Spinach Salad with Salmon Recipe

Spinach Salad w SalmonAfter eating a ton on Thanksgiving Day I find myself looking for something lighter for my next meal. This salad is one of my favorites and loaded with minerals and Omega 3s!

Fresh Spinach
1 Chopped Carrot
1/4 cup Chopped Celery
1/8 cup Chopped Red Onion
1 small Tomato Chopped
3 oz Cooked, Flaked Salmon

1/3 cup Olive Oil
2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbs Soy Sauce

The fish will wake up your brain and increase your energy, the veggies with help you efficiently burn up the calories you took in, and since it’s low fat, it will kick start your weight loss that you promised yourself while you were suffering from a food coma.




Charred Food Carcinogens


As I was reading someone’s blog about the concerns on charred food today, I found some misinformation I want to clarify for my readers. In the blog, the person responded to concerns of charred food causing cancer by saying it’s not as bad as someone who smokes. Unfortunately, it can be!

You may already know that charring your red meat can create heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that increase risk of cancer. Did you know when vegetables are charred they can create benzopyrene, a carcinogen that is also found in cigarette smoke?  It doesn’t just stop with meat and vegetables, carbohydrates like bread can create acrylamide when charred. This too is considered a carcinogen.

While an occasional burning the edges of your food won’t be a death sentence, you may want to reconsider your food choices if you are a charbroiling fanatic.

The National Cancer Institute makes the following recommendations:

Avoiding direct exposure of meat to an open flame or a hot metal surface and avoiding prolonged cooking times (especially at high temperatures) can help reduce HCA and PAH formation (20).

Using a microwave oven to cook meat prior to exposure to high temperatures can also substantially reduce HCA formation by reducing the time that meat must be in contact with high heat to finish cooking (20).

Continuously turning meat over on a high heat source can substantially reduce HCA formation compared with just leaving the meat on the heat source without flipping it often (20).

Removing charred portions of meat and refraining from using gravy made from meat drippings can also reduce HCA and PAH exposure (20).


GMO Salmon FDA Approved

Thank you to Gwen for sharing photo https://www.flickr.com/photos/theaudiochick/
Thank you to Gwen for sharing photo

I’ve tried to stay out of the GMO debate because there is so much fear and politics it’s difficult to talk about. Yesterday the FDA approved the first GMO animal for human consumption, a farm raised salmon that can grow twice as fast as the original. This hits home for me because I’m a big fan of salmon and the health benefits it provides.

Many people are confused with the term GMO or genetically modified organism. These are organisms in which the DNA is altered. How is it altered? A wide range of actions are possible from cross pollinating a plant to injecting materials into an animal that is not found there naturally. This is done to gain certain traits which are considered improvements, like a fish that grows twice as fast.  While most people are comfortable with plant hybridization, many are fearful of animals and plants with genes from a different organism.

The good that could come out of this GMO salmon is there will be more available faster.  The fish will eat less food over its short life to market so theoretically the price of salmon should go down. Salmon in the wild are quickly being depleted so this increase in farmed salmon at a better price may help the wild salmon population. Also, farm raised salmon may become a more viable option to lower income families. The arguments for GMOs are they increase the availability of food in a hungry world. There are even focuses on altering DNA to reduce the carbon footprint of organism, such as using less food in the case of the salmon.

But the fears around GMOs abound. Some are warranted and some are not. My personal concern is we are in the age of GMOs but rules and regulations have not been updated.

Currently, there is no rule that says GMO food must be labeled. You cannot tell if a product is GMO. The argument against mandatory labeling is companies can label if their product is GMO free if someone is concerned. The problem is many companies can’t guarantee that all the ingredients in their food is GMO free. It’s difficult to back track in some food chains. Definitions need to be created through compromise to pass a labeling law that works for everyone.

Something I learned on this latest bit of GMO news is that in order to approve the salmon for human consumption, the FDA had to consider the genes added to the salmon as ‘veterinary drugs’.  GMOs do not have their own category yet in the FDA rules. The testing was done as though the genes were drugs injected into the fish.  It seems to me the testing rules for GMOs should have been created prior to the approval of the salmon.

The final concern most people have is containment. If a GMO plant or animal escapes from its carefully isolated breeding area, it will interact with the environment and could have a negative impact. An example of this is when one company created an herbicide resistant plant that ended up naturally cross-pollinating with a neighboring organic farmers crops. That farmer’s crops ended up becoming genetically modified as well. If the salmon got lose in the wild there is concern they would kill off the wild salmon by eating their food and outgrowing them. The GMO salmon have been modified to be all sterile females and are raised in large tanks on dry land. This is to keep the fish from escaping and breeding.  One of the quotes that comes to mind is “nature will find a way”. Historically, we have mistakenly assumed we can stop natural evolution for survival. We never know what is possible until it happens.

It will be a couple years before GMO salmon shows up grocery stores because they take 2 years to grow to size. Also, the current farming operation isn’t very big so it will be a small amount until more farms start up. If you are concerned about GMOs the best way to avoid them is to purchase foods labeled Non-GMO or GMO Free. In the meantime it will be interesting to see the long term effects, both good and bad.

Open-Faced Avocado Sandwich Recipe

Avocado Sandwich

I saw a mayonnaise commercial today where they made the most incredible looking avocado sandwich and I wondered…..can I make that healthier? While avocados are rich in nutrients they are quite fatty. Since the fat is not saturated I think this is worth having as a treat.

1 piece of Toast
½ sliced Avocado
2-3 tablespoons Non-Fat Greek Yogurt (instead of mayo)
1 tablespoon crumbled Bacon
A few shavings of Red Onion

Toast one piece of bread and line up avocado slices across it. Spread yogurt across the top and sprinkle with bacon and onion.

So simple yet so delicious!

Taco Seasoning Recipe, Simple and Natural


Mexican food is one of my favorites but I always forget to get the taco or fajita seasoning packets at the store. It eventually dawned on me that I should learn to make my own seasoning so it’s easily available and better yet….so it doesn’t have artificial or chemical additives! A little cost savings too, I’m sure. This seasoning is flexible and can be used for any kind of Mexican food and in any kind of meat, beans or vegetables.

1 TBLS Chili Powder
½ tsp Paprika
½ tsp Cumin
¼ tsp Onion Powder
¼ tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Pepper (1/8 tsp Cayenne if you like HOT)

I like mine a little sweet so add a dash of sugar.

This picture is of breakfast burritos made from left over season lean ground beef, scrambled eggs, and potatoes topped with green chili.  YUM!

Dental Issues Affect More than Teeth


At the dentist today I saw a poster on the wall that reminded me how important it is to not only brush your teeth but also to clean your entire mouth.

The mouth is a warm moist place. What tends to thrive in a warm moist place? BACTERIA! Your mouth is one of the dirtiest places on the body with the multitude of bacteria that grows there. Unfortunately, that also means it’s common for the bacteria to get out of control and cause inflammation and infection.  You can tell when bacteria are reaching high levels when you start getting bad breath. Brushing teeth may not be enough to fix this situation. Brushing the walls of the mouth and especially the top and bottom of the tongue is important. Flossing your teeth and/or using a water pick is essential to get in between teeth and into the gum line. The gums have pockets that can hold bacteria and can easily be missed by a toothbrush. Gum disease is very common. You know you have an issue if there is inflammation or if they bleed when brushing or flossing.

If gum disease isn’t taken care of it could lead to blot clots which can cause heart disease or stroke. People with Diabetes may have difficulty maintaining their blood sugar and pregnant women may have premature or low weight births due to the inflammation. This inflammation can also affect the lungs and may cause pneumonia or other chronic issues. Studies are also being done to show the possible link to Alzheimer’s, auto-immune, kidney and liver diseases.  Also keep in mind that the elderly are known to  lose teeth easier and have to change their diets to soft or sometimes even pureed food!

Don’t let a lack of cavities dilute you into thinking you don’t have a problem with your oral hygiene. Make sure you brush after meals, go to the dentist every 6 months for a thorough cleaning and don’t just stop at brushing your teeth. Brush EVERY surface in your mouth and then use floss and/or a water pick to get those hard to reach places where the bacteria can hide.

Think about it. A couple extra minutes a day will not only avert these health issues, it also results in less scraping time in the dental chair and saving money on dental bills over your lifetime.  Besides, I don’t know about you, but I want to keep my teeth healthy so I can happily eat anything I want in my old age!




The Meat/Cancer Debate


Does meat cause cancer? The media, over the last two weeks, has been creating a flurry of stories on this topic. They’ve been referencing research and governmental organizations from not only the U.S., but also other countries. Let’s stop, breath, and take a closer look at meat and your health.

People have eaten meat since the dawn of time. Meat contains essential nutrients that are difficult to get in the proper amount from plant sources. Only a very dedicated vegetarian or vegan can have optimal nutrition without eating meat. If you talk to a 100 years old person you’ll find many people ate a lot of meat and had bacon as a staple breakfast food.  So what’s changed after this many years to cause some governments to put meats on lists of carcinogens due to the latest research?

In the last 100 years many things have changed, especially in the world of food:

  • Fewer families raise their own livestock for meat
  • Technology to pack meat into cans was created
  • Technology increased to preserve meat to keep it from going bad
  • Some meats are processed by breaking it down and mixing in fillers
  • Food travels longer distances before you have it on your plate
  • People today do not work on farms where the food is fresh
  • Antibiotics were discovered
  • Vaccines became main stream
  • Growth hormones were created
  • Increase in foodborne illnesses
  • Some pastures that feed livestock may have chemical residues from fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides

These changes result in meats containing items that are not there by nature and were not there for previous generations. Research continues to validate the safety of meat but there are still some concerns.  Perhaps more targeted studies are in order.  In an ideal world, I’d like to see a study showing cancer level differences between organic, free range meat and from a standard commercial operation. That would be telling.

In the meantime, if you have concerns about your meat and how it may affect your health, look for a local source and ask how they process their meat. Purchase fresh, low fat meat choices and cook until it’s just cooked, not charred, and at the proper temperature. A good portion size is 3-6 ounces. In the end, the less the meat is processed, the more assured you should be that it can be a healthy part of your everyday life.