Archive for June, 2012
If you’ve ever made homemade bread, crackers, muffins, etc then you know that you pretty much have a ‘shelf life’ of about 1 day before you have to move them to the fridge or freezer before they spoil. So what about those products on the shelf at the store? How does that loaf of bread, prepared salad, can of soup or deli meat stay fresh after weeks and months just sitting there? The answer – food additives, preservatives and chemicals. Unbelievably there are over 300 chemicals used in processed foods today and statistics show that the average American household spends about 90 percent of their food budget on such foods! These manmade chemicals are seen as foreign to our bodies, which often results in a number of implications to our health and well being. Allergies are a common side effect and MSG is known to cause overeating and weight gain. The best way to avoid exposure to these harmful chemicals is to understand the most common and dangerous additives and which foods they are most often found in. Here is our list of the top 10 food additives to avoid.
1. Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame, (E951) more popularly known as Nutrasweet and Equal, is found in foods labeled “diet” or “sugar free”. Aspartame is believed to be carcinogenic and accounts for more reports of adverse reactions than all other foods and food additives combined. Aspartame is not your friend. Aspartame is a neurotoxin and carcinogen. Known to erode intelligence and affect short-term memory, the components of this toxic sweetener may lead to a wide variety of ailments including brain tumor, diseases like lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, emotional disorders like depression, anxiety attacks, dizziness, headaches, nausea, mental confusion, migraines and seizures. Acesulfame-K, a relatively new artificial sweetener found in baking goods, gum and gelatin, has not been thoroughly tested and has been linked to kidney tumors.
Found in: diet or sugar free sodas, diet coke, coke zero, jello (and other gelatins), desserts, sugar free gum, drink mixes, baking goods, table top sweeteners, cereal, breathmints, pudding, kool-aid, ice tea, chewable vitamins, toothpaste
2. High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a highly-refined sweetener which has become the number one source of calories in America. It is found in almost all processed foods. HFCS packs on the pounds faster than any other ingredient, increases your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage, among other harmful effects.
Found in: most processed foods, breads, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, canned vegetables, cereals
3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG / E621)
MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and many restaurant foods. MSG is known as an excitotoxin, a substance which overexcites cells to the point of damage or death. Studies show that regular consumption of MSG may result in adverse side effects which include depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity. MSG effects the neurological pathways of the brain and disengages the “I’m full” function which explains the effects of weight gain.
Found in: Chinese food (Chinese Restaurant Syndrome ) many snacks, chips, cookies, seasonings, most Campbell Soup products, frozen dinners, lunch meats
4. Trans Fat
Trans fat is used to enhance and extend the shelf life of food products and is among the most dangerous substances that you can consume. Found in deep-fried fast foods and certain processed foods made with margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, trans fats are formed by a process called hydrogenation. Numerous studies show that trans fat increases LDL cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol, increases the risk of heart attacks, heart disease and strokes, and contributes to increased inflammation, diabetes and other health problems. Oils and fat are now forbidden on the Danish market if they contain trans fatty acids exceeding 2 per cent, a move that effectively bans partially hydrogenated oils.
Found in: margarine, chips and crackers, baked goods, fast foods
5. Common Food Dyes
Studies show that artificial colorings which are found in soda, fruit juices and salad dressings, may contribute to behavioral problems in children and lead to a significant reduction in IQ. Animal studies have linked other food colorings to cancer. Watch out for these ones:
Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133)
Banned in Norway, Finland and France. May cause chromosomal damage
Found in: candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods
Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)
Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market until supplies run out! Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission
Found in: fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more!
Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)
Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage.
Found in: American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more!
6. Sodium Sulfite (E221)
Preservative used in wine-making and other processed foods. According to the FDA, approximately one in 100 people is sensitive to sulfites in food. The majority of these individuals are asthmatic, suggesting a link between asthma and sulfites. Individuals who are sulfite sensitive may experience headaches, breathing problems, and rashes. In severe cases, sulfites can actually cause death by closing down the airway altogether, leading to cardiac arrest.
Found in: Wine and dried fruit
7. Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite
Sodium nitrate (or sodium nitrite) is used as a preservative, coloring and flavoring in bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats, corned beef, smoked fish and other processed meats. This ingredient, which sounds harmless, is actually highly carcinogenic once it enters the human digestive system. There, it forms a variety of nitrosamine compounds that enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc with a number of internal organs: the liver and pancreas in particular. Sodium nitrite is widely regarded as a toxic ingredient, and the USDA actually tried to ban this additive in the 1970′s but was vetoed by food manufacturers who complained they had no alternative for preserving packaged meat products. Why does the industry still use it? Simple: this chemical just happens to turn meats bright red. It’s actually a color fixer, and it makes old, dead meats appear fresh and vibrant.
8. BHA and BHT (E320)
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are preservatives found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing flavor or becoming rancid. Effects the neurological system of the brain, alters behavior and has potential to cause cancer. BHA and BHT are oxidants which form cancer-causing reactive compounds in your body.
Found in: Potato chips, gum, cereal, frozen sausages, enriched rice, lard, shortening, candy, jello
9. Sulfur Dioxide (E220)
Sulfur additives are toxic and in the United States of America, the Federal Drugs Administration have prohibited their use on raw fruit and vegetables. Adverse reactions include: bronchial problems particularly in those prone to asthma, hypotension (low blood pressure), flushing tingling sensations or anaphylactic shock. It also destroys vitamins B1 and E. Not recommended for consumption by children. The International Labour Organization says to avoid E220 if you suffer from conjunctivitis, bronchitis, emphysema, bronchial asthma, or cardiovascular disease.
Found in: beer, soft drinks, dried fruit, juices, cordials, wine, vinegar, and potato products
10. Potassium Bromate
We all have those days where everything just goes wrong or we don’t feel well or it’s just Monday and going back to bed sounds like heaven. Days like that call for soup – but not just any soup – Miso Ramen Soup! One bowl and your worries will be gone. This stuff is powerful. It’s amazing how good you feel after just one bowl! Maybe it’s the fact that miso is bursting with health benefits. Not only does it contain healthy doses of vitamin E, vitamin B12 and protein but it also has been shown to reduce the risk of breast, lung, prostate and colon cancer. Miso has a very alkalizing effect on the body and strengthens the immune system to combat infection. Its high antioxidant activity gives it anti-aging properties as well. It’s the new ‘chicken soup’ for the soul!
- 1 1/2 cups Shiitake Mushroom Broth, hot but not boiling
- 1 tbsp sweet white miso or a blend of your favorite misos
- 2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari (if you follow a gluten free diet make sure to use a gluten free sauce)
- 1/2 tbsp neutral oil (sunflower, safflower or grape seed work well)
- 1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (if frozen thaw first)
- 1/8 cup julienned carrots
- 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced or roughly chopped
- small handful bean sprouts
- 3-4 ounces cooked ramen noodles of your choice *see notes
- 1 green onion, thinly shaved, optional garnish
- Heat a medium sauté pan over medium high heat, add the oil and when hot, sauté the garlic and onions until nicely browned and caramelized. Add the corn and carrots and continue cooking until tender.
- While the vegetables are cooking add the miso to the broth and stir until completely dissolved. The broth should be hot but not boiling as this would decrease some of the nutritional properties of the miso.
- Add the soy sauce and noodles to the broth and stir well. Add the bean sprouts and top with the sautéed vegetables.
- Garnish the top with green onions and serve immediately.
Makes 1 serving.
Nutritional info not available at this time.
This recipe makes one serving but you can easily adjust the amounts to make as many servings as you require.
There are many different types of organic ramen noodles on the market that are not only healthy but delicious too. Your local health store should carry a couple of different kinds but if not head down to your local Asian market and see what you can find. I used this particular brand and really liked it!
Feel free to add or subtract any veggies to the soup that you’d like. I’ve added sugar snap peas, mushrooms, napa cabbage – it’s completely up to you.
I make Homemade Almond Milk at least a couple of times a week. I love the smooth richness of the milk and knowing that there are only 2 ingredients involved, almonds and water. Making homemade milk leaves me with a lot of ground almond meal left over. While I usually toast it in the oven and store it in zip lock bags for later use, lately I’ve been using the almond meal raw in several different ways. The first use is for Frugal Almond Meal Cookies and later this week I’ll have another recipe using almond meal. These cookies are reminiscent of Pecan Sandies but I’ve also included an option to make them into a chocolate almond cookie because what’s better than chocolate and almonds? It’s a win/win/win as far as I’m concerned. I get to use up the almond meal and I get 2 different and delicious cookies.
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 cups raw almond meal left over from making Homemade Almond Milk (If you don’t have almond meal you can soak 1 1/4 cups almonds in water overnight, drain the water and then grind the almonds in a food processor. See notes.)
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 3/4 cup maple syrup (use honey for chocolate cookies)
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder (for chocolate cookies only)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Mix the ground flax seed with the water in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl mix together the almond meal, whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda and salt.
- Add the remaining ingredients including the flax seed mixture to the bowl and stir until completely combined.
- Roll approximately 2 tbsp each of the dough into a balls and place on the baking sheets. Press down gently to flatten slightly.
- Bake 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on cooling racks. Cool and enjoy!
Makes approximately 36 cookies.
Serving size 1 cookie.
Nutritional information not available. We don’t have accurate nutritional info for the leftover almond meal to be able to calculate the nutritional facts correctly.
Store cookies in an airtight container for 4-5 days or freeze in ziplock bags for longer storage.
Raw almond meal will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
I LOVE asparagus. Just type asparagus in our search bar and you’ll see all the ways we enjoy it. After eating this dish I might never eat asparagus any other way. Truth be told it’s the dressing that makes this meal. It’s so delicious I want to grab a spoon and slurp it all up. While it is perfectly paired for asparagus it would also be delicious over roasted or grilled veggies, a green salad, pasta, rice and more. Enjoy!
For the Sweet and Sour Dressing:
- 2 tbsp miso *see notes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp reduced sodium soy or tamari sauce (if you follow a gluten free diet make sure to use a gluten free sauce)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
- 1 tsp raw honey or coconut nectar
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 bunches of asparagus (about 30-40 stalks in all), rinsed and woody ends removed
- julienned leek, optional garnish
- Following the instructions for your grill, cooking the asparagus until bright green and tender. You can also cook your asparagus using a grill pan on the stove. Rub a little olive oil on your pan and over medium high heat cook the asparagus, covered, for about 10-15 minutes.
- While your asparagus is cooking add the remaining ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until throughly combined.
- Remove the asparagus from the grill and transfer to a large serving plate. Drizzle with the dressing and top with garnish if using.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
Makes 6-8 servings.
Serving size 5-7 asparagus spears with 1 tbsp dressing.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 215, Cal. from Fat: 42, Total Fat: 4.5g, Sat. Fat: .5g, Carbs: 32.5g, Fiber: 7.5g, Sugars: 7.5g, Protein: 9g, Sodium: 740mg, Chol: 0mg
This dish is best when served right away. The leftover dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
I used a chickpea miso for the dressing which has a slightly stronger flavor than a traditional white miso and is also a bit more salty. For those that are gluten free or are looking to avoid soy products this is a wonderful miso to have on hand. If you can’t find chickpea miso at your local grocery store then a red miso would be a good substitute in this recipe although any miso will do the trick.
I bet most everyone has had potato pancakes or at least heard of them and they are delicious, but now that I’ve tried Root Vegetables Pancakes regular potatoes have taken the back seat to these colorful and tasty little cakes. I’ll be the first one to say that beets have been, at best, on my ‘tolerated’ list of vegetables. They have certainly never been a star attraction. Lately though I’ve been using them in some different ways and found that they are delicious when prepared well. In this recipe beets are combined with carrots, onions and spices and held together by garbanzo flour which also adds a rich flavor as well as protein. Perfect as a side dish or as a meal paired with a fresh green salad.
- 1 large beet, shredded (about 1 packed cup)
- 2 medium carrots, shredded (about 1 packed cup)
- 1 small/medium onion, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper or to taste
- 1/2 cup garbanzo flour
- 1-2 tsp neutral flavor oil for pan
- Place the grated vegetables in a bowl and mix together with the rosemary, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.
- Add the garbanzo flour and stir until combined. The juice from the vegetables mixed with the flour will make the mixture sticky.
- Lightly oil a large skillet or griddle and place over medium high heat. Drop the vegetable mixture by spoonfuls (about 1/4 cup) onto the griddle and press down gently to flatten slightly.
- Cook until browned, about 5 minutes before flipping over. Cook 3-4 minutes on the other side or until brown and crispy outside and tender inside.
- Serve hot.
Makes 10 pancakes.
Serving size 2 pancakes.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 108, Cal. from Fat: 23, Total Fat: 4g, Sat. Fat: 1g, Carbs: 19g, Fiber: 3g, Sugars: 4g, Protein: 3g, Sodium: 218mg, Chol: 0mg
These pancakes are best eaten right away. They can be refrigerated and reheated but they won’t have the nice crispy outside texture when reheating.
For a different kind of hash browns (or should I say hash ‘reds’) you can omit the garbanzo flour and cook the shredded vegetables in 1-2 tbsp oil as you would hash browns. The sweetness of the vegetables are really brought out as they cook and caramelize together. Delicious!
I spent a good 20 years or so thinking that I absolutely hated avocados. I made sure any guacamole was left off my meal and if I saw green chunks in a dish I would pass on it. Luckily a mistake at a local mexican restaurant reversed my thinking and now I love the stuff. After that incident I was determined to give all the foods I thought I hated a shot. While I discovered a love for sweet potatoes and butternut squash I learned that I did in fact, really, really, really hate mushrooms. So you can only imagine my surprise when I tasted what I thought was the best noodle soup I had ever eaten in my life and it was made with a shiitake mushroom broth – WHAT?! It didn’t taste mushroomy at all (that’s totally a word by the way!). I figured a good vegetable broth would work just as well, right? Nope! It was an uber fail when I recreated it at home! Ok, fine! I’ll use the stupid mushrooms and make a broth. What I do for a cup of soup!
Now, you’ll still never catch me chomping on a mushroom but I do really like this broth. It’s so ridiculously easy to make and has a ton of uses.
Most important use – Soul Soothing Miso Ramen Soup. You NEED to make this – but only after I share it with you next week which gives you plenty of time to have your broth ready to go!
- 1/2 cup sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms (about 2-3 mushrooms)
- 4 green onions, diced
- 3 tbsp neutral oil (safflower, sunflower, canola or grape seed work great)
- 4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 4 cups water
- Heat a large soup pot on medium high heat and add the oil.
- When the oil is hot add the fresh shiitake mushrooms and green onions. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are browned and tender.
- Add the water and dried mushrooms to the pot and remove from the heat. Let sit for 3-4 hours.
- Use a slotted spoon and gently remove the dried and fresh mushrooms from the broth. Transfer the remaining broth and green onions to a blender or food processor.
- Process on high until the green onions are very finely chopped. Pour the broth through a strainer or cheesecloth to remove the leftover pieces.
- Use as you would with any broth or enjoy in our Soul Soothing Miso Ramen Soup.
Makes 4 cups.
Nutritional info not available at this time.
Leftover broth can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can also freeze any leftovers for up to 6 months.
Sea World. You should totally go! You should also take a spare camera battery with you. Wish I listened to my own advise!
By the way, you can actually TOUCH the sea rays. They are incredibly soft and slimy at the same time. The kids thought it was awesome touching them. They come right up to you and stick their heads out. Very cute!
If you do anything while at Sea World it should be riding the new ride, The Manta. Caleb and I (in the last row of people) could have spent the whole day riding this coaster. Keegan was just below the height requirement (48 inches) and Cliff is a roller coaster wussy so they didn’t ride at all.
There are a bunch of kiddie rides and tons of water attractions so bring your swimsuit if you come on a hot day.
Apparently I can win an impossible game and get a GINORMOUS stuffed unicorn but the lottery – not so much. Go figure!
If you have the energy (we didn’t) Sea World has some fantastic fireworks at night and even a Shamu show that we heard was wonderful. It’s great fun for the whole family. Just remember to pack your own food and plan on having a picnic in their outdoor area.
You need to make this dish! Aside from the powerhouse of nutrients it packs, there is the sweet and saucy teriyaki sauce that is so good you could eat it with a spoon! While my husband tolerates hummus, he’s never been a fan of chickpeas in any other form. Yet after tasting this dish he’s changed his tune. The key is to marinate the chickpeas for a few hours (overnight is best). They almost get a little caramelized while cooking and make for a super filling meal. This is definitely the most delicious stir fry I’ve ever had. Enjoy!
For the teriyaki marinade:
- 1/4 cup reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple (or 1/4 cup pineapple juice)
- 1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (regular sesame oil will work too)
- 1/2 tsp minced ginger
- 1 tsp minced garlic
For the stir fry:
- 1 can (15 ounces) or 1 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 cup sliced sugar snap peas
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 cup chopped pineapple pieces
- 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, almonds or cashews (optional but so yummy)
- Cooked rice, noodles or salad greens
- Add all the ingredients for the marinade to a blender and process until smooth.
- In a large bowl add the chickpeas and pour the marinade over top. Stir to combine and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
- Heat a large non stick skillet over medium high heat and using a slotted spoon add the marinated chickpeas to the pan. (Keep the reserved marinade on hand)
- Stirring frequently cook the chickpeas for 2-3 minutes. Add the broccoli, carrots and peas. Add the marinade to the pan and stir until well coated. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the pineapple and cook, uncovered, for an additional minute.
- Serve over rice, noodles or salad greens and garnish with roasted nuts if desired.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 215, Cal. from Fat: 42, Total Fat: 4.5g, Sat. Fat: .5g, Carbs: 32.5g, Fiber: 7.5g, Sugars: 7.5g, Protein: 9g, Sodium: 740mg, Chol: 0mg
Leftover stir fry can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
I hope all you father’s out there had a great Father’s Day this past weekend. I had been reminiscing this past week of previous Father’s Days remembering how after church on Sunday we would all gather at my mom and dad’s house to cook out. Along with whatever was being cooked on the grill there were always fresh vegetables just picked out of my dad’s garden and strawberry shortcake made with his homegrown strawberries. What great memories!
I think every cookout needs potato salad so I was inspired by those happy memories to make this Smoky Ranch Potato Salad. It doesn’t get much easier than this. You can keep it basic or you can add additional diced veggies for even more flavor and texture.
In loving memory of my father and husband.
- 8 good sized red skinned potatoes , quartered
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup Ranch Dressing
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp coconut aminos
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp maple sugar
- 1/4 cup green pepper, diced (optional)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)
- 1 stalk celery, diced (optional)
- 2 red radishes, diced (optonal)
- Place the potatoes and salt in a large pot. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until just tender when pierced with a knife.
- Drain the water, cover and set aside until cool enough to handle. Once cooled cut into bite sized pieces.
- In a small bowl whisk together the ranch dressing, paprika, coconut aminos, mustard and maple sugar.
- Add any additional veggies if using and then fold the dressing gently into the potatoes. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours to allow the flavors to blend together.
- Serve chilled.
Makes approximately 6 cups (just potatoes with no additional veggies).
Serving size 1/2 cup.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 148, Cal. from Fat: 80, Total Fat: 9g, Sat. Fat: 1g, Carbs: 18g, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 2g, Protein: 3g, Sodium: 78mg, Chol: 0mg
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
I love handbags. Some women like shoes – I like handbags. I have enough handbags that I could probably open a store and easily have enough inventory for a year. I also collect stamps and little wooden boxes – weird, I know. Apparently I collect cauliflower too. Last week I opened my vegetable drawers and found I had 3 heads of cauliflower – that’s A LOT of cauliflower. I used a bunch in my salads, shredded a whole head and made Crispy Fried Rice and even steamed a bunch for dinner one night. Even after all that I still had a good amount of cauliflower left. I Googled around for some recipes and got inspired after seeing a few for cauliflower couscous. I love the way it turned out – perfect for summertime! Enjoy.
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (if you’re using sun dried tomatoes in oil it’s great to reserve the oil and use for the salad)
- 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
- 1 handful fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
- 12 Kalamata olives, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Process the cauliflower in food processor with the ‘S’ blade to achieve a couscous like consistency (you can also chop finely by hand).
- Add all the ingredients, except the olive oil to a large bowl and mix until throughly combined.
- Drizzle with olive oil (you can use more or less to your taste) and stir until coated.
- Place in the fridge until well chilled and serve immediately.
Makes approximately 4 cups.
Serving size 1 cup.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 176, Cal. from Fat: 117.5, Total Fat: 13.5g, Sat. Fat: 1.5g, Carbs: 12.5g, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 5.5g, Protein: 3.5g, Sodium: 310.5mg, Chol: 0mg
Leftover salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.