The Maurice Reeves Rule for Food Substitutes

July 21, 2010
Having a wife who’s diabetic and having weight issues of my own, I have often notion of “real food” versus “engineered food”, or “food substitute.”
By real food I mean genuine food you can identify, with products you can readily identify.  For example, a steak and a salad is real food.  You know where they both came from.  Fruit salad is real food.  A fried egg is real food.
Food substitutes are things like Muscle Milk, Luna Bars, those Cookie Diet cookies.  They were engineered and created in a lab.  You’re not stocking a jar of soy protein isolate in your pantry.
And the whole notion of engineered foods bothers me a bit.  I don’t think people should eat it.  It’s not good for you, despite the claims.  And here’s how I think I can prove it, with a simple rule:
If after eating Food Substitute X, you are still craving Real Food Y, then Food Substitute X was not worth eating.
Let me give you a concrete example:
Who among you has eaten a steak dinner, with a salad and a baked potato and said “You know what would really go well with this?  A Slim-Fast.”  I venture none of you.  But how many of your food substitute eaters have dutifully drank your diet shakes and eaten your magic diet bars and a half-hour later, an hour later, sat there thinking “I WOULD KILL FOR A DONUT.” I venture all of you.
And you know what?  Most times, you probably end up caving, especially in times of stress, which in these modern times, feels like all the time.  So what you’ve really done is increased the total number of calories you’ve eaten, felt guilty because you still cheated on your diet, and felt miserable because you ate something you didn’t really enjoy.
I say, ditch the food substitutes.  Eat the real food.  Enjoy your steak, enjoy your bowl of pasta, and feel contented in knowing where your food came from, and how sated you really are.
(FYI – I have cross-posted this to my other (often neglected) blog: I Have A Lot of Nothing To Say.)

Why Exercise Every Day?

May 20, 2010

Exercise every day?  I know that seems a bit much.  Can there really be a benefit to exercising every day?  Maybe I’m just the kind of guy who likes to exercise.  I mean, I do, but is it really important to exercise EVERY DAY?


And I’m not the only person who feels that way.  More and more, doctors are calling for daily activity, even for kids.  The Mayo Clinic calls for at least 30 minutes every day.  The NIH says it as well.  And there are wonderful physical benefits from exercise every day, being stronger, having a stronger heart, being more flexible, you’re less likely to break bone later in life, etc.  But it’s not just about the immediate health benefits of the exercise itself that are important.  Exercise helps you sleep better at night.  Exercise helps you age better, and can stave off mental decline as you get older.  Exercise helps you to relax and feel a sense of peace, even on busy hectic days.  Exercise gets you outside and not stuck in the house.  Exercise helps you meet other people.  The long-term benefits of daily exercise greatly outweigh any of the objections that can be reasonably raised, and at all ages.

For kids, exercise, gym class, sports helps kids get to know their peers.  It helps them to gain coordination.  It helps them figure out how to work together and solve problems as a group.  It teaches them how to work towards a goal.  It can give them a sense of accomplishment.  Yes, they can get these things in other places, but to couple these benefits together with all the wonderful physical things exercise does, makes it all the more important that we get kids doing it right now.

But wait, there’s MORE!  It is said that it only takes 21 days of repeated effort to turn something into a habit.  And once you develop the habit of doing something good for yourself, you’ve won most of the fight. Having the habit makes it easier to stick with it.  It feels like second nature.

Which is why I want the schools to have gym every day.  If kids get in the habit of running, playing, being active every single day, not just at recess, but in gym as well, then it will be become habit.  It will feel natural for them to get out and exercise each and every day.

And I don’t mean lifting weights or plyometrics or “serious” exercise.  Going out and playing soccer for 30 minutes with your friends is as good as jogging, or better.  Playing dodgeball, climbing a rock wall (or a tree), kickball, they all give you the benefits of health, and clarity, and longevity, getting beaned in the head in dodgeball aside.  And if it happens in school, it will happen, because it will be built into a consistent schedule.

So this is why I’m seeking gym every day in schools.  And I encourage you to get out there and exercise every day as well.

You won’t believe how wonderful you feel in just 21 days.

How to Get Some Real Food in Your Life

May 13, 2010

There are a few quick and easy way to get some real food in your life:

  1. Buy a share of Community Supported Agriculture.  Community Supported Agriculture is where a farm sells a portion of their product directly to people in the community instead of to stores or processors.  They typically offer different sized shares for different families.  Some ask that you come help at the farm and even give you a discount if you do.  Others just sell you the food directly.  Some of the farms that offer CSAs are the very same ones that sell to the grocery stores, but you’re often getting it cheaper and fresher than your store does because it doesn’t have to go some central warehouse to be redistributed.  Another wonderful thing about CSA shares is that you are never quite sure what you’re going to get.  This gives you a chance to stretch your culinary skills as you adapt to the new items you get.
  2. Shop at a Farmer’s Market.  A lot of towns have a local farmer’s market these days, and it’s a great place to get some real food.  Not only are there farmers selling their wares, but other foodies as well: bakers, butchers, coffee roasters, cheese makers, and they’re all making it fresh, and selling it directly to you.  The bread you get at your local megamart is nothing like the taste of a fresh warm bread made from four simple ingredients: water, yeast, flour, and salt that has just come out of the oven.  Go, shop your farmers market.  You’ll be surprised and impressed.
  3. Shop the edges at your local grocery store.  If you can’t or won’t go to the CSA, and the farmers market is not your thing, you can still minimize the amount of junk in your house by shopping the edges of your grocery store.  What do I mean by this?  Well, picture your store.  It’s probably a big rectangle.  At one end are the fruits and vegetables.  At the other side is probably the milk and dairy.  At the back end are the typically the butcher, and the deli.  Where’s all the junk food?  In the middle aisles.  If you just shop the edges, buying fresh vegetables, fresh meats, and skip everything in the center, you’ve gotten real food in your house.

If you’re interested in a CSA, look online.  Two very good ones in the Harrisburg area are:

Shared Earth Farm

And Spiral Path Farm

Happy cooking!

What Do I Mean By “Real Food?”

May 7, 2010

I wanted to put together my thoughts on what I mean by “real food.”  If I’m going to be pushing for it in the schools, and advocating it to families, then I should have an easy-to-understand definition.  And for this, I actually prefer to paraphrase something Jamie Oliver said:

“If you read the list of ingredients, and it sounds like your grandma’s kitchen, then serve it.  If it sounds like it came from a lab, throw it out.”

At first glance, this may sound a touch simplistic, and a little dangerous even, since it’s not unknown for grandmas to work their magic with Wondra Flour or Gravy Master, and both of these are products of the processed food age, but what Oliver was saying was, if you look at the back, and you can find all of the whole ingredients in Grandma’s pantry, then use it, otherwise, it’s not fit to serve.  And both Wondra Flour and Gravy Master are not fit to serve.  Gravy Master is made with, in part, hydrolyzed soy protein and corn protein.  Grandma doesn’t have or make a batch of hydrolyzed soy protein, unless she’s busy boiling tofu in sulfuric acid, and then treating it with caustic soda.  (Maybe Grandma works in a lab?)

So, the rule really is, if it doesn’t sound like something you could make at home without enlisting a lot of chemicals, you probably shouldn’t use it.

And for the record, I’m not sure where that leaves lutefisk.  Debate still rages as to whether it should be classified a food at all.