The video I posted above is a prime example of what is wrong with our food supply and why I try to avoid processed foods and foods with additives and preservatives . My neighbor, Randy, was shocked after seeing this video. As we discussed it, he grabbed a muffin from a batch he had made that afternoon from a pre-mix box. “LOOK!” he said, breaking up the muffin, “there aren’t any blueberries, its just coloring!” I nodded my head in agreement and Randy shook his in disappointment. “My kids deserve better.” he proclaimed. A few hours later, after our discussion, I received a picture text from Randy and it was of a container of organic blueberries. “I’m going to make my own.” was under-neath it.
When it comes to muffins and breakfast breads I tend to make them myself. It really takes little time to whip up the batter and pour them in a muffin tin, not to mention the antioxidants found in REAL blueberries have anti-aging and anti-cancer benefits. Here is a recipe I adore, it is from The Master Your Metabolism Cookbook by Jillian Micheals. As you probably all know, Jillian Micheals is famous for The Biggest Loser, but I really love her because she believes that foods that contain chemicals and additives interfere with your bodies ability to maintain a healthy metabolism and optimum health.I have to agree!
Blueberry Banana Muffins
olive oil spray for the muffin tin ( I usually use coconut oil)
3/4 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 2)
3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt ( I use Fage Greek 0%)
1/2 cup honey (I use local, it helps with allegies and the taste is usually superior)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups white whole- wheat flour (King Author makes a great organic)
2 tsp aluminum- free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 generous cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted ( I usually don’t toast them for some reason, but if you want to just heat them in a pan on the stove top for a few seconds)
In a large bowl, Place bananas , yogurt, honey, olive oil and vanilla. Stir together until mixed well
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir until well combined. Fold in blueberries and the nuts, if using.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Place the tin in the oven and reduce the heat to 400 degrees F. Bake 35-40 minutes.
calories 216.0 fat: 6.8 g carbs. 37.1g sodium 234.5 mg
These muffins are great in the morning for a quick breakfast or snack! I also like the fact that I know what is in them and the calories, since muffins can be obnoxious, calorically speaking.
I’ll tell you another tale about my life and preservatives. Sometime this past December (2010), I got fed up with buying bread off the shelf of the grocery store. At the grocery store that I frequently shop at you can not find bread that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup to save your life! In the frozen section, if you are lucky you can find Ezekiel bread which is fantastic, however the boyfriend doesn’t care for it much. I was looking for a french bread to make a pizza with, so I opted for bakery bread thinking it would be fresher and although it did not contain HFCS it did contain something called TBHQ. Seeing the letters T, B and H sent a red flag off in my mind because I already knew of the dangers of BHT, another substance commonly found in, well, EVERYTHING!!
Here’s what I found: TBHQ, Tertiary Butylhydroquinone, is used as a preservative often in conjunction with BHT and BHA which are both a by-product of butane! TBHQ can cause a whole hosts of problems including nausea,delirium, ringing in the ears, collapse and of course, cancer. Here’s the real shocker, consuming 5 grams of TBHQ can even be fatal! I really wish I made this stuff up!
I have been aware of the dangers of BHT and BHA for a while now. The natural dog food company that I work for prides themselves in not using BHT or BHA as a preservative. I cannot tell you how crazy it is for me to see BHT and BHA in soo many foods in the grocery store. If it is not good for my dog, and not in his food, WHY is it in ours?!
Here’s a list of additives and preservatives I try and avoid… like the plague!
1. BHT,Butylated hydroxytoluene, and BHA,Butylated hydroxyanisole, used in cosmetics, jet fuels, embalming fluid and of course frozen pizzas, cookies, crackers , cereals , gum, shaving cream and pet foods. Often added to help preserve fats to prevent them from going rancid. In some studies both BHT and BHA have been show to cause cancer and behavioral problems. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.
2. Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame & High Frutose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Aspartame has been linked to many side affects. The following are from mercola.com, a site headed by Dr. Joseph Mercola, whom I feel is a top authority on Aspartame. Dr. Mercola has also written the book Sweet Misery, detailing the true evils of this artificial chemical nightmare.
- Abdominal pains
- Fatigue (blocks sufficient glucose entry into brain)
- Sleep problems
- Vision problems
- Anxiety attacks
- Asthma/chest tightness
Aspartame has also been linked to many illnesses including brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson’s disease, alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.
Ever turn over a Pepsi Zero? Ever seen the warning for phenylalanine? Phenylalanine is an amino acid that makes up 50 % of aspartame. Phenylalanine is actually a amino acid found in the brain, however certain persons cannot metabolize it, which leads to a build up in the brain.
My problem with aspartame, the component in Splenda and Equal is not only the above symptoms and side affects that I have listed but the fact that it in the long run it makes you crave more sugar and GAIN weight! When you drink artificial sweeteners they taste sweet, but your brain does not get the calories that it thinks it should be getting thus, it needs more sugar. Not to mention that aspartame breaks down in your body into asparic acid and wood alcohol (formic acid), code name for formaldehyde , which is a neurotoxin. Dangerous and gross!
Quickly I will add, that it is impossibly to buy gum at most grocery stores and gas stations that doesn’t contain BHT/BHA and aspartame, a real life nightmare for me! On my first encounter with my message therapist I complained of constant shoulder pain and was enlightened that gum could be to blame. There are great gums on the market that are xylitol based and can improve oral health.
As for high fructose corn syrup, I feel that there is a definite correlation between when it was released on the market in the late 70’s early 80’s and our nations obesity epidemic, which has skyrocketed. High fructose corn syrup is greatly shown to cause insulin resistance and lead to type 2 diabetes. A few years ago, I lost my grandmother to severe diabetes and pancreatic cancer. She was always drinking sodas, I think I saw her drink water once?! What I would give to know then what I know now, but I digress.
3. Propylene glycol and Ethylene glycol
A form of mineral oil, like BHT and BHA it is also in a wide variety of products and is common in, anti-freeze, body lotions and salad dressings. This petrochemical can have damaging affects to the Central Nervous System including the heart and liver.
4. Food dyes
Linked to some cancers and behavioral problems in kids and adults. You cannot find a jar of pickles at the grocery store without yellow #1! Since pickles were about the only thing left that I was still buying that contained food dyes I have since started making my own. It is not hard, literally takes about 10 minutes. There is a great recipe at www.wholefoods.com, called “Quick Pickles”. Yummy!
I’ve touched on Genetically Modified foods briefly in a previous blog, but it is a subject that I hold so dear to my heart, I would talk about it every day if someone would let me (Ha!). I was recently at the capital here in Austin, protesting the new legislation of Genetically Modified Alfalfa and demanding labeling on all Genetically Modified foods. Simply put GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms, genetically engineered to be resistant to pesticides and bugs. What’s scary is that the DNA taken to make the new organism can even be from a different species, remember the fish genes in the strawberries from my previous blog (Eating Local, Organic, Seasonal and Sometimes Doing Without)? Studies indicate GMOs increase food sensitivities and allergies. Corn is a top allergy in dogs often causing dogs who are sensitive to constantly itch and have hot spots, a type of rash accompanied by red bumps. Most corn is GMO, unless labeled otherwise. What are the chances of Trooper and I both being sensitive to corn? Coincidence? I think not!
Studies have also shown that long term affects of consuming GMO foods to include sterility! It is said that if you take the date of when GMO foods were introduced into the mainstream market (late 70″s) and count two generations, that the second generation will be sterile. This resonates with me being diagnosed as a Celiac, or allergic to (wheat) gluten because those who do have gluten sensitivities are also show to have sterility problems. Once again, coincidence? The U.S is one of the only countries that has NOT banned GMOs, Why? Not wanting to bore you to death with minute details, I gave you the condensed version of why I avoid GMO foods and choose organic. If you are interested in more information please check out www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto. There will be another GMO protest this coming October (2011), we need more people to be informed and spread the word!
6. The dirty dozen
The dirty dozen is a list of fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide levels.
7. sweet bell peppers
9. kale/collard greens
12. grapes (imported)
There is a great iPhone app called “Dirty Dozen” . www.ewg.org for more information.
Mono sodium Glutamate is its primary name, but it can lurk in your cabinets as hydrolyzed yeast protein, glutamic acid , Textured protein, gelatin, yeast food, yeast nutrient and sodium/calcium caseinate. MSG is a flavor enhancer and excitotoxin, causing cell damage and even death. Other symptoms include headache, nausea, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, difficulty breathing , eye damage and obesity. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. I last saw this ingredient on a bag of Cheetos, to be honest, I was a little sad inside.
8. Nitrates, Nitrites
Added to processed and cured meats like bacon, hot dogs and bologna, recent studies indicate nitrates and nitrites increase risk for colon, bladder, stomach and pancreatic cancer. I have to add, that hot dogs and bologna are pretty disgusting in general . A lot of brands on the market are getting better about labeling products as Nitrate/Nitrite free, so make sure to give the package the once over!
In my opinion, you have two choices: You can either pay the farmer or pay the Doctor. With the recent discussion about health care and its soaring expense, I have made a decision. I choose to pay the farmer. People always complain that organic is expensive and I agree, it can get pricy. I usually respond with something along the lines of “so is chemotherapy”. I would much rather pay for something I enjoy, such as fresh, organic blueberries rather than chemotherapy or diabetes medication any day. I also believe that you vote, at every meal, with your dollars as to what the standard of our food is. If we chose to buy processed, chemical laden, “franken-food” then that is what big corporation will keep shoving down our throats and making readily and cheaply available to us, the consumer. If we stand together and choose organic, fresh and non processed foods every day, three meals a day, then the message will be clear and we can really make a difference as to what is on the market and how much it costs!
Thanks to everyone that has been reading my blog thus far, it means the world to me! Have a healthy day!