Monday, April 30, 2012

Hidden Food Dangers

10 Hidden Food Dangers

Food companies are quite savvy at disguising various additives and ingredients on the labels of their foods. I always say if you need a dictionary to look up an ingredient, then put it back. But some ingredients sound like they may be okay to consume, or perhaps you’re just not aware of what they actually are. Some of these were  mentioned 2 blogs ago.

So this Top 10: Hidden Food Dangers will shed some light about what goes on your plate, and in your body. Bear this information in mind the next time you’re at your local supermarket – and make some smart choices!

1. Sodium Nitrite – This sounds like just some added salt right? Wrong. How would you feel if you knew sodium nitrate’s been associated with causing cancer in lab animals, and is highly carcinogenic? It’s found in many meat products like ham, bacon, hot dogs, and others, and has also been linked to leukemia and brain tumors. Not so harmless anymore is it? I currently don't eat land animals, but if you do I'd advise getting organic grass fed whould cut of meat, rather than processed per-sliced sandwich meats you're used to seeing in the store quite conveniently.

2. MSG – Sure we all know Mono Sodium Glutamate is bad for you by now, but guess what? It also has other names like textured soy concentrate, maltodextrin, yeast extract, autolyzed vegetable protein, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. These contain MSG and as such may cause nerve damage. This is a tricky little tactic some companies use to avoid labeling their products with MSG. This is something to pay very close attention to, as I had recently purchased some no-sodium vegan veggie broth 9online assuming it had no sodium) that had yeast extract in it!

3. High Fructose Corn Syrup- I’m sure you know this one! I did a blog on it yesterday. HFCS is found in everything from soda to breakfast cereals. The problem is that since it’s made from genetically modified corn and enzymes, it’s loaded with “unbound” glucose and fructose molecules and has been associated with obesity, tissue and heart disease. It's heated to a temperature that changes the structure of the corn...and this only leads to bad thing.

4. Soybean Oil- Seems harmless upon reading it, but nearly half (and rising) of soybean crops are genetically modified, also known as GMO. When you play with Mother Nature, bad things are bound to happen. There’s been mounting evidence that GMO products have negative impacts on human health and because they’re unnatural, also pose a threat to the environment. If you do want to include soy in your diet, it's best to find non-GMO soy that is prepared in a fermented way, such as nato, miso etc. Un-fermented soy is not well digested (in spike of it's popularity) and it messes with the estrogen hormone in your body as well.

5. Enriched Flour- This actually sounds like a good ingredient doesn’t it? But “enriched” isn’t a good thing! In fact it’s actually quite bad as this product is highly processed and devoid of most of its nutrition since it’s been “bleached” and had most of the wheat germ and bran removed. Additionally, the type of iron that’s added in the enrichment process is heavily metallic and isn’t readily absorbed by the human body. Pretzels, cereals and pasta’s may contain this ugly imposter.


6. Potassium Bromate- Potassium is a key nutrient that’s needed for health, but don’t let this fool you into thinking it’s a healthy ingredient. It’s used to increase volume in breads, rolls, and other white flour products. But it’s also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may be a potential health risk for humans as well. Stick to getting potassium from fruits and veggies, and try avoid potassium Bromate as an ingredient.
7. Food Colorings- You’ve seen Blue 1 and 2, Red 3, Green 3, Yellow 6 etc. I think many people are under the impression that they’re harmless – after all how dangerous can a little food coloring be? They’re found in beverages, candies, dried fruit, fish, and even pet food amongst other things. But they can actually be very dangerous, as they’ve been linked to adrenal, thyroid and bladder tumors and cancer. Their purpose is Solely for appearance sake! Not worth the damage whatsoever that it will cause to your health. Unfortunately coloring can be found in too many products. Another reason why I prefer to get my color from all the amazing natural colorful organic fruits and veggies. 

8. Hydrogenated Oils- These oils are found in many manufactured foods, crackers, cookies and even your favorite Girl Scout variety! They’re used to extend shelf life and hold fat in a product. They contribute to heart disease, nutritional deficiencies, and the degradation of cellular health.

9. Aspartate- This belongs to the “excitotoxin” category and is widely used as an artificial sweetener in soft drinks, ice creams, cereals, and many other products that are listed as “diet”, but also low in sugar. It’s chemical brother Aspartame is known to cause numerous health issues such as hallucinations, neuropsychiatric disorders, panic attacks, mood swings, dizziness, and even blackouts in some instances. You may be trying to watch calories, but using foods with this ingredient may cause you some serious health issues. It surprised me when speaking to friends how unaware they were of the dangers of aspertame...we've known this for years but because of the Large amount of foods it's in nothing has been done to remove products containing this wasn't until I pointed it out and it clicked to them "no wonder labels need to tell you in a separate quote that this product has aspertame."

10. Gluten – I’m listing this a hidden food danger because I truly believe most people aren’t aware that they have a negative reaction to it. I don't know if I have an intolerance, but I gave it up when I started my raw food diet for a few months, and never went back to gluten foods....exploring all the amazing alternative.  Gluten is a starchy substance found in wheat, barley and rye and contains an insoluble protein that many people are allergic to. Some people may have Celiac disease, which causes a whole host of health issues and pain, but it’s also estimated that millions of Americans are gluten sensitive, meaning they too suffer from various health problems when they consume it. Gluten’s known to exasperate existing conditions such as diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, osteoporosis, dermatitis and psoriasis. There are so many alternatives to foods with gluten.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

High Fructos Corn Syrup

Spike in US autism rates linked to high-fructose corn syrup consumption

A new study published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics reveals that both the Standard American Diet (SAD) and various toxic environmental factors play a definitive and synergistic role in the development of autism. According to the study, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), mercury in vaccines, and agricultural pesticides are among the many cofactors that contribute to the onset of autism spectrum disorders, all of which deserve more attention from health authorities than they are currently getting.

Renee Dufault from the Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute (FIHRI) and her colleagues examined how various foods and environmental factors affect the neurodevelopment of children, and particularly how these factors inhibit the body's ability to eliminate disease-causing toxins and heavy metals from the system. Known as "macroepigenetics," this comprehensive approach to disease research offers unique insight into how the human body responds to multiple inputs from diet, environment, and genetics.

What the team discovered is that HFCS, for instance, which is a highly-processed chemical sweetener used in many processed foods and beverages, depletes the body of the natural mineral zinc. And zinc, of course, is responsible for cleansing the body of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, and cadmium, as well as aluminum and other toxins that are known to disrupt proper brain development.

"To better address the explosion of autism, it's critical we consider how unhealthy diets interfere with the body's ability to eliminate toxic chemicals, and ultimately our risk for developing long-term health problems like autism," said Dr. David Wallinga, co-author of the study and physician at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).

You can view the complete study at the following link:

HFCS laden with brain-destroying chemicals, mercury

Back in 2009, it was revealed that HFCS is actually a source of heavy metal poisoning as well. The heavy processing required to produce HFCS involves the use of caustic soda chemicals and mercury, two brain-destroying chemicals that end up in the final product fed to millions of American children (

Ketchup, sodas, juice drinks, breads, crackers, cookies, and many other processed food items are loaded with HFCS, and these items are a staple in many children's diets, including in the meals fed to them at school. So it is no wonder that children's bodies are being overwhelmed by mercury and other autism-related toxins, which is only worsened by the onslaught of neurologically damaging vaccines, some of which still contain mercury, most of them received throughout their early childhood developmental years.

Besides affecting zinc levels, HFCS in particular has also been shown to deplete the body of calcium and other important vitamins and minerals as well. Without these and other critical nutrients, the body is unable to effectively protect itself against the myriad of toxic exposures it faces every single day, which include pesticide residues found on conventional produce, for instance, or flame retardant chemicals found in bedding and clothing.

"Rather than being independent sources of risk, factors like nutrition and exposure to toxic chemicals are cumulative and synergistic in their potential to disrupt normal development," added Dr. Richard Deth, another co-author of the study and Professor of Pharmacology at Northwestern University near Chicago. "These epigenetic effects can also be transmitted across generations. As autism rates continue to climb it is imperative to incorporate this new epigenetic perspective into prevention, diagnosis and treatment strategies."

Recent research has also pinpointed the artificial sweetener aspartame and other methanol-producing foods and environmental factors as causes of autism ( And the ever-increasing childhood vaccination schedule is also directly linked to a significant uptick in autism rates over the years, even when vaccines that do not contain mercury are used (

Parents will want to proactively protect the health of their children by helping them to avoid HFCS and all products that contain it, and teaching them to eat and enjoy organic, pesticide-free produce and other whole foods. Feeding children "superfoods" rich in vitamins and minerals, and supplementing their diets with brain-boosting nutrient foods like omega-3 fatty acids, spirulina, and probiotics will also go a long way in protecting these young ones from the continuous onslaught of dietary and environmental toxins that are constantly at war with their brains.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


I've never prepared artichoke before, so I was very excited to prepare my first one:)

Easy Steam method that I will try next time. This time I simply steamed it stem up in plain water with lemon, garlic, basil and a little Himalayan salt.

How to Cook an Artichoke

1. If the artichokes have little thorns on the end of the leaves, take a kitchen scissors and cut of the thorned tips of all of the leaves. This step is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and pose no threat to the person eating the artichoke. Ironically I cut my finger during my artichoke prep...with the knife, go figure!

2. Slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke. It will oxidize quickly so rubbing lemon on the cut parts help it from getting brown.
3. Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.
4. Cut excess stem, leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. The stems tend to be more bitter than the rest of the artichoke, but some people like to eat them. Alternatively you can cut off the stems and peel the outside layers which is more fibrous and bitter and cook the stems along with the artichokes. I shave the stem until it's a light color, and ended up cutting more of the stem off that I planned, simple so it could fit in the pot with the lid on.
5. Rinse the artichokes in running cold always want to wash your veggies before consuming.
 I placed a slice of lemon, and minced garlic on top then set the artichoke on top of that to steam in all the flavor. You can see my poor cut finger:p
6. In a large pot, put a couple inches of water, a clove of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf (this adds wonderful flavor to the artichokes). Insert a steaming basket or place artichoke in the put standing on its stem area or other side as I did. Add the artichokes. Cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 25 to 45 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off. Took me 40 mins.

How to Eat an Artichoke

Artichokes may be eaten cold or hot. Typically they are served with a dip, either melted butter or mayonaise. However, since I don't eat butter or mayo, I'll be having mine seasoned just with the lemon. Another thing I will try in the future is using my mock-may as a dipping sauce (made from raw cashews).

1. Pull off outer petals, one at a time.
2. Pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal (part above my thumb in pic). Discard remaining petal.
Continue until all of the petals are removed.
3. With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the "choke") covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Eat it all up ^_^ I liked it just plain, but it's common to dip into a sauce or make into a sauce.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Diatomaceous Earth

 In my quest to find all organic solutions to any gardening problems that I may arrise, I came across Diatomaceous Earth. 

 Diatomaceous Earth is a natural, organic garden pest control and household insect killer. Diatomaceous Earth kills by physical action- not chemical. It is safe for pets and people. The tiny diatoms scratch off the insect's waxy coating, and dehydrate it. Kill insects in the house or yard. Kill spiders, roaches, silverfish, ants, fire ants, carpenter ants, bedbugs, lice, mites, earwigs, flies, fleas, box elder bugs, crabs(std), pubic and hair lice, scorpions, crickets and harmful insects. Diatomaceous Earth is used in the home, yard, animal housing, etc. Sprinkle a 2 inch wide border around the foundation of your house to stop insects from entering.

Diatomaceous Earth kills aphids, white flies, beetles, loopers, mites, snails, slugs, leaf hoppers, and harmful pests. Use Diatomaceous Earth inside your home, greenhouse or outdoors on fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains and grass. Apply Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth up to and including day of harvest.

I found this website ( )to be the best source, with a low cost per pound. Around $1 per pound (when you include shipping) if you get the 50 lb bag...or half that cost if you pick it Nebraska. The great things about this product is that Diatomaceous Earth is a mineral and will never expire---remember--it is already thousands of years old.

From what I have read, Diatomaceous Earth is the best stuff you can use on bed bugs, sugar ants, aphids, carpenter ants, flea beetles and chicken mites. I’ve also read about it being used on slugs and pin worms. It is often used for long term storage of legumes and grains.

Diatomaceous Earth is also used for human consumption, pet and animal use, bed bugs, organic pest control and other household uses.You can read plenty of ways this product is used on their website

For DRY APPLICATION of Diatomaceous Earth, use a duster and cover entire plant, apply to both top and bottom of leaf. For young plants, as little as two pounds per acre may be adequate. For larger plants, five lbs. per acre is probably sufficient. Diatomaceous Earth will need reapplication after a rain. Applies best when there is dew or after a light rain. It is a long lasting, effective powder. I can imagine that a 50lb bag would last a lifetime for a small gardener such as myself! So the multiple uses for the product makes it a great investment.

When controlling pests, especially around foods, it's best to use organic means, to assure safety.   Insects cannot build up resistance or immunity to Diatomaceous Earth as they do with chemicals. DE can be sprayed or whitewashed by mixing 1 cup DE with 1/2 Gallon of water. Stir frequently and spray/paint trees, yards, and fences. Diatomaceous Earth will not harm earthworms or beneficial soil microorganisms. Wear a dust mask when applying large amounts. Otherwise, just avoid direct inhalation as when using baby powder or any fine powder.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


To start my seedlings off to a good start, I tried several different kinds of greenhouses (being my first time in growing anything).  I found that the self watering ones with the grow pellets worked the best for me. 

 This self watering greenhouse came with x-large cells and 3 pellets that expanded into growing medium...out of all it was my favorite. 
 The growing pellets expanded into just enough medium to fill the cells.

 This greenhouse self waters for 10 days before you have to refill it with water. You first soak the mat in warm water, then pour the recommended amount of warm water over the pellets and watch them grow.  The cover with the plastic sheet it provides.

The next self watering greenhouse I purchased was one with more smaller cells.
 I planted my lettuces and bok choy in this one. They've been growing by the window with only sunlight...from the start (as they need light to germinate). This greenhouse came with a plastic dome...unlike the large cell one above that came with just a small plastic sheet cover to retain moisture. Both worked great.
 This is what it looked like after the pellets expanded & smoothed out. They're very easy to set up...just pour warm water over them...the instructions tell you how many cups depending on the size of green house you get. This one self waters for 10 days before you need to fill up the bottom with water. I used a disposable chopstick for my seed poker, and an old tweezers to pick up tiny seeds and place them.
I purchased this larger 72 cell greenhouse to plant my marigolds...I learned from the first few that it's a good idea to plant similar plants within one greenhouse due to the different germinating time (and needing to put them in light at that time), and differing temp requirements as well.

 The 72 cell greenhouse had 2 trays in it. I filled up one to show a before and after. Water placed in the left tray here...they swell up like towers...then you need to flatten them gently before planting the seeds.
 The first greenhouse I got was this 72 tray heated one. Unfortunately for me the heated mat that came with it was not functioning...and i realized this 4 days later. But Lowe's was good about replacing it when I went to return it.  I used a basic potting mix, that I wasn't too thrilled with. However I think the lack of success I had with these was the was either not enough or too much...they either didn't sprout, did and got a little too much mold for me to keep, or just took their time. So I'll never get a non-self watering one (that's my personal preference).  This pic taken before planting. I should have moistened the mix before planting.
It came with a plastic dome to keep in the moisture. 

The last greenhouse I got was one that formed its own pots and was also self-watering. I used this one to grow some herbs and my cucumber.  

 I purchased it because I purchased extra pellets like this that form their own pot...but didn't have a container for them.

I have to admit...I'm not a huge fan. I found the medium to be too compact once it finished expanding. My favorite greenhouse is still the 16 cell x-large self watering one.

One of the self container pellets that I bought separately before hand - before expanding

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seedling - Zucchini

My favorite Veggie to watch grow has been my Black Beauty Zucchini...I guess it's because they are my biggest seeds, and they don't look so similar to all the rest. I planted 2 in the heated greenhouse with the heating mat that wasn't self watering, and 2 in the greenhouse that was self watering (2 days later). It turned out the one I planted later in the self watering green house sprouted twice as fast and was peaking out by day 3!
Below are photos of my first germinated Zucchini. The others are now growing well too. 

 4/15/2012 - day 4 my Black Beauty Zucchini poked right out of the starter mix. I put it in the light in day 3 because it had germinated (just wasn't quite up right as you can see in yesterday's blog).
 4/16/2012 - day 5 it started to show it's beautiful cotyledons (seedling leaves).
 4/17/2012 - day 6 its speed in growth has been wonderful
  4/18/2012 - day 7 I decided it needed more space to grow so transferred it to a slightly  bigger pot
 4/20/2012 - day 9 it started to grow its true leaves!
 4/20/2012 - Sadly that same day my niece got curious and picked at it:(  It's not so pretty any more...but it will live!
4/21/2012 - day 10 it's still doing well and growing more each day:)  I try to give it natural light during the day y the window...and it sees to love it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Seedlings - Broccoli & Cabbage

I began my seed germination on 4/9/2012 and 4/11/2012. I tried several greenhouse kits, and found the self watering ones to be the best. Those germinated twice as spite of the other one having a heating mat. Below is an update of my seeds so far. I will share the greenhouses I'm using in an upcoming blog. 

My first sprouts! Exciting but disappointing...I noticed some had white fuzz on them...after a small panic I was calmed by a quick google search, and found out it's a little bit of mold from too much moisture. So as recommended by someone, I gently scraped off the white fuzz and aired it out (which I had to do anyways because it was time for light now that they sprouted). And today they are doing just great ^_^ It's a self watering greenhouse, so I just made sure more air got through under the very light plastic sheet it comes with to cover it.
  4/13/2012 - It took just 3 days for the Early Sprouting Purple Broccoli to sprout up! And being a new gardener I had no idea how many seeds to put in one cell, so I put 20 lol...most of them sprouted and I knew I had to give them more in their fragile youngness I transplanted the strongest 11 into a blue plastic cup.  They looked pretty sad
4/13/2012 - It took just 1 hour for the light to give them some life:) They started to look much better!
I used the cheapest efficient grow lights I could find...grow lights from Walmart. Around $11 each for a 75W fluorescent light great:) I now have 7 total, used in 2 grow areas.
4/13/2012 - The Chinese Michihli Cabbage also sprouted at the same time as the broccoli...looking just as sad when I transplanted them. Their length showed me they needed light asap. I didn't know they'd pop up so quickly!
4/13/2012 - But one hr of light also did them wonders:)
4/16/2012 4/16/2012 - Not too sure which is which in these 2 pictures...but this is day 6 for the little broccoli and cabbage that sprouted - Not too sure which is which in these 2 pictures, but this is day 6 for the little broccoli and cabbage that sprouted.
The Nero Di Toscana Cabbage also sprouted (as pictured on the left of the first photo). Others by this time also began to emerge like the tomatoes and zucchini (my favorite to watch grow!)
 4/15/2012 - As the cabbage and broccoli were growing I decided they needed their own space to really develop, so I separated them, putting just one in some cups, and a few in others...after all I only need a few of each to survive! Will hopefully find homes for the remaining. The middle row are my tomatoes except for the 2nd from the bottom which is Zucchini.
4/15/2012 - This was my first green house set up. I had purchased the wire shelving during a Christmas sale and had it available to use, as it worked perfectly to have the light sit on top. I then set it on a Big box (that houses my germinating seeds that need dark) and smaller boxes onto of that to raise my seedlings as close to the light as possible (since the bulbs are only 75WATT grow lights).
4/19/2012 - By day 9 the cabbage and broccoli began to develop their true leaves.