Archive for the ‘Our Good Health’ Category
I recently had an interesting conversation with a dietitian in which I came to realize that many health educators truly believe that because most of us refuse to eat real, whole foods, they must teach us how to choose the ‘least worst’ of the processed foods widely available to us.
This made me sad for several reasons, not the least among them being the fact that it’s kinda, sorta, a little bit true.
Again, I know this from experience – I grew up as one of the world’s pickiest eaters and there is still a lot of real, healthy food that I find to be, well, gross (though I continue to work toward expanding my palate!).
In too many ways, processed food actually does taste better to us than real food does (and that’s no accident!). You hear it all the time – why are all the things that are ‘good for you’ have to taste so bad??
Personally, I believe that’s another way in which the food industry wins - if you can get people to dislike or even fear real food, you’re happily pushing them further into your processed, junky arms, which is of course their aim.
When I first started moving toward eating more real food (and by real, I mean unprocessed, whole foods – eggs, vegetables, meat, raw dairy, real butter, etc.) I viewed it as a big sacrifice, something I should be doing but didn’t really want to.
While I still may have to defeat that attitude on any given day, I have managed to come up with some simple and pretty easy ways to make it possible – even enjoyable – to the point of loving many foods I couldn’t have imagined touching 10 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune issue in regards to my thyroid.
I am very fortunate in (finally!) having an excellent doctor; she suggested that it was certain grains that were likely the culprits in this issue and recommended that I cut out both gluten and corn.
The gluten I was already doing for the most part, but I confess I had no idea about the corn. Cutting out grains has been quite the journey – one I’ve both succeeded with and failed in at various times in the past few years – and recently seeing success with cutting just gluten, I had in fact been replacing it with a lot of corn (organic of course, but corn nonetheless).
But while I was a bit sad to hear her say it, I knew she was right. And as much as I have faith in knowing my own body and understanding in myself what works well for it and what doesn’t, it does hold weight to have a good doctor confirm what you know you should be doing.
So for 3 weeks now I’ve eaten no gluten or corn. It has involved a lot more menu planning and cooking at home, being much more choosy when we do eat out, and learning to fine tune and figure out other foods that aggravate my thyroid (soy. vegetable oils. possibly others – mainly processed foods seem to be a problem).
Several people upon hearing no gluten or corn have asked me the question – what CAN you eat?
Well here’s our menu plan for this week – see for yourself! Read the rest of this entry »
I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a workshop given by a registered dietitian of many year’s experience on the topic of healthy eating.
Her talk began with some good advice on shopping for food, meal planning, making ahead and freezing, etc. So far, so good.
But it was when she started talking about what we should actually be eating that I started feeling stabby.
First, the example of the Fibre One granola bars – brought to the workshop as a ‘healthy snack’ option.
Let’s check out the ingredients for the 90 Calorie Chocolate & Caramel Pretzel bar:
Chicory Root Extract, Rice Flour, Sugar, Whole Wheat Flour, high Maltose Corn Syrup, Whole Grain Oats, Vegetable Oil (palm kernel, canola, corn and/or soybean), Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (sugar, chocolate liquor processed with alkali, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavour), Puffed Wheat, Glycerin, honey, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Maltodextrin, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Malt Extract, Cellulose Gum, Reduced Minerals Whey, Milk, Fructose, Nonfat Milk, Baking Soda, Natural Flavour, Yeast, Ammonium Bicarbonate, Colour (yellows 5 & 6 lake, red 40 lake, blue 1 lake and other colour added). Mixed Tocopherols Added to Retain Freshness.
That’s about 39 ingredients in one little granola bar, not counting the twice listed ‘natural flavours’, which could potentially include hundreds more ingredients.
There was talk of eating more veggies, fish, fruits – but a lot more emphasis was placed on counting calories, avoiding fats and piling on the healthy whole grains encouraged by the Canada Food Guide. Fat was vilified over and over again – butter and whole milk in particular – at one point grave surprise was expressed at the idea that anyone even still drank whole milk.
She did admit though that eggs are now actually considered to be good for you (shocker), but overall processed, low fat ‘foods’ were touted as the most reasonable options.
If you’re into real food, you’re probably feeling a bit stabby by now too. If you’re not into real food, you may find my frustration confusing. But as someone who has finally discovered the importance of eating real food after a lifetime of filling my body with processed crap (much of which I believed was good for me and all of which has affected my body in terrible ways), I couldn’t in good conscience keep quiet. Read the rest of this entry »
These past few weeks have been insane. And amazing. I am loving the whole experience of October Unprocessed so far – we have been eating such awesome food and feeling so great (and really noticing it the few times we’ve slipped). It’s also all been a lot easier and more positive than I thought it would be.
There are so many keys to this – the support on Facebook. Knowing that so many others are committed to the challenge this month. Having the husband be so on board. The changes I’ve already noticed in my body and attitude.
Of course, it’s not all been easy. I’ve had to give things up to make the time to cook all this food. I’ve been tired and stressed and seriously tempted to order pizza. But overall it’s been totally worth it.
I didn’t post a meal plan last week, but we did stick with the program – just did a lot of basic meals that were fast and easy. It’s been surprising to me this month how many of those kinds of meals there are within the realm of real food. If I have a weakness as a cook it’s something of a tendency to make things complicated. And it’s that weakness that makes me get home at 5PM after working all day and absolutely not want do anything about dinner but head through a drive through.
So I’ve been super excited about the simple, easy, tasty meals I’ve been able to throw together on weeknights and find that they are just as good as the most elaborate of meals. In my search to come across these kinds of recipes, I was thrilled to come across Amber Beam’s cookbook, Weeknight Paleo, which promises healthy, unprocessed recipes in 30 minutes or less.
This week all of our weeknight dinners will be coming out of that cookbook, and I’m looking forward to reporting back on the experience on Friday – along with sharing a giveaway of 2 copies of Weeknight Paleo! There is so much about this cookbook that I already adore, though I’ll wait until Friday to share more – here is our week’s meal plan in the meantime. Read the rest of this entry »
2 disclaimers to begin this post…
#1 – It’s late! I meant to have this as a wrap up to the posts of the week before last and just didn’t get to it in time. My apologies!
#2 – I plan to share in this post (among other things) some great reasons for ‘greening your period’ – or switching to reusable menstrual products. On the flip side of that I will be sharing some of the not-so-great things about disposable products. While I believe what I’m sharing has merit and sincerely hope that it may help provide a few answers for anyone on the fence or new to the whole idea, I am absolutely not judging you if you disagree with what’s expressed here. If this post comes as the right one at the right time for you, great! If it’s totally not your bag, feel free to ignore it!
OK – now we can get started!
I want to re-post something I shared last year:
- Over 20 BILLION disposable pads, tampons, and applicators will
be added to landfills every year in North America alone. The disposal of
these products releases dioxins and other toxic chemicals into our
rivers, lakes and oceans and pollutes our soil.
- A woman will use on average 13,000 disposable menstrual products
in her lifetime. ONE cloth pad has the potential to replace 140
disposable pad/tampon products.
- ONE cloth pad can last up to 5 years.
- Disposable pads and tampons used in an average woman’s
menstruating life will cost her $4500 compared to $200-$750 for reusable
pads and tampons.
- Many pads and tampons are chemically treated to whiten, perfume,
and make them more absorbent. They are also made of synthetic fibers.
Given the sensitivity of the vaginal area to chemical absorption and the
number of disposable menstrual products a woman uses in her life, this
is a really big issue.
This list is why I titled this post as I did.
First off, the contribution I was making to landfills with all those tampons and pads was something I never even considered. For far too long I was of the mindset that when you throw garbage ‘away’, it just goes into that nebulous ‘away’ that most of us never have to think about or deal with.
But when you do think of it…what a terrible burden to place on our earth! Don’t get me wrong – I still use things that are disposable. But I have come to see that we do WAY more disposable than we need to in so many things, where it takes surprisingly little effort to use something that will last for years.
Ultimately, whether it’s pads and tampons or paper plates or diapers or plastic spoons or whatever, we need to start counting the cost with these things. We need to start seeing the numbers – envisioning the disaster we are creating – and acting accordingly.
Moving on to actual financial cost. Read the rest of this entry »
Last year, in the spirit of Earth Day, I made a resolution.
I must admit - it wasn’t something I was terribly excited about doing at first – I looked at it as taking a pretty big risk and did not have a lot of faith that it would work out well.
But as I look back over the past year, I can say with full confidence that I’m a total convert and wouldn’t go back for anything.
What I did ranges from being no big deal for some (and indeed, seems like nothing out of the ordinary to me now) to being a huge, potentially weird and disturbing deal for others.
In short – I made the switch from using disposable menstrual products (pads and tampons) to using reusable menstrual products – cloth pads (or as it is sometimes known – ‘mama cloth’), a menstrual cup, and sea sponge tampons.
I wrote all about my initial experiences in various posts you can find HERE – they include reviews of Moms Crafts 4 U (along with Earth Mama Angel Baby Monthly Comfort Tea), Lunapads, GladRags, the Diva Cup, Sea Sponge Tampons, and Party in My Pants.
Now that I’ve been using these products for an entire year, I wanted to share a bit more about my experiences. I’m not gonna lie – I’d love to help convert you too (I’m even sweetening the deal with a cloth pad giveaway at the end of this post)! Read the rest of this entry »
Aside from a small plot of sunflowers I planted in our backyard as a kid (which grew surprisingly well, now that I think of it), last year was my first year ever attempting a garden.
It grew mostly out of a whim – my mom mentioned she and my grandma had signed up for a class in learning how to make a garden out of straw bales. The idea intrigued me and I decided to give it a try; it ended up growing bigger and better than I ever would have imagined.
I had such success and enjoyed it so much that this year I’ve decided to expand.
We have the very good fortune of having our (relatively small) backyard back right up against a protected green space that essentially gives us a giant backyard for things like letting the dog roam, exploring nature and going for walks; because of that we don’t have huge need for our own backyard. And since we pretty much suck at mowing the lawn anyway, this year’s garden is going to be allocating most of the space we have available for growing.
My plan is to have 10 straw bales under cultivation; I’ll also be doing some container gardening on the deck and planting herbs in a small rectangle of the front yard as well as within the house. I’m tempted to try a vertical herb garden, but I don’t want to go into too much experimenting at once.
Last year the things I planted were pretty much determined by what was available at the grocery store garden centre – I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities so made it easy on myself and bought plants that had already been started.
With a little bit more confidence (that hopefully is not premature) and a little more knowledge on the importance of organic, open pollinated seeds (along with a total lack of desire to give anything more to Monsanto than the inevitable), I’ll be starting all my plants this year from seed, both in the house and outside.
A few weeks ago we attended an organic seed exchange in a nearby city (where vendors were also selling seeds), and as exciting as it all was, I ended up going a little seed crazy – we came away with 26 little packets of potential. I had my husband hissing at me in a whisper, “Are you sure we’re going to have room for all these?” Read the rest of this entry »
Because it’s a new year, I’ve been thinking about all the things I’d like to have/do in 2012.
There’s nothing set in stone and I have no idea how much of it will actually come to pass, but there’s nothing wrong with a little wishlist, right? And if you can’t share your random thoughts and wishes on your blog, where can you share them?
So here goes…
The idea of living sustainably/independent of mainstream corporations, etc. is a hugely fascinating one for me (though it’s something I still have a looooong way to go on).
But in that spirit, here are some of the things I would like to own/do to began attaining that goal:
- A dehydrator. I have dreams of making jerky, fruit roll-ups, etc. and keeping my family in healthy snacks at every need.
- Canning supplies. Because my gardening efforts were such a success last year, I have big plans for expanding this year – and I want to be able to preserve all that yummy goodness! Of course, this will also involve learning how to can things without giving us all botulism.
- An indoor herb garden (plus lots of herbs outside!). I planted sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, lavender and mint last year. The sage and thyme are actually still growing (outside!) and I continue to use them frequently. Thus, I want to do bigger and better this year – and make sure to dry and preserve those herbs as well (I’m afraid I was pretty crap with that this past year). Now I just need to find some space inside that won’t be destroyed by my daughter/dog/cat. Hmm….
- A juicer. My husband loves juice. And no matter how much I tell him how worthless it is and how much it’s all sugar and how it’s not even real even when it says it is, he persists in drinking it. So I would at least like to make him real juice. And I admit I wouldn’t mind putting together some veggie juice concoctions for myself. So this is one of the wants on our list.
- More cast-iron/glass/stainless steel. We’ve begun the process of converting all our cooking stuff to these materials, but we’re not where I’d like to be. It would be great if 2012 could see us there!
As these are mainly all to do with kitchen/cooking/food stuff, I’ll throw in a few goals I’d like to put into action this year. We’ve had great success with going paper towel free and become pros at separating our garbage, compost and recycling, but there’s still a lot more we can accomplish.
I think the biggest problem continues to be waste – mainly in Ziploc bags and food. I’ve been pretty decent in the past with washing those bags out and using more reusable containers and planning meals so food doesn’t get tossed, but we started slacking big-time when I went back to work. I don’t want this downward spiral to continue, so it’s something that’s on my list to work on for 2012.
Continuing with the wishes… Read the rest of this entry »
I was absolutely thrilled to receive a copy of The Organic Family Cookbook for review – already being a big fan of author Anni Daulter from Ice Pop Joy and Bamboo Family Magazine, I couldn’t wait to see what she’d come up with for this cookbook.
Truly, my expectations were surpassed. I am a lover of cookbooks in general and I have to say that this one goes right up there with those 70’s style Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks in the category of awesome (have you seen those? They really are awesome… ).
The recipes, extra tips, pictures, personal stories – there is so much to be found in here. I could go on forever, but let me highlight a few of my favorite things…
This book is truly a family cookbook. Anni’s 4 beautiful children are involved throughout the project – it’s very obvious to see how much inspiration they provided, even to the point of contributing recipes. Together with that, there are tips everywhere on ways to get kids involved – whether at the farmer’s market, gardening, preparation, you name it – I can’t wait to start applying these ideas with Bean.
With ‘organic’ in the title, you know the ingredients you’ll find here are going to be the best. The recipe for banana bread really stood out to me in this regard – it was one of my first experiences in baking a sweet treat that used absolutely no refined ingredients – something I really was quite skeptical of. But truly – this was the best banana bread I’ve ever had – the flavor was amazing and I felt so good about what was inside! I’m actually planning on making this bread for Christmas gifts this year (a twist on an idea Anni shares in the book) and am so looking forward to sharing it with loved ones.
Of course, all those real food ingredients make for amazing everything in this book. I’ve made well over half the recipes and been so happy with every one – as have Bean and the husband!
Some of our favorites have been the Bakery-Worthy Mini Broccoli & Cheese Crustless Quiches, the quinoa made both sweet and savory (Bodhi’s Warm Berry Quinoa w/Honey Butter & Simple Quinoa w/Peas & Corn), Austin & Cameron’s Pastrami & Bleu Cheese Melt (drool!) and of course, the Whole Roasted Herb Chicken with Roasted Veggies & Dark Chocolate Dipping Sauce (I’ve never made anything that made me feel so decadent!).
Several of the recipes I tried were ones I actually didn’t think I would like – I am quite picky but I was inspired to be adventurous (that pastrami sandwich was one of them!) and I was just blown away by how good it all was.
Yesterday I posted a picture of Canadian farmer Michael Schmidt in my Wordless Wednesday post. He is currently in the fourth week of a hunger strike – his call to get Canadian Premier Dalton McGuinty to meet with him in regards to food freedom.
I wanted to talk a little bit more about what he is doing and some simple ways you can show your support for someone I’ve come to view as one of our modern day heroes.
Michael Schmidt has been battling with the Canadian government for over 17 years to legalize the sale of raw milk (Canada is the only G8 county that completely bans the sale of raw milk). In the meantime, Michael has worked to establish programs like cow shares – a group of people buy shares in a cow, so when they get the milk it is technically from their own cow.
Michael was recently found guilty of 15 of the 19 criminal offences charged under Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act and the Milk Act – basically, for selling and distributing raw milk and raw milk products.
Ultimately, Michael Schmidt is fighting for our freedom to choose what we eat – something I consider to be a basic liberty – especially within our culture.
Ever since I started learning about real food and the benefits of raw milk (and coming to a greater understanding of the fake food I’ve consumed for most of my life) I have longed for the opportunity to reap its benefits, but as a resident of Canada, I cannot. Read the rest of this entry »