Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GMO's, the poison in your food

Some of you might have heard me rant about GMOs on Facebook, or in conversations. If so, you might have picked up on my frustration and anger about the whole issue, and you might even have been annoyed and bored with my public display of indignation. I have been meaning and wanting to write a blurb about this for a long time. In fact, this is a major factor in why I decided to start blogging on food. Posts like this need some thoughtful consideration, preparation, and presentation, which is why it's taken me this long, but here I am.

This is my attempt at reaching a few more people in the awareness of what they are ingesting and how it is affecting their body in a negative way.

So what are GMOs, and what's all this noise about? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms, and they are made by forcing genes from one species, such as bacteria, viruses, animals, or humans, into the DNA of a food crop or animal to introduce a new trait. The result is foodlike substances that our body didn't evolve to recognize or metabolize. The reason for creating GMO crops was to increase production and create a more resistant crop. A crop that would resist the powerful pesticides and herbicides that are being sprayed over them and killing bugs and weeds. But what it really does, is that it produces a pesticide in the cell of the plant, and that plant itself becomes a living pesticide. So guess what happens to you, when you eat that plant? You are eating pesticide that continues to live inside of you and that binds to the nutrients in your body, depriving you of these essential nutrients. The genetic material inserted into GM foods transfers into bacteria living in your gut and continues to function, even long after you stop eating GM foods. The GM proteins of those foods continue to get produced inside us. Scary, right?

What are the health implications of this process? Unfortunately, only one study has been conducted on human beings and the impact of GMOs. However, many animal studies have led to alarming results. Quoting from this website, here are a few examples:

  • Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants
  • Mice eating GM corn for the long term had fewer, and smaller, babies
  • More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, and were smaller
  • Testicle cells of mice and rats on a GM soy change significantly
  • By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies
  • Rodents fed GM corn and soy showed immune system responses and signs of toxicity
  • Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen
  • Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced
  • The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer.
  • Studies showed organ lesions, altered liver and pancreas cells, changed enzyme levels, etc.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has reported that “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. 
Before the FDA allowed GMOs into food, several FDS scientists had warned that GM foods can create unpredictable health issues including allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. The long-term safety studies they recommended were ignored.

Not to mention all the environmental side effects and dangers that GMOs are presenting, which I won't get into here, but they are huge, and they are scary. The powerful pesticides and herbicides are creating what we call super weeds, and super bugs, that are becoming resistant to those powerful chemicals.

GMOs are practically impossible to avoid in America, because the FDA has not yet approved a campaign to label the GMOs in our food. According to justlabelit.org, studies show that 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling of Genetically Engineered foods. Unlike most other developed countries – such as 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and even China – the U.S. has no laws requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods. Infuriating, right? As a European, and as a mom, let me tell you that this issue has me very passionate. The thought that if I was raising my kids in Europe, they would be exposed to more than 50% less toxic crap in their food is nauseating enough that I am willing to spend hours researching, sharing resources and cooking whole organic real foods in my kitchen, even though it is time consuming and sometimes exhausting.

You may have heard of Monsanto, which is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world's leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed in the Roundup brand, and in other brands. Monsanto is also the second largest producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed; it provides the technology in 49% of the genetically engineered seeds used in the US market. They are very powerful and have a lot of money. They are slowly defeating numerous local organic farmers who are being forced to bankruptcy because they simply cannot compete with Monsanto.

Enough technicalities though. If you are interested in learning more about what GMOs really do to your intestinal tract, and what the long term side effects could be, check out the links and resources at the end of this post, or post a comment on this blog, letting me know you'd like to know more, or asking specific questions.
But for now, what you really need to know, is how to avoid them when you shop. GMOs are everywhere, in every kind of processed food you can think of. It's in your blueberry muffin and caramel macchiato latte at Starbucks, it's probably in that turkey roll you bought at Vons for your lunch, it's in your salad dressing, and in most of the foods that you buy at restaurants.

The best way to avoid GMO's is to only eat and cook organic whole foods. Real food. But that's not always realistic, possible or affordable. However, I urge you to look at the labels, and absolutely avoid buying and consuming high risk ingredients.

The NonGMOproject.org came up with a little flyer that I picked up at one of my favorite coffee shops, that is really helpful. I will share from that, and you can check their website and download their Non GMO Shopping Guide for more info.


- The 8 GM food crops are corn, soybeans, canola (oil), cottonseed, sugar beets, hawaiian papaya (most) and a small amount of zucchini and yellow squash.
So for these ingredients, make sure you ALWAYS buy organic. If that box of crackers says it contains canola oil and sugar, there is 90% chance those two ingredients are from GM crops. Also note that corn, soybean, canola and cottonseed oils are vegetable oils. Watch out for that in the labels!
- If a non-organic product made in North America lists "sugar" as an ingredient (and NOT pure cane sugar), then it is almost certainly a combination of sugar from both sugar cane and GM sugar beets.
- Dairy products may be from cows injected with GM bovine growth hormone. Look for labels stating No rBGH, rBST, or artificial homrones, or check brand listings at NonGMOShoppingGuide.com
- When you buy fruits and vegetables, look at those stickers on the produce, with numbers on them. Ever wondered what those mean? Here is the breakdown:
  •  4 digit numbers starting with 4 mean it's a conventionally grown produce 
  • Numbers starting with 8 mean it's a GMO
  • 5 digit numbers starting with 9 mean it's organic

Here is a little trick to remember these numbers: 4 is a bore, 8 I hate, 9 is fine.
You might notice certain numbers starting with 3 or 5. I was told that 3 is organic, and 5 as well, but that was just in an online discussion and not from an official source. So basically, stay away from even numbers and prefer the odd numbers!

Just to give you an idea of how infested with GM ingredients our food is, here is a sample of them which may be made from GM crops or GM micro-organisms:
Aspartame, baking powder, caramel color, citric acid, condensed milk, dextrin, erythritol, glutamate, glycerin, hdrolyzed begetable protein, isoflavones, lactic acid, malt, maltodextrin, modified starch, shoyu, tamari, tempeh, teriyaki marinade, tocopherols, whey powder, xanthan gum...

For those of you who are desperate for time, hate cooking or can't stay away from processed food, shop at Trader Joe's. Supposedly, anything that carries their label is guaranteed to be made with non-GMO ingredients. I asked a store manager if this was true and he said yes. But I also thought this was the case for Whole Foods, and a recent short documentary showed me that I was wrong. I went back to Trader Joe's with new eyes and realized that any processed foods, unless it's fully organic, is a risk. Sigh! I know, quite a headache for the busy working mom!

More links and resources:

Resourceful websites:

Jeffrey Smith is the author of "Seeds of deception". He is the expert in that matter and while I own his book but haven't read it yet, I highly recommend listening to some of his talks on youtube. Here is the one I listened to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWt0BdMsu0A&feature=related

If you don't have time to listen to the whole thing, go here for a 13 min presentation on the dangers of GMO

For additional info on the effect of GMO on farmers, the environment and our health, check out these movies: 



Stay healthy! Do it for you, for your kids, and spread the word. Don't get overwhelmed. I didn't change my diet overnight. I didn't learn all of this overnight. It's a process. Take it one step at a time, and share the results around you. Thanks for reading me and letting me share and make my little difference in the world :)

If you too, would like to take action, go here and follow the steps to make a difference and let your voice be heard. And go voting on this issue in November. 

Update: Here is a link to an article that talks about the future of GMOs and what else is in the process of being created as a GM crop. Stay informed and make sure you know the source of these foods: http://wakeup-world.com/2012/03/29/twenty-genetically-modified-foods-coming-to-your-plate.

For more interesting post on diverse food issues, as well as awesome recipes from other food renegades, click here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Master Tonic

It's not flu season, but in my house, we are passing around another cold/cough thing that finally got to me this morning. So I thought I would share what I do when that "tickle in my sore throat" makes its appearance.

The Master Tonic is one of those things that is absolutely disgusting, but so good for you! A family friend who is a missionary gives this to his students so they wouldn't get the dehli belly when they go on missions. 

When my husband introduced me to this years ago, I made fun of him. It took me years to have an open mind about it, but after seeing it heal me from many "beginnings of ...." various viruses, I'm now a convert, and we always have a bottle of Master Tonic in our fridge. 

It is not for the faint of heart, but it is worth the few seconds of discomfort it gives you, for the health it maintains in you. I start having an itchy throat, I take 2 tbsp twice a day, and within a few days, what could have turned into a bronchitis before, is GONE! But you have to take it at the first signs of disease. And you'd better not take it right before an important meeting or a hot date, because that stuff is potent and will give you terrible breath for about an hour, no matter how much listerine you gargle with afterwards. So what's in the brew?

1 cup chopped organic white onion
1 cup peeled and grated organic ginger
1 cup peeled and grated organic horseradish
1 cup fresh organic jalapeno  or cayenne peppers (with the seeds), chopped
1 cup organic garlic, minced
1 litre organic unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar

We grate the ginger and horseradish with a hand grater, but we put the onions, garlic cloves and peppers in the food processor. Be careful not to touch that potion with your bare hands or you might get burnt. Those chillies are HOT!

Put all the solid ingredients in a tall jar and cover with the vinegar. seal the jar, shake it to mix it well, and store in a cool dark place for two weeks, shaking the mixture once a day if possible.

After two weeks, place a sift over a glass container, and cover the sift with a cheese cloth, to filter the sediment. Pour the content into the sift, toss the scraps and pour the liquid back into the tall jar. Keep in the fridge and use as needed, 2 tbsp once or twice a day. I gargle with it first, then swallow it. 

Warning: Do not use on an empty stomach, and start with a teaspoon for the first few times. It is POTENT and can cause nausea or vomiting if you are not used to it.

OK, now I'm wondering if anyone is ever going to make this brew, after reading all the warnings. I hope so. This is a powerful, natural antibiotic and circulatory tonic.

Still skeptical? Google "benefits of the master tonic" just for fun ;)


When you let the liquid sit for a few hours, you will notice a layer of sediment gathering at the bottom. I usually gently pour the clear liquid into another container, trying to leave the sediment at the bottom. It might take me a few times of transferring the liquid, but once I have done that, the liquid should look like apple cider vinegar, a beautiful, transparent gold.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

sneaky veggie fruity popsicles

I'm always looking for creative ways to get more fruits and vegetables into my kids' diet. With summer approaching, and actually in full bloom on this side of the world, I am shifting from soups to smoothies and frozen treats. My kids love homemade popsicles, and I love them too because it's an easy way for me to sneak in stuff that they would never otherwise eat. I bought the molds at rite aid or target, you can find them online I'm sure, and I'm sure there is also a BPA free version of those, somewhere. I've just had those for several years and they have served me well.

You can get real creative with these, and throw a number of combinations into the mix. Some days, my kids aren't too crazy about their green smoothie. So rather than forcing them or tossing it away, I pour it into a popsicle mold for a later treat. Last year, I started adding leafy greens and chia seeds to the mix and this year, I added some green powder, and believe it or not, my kids didn't budge. They loved it! I even served it to 3 of my kids' friends yesterday, who were here on a playdate, and they all gulped it down.

So here is an example of a pretty green and good for you popsicle. The barley powder doesn't taste great, and it's pretty strong, so use it sparingly, and feel free to add more banana or other sweet fruit to cover the taste. 

1 banana
1/2 cup blackberries
3/4 cup blueberries
3/4 cup raspberries
2 cups packed kale leaves
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/4 cup walnuts
1tbsp barley or spirulina powder
1/4 tsp stevia

A little note on Barley Powder and why it might be good to include it in your diet:

NUTRITIONAL VALUE - A concentrated source of nearly three dozen vitamins and minerals, barley grass is particularly rich in vitamins A, C, B1, B2, folic acid, and B12; calcium; iron; potassium; and chlorophyll. Unlike most plants, barley grass provides all nine essential amino acids (those which your body can't produce).
HEALING CLAIMS - Barley grass is a powerful antioxidant that is believed to help the body kill cancer cells and overcome a variety of ailments, including acne and ulcers.

Put everything in the blender, add 2 cups of water and mix. Add more water if you want a smoother consistency. Once the mixture is well blended and smooth, pour into popsicle molds and place in the freezer for several hours.

En Francais:

Melanger dans le mixer:

1 banane
1 nectarine
1/2 tasse de mures
3/4 tasse de myrtilles
3/4 tasse de framboises
2 tasses de feuilles de chou kale, ou cottes de bettes ou epinards
2cs de graines de lin moulues
1/4 tasse de noix
1cs de poudre d'algue, spirulina ou d'orge (c'est sous forme de poudre verte)
1/4 cc de stevia ou autre adoucissant naturel
2 tasses d'eau

Verser le tout dans des moules a glace et mettre au congelateur.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Herbs and lemon chickpea salad

It's almost the weekend, time for barbecues and potlucks and summer meals. I am totally in the mood for cold soups, salads of all sorts and fresh picked fruits. This week, I have cooked mostly salads for dinner, so I've had to find vegetable sources of protein to supplement the leafy greens.
I have memories as a child, of my mom soaking dried garbanzo beans and making them into a salad with red bell peppers and lots of parsley. This week, I had a craving for that salad, so I took those dry beans out of my pantry, soaked them in water for 8 hours, and at night, threw them in the crock pot on low with water, salt, and a slice of kombu (you can also use bay leaves and cloves, to help increase digestibility and reduce acidity. They were ready to use by morning. I drained them and let them cool in the fridge, and at night, put together this delicious salad, with whatever I had on hand. The citrus flavor mixed with the herbs, which we grow in our garden,  was absolutely delicious and refreshing! Enjoy :)

4 cups cooked chickpea
2 tomatoes, chopped
6 scallions, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cubed

2 lemons, juiced
2tbsp hemp oil or olive oil
1tbsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp salt

En Francais:
4 tasses de pois chiches cuits
2 tomates coupees en cubes
6 oignons the printemps, coupes en lamelles
1 tasse de persil frais hache
1 tasse de coriandre frais hache
1/4 tasse de menthe fraiche hachee
1/2 oignon rouge, coupes en lamelles fines
1 avocat, coupe en cubes

le jus de deux citrons
2 cs d'huile de chanvre ou olive
1cs de sirop d'agave ou sucre integral
1/2 cc de sel

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Raw Greenylicious Herb Soup

Obviously, I am in the mood for summer soups these days. I was browsing one of my favorite blogs and stumbled upon this rawfully tempting soup recipe, which she herself had found on this other really cool blog. So I'm going to do just what she did: borrow it and share it further. I can't take the credit for it, except that I modified the quantities a little bit and added lime juice.

So without further due, here is the super easy, 10 minute prep recipe:

1.5 medium sized Avocado
4 stalks of Celery, finely chopped
1 large handful of roughly chopped Cilantro
1 small handful of roughly chopped Mint
1.5 cup Coconut water
1 cup cold water

juice of 1 lime1 small tsp of Himalayan salt/Celtic sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground Black pepper
Some fresh garden cress for decoration and final flavor touch

Cut and scoop out the avocados in a large bowl or a high speed blender.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a hand blender or in the high speed blender. Keep refrigerated. Serve chilled.

En Francais:
1.5 avocat
4 branches de celeri coupe fin
1 grande poignee de coriandre frais, hache
une petit poignee de menthe fraiche, hachee
1.5 tasse d'eau de coco (a ne pas confondre avec le lait de coco)
1 tasse d'eau fraiche
le jus d'un citron vert
1 cc de sel marin
1cc de poivre

Verser le tout dans le mixer et mixer jusqu'a l'obtention d'une creme onctueuse. Mettre au frigo et servir frais.
garnir avec du cresson ou autre herbe fraiche.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Aragula Soup

It's almost summer and while we love soup in our family, the weather doesn't really call for a hot steaming soup. In the winter, I make lots of soups. It's an easy dinner to make or throw in the crock pot, and it's a sneaky way of getting the kids to eat vegetables.
Salad is still a big battle with our little one, though I'm hopeful for a turnaround at about 3 1/2 yrs old, just like it happened with my oldest.

The other night though, I got both of them to eat a big bowl of arugula! I found this appetizing recipe in Health magazine and thought I would give it a shot. I ended up adding the juice of a lime to give it a little spunk, and it was simply delicious. The next day, I ate it cold for dinner and added chickpeas in it for protein, and it was just as good. So here is a summer soup you can eat hot or chilled, that will pleasantly surprise your taste buds:

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in  a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1 chopped medium onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves; cook until translucent (5 minutes). Stir in 1 tsp cornstarch (I used arrowroot powder instead). Whisk in 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth and 1/2 cup low-fat evaporated milk (I used soy milk or you could use coconut milk or regular milk). Stir in 1 1/2-2 bags of arugula (7oz each). The original recipe called for baby arugula, but I just used regular. Add 1/4 cup mixed chopped herbs (mint, chives, parsley, basil, tarragon, oregano, etc... Stir until wilted. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Squeeze in a whole lime and mix in. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Divide among 6 bowls and garnish each with 2tsp plain greek yogourt and 1tsp sliced chives (I used lemon thyme). Salt and pepper to taste.

Of course, the boys added some grated parmesan in their soup :)

En Francais:

Chauffer une cs d'huile d'olive dans une grande casserole, a feu  moyen. Ajouter un oignon hache et trois gousses d'ail hachees. Faire revenir pendant 5 minutes. Ajouter 1 cc de maizena, . Melanger au fouet 6 tasses de bouillon de poule et 1/2 tasse de lait ou lait de coco. Ajouter 2 sachets d'aragula fraiche et 1/4 de tasse d'herbes fraiches (menthe, persil, tarragon, ciboulette, basilique, thym citronne, etc...), melanger jusqu'a ce que les feuilles se ramolissent. Couvrir et laisser reposer 5 minutes. Puis ajouter le jus d'un citron vert, sel et poivre a volonter, et mixer le tout jusqu'a l'obtention d'une creme lisse. repartir dans 6 bols et ajouter 2 cc de sere ou sere maigre et une cc de ciboulette hachee. parmesan si vous le souhaitez. Moi je n'avais pas de ciboulette alors j'ai utilise du thym citronne.

Cette soupe peut se consommer chaude ou froide. Bon appetit!