Did you know that Americans waste an estimated 40% of edible food (source: Natural Resources Defense Council
)? That's a lot of food simply tossed out or washed down the disposal. And with recent droughts in the Midwest and increasing oil prices you're grocery budget will probably get tighter in the next few months. So what are the top tossed out foods? Here's a list that was compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Council, along with some ideas for using them up so that you can stretch your groceries just a little farther.1. Fruits and Vegetables: 52% lost
Half of all fruits and vegetables are tossed out after they are past their prime. Bruised strawberries and gooey green beans = a trip to the landfill. To make them last longer flash freeze your produce if you bought more than you can eat by simply freezing separate pieces on a baking sheet overnight, then placing a cup or two into storage bags. You can also juice lots of fruits and vegetables that are just starting to pass their prime
, and while you're at it this is also a great way to sneak some veggies into your kiddos bellies.And here's a pampered Mom tip: one of my favorite ways to use up old produce that is past the point of eating is by making my own spa masks. Great bases include strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and avocado. Simply mash a tablespoon or two of your overdone fruits with a little bit of honey and rolled oats and it's a spa day. I leave my mask on for 10-20 minutes while the kids and I put cucumbers over our eyes and chat it up.Finally a great way to reuse really overdone fruits and vegetables is to compost them. Composting is incredible easy and doesn't have to be expensive, and in a matter of months (especially if you jump start the process with composting enzyme) you'll have rich soil to rejuvenate your yard or start a garden.
And you always have a science project in your backyard to teach your kids with.2. Seafood: 50% lostYet again, only half of what is harvested is actually eaten.
Given the over harvested state of our oceans and the environmental effects of seafood farming, it's hard to believe so little is actually eaten.
One of my favorite ways to incorporate seafood, and thus some lean protein, into my kids snacks is with hummus
or yogurt dips. Simply combine cooked fish in with yogurt, tahini, white beans and add lemon juice in a food processor and puree til smooth, then serve with crackers or sliced veggies.Another, cook-free way to use up uncooked salmon that is
in your fridge is to simply cure bite size pieces in salt, pepper and raw sugar in your fridge. Within an hour or two you have a great snack that your kiddos can munch on without much work.3. Grain products: 38% lostOne of the beauties about bread is that you can freeze it until you're ready to use it. Another great way to use up both stale breads and cooked rice is with bread pudding and rice pudding, respectively. Another one of our favorites are French toast mini's.
Grains like oats
also make for really tasty granola. All you need is oil, honey, chopped nuts and dried fruit and you have a tasty breakfast or yogurt topper that's really easy to make.4. Meat: 22% lostToo often you plan out your week's worth of dinners and then life gets in the way; soccer practice
, a late night at work or swim class interferes with your dinner. Or those cold cuts you got for sandwiches gets forgotten in the fridge and looks like it might be growing a new type of penicillin.For us the best way to conserve our meat is to freeze it
and only defrost the night before when I'm sure that I can make it. As for cold cuts they make for an excellent snack just by rolling them with sliced cheese and serving with grapes. You can also finely chop it and toss with peas for a fun nutritious salad
.5. Milk: 20% lostUnfortunately the big culprit here are school lunches- many time kids toss milk cartons that haven't even been opened. But in addition we also toss out that last bit of milk in the container, let our kids milk glasses sit out too long, or don't finish our coffee. According to the USDA, we toss 1/3 cup per day per person. That ends up being milk from 800,000 cows. And once milk spoils, there isn't a lot of recourse.
So in this case a little conscientious discussion with the kiddos is needed, and smaller portion sizes. Related Reading:
Yet another study has come out demonstrating the negative health effects of drinking soda. Drinking a soda a day increases coronary heart disease by a whopping 20%. That's just one measly soda a day!
Kids are drawn to sugar, as many parents know. Their growing bodies secrete hormones that cause cravings for carbohydrates and that can lead to kids eating frosted flakes with sugar on top. Soda is super sweet, with 35-40 grams of sugar in one can. Give a kid with a penchant for sugar a soda and it's a happy match, unless of course you look at the adverse health effects tied to soda consumption.
In addition to the recent study mentioned above, drinking soda has been associated with several negative health effects. Examples include:
-An increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes- soda consumption increases the development of inflammation and obesity, which are also increased in type 2 diabetes.
-An increased risk of developing osteoporosis- soda leaches out calcium because it ha high levels of phosphorous, which effectively dissolves bone.
Increased bone fractures- again this is due to losing calcium. Soda consumers are 3-4 times more likely to break a bone.
-Dissolved tooth enamel, increased periodontal disease and gingivitis. This is again part of the high phosphorus content of soda
-Increased obesity- for each soda consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times
-Increased risk of allergies, like eczema and asthma- This is due to reactivity to the preservative sodium benzoate.
-Decreased effectiveness of the antibiotics penicillin and ampicillan
So if your kiddos are soda consumers, it's probably time to stop that habit. Here are some healthy alternatives help.
1. Coolers: Make a little concoction of a couple of types of juice
2. Sparklers: Mix equal portions 100% fruit juice with sparkling water.
3. Fruit and veggie cubes: Flavor ice water with slices of your kids favorite fruits and veggies. Cucumber strawberry is a nice mix.
4. Vegetable juice: Vegetable juice has less sugar than fruit juice, and is a great way to get a vitamin boost.
5. Home made lemonade- if you make it yourself you can reduce the sugar and use an unprocessed variety.
| |I just got off the phone with Dr. Dane Buxbaum, a Naturopathic Doctor with a practice that focuses on clinical nutrition. My head is swimming with all the great food allergy information he just gave me. It was a fascinating interview, and I want to pass all this interesting information along to you. His answers to my questions, plus a couple from the ladies at the Natural Parenting group, are paraphrased below. If you have any more questions that you would like to add just comment below and I'll pass them along. Enjoy! Tell me about your education background. I have a B.S. in the nutritional sciences from the University of Arizona. This was in dietetics, which sets you up to do an internship and become a dietician. However I didn't become a dietician because they typically work in a hospital setting and manage disease as opposed to using nutrition as a therapy. Essentially the main goal is to keep disease from getting worse as opposed to better. So instead I got my Naturopathic Doctor degree from the Southwest college of Naturopathic Medicine. Why did you choose Naturopathic medicine? When I was in high school I had a ton of anxiety and general health problems. We had a family physician that was a great doctor but looked at everything from a standard approach, and nothing helped. I finally went to another MD that tested me for food allergies, using a IgG allergy test, which was very off the medical radar. It turns out I was allergic to gluten and dairy. It took about 6 months to have an effect, but I shed a ton of weight and my anxiety (along with other approaches to treat anxiety as well) became much more manageable. I went to the U of A and wanted to learn more about nutrition. Then I stumbled into naturopathy while looking at different career options. I knew that I want to be a physician but I wanted a tool box that included nutrition and I wanted to use a holistic approach. I could have gone the MD route and, much like the doctor I saw, utilize holistic means but then I’d have the obstacle of having to practice different from how I wanted to and then have to use my whole career to develop a tool box that I wanted. There is a lot of obstacles to being and ND, but I started out with a toolbox that I wanted. I use pharmaceuticals too when necessary, but I also always use nutrition and lifestyle changes.I also knew that I wanted to do primary care, which you can do with an ND license. From my personal experience I know it’s absolutely terrible to be dealing with debilitating anxiety as a teenager. It’s such a struggle, and you don’t have the character to deal with it. It’s really rewarding to help other patients with similar issues. What are common symptoms of a food allergy? Most people have digestive problems. That’s usually the giveaway; some degree of a GI, digestive, or bowel movement problem. In that case it’s usually at a minimum associated with a food allergy. Things like Irritable Bowell Syndrome and Celiac Disease come to mind. What about the less common symptoms? Less common symptoms include anxiety, depression, fatigue, autoimmune issues, arthritis, and inflammatory diseases and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. When The GI system is irritated it has these domino effects downstream. Even if there is an allergy, eliminating it is never a silver bullet. Quite frequently it’s part of the dysfunction in the system, a component.Here’s an example. I worked with a doctor that used an elimination diet on patients with rheumatoid arthritis and it was amazing how many had an improvement in their symptoms, not a complete resolution, but still an improvement.
What is the most common food allergy that you see? Here are the five big ones:Gluten (like wheat, rye and barley) DairiesSoyCornEggs Are any specific food allergies becoming more common? A good example is Celiac Disease (an autoimmune disorder that damages the lining of the intestines upon reaction to the protein gliadin) We used to think 1:1000 people suffered from it. New numbers indicate that it’s closer to 1:100 (1:133 based on a study out of Sweden, 1:113 from a study conducted in the US).Another example is dairy. But in general, we grow food differently, process it differently different, and modify these foods such that we actually changing the protein structure (Jill’s note here, think about GMO’s). For example, the wheat that our Grandparents ate was different from what we consume now. We predominantly grow a high gluten wheat because it bakes better. That, along with reduced fermenting in bread baking, demonstrates that how we make wheat products has changed a lot. I asked readers from the natural parents group if they had any questions they would like addressed. Two main topics kept coming up:Why do we wait to introduce solids to children until 1, 2 or 3 years of age? It seems like it would be better to expose earlier at low levels to get the body used to the new food, as opposed to suddenly exposing at a later age? This is a highly controversial subject. The reasoning for waiting to introduce highly allergenic foods, like gluten, soy and eggs, is because of immune development. If you introduce a food too soon the child doesn’t have the immune capacity to discern friend or foe. That being said, there is probably variability in when to introduce different foods. Some foods might need to be introduced earlier, or there might be an optimal window in which to introduce a food that you can lose quicklyThere are also foods, like peanuts can have molds. So those foods, which are high in contaminants, are typically withheld until later because we don’t want to expose a child to these products and challenge them early in life. Has the incidence of Candida (i.e systemic yeast) infections increased? It seems more common a diagnosis as of late. If so, can you speak as to why it has increased? Along those lines, can you talk about how a food allergy is misinterpreted as a Candida infection? Definitely, though it’s typically more of an adult diagnosis, It’s a normal digestive flora, the issue is when it becomes overpopulated. This overpopulation is a result of a gut flora imbalance, which can open the avenue for opportunistic infections. There are potentially two things that can influence this overpopulation. A lot of times we don’t have a good probiotics exposure. We used eat foods that could to help maintain or GI balance, but those foods have changed. We no longer have diets with such useful natural probiotics.Also our diets are full of sugary foods, which cause Candida to thrive. It allows the perfect environment, essentially a constant fuel source for pathogenic culprits. Thus Dysbiotic guts and high sugar diets are causing this yeast increase.Candida can present similar to a food allergy. Symptoms include skin conditions, GI issues, stool irregularity, fatigue, and headaches. However the big thing that is indicative of a Candida infection is sugar cravings, which thus helps the yeast continue to thrive.
In the last few years we've become inundated by omega supplements. I first heard about them when I was pregnant, but nowadays even everyday adults can get omega gummies at the grocery store. But what are omegas, and what's the reasoning behind they're surge in popularity? I wondered the same thing even while I took them while nursing my little girl five years ago, so here's a my personal crash course on omegas and your kiddos.
-Omegas are imperative for proper brain function. Infants that are supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids have improved cognitive abilities.
-There is some evidence that premature infants grew faster when supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids.
-Omega-3 fatty acids have natural anti-inflammatory effects.
-Children with ADHD have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Supplementation can increase attention duration in children under 12.
-Omega-3 supplementation can improve depression symptoms. Most of these studies relate to adults, however there is a small amount of data showing this effect in children with depression.
-Children with a high omega-3 diet were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
-Omega-3 supplementation may reduce airway inflammation, thereby improving asthma symptoms. However this result has not been consistent among all studies, so keep that in mind if your kid suffers from asthma.
Fats are long chains of carbon molecules. In saturated fats, all carbons and other molecules, like hydrogen, are bonded together with a single bond, or a single tie. In unsaturated fats there are double bonds, or two ties, connecting carbon to the next molecule in the chain. In omega-3 fatty acids, the first double bond occurs at the third carbon in the sequence. In omega-6 fatty acids that double bond starts at the sixth carbon in the line.
Omega-3 fatty acids
In the benefits list above most of the studies used omega-3 fatty acids. Despite their numerous healthy benefits, most people are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Though supplements are readily available, foods like fish and certain types of seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 food sources
Omega-6 fatty acids
It's not as hard to meet the omega-6 fatty acid daily quota. In fact, most people consume 10 times as many omega-6 fats as omega-3 fats. That's because omega-6 fats are found in vegetable oils, which are a common cooking ingredient.
With all the health benefits, of omegas, why not go ahead and start adding them to your snack list. Your kids probably won't even notice a handful of flax or chia seeds in their yogurt, but their brains sure will.
In continuation with my cheddar cheese post yesterday, here are more some interesting food additive tidbits concerning how some of the common ones are made. Now just as a disclaimer, I'm not going to feed into the controversies that surround some of these ingredients. Unfortunately the jury is still out on the effects of consuming some of these ingredients. That's not to say that they are all completely safe, but just that there isn't enough research to conclusively determine the effects of long term consumption.Food additives are added to foods to increase shelf-life of products and can also serve as cheaper fillers or ingredients. Case in point, high fructose corn syrup is cheaper than traditional can sugar
, hence the reason it is now in so many products. The bottom line is that additives increase companies profits. These increases revenue has made additives very popular, though they don't always benefit consumers that are prone to allergies or asthma. So without further adieu, here are some interesting "How you make them" food additive facts.Caramel coloring
Caramel coloring is a food dye that is used in lots of soft drinks. Some forms of caramel coloring are manufactured by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperature. High fructose corn syrup
Typically when you break corn down, you get glucose. But glucose doesn't taste nearly as sweet as fructose, so chemists developed a method of rearranging the atoms in glucose so that it becomes fructose. Thus with this process corn could be broken down and altered to make fructose. This modified formula is then combined with regular corn syrup so that it becomes a 45% glucose 55% fructose solution. This sweeter solution is cheaper than regular sugar, hence the reason it's in so many products now. Gelatin
Gelatin, which is used to thicken foods (just think of jello) is made from boiling skin, muscle and hooves. This process releases collagen, which is an elastic connective tissue and results in a thickening, stabilizing ingredient.Carmine
Carmine is a red food dye that is made from boiling crushed cochineal insects' exoskeletons in water, then treating the resulting solution with the chemical compound alum.Sulphur dioxideSulphur dioxide is a preservative that also keeps dried fruits, like apricots and golden raisins, from darkening.
It is made by burning of common sulfur-rich materials including wool, hair, rubber, and foam rubber. Xanthum gum
Xanthum gum, which is a sticky goo that thickens and stabilizes food like ice cream, is made by fermenting corn sugar with bacteria. It is popular among people that can't digest gluten since it is a gluten free product.If you are concerned about processed food in your kiddos diets', the Center for Science in the Public Interest has a great list of which additives are safe, questionable of best avoided.
As a rule of thumb, the less ingredients a product has, the less additives it will contain and it's also more likely to be less allergenic.Related reading: Soda and cancer risk High fructose corn syrup and why you should avoid it Why is my cheese yellow?
A while back I posted the "dirty dozen
", a list of produce items that have lots of pesticides. So unless you want your family consuming a concoction of chemicals, you better off buying organic on those fruits and vegetables. In line with that I also wanted to post the "clean 15", produce items that have low levels of pesticide residues. Those low levels mean that you don't need to go organic on these items if pesticides are your main concern. And that can save you a lot of money since organic can be so much more costly that regular produce. This list was complied by the Environmental Working Group, which consists of scientists, policy makers and researchers. Now I can't help but notice that number 1 and 15 are pretty close to the same thing, but I was pretty excited by how many foods we normally eat that are on this list. So if you have a tight budget, check this out and save yourself a little cash the next time you're at the market.The Clean 151. onions2. avocados3. sweet corn4. pineapples5. mango6. sweet peas7. asparagus8. kiwi fruit9. cabbage10. eggplant11. cantaloupe12. watermelon13. grapefruit14. sweet potatoes15. sweet onions
I am a big believer in snacking. It all started when I was pregnant with my little girl I've continued to keep up that eating style and found it really works for both of my kiddos. Less mood swings and tantrums equals a happier family overall and it helps me get them to eat more food groups over the course of the day.
But I know that not everyone is as mad about snacking as I am. Some people think that it takes away from eating balanced meals and adds a lot of uncounted calories to a diet. True, if you let your kid eat right before lunch or dinner then you might run into that problem, especially if they're eat a lot. But you can control that by having snacks and hour or two after meals so that they don't run into the next one. You should also limit snacks to 100-200 calories and make sure that they have protein and fiber so that they make your kids feel full with less food and they are satisfied a little longer.
I recently read an article by Dr. Bill Sears about why snacking is so great for your kids. I actually read some new stuff that I hadn't considered before and it helped me think about why this website is so important for your family. So here's some reasons why snacking is so good for kids. I also hope that it makes your feel inspired to check out some recipes while you're here, so that you can make sure those snacks have less processed ingredients and are healthy.
Stomach size: Kids tummies are the size of their fists. Thus getting all their calories (and food groups) during three large meals just isn't possible with that small of a space to pack food into. Snacking makes it so that they meet their caloric and nutritional needs.
Snacking helps with concentration: Snacking promotes steady blood sugar levels, which in turn means that the brain is fed a steady supply of food. That results in better concentration on learning tasks and less moodiness due to low blood sugar.
Snacking promotes a healthy gut: When too large of meals are ingested then a portion of that food stays relatively undigested in the gut. End result: indigestion and potentially constipation. Talk about an unhappy kid...
Snacking actually promotes healthier body frames: Steady eating results in stable insulin levels. Insulin signals the body to store energy reserves (i.e. sugars and fats), so when insulin levels are high, like after gorging on a big meals, then sugars and fats get stored in the body. So keeping insulin levels steady means that less reserves will be stored.
So the next time you're going out or just hanging out around the house, don't forget the snacks. It's good for your kids and will make you a happier parent.
After a lot of anticipation the USDA finally released their new take on eating a balanced diet. After taking the heat on the difficulty of understanding the food pyramid (who needs math, after all) the pyramid has now been converted into a numberless pie chart. Forget the confusing measurements and busy icons, the chart has been ultra-simplified. It's basic, colorful and amazing that someone didn't come up with it sooner. The dairy industry is happy, fruit and vegetable businesses are happy, who knows what the grains folks think and the only ones that were really shafted were the meat people.
In celebration of this event I've collected some comments I heard throughout the day when I showed off the new plate. Feel free to comment with some of your own, if you feel so inspired.
- Where's the "only sometimes" group?
- What, no spoon?
- I want a cake and butter plate on there.
- When did they separate fruits and vegetables?
- Why are the veggies so big?
- Is that what we're paying them for..
- No more water!
- Yay purple! (that was my daughter)
- Looks like vegetable snacks are on the horizon... (that was me)
Here's some good news for parents having to battle cartoon characters on the fronts of sugary cereals or salty snacks- the federal government is setting up voluntary guidelines that eliminates marketing sugary, salty foods to children. That means Toucan Sam and Chester the Cheetah would have to pack their bags and find a home elsewhere. And for parents, losing these identifiable characters on the fronts of unhealthy snacks means one less battle in the grocery store. Now if we could just do something about the candy in the checkout lane...Chester and Sam won't be out of work for long. In addition to removing such icons from unhealthy foods, the regulations push for using much marketing strategies with healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables.
Now for my anecdotal evidence to back up this maneuver- at Trader Joe's they have a monkey figurine hanging above the bananas, and my kids are really attracted to it. So by my little sample group (an n of 2, certainly not up to publishing quality but it makes me happy) I know that such campaigns can be successful.Research shows that fast food and soda advertising marketed towards kids increases consumption of those products. So these guidelines could have some real practical effects on kids diets. Just to note, some of the worst cereals, as compiled by the British based Consumers Association, marketed towards children include Cookie Crisp, Golden Grahams, Coco pops
. I always thought the little crooks on Cookie Crisp were kind of cute, but they are more insidious than I realizedI think that it's great that this collaboration between industry and government is taking place, though the voluntary nature of these regulations does make me wonder how effective it will be.
But regardless our kids could use less sugar and salt in their diets, so any step in that direction is a positive one.
Here's yet another reason to not let your kids drink soda, as if we didn't have enough. Not only does it give them lots of sugar and empty calories, it could also cause cancer. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, one of my personal favorite groups, is asking for a ban on the caramel coloring used to color popular soft drinks.
Note about article below: Article first published as FDA Petitioned to Ban Caramel Coloring in Cola on http://technorati.com/women/article/fda-petitioned-to-ban-caramel-coloring/FDA Petitioned to Ban Caramel Coloring in Cola
The caramel coloring commonly used to color Coca-Cola and Pepsi could cause cancer, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest WordsInLink
The CSPI filed a petition with the FDA calling for a ban on two froms of caramel coloring, siting two potentially carcinogenic chemcials created in the synthetic production of this common ingredient.
Some forms of caramel coloring is manufactured by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperature. This process results in two products, 2-methylimidazole (2-MEI)
and 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI)
, which have been linked to cancer in animal studies.
There four types of caramel coloring, two of which are synthesized with ammonia and two that are made without. The ban would only affect with ammonia.
Caramel coloring is not essential for soda's taste or stability, but instead serve a purely asethetic purpose. Alternative colorings, such as natural dyes made via fruit or vegetable dyes, exist that could replace these potentially harmful compounds. Sodas could also be clear, as opposed to dyed brown, to avoid potential carcinogenic exposure.
California has already added 4-MEI to a list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Proposition 65 would require that substances that have more than 16 micrograms of 4-MEI would have to bear a cancer warning label. As a comparison, popular soft drinks contain 200 micrograms of 4-MEI.
These two compounds are not potent carcinogens, and even the CSPI asserts that the calories and sugar in these sodas are more detrimental to consumers health in the immediate future.
Representative from Coca-Cola and the beverage industry counter that these studies were done in mice and rodents, and thus may not be applicable to humans. No studies have tied these two compounds to cancer in humans.
In addition, according to the American Beverage Association WordsInLink
2-MEI and 4-MEI are ubiquitous and found in a variety of foods.
Over the years CSPI has been involved in accurate labeling of artificial food dyes, salt, nitrate and sulfite preservatives, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and Olestra.
Read more: http://technorati.com/women/article/fda-petitioned-to-ban-caramel-coloring/#ixzz1ESnh5o8v