Why I Enjoy Sour Cream Daily

dollop of sour cream

People have been harsh on Sour Cream. So smooth, full and tasty – the very definition of creamy. How can folks say anything bad about you? You make everything better: as an add-in to the brownie mix, the heavenly cloud on a baked potato, the delicious peak of beef stroganoff – you are one of my greatest loves, Sour Cream.

Sometimes people ask me how I am able to stay in a relationship with sour cream and my other favorites while being thin.

Let me tell you, I am not ready to jump on every new band wagon or fad diet and follow the advice of the most recent TV doctor featured on the morning shows. I have a simple solution for staying thin that’s plain old common sense. I call it the ‘everything in moderation’ technique. Though, it’s really not a technique at all – it just sounds more dignified when I write it down to call it so.

Here’s how it works: I eat everything in moderation. There was once a time in my life where I might just consume the entire carton of ice cream in one evening. I knew this wasn’t really a reasonable thing to do. My body was calling out for a change. If my belly could talk it probably would have said something like “Change! Make a change that still allows for dreamy, rich sour cream!” I could have eliminated one thing from my diet entirely: fats or sugars or carbs or soda. But I didn’t want to make myself miserable. So, I went the everything in moderation route.

Fat isn’t bad or evil. Our bodies need it to function, to survive. Fat is supposed to be part of our diet. Just not tons of it. Don’t get drastic – you don’t have to say goodbye to your favorites forever and start playing them pop songs about never ever ever getting back together. You have options, light and fat-free versions are available! Have yourself some fat – in moderation.

Including some fat in your diet may actually help you keep your diet, because fat means satisfaction. My taco just doesn’t look or taste complete without a dollop of Lilly Sour Cream. I smile when I see it. I’m happy when I eat it and I don’t miss out on anything. And when I’m done eating, I’m satiated. Which is that full and content feeling that lasts when your stomach is full of substance and deliciousness.

Enjoy your food and use common sense. Do not give up on sour cream!

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Saying No to Chemical Additives

food coloringFor our grandparents, shopping for food used to be so easy! “Bread” meant wheat, water and yeast. Milk was, well, milk. A cookie meant wheat, sugar, butter, baking powder and maybe vanilla.

But now, with factory-made foods, chemical additives can be found in most of the foods we buy, especially those found on the inner shelves at the supermarket. The list of ingredients on some of these products is downright scary!

Here’s an example – the list of ingredients found in a popular cereal:
Sugar, whole grain corn flour, wheat flour, whole grain oat flour, oat fiber, soluble corn fiber, contains 2% or less of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut, soybean and/or cottonseed), salt, red 40, natural flavor, blue 2, turmeric color, yellow 6, annatto color, blue 1, BHT for freshness.

And here’s the ingredients list of a fat-free sour cream brand:
Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Skim Milk And Milk, Dried Corn Syrup, Food Starch-Modified, Contains Less Than 2% Of Starch, Artificial Color*, Cream**, Maltodextrin, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavor.

Compare this list with Lilly fat free, that simply contains cultured nonfat milk!

So, do we really need all these additives? The Center for Science in the Public Interest places all artificial colors in the “CAUTION” or “AVOID” category. It recommends cutting back on corn syrup and avoiding BHT. If you scroll down the page, you will find a list of banned additives that makes things even scarier, because it demonstrates how additives that may be considered safe at one time, may later turn out to be toxic.

Since so many companies are using chemical additives with little regard for consumers’ health, it is up to us, the consumers, to read nutrition labels carefully and make sure we buy products that are as clean as possible. So instead of just randomly picking a cereal at the grocery store, read the label, go over the ingredients list, check to make sure there are no artificial colors in the product, no BHT, and as little sugar as possible.

The more consumers demand clean food and avoid chemical-laden products, the sooner food manufacturers will come to realize that they have to become conscious of what they are putting in the food they make. This is not just about shelf life, flavor or look – this is about our health, and we deserve better. We deserve food that looks good, tastes great, and is good for our health.

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Back to Basics

What does “clean eating” mean to you? To more and more people, it means refusing to consume artificial ingredients. It means going back to basics – to eating the foods that our grandparents and great grandparents used to eat. Many feel that commercial food production in the United States has gone completely out of control – that in companies’ quest to make products that taste good and have a long shelf life, they had lost all consideration for consumes’ health.

So we see products that contain additives – preservatives, thickeners, flavorings and colorants. We see products with a looong list of ingredients, most of which we cannot recognize or pronounce. Many of these products don’t even taste that good anymore – they taste chalky or overly sweet, or they might leave a weird after-taste. But even if they do taste good and never spoil – what price do we pay, in terms of our health, for these conveniences?

The good news: more and more consumers are rebelling against the food giants. They want wholesome, natural brands. They want a short, clean list of in ingredients. And now, after the Atkins and the South Beach revolution, we also know that many doctors believe that fat – in reasonable amounts – is not inherently bad for us. Certainly not the fats found in olive oil, avocado and nuts, but even the fats found in dairy are not necessarily bad for our health, in reasonable amounts. If anything presents a health hazard, it’s sugar and artificial ingredients.

So sour cream… we have to mention sour cream, after all that’s what we do! Sour cream with a clean list of ingredients, no thickeners, no additives – the same sour cream that your great grandmother used, creamy and delicious – when used in small quantities, to add creaminess to mashed potatoes or scrambled eggs… to add richness to cake batter… to make delicious dips for chips and crudites – this is real food, natural food, wholesome food, and as always when it comes to food consumption, as long as you exercise portion control and don’t over-indulge, go ahead and enjoy it! And if you want a creamy, delicious, and truly guilt-free experience, you can always opt for fat free or light Lilly sour cream- as Sam the Cooking Guy always says, they really are delicious!

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Let’s Eat Real Food

dairy productsI’ve been reading, with great pleasure, Jeffrey Steingarten’s book, The Man Who Ate Everything.

Steingarten has been the food critic at Vogue magazine since 1989. The book provides a fascinating peek into his life, travels and food experiences- and also into his opinions on nutrition.

I love Steingarten’s firm stance, that food should be real. His chapter about the low-fat diet fad is especially entertaining, because he makes fun of some unfortunate low-fat cookbooks that have basically taken the pleasure out of eating and are advocating a very liberal use of processed stuff (butter substitutes, egg substitutes, artificial sweeteners etc.) Inedible! He determines, after trying to make some of the recipes.

I agree. Food should be nutritious, and it should definitely not be bad for us or make us sick (as a diet too-high in sugar and saturated fats might eventually do). But food should also be enjoyable, satisfying, and – above all – it should be real. Many attempts at creating food substitutes that would be “better” than real food have turned out disastrous – one of the examples Steingarten mentions is the fake fat Olestra, which was supposed to provide us with the experience of real fat but without the calories, but turned out to cause digestive problems and -worse – to deplete the body of important nutrients.

So where does that leave us? I believe it leaves us with what we always had – the basic rules we seem unable to escape. Eat real food, in moderation, and emphasize plant-based foods. Eat lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes. Add some dairy (milk, cream, yogurt, cheese and sour cream) and eggs, fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids and – sparingly – poultry and lean meats.

Eat these foods until satiated, but not uncomfortably full. Drink plenty of water. Stay away from processed foods and minimize consumption of sweets. And you should do fine!

Of course, this is not as sexy as saying “I found a pill that would enable us all to pig out yet stay slim!” — but so far, each and every time we thought we found the magic cure to our western-world food struggles (abundant food, too little activity), it backfired in a major way.

So back to the basics we go – and let’s start with eating real food.

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Sour Cream Tips and Tricks

We get lots of emails asking us all kinds of questions about sour cream. Here are a few tips and tricks that we’ve compiled over the years.

1. Here is something that hopefully goes without saying: sour cream should always be refrigerated. Just like any other dairy product.

2. Some liquid separation may occur after opening the container and is normal. Simply stir it back in, or pour it out – this is completely up to you and will not affect the product’s quality or taste.

3. Unfortunately, you can’t freeze sour cream – it separates when thawed.

4. Sour cream is a wonderful thickener and can add creaminess to many sauces. Just remember that in order to avoid curdling, sour cream should be at room temperature, and sauce should be cooled slightly, prior to adding the sour cream.

5. Sour cream tastes best when very fresh, and when free of additives, thickeners and preservatives.

6. Sour cream is a baker’s friend! Add 1 cup of Lilly Sour Cream to your cake batter and you’ll get an amazingly moist and fluffy cake. Sour cream can replace yogurt, and part of the milk, in most recipes, and the result will be richer and creamier.

7. Sour cream is also a cook’s best friend! Add a dollop of sour cream to, well, almost anything for extra creaminess – including risotto, guacamole, scrambled eggs… the options are limitless!

8. Original sour cream contains 5-6 grams of fat per serving. Some commercial brands also add thickeners such as gelatin, flavors and salt, so if you want a pure product, choose Lilly!

9. If you would like to enjoy the flavor and texture of sour cream but are watching your fat intake, light sour cream (2-3 grams fat) and fat free sour cream (no fat) are both excellent options.

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Is Low Fat Healthy?

sour cream and berries

I read with great interest an article on the Washington Post, saying that strict low fat diets are not necessarily healthy.

It’s interesting how for years everyone thought that fat was the enemy, but over the last few years, we are beginning to realize that our bodies need fat – certainly the healthy fats found in olive oil or fish, but even small amounts of saturated fats are not necessarily bad for us.

Interestingly, more and more health professionals are focusing on sugar, not on fat, as our main health issue. As we were removing fat from foods, they became bland, so we had to add something to make them taste better – and in many cases, that something was sugar. Lots of sugar.

Now, unlike fat, sugar is 100% bad for you – no question about it – the less you consume, the better. This New York Times article basically tells us that sugar is toxic – and the fact that there are guidelines to limit fat consumption, but not sugar consumption, is absurd.

As the descendant of a Dutch family, where fat ruled but sugar was consumed sparingly (think Dutch butter cake, where the high fat content gave the cake so much flavor and texture, only a little amount of sugar was needed), I know firsthand that one can consume fats while staying healthy, active and thin.

It’s not that we’re advocating eating saturated fats with abandon! And of course, your own doctor’s advice must come first. But we do believe that it’s time we stopped viewing fat as “evil” and started feeling more comfortable about consuming it in small quantities.

We’re absolutely better off eating a natural food that contains some fat over consuming fat-free processed foods that are laden with sugar, artificial colors and flavors, in a desperate attempt to make them appealing despite the lack of fat.

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