Saturday, January 30, 2010

Its the Super Bowl; Butter vs. Margarine

Your doctor would tell you that butter is bad for you. Its got all that saturated fat...I would beg to differ and here is why...

For the sake of argument, lets look at sticks. We will use Land o' Lakes since I can compare both products from the same company.

Serving Size 1 TBSP (14g)
Servings Per Container 32
Calories 100
Calories from Fat 100

Amount/Serving %DV*

Total Fat..........11 g......17%
Saturated Fat.......2 g......11%
Trans Fat...........2.5 g
Cholesterol.........0 mg......0%
Sodium............105 mg......4%
Total Carbohydrate..0 g.......0%
Dietary Fiber.......0 g.......0%
Sugars..............0 g
Protein.............0 g
Vitamin A..........10 %
Calcium ............0 %
Vitamin C...........0 %
Iron................0 %

INGREDIENTS: Liquid Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Water, Buttermilk, Contains Less Than 2% Of Salt, Soy Lecithin, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Vegetable Mono And Diglycerides, Artificial Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta Carotene (Color). CONTAINS: MILK AND SOY

Now looking at the label you see that it says 2.5 trans fats. If you scan through the very encouraging list of ingredients, you will find the source. Partially Hydrogenated Soybean oil. Hydrogenated oil and fats are Trans fats. It also lists Vegetable Mono And Diglycerides. Monoglyceride and Diglycerides is a code name for hydrogenated oil/fat. Usually listed as "mono-diglyceride" Otherwise known as "trans fat. Trans Fatty Acids triple risk of Coronary Heart Disease Increases total LDL ( this is the bad cholesterol). Lowers HDL cholesterol and this is the good one.
Increases the risk of cancers by up to five fold, lowers the quality of breast milk, decreases immune response and decreases insulin response. These facts alone should be reason enough to avoid margarine, but let's continue...

Also in the ingredients you see artificial flavor so its tastes like butter. It does have buttermilk, which should improve the look, taste and consistancy, and they add Vitamin A so it has some nutrition like butter. They also add Beta Carotene(more vitamin A?) for color rather than Yellow 40. This is encouraging...

Now lets look at Butter
For the sake of comparison, a 1lb package of salted butter.

Serving Size: 1 tbsp (14g)
Servings Per Container: 32
Amount Per Serving
Calories 100
Calories from Fat 100
% Daily Value*
Total Fat..........11 g......17%
Saturated Fat.......7 g 37%
Trans Fat...........0 g
Cholesterol........30 mg 10%
Sodium.............95 mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate..0 g 0%
Dietary Fiber.......0 g 0%
Sugars..............0 g
Protein.............0 g
Vitamin A...........8 %
Calcium.............0 %
Vitamin C...........0 %
Iron................0 %


Okay, first, let me just say that I CAN READ ALL THE WORDS!
I would also like to point out that it says no trans fats, but natural butterfat contains 2-5% trans-fatty acids (mainly trans-vaccenic acid, a variant of the normal vaccenic acid). The government allows labels to say "0g of trans fats" if it amounts to less than 500mg PER SERVING. Since butter says "0", I would like to point out that the naturally occurring trans-fatty acids rumenic acid and trans-vaccenic acid (trans-vaccenic acid is used by the human body to make rumenic acid) show anti-carcinogenic properties, which is quite opposite to the artificially created trans-fatty acids.

Butter also contains both vitamin A and D, as well as other beneficial substances, including trace minerals. Conjugated linoleic acid in butterfat is a powerful protection against cancer. Certain fats called glycospingolipids aid digestion. Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients. If you were to obtain butter from a grass-fed cow (I am certain this butter is not), all the benefits I just listed would increase dramatically. This is because cows are supposed to eat grass and when they are fed what they are supposed to eat, they produce a more nutritious cream and milk.

So to summarize, both have the same calories. Margarine has 2.5 grams of trans fats and butter has very little. Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few only because they are added. Butter does have 7 g of saturated fats, this particular margarine has 2 grams. Saturated fats from animal sources(not plants or chemical processes), form an important part of the cell membrane; they protect the immune system and enhance the utilization of essential fatty acids. They are needed for the proper development of the brain and nervous system. Certain types of saturated fats provide quick energy and protect against pathogenic microorganisms in the intestinal tract; other types provide energy to the heart. While you should not overdo in your consumption of butter, it is a healthy part of a balanced diet and far better for you than the chemically-laden-substitute better-known-as-margarine.

Margarine, while having been invented in the 1800's is normally a grayish-white and until recently was not legally allowed to be sold with the color yellow added. The color is what makes it look buttery and that's half the battle; making it look better than it actually tastes. And it really isn't food... if you set it out open on the counter, it won't mold, nothing will eat it, flies won't touch it and it will not go bad. It was, at one time, illegal to sell margarine in tubs larger than 1lb(maybe it still is). Why is that?

A note on trans fats:
Other food products, including margarines may say "0" and still have trans fats. That is because the government regulations allow them to say "0g" trans-fat, which effectively means less than 500 mg trans-fat per serving; however, no fat is entirely free of trans fats. Even natural butterfat contains 2-5% naturally occurring trans-fatty acids. When this legislation was passed, some companies just reduced the serving size to make it seem like they had no trans fats. For instance, instead of 4 cookies being a serving, now its 3. Nice, huh?

Long story short and back to the game, butter is tasty, healthy, and when it comes from a cow that eats grass instead of candy bar wrappers, as God intended. Margarine is unnatural, not so tasty and one molecule short of plastic. Would you melt your empty milk jug and spread that on your toast? Just sayin'

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sugar's effect on your health

The average American consumes an astounding 2-3 pounds of sugar each week, which is not surprising considering that highly refined sugars in the forms of sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high-fructose corn syrup are being processed into almost every convenience food on the market. Many foods such as bread, breakfast cereal, cereal bars, mayonnaise, peanut butter, ketchup, lunch meats, spaghetti sauce, and most microwave meals have some sugar. Then there are the obvious foods like bottled drinks(including juices), cookies, candies, yogurts, ice cream and all the desert products you see on the shelves.
In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the U.S. 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year and Cardiovascular disease and cancer was virtually unknown. Today they are the top two causes of death in the United States.

How Sugar plays a role in health
The "glycemic index" is a measure of how a given food affects blood-glucose levels, with each food being assigned a numbered rating. There are many diets on the market today touting the importance of eating low-glycemic foods. The lower the glycemic rating, the slower the absorption and digestion process, which provides a more gradual, increase of sugars into the bloodstream. On the other hand, a high rating means that blood-glucose levels are increased quickly, which stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin to drop blood-sugar levels. These rapid fluctuations of blood-sugar levels are not healthy because of the stress they place on the body. Insulin also promotes fat storage (rapid weight gain) and elevated triglyceride levels.

Sugar depresses the immune system
In the 1970's researcher Linus Pauling found that vitamin C was needed by white blood cells so that they could ingest viruses and bacteria(phagocytize). While studying the phagocytic index(a chart rating the speed of this process), he realized the high doses of vitamin c were directly related to how rapidly certain good cells could destroy virus, bacteria or cancer cells. He went so far as to say that high doses of up to 10 grams of vitamin C each day aided in anti-cancer activity within the body. Linus Pauling wrote the book, "How to Live Longer and Feel Better" and "Vitamin C and the Common Cold" and was at one time ridiculed for his theories, but today, Vitamin C is used by doctors treating cancer patients who are fighting the deadly disease.

White blood cells require a 50 times higher concentration inside the cell as outside so they have to accumulate vitamin C and since our bodies do not manufacture vitamin c so we must ingest it. We know that glucose and vitamin C have similar chemical structures, so when the sugar levels go up, they compete for entry into the cells. The thing that mediates the entry of glucose into the cells is the same thing that mediates the entry of vitamin C into the cells. If there is more glucose around, there is going to be less vitamin C allowed into the cell. It doesn't take much: a blood sugar value of 120 reduces the rate the good cells “phagocytize” by 75%. This affect lasts for several hours. So when you eat sugar, think of your immune system slowing down to a crawl.
Now we are getting a little bit closer to the roots of disease. It doesn't matter what disease we are talking about, whether it’s a common cold or cardiovascular disease, or cancer or osteoporosis, the root is always going to be at the cellular and molecular level, and more often than not insulin is going to be involved.

The health dangers frequent use of sugar causes are certain. Simple sugars have been observed to aggravate asthma, move mood swings, provoke personality changes, aggravate nervous disorders, cause diabetes and hypertension, speed up heart disease and hypertension, and aggravate arthritis. Because refined dietary sugars lack minerals and vitamins(unlike raw sugars), our bodies must draw upon its own micro-nutrient stores for it to be metabolized into the system. When these storehouses are depleted, the body’s ability to process cholesterol and fatty acid is impeded, contributing to higher blood serum triglycerides and cholesterol, and obesity due to higher fatty acid storage. In addition, since it is so lacking in minerals, vitamins, fiber, it has a deteriorating effect on the endocrine system. As a result, the American Dietetic Association and American Diabetic Associations agree that sugar consumption in America is one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease.

Sugar and cancer
Of the over 4 million cancer patients being treated in the U.S. today, almost none are offered any scientifically guided nutrition therapy other than being told to "just eat good foods." I doubt many are told that sugar feeds their cancer. Not long ago a dear friend discovered he had cancer. They wanted to do a PET scan to see how extensive it was and fed him a sugary glucose liquid to excite the cancerous cells so they could clearly see them during the scan. Cancer's preferred fuel is GLUCOSE; it makes them very happy. The saying "Sugar feeds cancer" is simple; the explanation is a little more involved.

Otto Warburg, a German doctor, received the 1931 Nobel laureate in medicine for discovering that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells. The gist of his Nobel thesis was this: malignant tumors frequently exhibit an increase in "anaerobic glycolysis" when provided with glucose. A process where glucose is used by cancer cells as a fuel for growth. The byproduct of this “fuel-making” is lactic acid. This conversion by fermentation of glucose to lactate creates a lower, more acidic PH environment in your tissues as well as an overall physical fatigue from lactic acid build-up. The abundance of lactic acid produced by the cancer cells is then transported to the liver. Virtually all degenerative diseases, including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, kidney and gall stones, and tooth decay are associated with excess acidity in the body. Cancer cannot exist in an alkaline environment.

By reducing or eliminating sugar and balancing your glucose levels you not only slow the growth of cancerous tissue and other acid-loving diseases, but you also make it possible for your immune system to catch up to the disease by giving it a fighting chance.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gevalia Coffee Deal

Gourmet coffee plus free gifts to make it even better! Get 4 boxes of coffee for $19.95 plus a free Stainless steel coffee maker and mug for trying Gevalia.

Coupon Adventures 1/20

This weeks email coupons include $1 off $5 in beef and $1 off Tombstone pizzas

Food Lion
Tombstones are b1g1 (with coupon above that’s about $1.50 for a pizza)
and cube steak and stew beef are both on sale.

Don’t forget the angel soft, which is $4.99 for a 12pack of double rolls or 24 single

Deli Ham $2.75/lb.
Snapple rebates are available on Snapple displays making a 6 pack free after MIR!

While you are out,
Harris Teeter:
Nice deal on various beef roasts(all 50% off):  Rump Round $2.29, Bottom Round $2.19, Sirloin Roast $2.19.  All great meats for the crock pot!
Also nice deal on Snow Crab Clusters for $2.29 / lb.  (Most HT 's will even steam these for you if you ask)

Bone in Boston Butt .98/lb
Boneless Chuck Roast $1.80/lb
Tyson Thighs or Drumsticks $.98/lb

G2 Gatorade is 10 for $10 which is an awesome deal if you have 50 cent gatorade coupons from 1/17!

I got a Catalina add last week that says if you buy 5 Kraft cheese products, you get a $5.00 catalina for your next order. The Breakstone cottage cheese doubles are on sale for 1.00 each. Buy 5, get a $5.00 coupon on your next order. This one can be rolled which means you can use it on the next shop and you can get them multiple times.

Coupon Adventures: Glade Deal at Kmart

Buy 2 Glade candles(on sale 2 for $5)
Use $3/2 Glade printable coupon that can be found here.

You should be able to print this coupon two times

a $3 Catalina coupon good on your next purchase will be generated at check out
this means you will have an initial out of pocket cost of $2

use the $3 coupon and the $2 coupon on the next purchase of 2 and buy for only tax  (you will then get another $3 to buy something else you may need or want, I would spend this while in store)  if you buy something for $3 this will be FREE as well (tax only)

 Do this deal twice, you can submit it for the $5 SC Johnson Rebate on 3 products and MAKE $3 cash on the purchase of all 5 items

CLICK HERE to download the special rebate form and get $5 back when you purchase any 3 SC Johnson products.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Online Coupons

Most people are familiar with the coupons available in the Sunday paper. Some people clip them and use them that week, which is the manufacturer's goal. Getting you to buy what the coupons advertise. I tend to go about coupons in a different way. I do clip them each week, but then I file them and wait for the item to go on sale. This maximizes my savings and makes my dollars go further.
In today's market, with everything being online, companies have gone online with their coupons as well. I use a site called a lot. Particularly when I am looking for a coupon for something on sale and I don't have a coupon in my binder. Other coupon forums online will tell you about deals you can make with these online coupons and a sale or even a regularly priced item in a store. While some of the coupons will match what you got in your paper, others will be completely different and offer you unexpected savings on something you wanted. The key to saving the most money is combining the techniques effectively to get deals on what your family needs. As I have said before, it does no good to get a bottle or box of something that no one in your family will ever use.

Another mistake some people make is printing all of the online coupons on the site. This is a costly error. Only print the coupons you need. If nothing you are going to buy this week is on the coupon site, then don't print anything. The coupons you find online will often be there for a while,so unless is something you KNOW you will buy, wait to print until you need it. Also be sure to set your printer to a more economical setting. You can often print in black and white and lower the quality settings and the coupon will still scan and be just as usable a the store while costing you less to print.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pinto Bean Soup

This recipe is a family favorite and is very easy to make. It is nearly meat free, and can be made so by substituting the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Since beans are so inexpensive, this recipe is very economical.
Another plus is that it can be made several ways. I usually quick-soak the beans and then pressure cook them for 25 minutes in fresh water. At this point they are cooked and ready to be placed in the crock pot. I mash about half of them using a potato masher or immersion blender, then I proceed with the recipe. Another option is to soak the beans overnight, drain the water then start them cooking on low in the morning, adding the other ingredients that morning and letting it cook all day. Both methods work well.

3 cups of dried pintos, rinsed, soaked and cooked
2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 med red pepper, cored, chopped*
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 quarts of chicken broth
2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
1 T chili powder(if its a strong, hot chili powder(like chipotle)-more if it isn’t)
1 T cumin
1 T liquid smoke
2 T hot pepper sauce

Put cooked pintos in the crock pot on low, reserving the cooking liquid. Mash about half of them(I used a potato masher).

In a small pot on the stove, heat the oil and saute the onion, celery and red pepper. When almost tender, add the chopped garlic until lightly browned. Add this mixture to the pintos. Add the chicken broth** to the crock pot along with the apple cider vinegar, chili powder, cumin, liquid smoke and hot pepper sauce. Let it simmer*** for the rest of the day. You can salt this to taste once the beans are tender. Watch it toward the end of the day, adding liquid if it gets too thick or starts to burn. Serve with grated cheddar and tortilla chips.

*You can use 1/2 cup dried chopped red pepper. I dry many peppers in the summer and use them in this recipe. Simply add them to the pintos without sauteing.

**At this point you can add about 2 quarts of chicken broth. If you do not have broth water is fine or the reserved liquid from cooking the pintos can be used. You can also use some chicken bouillon cubes to add flavor if desired.

***In my crock pot, for it to simmer, I use the low setting. In some crock pots, this may require the warm setting.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ham and Bean Soup

Tonight's dinner was very low cost and really yummy. Bean soup is a staple for anyone on a budget. If you happen to have a ham bone lying around it becomes a deluxe staple.

Ham and Bean Soup
1 meaty ham bone
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups dried navy beans, rinsed and presoaked
8 cups of water
1 T liquid smoke
1 tsp mustard powder
1 T black pepper
1 T sea salt(at end, to taste)

In a large dutch oven I sauteed the ham bone until the drippings in the bottom were substantial. I removed the bone to a plate and sauteed the onions and garlic in it. Once tender I transferred these to a crock pot. I put the ham bone back in and sauteed again getting more drippings and then added water and the pre-soaked beans to the pot. If you do not have pre-soaked dried navy beans, you can use the quick soak method. Making sure the beans were covered with the water, I cooked the beans till they were tender.

Turning my attention to the crock pot, I added the seasonings(except the salt)to the onion/garlic mixture and 1 cup of water and turned the crock pot on low and covered it.

WHen the beans were tender, I removed the bone again and poured the tender beans in the crock pot and allowed everything to cook on high until the flavors melded a bit. I picked the bone some more and added the rest of the ham to the crock pot and added salt to taste.

We served it with rolls, but cornbread might be good too.

The bone was from New Years dinner and the beans were in the house, so this cost me very little and it was really good. Unfortunately there were no leftovers :(

Friday, January 8, 2010

Food Storage on a Budget

Have you ever noticed that bread and milk disappear from grocery shelves at the first hint of a winter storm? I have never really understand this thought process much past the fact that you can subside on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during a power outage. The milk escapes me, unless its winter and they plan on keeping it cold outside, but this phenomenon occurred prior to hurricanes as well...I've never known a gallon of milk to fare well on the porch at a balmy 70 degrees.

This winter has brought many extreme temperatures and quite a bit of snow our way. One storm resulted in a loss of power several times at our house over a week long period. We were also stuck at home for 6 days and even head a house guest during that time. Thankfully, because I had some food on the shelves for just such an occasion, we had plenty to eat and could enjoy being "stranded" rather than frantic for want of a meal. For some people in our area the inconvenience was merely hours, while others went without electricity for over a week and couldn't get out either. This type of situation can present a problem for a lot of folks who have no alternate source of energy or food in their pantry. Around here, there are fireplaces and woods stoves in many homes, but still, most people go without water when the pumps don't work and the roads are usually impassible during that time so getting supplies during those first few days is rather difficult. I often hear of folks subsisting on the dusty cans of mystery meat and chicken soup from the back of their cabinets.

All emergencies aside, almost daily, I hear how people stop at the store on the way home from work to pick up dinner for that night because they have nothing in their kitchen. To me, this is pretty shortsighted living. I know its the norm, but it costs so much more to live that way, and I know from my own experiences that healthy eating rarely comes into play when the golden arches or the freezer section of the local grocery store is my source for last-minute dinner plans. Being prepared for the unexpected seems pretty practical to me. Perhaps its my age, and I know its not on everyone's list of things to do, but when money gets tight(which it has) you have to be ready for just about anything at the drop of the hat. If you don't have money to fix it on the fly, you have to be prepared.

Preparing for What?
Before you go out and buy an instant food storage solution, it would probably be a good idea to sit down and decide what your goals are in this area. What are the reasons that you can think of to have some food in your pantry? There are many different situations that can prevent you from getting groceries or even one meal. Make a list of anything that you can think of that would cause this. List things that have a significant probability. If you live in Wichita Kansas, an earthquake is unlikely, but an ice storm is probably going to make the list. Once you have your list, indicate the length of time you feel each scenario might last. For instance, a weather related or man-made disaster may last a few days while long-term unemployment, severe economic depression or a gas shortage may last for months.

Now that you have a probable list of scenarios, you can design your plan of attack. Order your list from shortest to longest duration. Set goals to accomplish the first and work through to the longest. For instance a short term set back may only require food and candles while a long-term set back may require fuel, a larger supply of food or some cash on hand. As you check them off, you are steadily preparing for one scenario after another with the ultimate goal of being prepared for the unexpected.

Making a Plan of Attack
The first thing you DO NOT want to do is immediately buy the one-year food storage system for a family of four at your "" This is a costly way to prepare and quite frankly, if you are not used to eating MRE's and unleavened bread, you are unlikely to finish much more than the dried bananas and canned water. You are much better off identifying foods you can live with and setting goals to work them into a current budget. Charging your food pantry to a credit card is not a wise move either. What if your emergency turns out to be job loss? How will you pay that credit card bill? Sit down with your family and figure out what foods you can and will eat, then keep the ones that will store well and do relatively well at keeping you healthy. Rice and beans, while not the most glamorous of foods will provide you with a full tummy, plenty of fiber and nutrients, they store well and they won't break the bank. A year's supply of Pop Tarts won't help you at all, but some sugar or honey will allow for a treat or two when mixed with flour and baked, pan fried or grilled. You have to get creative with foods when its the same thing everyday, but if you can't leave the house anyway, you will have plenty of time to put on your creative hat and experiment.

Show me the Money
If you think its impossible to create a stockpile of food because you are eating week to week, its not. If you have $10 a week to spend on your storage system, you can begin today. That's all you need. As you expand your system, your grocery bill will begin to decrease because these foods will enter into your weekly meal plans since they are so basic. The items in your start-up food storage list are very basic. Once you have them, you can survive for as long as the food lasts and stay healthy. Once you have them, you can move toward increasing the amounts that you have and then introducing more variety. Remember to take into account all the likes and dislikes of your family. It certainly won't be helpful to you to have 50lbs of black eyed peas if no one in the house will eat them. As you create your food storage plan, and start to build up the list of basics in your home, you will find that it is not necessary to run to the store multiple times in a week because you can come home and make a meal with what is there. Use these savings to make home cooking more convenient. For instance, if you have a pressure cooker dried beans can become a meal in under two hours. If you thought to soak them before you left for work, you can do it in under 25 minutes. Dried beans (per serving) are FAR less than the frozen microwave variety and just as tasty. Buying in bulk is also a money saver. The ten pounds of rice you purchase in the first week will feed you and your family for weeks for the same price as a box of the instant variety that serves your family once. The flour you buy in week three will be great to have for baking cookies on the weekend or making a batch of pancakes for breakfasts during the week. The idea is to get what you need to get by and then work from there. Its much easier to get through a difficult time when you have the basics on hand and it doesn't require an arm and a leg to do it.

Start Up List
Here's the basic list. Its really this simple.

Week one: Rice (brown or white)
If you like brown rice, its going to be healthier for your family, but don't get it if they are not going to eat it. Rice stores well in a cool, dry environment and it will last for at least 6 months. You can purchase it in anything from a 8 oz box up to 25lb bag in most stores. Do not get the precooked quick rice. Buy a large bag (at least 2 lbs) and pour into air tight containers. Mark the date purchased on each one and put them on the shelf. As you purchase more, put it behind the original ones so that you use the one up the older food first. If you purchase a 10lb bag it will cost you approximately $8.00 and will make about 93 one-cup servings. Use any leftover change for the next week's purchase.

Week two: Beans, Tang & Lard
Two pounds of beans will balance out last week's rice purchase nicely. At a ratio of 5:1 Rice and beans create a "complete protein" which means that even without meat, you are getting the protein you need. But dont worry, we will add meat in a few weeks. Two 2lb bags will cost you about $3.50

Tang, while not my first pick for healthy eating (don't even get me started on the food coloring, etc), is shelf stable and an 8oz glass gets you 100% of your daily Vitamin C requirement. It also has small amounts of other required nutrients and the sugary sweetness each day will almost seem like desert! If you don't like Tang, be careful of what you choose as a substitute; finding shelf stable drink mixes with some nutritional value is a challenge at best. Pick up your first 20 oz container at about $4 and you will have 24 servings to get you started.

Lard (yes real lard) is hard to find and is actually probably better for you than the Tang! I make my own from pig fat that I purchase about once every two years, but you can find it. Avoid hydrogenated oils. Try to find organic lard as it is usually free of those types of nasties. Fat is a necessary component in your diet and when you are in "survival" mode you need the extra calories and staying-power of fats. Besides, it can't be beat if you want biscuits, or refried beans, or fried rice, or any kind of pan-fried breads and when you don't have refrigeration, lard doesn't spoil. Pick up 5 lbs or make your first batch using my directions for way less money. This will use up the last of your $10 and probably the change from last week.

Week Three: Flour, Sugar and Vegetables
Pick up a 20lb sack of flour. I prefer wheat berries because they store indefinitely but if you have no way of grinding it, you are better off with plain white flour since it won't go rancid. Unbleached white flour is better if you can get it but may be more expensive. Now, with the previous weeks items, you have what you need to make biscuits or tortillas and if you have store bought yeast you can make bread. If you don't have yeast you can learn how to make sourdough starter to leaven it.

5lbs of sugar is next on this weeks list. With sugar you can make sweet breads, some rice pudding or muffins when used with the ingredients you already have. This will make your family smile and add some much-needed variety to your diet if a crisis comes your way.

Canned veggies are your last requirement this week. The darker and greener or oranger you can get, the better. Collards and other greens, Spinach, Carrots, pumpkin, and squashes all have lots of vitamin A and calcium. Get as many cans as you can with the rest of your $10 for this week.

Week Four: Dried Milk and salt
Purchase one tub of iodized salt, a small container of baking powder(if you don't have any) and then get the largest box of non-fat dry milk you can find for this weeks ten dollars. Milk is a great source of essential amino acids, calcium and vitamin D. Dried milk is shelf stable and can be stored for up to a year. It can be used in your breads and muffins, for making yogurt and a creamy gravy or pudding. During the year, you can use it instead of real milk in your cooking to save money and to get used to using it. Try to have at least 1 large box on your shelf for emergencies.

Week Five: Tuna and Vegetables
Take this week's ten spot and get some Tuna. If you happen to find tuna on sale, buy some more dark green vegetables as well. Tuna is a shelf-stable source of lean meat. 10 cans is a good start up goal as you increase your storage in the coming months. They last for years and as long as your family likes it, you can always have them in the pantry for sandwiches, rotating in new cans each year so your stock is fresh.

You've Done it!
If you finished the first 5 weeks, you are now set for an emergency of the short-term variety. This should feel pretty good! In the coming weeks, repeat this cycle and add to what you have and fine tune your purchases to suit your family. Maybe get pepper instead of salt, or a block of yeast for making bread or some honey instead of sugar. Making small investments as the weeks pass will have long-term benefits without debt or regret. If you have never tried canning your own foods, don't be afraid to try that in the coming months. This allows you to diversify what you have in the house and you can take advantage of low prices when produce is in abundance or your corner market has a huge sale on meat. You can can just about anything and your local extension office usually offers classes if you have never tried.

As you continue on this new path of preparedness, don't forget to rotate and use your new-found pantry and don't allow your stash to decrease as you use it; simply replenish it with your weekly shopping trips and use the money you budgeting to increase what you have. Learn to keep your shelves stocked with the basics so that when something upsets the apple cart, you can still get around. And lastly, don't forget to enjoy the fact that you don't always have to run to the store and get bread and milk just because snow is predicted for tomorrow night!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New year, new foods

I have become more and more aware this year of the chemicals used in traditional farming and food processing. The growing number of ailments associated with these types of foods has caused me to make dramatic changes in my food choices. I have to thank my little guy for making me aware of these problems as we weeded out the foods that cause him so much digestive and mental turmoil. The more I look at foods and how they get to our stores, the more I am concerned with the entire system. From the drive to do things as quickly and efficiently as possible, to the notable connection between the FDA's approval/disapproval of products that help/hinder our health and the financial benefits they are associated with, there is cause for concern. Then there are the drug companies benefiting from our illnesses and the complications their drugs cause. Its all intertwined and it makes me pause for thought.

Just last week a dear friend discovered he had a mass in his chest. In order to do the PET scan they have him drink a sugar solution to excite the cancer cells. Then they can see them better. So sugar excites cancer?! Why is it that I don't hear that in mainstream media? Maybe because sugar is in could damage the sugar industry... what about the poor beet farmers, dont forget the corn industry and their coveted corn syrup(which is just like sugar by the way...). Lets all feed our cancer cells so then the cancer treatments, drugs, and detection machines can be sold. And don't forget that sugar reduces your immune system, so those extra colds you get are surely going to help someone as well; they need to make money too you know. If you think about it long enough, you can get pretty frustrated...but I digress...I didn't start this entry to complain about all of that. I am going to talk about my New Year, New Food resolution. Its really something I have been doing all along, but now I plan to be more resolute about it :)


1. Canned Tomatoes
I can tomatoes, so normally this wouldn't be an issue, but since I coupon as well and will buy a can of tomatoes when its nearly free and cheaper than it is to can them myself, this needed to be decided.
Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A notes the dangers of canned tomatoes. Have you ever noticed that some of your canned products have a white lining? This resin lining contains bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Acidity -- a prominent characteristic of tomatoes -- causes BPA to leach into your food. So in addition to the canned tomatoes, I will probably avoid  canned(not jarred) spaghetti sauce as well...even when its free...

2. Corn-Fed Beef
The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of books on sustainable farming notes a particularly obvious but overlooked point: Cattle were designed to eat grass, not grains(or candy wrappers or chicken feathers or scrap meat...but I digress again). Farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. It also allows them to keep the animals in a more confined area. You need a lot of pasture to feed a lot of cows. More animals in less space for less time equals profit. A recent comprehensive study found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium. So meat can also be good for you?!? We have bought our meat for years from a local beef farmer. I know his cows are out on pasture and I know I can trust his products. I usually buy his meat in bulk to save some money but I have been known to take a coupon and buy a package of beef at the local grocery that came from who knows where and has who knows what in it. All for the sake of a dollar. I am resolute in thinking more about the safety of the meat and not the savings and if I can't get the safe meat, I will resolve to eat something else.
3. Microwave Popcorn
Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group
says chemicals including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize -- and migrate into your popcorn. I had switched to microwaving it in a special microwave bowl, but I know there are many other reasons to avoid the microwave altogether...I am not necessarily there yet. I will stop buying (or should I say getting free) microwave popcorn. We still have a microwave. These days it primarily heats my mother's cup of coffee and while I do heat my rugrat's foods on the stove whenever possible,  I still see it used for convenience. However I will share that I secretly hope it breaks because we can't afford a new one and we would probably get used to not having it after a while. Is that wrong?
4. Non-organic Potatoes
The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board
Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes they're treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they're dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. That's a lot of chemicals. Organic potatoes are way more expensive and a lot of times, I can't find fresh ones...however, I learned that you can grow them fairly easily and they make bags you can use to grow them on your patio or deck, so I intend to grow my own whenever possible and stock up on organic potatoes when they are on sale and fresh. They store well in a cool basement or root cellar and I dehydrated quite a few this year for hashbrowns and stews.  Of all my new resolutions, this one seems like the most-likely-to-succeed.
5. Soda
Okay, I admit it, I drink soda. I even go so far as to drink diet soda. Pretty bad huh? I can't help it. I have quit before and then I start up again. Its a bad addiction that I can't seem to shake. I know its bad for me. I know it ruins your teeth and in my case causes my arthritis to flair up and yet I drink it. I know it aggravates stomach linings and literally sucks calcium from your body. All bad...and so I attempt again to kick the habit...right after I finish the bottle of Diet Coke on my counter from the New Years Eve party... :P
6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones
Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. Since the milk is then heated at high temperatures, they can leave all that in and just keep milking those poor cows. rBGH also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Kudos to Ingles for taking a step toward safer foods and using rBGH FREE milk. Despite the fact that the FDA makes them say its no safer than regular milk on their ads, I applaud them for making that decision. I hope that many other companies follow suit in the new year.  For more on milk, see the Real Milk site or google rBGH milk for a real eyeful. Did I mention that the rBGH comes from Monsanto? Must I go there??
7. Conventional Apples
If fall fruits held a "highest exposure to deadly chemicals contest," apples would win. And increasing numbers of studies are linking a higher body burden of pesticides with Parkinson's disease. Anybody want that for the new year? I intend to go completely organic here. We eat a lot of apples and so I would like to think making this small change would have big benefits. Organic apples are readily available and taste fantastic. Why not give them a try? Consumer Reports investigated organically grown foods in its February 2006 issue and concluded that you should by Apples and 11 other produce items organic as often as possible. They listed these 12 items as the most pesticide-laden crops on the market. Apples were number two on the list! Other list-makers were bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries.
This list of fruits and vegetables was developed by researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The full up-to-date list of 43 fruits and vegetables is available here. You can download a pdf wallet guide of the most and least pesticide-laden produce at this site. Washing all vegetables/fruits is a good idea to get rid of other nasties that are always possible on both organic and non-organic produce, but you cannot wash off pesticides, so the safest bet is always organic.

So, that's my resolution. What's yours?