Fun and Healty Halloween Snacks

Halloween Treats
Halloween Treats

Can you believe it is October already?  I saw a neon sign in the neighborhood recently that is counting down the days until Christmas! I am not really ready to think about Christmas right now because I enjoy the fall season.  The cooler weather and colored leaves make be feel at peace.

Of course, we have Halloween coming up on the last day of October and a friend of mine was talking about having a party for her teenagers.  I know when you think of Halloween and parties, what comes to mind most of the time as far as food is the candy that is laden with artificial dyes and ingredients.  However, there are some fun alternatives and I discovered a really good site where she pulled a lot of them from various sites onto one site.  They are quite creative and most of them I would never have thought of myself.  They are made with fruits, vegetables, cheese, pretzels and other nutritious foods that are fun to create and fun and healthy to eat.  I am not the most creative person and if you aren’t either but want to do something easy, fun and healthy for your kids, co-workers or just for yourself because you love Halloween, check out this link

Aggression in Small Children Linked to Soft Drink Consumption

Child drinking soda
Child drinking soda

A new study recently released by the Journal of Pediatrics has found that small children who drink soft drinks are more likely to be aggressive, withdrawn and have attention problems.  The study took 3,000 five year old children from 20 major cities.  Of these children, at least 43% of them had at least one serving of soda a day and 4% had four or more servings of soda per day.  What they found was that with each increase in soda consumption, all of the children showed a more pronounced display of these behaviors mentioned above. Even after taking into consideration all of the social and demographic factors, those who drank four or more soft drinks per day were more than twice as likely to destroy things belonging to others, participate in fights, and physically attack people.

I am hoping this research will go further into the reasons why young children had such a bad reaction.  Was it because of the unhealthy ingredients in the sodas or the healthy foods they were not eating?  Their little stomachs can only hold so much and sodas are filling.  Previous studies have shown that when two synthetic additives are consumed together, the damage is greater than when eaten alone.  Some of the ingredients found in sodas, depending on which one you are purchasing are:

  • high fructose corn syrup
  • aspartame
  • caffeine
  • FD&C dyes
  • artificial flavors
  • sodium benzoate
  • phosphoric acid

None of these ingredients sounds like anything any of us should put into our bodies but they are sure to be even more dangerous to the development of children.  If your child is drinking sodas, try to reduce it slowly or substitute it with real fruit juice if they refuse water.  Your child’s health and well being depends on it.

For more information on this study, click here


Red “Honey” in Utah

Red Candy for Bee Food?
Red Candy for Bee Food?

Last October I posted an article about bees that were producing blue and green honey in France.  It turned out they were feeding on the waste products of M&Ms.  Earlier this month, several commercial hives in Utah started seeing red honey.  It appears that one of the large beekeeping operations began “open-feeding” the bees.  They mixed up crushed rehydrated candy canes and other candy materials for the bees to eat.  Apparently, other bees from surrounding areas got into it and they have contaminated several other bee yards.

One of the bee keepers has had to remove the “breeder queens” for evaluation because he has observed a problem with brood production.  He has also collected genetic material from the drones and the dye was found to be in the genetic material.

Fortunately, none of the red honey is believed to have made it to market so we shouldn’t see any red honey on the shelves.  Technically, this isn’t really pure honey since honey is made from the nectar from plants.

If the red dye is in the genetic material of these bees, what about humans, especially children who eat these candy canes and other products with these harmful dyes in them?  Doesn’t sound to promising to me.

If you would like to read the article please click here





Who Decides Which Food Additives are Safe?

Safe Additives??
Safe Additives??

There are over 10,000 additives that are allowed to be used in foods in the U.S.  Of those, 43% are considered to be “Generally Recognized As Safe” or GRAS.  So how do they decide which ones are safe?

The answer.  The company manufacturing and selling the additive gets to decide which are safe.  This all came about in a law from 1958 when Congress decided the food additive manufacturers could determine what was safe to put into food.  At that time, this mostly covered ingredients such as oils, salt, rosemary, and vinegar.  Unfortunately, the number of chemicals created and added to our foods has grown tremendously, but this law from 1958 is still being used.

Some of the GRAS additives that are included as being safe include BHA, BHT, MSG, Sodium Benzoate, Calcium Propionate and Propane.

In 1997 the FDA told the food additive manufacturers that they could decide if the new chemical additives they developed were safe and that they should let the FDA know, but they didn’t have to.

In a recent study published on August 7 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researcher Thomas Neltner looked at how the food additive industry decides which products are GRAS.  They found that about 1,000 new additives were never submitted to the FDA so they analyzed 451 voluntary notifications that were submitted between 1997 and 2010.  The FDA makes a decision to call an additive GRAS by “a reasonable certainty in the minds of the competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under the intended conditions of use.”  So, you ask.  Who are those scientists?  In the 451 cases investigated, it was found that:

  • 22.4% of the safety assessments were made by an employee of the chemical manufacturer.
  • 13.3% were made by an employee of a consulting firm hired by the additive manufacturer.
  • 64.3% were made by an expert panel that was hired by either the additive company or by their paid consultant.

The investigators also found that many of the same people who were hired on these panels had also been paid consultants for those additive industries.

As Thomas Neltner said “At least when you put a new chemical on the market, you have to notify the EPA.  But there is no requirement that you notify the FDA when you make a new food additive.”

This is just so wrong.  We are eating so much more in the form of chemicals and additives that our bodies just weren’t meant to consume.  That is why is is so important to read the labels and try to do the best you can when choosing your food.  The more ingredients listed, the more likely it will have many chemical additives.

Click on this first link and go down almost to the bottom to see the video on how many ingredients are in just one sub sandwich.  You’ll be amazed.  Also, for more information on the study, click on the second link below…

The Truth about Food Additives | Rodale News

Who decides whether a food additive is safe? The food – Later On


Big Companies Dropping GMO Products in Other Countries But Not in the U.S.

Would This Be Franken Fruit?
Would This Be Franken Fruit?

Based on consumer fears in many countries, some large U.S. companies, including Kellogg, Pepsi, Kraft, Coke and Heinz, are now dropping their GMO foods from their European products. Rather than just drop them from all products in general, here in the U.S. we will still be eating GMOs if we chose to eat their products.  Over 60 countries ban GMOs from their food source, but here in the U.S. we continue to be served these harmful creations regularly.  If they can make healthier foods for other countries, why not us?

According to Larry Bohlen, a Safer-Foods Safer-Farms campaign director, 22 different European nations have been putting the heat on GMO producing companies like Monsanto, Dow and BASF.  He says, “If companies are feeling the heat from 22 European nations, wait until they start hearing from 50 American states.”  The question is, will the people of the U.S. start standing up and being heard?  These big corporations have been pouring billions of dollars into fighting the labeling of foods which contain GMOs.  If GMOs are not harmful, then why do they want to keep it a secret from the consumer?

PepsiCo recently agreed to settle out of court for $9 million over a class action lawsuit that claimed natural and non-GMO
on their bottles of Naked which was misleading since they are made with GMO ingredients, as well as synthetic and ‘unnatural’ items. Naked is anything but ‘natural’.  It is labeled as ‘100% juice’ smoothie but actually contains up to ll different chemicals.

America is facing a lot of health challenges and I believe that GMO products have a lot to do with it.  A new study shows that pigs that ate GMO crops developed severe inflammation of the stomach and intestines and had abnormal uterus growth.  The reason this is so important is because pigs have a similar digestive system as people.  Could it be that the digestive problems people are having are due to eating GMO products?

I would love to see GMOs outlawed in the U.S., but I doubt that will happen any time soon.  However, I think as consumers we should have the freedom to choose products based on labeling and products that contain GMOs should be labeled as such.

A good website to go to to see a list of companies and products that are non GMO is

Click on the link below for more information…

Kellogg, Pepsi, Kraft & Coke Drop GMOs in Europe – Natural Society


Grilled Pineapple

Grilled Pineapple
Grilled Pineapple

Are you looking for a healthy but nutritious dessert?  If you like pineapple, you will really enjoy this grilled pineapple recipe.

Cooking the pineapple over high heat caramelizes the pineapple’s natural sugars which brings out its natural sweetness and gives it a golden color.  Pineapple is high in Vitamin C and is also a great source of  manganese, a trace mineral that may help prevent osteoporosis and which is mostly found in whole grains, nuts and seeds.

When selecting pineapples at the grocery store, look for a pineapple that seems heavy for its size, with dark green leaves that come out easily with a sharp tug. Avoid pineapples with soft or dark spots and dry-looking leaves.

All you need is one pineapple.   Peel, core, and slice the pineapple.  Grill in the oven or outside until each slice has grill marks.  Flip, and grill the other side. You can grill the pineapples plain, or add cinnamon and red pepper for a sweet and spicy kick . I grilled these on the outdoor grill last night and they were super sweet and wonderful.  I had some left over and used them in my smoothy this morning.  It added a nice sweetness without using sugar.

There is no need to always think of dessert as something with added sugar when nature produces such wonderful natural sugars.  So, if you have the grill going this weekend, throw on some pineapple and serve up some natural sweetness.  Enjoy!


Eat Fiber to Lower Your Risk of Stroke

Bran Flakes and Berries
Bran Flakes and Berries

Did you know that stroke is one of the leading causes of death?  We hear a lot about cancer and heart attack but stroke seems to take a backseat to those.  Because there is a family history of stroke in my family, I was interested in the article recently in the American Heart Association journal, Stroke.  According to new research, one very easy way to help prevent a stroke is to eat a lot of fiber.  The research states that each 7 gram increase of fiber per day was associated with a 7% decrease in stroke risk.  You can almost get that amount of fiber in an apple or a cup of peas.  If you increase your fiber intake by 14 or 21 grams, you will double or triple the benefits as well.  The average American eats between 10 and 15 grams of fiber per day.  You should be eating 25 to 35 grams per day.  If that sounds like a lot of fiber to you, that may mean you aren’t getting enough.

You may simply need to add an apple a day or some almonds.  However, be careful of adding to much fiber all at once until your system gets used to it.  Add additional fiber slowly and drink plenty of water.

Some really good sources of fiber are apples, pears, almonds, sunflower seeds, raspberries, lentils, whole-grain pasta, quinoa, bran cereal, broccoli and corn.  Those are pretty easy foods to add to your diet and there are so many more.  The link below includes a list of  high fiber foods.  Surely you will be able to find a few that you can include in your daily diet to increase your fiber intake and prevent your risk of stroke.  Or, you may be surprised at how much fiber you already eat.

High Fiber Foods List for a High Fiber Diet – Healthy Living


Grill Your Vegetables, But Be Care of Grilling Meat

Grilled Meat Hazards
Grilled Meat Hazards

Grilling out is one of America’s favorite ways to prepare food as well as to gather together with friends to have what I call a cook-out and others call a BBQ, depending on where you are from.  Since I rarely eat meat, I like to grill vegetables.  Just last night I cut up some local new potatoes, onions and garlic, added a little olive oil, salt and pepper, wrapped it in foil and cooked it on the grill.  It was much to hot to turn the oven on and I like the taste of grilled vegetables. Or, just placing fresh corn or any other vegetable on the grill is tasty and poses no health risks.

However, it is important to be careful when grilling meat, poultry or seafood.  When meat is grilled over an open flame, two hazardous chemicals are formed called HCA and PAH.   HCAs form when amino acids in the meat’s protein and creatine found in the muscle of meat react to high cooking temperatures. PAHs form when fat and juice from the meat drip onto the fire, causing flames. It is these flames that contain PAHs which adhere to the meat’s surface. The exposure to HCAs and PAHs can increase your risk for a number of cancers, including stomach, esophagus, bladder, breast and prostate. Some data suggests that HCAs increase aging of your arteries.  However, you can decrease HCAs by over 90 percent by marinating your meats for over 15 minutes.  It seems that it doesn’t matter what marinade you are using, as long as it is not water or sugar based.  Good marinade choices would be olive oil and vinegar.  Also, you can reduce the amount of PAHs when grilling by grilling your meat on lower temperatures to avoid the flames from flaring up.  While it’s probably okay to grill marinated fish and chicken once in a while, it’s not a good idea to eat grilled meats (even marinated) on a regular basis.

Check out this link below for more information


The Dirty Dozen for 2013

2013 dirty produce
“dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen”

Each year the EWG (The Environmental Working Group) puts out their list of the “dirty dozen” and the “clean fifteen.”  The “dirty dozen” are the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides.  The Environmental Working Group developed this list based on 89,000 tests for pesticide residue in 48 of the most popular produce. It is also based on how the produce is typically eaten (washed, rinsed, or peeled).  Peeling your fruits or vegetables can help, but the skin has many valuable nutrients that will be stripped with the peeling.  EWG recommends rinsing all produce before consuming.  They also recommend buying the “dirty dozen” organic, if possible, or locally.  You can talk to the farmers at farmer’s markets and even though they may not be organic, most of the time they have grown their produce more sustainably.  The “clean fifteen” are produce that still have pesticides, but at a much lower level.

Again this year, apples have topped the list.  Cherry tomatoes and cucumbers have been added to the list and strawberries and spinach are still included in the Dirty Dozen.  Blueberries and lettuce fell off the list.

Even though corn is on the “clean fifteen” list for pesticides, buying organic or local corn would be best since 90% of all corn grown is genetically modified.

To see the complete list for the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen,” click on the link below…

12 Fruits & Veggies With The Most Pesticides (2013 Dirty Dozen)


August is National Peach Month

Fresh Peaches
Fresh Peaches

I can’t believe it is already August.  The summer seems to be flying by and I am wondering what happened to July!  The thing I like so much about summer is all the fresh produce that is available locally.  August is national peach month so I set out to find a good peach.  I have not had much luck in the grocery store.  I think they are picked so early that even by putting them in paper bags to ripen they just don’t ripen like they would off the tree.  Last weekend we went to the beach for the weekend and on the drive back I we passed a lot of lot of local produce stands on the roadside.  We pulled over and loaded up with corn, cantaloupe, okra, tomatoes, sprite melon and peaches.   I was happy to finally find a peach that taste like a peach.  They are juicy and sweet.  However, there is more to a peach than just the taste.  They have so many healthy benefits.

Peaches are a great source of vitamin A which is important to the health of our retinas.  Vitamin A helps prevent night blindness and age-related macular degeneration.

The high fiber content in peaches helps clean out toxins from your colon, kidneys, stomach and liver. Peaches are also a great source of potassium which helps reduce kidney related diseases.

Peaches contain an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid (concentrated in the skin and flesh of the peach) which helps protect the body from cancer and other chronic diseases. This antioxidant is also helpful in reducing inflammation in the body.

Peaches are high in iron and vitamin K which help keep your heart healthy. Vitamin K prevents the blood from clotting and protects against other heart diseases. Iron keeps the blood healthy and strong and prevents against iron-deficiency anemia.

The levels of vitamin C in peaches are very high! Vitamin C helps keep our immune system high to protect against illness.

These are just some of the great benefits of peaches.  If at all possible, try to buy organic peaches or those from local farmers who probably use less pesticides than the ones you find in your grocery store.  Unfortunately, peaches are in the list of the top twelve “dirty” foods.  They are loaded with pesticides.

Below is a link to more information on the health benefits of peaches and a recipe for a delicious peach smoothie.  Try one today…

Natural Cures Not Medicine: 8 Amazing Health Benefits of Peaches

napa farmhouse 1885™: Healthy Peach Crisp Smoothie



Inside Your Food