‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2015: Food Gets Ugly, Rotten and Delicious

Everyone's all over predicting the new food bandwagons for 2015. Let's look at a few predicted trends...

Apparently ugly root vegetables are in. Root vegetables, ugly or pretty, include taproots like carrot, radish and parsnip, tuberous including yam and sweet potato. Other popular roots include yucca, rutabaga, beet root, potato, ginger, garlic and onion. They're good sautéed, grilled, but in my opinion, they're best roasted. Oh and they're in season year round with their peek in fall/spring.

Literal backflips ensue when I see any vegetable labelled 'trendy' - and more so because this is a collection of vegetables rather than just one 'superfood' like kale - which is apparently trending down next year! I'd be lying if I said I'd miss the "don't you eat kale?" question.

Along with kale in the "don't let the door hit you on the way out" are beer and bacon. Bacon, being a cured meat is associated with many health risks (more on that here.) Beer does hold some interesting health benefits, more on that here. However, just like ugly sweaters, Ugg Boots and Justin Bieber, they're not going away any time soon.

Supposedly hummus is set to knock the laurel wreath off Greek yoghurt. Hard to determine how I feel about this one from a nutritional stand point:
  • Unsweetened yoghurts = protein and calcium 
    • They are a great base for adding fresh fruit
  • Hummus = healthy fats, complex carbs (thus fiber) and has the same amount of calcium gram for gram as Greek yoghurt
    • Is usually paired with vegetables (yipee again!)
This begs the questions, which is better?
The best conclusion is: Both low fat Greek yoghurt and hummus are good choices. Homemade hummus is best, or a commercial version with very few ingredients. Portion size and moderation are what's important. Think of it like playing FarmVille, an hour won't see your real life spiral into chaos, but binge playing might. 

Fermented foods are also hype-worthy because they contain probiotics, translation: Friendly bacteria have already partially digested the food, making it easier for the human to digest and process. Things to know:
  • Fermentation is an ancient art of food preservation using bacteria to convert food sugars into lactic acid or alcohol - thus preserving the food
  • Common fermented foods include yoghurt, kimchi, soy sauce, miso, kefir milk, kombucha tea, beer and wine
  • Fermented foods may improve immune function, irritable bowel, diarrhea and help with weight maintenance - more research is needed to confirm
  • Commercially produced fermented foods are often pasteurized and therefore no longer contain the beneficial bacteria (some add the bacteria back after - use your eyes and read the label)
  • Fermented foods are often high in added sugars and salt - buyer beware
The last backflip-worthy trend is insect protein. Many people are grossed out by this... To them I say "grow some moth balls and get over it". Here's why:
  • Insects are an excellent source of high quality protein 
  • Insects boast brilliant ability to abate greenhouse gas emissions associated with traditional protein rearing (eg: our friends Bessie the Cow, Turkey Lurkey, Henny Penny and Goosey Loosey)
  • So much more on this tremendous trend here
Everyone raise your partially digested cup of kombucha to a year of hummus covered crickets, caterpillars and carrots... you can leave your beer, bacon and kale at the door.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

6 Reasons We Snack

The basic biological basis of eating is to gain energy in response to physiological, internal cues - like your stomach rumbling. So why then, do so many of us (including myself) feel compelled to stuff our already stuffed stomachs?

A snack is defined as food consumed between meals. An unhealthy snack is high in fat and/or sugar.

New research found 6 reasons people commonly scoffed, scarfed, shoveled and stuffed themselves with unhealthy snack foods:
  1. To enjoy a  special occasion
  2. Opportunity induced eating (more below)
  3. To gain energy
  4. To reward oneself
  5. Social pressure
  6. To cope with negative emotions (relatively lower score)
The study included over 1,500 males and females. In line with previous findings, women more frequently reported snacking for a variety of the 6 reasons. Women tend to be more preoccupied with eating bahaviour than do men.

Can we help it?
Yes, by thinking about why we are snacking, and understanding our triggers. Unhealthy snacking behaviours may be habit and performed automatically. For example, opportunistic eating (reason #2) includes things like:
  • Because I'm watching tv/a movie
  • Because the food tastes so good
  • Because the food is there
It is out of a lack of understanding people search for a reason to explain away or excuse their behaviour.

Should we help it?
No... But yes. Replacing high fat/sugar snacks with healthy snacks is great. It supplements your diet with nutrients you could otherwise may miss out on. Eg: a snack like yoghurt or a piece of fruit, you're getting fiber, calcium, protein, other micronutrients, etc.

Really understanding and identifying why you're snacking pinpoints your triggers. This allows you to make an informed, conscious decision, rather than an excuse. Being actively involved in your own decision making leads to less 'regretful' eating and allows you to enjoy the food (mindful eating).
Here are some healthy and tasty snack ideas for various situations: