Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Beet Bread Revisited

So that I don't have to post twice, please go visit Wellness Wednesday #9 on my main blog to learn about my latest adventures in breadmaking. I will post the recipe here though:

Beet Bread (adapted from A Good Cook...Ten Talents by Frank and Rosalie Hurd, published by The College Press, Collegedale, TN, 1968)

Into a blender:
1 can diced beets, including juice (abt 2 cups)
1/3 c honey
2 1/2 c warm water

In small bowl or measuring cup:
1/2 c warm water
1 t honey
2 1/2 T yeast
Dissolve and let set five minutes, while...

Put beet mix in bowl and add:
1/2 c oil (I used light olive oil)
1/2 c ground flax seed
5 1/2 c whole wheat flour (mine was fresh ground)
Yeast mixture

Mix at low speed (I used a Kitchen Aid Pro5 mixer). When thoroughly combined, allow to rest in mixing bowl for 20 minutes.

After resting, add:
5 c unbleached white flour (I used King Arthur bread flour)
1 T salt (it is important to add the salt last, AFTER the yeast has rested in the dough as described in the previous step)

Knead 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. It may take less time in the mixer. Place in oiled bowl in warm, draft free area. (I used a large stainless steel mixing bowl because it grew out of my glass mixing bowl last time) Let rise until doubled.

Oil bread pans. Shape into 3-5 loaves, depending on size of pans. (I got 3 loaves using 2 large Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pans and 1 medium glass loaf pan or 4 loaves using only one stoneware pan, two medium glass pans and one small metal pan) Allow to rise again until double.

Bake at 375* for 50 minutes until done. Time will vary depending on loaf size. The glass pan could have done with a little less time. The stoneware pans were just right at 50 minutes. Loaves are cooked through if they sound hollow when tapping the bottoms. (ADD: Lately I have been setting the timer at 35 minutes and take out the smallest one, then set another 5 mins and check the mediums and take them out and leave the large one another 5 minutes. This seemed to work well.)

Oil tops to keep soft. When thoroughly cooled , wrap and store.

My Grandma Hopkins' notes say that she used 13 1/2 c whole wheat flour and 3 1/2-4 c beets/juice. From this she made 2 medium loaves, 4 small loaves and 12 rolls.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Beet Bread

Look what I did today! This feels so good to have a bread success, especially when you don't know really what you are doing! I had been looking for a recipe for years, for beet bread, which my Grandma Hopkins always made. Then last year my Aunt found it in the Ten Talents Cookbook, which is a Seventh Day Adventist cookbook. This is my first chance to make it. I remember helping Grandma grind the wheat and put the dough into all kinds of containers...baskets, tin cans and occasionally real bread pans! :o) She was always inventive about things like that, the ultimate frugal queen!

She made batches and batches of this and always gave it away. It had the loveliest raspberry colored dough and I always liked it, though many others were afraid to try it when they heard what was in it. Grandma was always making "experiments" and some family members and friends were quite cautious when she offered her goods! LOL

I ground the wheat in my Vita-Mix, so had fresh flour. It called for 5 cups wheat and 5 cups white. I used King Arthur unbleached bread flour and followed the recipe except for the 1/2 cup of soy flour, because we don't use soy. As I suspected Grandma didn't follow the recipe! :o)

You can't tell by the pictures but this is a king size loaf. My bread knife was in the dishwasher and the dishwasher was running so it didn't cut well, but I ate two slices with a little butter and a little wild, raw honey! Hmmm...DELICIOUS! It is tender and moist with a texture that a storebought bread eater would tolerate. That must be the white flour. I believe my Grandma used more beets because hers was really raspberry colored and used all whole wheat flour. Hers was a fairly dense bread. I would like to work on using less or no white flour but still need a texture that my picky family will tolerate. Would it work to use some oat flour or barley flour to replace some of the white?

This is a blurry picture, but I feel blessed to have Grandma's original cookbook and she does have notes. I misread her notes...that's why I have two king size loaves instead of 3 or more normal ones. Still, overall this was a bread success. My goal is find a bread my family will enjoy eating on a regular basis so that we can quite buying store bread!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Playing With The Vita-Mix

Well, naturally I have been playing with my new "toy". I want to make sure that I learn to use it and then *use* it. My hubby works hard for our money and I don't want to waste it. The kids are fascinated by it and even watched the instructional DVD with me twice. I have watched it about 5 times just because I think of something else I didn't remember. Of course the kids all lined up with their little chairs in the entrance between the kitchen/living room to watch what I was going to do next...and wait for samples.

Yesterday I made smoothies twice. We have lots of frozen berries because I didn't get jam made this past year and because my folks brought some or my favorite Washington Raspberries down with them. (They grow in CA but they don't taste that great, it's just not raspberry weather here.) I also froze some peaches. I haven't experimented with those yet. The first was bananas, orange, blueberries and strawberries. That was so pretty, a raspberry/burgandy color. The second for after dinner was oranges, bananas and strawberries. My son, who is the pickiest, did not like them at first. Of course he needs to train his tastebuds that not everything that tastes good is sweet. I have tried to feed him healthy, but he just came out with a taste for sugar and chocolate in particular. He is one of the reasons that I am doing this.

For dinner last night I made the tortilla soup recipe. I started with boiling water, but the other ingredients are cold and I was a little timid about using the machine, so it did not come out as hot temperature wise as we like. So, we did end up heating it in the microwave and there were a couple things we would change but we really liked it. Hubby said that was the first time he had ever voluntarily eaten cabbage! lol The soup recipes are very adaptable and most of them involve much less heating than a regular soup would have, so they are healthier. I would like to try doing a soup night once a week. This will save grocery $, be nutritious and get us out of the habit of thinking we need a slab of meat on the plate to call it dinner! My husband had two servings, so that is a good sign. :o)

This morning I wanted to make bread. I knew I had some wheat that had been in the freezer and was shocked to see that it had a date of 12/2005 on it! I defrost and clean my freezer every 6 months and we do a lot with the freezer, so I was a little surprised to find something that old! Oops! I decided to try it anyway, since there is no $ until payday on Friday. I was really impressed with how quickly it made flour. I followed the bread recipe but I am not sure what I did wrong, but it was too wet, like a batter. I decided to cook it anyway to at least taste what it was like. It actually tasted really good and was not heavy like some all wheat breads. So, right now I have a second loaf that I made from some white whole wheat flour I had on hand and it rose nicely. The verdict is still out though.

You may be wondering why I am doing wheat if I want to go gluten free. Well, I am only one of five in our family and I am the only one who is doing this. In the mean time I would like to find a good recipe of bread to make on a regular basis. I think when I find a recipe, I may try it with the Kitchen Aid mixer because I can do more than one loaf at a time. However, if things continue to progress so well, I will probably be able to eliminate the bread machine, which I don't use for making bread anyway, mostly mixing dough for pizza and cinnamon rolls. Time will tell. Also Charlotte mentioned that gluten free bread is easier to do in a bread machine. I would imagine that less handling helps that. There is a gluten free recipe in the Vitamix cookbook and I will try that too.

Today I have also been making ice. We just have one ice cube tray since we don't usually use ice and don't entertain. So as soon as it gets done, I dump it into a ziploc and put more water in the tray. Hubby would like to try the pineapple smoothie recipe tonight and it requires ice cubes.

I almost forgot, we made a smoothie of our own concotion today at lunch. We haven't hit a formula yet that works for the picky boy! :o) We are trying. This one had carrot, cabbage, 2 apples, 2 bananas, honey, rice milk and strawberry Keifer. I thought it was really good and it was a peachy color. The girls drank it but D could only get half a cup down. It's a start and I know he wouldn't touch cabbage or carrot with a ten foot pole otherwise! I think that next time I will use half a carrot. Diane, the woman who sold me the Vita-Mix cautioned that a little bit goes a long way. And I figured this would be true because you could really overload on too much fruit or certain nutrients and get sick too. Charlotte also cautioned me about Beta-Carotene. I had to laugh at this, because when I worked in peds it was one of the most common calls I had from first time moms..."my baby's nose is turning orange, what's wrong?" "Did you just begin feeding solids?" "Yes." "Have you introduced carrots?" "Why yes! Baby loves carrots!" There you go! LOL Charlotte mentioned beta-carotene poisoning and I meant to ask her more about that, but forgot...hey Charlotte, if you read this, will you comment? I am also very cautious about eating carrots because Vitamin A in high doses is one of the triggers for Pseudotumor Cerebrei, a horrible disease I experienced and never want to go through again. But carrots do give it a pretty color, so all things in moderation.

Okay, if you read this far, do you have any recipe suggestions for the Vita-Mix? Please let me know.

Monday, November 26, 2007


For quite some time I have been debating whether or not to purchase a Vita-Mix. I have gone to several demonstrations, but I think I have gone to ones where the demonstrator was new and couldn't answer most of my questions. Sunday, I went to Costco in a neighboring town. I don't normally go there and I rarely ever shop on Sundays but because of the post Thanksgiving shopping, I had avoided stores. Eventually food runs out and you go to the store! Well, I honestly think that I was meant to be there. I should also back up and say that the night before, I couldn't get to sleep and I was praying about the idea of going gluten free and whether or not this was necessary for me or if I was going against my own advice and taking bigger than baby steps! I asked God to make it clear to me.

So, I go to Costco and I walk towards the produce section and there is a Vita-Mix demonstration. I decided to stay and listen even though I doubted there would be any new information. Wow, this gal was really knowledgeable and without me even asking, in the course of her demonstration she answered all the unanswered questions that I had. I could tell that she really knew what she was talking about and not just regurgitating company information. It turns out that she is a sponsored athlete (runner) and a personal trainer, including strength training for Navy Seals (she is in San Diego).

After her demonstration, she switched off with her partner and spoke with me. We talked about it for awhile and she said that as soon as I could give her half down, she would mail one to me, postage free and take payments, because the cost is going up a good chunk on January 1st. She also talked to me about what I was doing for my health and I explained the steps I have taken. Without missing a beat, she said, "Well, I think your next step should be to eliminate wheat and possibly all gluten." You could have knocked me over with a feather. Now, I am not saying that she is the voice of God, but I do believe that God uses people, books, the web and all types of different resources to teach us. I am continuing to pray about it but I think that is the answer I was asking for.

So, I go home and talk to Tim about it and he agreed, it would be a good deal and we should do it now to save the money. It was such a generous offer too. So, I emailed her and confirmed the information and told her I would send the payment on Friday when we got paid. She wrote back and said she had a "good feel" about me and she wanted me to come to Costco today for their last showing and pick it up. Now, my mouth really fell open! Shocking! So, the kids and I went back out to Costco. She just took my contact information and I walked out with a Vita-Mix 5000 and the dry blade container too.

As a token of my appreciation for her more than generous gesture, I took some of my photo greeting cards to her. This really blessed me. She told me how her father was injured a year ago tomorrow in a mountain biking accident in Mexico. His neck was broken and he is still in a hospital on a ventilator in San Diego, trying to recover. She is going to frame the card, seen above in low resolution and frame it for her Dad to look at in his hospital room since he loves to camp and be in the outdoors. Maybe everyone who reads this could stop and pray for this man's healing!

So, that was another long entry, but it was hard to describe succinctly and I'm more than just a little excited, having just drunk my first, banana, frozen strawberries and frozen blueberries that I had already in the freezer. It was soooo good.

I appreciate the input that people gave me on the Vita-Mix, both the pro and the con. It helped in my decision making. I have about 3 feet of usable counter in my kitchen, on which I already have a Kitchen Aid mixer. The Vita-Mix will do the work of a couple different machines, so in that sense it is a good choice. It goes both slower than and faster than a blender, which allows it to do some food processing and grain grinding, mixing bread and dough and juicing. I like that you can use all of a fruit or vegetable as opposed to a juicer which leaves pulp. My husband told me that he would much rather drink some vegetables than eat them and it is a good way to get some veggies in for the kids. As a matter of fact, the kids loved the sorbet that was made with carrots and my son, the pickiest of all my eaters, said it tasted better than ice cream!

So, we shall see what happens. This is part of a new step to try and eat more fresh foods. Tonight though, I will be practicing on hubby making the delicious tortilla soup which I had at the demo. It's a good way to use up some more of those turkey leftover! :o)

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Review #3

As I promised, I am back to share my thoughts and the advice I've received on how to implement the ideas from this book in practical every day ways.

The main thing that I have read, heard from several of you and my gut tells me is true, is to take "baby steps".

On the right you will see a list of the steps my family has taken. This has been a process of about two years and we are moving forward still. I would love to get to the point where we could grow almost all of our fruits and vegetables ourselves. We hope to move back to Washington State and find a place to live where we can garden organically. We will be renting at first, so that may take awhile. Not all landlords want their backyard cultivated! lol In the meantime I am beginning to learn about what it takes to garden organically. In the meantime, some Costco's carry organic produce and I also frequent our food co-op, Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's. (links at right)

Now according to Kingsolver's book, these are probably not the best options because in general they are not local produce and have been shipped long distances. I do live at the north end of the valley in California where much of the produce is grown, so sometimes it is locally grown, but still usually it has been shipped somewhere else and then transported back to the store. So in terms of thinking globally and ecologically, this wastes a lot of oil. A better alternative would be the local farmer's market. You might be surprised where you find one. Our HMO, Kaiser Permanente, has one every Friday at their hospital to promote health for employees and patients. Again, on the right, I have a section of links for finding local foods and farmer's markets. There are actually some groups that you can join up with where you can get a certain amount of produce each time with differing kinds of fruits and vegetables in season.

A third issues in the book, is eating seasonally. This makes good sense, but I feel like I have been "conditioned" and in some ways have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of not eating a salad and tomatoes in the winter. After all, eating salad is a good thing, right? When we eat foods out of season, we are eating foods transported long distances from foreign lands or they are grown by some alternative means which produces relatively bland fruits or vegetables. In this day and age, especially if you have never gardened or lived in farming community, sometimes it is difficult to tell when the seasons are. In Review #2 I did cover that briefly.

So, I see 3 Issues for healthy eating:

1. Eat Locally
2. Eat Organic
3. Eat in Season

Is it realistic to tackle all three at once? For me it is not possible. I am starting first with eating organically. On the side bar at the right, I listed the "dirty dozen", a list of 12 foods, which if you eat those organically will eliminate about 90% of your pesticide ingestion. That's what we have started with and we are working from there. Without exception we have found the organic foods to taste better. They are picked when ready instead of gassing them when they are green. A lot of organic food in the stores tends to come in season only, except for tomatoes and greens.

When it's possible I do purchase locally grown produce. There are usually signs at Whole Foods saying where they are grown, especially for local produce. I purchase locally gathered raw honey. But, I have not found a local dairy source.

Now, I am trying to be aware of what things are in season and enjoying what I can, when it is available. One alternative is to purchase items in season and can, freeze or dry them. I already do a lot of freezing but I am hoping also to start canning this next year too. I have put that off since living in northern California where the temps could be 105* or more during canning season! While, I would prefer to eat everything fresh and make it now, realistically there are times when you have to grab something quick. I would like to have things I have made instead of purchased packages laden with chemicals!

One resource I recently found that has helped me is The Organic Cook's Bible by Jeff Cox. This is especially helpful if you are a newbie to eating veggies and fresh food. It covers just about everything and discusses what constitutes good and bad for each food covered, when it is in season and there are usually one or more recipes for each food, along with a discussion of traditional preparation methods. It's a big book and if you are fairly knowledgeable about this in the first place, may be unnecessary for you. But, it is helpful for people like me who are learning!

My friends Charlotte and Deborah also gave great don't have to go out and by specialty cookbooks. Most things can be adapted from your standard Betty Crocker's, Better Homes and Gardens etc. My favorite basic cookbook is The America's Test Kitchen Cookbook. I like it better than my others because it is well illustrated with photographs and explains *why* you do things certain ways as well as how to do it. For a questioner like me, this is helpful. They also evaluate cooking implements. If you have ever seen the show on PBS or Cook's Illustrated Magazine, you will know what I mean. If you are a bibliophile, like me, I will be reviewing other cookbooks in future posts as I have several ordered from my local library.

In summary, I believe it would be difficult for the average family to jump right into an experiment like Barbara Kingsolver's. However, I think the ideas are wonderful and can be implemented in small steps. I think a good indicator is that if you are feeling extremely overwhelmed, you might be doing too much at once. I find that if I am overwhelmed by something, I am more likely to quit or fail. Take baby steps. Your baby steps may be different than mine because we each have a unique set of circumstances. The ideas in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle are not only healthy for our own bodies, but teach good stewardship of what God has given us on this earth. They are an ideal to work towards. Big steps make big changes, but small steps contribute positively and are a good start!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Review #2

Welcome back to the second part of my review Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Interesting vegetable information:

* yellow/orange/red vegetables contain carotenoids which protect against cancer.

* green/yellow plants contain phytosterols which block cholesterol absorption and inhibit tumor growth.

* blue/purple fruits contain phenols which are age defying anti-oxidants.

Some of that is not new information to me but when I correlated it with the recent information I found about the difference in levels of nutrients in organic vs conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, I can't help but think that it is really important to eat organic. Sure you can pop vitamins, but wouldn't a steady course of natural, alive nutrients be better?

According to the book, thousands of phytochemicals have not been studied or named yet. They have so many varied roles which are fine tuned fuel for our bodies. God is awesome isn't He? He created things perfectly. We messed that up in so many ways. A head of broccoli contains more than 1000 phytochemicals.

The follow is helpful in knowing what is in season when:

1. Leaves - spinach, kale, lettuce and chard (April/May)

2. Heads of leaves/flower heads - cabbage, romaine, broccoli, cauliflower (May/June)

3. tender young fruit set - snow peas, baby squash, cucumber (June)

4. green beans, green peppers, sm tomatoes (July)

5. mature, colorfully ripened fruit - beefsteak tomatoes, eggplants, red and yellow peppers (late July/August)

6. large hard shelled fruit with developed seeds inside - cantaloupes, honeydew, watermelon, pumpkins, winter squash (August- September)

7. root crops

This fits under the WHAT? category: We export 1.1 million tons of potatoes each year. We import 1.4 million tons of potatoes each year.

Transporting 1 calorie of perishable fresh fruit from California to New York takes 87 calories worth of fuel.

I don't want to go off the deep end and be reactionary, but the statistics are a bit alarming and I am surprised that I never really gave a lot of thought to my food getting to my table before. As Christians I think we have some responsibility to be good stewards of what we have. And I think that applies both to what goes into the body God gave us and to the resources like oil that we are using from this earth.

In recent years, I think what has been alarming to me is meat. First, we have noticed that regular hamburger puchased from the store has very little flavor, no matter what the fat content. We were really surprised to find a big difference in our grass fed beef! We have had the same experience with our chicken.

Having worked in pediatrics during the 1990s when there was the big ecoli break out after eating Jack in the Box hamburgers I have been very cautious with meats in general, raw meats in particular. One of the patients at our clinic died after eating at the Jack in the Box down the road from my house. It is a horrible way to die. And he wasn't the only one. My step Mom loves to eat raw hamburger, she has done it all her life, though now that she is in a nursing home, I doubt that she has been allowed to continue. A lot of people think it is ridiculous, stating "I've eaten rare meat all my life." But people don't realize what a difference there is in what is in our grocery store now compared to even twenty years ago.

Kingsolver touched on that in her book. Animals who are raised for the market are generally raised at CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). Animals are packed in tightly standing in their own excrement and some never see the light of day or breathe fresh air. Okay, I am not a "tree hugger" and I'm not vegetarian, but it makes me sick to think of what happens to these animals. Besides the poor treatment of the animals and crowding, there is increased pollution from the excrement. CAFO animals create 16x the fecal content of people each year, waste that needs to be dealt with. Whereas, pasture fed animals distribute their waste over the land, adding nutrients back into the soil, building it back up. The third adverse effect is that because of the crowding, the animals are stressed, weak and sickly and so they are fed with antibiotics. There was a time when no farmer worth his salt would have butchered sick animals for food. Today about 75% of antibiotics used in the United States are used for CAFO animals. That is a huge amount. That leaves 25% to be distributed between domestic animals, small farms and people. Still with this high usage, testing shows that 70% of supermarket chicken has campylobacter or salmonella. The high use of antibiotics is just producing antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

And she didn't even cover the usage of hormones in meat production animals! This is what initially started our natural meat purchasing because we have two young daughters and a son that we are concerned about. Children are entering puberty sooner and sooner. In my parents' generation it would not be unusual for a girl to begin menstruating as late as 14-16 years of age. In my children's generation it is not entirely unusual to begin at 7 or 8! Isn't there something wrong with that?

I know that most of you, if you have even read this far, might be tuning out about now. It used to be that information like this was shared by people who lived in school busses with many other people! lol But, I think now that we have been sleeping on the job and a great number of things have been happening which directly effect our food, our health, our children's futures. I am still absorbing some of this information. I do live in the real world. I do know how difficult some of these changes are to impliment and how unpractical they seem. But they are important. There isn't a single one of us, when given the chance would say, "Here Johnny, it's time for your cancer inducing chemicals, come to the kitchen!"

So, in part three, I want to discuss ways that we can implement this knowledge into our daily life.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Review

As I wrote in a couple of my Wellness Wednesday posts on my Stitches of Grace blog, I have been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver and her husband Steven L. Hopp and daughter Camille Kingsolver. As the cover flap describes it, it is part memoir and part journalistic investigation. Interspersed are recipes and seasonal menus that the reader might find helpful in their own efforts. If you would like to read more from their perspective, I recommend visiting their website Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which contains the recipes from the book along with other resources in local eating and sustainable food. Some of the resources from the book I have provided in my links sections at the left. This is still a work in progress, so if you find anything inappropriate or not working correctly, please let me know.

First, I must say that the information really is NOT new in her book. Much of what she wrote, my Grandmother shared with me in the 1970s. There is up to date information on genetically modified food and seeds as well as how commodity crops have damaged our food supply, our health and even potentially the economies of poorer nations that buy our excess. If you are already aware of the food and seed situation, organic gardening and sustainable living, this book will probably be redundant. Personally, I think I would have enjoyed it more if she had shared more memoir than food culture evangelism. However, I can understand her passion about this topic after working hard at it for a year and certainly lending her "celebrity" status as an author to this cause couldn't hurt. Her ideas are quite liberal and she has a Masters Degree in evolutionary biology, but that is only mentioned briefly in reference mainly to animal and plant health selection. It really does not interfere with the whole concept of the book.

With that introduction, or warning, I would like to proceed with some gleanings from the book.

* This generation of American children is the first generation to have a shorter life span than their parents.

* The Government promotes increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, but continues to subsidize commodity crops and not fruit and vegetable farmers. In fact, the Farm Bill, really "kills" the small farmers.

* After WWII, there was an excess of ammonium nitrate from explosives. This was made into fertilizers after discovering how it made the crops grow.

* Because of this, commodity crops increased after WWII. A commodity farmer, generally growing corn and soybean, needs large acreage to run at full force in order to make their efforts profitable because they make a miniscule amount per acre, compared to small farmers.

* Commodity farming produced excess. This excess had to be put to use somehow, since the government was paying for it. (I do not think this was an evil plan as some do. I think it was the consequences off poor planning and foresight as well as incomplete knowledge of how altering Creation would effect us.) A secondary industry developed, producing items such as High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soy oil used in "everything" and feeding corn to cattle to fatten them (this is unnatural for them and they would not do this on their own). It fattens cows and it is fattening us too!

* $10 Billion is spent on advertising foods to kids every year!

* Food travels an average of 1500 miles to reach us. This uses a lot of petroleum fuel.

* Vegetables lose flavor and nutrition because of transport.

* If every US citizen ate one meal (any meal) each week composed only of locally and organically grown meats and produce, it would reduce our country's oil consumption by 1.1 barrels a week! I found this astonishing!

* The main barrier between ourselves and local food culture is attitude, not price.

* While we are not the only country to each processed foods and foods from all over the world, primarily other countries eat what is local to them. The French eat French food, the Italians eat Italian etc.

* When we eat food only when it is in season, we eat it at its best taste and nutritional value.

* Most of us no longer know when certain items are in season because most thing are available in the supermarket year round. But if compared a food in its season to one grown out of season in a hot house, you will likely taste a huge difference. Just think how great your home grown tomatoes taste!

* Fruits and Vegetables are now bred to be indestructibe in transport, not to have the best taste. Heirloom varieties of produce are ones that Grandma and Grandpa grew in their garden and that neighbors used to share seeds with neighbors. (Soon I will have some heirloom links up as I want to explore this further!)

* Humans have historically eaten some 80,000 plant species but now 75% of all human food comes from 8 species and this is quickly narrowing down to three genetically modified species: Corn, Soy and Canola.

* Plants are now viewed as patentable properties, not God given gifts.

* 6 companies - Monsanto, Syngenta, Du Pon, Mitsui, Avanti and Dow, now control 98% of the world's (not just US) seed supply. (Is anyone else concerned about many of these being HUGE chemical companies?!)

* Plants are genetically modified to resist Roundup so that they can spray the crop and it will survive but the weeds will die. (Have you read the warnings on a bottle of Roundup lately? Did you know that you are eating it with your food? I didn't!)

* Monsanto owns the patent on this genetically modified seed. Surprise! It also owns the patent on Roundup.

* The Government does not require genetically modified food to be labeled as such, so unless you are purchasing food that is from a known source or marketed as being non-modified, you are eating genetically modified foods every day.

* Traditional farmers raised many crops of both animals and plants because crop failure was inevitable. Modern farming places all its eggs in one basket, thus there is an increased need to control the outcome, preventing tragedies like the Irish Potato Famine.

This is the end of part one. I will continue in part two. I am sorry to break this up, however, it is important to spend some time off the computer each day! lol In addition to giving further insights from the book, I would like to discuss practical ways of applying this information to our own lives without going overboard.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wellness Wednesday #4 and Welcome

Welcome everyone who came here from my Wellness Wednesday #4 post at my other blog! I am just beginning to enter resources and information in the links. Feel free to browse and comment.

I have to say that since beginning this journey now, I have the most hope I have ever had that I will succeed! It brings me joy and encouragement as you travel along with me!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In The Beginning...

The genesis of my health problems was my family's brokenness and the death of my brother. My Grandma Johnson dealt with her grief and my pain by saying, "Here, have a donut!" "Would you like some candy dear?" Yes, I am responsible for my own choices, but what 6-7 yo would not go for a donut or candy when offered? Not too many would refuse.

Shortly after this period I began my first diet. I was either 7 or 8 years old.

These two events began a long struggle, one which I hope to terminate! The first battle is with using food to comfort. The second is with dieting. Every diet I have been on has contributed to the enormous size I am today! Diets do not work! Sure, you can take off weight with them, but unless you change the entire way you eat and live, the weight will come right back on. And as most of us who have been on this roller coaster ride know, when the weight comes back on, it brings friends.

Throughout my adolescence, not only was I plagued by the need to diet, but also by an unrealistic view of my actual body size and shape. At the time I felt as if my body was a ghastly 300#. Today I weighed 323#. I look at the pictures of me at 120, 150, 175, 200, 250... and I wish that I weighed that now! Not only did I perceive my body incorrectly, but eventually I came to a point where dieting would trigger bouts of anorexic symptoms. To this day, I can start out with good intentions and end up eating 500 calories a day in order to make it "work". It becomes a competition. I starve. I binge. I hate myself. It's a viscious cycle.

Somewhere along the way, I decided to set aside the Cinderella thinking (or the grass is greener, it will be better when... etc) and focus on the problem. I am a child of the King of all the Universe. Why should food conquer me? Why should an inanimate object gain so much attention in my life that it distracts me from truly important things, that it limits my ministry possibilities, that it takes me away from fun with my children, that it shortens my life? Not that I ever wanted to die early, but being a late in life Mama changed my perspective a little. My children inspire me to do better and live healthier and longer. However, I will not diet again. Diets destroy me. Instead I am seeking healthy habits to implement and learning as I go. A slow and steady weight loss is better than gaining each year as I have in the past!

When I was 11 years old, I asked Jesus to be my savior. (If you would like to know more, please ask or click on the Ready? button above.) I truly believe "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) So, my first step on the journey was to submit to Christ and ask for His help. It took me several years to learn how NOT to eat for comfort. Food is an integral part of our culture's celebrations and is often used as a reward. Food comforts not only in times of depression, stress and sorrow, but also in times of success and happiness. This is not easy to undo. After some time I have learned to go pray, drink water, find something I enjoy doing etc. instead of eating. I am glad to say that the times I seek comfort to fill my emotions have decreased and occurences are rare. Still, it is a continual struggle and I need to be on guard.

After learning not to comfort myself with food, the next step was to control portions. My husband, though not obese, also struggled with this. We both load up on carbs that taste good... and if we are honest, "feel" good. His greatest weakness is ice cream; his second is cheese. My greatest weakness is fried potatoes and eggs (yolks only), no kidding! I would rather have that than candy, but good pastry/pie comes in a close second. We are gradually helping each other rethink what goes in our mouths. And, I have to admit that sometimes I am too exhausted to make a whole meal and put it all together, so we end up eating 3 or 4 portions of the main dish instead of one portion, plus veggies, plus salad etc.

Our children have really made us think a lot about what goes into our food. The fourth step was to eliminate high fructose corn syrup. Step five eliminated MSG. And step six was to start eliminating animal products which used hormones and antibiotics. Step seven introduced organic foods. Currently I am considering an 8th step, eliminating wheat and possibly also gluten altogether. I have not decided yet.

My steps:

1. Submit to Christ who strengthens me.
2. Eliminate eating for comfort reasons.
3. Portion control.
4. Eliminate High Fructose Corn Syrup.
5. Eliminate MSG
(Steps 4 & 5 included eliminating processed foods)
6. Eliminate animal products which use hormones and antibiotics (including yogurt, milk etc)
7. Eat organic fruits and veggies and local as much as possible.
8. Reduce/eliminate gluten/wheat.

Every Wednesday I post a "Wellness Wednesday" post on my Stitches of Grace blog (link at left). I will continue to do this and may double post, placing that information over here as well. I will check in with my weight. Scary, yes. I can no longer diet. I will no longer diet. But, I must reduce my weight. The blogs provide some accountability for me.

This blog will contain more than just my weekly post at Stitches of Grace. I learn by reading and then "regurgitating" what I learn through notes and sharing. So, this will be my format to share and hopefully I will learn from the rest of you as well. Okay, so far the rest of you is probably 2 people. But that's okay, God knows who should be here. If you would like to join me on this health journey, let me know and I will post a link to your blog in my "Joining Me On The Journey" section on the left hand side.

If you made it this far. Thanks!

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Journey

My journey to wholeness includes, spiritual, physical and mental health. For years I have been on a journey to heal emotionally and spiritually some of the things I have experienced in life. My loving Savior, Jesus Christ, is healing me, making me Whole in Him. As a part of that journey I am learning to develop a healthier lifestyle, which includes exercise, health and nutrition. I began journaling this on Wellness Wednesday on my regular blog (see link at left for Stitches of Grace). However, I am finding that there is a lot more health information I would like to share as I read and learn. I am enjoying reading hints and tips from my readers as well. But I realize not everyone wants to read about organic veggies on a knitting blog, so I will use this blog to journal my journey.

Welcome. Please join me. All sincere comments are welcome!