Category — Kid’s nutrition
My blog software has a function that tells me what search terms bring people to my website. Despite the numerous entries I have written on health, children, pregnancy, and nutrition, the #1 search term that brings people to my site is still “the benefits of bacon”!!! This tells me that even if I posted the cure for cancer, the answer for world peace, or the quantum formula for staying young forever naturally, you people would all just scroll down until you found more info on bacon. And that is why I love you. So, to give the people what they want I thought I should share with you the bizarre discovery that I made last night – the best way to cook bacon is in water!
I buy the natural, nitrate-free bacon in bulk at the Whole Foods butcher counter because it is $8.99/pound versus $8.99/ half-pound shrink-wrapped package in the cooler. The only downside to this is that the butcher counter bacon is like 3 times thicker than normal bacon which means I either cook it for a ridiculously long time on low heat resulting in a not-burned but rock hard carbonized piece of bacon or I cook it at higher heat for less time which results in partially charred bacon with completely raw fat. Neither of these options helps my reputation for burning food, which started in college when I set a piece of toast on fire in a friend’s toaster oven and which continues to current day with my toddler staring up at me with his big eyes and furrowed eyebrows while I cook, pointing at the pan and saying repeatedly, “Mommy it’s buh-ning, it’s buh-ning.” Parenting is hard enough without the commentary, thank you very much! So last night, planning BLT’s for dinner, I decided to get educated and googled “best way to cook bacon” while nursing my 6-month old (really, what did we do before smart phones? Figure things out on our own?). I found this video:
If you don’t have time for the 1-minute video or if you’re at work and shouldn’t be reading this blog in the first place let alone watching a video about bacon on company time, here’s the summary:
- Put bacon in skillet, cover with water (like 1-2″ of water).
- Heat on high until water boils, then turn down to medium high.
- Once water has evaporated turn to medium low and keep cooking until bacon is to your liking.
The results were perfect! The bacon was crispy, not burned, and so good that my toddler and I ate almost all of it before my husband came home from work so I had to pretend like grass-fed hamburgers with bacon crumbles (made from the 1 piece of bacon left after our mother-son bacon rampage) were what I was planning for dinner all along. Poor guy.
September 10, 2012 1 Comment
For those of you who have last-minute holiday gifts to take care of, here are a few of my favorites. They can all be purchased online so you don’t have to fight the crowds. And if you happen to live on an island in the middle of the Pacific or some other remote place that won’t receive your shipped items before the desired date, you can always cut out a photo of the item and tape it into a card with a note saying it will arrive soon. Happy holidays!
For the creative, health-conscious chef in your life, a copy of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. This is my favorite cookbook and even when I’m not cooking I like to read through the informational tidbits in the sidebars of the book.
College students, bachelors, and busy people who tend to eat on the go can all benefit from a basic set of glass storage containers like the ones pictured above by Pyrex. What seems like a boring gift can be spiced up with the knowledge that you are saving the recipient from countless amounts of exposure to hormone-altering plastic compounds found in most other food storage containers. So it’s actually an exciting and scandalous gift for their reproductive health – a must-have for every bachelorette party registry!
A very creative and healthy gift idea is to buy someone a membership into a CSA (community supported agriculture) program in their area. Just visit the Local Harvest CSA page and type in the desired zip code to find a nearby CSA. Most CSA programs function on a weekly or monthly basis and make boxes containing a variety of seasonal produce available to their members. Depending on the CSA programs available in your area, you can buy a one-week trial membership for $15-20 or a longer membership if desired. This type of gift is better for someone with some kitchen experience (especially with obscure vegetables). Weekly boxes of leafy greens, kohlrabi, radishes, and spaghetti squash might be a little overwhelming for the novice cook!
For the sparkling water lover in your life, try this soda maker with glass carafe. It’s a little pricey up front, but in the long run it will save money and space in your recycling bin (I suggest buying this for someone in your house so you can reap the benefits also!). If you need more reasons to make your own sparkling water at home rather than buying it from a company, just watch the documentary Flow and see the impact bottled water has on the environment, indigenous cultures, and our health. After I watched that movie I had no choice but to give up my beloved boxes of San Pellegrino water from Costco!
December 20, 2011 No Comments
As a person who can never turn down free kitchen gadgets from friends who are moving or trying to get rid of clutter, I have assembled a collection of those 16 ounce “Little Dipper” crockpots for ants that come free with the normal size crockpots. Each time I accept another free tiny crockpot, it is wrapped in the original packaging, which means that my friend never used it in all the years they had it in their possession. Despite this, I get visions in my head of an amazing Mexican-themed dinner party with several flavors of homemade cheese dip being kept warm in the little baby crockpots, all snuggled in a row. Well, after 2 years of storing a family of tiny crockpots still in their original packaging in my cabinet, I have finally come up with a daily use for them – making oatmeal!
My husband leaves for work pretty early and I always want to send him off with a warm breakfast (especially during the winter when it gets down below 70 degrees here in Honolulu at night – freezing!) but there’s no way that this pregnant lady with a toddler is going to get up early enough to make something fresh for my hard working honey. He really loves oatmeal and it’s actually quite a healthy and filling breakfast if it’s prepared properly by soaking before cooking to reduce levels of phytic acid (a nutrient blocker that makes grain difficult to digest). Here’s what I do:
- Place 1/4 to 1/2 cup of oats in the crockpot and add twice as much water. I like to use steel cut Irish oatmeal but just get whatever you can find at the store that seems the least processed. If you are a gluten-free person make sure the oats are labeled as “gluten free” because many times, oats and gluten-containing grains are processed on the same equipment so there is cross-contamination. Gauge how much you soak based on how much cooked oatmeal you want – using 1/4 cup of oats will expand to about a cup cooked, and 1/2 cup will expand to about 2 cups. If you have time, let this soak for a few hours. I like to put this on before I make dinner since I’m in the kitchen anyway. Once in a while I don’t have time for this step so I skip right to the next one and my husband seems to survive okay!
- After the initial soak, dump out this water and then add about 3 parts of water to 1 part of soaked oats. You can also add a dash of buttermilk or whey if you have it to help make the oats even more digestible. I add a pinch of Celtic salt at this stage to increase the mineral content, and a dash of cinnamon so the kitchen smells warm and comforting when my husband wakes up to eat.
- Plug in your tiny crockpot and let cook overnight!
- In the morning, mix with any toppings that make you happy to be awake: butter from grassfed cows, coconut milk, minimally processed cow’s milk or cream, chopped raw nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, raw honey, shredded unsweetened coconut, chopped dates, apple sauce, protein powder – whatever your heart desires. If you’re more of a savory person, you can also mix an egg and some bacon or sausage in for a salty pudding reminiscent of a big hairy Irish man.
- Fill crockpot with water to soak so it’s easy to clean up and use for the next day, unless you’re like me and have several tiny crockpots that can be switched out so there’s no hurry to clean up the used one and it can just sit on the counter taking up space and waiting to be washed. Not that I ever do that.
If any of you readers out there have uses for tiny crockpots (other than cheese dip, I figured that one out already) please share them in the comments section! I love finding new and exciting uses for all my kitchen gadgets.
December 7, 2011 2 Comments
Nothing says “I’m better than you” like cooking with capers. Most people either love or hate the flavor of those salty little green pellets, but no matter what, if you serve them at a dinner party and someone complains about it you can very aristocratically say “That’s okay, not everyone has refined enough tastes to enjoy the delicate nuances of capers” while gracefully adjusting your tiara. This is especially helpful when the dinner party consists only of you, your husband (who does not appreciate capers, by the way), and your toddler. Here are just a few of the health benefits to justify cooking like a princess:
- Stachydrine, a phytochemical found in capers, has been found to be a “potent anti-metastatic agent” in regards to prostate cancer and seems to work at the genetic level to keep prostate cancer cells from reproducing. So you are actually cooking with capers to keep all the prostates at the dinner table healthy!
- Bioflavonoids from capers have been found to inhibit NF-kappa B activation. Who cares? Even if you don’t, the drug companies do. NF-kappa B is a major target for drug research because this factor has been found to be chronically activated in disease states such as cancer, arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even acne.
- Extracts from caper plants have been found to lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. Of course, if your hypertension is due to salt sensitivity then eating salty capers by the bucketful is probably not the best option.
- The anti-arthritic components in capers seem to be most concentrated when extracted into alcohol. This justifies cooking any sort of protein (fish, chicken, lobster) in a white wine, butter, and caper sauce!
- Capers are a rich source of rutin, a bioflavonoid that is sometimes taken in supplement form to prevent and treat varicose veins.
- Capers have been found to have “important antimicrobial, anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and antiviral properties“. This study firmly proves that if I left anything out in my list above, you can use the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon game (health version of course) to relate whatever ailment your dinner guest may have to something that capers can help with.
December 5, 2011 1 Comment
I have received a lot of questions from friends and family here in Hawaii about nutritional ways to protect from exposure to radiation. These questions are prompted by the tragic events currently unfolding in Japan. My constant prayer and belief is that the situation will come back under control, but I still thought it would be wise to post this information for all of you out there for the sake of educational purposes and to help those of you who may be exposed to radiation at work or as part of cancer treatment. So, here’s what I know:
- The single most important nutrient when looking at protection from radioactive fallout is iodine, which is why almost every store here in Hawaii all the way to the west coast of the US is sold out of iodine supplements. Radioactive iodine is a by-product of uranium fission, and iodine is a necessary nutrient for the body which is taken up hungrily by the thyroid. If the body is low in iodine, it will absorb more than a fair share of radioactive iodine which is obviously very harmful and can lead to several types of cancer, particularly thyroid cancer. For more info on iodine for protection from nuclear fallout, check out the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s article on the subject.
- If you are able to flood the body with real, non-radioactive iodine before possible exposure to radioactive iodine you will be less likely to absorb the radioactivity because the thyroid is less hungry. It’s basically the same principle as ruining your appetite for dinner by eating lots of snacks…except in this case dinner is radioactive.
- The dosages of iodine used by the NRC are either 65 mg or 130 mg once daily, which offers 24 hours of protection. These are very high doses intended for those living near a fallout zone. A daily intake of about 3 mg iodine for at least 2 weeks will saturate the thyroid while a dose of 10 to 15 mg should immediately saturate the thyroid. This is a moderately high dose but has been estimated to be the regular daily intake of a person in Japan (they eat a lot of seafood and seaweed – two of the richest sources of iodine), where rates of cancer are surprisingly low. To put this in perspective, the RDA for an adult male is only 150 micrograms per day (a microgram equals 1/1000 of a milligram – mg). The RDA is only enough to prevent goiter, but not enough to provide the iodine needs for the rest of the body that include cancer prevention, immunity, and skin health. I could go on and on about iodine, but that’s not the focus of this blog. However, if you are interested in reading more about iodine as a nutrient I recommend looking into the Linus Pauling Institute’s entry or reading the book Iodine: Why you need it, Why you can’t live without it by David Brownstein, MD.
- Children and fetuses are most at risk in the event of fallout, because thyroid cancer takes between 10 and 20 years to develop after exposure to radioactive iodine and they are growing so quickly that their thyroids are more “hungry” and therefore more vulnerable.
- The half life (meaning the amount of time it takes for quantities to reduce by half) of radioactive iodine is 8 days. This means that concentration is going to be highest when exposure first happens but over the course of a couple of weeks it will gradually fade (though in the event of a nuclear meltdown, large quantities of radioactive materials will persist in the environment for decades if not longer). My point in telling you this is that if at all possible, take preventive measures at the beginning of exposure when levels are highest.
- Vitamin E can also be very helpful for preventing side effects from radiation exposure (particularly the kind involved in cancer treatment). The generally suggested dose is 400 IU twice daily. Just be sure it is vitamin E in a natural form from supplements or from vitamin E rich foods such as cold-pressed oils or raw nuts.
- Homeopathic remedies have also been indicated in prevention of radiation side effects. That is not my expertise, however, so I won’t get into that too much except to say that if it’s something you would like to consider I would suggest working with someone knowledgable in the subject since homeopathic remedies need to be accurately prescribed to get the desired effects.
- As far as the current crisis goes, if things progress negatively (God forbid!) and risk of contamination is serious, our immediate exposure here in the United States depends on the jet stream pattern. Jet streams are narrow bands of high-altitude wind that move at high speeds around the world. To see updated jet stream maps, go to the San Francisco State University’s Jet Stream Map page.
Hopefully this information has helped you to calm your fears rather than add to them. I find that the worst thing in working with health is not understanding the risk of things we are dealing with because the mystery of it makes it that much more scary. On a personal note, if you’d like to know what I am doing for my family in preparation for the possibility of events taking a turn for the worse:
- I took our bottle of Iodoralout of the cabinet and put it on the counter so we’d remember to take a tablet each day (my husband and any friends that happen to be over take 1 tablet and I take 2 since I’m still breastfeeding the toddler formerly known as Mr. Milk). Even if nothing happens, I think it’s still good for us to get our iodine levels up since I occasionally experience some of the symptoms of low iodine levels such as PMS and my husband works in construction where he’s sometimes exposed to chemicals and heavy metals that can deplete iodine.
- I’m planning to serve more iodine-rich meals until the Japanese reactor situation is under control. This includes sushi, miso soup, eggs, fish, using ground seaweed in the form of Gomasio or powdered kelp as a seasoning, and adding a few pieces of dry kelp to soups or stews to release iodine.
- I’m stocking up on nori sheets (you can buy them here in huge packs at Costco). If you don’t have access to iodine tablets, seaweed is your next best bet. The amount of iodine varies, but an average estimate is that 1/4 ounce of dried seaweed can contain up to 4.5 mg of iodine! Nori sheets are one of my favorite forms of seaweed because they last forever, don’t take up much space, are inexpensive, and the big toddler loves to snack on them while running around the house. Since the situation is not more dire, I’m not having him take iodine supplements but I am letting him have his fill of nori. Radiation or not, it’s a great snack for kids and the iodine in it helps them become supremely intelligent so they will be able to figure out 10 times faster how to get around all of your household childproofing efforts.
- I’m also praying! A lot. For the people in Japan that have lost so much, for the brave workers at the nuclear plant who are putting themselves at risk to keep the rest of us safe, for mankind in general. I’m trusting that it will all work together for good, and I’m not letting myself go down a negative route of worrying…that’s bad for the thyroid!
NOTE: This blog is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified health care practitioner. If you are under medical care, especially if it is surrounding your thyroid, please work with a practitioner before adding iodine or any other nutritional supplement to your routine. Iodine should not be taken in large doses for extended periods of time without consulting a health care practitioner to determine specific needs.
March 15, 2011 24 Comments
The other day one of my most entertaining friends sent me a photo of her breakfast. Yes, kind of a weird thing to text to someone first thing in the morning but considering my profession it made sense. Here is her masterpiece:
While looking at the above photo, I – in my crabby and unshowered state – stood in the middle of my not-clean house and realized that while Mr. Milk had already had about 2 gallons of breakfast I had broken my own rule of eating something containing protein and/or fat (yes, even if it’s just a piece of cheese or a handful of olives hastily grabbed out of the fridge with one arm while holding a small, drooling human with the other) within an hour of waking to get your metabolism going for the day. Rather than remedy this by eating something healthy immediately, I decided to reply to her text with the following snarkily-composed photo of what I was eating for breakfast .
Don’t ask me why those items were in my house to begin with (and I promise I didn’t actually eat, drink, or smoke them for breakfast), but all joking aside I am sure that at one point in most of our lives we’ve sacrificed a healthy breakfast in the name of not having time. So, here is my quick list of quick breakfast ideas! Please feel free to expand on this list with your favorites by posting them in the comments section. Alternatively, please also feel free to post the most nutritionally devoid breakfast you ever ate because that makes for entertaining reading for me
Quick ideas that take 5 minutes or less to prepare:
- Hard boiled eggs, peeled the night before
- Smoked salmon and cream cheese (or butter) on a thin slice of bagel or a piece of sprouted or gluten-free toast
- Smoothie made with coconut milk or whole milk organic yogurt, coconut oil, frozen berries, and some banana, mango, pineapple or papaya for added enzymes
- Whole milk organic cottage cheese with fruit that was prepared the night before (see my friend’s photo for artistic placement of fruit)
- Fried egg sandwich on sprouted or gluten-free toast (melt butter in a pan, put toast in toaster, crack eggs into pan, put lid on pan, run around house looking for car keys and by the time you find them the eggs and toast will be done)
- Fried eggs (prepared as above) with sliced tomato (grain-free alternative but not friendly to eat in the car)
- Soaked oatmeal with assorted raw nuts and seeds and a little honey (soak rolled oats overnight in water in the pan you will use for cooking, in the morning drain this water and add new; soaked oats cook as quickly as “quick oats” and are much easier to digest which makes them a better choice if you like to include some grain in your diet)
- Warm soup in a thermos (this was one of my favorite breakfasts on cold winter days in Iowa…haven’t yet tried it here in Hawaii)
- Handful of raw nuts
And my baby’s awake from his nap…so the list stops here! Don’t forget to add your favorites to the comments section so others (including me!) can benefit from what you’ve figured out.
July 19, 2010 15 Comments