Green For The Mainstream: I’m speaking at ShiftCon 2015!

Remember ShiftCon social media conference last year?! It was like a huge party of all the people who feel the same way I do about health, wellness, food purity, and low-toxin living. And I have mentioned before that I’ll be going again this year. In fact, I still have ticket discount codes, so if you are considering going, please contact me.

Another reason to attend: I’ll be speaking this year!

I am so excited to be co-hosting a panel with my friend Anne Brock from Flour Sack Mama and #CleanCouponing and Chef Dennis of Ask Chef Dennis and Good Morning Google+ fame! Our panel is called Green For The Mainstream and is based on our collective experience working with everyday people who are just starting out on this journey toward cleaner living — in food, beauty products, health, wellness, or cleaning products.

Below is the official summary from the ShiftCon web site, but first I have a question for you: what would YOU, as a consumer, want sustainable brands and companies to know about your journey? How could they help you and what do they do to alienate you that should be changed? Please feel free to tweet me your answer, leave a comment below, or message me on my Facebook page!

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Green For The Mainstream ShiftCon 2015 - I'm Speaking! | Living Consciously Blog

Mainstream America is at a crossroads, with chronic disease on the rise and an urgency to protect the planet like never before. Yet, the mainstream consumer is not necessarily ready to change old habits, even if health and home depend on it.

How do we make green truly work for the mainstream and get beyond trendy ideas to what works in the typical American household?

  • Where could you start on your own journey to live a greener lifestyle?
  • How do you, as a thought leader, respond when your audience is intimidated by change?
  • What resources could help you share?
  • How do you talk to your friends and neighbors about this sometimes touchy topic?
  • How could you bring the conversation to your social media spaces?

The Green for the Mainstream workshop will explore how social media outreach can gently transform old habits into new ones while respecting cultural traditions and limited household budgets. We will speak to the influential role of food in our everyday lives. This session will also cover strategies for reaching local communities with relevant messaging about better products and healthier lifestyles while avoiding elitism.

We will tackle the sometimes controversial topic of big brands entering the green/sustainable/organic market space and how that affects the mainstream consumer. Since many organic brands have been consumed by multinational brands, should you be concerned? We’ll cover some key details to look for when discerning quality products.

Whether you consider yourself light green and want to learn more about the ShiftCon movement without feeling overwhelmed, or whether you consider yourself a strong influencer who is looking for creative ways to reach the mainstream, this workshop is for you.

{excerpt from the ShiftCon web site, read entire description here}

Sneaky Superfood Chocolate Smoothie

NOTE: I was not paid for endorsing the superfood powders mentioned, neither company has any idea who I am. I have just used this type of product for years and find it invaluable. However, the links I include below to purchase the powders are affiliate links, so I get a portion of the sales if you do buy from those links. Thank you!

As I was rushing out the door to my yoga teacher training retreat for 5 days, I wanted to share this recipe with you all and with my husband, who needs the recipe somewhere safe to use for the kids when I’m away! I have been making this smoothie for the past month or so as a sneaky way to get my kids to start the day with superfoods like kale, spinach, spirulina, chia, and wheatgrass. Let’s face it, they would reject a green smoothie first thing in the morning. So this is a sneaky superfood chocolate smoothie. You can add nut butter as indicated below to make it a peanut butter chocolate flavor, or leave it out and have more pure chocolate.

My secret ingredient is a chocolate superfood powder. You have to get one that does not taste terrible. And you would think that would be easy, but it’s not. I have tried dozens of kinds and my favorites are Amazing Grass and Garden of Life Raw chocolate superfood powders. Both have a protein shake version, but that’s not what I am using here. Neither superfood powder has any sugar in them and both can be found locally at your Sprouts or Whole Foods or Natural Grocer or online at Thrive Market (Amazing Grass, Garden of Life), Vitacost (Amazing Grass, Garden of Life), or Amazon (Amazing Grass, Garden of Life). If you need discount codes for Thrive or Vitacost, please contact me via my Facebook Page and I can send them to you!

The most unusual thing that I do with this smoothie is add oatmeal. I started doing this when my daughter began refusing pretty much anything I offered for breakfast. If you are grain-free or doing this in addition to other things eaten at breakfast and it is too filling, you can leave out the oatmeal. But it is very important that you blend the oatmeal and chia seeds into a fine powder in the blender first, before adding other ingredients. If you blend everything together, the smoothie with be thick and lumpy. I’ve forgotten that step before and my kids wouldn’t eat it. See photos below.

Sneaky Superfood Chocolate Smoothie (kid approved) | Living Consciously Blog

Sneaky Superfood Chocolate Smoothie

Step 1

1/2 cup oats (buy gluten-free oats here)

1 tsp. chia seeds (buy here)

STOP HERE AND BLEND INTO A POWDER.
It will look something like this:

Superfood Smoothie Oatmeal Chia Seeds | Living Consciously Blog

Step 2

1 cup frozen bananas (if using room temperature bananas, definitely add the optional ice, below)

2 scoops chocolate superfood powder (see above paragraph for where to buy)

3/4 cup chocolate hazelnut milk (buy here or at Whole Foods)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 tbsp peanut butter, nut butter, or PB2 – optional (buy PB2 here)

1/2 cup ice – optional, will make your smoothie thicker

 

Put the rest of the ingredients from Step 2 into your blender and blend everything on high until smooth and thinned out enough to pour and drink easily. In my Vitamix this takes almost a minute on high.

If you let it sit too long, the chia seeds will absorb the moisture and the smoothie will become a “thickie”! Serve to your children or yourself immediately!

 

You might also like:

How to Juice with a Vitamix
My Green Smoothie Guidelines
Saving Money on Organic & GMO-Free Groceries

#NoFoodWasted: Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste

A week from today is Earth Day – April 22 this year. Instead of freaking out and trying to learn how to do some new crunchy thing like making my own solar panels out of tinfoil, what I’m doing is sharing with you some super easy ways that you can reduce waste. Specifically, I’ll show you the simple and stress free ways I reduce my food waste. Could I do better? Definitely. But this is where I’m at now, and hopefully there might be a few ideas worth gleaning.

Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste | Living Consciously Blog

Whole Chicken = Bone broth

Since we’ve started eating meat again, I’ve found that it is super simple to cook a whole chicken in the crockpot. Crockpot chicken can be done many ways but always results in me not having to do much at dinner time. If you want to make bone broth from your chicken, though, you want to avoid things like stew or extreme spices that would change the taste of the broth too much.

There are hundreds of blog posts on the benefits of bone broth, go read a few. It is a magical liquid full of nutrition that will give you the strength to leap tall buildings in a single bound and all of that.

Here is how to make use of the leftover chicken: if you have preschoolers or small children like I do, it takes them hours and hours to eat the single piece of food you served them, even when they like it. So after I have eaten my own chicken, I wash my hands, grab a few glass storage containers (affiliate link), and start pulling the meat off the bones while they sit there not-eating. I save the bones and most of the fat in a separate container from the meat. I typically refrigerate everything for a few days until I get around to setting up the bone broth. All it takes a is a quick soaking of the bones and fat in apple cider vinegar and filtered water in a crock pot early in the day or late at night, then fill the crock pot up the rest of the way with filtered water and your choice of spices and herbs. Keep it simple. You can use this recipe for bone broth if you need one. I typically let the broth cook on low for 15-18 hours.

Celery hearts, fresh herbs + freezer = bone broth

If you tend to let your celery hearts and fresh herbs go forgotten in the fridge a bit too long so that they’re still edible (not slimy) but just no longer at the peak of freshness, pop them into the freezer before they go bad. I do this a lot for parsley, of which I never seem to use the entire bunch. Take them out and put them into the crockpot to use in your bone broth. You can also use them in soups and stews if you chop before freezing

Compost and Chickens

I keep two containers on my countertop: one for compost and one for the chickens. My chickens are very spoiled and only like certain scraps. They do not like garlic or onions, despite how cool garlic would make their eggs taste. They do not like kiwi. They have varying opinions about mangoes. And potatoes, avocado, and a few other veggies are toxic to them. So for the things they can’t or won’t eat, I have a terribly unprofessional compost heap (read more about how to compost here). Instead of showing you a picture of my probably-not-genuine compost heap which tends to actually grow it’s own garden, I will show you my countertop containers.

Compost Chickens and Food Waste | Living Consciously Blog

As you can see, they do not have to be fancy. This is also a great reuse of plastic tupperware type containers that I have been given by other people which I will not use with my own food due to plastic leaching issues. And here are my chickens enjoying some of the scraps that they deem acceptable.

Feeding leftover veggies to the backyard chickens | Living Consciously Blog

Obviously, not everyone has backyard chickens, so for those of you who don’t…

Fruits & Veggies = smoothies

When your fruit gets a little too squishy for your enjoyment (bananas, mangoes, strawberries), or your leaves get a little wilted (kale, spinach, swiss chard) but you don’t have chickens or other pets that eat produce, pop that not-so-fresh stuff into the freezer. Then the next time you want to make a smoothie, use the frozen fruit or veggies! Don’t forget to reduce (or completely eliminate) the ice that you use since you are using frozen items. You might also have to increase the liquid a little bit. Here are my simple green smoothie guidelines.

Meat = curry

As I am relatively new to cooking meat, meat waste is new to me. No one in my household except me will eat leftovers. And since I still do not prefer to eat meat more than once every few days, I’m not a huge fan of eating all the leftover meat from weekly dinners by myself. I have figured out a few things that I can do with our most common leftovers.

Pork loin, Ham – curry! Right now I use a curry mix whose ingredients are all written in some form of kanji so it might be fairly toxic, but my family loves it! I just set the rice machine to have rice ready and then curry whatever leftover meat I have.

Making curry out of leftover ham, reduce food waste | Living Consciously Blog

Chicken – Chicken soups. Chicken tacos. Chicken stir fry. I also freeze uneaten chicken breast or shredded chicken to serve with rice to my kids on an evening when my husband and I might be going out, healthier than chicken nuggets!

Fish – Fish smells so bad when reheated! It gets so gross in the fridge. Does anybody have any good ideas for leftover fish? Please email me or send me a tweet!

Meal Planning

Overall, the best way that I’ve found to avoid waste is to plan meals to use leftovers. I am not good at this, and I am not a smart meal planner. For that reason, I pay someone else to do the meal planning. Currently, I am using Real Plans meal planning system (affiliate link) and I love it. It provides a shopping list that I can alter based on what parts of the plan for that week I want to use and what parts I do not, and all the recipes can be adjusted to fit larger or smaller groups. You can find my review of the Real Plans system here. (NOTE: I am an affiliate for Real Plans so I get a percentage of their fee if you sign up for their system). Other meal planning systems that I have used in the past include The Fresh 20 and eMeals.

Those are all my ideas for now, for more ideas on how to reduce food waste, follow the hashtag #NoFoodWasted on Instagram and Twitter. I’ll be posting more from my Instagram on Earth Day with that hashtag as well! 

Happy Earth Day!

#ShiftHappens: Join me at ShiftCon in LA this year!

ShiftCon Social Media Conference - Join me in 2015! Discount codes | Living Consciously Blog

Despite how totally awesome I am sure I make it look, it isn’t easy being green.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t know what was done to the ingredients in our food. Sometimes I wish I didn’t mentally envision the end-of-life (landfill, never biodegrading) of those not-really-disposable plastic products that everyone else seems to be able to use without thinking twice. Or I think how convenient it would be to buy makeup at the drug store without thinking about how I’m absorbing phthalates (endocrine disruptors) through my pores.

It’s times like those that I feel a little crazy. And sometimes a little alone.

But in October of last year, I had an amazing weekend that helped me realize that I am NOT alone. Not only am I not alone, but those of us who are (fortunately or unfortunately) armed with too much information about the toxins and waste in our world don’t have to just sit around and worry about it. Together, we can affect change. We can work with big brands and companies to change the way products are made. We can petition Congress and talk to our representatives about legislation that will protect the purity of our food.

Every time I make my own hand soap or bread or buy alternative products without nasty additives, GMOs, or artificial colors, I am sending a message to the corporations that I am NOT purchasing from. I admit that I get tired of all the DIY and due diligence sometimes. I want it to be easy and fast. So I’m excited to support companies that produce convenience that is responsible, safe, and uses only whole ingredients.

What if all of us who feel this way got together in one place? What if we invited the brands who agree with us to join the conversation? What if we talked about why we want change, what change we want, and helped each other get stronger and more relevant in the movement to shift the paradigm?

We can! It’s called ShiftCon Social Media conference!

Blogger or social media influencer, brand or company: no matter where you are on your journey to a greener, cleaner, healthier lifestyle, I would encourage you to attend ShiftCon social media conference this fall September 26-27 in Los Angeles, California. I am already signed up! If you are considering signing up, I have some great ways for you to save on registration.

1.  This week through March 23, registration is $100 off! Please follow the link and read more about the discount.

2. If you’re reading this after March 23, I still have a $50 off coupon code for you, as my friend! Yep, reading my blog finally pays off. $50 for you, just contact me directly at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com for the code.

I hope to see you there!

 NOTE: I am now an affiliate seller of tickets to ShiftCon. If you buy tickets using this link, I get $20 even after your $50 off! Let’s help each other out!

Saving money on organic non-GMO groceries

After a full year of saying we’re going to sit down and go over our budget, my husband and I finally did it. We used to be such superstars about our budget when we were first married, but it’s yet another area that has slipped since we had children. We have so very little time without the kids that it seems like a waste to spend it on budgeting (see what I did there?). Still, we did it, and we survived. The aftermath has left me with the task of saving money on organic non-GMO groceries.

We’ve been eating organic produce when it comes to The Dirty Dozen for many years; that has not changed and will not change. But ever since I attended Shiftcon in October, I’ve been making a more concentrated effort to avoid genetically modified organisms in our food. I have learned so much about what’s happening to our bodies, our health, and our children as a result of GMO’s in the past few years that it’s difficult for me to “unknow” all of these things and go back to allowing these untested organisms back into our food supply. I feel terrible about choosing cheap over safe now. I hate that it has to be a choice, but I know that if I keep “voting with my dollars”, eventually the companies will start listening.

I reached out to some wonderful clean eating anti-GMO bloggers that I know asking for their best tips on saving money while eating clean. I have compiled the best advice I received and hope to implement. Some of these things I already have in place and have already tested out for you! PLEASE NOTE: There are affiliate links in this list, meaning I am an affiliate of some of the online stores, so if you order from them I will get a few cents. Thank you!

Saving Money on Organic NonGMO Groceries | Living Consciously Blog

Saving money on organic non-GMO groceries

1. Buy supplements, specialty (gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, non-GMO) snacks, and pantry staples from online retailers.

A list of retailers that may be cheaper in some cases than Whole Foods, Sprouts, or even Natural Grocer include:

Vitacost (affiliate link)
Thrive Market (affiliate link)
Abe’s Market (affiliate link)
iHerb (recommended by Lindsay Dahl)

I have found that crackers, flours, bulk herbs and grains, bath and body products, dental products, and organic feminine hygiene products are cheaper on these sites than at physical stores. Tip: order with a friend so that your order is large enough to qualify for free shipping (usually $50).

2. Garden: grow your own organic produce and herbs

This would work better if I did not constantly kill everything that I attempt to grow, but I just keep trying! The most valuable thing for me to grow would be herbs, again if I did not constantly kill them. I spend $3-$4 per week on fresh cilantro, parsley or sage. If I could somehow stop killing the herbs in my garden, that would save me $156 per year, minimum. Related: has anyone ever tried the Aerogarden (affiliate link) for this? I have been thinking of ordering one for years to try to stop the constant herb death over here.

3. Meal Planning

I am literally unable to do this inside my own brain, so I pay someone to do it for me. I love buying meal planning and having someone else tell me how to cook and what to cook. Meal planning makes certain that you don’t buy what you won’t eat in a given week. No waste! Clean eating plans that I love:

Real Plans (affiliate link)
The Fresh 20
eMeals (choose the Clean Eating, Vegetarian or Paleo plan)

4. Use the freezer

Maybe 2015 will be the year we get an electrician out to install outlets in the garage for a deep freeze. If you have freezer space, you can buy in bulk and freeze. Things to freeze: organic fruits, organic vegetables (from your garden!), grass fed meat, large batches of soup, large batches of baked goods like muffins, pancakes, and waffles, leftover smoothies and bulk cooked beans (cheaper & safer than buying canned). You can also buy frozen organic produce more cheaply than fresh.

5. Shop smarter

I’ve saved a lot over the years by knowing where each item is the cheapest. For example, conventional marshmallows have high fructose corn syrup AND blue dye (linked to attention issues and hyperactivity in children, actually required to carry a warning label in the UK, largely phased out over there). So I buy organic marshmallows, but there’s a difference in cost depending on where you buy…

Whole Foods: $4.69 per package
Natural Grocer: $4.29 per package
Thrive Market: under $4 per package

Per my blogger friends across the nation, try to find these local chains near you:

Grocery Outlet
Costco (carries a TON of organic and GMO-free items)
Natural Grocer (by Vitamin Cottage, under that name in some areas)

For more ways to shop smarter, check on these posts Organic on the Cheap, Real Food Money Saving Tips, Using Amazon Subscribe & Save makes Real Food Affordable and Real Food Grocery Budget.

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I hope some of these tips help all of us! Here’s to a thrifty 2015, and please feel free to post YOUR money saving tips for organic, non-GMO groceries in the comments!

2015 To Do List

As explained in previous years, I don’t make resolutions. I make “to do” lists, to help inspire me to complete tasks that I would otherwise skip. Sometimes it’s something around the house, sometimes it’s learning something new, and sometimes it’s actually self-care (last year: go to the dentist after 3 years). I have the entire year to get these things done…or not. At the end of the year, I give an update on how I’ve done (see the 2014 How Did I Do? post).

I’ve noticed that as I’ve looked toward 2015 with the changes in my approach to life that I gained in 2014, my “To Do” items got a little more long-term oriented. Perhaps a little less measurable than before. I’ll try to create some kind of measurement for each one, if I can.

2015 To Do List | Living Consciously Blog

1. Keep track of the money I make (or lose) in essential oils. If you know me in real life, or even just casually read the blog, you know that I don’t actively SELL oils. I mean, I am a distributor for essential oils and I buy them myself. I always have a link at the top of my blog if you want to buy from me online at retail prices (“Product List” in the navigation), or sign up under me to buy wholesale (“Sign Up Here” in the navigation). But I don’t push them. I don’t mention that I sell them very often. I do allow my local friends to order oils through me when I put in my monthly order and I only charge them what I pay. I pay the ($10-$11) shipping myself and don’t charge them for that. Unfortunately, I just realized last month that some of the oils I order for others are also taxed — and with some of the more expensive blends this can be as much as $6 — but I’ve never charged anyone tax. I often have someone tell me on Facebook that they want me to order an oil for them, I order it, and when I attempt to contact them to drop it off and collect payment, they never respond. Likewise, it is not unusual for me to deliver an order and not be repaid for as many as 4 weeks.

Basically, I am a terrible business person. I am horrible at math, bad at conducting business, and I don’t like to ask people to pay me.

I think the first step in the process of figuring out if I am even breaking even (probably not) is to open a separate checking account for the EO purchases. That way I can track the cash going in and out. I have avoided doing this since my husband and I have all joint accounts and having a separate account feels dishonest to me, somehow. But unless I want to keep losing our joint money, I have to separate these expenses.

Measurement: I should be able to at least give a rough guess as to whether I am losing money or gaining money, even if it’s not an exact number.

2. #handstandby40  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that in January 2014 I took a yoga arm balance workshop and almost immediately became obsessed with arm balances and yoga challenges. I vowed in 2014 that I would learn to handstand (a straight yoga handstand, which is done in complete stillness, no “walking” on the hands to maintain stability) by the time I turn 40. And by that, I mean be able to arrive in handstand reliably without falling and stay for as long as I want to, without falling due to instability. I literally practiced handstanding every single day from January to August, 8 straight months. If I was tired, if I was sick, if I hadn’t done a full yoga practice that day: handstand. 

In August, through practicing the yogic yama satya — truthfulness, including truthfulness to self — I realized that my body needed a rest to reach the next level. So I backed off of the handstand part of my practice. I actually saw an improvement for a few months! Less intensity was beneficial.

And then I got lazy about handstanding. At this point, I’ve lost the ability to arrive in handstand reliably, and cannot seem to maintain stability for as long anymore. I need to pick it up again with the handstand practice. I only have 3 years!

Measurement: Obviously, I’ll still have a little more than 2 years left until 40 at the end of 2015, so not having nailed handstands is OK. Let’s say that I hope to be able to arrive in handstand reliably. I shouldn’t have to fall over 5 times before I catch some air.

3. A less intense cleanse. I learned this year from my macrobiotic cleanse and my shorter liver detox, that cleanses are do-able. I was on the fence about cleanses until 2014. Now that I know I can do it, and that a short term cleanse (like the 2 week liver detox) does make me feel better, I’d like to investigate doing something more simple and short term a few times a year. Maybe something I even make up myself. Nothing expensive, and no more of these 30-day things. Just 3-5 days of very clean eating and lots of veggies in the Vitamix, perhaps?

Measurement: One cleanse, of any type. Bonus: 2 cleanses.

4. Learn to wear jewelry. Let’s not get crazy here. I am not a flashy person. I have worn the same silver hoops in all 6 of my ear holes 24/7 for the past 5 years at least. I am going to say that Hot Jewels count as jewelry here. And diffuser necklaces count too. But I really need to work on at least changing my earrings once a month. I think I might start documenting my success on Instagram. Maybe with the hashtag #learntowearjewelry?

Measurement: A few pictures on my Instagram this year showing that I wore jewelry of some kind without being forced (i.e., by a special occasion that requires jewelry).

5. Morning Time. Another practice I developed in the latter half of 2014 was getting up before my family is up and reading scripture and meditating. When it was warmer and I got up early enough, I also did some yoga. Since the weather turned cold, like a lizard I cannot maintain enough body heat to leave the blanket in the chair where I’m reading to do yoga in the morning, but I digress. The morning time has been good for my patience as a mom and my overall view of the ebb and flow of life throughout the day. I even feel like catching up on social media that early in the day is profitable because it keeps me from having to check my phone constantly while getting the kids ready in the morning.

Measurement: I’d like to be able to say at the end of 2015 that I maintained my morning time as a regular habit. That I committed to morning time more often than not.

Fluffy Low Gluten Bread in a Bread Machine

We’ve had great success reducing my son’s food intolerances through naturopathy, but he is still a little sensitive to both wheat and dairy. For some reason, his body CAN process white flour much more easily than whole wheat, although I’ll always go with the gluten-free version of things, if I can. Recently, I read this article about why non-organic flour might cause more inflammation than conventionally produced wheat flour. I am not sure if those two are linked in his case, but they could be.

I make all our own bread, for the most part. I rarely buy bread. For my husband and I and my daughter, I typically make a variation of my fluffy wheat bread. But for my son, I alter the recipe a little and make low gluten bread in my bread machine to address his gluten intolerance, which is different than an allergy. At first, I was frustrated by how flat and dense the bread typically came out. Then, after a conversation with my mom about the chemistry of gluten free cooking, I revised it a little to include vanilla extract. Perfect! Now I get fluffy bread nearly every time!

The trick with this bread is actually allowing the yeast to grow a little in the machine before baking. This is a big “no-no” with bread machines, typically, but in this recipe it works! I promise!

Important for cooler temperatures/climates: I made this recipe for the first time since it got cooler here in Texas (in the 60’s, woo hoo!) and the yeast did not work as it did during the summer. I ruined an entire loaf. The yeast should be frothy and bubbly after 10 minutes.
TIP: Warming the bread machine’s inner container in the oven for a few minutes before putting the warm water and yeast inside has helped a lot in the cooler months (or when the temperature inside the house is below 72 degrees).

Fluffy Low Gluten Bread in a bread machine | Living Consciously Blog

Low Gluten Bread

First:

1 cup of water, warmed (not hot)
2 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. yeast (regular, not fast-rising)

Second:

1 tsp. gluten free vanilla extract (affiliate link)
1/4 cup oil (safflower, non-GMO canola – affiliate links)
1 cup pre-mixed gluten free flour (affiliate link)
2 cups organic white flour
1/2 tbsp. salt

1. Add all items listed in the “First” list to the bread machine canister. Let sit for 10 minutes or longer. Yeast should bubble up like this:

Low Gluten Bread Yeast

2. Add vanilla and then oil (shown in picture, above).

3. Add the flours and then the salt.

4. I set my machine for the White Bread setting. It should come out nice and fluffy, like this!

Fresh Fluffy Low Gluten Bread in the Machine

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I get a portion of the sales if you buy using the links to Vitacost. I always label my affiliate links and relationships. I appreciate your support of my blog – thank you!

 


All the Drama on the Internets #5: NPR GMO bias?

Every so often I like to give you a bulleted list of some recent “green” stories in the news and why half of the people are excited to hear about the news or study and the other half are super offended by it for some reason. DRAMA ENSUES. Almost 100% of the time, I am somewhere in the middle. I just figured that some of you might want to know what’s out there and read for yourselves. Just in case you aren’t already immersed in social media 24/7 like I am…

Food Babe speaking at ShiftCon | Living Consciously Blog

On Thursday I ignored the article NPR published calling Food Babe an alarmist because I didn’t want to draw attention to it (still refusing to link to it). Yesterday I spent most of the day watching my private Facebook groups of green/holistic/real food bloggers argue over whether the attack on the food movement by NPR was warranted, if it damaged us all in our efforts to raise awareness of the issues with our food system, and whether Vani should really be allowed free speech like the rest of us. OK, so I made that last part up, but kind of not really. Because whether we like her message or not, whether we agree with the way she says it or not, I don’t think we can argue that she has a place at the table (so to speak), just like any of us with a blog.

If you aren’t familiar with Food Babe, go ahead and look her up. She’s so huge I don’t even have to link to her. Do I read her blog? No, not regularly. Mostly because I am orthorexic, and if I read too much about the tiny details of chemicals in everything I start starving myself. But here’s the thing: most people are not like me. In fact, most people are the opposite. The majority of Americans eat the food they find in the middle of the supermarket, the Standard American Diet, which (aside from being woefully nutritionally deficient) is full of so many chemicals, additives, preservatives, and overall fake-ness that our bodies don’t even know how to function properly. What’s worse is that most people actually feel like they are eating healthfully because our government requires pretty much no labeling or explanation of what is really inside our food when it comes to GMOs, synthetic chemicals, and ingredients that are banned in the UK and other industrialized countries.

Food Babe’s value is that she uses the sensational-type headlines that Americans consuming mass media find intriguing. “You Won’t Believe What’s In Your Yogurt – And It’s Not On The Label!” , “If You’ve Ever Eaten Pizza Before, This Will Blow Your Mind (Maybe Literally)“. Are they the kind of blog post titles you’d find on my blog? No. But they work for her and they draw attention to her message. She also has the guts to go after the big corporations and she’s had some very impressive wins – getting Kraft to remove the artificial orange from their macaroni & cheese, alerting us to the yoga mat ingredient in Subway buns, telling us all that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is deadly.

OK, so it’s actually things like that last one that get us into trouble.

Does the Pumpkin Spice Latte have bad ingredients in it? Yes. Should we be putting that crap in our stomaches? Not really. But will one latte really kill us? No. No, it won’t. But…

Here’s the thing: those nasty chemicals like the ones in the Starbucks latte might be small in the latte, but they are in EVERYTHING we consume. Those little tiny bits of chemicals in your coffee creamer, in your sandwich bun, added to your lunch meat, in your salad dressing, in that artificially-colored yogurt with aspartame that you had for a snack, the eggs McDonald’s sells that have 17 ingredients (look it up) — it’s the accumulation of those chemicals that is the issue. And that is what Vani has spent the past several years exposing, one at a time. She is there to teach those who aren’t aware to start thinking about what they are eating, to ask “why?”. I think she has a place. She is good at what she does, and she is drawing our attention to very important issues.

Obviously, my technique in encouraging consciously living and eating is different than hers, but I also don’t grab the kind of attention she does from the mainstream public. I think that a lot of you were probably already on your way to making better choices when you found this blog. She writes the kind of headlines that reach people who aren’t seeking ways to change, and causes them to consider something for the first time.

I am a little disappointed in NPR. We’ve been members of our local NPR station the entire time we’ve been married, and my husband was a member for years before we were married. We will continue to support our local NPR station. It was unsettling to see that there was only one side represented in this article, with heavy quoting from a pro-GMO group but not representation from anti-GMO groups at all.

Just this morning, NPR released another article putting GMO ingredients in a negative light. Because so many vitamins added to processed foods are manufactured using GMO ingredients, the cereal makers who have agreed to remove the GMOs from their cereal are left with cereal lower in added vitamins. I say good! We should not be relying on sugar- and grain-filled cereal each morning to meet our nutritional needs with manufactured vitamins. We should be getting these vitamins from whole foods — fruits and vegetables and superfoods throughout the day. If moving toward fewer GMOs also moves us toward more whole foods, GREAT!

But, NPR…not so great, guys. Not so partial. I would definitely not go so far as to say that there is a NPR GMO bias, but I would like to ask: Where is representation from our side in these stories?

Skin, digestion, and liver update

Confused button | Living Consciously Blog

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that it’s been about a year since I’ve actively been trying to solve my stomach and clear my acne naturally. I’ve had them all my life, to some extent, but I had a blessed reprieve while pregnant back-to-back with my children from 2009-2011. Both issues resurfaced 2 years ago. Last January, I did the 30 day macrobiotic cleanse complete with probiotic superfood supplements. That did not work, unfortunately. Then I went to a naturopath who discovered that the issue was most likely my liver (and that my gut has become very averse to probiotics, which is why I reacted poorly to the probiotic-based cleanse). I then did a Paleo-ish cleanse for two weeks, followed by a liver detox. I felt good for about a week after that.

After about a month, the acne came back FULL FORCE.

In fact, my face is pretty flared up right now. I have had to switch back to the less-eco-friendly makeup options to cover up the severity of the breakouts. Honestly, I am kind of at the end of my rope here. I do NOT trust conventional Western medicine after that supposedly holistic doctor tried to give me an extremely harsh blood pressure medicine while telling me it was perfectly safe to use for acne. But I feel like I’ve also kind of exhausted the holistic options. Chiropractic, reflexology, essential oils, naturopathic treatment…?

I had to quit the probiotic supplementation because it was making me sick again, just like before. I took probiotic supplements for 2 months, which should have been more than enough time for the “detox effect” to subside. I actually got sicker and sicker the longer I took them.

On the bright side, my digestion hasn’t been too bad overall. Eating fast food twice on our trip home from Thanksgiving made me sick for about 2 days, but I think that’s probably to be expected. Since my two cleanses this year, I have been eating even more cleanly than ever, and any kind of change back to the Standard American Diet throws my body for a loop. But the acne is seriously OUT OF CONTROL. The Board & Batten Begin Again that I recommended in my Holiday Gift Guide has actually been very helpful in restoring some balance because it helps the damage heal faster and when I use it as a mask it restores moisture.

If you have any random suggestions, please throw them at me! And yes, I do oil pulling every day. I am taking Maca (which seems to help my skin, weirdly enough?) and I am taking a supplement recommended by my naturopath for my liver.

GMO Labeling is NOT impossible: picture proof

If you live in a state that has proposed labeling Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food, if you stand up for #LabelGMOs on social media and have been attacked by anti-labeling trolls, or if you have had any conversation at all with someone who is anti-GMO-labeling, you will have heard this claim: GMO labeling is prohibitively expensive and time consuming for companies. The argument goes like this: companies will have to do allll this extra work to identify GMOs in their products, then oh nooooooo, all the ink it will require to print the labeling! So prohibitive! All that ink! All that knowing-where-the-ingredients-come-from! It will make even the largest companies fold under the sheer prohibitive cost! It’s anti-capitalism!

Well, I’m here to tell you that all the “expensive”, “difficult”, and “prohibitively expensive” work has already been done by many of these major companies who are leading the charge against labeling in the United States. GMO labeling is NOT impossible, pictures are below. Leah of Mamavation (and founder of Shiftcon) is currently on a European trip and was kind enough to send back pictures of the GMO labeling and altered ingredients found in the UK versions of popular products here in the U.S. She has posted them on her Facebook page over the past week or so, and I thought I would compile them for those of you who do not follow her.

Popular US products with GMOs removed or labeled in the UK versions. Note that many are actually manufactured in the US! | Living Consciously Blog

Notice in these pictures that the several of the products with GMO labeling are manufactured in the U.S. It’s not that these products are manufactured in the UK for the UK, as special products only to be sold in Europe. They are made and labeled here, right alongside the product sold to Americans unlabeled. U.S. families are the only ones left in the dark as to what is actually in our food products. Not labeling these products here in the U.S. is conscious choice, one that is requiring companies to actually produce multiple lines of packaging (often in the same facility) to keep GMOs hidden from Americans.

Another interesting fact noted on the graphic is how the FD&C artificial colors have been removed from the UK versions of food. You might be wondering why there rarely artificial dyes in the UK versions of food. Artificial food dyes that have been found to cause hyperactivity and to exacerbate nervous conditions such as ADHD in children (PDF of study summary here) are forced to contain a warning label in the UK stating “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”. In order to avoid having to include this warning on their foods, companies who sell products in EU countries have self-regulated and removed artificial food dyes, substituting natural dyes (Mercola report source here).

I get particularly annoyed that the same products are manufactured without artificial food dyes overseas, because I have talked to several of these large brands at the Expo halls of major blogging conferences and have been told over and over that they “can’t” remove the food dyes because “it would change the quality of the product”. Apparently those were all lies, because these products already exist without the food dyes in the UK!

I guess it’s not surprising that marketers lie to us. But, I think it is time to hold them accountable. The next time you hear the argument that GMO labeling is prohibitively expensive or too laborious, help me spread the truth!