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For a Quart of Ale is a Dish For a King

For those of you who’ve read my earlier post on gluten (and for those who haven’t, but who like good beers) check this out:

ImageDogfish makes some pretty amazing beers (my favorite is their Sah’Tea, brewed with chai spices and juniper berries).  This one is a sorghum-based beer brewed with strawberries and buckwheat honey.  It’s not too sweet, and perfect for a summer afternoon.  Plus, it’s gluten-free!

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Kashi Kills

My roommate and I were just talking about how terrible Kashi food is, and then lo and behold, TakePart.com posted an article on the topic today (http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/04/26/kashis-gmo-controversy-rages).  And I discovered that Kashi is even more disgusting than I thought.

Despite its claims to be the go-to health food, Kashi’s foods are in no way good for you.  They claim to be “all natural” (a label that, unlike “organic,” actually has no legal definition, which means it means nada) yet they use high levels of GMO grains, and some of their products are 100% GMOed.  What’s worse, they use hexane-extracted soy protein.  Never heard of hexane?  That’s because food companies don’t want you to know you’re eating it.  Here’s the definition given by Cornucopia.org:

“Hexane is a byproduct of gasoline refining. It is a neurotoxin and a hazardous air pollutant. Soybean processors use it as a solvent—a cheap and efficient way of extracting oil from soybeans, a necessary step to making most conventional soy oil and protein ingredients. Whole soybeans are literally bathed in hexane to separate the soybeans’ oil from protein.”

I love eating neurotoxins for breakfast.

In an attempt to give n some credence to their “all natural” image, Kashi does have 7 products verified non-GMO (but not organic).  They are: 7 Whole Grain Flakes, 7 Whole Grain Pilaf, 7 Whole Grain Puffs, Autumn Wheat, Cinnamon Harvest, Island Vanilla and Strawberry Fields.  So if you simply can’t live without Kashi, stick to their non-brain damaging foods.

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How to Beat Those Rainy Day Blues

Since it’s been raining nonstop for almost 2 days here, the farm where I work is pretty muddy, which means no work today.  I’ve therefore been stuck inside while the wind and the rain get to play outside, leaving me with a case of the blues.  Normally I’d remedy that with a bag of chips or a chocolate bar, but I try to keep the junk food limited to the weekends.  Instead, it’s smoothie time.

There are 2 superfoods I turn to when I need a quick energy boost: the blue-green algae spirulina and chia seeds.  Sounds fun, right?  Combine them with a little yogurt and some fresh fruit, dump it into a blender, and you’ll have a glass chock full of so many nutrients that your body will practically sing with energy.  Both spirulina and chia seeds help regulate digestion, so they’re also good for an upset stomach.  You can also add either to just plain water, iced tea, or juice – if you can handle the taste of grass, that is.  Chia seeds have no taste, so I usually put them in my waterbottle & chug them that way.  But, like all algae, spirulina tastes like the bottom of a fish tank.  I’ll add it to iced tea or juice in a pinch, but even just a tablespoon or two will overpower any drink.  Which is why adding it to smoothies is my favorite option.  There are spirulina pills for those who don’t like the taste.Image

Still not convinced?  Let’s talk about the health benefits of these two miracle foods.  I use spirulina mainly for its protein content, which is one of the highest of all algae (it’s almost 70% protein – wow!); it contains pre-digested proteins (amino acids) which are more readily absorbed by our bodies.  The brand that I use (NOW Foods Spirulina Powder) has 4 grams of protein per tablespoon.  If you use 2 tablespoons in your smoothie, you get the same amount of protein as most protein bars – as well as less calories and so many more nutrients!  It provides a huge amount of nucleic acids, the building blocks of DNA.  Spirulina also contains most of the B vitamins, including B6, B12, and folic acid, beta-carotene, magnesium, and antioxidants.  These antioxidants, along with its high levels of chlorophyll, make it a great blood cleanser.  It’s a good source of the omega-6 fatty acid GLA, which supports brain and reproductive health as well as helps maintain healthy skin.  Like all algae, spirulina also provides those ultra-important omega-3s – in fact, it’s actually the source of the omega-3s we get from fish, since algae is their main source of food.  To top it all off, spirulina has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anticarcinogenic properties.  It even helps with allergies by blocking histamines. (Discover the Superfood Power of Spirulina)

ImageCompared to spirulina, chia seeds might seem a little boring.  They lack the broad spectrum of nutrients algaes boast, but they do have some fabulous properties of their own.  Those super-smart, Armageddon-prophesying Mayans knew all about chia seeds – “chia” is Mayan for “strength” – and chia seeds became a staple of many South American diets.  It gives an amazing energy and endurance boost, and its outer layer, which absorbs water & becomes gooey, is ultra-hydrating, so these mini-eggs are great for athletes (or farm workers!).  Because they absorb water and swell up, they keep you feeling full for hours, which makes them popular for weight loss; they also slow sugar absorption, another weight loss aid that can also benefit diabetics.  And like spirulina, they’re bursting with omega-3s.  The best part is that chia seeds are easily digested, unlike many other seeds, so all those nutrients get put to work right away.  (Chia Seeds & Chia Seen Health Benefits – This website also has some good chia seed recipes if you want to try cooking with them.)

So next time you need a quick energy boost or a remedy for tummy suffering from too much junk food, turn to one of these superfoods.  I always keep both in the house; both are pretty inexpensive, which makes them even more attractive. 

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Earth Day Words

Happy Earth Day!!  In celebration of Mother Earth, I’d like to share with you some groovy words from Mr. Walt Whitman.  I’m not a huge poetry fan, but many of his poems show a deep respect for nature, and that, above all things, I can appreciate.  So plant a tree, turn off your car, or simply sit back and enjoy these words while you give thanks to all our mother has given us.

A Child Said, What is the Grass?

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother’s laps,
And here you are the mother’s laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and
children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
luckier.

Walt Whitman

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Remember, Remeber That Gas Industry Member Who Spilled Its Oil in the Sea. I Know of No Season in Which Anyone With Reason Should Ever Buy From BP.

This week is the 2 year anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest oil spill in history.  I hope that sometime this week, you’ll take a moment and remember the thousands of lives – human and animal – adversely affected by this tragedy.  A tragedy those touched by its black talons are still trying to recover from today, 2 years later.  So next time you stop to fill up, don’t support this irresponsible company.

CNN: 3 Lessons Linger From BP Oil Spill

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Recipe Book: Honey Glazed Radishes & Turnips

The best part about working on a farm is the free veggies.  My fridge is always stocked with green things, and that not only makes me happy, but it (and a hungry boyfriend) forces me to experiment in the kitchen.  I’ve found some pretty good recipes so far, and I’m gonna share some of the highlights.

Honey Glazed Radishes and Turnips
Ingredients:
– 2 tablespoons butter
– 1.5 lbs radishes, cut into quarters
– 1.5 lbs turnips, cut into quarters
– 1/3 cup water
– 1/4 cup vegetable (or chicken) broth
– 1-3 tablespoons honey (depends on how sweet you want it)
– 2 tablespoons finely sliced mint leaves (chocolate mint works fabulously)
– 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives (optional)
– salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
– In 12-inch skillet, melt margarine or butter on medium-high.  Add radishes and turnips; stir until well coated.  Stir in water, broth, honey, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook 15 minutes.
– Uncover and cook 7 to 10 minutes longer or until vegetables are glazed and most of liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in mint and chives. Transfer to serving platter and garnish with mint leaves and a dollop of honey.  Yum!!

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If You Love Your Pet, Don’t Feed Them Roadkill

Have you ever wondered what is actually in those tasty looking pellets you feed your dogs and cats?  I’ve never given much thought to pet food, mainly because I’ve only had fish for friends for the past few years.  But we just got a puppy and I’ve been doing some research on organic dog food – surprisingly, my non-organic boyfriend is totally into feeding our little guy good food.  The people who gave him to us gave us what was left of the Purina Puppy Chow they’d bought, and we’ve been feeding him that while we decide which organic brand to go with.

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Banner, our boxer/mastiff/hulk pup

When we first decided to get a puppy, I signed up for a newsletter on Dr. Mercola’s website called Healthy Pets with Dr. Karen Becker.  Well, a few days ago I read her article about what actually goes into pet food and how the “rendering” process works.  Needless to say, this handsome hulk pup will not be eating the rest of that Puppy Chow.

This article – and the fact that I’ve been feeding my little guy such awful food – disgusted me so much that I don’t even want to write about it.  I’m just going to share the highlights with you and leave you to make your own decision.  If you care about the food you put in your own body, I hope you would give the same care to your pet’s food as well.

Here’s the low-down on the rendering process:

The rendering process involves combining “raw product” (defined shortly) in huge containers and grinding the mixture down to chips or shreds.

The mixture is then cooked at 220º – 270º F for up to an hour, which separates the meat from the bone.  The grease, also called tallow, rises to the top, is skimmed off the mixture, and becomes the mystery ‘animal fat’ frequently found on pet food ingredient labels.  The remaining product is put in a press which squeezes out all the moisture and pulverizes the material into a powder. Shaker screens are used to separate excess hair and large bone chips from the powder.  The result is meat and bone meal added to pet food formulas…

 

In case you thought the rendered ingredients in your dog’s or cat’s food came only from (presumably regulated) slaughterhouses or animal processing plants, now you know better. Renderers also drive around in specially designed trucks picking up dead farm and ranch animals, as well as dead pets from animal shelters. They also collect fat, grease and other human food waste from food outlets…

 

Among the dead livestock and poultry that renderers collect are a large number of animals that died from disease or “accidents” – never even making it to the slaughterhouse…”  (Decoding Pet Food Doublespeak)

Yep, it’s time to take a trip to PetSmart.  They have a surprisingly good selection of organic pet food, though the one we went to only had canned and dry food.  According to Dr. Becker, the best kind of pet food is a raw food diet, either frozen or dehydrated.  Canned is second on her list, and dry is last because there is no moisture content (The 3 Best Pet Foods You Can Buy).  I’m not sure where to find raw pet food, so until then, I think we’re going to stick to either canned or dry and just feed him lots of wholesome table scraps.

These are some of the organic dog food brands I’ve heard of or researched: Halo, Wellness, Castor & Pollux Organix, Natura Karma, Blue Buffalo, EVO, Instinct.  (Check out this site for dog food ratings by ingredients: DogFoodAnalysis.com.)  From what I’ve gathered poking around the interwebs, Blue Buffalo seems to be the most highly recommended.  They even have a high protein line called Blue Wilderness.  Sounds perfect for our hulk-in-training.