Saturday, June 26, 2010

Links of the Week

I have a habit of saving interesting links I find in my favorites with the intention of sharing the information here at some point, but what ends up happening is that the links begin to pile up and then I do a mass delete before I get the chance to use them.

What I'd like to start doing is sharing any interesting health-related links that I come across once a week here for you guys.  These are from the last several months, so forgive me if you've already read a lot of these.

PARENTS OF SMALL CHILDREN - PLEASE READ THIS ONE: Lead Found in Children’s Foods and Baby Foods from the Environmental Law Foundation - June 10, 2010 and the list of tainted and safe products.

Food Cravings: What They Really Mean from Naturopathyworks

The Toxic Truth Of Sunscreen (check out the photo slide show) from the Huffington Post - May 27, 2010

What Happens To Your Body Within An Hour Of Drinking A Coke from the Nutrition Research Center

Thursday, June 24, 2010

If you want to get sick and gain weight...

...follow the 2010 USDA Food Pyramid Guidelines.

Here is a great article about the proposed changes, written by Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Some highlights of the article (emphasis mine):
“Basic biochemistry shows that the human body has a very high requirement for saturated fats in all cell membranes; if we do not eat saturated fats, the body will simply make them from carbohydrates, but excess carbohydrate increases blood levels of triglyceride and small, dense LDL, and compromises blood vessel function,” says Fallon Morell. “Moreover, high-carbohydrate diets do not satisfy the appetite as well as diets rich in traditional fats, leading to higher caloric intakes and often to bingeing and splurging on empty foods, resulting in rapid weight gain and chronic disease.”

The proposed guidelines will perpetuate existing nutrient deficiencies present in all American population groups, including deficiencies in vitamins A and D found in animal fats, vitamins B12 and B6 found in animal foods, as well as minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which require vitamins A and D for assimilation. Moreover, low intakes of vitamin K2, are associated with increased risk of heart disease and cancer. The main sources of vitamin K2 available to Americans are egg yolks and full-fat cheese. Incredibly, the Guidelines single out cheese as an unhealthy food!

The Guidelines lump trans fats together with saturated fats—calling them Solid Fats—thereby hiding the difference between unhealthy industrial trans fats and healthy traditional saturated fats. Trans fats contribute to inflammation, depress the immune system, interfere with hormone production, and set up pathological conditions leading to cancer and heart disease, whereas saturated fats fight inflammation, support the immune system, support hormone production and protect against cancer and heart disease.
Her version of the food pyramid looks like this:
Every day, eat high quality, whole foods to provide an abundance of nutrients, chosen from each of the following four groups:

1.Animal foods: meat and organ meats, poultry, and eggs from pastured animals; fish and shellfish; whole raw cheese, milk and other dairy products from pastured animals; and broth made from animal bones.

2.Grains, legumes and nuts: whole-grain baked goods, breakfast porridges, whole grain rice; beans and lentils; peanuts, cashews and nuts, properly prepared to improve digestibility.

3.Fruits and Vegetables: preferably fresh or frozen, preferably locally grown, either raw, cooked or in soups and stews, and also as lacto-fermented condiments.

4.Fats and Oils: unrefined saturated and monounsaturated fats including butter, lard, tallow and other animal fats; palm oil and coconut oil; olive oil; cod liver oil for vitamins A and D.
Here is another interesting article about the new guidelines, written by Robert K. Su, MD, which also supports the idea that a diet high in carbohydrates is a recipe for disease and obesity, and that a diet rich in whole foods and animal fat is much healthier.

I went to and took their MyPyramid Plan (2005 Guidelines) and for a woman my age and size, and with my activity level, they are recommending the following food plan:

  • 7 ounces of grains
  • 3 cups vegetables
  • 2 cups fruit
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 ounces meat and beans
I should also aim for this each week:
  • 3 cups dark green veggies (are they joking??)
  • 2 cups orange veggies
  • 3 cups dry beans and peas
  • 6 cups starchy veggies
  • 7 cups other veggies
And only 6 teaspoons of oil per day. 

Yikes!  If I ate like that I can't even imagine how horrible I would feel.  My day looked like this today:
  • Breakfast:  2 pastured eggs fried in butter, 1/2 cup soaked oatmeal with raw milk and honey, and some blueberries
  • Snack:  apple
  • Lunch:  pastured round steak (fried in olive oil and then baked in tomato/basil sauce), quinoa noodles (in the same tomato sauce) and salad with olive oil dressing
  • Snack:  homemade whole wheat pretzels (made with coconut oil)
  • Dinner: pastured beef liver (fried in nitrate-free bacon grease - I was a bad girl), peas, rhubarb, and watermelon
  • Drinks throughout the day: tea, raw milk and water
I'm not going to add up the amount of fat that I ate, because as you can see, it's a lot.  But, I am a mother providing breast milk for two toddlers, who is of childbearing age, and I need healthy fat to support healthy babies.  None of the fat I eat is hydrogenated or unhealthy, and I eat whatever I want without any fear of gaining weight.  I also have a BMI of 19 (in March at least) and I haven't been sick in ages.

The government would like people to think that eating a diet like my family's will make us obese, with heart disease.

For Gabe and David, young boys with brains and bodies still developing, they recommend the following diet:
  • 3 ounces grains
  • 1 cup vegetables
  • 1 cup fruit
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 ounces meat and beans
  • only 3 teaspoons of oil per day
I don't even know what to say.  In my opinion, children this age need higher amounts of fat in order to develop properly.  I can't imagine feeding this to my kids each day.  That is the amount of fruits and veggies they usually get per meal.

With a healthcare crisis in our country, I cannot believe that our government could be so blind to common sense nutrition. 

Here is how we can stay healthy - Eat whole foods.  Eat food that God put on this earth for us to consume, not things created by man in a laboratory somewhere.  Cook our food at home.  Eat organic.  Avoid processed carbohydrates and sugar.

It's really pretty simple.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Homemade Soft Tacos

We love Mexican food in our house.  But most of the ingredients you find in the grocery store are full of artificial preservatives and other additives. 

For example, an Old El Paso flour burrito contains the following ingredients:  Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid) Water, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Soybean, Cottonseed) With Mono- and Diglycerides, Glycerin, Corn Syrup Solids, Salt, Baking Powder (Baking Soda, Corn Starch, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Calcium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Potassium Sorbate and Calcium Propionate (Preservatives), Monoglycerides, Fumaric Acid, L-cysteine Hydrochloride.


What if you go to Taco Bell?  Their flour tortillas contain the following ingredients:  Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Contains One Or More Of The Following: Cottonseed Oil, Soybean Oil), with Mono- and Diglycerides, Sugar, Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Salt, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Fumaric Acid, Calcium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (used as preservatives), Dough Conditioners (DATEM, Mono and Diglycerides, Enzymes).

All of that for a tortilla??

Then there are the taco seasonings and sauces.  Old El Paso Taco Seasoning contains: Maltodextrin, Salt, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Spice, Monosodium Glutamate, Modified Corn Starch, Yellow Corn Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil With Bht Added to Protect Flavor, Silicon Dioxide Added As Anti-caking Agent, Natural Flavor. 

Nothing like a healthy dose of MSG and trans fat for dinner!

Tacos are really easy to make on your own and can be really nutritious.  Here is how our family likes to eat them.

Organic Whole Wheat Flour

Add water to the flour until you reach a dough-like texture.  You don't want it sticky.  Roll dough onto a flour surface into desired shape.

Cook on the stove on medium-to-high heat approximately 3 minutes on each side.

Some recipes call for baking powder, but I have made them both ways and don't see any difference when I use it.  If you're going to use baking powder, make sure it's non-GMO and aluminum-free.

Taco Seasoning
Garlic Salt
Minced Onion

Mix together for desired taste.  I use A LOT of paprika.  If you like it a little spicier, add some crushed red pepper to the mix. 

Pastured ground meat of any kind.  We used ground turkey tonight, but prefer beef.  Brown it and then sprinkle with your taco seasoning.  Add about 1/2 cup water and a tablespoon of raw honey to the bottom of the pan and let it all simmer for a few minutes.

Add whatever raw, chopped veggies you have in the fridge.  We like to use carrots, celery, tomatoes, and greens and stir them directly into the meat mixture.

Tonight's other toppings were raw milk cheddar cheese, sour cream and salsa.

It's a quick, easy dinner that you can get your kids to eat, even when it's full of healthy vegetables.



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Plastic-Free Life

I've been slowly trying to reduce the amount of plastic in our home over the past few years. It all began during the great BPA (Bisphenol A) scare of 2008, when I decided to replace all of my plastic bottles with glass ones and started storing my food in glass instead of Tupperware.

Lately I have been inspired by several other bloggers to make more drastic changes to our lifestyle. Blessed at O Blessed Day linked to an interesting documentary called Addicted to Plastic, which pretty much sealed the deal for me. I had heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but after seeing pictures of the wildlife affected by our plastic pollution and hearing more about the health effects of these plastics to human beings, I'd had enough.

Just yesterday I came across another wonderful blog, Fake Plastic Fish, that gives many helpful tips for decreasing your dependance on plastic. Because that is the hardest part about all of this - our society is dependent on it. Plastic has revolutionized the ways in which we prepare and store our food, dress ourselves, drive our cars, clean up - every aspect of our lives involves plastics in some form. Thinking about trying to live plastic-free is depressing and overwhelming, because you realize just how impossible it is to do.

With that said, my goal is not to live completely plastic-free, because I know that there is value to it in some parts of my life. I can't imagine a hospital stay without the use of plastics. My goal, however, is to limit my amount of waste from "unneccessary" plastics.

What is the impact of plastic on our health?

Let's start with the manufacturing process, which pollutes the environment with toxic chemicals. Fossil fuels are used to make plastic, and we are all aware of the price our environment is paying for our addiction to fossil fuels. All we have to do is take a look at what is happening in the Gulf Coast right now.

And there is the disposal of these products. Recycling plastics is difficult, because one plastic bottle often contains many different types. When it isn't cost effective, those items are thrown into landfills. In 2007, only 6.8% of total plastics were recycled.

The average American produces about 63 pounds of plastic packaging per year, making it 16% of the solid waste in this country. These items take centuries to biodegrade and are filling our landfills at an unsustainable rate.

Littering is also a problem. 60-80% of the litter comes from plastic, which is then consumed by wildlife. This is the wildlife we often eat. Those polyethylene microbeads in our cosmetics are plastic and they are washed away into our waste water, eventually finding their way into our rivers, streams, and oceans. Fish consume the polluted water and then traces of plastic end up on our table when we want seafood.

Just being around it can be toxic to our systems. If we can smell it, we are breathing it in. It we can taste it, we are ingesting it. Heating our foods in plastic and even storing it there in many cases, causes it to leach into the food we eat.

Scientists now believe that plastics, like Bisphenol A, can disrupt our hormone levels.

When there is all of this evidence against it's use, why would we want to continue to damage our bodies and the earth?

My Plan

I went around my house from room to room and wrote down everything I use on a daily basis that contains plastic. I'm sure I forgot many things as I did this exercise, but most of the obvious ones were found. From there I made a list of items that are plastic and need to be changed, items that I have changed already, and an action plan.

I only included disposable items at this point. I realize that most of the furniture and electronics in our home contain some type of plastic, but I am not concerned with them for this exercise.



Hair brush
Hair pins
Contact solution
Contact case
Toilet paper (for husband)
Shampoo (for husband)
Children's bath soap

Changes Already Made

Bar soap
Baking soda (instead of children's toothpaste)
No make-up
No shaving cream
Family cloth
No Hair-care products
Mama cloth
No shampoo
No deodorant
Cloth shower curtain

Action Plan

1 - The easiest and most obvious change I would like to make is to stop wearing my contact lenses. I have been wanting to stop using them for quite a while, because I don't like rubbing chemicals into my eyeball, but I haven't taken the plunge yet.

2 - I would like to stop using the children's bath soap and have them use my bar soap instead.

3 - A better option for disposable razors and toothbrushes. Possibly reusable bases with only disposable heads?

4 - Homemade lotion



Diaper cream
Swim Diapers

Changes Already Made

Cloth Diapers
Cloth Wipes
Cloth Training Pants
Re-Usable Diaper Pail Liner

Action Plan

1 - Diaper Cream Alternative

2 - Reusable Swim Diaper

3 - No more plastic toys unless they are bought second-hand.



Dish Soap
Dishwasher Soap
Dish Scrubbers
Diaper Detergent
Vacuum Bags
Trash Bags

Changes Already Made

Baking Soda
No cleaners
Homemade laundry detergent (all ingredients come without plastic packaging)
No paper towels
No paper napkins

Action Plan

1 - I have had bad luck finding a homemade detergent that works on my cloth diapers. I will continue to experiment.

2 - I read that baking soda works well as a dish detergent, so I will try that. I have yet to find a homemade recipe that works well in the dishwasher.

3 - Switch to vinegar that comes in glass bottles that can be reused and recycled.

4 - No more plastic dish scrubbers. Use rags.

5 - Look into alternatives for trash bags.



All clothing items containing synthetic materials
Socks/undies that come in plastic packaging
Plastic Hangers

Changes Already Made

All second-hand clothing for me and the boys
No jewelry containing plastic

Action Plan

1 - No more buying new items made from synthetic materials, especially pantyhose. I can only buy these items second-hand.

2 - No more plastic hangers.

3 - Look into more environmentally-friendly shoe options.



Sandwich Bags
Medicine Bottles
Produce Bags
Beverage bottles
Bread Bags
Frozen vegetables
Bulk Food Packaging
Sippy Cups
Bottle nipples
Breast Pump Parts
Children's utensils

Changes Already Made

Cloth Grocery Shopping Bags
Milk (comes in glass container from local farm)
Glass baby bottles
Meat (packaged at butcher in paper)
Eggs (come from farmer in cardboard)
More homemade foods
Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System
Reusable Glass Water Bottles

Action Plan

1 - Limit the number of foods on the list that are packaged in plastic.

2 - Start making my own condiments from fresh ingredients that are not packaged in plastic.

3 - Make reusable sandwich bags

4 - Purchase glass straws

5 - Next time we need new sippy cups, buy a glass or stainless steel alternative.

6 - No more plastic produce bags at the grocery store. Bring my own or go without them.

7 - Go to a different bulk food store where the food is not already packaged in plastic.

Purse/Junk Drawer


Bank Card

Changes Already Made

No credit cards

Action Plan

1 - No more pens. Pencils instead.

2 - Rechargeable batteries.

3 - Paper tape.

4 - Matches instead of lighters.

5 - No more stickers for the boys. We can draw on the chore charts instead.



Video Games
Photo Prints
Home decor

Changes Already Made

We have been buying a lot of items second-hand, but when we do this it is usually online. The shipping process creates more plastic waste.

Action Plan

1 - Use the library more for books, movies, and music.

2 - No more photo prints to be put in albums. We can save them to disk and print only what we want to frame.

Health/Cost Benefits

Many of these items will cost a lot upfront, like the glass straws, swim diapers, and rechargeable batteries, but in the long run they will save me money. The savings will be significant if I no longer have to buy sandwich bags, trash bags, disposable swim diapers, dish detergent, contacts, etc.

Not buying and eating the processed and packaged foods is better for my health. By buying my ingredients in bulk, storing them in glass, and making all of my food from scratch, I will be heathier and have more money to spend on more important things. Extra money means less stress, which is always good for your health :)

Limiting plastics is going to be a lifestyle change, which is close to where we have been headed on our journey, but just gets us there a little faster. One day, when we eventually build our home, we have decided to do it out of recycled building materials and with as little plastic as possible. 

As sad as it is, our community does not have a recycling program.  In order to recycle you have to drive all of your waste downtown and unload it yourself.  Adam and I did this for a long time, but stopped when David was born.  We are now working to pick this practice back up, and are looking at purchasing a pick-up truck, organizing collection in our neighborhood and driving everyone's stuff there ourselves on Saturdays.  We are just waiting for the Lord to provide us with the funds to purchase the truck, if that is what He wants us to do.

This decision means no more convenient, single-serve items.  There will be no more impulse buying.  It will require more work and more planning on our part, but I feel that our family's health and our responsibility to the planet and God are what is most important!

Join me!