Posts Tagged ‘ health food ’

Are M&M’s Petroleum-Based Food Dyes Really “The Finest Ingredients”?

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

3 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

I want to show you something funny.

For Valentine’s Day, you received a bag of M&M’s. On the bag, Mars makes a point to say they only use “the finest ingredients.”

Um… are petroleum-based artificial food dyes honestly “the finest ingredients” they could find? Because, I’m thinking, what about using plant-based ingredients, like Kroger’s brand, Simple Truth, uses?

I would think plant-based coloring would be better than petroleum-based dyes, but maybe that’s just me.

Or maybe it’s not…

Actually, petroleum-based artificial food dyes are banned in other parts of the world, because people are more aware of the health problems these dyes can cause for children.

I wonder if the petroleum melts in your stomach, not in your hands?

By now, you’ve accepted the fact that you’ve got the male-version of Food Babe for a dad.

By the way, Food Babe is the mom and food blogger who is known for calling out companies for the unnatural ingredients they put in their food- especially when it’s food that is aimed for kids.

She was the one who started the petition to try to get Kraft to stop putting petroleum-based dyes in their macaroni and cheese; pointing out that the European version of Kraft mac-and-cheese does not contain these dyes, which are linked to hyperactivity in children.

Food Babe has also called out General Mills for using GMOs in their cereals, while they claim their product is “natural.” GMOs are not natural.

Another thing she did was highlight the fact that artificial vanilla flavors are made from a certain gross part of a beaver. Back when I first pointed this out two years ago, people questioned it. Of course, now, that post of mine has received over 2600 “likes” on Facebook.

Especially with Food Babe’s credibility on the subject, people are starting to believe it as fact, not urban legend.

Oh, and I can’t forget about Subway with the “yoga mat” chemical (azodicarbonamide) in their “fresh” breads…

So because I follow her blog, she has basically trained me to point out peculiar wording on food products.

She had a pretty cool blog post for Valentine’s Day. She used out the same concept I am showing you here today about M&M’s, but with another candy company that leads people to think that their product is truly worth paying premium price.

Food Babe clearly shows that Godiva’s ingredients are not better, in the areas it should matter.

The point isn’t that you should never eat M&M’s or Godiva chocolate. The point is, I am teaching you to question where your food comes from.

It might keep you from wasting money on “the finest ingredients.”





Food Babe Photo and Chocolate Chart, courtesy of Food Babe.


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No-Bake Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls… Jealous Much?

Friday, February 7th, 2014

3 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

I think I might be over cakes, cupcakes, and cookies, now that Mommy has introduced our family to “no-bake vegan chocolate chip cookie dough balls.”

She found them on a website called, Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl, which is apparently orchestrated by an 18 year-old girl from Norway.

(That’s the country where your great-grandfather on Mommy’s side was adopted from, by the way.)

So, it’s official: These no-bake vegan chocolate chip cookie dough balls are awesome!

Not only are they pretty easy to make, considering you don’t even cook them, but they taste so good that they are extremely addictive.

However, the ingredients are healthy and simple: 

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • a pinch of maldon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped 70+% dark vegan chocolate (or use vegan chocolate chips)

So I kind of think these might be our new family favorite treat.

They’re mainly sweetened from the dates and “fattened” by the cashews; which provide less than 1% of the daily recommended amount of cholesterol.

Remember my theory on consuming more than 0% but less than 1% cholesterol?

“Being a vegan means your cholesterol intake is more than 0% (from good fats, like avocados, cashews, coconuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, etc.) but less than 1% (because of no animal fats). I think part of the reason vegans feel so much better after nixing animals products is because they are no longer experiencing another living (at one time) animal’s cholesterol and fat running through their veins.”

Like most food that Mommy and I approve of for our family, these no-bake vegan chocolate chip cookie dough balls are better when made by us… not bought pre-made and packaged from a store.

Having a fun (and delicious!) recipe like this makes it even more fun and special to be a plant-based family. Like I’ve said before, it’s not about what we can’t eat, but about what we can!

We get to enjoy this secret dessert snack recipe that hardly anybody else knows about. It’s not the kind of thing a person would normally think to make or eat, but when you rule out animal products from your diet, you (are forced to) discover new foods that you actually like better than what you were eating before.

I’m contrasting this recipe against any token grocery store cake, or boxed cake mix, made with food dye from petroleum and/or bugs, along with a whole paragraph of unpronounceable ingredients.

Yeah, that’s not food.

This is!

I’ll take no-bake vegan chocolate chip cookie dough balls anyday! But, shhhh… we’re adopting them as a secret family recipe now- thanks to an 18 year-old girl in Norway named Solveig Berg Vollan!






P.S. Click right here for the full recipe featured on Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl!

Or check out other vegan recipe reviews I have written.

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Why I Don’t Want Everyone To Go Vegan Like Me

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

2 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

You were born in an interesting age, to interesting parents, who happened to be part of the rapidly growing minority of Americans who choose to live a lifestyle in which animal products are shunned for the sake of strict veganism (like me) or strict vegetarianism (like Mommy.)

As for you, you’re the kid caught in the middle of it, not realizing that we are making an important decision for you; at least for now. (What an appropriate shirt for you to be wearing today: Pizza vs. Broccoli.)

It used to be that vegans and vegetarians were perceived as predictable stereotypes; hippies who didn’t bathe. Not to mention, they looked down on anyone who didn’t share the same lifestyle and beliefs as they did.

I think of those animal rights ads that use shock value to get the attention of carnivores, often using images of nearly nude women or the slaughter of animals.

That’s not me or what I stand for.

The truth is, I don’t want everyone to go vegan, like me. Just as important, I don’t think everyone should be vegan. It’s not for everybody.

I don’t believe in forcing or pressuring my beliefs upon anyone for any reason. If someone is influenced by a conversation of mine, then so be it- that happens everyday to everybody.

Part of the process of becoming an individual is by (ironically?) collecting the ideas of other people you respect. That process, which included several pivotal documentaries on Netflix, led me to my extreme (yet not-that-weird-anymore) lifestyle.

Really, though, the main reason I don’t want everyone to become a vegan is because it seems like that would drive up the demand for organic foods, causing a shortage in supply, causing a hike in the prices of our groceries.

I’m not convinced there’s enough organic kale and chia seeds for even half of America to live this way.

So I best stop talking about how happy I am to have found this lifestyle and the positive health benefits (as well as, peace of mind) it brings our family.

It’s funny to think how 5 years ago, no one could have paid me enough money to go vegan for the rest of my life. Now, I’m trying to think how much money would be enough for me to go back to my former lifestyle, permanently.

I best stop trying to make our family seem relatively normal and decent.

However, to not share helpful and relevant information to curious people; well, that just seems selfish.

Hmm… the classic vegan dilemma.

I’m stressing out a little bit now. I need some vegan chocolate cookies…





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The Myth That Vegetarians Don’t Get Enough Protein

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

13 months.

When you officially go vegetarian, the #1 response you will get from most people is, “Well, just make sure you’re getting enough protein.” I feel like it’s subconsciously assumed that vegetarians are just a few steps away from having an eating disorder.

Prepare for me to rock your world. (As if I don’t always.) The reasons people eat meat are because they like it and it’s convenient. People do not eat meat because their bodies need the protein. For any person with access to a grocery store or market that sells veggies and beans, meat is nutritionally unnecessary.

After all, I accidentally became a vegetarian. Throughout the years, as I learned more and more how to eat properly by cutting out foods with the word “high-fructose corn syrup” in them and started eating fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains in every meal, I finally woke up and realized, “Hey, I don’t want even want meat. Why am I eating this?”

The reason was because I was already getting enough protein from everything else in my meals: in beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and green vegetables.

According to the fascinating documentary, Forks Over Knives, which features people who reversed their cancer and Diabetes by switching to a plant-based diet, even the vegetable with the least amount of a protein, the potato, still provides the minimal amount of necessary protein.

Twenty years ago from this very minute, I was probably at Burger King with my family, who was impressed that a skinny little 10 year-old boy like me could so easy down a Double Whopper combo meal. My catch-phrase back then was, “Meat. I gotta have more meat.”

How ironic that two decades later A) I’m a vegetarian and B) I’m never hungry after eating meatless meals.

Forks Over Knives also explains how 500 calories of vegetarian food triggers the mind and body that a person is full, both quicker and longer, than 500 calories of animal based food. Therefore, the more animal-based and processed a meal is, the more necessary it becomes to overeat in order to feel full.

Vegetarianism is considered an alternative lifestyle. But the way I see it, eating meat is the actual alternative lifestyle.

Take a fun look back to the book of Genesis in the Bible. It starts out with God telling people to eat plants and herbs. From Adam until Noah, 20 generations later, there is no mention of anyone eating animals. Then after the Flood wrecked the Earth, God allows people to start eating certain animals (not pork or shellfish.) Why? Out of necessity.

In this new version of Earth where it rained now, where Pangea had been torn apart, where peoples’ lifetimes shortened from centuries to less than a century, for many people it would become necessary, at times, for them to survive off the protein of slaughtered animals. It was scientifically a new environment; they had to adapt.

But here we are now in 2012. It’s never been easier to have access to fresh produce and whole grains. We don’t have to rely on the alternative lifestyle of eating meat.

Instead, we eat meat because it’s easy, familiar, and fun. We like it. But we don’t need it, nutritionally if we get our protein from the right places to begin with.

It’s simply a myth that vegetarians don’t get enough protein. Pretty weird, huh?

If you would like to personally ask me any questions about converting to vegetarianism, feel free to email me at nickshell1983@hotmail. Or simply check out this article I wrote a few weeks ago: Healthy Parents: 5 Steps to Planning Vegetarian Meals. Trust me, if you’re attempting to go vegetarian but aren’t “feeling full,” it means you’re doing it wrong. I’ll help.

Image: “Hamburger isolated on white,” via Shutterstock.

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Healthy Parents: 5 Steps to Planning Vegetarian Meals

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

13 months.

What is the proper size portion of meat to eat in a meal? In the documentary Super Size Me, Lisa Young, PhD, RD, CDN and the Professor of Nutrition at New York University explains that the federal government defines 3 ounces of meat as a sensible portion.

I knew a guy who got an app on his iPhone that kept up with exactly how many calories he ate each day, as he wanted to only consume the appropriate amount for his age, weight, and height.

Despite being very careful about his food choices, he reported back to me after a week that he was coming up too high on his sodium count each day. I suggested he only eat meat in one of his daily meals, and that he make sure the portion was no larger than a deck of cards.

He did, and that was the only way for him to consume the proper amount of sodium.

To be clear, I am suggesting that eating meat for more than one meal a day (and/or consuming more than a deck-of-cards-sized portion of meat in that one meal) is adding too much meat (and sodium) into one’s diet. So for those who are crazy enough to follow my logic on this and actually believe that information is true and relevant, I want to explain how vegetarians plan their meals; at least how my wife and I do it.

So for the meals you don’t eat meat, you can remember what you learned here today to build a satisfying and fulfilling meal, sans the meat.

1) Half-veggie, half-whole grains, seasoned with cheese. That is the formula for how we plan our meals. No vegetarian should ever finish eating a meal and still be hungry. That’s why whole grain pasta, bread, and rice (along with beans) are crucial  for making a hearty vegetarian meal. Don’t even bother with “white bread,” which  leaves you longing for more substance unless you pair it with meat. It’s like eating a Kleenex; virtually no nutrition.

2) Think of your favorite meals that do contain meat, but remove the meat. My wife and I both love lasagna, pasta, and pizza. So we make the healthy version of these foods with whole grain pasta and whole wheat dough. We pack these meals full of veggies, like spinach and zucchini, held together with a little bit of cheese. What’s interesting is that when you use whole grain instead of white noodles or dough, you get fuller quicker on less food.

3) Put together a list of your “heavy rotation” vegetables to serve as your staples. Our list is basically this: spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, cucumbers, avocados, romaine lettuce, green beans, green peppers, celery, okra, and basil (which is actually an herb.) We keep all these veggies stocked every week in our fridge to serve as the “flavor” of our meals, whereas the whole grains are the “substance.” Cheese is the “fun part.”

4) Make a distinction between your main dish and your side dish(es). Much of the time, our side dish is a salad consisting of romaine lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, and Italian dressing (full of good fats from oils.) Sometimes it’s sauteed spinach with garlic and a little bit of butter. (As you can see, we’re not opposed to a bit of dairy to make things interesting.) Meanwhile, the main dish may be veggie lasagna or bean and rice burritos stuffed with veggies and avocados in a whole wheat wrap.

5) Make sure your meal has some fat in it. If you end up making a meal that doesn’t have cheese in it, make sure you throw in a whole avocado or at least some almonds. At least for me, I got to have some fat in my meal to be full. Again, vegetarian meals shouldn’t leave you hungry. Otherwise, you’re doing something wrong.

Image: Vegan lasagna rolls via Shutterstock.

If you’d like to see where I learned that 3 ounces of meat is the proper amount in a serving, watch this clip from Super Size Me. You’ll see Dr. Lisa Young at 7:05, near the end.

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