March 2008

This month I am following up on a request from a reader to learn more about high-fructose corn syrup. It?s a topic that I hear and read about regularly and happy to provide some insight and information for you. We are also gearing up for spring and now is a great time to be purchasing mushrooms and incorporating them into your diet as they are in season?Bon Appétit
-Amy Vermeer-

" He who enjoys good health is rich, though he knows it not."
~ Italian Proverb

This month's issue

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What you should know about High-Fructose Corn Syrup

If you aren?t a label reader yet, now is a good time to start. High-fructose corn syrup is a main ingredient found in many types of processed foods including soft drinks, salad dressings and processed foods (cookies, crackers, snack foods etc). It can also be found in a majority of convenience foods and baked goods.

High-fructose corn syrup is a sugar that is derived from corn syrup as it is converted into a sweetener. The reason you see this ingredient listed on so many labels is because corn is a low cost commodity and also helps give products a longer shelf life. Do you really want your body trying to digest foods that contain ingredients, which allow them to sit on our grocery store shelves for a longer period of time?

Dr. Mercola, a doctor well known in the health field and also someone I have had the privilege of hearing speak several times has even commented on the topic by saying ?Does HFCS significantly contribute to ill health in the U.S. food chain? Yes, follow the insurance companies scrambling in actuarial panic with a sudden and unexplained spike in heart attack death pay-outs among baby boomers ingesting too much HFCS and telling MDs to warn patients to get off soda and HFCS-laden prducts, for profit -- A FACT.?

In addition, studies have shown that high-fructose corn syrup can interfere with the hormones that signal our brain that we are full, which can lead to overeating. This is a prime reason why several studies have begun to link HFCS as a contributor to the obesity epidemic facing our country.

Now for some food for thought, if we were all to eliminate high-fructose corn syrup from our diets, meaning we stopped buying commercial goods that included it as an ingredient, think about the ramifications to the food industry. We as consumers have more power than we think and can help dictate what products are sold. The processed food industry would be forced to start providing consumers real food!

To reduce high-fructose corn syrup in your diet, you should start by reading food labels. This will help to avoid or limit foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup. Some other tips for cutting back on high-fructose corn syrup are:

  • Cut down on soda
  • Buy 100% fruit juice instead of fruit-flavored drinks
  • If purchasing canned fruit, make sure to buy fruit canned in its own juices instead of heavy syrup

Food Focus: Mushrooms

I have to admit that it has taken me a long time to come around to enjoying mushrooms and now is a great time to be incorporating them into your diet as their best season is spring. This amazing food is very nutrient-dense containing iron, and potassium and potassium is a mineral that helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke. Additionally, mushrooms are low in sodium and low in fat as they are made up of 80-90% water. Mushrooms have become increasingly popular to include in soups, salads, as part of an appetizer or even on a sandwich. Another great way to include this healthy food in your diet is in a stir-fry or risotto. Mushrooms add great flavor and texture and remember they don?t have to be an addition to the meal, they can be the focus. See below for a great new way to incorporate them into your diet.

Recipe of the Month

Mushroom and Barley Risotto

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yield: 4-6 servings


6 cups vegetable or reduced-sodium broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion - minced
2 cloves of garlic - minced
3 cups wild mushrooms chopped
1 1/2 cups pearl barley - make sure to rinse
5 cups baby arugula
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
1 tbsp soy butter (Soy Garden is great brand)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar


  1. Simmer and maintain constant simmer of broth and water in saucepan
  2. In separate pan heat oil, add in garlic and onion, cook until soft - about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir for 2-3 minutes. Once juices have released add in barley and stir for 1 minute. Once a majority of liquid has evaporated reduce to medium heat
  3. Add hot broth 1/2 cup at a time, continuing to add broth once most liquid has been absorbed after each addition
  4. Once all broth has been added maintain a constant simmer until barley is tender and creamy. (note, you may not have to use all of the broth)
  5. Stir in Arugula and cook for about 1 minute. Remove from stove and serve topped with cheese, butter and vinegar for dressing

Action Items:

  • Want the food industry to change their ways and start providing real food? Start eliminating high-fructose corn syrup from your diet
  • Need some new quick and easy dinner ideas? Send me an email at for some fresh and tasty meals. More recipes will also be posted on soon!
  • Help save some trees as well as save your sanity by eliminating the number of catalogs you receive each week. See below in this month?s giving back

Giving Back: Catalog choice

This month we are giving back to the environment and saving a tree or 10. In addition to saving a tree you may also simply just be tired of receiving dozens of catalogues in your mailbox each week. Go to to opt out of more than 1,000 catalogs. It?s a free service and within 10 weeks, your mail load should be significantly lower. Those who have already used the service have made over 2 million cancellations. That is a lot of trees being saved and you can help make a difference as well.

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