Here are some articles from Divine Caroline:

Organic Food – What’s All the Fuss?

By: Replenishing Soul

You may be noticing a greater focus on organic foods these days, but are they really necessary? I think so. Conventional farmingrelies on the use of fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. As a result, conventionally grown food often contains chemical residues which can be harmful to us.

There are conflicting opinions over whether exposure to these chemicals on a dietary level is dangerous, but experts say that consumers should use caution. That’s because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 90 percent of fungicides, 60 percent of herbicides, and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic (promotes the development of cancer). Some health disturbances linked to these chemicals include genetic and immune system damage, neurotoxicity, disruption of the endocrine system, damage in a developing nervous system, and brain and disruption of the reproductive system. Pesticide exposure has also been linked to miscarriages in women.

Organic farming uses natural fertilizers and natural methods to grow crops and to protect them from insects and disease instead of chemicals. Studies have found significantly higher nutrients in organic produce, including Vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. Organic foods have also been shown to contain higher levels of phenolic compounds, which are a group of antioxidants that have been shown to be ten times more efficient at mopping up free radicals than Vitamin C or E.

Organic produce does cost more than conventionally farmed produce. If you must buy conventional produce, you can reduce (but never eliminate) your pesticide exposure by thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables. Peeling the skin off of fruits and vegetables and removing outer leaves will also help reduced exposure. If you want to be selective in your organic buying, stick with the following list which has been identified as having the highest levels of pesticides by the Environmental Working Group.

    Fruit: 

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Nectarines
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Red Raspberries
  • Imported Grapes

 

    Vegetables: 

  • Spinach
  • Bell Pepper
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Hot Peppers

 

Happy eating!

http://www.divinecaroline.com/33713/79098-organic-food—what-s-fuss-
By: MainStreet

A bowl of cereal alone shouldn’t give you or your kids the shakes first thing in the morning. But considering the amount of sugar in these breakfast favorites, don’t be too surprised if you start feeling a little rattled.

Here are some of the least healthful breakfast cereals marketed directly to children according to the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, which studied 277 different types of cereal and ranked them based on a variety of health factors. Don’t be surprised if they’re among your adult favorites too. (This might just change your grocery shopping habits.)

10. Froot Loops
These colorful loops, not surprisingly, are among the least healthful breakfast cereals. Regular Froot Loops are 41 percent sugar and 10 percent fiber, plus red, blue and yellow dyes. But the Marshmallow version is even worse. They’re 48 percent sugar and 7 percent fiber.

9. Corn Pops
Certain cereals are just as sugary as a glazed doughnut, according to Consumer Reports findings last year. “We studied how 91 youngsters, ages 6 to 16, poured their cereal and found that, on average, they served themselves about 50 percent to 65 percent more than the suggested serving size for three of the four tested cereals,” Consumer Reports said. Corn Pops are 41 percent sugar and have no fiber at all, according to Rudd Center studies.

8. Reese’s Puffs
“Reese’s Puffs is an interesting case because it’s the worst brand in terms of nutrition in our study,” and much of its advertising targets African-Americans, notes Jennifer Harris, Rudd Center marketing director. “In its TV advertising, there are only black actors and on their Web site, it’s all about Reese’s puffs raps with black animated characters saying ‘get your bling,’” Harris explains. African Americans already have higher rates of obesity, so that was disturbing. Reese’s Puffs are 41 percent sugar, 3 percent fiber and contain red, yellow and blue dyes.

7. Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles
These colorful breakfast bits have at least one redeeming quality: they’re fairly high in fiber. But that “doesn’t make a huge difference. The sugar is really the most disturbing thing about this. All Americans eat too much sugar, and if you serve that much sugar at breakfast, that takes up their sugar allocation for the day,” Harris says.

Plus, the Post cereals Web site Postopia.com features games for kids that aren’t accessible unless you have a Post token, which you can only get by buying the cereal, Harris notes. And the majority of these kid-focused cereal Web sites feature breakfast favorites with poor nutrition ratings, the Rudd study found. Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles are 37 percent sugar and 10 percent fiber, and clearly may leach brightly colored dye into your milk.

6. Frosted Flakes
“If you look at marketing literature and market research, it shows that the earlier you introduce brands to children and the more feelings you can associate with your brand, the more they’ll be involved in the brand,” Harris says. Enter Tony the Tiger. Frosted Flakes are 37 percent sugar and 3 percent fiber. The lower-sugar version is 26 percent sugar and doesn’t have any added artificial sweeteners.

5. Trix
With the “Trix are for kids” tagline, there’s no denying that the sugar-coated, colorful cereal is marketed to children as fun. And kids may be affected by these ads at a younger age that you might think. Two- to five-year-old kids saw sugary cereal ads more often (about 550 times per year) than adults (200 times per year). “The number of cereal advertisements viewed by preschoolers is disturbing. Children under age seven or eight years do not possess the cognitive abilities to understand the persuasive intent of advertising, and therefore have no ability to defend against its influence,” the Rudd Center report said.

“I’ve had many parents tell me their kids aren’t affected by ads,” says Harris, [but] I think advertising affects kinds in ways that parents don’t understand.” Trix are 38 percent sugar and 3 percent fiber and contain red yellow and blue dyes.

4. Cocoa Puffs
This highly-advertised chocolate lovers’ favorite is one of the worst when it comes to sugar, but at least there aren’t any artificial colors. And, while it may be vitamin-fortified, among the cereal’s top three ingredients are sugar and corn syrup. And, as a bonus, fructose is added (we assume for good measure). Cocoa Puffs are 44 percent sugar and have 4 percent fiber.

3. Lucky Charms
Disturbingly, sometimes children’s cereals aren’t considered food so much as something to play with. “The same message is being used to market all of these cereals,” says Harris. “It’s all about fun.” In commercials, there’s so little information about the product that you might not even know it’s food, she adds. “This product is more of a toy than a food—a lot of them have bright colors and they come up with new shapes all the time.” Lucky Charms are 41 percent sugar and 4 percent fiber and contain yellow, blue and red dyes, which brings them in as the third-worst cereal.

2. Honey Nut Cheerios
Honey Nut Cheerios are among a list of cereals advertised as “better for you” than other types of breakfast items, “however, these products are all significantly worse for you than other cereals in the General Mills portfolio,” according to the Rudd Center’s report.

The cereal is touted as a “great tasting way to help lower your cholesterol,” according to the brand’s Web site. “Bring these … along as a snack while doing the activities you love, and you can show your heart some love all day long!” the site suggests. But as you lower your cholesterol, you may be raising your blood sugar, since Honey Nut Cheerios are 32 percent sugar and 7 percent fiber.

1. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Cinnamon Toast Crunch is one of the least healthful cereals marketed directly to kids based on their sugar and fiber content and the presence of food dyes, among other factors, according to the Rudd Center. The researchers weren’t surprised to find that many sugary cereals are marketed to kids, but they didn’t expect to find that only sugary cereals target children, says Harris. “The more nutritious ones are marketed to parents, not kids,” she notes.

About 33 percent of Cinnamon Toast Crunch is sugar, according to the Center’s research, while its fiber content is only 3 percent . There’s a reduced sugar version of the breakfast favorite, but the sugar is replaced with Sucralose, an artificial sweetener.

Healthier Options
After digesting all of this sugar-crashing information, cereal lovers need not despair. Healthier options are available. Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats, for example, contain 10 percent fiber and as little as 2 percent sugar.

If you’d prefer something a little sweeter, Kashi ranks as the best brand overall in terms of ingredients, according to the Rudd Center’s studies. And we’ve heard that Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal, which is about 20 percent sugar, tastes just like Honey Smacks, which are about 56 percent sugar.

If you didn’t see your favorite here, type in your favorite at CerealFacts.org to search for stats on your breakfast cereal of choice.

By Althea Chang for MainStreet

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By: Sara Carlson

As of now, I’ve been a vegetarian for about eight years. This does however include slight changes that I’ve made to the extremeness of my diet over the years. For a while, I tried Veganism, and almost past out from a total lack of anything I could eat or make while going to school full time and working.

This also includes my decision to eat fish. When I lived in Bolivia, their version of vegetarian soup had chicken feet in it ‘for flavor.’ So eating fish was a good way to avoid anything too scary and they did have some damn delicious river fish in Bolivia.

I currently still eat fish. My boyfriend/partner is addicted to sushi and now so am I. I love fresh Sashimi, or raw fish cut into strips to eat with wasabi and soy sauce.

Now all these confessions aside, I’m cooking for Thanksgiving this year. Including the turkey. Chris would cook the Turkey, but quite frankly he loves deep-fried turkey … and that is way more frightening thought. Fried foods kinda freak me out. Don’t get me wrong, I love McD’s french fries about once or twice a year, but the ideas of cooking something by submerging it in melted animal fat is just plain weird.

On another note, I’ve decided that when I want to get pregnant, and have kids I don’t want to raise them vegetarian. They will defiantly eat more tofu then normal kids, but I want them to enjoy anything and everything they want to try.

In deciding to cook this turkey, I’m still battling to see if I’m going to eat any.

Something about this big airy, open, natural light filled house has made me want to fill it with laughing children and not just cats. In one year. As of October, we will talk about kids and whether we want to wait another year or start trying.

I never wanted my own kids until I started dating Chris. Before fear of passing on my Arthritis to my children and watching them struggle with the pain and isolation that comes with such a disease when you’re so young was not something I was willing to do.

I still struggle when I think that it might happen anyway. But I want to see and raise and touch and love our babies. I want to see who they’ll take after and who they’ll look like.

So, maybe I eat the turkey I cook and maybe not. But what it really means is how close I am to giving in and letting go … and hoping that I’m ready for babies and all that comes with them.
http://www.divinecaroline.com/22144/87262-vegetarian-cooks-turkey

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By: Smart Green Gourmet

I was home alone on a Sunday night, staring down Peter Berley, Mario Batali, and some hen-of-the-woods mushrooms that I’d picked up at the farmer’s market. Peter said to oven-roast the mushrooms before returning to the skillet—too fussy for a weeknight. Mario demanded his delicious tomato sauce as a basic ingredient, and I had none on hand.

Could I make a rich, delicious mushroom ragu using only a skillet and a knife, without having so much as removed an onion from the pantry drawer, in only 30 minutes? Nah. I could do it in twenty-five. Boys? Game on.

Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4, with whole-wheat pasta, thick slices of toasted whole-grain bread, or polenta.

    Ingredients: 

  • 2 tablespoon EVOO
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 baby carrots, sliced (optional)
  • 12–16 ounces of wild mushrooms, or a mix of wild and button mushrooms, chopped coarsely or sliced into pieces appropriate for a chunky sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 t thyme
  • One 14 and 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon butter or heart-smart margarine (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
2. Add onions. Sauté about 5 minutes until golden-brown. Add garlic and bay leaf and carrots, if using.
3. Add mushrooms. Sauté about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until ingredients are well-mingled and mushrooms have released most of their liquid.
4. Add wine and stir to deglaze pan.
5. Add salt, thyme, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Grind in some fresh black pepper. Reduce heat.
6. Stir in additional 1 tablespoon butter/margarine, if desired. Taste to adjust salt and pepper and correct seasonings.

http://www.divinecaroline.com/51234/86955-weeknight-mushroom-ragu

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