you are what you eat

Big Yellow Baby Steps

The original, and now the best.

The original, and now the best.

Good news was out last week that General Mills has decided to change their sources for sugar and corn starch to non-GMO products, thus allowing them to take a little step and make their Cheerio’s original non-GMO. Just that one variety so far, as they say it had so little GMO in it the switch was easy.

While the company is still maintaining that GMO’s are not bad for us to ingest, and does admit they make some of their other products without GMO’s so they can be sold in Europe, they do not express any intention of changing what they use in their products in this country.

We’ll see.

Recently Chipotle restaurants announced that they were moving toward all non-GMO foods, including grass fed meats.
Their stocks soared, even though customers were informed they may need to slightly increase their prices.

These big companies are smart, and they keep a close eye on trends.
We have already seen an organic version of Heinz catsup hit the store shelves. Since they are not using the heavily pesticided corn syrup and sugar beets, then they are probably non-GMO as well.

But they will keep that quiet for now. Why?
Because its a double standard to manufacture one way for the European market, and another for the US.

And it is hypocritical to say GMO’s are safe, and we don’t want to have to label foods that contain them, then turn around and start using the non-GMO ingredients to their advantage.

This, my friends, is where the conundrum comes into play:

Do you not buy any General Mills products because they financially support efforts against labeling GMO’s containing foods, and they in fact use much of the product so heavily doused in Monsanto’s chemicals-
Or, do you purchase that yellow box of non-GMO Cheerio’s and show General Mills your support for removing GMO products from at least that one box?

Normally I would go with the first choice, but not this time.

Because here’s the thing- if the sales of the non-GMO containing Cheerio’s soar, then other General Mills cereals will follow.
From there, other companies will be quick to jump on the wagon and so maintain their share of the market.
And perhaps the tide will turn.

Amy’s food started it a year or so ago and saw their stock jump up, and now Chipotle’s has thrown some major heat on the fire.
I’m thinking… let’s get out our fans and feed that flame.

Because voting with your dollar? It works.

Don’t just take my opinion on it.
Read what the GM reps say about GMO’s and their other products.


Categories: GMO's, special posts, you are what you eat



Planning for Success

planning a year round edible garden

Plotting and planning.

Having a goal is great; whether it is to lose weight in the new year, start a new career as an entrepreneur, or grow a garden.
Having a good plan however, can make all the difference.

The basics of writing a business plan can help you achieve your goal, whatever it is. So let’s leave the new business planning to the experts, and look at the wonderful goals of Getting Healthy and Growing Food:

1. State the goal specifically.
I want to get healthy is not as specific as I want to lose 2 pounds per month this year or I want to drop my overall cholesterol by 10 points.
Similarly, I want to grow food would be better stated I want to grow enough food to eat fresh and preserve for my family of 4.

2. Detail the steps you will take and make them achievable.
Do the research on what it takes to lower your cholesterol, as an example. Talk to your Doctor and Pharmacist. Find out what specific steps you need to take, and see which ones will work for you

Likewise, do you have the room to grow enough to sustain 4 people? That would be in the neighborhood of 2000 pounds of produce. If space is limited, rethink your goal. Otherwise, look at what techniques you can use, such as intercropping and succession planting, to optimize your harvest.

yoga on the wii

Yoga on the wii.

3. Plan for challenges.
Everybody is gathering for dinner at that new rib joint, what do you do?
Two weeks without rain, what now?
Life happens, plan on it. What is the old army adage, “Forewarned is forearmed”?
You know there will be stumbling blocks, but do what you can to be prepared. Maybe that will entail a rain barrel, perhaps a husband who is willing to share a dinner entrée. Decide ahead of time.

4. Know your own personality.
Are you the type of person who would rather set a goal of an Elephant, and be happy with a Mouse?
Or would you rather go for a Mouse, and be thrilled with an Elephant?
Do what works best for you.

If you are the type of person that does better with the support of others, use that to your advantage; just be careful, as supporters can also become enablers.
Set a goal that can be achieved alone, just in case.

5. Enjoy the journey.
Sure, the gardening goal sounds like a lot more fun than lowering cholesterol, but it doesn’t have to be. If you enjoy trying new foods and cooking, then you can have a blast experimenting with dishes and ingredients that are better for you.
Plan the steps you will take with your own enjoyment in mind, that will not only make the journey more enjoyable, but increase your chances of success at the same time.

Oh, and by the way, wouldn’t these two goals work well together?
Hmmm… I may have to go update my plan a bit.

Learn more about the Gardening Techniques mentioned in this post.

Categories: preparedness, special posts, you are what you eat


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A Plant Based Diet – You Can Grow That!

dry shell beans

Easy to grow, nutritious and delicious.

If you have seen Forks Over Knives then you know of the overwhelming amount of evidence that shows consuming 20% or less of your protein intake from animal products can stop and even reverse health issues, as well as promote weight loss.

They’re not talking mild issues either, but rather heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some cancers.

Okay, I know, I know… Bacon.

That’s what we thought, too. But it has been almost 2 years now since we decided to limit meat to once per week, and almost 1 1/4 years since we decided we really didn’t want it at all anymore.

Perhaps being a cook and a gardener, making the change was a tad easier.
Still there are many books out there, including a few by the cast members of the documentary, that will help making that switch to be easier and very delicious.
Once you see how much better you look and feel, well- even Bacon just does not hold up.

So what foods can you grow to keep this a tasty and healthy lifestyle change?
Pert near anything, actually.

Most veggies have a good amount of protein in them.
The highest numbers are found in beans, peas and legumes; especially in dried beans.
Think you’ll miss the bacon in your homegrown baked beans?

Probably not, but in the beginning try adding a smoked salt, Liquid Smoke, or Truffle oil to get that smoked flavor.
You won’t want to ever go back.

Soy is a member of the legume family, and often processed soy is substituted for meat. If you buy it, look for Non-GMO labels.
You can grow your own soybeans and enjoy them roasted in the form of edamame.

Homegrown soybeans.

Homegrown soybeans.

Nut trees will also provide a delightful abundance of vegetable protein. Check to see what is hardy in your area.

Quinoa (pron Keen-wa) has the most complex proteins of any veggie, similar to meat.
It is a relative of spinach, which is also high in protein when it is cooked down. You can grow it and harvest the seed, if you live in a cooler climate and have the room.
If you have the space and love a new seed to try out, go for it!

Really, even though getting enough protein is what concerns most people new to limiting their intake of meat, it probably will never be an issue.
Think about it… if we couldn’t get enough easily from plants, wouldn’t all animals be meat eaters?

The only way Mandolin will eat beets.

The only way Mandolin will eat beets.

If you have thought of limiting your meat intake, or even becoming vegetarian or vegan, this is what we would suggest:

1. Never say never.
Start off easy, and give yourself one day each week to eat whatever meat you want. After a while, you may just lose interest. Even if you don’t, you are still better off.

2. Be creative.
Eating is one of the few basic human needs we enjoy in public. Have fun with your dishes. Experiment. Share.

3. Grow what you can.
You know it will taste better if it is homegrown.

4. Don’t be defensive.
We did find that some people react strongly when you tell them you are giving up or even limiting meat in your diet. Don’t let them get to you.
The simplest answer when they ask “Why?” is
“For my health.”

For some reason, that does not bother them and after all, it really is the truth.

you can grow that

You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to help others learn to grow.
Click on the link above for more.

Categories: you are what you eat, you can grow that



Wonderful Homemade Knish

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Served with a dollop of sour cream.

Most every culture has some kind of filled dumpling recipe.
The Polish serve Pierogies, while the Italian Ravioli. Chinese have numerous and varied recipes from potstickers to things we cannot begin to pronounce correctly.
Do a search on the internet and you will find an abundance of recipes to choose from.

Although we had heard of them for many years, it was only recently that we found knishes for sale at the local market.

Cool, a new food- We’re game.

It was somewhat disappointing though.
The dough was heavy; the knish fried, then cooled, then reheated; the filling bland.
But then, isn’t pretty much any manufactured version of a good recipe usually not as flavorful as it is supposed to be?

So I set about reading up on recipes, and feeling somewhat overwhelmed, decided to just try my own.
Most dough-filled dumplings can be fried, baked or boiled.
The kitchen is cool this time of year, so baked it will be.

The fillings usually center around precooked meat, potatoes or cabbage, and possibly veggies. Pretty broad.

We had some leftover mashed potatoes with turnips and rutabagas in the fridge, along with leftover imitation spicy sausage and homemade fermented sauerkraut.
We mixed it all together, adding a raw egg to help bind them.

Baking is something I have been doing since childhood, and professionally at our restaurant.
For us, the filling was a given- it was the dough that mattered.

We wanted a dough that would compliment the filling rather than overwhelm it.

Corn meal appearance, but able to form a ball.

Corn meal appearance, but able to form a ball.

So here’s what happened:

In a food processor, we added
2 oz. butter
3 oz. hard cheese, we used swiss
3 Tablespoons ricotta cheese
3 Tablespoons Kefir (or yogurt or sour cream)

Pulse this until it looks like cornmeal. You can also do it by hand with a pastry knife or two butter knives.
Slowly add enough flour to form a dough, in this case it was 2 cups. Like many recipes, how much flour to liquid ratio depends on your elevation and on the humidity.

Also keep in mind the less you work the dough, the better the texture will be.

Roll the dough as thin as you can on a floured board.
Fill with your choice of filling, pinch closed using an egg wash, or leave open at the top.
I was concerned the dough might melt some, having never made one with so much cheese in it, so used muffin tins. Turns out the dough held up just fine, so this really wasn’t necessary.
Bake at 350 until brown, about 15 minutes.

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

We did ours as an open dumpling, but you can also fold the dough over to cover the filling completely.

Forget what everyone told you growing up-
playing with your food is a very Good thing.

Categories: Recipes, you are what you eat


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Gluten Free Low Carb Bread Crumbs – You Can Grow That!

Whether you are allergic to wheat, have a problem with gluten, are trying to reduce carbs in your diet, or are just looking for a healthier alternative to the typical store-bought bread crumbs, your garden is the place to go.

It was a few years back we looked at making flour from pumpkin flesh. The same can be done with a slew of other veggies, in fact I’m sure you could combine different vegetables to make a very healthy flour.

Note here that if you are going to bake with it, you can only substitute 1/3 of your vegetable flour in the recipe.

But then the same line of thinking led to… what about bread crumbs?

How to fit a head of cauliflower into a canning jar.

How to fit a head of cauliflower into a canning jar.

So the theory was tested by dehydrating an entire head of cauliflower. The result was about 1 3/4 cups of dried vegetable. Pretty potent stuff.

Some of that was then ground up in a good coffee grinder. Tofu was chosen for the experiment since it has pretty much no flavor of its own, a good test to see how strong the cauliflower taste would be.

Tofu slices were dipped first in organic corn meal, then in some beaten egg, then into the cauliflower. Some pieces were baked, some were fried. Just for comparison sake, some were also made with rice flour instead of the cauliflower.

Happy Tofu.

Happy Tofu.

Mandolin was the unknowing taste-tester. Good thing he trusts me!
“Is that cauliflower?” he asked, “It’s good, I like cauliflower.”

The taste was much milder than we expected, and we agreed if it were anything other than tofu you would probably not taste the cauliflower at all.
We both liked it better than the rice flour, as it was crunchier. We also preferred the fried to the baked.

We then served it with a nice orange-ginger sauce, and it was wonderful.

This weekend we’re looking forward to trying it again, when SaveTheWorld is home on fall break; but this time with fried green tomatoes.
Maybe we’ll even try a variety of veggies for the breading, just to see how it tastes.
I’m betting she doesn’t notice the difference at all, though she will be happy to know it is a healthier alternative.

With younger kids, you may want to keep this a secret for a while. :-)

This post is part of a monthly group effort by gardeners around the world to encourage people to grow. Click on the link below to find a variety of posts with that theme.

And always remember-
you can grow that

Categories: drying-roasting, gardening people, places & things, How to Store, organic, preparedness, you can grow that


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Tomatoes – Just Weeds with a Good Schtick

If asked ‘If you could only grow one edible plant, what would it be?’ most gardeners would answer resoundingly ‘Tomatoes!’
And why is that?
They aren’t as easy to grow as beans, or as versatile as a potato.
They don’t store over the winter like a cabbage will, nor do they produce like a zucchini.
So what makes a tomato special?

A wall of weeds.

This is what can happen when you spill some compost.

Well, if you thought ‘taste’ you are close. Any homegrown vegetable will taste better than its mass farmed counterpart. Homegrown carrots are so sweet they don’t need a glaze or even need to be peeled. Celery fresh from the garden tastes significantly different than what you get at the market.

Growing in gravel.

Growing in gravel.

But tomatoes have an unfair advantage-
store bought tomatoes suffer from forced maturity.
They are picked green and gassed so they turn red; seriously who ever came up with that idea?
Even the so-called ‘vine ripened’ tomatoes are no better. They are gassed just the same, they just are still stuck to the stem. No big deal.

At least they are producing.

At least they are producing.

It isn’t just taste, it is the extreme taste difference. If that wasn’t the case, I wonder how many gardeners would bother with tomatoes.
Think about it-
-They have to be staked in some way.
-Many need to be carefully pruned.
-When the fruit is ripe, hurry!
-Tomato hornworms… just saying.
-Then there’s blight, both early and late.
-Cat facing, blossom end rot, blossom drop… I could go on.

Smart tomato.

This volunteer has a vining squash supporting it. Clever.

Tomatoes are also invasive.
Any gardener who makes their own compost knows that all too well. Even gardeners who only grew one cherry tomato plant in a hanging basket know they will just keep coming back.

Potted volunteers.

Potted volunteers.

And another.

And another.

Still we don’t think of all the problems when spring rolls around. We just remember the flavor of a warm tomato fresh from the garden… even though it really only is what a tomato should taste like in the first place.

Is it really worth it?

Is it really worth it?

Tomatoes? Yeah, they are nothing more than a disease prone, weather sensitive, critter attracting weed, with a fruit so comparatively wonderful they can make even the most health conscious person think of eating white bread.

Yes. Yes it is.

Yes. Yes it is.

Which reminds me, I believe we’re out of mayo.

Categories: gardening people, places & things, you are what you eat


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Chicken on Sundays

“I can’t begin to fathom that” was SaveTheWorld‘s response when I was telling her how things were when I was a kid.

Lucy in the nest box.

Lucy in the nest box.

The conversation actually started when she asked me how my day at work was.

“It was pretty funny” I told her. The new woman was asking me about being a vegetarian. “If you don’t eat meat, what do you eat? I mean, meat is like the main part of every meal. I can’t imagine life without it.”
So I proceeded to tell her some of the dishes we prepare.

“Oh now that sounds pretty good.” she responded, “Actually, really good. I think I could become a vegetarian. I don’t like to think about what I’m eating and where it comes from. I can’t buy a whole chicken. At Thanksgiving my husband has to carve the meat off the turkey and put the carcass back in the oven before I can sit down to eat. If I saw the whole thing I wouldn’t be able to eat any of it.”

Robin and Cheesey

Robin and Cheesey

“That’s pretty funny,” STW said, “I bet if she met our chickens, or worse, knew about factory farms, that would put her over the edge.”

“Yes, it probably would. I’m not going to tell her though. I don’t bring things up unless someone asks me. Some people get very defensive when you talk about food. I will say those practices sure did get the price of chicken down though. When I was a kid, chicken was so expensive we only ate it on Sundays. Even then, the carcass would be tossed into a pot and used for soup or stew. Nothing went to waste, we couldn’t afford it. Monday through Thursday and Saturday were beef or pork. Of course, on Fridays we ate fish. But chicken, that was the long awaited treat.”



“I can’t begin to fathom that” she said, “I can’t imagine chicken costing more than beef. I don’t think it has been my whole life. You know what’s going to be interesting,” she continued, “is to see what happens with Sprout.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, he’ll be spending time here as he grows up. He’s already seen the Ladies. Next summer he’ll be big enough to hold one. What’s he going to think?”

“Oh, you may be right. I know a number of seniors who don’t eat chicken because they grew up with them. And he’ll be exposed to people who don’t eat meat at all. Hmmm, maybe his chicken on Sundays will be a visit to see the Ladies.”

Treats from the Ladies.

Treats from the Ladies.

Categories: factory farms, you are what you eat


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GMO Free

The simplest way to stop GMO and Monsanto is to stop buying their products.
Of course, since they are in 80% of our ‘food’ supply, that will take a little doing.

Currently there is a buzz about a list of ‘foods’ that are manufactured by companies owned by Monsanto. You can find that list here and print it out. Not giving them your money is a great start to financially stopping the production of GMO containing foods.

After seeing this list on Facebook, Barbara commented that she loved Bisquick. I’ll tell you the truth, we haven’t bought that product in years, simply because it is so easy to make your own.

I have not priced it out, but I bet making your own non-GMO mix is actually cheaper.

non gmo Bisquick

So here’s the recipe:

Non-Monsanto Biscuit Mix
8 cups non-GMO Flour
2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1/4 cup Baking Powder
2 Tbs. Sea Salt
1/4 cup Sugar (non-GMO or organic)
1/2 cup dry milk Here’s an organic option.

Mix all ingredients together, and store in a container with a tight lid.
You can increase this recipe if you want. Otherwise just use it the same way you would have used Bisquick.
We haven’t measured the wet ingredients for biscuits in years, but it’s about this much:

For each 2 cups of mix:
Cut in 4 oz. of butter until the consistency of cornmeal.
Mix together 1 egg and 3/4 cup water, slowly add to the dough.
Knead as you would for bread, layering the dough as you go. Use more flour if needed.
Cut with a biscuit cutter or glass dipped in flour.

Bake at 400F for 8-10 minutes.

Please note that this recipe is copyright protected, but feel free to share the link. The more people we can get to stop buying from Monsanto, the better!

Categories: GMO's, you are what you eat



3 Ways to Get Your Hands on GMO Seeds

A lot of confusion surrounds GMO seeds, as the term is now used in reference to Monsanto; and there are many gardeners concerned that they might buy some by accident.
That is simply not possible.

le garden

You won’t find GMO seeds this way.

Here’s what you would have to do to get it:

1. Buy a farm. Call up Monsanto and tell them you want to sign that long intense contract that even controls you and your crop after you stop growing GMO. Buy seeds from them, buy Round-up from them. Grow the crop, but don’t save any seeds, or they will sue you.

2. Buy land down wind from a farm that is growing GMO crops that are wind pollinated, like corn. Let them cross pollinate your non-GMO crop. Save the seeds. Just don’t let Monsanto find out, or they will sue you.

3. Buy GMO veggies at the store, like corn or zucchini. Save the seeds and replant. Chances are they won’t grow, because the seed is too immature to germinate. So what if Monsanto finds out? They might sue you anyway.

Here’s the thing to remember, Monsanto doesn’t want you to have their seeds without the contract. They are not in seed packets at your local Farm and Garden. They’re just not.

So usually when someone says they only grow non-GMO, what they probably mean is they are growing heirlooms and open pollinated, not hybrids.
But a hybrid is only a cross between a plant and a similar plant, like a tomato and another, slightly different, tomato. Bees do it naturally, and growers do it on purpose.
That’s okay.

A GMO is not plant to plant. It’s a tomato and a fish, or corn and E. Coli.
Really big difference.

The danger of foods containing GMO.

Categories: all about seeds, GMO's, you are what you eat



Spring is Sprung

It is said that in Pennsylvania there are four seasons:

Almost Winter
Still Winter
and Construction

This spring certainly seemed to agree.
But I found out recently there is a marking of springtime that I was not aware of.

Spring in Pennsylvania.

I had stopped in the local grocery very early in the morning to pick something up for work. They had their refrigerated produce section completely emptied out.
When I asked one of the staff what had happened, she told me that “They do this every year, in the spring. A guy from ‘main’ comes out and sets everything up. You know, the weather’s getting warm, everyone’s going to want watermelon.”
You got to love marketing.

Spring Produce Department

So I stopped back later and sure enough they were done.
Look how that produce just leans towards you, begging you to choose it. See how conveniently the bags are placed? Look how bright everything is!

Then I noticed something. That produce is similar in color to the red and orange plastic coolers above, and about as uniform in size. My produce isn’t that bright and it certainly doesn’t look all the same like that.

Did you know that groceries have a higher markup on produce than anything else?
That’s why most stores have the produce department right by the main entrance.

Don’t get taken by their ploys:
Eat real food.
Grow what you can.
Learn to preserve food.
Buy local.
Choose non-GMO and organic what you can afford.

Here’s a great link to the Certified Non-GMO Project with lists of foods that have been certified to be GMO free.
And here’s a cute video in case you need a little more motivation.

Oh yeah, and there is one more sign of spring:

A sign of Spring.

Categories: GMO's, you are what you eat



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