Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quinny's Sri Lankan Kale with Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes

Amazing response to the last post on the hyper flavoring of processed food. I love it when we get all riled up! I've got another zinger ready to post, but before I did that I wanted to tell you about our dinner this evening.

It all stared with Susan Voisin of Fat Free Vegan's release of her Sri Lankan Kale recipe. My friend and Plant-strong buddy Quinn and I made it and liked it. A lot. But a few short weeks later, Quinn came prancing into my house talking about how she made some key additions to Susan's recipe and really hit it out of the ballpark.

And this is coming from a woman who, 5 years ago when I first met her, considered a bowl of cold cereal dinner and never cooked. Ever. At least that's the story she told.

Based on how she reworked this recipe, I think she was lying.

Holy mother of all good things. This is a keeper.

I decided to double the recipe, 'cause that's how I roll. My husband, daughter and I finished off the entire huge pot in one dinner.

Guess I'll have to make this again next week.

Quinny's Sri Lankan Kale with Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes
serves 2

Printable Recipe

1 med (red or white or yellow) onion, chopped
1-2 hot chili peppers, seeded and chopped OR hot chili flakes to taste
12 oz kale (or other greens), stems removed and thinly sliced
2 med-lg sweet potatoes, cut into approximately 1"cubes
1/4 tsp ground cumin
generous grating black pepper
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used the partially defatted version)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lime
salt to taste

In low sodium vegetable broth or water, saute onions and chili peppers/chili pepper flakes until soft. Add cumin and stir.
Add sweet potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, on med high heat until the potatoes begin to soften some, but not turn to mush, approximately 10 minutes.
Add kale and splash of broth, along with black pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is wilted but bright green, approx 5 minutes.
Add coconut, black beans, lime juice and about 1/4 cup of vegetable broth if mix is dry. Heat through. Add salt to taste. Serve immediately and wish you had made more.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Did You Catch 60 Minutes on Sunday Night? The Flavorists and Your Taste Buds

I'm a lucky blogger. I'm not alone in scouring the world for the newest, the most outrageous, the best and even the worst when it comes to healthy eating. I've got friends and relatives constantly keeping their eyes and ears open for us.

Chris-anna, my business partner and tireless talker of all things health food related, alerted me to a fascinating television segment about natural and artificial flavors in food that aired this past Sunday. And thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can see the segment right here too!

What did Chris have to say about it?

"Last night on 60 Minutes there was a segment on the food industry, specifically how natural and artificial flavors are created. It was CRAZY. I had to e-mail Wendy about it as soon as it was over. It was disturbing and gross.

'Super food tasters' are people that are working to manufacture 'flavors' that are ADDICTIVE. This is their goal. Literally. Literally. It's just so shocking, I have to shake my head and repeat myself.

They want you to eat more and therefore purchase more of all processed food. And these 'natural' and 'artificial' flavors are in each and every processed food sold on every grocery store's shelves. The manufacturer is even very specific about wanting the flavor to dissipate quickly so that you want to put more in your mouth.

The real problem I see is that this industry is manipulating food-like materials and ruining our ability to 'taste' natural food. They know the gold stars are fat, salt and sugar and they over-load these flavors into processed foods.

How can natural food compete with these super-flavored food-like substances?

It gets even more complicated. This wasn't mentioned on this 60 minutes but I'm concerned that the human brain doesn't know what to do with, for example, zero-calorie, super sweet beverages. Maybe this is why people who drink a ton of diet soda continue to gain weight. Our brain thinks we are taking in a sweet drink because it tastes so sweet . . . but then there are no calories. But our body was expecting the calories to come with the taste. So is it possible that our appetites are increased to find those calories? This is potentially a really rough cycle.

Just say NO.

No to frankenfood.

We can re-establish our taste sensitivity to real food. It takes time, but it is so worth it- for now, for the future, for our children, for our planet."

What disturbed me the most? The fact that now that everyone is jumping on the "health food" bandwagon, the flavor manufacturers are trying to make salty tasting food and sweet tasting food that doesn't contain as much salt or sugar as the processed food that everyone is used to eating. Not that this is anything new, really. Sugar substitutes have been around a long, long time and they're not doing anyone any favors.

How about getting us unaddicted to over salted and overly sweet food!!!!???? You know, the way real, natural food tastes? What about that????

I'm pissed.

What about you?

Processed food grosses me out now more than ever.

I can tell you from real life experience that you can stop this terrible cycle. You can "change your taste buds." The old food that you used to eat will taste either ridiculously salty or disgustingly sweet. You won't even believe that you used to eat that stuff.

Have you had a similar experience?

Trim & Regimen Experiment

I'm trimming 3/4" of an inch.  My method is to put my hair in jumbo twists and trim the ends of the twists.  (I recommend doing smaller twists for a more accurate trim.)  This is my first trim in months.

Normally, I twist my hair for 3-4 weeks at a time during the cooler months.  This time, I'll maintain my summer regimen and twist biweekly.  My hair is getting harder to detangle (as it grows), so doing so 1x every 2 weeks instead of 4 weeks will make life easier.  It'll also be easier on my hair.

Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins of Heaven

I hope you all had the most wonderful of Thanksgiving weekends! I want to hear all about them. And thanks to those of you that commented on my short Thanksgiving gratitude post. I really appreciate what you said and want you to know that I am eternally grateful for you too. Thank you for making this blog worth keeping.

Our Thanksgiving holiday was lovely.


Like all holidays are.

I forgot the memory card from my camera at work, so I wasn't able to capture any of the food moments on "film." But that was probably for the best, right? I mean, who wants a food photographer yelling "wait" while everyone is excitedly awaiting digging in?

Also, I was secretly wishing that I had a family entirely composed of no-oil Vegans. One can have dreams, right? Photographs with turkey in the background wouldn't have been my favorite.

I made entirely too much Plant-strong food, and I took copious notes for next year. We'll be eating leftovers for a full week, which is fine by me. Susan Voisin's Green Bean Casserole from Fat Free Vegan was a highlight for everyone involved. Only the teeniest bit of that casserole was left over. It didn't end up looking anything like Susan's pictures, but man was it good. I have to consider making a double batch next time.

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, 'tis the season for leftover cans of pumpkin puree (hooray!). Plus, I have been promising my middle daughter that we would bake muffins for weeks now. Finally the day came when we had nothing pressing to do. The pressure was on.

Our results were outstanding. Award winning. So moist and so delicious, this recipe is going to be my go-to recipe from here forward for kids' birthday parties, new neighbors and get well wishes.

HGK's Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
makes 12 muffins
adapted from recipes by Lindsay S. Nixon from The Happy Herbivore

dry ingredients:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup organic sucanat
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
wet ingredients:
2 medium frozen bananas, placed into a bowl and defrosted in a microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes
OR 2 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or non-dairy milk of your choice
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup grain sweetened vegan chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Into a big bowl, place all of the dry ingredients. Stir gently to incorporate.

Into a medium bowl, place all wet ingredients. Stir well to incorporate. Use an immersion blender or whisk to blend wet ingredients if you have large banana pieces in your wet ingredients.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir together well, but do not over mix. Incorporate chocolate chips.

Line muffin tins with cupcake papers or spray muffin tin with nonstick spray. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups about 2/3 full.

Bake in the center of your oven for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin comes out clean. If doubling batch, rotate muffin tins in your oven about halfway through baking cycle to ensure even baking.

Let muffins cool. Do not eat entire batch in one sitting.

What was the highlight of your Thanksgiving weekend?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday Natural Hair Sales!

11/25 thru 11/26
30% off w/ coupon code BLKFRI30

Anita Grant
11/24 7pm to 11/30 7pm
20% off entire store with free global shipping.

Bee Mine
11/25 midnight to 1:00am
30% off w/ coupon code 1HR30

For more sales (Carol's Daughter, Darcy's Botanicals, Butters-n-Bars, etc.), check out this blog.

Thanksgiving-What I am Grateful for Today

For the (probably) few people who are on your computers today, I want to wish you all a beautiful and meaningful Thanksgiving!

Given this is a blog about food and all, you can imagine that Thanksgiving has a very special place in my heart. It's a big day for us foodies!

So I want to express how grateful I am that I live in a time when food is abundant and that I am fortunate enough to access healthy food. Now that comes with a whole host of other issues, as we all know. But the alternative would be worse.

I will never forget the stories of my grandmother. She was born in Russia and lived in a very poor village. As a child she got a job chewing food for babies. She was hoping that some of the nutrition from the food that touched her tongue would help her live.

So today I am thankful that my family is free to make our home in a place where food is abundant, even with all of the problems and issues that it brings.

And always remember, a holiday is more about the friends and the family, not the food, anyway. For more about cultivating an attitude of gratitude see this Thanksgiving gratitude post from The Healthy Librarian. You'll be so glad you did.

What are you grateful for today?

With lots of love and good wishes,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beck Planning and Fuhrman Challenging

Did you know that Dr. Fuhrman is running a six-week holiday challenge? Well, he is. Here are the challenge rules:

For the next 6 weeks, promise to�

� Eat at least one large salad every day
� Eat generous amounts of cooked green vegetables, mushrooms, and onions
� Eat beans every day
� Eat at least three fresh fruits every day
� Avoid white flour
� Avoid sugars and artificial sweeteners
� Use oils sparingly
As a benefit of accepting the challenge, you get a FREE six-week Gold Membership to the Dr. Fuhrman website (you can also upgrade a lower level membership for free). Loads of recipes and nutritional and health information free and at your fingertips. Interested in finding out more or signing up? I did! Click here 

Which brings me to my next point. Planning.

I haven't talked Beck in quite a while now. For those of you who have read this far and are saying to yourselves, "What the heck is she talking about?" Beck is shorthand for The Beck Diet Solution. You can check it out on Amazon here:

The Beck book, along with a plant-based, no-added-oil diet, pretty much saved my life. One without the other would have been a wash. Which is why Beck reappears on this blog from time to time, in varying degrees. For a while I was hot to trot, talking about Beck every few days. Some of you thought that was too much, and it kinda took the wind out of my sails. But, inevitably, I must talk about Beck again, because, like I said, one without the other doesn't work for me. And some of my dear readers actually ask me to write about it!

So, once again:
Plant-based, no-added-oil diet = for my body
Beck = for my brain

Day 14 of The Beck Diet Solution asks us to write a food plan that includes everything you are going to eat, either in the morning for that day, or in the evening for the next day.

Feeling resistant? That's totally normal.

So let's talk about why planning what we eat is so important for people who suffer from compulsive overeating. For me, it simply comes down to one thing and one thing only. I do too much spontaneous eating. My three meals might be gloriously Nutritarian even by Dr. Fuhrman's exacting standards, but what's not so pretty is the snacking that I do in between meals and even after dinner. And it's that snacking, even on healthy, no-oil, Vegan food that gets me into trouble.

So you can plan what you are going to eat for an entire day. But the key to this having any affect at all is to say to yourself every time you are tempted to go off the plan, "That food is not on my plan so I am not even going to consider eating it." Then walk away.

That builds a resistance muscle.

There are many systems for planning. You could write everything on paper in a notebook. You could use your computer and do it on http://www.peertrainer.com/ or http://www.sparkpeople.com/ or use one of the many smartphone applications for logging your food.

My experience was that this method was extremely powerful for me the first time I tried it. I have tried it since with less positive results, but it was still worthwhile. Because I have committed to the Dr. Fuhrman Six-week Challenge, I thought to myself,  "The only way I am ever going to be able to stick to that plan is if I plan and log my food for the day in the morning and then stick to that plan," it seemed like the perfect time to get back into Beck and to go for it!

Wish me luck!

Have you ever tried Beck's planning method? Did you have success? What worked and what didn't? How long did you do it for? Please tell us about it!

If you have never tried it, does it seem like something that you would want to do now that you are aware of it?

Monday, November 21, 2011

FAST! Moroccan Kale with Mushrooms and Apricots and Gratitude

I didn't want to get out of bed this morning.

It's Monday. My bed is cozy and warm. It's dark outside. I just wanted to go back to sleep and avoid the world and my responsibilities. The lunches to pack (again), the kids to wrangle, the bills to pay.

I needed a boost. So I started to think about a technique I had heard of: upon waking up think of things that you are grateful for.

My kids are healthy. My cat got down from high up in a tree after being chased by a neighbor's dog that got loose.

Getting out of bed got a little easier today.

And now the food.

Don't let the poor quality of this photo fool you! I was home this weekend cooking and I had forgotten my good camera at work. But there was no way I wasn't sharing this recipe with you a.s.a.p. so I used my iphone to capture the moment.

This is great, healthy, FAST, food. So fast that I would even recommend it for a busy weeknight Nutritarian dinner. So delicious that I can recommend you serve it to the most discerning adult Plant-strong dinner guest. And maybe the not-so-plant-strong ones too.

Now that's a recipe to hold on to.

HGK's Moroccan Kale with Mushrooms and Apricots
serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a side dish

Printable Recipe

vegetable broth
1 large onion, diced small
4 small cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (1/2 or even 1 tsp if you like it it hotter)
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
11 ounce box of prewashed baby kale (available at Whole Foods) or the equivalent of washed and cut greens of any variety (either pre-done or self-prepared)
1 can diced tomatoes, fire-roasted is optional
1/2 cup dried apricots, julienned

Heat a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat and coat the base of the pot with vegetable broth. When broth is boiling, add onions and stir. Saute onion for 12 minutes, stirring infrequently, adding more broth or adjusting heat to prevent burning.

Add garlic, stir and cook for 3 minutes. Add cinnamon, coriander, cumin and crushed red pepper and stir, scraping bottom of pan. Spices will be toasting as the pan is quite dry.

Lower heat a touch. Add mushrooms and stir well. Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth, stir and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice during that time.

Add kale, tomatoes and apricots. Stir well and cover. Raise heat a bit. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes, depending on the type of greens that you used. Dish is ready when greens are wilted.

Serve with whole grain of your choice.

What are you grateful for?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Curry in a Hurry?

Have you ever attempted to make one of Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals?

Did it take you 30 minutes?

Not me. It never took me less than an hour.

That's why I have a bit of a pet peeve developing for cookbook authors and recipes that deceive readers in that way. I don't know if they do it intentionally or not, but it seems like it would sure sell cookbooks if you advertised this 30 minute concept.

But I'm calling bull&#!+ on it right now. The following recipe was based on a recipe that was supposed to take less than 30 minutes to cook. Sure, I adapted the recipe to my taste, adding potatoes, and that upped the cooking time 10 minutes. But under no circumstances would the original recipe have been cooked in 30. Sorry.

That said, it's still worth making. Both my 12 (yes 12! had a birthday this week) year old daughter and husband loved it and I'm guinea pigging my business partner today at lunch. I'll let you know what she thinks.

Easy, But Not Quick, Cauliflower Coconut Curry
serves 8

2 cups vegetable broth, plus more for sauteing
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup curry powder (sweet or hot, to taste)
4 cups medium diced boiling potatoes
2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, fire roasted if possible
1 cauliflower head, cut into small florets (approx. 8 cups of florets)
2 cups frozen peas
2 15 ounce cans garbanzo beans, washed and drained
3 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk
1 Tbsp coconut extract

Coat the bottom of a dutch oven with vegetable broth and bring broth to a boil over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and saute, stirring frequently, until onions just begin to turn translucent. Add curry powder, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add potatoes and 2 cups vegetable broth, stir and cover pot. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes and cauliflower, stir, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Add almond milk, coconut extract, peas and garbanzo beans. Stir and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

What's your experience with recipes that are promoted as taking 30 minutes or less. Is this real? Is it possible?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

HHB Does Not Promote Misinformation

A comment was left by one of my readers stating that Afro-textured hair is drier because the scalp produces less sebum than those with naturally straighter hair.  This is not true.  In actuality, African Americans produce more sebum in the scalp than Caucasians and Asians.  HHB does not promote misinformation.  I do my best to blog the facts when blogging facts.  The myth that the scalp of African Americans is naturally dry has been busted by scientific research.



Vegan Sweet-n-Sour Superfood Stuffed Cabbage

Lately I've been obsessing about an old country favorite of mine-Stuffed Cabbage. If you've never had it before, it's quite a treat. Originally made with ground beef and white rice as the filling, I think you'll find that my no-oil, no-added-salt, Vegan superfood version doesn't leave anything to be desired.

Some people might consider the preparation of Stuffed Cabbage to be an ordeal. But if you grew up eating it (thanks Mom!) and absolutely miss it now that you are Plant-strong, you might just consider this recipe worth every minute of your time. I know I do.

Like a woman, stuffed cabbage gets even better with age. I served it to a group of friends for dinner on the night that I made it. It was very good. When I ate some leftovers three days later, it was markedly more delicious. I think I actually had a foodgasm.

HGK's Vegan Superfood Stuffed Cabbage

Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups diced onion
2 cups diced zucchini (1 small zucchini)
5 cups diced mushrooms (16 ounce package, diced)
2 cups cooked whole grain like quinoa, bulgur or brown rice
2/3 cup currants
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1 large head green cabbage
1 recipe Sweet-n-Sour Tomato Sauce
1 apple, peeled and sliced thinly

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare your whole grain if it is not yet cooked.

Prepare a batch of the Sweet-n-sour Tomato Sauce.

Boil a large soup pot full of water. Turn off until you are ready to prepare cabbage leaves.

Place a large saute pan over medium heat. Pour some vegetable broth into the pan to just cover the bottom. Once the broth is bubbling, add the diced onion and stir. Cook until the onion is translucent, stirring frequently. Add a touch more vegetable broth as needed to prevent burning.

Add the diced zucchini and stir. Let cook for three minutes. Add diced mushrooms and stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini and mushrooms are soft and liquid released from mushrooms evaporates.

Turn off heat. Add cooked grain, currants, walnuts, spices and 1/2 cup of the Sweet-n-sour Tomato Sauce. Stir gently to combine.

Cover the bottom of a 9x13" casserole dish with some of the Sweet-n-sour Tomato Sauce.

Bring the pot of water back to a boil. Carefully cut all the way around the core of the cabbage, as deep as you can go (about 3 inches deep). Carefully place entire head of cabbage into water. Let cabbage boil until the outermost layer is soft and is beginning to come away from the head. You may need to nudge it a little with a pair of tongs. When leaf comes away from the head, use the tongs to lift the leaf out of the water, letting the excess water drain back into the pot.

Keep the rest of the cabbage simmering as you roll each individual cabbage roll.

Lay leaf inside out in the middle of a dinner plate. Holding a paring knife (or other small knife) horizontally, carefully cut away the hard part of the stem. Place a heaping 1/3 cup of the filling onto the lower middle of the leaf. Fold the left and right sides of the leaf over the filling. Roll the cabbage all the way up from the bottom, pushing the left and right sides in if necessary. Place roll into casserole dish.

Repeat process until casserole dish is full of rolls or all of your filling has been used up.

Place apple slices evenly on top of cabbage rolls. Pour remaining Sweet-n-sour Tomato Sauce over rolls and distribute evenly. Bake, covered, at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn heat to 250 degrees and bake for an additional 2 hours.
The stuffing-mushrooms, zucchini, onions, currants, walnuts and quinoa.

The individual cabbage leaf, turned inside out, before stuffing.

Apple slices over the top add to the magic.

Sweet-n-Sour Tomato Sauce

10 pitted Deglet (small) dates, soaked in water for at least 1 hour (less dates if you are using the larger Medjool variety)
vegetable broth for sauteing
1 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 14.5 ounce (or 1 28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, unseasoned (not Italian style)
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
juice of 1 large lemon
In a medium sauce pan, saute onion over medium heat in a few Tbsp of vegetable broth until translucent. Add garlic, stir and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
While onions are cooking, pour tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor or high powered blender. Remove soaked dates from liquid and add to sauce. Blend until sauce is smooth.
Add diced tomatoes and tomato/date sauce to onions. Stir in lemon juice. Simmer on very low heat for ten minutes.

Here's a nice video demonstrating how to roll stuffed cabbage:

Do you prepare any special food that takes a long time but is oh-so-worth-it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Moisture: An Oldie But Goodie

Here is a repost from July 26, 2009!!  Just in time for the Fall.

What causes these dry ends?

Sebum is the hair and scalp's natural conditioner. In straight hair, this oily substance can generally move down the shaft to the ends fairly easily because of the direct path. The hair's close proximity to the scalp as well as continual brushing and combing also aid in the transport process. As for textured hair? That is another story.

The coilier your hair, the harder it is for sebum to travel down to the ends. Here's my analogy: Imagine oil running along a straight road versus a path full of turns and twists. In the latter case, the oil may slow down or even get caught at each curve. By the time it reaches its destination, only a fraction of the oil will remain. There is also the possibility that it may never reach its destination. This process is basically what curly, coily, and kinky hairs experience. Additionally, factor in a minimal brushing/combing routine and the reality that some natural hair works against gravity (i.e., stands up and out away from the scalp). We ultimately have a case in which sebum just barely reaches the ends of our hair, if at all.

Now the explanation above is just one of many causes of dry ends. Other reasons are listed in this post on moisture and length retention.

How do you stop dry ends (due to inadequate sebum)?
Since sebum may barely, if at all, reach the ends of textured hair, it is necessary to quench and condition those ends. Here are some methods that work for me and may hopefully work for others:

*Discard harsh regular shampoos
Shampoos with SLS and other strong ingredients strip my hair (including my ends) of their natural oils. The shampoo I use on a regular basis contains more gentle substances. Other options to explore are conditioner washing or using homemade natural cleansers instead of a shampoo. Some people also do a treatment with oil at a warm or room temperature prior to washing to minimize sebum loss from their strands. (Click here for hot oil treatments.)

*Lather once when you shampoo
Minimal lathering equals minimal loss of whatever sebum is on my ends.

*No direct shampoo on the ends
I rarely expose my ends to direct shampoo. I just focus on the scalp and let the water and lather run down the rest of my hair.

*Saturate the ends with moisture and conditioner
Pay the most attention to your ends while conditioning and moisturizing.

*Invest in good products
Each individual head of hair is different, but this post may be a place to start in terms of what sealants, moisturizers, and conditioners to try.

*Eat foods containing omega-3 and vitamin A
Few people realize that foods, such as salmon, cantaloupe, and flaxseeds contribute to sebum production. For the omega-3 post, click here. For the vitamin A post, click here.

*Airdry the hair in a protective style
Protective styling isn't reserved for the protection of the ends. It has the added benefit, in my case, of helping my ends absorb and retain moisture post a washing session.

*Sleep with a silk scarf/pillowcase
The same added benefit applies here too.

How do you stop dry ends (due to porosity)?

I believe that another major contributor to dry ends in black hair is high porosity. What causes high porosity? Well, a number of things including gradual wear and tear of the hair. I really encourage anyone who believes they might have this issue to read this extremely informative article: Part 1 . For solutions to the porosity issues, do check out Part 2 as well: Part 2 .


SEBUM & TEXTURED HAIR 2: Randy Schueller, Perry Romanowski. "Conditioning agents for hair and skin".

Healthy Sugar?

I always need to be reminded of this, and thanks to the peeps at PEERtrainer, it's on the front of my mind today.

This information is provided by PEERtrainer.com, the web's leading weight loss community and resource for long term, healthy weight loss success. To sign up for free daily weight loss and motivation tips and more visit http://www.peertrainer.com

Healthy Sugar?
Sorry, No Such Thing...

November 11th, 2011

By PEERtrainer Founder

One of the top recommendations that people get when they go through the PEERtrainer Fresh Start Cleanse is a total elimination of added sugar.

This is especially true as the cleanse runs its course, and you can start to reintroduce some of the things you took out. But sugar is something that you are advised to continue to treat as public enemy #1.

Here are the top 7 things you need to know about sugar and why it may be creating weight loss resistance, meaning, no matter how much you do 'right' the weight isn't coming off:

1. Isn't There Such Thing As Healthy Sugar Like Honey And Agave?

One common response to being told to eliminate sugar is to say, "Ok, I'll watch my sugar intake by switching to "healthy" sugars like honey and agave.

We asked JJ Virgin this question, and she answered in ALL CAPS. I could literally feel the emotion jumping from the page. From her perspective, people who are dealing with weight loss resistance, or literally any other health issue, need to stay the $%^& away from sugar.

She lumps the term "healthy sugar" with oxymorons like "jumbo shrimp" and "military intelligence".

Excess sugar consumption has been linked to a whole host of diseases. But one of the most interesting effects has to do with nutrient absorption.

2. Sugar And Your Digestive System: How Sugar Could Be Damaging Your Ability To Improve Your Health

When it comes to your digestive system, excess sugar, even moderate amounts interferes with its ability to absorb nutrients. It is a whole lot more complicated than this. But once you understand that all forms of excess sugar "mess with your system" you will be much more likely to ditch the honey, agave, even fruit for a period of time.

There are very few people who can't benefit from proper absorption of vitamins, minerals and nutrient. However, until recently, there have not been many studies showing how high sugar intake effect effects nutrient absorption. One
recent study helped establish that high sugar intake "impaired" the digestive process.

3. How Much Sugar Is Too Much?

According to the
American Heart Association, they recommend no more than 100 calories of added sugar a day for a woman, a little more for a man. To give you a sense, 100 calories is equivalent to a large apple.

Now I can hear your next question: But you can't possibly talking about the natural fructose in sugar. Apples, pears, blueberries all get a free pass, right? No. Wrong.

Fructose, glucose, sucrose, sugar, honey, agave, it's all sugar. Yes, fruit has some extremely beneficial micronutrients, however fruit was not meant to be consumed in daily unlimited quantities.

Have you ever tried to pick wild Maine blueberries? I'm not referring to the kind where you pay someone $5 to harvest on their farm. I'm referring to the wild ones that grow, low bush or high bush every year. They're only available for about a month in the summer during the year. It takes a long time to pick and you might get 2 or 3 tiny ones at a time. Even if you worked to pick blueberries for 12 hours of the day, it would be challenging to eat them in unlimited quantities.

Focus on limiting your fruit to one serving a day.

Another key concept: A very small minority of people actually stick to the recommendation of only 100 calories of added sugar a day. Almost all processed foods contain hidden sugars. Sugar is everywhere, and it is tough to avoid.

Do yourself a favor: Look at all of the labels and sugar count of just your breakfast items alone to see how much your eating. If you're eating more than 10 grams of sugar at breakfast time, you're at your quota for the ENTIRE day. (This was later edited by the folks at PEERtrainer to 25 grams of sugar as the quota for the entire day.)

4. There Is A PILE Of Research In This Area To Support The Claim Against Sugar

There are different studies out there that show how different nutrients are effected by sugar. One interesting thing to note about JJ's advice are the
consistent results we are seeing from people following her cleanse protocol, in conjunction with the concept of nutrient density that we have promoted for years at PEERtrainer.

It would seem that when people eliminate toxins, it helps us better absorb all the nutrient dense foods we are now eating.

5. Does A Nutrient Dense Diet Help You Defy The Laws Of Nutrition?

What is interesting is that we are seeing people who eat
nutrient dense diets, but with high levels of sugar--who are having some health issues like high cholesterol and triglycerides.

Not only do some people think that certain sugars are "healthy"-- many people think that as long as they eat plenty of greens, it gives them a free pass in other areas of their diet. Your numbers will speak for themselves.

In fact, new research links excess sugar consumption to unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. According to a new study:

"Excess sugar is known to contribute to obesity, diabetes, and other conditions linked to heart disease, and now new research links it to unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels."

6. The Link Between Sugar And Cancer

To give you one example (among many), consumption of sugar and sugar-sweetened foods has been show to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer in a prospective

"Frequent consumption of sugar and high-sugar foods may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by inducing frequent postprandial hyperglycemia, increasing insulin demand, and decreasing insulin sensitivity." April 20th 2010


This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sugar consumption. There is a ton of older research as well showing the harmful effects of sugar, but we wanted to show you some of the recent research. If you have any questions about how sugar is effecting your health, visit your doctor and get your numbers checked.

Monday, November 14, 2011

THIS SATURDAY - November 19 Market to Table - Thanksgiving Edition!

Join volunteers from Healthy World Cafe as we pay tribute to Thanksgiving dishes and this wonderful holiday. Taking inspiration from what's locally in-season, Chef and Guiding Committee Chair Sean Arnold and his team have created a collection of recipes guaranteed to inspire you.

The live cooking demonstration will take place at the Rojahn Performance Kitchen inside York's Central Market House. The Markethouse is located on N. Beaver St., between W. Market St. and W. Philadelphia St.

Copies of recipes will be available, as will more information about Healthy World Cafe and our mission. We continue in our active fundraising and "friendraising" stage of our evolution, and are so proud to be complementing what's happening in our local farming community.

Come one, come all, taste our food and plan your Thanksgiving menu around whats fresh in York county!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fantasy Plant Strong Thanksgiving Plans

You've heard of fantasy football, right? Well, in my life, cooking is sport. And here's my Thanksgiving fantasy lineup.

My husband and I are petitioning his parents to let us host the holiday this year. What do you think? Should we be allowed to do it?

Pear and Toasted Walnut Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
Pretty self explanatory. These flavors just scream fall to me.

Pumpkin Bulgur Stuffed Acorn Squash
I made this a little over a month ago to rave reviews from all who tried it. I knew right then it would be the focus of our Thanksgiving meal.

Terry Walter's Cranberry Chutney from her book Clean Food
This is so good, you'll want to eat it throughout the year, not just on Thanksgiving.
Makes 4 cups

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup raisins
� cup sucanat
� cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
� teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup water
1 small onion, chopped
3 medium apples, cored and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Combine cranberries, raisins, sucanat, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and water in Dutch oven. Place over medium heat and cook 15 minutes. Stir in onion, apples and celery and cook 15 minutes more. Remove from heat, fold in lemon peel, and serve.

Chutney can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in the freezer.

Braised Brussels Sprouts
An old standard at our house.

Fat Free Vegan's Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping
To say that a sweet potato casserole is a  must for me at Thanksgiving is a total understatement. I plan on taking Susan's beloved recipe and simplifying it a bit, leaving out all of the vegan margarine and getting creative about the sugar (has anyone made date paste yet?).

Fat Free Vegan's Green Bean Casserole

A healthier vegan adaptation of Paula Dean's Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle
In my opinion. this is simply one of the best desserts ever to have been created. I have made it many times in it's non vegan state, including for Thanksgiving last year. This year, it's time to step it up a notch. I'm gonna healthy-veganize it.

What's on your list for this year's Thanksgiving meal? Have I forgotten anything? Feel free to make recommendations of things that have been successful for you in the past or dishes that you are going to be preparing this Thanksgiving. We could all use the help!

Also, FYI . . . Forks Over Knives is presenting a LIVE Plant-Based Thanksgiving Cooking Show with our friend Julieanna Hever, R.D.
Join FOK Thursday November 17th at 9:00 PM EST / 6:00 PM PST on thier Facebook or Livestream page for a live cooking demonstration with Julieanna Hever, R.D. Julieanna will demonstrate a plant-based Thanksgiving meal that will be delicious and healthy. While making the meal, Julieanna will answer questions from the audience. Questions can be sent in advance to Info@ForksOverKnives.com and also be asked live during the broadcast.

Julieanna is author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition and producer/host of the video "To Your Health," both available on the FOK website. Click here to watch her recent appearance on The Dr. Oz Show

Friday, November 11, 2011

Alex Stratta Sighting

Who is Alex Stratta you ask?

A cheftestant on last season's Top Chef.


Holy sh!#.

So I'm standing in the checkout line at Whole Foods with my friend Chris-anna, and I'm staring at the guy behind us. I'm thinking, "I know this guy. He looks so familiar. Who is he? Where do I know him from. If I don't just ask him, it's going to bug me for days."

So I say it, "Do I know you?"

"I was on television."

"What show?"

"Top Chef." (He leaves out the "Masters" part, guess he's really shy or something.)

My eyes widen. Oh. That's how I know him. "Do you live in . . . Cleveland?????"

"No, I'm here to see some doctors."

Now there's a big furrow in my brow. I'm squinting as I stare at him. Is it terminal? Coming to Cleveland to see some doctors might mean it's pretty bad.

"Recipe development," he quietly ads.

"Oh!" I exclaim, "you have to come meet my friends!"

Seems Mr. Stratta lost 100 pounds recently. Here's the before:

Read about his transformation, as well as what happened to Alton Brown, here and here. I have been wondering about Alton for a long time, and now I know. So glad these guys are realizing the damage they are doing to themselves and to society.

Mr. Stratta is also a colon cancer survivor. He didn't mention that at lunch.

He did share that he left his jobs at the fancy restaurants he was working at in the Wynn as Vegas. Restaurants that were named after him. Who does that?

A guy who wants to be healthy, I'm guessing.

"Top Chef Masters' Alex Stratta has severed his ties with the Wynn Las Vegas. According to reports he quietly departed from his remaining Wynn restaurant Stratta a few weeks back, leaving executive chef David Snyder and Stratta�s assistant executive chef Joseph Leibowitz at the helm. (Earlier this year his other Wynn project Alex shuttered as well.) Apparently the split with the Wynn was amicable and Stratta will now be focusing on 'his culinary career on nutritional and disease preventative research and menu development, and an exciting new opportunity in the works in Asia.'"

Maybe he'll become one of us now?

I'm staying tuned!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: The Chef Aj Show

Last night I had the honor of attending Chef Aj's cooking demonstration and Unprocessed presentation at Whole Foods. I almost didn't go! I thought I was too tired and didn't think I could swing getting a  babysitter.

But those excuses were nothing that a little caffeine and an almost 12 year old daughter couldn't fix. That and my six-year-old Maya agreed to go with me. Which was lovely until she raised her hand really high in front of about sixty people and asked, "What's a hundred plus a hundred?"

I about died on the spot.

Luckily Chef Aj has a wicked sense of humor and a very high tolerance for six-year-olds named Maya. She's even invited Maya to move in with her in LA. I've seen Maya charm the pants off of many unsuspecting adults.

Chef Aj's presentation was dynamic. Inspiring. Outstanding.

Educational. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of all that is healthy and plant based.

Aj is a gifted whole foods chef. Her food is daring, amazing, delicious! You can find her work here, here and here.

Some of my favorite "one-liners" from The Chef Aj Show?

"What is CRAP? Calorie Rich And Processed."

"Processed food is not food."

"White ain't right."

"We are the only species that salts our food. Have you ever seen a lion with a salt shaker?"

"Americans celebrate their birthdays every single day, three times a day."

When it comes to sweets: "Eat the fruit, the whole fruit, nothing but the fruit, so help you God."

Three great food tips from Chef Aj?

(1) If you think that a recipe needs salt, try to add a sour taste instead (think lemon or lime juice). Your salt and sour taste buds are right next to each other on your tongue so one taste can satisfy the other craving.

(2) If you want to decrease the amount of nuts in a savory dish, substitute cannelini beans (washed and drained) for the nuts. It works like magic.

(3) Make your own almond milk. Simply blend 1 tablespoon of raw, unsalted almond butter with 3 cups of water. Viola! So, so, so much cheaper than what is sold in the market and no extra ingredients.

If Chef Aj is ever in your town, don't miss her! Travel if you have to. Bus, train, plane . . . you'll be glad you did.

I left the presentation inspired with the following idea that she shared with us from Jack La Lane:

"If God made it, eat it. If man made it, don't eat it."

These are words that I needed to be reminded of. Thank you Chef Aj!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What a Blast. Chef Aj's Thai Noodle Salad.

What can I say? Between jet lag, the time change, sous cheffing for Chef Aj all day yesterday and then hosting a large pot luck last night, my brain is kinda fried!

So this post will be brief. I want to highlight one of the recipes from last night's pot luck: Chef Aj's Thai Noodles. Main ingredients? Rice noodles, broccoli, haricot vert, scallions and carrots. All smothered in peanut butter or sunbutter, lime juice, maple syrup or date syrup and other tasty things. Can anyone say "yumkins?"

Served with extra dressing on the side.

Ate it for breakfast this morning straight from the storage container.

Having it again for lunch over a huge bed of fresh spinach leaves.

Can you tell I liked it?

It's that right balance of spicy and sweet, crunchy and soft. Yumkins.

Get the recipe here, straight from Chef Aj.

And lucky for all of us, my friend Quinny wrote a hilarious accounting of her experience at this pot luck. Thanks for sharing Quinny!

Enjoy and have a great day!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

One Last Highlight of My Trip that I Must Share with You-The Shuk

It's 6 am and Chef Aj is upstairs sleeping in my house! Can you believe it? It's amazing what the universe will greet you with if you just put yourself out there. Tonight I am hosting a Plant-strong pot luck for my local community so that everyone can meet Aj. I'm really excited. I get a natural high from being around like-minded people and I know tonight will be very special.

But this morning I want to share one last impression of my trip. Something that touched me so deeply that I just can't shake the feeling that I want to go back.

Mahane Yehuda Market, often referred to as "The Shuk", is an outdoor marketplace in Jerusalem, Israel. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the market's more than 250 vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables; baked goods; fish, meat and cheeses; nuts, seeds, and spices; wines and liquors; clothing and shoes; housewares, and textiles.

Dried fruits of every variety.

The spices! Indescribable. Blends of dehydrated onions, nuts and seeds and spices. I'm kicking myself for not purchasing bags and bags full.

More spices.

Fresh dates. Different than dried dates. The sweetness hasn't been concentrated yet
so they are quite different.

Beautiful olives.

Gorgeous breads.
Halva like I have never seen before. Halva is a dense, sweet confection served in many regions including the Middle East, Asia, North Africa and Europe. It was a staple in my house growing up.
Crumbly and usually made from sesame paste or other nut butters such as sunflower seed butter. The primary ingredients are nut butter and sugar. It was sold at the shuk in so many flavors my head was spinning! I tasted the coffee flavor . . . I could have died and gone to heaven right on the spot. Like nothing I have ever experienced before.

Baklava and other sweets.
Fresh figs, my favorite! Like I said, I want to go back. Asap!

Where are you itching to go?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Travelling with Veg-ans and the Amazing "Round Salad"

Six out of the fifteen women that I travelled with identify as some level of veg-an. Either full out Vegan, Plant-strong or Nutritarian. Ordering in restaurants was divine. There were no lack of choices for us on the menus and we treated the opportunities like buffets, sharing plates and plates of delicious Plant-strong food. I am very grateful for the experience.

One of our favorite dishes by far was the Round Salad from a restaurant called RYU. I have no idea why this is called a "Round Salad." Maybe it's a cultural thing that I don't understand. No matter the name, this salad rocked! I knew it would be the first thing I would attempt to recreate once I was home, and I have to say, it was a smashing success with the help of this bottled salad dressing:
San-J's Tamari Ginger Dressing
very low cal
very delicious
This simple and quick to prepare salad is so outstanding that I plan on making it twice more this week. First, to serve to Chef Aj when she gets to my house and again and a pot luck at the end of this week. It's that good.

Round Salad
serves 8 as a starter, 4 as a main course

Printable Recipe

3/4 head iceberg lettuce, cut into medium sized chunks
1/2 of a small red cabbage, cut into 4 quarters and sliced very thin
1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 1/2 cups fresh bean sprouts
San-J Tamari Ginger dressing or other Asian flavored dressing
optional: roasted tofu chunks

If your almonds are raw, toast them, watching carefully that they do not burn.

In a large bowl, layer lettuce, cabbage, onion, tofu (optional), almonds and bean sprouts. Toss to taste with approximately 1/2 of the bottle of San-J Tamari Ginger dressing or equivalent dressing of choice.

Serve immediately.

And I wasn't joking around when I said in my last posting that I would be eating salad for breakfast. Luckily, my husband is totally into it too!
Simple green breakfast salad with a big dollop of Terry Walter's Carrot Cashew Miso Spread on top. Dressed with fresh lemon juice and served with homemade whole wheat challah bread. Breakfast anyone?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Are Processed Food Manufacturers Really Going to Argue that Junk Food is Not Addictive?

Apparently they are. Here's a link to the original article. The comments are worth reading. This is a very touchy subject for many people!
Fatty Foods Addictive Like Cocaine in Growing Body of Scientific Research
By Robert Langreth and Duane D. Stanford - Nov 2, 2011

Cupcakes may be addictive, just like cocaine.

A growing body of medical research at leading universities and government laboratories suggests that processed foods and sugary drinks made by the likes of PepsiCo Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT) aren�t simply unhealthy. They can hijack the brain in ways that resemble addictions to cocaine, nicotine and other drugs.

�The data is so overwhelming the field has to accept it,� said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. �We are finding tremendous overlap between drugs in the brain and food in the brain.�

The idea that food may be addictive was barely on scientists� radar a decade ago. Now the field is heating up. Lab studies have found sugary drinks and fatty foods can produce addictive behavior in animals. Brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters, meanwhile, reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.

Twenty-eight scientific studies and papers on food addiction have been published this year, according to a National Library of Medicine database. As the evidence expands, the science of addiction could become a game changer for the $1 trillion food and beverage industries.

If fatty foods and snacks and drinks sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup are proven to be addictive, food companies may face the most drawn-out consumer safety battle since the anti-smoking movement took on the tobacco industry a generation ago.

�This could change the legal landscape,� said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University�s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity and a proponent of anti-obesity regulation. �People knew for a long time cigarettes were killing people, but it was only later they learned about nicotine and the intentional manipulation of it.�

Food company executives and lobbyists are quick to counter that nothing has been proven, that nothing is wrong with what PepsiCo Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi calls �fun-for- you� foods, if eaten in moderation. In fact, the companies say they�re making big strides toward offering consumers a wide range of healthier snacking options. Nooyi, for one, is as well known for calling attention to PepsiCo�s progress offering healthier fare as she is for driving sales.

Coca-Cola Co. (KO), PepsiCo, Northfield, Illinois-based Kraft and Kellogg Co. of Battle Creek, Michigan, declined to grant interviews with their scientists.

No one disputes that obesity is a fast growing global problem. In the U.S., a third of adults and 17 percent of teens and children are obese, and those numbers are increasing. Across the globe, from Latin America, to Europe to Pacific Island nations, obesity rates are also climbing.

Cost to Society
The cost to society is enormous. A 2009 study of 900,000 people, published in The Lancet, found that moderate obesity reduces life expectancyby two to four years, while severe obesity shortens life expectancy by as much as 10 years. Obesity has been shown to boost the risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The costs of treating illness associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion in 2008, according to a 2009 study in Health Affairs.

Sugars and fats, of course, have always been present in the human diet and our bodies are programmed to crave them. What has changed is modern processing that creates food with concentrated levels of sugars, unhealthy fats and refined flour, without redeeming levels of fiber or nutrients, obesity experts said. Consumption of large quantities of those processed foods may be changing the way the brain is wired.

A Lot Like Addiction
Those changes look a lot like addiction to some experts. Addiction �is a loaded term, but there are aspects of the modern diet that can elicit behavior that resembles addiction,� said David Ludwig, a Harvard researcher and director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Children�s Hospital Boston. Highly processed foods may cause rapid spikes and declines in blood sugar, increasing cravings, his research has found.

Education, diets and drugs to treat obesity have proven largely ineffective and the new science of obesity may explain why, proponents say. Constant stimulation with tasty, calorie- laden foods may desensitize the brain�s circuitry, leading people to consume greater quantities of junk food to maintain a constant state of pleasure.

In one 2010 study, scientists at Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, fed rats an array of fatty and sugary products including Hormel Foods Corp. (HRL) bacon, Sara Lee Corp. (SLE) pound cake, The Cheesecake Factory Inc. (CAKE) cheesecake and Pillsbury Co. Creamy Supreme cake frosting. The study measured activity in regions of the brain involved in registering reward and pleasure through electrodes implanted in the rats.

Binge-Eating Rats
The rats that had access to these foods for one hour a day started binge eating, even when more nutritious food was available all day long. Other groups of rats that had access to the sweets and fatty foods for 18 to 23 hours per day became obese, Paul Kenny, the Scripps scientist heading the study wrote in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The results produced the same brain pattern that occurs with escalating intake of cocaine, he wrote.

�To see food do the same thing was mind-boggling,� Kenny later said in an interview.
Researchers are finding that damage to the brain�s reward centers may occur when people eat excessive quantities of food.

Sweet Rewards
Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Hershey Co. (HSY)�s chocolate syrup.

The same women got repeat MRI scans six months later. Those who had gained weight showed reduced activity in the striatum, a region of the brain that registers reward, when they sipped milkshakes the second time, according to the study results, published last year in the Journal of Neuroscience.

�A career of overeating causes blunted reward receipt, and this is exactly what you see with chronic drug abuse,� said Eric Stice, a researcher at the Oregon Research Institute.

Scientists studying food addiction have had to overcome skepticism, even from their peers. In the late 1990s, NIDA�s Volkow, then a drug addiction researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, applied for a National Institutes of Health grant to scan obese people to see whether their brain reward centers were affected. Her grant proposal was turned down.

Finding Evidence
�I couldn�t get it funded,� she said in an interview. �The response was, there is no evidence that food produces addictive-like behaviors in the brain.�

Volkow, working with Brookhaven researcher Gene-Jack Wang, cobbled together funding from another government agency to conduct a study using a brain scanning device capable of measuring chemical activity inside the body using radioactive tracers.

Researchers were able to map dopamine receptor levels in the brains of 10 obese volunteers. Dopamine is a chemical produced in the brain that signals reward. Natural boosters of dopamine include exercise and sexual activity, but drugs such as cocaine and heroin also stimulate the chemical in large quantities.

In drug abusers, brain receptors that receive the dopamine signal may become unresponsive with increased drug usage, causing drug abusers to steadily increase their dosage in search of the same high. The Brookhaven study found that the obese people also had lowered levels of dopamine receptors compared with a lean control group.

Addicted to Sugar
The same year, psychologists at Princeton University began studying whether lab rats could become addicted to a 10 percent solution of sugar water, about the same percentage of sugar contained in most soft drinks.

An occasional drink caused no problems for the lab animals. Yet the researchers found dramatic effects when the rats were allowed to drink sugar-water every day. Over time they drank �more and more and more� while eating less of their usual diet, said Nicole Avena, who began the work as a graduate student at Princeton and is now a neuroscientist at the University of Florida.

The animals also showed withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, shakes and tremors, when the effect of the sugar was blocked with a drug. The scientists, moreover, were able to determine changes in the levels of dopamine in the brain, similar to those seen in animals on addictive drugs.

Similar Behavior
�We consistently found that the changes we were observing in the rats binging on sugar were like what we would see if the animals were addicted to drugs,� said Avena, who for years worked closely with the late Princeton psychologist, Bartley Hoebel, who died this year.

While the animals didn�t become obese on sugar water alone, they became overweight when Avena and her colleagues offered them water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup.

A 2007 French experiment stunned researchers when it showed that rats prefer water sweetened with saccharine or sugar to hits of cocaine -- exactly the opposite of what existing dogma would have suggested.

�It was a big surprise,� said Serge Ahmed, a neuroscientist who led the research for the French National Research Council at the University of Bordeaux.

Yale�s Brownell helped organize one of the first conferences on food addiction in 2007. Since then, a prot�g�, Ashley Gearhardt, devised a 25-question survey to help researchers spot people with eating habits that resemble addictive behavior.

Pictures of Milkshakes
She and her colleagues used magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain activity of women scoring high on the survey. Pictures of milkshakes lit up the same brain regions that become hyperactive in alcoholics anticipating a drink, according to results published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in April.

Food addiction research may reinvigorate the search for effective obesity drugs, said Mark Gold, who chairs the psychiatry department at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Gold said the treatments he is working on seek to alter food preferences without suppressing overall appetite.

Developing Treatments
�We are trying to develop treatments that interfere with pathological food preferences,� he said. �Let�s say you are addicted to ice cream, you might come up with a treatment that blocked your interest in ice cream, but doesn�t affect your interest in meat.�

In related work, Shire Plc (SHP), a Dublin-based drugmaker, is testing its Vyvanse hyperactivity drug in patients with binge- eating problems.

Not everyone is convinced. Swansea University psychologist David Benton recently published a 16-page rebuttal to sugar addiction studies. The paper, partly funded by the World Sugar Research Organization, which includes Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, the world�s largest soft-drink maker, argues that food doesn�t produce the same kind of intense dopamine release seen with drugs and that blocking certain brain receptors doesn�t produce withdrawal symptoms in binge-eaters as it does in drug abusers.

Industry Response
What�s still unknown is whether the science of food addition has begun to change the thinking among food and beverage companies, which are, after all, primarily in the business of selling the Doritos, Twinkies and other fare people crave.

About 80 percent of Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo�s marketing budget, for instance, is directed toward pushing salty snacks and sodas. Although companies are quick to point to their healthier offerings, their top executives are constantly called upon to reassure investors those sales of snack foods and sodas are showing steady growth.

�We want to see profit growth and revenue growth,� said Tim Hoyle, director of research at Haverford Trust Co. in Radnor, Pennsylvania, an investor in PepsiCo, the world�s largest snack-food maker. �The health foods are good for headlines but when it gets down to it, the growth drivers are the comfort foods, the Tostitos and the Pepsi-Cola.�

Little wonder that the food industry is pushing hard on the idea that the best way to get a handle on obesity is through voluntary measures and by offering healthier choices. The same tactic worked for awhile, decades ago, for the tobacco industry, which deflected attention from the health risks and addictive nature of cigarettes with �low tar and nicotine� marketing.

Food industry lobbyists don�t buy that argument -- or even the idea that food addiction may exist. Said Richard Adamson, a pharmacologist and consultant for the American Beverage Association: �I have never heard of anyone robbing a bank to get money to buy a candy bar or ice cream or pop.�

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Langreth in New York at rlangreth@bloomberg.net; Duane D. Stanford in Atlanta atdstanford2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net

What do you think?