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“Pink Slime’s” bad rep may not be so bad afterall?

It’s earned the nickname, “Pink Slime,” a form of meat that was originally found in dog food, and now it’s being fed to your kids in school lunches. Officially called, Lean Finely Textured Beef, the process has caused outraged among parents and critics alike.

Gerald Zirnstein, a former microbiologist with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said in an ABC News report, “It’s not fresh ground beef. … It’s a cheap substitute being added in.” He also reports that “pink slime” is in 70 percent of ground beef sold at supermarkets.

So how exactly is this concoction made?

You start with a beef trim, which is pretty much the waste, lower grade meat, left over from the premium cuts, such as steak.

Then you simmer these lower grade trimmings at low heat so the fat separates easily from the muscle, and spin the trimmings using a centrifuge to complete the separation.  This creates a lean meat, approximately 94-97% lean, according to Beef Products Inc.

After it’s sprayed down with some ammonia gas to kill bacteria,  it is chunk it into bricks, frozen, shipped and then added to ground beef at supermarkets.

A Food Safety News article  does a very good job at explaining the process and offering the other side of the story, which is that this “pink slime” is safe and acceptable.

We live in a capitalistic society, I get that businesses exploit consumers and try and maximize profits with a cheaper substitute. It’s business. But what bothers me is the lack of labeling. As consumers, we have a right to know what exactly is in the products we’re buying. Both the ammonia gas treatment and the “pink slime” are exempt from being required to be on the label.

When I go to the grocery store, I want to know that the lean meat I am buying is made up of more choice cuts of meat. It’s deceptive and I’m paying for something that I don’t want and for something that I think I am getting, but am not.

Let the consumer’s decide what they would rather by. We can vote with our purchases.

Below are some comments I found interesting while reading the Food Safety News article:

By Holiday: Yeah…just because something can be processed and chemically treated to the point where it may be “safe to eat”, doesn’t mean we (or our kids) should be eating it. These are some things I can think of off the top of my head that could also go on this apparently “safe to eat” list: dirt, sand, grass, cigarette butts, cork, wood pulp, toenail clippings, hair, ashes, dandruff, crayons…what else could we add here???

By Eucritta: While there may not be anything specifically unhealthful about pink slime it’s added to ground beef without the label specifying that inclusion. Thus, it’s deceptive.It’s also not necessary. There was, at least, some excuse for filled milk, in that it could be shipped to remote areas with dodgy refrigeration. But pink slime filled ground beef? It’s not inherently more resistant or healthful post-production, it just allows processors a chance to make a greater profit on an unappetizing product that previously went into pet foods, while making already cheap ground beef a bit cheaper all ’round. So – label it. Let us choose. Some won’t care; some will care and buy it anyway; and those of us who want to avoid it, can spot it and do so easily.

By Jen:  If you want the government to pay for your kids to eat prime cuts of meat, fine. But I’d rather that be something parents did at home for their children. The meat they serve in school lunches is not less healthy, it is just less APPEALING to most people. Kids eat hot dogs and bologna all the time, and those are certainly no less gross than ammoniated beef trimmings.

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Filed under Feature, Features, Fitness, Food, Health, News, Opinion, Paleo Diet, recipes

Vegetable Smoothies

Summertime is fast approaching. Pretty soon thirsts will be out of control from the sweltering heat. But that’s nothing a little smoothie can’t take care of. And it’s not a fruit smoothie I’m talking about. It’s a vegetable smoothie. That’s right, I said vegetable.

In a New York Times article, there are five recipes for the adventurous containing arugula, cabbage and carrots. You might think it sounds disgusting, but carrots are good in cake, right?

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Dreaming about cupcakes

Last night I had a dream I was eating the red velvet cupcake from Georgetown Cupcakes. That was my favorite type when I lived there this summer.

Now that I’m on the paleo diet, however, doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy a good baked good once in awhile. I found a great website for paleo friendly, gluten free baked goods.

I tried out one of their muffin recipes the other day. They were even better than those bought at the store or in a box.

My next food experiment; Carrot Cake!

From the paleofood.com:

6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup honey (or less)
1 1/2 cups carrots, cooked and pureed
1 Tlbs grated orange rind
1 Tlbs frozen orange juice
3 cups almond flour

Preheat over to 325° F.
Beat the egg yolks and honey together. Mix in carrot puree, orange rind,
orange juice and almond flour. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in.
Spoon into a greased loose bottomed 9 inch springform pan. Bake for about
50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out
clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to
cool completely.

Source: Partridge <raparch[at]planet.eon.net>
From: http://www.inform.dk/djembe/scd/scdrcp01.html [now dead]

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The true cost of unhealthy eating

A ferocious hunger gripped me as I looked inside of my bag for the salad I brought to work.

Damn! I had forgotten it on the kitchen table.

I work at a TV station, which requires more time out in the field doing interviews and covering events and less time sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen three steps away from a vending machine.

Since I started the paleo diet, I continued my healthy eating at work, packing a lunch, usually salad topped with homemade chicken salad and some almonds and spanish peanuts as a snack throughout the day. I noticed how much energy I had, how, even when I was hungry, I could still go, go, go. I was less cranky, more focused. My mind seemed less clouded.

Before I started the paleo diet, I would sit at a desk after lunch and get that”2:30 feeling” that is advertised on 5 hour energy drink commercials. My eyes would droop, my mind would wander, the front of my face would feel numb with sleepiness.

Unfortunately, the day I forgot my salad, the photographer and I stopped at Krystals on the way to an interview. I devoured three Krystal “chicks” which are chicken sandwich sliders. I thought the chicken was grilled, but it was fried. The sandwich was more bread and mayo than anything else.

I had instant satisfaction after I ate the “chicks.” Tummy full, I felt high off of my first bite of bread in several months.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks; That 2:30 feeling. I fought to stay awake on the thirty minute drive to the interview. My mind seemed unclear, my thoughts would start and then trickle away into drowsiness. This was a feeling I hadn’t felt since the start of my diet.

I felt disgusting. This “food” I ate could hardly be called fuel. Yet people eat it everyday.

“Every day, 2.2 million Americans complain of being tired,” according to WebMD.

This is why.

Combined with alcohol and tobacco usage and not enough sleep, diet not only affects your waist size, it affects your mood.

It is a shackle that gratifies you instantly, addicts you, then abuses you.

“At least one-quarter of American adults eat fast food everyday,” Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, said in an interview with CBS.

 “In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music – combined,” he writes in Fast Food Nation.

Americans like it fast, easy and fried. But it is killing us.

About one-third of U.S. adults are overweight. But more shocking is that approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese, according the CDC.

An adult can make the choice to consume foods that are blatantly bad for them. But now, the younger generation is suffering because of the choice of the parents.

A study done by The New England Journal of Medicine reports that for the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents.

A McDonalds value menu cheeseburger may only cost $1. But  this is the true cost of unhealthy eating.

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My attempt at Baba-Ghanoush

I’ve been dying to try out this Baba-Ghanoush recipe from paleolifestyle.com, which is where I get a lot of my recipes. BG is an arabic dip similar to hummus.

I didn’t have eggplants last time I wanted to make it, so I made it using cucumbers instead. It was an excellent dip, very good for a veggie tray or a spread on a sandwich.

Baba Ghanoush

Baba-Ghanoush:

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants;
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced;
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice;
  • 2 tbsp tahini (optional);
  • 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil;
  • 1 tsp cumin (optional);
  • Salt and pepper to taste;
  • Fresh parsley, optional, for garnishing.

Technique

  1. To roast the eggplants, either use your grill, the open flame of a gas stove or your oven. If using an open flame, keep the eggplant near the flame and turn them often to darken the skin evenly. If using your stove, prick the skin with a fork and roast for about 35 minutes in a 400 F oven.
  2. Put the roasted eggplants in a bowl of cold water, wait a bit and then peel off the skin.
  3. Place the roasted eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, cumin in a blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Cool in the refrigerator and serve with extra olive oil on top and fresh parsley.

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Filed under Food, Health, Paleo Diet, recipes, Vegan

My big fat Greek drama

Drama, theatrics; The Greeks invented it. They created it. They owned it. And for one year of my life, I got to witness a different type of Greek theatrics.

Photo Credit: theatrefolk.com

I worked at a family owned seafood restaurant last year. Three Greek brothers ran the joint. One worked the bar, one the kitchen, and the other just sat at “The Family Table” and ate all night.

When I applied, one brother warned me, ‘We’re Greek, this is family owned, things can get crazy, people can be rude. Can you handle that?’

I handled it very well. In my year there I saw many employees come and go, some as short as a mere three days. The constant grumpiness from the brother who worked the line was aggravated at the least. I once saw another employee throw two baked potatoes at his feet while in a shouting match with him.

The brother behind the bar could be very sweet and nice. I’m sure it helped that I was woman. But when he was in a bad mood, there was no negotiating.

There were no rules, like in a corporate business. The schedule sometimes would only be done day by day. The servers were constantly running out of ketchup, salad dressing, crackers, cheese, toppings, silverware. I mean, what kind of restaurant runs out of silverware? And napkins!? One time I had to bring my table, which had two platters of 1lb snow crab legs, an oyster shucker and fork because we had no more crab crackers available.

With all these flaws however, I got to see a lot of dishes being prepared and learned some new kitchen terms.

Unfortunately, the Greek drama caught up to me and I quit. But I am thankful for my experience. As hectic and frustrating as it could be, it’s a restaurant. After three years of working in the restaurant business, I understand that’s how kitchens are and I have come to love each kitchen I worked at. All are cluttered, loud, smell delicious. But each has its own culture and lifestyle.

So in honor of this little Greek restaurant, I will share a simple Greek dressing recipe that we used to prepare for guest and that I just used on my salad.

Greek Dressing like the Greeks do it:

(There are no measurements)

1) Fill up half the container with extra virgin olive oil

2) Fill the other half with a red wine vinegar

3) A dash of oregano

4) A dash of salt

4) A dash of pepper

Shake well and enjoy.

Photo Credit: recipesathome-online.com

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