Disney World Free Dining Announced

We have been able to take advantage of this offer 2x, once in 2007 and then 3 years later in 2010. 
Wanted to get a post up quick about it in case you have been thinking about going. This offer is for Disney Visa card holders.  There will be a general public offer and that usually is announced a few days after the Disney Visa offer so stay tuned.

Disney Reward Visa Discounts
2011 Memories Vacation Package with Photo Book & Free Dining

Travel Dates: August 28 - September 24, 2011
Booking Dates: April 28 - August 27, 2011

Phone Booking Code:
I25 for
Quick Service Dining at Value Resorts
O2M for
Regular Dining at Moderates, Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resorts

Upgrade Codes:
Y23 for
Regular Dining at Value Resorts
P3G for
Deluxe Dining at Value Resorts
H2C for
Deluxe Dining at Moderate, Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resorts

You can learn more and see other Disney discount codes at:
The Mouse For Less.

LA School District Will Decide on Flavored Milk

This is great news!
Jaime Oliver has launched a new food revolution recently and its creating quite a buzz. This is JO's 2nd year on ABC and this time he is taking on the huge Los Angeles school district, LAUSD. In the first 2 episodes, Jaime Oliver and crew have been denied access to the schools, and JO has been stonewalled by school board members. One of JO's focus is flavored milks being offered in the lunch line and how this act alone is contributing to childhood obesity and diabetes. Flavored milks like chocolate and strawberry should not be a staple in a child's diet. The new superintendent John Deasy is speaking up and taking a stand. Last night on the Jimmy Kimmell show Deasy announced that he is going to recommend to eliminate flavored milks in their public school system.  Now, whether this means altogether or not offered at every meal, this is a huge step forward and hopefully other revolutions around the nation will have similar success. 
I hope chocolate milk is just the the beginning and Jaime Oliver will continue to press the school food suppliers and government commodities to offer fresh, additive free foods for our children.

Illinois Amazon Associates: Your Account is Closed

Anyone who has been following my blog either publicly or privately knows I am fairly new to the blog scene.  I've enjoyed it and have met some fantastic bloggers and incredible writers.  I blog a lot about avoiding certain food additives and wanted to make it easy for other people to find products that have been helpful  and foods that I purchase for my family.  I recently learned about amazon affiliates and saw a potential to endorse certain products and make a small, (very small) commission on any purchases made.  That is the idea of affiliate marketing.  It is an amazing opportunity for bloggers and many do it with great success and ease.  Well, no sooner did I create the links and get it just so on my blog, I find that my account has been closed.  The thing I did not know was Amazon was getting ready to cut ties with all Illinois affiliates and this would all be accomplished by April 15th. 

Sigh...........I guess I'll have to make my millions some other way!  Bye bye amazon affiliates.

For those who use affiliate marketing to make a little extra money, what are some other ways to continue this?

Disclaimer:  I have my adsense ads running.  Is this associated with Amazon too?  For the record, I do not endorse KFC and their menu and have noticed that their ad keeps popping up.  We avoid artificial colors, and other additives and I'm not sure if they have a single item that would qualify.

The rest of this post is the note Amazon is sending or sent to its Illinois affiliates, letting them know that they are now cut off from a source of income.
For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of Illinois residents. Unfortunately, a new state tax law signed by Governor Quinn compels us to terminate this program for Illinois-based participants. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers - including but not limited to those referred by Illinois-based affiliates like you - even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state.
We had opposed this new tax law because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It was supported by national retailing chains, most of which are based outside Illinois, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that its enactment forces this action.
As a result of the new law, contracts with all Illinois affiliates of the Amazon Associates Program will be terminated and those Illinois residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com, Endless.com, or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to April 15, 2011 will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule. Based on your account closure date of April 15, 2011, any final payments will be paid by July 1, 2011.
You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of Illinois. If you are not currently a permanent resident of Illinois, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state after April 15, please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.
To be clear, this development will only impact our ability to continue the Associates Program in Illinois, and will not affect the ability of Illinois residents to purchase online at www.amazon.com from Amazon’s retail business.
We have enjoyed working with you and other Illinois-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to Illinois residents.
The Amazon Associates Team

Chocolate Milk in the Lunch Line

Baby steps.  Our school offers chocolate milk and 2% white milk.  Picture this.
Scene 1: Chocolate milk primarily in sight, a few white milks to the side on the lunch line.  Observed chocolate milk being placed on kids trays automatically.  Some kids even said "no, white please" and the milk would be changed out.
Scene 2: Chocolate milk neatly stacked in a milk crate and a handful of white milks laying in disarray next to it.  White or chocolate asked.
Scene 3:  A large rectangular crate with 2 rows of chocolate milk and 8 rows of white milk lined up.  White or chocolate asked.

This is a true story! Baby steps has changed the way the milks are presented at our school and it only took a little nudging.

How about scene 4:  Only white milk lined up neatly in the crate and chocolate milk taking a back seat prompting students to have to ask for chocolate milk.

There are different kinds of chocolate milk.   Eight ounces of whole chocolate milk contains approximately 210 calories, reduced fat milk contains between 160-170 calories which is nearly as many calories and sugar as a 12-oz. can of Coke and skim milk contains 160 calories approximately per eight ounces.  Encouraging students to consume chocolate milk by placing it front and center at check out is contibuting to a childhood obesity crisis.  Chocolate milk should be meant as a treat.

Calcium and vitamin D are an essential part of our kids daily requirements and milk offers this.  One worry is how many kids in the lunch line simply won't drink milk if we remove the chocolate flavor?   If white milk is the readily available option, I think kids will take it eventually.  The chocolate milk can be available, just not front and center, you know the saying, "Out of sight, out of mind".  This is a good habit we can encourage in early childhood as a whole.  Or, maybe we propose to remove chocolate milk altogether for 4 of the 5 school days and offer it only as a treat on the 5th?  Our school is required to offer 2 beverage choices.  I wonder if the wording says anything about how it should be displayed?

Jaime Oliver is taking a stand against chocolate milk in school lunch programs through his food revolution and new show.  Have you seen it yet?

Easy Dye Free Easter Treat Recipes

Easter is tomorrow and my kids are anticipating dyeing Easter eggs later today, going on an Easter egg hunt to find eggs and special Easter baskets on Sunday.  Later feasting on Easter dinner and the special treats made that are safe for my kids to eat.  These are things that are made without unnecessary added artificial food dyes.  Nothing is worse than a nice celebration to turn into one that is full of aggression, impulsiveness, uncharacteristic behaviors, rage, and all of it followed by low self esteem with a really negative crash.  Hyped up kids is one thing but watching your child dissolve into this picture is completely another.  Thank goodness we realized what was hurting our kids a couple years ago and can now control it by watching what we eat and avoiding petroleum laced fake food.  It has changed our lives. 
I want to share a few easy recipes that we will be enjoying Easter Sunday. 

Organic Carrot Cake Recipe from Healthy Cake Recipes

1 1/2 cups organic sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs (or egg replacer)
2 cups organic flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups organic shredded carrots (about 5 carrots)
1 cup chopped organic walnuts

Mix the sugar and oil. Add the eggs and beat for about a minute. Add everything except the carrots and walnuts and continue mixing. Last, add the veggies and nuts. Bake in a greased baking pan at the temperature of 350 F for about 50 minutes.

You can ice this cake if you wish, but it stands alone well or with a glass of cold or slightly warmed milk. (You can even get organic milk!)

Candy Nests reposted from Mother Nature Network
1 9-ounce bag of organic chocolate chips, Sunspire Fair Trade Organic and Trader Joes also has their own brand.
1 cup (or more or less, depending on your love of coconut) organic coconut
Organic jelly beans, check your local health food stores, Whole Foods or Trader Joes 
1. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler on the stove (or put them in a heatproof measuring cup, and set that in a saucepan filled with some water). Or you can microwave them for a minute or two.
2. Add the coconut to taste, and stir together with the chocolate.
3. Take a cookie sheet and cover it with parchment paper. Using a spoon, put a dollop of chocolate-coconut mixture on the parchment.
4. Add three jelly beans in the middle and press them down … like eggs in a nest.
Put in the fridge until they are “set.
Seedless Frozen Grapes
Take the grapes off their vines, rinse, place in a bowl and place in the freezer for a few hours.  They will last and last and you can take a few out to snack on anytime.  SO yummy!
What is your easiest natural dye free treat recipe?

Earth Day Everyday

What is Earth Day?
Earth Day is observed on April 22 and was started in the United States in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson to create awareness for the Earth's environment and to encourage conservation efforts. In 1990, Earth Day was taken international, and today, more than 500 million people in 175 countries observe Earth Day.

We have been learning how to recycle, reuse, and re purpose the things around us.  Here are a few ideas:
1.  Eat smart.  Know what's in your food and where it comes from.
2.  Use a reusable water bottle like a stainless steel one. 
3.  Take shorter showers.
4. Stop using those plastic bags every store tries to give you.  Instead bring your own bag or box.  Most stores have their own "green" bag for a small price.  Put them right back into your car after you unpack the groceries so you will always be prepared.
5.  Recycle newspapers, magazines, junk mail and other household paper that no longer is useful to you. 
6.  Unplug the iPod chargers when not in use. 
7.  Take old towels and sheets to the local pet shelter.
8.  Support local farmer markets or get involved in a CSA. 
9.  Plant a tree or start a vegetable garden of your own.

10.  What are you doing to celebrate our Earth?

A Whole Foods Dye Free Easter

We were given a gift card for Whole Foods and wanted to use it for the family in a special way so we decided to wait til now and buy a few goodies for the kids Easter baskets.   Whole Foods is one store that has a nice selection of dye free candy and treats.  We found a big bag of lollipops and gummy bear treats that the kids can share with their friends.   We also picked up a dye free Easter egg dye kit!   Looking forward to comparing this kit to my homemade dyes.

We are a Feingold  family and avoid artificial food dye, artificial flavors, preservatives like BHT, MSG, Vanillin (this is a big one for us to avoid) and high fructose corn syrup.  It's not as hard as it might seem but I still do struggle with artificial flavors and preservatives.  If preservatives are used in the packaging, the companies are not required to disclose that. And I am learning about the dangers of GMO's.  This year we will add an itunes gift card, sleep pants and some art and Spring toys to the baskets.  But NO fake grass!

What are you doing for your kids Easter baskets?  Are you making them?  Do you use Easter grass or something else?

Artificial Dye Free Easter Eggs

*Update*  Thank you to Holly for telling me about a dye free Easter egg dye kit.  I found it on Amazon and have listed it under my favorites widget.  It's clickable if you wish to purchase.  LuckyVitamin has the same kit on sale.

Easter is just around the corner and I want to share some easy dye free recipes for my friends who would like to avoid those chemical dye kits sold at the stores.  These kits are super easy to use and very convenient but they are loaded with artificial food dye.  Dyes like red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1.  For many kids even touching these dyes can have negative effects and the dye does leach into the hard boiled egg so you need to know that if you plan on eating them .  When we decided to forgo products with artificial food dye in them, we soon realized it includes these easter egg dye kits. 
Dyeing Easter eggs is a tradition in my home so I had to figure something out.   The colors are not as vibrant as the chemical dye kits are but still as fun, not as messy, (I guess that depends on how you look at it) and there is absolutly no worry about using artificial dyes. 

Here is my list of natural products that can be used to dye Easter eggs this holiday season.  Please share your recipes too!

Pinkish Red - Beet juice and vinegar
Purple Blue - Handful of blueberries
Light Yellow - Dandelions!  If these yellow beauties have sprouted their bright yellow heads in your lawn by Easter time, grab a handful and add some hot water to steep!  Also turmeric will make a pale yellow.
Brown - Coffee or tea
Reddish Orange - Onion skins boiling ( boil the eggs with the onion skin for this effect )
Green - Spinach
Blue - Red Cabbage

Hard boil the eggs and let them cool. For each color, boil 3 cups of water, 2 tsp vinegar and one of the ingredients for 30 minutes.

There are probably dozens of ways to make natural colors and I would love to hear them all!

Chicago School Bans Homemade Lunches

Have you heard about this yet?   A Chicago school banned homemade lunches saying unless the child has a food allergy or some other medical reason that would require him or her to have a special diet, they may not bring a homemade lunch.  The ban has been in place for six years, but an article in the Chicago Tribune has brought the issue up again.
The principal of the school made the decision after she said she saw students eating lunches consisting of soda pop and chips.  While I agree with the principal not liking soda pop and chips as a meal, I do not agree that home lunches should be banned from school.
This is partly about choice and personal responsibility versus government intervention and regulation.   The other side of the coin is where is the benefit when many school lunches served end up in the bin less than 20 minutes later because the kids don't like it. 
I don't think a ban on all school lunches from home should be in place.  I would much rather see a ban on the pop, chips, candy and other junk food.    Making a list of healthy choices for lunches brought to school could be sent home at curriculum night or at the beginning of the school year for parents who wish to send lunch.  Having fresh fruit available for students to purchase for .25 or .50 could help round out their lunches if there parents did not provide a fruit. 

Do you think a school has the right to tell parents they may not pack a lunch for their kids?

Food dye and hyperactivity

Chicago Tribune health reporter Julie Deardorff and panelists Michael Jacobson and Dr. Keith-Thomas Ayoob had an hour long live chat today on food dyes and hyperactivity.  I wish I could have joined in but the transcript is available.  Click Food dye and hyperactivity to read what they talked about.


Please Help Get Food Dyes Out of School Food Programs

This is a message from
Dr. Michael Jacobson of the Center for
Science in the Public Interest:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed common-sense standards to improve school lunches and breakfasts: more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; fat-free and low-fat milk; less salt; fewer unhealthy saturated and trans fats; and moderate calories.

BUT, USDA did nothing to get rid of food dyes, which the Food and Drug Administration acknowledges cause hyperactivity in some children. I hope that you, as a parent concerned about the effect of dyes on children, will send a comment to USDA! Tell USDA that dyes have no place in school breakfasts and lunches.

The deadline for comments is Wednesday, April 13th.

To submit a comment, GO HERE. Copy and edit the sample comment included below, if you wish. Or submit your own comment or your own story. (The form gives you only 20 minutes, so you may want to prepare it first, and then paste it in the form.) Whatever you do, please submit a comment. This is our golden opportunity to get dyes out of school foods in the U.S.

Sample comment to use or edit

We need your help to
get food dyes out of schools!

I thank USDA for its efforts to improve the nutrition quality of school lunches and breakfasts. However, USDA's proposal says nothing about food dyes. As a parent of a child whose behavior is impaired by dyes, I strongly urge USDA to bar the inclusion of any foods containing synthetic dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, and others) in the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program. These neurotoxic chemicals have no place in school cafeterias.

The evidence for an adverse effect of dyes on the behavior of some children is widely recognized. In fact, the British government, on the basis of two major studies that it commissioned, has urged (largely successfully) food manufacturers to switch to safer natural colorings. Subsequently, the European Union required that most dyed foods bear a label warning. And recently the FDA acknowledged at its March 30-31, 2011, advisory committee meeting that dyes (and other food constituents) impair the behavior of some children.

Because dyes harm some children, because dyes serve no health function whatsoever, because synthetic dyes can be replaced by safe natural colorings, and because school meals are consumed exclusively by children, the only responsible action is to bar the inclusion of dyes in school meals.


[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

Avoid Monsanto and Shop Organic Markets

Farmer Markets are starting to open around our neighborhoods and week after week the bounty will grow!   I love heading out to the local farmers market and strolling down the open air streets.  There are more and more booths each week as the season ramps up.  You can check out localharvest for information about farmer markets in your area.  While you're at it, look into CSA's.  This is community supported agriculture.  By joining a CSA, you will be supporting your local farmers and organic properties.

Do you know the name Monsanto?  Who or what are they?  Monsanto is the world's largest supplier of herbicides, bioengineered seeds, and hormones called bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase milk production.  Its primary product is Roundup and it is believed among many that their goal is global dominance of the food supply.  We need to raise awareness of the dangers of this kind of reach.

I will go into more detail about Monsanto and genetically modified foods, (GMO's) in future posts and welcome your comments.    Remember, if the food you are buying is NOT certified organic, there is great probability that it has been genetically modified. 

New iPhone App Fooducate

The new Fooducate iPhone app will change the way you grocery shop.  I know it's going to help me a lot and it's free!
I read every ingredient list on every item I purchase.  I avoid buying food with any artificial food coloring in it, and am 75% successful in trying to avoid artificial flavoring and preservatives like BHT.  Added color is cut and dry for me.  If it's on the ingredient list, it stays on the shelf.  Artificial flavors and preservatives are a little trickier.  With this new ap I can immediately learn about  "alternatives" for products I have questions on.
Fooducate "grades" the products for you and gives you information below each item on why it's good or bad for you.  There is also the alternative tab ( my personal favorite feature ) that will offer you other options within the food category.
Fooducate's iPhone app enables shoppers to automatically scan the bar codes of over 200,000 unique food products, and instantly see how nutritious they really are. Shoppers learn the whole truth, as well as recommendations for healthier alternatives.
I already went through my pantry with iPhone in hand, scanning away.  Next stop, the grocery store and I'm actually looking forward to it!

Lake County Food Revolution

Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution 2nd season picks up again!  This is in light of the news that the superintendent of the LAUSD is offering to recommend to the board to remove flavored milk from schools and seemingly has agreed to work with Jamie, a big turn-around from the 1st two episodes.  Catch it Friday, June 3rd at 9pm ET/8pm CT.

If you’ve missed either of the first two episodes, they will be airing back-to-back on Friday May 27th at 8:00 and 9:00 pm ET (7 and 8 CT) or you can watch them on http://www.abc.com/!
Check your local listings for time.  Central time, it's on at 7:00.  ABC.

My family recently started Lake County Food Revolution in support of Jaime Olivers revolution and healthy eating both at home and at school.  You can find it here .  We invite you to join our page and welcome your comments, recipes, suggestions, etc.  We are located in Northern Illinois but have no boundaries.  Everyone is welcome.

Top Food Films

There has been a lot of media on the food industry recently. These films can't help but make you think about our food sources. I think they are very educational and should be required viewing. Here are short clips of 3 that I have seen.

Check out:
Super Size Me

Food, Inc.

King Corn

What are your favorite food films?

Dominick's Launches Own Brand - Open Nature

If you shop at Dominick's you may be interested to know they are launching their own food brand called Open Nature.  Their tag line is "Nature has nothing to hide, neither should your food".  I couldn't agree more!  I have always been a Jewel shopper, I like how they organize their organic food and I know the layout of the store but I am going to check out Dominick's new line and pricing.  The great thing is more and more natural choices  (no artificial colors, artificial flavors or preservatives ) are coming to the marketplace and as consumers start to realize the sources of the food they purchase, we should see even more!

Now if only we could see Dominicks bakery to include some additive free items too!!

You can read more about Dominick's new Open Nature.

Toxic Agriculture

I recently read this article on news.yahoo
Natural cell to cell crossover has been going on forever but what about chemical crossovers?  What do you think?

Lots of talk these days about the bullying of young boys and girls in school by more aggressive students. This brings to my mind the biggest bully of all: the biotech company, Monsanto Corporation.
Taken in context, Monsanto’s list of corporate crimes should have been enough to pull their corporate charter years ago. And yet we allow them to continue to destroy our food supply, our health and the planet. Monsanto or Monsatan?
Take a look at the company’s track record and decide for yourself.
Agent Orange: Monsanto was the major financial beneficiary of this herbicide used to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam and destroy the health of American troops and their offspring. It also allowed Monsanto and other chemical companies to appeal for and receive protection from veterans seeking damages for their exposure to Agent Orange and any future biotech creations.

Aspartame: As far back as 1994, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report listing 94 health issues caused by aspartame. It has been shown to cause slow but serious damage to the human body and yet it is used extensively in many commercial products.

Saccharin: Studies have shown that saccharin caused cancer in test rats and mice; and in six human studies, including one done by the National Cancer Institute, that consuming artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin and cyclamate, resulted in bladder cancer.

Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH): A genetically modified hormone injected into dairy cows to produce more milk, despite the fact that more milk was needed. The cows suffer excruciating pain due to swollen udders and mastitis. The pus from the infection enters the milk supply requiring more antibiotics to be given to the cows. BST milk may also cause breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer in humans.

RoundUp: The world's most commonly used herbicide and weed killer has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in a study by eminent oncologists Dr. Lennart Hardell and Dr. Mikael Eriksson of Sweden. Used on genetically modified crops resistant to RoundUp's active ingredient glyphosate, environmentalists and health professionals are concerned that far from reducing herbicide use, glyphosate-resistant crops may result in increased residues in food to which consumers will be exposed.

Genetically Modified Crops (GMO): Monsanto created Frankenfoods by gene-splicing corn, cotton, soy, and canola with DNA from a foreign source. Consequently these crops are resistant to massive doses of the herbicide, RoundUp, but in turn herbicide-resistant superweeds are taking over. After running into resistance in the west, Monsanto is pushing GMO crops in third-world countries.
According to physicist, ecologist, and activist Dr. Vandana Shiva, “Syugenta and Monsanto are rushing ahead with the mapping and patenting of the rice genome. If they could, they would own rice and its genes, even though the 200,000 rice varieties that give us diverse traits have been bred and evolved by rice farmers of Asia collectively over millennia. Their claim to inventing rice is a violence against the integrity of biodiversity and life forms; it is a violence against the knowledge of third-world farmers.”
Terminator Seeds: A technology that produces sterile grains unable to germinate, forcing farmers to buy seeds from Monsanto rather than save and reuse the seeds from their harvest. Terminators can cross-pollinate and contaminate local non-sterile crops putting in danger the future seed supply and eventually giving control of the world’s food supply to Monsanto and the GM industry.

Standard American Diet: According to the Organic Consumers Association, “There is a direct correlation between our genetically engineered food supply and the $2 trillion the U.S. spends annually on medical care, namely an epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases.
Instead of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and grass-fed animal products, U.S. factory farms and food processors produce a glut of genetically engineered junk foods that generate heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Low fruit and vegetable consumption is directly costing the United States $56 billion a year in diet-related chronic diseases.”

Walt Disney World Refillable Mugs Now Good for Life / Friday Funnies

Woo Hoo!! For all my Disney friends out there!!

 Walt Disney World Refillable Mugs Now Good for Life

Be sure to read the whole article!

FDA Vote on Food Dyes

Things didn't go as I had hoped yesterday. It is interesting to read how the hearings went. We can still do something today and moving forward and that is stop buying products with added dye. And, certainly the extra media blitz this last week has educated and informed many many people about this. http://www.feingold.org/enews/FDA-Vote.html