Friday, May 29, 2009

Our Daily Bread

Oh, did I say Food Class back on Thursday? Well, ahem...I had some breaking news yesterday at this time. Shane's request to move to the inmate work crew division of the Sheriff's Office was granted. This means for the first time in three years, he'll be on the day shift. As an added bonus, he'll have three day weekends every week (he'll work 4 ten hour days) and holidays off! I'm a little excited. Just a little. Now, let's move on to Food Class.

A few years ago I read an article in a mainstream magazine that said the most nutritious change you can make for your family is to start making your own bread at home. As a wife and mother, I do want the best for my family. As I've learned more about flour, I've finally purchased a grain mill to grind grain at home. It was a purchase I'd contemplated for several years and I'm so glad I took the plunge last month.

There is a great satisfaction from making my family's bread. I don't even do it all the time yet, but when I do present a loaf warm from the oven, it just feels very right. Grinding the grain that made the loaf is even better.

Why would I do this when Wal-Mart sells flour of many sorts for my use?

Read this article to understand why, as well as to learn about enrichment. By the time flour gets to the store shelves, it's at least void of many nutrients if not rancid.

There's a lot of grain out there besides wheat, y'all. Many of you with gluten allergies know this. Right now in my kitchen I have quinoa, barley, spelt, wheat, and a seven grain mix. There are so many more! I've been giving Audrey quinoa as baby cereal and she loves it. I'm about to make a couple of loaves with my seven grain. It's fun to learn about different grains and figure out how to use them in our diet.

I am not a good bread maker, but I play one on TV. My family loves my bread even though I am working on perfecting it (and I have a long way to go!). Don't be afraid, a little butter and honey will cover most of your mistakes. A friend and I ordered the wrong kind of flour for bread making and our bread turned out to be fine bricks. She wisely used hers for bread pudding (while I just dumped more honey on mine until I gave up and tossed it in the trash).

Does making your own bread sound like a huge time investment? To minimize this, I use a recipe that makes 5-6 loaves at once. I have tried to do my baking on Sunday afternoons, then throw some of it in the freezer for later in the week. I've also considered delegating this task to an older child (it's not that hard, and I'd be on hand to help). Once you taste the bread, you'll know it is worth it to make the time for it.

You can find small quantities of grain at health food stores. Large quantities can be bought by a distributor from this company. Health food coops in your area may also be able to help you reduce shipping by ordering together. We have a distributor about an hour and a half away, so those of us who grind our grain put an order together and one of us goes after it.

You might need to research the most cost effective way for you to grind it. I've read that you can do it in a blender or food processor, but I've never tried. If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, KitchenAid sells a grain mill attachment for about $100-$120 (but they aren't being produced again until Fall). I have a Champion Juicer so I bought a grain mill attachment for it at only $60. If you want to buy an actual mill and not an attachment, go for a Bosch. It's an excellent product (but it's not cheap). Look around, if you keep your eyes open you can find something that will fit your budget. A Google search for grain mills will turn up a lot of options.

In the mean time, if you're local to me, I'll be glad to grind for you. Someone did it for me for a while before I was able to buy my mill (thanks again Jennifer!).

Speaking of bread, I'm going to put Missy Audrey in the Ergo and go try my hand at a new batch! Come on over for a slice-but hurry before it's gone!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Awww, a Blog Award

My friend Raoulysgirl gave me an award for being a passionate blogger. Y'all think I'm passionate? Say it aint so...
In order to accept the award I must agree to do the following...
Put the logo in my blog.
Write 5 things I am passionate about besides my blog.
Tag 5 people on my list and let them know that I tagged them.

~Five passions:

1. Truth

2. The unborn

3. Freedom and those who paid for it for us

4. Memorable childhoods

5. Living in the abudant life God promised us


1. Summer, who isn't so vocal, but lives a life of conviction

2. Jennifer, who shares a lot of my passions

3. Ashlyn, who is the apple that's not fallen far from the Momma Tree

4. Amber at Babywearing Buzz, because anyone who can blog mostly on this passion is a friend of mine for life!

5. Vicki, because she's got a great thing going on her blog. Real life, lovin' Jesus, lovin' her family kinda girl.

Getting back to Food Class Thursday!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Substitution Solutions

Hope your Memorial Day was wonderful! Let's get back to our topic at hand:

There are two ways to solve the problem of chemically laden bad food: Whole foods or adapted foods. Although whole foods eating is the healthiest, sometimes you just want some good old mac & cheese, so you turn to adapted foods. Depending on your resources, you can really go either way--or both.

Health food stores have many of our old favorites done in a more nutritious way. For instance, Annie's is a popular brand that's made it's way into even our little Wal-Mart. You can buy all sorts of products under Annie's label-even macaroni & cheese. It's whole grain and organic and free of the big bad 3 (MSG, hydrogenated oil & processed sugars). It's processed food still, so it needs to hold only a limited spot in a whole foods diet.

While transitioning into a whole foods diet, altered foods may be the way to go (totally my description by the way, if you walk into Whole Foods asking for altered foods, they're going to look back at you like you have two heads).

Here are some substitutions I use-we'll start with the list of things to rid your house of and go from there:

Margarine-butter, preferably organic.

Most processed lunch meats-look for nitrite/nitrate free varieties. Our WalMart carries one brand (down from two they used to carry). I think Super Target carries some in their deli.

Hot dogs-well, this is a hard one. Again, you don't want nitrites/nitrates (they're cancerous) but really you know what hot dogs are made of, right? I've compromised and bought Oscar Meyer I think, it says no artificial bla bla bla and something indicating it's not lips & tips. If you have access to a larger selection, you could probably find kosher, nitrite/nitrate free varieties.

Colas-sorry, we drink water or unsweetened tea (well, I only drink it, no one else will touch unsweet tea. Alternatively, you could sweeten you tea with honey or experiment with other healthy sweeteners which I'll talk about later.

Processed Cheese Products (not cheese, just the fake kind, especially Velveeta)-okay, I still make "rotel" once a year or so, but in casseroles calling for Velveeta, I've been replacing it with real cheddar cheese and it's tasted great.

Sugar laden breakfast cereals-due to high milk consumption and the price of cereal for a family our size, I've heavily reduced our cereal intake. I make oatmeal with a variety of toppings including homemade whipped cream (just whip cream, add maple syrup and viola!), strawberries, blueberries when affordable, maple syrup-the real stuff, and nuts. Also, breakfast burritos, eggs, homemade biscuits, homemade muffins, homemade pancakes. The last three can be made ahead for busy mornings.

Mac & cheese (boxed, not home made) There's always Annie's, also my mom's made her own mac & cheese for years...but I do think she uses Velveeta. I recall seeing some homemade recipes on, so you could probably make your own.

Frozen dinners (prepared foods, not frozen fruits & veggies). We don't really buy these because they taste good do we? No-because they usually don't! We buy them so we don't have to cook. Instead, cook ahead and freeze the meal, double a recipe for dinner then freeze half for next week, use your crock pot instead, or have a list of super simple meals for busy evenings.

Chips Steer clear of most flavored chips, that's where the MSG comes in. Stay basic-there are some corn and tortilla chips that are good, also try the natural Cheetos and other varieties you can probably find in your store. Sunchips are also MSG & hydrogenated oil free. Remember, these are still processed foods, so they shouldn't be a staple, just a treat.

Candy There are "healthy" chocolate coated candies like M&Ms in health food stores, but you could also transition into healthier sweets like fruit. Once your taste buds are not used to super sweet sodas & candy, nothing will taste better than the natural sweetness of a ripe peach or piece of watermelon. I'll include recipes for desserts later, so don't despair!

Most canned soups learn to make your own (I don't make cream of ________ yet, but my basic cookbooks have recipes for them), shop from the health food store or buy Healthy Request from Campbells, which I've found to be MSG free.

Canned meals like Spaghetti-Os Well, there's probably not a good sub, just freeze your own portion sized leftovers. Once you eat whole foods, this stuff starts to taste like the crap it is (sorry, that's the only word that fits).

Fake juices like Sunny Delight, Hawaiian Punch, Gatorade (think colored sugary chemicals). Just don't. If you must do juice (again, it's a heck of a lot of sugar--way more than you'd get actually eating the fruit whole), dilute it, or only drink in a small amount. For some fun, add lemon or lime slices to a pitcher of water (be careful not to squeeze too much juice in though, it'll taste bitter).

Here are more that didn't make the list in the earlier post:

Coffee-I still drink coffee, I just sweeten it with maple syrup and add some milk instead of cream, unless I have raw milk, then I use cream off the top (yum!).

Chocolate Chips-for a small fortune, you can get a bag of grain sweetened chocolate chips or carob (a root that tastes similar to chocolate) chips from the health food store. They cost about double what a bag of Toll House chips cost.

Jelly-Smuckers Spreadable Fruit comes in several flavors and I can't tell the difference between this kind and the regular jellies.

White Sugar-It's not a perfect substitute, but there is a minimally processed sugar cane product called Rapadura from the Rapunzel company. It seems very similar to me to Sucanut. It's not as refined as white sugar, so it retains some of it's nutrients. I'll talk about white sugar later, but this is what I use in recipes like pizza crust and corn bread when they call for white sugar.

Eggs-it's best if you can find local free range eggs, in rural areas anyway, there are often many women selling them. I have a friend who sells them for about $2 a dozen, which is a steal compared to Wal-Marts free range organic eggs. Recently my mom started getting them from a family friend who simply gives them away. Nourishing Traditions states that free range eggs have much more omega 3s and 6s than regular eggs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Girl Pride

We have a huge moment to announce today. Are you sitting down? Okay, here it is:

Bethany went to the concession stand alone and bought her own food. She has really started coming out of her shell. She participates now in Sunday School (and in more than just a whisper!), she is excited about Children's Church instead of begging to stay in the service, and she wanted to join karate. Today she asked if she could go to the concession stand, like it was no big deal. She wanted a new snowcone sold prepackaged in a paper wrapper. We didn't know the name of it, so I asked her how she'd order it. She said, "I'll figure it out." And she did. She didn't figure out the the change from my $5 bill was mine and not hers, but that's okay!

I'm also proud of Hope-her team won by 15 points and Hope really hustled as hind catcher. Ashlyn's team didn't win, but Ashlyn got three girls out as third baseman. Her team is dealing with some coaching confusion (different styles between rotating assistant coaches).

So, I'm left with a great 3rd baseman, a superb hind catcher, and one good, confident shopper! Whoo hoo!

Whole Foods Recipes

Okay, here are some meal ideas to get you started. Many of these were given to me by a friend nearly ten years ago and I've gone back to them many times while learning to eat whole foods.

Using a mixture of deep green lettuces/greens is a great base. Be creative and add chopped cabbage, grated carrots, bell peppers, onions and so on. I also like to have spinach salads with fruit such as oranges and/or strawberries. Newman's Own makes good, healthy dressings. Read labels and avoid MSG, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Add an avocado and/or nuts for some protein.

Avocado Sandwich
Avocado, spicy brown mustard, tomato, and a whole grain bread is delish!

Nut Butter Sandwich
Almond or cashew butters are great (but expensive). As an economical compromise, we buy Smuckers Natural or Organic Peanut Butter (Peanuts grow a mold we probably shouldn't eat, but budget restraints mandate we go with PB for now, but if I could afford it, we wouldn't eat it). Avoid the regular brands, they often have hydrogenated oils. You have to get used to the natural kinds, since the oils don't mix in the same, but it's worth it.

Hummus Sandwich
You may have heard of hummus, it's ground garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas. I don't like garbanzo beans at all, but I like hummus. You can get it in decent sized health food stores, I just bought some at Central Market. It's mixed with some seasonings and sold in the bulk bins and probably packaged as well. I've bought it already mixed and didn't like it as well as my home mixed kind. If you buy it dry, mix it with olive oil, water, and some lime juice per the package instructions. Use the mixture as a replacement for lunch meat, and pile on the good stuff like sprouts, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, whatever else you like.

Ezekiel bread
You can buy this bread at the health food store, usually in the frozen food section. It's very heavy, nutritionally dense bread. My family loves it, but I've not bought it in a while since it's about $5 a loaf. I've found a recipe online and may try it soon. It's worth trying if you find some near you.

Baked Potatoes
White or sweet, add cheese and butter for protein (well, cheese isn't so yummy on sweet potatoes, but butter and salt will do fine-one of Ashlyn's favorite meals).

Pasta Salad
Whole grain pastas (my family doesn't care for whole wheat, but there are other varieties to be discovered in your health food store) with veggies and Newman's Own dressing.

Saute onions & garlic, add a good meat (like free range beef-I don't think I have the wording down, but beef raised on a pasture, not a feed lot), then add canned diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Throw in some oregano, basil, etc. Serve with a whole grain pasta.

Beans & Rice
Use whole grain brown rice (no white, no instant). It takes longer, but it nutritionally worth it. I make red beans by boiling water, pouring over my rinsed & sorted beans (pick out the dirt and messed up beans). I cook this in my crock pot all day, adding salt in midway and letting Shane spice them since I never get the spices right. I don't really like beans, but have learned to love them with sour cream, cheese and rotel tomatoes mixed in. Cilantro put in at the end is great, too.

Taco Salad
Make a basic green salad and add chili flavored beans (read labels to avoid the no-no's), corn, avocado, black olives, tomatoes and cheese. Of course, you could add good beef too. Serve on top of corn chips. You can find corn chips with just corn and salt, no hydrogenated oils, if you read labels. I buy them at Wal-Mart.

Stir Fry
Use your favorite veggies, add any spices you like and serve on brown rice. You can buy something called Braggs Liquid Aminos at your health food store. It's like soy sauce in taste but doesn't have MSG. You can use it in this dish for the Chinese food flavor, put it on salad & baked potatoes.

Oven Fried Potatoes
Use red potatoes (washed well if not organic, since potatoes are bad about soaking in pesticides), with skin on and spices such as oregano, lemon pepper, garlic and so on. Mix all of it well in a bowl or big zip lock bag, spread on a cookie sheet and bake on 400 degrees for about 3o minutes.
Spreadable Butter
Butter is hard to spread out of the fridge, so if you want to make a spread, mix equal parts of oil (olive oil is what I use) with butter in a food processor. It spreads easily even when cold and is much better for you than margarine.

Veggie Stew
2 large cans tomato sauce

2 large cans diced tomatoes

1 large chopped onion


whole corn (fresh or frozen)

diced potatoes

chopped carrots

frozen green beans

Your favorite spices such as oregano, basil, rosemary, cumin, garlic pepper.

Saute onion & garlic in olive oil, then dump it all in a crock pot for the day. Can add good meat if you desire. If you don't, be sure to add some protein from cheese, sour cream, and/or beans.

Taco Soup
Saute one small chopped onion & 4 oz can chopped green chilies (optional on the chilies)

taco seasoning (I buy the McCormick that says "less sodium" since it is MSG free, but I want to make my own soon)

1 cup corn

3 cup stewed tomatoes

1 can kidney beans

1 can pinto beans

1 1/2 cup water

You can loosely follow this recipe, adding in whatever beans you have on hand. Throw it all together, heat thoroughly and serve with corn chips, cheese, & sour cream.

Bow Tie Pasta
Whole grain bow ties, cooked, drained, and rinsed in cool water. Toss with grape tomatoes, black olive slices, chopped green onion, feta cheese and Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette. My kids' favorite meal-no kidding.

Easy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Whole grain pasta noodles

MSG free broth (I usually buy the big Swansen can and add equal parts water)

Chopped carrots

Natural chicken (okay, I buy the canned natural stuff...not economical but easy & cheap in the short-run)

Salt, pepper & oregano to taste.

Boil water & broth, add pasta, chicken, carrots and cook until carrots are tender.

There are many more I'd like to share with you, maybe I'll add more as we go along. I also have desserts, so stay tuned!

Math Books and Vitamins

A friend who confessed to only skimming through all this nutrition talk encouraged me to take a break or two for those of y'all not so keen on greens. We'll get back to healthy eating shortly.

The other day the UPS man delivered a couple of boxes. The kids, as always, got excited. I tried to calm them down; I didn't want their hopes up. The boxes were just vitamins and new math books.

This is the season of math books and vitamins, laundry, baseball games and sleepovers. This is not the season in our family's life for something new and exciting. No new faces will join our crew; this is it-the seven of us. From here on out, it's not growing the family, it's helping each child grow.
This was a bittersweet realization for me. Sure, it's nice to start giving away mounds of baby clothes that won't be worn again by anyone in my home. I can hardly wait to be rid of the bulky baby items we won't ever need again. Diaper bags, I won't miss you!
But there is an element of surprise that will always be missing from our home now. We are absolutely sure (without some serious heaven-sent intervention) our family will not get any bigger. There is no tiny thought of Audrey as a big sister. She won't be one. There's no wonder when I fold up too-small baby clothes...will someone new come along? No, there is no new one coming. This is it. This is us. Who our family is.
Now it's just maintaining, growing up the ones we got. Yep, a little sad, but a bit freeing too. I have to focus on that freedom. You see, I think I'm a builder not a maintainer. I can start a pregnancy center, revamp another one and so on, but I'm not the one to stick around for 20 years making it run in the day to day. Of course, I don't get to switch families and start all over--and I don't want to, not today anyway, so it's a changing of seasons for me.
I was wrong when I said we won't add anyone else to our family. In about ten years (or the blink of an eye, really) we'll start adding sons-in-laws. I've been praying for them for years, I am excited to see who God will bring for my girls and I have much work to do to get my girls ready for a life of service to their Lord, husbands and children.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Food Class: Raw Milk

I hadn't really thought I'd start out talking about raw's pretty "out there" but since Alison brought it up, I'll jump right in with it. I guess if you hang in there through this, you'll survive the rest!
Okay, to be honest, my friends had to talk up raw milk for some time before I paid attention. I don't know what finally made me switch over but I do know what held me back: the gross factor. Picking up milk in the jug from the store makes it easy to forget this milk comes from an actual animal's teats. Yuck. Meeting the very cow I'm drinking from (her name is Prissy if I remember correctly) makes it a bit different. I had to just push that out of my mind and drink it anyway. And I'm glad I did.
When I started buying raw milk, the "milk lady" gave me a book to read and although I didn't actually finish it, the chapters I did read changed my thoughts about milk forever. Basically, in our country, milk comes from "freak of nature" cows with messed up pituitary glands that over produce milk, are full of hormones, antibiotics, and are fed inferior foods. Sally Fallon in her book Nourishing Traditions, explains that the forced over production of milk causes "slime and pus" to be in the milk. It has to be cleaned with a centrifuge action (I had mistakenly said it was homogenization that cleaned it) that dissolves the pus into the milk so you don't know it's there.
There are so many other compelling reasons to pass on store bought milk. You really need to dig in and research it for yourself (there's no reason for me to retype it all here). Much of the research points to the high nutritional value of raw milk compared to it's super market counter part. All the processes to prepare the milk for our consumption actually strip it of it's God-given vitamins. It's interesting to note that once our milk was no longer raw, many diseases came to be common.
Oh, what about food borne illnesses from "dirty" raw milk? Well, many if not all the salmonella cases reported from milk were from "clean" store bought milk. Also, raw milk has infection fighting properties (just like we've been told human breastmilk has) that can actually ward off bacteria that might come into contact with the milk. Unfortunately, regular milk does not contain these properties (they're killed in the processes of making it to the grocery store).

Here are some websites to get you started:

What is real milk? This has a lot of great stuff on it, from a reputable group. Don't miss the many articles available on this site.

Raw Milk Truth Hey, this one even tells you how to get started with your own cow!

Want it in blog form? Check out this comprehensive series from a raw milk convert.

So, where do you find this magical milk? The Raw Milk Truth has a tab on the sidebar addressing this, but I'll tell you how we did it (actually it came to us, but how you would do it if you lived here...):

If you dropped into my very rural town and didn't know anyone, you could start asking at the local health food store. If that didn't get you anywhere, you could try the local chiropractor (I know this would land you a phone number to at least one dairy woman (there are three local women who have one or two cows each, which they milk with stainless steel equipment), since our very wise chiropractor feeds raw milk to her family, I mean, animals (in Texas you can legally buy it for your animals...). Still a dead end? Try asking local dairies if you can buy their milk (but it may or may not be raw for you-find out. A lot of cyber friends and one in real life has bought from a local dairy, I just don't know how it all works). Finally, if you're bold, put an ad in your local paper. If you keep your eyes open for health conscious people, (not the ones buying Slim-fast, the other ones) you'll eventually track down someone who milks a cow.

Costs: locally about $7 a gallon. We supply the glass jars for fill up.

Gulp-yes $7 a gallon is a lot, especially for a large family. First, you have to remember that store bought organic milk is about $3-$4 a half gallon, so this is a very fair price. To trim our costs further, I've stopped buying so much cereal (which tends to be eaten not only as breakfast, but as an after-karate snack). We can get by with about 2 to 2 1/2 gallons of milk a week for a family of 7 (though one isn't drinking any cow's milk yet).

I'll leave you with my number one reason for not buying store bought milk (if I can help it and I'm not being lazy--truth be told I've been lazy for months but am awaiting the arrival of a new calf so we can get back into this milk thing) is this: the "mainstream" cows are injected with growth hormones, which end up in the milk. This could be why children's bodies are maturing at a faster pace than before. I don't want these hormones in my daughter's bodies. As an added bonus of today's lesson-the toxins (like hormones) are stored in fat (in us and in cows) so eating butter and other food derived from milk fat exposes us to more of the hormones. We currently don't have organic butter available in our town (WalMart had it but stopped selling it here) so we're back to regular butter but I don't like it...

Contrary to popular belief, we may not even need to drink milk (there are no other animals who drink a different specie's milk, especially into adulthood). The calcium in regular cows milk (not sure about raw milk) isn't even digestible to humans. Yet, if the Lord promised a land of "milk and honey" then milk is permissible if not good for us. Notice, the Lord did not hype up the land deal by promising processed milk and honey!

So, there you have it, the scoop on raw milk. What do you think? Jennifer F, please add to or correct my info.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Food Class Session 2

After a really nice weekend that included a trip to Scarborough Fair where I ate a Scottish Egg (hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage and deep fried!), let's get back to our discussion on healthy eating.

We'll start today with the list of "health" foods that aren't healthy, with only a brief explanation as to why they are actually bad for you. I'll explain those reasons more fully in later posts. Also today-foods to avoid like the plague. Here we go!

Commercial, sweetened yogurt-too much white sugar, actually feeds yeast & often has artificial colors.
Store bought wheat bread-processing sucks out the nutrients, sometimes it's not wheat at all, just Carmel coloring (but it's still a bit better than bleached white bread).
Ice burg lettuce-not very nutritious and I've read that little microscopic bugs like to live in ice burg lettuce leaves, bugs that attack your stomach. Some people can't digest it well, maybe this is why? Also, once you leave it behind, your taste buds will thank you! Other lettuces & greens are so much more flavorful.
Graham crackers-hydrogenated oils. Think future heart attack as the oils coat your arteries.
Canned chicken noodle soup (most canned soups, really)-loaded with MSG (mono sodium glutamate) which is a neurotoxin.
Milk-there are so many nasty things about store bought milk, so I'll just leave you with one for today-as a result of the processes that make the cow a freak of nature who has many more times the milk than God intended, there's almost always pus in the milk. Homogenization hides the pus; distributes it throughout the milk instead of little particles accumulating in the bottom of your glass. Mmmm, tasty!
Juice-too much sugar at once (even though it's natural sugar, it still brings havoc to the pancreas), much of the nutrients are gone and there's no fiber like you'd get from the whole fruit.
Pasta-made from nutrient stripped white flour.
Canned veggies-I've read that canned green beans are so nutritionally void, they actually go backwards on the nutrients scale to a negative food (just to make a point, not really). If you're opening up that can out of duty to serve some vegetables, don't.
Kool-Aid (not that people think it's healthy, just a staple of childhood). There's nothing to Kool-Aid except artificial colors, flavors & sugar. Besides, it stains their mouths & the carpet!

Okay, so now that you're motivated to give your family better nutrition, let's talk about what needs to go first: Fake food. These are foods that are very hard to find a source for (other than a factory maybe), they offer little or no nutritional value and may actually include additives that are harmful (like cancer causing agents). Here's a list to start from:

Most processed lunch meats
Hot dogs
Processed Cheese Products (not cheese, just the fake kind, especially Velveeta)
Sugar laden breakfast cereals
Mac & cheese (boxed, not home made)
Frozen dinners (prepared foods, not frozen fruits & veggies)
Most canned soups
Canned meals like Spaghetti-Os
Fake juices like Sunny Delight, Hawaiian Punch, Gatorade (think colored sugary chemicals).

I know I'll think of more, but this is a good start. Probably made most of you just click the web page shut. Don't despair, there are plenty of good things you can eat! You just need to adjust your style to accommodate them into your kitchen. Start slowly, eliminating only a few things--or even just one thing--at a time.

The major things to avoid: MSG, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup. Read labels!

Okay, next time I'll focus on one topic like MSG, milk, or hydrogenated oils. If you all want to hear about one in particular first, let me know in the comments.

Happy Eating!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Food Class

Good title suggestion Vicki!

Two more caveats before we get started: Go slow. I have a friend who uses Klean Kanteen sippy cups (a couple are on my list!), makes her own yogurt, kefir, sprouts seeds and so on. Someone commented on her lifestyle and she wisely pointed out that it's taken her many years to get there. She started with tiny changes and built on them. We've done the same thing, and we've backtracked several times, especially during times of transition like adding a new baby or moving.

Also, remember the best practice is to keep it local. If you have a choice between buying organic carrots from your Super WalMart or Farmer Joe down the road, pick Farmer Joe. It's better for your local economy and Farmer Joe's family.

This thought sums up my whole foods eating law: Identify the source of your food (remember, there are no marshmallow bushes) and love one another (meaning don't offend & buy local).

Okay, as a teaser, I'm going to list some "healthy foods" that aren't so healthy. I'll come back and address why in the next post.

Commercial, sweetened yogurt
Store bought wheat bread
Ice burg lettuce
Graham crackers
Canned chicken noodle soup (most canned soups, really)
Canned veggies
Kool-Aid (not that people think it's healthy, just a staple of childhood).

Okay, think on those things and I'll be back soon to tell you why it's all not-so-good for you. Coming soon-what to throw out of your house right now!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Eating healthy in America is a strange thing. There is so much marketing that we often are down right deceived into thinking something is healthy when it indeed is not. Even our health care system promotes junk food as health food, for instance when a doctor suggests eating yogurt to keep yeast at bay. Commercial yogurt is full of sugar-which yeast feeds on--so it actually can make the problem worse.

So what are we to do?

I'd like to start talking more about healthy lifestyle choices here, but first we have to go over some fundamentals.

While we think our main goal is to get our bodies in great shape by eating well, that's not really the main priority. No, our first objective is to not offend. I've been the obnoxious dieter telling everyone in sight how fattening their food choice is. Not pretty. I don't want someone to be afraid of what to serve me when I dine at their home. To do this, we must balance our eating goals with love to our neighbors. So, rule #1, don't be offensive with what you learn! Don't freak out if your in laws give your kids red koolaid when you're trying to cut it out of your kids' diets.

Next, you need to develop a strong distrust in all you currently know about food. We've been marketed to our entire lives. Don't be naive-our country's food sources are heavily influenced by big business, politics, and the glorious dollar. The Food Guide Pyramid was changed several times--not because expert nutritionists tweaked it. No, no, no-after big (agri-)business lobbied! So, forget all you know and don't assume anything is healthy. Especially if it's in a package or a commercial told you so.

Stop thinking organic food is for yuppies. If this is true, then the inverse is also true: herbicides and pesticides are for the rest of us. No thanks, I'm not buying into that.

Look at your food closely. Can you identify where it came from? There are no marshmallow trees in nature, no hot dog plants, and no soda streams. If you can't identify it's source, then it's probably not healthy. Along similar lines, the more ingredients on the packaging, or if there are several you can't pronounce, skip it. This goes for all those fun items in the health food store, too. Just because it's in that store does not mean it's not 100% junk. Who cares if it's organic junk, it's still junk.

Okay, for some of you that was overwhelming so we'll stop here for the day, class. Next time we'll talk about what specific items to avoid and what better alternatives are out there.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Critical Health Notice

Just thought I'd let you all know I have the Swan Flu. Bethany (our five year old) diagnosed me this afternoon after I slept all day. Here's a list of the symptoms:

Slight headache

Incredible stomach cramps

Slight fever

Aversion to food

Yep, if you have these symptoms, it's sure to be the Swan Flu, which is so much prettier than the Swine Flu, wouldn't you agree?

Nontraditional Mother's Day Tradition

My mom and Bethany
My brother Scott and Hope

We accidentally started what we hope will be a tradition for Mother's Day. There are no corsages included, but technically we did eat out.

Ashlyn was in need of some batting practice, so we decided to make a trip to our not-so-local batting cages 45 miles away. The only day that would work to go was Sunday...but that was Mother's Day...would my mom understand if we ditched the family for the afternoon and practiced batting instead? Also on site are bumper boats, go carts, mini-golf and laser tag, so I decided to just invite the family.

Well, no one had ever thought of doing that before. My family has never played mini-golf before, not even when I was a kid. We got one of my brothers in on it (the other had to work), made plans to pack some BBQ for lunch and we were on our way!

What a blast we had! It was overcast and threatening rain, so we had the park mostly to ourselves. Ashlyn & Hope used the batting cages for a while, then a few of us adults stopped yelling advice and stepped in the cage ourselves! I hadn't hit a ball in a few years, it was fun-although I don't know how they do it with those cumbersome helmets on! Meanwhile, my parents and brother took the girls in the bumper boats & go carts-even Jaika got in on it. She's ruthless with the boat's water gun-she even squirted the attendant!

We wrapped up our play with a family round of mini-golf. My sister in law has some mini-golfing skills! She let my dad take over her club when she got tired (she's still recovering from colon cancer), which leveled the playing field a bit. In the end, Shane was the champion, and I came in second. He gets bragging rights until next year when we will do it all over again.
Yep, that's right, we all had such a good time, we're planning it again for next year. Next year, we'll remember to bring napkins, since after eating BBQ sandwiches, we looked liked we'd been face painting. Also, we'll scout out a park near by instead of having a tailgate party in the parking lot-or we'll remember our lawn chairs. Soon we'll have this thing down to an art, all the while enjoying each other's company while ducking from Jaika's water gun stream!

Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm heading out to do some thrift store shopping today but wanted to leave you with the address to check in on Grant, our little friend with leukemia. Please keep him in your prayers!

Have a blessed weekend~this may very well be my last sane weekend for some time as baseball games start next week and instead of dropping kids off and running home, I'll actually be at the field many nights a week watching games, attempting to keep Jaika from diving off the bleachers head first and keeping Audrey happy in the heat (ugh and the stickiness right now-it's so humid here my hair is curling like Shirley Temple's and you could wring out my carpet).