Thursday, July 21, 2011

Battle of the Bulge

Hethyr:  So, today – July 21, 2011 - is National Junk Food Day.  Yep, that’s right - a day to celebrate by guiltlessly indulging in your favorite junk foods.  One website says “When else do you have an excuse to eat all of the unhealthy snacks that you know you shouldn't eat, but really want!”  Um… seriously?  Last I checked, every day in this country is National Junk Food Day.  I was so appalled when I found out that this was an actual day that I immediately decided to do a blog post to boycott National Junk Food Day.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not a diet-Nazi.  I love snacks and sweets but, like most other things, I usually like them in moderation.  I say usually because I have occasionally been known to overindulge in ice cream – I had to bust myself out on that one since I know Jon and everyone in my family would be rushing to be the first to call me out.  ;)  I am just not a fan of a national holiday created to celebrate our obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease epidemics.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States in the past 20 years and in 2009, only Colorado (whew!) and District of Columbia had obesity rates of less than 20 percent.  Sixty-six percent (!) of states had an obesity rate of 25 percent or greater and over one-quarter of those had a prevalence of 30 percent or more.  Wow.  Check out this link with obesity statistics and a progressive map of U.S. obesity rates from 1985-2009.  It’s quite frightening.  And a very recent article from the MSNBC website shows that statistics are even worse now.  This is one reason why I am a huge advocate of homemade, homegrown and natural foods – you know what’s in them.  Back in the olden days when people grew and made their own food (next I'll be telling you damn whippersnappers about how I walked 20 miles to school uphill both ways in the snow!), we didn’t have the problems we do today with Western diet diseases.

So, although I am a fan of snacks and sweets, I am mostly a fan of homemade or natural snack and sweets - not packaged junk full of extra calories, fat, sugar, sodium, etc.  Hence my disgust at National Junk Food Day… a day honoring JUNK FOOD – not REAL FOOD.  I am going to boycott this junky day by giving you a couple of recipes for good, healthy food…

Ever heard of a garlic scape?  Most people I know haven’t, but they are delicious.  They’re the stalks of garlic plants, which growers trim so the plants will focus their energy into growing the bulbs.  The scapes themselves are bright green and curly with a bright, spicy, garlicky taste.  Upon seeing them for the first time at a farmers’ market a few years ago, I had to inquire about them and then, naturally, take some home to experiment with.  My favorite recipes to make with the scapes are Garlic Scape Pesto - a nice, spicy-ish substitute for classic basil pesto - and a vinaigrette using the pesto as a base.  I make a bunch of the pesto when scapes are in season and freeze it in batches for use throughout the year.

Garlic Scape Pesto
  • 1 cup garlic scapes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted if you want
  • Approximately 1/2 cup olive oil (you’ll have to judge this as you’re making the pesto)
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

1.  Place scapes, lemon juice, salt and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times. 

2.  With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until you reach the consistency you want (maybe a little on the runnier-side since you'll be adding cheese). 

3.  Fold in the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste. 

* Note:  This is excellent for snacking!  Use it on breads, crackers, meats, veggies, etc.  It’s also great to use in the following vinaigrette recipe…

Garlic Scape Pesto Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup Garlic Scape Pesto (see above)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Approximately 1 cup olive oil (you’ll need to judge this as you’re making the vinaigrette)

1.  In a food processor, combine Garlic Scape Pesto, vinegar, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper.

2.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil through food chute with machine running until desired consistency is reached.  Adjust any ingredients to taste if desired.

  • This is great on salads, as a marinade for chicken or shrimp, as a marinade or dip for grilled vegetable, as a dip for breads, etc.
  • I usually make dressings with my immersion (stick) blender.  You can also use a regular blender or just whisk by hand.

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Jon:  I believe I’ll begin my day with some Lucky Charms.  I like to eat all the brown pieces first so that my last few bites are nothing but soggy marshmallow pellets.  And every tasty breakfast requires a side dish, so I think I’ll opt for a nice donut log with chocolate on top and and a custard center.  Whoever first decided to mix high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup and sugar together to create a yellow paste to inject inside of donuts should be awarded a Nobel prize in chemistry!

My lunchtime will definitely be a little earlier than normal… one thing I love about eating food with virtually no nutritional value is that it doesn’t keep you full for more than a couple hours, so it’s usually possible to squeeze in an extra meal or two throughout the day.  I don’t like to cook, so I think I’ll just run to McDonald’s.  A Big Mac, fries and a super-sized Coke should do the trick.  I want to make sure that my early lunch will provide me with an adequate amount of sodium because I know that my body needs lots of salt to live.  However, every time I’ve clicked on “nutrition” to find out the stats of McDonald’s burgers on their website, I get a message saying “SRVE0255E: A WebGroup/Virtual Host to handle /nutritionexchange/ has not been defined.”  Well, I guess I’ll just have to trust them.  After all, why would the largest food chain on Earth not have their customers’ good health and well being as their top priority?  They’re on my side!

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as getting some quality couch time in after eating a big-ass meal.  Remaining completely sedentary allows digestion to occur naturally without the interference that comes from physical movement.  Since it’s such a long time until dinner, I’ll throw in an extra meal that I like to call “grazing” that lasts from about 1 to 5 pm.  I love how food manufacturers have made it so convenient with the pre-packaged ready-to-eat snacks that require virtually no time and effort to prepare beyond walking to the kitchen and opening a cabinet, or possibly putting something in the microwave.  We all owe them a debt of gratitude!  Cheetos, frozen mozzarella sticks and a Hostess fruit pie should do the trick.

It’d be nice to get some exercise prior to dinner, so I think I’ll drive somewhere so I can get in a nice walk out to my car.  Fortunately there’s a Taco Bell nearby.  I love how the tastiest and quickest food is also the cheapest.  What a great country we live in!  And if I get a few Big Beef Burrito Supremes, there will be lettuce and tomatoes on there.  So I’m getting some vegetables along with meat, cheese and tortillas… that’s like hitting four of the five food groups in one meal!  It’s a miracle!

Sometimes I puke after dinner which is totally awesome.  I’m not sure why it happens, but I know that it frees up some space for dessert!  I’m pretty old school when it comes to the sweets.  Much like my donuts, I prefer to consume dessert in log form, such as Twinkies, Choco-diles and ice cream sandwiches.   Fortunately I have all three options ready and waiting in the kitchen so I can mix-and-match as I see fit.  It’s always a little depressing to finish my final dessert of the night because it’s the last thing I’ll eat all day.  But the good news is that tomorrow will be here soon and I’ve got an unopened box of Fruit Loops waiting for me in the cabinet!

Happy National Junk Food Day everybody!!!!!  Hooray!!!!!


  1. Ugh! My stomach is doing flip-flops after reading Jon's comments, and the statistics you pointed out are extrememly scary. And now I get to sit at my desk job all day and worry about obesity. Sniff! But at least I have a fridge full of fruits and veggies, and I live in a great area for walking. :-)

  2. Sickening, isn't it?!? But I know you walk a lot and that you eat healthy food, so at least you're doing good things for yourself. It's good to counteract all that time at your desk and you live in a beautiful place for getting out and being active... plus you have like a bajillion grandkids (and a high maintenance hubby and daughters! ;)) who keep you on your toes! =)

  3. I am laughing! Jon just solidified my feelings of not eating fast food! It is still sad that Colorado as close to 20% obesity - that's not a small amount. I need to try your pesto...looks yummy!

  4. Staci, so true! 20% is huge... According to the MSN article ( NO state had an obesity rate over 20% in 1995. Now, 16 years later, all but Colorado do and we're very close at 19.8%. SCARY. Boo for National Junk Food (every)Day!

  5. I apologize for not telling you this sooner, but I LOVE this blog! The link pops up on my calendar every Wednesday so I don't miss anything. One thing though - I think Lucky Charms are AWESOME! Cindy Oehmke

  6. Cindy, we're so glad you enjoy it - we have so much fun writing it! And we'll forgive you for thinking Lucky Charms are awesome... I think we've all got our own vice when it comes to food! ;)

  7. I'm rolling on the floor laughing right now... I'm so behind on reading your blogs... I need to do what Cindy does and figure out a way to get them to open automatically on a certain day so I don't miss anymore of this delicious humour!!!