12 October 2010

yes, we're a community!

I just read this article in the NYTimes on food communities and I thought, yes! That's us @ itsjustfood! O! The possibilities!

11 October 2010

Breakfast Meeting

I think the ugliest times our family had when I was a girl was when my dad tried to make me eat breakfast. It was so bad! He knew I needed to eat and I had absolutely no appetite. And, I was a teenager. It would start at home and often last the entire car ride to school. Dad knew the importance of the first meal of the day, but I knew I felt fine without it.

Not so much anymore! I can lose steam real quick with no food, no calories to give me energy. What's that they say? Eat like a queen for breakfast, a princess for lunch and a pauper for dinner.

The PBS Breakfast Special reminded me how, well... how special breakfast is! When I travel to new lands, I like to figure out the breakfast foods. Most of my favorite breakfast restaurants these days serve only breakfast and they're quaint little places to which I'd love to take my dad.

So, here's sort of a meme to get us all re-acquainted. Cut and paste it into the comment section and answer away! My answers are here to get things started.

What's your favorite breakfast?
What's your favorite place to eat breakfast?
Describe you favorite breakfast beverage.

What do you do to make you breakfast healthier?
Do you ever skip breakfast?

What's your favorite breakfast? It's a toss up between sausage and waffles AND rice and steamed salmon
What's your favorite place to eat breakfast? my all time favorite place is this place in Pingtung, Taiwan. I posted a picture of breakfast from there in one of my first blog posts. I never was real sure what I was getting for breakfast because I can't read Mandarin! Plus, what you would actually get on your plate would depend on what was actually available. Meals were served inside or out and you were free to sit with friends and linger the day away.
Here, now I really enjoy Three Sisters, a house converted into a restaurant that serves breakfast all day!Describe you favorite breakfast beverage. coffee with sugar and warm milk
What do you do to make you breakfast healthier? I'll eat oatmeal with soymilk and walnuts
Do you ever skip breakfast? not anymore!

07 October 2010

The Debate over High-Fructose Corn Syrup's Name

You read well. High-fructose corn syrup producers asked the Food and Drug Administration the authorization to use the name "Corn Sugar" instead, on food labels.

Here is a fact: The American Medical Association says our bodies process high-fructose corn syrup just as they process cane sugar. In other words, the-maybe-soon-to-be-called "corn syrup", which is widely used in processed food, is not to blame for a weight intake or obesity. Because it hasn't been scientifically proven otherwise.


That said, a Princeton University research, introduced in an article written by Hilary Parker claims otherwise: High-fructose corn syrup prompt considerably more weight gain. True or False?

Then why change the name?

Because regardless high-fructose corn syrup is singled out by some health-conscious persons. Not dietitians, but still people who just don't want it in the food they consume. HFCS is said to sound "too scientific," not natural enough... Would calling it "corn syrup" really make a difference in that case in people's minds? I am not sure. I actually doubt it would.

What do you think?

If you'd like to read more about it, check the following articles:

- Sun Sentinel Article: Corn Syrup or Corn Sugar, by David Martosko

- Princeton University ariticle: A Sweet Problem, by Hilary Parker

- An interesting blog dedicated to high-fructose corn syrup (though not updated regularly): High Fructose Makes You Fat.

28 September 2010

It's Just... an Expiration Date!

Hi everyone!

This is one of those random posts Edi mentioned last week.

So. It all went down yesterday, when I made a quick stop at a gas station - okay, before you chastise me for stopping by a gas station when I crave cereals late at night, I was in a hurry. I picked up the cereals shown in the picture (after passing ham and cheese sandwiches; the ham was grey, mind you), headed to the register and asked the vendor: "Could you tell me what the expiration date is, please?" *Smile of a damsel in distress*

The vendor scratched his head. *Embarrassed smile*
I understood. I had the same reaction he did a minute earlier in the aisle. Can you make sense of the inscription below?

The inscription reads:

05237 C 1
MR 1606 23:36

Can someone make sense of it? I certainly can't.

According to the vendor, 1606 stands when for the product was made/packaged. I guess at 11:36 PM. What about 1606? January 6, 2006? *head scratching*

As for when the product expires, he had no clue. Curious as always I took it home nevertheless, thinking, "Kellogg's, darling, please have mercy on your customers. Don't let them poison themselves."

Pour some milk. Powdered sugar (sweet tooth phase). First spoon.

Not good. At all.

If someone can decipher the code on these bowls, please chip in. I'm adding a heartfelt plea to all food makers out there using the same coded language to let us in the secret: If not already, make the expiration date more accessible on your products. Customers first? Pretty please.

Note: I'm sad to report I've seen expired products (candies, chocolate, on sale... at another gas station. Guess who scratched her head?)

22 September 2010


If you go back to my very first post on the blog, you'll find a lot of good, robust energy and the foundation of a supportive community. Among the comments on that post, you'll find Nathalie speaking about her need for this blog. Over the past few months, Nathalie has made several attempts to get me back to blogging and a few weeks ago she asked once more when I was going to get back to it and how she could help. Well, I decided that the best she could do to help was to join me here on this blog. Nathalie will be posting here on Thursdays and I'll be posting on Mondays. Look for us to pop up on other days from time to time, but we will be here on Mondays and Thursdays!

If you haven't been following Nathalie on her blog, Multiculturalism Rocks! I'm going to give you the opportunity to get to know here a little better through the following interview.

Nathalie, what foods do you remember from your childhood?
So many. Cameroon is very fertile and the country has an abundance and variety of food. I have fond memories of mangoes. There are unlike the ones you see in the market: There ares small (fit in a child's hand), juicy and tasty. My mom used to make delicious mango jam with them. I wish America would be introduced to them. Fruit lovers are really missing on something.

Papaya, especially the "solo" kind. I remember a poem from school about. The seeds are super easy to use (my first tree).

We eat lots of grilled fish and chicken, grilled peanuts, grilled plantains, grilled "Sa", a type of sour plum. I'm hungry!

Why did you decide to include food and nutrition in your studies?
That actually came later in my life. I grew up wanting to become a humanitarian physician. I wanted to work with Doctors without Borders ever since I was eight years old. There are lots of anecdotes related to that, but to make a long story short I miserably failed my first year of medical school in France. Right after that experience, nutrition caught my interest and made sense to me. 

    I've seen things in Africa that impacted me growing up. Studying nutrition allows me to implement a type of preventive medicine where it is needed, here and abroad. The way we eat affects us more than we think. It affects how we work, affects our mood, and of course affects our health. 

One cannot work on world and domestic hunger without also addressing poverty (economics) and illiteracy. These three issues are intertwined.

    I like to think that everything happens for a reason, and though my dream to work as a doctor was crushed, today I am so grateful that I failed. My focus in nutrition is world and domestic hunger. My approach to solving world hunger: Don't go around dumping genetically modified food on Third World villagers (and of course, don't use them as guinea pigs for your research). Learn the culture. Suggest a solution that incorporates the culture, the way people live, the local crops, too. That will be a long term solution. I would have more to say about that but this answer is already very long...

   What I wrote above is also the reason why I study cultural anthropology as an undergrad; however my grad studies will be solely focused on nutrition.  

If you could open a food store or restaurant what would it look, sound, smell and feel like?    What an interesting question. Do you read my mind? :)

    One can dream, right? I dream to one day open one or several multi-ethnic restaurants. I would love the atmosphere to be like what I experienced in Cameroon and in some of the places I traveled to: warm, friendly, with a display of ethnic art as a homage to the variety of cultures our planet is graced with. The place will be colorful, cheerful and serve ethnic comfort food.

Smell: A symphony of spices in a vegetarian stew. 

Sound: Eclectic. Would probably go for musical instruments that few know of.

 I have more ideas, but you would have to come to the restaurant to experience it yourself. :-)

You won't let me let this blog die! What compels you with regard to food and nutrition?
Edi, I can't begin to tell you how excited I was when you started this blog! It is so needed in my opinion. We're so busy with life that we don't pay attention to what we eat anymore, to what's in our plate, and to what chemical corporations put in the food we buy. I like that you challenge us. Your post are always thought-provoking and informative. I really admire that you started it, despite your already busy schedule. I applaud that. 

   I'm sorry that until now I wasn't able to comment more on your posts, due to my online absence during the summer. We need your blog. It is timely; you can see it with the reforms that the administration is trying to implement in the food industry, in school and just overall in our society. For example, restaurants with more than five outlets will now have the obligation to add a nutrition charts to their menu.

Informed people make informed decisions. I've witnessed that during my internships as a dietetic student abroad. I can't let it go of your blog. It's a voice that will be missed if you silence it. :) 

Natalie, what's your favorite meal these days?Crêpes! As a matter of fact, I'm on my way to make some. Come on over! ;-)

 Welcome aboard, Nathalie!!

14 June 2010

It's Monday!

Have a laugh! After all, It's just food!

Question: Why did the chicken lay her eggs on a axe? Answer: She wanted to hachet

Question: What do you call a egg who’s done lots of things? Answer: An egg who has a lot of eggsperience.

Question: Where do you find information about eggs? Answer: In the hen-cyclopedia

Question: Why is the chef so mean? Answer: She beats the eggs!

Question: Did you hear the one about the egg? Answer: It’s not all it’s “cracked” up to be!

Question: How can you drop an egg six feet without breaking it? Answer: By dropping it seven feet – it won’t break for the first six

12 June 2010

Is It Because of the Food?

Do you have an active imagination? I do. Today, I was wondering what would happen if I suddenly had some sort of an attack. How would I get help? Maybe this thought came from me trying to decide what to eat this evening. I don't want to cook. I just want to pick something up. Is it possible to find healthy fast food?

Let's say medics could get to me. They'd have to use my cell phone to find my relatives. C'mon! This is the 21st century! Who keeps emergency contact cards or address books in their purses anymore? I don't have a contact for 'me' or 'home' in case I lose my phone... because I don't have a land line! I probably need to label my children as 'son' and 'daughter' and label my sister as 'emergency contact'. I wondering if anyone reading this has a clever way to address this important issue of keeping an emergency list?

Also along these lines is the need to make sure someone has passwords to my online accounts. From what I've heard, it can be a nightmare getting FB and other social networking services to work with family members if someone can no longer maintain their own account. Privacy after all! Instead of just that paper trail of account information, there also needs to be a digital one. Someone would also have to have passwords to my email accounts and Twitter because I have so many wonderful friends that I only know online! My children don't even know most of them exist but they'd have to know to contact them for me.

Sorry if you think I'm being morbid. I'm really feel like I'm being Andy Rooney. I have these thoughts sometimes, I guess that's why I blog!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

10 June 2010


I learned to bake them by watching my mom in the kitchen. Maybe I watched her because I was interested in what she was doing and maybe because I watched she invited me in. From watching her I learned the order of putting a cake together. I knew I always had to take the butter out in time to melt because it had to melt on its own to melt right. And, it had to be butter. She preferred all purpose flour to cake flour and lined her pans with flour on the sides and wax paper on the bottom. She always tried new things in the kitchen and her attempts always made for a better final product. Did she discuss techniques with her friends or did she spend hours contemplating them on her own? I don't know!
Mom didn't always bake cakes. She would only do them for holidays or special events. The fact that it was Sunday wasn't special, but Easter Sunday was.
I think this is something that has really changed in our food history: we no longer have as many special foods only on special occasions. Cookies, cakes and other pastries that used to find their way into our kitchens at festive times now are staples as is meat. I often ate meat three times a day when my ancestors would have been lucky to have it three times a week.
How much meat do we really need?
My food memory also has images of well balanced, full plate dinners that always had a vegetable, meat, salad, tea and starch served on the kitchen table around 4 pm and we all sat down to eat. The messages were clear: no soda for dinner, a full plate is served and we all sit down together. I'm only just now realizing that message about a full plate of food. I couldn't be satisfied with just a plate of macaroni and cheese for dinner because it didn't fit my memory. I've recently learned that my biggest meal should be eaten for breakfast and each meal through the day should get smaller. That way my food intake matches my energy output. Eat like a queen in the morning, a princess for lunch and a pauper for dinner.
My mom's favorite cake became the Caramel Cake. I think right now, mine is German Chocolate, but it has to be home made! The best recipe I know of is on the Baker's German Chocolate label.

08 June 2010

Tempting Tuesday

Yes! I need to post with greater regularity and this is my attempt! I'm going to tempt you on Tuesday to prepare you for Wednesday's word.

Can you bake a cake?
 Who taught you? What memorable baking experience do you have? What is your favorite cake to bake?

06 June 2010

Breaking Bread

last meal: BREAKFAST
fried rice with bacon, diced pears and provolone

Yes, it's been a while! I have blog posts going through my mind followed with periods of doubt as to why I even started this blog which are quickly followed by food emails from Zetta or the elongated shows on PBS which are meant to attract supporters but which also address what we eat. (As I write, Dr. Northrup is relating how sugar is the #1 problem in our diets.) Right now, more than convincing myself to continue this blog my issue is deciding what to put in this post! I'll spare you from all the rambling, well most of it, and go with the most recent and therefore clearest thought I have.
For the sake of transparency, I have to admit that I have become an Amazon Associate and if you should happen to purchase a book because of the information you find here, I'll become independently wealthy (jk. seriously jk!) I want to relate that because I'm realizing that most of my posts to date in someway relate to a book. I'm not trying to sell books! I'm a librarian by trade and civilized by western society: I tend to value what's in print. I value the people with whom I share information and the time you put into reading this, so I'm going to relate books, videos, blogs, articles and other forms of information along the way.
So, I have another book to mention.
Years ago, I read Tales of a Female Nomad.  This was one of two books that related to me in such a personal level that I felt like I'd made a new best friend in the author, Rita Golden Gelman. Gelman and her husband separated and she chose to take the opportunity to venture out on her own and do something she's always wanted to do. Gelman, well over the age of 40, found herself in Mexico learning Spanish and immersing herself in Mexican culture. Gelman and her husband did divorce, she let go of him and things in her life and began connecting to people, cultures, stories, organizations and foods all over the world. Her latest book Female Nomad and friends: tales of breaking free and breaking bread just released on 1 June.
The first chapter is available free online and has to do with carrot soup.  To help promote the new book, Golman will be hosting a global dinner party. The following details are from her website, where you can also find a participation kit, registration information and recipes.

We finally have the details of our Global Dinner Party. When you finish this, go back to the menu and click on "Participation Kit." People all over the world are signing up (on Facebook.com/femalenomad) to invite friends to their homes for dinner on June 18th to celebrate the launch of the new anthology, to experience the joy of connecting through food and conversation, and to contribute, by buying books, to the vocational education of kids from the slums in New Delhi. If you're not on Facebook, send me an e-mail:  femalenomad@gmail.com. Be sure to let us know where you live. We already have parties in Turkey, Colombia, Canada, China, Mexico, Ireland,Guatemala and more. And tons all across the U.S. Every party counts, so do join us.

I don't know if I can do the dinner as I'll be preparing for an intense workshop in Mississippi at that time. I'd love to use this as an excuse to break bread with friends. This is when it's not just food, it's nurturing our friends and our friendships.

09 May 2010

Inny or Outy?

Did you know there's another food recall? This time it's romaine lettuce in 23 states and again it's e-coli. Along with the notice came the advise to shop the center of the grocery store, buying canned and frozen veggies.  This is exactly what I try not to do, preferring fresh items without all the additives and preservatives. I prefer doing what other 'experts' advise: shopping outside the aisles and going along the perimeter of the store. In the summer, I hit the farmers markets.

Although I don't always make the energy and take the time, I do like to cook. As Zetta indicated in a comment to a recent post, not everyone likes to cook at all. I think wherever we get our daily nutrition, we need to be aware of what we're eating. I want to be aware to make wiser choices. I mean, I know I'm only going to live as long as I'm going to live, but while I'm here I want to reduce as much pain and discomfort as I can. And, one one to do that is to eat better, eat wiser. Now, to make these words part of my habit!

Over the Christmas holidays, I caught the author of Eat This Not That on a talk show. He was revealing how Yoplait yogurt can have as much sugar as a Milky Way bar, how a personal pan pizza from Pizza Una can be higher in fat and calories that a a large Papa Johns and more. I had to get his book! In addition to have pictures of good and not so good choices from a cross section of restaurants, he also compares grocery items and recommends healthy food items. There are several books in this series written by authors at Men's Health.

I guess we just have to work to gain the knowledge and decide what we feel is best for us. Inny or outy, which shall it be?

01 May 2010

Creating with Food

That photo is a Sunday breakfast in Pingtung. My breakfast today in Indy was sweet potato fries, omlette with green peppers, cheddar cheese and sundried tomatoes, a side of fresh strawberries and cinnamon coffee. I couldn't do bread. A friend brought back some Garrett's caramel corn from Chicago and I am still feeling the carbs in my system. I enjoy cooking and really don't know why I don't do it more often. For a while I was preparing nice, large dinners on Sundays that would last 2-3 days into the week. Then, I got on this Asian kick and did a lot of bean sprouts and rice. Now, it's planning where I'm going to stop on the way home, and the stop must be on the way. Can you say 'rut'? It's one thing to be in a rut but another to know you're there!
Where are you right now, a mountain or a valley?
I'm more on the incline than at the bottom. I feel the need to make so many changes! I don't think I can make good, clear choices unless I'm healthy. I am eating way less meat. I found a bread shop here in Indy (and it is on the way home!) but I eat so little bread that for now that I don't need to buy a lot of it. So, I'm picking up artisan loaves at Trader Joes. These were my first food changes. It's time for another!
Vasilly at 1330v recently reviewed Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Living , a new book by Thich Nhat Hahn and Dr. Lilian Cheung. Vasilly says

To me if you’re ever read one diet book, you’ve read them all so the second and third parts of the book don’t really stand out. We all know that it’s healthy to eat smaller portions, whole grains, and not skip meals. The third part of the book talks about meditation, becoming more aware of where our found comes from and that everything and everyone is connected.

Yep! I just added that to my TBR list!

This reminded me of a former co-worker who told me how she used food prep as her calming, her meditation. Each evening she would prepare full meals for herself and the process of chopping, seasoning, measuring, mixing and creating would relax and energize her. I think we're forgetting about the joy that can be in the process as we stop to get food on the way home, we send emails rather than compose letters or buy clothes rather than make them.

I've pulled out the lentils for dinner tonight. I try to prepare beans at least once/month. Maybe I'll get really creative and do cornbread. From scratch!

23 April 2010

Food Inc

The Food Inc website maintains links to numerous issues raised in the movie:
  • environmental impact
  • global food crisis
  • cloning
  • farm worker protection
  • diabetes and obesity
  • factory farming
  • pesticides
  • nutritional labeling on foods
Were you able to watch the movie  or visit any of the links on the NPR website? What issues spoke to you?

I didn't watch the entire show because I fell asleep. I did watch enough to motivate me to stop eating meat and I haven't eaten it since watching the show. I had given up most meat when I was in undergrad and was really on a healthy eating regimen. I maintained this practice for a while when my children were young, making their baby food, breast-feading, watching the labels on juices... But life gets complicated. Time gets demanding, money gets tight and McDonalds gets convenient. Honestly, I think I did pretty good by my children. They have very healthy attitudes toward nutition and exercise. Unfortunately, a 'healthy attitude' isn't enough to be healthy today!

I had a friend in Taiwan who was quite adamant about eating meat and one of her concern that the animals' fear and suffering would fester in their bones and muscles. Maybe. I know what I saw on Food Inc,.

21 April 2010


Food Inc comes on in less than an hour and I hope to stay away to watch it. Before then, I want to get back to the first post on why Americans have such a problem with food. I love the comments that were left on that post, they all re-affirmed for me why I want to do this blog and I'm glad you're here with me!
I never put all the pieces together until very recently and saw what's going on in this country. We love going to the grocery store to do our weekly shopping. We love the sales, appreciate the low prices, convenience and speed at which we can prepare a meal.
Food in this country is a business and it is produced so that someone makes a profit.
Leave the US and you will shop several times a week at markets where you will buy seasonal produce in open air markets and you will pay more for food. It will have flavor, will not last indefinitely in the refrigerator and may take some time to prepare. Sugar, sodium and words we cannot pronounce are not used to enhance what we ingest. Ingredients are real. I really believe (and I am not an expert, so please form your own opinions) our bodies have become hypersensitive to sodium, sugars... because of the hydrated, hydrogenated, high fructose stuff that is added to our food. In France, people eat their bagettes daily but the bagettes are made with fresh ingredients. Butter is real. Flavors are authentic. People are truly satisfied at the end of a meal because they've eaten real food that is delicious and tasty.
Cultures often use food to celebrate and I think there are beautiful traditions around the globe of welcoming people, observing holidays or giving thanks with special dishes. In Taiwan, the cakes and cookies are matched to specific holidays and they're not eaten throughout the year. When my children were little, I baked cookies at Christmas time and one of the recipes was the Butterball recipe my mom baked for us. But, we have cookies all the time. Desserts aren't just for special days. I think of all the big heavy dishes I've eaten that in their homeland probably aren't eaten all the time. I would imagine people haven't always eaten meats 3 times a day.

Many of these ideas were also express in Food Rules. I felt vindicated! Of course, Pollen expresses his thoughts in a manner which is much more clear and concise. 
Here's a challenge I have for all of us: find a local bakery that bakes fresh bread. Buy a loaf at least once/week. No more grocery store bread. Report back!

Now, to see what's in Food Inc!

20 April 2010

Post Inc.

Most of you know I maintain another blog. It's hosted by a different service, so I'm getting used to the format here. What do you think of this layout? Are there any gadgets, tools or buttons I'm missing?

I look forward to including all kinds of perspectives and sources as we take this road to get healthy. I already have a couple of new directions!  First, my son Rodney has agreed to co-author this blog. He posts as "Roddawg". He's an amazing young man and will be introducing himself to you in the next few days.

You may have also noticed in the posts that Zetta Elliott (author extraordinaire!) suggested we watch and discuss "Food Inc". It will be on PBS tomorrow, I think at 8pm. If you can't watch it, record it. It is also available to be viewed online at Netflix if you have a membership. If you don't have a chance to watch, visit the website for the show and go through the information there.  What do you learn from this show? What do you doubt? Question? Want to know more about? How does this re-inforce what you already know/think/believe? How will this change what you eat? We'll begin the discussion on Thursday.

So, if you have other movies to recommend, books you'd like to review or interviews you'd like to post please feel free! Just send me the information and I'll post it.

Did you see the article SteelPierce placed in the comments for the last post? The article begins: "It's not just food."

18 April 2010

First post!

I must be crazy to start another blog, but I'm becoming as passionate about food as I am about literacy.

Well, almost. My interest and knowledge about food, eating and health has yet to translate into action. I don't think it will really be a passion without the action.

And I won't be healthy!

My plan here is to get family and friends to listen to what I have to say about food, correct me. Tell me what you know. Share information, books, movies... so we can all be healthy. I don't think we realize what junk we eat in this country. In the past 10 years, I've visted as many countries if not more and while in these countries, I've never NEVER found clothes that fit my ample figure. Why not? Because there is no need for plus sized clothing in countries where few to no women are plus sized.

What's the difference? Why are Americans so big?  I'll tell you what I've come to experience, but let me ask why you think Americans are so terribly obese.

We're not going to worry about being politically correct here. But we will be polite. We're trying to save lives!