Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Quick tip: mayo

Conventionally produced mayonnaise, or "mayo," is packed with some nasty ingredients. For a healthier alternative on sandwiches (that still satisfies your craving for something creamy), try avocado or greek yogurt.  

Free health movie!

Have you wondered why it's so hard to lose weight and keep it off? Have you wondered why it takes so much work these days to satisfy your seemingly never-ending hunger?

The new movie, Hungry for a Change, produced by the same folks who brought you Food Matters attempts to answer those questions and is premiering online this week for FREE.

Here's a peek at the trailer:

To view, simply click here, enter your info and click "Watch Now."

I thought the movie was really good. The expert interviews were awesome and I like how they wove the various segments together - particularly the segments about diet soda and sugar. 

If you do tune in, please come back and leave a comment - I'd love to know what you think!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pink slime update

Great news for all of you who have been following the "pink slime" in meat saga! (Click here for the back story) Major grocery chain Safeway announced they will no longer carry meat using the ammonia-soaked fillers that have been causing so much controversy.

In addition, the City of New York is taking a stand against having this meat in the city's public schools. Click here to read more, as reported by The New York Times.

I'm really excited about these developments - and am proud of all of you who've taken a stand for your health - and that of your kids! Keep up the good work, all you Food Fighters ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our Global Kitchen: a cookbook benefitting World Vision International

Almost two years ago, I published a cookbook, Bites of Health, to benefit the non-profit I was running at the time. It was a great project and helped raise some much-needed funds that I used to help provide healing nutrition information and services to cancer patients. It was also a lot of fun ... always a bonus!

This year, I'm taking on another cookbook project, to benefit World Vision International and their many hunger-related funds/initiatives. Our family has supported WVI ever since reading the powerful book, "The Hole in Our Gospel" by World Vision USA's CEO Richard Stearns. The author was the very successful CEO of Lennox China in the US, until the Lord led him to leave his high-paying job for the top spot at World Vision. He presents a very compelling case for why we, as Christians, are called to help the less fortunate, not just in our hometowns, but around the world.

In this year's cookbook, I'd like to include recipes from around the world. My tentative title is "Our Global Kitchen" with some kind of a tagline about alleviating hunger that I'll come up with later.

I'm looking for recipes from as many different countries as possible, that really reflect the cuisines of each country. If they're healthy recipes, all the better, but that's not required. I'm looking for submissions in all categories - appetizers, main dishes, sides, desserts, breakfasts, drinks - so feel free to submit as many of your favorites as you'd like.

With each recipe, I'll include a quote from you about what the recipe means to you, as well as a picture of you (if you'd like), or just of the dish you submit. I'm also happy to include links to your websites/blogs/business pages as well.

I hope to have the book completed by the end of October so I can focus on selling it during the holiday shopping season. I'd like to collect all the recipes by the end of May, so I can start all the cooking (I'll prepare many of the dishes) and photography over the summer. Baby #2 will arrive shortly and I want to make sure I have plenty of time to work slowly on this special and important project.

To submit a recipe, click here and fill out the simple, quick form.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Make your own: Crushed Tomatoes

Since moving to the Netherlands last summer, I've had a really hard time finding canned foods I used to use in my recipes. This hasn't been a bad thing, necessarily, because I've started making tons more of my own fresh, unprocessed "ingredients" for my favorite recipes.

This video shows one of my favorites, for crushed tomatoes. It's super simple and fast ... and the taste beats canned any time!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honor of one of my favorite holidays EVER, and as a nod to my Irish ancestors, I send you an Old Irish Blessing...

"May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!"

And a few links to some wonderful Irish recipes with a healthy twist:
- Irish soda bread
- Green tea smoothies 
- Shepherd's Pie (I use rice milk instead of soy milk)

And finally, a "once in a while" dessert cake that is decidedly unhealthy, but very tasty and very traditional. Enjoy in moderation! 
- Chocolate Potato Cake

Monday, March 12, 2012

The air in there ...

By "in there," I mean "in your home."

Did you know that indoor air pollution has been shown to be up to 10 times worse than outdoor air pollution? Reasons for this include our use of heavy cleaning chemicals, "off-gassing" by the materials in newer homes and in our furniture and the stuff we track into our homes on the bottom of our shoes.

When all this stuff comes in, it stays in. Particularly in the winter, when we seal our homes up tight to protect against the chill. The results? Headaches, stuffy noses, fatigue and in some cases, a severe overall sickness called "sick building syndrome."

So, what can we do to clean up our indoor air?
- Open windows. Half an hour a day will help your home breathe - and release a lot of the yuckiness that is indoor air pollution.
- Invest in a few house plants. Spider plants and golden pothos have both been scientifically proven to help clean up both carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, but really, any plants you bring in will help clean your air.
- Consider non-toxic cleaning products. 
- Take off your shoes when you're in your house. You won't track in the dirt, dust and particulates that can accumulate over time on your floors and in your carpets.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

No need to do all of these at once - pick one that looks appealing and just get started! Living a healthier, happier life is all about taking it one step at a time :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Quick tip: salt

When choosing salt, look for options that have a color to them, grey or pink. Pure white salts, aka, traditional table salts have been through a chemical process that strips them of all their minerals, hence the white color. Colored salts (usually sea salts) retain all the "goodies" and often pack a more appealing taste punch.

Little tastes of Spring!

I've been on a huge Spring flavor kick in the last couple of weeks!

I made these tasty, pretty salads this afternoon for the Bible Study we host in our home....

And I made this delicious grapefruit juice twice last week, from pink grapefruits. I added some raspberries for an extra punch of sweetness - and oh, how tasty it was!

I love this time of year!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lunch with a side of slime

I'm a child of the 80's and therefore, I believe I'm entitled to use the word "grody." For those of you older or younger than me, "grody" roughly means "gross" or "disgusting."

Regardless of your generation, I think you'll agree with me that the idea of a child eating pink slime filled meat at school is absolutely incomprehensible.

Yet, according to this article in Huffington Post, that's exactly what's set to happen, to the tune of 7 million pounds. Think about that for a second - 7 MILLION POUNDS. Keep in mind that this meat was even rejected by fast food companies. Yet, school officials think they're ok to feed it to our kids? In the words of Seth Myers and Amy Pohler on Saturday Night Live, "REALLY?"

Go ahead and read the article if you don't believe me. Seriously. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Ok, you're back and a little more informed.


So, what's a parent like to you to do?

You have the power, SuperMama or SuperMan.  First, have a conversation with all the Juniors in your household about laying off the meat at school for a while.

Second, if you can, pack their lunches. Want them to have a warm meal? Get creative. You have all sorts of packaging options available to you now. Do a search on Amazon. I personally like stainless steel, like this stainless steel lunch jar, but if your kiddo prefers Lightning McQueen or Disney princesses, the gang's all there.

Third, after you've taken care of your first two priorities, call your school board's elected officials. Find out who's in charge of your school's food purchasing program and ask if they plan to bring this meat in. If they do, ask why. Cost will probably come up as an issue. Ask them how much your child's health is worth ... and that of all the other children in the school district.

If you find out the meat's coming in, start talking. To other parents, to your Facebook friends, at PTA, you get the idea. Talk and complain. Loudly. After all, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Not for you, you say? That's fine, I've got some actions for you too. If you don't want to talk, write. Write to your papers, write blog posts, write an email to a reporter at a local TV station. They'll love the pink slime images, I promise you.

Finally, give yourself a huge pat on the back for helping protect your child from all the potential illnesses meat like this can cause. I can hear what some of you might be thinking, "but Christa, they say it's safe, do I REALLY have to think about this? I'm so busy, my life is so hectic (insert additional thoughts here ... I can't really read your mind. I just pretend to)..." To answer your question, YES, you and only you, REALLY have to care, because you're your kid's parent. You are the ONLY one ultimately responsible for making decisions regarding health and nutrition. And, keep in mind, "they" told our grandparents cigarettes and asbestos were safe. Hmmm ... are you sure you really want your child's health in "their" hands?

Things I'm looking forward to: Pink Ribbons, Inc

Walks to "raise money," pink ribbons, cases of pink soda. A new documentary, recently released in Canada, and hopefully soon-to-be-released in the US, explores the unintended consequences of all the attention we give to "fighting" breast cancer.

I can't wait to see Pink Ribbons, Inc. and I hope it makes it's way across "the pond" sometime soon. If you happen to see it in the US, please let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

One small step for cans, one giant leap for mankind

Campbell's Soup, the world's largest producer of canned soups, has announced that it will stop using the noxious, health-wrecking chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in the lining of it's canned soups in the near future.

This is a big deal for a few reasons:
1. BPA is big-time, seriously bad news, folks. It's a synthetic form of the hormone estrogen and it messes with your endocrine system. It's used in many commercial applications like can linings, because it helps plastic harden and helps prevent food from coming into contact with metal (a useful goal in canning, for sure). However, it has also been shown to cause reproductive system problems, decreased brain and neurological function, cancer, cardiovascular damage, Type-2 diabetes, early puberty, obesity and even resistance to chemotherapy. So you mean we've been served a side of disease with our chicken noodle? Yup.
2. Public pressure from the supporters of organizations like Healthy Child Healthy World, Breast Cancer Action and Environmental Working Group helped make this happen. Yet another "proof point" that grassroots efforts around causes like these work and companies will listen to letter-writing campaigns, phone calls and boycotts. I probably should disclose at this point that I support all three of these organizations and applaud their efforts to make our world a healthier place.
3. If the world's largest supplier is taking this step, guess what it's competitors will start doing? Even at the global company level, it'll be a classic example of "monkey see, monkey do." Yes, I did just call them all monkeys. 

Now, this post definitively does NOT give you license to head to Costco for a pallet full of tomato soup. It'll most likely take Campbell's quite some time to implement the new manufacturing processes needed to use a BPA substitute, buy new equipment and burn through the inventory they currently have sitting on store shelves. My guess is that a complete change over won't happen for at least another year. In the meantime, buy brands that offer BPA-free can linings (my favorite is Eden Organics).

Note to my Euro-friends: no need for you to worry about BPA in soup cans (or any food packaging, for that matter), BPA has been banned here for several years.

What are you doing on Tuesday?

Nothing? Let's have (virtual) lunch, or a snack, or dinner .... depending on your timezone!

The wonderful folks at Anne W Associates have put together an awesome slate of webinar speakers for a series in honor of Women's History Month and I'm honored to get to talk about how folks like you can be "Empowered to Live Healthy."

During my presentation, I'll share my Top 5 Tips for Empowered, Healthy Living and I'll share quite a few things you've probably never heard before about health and wellness.

To sign up, click here.

Oh, and by the way, if you'd like to sign up for all four of the great webinars, you'll get great bonus gifts, like my "Empowered Eating" e-cookbook for FREE! Ask me for details.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Airing the Dryer Sheet's Dirty Laundry

I used to love, love L.O.V.E. love the smell of freshly laundered clothes, especially when I coordinated the delicious scented smells of detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets together. It was like heaven in my clothes. 

But, then I learned about all the chemicals and ingredients that go into those beautiful scents ... and the potential health hazards they create.

Just a few....
Benzyl acetate .... pancreatic cancer
Limonene .... known carcinogen (can cause cancer)
A-Terpineol .... respiratory and nervous system problems
Ethyl Acetate .... a narcotic on the EPA's hazardous waste list
Camphor .... central nervous system disorders
Chloroform .... neurotoxin (harms the brain) and carcinogen

Now, many people, including the folks who run the companies that create laundry products claim that the amounts of the above ingredients in any single product are so small that they won't cause damage, or in scientific terms, they're "generally regarded as safe."

Their statements to that effect are absolutely, 100% true. However, what they won't tell you about is what many in the holistic community term the "compounding effect" of layering multiple products. In my case, when I used detergent, fabric softener and a dryer sheet, each single product may have had camphor in small amounts that were safe, but if I used all three (which I always did), then I got THREE TIMES the amount generally regarded as safe. So, the impact on my body was compounded by a factor of three.

What can you do? Make smart choices and vote with your dollars. Every time you choose a safer, less-chemical-full laundry product, you're sending a message to the folks who make the ones filled with nasty chemicals. You're telling them that product safety and your family's health is important to you.

My favorite laundry detergent brands are Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer's. I've tried most of the products from each brand and I've found them to be very effective, but also very safe. My proof? Neither irritate my son's sensitive skin like conventional detergents do, yet they still take the stains out of his 3-year-old, active little boy clothes.

I use 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar in the wash water, which has the same softening and static-reducing capabilities as fabric softener and dryer sheets.

Remember, taking little steps like detoxifying your laundry room can add up to a big difference in your health ... and your family's!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Why did Steve Jobs die?

Wow, could a subject be more controversial than this one? Steve Jobs, one of the iconic figures of our time, died of pancreatic cancer in October 2011 and is posthumously criticized for exploring non-surgical treatment options prior to going under the knife to remove his tumors. Many people, doctors and media personalities alike, think that the delay probably hastened his death.

In this video, Dr. McDougall presents an alternative: that Steve's cancer actually started in his mid-20s, he lived with that cancer for decades prior to his diagnosis and that he was misdiagnosed by well-intended medical professionals.

Watch this with an open mind, think about it and discuss it - with me, with your family, with your friends. These types of conversations help create a healthier YOU and a healthier WORLD. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kick your cravings to the curb!

This is probably the absolute WRONG time for me to be writing about cravings! I'm 8 months pregnant and pretty much always hungry. BUT - I'm resisting my urges to take a deep dive into the nearest vat of Ben & Jerry's (yes, another American junk food we've expertly exported). I was having a rough time of it this afternoon, but luckily, these tips from Dr. Mark Hyman arrived in my email box just in the nick of time!

02-Cut Cravings from Dr Mark Hyman on Vimeo.