Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Gift Ideas

Here are some non-conventional ideas for natural, useful Christmas gifts.

 Young Living ART kit. LOVE. IT. Around the same price as Mary Kay, but way better for your skin. Shown in the picture are the foaming cleanser, toner, night and day moisturizer.

 OK, I don't work for Young Living, but I love their products. Their oils have no added alcohol like most other essential oils and because of that, they are more expensive, but you get more bang for your buck. It only takes 1 or 2 drops to get the benefits. Some of my favorites include Thieves, Melaleuca, Lavender and Juva Cleanse.


This tooth powder is great and even though it looks questionable, it tastes great too. It is 100% organic, made from herbs and is actually made locally (in Wyoming). Can't beat that! Come on, we always got tooth brushes and tooth paste in our stockings growing up.


This soap is affordable and wonderful. It is also locally made and can be found at Big Hollow.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This is not my work, but everyone needs to read it

This Surprising Toxin Can Lead to Genetic Defects and Miscarriages…

Posted By Dr. Mercola | December 11 2010 | 15,329 views

bpa in baby bottlesAlthough more than 200 research studies show that bisphenol A (BPA) is harmful to human health, the U.S. government has decided that it would rather side with the chemical industry than with children.
The Senate failed to vote on the passage of a bill that would have resulted in a ban on the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups.
And in fact, the ban is no longer even in consideration. According to the Wall Street Journal:
"Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) was the primary backer of a controversial amendment banning the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, which has been linked to some cancers, in baby bottles and sippy cups.

On Wednesday, she withdrew the amendment from consideration."
Feinstein says she'll keep fighting to make the ban a reality.



Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) amendment to the latest food-safety bill would have banned the use of the toxic chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) from baby bottles and sippy cups, required the FDA to finalize their safety assessment of the chemical by December 2012, and allowed states to ban the chemical entirely if they so choose.
Unfortunately, thanks to heavy pressure from the chemical industry, the amendment has been withdrawn from consideration.

U.S. Babies and Children at Risk From BPA

That BPA should be taken out of all products intended for children is a no-brainer.
Of 115 published animal studies, 81 percent found significant effects from even low-level exposure to BPA. This toxic chemical, an endocrine disrupter, first caught researchers' attention after normal mice began to display uncommon genetic abnormalities.
The defects were linked to plastic cages and water bottles that had been cleaned with a harsh detergent, causing BPA to leach out of the plastic.
After determining how much BPA the mice had been exposed to, the researchers realized even an extremely small dose of 20 parts per billion daily, for just five to seven days, was enough to produce effects.
Some of the greatest concern surrounds early-life exposure to BPA, which can lead to chromosomal errors in the developing fetus, triggering spontaneous miscarriages and genetic damage. And being exposed to just 0.23 parts per billion of BPA is enough to disrupt the effect of estrogen in a baby's developing brain.
For this reason, women of childbearing age and those who are pregnant, along with infants and children, should be especially diligent at avoiding BPA.

BPA in Baby Bottles Already Banned in Canada, Why Not the U.S.?

BPA in baby bottles has already been banned in Canada and several U.S. states. Other measures are being considered in 30 U.S. states and municipalities -- but at a federal level, the government is treading water and choosing to protect the interests of the chemical industry in favor of public health.
The American Chemistry Council, a lobby group for the chemical industry that issued a statement in early 2010 denying the health hazards of BPA, clearly does not want to see this cash cow bite the dust ... nor be held accountable for health problems related to its use. They will pull out all the stops to keep this chemical in your food packaging, baby bottles, and more for as long as possible.
Despite all the research showing serious health effects at low-level exposure, the U.S. FDA has virtually no power to do anything about it because BPA was classified in 1963 as an indirect food additive and is listed among the 3,000 or so chemicals categorized as GRAS ("generally regarded as safe").
This outdated GRAS designation is what exempts BPA from more careful scrutiny and analysis.
According to the FDA's regulations, a substance granted GRAS status is not subject to FDA review. The Agency explains these limitations via an "update" on its website:
"Current BPA food contact uses were approved under food additive regulations issued more than 40 years ago. This regulatory structure limits the oversight and flexibility of the FDA.
Once a food additive is approved, any manufacturer of food or food packaging may use the food additive in accordance with the regulation. There is no requirement to notify the FDA of that use.
For example, today there exist hundreds of different formulations for BPA-containing epoxy linings, which have varying characteristics. As currently regulated, manufacturers are not required to disclose to FDA the existence or nature of these formulations.
Furthermore, if the FDA were to decide to revoke one or more approved uses, the FDA would need to undertake what could be a lengthy process of rulemaking to accomplish this goal."

Where is BPA Found?

In 2009, more than 6 billion pounds of BPA were made, representing nearly $7 billion in sales. It is one of the world's highest production-volume chemicals and is widely used in the production of:
  • Plastic water bottles
  • Plastic gallon milk bottles
  • Plastic microwavable plates, ovenware, and utensils
  • Baby toys, bottles, pacifiers, and sippy cups
  • Canned foods and soda cans (most have plastic lining in the cans)
  • Tooth sealants
The use of BPA is so pervasive that scientists have found that 95 percent of people tested have dangerous levels of BPA in their bodies.
Again, some of the biggest victims are your children, who may be exposed to the chemical while in utero, and are quite literally "fed" the chemical via plastic baby bottles, sippy cups and toys (which they often put in their mouths).
The cumulative effect of being exposed to minuscule amounts of BPA from cans, bottles, plates and all other sources over the years can eventually spell serious trouble for your health.
One recent study found the chemical can lead to heart disease, diabetes and liver problems in adults, and previous research has linked BPA to:
  • Structural damage to your brain
  • Hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, and impaired learning
  • Increased fat formation and risk of obesity
  • Altered immune function
  • Early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles, and ovarian dysfunction
  • Changes in gender-specific behavior, and abnormal sexual behavior
  • Stimulation of prostate cancer cells
  • Increased prostate size, and decreased sperm production
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Liver damage

You Can Take Action, Even if the Federal Government Won't

There has been enough negative press about BPA that the public has been demanding safer, BPA-free alternatives. As a result, as of late summer 2010 BPA bills were pending in five state legislatures, and earlier this year numerous positive steps have been made to get this toxin out of U.S. food containers:
  • Vermont banned BPA in baby food, formula and bottles, and will restrict its use in metal food cans starting July 1, 2014
  • New York state banned BPA in bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers and drinking straws beginning December 2010
  • General Mills announced in April 2010 that it would use BPA-free cans for Muir Glen organic tomatoes starting with the next harvest
Certain manufacturers, including Philips Avent, Disney First Years, Gerber, Dr. Brown, Playtex and Evenflow, have also said they will stop making baby bottles that contain BPA, while several major retailers, including CVS, Kmart, Walmart, Toys R Us and Babies R Us are removing BPA-containing products from their stores.
So the good news is that there are plenty of resources available for you to find BPA-free alternatives for your family. Please support the companies that are removing this chemical from their products, and look for BPA-free labels on all baby bottles and children's toys you buy.
You can further reduce your family's exposure to this toxic chemical by following these 11 tips:
  1. Only use glass baby bottles and dishes for your baby.
  2. Get rid of your plastic dishes and cups, and replace them with glass alternatives.
  3. Give your baby natural fabric toys instead of plastic ones, and only BPA-free pacifiers and teethers.
  4. Store your food and beverages in glass -- NOT plastic -- containers. Glass is the safest and most inert way to store your water and food, and is far better than ANY plastic (even BPA-free varieties).
  5. IF you choose to use a microwave, don't microwave food in a plastic container.
  6. Use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel travel coffee mugs rather than plastic or Styrofoam coffee cups.
  7. Avoid using plastic wrap (and never microwave anything covered in it).
  8. If you opt to use plastic kitchenware, at least get rid of the older, scratched-up varieties, avoid putting them in the dishwasher, and don't wash them with harsh detergents, as these things can cause more BPA to leach into your food.
  9. Avoid using bottled water; filter your own using a high-quality filter instead.
  10. Before allowing a dental sealant to be applied to your, or your children's, teeth, ask your dentist to verify that it does not contain BPA.
  11. Avoid using canned foods (including soda cans) as the linings often contain BPA. If you do eat canned foods, choose only those that come in BPA-free cans.

Related Links:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

That's Souper

The one thing I love about staying in cold Wyoming through one more winter is the opportunity to create lots and lots of delicious soup. And here is yet another idea. I am so sorry that I don't have real recipes.

8-10 medium potatoes ( I used my little spuds and had to double that at least) chopped and placed in pot.
Add water until just covering the potatoes.
Add 2 Tbs garlic powder (or more to taste)
Add juice from 1 lime
Add about 1 Tbs salt
Cover and boil over medium heat
Once potatoes are tender, pour potatoes and water into blender and blend thoroughly.
While still in blender, add 1 Tbs cilantro (or more to taste) and either 1 can green chiles or roasted red peppers. I added the red peppers.
Blend just enough to chop mixture, but not puree.
Add mixture back into pot and taste. Make any adjustments necessary. Once suitable, remove from heat and add 1/2 cup sour cream (or kefir) and stir in. Serve with quesadillas. Enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another Recipe (kind of)

I like to experiment with food. I also like to use what I have on hand. Those two thoughts combined, made this wonderful concoction tonight.

I used some of the remaining garden fresh tomatoes (they have been sitting on my counter for weeks slowly turning from green to red).

I started by cutting about 12+ medium tomatoes and adding them to a pot with about 3 cups of water, 2 TBS garlic powder, 1 1/2 TBS Italian Seasoning and 1 tsp salt. While these ingredients cooked, I brought another pot of water to full boil and cooked the tortellini to tender. I simmered the tomatoes in the pot until tender then transferred the liquid to my blender. Once thoroughly mixed I placed soup back in pot and turn burner to low, and added the last of this year's cilantro (about 1 TBS) I might add a little less because the flavor was strong, but I still like it. And Added the juice from 1/2 a lime (again you could add less). Once soup has cooled some, add 1 cup kefir and stir in. Remove from heat. Add cooked and strained tortellini.
Enjoy! So good! I'm gonna go have another bowl. Shhh... don't tell.

Oh, and I promise I will get to why I don't use the microwave. I just have so much going on right now and so many different thoughts for other posts.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chocolate Winner(s)!

Since so few signed up (a little depressing) I decided to have three winners.
And they are:


Please leave a comment with your top two flavors of choice and Bubba I need your address to mail it to you.

Oh, and I only have one of each flavor because I didn't do the drawing until after I left Utah. So, make sure to give me two choices in case someone else wanted that flavor too. Reminder, the flavors are orange, raspberry, chocolate, mint, peanut butter and almond.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oh, My!

In The Pink Series Half Marathon (more on this later) goody bag last weekend I found one of these:

 Oh, my! Heaven. In the form of chocolate.
This afternoon I stumbled upon them in a store and bought some more. The only flavor I haven't tried is the mint (not a huge fan of mint) but they are all delicious. They have orange, mint, raspberry, peanut butter, almond and chocolate. I think my favorites are almond and peanut butter.

Utah Truffles. They have no preservatives, no transfats and no hydrogenated oils. And you can actually pronounce everything on the ingredient list! Bonus!

Because I want to share the wealth (and get some subscribers) if you become a follower of and leave a comment, you will get a chance to win a truffle bar of your choice. Just make sure to leave a comment as well. Oh, and Jeri and Bubba get entered in twice because they became followers a long time ago.

Giveaway ends Saturday at noon MST

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Reasons to Eat Pomegranates
Dissecting a pomegranate is worth it!
Not only are they delicious, this funny, apple-shaped, hard-husked fruit is also incredibly good for you!

 Researchers report that they are rich in antioxidants that can keep bad LDL cholesterol from oxidizing (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2000). In addition, pomegranate juice, like aspirin, can help keep blood platelets from clumping together to form unwanted clots.

Does this make any difference clinically? More recent research has found that eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily for three months improved the amount of oxygen getting to the heart muscle of patients with coronary heart disease (American Journal of the College of Cardiology, Sept. 2005). Other researchers report that long-term consumption of pomegranate juice may help combat erectile dysfunction (Journal of Urology, July 2005).

Investigators are also excited about the possibility that pomegranate compounds might prevent prostate cancer or slow its growth (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sept. 26, 2005). Other research reports suggest that pomegranate juice might help reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Even arthritis may yield to the power of pomegranates. Scientists at Case Western Reserve University have reported that tissue cultures of human cartilage cells respond to pomegranate extract. Inflammation is reduced and the enzymes that break down cartilage become less active (Journal of Nutrition, Sept. 2005). This is still far from a prescription for aching joints, but most experts agree that a little pomegranate wont hurt and might help.

One traditional use of pomegranate juice is to calm diarrhea.

Symbolism of the Pomegranate
The symbolism of the pomegranate is also interesting. Said to represent wealth, wisdom, and is called "God's Fruit." It is also told to be a representation of woman, the womb and fertility for its abundance of seeds.
The pomegranate is one of the oldest recorded fruits. It is mentioned by Moses in the bible. The importance of the pomegranate spans a variety of religions from Judaism to Christianity and is found in diverse cultures such as Armenia and China.

Whatever the religion you practice, region where you live or your gender, there are reasons to enjoy this beautiful, and rich fruit.

My Local Find
Luckily, for me, it is pomegranate season in Southern Utah and I just happened to get a grocery sack full of the beautiful fruit...FOR FREE! The lady was so kind to just give them to me. You never know, the next time you pass a heavy fruit-laden tree, take a risk, knock on the door and see what you can get.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another Reason to Plant a Garden

What I did:

Begin by simmering carrots in a stir-fry pan (or any other hard vegetable such as broccoli). Add a little water in addition to 1/4 to 1/2 cup soy sauce. As water boils out, replace it until carrots reach slight tenderness. I DO NOT LIKE MY VEGETABLES SOGGY IN STIR FRY. Sorry to yell, but it is serious business with me :)
After carrots have been cooking for about 5 min. add onions.
Next, add squash, sugar snap peas, peppers and juice from one lime.
Add 2-3 TBS honey.
Last, add tomatoes.
Serve over cooked brown rice.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's Taking Over...And I Love it!

I have never wanted to visit New York City more!

For more information click here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I don't know what it is about sprouts that makes me smile. Maybe it's that they look like mini-weeds, or that they're so easy to grow, or perhaps it's just that they are so stinkin' good for you and taste great at the same time. I don't know.

Lately I have been really diggin' this sandwich:
So, in the two+ years I have been growing sprouts, I think I have finally come up with the best way to grow them. We tried in a sprouting bag, a mason jar and now this:

The secret is (lean in and I'll whisper): the largest organic spring mix container from Safeway.

First, soak your sprouts over night. The instructions on my package says the seeds just need twice the amount of water as sprouts, but I don't measure it, I just dump the water on in.

The next morning, get empty salad container, and poke holes in the bottom. You don't want the holes big enough for the sprouts to fall through. I used a carving fork to make the holes, but you could use a push pin.

 After that, line the bottom with a durable paper towel (you will be leaving this in the bottom the entire time).

Next, pour sprouts into the container (over the sink :) and rinse with water.

Leave the container in the sink until most water has dripped out.

Lightly cover container with lid and drape dark towel over container.
These babies are growin'
Rinse daily (instructions say twice daily, but I found once was enough).

Last step, and most important one, leave sprouts in lighted (not direct sunlight) area for 4-6 hours or until green. The sprouts reach their full nutritional level after this process. Be sure to allow time for them to turn green.

Oh, and then enjoy!

Here is a great resource.

And just check out this chart!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Did It

I paid $60.

And registered online.

No more second-guessing myself.

I am going to run a half-marathon.

And I am going to do it October 16.

In Park City, Utah.

And, it's gonna be fun.

Read more about it here.

And here.

And here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm Back

...well, kinda. I'm back on my blog after a week+ hiatus because we have been visiting family. But I'm not back home yet.

Being a visitor in someone else's home is a struggle when trying to stick to a more natural/organic/local diet. However, here are a few tips for you to try on your next trip.

1) Relax. You're not going to be in charge (for the most part) of what, where or when you eat. So, choose not to stress over it. It's okay if you eat out more than you do at home. Being healthy really is about making the right choices 80-90% of the time. Not 100%.

2) Pack what you can to bring with you. Troy and I had some fresh produce from our garden that we knew we would go bad anyway while we were gone, so we took it with us. It makes for much better snacks on the long drive as well as healthier options once you get there. I even brought my kefir with me (much to my mother-in-law's dismay).

3) If in season, try out the local flavor. There are actually more options for locally grown produce right now in Utah then there are in Wyoming which means that I have visited the road-side stands with cash in hand. Yum. And I am lucky enough to have parents that also garden, so when we leave tomorrow I will be bringing back organic pears, grapes, squash, tomatoes and peppers and I'll grab a couple of boxes of peaches, apples and a flat or two of berries from the local farmers.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Great Recipe

I got this recipe from here.

We were invited to a friend's house for chili so I found this recipe and it turned out delicious AND IT USES KEFIR!. However, because of time constraint, I wasn't able to try soaking the grains even though I know how much better it is for you. Check back next week for a post on soaking/sprouting.


Amount: 8″ Square Baking Pan (12-16 pieces) I ended up baking mine in a cheesecake pan because I don't own a 8" square pan. It worked perfectly.

Bake: 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) 25-35 minutes

1. Place in blender; blend at high speed 3-5 minutes (the blender will “grind” the grain into a batter in the liquid medium. If it is a little gritty, blend more or let it set overnight for a smoother batter using the two stage soaking method.

1 cup kefir (my first choice!), buttermilk, sour milk, or yogurt

1/4 cup melted butter or olive oil
or 2 tablespoons each butter and oil (I use 2 Tbsp of coconut oil & 2 Tbsp olive oil or butter)
3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
2/3 cup whole kernel dry corn
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry grain or 3/4 cup kamut grain
If you would like to use flour, use 1 cup of cornmeal and 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour or kamut flour in replacement for the grain above. That's what I did since I didn't have the whole ingredients or the time to soak them. In fact, I didn't even use pastry flour. I used regular organic whole wheat flour and while it ended a little dense, I thought it was fine.
Second Stage: Optional (Recommended) Cover blender or bowl. Let batter stand at room temperature overnight or about 12-24 hours.
Add 2 eggs & blend

2. Mix in thoroughly, but briefly, using blender and/or rubber spatula as needed:
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

3. Pour batter immediately into greased baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) 25-35 minutes or until knife or toothpick comes clean out of center. Mine was done at 25 min. so check yours on the early side of it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Coconut Oil

Let's begin!

I love coconut oil. I first discovered it on accident (as so happens with most of my true loves: Troy,)
I was looking for a remedy to my white tongue (I hadn't yet realized it was thrush) and magically googled upon something called oil pulling. I think it's fabulous by the way, but again, that's another post. Along with helping my thrush. I soon discovered that oil pulling with coconut oil was also good for helping dental problems. I had been to the dentist a few month prior and he wanted to have me come back for the beginning stages of a cavity near the gum on one of my upper teeth. I didn't make the appointment. Go ahead and judge, I know I'm horrible. But after oil pulling off and on every day for a while, my tooth no longer hurt. When I went back to the dentist 6 months later, nothing showed up on the x-ray and the dentist never mentioned anything about the tooth...because there was now nothing wrong with it! It didn't...DOESN'T...hurt anymore. Pretty amazing.

The oil pulling with coconut oil led me to find other great reasons to use coconut oil.

For instance, did you know that coconut oil is good for your hair? It is also great for skin care, stress relief, weight loss, improving the immune system, helping digestion and metabolism, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, remedying kidney problems, high blood pressure, cancer...are you getting sick of the list yet? Well, needless to say, it is a miracle oil!

The benefits of coconut oil are attributed to its being a source of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.

Lauric Acid
The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV.
and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.

Coconut oil is made up of more than ninety percent of saturated fats (If you read my previous post you know not to panic!), with traces of few unsaturated fatty acids, such as monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. It also is a source of Vitamin-E, Vitamin K and important minerals such as Iron.

Hair Care:
One of the best natural nutrition for hair, Coconut oil helps in healthy growth and shiny hair. By regularly massaging your head with coconut oil you can be rid of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged hair. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. Coconut oil is normally applied topically for hair care.

Skin Care: Coconut oil is excellent massage oil for the skin as well. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin. The benefit of coconut oil on the skin is comparable to that of mineral oil. . It also delays wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. But I have found that merely ingesting coconut oil will improve the complexion.

Premature Aging: Coconut oil helps in preventing premature aging and degenerative diseases due to its antioxidant properties.

Heart Diseases: There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for the heart (because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats). However, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as it happens in case of other vegetables oils. It does not lead to increase in LDL levels. It also reduces the incidence of injury in arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis.

Weight Loss: Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases. Studies have been done with people just taking 1 tsp a day of coconut oil and not doing anything different in their diets and losing 3-5 lbs. per year.

Digestion: Internal use of coconut oil occurs primarily as cooking oil. Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc., that cause indigestion. Coconut oil also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Immunity: Coconut oil is also good for the immune system. It strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, and even HIV. It helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria and harmful protozoa such as giardia.

Healing: When applied on infections, it forms a chemical layer which protects the infected body part from external dust, air, fungi, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil is most effective on bruises as it speeds up the healing process by repairing damaged tissues.

Infections: Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. According to the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, etc. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, etc. Coconut oil is also effective on fungi and yeast that cause candida, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, etc.

Liver: Coconut oil is easily converted into energy when it reaches the liver, thus reducing work load on the liver and also preventing accumulation of fat.

Kidney: Coconut oil helps in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases. It also helps in dissolving kidney stones.

Diabetes: Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.

Bones: As mentioned earlier, coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium which are necessary for development of bones. Thus coconut oil is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis after middle age.

Dental Care: Calcium is an important element in healthy teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in getting strong teeth. Coconut oil also stops tooth decay.

HIV and Cancer: It is believed that coconut oil plays an instrumental role in reducing viral susceptibility of HIV and cancer patients.

Finally, coconut oil is often preferred by athletes and body builders and by those who are dieting. The reason behind this being that coconut oil contains lesser calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps in boosting energy and endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes.

Personally, I love to add coconut oil when I make homemade granola, muffins, banana bread, or stir fry. It would be great in just about anything! Especially if you don't care for the sometimes overpowering taste of olive oil. Coconut oil is subtle and slightly nutty and sweet.
I am dying to try this no-bake cookie with coconut oil and a few others I have seen on various blogs. This lady loves to cook with it. And here is a big list of recipes. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but doesn't like high heat. When cooking with coconut oil it is optimal to cook at a lower heat for a longer amount of time. But if that won't work...c'est la vie.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bringin' Back the PHAT

I wanted to write a post about one of my very favorite "new" discoveries: Coconut oil.

However, one can't really talk about the benefits of extra-virgin coconut oil without first going into fats in general. So, this post is on the different types of fats and why knowing about them matters. Next post will be on my favorite source for fat: Coconut oil.

Most people now-a-days know to stay away from trans fats, but what they don't know is just how prevalent they really are (ie in margarine, cake mix, pretty much every cracker (including the goldfish you feed to your toddler) almost every granola bar and candy such as starbursts. Start reading the labels because it's in pretty much anything pre-made or boxed. Not to mention deep fried and fast food. Even in some breads).

Trans fats, while openly labeled when they are NOT in a product, are not as easily recognizable when IN something. They hide under many different names, but almost always have the term "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" in it.

So, now, let's talk about just what "hydrogenated" means.

Hydrogenated fats are liquid fats that have been injected with hydrogen gas at high temperatures under high pressure to make the fat solid at room temperature. This process makes them indigestible (goes straight to storage if not used). Another danger about transfats is that they have a different DNA structure than natural fats (unsaturated, polyunsaturated...and even saturated).

My nutrition professor back in college explained it this way:

If a saturated fat strand is shaped this way in the body: VVVVVVV , then every time your body stores fat, they stack up nicely one on top of the other.

Then along comes a transfat strand shaped like this: MMMMMM. It doesn't stack the same, causing a the fat to take up more space in the person's body and the person to actually be LARGER than had they just eaten saturated fats.

But lets get to the real reason to avoid hydrogenated fats. Trans fats have been directly linked to cancer, obesity, immune-system dysfunction, birth defects, sterility, diabetes,  to just name a few. YIKES! Those are all things we want to avoid!

Natural fats on the other hand...are fats that were intended for humans to eat (*ahem* they're found in nature and not man-made in a laboratory somewhere. Just eat them in moderation).

Natural Fats:
Natural fats are fats found in fish, cod liver oil, olive oil, extra-virgin coconut oil, omega-3 eggs (those are produced by free-range chickens allowed to eat grasses), as well as organic grass-fed meats or other organic animal products such as butter, cheeses, yogurt, kefir, and milk.

Perhaps you're thinking, "But those are loaded with saturated fats."
Contrary to common belief, saturated fats are not bad for you (as long as they are from sources stated above  and not a Krispy Kreme doughnut). Don't believe me?

  • Saturated fatty acids make up 50% of all cell membranes. (Hmm...cell formation...that's important)
  • Saturated fats are needed in order to effectively incorporate calcium into your bones. (Ever heard of osteoporosis? Guess that's important too!)
  • Saturated fats actually LOWER LP (LP is a substance in the blood that determines if you are proned to heart disease).
  • It is impossible for a saturated fat to be hydrogenated. The structure of the molecule doesn't allow it.
  • Saturated fats protect the liver from toxins.
  • Saturated fats enhance the immune system.
  • Saturated fats are actually the PREFERRED fuel of the heart (which is why the fat around the heart muscle is highly saturated)
  • Saturated fatty acids found in butter, coconut and palm oil have important microbial properties which protect us from harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract.**
Our bodies were made to consume and use fats. We need fat for our brains, joints and skin. In fact, most people probably know this. We weren't, however, made to eat so much sugar. Too much sugar ruins your teeth, causes liver and kidney problems, causes diabetes and weakens bones by depleting calcium levels in the body.

Why is it then that when people want to lose weight they actually do non-fat or low-fat diets? 

We should be doing low-sugar diets! (But that's another post)

So, don't be afraid of fats. Just learn about them and which ones to eat.

**most of this information was taken from The Maker's Diet by Jordan S. Rubin. Excellent read, by the way.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Story

Eating organic kind of crept up on me. I mean, I had previously heard things saying that it's better for you, but I thought, "Maybe, but it's also way more expensive." It wasn't until I found a new friend who eats organically that I began asking questions and really figuring out why it's the better way.

And the clincher for me? I want to have a baby.

I am convinced that my overall health plays a huge role in eventually having the ability to bear a child (or two or three:) I was already beginning to make changes in my diet looking for an answer to my multiple miscarriages. I had tried going off dairy and gone completely gluten-free for a time. And, I had been praying and fasting for answers and guidance as to what to do next. I don't say that to try to convince anyone that this is the only way. I say it only to state that I know for me, going as natural as possible is the right thing to do.

Now that I know it is most likely because of MTHFR A1298C, and the fact that my body doesn't metabolize folic acid the way it should, it made me start to wonder if I could just go to the source for other nutritional discrepancies as well: FOOD.

While I still eat randomly and pig-out somewhat, at least most all of my food choices are fresh and NOT boxed, pre-made, full of preservatives and names I can't pronounce. And I feel a difference. I feel healthier and happier. I'm not skinnier, but I have more energy and even my skin in clearer than it has been in a while. For me, the benefits certainly out-weigh the cost.

My goal for this blog is not to coerce or persuade people into believing or acting a certain way. My intention is to state what I do, why I do it and add a few other voices into the mix. Then, perhaps you will go out, do some more research and decide for yourself. This blog isn't a soap box and I am no politician preaching my agenda. I'm just another blogger with her opinion. Feel free to disagree. But please leave comments :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Friend, Kefir

Not to be confused with this guy.

This is the pal I'm meaning:
Cute little fella'

Why you should get one (of his zillions of siblings) for a friend of yours:
1. Kefir is a natural. As in, a natural probiotic.
2. He's super easy to have around. I have left him forgotten, sitting in my fridge for months at a time only to put him in a new bottle with fresh milk and voila! He's good as new.
3. He is versatile. Add the kefir milk to fresh oatmeal or make a fruit smoothie. You can even use the milk to make a cool and creamy salad dressing. Not bad.
4. Kefir will beat up the bad guys for you.
5. And, he is good for you. Enough said.

Link over here to find more reasons why.

More information about Kefir
Kefir is fermented milk that ends up taking the consistency of runny yogurt. You can find it in the stores in a smoothie type bottle, but these do not have the live culture for you to grow on your own.
A kefir grain (that's what the cultures are called) looks like a small cauliflower floret (see my picture above). The grains are a combination of bacteria and yeast, as well as small amounts of sugars and proteins. Because kefir is a culture, it will grow in size.

You can make your own kefir by adding the grain to milk (about 7 or 8 TBS milk to 1 TBS kefir). I do this in a glass jar (with lid). Be sure to keep the jar out of direct sunlight. Allow the milk to sit at room temperature for 12+ hours  to ferment. If it is warm in your house the kefir will ferment quicker than in a cold atmosphere. If this kind of creeps you out, you can leave the jar in the fridge, but it will take MUCH MUCH longer to thicken. When the liquid is thick like runny yogurt, it is done. Strain the kefir to find the grain and repeat the process. Use the milk mixture as kefir. (Kefir will keep in the refrigerator for months!)

Kefir tastes similar to plain yogurt, but it is an acquired taste. And of course, you can add fresh fruit to it to sweeten it up!

If you linked over earlier in the post, you will know that kefir has many health benefits. Kefir is full of probiotics and vitamins. The coolest thing, in my opinion, is that it actually restructures the bacteria in your intestines (unlike yogurt). And will help digest your food. A lot of people that have IBS or something similar really just need good kefir and then their tummies would be more settled. Kefir also helps with gas and bloating. You could almost just plan on eating some kefir before/after/during every meal and it would help your digestive system tremendously! Additionally, if you have a lactose intolerance, you can still eat kefir because kefir digests the sugars in the milk.

Kefir can also be used as a substitute for buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt in various recipes. This can depend on the recipe and how long you've cultured the batch of kefir, since the kefir gets more tangy the longer it cultures. And since homemade kefir is cheaper than yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk, there are endless ways to use it if you want to get creative!

Where can you get a kefir?
The easiest way to obtain some kefir culture is to get some from a friend who is making kefir.
Here is a list of people who either sell or give away (sometimes free to local pick-up, or just for the cost of shipping) kefir grains. (You have to email the individuals through that webpage for details.)

You can also find them online or at some health food stores.

Be sure to get kefir grains, not just a "starter", which is sometimes sold. Kefir grains can be used "forever", whereas "starters" can only be used 7 times.

*Many types of milk may be used to culture kefir, but kefir grains that are cultured in non-animal milk will stop growing. Consider using your excess grains to culture soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, etc.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why Visit Your Local Farmer's Market?

The new trend is to shop locally, but why? What's so great about buying local? Especially if the produce/product is more expensive and/or not even organic?

Well, I'll tell you.

Buying locally is the very tail end of the product cycle that started with a tiny seed. A seed that, thanks to big companies like Monsanto*, have been genetically modified and patented. Who knew anyone could get the genetic rights to a plant? I thought only God created living things, but I'm wrong. Plants grown by Monsanto are altered (for the point of this post, although there are other modifications) to terminate after bearing fruit. The plant no longer goes through the entire life cycle taught in 9th grade biology. It won't produce seeds. If by some chance it does, the seeds won't produce anything. These are called terminator seeds. (tee hee. Click here for the real link) (if you link over, just know that it is already happening. I have a friend whose family owns a small organic farm in Star Valley. They have already been contacted by Monsanto and told they need to no longer harvest their own seeds. And it's not worth the fight for them because they can't afford the court fees So, they have to buy their seeds each year or get a hold of heirloom seeds and produce those). Pretty bold to scientifically alter the very nature of life given by God. But it's all about being able to market something. If you sell something to a farmer and he can keep growing it without you, where's the profit? **

Anyway, when you shop from farmer's markets it is likely that you are buying not only from people who need your support financially, but their plants are heirloom plants. That means they haven't been altered. Their seeds have come from previous plants and have been grown and passed down from generations.

Another reason to buy from local farmers is because of the cost in transportation, or if you care about being green, the carbon impact. Think about how much gasoline it takes to transport that apple from New Zealand, half-way around the world for $1.59/lb. vs. the apple grown even a state away for $1.99. It makes the actual cost of your fruit a lot higher even if you think you're paying less. And less of that money goes back to the actual laborer.

Then, there is the fact that the fruits and vegetables are in season when purchased locally. None of the pink-ish, tasteless tomatoes or squishy grapes. I know first-hand just how different a peach tastes within hours of right off the tree vs. Wal-mart. Did you know that when you buy apples from Wal-mart you are most likely buying an apple that was grown at LEAST over a year ago? Apples are frozen, stored and then thawed. If you are getting any fruit/vegetable in any season other than the one it naturally grows, it had to come from somewhere other than where you live, or been unnaturally preserved to get to you.

Check this out for more information on why to buy from farmer's markets, or visit these links to find one near you!

We'll chat later on why GMO foods are so bad for you.

*To quote directly from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:
"'The Strange Case of Percy Schmeiser'
In 1999, a quiet middle-aged farmer from Bruno, Saskatchewan, was sued by the largest biotech seed producer in the world. Monsanto, Inc. claimed that Percy Schmeiser had damaged them, to the tune of $145,000, by having their patented gene in some of the canola plants on his 1,030 acres. The assertion was not that Percy had actually planted the seed, or even that he obtained the seed illegally. Rather, the argument was that the plants on Percy's land contained genes belonging to Monsanto. The gene, patented in Canada in the early 1990s, gives genetically modified (GM) canola plants the fortitude to withstand spraying by glyphosate herbicides such as Roundup, sold by Monsanto.

Canola, a cultivated variety of rapeseed, is one of over three thousand species in the mustard family. Pollen from mustard is transferred either by insects, or by wind, up to one-third of a mile. Does the patented gene travel in the pollen? Yes. Are the seeds viable? Yes, and can remain dormant up to ten years. If seeds remain in the soil from previous years, it's illegal to harvest them. Further, if any of the seeds from a field contain the patented genes, it is illegal to save them for use. Percy had been saving his seeds for fifty years. Monsanto was suing for possession for intellectual property that had drifted onto his plants. The laws protect possession of the gene itself, irrespective of its conveyance. Because of pollen drift and seed contamination, the Monsanto genes are ubiquitous in Canadian canola.

Percy lost his court battles: he was found guilty in the Federal Court of Canada, the conviction upheld in the court of appeals. The Canadian Supreme Court narrowly upheld the decision (5-4). but with no compensation to Monsanto. This stunning case has drawn substantial attention to the problems associated with letting GM genies out of their bottle. Organic canola farmers in Saskatchewan have now sued Monsanto and another company, Aventis, for making it impossible for Canadian farmers to grow organic canola..." Pretty pathetic if you ask me.

**Specific foods to avoid because of genetic manipulation are corn (in any variety, and it's in almost EVERYTHING, even powdered sugar!), canola and soy unless the package specifically states that it is not GMO (genetically modified).