Rhonda’s Cooking


Archive for July, 2008

What Are These Ingredients?

Posted by rhondascooking on July 19, 2008

Do you know what you are eating whenever you eat a trail mix bar or drink all natural 100% fruit juice? What about sugar free syrup or fat free salad dressing? Time and time again, I hear people who say that they are “watching what they eat”, but yet they eat foods with ingredients that are full of high

Trailmix Snack Package

Trailmix Snack Package

fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, food colors/dye, etc. I think that people focus so much on the nutrition facts—which are important—that they do not focus on the ingredients found in the products.

Let’s take a test. Based on the following main ingredients, guess what product contains these (answers at the end):

1. High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, strawberry puree concentrate, glycerin, sugar, modified corn starch, sodium citrate, citric acid, sodium alginate, malic acid, Red #40, wheat flour, …

2. Partially hydrogenated soybean and cotton seed oils, caramel color, corn seed oils, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, glycerin, artificial flavors, BHT, citric acid, …

Now, I don’t know about you, but initially I didn’t know what many of these ingredients were, let alone what they did for the body! So, after really studying many of these ingredients for my clients, I learned some frightening things such as the purpose of hydrogenated oil (I’ll discuss the other items in a future newsletter).

Hydrogenated oil is an ingredient that is commonly found in many of the popular foods on the market. It is unsaturated fat that is processed to make it more saturated and solid at room temperature and is used to make products last longer.1 Hydrogenated oil has a direct impact on the amount of Trans fatty acids found in foods, which raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and lowers your HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Sometimes you may see a zero listed for Trans fat on the nutrition facts label, but also see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils listed in the ingredients.

Why is zero listed on the label and not the actual number? Well, because of rounding, a product with 0.5 Trans fat is allowed (by Federal government) to be listed as “0 Trans fat” on the nutrition facts label! So, please be careful and pay attention to BOTH the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredients list before purchasing your food and drinks; then you will know if the product is really healthy!

ANSWERS: 1. General Mills Fiber One Bars, 2. Quaker Chewy Bars with Peanut Butter and Chocolate

1Duyff, Roberta Larson. Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.

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Can Food Really Help Arthritis?

Posted by rhondascooking on July 19, 2008

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is something that I have been challenged with

Normal & Arthritic Joints

(picture from medicinenet.com)

since 1995. RA is an inflammatory, autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues.1 I spent many years in excruciated pain in my hands; so much pain that I couldn’t even hold my toothbrush or button my pants/shirts. The pain would last for an entire day before calming down and then it would take 3 days before the swelling and soreness would go away. When these situations occurred, this was called a “flare-up” (inflammation). Initially, I would get these about 3 to 4 times per year. I tried every home remedy and drug, (Celebrex, Vioxx, Arava, cortisone drugs/steroids (such as prednisone), hydroxychloroquine, and methotrexate injections, but nothing worked permanently; these were all short term fixes and the pain would always return.

So after many years of dealing with yearly flare-ups, in 2005 after meeting Dr. Don Colbert, I learned that there were many different foods that could trigger one to have inflammation when diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. After reading his books as well as other studies on arthritis, I decided to put all of that information to the test. I decided to stop eating foods that would make me have a flare-up. The following is a list of foods that could trigger rheumatoid arthritic reactions:

Foods that Trigger Inflammation (“flare-ups”)
Corn Wheat
Pork Oats
Rye Eggs
Beef Coffee
Chicken Oranges
Turkey Grapefruit
Shellfish Milk & dairy products
Night shade plants (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants & bell peppers)

By now, I know that you are in shock! You are asking yourself what are going to eat if you take away these foods. Well, I am here to let you know that you can do it with time and with the right recipes. In my upcoming cookbook (available this fall), I will have a lot of recipes for people with arthritis.  Here are some of the foods that I typically eat:

Foods that Won’t Cause Inflammation
Cold Water Fish Dark Leafy Greens
Ground Flaxseeds Pineapples
Turmeric Sardines
Garlic Whole Grains (no wheat)
Ginger Fresh fruits (no oranges)
Natural Nuts/seeds Olive oil
Flax oil Fresh/Frozen Vegetables




I can tell you that right now in my life, I finally feel better than ever since being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis! I can now wake up EVERY morning able to hold my toothbrush and get dressed without a problem! So for me, not eating a piece of chicken or having my favorite coffee was okay.

So how do you get started? Start slow and remember that not all of these foods listed will impact everyone the same. In order to find out if it causes inflammation in your body, you must remove all of the items from your diet for 2 weeks and then slowly introduce them back one by one. If you still can’t tell and are still having pain, shoot me an email because there are a few other things/strategies that you can do to help you live pain free! I am telling you the truth, it really does work!!! I no longer take any medications for rheumatoid arthritis!

1Kamhi, Ellen, and Zampieron, Eugene. Arthritis. California: Celelestial Arts, 2006.

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Gadget of the Week: OXO GOOD GRIPS® Salad Spinner

Posted by rhondascooking on July 19, 2008

OXO GOOD GRIPS Salad Spinner

OXO GOOD GRIPS Salad Spinner



The OXO GOOD GRIPS Salad Spinner was indeed a lifesaver in my kitchen, especially when I started to change my diet and eat more salads.  Though salads are wonderful and nutritious—especially the ones without the extra ranch/Caesar dressing—they are a lot of work to prepare!  The biggest chore for me was washing the lettuce (3 times) and drying it!  During my pre-salad spinner days, it would always take me about 30 minutes just to wash and dry each leaf without damaging the leaves.  I felt there had to be an easier way to wash my lettuce. 


After receiving my first “manual” salad spinner as a gift, I realized that not all salad spinners are the same; some spinners require more work than others.  For instance, some spinners have a handle at the top that require you to turn (or pull) in order to make the basket spin.  On the other hand, there are some—like the OXO Salad Spinner—that only require you to push (or pump) the handle in order to make the basket spin. Of course you know that once I tried the OXO spinner, I began to get excited again about making salads because it didn’t take me an hour just to prepare things!


The OXO Salad Spinner is about $30 and is available in various kitchen/department stores as well as online.  For the best deal, be on the lookout for that $5 or 20% discount coupon from Bed, Bath, & Beyond, you will only play about $24.  You can get Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupons if you sign-up for their mailing list either in the store or on the website? (Please be advised that once you sign up you’ll start getting them after about a month.)


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Cracking the Code of Food Labels

Posted by rhondascooking on July 12, 2008

Do you ever read that white label on the back of your foods called Nutrition Facts?  Do you understand everything on that label and its impact to you?  Have you taught your children (if you have children) how to read these labels?  If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions, have no fear because after reading this article, you will be able to crack the code and understand how to read food labels.


The food label below is an example of the information that is typically found on packages of the food that you buy.*  Sometimes the labels look like this one or sometimes when there isn’t enough room, the nutrition information is listed in a delegated space on the package.  Nutrition facts listed on packages are required by the Federal Food and Drug Administration in order to ensure that foods are safe for consumers.   





So the next time you reach for that bag of Cheetos® or that 16oz “all-natural” juice, be sure to check out the number of servings before you eat or drink the whole thing!


*if you cannot see the label clearly, please email me at info@rhondascooking.com and I will email the image to you.


Posted in Food, Health | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Help…I Have a Craving for Something Sweet!

Posted by rhondascooking on July 12, 2008

I don’t know about you, but I have huge sweet tooth!  As a matter of fact, when I first found out that I was allergic to cane sugar and yeast and intolerant to eggs and dairy, I said to myself, “How am I going to bake my cakes and pies?!”  I was devastated with a capital D!  So, instead of being angry, I decided to figure out what foods could I eat that would not only be good to eat, but also healthy.  


So what can you do if you are feeling like you need something sweet?  Of course the best thing to do is eat fruit especially those that are season—these are in its peak and are very sweet.  (To find out what’s in season this month, please check out my article on Summer Foods.) 


Here are a few foods (there are more) that you can eat to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings without putting on all the weight!  Please note that you should only select one of these listed items and eat once per day (in the quantity that’s listed)! 


Food Quantity
Whole Fruit  1 or 2
Fruit Smoothies 8 – 10 oz
Fruit Sorbet 1/4cup (1scoop)
Non-dairy ice cream (Rice Dreams, Soy Dreams, etc) 1/4 cup (1 scoop)
Non-dairy ice cream bars (Rice Dreams, Soy Dreams, etc.) 1 bar
Bora Bora bars 1 bar
Cliff Bars 1 bar
Lara Bars 1 bar
Granola (Bare Naked, Feed, etc.) 1/4 cup  
Enjoy Life Cookies 2 cookies
Newman’s Own cookies 2 cookies
Pamela’s Product (cookies) 2 cookies
Country Choice (cookies) 2 cookies
Rhonda’s Mini Muffins 3 muffins
Rhonda’s almond butter cookies 2 cookies
Rhonda’s Granola 1/4 cup



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The Gadget of the Week: Joyce Chen Bamboo Steamer

Posted by rhondascooking on July 12, 2008

This week’s gadget a classic cookware in Asian cultures—the bamboo steamer.


What’s so special about this bamboo steamer?  Well, for starters, this hand-made Chinese design dual steamer traps steam and has a high bottom which keeps vegetables from sitting in water. I love it also because it also holds a lot of food and cooks in less time than the traditional metal pots.   


Bamboo steamers absorb moisture, prevent condensation and retain heat after cooking. There are several different sizes of bamboo steamers and they can be purchased at any Asian grocery store, online, or kitchen/department stores.  Currently, Amazon.com has the Joyce Chen Bamboo Steamer available for just $9.95!  

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The Obsesity Crisis

Posted by rhondascooking on July 4, 2008

I know that by now you have heard that in the past 30 years, obesity has increased tremendously amongst adults and children.  Though the numbers have doubled for adults in America, so has the dramatic increase for children.  Moreover, the increase in obesity has also expanded globally.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.6 billion people (ages 15 and up) and 20 million children under age 5 are overweight and 400 million adults are obese, globally1!  The Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to classify overweight and obesity, which is based on one’s height and weight.  When the BMI is between 25 – 29 then it is categorized as overweight, and when the BMI is over 30, then it is labeled as obese (click to see the chart). Please note that the BMI is NOT used to diagnose people, but it is simply a marker that many organizations use.


It is important for us to be happy with ourselves, but it is equally important for us to be healthy and to strive to take care of our bodies. Being overweight or obese could cause other health implications such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. So, please, consult with your primary care physician before making abrupt changes that could impact your health.  If you have any questions or would like to see more data, please contact info@rhondascooking.com.   


1 “Obesity and Overweight.”  September 2006.  World Health Organization.  July 2, 2008 <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/index.html >.

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Don’t Become another Statistic

Posted by rhondascooking on July 4, 2008

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the number of people with diabetes has increased to 24 million people in the United States—this is an increase of more than 3 million in about two years.1 In addition to this increase, there are another 57 million people who are estimated to have pre-diabetes, which puts them at risk for diabetes—this is an increase of 16 million people in over two years.  Unfortunately, analysis indicated that those 57 million people will have a 50% chance of becoming full-blown diabetic in ten years.


Type 2 Diabetes is the most known category of diabetes and accounts for over 90% of the diabetes cases and many times there are no symptoms.  Studies have shown that the following are high risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes2:

  • Over age 45,
  • Have a close family member with diabetes,
  • African American, Latino, Native American,
  • Overweight or obese,
  • Physically inactive,
  • Low HDL Cholesterol levels or high triglycerides,
  • Past gestational diabetes or delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds. 


You can beat the odds of ever becoming a statistic by making a lifestyle change through physical activity and food choices. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Exercise 30 minutes at least 3 days per week (increase to 5 days)
  • Eat at dark green and dark yellow vegetables
  • Eat only 2 servings of fruit per day (1 svg of strawberries = 5 or 6 medium strawberries)
  • Consume at least 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil or 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds daily
  • Eat more whole grains instead of the “enriched grains”
  • Eliminate all foods made with “high fructose corn syrup”
  • Use agave syrup or stevia instead of cane sugar



1 “Number of People with Diabetes Increases to 24 Million.”  June 24, 2008.  CDC Division of Media.  July 2, 2008 <http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2008/r080624.htm >.

2Vaccarello, Elizabeth, ed. Prevention Outsmart Diabetes.  Rodale, Inc.  2006. 

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The Gadget of the Week: The Slow Cooker

Posted by rhondascooking on July 4, 2008

This week’s gadget is the traditional, basic slow cooker (sometimes called Crockpot®)!  Slow cooker meals are excellent for the summer months—especially for those of us in temperatures over 110 degrees!  All it takes is a little preparation in advance and then you are good to go.  No heating up the kitchen and only 1 pot to wash!   I have used my slow cooker to cook red beans, pot roast, collard greens, and even barbecue chicken!


There are many brands on the market and each function basically the same with some minor improvements such as a digital clock! The only major difference in my opinion is the lid—yes, the lid!  It is important to select a slow cooker where the lid is completely sealed in order to avoid the water evaporating during the cooking process.  So be careful when selecting the slow cookers that are oval shaped.  Make sure that you inspect the pot before you purchase; take it from me, you don’t want to come home after work to find that your meal has been burned because there was no more water in the pot!

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