Thursday, July 29, 2010

Just Say No to Agave

I remember last year when I really kicked my healthy eating up three thousand notches, and I wanted healthier alternatives to sweeteners. Through friends, and just seeing it on shelves, I decided to try blue agave syrup/nectar.  It is touted as a wonderful low glycemic sweetener with health benefits by some "health gurus".

Everyone nowadays has heard about the health issues associated with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). About 30 years ago marketers and food producers discovered that the sweetener HFCS was way cheaper to sweeten foods than regular table sugar.  The power of the almighty dollar wreaks havoc once more.

The problem with HFCS is what happens are our levels of insulin are elevated, and then they stay elevated. Elevated insulin levels can lead to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, aging, arthritis, and osteoporosis.  Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the level of glucose, a simple sugar that provides energy, in the blood. We need insulin, but not too much.

If we did not have insulin our bodies wouldn't be able to process (sugar) glucose, and then we wouldn't have energy. Insulin also helps to rid our blood of by-products that are not healthy for us.  Insulin stores sugar when we have eaten too much, and it stores it as a compound called glycogen. This is where those glycemic levels come from that we hear so often.

When we have too much sugar in our bodies, and our glycemic levels get too high, then the sugar gets transformed into fat stores in our bodies. People get into trouble with diseases like diabetes because the bodies of people that have diabetes have stopped producing insulin. 
 Ever hear that saying that if something sounds to good to be true, that it probably is, well...this IS one of those cases. While agave does taste good, it is not good for you at all. As a matter of fact, the blue agave plant is what is used to make tequila, it is a sugar alcohol. 

Agave syrup or nectar (things always sound better with the word nectar attached) actually is toxic to our systems. When it enters our bodies, our systems treat it the same way it does HFCS. The problem is the fructose. Agave has higher levels of fructose than HFCS. It is the fructose that puts it over the top. Its true that it is a low glycemic sweetener, and that is actually the problem. 

I had someone tell me once that he didn't believe what I was saying because he didn't feel the same way after eating agave that he does after eating HFCS.  I can attest to the fact that we can't always trust how we feel.  I am a big advocate of getting regular blood tests.

Anyway, back to the insulin resistance, when consuming agave on a regular basis what it actually does to our bodies is tell our bodies that our insulin is no longer needed. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells of the body become resistant to the effects of insulin, that is, the normal response to a given amount of insulin is reduced. As a result, higher levels of insulin are needed in order for insulin to have its effects. That's where insulin shots come in for diabetes patients.

So my recommendation is to stick with what we know the Lord approves of being fruits and raw honey for natural sweeteners.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Any Fellow Tea Drinkers?

I have always loved drinking tea. I know there have been debates over the year with tea versus coffee, the caffeine content, the fluoride content, and so forth.  I have always enjoyed tea as a source of warm comfort, and it tastes wonderful with these maple cookies that one of my friends makes. (By the way I will post the recipe for those cookies at the bottom, they are to die for with or without tea...hehe, health and nutrition blog, huh.)

The health component to tea, which is highly attractive, are the polyphenols, naturally occurring antioxidants. Recently a good friend of mine asked what exactly antioxidants are so I figured some other wonderful people might be wondering the same thing. Antioxidants protect our over all health by fighting those pesky free radicals.

Specifically antioxidants are nutrients in our foods that can fight and ward off damage from something called oxidation. Basically, when we breathe in oxygen, which of course we need, it is also used by our cells. Unfortunately,  nasty by-products of this process are called free radicals.  These free radicals are what cause cancers, macular degeneration, and other diseases.  So on the level, antioxidants are like superheroes for our bodies.

Back to tea, I really enjoy it.  I used to love chai, but I don't really consume black teas anymore. I will occasionally reach for green ones. I love honey bush and passion herbal teas. I also enjoy chamomile. When I am sick I reach for echinacea and tulsi.

What are your favorites?

Here is the cookies recipe:

I wish that I could say this was my own concoction, but it is another one of the wonderful Dreena Burton.

Maple Walnut Cookies

1 1/4 cup + 1/3 cup whole spelt flour
2 tbsp maple syrup or rapadura
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp of vanilla extract (alcohol free if possible) or vanilla powder
1 tsp maple, almond, or more vanilla extract
1/4 cup organic expeller pressed coconut oil
1/2 walnuts broken or crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Lightly grease baking stone with coconut oil

Combine and mix dry ingredients with a bamboo spoon in a stainless steel bowl
Dump in the wet ingredients
Mix altogether, the batter/cookie dough should be a little dry
Use stainless steel spoon to scoop of cookie dough
Roll in palm of hand
Then gently flaten just a bit
Bake for 11 minutes

Obedience or Legalism

Just thought I’d share that I recently got into a discussion with friends about the way I eat, being one of the crazy Christians choosing to actually follow Yahweh’s instructions in the Old Covenant as well as the New Covenant. They told me to be careful not to Judiaize or become legalistic. Now if I don’t eat with someone or look down on someone because let’s say they eat some bacon, then that is wrong for sure. Salvation is gained by the grace and mercy of God alone through the wonderful act of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Its not about us. After all we are all sinners, not one greater than another. Romans 3:23 says: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

However, I do think it is unwise to eat that bacon simply because it is disobedience to what Yawheh said. Is not disobedience sin? Leviticus 11:3-8 says: "Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat. 'Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you. The rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 'the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 'and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. 'Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you. "

I always thought that that term “Judiaizing” was referring to people telling others that they must do certain things, like eat a certain way or be circumsized to be a Christian, and that’s how you are saved along with what Jesus did (ie. when Peter was acting a fool and Paul reprimanded him). Many Christians will justify eating certain things though by quoting these verses in Acts 10:9-14: "The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean. And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common."

Something my pastor has always taught me though is to read things in context. He says a great way to understand more about scripture and verses is to read 5 verses above and below the one you are talking about, and there you will usually see the bigger picture. In addition to that the last time I checked God's Word was unchanging, and Yahweh says what He means, and means what He says. Therefore I do not understand why as Christians we ignore atleast 1/4 of the Bible, especially when it makes good sense. 

If you read those verses in Acts further you will learn that Peter didn't even take the dream literally, he knew there was symbolism in it. The Lord used animals and the term unclean because it was something in Jewish culture that was automatically understood.  Acts 10:17 says, "Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate. " The dream didn't have anything to do with food. It was referring to the Jews and the Gentiles, and the fact that Jesus came to die for all men and women.

Everyone is in different places in their walks with the Lord.  Everyday is a new day to serve him with our whole hearts. The Lord has brought me to a place of surrender with food. I realize that food can be a religion all its own to people, and they are not very quick to give up on old habits, especially if the gov't has been telling you all your life that something is good for you. Regardless, if you know something is bad for you, and on top of that the Lord said not to do it, and then is it ok? Is it a wise decision?

In the book of Romans in chapter 14 the apostle Paul did speak specifically about food. You can read the verses in completion to yourself, but basically what Paul says is that we are not to look down upon others because of what they choose to consume.  I wholeheartedly agree.  He says if want to be a vegetarian, great, and if you want to be an omnivore, that's great too, God is more interested in where your heart is at that time. What Paul didn't say was to totally disregard the Torah, otherwise known as the first five books of the Bible.

Paul was bringing the Gospel to Gentiles, and they did not know of the dietary guidelines.  They didn't have bibles like we do today, everything so conveniently written and laid out for us.  Paul didn't want these men and women fretting over whether they ate shrimp that afternoon for lunch.  He wanted to make sure they knew who Jesus was, and how they themselves can be saved. He knew more than anyone else how the legalism flowed through the culture.

Here though lies my point, as Christians we are to be salt and light. Stressing right now the salt part, we are to be preservers of life in a world that is so twisted, backwards, and lost.Yahweh gave us these guidelines not to be tyrannical, but to help us live in the world He created. He knows what is best for us, not just spiritually, but physically as well.

There is so much physical illness in the church, that need not be there. I firmly beleive that yes, the Lord allows certain people to go through certain situations for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with what a person did.  I also believe that a lot of illness could be prevented if we looked at what Yahweh said in the beginning and just paid it some mind. Scientifically it all checks out as well.

When Yahweh made the world he gave us all that we'd ever need to sustain our lives. Then when sin entered the picture not just Adam and Eve fell, the world fell right along with them.  Yahweh set up this awesome food plan for His people so they could stay healthy, strong, and thrive simply because He loved them. Yes, from the moment we are born we begin to die, but until that time comes, when the Lord calls me home, I want be a good steward of what the Lord has given me. This body is not my own.

 It is true that we will never be able to keep all of the guidelines all of the time because we are a fallen people in a fallen world. Nevertheless, when the Lord grants us wisdom and knowledge about a particular area, I believe that we should do our best to listen.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Maple Syrup and Formaldehyde

Over the weekend I was in Whole Foods, and much to my dismay the price of their 365 brand maple syrup had risen $3 more to a whopping $18.99. It had already increased an entire $1 just a few months ago. It makes me wonder what is going on with that particular industry that Whole Foods had to raise their prices yet again, and so steeply. 

This raise in price has kind of caused an issue in my house because we use maple syrup and raw honey for all of our sweet treats. Both are already extremely expensive to purchase. I am going to write the company to find out why there has been such an increase in price.  Up until now Whole Foods has had the best price in town, or really anywhere even online. 

At any rate I was standing in the isle very dismayed, and next to me was a gentleman and his older son.  He seemed nice enough, and I shared my discontentment over the price of the syrup.  I had also shared the information about how certain producers of maple syrup use additives or even poisons such as formaldehyde in the maple sugaring process, especially with grade A syrups. He was unaware of this fact, and was happy to be informed.

Grade B syrups rarely were processed with formaldehyde. Grade B syrups also have a richer maple taste, and are better suited for what my needs in the kitchen are anyway, so I was happy to be buying an organic grade B.  I use it for pancakes, waffles, cookies, muffins, and other baked goods.

I have to share though that I recently learned that the state of Vermont has outlawed the use of formaldehyde in their processing. I can't saying anything for other places right now, but for Vermont I am certain.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Contemplating a Food Co-op

Well, I recently found out that the sweet family whom I was purchasing the raw goat's milk for my "cat" has decided to stop selling to the public. It is very hard work taking care of a goat farm.  I was completely sympathetic to the family, and really respect them for knowing their boundaries.  They are putting their family time first over profit, and that really honors the Lord.

At any rate that has left me with a really big conumdrum because now I don't know where I am going to get raw goat's milk from for my "cat" :)  Truly though, our "cat" cannot consume cow's milk, and the goat milk in the store is for one way too expensive, and for two is ultra-pasteurized...ewwww! Don't get me started on why the state of NC won't allow raw milk to be sold, but rather tobacco is rampant.

On the other hand, let me get started..just a little bit anyway. The terrible rumor, or more like lie that pasteurized and homogenized milk is good for our bodies is so atrocious that I could scream. It's all about the dollar in the wallets. The Lord my God made animals to give us milk just the way He provided it, not to be run through a machine that heats it up so much that it kills every healthy, living bacterial microbe in it, which then those hot temperatures actually make it toxic to our bodies.

"Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe; they will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons. These teachers are hypocrites and liars. They pretend to be religious, but their consciences are dead. They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanksgiving by people who know and believe the truth. Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it. We may receive it gladly, with thankful hearts." 1 Tim 4:4 

Yes, even organic milk, if it is pasteurized and homogenized is not healthy. Did you know that more people have actually become sick or died from pasteurized and homogenized milk than raw milk? For more information on raw or real milk go to

Case in point is that I need the raw goats milk. So I looked into other options, and truly there are not too many, other than driving extroadinarily far distances, which seems obsurd. One exciting option that seems to have viability is starting my own food co-op. There is one already in the area that has a ton of raw and probiotic rich foods. The problem is that it is full. 

So I saw an option to start your own. I'd need 10 members. I really don't think it would be a difficult to attain that since almost weekly my homeschool yahoo group has atleast someone every other week asking where to buy raw milk. I know it would be some work, but I don't think it would be too bad. My biggest problem would a drop off location, and refrigeration.  If anyone has any ideas, or is interested, please comment below. 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Quinoa Recipe from Frontier Foods

I thought that this looks simply yummy, and a wonderful snack or warm breakfast option instead of oatmeal.

Ryan's California Quinoa

Quinoa, the supergrain, is so healthy for your children. The ancient Incas called it the mother grain. It's actually not a true grain but the seed of the goosefoot plant. A half cup of quinoa contains approximately 11 grams of protein! Quinoa is a good food for gluten-free diets.


1 cup peeled, diced apples

1/2 tablespoon butter or ghee

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground sesame seed

1/2 teaspoon ground flax seed

2 teaspoons coconut flakes

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cups filtered water

1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Place the apples and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the cinnamon, sesame seed, flax seed, and coconut. Add the lemon juice.

Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture cook while you prepare the quinoa. You want the apple mixture to be soft and the flavors to be well blended.

Combine the quinoa, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until quinoa is fluffy. Add the apple mixture and stir.

Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Don't Use Toothpaste

For a few years now I've believed that flouride was an extremely harmful element of our daily lives. I didn't know how to avoid it though, and after all the American Dental Association says it is sooo safe.  For anyone who has similar feelings about flouride, and would like them confirmed I have numerous sources that I will provide links for at the bottom of this post.

 Flouride is a toxic poison that was used by Adolf Hitler in the concentration camps.  Even in small amounts it is dangerous despite what back of your toothpaste tube says. It is an oxymoron that our dentists use it, that it is pumped into our water systems, and that we purchase products containing it for our dental health. 

Last summer I tried to make my own toothpaste. I tried different recipes that I found online, and nothing seemed to satisfy my objectives. I wanted something that was inexpensive, that didn't taste nasty, and that would clean my teeth & gums well. I also considered marketing it if I was successful at creating it.

In the midst of my creations I had at the very least decided to purchase flouride free toothpaste. Much to my dismay I had found out that a common ingrediant in most toothpastes, flouride free or not, was glycerine. It is used as a sweetner. Unfortunately, what glycerine does is break down the enamel on the teeth, which kind of defeats the purpose in my opinion.  What was a mommy to do?

While I was perusing raw food websites, I had come across a product that was featured on the Renegade Health Show called, Toothsoap. Its company's founder is Karen Van Cleef.  She was a mom, much like myself, frustrated by what was available for dental hygiene.  Doing research of her own, Karen found out that brushing your teeth with soap is the best way to keep your mouth healthy and clean.

I can attest to some of the science behind it. See our mouths have an acid environment with the Ph levels.  Yes, our bodies actually have Ph levels. Soap is naturally alkaline. So not only does the soap clean your mouth, it provides a balanced evironment in order for your teeth to absorb the calcium and other much needed minerals that strengthen teeth, bones, and enamel.

The Toothsoap comes in all different flavors, and the company has all sorts of products available now to improve your dental hygiene with the toxicity of toothpaste. Just click on the Toothsoap icon at the right in order to check it out, and try Toothsoap for yourself.

More Info about Summer Time Fun in the Sun

Donna Gates is the creator of Body Ecology. She is a nutritional consultant, and high advocate of probiotic rich diets. I just wanted to provide her link to this article she had written about tips for enjoying the sun safely without toxic chemicals on your skin.

BTW-If anyone ever has questions about anything please post them, and I'll be happy to do the research for you if I don't already know the answer.