Thursday, March 29, 2012

British Study: Thyme is Effective Against Acne

I have known that the essential oils in natural herbs can effectively kill bacteria, but it's nice to see and share independent studies that support that. After reading this article on, I decided to see if I could find any recipes for a homemade cream using thyme. I happened upon a site called, "All Natural Beauty" which had a page with recipes for skin and hair care. There are all different kinds, but one I really liked was the Fennel and Thyme toner. I plan to try it with fennel and thyme from my own garden. It would be nice to avoid the extra, unhealthy, and potentially allergy-inducing ingredients that are in so many over-the-counter products. I believe that there are other factors that play into having good, clear skin such as proper diet and exercise. If you have more information that is helpful, please feel free to share it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Say Heck No to GMO

The message I want to share with you today is from I've read about the hazards of Monsanto's "Roundup" and the Genetically Modified food crops they are engineering to be able to survive its application. You can get more complete details here. It is frightening, and as I look to the health defects and issues my kids have, I feel so TOTALLY helpless to change what is.

Several times over the past few months and I have made an effort to begin to switch to organic foods. But it's hard out here where we live. Not only is there limited access to organics at the nearest stores (WalMart & Smith's), but our home is directly next to a field that is subleased to a local farming business, and which is then subleased to some guy who usually lets his crop rot in the field, perhaps preferring to take the government subsidy for a "failed" crop? It is tilled, planted and generously sprayed with heaven knows what. Probably whatever's cheapest. They have no long-term interest in the health of the land they are renting. In some ways I feel bad for the farmers. I understand that farming in today's world is no picnic. It's hard to make a living. It's expensive to do it in a way that is healthy. And I believe farmers are fed untrue information about the safety of the chemicals and genetically modified seed they are sold. I think outright lies are told. So, in the case of a double-subleased field, it's easier to just go with the flow.

But why switch to organic? Dr. Mercola makes a case for it being the only way to get environmental assassins like Monsanto out of the Roundup and GMO business. Organic foods do not support that chemical-dependent cycle. They don't pay fees and royalties that support the GMO system. They don't depend on those chemicals for a successful farming practice. A great video about that can be found here. It was free for a while, but it's totally worth supporting with a purchase of $15.

So. How to shop GMO-free? Is it more than simply buying organic? Dr. Mercola has published a Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help with that. It is also available as an iPhone app. Go to the app store and search "ShopNoGMO".

Related Videos
All about the problems with Herbicides and GMO's

Friday, March 9, 2012

Backyard Sweepstakes to enter

Occasionally I post links to cool sweepstakes I find so that you can enter too...Here's one I'm really hoping for. My kids have always wanted a swingset, and I would love the raised bed garden to help with our goal of organic eating.

You can enter here

Friday, March 2, 2012

Organic Food, Why I'm Going There

I recently saw the following video on that both inspired and horrified me. The inspiration part came from seeing what some farmers are doing to create polyculture on their farms while maintaining a healthy growing environment and providing food that is healthy for you. The horrifying part was seeing the way mass industry grows and produces the meat that I've been eating nearly every day for years. The video is free to view until tomorrow, so hurry on over and see why eating and living organic matters.

In addition, as you probably know (if you've ever visited this site before), my husband and I have a child with severe food allergies. I saw this video posted to Facebook today and ended up transfixed while my kids were supposedly getting ready for school without my help. I find it highly interesting the kinds of research Robyn O'Brien cites about the years in which the new genetically engineered proteins were introduced into our food system. There has been an explosion of disease since that time...from autoimmune, to food allergies, to rising rates of cancer here in the United States. The foreign proteins are so ubiquitous that they almost can't be avoided, even by the most conscientious of customers. One bit of information that I found particularly interesting was that it was in 1994 our milk supply started containing these foreign proteins (do to soy-based feed for livestock), not to mention high levels of anti-biotics. That was the year I left the country and served a mission in Portugal. When I returned from Portugal in 1995, I immediately started having severe reactions to milk and any dairy product. A doctor would have called it Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but now I can't help but wonder if it was simply an adverse reaction to the "new" milk proteins and chemical cocktail that my American food source contained. Robyn O'Brien gives more detailed explanation of what happened in this video:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Allergy Eats! Utah Food and Allergy Network's Online Restaurant Guide -- and App!

What a great resource these guys are providing! You've got to govisit and click on "Blog" then scroll down the right column until you see "Allergy Eats Restaurant Guide" and click on that. I don't know why there's not a direct link...that's a major oversight in my eyes, but it's a great resource anyway, so you should check it out! Also, look for the "Allergy Eats" app in the iTunes store, that way you'll have it with you whenever you're out on the town.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dairy Free Foods

Some of G's favorite dairy-free foods that help us get by day-to-day.
  • Kashi Ripe Strawberry Soft-Baked Cereal Bars  
  • Sunbutter Natural Sunflower Seed Spread (Squeeze Packs are great for throwing in the diaper bag)
  • Raisins
  • Dino Buddies chicken nuggets. There are other brands that are also dairy-free, but these are the ones he will eat.

Here are some great resources for dairy-free food lists:

Alison St. Sure at Sure Food has put together this list of dairy- and gluten-free sausages. It is from 2009, so be sure to double check the labels if you plan to buy.

Go  "Go Dairy Free is updated daily with recipes, product reviews, cooking tips, and food news.  We cater to milk allergies, lactose intolerance, vegan cooking, gluten-free / casein-free diets, and general milk-free and non-dairy living with a wealth of information, useful tools, and our popular No Dairy Product Lists (available for soy-free, gluten-free, and egg-free consumers too!) for your grocery shopping needs. 

Milk Free "Almost all foods listed in the Milk-free pantry can be found at local grocery stores like Albertson's, Tom Thumb, Kroger, Safeway, King Soopers and the Whole Foods Market...Every item has been personally taste-tested. Any non-dairy item that tastes like water or cardboard has been denied approval by the Milk-free Pantry. Going without milk shouldn't mean going without great taste."

My Dairy Free This is a new site that is not fully up and running, so I am looking forward to seeing what they'll have. I was really excited to see a product photo of "Oat Dream" milk alternative, since G also seems to have problems with 100% soy milk. Right now we are combining Rice and soy milks for him to drink, but I'd like to try the new oat milk.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Food Budget

Last year we started out the year with a sizeable chunk of debt, and ended the year having paid it all off. Yay! Last night we met with our CPA to report our success and make sure we're on track for building up our savings and retirement. As he looked over our budgets, he commented that our grocery budget was over triple the budget he keeps for his family of six. Since we are also a family of six, he suggested that we should be able to cut our grocery budget somewhat, though perhaps not quite as low as his since their children are a bit younger than ours and they don't have anyone with special dietary needs like we do. I will admit that I am a terrible meal planner and shopper. It's not something I really like to spend my time doing, and so we have a lot of last-minute, "what's for dinner?" moments and the resulting dash to the store or the Chinese restaurant nearby...well, more than we should have anyway. (If I could make the Chinese food as good as it comes from the restaurant, then I wouldn't need to do that!!!) I can't imagine being able to feed our family on their budget of only $300 a month. WHAT??!! Last year we tried to keep it to $600 and failed miserably, so this year I decided to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

So, I called his wife up and asked her how she does it.

Here is a partial list of foods they eat and don't eat. She does almost all of her shopping at WinCo. She does not use coupons, unless they are the kind that are taped to the product she grabs off the shelf. She rarely buys processed foods, preferring to know exactly what is going into her family's meals.

  • Oatmeal with raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon
  • Cheerios or other sugar-free/low-sugar cereal
  • Pancakes from scratch
  • Eggs

  • Leftovers from previous dinners
  • Quesadillas (we usually don''t have these, since I try not to make two meals and G. is allergic to cheese)
  • Tuna

  • Yogurt (she buys whatever is cheapest, and lowest sugar)
  • Fruit (she mentioned apples at Winco for $2.88/5lb bag)
  • Cheese and Saltines (one of the few processed foods she buys)
  • Dried fruit & Soy Nuts (I would probably substitute sunflower seeds. Wish I could buy nuts, but G. is also allergic to them.)
  • Non-microwave popcorn
  • Hot chocolate (another exception to the rule)
  • Applesauce
  • Homemade cookies (makes them 1x a week)
  • Mandarin oranges are a special treat
  • Homemade Pizza (she has a great, easy recipe for the crust that can also be used for breadsticks)
  • Quesadillas (corn/flour tortillas)
  • Soups/Stews
  • Tacos
  • Chicken Potpie (one-crust on top)
  • Pasta (only whole wheat)
  • Baked Potatoes
  • Chili
  • French Dip
  • Flautas
  • Yakisoba
  • Chinese stir fry
I asked her what canned or prepackaged items she uses as well. Here's the list:
  • tomatoes
  • tomato sauce
  • tuna
  • beans
  • some fruit, not much
  • salsa
  • condiments/spices, of course
  • graham crackers
  • saltines
She also said that she likes The Food Nanny's approach to meals and tends to plan "themes" for each night of the week so that it's easier to decide what's for dinner. If Monday night is "Italian night", then that limits the list of possibilities to something that is manageable.

A couple of her guilty pleasures are Costco's rotisserie chicken and a special yogurt called something like "Tivoli".

I keep asking myself if the few specialty items I buy to keep life sane in a house with a toddler who has food allergies are really what's breaking the bank for us. Is it the Dino Buddies that I buy because he will eat them? Is it the little portable fruit cups? Is it the Kashi cereal bars? He doesn't reliably love all of those things, but they are a pretty good bet most of the time, and I hate to leave the house for a long shopping trip or to go out to eat without having these things in the diaper bag since it's hard to really know what's going into restaurant-made meals. For instance, after a lengthy conversation about G's allergies with the manager at a "Noodles & Co." I was able to figure out what menu item would be appropriate for G. Just as I was about to give him his first bite, the manager ran over and grabbed the dish, telling me that it had inadvertently been prepared in a pan which previously had a cream-based sauce in it. Most cross-contaminations are accidents, and you can never be too careful.

Assuming I could shave $400 off our grocery budget, that would be an additional $4800 a year to go into a savings of some kind. So, it's worth a try.