Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ingredients - Be Careful

To save on time when I post recipes, I usually just list the basic name of an ingredient with the assumption that you, the reader, are making choices to use products that are healthful and not harmful.  But, I thought I would list out some of the "biggie" ingredients which I am careful about using specific kinds of and explain my reasoning behind those decisions so you can get a better idea why it may be worth the extra money to invest in and use particular types of these ingredients instead of just the ones you can find at your local store for the cheapest price.

#1 - Salt: NaCl (the most common table salt) has been getting a lot of bad press lately, but unfortunately the bad press has translated into our societal thinking as well as into our mainstream medical advice channels which are now staying that salt in all forms is bad for you.  Sadly, salt in its pure form as "real salt", "Himalayan salt" or "sea salt" is extremely good for you because taken in this pure form with with natural minerals that are harvested with the salt do many good things for your body.  If you need more proof, take a look at this article called The Salt Myth.

#2 - Baking Powder:  Most baking powder is made with Aluminum in it so that the powder takes longer to react with your baking goods during the cooking process.  That may seem like a great thing when you want your batter to rise in the oven instead of in your bowl before you transfer it into your baking pan, but unfortunately you are making your food more toxic by putting regular baking powder into it.  There are a lot of options on the market that offer "Aluminum free" baking powder and they work very well in place of the traditional Aluminum filled standard powders.

#3 - Cornstarch:  Here is an ingredient that seems rather simple, but the thing you need to be careful about when you use cornstarch is that it is not taken from corn that is genetically modified.  The sad fact is that in order to increase the profitability on corn by making it easier to grow, more weed resistant, and more bug resistant bio-engineers have developed corn seeds that have embedded herbicides, fungicides, and even human growth hormones to make that possible - by-products that stay with you long after the initial food has cleared your system. On top of that these laboratory corn products may look and taste like corn, but the vitamin and mineral make up is only at 15% of their real versions. Looking for a cornstarch that is made from non-GMO corn will help you to avoid ingesting these harmful genetically modified by-products and also will aid in your vitamin and mineral consumption.

#4 - Soybean and Corn Products:  Again the biggest concern with both of these basic foods is that the majority of products made from them are made out of their genetically modified versions.  Only products that specifically say non-GMO are unaltered products.  So when buying cornmeal, soy oil, corn oil, tofu, most vegetarian meatless products, etc., you need to be careful that in your enthusiasm to buy products with more "nutritional" value that you are not actually causing more harm to your body than good.  Also something to consider in addition when purchasing soy products is the amount of estrogen in them and how to much of it can adversely affect hormonal levels.

#5 - Yogurt:  The benefits of eating yogurt are wide and very publicized, but the things to be careful about yogurt are these factors.  First, if you want to get the benefit of adding extra some additional probiotics to your system then it is imperative that you use a yogurt that has active cultures.  One way to test store bought yogurt is to heat up 3 cups of milk to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, add in 1/2 cup of you purchased yogurt, cover the jar tightly, wrap it in a towel and put in a warm place for 12 hours.  If the yogurt is active, what you will find in your jar after that waiting time is a sweet smelling yogurt, if it was not active then you find will result in soured milk.  Lastly, you should make sure to avoid additives, sweeteners, and colors which are frequently put in the more popular yogurts.  A better option to sweeten or flavor yogurt is to add flavored stevia drops, thawed fruit with its juice to add some color, or raw honey.

#6 - Whole Wheat Flour:  Whole wheat flour has all of the components of the wheat berry still in its flour, including the oils the berries release in the grinding process(Actually the fact that the whole wheat flour has all of these components is one of the benefits I like about using it.)  That being said, when you buy flour on the shelf of a store, that flour was ground many months, if not years prior to your purchase.  And as anyone who has bought oil and let it sit out for any length of time will tell you, oil becomes rancid as it is exposed to air.  Thus, so to does the oil in flour you buy already ground.  Using freshly ground wheat berries allows you to use wheat flour that is not rancid and plus which contains all of the freshly activated enzymes at the time of processing (this also decreases over time).  For a cheaper option to going out right away and spending hundreds of dollars on a mill is finding a store where you can grind your wheat on the spot, bag up and freeze at home.  The flour can then be stored in the freezer for a month or two and you will still be getting all the wonderful benefits of freshly ground wheat.  (By the way, this information is transferable to all type of grain berries.)

Well, I realized as I started making a list for this post I could go on and on about food products to be careful about and why.  And maybe I will put together another post some time in the future that will highlight more ingredients we all should be careful about.  For now though, I hope this post was informative and thought provoking about the ingredients you use and buy for your kitchen.

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