Natural Health


Remember that commercial?  I loved that little old lady who shouted, “Where’s the beef?”  It was a hit during it’s time.

If someone were to really ask me, “Where’s the beef?”.  I would probably respond, “Who cares?”.  I admit I am not a huge meat eater by any means.  Meat actually grosses me out a little.  I hate preparing it.  The feel and smell of raw meat turns my stomach.  I don’t even like to patty up hamburgers.  Disgusting! 

However, that doesn’t mean I am totally against meat.  I do love a good cheeseburger now and again.  I just don’t ever really crave a steak, or a juicy chicken and you can just forget about eating pork.  Don’t even get me started on pork.  Pork is repulsive.  You know the whole pig/toxin thing don’t you?  Now if you are talking overly processed bacon, that’s another story for me.  I love crispy bacon.  I am a total mixed bag on meat.  However, I recognize that protein is vital for a healthy diet.  Protein gives our bodie’s cells structure, assists in making hormones and enzymes, and also is needed for growth/tissue repair.

Due to my transient and totally emotionally tied repsulsion for most meats, I try to look for more sources for protein than just meat.  I stumbled upon this great list a while back, and while I already use many of these food items in my own diet, I found a couple more great ideas.  I am a firm believer that the lower you eat on the food chain, the healthier the food. Meaning, meats are higher up on the food chain and usually have more toxins.  Plants, minus human applied ferilizers, tend to have few to no toxins. These protein sources fit that criteria as well.

Go to fullsize image1. Quinoa (pronounced KEE-nwah)  Known as the mother grain of the Andes this delicious nutty flavored grain has amino acids, a high iron content, and is quick to cook.  Look for this also in breads, pastas and other grain products.  I learned to love this grain when I was going “wheat free” for a while due to an elimination diet.  I still crave the yummy bread made with this I found at the health food store.

Go to fullsize image2.  Veggie Burgers  That’s right!  It’s a burger but absolutely no beef can be found in these.  Usually made with protein rich soy and organic vegetables, these no meat alternatives come in a bunch of tasty varieties.  Don’t be afraid of veggie burgers, they don’t taste like the cardboard veggie patties from days past.  I admit we don’t eat too many of these at my house.  Tomas thinks the only burger is one made out of beef.  I have yet to find a veggie burger that fits “his beefy manly needs”.

Go to fullsize image3.  Almonds  You all know about the delicious almond, right?  It’s the perfect snack!  High in protein and calcium while low in carbs, this little nut provides a tasty and easy meat alternative.  For best results, eat them raw.  But, don’t just eat the nut itself!  Try almond milk too!  I try to pretend that almond paste is equally as healthy when I am eating danishes or pastries, but I don’t think that counts.

Go to fullsize image4.  Yogurt  Packed with protein, calcium and good bacteria, yogurt is another healthy staple.  Stick to the organic varieties to avoid the processed extras that many brands contain.  Plain, organic, full-fat yogurt is best for you.

Go to fullsize image5.  Tempeh  I haven’t tried this yet, so I will assume that this really would be tasty.  Made from fermented soy beans and rice, tempeh is high in protein and fiber.  I have heard it has a nutty flavor and tastes great in stir frys.  Let me know what you think.  I am usually not an adventurous chef.

Go to fullsize image6.  Legumes  My favorite category!!!  Love these!!  Lentils (yum), chick peas (yum yum) and black beans (yum, yum, yum) are full of protein and fiber.  Find a healthy recipe to combine all three for a protein power pack.  We use all three in combo to make an awesome burrito.  No beef in those babies!  Just legume goodness!  Oh, and don’t even get me started on how great hummus is!

Go to fullsize image7.  Cheese  Oh, my beloved cheese!  I love cheese!  Buy all natural cheese for an awesome addition of protein to your diet.  All natural cheddar and mozzarella are the best choices for protein content. 

Eat up my friends!  As a bonus, you will save a TON of money at the grocery by switching out some of your meat for these protein choices.  Have you seen the price of meat lately??  Who needs it?

I have been watching a lot of television the past couple days.  More than I care to admit.  I have come to the conclusion that it’s basically all trash.  Especially, this one particular set of commercials.  The one’s that talk about how high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made of corn, so it’s okay.  It makes my blood boil everytime I see one of them.  Then I go on a tirade informing anyone who’s near me, that the commercials are all lying liars.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s one of them:

My favorite part is the part that says, “It’s just like sugar and okay in moderation.”  Well, that’s the frickin’ problem!  HFCS pushers are making us think we have easy control to keep our intake in moderation.  Have you looked at all your food labels?  HFCS is in many of our “healthy” foods (yogurt, cereals, whole grain breads & crackers, etc.).  It’s in almost any of your sauces and condiments.  Of course, you will find it listed in any type of “snacky type” of junk food.  It is so pervasive. How can we eat this lovely highly processed corn product in moderation if we buy anything that comes in a package?

Nice try, you health destructors!  I will not be fooled by your propaganda!  Sadly, I fear that many Americans may be swayed slightly by their commercial hoopla.  Keep up your guard, people and continue to read those labels to save yourself from the highly unnutritious, severely processed HFCS.  There are options, you just have to be vigilant.

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Since I discovered that Fiber One Bars were the work of the devil, I have been on a search for a new tasty, yet healthy snack bar.  I need high nutritional value, good fiber, and little processed junk.  Numerous people have recommended the KIND Fruit & Nut Bars.  I tried them.  I am hooked.  Hook and line and sinker.

These yummy, yummy bars are hand made in Australia.  Which just happens to be home to Patrick Rafter, one of the cutest tennis players of all time.  Wait, I mean THE cutest tennis player of all time.  That fact just added to their appeal.  The hand made part was also big for me.  I picture my grandma in a kitchen fixing up some KIND bars just for me.

KIND Bars are made with premium almonds, Brazilian Nuts, walnuts, peanuts, and chunks of all natural fruit held together by honey.  Because fruit and nuts can lower your risk of disease, you can feel great about what you are eating.  There are about 10 different KIND bars.  Plus, they just added KIND PLUS bars with added antioxidants and omega-3s.  The Cranberry Almond flavor looks absolutely delicious.

I tried the Almond & Coconut bar.  If you like coconut and almonds, this is the bar for you.  It tasted like the inside of an Almond Joy candy bar.  I was in heaven.  It was a little crunchier than other bars, but that didn’t bother me.  The honey held it together nicely so it didn’t crumble everywhere and created a nice balance of sweetness.  This particular bar is also gluten free, wheat and dairy free.  Has a good amount of fiber (4grams) and absolutely no trans fat.  There were only 7 ingredients in the whole bar to think about too.  Making label reading short and sweet.  The best part was, I never had any GI upset from it and the fiber also “did it’s job” for my intestines.  Unlike Fiber One, which rips a path through your intestines along the way.

KIND Bars slogan is “Be Kind to your body.  Be Kind to your taste buds.  Be Kind to the world.  It is brought to us by Peaceworks.  A not-only-for-profit company that seeks to foster peace through business.  Just another plus to buying these great snacks. 

Then there’s the downside.  The price.  Of course, something this good doesn’t come cheap.  I paid just under $2 for one bar.  Not a real bargain.  But it was a high quality product.  I am definitely going to look for these at a cheaper price, since $2 a bar is not something I can afford on a regular basis.  I noticed that there are online websites that offer discounts for buying them by the box, so maybe that’s a possibility. 

I am going to be trying some more bars, and I will let you know how they rate.  The next one, I have in my little fingers is a Cranberry Apple Boomi Bar.  I like the name and it also has 4g fiber, is vegetarian and also has 7 ingredients.  We shall see how that rates.  It’s considerably smaller in size, but it might be just as filling.  I’ll keep you updated on my quest for a great nutritious, affordable fiberous snack bar.

Go to fullsize image  If you ever look through the coupon section in your newspaper, you may have seen the ad for a Foot Pad that is supposed to remove toxins from your body.  You simply slap them on your feet and when you wake up from a restful night, you will see the evidence that toxins have been removed because the “after” picture looks dirty.  It states that they were discovered in Japan.  I think they just may have been discovered in a scam lab.

Now, my inquiring mind wants to know if these babies work.  I admit to believing that some questionable health methods (at least questionable to the U.S. conventional medical field) do really work.  I don’t understand though, how these pads can withdraw toxins from your body.  I have not seen them in a store to see the list of active ingredients.  However, it states that they are now available in Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid.  Maybe, I will have to take a closer look at them if I am ever found in one of these stores with extra time and no children.  That’s not too likely to happen either, but we’ll see.

I did find one website that claims they work by using the mineral tourmaline, which is a mineral that claims to release negative ions that have a soothing therapeutic effect on the body.  I asked Tomas about Tourmaline since he is the rock expert in our home.  He said that some minerals do have a negative charge but was unsure as to whether it could be “captured” in a foot pad for use.

This website also states that the foot pad triggers accupressure points on the foot that relax you and help the body release toxins.  Okay, I can believe that relaxation part.  The foot has many, many pressure points to all areas and energy meridians of the body.  I have undergone accupuncture many times, and there are always areas in the foot that are stimulated by the needles.  I have found that to be an enormously effective treatment.

This particular website also states that the pads contain bamboo vinegar, a bunch of herbs and homeopathic ingredients.  Not too much specific information or medical talk to state why these pads are able to draw heavy metals out of your feet.  The fact that they show a dirty looking pad as an after does not convince me of their effectiveness either.  Who wouldn’t have some dirt, sweat and grime stuck to a white cotton pad after it’s been stuck on the bottom of your foot and then in a sock all night?

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I am considering undertaking my own small scale study to see if these babies work.  I am always up for a good non-harmful experiment.  An internet search shows anything from people believing it’s a total scam to people thinking it helped cure them of many symptoms of disease such as arthritis and chronic fatique syndrome.  It’s hard to sort out the good from the bad.  I definitely will have to try these out to see if they work.  Of course, I have to check out how much they cost, but I do have a $2.00 coupon so that should help 🙂  Any thoughts on if they will work or not?

Fruit of pomegranateOh, pomegranate! Oh, pomegranate!
“You are so lovely with your orb like shape and 600 seeds.
Your juice is ripe with flavor and tart.
Your fruit is edible but I am a juice girl at heart.

Served in a cocktail, a cordial or martini.
All are delicious but what I like most is you in green tea.”

Alright folks! Wasn’t that a lovely little diddy? I wrote it myself. I just thought I would mention that because you probably thought it was Yeats or Dickens and were just going to grab your “Poetry 101” book to find this beautiful piece of art. So stop what your book shelf searching, just go to your higher end local grocer or health food store and find yourself some of this tea I speak of.

I have posted before about tea here. I really try to drink a couple large mugs of green tea everyday.  And now that it’s summer, there’s no better drink than some iced green tea while sitting on the back deck.  Now, for the past year I have been hooked on one certain tea.  Pomegranate Green Tea by Yogi Teas.  So yummy!

Here’s why I like it:  Green Tea is light tasting and mixed with the tart pom, it’s so refreshing warm or cold.  Both green tea and pom are packed with antioxidants.  Pomegranate is a “superfruit” which means it’s been recognized “for it’s nutrient richness and antioxidant qualities with appealing taste”. It’s known for it’s positive effects on cardiovascular and skin health.  

Green Tea itself has been studied for some time for it’s amazing health benefits.  Some claim that green tea will slow down neurological diseases such as alzheimers and parkinsons.  More possible healthful benefits include:  improving multiple sclerosis symptoms, neutralizing free radicals in your body which will damage cell membranes, lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol thus improving cardiovascular health, and increasing metabolism (many claims have been made that green tea assists in weight loss).  Plus as an added bonus, the L-Theanine that is present in green teas is a great natural mood enhancer and anxiety reducer.  Drink up and feel the relaxation flow through your body…Ommm…

Pair these two together and you have a health super power.  Having done an internship researching the effects of antioxidants on precancerous cells and free radicals in the body, I am always up for adding more of these powerhouses into my diet.  I have had numerous family members, both immediate and extended, suffer from different forms of cancer and heart disease.  So, I pay particular attention to foods that have these characteristics.  I am tempted to hook it up in an IV and receive large doses at once, but then I couldn’t taste it’s deliciousness. 

Now, I will tell you that I am sure that many tea manufacturers sell this combo.  However, you must buy Yogi Tea.  Not only do they have one of the best tasting green tea (have you ever had green tea that tasted “fishy”?  That is disgusting.), but on every individual tea bag is a little quote of wisdom or inspiration.  That is the best part of it all.  It’s a little warm fuzzy along with some of the best tasting tea EVER!

“Take Good Care of My Babies”

Tweenie’s Greenies:  Tuesday Edition

The greening continues over here.  Little by little we chip away at our once very toxic and wasteful home.  Granted, at times we swing back and forth like a pendulum.  Going from one green extreme at one moment to total wastefulness the other, all to satisfy our whims of convenience.  Overall, we aim for a healthy balance somewhere in the middle.

In looking through our bathroom routines, I have noticed several little items that could easily be “greened”.  It will also save us some more money which is great seeing as how back to school needs are looming.   For some reason, I have concentrated on greening my daily hygeine regimen and not my childrens.  Kind of backwards if you ask me.  Children’s skin is so unadulterated and sensitive.  You would think this would be my first bathroom priority instead of my leathery abused skin.

First place to start:  A thorough wipe does not have to include a whole roll of toilet paper or oodles of premade butt wipes.  Seriously, when did adults get so sissified?  There must be some kind of butt sensitivity evolving in humans.  Suddenly, no one can handle the discomfort of squeezably soft charmin or have forgotten basic wiping with TP 101.  I have never gotten TP burn for normal wiping or had uncontrollabe TP left overs on my underside before now.  These premoistened butt wipes made by Charmin or Scott or any other manufacturer may feel nice and help to avoid “lint build up”.  But couldn’t you just keep a spray bottle of mild natural soap diluted in water nearby to accomplish the same thing?  Try it and see.  Make up a spray bottle of diluted mild soap (just as you would for cleaning diaper butts), lightly spray it directly on your “privates”/bum.  Then wipe.  Or spray it on the TP, then wipe.  You pick.  I will humbly admit that I bought a couple packages of adult/child butt wipes since Anson was potty training but they have made little to no difference in the cleanliness department. Never again! You will be consuming less plastic from wrappers and packaging as well as using less overall petroleum products in your daily habits.  Another wiping suggestion: teach your kiddos to use less TP.  Seriously, you can spare a square.  Anson thinks that you need to use mountains of TP.  He would use half a roll if we let him, but we are saving money and trees by teaching him to only count out a certain number of squares per duty done.

Next, I looked into their bathing habits.  Hmmm…I have quite a few plastic bottles hanging out to possibly be used on the little ones.  There’s shampoos, body washes, lotions,  and powder.  First of all, the powder is not recommended by most pediatricians, even those with cornstarch (avoid talc at all costs due to contamination with asbestos concerns).  Powders can promote bacterial growth and can irritate the lungs when inhaled.  Give those little bums some air time to dry out instead. 

Take a look at that baby wash container.  Do we really need to soap up our babies in oodles of body wash that comes in fancy wasteful plastic packaging?  A mild bar soap and a soft washcloth does the job just as nicely.  “The Green Book” says that if you use bar soap on your baby that the plastic packaging saved would weigh more than two hundred thousand pounds-enough to make a baby bathtub that would cover more than 4 acres.  If you are saying to yourself, “But I recycle the plastic. It’s okay.”  Remember producing the plastic container uses a lot of energy and resources and plastic can only be “down-cycled”.  It will never be able to be recycled at the same quality it is for it’s original use.  Plus, plastic is expensive to recycle.

Baby lotion.  Honestly, I have had the same bottle for 2 years.  I could probably just get rid of it.  My kids have pretty balanced skin and don’t like lotion.  If they get a dry spot here or there, I could simply rub some good old natural aloe vera gel on it instead.  If your baby has really dry skin and lotion is a must have, buy it in a larger container.  It’s less wasteful to buy the lotion in larger quantities.  Try to purchase natural lotions in recycled containers free of parabens, petroleum products and artificial fragrances. 

Finally, in their actual bath, skip the bubble bath.  It’s fun, but the fragrances that often go along with it are often irritating to the little ones.  Plus, you will avoid another plastic bottle purchase.  Cha-ching!!  My other suggestion is to bath as many little ones in one bath as possible.  My kids are all small enough that they can bath together without being traumatized.  Only one tub of water is used for all 3.  We also only use one towel to dry off all 3.  It’s like an assembly line.  This saves me some laundry.  Goodness knows that I don’t need any more laundry!

Hmmm…I can’t think of anything more at the moment.  I will keep you posted if I think of any more “tips” to green the little ones in the bathroom.

 

Go to fullsize imageWell, well, well….I am back from my 4th of July hiatus only to see that blog stats/visits have dropped 3 fold over the holiday.  I hope that’s a temporary thing and not a sign that the bloggy world has suffered some strange alien capture. 

Our vacation was great!  It’s always nice to reconnect with each as a family and see new sites.  I didn’t tell anybody in the bloggy world that we were leaving because I get a little weird about mass numbers of people knowing that my house was empty for any certain length of time.  So, Suprise!  I went on vacation and now I am back!  Ready to rock your world.  I was ready to write a novel last night but a huge power surge ripped through our neighborhood and started the power lines on fire.  Which in turn snapped and started lawns on fire.  Nice toxic smoke filled our ‘hood.  I think we almost died.  Okay, that’s exaggerating but still there’s nothing like some dramatic acts of nature to bring the neighborhood together.  It was a regular block party out on the street.

Speaking of toxic smoke…..if you didn’t catch it, this is my handy intro line to my official post topic.  How often don’t we use that word “toxic”?  Seriously, this word drives Tomas and me crazy.  The media uses it nonstop.  Marketing agencies have clung to it like stink on poop.  It’s used to describe everything from chemicals, to medicines, to chidren’s toys, to band names,  and don’t forget the almighty toxic relationship.  Say it 15 times and see if it makes any sense anymore.  “Toxic, Toxic, Toxic, etc”.  If you say it with the Jan Brady “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” twang it’s more fun. 

The word “toxic” has been so used and misused, that it’s confusing to much of the general population.  If something says “non-toxic”, can we eat it?  If you read something that’s not labelled  “non-toxic”, should you avoid all contact and purchase hazmat gear if you come in a 15 mile radius of it?  Let’s think about this for just a minute.  Come along and join one of the weekly debates at my house. Yes, we are nerds.  But I have always been taught that,  “Nerds will always win in the end.  Nerds rule the world”.

Our trusted resource Mirriam Webster says that the word toxic means: 

1. containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation <toxic waste> <a toxic radioactive gas> <an insecticide highly toxic to birds> 2 : exhibiting symptoms of infection or toxicosis <the patient became toxic two days later> 3 : extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful <toxic sarcasm>

If you go by the first definition anything could be toxic.  Crystal clear spring water could be toxic if consumed in large amounts.  Even to the point of causing death.  If you take into consideration the number of people that die every year from drowning, water is very toxic.  Food is toxic.  Especially any food containing additives or artificial ingredients.  People get cancer, bowel obstructions, and die from choking all the time.  Would we avoid all these the same way we would toys from China covered with lead paint?  Granted that’s an extreme argument, but you get the point. 

So what does it mean for an item to be “non-toxic”?  Since the lead in toy scare this past holiday, mothers especially are desparately concerned with labels and anything indicating that a child’s item could be toxic.  It may come as a surprise to you that many items are labelled non-toxic simply because there is no negative information or safety testing completed for it at the time.  No data could mean “non-toxic”.

What you really need to consider is, that it’s all in the amount of toxic material present in the item.  For example, there is no way to avoid lead completely in your life.  It’s everywhere in small amounts and the same is true for many of the toxic chemicals/minerals that we come into contact with every day.  However, it’s only at a certain level that it becomes dangerous to human health (or the length and frequency of exposure).

And thus we are back to the study of labels that I have talked about previously.  Be warned that just because something is labelled as “non-toxic”, doesn’t mean it is completely safe.  It’s probably safer  than other some other alternatives but you’re not free and clear to bathe in it or eat it in entirety.  From my very limited studies on this, it simply means that if used according to instructions, it is not known to cause any harmful effects on humans or the environment at that exposure/amount.  However, don’t be suckered into thinking that just because going green is the next best thing to sliced bread right now that testing and labelling requirements have tightened.  They have not and probably will not any time soon.  It’s still a fuzzy gray toxic crazy world out there.

Remember, common sense is key.  Moderation and appropriate use and limited exposure to anything is crucial to your overall health.   Also, be sure to read.  Read those labels.  Become familiar with buzz words that are covering up actual ingredients.  Look for short lists of ingredients and avoid the long sonnets of additives.  Research companies and stick with those that have proven non-toxic track records. 

I know I probably mushed your brain if you made it this far.  Nothing in the labelling world is clear cut or straight forward when it comes to this.  If you have suffered an electrical short in the firing of your neurons from taking in this post, have fallen off of your chair, hit your head on the wall and fell into your waiting bubble bath made with all natual, non-toxic soap, only to wake up on the other side, remember this my friend…everything can be toxic.  Even this post.  It’s just how much you absorb that makes the difference. 

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