Thursday, March 31, 2011

List of snack foods

I've compiled a list (that's not exhaustive) of snack foods that you can feel a little less guilty about when you feed them to your family. Many of these may be familiar, but I'd like to steer you in the direction of a better decision. I'd love to hear what you serve!


Other quick and easy's
  • Apple slices with peanut butter.
  • Nuts or sunflower seeds (for those with nut allergies) - be sure to read labels! Believe it or not, a lot of nuts have all kinds of crazy things added in.
  • Crackers and cream cheese.
  • Fruit or smoothies.
Ok, that's it for now!
How my week turned out...

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Some big contenders - Food additives

    Continuing with our current theme, I have put together a list of some things I avoid when buying groceries. I hope this list of food additives will give you useful information if this is a new subject to you.

    Sodium Benzoate- A preservative that causes hyperactivity in some children. Is not carcinogenic on its own, but in combination with asorbic acid or vitamin C, it is a carcinogen. This is found in MANY products including soda, soy sauce, some frozen foods and salad dressings. Note to ponder: Coca-cola has taken it out of its soft drinks... they have reasons.

    MSG (aka monosodium glutamate): I’m not sure what is true in all that I’ve read, but symptoms for MSG are pretty bleak! Some of the symptoms I’ve read: headache, hyperactivity, becoming flushed, depression, brain damage (!) and obesity to name a few. Yes, MSG is found in Chinese restaurants, but it is also found throughout your grocery store, including lots of boxed dinner options. I know you can’t believe everything you read, but if you’re interested in reading more here are some websites: Truth in Labeling and MSG myth.

    Aspartame: This is a sweetener found in many diet sodas and “sugar free” products. I came across many possible symptoms on this one. Some of them include: anxiety, dizziness, seizures (!), premature birth for pregnant ladies(!) and many more. Here is just one website

    High Fructose Corn Syrup: Another sweetener found in most all things that are sweetened. I hear its cheaper than sugar. There are mixed results on possible risks with this one. It is possible that your body doesn’t process the chemical, thus obesity may be an issue. 

    Artificial Food Dyes: Found in many colored foods (even white marshmallows!). It is possible that food dyes cause hyperactivity in some children. The FDA is currently reviewing some of these colors. Some European countries require warning labels on foods that contain them.

    Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite: This is a color preservative found in most bacons, hot dogs and lunch meats, although you can find these products without the added nitrates/-ites if you look hard enough. The basic problem with them is that they may cause cancer. Most companies will say that you don’t consume enough to cause cancer, but.... limiting it would seem wise.

    I know that the above information can make most people feel overwhelmed. I presented it to inform people, not to convince you that you need to take drastic action. Fresh food is always going to be the best and healthiest, that’s common sense. However, making everything fresh is just not practical in most of our lives.

    Come back tomorrow and read a list of some of our favorite “safe” junk foods!

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    A Healthy Diet

    I really want to follow up yesterday's post with something of greater importance. I think we can all agree that what you eat can directly effect your health... for the good or bad. I'd like to propose, that likewise, what we feed our minds and souls, directly effects our spiritual health.

    Note: this post is written for those who have already put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to be their Saviour. If you haven't but would like to, you can leave your e-mail in the comments section or read this article.

    Let's look at three aspects of health:

    1. Weight: In our day to day lives we want to see people that are at a healthy weight. The same holds true in our spiritual walks. Healthy people can eat a lot of food... as long as they choose healthy options and exercise enough. Job said, "I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." (23:12) Imagine hungering for the word of God like that?? Job had a healthy spiritual weight indeed! In order for us to have that same healthy weight we need to feast on the Word of God throughout our free moments. And tell others about what we have learned (that's the exercise part)!

    2. Overall health/cancer: If we hear of someone who has advanced stage cancer, generally we would say they are in poor health. Can you think of spiritual cancer? What about sin? Sin, just like cancer, starts off small. But if it is left alone it has the potential to ultimately kill us! Only the Lord Jesus Himself was able to lead a perfect life. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:8, 9

    3. Behavior: Some people may not agree with me on this, but I believe that what we eat, can at times effect our actions (hence yesterday's post). Most of you are probably familiar with the fruit of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." (Galatians 5:22, 23) Just because we have the Spirit dwelling in us does not mean that these fruits will be manifested. If we fill our mind with "junk food" on a regular basis, we aren't leaving much room for the Spirit of God to shine forth. Again, reading the Word is essential as also is praying without ceasing.

    The Lord Jesus Himself said, "Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? (i.e.- the toilet gets it!) But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man." Matthew 15: 17, 18

    I stated yesterday that food is important to me... and it is, but what is MORE important is what goes into my spiritual walk. Some days feel more junk filled than others, but that should motivate me (and you!) to keep pressing on.

    "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." Phil. 4:8 

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    How I became a label reader

     Food is very important to me. Three and a half years ago I first discovered information about food additives that I had never known about. I reported my findings on my blog. As of today, the Time magazine article I cited is still up and running! Since that time, I have been nothing short of confused. I go between being convinced of my findings to wondering if I'm making things up.

    Today I ran across another article, which confirmed the things that I first thought. Let me lay out what I've discovered and hopefully bring some points for you to ponder.

    1. I would know nothing if I didn't have my son, Seth. We love him dearly. He is a very active child who cares about people. But some days he can try the gentlest person's patience. When I first read the Time article mentioned above, I took him off sodium benzoate. I saw an immediate difference. He no longer had "anger issues." I should also note that at this time and all future happenings, I made a change to the family's diet, not just Seth's.

    2. After a couple of years he seemed to be on the verge of ADHD. Some days he would act normal, like every other kid, but most days he would be full of energy and seem unable to focus. I decided to meet with a nutritionist last May and get further advice. Her advice was to take him off of ALL preservatives, food colorings and other additives. She also suggested going gluten free, drastically increasing fruits and veggies, maybe even cutting out dairy. This was all so new to me, but we "tried to try" it for 3 weeks. It was hard and there were many "slip ups." In the end, Seth did seem more attentive and mellow though.

    3. Keeping up with all of the nutritionists advice was way too much for us. However, I started keeping preservatives, colorings and other additives (MSG, high fructose corn syrup) out of our diet. There is a catch though... we don't live in a cave. It seems candy shows up at every corner when we're not at home. In the end I feel that Seth (and the rest of us) still get too much in us.

    4. Where do the doubts come in? From people of course! You see, I put all my faith in Christ Jesus and Him alone. If someone said to me that they think Jesus was just a good man and nothing more, that wouldn't waver my faith at all. I KNOW that my Redeemer lives and that He shall stand upon the latter day upon the earth. But with food... when I tell people that Seth reacts to food and they say, "well, couldn't that just be his personality to be hyper?" I don't trust in my research and observation. I think, maybe they're right and I forget all the good I've seen come out of Seth's diet changes. I have a hard time standing up for my choices. Its much easier not to rock the boat!

    5. I have learned to read labels on just about everything I buy. This past week on my grocery trip two things worth noting happened. First, I bought lemon and lime juice and didn't read the labels assuming they had nothing but lemon and lime juice in them. Lo and behold, when I got home I realized they have sodium benzoate. :( I guess I'll use the lemon juice for cleaning purposes and I'm not sure what to do with the lime juice. Second story: we haven't had chocolate syrup in a while. I thought it would be nice to have some in the house. Since I haven't made any in a while, I figured it would just be easier to buy some. The only ones this particular store carried had red#40 and probably a preservative or two. Maybe I will have to get in the kitchen then! That brings me to number 6:

    6. Some days it is just easier to make my own food then try and find "safe" foods... it's also cheaper most of the time. This experience has allowed me to spend many joyful hours in the kitchen. Even if I'm having a bad day, I usually cheer up when I start baking/cooking.

    These are just some things that are on my mind. I'll probably write more later. If you've made it this far, I congratulate you! (Sorry for being so long winded!)

    Saturday, March 26, 2011

    Orange Muffins

    How fun does "March Muffin Madness" sound to you??? The Kid Can Cook is hosting the madness this week and I thought it would be fun to join in.

    I really like these muffins. My kids like them, too (I'll even share a story with you!) My husband likes them! That is incredible, considering there is fruit in these muffins. My husband DOES NOT eat fruit, but he eats these muffins. :)

    Ian couldn't wait to sink his teeth in:

    Patricia, our 4 year old, has made up her mind that she wants to have nothing to do with raisins or anything that slightly resembles them. As a matter of fact, on St. Patty's day, she didn't even try the Irish soda bread I baked even when the other kids were oohing and aahing over theirs.

    This morning, when she saw me add craisins to the muffin batter, she started crying and telling me that she would only eat cereal. She was still crying 30 minutes later when I was serving the muffins. Her "no" was very clear. "I don't like craisins!" My husband was able to convince her to try 1/4 of one. If she didn't like it she could have her cereal. Before I knew it she polished the whole thing off and was asking for more!

    Without further ado, I share the recipe...
    Orange Muffins
    • 1 whole orange (including peel)
    • 3/4 cup craisins
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 tbs melted butter
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • pinch of salt
    Grease your muffin pan and preheat oven to 400°.  Wash your orange really well. Peel off a thin layer of the rind and chop finely (you don't have to be very thorough with this step). Slice the orange in eighths or quarters. Discard as much of the remaining rind as possible and any seeds. Place the orange sections, chopped peel and craisins in a food processor and pulse until coarse.

    In a large bowl, mix sugar and melted butter until crumb-like. Add milk, flour, baking soda, salt and vanilla all at once. Mix just until combined (You don't want to over mix). Add orange mixture and mix until moist. Feel free to add a tablespoon or two of milk if the orange didn't produce much juice.

    Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes until center is done. (Even at this high heat it could use the full 20 minutes.) Makes 12 full sized muffins.

    If you have any questions about any techniques used, I'd be happy to try to help. :)

    March Muffin Madness

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Link Love

    Food related
    Craft related

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    4 Good Reads

    The kids and I make good use of our libraries. There are 3 of them within 15 minutes of our house. Sometimes I'm scheduled enough to get us to story time, but even if we don't make it we usually come home with a stash of books that keeps us occupied.

    Recently, I borrowed 3 books on Japan to let the kids know a little bit more about the country. I found this to be a great way to "connect" with the Japanese. Below are other books we are glad came through our house.

    "The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig" was adorable in more ways than one. In the end of the story, it is the weakest house that keeps the wolves safe. Its detailed enough to entertain my 7-year-old, but the pages are short enough to keep my 4-year-old's attention.

    "Earl the Squirrel" was written by Don Freeman (the same author of "Corduroy"). The colors you see on the front are the three colors that are in the book (black, white and red). The simplistic coloring offers opportunities to discuss art with your preschooler. There is nothing complicated in the book and yet it is a "feel good" book.

    Its interesting to note that "Earl the Squirrel" was published many years after Don Freeman's death. Apparently many publishers politely rejected the transcript during his lifetime. His son tried again recently and it was a hit! I'm glad they printed it.

    About a month ago the kids and I have started using a compost bin. My mom found this book for us: "Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow: A Compost Story". This is another easy to read book, but very enjoyable. The pictures are clear, the concept is well laid out and the kids (and I) learned a thing or two about composting.

    Did you know President Obama wrote a children's book? Neither did I until I saw "of Thee I Sing" staring me in the face! This book includes many famous Americans throughout history who have made a difference.  The artwork is pleasant to the eyes. There is plenty to learn about those included, but the info is not exhaustive. It gives you a desire to explore the library more!

    Do you have any suggestions of good books I can read to my kiddos?

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    God's provisions

    Yesterday I had the privilege of reading several chapters of Matthew's gospel. One concept that I kept noticing was God's provision. 

    "Ask and it shall be given you." (7:7)

    "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (7:11)

    "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you?" (6:30)

    My husband and I are at a point in our life where finances seem overwhelming. We're always wondering where our money goes. So, after reading these portions I prayed that the Lord would provide our needs and that we wouldn't get into debt over things. Is it any surprise that the Lord answered my prayer? 

    It was brought to my attention that Ian's shoes were starting to split in the front. I had seen a good deal at Walmart the day before, so I thought I'd pop in and see if it was still available. I didn't find a pair of sneakers for Ian, instead I found four pairs of sneakers for all of the kids. Get a load of this:

    The total came to $22, as opposed to the $59 it would've been at full price. I love coming across good deals. I usually always walk away feeling like I accomplished something. But in this situation it wasn't just a good deal I walked away with.  It was a clear answer to prayer. Yes, the Lord would provide my needs... for these, I didn't even need to spend coupon clipping time.

    Patricia is showcasing three of the pairs that the kids are crazy about:

    All of them fit perfectly. Ian doesn't want to part with his. Last night and tonight he cried when I got him ready for bed, because I had to take them off:

    Have you proven God lately? It is a wonderful feeling to do so. Find a promise given by God in His Word. Pray, with faith and with pure intentions, that the Lord give/show/reveal His promise to you. Let me know!