Monday, May 24, 2010

Fruit Snacks - The Great Hipocrasy

Fruit snacks are a really good example of a strong marketing concept. The goals of a marketing concept are 1) knowing the needs and wants of your target market, 2)  and delivering the desired satisfactions. Note the operative word desired.  Lets apply this concept to 'Fruit Snacks.'

The target market for this product is two fold. The primary target is children, typically the actual consumer of fruit snacks. The secondary target is the group of people with the buying power, the parents.
Regarding the food industry, the needs and wants of children are sweets and familiarity, while the needs and wants for parents are healthy, convenient and inexpensive foods.

To effectively satisfy this group, the manufacturers of fruit snacks, and many other 'kid tested, mom approved' products, have created a tasty food product with a healthy image. Kids love the sweet taste and the familiar character shapes and packaging, while parents love that their children are eating something with a 'healthful' advantage that happens to be very convenient (no washing, cutting, or rotting), and relatively inexpensive.

Sounds like a win-win right? Let's explore the supposed 'healthful' advantage of these handy little snacks. Some parents would be shocked and disappointed to learn that typically the first or second ingredient is High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, or some other chemically created sweetener.  Others may not understand why this is a problem, so I digress.

Chemical sweeteners are more readily absorbed into the body when consumed, requiring less metabolic energy from the consumer, leading to an upset of the natural blood sugar balance. In my humble opinion, this easy absorption of chemical sweeteners would ultimately 'confuse' the pancreas, the insulin producing organ, because the normal metabolic breakdown that occurs with regular cane sugar is not taking place; which could quite possibly explain the diabetes and/or obesity epidemics.

Returning to my original topic, 'fruit snacks', I will point out the the ingredients following the chemical sweetener is usually some form of  gelatin, fruit juice and several artificial colors. Like corn syrup, gelatin is unnatural, and otherwise disgusting. As Wikipedia explains it: "Gelatin is a protein produced by partial hydrolysis of collagen extracted from the boiled bones, connective tissues, organs and some intestines of animals such as domesticated pigs, cattle, and horses."

Next, fruit juice, which sounds healthy, and is the most beneficial ingredient in this food product, however, as Michael Pollan states in Food Rules, "in nature, sugars almost always come packaged with fiber, which slows their absorption and gives you a sense of satiety before you've ingested too many calories." When they are processed, though, the fiber and other nutrients are stripped away and the juice becomes little more than sweet tasting empty calories that don't fill you up and are much more fattening.

Finally, the last 'healthful' ingredient in fruit snacks, artificial colors. Simply stated, humans should not ingest artificial anything - it's unnatural, and our bodies weren't designed to process man made ingredients. But, here are a few of the consequences that come with consumption of food colors, just for grins.
  • The majority of food colors are made with petroleum.
  • They are a derivative of petrochemicals and coal tar.
  • Food dye is pulled off the market regularly.
  • Yellow #2 specifically has been proven to cause ADHD, many forms of cancer, male sterility, and more.
  • There have been petitions to ban these dyes, but they are still on the market.
  • Artificial food colorings have been banned in the U.K. and parts of Europe.
~Science News, Kevin Trudeau

Because I am a busy mother of 3, I know that you can't always serve fresh fruit, but you can make a choice not to serve harmful, imitation fruit in its place.  Should you happen to have a short, fruit snack addict in your home, I recommend weaning them to Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks, which can be found at Target stores nationwide, as well as in bulk at

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Low Down On Lattes

Ordering a really complicated drink at Starbucks is not just a status symbol, but a wise choice.

First, let me share that I chose to feature Starbucks because, believe it or not, they are one of the national pioneers for healthier choices, as defined in this press release last year: Starbucks Goes Healthy

Where do I begin. Hmmm. Let's start with sugar since this is one of my favorite topics. Starbucks no longer uses High Fructose Corn Syrup (Food Prude's rejoice!).  But a full sugar latte can still pack a lot of unwanted sugar. When ordering lattes, or any drink with syrup, ask your barista to go easy on the syrup. I feel that this is better than the sugar free option because anyone that touts 'sugar free' usually uses chemically based artificial sweeteners which are not good for anyone, and would not pass a Food Prude's standards.

Fat. It makes everything taste good but comes with serious consequensces. Good news, this one's pretty easy. Go Skim on the milk and skip the whip cream. It tastes the same and is much better for you.

And most importantly, caffeine. This one's tough. Many people feel the need for caffeine, that they couldn't function without their morning coffee, or their afternoon coke. But, in addition to being an addictive substance, caffeine has long term effects on your body that you may not be aware of. For example: "caffeine consumption is linked to elevated estrogen levels, which increases the risk of developing breast and endometrial cancers," according to Dr. Joseph Mercola.

Caffeine can also increase the body’s levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone”, which can lead to other health consequences ranging from weight gain and moodiness to heart disease and diabetes.  In addition, increased levels of cortisol lead to stronger cravings for fat and carbohydrates, and cause the body to store fat in the abdomen. (Abdominal fat carries with it greater health risks than other types of fat.) Also, if increased cortisol levels lead to stronger cravings for caffeine-laden foods, the body goes into a cycle that leads only to worse health.

Bubble buster: Unless you can find a Sonic drink that doesn't have caffeine OR corn syrup, you're going to have to skip happy hour. Sorry.

So, a food prude recommendation: Order a complicated Latte. Something like a decaf, non-fat, caramel machiato, light syrup, hold the whip. And for an afternoon pick me up, go for Chic-fil-a's Lemonade. It has no corn syrup and no caffeine. Don't get diet, it has splenda (which has maltodextrin and fructose in it - both are high on the glycemic index).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

American Honey

Wish you had a vaccine for allergies? You do.  In addition to being a beautiful song by Lady Antebellum, American Honey is Mother Nature's vaccine for allergy sufferers.


"At least one informal (unfunded) study on allergies and honey conducted by students at Xavier University in New Orleans produced positive results. Researchers divided participants into three groups: seasonal allergy sufferers, year-round allergy sufferers and non-allergy sufferers. These groups were further divided into three subgroups with some people taking two teaspoons of local honey per day, others taking the same amount of non-local honey each day and the final subgroup not taking honey at all. The Xavier students found that after six weeks, allergy sufferers from both categories suffered fewer symptoms and that the group taking local honey reported the most improvement" [source: Cochran].

The study was never published, but the anecdotal evidence in favor of honey as an allergy reliever continues: Several of the study participants asked if they could keep the remaining honey after the experiment was concluded.

The honey making process involves pollens and allergens that commonly make humans sick with itchy watery eyes, and sneezy runny noses when allergy season strikes, typically spring through fall when flowers and grasses are in bloom the wind picks up and blows everything around.  By taking honey, before and during allergy season, you expose your body to the 'enemy' in small doses and form antibodies to those allergens. When allergens come at you full throttle, you already have the antibodies necessary to handle them. Honey that is collected and bottled closest to where you live is best, so you are being exposed to the allergens through honey that you will also get out in nature. Look for LOCAL honey at your grocer. I use North Dallas Honey Co.

I say it's worth a try. If you can't take honey straight, try mixing it with plain or vanilla yogurt, or cottage cheese. REMEMBER: 2 tsp. local honey everyday to help fight allergies.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sickenin' Nuggets

Yuck. That's what I thought after I read my friend's blog and watched her link to the Food Revolution video about nuggets. Check it out @ Mommilyeverafter

Here are some comments I received when I posted this on my Facebook page:

  1. "I saw that, disgusting, huh?? We banished all nuggets
  2. "OMGoodness...I'm going to be sick!! Any suggestions on what to feed Zack? He'a a picky eater with nut allergies and I've been giving him Mickey Mouse nuggets fro Costco with whole grain breading...thought they were decent..YIKES!!"
  3. Food Prude's Reply: "we usually make breaded chicken tenders at home, but for those nights that you really need a quick dinner, try Ian's frozen Organic Nuggets
    Or Applegate Farms Organic Nuggets

    They both claim to use NO byproducts, only pure white meat from organic chickens. They can be found at Sprouts, Market Street and Whole Foods. Occasionally you can find Ian's at Target. I know they are not as cheap as buying in bulk at Costco, but they are really good and make a great last minute meal.

    I know he's a little young, but you might try getting Zach involved in making your own breaded chicken tenders. Kate loves to help dip them in the wet mixture and then the dry breading mixture and putting them on the cookie sheet. My kids are more likely to eat it if they helped make it, I guess it's fun to them. I hope that helps,
STAY TUNED: FAST FOOD FOR THE PRUDE PART 2 is coming soon. I will feature unique ways to eat healthy at the local drive thru.

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese

This sandwich is delicious and flexible. It is great - even with gluten free bread* - and you can add or subtract ingredients to change it up.
2 Slices Whole Grain Bread
1 Tomato, sliced
2 slices of Pepper Jack Cheese
2 slices of Rotisserie Chicken Deli Meat
Basil - fresh is best, dried works well too though
Olive Oil

Variation - Use a different deli meat, or none at all.
Variation - Use Cheddar cheese.

Preheat Griddle.
Brush one side of 2 slices of whole grain bread with Olive Oil.
Place first slice, oil side down on grill.
Layer: cheese, basil, deli meat, tomatoes, basil, cheese, bread - oil side up.
Grill for 3-5 minutes, on high, then flip and grill for another 3-5 minutes.

My favorite store bought Gluten Free bread is Udi's.

Please read about the benefits of Tomatoes and Olive Oil in my earlier post Super Salad

Monday, May 3, 2010

I'm No Martha....

I'm just a self proclaimed writer with a selective diet. I'm not an expert, not a nutritionist, and by no means am I anything like Martha Stewart. But I am passionate about wellness through nutrition. It's intriguing to me, I think about it all the time, I have a list of nutritional topics and recipes that I want to write about.

However, I wasn't always this way. I got through college on M&M's and Dr. Pepper... shhhh, don't tell my kids.  In college, my passion was helping people, I majored in Sociology, I volunteered A LOT, it was who I was.

Shortly after college (very shortly), I got married and we immediately began our family. One right after the next, we had 3 children in the first 4.5 years of our marriage. It was a whirlwind of diapers, breast pumps and well checks. At one point I actually caught myself napping at a stoplight....on the way to a well check, of course.

Somewhere in the process of starting my life, I lost who I was. I no longer knew me. I no longer knew what I wanted, what my goals were. I couldn't even think farther ahead than nap time. Aside from sheer exhaustion, I was consumed by motherhood. At the time, this wasn't necessarily a problem for me. I was completely fulfilled by my role as a mommy. Even in the throws of Toddlerdom, when one celiac diagnosis followed the next, and food allergies found their way into our lives, I was still blissfully happy to be a mommy, and only a mommy. It still hadn't occurred to me that the further loss of myself in my 'special needs' children was an impending issue.

It was the worst of the worst that gave me a wake up call. A proverbial slap in the face came when my best friend, my 39 yr. old sister, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  Her prognosis was 6 months to 2 years. We are currently at 2 years and she is in her final stages of cancer. It has been a roller coaster of highs and lows as we try to cherish every moment while fighting for the opportunity to cherish a few more moments.

During the ongoing grieving process, I stumbled head on into an identity crisis. I won't bore you with the details of my mourning....I'm sure there is an abundance of books about grief.  But, because I believe that blessings come from strife, and strength from adversity, I can tell you that the grief gave me passion.

It was through said identity crisis that I discovered who I am, what I want out of life and what my goals are. It is this passion that breathes life into the monotony of parenthood and work, which would otherwise consume us.  Passion provides the difference between living, and surviving.

Food Prude provides an outlet for my passion, a channel for the breath of life. I encourage you to find your passion, know your purpose, and live.

I also want to thank my friend Holly Homer, and her passion,, for providing me the opportunity to turn my purpose into my profession.  Without paid sponsors and avid readers, I could not afford to pursue this blog, and share my passion with you.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fast Food for the Prude

I know what you're sounds contradictory, but quick healthy food doesn't have to be an oxymoron.

As a very busy, working, homeschooling, blogging, soccer mom of 3, I have come up with a few snacks and meals on the go. Regardless of what you do, or where you're at, sometimes you have to find something convenient, and quick, to eat, and that doesn't mean giving up prudence.

Below I will list few of my favorite at and around home quick, gluten free, and otherwise healthy snack and meal ideas. Please visit Food Prude Faves on my blog to view specific brand and purchasing information through Amazon, doing so helps support the person putting the time into these blogs.

Please Note: All of the below are suitable for children and adults alike, ages 3 and up:
  • My children call my Sequoia, 'The Rolling Pantry', and rightfully so, because I always keep an emergency stash of raw almonds and gluten free pretzels in my center console, for when hunger strikes unexpectedly.
  • I keep 3 key staples in my garage fridge at all times for those 'running out the door, really should take snacks' moments. 

    1. Bottled Water
    2. Greens to Go, or Acai Energy 
    3. String Mozzarella Cheese, and/or TillaMoo Colby Jack Cheese Squares
    4. BECAUSE: A bottle of water + Greens to Go or Acai mixed in, + Almonds + a stick of String Mozzarella Cheese = a well rounded and quick snack.
  • 2-3 slices of Deli meat (Hormel Natural Choice Rotisserie Style Chicken Breast, and Applegate Farms Organic Chicken & Turkey are my favorites) + an apple dipped in Almond butter or Nutella Hazelut spread.
Keep in mind that all snacks and meals should be well rounded (lean protein + carb + good fat), to maintain blood sugar levels, steady metabolism, and to ensure maximum nutrition.
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