Monday, July 23, 2012

Do you plan your meals or just wing them?

So I'm wondering . .. . do you decide what your menu will be in advance and then shop for the needed ingredients?

I've tried that but it doesn't really work for me. Well, maybe once in a while when I am making a special meal . . . but in general, I kind of do things backwards. When I head to the farmers' market or to pick up my CSA box, I don't really know in advance what I'm going to get. I mean really that's part of the fun of shopping at farmer's markets. I don't exactly know what I'll find or what's going to look good to me.

Like yesterday, I stopped at the natural foods store and came home with these beautiful long, slim Chinese eggplants, a head of cauliflower, yellow cherry tomatoes. So when I got home, I had to decide what to have for dinner. I looked in my refrigerator and found a half box of mushrooms and some marinara sauce left over from the girls' pizza making slumber party. Add to that a red onion and a can of garbanzo beans that I decided would all go well with pasta.

I tossed the vegetables and garbanzo beans in olive oil and an herb/spice mix and roasted them at 450 degrees until tender as I cooked the pasta. Then I tossed the veggies into the hot pasta with the marinara sauce and some fresh basil, parsley, and thyme from my herb garden.

That's pretty typical on how meal planning goes for me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

PRODUCT REVIEW: Rigoni di Asiago organic spreads

The Rigoni di Asiago company was kind enough to send me samples of a few of their organic spreads to try. We received:

1 jar Nocciolata, an organic hazelnut spread with cocoa and milk, gluten free, no trans fat, no palm oil, no artificial flavors, aromas or colors, made with skimmed milk, raw cane sugar and cold-pressed sunflower oil.

1 jar Fiordifrutta Strawberry & Wild-Strawberries

1 jar Fiordifrutta Pink Grapefruit

1 small jar Seville Orange

2 small jars Apricot

According to the company documentation, Fiordifrutta fruit spreads are organic, and each jar contains 3 pounds of fresh fruit naturally sweetened with apple juice. They contain no sugar, and are gluten free, low glycemic index, low calories, certified NON GMO, and have many different flavors available.

So, this morning the girls and I taste-tested the spreads. We spread mutli-grain waffles with each spread and tried them out. Here are our opinions:

Nicciolata (chocolate-hazelnut spread) -- rich, creamy, chocolatey, sweet . . . a yummy treat. We all liked it.

Strawberry & Wild-Strawberries -- Very fresh strawberry flavor . . . Emily said it tasted like wild strawberries. We all liked it very much.

Pink Grapefruit -- Slightly bitter. Emily hated it. Aimie and I felt it was just okay . . . not something we would go out of our way for.

Seville Orange -- Very strong bitter taste. We all disliked it. Aimie (very bluntly) said it tasted like rotting oranges.

Apricot -- OUR WINNER! We loved this jam. Great flavor and taste. Aimie said it was the perfect blend of tartness and sweetness. We all wished we had gotten a large jar of this flavor as the two little jars were cleaned out in short order.

Final thoughts . . . I'm happy to find products made with organic ingredients without artificial colors or flavors, are processed with low temperatures and natural ingredients--and they are gluten-free for those of you watching that--just steer away from the citrus flavors. For more information or to find US stores that carry these products, go to the Rigoni di Asiago website

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Consumers have the right to know!

If you are in California and debating on how to vote on the Label GMO Initiative . . . here is some information that may help with your decision . . . and remember, a vote to Label GMOs is not saying your are pro-gentically enginneered foods or against them . . . just that you believe it is our right as consumers to know what is in our food and how it is grown so we have the choice whether to buy and consume those foods.

California’s “Label GMO” Proves Pro-GMO Camp Wrong
Key Argument of the Pro-GMO Camp Dismantled by New Legal Analysis

July 10, 2012 — A grassroots initiative that will be on the ballot in September promises to give Californians the right to know whether they are consuming foods with genetically engineered ingredients. The rest of the country is watching this legislation carefully, since if California requires such labeling, national food manufacturers will likely use the labels in other states as well.

Proponents of the initiative point to the numerous scientific studies indicating that GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, can cause genetic changes in mammal offspring. “Scientists are seeing birth defects, high infant mortality rates, and sterility in hamsters, rats, and livestock fed genetically engineered soy and corn,(1)” said Gretchen DuBeau, executive and legal director for the Alliance for Natural Health USA.

One of the main charges against the “right to know” initiative, according to the website—the funding for which comes in part from the Council for Biotechnology Information, whose members include Monsanto, Dow, and other GMO companies—is that the initiative would “create…frivolous and costly lawsuits” and would lead to abusive “bounty hunter”–style lawsuits that allow plaintiffs to keep a “bounty” of 25% of civil penalties collected. Critics point to the many abusive lawsuits that were spawned by Proposition 65, a California initiative passed in 1986 that concerns toxic chemicals.

However, a recent legal analysis of the Label GMO initiative has found that it would not in fact spawn frivolous lawsuits the way Prop 65 has.

The paper, authored by noted legal scholar Dr. James C. Cooper, a former Federal Trade Commission official and an adjunct professor of law at George Mason School of Law, found that the Label GMO initiative contains “important differences [which] substantially reduce the potential for Label GMO to foster the type of abusive private litigation associated with Proposition 65.” The paper also determined that the initiative offers California businesses multiple exemptions and greater legal certainty, allows businesses time to cure GMO labeling violations, and does not include the controversial bounty fees found in other California laws.

“The opponents of GMO labeling have been misleading the public and the media,” said DuBeau. “The opposition is playing fast and loose with the truth, and this paper is a wake-up call. Now there’s no excuse for the biotech companies’ misinformation. They are entitled to their own opinions—not their own facts.”

The report’s ( key findings:

- Label GMO provides seven years in which producers can gradually reduce the GMO exposure of their products from no more than 5% to zero.

- So long as food or supplement producers have a sworn statement from their supplier stating that, to the supplier’s best belief, there are no GMO elements in their ingredients, the producer is immune from suit.

- The producer is also immune from liability if the food is certified organic and certified GMO-free by an independent organization. No doubt it will make sense for food producers to help create an independent certifier.

- Once a violation has been identified, the producer has 30 days in which to correct it, in which case there is no liability.

- There is no “bounty” for plaintiffs who initiate lawsuits.

“The Label GMO initiative is very popular with California voters. Opponents know this, and are doing whatever they can to defeat it,” DuBeau noted. “This report soundly disproves one of the opposition’s main arguments, and exposes their campaign’s use of scare tactics.

“It’s all about citizens’ right to know what’s in the food they’re eating,” DuBeau concluded. “Is anything more basic—or reasonable—than that?”

For more information, go to The Alliance for Natural Health.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

More on antibiotics and meat

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the problems of antibiotic abuse on factory-farmed animals. Since the FDA doesn't seem to be doing much about this problem, The Center for Food Safety is hope consumers and retailers will stand up against this abuse. Since Trader Joe's responded positively to pleas to eliminate genetically-engineered ingredients in their products several years ago, they are a great place to start on this campaign. Click on this link to sign a petition urging Trader Joe's to "source and sell only meat and poultry raised without antibiotics."