Three Years Soda Free

Around June of 2009, I decided to stop drinking soda/pop. I stopped for a few reasons.

  1. Bloat
  2. Sugar
  3. Tooth stain

An added bonus: I stopped eating a lot of processed foods because I finally could taste just how crappy they were without carbonated sugar clouding my judgement.

So just how bad is soda for you?

1. Weird Fat in Weird Places

In the latest bad news for the soda industry, Danish researchers discovered that drinking non-diet soda leads to dramatic increases in fat buildup around your liver and your skeletal muscles, both of which can contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes. The study revealed that people who drank a regular soda every day for six months saw a 132 to 142 percent increase in liver fat, a 117 to 221 percent jump in skeletal fat, and about a 30 percent increase in both triglyceride blood fats and other organ fat. Their consumption also led to an 11 percent increase in cholesterol, compared with the people who drank other beverages such as water or milk.

2. Diet-Soda Belly

It’s not surprising that drinking all the sugar in sodas would cause weight gain, but what is surprising is that even diet soda will pack on
the pounds: Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center monitored 475 adults for 10 years, and found that those who drank diet soda had a 70 percent increase in waist circumference over the 10-year study, compared with those who didn’t drink any soda. Those who drank more than two diet sodas per day saw a 500 percent waist expansion! A separate study the same researchers conducted on mice suggested that it was the aspartame, which raised blood glucose levels, that caused the weight gain; when your liver encounters too much glucose, the excess is converted to body fat.

3. Caramel Cancer-Causers

In 2011, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban the artificial caramel coloring used to make Coke, Pepsi, and other colas brown. The reason: Two contaminants in the coloring, 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, have been found to cause cancer in animals, a threat the group says is unnecessary, considering that the coloring is purely cosmetic. According to California’s strict Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, just 16 micrograms per person per day of 4-methylimidazole is enough to pose a cancer threat, and most popular brown colas, both diet and regular, contain 200 micrograms per 20-ounce bottle.

4. Mountain Dew Mind

Dentists have a name for the condition they see in kids who drink too much Mountain Dew. They wind up with a “Mountain Dew Mouth,” full of cavities caused by the drink’s excessive sugar levels. “Mountain Dew Mind” may be the next medical condition that gets named after the stuff. An ingredient called brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, added to prevent the flavoring from separating from the drink, is an industrial chemical used as a flame retardant in plastics. Also found in other citrus-based soft drinks and sports drinks, the chemical has been known to cause memory loss and nerve disorders when consumed in large quantities. Researchers also suspect that, like brominated flame retardants used in furniture foam, the chemical builds up in body fat, possibly causing behavioral problems, infertility, and lesions on heart muscles over time.

5. Whacked-Out Hormones

It’s not just the soda that’s causing all the problems. Nearly all aluminum soda cans are lined with an epoxy resin called bisphenol A (BPA), used to keep the acids in soda from reacting with the metal. BPA is known to interfere with hormones, and has been linked to everything from infertility to obesity and diabetes and some forms of reproductive cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have pegged soda cans, along with restaurant, school, and fast-food meals, as a major source of exposure to the chemical. And while Pepsi and Coke are currently locked in a battle to see which company can be the first to develop a 100 percent plant-based-plastic bottle—which they’re touting as “BPA free”—neither company is willing to switch to BPA-free aluminum cans.

For more facts about soda, click here.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: STOP DRINKING SODA! Ok, well at least make an effort to drink less.

Healthy Super Bowl Snacks

Every year the Super Bowl comes around, I have a Cat Hair in my Coffee moment and throw out my healthy eating. Well, this year won’t be any different! (Well, it will be kind of different since I’ll be running before I pig out.)

Some people certainly have more will power than me, and for that, I commend them. So for those who like to save a few calories on Super Bowl Sunday, here are some recipes that won’t blow a button off your jeans.

1. JALAPENO POPPERS

Jalapeño Poppers Recipe

  • 12-18 whole fresh jalapeño
  • 1 cup nonfat refried beans
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
  • Olive oil or canola oil cooking spray

PREPARATION

  1. Make a small slit on one side of each pepper. Place the peppers in a large microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on High until just softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine refried beans, cheese, scallion and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
  3. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, scrape out the seeds with a small spoon (a 1/4-teaspoon measuring spoon works well). Fill each pepper with about 1 tablespoon of the bean filling, or until the pepper is full but not overstuffed (the amount will depend on the size of the pepper). Close the pepper around the filling.
  4. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  5. Place flour in a shallow dish. Lightly beat eggs in another shallow dish. Combine cornmeal and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a third shallow dish. Roll each stuffed pepper in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip in egg and let any excess drip off. Then roll in the cornmeal mixture. Place the peppers on the prepared baking sheet. Generously coat all sides of each pepper with cooking spray.
  6. Bake for 5 minutes. Turn each pepper over and continue baking until hot and the filling starts to ooze in a few spots, about 5 minutes more.

TIPS & NOTES

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the filling (Step 2) for up to 1 day.
  • Kitchen tip: Touching hot peppers can “burn” your hands. Wear rubber gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after handling them.

NUTRITION

Per popper: 87 calories; 4 g fat ( 2 g sat , 1 g mono ); 39 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 2 g fiber; 419 mg sodium; 119 mg potassium.

Carbohydrate Servings: 1/2

Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1/2 high-fat meat

2. CHEESY CRAB DIP

Cheesy Crab Dip

  • 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup fat-free milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more sprigs, to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 pound imitation crabmeat (surimi), coarsely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Sliced carrot, celery, cucumber and radishes, for dipping

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, milk, dill, Worcestershire sauce and garlic salt. Fold in imitation crabmeat. Spoon mixture evenly into prepared pie plate. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over top.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned. Cool slightly.

4. Garnish with dill sprigs and serve with sliced vegetables.

3. MINI TURKEY BURGERS WITH GORGONZOLA

Mini Turkey Burgers with Gorgonzola Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced sweet gherkin pickle (about 2 small)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 (1-ounce) dinner rolls
  • 6 curly leaf lettuce leaves, torn in half

Preparation

  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add cheese, stirring with a fork just until combined. Divide turkey mixture into 12 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/4-inch-thick patty.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 4 patties; cook 2 minutes. Carefully turn patties over; cook 2 minutes or until done. Place patties on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Repeat procedure with remaining patties. Cool patties to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap; freeze until firm. Place in a single layer in zip-top plastic bags; freeze up to 3 months.
  3. Thaw patties overnight in refrigerator.
  4. Preheat oven to 400º.
  5. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place patties on baking sheet in a single layer; cover with foil. Bake 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Keep warm.
  6. Combine mayonnaise, pickle, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Cut rolls in half horizontally. Spread about 1 teaspoon mayonnaise mixture on bottom half of each roll; top each with 1 turkey patty and 1 piece lettuce. Cover with tops of rolls. Serve immediately.

Even though some of these aren’t meat-free, I still think they all look delicious!

For more game day recipes, check out this post.