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Butternut Squash Soup & Some Important Cooking Tips January 24, 2011

This will warm you up nicely since it’s been so cold out lately.  The recipe is a bit lengthy so I would recommend doing this on a Sunday.

Ingredients:

  • one medium sized butternut squash
  • one can of coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp of curry powder
  • 1 tbsp of fresh chopped ginger root
  • 1 bag of frozen peas

Directions: (about an hour and a half)

  1. Cut the butternut squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Place it face down on a baking pan in  1/2 an inch of water.  Bake at 375 for 45min-1hour.
  3. When the squash is done you should be able to pierce through the skin with a fork or knife.
  4. Scoop out the meat from the squash and put it into a blender or food processor.
  5. Also add the coconut water, curry powder and ginger root and blend.
  6. Place the mixture in a pot on the stove on a low heat (3) and add the frozen peas (or any other veggies you’d like)
  7. In about 10 minutes you should have some yummy soup!

Baking the butternut squash face down prevents it from burning.  When food is dry baked acrylamides are formed.  Acrylamides have been shown to cause cancer.  So you may be thinking to yourself…everything causes cancer these days!  Well, let me put it this way, cigarettes contain large amounts of acrylamides and we KNOW those cause cancer.

Healthy cooking tips at home:

Cook at home often because that is where you have the most control over your food.  Also it is extremely important to cook your food at a medium to low temperature.  There is no need to have the burner higher than a medium heat.  Heating food too much not only destroys the nutrients, but also causes the fats in foods restructure into transfats.

You should also only cook with coconut oil because it can withstand temperatures of up to 350 degrees without restructuring into harmful heart disease causing transfats.  Also, the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil will actually double the rate at which omega 3 fatty acids are transferred into DHA.  DHA is a fat that is essential for healthy brain functioning.

So we all hear about how benefits of Omega 3’s.  However, we don’t hear that in order to use Omega 3 fatty acids our bodies need to convert them to DHA.  Everyone’s conversion rate differs, which is why eating small amounts of coconut can be a very beneficial addition to your diet.

However you don’t want to over do it with fat.  If you’re doing a stir-fry I would suggest adding 1 tsp per person.  If you are more active you can be a little more liberal with this suggestion.

Steaming or boiling food is the best way to cook veggies because you lose the least amount of nutrients.  However, we all like a little variety.  If you do plan on doing a stir-fry add a teaspoon or two of water and keep the heat no higher than a medium heat.  Keeping a low heat will prevent the occurrence of acrylamides and retain nutrients.  It may take a little longer, but your body will thank you for it!

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MSG – monosodium glutamate March 8, 2009

Filed under: Carcinogens,Flavorings,Food Additives — Yvette @ 3:23 am

I vaguely remember being in a Chinese restaurant during the 90’s when my mother asked for no MSG in our food.  This may have been during the time people started to realize how addicting MSG can be.  When  companies and restaurants find legal addictive substances you can be sure they will start adding it to our food to keep us coming back for more.

MSG is like crack, it’s an extremely addictive and harmful food additive.  MSG can also be labeling under “natural flavorings” which is why you need to be careful of the ingredient natural flavors, as I’ve said before.  The FDA forces companies to list monosodium glutamate as additive because of the adverse effects it causes in a good portion of the population.  The problem is that a good amount of people do not read the ingredients on their food labels.

I happen to be an avid label reader, even of foods I do not eat (this annoys the crap out of my mother).  I thought that MSG would have been banned by now because of how harmful it can be, but I have found through occasionally reading labels that MSG aka monosodium glutamate is still being put into foods.  I personally have found this ingredient in a lot of popular canned soups like Progresso and Campbells, not all of them, but some.  So be conscious consumers and read your ingredients!

* I just found MSG in Triscuits 😦

 

Hydrogenated oils & Trans fats February 23, 2009

At some point in time we developed a hierarchy of fats, saturated fats being the worst, then unsaturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.  Research showed that high consumption of saturated fats can lead to heart disease and cancer.  Instead of getting people to eat healthier and move away from a high fat diet, the food industry developed ways to mimic saturated fats using unsaturated fats.  This is when hydrogenated oils were introduced, not to just mimic foods like butter, but to extend shelf life.  I’ll remind you here that anything that extends shelf life is nutritionally deficient.  Vegetables and fruits rot because they are living and full of vital nutrients.  Where products with HFCS, hydrogenated oils and other preservatives can lay on shelves for years because there is little food in the actual product.

Hydrogenated oils are obtained by adding a hydrogen molecules to unsaturated fats.  These fats become hardened promoting longer shelf life and extended use in frying foods.  Hydrogenation does not completely transform the unsaturated fat into a saturated one, but it does produce trans fatty acids.  These fats behave like saturated fats and are linked to heart disease and cancers.

Partially hydrogenated oils are just as bad as hydrogenated oils.  The reason for the use of partially hydrogenated oils is because the trans fat content can be less than 1 gram per serving.  By USDA standards this is not a sufficient amount of trans fat to be reported on a label.

Please be aware that these man-made fats are extremely harmful to your health.  These ingredients can be found in candy bars, margarine, tub butters, baked goods and much more.  Be conscious consumers and read your ingredient labels.

 

Sugars That Aren’t So Sweet Part II Sucralose November 30, 2008

Filed under: Carcinogens,Food Additives,Sugar — Yvette @ 6:07 pm

Hopefully you’ve all read Part I where I discuss the dangers of aspartame.  Now, we’ll discuss the other popular sugar substitute, sucralose.  Sucralose which is Splenda, can be found in sports drinks or so called “healthy drinks” like the funky looking Fuze.

Sucralose contains methanol, which I talked about in Part I, and arsenic!  I’m sure you all know of arsenic, which is poison.  This poison is not only toxic to our bodies, but is known to cause certain types of cancer.  So, as your intake of arsenic increases so does your risk of lung, bladder and kidney cancer.  The U.S. is one of the only developed countries that regulates what can be considered a “safe level” of arsenic for food or drinks.  Wonderful.

Sucralose claims it is better than aspartame because it is made from real sugar.  Don’t be fooled sucralose is still a synthetic food, it is made by chlorinating sugar.  The common claim is that adding chlorine to sucrose (table sugar) to make sucralose makes it’s structure similar to salt (NaCl).  In reality adding the chlorine to the sucrose molecule makes it’s structure much more similar to a pesticide than sucrose (table sugar).  For those of you who have heard that this artificial sweetener passes through your body undigested, think again.  Studies have shown that about 15% is absorbed by the body.

A little packet containing pesticide-like substances, arsenic and methanol in your morning coffee doesn’t sound too tasty does it?

This product has been around for about 20 years, and there have been 110 animal/human tests on it.  Most of the tests conducted were over several months or weeks, not long term studies.  Even though FDA claims it is safe, without sufficient testing the general public will end up being guinea pigs.

So, if you want to cut down on your intake of aspartame and sucralose, I would recommend checking the ingredient lists on the products you buy from time to time.  Usually diet foods that claim “no sugar added” or “sugar free” have one of the two ingredients.  Either of the two are commonly found in diet soda, gum, breath mints and red bull.  Be safe and be healthy!

 

Aspartame Poisoning November 15, 2008

Filed under: Carcinogens,Food Additives,Sugar — Yvette @ 12:10 am

Here’s a little more information on aspartame.

If you’re curious about aspartame read my previous post, if you haven’t already, because if you consume the following products it is likely that you are consuming aspartame: “diet soda, over-the-counter drugs & prescription drugs (very common and listed under “inactive ingredients”), vitamin & herb supplements, yogurt, instant breakfasts, candy, breath mints, cereals, sugar-free chewing gum, cocoa mixes, coffee beverages, instant breakfasts, gelatin desserts, frozen desserts, juice beverages, laxatives, milk drinks, shake mixes, tabletop sweeteners, tea beverages, instant teas and coffees, topping mixes, wine coolers, etc.”***  Also beware of the phrases “no sugar added” or “sugar free” this usually means there is some kind of artificial sweetener added.  It’s upsetting that this additive is used frequently, yet not many people are aware of the side effects.  My hope is that after reading this you will be an informed consumer.

I was inspired by Shane’s comment my previous post about aspartame to write more about this topic.  She said that her doctor thought she had MS, and she feels she may have had methanol overdose because of the aspartame.  This often seems to be the case, but read for yourself.  Here is a list of the 92 symptoms the FDA states aspartame can cause and several diseases it can mimic:

Abdominal Pain
Anxiety attacks
arthritis
asthma
Asthmatic Reactions
Bloating, Edema (Fluid Retention)
Blood Sugar Control Problems (Hypoglycemia or Hyperglycemia)
Brain Cancer (Pre-approval studies in animals)
Breathing difficulties
burning eyes or throat
Burning Urination
can't think straight
Chest Pains
chronic cough
Chronic Fatigue
Confusion
Death
Depression
Diarrhea
Dizziness
Excessive Thirst or Hunger
fatigue
feel unreal
flushing of face
Hair Loss (Baldness) or Thinning of Hair
Headaches/Migraines dizziness
Hearing Loss
Heart palpitations
Hives (Urticaria)
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Impotency and Sexual Problems
inability to concentrate
Infection Susceptibility
Insomnia
Irritability
Itching
Joint Pains
laryngitis
"like thinking in a fog"
Marked Personality Changes
Memory loss
Menstrual Problems or Changes
Migraines and Severe Headaches (Trigger or Cause From Chronic Intake)
Muscle spasms
Nausea or Vomiting
Numbness or Tingling of Extremities
Other Allergic-Like Reactions
Panic Attacks
Phobias
poor memory
Rapid Heart Beat
Rashes
Seizures and Convulsions
Slurring of Speech
Swallowing Pain
Tachycardia
Tremors
Tinnitus
Vertigo
Vision Loss
Weight gain

Aspartame Disease Mimics Symptoms or Worsens the Following Diseases

Fibromyalgia
Arthritis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Parkinson's Disease
Lupus
Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS)
Diabetes and Diabetic Complications
Epilepsy
Alzheimer's Disease
Birth Defects
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Lymphoma
Lyme Disease
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Panic Disorder
Depression and other Psychological Disorders

There are no benefits to consuming aspartame and this additive hinders brain functioning.  The presence of phenylalanine promotes cancer growth and aspartame is about 50% phenylalanine.  So, there is no downside to ending your consumption of this additive.  If you need alternatives see my previous post about aspartame.  If you are a regular consumer, I would strongly recommend going 60 days without ingesting any aspartame to see if you notice a difference in the way you feel.

Not everyone is effected similarly by aspartame, my Aunt developed bladder cancer, several people have died or been permanently brain damaged, while others may ingest aspartame and not feel any effects.  Similarly some people can smoke Marlboro Reds until they are at the ripe age of 94, and others can die from pulmonary dystrophy without ever smoking a cigarette.  Now that you know the effects of aspartame you can decide if you want to take the risk.

***quoting Betty Martini

 

Sugars That Aren’t So Sweet, Part I Aspartame November 7, 2008

Filed under: Acidity,Carcinogens,Food Additives,Sugar — Yvette @ 9:47 pm

Sugar is delicious, but we all know it should be consumed in small quantities.  This can be difficult since things like soda, ice cream, candy, chocolate and a lot of other goodies are packed with sugar.  Companies in the food industry love using all kinds of sugar in their products because it’ll keep you coming back for more.  There are several kinds of sugars on the market today, the most common are: high fructose corn syrup, white table sugar (sucrose), aspartame, and sucralose.  Aspartame and sucralose are relatively new sugar substitutes that are very harmful to the human body.

If you drink diet soda, chew gum, use vitamin supplements or use sugar substitutes, like NutraSweet and Equal, you should be aware of the ingredient aspartame.  Aspartame is approximately 90% amino acids and 10% methanol.  The human body does not have the correct enzymes to break down methanol.  So instead of breaking it down, formaldehyde is formed.  Formaldehyde is known to be toxic and carcinogenic.  The formaldehyde build up from aspartame consumption is known to cause damage to the immune system, nervous system, and irreversible genetic damage at very low-level, long-term exposure.

How did this get into our food?  Food industries, as I’ve said before, care more about making money than they do about your health.  Aspartame was denied approval by the FDA 8 times, so they pulled some strings in order to get it approved for small quantities in dry food.  Over the years they were able to get it into a wide variety of foods, despite the fact that the FDA has documented 92 different side effects ranging from joint pain, blurred vision, depression, anxiety, brain lesions and bladder cancer.  The only reason why aspartame is on the market is because it is cheap to produce and companies are able to make billions of dollars off Americans who think they are buying a diet product.

Sorry guys, aspartame, and diet sodas are NOT diet products.

I understand a lot of you love diet soda or sugar substitutes because you don’t want to consume regular sugar.  Maybe you’d rather have a little formaldehyde in your body than gain weight from sugars.  The problem is that diet soda will not make you any less fat than regular soda.  This is because aspartame has a pH of 1.5.  Time for a quick chem review.  The pH scale, which we all know and love from chemistry class, goes from 1 to 14.  Substances testing below 7 are acidic, 7 is neutral, over 7 are alkaline.  Your body wants a pH of 7.365, slightly alkaline, and will continually try to balance itself.  Naturally occurring foods will generally have a pH between 5 and 9.  So, aspartame, having a pH of 1.5, is very acidic to the body.  If I eat aspartame my body will balance itself right?  Right, but not without pulling calcium and other alkaline minerals from your bones to neutralize the acid.  I’ll remind you here that osteoporosis is very prevalent in our soda-loving country.  Wait there’s more, not only does it pull calcium from your bones, but it will also produce fat cells to keep the acid away from the vital organs.  This diet sugar is not really a diet food after all.

I know that I may be causing an uproar among diabetics who often turn to artificial sweeteners over the high glycemic sugars like high fructose corn syrup and table sugar.  But, there is controversy over whether aspartame is safe for diabetics.  Don’t worry there are two natural sweeteners that most people have never heard of, stevia and agave nectar.  Whether you’re diabetic or just interested in getting aspartame out of your diet I would recommend these two foods, that’s right FOODS, not additives.  They are not only tasty, but also low on the glycemic index, which means they release energy into your body at a slow rate. You can even buy stevia in little sugar packets if you like to sweeten your coffee or other drinks!

 

It’s Not Just Peanuts October 31, 2008

Filed under: Carcinogens,MUST READS — Yvette @ 4:29 pm

When I’m home I often grocery shop for my mother.  One day, when I grabbed the grocery list I noticed an interesting comment written by my sister, “buy organic peanut butter, my yoga teacher said that if you were going to buy anything organic, it should be peanut butter, I don’t remember why, but it was a good reason.”  O Michelle, we love you.  But, she is right.

Non-organic peanuts are the most pesticide ridden food on the market.  A particular mold called aflatoxin grows on these peanuts, and this toxin is a known carcinogen.  I’ll be using the word carcinogen a lot, so I’ll take a moment to explain why they are dangerous to the human body.

Carcinogens do not directly cause cancer, but they wear down the cell by mutating the DNA.  Usually your body has time to repair the damage done to the DNA, but if not then you are left with mutated DNA.  When this mutated cell begins to multiply, then you have cancer.

Aflatoxin is highly carcinogenic and is threatening to liver cells.  This isn’t speculation!  I have read studies that observe this carcinogen’s effect on liver cells and the cancer it causes.  Despite this information, the USDA states that even though almost ALL commercial peanut butters have some amount of aflatoxin, it is a small enough amount that won’t harm consumers.  Really?  A little bit of exposure to toxic substances never hurt anyone right?  I’m not too inclined to trust them.  Be aware that pesticides and food additives are relatively new to the food market and our bodies.  Researches have only tested the effects of one to three pesticides or food additives at a time.  The average American is exposed to over 3,000 different food additives and hundreds of different pesticides every year.  I don’t feel the USDA has enough evidence to support their statement.  Somebody show me the proof!

We should be allowed to choose the amount of a “safe level of toxins” for our bodies.  Now that you know, you can decide.  So, I’m not telling you guys to give up the PB&J sandwiches, that would just be wrong.  But, I still agree with Michelle on this one, organic peanut butter might be a better choice than the convential.  Buying organic can be expensive, but knowing which foods are most important to buy organic can really save you money in the long run.