Ground turkey high in bacteria?!

Turkey

Are you one of those people who stopped using ground beef and only eat ground turkey to be healthier?

A new report came out that supports concerns of feeding antibiotics to livestock and poultry. Consumers Report tested multiple samples of ground turkey and found 90% were not only contaminated with bacteria that can make you ill, but the bacteria were also resistant to antibiotics.  If you became sick, it would be difficult to kill these super bugs! When testing samples that were labeled “organic” or “raised without antibiotics”, the bacteria found was more vulnerable to our antibiotics.

Bacteria are naturally in all meats, but when certain types are detectable in high quantities it can not only make you sick, it can also kill you!  E. coli, staph, salmonella, enterococcus and campylobacter are the bad ones to watch out for.

How can you protect yourself?  First, select good quality meats, store at 40 degrees or lower, thaw in the refrigerator, never leave out for more than 2 hours, and cook until temperature reaches 165 degrees or higher.

Consider buying meat in its more natural form and grinding it yourself. Anytime your food is processed, it’s touched by more hands or machines that give it more of a chance to become contaminated.

Finally, pick “organic” or “no antibiotics” meats. Not only will it increase your chances of killing bad bacteria if you are unfortunate enough to become sick, it will also support businesses that raise these animals more naturally. If more people spend their money this way, businesses will take notice and make positive changes to keep up with the competition.

Hyper Adrenal?

Vegetables

Have you heard of something called hyper adrenalism or something similar? I’ve heard people talk about it, and I know there are supplements on the market that are supposed to fix it. It’s intriguing because it describes something I think all of us have felt at one time or another. You feel under stress, you can’t sleep, your mind and body are racing, and then you eventually crash in exhaustion. Are you sick? Do you have a syndrome?

I’ve had my share of self inflicted stress at work and when trying to achieve more than realistic at home. I’ve run full energy all work week with very little sleep, hands slightly trembling trying to put my make up in the morning, and feeling like I couldn’t get enough to eat. The weekend comes and I am exhausted, sometimes feeling sick. This is a fatigue that I’ve put onto myself. Yes, there are hormonal changes causing these physical reactions, but it’s because of the physical stress I put on my own body.

There are diseases that cause hormonal imbalances such as Cushing’s disease and Thyroid disorder, but they are from a body dysfunction. If you look up these newer adrenal terms, you will not find it in a medical reference.  You will mostly find it quoted in marketing blogs where something is being sold. Don’t fall into the trap!

So what do you do if you are running this vicious fight or flight cycle that your adrenal gland is responsible for? If you are certain you have a disease, go to the doctor and get tested. If you aren’t sure, use these tips to help the situation before you start claiming a syndrome. Even if you have a disease, a doctor will probably make these recommendations anyway.

First, you need stress management! Relaxation techniques, deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are just a few. Find an outlet by speaking frankly with friend or family, join a support group or find a good psychologist or life coach. Also, don’t overstretch yourself unless you have to. If you say yes to everything requested of your, start selecting less important requests and say NO.

Of course there is a diet recommendation. Vegetables are so high in nutrients that help regulate your hormones. You don’t need a supplement. All natural is the best way to go. Some supplements might make your situation worse, depending on what is truly going on with your hormones. Get 3-5 servings of vegetables every day. Protein is also important. Have a small amount of low-fat meat every day. Limit caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Also limit  your simple carbohydrates including breads, pasta and baked goods.

This diet may seem like a tall order, but if you just try it for a few weeks, you may be surprised at your improvement!

I’m going to start working on my plan. Let me know how yours goes!

 

 

Potential dangers of non-stick pans

Non-stick Pan

I love my non-stick pots and pans. It allows me to cook with less fat and they clean up so easy! I couldn’t live without them!

You may have heard that non-stick pots and pans can be dangerous to your health. One chemical of concern is perfluorooctanoic acid which has been used in many non-stick coatings. When this chemical is heated at high temperatures, it releases a gas that is bad for the respiratory system.

Another concern is when the non-stick coating starts to wear down or chip. The compounds in the coating could end up in your food and ingested.

If you want to keep your non-stick coated pots and pans, you can reduce your health risk by doing the following:

Pick high quality, thick coated cookware.

Only cook your food up to 450 degrees. If you are frying or need it hotter, use a different pot or pan without the coating.

Wash your cookware by hand to reduce the wear.

If you notice the coating on your pot or pan starting to chip, throw it away and buy a new one.

Don’t forget…..how you cook your food can be as important to your health as what you cook!

Simply prepare for the worst

Prepare

There is so much going on in the world lately. Last year my friends were touched by illness, loss of loved ones, jobs and homes; impacted by hurricanes, floods, tornados and fires, and touched by terrorist acts.

Things like this can add so much stress to your life. The best thing you can do is try to be prepared for anything. When things come up, it will make it easier to cope with.  I learned this when a family member had to call an ambulance for me.  I was taking medication and he didn’t know what it was or where it was. At the hospital they could not give me my medicine because they didn’t have the proper information. Although everything worked out, it was a wakeup call for me.

After that, I started to put together a preparedness plan for everything I could think of. I’m not done with mine yet, but I think it’s good to list one out and commit to finish it over the next 1 to 3 years.  This is what I’m working on if you want to do the same.

First, put together a savings account with a sum that covers 3-6 months of family expenses. Having a financial buffer will make everything else a little easier.

Create a health file for your whole family that includes doctor and prescription information. If someone has health issues, keep a copy of the most recent lab results and doctors notes. This can also be a good preparation if you go on long or distant vacation.

Get your will in order including pre-paying for your funeral arrangements. Don’t forget to find new homes for pets too.

Create a financial file that includes all of your account numbers and passwords so that if you are gone, your family can access what they need. Remember there are still legalities around accessing money if your name isn’t on the account. Creating joint ownership may be your best option.

With all of this sensitive information, you want to lock it away in a fireproof, water proof box. Underground safes are the best but not always an option, so look into what works best for you.  The mobile box may be good if you need to evacuate, or if you know how to securely store your data, you can use a memory stick or upload to the cloud. A letter of instruction to your family will help them navigate through all this paperwork if you are not around.

Who can forget the emergency kit? There are a number of lists or prebuilt packs online. The basics usually include 5 days worth of food like high calories snack bars, water, blankets, large garbage bags that can be used as ponchos, flashlights or glow sticks and a basic first aid kit. Store this in an easy reach back pack in case you need to grab and run.  I also keep one in my car.

Create evacuation plans for all kinds of emergencies. How would you escape?  It would be different depending on the circumstances so prepare for all of them. Pick a meeting place in case you are separated. Where is one within your state? Where is one outside your state? If you have family outside of the state, let everyone know where your points will be.

I think this is a good start and I hope to get it all complete in the next year. I hope this is helpful for you too.

Plant my tomatoes yet?

Transplant

Are you sure all danger of frost has past? Do you have summer vegetable transplants inside waiting for their new outdoor home? If the answer is ‘yes’ and ‘yes’, then you are finely ready to….. “harden off” your plants!

What? You mean I can’t just pop them in the ground?………

If your transplants have been inside their whole life, the shock of the cold, wind and possibly direct sun could stress or even kill them. To harden them means to let them dip their toe in the pool and slowly get used to the water. Put them outside for only a few hours the first day, in the shade and protected from the wind. The next day add a couple hours including a short period in direct sun. Over a week’s period, continue to add time and exposure until your plants are acclimated to the weather.

Pick a cloudy day to plant to reduce the stress. Dig a hole and sprinkle in your plants first organic fertilizer, mixing it deep into the soil. This will cause the roots to reach deeper for more food, and deeper roots are healthier. If your tomato transplants are long and spindly, you can plant them as deep as you want. They will grow roots where the stalk touches the ground. Put a stake next to your seedling now so you don’t disturb the roots later. Tie the plant up as it grows to hold it steady and I recommend you also put a tomato cage over it before it gets too big.

More protection may be needed to fight insects. You can use a tuna can or paper cup with the bottom removed to make a collar for the base of your plant. This will put off pill bugs, cut worms and other bugs that may want to take a bite of your tender plant. If you have snails or slugs, crush up eggshells and surround your seedling.

Make sure to water your plants in well, and surround with a mulch like compost, bark or landscape fabric. This will keep the moisture in the soil.

And there you have it! A good start to fresh organic vegetables at your table!

My top 5 health improvement tips

Vegetables

The question I get most often from people is “what is the one thing I can do to lose weight or improve my health?” I usually ask a number of questions to find the one thing they lack in their routine, or find exceptions of what might be impossible for them to do. Here are my top 5 responses that may help you.

1. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables – You may think you eat enough, but it’s almost impossible to get too many vegetables. They are the highest nutrient packed foods you can eat, have little to no fat, are low in calories and high in fiber.

2. Eat 6 small meals a day- made up of a mix of all the food groups, trying to get protein in every one. This will keep your blood sugar and metabolism up while keeping your stomach satisfied. Many people eat less overall this way.

3. Eat less fat – Watch out for too much butter, sauces, gravy, salad dressing and fatty meats. Fat is higher in calories than carbohydrates or protein and has been found to be one of the leading causes of heart conditions. Look for low or non-fat dairy products, choose olive oil over the higher cholesterol and saturated fat of butter, and pick lean meats such as poultry and fish.

4. Exercise – If you’ve never exercised or it’s been a long time, just walk. Walk every where you can and you won’t believe how quickly you start to drop weight, build muscle and increase your stamina.

5. Drink water – the most important replenishment required in the body is water. It’s the catalyst for all your organs to work correctly. That includes processing your food properly. I had a friend tell me he would not give up anything he currently ate and wasn’t going to exercise, but wanted to know what could help him lose weight. I told him to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day.  Two months later he told me he lost 20 pounds.

Just a few hints to get you started.

 

 

 

 

Bean Tostadas from scratch recipe

Bean Tostada

You may be surprised to know how healthy a bean tostada can be. Pinto beans contain a high amount of protein, are rich in manganese, phosphorus and vitamin B6, and they also have almost no fat when you cook them yourself. They are also vegan and gluten free. That’s why I think it’s important to share this easy recipe with you, so you’ll never have to eat refried beans from a can again!

1/2 cup pinto beans
1/4 chopped onion
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 garlic clove minced
salt and pepper to taste
corn tostada shells
shredded cheese
chopped fresh spinach
diced tomato
salsa

Boil beans in pot of water for 5 minutes and remove from heat. After 45 minutes, drain water and rinse beans, refilling the pot with water and simmer for 1-1/2 hours. This step removes the sugars found in beans that cause gas. If you want to skip this step you can just cook the beans for 2-3 hours. Add diced onion and cook for 15 minutes more. Drain and pour into a food processor with the seasonings. Blend until smooth adding water if needed.

Assemble your tostadas with the remaining ingredients and enjoy!

Honey Healing?

Honey

I had an area of skin that’s been chaffed, raw and swollen for months. I tried over the counter and prescription creams and ointments with no improvement. Frustrated and exhausted with the situation, it was time to turn to all natural and homeopathic remedies.  I found a jar of ointment with an ingredient list that read like a marinade recipe. Amazingly, after a few weeks, the condition subsided! I looked at the ingredient list again to get to the bottom of what item made the difference and it was HONEY!

You’ll be happy to know there is quite a bit of research that shows honey’s healing properties. It’s been used for centuries as a dressing to heal wounds.  It’s believed the thickness acts as a protectant as it suppresses microbe growth. There is a chemical reaction that releases hydrogen peroxide which acts as a slowly released antibiotic. Also, it delicately removes dead skin cells to increase the pace of new skin growth.  Honey was tested on people with cuts, abrasions and burns, all with good results.

The antibiotic properties of honey have been proven to fight salmonella and some of the worst staph infections.  It was even found in at least one case to kill antibiotic resistant bacteria!

Next time you have a minor wound, give honey a try! It may work for you!

Spring Frost?! Save my seedlings!

Frost

You’re watching the weather and they warn of a spring frost overnight! Your seedlings just came up! What can you do to save them?! Fear not my fellow organic vegetable growers. Help is on the way!

Act immediately. If they are still small, you can just take a pot and turn it upside down on top of it. Even better, if the pot is black and the sun is still shining, it will build a pocket of warm air inside before night fall. If you don’t have pots, you can use any container from your kitchen or garage. Just make sure it doesn’t contain residue of a harsh chemical. That could harm the plant.

If you need to cover a row, like lettuce or carrots, you can just throw a sheet over the whole thing. Preferably you should line the edges with sticks, boxes, pots or something similar to hold the sheet above the plants. Once again, a darker sheet will absorb heat if the sun is still out.

If you have larger plants that can’t easily be covered, wrapping the plant in a sheet is your best bet. If it’s still a tender plant, you will want to surround it with something like broom sticks, garden spikes or an old tomato cage to the hold the sheet away from it.

Make sure everything is sturdy, especially if they are predicting a storm that may include wind or snow. If you end up with snow, don’t stress. The snow will help insulate the plant until the weather warms up. Do not move anything! Plants can survive covered this way for a while. I left mine for 5 days once and had the best crop of lettuce ever!

I hope these tips help!

 

Simply Sweet Barbecue Sauce recipe

BBQ
Okay, so let’s get one thing straight. Although this is a recipe for barbecue sauce, I actually use it on my grilled meats. If you don’t know the difference between grilling and barbecuing, barbecue is a SLOW cooking method over low fire that can take hours. Grilling is cooking over a larger fire and it takes only minutes. To simplify, I use an inside kitchen grill appliance. It takes less time and less coordination.

This is my favorite sauce and it only takes 10 minutes to make.

1 cup ketchup
3 Tbls lemon juice
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbls molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp minced onion
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes.
You can put the sauce on before and after cooking your meat. I prefer chicken.

Happy grilling!