Friday, March 22, 2013


Lately the subject of food labeling has been popping up frequently. Either friends are interested in a cleaner eating lifestyle and have questions, the topic finds its way onto facebook, or it's in the news, either way it seems to be mentioned a lot lately. Those of us passionate about the organic lifestyle can spot marketing labeling lies a mile away, but for those that are new to the process, this can be one of the most confusing and intimidating things to learn.

I was trying to find information quickly about the subject, but was repeatedly routed to the confusing laws on government websites. Sure, at least it was a more trusted website, but reading through the legalize was overly frustrating. I decided to come up with a quick guide that will (hopefully) be easier to read and understand.

100% Organic - must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients and processing aids.

Organic - must contain (excluding water and salt) at least 95% organically produced ingredients and processing agents. Any remaining product ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances approved on the National List including specific non-organically produces agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form.

Products meeting these requirements must display these terms and the percentage of organic content on their principal display feature. These product packages may contain the USDA seal. Agricultural products labeled "organic" cannot be produced using excluded methods, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation.

Made with Organic Ingredients - processed products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients can use the phrase "made with organic ingredients" and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the principal display panel. For example, soup made with with at least 70% organic ingredients and only organic vegetables may be labeled either "soup made with organic peas, potatoes, and carrots" or "soup made with organic vegetables".
These products cannot be produced using excluded methods, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation. The USDA seal cannot be used anywhere on the package. However, the percentage of organic content and the certifying agent seal or mark may be used on the principal display panel.

Any product containing less than 70% organic ingredients cannot use the term "organic" anywhere on the principal display panel. Although, they may identify specific ingredients that are organically produced on the ingredients statement on the information panel.

Natural - there are no regulations on the label "natural". This term can be found on any product. Beware of this word!

I hope this helps in deciphering labels. Good luck at the grocery store!

Information source:
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Growing avocado trees from the pit

Suddenly I feel like I might have a green thumb. I don't know why because I still kill every plant that enters my house. Anyway, I decided that I can grown avocado trees from the Ohio (in March). This does not sound at all like a failure, right?

The instructions seem easy enough, at least the first step. Insert four toothpicks into the pit. Put the pit in a glass of water with the point facing up and the water covering 1/3 - 2/3 of the bottom portion.

So, the first pit was a disaster. I ate the avocado at work and the pit was dried and peeling by the time that I made it home. I wasn't going to let that stop me, though! I inserted the first three toothpicks into the pit. I was surprised at how easily they went in. Now for the fourth. Darn it! It broke off IN THE PIT! Now what? Ok, I'll just insert another toothpick close to the first hole. A little wood stuck in the pit shouldn't hurt it from sprouting...right? Now I just needed to put them in water. Of course, I put the toothpicks too low on the pit and they don't balance very well at all on the glass. Now this thing has a million holes in it and it didn't look that great to begin with anyway.  Just more confirmation that as much as I like plants, we really have issues understanding each other.

I decided to break open a second avocado that night. I cut it up and froze for future smoothies. Now I had another pit to work with. Luckily I learned from all of my previous mistakes and I now have a nice looking pit semi-emerged in water. Fingers crossed that this thing sprout!

I started this pit experiment about a week ago.  I decided to waive my white flag and throw out the first pit.  It never seemed to recover from getting so dried out throughout my work day.  The second one looks no different, but I'm still hopeful that I will see it sprout in about two weeks.

I'll keep you updated on it's progress!
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Think Spring!

Even though I can still see this

I can also see this

Spring is coming!
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013


About a year ago I became fascinated with flax seeds. It seemed like such a simple idea, to add this little seed to so many recipes and enhance the nutritional value. So simple, right?

For anyone unfamiliar with the flax seed, it boasts many nutritional benefits. The primary three are:
Omega-3 essential fatty acids - "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy benefits
Lignans - contain both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities, which may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease
Fiber - contains both the soluble and insoluble types
All that packed in one little seed and that's just the primary benefits.

Just as I was about to run to the store to buy infinite pounds of flax seed, I read that you need to grind them right before use for maximum benefit. What? Yes, I am seriously just that lazy. Totally deflated me. I wanted that easy solution. Something to just toss in and enhance my health.

That's when I found my new best friend, the chia seed. Yes, it is the same seed found in packets with ceramic heads known for the catchy theme song. If only we had known back then how beneficial they were to consume instead of turning them into vegetation hair.

The more that I researched chia seeds, the more excited I became. These seeds are also rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber. In addition, they pack 18% of your daily calcium value per ounce. I am always looking for ways to increase my calcium intake. Unlike the flax seed, they can easily be digested whole. This is my answer, something to just throw in to enhance my recipes.

I've been using chia seeds for about a year now and I don't have anything negative to say about them. I add them to bake goods and smoothies. My sons eat them without being the wiser. I love these little seeds so much, I don't even hesitate in agreeing that they are a "superfood". My favorite definition of a superfood is a food that packs a huge amount of nutrients, but contains very few calories. These definitely are a superfood!

I plan to try additional recipes, specifically chia pudding, in the near future. I'll let you know how that goes!

Nutritional information obtained from and
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Saturday, March 2, 2013

My not so green thumb

It's finally March! I know that everyone has had enough of winter. I woke up this morning in disbelief of the amount of snow that fell last night. Although it doesn't feel like it, I've heard that this is the time of the year that you need to start thinking about, and even planting, your garden.

I've never had a green thumb. I don't even know what the opposite would Anyway, that's the color of my thumb. Every plant that enters my house dies pretty quickly, not matter how hardy it is. I've had friends and family members share bountiful plants from their yards and all of these lovely gifts have lived a short life once in my possession.

Regardless of my past, I can't help but want to try a garden. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but I know that I would love to teach my kids about where their food comes from. If I'm unsuccessful, maybe I can teach them the circle of life.

My yard is incredibly small and I know that I'll have to get creative to make it worthwhile. I've looked at container gardens, which is the direction that I am leaning. I've also considered vertical gardens and overhauling our flower beds into small traditional garden. Any advice in this area is greatly appreciated!

I am the first to admit that I don't have a clue what I am doing. I've been researching and trying to figure out when I need to plant what. I found a handy guide on Pinterest. Although it doesn't encompass everything that I plan to grow, it is a good start.

I hope that I will be able to post pictures of my healthy, growing garden. Most likely I will be posting pictures of sad, empty dirt. Good thing I just purchased our CSA share for 2013!
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