Category Archives: Soap Box/Rants

Organic and Real Food Are NOT Synonomous

Today I was browsing Whole Foods for a few items (we are slowly moving away from Whole Foods as we find local and more economical versions of their goods).  While there I couldn’t help but notice the heap of ORGANIC junk food I saw.  I guess these types of products have been around a while, after all, one year ago when I got started here, I was also buying gluten-free Gorilla Munch and Annie’s Bunny Cereals.  I didn’t really care about the sugar content or the ingredient list at that point because I was desperate to get gluten-free goods.  We’re all on our own level of this real food quest.  However…

In Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution season finale, there was a mom that spoke up at one of his events.  This lady’s statement keeps coming back to me – “we stopped buying (blank) and started buying everything organic”.  In her defense who knows what that means, but all I could think of is the moms of America getting the idea that real food means organic sugar bunnies and…PopTarts.

Then I was reading Parents magazine, and I came across this ad for…PopTarts.  It marketed the “fruit” aspect of the tart by displaying the 3 fruit flavors of the tarts:  strawberry, blueberry, and new grape.  It said, “PopTarts are made with real fruit!”  Then of course it had a little star directing you to the fine print on the bottom that said, “less than 10% fruit”.  The whole ad made me so sick that I actually had to laugh out loud.  I found this ad manipulative and offensive.  It’s an assault on the word fruit and offensive to all the brainless Moms who Kellog’s thinks they are fooling.  Don’t believe me that PopTarts are pure junk?  Look at the ingredients in this strawberry beauty:

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, ENRICHED FLOUR this means bleached white flour(WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), SOYBEAN AND PALM OIL (WITH TBHQ FOR FRESHNESS), POLYDEXTROSE, SUGAR, DEXTROSE, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, CORN SYRUP ( just in case the high fructose wasn’t enough sweet) WHOLE GRAIN BARLEY FLOUR, GLYCERIN, CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF INULIN FROM CHICORY ROOT, WHEAT STARCH, SALT, DRIED STRAWBERRIES, DRIED PEARS, DRIED APPLES, CORNSTARCH, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA, SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE), NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL STRAWBERRY FLAVOR, CITRIC ACID, GELATIN, CARAMEL COLOR, SOY LECITHIN, XANTHAN GUM, MODIFIED WHEAT STARCH, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, NIACINAMIDE, RED #40, REDUCED IRON, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), YELLOW #6, RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), FOLIC ACID.

The reason I am bashing on PopTarts is to set an example.  There are a lot of fancy words out there on a ton of seemingly healthy products.  For example, on this tart box alone it says, “one serving of whole grain” and “20% daily fiber” and “5 g. total fat per serving”.  If you look at the nutrition label you will see it has no trans fats, no cholesterol, 5 g. of dietary fiber and even 2 g. of protein!  Surely it is good to eat.  Wrong.  Look at the ingredient list, not the nutrition facts. That is the #1 rule I shop by.  The Nutrition Information is based on a system (Jaime Oliver talks about this.) that tells you to eat 6-11 serving a day of grains and get even fatter oh no!  Methinks someone is trying to promote their agricultural products…

Look at the ingredient list.  If it’s very long, that’s your first clue it’s junk.  If there is high fructose corn syrup, it’s likely junk.  If it says enriched flour, it’s junk.  This means white bleached flour that has been stripped of all naturally occurring vitamins because of processing that is later supplemented with synthetic vitamins.  Also, anytime you see corn syrup and soybean (in this case oil) they are GMO‘s.  If you ever see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, those are the famous TRANS FATS = junk, junk, junk.

Once again, it is not my purpose to make you feel bad about eating your PopTarts.  Like I said before, we are all in our own stage in life.  I understand that and don’t judge you.  But take baby steps when you can to feed yourself and the ones you love food that gives you energy, food that makes your body work better, foods that increase your immunity, foods that you can be proud of – REAL FOODS.

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Kerrygold Irish Butter

Kerrygold Irish Butter is the best butter you can find, unless you make it, in most commercial grocery stores including HEB and Whole Foods in San Antonio.  It is usually sold among the fine cheeses for around $5 a package.  In this package, as you can see by its label, there are 2 conventional butter sticks – 1 cup or 8 oz. total.  Kerrygold is pasteurized, but from grass-fed cows, which you will automatically see because of its rich yellow color.  The taste will sell the product by itself.  The reason I am posting on St. Patrick’s Day is because they are selling it at Costco right now – for the month of March ONLY for $7 and change for THREE of these 8oz. packages.  That’s almost half price and makes it just as affordable as conventional butter, and more affordable than organic butter.  If you’ve never tried it – now is the time!  Get yourself to Costco and get your vitamins from your food instead of from synthetic pills!!

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How I Changed My Kid’s Diet

My strategy through all of this has been low-key and slow.  Cold turkey did not work for us.  I tried cold turkey GAPS diet with her and she STARVED for 3 days, despite encouraging feedback that she would start eating.  She didn’t.  So baby steps it is.  In fact, it took 8 months to implement all of the below!  From typical American diet to whole foods traditional diet, this is how we transitioned to each food:

Homemade Broth – beef and chicken.  This is probably the single most helpful staple in my kitchen.

At the beginning Emma absolutely REFUSED to drink or eat any kind of broths or soups.  Then, a couple of weeks ago she had diarrhea for 5 days straight.  By the 5th day, we were talking about going to the doctor, going on a special diet, etc.  Of course none of that would be necessary if she would’ve just drank soup.  (Homemade broths made with bones are rich in gelatin, which coats the intestine and protects it, hence the easiest and cheapest way to cure tummy troubles and ward off sickness.)  Baby Steps. So, one night I warmed up a few tablespoons of salted beef broth and sat right in front of her like I was going to feed a baby.  Then I carefully explained to her (she is 3 and a girl, so I have an advantage here : ) that her tummy was hurting and Mami knew how to fix it but she had to trust Mami and drink her broth.  A least that stopped the kicking and screaming.  Of course after 2 days of drinking broth a couple tablespoons at a time throughout the day her diarrhea was completely gone, but something I didn’t expect is that her eczema is improving.  It also kept her hydrated and so we didn’t need to use electrolyte drinks, which can’t be good for you with their fake colors and sugars.  The Plunge.  Now, about a week later, she’s been drinking with a straw each day about a half cup of broth with her lunch.  She still needs cohersion – like a yummy apple or fat slice of cheese after she finishes, but she does it.  Alternately you can use broth in mashed potatoes, sub for water in rice, ans use in other sauces like enchiladas.  My conclusion?  Trust in the foods you know heal, and then trust in your child’s intelligence and that she believes in you.

*Update May 30, 2010:  Emma still does not like broth.  I started getting sneaky.  I know this sounds gross, but I put it in her smoothies for the liquid.  I do about 2 parts broth to 1 part coconut milk, a banana, a tsp. honey, and then either berries or stone fruits.  Makes about 1-1/2 cups.   You actually can’t taste it!  (I don’t salt my broth until I cook with it.)

Yogurt.

At the beginning I bought the regular, whole milk, sweetened cups – whatever was on sale.  We started with that – about 1/4 c. each day.  Baby Steps. Then, once she was eating it regular without tummy troubles, I started buying plain whole milk yogurt too.  (Brown Cow cream top is a good one.)  Then, I would take out 2 tbsp. of the sweetened yogurt out of it’s cup and add in plain and stir well.  I kept increasing the amount of plain yogurt until she started eating 2 tbsp. sweetened yogurt mixed with 1/2 c. plain yogurt.  Alternately you could add honey or maple syrup and decrease the amount gradually.  Yogurt is great for all of the live and active cultures and is another, like broth, must-have-daily to keep your gut strong.  This entire time I was saving the sweetened yogurt CUPS and serving the new yogurt mix in them.  That way she would not suspect a change.  The Plunge. Eventually it would be nice for her to enjoy an unsweetened cup of yogurt.

Cod Liver Oil.

This is a tough one, because it tastes HORRIBLE (no sugar coating here).  Baby Steps. They came up with some gummy fish, but Emma keeps saying “they hurt my teeth”.  Not sure if it’s the chewy-ness or what, but one comment like that was enough for me to donate them.  So, she continues to take her 1/2 tsp. a day of liquid.  I absolutely cannot say enough about this Cod Liver Oil (brand matters) and what it’s done for ME and my kids.  It’s chock full of the things growing kids need, esp. those with special needs (eczema, digestive problems, autism, etc.).  Those things are vitamins A and D specifically, and essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA.  It is suspected that more than half of all American children are deficient in these essential vitamins that affect development.  The Plunge. So anyway, Emma still dislikes it, but she takes it in a little cup mixed with her probiotic.  I usually sneak up behind her and do it quick, because if she knows and makes me do it “later” she thinks about it too much and usually gags.  I might sound harsh, but I know without a doubt, that this is the best thing in the world for her.  I wish every kid could have it.

Vegetables.

At the Beginning, Emma would not eat vegetables.  I think this was because when they were introduced as a baby, I never salted or buttered them.  Then as other foods got introduced veggies sat on the back burner way too long until her taste for sweets took over.  Baby Steps.  This is a sneaky endeavor.  Emma likes onion flavor, but not pieces.  So I micro grate onion in eggs, broth, mashed potatoes, biscuits, etc.   Someday when she starts liking broth pureed soups will be fabulous for veggies.  She will eat greens in macaroni cheese combos like Swiss Chard Lasagna.  She will also eat pancakes with vegetable puree in them like Sorghum Pancakes.  And other than that, vegetables are still a work in progress.

Milk

At the Beginning. Again, once Emma’s tummy is problem free for weeks, I introduced milk flavored mixed with gross chocolate syrup and taken with a Lactaid tablet for “insurance”.    Raw milk that is  from a local dairy farm that produces delicious, clean, whole, un-pasteurized milk.  Many believe that the enzymes and healthy bacteria found in milk direct from the cow are destroyed during pasteurization.  The lack of these enzymes makes milk a very difficult product to digest for many.  You would never drink milk from a cow that was meant to be pasteurized – that would make you sick.  The practices used to produce the milk starting from the diet are very different.  Baby Steps. Once Emma drank chocolate milk for 3-4 days I started decreasing the amount of syrup.  I also started using a sippy cup that was opaque so she could not see the color of the milk.  The Plunge. By the end of 2 weeks, she was drinking “chocolate milk” in a sippy cup that had no chocolate at all in it.  (Sly smile.)

Grains.

I have learned so much about these buggers.  Everybody knows white bread is bad, right?  Just checking.  But did you know that 100% whole wheat bread may be close to just as bad for you?  The reason is that the grains – whether they be wheat berries or oats, have something called phytic acid.  This is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Phytic acid is found within the hulls of nuts, seeds, and grains.[1] In-home food preparation techniques can reduce the phytic acid in all of these foods. Simply cooking the food will reduce the phytic acid to some degree. More effective methods are soaking in an acid medium, lactic acid fermentation, and sprouting.[6]

Phytic acid is a strong chelator of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, and can therefore contribute to mineral deficiencies in people whose diets rely on these foods for their mineral intake… It also acts as an acid, chelating the vitamin niacin, which is basic, causing the condition known as pellagra.[10] In this way, it is an anti-nutrient… For people with a particularly low intake of essential minerals, especially young children and those in developing countries, this effect can be undesirable…

At the Beginning. The last Doctor’s visit Emma went to she was told to stop eating all forms of wheat, rice, corn and soy.  And that’s what we did.  Meats and fruit.  Do you know how many products on the shelf contain those 4?  If you aren’t eating seaweed 24/7, they are in EVERYTHING.  It was impractical.  This had to be a plunge because of Emma’s condition.  Soaking grains was the solution to Emma’s grain allergies, and it’s helped the whole family.  You know how Grandma soaked the beans for 24 hours before cooking them?  This is what it’s about.  Anti-nutrients.  And you can do the same thing with oats, breads, rice, and corn.  I truly believe that this is the more practical approach to the gluten-free lifestyle, in most cases.  For celiacs, of course they can’t have gluten.  But for those with sensitivities, soak your grains!  You will feel fabulous!  A HUGE help for me with recipes has been Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  A side note – Emmanuel finally gave me the green light to buy my food mill and it should arrive this week so I can be grinding my own flours very soon!  If you are still reading this and live in San Antonio, come over and I’ll grind for free!

Snacks.

I should include this because although a seemingly small detail, snacks were previously ruining old Emma’s diet.  She would fill up in between meals (and in between destinations in the car) on Cheerios and Goldfish.  Then when we sat down to dinner, there was no appetite.  Sometimes she would eat the fun things like mashed potatoes, but there was no room in her tummy for the most nutritious items on her plate.  So this item was a complete plunge.  We quit snacks cold turkey.  There was crying in the car especially for about 5 days, and then it stopped.  She started eating more, thank goodness.  Snacks starting coming into our lives again around the holidays when we were traveling.  I cut up fruit, brought cheese sticks, rolled up pieces of ham and bought organic potato chips fried in expeller-pressed oils like sunflower (Central Market Organic brand).  They were mostly grain-free options.  Last week I finally tried making crackers from the Yogurt Dough recipe in Nourishing Traditions.  Oh man the kids are so grateful for these when we are on-the-go.  It’s nice to not feel guilty about a snack, too.  I will continue to make this, and practice getting them thin.

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Good Egg/Bad Egg

When it comes to eggs, not all are created equal.  The bad news is that yes, the conditions the chicken was raised in and the diet it eats really does matter.  The good news is that good eggs are well, so good for you, and so economical.  I personally buy Gold Circle Farms (red paper label) at HEB for $4 dozen when I can’t get to the Farmer’s Market.  There are a lot of people out there who’ll tell you that egg yolks are a bad source of cholesterol.  If you think so too, I encourage you to read this.  In my mind, logic would say that God created the egg as a wet slimy whole, to be eaten as a whole.  If you look at the egg yolk-it’s actually attached to the white with an umbilical cord-looking thing haha this is not sounding very appetizing 🙂  Logic would also tell you that if you see something nutritious that is appealing to the eye, it probably is good to eat.  You wouldn’t eat a head of lettuce that was brown and slimy, for example.  So, I will give you the easiest way to tell if your eggs are good eggs or bad eggs.  What color are the yolks?

Eggs

Eggs

A good-for-you egg is deep yellow almost orange and the white is still attached when thrown into a bowl.   A less-than egg yolk is light it color and in nutrition. The same is true about butter, by the way.  The deeper the color, the more nutritious it is. Notice the white is also more “attached” to it’s yolk?

Finally, if you don’t care much about the nutrition of eggs, say if you don’t eat them often (best breakfast you can have!) you may care about how inhumanely many chickens are treated.  Any heart-beating human must have a problem with this:  Undercover Investigation:  IHOP’s Egg Supplier. Infact, some go vegetarian after watching crap like this!  But if you eat eggs, and eat eggs out at a restaurant, it’s a must-watch.

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Marinara

It’s a hot debate in NY and probably everywhere.  Do you like your pizza thin-crusted or thick?  Cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, canadian bacon, sausage, olives…

Regardless, 75% of pizzas have one thing is common.  Marinara sauce.  In my opinion, it’s what makes the pizza (or the pasta for that matter).  I like both thick and thin pizza because it’s the flavor that counts.  Here in San Antonio, try Goomba’s and you can skip your trip to New York.  Those guys will even feed your kids free dinner.  Love them!

But!  We are talking about marinara sauce here.  So c’mon, confess.  Which one do you buy?  Ragu?  Progresso?  Do you make your own?  Which canned tomatoes do you use?

I used to make my own all the time because well, being from NY and growing up on the good stuff, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat marinara with sugar – I mean high fructose corn syrup – in it.  Sugar is not for marinara.  It’s for the cannoli.

Then I found Rao’s and the delicious world of Italian food away from home was just a trip to HEB away!  Rao’s has something on the ingredient list I like:  all things I can read and pronounce and cook with myself if I choose.  But it’s more than that.  It just tastes awesome!  So, the next time you make your pizza or pasta at home, spend the extra $5 on a good-quality sauce and watch your family LOVE it.

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