Worst Food Awards for 2010

IHOP's Big Country Breakfast

David Zinczenko produces the “Eat This, Not That” books which show readers what foods are particularly unhealthy and what satisfying alternatives to each dish might look like.  He has published the annual list of “Worst Foods” for 2010.  Some of the big winners are dishes from P.F. Chang’s, Pizzeria Uno, Cheesecake Factory and IHOP.  I was shocked not to see my favorite culinary abomination – KFC’s Double Down – make the list.  But with the holidays fully upon us and lots of dining out for holiday parties, I thought our readers might arm themselves with this knowledge before they hit the restaurants.  Enjoy!

Is Fast Food “Less Delicious” than Slow Cooked Food?

Science has been looking into the causes of obesity in the US population.  One interesting idea is that society has grown less interested in preparing its own food.  As both sexes in the modern world typically work out of the home, food technology has improved to shorten the time it takes to prepare meals.  As a result, the meals themselves are less satisfying and Americans try to regain the satisfaction by consuming more.  When we take our time to prepare a meal from scratch, our brains perceive it as “more delicious”.  Maybe they’ve never tasted my wife’s cooking!  (Just kidding honey!)  These are interesting ideas, but really, is there any evidence to support these conclusions?  Yes!  The article linked here appeared in Wired magazine and it discusses some of the experiments scientists performed to try and get to the bottom of this question.  You’ll be surprised to learn what they’ve found.  Read it and form your own conclusion.

Mmmmmmm…. Mechanically Separated Meat

I publish stories here from time to time about different food products, recipes and dietary information because I think as professionals enterring the healthcare field, it behooves you to be aware of such things.  Also, it never fails to amaze me how poorly the general public pays attention to such issues.  In this installment of “Ewwww, Gross! Are You Gonna Eat That?” I link you to the story behind some of our society’s favorite foods and the sickening process used to manufacture them.  I am talking about hot dogs, baloney and chicken nuggets.  Click here to see some appalling pics of the output of a process known as “mechanically separated meat”, a moniker that I myself have laughed about seeing on food packaging in the past.  Let me also say by way of disclaimer, that I am overweight and enjoy (in sparing quantities) hot dogs, some processed meats and chicken nuggets.  However, I do try to keep them from being regular diet items.  For me, its good, fresh, locally produced foods – just in too much quantity – that are the problem.  Anyhow, these images and the article they adorn may finally dissuade me from any meats not locally procured.

Mindfulness: Take Time to Think Amid the Rush

I had a teacher once who taught me the value and rewards of mindfulness.  Mindfulness is a concept from eastern religion that simply involves the act of living in the moment and maintaining the clarity of though that so often is hard to achieve.  As we live our frenetic modern lives, with work, family, online study and 24/7 connectivity through ever improving social and communication technologies, it is hard to ever take a moment to fully focus on the task at hand.  When the task at hand is something important like driving safely on the freeway or something really important like interacting with the ones you love, mindfulness is key to avoiding unpleasant consequences.  It also has the positive benefit of helping one achieve positive goals with less strife and effort.This teacher of mine wasn’t a school teacher or spiritual figure.  Rather this teacher was someone I encountered in my personal struggle to change my relationship to my own body.  Learning to be mindful about my thoughts, words and actions (especially about eating and exercise) helped me to become significantly healthier than I had been.  Lately, I had fallen out of the practice of mindfulness in my affairs and have seen the predictable return of some unhealthy results.  But today, I have made the decision to again focus on being mindful in all aspects of life and I feel good about what this refocus will mean for me.  I thought it would be valuable for me to share some basic info on mindfulness to readers of this blog, as much for their own benefit as for my own. Read this excellent, brief description of what mindfulness means and how it benefits mind and body, written by Soren Gordhamer; an author who counsels individuals and groups on ways to live with less stress and more effectiveness in our technology-rich lives. He has been featured in various media, including GQ Magazine and Newsweek.com, and has taught classes on stress reduction to such diverse populations as youth in New York City juvenile halls, trauma workers in Rwanda, and to staff at Google.

The Truth About Eggs

How do you like your eggs?  This is a question that for years, I always answered either, “sunny side up” or “over easy” and typically followed by, “with bacon, well done and coffee, black.”  But a few years ago, after landing a stable virtual office job, I moved to the exurbs and having lots of outdoor space and a young son, I decided to raise some chickens for their eggs.  I did this so we would know more about the origins of the foods I was eating and feeding to my family.   Let me tell you, I learned a lot of things I just didn’t know before.   For example, did you know that most fertile chickens lay one egg per day?  Neither did I!  I started off with 12 birds and was collecting a dozen fresh eggs every day!  As a family of three, we couldn’t eat our way out of the problem of having too many eggs.  (We downsized to only 4 birds, but that’s another story).  Follow me over the fold for more egg-citing information including information you can actually use regarding misconceptions about the eggs most of you probably buy in the supermarket. Continue reading…

Healthiest Fast Food Joints

OK, so after blogging about the horrific KFC Double Down “sandwich”  I wanted to follow up with some information about healthier fast food options.  You know, I am not one of those folks who thinks no one should eat fast food (consider my pathological addiction to In-n-Out burgers as evidence).  So I am happy to provide you all this Friday afternoon with a list of the top 10 healthiest fast food eateries which includes another one of my faves: Chipotle.  Click here to read the list as published in Health magazine.

KFC’s Double Down – C’mon Now!

In case you haven’t seen it, Kentucky Fried Chicken has launched its new “sandwich” called the Double Down.  It is essentially two fried chicken breast fillets masquerading as bread.  In between is bacon, cheese and special sauce.  I imagine the name Double Down refers to the bet you make with yourself about whether or not you will suffer a myocardial infarction from eating this mother of all gut bombs.  I cannot imagine who was responsible for the market research that supported the roll out of such a disgustingly over indulgent piece of processed junk food.  Now don’t get me wrong, my culinary sensibilities aside, I can enjoy some good ole fried chicken as much as the next guy.  But this “sandwich” seems to revel in being obstinately opposed to being even the slightest bit health conscious when it comes to diet.  What do you think?  At the very least, it will certainly contribute to the volume of people who need to seek medical care.  And that’s good for people pursuing a career in medical assistance.  Here’s another, more scathing review of this monstrosity from the SF Gate newspaper in Frisco!  Enjoy.

New Healthcare Law Requires Chain Restaurants to Post Calorie Counts

Healthcare Law Requires Fast Food Calorie ListingAccording to a report by the Associated Press:WASHINGTON – A requirement tucked into the massive U.S health care bill will make calorie counts impossible for thousands of restaurants to hide and difficult for consumers to ignore. More than 200,000 fast food and other chain restaurants will have to include calorie counts on menus, menu boards and even drive-throughs.  Read the whole article here.It may be a bit onerous for these restaurants to have to do this, but if you’ve ever seen those popular “Eat This, Not That” books and website, you know that often, seemingly “healthy” menu items can be worse than things that have a reputation for being “bad for you”.   In this blogger’s opinion, this step is a positive one because it will help American’s make more informed choices about what they eat.  Dietary choices are behind so many of the leading illnesses in our society from obesity to cancer.  The more info we have as a society, the better off we will be as we choose what to eat.