A Few of My Favorite Things

Just wanted to share a few of the things I’m hyperfocused on right now!

Baked Oatmeal
Better yet, baked oatmeal in my adorable single-serving Le Creuset dish.
Click the picture above for credit to the recipe. I didn’t make it up. I’m simply a recipe follower, but I have to pass it on. It’s so simple to make.
•Preheat oven to 375.
•Mix in one medium bowl: 1 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 1/2 cup milk, 2 TBSP creamed wildflower honey (or whatever honey you have), some chopped nuts (if you want- I love the texture and taste of the nuts but I’m not picky about what kind. I pick a handful of nuts out of my trader joe’s trail mix and chop them up), and 1/2 a cup of berries of your choice (or I have even used dried fruit which is good too).
•Put into an adorable little dish (greased) like I do or grease a muffin tin and fill the cups (as it doesn’t rise).
•Bake for 20 min. Then broil the top for about 5 min so that it has a nice crust.

It tastes so yummy. 20 minutes can be a long time to wait for breakfast. I suggest to double the recipe so that you make all 12 of your muffin tins. Then eat some, refrigerate some, or even freeze some. Then you have breakfast for a couple days. Re-warm in the microwave and drizzle the top with more honey and chopped nuts. Or skip the broiling step if you have a toaster oven and toast them to re-heat/crust the top. I also read that some people had a hard time keeping them together when they’re made in a muffin tin. I learned it’s when the fruit is on the side. When I make them in muffin tins I don’t add the berries when mixing. I fill the tins and then push in the berries so that I know each bite has some fruit and I can make sure it doesn’t touch the sides (so it can hold it’s form). Any which way, just make sure you let them cool before trying to dig them out.

Listen people. This is amazingly good and healthy. Gotta love that.

These are 2 of my favorite blogs right now:

My Crazy Life as a Farmers Wife : I want to be this woman. This is my goal. Well, minus the wheat and potato farm. I try to stay away from either of those 2 things as much as possible…but that’s another story. 😉

Keeper of the Home : This site is a constant of mine. It has so much good natural health information. I’m pretty much convinced this gal knows everything.

Natural Cleaning/De-toxing the House
I’ve been doing a lot of reading/documentary-watching on the daily toxins we come in contact with. You all know how we’ve been trying to eat cleaner- staying away from toxic GMO’s and factory farmed animal products but what good does that do if I wash my clothes in toxins, my hair, rub it on my body, and clean my house with them?

Not very much good that’s for sure. We are a family full of tummy problems. Toxins are very hard for the body to get rid of. One of the ways it does this is by making more fat. Toxins are not water soluble, but fat soluble. Our family also doesn’t have a lot of extra fat to absorb the effects of toxins. Instead, it goes straight to destroying the balance of our gut flora and digestive system (which is more than just your colon and intestines- it’s your liver and kidneys too).

This movie is extremely helpful. What I like about this film is that it doesn’t just give you the food industry is gross speech, but gives you ideas of what you CAN do to be in control of your health. I highly recommend it to all. The first half does address obesity but the second half is very important to people of all sizes. Click the image to watch a trailer.

Buying organic or “green” laundry soaps, cleaners, beauty products can be expensive and we’re on a tight budget. Oddly enough, making your own “green” products is relatively cheap and easy. Read more about what to do from the Keeper of the Home blog I referred to earlier: Spring Clean the Toxins. She has lots of ideas but here is the recipe that I use for my All Purpose Cleaner. It works so incredibly well. Also, I started using a microfiber cloth on cleaning days (or a couple- when you’re done, wash them so they’re ready for next week). They pick up so well. On the day to day spills I still use paper towels but this helps. Instead of putting in a drop of essential oils, I just by the lavender castile soap from Whole Foods (the 365 brand). It smells so good. You’re only using a 1/2 tsp per spray bottle made so it lasts…FOR-EV-ER. My mother-in-law is working on the making of beauty products, whew. One less thing for me to obsess over. 🙂

Deck Gardening
I have a brown thumb. I have never been able to keep plants alive. That may be an issue in my aspirations to become a farmer. I also currently live in an apartment…which means I have no land of my own. So, I’ve decided to practice in containers on my deck. I’ve started out very, very small (since I don’t trust myself yet) and have been obsessing over these plants. Most mornings you can find Kadence and myself on the deck talking to the little tomatoes (which we got so excited about when they showed up). I’m going to take a few boring minutes to document what I’ve learned from this year so that next year I have a place to go to remember…
Dear Jennifer (I only refer to myself as Jennifer when I’m in trouble): This is too many plants for this container. 1-2 plants per 5 gallon container not 5 plants in a 5 gallon container. Somehow tomatoes are growing but you have lost a lot of foliage to yellowing of lower leaves- you will most likely get more tomatoes if the plants have more space and aren’t competing for nutrients from the soil. Your saving grace has been this website with it’s plant brews. The tomato plants act all happy when they get one of these concoctions…lucky you, but don’t do that again next year. Give them space.

Dear Jennifer: The herb pot is a fabulous idea. Saves you so much money- $3 for a fresh herb? Pssh. No more. Plant more basil next year. You use it a lot. The salsa deck garden idea (tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapenos) was a cute idea but not very practical. Cilantro loves sunny but cooler weather. You had cilantro coming out your ears during the cooler weeks of spring. But once it turned 80, the plant began to bolt. Once it bolts (as pictured) and flowers, the leaves turn bitter. Cilantro doesn’t like warm soil. Nothing you can do about it. Part of nature. However, tomatoes and jalapenos aren’t going to be ready until it’s hotter. That means the cilantro season and tomato seasons don’t coincide. Next time plant the cilantro in the fall when the tomatoes and jalapenos are done (and canned), then make salsa and can it. Or do both Spring and Fall but freeze your spring harvest. On a side note, the Lavender is lovely…haven’t done anything with it yet but I have grand intentions of trying to make my own lavender essential oil…I’ll let you know how that goes.

Dear Jennifer: This is just humorous. This little pot is not appropriate. You need another 5 gallon planter for 1-2 jalapeno plants. This is most likely why this is the lone pepper. Once he is fully grown and harvested, you are going to attempt to re-plant the plants in a bigger container. Good luck. Hope you don’t kill the plants. Don’t do that next year. You did, however, learn a very good tip when your flowers were dropping (instead of turning into peppers). Put 1 TBSP of Epsom salts into a spray bottle. Fill with warm water and shake it to dissolve. Spray the leaves and flowers. It changes the PH balance of your plant. Not sure exactly what happened there but your plant was much happier after you did this and began to actually grow this lone pepper.

Other than these mistakes it has been a fun adventure. Trust yourself and your ability to google problems, and plant a lot more next year. Like, can’t even walk on the deck more. 😉


GMOs: in Food

This is to pick up from GMOs: from the beginning where we learned where they started- in the medical industry.  The research then brought me to the controversy of GMOs in your food.

I read through this quick read [I think it is meant for juvenille education purposes but, you know, that means it will be quick and to the point].  So I learned before that GMO is a genetically modified organism, where scientists take one gene from the DNA of one unrelated organism and puts it into the DNA of another organism.  From the outside the plant can look the same but carry a characteristic that it normally doesn’t have.  This biotechnology can range from tomatoes that are more juicy and melons that ripen more slowly to vegetables that can be their own pesticide.

For years, farmers have played with genetics to get the best from their crops and livestock.  They pick seeds from the best plants to re-use and they choose the animals that produce the most milk and are the most healthy [therefore carrying “good” genes] to use for breeding.  Farmers and gardeners have also learned how to cross similar crops.  For example, they can cross a juicy apple with an apple that is healthier for you, creating a healthy juicy apple.  They call these plants hybrids.  They can also cross breed similar animals.  A breed of sheep that can stand the cold can be bred with a breed that produces thick wool making a strong hardy sheep with thick wool [cross breeding animals, however, can take many years].  With biotechnology, scientists are able to take the desired gene from one organism and place it into the DNA of even an unrelated organism [this is a GMO].  Therefore, they can use a gene from a fish that keeps it from freezing in icy water and put it into the DNA of a tomato, resulting in a plant that can better survive frost.  Scientists discovered that a tiny bacteria in the soil makes a poison called Bt that can kill insects [but they say doesn’t hurt people].  They have now added the Bt poison to many crops making it it’s own pesticide.  This results in not having to spray the crop with pesticides.

Some scientists believe that GM crops are the answer to world hunger and our fears of weather changes.  They see endless possibilities of making crops that wouldn’t normally be able to grow in areas that are too dry or too cold.  They are doing things like adding a gene to rice that produces Vitamin A so that rice is healthier for countries that rely heavily on rice as a source of food.  They are using GM to make animals grow bigger and faster.  Or to make animals with less fat and more meat.

So why is this all so controversial?

Some scientists believe that GM crops could wipe out wild plants or create super-strong weeds.  Controlling GM crops is near impossible.  As corn that creates it’s own Bt is created, it can naturally crossbreed with other plants, making them create their own Bt.  This means that plants and flowers that you don’t want killing off insects [killing off insects means messing with pollination] or that it’s killing more insects than what you want.  Monarch butterfly caterpillars do not eat crops yet studies have shown that corn pollen from GM corn can kill them.  If a gene that allows GM crops to be unaffected by weedkiller, overtime gets into the weeds [through cross pollination] this could create a “superweed” resulting in the need for more chemicals needed to keep the weeds from choking out crops [brought to you by…the same company that makes the GMO seeds].  The effect that genetically modifying plants can have in nature is unknown and almost impossible to predict.

Right now crops are tested to make sure they are safe for us to eat.  They have said that complete testing of all GM foods would be too lengthy and costly of a process, so the government has come up with a standard that as long as it is “substantially equivalent in nutrition” to the conventionally grown food, the food does not need to be tested beyond it’s initial test.  The problem that some scientists argue is that they may be nutritionally equal but may not be physiologically equal.  Therefore their reactions with other chemicals could be different.  So, a GM tomato gets tested and approved  because it’s substantially equal. But the tomato sauce that gets made from the tomato does not need to be tested.  However, when it’s made, the tomatoes could react badly with [let’s say] the onions, causing it to be toxic when it normally wouldn’t have that reaction.  It would never be noticed because the tomato itself was not toxic and was deemed “the same.”  The problem didn’t occur until it was mixed in.  Since they are not testing all possible consequences of that tomato mixed together with everything else [and most importantly what reactions happen within our individual bodies], this label of “safe” is only relevant, at best, to the individual tomato that was tested.

People with food allergies could also begin to have reactions to foods they wouldn’t normally react to.  For example, in the 1990s a gene from a brazil nut was added to a soybean to make it more nourishing.  They realized that people with nut allergies would have a reaction to the GM soybean and had to discontinue.  So if we start adding soy genes into corn and corn genes into soy, it could mess with those who are allergic to corn but not soy [or vice-verse].  What about adding the fish gene into something like a tomato?  Someone who is allergic to fish could now be allergic to tomatoes.

These scientists, believe that this isn’t an answer to world hunger [or at least not a safe one] and is very damaging to our ecosystem and the way things naturally work.  As far as enhancing our food nutritionally, these scientists would say where a potato could be genetically modified to contain less starch, it would be safer to just eat less potatoes.

For more information by scientists in support of GM foods go here.
For more information by scientists against GM foods go here.

Both sites are done by professional, well-educated scientists.  Both, not surprisingly, talks very negatively and defensively against the other.  So which is it?  Who is right?  How far should we go in genetically modifying foods?  And because we “can” does that mean we “should.”

I dunno.

I think it is something for all of us to think about and make a decision for ourselves.  And here is where I have a huge problem.  Right now we are not able to make the decision, whether our family will or will not be eating genetically modified foods, on our own.  Over 80% of processed foods [non-organic] contain at least some GM foods.  Whether it’s a little [just a bit of the corn] or in entirety [that tomato].  They are not currently labeled.  Which means I can’t watch and see if I personally have a negative reaction to soybeans or just these particular genetically modified soybeans.  In most of Europe, they have now moved to making food makers and restaurants label foods if they contain GM foods.  But not in America.  The US is currently the largest maker of GM foods.  I’m not sure the reason behind them not labeling them except that they want to protect their industry and are afraid that we won’t buy them if we know they’re there.  So right now, the only way I can choose to not eat GM foods is to buy purely organic.  The problem is, like all products of higher quality, they cost more.  My family can’t afford to eat 100% organic like I would like.  It concerns me to not be able to look at two brands of a product and choose which one uses GM foods and which one doesn’t [I can at least choose a brand of spaghetti sauce that doesn’t use high fructose corn syrup over a brand that does].

So whether or not you believe it’s good or bad, I think we can all agree that it’s our right to know that it’s there.  Here is a link to a site that shows how you can read a plu to avoid GM produce [of course I don’t know if it is accurate].

To join the fight visit this site: www.labelgmos.org
Or to learn more about the movement against GMOs: http://www.saynotogmos.org/
I tried to find a site to go to, if you want to support the GMO movement but couldn’t, so you’re on your own there.  😉

Also- this link will take you to the research Dr. Oz did on the subject.

Hopefully this helps you understand the fight better.  I don’t think I exhausted [of course] all research on the subject but it helped me understand the fight and the arguments on both sides for me to be able to make a decision for my family.  Hopefully it helps you decide for yours.

GMOs: from the beginning

GloFish pictured above is the first genetically modified pet.

This is the first of two posts about GMOs where I want to compile the information I learn.  Obviously I have an opinion.  Everyone has an opinion on everything.  But I always try to remember that there are 2 sides to every coin.  I’m always open to read more information that is presented to me.  I will put out the info that I find in my search.  I’m also going to ask the questions that the information raises in my mind.  If anyone finds answers to these questions feel free to add a link.  I am not offended by your opinion but I am offended by rudeness or snide remarks, so if you have conflicting views, no biggie- leave comments below with your educated information [I cite sources, so should you] minus the rudeness and I’ll be happy to keep reading on the subject!

Like all good internet researchers I started here with Wikipedia.  I know, I know, hardly scientific or reliable BUT it cites it’s info [which as we know I am a believer of] and so it is a good place that has a lot of links on the same topic, a place to start and branch from.  To sum up the page, basically GMO [genetically modified organism] is where they take the DNA molecules from different sources and combine them to make a new set of genes.  Now the techniques of how they do this sounds a little iffy to me, yet I acknowledge my very limited biology knowledge could be the reason the uses of “viruses and “negative-bacterias” to accomplish the integration of the molecules sounds scary to me.  Maybe the terms “virus” and “negative-bacterias that cause plant tumors” encompasses much more than what I know about.  Could definitely be.  But it automatically makes me feel uneasy about the process.

Nonetheless, it’s done and now you have a GMO.  Here is the quote from Wikipedia of the first GMO:

“This is called genetic engineering and was made possible through the discovery of DNA and the creation of the first recombinant bacteria in 1973; an existing bacterium E. coli expressing an exogenic Salmonella gene.[4] This led to concerns in the scientific community about potential risks from genetic engineering, which were first discussed in depth at the Asilomar Conference in 1975. One of the main recommendations from this meeting was that government oversight of recombinant DNA research should be established until the technology was deemed safe.”

I clicked on the reference above [4] and tried to read that report of this first creation but since I’m not biologically sound couldn’t really make much of it.  So going by what I read here in Wikipedia, what they created had Salmonella.  And it scared people.  And they said we have better watch this [in 1975].  In 1978 Genentech was founded and in September they released that they were able to create human insulin [up until this point diabetics were taking insulin shots that was taken from the pancreas of animals see here].  As exciting as it was here is a quote from Genentech’s press release:

“While extensive testing and refinement of the process is needed, we want to see human insulin and other genetically engineered products benefiting the people who need them in the shortest possible time,” said Swanson.

Four years later, in 1982, FDA approved Humulin, the first r-DNA [recombinant DNA] human insulin manufactured by Lilly.  To me, it seems like a pretty good discovery for those with diabetes.  Of course, there are many debates to some of the side effects [of which the FDA says there are no differences between natural human insulin and GMO human insulin].  Here began the wide the use of GMOs in pharmaceutical drugs.

*Side Note: Here as I click on link to link to link I begin to see a close relation to the pharmaceutical drug company, Lilly, and the Bush Sr. and Jr. administrations – Bush Sr. who was on the board for Lilly in1977-1979…right before he ran for president in 1980.  Hmmmm.  I wonder who footed the bill for his campaign…note to self: research what legislations regarding drugs may have occurred during Bush Sr.’s reign. In 2002, during Bush Jr.’s administration, this little diddy went down [from this page of Wikipedia]:

Vaccine legislation protection

Early in 2002, U.S. Senator Bill Frist tried to obtain protection for Eli Lilly from suits attached to legislation that would increase the availability of vaccines to average Americans, and regulate lawsuits against Eli Lilly involving thiomersal, but this attempt was thwarted by U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, who opposed the measure. Despite Kennedy’s effort, however, identical legal protections found their way into Homeland Security legislation (H.R. 5005). After the bill passed, no one in Washington, D.C. was willing to take responsibility for having written or inserting the Lilly legal protections. The rider was later annulled by Congress in 2003. Eli Lilly’s Political action committee (PAC) had given Frist almost $10,000 in campaign contributions in 2004.

The White House denied any knowledge of the author/sponsor of the Lilly amendment. Many argue this stretches belief, considering the ties the Bush administration has to the pharmaceutical giant.

So in 2002 Lilly pays to get written protection from lawsuits regarding their Thiomersal used in vaccinations.  Why would they pay $10,000 for that?  Because this campaign was happening [encouraging everyone to get a flu shot, actually 2 shots, targeting small children].  And they knew the vaccines had Thiomersal [a vaccine preservative containing mercury] in it and they new that mercury in children causes neurological damage.  You’ll notice in that previous link, information from the CDC [Center for Disease Control] about what mercury does, vaccines aren’t listed in the ways exposed to mercury.  They say ethylmercury isn’t harmful like methylmercury is.  Ok. So.  Lilly spent a lot of money to make a protection against lawsuits magically appear…because Thiomersal isn’t dangerous?  Sounds “fishy [mercury pun intended]” to me…but we’ll explore this bunny trail another day when I blog my vaccination research.*

Ok back to GMO’s originating in the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Here I can see the benefits of the use of GMOs.  Those who are prescribed a pharmaceutical drug are given a list of possible side effects and risks attached to the use of this GMO derived drug.  From there it’s up to the consumer to do their research and decide if it is right for them.  Even if they decide to use the drug, they can monitor how they feel and can know what is the source of how they feel- negatively or positively.  Either way it’s up to the consumer.

Now another way that a GMO is now used is in our food.  Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

To date the most controversial but also the most widely adopted application of GMO technology is patent-protected food crops that are resistant to commercial herbicides or are able to produce pesticidal proteins from within the plant, or stacked trait seeds, which do both.

Click here to continue with me in my search about GM foods.