My Diet Needs to Go On a Diet

Heidi Klum - Sports Illustrated

Heidi Klum – Sports Illustrated

While sleepy-eyed March is one of my favorite times of year, with the earth waking up from its winter snooze, it’s also one of the most stressful.  Spring means that summer’s on its way, and with summer comes (dun dun dun…) the dreaded bathing suit. This spring is going to be extra frantic for me because not only do I have a beach wedding to attend in April and a Baltimore wedding in which I’m a bridesmaid in May, but I have my own wedding at the end of May.  Eeek!!  So many dresses to fit into!

Since most of us put on a few pounds in the winter (after the first dozen Christmas cookies, there’s just no going back) spring is the season for dieting.  I’m not going to be prancing around wearing only paint like Heidi here, I’d just like to have the option to prance nude should the opportunity arise.  But there are so many diets out there, how is a girl to tell which one works for her?  So I decided to dig into some of the most popular diets and get the skinny on them.

This isn’t what I would consider a diet, more like a lifestyle choice, though some people do use vegetarianism/veganism as part of a health plan.  I’ve been a vegetarian for twelve years now, and while I didn’t choose this for nutritional reasons, it was definitely the push I needed to start down the path to good health.  Very few people realize how complex this lifestyle can be when they begin it, however, so I wanted to give some basic guidelines.

There are several different levels of vegetarianism, depending on what animal products you include in your diet.  Pescatarians include fish, and ovo-lacto vegetarians include eggs and dairy.  Vegans consume no animal products (that includes honey!) and use no animal byproducts, like leather, wool, and fur.  The depth to which you take vegetarian/veganism is totally up to you because, as I said, it gets a little complex.  Many foods have hidden animal products that some choose to avoid, such as gelatin (made from livestock bones & found in anything that gels, like pudding, Jello, gummy bears, etc.) and rennet (made from livestock intestines and used in cheeses).  Fun vegetarian fact: white sugar is white because it’s processed with bone char, so white sugar is off limits for anyone strictly avoiding animal products.  And think about how many products contain white sugar…  Bye bye candy aisle, see ya next lifetime!

While I’ll admit that I’ve never felt healthier since becoming a vegetarian, there are a lot of serious health risks associated with this lifestyle.  When I worked at a health food store, I saw my fair share of unhealthy, skeletal-looking vegans, and so I would never recommend that diet to anyone unless it’s serving a specific health purpose.  Removing meat removes a huge chunk of your protein, good fat, and nutrient intake, and removing all animal products pretty much ensures that unless you’re taking supplements, you’re depriving your body of everything it needs to thrive.  Our bodies were created to eat meat; everything from out teeth to our gut to our brain is built to run on both meat and plants, and I’m a firm believer that mother earth knew what she was doing when she created the world.  I therefore supplement my diet with B vitamins, protein powder, fish oil capsules, and superfoods like spirulina.  Yes, it can get pretty expensive buying supplements on top of food, but vegetarianism for me it a spiritual rather than nutritional choice, and this is how I’ve found my balance.

Veg links:
101 Cookbooks – This isn’t a completely vegetarian/vegan site, but there are some great recipes, including a vegan peanut butter cookie recipe that is banging!
The Vegetarian Myth – I’m sure you’re all sick of having this book thrown in your face, but it really is an important resource for anyone considering choosing a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.  Lierre Keith examines the political, environmental, and nutritional reasons why people go veg, and then explains why those reasons are unfounded.

caveman-cookingThe Paleo Diet
Pretty much the opposite of the veg diet, the paleo diet is, well, paleo.  You eat what your Paleolithic ancestors ate, what your body was meant to eat.  The paleo diet limits you to meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungus, roots, and nuts.  That means no grain, dairy, potatoes, or processed foods.  Produce should be organic and meat must be grass-fed to get closest to how cavemen really ate, though I’m sure not everyone follows this rule.  From what I know of holistic health, this diet seems to be the best overall.  Grains and dairy come with their own health risks, and we all know by now that processed foods offer very little nutrition.  Say goodbye to chocolates though, unless you make your own!

Paleo links:
The Paleo Diet – A great place to get started, though you do have to subscribe to get all the good info.
PaleOMG – This site has some excellent paleo-approved recipes.  I made the blueberry chocolate chip cookies last night and they’re pretty good for being gluten-free.

raw-food-intro-400x400Raw Food Diet
The next step after the paleo diet would be the raw food diet, in which you eat only uncooked, unprocessed foods.  This is perhaps the only diet I could never do, because I simply cannot understand how one lives without a warm dinner on a cold night.  I do incorporate elements of this diet into my life, though, such as juicing.  Heat destroys the nutrients in produce, so the more you cook your kale, the less good it will do you.  Juicing fruits and veggies is a great way to start your day – and a great way to incorporate things like spirulina or flax seeds that taste like butt by themselves.  Dehydrating foods is another way around cooking them.  I haven’t invested in a dehydrator yet, so I can’t say yay or nay to its cooking skills.  With a raw diet, it’s your choice whether or not to include animal products, though I can’t imagine a raw steak is very tasty…

Raw Food links:The Best of Raw Food – A good website to get you started, it gives you a lot of pointers and even a shopping list!
Raw Food Life – Excellent source of information and articles on the raw food diet.
Sunfood Superfoods – A good (if slightly overpriced) shopping site for the raw food lifestyle.

blood_typesThe Blood Type Diet
If you’ve never heard of Dr. D’Adamo’s book Eat Right For Your Type, I highly suggest you check it out.  While I’m not a fan of diets that place everyone into a category based on only one or two criteria, this diet can be highly beneficial when used in conjunction with other healthy eating habits.  D’Adamo’s premise is that each blood type stemmed from different regions where different foods were available and therefore adapted to its surroundings.  His book has lists of beneficial, neutral, and detrimental foods for each blood type, as well as lifestyle recommendations.  Type O is the hunter and should eat a high protein, meat-based diet for maximum health.  Type A is the farmer and should eat a primarily vegetarian diet.  Type B is the nomad who can eat most anything, and they thrive on dairy products.  Type AB is a mix of A & B and should eat accordingly.  Blood plays a vital role in our bodies, so I can’t completely dismiss this diet, but I would argue that because it does not take into account things like gender, age, and overall health, it can’t accurately generate a diet plan.

Blood Type Diet links:
D’Adamo’s website – See what he has to say about his diet.

Notice that I did not include things like Weight Watchers and Atkins in my list.  That’s because these are not real diets.  They’re money-making gimmicks that may help you lose weight in the short term, but don’t give any thought to nutrition or helping you build good lifestyle habits to prevent you from putting the weight back on.  The bottom line is that eating right, drinking plenty of water (half your weight in ounces per day is a good guideline), and exercising is the key to any good weight loss program.  Just find out what kind of foods your body likes and feed it!

My goal?  To fit into this FABULOUS Star Wars bathing suit this summer!!Untitled


Recipe Book: Deodorant!

Yes, you read that correctly.  Today, we’re going to learn how to make deodorant.  If you read my last post on ways to prevent cancer, you already know how important it is to avoid conventional personal care products, especially deodorant.  Homemade deodorant is fabulously simple, cost effective, and, best of all, free of heavy metals!

unknownFirst, let’s take a look at why deodorants are so bad.  Surprisingly, there is a difference between products marketed for women and for men.  Most deodorants for women are also antiperspirants, while it’s relatively easy to find a deodorant for men that’s just deodorant.  What’s the difference, you ask?  They’re pretty self explanatory: deodorants prevent your sweat from smelling and antiperspirants prevent you from sweating.  Sweat is actually a mixture of fat, proteins, and toxins secreted by your body, but it’s the sweat-munching bacteria hanging out in your crevices that cause you to stink.  Deodorants use many different ingredients to kill these bacteria; antiperspirants use heavy metals like aluminum or zirconium to plug the pores in your pits, preventing the sweat from escaping.  While deodorants can contain harmful chemicals like artificial fragrances and parabens that seep in through the skin, antiperspirants are even more harmful.  Not only do they contain heavy metals and other harmful chemicals, but they block the secretion of sweat, which is a necessary part of daily detoxing.  No bueno, mis amigos.

The solution: homemade deodorant!  While there are definitely some great options out there (I’ve heard people swear by Thai crystals) making your own is the only way to know exactly what’s in it, and what works for you.  I’ve used several different brands – Tom’s of Maine, Jason, Nature’s Gate – but none seemed to really work for me.  homepage_banner_1_imgThen I discovered Trulys Natural Deodorant.  Made by a local Delaware woman with only 4 ingredients, it was so simple and yet so fabulous.  Coconut oil, baking soda, powdered sugar, and cornstarch.  And it works.  While using it, however, I noticed that if I left it on too long, say overnight, I’d have some slight irritation in the morning.  Nowhere near as bad as when I used conventional products, but enough that I knew something in there was bothering me.  I was worried at first that there was aluminum in the baking soda she used, but after doing some research, I found that while baking powder is still suspect, most baking soda is additive-free, including Arm & Hammer.  The powdered sugar then?  Or perhaps the corn starch?  Sugar and corn both are both common allergens, so perhaps one of them was giving me the itches.  I therefore decided to make my own, but what to use in place of the offending ingredients?  Thanks to one of our customers at the farm store, I found a great deodorant recipe that did the trick.

-1/3 cup coconut oil (I used refined since it’s cheaper, but virgin has such a lovely coconut smell…)
-1/3 cup arrowroot powder
-3 tbsp baking soda (I started with 2, but it was too oily and not absorbent enough for me)
-10-15 drops essential oil (optional – for fragrance)

Heat the coconut oil so it’s liquid, mix, let cool, apply, and breathe deeply all day!  With the antibacterial properties of coconut, the absorbancy of arrowroot and baking soda, and the lovely smells of essential oils, this will definitely keep you smelling fresh all day.  Trust me, I work on a farm.  If it keeps my pits smelling good, you have nothing to worry about!  Unless you have a have a real Dirty Job, that is…


Have You Had Your Daily Dose of Cancer Today?

My Facebook is full of cancer.  Cancer talk, that is.  If you follow any natural living websites or Facebook pages, I’m sure you’ve noticed that cancer has been the topic of choice lately.  So many new studies have been published recently linking this ingredient or that chemical to cancer that it’s hard to keep up with what you should and should not buy. To make matters worse, I recently stumbled across a study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information on environmental and genetic risk factors for cancer.  Their conclusion?

Only 5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle. The lifestyle factors include cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity. The evidence indicates that of all cancer-related deaths, almost 25–30% are due to tobacco, as many as 30–35% are linked to diet, about 15–20% are due to infections, and the remaining percentage are due to other factors like radiation, stress, physical activity, environmental pollutants etc.

You can blame your mother for giving you small boobs, but not breast cancer.

The good news, folks, is that cancer should not be as scary as doctors make it out to be.  If we can’t blame our genetics for this disease, that only leaves ourselves – and that’s something we have control over.  We can eat healthy, live healthy, and think healthy.  We can let mother earth nourish and protect us instead of filling our bodies with toxic chemicals and synthetic foods.  I found a wonderfully simple 10-step guide to preventing cancer on the Alternative Health Solutions Facebook page.  Obviously, the road to perfect health is never straight and easy, nor can two people take the same route.  But this list is a great basis for any health plan, whether or not you’re worried about cancer.

1.  Eat organic!  Yes, I remember last year’s study, the Dr. Oz article, and all the hype surrounding California’s Prop 37.  But there really is no way to deny it; if you’re eating conventional fruits and veggies, you’re eating chemicals meant to make bugs’ stomachs explode.  Literally.  Sounds tasty, no?  Or perhaps you’d like to eat corn with fish genes?  (Are frankenfoods still considered vegetarian?  Because when I swore off meat products, I’m pretty sure that included their DNA…)  And don’t forget to JUICE your organic produce!  The best source of vitamins and minerals will always be wholesome, healthy foods.  And since cooking veggies (even with things other than a microwave) destroys some of their nutrient content, juicing raw vegetables and herbs is definitely the way to go.
2.  Avoid conventional animal products.  This is so important, especially for anyone who has had or is especially at risk for reproductive cancers.  Livestock raised the conventional way are given regular doses of antibiotics, steroids, and growth hormones, and they are fed GMO grains instead of their natural diets.  Those things aren’t any better for the animals than they are for us, so meat raised in those conditions is nutritionally inferior – and full of pharmaceutical leftovers.  Synthetic hormones throw our hormones out of balance, leaving our bodies open to reproductive an organ cancers.  Like all brothers, Big Pharma and Big Ag are constantly in competition to see who can pump the most chemicals into our bodies.
3.  Do not use microwaves.  Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to stand in front of the microwave while your Spaghetti-Os were cooking?  Have you ever heard the urban legend of the serial killer whose signature was putting the family chihuahua in the microwave?  There’s a reason microwaves have a bad rap, and that’s because the emit… microwaves.  Shocking, I know.  But seriously, microwaves should have their own list, because that’s how bad they are.  They emit radiation, and while it’s not the same kind that turned Dr. Banner into the Hulk, it still wreaks havoc on the body all the way down to the DNA.  Because they use radiation to heat your food rather than actual heat, they destroy almost all the nutrients in your food – up to 90%.  And, let’s face it, they simply do not know how to cook.  Leftover pizza tastes more like cardboard after being microwaved.
4.  Filter your tap and shower water.  This is probably the most important rule of all.  Water is essential to all life, and ingesting water loaded with pollutants, chlorine, fluoride, and synthetic minerals is the fastest way to poor health.  But don’t be fooled by all those cheap tap filters like Brita and Pur.  They remove barely half of the contaminants in ordinary tap water.  The best filtration system is a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system, but they are expensive to install in a home.  Many local health food or grocery stores have RO machines for customers to refill their water jugs.  But if you aren’t excited about hauling gallons of water home each week, invest in some quality home filtration systems.  And don’t think that the shower is safe simply because you don’t drink from it.  Anything that touches our skin is absorbed into our bodies, so each minute you spend in the shower is another gulp of toxic chemicals.  ZeroWater  and New Wave Enviro have great products for both the kitchen and bathroom (and you can find most of their products on Amazon, which is always a plus!).
5.  Use only natural skin care products.  Name brand lotions, soaps, and hair care products are loaded with chemicals: parabens, sulfates, and dozens of other carcinogens.  My favorite brand of natural body care products is Shikai (their Reflect line of color-enhancing shampoos is awesome!!) and I mentioned a few others in my last post.  Deodorant falls into this category, and seeing as how most deodorants for women are also antiperspirants and therefore contain aluminum, I’d say start here!  Natural deodorants are not only free of heavy metals, but cause a LOT less skin irritation, which I always had a problem with in that area.  They’re also super easy to make yourself, and I’ll tell you how in the next post!
6.  Use fluoride free toothpaste. 
I’ve been wanting to write a post on fluoride for a while, but there is so much information on it that it’s hard to figure out where to start.  So let me just say here that it is bad, especially if you love your thyroid.  If you can’t wait for me to get myself together and write about it, check out the short documentary The Fluoride Deception.  Scary stuff, man.  I stick to brands like Tom’s of Maine or Spry, and I’ve started oil pulling with coconut oil.  Oil pulling helps remove unwanted buildup from your mouth, upper respiratory tract, and sinuses, and coconut oil is antibacterial, so put the two together and you get an amazing grime-fighting duo.
7.  Avoid using pharmaceuticals and synthetic supplements as much as possible. 
I want to take this moment to share with you my favorite post from my favorite website, like, ever, The Holy Kale.  Her series on supplements called Dirty Little Supplements is the best resource for anyone who has ever questioned which brand to buy.  Her message is simple: not all supplements are created equal, and if you’re going to invest money in them, you might as well make it worth it.
8.  Limit your use of plastics. 
 Plastic contains harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates that interfere with your body’s natural hormone balance.  These chemicals are released when plastics are heated, so never ever cook with plastics or put plastics in the microwave.  But these sneaky devils can also seep out into food and liquids even in the fridge, so it’s best to cut plastics out of the kitchen completely.  Use wooden spoons for cooking, ceramic plates and bowls, and glass containers to hold your leftovers.  I wash and save jars – pasta sauce, peanut butter, salsa, anything with a wide mouth – and use those as tupperware.  I also use a mason jar as a water bottle because water is simply too important to compromise on.  The documentary Bag It is a great one on plastics, especially if you or anyone you know has kids; the part on plastics for kids will make you sick.
9.  Avoid artificial sweeteners, food colorings, and processed sugars and grains. 
If you’re reading this blog, I’m going to assume you have a basic knowledge of holistic health and already know that these things are bad, bad, bad.
10.  Use only nontoxic household products.
  Some of the best ways are the old ways, and baking soda and vinegar are still king and queen of the household clean team.  There are definitely green products out there, but it’s so easy to make your own that it’s almost a shame to pay for them.  Water and vinegar are best for streak-free windows, baking soda is awesome for cleaning the bathroom, and together they can double team a clogged sink like Drain-O never could.  I use Dr. Bronner’s castile soaps as laundry detergent (as well as body wash for the family, including the dog).  Remember, anything you can smell is entering your body via your lungs, so keep it clean!

Not such a hard task list, right?  Unfortunately, while these things are easy to change, there are some factors that are out of our control, like air quality, product availability, restaurant foods, budget, and other people (because you can’t stop your landlord from spraying Round Up on your lawn or tell your roommate to stop filling your house with the smell of Windex).  Fortunately, there are dozens of proven methods to heal cancer naturally, some of which Big Pharma has even succeeded in banning to keep the chemo patients rolling in.  (Case in point: apricot kernels were outlawed by the FDA in the 1970s because they are the best source of B17, the miracle cancer-fighting vitamin.  Seriously.  Apricot seeds are illegal because they cure cancer.)  The website that provided the above list is also a great resource for natural cancer-fighting strategies.  Tamara, the author of Alternative Health Solutions, healed her own breast cancer without Big Pharma and has since compiled a wealth of information on the topic.  I highly suggest you check it out if you or anyone you know is dealing with this disease.

Now get going, you’ve got some homework to do!


Dead People Juice Does Not Make You Pretty

KC on Letterman - Jezebel.com

KC on Letterman – Jezebel.com

While I very rarely follow the celebrity gossip columns, one story made it into the E Magazine newsletter this month.  Some of you more in touch with Hollywood may have heard of Kristin Chenoweth’s eyelash accident back in March 2012.  She had a severe allergic reaction to the formaldehyde in the glue used to attach fake eyelashes and ended up with eye infections, which then drained into her throat and led to a throat infection.  Eewwww, right?  But why do we care what sludge actresses use on their faces?

Well, I care because KC is talented, tiny, and adorable.  And because she’s the good witch… duh.  Actually, I just wanted to use this as an opportunity to talk about the new skin care line I discovered.  It’s an anti-aging line called Bija Body, founded by Melissa Picoli, and while it is just a tad on the expensive side, it’s one of the best skin care lines I’ve seen so far.  Her Principles page has a list of, well, principles that guide her company, including: no GMOs, no “useless, toxic ingredients,” ethical sourcing, and only the best processing methods to preserve potency.  Check out her website and read about her products, it’s definitely worth it!  And formaldehyde-free!

While we’re on the topic of dead people juice (as KC calls it), I also want to share my favorite nail polish brand, seeing as how nail polish is chock full of toxic juices.



Suncoat has a whole line of makeup products, and their water-based nail polish rocks my socks – and it comes in lots of fun colors.  And while I don’t usually wear makeup, when I do I use mineral-based options like Ecco Bella, who has great foundations, or Larenim, who has more colors of eye shadow than I do eyelashes.  Scale of Dragon, Flirts & Giggles, Witches Brew…  WARNING: This brand may give your inner tween the power to take over.



Almost a year after her tragic incident, green magazines are still talking about KC’s eyelashes, using her as an example of why you should avoid toxic additives in your skin care products.  But strangely, she’s not.  You would think that after such an intense reaction to dead people juice in your makeup, one would start buying clean, natural products.  But KC hasn’t (to my knowledge) said a word in favor of clean cosmetics.  And she damn sure wasn’t wearing Ecco Bella at the Oscars last weekend.  She may be the good witch, but I think I choose the green witch instead.


Time to Take a Time Out – For Cute Farm Pictures!

I can’t believe February is almost over… But that means one month closer to spring!  We’ve already started bustling in the Greenbranch greenhouse seeding and loving baby vegetables, and so I thought I’d take some time before the season really starts to put up my pictures from last season on the farm.  I lost a lot when my old phone got run over by the tractor (giant tires = flat phone) but here are the ones that survived.  Enjoy!

Breakfast time - One of our new calves -  Little Ginger and his bud

Breakfast time – One of our new calves – Little Ginger and his bud

Mama Hen says hello - A beginner's egg! - Snuggling in the nest box

Mama Hen says hello – A beginner’s egg! – Snuggling in the nest box

Carrot love - Truck full of fall gourds - Sweet potato love

Carrot love – Truck full of fall gourds – Sweet potato love

A bouquet of heirloom tomatoes - Romanesco cauliflower - Lunchtime for a praying mantis

A bouquet of heirloom tomatoes – Romanesco cauliflower – Lunchtime for a praying mantis

Snowy days at Greenbranch Farm - Farm cat staying warm & lazy in the barn

Snowy days at Greenbranch Farm – Farm cat staying warm & lazy in the barn





News Update: Evil Deeds and Cruelty Free

The world has been a busy place lately, and there have been so many stories worthy of boos and ballyhoos that I had to do a news update.  So grab a cup of coffee, get comfy in your favorite chair, and prepare to be updated.

I’ll start with the BAD NEWS first:

Coca Cola has launched a new campaign against obesity.  Their tactic?  Pushing their diet and low sugar products.  Which happen to be filled with empty calories and artificial sweeteners, two of the biggest culprits in the obesity epidemic.  Oh yeah, and they’re a fun kind of neurotoxin called excitotoxins, which literally “excite” your brain cells until they explode.  Fun, right?  NOT.  But I’ll tell you what is fun: the video that prompted Coke’s new anti-fat movement.  It’s called “The Real Bears,” and it is my video of the month.  Take 3.5 minutes of your time and watch it – trust me, it’s worth it!  And while you’re in a watching movies mood, check out the half hour documentary The Cost of a Coke about how Coke replied to workers’ attempts to form unions to get better wages and working conditions.  Hint: those workers are no longer around to tell their story, and I don’t mean around the factory.  Then go out to eat and skip the soda.

Obamacare, that miracle, money-saving Affordable Care Act Obama graciously bestowed upon his subjects – I mean constituents – has finally been given a price tag.  The IRS estimates the cheapest health care plan under Obamacare will cost the average family of 4 or 5 $20,000 a year.  And if they choose to opt out, the “penalty” (which the Supreme Court did indeed rule is actually a tax – an unconstitutional one at that) would be just over $2,000.  Affordable, my butt.

As if forcing a corrupt health care system on us isn’t bad enough, the government is also trying to destroy our sources of good food.  Hmm…  No sources of good, wholesome food leads to poor health, which leads to doctors visits, which lead to the need for insurance, which we are conveniently required by law to buy…  Sounds to me like there’s a master plan behind all this.  Why else would the government attack at gunpoint a private food buying club and confiscate all raw foods?  That’s what happened to the California-based Rawesome Foods in 2005.  Refrigerated goods like cheese and produce were confiscated in unrefrigerated crates and tested a week later for contamination.  Surprisingly, raw cheese that hadn’t been chilled for a week contained bacteria and was deemed unsafe.  And then, last month, the Feds turned the attack on Morningland Dairy, a Missouri dairy farm that produces raw cheese – cheese that was on the shelves at Rawesome Foods.  Local authorities confiscated and destroyed Morningland’s entire inventory – 50,000 pounds of
perfectly good raw cheese – without ever testing it.  Or tasting it, I’m sure, because no one who has had quality cheese could ever destroy that much of it.

Fracking has poisoned our tapwater.  It’s made us sick, made our pets sick.  It’s killed wildlife and livestock.  It’s polluted our air, our soil, our aquifers.  But now, it threatens our beer.  It’s time to take a stand.

Now, time for some GOOD NEWS:

The European Union has announced a ban on all cosmetics and personal care products that have been tested on animals, beginning March 11, 2013.  That’s right, Johnson & Johnson, you have a month to get your act together and stop torturing innocent beings so that pop singers can cover their acne.  But wince the US government won’t protect the health of its own citizens, it’s pretty unlikely that it would ever take measures to protect its animal population.  So check out PETA’s “Beauty without Bunnies” list of pro-cruelty and cruelty-free companies.

And in the most heartening story of the day, a Brazilian family has finally been reunited with Manuela, their pet tortoise that went missing in the 1980s.  Their shelled companion escaped during renovation and apparently has been holed up in a storage room happily munching on termites and other household bugs for 30 years.  Welcome back to civilization, Manuela.




You Can Now Feel Slightly Less Guilty About Putting It In You

gatoradeWhenever I see the Gatorade marketing slogan “Is it in you?” I have an overwhelming urge to scream, “NO!”  Energy and sports drinks are some of the most unhealthy things you can drink, but these companies trick health enthusiasts with claims of “all natural energy boosts” and “electrolytes.”  While there are indeed B vitamins and electrolytes in some of these drinks, they’re usually hidden beneath a long list of toxic additives.  But thanks to a petition posted on Change.org by fifteen-year-old Sarah Kavanagh, PepsiCola is removing one of its harmful ingredients, brominated vegetable oil.

Never heard of it?  It’s a flame retardant used as an emulsifier in sports and soft drinks to keep the water and flavoring oils from separating.  It’s banned in Japan and the EU due to its pesky penchant for causing such health problems as reproductive and organ cancers, autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems, fertility issues and birth defects, behavioral problems in children, and schizophrenia, to name a few.  But though PepsiCola is removing BVO from Gatorade, there are dozens of other soft drinks out there that are swimming with this stuff.  Be sure to read labels – or just avoid them altogether.  They’re nothing but empty calories and sugar anyway.

GatoradeAnd don’t think this makes Gatorade the perfect sports drink.  It’s still jam packed with sugars – two kinds, actually, sucrose and dextrose (another name for glucose) – as well as neurologically harmful artificial colors (made from petroleum, yumm!) and wood.

Wait, what?  Wood?

Yep.  The second to last ingredient in Gatorade (right before BVO) is Ester of Rosin.  Which is essentially processed pine sap, and it’s used as another emulsifier.  There’s not a lot of research out on it but I’ve read a few accounts of people who are allergic to evergreens having a reaction to this ingredient.  So… My advice?  Skip the Gatorade and grab some coconut water instead.  You’ll get all the electrolytes and none of the additives.  Or wood.