Artificial Flavors

artificial flavors

Artificial Flavors

Ingredient name:

Artificial flavors

Other names it might be listed under:

This one is pretty easy to spot, since it is always listed as artificial flavors or artificial flavoring.

Why are they used in food?

Artificial flavors are used in foods that have been so processed they have no naturally occurring flavors left.  Scientists create imitations of these natural flavors in a lab using hundreds of synthetic chemicals, and those are added back into the food.  It is a much cheaper way for manufacturers to give a product the taste of what they are trying to sell you, without giving you the actual food that you might assume is in the product.

Why are they bad for us?

Manufacturers are not required to disclose exactly what chemicals are in their artificial flavors, as these are considered “trade secrets”, as long as they ingredient is “generally regarded as safe”.  So even though there might be 100 different chemical ingredients, all they have to list is “artificial flavors”.  Many chemicals used in artificial flavors are derived from petroleum, and many of the chemicals are volatile.  They have been shown to have an adverse effect on RNA, the thyroid, and enzymes.

Another big problem with artificial flavors is that because the specific ingredients are not required to be listed, someone with a food intolerance could unknowingly consume something that could cause a bad reaction.  This could also pose a problem for someone who abstains from certain foods, like animal by-products. for religious reasons, health reasons, or personal beliefs.

You also might want to know that artificial flavors are whipped up in a lab by the same people who make perfumes, cause it is all the same stuff.

What foods can you find them in?

If it is a processed food item, you are going to want to look at the label.  Chances are though, if you see artificial flavors listed in the ingredients, there are probably about 15 other ingredients that are just as bad or worse.  Just so you know though, “natural flavors” aren’t necessarily much better, so don’t be fooled by those claims.

 

Trans Fat

trans fat

Trans Fat

Ingredient name:

Trans fat

Other names it might be listed under:

Partially hydrogenated oil (soybean, vegetable, etc.), margarine, shortening, hydrogenated oil

Why is it used in food?

Trans fats are created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. They are cheaper oils to produce, and they are used to extend shelf life and prevent foods from spoiling for a very long time. They also make foods feel less greasy.

Why is it bad for us?

Trans fat is kind of a double whammy. Not only does it raise the levels of your LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff), it also lowers the level of your HDL cholesterol (the good stuff).  This does not make for a good combination, as this very much increases your risk for heart disease, which we know is one of the leading killers of both men and women today.

What foods can you find it in?

  • spreads (margarine, shortening, etc.)
  • commercially baked goods (cookies, cakes, donuts, etc.)
  • packaged mixes (Bisquick, cake mixes)
  • canned/packaged soups
  • ramen noodles
  • deep fried foods
  • fast food
  • frozen food (pizzas, waffles, pot pies, etc.)
  • chips and crackers
  • cereals and breakfast bars
  • candy
  • salad dressings
  • nondairy creamer and flavored coffee
  • whipped toppings
  • gravy mixes

In case you are not aware, there is a loophole in the labeling law that allows any product with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving to be labeled as having 0 grams trans fat. If you are eating only one serving it is probably fine, but if you end up eating several servings at one time (we all know serving sizes can be pretty ridiculous in packaged foods), or eat many items throughout the day that contain small amounts, this can add up.

Girl Scout Cookies with Vitamins?

Mango cremes

Girl Scout Cookies with Vitamins?

It’s that time of year again, when you can’t leave the grocery store without passing by the table of smiling children trying to sell you America’s favorite Girl Scout Cookies. In the past I have avoided buying them whenever I could, either by smiling a polite, “no thanks”, avoiding eye contact, or using the old “sorry but I don’t have any cash” excuse. This is actually almost always true, but they probably would whip out their iPhones to take my credit card number these days, so that one might not work anymore.

The reason I didn’t want to buy them had nothing to do with their horrible ingredient list, but because I have absolutely zero self control around chocolate.  If I bought a box of Girl Scout cookies, that thing would not stand a chance of making it through the night. Thin Mints are like crack to me, and now I know why. Just kidding, there is no crack in Thin Mints (that I know of anyway), but it might as well be for how they make me feel.

Thin-Mints-Crack-Ingredient

So there would go a box, and there I would be feeling awful physically and emotionally. Beating myself up about the 1100 calories I just ate due to my lack of willpower, and feeling sluggish from the overload of sugar. That is not going to happen this year though, because now that I know exactly what is in the cookies, I don’t have much desire to eat them.  Lots of fat, some of it being the awful trans fat, lots of sugar, a variety of potentially genetically modified ingredients, and natural and artificial colors. I would much rather make my own, with organic ingredients. I won’t though, because like a recovering alcoholic should not have even one drink, I should not even have one cookie as my self control goes out the window.

The reason for this post though is not to talk about my amazing addiction to chocolate, but to highlight the newest Girl Scout cookie flavor, wait for it…Mango Creme with NutriFusion.  My first question is this: Did they run this one by a focus group, because no cookie lover would ever approve that name!  Mango Creme would have been suffice, but this whole “NutriFusion” thing sounds like they are marketing jet fuel or something. I get it. They want you to know how health conscious they are being by adding a few vitamins into their cookies. And while there is no trans fat in this flavor, there is a solid amount of saturated fat, as well as the genetically modified stuff . I say enjoy yourself some Girl Scout Cookies if you like them,  just don’t be fooled, it’s still a cookie. I would appreciate the health conscious efforts more if they were focusing on things like removing the trans fats and high fructose corn syrup from all their cookies, instead of pretending that we should be eating cookies for the vitamins.

 

Aspartame Dangers

aspartame

Aspartame Dangers

Ingredient name:

Aspartame

Other names it might be listed under:

NutraSweet, Equal, Canderel, Spoonful, Natrataste, AminoSweet,

Why is it used in food?

It is used in diet and sugar free foods as it is 200 times sweeter than sugar, but has only a few calories.

Why is it bad for us?

For several reasons. First, it is an excitotoxin like MSG, meaning it “excites” neural cells to death. But who needs neural cells really??? It is also believed to be carcinogenic, and is responsible for more complaints to the FDA for adverse affects than all other food additives combined.  From these complaints submitted, they made public 92 symptoms attributed to aspartame. Some of these 92 things are headaches, migraines, blurry vision, dizziness, gastrointestinal upset, tumors, and even cancer.

In addition, the loss of neural cells has been shown to contribute to some pretty serious conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Systemic Lupus, Epilepsy, Parkinson’s and more.  I just came across an story yesterday about a woman who thought she was dying from MS, and it turned out it was her diet soda habit that was causing the symptoms, and once she stopped drinking the soda her symptoms went away. Even with all of these complaints, it is still approved for human consumption by our glorious FDA.

Aspartame is made up of some pretty nasty ingredients. Forty percent is aspartic acid, which is the excitotoxin responsible for neural damage. Ten percent of aspartame is methanol (wood alcohol), and it has been shown that the body breaks that down into toxic formic acid, and formaldehyde. So you know, the stuff they embalm dead bodies with, and the stuff that preserved the dead pigs before you dissected them back in high school.

Fifty percent of aspartame is phenylalanine, which is an amino acid found in the brain. The problem with phenylalanine in aspartame is that prolonged use can overload your brain, which then leads to a decrease in serotonin production, which then leads to emotional issues like depression. In fact, you may have seen some of the articles in recent weeks about how diet soda leads to depression, and this is the reason why.

What food can you find it in?

  • diet sodas
  • sugar free sodas and drinks
  • gum
  • sugar free products
  • tabletop sweeteners
  • yogurt
  • breath mints
  • gelatins
  • frozen desserts
  • instant breakfasts
  • drink powders
  • flavored waters

So you might want to put down that can of Diet Coke and spit out your sugar free gum! If you have a soda habit and you are worried about calories, you are better off drinking plain old Coke. Aspartic acid and phenylalanine trigger the release of insulin and leptins, hormones that stimulate the body to store fat. On top of that, the lower serotonin levels caused by the excess phenylalanine lead to food cravings, so ultimately you end up way worse off by trying to go the “diet” route.

 

Artificial Colors

artificial colors

Artificial Colors

Ingredient name:

Artificial Colors

Other names it might be listed under:

The most commonly used dyes in the United States are:

Blue #1

Red #40

Yellow #5

Other widely used, FDA approved colors:

Blue #2

Green #3

Red #3

Yellow #6

 

Why are they in food?

To make things look appetizing, delicious and exciting.  They are so widely used in kids products to make things appear fun and to attract their attention.

 

Why are they bad for us?

Most artificial colors are made with a host of nasty chemicals, petroleum included.  The most widely used artificial food colorings may be linked to numerous forms of cancer. Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are contaminated with known carcinogens, and Red 3 has been acknowledged for years by the FDA as being a carcinogen. Does that stop them from allowing it into our food supply? Nope.  Also, most of these dyes have been linked to behavioral issues in children, causing hyperactivity and aggravating ADD and ADHD symptoms.  Many people are actually even allergic to these dyes, and most likely do not even pinpoint them as the root of the problem.

It should be noted that countries in Europe have completely banned some of these dyes altogether, and any product that does contain them bears a warning label that reads, “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”. It should also be noted that these mega food corporations use the safer, natural colorings for the products they manufacture for other countries, but for us they keep on serving up all the toxic crap. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is a prime example of this.  We get Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, the United Kingdom gets Paprika Extract and Beta-Carotene.  Kellogs Nutri-Grain Bars? We get Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1,  the United Kingdom gets Beetroot Red, Annatto Extract and Paprika Extract.   If you would like to read more about how we are further given the shaft in the United States, check out my other post here.

 

What food can you find them in?

  • candy
  • cereals
  • chips
  • yogurt
  • strawberry cream cheese
  • baked goods
  • cookies
  • colored drinks
  • gelatin desserts
  • pet food
  • ice cream
  • make up
  • sausage
  • pickles
  • anything bright or neon colored
  • kids medicines
  • kids toothpaste
  • and a million other places

Of all the ingredients to avoid, this is one that really gets my goat the most.  We have toxic, carcinogenic, allergic reaction producing, hyperactivity creating chemicals that are marketed so heavily in all things kid related.  Before I began this learning process, I knew the dyes were in the obvious places like M&M’s and Skittles, Kool-Aid, Cheetos and decorative sprinkles, and I looked to minimize our exposure to those. But I had no idea that my kids toothpaste, or the Children’s Motrin, or even a dang pickle had dyes in it. It is impossible to go a day without being exposed to these artificial colors.  To avoid them, check the ingredients list, as they are usually listed last. Steer clear of anything that says ‘made with artificial colors’, and buy whole, unprocessed foods when possible.  There are plenty of alternative ways to create these colors using natural, healthy ingredients, so if you are into baking you can check this site out for options.

 

 

 

 

 

High Fructose Corn Syrup Side Effects

high fructose corn syrup side effects

High Fructose Corn Syrup Side Effects

Ingredient name:

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Other names it might be listed under:

Possibly glucose/fructose, but typically just as high fructose corn syrup.

Why is it in food?

HFCS is a used as a sweetener. It is very cheap to produce and therefore is used abundantly.

Why is it bad for us?

HFCS is a form of sugar, and like any sugar it should be limited.  It is very hard for our bodies to digest, and isn’t easily metabolized by the liver, leading to fat deposits on the liver. High fructose corn syrup contributes to a build up of plaque and therefore a narrowing of the blood vessels.  Aside from cardiovascular disease and fatty liver disease, high fructose corn syrup is connected to diabetes, obesity, an increase in the aging process, damage to the immune system, and even possibly exposure to mercury. An impaired immune system can lead to a variety of ailments ranging from asthma and food allergies to autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.

What food can you find it in?

It might be easier to talk about which foods you can’t find it in, because good grief, this stuff is everywhere!

  • bread and other baked goods (english muffins, rolls, etc.)
  • cereal
  • breakfast bars
  • lunch meats
  • yogurts
  • soups
  • condiments
  • jellies
  • canned fruits
  • soda
  • fruit drinks
  • tomato based sauces (pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce,ketchup, barbecue sauce etc.)
  • salad dressing
  • processed boxed foods (i.e. macaroni and cheese)
  • packaged nuts
  • tonic
  • applesauce
  • cough syrups

Make sure you check all labels, and avoid this stuff whenever you can. And remember – try and buy organic whenever possible when it comes to corn products, as corn is one of the most heavily genetically modified ingredients in the country.

 

 

 

 

 

MSG – Side Effects and Why You Should Avoid It

msg side effects

MSG – Side Effects and Why You Should Avoid It

Ingredient name:

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Other names it might be listed under:

Since people have gotten a little more informed about avoiding MSG, food manufacturers have had to get tricky in their labeling so they can slip it by you. There are more than 40 different ingredients that contain processed free glutamic acid, which is the chemical that causes a reaction in the human body.

Always found here:

hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, vegetable protein extract, yeast extract, glutamate, glutamic acid, sodium caseinate, textured protein, soy protein isolates, barley malt, calcium caseinate, malt extract, autolyzed yeast, autolyzed vegetable protein, and citric acid (ANYTHING with glutamate or hydrolyzed in the name)

Often found here:

carrageenan, bouillon, citric acid, maltodextrin, any “flavors” or”flavoring”, soy sauce

Why is it in food?

It is used plain and simple as a flavor enhancer, a seasoning.  It helps cheaply produced, poor quality food taste really good.

Why is it bad for us?

MSG side effects: It is a neurotoxin that damages cells by overexciting them, often to the point of cell death. It operates by stimulating the production of dopamine, so it makes you feel very good for a little while. It also interferes with the part of the brain that tells you that you are full, so you continue to eat more and more. By doing so, you end up killing brain cells and eating way too much, which leads to obesity.  Unfortunately it is also extremely addictive. The old “You can’t eat just one” slogan takes on new meaning now, doesn’t it? It can also produce other reactions, like headaches, diarreah, upset stomachs, heart irregularities, mood swings and even liver damage.

What food can you find it in?

Because MSG is one of the most widely used food additives, it is everywhere in processed foods. Some examples:

  • Fast food – particularly chicken/beef products and salad dressings (KFC® is the worst offender)
  • Canned soups – Campbell’s®, Progresso®, etc.
  • Canned “meals” – Spaghettio’s®, etc.
  • Chips – Doritos®, Pringles®, etc.
  • Canned/packaged gravies
  • Salad dressings
  • Instant soup/salad dressing mixes
  • Sausage
  • Some infant formula/baby food
  • Some cosmetics/shampoos, etc.
  • Some vaccines

 

 

 

2012 Real Food In Review

2013plate

2012 Real Food In Review

As the year comes to a close, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the many changes that I have made when it comes to eating. This was my first year of ‘getting real’, and considering that my year didn’t even start until mid-September, I feel like I have come a pretty long way. My approach has been to learn all that I can about food, and then make better choices about everything. Perhaps next year I will be doing one step above and making the best choices. I would also like to remind my readers that cooking is not my strong suit, nor do I particularly enjoy it.

When I started this journey in September, it was by embarking on a total elimination diet for one month to try and identify any food intolerances that might be giving me the allergy like symptoms I have been experiencing for years.  The elimination diet meant no gluten, wheat, dairy, corn, soy, nightshades,  sugar, caffeine or alcohol.  Yes, it was a hard month. After the month was up I was able to slowly add corn, soy, tomatoes and eggs back in. From there I added an occasional glass of wine, and have been maintaining the diet for the most part (although I have definitely fallen off the wagon with the holidays). A blood test indicated that I have sensitivities to about 50 different foods, so I am now supposed to cut out such things as blueberries, chicken, eggs, avocado and spinach to name a few.  I have not really adhered to this part yet, but plan to get strict with it after New Year’s.

Not only was I trying to figure out the root of my allergy symptoms, but we were trying to tackle my husband’s diagnosis of cutaneous lupus through a healthy diet. I can happily report that he has been completely medicine free for six months and has had no new flare-ups since changing his diet. It was because of his lupus that I started learning as much as I could about the effects of food on health.

Grocery Shopping

I used to make one big trip to the grocery store, usually on Sunday or Monday. I might have to pop back over for one or two things during the week,  but I really tried to get all I needed in that one trip because I do not enjoy grocery shopping at all.  Now I make at least 2-3 trips to the local supermarket (Publix), I make a trip about two times a month to the big healthy grocery store about 30 minutes away, I regularly hit up our local health food store, and I go to the farmer’s market each week.

When I first was learning about all the dangers of processed foods and GMO’s, a trip to Publix became more like a nightmare. Everything I had once bought now seemed toxic and poisonous. I remember seeing a guy walking out with a bag of corn for a barbecue and instead of thinking oh, what a nice, innocent reminder of summertime as a kid, all I could think was don’t eat that, it’s full of crap! It was all a little overwhelming to say the least.

You know how they always say to shop the perimeter of the grocery store for the healthiest stuff? I used to scoff at that, thinking there was plenty of good stuff in the middle as long as you chose the “low-fat” or the “natural” items. Now I feel like I have actually figured that truth out and do stick with the perimeter for everything other than rice/pasta, cereal and spices.

All in all, you could say that grocery shopping got a whole lot more complicated and time consuming, but I am getting more efficient as I am figuring things out.

Microwave

I have a great friend, the one who inspires me the most when it comes to making healthy choices.  In fact, I like to say WWZD? or What Would Zuzia Do?  when I am faced with a decision about health.  She does not own a microwave and never uses one. When I first met her, I thought it was a bit extreme (sorry girl!). What a pain in the rear not to use a microwave, because man they are so convenient. Then, in my research, I came across reference after reference to just how bad the microwave is for our food, and it inspired this post.

NO-microwave-500x315

We stopped using the microwave about two months ago, and the transition has actually been really easy considering that we were probably microwaving 2-3 meals a day. I have used it 2 or 3 times for organic popcorn, but I know that it can easily be done on the stove, and that will be on the docket for 2013.  Now we warm things up in the toaster oven, the regular oven, or on the stove. Sure, it takes a bit longer but it is worth it. It seemed silly to spend all the time and effort on eating healthily only then to nuke it and wreck the nutritional content.

Plastics

I have not completely done away with plastic in our house, but I do make sure that when I buy baggies or tupperware for the kids lunches that it is BPA free. I have started using glass Pyrex containers for storing leftovers, and I got a few stainless steel Klean Kanteen bottles for drinking water from.

klean_kanteen

Cookware

Thankfully for Christmas I got some new stainless steel cookware. Now I can say goodbye to my chipped, teflon coated pots and pans that have probably been slowly (or quickly) poisoning us.

stainless steel

Eggs

I now try to buy eggs every week from the farmer’s market. If I miss it or need extra, I get the organic, pastured brand from the grocery store.  They are so much more yellow than the regular ones, indicating the chickens had a healthy diet.

Dairy

Organic Valley has become my new staple for milk, cheese, sour cream, butter and cream cheese. Even though I have to drive across the city to get some of this stuff because Publix doesn’t carry the sour cream or cream cheese, it is worth it to get the rGBH free stuff, especially considering how much of it my kids consume.  Yes, there are other brands that are good as well, but I do like Organic Valley.

organic valley

Since the husband and I are supposed to be dairy free, we have been using almond milk instead. I prefer Silk, because it does not contain carrageenan, a carcinogen, like some other brands do. I am aware that it is owned by Dean Foods, which contributed a bunch of money to defeat Prop 37 in California (labeling of GM food), but it does contain the non-GMO project seal so I am torn on my feelings for it. The next step would be to make my own, since I have heard that it is a piece of cake and we just got a Vitamix for Christmas.

Bread

Bread has been tricky. I thought I had been buying some pretty good stuff before I made all these changes, and before I knew what all the ingredients meant, but I was wrong.  I could not find one bread in the HUGE bread aisle of Publix that did not contain either high fructose corn syrup and/or at least one genetically modified ingredient. I have been buying Rudi’s Whole Wheat from the health food store, but my kids don’t seem to want to eat it. Not as squishy I guess. I would like to experiment with making my own, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Since the husband and I are gluten free now too, that makes the effort a little less appealing, especially since I am pretty sure the kids will turn it down anyway. Besides, having fresh baked bread in the house with an unwillingly gluten free person (me) is like leaving a six-pack in the fridge at the recovering alcoholics house. In other words, not a good combo.

rudis

Ranch Dip

I was very excited when my kids started eating more vegetables. They had to be dipped in ranch dressing of course, but still, it seemed like a major victory. Until I looked at the ingredient list on the dressing. Tons of genetically modified stuff, MSG, and all kinds of other junk in there. I started making my own using this recipe. At first the kids would not eat it,  tasted too unprocessed I guess. I started mixing a bit in with the regular ranch dressing and slowly increased the amount of the good stuff in there until they were eating it no problem.

Tortillas

My kids are big fans of tortillas, but like bread, there was no healthy option at Publix. I started buying Rudi’s Organic Tortillas from the health food store, and they thought they were okay. I know that tortillas (flour or corn) are pretty easy to make, so that is also on my list for 2013.  For the husband and I, we have been eating Food For Life rice wraps, which are a little tough to chew and nothing like a regular flour tortilla, they are better than nothing!

Pasta

I started buying organic whole wheat for the kids, but they didn’t seem to like it as much as the rice pasta we were eating, so I now pretty much only use the rice stuff, whether it is spaghetti or macaroni or shells.

rice spaghetti

Snacks

My kids like to snack. A LOT. They have been great about eating lots of fruit, and they really like the Organic Valley string cheese. They also eat a lot of yogurt, and I had been buying the Stoneyfield Farms Organic squeeze kind, until I recently looked at the ingredients and saw that darn carrageenan listed. I will not be buying those anymore.  My kids have eaten a lot of goldfish over the years, but I wouldn’t say they were obsessed with them or anything. They were just an easy snack that they liked. They contain some pretty questionable ingredients though, so I have switched to buying Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies.

annies-organic-cheddar-bunnies

My kids also have always loved those little fruit gummies. I thought I was making a great choice with the Motts All Natural ones, but realized those really are pretty bad too. I did find Tasty Brand Organic Fruit Snacks at the health food store and they love those. They are kind of pricey though, so they are consumed in limited quantities.

tasty brand

Cereal

We have experimented with a lot of cereals these past few months, since my oldest loves the stuff. Her favorite was always Rice Krispies, which I always thought had a great, short ingredient list with hardly any sugar. Then I discovered they contain the preservative BHT, a lovely toxin used also in jet fuel and embalming fluid. I tried EnviroKidz and Barbara’s, and neither of those were a hit. The only one that seemed to hit the mark were some of the Cascadian Farms Organic varieties. And yes, I know that they are owned by General Mills who also contributed a bundle against Prop 37, but I was running out of options. Since I am not supposed to eat eggs, milk, cheese or gluten, breakfast has become a bit limited for me. I now often eat Nature’s Path Organic Corn Flakes.

corn flakes

Fruits/Vegetables

I have been trying to buy as much organic produce as possible, whether it be from the farmer’s market or the grocery store. I try to stick to at least the Dirty Dozen list whenever I can. There are a few things that I buy conventionally, like bananas, melons, pineapple, avocado, etc. Anything with an outer covering that is removed doesn’t seem quite so crucial to me.

I also started my own container garden this fall, which I am pretty stoked about. I now have cilantro, basil, lettuce and kale all ready to eat, and I have broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, carrots and green onions in the works. Next year I hope to have a whole actual garden, and maybe even some fruit trees to take advantage of the Florida sunshine.

Condiments

Gone from our fridge is my long beloved Miracle Whip, since replaced with Vegenaise. Miracle Whip has about every bad ingredient imaginable (probably why I liked it so much). The Vegenaise does contain soy, but it is organic and in small quantities I think it is okay. It is vegan, gluten free, dairy free and non-gmo and only has a few ingredients. I don’t love the stuff, but I can’t stomach the ingredient list of Miracle Whip anymore.

vegenaise

I also started buying Woodstock Organic Ketchup. I know ketchup probably isn’t the greatest thing in general, but we don’t eat much of it and this organic version is a lot better than Hunt’s or Heinz.

Flour

Before I began my real food change, I had only ever bought one kind of flour, and that was white, all-purpose flour. Since going gluten free, I have learned that there about a million other kinds out there, most of which I never even knew existed. My pantry now holds rice flour, amaranth flour, teff flour, tapioca flour, spelt flour and garbanzo bean flour. There are many more varieties that I have not tried yet, like almond, coconut and whole wheat.

Personal Care

I have tried to make a few changes with things I put ON my body as well. I tried using Burt’s Bees shampoo and conditioner, but it just doesn’t leave my hair feeling clean at all. It feels like I forgot to rinse out all of the shampoo. I have VERY thick hair so that might be a factor, but I just couldn’t stick with it. I also bought some Jason deodorant, which is aluminum, paraben, phthalates and propylene glycol free. It is okay, but makes my armpits feel very sticky.

I also tried Earthpaste for brushing my teeth. It tastes okay but does not foam, and for me that never made me feel like I was getting a good brush. Perhaps that is just conditioning, but it is not great to walk around wondering if your breath is making people gag. I did find some Nature’s Gate at Publix, which is sulfate, fluoride and paraben free but still foams, so I am a fan of that. I also have been doing away with Cetaphil lotion for the most part, which used to be the only cream I used. I got some Burt’s Bees fragrance free for the whole body that works well.

natures-gate

Things We Said Good-Bye To in 2012

Beef (all red meat really)

Gluten     This one has been hard, I am not going to lie. Not something I wanted to leave my life.

Store bought granola   Got a super easy recipe from my Mother-in-Law. 4 cups gluten free oats, about a cup of chopped almonds and a bit of maple syrup to mix it all together. Bake on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes at 225 degrees, mix it up a bit and then bake another 30 minutes. Add anything else you’d like (I have done cinnamon and coconut).

Miracle Whip   If I was eating big deli sandwiches still, this one would be hard, but since I am not, it hasn’t been too difficult to give up.

Coffee  I never drank coffee, but the husband did and gave it up. Not sure it was necessary or not, as I think coffee can be fine for you.

Soda  We weren’t huge soda drinkers to begin with, but we were having them a little too regularly.

Artificial Colors  I do not buy anything that has artificial colors anymore, including toothpaste and kid’s medicine.

Genetically modified foods  I have been buying almost everything organic, which has been costly. For a good guide to real food on a budget, click here.

Store bought salad dressing  It is way too easy to make your own, and I even got this for Christmas, which will make it even easier.

High Fructose Corn Syrup  This is one of my top ingredients to avoid.

Trans Fats (hydrogenated oil) Another of my top ingredients to avoid.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)  This is a sneaky bugger, going by MANY different names and in MANY different foods. Also another of my top ingredients to avoid.

Artificial Flavors  And most natural flavors too.

Many extra pounds!

Here’s to a new year with even more healthy, positive changes. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Copy-Kids DVD – How To Get Your Kids To Eat Vegetables

copy-kids

Copy-Kids DVD – How To Get Your Kids To Eat Vegetables

Unless you have been blessed with a kid who loves vegetables or you have done a terrific job of finding creative ways to hide them in your kid’s food (neither of which apply to me), it is probably a constant struggle to get your kids to eat enough of the good stuff.

Luckily I have come across something that could really help in this situation, and that is the Copy-Kids DVD. Kids always want to do what other kids are doing, right? Apparently this applies even when other kids are eating fruits and vegetables! Before I got the DVD, I pulled up the website to watch the trailer. Within the first 40 seconds of the trailer, my two year old daughter heard a reference to blueberries and immediately screamed, “Blueberries? I want blueberries!” Seemed like a pretty good sign to me!

When the DVD arrived, we all sat down to watch it. The video is arranged in 12 different chapters, one for each fruit or vegetable, and each chapter is seven minutes long. You can choose which fruit or vegetable you would like to work on, and the segment focuses on different children sitting at a table eating that food, having a jolly good time doing so. Even I was amazed at some of the things they were eating so willingly and happily.

Since my kids pretty much love all fruit, we decided to start on the bell peppers. Both my 2 and 5 year old thought that the little one eating a plate of whole bell peppers was about the funniest thing they had ever seen. What was the first thing they said? It was of course, “I want to try that!”

Unfortunately, I was unprepared and had no peppers in the house (darnit!). But we will be trying it this week. They also thought that seeing a kid eat a whole honking head of broccoli was pretty awesome too. In the middle of one of  the segments my five year old ran off to the fridge and came back with carrots, which they both ate while they watched the rest of the video. My five year old was also fascinated by learning each child’s name, and kept repeating them each time the child was shown again.

brooke eating lettuce

Watching a DVD every time you want your kid to eat a fruit or vegetable probably isn’t the most practical long term strategy, but if we do it a few times, hopefully they will become used to some things they have been unwilling to try (like the avocados), and it will become more of a habit.

 

 

 

Sugar Cookies – ‘Tis the Season!

sugar cookies

Sugar Cookies – ‘Tis the Season!

Let’s talk sugar cookies y’all. Today I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some sugar cookie mix, as I am signed up to bring it for my two year old’s preschool class tomorrow.  I don’t make these ever other than for our annual Christmas cookie decorating party (on hold this year), and pre-real food me (all of like, three months ago) had enough brains to know these aren’t exactly health food, but for a once in awhile thing seemed like no big deal. Today however, with my new found knowledge, when I flipped it over to actually look at the ingredient list I think I may have had an anxiety attack right there in the grocery store.  Luckily it was mid-morning and the place was empty.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients list, shall we?

sugar cookie ingredients

Enriched Flour Bleached  - How does flour get bleached you might ask. Kind of the same way your clothes do. By adding really nasty, toxic chemicals. Bleached flour is whitened using things like peroxide, chlorine, and potassium bromate, which by the way is a known carcinogen. I should also mention that potassium bromate is banned in Europe.

Sugar  - We know that sugar is bad in general. It is hard on our bodies and promotes disease and plays a huge role in obesity. But did you know that most sugar when labeled simply as ‘sugar’ is likely from genetically modified sugar beets?

Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and /or Cottonseed Oil – First of all, let me just say it drives me nuts when they use that and/or garbage. I mean really, you don’t know what the heck you used? Second of all, this stuff is bad! It is a trans fat, which can lead to high cholesterol, weight gain, and in the longer term even the production of cancerous cells due to how it alters cell walls.  A true poison to our systems. Oh, and it is also banned or severely restricted in Europe.

Corn Syrup and Corn Starch – So genetically modified corn syrup served with genetically modified corn starch. Awesome.

Artificial Flavor – This would be a synthetic mixture of chemicals designed to mimic a natural flavor. The FDA does not require food companies to identify which chemicals they use,  so you have no way of knowing just how many petroleum derivatives you are getting at one time.

Salt and Leavening conclude our list.

Holy cow, I think someone is trying to kill us. Not even one good thing in there. Nothing redeeming at all. How many sugar cookies do you think are consumed by Americans each year? Like a billion? After my mini anxiety attack, I made my way over to the bakery to see what the ready made ones looked like, just in case. The ingredient list was like 10 times longer, and included every artificial color known to man. Here is where my second, more severe anxiety attack happened. All of a sudden it dawned on me that I always let my kids get the free sugar cookie to distract them so you know, I can actually get our groceries and get out of there.  I try to avoid taking my kids to the grocery store with me at all costs, because really they are like wild animals (maybe it’s the cookie!), so I don’t take them with me all the time, but it does happen regularly. Hate to burst your bubble kids, but that tradition is over!

Off I go to the local health food store, praying that they have an alternative that is not full of such toxic garbage, because I don’t have time to drive to the other side of the city to the big natural food store. Sigh.