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Monday, March 22, 2010

Not So Much...

Well I had high hopes of writing a post today about the environmental impact of our diets. Exciting - I know. :) Well at least I think so.

I started reviewing some of my notes from one of the classes I took on the subject and realized that I should take more time to collect my thoughts.

Right now I'm watching James Oliver Food Revolution. An ABC Show where British Chef James Oliver has come to "revolutionize" the diets of Americans. I don't exactly expect him to do that. I don't know that I fully agree with his food choices, but he's making FOOD. I do think that having a show like this on ABC prime time will expose the void of nutrition in our diets and the abundance of sugar, salt, fat and artificial ingredients. You can watch the first episode here if you are interested. In the first episode he goes to a public school Huntington Beach, WV. Apparently, Huntington Beach is the winner. Congratulations! You are the fattest, most unhealthy city in the United States, leading the county deaths from heart disease and diabetes, ranking #1 in obesity. The United States is the winner too! We lead the world in health care expenses. In turn, we rank 37th in health care quality according the the World Health Association. We are the fattest country in the world.

I feel so passionate about health. I'm not exactly sure why. I think health is a REALLY important topic. I REALLY like to talk about it. So, if you are reading this - you will be subject to my ranting, statistics and recipes on the topic. This is, if I can keep up this blogging streak...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Almond Milk

I have my weekly routines of making a few staple items. Our kitchen always has something soaking, fermenting, blending, dehydrating and is that molding?? Almond milk is one my favorites and it is one of the easiest to make.

We use almond milk for a couple of different things:
Cereal - A common question is, "Since you don't drink milk, what do you put on your cereal?". Granola, boxed cereal or my favorite - Buckwheaties - YUM! I make cereal once a week by sprouting buckwheat groats, blending them then putting them in the dehydrator. only takes about 10 minutes of work total. We do sometimes have boxed oat milk for Judah, but it usually has a few ingredients I don't like and usually a lot of sugar.

Smoothies - I make a smoothie each morning...sometimes twice a morning. This is a great alternative to add some flavor without adding a bunch of sugar.

In coffee - Sounds crazy and not my first choice. Sean and I make coffee each Saturday. On the weeks where I forget to buy whole cream, or we aren't lucky enough to score our friend's raw cream he pulls from the top of his fresh milk, we use almond milk. It has a little vanilla flavor in it so it is quite yummy (just not as "creamy").

On it's own - This can be quite a filling and nutritious snack. It is one of Havah's favorites.

So here's how you make it:

1 cup raw almonds
5 cups filtered water
1/4 cup of low processed sweetener (raw honey, agave and my current favorite grade B maple syrup)
1t vanilla extract

Optional Ingredients: maca powder, hemp seeds (YUM!), stevia or cacao for chocolate almond milk

The almonds and water go into the blender on high for 2 minutes. I then pass the liquid through a nut milk bag or cheese cloth. Save the almond pulp!

The liquid goes back to the blender to get the sweeter, vanilla extract and anything else I want to add. Then I store the extra in the random jars my husband saves and keep it in the fridge.

Having a high speed blender is nice, but not totally necessary for this recipe. I heart my vitamix.

I freeze the almond pulp and put it in my buckwheaties each week.

Another great recipe for Almond Milk is here. Just scroll to the bottom.

*A side note on milk and cream. I have a big beef with cow's milk. I posted on that here. I have been checking out local sources for raw goats milk. Nutritionally I am okay with it. Mainly we want it for the cream to make butter.

We buy whole cream that comes from our local dairy. My main concern with cow's milk is the protein content. The higher the fat content, the lower the protein content. Whole cream is the best option.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Havah's Room

I've had three friends ask me this week to post pictures of Havah's room. There's never a good time for me to get photos, so you'll have to excuse my poor lighting and craigslist camera.

The artwork above the changing table is from Sarah Sulek. Designer and friend extrodinair. The changing table is from Marci Lewellen. We found it on the side of the road and spay painted it white. I LOVE finding treasures on the side of the road. The hope chest was my 17th birthday present. Handmade by Art Fore, my piano teachers husband.

Notice the post its. I recently realized that I was the only one in the house who knew what was in each drawer. Now everyone knows!

The crib is from Craigslist. Got it for less than $100 and refinished it while I was pregnant.. Amazing branches and leaves along the wall are by , Christina Ortega, Jocelyn Winterman and me.

The glider and dresser are also from the side of the road also. :) Sean snagged the glider and I recently recovered it. The dresser got a can of spray paint and a cute piece of fabric modge podged to the top of it. This dresser is for baby brother. His crib will eventually go where the glider and night stand are now. The glider will go to where the hope chest is currently. The hope chest will go to my room.

This painting is from my grandmother. She painted it for me when I was little. It has hung in my room almost all of my life. I am happy to have something so special in Havah's room.

You can just catch a glimpse of the curtain in this photo below. I wish I had gotten a better picture of it. My mom made the most amazing curtain for the window with the fabric that inspired the color on the wall. I LOVED the gray Amy Butler fabric and wanted it to be a part of the nursery. Katchen Weaver encouraged me to go for it and paint the walls gray. Thank you Katchen!

This is Havah fresh in bed. That smile is because she just spotted her paci. If you look closely at this photo or the one above of her crib you will see that her bumper pad is completely smashed. She loves to jump on it. Mom made her a beautiful quilt (currently rolled up on the glider), bumper pad and crib skirt. All with a delicate trim that she hand folded and sewed into place. Hours and hours of work. Thank you mommy!

Here she is offering you a taste.

Have you ever seen a room filled with so much love? My dearest friends worked hard with me to make her room so special. She has almost no appreciation for it, but I am so in love with it. I have spent countless hours in this room and think of my friends when I sit and rock my baby to sleep.

There are many more small details about the room that I could share...but that's probably enough.

Oh look! I found the picture of the window covering!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Corn Syrup is Natural (j/k)

Have you seen these new commercials about corn syrup? - It's Natural. Right...

Here's one of them.

Of course, the people who paid for these commercials have no vested interest in you buying products with corn syrup in them do they? They don't have any vested interest in your long term health! I just LOVE how the concerned mom ends up looking and feeling like a complete idiot! The surprise is how many of the products we consume that have corn syrup in them. Take a look at the back of your snack crackers, bread, any candy, coffee creamer, ketchup and the worst of all...soda. That's why the only soda you should by is this soda - no corn syrup.

I recently found a great blog radio show. Well With U. There most recent show was on corn syrup.

Below I'm posting their show on corn syrup and some info from their blog. If you don't read the whole thing at least check out the parts about leptin. If you can't see the radio player - try clicking on the blog title or refreshing the page.

Tomorrow evening Well With U Radio is having a free online seminar tomorrow evening. It should be interesting. Paul Nison (he's the bomb too) will be sharing along with a few other speakers on Health According to the Scriptures.

So the multi-national food conglomerates and their advertising firms want you to believe that High Fructose Corn Syrup is natural because it “comes from corn”, and is fine “in moderation”?

Well, let’s take a closer look at how it’s made so you can make an educated decision!

Converting corn starch into corn syrup

  • Corn starch is converted into ordinary corn syrup through a process called acid hydrolysis. In this process, the wet starch is mixed with a weak solution of hydrochloric acid and is heated under pressure. The hydrochloric acid and heat break down the starch molecules and convert them into a sugar. The hydrolysis can be interrupted at different key points to produce corn syrups of varying sweetness. The longer the process is allowed to proceed, the sweeter the resulti?g syrup.
  • This syrup is then filtered or otherwise clarified to remove any objectionable flavor or color. It is further refined and evaporated to reduce the amount of water.
  • To produce a corn syrup powder, also called corn syrup solids, the liquid corn syrup is passed through a drum or spray dryer to remove 97% of the water. This produces a crystalline corn syrup powder.

Converting corn syrup into high fructose corn syrup

  • Ordinary corn syrup contains dextrose sugar which is about three-quarters as sweet as the sucrose sugar in cane or beet sugar. In many sweetener applications this is an advantage because it does not overpower the other flavors in the food. However, in some applications, such as soft drinks, a sweeter taste is desired. To improve the sweetness of ordinary corn syrup, it undergoes a further process called enzyme conversion. In this process, the dextrose sugars in the syrup are converted into sweeter fructose sugars by the action of an enzyme in a series of steps under carefully controlled temperatures, pressures, and acidity. This produces a high fructose corn syrup with a 42% fructose content. It is used in canned fruits and condiments.
  • To produce corn syrups with a fructose level above 50%, the 42% fructose syrup is passed through a series of fractionation columns, which separate and hold the fructose content. The separated portion is about 80-90% fructose and is flushed from the columns with deionized water. A portion of this is retained and sold for use in “light” foods where only a small amount of liquid sweetener is needed. The remainder is blended with other 42% fructose syrup to produce a 55% fructose syrup, which is used in soft drinks, ice cream, and frozen desserts.
  • Powdered high fructose corn syrups can be produced by evaporating the water from the syrup and then encapsulating the powder grains to prevent them from reabsorbing moisture. Pure fructose crystals may be obtained by further processing the 80-90% fructose syrup. It is used in cake mixes and other food products where a highly concentrated, dry sweetener is desired.

Today, corn syrups are an “important part” of many products. In 1996, there were 28 corn-refining plants in the United States that processed a total of about 72 billion lbs (33 billion kg) of corn. Of that amount, about 25 billion lbs (11.4 billion kg) were converted into corn syrups and other corn sweeteners. These corn-based products supplied more than 55% of the nutritive sweetener market in the United States.

Fifty-five percent! And this is something the Corn Refiners Association seems proud of. Americans currently consume about 25% of their total calories from sugar, and about half of that in the form of fructose. So, what’s so bad about that you say? Here’s a little lesson about precisely how dangerous it really is.

Leptin: the reason why obesity and obesity related deaths are on the rise

  • To sum up a complex process very simply, the hormones your fat cells produce impact how much you eat and how much fat you burn.
  • One of these hormones is leptin, and leptin sends signals that reduce hunger, increase fat burning and reduce fat storage. That is, if your cells are communicating properly and can “hear” this message.
  • If you are eating a diet that is high in sugar — this is the same type of diet that will also increase inflammation in your body — as the sugar gets metabolized in fat cells, fat releases surges in leptin.
  • Over time, if your body is exposed to too much leptin, it will become resistant to the leptin (just as your body can become resistant to insulin).
  • When you become leptin-resistant, your body can no longer hear the messages telling it to stop eating and burn fat — so it remains hungry and stores more fat.
  • Leptin-resistance also causes an increase in visceral fat, sending you on a vicious cycle of hunger, fat storage and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome (a group of symptoms including diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol that increases the risk of heart disease) and more.

Leptin, the hormone responsible for satiety (feeling satisfied), simply isn’t working. And it’s all because of massive surge in sugar intake spearheaded by the yearly conversion of over 25,000,000,000 (twenty-five billion) pounds of corn into corn syrup. Corn syrup is now found in every type of processed, pre-packaged food you can think of. In fact, the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in the U.S. diet increased by a whopping 10,673% (that’s more than 100x) between 1970 and 2005, according to a report by the USDA.

(And, by the way, this is just part of the High Fructose Corn Syrup story. There’s a lot more to come…)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

When I Grow Up

About a year ago I heard a lecture by Pam Popper. It was on propaganda in food marketing. One of the BEST lectures I've heard on the topic. Pam Popper, like T. Colin Campbell, is the bomb. When I grow up I want to be like Pam Popper. If I've spiked your interest enough - go to and search for videos by her.

Dr Popper runs the Wellness Forum and has a great blog. When I have an extra $250 I'll complete her course.

Below I'm pasting two brief posts from her blog on general health and nutrition that I thought were just great!


Poop Goes in the Potty

Havah has been spending plenty of time in the bathroom the past two week. I decided that March 1st would be the beginning of a potty experiment. She has done so well! She's not entirely out of the woods, but is doing a great job. She comes to me and tell me "change diaper". She's not wearing a diaper, so I know it's time to go sit on the potty. :) We haven't mastered outings or naps, but when we're home she's golden!

The first day she pretty much peed all over the kitchen floor (we tried to stay in the kitchen most of the day). By the end of the day I was wiped out from keeping my eyes on her every second. It has gotten better and better every day. Earlier this week she did have an accident that was pretty funny. I won't tell the story here because it does involve some embarrassing details that I would leave up to her oldest sister to share. I also have some cute videos to share, but they will have to wait until I can get them uploaded to my computer.

I found a few articles that were pretty helpful. You can check them out here and here. But the BEST thing to have is an amazing sister to call and ask questions.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hoping Inspiration Continues

My brain has been going on the topic of nutrition. I'm planning to start writing - when time and inspiration participate - on my favorite recipes, nutrition and my cute kids. We'll see if I can follow through.

Below is a trailer to Forks over Knives. I'm really looking forward to the release of this film. Dr T Colin Campbell is the bomb. I have so much respect for him and his colleagues. Dr Campbell wrote an excellent book called The China Study. I read the book and then went on to take his course at Cornell University on Plant Based Nutrition.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homemade Almond Butter

I've had it in my head for weeks that I want some TRULY raw, sprouted, homemade almond butter. We happened to buy several pounds of truly raw almonds a while back and it just so happens that our Green Star Juicer was back in the house today, so I set to making some almond butter.

  • Almonds washed
  • Almonds soaked
  • Almonds into juicer with the blank screen - this didn't work so well because I didn't feel like getting a total work out to press them through the juicer. SO...
  • Almond in the food processor to break them up
  • Almonds back to the juicer (this made more mess, but did make for less work)
  • Almonds back to the food processor where I added Celtic Sea Salt and raw honey
  • Almonds to the blender to try to cream them up
The end result was just a BIG MESS and almond butter that doesn't taste all that great. The texture is kind of weird. The next time I want almond butter I'm just going to Whole Foods.

So instead of trying to dig the sticky remains of this butter out of the blender I decided to just leave it in and make some almond milk. Now that turned out good!