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Crazy Sexy Brownies?

June 7, 2011 •  2 comments.

 •  Blog, Getting Started, News, Recipes, Uncategorized

Written by Robyn O’Brien

I am a huge fan of a woman named Kris Carr. She has absolutely taken cancer to task. Not only did she conquer the disease, but she also dismantled a lot of the barriers that prevent us from accomplishing seemingly impossible goals. And she helps others to do the same.

Kris challenges convention, unbridles creativity and inspires others to create the changes that they want to see in their lives. And her work is absolutely heroic.

So when her blog recently suggested making brownies with black beans, I had to laugh at how crazy that sounded. Always a fan of black beans (I grew up in Texas) and always on the hunt for variations on sweet-treats for my kids, I couldn’t quite picture how to weave the two together, and I loved the challenge.

So I am going to give this one a try. And if you are interested in doing the same, as well as learning more about Kris, her New York Times best-selling books and her incredible take on life, visit Kris’ site for added inspiration at Crazy Sexy Life. And bookmark it.

Black Bean Brownies

Originally seen on Crazy Sexy Life by Meredith Terranova, RD

-15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
-2 bananas
-1/3 cup honey, maple syrup or molasses
-1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
-1 tablespoon cinnamon
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/4 cup raw sugar (optional)
-1/4 cup instant oats (gluten free if preferred)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8- by 8-inch pan and set aside. Combine all ingredients, except oats, in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, scrapping sides as needed. Stir in the oats. If too soft, add another 1/4 cup oats or flour.

Pour batter into the pan. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

Notes: Because there isn’t any flour these brownies come out pretty dense.
Rolled oats may be substituted for the instant oats. Put the rolled oats in the food processor.
Use optional sugar if your bananas are still green and not very ripe.

A Meat Producer Sheds Light: “It Isn’t Just About Food”

June 3, 2011 •  no comments.

 •  Blog, News, Uncategorized

Over the last few years, we have had the honor of meeting some remarkable people doing extraordinary things. And more often than not, social media has enabled a lot of these connections.

Rod Morrison is no exception. He is the CEO of a meat company and his constant efforts to educate consumers about the safety of meat are inspiring.

So when we recently asked him if he’d be interested in writing about his work for AllergyKids, he asked what he should write about, and we said: What inspired you?

Rod Morrison’s answer is below:

You asked, What inspires you? Well it happened while I was mindfully trying to ask myself what does inspire me. My cell phone rang and I picked it up, on the other end was a good friend that I had just visited with the day before.

He said, “I forgot to ask you yesterday if you had heard.”

“Heard what?” I said, about Glen. “No, what?”

“Damn, I was hoping you had” he said.

It was then that I realized I was about to hear some bad news.

The words that came next were not in the least what was flashing through my head, car wreck, divorce, sold the farm. No, worse than that. He had not been feeling well for the last few months and had just received word that he had cancer of the pancreas and the liver, a death sentence.

Now at this point I could go into all the life events that Glen and I have experience together but most of what we did would only lead to more questions and wonderment. Let’s just say we have been to hell and back on several occasions. Glen is, to this day a conventional farmer and a damn good one. Glen never left the farm. Even given the chance he would not have changed his position in life of being a conventional farmer. And for that effort, Glen has just received the time line that every person with cancer must ask, how long do I have? What he was told was 3 months to 5 years. I know Glen well enough that he will take this time line and live life to the fullest because that who he is. And as I’m setting hear putting words to paper I am for certain that both of us are asking the same question. Why did he continue down the road of conventional agriculture? His yearly use of chemicals and fertilizers that have never been tested for their affects on human tissues is certainly weighing on his mind as it does on mine.

One event that both Glen and I had experienced was the effects of malathion. Malathion is a pesticide that is widely used in agriculture, residential landscaping, public recreation areas, and in public health pest control programs such as mosquito eradication. In the US, it is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide. This was back in the 70’s Glen had an infestation of alfalfa weevil in a large field so he had it sprayed be a local crop duster. Five hours after the application Glen and I went to look at the field.

What we both saw convinced the both of us that we would never use malathion ever again. Hundred of dead birds that had been feeding on the weevil were scattered on the ground outside of the field. Glen and I were both sick because neither of us were made aware of the environmental impacts of this pesticide let alone the human impacts over time. For me to write that I find inspiration in the slow demise of a long time personal friend sound heartless or mean, what I really feel is anger about the loss which then I turn into the inspiration to keep moving in an organic direction.

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN?

Change in the area of how and what we eat can be overwhelming. It requires time (reading, talking, and seeking reliable resources to understand a fairly complex system that we thought we could trust, a system of food production and marketing that is deeply imbedded in our culture). And what you discover on this journey is initially difficult to face. And if you do take control of your food consumption behavior, you will have to pay more for your food. Neither of these changes (time and money) are attractive. I will be frank, it isn’t easy. But is it worth it? Yes.

As I write this, it is early Spring. Farmers are on their tractors preparing ground for another growing season. Yesterday we had a light rain and I note an overnight hint of green in the winter-brown grass, trees are budding and geese are honking the overhead highways back north. Everything is hope and promise. And I connect all that hope and promise to the land, to the sun, to the waters that presently reside in the snow-covered mountains.

But I also know that soon I will see enormous plastic containers of synthetic chemicals and toxins stitching their way across fields. Small planes will spray these fields with poisonous concoctions. The big seed companies will begin shipping tons of genetically engineered seeds that insure a “perfect” looking vegetable–but at what cost? Suddenly convenience and cheap prices seem like twin sins. I don’t use that word lightly, but it seems to fit.

So, my hope is finding another way. And how, in the end, can you argue with food choices that not only help you become more healthy, but that give you more control and even offer you the opportunity to get to know your farmer? I have met more incredible people with the most fascinating stories . . . my life is richer, perhaps not financially, but richer, nonetheless.

Change is difficult. But once you start, you can’t go back. I just urge people to take that first step. Perhaps reading this is that first step.

Or perhaps you’ll discover what I discovered: it isn’t just about food, it’s also about relationships. When people buy my meat, I feel we are all sitting at the same table. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy talking at the table.

To learn more about Rod Morrison, his work and the process of meat production, please visit www.rockymtncuts.com

The Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup

June 1, 2011 •  30 comments.

 •  Blog, News

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was first developed in the mid-1960s and, because of its unique physical and functional properties, was widely embraced by food formulators. As scientific research continues to mount over its role in obesity, so does the controversy over this man-made liquid sweetener and preservative, and the corn industry is ramping up an ad campaign to counter the negative publicity.

But consumers and the sugar industry aren’t buying it. With sales of products containing HFCS at all-time lows, and the sugar industry now suing corn refiners for false and misleading claims, food manufacturers like Kraft are beginning to formulate their products without the use of HFCS in response to consumer demand. With the increasing number of Americans who now have a corn allergy that comes as welcome news.

Today’s article is a guest post from Dr. Jonny Bowden, also known as The Rogue Nutritionist, a nationally known expert on weight loss and nutrition whose articles have appeared in Forbes, the New York Times, Time Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.

I am in awe of the recent TV commercials where two mothers are talking and one questions the other about serving some sweetened fruit punch to her kids. The first mother says, “That stuff’s got high fructose corn syrup in it, and you know what they say about that.

To which the second mother replies, “What? That it’s natural and made from corn? And that in moderation, it’s perfectly fine?”

Clever commercial. And utterly misleading.

Understanding Sugar…

In the beginning, there was plain old table sugar, also known by its scientific name,sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide (“di” meaning “two,” “saccharide” meaning “sugar”). That means it’s actually a blend of two “simple” (mono) saccharides, in this case glucose and fructose.

Take a molecule of glucose and a molecule of fructose, link them with a chemical bond and presto, you’ve got yourself a molecule of sucrose. Put a bunch of those sucrose molecules together in a bowl, place the bowl on the table at the local diner with a little spoon in it, and you’re in business.

Now it’s pretty much a given that high intake of sugar is bad for you, and a list of all reasons why would pretty much fill a book, so let’s save that for another day. But what’s interesting is that a fair amount of research has been done investigating exactly which of the two components of sugar is worse for you—glucose or fructose. And the hands-down winner in the “this stuff is bad” category is…fructose.

Figuring Out Fructose…

Fructose is a naturally occurring fruit sugar found, for example, in an apple. In this form, fructose is absolutely fine.

But the difference between fructose in an apple and fructose in a soda is the difference between a beautiful fur coat on a wild fox and that same fur on the back of a lady at the opera. It’s gorgeous on its original owner (the fox). But on the lady? Not so much.

When fructose is found in its original setting (like an apple or a berry), it’s surrounded with healthful nutrients like phytochemicals and fiber. When it’s extracted and made into a liquid sweetener, it’s a complete nightmare.

Studies have shown that fructose produces insulin resistance in animals. Insulin resistance is a central feature of metabolic syndrome and type ll diabetes.

More than any other kind of sugar, fructose raises triglycerides—a serious risk factor for heart disease. In 2000, Canadian researchers at the University of Toronto fed a high-fructose diet to rodents that have a fat metabolism similar to our own—Syrian golden hamsters. In a matter of weeks, the hamsters developed both elevated triglycerides and insulin resistance.

Fructose has also been linked to non-alcoholic, fatty-liver disease. Rats that were given high fructose diets developed a number of undesirable metabolic abnormalities including elevated triglycerides, weight gain, and extra abdominal fat. So it’s no wonder it contributes mightily to creating new fat on your body.

Interestingly, fructose does not raise blood sugar very much, leading to the wrongheaded idea (popular for a while) that it’s a “good” sugar for diabetics. It’s not. It’s bad news.

From Bad to Worse…

Now in the “olden” days, sugar—table sugar that is, plain old sucrose—was expensive. Not maybe for the average Joe picking up a bag at the grocery store, but for food manufacturers wanting to sweeten products, it was definitely a high-ticket ingredient.

Between sugar tariffs that drove the price of sugar higher and corn subsidies the forced the price of corn lower, a perfect environment was setup to allow food manufacturers to find a solution to the problem of expensive sugar. Enter high fructose corn syrup.

Take a subsidized crop (like corn), perform a bunch of chemical operations on it, and voila, you had something that was even sweeter than sucrose at a fraction of the cost. Better yet, it could be added to virtually everything on the table, making those items even more “delicious” and desirable and, of course, moving more product.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. Chemically speaking, high fructose corn syrup reallyisn’t that different from table sugar (sucrose). High fructose corn syrup—at least the most common kind found in soft drinks—is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. It’s not a huge difference from the 50/50 mix in plain old sugar.

But the problem is that it’s everywhere.

“The low cost of high fructose corn syrup allowed the explosion of 20-ounce sodas, super big gulps and the like to happen,” says C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD, a research scientist and nutritionist at the USDA. “Because sucrose was quite expensive, for years, sodas were limited to the 12-ounce can. We have also had an explosion of candies, bakery items, and ice cream novelties, which would have been just too costly if they were all made with sugar. But now, because of high fructose corn syrup, these items are much cheaper to produce.”

So, no matter how you cut the HFCS-sweetened cake, we’re now consuming more fructose than ever. And refined fructose-—whether we get it from table sugar or from the ubiquitous HFCS—is bad news for your health.

When the Corn Refiners Assocation fights back with their “pro-HFCS” ads, it seems to come down to two arguments: One, it’s no worse than sugar (OK maybe, but that’s like saying Salems are no worse than Marlboros), and two, it’s natural because cause it’s made from corn.

Maybe so, but so is ethanol, and I’m not drinking that either.

To learn more about the author of this article, Dr. Jonny Bowden, whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC and on Fox News, please visit http://www.jonnybowden.com