Follow that man
September 25, 2007 at 4:12 pm
I was lost the other day as I tried to find the Pennsylvania Renewable Energy Festival. I don’t really panic when I’m lost because I know that roads have to come out somewhere. However, if I were really someplace unfamiliar, I think I would want to follow this guy, Will Steger. I think he probably could find his way out of anyplace.
Right now I am in an unfamiliar place. I’m trying to figure out how to make the best changes we can as a family to reduce our carbon footprint. We don’t have the money to buy a new car, install solar panels, or switch appliances. But after hearing Will Steger speak, I think there are plenty of other things we can do that will make a difference.
I had the privilege of listening to and meeting Will Steger while in Tennessee this summer. Will Steger is an artic explorer who has kept track of the changes in the climate as he traveled our poles. He has always championed environmental causes but in the last years he has been particularly concerned with climate changes. This is because he has witnessed first hand the very real difference in the arctic climate.
Over the next three years, Will Steger and his teams will be making expeditions to the Baffin Island (2007), Ellesmere Island (2008), Antarctica (2008), and Greenland (2009). You can view the 2007 expedition and follow him on his 2008 expedition via podcasts.
On his website Global Warming 101, he has some very readable and easy to understand articles about what is happening in the arctic and why it is important to us. He used some of these materials as he spoke to us both of his journey and the science behind understanding climate change.
In the end, he left us with something very important, hope. Very small changes can add up to big impacts. So if you think you’re in unfamiliar territory with climate change, follow Will, I think he’s on the right trail.
What trail are you on in your journey to reduce your carbon footprint?
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The Joy of Food Bars and Why YOU Should Try One Today!
September 24, 2007 at 2:13 pm
I consider food bars one of the greatest edible inventions of all time because they pack a ton of nutrition and taste into one tiny, totally portable package. They are the most delicious and healthiest “fast food” on the planet – well, perhaps alongside the banana, which is perfectly wrapped up and made good to go by Mother Nature herself.
But wait! Hold it right there!
You have to make sure you’re getting the RIGHT food bars – and believe me, with such a popular product, there are so many WRONG choices out there it’s almost laughable. Almost.
So many food bars nowadays are made to look healthy and nutritious but actually contain many of the nasty, icky, and unhealthy ingredients found in most candy bars. And believe me, a food bar is not a candy bar – a food bar is actual food in compact, portable form and a candy bar is a … well, a candy bar is just empty calories and minimal nutrition, if any at all. In fact, most food bars are no better than most candy bars – and simply because something is pumped full of vitamins and minerals does not make it healthy. Sorry, PowerBar. Not really so powerful, are you?
Watch your ingredients when it comes to food bars. After a short while I’m sure you’ll notice how often high fructose corn syrup appears on the labels of the most popular brands. You’ll also see artificial sweeteners and more incredibly refined sugars, both a no-no.
So where’s a health-conscious person supposed to turn?
To my two favorite brands of food bars, Organic Food Bar and Larabar. Both companies take only the simplest, purest, and all-natural ingredients and whip them up into delightful flavor combinations that satisfy not only my taste buds but my strict standards of nutrition excellence. I LOVE these food bars – truly. I eat one nearly every day and I keep a stash of them in my purse for whenever I need a small meal. They are perfect for meal-replacements: I eat one for lunch instead of a regular meal and I feel totally satisfied. Plus, each bar is only 200-300 calories – the ideal amount for a small meal or snack. These bars can’t get any better!
Please note that Larabar’s line of Organic Food Bars is called Jocalat (“Chocolate”) and they are absolutely delicious – they taste like decadent fudge brownies – but they’re actually good for you!
Please check out their websites – www.organicfoodbar.com and www.larabar.com. You can see the myriad of flavors available and get a good sense of the companies themselves. You can even check out all of the ingredients involved. There are flavors like Belgium Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Orange, Chocolate Mint and Active Greens. There are more flavors than you can shake a food bar at.
You can find these wondrous food bars at any local health food store. Please try one as soon as you can – you won’t regret it and I’m sure you’ll feel opened up to a whole new world of edible possibilities.
Remember, you can take a food bar anywhere. They love to travel and they’ll save you time and money when you’re in a hunger pinch. So try one today!
… And then let me know what you think.
Happy Food Bar-ing!
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Me SO Love the Miso!
September 18, 2007 at 5:10 pm
Fall is drawing very near and with it come chilly breezes and dropping temperatures. Doesn’t it just make you want a nice bowl of soup? I know I crave soups during this time of year and my favorite soup to eat and make is miso (pronounced mee-so) soup. I’ve maintained for a long time that miso soup is good for the soul. It’s great for your body, too!
Miso is a dense paste made of fermented rice and soybeans. It is super salty and has a unique flavor. It dissolves easily in hot liquids and therefore makes a perfect soup broth. But what’s fascinating about miso is that it is a LIVING food! Miso is alive and well and contains natural digestive enzymes, healthy bacteria, and other microorganisms that aid in healthy digestion.
But most people make a huge mistake when making homemade miso soup!
Most people add their miso paste to their pot when the water is boiling – but since miso is a living food, it can be killed at certain temperatures – and the temperature of boiling water is plenty to kill a fine young batch of miso. And believe me, you want your miso to be alive when you eat it because the living qualities of the miso are also the healthful qualities and to get the maximum health benefits from miso, it needs to be alive when you consume it.
This is very simple to achieve. After you are done boiling your seaweed or mushrooms or tofu or other goodies you’re adding to your soup, remove the pot from the heat and allow the water to cool for a few minutes. Then stir in your miso paste. This way, the temperature of the water drops enough to not kill your miso, but the water remains hot enough to successfully dissolve the miso and satisfy that chill in the pit of your stomach. Everyone’s happy.
As a general rule when making miso soup, use about 2-3 teaspoons of miso per cup of water. You can add anything you like to a pot of miso soup, but the traditional ingredients are simply tofu and a seaweed of your choosing, like Wakame or Kombu.
So pick up a package of miso today and start experimenting in the kitchen! Like I said before, you can really add anything to a pot of miso soup, so the possibilities are endless. Just take good care of your miso and make sure it’s still alive when you eat it – believe me, it won’t mind!
Happy Fall to you all!
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at 4:12 pm
Ping. Ping. Not the average sound that most people would use to describe fall, but it is one of the sounds familiar in our household. It is the sound of canning lids as they seal. The canning lids make a joyful little “ping” noise to let you know the job is done.
Canning season has been in full swing for weeks. It overlaps the last of summer vacation, the start of school, and the first cool tang of fall air. Today, I canned my remaining tomato sauce that has been simmering for days (yes, days) and pulled the remaining tomatoes from the garden to be peeled and canned whole. We won’t get an entire year’s worth of tomatoes like my grandmother did when she canned, but we will have enough to stretch our food budget. The best perk is the fact that the tomatoes are grown completely without pesticides or non-organic fertilizer.
I thought that I would just review the tomato canning process. It’s not hard and could be done in one evening. You will need some equipment. If this is your first time canning, check with friends and see if you can borrow a canner. If not, canners are available at most hardware stores and places like K-mart. So, you need a canner, canning jars with lids and rings (they usually come as a set with the jars), a large pot, a large funnel, two bowls, a collander, slotted spoons, clean towels and wash cloths, and thin plastic or wooden spatula.
All the equipment (except the towels and cloths) should be washed in hot, soapy water and rinsed well. The jars are then put in a pot of water and boiled to sterilize. I fill the jars with hot water and set them in the pot standing up, then cover them with water to about 1 inch. The lids are placed in a small pan, covered with water, and boiled for 1 minute. Leave them in the water.
Since it would take a lot of space for me to describe the whole canning process, I’ve found an excellent link that shows the process. Your local Cooperative Extension office also has materials to help you with this process. The materials are free.
My next canning project will be jellies from our crab apple tree and applesauce from local apples. Let me know if you tried this and how it worked out. If you need some help, just leave a comment and I’ll try to find the answer for you.
Happy canning, “ping”.
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Ode to Vegenaise … and My Challenge to YOU!
September 7, 2007 at 4:53 pm
So one of my favorite health foods is Vegenaise – the egg-free, dairy-free alternative to mayonaise! Oh, and what an alternative it is. Oh, dear Vegenaise, how I adore your creamy, smooth texture and full, rich, decadent taste. How I love your absence of icky, non-organic eggs and your true vegan-ness! Mmm, Vegenaise, mmm!
Have YOU tried Vegenaise yet? If not, that is my challenge to you.
Go out to your favorite health food store and visit the refrigerated section and buy yourself a jar of Vegenaise – it even comes in several varieties: Original, Grapeseed Oil, Expeller-Pressed, and Organic. My personal favorite is the Grapeseed Oil variety because, frankly, when else is one able to sneak grapeseed oil into one’s regular diet? It’s hard to do. But the Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise is outstandingly delicious and offers many health benefits unique to grapeseed oil. I’ll fill you in on the ingredients …
Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise Ingredients: Grapeseed oil, filtered water, brown rice syrup, apple cider vinegar, soy protein, sea salt, mustard flour, and lemon juice concentrate.
Vegenaise is also GMO-Free! So no worries. It has a wonderful ingredient profile with no refined sugars and no artificial ingredients of any kind. What a great all-natural product. And did I mention it’s delicious? Use it in place of mayonaise in all your favorite recipes and you’ll be astonished by how much more delicious – and healthy! – everything tastes. PLUS …
Vegenaise is KID-TESTED and KID-APPROVED! That’s right! I have a super cool younger brother named Alex (he’s 12, soon to be 13, and quite the hockey player!) and he actually requests the Vegenaise … doesn’t miss mayonaise one bit. And believe me, he is one picky eater. If he likes it, all kids his age will like it. Talk about best condiment ever … AND it’s healthy.
One thing to keep in mind! Vegenaise still contains 90 calories per tablespoon, so use it sparingly, just as you normally use mayonaise. It is infinitely healthier than mayonaise, but it still packs the calories in. Just be careful about that … I always give that caveat with calorie-rich foods so you can watch your caloric intake.
Vegenaise is made by a neat company called Follow Your Heart and you can check out their great website HERE. Aren’t the bottles of Vegenaise elegant and pretty? Grapeseed Oil is in purple! How fun!
Enjoy your Vegenaise … and please post if you’ve tried it!
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A Bit About Me … and The Importance of Good Nutrition!
at 2:42 pm
Hello again everyone,
I’d like to properly introduce myself and tell you all a bit about who I am and what I’m into. As I’ve already mentioned, my passions are health, wellness, and nutrition. Back in early 2003, I was reading a simple description of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and I thought to myself, “Wow! I can’t believe how much I don’t know about what I eat and food in general!” It really struck me and I started doing a great deal of research into food, what it contains, what it’s made of, ingredients, and the like. I call it my “nutritional epiphany.” Since that epiphany, nothing has been the same. I found my life fueled by a completely new passion, an interest that swept me away and gave my life new meaning. I couldn’t believe how much there was to know and how little of it I actually knew. Learning about food and nutrition became my favorite hobby – I couldn’t get enough. What was even more fun was implementing my newfound knowledge in my day-to-day life – trying new foods, eating healthier, experimenting in the kitchen, reading everything I could get my hands on in the grocery store. Every month, it seemed, my understanding of health and nutrition evolved into a more sophisticated and useful one. And here’s the payoff: I lost weight and started feeling super healthy all the time! My energy levels improved and suddenly, I didn’t get sick anymore. Everything improved.
Then I started telling people about everything I had learned – beginning with my parents. I realized that the way we had been eating was incorrect and harmful and that it needed to change. But as I was changing, they weren’t. I wanted them to experience the same wonderful benefits that I was experiencing, so I did the only thing a good daughter can do – I harped and harped and harped at them until they tried new foods and ate less and ate healthier.
And then what happened, you may ask?
My parents both lost a bunch of weight! They look absolutely amazing – they’re both back down to the weight they maintained in their twenties. I am so very proud of both of them – they’ve really changed the way they eat and what their taste preferences are. My Mom has changed the way she shops and buys food and my Dad eats hummus for dinner – hummus! How great is that? And don’t even get me started on how amazing and healthy and delicious hummus is … not to mention how many different ways you can spell it …
My point is, nutrition is so important – perhaps one of the most important aspects of our day-to-day lives. I love it – thinking about it, writing about it, talking about it, enacting it! So most of my posts will center on nutrition, health, and wellness so that I can share my passions with all of you. I’ve seen what proper nutrition did for me and others, so I can vouch for its extreme relevance.
Besides nutrition, I love music and movies, particularly going out to the movie theater. Just a heads up – “The Bourne Ultimatum” is truly an awesome movie! Highly recommended. My favorite band is Radiohead and I’m into rock, jazz, classical, and alternative music, to name a few. Any other Radiohead fans out there? There are several TV shows I’m fond of: Lost, 24, Futurama, Family Guy, and Veronica Mars. I enjoy reading informative magazines and writing when I can – one of my favorite pastimes is writing handwritten letters and decorating them! Another favorite pastime is eBay – I’ve been known to do some serious bidding and some serious selling. Such fun it is.
I am so very excited to be here on the Organiblog and with I’m Organic. It’s a dream come true! Please post any questions you have for me about health and nutrition and I pledge to thoroughly research your question and provide you with a comprehensive answer. I’m also full of tips about portion control, weight control, weight loss, calorie content, nutritional content, ingredients lists, food labels, and more! So ask away! And I’ll share away, too.
Thanks for having me! Cheers!
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The Evilest Loophole
September 5, 2007 at 6:11 pm
My name is Jennifer and I’m new to the I’m Organic team and Blog. My passions are health, wellness, and most of all, nutrition. I’d like to first discuss one of my favorite hot-button issues … trans fatty acids!
At this point in time most of us know all about trans fatty acids … or “trans fats.” I am so happy that more and more people are recognizing them and understanding how truly awful they are for our bodies and our health and longevity. Trans fats are, simply, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Vegetable oils are normally liquid at room temperature – so to harden them and make them a solid, manufacturers partially hydrogenate the oil – a very man-made process – in order to make the liquid oil a solid at room temperature. This is very handy in processed foods that have to sit on shelves for a long time and it enables processed food to have a particular taste and texture. The oil will no longer “separate out” of the food (like in natural peanut butter, when you have the layer of oil on top) when it is hydrogenated, which is desirable in processed foods – but very undesirable to your body. Trans fats have been shown to be more dangerous than saturated fats and have also been shown to raise levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol, an extremely bad situation. Ick! Yuck!
There is a particular issue surrounding trans fats that is of great concern to me, and that is the new rules and regulations surrounding their labeling on food products and nutrition labels. “Trans Fat” now appears on its very own line in our beloved Nutrition Facts Label that appears on every known food product – you know, the black and white box that lists serving size, caloric content, total grams of fat, total salt, protein, etc. The new rules and regulations stipulate that manufacturers supply consumers with grams of Trans Fat on the Nutrition Facts Label …
But here’s the evilest loophole …
As long as the particular serving size of any product contains 0.5 grams of trans fat or less, the manufacturer of that food product is allowed to quote “0″ grams of trans fat on the Nutrition Facts Label AND on the front of the package (“0 grams of Trans Fat per Serving,” you will often see emblazoned on the front of most packages these days)! To me, “0″ means zip, zilch, nada, nope, none … the ABSENCE of something … not the presence of something in small amounts. 0.5 grams does not equal 0 grams! Especially when you take into account the fact that most people eat 3-4 servings of most foods at a time – especially processed foods, where trans fat becomes an issue. So suddenly, that 0.5 grams gets multiplied by 3 or 4 and you’ve got a substantial amount of trans fat. But when the average consumer, diligently trying to avoid trans fat, sees all of these packages bearing the relief-inspiring message, “Zero grams of trans fat per serving!” they think they’re in the clear. They don’t check the ingredients list – they look at the Nutrition Facts Label and see that it is clearly marked: Trans fat, 0 grams. But there aren’t zero grams! See what I mean by the evilest loophole?
The only way to be truly sure that your favorite food product is free of trans fat is to ignore the claims on the front of the package, ignore the Nutrition Facts Label, and check the actual ingredients list. Look for the words “partially hydrogenated.” That tells you, pure and simple, that that product contains trans fatty acids – no matter what the Nutrition Facts Label says. So there! Take that, FDA! We won’t be fooled again!
Please pass this information on to your friends and family – it’s very important and I’ve been very surprised by how many people do not know this. The vast majority of people who are conscious of trans fats and try to avoid them are actually ingesting them on a regular basis due to the fact that they only check the Nutrition Facts Labels. They’re not wrong in doing so – the system is just horribly misleading … due to this evilest of loopholes. This information is vital to your health and longevity – avoiding foods containing trans fat is that important.
Please comment and post any questions you may have!
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September 2, 2007 at 6:38 pm
Well, I hate to admit this but our garden has suffered from all our activities this summer. It is something like a small jungle now, which the goats find quite enjoyable. In fact we’ve staked our goats out in the lower part of the garden to help keep down the weeds. Goats are not grazers like sheep, but are browsers like deer.
Despite this neglect, the garden has produced a variety of vegetables. So far we’ve had lettuce, basil, onions, and green beans. My very favorite has been the beefsteak tomatoes.
This week is canning week. I will harvest most of the plum tomatoes from the garden and can or freeze them. Canning is a lost art. However, people who want organic food for their family might take a second look at canning. Food is canned with heat (and sometimes pressure) in glass jars. The jars and rings are reusable. The canner needs only to replace the lids every year.
It seems to me that this is an easy way to stretch our food budget and know exactly what our family is eating. If I buy a bushel of corn and can or freeze it, I can decide exactly what I want in the cans. I don’t have to add preservatives, sugar, or any of the other things manufacturers add.
I’ll do more on canning later this week. But for now it’s harvest time. Are you harvesting anything? Are you doing any canning? What’s your favorite canned item?
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