Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jan. 9: Toxin of the Day ~ Calcium Proprionate

Today's lucky winner is....drumroll...... calcium proprionate!

This ingredient was in every packaged bread and wrap on our local grocery stores shelves today! Of course, this unidentified substance made me curious so I came home to research it. Boy, am I glad I resisted the urge to pick up those wraps "just this once."

Calcium Proprionate is used in bakery products as a mold inhibitor. Not only does it inhibit mold, but it is used in some countries as a pesticide. I guess it inhibits bugs too, and apparently the bugs, unlike the FDA, are smart enough to realize it is poison. Calcium Proprionate has been condemned by the Pesticide Action Network in North America as being "slightly toxic." PAN also has stated concerns about the effect of this chemical on the water supply.

Studies in Brazil have shown that rats given proprionates have shown evidence of brain alterations and learning deficits. My question, of course, upon reading that was, How can you tell if a rat has a learning disability. Easily, apparently, because a rat fed proprionate to the equivalent of 3 slices of bread per day to a 6 year old child, was unable to learn the mazes. These studies are being continued, as scientist strive to prove that proprionates can affect a young child's brain, causing serious developmental delays and behavioural issues.

Two of the biggest bread producers in Australia are currently phasing out the use of Calcium Proprionate in their products based on parent outcry.

If Calcium Proprionate is in everything on the shelves, how can you purchase baked goods without this toxin? I go to a local bakery and purchase my bread. They carry a great line of whole wheat bread, dinner rolls, and hamburger buns. The foods there are perfectly clean. You must store them in the refrigerator or they will spoil quickly (small price to pay!) I sometimes freeze the bread in slices, ready for the toaster. In our small town I have yet to find wraps that are clean, so I will post that when I find it. For Mexican food we have been using a clean corn tortilla that we found at the grocery store.

We will definitely be avoiding this one!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Jan. 8 - Back with the Fruits and Veggies

Today was a lot better in the fruit and veggie department. I feel a lot more energetic too!

Today's eats:

M1: Whole wheat toast, peanut butter, banana
M2: Mixed green salad, tomato, grilled chicken, Newman's OV dressing
M3: Trail mix, banana
M4: Homemade chili, Triscuits
M5: Paper bag popcorn

Chili is so easy to make clean. I use the crock pot for mine and then I have a great family meal ready when I get home from work. (Love, love, love the crock pot!)

1 lb. ground lean meat (beef, chicken or turkey)
large can of tomato juice (read your label!)
1 can of beans (black, pinto or kidney)
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbs chili powder
to taste: garlic powder, crushed chili flakes (spicy alert), onion powder
Spray crock pot with cooking spray. (This makes for easy clean up). Crumble raw ground meat into crock pot. Add all other ingredients. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
You can top with with yogurt or guacamole. My kids like shredded cheddar in their chili. I sometimes serve it with crackers or crusty whole wheat rolls. Leftovers will thicken up and make yummy burrito filling. Leftovers are also good when stirred into brown rice, topped with a little cheese and baked until warm and bubbly.
I love food that makes leftovers. My kids however, only like leftovers if they are presented differently. Thus the variations we have come up with.
I hope you enjoy it!

Jan.8 - Toxin of the Day: Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn is a "guilt free" staple of dieters far and wide. Sure it is low calorie, but as we all know, "low calorie" and "good for you" are not always riding in the same car.

Let's examine the ingredients in a popular brand of microwave popcorn that you can find on the shelves of any grocery store in North America.

Ingredients: popping corn, palm oil, salt, potassium chloride, natural and artificial flavors, butter (Cream and annato), color added, freshness preserved by TBHQ and Citric Acid

Okay, the first three ingredients I understand. I can picture them in my head. I might actually use those ingredients in making my popcorn at home. But what are those other ingredients?

Potassium Chloride: According to Wikipedia, the number one use is for fertilizer. Mmmm. It is also used to melt ice in commercial "sidewalk salt" and for a little bit more fun, it is used as part of the chemical compound used in lethal injections to carry out the death sentence. Wow. Could you pass me some of that?

Natural and Artificial Flavors: Natural flavors are derived in some way from organic things, but not necessarily the organic item it is supposed to taste like. Artificial flavors are synthetic and if they make up less than a certain percentage of the ingredients then the manufacturer is not required by the FDA to distinguish the chemicals used to produce those flavors. So basically, your guess is as good as mine as to what this popcorn contains.

Annato: A naturally occurring food coloring, Annato is the only natural food colouring linked to allergic reactions. This is what gives the popcorn it's yellow "buttery" color.

TBHQ: That is the short way of saying tertiary butylhydroquionine. I'm not sure how to say it the long way, but I don't blame them for abbreviating it. This is added to stabilize the oils used in the popcorn. This chemical has been proven to cause precancerous stomach tumors in lab animals, and long term exposure is said to cause other cancers as well. TBHQ is also used to stabilize explosives and make varnish.

Citric Acid: That's just vitamin C, is the common refrain. True. However the commercial citric acid used as a food stabilizer is obtained by growing mold in scrap molasses. I'd frankly prefer to get my vitamin C from eating an orange. Other uses for citric acid include delaying drying time for cement, developing film and making explosives.

Let's make our paper bag popcorn tonight instead, shall we?

Have a squeaky clean day!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jan. 7: Little Victories

It's really important to celebrate the little victories. An entire year of little victories can lead to a whole pile of pounds lost and health gained. Too often we beat ourselves up for the mistakes we make and not often enough do we congratulate ourselves on the things we do right.

I wanted to take some time today to reflect on some clean eating victories I have had over the past month and a half:

* I haven't had even a sip of Diet Coke since Nov. 30
* I didn't use the holidays as an excuse to eat with abandon
* I lost one pound the week of Christmas
* I lost one pound the week of New Year's
* My "cheat" meals are getting healthier every time
* I don't crave sugar anymore
* I have started working out again
* I no longer enjoy eating out - I prefer my homemade clean food
* I have not caved to emotional eating during a very stressful time in my personal life
* I am able to limit myself to a couple of bites of a cookie or other unhealthy treat without feeling deprived
* I carry a water bottle around with my constantly

I feel like clean eating is now my habit, where before going through the drive thru was my habit. I love the health and vibrancy I get from eating clean. All of these baby steps over the past 5 weeks have led to a weight loss of 13 pounds. I feel more motivated than ever to keep it up. I now celebrate saying "No thank you" when someone offers me a bite of something that isn't good for me. I celebrate getting through a bad day without reaching for the Oreos. A cheat has gone from a triple cheese burger, fries and a Frosty to a slice of thin crust chicken and veggie pizza.

Make sure to look at the little picture on your journey too. Celebrate every single one of those little victories that you achieve on your way to a healthier self.

I have had kind of a rotten week personally this week. I have had financial issues, arguments with my daughter, problems with my ex and trouble with my business. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I have not caved to emotional eating throughout this week. My food hasn't been perfect. In fact, strangely I have to force myself to eat, which has never happened before. So I have had less food than scheduled and the intake of fruits and veggies has been low. I also have to work on getting my water consumption up and this week's workouts have gone by the wayside.

All of that aside, I lost 2 pounds and I ate clean, so I'm claiming this week as a victory.

Today's food (don't expect a lot -I had a meeting that ran late and the microwave melted a baggie on my Brussels sprouts )

m1: whole wheat toast, natural peanut butter ( in the car on the way to meeting)
m2: chicken breast, apple
m3: trail mix
m4: tostada w/refried beans and chicken or beef, veggies, jalapeno relish
m5: popcorn or fruit

Cheers to all of our little victories!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jan. 6: Toxin of the Day - Sodium Benzoate

Today's lucky toxin is.......Sodium Benzoate!!!!!!!!!!!

This killer chemical is generally found in acidic foods like salad dressings, carbonated beverages, pickles and condiments. It's purpose in these foods is to act as a retardant to fungus and bacteria.

A report by Professor Jim Stevenson at Southampton University states that when sodium benzoate is mixed with certain artificial food colors it can result in an increase in hyperactive behaviour in children. Stevenson recommends avoiding Sodium Benzoate.

Even more frighteningly, when combined with ascorbic acid, a very common additive, the mixture of the two creates benzene, which has been proven to cause leukemia and other types of cancer.

If you choose not to consume your Sodium Benzoate, it can also serve the purpose of acting as a fuel in "whistle mix" in fireworks, as it makes a loud whistling noise when ignited. It is also an anti-corrosive in automotive antifreeze.

Currently, Coca Cola is looking for a substitute for Sodium Benzoate, and has plans to phase the ingredients out of their soft drinks as soon as a substitute becomes available.

Read your labels!!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jan. 5: A Little Cheese with My Whine

Today has really been a mixed bag. I have to whine a little. My 14 year old is staging a rebellion about the food and she really has me worried. She refuses to eat breakfast unless I buy commercial bagels and sugar-y cereal. Nope, not gonna happen. So then she starves until lunch and buys (with her own money) pizza and fries at school. I don't want to see her end up killing her metabolism out of spite!!!

Just so you know, when trying to change the kids over the course doesn't always flow smoothly. I'd hate for you guys to think that it's always sunshine and roses here. I'm sure things will even out shortly but it makes me feel so badly when she refuses to take suggestions from me.

This was also a stressful day at work. I did my financial statements and ew. Not quite what it needs to be! I have a few ideas to bring in some more money; it's just hard to see the numbers in black (red) and white!

To ice today's beautiful cake, I forgot to put the chili in the crockpot this morning!!! So dinner time rolled around with no dinner.

There's a bright side of this coin of a day though! I'm comparing this to what would have happened before Clean Eating took over my kitchen. I did not go through McDonald's drive thru, I did not order pizza, nor did I eat chips, dip, and ice cream for dinner. I went to the fridge and pulled out last nights leftover roast beef, some crusty bakery fresh dinner rolls and a container of freshly made fruit salad. We had roast beef and cheese sandwiches on dinner rolls (I just had one) and fruit salad for supper. It was great and I feel like a success.

Today's Eats:

M1: whole grain toast, natural pb, apple
M2: roast beef, brussel sprouts, 1/2 whole wheat dinner roll
M3: lasagna ( fairly clean except for the white pasta - homemade by someone else - everything is from scratch)
M4: trail mix
M5: roast beef and NZ cheddar sandwich, dinner roll, fruit salad
M6: brown bag popcorn

A bit high on the carbs today but all in all, not a weight gain day and fairly clean - and great for such a stressful day.

Jan. 5 - Toxin of the Day: Trisodium Phosphate

I'd like to introduce a new feature on my blog, The Toxin of the Day! Food companies are doing North America a huge disservice by legally introducing poisons into the food we feed our children and consume each day.

Consider preservatives for a moment. How do you think they preserve food? They preserve food by making it inhospitable to mold and bacteria. Basically, most of them are nothing but minute doses of pesticides. If they are toxic to bacteria, how do you think that they relate to our bodies? People walk around feeling sick and exhausted all of the time, and I firmly believe it is because of the constant influx of toxins we are voluntarily consuming.

Today's lucky winner is Trisodium Phosphate. Sodium phosphates are used as an emulsifier - that means they blend foods that would not normally stay blended. They are commonly found in processed cheeses, processed meats, and canned soups. It can also be used as a leavening agent in batter or commercial cakes.

Now the fun part: let's see what else Trisodium Phosphate is used for and decide whether or not we want to eat it!

The primary use for this chemical is in cleaning products. Particularly, it is the active ingredient in many toilet bowl cleaners. These cleaners carry the warning:


The Clean Water Act has taken steps to limit use of this product in cleaning supplies because of the damage it causes to the environment. They have great ecological concerns about this chemical being introduced into our water supply. The FDA, however, still deems this safe to eat.

I don't know about you, but I have no interest in feeding myself or my family any food that contains this product.

PLEASE READ YOUR LABELS!!! If you can't picture in your head the source of the ingredient, you probably don't want to eat it.

I'll be back later to talk about today's food.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Jan. 4 - And more food prep.....

Today was my grocery and food prep day. I thought I'd show you what $60 of Clean groceries looks like in my little part of the world.
I got whole grain bread and buns from the bakery, a sirloin roast, 2 packs of chicken breasts, sea salt, a pineapple, granny smith apples, some very green bananas, asparagus, baby carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, grape tomatoes, organic salad mix, clean pizza sauce, a can of white beans, and trail mix ingredients. The fruit salad that you see already prepared contains: One expensive slice of watermelon, a cantaloupe, blackberries and blueberries. Not pictured is a container of extra virgin olive oil and a 5 pound bag of yukon gold potatoes.
I am going to cook the roast and the chicken in oven bags at the same time today. I am also going to roast the Brussels sprouts and some potatoes, garlic, and carrots. I like oven bags for lean cuts of meat because they stay nice and juicy and there is very little clean up. I'm going to prep the other veggies into steamer bags for future use. We will have decadent leftovers this week!
People often ask me if it's more expensive to eat the way I do. I think $60-$80 is a reasonable grocery bill for a family of 3. We will have to get milk later in the week but we should be okay aside from that.
The expense is in getting started on the new way of eating. You find short cuts and ways to shop less expensively as you become accustomed to the way you are eating. The initial investment in condiments like clean sweeteners (sucanat, maple syrup, honey), whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat flour), natural nut butters and clean seasonings can be daunting but now I only replace these odds and ends once in a while. I also no longer eat out, so that is about $40-$50 a week that I was previously spending that no longer figures into the budget.
Today I bought myself a reward for finally breaking the 200 barrier. I was really getting tired of toting my food around in plastic grocery bags. Here's my new cooler bag! I think it's really cute and it's HUGE! I put my Eat-Clean Family and Kids Cookbook beside it for reference. I always photographed one of the 3 water bottles that goes everywhere with me - they will fit very nicely in my bag!

I've gotten a few questions about my trail mix. It varies what I put in it. The grocery photo above has this week's version. It contains:
4 parts raisins
1 part cashews
1 part almonds
1 part banana chips
Some people put some dark chocolate chips in their trail mix but the above is sufficiently sweet for us. The kids love it too (***added bonus***)
Today's food:
M1: whole wheat toast, natural pb, 1/2 pear
M2: Leftover stir fry containing broccoli, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms and chicken
M3: Bean dip w/multi grain tortilla chips ( the chips have gotta go! too high in fat!)
M4: Roast beef, garlic roasted potatoes and carrots, roasted Brussels sprouts, asparagus
(the kids are going to have to try the Brussels sprouts but I'm making the asparagus as a backup veggie)
M5: fruit salad
Have a squeaky clean day!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Jan. 3 - Clean "Junk"

I knew the day would come and today it did. We were out today and the plan was to go out to lunch. We were visiting a friend in the hospital and we were planning to stop near the hospital to grab a bite to eat. There was absolutely nothing around so we ended up heading home. During our drive home, the snowfall turned into a blizzard and there was no way I was driving anywhere but home. My oldest proceeded to get upset because I was "depriving" her from junk. She said, "I'm a kid!!! Kids eat junk!"

So I've put on my mom thinking hat and I'm coming up with some more clean food that will pass as junk. Here are some of the things I have come up with so fa:

How about the ease of microwave popcorn without the chemistry project? All you need is a brown paper bag, 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels, some sea salt and some olive oil. Put the kernels in your bag and roll the top over twice, leaving plenty of room for your kernels to pop. Put this in the microwave for 1.5 - 2 minutes. When it's done add a splash of olive oil and sea salt to taste, close the bag and shake it to mix it up. POOF! Truly healthy microwave popcorn.
^ this recipe is thanks to "Natmo", a wonderful member of the forum.^
Clean meatballs
Clean marinara sauce
2 cloves of roasted garlic
olive oil
low fat mozzarella or Parmesan
Clean bun
Heat up meatballs of your choice in marinara sauce - careful not to use too much sauce or the sandwiches will be too messy to eat. Slice the buns in half and brush or spray with olive oil. Spread roasted garlic on the buns. Toast these in the oven, then top with meatballs, sauce and cheese. Return to the oven until cheese is melted. I eat these sandwiches open-faced with a knife and fork. (only 1/2 a bun that way). You can also top them with onions and peppers.
Can of low-fat refried beans (check ingredients to make sure they're clean - we use President's Choice brand)
Shredded low fat cheese
Clean taco sauce or salsa
(I make this dip in a loaf pan - it's the perfect size)
Spread the beans in the pan. Top with salsa, then cheese. Bake at 350 until hot and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Serve with multigrain or other clean tortilla chips, or pita chips. Leftovers are great as burrito or pita filling.
I know these are not fancy cooking. They barely qualify as cooking - more as putting stuff together. I'm working on some other ideas that I will share with you after some experimentation. I want my kids to enjoy eating clean, not to feel deprived.
I felt a sense of urgency today, even though DD was just sulking because she wanted to eat out. The surest way to make this change fail is for the kids to feel like they are getting "ripped off." I feel so strongly about this way of life - I'm going to work as hard as I can to make it work for all of us.
Eats were a little weird today, what with being stuck in the car in a blizzard for 3 hours! Here they are:
M1: whole wheat toast w/ natural pb, apple
M2: Trail mix
M3: Bean dip and multigrain chips
M4: Open faced meatball sub
M5: Fruit
So, low on the fruits and veggies but nothing bad here!