Everyone knows that most restaurant food is not great for you, health-wise. Chances are you can make just about anything on the menu at home with more nutritional value and less fat, calories, etc. Of course, that’s not why we go to restaurants and like everything it’s all about moderation. Moderation is a hard guideline to live by, however, if you’ve got no real clue what you’re eating any many restaurants are responding to the shift in more health conscious consumers by including nutritional information on their menu.

A recent study, however, found that the average calorie count for food was 18 percent higher than the given amount; just shy of the FDA’s 20 percent limit.

Take, for instance, a serving of plain, dry toast from a Denny’s somewhere around Boston that the lab found had 283 calories, 192 percent more than the 97 figure from the restaurant chain.

A little disconcerting for those of us that try to keep our intake in check when eating out and something to be aware of in the future.

Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/01/restaurant_calories_counts.html

Here’s some interesting information on how our society is changing because of our eating habits. Apparently the US military has to 150,000 potential recruits a year due to their weight making them unfit for battle.

Curt Gilroy, the Pentagon’s director of accessions, told the Army Times that “[k]ids are just not able to do push-ups, [a]nd they can’t do pull-ups. And they can’t run.”


E. Coli Still A Valid Concern?

Came across this article from the Consumerist (which in turn summarizes a New York Times article) about the ever present risk of E. Coli in US meats.  It talks about some of the cost-cutting measures taken by companies in the food industry, which includes using a variety of different sources for their meat and under-the-table dealings.

Unwritten agreements between some companies appear to stand in the way of ingredient testing. Many big slaughterhouses will sell only to grinders who agree not to test their shipments for E. coli, according to officials at two large grinding companies. Slaughterhouses fear that one grinder’s discovery of E. coli will set off a recall of ingredients they sold to others.

Really disturbing stuff.  Costco is applauded, however for their high standard and dilgent meat testing.  Definitely something to chew on (pun intended).  Makes me appreciate my flexitarian ways!

Do Organics Taste Better?

There’s been a lot of debate and discussion over the value of organic foods since they first gained popularity years back. Many experts claim there is no additional health value from organics, though I seriously doubt the demand will decline anytime soon.

But what about taste?  I have a friend who swears the organic apples he buys from his local farmers market are better than the ones at the grocery store.  I have to admit I’ve never given it much thought; usually only buying organics if it’s on sale or if it looks really really good (or the alternative looks really really bad).

Have any of you noticed any difference?  With everything, particular fruits/veggies?

Kitchen Tips: What are Complete Proteins?

As someone who eats a largely vegetarian diet, there are a few nutritional concerns it’s important to be aware of. One of these is the topic of complete proteins. I’ve never really liked the term because it’s not used to describe an actual protein (or collection of proteins). A complete protein is a source of protein that contains an adequate amount of the essential amino acids for our dietary needs. Essential amino acids are ones our body can’t create on its own, and there are generally eight or nine of them, depending on who you ask. You need these things for your health so it’s important to eat a diet that supplies them for you.

For omnivores out there, this really isn’t a problem. Just about all animal proteins are considered complete proteins (meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese, eggs). If you’re a vegetarian, however, then you may not be be getting all you need from your daily milk, cheese and egg intake (I know I’m not). Most beans, grains and nuts are not complete proteins. Fortunately, you take just about any from one category and combine it with another and you’ve got a complete protein. Bean soup with rice, chili with corn bread…. voila! Whole protein.

So, if you’re a meat eater, rest easy knowing you’re probably doing ok. If you’re more of a vegetarian like me, then just think about how you’re eating from these three categories.