Monday, January 24, 2011

How much gun powder have you eaten today?

In our household we just say no to nitrates. Before I researched for this blog, I knew they were bad, just not how bad.

So, what the heck are nitrates anyway? Sodium Nitrate is chemical food preservative. It was primarily made for use in fertilizer, smoke bombs, and rocket propellants. YUCK
Where can nitrates be found? hot dogs, lunch meat, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham
What's so bad about them?
    * A known carcinogen that causes DNA damage, increased cellular degeneration that causes higher deaths in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and diabetes.
     * Causes multiple cancers- in fact the cancer prevention coalition has named them one of the top five cancer causing foods and recommends that if you must consume to limit consumption to no more than 12/month (especially important amongst children) 
     * Eating just 1.8 oz of processed meats a day gives you 42% higher chance heart disease and 19% higher chance of diabetes (US Dept Health and Human Services)
     * Study done by Harvard School of Public Health showed 74% increase of childhood leukemia in kids that had a diet high in processed/cured meats (PLENTY other studies that show the same)

I don't want to give up lunch meat, hot dogs, etc- what can I do? It's best to just avoid these foods as much as possible because even non-nitrate versions are usually loaded with sodium, and made from lots of mysteriously "mechanically separated" meats. If you can't stay away entirely, seek out nitrate free, uncured, versions of all these products. Most stores carry them. Most importantly, limit consumption

Cancer Prevention Coalition
US Dept of Health and Human Services
Total Health Breakthroughs
Natural News

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bon Voyage- Food for Travel

We are about to take our first flight as a family. Fueling your body with healthy food is especially important during travel but can be quite difficult given the pricey food options at the airport. 

Here is what I'm bringing for my family to eat:

Pasta with Pesto- stored in a ziplock for space saving
Frozen Peas- they will thaw by the time we eat them and will keep other food cold at the same time
Whole Wheat Organic PB&J
Annies Organic Crackers
Kashi Fruit Cereal bars
String Cheese
Carrot Sticks
Homemade Sweet potato chips (they were gonna go bad if we didn't use them...)
Empty Sippies for water once through security
Cheerios- these will double as a "Craft" (bring pipe cleaners and string a bracelet. bring glue stick and make cheerio collage)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Annie's Mac Makeover

   Let's face it. Sometimes you need something quick, easy, and out of a box to shovel in the kids mouths. It's the only packaged "meal" I purchase: 
Annie's Organic Mac and Cheese
   Is it healthy? Not really. And it's loaded with sodium (even the "less sodium" version still has plenty), but the ingredients are pretty pure and there's no artificial dyes, or scientific sounding stuff compared to its conventional counterpart.
   Annie's makes several varieties. I prefer the one made with whole wheat noodles because it's higher in fiber than the others. On sale you can get it for around a buck. 

Let the mac-makeover begin! 

One Box Annies Organic Macaroni and Cheese
Half Bag Frozen Organic Califlower
1 T Flaxmeal
1/4 C Plain non-fat organic yogurt
* Cook califlower on stovetop (don't microwave-you lose nutrients)
* Cook mac-n-cheese according to directions on box
* Mash califlower and stir into noodles, with yogurt, flax, and cheese packet

Annies Homegrown Site

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pretty Pure Taco Sauce

I don't buy taco sauce or BBQ sauce because it's usually full of HFCS and other junk that shouldn't be there. Using Trader Joe's Organic ketchup as my base I whipped up with some darn good taco sauce this week. It is important to use organic ketchup. Tomatoes are one of the "Dirty Dozen" and contain one of the highest amounts of pesticides. Also, most conventional ketchups contain HFCS. 
Happy taco night!

Taco Sauce
mix all ingredients together and chill
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 c. organic ketchup
1/4 tsp. cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. red crushed chilies
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic salt

Recipe courtesy of

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)- 
   Not my favorite topic, but it is such a media buzz, and is one of the first things I eliminated from our diets, so I feel I should put it in a nutshell for my readers. 
   It's almost impossible to find any prepackaged food that doesn't contain HFCS and it even disguises itself under other aliases (ie; corn sugar). Strangely enough people think they are avoiding sugar and being more healthy when they consume HFCS, however, it contains higher fructose amounts than regular sugar. Ironically it was introduced 30 years ago and in the past three decades childhood obesity rates have tripled.
So what's all the buzz?

What is HFCS?
Blogger extrodinaire the "Almighty Dad" explains it well:

sucrose_1"Table sugar is a combination of fructose and glucose which are both simple sugars produced naturally by plants.  The combination is called sucrose.   Corn syrup is mainly glucose produced from corn starch.  There is no naturally occurring fructose in corn which is why corn isn’t sweet.  But, in the 1950’s, scientists found a way to convert the glucose in corn into fructose.  The resulting concoction is 90% fructose (and therefore very very sweet).  That fructose is mixed with the corn syrup, which is glucose (and not sweet), until a 45/55 balance is reached (fructose being the higher percentage).   And, presto, HFCS!  Later, in the 1970’s, the process was scaled and we saw the birth of the HFCS boom."

Why is HFCS in practically everything we consume?
The government heavily subsidizes corn, it's cheap, and acts as a preservative.

What's so bad about HFCS?
* Sometimes processed with Mercury-Mercury is toxic.
* Linked to Obesity
* Acts as a hunger trigger (the more you eat the hungrier you are)
* It's not natural. Your body cannot break down HFCS as it can more natural sugars such as honey.

HFCS foods that surprised me (note that this is just the surprises...):
Soups, whole wheat breads, tortillas, yogurt, applesauce, canned fruits/beans/veggies, infant formulas, liquid medicine
    I strongly encourage you to make an effort this new year to avoid all things HFCS. It is doable. Make an effort to read labels and chose brands that do not contain the ingredient. Even if it's not possible all the time at least you reduce your exposure!

King Corn- This is a great documentary to watch if you want HFCS in a nutshell

Monday, January 3, 2011

Meatless Monday- Penne with Spinach and White Beans

I've yet to jump on the meatless Monday bandwagon. In fact ironically the one time a week we eat chicken or beef usually ends up being on a Monday. Since it's Monday and our dinner is meatless, I figured I'd go with it. Adding the beans into this pasta dish gives your family an extra dose of much needed protein.
Whole Wheat Penne with Spinach and White Beans
Half box of cooked whole wheat penne
1 1/2 Cup cooked White Beans (such as great northern or navy. you can also used rinsed canned beans)
About 3 handfuls raw organic spinach, stems trimmed
2 cloves garlic
1/4 C chopped white onion
1/4 C Organic half and half
1/4 C shredded parmesean
1 T Flaxmeal
EVOO, salt, and pepper
1. In a medium skillet, on medium, heat about 2 T EVOO for 2 minutes. Add 2 cloves chopped garlic, and the onion. Heat until browned, stirring frequently.
2. Add spinach, salt and pepper, and stir about 2 minutes until wilted. Looks like this:

3. Add half and half and cook until thickened. About another two minutes
4. Add spinach mixture, desired Parmesan, and beans into cooked pasta and stir.
5. Cook covered @350 about 20 min or until heated through.