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What is MSG?

May 29, 2011

A friend of my mom’s was telling me that she cannot eat MSG because it causes her horrible side effects. I really didn’t know what MSG was! Being interested in all things concerning food, nutrition and health, I took the opportunity to enlighten myself.

I really was shocked at what I learned!

What is MSG anyway? Is it in our food? Is it bad?

Simply put, Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer and like salt, it makes food taste better. It is an addictive substance that activates the part of your brain that tells you to eat more! This can cause overeating, binging and obesity!

Over the last 50 years since MSG was introduced, it has been added in larger and larger quantities to the prepackaged meals, soups and snacks that are common in today’s diet! No wonder 2/3 of the U.S population is obese!

However, it’s important to note that MSG is only one of the many contributing factors to our nation’s obesity epidemic. But I won’t get into that right now ūüėČ

Huge food companies and fast food restaurants are not concerned about our health. They know about the addictive effect MSG has on the human body, making us want to eat more and buy more.  Therefore, MSG can be found in almost all packaged and fast foods!

Because MSG is so bad for you and has been linked to causing cancer, endocrine problems and brain damage, food manufacturers disguise MSG on our food labels.  They use many names to identify MSG on the ingredients list.

there is slightly more wheat flour than MSG in these Doritos

Names like Natural Flavors/Flavorings, Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Oat Flour, Soy Extract and Seasoning almost always are a source of MSG.

What scares me most, is that this generation eats copious amounts of fast food, packaged chips, cookies and candy. My brothers love Doritos, they love fast food burgers! They don’t eat them all the time, but it’s not exactly a rare occurence!

However, Natural Flavors on an ingredient list does not always mean the presence of MSG. For example, I have seen Natural Flavors on the ingredients list on my favorite Luna Bar, but they state on their site that their food does not contain MSG!

Really, the only way to avoid the addictive effects, harmful medical problems and overeating issues linked to MSG is to stop eating these foods! I avoid prepackaged foods anyway (for the most part) but it’s always good to be aware!

Focus on eating whole, real, unprocessed, nonpackaged foods. Our diets should be made up almost entirely of vegetables and healthy proteins like fish, lean meat, eggs, tofu, beans, nuts and legumes.

I hope this was a little insightful!

What are your thoughts on this? Anything else about MSG?

Flip-Flopped

May 26, 2011

Life has been just crazy lately! My mom now works full-time and my dad is unemployed, it’s flip-flopped! So crazy. My dad still hasn’t found a job. He’s been looking and searching, and he has a few leads so we are all just hoping one of them works out!

We ran out of batteries for my camera and I keep forgetting to get more at the store! But here are some pictures I got before the batteries died!

I’ve been making lots of bread the last few days! Let’s face it: homemade bread is just better!

I found a new recipe! And it’s even better than my LAST favorite recipe! It’s so soft and light!

100% Whole Wheat Bread (Bread Machine)

from Food.com

1 1/2 cups water + 2 TBSP powdered milk OR 1 1/2 cups milk

2 TBSP canola oil

2 TBSP honey

2 TBSP molasses (I just did more honey)

1 1/2 tsp. salt

3 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp. yeast

Add all ingredients to bread machine pan in order listed. Set bread machine to Whole Wheat cycle, 2 LB. loaf and press START.

Easy peasy.

Seriously, give it a go if you have a bread machine! I make two at a time since we have two bread machines!

Weird things I eat on a daily basis:

huge, crazy salads with a random assortment of veggies and toppings

cream of wheat (farina) with tahini, carob chips and cinnamon

homemade coconut milk ice cream!! made by blending one can of full-fat coconut milk, 1 1/2 frozen bananas, cocoa powder and a little honey, then freezing it in an ice cube tray until solid then blending again! so delicious.

southwestern omelet. with black beans, onions, salsa and guac and chili powder. after the photo I poured EVEN MORE black beans on top. a delicious massive heap of beans = OBSESSED

Amazing Grass (that Lindsay sent me!) smoothie in a jar. delish.

carrot cake oats with raisins and cinnamon! oh and that’s coconut butter crumbles on top! I hate to call these “carrot cake oats” because, come on, a bowl of oats just DOES NOT taste the same as a freshly baked slice of carrot cake, are you with me?!

Speaking of carrots…

I made my carrot-raisin MUFFINS again! Only this time they were a MILLION times better!! I subbed half of the whole wheat flour for oat flour, used the whole egg (not just whites) and used 3/4 cup agave and even more shredded carrots and raisins! These were SO much better than the last batch I made, so I’ll update the recipe page with these modifications. Seriously GO MAKE THESE.

Hope you all are having a fabulous week! It’s almost SUMMER!

How many days of school left for you?

– I don’t get a summer break from school. I like taking 2-3 classes online year round instead of 5 during the school year like traditional school!

Have you ever made homemade ice cream?

– It’s definitely going to become a regular¬†occurrence¬†here for me! I love how the Vitamix can blend frozen ice cubes into ice cream!

Fool For Cookies

May 24, 2011

Somehow I convinced myself that baking cookies today would be a really good idea.

Despite the fact that I have about a million school-related things to do, I dove right into the cookbook cupboard and immersed myself in Ye Olde Better Homes And Gardens (not-so) New Cook Book.

Circa 1989. Why does that feel like such an eternity ago?

I flipped to my favorite section. Obviously.

Peanut Butter Cookies it is!

Immediately I realized that I just finished off the whole wheat flour for bread, but we had a little bit of all purpose left.

I always group foods into “healthy” or “bad”. But I’m realizing that it’s a nasty habit and needs to stop.

Instead of classifying all-purpose flour as “unhealthy” or “bad”, how about we just say that whole wheat flour would be a “better” choice. So I used the all-purpose, but there wasn’t enough! I still needed more flour.

Oats to the rescue. I blended oats into oat flour and the crisis was averted. I have used oat flour in a lot of things, but never cookies. It was worth a shot.

Peanut Butter Cookies

adapted from an old Better Homes And Gardens Cookbook

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter (I didn’t measure….it was probably more than 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 + 1/4 cup oat flour

3/4 cup agave nectar

1 egg

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla (plus more, because who doesn’t love more vanilla?)

Oven, put it at 375¬ļ.

With an electric mixer, beat butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add all-purpose flour, agave, egg, baking soda, baking powder and vanilla. Beat till thoroughly combined. Beat in oat flour.

With spoon, place dallops of dough onto silpat cooking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are just starting to brown.

Um these were surprisingly delicious. I devoured 9.

Clearly, I have issues.

The most important thing to me in a cookie is the texture. They should NOT be cake like, but a little chewy and kind of dense.

Did they pass the texture test?

With flying stars.

To say I am impressed with how these came out would be an understatement. Are they the healthiest cookies? Uh, no. But they sure are delicious! Plus they’re made with oat flour! How many cookies can say that?

What do you look for in a cookie? What’s most important? Texture and taste (obvi) for me!

New Grain In Town

May 20, 2011

I tried a new grain for breakfast today! Nowhere on the front does it say “farina”, but that’s what it is!

I loved it! The texture was that of oat bran and it got so thick!

I’m lazy, so yes, I did cook it in the microwave. After it was cooked nice and thick I stirred in a ton of frozen blueberries, (which cooled it off nicely!) and topped it with a few roasted almonds. Tasted like a Blueberry Muffin!

I forgot who it was, but someone left a comment a while ago saying I could use my waffle maker as a panini press!

Brilliant idea right thurr.

Isn’t it the cutest little sandwich you ever did see?

But what really counts is in the inside.

Peanut butter, banana and, I was feeling crazy, so some unsweetened carob chips!

Need I say more?

My Steps To Clear Skin!

May 18, 2011

I just looked at myself in the mirror and my face is SO CLEAR!

I have battled red blemishes, blotches, pink scarring and an oily/greasy face ever since I was 12. I always wear makeup in public to cover up the hideousness. Many tears have been shed over my skin. Many jealousy thoughts have entered my head because I feel like I’m ugly because of my acne.

Ever since I was 12, I’ve never had clear, blemish free skin. Never.

My mom also has acne problems and we have tried EVERYTHING.

We did Pro-Activ for the LONGEST time. It did help at first, but it mostly dried me out!

We visited a Dermatologist and he gave me a pill and some special face washing stuff, but it always COMPLETELY dried me out and it HURT really bad and didn’t help me in the long term!

We also paid ridiculous amounts of money for this special face washing kit called CleanStart at a fancy beauty store. It seemed to help at first, but again it DRIED ME OUT and didn’t help in the long run! And was too expensive to keep buying!

This was also back when I was eating white flour quesadillas with MOUNDS of cheese, Ramen noodles and frozen pizza on a daily basis!

Come on, you have to admit, Ramen noodles are delicious! I grew up on them! I was addicted and would eat 2-3 packages in one sitting! ūüė¶ Yikes!

So let’s see, my face today is looking GREAT! The redness has decreased, the greasiness has DEFINITELY decreased and I look like I’m glowing!

So this is probably WHY:

The last few days I’ve been really focusing on EATING INTUITIVELY. And NOT BINGING.

I’m done counting calories. That was short lived.

I eat when I’m hungry. And I’m hungry a lot.

It’s not easy ¬†to teach myself to listen to my body’s hunger cues since I have been ignoring them for the last year, BUT I feel so much better when I’m giving it what it wants instead of depriving all the time!

I’ve also been eating almost NO dairy! Sometimes I’ll sprinkle a little feta on my eggs or on salad and I put 1/2 cup of fat free milk in my smoothies, but other than that I’ve been DAIRY-FREE! Oh wait, the protein powder I use is Whey, but I only use it like, once a day.¬†I never meant to start eating less dairy, with my dad losing his job we just can’t afford extras like Greek yogurt and cottage cheese (my favorite dairy products!).

I’ve also been drinking LOTS of water! I feel like I’m ALWAYS in the bathroom now, (TMI?) but that’s a good thing! If your pee is yellow and you’re not peeing every few hours ¬†(TMI again? Sorry!)…you’re not staying hydrated!

Also, I’ve been eating almost no sugar. My only source of sugar lately has been agave nectar in baked goods or on French toast. And I use it sparingly!

I also have STOPPED worrying about FAT. Thanks to Carrie’s post, especially! That post really hit home with me. I used to DEPRIVE myself, and put limits on how much fat I could eat. Then I would always end up having a BINGE FEST with the peanut butter jar, anyway! So, that definitely wasn’t working! Now I eat fat at every meal in some shape or form! It helps keep you full and satisfied and is also DELICIOUS!

On top of all this, I eat WHOLE, REAL, NON PROCESSED foods. No crazy additives, no super scary ingredients. I eat whole grains, vegetables, fruit and I’ve been trying to eat less meat and more plant based proteins!

So….yeah! I bet my clear skin is a combination of all those things! I definitely hope this clear skin sticks around! I wish my Dermatologist that we paid SO MUCH MONEY for had told me to eat a REAL FOOD DIET! That would have been helpful!

Pass A Spoon

May 18, 2011

Alternate post title: Must-Try Blogger Recipes

Ohhh, don’t mind me…

I’m just currently SALIVATING over…

Tara’s Oatmeal Raisin Cashew Butter

I would swim in this. Please pass a spoon.

I cannot get over how delicious¬†Katie’s Protein Milkshakes¬†are!

I made her favorite, the Peanut Butter Butterscotch one! Made with cottage cheese AND protein powder, it was packed with protein! And the addition of maple extract? To. Die. For.

Please. If you have not made Mama Pea’s Mmmm Sauce, do yourself a favor and make it! It tastes like a cheesy Alfredo sauce, like from Olive Garden. I do not lie.

It’s dangerously good smothered on whole wheat pasta with broccoli. ¬†I haven’t had pasta for so long, it was pure heaven digging into this. Pasta is my #1 favorite food of all time, my family just always buys white pasta, so I never eat it. Welcome back to my life, whole wheat pasta.

Kathleen, your Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes are melting my heart. They look delicious!

That’s all I have for now! I hope you enjoyed this post, now you have lots of recipes to try!

Oatmeal Wheat Carrot Raisin Muffins

May 17, 2011

Remember I said I’d eat no sugar this month?

That idea is… down the drain. Yeah.

I think it lasted 2 days. At most.

Instead of never eating sugar again, I am just going to practice moderation.

I like using as less sweetener as possible, while still having a baked good that tastes delicious.

We had a big bag of carrots in the fridge and raisins in the pantry. I knew what needed to be done.

In the muffin world, carrots and raisins just belong together. It’s common sense. And there are lots of carrot raisin muffin recipes out there…but you need to make this one.

This is what I look for in muffins. The benefits of whole grain goodness, yet a soft, moist taste. A dense, yet fluffy texture. Chunky raisins and carrots throughout. The sweet smell of cinnamon.

Yep, these are it.

I was hesitant to use oat flour, thinking they wouldn’t rise as well, but the result was PERFECT!

Oatmeal Wheat Carrot Raisin Muffins

3 eggs

3/4 cup skim milk

3/4 cup agave nectar

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup oat flour

2 1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. sea salt

2 cups grated/shredded carrots, packed (I used my Vitamix to shred the carrots)

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350¬ļF. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners and spray them with nonstick spray. You need to spray them really well or they will stick! (Trust me, I know.)

Whisk together eggss, milk and agave in mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the dry ingredients gradually to the wet, stirring gently, careful not to over mix.

Fold in shredded carrots and raisins. Don’t over mix, or muffins will be dry and stiff! Stir just until moistened.

Spoon batter into the 12 well-greased muffin paper liners.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out with no wet batter clinging. Let cool for 5 minutes then transfer to wire cooling rack. Serve warm.

My family gobbled these right up! And I practiced moderation! I only ate¬†one¬†muffin (plus licking the bowl, but that don’t count). *so proud*

I thought we’d at least have some leftovers, so I could have one for breakfast, but they were all gone by night time! That’s how you know they’re delicious.

I’m trying to dilute my sweet tooth, so I only used 3/4 cup of agave nectar to sweeten these. Feel free to use more!

The raisins throughout bring a nice tart, sweetness.

You will love these. For breakfast with eggs. Or gobbled up straight from the oven.