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[icon] My personal HFCS challenge - Patti
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Subject:My personal HFCS challenge
Time:01:16 am
It's been obvious to me for a while that the American diet is totally fucked up. We eat way too much processed food, and too big a chunk of that comes from corn, especially high-fructose corn syrup. Michael Pollan described this very well in his bestseller The Omnivore's Dilemma, but it really shouldn't be news to any of us.

While running errands this afternoon, I heard Pollan promoting his new book, In Defense of Food, and got inspired to try something. I've been thinking about this for a while, but one of my errands for the day was to go to the grocery store, so I thought this would be the day.

A while ago, I contemplated avoiding HFCS for a week. I eat a lot of my meals out, especially at or around the office, so this would be a herculean task-- I would basically have to prepare all of my own food for a week. I wasn't up to that challenge, so I opted for something simpler. My goal would be to consume no HFCS at home for one week. That shouldn't be too hard, right?

I have a love/hate relationship with processed and prepared food. One one hand, I really hate stuff like crappy frozen pizzas, TV dinners, canned crap, and a lot of the stuff that we consume on a daily basis. I don't eat a lot of chips and twinkies and similar junk food, and I rarely drink soda. On the flip side, I like things like breakfast cereal, and I'm a real lazy bum when it comes to cooking dinner-- I've found a few frozen things at 99 Ranch Market that I don't completely despise, and pressing play on the microwave can be about the right amount of effort when I get home from work. My snobbery conflicts with my lazy-bumitude.

Today at the grocery store, I pretty much got all basic ingredients-- salmon fillets, asparagus, potatoes, baby spinach, bread, milk, buttermilk, eggs, bacon, onions, bananas. I see salmon, buttermilk mashed potatoes, asparagus, spinach salad (with homemade hot bacon dressing), grilled cheese sandwiches, and a few other things for dinner. For breakfast I have bananas, eggs, oatmeal, among other things. Those items combined with the things I already have at home should get me through a HFCS-free week. Making my own salad dressing (basically bacon, onions, cider vinegar, a little bit of sugar) will even save me from the bottled crap.

I felt pretty good about what I'd bought, but I'd already fucked up. Do you see where? I bought a loaf of bread, in this case Oroweat Country Buttermilk. Sometime after I got home I smacked myself in the forehead then grabbed the bread and read the label. Sure enough, high-fructose corn syrup was on there, just before buttermilk. Oh well. I'm too lazy to bake my own bread this week, and I already have this loaf, so I'll grant myself one exception.

Tonight's dinner was easy and tasty-- ginger lime salmon fillet, steamed asparagus with balsamic vinegar, buttermilk mashed potatoes. The potatoes required a small amount of actual work, but the salmon and asparagus basically just got tossed into the microwave. Maybe I'm not too lazy to cook after all.

In a week or so I'll report on how well I did.
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janinedog
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-07 02:38 pm (UTC)
Bread was one of the hardest things for me to find a non-HFCS version of (even the "organic" whole wheat kind I found had HFCS in it). I did finally find a good brand that I like and that has good ingredients. It's called "Whole Grain Natural Bread Co." and it only has very basic ingredients in it--stuff that you could see putting in homemade bread. I found it at Safeway but it may be in other stores too. I get the whole wheat kind, though there's a couple of different ones.

Anyway, good luck with this! It's hard, but can be done. :)
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andrewhime
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-07 05:20 pm (UTC)
*sigh* I wish I could like salmon, but so far every way I've tried it, I just don't... so I could ask you for a recipe.
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freelikebeer
Subject:Wild
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-07 05:27 pm (UTC)
Try the wild caught. It'll cost you twice as much, but it is well worth it.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-07 06:49 pm (UTC)
What's a recipe? All I did was drizzle some lime juice on it, add a little bit of grated ginger and some pepper, and toss it in the microwave.
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andrewhime
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-07 07:18 pm (UTC)
I have to have recipes. It's just how I'm wired, I guess.
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thorfinn
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-08 02:02 pm (UTC)
... you don't need much of a recipe for fresh salmon!

Take salmon, apply a bit of pepper and maybe some salt.
Put a very small amount of oil in a frypan.
Put salmon in frypan, skin side down if it's cut that way, wait for it to be cooked nearly halfway through.
Flip over, cook until nearly halfway through.
Take out, put it on a plate, rest for a few minutes covered (with foil or another plate).

Squeeze on a fresh lime or lemon if you want to. That's it. :-) Anything else really is overkill.

If you're talking about salmon in a tin, that's a different story... I can give you a couple of recipe for salmon pasta. :-)
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(Deleted comment)

whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-08 01:52 am (UTC)
Intuitively, it would seem that restaurants that cook their food from scratch would mostly not be using HFCS. I can't back that up with fact, though. It's almost certain that you'll get less of it at Mama's than at McLunch. I'm pretty sure the burrito place near my office won't have much HFCS in the food, though I suppose a bit of it could show up if they use package tortillas.

I'm pleased to discover that my favorite bottled iced tea, Honest Tea, uses cane sugar.

This is interesting:

http://www.foodfacts.info/high-fructose-corn-syrup.shtml
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greeklady
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-08 07:05 pm (UTC)
There are now cane sugar soda's on the market. My work actually stocks organic soda from Santa Cruz. That was a shocker. But if you want to go healthy bread, good luck. Even at TJ's it is hard to find bread without HFCS. I have resorted to making my own and buying the chapti flour from the indian grocers since it is a finer whole wheat flour than what we get at the store.

That being said, I love the junk food, I rarely eat it or drink soda as well and it is still hard to eat healthy.

(btw found you from ruth_lawrence journal. Think Im going to add you too. ;o)
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catness
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-07 09:53 pm (UTC)
I don't really know how to cook, but I've been making lots of soups so I can avoid what I call the "processed plastics" at the grocery. Basically I get chicken broth, vegetables, meats, and spices... and then I experiment. It's a day of effort (mostly chopping stuff up) that can feed me all week, if I get bread and things like yogurt, too. Sometimes a crockpot is the best way to go. Set it up in the morning on low and have awesome ready in the evening.
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thorfinn
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-08 02:08 pm (UTC)
If you have freezer space and a big pot, make your own chicken stock once every couple of months! :-)

Chicken carcasses should be extremely cheap at a local butcher/chicken shop, and you just toss them in a pot and boil for a few hours, then pour the results through a fine sieve into containers to freeze. If you want to get fancy, save vegetable (especially onion, garlic and carrot) offcuts for a little while, provided they're reasonably clean, and toss them in too. :-) That bit's optional though, and you could use fresh vegetables instead of offcuts if you wanted to.

Crockpots are definitely awesome though, especially in winter. :-)
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slfisher
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-08 01:49 am (UTC)
yay you!

I never had any trouble finding non HFCS bread in places like Rainbow.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-08 01:53 am (UTC)
I just forgot to look at the ingredients.
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bldrnrpdx
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-08 01:50 am (UTC)
I love my crockpot and my bread machine for easy cooking on weekends which helps me stay out of frozen-prepared-meal hell for lunches at work and some meals at home. I'm a little better about making decent food for dinner night by night. Cooking a couple of chicken breasts on Sunday to use throughout the week has been helpful too.
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thorfinn
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-08 02:12 pm (UTC)
*nodnod* I second the "cook some kind of meat on the Sunday" thing. It definitely makes putting a meal together on a weeknight a lot easier if the meat part is already done and just needs some warming up.

An awful lot of vegetables can be just turned into a raw salad, and rice in a rice cooker or microwave rice cooker is very very easy to do too. :-)
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thorfinn
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-08 01:51 pm (UTC)
Yes, the USAnian diet is extremely fucked up, and partly due to HFCS being essentially free, due to the corn farmer subsidies.

However, it's not just that - I note that anthologie has been talking about diet and suchlike as well, and I noticed a startling thing...

The vast vast majority of my local Melbourne social circle, and AFAICT, most AUnians, cook at home, at least a couple of times a week if not most nights, and when I say cook, I mean "make food from scratch primarily from basic raw ingredients", not "put frozen pre-made thing in the oven/microwave". And not just the ladies - most guys can and do do something in the way of basic cookery. A very high proportion of my social circle in particular often cooks for reasonable sized groups, and is used to varying recipes for a variety of food intolerances and allergies, religious, ethical and physical. :-)

The vast vast majority of her social circle, and I'm guessing yours, and I'm beginning to suspect a lot of USAnians in general, don't seem to cook at all, which weirds me out a little.

Also - cooking for leftovers is definitely the go. If you cook at least twice during the week, you can generally do so in a way that leaves you leftovers for lunch and/or dinner, and if you do it two days in a row, that means you can alternate leftovers, so you don't get stuck eating the same meal every day. :-) Not all meals are suitable for leftovers - primarily I'd avoid anything with seafood, it doesn't keep well, usually. Certain leftovers are ace for freezing - in particular, good bolognese pasta sauce made from scratch is awesome.

As far as restaurants not using HFCS - don't bet on it. An awful lot of restaurants here use sugar in one form or another in their food (and I never eat at them again), and I'm certain that I've eaten at places in the US which have definitely added HCFS into their food.

Edited at 2008-01-08 01:56 pm (UTC)
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phoenix14159
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-01-09 09:54 pm (UTC)
ankareeda_rm can't have HFCS at all (or MSG for that matter), so I'm pretty familiar with all the evil places it lurks.

I would suggest looking for prepared foods at a health food store. There are some very good options, and they tend to be free of the crap. For mainstream microwaveable stuff, Stouffer's uses no preservatives or HFCS.
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[icon] My personal HFCS challenge - Patti
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