Hydrate with your OWN flavored water!

I understand that you are sometimes on the go, and grab a pre-made flavored water from a grocery/convenience store, but despite the labeling as “all natural” there is a good chance there are things in your water that you wouldn’t expect. So, why not filter your own and make it tasty with ingredients of your own choosing? I do it all the time and it is a little burst of excitement on my palate that makes me stoked to drink my daily two liters, which can get boring when all you drink is plain water!

It is so easy to make yummy water, with no calories, that are refreshing and will rehydrate you.  One of my favorites? Slice a half cucumber, 6 mint leaves, and slice a lemon and place in the bottom of a pitcher, fill the pitcher with filtered water, and chill.  You can also do cilantro and orange slices to water, or just plain cukes. And not only does it taste great, but it looks good when you serve to people.

With organic sweet mint right from my garden!

With organic sweet mint right from my garden!

A little known secret, I always carry around a water bottle with me at work (BPA free) and I add different citrus fruits to my water (a squeeze of lemon, lime, orange, clementine), or a slice of peach/nectarine, a strawberry, blueberries, just a little something to give my water that kick of flavor that not only keeps me drinking it, but I feel like it gives me that little bit of sweetness I sometimes crave, so I don’t tend to reach for my afternoon Skittles as often.  (I am cutting back on candy….I love it, but I know how bad it is for me, and it is SUCH a hard habit to kick!) That little bit of natural sweetness from my favorite fruits in my water helps to prevent me from reaching for my candy.

If you want to add just a little jazziness? Filter water, either chop mint leaves, or put the little ones in ice-cube trays, and fill with plain water and freeze. Add those cubes to your water, and as they melt, you get some bursts of mint! Or if you make unsweetened iced tea, add those mint cubes with a squeeze of lemon, and you have a fabulous, no calorie, refreshing beverage!

Plus?  Adding cucumbers, mint, etc to my water make me feel like I’m in a spa and relax me! So do something nice for yourself, like make yummy water, and your body will feel the immediate benefits of hydration and a taste sensation all at once!

Yours in Good Health


Another Reason to Know the Source of Your Food.

There have been many cases of food coming from other countries, being contaminated, causing significant health issues, and then we never really hear about it again. I have been asked recently a lot about the contaminated powdered milk and baby formula from a few years ago, if other foods had melamine in them, and what the big deal is?  I think this Melanine issue in foods from China merely highlighted the fact that we need to really take a good look at where our food comes from and the standards that we have in the US, UK, and EU are not shared worldwide.

What was the big controversy?

In 2007 and 2008, a factory in China that was producing formula, tried to undercut the competition, by cutting their milk production costs by using raw milk (non-pasteurized) and then cutting it with water to increase the volume. In order to make the milk products have that have the appropriate amount of protein, they needed to add something. Protein levels are usually checked through the levels of nitrogens present. What they decided to add is Melanine.  Melanine is and organic powdered chemical that is very high in nitrogens, and it is frequently found in adhesives, plastics, countertops, etc. It is NOT a form of food, and it has no nutritional value. Melanine was found in wheat gluten, rice proteins, frozen yogurt, some coffee drinks (with Milk products), and various pet foods that came from China. It is actually detrimental to our health, and this is not an approved additional supplement/practice by any of the organizations worldwide that regulate food.

What are the side effects of Melanine?

Most of all the information that we have regarding the effects of Melanine are from animal studies, as it is nowhere deemed safe for human consumption, so it has never been studied. When the pet food contaminated with Melanine were hitting the shelves in the US, large numbers of animals died, shortly after ingesting the foods. Melanine can cause irritability, blood in the urine, high blood pressure, and renal (kidney) failure.  It is assumed, based upon animals, that the Melanine crystallizes with other byproducts in the body, and can clog up the kidney tubules causing kidney stones and lead to total blockage of urine passing, leading to renal failure.

 What does this mean?

Well, since the issue in 2007 and 2008, the use of Melanine has become much more scrutinized, and foods from China are now being tested for it, so we are pretty certain foods do not have it.  But the whole issue made me really question foods processed outside the US.  I clearly try to live a clean lifestyle, I eat organically and minimally processed (as much as possible), and I like to think it works for me, and I realize it is not possible for everyone. But I really want you all to think about where your food comes from, where it is processed. I loved that when I lived in the UK, the food source was well labelled on the package; I knew exactly where my veg came from, my fruits, etc. if they were grown and packaged outside the UK. Think about buying fruits and veg at local food sources, like local farms, farm stands, farmers markets, or other stores that sell locally sourced organic foods. Join a Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) group, and support local farmers all while ensuring you are eating fresh, organic, unprocessed foods.  It is a piece of mind for me, knowing that my food does not have anything, like Melanine, added to it that could kill me, my family, or my pets.

Food for thought!

Yours in Good Health



GMO: What does it mean?

There has been a TON of talk lately about GMOs, and I think most people know they are bad….but they have really no idea what they are and what the controversy is, so I thought it would be helpful if I could shed some light on the topic.  GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms.  Now what does that mean? Basically, an organism as been genetically altered (or modified) using modern scientific approaches to change the make up; the most frequently modified organisms are bacteria, yeast, plants, fish, mammals (including the chicken and beef that we may be eating!)

What do GMOs mean to me?

Well, it seems like we would be able to easily pick out foods that are genetically modified and just not eat them, right? Well, unfortunately, we don’t really know all of the foods that are genetically altered and what is added to our foods.  Plus, just buying organically does not necessarily mean that foods don’t have GMOs added.  It is not required by law to list GMO ingredients.  So, despite all efforts to eat organic, healthy, non-altered foods, and to serve them to your family, we may still be eating genetically modified foods, all because they are not listed, and corporate farms are not required to report genetic modification of their crops. For example, you might not think that your family ingests a high amount of soy products, but soy is often altered and added to other foods as a filler, so you are all eating more soy than you think! The real risk is that we do not truly know the long-term health effects of eating GMO food, but there have been numerous studies (using rat and mice models) showing that there is an increased tumor rate and shorter life expectancy when eating high GMO diets. Obviously, the studies have not proven 100% that eating GMO diets will kill you, but there is a risk, and the studies are strong enough that I really try to keep as GMO free as possible. Many of these foods are modified with various hormones and chemicals that do put us at risk for various cancers, and adding high amounts of soy to the diet can increase females estrogen levels, and that is just all the more helpful for estrogen supported tumors (i.e. breast and ovarian cancers, among others.) The best way to prevent ingesting GMO foods, is to know the crops at highest risk and try to steer clear of them, or only eat these fruits/veg from local farms where you know they are GMO-free.

What are the crops most at risk for GMO?

– Alfalfa sprouts

– Corn

– Soy

– Cotton

– Papaya

– Zucchini and Yellow summer squash

– Canola

– Cotton

– Sugar Beets

– Siberian Kale

– Acorn squash

– Flax

– Rice

– Chard

– Table beets

– Bok choy

– Turnips

Some additives that commonly are from GMO based products are:

Aspartame, Xanthan gum, High Fructose Corn Syrup, any “natural” or “artificial” flavors added to products, Vitamin C/Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sucrose, Maltodextrins, Molasses, MSG, Vitamins, Yeast products, Hydrolyzed Vegetable products, etc.

As you can see, a LOT of these foods are foods many of us ingest daily, and the additives, while we might not always know what they are, see them on package labeling constantly.  I think it is really hard to have a completely GMO-free diet at this point, but some brands are marketing that they use GMO free products, which is great, and identifying the products that are high risk GMO is a great start.  There are people out there trying to stop GMO in the US and The Non GMO Project is one of them, a non-profit, working off of donations to change legislation and prevent GMO and/or at least force companies to have to label their GMO practices, so we are not ingesting chemicals and hormones that we are not intending to.  The Non GMO Project also has rigorous standards for companies, and testing, if they prove they are GMO-free, they are allowed to use their “GMO Free” seal: 

And you can feel safe and assured that those products are truly GMO-free.  The European Union has gone GMO-free, and hopefully the US will soon follow suit!

So hopefully you know what to look for and what to stay away from, to steer clear (as mush as possible) from GMO foods. No one needs to ingest hormones or chemicals when they are trying to eat some healthy fruits and veg! Keep your eyes peeled, and support local agriculture using GMO free methods, as much as you can!

Yours in Good Health


Have you been slimed?

I don’t know which rock I have been living under for the last few eons, but apparently this pink slime has been in the news and is a really creepy issue….and one that makes me infinitely happy that I do not eat fast food and/or over processed foods.  There are a lot of issues with this being added to meats, and do you know what it is made of?  You may want to rethink eating some of the meats you are ingesting.

What is Pink Slime?

Pink slime is also known as Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) or Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLFT), and it is basically a processed beef product that was originally created for dog foods and/or cooking oils. In 2004 the USDA made it legal for humans to consume small amounts, but many companies started to add it as a filler to beef products to keep the fat content lower.  It is created by putting the meat trimmings/cartilage/sinew/connective tissues  in a centrifuge, the fat is spun off at low heat.  The heating process melts the fat and it is spun off, and the resulting product is mixed with ammonia and/or citric acid to kill off the bacteria. Once the process is finished, it is usually put into blocks, flash frozen, and shipped off as an additive. So, it is technically a lower fat product, but it is truly a byproduct, it is not natural meat after that processing. Apparently the USDA feels that way as well, as now it is required that companies that use these fillers must label their products as such, IF it is more than 15% of the product.  I feel like any bit of pink slime added to my mat should be labelled….but that’s just me!

What is the controversy?

It is sold in the US as a filler to many beef companies, and it was found that almost 70% of all meats found sold in the US had pink slime as an ingredient, and consumers had no idea.  It became big news a few months ago, and since then SOME companies have decided not to use the byproduct in their meats.  The companies that create these fillers claim they are healthy low fat, high protein meats and perfectly safe, whereas others see them as over processed additives. The USDA has made statements that it is safe and has been used in many products for years, yet Canada, along with other countries, have made pink slime illegal due to mixing the meat/product with ammonia. In the spring of 2012, despite the USDA saying the product is safe, 3 major national grocery chains made the decision to no longer carry products that contain pink slime. Consumer advocacy groups are lobbying for full disclosure of any pink slime additives, but the companies that create the product and the USDA think its OK to add this byproduct (or additive) to up to 15% of our meat and still call it 100% beef.

my local market!

I don’t know about you, but I really do try hard to eat organically and minimally processed foods as much as possible, so it really creeps me out when there is this conspiracy to label food as 100% natural product when it clearly isn’t.  We all know no one would buy meat if it said 85% Beef, 15% pink slime, right?  So don’t use it in our food!!  But hearing things like this reinforces my reasons for buying meat at local farms that are humanely treated, with no antibiotics or hormones.  And, it makes me so happy that I say no to fast food. Jus keep your eyes peeled, and check up on your favorite meat brands to find out what their practices are; you may be surprised, either happy or sad, at what they do or do not add to their meat! And, that sign at my local market made me elated!

Yours in Good Health