Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Do You Know What Is Lurking in Your Fridge?

Velveeta is a processed cheese spread made from actual cheese and sometimes other unfermented dairy ingredients, plus emulsifiers, extra salt, food colorings or whey. Photo from Velveeta.

By JANET COOK, NYC Healthy Chick

what exactly are you doing in my fridge?” my bewildered mother asked while I photographed the contents of her refrigerator last week during my visit.

Initially, the biggest concern was cleanliness versus contents. But on closer look … The vast majority of food was processed and loaded with chemicals. Oh how I cringed every time I opened the door only to have this big block of Velveeta cheese staring me right in the face. C’mon mother, it’s not even real cheese! Yeah, even NYC Healthy Chick leaves well enough alone when it comes to family. Believe you, me, it ain’t easy honey.

The refrigerator should be filled with healthy foods like fruits and vegetables instead of salt- and sugar-laden processed foods. Photo from Appliancist.

Like many Americans, my parents have fallen prey to consuming processed chemical foods out of convenience and savings. While some situations call for it, the danger of eating processed foods carries a hefty price. Checked a food label lately? The calorie count, carbs, fat, protein and sugar grams are listed, but not how many additives and dyes have been added.

Most can’t pronounce half of the ingredients and probably are clueless about what they are. Processed foods are cheaper because they are laden with sugar and salt that replace the more expensive real nutrients. It should also be common knowledge by now that S&S extend the shelf-life of food. Can you imagine what these ingredients do once they are inside your body?

Oh, what’s NYC Healthy Chick to do? The only steps to take are to inspire and educate everyone in taking action now before it’s too late. Our bodies are incredible healing machines, and if we eat healthy basic foods every day our body will thank us with optimal health and wellness for a lifetime!

“Cheap food is an illusion,” asserts Michael Pollan author of "In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.” “The real cost of food is paid somewhere.”

Many Americans pay the cost with their health. Now more than ever there is an epidemic of childhood obesity, diabetes and nutritional deficiencies. Americans have more diseases and illnesses now than we have had in the history of the republic. Food is at the foundation, but it’s really about life.

Chicken stirfry is a low-cost, healthy alternative to expensive and often unhealthy takeout. Photo from Whole Foods Market.

I was astounded when I went grocery shopping with my parents. Huge boxes filled with cheap food beat out more pricey fruits and vegetables. At the checkout line they bought Prilosec. I nearly blew a gasket! Consumers are led to think it’s OK to buy these cheap foods in lieu of healthy options.

Americans are conditioned to take a pill to cure what ails them while insurance picks up part of the tab. Over the years, however, this practice have driven up health care costs up, which now spiral out of control. From the looks of what was inside my parents’ refrigerator, it seems they have succumbed to the conspiracy of misinformation, cheap food and long-term costs to their health.

Take my father, for example. Once a vibrantly healthy man who is now almost 80, he suffers from cardiovascular disease, emphysema, high blood pressure and macular degenerative disease. In the early ‘80s, he introduced more processed foods into his diet. This was around the time he had a stroke. Luckily, he only lost peripheral vision in one eye initially, but over the years his general health has continued to decline from lack of proper nutrition.

Oh, what’s a daughter to do? Create an eating plan, of course! Read and heed NYC Healthy Chick’s Healthy Eating Checklist for daily consumption:
* 64 ounces of purified water daily; hot days require more;
* 1-2 servings of locally grown or organic seasonal fruits;
* 3-10 servings of locally grown or organic seasonal vegetables;
* 2-3 servings of protein from organic chicken, fish or meat (non-animal forms of protein include beans, nuts, tofu and some grains);
* Limit, or better yet, exclude consumption of processed foods.

A mixture of cherries and lentils is a hearty, healthy meal that takes little time to prepare. Photo from Whole Foods Market.

In today’s economy it can be a challenge to both eat healthy and stick to a budget, but it is not impossible. Buy fruits and vegetables in season, plus cheaper cuts of meat. Need more information? See “FRESH: The Movie for more ideas for healthy eating on a budget. (See trailer

A homecooked meal from scratch beats takeout any time! Not to mention it’s easier on the wallet. Keep things simple yet delicious with Chicken Stir-Fry ( Spice things up just a little with red pepper flakes. Add some color and sweetness to your meal withCherry-Lentil Salad ( It is a hearty, healthy meal that saves both time and money.

On the next shopping trip fill the cart with select local or organic foods without labels. Cuz’ what you see is what you get – Pure. Real. Simple.

It doesn’t get any better.

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