Saturday, January 30, 2010

Whole Wheat Cooking

Not only are we trying to rid ourselves of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, etc...but we are making our best effort at replacing artificial ingredients with the real deal. So, after getting some recipes from a recommended website (heavenly homemaker) I decided to venture out and do some baking with whole wheat.
The other day we tried whole wheat waffles, which were good. Then tonight we took the dive and made whole wheat soft pretzels and whole wheat cinnamon buns.
The dough recipe was exactly the same for both recipes, so I made one batch and split it in half, then made pretzels with one lump and cinnamon rolls with the other lump. It was a new challenge, but not overwhelming, and the results were worth it. All of the boys agreed that both recipes were keepers...they ate it all up! Even our pickiest eater asked for seconds!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Facts on Fiber and other things...

This is one of the first times I have attempted to make healthy changes and have had little problems sticking with it. I think it is because of 2 main reasons:
1. I have the logic to go along with the decision - or in other words, I am doing this because I understand it, not just because "it's the right thing to do", although I have no clue why. Knowledge fuels true change because when you know something to be true it is alot easier to adjust and align yourself with that truth. Knowing that the way we were eating was literally dangerous and knowing why it was has helped me transition to a healthier lifestyle.
2. I am taking it slowly and not going totally radical - I didn't throw out every thing in the house and go on a huge shopping spree for all organic and free range foods. We are basically eliminating things as they run out and replacing them with healthier choices. This is easier on the budget and on each one of us as well. I also have not restricted myself. Although I have only had 1 cup of coffee in over a week, I tell myself each morning - "Go ahead and make some if you want". Then I make a smoothie and forget about it. Anytime I've restricted myself in the past, that desire has grown stronger just out of sheer rebellion.

A good quote in the beginning of chapter 4 sums it up like this, "Add the good things you are missing, and let go of the others that have become harmfully habitual. Soon you'll realize that your eating habits have been transformed."
I am seeing this reality already in my own life. As we went to a church function tonight, our choices of food were salad, fruit, and fried chicken. Jason and I both got a plate of salad and fruit and I had no desire for the chicken at all...okay, well maybe that 1 second when I first smelled it, but after looking at it and thinking about what it really is, the desire was gone!

So, what does all of that have to do with fiber? Nothing! But I thought you might wanna know how things are going for me and if I'm standing in the kitchen eating choc chip cookie dough by now or sticking with it. I assure you, I'm sticking to it and not begrudgingly at all!

Now, onto the fiber and the main points from Ch. 4:
If you are like me, you have always heard that you should eat a good amount of fiber. Since I was a little girl watching daytime television at my Granny's I have seen the Metamucil commercials and all the other fiber-pushing advertisements and concluded that the were for old people. I mean, why else are old people the ones in the commercials? You don't see young, tan, scantily clad women downing Metamucil, do you? No, that's only the toothpaste and shampoo commercials!
Anyways, I now understand why fiber should be on my mind as well, thanks to Dr. Colbert.
You see, fiber does this amazing job of binding cancer causing chemicals and helping our bodies to eliminate them. Not only that, but fiber also binds estrogen and helps pass it out of the body as well. (If you've read my earlier posts, you'll understand why this is important.) Another really important thing that fiber does is that it increases the bulk in your stool (gross, I know!), which speeds up the elimination process. This is important because the quicker things pass, the less amount of time toxins are in contact with the lining of your colon. Most of us realize by now that what our bodies don't need is what is eliminated and alot of that is toxic stuff.
Jason and I were really interested in this because of the amount of colon cancer he has seen in the last year in young men his age. It reinforced what we already believe - foods can be dangerous and what we eat may be killing us!
Here are seven sources of fiber to get you started:
*Bran (muffins, cereals, etc...)
*Cellulose - outer layers of veg and fruits. (Make sure to wash them well.)
*Gum - guar gum. (Not sure what this is yet, but planning on looking it up.)
*Hemicellulose - apples, bananas, corn, beans, beets, peppers, whole-bran cereals.
*Lignin - Brazil nuts, carrots, green beans, peas, peaches, potatoes, strawberries.
*Mucilages - chickweed, comfrey, mullein, flaxseed, okra.
*Pectin - apples, cabbage, okra, carrots, beets.

Make a list of the ones you like and try to start eating more of it.

2 things to note: always take fiber separately from other supplements so as not to weaken the fiber absorption and rotate these fiber sources as they each have a different function. The encouraging thing is that many of these are likable foods and very do-able for most of us. Other than the mucilages, each category has at least one thing I like and do not mind eating. I did, though, buy some flaxseed and I do intend on grinding it up in my coffee grinder to add into some of my foods. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Then my mucilages category will be covered as well - not that I actually know what a mucilage is!

The rest of this chapter dealt with important supplements and minerals that you may also want to consider, so I will briefly list these and their benefits.
*Glutamine - an amino acid that is easily absorbed, increases natural killer cell activity, and inhibits PGE2 (that dangerous hormone we don't like). You can take this as a supplement (1000 milligrams 30 min before each meal) or eat it in spinach and parsley.
*Folic acid - the most impt B vitamin in the fight against cancer. Repairs DNA.
*Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, and Vitamin A
(A good multi-vitamin will have most of this in it.)
*Calcium - like fiber, it binds toxic acids and removes them from the body. Get your calcium from fat-free skim milk or skim milk and skim milk cheese.
*Herbs such as Rosemary, Curcumin, and Milk Thistle. I have a wonderful recipe for Rosemary Lime Chicken that will make that Rosemary even more enjoyable!

I know this is alot of information, but try to find a few things that resonate with you and implement those things. For me, it is that I am increasing my fiber intake, continuing to stick with the fruits and veggies, and taking a daily multi-vitamin, even after pregnancy. The good thing about healthy eating is that alot of it overlaps. If I am eating enough fruits and veggies, I am taking in fiber already. Same with whole wheats and bran cereals. The benefits cover numerous categories and so I don't have to feel like I need a 2 page list of what I need to eat every day to be healthy. The important thing is to find things you enjoy eating, remind yourself of the benefits, and gradually let go of those things that are not beneficial to your health. Slowly, but surely you'll feel better and enjoy what you are eating!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Trip to Whole Foods...

Well, we decided that since we are making all of these changes, we ought to go to Whole Foods and check it out to get an idea of the cost of "healthier foods".
Only 2 of the boys wanted to tag along (thankfully) so the 4 of us set out after dinner. It took us about 30 minutes to get there, but we were expecting that.
I was excited when we pulled up into the parking lot, but reminded myself to stay calm and sensible and stick to the purpose. (Sometimes I get a little carried away when I go to a new store, especially book stores! It's weird, I know!)
Overall, the store was a little smaller than I expected when you look at how much of it is an actual grocery store. Once you subtract the restaurant part, coffee bar, and bakery, it wasn't overly large. Of course, I am used to Sam's Club, so it may be big to other people.
We began in the produce section and noticed that a few of the things they sell we also see at Sam's, like the brand of clementines...mental note: buy them at Sam's.
The produce all looked great, but I noticed that some is organic and some is not, which was a surprise to me. I thought everything they sold was organic, but I guess not. We bought organic bananas ($0.88 a lb), organic apples (a little over $1.00 a lb), organic tomatoes & onions and salad mix($1.99 bag).
Next was the dairy and meats section - The vanilla soy milk (Silk brand) is definetly cheaper at Sam's. However, I bought yogurt at Whole Foods 2 for $1.00 and at Kroger the same brand was $0.89 each, so that was a better buy. We bought the Brown Cow organic brand. I also bought a huge "roll" of butter made by the Amish (organic) for about $5.00. It was a BIG roll of butter and I felt a good price. Plus I have this thing for Amish people, so I loved buying their butter. Jason always tells me that one day he's gonna come home as my dream man in a top hat and long beard and move me to a farm!!! Can't wait for that day!!!
Anyways, I saw a couple tubs of tofu for around $2.00, but since I still don't know what it is, I didn't buy any yet. The meats were expensive, but of course, free range. I noticed a med. sized turkey was about $20.00 and the same size I usually pay about $14.00 for around Thanksgiving. I checked Kroger this afternoon and their free range turkey was a little over $30.00!!! Wow - I am in the wrong business!
I refrained from meat purchases at the moment as I am still researching free range meats and farms and looking for a better way to handle that.
In the snack section, we bought chips (2 pks for $3.00) and cold salsa ($3.50 a carton, but buy one get one free and it was fresh and delicious!) We also bought crackers. Cereal was outrageous and so I bought it at Sam's (Kashi cinnamon squares - around $6.88 there for 2 bags.)
In the canned foods, we bought organic black beans and they were $0.99 per can - which is the same price at Kroger. We have recently been making this veggie stir-fry with black beans that is delicious so we bought 4 cans of those. We also bought salad dressing and trail mix.
Before we hit the checkout I saw bottles of green tea on sale (BOGOF) so I bought those just as a treat for me. They were Green Tea and Honey and Green Tea and Mango flavored. The thing I liked was that when I asked the sales clerk about them, she volunteered to let me taste one without me asking to. Apparently, that is their policy: if you wanna sample something, just ask and they'll let you. Jason also sampled grapefruit. That was a nice added touch!
Altogether we ended up spending $60.20, which wasn't that bad considering what we bought.
I'm not sure that I will have to shop there regularly, though, because Sam's is offering an increasingly larger organic selection and then coupled with Kroger, I feel like most of what I need, I can get between the two. There is a certain element at Whole Foods that these two stores don't have, which makes shopping at Whole Foods a little more fun. (Like the all natural soaps and lotions in the bathroom that smell like you're at the spa). But for practical purposes, I think it'll be a treat for us to go there instead of a bi-weekly experience.
A definite benefit to going there is to see what brands and items they do sell. Since their policy is nothing "unnatural", I assumed everything in the store is on the safer list. So, now I know what brands to buy at Kroger and Sam's and I know they are legitimately "all-natural" since Whole Foods carries them.
Overall, it was a great experience and Jason and I both enjoyed ourselves. One of the best things was that my husband was truly supportive and on board instead of giving me a hard time about what I was buying. It's nice to know we are headed in the same direction!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Skinny on Fats - Ch. 3

Fats - uuuggghhh!!! Just the word makes me cringe. It seems everywhere I turn, people are trying to lower their fat intake. Of course, that's a good thing, but the bad part of that is - Everything I like is fattening!
We all know that a high-fat diet is bad for you. But did you know that high-fat diets are strongly related to colon, rectal, and prostate cancers? That gets my attention personally because my husband would be more susceptible to all of those and he already has a high cancer rate in his family.
Diets that may reduce the risks of these cancers must instead be full of high amounts of fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans. Of course, your grains need to be whole grains (natural) and the white stuff needs to go (unnaturally whitened)!
All of our bodies contain a hormone-like compound called PGE2. This dangerous prostaglandin is linked to prostate, colon, and breast cancers. Diets that are high in Polyunsaturated fats (think safflower oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil) and saturated fats (think whole milk, red meat, pork, chicken & turkey skins, bacon, lunchmeat, cheese, ice cream, butter...all the things I like!) increase the PGE2 in your body. That's bad!
However, the weird thing is that if you try to go completely fat-free, that also increases the PGE2 in your body! So, is it a lose-lose situation? Not really.
You see, there are these good fats (is there really such a thing?) called Omega 3's. Omega 3's are essential fatty acids that cannot be manufactured in our bodies, so they must be consumed from an outside source.
Here are some sources of Omega 3 fats:
* raw nuts, particularly walnuts
*flaxseed & flaxeseed oil
*coldwater fish (salmon, mackerel, halibut, tuna, herring, & cod)
*fish oil (sounds lovely, huh?)
*free range meats (I can't wait to discuss this subject later on!!!)
*olive oil & olives (my husband is so happy...he eats olives like candy!)
*dark green veggies (collards, broccoli)

The author of this book recommends using olive oil in the place of any other oil you currently use. I did so this morning and my pancakes were a little flat. But, it could have been the old pancake mix I used? Or perhaps, the out-of-date buttermilk? Hey, buttermilk is already sour so what's the difference? Don't you wanna come to breakfast at our house soon?
He also suggests grinding flax seed and sprinkling it into your cereal, bread or muffin mixes, or anything else you can. He personally grinds (in a coffee bean grinder) 5 tsp flaxseed and puts it in his food daily. He also takes 1 TBSP of flaxseed oil 2 x per day...let me know if you do this and how it turns out for you.

Lastly, let me mention a very dangerous fat that we should all stay away from. These are trans-fats and they are deadly! These fats are man-made and produced by hydrogenating vegetable oil. Basically, veg oil is heated to boiling and hydrogen is bubbled into it to produce a sort of lard we call margarine.
Margarine, believe it or not, is added to most baked goods, breads, pastries, and almost all processed foods. So if you see the term "hydrogenated veg oil" or hydrogenated anything on a food label - STAY AWAY FROM IT! It won't be easy either because SO many boxed foods have this.
In regards to cooking, always choose butter over margarine. The old saying, "You get what you pay for" comes to mind. Margarine is cheaper than butter...but in the end it may cost alot more.
So, in our family, we have resolved the following things in response to this newly learned subject:
2. Olive oil instead of any other oils.
3. Eat more fish - especially when eating out.
4. More beans and dark green veggies.

Finally, we are still consuming our daily soy milk. Well, some of us are. The kiddos are not so thrilled about trying something new, although 2 of them did settle for some soy hot chocolate this afternoon while the others looked on in disgust.
Hey, it's a process and we are reaching forward to goals, keeping the big picture in mind. I hope that you are also setting some goals to become healthier and happier this year!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ch. 2 - Power Foods!

Already Jason and I are enjoying this journey into the world of nutrition. We are learning SO much and have had some good conversations regarding the foods we have been eating. The problem, though, is that you begin to see things in a different light! For example, I LOVE homemade chocolate chip cookie dough. In fact, it is a staple in our house! It is not uncommon to find a freshly made tub of cookie dough in the refrigerator and sadly, alot of it never makes it to the oven. We all eat it raw and enjoy every minute of it...or did enjoy it! Today as I ate a spoonfull, all I could think about was the 2 sticks of margarine I put in there and the fact that margarine is a man-made fat! Nothing natural at all about it...recently described as a little better than "salty vaseline"!!! So, needless to say, the moment was ruined and my craving for cookie dough killed...not that that is a bad thing!
Anyways, onto the book. Chapter 2 focuses on the power to heal our bodies or build defenses through certain foods. Not only does God himself have healing power, but He has also put that power into certain foods that He has created. It is our job to know those foods and put them into our bodies (instead of cookie dough!).
There are certain foods, called phytonutrients, that will enable us to live healthier and fight diseases.
One source of phytonutrients is soy products. Soy products are filled with isoflavones...definetly a new term to me, but I'm hanging on anyways and refusing to be intimidated! Isoflavones are natural estrogens in soy products. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute have reported that isoflavones have wonderful cancer-fighting properties and highly recommend foods rich in them.
The natural estrogen in soy products is only one one-thousandth as strong as estrogen, but it tends to block the estrogen receptors in our cells, therefore decreasing the tumor-promoting effect of high estrogen levels. Basically, the phytoestrogens in soy products inhibit the ability of cancer cells to reproduce themselves and grow into tumors. Yay!!!!!! This is true in both men and women.
Okay, so where to begin? How do people like me, cookie dough and fried chicken eaters, start eating soy foods instead?
Here are a few sources of soy that may be available to you: soy milk, tofu (what is that?), soy yogurt, soy flour, roasted soy nuts, black soy beans, and yellow or green vegetables.
Now here is what I did personally to begin my new love affair with soy. Yesterday, while at Sam's I picked up 3 cartons of vanilla soy milk for a little under $7.00. I am not sure if that is a great price, but that's where I was and it was on my mind, so I bought it. I also bought a large bag of frozen fruit for about $ was a LARGE bag!
So this afternoon, when I woke up from my nap and decided cookie dough was no longer for me, I instead got out the soy milk and fruit and blended them together in my blender to make a fruit smoothie. I didn't measure, I just poured in some milk (about 1 1/2 cups) and threw in some fruit (strawberries, peaches, bananas, and blueberries) and blended away. Believe it or not, it was quite tasty and satisfying and the best part of all - good for me! Oh yeah, and my kids didn't care for it so they left me alone to eat it all by myself - a definite bonus in my book!
However, if you are the type that needs a recipe, here is one in the little book I'm reading:
Soy Fruit Smoothie
2 cups of vanilla flavored soy beverage, well chilled
1 cup frozen, sliced peaches
1 med banana, cut into chunks
8 med. strawberries
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine and blend in blender until smooth and creamy. Makes 2 servings.

There are other foods that contain phytonutrients (power-foods/disease fighters). These are vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, & cauliflower. These foods include indoles (another strange word, but I'll explain). Indoles convert estrogen from cancer-promoting to cancer-fighting. I will spare you the details of how this works, because it is difficult to understand, but suffice it to say, it does work and research backs it up. That's why your Mama always told you to eat your veggies!
Finally, here are a few other foods that will benefit your health greatly and boost your immune system:
Green Tea, Alfalfa, Grapes, Tomatoes, Apples, Walnuts, Black Currants, Garlic, Raspberries, and Maitake Mushrooms. There are other things, too, in the book, but they sounded more like something a cow might eat, so I'll spare you (think barley grass, wheat grass, etc...) For now, my requirements are: a.) I actually know what a food is and b.) I can find it in a local grocery store and c.) I would actually try eating it.
Well, I hope this helps someone in their journey of eating a little healthier. I know I have benefitted from my study time and even enjoyed my first experience with a soy product. I am looking forward to what else I will learn and try.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nutrition 101 - The Beginning...

Okay, I have chosen my first book in our nutritional journey! It is entitled, "The Bible Cure for Cancer" by Don Colbert, M.D.. The reason I chose this one to begin with is that it is short and concise and deals pointedly with one of our main concerns: cancer.
According to this book, studies show that one out of every three persons will develop some type of cancer and one of every six of those people will die as a result! That is pretty alarming, huh? The good news is that through medical and nutritional advancements, the death rate from cancer is actually decreasing! Whew! Now that is what we all want to hear!!!
A little background on cancer itself...cancer is caused by immature cells. Instead of maturing and doing what these cells were created to do, they remain immature and begin to steal nutrition from our bodies enabling them to become larger and deadlier. "70-80% of cancers are caused by the food we eat, air we breathe, and the water we drink, as well as lifestyle and environmental factors." (p.4)
So basically we are in a war on all fronts! Although I realize all of these areas need to be assessed, our family is choosing right now to address the area of food. I am a firm believer in establishing one good habit at a time, so as not to become overwhelmed and quit, so the majority of my discussions will be food related.
With that in mind, let us consider some facts:
* Our diets directly impact our immune system, either positively or negatively.
* About 1/3 of all cancer deaths in our nation each year are dietary related.
* Our crops are sprayed with about 2 billion pounds of pesticides each year, many of which are carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
* Our farm animals feed on millions of pounds of hormones and antibiotics each year.
* Just as wood burning produces smoke, food burning (or metabolizing) produces free radicals. These free radicals can damage cells and in some cases cause cells to mutate and produce cancerous growths. A strong antioxidant defense system is the key to overcoming these "threats" to our cells.
So what is a body to do? Well, to begin with, it is wise to assess what we are eating and the effects that it will have on our bodies. The old adage, "garbage in, garbage out" comes to mind. Just being more conscious of the fact that to every choice there is a consequence helps us to make better eating decisions.
Secondly, limiting high fat foods, especially high fat meats, will do wonders for us all. Of course, we need to know what these are, so a little research in that area would be beneficial. Off the top of my head, I already know that pork is a meat marbled with fat and definitely a high-fat meat. So I will be choosing to stay completely away from pork. Isn't it ironic that the last meal I ate before reading this chapter was B-B-Q from Mickey Pigs!!!
Leviticus 3:17 declares, "You must never eat any fat or blood. This is a permanent law for you and all your descendants, wherever they may live."
Lastly,but most importantly, I am asking God to give me wisdom and discretion as I take the first steps on this journey. I hope to be able to keep the "big picture" ever before me and realize that the goals I want to reach in the future require certain steps for me to take today. It is foolish to wish for wisdom and health, yet not set foot on the paths that will take me there. So, my prayer is that God will enable me to make wise choices now while the opportunity is here.
Hopefully others will be inspired to make better choices as well and step out on their own journey of healthy living!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Preparing for our Baby Girl !!!

In preparation for our sweet baby (due March 4th) we have begun to decorate the nursery. Thankfully we have some wonderful family members helping that purchased our bedding!!! (A huge thank you to Kevin & Ronda, Grandpa & Grandma, and Dad & Jerri!!!!)
Here are a few pics to give a glimpse into our little one's room. How exciting preparing for a new baby!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Beginnings

Recently I had decided to delete this blog altogether. I hardly have time to keep up with it and when I do get the time, I am too tired to think of anything to say! However, I have had a change of mind, and so now I am going to try to do a better job of sharing with others the things happening in our lives.
In a nutshell, here are a few areas of our lives that are in the midst of change and I am sure, I will be addressing:
* Baby #6 is soon to be delivered! Only 7 1/2 weeks left and we will have the wonderful blessing of meeting our baby girl (obviously unnamed at this point!)
* Food changes are on the horizon - I have taken a real interest in the subject of free range farming and whole foods and am planning on delving into the issue wholeheartedly. There are several books I am looking forward to reading on this and I will be sharing our journey into a healthier lifestyle here on the blog. The more Jason and I discuss cancer and other diseases, the more convinced I am that our foods have ALOT to do with it. We are hoping to be able to bring our family into a better place nutritionally this year.

Hopefully what we learn and experience will be a blessing to someone else and at the least will challenge or inspire. I am looking forward to some new beginnings in our home this year and hope you will enjoy hearing a little more about these things soon.