April 29, 2010

Read Your Labels!

I've recently discovered an excellent, excellent resource that does a great job of helping to untangle the confusing web of which foods are o.k. to eat, and which are hiding awful secrets. Cook This Not That is the latest book from these authors, who also wrote Eat This Not That, which focused on what to order when you eat out. This newest book focuses on how to cook your favorite things at home, and points out how much money you save, how much sodium and saturated fat you can avoid, and how many fewer calories you will consume if you cook these things yourself, rather than buying convenience foods at the store or eating out.

It is full of charts and pictures of specific brand name products. There is everything from what to keep in your pantry, to how to equip your kitchen with quality products for $331! Another favorite thing for me are the 'matrix' charts in the book, which are picture charts of mix and match ideas for grilling skewers, stir-fry, etc. These charts promise to be a real boost of inspiration when you're tired of the same old combinations all the time. But this is just the beginning of the information in this book, and you should read it if for no other reason than learning why the USDA has managed to make the label "NO trans fat", somewhat meaningless. It's so important to get good information about what is being hidden in our food. Reading labels is one good way. If the label looks like the glossary of a science text - probably means you should leave it on the shelf. But it's also important to start making your meals from real food, raw ingredients, and non-mystery components.

This is what I made for dinner tonight from a recipe in this book.
It's grilled salmon with a chive, ginger, and soy sauce flavored butter. It gave me a nice reason to use some of our newly planted chives, and even decorate the plate with a chive flower! It was absolutely delicious and I can't wait to try more of these recipes. The book compares this dish to a similar dish at P.F. Chang's Restaurant.

  • 390 calories
  • 7 g saturated fat
  • 710 mg sodium
  • 734 calories
  • 14 g saturated fat
  • 1306 mg sodium
Now is this convincing or what?! Some of the comparisons are even more shocking, like the artichoke dip recipe in the book that has 520 mg of sodium, which they compare to the spinach and artichoke dip at Chili's that has 3320 mg of sodium. Unbelievable isn't it?!! Now compare these sodium numbers to what the Mayo Clinic states is a healthy range of sodium consumption for an adult per day, which is 1500-2400 mg. It's easy to see why we need to avoid a steady diet of some of these restaurant offerings, and that goes for some of what we buy at the grocery store too. Read the labels.

There's a newish movie/documentary out called Food, INC. , which I've heard about but haven't watched. It apparently uncovers some pretty horrid facts about what's in our food and how it's being produced. I'm half-way afraid to watch it, but I know I will since I'm becoming obsessed about the way our food supply is being ruined and frankly contaminated. Did you know that there is a soy bi-product in countless prepared foods that is not regulated for us, but the amount that can be put into animal feed is limited? O.K. - I'll stop - for now.


  1. ok, I need to read this book and maybe watch the movie. I should start cooking more for the health of my family. this post is such an inspiration, and this dish doesn't even seem difficult to make. I love salmon.

  2. The recipe was very easy and all the others seem that way too. Let me know what you think of the book!

  3. I love the This not That books, eye opening to say the least! I recommend watching Food, Inc. I made my son watch it with me when I was sick and it opened doors for conversations I wouldn't have thought we would have. If you pay attention to what you eat already nothing in the documentary will be that shocking.

    ~Kelli @ Smidgens

  4. Thanks for the recommendation - I think this will be on my weekend to-do list!