Oh No – GMOs!

I hear chatter about GMO’s allllll the time. Frankenfoods, if you will. I’ve heard someone at the grocery store look at a box of granola bars (that were literally loaded with added sugars) and put it back because the label indicated it used some GMO ingredients. Yes…they were terrified of the GMO’s but the cup of added sugar per serving didn’t seem to phase them at all. I was so confused!!!! You see, there’s so much more research on added sugars leading to chronic disease than GMO’s so it got me wondering…what exactly is being said about GMOs to make the average person more terrified of that then the proven fact that too many added sugars can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer!

While GMO’s seem like weird Frankenstein plants, I want to clear up some misconceptions about them to give you the facts so you can make informed choices when it comes to buying food. I’ll give you the 411 you need and then you can make decisions for yourself and your family. Let’s get controversial!

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Basically this means that scientists took a plant and changed its DNA to make it what they need it to do/be (resistant to a disease, produce more fruit, resistant to herbicides, etc) in order to have a “better” plant. What happens is they usually combine DNA molecules from other sources in one single molecule for the plant they’re working on. To make it simple: if they want to keep a certain disease from apples, they get a plant that doesn’t get that disease and use it’s genes in the apple. Boom, apple is now resistant to that disease.

Still following me after all that?

In the US there are 11 commercial crops that are GMO. So if you are looking in the grocery store, here’s the GMO’s you could potentially run in to.

  1. Apples
  2. Potatoes
  3. Field corn (corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, cereals, etc)
  4. Canola (canola oil)
  5. Alfalfa (used to feed farm animals)
  6. Soybeans (Silk has a patent on their soybeans which are non-GMO)
  7. Papaya
  8. Cotton (cottonseed oil)
  9. Sugar beets (added sugars in foods NOT the red beets you eat)
  10. Sweetcorn (corn you eat off of the cob in the summer and canned/frozen)
  11. Summer squash

SO! When you see a package of rice that says “Non-GMO” and it seems awesome because it wasn’t made with GMO rice, rest assured, there isn’t a GMO rice. They are suckering people into their marketing tactics! When you see a company that says “made with some GMO ingredients” they’ve used one or more of the above foods in their product. Does that make it “bad”? You decide. I can tell you, it makes it genetically modified to be resistant from bugs, pesticides/herbicides, or disease resistant.

An important point I need to make is that cross breeding/selective breeding in plants DOES NOT mean its genetically modified (GMO). Cross breeding or selective breeding has been done since the ancient of days to continue the lines of fruits/veggies/grains/nuts that taste the most delicious and produce the most crop! Seeds were saved from the best plants and continued while the seeds of the worst producers/tasting plants were thrown out. This left us with tomatoes that taste like a dream and cucumbers that are super crunchy and sweet! Heirloom varieties of crops are prime examples of this. Farmers continued to pass down their seeds of the plants they had worked on for generations to be the best and tastiest!

Whats the research on GMOs? Well, honestly, GMO’s have only been available at the grocery store since the 90’s so we don’t have a lot of GOOD/LONG TERM research to give a solid answer. There have been questions about allergens in GMO crops. Much of the “gluten intolerance” pushers say that GMOs are to blame (this is why you need to ask and listen to a Registered Dietitian and not “joe shmoe”) Did you notice the list???? Wheat is not a GMO crop. It literally cannot be the reason people have an increase of sensitivity to gluten…literally can.not. More research needs done on GMO’s clearly, BUT there are no solid research studies that show GMO’s are to blame for any chronic illness, allergy, and/or issues known to man.

Many GMO crops are resistant to herbicides like RoundUp. If you know me you know my absolute hate of RoundUp…it is not allowed near or around my house because of it’s proven cancer causing chemicals. And you’ve guessed it, I’m not a fan of Monsanto either…there. I said it. It is now internet official…if my blog gets turned off, you know why. Hah! Would I prefer that RoundUp be banned like they did in Europe? ABSO.LUTELY! If I can list any con’s of GMO’s the herbicide resistance would be a huge one.

I plant a garden. I don’t use all “organic” seeds but it’s all GMO free (because I don’t plant corn, apples, papaya, cotton, canola…etc…witty, I know). I also don’t use herbicides (weed killer) or pesticides (bug killer).

Wanting to steer clear of GMO’s? Go organic! Plant your own garden! Watch what you buy! There are ways to avoid them most of the time.

What do I conclude? I have 5 thoughts about GMO (both pro and cons) for your reading pleasure!

  1. Many of the GMO crops are used in more heavily processed foods (high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, added sugar, etc). If you start eating less processed more fruits/veggies/grains/homemade items then by default you’ll be eating less GMO crops. Is that good or bad? I dunno BUT there it is!
  2. I like apples, potatoes, and sweet corn. I take advantage of the fact that some apples don’t brown as fast, I don’t buy potatoes that have rotten spots, and the sweet corn isn’t riddled with worms. Knowing that they are GMO doesn’t stop me from eating them or enjoying them. Can I buy these tasty foods organic? Sure. Do I have the budget for it? Not often. Do I lose sleep over it? Absolutely not!
  3. I use canola oil all day every day. I could buy organic if I wanted to spend triple the amount of money on it but I choose to continue to use GMO canola and mix in some olive oil too. If organic canola gets cheaper I’d definitely use it (remember the RoundUp-rant? Yeah, Canola is one of those plants) but for now we stick with the regular stuff. It still has omega 3 fatty acids, still great for your heart, and still makes my salad dressings taste like a vinegary dream!
  4. If it is important for you to steer clear of GMO’s based off of personal beliefs then go for it. Organic produce will be non-GMO. It will be heavy on the budget but it is feasible. Like I said, if I had the budget for it or if organic canola went down in price I’d be buying it simply because of my absolute annoyance of herbicides.
  5. The last piece of advice I have for you is this: you can live your life as if everything is a conspiracy but what kind of life is that? I’m not saying to trust everything (remember my hatred for RoundUp? hahaha) but I’m saying that if you can’t trust anything, you’re living life worried and in fear instead of in confidence and freedom. If you believe in God and you’ve given your life to Jesus there should be no fear (GMOs included). Again, this is not to say you should believe everything you hear and go out and wrangle poisonous snakes and eat all the bacon you want because you’ve been washed by the blood of Jesus!!!!!!!! Hear me out…it’s to say that you can live your life without fear that everything is out to get you because He who has created the universe has big plans for your life…much bigger than what kind of apples you eat. Understand where I’m coming from? Be informed but be free!

So that is my take on GMO’s. There’s not a ton of research because it is a new science. I will tell you that before a GMO edible plant comes to market, it has been tested for at least 13 years and 5-7 of those years are going through all the regulatory steps. It’s not an easy process and it shouldn’t be if people will be eating them. There have been plants turned down during this process…not all of the fruits/veggies/edibles they have altered make it through. Why do scientists continue to do it? Because there are real farmers who depend on a good crop and people to buy their produce for their livelihood. Because there are real people to feed in the United States and honestly around the world. Because sometimes God gives scientists the knowledge to make our lives better, even if it’s just so that worms don’t eat our corn!

Eat in freedom friends!

Thanksgiving Night (A Night Before Christmas Parody)

So it’s the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house
You were stirring and stirring and so was your spouse

Preparing the feast you are making with care
Looking forward to family and friends who’ll be there

You were thinking and thinking just about bread
I mean, what else does one think of inside of their head?

“I know my dietitian said just think of a cap
Stop eating before your body demands a long nap”

When all of a sudden my brain starts to clatter
I sprang from my thoughts and from stirring the batter

Away to my computer I flew like a flash
Typed in this dietitian’s website – man, she’s a smash

The idea of moderation and even saying “no”
Gave me hope that I could have my glucose to show

When what to my wondering thoughts should appear
That I could eat what I want!?! You see, it’s just that simple my dear

With some look ahead planning I knew just that quick
I’d be able to eat everything I want, ain’t that slick

Maybe not as much as I used to, but that’s not my aim
These numbers were crazy, but them I can tame

Now Fiber and Protein and Veggies and Fruits
On Legumes and Oils and Dairy and Roots

To the plate size and portion size, make them all small
Now you’ll be able to eat what you want, ya’ll!

As dry herbs that cooked with the turkey on high
When you are met with an obstacle, don’t fear to fly!

So up in the morning with breakfast, you’ll chew
With some protein and fiber and healthy fats too

And then you’ll see that it’s not just a spoof
Your glucose won’t be as high as the roof

If after noon is your meal, I think you have found
You’ll need a snack until Thanksgiving dinner comes around

Control is important from your head to your foot
YOU CAN do it during holidays, the numbers WILL stay put

Eating well doesn’t have to be seriously wack
You can eat what you want it’s just a portion hack

Your eyes – how they’ll twinkle! Your smile: how merry!
They’ll see you’re not afraid to eat, even fruits like a cherry!

Your knowledge will surely sprout up and grow
And your confidence, like centerpieces, will definitely show

So as you chew each bite well with your sparkling teeth
Know quite proudly and with a sigh of relief

That your beautiful face, and God-made round belly
Will, on the inside be healthy, and not a nervous Nelly!

I don’t care if your plump or if your scale’s on a shelf
I care most if you’re healthy and loving yourself

Intrinsically you know inside of your head
You honestly, truly, have nothing to dread

Sometimes it does take a lot of hard work
You may feel overwhelmed just don’t go berserk!

Learning to control glucose, God-knows
Can take some getting used to but first, you have chose

To come to my blog and not even bristle
Just take in the info and happily whistle

And I know you’ll exclaim when your sugars are right
That everything worked out well on this Thanksgiving night

-An Amanda Original…you’re welcome (hahaha!)

So if you didn’t quite get it from my exquisite poem writing here’s a few things to remember about keeping your blood sugars controlled on Thanksgiving:

  1. Eat a snack before bed (just as you would normally)
  2. Eat a balanced breakfast. Protein and fiber and healthy fats too!
  3. If Thanksgiving dinner is later in the day make sure to eat a small snack so you don’t go into the dinner ravenous.
  4. If Thanksgiving was earlier in the day (around noon) you’re going to need to eat later in the day. Perhaps a snack.
  5. Decide early on what you REALLY like to eat on Thanksgiving. Things that aren’t really your favorite, don’t eat! Save yourself some carbs!
  6. Think about your plate…half of it should be vegetables (salad, roasted veggies, etc); the palm of your hand size should be turkey; the last quarter of your plate, carbohydrates (mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pie, stuffing, etc)
  7. Eat what you want, just eat less!!! A small sliver of pie, smaller portions of potatoes, less stuffing. You’ll get all the flavors, be satisfied, and feel great not stuffed afterward!

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Having a Gluten Free Holiday

Celiac disease is no joke. It’s an autoimmune condition that affects how your body reacts to gluten which is found in some grains. It can be a tough diet because many food products are made with a gluten containing grain or has gluten as an ingredient. I cannot overstate this…CELIAC DISEASE IS NOT A DIET FAD. Gluten free diets, because some individuals believe it is better for you, have been a fad for a few years now but I promise having Celiac disease is not the same. In fact if a person with Celiac disease eats gluten it can be detrimental to their health to the point of severe vitamin and mineral deficiency and even cancer. This is not to scare you but to shine light on how serious it is for people with this disease to remain gluten free for the rest of their lives.

This brings a whole new challenge when the holidays come around…or any time other people are making food and bringing it to share. Those with Celiac know exactly what I’m talking about and those of you who don’t have the disease, this is a good learning point because you may know someone who has it. You see, Celiac Sprue (as it’s formally called) is a serious condition that impacts the small intestine whenever someone with the disease eats gluten. Gluten is a protein found in some whole grains (like wheat, farro, rye, barley) that causes a severe reaction in people with Celiac. Gluten damages the small intestines which makes it unable to do its job; that is, absorb vitamins and minerals.

So what do you do, especially around the holidays, if you have Celiac disease or are cooking for someone who has it? Well, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve been giving gluten free diet recommendation for many years and I’ve also asked the experts…those who have this disease and are able to give real life advice. Here’s what we have to say:

  1. Let people who are planning a party know that you do have Celiac disease. Many individuals want to accommodate guests as much as possible.
  2. Bring a dish that is gluten free and label it as such. Also bring a special utensil that is labeled. Let the host know how important it is that this dish not be combined with anything else and the utensil not to be used for anything else. Need dish ideas? Check out my Christmas Quinoa SaladLayered Taco Dip, and Spinach Kale and Artichoke Dip
  3. If you are the host, have color coded utensils or signs indicating if a food is gluten free. Let your guests know to look out for that and make sure they do not use utensils from other dishes.
  4. Cross contamination is a big deal. This means that gluten has been passed to a gluten free food by using the same knife, cutting board, unwashed hands or utensils. For instance: the host was slicing bread and then used the same knife and cutting board to slice cheese before washing. Gluten is now on the cheese. The person with Celiac thinks they’ve eaten gluten free and later that evening they become ill. Cheese was the culprit and they would have never guessed.
  5. If you have Celiac, don’t go to the party on an empty stomach just in case. Bring gluten free snacks with you as well.

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Celiac disease does not have to ruin your holiday fun and hosting someone with Celiac does not have to ruin your menu. Here are 10 naturally gluten free foods you can serve this holiday season!

  1. Fruits
  2. Veggies
  3. Cheese
  4. Nuts
  5. Potatoes (mashed and sweet)
  6. Corn and rice are naturally gluten free
  7. Meats (as long as they are not stuffed with bread stuffing)
  8. Gravy can be gluten free as long as cornstarch is used instead of flour
  9. Green bean casserole (made with gluten free mushroom soup)
  10. Gluten free stuffing (either a box [check the label] or homemade from GF bread)

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Baking or planning on indulging in some delicious cookies but don’t know where to find them? My good friend Jaemie has some tips and tricks she would like to share:

  1. Gluten free baking requires patience and practice. Baking with gluten free flour is not the same as baking with all purpose (wheat flour). Gluten gives baked goods (and things like bread, pizza dough, and pie crust) elasticity and chewiness. When you take that out it is very hard to replicate and replace!
  2. Jaemie recommends Krusteaz Gluten Free All Purpose flour because of it’s neutral taste and having similar texture to regular all purpose flour. Pamela’s Ultimate Baking Mix is a great substitute flour for baked goods like cookies because of its nutty flavor (uses almond so be careful if you have a nut allergy).
  3. If you’re not a baker but you love cookies Jaemie suggests: Mi-Del’s GF Candy Cane Cremes and Gingerbread Men, Goodie Girl Mint Slims, Trader Joes GF Candy Cane Joe Joes, and GF Cookie Tray from Cheryl’s Cookies.

Here are two GF cookie recipes to try this holiday season!

Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Drop Sugar Cookies

Feel empowered to continue leading a normal life filled with holiday parties, delicious treats, and normal food all the while treating your body with the care it deserves. Have a wonderful holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

If you or someone you love has Celiac and need more information check out: The Celiac Support Association, National Institutes of Health, Celiac Disease Foundation, Beyond Celiac, and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

10 Minute Pressure Cooker Pork Chops

If you do not have a pressure cooker but love quick cooked meals, seriously consider getting yourself one. No joke these things are amazing! They take quick cooking to a whole new level! I know some people (my parents) have a pressure crock pot and love it. I don’t have one yet but it could be on my wish list (hint hint). This recipe uses a standard pressure cooker but I’m sure you could also use a pressure crock pot. Now just to give you some perspective, I made these pork chops in less than 10 minutes. Sure you can grill thin cut pork chops in about 10 minutes but my entire meal (starch and vegetable) was included in the whole pot!

I started out with a nice marinade. Actually I threw the first try down the drain because it was way too sweet and I wanted more of a tangy bite to these pork chops, especially since I was cooking them with green beans and potatoes. This marinade came out tasty and was quick!

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic (short cut)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

I mixed all of that together and then put it in a zip close bag. I placed 4 boneless pork chops into the bag and mixed it around until all of the pork chops were coated. Let marinate all day (or for at least an hour).

About 15 minutes before I warmed up the pressure cooker I took my meat out of the refrigerator. Animal protein always cooks better when it is close to room temperature. I took my pressure cooker out and placed it on medium high heat. When that was heated I poured some canola oil in the cooker and waited until that heated up. Two chops went into the hot oil at a time until each side was sealed (about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes each side).

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After the pork chops were sealed on each side I put them aside and placed the veggies in the pot.  After the veggies were in I put 1/2-3/4 cup of water into the cooker as well. This is a super important step! If you don’t add enough water the bottom of your pan along with the vegetables will burn!

The pork chops went on top of the veggies and the pressure cooker was sealed. My pressure cooker allows for high or low pressure. I put it on high. As soon as my red tab popped up (if you have a shaking pressure cooker start the time as soon as it starts to shake) I put the timer on for 5 minutes and let it cook.

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After 5 minutes I took the cooker off of the hot stove and let it set 1-2 minutes before running it under cold water. You’ll know the pressure is lowered when the popper goes back down. Read your instruction manual to know exactly when the pressure has been relieved. Vola! It’s done and it was delicious!

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Pardon the picture lighting and the lack of creativity…oh and the circa 1980’s plates (you know you’ve eaten on some variation of this pattern of plate before). All my fancy food picture dishes are packed away for our move and we are just surviving at this point in our lives. This is real life people!

Final thoughts: I know you are focused on the recipe but please note how I plated the food. First the plate is a salad plate, not a large dinner plate. Also, the green beans take up half of the plate, the potatoes about 1/4 of the plate, and the meat is about the size of the palm of my hand. This is truly important because you can make the healthiest meal on the block but still eat too much!

10 Minute Pressure Cooker Pork Chops
Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 thin cut boneless pork chops
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 medium red onion
3 cups baby potatoes
1/2 pound fresh green beans
1/2-3/4 cup water (check your pressure cooker instructions)

Directions:
Mix apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard, garlic, paprika, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Pour into a sealable bag. Place pork chops into the bag and allow to marinate at least an hour (preferably 8-10).

Heat pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Pour oil in pan and wait until that heats. Place pork chops into pan and sear on each side (about 1 1/2-2 minutes each side). Remove pork chops and add onion, potatoes, and green beans into the pressure cooker. Pour water over vegetables and place the pork chops on top. Seal the pressure cooker and allow the pressure to build up until a tab pops up or it starts to shake (again read your instruction manual). Set time for 5 minutes after the pressure is built. Take cooker off of the heat and let set for 1-2 minutes. Run pressure cooker under cold water until the pressure is relieved.

Dietary restrictions: gluten free (check your Worcestershire sauce), dairy free

Open the pressure cooker, plate, and enjoy!