Smarter Than Pancakes

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What does your grocery list look like when you’re eating healthy?

Filed under: Healthy Junk Food,Meal Plans,Menu Planning,Opinions,WW Points — shaye3 @ 10:12 am

I’m on Weight Watchers again, and I’m working on my grocery list.  I was talking to a couple of Facebook friends earlier about the types of healthy foods we try to keep on hand when trying to eat healthy.  I shared a few things that I’ve come up with, but I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions!

Here are some of mine:

I hate to admit it, because I seriously do try to avoid processed foods when I can, but it’s a lot harder when you’re dieting or doing Weight Watchers.  I tend to keep a few Lean Cuisines or Lean Pockets in the freezer for emergencies or when I’m just feeling extremely lazy–they’re easy and don’t have a lot of points.  I also tend to keep a can of milk chocolate Slimfast powder in the cupboard for the same reason.  While I’m doing true confessions, I also use butter sprinkles or butter spray when I’m doing Weight Watchers.  Yes I know it’s like one molecule away from being plastic, but I still do it.  (There, I admitted it.)

Other than those seriously processed things…

I try to buy a lot of produce, then wash and chop it the next day so it’s easy to grab at a moment’s notice.  (Grocery shopping can be exhausting, so I usually never do it right when I get home from the store.)

I buy romaine & other lettuces, spinach, radishes, carrots, sprouts, and any other salad-bar things that would be low or no points.  I also get some slightly higher cal/higher protein items  like sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, olives,  and 2% cheese–but I try to make sure to weigh those things before putting on my salad because they can rack up points quickly.  I keep all of it–chopped, washed and ready to eat–in small containers in the fridge.  (My own little instant salad bar!) I also keep low cal salad dressing, which I also try to remember to measure when I use it when I’m counting points.  I try to make my own salad dressings because it’s hard to find dressings that don’t have HFCS.  The Annie’s dressings don’t, but I’m just not crazy about bottled dressings to begin with.

I also try to get stuff like zucchini, summer squash, fresh mushrooms, onions, eggplant, red peppers, and other similar veggies that I’ll chop up and saute in a small amount of olive oil while I’m prepping all my produce. (I usually saute them one at a time, then throw it all in together.  I just keep a big container of cooked veggies in the fridge so I can warm some in the microwave to go into my Egg Beaters omlet in the morning with a couple of Tbs. of 2% cheese.  It’s a fast, healthy, and fairly quick breakfast.

The other day, I figured out that I can peel and chop up an apple, throw it together with a little sweetener, pinch of salt, butter spray, cinnamon and nutmeg; and then nuke it until it’s soft.  It’s awesome on a toasted whole grain English Muffin when I’m craving a pastry.

When I buy any bread product, I check the label to make sure there’s no HFCS, then I check to make sure it says “Whole Wheat” or “Whole Grain”.  After that, I check the nutrition label to figure out which one has the most fiber and the fewest calories.  If there’s more than one that fits that criteria, I get the one that feels softer. 😉

In the summer, we love frozen grapes.  I’ll buy a bunch of grapes, wash them really well and cut the stems so that when you grab them you’ll get a proper serving size.  Then I just throw them in the freezer.  They work really well when you want something cold and sweet like a Popsicle.  (They don’t satisfy a chocolate craving though.  I’ve been known to keep the fat free Fudgesicles on hand for that purpose.  Only one point each!)

My doctor suggested another one to me.  He’s completely against all sweeteners.  (He prefers sugar or honey to HFCS, but would prefer we avoid all of them with the history of diabetes in our family.) He suggested that a calorie free, yet refreshing drink is flavored water.  He told me to take a pitcher of water and put in sliced lemons, limes, even cucumber.  Throw it in the fridge overnight, and it makes a really good drink.  I’ve tried cucumber water at a spa, but I keep meaning to do this at home.  I love to put water in the fridge anyway.  It’s handy to have cold water, and I swear it tastes better after the chlorine has had a chance to evaporate away.

We also love to make 5-minute tomato soup.  I’m pretty sure I’ve posted it on here before, but all you do is put a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan, warm it a little and then throw in a little fresh garlic.  (Roasted garlic is even better!) Then you let that sizzle for less than a minute before you add a can of crushed tomatoes and a little dried basil.  You let that simmer for about 5 minutes, then either take a stick blender to it, throw it in your regular blender, or leave it slightly chunky.  We love it, and it’s almost point free!

Ok, there are a few of my healthy food tricks.  Now it’s your turn to comment and share some of yours!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Very Good Taste Omnivore’s Hundred–the Shaye edition

Filed under: Opinions,Uncategorized — shaye3 @ 3:19 pm

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten. (Google all the items you’ve never heard of. -S)
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone (It’s endangered. -S)
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (Only if taking Kaopectate counts. -S)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Not too bad for a girl who lives in the boondocks!

(Thanks to Canarygirl for the link.)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

This Cheese is Proof That Jesus Loves Me

Filed under: Opinions,WW Points — shaye3 @ 5:41 pm
Tags: ,

We ran to Indy on a grocery shopping trip last night. We made the rounds and hit Costco, Trader Joe’s and Wild Oats–which has now officially turned into Whole Foods.

At Whole Foods, we were just browsing, and Steve picked up a wedge of cheese and said “Oooooo, smell this!”

(Now, you can’t always trust my husband when he hands you something to smell. One of our favorite games back when we still had a Yankee Candle store nearby was called “Yuck, smell this!” Where you’d pick up something horrid, but not let on that it’s horrid until after the other person had taken a big, gag inducing whiff. Fortunately, this was not one of those times.)

This cheese smelled like the food of the gods! We immediately threw it into our cart, and went on our merry way. By afternoon today, the half pound block is gone.

I decided to Google the name of the cheese to see what I could find out about it. (When did I become the type of person who Googles cheeses?)

Here’s what I learned–It’s called Parrano Uniekaas. This is what the Zabar’s website said about it. (The above picture is also from Zabar’s site.):

It’s Dutch, but sort of Italian. How can this be? Dutch cheese producer UnieKaas has taken the best qualities of Gouda and parmesan and created this 20-month-aged pasteurized cow’s milk wheel. Tasting tangy, full-flavored, and nutty, its smooth, semi-firm texture makes it an ideal grating or table cheese.

The Cheese Reporter said that it is imported by Best Cheese Corporation, and that Best Cheese products can be found at Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Albertson’s and Kroger. (And obviously Zabar’s if you live in the New York area.)

Oh. My. Gosh. Part of the reason I’m posting about it is to recommend it to everyone I know. The other reason is so that I’ll be able to remember the name later when I go back to find more…next week. 😉

(Oh, and just in case you’re wondering–I calculated it, and a 100 gram serving has 10.5 ww points.)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Staples (It’s what for dinner!)

Filed under: Opinions — shaye3 @ 10:53 pm
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Nope, not the metal bits that keep your papers together or even office supply store–the must have grocery items!

I was just reading this entry on The Delish, and started thinking about what staples I keep around. Not very long ago, I asked many of my foodie friends just what they kept in their larder. I kind of started my list there, and have been adding and subtracting things according to what I use most.

I imagine there are other people who are trying to come up with their list of must-have grocery items, so I thought I’d throw mine out there. You can do what you want with the information. (Ok, if you sell it for a lot of money, I want at least a cut. Come to think of it, I also want to know how you found someone who would pay you a bunch of money for my grocery list!)

I’d post pictures of my fridge, freezer, and pantries; but they’re all pits of despair. I really need to spend an afternoon cleaning them all out. It seems like I just did that, but for some reason they all need organizing again. (Would someone please invent a self-cleaning refrigerator?)

I will show you a picture of my spice cabinet. I love Penzey’s spices. They have a store in Indianapolis that I visit regularly. Their spices are fresher and cheaper than anything you can get in a grocery store! (This is just the cabinet with the jars of spices. I have another big plastic bin of bags of the things I use a lot of like chili powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, basil, parsley, etc. in another pantry.)

There are a lot of things on my list that I can’t find in my local Kroger. (Sometimes I can find things at Kroger, but at twice the price.) I try to get a lot of my produce from the farmers’ market or our local fruit stand. (But in Indiana, they’re only open a few months over the summer.)

I have to make a trip to Indy at least once a month to get other things that aren’t readily available here. I get most of my flours and dry goods from the bulk bins at Wild Oats/Whole Foods in Indy. I get a lot of my nut butters, jams, and canned goods at Trader Joe’s. Costco rules for nuts and dried fruits. (Luckily for me, I live less than an hour from the north side of Indy, and all of these store can be found close to a stretch of 86th St. in or around a burg called Castleton on the north side of Indy.)

Ok, before you look at my list, please keep in mind that I’m *trying* to avoid processed foods, but I’m not a fanatic. I try to avoid anything with more than five ingredients, but I there are still a few processed things that I buy like fake meat. I also still keep white flour and sugar on hand–but I swear I try to use healthier options most of the time!

Canned Goods
tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes (I want to learn to can my own this summer though.)
beans (pinto, garbanzo, black, cannellini, red kidney, green)
mushroom pieces (for pizzas)
cans and cartons of broth (mostly veggie, sometimes beef, some chicken and some mock-chicken depending on my mood)
diced pimientos (for pizzas)
black olives
chipotles in adobo (store them in the freezer once you open them)
artichoke hearts
light coconut milk
evaporated skimmed milk
fruit packed in juice
jarred applesauce (Those last two I keep on hand for the kid. I’d like to learn to can my own though.)

Condiments (check ingredients for hfcs)
vinegar (red wine, rice, balsamic, white balsamic, cider, white)
Worcestershire sauce
Cholula and Pickapeppa sauces
yellow mustard, ketchup, canola mayo, Dijon mustard
jams, preserves, fruit butters (like apple butter or pumpkin butter)
nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew, cashew-macadamia)
low sodium tamari soy sauce and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
pickles/relishes/capers
miso (I only have red right now, but I’ve gotten yellow before)

Oils
extra virgin olive oil
canola oil
walnut oil
sesame oil
pan spray (I like to use regular oil in a mister bottle, but my mister got gunky and died. I’ve been using generic Pam lately.)

Dry Goods
dried fruit (raisins, currants, plums, apricots, blueberries, goji berries, dates, cherries, cranberries, mangoes–I usually get big bags of dried fruit at Costco to keep in the pantry for snacking, baking and putting in oatmeal. Maybe I’ll break down and get a dehydrator and make my own!)
nuts (I currently have pine nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts and pecans in my freezer.)
dried lentils (red and brown)
dried split peas
oatmeal (steel cut and rolled)
dried beans (I think I have great northern, garbanzos, and a few others.)
pasta (I try to get whole grain. All different shapes. We’ve recently fallen in love with soba noodles.)
flours (whole wheat pastry, White Lily soft for biscuits, bread flower, regular whole wheat flour)
sugars (honey, molasses, agave nectar, white & brown)
vital wheat gluten
nutritional yeast
regular yeast for breads
grains (barley, millet, quinoa, bulgur, polenta, whole wheat couscous–I know couscous is a pasta, but I keep it with my grains)
rices (I try to get the brown versions, but some like arborio need to be white to make decent risotto.)
sun dried tomatoes
dried mushroom

Produce
celery
carrots
zucchini
apples
lemons
oranges
fresh ginger (sometimes I keep it in the freezer)
garlic
sweet potatoes
potatoes
onions (red and yellow or white)
greens of some sort (I usually buy a head of romaine or green leaf lettuce, chop it up, rinse it, send it through my salad spinner, and then just store it in the salad spinner in the fridge.)
(I buy lots of other produce items, these are just the things I always keep on hand.)

Frozen Foods
firm tofu (It doesn’t come frozen, but I store it in the freezer.)
edamame (I just found shelled edamame in my grocer’s freezer. I did a happy dance!)
corn
baby peas
whole strawberries (No sugar added.)
mixed berries (Also no sugar added.)
Quorn fake chicken products
Morningstar Farms fake sausage crumbles (for pizza) and fake corndogs (for Simon’s lunches)
Other veggie burgers (Frequently homemade, but sometimes not.)
fish & seafood (I like seafood, but we don’t have it very often. I have salmon, scallops, and some tilapia in there right now. Try to avoid farm raised fish if you can though.)
meat (We usually only have meat a couple of times a week, but I think I have some ground beef, some ground lamb, and some chicken breasts in there right now.)

Other Refrigerated
organic milk (We think it tastes a lot better, and I’m afraid of hormones and antibiotics.)
soy milk
eggs (I get the best eggs from a family from my church. Their chickens live in their yard, and the eggs are amazing!)
cheeses (a hunk of parm, some mozzarella, something for grilled cheese sandwiches like colby-jack, chèvre, and who knows what else. We’re cheese addicts. I prefer to grate my own because the pre-grated has some kind of starchy crap in it to keep the shreds apart.)
That’s all I can think of at the moment. I would love to hear what items are must haves for you. (The things that you know you have to immediately replace when you run out or you’ll be in trouble the next time you cook.)

What have you bought and never used? (Mine would be fish sauce. If you buy it, NEVER smell it!)

Please, please, please comment at will!

Friday, May 9, 2008

School Lunch

Filed under: Opinions — shaye3 @ 7:51 pm
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Sorry I’ve been incommunicado for the past couple of days. I went with my son’s second grade class on a field trip to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum on Thursday. While I was at the school when we got back, one of the lunch ladies asked me if I could volunteer to help serve lunch today (Friday).

I meant to take pictures of the stuff I made for our sack lunches on Thursday, but I got busy and forgot. I’m going to recreate them sometime over the weekend and post pics and recipes for you, but for now I can just tell you that we had cherry vanilla ricotta muffins and homemade strawberry-banana yogurt. (We had a few other things in our lunches, but those are the major recipes I want to share with you in the immediate future.) 😉

Gratuitous Field Trip Shot:
Gratuitous Field Trip Shot

I thought I would also describe in detail the lunch I helped prepare for the students of my son’s school today. (And yes, my son took his lunch as usual.)

Today’s lunch was grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, crackers, dill pickle spears, and fruit cocktail.

I looked at each package, and the children didn’t get a single thing in their lunches that didn’t contain high fructose corn syrup–including the milk. They can pick between chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or plain milk. For each case of plain white milk they sell, they sell six cases of the other flavors. NONE of the children ever choose plain milk.

I’ve volunteered at my son’s school fairly frequently, and it just so happens that I’ve made this lunch before–so I can describe to you exactly what it entails. (And you can see exactly why Simon brings his lunch from home.)

First–Open the industrial sized cans of fruit cocktail. Drain them, put them in a hotel pan, cover with plastic wrap, and place in either the fridge. (I put them in the freezer because I like fruit cold and the fruit doesn’t get cold if you put it in the fridge for two or three hours.)

Then–You open the jars of pickle spears, drain them, put them in a hotel pan, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the fridge. (Freezer again.)

Next–You open the industrial sized cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. Pour them with the appropriate amount of water into hotel pans, cover with foil, and put it into the oven until the internal temperature reaches 165.

Finally–You get out the industrial sized loaves of Wonder bread, a huge tub of margarine, and some huge packages of pre-sliced American cheese. Take a rubber spatula and slap some margarine on one side of the bread, throw two slices of cheese in the middle, and then slap on another slice of margarined bread. Stack these on a plastic tray, and cover them with plastic wrap until time to grill.

A short time before serving, you pull out two large electric griddles and start grilling them sixteen at a time. As they’re finished, you take a knife (I use a pizza cutter), cut them in half, and put them four deep in a hotel pan that you pop in to a warming oven until it’s time for them to be used.

At serving time, you put the soup in disposable styrofoam bowls, but everything else with the soup on disposable styrofoam trays, and serve with a disposable plastic spoon. (Today was special, usually they get a disposable plastic spork.)

I wish I could say that this lunch is worse than normal, but all of the lunches that I’ve helped with have involved canned veggies, canned fruit, and processed main dishes that are reheated in an oven–and all served with so much disposable wear that they fill an entire dumpster in less than a week.

I never used to be this crunchy granola, but seeing this really helps strengthen my resolve to make Simon’s lunches, pack them in reusable containers, and send reusable cutlery. I’d say I even send a cloth napkin, but to be honest with you, Simon never actually uses his napkin anyway. I send the same one (with directions to use it) for at least three or four days in a row. If he starts using them on a regular basis, I might start sending reusable napkins, too.

(I promise to take pictures and post the yogurt and muffin recipes very soon!)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Opinions

Filed under: Opinions — shaye3 @ 3:52 pm
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Here are a few things that are just not right in my opinion:

  • “Chocolate” made with vegetable oil rather than cocoa butter. (There’s a reason those football shaped chocolate Easter eggs are so nasty.)
  • Of the 35 million pounds of antibiotics consumed each year, 24 million of those are consumed by livestock. (Livestock that probably wouldn’t need antibiotics if they were fed the food they were designed to eat and given adequate room to move around.)
  • The practice of boiling ribs before grilling. (Yuck! PLEASE tell me you don’t boil the flavor out of your ribs! If you can’t smoke them, at least throw them in a low oven for several hours so the connective tissue can cook properly.)
  • Restaurant servers who call me “Hon” or “Sweetie”. (If you aren’t in my immediate family, please don’t use false terms of endearment with me.)
  • People who salt food before they even taste it. (Nuff said.)
  • People who think a meal isn’t a meal if it isn’t comprised of a meat and two veg. (That is a hard mindset to escape from since it was drummed in many of us from such an early age. Learning to eat vegetarian was tricky! And I swear we really don’t eat meat that often, I just have a lot of opinions about meat.)
  • People who think they won’t like something before trying it. (I tell my eight year old that we develop new taste buds every seven years. Even if he didn’t like something the last time he tried it, his new taste buds might like it more.)
  • The fact that I still haven’t mastered making rice on the stovetop. (I can make it in the oven and I can make it in my rice cooker, but my stovetop efforts are always a dismal failure.)

Here are some of my loves:

  • The discovery that bacon can be cooked in the oven. (Throw it on a rack on a sheet pan at 400 until it’s done to your liking. No turning, no curled pieces, no spattering, very little mess. Awesome!)
  • Small appliances. (The number of small appliances I own borders on obscene. I have an extra closet off my kitchen to keep them in, and I inherited most of them–which is my favorite excuse for having so many.)
  • Sharp knives. (I hadn’t realized how dull my knives had gotten until I got a couple of new ones long long ago. I swear it’s like being a new person!)
  • Seasonal produce. (I live in Indiana, which means we don’t get fresh local produce until at least late May–if we’re lucky! I wait with baited breath for our farmers’ markets to open!)
  • The *idea* of having a vegetable garden. (We haven’t actually planted a vegetable garden in years, but I’m very excited about the garden we’re currently planning for this summer.)
  • Successful new recipes. (Let me tell you, I’ve tried some real clunkers. And sometimes it isn’t even my fault!)
  • Having people over for dinner. (My New Year’s resolution for 2007 was to try to have someone over for dinner once a week. We didn’t make it *every* week, but we sure had a great time when we did have people over.)
  • My laptop. (Between my recipe software and all of the recipes and food advice that I’ve gotten from various sources on the internet, I wouldn’t be half the cook I am today without my laptop.)

What are some of your peeves/faves??? (Inquiring minds want to know!)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hello world!

Filed under: Opinions — shaye3 @ 4:33 pm
Tags: , ,

Word press started my first post for me, so I decided to keep the title they gave it. Works for me.

I’ve decided to start a dedicated blog about food that will include recipes, pictures, and my own personal food musings.

I’ve been cooking since I was about eight years old, and I think I’ve become pretty good at it. I am fascinated by recipes and nutrition. I read cookbooks for fun. (What a geek!)

I don’t have Photoshop, so when my pictures look more like a snapshot that some woman took in her kitchen, (as opposed to something created by food stylists and photographed by a pro,) please keep that in mind.

I find that food as a topic of conversation is almost as risky as politics and nutrition now a days. You have the low-fat people, the low-carb people, the slow-food people, the restaurant people, the cook-from-scratch people, the cook-from-cans-and-boxes people, people who eat to live, people who live to eat, and lots of people in between! And it seems like people frequently express stronger opinions about food than they do religion or politics.

I’m no exception to this, so I’ll tell you that I’m a cook-from-scratch person for the most part. I tend to follow the teachings of Michael Pollan when he says “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” He espouses trying to eat real foods, and avoiding food-like substances that are mostly made of highly processed chemicals. I have so many friends who think that is a really hard thing to do, but with a little planning is really isn’t that much harder than cooking from mixes.

People sometimes think that opening a cake mix is so much easier than baking one from scratch, but when you have a good recipe it is so worth it to spend the extra five minutes measuring out the ingredients rather than opening a box. And I realize that it is a little more involved to boil some noodles and make a quick white sauce and melt in real cheese for your mac and cheese, as opposed to opening a package of florescent orange cheese-like powder–but can you really compare the two when it comes to taste and nutrition?

Another thing I’ve learned from Michael Pollan (and my doctor) is to avoid high-fructose corn syrup when at all possible. According to my doctor’s research, most of the type II diabetes, pre-diabetes and obesity that seem to be running rampant in our population can be traced directly back to hfcs. My doc told me that when we eat or drink something with hfcs in it, our blood sugar spikes sky high. Almost as quickly, our pancreas starts pumping out the hormones like insulin to counteract, and our sugar bottoms out. As soon as we bottom out, we mistakenly start to think we’re hungry again, so we go back for another snack–that probably also contains hfcs if it’s processed food. Our blood sugar starts to have levels that look like they’ve been created by a high-bounce ball, and our poor pancreas spends so much time counteracting all of the hfcs, and our bodies eventually start to wear out. And if you don’t think you consume much high-fructose corn syrup, you’re so mistaken. Pick up almost every processed thing you eat, and it’s there. I’m sure you immediately think it’s only in the sweet stuff like soda–and you’re right. Hfcs is second only to carbonated water in non-diet sodas in the U.S.

Because of corn subsidies in the United States, hfcs is much cheaper than sugar for food processors to use, so it’s in almost everything sweet you can think of like candy, cookies, and cakes; but it’s ALSO in things you’d never realize like bread products, cereals, Stove Top stuffing, most sweetened drinks and juices, toaster waffles, most condiments (ketchup, salad dressing, bbq sauce, pickles, jelly, syrup, steak sauce, Miracle Whip and light mayo), crackers, and soups. Trust me when I say it is NOT easy to avoid.

Another soap box with my footprints on it is the one that supports eating local and organic when feasible. In my opinion, eating local is much more important than looking for the “Organic” seal. Most of the food that you might find at your local farmers’ market was probably produced in a pretty organic manner, but the folks growing it just didn’t bother fighting the government red tape to become officially certified. I find that the person I’m buying from was usually the same one who tended the garden, and can tell me in pretty good detail how the food was grown. And before you start thinking I’m one of those west coast, crunchy granola people–I should tell you that I live in a small town in central Indiana! You can find farmers markets in every state over the summer, you just have to do a little homework to figure out where! (I googled to find mine!)

As far as organics are concerned, you can bet that our family can’t afford to eat everything organic, but I do believe that produce grown with chemical fertilizers can’t possibly be as nutritious as produce grown using natural fertilizers like compost. I understand that scientists have figured out that certain chemicals make plants grow, but I don’t believe that scientists know everything there is to know about nutrition and how foods work within our bodies. I also don’t believe that just because a plant is growing with chemical fertilizers means is as well nourished or as nourishing as one grown in more traditional ways. Not only that, but think about how much better veggies fresh from the garden taste compared to grocery store veggies. There’s nothing like a late Summer tomato–especially not those nasty red rocks they try to pass off as tomatoes in my Kroger over the winter. Bleh!

Milk is the one thing that I always buy organic. We can taste a real difference, and I’m really trying to avoid the hormones and unnecessary antibiotics that come with non-organic milk. I think it’s nutritionally a wash though, since the organic milks are usually ultra-pasteurized. It’s nice that my milk doesn’t go bad for months and months in my fridge, but I’m not sure that the extra heat doesn’t kill off everything beneficial while also killing the bad guys.

I understand perfectly if you don’t agree with me on some of my hot-button issues. Trust me when I say that one way or the other, you’ll still probably find something that looks pretty good to you once I get started posting.

I intend to spend some quality time in the next few days trying to figure out all of WordPress’s tricks, and then I’ll become a recipe posting fool!

Please stay tuned!!!

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