Category Archives: ommm

On My Mind Monday 12.10.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

What’s in that pork? – The answer is not great.  As I discuss in my forthcoming book, The Pantry Principle, more antibiotics are used in the food animal industry than are used for people.  The challenge is that now this overuse is causing antibiotic-resistant bacteria to appear in the meat.  Which means if you eat it, you may get infected with a bacteria which is resistant to antibiotics.  Not a good thing. While this is not something that will change easily it can and should be changed.  Consider starting with letting Trader Joe’s know that you want them to carry antibiotic free pork.

Peru bans GMO Foods – This is a huge step forward in the fight against GMO.  Peru did not simply require GMO foods to be labeled; they banned all of them from the country for a ten year period of time.  This was done in an effort to prevent GMO contamination of native corn and potato species. While I’m not sure which foods are imported from Peru I do plan to find out and see how I might incorporate them into our pantry.

US diets not up to standard – We’re not eating as well as we should.  In part because we are surrounded by large numbers of unhealthy foods and because so many bad ingredients are stuffed into our food.  There is something called the Standard American Diet, or SAD.  Unfortunately it is sad and if we continue to eat this way our health will continue to decline.

Boycott Brands – As many of you know Prop37, the initiative to label GMO foods in California was defeated.  They were outspend significantly by the parent companies of brands such as Cascadian Farm Organics, Horizon Organics, and Tostitos Organics.  While organic foods cannot, by law, include GMO ingredients, the parents companies do not want you to know what they are putting into everything else they produce.  But it’s hard to know who owns what and how to avoid those brands.  I have some information in my book The Pantry Principle about this issue but the book isn’t out yet.  In the meantime print out this wallet card and take it with you to the grocery store.

It’s Channukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.  Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a traditional food during this eight day period of time.  For those who have never made them before, here’s an easy recipe.  I have one change which is that sometimes I will take 1/3 of the grated, pressed potatoes and blend them into a finer texture which I then mix in with the grated, pressed potatoes.  And for toppings, we prefer applesauce and sour cream.  It’s delicious.

Don’t forget to head on over to Facebook and “like” The Pantry Principle so you can stay in touch as I start posting healthy tips and information.

photo: mconnors

On My Mind Monday 12.3.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies – Our food system is broken/breaking down as corporations pursue ever greater consolidation in the race toward profits. This however squeezes out the farmer and isolates us further from our food. I believe everyone should read this report. It’s important that we understand where our food comes from, why costs are rising, and why we need to know our farmer.

Changes ahead for sugar – (starts at 2:40 on the video) US prices 50-70% higher than the rest of the world? Wow that’s a huge jump. Combined with the fact that processed sugar can be as much as 4 times more addictive than cocaine and we have a very expensive health crisis on our hands (in more ways than one). We could all pay attention to the label and eat less sugar.

eFarmony – I love this idea…putting those with land together with those who want to farm it. Sounds like a win-win-win with consumers getting more fresh local produce.

Allergic to spice – We hear a lot about the common food allergies, dairy, peanuts, shellfish, etc. We also hear about food sensitivity conditions the severe celiac disease to a less harmful but still challenging lactose intolerance (a lack of the digestive enzyme lactase). But many people tend to forget that food sensitivities can be to any food substance. While food sensitivities are different than a life-threatening allergy, they are no less severe for their impact on health. If you think you have food sensitivities consider working with a nutrition professional to see how you can identify what may be overwhelming your system.

Horrible Diet Ideas – With the New Year just around the corner many people begin to resolve to lose weight. Unfortunately many of them are seduced by fad diets and celebrity endorsements. Just because someone is famous does not make them an expert on nutrition. Many of these ideas are highly dangerous. If you want to lose weight it needs to be done in a healthy, supportive fashion.

Asparagus for blood sugar control? – Like asparagus? It turns out that asparagus may be useful in stabilizing blood glucose levels. More and more readily available at the grocery store it’s tasty and easy to cook.  I love the fact that I’ve got some in my garden, we just finished moving it to it’s new dog-free garden bed. Now to wait and see if it transplanted well.

Looking for a good gentle yoga routine?  Here’s one I like that’s very relaxing and, most importantly, reminds you to breathe deeply.

What am I reading this week?  Truthfully, nothing because I’m still busy at work on my book, The Pantry Principle: how to read the label and understand what’s really in your food.  Want to learn more about the book?

Head on over to Facebook and join The Pantry Principle page.  You’ll be able to stay in touch as I start posting healthy tips and news articles.

On My Mind Monday 11.26.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Southeast Paying Price For High Antibiotic Use – While overall antibiotic use is dropping, some areas of the country are not dropping as quickly as others.  This is problematic as those areas tend to show higher levels of antibiotic-resistant infections (including urinary tract infections).  It is important to remember that antibiotics should be taken responsibly.  Only take them if you really need them, take them according to the schedule written by your doctor, and finish your entire prescription to ensure that you do not potentially breed superbugs.

Fat blocking soda – Pepsi is at it again.  Trying to make an unhealthy product appear to be something that might be good for you.  Soda is not, is never, a healthy choice of beverage.  Fat blocking soda is just ridiculous.  By adding a dose of what is essentially an ingredient found in laxative Benefiber they are claiming it will block fat and help you lose weight.  My prediction is that this one won’t last long.  It’s kind of like the 7-up with anti-oxidants which was shut down for making nutrient claims.  Looking for fat blocking foods? Eat fiber-rich foods rather than drinking a chemically concocted, empty calorie beverage.

Edible deodorant – While I will be the first to tell you that many deodorants have ingredients in them which are unhealthy and should be avoided, I’m not a fan of this product. First we don’t know that it will work well for everyone as we are all bio-individual and there are no guarantees when it comes to body chemistry. Second I’m not convinced that the ingredients are going to be that great. Instead consider using the EWG’s Skindeep – Deodorant List.

Water Conservation – is still in the news. As I’ve written before it’s something we are definitely thinking more about (especially in light of the letter we recently received from our utility district informing us that water rates were going up by 14%). This is an issue that is not going away and I believe will have a profound impact not only on our water but also on our food (we need water to irrigate, wash, cook, etc).  Our big effort right now is looking for ways to get rid of more of the lawn. I’d love to hear any water conservation ideas anyone else has.

Veggieducken – Wow, what is it with us and combined foods? It’s certainly not a new concept and is something that’s been around for ages, but lately the idea seems to be regaining popularity. The turducken (a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken), a cherpumple (a monstrous three cake three pie combination) and now this. I will confess this one could be a WWME food but I’m not sure I’m willing to invest all the time it would take to make one.

I wanted to share this video from my friend Karen who talks for the first time about her personal journey with Crohn’s. Thank you Karen for your willingness to share and open up about your health and your condition.

On My Mind Monday 11.19.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Read what’s on my mind.

High Riboflavin Linked to Low Lung Cancer Risk – This study was done as part of the Shanghai Women’s Health Study, the participants were non-smoking females.  Not sure what the implication is for those who used to smoke but it sure can’t hurt to make sure you eat foods high in riboflavin. These include:  venison, yogurt, milk, crimini mushrooms, and spinach.

Rooftop Hospital Farms – This is a great way for hospitals to utilize the space on top of their building, create healthy menus for the patients and staff, and help to contribute to a growing eco-friendly environment.  I can also envision this as a potential park-like area for inner-city patients (those able to be ambulatory), and staff to be able to spend therapeutic time in a green environment.

Fat loss odds stacked against you – It’s a never-ending battle of the bulge.  Portion sizes, especially when eating out, are out of control.  Fats and sugars and salts are packed into foods to make them more tempting and convince us to overeat.  It is not in the best (profit-driven) interests of corporations to have consumers who don’t overeat — read overspend on food and then the attendant pharmaceutical/healthcare bills that come along with obesity.  We need to become more aware and more proactive in managing our health and our consumption.

Exercise Your Sperm – Turns out men who exercise not only improve their own health, they also improve the quality of their sperm.  Important for those who want to have children.  Interestingly enough the study found that endurance athletes, such as triathletes, did not have this benefit as they suffered from reduced sperm quality.  Rather it was moderate exercise which promoted the best value of sperm health and hormone levels.

One Can Equals 22 Aerobic Minutes – How hard do you have to work to burn off that cola?  And don’t forget about the immune suppressing effects of all that sugar.  Drinking sugar free?  You’re still taking in toxic chemicals and damaging your health. Do we really need a “calculator” to tell us that soda is not a healthy beverage choice?

I know you hear me on Facebook frequently encouraging alkalizing. Here’s a great video that shows a good explanation of the acid-alkaline balance.  If you’re not already participating, sign up or “like” my Facebook Fan Page to stay connection and be part of the conversation.

photo: mconnors

On My Mind Monday 11.5.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Jump rope for health – With the colder weather coming it may not be as comfortable to exercise outdoors.  If you’ve got a good clear space in your home consider trying jumping rope.  I’m impressed by how much exercise you get in just a short period of time (believe me, it’s a workout).  This video showed me a couple of new steps which was pretty cool.

Cows making human milk – this is one of the most disturbing GMO developments I think I’ve seen yet.  Cows that have been genetically engineered to produce human milk.  If you can’t drink cow’s milk, don’t drink it.  Let’s not try to cash in on the dairy industry by making cows give human milk.  One of the disturbing things is that the baby cow who has been created from this experiment has no tail.  Scientists are claiming that this is unrelated to their genetic manipulation but I’m not convinced.  I fervently hope that this experiment is shut down.

New Season’s CEO leaving to create a chain of healthy convenience stores – this is an idea that has been needed for a long time.  Huge numbers of people are looking for this sort of option, especially when they are on the go with errands or if they are traveling.  The biggest issue, as I see it, will be getting all those people who say they want this to actually utilize it once it happens.  I’m excited about this idea and hope it grows.

Chipotle signs fair food agreement – Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the environmentally-friendly-chemically-clean-non-gmo-organic food issues that we forget to think about the human cost, the ethical side of food.  Some of this was highlighted in the book Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook, but mostly, as consumers, we never see this side of our food.  This agreement is only a small part of what is needed, but it is a step in the right direction.

Unreal Candy – I’m not a big candy person, although I admit to liking some as a treat now and then.  Most candy is loaded with garbage (artificial colors, preservatives, GMOs, etc) which goes a long way toward keeping me away from it.  Now it appears there’s a company that’s created a candy bar which is a little bit better for you in that it has no garbage ingredients.  They do use agave nectar which, admittedly, I’m not a fan of, but overall their ingredient list is pretty amazing.  If you plan to try it keep in mind it’s still sugar and still something that needs to be a treat, eaten in moderation.

As long-time readers know, I am a huge proponent of finding ways to cut down on food waste.  This video is a reminder about just how much we throw out in this country with a lot of thoughtful commentary on how we can reduce our food waste.

On My Mind Monday 10.29.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Tofu allowed in school lunches – This is concerning for a couple of reasons.  The first being that soy products are one of the most heavily GMO contaminated crops in this country.  I’m guessing that schools won’t be providing organic soy for school lunch.  Another concern is that too much soy is not healthy for you, especially if it’s not fermented.  And yet we’re going to feed it to our kids.

Medium or Large? – As I’ve shared before, we’re REALLY BAD at “consumer math.”  We think we know what we’re doing but we trust the label a little too often.  When given the same size cookie but told it’s medium, rather than large, we eat more.  The endless bowl of soup experiment showed that we really do eat with our eyes.  We need to be more mindful of what we eat, not only for food content, but also for amount.

Heading into the winter months more people have been asking me about drying, or dehydrating, foods. Living in Texas I can’t dehydrate by drying in the sun; it’s too humid here.  I air dry herbs inside my home and for other foods we use an electric dehydrator.  Here’s a video with a succinct explanation about the process.

Two good resource books on dehydrating foods (and using them in recipes) are The Dehydrator Bible and Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Book.  Those who follow a raw food diet tend to use the dehydrator as a cooking method so looking at those books and recipes may be helpful as well.

One form of dehydration is to bake in the oven.  This recipe for these amazing looking beet chips is a great way to eat this this tasty, good for you root crop.  High in folate, manganese, fiber, potassium, vitamin C beets are easy to add to the diet.  So tasty any way you serve them (but especially in chip form) you’ll be wanting to grow your own.

On My Mind Monday 10.22.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Eat your kale – many of us don’t get enough of those dark leafy greens.  This article talks about some of the health benefits and reminds us that, like everything else, there needs to be some moderation in our consumption of dark leafy greens.

Eat more kale – of course the title above is similar to Bo Muller Moore’s Eat More Kale campaign.  (For those of you who don’t know, Bo has been issues a Cease and Desist order in an act of corporate bullying by Chick Fil-a who claims that their consumers would be confused between their Eat Mor Chik’n and his Eat More Kale — I don’t know about you but if I was one of their consumers I’d be insulted by that.)  He happens to have a few friends who love kale and have shared some delicious recipes, check them out.  And while you’re at it, consider buying a t-shirt.

Students Donate Leftovers – There are a lot of things about this story that bother me.  While I’m glad that someone has come up with a way to take unwanted food and give it to those who are hungry, I find it mind-boggling that students are forced to take food they don’t want.  What kind of message does this send?  It encourages waste.  The legislation in school districts that prevent the distribution of whole, clean food once it’s been taken needs to be changed.  The solution seems straightforward, let’s use common sense.

Ugly Fruit and Vegetables – Due to the drought grocery stores in England have been forced to accept less than perfect looking fruits and vegetables.  While it’s not good that there’s a drought and with it a growing food shortage, I think this has some positive aspects.  It will teach people that food doesn’t have to look perfect to be edible.  Hopefully it will also open doors to more locally sourced, less big-agri-business perfection at the grocery store, and by extension on our tables.  The peppers that I pick from my garden are bumpy, lumpy and not so pretty.  But they sure taste good.  The ones at the grocery store are frequently beautiful to look at but less than flavorful.   Hopefully people can learn to accept that it doesn’t have to look like it belongs in a stylized food photo shoot to belong on our table.

Cheese Smuggling – unlike the millions of dollars of maple syrup recently stolen in Canada this theft scheme did not happen as planned.  Apparently involving cross-border sales of cheese the Department of Homeland Security managed to break up the smuggling ring and put a halt to the operation.  Apparently many of the Canadian pizza shops claim they turned down the U.S. cheese because it was inferior (making me wonder just how much better Canadian mozzarella really is).  More importantly the fact that food thefts are increasing highlights the rising costs and increasing food insecurity.

Bleah! doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction to this video.

photo: mconnors

On My Mind Monday 10.15.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Dehydration can affect your thinking – In addition to all of the other ill effects of dehydration now there’s one more to add to the list.  It can affect your cognitive processing.  This can become an issue as we age since our thirst mechanism can decline over time.  As the saying goes, “If you’re thirsty, you’re already down a quart.”  While that may or may not be entirely accurate, it is true that by the time you feel thirsty your body is already somewhat dehydrated.  Avoid this by getting into the habit of sipping throughout the day to stay well hydrated and healthy.

Seven Steps For Instant Calm – In our busy, over-scheduled, modern lives we often find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.  Here are some simple tips to remind us of those small things that we can do to help us recenter.

Why We Get Colds – There are actually a number of reasons why this happens, we’re run down or our immune system is low, we’re overweight, or we consume too much sugar (it suppresses the immune system).  It turns out that cold viruses also do better when humidity levels are low.  To help support the immune system consider adding more garlic to your diet, getting off the couch, checking your vitamin D levels, and cutting back on sugar.

Sugary drinks cause weight gain – I’m a little surprised that anyone thinks we still need to do studies on this.  Sugary drinks are nothing more than liquid candy.  They represent empty calories that do are not filling and contribute excess intake without any nutritional content whatsoever.  I wonder if they keep doing studies on this because so many of us are so addicted to our sugary drinks that we keep hoping for a different answer.

An old-fashioned drink is back in style – Mead is making headlines.  Made from a honey base it has a unique flavor, just like wine or beer, depending on where it’s made and the ingredients that go into it.  While I’ve not made it nor tasted it, this certainly sounds interesting and I’ll be watching to see if this is another locavore food trend that spread across the country.

photo:  mconnors

On My Mind Monday 10.8.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

MSG Wastewater As Fertilizer – I was stunned recently when I read that the wastewater from MSG production could be used as a fertilizer for corn.  Knowing how bad MSG is for human consumption it is startling to realize that it may be creeping into our diet in other ways.  I have as yet been unable to determine if it is allowable for use on organic corn.

Eat Fish Low In Mercury for Heart Health – We all know we’re supposed to eat more fish.  It’s good for our heart, it’s good for overall health.  But fish, especially some of the larger fish like shark, king mackerel, and swordfish, tend to be high in mercury which we need to avoid.  Check out the Food and Water Watch Seafood Guide for tips about making healthier seafood choices.

Here’s a cartoon that I find amusing about this issue (with thanks to The Deconstructionist Zone):

Differences in taste sensitivity – According to this article obese children and adolescents have less taste sensitivity which can lead to obesity.  This is the exact opposite of other research which shows that those who have more or highly sensitive tastebuds, supertasters, can be obese.  While this is confusing it does show that how we taste can have an effect on our ability to enjoy our food and ultimately on our weight.  But enjoyment of food is, and should be, about more than just taste.  Learning to enjoy the smell, the setting, the textures, the experience of our food is important.  Learning to eat mindfully is a habit we should cultivate.

Berries can slow cognitive decline – Apparently eating between one half to one cup of berries per week over an extended period of time (up to 2.5 years in the study) appear to have a positive effect.  This is believed to be attributable to the anthocyanins.  Whatever the reason, it’s delicious and easy to do.  Just be sure to choose organic blueberries and strawberries whenever possible to avoid pesticides.

What I’m Reading:

The Winky-Eyed Jesus and Other Undescribables – Scott Wayland’s entertaining description of his cross country human-powered recumbent bicycle journey across the United States.

On My Mind Monday 09.24.12

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in food, nutrition, and holistic health.  Here’s what’s on my mind.

Before we get into the collection of news for this week I wanted to let everyone know that the Cookie Naming Contest is still going on.  Naming suggestions have been collected for a week.  It was great fun seeing all of the responses coming in.  Entered in submission order they’re available in the online survey for you to vote for your favorite cookie name which will go in my book, The Pantry Principle.  The person who submitted the winning name will also receive a batch of this cookie personally baked by me.

Placebo or not acupuncture helps with pain – A lot of people turn to acupuncture for help with a variety of issues including pain.  Because it is considered an alternative medicine practice it is not always well accepted.  However in studies covering 18,000 people it appears to have a positive benefit.  California is looking at passing legislation that would make acupuncture a required-to-be-covered health benefit.  Stay tuned to see how this treatment option may become more accepted and more available.

The benefits of middle age fitness – Just as it is with dietary changes, when making changes to your physical activity level, it’s never too late.  Obviously the more you take care of your body, keep it active, feed it healthy choices, the better it will work for you.  But if you’ve stopped those things and want to start again…right now is the best time.  “Moving out of the least fit category [only requires] 20-30 minutes of walking on most days of the week.

Your Dental Hygienist Will Be Happy – It turns out that in addition to making them look good and helping us to have clean smelling breath, regular dental cleanings (or scalings) appear to help reduce the incidence of  strokes and other heart diseases.  Another study looked at regular brushing habits and found a positive correlation with reduced rates of dementia.  Looks like keeping those pearly whites in good shape is a significant part of your self-care health plan.

Non-vegan Bananas? – It doesn’t exist yet but there’s a possibility that it will.  Apparently a new coating has been developed which may extend the shelf life of fresh produce.  It’s made from chitosan which is a product from the shells of shrimp and crabs.  For those people who have life threatening allergies to shellfish this is highly problematic.  Not only will it remove their ability to eat anything coated with this product.  I have to wonder about the transfer factor.  If another shopper touches that product and then touches something else will there be a transfer of the coating onto the supposedly uncoated product?  Chances are high that the answer is yes.  Given that an allergy to shellfish is one of the most common allergies in the United States, this could potentially be quite problematic.

Fall is here and in many parts of the country that means apple picking season.  Here’s a fun video with a good looking recipe.  Most people think of farm to table as meaning meat products.  But it also applies to produce, herbs, and other foods.  Anything that you take straight from the producer to your home and your table.  I love the use of dates in the crust of the crumble.

Photo: mconnors