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On My Mind Monday 09.03.12 – The Bpa Issue

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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.

Due to links forwarded and suggested by several readers this week has become the BPA Issue.

BPA ban in baby bottles – 41 months (nearly 3 1/2 years) after they were first asked to ban BPA the FDA has agreed to ban it in baby bottles and sippy cups.  It’s better than nothing but this is a move that comes very late and doesn’t go far enough.  Hopefully this is just the beginning and will pave the way for all Bisphenol products to be removed from any situations where they can come into contact with food.

Dental fillings linked to kids behavior problems – Another strike against BPA.  For all those who chose to avoid using mercury due to the health risks they instead chose composite fillings.  What many of us did not know is that the composite was in part composed of BPA.  Obviously it is important to take care of our teeth and to fill caries when they occur.  But another, more health-supporting option is to take better care of our teeth.  Reduce or avoid sugary drinks and sweets, avoid sticky sweet foods, and consider the information in this report on homeopathic dentistry from the Weston A Price Foundation.

Big Chem, Big Harm? – Manufacturers have tried very hard to prevent any legislation or limitations on the use of BPA.  Now with a new study published in Neuroendocrinology it turns out that pregnant women who are exposed to BPA can pass along changes in behavior and DNA to their unborn babies (in the study this was done using mice, not humans).  These genetic changes continued into future generations, affecting even those who had no direct exposure to BPA. According to the article listed above, “The researchers found behaviors in BPA-exposed mice and their descendants that may parallel autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit disorder in humans.

BPA Linked to Heart Disease – Comparing BPA levels in the urine of test subjects from 10 years ago and currently it appears that those with higher BPA levels were more prone to heart disease. “Some scientists have been warning that BPA could interfere with numerous biological processes because its structure resembles the hormone estrogen.

Eat Spinach to Protect Against BPA – Studies appear to show that eating more folate (found in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach) can be protective against the effects of BPA.  The article also suggests soy which is high in folate however since most soy in this country is genetically modified that may not be the healthiest option.

Below are several books about the issue of environmental toxins:


On My Mind Monday 08.27.12

news | photo: mconnors

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

Re-homing chickens – Most people are not aware of the fact that chickens do not lay eggs their entire life.  Just for a few years; and  yet they can live to be as much as 15 years old.  So what happens to them when they are no longer “productive?”  In the case of a commercial egg operation they’re usually slaughtered.  But now an organization is finding new homes for chickens who are no longer laying eggs.  A very cool concept and definitely part of the ethical cycle of respect for the animal.

The undervalued superfood – I love the concept of superfoods, and there are many, which do not need to come from other continents.  There are so many wonderful, health-supporting foods all around us.  In this case the newest “super” food to get attention?  Beans.  High in fiber and protein, stabilizing for blood sugar, fabulous for intestinal health, these are just a few of the wonderful reasons to eat beans.

Consumers are bad at math – We are bad at shopping math and  marketers use this to their advantage.  While it’s harder to do this kind of math ‘on the fly’ when you’re shopping and in a hurry to get home with your purchases, I’ve realized it’s something I need to focus on more in order to make sure I am getting the best deals I can for my family.  My important addendum?  Make sure you are not hungry when you are shopping, that’s just going to make things worse.

Ten Year Old Convinces Corporation To Give Up Styrofoam – This is one of those stories that I love.  We are surrounded more and more by kid-advocates who are taking the lead in changing the world around them and changing it for the better.  Birke Baehr, a future farmer, spreading the word about sustainable agriculture, and Julia Bluhm, who convinced a major magazine to start using un-photoshopped pictures in their pages are among just a few of the young heros making a difference.  I think they are wonderful and amazing.

For today’s video we have a great one from my friend Julie Matthews – Making Veggie Latkes, a wonderful way to get more veggies into a picky eater.  This recipe also deals with issues for those whose bodies don’t handle starches well.

Julie also has a great cooking program available on her website.  If you’re looking to make changes to your diet, either because of Autism or because of a need to follows GAPS, SCD, Feingold, Body Ecology or other dietary protocols, this is the program for you.

What I’m Reading:

Drop Dead Healthy: One Mans Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs.  One man’s mission to learn how his body works, to lose weight, lower his cholesterol, and attempt to turn himself into the ultimately healthy person.  Mr. Jacobs took two years to learn everything he could about his body.  The book is a rather self-depreciating, humorous, fact-filled look at all the things we don’t know which impact our health.   Breaking the quest into 27 smaller tasks he focuses one-at-a-time on various parts of his body such as The Stomach, The Heart, The Ears, The Butt, etc.

Given his day job as the editor at large for Esquire magazine he had access to an astounding array of experts for support and information.  Each chapter has one or more experts that he consulted to learn the latest information about the science and theories behind what it takes to find health for that body part.

He didn’t limit himself to mainstream medicine and modern theory.  He was on a mission to try it all and to learn everything he could.  Along the way he submitted himself to various activities such as a Caveman Workout (running barefoot and bare chested through Central Park), a pole dancing class, neurofeedback, and joining a laughter club.  He also shared his thoughts and reflections on how he feels physically and/or emotionally after trying many of these, being mindfully aware of how his focus is affecting him.

Scattered throughout the book are checkups where he lists his weight, and a few other variable facts (such as how many pushups he can do).  The appendices at the end of the book is filled with tips, the highlights of what he learned during the year-long experiment.  It’s a quick and easy read, yet filled with fascinating facts and some good ideas about how to become healthier.

On My Mind Monday 08.20.12

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

Hot cocoa may boost seniors’ brain power – cocoa flavonols are gaining increased recognition for their healthy properties.  There were also positive changes for cardiovascular health and blood pressure modulation.  One of the drawbacks is that this study was sponsored by Mars, one of the co-authors is a Mars employee, and Mars provided all of the cocoa samples.  So while this is interesting as a start, there need to be more studies, that are done in a more controlled, less corporate connected studies.

Dry farming – Given the drought many areas of the country have been experiencing it may be time to resurrect this “old-fashioned” way of doing things.  A side benefit is increased nutrient density and flavor in the crops.  This appears, to me, to be a much better alternative to water waste and over-use of fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals.

5 years to “fix” antibiotic overuse in farm animals – This issue has been going on far too long.  The vast majority of antibiotics in this country are used in animal farming.  The consequences are dire as more and more superbugs are created due to the amount of antibiotics people eat from meat and dairy products.  You are what the animal you eat ate.  [it’s okay, go back and re-read that once or twice if you need to, it’s confusing to read/write but makes total sense once you understand it]  I’m outraged that it’s been decades already and this issue has not been addressed.  Now we’ve given the system another five years to begin to make changes,  It’s overwhelming and it’s wrong.  Animals that are bred for food need to be raised humanely and treated well, not crammed together and given antibiotics as a routine matter-of-course.

The internet printer – apparently coming soon to a printer near you…the ability to print a roll of tweets, fb postings, recipes and more.  One of the challenges that I see for this product is that they are claiming that it is using thermal paper just like in cash register receipts.  These receipts are coated in BPA which makes the printing process easy.  Unfortunately it flakes off very easily, adhering to your fingers and then contaminating whatever you touch.  If you have to handle receipts wash your hands thoroughly before touching food.

And not one, but two videos this week to make up for no videos last week.

Rescuing bees

Raising Chickens

This is a complete turn-around in how to raise chickens. I love the fact that these chickens do really go outside. There are some companies that claim their chickens have access to the outdoors but they raise them in such a way that the chickens won’t go outside when the option is offered to them. These are very healthy, happy looking birds.

On My Mind Monday 08.13.12

news | photo: mconnors

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

Is Sugar Toxic? – Short answer?  Yes.  It’s also highly addictive.  This 13 minute video is very much worth watching to better understand the impact of sugar on our bodies and our health.

Violent TV keeps kids awake – The definition of what qualifies as violence on television has become blunted over the years.  What we’ve failed to realize is that this increased tolerance for violence IS having an effect.  I personally believe that it may very well prove to have an effect on older children and adults as well.

Number of Farmer’s Markets Up Almost 10% – This is an encouraging sign.  Supporting the livelihood and growth of small farmers, but also connecting people to their food and their farmer.  Given the drought conditions that are currently ravaging the country, combined with the negative impact to certain crops (due to monocropping) getting back to basics and small farm industry is, I believe, a good thing.

Your Cookies (Probably) Won’t Explode – This article talks about the effects of sugar and salt (among other things) on the taste buds.  How the more we get the more we want.  And yes, it is possible to re-train your tastebuds.  I have a number of clients who, as we begin to make dietary changes, realize how much more flavorful their food seems to be when it’s not overpowered by the unnecessary addition of sugar hidden in many foods.  Try reducing how much you use and you may find you need less than you thought.

Downsizing Supersize – Bloomberg’s soda ban is still in the news.  As this article points out however, it’s not a s straightforward and simple as manufacturers would like us to believe.  They have been surreptitiously upping our intake by increasing portion sizes.  And contrary to what we like to believe, the more we are served, the more we eat.  In the 1950’s a soda was approximately 7 ounces.  These days a 12 ounce soda is considered small and you can purchase big gulps all the way up to 64 ounces.  That’s a pretty big gap and a huge increase in consumption.  While limiting the serving size won’t stop someone who really wants that 64 ounces, limiting how much they can buy at one time may at least make them think about it.  Presumably that means that some people will choose not to drink the extra ounces.

On My Mind Monday 7.09.12

news | photo: mconnors

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.

How can a big gulp look so small? – Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban has raised all kinds of backlash across the system.  The biggest misconception put forth is that we “know” how much we are consuming.  Manufacturers keep trotting forth this phrase each time they feel threatened to limited by any type of legislation that may impact their ability to peddle their product.  Frequently it’s the least healthy manufacturers who complain the loudest.  So now another study has been done that once again proves that our brains don’t do geometry very well.  We are not accurately able to gauge how much we are consuming, instead cueing off the size of the container.  This study, to my mind, confirms a study previously done with bottomless bowls of soup.  We do indeed eat with our eyes, frequently over-eating because we rely on visual cues.

Our Daily Bread – a slightly modified take of the work they’ve published in their book Hungry Planet: What The World Eats, Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio have an exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston.  It shows a wide variety of people with the food that they plan to eat for that day.  The variety and circumstances are startling.  It gives one definitely pause for thought.  I hope the exhibit is very successful and even more that it will travel around the country, perhaps making it’s way to a museum in Houston so that I can go see it.

Food Companies Concerned About Sustainability – As more consumers become more educated, more companies are beginning to listen.  Realizing that they need to be aware of and involved in this issue as well if they want to sell their products.  As always I propose we start with whole foods, but I do believe that sustainable practices across all parts of the food spectrum are important.

Nutrition Education on Wheels – This looks like an interesting concept.  Using a food truck and providing recipe cards and cooking demonstrations people are getting some ideas for how to use the food they get to make healthy, nutritious meals.  This is an idea that I think could be expanded greatly all across the country.  It seems to me that it would not only help people to eat healthier, but also to help avoid food waste as people often don’t use what they don’t know how to use and it sits until it becomes inedible.  I hope to see more food trucks like this.

EU Organic Label Now Mandatory – Well this just proves that it can be done.  It can’t come to our shores fast enough in my opinion.  I even like the symbol they chose.

I use a LOT of onions in my house.  I’ve tried to grow there but here in my hot, piney woods garden they have not done well.  Out of two onion sets I got one reasonable size onion, yes, one onion.  The others all seemed to melt and disappear into the garden.  I’m still not sure how that happens but I’ve decided that, for now, growing onions is not for me. I continue to use them as they are flavorful and a great, healthy way to punch up your recipes but, for now, I’m still buying instead of growing them.  As a good source of vitamin C onions also provide a lot of phytonutrients.  They are considered to be beneficial for heart health and are also anti-inflammatory.  Using them can be a challenge however as chopping a spherical object into nice tidy dices or even slices isn’t always easy.  Learning the proper way to chop onions is a handy skill.  Here’s a great video demonstrating how to do it.



On My Mind Monday 7.02.12

news | photo:  mconnors

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

Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden – It seems that mainstream science is beginning to realize that wholesale, repeated slaughter of our intestinal flora may not be such a good thing. Holistic practitioners have been saying for decades that supporting the gut is key to supporting health. Starting with a baby’s first inoculation via the birth process to our exposures we build a hopefully healthy intestinal eco-system.  When we take antibiotics and wipe out both good and bad bacteria there are negative health effects that accumulate from this overarching destruction.   I’m glad to see that mainstream science is beginning to recognize the benefits of a healthy digestive system.  If you want to learn more consider reading Liz Lipski’s amazing book, Digestive Wellness.

Meat Without Drugs – For those Omnivore and Flexitarian eaters out there this is a huge deal.  The FDA has known for decades that the producers in the meat industry over-use antibiotics in order to keep their animals healthy in spite of overcrowding and filthy conditions.  The problem is that those antibiotics are still present in the meat when you eat it, leading to a regular low level exposure.  Over 70% of all antibiotic use in this country is in animal feed.  That’s an astounding number.  It appears that this situation may also be one of the leading causes behind antibiotic resistant bacteria.  We are essentially inoculating our bodies over and over again.  You can avoid eating meat with antibiotics in it by purchasing organic, purchasing meat labeled “raised without antibiotics”, or purchasing directly from a farmer that you trust.  And support this campaign, sign the pledge.

More than honeybees – It turns out the dangers from our damage to the environment are affecting more than just honeybees.  One big takeaway from this article is how the loss of meadows and wildflower habitats is affecting the bee population.  They need to have a wide mixture of plants available for foraging.  All the spaces that we consider weedy and remove or cover over or control by mono-cropping are exactly the spaces needed by the bees.  And we need them to pollinate our food.  It is, after all, an eco-system and one which we need to respect.

Olive Oil and Slippery Politics – sadly it’s not just in this country that politics and corporate aims challenge the issues of sustainability and environmental responsibility.  Unfortunately this compounds the situation already clouded by adulteration of olive oil.  To my mind the solution is simple and straightforward.  Stop adulterating the product, support small farmers, accept that this is a regional product that does best when produced sustainably.  However the EU’s solution is to create an overwhelmingly tragic repeat of what has happened to the dairy industry in this country by paying farmers to stock a reserve which will at some point no longer be acceptable for consumption.  It’s difficult as consumers to know what makes a good choice for olive oil, to know who is not adulterating and who is not being squeezed out (sorry) by corporate interests.  I know of a few producers that I believe sell a clean, quality product if you are interested in purchasing your olive oil for quality and purity.  Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard in Elmendorf, TX, Texas Hill Country Olive Company in Dripping Springs, TX, and the Chaffin Family Orchards in Oroville, CA.  High quality olive oil costs more, but you can tell by the flavor that you are getting an amazing product.

Farm to Dumpster – So much of our food is wasted.  In a world where there is growing disparity between the food haves and the food have-nots this is a deep shame.  In a world where food costs are rising this is sad.  In a world where the environment is stressed and global warming is a reality, this is just wrong.  We need to do better.  We need to be more mindful about our food and how we use it.  Learn more and make changes….start with Jonathan Bloom’s excellent book, American Wasteland.

What I’m Reading:

Cooking for Isaiah by Silvana Mardone – This book was on a friend’s cookbook shelf and she pulled it down to share a recipe that she particularly liked with me.  Flipping through the pages it looked amazing and, more than that, delicious.  I am one of those people who truly does READ a cookbook.  Reading through the pages of this one is a journey through foods that signify comfort and love.  But they come without gluten and dairy, a huge issue for many people.  I was so inspired by this book that before I was done reading it I ran to the grocery store to buy the gluten free flours to make Sivlana’s mix.  The one issue with her mix is the use of Xanthan Gum which is a binding agent.  Some people can be very sensitive to it and suffer from flatulence or bloating when eating it.  I haven’t experimented enough with the mix and the recipes to know if it’s okay to leave it out but I must say the recipes I’ve tried so far have all been amazing.

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On My Mind Monday 6.25.12

news | photo: mconnors

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

Jumping Jacks Aren’t Enough – In this excellent article by Michele Simon, author of Appetite For Profit: How the food industry undermines our health and how to fight back, she points out that the Let’s Move campaign created by Mrs. Obama isn’t all of the story.  Yes, moving and jumping and being more physical is important for kids (and adults too).  However diet plays a huge part. Getting proper nutrition (and nutrition education) is key to helping children to understand the connection between what they eat and their health.  Sadly the purveyor’s of the worst offenders for our diet don’t want consumers, especially children who could become life-long consumers, to be well educated about their choices.  Read the article, read the book and then look again at what’s in your grocery cart.

All About Breasts – I’ve talked about breasts before, mostly in talking about breast feeding here and here, also in talking about a recently published book on nutrition and breast cancer.  Now there’s another new book that’s going to have to go on my reading list; Breasts: a natural and unnatural history by Florence Williams.  Breasts serve an important function when it comes to nourishing our babies and as a part of our hormonal health.  However because they are made largely of fatty tissue which tends to accumulate toxins, they can also be the repositories for our exposure to a toxic world.  Should be an interesting read.

Greener soda bottles? – no, not really.  Plastic is a problem, a big problem.  As I mentioned in an on my mind monday post a couple of weeks ago just because manufacturers stop using BPA doesn’t mean they aren’t using other bisphenols.  And there are all sorts of other nasties out there when it comes to plastic.  Not to mention how bad it is for the environment.  I’ve written quite a few posts about plastic, the stuff is everywhere.  It’s hard to get rid of; I’m still working on my one-step-at-a-time effort to get rid of it.  Mostly by following Beth over at My Plastic Free Life who has a new book, Plastic Free.  I’m doing better than I was a year ago but this reminds me I need to step it up again and look for more ways to remove more plastic from my life.

Kale isn’t Chikin – I am a huge fan of Bo Muller Moore and his Eat More Kale t-shirts. I asked my kids what they thought…was there any confusion between kale and chicken in their minds.  After they finally stopped laughing I explained this lawsuit to them and they were highly incredulous.  I love the fact that Bo is making the film, A Defiant Dude and am rooting for him.

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On My Mind Monday 6.18.12

news | photo: mconnors

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  This is what I find interesting in food, nutrition and holistic living.  Read what’s on my mind.

In El Salvador, Tooth Decay Epidemic Blamed on Junk Food – This link is to a video that shows a dismaying epidemic of ill health strongly linked to the cheap easy access of sugar and cheap junk food.  In watching the video I was horrified to learn that some families, if they have no milk, will put soda or coffee into a baby bottle to feed their baby.  Nutrition education is so important.  We have gotten too far away from understanding our food and it’s relationship to our health.

Disney Sets Limits on Food Advertising –  While this is a small step in the right direction it unfortunately also comes as a huge nutri-washing opportunity.  Disney will use this as a major publicity push and possibly as a bargaining chip for deals with vendors and marketing affiliations.  But it’s limited in it’s scope, will not be fully implemented until 2015, and still does not really address the issue of educating the consumer.  As always caveat emptor (buyer beware).

Food Producers Want Your Nose – Scent is an amazing and powerful tool.  Many people find memories triggered by smells; we often respond to certain smells on an unconscious level, especially those related to food.  This new technology is horrifying; manufacturers are seeking to take advantage of our unconscious response to smells in order to sell more product.  However it fails to take into account the rising numbers of people are affected by Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.  I for one try to avoid the mall as I can’t walk past a large number of stores which blast perfume into the space in front of their location, leaving me with a blinding headache if I stay too long.  And people who wear too much perfume or cologne in public places are also problematic for me.  I’m fairly certain that these fake smells are going to linger in the grocery store after people have handled products coated with this technology over and over again.  And touched the cart, leaving residue all over the handles.  The producer claims to only be using “FDA approved flavors” however I’m not convinced that this is anything that should be approved in the first place.

Rachel Carson, Green Revolutionary – Hard to believe it’s been 50 years since Silent Spring was published.  A wake-up call regarding the use of pesticides and other environmental chemicals that has been largely ignored.  Although some strides have been made toward banning the use of certain organophosphates and organochlorines it’s not enough.  Sadly these chemicals tend to accumulate in body fat and the effects can be cumulative along the food chain.  I also believe these effects to be cumulative through generations.  I plan to take my copy off the shelf and re-read it, I’m encouraging others to read it as well.  The book may be 50 years old but it’s cautionary message still holds true.

Father’s Day was yesterday and hopefully all those great Dads out there received props for how wonderful and important they are in their families.  Do more for Dad – watch this video to learn some great Heart Health Tips for Men.  There’s also a great heart healthy recipe that Dad is sure to love.

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On My Mind Monday 6.11.12

news | photo: mconnors

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 living.  Read what’s on my mind.

Bloomberg’s soda ban: Mayor Bloomberg in NYC has decided that one way to fight obesity is to institute a ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces.  There are admittedly a number of problems with the legislation, such as the fact that people can still get endless refills, however the concept is sound.  Drink less sugar and your weight most likely will decrease.  The beverage industry in an effort to push back against this legislation is now claiming that science says that soda is not a contributor to obesity.  I’m not exactly sure where they are getting their facts from.  The first hit I find when doing an abstract search on “soda + obesity” brings up a study from 2001 which examined 548 ethnically diverse schoolchildren aged 11-17 and studied them for 19 months.  The study specifically found, “Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks is associated with obesity in children.”  Whether or not you agree with the idea of a ban, a tax, or self-regulation when it comes to consumption of sugary drinks there is no doubt that increased consumption does contribute to obesity.

HFCS will not be called corn sugar:  After a hue and cry from consumers and an overall decrease in the purchase of products which contain HFCS the Corn Refiners Association made a bid to try to change the name to corn sugar.  It was widely believed that this was in an effort to hide the negative health effects of the product by having it classified under a more innocuous name.  The FDA has decided not to allow the change, noting that there is a distinct difference between the concept of sugar and HFCS.

BPA-free products may still contain Bisphenols – In another case of staying one step ahead of consumer knowledge, it appears that bisphenols may not have disappeared to the extent claimed by manufacturers.  In an excellent article brought to my attention by Debra Lynn Dadd, author of, we learn that there are a wide number of bisphenols, each with a different alphabetic key, Bisphenol A, Bisphenol AB, Bisphenol C, Bisphenol D, and more.  Because of the hue and cry about BPA manufacturers appear to have possibly simply switched to another Bisphenol product, most specifically Bisphenol S.  Like BPA, BPS appears to be an obesogenic product and carcinogenic and should therefore be avoided. Quite simply, plastics and food (including plastic linings in cans) just don’t mix well with healthful eating.

Ch-ch-ch-chia – nope, not to be used as pets, that is slathered on clay forms so that it grows to look like hair or fur, but as an edible seed. Chia is gaining ground in the health food forums.  A nutrition powerhouse, one ounce of chia seeds provides 4 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, plus very healthy doses of magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.  These tiny seeds also provide a great vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Chia seeds swell tremendously when placed into liquid, many people add them to smoothies for a quick energy burst.  Other use them for chia pudding (note-instead of the agave nectar called for in this link use honey or maple syrup).  They’re easily found in many full service grocery stores or they can be purchased online.  While not inexpensive, they pack a healthy nutrition punch and are worth paying extra for.

Sleep is a major issue in our lives.  Lack of sleep is a growing problem.  Most people don’t realize how much we need darkness for sleep and how our world is becoming more and more polluted with light from electric sources.  This movie, The City Dark: a search for night on a planet that never sleeps, looks at darkness, the stars, and why this relationship is, should be, so important to us.

One important reason to get enough sleep?  Turns out that junk food is more appealing when you’re sleepy.  The areas of your brain that process are impacted, negatively, when you are sleep deprived.  Something to think about when you’re tempted to skip a few hours of sleep.

What I’m Reading:

Food Bites: The Science of The Foods We Eat – While I do spend a rather large part of my reading time reading books that relate to food, cooking, nutrition, and holistic health, I do this because I truly enjoy it.  Some of them are weightier than others.  Some, like this one, are cute, lighthearted looks at food.  This is a series of columns written by the author Richard W. Hartel.  Based in science but explaining such puzzling issues as why chocolate forms a bloom, these easy to read short chapters are fun and informative.

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On My Mind Monday 6.4.12

news | photo: mconnors

It’s never the same two weeks in a row.  This is what I find interesting in the fields of health, nutrition, and holistic living.  Read what’s on my mind.

Like curry? – turmeric, one of the commonly used spices in curry, contains curcurmin.  Evidence appears to indicate that curcurmin can be supportive for conditions such as arthritis, cancer, and diabetes. Now it turns out that curcurmin may actually boost the immune system.  In addition to curries, turmeric can be used in making pickles, relishes, added to egg salad, use to flavor rice dishes, and more.  I always laugh when I go to visit a friend of mine who is from India.  Her kitchen contains a quart jar of turmeric and she goes through it at a fairly quick pace.  I have a two ounce jar and it takes me a long time to use it all.  Perhaps we all need to be considering other ways to add it to our diet.

RI to vote on banning veal crates – I’m happy to see this in the news and hope that Rhode Island will join Arizona, Colorado, California, Maine, and Michigan in outlawing this inhumane practice.  Veal is, essentially, the waste product of the dairy industry.  Not able to use male calves the farmers can instead turn them into meat.  However part of the reason veal is so pale and tender is because the calves are kept hobbled or caged and cannot walk or use their muscles.  It is also believed that many of these calves are given illegal hormones to make them grow faster, thereby making them more profitable for the farmer. Many people, when they find out how veal is raised, are horrified and choose to no longer eat it.  That is the clearest message that can be sent to the farmers.

Fast Food Mania TV show – I’m truly stunned by this t.v. concept (and not in a good way).  I wonder how hard the fast food producers had to work and how much they had to pay to get this concept on the air.  As if we don’t have enough of a challenge with obesity and fast food consumption in this country.   I get the impression that this show will not only glorify this unhealthy food, but also offer tips on how to maximize your dining experience.  Not a good idea.

Right now in my garden outside I have a fair amount of greens growing including kale, swiss chard, and Malabar spinach (Basella alba).  While malabar is different than traditional spinach due to it’s habit of climbing and the rounded thicker leaves, it’s still a spinach and so it get’s cooked like spinach.  This video from George Mateljan shows a great way to cook it.  His healthy take away tips are 1. don’t drink the water that you cook the spinach in as it is high in oxalic acid, and 2. use lemon juice on the spinach, this will help to increase the iron absorption.

George has a great book The World’s Healthiest Foods which is a wonderful reference for learning about the healthy properties of a tremendous range of foods.  It also comes packed with hundreds of delicious recipes.  This is one of those books which I believe belongs on everyone’s shelf.  Sign up for his YouTube channel and stay on top of his healthy, tasty, recipes as well