Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?

The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?

I had to share this. It's such a disappointment, but so few people know about this stuff going on because they just trust that a well known store like Whole Foods would be a safe place to buy high quality food. (Don't get me wrong, I know they still sell high quality goods.) After reading this article, I visited the Whole Foods Website and I had to chuckle. Their home page reads:

Whole Foods
Selling the Highest Quality Natural and Organic Products

Are we to assume now because they're selling products containing GMO/GE ingredients that these products have only the "Highest Quality" pesticide, herbicide, and Round-Up Ready-laden ingredients in them? Therein lies my point. By offering foods that are tainted with GMO/GE ingredients, you may as well throw "Highest Quality" out the window. Maybe in describing their Organic foods, it's accurate, but not so for the "Natural" foods. Man-made chemicals in your food are not natural.

I'm pretty certain I was told at one point last year that Whole Foods didn't sell anything that had GMO's/GE's in it. I assumed that statement was true(yes, totally naive), and never checked it out because, c'mon, it was Whole Foods. I considered them to be the Gold Standard of grocery stores.

So this makes me wonder if there will ever be a grocery chain that sells only organic food, grassfed beef, free-range poultry, pastured pork, etc. that won't sell out at some point. If such a store ever comes about, they'll have my business and I'll gladly pay more for those organic products and the peace of mind that comes with them.

To learn more about Monsanto, I would highly recommend watching The Future of Our Food, then do your own research. (You can watch it online free by clicking on the highlighted title.) The greed involved in our food supply is honestly heartbreaking. While you're at it, check out Food, Inc. too.

You could also use Netflix to watch these via the instant streaming through your Wii, or if you want to purchase Food, Inc. for your school, gym, or family, the link is below.

Buy Food, Inc.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Update on the Coconut Bread! - Coconut Flatbread

This is really exciting for me because, like I said, it's hard to be a mom (or dad) on the go without sandwiches.  So, this one's for all those parents and kids who are burnt out on the lunchmeat lettuce wraps, myself included.

I want everyone reading this to refer to my Crazy for Coconut Bread post/recipe from a few months ago.  Omit the banana.  Follow the recipe as listed otherwise. Bake on greased 9X13 baking sheet (jelly roll sheet preferred) until golden brown.  This should take less time than the loaf, so just keep an eye on it.

Voila, I give you coconut flatbread.  Slice into whatever sized squares you want, and add your meats, veggies, etc.   The other option is to go old school on it with a Paleo PBJ.  Organic unsweetened Peanut Butter or Almond Butter and some mashed fruit or honey  Strawberries, Blueberries, blackberries, etc.  If you want the mashed fruit to be more jelly-like, just heat it gently in a skillet over medium heat for a few minutes to help the moisture evaporate.  Be careful not to scorch it.  Let it cool, and spread it on the bread.   Store the bread in the refrigerator in sealed plastic bags.

If you really wanna wow the kids, you can use large cookie cutters in fun shapes like hearts, stars, footballs, etc. instead of cutting the bread into squares.  Then the shapes are exact.  By all means, if you as a parent want a heart-shaped sandwich, you're allowed, too:)

Enjoy and feel free to tag me with your fun shaped sandwiches on facebook!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pan Seared Salmon with Mushrooms and Leeks

Sometimes I feel like I'm one chopped vegetable away from carpal tunnel, so this was a nice relief from chopping a ton of ingredients.  I was in the mood for some salmon and found this recipe to be pretty simple and super satisfying using only 7 ingredients. (The salad isn't included in that count.) 

Using frozen salmon filets, fresh mushrooms and leeks, and some lemon juice,  this took less than 15 minutes to make, after the salmon was thawed and marinated.

Pan Seared Salmon with Mushrooms and Leeks

6 Salmon filets (about 6 oz. each)
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large organic leeks (these look like huge scallions or green onions) white and light green parts only sliced
3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (basic mushrooms work fine, or shiitake)
2 tablespoons unsalted organic butter (grassfed)
Sea salt and cracked pepper

Thaw salmon filets, unless you are using fresh.   In a large flat bottom dish, lay salmon in a single layer and pour lemon juice over them, making sure to get juice on both sides of each filet.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  On a large clean surface, lay filets out in a single layer.  Sprinkle with desired amount of sea salt and cracked pepper and rub with olive oil.  Repeat salt, pepper and olive oil on other side of salmon.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for the salmon and another skillet over high heat with butter for the mushrooms and leeks.   Once the butter is nearly smoking, add mushrooms and leeks.  Cook these for 3-5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until they start to brown on the edges.  Add a few grinds of sea salt and pepper along the way.  While those are cooking, add salmon filets to the other skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.  (I had to do 2 filets at a time.) These will be done medium-well for thinner filets.  Place salmon on plate and top with mushroom and leek mixture.  I like my salmon with extra lemon, so I squeezed some more juice on it after cooking it.  I served this with a side of mixed greens topped with a homemade balsamic dressing.

Please feel free to share your feedback on this one and let me know if your kids ate it, and if they liked it.  Mine ate it and liked it, but I'm curious to find out if they're part of some strange minority or if these recipes are well received by other kids.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with a Paleo Compote

(Once again, I apologize for picture quality.  Trust me though, the taste more than makes up for it.)

Pork Tenderloin with A Paleo Compote

I love getting my inspiration for recipes from reading different cooking articles and recipes and scaling them accordingly to make them Paleo.  For this, I used a non-paleo compote recipe and did my typical substitutions and omissions to make it work.

Although I'm not usually of fan of fruit with meats, I tend to make exceptions with pork most often.

For those of you who are CrossFit junkies and are reading this, I wouldn't recommend eating this type of high carb fruity meal on a regular basis.  A compote is like a dessert, so feel free to consider this a paleo-friendly cheat meal.

I prepped the compote ahead of time as follows:

Butternut Squash, Shallot, Apple, and Golden Raisin Compote

2 medium butternut squash - peeled, 1/2 inch dice
2 large shallots (these look like bulbs of garlic, but tan in color) - peeled and minced
2 apples (I used Braeburn, but you could use almost any type) - peeled, cored, and 1/4 inch dice
1 and 1/2 cups of golden raisins (you can find this near wherever you buy regular raisins or near the salad toppings in your produce section)
1 cup of white cooking wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tablespoon raw agave nectar * Optional

Preheat over to 450 to prepare for second step of compote.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add squash and toss with oil.  Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Remove lid and add shallots.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add apples, raisins, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper and cook for 1 minute.  Add cooking wine and stir/toss frequently until most of the wine is evaporated.  If you are using the agave nectar, add it now and stir once again.  (The agave nectar is not necessary because the dish is plenty sweet without it, but gives it more syrupy consistency.) Sprinkle with thyme and pour into a large casserole dish and set aside.

For the Pork Tenderloin:

2 lbs. pork tenderloin (usually packaged as two smaller tenderloins in one package)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. thyme
Sea salt and pepper

Heat oil over medium-high heat in the same skillet used for the compote (no need to clean it, the flavors of the compote help to coat and flavor the pork more)  Rub the tenderloin(s) with the thyme, and a few grinds of salt and pepper.  Placed the tenderloin(s) in the skillet to sear them on the outsides for about 30 seconds on each side.  Remove from heat and skillet and place on top of the compote in the casserole dish.  I sprayed the meat with olive oil cooking spray to help seal in the moisture.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 450 degrees.  Remove foil and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes.  If this sounds just like the roasted chicken recipe technique, it's because it is.  It worked so well, I wanted to try it with a different meat and recipe altogether ASAP and it was a success.  I worried the pork would be dry, but it wasn't at all.  Slice the pork into medallions and top with a couple spoonfuls of the compote and serve with a mixed greens side salad of your choice.

My 4 year old's review of it was, "Mommy, I love these cinnamon apples and meat!" She only tasted apples and cinnamon, which was a great way to mask the other healthies I managed to hide in there.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Roasted Chicken with Kale, Cauliflower, and Onions

Roasted Chicken with Kale, Cauliflower, and Onions

First let me apologize for the picture quality as I didn't have my camera handy and had to use my laptop.

I love one dish meals.  This is officially my new favorite recipe.  I was amazed at how easy this was and how good it tasted with so few ingredients and spices/herbs.  Considering that kale is a newbie for my kids, I was overjoyed to see them eating it.

I tweaked this recipe from one in my latest issue of Food & Wine that called for potatoes.  I decided to substitute cauliflower in place of the spuds, but every other ingredient was in the recipe, just in different quantities.

Nothing has to be exact on this one, but feel free to use this as a base and substitute other spices or vegetables:

3 lbs of bone-in, skin on, chicken thighs
1 bunch of organic kale (Kroger is where I found it organic) torn into pieces, removed from main stems
1 organic yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 head of organic cauliflower, broken into smaller pieces
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
paprika - to taste
sea salt - to taste
pepper - to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a large roasting dish or pan, add kale, onions, and cauliflower and drizzle with olive oil.  Add a few grinds of sea salt and pepper and toss vegetables until evenly coated in oil.  Lay chicken out, skin side down on a tray and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and paprika (I probably used a total of 1 tablespoon of paprika on the chicken thighs, front and back.)  Place chicken on the bed of vegetables in the roasting dish, skin side up, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika.   Cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and continue roasting for additional 30 minutes.

Hopefully you enjoy the ease of this recipe and are able to sit and relax while it cooks instead of hovering over a skillet :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Part 2 of Supplements - The Calm before the Storm

Everybody who knows me probably considers me one of those "granola kids."  I prefer "closet hippie."
That being said, I love doing things naturally, organically, and I generally steer clear of prescription anything if possible.  I would much rather try to change my diet, or supplements to help with any problems or ailments that might be happening to me or my family. 

In my last post I mentioned the enzymes that were honestly one of the best things I have ever done as a parent, but my kids still weren't sleeping consistently.  Neither were we, obviously.  My husband was listening to The Paleo Solution podcasts a lot at that point and took note of a recommendation from Andy Deas on one of the episodes to try this stuff called Natural Calm to help balance your magnesium and calcium levels, which in turn leads to all kinds great things happening in your body.  You can read the info for yourself here for Natural Calm .  The very first night we took it, we slept great.  We could have been just plain exhausted, or it could have been the Natural Calm, but either way, our sleep and stress levels in general have been much better since we started taking it. 

That's when the light bulb came on and my husband (he's full of great suggestions) looked in to finding the kid version of this.  We ordered it and as with the enzymes, the kids' behavior improved even more within about a week, and they were sleeping through the night.  We now give them the Kids Calm-Multi instead of their gummy vitamins with DHA and D3.  I just add the recommended dosage to some organic juice in the AM with their breakfast and we're off and running.

Just like the enzymes, fast forward a few months.  We ran out of Kids Calm.  You would have thought someone stole all of their toys and told them Santa wasn't real with how upset they were all the time.  They were on meltdown mode cruise control.  For about a week, we were so busy and just kind of forgot about re-ordering more, until one day it dawned on us that it could be the Kids Calm that they needed.  My mother-in-law was babysitting them after about 3 days of it being back in their systems.  She called me and the conversation went something like this:

MIL: "Oh my gosh, Jill, what is that stuff?"
Me:  "Oh you mean the Kids Calm?"
MIL: "YES!!! It's amazing! The difference in their behavior is like, oh my gosh, they are different kids!"

You get the point.  The stuff is awesome.  When it's grandma approved, you know its good because grandmas, in general, only see halos above their grandkids heads.  For her to notice a significant dip in their behavior when they didn't have it is huge.

Read about it for yourself and when you're ready to order some, here's the link:

Order Natural Calm
Order Kids Calm-Multi

Now, back to the recipes...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Few Supplemental Posts About...Supplements

Belly aches...check.  Constipation...Check.  Crazy meltdowns...check.  Trouble sleeping...check.  Mean and irritable behavior...CHECK!

After weeks on end of this and not much advice or help from the pediatrician, other than "it's just a phase most toddlers go through," I was contemplating going back to work full time, just so I could have a break from the craziness of our two girls.

In a humiliating trip to the local "bouncy place" with the inflatable slides and mazes, during which both of my girls had accidents (the smelly kind), I was venting to a good friend of mine about it and asked her if her sons went through this phase at all, to which her answer was an enthusiastic, "YES!"  Then she started telling me how they stumbled upon this remedy to her son's symptoms through a holistic doctor who recommended it for a different reason.  Digestive Enzymes, she told me, were what ultimately turned her son into the total sweetheart that he is.  Well, enzymes and I'm sure good parenting was involved somewhere along the way.

After giving me a few recommendations of brands to buy and where to buy them, I was convinced these would work for my girls and headed to the local hippie health food store.  The associate who assisted me was beyond helpful and basically schooled me on the topic of digestion in toddlers and adults.  The info she told me made perfect sense and she gave me a few recommendations on things to avoid as well, such as wheat and dairy(paleo and we didn't even know it!) to see how that affected the kids and their behavior.  I left with a bag full of Buddy Bear chewable digestive enzymes, and Buddy Bear chewable probiotics, some D3 chewables, and gummy vitamins with DHA.  Three days is all it took for the enzymes to kick in.  They took care of the all the symptoms I listed at the start of this little rant and my sweet little girls were back to normal, with the exception of some sleep issues.   Either their "phases" ended, or these things worked.  My money is on the enzymes. Now let me just say, my kids aren't perfect angels 100% of the time, but their behavior has improved immensely. 

Okay, now fast forward like 2 months.  I ran out of the enzymes and went to the health food store, only to be disappointed in finding the Buddy Bear Enzymes spot empty!  I went all over town trying to find them, and couldn't, which resulted in us ordering them online through non other than our beloved Amazon.  A few days later, just as the behavioral nasties started to rear their ugly heads, the amazon box was delivered, and the Bears were back in action.   This little enzyme shortage emergency ultimately resulted in us joining Amazon Prime with guaranteed free 2nd day delivery and has been nothing short of a blessing ever since.

You can find links to purchase these to the right in my product recommendations through the Amazon store.  They have generally been cheaper online than in any health food store I have seen, even with shipping if you have to pay for it.  Either way, it has been worth every penny.  While you're at it, it wouldn't hurt to try some for yourself either, especially if you are having any kinds of digestive issues.