Monday, November 14, 2011

Fried Oreo’s

Where I grew up, you can find these delicious, chocolate morsels at any fair or carnival. They are love by all ages for their crispy, golden brown goodness. They’re not hard to make, but don’t even think about the calories. These are a once in a great while treat in my house. It has been a few years since I’ve made them last. I use double stuffed oreo’s when I make them, but really you can use any kind you want. I bet the mint ones taste pretty darn good too. I like to eat them plain, but they tend to be better with some powdered sugar on top or a drizzle of hot fudge and some whipped cream.

One Year Ago: Olive Tapenade

What You Need:

Double Stuffed Oreo’s
1 egg
1/4 c milk
1/2 tbs vanilla
1 tbs agave or sugar
1/2 c flour
pinch of salt
oil for frying

What To Do:

Heat a pan with about 2 inches of oil. In a bowl, combined the egg, milk, vanilla, agave or sugar, flour and salt. If your batter is still thick, add a bit more milk in until it’s a pancake batter consistency.  Once the oil has reached 350 degrees, dunk an oreo into the batter. Use a fork to pull it out and carefully drop into the oil. Let fry, flipping once, until just golden brown. The cookie becomes soft and crème melts into a wonderful gooey-ness.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Food We Eat

The Food We Eat
Processed foods have taken over the country. They can be found in every grocery store, convenience mart and restaurant. Most items that go into shopping carts contain chemicals that resemble normal every day ingredients.  The food industry has changed drastically over the last one hundred years. What once was high quality; all natural ingredients are now chemically created in labs. Such things are having detrimental effects on this country.  It is leading to an epidemic of obesity and other chronic diseases (BBC News). Even products that are not chemically made such as milk have changed drastically as well. There are three main staples that seem to end up in everyone’s shopping cart. These are milk, bread and eggs. In addition to eating less prepackaged food, if American starting demanding real milk, real eggs and real bread, the industry would be forced to change and bring real food back to this country.
One thing that ends up in most of the shopping carts across America is milk. Creamy, white goodness that has been around for centuries, but do humans really need it? For children, milk provides an all in one package of nutrients that a growing child needs. While these nutrients can be found elsewhere, nothing is more complete then milk (Sears).  Humans are the only mammals that drink the milk of another animal. Female mammals are able to produce milk for their young , which contain all the nutrients they need to sustain life. After about a year, this milk starts to dry up. The same goes for cows. In order for female’s cows to continuing producing milk, they need to be bred each year. It’s the hormones that keep milk production going (Tilton).  The pasteurization process destroys much of the good bacteria and actually changes the proteins within the milk making it harder for humans to digest.  This also makes milk a poor choice for calcium consumption too. Leafy greens, lentils, nuts and sprouts are all full of calcium and make a much better choice (Tilton).
So why do most adults still consume milk if it’s not needed? Most people grew up drinking milk. It is something that has stuck with them and passed on down the family line. There is a big problem with this. The milk produced from farms in the first half of the 1900’s, is drastically different then the milk we get today. Since 1970, milk has been ultrapasteurized, meaning it’s heated to at least 280 degree Fahrenheit for at least two seconds, effectively killing any bacteria (Mendelson 36). It was this bacterium that was thought to be beneficial and why some people probably saw grandparents drinking glasses of real buttermilk or even soured milk (Mendleson 34). 
Then of course comes the “supercow” (Mendelson 36).  In the 1940’s a good cow would produce about 4,500 pounds of milk per year. The good producers were picked out and bred until that same cow would produce 20,000 gallons of milk per year. Since 1960, the United States cow population has shunk by about half, yet the milk production increased from 120 billion pounds of milk to 177 billion pounds (Mother, 36). The cow’s diet has changed as well. Cows are grazers, grass was the main food, however in America, commercial cows are feed grain, mostly corn. This changes the chemistry in their stomachs, which often cause the cow to lose her appetite. They are constantly thirsty and while drinking more water produces more milk, this milk is thinner, watered downed. This wasn’t enough milk for commercial America, so growth hormone or rBGH, started to be administered in 1990 (Mendelson 37).  All of these have severally shortened the life span of a cow. Changes are starting to be made. Studies showed that the growth hormone giving to cows was affecting humans in a negative way. Now, some commercial farms are no longer using growth hormone. This is partly due to the fact that many Americans have complained and started spending their money on organic or raw milks. This is a great example on how American spending can change our food system.
Another great example is High Fructose Corn Syrup of HFCS. HFCS is the most common sweetener used in commercially produced goods today (Nelson). It is in everything from soda, to ketchup to baked goods and even cereals.  Even worse, there are reports that show HFCS “may contain detectable levels of mercury” (Hitti) in the samples that were tested. While these levels were below what the EPA considers safe, Mercury is still toxic. Worst still is the fact that caustic soda is needed in the process of making high fructose corn syrup. Caustic soda, better known as lye, is primarily used as a drain cleaner. It is also used in the process of making soap. It is extremely basic on the P.H. scale, meaning the tiniest amount can burn a whole in your skin, straight down to the bone. Think of the movie “Fight Club” and the scene where a chemical is burning Ed Norton’s character’s skin. So why is HFCS in so many products? It boils down to cost. HFCS is cheaper than table sugar and honey plus it has the added benefit of keeping foods moist. This is not something people should be consuming in any amounts but they do on a daily basis, especially from cola’s where the first or second ingredient is usually HFCS.
Bread is another very common item ending up in shopping carts across America that contains HFCS. Sugar is needed to help bread rise but it isn’t always necessary. Sugar is needed in such a small amount per loaf of bread that it is possible using regular sugar instead of HFCS wouldn’t raise the price of bread by very much. Another issue in bread is the refined flours. White flour is bleached and has all of the nutrients removed, then the vitamins and minerals are put back in. Even breads labeled as whole wheat or whole grain often use flours that have been “enriched”.  This doesn’t mean that it is bad and should be avoided but when you add in the rest of the chemical ingredients, it might be a good idea to make your own. Read the ingredients on a loaf of bread and compare it the ingredients listed in a recipe, they are vastly different. Yes, buying bread is more convenient, but is convenience worth the health risks?
High fructose corn syrup contains 50% fructose. Fructose is a sugar that is found naturally in fruits. This sugar does not tell the body to produce insulin which is good if you happen to be a diabetic. The downside to this though, is that it also prevents the chemical leptin from being secreted as well. Leptin is controlled by the secrection of insulin. Without leptin the brain can’t tell us when we’re full. Without leptin, hunger is not sated and people eat to excess (Mohr).
The last item worth mentioning is eggs, or perhaps the chickens from which the eggs come from. Egg producing hens are often tightly packed together, several rows highs, with artificial day light 24 hours a day. This much daylight allows them to produce at least one egg every day, if not more.  “Free range” eggs are no exception and they are often not a better quality either. All free range means is that the chickens are on the ground and have “some” room to move. This could mean as little as one foot of space for the bird to move around in. That doesn’t sound much like free ranging does it? The chickens are treated poorly, often laying eggs next to dead rotting chicken corpses (“Mercy for Animals”).These eggs are then cleaned in a bleach solution and sold for human consumption.
Farm fresh eggs from chickens that really are free ranged or pasture fed, meaning their diets do not consist of corn based feeds, are far superior then the store bought counter parts. In appearance alone, farm eggs have thicker shells, and beautiful orange yolks. They are often fresher as they do not sit around in storage or shipping boxes for months at a time. Plus, the taste of a farm fresh egg can’t be beaten but anything found in a store. Obtaining farm fresh eggs is pretty simple. You can find signs along the road offering eggs or you can raise chickens at home. Chickens require little space and most places do not have very strict ordinances when it comes to raising them either. Just two or three chickens can easily feed a family of four.
Making just a few simple changes to the everyday America diet can really go a long way when it comes to the health of the country. Bring back high quality milk that can easily be made into yogurt, cheeses, and other fermented products. Bring back real bread, make with real whole wheat and whole grain flours, real sugar and real yeast. Bring back real eggs, full of vitamins and minerals and naturally occurring heart health omega fats. American dollars determine what products end up in supermarkets. If spending habits start to trend to high quality healthy ingredients, big name companies will follow suit. Disagree? It has already happened with high fructose corn syrup. The dangers were to great and consumers started purchasing products that didn’t contain this harmful fake sugar. Now, big brand name companies have stopped putting it in some of their products.
It’s really not hard to change eating habits. All it takes is a little bit of time. Bringing back an old way of life is essential for the future.

Works Cited:
"Eat less processed food, say experts." BBC News. N.p., 03 Mar 2003. Web. 27 Oct 2011. .
Hitti, Miranda. "Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup?." WebMd. N.p., 27 Jan 2009. Web. 29 Oct 2011. .
Mendelson, Anne. "The Astonishing Story of Real Milk." Mother Earth News. Oct 2011: 34-41. Print.
Mohr, Christopher R. "The Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup."Diabetes Health. N.p., 20 Aug 2008. Web. 29 Oct 2011. .
Nelson, Jennifer. "High-fructose corn syrup: What are the health concerns." Mayo Clinic. N.p., 23 Oct 2010. Web. 28 Oct 2011. .
Sears, William. "Nutritional Benefits." Ask Dr. Sears. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct 2011. .
Tilton, Erleen. "Do You Need Milk?." Ezine Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct 2011. .
"The Rotten Truth." Mercy for Animals. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct 2011. .
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