Grilled Portabella Mushrooms and Zucchini and Squash

Grilled Porta Bella Mushroom with zucchini and squash
Grilled Porta Bella Mushroom with zucchini and squash

Summer is the time of year when outdoor grilling is at it’s peak.  Most people probably grill some type of meat, poultry or seafood, but don’t stop there.  Grilling vegetables is a great way to change the way you usually cook them.  Today, I am going to focus on two of my favorites, grilled portabella mushrooms and grilled zucchini and squash.

Portabella mushrooms are often used as a substitute for meat because of their meaty flavor.  They are packed with vitamins and minerals such as selenium, potassium, niacin, and copper.   Mushrooms are loaded with Vitamin B which helps turn food into fuel which the body burns to produce energy.  It also helps the body metabolize fats and protein.

Another great vitamin that the portabella is loaded with is vitamin D.  Most people don’t get enough vitamin D which is essential.  Mushrooms are the only fruit or vegetable that actually produces vitamin D when in the sunlight.  When exposed to high levels of ultraviolet B just before going to market it converts more of the plant sterol ergosterol into what is called the sunshine vitamin.  Mushrooms also boost your immune system and are loaded with antioxidants that help fight free radicals in our bodies.  The high levels of selenium help lower the risk of bladder cancer.

When we grill portabellas, we usually remove the stem.  Then we like to rub it with some olive oil and add fresh, chopped herbs to the inside part.  If you prefer, you can use your favorite barbeque sauce just like you would with hamburgers or steaks.  Sometimes I serve them on buns with sliced tomatoes, condiments, etc.  You can also just eat them as you would a steak with steak sauce.  They are tasty when sliced and added to pasta and marinara sauce.

While your grill is on and you are cooking your mushrooms, why not slice some zucchini and squash and grill it right along side it?  If you grow your own zucchini and squash you know that if you forget to pick it, it can grow really big before you know it.  That is perfect for the grill.  Just slice them lengthwise and rub some olive oil on them with a little salt and pepper and place on the grill.  It is that simple.

Zucchini and other summer squash are over 95% water so they are low in calories, about 14 calories for a 3-1/2 ounce serving.  However, they are loaded with potassium, carotenes, which help protect the skin from the damaging effects of the sun, and vitamin C.  They also contain anticancer properties similar to those found in radishes, pumpkins and leeks.

Zucchini is a versitile vegetable that can be eaten raw, baked in muffins or breads, grilled or roasted.  Below is a link for ten recipes for eating zucchini.  Check out the link below and happy grilling!

Ten Recipes for Zuchinni

Real Food or Chemical Food – Do You Know What You Are Eating?

processed farm food
Farm Factory

Did you know that 80% of the food in the U.S. is supplied by massive factory farms?  I would like to think that by using the word farm, that it is safely grown for the health and welfare of the consumer.  Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.  More than 6,000 additives and chemicals are used by food manufacturers to process and produce the foods we eat today.  Our food system is heavily dependent on toxic chemicals and synthetic additives which can threaten our health, especially the health of children.  Almost 900 million tons of toxic chemicals are used by farms every year and millions of tons of potentially toxic sewage sludge have been used as fertilizer.

Some of the foods animals at these factories are given to eat are same species meat, diseased animals, drugs and chemicals, candy and cookies, just to name a few.  These “foods” will then be passed on to the consumer when eating the meat from these animals.

Chemicals are used liberally.  For example, to make white flour, the wheat flour is bleached using chemicals such as oxide of nitrogen, chlorine, chloride and nitrosyl.  Soy beans are drenched in hexane, which is a byproduct of gasoline refining, to separate their oil from protein for processed foods. Those are just a couple of examples.

More than 70% of all processed foods are made with some genetically modified ingredients, but do not have to be labeled as such on the package.  Also, 70% of the calories the average American eats comes from processed foods.  Today, the average child in American consumes 5 “servings” of pesticides every day in the food and water he/she consumes.  That same child also consumes 150 mg of artificial food coloring per day.  Most food coloring is made from petroleum or synthetic materials and some are even used as pesticides.

I have written other articles previously on the dangers of food colorings, GMOs, and pesticides.  If you missed them and want more information on those, check them out.   This article just puts them all together to show what America’s food system is like and just how much we are surrounded by what I call “non-foods.”  I am scared by the high percentages of the dirtiness of our foods and the continued health decline of our citizens.

The link below shows a diagram that is easy to read and understand and at the bottom, it shows what health risks are associated with some of the foods we eat.

Click here for more information

Farm Factory

 

July is National Blueberry Month!

Pick your own blueberries
Fresh Blueberries

In 1999 the USDA declared July to be National Blueberry Month.  I always look forward to this time of the year when blueberries are more plentiful and tasteful.  There is a little farm not to far from me and I plan to go and pick some fresh off the bushes in a few days.

Blueberries are more than just tasty, they have a lot of healthy benefits as well.  Blueberries contain a multitude of phytonutrients which act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in the body.  Some of the benefits of blueberries include cardiovascular protection.  Blueberries help protect from clogging of the blood vessels, they can help protect against high blood pressure and if eaten regularly, can help reduce the risk of hypertension.  Blueberries are rich in manganese and vitamin C.  Blueberries may also help improve cognitive function, including memory, in older adults if eaten regularly.

Blueberries are also good for people who have diabetes.  They are low in sugar and have been shown to be a great addition to a diabetics diet because they they have a low Glycemic Index score and over time, it may improve the regulation of blood sugar levels.

Blueberries are high in fiber which can lower the risk of cancer.  Blueberries also contain anthocyanins which may help in protecting your eyes.

There are two links below.  The first one goes into more detail about the health benefits of blueberries.  The second gives you many ways to eat blueberries along with recipes if you want to do more with them than just eat them right off the bush or the container from the grocery.

7 Health Benefits of Blueberries

25 Ways to Use Fresh Blueberries | The Well Fed Homestead

 

Add Lentils to Your Diet

Lentils
Lentils

One of my favorite soups is lentil soup.  However, I rarely ever eat soup in the summer because for me it is to hot for soup.  I usually stick to cooler foods and salads.  Since lentils are so incredibly healthy, I decided to pull out an old favorite lentil salad recipe of mine to share with you.  I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen in the summer, and unlike other beans, lentils cook quickly.

Lentils have a high level of soluble fiber which helps in slowing down digestion which then helps stabilize blood sugar levels and keeps you full longer.  It also helps reduce cholesterol thereby helping reduce the risk of heart disease.  The soluble fiber in lentils helps prevent constipation and digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis.  Lentils are a good source of folate, iron and magnesium.  They have the third highest level of protein of all legumes and nuts.  Lentils are also low in calories and have almost to fat.

So, here is my recipe for lentil salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked lentils (1-1/2 cups of dried lentils)
  • 1 can of tuna
  • 3 green onions, minced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 3 Tbsl extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Dash of red wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsps ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lots of fresh parsley, chopped

Boil 1 &1/2 cups of dried lentils in 3 cups of boiling water or broth.  Salt the water if desired.  Cooking time is about 25-35 minutes or until the lentils are just tender (not crunchy, but not mushy).  Chill the cooked lentils for about an hour on a baking sheet.  Sometimes, I put the baking sheet of lentils in the freezer for 10-15 minutes if I am in a hurry.

When the lentils are cool, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Serve on top of lettuce or spinach.  Whole grain bread also goes nice with this.

If you want more in depth information about the health benefits of lentils, click on the link below..

7 Health Benefits of Lentils – MindBodyGreen.com

 

The Health Risks of Drinking Diet Soda

"Diet" Cola
“Diet” Cola

Fortunately, I never got in the habit of drinking sodas, but when I would occasionally drink one, I always drank a diet soda, thinking it was better for me.  However, studies now show that diet sodas may in fact be worse for you than full sugar sodas.  Drinking diet soda increases your risk of metabolic syndrome.  Some of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome include belly fat, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and higher blood pressure.  It doubles the risk of stoke and heart attack and contributes to Type II diabetes, asthma and some forms of cancer.  It has also been shown to cause obesity.  The artificial  sweeteners mess up your brain’s natural ability to control calories and increases cravings for sweets.

A study of 3,000 women at the Harvard Medical School found that diet cola is linked to a two-fold increased risk for kidney decline. They found that in women who drank two or more diet sodas a day their kidney function started declining. The kidney decline was not associated with sugar-sweetened sodas, just diet sweeteners.

Diet sodas can also cause cell damage because of the preservatives they contain.  They have mold inhibitors, known as sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate. Sometimes the damage to DNA is so bad that they can totally shut it down, making your the body susceptible to developing  hives and asthma.

Diet sodas have also been linked to tooth decay.  Diet sodas are highly acidic which wears away enamel and causes teeth to become susceptible to cavities.  Colas have ten times the erosive potential of fruit juice.  If you drink to many of them, some dentists are seeing the same effects to the enamel of the tooth as those who are addicted to meth or crack cocaine.  So, if you do drink diet sodas, rinse your mouth with water  after drinking the soda.

In a Swiss study, researchers tested water samples from wastewater treatment plants and found they still contained sucralose and saccharin even after being treated.  A recent test of 19 municipal water supplies in the U.S. found the presence of sucralose in every one.  It is pretty scary to me that even after treating the water, this chemical is still found.  You can only imagine the impact it is having on your body.  The studies also found that the sucralose in rivers and lakes interferes with some organisms’ feeding habits.

On the video below, Dr. Oz says that if you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds with your diet soda, you are 14% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome that those who drink diet soda with junk food.

If you are a diet soda drinker, I hope you will consider trying to quit or cut back on your diet soda intake.  Maybe you could try tea or water with some flavored fruit juice.  If you like the fizz of the soda, maybe try some sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or lime or any fruit juice you like.  Your body will thank you.

Below are two links for more information on the dangers of diet soda.

Health Risks of Drinking Diet Soda | Earth Doctor

See Dr. Oz’s video

Why Red Meat Ages You Faster

Beef
Red Meat and the dangers of Carnitines

Unless you live in a cave somewhere, I am sure you have heard many reports about red meat causing hardening of the arteries and heart attacks.  This has been based on the saturated fat content of red meat.   However, according to research by Stan Hazen, MD, PhD, from the Heart and Vascular Institute, and other doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, carnitine may be a culprit for additional risks.  Carnitine is abundant in red meat and is present at significantly lower levels in other forms of meat and dairy products. Carnitine is also a nutrient that may increase energy if taken short-term.  It is also found in some diet products.   However, the new studies suggest that long-term exposure to carnitine may lead to increased hardening of blood vessel walls.

Here is the reason why.  There are microbes called microbiome that live in your gut.  Trillions of bacteria live in your intestines and aid in the digestion of food. Dr. Hazen’s study suggests that when you eat red meat regularly (or carnitine), it can shift the composition of the microbes within your gut. Bacteria that like carnitine appear to generate a metabolite that promotes heart disease. When they studied the microbiomes of people who ate meat as well as vegetables, they contained much more of a substance that deposits LDL cholesterol in the artery walls that leads to coronary artery disease, compared with vegans and vegetarians.

This new study further substantiates epidemiologic data previously published indicating that eating red meat more than once a week is associated with increased stroke as well as other aging processes like dementia, wrinkling, impotence and heart attacks.  For this reason, they recommend limiting your red meat intake to less than 4 ounces per week.

Click here to read more

8 Reasons GMOs Are Bad For You

what happens to food when it is modified?
Genetically MODIFIED Organisms (GMO) Fruit

Below is an article written by Shilo Urban.  I thought it was easy to read and understand and to the point for those of you who are a little confused about GMOs and their dangers.  I know I have written several articles lately on this, but I think we are at a critical time in our country and the need to get the word out about what we are eating and how to change this is important.  I believe the health of our country depends on it.  Please take a minute to read this article below.

“Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are created when a gene from one species is transferred to another, creating something that would not be found in nature.

A large percentage of domestic crops (up to 85% of soybean yields) have DNA that was tweaked in a lab, yet it is nearly impossible to know which food items contain these genetically engineered ingredients. Thankfully new mobile phone apps are making it a bit easier for the consumer to know what she is eating, but this is not enough.

GMOs are bad for your body, bad for the community, bad for farmers and bad for the environment. This is why:

The health consequences of eating genetically modified organisms are largely unknown. Genetically engineered foods have not been shown to be safe to eat and may have unpredictable consequences. When trans-fats were first introduced, corporations battled to get them onto your grocery shelves – and it is only decades later that this once novel food has been proven to be extremely unhealthful. Many scientists are worried that the genetically altered foods, once consumed, may pass on their mutant genes to bacteri in the digestive system. How these new strains of bacteria may affect our body system’s balance is anybody’s guess.

Food items that contain GMOs are unlabeled in America. Why so sneaky? The European Union has banned GMOs, as have Australia, Japan, the UK and two dozen other countries that recognize that a lack of long term studies and testing may be hiding disastrous health effects.

Genetic engineering reduces genetic diversity. When genes are more diverse, they are more robust; this is why a pure bred dog tends to have greater health problems than the dear old mutt.  Plants with reduced genetic diversity cannot handle drought, fungus invasions or insects nearly as well as natural plants, which could have dire consequences for farmers and communities dependent on GMO crops for survival.

Once the mutant genes are out of the bag, there is no going back. Genetically modified organisms contaminate existing seeds with their altered material, passing on modified traits to non-target species. This creates a new strain of plant that was never intended in the laboratory. In North Dakota, recent studies show that 80% of wild canola plants tested contained at least one transgene. In Japan, a modified bacteria created a new amino acid not found in nature; it was used in protein drinks and before it was recalled it has caused severe mental and metabolic damage to hundreds as well as several deaths. Japan banned GMOs after this horrific experience. Monarch butterflies have also died after their favorite food, milkweed, was cross-pollinated from Bt corn which rendered it toxic to the endangered species.

GMOs are not the answer for global food security. Genetically engineered crops have shown no increase in yield and no decrease in pesticide use. In many cases other farm technology has proven much more successful, and even Monsanto agrees that its genetically engineered crops yield less than conventional farming.

Genetically engineered foods have not been proven to be safe, but the few studies conducted don’t look so hot. The organs of rats who ate genetically modified potatoes showed signs of chronic wasting, and female rats fed a diet of herbicide-resistant soybeans gave birth to stunted and sterile pups.

Big biotech firms have very sketchy track records, but then again what would you expect from organizations who want to patent the world’s food supply? These massive biotech companies have a history of toxic contamination, deceiving the public and suing small farmers when their patented seeds blew across the fence. Biotech firms sell sterile seeds to African farmers- meaning the seeds are only good for one season, because the plants that grow up will not be able to reproduce.  Farmers must buy new seeds every year instead of growing from the previous year’s yield. GMOs are not the farmers’ friend.

GMOs require massive amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. These things are poisons, and should not be eaten or allowed to run off into our water supply. But they are, every day, by companies who care far more about the bottom line than they do about your health, your environment or your children’s future.

The bottom line is that genetically modified organisms have not been proven in any way to be safe, and most of the studies are actually leaning the other direction, which is why many of the world’s countries have banned these items whose DNA has been genetically engineered. In America, they aren’t even labeled, much less banned, so the majority of consumers have no idea that they are eating lab-created DNA on a daily basis.

Now you do; your best defense is to purchase certified organic food, which cannot contain any GMOs, and to tell your friends and loved ones to do the same.”

 

June 12 is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies

For those of you who enjoy cookies, June 12 is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day.  There are a lot of different peanut butter cookie recipes with many different ingredients.  I wanted to go back to the beginning to find out where they came from and how they were first made.

George Washington Carver (1864-1943), compiled 105 peanut recipes from various cookbooks, agricultural bulletins and other sources.  In his 1916 Research Bulletin called How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption, he included three recipes for peanut butter cookies calling for crushed chopped peanuts as an ingredient.  It was not until the early 1920s that peanut butter was listed as an ingredient in the cookies.  The Peanut Butter Balls recipe in the 1923 edition of Pillsbury’s Balanced Recipes contains the first known written instance of instructing the cook to press the cookies using fork tines.  The recipe does not advice why this this should be done.  However, peanut butter cookie dough is dense and  without being pressed, it will not cook evenly.

Attached is George Washington Carver’s original peanut butter cookie recipe as well as a more modern and healthy version.  I hope you have time to make a batch of one of them or your own family recipe and enjoy…

George Washington Carver’s Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Avocado Cookies

 

Monsanto’s Roundup May Be Even More Damaging Than We Thought

Roundup
Saturating crops with pesticides

Roundup was “supposed” to be harmless to humans and animals—the perfect weed killer. Now a groundbreaking article just published in the journal Entropy points to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and more specifically its active ingredient glyphosate, as devastating—possibly “the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies.”

Roundup is sprayed on most of the world’s genetically engineered crops which then soaks into the food we eat.  It has now been linked to “autism … gastrointestinal issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis and Crohn’s disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer, cachexia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and ALS, among others.”

It appears that some new studies have been done and the herbicide, Roundup, may be even more damaging than was previously thought.  Today, Roundup is being used on most staple crops in the United States.  It appears it may be changing the environment in our bodies as well as the soil.

The first video link below goes into a lot of detail and it is about 17 minutes long.  In a nutshell, some of the information discussed is the fact that plants make a chemical called Tryptophan in small quantities but which is essential.  This in turn produces serotonin which makes you calm and happy and produces melatonin which helps you to sleep.  When you don’t sleep, anxiety builds up and aggressive behavior can occur.  People who are depressed or aggressive tend to get better when they are given tryptophan.  Roundup, which is sprayed liberally, over 185 million pounds per year, on our food sources, destroys tryptophan.  In one study, the urine was tested on people who were non-agriculture workers and there was 5-20 times more than the safe level of this chemical in their bodies.  It also destroys the beneficial bacterium needed for our bodies and the environment which throws our entire system off.  It destroys other natural processes our body was made to perform, increasing the risks of cancer and heart disease.

Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, has produced genetically modified soy to tolerate Roundup so they can spray as much as they want to kill off other weeds and growth but not “harm” the soy.  The Roundup ready crops to watch out for the most are corn, soy, cottonseed, sugar beets and canola.  When we eat the meat from animals that eat roundup ready crops, we also get the roundup in our systems through the meat.

At the end of the growing season for wheat, rye, barley, etc., especially if it didn’t grow well due to weather conditions, they do what they call burndown.  Burndown is when they spray very liberally to destroy the crops but it also penetrates deep into the soil.  One year, local brewery’s refused to accept barley because they could not brew beer.  The Roundup that was sprayed on the barley killed the organisms that are necessary for the fermentation process.

Eating organic is the best way to protect your body.  Eating Roundup foods and the animals that eat these foods can cause mineral deficiencies so if you can’t go all organic, you may want to take a multi-vitamin, especially vitamin B.  Also, try drinking plenty of water and eat a lot of fiber to try to keep your body eliminating and flushing out your system as much as possible.

If you have time, I strongly urge you to watch the second video which is quite long.  It is about an hour and is an interview with co-author Stephanie Seneff, PhD, a Senior Research Scientist at MIT.  She goes through all the reasons why Roundup effects each disease the way it does.  She predicts if something isn’t done, in twenty years, one out of every two boys will be autistic.  This is scary stuff and we all need to be concerned for our health.  Until we eliminate these types of herbicides, all of the diseases mentioned above will continue to affect the health of all Americans at the epidemic proportions we are seeing now.

Click here to watch the video

More Informative Video

What Do You Really Know About What’s In Your Food?

What is this really
Chicken (?) Nuggets

Here is a list of “fun food facts” that you may not know.  Actually, you may not want to know and they aren’t really fun.  Previously I wrote a post on the ingredient called cellulose, most commonly found in cheese which is saw dust.  I came across the following post in my search for what some ingredients actually were.   We have all looked at ingredient labels and wondered what some of those words actually are.  Some are hard to pronounce and others just yell out at us “chemical!”  I have come to realize that it is pretty much impossible to know what you are eating unless you are growing your own food.  Even fruits and vegetables are so loaded with pesticides and herbicides that we probably don’t get all the nutrients from them that we should.  Our bodies are just trying to fight off the harm they pose.  However, I still think it is better to eat more natural and healthy foods than processed foods and meat.  For a sampling of some of the things we are really eating  and that the FDA approves (which is really scary), click on the link below…

20 Gross & Disturbing Food Facts You’ll Wish You Didn’t Know