Clean Spicy Tuna Cakes

Looking for a clean source of protein that won’t blow your grocery budget? You probably already stock one as a pantry staple: canned tuna.  I know, it’s not the most exciting food in the world, but with a little creativity you can take your tuna to another level (without the mayo usually used in tuna salad).  With roughly 30 grams of protein per four-ounce serving, canned tuna is one the best bargains for a clean eater.

Ingredients (4 patties):

  • 2 (5 0z) cans water-packed tuna, drained

  • 1 Tbsp (1 oz) spicy brown mustard
  • 1 Tbsp (1 oz) hot sauce
  • spices of choice (I used several shakes of garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, and plenty of cayenne)

the usual suspects

  • 2 Tbsp oat flour (I ground rolled oats in a food processor, but you could use quick oats)

  • 3 Tbsp liquid egg whites  (or one whole egg white)
  • 3 oz broccoli, finely chopped (you could use any combination of veggies: celery, onion, bell peppers, etc.)

  • cooking spray

Ok, these instructions couldn’t be any easier…ready for it…  Mix.  Divide.  Cook.  Serve.

Seriously?  You need me to elaborate?

MIX all ingredients.

DIVIDE evenly into fourths and shape into patties.

COOK in a skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.

SERVE.

I placed mine atop a bed of baby spinach and topped it all off with avocado.  You could add any of your favorite toppings: salsa, Greek yogurt, guacamole…or if you’re anything like me, extra hot sauce 🙂

Idiot proof, easy on the wallet, easy on the waistline.  What more could you ask for?

Thoughts on Thursday: The Health Halo Effect

Wandering through my local grocery store a few days ago, I noticed a disturbing trend among the products displayed on the aisle end-caps. Products that for all intents and purposes are nutritional wastelands are being marketed and labeled making them appear wholesome choices for you and your family.

Big food companies (the likes of Kellogg’s, Nabisco, Post, General Mills, etc.) have grown wise to the fact that Americans are becoming more health conscious and are attempting to improve their diets.  Seeing an opportunity to cash in on the trend, these processed food companies are slapping nutritional buzz words like natural, organic, and most recently gluten-free onto product labels, in a feeble attempt to make their “food” appear more nutritious. Let’s get a few things straight here folks.  The FDA has no clear cut definition of the term natural, and as such a company can label virtually any product all natural.  The term organic refers to the manner in which a food is produced (i.e. without the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and additives), not necessarily how nutritious it is.

Case(s) in point:

Simply Natural White Cheddar Cheetos from the kind folks at FritoLay…

So they’re made with sea salt…they’re still Cheetos, just as devoid of quality nutrition as the original.

Looks like fat laden, cheese-flavored air…but hey, they’re natural.

Nutella Chocolate Hazelnut Spread from Ferrero (yes, that Ferrero)…

Nutella’s manufacturer recently got into a bit of hot water over misleading the public to believe that their product carries nutritional and health benefits, marketing it as part of a nutritious breakfast, leading to a $3 million settlement and an agreement to change the product labels and some marketing statements.  Of course the current label still reflects Ferrero’s idea of a “balanced breakfast”: slapping Nutella onto whole wheat bread and paring it with both skim milk and orange juice.

Sounds like a whole lot of simple carbohydrates, very little quality protein, and virtually no healthy fats…very balanced indeed…

WhoNu? Nutrition Rich Cookies…

You and your impressionable kids have probably seen commercials for these “nutrition rich” cookies recently…

Newsflash: the vitamins and minerals these nutritional wastelands contain were added by way of fortification.  In other words, the company synthetically added vitamins and minerals into a food that does not naturally contain them.  Kind of like justifying eating a handful of Skittles by following it up with a multivitamin.

Lest you think you’re better off with the nutritional powerhouses in the “natural and organic” section of your local grocery store, the innovators at Earth’s Best Organic bring your family these Letter of the Day cookies…

Whether you call it organic evaporated cane juice or just plain sugar…it’s still a simple carbohydrate, devoid of any nutritional value.(Sidenote: I thought Cookie Monster was no longer all about the cookies…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you can find MilkBite Milk and Granola Bars in the refrigerated section from the masterminds at Kraft Foods…

Placing them along the perimeter of the store…clever move Kraft.  But you aren’t fooling anyone.

Don’t even get me started on the claims about providing the calcium of a glass of milk, vitamin D, protein, and fiber.  They fail to point out the whopping 10 grams of sugar, the fact that the measly 3 grams of fiber and the paltry amount of vitamin D are both fortified (read: not naturally occurring).  Here’s a thought: instead of relying on a food loaded with fractionated palm kernel oil and soy lecithin for your body’s calcium requirements, try incorporating more greens like broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts, and kale that provide more absorbable forms of calcium along with a slew of other important, naturally occurring micro-nutrients (think vitamin K, C, magnesium, manganese, and boron).

Saving the best for last, the lovely people at Kellogg’s bring you Eggo FiberPlus Chocolate Chip Waffles…

Providing 35% of your daily requirement of fiber (in the form of added oat fiber) and “rich” in antioxidants, vitamin E, and zinc (all by way of fortification)…along with a laundry list of ingredients ranging from soybean and palm oil to soy lecithin and various forms of sugar.  Looking for the convenience of a frozen waffle but want actual nutrition?  Make a batch of these  over the weekend, freeze, and thaw when you’re ready for them.

So the question is, are consumers actually falling for this blatantly deceitful marketing? Unfortunately it appears as such. According to a 2010 study published in the psychology journal Judgment and Decision Making, the majority of subjects believed that organic cookies were lower in calories than conventional cookies and could be eaten with greater frequency. Similarly, when considering a woman with a weight loss goal, the subjects believed forgoing her planned exercise regime was more acceptable solely because she opted for an organic rather than conventional dessert. It seems the “halo” of buzzwords like natural, healthy, and organic lead people to believe a food is lower calorie and therefore more acceptable to eat with reckless abandon. Marketers take full advantage this misinformation among consumers, simultaneously expanding the wallets of big food corporations and the waistlines of well-intentioned consumers. Don’t let the labels fool you, that organic Oreo is still an Oreo and has no business being in your grocery cart.

Bottom line: Don’t buy into the hype and marketing on the front of the package. Turn it over and read the nutrition label and the ingredient list.  (Hint: if it has more than two ingredients, chances are it isn’t real food and will do nothing to support your health.)  Better yet, try to avoid foods that come with a label and a bar code.  Instead, opt for whole unprocessed foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.

Monday morning Motivation

So be honest…how many times did you hit the snooze button this morning?  Need a little kick in the pants to get yourself back into the gym?  Trying to find the right time to start cleaning up your eating habits?

A few motivating words to kick start your week…

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting.”
— Buddha

“A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.”

— John Henry Newman

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

—Sally Berger

“If we wait until our lives are free from sorrow or difficulty, then we wait forever. And miss the entire point.”

— Dirk Benedict

“Don’t wait.  The time will never be just right.”

—Napoleon Hill

[source]

Bottom line: stop looking for the right time to start a healthy habit, you’ll be waiting forever.  Stop talking about your fitness goals…make them a reality!

Clean Crock-Pot Pork Tenderloin

“I don’t have time to eat well.”  “Eating clean is way too complicated.”  “It’s so much easier to head to the drive-through.”

Clean eating doesn’t have to be time consuming, complicated, or intimidating.  Case in point: my crock-pot pork tenderloin.  The actual prep time is very minimal and you’re free to go about your day while the slow-cooker does all the work for you!

Seasoning Mixture

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pork tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat and broken down into chunks
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • salt&pepper to taste
  • cooking spray (go for an olive oil or coconut oil)
  • 2 c water (or low-sodium chicken stock)

Part 1:

Blend the seasonings (garlic powder through pepper) in a small dish.  Rub the pork with the prepared seasoning mixture.

Brown the pork in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Note that the goal here is not to cook the meat all the way through, just to sear the outside.  Do not crowd your pan; work in batches if necessary.  Once all the meat has been browned, transfer to the bottom of your slow-cooker and then cover with water (or stock).  Cook on high for about 2 hours, then reduce the heat to low for an additional 3 to 4 hours.

Now you could stop there…and believe me, with the smell emanating from your kitchen, it’s going to take some serious willpower not to just dig right in.  But with a little extra effort you can mimic traditional southern pulled pork barbeque.

Part 2:

Preheat your oven to 425, or for the brave and impatient preheat the broiler.

Pour off the cooking liquid through a sieve, reserving about a cup.

“Fork” your pork!

After “forking” your meat should look like traditional pork barbeque.  Pile into a foil lined baking sheet and then cover with your reserved cooking liquid.

Roast the pork, flipping every five to ten minutes (more frequently if you opt to use the broiler).   Continue until the liquid evaporates and the edges of the pork become crispy.  Set a timer and keep an eye out so you don’t burn the meat!

Once it’s finished, just add some fibrous veggies (yay broccoli!) and a quality fat source (avocado, anyone?) for a complete clean meal!

If you’re feeling really ambitious you can make your own vinegar based barbeque sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (go for the good stuff, raw and unfiltered)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less depending on how spicy you prefer)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Stevia extract (or Splenda or a bit of honey can be substituted if you prefer)

Whisk ingredients together until well mixed.  Serve over your pork!  If you wind up microwaving leftover pork, the extra liquid will help to keep it from drying out.

If you don’t bother with the second step of the process, this meal will take you no more than 10 minutes of prep time.

Enjoy!