Tag Archives: produce

Are you eating too much “highly” processed food?

Find a processed food


Which of the foods in the picture is a processed food?  TRICK QUESTION!! All of them are.  I’ve posted before about how we need to be more specific in defining the term “processed food”.  Almost everything we eat is processed.  Some of that processing is good, since it makes food safer to eat, such as pasteurizing milk or cooking meat.  Or making wheat into flour into bread can be a good kind of processing, depending on what is done to preserve nutritional quality.

I read about an interesting study that looked at purchases of processed foods (for an abstract of the actual study, click here).  The authors used data from more than 100,000 Americans who barcode scan their grocery purchases.  They categorized the foods purchased into varying degrees of processing – minimally, basic, moderately, and highly processed.  Unfortunately, more than 60% of purchases in the study were shown to be highly processed foods.  Also discouraging, when looking at the nutritional impact of these purchases, most of these foods were high in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar.

Clearly, we have some work to do as Americans.  We should skip that frozen lasagna and instead buy some noodles, canned tomatoes, and low-fat mozzarella cheese on our own.  Then we can control the salt and fat levels in our foods.  We should eat less convenience and ready-to-eat foods.  Cooking doesn’t have to take a long time, as shown by many of the recipes on this site – BELT sandwich, Black Beans and Rice, Cauliflower Quesadillas, Polenta with Sausage Ragu, Tilapia with Tomatoes and Green Beans, and many more.

One limitation to the study is that the data is limited to foods that have a barcode.  Most fresh produce doesn’t have a barcode.  So the proportion of purchases going to fresh produce isn’t accounted for.  This could mean that our diets aren’t so bad.  But the take home message remains that we should decrease the level of processing in the foods that we buy.

Happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!


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Minimizing food waste

Perfection is in taste, not appearance

I admit to not being the most “green” person. While I try to recycle and take other small steps to be environmentally friendly, it isn’t my highest priority. However, I recently saw some alarming statistics: about 40% of all food produced in the Unites States is thrown away and that the average American throws out 20% of their vegetables and 15% of their fruit. Unlike the two articles reporting these, my first thought wasn’t related to how much that adds to the landfills and greenhouse gas production.

My first thought was in the wasted money. Much of that discarded produce was purchased and then thrown away without eating it, often due to spoilage. If you think you can’t afford fruits and vegetables, you definitely can’t afford to just throw them away. I hate when something spoils before I use it, because all I see is money going into the trash can. Here are some tips to reduce how much produce you throw away:

1. Take inventory at home before you go to the store. This reduces double-buying an item.

2. Make a detailed list and stick to it. Know how much you need of a particular item so you don’t overbuy. For example, I needed tomatoes this last week for a few recipes. I forgot to right down how many I needed, so I purchased several extra tomatoes that I need to quickly find a use for. Also, don’t buy an item just because it is on sale. I often get excited to see berries or melons on sale, but if you don’t have a plan for how it will get eaten, it will just go bad.

3. Rotate your produce. Make sure if you buy new items, they go behind or below the older ones already at home. That way the produce most likely to spoil is getting used first.

4. Store your produce wisely. Here is a handy graphic with some great tips on where to store different types of produce as well as foods to keep separated. Another great tip: separate your bananas when you get home. They will ripen more slowly this way.

While I have admitted to not be very “green”, I do agree with the article talking about the ugly vegetables. Don’t be afraid of a vegetable just because it doesn’t look perfect. Remember, you don’t look perfect either, but the vegetable is willing to take a chance on you. Happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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How to eat more vegetables? Grow your own!

Spring has arrived. Garden centers and plant stands are opening everywhere. While buying fresh, seasonal produce at the grocery store or farmer’s market is great, growing your own can be very rewarding. If you don’t have space for a traditional garden, try a container garden. Here are some tips on getting started with a traditional or container garden.

– Starting from seeds can be more cost effective than buying plants but definitely takes more time, planning, and work. If you haven’t already started your seeds, you may be too late for the year. Just go for plants this time around.

– Pick a few starter plants. You don’t need to try and replace the entire produce section at the grocery store. Think of what you use the most or what you find the most cumbersome to buy. Herbs are a great place to start. I hate how much it costs to buy fresh basil, so I made sure to include that in my plants this year. I buy a lot of tomatoes and especially enjoy the special varieties of cherry tomatoes, although they can be a bit pricey. So I planted my own, as well as a traditional plant.

– Read up! There are a lot of gardening resources out there, in print or online. Find a good reference source to help you know timing, feeding, watering, etc. for each of your plants.

– Get everyone involved. If you have kids, let them help you plant, water, or harvest as is age appropriate. If they feel some ownership in the vegetables, they might be more willing to eat them.

– Don’t give up. If one type of plant fails, keep trying with other plants. Gardening is a trial and error process. My dad had a garden when I was a kid. He wasn’t very good at growing peas or tomatoes, but squash he could grow really well.

Happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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