents’ dismay. (Hey. She asked first.) She didn’t know that either. Then my 10 year old nephew M piped in “It’s okay E. They were made for us to eat. It’s normal.”
Hmm. “What makes you think that?” I challenged him. (Poor kids, having me for an aunt.)
“I don’t know. I just know we eat animals.” M replied.
“M, do you go to the zoo?” I asked him. He nodded. “Do you eat those animals? Do you eat zebras and giraffes?”
“No…” Something inside him clicked. “That’s weird! How come we eat farm animals but not zoo animals?” He was intrigued now.
“Good question. I guess we think it’s normal to eat farm animals. But it’s not really. Would you eat a dog?” I asked.
M and E both started freaking out. “No! Gross! Sick!”
“Well you know some places like China eat dogs.” I told them.
Again, “No! Gross! Sick!”
“Well…they think it’s normal. Just like how you think it’s normal to eat cows, chickens and pigs.”
“But it’s not normal!” M protested.
“Well, then I guess eating cows, chickens and pigs aren’t normal than either.” I simply replied. Both of them nodded. I don’t think I converted anyone into vegetarianism that night but at least the topic was discussed. That’s the thing, kids don’t know what they are eating. They have no idea! They consume meat from such a young age that they don’t realize the connection between the farm animals they  meet at the County Farm and the meat on their plate. And really, that’s not too fair. To the animals or to them. And the thing is, kid’s are intelligent and compassionate enough to be able to know and decide if they want to eat it or not. Of course there’s always a lot of turmoil with parents who eat meats who breed children who don’t want to…but there shouldn’t be. To each their own.

This topic struck me as important so I went searching to see if there were any sources for kids to look at if they are interested in knowing where their food comes from. There really isn’t too much. The one book that I did find though, is a great one. I love it. It’s called That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals; A Book Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things written and illustrated by Ruby Roth. Roth is a young artist and art teacher living in Los Angeles. A vegan since 2003, Roth was teaching art in an after-school program when the children’s interest in healthy foods and veganism first inspired her to write That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals. It’s a fantastic picture book totally appropriate (and designed) for kids, while still providing information adults don’t even know. Roth addresses the topic of animals in a light manner, with cute pictures and easy vocabulary. She briefly describes how animals have families just like us, feelings just like us, and deserve a life just like us. It’s cute, touching, provides good information and shows kids why meat isn’t necessary. Roth also does it in a kid friendly way, so don’t worry, its not like the book is describing slaughterhouses, or cows legs being hacked off (which is what truly is happening).  Jane Goodall, a PHD, DBE says it best, “This is a powerful and important book. Farm animals have emotions similar to our pets and this is conveyed in Roth’s enchanting illustrations. It will make children – and their parents – think. But it will not lead to nightmares, rather respect and compassion for the creatures whose wellbeing is in our hands.” I enjoyed the book a lot, and already know that this will be a book I read to my own child. After checking the book out I decided to look into Roth and her website, http://www.wedonteatanimals.com, and adored it. It, like the book, is packed with Roth’s cute illustrations, detailed information and advice on everything kids and their families need to know about animals and vegetarianism. It’s lovely. Please check it out, I highly recommend it!

Watch this video! It is so good…at least make sure you watch the end…the girl is so cute!

More Pics!

Don’t be Clueless about ‘The Kind Diet’

One of the best books that I’ve read in the past year is “The Kind Diet” by Alicia Silverstone. A lot of people literally judged this book by it’s cover…Alicia Silverstone, the actress, is going to write a dieting book? Oh brother. At least that’s what my brother in law thought. But no, it’s nothing like that.

I have known for many years that Silverstone was a vegetarian and an activist for all things eco-friendly so I knew that this book would be knowledgeable. And also, it’s not a diet book peeps. By diet she means “lifestyle” and “what you eat daily” not just a fad diet that you try for a couple months then drop.

I had originally picked up the book just to see what she would talk about. I guessed it would be about her diet and why it works for her, and ultimately why it can work for us. Well it is that, but more importantly it is jam packed with information about animals, the factory farms, the industry, and more. Half the book is full of facts, statistics and studies, then the other half is recipes. So really it’s a cookbook too.

And it’s funky (in a good way) because the recipes are divided into three parts. She has the Flirt section, which are recipes for people who just want to flirt and experiment with a diet without dairy or meat. Then there’s the “normal” section that is filled with your many vegan dishes. Then the last section, the Superhero is hardcore recipes for the peeps who not only can handle no meat, no dairy, but also no soy, and lots and lots of veggies and fruits. This is close to the macrobiotic diet, since a lot of things are raw and the recipes focus around local grown veggies, and not ones that are flown in from around the world.

A lot of the things that I know about veganism, animal cruelty, etc. I found from this book. I give Silverstone huge props, and respect her much more now seeing how she is actively trying to make a difference. The book also touches on our natural resources, waste, the rainforest, etc. Anytime that I need a refresher and remember why I don’t consume meat, I just reread this book. It’s such a motivator and inspiration. Below is an interview Silverstone did describing her book, why she is a vegan, and what “diet” really means to her. It’s an excellent read so if you are lounging around the pool, or sitting besides the lake this summer pick up this book. I highly recommend it.