Canned Fruit

I love canned fruit, it’s so easy to just pop open a can and have some fruit.  I like to keep mine in the fridge and eat them cold.  Pears, peaches and fruit cocktail are my favorites.  However canned fruits do contain some sugar (and some might have corn syrup as well).  Does the sugar cancel out the health benefits (fiber, nutrients and vitamins) of eating the fruit?

A quick google of “Canned fruit nutrition facts” brought up this page http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1992/2 which talks about canned peaches.  29g of sugar sounds like a lot, but it’s only 10% of the daily value, so a normal person would eat about 300g a day.  3 grams of fiber sounds like a lot less, but it’s 11% of the DV so that’s pretty good.

When I have a choice (possibly just with peaches) I buy the fruit in “light” syrup.  That cuts down the sugar a little bit.  Also, when I open the can, I pour off a good bit of the syrup, merely because it makes it easier to eat, but a good bit of that sugar is in the syrup so I suppose I’m cutting it down even more?

I also like the fact that canned fruit doesn’t rot in my fruit bowl if I forget about it, so that convenience factor is hard to ignore.

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Training on Hold

I haven’t written in a while.. I’ve been very busy with other things that are not running or food related.  My training, which has been non-existent the last couple of weeks, has pretty much been put on hold.  It’s been much too hot here for running outside and I still can’t get the treadmill to work so running inside is not an option either.

I’ve missed the last two races on my schedule, I didn’t even register for them.  Both times I had to be out of town that weekend on work related things.  The next race is not until September 11th.  I haven’t seen anything on the schedule for August and it would probably be too damn hot anyway.

I injured my hand last weekend and needed 6 stitches in my index finger and 3 in my thumb, so I’ve been on the mend.  I guess you could say I’ve been on the IR.. Even missed a couple days of work.  Thankfully it’s getting better and I’ll get the stitches out early next week.

Hopefully things will settle down soon and I can  get back on schedule.

A Full Serving of Vegetables

Apparently someone had a conference and decided that this years big tagline for items would be that they contained a “Full Serving of Vegetables”… This stuff is everywhere now.  I don’t like this, since this toes that line of deceptive marketing or trying to push something that’s not healthy as if it is… the kind of stuff that makes people not like food companies.

Motts Medley Juices:  This one kinda baffles me a little bit.  According to the website and the commercials, this juice has 2 servings of fruit and vegetables “magically hidden” in every 8 oz glass.  Magic is right.  The three juice flavors range from 22 to 30 grams of sugar per serving, and that’s it.. the rest of the nutrition label is zeros.  Fruits don’t have fat, so that’s a pass.. but isn’t the point of eating your however many servings of vegetables a day actually.. well eating them? Where’s the fiber? Where’s the vitamins? So you throw in some ascorbic acid and wow.. you have 100% DV of Vitamin C, but what about all the others? I don’t see how this counts as a “serving” of fruits and veggies.

Chef Boyardee: I will admit, I love some Chef Boyardee, but it’s a guilty pleasure of the “only have 5 minutes to eat so I’ll just nuke something” variety.  It’s not health food.  Oh, it has the vegetables in it, for sure.. It’s full of tomatoes and probably got some onions and garlic in there somewhere too, but the whole advertising campaign with the lady banging on pots and pans cause the kids won’t eat it if they know it has vegetables in it? Silly.. and misleading.  Oh, and tomatoes are a fruit anyway.

There was a third thing I saw advertised recently as having a dubious claim to a “full serving of vegetables” but now for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.

Disney Tips for First Timers

(I’ve been on a serious travel kick lately, probably because I haven’t been anywhere in a while.)

A year ago (May 2009) my wife and I honeymooned at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  It was her first trip ever and it was my first trip in about 12 years.  A lot has changed since the last time I was there (Animal Kingdom didn’t even exist yet) and we learned a lot that we are putting into use with already planning our next trip.  These tips are mostly for first timers but veteran Disneyians can use these too if they don’t already know them.

Stay on Park Property: Disney has a wide range of properties, from the value (82$/night) to the luxurious (300+ a night).  Disney on a budget? The Value resorts are a value indeed.  82$ a night includes 4 people.  The Holiday Inn at Downtown Disney area? 85$ a night for September 19-23 (Value season dates, the cheapest Disney dates).  Same price, but without the Disney benefits.  What do you get for staying on park property? You can take a bus, boat or monorail from your hotel to the parks, which means no driving, and no $12 a day parking.  Plus, you can buy anything in a gift shop and have it sent back to your room instead of carrying it around.  But the biggest perk for staying at a Disney resort? Disney Magic Hours.  Want to get into the Magic Kingdom 2 hours before everyone else? How about stay at Hollywood Studios 3 hours after they close? That’s right, you get in early or get to stay late, depending on the day and the park.

Bring your walking shoes: Disney is a big park.  EPCOT is enormous, and Animal Kingdom is even bigger.  You will walk until you can walk no more.  But you have plenty of time, there’s no need to be in a hurry to get anywhere (we made this mistake).  Take breaks often and be prepared to be standing a lot (in lines for rides).

Skip the fries: Obvious health benefits aside, my wife and I took advantage of this because we didn’t want to be walking around in the heat with a stomach full of greasy food.  Most of the sandwich shops (Cosmic Rays/Magic Kingdom, Electric Umbrella/EPCOT, etc) offer a side of grapes or apple slices depending on the location.  Picky kids? Who doesn’t like chicken tenders and grapes? This was refreshing during the heat of the summer.

Use Fast Pass: This is one of the cool things they’ve added since the last time I visited.  Don’t want to stand in line for Space Mountain for 3 hours? Grab a fast pass, come back when it tells you too and then jump to the front of the line! You find the kiosk, put in your park ticket and it gives you the fast pass to come back at a certain time.  The times it gives you depends on how long the lines are expected to be and how many people have already gotten passes that day.  You might get a pass at Space Mountain at 9AM that tells you to come back at 2 in the afternoon because that many people have already gotten their passes.  There are limits which I don’t remember right off the top of my head (I think one pass, per ride at a time).  Sometimes if you come up to a ride that has a short line, and the fast pass is only 30-45 minutes away, you can grab the fast pass, then wait in line to ride, come out and then immediately ride again using your fast pass (we did this with Splash Mountain, which quickly became my wife’s favorite).  There’s usually one big ride per park that everyone will flock to either to get in line or to get a Fast Pass.  Space Mountain/Magic Kingdom, Soaring/EPCOT, Test Track/EPCOT, Tower of Terror/Hollywood Studios and Escape from Everest/Animal Kingdom are some of the biggies.  Grab your fast pass, then spend the 3 hours walking around doing other things, come back and ride your ride.  This is an awesome concept.  And they don’t shut the ride down for the whole 30 minutes and make everyone wait, they will load one car from the Fast Pass line, one car from the regular line and alternate back and forth like that.  You still wait a little with the Fast Pass, but it’s a shorter line.

Learn the Patterns, Avoid the Crowds: When we went last May, Space Mountain was closed for renovations, but it should be opened back up by now.  If you go to the Magic Kingdom first thing in the morning, once the gate opens everyone will hitch a hard right to Tomorrowland (Magic Kingdom is basically a big circle).  So what do you do? Talk a left and a leisurely stroll into Adventureland and you will be first in line at Pirates of the Caribbean because you will have the place to yourself.  While everyone else is in line at Space Mountain (if you don’t want to ride, or have already ridden it on your trip) you can probably hit up the Jungle Cruise, Pirates and Haunted Mansion before the first Space Mountainers start coming out.
EPCOT is a little more tricky since you have Test Track on one side and Soarin on the other, which are both huge draws, but you can still avoid them if you wish.  Head straight up the middle to the giant globe, called Spaceship Earth, which actually has a ride built inside it! I haven’t been to Hollywood Studios in a long while (Back when it was MGM Studios, we didn’t visit there on our trip last year) but assuming most people will go for Tower of Terror, you can head straight back to the back of the park and ride The Great Movie Ride or Star Tours or do the Backlot tour.  If you just HAVE to do the big draw rides, that’s fine, but if you would like you can avoid them for a much less crowded trip.

Visit in September/October: Disney is slam packed in the summer.  Why? All the young ones are on vacation from school of course.  If you don’t have school age kids (or you can somehow get them a couple days off with a nice note) the best time to visit Disney is the off season.  It’s cheaper, it’s cooler and it’s less crowded.  My family went one time in November, the week before Thanksgiving, and we had the place (almost literally) to ourselves.  My sister and I stood under the EPCOT globe with not another soul in sight.  My wife and I went in May since it was after graduation and my parents had gifted us the trip as a honeymoon/graduation celebration present.  It was hot, and it rained the day we were at EPCOT.  Next time we are going in October. It’s 99 degrees right now in North Carolina, you couldn’t PAY me to go to Disney right now.

Skip the ParkHopper: Park Hopper is neat, it allows you to leave one park and visit another.  Normally once you validate your ticket at one park, you have to stay at that park for the rest of the day (You can leave of course, but only reenter the one park).  While it is a neat option, it costs extra, and especially for the first timer, you’re probably going to want to spend a whole day with each park anyway to see it all.  EPCOT is a two day adventure anyway, so there’s no reason to do a half-day at Magic Kingdom and then half-day at EPCOT.  Also, skip the never expire option.  Back when I was a kid, Disney tickets never expired, so my parents would always buy a 10 day pass for each of us, we’d use 6 days one trip, use the rest 2 years later etc.  Now they make you pay extra for that.  Yes, a 10 day ticket is cheaper per day then a 5 day ticket, but paying extra for the never expire kills your discount so just buy “length of stay tickets”.

I could probably go on, but this is already getting long.  Maybe soon there will be a Disney Tips 2.  Or I can just start writing my Disney Travel Guide.  I think I’ll get on that.  Hope this helps!

Cheap Eats Pasta Bake

I stole this recipe from a college roommate of mine, and it’s great because it’s so flexible.  I went out and bought the ingredients to make it today, almost all of which were on sale, so I’ll have a good dinner I can eat off of for 3 or 4 days because there will be leftovers for sure.  You can make it with chicken, beef cubes, ham or no meat, the choice is yours. Beside the ingredients I’ll list the price I got them for today.  I didn’t buy chicken since I already had it, but for the sake of argument we’ll say I paid the Food Lion sale price which is 1.86 a pound.

Ingredients:
1 pound chicken ($1.86)
1 pound penne pasta ($1.25)
2 cans cream of mushroom condensed ($1.15 each/$2.30)
1 can peas ($0.50)
1 can corn ($0.50)
1 can green beans ($0.50)
1 can stewed tomatos ($0.89)
2 cups cheddar cheese (one bag/ $1.33)
Oil/Salt/Pepper to taste.

Total price of ingredients: $9.13
I will eat on this for 3 or 4 days, the box of pasta is 8 servings, plus all the chicken and veggies so I’ll be generous and say it’s 12 servings.
Price per serving: $0.76 <— Can’t beat that with even a dollar menu.

It’s also dead easy to make.
Cook the pasta as directed, drain and return to the large pot.
Brown the chicken in a skillet with oil salt and pepper until cooked through.
Add soup (no water), drained peas, corn, green beans, tomatoes (with juice) and 3/4 of the cheese to the pasta and stir until warmed and cheese is melted.
Mix chicken into pasta mixture.
Pour into 2 qt baking dish, top with rest of the cheese, season with salt and pepper.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 25 minutes until hot and cheese melted.
Top with Bacos (if desired).  The Baco’s add a nice crunch, and they are soy so they can be used with the vegetarian version as well.  We’ve made this in the past with veggies only, but if you wanted a “meat” you could certainly add tofu or a meat sub but I’ve never made it that way.

It’s that easy, and it’s delicious and CHEAP.  Pasta and canned veggies.

Freedom of Speech

As those of us in America celebrate our nations 234th birthday today, much has been said recently about our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.  One of the greatest freedoms we have in America (as evidenced by this blog and millions like it) is the freedom of speech.

The First Amendment to the Constitution give us the rights of free speech, religious expression and peaceful assembly.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So many people though abuse this freedom and use it spew hate.  Slander, libel and hate are NOT protected by the First Amendment and those who invoke it’s name for such don’t understand freedom.

My favorite saying about freedom of speech comes (ironically) from the great French writer Voltaire – “I disagree strongly with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

On this anniversary of our independence remember it is the soldier who gives us these rights.  Those who oppose war and protest against it (such as in Vietnam and our recent Middle East conflicts) the soldier gives his life so you can protest his actions.

Right Size and other Lies

The last couple of days I’ve been hearing commercials on the radio for the Right Size weight loss smoothies and two questions come to mind.  A. Does anyone actually buy this stuff? B. If they do, do they actually expect it to work?  The answers to these questions can be answered by two very old adages.  David Hannum “There’s a sucker born every minute – 1869” and Thomas Tusser “A fool and his money are soon parted – 1557”.  The commercials are ridiculous and they don’t even hide the facts.  “It will make you feel full so you eat less” – What makes you feel full without calories? Fiber.. High amounts of fiber in a diet suddenly can add all kinds of bad side effects like stomach distress.  And a biogenic monoamine that turns on the bodies fat burning and turns off appetite? I’m not sure the comparison to methamphetamines is a good idea.  Does this even work?  There’s a word for this.. it’s called starvation.  You’re paying half your paycheck a month to NOT EAT.  Of course you will lose weight on this but you will feel like crap and you will gain it all back the second you even sniff a cheeseburger.  Water and fiber are not a diet.  At least eat celery.. it’s cheaper.  Losing weight is hard work.. trust me I know.. but there is no “magic pill” or “magic shake” that will take the work away.. sorry, it just doesn’t work like that.

Another thing that bugs me is TV diet ads that lie to your face and apparently can get away with it.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a “magic pill” or a prescription strength thing like Alli or even a real program that works like Weight Watchers, they are all guilty of it.  They give you an amazing success story of someone (usually a woman, except the Nutrisystem commercials on ESPN) who lost 250 pounds in 6 months and they are so excited, but wait.. then they hit you with the disclaimer….

RESULTS NOT TYPICAL

I could understand something like “Individual results may vary” because different people will react differently, but “Results Not Typical” flat out says that MOST of the time the product does not work that well.  The reason for the disclaimer? Lawsuits of course.  Now they are protected from people who only lose 5 pounds and sue that the product doesn’t work, since they can say they clearly stated that the product may not give the desired result.

Welcome to the 1860’s, now let me sell you some snake oil.  And if you buy that I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona.

  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.