Friday, March 26, 2010

I can do without: 1. Refined Sugar

In explanation of our daily food lives, I've decided to start with some of the main things we have decided to stay away from. I'll list them here and give my explanations, information and alternatives one day at a time.
I can do without...
1. refined sugar
2. white flour
3. vegetable oils
4. preservatives
5. artificial flavors and colorings
6. grain-fed meat
7. pesticide treated fruits and vegetables

1. Refined Sugar (sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin): Let me start off by saying that of all of the things I have entertained the thought of letting go of over the past couple of years, this one was like the "yeah, it's not gonna happen" one. I like sweets. Always have. Who doesn't? I mean if I had a nickle for every Sweettart or homemade chocolate chip cookie I have eaten in my life...well...I'd be headed for a shopping spree at Target. But when I realized that not only did it not add anything good to me, it is actually hazardous to mine and my family's health, I changed my tune. And it probably made it easier that there are natural sweeteners readily available that I have learned to use in sweets and desserts that are seriously delicious. And since I have not been eating refined sugars, I hardly ever want sugar!

No one is surprised to hear that sugar is not good for you. I think this has past debate and moved over into the fact column. But the question remains just how bad for you is it? We are obviously not convinced of its power because we keep consuming it at the average rate of 53 teaspoons a day! Not only does sugar have no nutritional value whatsoever, it also has many adverse side effects. It robs our bodies of valuable assets such as minerals, enzymes, and vitamins, especially B-vitamins which work in us to promote healthy nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, muscle tone and cardiovascular function. Refined sugar also creates blood-sugar imbalance which effects mental function, physical energy, and emotional stability. Studies have also shown that sugar is effective in weakening the immune system and is a source of fuel for cancer and tumors. So not only does it not make us better, it makes us worse! Some researchers have said that there is no other food that contributes to as many health problems, while others have even classified it as a poison!

The good news! There are sweeteners occurring naturally that can be used in place of refined sugars. They are pure maple syrup, raw unfiltered honey, Rapadura, or molasses. There is also Stevia which is not good for baking, but good to use as a sweetener in coffee or cereals and such. You need proof? Well I have successfully made chocolate chip cookies, muffins, chocolate coffee cake, oatmeal peanut butter cookies, and ice cream all without the use of refined sugar.

Do not turn to artificial sweeteners (as it is pretty clear that nothing artificial is beneficial). They are linked to cancer, weight gain, increased cravings for sweets, diabetes, MS, and migraines among other serious ailments. So read the labels on all of your store bought food. I imagine you will find one or more of these artificial sweeteners. I say chunk it, but it's up to you! Just please don't feed it to my kids :)

I'll post recipes later-if you bug me I might do it sooner :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Food: An Amazing Gift from God

I mentioned in an earlier post that our family has been experiencing a lot of changes. One of the main changes is how we think about and consume food. At first thought it seems so strange the power that food has over humans. We battle with it, have love-hate relationships with it, it comforts us, it angers us, it makes us happy, it makes us sad. We try to act indifferent to it and then we keep coming back for more. Why can't we control it?? "IT'S JUST FOOD!" we cry. Really?? Just food?? Food: the very thing that sustains us day to day, that nourishes us, that we would die without. The need for food is one of very few things that every human on the planet has in common. So why the constant struggle?
I have a fair amount of nutrition knowledge. Since I was a teenager I have read about and studied nutrition and explored different schools of thought on nutrition and diet, but somehow, it just never all clicked. This would be evidenced by the constant fluctuation of my weight for a good 14 years. All of the sudden its like a light bulb came on and for the first time in my life I feel like I have a correct and healthy view of food.
First and foremost it is a perfect gift from God. In his creation he has provided for us all that we need and he created different foods for different purposes. They all add something to us nutritionally and in some cases even emotionally.
Never in history have a people had so many food options at their disposal every second of the day. At any time we can ingest a bag of artificially fruit-flavored gell filled things or maybe some genetically modified organisms masquarading as animal shaped, cheese flavored crackers. And what does that add to our bodies? Unfortunatly nothing is not the answer. The answer is a lot of bad if we are willing to be honest about it. And we know that the creators of these convenience foods didn't create them for our good, but rather for their bank accounts. The love of (and possibly need for) convenience has led us to abuse the very thing that keeps us alive, not to mention help add to our obesity problems.
When we think of food as a gift, as something that is meant to make us better, we hardly have a choice but to love it, respect it and most of all enjoy it!
I wish I had a before and after picture of our pantry. My friends who have seen it before and after actually laughed. Last year I was in stock up on all of the free-by-coupon stuff. My pantry was overflowing (and I mean overflowing) with food that frankly, I would have never wanted to buy in the first place, and did nothing for my family's health. Now it is sparse with only the things that we want and make us feel better. All of this and we are all feeling a thousand times better, have loads more energy, and my husband and I have been consistently (and it seems to us inexplicably) losing weight. Why is it inexplicable? Because we are eating a lot of butter, cream, whole milk, whole grains, bread, meat, fruits and vegetables. Nope I am not lying...we are enjoying the things that God has blessed us with and not trying to satisfy ourselves with things that man has decided that they can make better. I get asked for specifics of our diet and how we eat and I will definitely post that soon. Right now I will leave you with some of the resources that helped us move in this direction and have helped us along as we seek to nourish our bodies and our children's bodies.
Food, Inc. This documentary is definitely eye-opening and a potential life-changer. I've encountered those who are afraid to watch it, but I highly encourage it.
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon; This is a cookbook, but chock full of shocking information that goes against most of what we have been told about food. It's really the first piece of work I've read about nutrition that really makes sense to me in light of my view of God. And let me go on the record--she and I are not on the same page when it comes to God and spirituality.
The Weston A. Price Foundation; Check it out. It's got a lot of invaluable information
Passionate Homemaking; This is a blog that I began following over a year ago and where I was first encouraged to really consider the benefits of a more natural diet. But she really does a good job of breaking down the pertinent information. It is full of ideas and resources.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Have you seen anything so cute? Take a skip over to Amoretti to enter and win one of these oh so precious and original dresses.

Celestial Seasonings Wellness Kit Giveaway!

Celestial Seasonings Wellness Kit Giveaway! And while we are on natural remedies...hop on over to one of my daily web stops and enter to win this!

Sambucol...Anyone, Anyone?

So... funny enough, a while back I got a bunch of Sambucol (a black elderberry cold and flu relief tablet) for free from Walgreen's with a sale and coupons. My husband has used it several time and has been happy with the results, but I'm interested to know what other people think about it and just to get a little more information about it in general. I have read a lot of good things about the power of elderberry, but know little about it myself. When I was buying it, I asked the pharmacist if she knew anything about it and she told me that she "stays away from that kind of stuff"... She couldn't really explain what kind of stuff she was talking about, so I decided I would just move on to someone else. So if any of you out there use it and have some thoughts about it please leave a comment for me...I would really appreciate it!

A Different Direction

Since the beginning of the year life in this particular home has been changing drastically and rapidly...all in very positive ways. Somewhere around the new year it seemed that we were bombarded with loads of information that catapulted us into a journey of sorts to live a little differently. We've really been convicted about a myriad of things- most of all making it a priority to take care of our bodies and all that we have been given on this planet. This includes attempting to eat more natural and whole foods (throwing my whole couponing system and ridiculously low food budget for a loop) and trying to create less waste and live in such a way that is sustainable. These are all things that we have both always been conscious of and before the time of marriage, jobs, and children we practiced these things regularly. With the speed and force with which our lives have changed we somehow moved away from that. But now, when I look at my children, I am convinced that there are few greater gifts and life skills I could give them than to teach them how to take care of themselves, keep their bodies healthy, and take care of the resources they have been given rather than waste them. The information I have been trying to take in has been overwhelming at times, but with the help of my wonderful husband, together we have made some crucial changes that have made us all happier and healthier. I'm getting the hang of it and I KNOW that it will help me to have this spot to put my thoughts together and get some feedback and ideas. So be looking for some interesting and probably surprising topics to come...