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Five Sneaky Food Fixes

April 5, 2012 •  one comment.

 •  Blog, News

Healthy Substitutions to Satisfy Cravings
Written by Nina Kate on Thu, 04/05/2012 as originally seen on 15% Challenge

Yes, you can eat white bread without busting your diet. You can also sip sweet beverages and enjoy other once-sinful goodies without abandon, as long as you make smart choices. These savvy food substitutes bolster weight loss while promoting lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and will satisfy cravings that can sabotage even the best-laid meal plans.

1. The other white bread: Sourdough starter contains the probiotic lactobacillus. While most of the healthy bacteria are destroyed during baking, the microorganisms do begin to process sugars and starches in the dough. One study published in the “Journal of Cereal Science” found that both white and wheat sourdough breads caused less of a blood sugar spike than non-sourdoughs. Even the white sourdough triggered a lower glycemic response than regular wheat bread. This means that using sourdough instead of traditional bread can stave of hunger pangs later on, and leave you less susceptible to diabetes and heart disease.

2. Safer soda: If you’re hooked on sugary soft drinks, you may be jeopardizing your weight and your health. And don’t be fooled by diet versions; a recent University of Minnesota study showed that consuming just one calorie-free soft drink a day resulted in a 34-percent-higher risk of metabolic syndrome, symptomized by excess belly fat as well as high cholesterol and blood sugar.

The solution? Flavor plain sparkling water with a spritz of fresh lemon or lime juice, both of which are high in vitamin C. If you need added sweetness, mix in stevia instead of sugar. Stevia is all natural and has a glycemic index of zero, meaning it’s carb-free.

3. Have your cake and eat it too: Zero-calorie sparkling water is for more than just drinking: it can slash fat and calories from your home-baked dessert. Use club soda instead of the milk, eggs, oil and other ingredients on the instructions of your (preferably organic) boxed cake mix. Use one 12-ounce can of seltzer or club soda for each package of mix, any flavor. Diet expert and author Lisa Lillien, better known as “The Hungry Girl,” swears that your taste buds won’t notice the difference while you knock up to 100 calories off of every mouth-watering slice of chocolate cake.

4. Creamy sandwich spread: Forgo the fatty mayo, and smooth some freshly-sliced avocado onto your breads for a healthier lunchtime delight. Mayonnaise is loaded with cholesterol, while avocados have none. Avocados are also rich in fiber and healthy unsaturated fats, to help you feel fuller longer. The velvety green fruits also contain plenty of vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin K to help your skin glow.

Lightly press avocado slices into the top or bottom slice of bread to keep them from sliding out while you munch.

5. Fake your bacon: If, like many Americans, you have a love affair with bacon, you may not like to think about the fact that each greasy slice is more than 50 percent fat, with almost no nutrients. Seitan, on the other hand, is low fat, has no cholesterol, and is a better source of iron than bacon. Seitan is a meatless protein made from whole wheat, and it can be found in the tofu section of health food stores. It comes in many flavors, including bacon. You can also use plain seitan, and rub it with a light marinade of canola oil, liquid smoke and a touch of maple syrup before cooking to emulate bacon flavor.

FDA Update: One Million Comments “Lumped Together”, Not “Deleted”

April 3, 2012 •  one comment.

 •  Blog

You may have seen a Yahoo Voices article that claims the FDA “deleted” the more than 1 million comments we submitted to the FDA last week. We have learned that the story is misleading.

Here are the facts:

  • The FDA has an outdated and non-transparent system that requires organizations like Just Label It to submit multiple signatures as an attachment.
  • Each upload is counted as one “comment,” even though it may in fact contain hundreds of thousands of individual comments.
  • Lumping signatures together in one comment and uploading to regulations.gov is the way groups have submitted comments for as long as the government has accepted electronic comments (something that the Just Label It team was aware of before collecting comments).
  • The FDA has not “deleted” the 1 million+ comments as stated in the Yahoo story.
  • More information is available from the Chicago Tribune.
  • To view all the individual comments made in these attachments, someone would need to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the FDA.

While the system at the FDA is not very transparent or user-friendly, this record-breaking number of comments speaks to how, together, with informed and inspired commitment, we can call for the labeling of genetically engineered ingredients in our food supply, as they are labeled in over 40 other countries around the world.

Because it is our firm belief that it is important for the FDA to listen to the American people and label genetically engineered foods, and give consumers the right to choose what they are feeding their families, just as the USDA is listening to the American public over their concerns about the ingredients in ground beef and giving schools the right to choose, too.

We are grateful for your help and look forward to the time that the United States joins other developed countries and gives consumers the right to know what is in the foods they are feeling their loved ones.

To contact the FDA directly to share your concern, please email consumer@fda.gov, call 1-888-SAFEFOOD or visit www.justlabelit.org

An Idea Worth Spreading, A Dialogue Worth Having

April 2, 2012 •  no comments.

 •  Blog, News

Written by Robyn O’Brien

As to be expected, there is a scientist in the field of genomics aggressively speaking out against one of my TEDx talks.

It’s not the first time that my work has come under fire, nor will it be the last as the information that I present is disruptive.  To many, it creates a cognitive dissonance – a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas, beliefs or values and can often elicit a strong emotional reaction.

And it did just that over the weekend from a scientist at the University of Florida which houses the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

So when I looked into the work of the person making the accusations, I was not surprised that he had dedicated his life to plant research and genetic engineering.  His commitment is remarkable.  I understand it, because it is that same dedication that I have to my research and work into the financial engineering and the role it can play in the integrity of science.

That dedication, that level of commitment, is something to be honored, not slandered, as it is not without sacrifice.

But his criticism was that of a subject that continues to raise itself as to whether or not genetically engineered crops are safe.

The scientific debate tends to center around whether genetically engineered crops have been “thoroughly tested,” while a debate around the financial engineering of the science continues to grow.

So let’s look at the science, because as the Union for Concerned Scientists states:

“Political interference in federal government science is weakening our nation’s ability to respond to the complex challenges we face. Because policy makers depend on impartial research to make informed decisions, we are mobilizing scientists and citizens alike to push for reforms that will enable our leaders to fully protect our health, safety, and environment.”

In a Science Magazine in 2000, a Spanish researcher named Jose L. Domingo who later went on to write a 2007 paper, “Toxicity Studies of Genetically Modified Plants: A Review of the Published Literature,” found only seven peer reviewed papers on genetically engineered crop safety as of 2000, most of them dealing with short-term nutritional effects.

According to Dr. Charles Benbrook, who worked in Washington, D.C. on agricultural policy, science and regulatory issues from 1979 through 1997, served for 1.5 years as the agricultural staff expert on the Council for Environmental Quality at the end of the Carter Administration, and following the election of Ronald Reagan, moved to Capitol Hill in early 1981 and was the Executive Director of the Subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture with jurisdiction over pesticide regulation, research, trade and foreign agricultural issues, what that means is that at the time that two genetically engineered products were approved for the food supply, there were no studies in the open scientific literature.

Let’s stop and think about that for a minute in the context of something that is more familiar.

Can you imagine if a medical device or a new pharmaceutical drug were introduced with no studies in the open scientific literature for public review?  Or if a car was introduced onto the highway in the same manner?

The concern is shared by the National Academy of Sciences in the paper, Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Consequences, “As with all other technologies for genetic modification, they also carry the potential for introducing unintended compositional changes that may have adverse effects on human health.”

Furthermore, according to Benbook, as of 2007 and Domingo’s more recent and comprehensive review, aToxicity Studies of Genetically Modified Plants: A Review of the Published Literature, there are still no more than about ten studies assessing the toxicological impact of genetically engineered ingredients in our food supply, almost all are limited in scope (there is a review of 24 studies focusing on nutritional equivalency), and short term, with most of them dealing with genetically engineered foods other than corn and soybeans.

Which means that the bottom line is that there are no published, peer reviewed studies on the toxicological impacts of today’s commercial genetically engineered ingredients now found in our food supply, and almost none on older genetically engineered ingredients, that provide evidence that show that these foods are toxicologically safe.

At the conclusion of the abstract for the paper, the author himself poses the question: “where is the scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe?”

To me, that is a question so important that it was unequivocally an “Idea Worth Spreading,” a question worth asking, a dialogue worth having.

Correlation is not causation but with the Centers for Disease Control now reporting that cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of fifteen, that there has been a 265% increase in the rates of hostpiatlizations related to food allergic reaction, it is worth noting that “no evidence of harm” is not the same as “evidence of no harm.”

What we are witnessing, through 55 members of Congress that have called for the labeling of these ingredients, the over one million Americans who have sent comments to the FDA asking for the same, interest in a TEDx talk given by a former financial analyst, author and mother of four, is a movement, perhaps begun by the Spanish researcher with his ask for the scientific evidence showing that genetically engineered foods are toxicologically safe, and a call for the labeling of these foods, as they are labeled in over 40 countries around the world, until we have more science.

It is a call for studies that might alert a pregnant woman working on a farm about the impact that her exposure to these crops and the chemicals used to produce them might have on the health of her unborn babies.

It is a call for science and for the research that tells a mother if her child is allergic to conventional soybeans, the kind that has been in our food supply for generations, or if her child is allergic to the genetically engineered components now found in soybeans that were introduced in the late 1990s.

It is a call for the scientific tests that would enable a father to test his child for those differences at his allergist’s office.

It is a call for science and our right to know about the foods that we are eating and what their impact might be on the health of our families.

Is correlation causation?  Not at all, but with millions of Americans beginning to wake up to the fact that we have additives in our food supply, from lean beef trimmings, to artificial growth hormones to genetically engineered ingredients, additives that were not in our foods a generation ago, we are asking for more science, integrity in science, full disclosure of the financial engineering behind the science, and for labels and the right to make an informed choice about what we are feeding our families.

We have learned what can happen otherwise, from the tobacco industry to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, so I hope that the TED team will continue the conversation with consumers, genetic engineers as well as financial ones, economists and the medical community in a forum in which attendees can express their opinions and one that requires full disclosure of any institutional ties, research grants or patents of those involved to preserve the dialogue and the scientific integrity of the discussion.

Because as Carl Sagan once said, “We have designed our civilization based on science and technology and at the same time arranged things so that almost no one understands anything at all about science and technology.”

An idea worth spreading?  A dialogue worth having? Absolutely.

Additional Resources:

Scientific Integrity: Union of Concerned Scientists: http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/
Toxicity Studies of Genetically Modified Plants: http://www.biosafety.ru/ftp/domingo.pdf
Faculty Endowments:
Kevin Folta’s Blog: http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2012/03/complete-insanity-in-theater-built-by.html
UF Scientists Collaborate with Monsanto: http://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2011/10/14/uf-scientists-collaborate-with-monsanto-to-develop-improved-computer-model-for-corn-production/
The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster: A Study in Organizational Ethics http://pirate.shu.edu/~mckenndo/pdfs/The%20Space%20Shuttle%20Challenger%20Disaster.pdf
Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Consequences http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309092094

Meet A Food Allergy Angel

April 1, 2012 •  one comment.

 •  Blog, News

“You can always tell a pioneer by the number of arrows she has in her back,”  a friend once said.  And on the landscape of childhood, this rings true, especially for those in the food allergy world.

One of the true pioneers for children with food allergies is Nicole Smith, the founder of Allergic Child.  Her work is absolutely extraordinary, and her strength and encouragement have been life lines to so many of us in this space, including countless families dealing with this condition.

So it is a profound honor and with so much gratitude that we are highlighting Nicole’s work, in this story written by Angie Nordstrum, founder of Boulder AllergyKids.

Iron Jawed Angel

When I was thrust into the food allergy world six years ago, one of the first food allergy advocates I found was Nicole Smith and her website, AllergicChild.com As the mom of a newly diagnosed son with dozens of severe food allergies, I was desperate for resources and information. As I poured over the web for how to navigate in this foreign food allergy world, AllergicChild.com provided me mom directed resources and information of how to survive in this new normal.

Nicole is one of those “iron jawed angels.” She has a lovely sweet twang when she talks but when she speaks about food allergies she has a forceful presence. She has blazed the trail for food allergy families in Colorado and across the nation.

Books and School Advocacy

After learning of her own son Morgan’s life threatening food allergies, Nicole wrote Allie the Allergic Elephant: A Children’s Story of Peanut Allergies, Cody the Allergic Cow: A Children’s Story of Milk Allergies and Chad the Allergic Chipmunk: A Children’s Story of Nut Allergies. I read all of these books to my own son and Boulder Allergy Kids currently reads them to children’s classes to create better understanding and compassion for food allergic friends.

Nicole has helped school districts across the United States manage food allergies and create safe environments for food allergic children. She was a founding member of her school district’s Food Allergy Task Force, which continues its mission today to assist students and families managing life threatening food allergies in Academy District 20.

In Colorado, Nicole was the driving force to get Senate Bill 09-226 introduced and passed into law requiring all school districts to have a policy to keep food allergic children safe at school. Two years of meeting with senators, representatives and board members of the department of education culminated in the bill being signed into law by Governor Bill Ritter during Food Allergy Awareness Week in 2009.

When Boulder Allergy Kids saw the need to bring more food allergy awareness to our local school district, Nicole offered us support in how to create a Food Allergy Task Force, how to present before the school board and how to draft school district guidelines. Her guidance and support were invaluable and made this process go very smoothly for our district.

Current Food Allergy Work

Nicole is currently working to spread support for the passage of S 1884, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act,. This bill would allow schools across the nation to have “stock”EpiPens on hand for use by trained staff to use in case of an allergic reaction at school. Nicole has led the way in enlisting Colorado support group leaders to request members write their senators for passage of this critically important bill

Nicole currently serves on the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) Advocacy Steering Committee to help build a strong nationwide presence for the food allergy community in the public policy arena, and to actively seek to increase federal funding for food allergy research. Additionally, she participates in the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) Support Group Advisory Council.

Coming from childhood spent on several military bases, Nicole has a strong connection to the challenges of military life.  As a member of the FAI (Food Allergy Initiative) Advocacy Steering Committee she has been working to obtain food allergy research funding. Recently she has been gathering letters from members in the military and their families to send to Chairman Bill Young of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Many of us in the civilian population may not be aware of the issues that members of the military and their families have with food allergies. They get a school district trained on EpiPens and food allergy awareness, and then they are reassigned and get to start all over again!

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network’s Summit Conference 2012

Nicole will be speaking in Chicago, IL and in Anaheim, CA at the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network’s Conference with three other FAAN Executives on the topic of “Advocating for your Child with Food Allergies in Schools.”

I’m looking forward to seeing Nicole present later this week in Chicago at the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network’s Conference. As a food allergy mom and representative of Boulder Allergy Kids, I am so eternally grateful to Nicole for the work she has done for our food allergic kids. She is a true iconoclast in the food allergy community, a mom who has truly made numerous life changing impacts for so many families.

NIcole’s Additional Accomplishments

• Served as Treasurer for the non-profit organization, Kids With Food Allergies, Inc.

• Graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D. C. and went on to work in the field of finance for several years.

• Nicole and her husband, Bob, own Allergic Child Publishing Group, the publishing company for Allie, Cody and Chad.


Nicole can be reached as follows: