You’ve likely heard horror stories about processed food. People call processed food the enemy of the diet. Though some can be part of a healthy diet, too much processed food can wreak havoc to the human body. From the good to the bad, here’s everything you need to know about processed food.
What Is Processed Food?
Processed food is any food that has been altered for our consumption. Because we live in a society where the consumer typically lives far from places where food is actually grown, food is often altered for storage purposes. For example, preservatives can increase the shelf life of the food. However, some food is also processed for safer consumption. These kinds of processing can actually make the food better for you to eat, as they remove dangerous bacteria. But processed foods become hazardous when they contain added sugar, trans fat, and sodium.
Good Processed Foods
Lots of foods are processed, but not all are bad. Milk, for example, is pasteurized before it reaches your grocery shelves. This kills off harmful bacteria, allowing for safe consumption. Milk is also homogenized, a process intended to keep fat from separating.
Some minimally processed foods can still be healthy in moderation. Breakfast cereals, for example, contain processed grains. If they contain whole grains, these cereals may still be healthy. However, processed cereals also often contain too much added sugar. And the next time you’re picking up orange juice at the store, check the label. Some companies fortify OJ with calcium, which is even better for you than the juice alone. Dried fruits, roasted nuts, seeds, and 100% whole grain bread are all quite good for you as long as they don’t contain added flavors. These flavors are packed with sodium and other chemicals. Make sure to check the label for added and artificial ingredients!
Bad Processed Foods
Processed foods become bad for your health when packed with heavy amounts of preservatives, sodium, sugar, and trans fat. These harmful substances can be found in most canned foods. Also, pasta made from refined white flour instead of whole grain flour isn’t beneficial to your health. Packaged snacks often contain astronomical amounts of sugar, sodium and fat. You should also stay away from packaged cakes and cookies and cake mixes. Most frozen dinners, such as fish sticks and pot pies, contain a lot of sodium as well. At Market Table, however, our prepared foods and freezer meals are prepared in-house with locally sourced ingredients, so there’s no need for preservatives. Also, our fresh, healthy produce and meat is packed with flavor, so we don’t add artificial flavors as well.
How to Tell the Difference Between Good and Bad Processed Food
You may be wondering how you can tell if food is moderately or extremely processed. Thankfully, these tricks can help you decide what’s okay to eat and what you should avoid.
The best way to tell the difference between something you should and should not be eating is the ingredient list. As a rule of thumb, go for foods with less ingredients — and with ingredients you can pronounce, rather than complicated chemical names. If you can pronounce all of the ingredients and know what they all mean, then you’re probably in the clear.
Fresh vegetables, fruits, and greens are generally okay to eat, as they’re chopped and bagged for your convenience. Some preservatives are added to keep them from wilting or browning, but they’re not typically extremely harmful. On the other hand, you should avoid processed meats, which contain dangerous preservatives.
The worst processed foods you can find in the grocery store are frozen dinners like lasagna, pizza, etc. If that sentence makes you stress about what you can feed your kids, don’t worry! Market Table has you covered. From our Cheeseburger Bake to our Pizza Casserole, we make healthy, hearty versions of the frozen foods your kids crave.
Text By Martha Kendall Custard
Deciding to go Paleo is a big step, but it might be worth it in the end. Read on to find out if the Paleo diet is right for you.
Paleo is a diet designed with human genetics in mind to help people stay lean, strong, and energetic. Most of what we put in our bodies these days is refined food, trans fat, and sugar. These three combined are thought to be causing some of the diseases that plague people today like obesity, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, and infertility.
What Can You Eat on Paleo?
When practicing the Paleo diet, there’s a list of the main foods you should be consuming. These include fruit, vegetables, lean meat, seafood, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. Fruits and vegetables provide the body with an abundance of vitamins and minerals. They also contain phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are beneficial compounds we get from fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are an example of phytonutrients.
These three in abundance can lower the likelihood of the dieter getting cancer, diabetes, or neurological decline. Paleo diet recommends you consume healthy fat like Omega 3 to reduce obesity, cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline.
What Can’t You Eat on Paleo?
When on the Paleo diet, you can’t eat any dairy, grains, processed food and sugars, legumes, starches, or alcohol. This is partially because these are not foods consumed by early man, but it is also because these are all foods that are at odds with health. Dairy contains A1 Casein which can cause allergy. This combined with the IGF growth factor 1 in milk is thought to be cancer-causing by some. This growth factor means dairy can cause acne. Grains are thought to irritate the immune system. Legumes contain lectins and phytic acid which can cause inflammation and gastrointestinal distress overtime. They also trigger insulin release. Starches are high on the glycemic index scale and too many carbs. They can disrupt blood sugar levels as a result.
Health Benefits of Paleo Diet
Results from the Paleo diet can include improved blood lipids, weight loss, and reduced pain from autoimmune disease. This works because the diet raises the level of nutrients you receive while getting rid of things your body does not need or things that are harmful to it.
People have reported better workouts, steadier energy levels, reduced allergies, reduced fat, more stable blood sugar, better and more consistent sleep at night. Improvement in skin and teeth health has also been reported.
Does the Paleo Diet Actually Work?
The Paleo diet has had many success stories. Studies show the Paleo diet has reversed insulin resistant type 2 diabetes. Dr. Terry Wahls even claims she reversed the effects of her multiple Sclerosis.
Because the foods you cut out when starting the Paleo will lower your calorie count automatically, there is no need to count calories. While you should definitely keep your portions under control, calorie counting is not sustainable. The paleo diet is actually sustainable, which means that it is a good option for long term health maintenance.
By Martha Kendall Custard
If you’re still eating your food off of a plate, it’s time to get with the hottest new trend: bowls. Need further proof? Go search #bowl on Instagram, and you’ll see over two million pictures of food bowls. Even at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markel, reception guests ate various options of the food bowl. Though you probably won’t be dining with the Queen of England, you’re still going to want to get in the bowl game. Here’s why these aesthetically pleasing dishes are on the rise.
Food bowls may look too beautiful to eat, but they are definitely good for your health. This is why the trend is so popular amongst healthy eaters. You’re getting all your grains, proteins, and vegetables right in one main dish, and the heartiness of the meal will leave you full for hours.
This bowl trend also means there’s more healthy food options. Restaurants are competing to “out bowl” each other. More restaurants offer healthy bowl options, which is a win for you. Instead of driving across town for your food bowl, you’ll probably find a nearby restaurant that’s caught on to the new trend.
They’re Easy to Make
If you’re trying to save some money, food bowls are also simple to make. Another great thing about food bowls is that they’re infinitely customizable. You can mix and match bases, toppings, and dressings to your heart’s desire. This make food bowls great for meal preppers, lunch lovers, and picky eaters.
If you’re skeptical about joining the craze, just know that this is no fad. In fact, food bowls have been around for a long time. They get their origins from Hawaiian and Brazilian culture with the poke and açaí bowls, respectively.
Poke is a staple Hawaiian dish and traditionally includes raw cubed tuna. But, there are other options such as octopus, salmon or tofu. All of this is served on a bed of rice and topped with furikake, a Japanese seasoning equivalent to America’s salt and pepper. This dish has left the island and established itself as a popular food bowl throughout the rest of the country.
Açaí is a superfruit with lots of health benefits. It gained its popularity through smoothie bowls, but it’s also a popular icecream flavor. Açaí bowls, or Açaí na tigela in Brazil, are fruit smoothie bowls topped with granola, bananas, other berries and syrups. These are the bowls you’ll see the most on Instagram.
If stepping up your Instagram game or the Royal family wasn’t enough motivation to join the food bowl movement, then maybe these benefits and cool origins will inspire you to join soon.
Text by Kendal Harris
Greek food established its popularity long ago. Due to its healthy nature and flavorful taste, Greek food is a genre that many are sure to love.
Greek food is considered a healthy cuisine because of its typical ingredients. Many Greek dishes center around a type of lean meat or fish. You’ll commonly find pork, lamb, mussels and shrimp mixed with spices and herbs in different types of Greek recipes. You’ll also often find feta, the national cheese of Greece, in Greek dishes. Feta cheese can also only be produced in Greece, so it’s always 100% Greek. Beans are also another healthy ingredient found in Greek dishes. Because of the fertile wet soil in northern Greece, beans are popular for gardening and for cooking.
One of the most common Greek dishes is Moussaka. This widely-recognized casserole consists of eggplants and potatoes layered with a spiced meat filling then topped with a creamy sauce. A popular Greek soup found on the menus of most Greek restaurants is Chicken Soup Avgolemono. This creamy soup typically serves as the first course for Greek holiday celebrations. A popular appetizer that can also be used as a condiment is Tzatziki. This yogurt-based cucumber dip is the perfect dip for grilled meat, veggies or pita bread.
Baklava, a classic and popular dessert, consists of flaky phyllo dough layered with a cinnamon-spiced nut filling. Another delicious dessert consisting of flaky phyllo dough is Galaktoboureko. This custard pie is covered with a lemon and orange infused syrup. Shortbread cookies, known as Kourabiethes, are a classic at Greek family celebrations. These light yet rich-in-flavor cookies melt right in your mouth.
Greek cuisine is one that the whole family is sure to love. With the various ingredients used, there is something out there that will satisfy every member of the family.
Many of us were taught that humans can sense four tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. But did you know that there are actually seven tastes? And ongoing research suggests there may even be an eighth.
This is the simplest of the tastes. Salt is actually the compound sodium chloride, which is necessary for the human body. That’s because it regulates fluids and creates nerve impulses. Humans perceive it as warming, soothing and drying. Any foods with sodium chloride are perceived as salty. Examples include soy sauce, celery, baking soda/powder, seaweed and olives.
Sweetness indicates the presence of sugars in foods, along with certain proteins. The sweet taste is pleasurable to most people, except in excess. It is calming and relaxing. Also, the tongue may perceive it as moist. Common foods that taste sweet are sugar, cinnamon, dill, honey, butter, wheat, almonds, carrots and avocado.
Sour tastes let us know that there are acids in certain foods. This stimulates the digestive system, metabolism and appetite, but, as an added bonus, can also relieve gas. Citrus fruits are the most common sour fruits. Other sour foods include yogurt, sour cream, tomatoes, vinegar, goat cheese, pickles and sauerkraut.
The bitter taste receptors identify bases in foods. Humans taste bitterness so that we may avoid naturally toxic substances, most of which taste bitter. Because of this, it is the taste we are most sensitive to. In fact, we are so sensitive that many perceive bitter foods to be unpleasant, sharp or disagreeable. Some bitter foods include coffee, unsweetened cocoa and citrus peel. Quinine, found in tonic water, is also quite bitter.
This flavor is often described as “savory” or “meaty.” Salt magnifies the taste, which is why adding salt to a tomato amplifies the flavor. Umami-rich foods include Parmesan cheese, miso, soy sauce, mushrooms, walnuts, grapes and broccoli. To a lesser degree, it’s also found in meats.
This taste is in addition to the basic five tastes that humans perceive. Astringent foods contain tannins, which constrict organic tissue. It causes a puckering sensation that may also be described as rubbery, styptic, dry or rough. In addition, it may be described as harsh when found in wine, or tart, in sour foods. The astringent flavor is found in tea, unripe fruit, nutmeg, rosemary, green apples, spinach and lentils.
The pungent taste is perceived as dry heat. It can boost metabolism and circulation, aid digestion and reduce body fat. Pungent foods include basil, chili powder, all hot peppers, ginger, peppermint, cayenne, horseradish, onion and garlic.
An Eighth Taste?
Since the 1800s, there have been arguments over whether or not fat is another taste that humans can perceive. The theory is that humans developed it in order to ensure we got enough high fat during times of food scarcity. In 2005, French researchers discovered that rats do have the taste receptor for fat. It is still unclear whether humans do, but it is clear that fatty foods like French fries are absolutely delicious.
Text by Jennie Tippett
The international avocado market blew up from 2012-2016. In fact, the exports increased as much as 30% in some areas — and no, it’s not just because of Millennials and their avocado toast. Here’s why the fruit (yes, we said fruit!) is so sought-after.
First: A Little U.S. History
In 1914, the US banned the import of Mexican avocados into the continental United States as a way to stop the seed weevil from destroying American farms. The California Avocado Grower’s Exchange began growing and selling the fruit instead. However, they couldn’t keep up with the demand of the whole country. For decades, only states on the west coast with fresh fruit markets were able to enjoy the creamy fruit.
What’s in a Name?
In the years following the ban, the fruit became known as “alligator pears.” The thick skin was bumpy and various shades of green, like the reptile, and the shape was that of a pear. The California Avocado Grower’s Exchange worked to change the name to avocado, thinking that the exoticism of the name would lend to its reputation as a luxury fruit.
In 1997, the US started to slowly lift the ban. But there were still hurdles to overcome. Many Americans didn’t understand how to properly eat an avocado. So, the growers launched a campaign to educate Americans. One of the best facets of this campaign was the Super Bowl/Guacamole Bowl recipe contest. The growers’ PR firm asked various NFL teams for their best guac recipes. The firm suggested that the best recipe might predict the winner of the Super Bowl. The plan worked, and Americans fell in love with guacamole. In fact, we consume 8 million pounds of it every Super Bowl Sunday.
Study after study confirms that the avocado is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Just a 3.5 ounce serving contains Vitamins K, C, B5, B6, E, A, B1, B2 and B3. It also contains other nutrients, like folate, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc and phosphorus. There are 160 calories in this one serving, with only 2 grams of net carbs, 15 grams of healthy fats and 2 grams of protein.
All of these nutrients lead to different health benefits. Avocados promote weight loss. They contain low amounts of saturated fat and curb hunger. The fruit improves overall heart health by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Avocados also have anti-aging benefits from being packed with antioxidants. And they even improve eye health.
Let’s Have a Toast
Chefs love to use avocados in recipes. Their creaminess is great for balancing acidity or spice. The avocado flavor is delicate enough not to overwhelm any other ingredients.
And, of course, there’s avocado toast. It’s a simple, filling snack or breakfast food that is quick to prepare and scrumptious to boot. Add salt, pepper, olive oil and whatever other topping you’d like. A fried or soft-boiled egg would be perfect. Or if it’s too early to think about making your own, swing by Market Table for a breakfast featuring our tasty avocado toast.
From the way sales have increased each year, it is clear that, when it comes to the avocado, Americans have no problem in making up for lost time.
Text by Jennie Tippett