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
Do you find yourself struggling to find a recipe at the last minute? Never seem to have what you need from the grocery store? Have no fear! Creating a weekly meal plan can make after-school evenings run much more smoothly!
Choose the Meals Your Family Loves
Start by making a list of all the meals and snacks your family likes to eat on a regular basis. Pro-tip: get some sticky tabs or magnets and write the name of each meal on a tab. Place them all in a notebook or on your refrigerator, spread out so that they’re easily accounted for. These meals will be the building blocks of a weekly meal plan for your family.
Chart It Up
If you went with sticky tabs, create a chart with a column for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Add rows for each day of the week. This layout allows you to easily account for each meal and snack you’ll be responsible for throughout the week. Although there are often occasions where you’ll go out to eat, it’s always better to have a plan that you stray from than to have no plan at all.
Organize the Days
Now, decide which meals should fall into which slot. When this process is completed, you should have a planned dish for every meal and snack throughout the week. When you get home from work, it’ll be so easy to just check the meal chart and start cooking. You also won’t have to worry about changing the meal halfway through preparation, as your family can see the meal plan. You can even collaborate on the plan before the week begins to avoid any arguments. As a bonus, this is an excellent way to teach the kids about balance and nutrition!
Check the Diet
Ever wondered if you’ve been giving your kids enough nutrients? This meal planning system makes it easy to keep your family’s diet (or, more often, diets) in check. You can easily outline and implement your family’s dietary needs with a structured meal plan. Also, seeing the meal plan spread out before you will make it easy to find places where leafy greens can be best disguised.
Shop and Prep
No more opening the fridge on a Wednesday night to find an empty milk carton! When you know what dishes you’ll be preparing a week ahead, you can easily buy everything you need from the grocery store in one go. Go through your meal chart and make a grocery list of all the items you’ll need for the week. After purchasing them, you can even prep for the meals ahead of time. Maybe a lot of your meals require chopped veggies or peeled fruit. Maybe you have to soak some lentils for another dish. Finishing the prep work for multiple meals once or twice a week is a huge time saver.
Of course, not everyone has time to meal prep or plan. That’s where Market Table comes in! Our freezer meals and prepared dishes offer options for the whole family — just pop them in the oven and have a healthy, delicious meal in no time. Stumped when it comes to lunch? We’ve got you covered there, too: you can pre-order and pick up our Light Lunchboxes, saving you time and sanity.
The days of packing peanut butter sandwiches, apples, and Capri Suns are over. Nowadays, it feels like every member of the fam wants something new and different from those old average lunches. Being creative can be easy — even when you’re packing lunches for the entire family. Here are five fabulous ideas for lunch-spiration.
Salads are a great option for take-away lunches. They aren’t prone to spoil, they don’t have to be microwaved, and they’re healthy more often than they aren’t. Even if your family is suspicious of salads, they’ll love this Edamame Power Salad. This recipe’s packed with super-healthy edamame and chickpeas — and it’s both gluten-free and vegan. The avocado lime dressing gives it a tangy twist. It’s so good the kids won’t even realize they’re eating a salad!
Pasta’s another dish that doesn’t necessarily have to be microwaved. Kids love pasta, so it’s an avenue to ease them into trying new ingredients. For example, this Sesame Ginger Soba Noodle Salad is packed with roasted veggies like bell peppers and asparagus. The zesty dressing pairs great with most vegetables, making this a catch-all option for what’s leftover in your fridge at the end of the week.
Of course, sandwiches are a classic lunch box option. They don’t have to be boring, however. If your family’s tired of peanut butter and jelly, try this Chicken, Sprouts, and Provolone Sandwich. It’s served on a sesame bagel that gets toasted in the oven. The crunch of the bean sprouts and the bagel pairs perfectly with soft chicken and melted provolone cheese. If your kids aren’t quite adventurous eaters yet, remember that cookie cutters can make any sandwich exciting! Our kiddos love these Hungry Hippos.
Sick of sandwiches? Try a wrap! With the right preparations, wraps are quick and easy. We love a Beef Shawarma Wrap. This wrap uses pita bread or flatbread and contains ingredients like beef, tahini, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and other sauces and spices. It’s the burrito’s delicious middle-eastern cousin. Plus, it’s a great source of protein and fiber.
If you’re feeling especially dedicated, try making bowls. Bowls offer endless combinations, which means endless possibilities for delicious lunches. Watching your weight? Try these clean eating bowls. Looking for something delicious, family-friendly, and moderately healthy? Try this Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl (pro-tip: use brown rice for added fiber). Packed with protein, you can add a variety of vegetables depending on your preference. The sweet teriyaki sauce is sure to make this bowl a hit for your whole family.
Of course, everyone runs out of ideas from time to time. Or, you just might not have time to make lunchboxes every day. Why not try our Light Lunchboxes and let us do the work for you? You can pre-order lunches by Wednesday and pick them up on Sunday, or just come by and see what’s in the case! Follow us on Facebook to see what meals we’re packing for lunch each week.
Text by Martha Kendall Custard
Fourth of July cookouts are one of the best ways to make fun out of the summer heat. There’s no better way to bring people together than with food. Whether you’re at the beach, the pool, or in your own backyard, consider incorporating these elements into your 4th of July cookout party.
Cook on the Grill
There’s a certain smoky aroma associated with the 4th of July, and it isn’t the smell of your uncle burning his eyebrows with cheap fireworks. Nothing beats being outside while the air is filled with the fragrence of food grilling over a fire. Cooking on the grill is key to throwing the best 4th of July party. The menu wouldn’t be the same without authentically grilled hot dogs and burgers.
If you are throwing a party with both kids and adults, you might want to try splitting up the menu accordingly. Kids love burgers and hot dogs, but the adults might prefer something a bit more special. One great idea is to light a fire pit for the kids. Give them skewers so that they can grill their own hot dogs. While this does require supervision, your kids will have a blast — and learn a little about cooking, too.
Branch Out with Your Menu
For the adults, you might want to try one of our premium cuts of steak. We also offer a variety of prepared sides, including summer BBQ classics like potato salad and pasta salad. Best of all, our pre-prepared meals give you more time to spend with your family. You could also consider adding in a shrimp boil. These are fun, tasty and they look amazing spread out on tables! Add a personal flare to your menu with different 4th of July recipe ideas.
Don’t Forget the Sweets
The most important sweet treat of this holiday isn’t a dessert at all—it’s watermelon! Watermelon is the best summer fruit. Its slight sweetness is not too overpowering for the summer heat, making it perfect for your cookout. Another key sweet treat you must include in your cookout is banana pudding. This classic dish is served cold, which makes it apt for the hot summer months. It’s also a fan favorite amongst the kids.
Make Your Own Ice Cream
As if banana pudding and watermelon aren’t enough, we have one more dessert option for you. There’s something special about the taste of homemade vanilla ice cream. Buying an affordable ice cream machine and putting your kids to work is a great way to enjoy this great taste while keeping your kids occupied and having a blast. To top it off, set up a topping bar so that guests can customize their homemade ice cream bowls.
Text by Martha Kendall Custard