Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Superfood: Barramundi

Thanks for reading about the yummy kika give away and special thanks to those of you that followed the blog for a chance to win.  There's still time to follow and get into the drawing.  I let you know who won on Friday!!!

I found a new food.  Central Market had a cooking demo and samples of barramundi. Barra what?  I wasn't so sure but since I hadn't had dinner I grabbed a bite.  I wanted to go back for seconds but my pride wouldn't let me.  So I headed over to the fish counter and had them pack up a pound for me to take home.  I grabbed all the ingredients the lady at the demo used to cook the fish.  Here goes:  the fish was coated in Colorado Spice Chang Mai Fish and Fowl http://shop.coloradospice.com/, pan fried for about 4 minutes on each side in oil, then finished with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh basil.  I made it for our family Sunday afternoon.  We all ate it up with the exception of 2 of 3, the 2 year old, who had a bite and then licked the next but just couldn't muster up the resolve to swallow it again.  Not to fear, 1 of 3 gobbled up 2 of 3's fish before the rest of us had the chance.  Served it with butternut squash and kale.  I will admit I was hungry in about an hour.  I always am after eating fish.  I was wishing I had purchased more than a pound of the barramundi.

The best part of this new food: Dr. Oz has named it the number one super food on a 2010 list.

"#1 Superfood – Barramundi
... #1 superfood – Barramundi fish.  If fish were humans, Dan Buettner said that barramundis would be the vegetarian tree huggers.  Barramundi only eat plankton, so they are high in omega 3’s, which is good for your brain and your heart, but they are not high in mercury like other fish because they don’t eat other fish."   http://www.drozfans.com/dr-ozs-advice/dr-oz-5-superfoods-you-must-eat-with-dan-buettner/

Bon appetit!

Monday, November 29, 2010

First Free Give Away From Treasured Earth Foods!!!!!

Have I told you lately that I love the farmer's market?  I do!  I love the farmer's market.  Here is just one of the many reasons why: Treasured Earth Foods (http://www.treasuredearthfoods.com/) a San Marcus, Texas company.  I met Ruth, the co owner of TEF, and she is just lovely.  She was kind enough to share her dessert with all of my people so we could decide what we needed to take home.  We needed to take home a lot of her most delightful, healthy desserts.  My favorite is the Chocolate Kika.  The Chocolate Kikas remind me a bit of chocolate cake doughnuts. I kept them in the freezer and when they are taken out of the freezer, 1 of 3 was sure they are made of ice cream.  The Treasured Earth Food website says they taste like chocolate fudge.  All I know is I could eat them everyday and so could my little people.  They are DELICIOUS and really feel guilt free to eat.  Oh friends, the best is yet to come.

The Chocolate Kika is similiar to a cookie but oh so much better.  Let me tell you exactly why it is so much better.  For starters, the ingredients.  The Chocolate Kika is the ultimate deceptively delicious treat.  Each kika contains spinach, celery, carrots, beets, and pumpkin.  I don't know about you but I could never get my little people to beg for most of the veggies listed above before this treat.  The Kika is sweetened with agave nectar.  One benefit of agave nectar as a sweetner is it has a low glycemic index.  This basically means it will not spike your blood sugar, so no sugar crashes.  The Chocolate Kika also provides a bit of protein in the form of crushed almonds.  My mouth is watering just writing about the Kika!  Ruth, I need more Chocolate Kikas!!!

I purchased 2 packages of the Chocolate Kika, which is 24 cookies.  They lasted all of 48 hours.  The little people were begging for them but I wanted to hide them for the grown ups.  Since the treats were so healthy I didn't mind letting them eat them daily.  The baby, 3 of 3, made it known that he would not be left out of the treat time.  He squealed with delight as he took a bite and followed it up with "ummmmm."  Not sure if there could ever be a better testimony!

Now it's time for you to decide what you think of the Kika.  Sweet Ruth has been nice enough to give me a box of the Chocolate Kikas for my friends.  It's my first give away!!!  I know I have quite a few readers I just don't know who you are.  Please scroll down my page and click on "follow this blog."  On Friday the lucky winner will be named and receive the scrumptious Chocolate Kika.  I think you are going to LOVE them.  Trust me, the thought crossed my mind to gobble up the box for the give away but I've never been a thief so why start now. 

Treasured Earth Food will be at the Barton Creek Farmer's Market again on December 4th.  TEF also can be ordered online from the website.  Here is the product order link and there are many more tasty desserts.  http://www.treasuredearthfoods.com/Products-and-Ordering.html  Ruth says there are more desserts in the works too.  I can't wait.  Hoping to be the official taste tester.  Do yourself a favor and try a Chocolate Kika.  You just may have a new favorite dessert.  I sure do!  And I think I can definitely say that my little people do too.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Little People, Artificial Christmas Trees and Lead

Ah, the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree.  The memories of the hay ride to find the tree, the laughter as we watch daddy cut down the tree while flexing his muscles.  The hot chocolate, the friends, the animals, the picnic, the giggles as we sing Christmas songs all the way home from the Christmas tree farm.  Love our memories, hate the allergies!!!  For a few years we cut down a Leyland Cypress tree, which is supposed to be hypoallergenic, and were problem free.  Last year, however that was not the case.  Once we brought the humongous 9 foot tree into our house our precious little people went from darling little angels to snot nose little rug rats that stayed up all night crying.  The tree had to GO!!!  Right away.  A WEEK before Christmas we were treeless.  You can imagine, 3 little people, lots of presents, no tree equals SAD little people.   Would Santa still come?  The questions went on and on.

As any good momma would do I went out and about to the nearest store to purchase an artificial tree.  The little people bought in to the idea of the new tree.  Another Christmas tree party was on the way!  When I got to the store I noticed something that stopped me in my tracks.  A warning label on the box about lead.  No thanks.  I had enough problems with the allergies, and I didn't need the lead troubles.  So I returned home to be the scrooge mommy and break my little people's hearts.  Better to be safe than sorry I thought. 

As soon as I walked in the door I ran to the computer to research artificial Christmas trees and lead free alternatives.  Apparently 85% of artificial trees come from China and these trees contain some level of lead.  This poses a problem for households that have small children as they are so often touching the branches, inhaling the lead dust that is often under the tree and on the presents.  I found a site that performed experiements on the levels of lead and different ways to come in contact with the lead.  Here are their findings: "Results from these experiments show that, while the average artificial Christmas tree does not present a significant exposure risk, in the worst-case scenarios a substantial health risk to young children is quite possible."  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15628192  That was all I needed to hear.  Not worth the risk.

So on I researched.  I found that American-made artificial trees did not contain lead.  I found a website and called to confirm this fact.  Then I asked which stores carried the trees.  None.  We had to order it online and did not receive it in time for Christmas.  Actually, it wasn't going to make it in time so I waited until after Christmas to get a better deal.  It was the same deal as before Christmas if you're wondering!  Here is the link to the site we ordered our tree.  http://www.christmasinamerica.com/pages/3002/  There are other American companies that also sell lead-free trees.  The only drawback I have found is that they are more expensive than the trees manufactured in China.  If you do decide to get an American made tree, I would recommend you ask your own questions about lead content.  Just to be sure.

This year we are about to pull out our lead-free artificial tree.  We still plan on making the drive to the wonderful Christmas Tree Farm in Elgin this year.  We just won't return home with a tree tied to the top of our van.  Here's a link if you are interested.  http://pages.suddenlink.net/jrf/ectf/dd9.htm

If you do have an artifical Christmas tree made in China here are a few recommendations to keep children safe.  "To be extra safe, don't let your children touch or handle a plastic tree or crawl underneath it. Don't keep presents underneath it either, as they will collect any lead dust that falls."  http://healthychild.org/live-healthy/checklist/enjoy_healthy_holidays/  As for adults, wash hands after handling or wear disposable gloves.  Just FYI, Christmas tree lights contain lead too.

Here is hoping that all of my precious friends have a wonderful and safe holiday season.  It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture: All Your Organic Produce For $30 A Week!!!

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

Community Supported Agriculture is a direct partnership between the consumer and the farmer. CSA members pay in advance for a share of the upcoming harvest and are ensured high-quality local produce, and the farmer is ensured a consistent market. Produce is harvested from the farm and delivered to our members' neighborhoods all on the same day.

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

Community Supported Agriculture is a direct partnership between the consumer and the farmer. CSA members pay in advance for a share of the upcoming harvest and are ensured high-quality local produce, and the farmer is ensured a consistent market. Produce is harvested from the farm and delivered to our members' neighborhoods all on the same day.

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

Community Supported Agriculture is a direct partnership between the consumer and the farmer. CSA members pay in advance for a share of the upcoming harvest and are ensured high-quality local produce, and the farmer is ensured a consistent market. Produce is harvested from the farm and delivered to our members' neighborhoods all on the same day.

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

Community Supported Agriculture is a direct partnership between the consumer and the farmer. CSA members pay in advance for a share of the upcoming harvest and are ensured high-quality local produce, and the farmer is ensured a consistent market. Produce is harvested from the farm and delivered to our members' neighborhoods all on the same day.
Johnson's Backyard Garden (JBG) is a 70 acre community supported farm located in East Austin.  This farm offers a membership which allows members to receive a weekly or biweekly share of seasonal organic vegetables, fruits and herbs.  Each week a member receives a half-bushel box (see last weeks box above picture) of 8-12 different organic produce.  JBG says that one box is usually sufficient for a family of four.  Members also receive a weekly newsletter with recipes and details about how to store and handle your produce.  Looking forward to trying the new recipes!

This is the part I really like, if the member picks up their box at the farmer's market they can switch out produce from their box for different produce.  Can't make the farmer's market on Saturday?  No problem!!!  JBG has pick up sites all around the city.  This link has the pick up sites and schedule.   http://www.jbgorganic.com/sites/  All of the produce is picked, packed and delivered to the locations on the same day.  How often can we say that about what we eat!  Talk about FRESH and packed with nutrients.

This program, Community Supported Agriculture, offers the farm a "consistent market" and provides the member with a discount.  A four week minimum is required and cost $32 per week for a total of $128.    There is an additional $2 per week discount for a 10 week commitment.  That is just $30 a week for all your organic produce!  I'm wondering if we need 2 boxes but I'll start with one and let you know.  Free range eggs and organic fair-trade coffee are available for $10 more per week.  I have found a better deal on eggs at the farmers market.  Here is a link to join the farm.  http://www.jbgorganic.com/join/  I just did!

70-acre organic Community Supported farm only five miles east of downtown Austin

We grow over 60 different types of vegetables and herbs, and each week, members receive a half-bushel box with a variety of 8-12 seasonal, organically grown vegetables, fruits and herbs. All of the vegetables in our CSA shares come from Johnson's Backyard Garden directly, and we partner with other trusted local farms to provide specialty items (such as organic oranges and grapefruits from South Tex Organics).
We grow over 60 different types of vegetables and herbs, and each week, members receive a half-bushel box with a variety of 8-12 seasonal, organically grown vegetables, fruits and herbs. All of the vegetables in our CSA shares come from Johnson's Backyard Garden directly, and we partner with other trusted local farms to provide specialty items (such as organic oranges and grapefruits from South Tex Organics).
We grow over 60 different types of vegetables and herbs, and each week, members receive a half-bushel box with a variety of 8-12 seasonal, organically grown vegetables, fruits and herbs. All of the vegetables in our CSA shares come from Johnson's Backyard Garden directly, and we partner with other trusted local farms to provide specialty items (such as organic oranges and grapefruits from South Tex Organics).
We grow over 60 different types of vegetables and herbs, and each week, members receive a half-bushel box with a variety of 8-12 seasonal, organically grown vegetables, fruits and herbs. All of the vegetables in our CSA shares come from Johnson's Backyard Garden directly, and we partner with other trusted local farms to provide specialty items (such as organic oranges and grapefruits from South Tex Organics).

How to Set a Formal Holiday Table by Barbara Feiner of OrganicAuthority.com

I'm not sure if any of my sweet friends are like me but I always forget how to set a formal dinner table.  So I just reposted a blog by Barbara Feiner.  Here is the blog link http://www.organicauthority.com/blog/organic/organic-living/how-to-set-a-formal-holiday-table/

How to Set a Formal Holiday Table

November 7th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Thanksgiving Plate
Formal Table SettingHosting a formal holiday dinner with multiple courses?
Follow these place-setting rules from the pros:
  1. Always work from the outside in. The fork on the extreme outside is the one used for the first course. The same applies to glassware and cutlery.
  2. Forks should be placed to the left side of dishes, while knives should be placed to the right. If you’re serving soup, the spoon should be placed to the far right of the knives.
  3. Arrange dessert silverware above each place setting. Fork prongs should face to the right. The dessert spoon should face to the left.
  4. Place napkins on the far left, unless a decorative napkin fold is used. (The latter may be placed anywhere on the table.)
  5. If you’re serving bread and butter, place a separate plate and butter knife at the top left of the setting.
  6. Stack plates according to service. The main-course plate will be at the bottom. Salad plates, appetizer plates and soup bowls should be stacked accordingly atop it.
  7. Glasses are placed on the right side of the table setting. The water glass  generally has the largest rim and should be the leftmost glass, with the white-wine and red-wine glasses alongside it.
The diagram at the top of this article offers visual assistance. Decode the place setting with the following key:
A = Soup bowl
B = Appetizer or salad plate
C = Service plate
D = Water glass
E = White wine glass
F = Red wine glass
G = Napkin
H = Fish fork
I = Dinner fork
J = Salad fork
K = Service knife
L = Fish knife
M = Soup spoon
N = Bread and butter service
O = Dessert spoon
P = Dessert fork
Photo: Tyler Love

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mary's Free Range Organic Thanksgiving Turkey

Just picked up Mary's free range organic turkey from Cental Market.  Whole Foods also carries Mary's brand but sells them under a Whole Foods label. Here is a link to find a turkey in your area:

Our turkey weighs 15.76 pounds and cost $31.36 making it $1.99 per pound.  At the farmer's market today, the turkey was sold for $4.00 per pound.  So the same turkey would be roughly $63.00.  Now that is HIGH!  Mary's website says the turkeys are fed an organic diet on a certified organic ranch in California.  They are  free of antibiotics, preservatives and hormones.   Here is a link for cooking instructions.  http://www.marysturkeys.com/Cooking%20Menu.htm  Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Would You Like Ammonia With That Burger?

Hamburgers! They're the all-American meal, and America can't seem to get enough of them. And what could be simpler than a hamburger? It's just ground beef, right? Well, maybe we should put hamburgers in the same category with politics and sausage--you really don't want to know how they're made. And if you drink ammonia while you're cleaning your kitchen, it won't bother you at all. If not, keep reading.

But really, you say, my grocery store/restaurant/fast food chain wouldn't sneak something bad into my burger, would they? But certainly not my beloved public school? They wouldn't give sweet unsuspecting, innocent, little smiley-faced children bad burgers, would they? Well.... But at least the meat that is in the burger comes from cows that were out grazing in wide open fields, occasionally herded by a cowboy on a horse with a few well-trained dogs, right? They weren't walking around up to their cow knees in e coli infested dung, were they?

Let's take a look at the single greatest influence on the American beef industry: McDonald's. They're the largest purchaser of beef in US. http://beefmagazine.com/mag/beef_big_beef_buyers/   McDonald's, like any well run national brand, demands absolute consistency in the quality and taste of the meat served from one McDonald's to another. The demand for consistency at massive volumes has radically changed the beef industry. Of course, McDonald's specializes in cheap burgers, not premium burgers, so you can guess how that has influenced the quality of the vast majority of beef. The top 4 beef suppliers, Cargill, Tyson, Swift and National Beef, control 80 % of the beef market. Even if we don't eat at McDonalds, we are getting the meat produced by this new beef industry. Beef is now mass produced. Cattle don't roam the pastures, they're packed like sardines on feed lots the size of a postage stamp. They can hardly move, let alone roam and graze free all day. They are crowded together snout to rump, knee-high in feces.

Cows were designed to eat grass. But how do you get huge quantities of grass to our sardine-cows standing in feces? You don't. They needed a cheaper alternative. So they looked around and found something they could buy really cheap--Corn. Never mind that corn is really cheap largely thanks to government subsidies (which means it isn't really cheap, but we're all paying for it through taxes even if we don't want all that corn). One might even conclude that this government subsidy is a major contributor to the sardine-style feed lots in which are cows are raised and slaughtered.

As it turns out, corn is really bad for cows. In 1998 it was first reported that cows on grain-based diets (like corn) cause drastically elevated levels of E. coli that can live in the cow's digestive tract and more likely survive the acid shocks the of the cow's digestive tract. Basically the E.coli gets through the cows digestive system intact. If one cow has this strain of E. coli, the other cows will most likely get it too because the cow with e. coli passes it in his feces. As we already discussed, these cows are standing knee-high in feces. They are not washed before they head off to the slaughter house. So the cow is covered in E. coli-infested feces when it is slaughtered. That E. coli then gets all over the carcass, which is, of course, the meat. Comtamination of the meat is absolutely inevitable.

What's the big deal about E. coli? I am so glad you asked.

The symptoms of E. coli most often include diarrhea (usually bloody), vomiting, and severe stomach cramps which last for around 8 days. Other than that, it's a regular party. "E. coli O157:H7 was first recognized as a foodborne pathogen in 1982." http://www.about-ecoli.com/  "E. coli 0157:H7 is a major health problem. It is estimated to cause infection in more than 70,000 patients a year in the United States. This diarrheal illness was first recognized when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) isolated E. coli O157:H7 from patients in two separate outbreaks in Oregon and Michigan. The illness was associated with eating hamburgers at the restaurants of one national chain. Thus, hemorrhagic colitis due to E, coli 0157:H7 is commonly referred to as HAMBURGER DISEASE." http://www.medicinenet.com/e_coli__0157h7/article.htm  (all caps mine)
If you found out you bought some meat that had E. coli, what would you do with it? You'd throw it away and disinfect the area, of course. So that's what your local restaurant, fast food joint, grocery store, and public school would do, too, right? Nope.

Beef Products, Inc. ("BPI"), has developed a way to use the nastiest, filthiest, feces-infested part of the cow--the outside part of the carcass. This stuff usually ends up on the slaughterhouse floor and was formerly used for dog food. Instead of disposing of this nasty stuff, BPI sweeps it up and "processes" it with ammonia to kill the high levels of E.coli and salmonella. This trash (or what used to be trash) now makes up as much as 25% of your yummy fast food burger and 10% of your child's school lunch burger. They call it "meat filler." "Beef Products buys the cheapest, least desirable beef on offer--fatty sweepings from the slaughterhouse floor, which are notoriously rife with pathogens like E. coli 0157 and antibiotic-resistant salmonella. It sends the scraps through a series of machines, grinds them into a paste, separates out the fat, and laces the substance with ammonia to kill pathogens. The result, known by some in the industry as "pink slime," is marketed widely to hamburger makers. The product has three selling points, from what I can tell: 1) it's really, really cheap; 2) unlike conventional ground beef, which routinely carries E. coli, etc, pink slime is sterilized by the addition of ammonia; and 3) it's so full of ammonia that it will kill pathogens in the ground beef it's mixed with." http://www.grist.org/article/2010-01-05-cheap-food-ammonia-burgers 

Instead of throwing that junk away and disinfecting the area (like any sane person would do if it were in their kitchen), they use household cleaning chemicals to "wash" the meat, instead of the kitchen. Really, now. Would you ever douse your food in ammonia and eat it? Unfortunately, BPI is dousing your burgers in ammonia for you.

But you've never seen "ammonia" as one of the ingredients listed on a package of hamburger, have you? That's because the beef industry was successful in lobbying the USDA in preventing the use of the word ammonia and instead only mentioning a "processing agent." The consumer should have to right to decide if they want to eat a burger that is 75% meat, 25% once dog food meat, feces, salmonella, E. coli and of course ammonia. This is a comforting fact though, the public school hamburger meat can only contain 10% of the once dog food meat, feces, salmonella, E. coli and of course ammonia in each burger. "The company says its processed beef, a mashlike substance frozen into blocks or chips, is used in a majority of the hamburger sold nationwide. But it has remained little known outside industry and government circles. Federal officials agreed to the company’s request that the ammonia be classified as a "processing agent" and not an ingredient that would be listed on labels." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/31/us/31meat.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all . Please read this entire article. Seriously, READ IT!!!!!

"USDA was so confident of the safety of the BPI product that it exempted the company from USDA bacterial testing requirements in 2007." Are you kidding me? The companies that are using ammonia to try and kill the pathogens in the dog food meat scraped up off the slaughterhouse floor, dripping in feces and the highest levels of salmonella and E. coli don't have to test their product to ensure safety for the consumers?!?!
It's not just in your fast food burger but grocery stores purchase ground beef from companies that use this "meat filler." School lunch serves this to our dear, precious children without even mentioning a word to the parent. Restaurants use this too. "With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone." In fact as of a few years ago the producers of the meat filler product claim they are in 80% of all hamburgers. They also state in 5 years they predict they will be in 100% of all burgers and hamburger meat.

I have a few unanswered question about the use of ammonia for consumption. Have there been studies conducted to test the health affects of consuming ammonia? And just how does the process of cooking the meat change the chemical make up of this ammonia? What new problems does ingesting the chemically altered ammonia cause once ingested? Whatever the answer it can't be good for you!

Here is a clip from the movie Food Inc. that is at a processing plant of the ammonia meat filler.

Ammonia cleanses the meat we eat. Um, No, I don't want ammonia with my burger.  I doubt I'll ever be able to eat a fast food burger again.

Strike Out Or Change Expectations?

Last night I cooked a whole chicken, an anorexic whole chicken.  It was a grass fed chicken.  I question if it even ATE grass!  I'm talking made a cornish hen look fat!  But to be fair I did look for the smallest as I knew that this was a trial chicken and I didn't want to be out too much money if it was a bust.  I put it in the oven to cook and about 15 minutes later it was burnt.  Okay that is a SLIGHT exaggeration.  But needless to say, this really expensive teeny, tiny chicken was over cooked and super, duper tough.  After serving my family large servings of mashed potatoes, large servings of sauteed kale and spinach, and a bite or two of chicken each, we all left hungry.  Really hungry.  I might even say that for dinner last night I had an appetizer of the above mentioned meal and 2 bowls of cereal.  So all that work preparing a meal and it was an absolute strike out.  Note to self: if ever again cooking a TINY whole chicken check it every 30ish minutes.  Really check it.  It is probably done.

I did notice a few differences between the grass fed cooked chicken and the conventional cooked whole chicken.  The most striking differences were the size of the breast.  There was hardly any meat when you are comparing it to what is now "normal."  Conventional chickens are pumped with hormones to make them larger and have more breast meat.  The other difference was that the chicken legs and dark meat were MUCH LESS greasy.  Even tough as rubber the flavor was yummy.  I can tell we will enjoy it if ever cooked again. 

The lesson I learned was this, I am going to have to adjust my expectations in my new life style.  Mabye nature intends us to eat just a little meat and load up on veggies and other healthy stuff.  Maybe just a little meat is actually better for our bodies.  Maybe next time I need to make four sides instead of 2.  Expectations, please adjust soon!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

EASY Homemade Pizza

Last night I made the best pizza with mostly organic products.  It was super easy, fast and oh so yummy.  We had friends over and they were our guinea pigs.  They loved it too.  I made two pizzas.  One pizza was for the kids with sauce and cheese.  The other pizza was for the grown ups with grass fed chicken, spinach, red bell pepper and a medley of mushrooms.  I found an organic pizza crust called Rustic Crust and organic pizza sauce by Muir Glen.  I highly recommend both products.  I pan fried the raw chicken in olive oil, cutting into small pieces as it cooked.  Next I saved the olive oil to quickly saute the mushrooms and red bell peppers. Then I sauteed the spinach in the same pan with the remaining olive oil.  Finally I put the toppings on the pizza, smoothered it with cheese (which was not organic) and baked it for 15 minutes.  I wish we had leftovers today!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Organic On A Budget

My husband and I just went over our October spending.  Even eating organic foods, we spent $100 less than we spent in September when we were not eating organic.  That said, we still spent quite a bit of money on food.  Anyway, it made me ask the question, if I couldn't buy all organic food, which foods are the most necessary to buy organic?  This is the list I came up with after reading different articles.  Feel free to read them in their entirety on the links below.  This list is from the stand point of contamination of the food from pesticides, not nutritional value.  Here is the list of foods that have the highest levels of pesticide residue: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes, grapes, coffee, bananas, green beans, milk, rice and baby food.   http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/Dirty-Dozen-Foods; http://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/eat-organic-foods.html

Here is a list of the cleanest items to buy non organic (i.e., the least amount of pesticide residue): onion, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, papaya, watermelon, broccoli, tomato, and sweet potato.

This list includes corn which I will only buy organic because of the fact that so much corn is genetically modified (GMO).

Monday, November 15, 2010

I've Lost That Craving Feeling!

Lost another 2 pounds and my husband has lost another 2 1/2 pounds this week.  I started wondering why I am feeling much more satisfied after eating.  Why all of a sudden am I no longer craving chocolate, sweets in general, and the foods I ate only weeks ago?  I am not and have never been a dieter.  I have never changed my eating habits to lose weight.  This time is no different.  I am not dieting but trying to live healthier.  I did a bit of research about organic foods and found this explanation as to why going organic has made such a big difference in our lives.

The food we consume provides for the fuel our body needs to perform effectively.  We need foods rich in nutrients to perform at our optimal levels.  Non organic food is grown in soil that is fertilized by 3 minerals: nitrogen, phosophorus and potassium.  Our bodies need over 50 minerals.  When we eat this food it offers minimal nutrition.  Even though we are feeling full our bodies are not completely nourished.  So our bodies keep telling us to eat more.  It is desperately trying to get the nutrients it severely lacks.  This leads to food cravings, overeating and obesity.  Organic food is raised with natural fertilizers that provide the plant with many more minerals our body needs.  When the body is full, it is satisfied and nourished.  Therefore, no sugar craving and ice cream binges.  That is the best explination I have found.  I am telling you the truth, the plastic Halloween Pumpkin is still filled with candy, even Kit Kats, my used to be favorite!  I've lost that craving feeling.  WOOOOO HOOOOO!!!!!  I just asked my husband and he said he's craving diminished, but not yet craving free.  It's a start.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

100 Percent Grass Fed Dairy Farm

Just found the coolest website.  It lists all of the 100 percent grass fed dairy farms in the country.  The Texas farm is located in Cameron, TX about 80 miles outside of Austin.  I just spoke to Alysha Godfry, an owner of the farm, to find out if there is a group in Austin that goes to the farm weekly.  Currently, there is not but maybe we could start our own.  Alysha mentioned that other groups get together and pay a driver to go to the farm weekly for them.  I am going to check out their products and report back.  It is really interesting that none of the milk is pasteurized.  Alysha said that most customers say the milk taste fresh and creamy.  This farm also has turkeys, chickens, beef, pork, yogurt, cheese, produce and some fruit.  Here is the website to the Texas farm http://www.sandcreekfarm.net.
Here is the wedsite to see if there is a farm in your state.

SAND CREEK FARM & DAIRY is a family farm nestled in the rolling hills near Cameron, TX.  We milk Jersey and jersey cross cows on a grass based, grain-free, rotational grazing system. Our cows are tested and free of BLV (bovine leukemia virus), TB, Brucellosis, BVD (bovine viral diarrhea) for your protection and ours. Our pastures are organically managed for forage quality and mineral content to provide nutrient dense milk.
DAIRY ITEMS:Whole Milk, Skim Milk, Raw Milk Cheeses, Ice Cream, Yogurt+, Butter, Whey. All dairy products are raw, non-pasteurized, non-homogenized, pastured, grass fed diet, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, humanely raised. + Note: yogurt is pasteurized by process
Pastured Broilers—Soy-free, mixed whole grain non-certified organic feed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, humanely raised.
Pastured Pork—Soy-free, mixed whole grain non-certified organic feed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, humanely raised.
Pastured Lamb—Hormone-free, antibiotic-free, humanely raised.
Pastured Beef—Hormone-free, antibiotic-free, humanely raised.
Pastured Eggs—Soy-free, mixed whole grain non-certified organic feed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, humanely raised.
Honey—Filtered and bottled, no added ingredients, all natural.
By Texas law, raw milk products must be picked up on the farm under threat of prosecution from the State. Therefore many families around the State have formed groups to come to the farm to pick up their items.  They come weekly, monthly and every other month. Ask us if there is a group near you. 
A limited number of Farm Memberships are offered each year giving members a discounted price on milk and eggs at the farm. Meat items can be purchase by the quarter, half or whole for discounted prices.
Sand Creek Farm, Ben and Alysha Godfrey, 1552 CR 267, Cameron TX 76520. (254) 697-2927 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (254) 697-2927      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
E-mail: alysha@sandcreekfarm.net or ben@sandcreekfarm.net or alysha@texasbb.com. Website: http://www.sandcreekfarm.net/.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Organic This And Organic That

I finally made my way downtown to Whole Foods.  In tow were two very small children that were patient as their momma wondered up and down each and every aisle grabbing organic this and organic that.  It was health food heaven!!!  When I got home with all of my treasures I wondered if I had just gotten ripped off.  The government is after all behind the organic certifiation and labeling.  Really, what does organic certifiation of products, crops and livestock mean?  I know organic means grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms.  The USDA organic cetification also mentioned that to be "organic," the ingredients cannot be grown in sewage sludge.  I didn't know that anything was grown in sewage sludge so I really didn't know there was a necessity to exclude this.  Apparently so.  Uhhhh!!!  The last organic ingredient cetification requirement mentioned was an organic ingredient could not use ionizing radiation.  I had never heard of ionizing radiation so I wouldn't have know to watch out for this either.  In my quick research I gathered that ioniziong radiation or irradiated food was basically x raying food to increase shelf life, destroy insects and microorganisms, and inhibit sprouting of certain crops. Just fyi here is the sign that is on all food that has been irradiated.  This sign only has to be on the food if the entire product was irradiated.  So, if a tomato was subjected to irradiation, it has to have this symbol.  If spaghetti sauce contains irradiated tomatoes, it does not have to have the symbol.
Radura symbol (stylized flower inside broken circle)

 Okay so I got the certification requirements on the growing/processing of the ingredient.  Now I needed to know what the organic label on the acutal product box means.  I wondered if I was spending more for products labeled organic and the "label" stood for 50% organic. I just wasn't sure.  So I did a quick search on the USDA requirement for labeling a product organic.  I felt much better.  To have an organic label 95% of the ingredients must be organic.  The remaining ingredients must be on an allowed ingredient list for non organic food.  Here is the best list I could find of these ingredients.  http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/2452   It also stated that acricultural ingredients must be organic unless not available.  Here is a quick overview of all labeling of organic products.

Image describing organic labeling.  If product is 100 percent 0r 95 percent organic, the use of the USDA Organic Seal is optional. Product with at least 70 percent organic ingredients is considered made with organic ingredients and the use of the organic seal is not permitted. Product that uses less than 70 percent organic ingredients can list organic ingredients in the ingredient list only and the use of the organic seal is not permitted.

 Hurray!  I just gave myself more peace of mind.  I did find many needed organic replacements.  We found  yummy organic graham crackers.  With 2 toddlers around some processed food is a must for picky, feed themself, can't wait a another minute for their snack kind of people.  And I must say that all of the 365 Everyday Value Organic products (which is a Whole Food brand) that we have tried have been great.  Did you know that Heinz Ketchup is now available in organic?  I have to confess that I found this at Wal Mart after I ran in for 3 items.  I was very surprised.  This momma is looking forward to the day the Whole Foods opens in the Hill Country Galleria.  Going grocery shopping downtown is quite the adventure.

PS here is the link to the cetification information http://www.on-ic.com/FAQs.aspx

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kid Tested And Approved Easy Meal

Tonight I pulled out a variety of items for a grown up meal and a little people meal.  Then I was distracted by a little person that kept pulling out plastic plates, bowls, and cups from the cabinets.  And then another little person who kept tripping over them!  So after all the starts and stops I decided to try to salvage the kale and chard I had already cooked.  I grabbed some quinoa gluten free linguine pasta, rotisserie chicken left over from lunch and pasta sauce.  I threw this together and topped it with parmesan cheese.  It was a hit.  Especially with 1 of 3 and 3 of 3.  I had to dig into my dinner and share as they couldn't get enough.  Unfortunately 2 of 3 would not even try it, which is pretty much 2 of 3's norm these days.  Kale and chard are always great food to sneak into a meal.  Kale has a lot of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.  It is high in Vit K, Vit C, beta carotene, calcium, and other nutrients.  Chard has high levels of magnesium, calcium, Vit K, iron, potassium, vitamin A, folate, zinc, copper, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and vitamin E.  This fast meal was a nutritious meal I felt really good serving my family.  Perfect for the mom of 3 who had too many cooks in the kitchen tonight!

Ingredients:  organic kale, orgainic chard, olive oil, salt and pepper, rotisserie chicken, organic pasta sauce, organic quinoa linguine pasta, and parmesan cheese
Directions:  Chop the kale and chard into small pieces and saute in olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper.  Boil the pasta.  Heat the pasta sauce then add the chicken and cooked kale and chard.  Top with parmasan cheese. 

PS.  This was also the first time we tried the supergrain quinoa linguine pasta by Ancient Harvest.  I have to say this was the best pasta noodle I have ever eaten.  I loved the firm texture and the taste.  Also, 1 of 3 who never eats pasta loved it too and asked that I buy it again. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Do It Yourself

So here are a few tips to modifiy your own baking recipes to make them more nutritious.  First up: flour.  When a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour it is easy to add some whole wheat which is more nutritious.  Simply use 1 cup of all purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour.  I have tried recipes with the entire flour whole wheat pastry flour and it was too dense. 
Next up: oil.  Another quick and easy change is to use applesause instead of oil.  It does not change the texture or the taste in my opinion.  Yogurt is another substitute.  I prefer applesauce though.  Try it out and see.  We even use this little trick when making pancakes. 
Finally, it's time to take on sugar.  I like to substitute honey in place of some sugar in muffins.  I don't substitute all of the sugar as I want to ensure my little people will eat it.  For example, if a recipe called for 1 cup sugar I often use 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup honey.  When I make this substitution, I always use less oil or applesause so there is not too much liquid.  Usually I just subtract the 1/2 cup of honey from the amount of oil a recipe suggests.  I like to use honey as much as possible for its health benefits.  "The 3 key health benefits of honey are related to the fact that: 1. Honey is nature’s energy booster 2. Honey is a great immunity system builder 3. Honey is a natural remedy for many ailments."  http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/health-benefits-of-honey.html 
I would love your feedback if you try these suggestions out.  Also please let me know if you have any healthy tricks for baking!!! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tamari, Tamari, I Love You Tamari

Ninety percent of the soy beans grown in the United States are GMO (genetically modified organisms).  So when I discovered Organic Tamari gluten free soy sauce by San-J (reduced sodium), I was excited.  Super tasty!  We have eaten stir fry twice since this little gem has come to live in our refrigerator.  I like to use olive oil and the Tamari soy sauce to cook chicken breasts.  As the chicken starts to cook I usually cut it up with kitchen sciccors into bite sizes so it will cook faster.  Once the chicken is cooked I add bok choy, snow peas, red bell pepper, water chestnuts, baby corn, bean sprouts, mushrooms, a bit of cilantro, and green and purple cabbage.  Once the greens are wilted it's time to serve it up.  Preparation time is around 15 minutes.  Or you can do what I sometimes do and grab the Pacific stir fry kit and coleslaw mix kit at Central Market.  The veggies are cut and ready to go.  I've gotta have fast food every once and a while.  This is it.  It may not be organic but in a pinch it is still delicious and nutritious.  Cooking time is around 15 minutes.  I love you, Tamari.

PS. I add the coleslaw mix because of the green and purple cabbage.  Cabbage has high amounts of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and high levels of glucosinolates which research suggests help fight cancer.  http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=19
"Cabbage is rich in the following nutrients:
Vitamin A: responsible for the protection of your skin and eyes.
Vitamin C: an all important anti-oxidant and helps the mitochondria to burn fat.
Vitamin E: a fat soluble anti-oxidant which plays a role in skin integrity.
Vitamin B: helps maintain integrity of nerve endings and boosts energy metabolism"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Preliminary Report Card

I thought today would be a good day to update on how this change is affecting our lives.  Since we started this journey 2 weeks ago my husband has lost 8 pounds and I have lost 5 1/2 pounds.  I have had so much more energy and have not been having the afternoon sleepies!  Woooo Hoooo!  There is an exception to the last statement and that was when I was eating the brown rice cocoa cereal like it was going out of style.  I am sleeping much deeper at night and waking up feeling rested.  This momma has had little sleep for the past 3 years so I've still got a ways to go.  I think my chidren would say that I am much more fun to be around and more energetic.  Again, I still have a long way before I am completely myself but this diet change has taken me a long way in a short time.  For this I am thankful.

I really have not craved sweets like I used to crave them.  In fact I have only had 2 pieces of 1 of 3's Halloween candy.  That is saying something as in the past I have raided that plastic pumpkin as soon as it arrived home and 1 of 3 was sleeping.  Ha ha.   

I have also found that I am actually spending less on food even though the organic food is more expensive.  Processed foods from the grocery store are very expensive too so when we cut them out it has proven cheaper.  In fact, we have spent $200 on groceries for the entire week.  I tell you that has not always been the case.  We waste very little food and are very selective about what we buy.  I buy just what I need for the week.  That is also another change.  I used to buy huge amounts of food at the grocery store so I could prevent another shopping trip.  Then I would forget to use some of it or it was just too much and food went to waste. 

We are trying to eat at least 51% of our diet organic, raw vegetable and fruits.  That means most snacks are pieces of fruit and at least one meal a day is a big salad.  This salad is not skimpy either.  I put blue cheese crumbles and eat dressing.  It is actually why I was a bit surprised that I had lost so much weight already.  My point is we are eating yummy food, not starving ourselves, and losing weight and feeling better.  It takes planning and preperation but is worth the work.  Even with the 3 small children I have found it manageable.  So far, so good...okay, great!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bistro Bison

Tonight we feasted on grass fed bison from the farmers' market.  To be honest, the thought of eating bison made me feel a tiny bit queasy.  I wondered if it was going to have a gamey flavor or a taste I just couldn't get out of my mouth.  So when I started to cook this meal I was a bit timid.  As the hours went on the house smelled so incredible that I became hopeful.  I steamed broccoli and sauted mushrooms for sides.  Finally, it was time to take the bison out of the oven.  We all were anxious to try this healthy, lean meat.  My husband gave it a thumbs up and said it was much better than he had expected.  1 of 3 took and tiny piece and said it was good but she didn't want anymore.  I had a bit and quite liked it.  I do think that this may be a meat that I am going to have to acquire a taste for before I just love it.  I am willing to keep trying bison for the health benefits. 

"Health Benefits of Bison

  • Grass-fed Bison provides nutrient dense, low fat, low cholesterol meat with as many Omega-3s per serving as salmon, and three to six times the amount of omega-3s as grain fed animals.
  • It contains the highest-know levels of the fat-blocker and anti-carcinogen, CLA (conjugated linolaic acid). Research on CLA is showing evidence that CLA has the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of immune disorders.
  • It also has high concentrations of selenium, a natural trace element that acts as a mood elevator. The original "happy meal". In research conducted by Dr. Martin Marchello at the Carrington Research Extension Center, grass fed Bison was determined to contain as much as four times more selenium than grain fed Bison.
  • Bison fits the dietary recommendations of the American Heart and American Diabetes associations.
  • Grass-fed Bison contains four times the amount of vitamin E found in grain fed beef. It is also a rich source of the vitamin beta-carotene, a vital antioxidant which reduces the risk of cancer by preventing cell degeneration."

Here is the recipe we got from the farmers' market.  Enjoy!!

Mexican Beer Braised Bison Roast with Onions

4 lbs. bison chuck roasr
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 Ibs onions, thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves
2 tsp. mexican oregano
2 tsp. cumin
2 bay leaves
1 chipotle pepper
12 oz mexican beer (Negro Modelo, Bohemia)
1 cup water
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pat roast dry and rub with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
Heat oil in oven proof, 5 quart, heavy pot over medium high heat until hot. Brown meat
on all sides. Transfer to plate.
Add onions to pot and saute, stirring until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic,
oregano, cumin, chipotle pepper, remaining salt and pepper. Continue to cook for 2
minutes. Deglaze mixture with beer and water, add bay leaves. Bring to a boil, return
meat to pot and cover.
Braise in oven until tender - approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Let stand uncovered in
onion sauce about 30 minutes. Remove meat and shred returning to onion mixture.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Did you notice the name change of the blog?  It is more representative of the mission of this blog.

We are hooked!  Eggs from hens raised on pasture from the farmers' market are fabulous.  You can taste the difference from the eggs available at the grocery store, for sure.  We hardly ever ate the store bought eggs and no child of mine begged for them.  The kids, especially 1 of 3 and 3 of 3, love the farmers' market eggs.  We've been eating them at least once a day. 
I did a bit of research and there are health benefits to eating eggs from hens raised on pasture too!  Hurray!

"LATEST RESULTS: Eggs from hens raised on pasture show 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D as typical supermarket eggs.
RESULTS FROM OUR PREVIOUS STUDY: Eggs from hens allowed to peck on pasture are a heck of a lot better than those from chickens raised in cages! Our testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
• 1⁄3 less cholesterol• 1⁄4 less saturated fat• 2⁄3 more vitamin A• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids• 3 times more vitamin E• 7 times more beta carotene
These amazing results come from 14 flocks around the country that range freely on pasture or are housed in moveable pens that are rotated frequently to maximize access to fresh pasture and protect the birds from predators."

So I think it would be fair to say, run and don't walk to the nearest farmers' market to find some organic eggs from pasture fed hens soon!  You'll love them and so will your body.