Healthy Eating Isn’t Synonymous with Expensive

Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

When the conversation turns to healthier eating, it seems like someone always brings up the idea that it’s impossible to eat healthy on a budget. While it’s true that a package of ramen noodles is cheaper than a box of whole wheat pasta, that’s only part of the story. If you don’t invest in the food you put in your body, you will pay ten-fold in medical expenses throughout your life.

Just about everyone is looking to save money these days, but many frugal foods can also improve your health. Whether you are saving money by comparing insurance rates or making your own household cleaning products, add eating healthy to the list of ways to save a buck. Plus, health insurance rates go down if more people are healthy and requiring less money to maintain their health.

Fruits and Vegetables Are Cheap. No, really, they are. Compare the cost of an apple to that of, say, a doughnut. They’re about the same price. But you can’t deny that the apple is a healthier choice with more real vitamins and minerals the body needs to stay strong. Not only will it give your body the vitamins and minerals you need, it’s loaded with fiber and will keep you satisfied longer than the doughnut. If veggies seem more expensive during the winter months, head to the freezer aisle. Frozen vegetables are just as good for you as fresh.

Making changes to your dinner menu to include more vegetables will also save you money on your grocery bill. Cutting back on meat and focusing more on stir fries, chili and soups that rely primarily on veggies and less on meat are better for you and much cheaper. While protein is still important, you don’t need to cut meats out completely, but learn to use them sparingly. Boneless skinless chicken thighs are a great budget buy or even better, bone-in and skin-on chicken pieces help cut costs too. Watch for sales, especially on whole chickens and you can usually get all-natural options for $1.99 per pound. Now, consider that you can stretch one chicken breast to feed a family of four by making it an accent in the meal instead of the main course. Now that’s a good deal.

Packaged food is cheap, but think about what you are really paying for. Food that comes in boxes is usually loaded with sodium, fat and calories, not to mention preservatives and other chemicals. Try these inexpensive and healthy choices from the canned and boxed food aisle that are cheap, healthy and have a long shelf life even without preservatives:

  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Tuna
  • Kidney beans
  • Diced or stewed tomatoes
  • Chunky pasta sauces
  • Whole grain tortillas
  • Salsa
  • Low-sodium broth based soups

Plan your meals and try these tips on your next shopping trip, and see how much you can save.

$100 Cheap Food Project – Week 2

The $100 Cheap Food Challenge Week 2

This post is long over due. We’re talking ridiculously long. The week 1 post was almost ancient history, but thanks to my readers who have pushed me to get the rest of this series out, I kept going. Cheap Food Here is showing our readers that it is possible to spend just $100 per person per month on food. Our week 1 post was created when we were living in Costa Rica so certain foods were cheaper (most produce and fruit) but certain other foods were more expensive (specialty items, imported foods, cheese, meat, seafood, etc) so it has surprisingly balanced out now that we’ve completed week 2 since moving to St. Petersburg, Florida.

Remember that eating out isn’t going to be possible on this tight of a budget. There’s almost no way to stick to just spending $100 per person per month for food if you even eat out once. Prepared foods are much more expensive than homemade and can ruin your whole food budget if you let it. It’s also much easier to spend less than $100 per person if you’re doubling the recipes listed and feeding more than just two people.

There are two great posts from last month for 5 ways to save money on food and 5 more ways to save money on food. These are perfect for those of you doing the $100 cheap food challenge.

Here is the video again for those of you who missed the week 1 post:

VIDEO: Can you live on $100 per month for food?


Reduce snacking and eating between meals.

One of the most critical ways to save money is to reduce snacking, especially processed food snacks. This experiment was much easier when we cut out all chips, granola bars, boxed crackers, bottled drinks and junk food and replaced it with nutritious snacks like fruit, homemade crackers, nuts and other cheap, but healthy snacks. This may sound impossible because you get hungry half way between breakfast and lunch and then twice again between lunch and dinner, but knowing what to eat to reduce hunger is critical.

A high protein breakfast is the easiest way to sustain you through the morning. This means eating eggs, beans, meats, whole grains and vegetables early in the morning and in decent quantities. This is a tough transition if you’re not a big eater in the morning but once you ease into it and have go-to meals to prepare in the mornings, you’ll notice that you don’t get hungry until it’s time for lunch. Stay away from just eating cereals, breads, bagels, pancakes, biscuits and other high-carb, sugary foods because your body digests these foods faster and we all know that high-carb diets are a cause for concern with weight and diabetes.

If you do need a snack during the day, which is bound to happen, stay away from carbs and try to eat vegetables or home made snacks that are inexpensive and provide nutrition. Something that is not just a temporary escape from hunger.

Week 2 Menu

Below is the cheap food menu I’ve put together to get you started and prove you can eat healthy and fully on $50 per week for two people. Some of the recipes in the list below are from Cheapfoodhere.com and some are from our favorite foodies. Try not to use canned goods unless you have them already, but know that you are getting less than half of the nutritional value from canned goods that you would from fresh or frozen produce.

With a lot of the recipes, it’s good to reduce the quantity of expensive ingredients (example: cheese or meat) or use a substitute for something less expensive and perhaps more healthy.

Breakfast

  1. Fried Eggs with Spinach and curried garbanzo beans
  2. All Natural Granola Cereal with Bananas and Craisins
  3. French Toast with peanut butter, banana and granola
  4. Fried Eggs with Spinach and curried garbanzo beans
  5. Oatmeal w/Craisins and flax and an almond milk berry shake
  6. Feta and chive biscuits (follow recipe but sub feta for cheddar) with scrambled eggs and turkey bacon.

Lunch

  1. Homemade mini pizza with turkey bacon, feta and jalapeño (follow recipe but change out toppings)
  2. Citrus Lentil Salad with homemade hummus and carrot sticks
  3. Falafel with cucumbers
  4. Leftover Slow cooker chicken tikka masala
  5. Leftover Cornish Hen and Dumplings
  6. Leftover Homemade Gnocchi with Lemon Sage Butter

Dinner

  1. Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice
  2. Spicy Black Bean Burgers served on Pita (makes 6 large patties, so freeze 3-4 for upcoming week)
  3. Cornish Hen and Dumplings (we didn’t make the cornbread muffins)
  4. Homemade Gnocchi with Lemon Sage Butter
  5. Leftover Cornish Hen and Dumplings
  6. Leftover Chicken Tikka Masala

Snacks

  1. Red Curry Roasted Garbanzo Beans (follow recipe but sub curry paste for creole seasoning)
  2. Homemade Crackers with Sea Salt
  3. Trail Mix of almonds, Craisins and cashews.
  4. Garbanzo Bean Flour Homemade Flatbread
  5. Cucumber Boats with Carrot Dip
  6. Leftover babaganoush and pita

 

Week 2 Grocery List: Download Here

Since this is week 2, there are several items from the week 1 shopping list that will be leftover to include in this week’s meals without buying new. These items as well as those that I already had on hand as a staple item are indicated with an ‘x’ next to them and the price column has been left blank.

As you know we are advocates of growing as much of your own produce as possible and supporting your local farmers as well. Buying in-season produce greatly reduces the cost and often times buying frozen produce is cheaper since they were picked during peak season. Keep all of this in mind when choosing items to buy for the receipes.

Do some research in advance. There are Web sites like www.mygrocerydeals.com that is a free resource for you to find the best deal on items in your area before even getting into your car. Most likely your favorite grocery has their pricing and specials online for you to organize your trip to get the best deals without having to drive all over town.

As we said with week 1, make sure when you go shopping, you stick to the list, and only to the list. Don’t make impulse buys but feel free to choose a cheaper type of item to substitute based on what’s on sale. Good luck and let me know how you’re doing with the challenge.

5 More Ways to Save Money on Food

5 more ways to save money on the food budget

In case you didn’t catch my first post about 5 ways to save money on food, make sure you go back and check it out too. There are plenty of ways to save money on food, and below I have focused on five very important things to keep you on the straight and narrow when you’re in the grocery store. This doesn’t mean boring food, but it could potentially encroach on some of your food crutches that are driving up your monthly food budget and aren’t a requirement for your health. Take a look and feel free to comment any other ideas you have or feedback with your experience with any of the 5 more ways to save money on food.

1. Reduce expensive meat consumption

This is a true sacrifice for most. Americans love meat. There are advertising campaigns for Beef just so you’ll keep craving cattle. And while eating meat at every meal isn’t exactly healthy, it’s a habit the US culture has fallen into. A lot of people are of the belief that you need to eat meat to get the proper amount of protein. But remember, you can get plenty of protein from legumes like beans or lentils and they are a fraction of the cost. When you are looking to control the food budget, meats are one of the easier parts to cut out. But, if you still want to keep it in the meal plan, you can stretch the dollar when buying meat by getting a low-end cut of beef or pork and cook it for half a day in the slow cooker. The Crock Pot is a miracle-worker on tough meat and turns it into a tender morsel after the 10th hour or so.

2. Make homemade snacks

More often than not we find ourselves cruising down the chip or cracker aisle looking for something to throw in a baggie and take to work or to send the kids to school with. However, you need to resist the urge and really look at how much money you spend on processed foods especially snacks. There are healthy recipes all over the internet for home made snacks. For example here is a home made cracker recipe and another more simple cracker recipe that goes great with cheese, hummus dip, garbanzo flatbread, roasted red pepper spread and the list goes on. Taking whole foods as snacks will sustain you much better than processed foods, so when you are making your shopping list, think ahead about what you can buy to make at home or grab that’s as easy as cutting up some apples.

3. Eat in groups

A weekly tradition in our old neighborhood in Charlotte was to have everyone over to someone’s house each week for a pot luck dinner. The host made the main course and everyone else brought a side dish or dessert. Sometimes we’d set a budget limit on the dishes which had the tendency to be the most creative. Themes work well for group dinners and inspires the cooks to branch out of their comfort zone. The key here is to eat in bulk and thus spend less money. It’s far easier to cook for multiple people than just yourself and it’s a lot more interesting to share a meal with a group of people.

4. Eat a healthy, decent-sized breakfast

This tip I can’t stress enough. In order to give yourself the energy you need to be sustained throughout the day, a full healthy breakfast is absolutely necessary. Some people I know eat two breakfasts, one when they first wake up that includes mostly fresh fruit and juice and then once they are up and moving or after their morning workout, they eat a second breakfast of eggs, gallo pinto (beans and rice) with whole grain bread or a bagel. The first breakfast helps you wake up and get moving, while the second breakfast will sustain you until the afternoon when lunchtime rolls around. It’s amazing how much better your day can be and the energy you can find when you’ve filled your body with the fuel of fresh fruit, a protein and whole grain. This keeps you from needing unhealthy, expensive snacks and sodas to give you the false energy you need to make it to lunchtime. Fill yourself up early in the day and you won’t have to eat a huge lunch or snack in between.

5. Use dried goods instead of canned

A little research goes a long way with the cost of dried goods versus canned. When you can find it, the fresh or frozen goods are the most healthy, but in the case of beans or legumes, dried will beat out canned any day of the week. A bag of dried beans will make as much as 5 times more than the same price of beans in cans. BigLots is a great resource for dried goods. Just the other week we found bags of garbanzo beans marked down to $0.25 per bag. It was a rare, but excellent find.

It’s a little more labor intensive to soak and then cook the beans, but you can control the flavor better, avoid weird canning preservatives and of course see an immediate price savings. Our house is full of dried goods including split peas, lentils, garbanzos, black and red beans, etc. A crock pot is also a miracle on dried goods so you can set it to low and come back in a few hours to perfectly cooked beans or lentils.

5 Ways to Save Money on Food

What’s the best way to save money on the food budget?

With food being one of the largest parts of the food budget, we often struggle with how to make cuts without feeling like you’re not feeding yourself or your family properly. This is definitely not the case and I have proved it in my $100 Cheap Food Challenge I wrote about in 2010. This case study does some quick interviews with people to discover that, not only do people have no clue how much they spend each month on food, they think it’s impossible to survive on just $100 per person per month. Now, granted, it is more difficult to live on $100 per month when it’s just one person, but it gets easier as you add more to the household. If you have five members of the family that you’re feeding, it’s easier to limit your food spending to $500 than for the single person to keep it under $100.

While it’s not easy to change your habits, it is easy to reduce the cost of food for the month by following a few simple guidelines. These guidelines aren’t going to suggest you eat off of the dollar menu at fast food restaurants or simply eat rice and beans or Ramen noodles. While those foods are in fact cheap, they end up being expensive in the long run when considering how unhealthy you’ll become and have to pay more for doctors, prescriptions, etc. So remember, just because it’s cheap now doesn’t mean it’s the most cost effective way to eat and live long term.

Most people look at the way they eat as a necessity in life, but it’s amazing how much you can save if you plan, eat the proper diet and take the time to cook at home. The choices you make at the grocery store or convenience store (*gasp!) really affects your budget, even if it’s just $10 at a time. Let’s take a look at the suggestions Cheap Food Here has put together since being on their mission to eat creatively on a modest budget.

1. Don’t eat out!

Believe it or not, eating out is the fastest way to blow through your food budget. It may seem convenient and delicious and trump anything you could make yourself at home, but it’s amazing how much you can save by staying out of restaurants. If you do decide that taking a break from cooking is a must, do it sparingly and don’t order drinks if you can help it. Drinks end up costing as much or more than an extra entree.

Another way to save money is to share an appetizer and an entree. Typically that is more than enough food to satisfy you and you’ve saved the loot from the extra box of carry-out you would have let go bad in the fridge later that week.

2. Ditch the bottled drinks

It goes without saying that you should already ditch the smoking habit if not for the health concerns but for the cost. But in comparison, drinking soft drinks or bottled juices, waters, etc are driving your food budget through the roof! Not only are most bottled drinks unhealthy, they are extremely expensive.

The sale of bottled water dropped by 9% in 2008 and I imagine it’s been going down since then and for good reason. Why not just carry your own water with you when you’re out and about. This cuts back dramatically on cost as well as help reduce trash.

3. Stick to your grocery list

There isn’t anything the retailer wants more than for you to act on impulse during your entire shopping trip. But hey, I know it’s hard to avoid the fancy packaging, the end caps and aisle violators that just insist on having their products jump into your cart. But make sure you know what you’re up against and have a clear objective in mind. Get only the items on your list, put the blinders on and get in and out as fast as possible.

4. Make sure your coupons are actually saving you money

A lot of times it’s not cheaper to use a coupon. If you know which stores to buy your staple items from and check the prices before even leaving the house, you’ll save more money than if you had a brand-named coupon for a product you don’t normally buy. Those manufacturers want you to buy their expensive products, so they try to make you think you’re saving money with a coupon. Most likely there is a different brand without a coupon that will cost less than the brand-name with a coupon, so be careful how you price out products and really look at the end price.

5. Reduce pre-packaged meals

Although it might seem smart at the time to buy the box of macaroni and cheese or the frozen Healthy Choice meal, there is hardly any nutritional value in most pre-packaged meals and considering the portions, you could easily make the same meal from scratch for less money. Buying the ingredients and making it yourself with the proper type of seasonings and salt will be more delicious and healthy. It’s good to make meals in bulk and then freeze them in separate containers when you’re ready for them throughout the week. Be careful when you see pre-packaged meals that look quick and easy; a cost comes with the convenience.

Guest Post – Fresh From the Farm to Your Table

Costa Rica Family Farmed Organic Food…Comida Organica Express Delivers Puerto Viejo To Limon

It has been a life changing journey driven by the desire for a better, sustainable lifestyle. It has been an adventure of seven years leading my wife and I to life on a jungle farm on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast and inspiring us to gather and organize organic family farmers from various regions of the country. The result has been a beautiful organization which can deliver (within reasonable time) exceptional organic quality goodies at family prices anywhere from Talamanca to Limon with delivery coming soon to the San Jose Metro area.

My wife’s name is Mileidy and mine Carlos. She was born here in Costa Rica, I was born in New Jersey. Since we met, our dream has been to live on a farm harvesting food free of chemicals and transgenic mutations. After achieving this step we expanded our vision to include helping others through education, example and networking on how to create a more sustainable lifestyle for themselves and their families.

We grow and sell organic food because we LOVE IT, it is good for others and it allows us to keep growing in our vision. We do it with the idea of infecting YOU with a ferocious appetite for a healthier way of life! By working with our facilitators and service providers to keep costs down and quality high our clients receive the crème-de-la-crème when it comes to real natural selections and price. Our menu offers true family farmed organic fruits, vegetables, spices and hand-made vegan pasta to those who seek to express their consciousness in their food choices.

We currently work with several farms and artisans but most of our goods come from five different family run farms. Each is located in different regions of the country, one of them is located over 2,175 meters above sea level. One family farm is less than two acres in size and produces several thousand pounds of food per year! On our farm Milly started her own cross-strain of tomatoes to get a natural, delicious tomato growing in the Caribbean. While one of neighbors was the first to produce organic lettuce in the Caribbean with little to no bitter aftertaste.

Our menu is updated week to week to reflect the changes in what is available and what has come into season. We offer everything from organic Strawberries, to Bok Choy, Fennel, Kale, Onions, Lettuce, Eggplant, Peruvian Potatoes, Blackberries, Arugula, Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, a variety of Tomatoes and so much much more… You can see more about our farm at http://www.facebook.com/Comida.Organica.Express

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and letting us share a little bit about ourselves with you. If you have any questions about organic farming or sustainable living please feel free to email us at organicdeliverycr [at] gmail dot com. And remember you can start a garden or plant some veggies in almost any space, go out there and reclaim your table! Thanks again!

All the Best,
~Carlos&Milly
ComidaOrganicaExpress

Iron Chef Puts Cut-Throat Thrill into Cooking

And now and article from our supporters :-)

Iron Chef Puts Cut-Throat Thrill into Cooking

Millions of people across the globe enjoy watching their favorite cooking competitions. The more inclined viewers even find themselves donning aprons and attempting to recreate recipes right alongside their favorite culinary heroes. Some succeed, while others fail miserably. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about having fun!
This isn’t always the case in Iron Chef. The cream of the crop among their culinary peers, Iron Chefs are chosen because they are innovative, competitive, and can whip up a tasty treat out of anything even remotely edible. Specially selected chefs from all over the world are pitted against one of a handful of Iron Chefs for a weekly hour-long cook-off that leaves everyone hot, panting, and sweaty at the end.
The Iron Chef and his or her competitor are presented with a secret ingredient that is revealed only seconds before the battle begins. This secret ingredient must be the focus of the dishes created by the chefs. Once the battle commences, viewers see nothing except flailing arms grabbing the battle’s secret ingredient and sous chefs furiously chopping away at their accoutrements. Food Network HD, available from Directtv, portrays this frenzy in stunning detail. As the clock continues to count down the hour, the chefs must prepare five courses to present to a panel of three judges. Tempers flare, ingredients fly, and sous chefs are even asked to leave the set for botching important parts of dishes. The judges, ranging from food critics to movie stars, rate the dishes on taste, originality, and plating. Although there are no tangible prizes awarded, Iron Chefs fight diligently to retain their powerful status. When an Iron Chef wins a battle, they win entitlement and respect from their peers. When a competitor wins the battle, they win the pleasure of having beaten one of the world’s finest chefs.
Iron Chef is like a sport to its fans. While some people spend Sundays cheering for their favorite football teams, Iron Chef fans cheer for their favorite chef. There is no doubt that viewers will continue to watch Iron Chefs and their competitors offer up their succulent variations for many years to come.

Cheap & Healthy Food under $100 per month

Shop Amazon Kitchen – Save Up to 40 Off Cuisinart Tools

Project Food Blog Week 1 – The $100 Challenge

VIDEO: Can you live on $100 per month for food?


What’s A Healthy Food Budget?

Now, a little background: the Cheap Food Here family follows the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover very closely and have worked hard to get to Baby Step 4. Our food budget for two people is currently $500, which includes $300 for groceries and $200 for eating out. This is our comfortable point now that we are no longer paying off debt, however, when we were doing the debt snowball and attacking our consumer debt and student loans with ‘gazelle intensity’, we we were spending around $250 per month in total food cost (groceries and eating out).

Down here in Costa Rica we have found that some families spend over $1,200 per month on food for a family of 3 adults and 2 children. This number may not seem too shocking, but know that they, on average, earn less than $2,000 per month in total household income. The percentage of their income spent on food is over 60% when it should be around 5-15% or roughly $300. However, most argue that this is impossible.

The key to reducing food costs each month is research and planning. Most people don’t think about needing to do research before hitting the farmer’s market or grocery store, but it’s imperative to keep from overspending. The food budget can be a large part of your spending each month, but it doesn’t have to be, especially if you are in the early stages of paying off debt.

So, the quest for a food budget under $100 begins. First we’re going to look at cheap and healthy recipes that are tried and true for our family and make a menu for each week. With this menu, we’ll focus mostly on fresh, local food that’s in season that we can buy at the farmer’s market. First, let’s take a look at what we’ll have to give up or change about our current eating habits, some of which were mentioned in the video.

Cost Cutting Necessities

  1. No Eating Out
  2. Meat Consumption reduced
  3. Limiting processed food consumption
  4. Sticking to a grocery list
  5. Homemade snacks
  6. Drink water with or without lemon instead of bottled juices, sodas or other sugary/sugar-free drinks.

Week 1 Menu

Below is the cheap food menu I’ve put together to get you started and prove you can eat healthy and fully on $50 per week for two people. Some of the recipes in the list below are from Cheapfoodhere.com and some are from our favorite foodies. Please refrain from using canned goods unless you have them already, but know that you are getting less than half of the nutritional value from canned goods that you would from fresh or frozen produce.

With a lot of the recipes, it’s good to reduce the amount of an ingredient that is expensive (example: cheese or meat) or substitute it for something less expensive and perhaps more healthy.

Breakfast

  1. Red Bell Pepper Frittata & fruit
  2. Pressed Egg sandwich & fruit shake
  3. Almond French Toast with maple syrup and a side of fruit
  4. Soy Milk Waffle (or regular milk is fine too) w/fresh fruit topping
  5. Oatmeal w/frozen blueberries and flax, fruit shake and side fresh fruit
  6. Jalapeño and Onion Frites w/fried eggs, bacon and a side of fruit

Lunch

  1. Grilled Veggie Wraps
  2. Tuna pasta salad
  3. Mini pizzas with apples, onion, garlic  and bell peppers
  4. Leftover Cobb Salad
  5. Leftover Chicken Stir Fry
  6. Leftover Eggplant Parmesan

Dinner

  1. Homemade Pizza
  2. Eggplant Parmesan w/spaghetti
  3. Chix Stir Fry (cut recipe in half)
  4. Cobb Salad (onion sub for shallot; blue cheese omitted)
  5. Fish Tacos w/cilantro slaw
  6. Seared Sesame Tuna w/tempura vegetables

Snacks

  1. Raw veggies with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
  2. Fruit (banana, apple, or tangerine)
  3. Nuts, w/raisins
  4. Homemade Crackers w/Sage and Cayenne
  5. Yogurt with berries and a side of fresh fruit

 

Week 1 Grocery List: Download Here

Growing your own produce and herbs is a great way to save money and it can be done in planters too if you don’t have a back yard. If you’re not growing, try to support your local farmers first, but sometimes their prices are just too high. Some stuff you have to go to the grocery store for, but there is a great resource to check pricing before ever venturing out; www.mygrocerydeals.com keeps you in-the-know when it comes to checking cheap grocery prices in the United States.

Make sure when you go shopping, you stick to the list, and only to the list. It is your map, your guide, your blinders. However, if you see an item that could make a perfect substitute (example large tomatoes instead of Romas) but is cheaper, buy those instead. We’re looking for deals here, so keep your eyes peeled.

Some of the items on the list you’ll see don’t have prices, which indicates it’s something I already had. You can use this sheet to fill in prices on your own to help you better prepare for the upcoming week of meals. The sheet is organized by meal, however there is a lot of cross over, so if it was on the breakfast list, you won’t find it again under lunch, dinner or snacks. You can also organize the list by aisle if that’s easier. The basis of how I chose the meals for the week was looking first at what I had and could then in turn spend less on groceries. It’s best to use all of the items you already have to make sure they don’t go bad and end up getting thrown out anyway. You’ll notice that the Week 1 Shopping List goes well over the designated $50 per week budget for two people, however, a lot of items will be left over for future weeks. Stay tuned for follow up posts for the remaining 3 weeks of the month. Good luck and I’d love feedback from those who are accepting the challenge.

The Dangers of Microwaves

Cheap Food Here never microwaves their food. We have been without a microwave since moving to Costa Rica over a year ago. At first we just did without it because they were so expensive here, but now, after using traditional cooking techniques, we’ve decided convenience isn’t better. Microwaves don’t produce better taste, health or counter space to make them useful enough for our taste.

I did a little bit of my own research and tried to fish through the truths and the myths on the internet, which is pretty difficult, especially with such a controversial topic. The best and most thorough research I found was here.

An excerpt from the article is below, which gives the cliff notes version of what we really need to know–whether or not our health is in jeopardy when microwaving our food. Here’s what they say:

The Swiss clinical study

Dr. Hans Ulrich Hertel, who is now retired, worked as a food scientist for many years with one of the major Swiss food companies that do business on a global scale. A few years ago, he was fired from his job for questioning certain processing procedures that denatured the food.

In 1991, he and a Lausanne University professor published a research paper indicating that food cooked in microwave ovens could pose a greater risk to health than food cooked by conventional means.

An article also appeared in issue 19 of the Journal Franz Weber in which it was stated that the consumption of food cooked in microwave ovens had cancerous effects on the blood. The research paper itself followed the article. On the cover of the magazine there was a picture of the Grim Reaper holding a microwave oven in one of his hands.

Dr. Hertel was the first scientist to conceive and carry out a quality clinical study on the effects microwaved nutrients have on the blood and physiology of the human body.

His small but well controlled study showed the degenerative force produced in microwave ovens and the food processed in them. The scientific conclusion showed that microwave cooking changed the nutrients in the food; and, changes took place in the participants’ blood that could cause deterioration in the human system.

Hertel’s scientific study was done along with Dr. Bernard H. Blanc of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University Institute for Biochemistry.

In intervals of two to five days, the volunteers in the study received one of the following food variants on an empty stomach: (1) raw milk; (2) the same milk conventionally cooked; (3) pasteurized milk; (4) the same raw milks cooked in a microwave oven; (5) raw vegetables from an organic farm; (6) the same vegetables cooked conventionally; (7) the same vegetables frozen and defrosted in a microwave oven; and (8) the same vegetables cooked in the microwave oven.

Once the volunteers were isolated, blood samples were taken from every volunteer immediately before eating. Then, blood samples were taken at defined intervals after eating from the above milk or vegetable preparations.

Significant changes were discovered in the blood samples from the intervals following the foods cooked in the microwave oven. These changes included a decrease in all hemoglobin and cholesterol values, especially the ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) values.

Lymphocytes (white blood cells) showed a more distinct short-term decrease following the intake of microwaved food than after the intake of all the other variants. Each of these indicators pointed to degeneration.

Additionally, there was a highly significant association between the amount of microwave energy in the test foods and the luminous power of luminescent bacteria exposed to serum from test persons who ate that food.

This led Dr. Hertel to the conclusion that such technically derived energies may, indeed, be passed along to man inductively via eating microwaved food.

After reading and researching, I feel my decision to remove the microwave from my life was validated. I hope before you decide to use or remove the microwave from your cooking repertoire, you’ll do the research needed to properly make the decision. I think more than anything, just being knowledgeable on any topic is better than trusting that the corporations of the world are giving us accurate information.

Gourmet Magazine is Stopping Print

The first US magazine dedicated to food and wine, first published in 1941 is ceasing it publication after the November issue. Condé Nast, the worldwide publisher of magazines such as Bon Appétit, Modern Bride, Vogue, Glamour, Wired and Vanity Fair, just to name a few. Apparently some of their other magazines will be suffering the same fate as ad revenue has fallen in result of the recession. Condé Nast participated in a McKinley study to analyze each of their magazines’ performances and suggested they cut 25% of their budget for each.

Chefs all over the world have been directly impacted by the magazine over the years. “Before I even was a professional cook I read their reviews, and it shaped who I was as a chef,” e-mailed chef Paul Kahan of Blackbird, Avec and The Publican. “It is sad that one of the most truly food-focused magazines is gone.”

“It’s the center of gravity, a major planet that’s just disappearing,” said chef and author Anthony Bourdain, who said Gourmet was the first food publication to give him a chance as a writer. “There’s been a lot of speculation about this happening, but I’m still stunned.”

Some are of the opinion that a publication once filled with rich food writing has reduced its depth to travel and gadget articles. Overall, the publication will be missed as it’s a piece of history that all of us foodies, old and young, have had a taste of. Goodbye Gourmet Magazine.

Gourmetsm Gourmet Magazine

Sources include: updated 2:29 p.m. MT, Mon., Oct . 5, 2009; http://www.chicagotribune.com

Have you been Greenwashed?

I’m going to come out swinging with this post, so watch out. It’s pretty safe to say that most governmental agencies and even some non-profit organizations have an ulterior agenda when it comes to their ‘good causes’. We’ve trusted the media, the Internet and our government for that matter to give us factual, accurate information about all the forces that affect our lives. As good Americans should, right? This stems from health care to the air we breathe and the food we eat, international relations and perhaps the most controversial is the state of the environment and the things we need to do to ‘protect it’. We have so-called experts and professionals leading the way to make sure we believe what they want us to believe; based on who is getting paid what. And then there are lobbyists who get paid crazy amounts of money to be in the back pockets for these ‘experts’. Oh what money does in this world.

With that being said, let’s dispel some of the major environmental myths we’ve been told over the years.

1. MYTH: The Earth is suffering from rapid deforestation and it’s getting worse.
TRUTH: United Nations data show that forest acreage has increased through time, and there is no indication that this trend will cease in the long term. In 2004, U.S. forest tree growth exceeds tree cutting by 37 percent. In 1920, U.S. forests covered 732 million acres; today they cover 737 million acres, despite a U.S. population increase from 106 million to 272 million in the same time period. Similarly, European forests expanded from 361 million acres in 1950 to 482 million acres in 1990, and despite deforestation in tropical countries, 76 percent of the tropical rain forest zone is still covered with forest.

Source: 2004 US Chamber of Commerce report: “10 Environmental Myths” also sited in figure 60 page 111 in Food and Agriculture Organization, State of the World’s Forests, 1997 at this Web site, http://www.fao.org/docrep/W4345E/W4345E00.htm

2. MYTH: Our air quality is declining each year.
TRUTH: Aggregate air emissions—everything rolled into one—have declined 25 percent since 1970, while our gross domestic product has increased 161 percent in the same period. Between 1988 and 1997, the total number of “unhealthy” air quality days decreased an average of 66 percent for major cities across the United States, and according to the EPA, air pollutant emissions have dramatically decreased, specifically: lead is down 97 percent; sulfur oxides are down 67 percent; carbon monoxide is down 66 percent; nitrogen oxides are down 38 percent; and ozone is down 31 percent. Air pollutants from cars have decreased by more than 90 percent—it now takes 20 new cars to produce the same emissions as one car produced in the 1960s and that figure is improving with the onset of new technologies.

Source: EPA National Air Quality report which can be found at their website http://www.epa.gov/

3. MYTH: Genetically modified crops are bad.
TRUTH: Enormous human benefit derives from GM crops.
While insects, weeds, and plant diseases destroy nearly 40 percent of conventional crops in Africa and Asia, many of the same GM crops available in North America are helping farmers in South Africa, India, China, and the Philippines to combat insects while reducing or altogether eliminating insecticide use.

For example, in the case of Bollgard cotton, growers were able to eliminate the use of more than 250,000 gallons of insecticide.

Source: G. Conko and C.S. Prakash, “Time for the GM Moratorium to Go” The Wall Street Journal Online, May 13, 2003 at http://online.wsj.com/article_print/0,,SB105278159845412000,00.html

So, why are we all being told a slanted version of the truth on a variety of topics? In my opinion, it’s to sell more and to pad the pockets of the companies doing the selling, of course. But, I’m not saying we should all be reckless and irresponsible with what has been given to us by Mother Nature. I think the opposite in fact. There are a lot of legitimately good ways to be smart about consuming and continue to conserve our resources and the environment. You just have to do research on what you’re buying and support the good companies and organizations that don’t just seem responsible, but actually are. And don’t count on the government agencies recommendation or so-called regulations. They have a separate agenda based on the powerful lobbying forces.

Let’s take the saccharin example for instance. It has been studied for decades showing conclusive evidence that it causes bladder cancer in lab rats, so the FDA forced companies to put a warning on packaging disclosing the risk. However, food companies and lobbyists put up such a fight that congress has placed a moratorium on the original ban and disclosure requirement because of its popularity in foods. Imagine how much money these companies would have lost if saccharin was banned. They did everything they could to persuade the government and the FDA to look the other way. This information can also be found in the book Skinny Bitch which I sited in an earlier post.

It’s baffling how information can spread faster than ever before through the Internet and television to bring you some news and not others. So, make sure you do research through trusted sources to find out what is safe for you. There are many intuitive ways to live a responsible, green lifestyle, but do require a little extra effort. For example, take CFL light bulbs. EnergyStar boasts that they will pay for themselves in six months time, use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb. But, they don’t tell you that it’s important to dispose of them properly because CFL bulbs contaminate the environment with 30,000 pounds of mercury each year. Naturalnews.com says that, “Breaking one mercury light bulb in your home can contaminate your home to such a degree that hazardous materials experts are needed to remove the mercury.” We need to ensure that everyone disposes of these energy efficient bulbs the same way as a typical fluorescent bulb. Locations can be found through your local recycling center.

Another way for the US to help the environment is to have them follow the lead of France, who is planning to institute a “taxe pique-nique” or a “picnic tax” on all disposable products for manufacturers and consumers such as plates, forks, cups, diapers and any other disposables that can be substituted with a reusable product. Additionally, maternity wards will be required to educate new moms on washable diapers and consumers will be given a $7,000 tax break on hybrid or electric car purchases. This tax is meant to change both consumer and manufacturer habits and to force them to calculate their impact on the environment.

Find reputable resources to help guide you to environmentally friendly products homemade alternatives and how to properly recycle. www.greenerchoices.org is a good start and, before you decide your favorite new product is that all-natural, biodegradable dish detergent, make sure you read up on who is giving them their kudos and how the ingredients actually affect the environment. Please make the extra effort to discover as much as possible on your own and don’t trust just anyone who makes a claim for their own benefit, rather than your health and safety.