Friday, October 29, 2010

Packaged Foods-The Low Down....

Truth is folks if it's in a box or a bag, and not fresh from a tree, plant, or bush, then its not that great for us.  We need to eat less of these types of foods, and less often. My rule is most definitely if God didn't make it, then don't consume it at all. I know, it can be exceedingly difficult, especially if that is what your family has been used to eating a majority of the time.  Even if it's organic, and you bought it at Whole Paycheck, oops, Whole Foods, it's still not stellar. I do applaud the organic efforts though.

I am a realist though so what I'd like to do in this entry is to direct you to some better boxed and bagged choices.  I'll be looking at health first, then cost, and next health for the environment. I think all of these things are important.  I'll also be discussing some easier "whole food" choices for families on the go.

My first piece of advice to you is to get a small rolling cooler, you know the ones that look like small suitcases. The thing has saved my life in  matter of speaking. I bought mine a few years ago on clearance with a 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  it goes with me almost everywhere. Sometimes it just stays in the car, but for those times when it needs to come out, it's much better than lugging a shoulder strap cooler, or individual lunch bags.

For the packaged foods I'd prefer you to cut out anything with the following: high fructose corn syrup (just plain bad for you), corn syrup (unless its organic you can be sure it's GMO), sugar (this means its plain old white beached processed sugar), food colorings of any kind unless from fruits/spices, soy, soy lecithin, natural flavorings (unless organic), corn oil (unless organic, and don't eat too much of the stuff, its not great), white flour, whole grain flour(who knows what grains they are),white rice, non-organic corn chips/popcorn, non-organic potato chips, agave (its a sugar alcohol that toxifies your liver amongst other things, even the "raw" one, don't eat it), fruit concentrates, brown sugar (no its not good either, it's just white sugar with molasses added), and homogenized dairy products.  If I think of anything else I'll get back to you.

Once you get those things out of the way, and the more you know what to look for the easier it is to get certain products out of the way.  If you can find products in cardboard boxes or paper bags that is much healtheir for us and the environment. The less plastic the better. Try to avoid food in aluminum coated bags.  Sometimes that's really difficult. You can't get certain foods any other way.

Here are some packed foods that we buy in our house: Trader Joes Organic Blue Corn Chips(these are the best ones in a bag around for taste and price $2.99), Snap Pea Crisps(Trader Joes and Whole Foods sell these for $1.49 a bag), Trader Joes Salt and Pepper Rice Crisps (I think these are around $1.79 per bag), and as a treat every once in a whileWhole Foods 365 Brand Organic Potato Chips( $2.99 per bag). I do let the kids eat those little boxes of raisins, and fruit leather strips. The 365 brand is ok, so are the ones from Trader Joes and Wegmans.  I think the Wegmans brand taste the best. 

We don't do any drinks other than water anymore unless it's herbal tea at home that I sweeten for the kids with raw honey. In colder weather we'll do hot carob milk with rice milk or almond milk.  I'll heat some dairy free milk in a pan, use a table spoon of carob powder (you can get this at Whole Foods), and then sweeten with a little raw honey. My younger son likes cold carob milk as a treat also.  Carob is a tree that is very popular in the Middle East.  It is in the pea family. The beans/peas in the pods are edible, and very good for you..

We don't do chocolate anymore. I realize that is inconceivable to many.  I too love the taste of chocolate. Ok, close your eyes if want to, but chocolate is very, very bad for you. Yes, there are antioxidants in dark chocolate..blah, blah, blah.  Eat some blueberries if you want antioxidants. However, if you want more stimulants than in a cup of coffee, and to ingest numerous other chemicals, eat chocolate.  I discovered that chocolate is a food that makes me very ill. I never realized it until I removed it from my diet, then had a little bit, and became very sick. If your family still eats chocolate, eat it in small amounts.

We still eat pasta, but have switched to brown rice pasta at Trader Joes. It's very economical there. Since my older son cannot eat wheat this option works well for us.  I don't buy jarred pasta sauce anymore. If you do, I recommend Whole Foods 365 Brand fat free organic marinara sauce. There is not any soybean oil in it. You can always add garlic, herbs, and sea salt to it if you want to flavor it up more.  As a cheat I do sometimes buy plain organic strained tomato sauce in a jar by Bionature. It's steap at $3.39 a jar, but you can add anything you want to it, and control what goes in there. They sell tomato paste in a small jar of the same brand.

Beware of little snack cookies and cakes, even if they come from health food stores.  A lot of time these products contain soy, lots of sodium, and way too much sugar.  Homemade cookies are a MUCH better choice.  In the cracker isle at Whole Foods there is a brown rice cracker, without soy, and it's about $2.99 a pack. I cannot think of the brand, but if your child loves crackers, and you are trying to avoid gluten, those are great! They taste pretty good. 

As I think of more ideas I will add them here.  Any questions?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cooking Methods

Being a busy mommy, like most of my friends, convenience screams yes, yes, yes.  The more back to the basics that I seem to become the more I see the need for good things to take time.  We live  in such a fast paced, give it to me now society that it is almost impossible to slow down. It can be difficult to remember in the hurried fashion of traffic, soccer games, and dance lessons that in the book of Genesis even the Lord shares how He rested.

While rest is extremely important, short cuts in the kitchen to get that rest are not always the best way.  One short cut that our country has adopted is using the microwave. Chances are that you have one in your kitchen, and that you use it just about everyday. Almost two years ago I took mine out of the kitchen.  It changed my life. 

I decided to do this of course because of the health issues.  Using the microwave destroys the nutrients in our food, changes the chemical composition of the food making it not safe for consumption, and it creates an extremely strong electro-magnetic field that is damaging to our over all health. I'll talk more about EMFs at another time.

When I removed the microwave I learned how to cook again, how to really cook.  I started making more things from scratch.  My patience level increased dramatically.  I firmly believe that the microwaving of food as a means of reheating or cooking adds emphatically to the impatience of our culture.

Strange as this may sound when I am somewhere where there is a microwave being used I can smell that the food was cooked in it. It absolutely turns my stomach upside down.  The same food cooked in an oven versus a microwave smells completely different to me. I'll put links at the bottom to learn more about the dangers of microwave cooking.

My closest friend in the kitchen is the food processor. If you don't have one, invest in one. They make so many jobs so much easier. I also love my blender, especially since I got the Vitamix. I highly favor my toaster oven for reheating.  Pampered Chef sells a small stoneware pan that fits right inside.

I just finally got rid of my non-stick pans. The teflon non-stick coating is highly toxic. Once the pans reaches the heat index of 446 degrees Fahrenheit toxins are released. Within five minutes most pans reach 721 degrees Fahrenheit. Those toxins in small amounts can kill birds.  Think of how many we inhale over the course of our lives.

I replaced my non-stick pans with cast iron. Dr. Mercola has a line of ceramic cookware, but I can't afford those right now.  I'd like to acquire some more stainless steel pans as well.  While I know some metal leaching can occur with those two choices, I feel confident that they are much safer then teflon coated pans.

Another thing in my kitchen that I replaced were my cutting boards.  I switched from plastic to bamboo. Plastic materials have something called phthalates. These phthalates are chemicals that can cause and have caused :

  • Declining sperm

  • Increase in testicular cancer 

  • Early puberty

  • Bamboo is of course a natural material. It's very hard, and sturdy. It has all natural antibacterial properties as well.  Bamboo cutting boards are easy to clean, and come in all sizes.  I purchased mine from Walmart.  I'm sure there are better ones out there, but for now mine are working just fine.

    Along with taking out the plastic cutting boards I have removed most (not all) plastic ware, cups, plates, bowls, and containers. I have placed most things, not everything, but most things in glass jars that I've collected though groceries. I simply recycle the glass jars that I buy food in from the store. Many of these jars have turned into drinking glasses as well.

    I hope that this has proved helpful to you.

    Microwave Articles:

    Teflon Articles:

    Plastic Articles

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    How to Eat Organic and Not Wind Up Living on the Street :) (Part 2)

    I've really been enjoying the eggplant from our local farmers market lately. I've been making ratatouille, eggplant pizzas, and  I am going to make a type of eggplant lasagna with potatoes. I cannot stress enough how important it is to eat locally if possible.

    So you might be wondering about other organic products besides produce.  A popular one I suppose would be dairy products.  First let me start out by saying that diary products are very nutritious, if they eaten/drank the way that God has given them to us.  Unfortunately, dairy is not what it once was in the beginning.

    I remember going to school and learning about Louis Pasteur.  Homogenization and pasteurization were treated like deliverance from Egypt.  Sadly, it was more like deliverance from the Promised Land.  These extreme high temperatures kill all of the beneficial and much needed healthy micro organisms, ie bacteria, that our bodies need from milk.

    Along with killing the beneficial bacteria that our intestines so desperately need, those high temperatures turn the liquid formally known as real raw milk into infectious puss, which in turn gets bottled, and then sold at your friendly neighborhood supermarket.  Did you know more people have died from "cooked" milk than raw?

    As infuriating as it is on top of everything else, I don't even have a say so in what type of milk I drink.  Forgive me if I go on a bit over this topic, but truly, it is insane. In the state of NC there are rows and rows of tobacco fields.  Consumers can buy cigarettes all day long, but it is illegal for me to purchase raw milk.  Please someone tell me how this makes any sense.

    Raw milk has received such a  raw deal.  It is so nutritious, and it is looked at with scornful eyes by the uneducated. Allow me to educate you :) Anytime an animal gets sick there will be infectious bacteria, seems pretty common sense stuff right.  The reason that most animals do become ill is due to improper feeding practices.  Cows are supposed to only eat grass, and nothing but grass.

    Commercial dairies, however, practice feeding their cows grains, usually genetically modified ones, which sometimes get mixed with animal feces, and flesh. Remember that cows are only supposed to eat grass. When the cows eat these grains it does terrible things to their digestive tract, and causes the poor animals to become very sick.  The sell-out solution to treating these poorly treated, sick creatures is to pump them full of antibiotics.

    Have you heard that pediatricians are now saying that most antibiotics are not working? ...Here's a huge part of the reason, our children have become immune to the antibiotics because they already have so many roaming around in their sweet little systems.

    Another reason that cows become ill is due to the large amount of growth hormones that each one of them is pumped with on the farm. Commercial dairies do this so that the cows will become larger, and in turn produce more milk loaded with antibiotics, which is then homogenized and pasteurized to be turned into the puss that we buy at Super Walmart, or wherever else we buy our milk. Do you know what happens when we drink hormones in our milk? Our daughters grow breasts at age 7 & 8, and our sons grow facial hair at 8 & 9.  

    Now with all of that said I'm sure some of you are wondering, well, hey lady if dairy from the store is so bad for myself and my family, then how in the world am I going to give everyone the calcium and he and she needs?

    What a  great question-so glad you asked!  It just so happens that a much superior source for calcium is dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, and collard greens.  You can also take a raw calcium supplement from a company called Garden of Life, Vitamin Code Raw Calcium.  This available at numerous stores, as well as the Raw Life store on my blog. Please do not take Tums for calcium. In fact, don't take Tums.  It contains calcium carbonate, a very difficult form of calcium to digest and absorb.

    Another question lurking in your mind might be what do I do for a milk substitute?  Maybe you like milk in your oatmeal, or you bake things with milk. If you've ever talked to me for even 5 minutes about health and nutrition, or you've read my other blog posts, then you know what I am going to say, do not switch to soy milk. I already discussed the dangers of soy consumption, read previous posts.

    I'll tell you what I do.  Let me be straight with you, anything processed, packed, and sitting on a shelf is not the best thing out there for you.  There are better choices than others though, so if you will permit, then I will direct you that way. My preference is to make my own raw almond milk for drinking, cooing, baking, and for over oatmeal. Yes, I make my own, and no, it is not difficult. It just takes a little planning. 

    I go to Trader Joes and purchase a one pound bag of raw almonds for $4.49.  If you order raw almonds in bulk, then they are probably cheaper. There are reputable places from which to order. If interested I can give you that contact information. I haven't done that yet, although I should to save some dollars.

    At any rate take one cup of the almonds, place them in a glass bowl, jar, large drinking glass and fill just over the top with filtered water. Soak them in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, in a stainless steel colander (preferably), drain them, and rinse them off with filtered water.  Questions possibly in your mind...Why do I have to soak them? Why do I have to rinse them if they've already been soaked and wet?

    Raw nuts have something in them called tannins. Tannins are compounds that can shrink proteins, amino acids, and alkaloids. Tannins can also inhibit the absorption of necessary nutrients from the foods. Certain people can become sensitive to the tannins, which in turn can cause things like bowel irritation to things  severe as cancer. Soaking nuts, seeds, and legumes can limit the amount of tannins released, and help necessary enzymes needed for digestion to be released from the food. You want to rinse them in filtered water just for an extra measure of removing tannins that have surfaced.

    Now that you've learned more about nuts than you probably want to know take your soaked almonds and place them into your blender. Add 3 cups of filtered water. Some times I add 1-2 teaspoons of raw, local honey. Blend until there aren't many or any chunks left. Now for your next step you can use various methods.  I'll tell you what I do. I have a Pampered chef micro mesh stainless steel strainer. I place it over a glass bowl to catch the almond pulp, and drain the milk.  I then place the pulp into a glass jar for further use in cookies, muffins, or pancakes.  Using a funnel, I pour the milk into a another glass jar. It is then ready to drink, be poured on cereal, bake with, or whatever :)

    If you'd rather not make your own almond milk, which is far superior to anything in the store, and you choose to purchase store bought almond milk two brands that I recommend are Pacific Naturals and Whole Foods 365 brand. Do purchase the unsweetened kind.  For baking or drinking sometimes its nice to purchase the unsweetened kind with vanilla. Both brands do not contain soy, and are cost effective. Another alternative is rice milk.  Make sure that brown rice is used.  Trader Joes rice milk is pretty tasty.

    Understand that these types of milks will not be a good source calcium. Enriched and fortified products usually contain synthetic versions of the vitamins, which our bodies either do not absorb at all, or they are poorly absorbed. Many synthetic vitamins and minerals can cause harm to the body.  If you go this route, concentrate on getting calcium as previously mentioned through raw, leafy greens.

    If you have any questions please ask :)