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Archive for the ‘HEALTHY EATING’ Category

November 9, 2013

 

When you eat bread, you could be eating the same ingredient as what is used to make your Yoga mat!  What?  That’s right, the U.S. food industry uses the same additive in breads and cereals (just two examples) as what the chemical industry uses in the production of foamed plastics, synthetic leathers and rubber.  Nice.  The additive is called azodicarbonamide.  Ever heard of it?  Take a look at the ingredients in your loaf of bread.  Is it in there?

Here is the low down from Wikipedia:  Azodicarbonamide Facts

Is it safe?

 

Our trusty health regulatory agencies have assured us that azodicarbonamide is safe for use in our foods.  If that is correct, then why has its use as a food additive been banned in Europe, Australia and the United Kingdom?  I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit tired of U.S. officials and the food industry possibly compromising Americans’ health.  The FDA allows about 10,000 chemicals in our foods.  For about 80% of food additives in the FDA’s database, the agency lacks relevant information, including toxicity data, about the safe amount to eat and almost two-thirds of additives don’t have publicly available feeding data. (Source: Reproductive Toxicology Journal study by Neltner and Maffini)

 

See study here: Data gaps in toxicity testing of chemicals allowed in food in the United States

 

 

In the U.K., azodicarbonamide has been identified as a respiratory sensitizer (a possible cause of asthma).

 

The bottom line is how can people expect me to believe that this chemical, that is used to make exercise mats and rubber shoes, is perfectly safe to ingest!  Give me a break.  I’ll pass.

 

There is a fix.  Look at labels before purchasing food and find alternatives without azodicarbonamide such as organic brands that refuse to use chemicals!

 

 

 

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Posted September 27, 2013

Do you ever get tired of having to buy fresh bananas not too many days after the first bunch you bought?  Yep, that’s me.  Since my younger son’s fruit of choice at the moment is bananas (we are working on more fruits), I try to keep bananas in stock.  But, as you all know, really ripe bananas are not exactly the best tasting, unless as an ingredient for banana bread.  So, why do bananas ripen so fast and is there a way to keep them fresh for a longer period of time?

 

 

First, see What Causes Bananas to Ripen so Fast?

 

Now, how can you possibly keep bananas fresh longer?  See Keep Bananas Fresh Longer for instructions and a little science.

 

 

Why stop at bananas?  There are many foods that can stand the test of time better with a little help.  The average American family wastes $1,200 in thrown out food each year, according to Timothy Jones, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona.  Why waste money?  The cost of food is crazy high in my opinion, so here are 37 Tips for Keeping Food Fresh Longer.

 

 

 

 

Here are a few more tips:

 

1.   Store potatoes with an apple to prevent sprouting.

 

2.  Revive droopy greens with ice water.  Restore the crisp texture of your wilted greens by soaking them in an ice water bath. Through a process called osmosis, water travels across the permeable membrane of the leafy vegetable’s cell walls into dehydrated cells, making them look fresh again.

 

3.  Keep berries fresh by washing them in vinegar water.  Wash fresh strawberries, raspberries and other berries in a diluted vinegar bath made from one part vinegar and three parts water to lengthen their shelf life for days or even weeks. This works because vinegar is a natural disinfectant and mold killer.  Dry the berries thoroughly and store in a clean, paper towel-lined container.

 

4.  Freeze flour for a few days to kill bugs.

 

Happy eating and enjoy longer lasting food!

 

 

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Posted July 27, 2013

 

 

 

Time is flying by this summer.  Only 3 more weeks until school starts again?  Really?  Before the summer slips away, I’d like to highlight a fun activity and one of the most healthiest fruits you can eat.  Blueberries!  In my last post, I featured the health benefits of Blackberries.  While all berries have many health advantages, it would be crazy not to talk about the top antioxidant berry of all.  Blueberries are the antioxidant powerhouse, being very rich in  Anthocyanin (the pigment responsible for the blue color of blueberries),  Vitamin C, B Complex,  Vitamin E,   Vitamin A,  copper (a very effective immune builder and anti-bacterial),   selenium,   zinc,  iron, which promotes immunity by raising haemoglobin and oxygen concentration in blood to boost up your immune system and prevent infections.

Some of the known benefits of blueberries include:

  • Slows aging

  • Helps prevent Urinary Tract Infections

  • Help with Eye Care and Macular Degeneration

  • Helps with Brain Function, Memory & Alzheimer’s disease

  • Helps prevent Heart Disease

This was the first summer we picked fresh blueberries at a local blueberry farm.  The popularity of blueberry picking has exploded here in Northern Florida.  I had to call three blueberry farms before I found one that had blueberries available to pick.  The others were fresh out at the time due to high demand the days before.  That’s a good thing for the blueberry farms out there!  When we went in June, it was hot, but not too many bugs and the rewards were plentiful.  My boys were troopers as we picked almost 8 pounds in a little over one hour.  As you can imagine, our diet has included lots of blueberries these past two months and will continue with the four bags in the freezer.  Blueberries will not lose their antioxidant power if you freeze them.  In addition to fresh blueberries on cereal, in smoothies and in a fruit salad, I love mixing blueberries with granola cereal and organic vanilla yogurt.

 

 

 

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And then there is the fresh blueberry pie!  While my cooking skills are nothing extravagant, I am quite proud of the two homemade blueberry pies I have made.  Below is a photo of one.  Delicious!

 

 

 

 

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Here is a quick and easy recipe:

1 Double-Crust Pie

3/4 cup sugar (I used the recommended converted amount of Truvia Baking Blend)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

5 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Milk (optional)

Sugar (optional)

 

1.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the 3/4 cup sugar (or converted amount of Truvia), flour and lemon juice.  Add blueberries.  Gently toss until coated.  (If using frozen fruit, let mixture stand for 15 to 30 minutes or until fruit is partially thawed, but still icy.)

 

2.  Transfer berry mixture to bottom part of double-crust pie plate.  Cut slits in remaining pastry; place on top of filling and seal.  Crimp edge as desired.  If desired, brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

 

3.  To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of the pie with foil.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes for fresh fruit (50 minutes for frozen fruit).  Remove foil.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more for fresh fruit (20 to 30 minutes for frozen fruit) or until top is golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Check out the two articles below for more detailed information on the goodness of Blueberries.

 

Blueberries

7 Berries You Should Eat Everyday

 

 

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Posted July 13, 2013

 

 

I love summer!  Who doesn’t?  This summer, I vowed to try a few new things.  The top of the list included planting a first ever garden (it’s very small, but it’s a start!), picking fresh blueberries and planting a blackberry bush (see above).  Very exciting for this non-green thumb mama!  Learning the Art of gardening is a fun and educational activity for children and adults.  Not only is the importance of growing and harvesting something of your own highlighted, we learn of the benefits of different whole foods.

My boys and I planted the blackberry bush seen above a month ago.  It already had about five blackberries that were almost ripe when we bought it from a local pick-your-own blueberry farm.  Needless to say, those five were enjoyed as soon as they were ready to be picked.  In a few years, the plant you see above will be huge, if taken care of properly.  It is getting off to a good start.  We have had lots of rain and heat.  Grow, baby, grow!

 

 

My love for blackberries dates way back when I lived in Michigan.  One of my fondest memories of living in Michigan was the trip my husband and I took to Manitou Island for a long weekend.  What a beautiful Island!  During our adventure, a storm brewed up and the boat that was supposed to pick us up on the last day could not make it over to the Island until possibly the next day.  With our food supply quickly being depleted as this was the end of our trip, we set out to find other food options.  Luckily, wild blackberries were plentiful!  We ate our fair share of those delicious berries and had a few breakfast bars and one can of soup left for what we hoped would be the last evening there.  It all turned out fine.  The boat was able to make it over the next afternoon.  We were glad to have so many fresh blackberries to eat!  And something so healthy was an added bonus!

As you will read in the articles below, blackberries provide a great deal of health benefits.  Scientists have found berries have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fresh fruits (measured as ORAC), and kale and spinach are the only vegetables with ORAC values as high as fresh berries.  ORAC is short for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity.  It is a test tube analysis that measures the total antioxidant power of foods and other chemical substances.  It was developed by scientists at the USDA (United States Department Of Agriculture).

 

 

Fresh berries are some of the most powerful disease-fighting foods available.  They help to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, and they may lower your risk of certain cancers.  They have a low-fat and high dietary fiber content, which makes them helpful for weight loss as they are delicious without adding on the pounds.

 

 

Choose plump blackberries that have a rich, deep color.  If they have hulls, they were picked too early and will be tart.  Blackberries will not ripen after they are picked.  Store them in an air-tight container, unwashed, in the refrigerator.

Check out the articles below for more information!

 

 

Health and Healing Fact Sheets: Blackberries

Blackberries Nutrition Facts

 

 

 

Enjoy the summer!  Enjoy those delicious and healthy Blackberries!

 

 

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Posted: June 15, 2013

 

One of my trips to the local health food store this past winter proved to be an enlightening one.  I learned more about the benefits of Probiotics.  These helpful bacteria are crucial for a healthy digestive system!  And having a healthy digestive system helps with maintaining good health.  Makes sense, right?  Our digestive system has several very important jobs to do.  First, it acts as a barrier to keep harmful chemicals out and important things in.  Second, it has the job of digesting food and absorbing nutrients.   And third, but not least, it has the critical role of developing immunity.  Our digestive system is exposed to lots of dangerous bacteria, molds and fungi.  So, a vast majority of our immune defenses are right there in our gut!

So what are Probiotics?

 

The root of the word probiotic comes from the Greek word pro, meaning “promoting” and  biotic,  meaning “life.”  The Food  and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines probiotics as  “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a  health benefit on the host.”  They are actually alive, and most of these microorganisms are bacteria.   So why would you want to consume bacteria?

 

 

Our digestive system normally has “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria.  The key to optimal health is maintaining the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and  the “bad” bacteria.  Things like medications, diet, diseases, and our environment can upset that balance.

 

Probiotics support our health by:

 

  • Supporting immune Function.  Around 83% of our immunity is located in the gut wall.

 

  • Aiding the digestive system.

 

  • Enhancing the body’s absorption of food and nutrients.

 

  • Repopulating depleted intestinal flora.

 

  • Keeping your gut clean.

 

  • Supporting vitamin production.

 

  • Supports the destroying of toxins and carcinogens.

Here are five foods rich in probiotics:

 

 

1. Yogurt

 

 

2. Kefir

 

 

3. Sauerkraut

 

 

4. Dark Chocolate

 

5. Pickles

 

 

For more information, check out:

 

 

Probiotics Basics – All You Need to Know about Probiotics

 

 

 

The Benefits of Probiotics

 

 

 

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