Restaurant Secrets Revealed… thank you Dr. Oz!

Image: DoctorOz.com

The thought of a lemon in my water at a restaurant makes me queasy… I used to love it, but now, unless I have it at home I simply can’t do it… My thanks to Dr. Oz for letting us in on some of the SHOCKING RESTAURANT SECRETS. Many are common sense (did you really think restaurants have the time to wash the lemons, cut them up and serve them to you with a gloved hand?)…

This is from the DoctorOz.com website (click on above link to see from his site), it will change the way you eat out… Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t STOP me, it just helps me make wiser decisions… Like how the h#!! can a lemon be truly that nasty?? Oh, heavy sigh…

Secret: Restaurant lemons are often as dirty as the floor.

Most restaurants never wash their lemons. They stay in the box that they were shipped in until they end up on your plate. In an independent test, Dr. Oz discovered five out of five lemons from five different restaurants were coated with germs including mold, bacteria, staph and Candida yeast – the type found in the mouth and vagina.

Ohmygosh! Enough said… No more lemons out… EVER.

Solution: Always order your lemons on the side and squeeze them into your drink or onto your plate yourself. Make sure that the juice doesn’t touch the germy lemon rind.

Secret: A dirty bathroom means a dirty kitchen.

Although it may seem counterintuitive to associate a restaurant’s bathroom with their kitchen, these two places often share the same level of cleanliness. If a restaurant can’t be bothered to keep the toilets and sinks clean, then imagine what their refrigeration and workspaces look like in the kitchen.

Never really thought about this one… but it makes sense, if they can’t keep the places that you see clean, then holy cow… No more restaurants unless bathrooms are C L E A N !

Solution: Do not eat at a restaurant where the bathroom trashcan is more than half full. This means the bathrooms are not being regularly monitored and cleaned.

Secret: Buffets are breeding grounds for bacteria.

Part of the danger of buffets is that the food sits out at inconsistent temperatures. The food on the bottom is burnt, while the food on the top is too cold. Additionally, you don’t always get real ingredients at buffets. A recent test from West Virginia University concluded that scrambled eggs from two restaurant buffets were not made from real eggs. Instead, the samples were made from liquid egg substitutes containing less protein and more water.

Thank goodness I’m not a buffet type gal… never liked em… I call it ‘achhoooooo food’ – of course there are exceptions, but for the most part, this is a good rule. And eek, those eggs you think have lots of protein may not have any at all… 

Solution: If you want to eat at a buffet, go when it first opens to ensure the highest quality of freshness. For for lunch, aim for noon, and for dinner, go at 5 p.m.

Secret: The daily special is often a bad choice.

Restaurateurs know that many diners will order a special, and consequently raise the price. Sadly, the daily special may not actually be special; instead, they are usually made of the food the chef needs to get rid of fast. This includes aging meat and fish, old veggies and leftover sauces – all of which could cause a nasty case of food poisoning.

This one is N E W S  T O  M E ! Since the “specials” usually cost more, thought there was something “special” about them… 

Solution: If the day’s special appeals to you, don’t be shy about asking the waiter questions about the ingredients.

Secret: Veal is often actually pork.

Veal is expensive meat; often, restaurants will swap it out for pork. Once the meat is pounded and slathered in breadcrumbs and sauce, only a discerning diner can tell the difference.

Eyeeeew, I don’t care for slathered meat… so I don’t have to worry about this one, whew!
Solution: Ask for veal to be grilled and never breaded. It’s healthier and you can more easily assess the quality of the meat.

Secret: All-you-can-eat deals contain low-quality foods.

When it comes to food, you get what you pay for. Anything that’s all-you-can-eat is usually either low quality or food made from starch or heavy in fat.

Makes sense! I don’t like all you can eat places… I don’t like big portions, therefore thought of it as a waste, without realizing it’s super cheap to start with…

Solution: If you want to get an all-you-can-eat option while dining out, order pasta, grains or veggies; avoid any meat.

Secret: Decaffeinated coffee masks as caffeinated coffee.

If you order coffee past 8 p.m., it’s most likely decaf. Restaurants don’t want to wash two pots so they often use one and fill it with decaf. It saves them time and money to serve only one option.

For this one I say…. YAY! On the show they mentioned that it’s better this way, than to order decaf and get regular… So true! THANK YOU RESTAURANTS FOR DOING THIS!! I can’t tolerate any caffeine at night and a cup of regular coffee would do me in until morning. I know. It’s happened.

Solution: If you need caffeine, order an espresso or cappuccino. Because these options are made when you order them, there is a better chance they are caffeinated.

Eat smart y’all, catch you back here tomorrow!

Foods that should never cross your lips… # 7!

Image: Prevention.com

We are wrapping up a great segment of Foods That Should Never Cross Your Lips (very insightful article by Prevention magazine). I’ve tried to present this to you one food at a time so that you can adjust and make the switch (at least on those that are meaningful to you)… I realize it’s difficult to make a big change all at once, but little by little it seems to be more possible! This week’s food to avoid? Conventional apples. Ugh. It’s one of the harder ones for me, just because organic apples cost so much more than conventional, but after you read this I think you’ll agree, it’s worth saving up for your apples… unless you want to wash and peel… then you lose some of the vitamins and fiber, but at least you are also losing the chemicals!

Conventional Apples

Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods, gives us the scoop:

The problem: If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson’s disease.

The solution:
 Buy organic apples.

Budget tip: If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them. But Kastel personally refuses to compromise. “I would rather see the trade-off being that I don’t buy that expensive electronic gadget,” he says. “Just a few of these decisions will accommodate an organic diet for a family.”

Whatever you may decide, I just wanted you to have the latest information. For now, unless I hear otherwise, organic apples it is…

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Foods that should never cross your lips… #6!

Image: Prevention.com
Image: Prevention.com

This is week six of the foods that should never cross your lips. This information is from Prevention magazine… to read the article in it’s entirety click HERE. My thought was to give you one food a week to try to change to, or at the very least know about… seems like it’ll stick with you better than all at once. At the bottom I’ve included the list of foods we’ve covered this far. This week’s food to avoid… milk with artificial hormones. From the Prevention magazine article:

Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones

Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society, gives us the scoop:
The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. “There’s not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,” admits North. “However, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”

The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.

Budget tip: Try Wal-Mart’s Great Value label, which does not use rBGH.

This is one I am faithful about. I usually buy Horizon or if I’m at Whole Foods I’ll buy their brand. Will also try Trader Joe’s with no hormones… we drink 1%, we used to drink skim (regular with hormones/antibiotics all that stuff) and it had a blue’ish tint… WHY would that be? 1% seemed to be better. Interestingly enough when I had the no hormone/antibiotic added skim milk it WAS. NOT. BLUE. Therefore. I won’t drink “regular” milk… it’s not worth it to me. My opinion, but one I believe in.

So… to recap the past weeks:

1. Canned tomatoes

2. Corn-fed beef

3. Microwave popcorn

4. Non-organic potatoes

5. Farmed Salmon

6. Milk produced with artificial hormones

Next week will wrap up this segment!  So add NO ADDED HORMONE milk to your grocery list and I’ll catch you back here tomorrow!

Foods that should never cross your lips… #5

Image: Prevention.com
Image: Prevention.com

I may have mentioned once or twice how much I value the information that comes from inside the Prevention magazine pages? Chock full of information to help you live a long healthy life. This is a fantastic article (click HERE for link to full article) about what foods you really shouldn’t eat (or at least TRY not to) and WHY… Today… the 5th… FARMED SALMON… here’s the blip from Prevention Magazine:

Farmed Salmon

David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish, gives us the scoop:

The problem: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. “You could eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. “It’s that bad.” Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.

Budget tip: Canned salmon, almost exclusively from wild catch, can be found for as little as $3 a can.

Now to recap the past weeks (or click on the HEALTH tab to scroll through)

1. Canned tomatoes

2. Corn-fed beef

3. Microwave popcorn (sorry dad)!

4. Non-organic potatoes

5. Farmed Salmon

Two to go… wonder what they’ll be? Hint… if you just can’t wait you can click to read the full article! Catch you back here tomorrow!