Friday, June 10, 2011

Fridays Food Finds

Food Web Sites and Tools

  • Fork & Bottle: Best Food Forums Do you like to talk about food, wine, or even coffee? Then you need to check this site out. There is a list of various forum links with ongoing discussions in each one of these topics! Although it says this site hasn't been updated since September 2008, the list of forums offered is pretty extensive and each of them is still going. I have found a forum to my liking - the Sustainability one, of course (although it is in the process of moving right now), and I may even start to explore some of the others! *Note: this link is part of a larger site Fork & Bottle, that you may want to check out in full!
Food Reads
  • What if the U.S.D.A. Subsidized Gardens? I absolutely love this post, probably because I LOVE stories through pictures - make sure you click on the graphic in Bittman's post and truly read it. Then ask yourself - What do you think about where our country spends its food money?
  • Sedentary Work and Obesity: Another View This is a MUST READ. It is short, but I want you to think about this. I will have a post to share my own viewpoints about this and I am disappointed that the Times did not publish this letter.
  • 5 Ways to Sabotage Weight Loss If you are on the path to a healthier weight and you are wondering what things you could be doing to make sure it sticks, this post by Skinny Mom's Kitchen will at least give you 5 things to AVOID!
Good Food (Recipes)
  • Homemade Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal Recipe I have to give this a shot. Since I was trying it, I thought I'd share it too!
  • Oven-Baked Salmon I had salmon, I decided to look for something to do with it. This came up. It was so common sense, so simple, so ridiculous, I said, "Sure, why not?" It was awesome. We had some lemon on the side while we ate. I feel like I want to make salmon every night now :)
  • Baked Eggs with Herbs I have written of my obsession with eggs on this blog before - Why haven't I ever BAKED them? This seems brilliant to me. It's on my list!!
  • Tell the Girl Scouts How Big the Gluten-Free Market Is! If you missed my ONE post this week, please check it out. I can't believe the Girl Scouts' argument. If they said anything else I probably wouldn't be this adamant, but our grocery stores are being overrun by gluten-free products - there MUST BE a demand for them!
  • Get to the Fracking Action Center at Food & Water Watch to find out what you can do to ensure that fracking is not happening in your community, and to learn how you can support efforts to protect the nation's water.
Do you have a food website, tool, food read, recipe or food fight you think I should check out and share with the readers of Searching for Sustenance? If so e-mail me at!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tell The Girl Scouts How Big the Gluten-Free Market Is!

I have to say that I was late to the party. I didn't understand how delicious Girl Scout cookies were until just adulthood. I don't know how I missed it...

However, I made up for lost time. There are three separate girl scout families that would vie for my business because if yesterday's post about my Costco shopping has taught you anything about me, I like to stock up. So the Riveras would buy multiple boxes of multiple flavors: Thin Mints would go right in the freezer for a cool treat in the summer, or mixed into ice cream (YUM!). I'd buy multiple boxes of peanut butter cookies of all types for my husband and for surprise treats when my brother would visit. I always love a basic shortbread cookie, so I'd get some Trefoils and All Abouts, and, lord help me, I'd get the Samoas and I'd hide them all over the place (some at work, some at home). I was a master at making them last the entire year, so that I'd be finishing up my last Thin Mints when the next year's order was coming in.

Then last year, in June, I was told I could no longer have gluten. I had to give away my Thin Mints. I had to give away all the cookies I bought - I could eat none of them. That wasn't surprising to me. I had to give away a lot of things. What did surprise me, however, was when I investigated the Girl Scout's gluten-free offerings this year and found NONE. I was heart-broken and confused. So many of the sites where I find gluten-free information are designed for parents of Celiac children or children on a gluten-free diet. I asked my husband, "What if your kid is a Girl Scout and they can't have gluten?"

Sometimes, when I ask questions answers come from unexpected sources. Here's the girl I was, unknowingly, thinking of on the day I did my own GF Girl Scout cookie search:

Her name is Elle. She lives right here in New York and she has Celiac disease. Her mom is helping her to tell the Girl Scouts that she, and others like her (ME!!) have been left out. So far all the Girl Scouts have to say about it is THERE ISN'T ENOUGH DEMAND TO INVEST IN SUCH A PRODUCT.

You know what that means - we're making today another TAKE ACTION TUESDAY! Ladies and gentlemen of the gluten-free community and our supporters, please take a moment now to sign this petition created by Elle's mother to let the Girl Scouts know THE DEMAND EXISTS and some of it is within their own troops!

(Petition Link in case the widget isn't showing up:

Please share this with others and spread the word!!

The Foods I Buy at CostCo

When I first got married I had a really serious cooking problem: there were only two people in the house and I kept cooking as if there were at least five! I immediately began to blame my CostCo shopping - How could I continue to buy in bulk and be expected to make sensible meals? I thought it was impossible, but I was wrong.

I can happily say that I have gotten my cooking portions under control and I am still able to shop at my local CostCo to get some deals and stock up on things we need without going back and forth to the grocery store every couple of days.

These are some of the staple items my husband and I buy at CostCo:

Pacific Natural Foods Organic Low-sodiumchicken Broth, 4-Count, 8-Ounce Cartons (Pack of 6)1. Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth - This is my favorite chicken broth. It is organic and, for me, thankfully, it is GLUTEN-FREE. I use this daily and we go through it very quickly. At Costco we get a 6 pack of 32 ounces cartons for $10.99. Before they are opened they can be stored in the pantry, then the opened cartons must be refrigerated.

Earthly Delights Organic Premium 100 Percent Quinoa Whole Grain 4 Pound Resealable Bag 2. Nature's Earthly Choice Quinoa - We love quinoa in this house! I have written about quinoa a couple of times (a yummy salad recipe, learning about all about "the mother grain"), and probably should a couple more with the amount of plate-space it takes up in this house! When I look for it in regular grocery stores I keep finding very small boxes and/or bags that were perfect when I didn't know what I was getting into, but now that we moved to big time quinoa consumers, we gladly snag up the 4lb. bags for $9.39 each.

3. Premio Italian Sweet Sausages - I nearly fell over when I first realized that Premio Italian Sausages were GLUTEN-FREE. We are super fans of Italian sausage here - we have it with homemade marinara sauce and pasta, we have sausage and peppers and we've even had some sausage and quinoa meals that have been pretty yummy. When I had to go gluten-free, I thought I lost sausage forever and then I found Premio! Then I discovered that they are sold at Costco - so we get 4 six packs for $13.99. We keep them in the freezer until we are ready to use them!
Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips, 7 oz
4. FOOD SHOULD TASTE GOOD MULTIGRAIN CHIPS - I know I've written about these before! I love these chips!! I like to have them with salsa. My husband likes them with hummus. We eat them all the time and whoever dares to eat the last chip in the bag knows that he/she will receive the hairy eyeball until apologies are made. At Costco we get a nice giant 24 oz. bag for $6.29 that is more than enough for us to share for quite a while.

Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins Cracker Snacks, Hint of Sea Salt Nut, 4.25-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 12)5. Nut Thins - We were super happy today to find out that Costco just started carrying another of our favorite snack foods: NUT THINS!! And they were in OUR FAVORITE FLAVOR (almond with a hint of salt)! They had a box with two 10 ounce bags for $7.89. I can not remember off-hand what the size or price of the regular box is in my regular grocery store, but we found it simply impossible to pass up such a large box of these yummy crunchies!

6. Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Frozen Filets - This makes things very easy for me. The package has eight 5 ounce individually wrapped filets. Whenever we are going to have salmon, I take two filets out of the freezer in the morning, put them in the fridge and then prepare them at dinner time. It is not necessarily cheap, but it is the one fish we eat regularly and it is nice to have them handy for a quick meal. The package costs $28.00, so we space out our salmon eating to make sure it lasts for a long time. Since there are just two of us, the package is good for four meals, so I guess $7 per meal isn't too bad, but it is one of our pricier purchases so we consider it a luxury!

There are more foods that we buy at Costco, but, aside from the snacks, those four items we buy exclusively at Costco to make sure we are stocked up!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Time to Choose My Plate with the USDA

The Plate is here! Upon first glance, I must honestly say, I wasn't too impressed, but after a closer examination, I am changing my tune. Here are some of the things I really like about the USDA's new nutritional icon:

The Halves Have It

When we think of a good, nutritious meal the picture in our mind often is of a plate full of all that satiates us. Our problem, however, is how we stack that plate. Look closely at how this place setting is arranged - vertically, our plate has been cut down the middle.
  • The Left-Hand Side The entire left hand side of the plate is dedicated to fruits and vegetables. How often does your plate look this way? One of the first changes I have made in my quest for healthier eating was to make sure that half of my dinner plate had vegetables on it - it is a simple visual change you can make to every meal you eat.
  • The Right-Hand Side On the other side of the plate are the grains and proteins, but look closely at how that space is divvied up. The protein, often what people think of first when designing their meal, is actually a very small proportion of it! How much plate real estate does your protein usually require? Again, with no measurements, just visualizing your plate you can be on the road to more healthful eating by following this diagram.

The Education Series is User-friendly & Jam-Packed

The USDA website created a bunch of other materials to go along with the plate icon, in order to help people, who are curious, to further delve into their new Nutritional plate information. One of my favorite and, I think, essential add-ons is their Ten Tips Nutritional Education Series where 10 Tips to a Great Plate sheet is Tip Sheet #1.

In addition to this sheet, you will find sheets for each of the following that are just as simple and concrete. They are understandable actions we can take to walk the path to healthier eating!

Add More Vegetables to Your Day
Focus on Fruits
Make Half Your Grains Whole
Got Your Dairy Today?
With Protein Foods, Variety Is Key
Build a Healthy Meal
Healthy Eating for Vegetarians
Smart Shopping for Veggies and Fruits
Liven up Your Meals With Vegetables and Fruits
Kid-Friendly Veggies and Fruits
Be a Healthy Role Model for Children
Cut Back on Your Kid's Sweet Treats
Salt and Sodium
And, according to the web site there are even more tips to come!!

The Website Feel Promising
With talks of more tips to come,  and a box containing a "Tip of the Day" it does not seem too far-fetched that this website will continue to have something to offer users as time goes by. Some of the interactive tools still have the "MyPyramid" title on them, but, otherwise, almost everything I checked out seems to be updated to work with the new "MyPlate" system.

Some of the reasons why I think everyone should check into for themselves are:
  • The sections on guidelines for Specific Audiences - such as those Breastfeeding, looking to lose weight or with kids.
  • Play around with some of the interactive tools, like making your own Personal Daily Food Plan based on your physique and physical activity.
  • Just to learn more about the basic food groups or your food, in general!
There's lots to do over there, so just pop in and out, see what you find, see what you learn and share it with others!

Some Quick Reservations
There are just a couple of things I am a little disappointed in at this point and I am hoping are on their way.

In terms of the "Special Audiences" section of the website, I was expecting to see something for vegetarians, those with food allergies, or even those with food-related illnesses such as Diabetes or Celiac. While it could be argued that such information should be dealt with medical professionals and not in such a broad-strokes fashion that the Internet requires, I think some mention of even this fact would be appreciated.

I was disappointed to find the "MyPyramid" label on some of the Interactive tools. I doubt this changes the effectiveness of these tools, but if I have decided to Choose My Plate, I would like the Tracker and Meal Planner to coincide with that choice. Hopefully it does, or at least maybe it will. The difference can't be that extreme, can they?  


All in all, I have to say Kudos to the USDA!

The food groups are back, clearly labeled, proportioned and laid out, ready to eat. The resources on the site are helpful, the tips are doable, and understandable to a wide audience. I can look at each of my meals and pretty much determine where I stand in terms of the new guidelines, without the help of tons of tools, but if I wish to dive deeper into my nutrition there are even more specific guidelines and tools to personalize my experience.
How does the plate look to you?
Are you already doing this?
Is there something you wish the USDA added/subtracted?

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