New Segment: What We Ate

I’ve had several people ask me what I eat in a normal day, especially if I try not to use processed foods very much.  It’s been a very long transition, so most of this stuff seems pretty easy to me now.  When I think back to when I first started I was a completely lost, so I hope this helps give some ideas to someone out there…I think I’ll make this a new segment, and I’ll try to take pics of everything in the future.

This is not a perfect day, but pretty good.

Breakfast:  Bagels and cream cheese (we don’t normally have bagels but they were leftover from company in town), fruit salad made up of fresh pineapple, oranges, and apples

Snack: Raisins

Lunch: Ham Sandwiches (leftover from a honey baked ham we had recently), sweet potatoes sprinkled with brown sugar and butter, cottage cheese

Snack:  Dried Fruit Mix (the kind with no added sugar or preservatives…just fruit)

Dinner:  Sweet and Sour Chicken over Rice (Original Recipe from my MIL)

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Meaty Thighs
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Ketchup
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 1 Can Chunk Pineapple
  • 1/2 Cup Vinegar
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar ( I use less of this and pour in pineapple juice to sweeten it up)
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tbs Corn Starch (sometimes does not need)
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Green Pepper, chopped

Directions:

Boil and debone the chicken.  Fry meat with the onion and green pepper in small amount of oil until vegetable is tender.  Add 3/4 cup water, ketchup, sugar, salt, pineapple juice (drained from the can of chunk pineapple).  Simmer.  Thicken sauce with the cornstarch, diluted in 1/4 cup water.  Stir until thickened.  Serve over warm, cooked rice.

My hubby took one bite of this and said, “mmmmm…tastes just like Sybil’s.”  His mom is an amazing cook.  The boys liked it too and it’s a pretty easy yummy dinner.  We also ate a salad and some sort of side vegetable…probably peas.

There you have it – a typical day in our house.  We normally eat meat about once a week, so I guess this was the day!

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Nature Knows Better

This has been floating around on the internet the past couple of days.  Thanks to my good friend Lauren for sending it to me.  I absolutely love it.

Top Right: Margarine

Left:  Reduced-Fat Margarine

Bottom Right:  Natural Butter

This is my whole viewpoint on what we should be eating: REAL food from REAL food sources.  Man-made stuff is junk.  Eat what grows naturally.  What is butter made out of? Milk.  What is margarine made out of?  Completely man-made and processed poison.  I’ve got to hand it to the ants on this one.  They won’t always be right (like when they are crowding around a pile of leaky garbage or a slobbery wad of skittles), but this time they nailed it.  Something to think about.

New Change

Remember how I only allow myself to make one major change every 2 months (you can also look at the “Where do I Begin?” section at the top to get ideas of what changes to make)?  Well, March is upon us so it’s time for the next one.  January was the start of making my own bread, and it’s been great.  I make 3 loaves about every 10 days, and pop them in the freezer until I need them.  Anyway, my next major change is going to be absolutely no food coloring.  I don’t use it often, because we try not to have many processed foods in the house, but sometimes I use it to make green pancakes for St. Patrick’s Day, or for decorating cakes or something.

I was reading some stuff on Wikipedia (so it MUST be true, right) about the kinds of things permitted to be added to our food and it’s horrifying.  Many kinds of artificial colorings are banned in other countries, but not in the states.  Check out the first one listed: Brilliant Blue.

“As a blue color, Brilliant Blue FCF is often found in ice creamcanned processed peas, packet soups, bottled food colorings, icings, ice pops,blue raspberry flavored products, dairy products, sweets[2] and drinks. It is also used in soapsshampoosmouthwash[3] and other hygiene and cosmetics applications. In soil science, Brilliant Blue is applied in tracing studies to visualize infiltration and water distribution in the soil.

Brilliant Blue FCF has previously been banned in AustriaBelgiumDenmarkFranceGermanyGreeceItalySpainSweden, and Switzerlandamong others[citation needed] but has been certified as a safe food additive in the EU and is today legal in most of the countries. It has the capacity for inducing an allergic reaction in individuals with pre-existing moderate asthma.[4] In the United States production exceeds 1 million pounds annually, and daily consumption is around 16 mg per person.[citation needed] Extensive testing has led the National Institutes of Health to conclude that color additives do not cause hyperactivity.[5] “

Does this concern anyone else?  And 1 million pounds annually?  Why is it allowed here and not in those other countries?  Yikes.  Pretty nutso.  Anyway, click on a few other colors and look under “Health and Safety.”  That’s enough to make me use spinach as a green dye, and beets for red, instead of food coloring for the next little while.  Here we go, March and April.  Coloring’s out!

Want to See a Tiny Camera go Through Your Digestive Tract?

The Mr. showed me this article in The Huffington Post a couple of weeks ago.  If you can get over the annoying commentator, it’s pretty interesting stuff.  It shows what happens when you eat Top Ramen, Gatorade, and Gummy Bears versus Homemade Noodles. If you are squeamish about bodily juices and stuff, don’t watch it. 😉

Bottom line:  Food coloring basically has no federal regulations, and processed food is digested completely differently in your body than whole foods.

Book Summary – The China Study, Part 1 Continued

Chapter 4:  Lessons from China

  • In the early 1970’s a survey was conducted in the entire country of China, which revealed that cancer was geographically localized.  In some areas, cancer rates were 100 times the rates of the lower areas (in the U.S. we see at most 2 to 3 times, so 100 times is enormous).
  • Why?  This was the beginning of “The China Study.”
  • In the USA, 15-16% of total calories comes from protein (80% of that protein is animal protein), and in rural China, only 9-10% total calories come from protein (only 10% of that is from animal sources).
  • The Chinese are consuming an average of 2641 calories, with 14.5% fat, and Americans are consuming 1989 calories with 38% fat.   The Chinese eat higher calories, less fat, less protein, less animal protein, more fiber, and more iron.
  • Diseases of Affluence (Nutritional Extravagance): Cancer, Diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease
  • Diseases of Poverty (Nutritional Inadequacy and Poor Sanitation):Pneumonia, Ulcers, Digestive Diseases, Tuberculosis, Parasitic Diseases, Rheumatic Heart Disease.  Notice no cancer!
  • One of the strongest predictors of Western Diseases (diseases of affluence) is blood cholesterol.
  • Lower blood cholesterol levels are linked to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and other western diseases.
  • Many prominent heart doctors have never seen a heart disease fatality among their patients with a blood cholesterol level below 150.
  • Nutrients from plant-based foods are associated with decreasing levels of blood cholesterol.
  • There is a lot of confusion among scientists regarding questions with dietary fat – how much, what kind, Omega-6 or 3, what kinds of oils are okay, etc.  When details are studied in isolation, results can be misleading.  We need to look at how networks of chemicals behave instead.
  • Only 2-3% of all cancers are attributed to genes.  The rest are strongly influenced by diet.
  • There is an interesting relationship with dietary fat and breast cancer.  Higher fat can influence early menstruation, high cholesterol, late menopause, and higher exposure to female hormones.  This can extend the reproductive life from beginning to end by 9-10 years.  This extra decade of exposure to hormones can greatly influence a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
  • A large survey in China revealed that the average age of a woman’s first period was 15-19 years old.  In America, the average age is 11.
  • The more colorful your produce, the higher antioxidant levels, which shield you from free-radicals (cancer-causing agents).
  • Again, the benefits do not lie in an individual nutrient or mineral, but in the whole food.
  • Don’t reach for a vitamin.  Eat it in a fruit or vegetable instead.
  • The Atkins diet reaks havoc on your system.  Don’t do it.
  • The low-carb diet craze is unfortunate.  Carbs are our friends.  Just make sure they are from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.    Many people think they are eating a healthy vegetarian diet by eating lots of pastas, highly processed crackers and chips, white flour, etc.  This is the reason carbs have gotten a bad rap.  That is the stuff that puts on weight and doesn’t add nutritional value.
  • Chinese are more physically active than Americans.  Their calorie intake is 30% higher, yet their body weight is 20% lower.
  • They are eating the right foods (plant-based protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and riding their bikes!

Frustrated

Blogs are a weird thing because you can kind of be an “alter-ego.”  You can post about the very best things and parts of life, and readers go on getting depressed that they don’t have the picture-perfect marriage, the most attractive and obedient children, the cutest house, the most exciting lifestyle, the best recipes, and the hardest body.  It’s like keeping up with the Joneses but worse and way more in your face.  I like to keep it real because I think it helps other people relate, and it makes everyone feel better.  So I have a confession:

I fed my kids Hot Pockets for dinner on Friday.  Say WHAAAAAAAT?  Yup.  We had a free coupon a while back so they were just sitting in the freezer “for emergencies.”  I guess I thought I’d never break them open.  Friday was a pretty good day, but by 5:00 I was completely out of steam and when I got a call from The Mr. saying he wouldn’t be home for a while, I just couldn’t muster up the energy to make a dinner from scratch (plus we literally had zero food in the house).  The little angel and devil popped up on my shoulders.  “How about Hot Pockets?”  “NOOOOOOO!  I can’t feed that to my babies!”  But guess what, sometimes we have to give ourselves a break.  Do I usually give my kids lots of nutritious yummy foods?  Yes.  Are they happy and healthy?  Yes.  Is one tiny hot pocket over the course of their childhood going to give them colon cancer?   No.  So I did it.  It was done in 60 seconds and devoured in the same amount of time.  And I smiled and I felt fine.   So there you have it.  Granola Mom isn’t perfect.  Give yourselves a break and just do the best you can!

So on to the next topic.  I am extremely frustrated and completely stressed out.  I heard somewhere that if you read 10 books on one subject you are considered an expert.  So what happens if you read twice as many nutrition books and you are more confused than before you read any thing at all?  I am so sick of not knowing who/what is right and feeling guilty despite my best efforts to provide good nutrition for my family.  In the past month alone I have read/watched/skimmed/listened to the following arguments, from very passionate researchers, who all provided convincing arguments:

1.  Animal protein is extremely bad for you and will cause cancer.

2.  High-quality animal protein is beneficial to optimal health.

3.  All dairy needs to be cut out of diet.  This will cure many diseases.  Don’t ever feed your baby or children cow’s milk.

4.  “My father-in-law is a Pediatric Neurologist and he says all children should drink whole milk until the age of 12.”

5.  Whole grains are the best kind to eat, but not “modern and processed” whole grains.

6.  A book called “Wheat Belly” just came out that claims ALL grains are bad for you, and they are what is keeping Americans fat.

7.  Pasteurized milk is healthy.

8.  Pasteurizing milk kills important bacteria and enzymes that are needed for nutrients to be properly absorbed.  Drink raw milk instead.

9.  My pediatrician told me Tornado needs to drink 3 pediasures a day to be on the right weight curve, and if his weight is not where she wants it in a month she is re-testing him for allergies, Cystic Fibrosis (which he does not have), Celiacs, or other digestive disorders.

10. The very next day I took him to a dietician who told me that he was perfectly fine and healthy, especially for a baby who was breastfed and that 2 pounds gained in 2 months was “awesome.”  She sees hundreds of babies with the very same issue where the dr. is freaking out because they are not on “traditional curves” compared to formula fed babies.  It isn’t necessary to give him any pediasure.  Just real food and real fats.

11.  Give fluoride to your children.  It will prevent cavities

12.  Flouride is poison.

13.  The food guide pyramid is what you should eat.

14.  You will never know the truth about nutrition, because the government health programs are so corrupt that it will never be permitted to be printed.

So my friends, what is a mother to do?  Should I just stop listening to all these different sources with conflicting information (and the research to back it up) and just go with my intuition?  I literally stress out any time I think about giving my children anything to eat!  It’s insane.  Who do I listen to?   Do pediatricians really know anything about nutrition?   Real nutrition?  Or are they just taught what the general population is taught (Food Guide Pyramid and all that stuff) which so many activists are against?  Who can I trust?

I suppose that is why I am doing this blog.  Hopefully I can keep learning as I go, and read and study and get more knowledge, but for now, my philosophy is this:

I will feed my family whole foods that I cooked in my own home, as much as I can.  And all those questions…I will let them roll off my back until I gain enough knowledge to feel sure about them.  If I do make changes, I will make them very slowly so as not to get overwhelmed, and that’s as much as I am thinking about it.  The rest of my “worry” time I will spend having fun with the fam and giving myself a break for not being perfect.  Who’s with me?

 

Happy New Year! And Resolutions!

Hey everyone.  I hope you are all safe tonight and have a smashing time ringing in the New Year!  The Wild One caught a little stomach bug so we are keeping it pretty low-key this year.  Once the kids are snuggled in their beds The Mr. and I are cozying up with a movie and some homemade ice cream (recipe coming soon!).

I am starting up the No Processed Foods Challenge again this week…Probably about January 4th because it will take me that long to get my act together.  Feel free to join me!  Even if you only decide to do it for 3 days, or for a week.  You have four days to talk yourself into it.  You will feel a HUGE difference.  I have been noticing the side effects of “eating normally” again – most notably that I can’t run as fast or far without cramping or not being able to breathe. 🙂

Here are some of Granola Mom’s New Year’s Resolutions:

+ Take better pictures!  I am signed up for a photography class and am so excited about it!

+ Read one book a month minimum – Sounds pretty lame, but you’d be surprised at how hard it is for me to find the time/energy to do this!

+ Get more sleep – Going to try to be in bed by 10:30, which seems absolutely impossible as I am typing this.  When there is a will, there’s a way!

I have a couple more personal ones I am working on too, but that’s the gist of it.  Notice how there is nothing in there about my body, weight, or diet.  Feel free to jump on that bandwagon and find more emotionally healthy goals.

Here’s to Health and Happiness in the New Year from the Granola Fam!