September 30, 2011

Really Natural Cookbooks: The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes

I love my Cuisinart Slow Cooker! Just toss the ingredients in, then come home from work to dinner made! Nothing could be easier, except I seem to make the same thing in the slow cooker. It is always some version of this soup or dal, and I have been wanting a slow cooker cookbook to get me out of my rut.

The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson is in its second edition. Although, this is not a vegetarian cookbook, which I would prefer, the recipes are easily adaptable and many are rated as "vegan friendly".

Opposite the pressure cooker's speed stands the leisurely pace of the slow cooker, also enjoying new popularity. Despite the hyperbole of the title, The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes breaks out of the usual soups/stews confinement of other Crock-Pot cookbooks. Judith Finlayson has gone to some trouble to create spicy Caribbean Pepper Pot Soup, full of tropical vegetables and hot pepper. Hearty Carbonnade reproduces the famous Flemish beef casserole, complete with its obligatory beer. Rarely seen elsewhere, South Africa's national dish, Bobotie, here boasts curry-spiked meat under an egg topping. Indian dishes, both meat and vegetarian, also appear. Even cake is not out of the question if the slow cooker is prepared as Finlayson suggests. There are enough temptingly tasty recipes here to keep those slow cookers plugged in 24 hours a day.

I'm making the red lentil and carrot soup with coconut for dinner tonight! Yum!

This book has beautiful photographs to get your mouth watering, and there are even dessert recipes. I've never made dessert in my slow cooker and look forward to more adventures in slow cooking!

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 29, 2011

How are we going to feed the world without destroying the environment?

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 27, 2011

2012 California Ballot Initiative: Label GMOs

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In the signature gathering stage, the 2012 California ballot initiative to label GMOs is underway:

Getting an initiative on the California ballot is a timed adventure. Once we turn the language of the initiative in, the state has it for anywhere from 40 to 60ish days or so. Once we get it back, we have 150 days to gather 504,760 qualifying signatures. All experts tell us that we should count on gathering 750,000 - 800,000 to make sure we have enough that make it.

This is a grassroots movement to ensure safety in our food supply.
The issue of GM food safety was first discussed at a meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and biotech representatives in 1990. The "substantial equivalence" concept was proposed in early 1996. The adoption of the concept of substantial equivalence permitted marketing of new foods without any safety or toxicology tests as long as they were not grossly different in chemical composition to foods already on the market. [FDA GRAS proposal]

To decide if a modified product is substantially equivalent, the product is tested by the manufacturer for unexpected changes in a limited set of components such as toxins, nutrients or allergens that are present in the unmodified food. If these tests show no significant difference between the modified and unmodified products, then no further food safety testing is required.

Because these genetically modified food products have not been FULLY tested for their effects on our bodies or the environment, we demand that they be labeled. We have a RIGHT TO KNOW what's in our food.This is a campaign about the right to INFORMED CHOICE. We want Genetically Modified Food LABELED. We have a right to choose what we put into our bodies, and a right to choose to not participate in a live food EXPERIMENT.

It is ridiculous and reckless to rely on manufacturers to test for the safety of GMO crops. Consumers have a right to know!

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 26, 2011

Really Natural Cookbooks + Recipe: The Cooking Light Gluten-Free Cookbook: Simple Food Solutions for Everyday Meals

My father is a celiac, and I have dappled with a gluten-free lifestyle myself. Once you get started, it is really quite simple to learn to cook gluten-free, whether it is simply a choice or medical need.

The Cooking Light Gluten-Free Cookbook: Simple Food Solutions for Everyday Meals is filled with great recipes and photographs to get your mouth watering!

Here's an example of a recipe:

Cinnamon-Raisin Muffins with Streusel Topping


1⁄4 cup chopped walnuts

1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons brown rice flour

(such as Bob's Red Mill)

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

11⁄2 tablespoons canola oil or



Cooking spray

3.3 ounces brown rice flour (about

3⁄4 cup; such as Bob's Red Mill)

4.1 ounces potato starch (about

3⁄4 cup)

2.1 ounces tapioca flour (about

1⁄2 cup)

3⁄4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

11⁄2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

3⁄4 cup raisins

1⁄4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1⁄3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 cup plain soy milk

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. To prepare streusel, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl with a fork until mixture resembles small peas.

3. To prepare muffins, place 18 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups. Coat liners with cooking spray; set aside.

4. Weigh or lightly spoon brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, granulated sugar, and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in raisins and walnuts; make a well in center of mixture. Combine oil, vanilla, and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in soy milk; add to rice flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle batter evenly with streusel topping.

5. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pans 5 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm. Yield: 18 servings (serving size: 1 muffin).

CALORIES 201; FAT 8.5g (sat 0.8g, mono 3.9g, poly 3.2g); PROTEIN 2.3g; CARB 31g; FIBER 1g; CHOL 24mg; IRON 0.6mg; SODIUM 149mg; CALC 57mg

I can't wait to try out these recipes!  Many of the recipes are not vegetarian, but it is pretty easy to adapt them, and this cookbook does not claim to be a vegetarian, gluten-free one.  Also, some recipes rely on gluten-free mixes, like Pamela's Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix, which doesn't both me as it simplifies the recipes, and it is always stocked in my pantry.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 16, 2011

All Natural Popcorn Chips: Chip'ins by Popcorn Indiana

Popcorn Indiana makes great snacks. We recently tried their Popcorn Indiana, Chips'in Sea Salt.

Here is the chip'ins for Purists. The main ingredients: Corn, sea salt, and air. While we couldn't park a farm right next to the ocean (though that would be pretty sweet), we were able to create the next best thing: Sea Salt chip'ins, the perfect, all natural triumvirate of taste, purity and crunch. Enjoy, and Munch Better.™

Unfortunately, they are not made from organic ingredients, and most of the corn grown commercially in this country is GMO. I also expected them to have chunks of popcorn in them. Instead, they are have pockets of air in the corn chip.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 8, 2011

6 Months Later: Is Our Food Still Radioactive from Japan's Nuclear Fallout?

One of the biggest fears and concerns after the Fukushima nuclear reactor started leaking after the devastating tsunami in Japan six months ago was that food in the US would be affected by radiation drifting across the Pacific Ocean. Sure enough, radiation was detected in food from California to Florida. These levels, of course, are nothing compared to the people of Japan's exposure, but nonetheless, any amount of additional radiation is a concern. Should we still be concerned?

Healthy Child Healthy World reports:

In a word, yes.
As long as the reactors continue to leak, radioactive particles will end up in the air and water, subject to the currents and jet streams that will carry them all over the globe. And, even after the leaking has stopped, there is an issue with how to dispose of or contain all of the contaminated soil, sewage, debris, etc. Some of these things are currently being dumped into the ocean or burned - both of which lead to further spread of the radioactive particles...

Radioactive cesium in particular is of concern. David J. Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center, says in The Wall Street Journal that "its half-life of 30 years means that what was released from the Fukushima plant will be with us for many decades. Most of this radioactive cesium will end up in the Pacific Ocean and will be enormously diluted in the 200 quintillion gallons of water there. But some of it will end up on dry land, in our food and water--and there it will stay, at very low levels, literally for generations."

Image:  AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by °Florian

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 7, 2011

Really Natural Foods: Monte Bene Farm Fresh Vodka Pasta Sauce

Vodka goes with tomato juice (think of a Bloody Mary) ,so why not include it in pasta sauce? Monte Bene Farm Fresh Vodka Pasta Sauce is a unique product made by an Italian born chef now living in and making sauce in New Jersey:

Ingredients: Tomatoes, Imported Italian San Marzano Tomatoes, Heavy Cream, Onions, Pecorino Romano Cheese (Sheep's Milk, Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Corn Starch, Cellulose), Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vodka, Salt, Basil, White Pepper, Black Pepper, Citric Acid.
As you can see from the ingredient list, there is not much Vodka in the sauce. My only criticisms are not with flavor, but earth friendliness. This product is not made from organically-grown ingredients, although it is gluten-free and natural, and our sample was shipped in a humungous box full of styrofoam peanuts.


Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 6, 2011

UK Fights Obesity: McDonald's Displays Calories on Menu

I don't eat at McDonald's, and I would never even consider dining at this fast food chain in Europe where delicious food abounds! High calorie, non-nutritious, cheap food fills the Golden Arches' menu; however, if you live in the UK, you will soon have this information in your face when ordering, similar to what New Yorkers see. The Huffington Post explains:

About 1,200 McDonald's restaurants in the U.K. will this week begin displaying the calorie count of each food and drink item on their wall-mounted menu boards, as part of a government-led program to fight obesity and promote healthier eating, the chain said Sunday.

McDonald's already puts calorie information on its Web site and the back of its tray liners, but this is the first time the figures will be displayed prominently in its restaurants outside the U.S.

Perhaps seeing 790 calories next to that Angus Bacon & Cheese will make you think twice about consuming it! That's 40% of your total daily recommended calories. Add a soda and fries, and you might as well not eat the rest of the day.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 5, 2011

Really Natural Books: American Wasteland

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How much food do you throw away each time you clean out your refrigerator? I'm ashamed to admit it is usually quite a lot in my household. Not only is this wasted money, it is wasted resources that could feed hungry people. Add the amount of food wasted on farms, grocery stores, and restaurants to be astounded that Americans actually dispose of nearly half of all food produced.

American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It) by Jonathan Bloom is thorough exploration of food waste and how we can improve our inefficient ways.

Since the Great Depression and the world wars, the American attitude toward food has gone from a "use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without" patriotic and parsimonious duty to an orgy of "grab-and-go" where food's fetish and convenience qualities are valued above sustainability or nutrition. Journalist Bloom follows the trajectory of America's food from gathering to garbage bin in this compelling and finely reported study, examining why roughly half of our harvest ends up in landfills or rots in the field. He accounts for every source of food waste, from how it is picked, purchased, and tossed in fear of being past inscrutable "best by" dates. Bloom's most interesting point is psychological: we have trained ourselves to regard food as a symbol of American plenty that should be available at all seasons and times, and in dizzying quantities. "Current rates of waste and population growth can't coexist much longer," he warns and makes smart suggestions on becoming individually and collectively more food conscious "to keep our Earth and its inhabitants physically and morally healthy."

Bloom's book gives much food for thought, so once again I will vow to waste less food while feeding my family.  From saving the planet to saving our pocketbooks, there are so many reasons to read Bloom's book and amend our ways. 

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

September 2, 2011

Really Natural Dessert Cookbooks: Sinfully Vegan

There is nothing better than a good dessert. Make it vegan, and the guilt goes away!
Sinfully Vegan: More than 160 Decadent Desserts to Satisfy Every Sweet Tooth by Lois Dieterly makes your mouth water!

What better way is there to end a meal than with a luscious piece of cheesecake, a rich slice of chocolate cream pie, or some chewy peanut butter cookies--all made with easy-to-find vegan ingredients? In this newly updated and expanded edition of Sinfully Vegan, Lois Dieterly shows you how to do just that, with more than 160 dairy-, egg-, and cholesterol-free recipes.

Sinfully Vegan offers desserts from every shelf of the pastry case: cakes, candies, cookies, brownies, pies, tarts, puddings, and quick breads. Complete with essential baking and preparation tips, creative recipe variations, nutritional breakdowns, and wheat-free alternatives, Sinfully Vegan is the ultimate vegan dessert resource and an essential addition to any kitchen. And since there are no eggs in the batter, plenty of sampling is encouraged!

From toasted coconut pecan pie to peanut butter twist brownies, you won't miss the dairy in any of these recipes! My only critique is I wish there were pictures to accompany the recipes. I am always motivated by images!

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

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