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Before getting into the cliché myths about organic foods, one must truly understand what organic produce actually is. According to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), “organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”

With the NOP definition of organic foods in mind, the myths are easier to “make and break.” Some of them are true, but certainly not all.

Organic foods are better (health-wise) than non-organic foods

It has been scientifically proven that organic foods tend to be more nutritional than produce that’s grown with pesticides and fertilizers. The reason: In the absence of pesticides and fertilizers, plants boost their production of the phytochemicals (vitamins and antioxidants) that strengthen their resistance to bugs and weeds. According to the National Academy of Sciences, conventional foods are typically safe for healthy adults, but they’ve been known to be relatively toxic to young children, fetuses, and pregnant women; it is advised for them to consume more organic produce than non-organic.

On the other hand, products can still be unhealthy when they’re organic. Buying “organic candies,” “organic cookies,” or even “organic sodas” don’t lower the health risks. Cane-sugar is still sugar, and consuming too much of it is a health-risk. People should consume with caution.

The first myth is not “wrong,” but it’s also not “right.” It all depends on a person’s perspective. Eating organic foods does seem to be healthier, in a way, but consuming too much of a product is still a problem. People need to eat responsibly.

Organic foods are always better for the environment

Without the pesticides, fertilizers, and harmful chemicals, organic produce doesn’t contaminate soil and groundwater. With the positive, there’s also a downside. Organic foods don’t have the “extra help” (meaning the chemicals) to grow, so farming them is less productive than conventional farming. The lack of high-productivity requires the organic-farmers to use more land to plant their crops. Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues estimates that modern high-yield farming has saved 15 million square miles of wildlife habitat, and that if the world switched to organic farming, we’d need to cut down 10 million square miles of forest.

The myth isn’t true. They help in the avoiding-chemicals-sense, but not when it comes to farming on smaller acreage. Plus, with less productivity than conventional farming, there wouldn’t be as much food. The hungry could become hungrier.

Organic foods taste better than non-organic foods

With personal opinions in mind, this myth is not true. The quality of the taste depends on the person; some people believe that organic foods taste better, but others don’t. Aside from opinions, organic produce has become the choice-ingredient for many gourmet chefs across the nation. They believe that it has “superior taste and quality,” so using it has become more traditional throughout the years.

People should choose their own diet-habits. What they eat can rely on many factors (i.e. their income, culture, religious-beliefs, and allergies), so it’s better if they choose what’s right for them. People who buy organic foods should be aware that products with organic ingredients tend to be pricier. Also, not all “organic” foods are completely made with organic materials. Many labels include the percentage of organic ingredients

100% Organic: Made with 100% organic ingredients

Organic: Made with at least 95% organic ingredients

Made With Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.

With that in mind, consumers should read food-labels carefully before making a purchase on the product.

Most pizza that you buy from a pizza parlor or commercial enterprise is filled with fat, often the very unhealthy saturated kind.  This fat can come from a variety of ingredients such as the bread, the sauce and especially the cheese.  The toppings can sometimes add even more fat.  It does not have to be this way, however.  Consider the following tips for making a low fat pizza.

Bread

First you will want to make the bread part healthier.  Instead of a pizza dough you could consider using a healthy pita for a base instead.  You can also use an English Muffin.  Of course, you could make the dough yourself and choose a lower fat recipe.  You could even make it whole wheat to make it healthier.  Also, a lot of times they literally brush oil and butter on it, which gives it even more fat so you should avoid doing this.

Sauce

You might not think of a sauce as full of fat, but it can have a lot of oil in it.  Some of the ones from the commercial pizza parlors are like this.  You can instead make your own sauce, and make it with less fat.  They also sell many different types of pizza sauces at the grocery store.  These range in how fatty they are so you can specifically look for one that is low fat.  In addition, you may just be able to use a low fat marinara sauce as the sauce for your pizza.

Cheese

Cheese is a big source of fat on a pizza.  Even a little bit of cheese has a lot of fat, and they often just heap it on the pizza.  You can make this lower fat in different ways.  First you can use a low fat or even a fat free cheese on your pizza.  This can make a big difference.  Also, you can just use less cheese to lower the fat content.

Toppings

Toppings like sausage and pepperoni can add to the fat of a pizza.  In order to lower this you can instead put on toppings that are low fat or do not have fat at all like tomatoes, onions, or more.  If you want meat you can look for lower fat meats like turkey or veggie substitutes instead.

Just because you love pizza does not mean you have to have one that is full of fat.  Once you get your ingredients you can cook it in the oven or even just put it through the microwave.  Consider the above steps to make a low fat pizza.

A common complaint about eating organic food is, it is expensive and hard to fit into even a middle income family’s food budget.  This is a myth if we are willing to grow our own organic food. We need to prepare ourselves with the assurance that our families and communities will have food security. There will come a day in the very near future when we will no longer be able to depend on food being shipped in to our cities and communities. The cost of fossil fuel is rising, forcing prices on food whether organic or not to source high as well. Seeds are not expensive and if we learn to make our own compost from kitchen scrapes with soil mixed in, we can have abundant gardens. 

Meat, dairy and eggs can become very expensive for our budgets because of farmer’s costs. We can get them cheaply if the animals are not treated well, paying the workers low wages and not caring for the environment. If we are trying to be responsible and ethical, we would not want our farmers to cut costs in this manner. In the end we would be paying higher costs in cleaning up our polluted water supplies and taking care of outbreaks due to food poisoning.  

Convenience is one of our society’s values. We can go to the grocery store and buy foods shipped in from another country like Mexico or South America. We can buy food 24/7; expecting the stores to be stocked with what we want or need.  

We spend 10% of our income on food and this can be done if we are frugal cooks.  Growers of food can form coops for selling food at a cheaper price. Coops can supply food at a wholesale price. The growers need to unite and get bigger to keep the price down.  As consumers we can join buying clubs to purchase our food that is grown locally.  Small scale farming is labor intensive and land intensive making it harder to meet the demand for healthy, organic food. Also, consideration has to be given to the “food mile”, which is passed on to the grower. It is more efficient to drive a large quantity of food by industrial agriculture than for the small scale grower. Our current system of growing food is very good at providing it at less expense. 

More of us are buying organic food and thus, putting a squeeze on the demand for it.  There are not enough organic farmers to go around in supplying organic food on a large scale.  The field for buying organic food has spread beyond the niche of college towns into big-box stores. U.S. organic growers have been faced with the impact of a weaker economy. 

More information on the economics of organic food can be found in the study: Emerging Issues in the U.S. under the title “Organic Industry emerging issues in the U.S.”. Those who can will pay more for a fantastic tomato.

Its that time of year, the sun is shining the sky is blue and everyone wants to be outside. No one wants to be stuck inside cooking over a hot stove. The solution, grab some lean meat, a few spices for seasoning along with some fresh vegetables and head outside.

Grilling is one of the easiest ways to cut fat without cutting flavor. Always choose the leanest cuts of meat and cut any visible fat from the meat before grilling.

You can cut the fat and calories even more by simply skipping the heavy sauces and use spices instead. When marinating it is best to use low fat or fat-free ingredients. For an easy low-fat marinade try a little olive oil mixed with lemon juice and some fresh herbs.

By adding hickory chips, you can add flavor without adding extra fat and calories. You can also buy liquid smoke, which will add a smoke flavor to your food without adding fat or calories.

Skip the butter laden baked potatoes and grill some veggies instead. Corn is a good choice for grilling or you can use an assortment of fresh vegetables and have veggie kabobs.

Fresh fruit such as fruit salad, watermelon or cantaloupe and you have the perfect warm weather treat to follow your grilled meal. However, you could also follow your meal with a nice bowl of homemade ice cream. Which, when eaten in moderation, will not hinder your low-fat goal.

Maintaining a low-fat diet doesn’t have to exclude cheese. In fact, according to one nutritional study, a select group of people who ate one ounce of cheese every day, gained less weight over a period of time, than those individuals who completely avoided this dairy product.This is good news for those people who enjoy eating cheese, but still want to maintain a low fat diet.

Here are some of the ways a person can include cheese in a low fat diet.

     • Today, there is a better variety of cheese selections, available at your local grocery store, which is important in deciding which cheese to incorporate into a low fat diet.

     • It’s also important to remember that cheese, is a nutritional food source, that when consumed in moderation, can add the necessary and essential protein, calcium, potassium, and A and B vitamins, your body needs.

     • Try the low fat varieties of cheese in your diet.There are several reduced fat cheeses to choose from, such as American, Swiss, Colby, and Mozzarella to name a few.

     • You may wish to consider fat free cheeses, that are available, today, as well. These cheeses, when added together with other ingredients, can be a welcome alternative, to the additional calories from regular cheese.

     • Try to use cheese in moderation. A regular ounce of cheese has about 9 grams of fat per ounce, with 6 grams of saturated fat content, compared to 5 grams of fat in reduced fat cheeses and 4 grams of saturated fat. Therefore with these statistics it’s best to use regular cheeses sparingly in your diet, but include the reduced and fat free cheeses more often. If however, you prefer the full fat cheeses, it’s best to not consume more than an ounce of cheese a day, to keep in a low fat diet.

      • Experiment with other cheeses you may not normally include in your diet. One cheese, that naturally is lower in fat, is Goat cheese, compared to cheese made with cow’s milk. Another quality to look at is cheese made with part-skim milk, such as mozzarella, which would lower the fat content and calories.

      • Another cheese to look at is low fat, cottage cheese. This cheese is a good source of protein and calcium on a low fat diet, yet it keeps the caloric intake lower.

      • Skim ricotta, is another alternative for a low fat diet, which is great to include as an added ingredient in several recipes. for example, a vegetarian lasagna dish, or one made with ground turkey, is delicious and still low fat to incorporate into your diet.

Finally, it’s great to know that cheese, along with other nutritious, dairy products, can be included in a healthy, low fat diet!

Pizza is probably a favorite of your family as it is for millions of people around the world. But with the costs of everything going up, you need to save money on anything and everything; including your love of pizza. You can save money on pizza with these quick and easy tips and still enjoy those delicious slices of a family favorite.

Look for deals and coupons – A lot of pizza places have specials and deals that if you buy multiple pizzas you’ll get a cheaper price on each pizza. You may find flat rate discounted pizzas, buy one get one deals, free topping deals, and more. Generally buying 3 or more pizzas can get you the most pizza for your buck from big pizza chains. As for coupons, you can find them in flyers, stores, menus, and even online.

Go independent – Time and time again when I go to order pizza, especially when I go to order just one pizza pie, I’m faced with the fact that smaller, independent local pizzerias often give you the most pizza per dollar. Their pizzas tend to be larger then the big companies’ pizzas and often for less money.

Check out local pizza places around your area and you might find that their pizza tastes better then the big chains. It can be hit or miss with any pizza place, so try a couple to find the best tasting pizza at the best price.

Split the pies – As mentioned earlier, there are often deals that make pizza cheaper per pie when you buy multiple pies. But what if you don’t want or need that much pizza? Consider having a pizza night where you can invite friends or family over for dinner. Everyone can throw in a few dollars to enjoy the pizza and everyone ends up getting a cheap meal that tastes great.

This option works especially well in college dorms where you might be able to get a whole group of students together to go in on pizza with you, saving everyone money on food.

Make your own – Making your own pizza isn’t only fun, but it can also allow you to make custom pizza just the way you want. Whether you want to make a healthy pizza or a pizza loaded with all the toppings; buying the ingredients at the store then making it yourself can save you money. It takes more time to make your own then to pick up the phone to order, but you might be surprised with how many different kinds of pizza you can make.

Get creative and try new toppings or new pizza/pasta sauces. Mix up different kinds of cheeses or experiment with herbs and spices.

Whatever kind of pizza you like and whatever your budget, you can get great fresh pizza while still saving money.

There are many products on the market today which market themselves as egg substitutes but are they actually egg substitutes? Surprisingly, not all egg substitutes actually are, as many contain eggs! If you are allergic, or if you are preparing food for a person allergic to eggs you must be informed. If you are looking to improve your health by avoiding eggs, there is more leeway in your choice of substitutes.

First there is a product called Ener-G egg replacer. You can visit them on the web at: http://www.ener-g.com/default.aspx to see their products and recipes. This product is actually 100% free of any egg or egg whites. This is an excellent product for those with an allergy. But you cannot serve up a plate of Ener-G egg replacer. Its sole purpose is to replace eggs in baking. It works well in cookies, cakes, pancakes, that sort of thing. Cakes may turn out a bit crumbly, but we’ve had great success with it at our house.

Instead of buying a pre-packaged egg replacer, you can also make your own. There are many suggestions on vegan web sites, such as http://www.vegansociety.com. They recommend instead of 1 egg, you can use…
1 tbsp gram (chick pea) or soya flour and 1 tbsp water
1 tbsp arrowroot, 1 tbsp soya flour and 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp flour, tbsp shortening, tsp baking powder and 2 tsp water
50g tofu blended with the liquid portion of the recipe
large banana, mashed

The first two suggestions are for those who could face a danger if exposed to eggs. For those who are looking to improve their health, perhaps by a reduction of cholesterol, there are egg substitutes which include some amount of egg. These egg substitutes provide a healthful alternative to a whole egg because they eliminate egg yolks. The egg yolk, although being very nutritious, isn’t the best choice for everyone. You can make your own egg substitute, and you can serve up a plate of this, with toast. It is more economical and it is just as good as the commercial products on the market. Here is a recipe from http://www.pioneerthinking.com. This recipe does contain egg whites.

1 tablespoon of nonfat dry milk powder
2 egg whites from large eggs
4 drops of yellow food color

Sprinkle powdered milk over egg whites, then beat them with fork until smooth. Add food color, and beat until blended. This makes 1/4 cup, which is equal to 1 large egg. If you use this homemade substitute for scrambled eggs, cook it in vegetable oil or margarine so the eggs won’t be too dry. NOTE: This website suggests the use of margarine, I would always recommend the natural butter over a chemical margarine. You can use oil, and add a bit of butter for taste, or just reduce the amount of butter used overall. Chemicals are never the best choice.

If you aren’t inclined to make your own, you can purchase egg replacements in the grocery store. They are generally in the egg section, in a little milk style carton. Egg Beaters is the product name of one of the most popular of these substitutes. You can see their products at their web site http://www.eggbeaters.com. From that website we learn:

“While the traditional whole egg delivers a variety of important nutrients, it also contains 5 grams of fat, 75 calories and a hefty dose of cholesterol – about 210 milligrams per large egg – all of which is found in the egg yolk. In contrast, Egg Beaters is actually more nutritious than traditional whole eggs. By eliminating the yolk, all of the fat and cholesterol(except with the Cheese & Chive variety) and more than half of the calories are cut out. In addition, the product contains greater amounts of important vitamins like A, B-12, D and E, as well as other essential nutrients such as folic acid and riboflavin.”

This information is important to note. To find the nutritional value of an egg, which you can find on http://www.e-commkitchen.com we see:

“The egg is not a complete food as it lacks sugars and vitamin C, but it is rich in other valuable nutrients 100g of whole egg (2 eggs weighing 50g net each) contains 12.4% proteins 8.7% fats, a good amount of vitamin B1,B2,PP, A and D, and a good quantity of iron phosphorous, sulphur and potassium up an energy value of 128kcal (food composition tables National Institute ed 1997).”

As with every aspect of nutrition, preparing your own products at home gives you full control of what you consume. The whole natural foods are always the best if you can tolerate them. Eggs are only one part of a balanced diet. Be sure to explore all of your options to know what is best for you and your health. For those who must avoid eggs as they are in nature, it is good to know there are many options available to you.

Taste is by far more important when it comes to choosing and eating health food. I have experienced eating both health-food that is tasteless and that which is delicious with an abundance of flavor. Just because a person wants to eat healthy food does not mean they must sacrifice the desire to eat wonderfully tasting food.

If one desires to eat healthy food, but is not sure where to find tasty meals and snacks, there is an abundance of healthy food ideas, recipes, and recommendations in cookbooks and on the internet. Finding healthy alternatives to foods we already enjoy is also something we can have fun with when searching on the internet or in magazines and cookbooks.

If you see a healthy recipe you think you would enjoy, be sure to keep the recipe and try it fairly soon before it is forgotten. This will get you into the habit of seeking and trying things that you may like. After time, you will find many recipes that are tasty and healthy and will have a collection of healthy food you enjoy.

The general key that I have found to eating tasteful, healthy food is by staying away from boxed and over-processed foods and by eating in moderation. Cook your own food as much as possible. Fast food and even restaurant food is full of additional fat and salt to make the food taste better. Limit the intake of these types of foods and try to eat fresh, home cooked food as much as possible. This is not always an option for many people. Do some homework and take advantage of nearby restaurants and even grocery stores that offer healthy alternatives. Many restaurants have an increasing healthy food section on the menu and also offer smaller portion sizes that allow people to enjoy flavorful food in a healthier way.

Another option is to take the foods that you love and create a healthier version of the food without sacrificing much of the flavor. These recipes also flood the internet and are found in many cookbooks and magazines.

Many people cannot commit to eating healthy because they do not enjoy eating flavorless, lifeless food. Even those who begin to eat meal bars, shakes and the usual salads, nuts, and berries to try the healthy route do not seem to be able to make the lifetime change. The best way to create a lifetime change to eating healthy is by enjoying what you are eating when you are eating healthy. If you don’t like the flavor, most likely you will not be happy with it for long. Flavorful food that is full of life and great taste is what will give those individuals the desire to commit to eating healthy for a lifetime.

Brown rice is a superior grain to white rice for many reasons: health, amount in which it is processed, and taste. While most American diets consist of white rice, it is unfortunate that brown rice has taken a backseat to white when it can be a beneficial and tasty part of a person’s diet.

Brown rice and white rice start out the same when processed: the outer hull is removed, revealing the inner grain of rice. When the grain is processed further, the bran and germ layers are removed, resulting in what we know of as white rice. When the bran and germ layers are left intact, we have brown rice. These layers are important to the nutritional value of the grain. Without them, we are left with a grain that is lacking in B vitamins, iron, as well as fiber. While white rice is lacking in these nutrients, the law in the United States is that these vitamins present in brown rice (specifically, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3,and Iron) must be added back into the white rice in order to be sold at our supermarkets. This is why when you buy white rice at the store it says it is “enriched”. The fiber content, however, is not added back in, which is an important part of a person’s diet.

The amount in which a food is processed is an important thing to consider in this day and age. The less processing it takes to prepare a food, the less energy is used as well. Brown rice is one of the foods that take less energy to prepare, so its milling is more environmentally friendly, as well as nutritionally superior. Many foods we consume are full of unpronounceable ingredients, which the average person does not even know what contained within. There is something refreshing about reaching for a bag of brown rice and seeing the ingredient: brown rice. Since this is a more natural state than white rice, it’s important to remember the proper storage of the grain to avoid spoiling. Many people are becoming more aware of the amount of processed foods in our diets, and as a result, we are seeing a resurgence of whole grains, and unrefined foods.

Taste is something that is overlooked when considering rice. While white rice has a bland flavor, the flavor of brown rice is distinctly different. It has a hearty, nutty flavor that is a great addition to any meal. If you are unaccustomed to brown rice’s flavor, a good way to prepare it is to use a favorite stock: chicken, beef, or vegetable. The use of stocks in rice’s preparation adds a nice richness of flavor to an otherwise mild flavor.

Brown rice is a nutritionally superior food to white rice in many ways, but the main reason why it is better the most important reason of all: taste!

Almost everyone LOVES pizza, and homemade pizza is not only delicious, but fun and easy to make. If you have children, they can help you to knead and shape the dough. You can even make small individual pizzas instead of larger ones, and everyone can enjoy “decorating” and eating their own personal pizza.

Ingredients for basic pizza dough:

2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 package dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons wheat gluten (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil 

1. Pour the warm water into a small bowl, stir in the honey and sprinkle the yeast over the surface. Set this aside until the yeast dissolves and the mixture begins to foam (about 3 to 5 minutes). Stir if needed to dissolve all of the yeast.

2. Add the salt and olive oil to the yeast mixture and stir.

3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and wheat gluten. You can leave out the wheat gluten, but it does help to make the dough more elastic like pizza parlor dough. Mix together and make a well in the center.

4. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir thoroughly from the center outwards, preferably with a wooden spoon. When the ingredients are completely combined, turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough feels smooth and elastic. You may have to add additional flour as you knead if the dough feels too sticky.

5. Put the dough in a well oiled bowl, and cover with a damp towel or with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).

6. Lightly oil two 12 inch pans and sprinkle with corn meal. Divide the dough into two pieces, then stretch each piece and press into shape to fit the pan. Cover the dough with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings.

7. Bake the pizza on the lowest rack of a pre-heated 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and the crust lightly browned.

8. Slice and enjoy!

If you do not use all the dough, you can store the unused portion in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few days. It also freezes well, so you can wrap the unused dough in plastic, place in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for a few months. Then just defrost, allow the dough to come to room temperature, and use.

Here are a few suggestions for personalizing your pizza:

1. Make several small personal pizzas instead of two larger ones by using cake pans. Or, shape the dough into something other than a circle. Try a rectangular pizza, or make freehand shapes.

2. “Spice” up the crust just like the trendy pizza parlors do. If you’re a fan of garlic, replace the table salt in the recipe with garlic salt, or add minced garlic to the yeast mixture in step 2. You can also add other spices to the yeast mixture such as oregano, basil and parsley, or even dried chopped onions. Sprinkle sesame seeds or coarse salt on the top edges of the dough just before baking.

3. Try lots different toppings on your pizza. For a real Brooklyn-style cheese pie, combine shredded mozzarella with shredded sharp provolone. Meat lovers can add pepperoni, sausage or meatballs. Fresh veggies such as mushrooms, onions, peppers or even broccoli also go great with the sauce and cheese, and add a healthier touch.

Just use your imagination. After all, it’s YOUR pizza.

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