Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup

As if we needed another reason to avoid high fructose corn syrup, a new study is finding mercury in almost half of the tested samples. Yes, the very same thing that we have been trying to avoid in vaccinations has made it's way into the food supply.

Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.
HFCS has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80 percent more HFCS than average.

Read the whole article here.

I will continue to be a label reader and stick with as much organic and whole foods as I can. Every time I turn around there is more evidence that this is necessary... especially for those little developing minds and bodies.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan

Cleaning out the freezer/pantry this week...

Monday
Mashed Potato Soup
Homemade Biscuits (make extra to freeze)

Tuesday
Ravioli & Sauce

Wednesday
Black Bean Salsa Polenta (a new favorite)

Thursday
Crock Pot Chili

Friday
Fresh veggie platter
Homemade Pizza

Sunday, January 25, 2009

ch ch ch chia!

Remember chia pets? I bet you never thought about eating chia seeds. Me either.


Turns out chia seeds (the food grade ones) are a "super food" and pretty popular amongst raw foodies. I got curious about them awhile ago, but the prices in the stores were super expensive and I forgot it until Dirkey hooked me up with some chia pudding. It was weirdly satisfying.

So I whipped out my Amazon gift certificate and found a decent price on some over there.

They came in the mail about a week ago and I threw together some coconut milk, water, cocao powder and agave. Chia seeds absorb lots of water and form a sort of gel-like porridge.
I've experimented a little more and my favorite combo is coconut milk, chocolate sauce and coconut shreds.

It's weird looking. Kinda like tapioca? I am enjoying it.


As my brother said to me the other day "You eat a lot of weird stuff."




Some of the claims of chia seeds are:

"Chia is an excellent vegetarian source of omega fatty acids, an easily digestible form of protein and full of minerals, vitamins and soluble fiber. It has much in common with flaxseed with the distinct advantage that the natural antioxidants make it more stable. Rich in Fiber, Omega Fatty Acids, Calcium, Iron and Protein."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No-Cry Nap Solution

I guess you could call me an Elizabeth Pantley fan.
If you've known me for any period of time, you know that W was a colicky, "high-needs," sleep-fighting baby. I'd venture to say it was the hardest 6 months of my life. Not sleeping was not the only problem we had, but it definitely contributed negatively to the overall experience.

After searching for answers pretty much everywhere, I finally found some good advice in The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night. No quick fixes or empty promises, just simple strategies to encourage better sleep for the whole family.

I have since picked up The No-Cry Discipline Solution. I also got The No-Cry Potty Training Solution from the library recently. And I've been reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers this month to get some new ideas for the new sleep issues that came along with "the 2's."

Why am I such a fan? Pantley, unlike many other parenting "experts," does not give you one-size-fits-all formulas. Instead she encourages you to check your motives, set realistic expectations, analyze the situation and to create a plan that fits your family. Her strategies are respectful and gentle which meshes well with my own parenting style.

Needless to say, I'm interested in checking out Pantley's new book, The No-Cry Nap Solution.
From the excerpts I've read, it looks like another great resource.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

La La Linky Love

* Found a new blog to love! This gal has mad organizational skillz and these cookies sound really yummy and rather healthy. I am really inspired to get my kitchen in shape.

(I've tried something similar from the Deceptively Delicious cookbook and they were good.)

* 12 Thrift Store Shopping Tips from Simple Mom

* Ways to Save Money on Healthy Organic Foods


Monday, January 19, 2009

Hold the Peanutbutter!

Big salmonella outbreak in PB. FDA is advising that we avoid ALL PB products until they track it down.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2009-01-19-peanut-butter-problems_N.htm?csp=34

Weekly Menu

Monday
take-out

Tuesday
Fresh Veggie Platter
Pot Roast and Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday
Salad
Beef Stir Fry with Brown Rice

Thursday
Grilled Cheese
Tomato Soup

Friday
Fresh Veggie Platter
Homemade Pizza

Friday, January 16, 2009

oops

I thought this would be a fun post-holiday knit. It was supposed to fit the kiddo. But now it fits me... losely. Ooops!
I started out following a pattern so I don't know why the sizing is so off. I used kitchen cotton and made up the stripe pattern so that part was fun. My favorite is the top!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Linky Love!

* 10 Tips on How to Function After a Nearly Sleepless Night
Whether your kid is a naturally great sleeper or quite the opposite, chances are you have had a least a couple nights like that. These simple tips might help after one of those nights. :)

* This is an old post, but it's new to me... DIY Memory Game out of Cereal Boxes! Anyone have a circle cutter I can borrow?

* I'm always a sucker for a cute and easy kid's room decoration.

* Sweet crochet baby toy (via craftzine)

* Remember Poloroid Cameras? I had one as a kid and I really loved that thing. Check out how to covert digital to "poloroid".

* Hey preggos, this one is for you. I've seen a few tutes to covert regular pants to maternity, but this is my fav. All you need is an old pair of pants, an old t-shirt and a few basic sewing supplies.

* Good advice for pretty much all of us... burn those old/ugly/ill-fitting bras ladies!

* Another Raw Brownie Recipe! I'm going to give this one a try soon.

* Frugal Kitchen Tips on Tipnut.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dinner Menu Plan

Well, I sure have been focusing on food a lot on here lately.

Monday
Salad
Leftover Soup

Tuesday
Veggie Platter
Potato and Cheese Fritata

Wednesday
Salad
Chicken Parm
Pasta w/ Red Sauce

Thursday
Salad
Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Friday
Salad
Homemade Pizza

The Curse of the Brown Thumb

It's this time of year again:



The time of year that I thumb through seed catalogs and consider a garden.

I have a lot of domestic skills, but gardening is not one of them. I kill plants... even houseplants.
I don't know why or how, but I just don't have the knack for it. I either over water or under water and I definitely don't know the difference between shade/partial shade/medium light/ yada yada yada.

We have a little area for a kitchen garden in our back yard. The first year I planted a small variety of veggies. The only thing that went well were the beans. The tomatoes took over the whole garden. I swear those things were 6+ feet tall. They crowded out the pepper, cucumbers and anything else I had planted. The next year I didn't plant anything, but all the fallen tomatoes from the year before spouted a new forest of tomatoes.

And that's it. I haven't tried since. I do herbs in pots each year, but even those are usually dead by the end of the season.

I had good intentions last year and even ordered some seeds. I read the Square Foot Gardening book and everything. I got my compost pile going. Never planted the garden though.

I'd really love an abundance of fresh produce from my own organic garden, but it's a lot of work and I'm afraid I'll just kill everything somehow. I think I should give it one more go. I bet W would have fun digging in the dirt with me either way.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wowzers

I think recipe is going to save me from my sweets cravings.



Raw Fudgie Brownies
(from SparkRecipes.com)

1 cup walnuts

1 cup dates, pitted (about 8 big dates)

1/4 cocoa powder

Process in the food processor until well blended. Press into a small (8x8) pan and pop in the freezer until they are firm enough to cut. OR you can roll the dough into "truffles." Store in a zip lock in the freezer. (I rolled mine into balls.)


Obviously, for this to be "raw" you need to use the raw versions of the ingredients.

I added about a Tbs of this raw chocolate sauce I love just to make it a little sticker, but it probably wasn't necessary. A word to the wise, dates (not unlike prunes and other dried fruits) do have a laxative effect. So don't go and eat the whole batch at once, k?

Sorry no pic, but they are brown and rich looking. ;)


ETA: shell, they are dried dates and I got them at the produce market. I'm guessing most grocery stores have them either with the rainsins or the bulk foods.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Breakfast was...

Some variation on this has been our standby lately...

Berry Green Smoothie

1-2 banana(s)

about a cup of blueberries

about a cup of strawberries

Blend in blender with some filtered water and agave (or other natural sweetener).

Add:
3 handfulls of organic baby spinach.

Blend until smooth.

Makes a full blender (about 6 cups) or enough for a big glass for each of the adults and a small cup for the little one.


Today I started with my Spark People program too! Yay!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dinner Menu

Here's the dinner for the week. We'll do leftovers and raw veggies/salads for lunches.
I'll post recipes if anything turns out wonderful but doesn't have a linky. :)

Monday
Asparagus
Roast Chicken
.
Tuesday
Lettuce and Avocado
Black Bean Quesadillas with leftover chicken
.
Wednesday
Fresh veggie crudites
Tex-Mex Polenta
.
Thursday
Salad
Lentil Soup
Multigrain Rolls
.
Friday
Fresh veggie crudites
Homemade Pizza

Friday, January 2, 2009

Juicing, Smoothies and Avoiding McMuffins


Why is it that the things that are healthy and good for you take discipline and effort even if they are easy? Yet all those self-destructive habits come so naturally. I don't know. Maybe it's just me.

I confess that most fast food is a constant temptation to me. If I don't have a plan with food, I am screwed. If I'm depressed and I don't have a plan, forget about it. I can, and have, sustained myself solely on coffee and cookies with some McD's thrown for good measure. I am pretty sure that I am the only person who watched Super Size Me and wanted a big mac afterwards.
Overall my habits have improved over the years. Still, it is easy to fall back into old, unhealthy habits when times get rough. Not to mention that all those passes through the drive thru are not so great on the budget either.

My point?

The juicer is back in rotation. I've done both juicing and green smoothies and like them both for different reasons. Recently we've been on a smoothie kick and I'm feeling the need to switch things up again. My mom got me a super Champion juicer for my bday last summer and I'm ready to put it to some serious work.

The current plan is to alternate between juice a few days a week and green smoothies the days I can get the fresh greens. To get the most benefit from these easy-to-digest super drinks, you are supposed to drink them on an empty stomach. So morning is convenient for us. I'll be trying to eat lots of raw and high quality foods the rest of the day. If I can swing it, I'd like to do an occasional "juice fast" day here or there.

So with this new plan, I am going to see how long I can last without hitting the drive thru for food.

More Info:
Raw Juice Power: Drink It! - Juicing basics + recipes

Green For Life: Ode to Green Smoothies - Why to drink them + recipes

Easy Tex-Mex Polenta

My MIL made this for us last week. It is quick, cheap and filling. I don't know the exact recipe she used, but I recreated it at home this way:



Tex-Mex Polenta



Polenta, prepared

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 jar salsa

1 can diced tomatoes

salt and pepper

sprinkle of cumin and/or chili powder

shredded cheese and/or sour cream (optional)



Heat all ingredients in a sauce pan until bubbling. Serve over polenta. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and/or sour cream if you like.



Basic Polenta

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Spark People

Anyone want to cheer me on? Anyone want some new tools to support weight loss and/or fitness efforts?

Join me on Spark People! My username on there is FaithHopeLove79.

It's similar to other on-line groups I've seen, but it's more comprehensive.
I like that you can keep a food journal, exercise journal and join support groups all in the same place. Oh and the recipe database is quite impressive too. Did I mention that it's FREE!
There is even a "Raw Foods" support group which is of interest to me. I'm kicking my efforts into high gear on Monday. I really need something positive to focus on that I actually have a little bit of control over, ya know?

(No I am not getting any kick back from this post. I just thought it was a great tool.)