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Natural Awakenings San Diego

Three Twinkies a Day to Lose Weight and Improve Health?

May 31, 2012 07:25AM ● By Beverly Wilson Noble

Would you even think of eating three Twinkies a day to lose weight or maintain your health? If you eat out frequently, or use processed foods at home, you are likely eating far more sugar and fat than you realize.

Here are a few common food items that contain more added sugar per serving than one Twinkie (18 grams):

  • Commercial non-fat and fruit flavored yogurts
  • Fat free salad dressings
  • Muffins
  • Canned/bottled pasta sauces
  • Canned fruit in light syrup
  • Granola bars
  • Smoothies
  • Cold cereal
  • Sweetened iced tea/fruit juices

If your daily meal plan includes one or more of the above, you can see how just one day of pre-packaged foods can really add up. Below, I’ve listed nine reasons why it’s better for you and your family’s health to cook from scratch.

1 In addition to added sugar, many packaged food items and restaurant meals also contain added fats. Restaurant and fast food salads often contain more fat and calories than a small hamburger. Cooking from scratch will help you and your family to live a longer and healthier life by limiting sugar intake, thus reducing the risks of diabetes and obesity. You will also improve heart and cardiovascular health for increased energy and stamina by limiting fat intake.

2 Cooking from scratch also minimizes the consumption of chemical additives and preservatives that extend product shelf life but can create long-term health concerns. Preservatives are necessary to stabilize or extend manufactured food product shelf life. Chemical additives keep sauces from separating or mimic the texture of traditional foods. The cost for this convenience is the degradation of our long-term health.

3 Cooking from scratch also puts you in control. If you love chilies, you can add more! And if you can’t take the heat, you add less, or substitute bell peppers. If you love garlic or ginger, double it up…and if you prefer bland foods, you can simply reduce or eliminate the spices in the recipe. Your own personal taste rules.

4 Cooking also lets you customize your food for specific family health concerns or food allergies.

5 Cooking with your children is a great way to spend quality time together. You can learn a lot from your children while chopping vegetables or stirring soup; somehow it’s easier for children to open up when they are engaged in an activity at the same time. At the same time, they are learning important life skills. More than the specific food preparation skills, they are learning time management, organization, and even basic math.

6 Cooking from scratch is also a great way to save money. You can feed your family for a week for the cost of a single dinner in a restaurant. The classic economy meals such as soups, stews, and casseroles do take time. They also freeze well, so a weekend afternoon in the kitchen can create several meals that can go from freezer to the dinner table in minutes. And that long, slow simmering is time that can be spent doing the laundry, cleaning house, or playing a game with your children.

7 Many healthy, economical meals can be on the table in less than 30 minutes; some in less than 15. You can spend that much time in the drive-up lane at your favorite fast food spot, or sitting at a restaurant waiting for a seat. Grilling, sautéing, and stir-frying are all quick cooking techniques. Salads are another speedy choice.

8 Cooking from scratch has emotional rewards, too. At the end of a frustrating work day, time in the kitchen can be a welcome relief. It’s rewarding to see an immediate, positive, tangible result of your labor.

9 Cooking for family or friends can be a daily expression of love. So find some recipes that suit your family’s taste buds and health concerns; make a grocery run if needed, and settle in for a great home-cooked meal.

Grape, Goat Cheese & Walnut SaladGrape Goat Cheese Walnut Salad Recipe

1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
½ lb Red Flame grapes
4 oz peppered goat cheese
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted

Place walnuts in a small non-stick skillet on medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until nuts are lightly browned. Careful! They burn easily. Place lettuce on salad plate. Sprinkle on grapes, walnuts and hunks of goat cheese. Dress with Honey Mustard Dressing.

Honey Mustard Dressing:

½ cup lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp prepared mustard
1 tsp salt
½  tsp paprika
⅔ cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all the ingredients and shake well at least one hour before serving. Store in a covered container. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for one week. Re-blend immediately before serving.

Beverly Wilson Noble is the author of A Lifetime of Recipes. Visit for more simple recipes featuring seasonal fruit.

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