It’s Strawberry Season!

Fresh Local Strawberries

I get so excited as spring and summer comes because of all the fresh fruits and vegetables that start showing up.  It is strawberry season now so I no longer need to purchase overpriced and tasteless berries.  Strawberries are so delicious and also very healthy for you.  One cup of strawberries has just 50 calories and 8 grams of sugar.  Not only are strawberries low in calories, sugar, and sodium, they are loaded with nutrients like Vitamin C, folate, potassium, magnesium, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. Strawberries have been shown in many studies to help control blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, maintain heart health, reduce the risk for strokes, and boost memory.

The only downside is that strawberries are near the top of the list of the “dirty dozen.”  The dirty dozen are the foods that contain the most pesticides.  So, if possible, try to find a local farm where you can pick your own or a local farmers market where they picked them for you because, most of the time, those have less pesticides than the strawberries that are mass produced for the local grocery stores.  Or even better, opt for organic strawberries.

Strawberries are good just as they are for a healthy, delicious snack, or you can add them to smoothies, salads and baked goods.  One easy idea for including strawberries in your diet is to add them to pancakes.  Just make your favorite pancake recipe, put about 1/4 of a cup in the skillet and wait for about a minute and then add some strawberry slices.  When it starts to bubble, flip it and the strawberry will cook right inside the pancake.  Or just slice them up on your cereal or oatmeal in the morning.

I have added a couple of other easy but healthy and fun recipes below.  One for a spinach and strawberry salad and one for frozen chocolate strawberries.   What’s not to like?!

Spinach Strawberry Salad | Today’s Healthy Recipes

Healthy Recipes | Chocolate Strawberry Pops

Brunch Recipes for Mother’s Day

Mother's Day Brunch
Mother’s Day Brunch

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12 and I hope you have started giving some thought as to how you can serve your mother on this special day.  For those of us whose mother lives to far away to visit, we have to make due with sending a gift and talking to her on the phone.  I would love to be able to serve my mom a nice meal or even just something simple.  My mom put dinner on the table every night when I was growing up, for a family of seven.  She served up nutritious food along with lots of love, comfort and care during all stages of my life.  To my mom, as long as she doesn’t have to prepare anything, she is thankful and grateful for whatever you make.  Your mom probably feels the same way.   Just be sure you clean up the kitchen afterwards so that she isn’t slaving away cleaning all the dishes after the meal!

There are several healthy recipes in the link below.  No matter what culinary skills you may possess, there is something for you.  There are easy quiche and parfait recipes.  If you prefer a sweet bread you will find a raisin walnut bread.  It can be as simple as pancakes or scramble some eggs and add sauted veggies and black beans and roll it up in a tortilla or fill a pita pocket.   For a sweet treat, try the dried apricots dipped into melted chocolate.  That sounds so good I may have to make some for myself for Mother’s Day!

Click here for a healthy recipe for any culinary skill level



Give Me Real Food!

What are we really eating?
What are we really eating?

Americans spend over 90% of their food money on processed foods.  That is pretty scary since there are over 3,000 food additives that are added to the foods Americans eat.  A lot of these additives which include  preservatives, flavorings, colors and other chemical ingredients which are in our foods are banned in other countries because they are considered to harmful for human consumption.  I often wonder why it is that here in the U.S. we are so slow to protect our citizens from these harmful additives and it just seems to be getting worse.  A lot of the big companies that sell overseas have already changed the way they makes products for them but we continue to be served the dangerous chemicals in our foods.  One example of that is M&Ms.  Those were always my favorite, but I stopped eating them years ago once I started learning about the food colorings and harmful effects.  However, in Europe, since these colors are banned, they are getting M&Ms with natural food colorings.  I hope at some point, these big food companies will step up and give Americans a better product as well.

Some banned ingredients include various food dyes, the fat substitute Olestra, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate (aka brominanted flour), Azodicarbonamide, BHA, BHT, rBGH, rBST, and arsenic.

The overall health of Americans is much lower than other industrialized countries, so I wonder if putting these toxins in our bodies in such large amounts is causing the health crisis in America.

In February, Russia extended a ban on U.S. beef, pork and turkey imports due to the feed additive ractopamine in the meats. Ractopamine is a growth stimulant banned in several countries, including Russia.  Russia is the fourth largest importer of beef and pork from America.  They have stated they will only accept meat if we can certify it does not have ractopamine but the U.S. has refused to guarantee that.   Other countries will no longer accept some seeds and grains if they are GMO (genetically modified).   If other countries won’t accept our food, can this be good for our economy?

For a list of the worst additives, where they are found and their health hazards please read the link below…

U.S. Foods Full of Banned Ingredients – Articles –

According to the News, a list of ingredients that are banned across the globe, such as food dyes and brominated vegetable oil, are still used in the U.S..


Eating to Prevent Kidney Disease

Healthy Vegetables
Healthy Vegetables

A dear friend of mine has recently been going through some difficult medical problems, one of which includes kidney problems.  In order to try and help her, I decided to do some research to see what foods and life style changes she may need to make in order to help her kidneys function normally.  Some of the information I found was that eating a diet high in red and processed meats, sugary beverages and sodium increased the risk of kidney disease.  If you have three unhealthy lifestyle factors such as obesity, poor diet and smoking, your risk increases to a 13% chance of kidney disease.

Diabetes also causes kidney disease because when your blood glucose levels are high the kidneys have to filter excess amounts of blood and it takes a toll on the kidneys.   Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are great to eat for your health.  Even though beans are a much better source of protein for your body than red meat, you still have to be extremely careful of the amount of protein you eat when you are having problems with your kidneys.  Beans, bean products, fish, milk, egg white and lean meat are high in protein which can worsen your condition because it puts to much of a burden on the kidneys.  It is important to have your protein levels monitors regularly by your doctor.  Also, if you are diabetic, you have to be careful not to eat to much fruit because of the sugar in fruit.

The good news is that by making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, not smoking and eating healthy foods, you can protect your kidneys and prevent future damage.

When we think of diseases we don’t want to have, it is usually cancer we think about.  However, kidney disease kills 90,000 Americans each year, more than breast or prostate cancer.  26 million people have kidney disease and many don’t even know it.  It is important that we start eating a healthier diet to prevent this disease and many others instead of trying to manage it after the fact.

This link below has some really good information as well as a list of lifestyle changes we can make to help reduce the risk of kidney disease.  Please take a look and see if you can start improving your lifestyle.  Maybe by starting with one risk factor at a time…

The Right Diet Can Prevent Kidney Disease, New Study Finds

Researchers led by Alex Chang, MD, MS of Johns Hopkins University found that people with normal kidney function whose diet quality was poor—high in red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and sodium,


The “Monsanto Protection Act”

GMO Peanuts
GMO Peanuts

I am assuming that everyone knows who Monsanto is.  If not, suffice it to say they are the largest company that produces the chemicals for our food and the genetically modified seed for the fruits and vegetables we eat.  At this point, almost 80% of all nonorganic processed foods including those labeled “natural,” contain some type of genetically engineered organism.  They pretty much run our food source in the USA and it is only going to get worse as you will see.

On March 24, the pro-Monsanto “Farmer Assurance Provision, Section 735” rider was quietly slipped into the Agricultural Appropriations provisions of HR 933, the Continuing Resolution spending bill designed to avert a federal government shutdown.

For the next six months after President Barack Obama signed HR 933 on March 29, it allows Monsanto to promote and plant GMOs and genetically engineered (GE) seeds, free from any judicial litigation that might decide the crops are unsafe.

This rider, which was written by Monsanto by the way, states that the U.S. Department of Agriculture “shall, notwithstanding any other provisions of law, immediately grant temporary permits to continue using the [GE] seed at the request of a farmer or producer [Monsanto].”  So basically, what this says according to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is that  “It appears to pre-empt judicial review of a deregulatory action which may make the provision unenforceable.”  This means that once the USDA deems these GMOs and GE seeds to be safe, if they are later found to be harmful, they can ignore any court rulings and continue to produce and grow them.

If you are a betting person, you can probably be sure that for the next six months, at least, Monsanto will be pushing these GMOs and GE products hard.

This bill was signed into law even though there was a petition signed by 250,000 people against this.  Most of the congress say they didn’t know anything about it.  That’s pretty scary since they signed the bill.  This bill will expire on September 30.  We need to make sure that this is removed from the next law.  Our health is seriously at risk.  Please take the time to read these articles I have included below.  To understand the full extent of the law and all that is at stake, and to better understand who Monsanto is, read the ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ article first.  Then, to lighten it up a little and get a condensed and humorous version, check out the video from Jon Stewart…

Jon Stewart explains the ‘Monsanto Protection Act‘ | MNN – Mother

Stewart has a knack for getting things across in a way that can get our food blogger’s teen to pay attention.

Monsanto Protection Act‘: Chemical monopoly writes its own law

On March 24, the pro-Monsanto “Farmer Assurance Provision, Section 735” rider was quietly slipped into the Agricultural Appropriations provisions of HR 933, the Continuing Resolution spending bill designed to avert a

Use Sesame Seeds For A Healthy Diet

Sesame Seeds
Sesame Seeds

Last week I talked about figs as a healing food.  This week sesame seeds are on the list of healing foods.  A recent study found that people with high cholesterol who ate a few spoonfuls of sesame seeds each day lowered their LDL cholesterol by almost 10 percent.  They are filled with minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, and others.  Sesame seeds can also improve the effectiveness of some diabetes medication as well as help reduce hypertension and reduce stress.  They can be easy to include in your diet.  You can toast the sesame seeds and sprinkle them on oatmeal or cereal, top steamed vegetables with them and make hummus using tahini, which is a sesame seed butter.  For more information on sesame seeds, check out the article below which also includes a recipe for making your own sesame crackers and kale chips with sesame…

8 Super Health Benefits of Sesame Seeds | Care2 Healthy Living

If you enjoy sprinkling sesame seeds into your cookie batter, on your salads and in your stir-fries, you’ll be happy to know that you’re doing your health a big.

Figs – One of the Worlds Healthiest Foods

Fresh Figs
Fresh Figs

If you are like me, you probably don’t eat figs very often.  They are just not one of those items that are readily available or talked about very much.  I like dried figs okay, but when I do eat them, I try to buy organic figs because commercially grown figs are usually treated with sulfur dioxide gas.  This helps preserve them, but I prefer to eat foods that are not chemically treated if at all possible.  It is estimated that one out of every 100 people have a sensitivity to sulfite and have adverse reactions when ingesting it.  Sulfite reactions may be particularly harmful for people who suffer from asthma.  Organic figs are not treated with sulfite.

A few years ago I met a local resident who has a really big fig tree that has been growing for years.  She had so many figs growing on it she couldn’t give them away fast enough.  That is when I fell in love with fresh figs.  They are simply wonderful.  They are very sweet and somewhat chewy.  I couldn’t get enough of them.  Figs have many benefits, including being high in potassium which helps to control blood pressure, figs are high in calcium which helps prevent bone loss, they are high in fiber which can help reduce the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancer and figs may help prevent macular degeneration.  The fig leaf, which I have never eaten, can help lower levels of triglycerides and fig leaves have antidiabetic properties which may help reduce the amount of insulin needed by people with diabetes who take insulin.  The link below has a wealth of information on dried and fresh figs and how to eat them.  Also, see the link below for a fig quesadilla…

Click here for information on figs

Fig Quesadilla Recipe

Watch Out For That Easter Candy!

"Colored" Candy
“Colored” Candy

Easter will be here in a couple of days and hopefully you won’t be temped to eat to much (hopefully not any) of the artificially colored Easter candy that you see everywhere you go.  Most of the candy ingredients usually start with sugar and corn syrup, followed by high fructose corn syrup or some other type of sugar.  Then there is usually at least one artificial food dye if not multiple colors added.  Of course then the artificial flavor and vanillin (which is an imitation vanilla sometimes make from left over products from from a paper mill or tree bark).  If it is chocolate, it is usually mostly flavorings and oils.  I have done several posts on the dangers of artificial dyes and colorings so be sure to update your memory before you dig into that candy.  One of the articles was on the dangers of Blue 1, one on the dangers of food dyes in general and one on the possible link between dyes and ADHD.

I no longer eat all this stuff and when I do want some chocolate I eat a good quality dark chocolate of 72%-86% cocoa which has some health benefits.  I find that to be satisfying and I don’t get overloaded with so much sugar that I crave more and more.  A good option for some good chocolate candy if you like M&Ms, chocolate peanut butter cups and Snicker types of candy bars is a new candy from Unreal.  They call their candy Unreal Candy Unjunked.  They have no artificial ingredients, no hydrogenated oils, no corn syrup, no preservatives and no GMOs.  I have bought some for my daughter and she loves them.  I found them at my local Target store.

If you are really feeling creative, below is a recipe for homemade Cadbury eggs.  It actually looks easy enough, but I have not made them.  My daughter has a huge sweet tooth, so this may be something we can make together for Easter this year.  I am sure licking the pan will be required!

Homemade Cadbury Eggs | Primally Inspired

These are super easy to make and have REAL ingredients unlike the kind that you get in the stores. If you have leftover chocolate, drizzle some around all the edges of the chocolate eggs so they will mold together easier.

The Dangers of Somer Herbal and Dietary Supplements

Vitamin Supplements
Vitamin Supplements
Natural Vitamins
Natural Vitamins

There are a lot of different views about taking supplements.  Some physicians recommend that a multi-vitamin be added to your daily diet.  Others say that if you are eating a healthy diet there is no need for vitamins.  Depending on the vitamin, especially multi-vitamins, you may not be getting what you think you are.  I saw a documentary not to long ago that showed some supplements have more of certain vitamins than the label says and others had less.  A lot of times, the supplement never breaks all the way down so it doesn’t give you the benefits you think it does.  There are so many vitamins and minerals that our bodies need, but if we take to much of some vitamins they can sometimes be toxic to our bodies and cause more harm than good.  Herbal supplements are not regulated so it is important to really check them out for all the pros and cons before taking them.  If you are taking prescription medication, it is even more essential to be aware of any adverse effects vitamins and minerals may cause.  If you are taking any supplements or are contemplating taking some, check out this web site below from the Cleveland Clinic.  It is a supplement review with a long list of popular supplements.  It shows the pros and cons and then gives a review so you can make a wise decision.  There is also a column of conditions and it will give you some different supplements to look at for those conditions.

Click here for the supplement review



Why You Crave Processed Foods

Salt, Sugar, Fat
Salt, Sugar, Fat

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be around to watch the Dr. Oz Show.  I think Dr. Oz has some great information and I was really fascinated with this show.  He had Michael Moss on who is the author of Salt Sugar Fat which has just recently been released.  Michael Moss is a New York Times investigative reporter who has gone over 81 million pages of internal documents from the scientists at the labs of the major food companies and government records.  The title of this show was The Big Food Cover-Up.  It started off by saying that the average American eats 33 pounds of cheese, 70 pounds of sugar and 61 pounds of salt each year.  The reason is because of the high volume of salt, sugar and fat in processed foods.  He explains how they go about finding the perfect amount of sugar to add which he calls the bliss point as well as crave-ability and flavor burst from salt.  Dr. Oz shows slides demonstrating how your brain reacts in the same manner as a cocaine addict to these foods as well as the way your tongue reacts to the salt burst of flavor, especially kosher salt.

It is sad that our food has to be “scientifically” produced in labs, and that it is all about making more revenue rather than about the health of the consumers.  I think you will find this video quite interesting and helpful.  It may help you to understand your cravings better so that you can better manage them.  There are five short 2-4 minute video segments.  Just go to the following link to watch these short videos.


Click here to watch the videos on Dr. Oz’s website


Inside Your Food