The Top 10 Worst Food Ingredients to Avoid

The Top 10 Worst Food Ingredients to AvoidHere are the top 10 “worst of the worst” food ingredients in our opinion (not necessarily ranked in order of the harm they do)…

10 Worst Food Ingredient List:

1. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
WHAT IT IS: MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor-enhancer in processed foods (one of the most common food additives).

WHY IT’S BAD: It’s an known excitotoxin, which is a neurotoxic chemical additive shown to harm nerve cells— overexciting them, sometimes to the point of cell death. Regularly consuming excitotoxins like MSG destroys significant numbers of brain cells and can lead to serious health problems, including neurological disorders. (The two other common excitotoxins used in food are aspartic acid (found in aspartame) and l-cysteine, which is used as a dough conditioner.) In addition, regular consumption of MSG has been shown to stimulate the appetite and contribute to weight gain and obesity.

AKA: MSG goes by several aliases, such as Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Vegetable Protein Extract, Yeast Extract, Glutamate, Glutamic Acid, Sodium Caseinate, Textured Protein, Soy Protein Isolates, Barley Malt, Calcium Caseinate and Malt Extract.

IT’S FOUND IN: Processed foods like salad dressings, low-fat yogurt, canned meats, frozen entrees, potato chips, canned soups (including Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup), and flavored crackers (like Wheat Thins, Cheez-Its and Triscuits).

2. Aspartame
WHAT IT IS: One of the most widely-used artificial sweeteners.

WHY IT’S BAD: Like MSG, aspartame is an excitotoxin. It also is believed to be carcinogenic, and produces neurotoxic effects such as headaches, dizziness, blurry vision, and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Aspartame contains 10-percent methanol, which is shown to be broken down by the body into the toxic by-products formic acid and formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is considered to be a potent nerve toxin and carcinogen, which may explain why aspartame accounts for more reports to the FDA of adverse reactions than all other foods and food additives combined.

AKA: NutraSweet, Equal, Canderel, Spoonful, Natrataste, AminoSweet, plus others.

IT’S FOUND IN: Over 6,000 products contain it, including diet and sugar-free sodas and drinks, sugar-free chewing gum, yogurt, breath mints, instant breakfasts, frozen desserts, juice beverages, and gelatins.

AVOID ITS PALS: Splenda (Sucralose), Sweet ‘n’ Low (saccharine)

3. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
WHAT IT IS: This is a highly-refined sweetener in which corn starch is separated from the corn kernel. The corn starch is then converted into corn syrup through a process called acid hydrolysis.

WHY IT’S BAD: Nearly all HFCS is made from genetically-modified corn. It is the number-one source of calories in the US diet, and has been shown to contribute to weight gain and the development of diabetes.

HFCS also is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, arthritis, insulin resistance, and elevated triglycerides and raised LDL cholesterol. In 2009, the Environmental Health Journal reported that a study conducted by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found mercury in 9 of 20 samples of commercial HFCS. The HFCS came from 3 different manufacturers including popular brands such as Quaker, Hunts, Kraft, Yoplait, Nutri-Grain, and Smuckers. Mercury is a heavy metal and is considered a potent brain toxin. The presence of mercury-contaminated caustic soda in the production of HFCS is common.

AKA: Corn sugar, glucose/fructose (syrup), high-fructose maize syrup inulin, iso-glucose, and fruit fructose.

IT’S FOUND IN: Soda, salad dressings, breads, cereals, yogurt, soups, lunch meats, pizza sauce and condiments. On average, Americans consume 12 teaspoons of HFCS per day.

4. Agave Nectar
WHAT IT IS: This highly-processed sweetener is derived from the agave (cactus) plant. Most agave sold in the US comes from Mexico.

WHY IT’S BAD: Many consumers believe agave syrup is a healthful sweetener, but it’s anything but. Agave nectar contains the highest amount of fructose (55-97%) among all the commercial sweeteners, including HFCS (which averages 55% fructose).

Fructose has been shown to increase insulin resistance, the precursor to Type 2 diabetes. It is mainly broken down in the liver and then converted to fat. Excessive fructose, when consumed in quantities greater than 25 grams a day, has been shown to elevate uric acid levels, which causes chronic, low level inflammation throughout the body. It is also a main cause of fatty liver disease.

Fructose consumption also leads to weight gain, elevated blood sugar and triglycerides, plus high blood pressure.

AKA: Agave Syrup

IT’S FOUND IN: Ice cream, energy bars and cereals, ketchup and other sauces. Agave is also sold as a stand-alone sweetener.

5. Artificial Food Coloring
WHAT IT IS: If your food isn’t naturally colorful, these additives tint them much like the dyes that color clothing.

WHY IT’S BAD: Artificial food dyes were originally synthesized from coal tar — and now they are derived from petroleum. They have long been controversial, and are one of the most widely used additives in food products today. Many dyes have been banned because of their adverse effects on laboratory animals. Studies have confirmed that nine dyes currently approved for use in the US raise the following health concerns.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) study on food dyes, “The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet it is still in the food supply.” CPSI further reports that these nine food dyes are linked to health issues ranging from cancer and hyperactivity to allergy-like reactions.

A large-scale British government study (published in 2007in the UK medical journal Lancet) found that a variety of common food dyes, as well as the preservative sodium benzoate, increased hyperactivity and decreased the attention spans of children. These additives were shown to adversely affect children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), along with children having no prior history of behavior problems.

The European Union (EU) has put labeling regulations in place to inform consumers of the health risks, but the US has failed to follow suit.

AKA: Caramel color, FD&C Blue #1, Brilliant Blue FCF, Bright blue, Blue # 2, Ingtotine, Royal Blue, Red Number 3, Erythrosine, FD&C Red No.40, Allura Red AC, Yellow 5 and 6, FD&C Green Number 3, Fast Green, Sea Green, to name a few.

IT’S FOUND IN: Beverages, candy, baked goods, cereal, energy bars, puddings, jams, bread, macaroni and cheese, deli meat, frostings, condiments, fast food, ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, plus meat and fish (to make them appear “fresher”).

6. BHA and BHT
WHAT IT IS: Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are preservatives used in many foods to prevent oxidation and extend shelf life.

WHY IT’S BAD: BHA and BHT are oxidants, which have been shown to form potentially cancer-causing reactive compounds in the body. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, considers BHA to be possibly carcinogenic to humans, and the State of California has listed it as a known carcinogen.

WHERE IT’S FOUND:In packaging materials, cereals, sausage, hot dogs, meat patties, chewing gum, potato chips, beer, butter, vegetable oils, cosmetics, and animal feed.

7. Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate
WHAT THEY ARE: These two closely-related chemicals are used to preserve meat.

WHY THEY’RE BAD: When added to meat, the nitrates are readily converted to nitrosamines, which are associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancers. This chemical reaction occurs most readily at the high temperatures. In a 2007 analysis, The World Cancer Research Fund revealed that eating 1.8 ounces of processed meat every day increases your cancer risk by 20%.

AKA: Soda niter, Chile saltpeter

THEY’RE FOUND IN: Cured meats, bacon, ham, salami, corned beef and hot dogs, pate, pickled pig’s feet, canned meat (Vienna sausages, deviled ham), smoked salmon, dried fish, jerky.

8. Potassium Bromate
WHAT IT IS: A form of bromide, it is used as an additive to increase the volume in some breads, rolls, and flours.

WHY IT’S BAD: It has been shown to cause cancer in animals and is banned in the EU, Canada, and several other countries. The FDA, since 1991, has requested that bakers voluntarily stop using it. It is rarely used in California because a cancer warning is required on the label. Bromide is considered to be an endocrine disruptor.

AKA: Bromic acid, potassium salt, bromated flour, “enriched flour.”

IT’S FOUND IN: Most commercial baked goods in the US, including Wonder Bread, Sunbeam, Home Pride (but not in Pepperidge Farm, Arnold, Entenmann’s, and Orowheat brands). It’s also common in flour, and occurs in some toothpaste and mouthwash brands as an antiseptic.

9. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
WHAT IT IS: Produced by Monsanto, rBGH is a genetically-engineered version of the natural growth hormone produced by cows. It is used to boost milk production in dairy cows.

WHY IT’S BAD: “rBGH milk” contains high levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), excess levels of which have been implicated as major causes of breast, colon and prostate cancers. rBGH milk is not required to be labeled.

Giving cows rBGH has been shown to increase the incidence of mastitis. When a cow has mastitis, pus and blood are secreted into the milk. It also leads to antibiotic resistance, which is tied to the spread of virulent staph infections such as MRSA. Hormones in food have also been linked to the onset of early puberty for girls.

Consumer feedback spurred such megabrands as Dannon and General Mills, and the supermarket chains Wal-Mart, Starbucks, and Publix to phase out products with hormones rBST and rBGH.

AKA: Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST).

IT’S FOUND IN: All dairy products that aren’t specifically labeled “No rGBH or rBST.”

10. Refined Vegetable Oil
WHAT IT IS: There are many different kinds of commercially-refined vegetable oils, including soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, and peanut oil.

WHY IT’S BAD: Refined cooking oils are made by intensive mechanical and chemical processes that extract the oil from the seeds. The refining process also utilizes chemical solvents and high temperatures. The oils are then typically deodorized and bleached. This process removes the natural vitamins and minerals from the seeds and creates a product that has been shown to become rancid and oxidize easily, causing free radical formation.

These oils are also high in Omega-6 fatty acid, which is inflammatory and neutralizes the benefits of Omega-3s in your diet. The oxidation effect has been shown to contribute to inflammation in the body, DNA damage elevated blood triglycerides, and impaired insulin response. Additionally, many refined vegetable oils are hydrogenated. This process creates trans fatty acids, which are known to contribute to heart disease and some cancers.

IT’S FOUND IN: Many, if not most, processed foods such as crackers, granola bars, and baked goods use these vegetable oils. They also are popular as stand-alone products (i.e., cooking oils and margarines).

Why You Should Wear a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM)

Why You Should Wear a Heart Rate MonitorYour heart is the most important muscle in your body. It delivers oxygenated blood from your lungs to the rest of your body and, as you’re aware, oxygen is the primary ingredient keeping us alive. Like any muscle, the heart needs to be exercised, and monitoring your heart rate is an easy way to keep yourself working in the right “zone,” reducing your chance of injury and overtraining, and increasing the odds that you’ll get the results you want.

Heart rate monitors measure your cardiovascular and physiological stress during training sessions. They provide you with an accurate gauge of how intensely you’re exercising, which is reflected in your heart rate. The harder you exercise, the higher the heart rate goes. When your heart rate changes, it’s a sign that something is happening. By monitoring your heart rate, you will learn to tell when your workouts are effective, when you are over or undertraining, and even when you may be getting sick and need to back off
How Do I Understand My Heart Rate Monitor?

These days, heart rate monitors come in many shapes and sizes. Some simply show your heart rate, time of day, and offer a stopwatch function. Others measure the wattage you’re pushing on your bike, count every step you take, and map and measure every place you go. Provided you learn to use these features, they all have potential to help you get fitter. Today we’ll stick to the heart rate portion, which simply counts the number of times your heart beats.

Heart rates are measured in beats per minute (bpm). Your resting heart rate indicates your basic fitness level and is defined by the number of times your heart beats per minute while your body is at rest. In general, the fitter you are the less effort, and fewer beats per minute, it takes your heart to pump blood to your body at rest. I say in general because part of this is genetic. We’re born with varying genetic capacities for this process, so you should measure your heart rate versus your own and not someone else’s because you could be fitter than someone who has a naturally lower heart rate.

To gauge this, measure your resting heart rate immediately after waking up and before you get out of bed (so, yes, wear your monitor to bed until you understand the process—you can also count your pulse but it’s less accurate). Take these measurements for five consecutive days and find the average. This average is your actual resting heart rate. Resting heart rate is dependent upon your living habits and a number of factors such as your quality of sleep, stress level, and eating habits.

Your average heart rate is the number of times your heart beats within a certain period of time, like over the course of a workout.

Your maximum heart rate (max HR) is the maximum number of times your heart can contract in one minute. An accurate max HR should be tested in a lab setting. In lieu of lab testing, we use this formula:

Women: 226 – your age = your age-adjusted max HR

Men: 220 – your age = your age-adjusted max HR

For example: If you are a 30-year-old woman, your age-adjusted maximum heart rate is 226 – 30 years = 196 bpm.

These formulas apply only to adults and have an error margin of +/–10 to 15 beats per minute, due to different inherited characteristics and exercise training. If you want to exercise/train at your most effective levels, your max HR should be measured. However, most of us are fine using the above estimates. When you need your training to be more specific, you’ll almost certainly know it because you’ll be obsessing over a race or event as opposed to simply trying to be healthy.

Your anaerobic threshold (AT) is the physiological point during exercise at which your muscles start using up more oxygen than the body can transport (the point where lactic acid accumulates and you get “pumped”), which forces you to stop. This point becomes obvious without any monitoring. It’s why you can’t do push-ups forever and why people drop to the floor during sets in INSANITY®. While you can’t control it, you can train it if you know where it is, which you can figure out using your HR monitor.

Note: Like your max HR, your anaerobic threshold doesn’t necessarily correspond to others. Some people have naturally higher maximum heart rates than others.
What’s a Heart Rate Zone? And What Zone Should I Be in?

These “zones” correlate to different levels in intensity, which (as you’ll see below) increases as you get closer to your max HR. In any hard workout you will experience all of them. Easier workouts will skip the higher zones.

Heart Rate ZonePercentage of Max HRPerceived Exertion Difficulty
Z1 Healthy Heart Zone50%–60%2–5 (perceived exertion)
Z2 Temperate Zone60%–70%4–5 (perceived exertion)
Z3 Aerobic Zone70%–80%5–7 (perceived exertion)
Z4 Threshold Zone80%–90%7–9 (perceived exertion)
Z5 Redline Zone90%–100%9–10 (perceived exertion)

In the lower zones—sometimes called “cruise zones”—you can train for longer periods of time. As you move up to higher-intensity zones, you need to decrease the amount of time that you spend in these, particularly in the top two (the Threshold and Redline Zones) where your body, as noted above, will make you stop.

Your five heart rate zones are specific to your maximum heart rate, not anybody else’s. For example, if there two runners are each maintaining a heart rate of 160 bpm, one runner might be in their Z4 Threshold Zone while the other might be in their Z2 Temperate Zone.

Each heart rate zone burns a different number of calories per minute. How many calories you burn within the range for each zone depends on how fit you are:

Zone 1 = 3–7 calories per minute

Zone 2 = 7–12 calories per minute

Zone 3 = 12–17 calories per minute

Zone 4 = 17–20 calories per minute

Zone 5 = 20+ calories per minute

Looking at this, you all probably want to be in zone 5 as much as possible. Unfortunately, the time we can spend here is limited. For efficiency, Beachbody® workouts try and maximize the time spent in the higher zones, which we’ll get to in a moment. Training in the lower zones is also important.

What About the “Fat-Burning Zone”?

The Fat-Burning Zone. You’ll notice the lack of something called the fat-burning zone in the table above. The reason for this is that it’s misleading because people feel the need to stay in this low heart rate zone in order to burn fat. In reality, the opposite is true.

In Z1 and Z2, you’re using stored fat for fuel. It’s cool-sounding, yes, but your body is doing this because it’s trying to conserve its limited stores of something called glycogen, its primary fuel for hard exertions. It’s important to train in Z1 and Z2, but most of us train in it plenty during our warm-ups, cooldowns, recovery periods between hard sets of exercise, and the daily activities in our life. Endurance athletes, however, do need to spend extra time training these zones because their sport requires it. In theory, you’ll never get tired because your heart can continue to pump oxygenated blood to your muscles indefinitely. In reality, we still break down and wear out—like the way you feel after a long day at the mall—so those who compete for many hours need to spend more time training “long.”

Z3 is called aerobic because it’s the hardest zone you can train in without going anaerobic (the point where the pump starts settling in). This is what we’re targeting in steady state “cardio” workouts. It’s actually quite hard to stay in this zone because we’re always creeping into zone 4, so the most effective way to train it is using an over/under strategy, which is done by training in intervals between the higher and lower zones. Again, endurance athletes often try and target this zone more specifically because their sport requires that they maintain as fast a pace as possible without getting pumped.

Z4 and Z5 are your anaerobic zones. You can’t stay in these very long because your heart can’t pump oxygen to your body fast enough. Your body is using glycogen (via blood sugar) as fuel and it runs out rapidly—part of why Results and Recovery Formula® works so well after hard workouts where you’ve spent a lot of time in these zones. Trying in these zones forces your body to break down muscle tissue and fire “emergency” hormones to repair this tissue, which is all vital for getting fitter (and looking “ripped”). All athletes, even endurance athletes, spend most of their training focused in this area.

What Zone Should I Be in During My Workout?

As you can probably guess, you want to do each Beachbody workout to the maximum of your ability. This means that you don’t back off so that your heart rate falls into a lower zone on purpose, as you might if you were training for a triathlon.

The only exception is if you’re following a “doubles” routine, where one of your two workouts is supposed to be at “low to moderate intensity,” meaning that you don’t want to exceed Z2. But our programs are based on efficiency, and in most cases, intensity = efficiency.

To get a sense of how intense you’re working out, your heart rate monitor is a great tool to help you monitor and track your progress, and make sure you are working hard enough to get the cardiovascular and fat-burning results you want.

In general, you should see a pattern throughout the course of any Beachbody program. “Cardio” days will burn more calories than resistance days at first because you’re moving more and your average heart rate is higher. Over time, however, you should get stronger and, thus, lift more weight for more repetitions in resistance days, greatly increasing the caloric burn for those days. This is why so many of our programs use weight and, even in INSANITY (which uses gravity in place of weight), we add weight to the later workouts of ASYLUM. If this is not happening, it means you need to add weight and/or repetitions to your resistance workouts! Besides what you see in the mirror, this is best way to see if you’re making improvements in your health and fitness.

You will also learn that by tracking your progress, you’ll be more in tune with external factors that are upsetting you. You will be able to tell when you are getting sick or overtraining. When that’s happening, you won’t be able to get your heart rate to maximums that you’ve seen prior, or your heart rate at rest will be too high. This is an indicator that something isn’t quite right.

The best way to stay ahead of the game is by getting into the habit of checking your resting heart rate each morning before you get out of bed. As you get into shape, it should continually drop. If it reverses this pattern for more than a couple of days in a row, it’s telling you that your body is stressed, which could be due to overtraining, the onset of an illness, or some other negative environmental impact. In any case, that means it’s time to back off until your resting heart rate goes back down. If wearing your monitor to bed is too much trouble, just use your fingers and count beats of your pulse at your neck or wrist for a minute. It’s less accurate, but you don’t need to be perfect. A racing pulse means something is amiss (though your pulse will be fast for the first couple of weeks as you adjust to any new program).

Once you learn your body’s patterns, you’ll be able to anticipate your body’s needs rather than just reacting to them, and this alone justifies learning your way around a heart rate monitor at least once in your life.

Recipe: High-Carb Day

Recipe: High-Carb DayBelieve it or not, carbohydrates can be good for you – especially when part of a balanced diet. Celebrity trainer Chris Powell suggests a diet which cycles between low-carb days and high-carb days. Together, the two fares can burn fat and boost metabolism.

Finally: A diet that allows you to eat carbs and still lose weight! Try these dishes on a high-carb day as part of the carb-cycling diet. You’ll burn fat and boost your metabolism while building muscle.

Breakfast: Breakfast Sandwich

4 egg whites/substitutes
1/2 whole-grain or Ezekiel English muffin
3 slices tomato
1 dash Mrs. Dash
3 tbsp salsa

Cook and stir egg whites in a skillet over medium heat until scrambled and done to your liking. Sprinkle with Mrs. Dash.

Place scrambled egg whites on toasted English muffin.

Morning Snack: Yogurt Crunch

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup low-fat granola
1 dash Stevia

Blend yogurt and stevia to desired sweetness, then add granola to desired crunch.

Lunch: Chicken Tostadas

3 1/2 ounces cooked chicken breast
1 corn tortilla
1/3 cup boiled or canned black beans
2 cups mixed chopped onions and peppers
1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce
3 tbsp salsa

Lightly spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray, and set stove to medium heat. Saute onions, peppers, and chicken for 5 minutes.

Mix in beans and heat.
Remove from heat, and mix with lettuce and salsa.
Tear tortillas into 1-inch pieces, and sprinkle over the top.
(Optional: Heat on stovetop or in microwave.)
Add tomato and enjoy!

Afternoon Snack: Chocolate-Oatmeal Power Shake

1 scoop chocolate protein powder
3/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal (cooked)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

Blend almond milk with 1 cup water and protein powder.
Blend in oatmeal for a hearty shake.

Dinner: Chicken Marinara Pasta

3 1/2 ounces cooked, chopped chicken breast
1/2 cup cooked brown-rice pasta
1/2 cup sauteed sliced mushrooms
1 cup steamed broccoli
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp marinara sauce

Mix together chicken breast, garlic, mushrooms, broccoli, and marinara sauce.
Toss with pasta.
Heat on stovetop or in microwave and enjoy!

Crisp Cucumber Salad

Crisp Cucumber SaladCrisp Cucumber Salsa
Yield 2-1/2 cups

2 cups finely chopped seeded peeled cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4-1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/4 c reduced-fat sour cream
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1-1/2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
Whole Grain Tortilla chips or Scoops

In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In another bowl, combine the sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice, cumin and seasoned salt. Pour over cucumber mixture and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately with chips.

Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage

Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage

1 cup pearl barley
3 cups water
1 head savory cabbage, leaves seperated (original recipe says to use 8 leaves ( but I used the whole head of cabbage)
2 teaspoons canola oil
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (original recipe says to use cremini mushrooms but I used ordinary white mushrooms)
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons parsley
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 (10 ounce) can tomatoes and green chilies (optional)
1 cup low -fat shredded cheese (optional)


1. Combine barley and water in saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Drain.
2. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add cabbage leaves and return to a boil, cooking for 8-10 minutes. Drain. Rinse under cold running water. Drain. Transfer to cutting board and cut off thick ribs from the base of the cabbage leaves — on some of the leaves I skipped this step.
3. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray 9 x 13 pan with Pam.
4. In a skillet heat oil and add mushrooms and onion, cook stirring for 5-8 minutes or until softened. Stir in soy sauce and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Stir in barley and parsley. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
5. Put mixture in a food processor and pulse until chopped — you will probably have to work in batches.
6. Place 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce in bottom of baking dish.
7. Place 1/3 cup of filling in each cabbage leaf and fold in sides of leaf over filling and roll up.
8. Place rolls seam side down in baking dish.
9. In a large measuring cup or bowl stir together remaining marinara sauce (1 1/2 cups), water and vinegar. Pour over cabbage rolls.
10. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
11. What I did because of didn’t estimate the time right is I refrigerated the pan covered and the next day added 1 can of tomatoes and some leftover WW cheese (not sure of the amount) — cooked at 350 for 30 minutes or so.

Pass The Butter … Please

Pass The Butter ... PleaseMargarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back.

It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow colouring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavourings….

DO YOU KNOW.. The difference between margarine and butter?

Read on to the end…gets very interesting!

Both have the same amount of calories.
Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams; compared to 5 grams for margarine.

Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.

Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.
Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and only because they are added!

Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavours of other foods.

Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years .

And now, for Margarine..

Very High in Trans fatty acids.

Triples risk of coronary heart disease …

Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)

Increases the risk of cancers up to five times..

Lowers quality of breast milk

Decreases immune response.

Decreases insulin response.

And here’s the most disturbing fact… HERE IS THE PART THAT IS VERY INTERESTING!

Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC… and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT.

These facts alone were enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).

Open a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things:

  •  no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)
  •  it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value ; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow.

Why? Because it is nearly plastic . Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

Share This With Your Friends…..(If you want to butter them up’)!

Chinese Proverb:
When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others.


10 Tips to Get the Best Sleep Ever

10 Tips to Get the Best Sleep EverWhen is the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Most of us have a million things to do every day and to get them all done, something’s got to give. So why not skimp on downtime? After all, there’s nothing wrong with shortening your snooze when you’re on the go, right?

Think again. According to a new study in the journal Science Transitional Medicine, adults who limit sleep to roughly 5 hours a night greatly increase their risk of obesity and diabetes(1). And for those of you trying to blast P90X® or INSANITY®, even more downtime might be in order. A recent study from Stanford University’s Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory reported that athletes heighten their performance levels after a solid 10 hours in bed(2).

But before you stop reading and head for the sheets, keep in mind that 6 to 8 hours of good rest should be enough for most of us. Unfortunately, even if you’re sleeping enough, it’s likely, given the pace of modern society, that you’re not sleeping particularly well, so let’s take a look at your sleeping habits and conditions. With a few small changes, you could dramatically improve your quality of life.


Exercise won’t just help you get fit, it’ll help you sleep better. When you exercise, you increase your internal body temperature. According to Professor Jim Horne, who runs the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, the post-workout cooling down process makes you sleepier, given that right before sleep, your body expels heat to help you shut down. Interestingly, exercising outside in the cold isn’t as beneficial because it’s a zero-sum gain, heat-wise(3).

Quiet the Noise

If you live only a thin wall away from neighbors (or a partner who snores!), excess noise is keeping you from getting quality rest. A pair of $3 drug store earplugs can eliminate outside and inside noise and help you feel more rested in the morning.

Get Great Lighting

According to Dr. Phyllis C. Zee, associate director at the Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology, Northwestern University School of Medicine, light has an enormous effect on circadian rhythms—your body’s daily physiological clock(4). Too much exposure to light before bed can keep your body from entering a restful state and may prevent you from remaining asleep for long enough. Keep lights dim at night and don’t sleep with the light on. You may even consider wearing an eye mask as one Chinese study found that earplugs and eye masks worn during sleep increases the levels of melatonin produced in the body(5). Or, you could invest in blackout curtains. These curtains are specifically designed to reduce noise by up to 40%, block out 99% of light, and help you save up to 25% on home heating and cooling costs.

Take a Bath

As is also the case with exercise, once you leave the bath your internal temperature cools down, giving your body the hint that it’s time to catch some ZZZs. Furthermore, hot water relieves tension and the pressure that gravity places on the joints and muscles.

Ban the Electronics

You may love watching Netflix® in your boxers, but according to The National Sleep Foundation, electronics are a no-go in the bedroom. Just like overhead lighting, the glow of your iPad®, laptop, or the TV messes with your circadian rhythms. Your best bet is to teach your brain to associate your bed with sleep . . . and maybe sex, but that’s a topic for a different article.

Time Your Caffeine

Caffeinated beverages can hinder sleep for up to 6 hours after you drink them(6). On the other hand, foods containing the amino acid tryptophan increase your serotonin levels and serve as a natural sedative(7). Foods high in tryptophan include red meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, soybeans, tuna, shellfish, and turkey. So gobble them up if you want to get totally “trypt” out.

Have a Drink

Try this ancient ayurvedic recipe: warm milk, a pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of cardamom(8). Milk contains tryptophan, which, as stated earlier in this article, is a great sleep aid. This is why so many folk remedies include warm milk. Try it out, you will feel like a sleep bug snug in a rug.

Set a Bedtime

Researchers from Minnesota’s University of St. Thomas conducted a study on college students with inconsistent weekend sleeping habits(9). Subjects who pulled all-nighters on Saturday or Sunday found it difficult to sleep the rest of the week. Your brain needs consistency. You create patterns of sleep just like you acquire all of your good and bad habits. In fact, a consistent bedtime can help you train your brain to be its own alarm clock.

Fall for Soft Rock

Save Megadeth for getting ready in the morning and spin Mumford & Sons at night instead. The calmer music, the better. Researchers from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing in Cleveland, Ohio, conducted a study on older individuals listening to soft, calm music before bed and found that it significantly improved their quality of sleep(10).

Use aromatherapy

Herbs like lavender, chamomile, bergamot, and sandalwood have been used for centuries to calm the central nervous system, bring on a sense of relaxation, and help to induce sleep(11). Place scented candles in your bedroom, ask your partner to massage you with lavender oil before bed, or take a warm bath with any of these herbs at night to put yourself in the mood for sleep.


  1. American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2012, July 1). Sleep deprivation effect on the immune system mirrors physical stress. ScienceDaily.
  2. The Effects of Sleep Extension on the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players. Cheri D. Mah, Kenneth E. Mah, Eric J. Kezirian, William C. Dement Sleep. 2011 July 1; 34(7): 943–950
  3. Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University:
  4. Phyllis C. Zee, Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders ACCP Sleep Med Brd Rev 2009 4:63-76 Lee IS, Lee GJ.
  5. Effects of earplugs and eye masks on nocturnal sleep, melatonin and cortisol in a simulated intensive care unit environment. Rong-fang Hu, Xiao-ying Jiang, Yi-ming Zeng, Xiao-yang Chen, You-hua Zhang, Critical Care. 2010 14:R66.
  6. Sleep homeostasis: a role for adenosine in humans? Landolt HP. Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 Jun 1; 75(11): 2070-9. Epub 2008 Mar 4
  7. Simon N. Young, Marco Leyton. The role of serotonin in human mood and social interaction: Insight from altered tryptophan levels. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, Volume 71, Issue 4, April 2002, Pages 857–865
  8. Chopra, Ananda S. (2003). “Ayurveda”. In Selin, Helaine. Medicine Across Cultures: History and Practice of medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Pp. 75-83. ISBN 1-4020-1166-0
  9. Sleep Patterns and Predictors of Disturbed Sleep in a Large Population of College Students. Hannah G. Lund, Brian D. Reider, Annie B. Whiting, J. Roxanne Prichard Journal of Adolescent Health February 2010 (Vol. 46, Issue 2, Pages 124-132)
  10. Lai, H.-L. and Good, M. (2005), Music improves sleep quality in older adults. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 49: 234–244.
  11. A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. Lewith GT, Godfrey AD, Prescott P. J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Aug; 11(4):631-7.

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

Good Carbs vs. Bad CarbsMost people can’t tell a good carbohydrate from a bad one if their life depended on it. But it does. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap of late. But before you vote all carbs off the island, learn how to tell a good carb from a bad carb.

Carbohydrates are the most misunderstood and maligned of all the calorie-producing foods. They have been blacklisted by skittish dieters who worry that they are the bane of their weight gain. But low-carb dieters may be misinformed. Eating a diet rich in carbohydrates doesn’t necessary cause weight gain, but eating too much of the wrong ones can.

Complex Life of Carbs

At times it may feel like you need a PhD to figure out carbohydrates. Simply put, carbs are the body’s main source of energy. The energy derived from fat metabolism can provide back up, but carbs are the preferred source of energy, particularly in the brain.

Foods that contain sugars, starches and fiber all belong to the carbohydrate camp. With the exception of unabsorbable fiber, all carbohydrates are converted during digestion into smaller molecules of glucose, the essential source of energy used by every cell in the body. Carbohydrates are mostly plant-based foods – fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes – with the exception of dairy products, which are animal-based carbohydrates. They are comprised of single, double or multiple groupings of hydrogen and oxygen molecules? linked together in chains.

Simple carbohydrates are all single (monosaccharides) and double-chained sugars (disaccharides). You can recognize them because they usually end with “-ose” – glucose and fructose (from fruit), lactose (from dairy) and the table sugar sucrose (from cane or beet sugar). Simple sugars are usually added to low-fat foods to give them flavor. They are usually devoid of nutrition because they don’t contain many (if any) micronutrients, vitamins, minerals or phytochemicals.

Complex carbohydrates are many chains of simple sugars joined together (oligosaccharides and polysaccharides). They include starch, a form of carbohydrates that plants store, and fiber, the mostly undigested part of the plant. Foods that contain complex carbs include grains, breads, pasta, beans, potatoes, corn and other vegetables.

The Good, the Bad and the Better

Does the body care if glucose comes from simple carbs versus complex carbs?

Technically, no. The body will digest what it is given, but not all carbs are good. Feed the body simple carbs (like fructose and glucose) and it is likely you are downing “empty” calories that don’t have any nutritional value. The body doesn’t have to work very hard to get the glucose unleashed into the bloodstream, so sugar spikes rapidly.

Although sugar extracted from fruit is no different than the sugar in candy, maple syrup, honey or brown sugar, if you eat fruit that’s a complex carb, you get worthy calories because they contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, nutrients that the body needs to perform properly.

One dangerous carbohydrate to avoid is high fructose corn syrup; it’s a simple carb that’s commonly found in sodas and processed foods. They sabotage your diet because your body converts it into fat much faster than complex carbs. This can end up packing on the pounds. Though we’ve been exposed to natural sources of fructose, like apples, figs and honey, for centuries, high fructose corn syrup sweeteners were not commercially used until the 1960s. Now they comprise more than 20% of our total daily carb intake.

Some complex carbs are more beneficial than others. Whole grains are not only more nutritious, they are digested more slowly and are less likely to cause a rush of glucose. White flour and white rice are complex carbs, but during processing, have had all the fibrous goodies stripped out. And while French fries are made from nutritious potato, deep-frying it in oil sabotages any health benefits.

Keep these tips in mind when consuming carbohydrates:

  • Skip refined and processed foods altogether.
  • Read the label to see if there is added sugar. Be wary of the “-oses” like high fructose corn syrup.
  • Choose whole grains (oats, some cerials, rye, millet, quinoa, whole wheat and brown rice), beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
  • Try to have 40% of your total caloric intake come from complex carbohydrates.
  • Avoid the lure of low-fat foods, which contain a sizable amount of calories from sugar.
  • Avoid the lure of low-carb foods, which sometimes have more calories from fat.
  • Try some of the high-carb recipes located on this blog, which provide good complex carbs for your diet.