If I had one dollar

November 26, 2009

Shredded Money Taco Too

I just love Twitter. I know it sounds lame and I used to scoff at it, but seriously, it’s turning into such a useful tool.

Just the other day, @jambutter tweeted about how many calories a US dollar could buy. I tweeted back and asked for source info and he passed on a note that the stats came from a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This “research” took about 45 seconds.

I did a little further digging and I found this Time Magazine article that summarized the source data well but I’ve put it in my own format:

$1US = 1200 calories of potato chips
$1US = 875 calories of soda
$1US = 250 calories of vegetables
$1US = 170 calories of fresh fruit.

Now, the obvious point is that potato chips and soda drinks are more calorie dense than fruit and veggies so you get more calories for your dollar; however, they are not more nutrient dense and that means you eat more of them to feel satisfied.

To put these stats into perspective, I turned to my colleague professional home economist Amy Snider-Whitson who always has something to say about nutrition:

“This is why we have an epidemic of obesity and people suffering from chronic diseases that healthy diets could help to prevent (…and, no wonder people can’t grasp portion control when you buy a cheap snack and end up eating half a day’s calories!).

Unfortunately, the way we produce food today makes the nutritious choice often much more expensive. So, people choose calories over content. While many, many people consume too many calories on a daily basis, not one of us can say that we are getting too many essential nutrients. One consolation is that if we invest today in choosing nutrient dense foods, we might save health care dollars in the future.”

When you’re shopping, do you consciously plan how much of your budget is spent on nutrient dense foods? Or do the ‘chips’ (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!) fall where they may?

Comfort foods

September 10, 2009

Chicken ParmigianaAccording to a recent article in Marketing Daily, comfort foods choices differ depending on age.

While baby boomers say they find classic comfort foods such as braised meats, casseroles and ice cream soothing, Gen X-ers cite fast food hamburgers and burritos near the top of their lists. While this may seem discouraging, the good news is that Gen-Y-ers like burgers but also mention sushi and fruit as comfort foods.

For me, almost all food is comforting (seriously, I get quite uncomfortable at the first signs of hunger), but one of my favourite meal choices to massage away the tensions of a long day is veal Parmigiana with spaghetti and tomato sauce; homemade is ideal but I often settle quite happily for the take away version from Abruzzo Pizza. When I need some mental health food and I’m not actually hungry, coffee-flavoured Hagen Daz ice cream is my treat of choice.

I’m not quite a baby boomer by age (that age group cut off is 1964 and I was born in 1966) but as my comfort food choices attest, I’m more like the Boomers than the Gen X-ers. However, the fact that my choices are bought foods that I note by brand is distinctly like a Gen X-er. Confusing.

What foods do you find soothing? And, if you don’t mind sharing, what age group category best defines you?

Topline Trends Tuesdays: Fried food facts

May 19, 2009

friedtempuraI’m wondering if anyone else got the memo about how North Americans are fat and make bad food choices. No? Just me? Okay then, listen up: apparently we should treat fried and battered meal and snack choices as sometimes foods. Sorry for the let-down, but it’s true.

And I’m pretty sure 99% of the people who order fried food know that information, too. Yet, we still keep buying it.

In fact, as this article in Restaurants & Institutions Magazine points out, some restaurants are thwarting the recession by offering more fried food menu items. Apparently this is one of the categories of foods that people prefer not to make at home so they visit restaurants specifically to get their fried food fixes. As a small consolation, more chefs and cooks are frying up battered veggies as well as fries and fish but they’re still selling a whole lotta fried food including pickles, twinkies and bacon at places like the Burger and Cheesesteak Factory in Athens, Georgia.

Why do we keep succumbing to the lure of crisply-cooked, lavishly-salted chicken, fish and potatoes? QSR Magazine (yeah, I know, my nightstand reading selection really could be racier!) reports on a Technomic study that asked American consumers what qualities they associate with fried food. The results reveal that these foods hit a lot of emotional triggers:

• 89% tasty
• 86% satisfying
• 83% filling
• 80% something I crave
• 77% comforting
• 71% good value

I’m guessing that a Canadian study would net fairly similar results. How about you? Do you dream about donuts, fantasize about French fries or swoon for shrimp tempura? Come on: admit it. When’s the last time you feasted on fried food?

Road food

November 4, 2008

This recent post on the Fresh from the Oven blog got my attention. After reading about how Mandy bakes banana bread for her own and her friends’ road trips, I realized that perhaps one of the reasons I don’t like road trips is because we don’t have any ritual foods associated with car travel. We usually grab coffee and gas and head out on the road. If I pack a few apples or oranges, I’m having a good day. Anything else we need, we buy along the way. Usually that stuff is disappointingly bad.

What about you? Do you have special road trip foods? Do you pack a picnic lunch or deal with the horror that is roadside fast food?

French fry holder

September 16, 2008

It’s been boring around our house in the evenings the last week or so. There is nothing on TV (next week is premier week – yeah!) and I’ve been dieting so baking cookies and coming up with creative snacks has been off my roster. How have I filled the time? Getting caught up on my reading. And look at the kind of stuff I missed while I spent the summer getting pudgy! A cup holder adapter for holding fast food French fries was invented! Amazing, isn’t it?

Despite soaring gas prices and greater awareness of how gas emissions harm the environment, we haven’t abandoned our cars. Instead, commuters who fled to the hills when faced with sky-high urban housing prices overburden our roads. Because these people spend many hours a week in their cars, the way we use our cars has changed, too.

Entertainment systems, massaging heated seats and cup holders galore are now pretty standard in most new passenger vehicles while some luxury cars now come with air chilled glove boxes and console coffee makers for people too lazy to even go through a drive through.

I personally prefer to eat at a table but I suppose it’s nice to know that if I ever become fused to the seat of my car that French fry consumption has been figured out for me.

What about you: do you eat in the car often? And, if you do, do you like it or endure it as a necessary evil?