Candy Cooties

originally posted Feb. 2014
Another holiday.  Valentines Day.  Do you know what's in the chocolate bar you are eating?  Do you suffer from migraines, irritability, skin problems?  Are your kids eating chocolate?  Are they impulsive, un-focused, quick to rage?  Take a look at the ingredients in your candy bar.  You might be surprised to see a range of chemical ickys in there.

Chocolate ingredients to look out for

Luckily, there are choices!  We sub with Sundrops, UnReal, and Clark.  It doesn't just stop at candy.  When we started this journey a few years ago I discovered the importance of reading ingredient labels.  Do not assume your food will help you stay healthy.  You need to know what ingredients to avoid. So many ingredients in the US food system will effect your well being and that of your children.

Yesterday was an ice cream social at my son's school. We've been mindful of toxic ingredients for some time now.  I knew what the spread was going to be without even seeing it.  I wish I had snapped a picture of the table.  There was every kind of candy topping you could think of.  It would surely make other like minded folks cringe.  I brought my son simple substitutions free of dangerous chemicals and he was still able to enjoy the party and didn't miss out on a thing. Funny, he was quick to point out all the kids running around willy nilly a half hour later and we both noticed a host of impatient adults trying to deal with the chaos.   oy.. 
Does your school have these kinds of celebrations?  Do they follow a party and treat guideline? 

Happy Valentines Day!
graph courtesy of foodbabe
Cheap toxic chocolate - Foodbabe

Dye Free Easter Eggs - Yes!

With Easter just a couple weeks away it's time to start thinking about dye free egg decorating.  Did you know that the typical Easter egg dye kits you buy in the store are chock full of red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1?  You usually add some vinegar to the concoction for more vivid coloring.  The problem?  Well, the dye leaches into the egg.  You definitely don't want to eat these eggs.  But there is more, you really don't want this dye to be absorbed through your skin.  These kinds of dyes have shown to have effects on children with adhd tendencies.  Artificial food dye is made from petroleum, a crude oil product.  This is the stuff that is also used to make gasoline, diesel, tar, and asphalt.  Yuck.  

Click here to read my post about the ADD/adhd and artificial food coloring connection.

Look at the eggs we color with natural dyes.  They may not have that artificial vivid color look, but to me, they are even more beautiful.

Here are some simple recipes to color your Easter eggs naturally.  Do you color your eggs with natural ingredients?  What do you use?

PINK~ Mix 1 cup strained juice from canned beets, 1/2 teaspoon vinegar and 3 cups water.  Soak cooled eggs for about 1/2 hr, less or more to your desired color.

ORANGE~ In a pot, mix 1 cup yellow onion skin (about 2 onions' worth), packed loosely, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and 3 cups water. Boil mixture for 1/2 hour, cool to room temperature, strain out the onion skins, then add cooled eggs and soak them in the dye for 1/2 hour.

PURPLE~Mix 1 cup purple grape juice, 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, and 3 cups water. Soak cooled eggs in the dye for 1/2  hour.

YELLOW~In a pot, mix 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and 3 cups water. Boil mixture for 1/2 hour, cool to room temperature, strain out stray turmeric grains, then add cooled eggs and soak them in
the dye for 1/2 hour.

LIGHT BLUE~In a pot, mix 1 cup red cabbage leaves, torn and loosely packed, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and 3 cups water. Boil mixture for 1/2 hour, cool to room temperature, strain out the cabbage leaves, then add cooled eggs and soak them in the dye for 1/2 hour.

Mom Says No To Shamrock Shake

ohh, it's green shake time.  McDonalds, How I wish you would improve in your ingredients.  You may have noticed the addition of this leprechaun seasonal green dyed item on the menu.    Please don't consider yourself lucky by having access to this chemical fest.  

If you’ve ever wondered what gives the shake its famous green color, the secret is in the syrup. The Shamrock Shake syrup contains yellow 5 and blue 1, both of which have been linked to behavioral problems and hyperactivity in children. Blue 1 is also poorly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract, and yellow 5 can be linked to cancer. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban the additives since 2008, and they have already been phased out in the United Kingdom. The syrup also contains — surprise — high fructose corn syrup.
And take a closer look, there is no mention of mint in the emerald colored drinks.  But there is Carrageenan which is widely added to ice creams and yogurts.  Carrageenan is linked to inflammatory illnesses.  Chronic inflammation is the root of many diseases including Parkinsons, heart disease, Alzheimers, and cancers.

Just take a look at the lengthy ingredient list.

Allergens: MILK
Ingredients: Milk, Sugar, Cream, Nonfat Milk Solids, Corn Syrup Solids, Mono- and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Dextrose, Sodium Citrate, Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Sodium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Disodium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate.

Ingredients: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Natural Flavor (Plant Source), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Yellow 5, Blue 1.
May contain small amounts of other shake flavors served at the restaurant, including egg ingredients when Egg Nog Shakes are available.
Allergens: MILK
Ingredients: Cream, Nonfat Milk, Corn Syrup, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains Less Than 1%: Mono-And Diglycerides, Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80, Beta Carotene (Color), Natural (Dairy and Plant Sources) and Artificial Flavor, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E) to Protect Flavor. Whipping Propellant (Nitrous Oxide).

Ingredients: Cherries, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Natural (Plant Source) and Artificial Flavors, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Red 40, Sulfur Dioxide as Preservative (Contains Sulfites).

A 16 ounce serving is 550 calories. 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, no fiber, 82 grams of sugar and 13 grams of protein.

Instead, try this easy recipe which has pineapple, banana and kale.  
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups stemmed and chopped kale or spinach
1 1/2 cups chopped pineapple (about 1/4 medium pineapple)
1 ripe banana, chopped
Combine the coconut milk, ½ cup water, the kale, pineapple, and banana in a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute, adding more water to reach the desired consistency.

Nutritional Information
Per Serving
Calories 253
Fat 13g
Sat Fat 11g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 38mg
Protein 5g
Carbohydrate 36g
Sugar 18g
Fiber 5g
Iron 3mg

Calcium 119mg

Do you have a recipe for a healthy "green" shake?


Artificial Food Dyes

This is such a great visual article about red 40, yellow 5 and 6, blue 1, etc.  Click artificial colors to learn how they may be effecting you or your kids?
Did you know that Kellogg's and Kraft don't use artificial colors in their products in Great Britain?... that yellow 6 is banned in Norway and Sweden?.. that Red 40 can cause hyperactivity?

We have been a dye free family for several years now.  I don't buy or offer anything to my kids without first reading the ingredient label.  It's easier than it used to be but I can't assume anything is safe because companies can change manufacturers who may in turn use cheaper ingredients.

Arm yourself with information.  Know what you and your kids are eating.  You might be surprised by what's really in that breakfast cereal.  You might wonder why your son or daughter has sleep problems, focus issues, keeps chewing on his collar...any of which could be due to a food color sensitivity.

Try an easy experiment.  Remove artificial colors from your diet for a couple days and see if you notice a difference. 

Getting Through Halloween

Halloween can be even scarier if you or your kids have an intolerance to artificial colors like red 40, yellow 5/6, blue 1, artificial flavor, vanillin, or preservatives like BHT or TBHQ. These chemicals are found in many candies and gum. Try a trade in policy with your kids. They can still trick or treat and then have them trade in all the yucky chemical candy for approved candies without the chemicals, stickers, a special toy or game, maybe even a little money! In my area there are schools and dentists who will take donated candy and arrange to send it to the Troops.

Do you have a trade in policy?

Mars Inc. Ditch the Red 40 Petition Alert petition.

My children have an intolerance to chemical additives including artificial colors, red 40, yellow 5/6, blue 1, artificial flavor, vanillin, BHT, BPA and TBHQ.  I do not buy products containing these additives.

Several years ago it all started with an itchy tongue.  We were also having problems with focus in school, impulsivity, behavior, self esteem in my then 5 year old.  My other kids had problems falling asleep, staying asleep, night terrors, gait problems, migraines.  I started researching and thankfully learned about an elimination diet called the Feingold diet.  We have not looked back. Today my kids are honor roll students and involved in many extra curricular activities.  They demonstrate self control, and have confidence in their abilities.

There is a petition on that is asking Mars Inc., makers of M&M's, to replace artificial dyes with natural coloring.  They already do this in Europe. Why is the US so far behind?  More signatures are needed.  Please sign and share with your groups and blogs.  Together, we can make a difference.

GMO - We Have The Right To Know

Do you believe we are what we eat?  Do you think we should have the right to know what we are eating?
Most Americans don't know what they are eating.  Many aren't even reading the labels.  I began reading labels several years ago when I noticed reactions in my kids after they ate something with a certain chemical additives like red 40, yellow 5, vanillin, BHT, etc.  Changing our eating style has helped me and my family so much.  If I don't know what's in it, I won't buy it, period.

I have started taking it a step further when I began learning about GMO's.  GMO stands for genetically modified organisms

It's a challenging process but Whole Foods is committed to labeling all their products by the year 2018 and is the first national grocery store chain to set a deadline to do so.  There may be many reasons people want to know what's in their food.  Don't you think we have the right to know?

Currently there are The Nine GE Crops on the Market in the U.S.:    Corn    Soybeans    Canola    Cotton    Sugar Beets    Alfalfa    Hawaiian Papaya    Zucchini    Yellow Crookneck Squash 

Look for these on products to avoid GMO.

Go organic!
The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit the use of GMOs.
Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal
Third-party verification that a product is made without the intentional use of GMO ingredients.
64 countries label their genetically modified food

Shouldn't the USA be on this list?  
Take action now by signing the Just Label It campaign here

Know what you are eating and feeding your children