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Food Rants and Likes 9-28-10

It's About Time I Got Back To Publishing!

Many of you have asked why I’ve issued no newsletters all summer, or have wondered why I removed you from my mailing list. Frankly, I’ve been too busy bicycling, camping, traveling, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors to come inside on a nice weekend and park my butt at a computer! Unlike past summers, my workload at Gold’s didn’t lessen, so I’ve continued training long hours. Now days are shorter, the weather is erratic, I’ve become a warm-weather cyclist, so you’ll be hearing me rant and rave on a regular basis now about Stuff I Like and Stuff I Laugh At!

Shocking News: Bacon, Hot Dogs, Sausage, Lunch Meat are Crap!

The link between heart disease and diabetes appears to really be about processed meats, not fresh red meat. Confirmation once again that all that handy, already-sliced product in the deli case is bad for your heart. Just walk away and buy some lean ground sirloin or turkey breast.

 “Healthy people who tended to eat a lot of preserved meats like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and cold cuts were much more likely than those who rarely touch the stuff to go on to develop heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. The more they ate, the higher the risk,” says Deborah Franklin, one of the researchers, writing at

Eating unprocessed red meat with the same amount of fat — steaks, hamburgers, lamb chops and the like — showed no such effect,” she added.

Scientists are trying to figure out just why these processed meat products are so unhealthy. It could be the extra salt, the nitrates and other preservatives, the way it’s cooked, or something else yet to be determined. 

Read the study in the American Heart Journal 

So You Think You Eat Well?

I constantly talk about how nutrition is more important than training. Eat the best food you can get your hands on. The quality of your nutrition is more important than the quantity. In my opinion, very few of those who think they eat healthily actually do.

Brian St. Pierre, a nutritionist with Cressey Performance, feels just as strongly about this. Writing in, he says that consistently making good food choices “is the true linchpin to body composition success.” Here are five foods he says will quickly add to the quality of your calories and help you transform your physique. 

Sprouted grains, rather than “whole grains.” Quoting St. Pierre, 

“most whole-grain breads in supermarkets today are complete crap.” 

Without going into a rant about sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, let me say I agree. Sprouted grain-based breads, such as Ezekiel Bread, have much higher vitamin content, very nice fiber levels, complete protein, and little affect on your blood sugar. You’ll find Ezekiel Bread in the freezer case in the health food areas of Copps, Festival and Woodmans. This is the only bread in my house; well actually, in the freezer or fridge, as it contains no preservatives, you must keep it refrigerated. Toast it before eating. Smeared with some natural peanut butter, accompanied by a strong cup of coffee, it’s wonderful!

Pasture Butter. Yeah, this is a new one to me, also. Turns out to simply be butter from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows. It’s high in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2, and contains a high concentration of the short-chain fatty acid butyrate. Studies are showing butyrate to actually help reverse the effect of metabolic syndrome (in other words, lose bodyweight, decrease cholesterol, fasting insulin and triglyceride levels and at the same time increase insulin sensitivity). As if this isn’t enough good news, pasture butter contains a good amount of omega-3 and CLA (anti-cancer).

Coconut Oil is next in this listing of Super Foods. I’ve not used coconut oil myself, yet, but have long been aware of it’s health benefits. St. Pierre says it’s critical to find unrefined, organic, extra-virgin oil. This oil is high in saturated fat, but this fat is MCT, or medium-chain triglycerides. MCT’s have legendary properties. They digest without bile, are absorbed intact, without breaking down, and perhaps the best news, your body wants to use them as fuel rather than store them as bodyfat. I used MCT oil in the 1970s and ‘80s, when it was popular in the bodybuilding world. At the time I didn’t know too much about the health benefits; I was using it to help me lost body fat.

Chia Seeds are on the list. These have been around since the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans, who used them daily. Chia have more soluble fiber, more antioxidants, and about the same omega-3 content as flax. These seeds absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, helping you become full quickly and developing long-term energy. Research shows that chia seeds are  good for diabetics, those with celiac disease, and they can lower cholesterol. You can sprinkle them in your yogurt or oatmeal.

Cacao Nibs are last on the list. This is hardcore dark chocolate, 100% cacao. Two tablespoons contains nearly 5 grams of fiber, similar to flax. But the antioxidant content is why Cacao nibs are on this list; they are rich in catechins and polyphenols. These two components are a big part of the reason red wine and tea are always touted as health-inducing drinks. 

“These antioxidants help cacao to lower LDL cholesterol, decrease blood pressure, improve vascular and platelet function, and decrease the risk of heart disease,” writes St. Pierre.

Add to Greek yogurt or your protein shakes. Cacao is a little bitter, so it’s not really suitable to eating like a candy bar, but you owe it to yourself to add it to your smoothies.

Read the entire article at

   Steger Nutrition on Northland Ave., in Appleton, sells Organic Valley Pasture Butter, and various brands of Chia Seeds, Cacao Nibs and Coconut Oil. Owner Mark Steger is passionate about health and helping his customers become more knowledgeable about these foods. I encourage you to shop there, and ask questions of his staff. 297 W. Northland Ave., (920) 739-1042.

Books About Food I Like

 I’m going to play catchup and tell you about some worthy books published this summer.  You owe it to yourself and your health to be proactive and learn what makes your body work properly; some of these books will help you. Use the information to stay a step ahead of the food marketers who don’t care about your health, only about your money.

   “The Face On Your Plate: The Truth About Food” is written from the perspective of a former Freudian psychoanalyst who is now a vegan. You’re wondering how I can relate to author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson - I know you are. But I enjoy how he presents his wide-ranging views. Masson has fresh takes on meat-eating, being a vegan, and how we think and feel about food. It’s a bit touchy-feely for me, but I like his style. 

I appreciate his saying “We want the steak but don’t want to hear about the slaughterhouse.” On my plate, I indeed want the steak. 


A scary allergic reaction on the part of her daughter  started Robyn O’Brien on her crusade to unearth the truth about the relationship between what she terms Big Food and Big Money. Her book “The Unhealthy Truth” comes from her experiences since then. She has strong opinions about food allergies and why they are on the rise,  and O’Brien shares my disdain for soy, milk and corn! This concerned parent is unafraid to take on the medical community, the food industry and government regulators. 

Helping make “The Unhealthy Truth” more than a shrill expose of our corrupt food supply are the chapters in which O’Brien presents answers and solutions, from food choices and menu decisions to tools for change. “The Unhealthy Truth” provides valuable information.

Cookbooks appeal to me, yet I barely cook! I love food, but don’t include enough variety in my diet. However, a good cookbook is inspiring, and “Earth To Table” is one. Authors Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann talk about utilizing locally-grown foods, in season, in your kitchen. They embrace the cause of “slow food”, explaining why locally grown and sustainable organic food supplies should be a goal for all of us. Their recipes are logical and easy to understand; the book reads like a novel. Even better, “Earth To Table” is a beauty to read and hold. 

How’s this for a book’s opening line:  “What do obesity, heart disease, depression, diabetes and fibromyalgia have in common? The answer is vitamin D deficiency.”

In “The Vitamin D Solution,” a strong case is presented that vitamin D goes far beyond supporting bone health, and that increasing intake can treat, prevent and even reverse daily ailments, from high blood pressure to back pain, can lessen the symptoms of diabetes and arthritis, and actually fight cancer, H1N1 and tuberculosis. Dr. Michael Holick, the author, even goes so far as to give vitamin D credit for helping improve fertility, weight control, memory and mood.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? My first thought was, ‘if this is right, why isn’t vitamin D on the front page of every magazine and newspaper in the world?’ I cannot answer that, but reading this book certainly sent me out to buy some Vitamin D!

Earth To Table by Jeff Crump and Betting Schormann, Ecco Press, $34.99

The Vitamin D Solution by Dr. Michael Holick, Hudson Street Press, $25.95

The Face On Your Plate: The Truth About Food by Jeffrey Joussaieff Masson, WW Norton, $14.95

The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother’s Shocking Investigation into the Dangers of America’s Food Supply - And What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itself by Robyn O’Brien, Broadway Books, $14.99

Contact John Koenig at

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