Thursday, July 22, 2010
Best Foods to Stockpile for an Emergency
Natural disasters—such as a flood, hurricane, or blizzard—often come without warning. Stocking up on the right non-perishable food items will help you weather the storm with less stress.
by Vanessa DiMaggio
Fueling your body during an emergency is very different from your everyday diet. Because you’ll probably expend more energy than you normally would, you should eat high-energy, high-protein foods. And because you have a limited supply, the higher-quality foods you eat—and the less of them—the better. “In a disaster or an emergency you want those calories,” says Barry Swanson, a food scientist at Washington State University. “You want some nutrients and some fiber—something to keep your diet normal.”
But that doesn’t mean you have to eat like a pauper. “In an emergency, generally you tend to think of meeting more basic needs than preferences and flavors,” says Elizabeth Andress, professor and food safety specialist at the University of Georgia. “But if you plan right, you can have a great variety of foods and nutrients.” Here, Andress and Swanson weigh in on what items you should include.
What to Always Keep in Your Pantry
These items have lengthy expiration dates, so you can stash them away for long periods of time. Make a list of everything in your stockpile and check expiration dates every 6 to 12 months to keep things fresh. And don’t forget to have a can opener on hand at all times—all that food won’t be of any use if you can’t open it.
• Peanut butter
A great source of energy, peanut butter is chock-full of healthful fats and protein. Unless the jar indicates otherwise, you don’t have to refrigerate after opening.
• Whole-wheat crackers
Crackers are a good replacement for bread and make a fine substitute in sandwiches. Due to their higher fat content, whole-wheat or whole-grain crackers have a shorter shelf life than their plain counterparts (check the box for expiration dates), but the extra fiber pays off when you’re particularly hungry. Consider vacuum-packing your crackers to prolong their freshness.
• Nuts and trail mixes
Stock up on these high-energy foods—they’re convenient for snacking and healthful. Look for vacuum-packed containers, which prevent the nuts from oxidizing and losing their freshness.
Choose multigrain cereals that are individually packaged so they don’t become stale after opening.
• Granola bars and power bars
Healthy and filling, these portable snacks usually stay fresh for at least six months. Plus, they’re an excellent source of carbohydrates. “You can get more energy from carbohydrates without [eating] tons of food,” Andress says.
• Dried fruits, such as apricots and raisins
In the absence of fresh fruit, these healthy snacks offer potassium and dietary fiber. “Dried fruits provide you with a significant amount of nutrients and calories,” Swanson says.
• Canned tuna, salmon, chicken, or turkey
Generally lasting at least two years in the pantry, canned meats provide essential protein. Vacuum-packed pouches have a shorter shelf life but will last at least six months, says Diane Van, manager of the USDA meat and poultry hotline.
• Canned vegetables, such as green beans, carrots, and peas
When the real deal isn’t an option, canned varieties can provide you with essential nutrients.
• Canned soups and chili
Soups and chili can be eaten straight out of the can and provide a variety of nutrients. Look for low-sodium options.
• Bottled water
Try to stock at least a three-day supply--you need at least one gallon per person per day. “A normally active person should drink at least a half gallon of water each day,” Andress says. “The other half gallon is for adding to food and washing.”
• Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade
The electrolytes and carbohydrates in these drinks will help you rehydrate and replenish fluid when water is scarce.
• Powdered milk
Almost all dairy products require refrigeration, so stock this substitute for an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D when fresh milk isn’t an option.
• Sugar, salt, and pepper
If you have access to a propane or charcoal stove, you may be doing some cooking. A basic supply of seasonings and sweeteners will improve the flavor of your food, both fresh and packaged.
Supplements will help replace the nutrients you would have consumed on a normal diet.
What to Buy Right Before an Emergency
If you’ve been given ample warning that a storm is coming, there’s still time to run to the market and pick up fresh produce and other items that have shorter shelf lives. Most of these foods will last at least a week after they’ve been purchased and will give you a fresh alternative to all that packaged food. Make sure to swing by your local farmers’ market if it’s open; because the produce there is fresher than what you’ll find at your typical supermarket, you’ll add a few days to the lifespan of your fruits and vegetables.
Apples last up to three months when stored in a cool, dry area away from more perishable fruits (like bananas), which could cause them to ripen more quickly.
• Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits
Because of their high acid content and sturdy skins, citrus fruits can last for up to two weeks without refrigeration, particularly if you buy them when they’re not fully ripe. Oranges and grapefruits contain lots of vitamin C and will keep you hydrated.
If you buy an unripe, firm avocado, it will last outside the refrigerator for at least a week.
If you buy them unripe, tomatoes will last several days at room temperature.
• Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams
If you have access to a working stove, these root vegetables are good keepers and make tasty side dishes. Stored in a cool, dark area, potatoes will last about a month.
• Cucumbers and summer squash
These vegetables will last a few days outside of refrigeration and can be eaten raw.
• Winter squash
While most are inedible uncooked, winter squashes, such as acorn squash, will keep for a few months. If you’ll be able to cook during the emergency, stockpile a bunch.
• Hard, packaged sausages, such as sopressata and pepperoni
You can’t eat canned tuna and chicken forever. Try stocking up on a few packages of dry-cured salamis like sopressata, a southern Italian specialty available at most grocery stores. Unopened, they will keep for up to six weeks in the pantry, Van says.
More Food Advice for an Emergency
• If the electricity goes out, how do you know what is and isn’t safe to eat from the refrigerator? If your food has spent more than four hours over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, don’t eat it. As long as frozen foods have ice crystals or are cool to the touch, they’re still safe. “Once it gets to be room temperature then bacteria forms pretty quickly, and you want to be very careful about what you’re eating,” Swanson says. Keep the doors closed on your refrigerator and freezer to slow down the thawing process.
• If you don’t have electricity, you may still be able to cook or heat your food. If you have outdoor access, a charcoal grill or propane stove is a viable option (these can’t be used indoors because of improper ventilation). If you’re stuck indoors, keep a can of Sterno handy: Essentially heat in a can, it requires no electricity and can warm up small amounts of food in cookware.
• If your family has special needs—for example, you take medication regularly or you have a small child—remember to stock up on those essential items, too. Keep an extra stash of baby formula and jars of baby food or a backup supply of your medications.
• If you live in an area at high risk for flooding, consider buying all your pantry items in cans, as they are less likely to be contaminated by flood waters than jars. “It’s recommended that people don’t eat home-canned foods or jarred foods that have been exposed to flood waters because those seals are not quite as intact,” Andress says.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The Truth About Your Food
Jun 11, 2010
Eat This, Not That
Simpler is always better.
Think about it: Would you rather have your job made simpler, or more complicated? How about your relationship? Your finances? Those instructions to assembling your new IKEA bookshelf?
Okay, how about your diet? Wouldn't you prefer to make your diet simpler as well? Especially if you knew that simpler was also healthier? Then why do so many of us insist on choosing the most complicated foods we can find, when the simplest foods are always better?
Case in point: Let's say you had a choice between two seemingly similar products. Both had about the same number of calories, and had similar tastes. Based on these ingredient lists, which would you choose?
Beverage #1: Water; high fructose corn syrup; concentrated juices of orange, tangerine, apple, lime and/or grapefruit; citric acid; ascorbic acid; beta-carotene; thiamin hydrochloride; natural flavors; modified food starch; canola oil; cellulose gum; xanthan gum; sodium hexametaphosphate; sodium benzoate; yellow dyes #5 and 6.
Beverage #2: Fresh-squeezed orange juice.
If you picked beverage #2, you'd be getting three times the vitamin C and about one-eighth the sodium, as well as a nice hit of calcium. But if you picked #1, then you'd be getting a nutritional cocktail made up primarily of water and high fructose corn syrup, with a variety of scary surprises. (Canola oil?!)
Yet many of us pick #1 on a regular basis—those are the ingredients for Sunny Delight original, by the way—because we seem dead-set on complicating our diets. And complicated is always bad. Simpler is always better. (Speaking of nutritionally empty drinks, watch out for these gut-busters with ingredients most of us could never, ever pronounce—this shocking list of the 20 Worst Drinks in America. Take them in even as a weekly treat and you could be adding an extra pound or two of belly fat a month.)
Check out the four popular processed foods below. Each violates the Eat This, Not That! cardinal rule—which is to say, they're just too complicated. Wait till you discover some of the junk we found hiding in each.
What's Really In …
NACHO CHEESE DORITOS (11 chips)
8 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
180 mg sodium
The concept is, well, sort of brilliant: Nachos and cheese without the hassle of a microwave. Or even a plate, for that matter. You just tear open the bag and start snarfing. And as a parting gift, Dorito's leave your fingers sticky with something that looks like radioactive bee pollen. Now here's the question: Do you have any clue what's in that stuff? Here you go:
To create each Dorito, the Frito-Lay food scientists draw from a well of 39 different ingredients. How many does it take to make a regular tortilla chip? About three. That means some 36 ingredients wind up in that weird cheese fuzz. Of those 36, only two are ingredients you'd use to make nachos at home: Romano and cheddar cheeses. Alongside those are a cache of empty carbohydrate fillers like dextrin, maltodextrin, dextrose, flour, and corn syrup solids. Then come a rotating cast of oils. Depending on what bag you get, you might find any combination of corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and sunflower oil. Some of those will be partially hydrogenated, meaning they give the chip a longer shelf life and spike your heart with a little shot of trans fat. (The reason you won't see this on the nutrition label is that FDA guidelines allow food manufacturers to "round down" to zero.)
And then, after the fats and nutritionally empty starches, there's a seasoning blend, which includes things like sugar, "artificial flavoring," and a rather worrisome compound called monosodium glutamate. Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is the flavor enhancer largely responsible for the chip's addicting quality. The drawback is that it interferes with the production of an appetite-regulating hormone called leptin. A study of middle-aged Chinese people found a strong correlation between MSG consumption and body fat. What's more, the FDA receives new complaints every year from people who react violently to MSG, suffering symptoms like nausea, headaches, burning sensation, numbness, chest pains, dizziness, and so on. Talk about radioactive bee pollen.
What's Really In …
SUBWAY 9-GRAIN WHEAT (6")
2 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
410 mg sodium
Okay, so you're probably not in the habit of ordering a la carte bread loaves at Subway, but there’s a good chance you've eaten at least a few sandwiches built on this bread. The good news is that Subway actually delivers on the nine-grain promise. The bad news: Eight of those nine grains appear in miniscule amounts. If you look at a Subway ingredient statement, you'll find every grain except wheat listed at the bottom of the list, just beneath the qualifier "contains 2% or less." In fact, the primary ingredient in this bread is plain old white flour, and high-fructose corn syrup plays a more prominent role than any single whole grain. Essentially this is a white-wheat hybrid with trace amounts of other whole grains like oats, barley, and rye.
So outside of the nine grains, how many ingredients does Subway use to keep this bread together? Sixteen, including such far-from-simple ingredients as DATEM, sodium steroyl lactylate, calcium sulfate, and azodiacarbonamide. But here's one that's a little unnerving: ammonium sulfate. This compound is loaded with nitrogen, which is why it's most common use is as fertilizer. You might have used it to nourish your plants at home. And Subway does the same thing; the ammonium sulfate nourishes the yeast and helps the bread turn brown. What, did you think that dark hue was the result of whole grains? Hardly. It's a combination of the ammonium sulfate and the caramel coloring. Seems like Jarod might frown on that sort of subterfuge.
Of course, in terms of calories, Subway's still one of your best allies in the sandwich game. But here's an even better idea: Whip up one of these 25 best sandwiches in America at home in minutes. You'll save calories, money, and precious time.
What's Really In …
ORIGINAL SKITTLES (1 pack)
2.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated)
47 g sugars
They're sweet, chewy, and brightly colored. Now, what are they? Well, the basic formula for each chewy neon orb is a gross mashup of sugar, corn syrup, and hydrogenated palm kernal oil. That explains why every gram of fat is saturated and each package has more sugar than two twin-wrapped packages of Peanut Butter Twix.
So those three ingredients plus a few extra fillers are basically all it takes to get the general consistency and flavor, but to achieve that color spectrum, Skittles brings in a whole new list of additives. When a Skittles ad tells you to "taste the rainbow," what it's really telling you to do is taste the laboratory-constructed amalgam of nine artificial colors, many of which have been linked to behavioral and attention-deficit problems in children. A few years ago the British journal Lancet published a study linking the artificial additives to hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children, which prompted the Center for Science in the Public Interest to petition the FDA for mandatory labels on artificially colored products. The FDA's response: We need more tests.
In the meantime, there's a very large-scale test going on all across the country, and every Skittles eater is an unwilling participant. And that doesn't even factor in the blood-sugar roller coaster you go on when you ingest a Skittles' bag worth of sugar.
Of course, Skittles look like broccoli, nutritionally speaking, compared to the foods on our new must-know roundup of the 20 Worst Foods in America. Read how there could be more than a day's worth of calories, sugar, and heart-harming trans fats—in a single fast-food or chain-restaurant meal! (More importantly, learn what you should eat instead.)
What's Really In …
TACO BELL MEXICAN PIZZA
30 g fat (8 g saturated)
1,020 mg sodium
It's Italian, it's Mexican, it's . . . well, it's got a whopping 64 different ingredients, so it's hard to tell just what exactly it is. On the face of it, this meal doesn't look too bad. There are two pizza shells, ground beef, beans, pizza sauce, tomatoes, and three cheeses. Nothing alarming, right? Even the nutritional vital signs, while high, compare favorably to most fast-food pizzas. It only gets scary when you zoom in on what it takes to stitch those pieces together. That's when you see all of those 64 smaller ingredients, including an astounding 24 in the ground beef alone. Yikes.
Now, some of those ingredients amount to little more than Mexican seasonings and spices, but there are also loads of complex compounds such as autolyzed yeast extract, maltodextrin, xanthan gum, calcium propionate, fumaric acid, and silicon dioxide. Any of those sound familiar? That last one might—if you've spent any time at the beach. But chances are you normally refer to it by its common name: sand.
That's right, sand is made from fragmented granules of rock and mineral, and the most common of them is silicon dioxide, or silica. This is also the stuff that helps strengthen concrete and—when heated to extreme temperatures—that hardens to create glass bottles and windowpanes.
So why exactly does Taco Bell put sand in the Mexican Pizza? To make it taste like spring break in Cancun? Not quite. As it turns out, Taco Bell adds silica to the beef to prevent it from clumping together during shipping and processing. The restaurant uses the same anti-caking strategy with the chicken, shrimp, and rice.
Is it unusual to add silica to food? Yes. Is it dangerous? Probably not. The mineral actually occurs naturally in all sorts of foods like vegetables and milk.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
It's too bad that restaurants don't make us pay for food by the calorie! We might be a healthier country overall if that happened!
KFC's Double Down is healthy! (uh, compared to these meals ... )
- by The_Stir, on Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:02pm PDT
Now I know why I never take my family out to eat. It's only partly because it costs a fortune and because my kids will sit for all of seven minutes before the game of hide-and-seek under other patrons' tables starts up -- but it's because of those awful CALORIES.
Enter KFC's Double Down, 540 calories of salty bacon and cheese goodness sandwiched between fried chicken. You've heard a lot of talk about this. The guys in my office are in love with this sandwich and regularly make a lunchtime pilgrimage.
I've privately cringed at the thought of such a high-fat lunch, but recently the The Week featured a list of seven popular chain-restaurant meals that make KFC's now infamous Double Down sandwich look like something they'd serve at a weight-loss spa.
I honestly didn't think it possible to cram upward of 4,000 calories and 4,000 mg of salt (twice the recommended daily intake) into a singular midday meal, but here's just a few to prove me wrong.
Beef Back Ribs from Claim Jumper = 4,301 calories and 7,623 mg of salt
Fresh Mex Sampler from Chevys = 2,560 calories and 4,130 mg of salt
Jalapeno Smokehouse Burger from Chili's = 2,130 calories and 6,460 mg of salt
Truthfully, I wasn't shocked about the ribs and burgers being bad for you. But, upon further investigation, I was quite stunned to find that some of the so-called healthy foods I eat for lunch on a regular basis could give the Double-Down a run for its money. Maybe I'll reconsider joining the gang for the next lunch trip ...
Falafel. Deep fried and alone -- without the yogurt sauce that makes them so tasty -- these can run 230 calories per ball or patty, and I always eat at least two or three. In a pita, no less.
Rice and bean burrito. The beans are a great source of protein and fiber, but add the high-calorie rice, wrap, and sour cream that makes them so gooey and yummy and you've got a major fat blast -- upward of 600 calories or more.
Pizza. Even when I use the power towel trick and go with a more authentic, pizza parlor slice with a thin whole-wheat crust and minimal cheese, I'm looking roundabouts at 250 calories a slice. And it's impossible to only eat one. I mean, that crust is so thin ...
Salad. All the good stuff is ruined by the bad stuff we pour on top of it. Whether made with oil such as balsamic vinagrette or cream-based like French or blue cheese, salad dressings are mostly all fat and range from 40 to 90 calories a spoonful. Again, stop at just one? Not me!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
(Also check out the comments in the previous post.)
Here is a good website with more tips to save money. http://www.money-while-you-sleep.biz/50-ways-to-save-money.html
Don’t throw away “dead” batteries. Remove them from your radio and use them in quartz clocks. These clocks take such a small amount of power that batteries too weak to run anything else may have enough power to run a clock for a while.
Wash and reuse plastic bags.
Hang your laundry on the line to dry. Save on dryer sheets and electricity, and I guarantee you will love the fresh scent of Mother Nature!
Get rid of cable. Who needs 100 channels of crap?
During the winter, leave the oven open after you cook to heat the house.
Buy gender neutral baby clothing so you can use them again with the next baby.
Make your kids Halloween costumes. It’s cheaper and more fun. Those will be the costumes they remember most.
Start an errand Service. Offer to pick up groceries or dry cleaning for others.
Waiting service. People these days don’t have time to wait on the plumber of cable guy. Charge by the hour to do the waiting for other people.
Buy back packs that your kids can use for years. While they might think the Sponge Bob Square pants one is cool in 2nd grade, they probably won’t think it’s cool in 4th.
Use kitchen towels and cloth napkins instead of paper products. Stop using plastic straws, you know how to drink out of a cup?! Avoid buying/taking plastic utensils. If you must, bring home, wash, and reuse. Most can be washed in dishwasher.
Before you purchase anything online, go to Google and search for the name of the store + coupon and see if anything comes up. You will be pleasantly surprised how many coupon codes are available online.
Turn off the TV! Did you know that leaving the television on is the number one electricity waster in the world? When everyone is finished watching television, especially before going to sleep, turn it off.
At the grocery store look down. Items below eye level are often cheaper.