Monday, May 23, 2011

corn syrup vs sugar vs high fructose corn syrup

My top two least-liked commercials of the moment are...

a) The Dole commercial that implores us to enjoy Dole fruit cups because, "Finally, you can enjoy fruit without added sugar, artificial sweeteners, etc etc etc". I'm sorry. It's too much trouble to pick up an apple or a cup of strawberries? I wasn't aware that was suuuuuuch a challenge for people! News flash, people: it's better to eat fruit out of your own cup than god-knows-what out of a prepackaged cup. No brainer.

b) I'm sure you've seen this one: a pleasant-looking mom is totally worried because she keeps hearing how evil corn syrup is. Well, rest assured, Americans- corn syrup is just like regular syrup! The corn farmers of America promise! And commercials never lie, so definitely trust this actress playing a mother! (sarcasm, sarcasm, sarcasm.)

Listen. Corn syrup is a cheap sweetener that has made its way into virtually every processed food (another great reason to eat whole foods and cook for yourself!) So I'd like to talk just briefly about what the chief differences are between sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and regular corn syrup (and yes, there are differences between the last two!) I don't want to give corn farmers or even corn a bum rep, and it's important to know a few things for your own well-being.

SUGAR. Sugar is processed by every cell of the body. Your body turns the sugar into glucose. Yes, your body needs some sugar, because it gives us energy. I do not mean go eat a candy bar and say I told you to. Processed sugar has zero nutrients, it does nothing to help you out. Fruit, dairy, vegetables, even meat... your body turns these foods into glucose and gives you the nutrients and minerals that you need. So yes- while it's true your body processes sugar into glucose in a way like-minded to fruit and vegetables, you will reap no benefit from eating cane sugar. Other than the possible enjoyment you may get from a cookie.

CORN SYRUP. Used to soften the texture of things and sweeten things, corn syrup is different than HIGH-FRUCTOSE corn syrup (HFCS). Your body processes it similar to sugar; ie, it is processed by every cell of the body. It is less dangerous than HFCS, but what I said about "sugar" also applies here; you're not going to garner big benefits from eating it.

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Now here is the garbage everyone has their knickers in a twist about. With good reason. HFCS is corn syrup that has gone under an enzymatic processing, converting glucose to fructose, to desired sweetness. What is distinctly different about HFCS is that it is NOT processed by every cell in the body. The liver is made to do all the work processing HFCS. And news flash, the junk is in almost every processed food you have in your cupboard or fridge. So while it may be safe "in moderation", it could be problematic that your liver is constantly being forced to process this "sweetener" (HFCS) that is hanging out in a lot of your favorite foods.

So is "corn sugar" just like "table sugar", like industry bigs want us to believe? Maybe it's too soon to tell. Or maybe you can look around and see how bad health in this country has gotten. Personally, I'm on the side of better safe than sorry. I think fresh strawberries taste sweeter and more delicious than any Little Debbie brownie, and I like knowing that the food going into my body is there for the purpose of nurturing it and making it strong. And I am also on the side that companies are there to sell you things. If you don't buy, they have no income. So of course someone trying to sell you a product will say that their product is the best, or their product is totally safe.

I mean, just ask the tobacco companies.

until later...

"Roughly $40 billion in federal subsidies are going to pay corn growers, so that corn syrup is able to replace cane sugar. Corn syrup has been singled out by many health experts as one of the chief culprits of rising obesity, because corn syrup does not turn off appetite. Since the advent of corn syrup, consumption of all sweeteners has soared, as have people's weights. According to a 2004 study reported in the American journal of Clinical Nutrition, the rise of Type-2 diabetes since 1980 has closely paralleled the increased use of sweeteners, particularly corn syrup." ~ Gabriel Cousens

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Veggie "Fried" Rice

Today I was in the mood for some "fried rice", so this is what I scarfed down. I mean, came up with.

1/2 cup frozen (organic) peas
1 cup frozen (organic) broccoli
1 cup Seeds of Change 7-grain medley (comes pre-cooked in a microwavable pouch, but I almost always heat up in a separate container or pan- you shouldn't microwave plastic, period!)
1 egg white
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder or one glove of fresh garlic

* Sautee the peas and broccoli in a pan with some cooking spray until the frost is gone.
* Add the cup of rice mixture, as well as the seasonings.
* When everything looks cooked through and is a little sizzly, add the egg white.
* Keep mixing until the egg disperses throughout and is cooked.
* Enjoy!

I would have loved to add some fresh ginger to this if I had it... alas. I'm betting chicken or shrimp would be delish in this, too!! Also- buying frozen organic produce is a great way to save money and get the freshest vegetables. Most veggies/fruits are picked and frozen at the peak of freshness, and are even more nutritious than the so-called "fresh" stuff that has journeyed for miles. And it stays good much longer, being frozen and all!

Happy noshing...

"Rice is great if you're really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Great Big Marathon Adventure...

May 8th, 2011 marks my first completed marathon. It was absolutely the hardest thing I've ever done.

All of the warnings in the world about "when you'll hit the wall", or how overwhelming the entire experience is, or how "going out to fast" will affect you in mile 21 can not really prepare you for just the massive and epic feelings I faced Sunday morning. Elation and misery both come to mind first. Then pain. Then defeat. Then success.

I remember at 6 miles, I turned to a friend and joked, "Ok, we just ran the last 10k. Now we just have to run a 20-miler." I wish that would have worked!

But I had a very solid 20k. Hell, I had a very solid 17 miles. I believe it was the bottom of Bronson Blvd where I started wondering if I could finish this. I was less than 10 miles away from my finish, but I struggled. Both mentally and physically. My legs felt heavy. My mind felt exhausted. I smiled and waved to the people I passed, high-fived the little ones on the sidewalks, just trying to push myself along any way I could. Thank God for the crowds. They were outstanding.

I walked some. Walking in a marathon is like "breaking the seal" at the bar. You do it once, you're screwed. You do it once, and your mind makes you think you need to keep doing it over and over.

When I met my friends on Park Ave in mile 22, I had some serious doubts about how much running I'd be doing in the last 4 miles. One of my best friends met me at the top of the hill, ready to run those last four with me. I told him we'd be walking for a bit. I'm so thankful he was there, ready to walk or run with me until I found the end of the course. I literally was concentrating on the next tree. The next orange cone.

Mile 24. Never in my life would I imagine that two miles, a distance I usually run as a cool-down or a recovery jog, would be the hardest two miles I'd ever run. They felt like they took forever. We ran through the park, walked up Brook Drive Hill. I didn't feel the need to run on the hills anymore. I just had to keep moving.

At that point, my boyfriend jogged down to meet my friend and I, with just one mile to go (even though he had already run 26.2 miles himself!). We jogged down the never-ending street, with the last leg of the course in my sight.

The last bit was a blur. Cheering spectators. Photos. Friends waving and hollering. A sense of pride, of accomplishment that pushed my legs faster. I smiled. I beamed! I could see the finish, I heard my name called out as I crossed the mats. I had pushed through the despair, and finished strong despite it.

I stared those fears and doubts right in the face, and I conquered them. I couldn't be prouder of my achievement.

until later...

"It's a long, hard road and it's going to have its bumps; there are going to be times when you fall and times when you don't feel like going on anymore, times when you're just crazy tired but it takes focusing on that one step you're taking. That's what I'm trying to do with the marathon; I don't think about the miles that are coming down the road, I don't think about the mile I'm on right now, I don't think about the miles I've already covered. I think about what I'm doing right now, just being lost in the moment." ~Ryan Hall