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Saving on Organic Groceries

18 Nov

I’m new at buying healthy food.  I’ve always just bought whatever was cheapest.

Now I’m on a search to find good food while still maintaining a budget. I’m not one who believes all groceries need to be organic.  As long as the food is nutritional and there are little or no artificial ingredients or preservatives, I’m pretty happy with the food.  Depending on what you are buying, sometimes the nutritional value stays the same regardless of whether it is organic or not.  As a rule of thumb, the more natural the food is the better nutritional value it is going to have.  Organic just means it’s about as natural as it can be.  Foods raised organically do not contain pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, or preservatives.  Organic food is more expensive, but in my opinion the nutritional benefits of many of these foods outweigh the extra cost of food.

There are ways to purchase organic foods while sticking to your budget!

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Crockpot: Savory Bean and Spinach Soup

17 Nov

This is not a recipe I have tried yet but it is one I have wanted to try, so hopefully on our next shopping trip I will remember to buy the ingredients needed for this.   Today is, however, the Nourishing Crockpot Carnival over at Passionate Homemaking and I wanted to contribute!

Passionate Homemaking is one of my favorite blogs, I have learned a great deal about natural and healthy living from Lindsay, the author of the blog.  I appreciate her dedication and all the hard work she pours into her writing.   I highly recommend checking out her blog if you haven’t already.

Anyway, here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 3 14 oz. cans vegetable broth
  • 1 15-oz can small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can tomato puree
  • ½ cup uncooked brown rice
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 8 cups chopped fresh spinach or kale leaves

Directions:

1.    In a 3 ½ or 4 quart slow cooker, combine all but the spinach or kale
2.    Cook on low for 5-7 hours or high 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours.
3.    Just before serving, stir in spinach or kale.

Yields: 6 Servings

MSG – Monosodium Glutamate

25 Sep

“She is like the merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.” Proverbs 31:14-15

While many may not take these verses literally by getting up before dark, I believe these verses are extremely important as they put emphasis how a woman should work hard to benefit her family by finding the best available food out there and she should disciplined in her ways of providing. One way to do this, I believe, is to be well educated about the food you are preparing for your family.

I’ve always heard, “Avoid MSG at all cost!” I’ve seen signs at chinese food restaurants that proudly proclaim, “NO MSG!” Though, I’ve never actually done any research on MSG to see exactly what it is and why it is bad.

I decided to do some searching to find out what foods actually contain MSG. I came to find out that nearly ALL packaged products (which is what? 80-90% of our grocery store?) contain free glutamate (MSG).

Great.

So What is MSG?

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Shopping Days

20 Sep

Gage works at our local grocery store and because of this we receive a small rebate at around Christmas according to how much we spent in the store during the year. Honestly I think if we shopped at Wal Mart all the time we’d save the same amount or more…but even so, I think it is better to do more local shopping and it’ll be nice to get an extra small paycheck around Christmas. They have set aside 3 days out of each month for us to buy our groceries (usually the 3rd weekend of the month). Today was one of the days. Grocery shopping used to be something I loved to do, but now it involves so much more than just go, grab a few things for the week, pay, and leave.
Now we must:

1) Create a list of meals for the month. Then create a list of the ingredients needed to make those meals – writing them down in groups that go somewhat in the same way the store aisles go (vegetables, canned foods, deli, dairy, etc). Using the local grocery ad, check to see if any of those ingredients are on sale (or plan meals according to whatever is on sale!), check the pantry to see if there are any items that are not needed at the store. Make a seperate list of non-food items needed.

2) Remember to bring the re-usable bags. They are so easy to forget, even if they are in the trunk…I forget to bring them in.
3) Remember to bring the WIC pouch with the WIC checks in it.
4) Remember to bring any coupons we may have for items we regularly buy (this is one I forgot to do today)
5) Remember to go to the customer service counter to get our “Employee certificate” thing before we shop.
6) Keep Zoe settled down (We LOVE those kid carts shaped as busses and whatnot. Even though they are a huge pain to push around, she loves to “drive” them and it keeps her occupied for a while.)
7) Find *everything* on the list. I try my hardest to plan our list according to the aisles but I can’t always remember which isle things are in. I hate to backtrack, especially when pushing one of those huge kid carts around.

 

8) Examine the ingredients of every little thing we buy.
9) At the checkout, remember to separate our WIC items from our regular items because they run as a separate transaction.
10) At the checkout, remember to give them the re-usable bags, coupons, WIC checks, employee certificate, etc.
Going grocery shopping has become such a huge process, which is another reason why I love to just do one main trip each month. However, since circumstances have changed around here with 7 people in the house rather than 3, I’ve decided to do a big trip every 2 weeks for the time being. Though that does mean that half of what we spend next month will not be part of our Christmas rebate…oh well. Shopping for 7 people for a month seems to be a little too much for me at the moment.

My Journey to Natural Living

17 Sep

For years I was turned off by anything labeled as natural or organic, I thought it was for the paranoid people afraid of pesticides and it also tied in with political environmental issues that I have never believed to be true.  I never thought of these (whole) foods as a source of good health and an excellent source of nutrition! In fact, I’ve never been much of a nutritionist.  My views of nutrition have been shaped by the media almost entirely.  If the commercial said it was healthy, I believed it.  If the cereal box said it had all the vitamins I needed, I believed it. I always just assumed that whatever the media had to say about nutrition must be true.

In the past couple of years the Lord has shown me that the media has been deceiving me in more ways than I can count. Food is definitely one of them.  The more I looked into nutritional facts, the more I came to realize that a large majority of the food I thought was perfectly normal had little or no nutrition value whatsoever.   No wonder why we have so many health problems and obesity issues these days!

I began to read a few blogs by other women who have found the same things to be true and have since changed their ways.  I have been inspired by these women and have now decided that it’s time to get serious about nutrition and health in our family.  Natural living is simply using the most natural resources available, that means avoiding harmful cleaning chemicals, avoiding highly processed and nutritionally deficient food, recycling, and being a good steward of the land God has provided us with.

I am very new at this so basically if you are a reader of this site,  we will be learning together one baby step at a time!  As I study I will continue to post beneficial links and resources on this page as I find them.

Menu Plan Monday… on Tuesday

15 Sep

With recent events in our household, we’ve switched to eating whatever food we have been given! Last year I did quite a bit of menu planning and it worked out wonderfully. I even had an 8 week menu plan a couple times and that was *awesome*. For now, as things are a bit hectic around here I’m going to try and stick with a weekly menu plan.
Monday – Pizza
Tuesday – Mushroom Macaroni, Salad
Wednesday – Our 3rd Anniversary! Dinner out!
Thursday – Leftovers
Friday – Hot Dogs, Salad, and Corn
Saturday – Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Soup
Sunday – Chili (Thaw chicken for next week’s meals)

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Part 1

31 Aug

Many of us have seen the commercials in the last couple of years in which the Corn Refiner’s Association attempts to make all of the people who are wary of high fructose corn syrup out to be ignorant, uneducated, and darn right stupid.  They state that we need to “get the facts”.   So that is exactly what I intend to do.  Quite frankly, the commercials bug me. I think that if a product has a hundred saftey concerns associated with it, they are in no position to mock those who have concerns.

HFCS is most widely used to as a sugar substitute.  It costs less to produce and it is easier to blend and transport because it is liquid.

Perhaps the biggest concern I have is that a small amount of Mercury could be passed into the HFCS through the process it goes through before it becomes HFCS. Another concern I have is that it is in nearly every packaged product we eat and drink!  If there are concerns regarding something I am giving my family to eat, I want to know what it is and what the concerns are.

What does the CRA say?

I took some time to read what the CRA (Corn Refiners Association) had to say about all of this and surprisingly the website does not cover a lot of the safety concerns. It does, however, cover about 10-15 of the most popular concerns. The website seems to be pretty thorough and truthful in its explainations except for a few in which they are clearly making excuses and avoiding solid answers.    Simply stating facts as these does not prove them to be true.

Audrae Erickson, President of the Corn Refiners Association has said, “Americans should know that no mercury or mercury-based technology is used in the production of high fructose corn syrup in North America.” He also says, “High fructose corn syrup contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives and meets FDA’s requirements for the use of the term ‘natural.’”

Those are some pretty big claims.  Especially since the FDA does not have requirements or regulations for the use of the term ‘natural’!    They put it through a high level of processing and they use at least one genetically modified (GMO) enzyme to produce it.   Does this sound natural to you?

And then there is the mercury…

pilot study reported that some high-fructose corn syrup manufactured in the U.S. in 2005 contained trace amounts of mercury. The mercury appeared to come from caustic soda andhydrochloric acid, two chemicals used in the manufacture of high-fructose corn syrup. It has been found that caustic soda used by HFCS has been produced in industrial chlorine chlor-alkali plants using the mercury cell Castner-Kellner process, and can contain traces of mercury….Nine of the twenty samples tested did contain measurable amounts of mercury.   – Wikipedia on HFCS

High Fructos Corn Syrup: Part 2 (Coming Soon)