notorganicWe have used and loved Silk Soymilk for years and years. I use soymilk in baking and cooking, and Chet loves chocolate soymilk. Recently, we noticed that Silk Soymilk is no longer made from organic soybeans. The package is exactly the same, minus the “organic” label. Keeping the packaging the same, but altering the product is very, very sneaky and in bad faith. Please consider boycotting Silk products, contacting Silk, or speaking to your grocer about other organic soymilk choices. Silk now makes a line of organic soymilks in very different containers. I have not found these new organic Silk milks locally, but I wouldn’t buy them anyway. We have switched to Giant’s Nature’s Promise Soymilk.

FYI: According to the Center for Food Safety, 85 percent of soybeans are genetically modified. Organic soybeans are not genetically modified. Genetic modification has never been proven safe, and a number of studies have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, animals, and the environment.

Evil Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans account for most of the GM soybeans. Roundup Ready soybeans are engineered to withstand repeated does of Roundup, which means more pesticides can be applied. One study showed that 55% of the offspring of female rats fed genetically engineered soy flour died within three weeks and only 9% of the offspring of rats fed non-GM soy died.

Are your soy products organic??

More Info:

UPDATE 9/10/10: Silk is certified non-GMO. Click here to see their Non-GMO certification.

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Chet and I have been concerned about the the dangers of using plastic to store food and beverages since fall 2005. We had Klean Kanteens back when the company was a church group in California. The only way to order Kanteens was to call long distance and talk to a person.

Anyway, we are happy that the new research is bringing attention to the issues of plastic food storage and the dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA). Two important recent academic articles are listed below. They are a bit technical, but good info.

Association of Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration With Medical Disorders and Laboratory Abnormalities in Adults – The scariest part is their conclusion: Higher BPA exposure, reflected in higher urinary concentrations of BPA, may be associated with avoidable morbidity in the community-dwelling adult population.

Bisphenol A and Risk of Metabolic Disorders

If you have not already switched, consider using a nonplastic reusable water bottle – good for the environment, good for you.

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Mate (pronounced MAH-tay) is prepared by steeping dry leaves and twigs of the yerba mate shrub in hot water. It is very popular in South America, and recently has been touted as having a wide array of health benefits. In efforts to drink less coffee, my husband, Chet, has been drinking up to four cups of strong iced mate every afternoon for a while. We subscribe to Wellness Letter from the University of CA, and in a recent issue, they mentioned that drinking mate is linked to cancers. We did our own research, and there is definitely evidence that mate consumption is carcinogenic. In one study, those drinking more than one liter per day of mate at a very hot temperature had a three-fold increase in risk of esophageal cancer. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, “Hot mate drinking is probably carcinogenic to humans.” And according to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, “High doses and prolonged consumption of mate tea are associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.”

I believe that drinking cold mate needs to be further investigated, but we decided that it isn’t worth the risk. Green and black tea are great alternatives to mate because there is research showing their health benefits and no heath risks, other than those associated with caffeine. If you google mate there is little info on the cancer connection so we wanted to get the word out there. See links below for related abstracts in PubMed.

Natural Killer Cells, Weight Loss, and Magic Mushrooms

I am a teacher, and I am around lots of germs. Over the years, I have built up a pretty good immune system, but while I was losing weight (as mentioned in the last blog entry), I kept getting sick with every cold, sore throat, and cough possible. I was eating very healthy, healthier than every before in my life, so I was very frustrated at my sickliness.

One day, while I was home sick yet again, I started researching weight loss and getting sick. I learned that when you lose a lot of weight without regular exercise, you destroy your body’s natural killer cells (not a good idea). These cells help your body fight every nasty thing that is thrown at you from colds to cancer. I began to panic, and frantically researched how to build up natural killer cells. Luckily there was lots of information on line about mushrooms and their magical power. I drove straight to Savemart (our local discount pharmacy/natural supplement center) and asked for a supplement to build natural killer cells. The man instantly took me to New Chapter Host Defense. I explained my situation, and he nodded knowingly, as if to say, “Of course, dummy, you can’t just lose weight and expect to keep your NK cells.” He told me to take the supplement for one month (2 per day) and that should do it. And unless I did something else to cause my NK cells to die, I wouldn’t need more than that one-month’s supply.

I am happy to report that since finishing the bottle over a year ago, I have been very healthy, and I feel my NK cells have been restored – yay!

There is lots of info online, below is just a sampling of sources.

Yo-Yo Dieting May Have a Long-Term Negative Effect on Immune Function

Natural Killer Cell Enhancement And Anti-Cancer Effects Of Proprietary Japanese Mushroom Extract

Dietary Supplementation with White Button Mushroom Enhances Natural Killer Cell Activity in Mice (Disclaimer: I absolutely do not support experimenting on animals, but I am willing to read and learn from information previously collected.)

Healthy Vegan Diet

Sorry that I have not posted any yummy recipes lately. With all of this recipe experimenting for my blog and trying other vegan blogger’s recipes, I gained 6 “blog” pounds! So since I am back on a diet, I thought I would share how I lost 45 pounds the healthy vegan way.

I had been an overweight vegetarian for about 10 years; according to the Body Mass Index, I was at the high end of the overweight category. When I started a completely vegan diet, I was sure that I would shed the pounds, but I think I gained weight. I wanted to be healthy, and I wanted to be a good representative of the vegan lifestyle. August 2006, I started counting every calorie that I put into my body via a spreadsheet – I was shocked! I was consuming over 3,000 calories some days! I researched how to construct a healthy vegan diet (Becoming Vegan is a fabulous source), and I very slowly started cutting my calories. First, I cut back to 2,400 calories for week, then to 2,000 calories for a month, then to 1800 calories, and for a few months 1600 calories.

I lost 45 pounds in 11 months, about one pound per week, which is a healthy rate. Now according to the BMI, I am comfortably in the normal weight range, but I will be happier when I lose these 6 “blog” pounds. So once again, I am tracking my calories on a spreadsheet, shooting for 1800 calories.

For a sample of my diet spreadsheet, click here for an Excel document or here for a pdf version. Once I had most foods entered on my computer, it was easy to just cut and paste from day to day. New recipes are a pain (hence no new recipe posts). A good source for calorie info is NutritionData.com.

 

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Compact fluorescent light bulbs are supposed to save tons of electricity so they are a wise choice for the environment. That being said, it is important to know that compact fluorescent light bulbs contain MERCURY which can harm you and your family if you break the bulb and horribly damage the environment if they go to landfills. The are classified as “Hazardous Waste,” and disposing of them properly is EXTREMELY important for the environment!

US Environmental Protection Agency “Mercury-Containing Light Bulb (Lamp) Recycling” including a link to find information about collection in your area

MSNBC article “Shining a light on hazards of fluorescent bulbs”

PA Department of Environmental Protection a pdf of Information for Proper Disposal of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority “Household Hazardous Waste Recycling” information for collection in Lancaster, PA

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Oil Caution

Use oil in cooking with caution! When oil reaches its smoke point, it releases carcinogens in the air and free radicals in the oil. Free radicals are unstable cells that can cause damage to DNA, leading to the possible development of cancer.

It is important to consider the smoke point of oils used in cooking. Many people like to cook with olive oil, but olive oil has a wide range of smoke points (220-420°F). Often times cooking with oil can be avoided completely; we stir-fry veggies in water and add a touch of oil after cooking to give the veggies a yummy flavor. Think of oil as a condiment, added right before serving or at the table.

We like to use Spectrum Oil because on the label they print the safe cooking temperature. Check out Spectrum’s website and World’s Healthiest Foods for more info on oil safety.oil.jpg

P.S. Oil also adds a crazy amount of calories: one tablespoon of oil has 120 calories and one cup of oil has 1920 calories!!!

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Favorite Meal

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One of our favorite meals is snow peas, rice, and tofu. This easy meal requires little effort and no recipes. Here is the break down for meal prep:

  • 60 minutes before you want to eat – start to boil 1 part rice and 2 parts water, while you wait for it to boil, wash and chop snow peas
  • 50 minutes to go – rice boiling, turned down to simmer (2 on our stove), wait a minute, cover and leave alone
  • (now you have 40 minutes free to relax)
  • 11 minutes to go – slice tofu, set oven to 500º broil, put tofu in oven for 6 1/2 minutes, and start to boil water to steam snow peas
  • 4 minutes to go – flip tofu, put back in the oven for 3 1/2 minutes, and put on snow peas (steam for 2-4 minutes)
  • dinner’s ready

Sprinkle with cashew cheese and enjoy!

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And of course, 0 grams of cholesterol and 0 grams of trans fat.

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Vegans are often asked this question.

Protein is an important component of every cell in the body; it is the building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Your body uses protein to maintain and repair tissue and to make enzymes and hormones. Protein is crucial for your immune system, heart, and respiratory functions. (info from WebMD)

I need about 50 grams of protein per day, and I easily meet or exceed this amount.

To calculate your protein (and other nutrient) needs, go to NutritionData’s Daily Needs Calculator.

Some sources of protein for us include:
18 grams = 1 cup of lentils
15 grams = 1 cup black beans
11 grams = ¼ of a package of SoyBoy tofu
8 grams = sprouted grain English muffin
7 grams = ¼ cup almonds
5 grams = 1 cup brown rice
4 grams = 1 cup steamed broccoli

All plants contain protein; plants are so rich in protein that they can supply the protein needs of the earth’s largest animals: elephants, hippopotamuses, giraffes, and cows. So of course, the protein needs of humans can be met by eating only plants. Plants are the original source of protein; they can synthesize all of the amino acids that are used to build proteins, but animals cannot. (info from McDougall Newsletter)

For more information see Protein in a Vegan Diet.

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“I don’t understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open or put them on powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs for the rest of their lives.” Dean Ornish, M.D.