photo courtesy of Highview Pastures

Although I don’t buy 100% organic produce (probably closer to 85-90%), I do try to buy 100% organic and grass-fed or free-range meat. Not only does it offer significant nutritional advantages over conventional meat, I believe it provides a better life for the animals.

Conventionally raised animals are typically fed a diet comprised mainly of grain and corn. Like humans, animals that eat a high carbohydrate diet are less healthy than those that eat more vegetables. The animals are also usually crowded into factory-like farms, whereas grass-fed and free-range animals are allowed to move around more freely and maintain their natural behaviors.

Grass-fed meat is healthier. It contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed meat while its overall fat content is lower. Grass-fed meat also contains higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been linked to easier weight loss and reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

Additionally, overuse of antibiotics in livestock can result in antibiotic-resistant strains of infections. (Actually the issue isn’t even confined to livestock.  A study published in the Journal of Environmental Quality found that when vegetables were grown in fertilizer derived from the manure of antibiotic-fed livestock, the vegetables absorbed antibiotics.) And, although it has not been clinically proven, many believe hormones in meat and dairy contribute to early onset of puberty in girls (early puberty has been associated with increased risk of breast cancer later in life).

To protect us as much as I can, I buy all of my beef  from Cedar Summit farm in New Prague, Minn., my Thanksgiving turkeys from Highview Pastures farm in Farmington, Minn.(by buying directly from the farm I end up paying pretty close to what conventional meat sells for at the grocery store), and my chicken from either The Wedge co-op or Kowalski’s.

Recently, however, I was at Super Target getting some other things (Super Target has great prices on Amy’s Organic Kitchen line) and noticed the Gold’n Plump Natural chickens. Hormone and antibiotic-free (but not free-range), I decided to give it try. It was priced well and I figured it would save me a trip to the co-op. And, it was hormone and antibiotic-free–which seemed to me the most important things to avoid.

(Side note: I make a whole roasted chicken almost every week. Not only do we love it, I use the rest of the meat for pasta, quinoa, pizza and other dishes through the week. I freeze the carcasses to make chicken stock (which I use to cook brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, etc) and soups. I’ll be teaching/presenting this concept of  “A Week in the Life of a Chicken” on Sunday May 1 with my friend and colleague Jen Antila of Catalyst Cooks.)

I didn’t really give the source of the Gold’n Plump chicken much thought as I prepared it for roasting (easiest recipe EVER–see below) nor as I brought it to the table. As soon as I began to carve it though, the difference was obvious. The chicken was far fattier than the free-range ones I usually buy. Once we started eating, the difference was even more clear. It had far less flavor than our usual chickens.

So, while I saved myself about a $1.50 on the Gold’n Plump chicken, I got less actual meat, less flavor and less nutrition. I won’t be doing that again!

Easy Easy Roasted Chicken

  • whole chicken
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • carrots
  • onions
  • potatoes

Drizzle bottom of roasting pan with olive oil and then place the chicken into the pan (I truss my chicken, but it’s not necessary.). Chop veggies into approximately 1-1/2-inch pieces and place around the chicken. Drizzle veggies and chicken with olive oil and generously salt and pepper. Place in preheated 380-degree oven for approximately 1-hour (depending on size of chicken–internal temperature should be 180F). About 15 minutes into baking time, I add 1 cup of water to the roasting pan which keeps everything moist.

Enjoy and be well!

Something amazing happened yesterday.

Well, actually it didn’t happen yesterday. It’s happened over many years, but I recognized it yesterday. While chatting with someone about the Wellness Cleanse I’m doing, he asked me whether I had lost any weight. At that moment it occurred to me that my weight wasn’t even a consideration in my decision to take on the Cleanse.

And that, my friends, is pretty darned amazing. While my weight stopped ruling my life several years ago, I find it amazing that it truly wasn’t even a factor in my decision to participate in CorePower Yoga‘s Seasonal Wellness Cleanse.

It’s amazing when you consider that for most of my life (I first believed I was fat in 2nd grade), almost all of my choices and behaviors were somehow related to my weight–either directly in an attempt to control or reduce my weight, or indirectly as I tried to manage my obsession with my body and my weight, and my disordered eating. What I ate, what I wore, which activities I participated when, whether I went to social engagements, who I spent time with, you get the picture. So this moment was truly amazing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be happy to drop some pounds while on the cleanse. I currently weight just about 20 pounds more than I did just before I became pregnant with Grace almost 11 years ago, and I’d love to get back to that weight. But I’m not willing to compromise my health and wellness–physical, emotional, mental, interpersonal or spiritual–to get there. I have honestly learned to feel comfortable in my body and have developed incredible respect for it. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s beautiful. Wow, I just said that!

On a side note, I have weighed myself most days of the cleanse. Not because I am concerned with losing, but because during days 2-4 I felt really bloated and was curious as to whether I had gained weight. I wasn’t freaked about it, just curious. I had not gained. And today I’m at the bottom of my normal 5-pound range. I suspect I will lose weight on the cleanse, since I’m just heading into our 3-day broth phase, but I’m not concerned about it one way or the other. I know my body is getting healthier and that is truly my goal.

Speaking of the Broth Phase, I just finished chopping tons of veggies and putting them in the crock pot for the Alkaline Broth. I made the Bieler Broth yesterday. I’m looking forward to giving my digestive system a rest without depriving my body of the nutrients it needs.

In other good news, all of my aches and fatigue have subsided and I’m back to feeling energetic…and happy. For a couple of days there, as my body worked to release and then eliminate toxins, I felt pretty sad. And, perhaps most importantly, I found a morning beverage I like (not as much as coffee, but at least I’m not cursing every sip). Hot water with lemon, honey and a splash of 100% pure cranberry juice. It’s actually pretty good.

But I still miss my coffee. Be well!

P.S. Thanks to my friend Rita at Yum Yoga! for the photo of Bieler Broth.

You know that clean, fresh smell after you’ve just cleaned the bathroom with Pine Sol or some other chemical cleaning product? Sorry to ruin the moment, but it’s not actually the smell of clean. And, it’s certainly not fresh. Nope, it’s the smell of chemicals. Chemicals that we’ve come to associate with clean despite the harm they can do to our families.

When I was in third grade, my Mom was diagnosed with cancer (thankfully it was caught early and she is now over 30 years cancer-free). At the time, there seemed to be a higher than normal incidence of cancer in young people (she was only 25 at the time) in our community and many blamed it on water contamination from a creosote plant. I’m pretty sure that’s my earliest awareness of the link between environmental factors and illness. (And, probably what sparked my interest in what each of us can do to maintain and improve our own health.)

Since then, study upon study has supported that link. A recent Telegraph article reported that research “findings suggest that it is modern lifestyles and pollution levels caused by industry that are the main cause of the disease [cancer] and that it is not a naturally occurring condition.” Earlier this year, the President’s Panel on Cancer released a report which urged President Obama “to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”

What can you do to reduce your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals? Household cleaning products are an easy place to start.

There are plenty of cleaning products in stores that claim to be eco-friendly, green and safe. The problem is that there is no regulation regarding the use of those terms–thus you and the manufacturer’s may not share a definition of “safe.” Additonally, manufacturers aren’t required to list all ingredients, so many choose only to list the ingredients consumers will find least offensive.

These were major factors in my quest to make my own cleaning products, but my biggest inspiration was the cost of the “green” products. I wasn’t willing to trade Grace’s college education for safe cleaning products.

So, I started thinking. Most of the chemicals used in household cleaning products were invented during and after World War II. Clearly people cleaned their homes before then. What did they use?

I asked my grandparents and parents, and I researched online and at the library. What I found was that with a few simple–and inexpensive–ingredients you can get your house spic and span–without risking your family’s health or spending your kids’ college fund.

Seriously, these things work at least as well as the products I was buying and, in some cases, better.

I’ll be sharing the best recipes I’ve found and tweaked (some took a fair amount of tweaking to get right) in classes over the next couple of months. The first class is scheduled for Wednesday, November 10 at Moe Bodyworks (watch my Classes & Events Page for details about future classes).

In the meantime, this recipe for furniture polish will get you started:

1/2 tsp vegetable oil

1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice

Mix ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into solution and wipe wood surfaces.

Seriously, how easy is that? Be well!

 

DIY Safe & Effective Cleaning Products

Wednesday, November 10 6:00-7:30pm Moe Bodyworks $20

Traditional household cleaning products have been linked to allergies, asthma, birth defects, cancer and psychological abnormalities, not to mention the damage they can do to the environment. Eco or Green products tend to be very expensive and, because there is no regulation of those terms, not necessarily safer for your family. Find out how you can make your own safe and effective cleaning products with inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients.

Visit http://www.moebodyworks.com for directions and registration. (Click on classes. You’ll find this one under the workshops tab.)