RANT: Psychological Tricks

Did you know that restaurants actually hire food psychologists to help craft menus?  The appetizers a menu offers are carefully selected items that actually trigger increased food consumption. These little traps are always high fat, high sodium items that have been scientifically proven to make people order more food, which in turn make the restaurants more money.

While we are talking about psychological tricks….

There is data to suggest certain colors stimulate appetite. Guess which colors are the culprits? Red, Orange and Yellow.

Other colors, like green and blue, are more calming and do not seem to increase appetite. Have you ever noticed the colors of most fast food chains signs/logos? ‘McDonald’s: red and yellow, Burger King: red and orange, Wendy’s: Red: Pizza Hut: Red, Chick-fil-a: Red, Subway: Yellow, Hardee’s: Orange, Arby’s: Red. Notice a pattern? And many restaurants use red place mats, dishes or napkins!

So avoid painting your dining room red or any of the 1st 3 colors in the Roy G Biv spectrum, same goes for table linens!

RULE: Don’t Buy it and You Won’t Eat It

Don’t buy it and you wont eat it. Ok there are some corollaries to this, which seems to happen to me frequently.  We’re at a gathering and the stars have aligned, and I am shockingly not putting a smackdown on the hors d’oeuvre table, but a friend or cousin whisks by, forcing a cracker loaded with a hot, drippy mess on it.  Though I’m not hungry, it does look delicious, so I have a spilt second to dispose of it with my mouth, or wear it on my shirt the rest of the evening.

Or alternately, I’m diligently typing away at work (probably on an important email about who’s volunteering to be the sober driver on the wine tasting tour next weekend—not me!!!) enjoying a moment when food is not on the brain, and a cheerful co-worker slides a styrofoam plate on to my desk with a slice of red velvet cake and a white plastic fork. Now for me, desserts are like sunsets.  I like them all; some are more enjoyable than others, but as a whole I thoroughly enjoy them.  Though strangely, I don’t like red velvet cake, but there is a 100% chance I am going to eat the slice now on my desk because it’s THERE staring at me. And before a can re-focus on my ultra-important email, I need to take care of it.

However, in general, if it’s not in my house, I wont eat it.  If there’s no ice cream in the freezer, I can’t scrape the carton clean. If there’re no oatmeal cream pies, I can’t finish the box. [Years ago, I actually found and demolished my roommate’s entire box of Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies one night while studying medical school. On a super tight budget, she was furious. But, after I’d replaced them, her sideways glances seemed more concerned than angry.  This was one of many clues, I needed help].

So don’t buy junk.  And don’t let your roommates buy junk.  You’ll eat it.

RECIPE: Easy Tangy Chicken and Bean Dish

Ain’t nuthin this tasty and healthy on a chinese buffet! Try this deliciously easy dinner. Packed with protein and FLA-VA-FLAV-VA! Serve it with brown rice or as is….serve it hot and IF there are any left-overs, bring ’em with you to work/school or eat ’em for lunch the next day! I do hope you enjoy…
4 cups or 1 bag (~ 20 oz) raw string beans,

1 lb organic chicken (or 1 pack of tofu or tempeh),

4 heaping Tbsp all natural peanut butter

2 Tbsp oil (your choice, but I use sesame, peanut or canola)

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup  or 2 long squirts of honey

1 clove garlic (chopped)

1 tsp pepper (optional)

crushed red pepper (optional)

10 peanuts crushed (optional)


cut beans in to 2 inch pieces

slice chicken, tempeh or tofu in to long thin strips or cubes

saute beans and chicken in canola oil or peanut oil and garlic and soy sauce for 7-10 min (until thoroughly cooked, but not over cooked)

add peanut butter and honey and pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes

sprinkle a few crushed peanuts and/or crushed red pepper on top to garnish

*all of above measurements should be adjusted to your taste

**you can also grill or bake your chicken/tempeh or tofu ahead of time and add to sauté for 5 minutes to reheat

RANT: Don’t Be Fooled

Industries follow the trends.  In the 1990s, when Low carb diets became so popular, companies began offering “low carb options”.  Low carb yogurts were on the grocery shelves and low carb wraps were on fast food menus.  When we re-learned whole wheat was healthier than its more popular processed cousin, white bread, bread companies began offering “white-wheat” or “wheat” breads, that were brown in color to attract the partially informed consumer, but were not actually whole-wheat and still filled with additives.

Now “green” is all the rage. Foods and beauty products use green fonts and the term “eco”, to make you think you are getting a natural, environmentally friendly, and therefore safe product. But marketing is a cunning machine. Sexy green labels may boost sales, but the products are often just has hazardous, chemical-laden as they were when their container looked differently.

It’s like putting polka dots and clown cartoons on matches and then assuming they’re fun for kids

We, as consumers, continuously purchase canned products, reheat left overs in the Styrofoam containers they were conveniently stored in, and drink water out of plastic bottles even though all leach cancer-causing chemicals in to the food they contain.

Labels tout ‘made using 30% less plastic’, ‘no added salt’, or “healthy white wheat”, making us think we are purchasing something healthy and good for the environment, when actually, their consumption is detrimental. (zoom in on “healthy bread” ingredients)


So demand REAL and SAFE FOOD and the industry will meet your demands. Prices will fall, local industry will thrive and we as a nation will lose weight, become healthier and we’ll all live happily ever after.

RECIPE: Black Bean Chili

Fall is in the air and nuthin’ warms you up like a nice bowl of Chili!  It’s a crowd pleaser at tailgates too!

Other than some basic choppin’ this recipe’s pretty simple

2 cans black beans (I used 3 cups of dried beans, soaked ’em over night, but canned ok)

2 cups water (filtered)

1 cup red quinoa (or brown rice)

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 pepper (green, red or yellow), chopped

1/2 white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp Cumin

1/4 tsp Paprika

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

(all ‘doses’ of ingredients are approximate– adjust, add or subtract to your liking)


Combine all ingredients together in a large pot or simmer pan and cook on med heat until beans are soft (~ 60 minutes—perhaps squeeze a work out in while it simmers?) Or let it cook all day in a crock pot, which ever is more convenient.

Add what ever you like, more veggies, a variety of beans, perhaps, and garnish with feta cheese sprinkles or an avocado slice.

easy. healthy.

dinner is served.

(don’t forget, you can freeze it and thaw later)


RULE: Freeze Everything

If a friendly neighbor drops off a pound cake, and you don’t want the extra pounds its sure to give, and you can’t refuse it or toss it. Freeze it.  If you make cookies and don’t want to eat all 22 of them in one sitting (it can be done). Freeze ’em.  You don’t want the fresh whole grain bread you bought (instead of the processed junk bread) to go bad? Freeze it.  The healthy vegetables you bought as part of your new healthy lifestyle are starting to look a little tired? chop ’em up, saute ’em or make soup with them and Freeze ’em!

My mother’s freezer has everything in it from last night’s salmon, to nail polish and spices. (she claims freezing keeps the last 2 fresh).  Her freezer actually scares me, but she can whip up french toast and london broil with the touch of a defrost button!

Now, I do prefer my food fresh and unfrozen (my nail polish too for that matter), but it’s a lot easier NOT to eat the brownies, when they are out of sight, disguised as a foil ice block, deep in your freezer, instead of when they’re singing their temptations from the kitchen counter.  It’s also a lot easier to throw away the neighbor’s delectable gift when you discover it 3 years later and mistake it for meatloaf.