Corn Tortillas

6/14/2012

 
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Once upon a time I would pick up a package of corn tortillas, toss 'em in the cart and go on my happy way. The first time I checked the ingredients, I sadly came home without corn tortillas. Every package I checked that day had preservatives, and some even included artificial coloring! Now I happily buy my corn tortillas at Trader Joe's and here's the ingredients: Stone Ground Corn, Water and Traces of Lime!
One day I ran out of chips and my salsa was lonely,  so here's my recipe for homemade tortilla chips!


 
 
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Let me start at the beginning. I was conditioning my hair one day and I started reading the shampoo bottle. I had never noticed it before, but the bottom of the bottle stated "PARABEN FREE". I thought, "Hmm, what are parabens?" 
After a quick Google search I came to the conclusion that parabens are not good. After finding this out I decided to look up some of the other ingredients in my shampoo. I'll reiterate, not good. My next thought was to try out some homemade shampoos. It seems every time I've ever tried someone's "homemade" recipe the result is always...not good. Then, I suddenly remembered watching a documentary last year about Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap. Some of the folks were using it to shower, wash their clothes, brush their teeth and...wait for it...as SHAMPOO! If you don't like the classic mint you can buy it in a baby formula, lavender, tea tree, or citrus.  
I have now been using Dr. Bronner's as my shampoo and I'll tell you, it really works for me. I have very difficult, slightly curly, overly frizzy with the wrong shampoo kind of hair. I needed to find a conditioner and I remembered hearing about people using vinegar. I took an old water bottle and filled it with 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water; I use the vinegar 3 to 4 times per week. 
Back to Dr. Bronner's. One day I ran out of laundry detergent. Another day I ran out of hand soap. And another day I was out of my bar soap for my shower. In all instances I just used Dr. Bronner's. This soap is really potent, so a little goes a long way. For the laundry I only used a few squeezes of the bottle. For the hand soap I put just a squirt in the hand soap bottle and filled the rest with water. When I use it on my hair I really only need about a dime sized amount in the palm of my hand. It is made with mint, so when you use it there is a spa-like feel for your senses and a cool sensation on the skin. Amazing and all natural!! I know that things work for some and not for others, but give it a try and if it doesn't work the uses for what you have left are endless!

 
 
peanut butter
Peanut butter makes an appearance in almost every lunch box in my house. I was deciding what to put in my daughter's lunch for the next day (hmmm...how about peanut butter!) and I noticed that there were just a few very small spoonfuls clinging to the side of the container. Unfortunately, it wasn't even enough for half a sandwich. My first thought was to jump in the car and head to the store, but I remembered that we had a five pound bag of peanuts from Costco. I also remembered a wonderful dessert that my husband and I shared at a restaurant recently that was made with homemade peanut butter and ice cream. I decided to give it  a try and here was the result...so delicious!

 
 
Just over a year ago, I decided to stop buying any food with high fructose corn syrup. I never realized how many products contain this instead of cane, or beet sugar. I decided to make the switch, because I had been reading about research that was finding that our bodies process the corn syrup differently than regular sugars. I also watched a documentary showing the process to make the high fructose corn syrup and it looked difficult and dangerous. It made me wonder when the switch was made from sugar to high fructose corn syrup. Did the soda of my youth have a corn sweetener? It seems that Coke began using high fructose corn syrup in the eighties and that is also the time that the use in all products sky rocketed. The good news is that you can still buy Coke with cane sugar! It comes in glass bottles and is made in Mexico. The price is much higher, but I consider soda a treat now, so the extra expense is worth it.
I decided to err on the side of caution and just avoid the high fructose corn syrup. I don't even use table sugar anymore. I like to use raw cane sugar in EVERYTHING. I know this will be a long debate, but why bother when it's something that's so controversial. And, I always remember that too much of any sugar is never a good thing. With obesity on the rise, mostly since the eighties, it just makes me wonder...
 
 
Chicha Morada



I think I finally came up with a combination for the Chicha Morada. Keep in mind that traditional Chicha Morada is made with water and chunks of fruit, but they add a lot of sugar to sweeten it. This version uses only natural fruit juices. Also, be aware that this drink is full of the same antioxidants as red wine, so be cautious around white carpet!
Click here for the recipe.
 

 

What!

5/15/2012

 
I just watched something on the news that I found extremely irritating. A USDA study was just released and it claims that it can be cheaper to eat healthy vs. eating junk food. I'm not sure where they are shopping, but when I've looked around the store it seems to be the opposite. Not too long ago I was complaining to my DH that it was far less to purchase soda compared to a natural fruit juice. The boxed dinner kits, you know the little glove guy, was far cheaper to feed a family than the fresh produce.
But I digress...so the news story had a table full of fresh and processed food. The reporter picked up the bananas and stated the cost was roughly $.19 a piece. She then picked up a name brand chip and said the cost was $.30 a serving. Now, if you're like me, I could not eat bananas all the time and you can easily buy good generic chips and then that would bring the price per serving down drastically. I do know that the fresh produce that I love certainly isn't $.19 a piece. Next, she pulls out some tomatoes and talks about how the box of donuts is far cheaper...aaah haaaa! Far cheaper than a tomato! This study seems a bit off to me. Does anyone remember the $.10 package of ramen noodles that everyone you knew was eating in college?? I suppose if you ate bananas and head lettuce all day then it could be possible to eat for less, but I think I'd prefer to eat an old shoe.
 So, my next question is why is high fructose corn syrup subsidized, but  fresh fruits and veggies aren't? I guess someone will figure that out eventually, or not. ;-)
 

Fruity O's!!!

5/13/2012

 
Oh, how the kids always beg for all the brightly colored foods in the cereal aisle. I was just shopping at Trader Joe's and stumbled upon a cereal that is either a new product, or I had just never noticed it before. It's called Fruity O's and it's a BIG hit! The cereal is sweetened with real sugar, and colored with vegetable powders and spices. I typically reserve the sugary cereals for dessert time, so my little guy was trying to convince me why he should be allowed to have it for breakfast, or anytime. He said, "Well, when we stay at hotels they give you Fruit Loops for breakfast, so I can eat them for breakfast." I replied, "At a hotel the people are very nice, but they aren't exactly looking out for your best interests, or health."  He then said, "But why don't they care about what you eat?" I replied, "It really isn't their responsibility to make sure that you're eating well, and you have to do that for yourself."  After going back and forth a few more times I think he understands that he has to take care of his own health, and of course his Mom will too ;-)
 
 
Have you ever had real fresh homemade fried chicken made by a true Southerner? And by that I mean by someone who doesn't call themselves "The Colonel"! I have and it is goo-oood! I was talking to someone that CAN make a mean fried chicken, but they haven't done so in a long, long time...they get their chicken from a chain restaurant now!
 Of course, being a label reader, I had to check this out. What I found really didn't  surprise me.
This chain chicken has monosodium glutamate, maltodextrin, corn syrup solids and calcium silicate. The calcium silicate is also used as a safe alternative to asbestos for high temperature insulation. Hmm, so good.
Here's a few from the long list of ingredients for the biscuits:
Dimethypolysidoxane, TBHO, "artificial" flavor, and sodium acid pryophosphate.
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about the latter:
Other uses
In leather treatment, it can be used to remove iron stains on hides during processing. It can stabilize hydrogen peroxide solutions against reduction; it can be used with sulfamic acid in some dairy applications for cleaning, especially to remove soapstone. When added to the scalding water, it facilitates removal of hair and scurf in hog slaughter and feathers and scurf in poultry slaughter. In petroleum production, it can be used as a dispersant in oil well drilling kids.
Alright, we put chemicals in our bloodstream to alter the way our body functions. By this I mean medications, which can be helpful to treat problems, although these medications come with their own side-affects. To me it seems that these chemical additives in our food could very possibly be affecting our system in an adverse way.  Who knows...
 
 
My children have been begging me to buy them mouthwash. Every time I'd  go to buy some I would read the label and put it back. I always try to watch what I feed them, so I didn't feel comfortable letting them swish chemicals and artificial dyes around in their mouths. At last I found one that I feel comfortable giving them! We have been using it for several weeks and everyone loves it. It's called The Natural Dentist and you can buy it at Vitacost,  but they carry it at our local Walgreens too. We tried the peppermint  twist and I haven't even had to struggle with the kids to get them to brush their teeth! It has a great flavor and my teeth feel clean with no burning sensation when your done! That's a big plus for me!!
 
 
I was watching a documentary on Netflix about the obesity problem in America. There was a scene with a mother and daughter discussing their difficulties with losing weight and their health problems that go along with it. They were sitting at a kitchen table talking about their struggles and I watched in disbelief as they pulled out a bottle of some sort of creamy dressing and then used a LONG squirt on a HUGE bowl of salad! This was the entire dinner! As she's squeezing the bottle I'm pleading in my head, "Pick up the bottle! Pick it up and read the label please, pleeeeeease!" I have picked up those bottles and read the label...EDTA, artificial ingredients(??), monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate...guany-what? How does our body know how to process this stuff?
I don't know how many times in my life I've heard people say, "I'm not eating rabbit food." Eating well doesn't have to mean sitting around eating lettuce all day. You just need a variety of "nutrient dense" foods. This is a term I learned recently and I've been throwing it around a lot lately ;-)
I have to admit, I do like salad, but I rarely eat it. When I do, I usually pour a little olive oil, squeeze on a little lemon or lime and throw on a pinch of salt. Yum! The first time I tried it I couldn't believe how something so, so simple could taste so, so good! Sometimes the simplest things ARE the best things.
 
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