Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oil Extraction Techniques

There are different extraction processes for making an oil from a fruit, vegetable, nut or seed. You may have seen the words "expeller-pressed" or "cold-pressed" on a bottle before and wondered what that meant.

The cheapest and most common method for extracting oils involves heating the seed to an extremely high temperature and crushing it, thus causing exposure to even more heat through friction. Any oils not obtained through the pressure are treated with a hexane solvent, some of which remains on the oil even after it is washed away.

The high heat from this process creates free radicals and destroys the antioxidants that normally protect us from them. And although hexane levels are generally low in the oils, hexane poisoning can cause muscular and vision problems.

Another extraction process is called expeller-expression. In this technique the seeds are drilled and exposed to lower temperatures. Some expeller-pressed oils are still treated with hexane. This is why it is important to make sure your oils are organic.

Cold-pressed oils are those that have not been exposed to high temperatures, but there is little regulation in the United States as to what defines a high temperature. Some expeller-pressed oils are not considered cold-pressed.

Why does it matter how the oils are extracted?

As I mentioned before, organic expeller-pressed oils are not treated with chemicals, additives or preservatives. But these oils are also healthier because if stored correctly they are not rancid like oils made from other extraction processes. Most oils turn sour when they are exposed to too much heat, light or oxygen. So, the bottles of oil on the grocery store shelf are usually rancid before you even open them, making them full of free radicals and bad for your intestinal health. The oils generally don't smell sour because they go through a deodorizing process.

Tip: Always remember to store your expeller-pressed oils in a dark container in the fridge so you limit their exposure to light and heat.

To see a chart of oils from best to worst for you, click here.



Fallon, Sally. Nourishing traditions the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. Washington, DC: NewTrends Pub., 1999.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Homemade Crackers

I am working on a series of posts comparing the ingredients of popular store-bought foods to homemade versions. Having a child with severe food allergies, it is important that I make the food we eat in my own kitchen, where I can control what is actually in it.

Knowing what is actually in the foods you eat is very important. Many times successful marketing tricks consumers into believing a food is healthier than it actually is.

Here are some examples:

Triscuit Crackers Baked Whole Grain Wheat Rosemary & Olive Oil

The words baked, whole grain, and olive oil might make them sound healthy, but here are the ingredients: WHOLE WHEAT, SOYBEAN AND/OR PALM OIL, MALTODEXTRIN, SALT, SPICES (INCLUDES ROSEMARY), MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (FLAVOR ENHANCER), ONION POWDER, NATURAL FLAVOR, OLIVE OIL.

Olive oil is listed as the very last ingredient. The oils actually used to make the crackers are soybean and palm oils - two of the cheaper and unhealthier oils on the market. The crackers also contain maltodextrin to make them crispy, MSG to enhance the flavor, and "natural flavors", which can mean just about anything.

Wheat Thins Crackers - Hint of Salt


The first ingredient is enriched wheat, despite the fact that the packaging makes you think they are using quality wheat. These crackers include sugar, malt syrup AND high fructose corn syrup, as well as ingredients to make them a more appealing color and emulsifiers to make it all mix better.

Throwing together a batch of homemade crackers takes less than five minutes and helps you avoid eating all of those unhealthy ingredients. Here is what you need:

1 cup organic flour (I have used whole wheat and spelt flour, but any type would work)
1/4 t. yeast
a dash of baking soda
salt (as much as you like)
1/2 cup water
1 t. butter or the oil of your choice
any spices or flavors you prefer (rosemary, garlic salt, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, pepper, seeds, etc.)

Combine the flour, yeast, baking soda, and salt. Add your spices. I like to use rosemary and/or garlic salt. Then add the water and either butter or oil. (Remember not to use extra virgin versions while baking if you are going to use olive oil. Learn why here.)

Roll the dough onto a cookie sheet and score it with a pizza cutter or knife. You can also use cookie cutters to make fun shapes for kids. Sprinkle extra salt if you like your crackers salty.

Bake for ten minutes or until crispy at 400 degrees.

And there you have it! Organic, preservative-free crackers in less than fifteen minutes. They taste to me like a cross between the two crackers listed above - they have the flavor of the triscuits (if you use rosemary as an ingredient), with the texture of a wheat thin.


- Jessica

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Food Combinations For Optimal Health

Several years ago Adam and I noticed that the order in which we were eating our foods was having an effect on our digestion. At the time I was reading The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin, which talked a little about food combining diets. We looked into it briefly and made a few changes to our diets - mainly eating our salads and fruits first so that they didn't sit and rot in our stomachs after we were done eating. Adam noticed a change in his digestion immediately.

On the way home from work a few weeks ago, he heard a radio program by Dr. Ann Wigmore about food combinations and it reignited our interest in the topic. Many of the things we have learned during our research over the past few weeks has been very interesting.

Fun food-combining facts:

Eat Vitamin C with Green Tea because it increases the absorption of the antioxidants in the tea. For example - squeeze lemon into your tea.

Eat Vitamin-rich foods with Fats because many essential vitamins (especially A,D and E) are absorbed best by the body when eaten with fats. For example - cook your vitamin-rich veggies in an oil.

Eat Garlic with Fish because studies show the garlic helps lower the LDL-cholesterol in fish oil.

Eat Turmeric with Black Pepper because the piperine in the pepper increases the anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and tumor-fighting effects of the turmeric.

Eat Rosemary with Grilled Meat because the herbs antioxidants soak up the carcinogens in the meat. Eating cruciferous vegetables with grilled meat is also recommended. Read more about that here.

Eat Leafy Greens with Citrus because Vitamin C helps your body absorb plant-based iron. For example - squeeze lemon on your spinach.

Eat Oatmeal with Vitamin C because the combination of the phenols in both foods stabilizes LDL cholesterol. For example - squeeze an orange into your oatmeal.

Other Food Combination Rules:

These are based on Dr. Ann Wigmore's program.

1 - Eating one food per sitting is always best.
2 - Melons should always be eaten alone.
3 - There are three kinds of fruits - acid, subacid and sweet. Never eat acidic (orange, grapefruit, pomegranate, strawberry, pineapple, tangerine, lemon, lime, and kiwi) and sweet (banana, dates, raisins, papaya, fresh fig, grapes, persimmon and other dried fruits) together.
4 - Don't mix fruits and veggies, except for tomatoes.
5 - Don't mix starches and proteins, because starches create alkali in the stomach, while proteins create acid - they neutralize one another and make digestion difficult.
6 - Don't drink while eating because it dilutes your stomach acid and enzymes, making it harder to digest food.
7 - Eat raw foods before cooked.
8 - Only eat one type of protein per meal.
9 - Don't eat milk with meat.
10 - Don't drink wine with ale or beer.

Some of these things seem like common sense, but others go against everything our society teaches about healthy eating. We have always been told that you should eat a well-balanced meal, complete with protein, carbs, fruits, veggies and a large glass of water to keep you from overeating. This research by Dr. Wigmore shows that doing so causes serious digestive problems, which may be the reason that the average American walks around with nearly 5 pounds of undigested, rotting meat in their system.

We hear a lot about how eating small meals, or grazing, throughout the day is a great way to keep your metabolism burning, but it may also be a good way to follow these food combination rules. Eating one item at each sitting, several times throughout the day, may be the best way to keep your digestive system healthy.

I realize that there are a lot of different rules out there and it is really hard to keep them all in mind when you are planning a meal. I think that every little bit helps and if you can remember to do a few of them at a time it is better than not doing any of them at all. Eventually the rules will become easier to follow as you slowly incorporate them into your diet.



"Ann Wigmore and the Hippocrates Health Program." Reasonably, Rationally, and Realistically Raw. Web. 20 Oct. 2009. .

"Healthy Food Combinations." Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Web. 20 Oct. 2009. .

"Healthy Food Combinations: Men's" Men's Health - Men's Guide to Fitness, Health, Weight Loss, Nutrition, Sex, Style and Guy Wisdom. Web. 20 Oct. 2009. .

"Vitamin C May Boost Absorption of Green Tea's Antioxidants." Alternative Medicine - Everything You Need to Know About Alternative Medicine. Web. 20 Oct. 2009. .