Friday, February 22, 2008

The Health Food Mom (& Dr. Oz)

I was just something pondering today while making a bunch of raw foods in the kitchen (trying out a blueberry bread recipe of Alissa Cohen's with just sprouted wheat, dates, and berries plus made some pesto for stuffed mushrooms or just with flax crackers). I was also in the middle of making popcorn for my children and some of their friends who came over to play. The youngest friend first said that she didn't want popcorn because they have that at their house all the time. But when I told her ours might taste different since I don't buy microwave popcorn (just use the air popper and some Earth Balance butter), and that she might have fun eating it out of a huge bowl with the other kids instead of a bag, she brightened up and thought that would be great.

So I started wondering if I'm known as "the Health Food Mom" to any other kids. I remember a mom when I was growing up who always had strange concoctions that were made with natural ingredients. If we went to a birthday party for one of her kids, the cake weighed 10x as much as a regular cake and had carob and whole grains (and who knows what else) in it. We'd take a bite, cough a bit, then take another. At church potlucks, her dishes were always filled with whole grains we usually didn't see (or in darker colors) and we weren't sure if we wanted to try it or not. We knew that whatever she made would be a far cry from what we got in our homes. We knew she was the Health Food Mom.

I'm thinking that health food now is a little more approachable than it was 30+ years ago. Obviously, the apple and orange hasn't changed much. But there seems to be much more information and help out there for really tasty dishes and treats that may be different from what most kids get in their homes, but aren't so far across the bridge that the kids don't want to cross.

I juiced up some apples, lemons, cucumbers and greens tonight and my 5 year old son asked about it (we were out of store juice -- they were desperate :)). After taking a closer look, he decided to pass. I told him it was like lemonade and my 11 year old son said, "I'll try it." He had 2 refills! I was excited to see him drink that kale, chard, and parsley and think it was yummy.

My kids have seen the changes in our eating over the years and they seem to be happy about it for the most part. They explain to their friends how what we have is a little different than the average whatever. I even put little signs on food I bring to a church potluck or refreshment table at a school function that say "made with unrefined sugar and flour," "non-dairy," or "no hydrogenated oils -- just blended walnuts." I don't know if that scares people away from even trying it, but it shouldn't. I'm hoping someone who is trying to change how they eat will think "Oh good, this is something I can eat!" One time I brought a quart jar full of that juice I made today for a teacher who was fully pregnant at the parent/teacher conference. She seems health conscious and I thought she might appreciate having that energy boost to her afternoon filled with talking to parents. I think she did like it, but the Resource Specialist who also joined us looked pretty frightened by the whole thing. She kept saying things like, "I know this is meant to be a wonderful gesture -- I can see that you really like it, but I don't think I'd want any." I didn't take any offense to it at all -- she was really nice about it.

In the past 3 or 4 years, I've revamped how I cook for my kids. I buy way more produce than we have room in our refrigerator for, so we fill up big bowls on the counter of whatever is least likely to rot first. I cook with whole grain pasta now, brown rice instead of anything white. Our sugar is darker than before, the maple syrup (this is their biggest complaint) is not as thick, the flour is fresh ground and makes things a bit crunchier. But it's fun to see that they actually like much of it better. They think the crunchier cookies taste better (and they're right!) They eat my wheat bread fresh out of the oven and don't ask why we don't make the white anymore. They used to say "Ooooh, why did you buy 'organic?'" like it was a nasty thing. It didn't take long for them to realize that "organic" was tastier and (if they believe everything I say) healthier.

They do mourn the days of Mrs. Butterworth syrup whenever we make waffles or pancakes. (I have a great all wheat waffle recipe that's light and fluffy -- I'm shocked every time that they turn out so well). Maybe someday they'll appreciate (doesn't every mom say that at some point :)) that I paid probably 10x the amount for the real maple syrup. I just can't feed my kids straight high fructose syrup since I saw the Oprah show with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

I should list his top 5 ingredients to avoid (if they're in the top 5 listed on the label -- I tend to reject the food if they're anywhere in the label). It's a great place to start if you want to shop (and feed) healthier in your home.

  • Top 5 Ingredients to AVOID – Read the labels before buying for yourself or family

    Learning how to read food labels is like looking at a prescription for your health and your life. Dr. Mehmet Oz says to look for red-flag ingredients—if they're listed among the top five ingredients overall, steer clear!
  1. Sugar - When you eat or drink sugar, Dr. Oz says the sudden energy surge your body experiences is followed by an insulin surge that rapidly drops the blood sugar level—so two hours later, you feel famished and tired. To keep an even keel, Dr. Oz says to replace simple carbohydrates with complex ones so the absorption is more controlled and you experience long-term satiety. "Sugar is supposed to be eaten, of course," says Dr. Oz, "but it should come together with fat or some element like fiber—as you would find in fruit—so you can absorb it a bit more slowly."
  2. High fructose corn syrup - Although they taste sweet, Dr. Oz says food products that contain high fructose corn syrup should be avoided. Dr. Oz says the body processes the sugar in high-fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters your body's natural ability to regulate appetite. "It blocks the ability of a chemical called leptin, which is the way your fat tells your brain it's there," says Dr. Oz. "It's not so much the 150 calories in the soda pop—it's the fact at that same meal you will normally consume an extra hundred calories of food than you would have."
  3. Enriched wheat flour (white flour) - Contrary to what its name suggests, Dr. Oz says enriched flour is actually poor in nutrition because most of the grain's nutrients are destroyed in the refining process. "The reason they enrich it is because they already stripped out anything that was worth a darn in it, and they add a little bit back so it doesn't look so bad," says Dr. Oz. Instead, he says to look for whole grains and whole grain flours. "It has its kernels, it has its B vitamins—all the things you want to be in there," says Dr. Oz.
  4. Saturated fat - Found mainly in animal products, Dr. Oz says to avoid saturated fats that are solid at room temperature, like lard. "You can actually use this kind of material for furniture polish—lots of fun things—but don't put it in you," he says.
  5. Hydrogenated oil - To increase their shelf life, Dr. Oz says certain oils are hydrogenated. This process turns the oil into a solid at room temperature, but it also makes the oil unhealthy. "This stuff is great because it doesn't go bad, but it's very bad for you," says Dr. Oz. Avoid food products that contain hydrogenated oil, often labeled as "trans fats."

No comments:

Post a Comment