Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Next Best to Fresh Canned Peaches


I frequently shop at BJ's Warehouse for our staple products in order to cut down on cost, packaging, and fuel. I generally don't buy fresh produce because in such large quantities, it is difficult to use it all and waste is never good for the environment. I also, usually, choose not to buy canned fruit because it is full of High Fructose Corn Syrup and several unpronouncable perservatives. However, I'd like to applaud BJ's for carrying a new Del Monte product that has allowed me to buy canned fruit again. Del Monte is now making premium fruit products labeled "Orchard Select". These come in a glass container (yeah!) and contain peaches in light syrup. Although I'd prefer real juice, this isn't bad. The ingredients are as follows: peaches, water, sugar, natural flavor, citric acid, and absorbic acid and that is it! Finally, healthy prepared foods..I was elated. Today, as I munch on them at work, I notice that they are fresh tasting and almost crisp (albeit a little too sweet, but that's ok). They are the next best thing to fresh peaches you can get at the store, and frankly given the current state of off-season peaches, these are even better. Thanks Del Monte!


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Preservative-Free Beer with Natural Vitamin B


After a good ride on the mountain bike, one of the first things I look forward to is a good beer. I enjoy a refreshing, flavorful beer and my new favorite is Unibroue Ephemere. Unibroue doesn't use any preservatives and it is only partially filtered meaning that the lees remain in the bottle and serve as a natural source of vitamin B. All of this means, a smooth, flavorful replenishment. Cheers!

Information about my new favorite beer:

ÉPHÉMÈRE (apple)
(eff-eh-mehr)

White ale brewed with apple must

Redolent of ripe Granny Smith apples, this
unique white ale pleases the palate with a
delicate balance of fruit and spice notes and
just a hint of sweetness.

Éphémère apple satisfies with each sip and
refreshes in all seasons, especially when
paired with an artisan cheddar cheese, pork
tenderloin served with apple chutney or Vidalia
onion soup.

We developed the Éphémère (Ephemeral)
series to feature a seasonal fruit in a
refreshing, lightly spiced white ale.

The label depicts a fairy, an ephemeral spirit
associated with fruits picked at the peak of
ripeness during each harvest season.
Éphémère apple flavor is brewed with apple
must, which consists of the freshly-pressed
juice from apples.

Enjoy this beer 'alfresco' while dining in the
afternoon sun, relaxing at a family gathering or
at a picnic in the back yard.

Winner of 3 Gold Medals from the Beverage
Testing Institute since 2002


Unibroue Beers

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Recycle Your Eye Glasses!


Are your your sassy specs outdated? Don't like the frames (blue seemed like a good choice at the time)? Donate your eye glasses to Give the Gift of Sight and they will work with local retailers to re-distribute your used glasses to someone who needs them here and abroad. Get some new glasses and feel better about getting rid of your old ones too. Going forward I would suggest a more classic style and updating the lenses as needed rather than opting for the fashionable optics every season.

Recycle Your Used Tennis Shoes!


Tired of gluing your flapping soles to your sneakers, recycle them with Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe Program. From their website:

Reuse-A-Shoe: Worn out. Play on.

Every year, millions of pairs of athletic shoes are thrown away, clogging landfills and wasting a lot of good material. So we’ve created a solution to allow you to recycle your old shoes! Reuse-A-Shoe, part of our Let Me Play campaign, is one of Nike’s longest-running environmental and community programs, where worn-out athletic shoes of any brand are collected, processed and recycled into material used in sports surfaces like basketball courts, tennis courts, athletic fields, running tracks and playgrounds for young people around the world. That’s right. You can turn your old kicks into new places to play your game. Since the birth of Reuse-A-Shoe, we’ve recycled more than 20 million pairs of athletic shoes and created more than 250 sport surfaces; giving thousands of young people access to new playgrounds and athletic facilities around the world. Find out how it works and donate your shoes »

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Whippin Up My Own Seafood Dip

So, we had some shrimp and although they are tasty plain, I really wanted some kick. I wasn't feeling cocktail saucy, so I decided to whip up something with ingredients I had laying around. I found some fat-free creme cheese and to it added some curry powder. I mashed in just enough to give it a pretty light yellow color and the distinctive curry smell. The texture seemed a little thick, so I whipped in some lime juice. I felt like it really needed a bit of a kick though, so I added about a tablespoon of ancho chile pepper and just a pinch of white pepper. It really was yummy and I've used it on leftovers for shrimp tacos too.

Throw Out Your Pam For Good!

I love Pam cooking spray. In fact, I use it all of the time, but... it's always bothered me that it doesn't seem to last very long and then I'm throwing it in the trash. I tried drizzling olive oil on my bread and rubbing it on with a paper towel, but what a pain. Then I found this... The Emsa oil spritzer at King Arthur Flour. At less than $20.00 it was worth investing to try out something new that might improve my plight while helping the environment at the same time. I've had it for about two weeks now and I love it. I use it spritz the top of my bread, my cooking pan, everything. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who needs to keep things non-stick and wants to reduce her packaging.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

He Responds!

Thank you for your e-mail and for sharing your comments. As you may or may not know, I have apologized for the use of the derogatory term that prompted your e-mail. My comment was ill-chosen and inappropriate and I fully realize that. My true message about personal responsibility, and educating young people in regard to the responsibility of parenthood, has been overshadowed by a poor choice of one word. As a father, I want my child to get a good education, first and foremost, before undertaking the responsibility of parenthood. Adolescents may be capable of having babies, but most are ill prepared for the difficult duties ahead that come with being successful, competent parents. Unknowingly, they may relegate themselves and their children to a lifetime of poverty and hardship. This applies to young men as well. I understand that we all can make mistakes. My objection is with encouraging and perpetuating those mistakes. Though I realize you may disagree not only with my choice of wording, but also with that message, I respect your views. If anything positive has come of this incident, it is that more people have joined this debate over teen pregnancy, personal responsibility, and parental involvement.

Respectfully,
State Representative Larry Liston

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Which Oil is Best for Cooking (you might be surprised)?!

What are the Best and Worst Cooking Oils for You?by www.SixWise.com

Once you've made a commitment to healthier eating, cooking more of your meals at home and paying attention to healthy cooking methods becomes important. After all, even the most nutritious meal can be sabotaged if you fry it or douse it in trans-fat-laden oil.
Try experimenting with different types and flavors of oil. One of the best ways to really savor the flavor is to try the oil on a piece of crusty bread.
The type of oil you choose to cook with can also add or detract from the nutritional value of your meal. Here we've broken down some of the most popular cooking oils to clear up the confusion over which are great, and not-so-great, for cooking.
Vegetable Oils: Included in this category are soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, and others. Although these polyunsaturated fat are typically described as heart healthy -- they may help to reduce cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease -- they are often highly processed and are quite perishable.
This means that when you use them to cook with, the fats easily become rancid, and rancid oil may contribute to oxidative stress and damaging free radicals in your body. In general, any highly processed vegetable oil is not the best choice for a healthy diet.
Sesame Oil: Sesame oil is composed of primarily heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Sesame oil is also rich in antioxidants and very stable, meaning you can heat it to a relatively high temperature without damaging the oil.
Olive Oil: Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been found to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. However, olive oil is very perishable, making it an ideal oil for salads, cold dishes and dipping bread, but not for cooking.

Alive in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes is the perfect cooking companion for anyone who wants to get more fresh, healthy and great-tasting foods into their diet -- but doesn't have a lot of time to do it.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but don't let that scare you. This incredibly stable oil contains a type of saturated fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are actually great for your immune system, intestinal health and even may help to support weight management. And, because coconut oil is highly stable, it won't become damaged during cooking.
Avocado Oil: If you're looking for something a little unusual, avocado oil is a healthy choice. It's rich in monounsaturated fats (similar to olive oil) but is relatively heat-stable. Further, when used on salads, avocado oil has been found to increase your absorption of nutrients such as beta-carotene and lutein, making it an ideal base for salad dressings.
A Final Note About Choosing Healthy Cooking Oils
Cooking oils are not created equal, and you will find a wide variety of qualities, and price ranges, in your grocery store. Because of the fragile nature of oils, you should look for varieties with the following properties:
Minimal, gentle processing: Highly processed oils can become damaged before you even open the bottle. Look for expeller-pressed or cold-pressed oils to be sure you're getting high-quality, undamaged oil.
The absolute worst oil you can use is highly processed, low-quality vegetable oil. It will be devoid of nutrients and very susceptible to going rancid (and rancid oil should not be consumed).
Minimal refining: Refined oils have been stripped of their flavor, color and nutrients. Although they have a place if you'll be using them for high-temperature cooking (as they're processed to be made more stable), for other uses (particularly when flavor and nutrition are important) seek out unrefined oils.
Stored in a dark, glass bottle: Oil can become damaged by heat and light, which is why you'll find high-quality oils stored in dark-tinted bottles. It is also possible that the oil could leach potentially dangerous chemicals from a plastic storage bottle, which is why you should, ideally, seek out those stored in glass bottles.
Recommended Reading
Are You Ready for Mediterranean Food to Make a Big Splash in the U.S.?
Eating Raw: The Advantages and Disadvantages According to Various Experts
Sources
WholeFoodsMarket.com

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Food Storage For Your Bulk Ingredients

Since I prepare most of my own food at home, I buy in bulk and have a lot of ingredients laying around. I didn't want to use disposable plastic bags because of their impact on the environment. My current solution is to order the Cambro Graduated Food Storage Containers from http://www.webstaurantstore.com/. They are inexpensive (much cheaper than tupperware at only $2-3), stackable, and reusable. They can go straight into the freezer or fridge which is wondeful for storing leftovers, using as a dough doubler, starter containers, etc. My pantry has never looked so neat!





This Cambro RFSCW1 1 qt. round food storage container is made of crystal
clear, virtually unbreakable polycarbonate that won't be stained or harmed by
food acids, oils, and alcohol. This container can withstand temperature from -40
degrees Fahrenheit to 210 degrees Fahrenheit, so they can be used in
refrigerators and freezers.

Diet Sodas No Good? Say It Ain't So!

I found the following article this morning on ABC News:


News You Can Use: Regulating Your Saccharin Intake
With Saccharin's Weight-Control Benefits in Question, What Steps
Can You Take?
Feb. 11, 2008—
Is too much saccharin -- like the sweeteners used in diet soda -- a bad thing for weight loss? A study released over the weekend links consumption of artificial sweeteners to weight gain. Read
more about it and what you can do to limit your intake.
Click here for a press release from the American Psychological Association, which summarizes the latest Purdue University study on saccharin. Click here to read the full study. What steps should you take to cut back on your saccharin intake? Keith-Thomas Ayoob, a nutritionist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, offers the following suggestions below. Click here for his full opinion article on ABCNEWS.com. Keep the soda and soft drinks to one daily. Have water or seltzer at other times. Hold the sweetener packets to one or two in your drinks. Add more water to powdered drink mixes than is called for. Gradually add more until you get used to a half-strength mix
(this is more economical as well). Sweets are occasional treats, so once or twice a week is occasional. Much more than that and it's a lifestyle, not a treat. Try watery fruits for a sweet fix. Grapes and melons are even a great beverage substitute because they make you feel as if you're both drinking and eating. Click here to read about a July 2007 study in the journal Circulation. which links soda -- even diet soda -- to an increase in other risk factors for heart disease. The researchers of the study reported that "those who said they drank a soda or more per day had a 31 percent greater chance of becoming obese, a 30 percent increased risk for gaining inches around the waist, a 25 percent chance of
developing high blood sugar levels and a 32 percent greater chance of developing lower "good" cholesterol levels." Dietitian and nutrition writer Janet Helm reminds us that "A Calorie Is a Calorie" and cutting calories may be as effective in weight loss as a combination of exercising and dieting. How many excess calories should you be consuming as sugar? Fill in your information here to find out what you should be eating and what you might want to cut back on. Copyright ©
2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Now, unfortunately I was not surprised by this statement, but a little disappointed. After all, I do consume diet sodas, usually about one a day or every two days. I frequently chew orbit gum and put splenda in my coffee. I suspected all along that this news may come out, but buried my head in the sand and waited. Here it is.... The alternative, drink sodas with cane sugar (links below) and pray that Pepsi Raw makes it from the UK to the U.S. sooner than later. Sugary drinks and snacks are desserts and should be treated that way; I guess you can't always have your cake and eat it too.

Sodas with pure cane sugar:

Jones Pure Cane Soda

Mexican Coke

Pepsi Raw info from Trademork.com


Monday, February 11, 2008

Sugar in the Raw




I have decided to switch to Sugar in the Raw as my sweetener of choice for the following reasons listed on their website http://www.sugarintheraw.com/:

"On the island of Maui lie fertile tropical plantations where the rich volcanic soil is warmed by the Pacific sun, fed by mountain waters, and cooled by friendly tradewinds. Here the conditions are perfect for growing sugar cane, nature's own sweetener.Sugar In The Raw Premium Turbinado Sugar is made using 100% pure Hawaiian cane sugar from the initial pressing of the cane, allowing the natural molasses to remain in the crystals. The flavor is sweet and rich. The color is natural amber."

I like that its natural and uprocessed; I think these things lend themselves to being overall more healthy than processed offerings. I was able to order an entire case for $45.00 (shipping included) which seemed like a fair deal. I prefer to buy things (without expiration dates) in bulk to reduce packaging and transport. I bought mine here:

http://www.brooklynpremium.com/suginrawbulc.html


Sugar In The Raw Bulk - Case

Item# 44800-50311
$45.00
Product Description
12 boxes, 2 lbs each. 24 lbs net.Sugar In The Raw bulk contains the same degree of sweetness as ordinary refined sugar, but its hearty natural flavor remains untouched.Use it to enhance the flavor of fruit, complement a cup of coffee, or sweeten a bowl of cereal. Try it for cooking and baking, and savor the delicious, old fashioned taste!Serving size 1 tsp. Servings per container 227. Calories per serving 15.Buying a case saves you $33!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

No He Didn't!

Date: Feb 7, 2008 12:25 PMSubject: Recent CommentsTo: Larry.Liston.house@state.co.us
Mr. Liston:

Ordinarily I would address a Representative with more respect, but after reading your latest comments I'd like you to know that I am shocked and offended. You do not represent me or my views and I personally feel that you should apologize for this disrespectful, uneducated commentary that you have recently made. According to reports you are quoted as saying:

"In my parents' day and age, they were sent away, they were shunned, they were called what they are. There was at least a sense of shame," Liston said of unmarried teen parents. "There's no sense of shame today. Society condones it. . . . I think it's wrong. They're sluts. And I don't mean just the women. I mean the men, too."

For the record, I am a thrity-year old mother of an 11-year old daughter. That's right sir, I was a teenage parent and unmarried. In fact, I was a teenage parent who went on to graduate from high school early, and with honors. I graduated from college with a dual degree while working full-time and caring for my much loved daughter. I am currently persuing a graduate degree and would consider myself to be an upstanding, voting citizen. I remain unmarried and a mother, althogh no longer a teenager. While I can think of several choice derogatory terms to invoke after reading your comments, I will direct none of them at you; because in my day, I was taught to respect others and always my elders. However, I ask, who are you sir to impose your morality on others? Who are you to call me names and imply that what I have done is wrong? What makes you think that your ideas of morality apply to me? How dare you speak publically in this manner and just in case you feel that the answer to any of my questions gives you the right, let me just remind you that you were given the power to speak for us, not about us. You were elected to voice our views; not yours.

I hope you will keep this in mind during future discussions and that you will use more educated verbiage going forward.

Sincerely,

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Shopping for a New Machine

I returned my Singer which has left me with handsewing again in the interim. Although sewing by hand is great for many projects, it can be difficult to get a lot of refashioning accomplished this way. I've been shopping in my spare time for a new machine. I tried the Viking Emerald 183 and it was awesome. It did everything I ever wanted and even created these adorable little decorative stitches like bicycles and I could even program it to write my name, but at nearly $600.00 isn't exactly in the budget. I've looked through magazines and found that I am totally in love with the Brother Innov-is 80, a limited edition Project Runway machine. However, as is often the case with many of the better sewing machines, you cannot buy them or find pricing information online. Unfortunately to further complicate matters there is only one authorized dealer within 50 miles of my house! I've called and haven't been able to reach anyone, so... I've also been looking on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/). I have found a Brother CS6000i which includes a lot of the functions that I am looking for such as:

  • Computerized 60 Stitch Sewing Machine with Multiple Stitch Functions
  • LCD Display for computerized stitch selection
  • Automatic 1-step buttonholer with 7 styles of auto-size buttonholes
  • Automatic Needle Threader
  • Oversized Sewing Table included for Large Projects
This machine is less than $200.00 here http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000JQM1DE/ref=ord_cart_shr?%5Fencoding=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&v=glance, but I have concerns about the warranty and repairs. I haven't made the final decision, but if anyone has experience with buying sewing machines from dealers vs. online, please comment.



Monday, February 4, 2008

Response from Senator Mikulski

"Thanks for contacting me about our health care system. It's nice to hear from you. I absolutely agree with you that our health care system is not meeting the needs of all Americans. Over 46 million Americans are uninsured. Even Americans with health insurance, whether they are current employees or retirees, are seeing their premiums and co-pays rise at a time when they may get fewer benefits. As I travel throughout Maryland , I hear about the tremendous burden health care costs place on families. I believe that all Americans should have access to high quality, affordable health care and health insurance coverage. I'm disappointed that efforts to provide health care reform have failed. Yet, we can't just wait for comprehensive reform. That's why I'm fighting to reduce the number of uninsured Americans and provide coverage to those who need it. I want you to know that I am working hard to make sure that the health care safety net is strong. I am fighting to prevent cuts in funding to hospitals that care for the uninsured, and I will oppose any proposal to block grant or cap federal funding of Medicaid. Block grants, cuts, or caps in Medicaid would mean that some people, who need health care the most, would lose it. I am also concerned that there are over 12 million children without health insurance. I firmly believe that all children should have access to high quality, affordable health care and health insurance coverage. Medicaid plays a vital role as a health care safety net by providing health care coverage to uninsured children. The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which I fought to create in 1997, expanded on the Medicaid program to cover children in families with incomes above traditional Medicaid eligibility levels. Together, these essential programs provide health care to more than 20 million children. But there is more that must be done to ensure every child has access to care - regardless of their family's wealth. That's why I am fighting so that states have the resources they need to continue covering these children. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Keep Children Covered Act of 2007 (S. 401). This important legislation would eliminate the funding shortfall from the SCHIP program that many states, including Maryland , are facing this year. Without these funds, states may be forced to cut enrollment, and many of the children now participating in the Maryland SCHIP program could lose their health coverage and become uninsured. S. 401 is currently pending before the Senate Committee on Finance. We must make it easier for all Americans to have affordable healthcare at any age. You can be sure that I will continue to fight for a stronger American healthcare system and for affordable healthcare for all. Again, thanks for contacting me. Please let me know if I can be of any help to you in the future."

Response from Senator Cardin

"Thank you for contacting me about the need for universal health coverage. Expanding health care access and coverage to all Americans is one of our most pressing domestic policy issues. This year, the number of uninsured people in the United States has reached an estimated 47 million, or one in every five people under 65. In Maryland, 16 percent of the population remains uninsured. The vast majority are members of working families, and their lack of insurance forces millions of them to go without needed care. With such a large percentage of Americans uninsured, our nation's public health status is at risk. We have a moral and practical obligation to address this crisis, which is why I support universal coverage that would save lives and make Americans healthier, reduce health care costs, and promote better quality of care. I believe the best option for universal coverage is to expand employer-based coverage. This would build on the structure of our current health care system, providing the opportunity for our employers and small businesses to be stay involved in providing health care to their employees. Employees benefit from group rates and more affordable coverage, and employers benefit from having a healthier, better cared for workforce. In addition, we need to continue to shore up public programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which provide coverage to America's seniors and poor, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which was created in 1997 to provide coverage to American's uninsured children and today insures more than 6.8 million children and pregnant women. Thanks in part to these programs, the percentage of children without coverage has declined in recent years. This year, one of my top priorities will be the reauthorization of the SCHIP program. As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I voted for specific funding to be made available so that states can expand their programs to cover even more children. Finally, I understand that simply providing insurance coverage means little if it is not comprehensive. Immoderately high deductibles or an unreasonably low lifetime cap on benefits can mean inadequate coverage. Reducing the ranks of the uninsured is also meaningless without true patient protections. I will urge my colleagues to pass a strong, enforceable patients' bill of rights that includes independent review procedures for those who are denied treatment by their insurance plans. Again, thank you for sharing your concerns. Health care will remain one of my top priorities in the Senate. Please do not hesitate to contact me again about this issue or any other issue of concern."

Chronicling my adventures in proving that less is more. I'll learn to refashion/recycle clothes, prepare gourmet meals using as many natural/basic/raw ingredients as possible. I'll learn to spend less, live more, and reclaim those things that are truly valuable in my life.

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