Myths that mire

Perdue Perfect PortionsPerdue® Perfect Portions® infuriate me. You should see the steam coming out of my ears. First they broadcast on their package front “No Hormones or Steroids Added.” So how’s this – taken directly from the USDA: Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.” Oh yes, I see that little symbol on the front of the package now! Sneaky Pete.

Another reason I’m pissed. Look at the weight of this chicken. 1.5 lbs. Count the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. 5. Divide. Each portion weighs in at 4.8 oz. Perfect? The DASH diet recommends 6 ounces or less of lean meats, poultry and fish per day for a 2,000 calorie intake and usually suggests a 3 oz portion at lunch and dinner. The perfect portions are almost at an entire days’ worth of this food category. Yikes!

Oscar Mayer is super excited about their Natural Slow Roasted Turkey Breast and boast in their ad that “Some things are full of hormones, we’re not!” Well  now, re-read the above – hormones are not allowed in raising poultry, aka turkey, period per federal regulations. Did they think we didn’t know turkey is poultry??

Fifty 50 Peanut ButterFifty 50 brand low glycemic peanut butter (without added sugar, appropriate for low glycemic diet). Hmph. Well, I give them credit for giving half their profit to fund diabetes research and adding no sugar, yet hydrogenated vegetable oil (rapeseed, cottonseed, soybean) is the 2nd ingredient. Aren’t hydrogenated fats bad for us? Also at issue for dietitians are foods that target a particular population. Who even knows what a low glycemic index diet is? Not picking on this brand alone …

Another caveat. Reduced fat peanut butter adds, wait for it, sugar! And Skippy’s 25% reduced fat peanut butter is not peanut butter at all. Federal regulations mandate there be a certain amount of nuts in the jar to be peanut butter. If not enough nuts, it’s known as peanut butter spread or peanut spread. Peanuts contains polyunsaturated fats (and no, there is never cholesterol in plant foods except palm and coconut oils), known to be healthier than saturated fat so there’s not too much to worry about unless you eat the entire jar!

Watch for other sugar names in nut butters like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and molasses (just because the label touts ‘organic,’ remember, sugar is still sugar), and look for added fat, usually palm oil, which is a vegetable-based saturated fat source or those fats listed above. Watch, too, for fillers like soy protein, and unnecessary vitamins like folic acid, zinc, and magnesium.

Natural is another label word that entices consumers to purchase without a guilty conscience but what does it really mean – besides pissing me off again? According to the USDA, natural is “a product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as “no artificial ingredients; minimally processed”). Well, I prefer my products to be close-t0-the-source in the first place – leave off Natural, it’s confusing.

Last, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) just busted Simply’s juice drinks that brad “all natural, simple ingredients, honestly simple.” Yep. Sugar is simple. So is water. That’s 90% of their beverage. 10% is juice and natural (there we go again) flavors. Also blasted Jimmy Dean’s Rise and Shine On breakfast sandwich’s real ingredients – glad to know the mostly white flour, tapioca starch, carrageenan, and caramel color, among other ingredients, are REAL. Special K cereals are more white flour than whole grain and filled with 2 teaspoons sugar per serving despite their not-so-special ads.

There you have it. Just a few examples of misleading the public, enticing spending money on false pretenses. Send me more! Scour your grocer’s shelves and send more erroneous label statements.

Southwest customers of size

extra_seat_whos_flyingIt’s refreshing to know that Southwest honors their customers of size with a complimentary second seat. Encouraging customers to purchase two seats as they plan their vacation takes away the stress of finding out once boarded. The second seat price will be refunded at the end of the trip. Pre-boarding is encouraged so customers may select the two seats of their choice. And, seat belt extenders are offered with delight – all for our comfort!

Let’s raise a glass for Southwest being on the “right” side!


Beat the Summer Heat in the Kitchen

untitled-shoot_20140706-21Summer! A glorious time of fresh air, beaches, hikes through nature, and…sweltering heat and humidity? Often, the heat index in summer can discourage us from eating well because we just don’t want to cook! Here are some tips for beating the summer heat.

  1. Eat food in the raw!

If you don’t cook your food, you won’t have to suffer in a hot kitchen. Eat raw vegetables and fruits whenever you can so you’re still getting nutritious, whole foods without cooking. It’s the perfect way to take advantage of the delicious product that’s available during this time of year. Savor the flavor of mouth-popping blueberries, juicy peaches and plums, and decadent cherries. Munch on crispy carrots and fresh cucumbers mixed with dark leafy greens. Breakfast berries add color, chicken or tofu in a green salad for lunch ups the protein, and balsamic and olive oil drizzled on sliced tomatoes, red onion and cucumber as a dinner side dish ups the fancy ante. Keep foods fresh, crunchy, and chilled for the ultimate refreshment in the summer heat. Tip: For those spinach and other lettuce leaves and carrots that wilted and wimped out, toss in a large bowl, cover with cold water and let set for a few hours. They’ll plump back out!

  1. Cook in the great outdoors

There’s no reason why you need to be stuck in the kitchen. Take the food prep outside to the grill! To make a summertime burrito, grill some tofu or chicken, and bell peppers and onions wrapped in aluminum foil on the grill as well. You will end up with delicious fajita veggies to add to a whole-wheat wrap. Spoon fresh chilled salsa and avocado on top. Roll up and you have an easy hot weather meal!

  1. Pack a sandwich

Cold sandwiches in hot weather equal sheer pleasure. Use unprocessed sandwich meat, tuna, canned salmon, tofu, tempeh, or a veggie burger. Top with fresh greens, tomatoes, and your favorite condiments then bring your delicious creation to the beach or on a hike. Use an ice pack, and bring easy snacks like a small bag of nuts and a banana or peach.


  1. Smooth moves!

A smoothie can be a delicious all-in-one meal no-cook meal! Place a couple of handfuls of spinach or romaine into the bottom of a blender, add 12 ounces of filtered water, almond milk or low-fat milk, and throw in whatever fruits you have – fresh or frozen like frozen berries, frozen mangoes, and frozen cherries. Add chia seeds or almonds for extra healthy fats and protein. Drink up!

  1. Stay hydrated

In the sweltering summer months, remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Keep an insulated water bottle by your side to sip on throughout the day. Eat water-filled foods such as watermelon and cantaloupe. Brew unsweetened herbal iced tea. Make sure that you’re upping your fluid intake if you’re outside in the heat for an extended period of time or if you’re being particularly active.

Contributed by Louisa Paine, brand new and smart dietitian!


Shame on you!

A chick is bornEvery crack is also an opening… begins the lovely poem by Mark Nepo. It was read out loud at grown-up sleep-away camp in Albuquerque where I, along with 24 other eager beavers, worked on the shame carried deep within. Lovingly dubbed “Shame Camp” by last year’s attendees, each of us met our internal shame carried by the parts of us that were wounded as young ones by an unintentional – or perhaps intended – event involving an adult. In our little, uninformed minds and purest of hearts, we made meaning about words or deeds that felt wrong, painful and shameful so that we could survive with the hurt, fear, guilt and worthlessness we felt afterwards. In so doing, we unwittingly locked away our vulnerable and sensitive feelings so that we felt safe and held within our internal system. At times, adults let us down and as humans, we have the capacity to survive most anything.

Perhaps you were one of us whose teacher expressed dislike for us. Or were teased by the pretty kids about wearing glasses or being a geek, or separated from the group by an adult leader because you couldn’t contain your affection for another classmate – you were bothering them and they deserved peace. Maybe it was bigger, a molestation or emotional and physical abuse. I wonder if you were forced to be the grown-up to care for an alcoholic or unemotionally involved parent. Maybe you felt hungry and weren’t fed because you were a picky eater and Mama didn’t believe in catering to such. In any event, we questioned ourselves. Do they like me? I think they hate me. I must’ve deserved that. This is too much for me but I have to keep doing it. I have to keep my mouth shut – I can’t tell. I don’t know why that happened – it was bad – that means I’m bad.

Until we take time to explore and listen to their stories, every time we shift behaviors to make change in our lives, whether it’s food changes, decreasing our alcohol intake, or polishing up our job skills, we stir up the sadness, worry, and frustration of our tender and younger parts that hold these mistaken beliefs formed in error. Changes lead them to believe their world is crashing around them, and they get even more excited and frenzied in their behaviors exhibited through us, now adults – binge eating, drinking, wayward sex, over-spending, isolation.

The deep inner work at adult sleep-away camp was intentional. Go inside, go deep, with compassion and curiosity, and see who needs your attention. Which part(s) of you is hurting, aching to be held, loved, noticed, seen, heard and understood? When our parts are witnessed in a loving, hopeful way, and they get to know you and you them, they lose their charge. They turn over their burdens and rest in your care. Your heart is big enough to hold each and every little part of you that exists (see tomorrow’s blog for Liz Gilbert’s story about her own parts). For now, enjoy A Chick Being Born.

A Chick Being Born ~ Mark Nepo

When in the midst of great change, it is helpful to remember how a chick is born. From the view of the chick, it is a terrifying struggle. Confined and curled in a dark shell, half-formed, the chick eats all its food and stretches to the contours of its shell. It begins to feel hungry and cramped. Eventually the chick begins to starve and feels suffocated by the ever-shrinking space of its world.

Finally, its own growth begins to crack the shell, and the world as the chick knows it is coming to an end. Its sky is falling. As the chick wriggles through the cracks, it begins to eat its shell. In that moment – growing but fragile, starving and cramped, its world breaking – the chick must feel like it is dying. Yet once everything it has relied on falls away, the chick is born. It doesn’t die, but falls into the world.

The lesson is profound. Transformation always involves the falling away of things we have relied on, and we are left with a feeling that the world as we know it is coming to an end, because it is.

Yet the chick offers us the wisdom that the way to be born while still alive is to eat our own shell. When faced with  great change – in self, in relationship, in our sense of calling – we somehow must take in all that has enclosed us, nurtured us, so when the new life is upon us, the old is within us.


Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Pumpkin muffinsStart your day with these hardy and filling muffins bursting with flavor and mellow sweetness from nature’s own maple sugar. Great afternoon snack, too. 

Yield: 12 muffins



  • Muffin liners
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (can substitute whole wheat for 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup sweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place muffin liners in muffin tray and spray each liners lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Mix dry ingredients from the flour to the cloves in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir pumpkin, almond milk and vanilla extract together in a smaller bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs together in another small bowl just until well blended. Mix eggs into wet mixture.
  5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until batter is smooth and well combined. Scoop batter into prepared muffin liners until rounded (batter is thick enough to do this.
  6. If desired, sprinkle tops with granulated sugar or bake as is in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool before removing from muffin tray.

Adapted from (October Oatmeal Pumpkin Muffins)

Each muffin contains 186 calories.


Good Measures