Monday, May 31, 2010

Giving up Pizza and Finding Friendship

This afternoon I was hanging out with some gluten-free, celiac friends and we got on the topic of pizza. My friend remarked how much they missed going out for pizza. Not even the pizza itself, but the easiness of grabbing a slice of pizza and not having to think about it. I was saying how nice it was for my kids to visit their house because they could eat the food and snacks that were on hand. Later, on the beach, we ended up discussing how many of our close friends we had met through our journey into this gluten free world that we would never have met if we had not had to deal with being gluten free. I realized that I had somehow traded the easy trip to the pizza place for many new, meaningful friendships. And although I miss regular pizza I have gotten something in return that was even more special--friendship.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Another Cute Quote

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day but most people treat it like dessert., "
-my daughter

Fun Fridays: Quote of the Week

At dinner last night, my daughter shared with us what she had said to her class while discussing my wellness fair theme "Shooting for Five Fruits and Vegetables a Day." I guess most of the kids thought it was impossible to eat five fruits and vegetables a day, so she added:

"I can't even eat five fruits or vegetables a day and I'm her daughter!"

May 26, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fruit and Vegetable Bean Bag Give Away!

















I made these fruit and vegetable bean bags for a Wellness Fair they are having at my daughter's school today. I needed three sets for a "shooting for 5 fruits and vegetables a day" bean bag toss and I am raffling one set off today just for fun. These bean bags are not sold in any stores and are only available here today!

My kids liked tossing them around and they look great in a glass bowl in the kitchen. They are kind of fun PR for eating healthy allowing picky eaters to slowly get familiar with the look of fruits and vegetables in a non threatening environment (because they aren't afraid they are going to end up on their plate!) Thisgive away is totally a late night whim. The bean bags are stuffed with lentils--and while they are not meant for human consumption--my dog actually ate a few of them. So, keep them away from your dog if you think your dog might be a fan of lentils. If you want to make your own fruit and vegetable bean bags, let me know and I will post directions.

Win it! One reader will win a set of FIVE bean bag fruits and vegetables!

1) Leave a comment mentioning the five fruits and vegetables that you serve or your kids eat most often (must include at least two vegetables). Leave your comment on THIS post (click on "comments" below).
2) Post your comment by 11:59pm EST on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010.
3) You may leave up to 3 separate entries- 1 entry with a comment as described in #1, 1 entry with a link to where you have blogged about this giveaway, 1 entry with your Twitter name if you have tweeted about this giveaway.
4) One winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) and announced on Thursday morning, June 3rd, 2010.
5) NOTE: If you wish to be contacted by e-mail if you win, please include your e-mail address in your comment. Otherwise you must check back on Thursday, June 3rd at 12 pm. If the prize is NOT claimed within 72 hours, the next random winner (using Random.org) will be contacted.

GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You, Your Child and The Internet: How to Keep Kids Safe

I just returned from a panel discussion given by the Community Affairs Division of the District Attorney on dangers on the internet. Several detectives and lawyers spoke about the risks for kids of being online. The major message I learned was:

Trust your child but verify what is happening. Tell them "I trust you. If something does happen I am here to help you."

Make sure the computer is centrally located in your house so that you can monitor what is happening. And while you know what they are doing at your house, what are they doing when they are visiting a friend's house?

Educate yourself on what they are doing--learn the technology they are using. Set up a Facebook account and learn to tweet if they are using these technologies. Use netlingo.com if you don't understand what they are saying.

Of course, educate them to NEVER put their first or last name as email address. Don't tell people online where you are from. Don't tell them your school. Don't send out photos of yourself to people you don't know. Don't ever respond to a request to meet in person. Don't respond to unsolicited email asking you for account information. Don't post plans like where you will be on sites.

LET THEM KNOW:
SAVE everything. If they get a mean email or a compromising picture. They should SAVE the email. There is a tendency to destroy it but a compromising picture or mean email is evidence and they will not get in trouble IF they tell their parents and their parents tell the authorities. This is not for the purpose of prosecution. They want to stop these kinds of emails from being forwarded. Tell them they should not forward the picture/email to ANYONE because you/they can be charged with trafficking indecent material of a minor if you continue to forward. They should call authorities. While these things might seem minor their have been instances of kids killing themselves because of pictures/posts/emails and it is not something to take lightly.

ON FACEBOOK:
Facebook, the company, recommends that teens be 16 to get a Facebook account. If your kids do use Facebook, DEMAND that you set up the account for them AND make sure you have your own account and you are friends with them so you can view content. Don't add people to your friends list that you don't know. More information can be found at GetNetWise.org Facebook Privacy Information.

If you want to have the District Attorney's Office come speak to a group of parents or a separate group of children (usually 6th grade and above) about internet safety or cyber bullying you can find the number of the Office of Community Affairs at the District Attorney's Office and have the school or PTA contact them to make arrangements. In New York City, the number is (212)864-7884 to arrange for this kind of presentation.

Here are some links they mentioned with more information:
NetSmartzKids.org
CarnegieCyberAcademy.com
Tweenangels.com
How To Provide Parental Guidance on the Web in the NYTimes

Monday, May 24, 2010

Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom


I just added Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom to my blog roll on the right. Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom is a blog by a mother with celiac who has struggled to help her children who have symptoms of celiac and ambiguous test results. Her blog has a ton of information--and right now she is hosting a giveaway and is giving away five copies of one of my favorite books--Dangerous Grains. Leave a comment on her post: Understanding Conflicting Celiac test Results (and a Giveaway!) to enter the contest.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Foods that Help with Metal Detoxification and Reducing Yeast

Fresh fruits and vegetables increase glutathione which is a sticky molecule that escorts the toxins from the body. Fresh juice from fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to increase detoxification. In addition, fresh juice does not promote an increase of yeast growth like processed juices. I got out my juicer and started juicing when I realized my son needed nutrients after he got sick. Later, I learned that it also helped turn an important detoxification pathway on. Also, yeast can grow on undigested food, so if digestion is an issue then the fresh juice doesn't require as much breakdown by the body. In general, juice does contain a lot of sugar, but it is also alkalizing and is packed with nutrients, so in certain individuals who need nutrition and detoxification assistance, it is an excellent option. Because the sugar does not promote yeast in the way that processed juice does, it was okay for my kids who were very sensitive to sugar when they had issues with yeast overgrowth. We mostly drink water now, but juice was an important part of the healing protocol I used for my son.

Garlic and onions contain sulfur which turns on one of the two detoxification pathways called the sulfation pathway. I used a lot of garlic and onions when I cooked for my son. He was 18 months old at the time so I cooked with garlic whenever possible. I used fresh garlic in tomato sauce, tacos and fried rice. The tacos and fried rice also included onions which are also high in sulfur. Garlic is also a natural antibiotic and antimicrobial food so it also helped discourage yeast. Epsom salts also contain sulfate which the body needs for sulfation so epsom salt baths can also turn on this detoxification pathway.

Another food I used to help him was coconut oil which has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. You might think that it has a strong flavor, but if you put a little garlic in it when you begin cooking savory foods, you don't taste the coconut flavor. For sweet baked items it works very well and you don't notice the taste and it helps to prevent the yeast from proliferating. Because yeast grows in the presence of sugar I make sure to use coconut oil in baking to offset the growth of yeast.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Back To Basics: Getting Kids to Eat Healthier Food

Just came from the New Taste of the Upper West Side conversation about healthy eating in the schools. What an amazing panel of food writers, chefs, a doctor and a newscaster--even Mr. Goldstein from the Board of Education took part in the discussion. Ellie Krieger, host of the Food Network hit, "Healthy Appetite" who shares a lot of the same vision that I have was also there. I will write more on the panel discussion later, but one quote that really stuck out:

"What you eat as a child has a bigger impact on your risk of cancer than what you eat for the rest of your life."

--Joel Furman, M.D.

So with that in mind below are links to basic information on feeding kids healthy homemade food...

ON GETTING KIDS TO EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGGIES:

Snack Trays
Fresh, Raw Food--An Important Source of Glutathione
Beyond "Eat Your Peas"--Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables
How To Get A Picky Eater To Eat
A Vegetable Plate and Veggie Sandwiches
Easy "Homemade" Fresh Pickles Recipe
Food Rotating for Picky Eaters
Fun Fridays: A Fruit Plate
Our Family FUN Dinner

ON PROCESSED FOOD:
Goldfish, Allergies and Reading Labels
Processed Food Versus Homemade Food
"New Alarm Bells about Chemicals and Cancer" in the NYT
Chemicals in Our Food--Old and New
For Children Now, Snack Time Never Ends in the NYT
The Dangers of Processed Food

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My thoughts on "Food Allergies Overestimated"

A new study points out that "food allergies are overestimated," The New York Times reported in their article "Doubt Is Cast on Many Reports of Food Allergies." But a careful reading of this article reveals that it is the testing itself that often overestimates food allergies leading many people to believe they have allergies which they may have outgrown or not have at all. But, this article is only discussing IgE food allergies--the kind that you can die from immediately.

Several allergists determined my son had "no food allergies" and that he was fine. But that was because his inability to digest gluten was not a immediate type IgE allergy--it was a sensitivity to gluten caused by the genes for celiac which destroyed his gut and altered his ability to tolerate many foods. After two doctors told me my son didn't have any allergies, the GI doctor finally found the genes for celiac which explained why he had gone from the 95% of weight to the 5% of weight after we introduced gluten (wheat) and dairy into his diet. Technically, he didn't have a life threatening IgE allergy. One doctor even told me, "we have a death and disease model" meaning if you are not going to die from something immediately after eating it, it isn't a problem. But my son was wasting away and his brain was starving for nutrients. And if I hadn't changed his diet he would have a serious, lifelong developmental problem. But, technically, he didn't have an IgE allergy. Celiac is actually a gluten intolerance which causes an autoimmune disease--it is not a true allergy. The protein from gluten causes the villi in the stomach to be stripped away so nutrients can not be absorbed and the person is starving for nutrients. Celiac is often overlooked by allergists because you will not die from it after consuming the food. You will die years later from cancer because you didn't absorb nutrients, and you might be infertile and unable to carry a baby because you don't have enough nutrients to support a fetus. You will have chronic, unexplained problems for years and yes, technically, you will be allergic to nothing even though gluten is causing your body to attack itself and not absorb nutrients.

Allergists missed my daughter's obvious celiac signs as well as my son's and by listening to allergists, I watched my son get sicker and sicker until we finally learned that they were talking about a specific type of allergy they can easily test for. After getting better on a gluten free diet, another doctor finally gave my son a diagnosis of "allergy syndrome." Another doctor finally found the genes for celiac.

The article actually makes me mad because it simplifies an issue that is incredibly complex and makes it sound like the issues that people have with food are in their head. It takes the average person with celiac 11 years to get diagnosed. These people can have severe problems ranging from chronic stomach aches, infertility to learning disorders all caused by their inablity to digest gluten. Interestingly, chronic digestive problems and lactose intolerance are frequent problems for the undiagnosed celiac. Furthermore, more and more doctors are recognizing gluten intolerance as a disorder with profound physical and neurological consequences such as arthritis, migraines, and ADHD.

Yes, technically these people say they have allergies and they don't--but they have very real symptoms and those with celiac have a disease that is life threatening caused by a reaction to a specific food. Also, just because there isn't a test for something does not mean it doesn't exist. IgE testing is limited. Although IgE tests do pick up allergies that don't exist they don't pick up the food sensitivities which are causing real, chronic problems for many people. Just because IgE allergies are overestimated doesn't mean the many, many people who get sick from eating food are not having a real reaction to food. Their reactions just aren't IgE mediated. There is also a gastro allergy which is incredibly difficult to test for because the allergy is happening inside the gastrointestinal system. This disease, which is considered incredibly rare, but isn't as rare as it once was, often takes years to diagnose.

The article says that 25% of the population who thinks they have food allergies don't actually have food allergies. What they are neglecting to say is how many of them have been told they have IgE allergies that don't really exist? How many of them get sick from food and think they have allergies, but the allergies might be a food intolerance, which they don't have a test or a name for? How many of them have early signs of celiac and can't digest lactose and think they have an allergy to milk?

Also, they did a food challenge with my son with dairy and determined he wasn't allergic to dairy. But it was because he was intolerant of BOTH gluten and dairy. He did not get better when we removed dairy from his diet. But when we removed both gluten and dairy he finally got better. I almost lost my son listening to allergists. I just wished I had known how little they actually knew about allergies--as well as how little they know about celiac.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hiking Near NYC: Ward Pound Ridge Reservation


On Saturday, we drove to the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Pound Ridge, New York and took a hike on the 1.5 mile orange trail. The greenness of spring was apparent as we drove up 87 and 684 a little more than an hour from New York City to the park.

When we got to the reservation our first stop was the two room Trailside Nature Museum which had an exhibit of skulls and facts about the area as well as stuffed animals (both the toys and the taxidermic mounts of local wildlife.) There was also a pretend tree trunk to play in, in a kid friendly room. The museum has educational programs on various days. On the day of our visit, there was a tour of the flower garden, which we did not go on because it was the one area that didn’t allow dogs and we had brought ours.

Next, we took a short hike on the orange trail which was about an hour long. The first thing we found on the orange trail was a remarkable bark enclosed igloo shaped structure. Half way into the hike we sat at a stream and enjoyed some apples and the peaceful trickling water from the stream. Towards the end of the walk, we saw some wonderful campsites (numbers 29-25) and enjoyed some Snickerdoodle GLOW gluten free cookies I had brought along for a treat. The campsites nearest to the playground were the nicest as they had adjacent fields of green.For overnight stays at the campgrounds, you can make reservations for campsites in person or three weeks prior to your visit by mail. The playground for the kids, near the end of our hike, was a nice ending to our hike and must be nice for families visiting the campground. The orange trail is a great hike for kids a short distance from NYC.

For more information and directions go to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation Info.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Authentic Foods Flour and Nutritious Gluten Free Flours


Authentic Foods All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour GF Classical Blend is a finely milled flour mix you can use to replace traditional all-purpose flour. With a little added xanthum gum to replace the sticky gluten found in traditional flour, you can make any recipe gluten free without compromising taste. I discovered Authentic Foods Flour after I purchased Annalise Roberts Gluten Free Baking Classics, which is my favorite cookbook for gluten free baked goods. The GF Classical Blend is based on the flour mix she recommends. Authentic Foods even has my favorite GF vanilla cupcake recipe from her cookbook on their website.

Another great flour to have on hand is the Superfine Brown Rice Flour. Brown rice flour from other brands I have tried are too coarsely milled which gives baked goods a grainy consistency totally unlike traditional baked goods. I prefer to use Authentic Foods flour whenever I can to avoid this grainy texture found in other brands sold in supermarkets. The brown rice flour is more nutritious than white flour and if you buy it from Authentic Foods it is just as tasty as any white rice flour.

If you are trying to use more nutritious gluten-free flours, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa and millet flour all have more nutritious profiles than rice flour. But, they are tricky to use because they each have unique taste. Once you are familiar with the flour it is easy to figure out which one can be used in which recipe. I find that buckwheat, which is a darker flour, tends to work well in brownies or items which are naturally darker in color. Quinoa works well in baked goods if you use brown sugar instead of white sugar or in savory dishes where the pronounced flavor is appreciated. Here is a link to flour nutrition facts which shows how the different flours compare to each other.

Related links:
Gluten-Free Wrap Recipe (made with quinoa flour)
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (made with garbanzo bean and fava flour)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

All About Iodine and Common Food Sources

Iodine is a trace mineral needed by the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormone. Too little iodine in the body can cause a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid,) hypothyroidism, and lead to problems in infants and children who were iodine deficient during pregnancy. According to The World's Healthiest Foods: goiter, fatigue, weakness, and depression can all indicate a need for more high-iodine foods. The New York Times article "Neanderthal or Cretin? A Debate over Iodine" is an interesting read about one geographer view "that that little more than the amount of iodine in their diets may have been responsible for the physical differences between Neanderthals and modern humans." Table salt is fortified as a protective measure to make sure that everyone gets enough iodine.

According to the American Thyroid Association, sources of iodine are:
  • bread
  • cheese
  • cow's milk
  • eggs
  • frozen yogurt
  • ice cream
  • iodine containing multivitamins
  • iodized table salt
  • saltwater fish
  • seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori) shellfish
  • soy milk
  • soy sauce
  • yogurt
But, many foods that contain iodine contain gluten or casein, so they would not be foods a child on a gluten free/casein free diet would be consuming regularly. Individual iodine supplementation is tricky, because although it is a necessity for the thyroid, the body adjusts to the amount that it gets regularly and will absorb more if less is taken in. This is a protective measure but it also makes supplementation tricky. Too much iodine can cause a dangerous thyroid storm. A doctor suggested that my kids take thyroid from kelp and they did not do well on kelp supplementation. Instead, they do better with a multivitamin which contains iodine and plain old table salt. I had switched to sea salt thinking it was more natural and therefore healthier. It is more natural and it is probably healthier, in some ways, but it wasn't healthier for my kids, who needed the iodine.

I bring this up because many people report that their children do better on a gluten free casein free diet initially, but then the effects wear off. Consuming a multivitamin with iron and iodized table salt can insure that a child on a GF/CF diet is getting enough iodine as well as other necessary vitamins and minerals. Because iodine is not something that is usually tested in an individual, consuming a few of the common sources of iodine is the easiest way to insure supplementation.

Supplementation individually with iodine requires working with a nutritionist or doctor with an understanding of the dangers of thyroid storms, a lot of research and watching for side effects. It is NOT a do it yourself undertaking and not recommended in usual circumstances. Although iodine is essential to good health, it is also a poison in large amounts. Like many things we encounter every day--including water "The dose makes the poison." Even under the supervision of a doctor, individual supplementation with iodine can be tricky--this is because even though you need iodine, the amount you need on a daily basis (about 1/100 of a drop) is difficult to get through an individual supplement.

My daughter still does best taking 3 Hero Multivitamin and Mineral Yummi Bears every day which contain iodine and are gluten and casein free. Three bears contain 75 micrograms of iodine which is 110% of the daily value for kids under four and 50% of the daily value for kids over the age of four. I know gummies are terrible for your teeth, so she takes them in the morning right before she brushes her teeth. She would actually rather NOT take these and feels she is too old for them, but we haven't found a suitable replacement so we have both decided that she will continue to take them.

What I have learned is that people should do what works for them and their families. Everyone is different and has different nutritional needs.

The Hero Yummi Bears are Yeast Free and contain No Wheat, No Milk, No Egg, No Gluten, No Salt, No Artificial Colors, No Artificial Flavors, No Preservatives, No Salicylates. But they DO contain: glucose syrup, natural cane juice, gelatin, citric acid, lactic acid, natural colors added(including black carrot, annatto, turmeric and purple berry concentrate), natural flavors (strawberry, orange, pineapple, cherry, lemon and grape), fractionated coconut oil and carnauba wax to help prevent sticking. A child sensitive to any of the ingredients that are present might do well on another supplement.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gluten Free Wrap Recipe


My dad spent two years perfecting my almond cracker recipe to create a wonderful wrap that you can use for sandwiches or snacks. It is great for breakfast burritos. The dough is soft and easy to roll into a paper thin tortilla that will stay soft enough to roll if you don't over bake it. This is a wrap with a wonderful taste you can't find in any store. He likes the quinoa flour because it is a high quality protein flour which is a complete protein, but you can experiment with any leftover flour you might have on hand as long as you keep the cup of potato flour and cup of rice flour.

  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1 cup potato flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons Spectrum Organic Shortening
  • 3 teaspoons of xanthum gum powder
  • 1 package gelatin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
Mix all DRY ingredients really well in a bowl with a big spoon and then a whisk.

Dissolve 2 teaspoons shortening (preferably Spectrum) in 3/4 cup water by heating slightly on stove in a small pan.

Put dry ingredients in a food processor. Add shortening/water mixture. Mix in processor, stopping from time to time to press down dough into bottom of food processor. Stop to add additional water a small amount at a time. Keep mixing until dough forms into a ball. Removed dough from procesor.

Form dough into balls with 1/3-1/2 cup of dough about the size of an ice cream scoop. Press into a flat pancake dusted underneath with some flour. Roll out from center between two pieces of parchment paper with rolling pin--dusting if necessary to keep from sticking to paper. Keep rolling until it is as flat as a tortilla or wrap (about 10 inches round circle.) At this point you can bake it or if you want it to be a perfect circle, put a 9 inch plate or bowl upside down over the dough and trace the edge of the plate/bowl with a sharp paring knife to form a circle shape.

Bake at 400 degrees until wrap just starts to brown (about 6-8 minutes depending on thickness of dough.) Check frequently at the end of cooking since it can easily over bake and become a cracker.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Horseboy on PBS Tonight at 10 pm

The Horse Boy is on PBS tonight at 10 pm for those who couldn't make the S.N.A.C.K. benefit. This is the story of one family who took their son with autism to Mongolia to visit a shamanic healer. It is a very inspiring movie of the lengths parents will go to in order to help their children cope with this devastating, baffling disorder. PBS has it listed as "Independent Lens."

Cooking Brown Rice

Cooking brown rice and getting kids to eat it is a struggle for many parents--but it is actually quite easy if you use my method which involves soaking the brown rice in hot water for 30 minutes before cooking the rice. Soaking the grain of rice, softens the outside layer making it easier to cook and more appealing to kids. Brown rice contains both the bran and the germ which are rich in vitamins, which is why white rice is not as nutritious. Although soaking brown rice takes extra time, it is easier than getting picky eaters to brown rice cooked the traditional way.

2 cups water
1 cup rice
pinch of salt

Put the brown rice and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Allow to sit for 15-30 minutes.Then return to boil. Turn down flame to low and simmer for 45 minutes until rice is cooked and all the liquid is absorbed. Turn off and let sit for a few minutes, if time allows. Serve.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Cards and Coupons

Coupons and cards are a tradition in our family. This year my son made me a coupon that said

TO: MOM
DO YOU WANT
ME TO HELP
YOU COOK ON
MOTHER'S DAY?

My daughter's card read:

Happy Mothers day!!!
this is your lucky day
This is your lucky dollar
(she made a pocket and put a dollar in it)
I (picture of a heart) you Mom!

An coupon or card is the ultimate "It's the thought that counts." It allows kids to simply experience giving without partaking in the commercialization of holidays. I have many fond memories of making coupons and cards when I was growing up as well as my mom suggesting "Why don't you make a coupon?"

Gifts are fun when you open them, but we all have too much stuff and often gifts don't last more than a season. Coupons and cards allow you to bypass the stuff and cut right to the giving.

I love the cards that my kids gave me and the simplicity of a homemade mother's day.

--->GQ article on the Dangers of Cell Phones<---

I know I am sounding like a broken record but in case you didn't get a chance to read this article in GQ about the dangers of cell phones, now is your chance!
--->GQ article on the Dangers of Cell Phones<---
update...It's not easy to give up wireless technology, even when you are completely convinced. I did have one ten minute cell phone call to my in -aws about grandparents day (where they busted me for using my cell phone) and a three hour car ride was almost torture without being on my cell phone. I had to place a few short calls and then I discovered speakerphone which I am told is the best way to use the cell phone if you have to. Speakerphone allows you to keep the phone away from your head and at a short distance from your body. It also has the added benefit of keeping the conversation short because it's hard for everyone to hear. Anyway, moving from a wired to a "wireless whenever possible" existence is pretty difficult and almost unnatural in a world of facebook and twitter and cell phones. But we all can be a little less connected and the world will still keep turning.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How to Roast a Chicken


There are all sorts of ways to roast a chicken. I have found the easiest is to unwrap the chicken and rinse the chicken off with cold water and pat dry. Then sprinkle salt and pepper on the inside and outside. Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 2 hours and...your done. It is really quite easy and effortless. I like to put a 4 to 5 pound chicken in at 3:30 in the afternoon so it is done by 5:30. Then I like to give it 20 minutes to rest. You can pop a few potatoes in the oven for an hour and a half for a side dish if you poke the potatoes with a knife or a fork. You can also put a few veggies around the chicken if you like roast vegetables. Roast chicken and potatoes are automatically gluten free--especially if they are homemade. If you want more precise times you can look at helpwithcooking.com which has times for roasting chickens according to size. The potatoes take about one and a half hours but I find it is fine to leave them in with the chicken. Tonight I served a roast chicken with potatoes and artichokes, which are in season, and also easy to make.

Related posts:
Chicken Stock Recipe Inspired by Julia Child
How to Cook Artichokes
Rao's Famous Lemon Chicken
Gluten Free Shake and Bake Chicken
Pan Seared Chicken with Bay Leaf Sauce
Summertime Chicken Tacos

Friday, May 7, 2010

"New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer" in the NYT

The New York Times reported about a new 200 page report released by the President's Cancer Panel in an article titled "New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer." According to the article:
"The President’s Cancer Panel suggests other eye-opening steps as well, such as giving preference to organic food, checking radon levels in the home and microwaving food in glass containers rather than plastic.

In particular, the report warns about exposures to chemicals during pregnancy, when risk of damage seems to be greatest. Noting that 300 contaminants have been detected in umbilical cord blood of newborn babies, the study warns that: “to a disturbing extent, babies are born ‘pre-polluted.’ ”
I am impressed that the panel came to these conclusions and is finally giving people steps they can take to possibly prevent cancer. We have spent too long diagnosing and treating a problem which needs a solution. We have "approximately 100,000 chemicals in commercial use" (www.EPA.gov) and scientific research is all too often contradictory. But, as time goes by, we discover many of these chemicals once considered safe are actually harmful. And it is important to take action and err on the side of safety especially when it comes to children.

Related posts:
Xenoestrogens and Breast Cancer: Why We Need to Change the Way We Live
BPA Was First Used as a Synthetic Estrogen
Spring Cleaning Homemade Cleaning Recipes from Green Mama
Chemicals in our Food: Old and New

Fun Friday: Great Gift Ideas

In truth, I am probably a better receiver of gifts than I am a gift giver. My husband itsactually the star gift giver in our family. I am often late with gifts--sorry HB! But, I have had some successes and I have gotten some great gifts I wanted to share these. Feel free to comment with your favorite gift ideas.

My favorite GIFT IDEAS:

Franklin Table Tennis Kit $13.00
A flower cake my husband sent me with a card "It's a FLOWER cake not a FLOUR cake!"
The Rainy Day Indoor Playground--an expensive splurge for kids but well worth it--especially in a city apartment
For kids: anything that comes in a GIFT HERO bag
For the cook: Rachel Ray Furi Stainless Steel Knife--this is plastic but I do love it!
For a newborn: Ribbie Romper from Hannah Anderson in Organic Cotton
For a host: custom stamp from Three Designing Women
Hang out time at the Great Jones Spa Water Lounge in NYC
Babysitting is a great gift for any parent
Flowers, of course!
For the gluten free traveler: Gluten free goodies delivered to your destination when traveling--hard to pull off but very impressive.
A bottle of a sparkling organic beverage with a ribbon
A cherry pitter and a bag of cherries in a colander

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Dangers of Electromagnetic Radiation Part 2


I was so convinced about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, routers and DECT* phones, that I turned off my router, plugged my computer into the modem and took both kids to Staples today to buy two AT&T phones that had cords. I also purchased a 25 foot handset coil cord and a 100 foot cord so my wired phone could function very much like a cordless phone and be dragged around the house wherever I need to be. It is very retro and back to the future at my house. And, like going gluten free, it is kind of fun if you can spring for a new phone and a bunch of cords--and just go with it.

If I seem off my rocker and a little too enthusiastic about abandoning my WiFi and cellular technology as much as possible, I am in good company. According to an article from GQ magazine titled "Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health."

"The concern about Wi-Fi is being taken seriously in Europe. In April 2008, the national library of France, citing possible "genotoxic effects," announced it would shut down its Wi-Fi system, and the staff of the storied Library of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris followed up with a petition demanding the disconnection of Wi-Fi antennas and their replacement by wired connections. Several European governments are already moving to prohibit Wi-Fi in government buildings and on campuses, and the Austrian Medical Association is lobbying for a ban of all Wi-Fi systems in schools, citing the danger to children's thinner skulls and developing nervous systems."

Read the article in GQ magazine for more information. The thing is, even if your kids don't use a cell phone, they are exposed to this electromagnetic radiation through Wi-Fi/routers and cell phone towers. Of course, not everyone is in danger. Some people are more sensitive than others. But until there is more science on the risks we need to ere on the side of caution--especially when it comes to our kids. I also worry about the many NYC schools which have installed Wi-Fi in their haste to keep up with other schools.

My neighbor has a machine that measures the amount of electromagnetic radiation in a room. According to the machine she has, a safe environment is under 1,900 units. With my router and DECT phone and two computers which had airports on, my office was registering 9,000 units. But as soon as I unplugged the router and DECT phone and turned off the airports on my computers, it went down to 300.

Thanks H.R. for my new wired existence. I don't expect everyone to abandon their cellular connections, but Huffington Post has a great article called "The Unplug and Recharge Challenge: Breaking Our Always-Connected Addiction" that might inspire some to unplug for 30 minutes a day.

* DECT (digitally enhanced cordless phone)

Related posts:
The Dangers of Cell Phone Usage and Towers
Highest and Lowest Cell Phone Radiation from CNET
Reducing Cell Phone Radiation

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cashew Milk Recipe

This cashew milk is out of this world delicious and creamy. I made this nut milk with my Vita-mix which breaks down the cell walls of food allowing for great absorption of vitamins and minerals. A Vita-mix is an expensive investment, but it really produces the creamiest nut milk and saves you from buying and consuming nut milk with added ingredients. Homemade nut milk is full of protein and healthy fats and very satisfying. I made this milk with 1 tablespoon agave and a sprinkle of stevia. A friend who tried it said "It tastes like cereal milk--from milk that is left over after you eat a bowl of cereal." Which is exactly what it tastes like. If you don't like "cereal milk" you can cut back on the sweetener.

1 cup raw cashews
2 tablespoon agave
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups of water

Put everything in a vitamix or blender. Blend on low and gradually increase speed until on full speed. Blend on highest speed for 2 minutes. Strain in a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth or a nut milk bag from oneluckyduck.com. Chill for 2 hours. Serve.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Dangers of Cell Phone Usage and Towers

I plan on being a lot more unreachable in the future--not because of a faraway trip I'm taking--but because I attended an event last week about the dangers of cell phone radiation emitted from towers, cellular phones and cordless phones. I have decided to move from wireless to wired communication whenever possible. At the gathering, led by Camilla Rees, founder of ElectromagneticHealth.org, we watched a film called Full Signal which was an overview of the issue of cell phone radiation.

I learned is there is a federal law, pushed forward by the telecom lobby, called the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that prohibits any person from objecting to a cell phone tower because of health reasons.(1) It takes away state and local governments rights to limit towers because of health or environmental law. There is also an assumption that things that are around us have been found to be safe. But that assumption is wrong when it comes to cell phones. There are no studies on the safety of cell phones. The levels that have been determined to be safe were determined by engineers and cell phone companies--not by scientists and medical doctors concerned about health. Basically, cell phones are considered safe if they don't microwave/heat the tissues in your brain. But there is a growing body of evidence that cell phones can cause both single and double DNA breaks. Single DNA breaks can be repaired. Double DNA breaks cannot be repaired. This electromagnetic radiation may be a factor in everything from cancer to autism to infertility.

It sounds quite unbelievable, I know. How could we be living in the midst of such danger? How could a technology which seems so indispensable be such a threat to ourselves and our children?

And it's not just cellular technology that is dangerous. It's also wireless phones that are used as landlines--especially those featuring DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications.)

I sit here now with pen in hand determined not to put my head in the sand about this one. Of course, I need to connect to post. But do I need to connect all the time? Do I need to connect wirelessly? The answer is no and no.

I can have the phone company come in and wire rooms that don't have telephone jacks in them. I can turn off my router and turn my cell phone on airplane mode whenever possible. I can plug my computer into the modem and forgo wi-fi in my house.

And one bonus of living on the ground floor of an apartment building is that I am far from any cell towers. It is pretty much a cell phone free zone unless you stand close to a window.

The movie, Full Signal, was a little sensationally done with frightening music and less substance than I would have hoped for. But it was eye opening, worth seeing and I think, brings attention to an issue that doesn't get enough attention. The most amazing part of Full Signal was how one town in Israel called Usfiyeh, decided it wanted to ban cell phone towers when a member of the town council figured out that a map of the escalating cancer cases and a map of the cell towers were a perfect match. A rabbi, a priest and a muslim clergy all signed a document saying that cell phone towers were against scripture law--and then they banned all towers from the town and the religious leaders issued a ruling excommunicating anyone who rented space for a cellular antenna. Usfiyeh remains one of the only places in Israel with no cellular coverage.

According to GreenProphet.com:
"Two recent studies, for example, showed that proximity to cell phone towers increases cancer rates. In Germany, data gathered from 1000 patients over a 10-year period found a three-fold increase newly diagnosed cases of those living within 400 meters of the mobile phone tower. There is no heavy industry in the same area or other factors that would account for the increase in cancer rate. They also found that the new cases developed, on average, eight years earlier.

The second study, carried out by Tel Aviv University, found over a four-fold increased risk for cancer for those living within 350 meters of a tower, with 7 out of 8 cases being women." (2)
Of course, the science is very minimal on this issue and until it is we can only play it safe--for ourselves and our children.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
(1) http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2009/02/385930.shtml
(2) http://www.greenprophet.com/2009/10/08/12539/nimby-cell-phones-radiation-towers/

Monday, May 3, 2010

Meatless Mondays!

I have heard David Kirby, author of Animal Factory, speak a few times in the last few weeks. There are several ways he mentioned that individuals can shift toward being more conscious consumers of meat. For those unable to go completely vegetarian, having a "Meatless Monday!" is a great step toward consuming less meat--which is healthier for the environment and for individuals. SustainableTable.org also has an Eat Well Guide where you can find stores and butchers that sell organic, humanely raised and pasture raised meat.

Here are the things I am serving this Monday at my house:
There are several reasons for families to eat less meat. One is that the huge demand for meat in this country is one of the reasons behind the growth of animal factories which are a huge environmental problem. These non-sustainable animal factories produce lagoons of animal waste which pollutes farmland and rivers and creates a huge environmental problem for the future. According to a New York Times article Rethinking the Meat Guzzler, Americans "process (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year." A byproduct of this is that "livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation." Cows raised in these animal factories are fed grain instead of grass which causes them to gain weight faster. The unnatural, concentration camp setting these cows and pigs are raised in leads to so many health problems that antibiotics are often required. Yet another reason to consider Meatless Mondays a routine event for anyone concerned about our environment and health.