Search this site
Like us on Facebook!
Follow us on Twitter!
Sign up for our newsletter!
Get started on a traditional, Real Food diet! Click on the photo!
- Sugar Brain Fog | Real Food Houston on Analysis Shows No Association of Saturated Fat With Cardiovascular Disease
- On the Real Food News Front – 07-24-14 | Real Food Houston on Food writers – what they don’t talk about!
- On the Real Food News Front – 07-24-14 | Real Food Houston on Banana Cocoa Smoothie
- Recipe: Home Cooked Beans Can Boost Your Food Budget | Real Food Houston on Grass-fed Beef Tostadas with Guacamole
- Geoffrey Smith on Local Hog Butcher Class
Major Topicsbutter cancer cholesterol coconut flour FARFA farmers market FDA food freedom food rights food safety FTCLDF genetically engineered glyphosate GMOs grain-free grassfed beef health healthy fats healthy foods heart disease homogenization local food meals monsanto nutrition organic paleo pasteurization pastured chicken pastured eggs pastured pork pesticides raw milk real food real food on a budget recipes restaurants saturated fat soy sustainable farming Texas food laws traditional food WAPF WAPF 2011 Conference what's for dinner
Good morning! It’s Thursday news time at Real Food Houston. I’ve had my cup of homemade chicken broth and a banana cocoa smoothie for breakfast (today with raw milk and 2 egg yolks), followed by a cup of Dandy Blend with just a little raw milk and stevia.
Here’s what’s been happening on Real Food Houston. . .
Cheap food isn’t really cheap! You can’t avoid the cost, it just gets transferred somewhere else. Read my post about why the cost of food in the U.S. has dropped so much and the price we’re paying for it.
Valerie Stegemoeller has written a guest post about a class she attended in hog butchering. She’s a new homesteader at Stegesaurus Farm and also a co-leader of the Houston-Galveston Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Cutting up meat is an art we’ve almost lost but is essential to the small farm and homesteader.
I love home cooked beans and have posted my version of Nourishing Traditions Basic Beans. Beans, and other legumes, are not only nutritious, but they can also really help the food budget. Just a little meat goes a long way in a big pot of beans.
They are also so versatile! They can be served plain with some shredded cheese or made into refried beans to go with Mexican food or made into chili. I keep some jars of beans in the freezer all the time.
Now for the news . . .
- Don’t forget the fermentation workshop and demo this Saturday at The Last Organic Outpost. The workshop begins at Noon. Bring water and a chair. The weather man says it will be HOT this weekend!
- Register now for the Farm & Food Leadership Conference in Bastarop, TX, September 15-16. You can get the early registration discount for two more weeks. It’s a great conference for Texans who care about their food. It is sponsored by the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. Read about the discussion topics and speakers.
- In one of the most important but also most depressing news stories this week, “The Michigan Department of Agriculture . . . forced Joe and Brenda Golimbieski, the owners of Hill High Dairy and Jenny Samuelson, the owner of My Family Co-op, to dump out 248 gallons of milk, to break 100 dozen eggs, and to destroy an undisclosed amount of fresh cream, butter and cheese.” Although the farm is a co-op, the MDA insisted they were selling food without a license. Read more . . .
- David Gumpert, author of The Complete Patient blog talks says about the MDA raid that “The government-sponsored dump of nearly $5,000 of milk, eggs, butter, and cream . . . carried a very clear and powerful political message to all Americans: We control your food and we don’t like you buying your food outside the corporate food system.” Sad and disturbing too!. Will we ultimately lose the right to choose our own food from healthy sources? Will the government force us to eat processed junk food?
- If you want to know who, besides local and federal governments, controls food, 10 food companies own almost all of our food. The 10 are PepsiCo, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Associated British Foods, Mondēlez (formerly Kraft Foods), Mars, Danone, Unilever, Coca-Cola and Nestle. There’s a link to a super graphic that shows the brands that these companies own. For example, Nestle owns S. Pelligrino and Perrier waters and Coca Cola owns Dasani and Honest Tea. Definitely eye-opening!
- Alison Cook, food critic for the Houston Chronicle, tells us that a new Indian restaurant scheduled to open in September will use organic spices and avoid color additives. All that is certainly good news but what about the rest of the food? Will the meats be CAFO or pastured? Will the veggies and fruits be poisoned or organic? Isn’t it sad that such a small improvement in food quality is the best Houston restaurant news can offer! At least the article addresses food quality. Usually restaurant critics and reviewers, including Alison Cook, only talk about the appearance, feel, and taste of food, never the quality of nutrition. (See my post Food writers – what they don’t talk about!)
- We’ve heard a lot about antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but now there’s also fungicide-resistant fungus. New research from British and Dutch scientists show that the fungus Aspergillus, commonly found in soil and other organic material and which attacks the lungs, has apparently become resistant to fungicides like the triazoles, which are freely used in agriculture. Breathing aspergillus is especially harmful to people with damaged lungs or weak immune systems such as from asthma or cystic fibrosis.
- In nutrition news:
- Although quinoa is not a traditional food in my part of the country, I want to give it a try after reading Authority Nutrition’s 11 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa (No. 1 is My Favorite). It is high in protein (contains all the essential amino acids) and other nutrients such as magnesium, manganese, folate, and quercetin. It is gluten-free and mild flavored.
- The difference between folate and folic acid is important to women before and during pregnancy because it “helps to prevent neural tube defects in the growing fetus.” “Folate is the naturally occurring version of vitamin B9, whereas folic acid is the synthetic form used in supplements. While both versions do help to prevent neural tube defects, only folate crosses the placenta.” [emphasis added]
- Watermelon not only tastes super good and sweet, but it has health benefits not widely known. Read Dr. Mercola’s 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Watermelon. Watermelon has more lycopene than tomato and contains citruline which may reduce blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels.
- Organic foods are good for you! A new study, a meta analysis of 323 peer-reviewed studies, found that “switching to organic food provides as many additional antioxidants as eating between one and two extra portions of fruits and vegetables per day.” Read more . . . and more . . . The Cornucopia Institute is concerned that the growing popularity of organic foods, the “Walmarting of organics,” will lower organic quality, weaken standards, and hurt small farms.
- Real Food Forager has some good tips to avoid the poison fluoride that is often added to municipal water. I had always wondered about how to prevent adding fluoride to backyard garden plants. Her recommendation is to water the roots where there is less uptake of fluoride rather than the leaves plants where uptake is greater. She also has suggestions for detoxifying fluoride.
- Looking for high protein foods is currently “in” for over half of adults. Cereal manufacturers are taking advantage of the fad to boost falling sales by adding GMO soy to their products. For example, Cheerios Protein is labeled “high protein” which comes from added soy and lentils, and they are not organic. To offset the unpleasant taste of the soy, there are 9 grams of added sugars under various names like “sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, carmelized syrup and something called “Refiner’s Syrup,” which is apparently a byproduct of cane sugar manufacture.” [source] Instead get your protein from real foods like grassfed beef, eggs from pastured chickens, whole raw milk, and properly prepared whole grains.
- Dr. Kelly Brogan is concerned about the risks of routine ultrasounds during pregnancy. The last time the effects were tested the study used older, less powerful equipment. Much is still unknown but animal tests have linked “altered learning, memory, and neuroanatomy of those mice.”
- Low-carb diets shouldn’t be lumped into the “fad diet” category. They have been recommended for weight loss for a hundred and fifty years. Recent studies have confirmed their safety and effectiveness. Authority Nutrition lists 6 Reasons to Stop Calling Low-Carb a Fad Diet.
Not all news is bad! Here are some interesting stories on the brighter/lighter side.
- Fermented foods are a natural remedy for food poisoning. Cultured Food Life shares her family’s experience with food poisoning several years ago. She was up and feeling much better less than half an hour after drinking the juice from fermented veggies.
- If you have a home garden, there are safer ways to get rid of pest rather than using poisons. DIY ingredients can include garlic pepper spray, baking soda, and milk. Read more about Gentle Gardening Arsenal.
- If you use social media you will get a laugh from this hilarious musical video from Weird Al Yankovic–Word Crimes.
Now here is a selection of delicious, nutritious recipes from other Real Food bloggers to help keep you healthy and happy!
Healthy Corn Dog Recipe
If you really love corn dogs but have been avoiding them because they are unhealthy, here’s The Healthy Home Economist’s version that will allow you to add them back into your menu.
Ultimate Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies [made with chestnut flour]
This is a new one on me. I had not heard of using chestnut flour before. The blogger says that it is gluten-free and has 96% less phytates than the almond flour commonly used in paleo and low-carb recipes.
Mango Coconut Ice Cream
Easy and quick. If you like mangos try this simple ice cream recipe. You can use either coconut milk or whole milk.
Second ferment your kefir
If you find homemade kefir just too sour to drink, try this method to mellow the flavor. You can add fruits too.
In the U.S. we spend less of our household budget on food than any other county in the world. We only spend about 6.9% of our household income on food. What do other countries spend on food? Here are a few examples: Canada spends almost 10%; Japan spends about 15%; and China spends about 35%.
We have become so accustomed to cheap food, that I’ve heard many people say “I can’t afford to buy organic food!” or “I can’t afford grassfed beef” and so on and so on. I’m sure you’ve heard it too. Even your own family members may say it.
I know that there are people who truly can’t afford to be choosy about what they eat, and I completely understand that any food is better than no food at all, but we’re not talking about those circumstances. We’re talking about the people you see in the grocery stores and talk to at work and at school.
Most of the time I think people who say they can’t afford quality food just don’t really understand the true cost of their choices. They aren’t homeless. They aren’t on welfare. They drive nice cars and wear good clothes–not resale! If quality food were a priority, most of them could afford it.
So what gives? What lies under this huge disconnect? Why do so many people think they can’t afford real food?
Although I’ve thought about this problem for quite a while, the answer to the question was explained superbly by an article in the Summer 2014 issue of Wise Traditions published by the Weston A. Price Foundation. Bill Hyde, a PhD farmer, who can get to the heart of the issue and also has the ability to keep meticulous records of the cost of farming, wrote about his late-in-life farming experience in The Real Cost of Real Food.
When he was close to retirement, Bill Hyde, who had always wanted to be a farmer, decided to live his dream. He and his wife bought some land on the outskirts of Denver and began Happy Farm. They use farming practices that “promote healthy soil, plants, and animals.”
As he developed his farming skills, Bill Hyde kept detailed records of the cost of farming. What he discovered prompted his writing about what he learned.
There is a huge disconnect between our food and food supply and what we need as healthy people, and it has all occurred in just the last half century. It is so alarming that I feel compelled to share my experience.
For example, he details the cost of raising chickens to lay eggs and calculates the cost for a dozen eggs at $11.52. Yes, that is just his cost with no profit added! He goes further to say that increasing the size of his farm from about 75 to 100 chickens to 1,000 would not lower the price by much, since more chickens means more expense.
Then why are grocery store eggs, and all the other foods, so much cheaper?
Grocery store eggs are cheaper because most of the true cost of producing them is not included in the price!
What are those other costs?
First we need to take a brief look at how farming has changed over the last few decades. As Bill Hyde points out, “production of food has largely been taken over by large corporations.” When big business took over farming, less attention was paid to the quality of the food and more attention was given to profitability, shelf life and unnatural farming methods, such as feeding grain to animals meant to graze on grass and dosing them with antibiotics and GMO hormones. Big agriculture cares only about profit, never about health, nutrition, and sustainability.
To explain further why corporation food is cheaper . . .
The greater affordability of food has come about in part due to these changes and because agribusinesses are not held responsible for soil, air, and water deterioration and pollution that their farming practices create. Neither do they pay for remedying the health problems of farm workers and consumers caused by eating and contacting these so-called foods. Tax policy, in many forms, also favors large agriculture-based corporations.
This food revolution has been successful in large part because the industry has worked hard at concealing its effects from the public. . .
To help understand the extent of agriculture’s change from farms to businesses, the vice president of the National Chicken Council says, “Virtually all the chicken sold in America—more than 99 percent . . . comes from factory-farm production similar to that used by Tyson Foods.” [emphasis added] [source]
As consumers, where do we pay for the true cost of our food? And yes, we do always pay the true cost of our food, just not as a part of the price of our food. Bill Hyde’s chart illustrates where the cost of food has been transferred.
Yes, we all pay for our food, one way or another! Eating food produced in unhealthy, unnatural conditions is a principal reason for the huge increase in health care costs. Our bodies need nutritious foods to be healthy. Our cells and organs cannot function properly without the necessary nutrients. Nutrient-empty foods lead to sick bodies and weak immune systems. The incidence of almost all chronic diseases has increased right along with the decrease in the price of our food. We spend about the same amount in total for food and health now as we did forty years ago, but what we “save” on cheap food is made up with increased health costs.
On which side will you pay your total food and health costs?
For myself, I choose to pay up front on the food side for high quality food raised with practices that “promote healthy soil, plants, and animals.” Buying real food supports our sustainable small farms and ensures our health along with that of the only earth we have today.
This post was shared on Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.
I love beans, especially pinto beans, and home cooked beans are absolutely the best! In fact, if you have only eaten canned or commercially cooked beans in the past, you are in for a real treat if you try these beans! In addition to being delicious, they are very filling and satisfying. I find that I don’t get hungry as quickly after eating beans.
The recipe below may seem time-consuming, but during most of those hours you don’t need to do anything. The beans are just sitting in the pot either soaking or cooking for the most of the time required. You must remember to start the soaking the day before you want to eat the beans, but, otherwise, all you have to do is put the pot on and go do whatever else you need to do.
Nutrients in Legumes
The legume family includes beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, and soybeans [more on soybeans later]. They “are excellent sources of [plant] protein, low-glycemic index carbohydrates, essential micronutrients, and fiber.” [source]
According to Sally Fallon Morrell in Nourishing Traditions, legumes and pulses are a traditional food that have “nourished mankind for centuries.” They have been the “poor man’s meat.” When properly cooked at home, they are an excellent and low-cost source of many essential nutrients. (Here’s a handy, printable chart of the nutrients in legumes. For more detailed information about specific legumes, use the USDA’s Nutrient Database.)
Legumes are rich in minerals and B vitamins. The pinto beans–one of my favorite beans–in this recipe are a good source of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. They also contain smaller amounts of several other important minerals–iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and selenium. Pinto beans are a very good source of folate, a member of the B vitamin family,. Another bonus–both pinto and kidney beans are high in omega 3 fatty acids.
Legumes and Cancer Prevention
Although limited, research has indicated that legumes can reduce the risk for some cancers. [2009 study]
The American Institute for Cancer Research says
Foods containing folate help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer probably because of folate’s role in healthy cell division and repair of damaged cells.
Legumes contain other health-promoting substances that may also protect against cancer:
- Lignans and saponins
- Resistant starch, starch not digested in the small intestine, is used by healthful bacteria in the colon to produce short-chain fatty acids, which seem to protect colon cells.
- Antioxidants from a variety of phytochemicals, including triterpenoids, flavonoids, inositol, protease inhibitors and sterols. [source]
Some people avoid beans and other legumes because of their phytic acid content and enzyme inhibitors; however, careful, traditional preparation can neutralize the anti-nutrients and break down the complex sugars making the beans more digestible. [Nourishing Traditions, Legumes]
Soybeans are an exception to the traditional preparation I use for my pintos. Soybeans are very high in phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that are not deactivated by soaking and ordinary cooking. To be safe, soybeans should only be eaten after they have been fermented according to traditional Asian methods that produce products like miso, tempeh, and natto. Unless fermented, soybeans can “produce serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.” For this reason, soy milk and most other soy products like tofu, soy proteins, and some soy sauces should be avoided. [Nourishing Traditions, Legumes]
Recipe: Homemade Pinto Beans
1 pound of organic dry pinto beans (this batch was Whole Foods organic dry pintos)
1 ham hock, preferably from pastured pigs (you can substitute bacon or a meaty ham bone)
1 organic onion, chopped, optional
1 strip of dried kombu, optional
2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed, optional
Sea salt and freshly ground organic black pepper, to taste
Pick over (remove stones and other foreign material) and rinse well.
Put beans in a large pot (at least 4 quart) and cover with filtered water by at least two inches. Cover and let soak for 12 to 24 hours. These beans soaked for about 21 hours. Check the beans occasionally and add more water if necessary to keep the beans well covered. Nourishing Traditions recommends using warm water. I either start with water that’s been warmed or I just put the pot on a burner turned on low for two or three minutes.
After 12 to 24 hours, drain and rinse the beans. Put them back in the rinsed pot (or another pot) and add filtered water to cover by at least an inch. Add ham hock, bacon, or ham bone, and other optional ingredients. Bring to a boil and skim any foam that forms on top. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 4 to 8 hours. I cooked these beans for about six hours. I didn’t add kombu to this pot of beans, but I often do. It should increase digestibility and reduce gas formation. Season to taste with salt and pepper toward the end of the cooking time.
There are many super good ways to use home cooked pinto beans. One of the simplest preps for a quick lunch or dinner is to top a bowl of hot beans with shredded sharp cheddar cheese (raw cheese if available) and jalapeno slices (see photo). Sometimes I add some chopped tomato as I did in these photos.
Leftover pinto beans are wonderful when mashed and refried with lard, goose fat, or other healthy fat. I made refried beans for my Grassfed Beef Tostadas with Guacamole. I usually season refried beans with some chili powder.
This recipe is based on the Basic Beans recipe in Nourishing Traditions, page 496 in my edition.
For sources of ingredients, go to my Resources page.
[The following is a guest post by Valerie Stegemoeller, who, with her husband, has a small homestead northwest of Houston. You can follow their progress with farming at Stegesaurus Farm on Facebook. She is a co-leader of the Houston-Galveston Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.]
Butcher Class – The Barry Farm
“The Barry Farm is a small family farm that focuses on pasture raised wholesome food. We strive to renew urban and suburban land and bring agriculture back into our daily lives. We currently offer Pastured Eggs, Pastured Poultry, Pastured Heritage Breed Red Wattle Pork and coming soon local Honey.”
My husband’s family used to do annual hog butchering until the 90s. Now that we started a small farm, and custom butchering for retail is VERY difficult to find (and more so wanting your animal to have as little stress as possible), my husband has been yearning to learn how to butcher animals on the farm. Chickens and rabbit were easy enough, but what about pork? Luckily, there was a small farm in Needville that hosts small classes for those who are interested in learning this lost art. Geoff and Renee are so friendly and always willing to share homesteading and farming tips for those interested in learning about food! Transparency is a major goal of their farming philosophy.
So when there was a class announced for June, I signed us up.
When we got there it was a very interesting group, with one central thing in common – we all were interested in humanely raised food. First, we went out to the area of pasture where the sheep had recently been moved. Like us, the Barry Farm is convinced of the benefit of rotationally grazing animals (for pest management and efficient grass management). As it was Houston and summer and mid-day, all the sheep were huddled together under their mobile shade with their guardian dog. One interested thing is the Barry Farm doesn’t have to castrate their ram lambs because they are freezer-bound well before they pose any significant challenge to the main breeding ram. And yes, these guys are 100% grass fed, well, except for Clarendon the livestock guardian dog.
Then, we got to visit the pigs, which was such a treat for us since our neighborhood doesn’t allow us to raise pork. They had plenty of shade and mud and they actually are trained to drink out of water nipples! The babies were very friendly but they liked to chew shoelaces! These hogs are Red Wattle, a breed known for their fabulous marbling (the fat develops IN the meat/muscle, not just around it, creating a unique flavor and tenderness). Additionally, the Barry Farm blends their own feed to optimize the flavor of their pork.
Finally, we visited the garden and hens before going in to start the butcher class. The Barry Farm delivers eggs through a CSA program as well as supplies Fat Cat Creamery who uses the eggs for their small batch ice cream. (Probably a good reason they aren’t accepting any new egg customers at this time – I mean, it’s definitely ice cream season.) Also, the Barry Farm has bees on site who produce honey for harvesting, which they sell raw and unfiltered. I had some at the farm dinner days before this class and it was remarkable.
Time for learning how to break down a pig!
During the demonstration, a Houston chef showed us how to turn a whole pig into cuts with four basic tools – a saw, and three knives, including a cleaver and a flexible knife (possibly a boning knife) for cutting meat off close to the bones. All of us that attended got a bag full of our portion of cuts from the pig with advice from the chef on various cooking methods. When it was all divided up, the chef prepared a meal of grilled pork tacos.
For more info on the Barry Farm, where to get their pork, lamb, eggs and honey and if you want to be notified of a future butcher class, please go to the website at http://thebarryfarm.com/. And be sure to follow them on Facebook also!
I know it’s not still morning, but while reading my newspaper today, I did have a cup of homemade chicken bone broth. Chicken is my favorite broth, but I have made broths from beef, pork, chicken, duck, and goose bones. Sometimes I mix the bones. All are good and nutritious! Breakfast this morning was a bowl of Nutty Granola with local, organic blueberries and Healthyway Dairy whole raw milk. Oh sooo delicious!
Recent Real Food Houston posts include a look inside the ingredients in McDonald’s French fries plus a delicious new recipe.
An expose on Wired.com about McDonald’s restaurants prompted me to look into their French fries. You may be surprised (maybe not if you are a regular reader) to learn just how they made them taste good after they switched from tasty, healthy beef tallow to vegetable oil in the 90′s. Read more . . .
Also, if you like blueberries like I do, you will love my recipe for Blueberry Banana Nut Bread. The combination of blueberries and banana just really works!
Now for the news . . .
- First! Learn how to ferment foods at a Fermentation Workshop and Demo hosted by The Last Organic Outpost. The co-hosts for the demo are Amy Robison and Ali Miller. The demo will begin at Noon, Saturday, July 26th. There is no charge to attend this event. Read more . . .
- The annual Houston Restaurant Weeks is coming up soon. The 2014 Weeks will begin August 1 and run through September 1. Local restaurants will feature special prix fixe meals with a portion of the price going to benefit the Houston Food Bank. To find out which restaurants are participating go to HoustonRestaurantWeeks.com.
- The trend to use local produce is a wonderful change that we should encourage. At least six Houston restaurants are now growing at least some of the food they serve. If you visit any of these restaurants tell them how much you like what they are doing. They are Coltivare, Haven, The Grove, Osteria Mazzantini, Patrenella’s Italian Restaurant, Rainbow Lodge, and Zelko Bistro.
- Do you really want to eat meat preserved this way? Researchers (notice they are NOT cooks) have developed a new dissolving film to coat meat and protect it from spoilage. The film is made of “pullulan – an edible, mostly tasteless, transparent polymer produced by the fungus reobasidium pulluns.”
- This is sad news! A pesticide in the neonicotinoid family that has been linked to bee colony collapse is now being blamed for a decline in bird populations. The study published in the journal Nature found a correlation between pesticide concentrations in surface water and decreases in 14 bird species. How much beauty would the world lose if the birds and butterflies disappeared?
- Oh wow! There is such a lot of bad news about statins. It’s overwhelming. When there are so few people who could be helped by taking statins, it is disturbing to learn of even more adverse side effects. Why oh why do so many people who don’t need them take statins? Here are some of the latest findings:
- In what I think may be the most alarming study, it was found that statins “may be causing significant and lasting damage to men’s testicles and sperm, and by implication, possibly the health of future generations.” Link to study.
- Another study found that statin use is particularly damaging to older people in the 70-90 age range. the study has found a significantly greater decline in memory in those who take statins.
- And a third large study shows that those who had high adherence to taking statins were more likely to get diabetes.
- And still another study found that statin users are 13% more likely to contract common infections.
- Here’s another one–statin use is found to increase the risk of osteoarthritis and joint pain by 26%.
- Dallas might just stop adding fluoride to their water supply. If so, it would be the largest city to remove this toxic industrial waste (usually sourced as a by-product of Chinese aluminum production) from their municipal water. Apparently Dallas already has a fairly high natural fluoride content in their water at .5 ppm. Adding more fluoride probably increases the incidence of fluorosis.
- Does wearing a bra cause breast cancer? There is some evidence that wearing a tight-fitting bra may be harmful to health. In any case, it’s on the safe side to avoid wearing one as much as possible. I’ve stopped wearing one and wow, it’s sooo much more comfortable.
- It helps to have nutrition researchers do a step-by-step debunking of common nutrition myths. This week we have two knowledgeable sources with their top choices for nutrition information. Authority Nutrition has compiled 15 Things That Everyone Needs to Know About Nutrition. I especially like # 2, Everywhere The Western Diet Goes, Diseases Follow. That echoes the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, whom he credits. Dr. Mercola also has a great article about the Top 10 Destructive Nutrition Lies Ever Told. Although I’m not sure I agree 100% with all of them (probably not with # 1), I do totally like the rest, including his # 2 nutrition lie–Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease. Check out this “Honest Coca Cola Obesity Commercial” video that Dr. Mercola featured. Real commercials are never this honest, but we might wish they were!
Not all news is bad! Here are some interesting stories on the brighter/lighter side.
- An analysis of 323 studies has determined that organic foods are better for you. They contain more antioxidants and less pesticide residue. In addition, by buying organic food you support farmers who take better care of the land, and you avoid eating GMOs. There are many good reasons to buy organic or beyond organic food.
- Did you know.that there are easier ways to cut up foods? Check out these videos that show you a better way to cut up 12 foods, including mangos, tomatoes, and avocados. I will definitely try some of these.
- Hilarious! Have you seen all those beautiful photos of fancy foods on Pinterest? Here are 24 attempts (and failures) to recreate those foods. I’m not recommending eating these foods, but the photos are fun to look at.
Now here is a selection of delicious, nutritious recipes from other Real Food bloggers to help keep you healthy and happy!
Easy Peasy Cheese Crackers If you are looking for a little crunch, try this easy peasy cheese cracker recipe. Only one ingredient–cheese slices. You won’t be disappointed! From Healthy Living How To
Healthy Tomato Soup Recipe With Only 2 Ingredients: Make healthy tomato soup with only two ingredients, diced tomatoes and coconut milk (or heavy cream). Popular condensed tomato soup from a can contains unhealthy stuff like high fructose corn syrup, wheat flour and flavoring. From Healthy Living How To
Low Carb Portuguese Focaccia (Gluten-Free or Paleo). This focaccia recipe uses almond flour and sorghum flour and is low-carb and gluten-free. To be totally grain-free, you can substitute arrowroot powder for the sorghum. From The Healthy Home Economist
Healthy Homemade Nutella If you have every gotten your hands on a jar of Nutella, you know that it does not last long. I start eating it by the spoonful and then it’s GAME OVER! But, this delicious indulgence is not very healthy. Even though the advertisements say that it is made from hazelnuts, cocoa and milk….that’s not really the case. from Real Food RN
If you think McDonald’s French fries taste good because they are real food, take a look at these exposés from Wired.com, Care2, and Food Babe. Today’s Wired.com article prompted me to do some research about those famous fries. Although I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s in many years, I still remember the fries as tasting much better than those at other fast food restaurants. So what happened?
The story of McDonald’s fries takes a path similar to many of today’s processed and restaurant foods. Many of the Real Food ingredients have been replaced with factory-made, cheaper, more shelf stable substitutes so that calling the resulting products “food” is probably a stretch. Certainly they are not Real Food!
Here’s what the McDonald’s website says is in their fries.
Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Beef Flavor [Wheat and Milk Derivatives]*, Citric Acid
[Preservative]), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (Maintain Color), Salt. Prepared in Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean
Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid added to preserve freshness), Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent. CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK.
*Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients.
Let’s look at some of these ingredients.
The carefully selected, uniformly sized potatoes are par-cooked to remove excess sugars that cause uneven cooking. You will see later how they add back the sugar . . .
Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate
The potatoes are then treated with sodium acid pyrophosphate to retain color. There don’t seem to be any major objections to this food additive, except you might take in excess phosphates if you eat a lot of processed foods, where it is a common additive. In addition to maintaining color, it is also used to shorten (or lengthen) fermentation time in baked goods, increase shelf life, as “a buffering and chelating agent in canned and processed seafood,” and “as a scald agent in products made from potatoes and sugar syrups.” [source]
Vegetable Oil and TBHQ
The taste of McDonald’s French fries “played a crucial role in the chain’s success — fries are much more profitable than hamburgers — and was long praised by customers, competitors, and even food critics.” Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, explains why McDonald’s French fries used to taste so good!
The taste of a french fry is largely determined by the cooking oil. For decades McDonald’s cooked its french fries in a mixture of about seven percent cottonseed oil and 93 percent beef tallow. The mixture gave the fries their unique flavor — and more saturated beef fat per ounce than a McDonald’s hamburger. [Read much more about the original flavor of McDonald's fries.]
But, of course, the misguided “saturated fat police” agitated for McDonald’s to switch to vegetable oil, which doesn’t taste nearly as good (nor is it as healthy either). McDonald’s now uses a combination of “canola (about 8 percent saturated fat), soybean oil (16 percent), and hydrogenated soybean oil (94 percent)” in the factory, and “corn oil and an additive called TBHQ, or tertbutylhydroquinone” and citric acid for the second, in-store, frying. [source]
Citric Acid as a Preservative
Although McDonald’s doesn’t reveal its source for the citric acid preservative it uses in its fries, most commercial citric acid today is not the natural food you would expect from the name. Instead of an extract of citrus fruits, it is derived from a process using corn that is probably GMO.
. . .the major industrial route to citric acid used today, cultures of A. niger [a fungus that causes black mold on certain fruits and vegetables] are fed on a sucrose or glucose-containing medium to produce citric acid. The source of sugar is corn steep liquor, molasses, hydrolyzed corn starch or other inexpensive sugary solutions. After the mold is filtered out of the resulting solution, citric acid is isolated by precipitating it with lime (calcium hydroxide) to yield calcium citrate salt, from which citric acid is regenerated by treatment with sulfuric acid [source]
To replace the pleasant taste of potatoes fried in beef tallow, when they switched to vegetable oil, McDonald’s now doctor their fries with “‘Natural beef flavor,’ which contains hydrolyzed wheat and milk proteins.” Hydrolyzed proteins are among many hidden sources of MSG.
Dimethylpolysiloxane has a wide range of uses from “contact lenses and medical devices to elastomers; it is also present in shampoos (as dimethicone makes hair shiny and slippery), food (antifoaming agent), caulking, lubricating oils, and heat-resistant tiles.” [source] Here are some of the ways it is used in food.
Dimethylpolysiloxane is silicone based agent used as an anti-foaming, anti-caking agent, and emulsifier in processed foods. Dimethylpolysiloxane is found in many fast food restaurants to avoid deep frying oil from foaming increasing the life of the oil. Dimethylpolysiloxane is also used in soft drinks, instant coffees, chewing gum, vinegars, cooking oils, confectionary snacks, syrups and chocolates. Dimethylpolysiloxane is used in the manufacturing of skimmed milk and wine fermentation. It can also be found energy or electrolyte drinks. [source]
Although it is apparently not thought to be toxic, whatever it is, it is certainly not a traditional, Real Food!
Final Sugar Coating
To add back the naturally sweet taste of the potato which was removed by blanching at the factory, the fries are coated in a dextrose (corn-derived and probably GMO) solution after cooking. [source] Adding sugars is a common method of the processed food industry to make cheap, inferior foods taste better.
GMOs and Pesticides
On top of the unnatural ingredients and hidden MSG, the oils used are genetically modified and none of the ingredients are organic. They probably contain traces of various herbicides and insecticides as extra unlisted ingredients. Read more about GMOs here and here.
Are All These Ingredients and All That Processing Really Necessary?
Food Babe is super good at revealing the real story behind processed foods. She learned that the French fries in McDonald’s in the United Kingdom aren’t prepared at all like those in the U.S.! In the UK, McDonald’s fries have only four ingredients, plus salt, and one of the four–dextrose–is only added at the beginning of the season (maybe the potatoes aren’t as sweet then?) Admittedly, the UK fries are cooked in unhealthy vegetable oils (canola/rapeseed and sunflower), but at least the oils aren’t hydrogenated. If fries can be made with only four ingredients in the UK, why are ours so much more unhealthy? Is it because McDonald’s can get away with it here?
I can’t talk about fried foods, especially potatoes, without mentioning the acrylamide that is formed during the high heat process. Acrylamide was discovered by Swedish scientists in 2002. It is found in many foods but is especially common in starchy foods cooked at temperatures above 250 degrees Fahrenheit. “Foods such as French fries and potato chips seem to have the highest levels of acrylamide, but it is also found in breads and other grain products. Acrylamide does not form (or forms at lower levels) in dairy, meat, and fish products.” [source] Some studies have shown adverse effects from high does of acrylamide, [source] so it is probably a good idea to eat starchy fried foods like potatoes only occasionally.
I’m glad I don’t eat at McDonald’s. Do you?
Here in Houston, blueberries are in season, and I love blueberries! They have always been my favorite berry and one of my overall favorite fruits. I eat them with my homemade Nutty Granola and raw milk, in smoothies, in homemade ice cream, and now also in banana nut bread. I found these blueberries at my local farmers market.
Somehow the combination of moist banana and blueberries produced a bread even more delicious than when using either one by itself. An even bigger plus is that blueberries are very nutritious and pack a lot of health benefits. Bananas are good for you too!
Here’s how I made my blueberry banana nut bread:
2 ½ cups organic flour (I used Jovial Einkorn high extraction flour so that I would not need to soak the flour)
2/3 cup organic sucanat or other unrefined sweetener (I used Rapunzel whole sugar)
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder (I used Rumford aluminum-free baking powder)
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt (I used Celtic Sea Salt
3 tablespoons oil (I used Olea olive oil, but coconut oil would work well too)
1/3 cup milk (I used local raw whole milk)
1 egg, preferably from pastured chickens
1 ¼ cups mashed organic banana (about 2 to 3 medium)
1 cup organic blueberries (I used fresh local, but frozen would work too)
1 cup chopped nuts (I used chopped soaked and dehydrated pecans)
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter bottom only of loaf pan (I used a glass Pyrex 9 x 5″ loaf pan).
Mix all ingredients except fruits and nuts. Beat for about 30 seconds.
Mix in mashed banana.
Fold in blueberries and chopped nuts.
Pour into loaf pan.
Cool slightly then loosen sides and place on a rack to cool completely before slicing.
Enjoy with lots of butter from grassfed cows! (You can see that the butter is beginning to melt. The bread smelled so good cooking, I just couldn’t wait to try a piece.)
For sources of ingredients and cooking supplies go to my Resources page.
Yes, I know it’s old-fashioned, but I still read my newspaper every morning while I drink my cup of bone broth and eat my breakfast.
However, the newspaper is not my only, and not even my primary, news source. I read articles from many other sources, from social media to Google alerts to favorite websites and newsletter feeds.
I also read books, mostly in the tangible, paper form, but I may begin to read more ebooks since some are only being published in that format. Not all of those books are about nutrition and health so I won’t always mention them here.
Now for the news . . .
- First! Don’t forget the Houston Real Food Nutrition meeting this coming Saturday, July 12th, at 3 PM! We will learn about the benefits of cod liver oil, our number one super food and have a give away of Green Pasture products.
- The Farm-to-consumer Legal Defense Fund reports some important successes in 2013 and early 2014, including the acquittal of Wisconsin raw milk dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger, a successful lawsuit protecting heritage pigs in Michigan, a favorable ruling for a Pennsylvania food club distributing raw milk, and passage of an important bill that decreases regulations for family farms in Virginia.
- Texas cotton farmers have requested permission to use an unlicensed highly toxic pesticide on their crops, which are 90% genetically engineered (GMO), and the weeds in the fields are now resistant to the chemicals currently being used due to overuse. The request would allow the herbicide propazine to be sprayed on over 3 million acres of Texas farmland. Propazine, highly soluble in water, is in a class of chemicals linked to “developmental and reproductive toxicity.”
- Do we really need a GMO banana? People in the U.S. will soon be the first to test the new banana, which as been genetically engineered to add “vitamin A.” I put the vitamin A in quotation marks because the GMO banana doesn’t really have any vitamin A. What it does have is beta carotene, and, although beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A, the conversion efficiency is poor. Absorption is “estimated to be between 9–22%.” Humans absorb about 80% of true vitamin A from animal sources, but only about 3% of carotenoids from plant sources. (source)
- You’ve probably heard people say that the anti-vaxers cause epidemics, but even the CDC admits that “they are not the driving force behind the large-scale outbreaks or epidemics” of whooping-cough (pertussis). In one study of 132 patients who had pertussis in 2010 “81 percent were fully up to date on the whooping-cough vaccine.” Dr. Mercola has a great new post about the effectiveness of vaccines. In fact, another recent study suggests that those recently vaccinated are asymptomatic carriers that spread the disease.
- More bad news about the adverse effects of BPA (Bisphenol A), a chemical used in many plastic products and can linings. A University of Missouri study has shown that male turtle embryos exposed to BPA develop more like females. Another study from Tufts University School of Medicine found that BPA causes epigenetic changes in the mammary glands of laboratory animals. Those changes could lead to breast cancer.
- The Séralini study on the toxic effects of GMOs and glyphosate which was retracted because its results were “inclusive” has been republished, although an editor of the journal admitted “there was no fraud, misconduct, or intentional misrepresentation of data detected.” After undergoing two more review processes the study has been republished by the journal, Environmental Sciences Europe. A journal has never before retracted a study for inconclusiveness.
- Sometimes it helps to have someone do a step-by-step debunking of common myths. Authority Nutrition does a superb job of debunking “20 Mainstream Nutrition Myths.” My favorite is # 4, egg yolks should be avoided. I so agree with Authority Nutrition: “Telling people to throw the yolks away may just be the most ridiculous advice in the history of nutrition.”
Not all news is bad! Here is a natural remedy (no bad side effects) and sources of toxin-free bedding.
- Natural remedies not only work they have no adverse side effects. Natural remedies for dandruff include raw honey and tea tree oil.
- Organic and allergy-free bedding can be a life saver.
Now for some delicious, nutritious recipes to help keep you healthy and happy!
- Decadent Black Cherry Chocolate Tart (Paleo, GAPS) Cherries are Nutritious: Although most of the calories in sweet cherries come from sugars, the glycemic load is low and there is some omega-3 fat. The most important thing about cherries is the huge amount of antioxidants and various anthocyanins. From Real Food Forager
- Zucchini Pasta with Artichoke, Mushrooms and Sun Dried Tomatoes: Gluten and grain-free. Zucchini is a good source of Vitamin A, thiamine, niacin, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese. The omega 3 to 6 ratio is almost 2 to 1, which is excellent. From Real Food Forager
- Haystack Onion Rings for Your Grassfed Burgers. Haystack onion rings are the crispy-licious BOMB on a grassfed burger or even just for a tasty snack. From Kelly the Kitchen Kop
- Summer Berry and Oat Cobbler (and a celebration of homemade flour) The mix of berries topped with an oaten biscuit, makes for a lovely dessert or breakfast – especially when topped with homemade yogurt or kefir.
I have recently published the first page of my Resources. This page (also listed in the menu above) includes sources for nutritious foods, both local and online; non-toxic personal care products; garden and farm products; and a few sources for organic bedding and clothing. The page will be continually updated. Since publishing I have already added several new sources, and even some new topics.
The current topics listed are Food and Cooking Resources, Personal Care Products (includes personal and tooth care products and organic clothing, Household Products (includes cleaners, mattresses, and bedding), Garden and Farm Products, and Other Bloggers’ Resource Lists.
Eventually I plan to add pages which will provide sources of nutrition and health information so keep watching for the new pages to be published.
I hope you find these resources useful, and, as always, I welcome your recommendations for additional sources, either local or online.
Disclosure: none of the links are affiliate links, including the Amazon links. The resource list is provided as a service to help you find the products you need. I get no compensation if you buy a listed product.
Cod liver oil is one of nature’s superfoods according to Dr. Chris Masterjohn, an expert on fat soluble vitamins. He spoke at the recent Houston Regional Wise Traditions Conference in March.
If you are interested in learning how cod liver oil can help keep you healthy, Houston Real Food Nutrition is having a Meetup on July 12th to discuss the benefits. There will be a showing of Dr. Masterjohn’s conference presentation, Cod Liver Oil, Our Number One Superfood, followed by a general discussion.
After the presentation and discussion, there will be a drawing for Green Pasture products. Green Pasture is the maker of Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Blue Ice Royal High Vitamin Butter Oil.
Green Pasture was one of the vendors at the Houston conference and donated their samples, which cannot be sold, to the local Houston-Galveston chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation to benefit its members. Most of the samples have only a small amount removed, and two of them have not been opened.
You could be one of the lucky winners who get to choose one of the free Green Pasture products.
There is no charge to attend the meeting and no charge to join the Meetup group. If you are not already a member, join today and RSVP for the meeting. Join Houston Real Food Nutrition now!
I will be at the meeting! I hope to see you there!