Monday, January 31, 2011

The Government says to "EAT LESS" - WOW

Well, it seems like the government and the "head" nutrition leaders are finally getting smarter. Instead of encouraging quick, processed, low calorie, or low fat food they have come to a more natural way to eat: "Drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda, fill your plate with fruits and vegetables and cut down on processed foods filled with sodium, fat or sugar." In other words, "Enjoy your food, but eat less" WOW!

What is sad about this? Well it has taken a lot of tax money and people getting paid to do this "research" to come to this conclusion. Is this not COMMON SENSE? Getting rid of 100 calorie pack and exchanging it for something wholesome like a piece of fruit or a plate of veggies? Cutting out the added sugars? Cut out the processed foods that our bodies have little idea on how to metabolize? WOW, I wish that someone would have paid me years ago to come up with this advice, I would be retired and living on an island! Maybe being blunt, and honest with people - like saying "EAT LESS" and "EAT BETTER" is what we all need to hear?

Here is the Link and below is the article that I copied and pasted for you:

Government’s Dietary Advice: Eat Less

Michael Temchine for The New York Times

The latest nutrition guidelines reiterate much advice from previous years: eat less salt and saturated fats, eat more fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

As the nation’s obesity crisis continues unabated, federal regulators on Monday issued their bluntest nutrition advice to date: drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda, fill your plate with fruits and vegetables and cut down on processed foods filled with sodium, fat or sugar.

Readers' Comments

More important, perhaps, the government told Americans, “Enjoy your food, but eat less.” Many Americans eat too many calories every day, expanding their waistlines and imperiling their health.

While the recommendations may seem obvious, it is nonetheless considered major progress for federal regulators, who have long skirted the issue, wary of the powerful food lobby. (The 112-page report even subtly suggests that people eat less pizza and dessert.)

Previous guidelines urged Americans to curb sugar, solid fats and salt, but avoided naming specific foods, let alone urging consumers to eat less food over all.

“For them to have said ‘eat less’ is really new. Who would have thought?” said Margo G. Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “We should have been saying ‘eat less’ for a decade.”

Ms. Wootan said she was nonetheless pleased that the guidelines provided “understandable and actionable” advice rather than the “big vague messages” of the past.

For instance, she applauded the advice to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.

“Before, the dietary guidelines said, ‘Eat more fruits and vegetables,’ but that could mean add a slice of tomato to your hamburger,” she said.

Robert C. Post, deputy director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the Agriculture Department, said regulators hoped simple messages would resonate better than the more technical prose of the past.

“Maybe that is what will help this time to get the consumer’s attention,” he said.

While the guidelines are ostensibly for consumers and federal nutrition programs, they will undoubtedly put additional pressure on the food industry to reformulate processed foods, particularly to reduce the amount of sodium, which was emphasized in the report.

Similarly, the guidelines’ advice to reduce portion size could put pressure on restaurants, many of which continue to serve portions so large that they could easily serve two people under the government’s guidelines.

“If companies don’t change their practices and reformulate their products, people don’t have a chance of following the dietary guidelines,” Ms. Wootan said.

Just two weeks ago, Wal-Mart Stores announced a five-year plan to reformulate its store-brand packaged foods and drop the price on fruits and vegetables. Wal-Mart said it would pressure its major suppliers to do the same.

In addition, the first lady, Michelle Obama, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York have pushed for manufacturers and restaurants to reduce the amount of trans fatand sodium in their products.

Several food manufacturers noted that they had already taken major steps to reduce the amount of sodium in their products, though some critics say they have not gone far enough.

“We feel great about the progress we are making,” said Susan Davison, a spokeswoman forKraft Foods, one of the largest food makers in the world. The company has vowed to reduce sodium in its North American portfolio by an average of 10 percent by 2012, and Ms. Davison said it had already met that goal in 350 products and would eventually reformulate more than 1,000 products.

“We know that our consumers are interested in monitoring their sodium intake,” she said. “We are looking for ways to help them without giving up the foods they love.”

David S. Smith, a vice president at Campbell Soup who oversees research and development, said his company was offering reduced-sodium versions of hundreds of its products, in some cases replacing regular salt with smaller amounts of sea salt. He said the company was continuing to look for ways to cut sodium even further.

Salt is not an easy thing to replace, he said. “It is very challenging.”

The specific recommendations on various nutrients were largely unchanged in this year’s guidelines, compared to the last version in 2005, though reductions in sodium were given much greater emphasis.

Under the guidelines released Monday, about half of the populace should consume 1,500 milligrams of sodium or less each day. That includes children, African-Americans and anyone who is older than 50 or has hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Everyone else may consume up to 2,300 milligrams, about a teaspoon.

Now, Americans on average consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day.

In addition, the guidelines recommend consuming less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids, replacing them with so-called good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

The guidelines suggest making fruits and vegetables cover half of the plate at a meal, choosing fat-free and low-fat dairy products and eating more whole grains and seafood.

August Schumacher Jr., a former agriculture under secretary, said government farm policies needed to be revised to provide incentives for farmers across the country to plant more fruits and vegetables.

In addition, Mr. Schumacher, now executive vice president of Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit group that promotes access to healthy foods, said the government needed to help consumers, particularly those on food stamps, get access to fruits, vegetables and other foods recommended in the guidelines.

The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services revise the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a thick booklet that lays out an ideal diet to maintain health, every five years. The panel produces a draft that is reviewed and tweaked by regulators and eventually made public.

In 2005, the last time the guidelines were revised, the government urged Americans to eat more whole grains and less sugar. It was the first time the guidelines recommended replacing refined grains with whole grains, and it prompted major changes in the ingredients used by food manufacturers.

General Mills, for instance, replaced refined grains with whole grains in its breakfast cereals, and many bread makers did the same.

While the guidelines urge Americans to eat less, they do not change the suggested daily caloric levels for most Americans, which vary depending on age and activity level.

But many Americans already eat more calories each day than they are supposed to eat by ignoring the dietary guidance.

Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer at Weight Watchers, said she was particularly pleased that the advice was so simple. The two overarching themes of the report are: maintain calorie balance over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight, and focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages.

“The last many guidelines have focused on process, this many milligrams of sodium, that much fat. I think what these do is lay out the basics,” Ms. Miller-Kovach said. “If you cut calories and you make those calories count in terms of those nutrients, what happens? All those numbers fall into place.”

Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shrimp with Feta and Tomatoes

Made this last night and it was delicious. Probably one of the tastiest and easiest dishes I have made lately. Served it on top of hot Orzo pasta which is likely my new favorite pasta! Of course it was from INA GARTEN! I am obsessed with the new cookbook my mom got me for Christmas. If you are in the hunt for an awesome cookbook, this is your best choice! Make sure to serve this on Orzo pasta, it really completes the meal.

Roasted Shrimp with Feta

adapted from The Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?
serves 4
  • 4 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 coves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds (16-20 per pound) peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled. Original recipe called for 5 oz, but that seemed like way too much for us, so I used 3
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbs minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 lemons
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10 to 12-inch oven-proof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute 5-8 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits. Cook 2-3 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.

Add the tomatoes with their liquid, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine and simmer over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl. Stir well to moisten the breadcrumbs.

Remove the pan from heat and arrange the shrimp, tails up, in one layer over the tomato mixture. Scatter the feta evenly over the shimp, and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked and the bread crumbs are golden brown. You may want to turn on the broiler for the last few minutes. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp, and serve hot with the remaining lemon cut into wedges.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ina Garten's Lentil Soup

I think that maybe I should change the name of this blog to "The Pearce's Travels". It seems like since Thanksgiving we have been traveling nonstop. I am soooo ready for a weekend at home but not sure when I will get one... I am also ready to un-pack and re-organize our home. It is crazy how fast you get behind on cleaning, paying bills, and cooking when you are only in your home for a few days during the week before heading out on another trip. We are back from Arizona and a wedding in Eufaula (More pics of Drew and Kelly's wedding on another post - it was a lot of fun)!

I am now finished with my soap box for the day! Here are SOME pics from our latest travels

Ryan and I in front of the ugliest spaceship stadium
Tailgating in Glendale
Hanging out with Kelly at Yardhouse
Julie and I (She forced me to put the AU sticker on my face FYI!)
Tonto National Forest, outside of Phoenix, AZ
The cactus are huge!
Love seeing nature in America

I made an amazing meal today! It is healthy, full of veggies, and delicious. The star ingredient are the Lentils. Lentils are a small but mighty member of the legume family. They are packed with soluble fiber, contain protein, and B-vitamins as well as minerals. They also help regulate post-prandial blood glucose levels.

Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa was the source for this recipe. You can always count on Ina for an amazing outcome.

Ingredients for Lentil Soup

The Finished YUMMY product!

Lentil Kielbasa Soup

1 pound French Green Lentils
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups yellow onions, diced
4 cups leaks, white and light green parts only, chopped
1 TBS minced Garlic
1 TBS salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 TBS minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
3 cups diced celery (8 stalks)
3 cups diced carrots (4-6 medium carrots)
3 quarts vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pound kielbasa (OPTIONAL), cut in 1/2 lengthwise and slice 1/3 inch thick
2 TBS dry red wine or red wine vinegar
Freshly grated parmesan for serving


In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Then Drain.

In a large dutch oven, over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the vegetable/chicken broth, tomato paste, and drained lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 1 hour or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings and adjust as needed. Add the kielbasa and red wine and simmer until the kielbasa is hot. Serve drizzed with olive oil and sprinkled with grated parmesan .

Love it! I made mine with no kielbasa and Ryan's has the sausage in it. He loves it! It is great served alongside a nice salad or some crusty bread. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fish Tacos and Black Bean Soup

We are getting ready for our trip to GLENDALE for the Auburn vs Oregon National Championship. We can't be more excited and hopefully Ryan gets a victory from his team!

I made these Fish Tacos and Black Bean soup the other night and it was delicious.

We loved them and they were pretty easy to assemble from start to finish. A lighter meal is what we needed and this hit the spot. I know a lot of people have started Weight Watchers or South Beach Diets and these would fit nicely into your points allowance or phase 2 program.

Fish Marinating

Close up of the Fish Taco with all the toppings

Fish Tacos

Ingredients: for the fish and cilantro cream sauce
2 limes
3 TBS olive oil
5 TBS fresh cilantro, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb white fish (halibut, cod, tilapia)
6 oz nonfat greek yogurt or sour cream
Additional Toppings such as: cherry tomatoes, green onions, cheese, avocado
4-5 flour tortillas


Fish- Combine 2 TBS lime juice, 2 TBS olive oil, 3 TBS minced cilantro, cumin, and 2 garlic cloves in a pie plate or shallow dish. Whisk together until well blended. Place the fish in the mixture, turning to coat. Let marinate for 15-30 minutes.

Cilantro Cream Sauce - while fish is marinating, combine the juice of 1 lime, cilantro, greek yogurt, 1 garlic clove, and pepper in a small bowl. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.

When fish has finished marinating, heat the remaining 1 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place the fish in the pan and cook without disturbing, 3 minutes. Flip the fish and cook on the second side for 2-3 minutes more. Remove to a plate, season with salt as desired and allow to rest for a few minutes. Then shred the fish into bite sized pieces.

Assemble the tacos on flour tortillas with fish, cilantro cream sauce and the toppings of your choice. It is great served along side Black Bean Soup (Recipe Follows)

Ingredients for Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

1 TBS olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3/4 C diced carrots (about 2 large carrots)
3/4 C diced celery (2 ribs)
1 C diced onion (about 1 onion)
2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 3.5 ounce can green chilies
2 can low sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dry oregano leaves
1 bay leaf.

Heat a large dutch oven on medium high heat. When pan is warm, add the olive oil. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and saute 4-5 minutes. Add in the black beans, chilies, and vegetable broth. Stir to combine and then add salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf. Simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until carrots are tender. Remove from heat and REMOVE bay leaf from soup. Place soup in a blender or you can use an immersion blender if you have one available. Place lid on blender and allow some heat to escape. Puree soup until completely smooth. Squeeze in the juice from one lime and pulse to combine. Serve in bowl and top with desired toppings such as sour cream, chips, grated cheese, fresh cilantro, or a little hot sauce to make it more spicy!

Enjoy your Sunday and be sure to watch the National Championship game tomorrow! War Eagle!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's Easy Being Green Smoothie

These ingredients:
Turned into this:
= pure deliciousness

Back in October my mom gave me the VITAMIX for my birthday! I love it so much, it's fun to use and very powerful, plus it is super easy to clean (which was a huge factor when I was looking into getting one). I was making basic fruit smoothies at first, but have grown to LOVE green smoothies. Yes, you do have to get past the idea that you are drinking Popeye Juice but I promise you will like it.

It's Easy Being Green Smoothie

Recipe from Vitamix "Whole Food Recipes"

1 cup organic green or red grapes
1 medium orange, peeled and halved (I use Navels)
1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks, core included
1 medium banana, peeled
1 carrot, halved
2 cups fresh organic spinach, washed
1 medium apple, quartered
6 cups ice cubes

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
Select Variable 1, then turn machine on and quickly increase speed to variable 10, then high. Blend for 1 minute or until desired consistency is reached.

This can also be done in a regular blender, you will just have to blend it longer. It also helps to take the lid off and stir with a spoon to continue getting the ingredients to the bottom.

This make 8 cups and for 1 cup serving it has 52 calories, 1 g protein, 0 g total fat, 13 g carbs, 2 gram fiber, 9 gram sugar.
Let me know if you make one and send me any other green smoothie recipes that you have. I have a couple on my "make soon" list and will post those if they turn out good!