Saturday, April 24, 2010

Healthy Dose of Vitamin X (ray)

Eating healthy is becoming increasingly more difficult. There are tens of thousands of chemical additives in our food, and every day new ones are introduced. It seems like there is always something to worry about when it comes to food. And now, we've got something new to worry about: X-rays.

That's right, I said X-rays. You're probably thinking what I was thinking when I read this article earlier this week. X-rays are for broken bones right? Unfortunately, that's not true anymore. Now X-rays are for processing food too.  According to the article, "X-ray machine[s] can eliminate E.coli, vibrio, salmonella, cronobacter sakazakii, shigella and Listeria monocytogenes from seafood, dairy products and leafy green vegetables such as spinach and lettuce." And they are working on a way to use X-rays on tomatoes. Eliminating bacteria from food quickly and effectively is an attractive concept, but the scientists at Mississippi State that came up with this technology admit that "there is minor loss of vitamins A and C" as a result of this process. And minor wasn't defined.

I really hope this process doesn't get approved by the FDA, but it most likely will. The FDA approved food irradiation in 1963. The new X-ray technology is very similar to irradiation, so I see no reason why it would get rejected. Wikipedia defines irradiation as "exposure of materials to radiation to achieve a technical goal." In this case the goal is to kill the bacteria, but it also keeps produce fresher longer and causes fruit to ripen slower by altering the genetic make-up of the plant. No one really knows the effects of irradiation and that's why it's so freaky.

It seems like X-raying food is a quick fix solution with unknown results. If approved, it will let food handlers and farmers off the hook instead of forcing them to clean up their acts.  I am going to make sure to continue reading labels on food and stay away from anything that has been x-rayed or irradiated (hopefully they put that information on the food label) until we know for sure what the effects are.

What do you think? Would you feel comfortable buying and eating food that has been X-rayed or irradiated?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shake It Up

I've officially been a vegetarian for almost a year. Surprisingly, I don't miss eating meat at all, and have been able to find a bunch of really good veg-friendly recipes.  Lately though, I've been thinking that I might not be getting enough protein. And since the body uses protein to help sustain all of  its tissues and muscles,  I want to make sure I'm getting enough!

According to Madelyn Fernstrom, director of the Weight Management Center at U of Pittsburgh Medical Center, you should have 1 gram of protein for every kg of body weight (this works out to .4g per pound). Since this is sort of a complex calculation, she suggests taking your total body weight, dividing it in half and subtracting 10 to get the number of grams of protein you should consume daily. So for me this works out to be about 42 grams. And I'm definitely not consuming that much.

Enter the protein shake. I always picture people who drink protein shakes as big time workout buffs or  body builders with bulging muscles. So the idea of me drinking a protein shake makes me laugh. But being able to get 22 grams of protein from a morning shake is very appealing. I made sure to buy a soy-free protein. Since, I'm wary about eating too much soy because of the mixed opinions on whether or not soy can mimic estrogen. I bought Lifetime Life's Basics Plant Protein (vanilla flavor). It actually tastes great in a shake and is preservative and artificial ingredient free which is an added bonus.

This is the shake recipe that I've been making (modified from It is pretty addicting - you should try it!

1 cup frozen organic cherries

1 frozen organic banana

1 scoop protein powder

3/4 cup organic almond milk

1 cup filtered water

2 tbsp raw cacao powder