Friday, December 31, 2010

'Tis the season for slow cooking...from scratch

Cold weather is the perfect time to haul out your slow cooker. Soups and stews are wonderful and warming. Plus, CrockPots make it easy to have a healthy, home-cooked meal: throw a ton of veggies and maybe some meat into a pot and just kick back and smell the yummy. 


However, if you do a search for slow cooker recipes, nearly all of them include stuff like 2 cans of condensed something-or-other soup or a packet of onion soup mix. These are highly-processed products and contain loads of suspect ingredients; the sodium content alone is reason enough to try to avoid them. For instance, one serving of Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup delivers a whopping 870mg of sodium - that's 36% of the Recommended Daily Allowance.


But how can you tackle a slow cooker recipe that calls for this stuff? I was thrilled to find a from-scratch version in this recipe for Chicken and Dumplings. 


Why bother making it from scratch? Because then you control the amount and the quality of the ingredients. For me, that meant using all organic ingredients: whole grain pastry flour, milk and butter from grass-fed cows, and low-sodium stock. It took about five minutes, was easy as pie, and was perfect for my slow cooker dish.

So, the next time you see a recipe that uses ingredients you want to avoid or just plum don't trust, find an option or create an alternative. It's probably easier than you'd think.


My version of chicken-n-dumplings. And, yes, I made the dumplings from scratch, too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Aspirin to Prevent Cancer

One of the top news stories today is the study that found that aspirin may very well reduce cancer-related deaths. This news is remarkable and incredibly hopeful, particularly to me, the daughter of two cancer survivors. It often seems, despite the years of research and the gazillions of dollars raised to fight cancers, that we'll never make any real headway against this family of diseases that affects so many of us.

But is taking aspirin every day for decades the answer? There are surely potential side effects, such as hemorrhagic strokes and gastrointestinal bleeding. Perhaps we can find an alternative, something that like aspirin fights the inflammation that apparently fuels the growth of tumors.


We do have an alternative. We can eat anti-inflammatory foods. Dr. Andrew Weil, the Harvard-educated M.D. who is a leader in the world of integrative medicine, developed an "Anti-Inflammatory Diet." The basics of this plan (it’s not really a diet in the sense of quick weight loss) are: consume more omega-3 fats and fewer omega-6 fats; consume less bread, crackers and sweet drinks and eat more whole grains, beans, fruits and veggies; and eat less meat and poultry and more vegetable proteins. Basically, you should eat a balanced diet, loaded with whole, unprocessed foods.

It’s really nothing so earth-shattering, and it certainly isn‘t just Dr. Weil who promotes this lifestyle. But most of us aren’t eating this way. Perhaps, if we did, we could better avoid cancers and the temptation to pop a daily aspirin. And, let's face it: preventing future diseases by eating well means no nasty side effects.

Welcome!

Flannery and I are excited about our new venture together and we are so glad you've joined us to kick off this blog! We just applied to become a Limited Liability Company, we ordered business cards, and we're working on a website (my computer just died and took a lot of the copy I'd written for the new site, so we aren't yet ready to launch that yet). But soon, friends, soon! In the meantime, we invite you to regularly check in with us here. We'll post everything from kid- and pregnancy-friendly recipes to health tips to news that affects us all. If there are any topics you'd like us to tackle, please feel free to suggest them.

Thanks for being here.
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