Monthly Archives: December 2014

Happy New Year!

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One can dream, right?

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Ginger-Ale or Sugar-Ale?

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When I was a kid my mom would give me ginger-ale every time I had a stomach ache. Even in my teens and early 20’s I would drink ginger-ale every time I had an upset stomach. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I noticed a particular brand (Canada Dry) had “made with real ginger” written on the front label. It made me think: “aren’t all store-bought ginger-ales made with real ginger?”

Apparently not.

If you actually read the ingredients, they’re mostly made of carbonated water and sugar with both natural and artificial colours and flavours thrown in.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/db5/63410078/files/2014/12/img_4980.jpgThe only brand that I’ve seen that makes the claim “made with real ginger” on the label is Canada Dry, but if you read the ingredient list it’s still mostly sugar and additives.

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A pregnant friend of mine recently told me that she drinks ginger-ale sometimes for her morning sickness, because she thought it contained ginger which is a proven remedy for nausea. It made me wonder how many pregnant women out there are unknowingly consuming sugar and harmful artificial additives under the false impression that they are drinking a “healthy” beverage to help with their morning sickness. It also got me thinking about all the parents who probably still give it to their kids for tummy troubles.

If you look at the ingredient list for soda, it’s not much different.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/db5/63410078/files/2014/12/img_4979-1.jpgMost pregnant women wouldn’t drink 7-up to cure morning sickness, nor would most parents give their children sugar filled soda to cure an upset stomach. But store bought ginger-ale is basically the same thing.

As a better option, try boiling some ginger in water and then add a natural sweetener like honey. You’ll get the benefits of ginger without any added sugar, colors or flavors. If you or your kids prefer fizzy drinks, add a little plain carbonated water and you’ve got yourself some homemade ginger-ale.

Oven-Baked Yam Fries Recipe

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Yam fries are one of my daughter’s favorite foods. I’d rather have her eat healthy homemade fries than restaurant versions that are fried in unhealthy oils and batter, so I’ve experimented with a few healthy recipes at home and this one is my favorite. It’s very flavourful and I love that I can eat them without any guilt since they are baked, not fried. You can substitute the yams in this recipe for sweet potatoes if you can’t find true yams.

Ingredients:

3 lbs yams
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425*F.
2. Peel and cut the yams into “fries”.

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3. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and then dump into a large ziploc bag. Pour in the vegetable oil and swirl it around until all of the seasoning is mixed into the oil.

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4. Pour the yam fries into the bag, close it tightly and shake and massage the bag until all of the fries are thoroughly coated in oil and seasoning.

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5. Spread the yam fries in a single layer on a baking sheet (you may need 2).

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/db5/63410078/files/2014/12/img_4849-1.jpg6. Bake for 30-40 mins, until slightly browned. Serve hot.

Quick and Healthy Snack for Older Babies and Toddlers (and Adults Too!)

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Sometimes I need to feed my toddler something that will tide her over longer than usual (for example if dinner is going to take longer than expected, or if we’re going to be out for awhile and I need her tummy to stay full). That’s when I turn to this snack because it’s not only quick and easy but also filling and energy-packed.

She didn’t initially like this snack when I first introduced it but after a few tries she started to enjoy it. After eating her leftovers the first few times I found that I also enjoy it so I will prepare it for myself sometimes too! It’s a great post-workout snack.

Ingredients:

1 banana, mashed
1-1 1/2 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp chia seeds
Dash of cinnamon

Directions: Simply mix all of the ingredients together and wait 10 mins for the chia seeds to soften, the serve.

Sweet and Sour Veggie Quesadillas

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I used to make quesadillas using barbecue sauce, but then one day I read the ingredient list and I was not impressed 😒. It’s hard to find a good barbecue sauce without added caramel coloring or other unwanted additives so I decided to try making my own.

My attempt at making barbecue sauce failed but I ended up with a great sweet and sour sauce instead. As luck would have it, sweet and sour sauce tastes great in quesadillas so here is my new quesadillas recipe:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (equivalent to 1/2 cup dry or 1-15 ounce can)
3 zucchinis
6 bell peppers, assorted colors
1 large onion
1/2 tsp sea salt
8-10 whole-grain tortillas
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Sauce:
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

1. Dice all of the vegetables and sauté in a little oil until tender. Add 1/2 tsp salt as well as the cooked black beans and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and simmer, stirring often, until the sauce thickens to a very dense syrup-like texture (about 20 mins). Add to cooked veggie and bean mixture and stir until coated (you may not need all of the sauce so add it gradually while stirring).

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3. Spread the mixture evenly across half of each tortilla, sprinkle a handful of grated cheese on top (optional) and fold the tortilla in half.

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4. Place the quesadillas on a baking sheet and bake them at 375*F for about 10-15 mins (until lightly browned underneath), then broil the tops until lightly browned. Remove from oven. Cut in halves (or thirds) and serve with sour cream.

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Makes 8-10 quesadillas (depending on how much stuffing you put in each quesadilla).

The Importance Of Using A Water Filter

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I’ve noticed something odd with a lot of people that I know: they drink filtered water yet cook with regular tap water.

Some people are under the impression that boiling water gets rid of heavy metals and other harmful chemicals. Others don’t even realize that there are harmful chemicals in their tap water in the first place. They think that the sole purpose of a water filter is to remove bacteria and other microorganisms.

Yes, boiling your water will kill microorganisms that can make you sick. But you cannot kill heavy metals or other toxic chemicals with heat. If anything, heating chemicals only makes them more reactive which increases the chances of turning them into a more harmful compound. Boiling water also releases those chemicals into your home by vaporizing them, which you then inhale. The only way to remove toxic chemicals from your tap water is with a filter or distillation system.

In an ideal world, the only chemical compound in your tap water would be H2O. But unfortunately tap water is treated with chlorine to kill illness-causing microorganisms and can also be contaminated with pesticides, lead and copper (in older homes that still have lead and copper pipes). Chlorine can react with organic matter in water to form disinfection by-products (DBP’s) such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids, which have been linked to cancer2 It is not the chlorine itself that is the problem, but the DBP’s.

I’m not saying that municipalities shouldn’t chlorinate water. I am grateful to be living in a developed country where I do not have to worry about access to safe drinking water. If it comes down to a choice between having chlorine in my water or E. Coli, I’ll take the chlorine. However, with today’s technology we can have water with neither. With the variety of water filters in the market today we can easily remove chlorine and other chemical contaminants to ensure we are drinking the purest water possible. DBP’s may not pose an immediate risk to our health in the same way illness-causing microorganisms do, but the damage caused by long-term low level exposure should not be ignored.

This is especially important when mixing baby formula with water and making baby food. Babies are more susceptible to the harmful effects of toxic chemicals in water due to their small body size and the fact that they are growing and developing so rapidly. Pregnant women should only drink filtered water since exposure to certain DBP’s during pregnancy has been found to be correlated with genomic damage which in turn raises cancer risk3.

Chemical contaminants in your water can cause reproductive problems and cancer over time 4. If you don’t have an under-the-sink filtration system, a filter jug or countertop filter
will work just fine. It is definitely more tedious to keep refilling a filter jug in order to get enough water to fill a pot for cooking; but wouldn’t you rather put in the extra effort than eat food that has absorbed chlorine and it’s carcinogenic by-products during cooking?

If you really want to limit your long-term exposure to chlorine and DBP’s, consider investing in a shower filter. People absorb more trihalomethanes (a DBP) through showering than other methods of exposure1. The vaporized chemicals also disperse throughout the rest of your home, contributing to indoor air pollution.

Remember that although the risk of getting cancer from your tap water is small, it is still a risk and combined with all of the other “small” risks in your daily life it can add up to a much bigger risk. The cumulative effect of all of these small risks is the bigger concern. And as always, the toxic effects are worse in children because their bodies and brains are still developing. That’s why it is so important to protect yourselves and your children by minimizing as many of these seemingly small risks as possible.

References:

1. Backer LC1, Ashley DL, Bonin MA, Cardinali FL, Kieszak SM, Wooten JV. Household exposures to drinking water disinfection by-products: whole blood trihalomethane levels. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 2000 Jul-Aug;10(4):321-6.

2. “Chlorinated Water”. Canadian Cancer Society. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

3. Stayner, Leslie Thomas; Pedersen, Marie; Patelarou, Evridiki; Decordier, Ilse; Vande Loock, Kim; Chatzi, Leda; Espinosa, Ana; Fthenou, Eleni; Nieuwenhuijsen, Mark J.; Gracia-Lavedan, Esther; Stephanou, Euripides G.; Kirsch-Volders, Micheline; Kogevinas, Manolis. Exposure to Brominated Trihalomethanes in Water During Pregnancy and Micronuclei Frequency in Maternal and Cord Blood Lymphocytes. Environmental Health Perspectives. Jan2014, Vol. 122 Issue 1, p100-106. 7p. 3 Charts. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1206434

4. “The Water We Drink AN INTERNATIONAL COMPARISON OF DRINKING W ATER QUALITY STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES.” David Suzuki Foundation. 1 Nov. 2006. Web.