Sunday, May 31, 2009

Book Review: The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O'Brien

If you or a loved one has or suspects they have food allergies or sensitivities, you owe it to yourself and them to pick up a copy of The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O'Brien.

Written in much the same mindset as Seeds of Deception, Omnivore's Dilemma, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, O'Brien takes the topic of food even further with even more studies and helpful information for the allergy sufferer. She also makes it personal, as the information she found and shares in this book pertains to her own children's health and the health of the coming generations.

The fact that carries through the entire book is that food in other countries is far better than is our food in the United States, but it doesn't have to be that way. Our American food contains additives that are banned in other countries(even Russia!) due to the studies that have shown links to disease and the response of citizens saying they don't want this "junk" in their food. McDonald's and Walmart have taken the "junk" out for other countries, but continue to add them to food for people in the United States. In addition, much(can I say Most?) of our food is Genetically Modified/Genetically Engineered and we have no idea, since it does not have to be labeled as such in the United States! There have been studies with links to diseases such as cancer, allergies(could the increase in allergies be due to the GMO's in our foods?), and even obesity linked to GMO's. Yet our government continues to use them and not label them. O'Brien suggests the reason other countries mandate GMO's to be labeled while the United States government does not label GMO's has to do with the differing health care systems. Ours tends to be money-driven, and the more sick people there are, the more money the pharmaceutical companies will get to treat the sick people, so there is no incentive to label GMO's even though they have been proven to cause health problems.

Would we like to make an informed decision when we shop? Then we need the foods containing GMO's to be labeled, so we can decide whether to subject our bodies(or those of our children) to them.

In addition to the GMO issue, O'Brien also tells of her frustration with Monsanto and the Food Allergy and Anaphlaxis Network(FAAN), issues with soy(whether GMO or not), rBGH hormones added to milk, as well as the other colorings and artificial flavors and such added to our foods. She gives helpful advice on how a family can "wean" themselves (or their kids) from the unhealthy foods to healthy foods and healthier bodies.

I admit to feeling ever more jaded now after reading The Unhealthy Truth, but I'd rather have the facts and operate on those than to shop with ignorance and pay with the health problems in myself and my family. We cannot depend on the government to watch out for us. The government seems to have "make money" as its' top priority, rather than having healthy citizens. We need to watch out for ourselves, and we need to arm ourselves with the information to do so.

One sentence really stood out to me as I finished this book: "Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good." It is better to do something and take a step away from all of the meddling that has been done to our foods, than it is to freeze and do nothing. Good advice. A little change is better than no change at all.

Having read The Unhealthy Truth, I have found ever more reason to take another step away from the conventional American diet. I hope my health, and the health of my family, will be the better for it in the long run!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

AAT- Flowers

At my most recent AAT appointment, I had Flowers treated. Let me just say, mowing the lawn today was a much more pleasant experience than it has been for some time!(Ever???) And to actually be able to SMELL the freshly cut grass (and dandelions and weeds...) and not start with the itchy throat and sneezing?!? Mmmmmmm..... I did have some mild congestion and very mild palate itching by the time I was done mowing for about an hour, but NOTHING NEAR what my experience has been in the past.

My AAT doc is getting the Allergenix system in the very near future, and I am looking forward to being able to see all of my allergens on one page(I hope!) and to not use up so much time with the strength testing. Having a list will really help me to prioritize which allergens to have treated in what order, and to better decide when I am satisfied enough to be done. :)

In what I have observed in myself, I think these will be the next things I will have treated:

Coconut-this is currently the hardest thing for me to avoid, though not nearly as difficult to avoid as corn. It is in soaps, shampoos and lotions, as well as being a popular ingredient in many food items---read: palm oil.

Nightshades-tomato, peppers, potato, eggplant, etc. I miss real pizza and spaghetti and salsa!

Garlic-along with Asparagus, which I had on Sunday and reacted to with slight nausea, a hot/flushed feeling and stomach pains and had work through my system with the symptom of my back and legs itching a lot the last few days. :-/ I could do with avoiding Asparagus, but I sure do miss my garlic!

And the following that don't always bother me/may have already been taken care of:
Celery, Cauliflower, Berries(that I eat off and on-I think it is the Rose family ones that get me if I overindulge), Nuts, Stone Fruits

In trying to decipher what exactly it was that bothered me on Sunday, I had my doc run through the food suspects and came up with the Asparagus as what I am allergic to. I had him check me for garlic(allergic), onion(not allergic and have been eating w/no ill results), mushroom(not allergic! so I have added it back in and feel fine with it) and nightshades(allergic).

Here's looking forward to my visit next week and I am hoping they have the Allergenix system up and running by then!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chicken Breasts and Veggies on the Grill

So I finally went to the store yesterday. I tend to hold out until I just cannot stand it any longer, and I have to be in the right mood to go with the kids(who are usually with me pretty much wherever I go). So, yesterday was it.

I was in the mood for veggies, so I went to the store that I think has the best produce: Kroger. I could have gone to Meijer, but I was really not up to the HUGE store and navigating through it with all of the extra non-grocery impulse items there. So, Kroger it was.

I got a whole cartload of fresh fruits and veggies, frozen turkey breasts that were on sale, some tuna and some burgers for the grill, and then a bunch of frozen veggies and some whole grain bread/buns. The checkout lady was very impressed with my selections and made a comment (with raised eyebrows, lol) on how we are eating healthy. I did break down and let Ivy pick out some apricots, but held her off of the Barbie fruit snacks(whew!).

So anyway, I was in the mood to grill last night and this is what I did:

I had some chicken breasts in the freezer--less than a pound, but I figured I could stretch it to feed our family of 5.
I threw these in a bowl, poured some extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, rosemary, and sweet oregano from my herb garden and salt and pepper and let them sit there for about an hour.

These went out to the grill in my new 'grill wok', lest some of my precious chicken fall through the grate to the coals.

Once the chicken was done, I threw in a bag of green/wax beans, about 1/2 a pound of sliced mushrooms(which I recently added back to my diet!) and a purple onion chunked up. I also put some of the chicken marinade on them, figuring if there were any bad germs in there, they would be good and cooked when all was said and done. ;) So, the veggies had the olive oil mix on them as well.

I also got some corn on the cob from Kroger and Ivy did a very good job of shucking it for me. :) They were pretty cheap and a good preview for the summer! I could have done these a la my sister-in-law and left them in part of the husks(minus the little silks) so they wouldn't turn black, but I was fine with keeping Ivy busy for awhile and doing without the husks. ;)

I also made coleslaw to fill out the meal. Sorry, it's not pictured, but amounted to a head of purple cabbage chopped up, a bit of leftover onion from the fridge, and a chopped up carrot. Dressing was sugar, apple cider vinegar, oil, mustard and salt.

This was a very yummy meal, if I do say so myself! I hope to do it again in the next week or two!

Cost breakdown:
Chicken: $1.67
Corn on the Cob: $.94
Frozen Green/Wax Beans: $2.29
Purple Onion: $.50
1/2 lb Mushrooms: $1.50

Purple Cabbage: $1.52
1 Carrot: $.25

Extra Virgin Olive oil, lime juice, spices, leftover onion, etc. Let's say $1. I don't have any idea exactly how much these all cost, but they were already in my kitchen and are usually all readily available. :)

So...that comes to: $9.67, plus I have a TON of leftover coleslaw to serve for another meal!

Sure beats eating out! :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ordering Chicks!

After much research and pondering, we finally decided on a dual-purpose breed of chicken to raise that we can use for both egg production and for meat.

Drumroll please.....................Delawares!

Delawares used to be one of the standard breeds used for meat production in the 1940s and 50s before the Cornish Rock/Cornish Cross breed was developed and became the standard meat chicken. They also lay huge brown eggs. The Delawares do, however, have some variability in body size, depending on which hatchery you order them from. So, rather than risk getting some skinny meat chickens, we decided to order Delaware hens and then some Cornish Rocks for the meat chickens this year. We might just get a rooster with the hens anyway, and if so, all the better. If we like the size of our hens, we will likely raise our own meat chickens from eggs next year.

We plan to let our egg layers free range - at least when our garden is not at its prime. During that time they will be confined within the fence of the chicken coop and let out occasionally(usually in the late afternoon/evenings) when we can watch them and minimize damage to the garden.

Our meat chickens will go into chicken tractor(s) a la Joel Salatin.

I ordered the chicks yesterday from Welp Hatchery, which I have heard good things about from the BackYard Chickens Forum. I had to search quite a few places to find a place that still offered Delawares, but was glad to have finally found them! So, hopefully within the next week or so we will get the early morning call to pick them up from the post office and I will have pictures of the little cheepers soon!