Monday, January 31, 2011


Not sure what eggs to buy or what free-run, cage-free means?  Hopefully this will help:

Brown eggs: Eggshell color has nothing to do with the quality, flavor, nutritive value, cooking characteristic, or shell thickness of an egg. Shell color only depends on the breed of hen.

Omega 3 enhanced eggs: Eggs are from hens fed a diet flax seed or fish oils. Some experts say the omega 3 is unstable and quickly becomes rancid.

Organic eggs: Eggs produced by hens fed certified organic grains without conventional pesticides, fertilizers, growth hormones, or antibiotics.

Free-run or Cage-free eggs: Eggs produced by hens that are able to move about the floor of the barn and have nesting boxes and perches.

Free-range eggs: Eggs produced in a similar environment as cage-free eggs but hens have access to outdoor runs as well.

There is a lot of controversy about nutritional value of conventional vs. organic eggs. Controversy also surrounds the color of the egg yolk. The color of the egg yolk depends mostly on the diet of the hen. Hens that eat grains and cornmeal tend to have lighter-colored yolks. Hens that eat plants, produce, and grub tend to have darker yellow to orange-colored yolks.  Eggs with darker yolks are reported to be healthier and tastier.  Some studies have reported chemical differences and others have not.  Even if free range eggs are not healthier, I believe that the living and food conditions offer an advantage.  I love seeing the different hues of the shells and size of the eggs. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Coconut macaroons!!!

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I am sooooo making these this weekend.  Usually I like to make things before I post them but I am gladly making an exception.  These look amazing.  If you like Amazon, look for their organic coconut flakes to go on sale and get a discount and free shipping with subscribe and save.  You can spread shipments out up to 6 months and you can cancel at any time.  Why organic coconut?  Look at the list of inactive ingredients and preservatives on a bag of sweetened coconut.  Organic cocnut also tastes amazing to say the least.  Lee and I usually get sick eating it by the cup when we open a fresh bag. 

Most macaroon recipes also use condensed milk and white sugar.  These ingredients are so much healthier!  Here's the recipe from Jordan Rubin's Extraordinary Health website:

Coco Macaroons

Makes about 4-5 dozen


7 cups of dried coconut flakes

2 cups Rapadura or raw honey

6 Tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract


In a large mixing bowl, mix the Rapadura or raw honey with the coconut oil and vanilla extract until well mixed. Slowly add the coconut flakes. Blend together well or knead with your hands if necessary. Drop mixture by the tablespoons onto baking sheets. Place in the oven with just the oven light and let them set for 24 hours or you may use a dehydrator set on 105 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours. Serve. Store the remaining macaroons.

Recipes courtesy of Extraordinary Health team

Monday, January 24, 2011

Antibiotics in agriculture

The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine is now requiring meat producers to report on antibiotic use. For the first time it released a report on the amount of antibiotics sold for use in food animal production. The aim is to curb the growth in antibiotic resistance. In 2009, almost 29 million pounds of antibiotics sold for use in animal agriculture. The danger in widespread use is the emergence of drug-resistant organisms or superbugs. The FDA released a draft recommendation on judicious use of antibiotics that states that the overall weight of evidence supports “the conclusion that using medically important antimicrobial drugs for production or growth enhancing purposes (i.e., non-therapeutic or subtherapeutic uses) in food-producing animals is not in the interest of protecting or promoting the public health.”

It is not often that I agree completely with the FDA but this is a WIN!


Friday, January 21, 2011


Just saw a great tip on oatmeal.  Do you like your oatmeal sweetened but without the sugar and calories?  Right before it is ready to come off the stove (yes, I am talking about the slow cook oats you actually have to cook), mash up a banana and stir it in.  I have not personally tried this, and I do like to try what I recommend first.  However, I thought that sounded like a really good idea.  We have switched to old fashioned oatmeal for awhile now.  All it took was reading the list of ingredients on the instant oatmeal to realize how many teaspoons of sugar you were getting.  I do admit to sprinkling just a *little* brown sugar on top, which is why I think a banana would be perfect.  Thanks, Maryea! 

Visit Maryea’s blog at

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Water makes up about 60% of our body weight. Every system in our body depends on water. It also flushes toxins out, carries nutrients, and provides a moist environment for ear, nose, and throat tissues. Lack of water leads to dehydration, and even mild forms can drain energy and make one tired.

Every day we lose water through breathing, perspiring, and excretion. Understandably, it must be replenished for our body to function properly. So how much does the average person need? Most doctors recommend 8-9 cups. Here are 3 common ways to also estimate it:

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Replacement approach. The average urine output is 6.3 cups/day. You lose an additional 4 cups through insensible losses (breathing, sweating, bowel movements). Food usually accounts for accounts for 20% of your total fluid intake, so if you consume 8 cups of water a day along with your normal diet, you will typically replace your lost fluids.

Eight 8-ounce glasses. Another approach is the 8 x 8 rule. It is not necessarily supported by scientific evidence but it serves as an easy guideline to remember how much to drink.

Dietary recommendations. The Institute of Medicine advises men consume 13 cups of total beverages and women consume 9 cups of total beverages a day.

The most important thing is to remember to drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce enough urine that is colorless or slightly yellow. You may also need to increase your total fluid intake when you exercise, live in hot climates, during illness (especially fever, vomiting, or diarrhea), and during pregnancy/breastfeeding.


Monday, January 17, 2011


In the South, we call soda “Coke.” I once asked my brother in law to get me a coke. He came back with a Sprite. Here, a Coke is a coke and a Sprite is a coke. To this day, I truly believe there is nothing like a cold Coke on a hot day. A part of me is still sad that I have given up drinking soft drinks.

Here are some of the reasons our whole family has given up (or never been given) soft drinks. They have an alarming amount of sugar, calories, and harmful additives with virtually no nutritional value. Studies have shown an association to osteoporosis, obesity, tooth decay, and heart disease. Do you ever wonder why so many people can’t lose weight and have health problems? Well, soft drinks account for more than 1/4th of all drinks consumed in the United States!

Here is what is consumed in a soda:

Phosphoric acid: May interfere with the body’s ability to use calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis or softening of the teeth and bones. Phosphoric acid also neutralizes the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, which can interfere with digestion, making it difficult to utilize nutrients.

Sugar: Soft drink manufacturers are the largest single user of refined sugar in the United States. It is a proven fact that sugar increases insulin levels, which can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, weight gain, premature aging and many more negative side effects. Most sodas include over 100% of the RDA of sugar.

Aspartame: This chemical is used as a sugar substitute in diet soda. There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption including brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders, and epilepsy/seizures. Further, when aspartame is stored for long periods of time or kept in warm areas it changes to methanol, an alcohol that converts to formaldehyde and formic acid, which are known carcinogens.

Caffeine: Caffeinated drinks can cause jitters, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, elevated blood cholesterol levels, vitamin and mineral depletion, and perhaps some form of cancer.

The average American drinks an estimated 56 gallons of soft drinks each year. One can of soda has about 7-10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories or more, 30-55 mg of caffeine, and is loaded with artificial food colors (Hello, Mountain Dew) and sulphites. In the past 10 years, soft drink consumption among children has almost doubled in the United States.

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I almost feel odd that my oldest is almost 3 years old and never had a sip of soda. I am proud, but left out in a good way. I eat lunch with several co-workers and 9 out of 10 times I am the only one in the group not drinking a soda. The others are eating yogurt (with 6 teaspoons of added sugar) and salads…with their coke zero. I understand the caffeine addiction (don’t talk to me about my coffee habit), but I can’t quite overlook all of the other additives. I have heard phenomenal stories of people losing pounds and pounds of weight and overcoming diseases and conditions just by cutting out soda. Next time you crave that “Coke” consider everything that you are getting. It’s not easy to let go of our favorite beverages, but I truly believe it is one of the worst culprits that I have cut out. Now if I drink half a cup of Coke, I will have a migraine for 3 days. Yes, honey, I really can make good decisions!! (My husband has been Coke-free for over 10 years and I have cut them out for over a year. Our children have yet to even see one).

Adapted from

Friday, January 14, 2011


Superfoods naturally concentrate important nutrients and antioxidants for overall health. Changes in diet to include more of these foods have positively impacted conditions such as age-related macular degeneration. Many of these foods also have high fiber content, and there are virtually no side effects or toxicity (in moderation!). Some have antioxidants liked to a reduced risk of cancer and others have important anti-inflammatory properties. Almost all of them are chock-full of vitamins and minerals, too.





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Wild Salmon


Green or black tea


Yogurt with probiotics










Sweet Potatoes

Adapted from Extraordinary

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Getting older

Have you ever wondered what makes you live longer? How do you get to be over a 100??  I sure hope that all of these babysteps at least help me live a long life.  The following is adapted from Dr. Mercola's article on living longer:

Bernando LaPallo, age 109, has written a book called Age Less, Live More. He offers proof that “living and eating the way nature intended is rewarded with a long life.” His father told him that “health should be your first priority, and in order to do that, you eat properly.” LaPallo says in order to do that “you have to eat properly—not a bunch of stirred up, boiled-to-death food.”

The oldest man in America, Walter Breunig, is 114 years old. His advice includes proper food choices, abstinence from alcohol, daily outdoor exercise, a spiritual and optimistic outlook on life, and “taking things in stride.” (Yes, honey, I need to work on that last one!).

His daily diet consists of:


Fruit (especially blueberries and cantaloupe)




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Clean water

Cinnamon tea

Leafy green vegetables make up 2/3rd of his daily diet, and he does not touch processed foods. He takes one baby aspirin a day and no other medications. I love what he says about growing up: “When we were kids, we ate what was on the tables. Crusts of bread or whatever it was. You ate what they put on your plate, and that’s all you got.”

Monday, January 10, 2011

Inactive ingredients

Here is a great list of inactive ingredients, their uses, and their dangers:

Parabens Heavily used preservatives in the cosmetic industry; used in an estimated 13,200 cosmetic and skin care products. Studies implicate their connection with cancer because their hormone-disrupting qualities mimic estrogen and could disrupt your body’s endocrine system.

Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum These petroleum products coat the skin like plastic – clogging pores and creating a build-up of toxins. They can slow cellular development, creating earlier signs of aging. They’re implicated as a suspected cause of cancer. Plus, they can disrupt hormonal activity. When you think about black oil pumped from deep underground, ask yourself why you’d want to put that kind of stuff on your skin…

Sodium laurel or lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) Found in over 90% of personal care products! They break down your skin’s moisture barrier, potentially leading to dry skin with premature aging. And because they easily penetrate your skin, they can allow other chemicals easy access. SLS combined with other chemicals may become a "nitrosamine" – a potent carcinogen.

Acrylamide Found in many facial creams. Linked to mammary tumors.

Propylene glycol Common cosmetic moisturizer and carrier for fragrance oils. May cause dermatitis and skin irritation. May inhibit skin cell growth. Linked to kidney and liver problems.

Phenol carbolic acid Found in many lotions and skin creams. Can cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, coma, and even death from respiratory failure.

Dioxane Hidden in ingredients such as PEG, polysorbates, laureth, ethoxylated alcohols. Very common in personal care products. These chemicals are often contaminated with high concentrations of highly volatile 1,4-dioxane that’s easily absorbed through the skin. Its carcinogenicity was first reported in 1965, and later confirmed in studies including one from the National Cancer Institute in 1978. Nasal passages are considered extremely vulnerable, making it, in my opinion, a really bad idea to use these things on your face.

Toluene May be very poisonous! Made from petroleum and coal tar… found in most synthetic fragrances. Chronic exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage…May affect a developing fetus.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pnk eye

I mentioned earlier this week how we had been passing around colds constantly. I also brought home pink eye. That is a contagious little sucker. Kai got it. A week later, Kai and Caitlin got it. A week later I got it and Lee started to get it. We decided that it was a good thing that they put so much in bottle. They know everyone is going to get it plus we probably wasted half the bottle trying to get eye drops in a 2 year old.

Why am I writing about pink eye? One because it so common among children, and two, because there is not always an organic alternative. The tricky thing is that pink eye can be viral (no medication needed) or bacterial (5-7 days of eye drops). There is a school of thought that even bacterial infections should be treated without medication if at all possible. This line of thinking irritates me, especially as a pharmacist ;) Now, I am not a pill pusher even though I am a pharmacist by trade. Since becoming more organic, I am even less of a pill pusher. However, not taking someone when there is a clear indication for it, sends me to the nearest soapbox.

One reason to treat pink eye as a bacterial infection is because it will clear up in less than 24 hours if treated appropriately. Two, children usually are not allowed back in their classroom without 24 hours of treatment. Three, if it is bacterial and not treated, it will continue to be contagious and extremely symptomatic. Four, the eye drops are absorbed topically, not systemically, so there are no untoward effects like killing gut flora.

This is one time when I would hand downs recommend the “non-crunchy” alternative. Every single one of us was better in hours after the eye drops. Most bacterial infections do not get better on their own, and many of them can result in very serious infections if untreated. Now if only we had devised the perfect system to instill eye drops in a 2 year olds eyes. Oh wait, it is called candy bribery.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Warding off colds

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I have been so frustrated with colds this year. Last year, we were hardly sick at all. This year we have been passing around colds continually. It seems like someone is always sick. My dear husband reminds me that the only thing that has changed is eating more organic ;) However, we have both noticed that it also coincided with Kai going to Mother’s Morning Out. Nonetheless, we have been sharing colds, pink eye, and sore throats for weeks now.

For the first time in weeks, I think we are all more or less “better.” Maybe a sniffle hear and there, but not the crud. Here is what we have been doing in the meantime:

Extra sleep

Gargling with salt water

Extra vitamin D (4000 units for Lee and me, 800 units for Kai)

Daily probiotics and multivitamins (whole food derived)

Strict hand washing and sanitizing

Frequent washing of sheets and pillows

Extra coffee water

No sharing of toys that get put in mouth, as much as possible

Limiting sugar

Monday, January 3, 2011

Grilled vegetables packets

I mentioned a long time ago that we had joined a local growers group. It is different from a CSA (community supported agriculture group). You select only the foods that you want vs. getting a basket of someone else’s choosing. It is amazing!! This is our first truly cold week but up until now we have had a large variety of produce. One of the items that has been on the list for weeks now is butternut squash. You really cannot go wrong with this recipe. Even though my kids are crazy about butternut squash I can almost always get them to eat at least a few bites!

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Cut butternut squash into pieces. I usually cut it into circles horizontally, slice off the skin in a hexagon shape and then dice into pieces. Divide in to two batches. Place each batch on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle organic maple syrup over the squash. Fold the tin foil in thirds lengthwise (center the squash, fold one side over, then the other). Then fold the edges horizontally until you have a packet. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 min.

Variation: this can be done with any vegetables. You can also substitute olive oil. My dad is famous for cutting up sweet potatoes, asparagus, squash, and peppers and then grilling the packet. Oh, mmmmm!