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A Habenero in the hand is worth two on the bush.

A Habenero in the hand is worth two on the bush.

I guess I’ve become a Real Food Evangelist of sorts. It seems so important for people to wake up and smell the organic, fair trade coffee. Seems I’m not alone in tilting at the grow-your-own-food-and-stop-eating-junk windmill (reference to Don Quixote for those of you who are over 25 and not exposed to much literature (sigh).

I just watched a Ted Talks from an exceptional man who decided to do something about the blight in South Central Los Angeles. I was in tears of joy after watching it. There is hope. There are more of us who want to take back control of our lives, health, and happiness–and it IS possible.

Watch: Ron Finley, Guerilla Gardener

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This a really good article that raises questions about how dumbed down our children are in danger of becoming.

eve's apple

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Skimming through my 1924 Hallowe’en party book (written back when they still threw in the apostrophe), I’m struck by all of the activities people did by hand. The book offers hosts and hostesses ideas such as cracking whole walnuts, removing the nuts within, slipping a fortune inside and gluing the shell back together; making homemade cakes and hiding more fortunes within; and setting up tubs for apple bobbing. Water, paper, mud, flour, paste—all are liberally applied in the projects provided. It’s clear the author assumed people would put their hands in stuff and think little of it.

I’m also amazed at how fearless it seems earlier generations were. In 1924—long before the advent of the Sharpie marker—instructions direct hostesses to heat the point of a knitting needle over hot coals and burn it into walnut shells to make facial features; to poise chestnuts at the tips of knives, then give…

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OMG Blood Orange Marmalade

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Blood Orange

blood-orangesMarmalade is a preserve made from citrus fruit, especially oranges. It has a long history. The Romans discovered from the Greeks that Quinces cooked over a slow fire with honey would gel when cooled. The word marmalade comes from the greek word for apple.

In the Byzantine empire, popular marmalades were made from quince, lemon, rose, apple, plum, and pear. In Medieval France, cotignac marmalade was made from quince.

Henry VIII received a gift of a “box of marmalade.” The letter with it said, “I have sent to your lordship a box of marmaladoo, and another unto my good lady your wife.”

The word “marmalade” first appeared in print in the English language in 1480.

No matter how it came about, marmalade is one of the polarizing foods. Some people love the sweet/bitter contrast. Others hate it. I love it. However, the marmalade that comes in the little tubs in restaurants and the commercial marmalade made by big food factories is a pitiful imitation of the real thing. Real, home-made marmalade is rich and silky with chewy bits of fruit. It explodes on your tongue with flavor. It is to be savored and adored.

Since Seville oranges, the fruit of choice for orange marmalade, are scarce where I live, I decided to try my hand at what I had: Blood Oranges.

My blood orange tree finally blessed me with a crop of beautiful, dark-red, sweet and juicy fruit. I made marmalade. I also made marmalade and blood orange liquor. I’ll share the recipe soon. It’s still brewing.

marmalade

MMMMMM MMMMMM Good!

Here is the recipe for marmalade. Continue reading

Boo Gobble Gobble Ho Ho Ho

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christmas-tree-and-childrenIt’s close to Christmas season, again. After my mother passed away, I didn’t have a desire to celebrate this. I found myself, instead, drawn to being a part of this annual ritual called Christmas, or Yule, or Solstice in a more personal way and didn’t give much thought to peace on earth and goodwill toward men, or angels on high, attended church, or watched for Santa.

I have rediscovered Christmas but in a different way. For me, Christmas is not about obligatory gift-giving. It’s about connecting with others from the heart. So, for many years now, I have given the gift I do best—good food. I cook my fingers to the bone and love every minute of it. I’m always filled with happiness when I see my friends stuffing themselves with my gift of tasty food to titillate their taste buds. Continue reading

Turkey Day At Last

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I don’t often celebrate holidays. They always seem a little silly. But Thanksgiving has a deeper meaning for me. Giving thanks is a worthwhile thing to do. It is, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, something healthy and rewarding and something we do too little of.

To focus on what we have instead of what is wrong in the world, even for a little while can do great things in our lives. Unless, of course, like many people, Thanksgiving is turned into another high-stress, guilt-laden obligation to be nice to people you really don’t like, or a competition over who can give the best meal or set the fanciest table. Anger, resentment, and frustration don’t mix well with “giving thanks.”

We celebrate Thanksgiving with others we invite into our lives. I would NEVER, for example invite my relatives. Those I care about are either too far away or dead. Those I don’t like, I don’t include in my life. I’m sure they are glad of it, too. After all, they don’t invite me to their things, either. SMILE.

So, anyway, this year, some of my usual guests could not be here on Thanksgiving due to their family issues. So Sad, but I wish them well. We are having two beautiful souls as guests that we have not known long but have enjoyed. He is a musician who plays the Native American Flute with a magical touch, and his fiance. They are delightful people and I am overjoyed to share our Thanksgiving with them.

As many of you know, I have a neurotic need to cook everything from scratch. Fortunately I have my husband, Allen, and ex-hubby/best friend, David to help. Allen is making pumpkin pies from the pumpkins we grew. He is in charge of the turkey and cleaning most of the house. David is doing the mashed potatoes, and maybe the cranberry sauce. I am roasting broccoli and brussel sprouts with chilis, garlic, and butter. I am also making a pecan pie. Plus, we will be serving the amazing chunky applesauce that David and I made after our run to the apple orchards in Oak Glen, CA.

Good food, good wine, good friends. What more could anyone ask for on this special day. I hope yours is as wonderful as you want it to be.

Here is the recipe for my Pecan Pie. It is out of this world great. Not just a layer of broken pecans on top. This puppy has pecans all the way down. It is sweet, but not overly so. It has a light texture with crunchy pecans and a bit of chewiness. Triple YUM.

Anita’s Pecan Pie  

with Low Sugar Options

Anita’s Deep Dish Pecan PieAdapted from Cook’sCountry Oct/Nov 2009

Ingredients

1  2 crust pie crust (homemade or bought)

1 1/4 cup  maple Syrup , or substitute agave nectar with 1 1/2 tsp Maple extract

1 cup light brown sugar, or substitute Splenda and one tablespoon Barley Malt syrup.

1 tablespoon Molasses or Barley Malt Syrup

3/4 cup heavy cream

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 + pinch teaspoon salt

7 large egg yolks, beaten

2 cups whole pecans, toasted

2 tablespoons rum or whiskey

Method

1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Adjust oven rack to lowest position.

2. Take 3/4 of the pie dough and roll out to fit a deep dish pie pan. Line pie pan, crimp edges. Chill. Roll out extra dough and with a cookie cutter of your choice (I used acorns), cut out shapes. Place on a plate, cover with plastic and chill.

3. Filling: In a saucepan, heat, over medium heat,  maple or agave (with extract) syrup, brown sugar or Splenda/barley malt syrup, cream, and molasses or barley malt syrup. Stir until all ingredients are mixed and any sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.

4. remove from heat and let cool five minutes. Whisk in salt, butter, then egg yolks. Stream egg yolks while beating to avoid cooking them. Cool another 10 minutes.

5. Pour pecans into chilled pie shell. Carefully pour filling over pecans. Decorate the top of the pie with the cut outs.

6. Place pie on a cookie sheet. Put into the oven on the lowest rack. IMMEDIATELY reduce oven to 325° F.

7. Bake until pie is set and center jiggles slightly when shaken, about 45 to 60 minutes.

8. Cool pie on rack for 1 hour then in refrigerator until set, about 3 hours or overnight.  Bring to room temperature before cutting.

Source: Anita Burns (adapted from Cook’s Country Oct/Nov 2009

No Rubbery Reconstituted Eggs and Air Bread! Only Really Good Breakfast.

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At our Joshua Tree Healing Retreat this year, we added a new cook – Laura Darms. She was the Breakfast Guru. And what a masterful job she did. Our regular cooks, Lisa and Nancy also did great and wonderful things, but I want to share my favorite – Feta and Spinach Frittata.

A Frittata Breakfast

A Fritatta is like a quiche, but even better, no crust, and easier to fix. It’s an Italian word that means to fry, even though Frittatas aren’t fried. It’s kind of like an open-faced omelette, only easier to make and, I think, more delicious.

Frittatas are started on the stove to cook the veggies, then the eggs are added and the whole thing is popped into the oven.
When done, they are sliced up like a pizza. DELISH!!!

It is light, fluffy, flavorful, and I couldn’t get enough. I could have eaten the whole pan myself. Fortunately, there were 25 other people there with spoons out to prevent me from grabbing the pan and running to my room.

It’s easy to fix and can be made for a few or a giganto crowd with little trouble.

See the recipe here: http://www.anitasrealfood.com/breakfast-(2).html

Let me know how you like it. I’ll pass on the praise to Laura.

Real Food U, Part 3 – Sugar

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anitasrealfood.com
White, granulated sugar is exactly what it is advertised to be—a pure, white source of quick energy.  It lacks vitamins, fats, minerals, proteins or any other nutrient except calories and carbohydrates.  It gives quick energy because eating it stimulates the pancreas and adrenal glands into over-production of insulin.  The insulin rushes in to control the sugar, then blood sugar plummets and you are left more tired than you were before.

Sugar is most commonly made from beets or sugar cane.  To make cane sugar the beautiful white granular product we are so familiar with, the canes are crushed, shredded, and pressed through heavy rollers to extract the cane juice.  The remaining cane fiber is used to make paper or wallboard.

Cane juice is clarified and concentrated by boiling it into a thick syrup.  It is then poured into a basket that spins, creating a force that crystalizes some of the syrup.  The liquid that doesn’t crystalize, is thrown out through the holes in the basket.  This liquid is molasses.

The crystals are known as raw sugar.  For white granular sugar, the crystals are washed and dissolved into a water syrup.  It is then filtered to remove impurities (including any vitamins or minerals) and color. The sugar is put into vacuum pans and crystalized by boiling, washing. and spinning in a centrifuge machine.  This process is repeated until  the sugar is white and granular.  It is then dried, screened and packaged. Beets undergo a similar process to create beet sugar.
According to Septhan Guyenet and Jeremy Landen, Whole Health Source, sugar consumption in the United States went from around 10 pounds per person a year in 1822, to well over 100 pounds per person annually in 2005.

Although less table sugar is being used, sugar is in nearly every processed food.  It may be listed as sugar, sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup, fructose or natural flavoring.  Sugar is even an ingredient in some salt!

Sugar in large quantities throws the body into insulin shock and robs it of essential vitamins and minerals. Sugar has been linked with diabetes, hypoglycemia, heart disease, migraine headaches, allergies, hyperactive children, mental retardation, arthritis and rheumatoid conditions, tooth decay and obesity.  But because it tastes good, billions of people all over the world are gobbling it up in greater and greater quantities. A top culprit in sugar content is soft drinks. A 12-ounce A&W Root Beer has 46.5 grams of sugar. Inca Kola has 52 grams of sugar per 16 ounces. Moutain Dew is 47 grams of sugar per 12 ounces. Cocal Cola Classic is 39 grams per 12 ounces. See Energy Fiend for sugar content in other sodas.

Sugar does its damage so slowly that the victim rarely becomes aware of it until it is too late to reverse the harm.  The 100+ pounds of sugar a year per person translates into more than 30 teaspoons of sugar per day for each person in the United States.  But, there are many people who eat little or no sugar at all.  This means that the average American may be eating closer to 250 to 300 pounds per year.  The following illustrates how easy it is to eat more than the average amount of sugar each day.

 

A typical daily diet might consist of:
BREAKFAST:


A glass of sweetened canned or frozen juice; cereal that is either pre-sweetened or sugared at the table; toast, muffins or waffles with jam, jelly, or maple flavored syrup; coffee or tea with sugar or and non-dairy creamer.
Breakfast:  About 10 teaspoons of sugar

 

MIDMORNING SNACK:
A doughnut or Danish pastry washed down by a sweetened cup of coffee or tea.
Midmorning snack:  About 6 teaspoons of sugar

LUNCH:
Canned vegetable soup, a ham sandwich with pickle, followed by apple pie and soft drink, all of which contain sugar.
Lunch: About 8 teaspoons of sugar

MID AFTERNOON SNACK:
A candy bar or doughnut.
Mid afternoon snack:  About 16 teaspoons sugar

DINNER:
More sugar than ever may be consumed. A before dinner cocktail, salad with  dressing,  meat with canned or dry gravy mix, hot rolls or biscuits, and dessert.
Dinner: About 14 teaspoons sugar

TOTAL: 80 TEASPOONS SUGAR
Up to eighty teaspoons of sugar can easily be eaten in a day.  This is a conservative figure for it doesn’t include treats such as milkshakes, sundaes, ice cream cones, energy bars, snack cookies, or sodas.

It is difficult to avoid sugar if you eat the typical western diet because it is in almost everything — in copious quantities.  Sugar is consumed in coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, soft drinks, ice cream, breads, cakes, candy, cookies, cereals, salad dressings, jams, jellies, sandwich spreads, luncheon meats, sausage, hot dogs, canned soups, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, frozen dinners, cheeses, snack chips, yogurt, juices, ketchup, peanut butter, boxed dinners and helpers, tobacco, medicines, toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamins  pickles, alcohol, chewing gum, and on and on!
Experiments have shown that sugar is addicting. There have been a lot of studies on this. One article in Psychology Today spells it out pretty clearly, as does Princeton University.

Even when sugar is eaten with a healthy diet the extra 450 to 500 calories a day are stored as fat. In addition, sugars increase triglycerides in the blood. Triglycerides are a form of fat found in the blood that provides us with energy. A high sugar diet, according to the Mayo Clinic, can lead to heart problems.

The mineral chromium has been found to be an important factor in metabolizing sugar.  See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17506119 for information on one study. Chromium supplements have proven helpful to some diabetics and hypoglycemics and it reduced blood cholesterol levels in experimental animals. Refined sugar has almost no chromium (3 parts per billion). Perhaps this is one of the reasons the body doesn’t use it well.

An extremely refined carbohydrate, sugar disrupts your metabolic system.  Sugar gives energy without nutrition. To utilize large doses of sugar and restore chemical balance, your body robs its cells of calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium and possibly chromium.  In the end the pancreas and adrenal glands are exhausted from overwork.

If your body is already in a state of crises because of poor diet, it may not be able to convert sugar into energy, so lactic acid residues accumulate in the brain and nervous system. When this happens, oxygen cannot get to those cells and they die. There are current studies showing that a diet high in sugar may be one cause of Alzheimer’s. Some researchers are labeling Alzheimer’s Diabetes type 3 and stating that refined sugar has a role in creating it. Here is an interesting article talking about it: http://olsonnd.com/the-alzheimers-and-sugar-connection

Complex carbohydrates like those in whole foods (potatoes, brown rice, vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, seeds) are digested, converted to glucose and carried through the bloodstream to the pancreas.  The pancreas then produces insulin which creates energy.  Excess complex sugar is stored in the liver. When your body becomes hungry (needs fuel), the level of sugar in the body drops to restore balance. Next, the liver converts some of its stored sugar (glycogen) back into glucose to be carried by the bloodstream.

With refined sugar there is no “digesting.”  It goes straight into the bloodstream. Over the course of human development, we humans have developed the ability to handle diluted sugars like complex carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables. Using the body as a refined carbohydrate garbage dump causes enormous distress. Sugar may be one of the leading causes (along with alcohol, tobacco, and stress) of high blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

Another serious problem with sugar is its effect on teeth (http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/548toothdecay.html). Cavity causing mouth bacteria multiply like an explosion in the presence of sugar.  They produce an acid that eats into teeth.  Avoiding refined sugar along with limiting other refined carbohydrates such as white flour, will almost eliminate tooth decay.

Most prehistoric people and societies cut off from modern dietary choices don’t have cavity problems. See http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/05/28/2244461.htm for a good discussion on this. As long as the contemporary basic cultures consume their traditional diets, they are free of most dental and medical problems. However, as soon as they begin to eat a western diet of highly refined carbohydrates, they become victims of rampant tooth decay, tuberculosis, dental abscesses, and in succeeding generations, narrowing of the face, crowded teeth, mouth breathing, cancer, club foot, birth defects, painful childbirth, increased crime and arthritis.

Other Kinds of Refined Sugar
Sugars come in more than one form and although there are beliefs about “natural” sugars being better for us, this notion has been challenged by some researchers.

Maple Syrup
Maple syrup has some nutrients but it lacks fiber.  Maple syrup is the boiled sap of sugar maple trees, so it is a refined product.  Because it is expensive, some manufacturers use formaldehyde pellets in the maple tree tap holes to kill the bacteria which retards the flow of sap.  The formaldehyde dissolves slowly into the sap.
Maple syrup producers are not required to list formaldehyde on the product label.  However, Vermont has banned its use. Formaldehyde harms the trees by diminishing their ability to use their natural bacteria to heal the tap hole wounds.  If this bacteria is killed by formaldehyde the trees are vulnerable to disease.  Many manufacturers  will state on the product label if it is free from formaldehyde.

Maple syrup has an almost cult-like appeal to some health advocates. Unlike refined cane or beet sugar, maple syrup has some nutrients. It is quite complex. It contains mostly carbohydrates, but also choline, pantothenic acid, niacin, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium. See http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/5602/2 for a more detailed list.

Honey
The arguments both for and against honey have been raging for a long time with no sign of agreement from either side.  Honey is about 80% simple sugars (fructose and glucose) and about 20% vitamins and minerals, with some trace elements.  Darker honey is higher in nutrients than the popular light golden variety. One tablespoon of honey has about 64 calories, 17.3 grams carbohydrates, .1 gram protein, .002 mg B1, .014 mg B2, .004 mg B6, .001 mg folic acid, .1 mg niacin, .04 mg pantothenic acid, 1 mg sodium, 1 mg phosphorous, 11 mg potassium, 1 mg calcium, .1 mg iron, .6 mg magnesium, .008 mg copper, .006 mg manganese, .016 mg zinc. Some nutrition experts say that raw, unfiltered, comb honey has beneficial elements unknown to traditional science.  See http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/5568/2 for more details on the nutrients in honey.

Some honey advocates claim that natural, wild honey is a miracle food.  Pure, untreated honey is cloudy, dark gold or amber, with a residue of pollen at the bottom of the jar.  Because bees are extremely sensitive to pesticides, infected bees usually die before reaching the hive. This means that honey is relatively free of toxic poisons.  Unfortunately pesticides are creating a crisis in the bee population.

According to Dr. D.C. Jarvis who wrote “Folk Medicine”  honey is the sweetener easiest on the kidneys. His research recorded hay fever and sinusitis cures using natural honey.  The easy effect on the kidneys is probably because it is digested slowly into the system (raw honey only).  The hay fever cures may be because the pollen in the honey causes desensitization.  The late Dr. Paavo Airola said that honey increases calcium retention in the body, prevents nutritional anemia, is good for kidney and liver disorders, colds, poor blood circulation, and complexion problems.

Jars of honey found in Egyptian tombs have been opened and the honey was as good as new.  Honey contains propolis (an antibiotic) that will help heal a cut or wound and soothe some rashes.  Some famous beauties claim honey as a facial treatment will help keep a youthful skin.  This is probably because honey attracts moisture and kills bacteria.  Recently researchers have investigated claims by beekeepers that honey and bee stings are helpful in curing arthritis. See http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=50602 for a good discussion of this.

One point on which honey many advocates agree is that the honey is only good from hives where bees have been allowed to live naturally, and not robbed of all their honey then fed sugar-water all winter. The honey you eat or use should be unheated, unfiltered, and kept at room temperature.  According to some honey-ites, honey  is better when left in the comb.

Because of honey’s moisture attracting properties, it helps baked foods retain freshness.  Honey is sweeter than sugar so when using it in cooking, substitute 1/2 to 3/4 cups honey to 1 cup sugar and reduce liquid ingredients slightly.
Honey protagonists claim that honey is just liquid sugar with little food value, and that all honeys, natural or adulterated, are identical. Who is right?  Probably no one can answer that. Health conscious people will usually opt for nature-made over human-tampered food, but there is no scientific proof either way about honey.
Vegetarians who are ethically motivated may want to be careful. Some honey producers rob their hives of honey, then kill the colonies, restocking each season with new bees.

Some vegans will not eat honey because it is an animal product.

Molasses
Molasses is a by-product of sugar refining. Blackstrap is the strongest tasting and contains the most nutrients. Barbados molasses is made for its own sake rather than taken from sugar refining left-overs. It is lighter and mellower in taste than the other types of molasses and slightly more nutritious. One tablespoon blackstrap molasses contains about 3.2 mg iron, a few B vitamins and small amounts of sodium, calcium, and potassium.

Some people say that molasses is as bad for the body as refined sugar, while others claim that it is a miracle-food with healing properties. Decide for yourself whether your body can use molasses in a positive way. Here is a good discussion of molasses’ health benefits http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=118&tname=foodspice

Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is simply white refined sugar with a little molasses added. It is nearly as bad for you as regular, white sugar.

Raw Sugar
Raw sugar, turbanado sugar, unrefined sugar are sugars that have not been completely stripped of their molasses.

NUTRITION COMPARISON  ONE CUP
This is a compilation from a variety of sources and an approximation of the nutrients found in the following sugars. The nutrients will vary by season, processing method, geographical location for the raw materials, farming methods, and brand.

So after all that, I have to confess that I don’t live sugar-free. I indulge sometimes in ice cream or a slice of really good pie, although I did lead a sugar-free life for about eight years. It wasn’t easy. Now I am a little more tolerant but am a fanatic label reader.

The goal is not to live a sugar-deprived life. As Yoda might say, no sweets leads to stress. Stress leads to sickness. Sickness leads to . . . well you get the idea.

In a future blog, I will tackle the sugar substitute issue. That is a really interesting topic. Think diet sodas help you keep the weight off? According to a lot of experts, they only make us fatter.

For more on good eating, go to anitasrealfood.com.

India’s Healing Secret – Satya’sChai Tea

Here in Southern California, Chai Tea is really popular. It’s not a new drink, though, it goes back at least 5,000 years to the courts of Siam and India. One theory is that a king created it in his search for a healing tea. It has been used since in India’s medical tradition—Ayurveda.

Is it a healing tea? Possibly, but probably only if it is home made. The main ingredient is black tea.

Black tea is rich in antioxidants that has been found to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It seems that everyday, a new healing property is discovered about black tea, including heart health and cancer prevention.  Continue reading

Eat Your Heart Out, Campbells

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I love tomato soup. Whenever I get sick, I crave tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Yes, I know that is sick and twisted. I don’t care. However, since my rededication to Real Food I thought it a conflict to continue eating canned tomato soup of a brand starting with “C.” From their marketing, you would think that their soup is as natural as a summer breeze. Not so. The ingredients, according to livestrong.com are:

In order of quantity – tomato puree (they don’t say organic, so probably GMO and pesticide loaded), water, high fructose corn syrup (egad!), wheat flour (why?), salt: 480 mg per serving, or 1200 per prepared can. Why so much? (HOLY COW), vegetable oil (they don’t say what kind, so it is suspect), flavoring (very mysterious).

It also contains 12 grams of sugar per serving (multiply by 2.5 for the whole prepared can). Snickers only has 30 grams of sugar, so a can of C’s tomato soup is almost as full of sugar as a candy bar. BTW, 1 teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams. That means that C puts 7.5 teaspoons of sugar into each can.

So, here’s what I did. I made my own Tomato Soup. I canned mine with a pressure canner. If you don’t have one, you can jar it and freeze it. My recipe made 8 pints.

Continue reading

Real Food U – Making Super Hero Choices, Part 2 Dairy

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Dairy

Are dairy products good food for humans? That is a big controversy that has been raging for some time among foodies. There is one theory of eating for your blood type that espouses milk for some blood types but not others. That leaves me out because I don’t know my blood type.

Some cultural groups have been drinking milk for thousands of years. Others, like many Asians, never developed the necessary enzyme needed to digest the lactose in milk. This enzyme is present in all humans as infants but in cultures where dairy is not a part of the normal diet, it normally disappears when the child is taken off the mother’s milk.

Cow’s milk is the most common dairy that we drink, but humans all over the world drink milk from a variety of animals such as goats, camels, buffalo and mares.

Goat milk closely resembles mother’s milk. Its proteins are better balanced. Some people claim that it is the best milk to drink for health.

 

Goat’s Milk compared to Cow’s Milk:

  • Is higher in total fat
  • Is higher in medium chain triglycerides
  • Causes fewer allergic reactions because of the protein structure
  • Is easier to digest because of a lack of agglutinin (as in cow’s milk), lower levels of alpha-s1-casein, and smaller fat globules.
  • Has lower carbohydrates
  • Has higher vitamin A, B3 and B6, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, and antioxidants.

The only problem with goat’s milk, for me is that unless it is from really clean goats and is very fresh, it often tastes like goat’s smell. Maybe I’m just a prima donna, though and need to get over myself.

Although milk is probably not healthy for all adults, for those who can handle it, milk from whichever animal it pours from, can be a healthy and nutritious.

One cup of whole cow’s milk contains”

159 calories
11.4 grams carbohydrates
8.5 grams protein
5.07 grams saturated fat
2.65 grams unsaturated fat
33 mg cholesterol
350 IU vitamin A
093 mg B1, .395 mg B2, .102 mg B6, .871 mg B12, 5 mcg biotin, .012 mg folic acid
.205 mg sodium
228 mg phosphorus,
351 mg potassium
291 mg calcium
.12 mg iron
33 mg magnesium
.5 mg copper
.005 mg manganese
3.17 mcg selenium
.93 mg zinc.

Unfortunately most milk is no longer a Real Food. It is Pasteurized and homogenized.  Pasteurization was invented to kill potentially harmful bacteria in milk. Milk is Pasturiized in a lot of different ways:

  • High heat—about 161 degrees for 15 seconds.
  • Low heat—145 F for 30 minutes.
  • Flash—very high heat for 3-15 seconds.
  • Irradiation—Milk is exposed to gamma rays
  • Ultra-High heat—280-302 F for 1-2 seconds then packaged in airtight containers. Can be  stored without refrigeration for 90 days.

Although I am in the “raw milk” camp, there are a lot of myths about Pasteurization that should be noted. It does not reduce the nutritional value. It does not cause lactose intolerance. It is not associated with milk allergies. It does not kill ALL the enzymes in milk.

However, there are some who believe that Pasteurization causes more harm than good and a clean dairy with healthy cows is all that is needed to prevent disease.

I know, this is a touchy subject and we could go back and forth for-EVER and no one would be convinced that the other is right. Sort of like the McCoys and Hatfields.

One belief about why Pasteurization is bad is that some bacteria survive and because the balance of bacteria in the milk is upset, the remaining organisms multiply at a fantastic rate of speed. By the time the milk reaches the shelves it can be contaminated with high amounts of harmful bacteria such as coliform.

Although I have read this claim in numerous places, I haven’t found any real evidence that this is true. Maybe it’s just one of those “secret” things? Or it could just be false.

Some people believe that Pasteurization also produces a milk that is extremely difficult to digest because the tampering with the protein molecules collapse and tangle, making it nearly impossible to digest properly. Longer heating of the  milk would solve this problem, for then the protein molecules would completely break down and separate into divided amino acids, actually helping the digestion.

Pasteurized milk often causes constipation, but raw milk rarely does.  Boiled milk is easily digested and assimilated. Boiling milk also sterilizes it. People in India, who have been using raw milk for thousands of years, boil it before using it. So do the Swiss.  Moreover, boiling milk does not greatly alter its nutritional value.

I believe that pure, raw milk from healthy, organically fed cows is safe and healthy to drink. Unfortunately raw milk is impossible to get in most cities. If you can get it, some people thing it is a good idea to take the safeguard of boiling it.

So the jury is out about Pasteurized milk. My beef  (no pun intended) is more with homogenization.

Since raw milk is available where I live but costs a king’s ransom, I usually opt for Trader Joe’s organic Cream at the Top milk. It is Pasteurizedc, but not homogenized.

Homogenized milk is a more serious problem in my mind, and I’m not alone in this. Many medical researchers feel that homogenized milk is one of the main causes of atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Homogenization breaks down the fat globules so the cream no longer separates and rises to the top. This process releases a normally bound enzyme called xanthine oxidase.  This enzyme destroys chemicals in the body that normally protect the arteries.

In countries like India where milk is routinely boiled, heart disease is substantially less prevalent. I know, that’s not a scientific study but there are a number of studies showing a correlation between homogenization and heart disease. Some of these are cited on: http://www.realmilk.com/homogenization.html

Boiling destroys xanthine oxidase. I believe that boiling any milk other than raw from healthy, organically fed cows is the best way to consume it.

Other forms of milk, such as white cheeses without preservatives, kefir, yogurt and buttermilk are, for those people who are not lactose intolerant, wonderful foods for our body. Many long-lived, healthy people come from traditions in which cultured milks are the mainstay of their diets.

Yogurt is one of the oldest foods known to man. Nobel Prize winner Elie Metchnikoff believes that the long-lived people of Bulgaria owe their health to the large amounts of yogurt they eat.

Cultured milks are easily digested. Culturing milk decreases its amount of vitamin B12 but increases the folic acid content. Calcium, phosphorus and iron are easier to absorb from yogurt than from milk.

Cultured (probiotic) dairy products are beneficial to the intestines. They inhibit the harmful bacteria that cause diarrhea, intestinal infection, and flatulence. Cultured milks can benefit people who have harmed their intestinal flora by taking antibiotics.

Many people cut down on dairy products because of a fear from ingesting too much cholesterol. This is another one of those battleground debates. Some people say that milk does not increase our blood cholesterol. Others say it does. Some people cite studies that show milk, especially cultured milk, can actually help lower blood cholesterol levels. There’s a lot of buzz lately about milk helping us actually lose weight.

Although cheese is a nutritious food, many cheeses are high in fat. Two 1″ cubes of cheddar cheese contains 11.8 grams of fat. Cheese is a source of calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin.

As an advocate for Real Food, I am a fan of cheese, but I am choosy. No Velveeta or American cheese-type-food, or cheese that squirts from a can. Good cheese is not dyed or preserved.

People have been drinking milk, eating yogurt and other cultured dairy products, and eating cheese for a very, very long time. In my book, that qualifies as Real Food. Maybe it’s just the modern tampering with dairy that renders it so problematic. I don’t have the answers for everyone. In my never-to-be-humble opinion, dairy is great if you aren’t lactose intolerant. It is Real Food when it is in its traditional form.

For more about Real Food, see my website at anitasrealfood.com

Tell me your tales of dairy – milk to cheese, ice cream to kefir. What do you think?