13 Food-Based Arts and Crafts Ideas for Kids and Foodies!

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Food related arts and crafts ideas.

Playing with you food can be fun. Kids know this and grownups need to remember it. Plus, food as art is both a practical and fun medium, so we have pulled together some food arts and crafts ideas that are simple and practical.

Whether making macaroni necklaces with preschoolers or using vegetable dyes to create handmade batik fabrics, food as a medium is super versatile, safer to work with than some conventional chemical mediums, and, it’s also just downright fun. That’s not to mention that the desire to make art with our food is something human beings are born with (or at least learn pretty early on). Don’t believe me? Just watch any toddler sitting in a highchair creating beautiful messes with their spaghetti sauce or pudding.

Using food as a medium can also be a more sustainable choice. For example, instead of purchasing stamps and ink pads from the craft store, make your own. Carve your own stamps using potatoes that are a little past their prime for eating, but still just right for crafting. Beets and blueberries make great “ink” as well.

The key to is not be afraid to get creative and to play with your food. Most of these are safe for kids and adults alike, although some may require supervision for little kids.

13 Food Related Arts and Crafts Ideas and Projects for Kids of All Ages

  1. Salt Watercolor Technique – Salt is used to create a bas-relief effect.
  2. Natural Vegetable and Fruit Dyeing – Natural dyes can be fun and more safe than synthetic dyes.
  3. Citrus Stamped Tea Towels – A project for using citrus slices as a stamp.
  4. Painted Bowtie Pasta Butterfly Craft – A perfect craft for young children.
  5. DIY Food Stamps – Creative arts and crafts ideas for using all kind of food to create hand stamps.
  6. Peppermint Candy Cake Platter – Use peppermint hard candies to make an edible cake platter.
  7. Heart-Shaped Popcorn Bird feeder – Popped corn is both pretty and practical.
  8. DIY Rice Heating Pad – Use rice to make a DIY heating pad to soothe aches and pains.
  9. KoolAid Snow Paint – Don’t drink the KoolAid, instead use it to snow paint with.
  10. Oatmeal and Lavender Soak – Craft up a batch for homemade gifts.
  11. Eggshell Succulent Garden – Make a pretty indoor garden.
  12. Orange Peel CandlesRepurpose orange peels and make your home smell nice.
  13. Homemade Potpourri – Here’s another food related scent craft project.

Related on Organic Authority

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3 Fun Ways to Use Green Juice Beyond the Ordinary

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green cocktail

So, you’ve made a green juice. Just like yesterday, and the day before, and the day before. Sure, it’s your go-to morning treat, but wouldn’t you like to enjoy it in a different way than just as such – a drink?

Or, are you are coming from a completely different perspective and can’t stand the taste (or even the sight) of green juice even though you want to benefit from its many health properties?  Whatever your relationship is with green juice, the following list is about to make it far more exciting. Here are 3 fun ways to turn your green juice into something else that is delicious and just as nutritionally rewarding.

1. Ice Cream

You know about the 1-ingredient soft serve, right? Now it just got a lot more interesting! Add about 1/2 cup of green juice to a food processor along with 2 bananas that have been peeled, chopped and frozen. Blend until smooth. Add more green juice or frozen bananas until you reach the consistency you desire.

2. Cocktails

You can booze and detox simultaneously with a green cocktail. Mixologists in New York and beyond are catching onto the detox fad as of late and incorporating alcohol into the regular green juice mix. It’s a perfect way to entertain a crowd in a unique and fun way or, in a completely different vein, to get your drink on without the guilt. Skip the bar and try this DIY green cocktail recipe to get started:

Green Cocktail

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce green juice
  • 2 ounces apple juice
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1.5 ounces cucumber vodka

Directions: Combine all of the ingredients, shake, strain over ice and garnish with cucumber.

3. Ice cubes

You can go three ways with this one. You can straight up make ice cubes out of your green juice that you can then add to a glass of water for just a hint of green juice with each sip, or you can use the ice cubes in smoothies or soups to add a kick of nutrition. Lastly, you can make popsicles out of your green juice and lick away at the alkalinity under the warm spring and summer sun.

Related on Organic Authority

5 Important Tips to Drinking a Green Juice Daily

How to Not Hate Green Juices

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Green Cocktail with Rum and Mint image via Shutterstock

 

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You Have to Meet the 14-Year-Old ‘Anti-Bieber’ Mobilizing Teens to Change (and Maybe Even Save) the World [Video]

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You Have to Meet the 14-Year-Old 'Anti-Bieber' Mobilizing Teens to Change (and Maybe Even Save) the World [Video]Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is not your average 14 year old. Dubbed the ‘Anti-Bieber’, the leader of the group Earth Guardians is motivating and mobilizing teens in 25 countries to demand greener policy from our world’s leaders.

Kid Warrior: The Xiuhtezcatl Martinez Story from BLKFLM on Vimeo.

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Bill to Block State GMO Labeling Laws Set to Move In House

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Bill to Block State GMO Labeling Laws Set to Move In House

Traditionally, members of Congress have been hesitant to block state GMO labeling laws. But now that Vermont’s labeling law is set for implementation, there’s been a new push for legislation at the federal level. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is supporting a bill that would prevent state GMO labeling laws—a bill that’s set to move in House, according to Agri-Pulse.

During an appearance before the Grocery Manufacturers Assocation this week, Vilsack told the group his department “stands ready to provide appropriate technical assistance should it be needed by Congress in crafting any legislation designed to respect the consumer’s right to know, to convey accurate information about a product’s safety, and to provide the market a clear and consistent understanding of what is required.”

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, proposed the legislation that would usurp state GMO labeling laws. The law is meant to oppose the mandatory labeling laws that have been passed in Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut, as well as the more than 70 bills that have been proposed in over 30 states. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act provides for voluntary certification and would allow companies to advertise if they’re GMO-free, while at the same time overriding mandatory state labeling laws.

The bill is first set for a hearing, then it will go to subcommittee and full committee markup in the House this summer. Thus far, the bill has 30 cosponsors, nine of which are Democrats.

“We’re delighted with Chairman Upton’s commitment and the unprecedented momentum behind this legislation, which reflects the urgent need to enact a uniform national labeling solution and the perils of a state-by-state patchwork of labeling regulations,” said Claire Parker, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, a group backed by food and agriculture interests, reports Agri-Pulse.

GMO labeling advocates have fought against the bill because of concerns it will prevent transparency within the food industry.

“[I]t would allow corporations that make and use GMOs to continue to keep quiet about them, and it would keep the rest of us in the dark (in fact, some of our allies are calling this the DARK, or the Denying Americans the Right to Know, Act),” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement. “States that have already passed GMO labeling laws could be prevented from implementing their laws to require labels.”

As of right now, no bill has been introduced in the Senate.

Related on Organic Authority

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Image of grocery shopping via Shuttershock

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3 Sustainable Wineries That Will Get You Tipsy While Preserving the Land

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Sustainable wineries are great for many reasons.

Wine is great. But sustainable wine? Sustainable wine is tops! Sustainable and organically grown grapes provide a taste that’s out of this world and result in a beverage that’s refreshing, good for the environment and the land, and relatively beneficial for your bod. (In moderation, of course, but whatever…)

Now, if you love wine as much as I do, you most likely want to learn about a few sustainable wineries. So, we’ve rounded up three wineries that respect the land and the grapes they grow.

1. Spottswoode Winery in St Helena, Calif.

Spottswoode is one of Napa Valley’s most environmentally conscious wineries. It has been in operation for years. Since 1985, Spottswoode Estate Vineyard in Napa Valley has grown organic grapes. By 1992, Mary Novak, Spottswoode’s owner, and Tony Soter, the winery’s founding winemaker, transformed their winery into the second estate vineyard in Napa Valley to earn CCOF organic certification.

In addition to growing organic grapes, the vineyard also contributes one percent of its gross revenue every year to organizations that share its environmental values. The vineyard also features:

  • Solar arrays: one at the winery, vineyard, and on the estate’s historic home.
  • The vineyard also “plans to invest further in this renewable energy source in 2015 and 2016, with the ultimate goal of offsetting 100 percent of Spottswoode’s agricultural and business-related energy needs.”
  • The vineyard now cultivates Biodynamically, too.

2. 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards in Eagle, Idaho

Three Horse Ranch’s motto is that “great wine starts with great soil” and we completely agree. The winery uses natural growing methods to cultivate healthy grapes while keeping the surrounding environment pristine. The winery takes care of weeds and pests by using natural methods, such as maintaining a population of beneficial insects, hand pruning and picking fruit, and hand hoeing weeds.

3. Frey Vineyards in Redwood Valley, Calif.

Frey Vineyards is the leader when it comes to sustainable, organic wine. The family-owned and operated vineyard has been dedicated to sustainable wine creation for over 30 years. The wine is organic, contains no added sulfites, and is Biodynamic (it features Biodynamic grape growing and a farm). The winery uses sustainable growing methods to benefit the environment, too. Other sustainable aspects of the winery include hosting organic gardens, a dedication to wildlife, bio-diversity and forest protection, and the winery keeps honeybees. The vineyard also is dedicated to watching its carbon footprint (it’s partially solar powered).

Consult the following sites if you’re looking for sustainable wineries to visit in your area:

Organic Wine Journal

Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

Also: If you are at all flummoxed by all the dialogue out there concerning wine (like what’s Biodynamic vs. organic vs. sustainable, check out this helpful piece by Cooking Stoned.

Related on Organic Authority

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Vineyard image from Shutterstock

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Paleo for Breakfast: A Deliciously Easy Paleo Crepes Recipe

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crepes

This paleo crepes recipe is grain free and a deliciously healthy way to keep the carb count low and the sophisticated breakfast satisfaction high.

Crepes are made with very few ingredients and are of such a unique and delicate consistency and appearance, it’s hard to imagine how any an alternative recipe (a healthier one, no less) could come close to striking the perfect balance. Fortunately, it can be done!

Traditionally, crepes are made with flour, eggs, milk and butter. They are thin, soft and often filled with both sweet and savory additions, such as bananas and Nutella or ham and cheese. If you are trying to avoid flour or any gluten and grain for that matter, this paleo crepes recipe is for you. It contains the usual suspects – eggs – but prefers vegan milk over regular milk, arrowroot powder over white flour, stevia over sugar and coconut oil over butter. It’s a low-glycemic, high-protein breakfast dish that will have you diving in for seconds, thirds and even fourths.

Enjoy with you choice of fillings. I personally like mine simple with just a smidgen of coconut butter, but you can add in fruits, a coconut milk cream or other goodies.

Easy Paleo Crepes Recipe

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup arrowroot powder
  • 1.5 cups vegan milk (almond or coconut)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil + more for cooking
  • 3 drops liquid stevia (optional)

Directions

Blend all ingredients until well combined and there are no lumps or chunks throughout the batter. Add a bit of coconut oil to a flat non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour in about ¼ cup of the batter and use the back of a spoon to spread the mixture into a circle. Once the batter begins to set (takes up to 1 minute), flip and cook for just 3-5 seconds on the other side. Enjoy!

Related on Organic Authority:

Homemade Crêpes à la Française

Meatless Monday Roundup: 4 Pancake Recipes

5 Things to Try at Gluten-Free Restaurants in Paris

Pancakes image via Shutterstock

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Vegetarian Greek Food Exists? Oh, Yes: A Food-Lover’s Look Inside ‘Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts’

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Beyond Greek Food: A Look Inside "Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts"

As a half-Greek person, I can identify with confidence two things that we take more seriously than life itself: Our food, and…well, actually, maybe there’s only one thing. After all, my relatives have been known to yell at strangers for pronouncing “gyro” as “juy-roh”. There are no two ways about it: Don’t mess with Greek food.

Traditionally – and stereotypically, for anyone who’s seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” – with Greek food comes meat. A book title like “Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts,” then, almost seems like a work of fiction. What? Are you sure you’re thinking of the right part of the world? Well, yes. Just ask the book’s author, Aglaia Kremezi, who has called Greece home her entire life. Today, she lives in Cyclades, a group of islands that provides the perfect climate for growing produce; unlike the eastern U.S., for example, “our winters are green,” she says. After growing up shopping almost exclusively at farmers markets, among year-round, bountiful produce, who wouldn’t want to write a book about vegetarian feasts?

Kremezi takes her cue from the entire Mediterranean region; the recipes in her book are not limited to Greek food, but rather, are a bit of a synthesis “from my travels throughout the world.” However, like most Greeks, she remains culinarily faithful to what her mother and grandmother taught her.  She’s full of amusing tales; not only about her grandmother’s “dictum [for] a pot of yogurt every evening,” but about life, in general. She emphasizes the importance of creativity in cooking, especially when doing so seasonally. Go to the farmers market first, she suggests, and then plan your meals around the fresh produce found there. By George, Aglaia. Is that a suggestion that vegetarian cooking can be (gasp!) fun?

Absolutely. Life without good food, she seems to uphold, is no fun at all. I ask her about the so-called standards set by society today: What we’re supposed to eat, what we’re supposed to look like. She shakes her head and laughs, noting, “There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of cheese every day.” I’m inclined to agree; since entering my 30s, I decided that if loving cheese and bread also means loving cellulite, then bring it on.  It’s as if Kremezi’s book is simply nodding toward the fundamentally practical lifestyle from which we have strayed, but are slowly re-adapting: Eat seasonally and locally, and enjoy your food. I like this woman. Sure, we have to eat to live. But Greeks? Obviously, we live to eat.

What I particularly like about “Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts” is its well-rounded approach to food. Bread and cheese aren’t banned; in fact, Kremezi dedicates an entire section to the cheeses of the Mediterranean that are essential accompaniments to dishes. It’s more than a cookbook: It’s a guidebook, providing tips for properly storing and extending the life of seasonal produce, along with menu suggestions for every season, and every occasion. I can see the sequel now. “Eat Your Damn Cheese: The Aglaia Kremezi Guide to Life.”

Greek-habit-humor aside, Kremezi has managed to make food her life’s work. With a background in journalism, penning cookbooks comes naturally. She’s turned it into a business, too, with her husband, Costas Moraitis, also an author; together, they operate Kea Artisanal, offering culinary vacations on the island of Kea, replete with coastal hikes, cooking classes and tastings. Of course, it c0mes with guidelines; the Kea Artisanal outlines a disclaimer for those who may not enjoy such a destination:

  • People who don’t like garlic, vegetables, and olive oil.
  • People who hate nature, wild plants, and walking.
  • People who don’t like dogs.

Are these my people, or what?

During a recent visit, my mother – the one from whom I get the Greek half – began leafing through “Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts” while she was bored. It didn’t take long to lift her fatigue; 15 seconds into picking up the book, her silence turned into cries of, “Oh, my God, this looks good!” and, “Yeah, this is the real deal.”

Later on, I asked my mother which recipes she liked the most. She couldn’t remember her exact favorites, but remarked, “The key is, she’s probably a YaYa who cooks what she grows.” We all should be so lucky to have such a person in our lives, and by keeping Kremezi’s book in my kitchen at all times, I feel as though I am paying tribute to my lineage. No meat can replace that sense of family: The kind that only comes from cooking with heritage, the way Kremezi describes in her book.

Eat to live, and and eat to love.

Related on Organic Authority

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Image: Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts Official Facebook Page

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There’s a Simple Secret to Achieving Long-Term Goals, and It’s All In Your Head

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The Secret to Achieving Long-Term Goals Is All In Your Head

You know that thing where your long-term goals feel so far away all you want to do is spend the next six months in the fetal position? (Of course, I could just be projecting.) Setting, keeping and achieving long-term goals is a tricky business—and it turns out there may be an uber-simple shift in thinking that will help you get to the finish line faster.

Researchers from the University of Southern California and the University of Michigan completed a series of seven studies to investigate the relationship between measurements of time and how they impact reaching a goal.

In the first two studies, researchers recruited 162 participants and asked them to read six scenarios—three with time metrics and three without. For the time-metric scenarios, participants imagined they were completing tasks in preparation for an event (such as a birthday party, wedding, or presentation) and were asked to report how long it would be until the event would take place.

When participants considered the length of time in the smaller of two possible units, the event seemed closer: Events seemed an average of 29.7 days sooner when considered in days versus months, and an average of 8.7 months sooner when considered in months versus years. When the events felt closer, people were more inclined to start planning or saving sooner, even when future events were described as being tens of thousands of days away.

“This is a new way to think about reaching goals that does not require willpower and is not about having character or caring,” psychological scientist and lead researcher Daphna Oyserman of the University of Southern California said in a statement.

Next, researchers wanted to know if this thought process would also impact participants’ plans to take action, so they primed each participant with one of two time metrics for three randomly assigned scenarios. They were asked things like when they would start saving for college or retirement, and were given time metric options like “in 30 years” or in “10,950 days”.

The result? The time metrics that felt shorter impacted plans for action: Participants planned to start saving four times sooner in the “days” condition versus the “years” condition, likely to do with the fact that a shorter timeline makes us feel more connected to our future selves—and more motivated to cut back on instant gratification for the sake of future rewards.

By using smaller time metrics to feel closer to your future self, investing in the future doesn’t feel like as much of a sacrifice. “This may be particularly useful to anyone needing to save for retirement or their children’s college, to start working on a term paper or dissertation, pretty much anyone with long-term goals or wanting to support someone who has such goals,” said Oyserman.

It’s incredible how a simple shift in thinking can make such a big difference in not only how you feel about your long-term goals, but how you go after them—and anything that will help you achieve the exact life you want for yourself? Priceless.

How do you handle the enormity of your long-term goals?

Related on Organic Authority

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Whole Foods Market to Open New Grocery Store Chain Featuring ‘Normal’ Prices

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Whole Foods Market to Open New Grocery Store Chain Featuring 'Normal' Prices

No, you’re not dreaming. But one of your dreams may be coming true: Whole Foods Market, also known as “Whole Paycheck” for its high-priced food selection, says it’s opening up a new chain of stores with lower-priced, but (presumably) still healthy foods that have made the store such a destination over the last several decades.

The Austin-based company made the announcement yesterday as it delivered news of its first quarter earnings. The company says it is looking for new revenue sources and ways to reach the demographic of shoppers otherwise out of reach, including those in their 20s and 30s, and the shoppers buying value-priced organic items at Target, Trader Joe’s and Walmart, for example.

According to Whole Foods, the new stores will offer a “curated” selection of items in a simpler store design layout, but still honor the chain’s commitment to clean foods.

“[W]e are excited to announce the launch of a new, uniquely-branded store concept unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace,” Walter Robb, co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market, said in a statement. “Offering our industry leading standards at value prices, this new format will feature a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection. It will deliver a convenient, transparent, and values-oriented experience geared toward millennial shoppers, while appealing to anyone looking for high-quality fresh food at great prices.”

While the name of the Whole Foods spinoff has not yet been announced, the chain said it’s building a team to focus on the stores, as it’s already negotiating leases.

The target launch date is somewhere in 2016 with “rapid expansion” following the early store launches.

“We believe the growth potential for this new and complementary brand to be as great as it is for our highly successful Whole Foods Market brand,” added Robb. “We look forward to sharing more details about this exciting new venture sometime before Labor Day.”

According to Whole Foods, for the 28-week period ended April 12, 2015, “total sales increased 10% to $8.3 billion.” But Fortune reports the news comes “amid new signs that Whole Foods’ fast growth engine is sputtering. The grocer reported same-store sales rose 3.6% in the 12 weeks ended April 12, below Wall Street expectations for 5.3% growth, according to Consensus Metrix, and a fraction of the double-digit growth in recent years that had made Whole Foods a Wall Street darling.”

Whole Foods’ sales may be stalled but it’s still an industry leader, driving brand awareness and category growth. In 2013 the chain announced its plans to provide label transparency on items sold in its stores that contain genetically modified ingredients by 2018. The chain said all categories in the store will be vetted and suppliers must comply with its labeling requirements denoting the presence of GMOs.

The chain also recently launched its produce rating system. Designed to help orient customers to their best produce options, the system identifies several criteria including information on the type of growing methods and responsibility practices—including farmworker welfare and management of resources.

Find Jill on Twitter and Instagram

Related on Organic Authority

Whole Foods Market Says ‘Values Matter’ When it Comes to Customer Satisfaction

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Are These 6 Catchy Health Headlines Actually Ruining Your Health?

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Are These 6 Catchy Health Headlines Actually Ruining Your Health?

If you have turned on a computer, watched television, or opened a magazine in the past several years, you’ve likely seen one of those health headlines trying to make you believe that doing a few simple things can easily solve all of your ills. In reality, the truth is much more complicated and nuanced. But those controversial headlines generate clicks and sell millions of newspapers and magazines every year.

And even if you do read past the headline, which many of us don’t, you may not be getting the full story. Experts’ interpretations of the same data can differ wildly.

While it’s natural to want to believe in a quick, easy fix, that just isn’t realistic. Your body, along with its nutritional needs, is extremely complex. The body’s needs may vary from person to person, season to season, and throughout the course of your lifetime. A simple, catchy headline isn’t going to give you the knowledge or tools to live your healthiest life.

Here are six catchy health headlines that may just be ruining your health:

1. Fat

Fat Does Not Make You Fat

Don’t Blame Fat

Why Butter is a Superfood

Grass-fed Butter is a Superfood for the Heart

First, for the record, the low-fat craze that began in the 1970s did not leave Americans eating less fat. According to the Centers for Science in the Public Interest, we are eating 20 percent more fat than we did in 1970. This notion we collectively went on a low-fat diet and all got fat as a result is simply not true.

However, nowadays most nutrition experts do agree fat was unfairly vilified the past. Some fat in our diet is necessary for optimal health. Your body needs dietary fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Fat also allows your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Also, your brain is made up of 60 percent fat and needs fat to survive and thrive.

But can we eat as much as we want without gaining weight, as these headlines imply?

The good news is, eating fat will not cause your body to add fat stores simply because it is fat per se. However, if you eat more of it than your body needs for energy, you’re going to gain weight. It’s as simple as that.

This wishful thinking that we can eat as much fat as we want, without consequences, is apparent in the recent popularity of bulletproof coffee – touted by many as a weight loss drink. This concoction consists of coffee blended with around two tablespoons each of butter and coconut oil, and clocks in at almost 450 calories. If you drink this without either removing these calories from your diet elsewhere or burning them through exercise, these calories won’t magically disappear. They will end up on your thighs.

In the past year, many of the articles claiming fat doesn’t make you fat and saturated fat is good for you cite as proof a 2010 meta-analysis published in March 2014 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. According to this study, saturated fat has been largely exonerated of any negative health implications. However, many experts disagree with this conclusion.

Back to that bulletproof coffee. In addition to it’s almost 450 calories, it also contains a whopping 38 grams of saturated fat. At the very least, all this conflicting data means it might not be prudent to consume that much saturated fat until we know more.

 2. Calories

Calories Don’t Matter

5 Reasons Why Calories Don’t Count

Debunking the Calorie Myth: Why ‘Calories In, Calories Out’ is Wrong

It is true that not every calorie is created equal.

When it comes to overall health, one hundred calories of broccoli has a very different effect than a 100-calorie pack of peanut butter cups. The former keeps your blood sugar stable and nourishes your body with crucial vitamins and minerals; the latter dangerously spikes your blood sugar and offers no nutrients whatsoever.

Another key way in which calories are not created equal is how easy is it to eat too many calories of hyper-palatable, processed junk food vs. real food. For instance, it’s virtually impossible to eat 500 calories of broccoli (about 16 cups, chopped). Yet, you probably know far too well how easy it is to eat 500 calories of junk food over the course of one commercial break.

To the dismay or holistic nutritionists everywhere, one controversial experiment showed simply cutting calories could indeed lead to weight loss, even when what the person was eating was junk food. In 2010, a nutrition professor from Kansas State University lost 27 pounds in 10 weeks on a “convenience store diet” consisting primarily of items such as Twinkies, powdered donuts, Doritos, sugary cereals, and other convenience foods. The reason – he only consumed 1,800 calories per day vs. his normal average of 2,600.

While neither the professor (nor anyone else with an ounce of common sense) would recommend such a diet in the long run, it did show that calories do matter when it comes to weight loss.

And even with real, nutritious foods, you can still gain weight if you eat more than your body needs for fuel. Again, calories don’t just magically disappear. The key to remember is – you are far less likely to overindulge when eating real, nutrient-dense foods.

3. Exercise

The Scientist and the Stairmaster: Why most of us believe that exercise makes us thinner—and why we’re wrong

Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin

What typically follows “calories don’t matter” is that exercise doesn’t help you lose weight. If you eat more than your body needs for fuel, you’ll gain weight. If calories are not burned, they are stored. And one way to increase your body’s need for fuel is to exercise.

Many such articles argue that exercise doesn’t help you lose weight because people tend to reward themselves with food after exercising, sometimes consuming many times over the amount of calories burned. In other words, if you read a magazine while casually bouncing up and down on the elliptical machine for 20 minutes, you don’t deserve a Venti Frapp as a reward. That’s just common sense.

When it comes to the benefits of regular physical activity, it’s hard to argue with the statistics for the State of Colorado. While the obesity rate has climbed over the past few decades, along with the rest of the nation, Colorado is still the slimmest state in the U.S. Why? Perhaps because Colorado is known for its year-round sports – skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, mountain climbing, and more.

The fact that Colorado is one of the most active state in the U.S. and also the slimmest is not coincidental. Movement matters.

4. Soy

Soy is Unfit for Human Consumption

Soy Alert!

Why Soy is Bad

Soy is one of the most controversial topics in nutrition. Breast cancer survivors are frequently told to avoid it. But is it really dangerous?

Many believe soy should be avoided because it contains phytoestrogens (naturally occurring plant estrogens), which behave like a weak estrogen in the body. At first glance, this appears troubling because when estrogen meets an estrogen receptor in a breast cell, breast cancer can occur.

However, these phytoestrogens are nowhere nearly as strong as human estrogen. That means when these weak estrogens bind to an estrogen receptor, they block more potent natural estrogens. That’s a good thing.

Some very large studies have shown that a moderate amount of soy in your diet can actually protect you from breast cancer. One 2010 Chinese study showed women with a particular type of breast cancer who ate more than 42 mg per day (the equivalent of one-half cup of tofu) of soy isoflavones had a 33 percent lower chance of recurrence than those who ate less than 15 mg per day.

However, not all soy is created equal. Since approximately 90 percent of the soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified and conventional soy is high in pesticide residue, organic is definitely best. Also, soy can be difficult for some to digest and is one of the most common food sensitivities.

Fermented soy products such as tempeh, miso, natto, and naturally fermented soy sauce are easier to digest, making them a good choice. Also, avoid soy supplements and foods that contain isolated soy proteins. These do not have the same protective qualities as whole soy foods and may actually be dangerous.

5. Meat & Eggs

Five Terrifying Ways Meat Can Kill You

Science Says: Eggs Will Kill You Just Like Cigarettes

Our cancer, heart disease, and diabetes rates started to skyrocket after World War II when food companies decided Americans no longer needed to “waste time” cooking and that they could do it better. In fact, heart attacks were virtually unheard of in the U.S. before the early 1900s.

Books like “The China Study” offer seemingly indisputable evidence that dairy products, eggs, meat, and even fish are strongly linked to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. However, many experts, including Dr. William Davis – author of the best-selling book “Wheat Belly” – have disputed that evidence.

So, what’s going on?

First, humans are all different and what keeps one person healthy may harm another. Your bioindividuality, age, ancestry, and where you live all matter. In addition, nutrition science is in its infancy. In his book “Food Rules” Michael Pollan stated that current nutrition science is “sort of like where surgery was in 1690”. Do you want the equivalent of a 17th century surgeon telling you what to eat?

So how should you determine which diet is best? Start by looking at the places in the world where people live the longest. Author Dan Buettner documented these in his book, “The Blue Zones.” In small pockets in California, Costa Rica, Greece, Italy, and Japan, people routinely live long, vibrant lives – often well into their 90s and beyond – relatively free from cancer, heart disease, diabetes and dementia. None, with exception of the Seventh Day Adventist population in Loma Linda, CA, are strictly vegan, nor do they eat the massive amounts of animal protein and processed foods that most Americans do.

Instead, the diet in these places is largely plant-based – best described as semi-vegetarian and filled with vegetables, fruits, and true whole grains. The people in most of the Blue Zones also eat moderate amounts of high-quality (i.e., grass-fed or wild) dairy, eggs, meat, and fish. Follow their lead – eat real food.

6. Grains

How Grains Are Killing You Slowly

Why Grains Are Unhealthy

The Awful Truth About Eating Grains

Not surprisingly, many articles of this nature are written by advocates of high animal protein diets, such as Paleo. The Paleo community squarely places the blame for most of our obesity and disease problems on the beginning of agriculture, about 10,000 years ago. In reality, grains weren’t harming us for about 9,940 of those years.

The real problem lies in what the food industry has done to grains in the past few generations – stripping them of all their nutrients and pulverizing them beyond recognition into a high-glycemic substance they glue together into various shapes and sizes using fat, sugar, sodium and chemicals.

Grains are actually an important source of many beneficial and essential nutrients (meaning you need them but your body cannot produce them on its own), including B vitamins, vitamins C and D, and minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium. Whole grains have also been linked to reduced risk of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, colon cancer and other conditions.

It is true that grains can be difficult for some people to digest. And they contain substances called phytates—anti-nutrients that can block the absorption of certain important minerals. For better digestion and absorption of nutrients, sprout, soak or ferment grains before eating them. Soaking is easiest; if possible, soak grains overnight or at least several hours before cooking or eating them.

The bottom line is that many traditional diets around the world, such as those of most Asian and African cultures, have been grain-based. Until Western influences set in, these populations enjoyed low obesity and disease rates. The key is to eat the real thing – not processed and packaged foods labeled “made with whole grains.” Buy organic whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, faro, amaranth, and others from the bulk section of your local health food store and enjoy in moderation. One or two half-cup (cooked) servings per day will round out a healthy diet.

Related on Organic Authority

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Sugar Addiction: How Much Is Too Much?

Insane Doritos Flavors Sum Up Everything Wrong with the Food System

Kristina Sampson is a breast cancer survivor and Certified Health Coach who focuses on the effects of nutrition, exercise, environment, and mindfulness on our health. She believes in a balanced approach to health and wellness. Kristina runs the website The Vail Diet and is the author of “Leave Cancer in the Dust: 50 Tips to Prevent Breast Cancer and Supercharge Your Health.”

Headlines image via Shutterstock

 

 

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Beauty Oils: Are They Worth Your Money?

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Beauty Oils: Are They Worth Your Money?

Think beauty oils are a passing fad? Think again. These natural oil combinations may be some of the most beneficial things you can do for your skin.

When we think oils, we think banishment. All through our teen years we were instructed on the virtues of oil-free skin. “Oil-Free Wash”, “Oil-Control Skincare”,“Drying Potion.” These are just some examples of the advertising onslaught geared toward not only acne sufferers, but anyone looking for clear skin. Even those with sensitive or balanced complexions were taught that oil and skin don’t mix.

So, it should come as no surprise that the thought of actually applying oil to the face seems unthinkable to most woman. What if you learned that we’ve been going about this oil thing all wrong? That oil is not the devil it’s been made out to be.

Our skin produces its own natural oil. Some skin types produce more than others. But this natural oil is important to a healthy complexion. The idea should be less about oil banishment and more about oil balance. And yes, that goes for acne-prone types too.

Here’s the problem with stripping the skin of oils through over-cleansing and harsh ingredients. It actually causes your skin to produce even more oil in attempt to gain back some of what it’s lost. The skin doesn’t want to be dried out, so it ramps up oil production which collects under this dry, flaky top layer of skin. Pores are clogged, bacteria grows and…zits and dull complexions are born.

Every skin type can benefit from the use of healthy beauty oils. Most organic facial oils are combinations of several plant oils, all with their own skin supporting properties. Some are lighter, like rosehip and veronica, and better suited to oily and acne-prone skin types. Richer oils, like avocado and argan, are well suited to dry skin. And that’s just the tip of the beauty oil iceberg. There are oil combos for anti-aging, acne, brightening, smoothing, and practically any skin concern you can name.

How you use facial oil depends on what you are treating. If the oil is a treatment for clogged pores or discoloration, apply to clean skin and follow with moisturizer. If you are treating dryness, patting the oil on over your moisturizer will seal in hydrating ingredients and protect the skin.

The Best Natural Beauty Oils for Each Skin Type and Concern

For Normal Skin

Beauty Oils Ila Face Oil

Ila Face Oil For Glowing Radiance

For Dry Skin

Beauty Oils Blissoma Restore

Blissoma Restore – Deep Healing Oil Serum

For Oily/Acne Prone Skin

Beauty Oils Organic Botanicals Therapeutic Balancing Face Oil

Vered Organic Botanicals Therapeutic Balancing Face Oil

For Uneven Skin Tone

Beauty Oils Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Fruit & Seed Oil Blend

Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Fruit & Seed Oil Blend

For Mature Skin

Beauty Oils Vered Organic Botanicals Anti-Aging Face Treatment Oil

Vered Organic Botanicals Anti-Aging Face Treatment Oil

For Getting Your Glow On

Beauty Oils RMS Beauty Oil

RMS Beauty Beauty Oil

 

Related on Organic Authority

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Fair Trade Marula Oil for Glowing Skin

7 Dangerous Chemicals In Your Cosmetics

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Here’s Why Pregnant Women Should Say ‘No Thanks’ to Receipts

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Here's Why Pregnant Women Should Say No Thank You to Receipts

Researchers say that pregnant women should think twice about taking cash register and credit card receipts because of the risk of bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S (BPS), two known endocrine disruptors that may impact fetal neural development, according to a study published by a team of researchers at the University of Calgary.

The study showed that even low doses of the endocrine disruptors had worrying effects on the neural development of zebrafish. So much so that researchers said that the chemicals should be removed from consumer merchandise all together. In the mean time, they suggest that pregnant women should limit their exposure to BPA and BPS by avoiding plastics, aluminum cans lined with the chemical, and cash register receipts.

Low doses seemed to cause the excess growth of neural cells, which is linked to hyperactivity. The impact of the chemicals is the most problematic during the second trimester when infant brains are growing at the most rapid pace.

“What we show is that BPA affects the timing of when neurons are born, and that presumably alters circuitry in the brain, so you get this slightly different wiring,” lead researcher Deborah Kurrasch said to The Vancouver Sun. Kurrasch studies how changes in the brain early on can impact it later in life.

She says that while zebrafish are obviously not the same as humans, the way neurons form early on is similar.

“Just say no thank you to receipts” is Kurrasch’s advice to consumers and pregnant women, whose babies might be at highest risk. “If I were pregnant I probably wouldn’t take receipts, I’d probably be very careful about plastics and use as much glass as I possibly could,” said the University of Calgary researcher to The Vancouver Sun.

BPA is a known endocrine disruptor that’s been linked to health problems including breast and prostate cancer, declines in sperm counts, early sexual maturation in females, neurobehavioral problems, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and immune system effects. Though lesser known, BPS has been linked to irregular heartbeat, disrupted prenatal development, and stimulating breast cancer cells.

Avoiding these chemicals is not easy because they are so widely used. But there are some steps that you can take. Pregnant women especially should say no thank you to cash register receipts. Instead, monitor your bank account online. Substitute plastic for glass as much as possible in water bottles, baby bottles, food storage containers, eating utensils, toys, etc. Additionally, avoid prepackaged foods, especially aluminum cans that are not BPA-free. Choose fresh foods as much as possible instead of prepackaged foods that may be lined with plastics. Take steps to reduce your exposure to these endocrine disruptors especially while pregnant. The chemicals seem to have the most potent impact on fetuses because they are so vulnerable during early development.

Related on Organic Authority

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Study Finds BPA Exposure Connected to High Blood Pressure, FDA Maintains Its Safety

Male Infertility Connected to BPA Exposure, Study Finds

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10 More Lessons I Learned from My Wiener Dog Puppy

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Four months ago, I adopted a fuzzy brown wiener dog puppy – and my life will never be the same. Leonard Sylvester – aka Lenny – has the indomitable spirit for which his breed is renowned, the awkward gait of a drunken rabbit, and eyes that would melt the coldest heart.

It has been best of times and the worst of times, as I raise the wily wiener dog puppy into adolescence. For weeks, he had to go out to the grass several times a night – and at least twice per hour during the day. He chewed up my favorite pair of high heels, the corner of my wall, and a brand new rug before the tag was even off. And he has contributed a vast ocean of happiness, silliness and laughter to my life.

Here are the top ten lessons he has taught me:

1. Sometimes, you just need to wait and let problems solve themselves. When I first introduced the new puppy to his big brother Steve, the older dog lunged violently at his throat in a vicious, unprovoked attack. I was quite worried that the two would never get along. Steve continued his frothy snarl offense through the night and the next day. I was trying to keep them in separate rooms but accidentally left the bathroom door open. Moments later I heard a few growls and then the running of tiny little feet. The two wiener dogs were playing and romping throughout the house, and they haven’t stopped since.

2. We will be treated how we accept to be treated. Out of the two dogs, Lenny the puppy is without a doubt the alpha – even though Steve is older and stronger. Lenny jumps on his brother’s head over and over until Steve finally snaps at him – then Lenny gladly stops being such an annoying jerk and leaves him alone. The amount of annoying behavior that Steve will tolerate is 100 percent up to Steve.

3. A puppy’s toilet schedule trumps everything else in the world. It doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of cooking dinner, making love, writing an article, or going to the toilet yourself – when your puppy gives the cue that he needs to go out, you take him out. Immediately. Otherwise, you’ll be cleaning up a mess – and you’ll have failed to impart a crucial potty training lesson.

4. Speak clearly, because not everyone can understand your accent. Yes, you have one. Whether speaking to a puppy, Siri, or a foreign traveler, enunciate your words so that you can be better understood.

5. People don’t love you in spite of your weird, unique, oddball self – they love you because of it. Don’t ever try to hide your quirks so that you’ll fit in. Maybe your legs are super short, your body is longer than everyone else’s, and your zest for life is wildly incompatible for your size. Own it. Be authentic. You are loved because you are one of a kind.

6. Don’t rely on willpower – remove temptation instead. My puppy will chew up anything on the floor: magazines, shoes, plants, rugs, remote controls, iPhones, his own bed, pillows, blankets – ANYTHING. The only way to keep him from doing so is to remove everything from the floor except for his toys. It’s the same reason why I keep no chocolate ice cream in my house, only fresh fruit. I could rely on training and willpower – or I could just remove the damn temptation already.

7. Affection is a very important part of love. My puppy showers me with affection (and little bit of slobber) whenever I return home, even if I’ve just been away for 10 minutes. It feels great – and it makes me consider if I’m giving the ones I love in life enough affection.

8. Celebrate good things, even when they become routine. Puppy chow again? WOOPEEE! My puppy could not be more excited to dive into his dish of brown pellets. Rolling in the grass, playing with his favorite toy, running around the couch – even just waking up in the morning – these are reasons to celebrate for my puppy. And for us. Don’t let the routine nature of certain pleasures diminish their significance in your eyes. Life is sweet.

9. Establishing boundaries is extremely important. Many people are afraid that by setting boundaries, they will appear aggressive or uncooperative or worst of all – bitchy. But if you don’t set firm boundaries with your puppy, your arms and legs are going to get humped. Setting boundaries is an integral part of being a self-actualized person.

10. Being present is the best gift. The number one thing that my puppy wants from me is to hang out. To be with me. To sit by my side, and to have me around. Your family members and true friends want the same from you. Give the gift of your presence to them, and to yourself through mindful living. My puppy can’t ever tell me that he loves me – but his mere presence adds so much to my life, that I don’t really mind that he chewed up the baseboard. Not much, anyway.

Related on Organic Authority

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Photo by Shilo Urban

 

 

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Panera Bread Eliminates More Than 80 Food Additives From Its Menu

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Panera Bread Eliminates More Than 80 Food Additives From Its Menu

Panera Bread has released a list of over 80 ingredients being removed from its menu. From aspartame to sucralose, sulfites to parabins, the substantial “no no list” has been in the works since last year.

“Last year we unveiled our Food Policy to hold ourselves accountable to long held values and set the future vision for our menu. The No No List is the latest step on our journey to clean food and a transparent menu,” said founder and CEO Ron Shaich.

The company is trying to appeal to a more health conscious consumer who’s concerned about artificial additives.

“We are not scientists. We are people who know and love food, and who believe that the journey to better food starts with simpler ingredients. And to turn that belief into meaningful action, we consulted third-party scientists and experts to compile a list of common artificial additives that we are going to do without. Simplifying our pantry is essential to our vision, but it is not an end point. We want to be an ally for wellness for the millions of guests we serve each week,” Shaich said in a statement.

The company says it’s been working with suppliers to remove the long list of ingredients from its supply chain so Panera Bread can completely remove them from their menu. The ingredients will be removed from bakery items, soups, salads, and sandwiches. The ongoing process has meant recipe development and testing to find replacements for commonly used additives. Salad dressings have been a particularly difficult menu item.

“Dressings have been one of the most complex projects given the number of artificial additives – namely flavors and preservatives—conventionally used for taste and consistency,” said Dan Kish, Panera Bread’s Head Chef. “We’re proud to be offering bakery-cafe salad dressings without artificial additives. We believe they also taste better than ever.”

By releasing its no no list, Panera Bread is making new strides in transparency. This is just one more example of the fast food industry’s attempt to appease the demands of consumers, from removing GMOs from foods at Chipotle to eliminating medically important antibiotics from chicken at McDonald’s.

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Are Beets the New Kale?

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Are Beets the New Kale?Move over, kale. Step aside, quinoa. Have a seat, cauliflower. The trendy health food du jour is here, and it’ll leave your lips a ruby red delicious mess. Yes, meet the beet, aka the new kale.

Beets aren’t new, of course. They’ve been on plates and in fresh squeezed juices for years. A gardeners delight, the bright red beet (or its golden or striped cousins) are filled with healthy nutrients and deep earthy flavors.

But for many health-seekers, the beet has been a hard ingredient to work with. Aside from steaming or juicing, there weren’t too many beet recipes, save for the occasion for a bowl of beet borscht soup. Not so the case these days.

“Beets are full of antioxidants and probiotics, and stealth beet cookery is a good way to feed them to reluctant eaters,” Barbara Damrosch wrote recently in the Washington Post.

Stealth might as well be the beet’s middle name. It grows inconspicuously in the dirt just under a head of chard-like (edible) greens. And when added to recipes like beet burgers, loaf or even brownies, they add a subtle hard-to-trace meaty yet earthy flavor.

Nowadays you’ll find beets atop the hippest pizzas, in pesto and hummus, energy bars, and juiced all by itself, like a pomegranate.

Beets, of course, offer another noteworthy benefit—that gorgeous deep red color. Not to be taken for granted, a white bean dip becomes a what-in-the-world-was-that-gorgeous-red-dip-again with just a touch of beets. A red velvet cake can get its redness (and its sweetness) from a cup of shredded beets.

And speaking of sweetness, the beet’s at its stealthiest in all sorts of processed foods that contain sugar from sugar beets (usually genetically modified).

But don’t let that deter you from the beets many benefits. A one-cup serving of fresh beets contains 442 mg of potassium, 15 percent of the RDA for fiber, 2.2 grams of protein (4 percent of the daily RDA), 11 percent of the daily RDA for vitamin C, 6 percent of the RDA for iron and 7 percent of the RDA for magnesium. And according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains:

Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best-studied betalains from beets, and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. The detox support provided by betalains includes support of some especially important Phase 2 detox steps involving glutathione. Although you can see these betalain pigments in other foods (like the stems of chard or rhubarb), the concentration of betalains in the peel and flesh of beets gives you an unexpectedly great opportunity for these health benefits.

But, you may still be thinking “KALE.” And there’s really no reason to give that food up anytime soon. But why not add a beet? Load into your kale smoothie or layer it into your kale salad. Add it to stir fries, lasagna, or pile it onto a piece of avocado toast. Shred raw beets into salads and sandwiches. Or give your kombucha a rest and try the fermented Russian drink called beet kvaas. Or, you could get really crazy and just go traditional minimalist and simply steam a big batch of fresh beets until tender, peel the skin while they’re still warm, and eat them whole with just a sprinkle of salt and an earthy smile. They really don’t need much more than that.

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Beets image via Shutterstock 

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6 Oatmeal Recipe Upgrades You Have to Try

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oatmeal recipe

A warm bowl of oatmeal might just be the perfect breakfast. Full of soluble fiber and low in calories, oatmeal carries a label approved by the FDA that it may reduce the risk of heart disease when combined with a low-fat diet. It’s inexpensive to buy, and quick and easy to make. But if you’re just adding the same old maple syrup or nuts to the top every morning, you might become a little bored. Perk up your morning meal with these gourmet oatmeal recipe ideas.

First, start by cooking your oatmeal. Always purchase plain oatmeal to avoid the excess sugars and additives in the pre-sweetened packets. You can also find products that also contain quinoa flakes, and those work very well with these oatmeal recipe twists. Add more or less liquid, depending on your preference for lumpy or porridge-like oatmeal.

Old-Fashioned Oats: Bring ¾ cup water (or milk) to a boil in a medium saucepan, and then add ½ cup old-fashioned oats and a dash of salt. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes, or until desired consistency.

Now you’re ready for the fun part of the oatmeal recipe:

1. Lemon Raspberry Mascarpone: Stir in 1 teaspoon honey and 1 tablespoon lemon curd, and then top with ¼ cup fresh raspberries, 1 teaspoon of mascarpone cheese, and 2 teaspoons of sliced almonds.

2. Chocolate Banana Nut Butter: Slice half of a large banana. Mash half the slices and stir them into your oatmeal, along with 2 teaspoons of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of your favorite nut butter. Top with the remaining banana slices and 1 tablespoon of shaved dark chocolate or chocolate chips.

3. Fruit with a Kick: Stir in ½ cup of your favorite fresh fruit or berries. Chunks of orange, blackberries, or strawberries work well. Add 1 teaspoon maple syrup, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, and a dash of cayenne. Stir well and top with a sprinkling of chopped pecans.

4. Pistachio, Fig & Yogurt: Stir in 1 teaspoon honey and 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice. Top with 2 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios, and one fresh fig (sliced). Drizzle the top with honey. You can also use dried figs if you prefer.

5. Tropical Delight: Stir in 1 teaspoon agave syrup, 1/3 fresh banana (mashed up), and ¼ cup fresh pineapple (or jarred if you must). Top with 2 tablespoons of toasted coconut, and 1 tablespoon of sliced almonds.

6. Chai Spiced Apple: Sauté half of an apple, thinly sliced, in a lightly oiled pan over medium heat for three minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, and cook for two more minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk, 1/8 teaspoon cardamom, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract.

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Photo by: Low Fat Chick

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4 Fantastic Stories of Women in Agriculture (Farming Isn’t a Boy’s Club!)

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Agriculture seems like a bit of a boy’s club from the outside, doesn’t it?

Well not anymore. There are thousands of females working in farming all over the world. To give you an idea of the variety that is women in agriculture, we’ve taken the time to explore three different agricultural projects run by women seeking to make a difference.

1. Dela Ends of Scotch Hill Farm, Teaching Her Kids That Farming is for Everyone

dela ends

Image care of Tony Ends

Dela Ends owns Scotch Hill Farm, a certified organic family farm complete with CSA and farmstead soap-making business, with her husband Tony. The small, family-run business is an equal-opportunity farm, with an intriguing past. While Dela did not always intend to work in farming — she actually has a degree in history and had a career in Vocational Rehabilitation — when she and her husband Tony found themselves in Wisconsin for Tony’s work, Dela discovered that her calling was in agriculture.

While the switch to farming was certainly surprising, it didn’t come out of nowhere. “Ever since my early 20s I had a nagging feeling that it was vitally important to know how to grow your own food and live off the land,” Dela says. “I still believe that is important and wanted my children to learn to be self sustaining.” It was this desire and philosophy that led Dela to buy a small farm in Wisconsin. She decided to homeschool her children there, utilizing the farm itself as a classroom tool.

“We bought some assorted livestock mostly for 4H projects for the children and started a small CSA. This put the old farm back into agricultural production although it was very different from our conventional farming neighbors.”

And Dela’s desire to instill her own farming philosophy in her children worked out perfectly, as is evidenced by the choices made by her children today.

“Over 20 years later my oldest son is taking over the CSA and my youngest son has taken over our goat herd with his wife,” Dela says. “It is lovely to be to this point of transition.”

But working with her children is only part of the story. For years, Dela had to separate farm tasks between herself and her husband. Dela tried to look at this as a division of labor between two personalities as opposed to between two genders.

“My husband and I try to divide labor by our personal skills, strengths and what we enjoy,” she says. For Dela, this means caring for the animals and vegetables as well as mapping the gardens, while Tony does the field work and machinery maintenance as well as grant writing and newsletters.

“It is really a team effort,” she says. “My husband is more of a people person. I enjoy the solace on the farm.”

As a woman in agriculture, Dela has recognized the importance of her work as a role model for other women seeking to do the same, which is why she decided to participate in Lisa Kivirist’s “In Her Boots” workshop. “I have known Lisa since the mid ’90s. We were kind of “pioneers” in sustainable agriculture in our area,” she says. Through the project, Dela has been able to share her thoughts on farming with other women, thoughts that show how much farming has taught her.

“Farming is hard work,” she says. “Things go wrong and that’s okay. Expect it, adjust and move forward. Sometimes the best laid plan turns out to not really be best. In farming adaptability is essential. Nature is good at throwing curve balls.”

And as for those who think that women can’t farm as well as men, Dela has quite a few things to say. “That’s sexist thinking,” she says. “There are some people who are not suited to farming (male or female). They are physically out of shape or have not desire to work in the dirt and nature. I know plenty of women farmers who can do every bit as fine a job as a man, even better.”

“In most of the rest of the world women are doing the primary agricultural work feeding their families and communities. In our country there’s been the farmer and “the farmers wife” who worked just as hard as her husband on the farm but was not recognized as an equal partner. It is positive change to see women taking their rightful place in the agricultural community.”

Dela’s perception of women in agriculture elsewhere in the world is particularly appropriate now that she seeks to join them. With her children taking on responsibilities on the family farm, Dela is working towards joining her former Peace Corps volunteer husband in the Republic of Congo, where he has been working since October, in just a few months.

“In developing nations we can share our farming skills with people who are really struggling to feed their families,” she says. After teaching her own children and fellow local female farmers these skills, Dela is ready to share them with the world.

2. The Fairtrade Foundation: Helping Female Coffee Farmers Become Self-Sufficient

David Finlay with women members of Kabngetuny cooperative

Image care of Fairtrade Foundation

David Finlay has coordinated the launch of a fantastic new program at Fairtrade Foundation with a very specific goal in mind: highlighting the hard-working female Fairtrade coffee farmers of Kenya.

The ‘Growing Women in Coffee’ project was built on the back of a pilot program with the Kabngetuny Co-operative in Kenya. Whereas these women often contribute 70 percent of labor to coffee plants, they are rarely recognized as legal owners or part-owners of these businesses. The goal of the program became, then, to transfer ownership of coffee bushes from husbands to wives, thus giving these hard-working women the recognition and purchase power they deserve. In addition, this transfer of power seeks to create change within the communities themselves.

“Research shows that when women are in control of a greater proportion of the household income, there are improved development outcomes for the community, particularly in areas such as health and education,” David says.

Further steps will include training in good agricultural practices as well as marketing endeavors to highlight women’s position at the forefront of the manufacture of these products.

While Fairtrade Africa is currently working with two co-operatives to find the perfect market for this coffee, be aware that voting with your dollar may not be feasible on an international scale — at least not right away. “One of the aims of the project is to grow the East African market for Fairtrade certified coffee,” David explains. “So it is hoped that they will be able to sell to local and regional buyers.”

3. Fulfilling Cheesy Dreams with Marieke Penterman

For Marieke Penterman of family farm Marieke Gouda, cheesemaking was, quite literally, a dream come true. She had always grown up in the milieu, born and raised on a dairy farm, but at first had a different goal in mind.

“My dream was to become a veterinarian for large animals,” she says. “My passion has always been cows, and because of what I wanted to become, my studies were always focused on agriculture.”

She pursued her studies and internships in the farming world, taking advantage of the wealth of opportunities and facing many new challenges along the way. “There was a farmer that made me work in his garden for the first couple weeks, instead of his free stall barn,” she recalls. “But after a successful calving, while he was gone, he started to trust me a bit more.”

The return to the world of dairy came from Marieke’s dream to start her own business before reaching her 30s. She was lying awake at night on the dairy farm, letting her mind wander as she overheard one of the cows calving in the night. “I was tossing and turning and couldn’t sleep due to the sound she was making,” she remembers. “I started to think that we should start making our own gouda from the cow’s milk.”

Marieke made her dream a reality — 10 days before she turned 30!

Where there’s a will, at least in Marieke’s case, there seems to be a way. She concedes some of the physical barriers for women in agriculture, saying that, “Females in general are not as muscular as a male, but our problem-solving brain can come up with different ways to get the job done anyway. The agriculture world is a very innovative world.”

Marieke’s goal-oriented way of working has paid off — in 2013, she was awarded the best cheese in the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest. Even now, two years later, it’s hard for her to describe the feelings that flooded her mind when she received the award.

“Who would have ever thought that that would be possible,” she says. “The idea was just to make a couple wheels a week and sell it out of our little store on the farm with my husband. This was not part of the business plan.”

4. Jenni and Jodi Harris, Bringing White Oak Pastures into its Fifth Generation — And into the 21st Century

white oak pastures

Image care of Angie Mosier

Jenni and Jodi Harris are the fifth generation of farmers at White Oak Pastures, a farm that highlights both females and family.

However, being a fifth generation farmer isn’t as easy as you might expect. Both women were required to work elsewhere for a year after finishing college before coming onboard in accordance with a family rule, and yet both made their way back to the farm, Jenni as the farm’s marketing manager and Jodi in public relations.

“Working in a family business is something special and so fulfilling,” says Jodi. “I really appreciate what we do and the work environment that my daddy has created.”

“A job is a job, and passion is passion,” Jenni adds. “When I was working away from the farm, I focused on what to do in my time off. Go to the park, the bar, a restaurant… whatever it was, that’s what excited me. Working on the farm gives me the exact opposite feeling. I focus on what I can do for White Oak Pastures,  how I can impact the farm and our mission. I lose track of time, because I’m motivated by passion.”

But perhaps one of the true reasons Jodi and Jenni have had so much success here is because each knows how to play to her strengths.

“It took me a couple of months to find my place on the farm,” says Jodi. “I began stocking shelves and doing odd jobs until I started giving tours and discovered that people really want to come here and learn more about this operation and our family. Then I realized we needed cabins for lodging and now, after months of doing research, we have five cabins to accommodate guests. And I have a part in inviting people here to show them what we do.”

Having grown up on the farm, it’s perhaps no surprise that neither woman sees her gender as a handicap.

“If my toothpick arms can pick up a 50 lb bag of horse feed, so can you!” Jodi jokes, and yet the very serious desire to show women just how much they can do in agriculture is clearly important to both sisters.

“Quit waiting on things to be perfect, or even an invitation,” Jenni says. “Take some initiative, walk wholeheartedly in one direction, working harder than anyone there, male or female, black or white, tall or short. Don’t use ‘being a girl’ as a handicap, because that’s all it will be — a handicap. At the end, you might decide that it wasn’t for you, but at least you found a starting place.”

Related on Organic Authority

With Urban Farming, 3 Guys in Queens Might Save the World

Mistrustful of Meat? Closed-Loop Farming May Be the Solution

Patricia Damery on Biodynamic Farming and Connecting with the Earth

Farming image via Shutterstock: Eugene Chernetzov

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Study Finds No Link Between Autism and the MMR Vaccine, Even for At-Risk Kids

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Study Finds No Link Between Autism and the MMR Vaccine, Even in Genetically At Risk Kids

A number of studies have already shown that there’s no link between the MMR vaccine and autism or the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but a recent study is the first to show that the same is true even in genetically at-risk kids. A huge study found that even in kids who had an older sibling who had ASD, there was no link between getting the MMR vaccine and being diagnosed with the disorder.

According to experts, this should leave no doubt that the vaccine isn’t to blame for increasing diagnoses of ASD.

“Could it be that if all the requisite genetic and other risks are present, MMR can lead to the development of autism?” Dr. Bryan H. King, an autism specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, asked in an editorial published alongside the JAMA study, reported in the Los Angeles Times. “If so, the population in which there might be such a signal would be families already affected by autism.”

It’s unclear whether this will change the tune of the small minority of vocal MMR critics. But it likely will not.

“Eight million studies are not going to convince people,” Dr. James Cherry, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UCLA said to the Los Angeles Times.

For this study, researchers looked at 95,727 children, all of whom had siblings who had ASD. This increases their risk of getting the disorder, which would have magnified the impact of a link between MMR and ASD if there was one. And there was not.

Scientists aren’t sure why there has been an increase in ASD diagnoses, but it’s clear something else is to blame. A study published in the Lancet in 1998 did find a link, but that researcher was found to have falsified research, and that study was later retracted.

While little research has been done on genetically modified organisms and autism, a senior researcher at MIT recently found that glyphosate toxicity, from the herbicide commonly used on GMO crops, could be a cause.

According to the Alliance for Natural Health:

[Stephanie Seneff, PhD] presented slides showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the rising use of Roundup (with its active ingredient glyphosate) on crops and the rising rates of autism; while it doesn’t show a direct correlation it does give researchers plenty to think about, especially considering Seneff’s research into the side effects of autism that mimic glyphosate toxicity and deficiencies.

Seneff contends that as the use of Roundup has skyrocketed as a result of Roundup Ready GMO crops (like soy and corn), so too have instances of ASD. Dr. Seneff notes in her slideshow that “the heaviest use of Roundup, Monsanto’s flagship weedkiller, began in 1990 and continued to rise since. Meanwhile, the  number of kids with autism has gone from 1 in 5,000 in 1975 to 1 in 68 today, a puzzling and frustrating stat that shows no signs of slowing down and one that correlates strongly with the rise in glyphosate use.”

Related on Organic Authority

Bisphenol-A Worsens Autism Symptoms, Study Finds

Late Term Pregnancy Exposure to Pollution Doubles Autism Risk for Children, Harvard Study Finds

Autism Risk Factors Include In Utero Pesticide Exposure, Finds UC Davis Research

Image of child getting vaccine from Shuttershock

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Vegetarian Tacos Recipe with Roasted Cubanelle and Poblano Peppers

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vegetarian tacos

Celebrate Cinco De Mayo with these simple and spicy vegetarian tacos made with Cubanelle and Poblano peppers. Bright greed and red peppers are blasted with the heat of a broiler for a smoky charred flavor and then roasted with olive oil. I like the sweetness of Cubanelle peppers in this recipe but rely on the heat of the Poblano pepper for flavor.

vegetarian tacos

Did you know that there’s a specific scale used to determine the hotness of a pepper? It’s called the Scoville Scale and has been around since the early 20th century. The test, called the Scoville Organoleptic Test, measures human subjects’ reaction to concentrations of the chemical capsaicin, present in all peppers. Scoville’s scale is not entirely scientific since it’s based on subjective human reactions, however when determining whether a chili pepper will send you screaming to fridge for a gallon of milk.

Bell peppers measure a zero on the scale, while Jalapeños range from 1,000-4,000 Scoville heat units. A Cubanelle pepper is under 1,000, but beware of the Caroline Reaper which measures a whopping 2,200,000 on the scale. For this recipe, stick with the less hot varieties like bell peppers, Cubanelles, banana peppers and throw in a Poblano or two.

vegetarian tacos

Vegetarian Tacos with Roasted Cubanelle and Poblano Peppers

Makes 4 tacos 

Ingredients
3 peppers (1 red bell pepper, 1 Cubanelle, 1 Poblano)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tortillas (flour or corn)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

To serve:
1/4 cup chopped red onion mixed with 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/4 cup salsa verde
1/4 cup sour cream

Directions
Preheat your broiler. Prick each pepper with a knife a few times and lay flat on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil for about 3 minutes on each side so that scorch marks appear. Then drizzle olive oil and cheese over the peppers and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Warm the tortillas in a skillet and prepare the serving condiments. Use a small serrated knife to cut each pepper in half. Scrape out the seeds and drain off any excess moisture. Slice the peppers into strips and add 4-5 strips per taco. Top with onion and cilantro mixture and serve.

Related on Organic Authority 

Healthy Breakfast Tacos

Vegetarian Taco Salad 

Fish Tacos with Broccoli Slaw and Lime Cream 

Photos by Ally-Jane 

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