Make a change
January 4, 2008 at 2:50 am
A new year brings with it promise and hope and a chance to start again. I’ve read in papers, on blogs, and in magazine lists and lists of resolutions and ways to change everything. The temptation here is wanting to change so many things that nothing actually ever changes.
I saw a book advertised, “In Defense of Food – An Eater’s Manifesto” that echoes discussions I’ve had with many people this year. We were talking about organic and sustainable foods and how our farmer grandparents and great grandparents were so robust. Not that they were without illness, it just seems that their early years were plagued with more contagious illnesses than with obesity, high blood pressure, or diabetes. They might have suffered from these later in life but they still seemed be productive into their 80′s.
In light of the new year might I suggest that we focus on just one change for now. This change is mentioned in this book and was the also the general conclusion of these many discussions. Quoting the excellent advice of In Defense of Food, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” ; my suggested change is to eat simply.
Don’t eat anything that comes from a box unless it is a single ingredient, like oatmeal or rice. As much as possible eat foods that look like themselves. By that I mean foods in their original form like apples, carrots, beets, broccoli, and so on.
Drink mostly plain water. Hot water with a twist of lemon is actually a very energizing beverage. Add to this some ginger and honey and you have a warming beverage. I have nothing against tea, but the more exotic the concoction, the more processing it takes.
People often complain about the cost of their groceries (especially when you suggest they buy organic). I am beginning to think it is because we tend to buy a lot of already made foods. As I’ve begun to buy whole foods I find that I have a lower grocery bill even though these foods are organic.
My own kids are used to opening the pantry and pulling out something to eat. I’ve stopped buying processed foods so they’ve had to relearn to open the refrigerator and pull out fruit or vegetables to eat. If they want a treat, they have to make it. Funny, but they eat a lot less junk when they realize they have to mix ingredients together to get a cookie. And guess what? I eat a lot less too. Maybe this will take care of another resolution I want to make, seeing less of me in 2008.
I’ll keep you posted on how we make out as we make this change and I’d love to hear from you if you decide to do this too.
May you have a happy and blessed New Year in 2008.
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December 24, 2007 at 6:08 pm
Unfortunately, the holidays can be filled with stress as well as bliss. Most of us like being with family and friends, eating good food, and having a little time off from work. But, because we try to jam so much into this season, we often end up not enjoying the very things we were looking forward to for months. One lady I spoke with said it was like getting ready for a wedding, you plan for months and then it is over in minutes.
While we can’t change many of the things we do this holiday, we can try to grab some relaxing time in between events. Here are some ideas for 15 minute stress relievers:
Deep breathing exercises help relax and reenergize your system
Put on some relaxing music and close your eyes for 15 minutes
Take a 15 minutes walk outside or dance to music for 15 minutes (this helps release the built up stress homones)
If you have a friend around, take 15 minutes to give each other a quick back. foot, or even hand massage.
If you have a bit more time, you might try these:
Go for a longer walk or plan some other work out time
Take a power nap
Schedule a massage
Take a long bath with lavendar essential oil in your bath water.
Drink a cup of cammomile tea and listen to some peaceful music. (Yoyo Ma playing on his cello – Ahhh)
Watch the funniest sitcom episode you can find. (My favorite is I Love Lucy doing “Vitameatavegimin”)
It is also important to gravitate towards healthy food when possible and drink a lot of water to keep your system working well. Crunch on some organic carrots, apples, or celery and snack on almonds for energy.
Feel free to add your own stress relief ideas, the more the better.
Happy holidays to you all!
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December 14, 2007 at 2:06 pm
This time of year everyone loves to receive gifts. The act of giving a gift can also be very pleasurable. I really enjoy making things for my family. I have the pleasure of thinking about the recipient the whole time I am making their gift. Plus with some gifts, I have the comfort of knowing exactly what I am giving them.
Two of my favorite gifts to give are homemade bath salts and homemade lip balm. These two gifts are simple to make and I can choose good organic ingredients so I am sure I am gving something healthy.
For lip balm you will need:
a double boiler or one pan that fits inside another
3 teaspoons of grated organic bees wax (I use the kind I would chew, it’s harder to grate but still has a bit of honey in it)
5 teaspoons of organic sunflower oil or jojoba oil
Sometime I like to put a teaspoon of organic coconut oil in too.
organic food grade essential oil
Place a little water (about 1 inch) in the lower pan of the double boiler (or the larger pan). Place the other pan on top and melt the beeswax and oil together in the top pan. Make sure you stir. Remove from the heat and add 6 drops of essential oil like peppermint, orange, lemon, etc. Add 1 teaspoon of honey. Stir and pour into little containers. Yum, you’re done.
For bath salts you will need:
a bowl for mixing
Organic Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
Food grade essential oils (do not use the aromatherapy oils found in department stores, use real organic essential oil)
Herbs if desired (Comfrey Leaf, Sage Leaf, Lavender Petal, Chamomile Flower, Spearmint Leaf, Elder Flower, Licorice Root, Lemon Peel, Rosehips)
reusable tea bags if you use herbs
To make the bath salts, measure out 6 cups of salt into the bowl. Add 8 drops of oil, stirring as you add the oil to distribute it evenly. Add herbs like lavender, sage, and the others listed above sooth the skin. Add about 1/2 cup to the 6 cups of bath salts and mix thoroughly. Pour your creation into one or two pretty jars (I look for these at thrift shops). Include reusable tea bags (you can buy these at most health food stores or make your own) or a tea ball if you have put herbs in your mixture. Using the tea bags will prevent the giftee from having a mess in the bathtub and herbs stuck to their body when they get out of the tub. Include these instructions on a nice piece of paper: Place 1/4 cup of mixture in tea bag (or ball), place in warm or hot bath water and enjoy!
Be sure to make an extra batch for yourself so you can relax and enjoy them.
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The winner is..
November 30, 2007 at 2:19 pm
I couldn’t help myself, I just had share the winning entry on Ecospot with you. Here it is “Sky is Falling” . For more great “think” spots, go to Ecospot. Do something to help the planet and people today.
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Oh the weather outside is….
at 6:25 am
just right for digging a hole. Yup, it’s time to dig a hole before the ground gets too frozen. Now, why do I want you to dig a hole? For your Christmas tree of course, that is if you celebrate Christmas and are planning on buying a live tree to replant.
Christmas reminders are everywhere and some people are beginning to think about a tree. Should you buy a live tree, a cut tree, or a plastic tree (otherwise known as artificial)? Well, the choice is really yours but truthfully live and cut trees are probably the most sustainable. They will never end up in a land fill and they won’t off-gas in your home. Live trees can be planted to continue growing. Cut trees are sustainable because tree farmers will replant another tree when one is cut down.
You can find out more information on live Christmas trees here. They give you excellent tips for caring for you tree. However, I do want to relate a little story to help you prepare if you want to have a live tree.
I have a friend who loved the idea of planting her Christmas tree once she was done with it inside. So she purchase a nice sized tree that was in a container. Her first obstacle was getting the tree home. Unlike a cut tree that can go on your car roof, or a plastic tree that comes in a box, you have to be careful with your container tree. You must not break off the leader (top) of the tree or it will grow funny. Also, the tree will be very heavy due to the soil around it’s roots.
With help at the tree farm, my friend got her tree in her car and got it home. At home though there was no one to help her unload this heavy tree. So she finally enlisted the help of neighbors and got the tree into her living room.
She enjoyed the tree and after Christmas took off the decorations and proceeded to prepare to take her tree outside. The tree seemed to be heavier and she realized that since she had watered the tree while it was indoors, it was heavier than when she brought it in. She did not want to enlist the help of the several neighbors to get the tree out of the house. So, she began dragging the tree to the door. It was so heavy she could only move it a bit at a time. It took a month to get the tree to the door and then she couldn’t lift it over the threshold. In the end the tree died, but was still so heavy she just had to let it sit in her foyer until the soil was dry. Of course by this time the needles fell off too.
I tell you this story not to discourage you from buying a live tree, but to prepare you. Have a system planned for getting the tree in and later out of your house. And have your hole ready for the tree. If you have pre-dug your hole, fill it with leaves and cover it with a tarp so it won’t fill with snow or be so frozen that the tree won’t fit. Also, you will need soil to go around the root ball of the tree. Either have bags of soil somewhere where they won’t freeze, or store the soil removed from the hole in a place where it won’t freeze.
If you have the room, you could have some beautiful trees to remind you of the special time you’ve spent with your family. You also have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping the environment by keeping the tree alive. But if you don’t have room, you don’t need to feel guilty about buying a cut tree. Look for a grower that uses organic practices. This is a sustainable option and one that can also benefit wildlife. Here’s how to re-use your cut tree as a winter bird feeding station.
Now if we’d just get some snow……
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What are Mono- & Diglycerides, Anyway???
November 15, 2007 at 3:24 pm
That’s exactly what I wanted to find out. When I wrote my blog on trans fats, entitled “The Evilest Loophole,” a kind person commented and told us all to look out for monoglycerides and diglycerides, saying that they were very similar to trans fat and could be considered the NEXT trans fat. I thought, hmm … I ought to look into this.
It turns out that just like trans fat (hydrogenated vegetable oils), mono- and diglycerides are everywhere! They’re found in many food products – but especially in bakery products like breads and bagels and pastries. Just look at the ingredient list on a bakery product and I can nearly guarantee that you’ll see mono- or diglycerides present in the list.
So what are mono- and diglycerides?
Well, almost all fat comes in the form of triglycerides, a term I’m sure you’ve heard of if you’ve been to the doctor recently – doctors like to check “triglyceride levels.” If you take a batch of triglycerides, which have three (thus the “tri-”) fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule, and mix them with the right chemicals, some of those fatty acid chains will dissociate from their glycerol molecule, resulting in mono- and diglycerides. A monoglyceride has one fatty acid attached to a glycerol molecule while a diglyceride has two fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule. Simple enough. But trans fats are simple enough, too, right? And they’re terrible for us! So what about mono- and diglycerides?
It’s really hard to say, actually. I didn’t come across any conclusive research that says either way. But I did find out what mono- and diglycerides ARE, and I’ll tell you and then let you decide if they sound natural and healthy or not.
Mono- and diglycerides are emulsifying agents – they are both hydrophilic (attracting water) and hydrophobic (repelling water), so they are soluble in both water AND fat, which makes them unique – but not necessarily natural. They are used to keep oils from separating out of products and used to increase shelf life – the same reasons that trans fats are used in most products. Just think of traditional peanut butter – it is smooth and creamy right out of the jar because the trans fat in it prevents the oil from separating out. In fact, you’ll find mono- and diglycerides in many varieties of peanut butter in addition to bakery products – and you’ll even find them in most margarines, another product where trans fat runs rampant.
It seems that trans fat and mono- and diglycerides go hand-in-hand – in fact, I used to see a particular brand of whole wheat lavash (tortilla-like bread) that used to have partially hydrogenated oil in it but now has mono- and diglycerides instead. Are food manufacturers taking out the trans fat and adding mono- and diglycerides to replace the trans fat? The compounds seem to work in the same way – they keep oils from separating out and they extend shelf life and help products taste more “smooth.” I really can’t help but think that trans fat and mono- and diglycerides are related – and thus equally dangerous.
You know what, though? There just isn’t enough research out there to tip the scales either way at this point. So even though I have become very wary of any product that contains mono- or diglycerides, I’m going to leave it up to you, loyal readers. You have the information now – you make the decision. Are mono- and diglycerides part of a healthy diet? Are they okay for human consumption? Are they the sneaky, underhanded cousins of trans fat?
I have my own suspicions. And like I said, I’m very wary now. What do you all think? What have you heard about mono- and diglycerides? Please comment!
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Oh what a tangled web we weave..
November 14, 2007 at 9:11 pm
Deception seems to be the name of the game in the food industry these days. Their favorite board room question must be “How can we get our food (which by nature decomposes over time) to last longer or at least look like it is lasting longer so we can make more profit?”
I was helping my children find shoes, bookbags, and all the stuff needed to get them out the door and headed towards school, when a Good Morning America segment caught my attention. It was a hearing on meat and a woman was holding a package of nice red meat in her hand. The problem? The meat was actually 2 years old but it still looked like it was fresh. How was this possible?
It seems as though the food industry once again, has decided it is OK to decieve consumers by treating meat with CO gas in order to preserve its nice fresh color. They do something similar (called Modified Atmosphere Packaging) with packaged salad, potato chips, and other foods too so they will last longer or look better as the food sits on the shelf. But, ugh, the food could be rotten and you wouldn’t know until you opened the package.
Of course, you are supposed to read the tiny little dates on the package that tell you when it expires. If you’re like me though, I forget my reading glasses and can never see the printing on these packages. Or maybe your a mom toting around a few kids who are pulling you in ten directions. Do you remember to check dates every time?
In USA Today we read that Hormel, a big pusher and user of this technique, has had few complaints. Well guess why? Consumers probably don’t have time to look up a manufacturer’s address to send a complaint and did you ever try to return something in a grocery store?
Food packaging provides a necessary service in our big store, big industry world. However, I would just like the truth written on my packages so I can make my own decisions. I don’t want to buy gassed meat (and I don’t, I purchase from a local source that doesn’t use this practice). I also want to know if my packaged product was treated with something.
For those very reasons I am buying more and more local and organic products. What do you think, where do we draw the line here with the food industries need for profit and our need for truth?
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Help I’m Drowning…
November 8, 2007 at 8:36 pm
I’m being buried in a sea of catalogs! I love the holidays, but really! I think I’ve received at least 4 catalogs a day since the end of October. OK, let’s do math, that is 32, yes siree, 32 catalogs in 9 days. Yikes, I will have to take one carload of just catalogs to the recycling center by Christmas if this keeps up.
Catalogs not only take up space but they do something else. They encourage my family to buy things. I know that is the point of the catalogs, but when we are trying to reduce our consumption, it makes things harder. For most of us, out of sight, out of mind works very well. And I certainly don’t need more stuff to manage in our household.
This piece of advice might be too late for this season, but it is worth taking advantage of the service if you, too, are being buried in a sea of paper. On Mom Go Green, you’ll find this great site for registering to reduce your catalog load. While we’re at it, you can also reduce your junk mail load by going here to the New American Dream site. Then all those credit card offers to help you pay off your Christmas debt from the catalogs will stop clogging your mail box.
So, after shoveling the catalogs out of my house, I’m going outside to enjoy the rest of fall while it is here.
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A few of my favorite things…
November 1, 2007 at 1:51 pm
My daughters love the “Sound of Music”. When they were little they ran around the house singing the various songs including “My Favorite Things”. They didn’t know the words, except for the part that says “these are a few of my favorite things”. Instead, they made up their own lyrics with their favorite things. I think it went “Ponies, and chocolate, and Mollie, and Barbie….” Anyway, I wanted to share a few of my favorite things.
The first thing isn’t actually a thing, but a program through TerraPass. TerraPass is a company that allows you to help fund three kinds of eco friendly energy projects that will offset the emissions from your travel. The program I am excited about is actually a partnership between TerraPass and RIPmobile. This program allows you to recycle your PDA or mobile phone for a gift certificate to use with TerraPass. Check out how to do this here.
Another favorite thing of mine is this card from Three Leaf Cards on climate change. A card from Tree Greetings is also a nice idea since a tree is planted for every greeting you send. I like the idea of cards that “do” something as opposed to cards that use up trees and energy and get thrown in the trash a week later.
Since I hate buying water in plastic bottles, I love my Sigg bottles. We have them in many colors. They also make great gifts and I plan to buy these for a new baby in our neighborhood. She will also be wearing my favorite onesie with this great message.
Of course counted among my favorites are my family and almost anything to do with being outside.
So those a just a few of my favorite things, what are your favorite things?
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October 17, 2007 at 3:18 pm
On Sunday I could have sworn someone left a truck parked on my head. My neck hurt so bad I couldn’t turn my head and my throat was scratchy. My husband vehemently denied having turned the heat in our house up or down. Turns out I was just plain sick. A virus had caught me (I certainly don’t go around catching viruses).
My kids and husband rallied around me. ”Do you want anything?” Oh boy, did I want some things. I wanted every comforting thing I could think of. First, I called for my vitamin C and my Defend and Resist which contains Echinacea and Zinc. There may not be conclusive evidence that Echinacea, C and Zinc help fend off illness but I’ve had good results and I didn’t think it could hurt.
Next I wanted tea. Not just any tea but my organic Chai (from Yogi Tea, fair trade and organic) with just a bit of organic honey. A few sips and my stomach was calm again. I alternated all day between Chai and Green Tea. Then I wanted my rice bags. Rice bags are like heating pads but they are made from rice and mine contains lavender grown in my own garden. The bag is heated in the microwave until warm and then you can put it wherever it hurts. You must be careful with these just like any hot thing, but when used correctly they are a wonderful comfort.
After some tea and warmth, my daughter was encouraging me to eat. I really had no appetite, but she finally talked me into some organic chicken broth. These last three days I have lived on tea and organic soups, including some from Amy’s Kitchen. I just wasn’t up to making my own and didn’t have any frozen in small batches. Tonight we are having cabbage and onions with organic noodles. I know that sounds a bit odd, but it is definitely a comfort food.
Though I don’t want anyone to get sick, there are times when having some comforting things around you makes it easier to get through an illness. What comforts you when you are under the weather?
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