Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Zero Waste Family---NOT mine!

My friend brought this to my attention awhile ago and I've FINALLY gotten around to checking it out. They are the Johnson family from California and they're about as close to having zero waste as you can get! I found this short clip on YouTube and it's a great summary of what they do, or more appropriately, DON'T do. Those bulk bins at the Raisin Rack are looking better and better!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Milk. It does a body...good??

As I mentioned before my mom just watched Forks Over Knives recently. I was telling her about my recent doctor's appointment, where I told them I was a vegetarian and was of course inundated with questions about my diet and my ability to get all the nutrients I need. (I always want to ask these people, "When was the last time YOU ate Kale? Have you had a dose of DHA today? You're so worried about my protein intake...do YOU know how much protein I need in a day, and how different foods fulfill that amount? I DO!!! I made a conscious decision to eat a healthier diet and I'm doing just that! Stop worrying about my nutrition! Isn't it obvious it's a top priority for me? Why don't you ask me when the last time I drank Coke was or ate at McDonalds???? These are REAL dietary concerns. And my rant is over. Thanks for hanging in there!) I told the nurse that I was not vegan and I was getting enough calcium because I still drink milk. My mom reminded me what FOK said about milk, that it actually robs our bones of calcium, doing exactly the opposite of what we've always been told. So I thought I'd do a little research and see what I could find on the topic. Turns out, and here's a shocker, there's conflicting research! One side says, "First of all, calcium appears to be ultimately pulled from bones to escort digested animal protein from any source -- not just dairy products -- on its trek through the body. Since the average American's diet is protein-heavy to begin with, some experts say that eating lots of dairy foods may actually cause people to lose calcium. "When you eat a protein food, such as milk, you may be swallowing calcium, but you turn around and excrete calcium in your urine," says Donna Herlock, MD, spokeswoman for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit advocacy group opposed to milk consumption." Of course the other side says, " "For every gram of protein you eat, you lose 1.75 milligrams of calcium." Using this calculation, since each glass of milk provides 8 grams of protein, you'll lose 14 out of 300 milligrams of calcium per glass -- which doesn't seem so bad. In fact, because the average American consumes approximately 75 grams of animal protein a day (though of course not all from milk), you'll still take in more calcium than you lose by drinking just one glass of milk (you'll consume 300 milligrams of calcium and only lose 131 milligrams).

Robert Heaney, MD, a professor of medicine at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., who specializes in bone biology, also shrugs off dairy dissenters. "The reason why dairy products work is that they contain not only calcium and protein but also phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin D, potassium, and other things associated with good bone health," he says. "It's the logical way to go.""

So, that REALLY helps me! My thinking is that as long as milk/dairy isn't my ONLY source of calcium I'll probably be ok. I looked up alternative sources of calcium, and I found another source that says, "Calcium is more poorly absorbed by folks eating a high protein diet, or high phosphorus foods (such as soda pop and milk). Calcium also is not well absorbed from sesame seeds unless they are ground or pulverized. A recent study(1) compared the absorption of calcium from kale with the absorption from milk revealing absorption of calcium from kale was 40.9%, compared with 32.1% from milk." Another point for kale!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Webinar

I know this is kind of last minute, but I just got the email about it today. Kiwi is having another Webinar:

Health Tech: Home Gadgets to Help You Through Cold & Flu Season

"ATMs, self-checkout kiosks at grocery stores, tablets, and cell phones: These technologies all make our lives easier and more convenient, but they can also spread viruses, bacteria, and other germs. This cold and flu season, make use of the technology that can potentially reduce your family’s exposure to viruses instead. Doctor and mom Jennifer Trachtenberg, pediatrician at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, will recommend gadgets that’ll help make cold and flu season a little more endurable, for kids and adults alike"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 12:00 PM - 12:45 PM

To register click here.


After a LONG wait, my mom finally got Forks Over Knives from NetFlix. She watched it over the weekend, called me to tell me how interesting she thought it was and that she was going to try to eat a more plant-based diet. My poor mother has been drug along on this healthy eating journey with me, so she's not TOO far off from being able to make this really work for her. And she's making me feel bad, because as I've said before, I KNOW I really should be eating a totally plant-based diet, I'm just too lazy to actually DO it. SO, this is wishing good luck to my mom as she tries to change her eating habits. If you've ever tried to change the way you eat, you know how hard it is, so I wish her the best! I know that it's going to keep her healthier and I'm excited to see if her body reacts like the people featured in FOK.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Germ Busters

Well, we're almost all healthy here again! Last night I was doing something that makes TOTAL sense, but most people don't think of...disinfecting our toothbrushes. My cousin used to be a dental hygienist and she said that when you're family's sick, you should disinfect your toothbrushes regularly to prevent reinfecting yourself. How does she suggest doing it? Denture cleaning tablets. You just fill a cup with hot water, add the fizzy tab and soak your toothbrush. I LOVE this idea because it's much more economical (and greener) than constantly replacing toothbrushes AND in our house, toothbrushes are always in such close contact that the likelihood of spreading germs that way is high. So I decided to share it with you. But then I though, "I don't really know what's IN those denture cleaning tablets" and I was pretty sure that there was probably a greener, more natural way to clean your dentures. So I Googled it. And here's a shocker....they suggest lemon juice to whiten the dentures (doesn't really apply to the disinfecting toothbrush thing) and then baking soda and vinegar. VINEGAR again! Is there anything that vinegar CAN'T clean? 1C hot water to 1 tsp vinegar will disinfect your toothbrushes if left to soak 1/2 hr or overnight. Just be sure to rinse well so you're not brushing your teeth with vinegar (yuck!)

**Just to be clear, I'm talking about doing this daily when my family is sick. The general rule (according to the ADA) is that you should still replace your toothbrush every 3-6 months. I'm not saying that you should use denture cleaner and keep the same toothbrush for a year!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Warm Breakfast

I finally got to make my Rice Porridge for breakfast this morning! I tried to make it a few nights ago (it cooks in the crock pot over night) but I had forgotten that I put some beans in to soak...about a week ago...and I had some BIG cleaning (and gagging and not breathing through my nose) to do! So now that my crock pot was clean and rotten-bean free, I did a 1:4 C ratio of brown rice to water and cooked overnight (I did 13 hrs which worked great!). So this morning I had one big serving of grains---it was GREAT! I felt like I was eating really well (I added dried blueberries and milk (and brown sugar, but that doesn't count because it's unhealthy. I SHOULD have done honey or pure maple syrup,)) and I didn't have any prep time in the morning, which is important for me. I love that I got all those whole grains in first thing in the morning, I feel like I've set a good precedent for the rest of the day. And by the way, it kind of turns mushy, so it's not like you're eating just grains of rice. It really does turn it into a porridge. It made a lot so I saved the rest for tomorrow! BONUS!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I can't pronounce it, but I'm blogging about it anyway. I found this in an article I was reading awhile back about natural cold and flu treatments (remember the wet sock thing?!) I didn't seek it out, since the long name sounded exotic and I didn't think I'd be able to find it easily, but as I was looking at Giant Eagle for cold/flu meds for my kids, it jumped out at me and I thought I'd give it a try. It came in a vial with little beads and I really wasn't sure if my kids would take it or not, but they LOVE it! I gave it when they were almost done with their flu (fevers were gone) so I kind of messed up because it's supposed to be given at the first signs of flu to help reduce the severity or length. It's a homeopathic remedy, which I read, isn't the same as herbs, they're actually drugs regulated by the FDA. Like I said, I can't really tell if this stuff worked well, since I gave it it at the end instead of the beginning, but it seems like it's helping with the symptoms they still have. I'm hoping that they don't get the flu again this year, but I'm going to keep it in mind for next year. I tried to look it up on Wikipedia to give you more info, but Wikipedia is down for 24 hours to make a statement about legislation, so you'll have to get the biased opinion of the manufacture's website. Sorry to be so one-sided!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Eating Locally...in January

I just got my email from Slow Food and an article about eating locally caught my eye. It's based out of Chicago, which is pretty close to us so I thought I'd read it. It really drives me nuts when I read California articles about eating seasonally, local food. Hey California, it's Ohio, we have this stuff called SNOW that makes it really hard to grow ANYTHING in a garden! Anyway, it's from Chicago. So I was reading through it, and I'll paste it here as well as the link so you can read it as well, but I liked something I read that made eating locally seem a little easier for me. It said something about someone going as far as making sure her salt was mined in Ohio. In my mind, eating locally, means that if it's not grown in Stark or the surrounding counties, it's not really local, but I guess I'm having kind of a narrow view. Local can mean Ohio and the surrounding states, not that there's a HUGE difference in what's available to eat in January in Ohio and in West Virginia, but still, it's a little easier to think of "local" as a much bigger range. So here's the article, I hope it inspires you to eat some more local winter squash too! (Acorn squash 6-8 hrs in a slow cooker---doesn't get easier than that!)

Eating locally grown food this time of year takes creativity

Story Image

Eating local after harvest is possible, Prairie Grass Cafe proves with Heirloom Squash with Goat Cheese. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

Updated: January 10, 2012 3:37PM

Each year, Lincoln Park’s Green City Market sponsors its “Locavore Challenge.” Participants try to eat only foods grown within 300 miles. The thing is, though, the two-week challenge takes place in September, when area produce is at its freshest and brightest.

Try it in January.

“Potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, celery root, sunchokes,” recites chef Carol Wallack of Sola restaurant, 3868 N. Lincoln. “You get a little bit bored because there’s not a lot available,” she says. “It becomes a test of creativity.”

“You get sick and tired of the same earth-toned, ivory-hued vegetables,” says chef Bruce Sherman of North Pond, 2610 N. Cannon Drive.

“It’s much easier than it used to be,” notes chef Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook, who points out that Green City Market will open Saturdays nearly all winter, and more nearby farmers are extending the season under glass, so pea shoots, sunflower sprouts, arugula and micro greens stay available, along with Midwest-grown dried fruit, beans, grains, cheese, eggs, meat and fish.

Why eat local?

Why not partake of the bounty of imported foods? “A lot of it tastes like crap,” Wallack says. “Have you ever tasted a tomato out of South America in the winter?”

Flavor is chief of the reasons locavores avoid long-traveled comestibles. “What is in season in your area is what tastes best,” says Stegner. She also likes knowing the growers. “I want to know what’s been done to my food along the way.”

Others cite desires to support the family farmers and sustainable agriculture, to eschew big agribusiness and to reduce consumption of natural resources used by excess “food miles.”

“It just feels like a more honest way to cook,” says chef David Dworshak of Carnivale, 702 W. Fulton Market.

“There’s something intrinsically satisfying about eating seasonally,” says Robert Gardner of Oak Park. Gardner, a founder of thelocalbeet.com, a website for Chicago locavores, has been eating local for six years. His family so loved the food from their nearby farmers market that they wanted similarly good-tasting fare all year-round. “Local food is the means, not the end,” he says.

“We don’t hold to some ultra-strict regime,” says Gardner, who still consumes nonlocal products like olive oil and citrus.

Dana Cox of Pullman, a culinary instructor at Kendall College, went local after a field trip to some factory farms. “I had a really visceral reaction,” she recalls.

It led her to spend a year on “The Honest Meal Project,” in which she avoided most industrially produced foodstuffs and ate “98 percent local,” she says, even to making sure that the Morton’s Salt she used was mined in Ohio. The 42-year-old Cox and new husband Dylan Lipe, executive corporate chef for Sweet Baby Ray’s restaurants in Wood Dale and Elk Grove Village, are embarking on another year of local eating they’ll chronicle at farmtotablecouple.com.

How to eat local

Cox found local squashes, apples, onions, mushrooms and greens were pretty much available all winter. “I got really creative with winter squash. I used squash in place of fruit.”

She relied on farmers markets and two community-supported agriculture subscriptions for farm produce.

“I had some fantastic meals,” she says, such as a cassoulet, “but distinctly American: black beans from Three Sisters Farm, smoked turkey legs from TJ’s Free Range, dried chiles and herbs from Wind Ridge Farm, mirepoix (carrot, onion, celery) from my Genesis Growers CSA box, tomatoes I’d canned from my own tiny city plot, and garlic from Nichols Farm.”

Eating local takes extra time for shopping and cooking, yet Cox says she spent only about an hour daily on sourcing and prepping her meals.

“You have to be willing to cook,” says Stegner.

“Most of the winter foods are not so easy to cook,” Gardner acknowledges, noting that while a summertime salad takes minutes to throw greens together, a wintertime counterpart might require time to roast root vegetables. You also have to be open to eating veggies such as kohlrabi, Cox says.

Dedicated locavores can and freeze fruit and vegetables in season and root-cellar long-keeping items such as apples, squash, cabbage and turnips.

“Lots of pickling and preserving,” says Dworshak, who insists that locally grown produce, even stored, preserved or frozen, has more flavor than off-season, trucked-in goods. “Sometimes when you pickle things, it actually tastes better,” he says.

“Nine times out of 10, it’s still going to taste better than the industrial product someone’s going to buy at the grocery store,” agrees Sherman.

“When you go to Whole Foods or Dominicks in March,” Gardner points out, “you’re buying stored foods anyway.”

Leah A. Zeldes is a local freelance writer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fresh Moves

I was waiting in the doctor's office today and I forgot my Kindle so I was watching the TV that they have in the waiting room....and I found this! It's a program called Fresh Moves and it's an old public bus that has been converted to a traveling produce aisle. It brings fresh, local and organic produce to residents in Chicago that live in what they call a food desert, where there aren't many grocery stores. This is the best clip that I could find (I went to youtube, but it was 11 minutes long and not narrated) so you'll have to excuse the trailer at the beginning since it's from a Chicago news website. I just thought it was such a great idea!

'Fresh Moves' Mobile Fruit and Vegetable Stand Heads to North Lawndale: MyFoxCHICAGO.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Green Heating

Winter?? My calendar says it's winter, but outside it just doesn't FEEL like winter to me. I need some snow I guess to make it REALLY winter. But either way, it's still cold and my heater is still running, which made me think, is there a way to green my heating? So of course, that's what I Googled and I found some interesting things. My husband says my blog posts aren't as interesting when I just quote other sites, so instead of writing everything I found, I'll just give you the site that I liked best and then tell you the one thing that really surprised me.

Fireplaces are NOT a good way to greenly heat your home! For some reason I thought they seemed like a good idea, even though ours are just for decoration (we've never had them cleaned and I don't want to try it out and see if we can start a house fire.). " On average, fireplaces are only about 10% efficient. That is, about 90% of their energy is lost through the chimney, along with loads of your home's warm air and energy dollars." I guess it DOES make sense, and I don't know why I never really thought of it before, but at least now I don't have to feel guilty for not getting that chimney cleaned and using the fire place to help heat my house!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Falling Off The Wagon

Ugg! I felt like CRAP yesterday! I was doing really well with my diet all week, then this weekend, I went out to eat, had pizza, ordered in...and my body rebelled! I was really surprised how fast my body adjusted to the healthy eating habits and I really didn't expect to feel the effects of going off that healthy diet so drastically so quickly. So now I know! I guess this diet is going to MAKE me stay on it...or else! So today I'm being SUPER good about eating well. I've already had most of my requirements, and doubled up so I don't have to eat a TON of food! The bad news is that I'm going out to dinner AGAIN tonight, so I'm going to have to be REALLY careful about what I order. The good news is that it's mexican, so it beans and rice should be easy...I hope.

I read an book two summers ago about teaching your children to eat healthy and then they'll make healthy food choices on their own because they'll feel badly when they don't. I didn't really think that would happen, but I guess I know now that it does. I just feel like my kids may think that it was worth it...I ALMOST would say that, if it had only been the Papa John's that did me in, but the other stuff put me over the edge! So green and leafy vegetables for me!

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Diet

Well, it's the new year and just like everyone else, I'm going on a diet. My diet is a little different than most, because my goal isn't to lose weight, but just to eat better. I'm sure there's probably some other diet that I could follow, but since I'm familiar with the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" diet, that's the one I'm doing. I like how it give serving sizes and ideas for each category. It gives different food categories, and how many servings each day you should be getting. It forces me to think about everything I put in my body and I hold myself accountable by a little dry erase chart that I keep on my fridge where I make tallies all day under each category as I get a serving. The best part is that I'm not hungry on the diet. And of course the best part is that it keeps me eating whole foods. Pizza doesn't really fit under any of the categories and neither do cookies. By the time I eat all my "requirements", I don't really have room for junk anyway. And what ARE those "requirements" you ask?!?!
3 Servings of protein
4 servings of calcium
3 servings of Vitamin C
3 servings of Green Leafy vegetables, yellow vegetables and yellow fruits
2 servings of other fruits and vegetables
6 servings of Whole grains and legumes
8 glasses of water

And there it is. Those 6 servings of whole grains can be a lot, but I usually overlap them with the proteins so I'm getting my vegetarian proteins as well as my grains/legume requirements. It's a lot to eat, so I usually try to overlap my servings whenever possible.

I went to the What To Expect When You're Expecting website and found the basic pregnancy diet online. (Did I mention that's what it's called? It sounds like you'll be eating nothing but all that crazy stuff you hear mom's say they craved during pregnancy, but trust me! It's a well balanced diet!)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Lunch

I had planned to share a recipe on here since I haven't done a REAL recipe in awhile (I'm not counting the snow ice cream one.) I made two things from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook by Cathe Olson. First, I made some Better Than Ginger Ale. It was pretty easy to do and I thought it was good, even though it didn't really taste much like ginger ale. It was a cup of sparkling mineral water and two teaspoons of ginger juice (coarsely grate fresh ginger root then squeeze to get the juice) and some Stevia (although you could use sugar too). It was interesting...I might use less ginger juice next time...maybe only one tsp.
I also made Soothing Mint Soup, which I've wanted to make for awhile, but I've been unable to find peppermint leaves. I finally gave up and just used the mint in the grocery store, which I'm pretty sure is spearmint, but it seemed to work ok. I wasn't sure how the flavors of this would turn out, since they're kind of odd, but I was really pleased. It was pretty quick to make, which is ALWAYS a bonus!
4C vegetable stock
1 clove garlic, minced
1TBSP minced fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick
3 green onion, thinly sliced
1C peas
1/2 C tightly packed chopped fresh mint (peppermint if you can find it!)
2 tsp soy sauce
2 eggs lightly beaten with 1 TBSP water

In medium pan, heat first 4 ingredients over medium heat until boiling. Add next 4 ingredients and simmer for 2 minutes, then add the egg, pouring in thin stream around the edge of the pan. Stir to make thin ribbons with the egg, remove from heat, remove cinnamon stick and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Plain Local School's Score Another Point!

I blogged a few weeks ago about how my son's school is implementing a healthy food rule, no candy as rewards, trying to do more exercise as part of the school day, etc... So I was thrilled when I read something else that they're doing right (according to me!). I was reading the lunch menu with my son, actually the breakfast menu since he only buys on pizza day...pick your battles...and I saw that the apples that they serve with school lunches and breakfasts (which I know my son picks because he's an appleholic) come from a local orchard! It's actually the orchard that my daughter's preschool visited last fall. I'm so glad that they're getting fresh (well, as fresh as apples in January can be) LOCAL produce! I've read about schools using local farms, but I didn't really think that was something my district did. Way to go Plain Local! I just hope they're not serving the apples that my daughter's class picked...I don't know what's more lethal...pesticides or preschool hands!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Well, for the first time in I don't know how many years, I finally stayed up to watch the ball drop! We were watching a movie, paused the movie, turned on the tv to watch it drop, then back to the movie...wild and crazy New Years Eve at our house, once again! We did do our traditional Brie and Champagne fondue dinner that we've done every year for the past 6 years or so. We always have an appetizer dinner and stay home...easy tradition.

I really love sauerkraut, of course not the pork, but I haven't had it on New Years day in years. I was rereading my Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook, by Cathe Olsen and it was singing the praises of fermented food, like sauerkraut. So I looked it up online and found that sauerkraut does, indeed have some beneficial health properties. When eaten raw it has Vitamin C and lactobacilli (a probiotic) and has some cancer-fighting compounds. So, while you're enjoying that leftover New Year's food, you can rest assured you're doing something healthy for your body (this really only goes for the sauerkraut, not all the Christmas cookies that you still have or the leftover bottle of champagne!)