Thursday, October 29, 2009

Botany of Desire Video

This was on PBS last night. Just incredible, even if you've read the book, the video is a wonderful reminder and offers some additional information. It's amazing how much of our world's is shaped by McDonalds. Big companies are controlling our food and we are allowing them to do that because we think it betters our life, offers cheaper food but that's all it is, cheap and it's impact, our impact with that decision, on our environment and our future is real. It's time we make real decisions with more information. GMO potatoes were out in 1996 until 2001 and we didn't even know it! Gosh, it's amazing to me that fast food places like McDonalds even still exist but that's a rant for another day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bite on This - more Grocery Store Secrets

We all know chlorine is a poison, it's toxic and has been linked to infertility and disease. Sadly it's everywhere, in our drinking water, bleaching our paper towels and toilet paper, in pools, in PVC plastics, in pesticides, so we do our best to avoid it by getting unbleached products and filtering our water (even the showers!) and just when we thought we were safe, we find out that chlorine is routinely used to keep our healthy produce "fresh" by, and I quote the MMS Newsletter:
"In the grocery store, glistening carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. all glisten and look fresh primarily because five days ago they were picked, washed, then passed under a cloud of ClO2 gas that destroyed bacteria and disease-germs that ordinarily cause food to quickly spoil.

Some transportation trucks carrying produce (sometimes on two-day trips) can blow some ClO2 into the enclosed truck before closing the rear doors. The spoiling of food begins from invisible surface contaminants. ClO2 eradicates such bacteria."
And I learned this first hand before searching for it on the web to confirm. A truck driver was explaining how when transporting strawberries, chlorine vapor kept his strawberries from molding and therefore looking pretty and lasting longer.

Of course we already knew conventional strawberries have some of the worst pesticides and poisons sprayed on them to keep the pests away (makes sense, they are sweet and delicious, what little critter wouldn't want to take a bite of that?!) and not only are those chemicals driven into the plant itself, but since they are hard to wash, they cannot be removed from the outside either. And now we learn about this little trick of chlorine gas to keep them looking freshly picked. Ahh, things are not always as they appear.

While searching for this I also learned that all those convenient freshly cut fruits and vegetables we see in the produce counter are most probably dipped in a chlorine solution before cutting and again after cutting before being packaged and placed on the store shelf for our purchase so that they stay fresher longer.

Double-dipped chlorine strawberries gassed with chlorine in transit and a side of extra harmful pesticides from the farm, anyone? Yup, sounds fresh to me! Yet another reason to go organic.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weight Loss, Exercise, Food

We've been busy, school starting, planning school lunches and missing our normal giant lunch that I'd make for the family, the buying club, well, life, you know how it goes. But we've also been busy losing weight, without trying, just from our more refined eating. So it's interesting today reading the article in Time since our exercise level has not changed. They explain that the BMI is important, not necessarily exercise level and that exercise does not mean healthier or that we'll lose weight.

There have also been articles in how organics, less chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, on our food allow our liver to use the fat instead of cleansing our bodies like mad; eating organic food allows our body to function optimally and do what it's suppose to do for us and therefore helps us lose weight too.

There are have also been recent articles on the "optimal" diet for a human being like this one from MSN The Healthiest Foods On Earth. Turns out the best diet is, drum roll, is real food!

Simplistic? It all makes sense and now we understand why we are losing weight and feeling better. In our family, we eat what we want but we only eat real food. If it comes in a box with a list of ingredients, it's not in our house. Our meals always include vegetables, even breakfast. Fruit is a standard snack. Meals always include plenty of vegetables and we try to eat salad every day topped with all sorts of things from fresh and dried fruit, to olives and cheese, or canned fish and meats. Meals are always delicious, colorful, and varied. Soups and stir-fries are standard but with different mixes of vegetables and/or meats.

Even school lunches, while they may include sandwiches (usually on sprouted wheat or rice or spelt bread), they always include at least 2 fresh fruits (an apple, strawberries, a pear or plum) and maybe a dried fruit or nuts (raisins, trail mix, dried mango) and sometimes a cookie I make with molasses and maple syrup - so they have a big variety and lots of different textures and colors and nice things to keep them occupied but nothing that comes in a box with a nutritional label on it.

I know we are lucky. We don't even want the stuff they label as food, even my kids. But I know there are so many out there that don't even know where to start. So many don't even know what food would be, how to prepare it, what to eat if you cut out something that comes from a box. I know for those, it's a struggle at first and I wish you great success in learning about food and know that you will learn about yourself and life in the process.

We eat well. I still make meals at home from real foods (grassfed meats and dairy including butter and free roaming preferably pastured eggs, coconut and olive oil, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, wild fish) and we feel good. The way our clothes fit show the improvement yet, and I'm embarrassed to say, my real exercise is my fingertips on the key board. I'd still love to have more muscle definition and lift weights but I guess I don't want it badly enough or I would have started already. Either way I'm feeling good about my family and our level of health.

Food is so important. It is what nourishes our body and our soul. It is amazing that we so freely gave up the thing that sustains us as beings and attaches us to the world to big agri-biz. They do not have our health as their goal, even when the label shouts out some bold benefit. Understandably, their focus is their bottom line, not ours. If we choose real foods, those without a long list of ingredients, if we choose to get back in the kitchen, if we choose to cook and eat with friends and to prepare meals together, then we will have succeeded in finding real food and taking back our life amongst the chaos of what they tell us is food.

What we eat is such a big choice we make each day. We set an example for children in how and what we eat. We impact the planet in the choices we make in our food: from the packaging, the fuel used to transport it, the chemicals used to create it, the family farms we are supporting in other countries, the small communities that need our support despite that item being a bit more money than another made from the giant factory farm. We need to take responsibility for that act instead of food being a last thought when we are just starving.

I still sit in disbelief that fast food chains exist. Certainly I understand the convenience and the price, but what is the real cost? I guess if it were a more immediate and direct link, it would be easier to give it up, but it's not. Many still do not correlate the disease, our societal obesity, our lack of health with the fast food chains, with the fact that there are only a handful of the same big food distributors that service all the restaurants, with the sad truth that we have freely offered up our food choices so that we can run in and grab something because we think that adds to our life.

To me food is life. Food creates memories. Food joins the family and can even bring peace. We really are what we eat and what we choose to eat impacts our world and our future.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Breastfeeding: the best foundation for health


World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7

so I'm resurrecting and adding to an older post.

Breastfeeding is good for mama, good for baby, good for our earth, good for our future. Simply, it is the best, most sustainable, greenest and by far healthiest food to feed our babies.

picture courtesy the Ecologist, Suck on This

Breast is Best:
  • it provides security and can help calm a fussy baby more quickly than a bottle (also helps calm a busy mommy!)
  • it offers powerful DHA for brain development; (it's important that YOU get your DHA and Omega 3s to pass on to the baby - eat eggs from pastured hens fed flax and other things to make high omega eggs and eat safe wild Alaskan salmon)
  • breastfed babies are smarter and have greater academic achievement according to New Zealand researchers
  • it promotes bonding between mom and baby
  • it promotes healthy jaw and mouth muscle development (the baby must use 20 to 60 times more muscular effort to get the milk from breast!) This creates stronger muscles and jaws and promotes a healthy formation of their mouth and head. This in turn lowers the risk for braces, promotes proper breathing, correct speech development, healthy teeth, nose breathing over mouth breathing, and better hand-eye coordination!
  • can correct cranial strains from birth
  • it forces even the most powerful type A personality of moms to rest
  • it offers special immunities that last a lifetime for baby
  • lowers risk of colic since it takes longer to drink, unlike the bottle where the milk just pours right in with little sucking
  • breastfeeding helps the mommy (shrinks uterus faster, lowers risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers, helps us lose weight, lowers risk of osteoporosis, protects us against anemia, and is an amazingly empowering experience to know that it is YOU and only you (for the first 6+ months at least) that is keeping that baby happy and fed properly)
  • for every year a mama breastfeeds, she reduces her own risk of developing breast cancer by 4.3%, reduces her risk of ovarian cancer by 24%, reduces her risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by 15%
  • breastfeeding also helps the child later in life (less risk of obesity, higher IQ, less chance of ear infections and other sickness; it lowers risk of diabetes, food allergies, SIDs, childhood cancers, vision problems, and even cavities)
  • breastfeeding lowers cardiovascular risk later in adult life and lowers chances of a stroke in adult life
  • breastfeeding regularly tends to delay ovulation allowing for natural spacing of children in a family - this does not always happen for all mamas for the same length of time, but most of us happily avoided periods and ovulation for years!
  • poopies of breastfed infants are sweet and quite smelly of formula-fed babies (output is based upon input)
  • breastfed babies have the most delicious soft skin ever! That is really true - take the test and feel the leg of a breastfed baby versus a formula fed baby. Breastfed babies are much softer because their fat is distributed better throughout their body
  • breastfed babies smell sweeter; take a whiff. You'll know a breastfed baby.
It's great that formula exists for moms unable to nurse their own babies or babies who are not able to breastfeed. But let's call it like it is, breastfeeding should always be our first choice.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Vegetarian Bolognese & Kids ate it up!

So the other night I was at a loss for what to make. We got lots of zucchini from our share in the buying club and we had tons of other veggies from past shares that I needed to use up. I had to come up with some dish that the kids would eat. I decided on a Vegetarian Bolognese (no meat since I didn't have any) and it was a hit so I'm sharing it here (so that I remember how to make it again) and so that it might inspire you to try something like it on your family.
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced (I happen to have it and love the flavor but you can certainly do w/o)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • olive oil, a couple tablespoons
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 big zucchini or 2 smaller ones
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of grass-fed cream OR about 1/2 cup grass-fed milk and a roux
  • handful of grated Parmesan
  • 1 pkg pasta - we like brown rice pasta by Tinkyada
Cook pasta according to directions.

Saute onion, leek, and garlic in olive oil until the onions and leek begin to brown and caramelize. Add chopped carrots and celery and saute several more minutes until the carrots are just about tender. Add zucchini and saute until caramelized and season with sea salt and some black pepper.

Here is where I would have just added cream and let it bubble a little (if I had some white wine I probably would have added that first and let it evaporate down and deglaze the pan and then added the dairy but I didn't have either so had to make a thicker sauce with milk and a roux) so I added about 2 tablespoons of flour to the pan coating the veggies to make a roux and sauted a minute. Then I added the milk and brought it to a simmer to thicken.

Blend the whole thing to a thick creamy sauce. I used a hand-held but you could move to a blender to make a smooth sauce. Add more milk to thin it out if necessary.

Toss with pasta, top with grated parmesan and serve. They even thought meat was in it, it was so hearty.

Even Better the Next Day:
The next day for lunch I added 1 egg mixed with 1/4 cup of grass-fed milk and mixed it all together with the pasta tossed in the sauce. I put it in a casserole dish and baked it 375F until the top was crunchy, then topped it with some cheese that melted over it as it was still warm. They loved this version even more and the flavors of the sauce were even better the next day. They asked me to make it again!

Please note:
My kids, three out of four, do eat vegetables. They are bombarded by fruits and vegetables all the time seeing me and my husband eat them, and they always have a selection for snacks (washed fruits and sometimes some veggies are on the table around snack time) and during meals. But, for some reason, even the vegetable-eaters don't seem to be too fond of zucchini. It's one of my favorites so I'm not sure why, so yes, as I was making it, I got a lot of "eww, zucchini, I don't like zucchini" and "that has a lot of vegetables, what are WE going to eat?" and "I'm not eating all those vegetables and I hate zucchini" but once it was blended they didn't know (until I told them) and they ate it up and LOVED it!

Hope your family does too! My kids ate it too fast for me to snap a pic so I'll make this again soon and post it. My non-vegetable eater (well, he eats some if I insist and wait for an hour, which I do) declared it was the best he's ever tasted!

This is part of Kitchen Stewardship Make it from Scratch blog carnival

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Food, Inc. - the truth about what we eat and where it comes from

Read it. See it. Change your life and the lives of your loved ones. Make a difference in your health and the health of the planet. And our future. We CAN do it and most certainly we must make informed choices.

Grocery stores are such an illusion. The waste in packaging, transporting products, the ingredients (and the real ingredient behind what is mysteriously listed on the label), shelf space and electricity, dated items going to the garbage (that's mostly produce since the other stuff has a life span to practically last into our child's adulthood), how the animals we consume are treated (you are what you eat!), hormones shot into our animals and getting into our dairy and meats, genetic modifications to the dna of the foods, the colors and additives and smells added that now seem normal to us, it's all a strange place with food-like substances. Choose FOOD. Learn how to prepare and enjoy it. We can make a difference in what's offered to nourish us.

Highly recommend:

Check out the books below too - really good ones - we are each making a decision, we are casting a vote for our lives and our food every time we put something in our mouth, every time we buy something. If you choose to skip this movie and books, you are still voting for status quo - learn what that is and how THEY are playing you. Make the decision. Make it consciously.

This is part of Real Food Wednesdays:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's not just what you eat - it's what you cook it in

We usually get our pots & pans based upon sales or what our mom used for our childhood meals. We don't much think about it again but as we get healthier in what we eat, we start to also look at the tools we use to prepare our healthful meals.

Most cookware on the market is coated with Teflon to make the fat-free cooks happy. Teflon and Silverstone coating is convenient for sticky food and things like eggs, but there are real dangers when not used properly:
  • Never use it on high heat - only put it on a medium to medium low heat.
  • Never heat it dry - always have something in it before heating, like oil or butter.
  • Never use it once scratched - if you scratch it discard it because those chemicals will get into your foods.
When heated dry, particles become airborne and embed in your lungs. The fumes are lethal to birds. And let's face it, they scratch easily and are therefore not an economical or environmentally sound way to cook meals.

Aluminum is also popular since it is a great conductor of heat and is cheap. Most restaurants use aluminum cookware to prepare food but aluminum is a poison and leaches into our foods (and you'd better believe those aluminum pans used in restaurants are all scratched up so pieces of aluminum are surely in the foods prepared for our enjoyment - which is another reason we tend to not eat out.) Anodized Aluminum does effectively seal the chemicals but harsh chemicals are used to create the anodized aluminum. In addition, it can scratch easily and then you get the aluminum and the black specs (toxic chemicals) into your foods. And it is definitely not dishwasher friendly.

Stainless is the most economical choice but is not a good conductor so is always plied with other metals. You can easily scratch it and some of the chromium or nickel may leach into the food, but very minute amount. If a magnet sticks to your stainless steel cookware, it has less nickel and is therefore a safer option.

Instead choose cast iron (preferably not pre-seasoned and season it yourself that way you know what kind of oil you are using), enameled cast iron, ceramic, glass, or a safe stainless steel cookware.

My preference is the enameled cast iron. Le Crueset is expensive but you can sometimes find good buys at discount stores like Marshall's and Mercola has his own cookware and great information too.

This is part of today's carnival for:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cholesterol, Eggs, Shell Color, more Egg Facts

We eat eggs. With the six of us, we go through about a dozen a day. We use them for any meal and in many ways. Eggs are an inexpensive yet good source of protein and nutrients and the magical egg - it does amazing things: souffl├ęs, frittatas, sauces, pudding and custards, cheesecake, baked goods, meatloaf, casseroles, soups, stir-fries or all on it's own, truly a versatile food.

The whites and yellows each have their own unique properties. We can whip the whites to add lightness and air to dishes, while the yellows act as an emulsifier and adds creamy richness. The whites contain protein and no fat while yolks contain half of the protein in the egg and all the fat (about 4.5 grams of fat, 1.5 of which is saturated and the rest is polyunsaturated which has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol) as well as most of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The yolks offer all the vitamin A, D, E, and zinc that is in an egg as well as a larger percentage of the phosphorus, manganese, iron, iodine, copper, and calcium than the white. The yolks are also a rich source of Lutein and Zeaxanthin, (carotenoids) essential vitamins with antioxidant value .

Yolk color is determined by what the bird eats. Deep yellow to orange egg yolks are richer in carotenoids.

Contrary to what you may have heard, eggs do not increase bad cholesterol. Nor do they increase the risk of heart disease or stroke, for the average person who is not at high risk. (Hu, F.B., M.J. Stampfer, et al. 1999) (JAMA 281(15):1387-94.) Bad Cholesterol, LDL, is based upon what you eat (saturated fats and transfats) and even what you don't eat (vegetables), than simply your egg intake.

Egg color is simply an aesthetic preference. Birds that lay brown eggs tend to be larger birds with reddish brown feathers and earlobes around their neck. Since they are bigger, they eat more food than their paler cousins and therefore these eggs are a bit more expensive. White egg layers have white feathers on their neck and white earlobes. The breed of the hen determines shell color. Aracona chickens lay a lovely green shaded egg.

Size is actually determined by the age of a hen. The older the hen, the larger the egg. Double yolks come from the same hens making the XL eggs.

Fresh eggs from pastured free roaming hens allowed to eat bugs and raised under organic conditions are best. Fresh eggs are noticeably different. The yellows stand up and are perky. There isn't the air pocket in the shell that forms between the shell and the membrane as it ages. When you put a whole fresh eggs in a glass full of water, it will sink while an older egg will float due to that air pocket. But older eggs aren't all bad. When the whites are more broken down from age they whip up lighter and fluffier making higher souffl├ęs.

Fresh eggs will also have a more noticeable chalaza (the egg white strand that anchors the yolk in place). (The chalaza is indeed supposed to be there and it is not an embryo. It does not need to be removed.)

If your egg white is a bit cloudy, you can be assured of a very fresh egg. The cloudiness is from carbon dioxide found in the young egg that has not had time to escape yet from the shell.

Believe it or not, a bright red blood spot would also indicate a fresh egg. Though very rare nowadays, less than 1% of all eggs have blood spots, they usually occur from a rupture of a blood vessel on the surface of the yolk follicle. The blood spot can be removed for aesthetics; a blood spot does not make the egg inedible.

However, eggs with blood spots are not considered kosher. This is because blood spots can also occur due to fertilization. Of course, most hens are not allowed anywhere near a rooster so fertilization is an impossibility in today's eggs, but religion dictates that we toss the egg with the blood spot. The laws of Kashrut do not dictate white eggs over brown or other color eggs, just that it not be a fertilized egg. Some people believe that there are more blood spots in brown eggs than white eggs because they mistakenly think that a naturally occurring brown marks of coloration in the brown egg are a blood spot. The laws of kashrut are clear that it is the red blood spot that is not allowed for fear of fertilization and that brown spots can be ignored.

Inappropriate temperature and humidity will age an egg. (A week-old egg can actually be fresher than a day-old egg.) In the U.S. eggs are refrigerated but in other parts of the world they are not. They will keep fresh out of the refrigerator if never placed in a refrigerator but once they are refrigerated, they must always be refrigerated to maintain freshness.

Conventional eggs are from hens living in very cramped quarters where their beaks are clipped so they don't peck at themselves or their sisters who are literally stacked on top of one another. They are fed genetically modified and pesticide-doused corn and soy and sometimes their own brothers ground in the feed. They live stressful lives in a toxic environment - that is carried through in the eggs they produce. Just remember, you are what you eat.

Choose organic free range eggs. Yes, they are more money, they need more room but organic eggs are more nutritious so you get more bang for your buck. Organic eggs are from hens given no hormones or antibiotics and fed only organically certified feed grown without pesticides, insecticides or herbicides. They are free roaming and must have access to fresh air. They are healthy eggs and all in all, we're not talking $10 for a dozen eggs, it's still pennies an egg, maybe dimes, but seriously, is that the quibble here? Cheap eggs to poison our world, our animals, and our bodies or healthy eggs to make us strong that cost less than .40 each as an inexpensive source of nutrition.

This post is part of the No GMO Challenge - JOIN US!


Sunday, May 24, 2009


Breakfasts are a big deal around here. We never have cereal, well, occasionally a warm bowl of oatmeal, or muesli or granola over yogurt. But normally it's eggs (organic and free range, and preferably pastured) every which way and sometimes pancakes or muffins and normally a smoothie and yes, a salad.

This morning it was a plain ricotta & sour cream frittata. I usually use the frittata as a conduit to adding veggies, left overs and fresh, but today we did the salad on the side. The sour cream added a creaminess and ricotta just lightens up a frittata beautifully so I try to keep some grass-fed ricotta stashed in the fridge.
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 package ricotta
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
that was it - simple, easy and really tasty. Mix it all together. Heat butter slowly on medium stove. Pour into a pan warmed on the stove once the butter bubbles a bit. Transfer to a preheated oven at 375F for about 30 minutes until it's puffy and golden.

It will fall so make sure to present right out of the oven so you get the ooohs and aaahhhs.

We served it with some greens and a salad of tomatoes, avocados, parsley, sea salt, and a squeeze of lemon.

We usually nosh on the frittata throughout the morning since it can be eaten warm or at room temp.

I had lots of yogurt I needed to use so I made a quick easy smoothie:
  • 1/2 bag of frozen strawberries
  • 32oz container plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of honey or agave
  • 1 ripe banana
Blend, serve, enjoy.

I add chia seeds to morning smoothies. Chia seeds are high in omega 3s and fiber, very important for good health. I add them every morning to the kid's smoothies. They come whole or ground. I use the ground in the smoothies because the kids don't like the texture of the whole in a drink. They get jelly-like when combined with liquid so you can actually store it in the fridge in water (9 cups water to 1 cup chia seeds) and use that slurry for baking and smoothies. You can easily add chia seeds or the gelatanous liquid mixed with chias to smoothies, yogurt, baked goods, and cereal or granola.

Since I had a lot of yogurt on hand and since the kids asked for muffins, I decided to try some banana yogurt muffins.
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup succanat
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, cut into chunks

Mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients on top and mix. Add chopped bananas and mix gently. Spoon into well buttered tins (the bananas will get sticky!) and cook for 30 minutes until they are done in the center.

The bananas get ooey gooey and fall to the middle and bottom so I served them upside down. I bet it would have been prettier with some powdered sugar on top. Everyone loved them.

All in all our breakfast doesn't take that long to make but we do sit around the table together and gab and take our time enjoying it. It's a whole lot better than something out of a cardboard box and I know they are full of stuff that will keep them going strong all morning. A good breakfast is the best start to a productive day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Alphabet Soup: PLU

How to tell what you're eating - what do those numbers mean?

Tags (PLU "Price Look Up" code sticker) on fruits and vegetables can help you identify organic, conventional and even genetically modified produce.

  • ORGANIC produce stickers start with a 9 and have 5 numbers
  • Conventional ones have 4 numbers
  • GM (Genetically Modified) produce have 5 numbers like organic produce but start with the number 8 so be particularly cautious of those fruits and vegetables
Choose 9 for peace of mind -

I am a Food RENEGADE!This is part of Food Renegade's FIGHT BACK FRIDAYS where people who are fighting back against the dominate food culture blog about our adventures in real food including:
  • updates & stories about our Real Food journey,
  • tips,
  • recipes,
  • anything we think others might find useful, helpful, encouraging, or inspiring.

Why Choose Organic?

There is no more important single thing we can do to have a bigger impact on helping the planet and our bodies than choosing real organic foods.

Organic foods are produced without the use of chemicals, herbicides, fungicides, petroleum-, sewage- or sludge-based fertilizers or chemical pesticides. Organic food is not bio-engineered, genetically modified, nor is it irradiated. Poultry and Beef are fed only organic feed, are grazed on organically maintained pastures, and are not given antibiotics, hormones or animal by-products.

Until WWII, organic was the "conventional" practice as it was the most common way to farm. The use of synthetic chemicals and toxins won the battle away from home and were now touted to improve our lives here too. With this fanfare, it was well received and pushed through quickly. At that time, shocking to us now to think, but chemical poisons were even sprayed directly onto children to kill off bacteria! And some of us still remember walking behind the trucks spraying chemicals to kill off mosquitoes and other bugs around the neighborhood because it was so cool to see that puff of smoke come out. Conventional, the norm, changed to today's standard of using these chemicals readily.

Conventional farmers use millions of pounds of pesticides each year, much of which ends up in our drinking water and oceans. Pesticides and chemicals kill off living things - bugs and animals that may eat the food as well as parasites and microorganisms. Pesticides deplete the soil so more chemicals are needed to fertilize enabling the cycle to continue.

Pesticides are poisons. Most have the potential of causing cancer and are endocrine disrupters that mimic or interfere with our hormones. Pesticides cannot always be washed off the food, even with soap, as they are "ingested" in the plant through the roots and are actually in the body of the food.

Pesticides have a well documented and serious impact on our health. Among the many adverse effects, pesticides:
  • compromise our liver's job of cleaning toxins from our body
  • compromise each cell's ability to produce energy and do their respective jobs in our body
  • compromise our nerves and their job of sending important messages in our body
In short, pesticides cause disease and death. That's their goal, to kill off the bugs and pests. But they are having serious impacts on the lives of humans and especially on our future, our very own children. This is particularly important in the amounts and combinations of these pesticides. Since most children are picky eaters, they will eat more of one thing meaning more of certain chemicals. The long-term effect of these pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemicals, and the effect of the 'cocktail' of pesticide combinations on growing children has not been completely studied but it's clearly impacting fertility, development, health, and longevity. Pesticides can cause birth defects, cancer, nerve damage, impact our immune system, and disrupt our hormonal balance.

More recent news suggests that conventional foods may help us keep unwanted weight on our bodies. We all know the liver's function is to clear our bodies of toxins. The latest research indicates that the toxic buildup burdens the liver's function to such an extent that it cannot do it's other important jobs - burn body fat! An impaired liver can therefore cause weight gain.

Organic farmers are leaders and innovators at protecting our environment while protecting the crops naturally.
Organic farmers work with the natural ecosystem to improve the soil and deter pests. They rotate crops between fields and have diversity in their farms; while the conventional farmer limits crops and farming practices which depletes the soil's nutrients and leads to a real risk of crop damage from disease.

Organic farmers plant certain flowers and bushes to attract helpful insects who will then eat or deter pests that might otherwise eat the crops; conventional farms kill off insects and pests, helpful and hurtful to the farmer.

Organic farmers work with nature to replenish the soil, do not use toxic pesticides or fertilizers and maintain a biologically sustainable investment in our future.
The organic farmer works to create and maintain healthful soil. Worms and microorganisms work to keep the soil strong. The soil feeds the plant. Therefore healthful soil creates food with more nutrition. True, conventional food is devoid of harmful bacteria and bugs, but it is also lower in nutritional value and has less flavor.

Chemicals deplete the top soil and cause soil erosion which in turn offers less nutrition to the plant which in turn creates less nutritious food for us.
In addition, the chemicals and pesticides are killing off microorganisms. Many of these microorganisms are helpful and are actually healthful. Discoveries of helpful bacteria that turn into cures for disease are found in dirt regularly around the world. In killing off the good and bad organisms, we are creating new super-resistant bugs and strains of insects and pests that require even more powerful chemical pesticides to be killed.

Healthy plants are more disease resistant, are more drought resistant, create a better supply of food, create more nutritious food, and grow strong without chemical assistance. It all works together.

At home, our own yards can be maintained organically. Years ago, we would to play in the dirt, dirt that was free of harmful chemicals and loaded with helpful microorganisms. As children this set up our immune systems to be strong. Children were healthier. When our children run and play in the yard, we need to make sure that is a yard they can lie in safely and that runoff from our yard is not going to poison our planet and water supply.

Conventional farming overseas is even worse than in the U.S. since farmers can get away with more with relaxed environmental laws. In many countries, conventional farming is destroying the rainforest and causing the demise of plants and animals for the sake of one single kind of "cash" crop ki. Forests are plowed to make way for planting, soil is eroded, chemicals and poisons enter our water systems, animals lose their homes, toxins enter the delicate ecosystem.

And talk about doing our part to help curb global warming,
conventional farming uses more fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are used to create pesticides and chemicals. They are used to transport them to the farm. Micro-organisms that would otherwise hold carbon are killed releasing carbons into the atmosphere. Once the soil is depleted of micro-organisms, the soil must be enriched with chemical fertilizers which again take fossil fuels in creation and transportation. Conventional farms are more automated and use more fossil fuels generally. They have an over-abundance of manure since they are not using that so that is another issue which must be removed with fossil fuels. Organic farming uses up to 60% less fossil fuel per unit of food.

What is Biodynamic? Biodynamic Demeter supervised farming meets all organic standards and takes them even further. This system was created in ancient times to create healthful soil to withstand the test of time. Biodynamic farming takes even more time and money and therefore things cost more, but what it gives us is a true harmony with our land. It works with the plants, animals, and the environment to promote healthy soil and healthy plants.

Choosing organic produce and biodynamic products supports local, generally smaller, organic farms and the families who work those farms. Paying organic farmers in other countries a fair wage by choosing Fair Trade products allows them to create strong communities, schools and help children and their families. In addition, and as you would guess, conventional farmers and the people that work in and around the fields (including the people that crop dust and spray the chemicals and pesticides) have a much higher risk of cancer than organic farmers.

Organic certification confirms a set of standards:

  • farmland used to grow the produce must be free of chemicals (pesticides, fertilizers, etc) for at least three (3) years. During the three year period, they are considered "transitional" and before that they are simply conventional.
  • there is a paper trail to make sure that product is indeed the organic product you expect.
  • organic poultry and beef are raised on organic feed or organically maintained pastures
  • organic cows and chickens cannot be given growth hormones, stimulants or antibiotics
  • organic dairy cows, poultry and cattle must be treated humanely with
    o clean water,
    o a clean place to sleep,
    o access to the outdoors,
    o exercise, and
    o fresh air
  • organic dairy pasteurization must meet hygienic standards
  • dairy cows may not be sold for slaughter as beef
  • beef is processed in a certified plant where organic cows are separated from conventional ones and the entire processing line must be cleaned to organic specifications for the organic ones
  • no more than 5% of the ingredients (excluding water and salt) are conventional; or at least 95% of the product is organic as per the standards of certification
  • organic products cannot use some organic and some conventional of the same ingredient
Chemical poisons are dangerous. The environmental impact is great today and sadly, they remain in the ecosystem for decades after use. When we look and see that organic foods are sometimes more than conventional, we need to remember the toll conventional foods are having upon our world and our future. Organic foods are actually less costly when we look at the money it takes to fix the problems created by conventional farming. And yes, EVERY choice, EVERY person, EVERY item counts as a vote in the right direction.

Understandably, organic can cost more than conventional, but remember that cheap is not food, cheap is a way to fill the belly that has expensive repercussions long-term upon our health and our planet. It's actually more expensive to produce cheap food, more energy is needed to create each calorie and the clean up of the mess made to our health and our environment is expensive. Instead choose organic whenever possible - particularly for those foods you feed yourself and family most. That will offer you the biggest impact on your own lives and is the best place to start.

Organic farming protects our water supply, our wild life, our families, and our future. Choosing organic foods is like voting to go back to a more natural and safer way of breathing, eating, and living. It's a vote for our health today, our children's current and future health, our environment, animals, and our planet.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mama was Right! (weight loss, processed health foods, real foods)

Like many of us, my weight has fluctuated a bit during my adult life. I was both thinnest and biggest all during my twenties. I feel healthiest now.

My husband and I started rethinking our eating when we were pregnant 12 years ago with our first. The changes came slowly with lots of research. Then I got mad that I could not find the foods I wanted locally so we started an organic grocery delivery business. I had a mission to have a real food store, a real "whole foods." but I acquiesced under customer requests and started to offer more packaged things and the latest and greatest super foods.

Sometimes things didn't sell in time at the store. Sometimes we received short-dated product but didn't catch it in time. Whenever something was short-dated, it found it's way to the local food banks (we donated twice a week imperfect produce and products) and of course some made it into our home since I had lots of guilt from buying it but it not selling in time. It was organic, and I had taken it a step further and researched the products and ingredients, so it was the best packaged stuff we could get; I figured it was ok once in a while. But once in a while became pretty regularly without me even noticing. I continued to prepare most meals from scratch.

Then we lost it all. Our business collapsed. No more access to foods. We lost our house, our savings built up over our entire working careers, we lost everything. The most depressing part for me was opening my empty refrigerator wondering how I would feed my children. Literally, I'd cry. I was beside myself. I figured I could never afford organic foods again and was almost resigned to buying the cheap packaged stuff. I had even pictured in my mind my children's quizzical reactions at their first cheap non-food meal that I'd prepare with love. While I was losing some weight from the stress of it all, I wasn't feeling well.

Then one day I really watched my youngest play and realized all he really needed in life was me. We had lost our money, our home, and our business, the economy was bleak and jobs were tight, but, we had one another. And we still had our health. I have always been so thankful that I was able to have children in the first place when so many of my friends had trouble. To top that off, I have such wonderful and healthy children; we had a lot! None of us are on any medications, no aches and pains, no problems pooping and all those other things we see commercials for on television. No over the counter meds or prescriptions. We were healthy because overall, we had been eating well and nourishing our bodies.

I realized we needed fresh organic fruits and vegetables!

Around this time we were reading In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff, and Real Food: What to Eat and Why. We were convinced to eat it real. And so we have.

Since our store closed we have all lost weight and feel healthier. The kids have not been able to open a box when I was too busy to get up to make them something. Now when I don't have something ready to eat, they open the refrigerator and grab a fruit or piece of cheese. We have no packaged processed "health" foods in the house. We eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, grass-fed meats, grass-fed butter and whole milk, wild fish, cheese, organic eggs from free-range hens.

We eat a lot of eggs; they are an inexpensive source of protein and very versatile. Pastured eggs (eggs from hens allowed to pasture naturally) are best. I remember when we were first getting into organics I looked at the price of organic versus conventional eggs and told Jack "we eat so many eggs, look at the price difference, we can't afford to eat organic eggs." And he said a very wise thing that I will never forget, "since we eat so many eggs, we cannot afford to get conventional ones."

Our egg consumption has gone up considerably since that time, up to a dozen a day (and no, we do not have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, we are quite healthy) to feed our family of four kids and two adults. I know the difference (conventional hen houses are disgusting to say the least) and my body does too.

There is also new research to indicate that organic foods and foods with less pesticides and chemicals allow our body to more easily maintain a healthful weight and actually help our body lose weight. It has to do with our liver having time to use the excess fat instead of working overtime cleansing our body of the unnatural additives we ingest.

Sure it can take more time and requires some planning, but to me, that is what life is all about. Planning a meal, preparing the food with care, nourishing your loved ones with delicious healthful real foods that they enjoy, and sneaking vegetables into every dish as well as offering plenty on the side for color, flavor and variety. Being a healthy weight, avoiding the doctor, saving money, enjoying one of life's pure pleasures: food - to me that is all part of a real life and thankfully, a big part of ours.

This is part of two carnivals
and the carnival on Weight Loss/Gain, Share strategies for losing weight (naturally, of course) or gaining weight, if that is what your goal is sponsored by:

and Works for Me Wednesdays

Monday, May 11, 2009

Salsa & Chips, it's not so simple anymore

For Cinco de Mayo last week I brought in fresh organic roma tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, limes, garlic, avocados, and scallions to make salsa with the kids. And of course, I brought in chips for the class.

  • 4 ripe roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, fresh squeezed juice
  • 1 garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 jalapeno, chopped fine
  • sea salt
  • 2 scallions, chopped
Mix and enjoy as a topping or with chips. You can cuisinart it if you like it less chunky.

They did an outstanding job chopping and making their own salsa. We talked about the different flavors, smelled and tasted. I helped share information with this bright group of third and fourth graders about the differences between organic and conventional and why our family doesn't eat certain things, especially those made of conventional corn. Eating salsa and chips isn't a simple task for us anymore as we have to search for organic corn chips or at least those labeled non-GMO.

In the U.S. there are no labeling requirements when a product contains anything genetically modified. Corn and Soy are the top two crops that are genetically altered. Therefore, corn chips are most assuredly GMO if they are not labeled organic.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) or Genetically Engineered (GE) foods involve a scientific process that alters the very genetic make-up of a plant by introducing new DNA into the nucleus. Genes from humans, bacteria, viruses, other plants, and even animals are spliced into the seed. The effects of these changes have not been fully tested on our environment, nor on our health. Europe has banned GMOs but here in the U.S. we have to search and read labels carefully.

The organic label is a good place to look to make sure the products we choose are not GMO. By definition, organic foods cannot be genetically altered.

My rule of thumb to people just starting to change their eating habits is to choose organic particularly for those things that your family eats most and especially those products that contain any soy or corn in them. And corn is in almost every processed food under the label of a variety of things including:
  • in Baked Goods that contain Baking Powder or Confectioner’s/Powdered Sugar
  • Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil, Corn Syrup, Cornmeal, Cornstarch, Starch
  • Fructose And Fructose Syrup
  • Maltodextrin & Dextrine
  • MSG - Monosodium Glutamate also listed as Autolized Yeast Extract
Corn is even ingested by us second hand and a majority of it goes for animal feed so be wary of:
  • Grain-fed Poultry
  • Grain-Finished Beef
  • Vegetarian-Fed Eggs
Choose pastured, grass-fed, and organic for a variety of reasons not the least of which is to avoid GMO corn.

It may not be simple anymore to find and enjoy chips and salsa, but armed with some knowledge, we can protect ourselves and crunch away!

This post is part of the No GMO Challenge - JOIN US!


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Papaya Salsa & more - Dinner a la Buying Club

Since getting all these goodies in our boxes least week, I have been making salsas, fruit platters and lovely salads all week long.

The other night I made a Papaya Mango Salsa to enjoy with the Mexican-Spiced ground Beef, Collard Chips, and fresh organic non-GMO Corn on the cob.

The papaya mango salsa was a big hit - we had a papaya that wasn't quite ripe but had a little mold spot so I cut that away and peeled the fruit, took out the seeds, and chopped it in strips. Then I added some other things. It was really delicious.

Papaya Mango Salsa:
  • 1 unripe Papaya sliced
  • 1 ripe sweet Mango cut into chunks
  • 1 ripe Avocado cut into chunks
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 of a Jalapeno chopped fine (seeds, ribs and all if you want it spicy!)
  • 1 juice of a fresh Lime
  • Sea Salt
We had that with some simple Mexican-inspired sauteed ground beef.

  • 2 Cubanelle Peppers sliced
  • 1/4 of a Jalapeno, with ribs and seeds if you want it spicy
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon each: oregano, chili powder
  • 1lb Grass-fed Bison or Ground Beef
Saute up the peppers, onion and garlic, add the tomato paste and spices cook a half minute more. Add the meat and saute until done.

These were locally grown Florida Cubanelle Peppers. They are normally long and pale green. I let mine go a couple days and one started turning red, as you can see.

They are crispy, juicy and mild tasting. Great chopped fresh for salad or in a sandwich, but their shape begs them to be stuffed! Today I just sliced them up and sauteed them into the dish.

Collard Chips were a nice crunchy side dish. We have made them before from Kale but never thought of Collards until someone at the school mentioned it to me so we gave it a go and they are wonderful and surprisingly not bitter at all.
  • 1 bunch Collards washed, tough stem removed
  • olive oil
  • salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Cut Collards (or any other green) into chip pieces. Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in batches, each in a single uncrowded layer for 10 minutes. Turn once and cook another minute or so until crisp.

For dessert we enjoyed a sweet VERY juicy yellow watermelon, one of our favorite kinds of watermelon.

A fun meal thanks to the Buying Club goodies! Last week's box included:
    • Strawberries
    • Pineapple or Blood Oranges
    • Fuji Apples
    • Bananas
    • Lemons
    • Limes
    • Florida Cantaloupe
    • Florida Roma Tomatoes (most groups)
    • Florida Collard Greens
    • Florida Yellow Corn
    • Florida Cubanelle Peppers
    • Florida Jalapeno Peppers
    • Romaine or Red Leaf Lettuce
    • Cilantro
    • Garlic
    • Scallions
    • Hass Avocados
    • Broccoli
    • Baby Peeled Carrots
    • Garnett Sweet Potato Yams
The Papaya and Yellow Watermelon were part of the extra fruit add-on to the regular buying club share in our group.

The club has certainly been a fun way for me to try new things and give old favorites a new recipe. It keeps our refrigerator colorful and fresh and we always have lovely healthy things to snack on during the day. I have appreciated the food, freshness, quality, and variety very much and hope those of you who are in our buying club or another one in your area, are also venturing outside your normal menu and enjoying yummy fresh seasonal organics too!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mango Salsa & Wild White Pacific Salmon

This week's share from our buying club offered a bounty for Cinco de Mayo fun. I chopped up Avocados, Cilantro, Jalapenos, Scallions, a ripe Mango from the week before, and Tomatoes into this incredible salsa. A squeeze of fresh Lime juice and a shake of Alea Hawaiin Sea Salt and it was unbelievably fresh and tasty with a bite that kept us going back for more.
  • 1 avocado, cut into chunks
  • 1 handful of cilantro chopped
  • 1 mango, cut into chunks
  • 2 good size roma tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 - 1/2 jalapeno, seeds, ribs and all because we like the heat, chopped very tiny
  • 1-2 scallions chopped
  • all the fresh juice of 1 lime
I used it to top Mahi-Mahi and Wild White Pacific Salmon which topped a green salad and Sweet Potato Hash made up of Chopped Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Red Bell Peppers from a couple weeks ago (a little wrinkly by now), an Onion, and some Jalapeno diced small.
  • 2 medium sized Sweet Potatoes, chopped, grated or sliced in thin strips
  • 1/4 - 1/2 Red Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 Jalapeno, diced thin
  • 1-2 Garlic cloves, chopped
Heat pan, add olive oil. Add sweet potatoes and cover. You'll want to turn it every couple minutes so the bottoms don't burn. When almost tender add onions, garlic, red bell pepper, jalapeno, and saute until onions are translucent and potatoes are done and getting brown. We have topped this with eggs for brunch last week and today topped the hash on one side and salad on the other with white wild pacific fish.

White salmon is a rare and delectable treat. It has a firm flesh and the flavor of Ivory or White salmon is more delicate than the Red Salmon. It is comparable to regular king salmon in omega 3s and less of a "fishy" taste from regular pink salmon.

Why White? The color variation is due to genetics. Salmon get their typical red or pink color from carotene in the food they eat (crustaceans such as shrimp and krill), but 1% of the salmon are genetically predisposed with an extra enzyme to process carotene rather than collect it. This can only occur in the wild so you can be assured your salmon is indeed "free range" when you buy Ivory or White Chinook Salmon.

Why Wild and not Farmed? Farmed sounds better, we are protecting the wild fish, right? But it's not that simple. When you hear farmed, think agri-business, think of those huge dairy and cattle farms and chicken pens where they sit on top of one another. Ah, it's getting clearer now.

Yes, the fish are raised in confined areas (cages or nets) in the ocean. "Ocean-raised" is another name for farmed fish so don't be fooled there. The fish do not have room to move and are treated much like conventional livestock on top of one another to maximize profit.

They don't get to use their muscles and really swim as they should. They are in close proximity to one another and therefore, like other animals raised in big agri-business, are prone to sickness. They are infested with sea lice (30,000 times more than normally occurring in the sea!)

If and when they get out, (and they DO get out - some by accident while others are let out on purpose to get rid of a sick population of fish easily) they mingle with the wild fish which in turn gets them sick. They infest the surrounding sea with disease and sea lice.

If they are not sick when they get out, the wreak havoc on the delicate ecosystem - they are super-fish that eat more than the regular wild salmon. The farmed fish are genetically engineered salmon and they are sadly taking over the environment.

Since they are in such close living quarters, like the beef and chickens on big conventional farms, they are routinely fed antibiotics. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (, over 68% of all seafood consumed in the United States is imported, and most of it is industrially produced. Most are farm-raised and have little oversight regarding antibiotic drug use. While the U.S. government has standards that should ban imports with high levels of antibiotics in seafood, there is essentially no enforcement.

Farmed salmon have more antibiotics administered by weight than any other form of livestock. Farmed salmon have significantly higher levels of PCBs, dioxin, and other cancer causing agents over wild salmon.

Farmed fish are fed coloring agents (no doubt petroleum-based) to give them that pinkish blush we are accustomed to seeing, otherwise they'd be a blah unappetizing grey.

Farmed fish are fed pellets and undoubtedly contain GMO and soy in the grind. Those pellets DO NOT get converted by the fish to make the powerful omega 3s for us like the wild salmon's regular food. Farm raised salmon doesn't have as high nutritional value. Omega 3s are an essential fatty acid that are most easily found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna. It can be found to a lesser extent in some seeds and nuts including walnuts, chia & flax seeds, but our bodies don't convert the foods into omega 3s the same way so the best source is fish.

We didn't even discuss flavor, there is absolutely no comparison. I always thought I hated salmon until I had real wild salmon. It is delicious.

Wild is the only sustainable approach to fishing as long as they are not using those nets that pick up everything from the ocean killing innocent fish that are destined for nothing more than to be tossed overboard. I choose Vital Choice brand because they sustainably harvest. Their fish are line caught by hand from the pristine Pacific waters. They explain that only two percent of the Alaskan Salmon are caught by line and all of their fish are line caught. Net fishing damages habitats making more species endangered.

Yes, it's more expensive, it's cheaper to throw in a net and catch some and kill a few other things. But then again, there is a lot more nutritional bang for your buck in a wild salmon so cheap is all relative. Our choice of what to buy and feed our loved ones impacts our lives, our future, and our planet so choose carefully and if you think it's too expensive, just eat less of it. Cheap is not food. Choose food not cheap.

Then there was that article in the NY Times about the farmed fish being sold as wild for more money. You are more likely to have wild salmon if it is frozen, unless you live on the Pacific coast, but here on the East coast, I only eat salmon that is fresh frozen on the boat the same day it is caught - it doesn't get any fresher. It is incumbent upon us as the consumers to choose a source we trust and understand the facts.

Farmed salmon are administered antibiotics, pesticides, synthetic coloring agents, growth hormones and GMOs. Wild Salmon is also much higher in heart and brain healthy Omega 3s and just taste so much better. In my mind, and I hope you agree, WILD fish is the only choice. And of the wild fish available, please learn which are safest (lowest in mercury, flourishing in a healthy habitat, and not over-fished) to make a sustainable choice for your table and our future. Check out the Seafood Selector by the Environmental Defense Fund and Seafood Watch by Monterey Bay Aquarium.

I am a Food RENEGADE!This is part of Food Renegade's FIGHT BACK FRIDAYS where people who are fighting back against the dominate food culture blog about our adventures in real food including:
  • updates & stories about our Real Food journey,
  • tips,
  • recipes,
  • anything we think others might find useful, helpful, encouraging, or inspiring.

Roast! (and I ain't talkin' Beef)

Sometimes the ugliest* fruit is the sweetest. Sometimes the simplest preparation of meals are the most delicious. And many times, the ugliest and simplest help make eating real food affordable and convenient.

Roasting is the easiest, simplest, quickest, and quite a tasty way to prepare vegetables. The method can be used on almost anything and it's pretty much the same:
  1. Cut up veggie into equal sizes.
  2. Drizzle on oil and toss to coat.
  3. Sprinkle on grey salt or sea salt.
  4. Lay it flat on a cookie sheet so they are not crowded.
  5. Roast at 375F for 10 - 30 minutes until done, usually until they begin to brown.
Variations have to do with what vegetable, oil, and temperature.
  • You can roast at a higher heat, 425F, for less time. I usually choose that method.
  • You can toss in olive, coconut , walnut, macadamia nut, or sunflower oils. Don't use corn or soybean oil or another GMO oil.
  • The big secret is not to overcrowd the pan, otherwise they will steam instead of roast.
  • Choice of vegetable or mix of vegetables is the biggest change.
Roasting enriches the flavor and deepens the color. It offers variety into our weekly menu and can be done for any seasonal vegetable. It is quick and easy, nutritious and delicious, and comprises of 3 ingredients and some heat.

Here is a combination of Purple and Yellow Cauliflower florets pre- and post-roasting:

NOTE: Roasting does shrink them some AND they are so delicious everyone, including the kids, will eat more so roast more!

Try Roasting:
  • Root Vegetables together - try a combination of Carrots, Turnips, Parsnips, Rutabaga, even some pieces of Fennel mixed in
  • Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes - cut in similar shapes but try different ones like squares, frie cut, big beefsteak fries, rounds
  • Cauliflower - see Cauli-power
  • Broccoli
  • Greens - take out the ribs and cut into equal sized "chips" and roast Kale or Collards. Check out this great blog with pictures and clear easy instructions and yes, even your kids will eat it!
  • Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, Green Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, just about any vegetable can be roasted.
The timing depends upon how big or small you cut them and how dense the vegetable is, so check it after 10 minutes, you are looking for the beginning of caramelization and browning on the vegetables. You may need to give them a turn with the spatula mid-way through. Enjoy your veggies - this method is quick and easy and very delicious.

This is part of the Simple & Nourishing Carnival on Keeping it Simple with meals.

* Sometimes the fruit that looks over the top is the sweetest and can be gotten for nothing since no one else wants it. Don't always judge a piece of produce by it's looks, like many things in life, it's what inside that counts.

See more: