Monday, February 27, 2012

The Sustainable Kitchen - A Never Ending Stash of Grated Lemon Rind

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

Here's that word again.....sustainable.

The whole world is talking sustainable.  Sustainable this.  Sustainable that.  What the heck does sustainable mean anyway?

In a nut shell (after all we are talking about food here), sustainable means that something replenishes itself so it's always around.  My weight is like that....sustainable.

I have other sustainable things, too, like the weeds in my flower beds and the lady bugs in my attic.  Oh, and my collection of self help books.  You'd think one self help book would be enough, I mean, after you've learned how to help yourself you should be able to do it - don't you think?   But I digress.

You're reading this because I promised you a never ending stash of grated lemon rind.  And so I will now share the how to's with you.

It never fails.... you want to make a batch of yummy lemon muffins to have for tea.  The recipe calls for grated lemon rind but you don't have a lemon in the house.  You could, as many do, substitute a little lemon juice or lemon extract for the grated rind but, just like trying to substitute Tom Cruise for Richard Burton,  it's just not the same.

To make a kitchen sustainable (which, to quote Martha, is a good thing) you need to craft it into a revolving door of ingredients and equipment that work off of and play with each other.

Your grandmother (if you are over 60) had a sustainable kitchen. Today's leftover vegetables became tomorrow's soup.  The bacon fat left in the pan from breakfast was used to fry chicken for a scrumptious dinner.  That slightly soured milk fluffed up her pancakes and when the blueberries were a little to mushy to eat plain, she tossed them into the pancakes, too.   Back then, grandma thought she was running a frugal kitchen.   Today, we call her kitchen sustainable.

So, back to grated lemon rind.  When ever you use a lemon for juice and don't need to see the peel, (like when juicing lemons over salads, for lemonade or in a recipe) take a minute and grate the yellow rind off before you cut the lemon.  I like to use a coarser, sort of shredder - grater but you use what you like.  (Just don't forget to wash and dry the lemon before grating.)

Grate the rind onto a plate (be careful not to grate any white as it tastes bitter) then transfer the grated rind into a small, freezer safe, glass canning jar.

Don't use a plastic container or a plastic bag for storage because the smell of the rind will go through the container and make everything taste of lemon - including the ice cubes.

Cap the jar.  Store it in the freezer.  You can now use the rest of the lemon however you want.

One large lemon yields about 1 tablespoon of grated rind.

Whenever you think of it, and need more lemons for recipes, repeat the process adding the new grated peel to the jar.  There you have it!  A never ending (aka sustainable) stash of grated lemon rind.

When  a recipe calls for grated lemon rind,  it's ready and waiting in the freezer.  I usually just poke out what I need with a knife.

A tablespoon or two of frozen rind thaws in a minute or so.  I never thaw the whole jar unless I need it.

This works for orange rind, too!!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Food for Thought - Does Every Meal Have to Be Nutritious?

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

It's not important that every meal be nutritious and balanced.

No,  it isn't.

Nutritious and balanced may be the ideal, of course, but not realistic, not necessary and not really important.

We don't even have to eat meals at all....some people do just fine snacking their way through life.

Eating is the gift of nourishment that feeds the body but eating also feeds the mind and the soul.  Flavors, textures, colors, shapes, temperatures are as much a part of the nourishment eating provides as are the nutrients.

Eating can be fun and recreational.  (That bag of chips with it's satisfying crunch.)

Eating can be spiritual, too.  (Think communion at church.)

There is no reason to deprive yourself of all the gifts eating brings to the table (or to the paper bag propped up beside you in the car....). Good health is the result of being holistically nourished - that's body, mind AND soul.

I was listening to The Splendid Table yesterday.  It's a foodie talk show on NPR.  A woman  was struggling with the menu for an anniversary celebration and called in for advice.  There would be several ethnic groups at the celebration and she didn't want to offend anyone by not serving their traditional foods.

The host, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, suggested the caller select several favorite recipes from each side of the family and make them the menu.  

It was not  important that the foods for this occasion provide a balanced meal, Kasper pointed out, but rather a celebration of the families.   With that in mind, the menu would be a success.

And that's the point.

Eating is holistic.

We eat for more than to just feed the body.  
We eat to feed the mind and soul as well.
You have to feed all three to have good health.

Now go eat something and feel good about it!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Radical Cooking - Quick and Easy Fish Meals for Lent

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms

Here's some quick, meatless meal ideas especially for Lent but don't stop there.

These fish-y ideas make great (and easy) dinner party fare, too, and we should all be eating more fish anyway.

Vegetarians will like these ideas, too.

But here's the best part.... none of these "recipes" requires specific measurements.

Now, isn't that just too radical??
Easy, great, meatless meals without recipes.....

Am I just fishing for complements or what???

Poached Orange Salmon
Cook some rice according to package directions.  Set aside and keep warm.

Put about 1/2 an inch of orange juice into a frying pan.  Add salmon fillets. 

Thinly slice your favorite vegetable (carrots, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash or whole snow peas are all nice - use any or all - frozen veggies right from the package work well too.... no need to thaw) and spread out over the top of the fish in the pan.

Cover the pan (use foil if your pan doesn't have a lid).

Cook over low until the salmon flakes easily and is cooked through - about 10 minutes according to the thickness - and the veggies are cooked the way you like them.

Serve over rice spooning some of the pan juices over the top.

Salsa Fish
Cook some rice or pasta according to package directions.  Set aside and keep warm.

Some fresh fruit (particularly mango, pineapple, peaches or papaya) would be nice to serve with this, too, so if you happen to have some around, peel, cut and dice into serving size pieces.  Canned fruit is OK, too.  Set this aside as well.

To cook the fish, put about 1/4 inch of water, vegetable broth or white wine into a frying pan.  Add your favorite skinless, mild white fish (like flounder, haddock, cod or tilapia).

Pour (to taste) your favorite salsa over the top. 

Cover (use foil if your pot doesn't have a lid). 

Cook on low till fish flakes and is cooked through - about 10 minutes according to the thickness of the fish. 

Serve over rice or pasta, spooning some of the pan juices over the top.  

Garnish with the fruit you've prepared.  If you have a lot of fruit you can serve it in a bowl along side the fish.   No fruit?  That OK, too!

Italian Fish Parmesean
Cook some rice or pasta according to package directions.  Set aside and keep warm.

To round things out, make a salad or saute some broccoli sauteed with garlic and olive oil. (Frozen plain, frozen broccoli cooked according to package directions is good, too!)  Keep the salad cold and/or the broccoli warm while making the fish. 

To cook the fish, put about 1/4 inch of water, vegetable broth or white wine into a frying pan.  Add you favorite skinless, mild white fish (like flounder, haddock, cod or tilapia). 

Pour (to taste) your favorite thick pasta sauce over top. 

Cover (use foil if you don't have a lid).  

Cook on low till fish flakes and is cooked through - about 10 minutes according to the thickness of the fish. 

Sprinkle mozzarella cheese or queso blanco (Mexican white cheese) over top of the cooked fish and replace cover.  Cook until cheese melts - a minute or so depending on how thick the slices/shreds of cheese are. 

Serve over cooked pasta (spooning some of sauce over the top) with the salad or broccoli

Fish Florentine
Cook some rice according to package directions.  Set aside and keep warm.

If you've got them and feel like it, steam some fresh carrots and/or mushrooms.  Keep them warm, too.

To cook the fish, put about 1/4 inch of water, vegetable broth or white wine into a frying pan. Add you favorite skinless, mild white fish (like flounder, haddock, cod or tilapia). 

Cover (foil is OK if you don't have a lid).

Cook on low till fish flakes and is cook through - about 10 minutes according to the thickness of the fish. 

Remove fish and keep warm. 

Put a few handfuls of fresh spinach into the pan juices.  Cover and steam briefly to wilt the spinach - about a minute according to the size, thickness and age of the spinach.  (Baby spinach will steam much faster than mature spinach - just don't over cook the spinach... you don't want mushy...unless, of course, you really prefer mushy.) 

Portion the steamed spinach on plates and top with cooked fish.  

Dust the fish with a little something to make it look nice (paprika, Old Bay seasoning, a pinch of bread crumbs, chopped parsley or toasted wheat germ etc.)

Serve with the prepared rice, carrots and/or mushrooms.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Magic Honey Cure For Allergies

Tis the season to stop your sneez'n
By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

Every spring I'm asked for this age old cure for pollen and mold related allergies.

It's easy, delicious, pain-less and cheap because it works with Mother Nature - not against her.

Local honey comes from a 50 mile
radius of where you live  

Understanding why you sneeze, wheeze and leak

When you body is overloaded with unfamiliar pollen, it tries to get rid of it by sneezing it out and diluting it with water then leaking it out of your eyes.

This is good for your body but annoying.

Pollen is vital to plant reproduction so it's everywhere.  
The key is getting familiar with your local pollen so your body recognizes it.

Once the body recognizes the pollen, it's no longer foreign and the body doesn't react. Sneezing and watery eyes are gone!   

This is just like getting allergy shots...only easier, tastier and much cheaper!!

Eat a tiny bit of raw, local honey each day gradually increasing the amounts over an extended period of time.  That's it!!

Raw, local honey contains the pollen that's in your area.
But watch out!

Eat too much honey too soon and you'll have a full blown allergic reaction.

The key to this cure is to gradually increase the amount of pollen in your blood so your body gets used to it. 

The Cure

Get a small jar of raw, local honey.   Any kind.
Local honey comes from within a 50 mile radius of where you live. Check the label.  

If it comes from farther away, it won't help you.  
You need honey that contains pollen from your area.  

Look for local honey at farmers markets, farm stands and in the local foods section of food stores.

You will not be able to see the pollen in the honey but it's there.  

It makes no difference whether or not there's honey comb in the jar. 
Just be sure  the honey is raw.  

Processed honey is cooked and won't work.

This cure helps the body build up its natural immunity and that takes time... about 6 months...... but once it's done, it's done.

You may start noticing results after a few days......... but keep going.   For best results, you have to complete the whole cure.

Step 1  

For a couple of weeks, eat a speck of raw, local honey once a day. 

A speck is just the amount that's on the head of a pin.  

It's an amount that's so small it doesn't seem worth while - but it is.  

Do this once a day for a couple of weeks.  
Two weeks.  Three weeks.  The exact amount of time doesn't matter.  
Just do it once each day for a couple of weeks.  
One speck each day.  No more! 
If you over do it, you'll have an allergy attack.  
Raw, local honey contains pollen - the same stuff that's been making your eyes itch and your nose run.  Too much too soon and your body will scream at you!

Step 2 
For the next couple of weeks, eat a slightly larger speck once each day. We're still in the speck stage.  Don't rush it.

Step 3

For the next couple of weeks, eat a drop of honey once each day. 
A drop is about 6 specks but less than an 1/8 of a teaspoon.

Step 4

For the next couple of weeks, increase your daily amount of honey to 1/8 teaspoon once a day.  No more!!!

You can eat the honey plain but since the amounts are now increasing, you might want to combine the honey with any cold or room temperature food.  Just don't heat it. 

Ideas:  Stir into a smoothie.  Drizzle over a salad.  Spread on your toast.  Mix into your jam or jelly.  Eat over ice cream.  Spread onto a graham cracker or a Little Debbie.  Mix honey and mustard together and use as a pretzel dip. 

Be careful not to eat more honey than you should at each step during this cure.  If you do, you will trigger an allergic reaction.

Step 5

For the next couple of weeks, increase your daily amount of honey to 1/4 teaspoon once each day. 

Step 6
After taking the honey cure
you'll be able to open the window and
 let the fresh air  (and pollen) in ! 

For the next couple of weeks, increase your daily amount of honey to 1/2 teaspoon once each day. By now you're in great shape allergy wise.

Step 7

Increase your honey to 1 teaspoon once a day for a couple of weeks.
Step 8

Final step - 1 tablespoon of honey once a day for a week or two.

There after, have some raw, local honey every once in a while when you think about it but there's no schedule to follow and you can eat any amount you're like - even more! 


Always check with your doctor before self medicating.  
The honey cure may not be appropriate for diabetics or in combination with prescribed or over the counter medications.  
Do not give honey to children ages 5 and under.

If you move 50 miles or more away (or travel that much to a new job), your allergies may come back because the pollen in your new place is different.  Just repeat the honey cure using raw honey from your new area. 

Already live 50 or more miles from your job?
Do the honey cure for the place where you have the most annoying symptoms.

After that, if you still have symptoms when you're in the other location, do the honey cure again, this time using raw, local honey from the other location.

Unlike medicines, you aren't going to get a drug interaction....just a lot of good taste!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent 2012 - Don't Give Up Something - Do Something

By Karla Jones Seidita

I've never been good at giving up things for Lent.  

Oh, I was better at it when I was young.  But now that I'm old, my good intentions evaporate after only a few hours of resolve.

A year or so ago, I had an epiphany. 

I came to the realization that my whole life was routinely about giving up stuff. 

To control my weight, I had already given up cake, ice cream and candy. 

To keep our household finances in check, I had given up impulse buying and using my credit card. 

To stay healthy, I avoid fun stuff like eating saturated fat, staying up late, high heeled shoes and jumbo lattes with whipped cream. 

So, I asked myself, what was there left to give up for lent?  

Then came the epiphany.  

Instead of giving up something for Lent, I would DO something for Lent.  It was a truly freeing moment!

So, each day during Lent, I did a little something - not much - just a little something more than I typically did. 

I walked the dog five minutes longer. 

What's the point of giving up things
for Lent when you already
live a frugal, spartan life????
When the cat wrapped herself around my legs, I picked her up and gave her a nuzzle.

I vacuumed my husband's car, weeded a flower bed I had been avoiding, sorted my old books and took a bag to the library re-sale shop. 

I even called an elderly aunt who was difficult to talk to.

By the time Easter Sunday came around, I felt re-born.   

I think that's the real reason for Lent..... the being re-born part.  

Giving up stuff for Lent?   
Well, that only made me cranky. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Food for Thought - Are You Sabotaging Your Health with What You Eat? Part 8 - Breakfast

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

Here's a little something to chew on.... eating breakfast may be sabotaging your health!

No, I haven't lost my mind.  I know this goes against every bit of popular wisdom but it's true.

Think about it....

Most of the world eats very little for breakfast.... and I'm not talking about starving nations.

Most cultures have a tradition of  a bit of carb, a small cup of caffeine (like coffee, tea or cocoa) and maybe a little dairy (milk in the coffee or tea, a piece of cheese and maybe some butter).

Take a close look at my words.... a BIT of carb (a small roll, a small croissant, a slice of bread)..... a small cup of caffeine (4 to 6 oz.) and a little dairy (enough milk to make cafe au lait, whiten tea or a cube of cheese).

We eat piles of carbs and mountains of dairy for pancakes covered in syrup, bowls of cereal swimming in gallons of milk and pounds of cheese stuffed into omelets.

And let's not forget caffeine..... 24 oz take out cups of coffee, refillable mega mugs of caffeine laced sodas and (yikes) energy boost shooters (super caffeinated coffee substitutes).

It's no wonder we're getting fat-fat-fat and no matter how much caffeine we down we don't have an ounce of energy to spare.

Our way of eating breakfast is more punishment to the body than health giving nutrition.... and teaching children this pattern of eating is just plain wrong.  So how did we get this way?    Let's take a closer look.

This big breakfast habit of ours was based on need and, at the time, was a good thing.

Hundreds of years ago, when we were strictly a farming culture, people got up early to go to the fields and didn't come back till dark. The farms were big and the fields were often far from the house.

A big, hot breakfast (with a light lunch eaten in the field) sustained them until they got back home for supper.  They were tired and hungry so supper was, again a big, hot meal.

Fast forward to the factory era.... same basic idea.... the jobs were often far from home so they had a big breakfast, a small take along lunch, then a big supper when they got home.

Our work habits have changed, we're more desk and car bound, but our eating habits haven't.  Add to that the availability of prepared food 24/7.

We still eat a big breakfast and big supper but we add a big lunch at mid day, too. On top of this, portions are all supper sized.

It's easy to see that our habits of the past need some up-dating.

Should you be eating a small breakfast - a big breakfast or no breakfast at all?

Well, that depends.....  how do you feel?   How's your energy level?

Your age makes a difference.  Children, for example, need something in their tummies before heading out to school but how much they need depends on the child.

Your health makes a difference, too.  Frail people and those undergoing medical treatments, for example, may do better with breakfast.  It just depends.

Keep a journal for the next few weeks jotting down when and what you eat for breakfast.  Note how you feel. Then tweak your eating.  Eat the way that makes you feel best more often.

It doesn't matter whether your breakfast is big, small or none at all.
What matters is how you feel.

If you find that a small breakfast gives you more sustained energy, then choose it more often and save those big (yummy) American breakfasts for a holiday brunch.

If a large breakfast works better for you, then by all means, enjoy it.

If you feel best waiting until lunch to eat that's OK, too.

There is no one right way to have (or not have) breakfast.

Eating fuels the body and should make you feel great.

If you're not feeling great, you're eating the wrong kinds of food.... or just too much!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Food for Thought - Are You Sabotaging Your Health with What You Eat? Part 7 - Ignoring Your Heritage

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

Want to feel better and be healthier?
Look to your past.

Not just yesterday but to your long past.... your heritage.

Each of us has a lineage that goes back to the beginning of time. That's a lot of years and a lot of food choices.

Those who made good choices (like not eating poison mushrooms) lived to pass their genetic information on to their next generation.

Those who made poor choices (eating foods that didn't support their well being) died.

The smartest of the subsequent generations paid attention and chose foods that promoted good health.  They avoided foods that had made others sick.   Now add location to the mix.

Populations that lived near the sea ate a lot of fish.
People who farmed ate a lot of grains and dairy.
Nomadic people ate a lot of meat, cultured dairy and cheese.

Our individual nutritional needs are based, in large part, by the genetic code that was crafted especially for us from the choices made by our ancestors over millions of years.

Fast forward to today.

Today, we eat whatever we want, whenever we want and in any amount we want.  We totally ignore our heritage and, especially here in America where our heritage is so richly mixed, we aren't from any one direct line.  

Oh, many get by without eating like their ancestors (the body by nature is very adaptable) but to truly be healthy, we need to look to our past.

This is not to say that you can't incorporate other foods into your diet, you can and you should!  There's a whole, great big world of yummy things to eat out there!!

What this means is that based on your own personal heritage, you may need more meat, for example, than you typically eat or more dairy or more grain.... or the reverse - less.

Understanding the kinds of foods your ancestors ate is one of the keys to good health.  Holiday foods are a good place to start looking.

Many families have special ethnic dishes that are passed down from one generation to the next.  These recipes reflect the types of foods your ancestors were likely to eat.  Do they contain a lot of meat?  Are the dishes predominantly seafood?  Which vegetables are typically served?  How about desserts?  Are they rich with dairy or do they tend to be more fruit based?   These are all keys to help you determine your nutritional needs.

Looking to your past is a sure way to jump start a future of good health!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Food for Thought - Are You Sabotaging Your Health with What You Eat? Part 6 - Food is Medicine

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

Food changes your body chemistry every bit as much as the pills you swallow.

Food tastes good .... pills don't.... but they both effect how you live, work and function.

Brain fog, fatigue, inability to get anything done, susceptibility to colds, flu, headache and other diseases, menstrual cramps, depression, weight gain or loss, bad skin....anything and everything.

Some food makes you feel good.  Some food makes you feel bad.

The key to being healthy is to pay attention to how you feel and what reactions you have after eating or drinking something.

Unlike pills, food is most often holistic and subtle in it's interaction with the body although you can get a full blown allergic reaction. (That's your body screaming at you for what you have just put into it.)

Foods that make you feel good should be eaten more often.

Foods that make you feel bad should be minimized or totally eliminated from the diet....even if they are considered to be "healthy" foods.

The only way to really get a handle on how the food you're eating effects you is to keep a journal of what you eat and how you feel.

It doesn't have to be a long or complicated.   Just a few words or phrases will be enough.  What you're looking for is a pattern.  Which foods make you feel good.  Which foods make you feel bad.

"Had scrambled eggs, hash browns and buttered toast for breakfast.  Felt sleepy about 10AM."

"Had toast with peanut butter for breakfast.... wasn't hungry till lunch."

"Ate way too much breakfast... clothes felt tight all morning and I couldn't seem to concentrate on my work or get anything done."

The body doesn't necessarily clear out everything in 24 hours so don't discount possible relationships.  That migraine you had on Thursday may have actually been the result of all the alcohol you consumed the Saturday before.

Once you see patterns, you can tweak your diet choosing foods that make you feel good more often.  The better you begin to feel, the more often you'll want to choose the better-for-you foods.

There are no universally good or bad foods.  Each of us reacts to foods differently...even healthy foods.

Food is medicine that adjusts and regulates the body's delicate chemistry.  Use it to make yourself feel great....not to make yourself sick.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Food for Thought - Are You Sabotaging Your Health with What You Eat? Part 5 - Listening to Your Body

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

I've often heard people say that things would be so much simpler if we came with an owner's manual.  But we did!

It's called intuitive eating.  
That means trusting your intuition - listening to your inner voice.

Each of us has a software program deep within our being that's based on millions of years of evolution - our own, unique evolution.  It points us in the direction we should be going - if we care to listen. 

That's the key...... if we care to listen.
Follow the advice and you'll do well. 

Go your own way and you'll struggle. 

Like everything else in life, it's a matter of free will and choice.

Food is eaten for pleasure and nourishment but it's also consumed as medicine to regulate the body functions.  You are guided, intuitively, to make choices that will keep your body running smoothly.  Here's how intuitive eating works:

1.  Eat What You Like
Assuming you already choose a basically healthful diet, eat the foods you like. 

You intuitively want to eat the foods (and this includes condiments, spices and beverages) that are best for you. Your choices will be constantly changing to adjust your internal chemistry for optimal health moment by moment, meal by meal. 

Don't eat well?  
Start slowly and make a healthier choice every now and then.  No rush.  You know what's healthy and what isn't.  Your body will reward you with moments of feeling better and being more alert.  

Eventually, as you become accustomed to listening to your inner voice, you'll choose foods that make you feel better more often.  You'll choose them because you'll be hungry for more of those healthier feeling moments when you're alive and kicking!  

2.  Don't Eat What You Don't Like
We all have different tastes and food preferences because we each have different needs.  

Foods that are of little or no value to you don't taste good to you (assuming they are well prepared) no matter how nutritionally beneficial they are purported to be.  If you don’t like something, don't eat it.   

If a food is particularly distasteful (the yuck factor), it's often a sign that the food may be doing you harm even though it's nutritious and others find it delicious. 

Children may not like certain foods when first introduced to them. That's OK.  Their bodies may not be ready to eat them or, just like you, their bodies may find the food unnecessary or harmful even if it's a healthy food.  Just keep on introducing foods to children without much fan fare.  When they're ready, they'll add it to their repertoire.

3.  Cravings
If you're wondering what to do when your inner voice instructs you to reach for the soda and chips or Little Debbies, don't worry.  Take a moment to listen to your inner voice and find out what your body really needs. 

Is it salt?  Is it a sugar boost?  Is it comfort?  Is it sleep?  Or is the craving a response to boredom?  

Whatever it is, your body needs something and it is asking for it in a language that you've understood before.  (Did you know that Little Debbie is a language?)

The body starts with a gentle nudge or suggestion - a brief, fleeting thought of something you'd like to eat or drink - and, if you don't pay attention, the thought escalates into a full blown craving that consumes your every waking minute.  You might even dream about it.  Give the body what it wants (and it's not necessarily food) and the craving will go away. 

Use your intuition.  Listen to your body and give it what it needs.  

Eat intuitively for optimal health and well being.  

It's one owner's manual that you'll never loose.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Food for Thought - Are You Sabotaging Your Health with What You Eat? Part 4 - Milk

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

There is nothing more controversial than milk.

Some believe it is vital to good health.

Others believe that milk is good for children but not adults.

Then there are those who believe that only raw milk should be drunk.... that pasteurizing and homogenizing milk changes a healthful food into a killer.

While the debate over milk continues, here's what we do know.....

Cows are routinely injected with hormones to keep their milk flowing and those hormones wind up in the milk you are drinking.

But it doesn't stop there. The hormones also wind up in foods that are made with and from milk... cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream, pudding and baked goods.

Like all mammals, a cow produces milk to feed her calf.  The milk naturally stops flowing after her calf has been weaned.  Milk production can be extended by continuing to milk her and/or by injecting her with hormones.   Hormone injected cows will continue to be produce almost indefinitely.  This is what's known as a "factory" cow.

The hormones the cows are given wind up in their milk.  The dairy industry maintains that levels of hormones in milk products for human consumption are so low that they are insignificant.   That may be... but add to that all the other hormones in our foods (like beef) and medicines (like birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy) and you wind up with a very powerful hormone cocktail.

Here's what to do.... switch to organic milk and dairy products.   It's that simple.

USDA certified organic dairy products do not contain milk from cows that have been given hormones. Always look for the green icon on the package.

The term "natural" on dairy products doesn't mean anything.

Got a dairy near you?
Ask them if they give hormones to their cows.   If not, that would be a great place to get milk, too, even if it isn't certified "organic".  Ideally the cows should be 100% grass, hay and/or pasture fed.

Eliminating hormones from the milk and dairy products you eat is a huge step toward better health.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Food for Thought - Are You Sabotaging Your Health with What You Eat? Part 3 - Salt

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

Salt is an important nutrient.    It regulates our body functions.

So how come everyone in this country is on a salt free or salt restricted diet when the rest of the world seems to be worrying about not getting ENOUGH salt?

Many people, doctors included, believe that salt is not a problem. 
What did I just say?     Salt is not a problem.... not bad for you? 
Everyone knows that when you have high blood pressure you have to cut back on (and even cut out) salt.

Now, I'm not telling you to go against your doctor's instructions but here's something to think about.....
The salt we eat in this country is highly refined.  This means it has none of the usual trace nutrients that are normally found in salt  (it's like how we strip away the nutrients from whole wheat when we turn it into white flour.....).   It's these trace nutrients that are believed make all the difference.

Too much refined salt plays havoc with our metabolic path ways.
Unrefined salt has a slew of trace nutrients that keeps every thing in balance.

And because our salt is so refined, it makes a great, cheap preservative.  It's widely used in prepared foods because it doesn't change the taste or color of the foods and consumers prefer to see "salt" on a label than a chemical sounding, multi-syllabic preservative.    

Medications, by the way, can also contain lots of NaCl (refined salt).

So what should you do?

1.  If you are under a doctor's care and have been told to cut back or cut out salt, talk things over with him or her. You have to be responsible for your health.

2.  If you're not under a doctor's care, it's easy to make some healthy changes to your diet.  Switch from regular salt to unrefined sea salt.  It's available everywhere and is probably right on the same shelf with your regular salt.   I like the "Celtic" brand but there are lots out there to choose from.  What you want is dehydrated sea water.

3.  Eat less prepared and/or packaged food.  It's loaded with refined salt - even if it doesn't taste salty.  Cook from scratch and you can say how much and what kind of salt you put into recipes.

Unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, moderate amounts of unrefined sea salt is part of a healthy diet.

Who knew salt was a healthy thing to eat!!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Food for Thought - Are You Sabotaging Your Health with What You Eat? Part 2 - Soy

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

We've come to believe that soy products are healthy.  But are they?

Soy is certainly healthy for the economy...that little bean is big business.

Soybeans are an oil rich legume that grows in green pods.  They have been grown as a cover crop in Asia for thousands of years.

A cover crop is a stand of vegetation that is grown for the purpose of enriching the soil.  After a cover crop has grown, it is plowed under so it can decompose.  The decomposed cover crop feeds the soil with nutrients that will later be used to grow edible crops.

Traditionally, Asians didn't use soy beans as food because they are hard to digest.  It wasn't until they began fermenting soy beans ( like to make miso, tempeh and soy sauce) that soy became widely eaten.

But even so, soy was eaten in very small amounts as a condiment - 2 to 4 teaspoons per person per day.  It's this small amount of fermented soy that's said to protect against cancer.

Americans, on the other hand, eat several cup-fulls of un-fermented soy each day and are told to avoid all soy if they have or ever have had cancer.  That's because because un-fermented soy contains phyto-estrogens (plant derived estrogens).    Makes you think....doesn't it??

Soybean oil is the most common way we eat soy in this country.  It's used extensively in processed and snack foods because it's cheap.

But there's lots of other places we get soy too and, unless you're a label reader, you probably don't know you're eating it...

Vegetarian meat alternatives (sausage, hamburger, chicken, soy burgers)
Meal extenders (like Hamburger Helper)
Prepared foods
Energy bars/Breakfast bars
Soy milk
Canned chicken and tuna
Salad dressings
Protein and meal replacement drinks
Cheese spreads, processed cheeses and cheese replacements
and as a food additives soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate and textured vegetable protein which are in everything from bouillon cubes to macaroni and cheese dinners.

Should you be eating un-fermented soy?   In my opinion, no.

Cutting soy out of your diet completely is hard - especially if you eat out.

So what should you do?

Become a label reader.
Some of your very favorite foods may, in fact, contain soy but for every manufactured food that does, there are others.... right on the same shelf....that don't.  They don't cost any more than the soy laced brands and may even cost less.  You don't have to go to a health food shop either.  All you have to do is read the labels of the foods you buy.

Un-processed foods (like raw meat, fresh produce and uncooked sea foods) will not contain soy unless it's added.  If it's added, it will be listed on the package.

Just do the best you can, one small step at a time.   Every step will pay off with better health.

But if you've had cancer or cancer in the family, cut out soy right now.  With all the wonderful, healthy foods out there, why take a chance!