Roundup: Food Edition

3934950427 5f3aff0c88 Roundup: Food EditionLast week I wrote about meal planning and have since come across several great food-related links.

How about you? Have you seen any good food-related posts this week?

Photo Credit: flippinyank

Making Mealtime Easier

180196547 b8db2d4501 300x225 Making Mealtime EasierMaybe it’s just me, but mealtime is SUCH a pain. I feel like I’m always running out of ideas and now that the girls are in school full-time, afternoon and early evenings around here are really hectic.

I need a plan. A meal plan to be more specific.

There was one summer when I did a great job in suzhou of planning meals and buying groceries ahead of time. Mealtime was much less stressful and much more pleasant then. So why did I stop? I’m not sure. Things got busy, as they do, and I got out of the habit.

One of my goals for the new year is to reduce the stress I’m feeling. To help with that, I’m going to stop making things harder for myself. When I don’t have a plan (for dinner, among other things) I feel more stress than I need to. So it’s meal plan time!

I’ve found several options for meal planning that I want to share with you. Some are more involved than others, so if you’re interested in making your own meal plans, you should be able to find something here that will work for you.

  • Erin Rooney Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week [my review], has a weekly meal plan template that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and a place for a grocery list. Also, Unclutterer.com has a new sister site called Simplifried. According to the website, “Our goal is to make feeding yourself and your family as painless as possible.” Naturally, I’ve already subscribed to their updates.
  • Ivory at Little House in the Suburbs introduced me to Say MMM, which is a web-based meal planning application. If you prefer your tools automated, Say MMM may be the way to go. Even better? It’s FREE!

To solve the mealtime hassle in my own home, I’m going to set aside some time each Saturday to discuss meal options with my family. From there, I’ll make a list of lunches and dinners for the week and compile my grocery list. On Sunday, I’ll make a trip to the store and buy all of the supplies I need.

I’ll still have to cook amidst the chaos that often accompanies the dinner hour, but I do think that knowing what I’m making and having the ingredients on hand will make the whole event less stressful for me.

How about you? Do you plan your meals ahead of time? Do you think it’s made your life easier?

Photo Credit: gordasm

What Is Wrong With High Fructose Corn Syrup?

High fructose corn syrup is one of the main ingredients in almost any processed food. You’ve probably heard nutritionists and environmentalists say it needs to be avoided. There’s a popular commercial running on television involving two mothers at a birthday party laughing about all the hype and insisting that in moderation, high fructose corn syrup is a “natural,” wonderful thing. It should be noted that this ad is sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association.

So what’s a person to do? Believe HFCS is evil and try (possibly in vain) to avoid it, or roll with it and accept the fact that it’s in nearly every factory made product we consume?

I’ve done some digging and hopefully what I’ve found will help you make more informed choices for you and your family.

The Primary Question

Is high fructose corn syrup worse for us than sugar?

The Answer

We’re not sure. Some studies have been conducted, but many have been deemed flawed or not comprehensive enough. For sure, more research needs to be done.

Other Questions

What is high fructose corn syrup?

According the the Mayo Clinic online,

High-fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener and preservative. High-fructose corn syrup is made by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose — another form of sugar. The end product is a combination of fructose and glucose. Because it extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar, high-fructose corn syrup has become a popular ingredient in many sodas, fruit-flavored drinks and other processed foods.

The reason that high fructose corn syrup is cheaper than sugar is because of huge government subsidies that go to growers of corn.

So What’s the Big Deal?

The bottom line is that high fructose corn syrup is simply another form of sugar.  Marion Nestle, author, food policy expert and professor (she holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology and an M.P.H. in public health nutrition) writes, “Biochemically, [HFCS] is about the same as table sugar (both have about the same amount of fructose and calories) . . .”

But here’s the problem, Nestle adds, “[high fructose corn syrup] is in everything and Americans eat a lot of it—nearly 60 pounds per capita in 2006, just a bit less than pounds of table sugar.   HFCS is not a poison, but eating less of any kind of sugar is a good idea these days and anything that promotes eating more is not.”

So what are we to do?

1. Read labels. This is one of the most important things you can do. HFCS is in nearly all processed foods. If it’s the first, second or third ingredient, then there’s a lot of sugar in that product. It’s probably best to skip it.

2. Eat more real food. Go for foods that don’t come with an ingredients list.

3. Avoid sodas. These drinks are notoriously high in HFCS.

4. Be aware that it’s very difficult to consume sugar “in moderation” if you don’t know how much you’re eating. Start paying attention to what’s in the food you eat so you can make more informed choices about your sugar consumption.

Let me know if you have more questions about high fructose corn syrup and I’ll do my best to find the answers. If you found this post helpful, please tell a friend and consider tweeting it and/or liking it on Facebook.