You Are What You Eat... So Eat Mindfully!
Convenience foods and restaurant meals are often full of hidden fat, sugar, salt, preservatives, and chemical additives. An item can be "organic," "vegan," and "gluten-free" yet contain over 100 calories per tablespoon.
Cook from scratch! It's better
For your health...
No preservatives or additives. You control the fat, salt, sugar, gluten, or other dietary issues based on YOUR family's health concerns.
For your pocketbook...
You can feed your family for a week for the price of just 1 meal at a restaurant. Dining out 3 or more times a week can destroy the family budget.
to create family memories...
Time in the kitchen can be quality time with your children, laughing and sharing the work and the news of the day.
Here is a sample of our articles and guest blogs:
Three Twinkies a Day to Lose Weight and Improve Health? Would you even think of eating three Twinkies a day to lose weight or maintain your health?
If you eat out frequently, or use processed foods at home, you are likely eating far more sugar and fat than you realize. Here are a few common food items that contain more added sugar per serving than one Twinkie (18 grams).
- Commercial non-fat & fruit-flavored yogurts
- Fat Free Salad Dressings
- Canned/Bottled Pasta Sauces
- Canned Fruit in Light Syrup
- Granola Bars
- Cold Cereal
- Sweetened Ice Tea/Fruit Juices
One day of pre-packaged foods can really add up: Breakfast: cold cereal with non-fat, fruit-flavored yogurt Lunch: fast-food smoothie Dinner: pasta with commercial sauce and salad with fat-free dressing Equals One Cup of Sugar… on top of the natural sugars in the food itself!
I buy local foods whenever possible for a healthier family, community, and planet. One of the wonderful things about living in southern California is year-round access to fresh, local produce. Here are the top 10 reasons to take a little extra time and get to your favorite farmers market or local merchant:
1) The first reason is purely selfish… fresh, local fruit TASTES BETTER. Most fruit does not ripen off the tree. It may be gassed in the packing shed or warehouse to imitate ripeness, but the flavor just isn’t there. Sadly, ripe fruit does not transport well. Most fruit you see in the grocery store, organic or not, was picked at least a week earlier, far before it was ripe. Buying fruit from a local source means buying riper, juicier, and much more delicious fruit.
2) Local produce is healthier for you and your family. Health issues exist for both organic and non-organic foods. Consider the recent news about arsenic in organic brown rice syrup; not from errors or contamination during processing, but because the plants absorbed arsenic from the soil in which they grew. You are much more likely to know about environmental health concerns in your backyard than 300 or 3,000 miles away.
3) A second health issue arises from the processing itself. From spinach to mixed lettuce to bean sprouts, healthy food can become a source of disease either from employee error or poor industrial hygiene standards. The more processed a food item is, the more potential exposure to contamination exists. And the further it travels, the more potential threats can enter the food supply. The shorter the food chain is, the fewer opportunities for disease to enter the picture.
4) Food processors add preservatives for longer shelf life. If you want to limit your consumption of chemicals, buying local and minimally processed produce is crucial.
5) Small, local farms are more likely to use sustainable agricultural methods. Diversity of crops, in particular, is seldom practiced by agribusiness. For more information on sustainable agriculture, see http://sustainableagriculture.net/ or http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/concept.htm .
6) Buying food from local farms supports the local economy. Many studies have shown that local businesses of all kinds tend to keep their profits in their local communities, while the profits of global businesses are returned to the corporate headquarters.
7) The demands of large corporations are best met by other large corporations. A recent article from a small, organic, sustainable farm in Connecticut describes the issues that arise between a chain store and a local farmer, even when both parties would like to do business together: http://www.greenvalleyfarmct.com/green-valley-farm-blog/bid/125174/The-Mismatch-Between-Today-s-Food-Industry-and-the-Local-Food-System
8) Local food is healthier for the global environment. On average, food consumed in America travels 3,000 miles from source to table. That’s a lot of jet and diesel fuels pumped into the atmosphere. One of the easiest, lowest cost ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint is to buy locally produced food.
9) Many people assume that organic is the same as local and sustainable. Sadly, organic food is no longer produced primarily by small, local, family farms. International corporations farm thousands of acres in Mexico or China, wherever the labor costs and regulations are lowest, then import the produce or processed foods as “organic.” They may well be, but issues of sustainable agricultural practices, labor standards, and costs to the environment from long-distance transportation still exist.
10) A trip to the farmers market or independent grocer is also an opportunity to learn about specific fruits, get some cooking tips, and experience different cultures. It’s also a fun family experience. If your children are reluctant to try new fruits or vegetables, take them along and let them ask questions and make their own selections, then help to prepare the meal. It’s a great learning experience as well as an antidote to picky eating habits.
Those are my personal top ten reasons to purchase local foods. If you would like some simple and easy recipes, arranged by the seasons, please check out my cookbook, “A Lifetime of Recipes: Fabulous Fresh Fruit,” now available at www.alifetimeofrecipes.com
Strawberries are now available at many locations in San Diego county. Look for the Chandler variety for a real taste treat, then try this quick, easy recipe: Strawberry-Spinach Salad A light side dish salad. My grandchildren aren’t much for cooked spinach, but they love spinach salad. 1 pt. strawberries, cut in quarters 1 lb. baby spinach ½ cup sugar 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds 1 ½ tsp. onion, minced ¼ tsp. paprika ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce ½ cup walnut oil ¼ cup raspberry vinegar Combine spinach and strawberries in a large bowl. Mix remaining ingredients together in a shaker jar; pour over spinach and gently toss. Serve immediately. From Natural Awakenings, April 2012
1) In addition to added sugar, many packaged food items and restaurant meals also contain added fats. Restaurant and fast food salads often contain more fat and calories than a small hamburger.
2) Cooking from scratch will help you and your family to live a longer and healthier life by limiting sugar intake, thus reducing the risks of diabetes and obesity. You will also improve heart and cardiovascular health for increased energy and stamina by limiting fat intake.
3) Cooking from scratch also minimizes the consumption of chemical additives and preservatives that extend product shelf life but can create long-term health concerns. Preservatives are necessary to stabilize or extend manufactured food product shelf life. Chemical additives keep sauces from separating or mimic the texture of traditional foods. The cost for this convenience is the degradation of our long-term health.
4) Cooking from scratch puts you in control. If you love chilies, you can add more! And if you can’t take the heat, you add less, or substitute bell peppers. If you love garlic or ginger, double it up… and if you prefer bland foods, you can simply reduce or eliminate the spices in the recipe. Your own personal taste rules.
5) Cooking also lets you customize your food for specific family health concerns or food allergies.
6) Cooking with your children is a great way to spend quality time together. I still remember holiday dinners helping in the kitchen with my grandma, mother and aunts – and I’m now a grandma myself. You can learn a lot from your children while chopping vegetables or stirring soup; some how it’s easier for children to open up when they are engaged in an activity at the same time. At the same time, they are learning important life skills. More than the specific food preparation skills, they are learning time management, organization, and even basic math.
7) Cooking from scratch is also a great way to save money. You can feed your family for a week for the cost of a single dinner in a restaurant. The classic economy meals such as soups, stews, and casseroles do take time. They also freeze well, so a weekend afternoon in the kitchen can create several meals that can go from freezer to the dinner table in minutes. And that long, slow simmering is time that can be spent doing the laundry, cleaning house, or playing a game with your children.
8) Many healthy, economical meals can be on the table in less than 30 minutes; some in less than 15. You can spend that much time in the drive-up lane at your favorite fast food spot, or sitting at a restaurant waiting for a seat. Grilling, sautéing, and stir-frying are all quick cooking techniques. Salads are another speedy choice.
9) Cooking from scratch has emotional rewards, too. At the end of a frustrating work day, time in the kitchen can be a welcome relief. It’s rewarding to see an immediate, positive, tangible result of your labor.
10) Cooking for family or friends can be a tangible expression of love.
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