Saturday, August 29, 2009

Why We Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup

Do you read labels? If you don't, you might want to get in the habit of it. There are lots of things in our modern diets that aren't real healthy for us. I know....I know....something is going to kill me, it might as well be that, right? That's true to a point but there is a possibly "quality of life" issue you might want to consider.

Needless to say, we try to eat healthier so that we can avoid a lot of the medical conditions associated with the foods we eat. Here are some reasons we try to avoid the high fructose corn syrup:

Some consider high fructose corn syrup to be the reason why our society is overweight. Basically, HFCS is sweetener that's in all sorts of foods....items you wouldn't think would have sweeteners in them. Ketchup, barbeque sauce, sweet pickles, pickle relish, etc. Because it's in so many things, most people consume quite a large quantity but the American Medical Association recommends only 32 grams of sugar per day. That's hard to do when it's in everything.

A Washington Post article talks about 1/3 of all high fructose corn syrup brands contain mercury. Of course, we all know that mercury is toxic to animals, including humans.

Most recently, research is showing a possible link to "Colony Collapse Disorder" in honey bees. It's believed to be because bee keepers often feed it to their bees in the hopes of increasing reproduction and honey production. Unfortunately, when temperatures rise (especially during the summer months) the HFCS produces a substance called hydroxymethylfurfural which kills the bees. You can read more about it here.

All this to say, perhaps if there is quite a lot of controversy and the "unknown" related to a food item, maybe we should avoid it until we learn more about it.

Many of the items we want to avoid in our diets we can do so by cooking from scratch. There is a great added benfit when we cook from scratch, not only does it benfit our health and possibly decrease our waistline but it also helps our budget. Cooking from scratch saves money as well as our health!

Do you have comments or more information? Leave a comment and let us know!

Have a great day!
Mavis D.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rolled Sugar Cookies

It happened. Last night everyone had a serious attack! It was the attack of the sweet tooth! Thankfully our 17 year old son who loves to EAT kicked into gear. Although he loves to eat, I'm very thankful that he also loves to COOK! I mean, if you're going to have a habit of eating everything in site, it's nice to have a corresponding habits that work well together...right? That's what I'm thinking!

Here is the recipe he used and let me tell you, it makes a LOT of cookies....which 5 boys can go through a LOT of cookies!

7 cups all purpose flour
1 cup milk
4 eggs (beaten)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups coconut oil (you can also use butter, softened)
5 teaspoons baking powder

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in the coconut oil (or butter) until it's well mixed. Add the sugar, eggs and milk and mix well. Cover with plastic or a lid and put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This will make the dough easier to work.

When the dough is ready, take out a handful at a time and work it. Roll it out on whatever surface your using (we just use the counter)'ll want the dough thin. Cut with cookie cutters and place on an oiled cookie sheet then sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes until they start to brown around the edges. Allow them to cool a bit before you remove them from the sheet. We also let them cool on a cooling rack for awhile before we put them in the cookie jar.

We made cookies that were about the size of vanilla wafers and we really liked that size because they are just right for little hands. We also think that they can be substituted for vanilla wafers in recipes that call for them.

These are simple cookies that are not too sweet but just sweet enough to satisfy our cravings and since they are homemade, I have no worries about letting our children have a few throughout the day. As always, cooking from scratch is always cheaper, tastier and better for you....even if it's cookies!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tipster Tuesday - The Stinky Garbage Disposal

Do you have a stinky garbage disposal? Don't worry, it happens to the best. Here are some solutions to combat the problem.

Mix half and half water with vinegar and put into ice cube trays and freeze. When frozen, drop them in the disposal and run them through. It will deodorize the disposer as well as sharpen the blades.

Another trick is to take a half lemon and run it through followed by 1 cup of vinegar....flush with cold water for about 3-4 minutes.

Have a great day!
Mavis D.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Although these are set up on a certain day, we have tendency to move them around to suit our tastes for that day so we might not have the baked chicken on Tuesday but hold it until Thursday, etc.

Monday - meatloaf, homemade macaroni & cheese, greenbeans, cantaloupe

Tuesday - baked chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob

Wednesday - sloppy joe sandwiches on homemade buns with oven roasted potatoes

Thursday - beef fajitas served with sour cream, refried beans and rice

Friday - homemade pepperoni & veggie pizza (we have "pizza night EVERY Friday!)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

We're trying to keep our menu simple this week since school started. Some days we have a dessert but most days we don't. Everything is made from scratch, except the Lipton pasta sides and I had that left over from a LONG time ago when I actually bought that kind stuff. :)

Monday - grilled chicken breast, Lipton pasta sides (chicken), green beans and cantaloupe.

Tuesday - Tuna Salad with crusty bread

Wednesday - roast with potatoes and carrots (cooked in the crock-pot)

Thursday - Mexican Chicken Casserole, corn and sliced cucumers

Friday - homemade pepperoni & veggie pizza with a salad

Friday, August 7, 2009

Years ago, we were able to get some wonderful wild plums and I made tons of plum jelly. Well, we haven't been as fortunate with those and my boys simply love the stuff.

I tried buying the "plum jelly" from the store but they said it didn't taste the same and of course, all store-bought jelly I can find uses high-fructose corn syrup as it's main sweetener.

The other day I was at our local Walmart and noticed they had red plums on sale for $1.25 per pound. A great buy but our family doesn't eat plums quick enough so I bought some for jelly.

I started with 4 pounds of plums. Cut them up and remove the seed...leave the skins on. You'll need to cut them about the size of potatoes when you are making them for mashed potatoes. When you're all done, put them in a large pan with about 1 1/2 cups of water and bring them to a boil stirring occasionally. Simmer them for a bit and I like to squish the larger pieces up against the sides to make a mushy mixture. After they've cooked a bit, pour them fruit into a jelly bag. This is a straining bag that removes the pulp from the juice. Work it with a spoon to get all that good juice out.

Now, with juice ready, you're ready to make jelly. You'll need to follow the directions for your particular brand of pectin but these instructions are all about the same.

Put 5 1/2 cups of plum juice into a large pot....I like a tall one like a stock pot and if it has pour spouts on the sides it will make your job easier. Measure 6 1/2 cups of sugar into a bowl and have it sitting near by. Stir your pectin into the juice and mix well. Bring the juice to a rolling boil that doesn't stir down. While the juice is boiling, pour in the sugar quickly while stirring the juice. Bring the jelly back to a rolling boil. When it gets to the rolling boil stage, time exactly 1 minute with a kitchen timer.

When the timer runs out, remove from heat and stir it down until little or no foam is left on top. Pour into prepared canning jars, cover with sterilized lids and rings. And process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

When I made this batch the other day, our 17 year old came home from grandma's house and discovered that I had made some. He was really excited and couldn't wait for it to cool before trying some!