Lara Bars

Aside from the kind you get wasted in, I’m not the biggest fan of bars. By that I mean, I don’t (generally) eat:

  • Protein and/or Weight Loss bars
  • Cereal and/or Nut bars
  • Nutrigrain bars
  • Fiber One bars
  • Quest bars
  • Isagenix bars
  • etc etc etc bars
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I’ll make an exception for these crummy things

Reasoning

  1. Taste. Many bars taste like chemicals.
  2. Calories vs. Satiety Some of these bars have a ton of calories for just a few bites. Even those bars high in protein don’t seem to satisfy me.
  3. Ingredients. I try to stick to whole foods. Many bars have too many weird ingredients.
  4. Expense. Bars tend to be pretty expensive for what they are.

Lara Bars

Lara Bars are fruit & nut bars advertised as “food made from food.” They are one of the only bars that I eat. And even these, I don’t eat often.

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Here is what they look like before I eat them. 

What I like about Lara Bars:

  • Made from whole foods. Take, for example, the Banana Bread flavor. It has only three ingredients: bananas, dates, and almonds
  • They are vegan.
  • They taste awesome. My favorite flavors are Cherry Pie (3 ingredients) and Carrot Cake (9 ingredients)
  • Nutrition. Every flavor I’ve tried has had a great nutritional profile.

What I dislike about Lara Bars:

  • Calories. Most are around 200-ish calories.
  • Addicting. Maybe it’s me – but I find them slightly addicting.  Meaning, I could easily  eat five bars in one sitting. Not good!
  • Not always easy to find. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, and they often don’t have my favorite flavors.
  • Annoying website. Don’t even go on it, it’s not worth the agony.

In Sum

If you’re looking for a decent bar, a Lara Bar might be a good pick. Especially if you’re trying to avoid processed foods.

But be wary. I would never buy a box and keep it in the house: the temptation is too strong.

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Help! I HATE Healthy Food

Hungry cute female reaches for donut at night near fridge

In the land of picky eating, I once reigned as queen. Processed carbs were my vassals. Flavor, my sworn enemy.

When I tried new foods, it felt like a terrible explosion in my mouth. Sometimes it still does.

My mom told me I’d thrive in jail. “All you need is bread and butter,” she said. Maybe that’s why I became a criminal defense attorney.

What to Do

  1. Try New Foods. Obviously. 

I love tomatoes. And I still can’t believe it.

Like most foods, tomatoes were once my enemy. Just the tiniest sliver made my whole mouth feel like it was vibrating. What monster brought these wretched things into being?

One day, I just grabbed a tomato and vowed that I would love it. In fact, I would make love to it. So I started adding tiny bits of tomato to my meals.

I’d put it on my fork, together with other flavors to drown it out. And I did it over and over and over again. I never made myself eat all of the tomato, but I always made myself have at least a little bit.

Now I love tomatoes. Weird. But that’s how our brain works.

2.  Start With Iceberg, then Romaine. 

I wanted to eat salads, but I could NOT stand greens, let alone dark greens.

I found iceberg lettuce tolerable, but I knew it had zero health value. So what, who cares? Eat it anyway. Soon you’ll move onto romaine, which is a little better. And after that, you’ll move on to darker greens.

When I first started eating salads, I used the following ingredients:

  1. iceberg lettuce
  2. microwavable popcorn chicken (yes, breaded)
  3. hardboiled egg
  4. small amount of shredded mozzarella cheese
  5. croutons or crushed up saltines
  6. small amount of kraft french dressing

Not exactly the picture of health. But it was a step.

Later, I would start using grilled chicken. Then I would add romaine. Eventually I removed the cheese. I added  cucumbers. I added a little bit of tomato.  Soon, I started mixing in dark greens.

..But not that soon. It probably took a good 6 months. I started with baby spinach. Arugula is good too.

At some point, the croutons were replaced with seeds. All of this happened because I wanted it to. Not because I made myself. I was getting tired of iceberg lettuce, and I wanted more flavor. Trust me, you will too.

3. Do a Several Day Juice Fast

There is a lot of controversy surrounding juice fasts. I won’t get into that here. But I will tell you this. Juice fasts absolutely 100% changed my food preferences for the better.

Once I finished a 10 day juice fast, I craved healthy food. After 10 days of juice, all I wanted was a salad.

Maybe 10 days is extreme. Try 3 days. Or maybe juice is too extreme. Try smoothies. All you need is veggies, fruits, and a blender.

I got my recipes (and inspiration) here.

4. Intermittent Fasting

Like juice fasting, a 5:2 diet will help you crave healthier foods.  I don’t know why, but it works. Maybe 5:2 isn’t for everyone, I don’t know. For me, it helps regulate appetite. And I was a binger of the highest order.

I don’t actively do 5:2, I just kind of do it naturally. It feels like the right way for me to eat now, and I imagine it will be for a long time.

For more on 5:2 check out “The Fast Diet” by Dr. Michael Mosley. Or, if you don’t want to read a book, check out the BBC Documentary “Eat Fast Live Longer” also featuring Dr. Mosley. It’s free on YouTube.

Share the Wealth

Do you have any tips or experience with regards to healthy eating for picky eaters?

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On the New York Times, Children, & the Cost of Nutrition

Concerned Woman Looking At Pre Packaged Meat

I get very upset when I think about kids with poor nutrition.

Kids don’t make their own food choices, and it’s just not fair. Every child deserves the healthiest body he or she can possibly have. There is absolutely NO reason why we should be suffering an epidemic of excess. It is 100% unacceptable to allow our own idiocy to destroy the lives of children.

Expense is Not the Issue

A healthy diet is NOT necessarily more expensive than an unhealthy diet. Of course, there are many types of healthy diets, and many types of unhealthy diets. My definition of a healthy diet is one consisting of mostly veggies, which at the very least limits processed foods.

But earlier today I came across a NYT opinion piece that made an excellent point. The author raised the issue not only of the direct expenses of a healthy diet – but also of indirect costs which may be too heavy for poor families to bear.

Children are Picky Eaters

The author’s premise is this: many children are picky eaters.

In addition to the direct costs of a healthy diet, poor parents also have to bear the indirect costs of wasted food due to a child’s picky eating habits. If a child will eat chicken nuggets on the first or second time you try, but won’t eat cauliflower until the 10th attempt, then those 9 tries at cauliflower represent a wasted food expense that the family’s budget simply can’t absorb.

Here is a quote directly from the article:

 One mother strove to provide healthy food on a budget. She cooked rice and beans or pasta with bruised vegetables bought at a discount. These meals cost relatively little — if they’re eaten. But when her children rejected them, an affordable dish became a financial burden. Grudgingly, this mother resorted to the frozen burritos and chicken nuggets that her family preferred.

Isn’t there another way?

I appreciate the points the author makes.  In fact, I’m really glad she wrote this piece because it really made me think. But the question remains – do indirect costs associated with waste really prohibit healthy eating?

I don’t think so.

I really enjoyed the article. I read through it a few times. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder three points:

  1. Mom’s Plate. Why not start with highly palatable veggies from mom or dad’s plate? No waste necessary.
  2. The Beginnings. How do processed foods become a default in the home to begin with? Picky eaters at some point start from milk/formula. Why ever introduce anything other than healthy foods?
  3. Why not feed the child first? Anything the child doesn’t eat, mom or sibling can eat.

Mom’s Plate

Here are a few things that are cheap but highly palatable and healthy:

  • eggs
  • sweet potatoes
  • carrots
  • potatoes (prepared the right way)
  • brown rice (prepared the right way)
  • certain fruits (even better if in season)
  • seasonal veggies
  • cauliflower
  • corn
  • beans

All of these things can be eaten by mom or dad. So why not start by buying these foods for themselves, and then begining to offer them to the children?

If the kids don’t bite, no food is wasted.

The Beginnings

Kids start off with milk or formula. They then move on to mashed foods. At this point, food is wasted no matter what you give them. They are 2-3 years old.

When does the transition to processed/fried foods happen?

Why not completely avoid the introduction of processed foods into the children’s diet at a very young age?

Of course – once they try processed foods they will find it difficult to eat anything else. So why are we feeding kids things like processed cereals, which affect their tastebuds?  Why on earth do parents give their kids juice and chemical filled apple sauce? How is THAT not a waste of money?

How did processed foods become society’s default anyway?

Your children are the products of evolution. Sure, there are extreme cases of pickiness that might lead to serious nutritional deficiencies. But it just isn’t feasible that children will regularly starve themselves to death because you didn’t give them chicken nuggets.

We have only had processed foods for less than 100 years. We have had human children for at least 40,000 years.  How could it be that in the greatest time of abundance in all of human history, the only thing your children can survive on is crap?

There are societies that don’t have chicken nuggets. The children have milk when they’re young, and then eat what their parents eat. There isn’t anything else. So just don’t let there be anything else.

Why not feed the child first? 

This, to me, seems like the most obvious solution. Feed the child first, then eat. If the kid won’t eat the food, you eat it. And maybe I’m a future tiger mom, but I might let the child go hungry for a meal or two.

 If they were truly hungry, they could eat the sweet potato.

In Sum

I appreciate the point the author makes. She is reasoned. She makes good suggestions.

And I do think that when we consider big issues affecting society, we should try to consider them  as they truly are. The cost of food waste is a real consideration, and it deserves our attention.

But I don’t think it is prohibitive. It seems clear that there are ways out.

This is not to blame the parents.

It is not their fault. Our society has a messed up notion of health. It’s due in large part to amoral food peddlers, and also to the FDA.  Plus there’s more we can do, like improve the quality of school lunches, and perhaps work to increase SNAP benefits.

But on the other hand – let’s not take the ability to fix this out of parent’s hands. Sure, it may be more difficult for poor parents to provide their children with nutritious foods, but many manage to do it. This isn’t about blame, it’s about correcting the problem.

Let’s not forget what we are talking about here. We are talking about the most important thing in the world: improving health outcomes for children. If it’s doable, then it’s worth doing. Most parents want the best for their children. So let’s not fill the world with unsound notions about the cost of good health. There is no reason why eating healthy foods should cost you any more than eating an unhealthy diet. It just doesn’t. It costs you less.

I don’t have children, so I can only speak from my own experience as a very heavy young picky eater.

I loved food. And I find it highly unlikely that I would have starved myself to death if I didn’t get my sugar laden applesauce. I only wish that the veggies were pushed harder.

Share Your Thoughts?

I think this topic is important.

Give the NYT piece a read, and let me know what you think.

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Oodles and Oodles and Zoodles of Fun!

The hardest part about living a low carb lifestyle is the pasta limitation. I have to be honest though, the part about not eating pasta doesn’t bother me as much as the convenience factor. It’s so easy to boil pasta and toss sauce or meat with it, right?

We have some pretty awesome alternatives that offer way more nutrition and way less carbs and calories. Zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, carrot and sweet potato noodles to name a few. Let me know if you have any other veggie noodle ideas, I am always open to trying new things!  

I wanted to make something quick, easy, and light for dinner.

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Shrimp Zoodle Scampi

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1 onion-chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tsp hot sauce (we like our food with a kick!)
  • 2tbsp evoo
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup chicken broth or white cooking wine
  • grated parm cheese (optional)
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  • Spiralize zuchini and squeeze out as much liquid as possible, season with a pinch of salt and put to the side
  • Heat 1tbls olive oil and cook onions and garlic till translucent
  • Add broth/wine, juice from 1/2 lemon,hot sauce and shrimp
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper
  • Cook till shrimp begin to turn pink and curl this is about 5 min (don’t over cook or it’ll become too rubbery)
  • Remove shrimp from heat and add 1tbls evoo and zoodles
  • Once zoodles are cooked, toss the shrimp back in, add butter, red pepper flakes and parm cheese

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