a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What If . . . the food you eat isn't REAL food?

The Velveteen Rabbit asked "what is REAL." We need to ask
ourselves what foods we purchase and consume are actually REAL!

"What is REAL?" asked the (toy Velveteen) Rabbit one day. . .

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse.
"It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves
you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but
REALLY loves you, then you become Real. . .

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. 

"You become. It takes a long time. . .Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

If you are not familiar with it, or just want to get reacquainted with these lovable critters, click here. (But please return to this site when you are finished)

As Dave and I have begun eating healthier (and already feeling better as a result) we are doing quite a bit of research and what we are learning is pretty shocking. Much of what we are buying at fast-food places and restaurants is NOT real food. The same goes for the food you eat at home if most of it is bought already prepared, rather than being cooked from "scratch." These processed foods are what author Michael Pollan refers to as 
“edible food-like substances” — 
no longer the products of nature but of food science.'" 

What is REAL? is what we  need to discover. Most processed foods that fill the grocery shelves today are manufactured!!! 
 Manufactured foods  started appearing following World War II. And, unfortunately like so much of our "progress," what starts out as a great thing quickly becomes not so great.
Packaged foods are made in a plant --- even if they originated as a plant.  They are so highly processed that most of their original goodness---the nutrients---have been depleted and replaced with many preservatives and other ingredients (can't call these food either). In the many stages of processing, even their flavors have been eliminated....and then replaced.  It was sad to discover that  a product's flavor comes not from nature and not even from test kitchens, but from closely guarded laboratories---and scary to learn that both "natural" and artificial flavors are created in the same laboratories where basically their only differences are "technical."

Reality in our food production is stranger than fiction ---- and many times scarier than a horror story. 
 I have posted previously on a few of these edible food-like substances and feel the need to share, and continue to share, what we are learning. 
Burger Kings Strawberry Milk Shake-
and from an older post from when my blog first started: I LOVE to READ posted under Notes to Mom

“Twinkie, Deconstructed” by Steve Ettlinger, an interesting and easy read --- “a fascinating exploration into the curious world of packaged foods. . . takes us from phosphate mines in Idaho to cornfields in Iowa, from gypsum mines in Oklahoma to oil fields in China, to demystify some of American’s most common processed food ingredients—where they came from, how they are made, how they are used—and why. Beginning at the source (hint: the ingredients are often more closely linked to rocks and petroleum than any of the four food groups), Ettlinger reveals how each Twinkie ingredient goes through the process of being crushed, baked, fermented, refined, and /or reacted into a totally unrecognizable goo or powder with a strange name—all for the sake of creating a simple snack cake.”

If this makes you want to boycott commercial Twinkies but still crave them, go to your search engine and type in “twinkie recipe.”  There are several. The filling I use is from my recipe for Ho Ho cake — a copy cat of another multi- (mostly unnecessary) ingredient snack cake.     

Ho-Ho Filling
1 cup milk
3 T cornstarch
1 cup sugar
½ cup margarine (1 cube)
½ cup shortening
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Combine milk and cornstarch and cook until creamy, stirring constantly. In separate bowl, beat sugar, margarine, shortening, salt and vanilla until creamy. Combine the two mixtures, beating  until fluffy.


"Food Rules: An eater's manual" by Michael Pollan is a tiny book that adds a little wit to its wisdom with suggestions such as "don't eat anything your great grandma wouldn't eat, avoid foods containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry, and avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce." + 61 more ways to healthier eating.

          "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a list of approximately 700 food additives which they label "generally recognized as safe (GRAS), many of which have not undergone any testing! 
          "Congress further defines a safe additive as one about which there is "reasonable certainty that no harm will result from use." Some substances that are found to be harmful to people or animals may be allowed, but only at the level of 1/1ooth of the amount that is considered harmful.
          "In the United States more than 3,000 substances can be added to foods for the purposes of preservation, coloring, texture, flavor and more. It's this stuff that makes a 100-calorie cup of yogurt taste like key lime pie or enables a cream-filled cake to remain edible for decades. "
excerpted from Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food by Christine Avanti, certified clinical and sports nutritionist 

Why the warning about food additives?
          Again, as stated above many of them are poorly tested and possibly dangerous... Some might come from tar or petroleum or other materials humans are not designed to ingest. Some are even mined.

I keep wondering WHO would even come up with the idea of, and HOW these non-food items even got in our food products?
WHY is not one of the questions --- the answer to that is simple: 
$ Pure greed $

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Make Your Own Corn Syrup or. . . Honey Substitute

Manufactures are coming up with more and more ways to use corn in some form in many, many products. 

It appears that everything food label you look at lists corn syrup
as an ingredient. . .usually high fructose corn syrup.

While it is not really good for you, there are some recipes that just have to have it.  And, if you don't,
here is a do-it-yourself substitute. I don't know how people come up with these things but it may save you a trip to the store.

Corn Syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
dash of salt

In a heavy 2-1/2 quart saucepan, combine all ingredients over medium heat. Stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover pan and cook 3 minutes, to reduce crystal build-up on the sides of the pan. Uncover and cook, stirring often to "soft ball stage" or when you drop a little from a spoon into a glass of cold water and it drops to the bottom of the water in a soft ball.

Cool the syrup completely and store in covered container at room temperature. It should keep for two months.

If a recipe calls for light corn syrup you can substitute 1 cup of sugar and an additional                           1 cup of whatever other liquid your recipe calls for.

If a recipe calls for dark corn syrup you can use 3/4 cup light corn syrup and 1/4 cup molasses.


If your recipe calls for 1 cup of honey you can replace it with 1-1/4 cups of sugar and an additional 1/4 cup of whatever other liquid the recipe calls for.

'til we eat again,
          Simply, Gail