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For the foodie in all of us

Monday, April 14, 2014

Is it safe to eat?

Millions of dollars are thrown into the trash each year due to expired food items, but does this have to be? Can you eat expired food items safely?
 
 





How do you react when you discover that a food item has expired?

A. Eat it anyways knowing that it has enough preservatives to last a lifetime.
B. Throw it out right away; with no hesitation and no questions asked.
C. Check the calendar to see how far expired it is.
D. Smell it, take a tiny taste and then if it seems alright proceed with caution
E. Call your Mother or best friend and ask for advice.

It is something that most people will experience at some point in life, finding a food item that has been forgotten until expired But how do you know, if it is safe to eat? Some foods are pretty easy to tell, milk for example; when it is gone bad you can tell by the disgusted look coming from the fridge. Fresh foods are easy to tell when they have expired and the life has gone out of them. Lettuce gets all dried up and can even get crispy to the touch. Celery gets all limp and lifeless. These things are pretty easy to tell. Bread gets moldy and cheese grows colorful. There are clues that these fresh foods have gone bad and should end up in the trash, but what about the array of  processed, packaged food items that line the shelves of our supermarkets, how do you tell about them? Many people use the dates on packages and cans to decipher the freshness and safety of a product.

There are two types of dates that are printed on our processed food items. One is a "use by" date and one is a "sell by" date. A "use by" date is the one to pay a bit more attention to. This means that the food is at it's freshest before that date. After a period of time the food begins to lose some of its nutrition and sometimes the texture or color can begin to change. Much of the food is still safe to eat after this date. In fact, there have been cans of food that are many years old that when opened and tested by scientists the contents were fine for consumption. A "sell by date" on the other hand, is really just a way for the large food companies to  ensure that their products are being rotated and that their products are moving and being sold. These foods often have plenty of preservatives and really do not go bad. Some of these foods really could last a lifetime. 

So what do you do when you find a food item that has expired? You do not have to get in a hurry about throwing it out. Much of the food is good well beyond the date printed on the label. The most important thing is to check the original packaging. I am a bit concerned to eat food from a dented, rusted over can that looks like it has been rolling around in the back of a farmers truck for the last two months. On the other hand I am not so worried about something in the original package that is several years expired that looks like it might have been forgotten in the deep, dark, depths of the pantry. If the original packaging is in tact it is likely still good to eat.

Much of the freshness of a product is built into the packaging. Most processed foods will keep well in the sealed package, but once the original packaging is opened or damaged then the food tends to go rancid and loose its appeal. An unopened box of crackers will remain fresh for several months, or even a year after the expiration date, but those same crackers when opened, can go stale sitting on the shelf long before that date ever arrives. Once food is opened then it is best to use it up within a reasonable amount of time. 

Use your senses. If it is in an original package and is in tact and not opened, I would say that is a good indication that it is Ok to consume. If you open a can, bottle or package and the contents seems strange or the smell seems really off; be careful, and if your inner voice says "stay away" I would listen to that. Avoid any can that is dented. Dented cans may have small air leaks allowing air and bacteria to get into the food, so dented cans are a cause for concern, but no so much as a bulging can. Do NOT consume any food from a bulging can, it absolutely is not safe.  Bulging cans are a huge indication that the food has gone bad.

Once you discover that  a product is past "the date" and expired, the next thing to do is to check the packaging. If it is all in tact and looks good then I would suggest that you would be fine to go ahead and use it rather than tossing it.  If for some reason you just can't use expired food, consider sharing with someone such as a single mother or a widow who may be having a tough time making ends meet. They would probably be grateful for the blessing. 

   



Monday, April 7, 2014

For the love of popcorn


 
A teaser from my newest cookbook that will be coming out sometime in May.

What is it about Popcorn that makes it so appealing? Is it the smell wafting through the air beckoning us to have a handful? Is it the fun of watching popcorn as it grows to be over thirty times its original size?  Maybe it is the popping sound as it explodes into something wonderful?  Could it be the crunchy, yet somewhat creamy texture of popcorn?  Is it the pop-able shareable fun?  What is it that has us in love with this simple stuff called popcorn?



 

Cajun spiced popcorn 
4 quarts popped corn

4 Tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat the butter with the spices for about a minute just until it becomes fragrant. You can do this in the microwave if desired
Pour the hot spiced butter over the popcorn and toss to coat.




In case you missed my first cookbook Quick breads made easy from A-Z  I have included a link

 

 

 

 


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Monday, March 31, 2014

BBQ turkey tenders

This is a recipe that I have had for a number of years. It is a simple recipe that turns out great every time.


It is a recipe that I got from those living near the turkey farms in central Utah. It is a great way to enjoy turkey any time of year. It makes for a great BBQ and is a nice alternative to burgers and dogs. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
BBQ turkey tenders
 
Start with boneless, skinless, turkey tenders. With a sharp knife cut each tender into manageable 2-3 inch pieces. Marinate them in the refrigerator for a minimum of 45 minutes, or as long as 12 hours.
 
Quick and easy marinade for turkey or chicken

12 ounce can of a lemon/ lime soda
1 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
mix ingredients together and pour over 2-3 pounds of  boneless skinless turkey of chicken let sit refrigerated for a minimum of 45 minutes.
 
 
When ready to cook.
 
Light the charcoal or preheat the gas grill. When the grill is hot, place the turkey tenders on the grates and cook over a moderate- high heat for about 6-8 minutes until the turkey is cooked all the way through. 
 
Serve with your favorite salad for a quick and easy summer meal. 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
For more marinade tips you can check out an older post I wrote nearly two years ago

 

 
 
Or you can check out some great books written by the king of Grilling and BBQ; Steven Raichlen
 
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Note this post contains affiliate links. I am an affiliate of Amazon.com You can read the full disclosure by clicking the privacy policy at the top of the page.



This post is shared as part of real food wednesdays

Friday, March 28, 2014

Choleserol myths and lies



Cholesterol is not the monster that it is made out to be.
Our bodies need cholesterol to survive, our bodies make cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential to life, it is essential to brain function. so, why is it that we all live in fear of  cholesterol treating it like a nasty monster that is going to somehow kill us?  We have been taught this fear by those who would benefit from selling you cholesterol lowering drugs and other products.  It is plain and simple. They cause fear so that they can sell you on the benefits of their products. These people are the monsters, not cholesterol.
 


                                                                                    Cartoon Frankenstein Monster" by Grant Cochrane

It all begins with a study or two. One that has really been in the fire because it essentially opened the door, is the study by Ancel Keys. Keys did a study on rabbits. It showed how cholesterol derived from animal products affected the rabbits health. There were some real troubles with this research. Rabbits are not made the same as humans. To start, they are not carnivores and their bodies are not designed to need cholesterol like humans. He also fed them pure refined cholesterol in super high mega doses. It really showed nothing useful, it was essentially bad research. It was crazy. But, he was a scientist and people didn't really question his research until later. But in the meantime, he really made a case for cholesterol being bad for human health and opened a "Pandora's box."

In another part of his research, Keys tried to make dietary correlations between countries that ate high amounts of animal products and heart disease levels. The results were really all over the board and there was no real clear correlation between heart disease, and consumption of animal products.  He was able to "Cherry pick" some of the data and show a correlation between heart disease, and animal products. Through these carefully crafted studies and lies Keys, (and some others involved) were able to get the American public to believe that eating animal products especially animal fats would raise cholesterol and damage your health.


These lies were in part due to Procter and Gamble (inventers of Crisco). They hired Ancel Key's to do this research. With Key's help they could sell this stuff as a "healthy alternative" to butter.  They were able to get the heart association on board and WOW! What a journey it has been for the American people. This was just the beginning. The American people used to fight against margarine, now they embrace it as healthy. An article that really does a great job explaining the history of margarine and its effects is;  Our heritage of health, Why have we stopped the war on margarine.  With the heart association on board it opened the way for a whole new generation of people trying to make money. Billions upon billions have been made and fortunes continue to grow, all from this simple set of lies.  

Now, enter cholesterol lowering drugs. Billions are spent to come up with a test to be able to asses the levels of cholesterol in peoples bodies. What is normal, what is high? In the beginning as the numbers were coming in, they really did not know. It became common that numbers over 300 may be considered high.  Now numbers over 200 are high and some are pushing that normal numbers should be well below 180. It is pure craziness. The more people on these drugs, the more money in their pockets. It is getting to the point that nearly everyone falls into the so called "high" category and only a small amount of people fall into the "normal" range. Think about it for a while, if only a small number of people are in the normal range, is that really normal? There are many doctors suggesting that people should take a cholesterol lowering drug, "just to be safe" and they have approved such drugs for our young people starting at age ten. Are our ten year olds really at risk for a  major heart attack?  Is it really helpful to put our children on these drugs for life?


As a society we have lowered and continue to lower cholesterol levels in hopes that it will lower the risk of heart disease, and yet heart disease has increased to staggering levels. Why? We have the wrong information! We are still are led to believe that lowering cholesterol is the best thing that we can do to lower our risk of heart disease. The companies that make the drugs would have you believe that cholesterol is the one and only risk factor for heart disease. Cholesterol levels are only the smallest piece of the puzzle. There are about thirty other things that can be factored into heart disease risk, yet we have come to believe that cholesterol is the one and only risk factor.  These companies have done a great job at brainwashing us to believe that our cholesterol numbers are key, and we need their products. Many Americans have come to believe that these drugs are a lifesaver and are essential to life itself. The truth is that the cholesterol itself is essential to life as I stated in the beginning.


This is insanity.  It is pure craziness. Our young doctors have been trained to believe that nearly everyone is at risk for heart disease because of high cholesterol levels. Many of them do not even know what the other twenty plus risk factors for heart disease are. They are handing out pills by the handful thinking that they are helping keep the American people healthy and free from heart disease.  It is not working.  I have heard people say, "My cholesterol is low, I am good, I am not at risk for a heart attack." Yet they are the ones that suffer heart attacks. Still others take these drugs and endure the side effects of these nasty drugs "to be on the safe side." These people end up suffering all kinds of side effects and end up with very ill health. Their health can become really bad from the side effects of these drugs and they feel terrible; but, they endure it because "I don't want a heart attack."  It is pure insanity.

What the drug companies don't tell you is that there is really only a small percentage of the male population that the drug is really useful and helpful for. These drugs provide a good advantage for older men who have had a previous heart attack. In these cases, the cholesterol lowering drugs are helpful and probably life saving, but for the rest of us it is not so. These drugs do very, little to prevent first heart attacks in men, and women especially do not have any real advantage by taking these drugs, and yet we are convinced that these drugs are essential to good heart health. There are so many other good things you can do that will lower your risk of heart attack ten times more than these drugs without the nasty side effects, but the drug companies want you to think otherwise. They are scaring us into their drugs.

Those that would make money from these lies make sure that it is right out there in front of your face, day in and day out. Can you go a day without hearing someone talking about their cholesterol levels? How often are we hearing ads on TV, radio, or seeing it on the internet? It is everywhere. They are keeping it in the minds and hearts of the people. The know your numbers campaign is working well. My 8 year old son asked me the other day. "what's your numbers?" Then he asked, "what's my numbers?" School age children should not have to endure this. It may at some point be checked in the schools and become routine like eyesight and hearing tests. Our young people have this number constantly on their minds and we think this is somehow normal? Is our health really measured in these types of numbers that really mean nothing? 

I would urge you to think differently. I would urge you to find your own path to good health. Put this thought in your heart and mind.......
 
 
I am in charge of my body and my own health. I will through my own wisdom and understanding come to a place where I am healthy and strong. I will not be influenced by those who have only their own financial interest in mind. I will seek out and listen to those who have my best interest at heart.
 
If this means seeing a different doctor who does not sound like an ad for these companies be it so. Your health is worth the investment of an understanding doctor who knows his stuff. You may have to have a talk with your current doctor and ask him "Is this pill really helpful for me, or is there another alternative?" If he sounds like the ads you see on TV, it may be time to let him go for your own good health.   
Want more? Check out some of the great books on this subject you don't have to take my word for it.

 
 

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This post contains referral links. This means that by clicking on the book links you are allowing me to refer you to Amazon to buy them. In doing so you are supporting the work we do here at life less hurried.  You can read the full disclosure by clicking the privacy policy tab at the top of the page.


This post is shared as part of real food wednesdays

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The art and skill of repurposing items

The skills of repurposing or reusing items is becoming extinct in some parts of the country. We live in a "disposable society" Being frugal is not a part of life as it once was. Grandma was good at using what she had and making it work for her it was part of life. We can follow in Grandma's footsteps by repurposing or reusing items around the house.


Repurposing items can be good family fun. One of our more recent large adventures was turning the no longer needed dog house into a chicken coop. It was a fun family adventure for us. It was a good challenge for the kids. A broken deck will soon be a tree house, and old chimney bricks will someday be a brick oven. These are just some of the big projects we are working on as a family, but there are plenty of little things that you can do in an afternoon.   


 Here is a link to Great repurposing blog post. There are some really great ideas in that post. I hope that it will get your juices flowing and help you to make your home a better place.  

Now it is your turn; leave a comment below telling us about your adventures with repurposing an item or what plans you have for your family.


  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

GREAT NEWS!

I am pleased to announce the first in a series of cookbooks written by me!

  I have been very blessed by all of you my readers. It has been an amazing journey. Thank you.



 
 
 
 
 
 Just click the link above and you will be directed to Amazon where you can download it to your kindle or other reading device.  Kindle for Android
 
 
 
 P.S. If you don't have a kindle I have included links to some of the most popular models. My kids and I have loved the kindle that hubby bought for us last year. I enjoy being able to download and read books at the touch of a button. It has been worth the investment, and a blessing for our family. The kids enjoy the learning apps and reading on it. .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
, This post is shared as part of real food wednesdays

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

orange, asparagus, spinach salad

I recently wrote a post about how and why salads should be for dinner, and another post all about dressings.  
Salad, it is dinner
salad dressing tutorial


These posts are important. They are like tools in your cooking belt. It is really easy to come up with dinner if you have a few tools in your belt and know how to use them. When I attended chef school one of the greatest things I learned was that cooking is not just about recipes, it is learning about food and techniques.  Don't get me wrong, recipes are essential when baking and should be followed exactly, but when cooking main dishes, recipes are to be used as inspiration and a springboard for diving off and making your own dish.


 This is how I came up with this recipe. I used what was in my fridge and available at that moment. If I would have had some great cheese like feta or parmesan I would have sprinkled some of that on it. This is what cooking is all about. This is what I was talking about when I wrote a post about living the Mediterranean diet.



 
 
 
 
 

Orange, asparagus, spinach salad
 
serves 4
 
10 ounce package baby spinach leaves
1 bunch asparagus
2 oranges peeled and segmented (or you could use canned mandarins)
1 Tablespoon  sesame seeds for the top
 
 
1. Cut the asparagus into bite sized pieces and then steam the asparagus for 1-2 minutes just until tender and cool in ice water. 
2. Drain the asparagus well
3. Toss the asparagus with the spinach leaves and orange segments
4. Divide among 4 serving plates
5. Drizzle with your choice of dressing
6. Top with Sesame seeds
 
Dressing I used:
 
Orange honey dressing
 
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
 
In a small jar with a lid shake ingredients together until blended.
 
 
We served this salad with a nice piece of baked fish and had a wonderful dinner in minutes. This is our version of "fast food"
 
 
 
This post is part of real food wednesdays