In the early 1970s, Dr. Benjamin Feingold, then chief emeritus of the Department of Allergy at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital and Permanente Medical Group in San Francisco, reported a link between diet and several physical and allergic conditions. Thirty to 50 percent of Feingold's hyperactive patients said they benefited from diets free of artificial colorings and flavorings, and certain natural chemicals called salicylates which are found in apples, berries, tomatoes, and other foods.
The Feingold Diet is based on the premise that allergic reactions or sensitivities to certain types of foods cause or contribute to ADD/ADHD symptoms, such as problems with:
- Behavior (marked hyperactivity, impulsive and compulsive actions, emotional concerns)
- Learning (short attention span, neuro-muscular difficulties, cognitive and perceptual disturbances)
- Health (physical complaints and/or sleep problems)
Most chocolate chips contain it. Most store bought chocolate cake contain it, (many contain Red 40 too!). Candy bars contain it and lots of other sweet foods have it too. The chocolate and ice cream industry together make up 75% of the market for Vanillin flavoring. Vanillin is also used in the fragrance industry to add hints of vanilla to perfumes, the wine business to smooth the flavor of wines, the pharmaceutical industry to neutralize foul tasting medications, and in the process of chromatography where it is used as an all purpose stain.
Today, a small amount of synthetic vanillin is made from with lignin wastes, a by-product of the paper/wood pulp industries. However, most of the synthetic vanillin is made from guaiacol, which is a petrochemical precursor.
Petrochemicals are important...for my car, for my plastic lawn chairs, maybe even for something I wear, but I do not want to be ingesting petrochemicals. I prefer the real thing, pure vanilla to add flavor.
Read the ingredient label. If you see Vanillin, put it back. Look for pure vanilla.
This year I'm making several batches for holiday gifts!
Vanilla beans - 9 You can use less or more.
1.75 liter of Vodka or try Rum
You can make the vanilla right in the liqueur bottle. Keep it in a cool dark place but handy because everything settles at the bottom and you will want to give it a shake every few days. The vanilla will soon take on a darker color.
If you want to make small separate batches, use 1 cup liqueur to 3 vanilla beans. Make sure your jar is clean and has a tight fitting cap.
Using a sharp knife, slice the beans open lengthwise to expose the seeds. Put the beans in the bottle. The mixture will get darker and darker over time.
You can start using your extract by the end of the eighth week. After you have used say 20% of the extract -- top it off with more liquor (preferably of the same type) and shake again. A tip--drop the beans in with the stem (hooked end) up. That way, if you need vanilla seeds in a recipe, you can use a little piece of wire with a hook on the end, to 'catch' one of the beans to remove it from the vodka.
Get yourself some dark or amber colored bottles and make some cute labels. Pour your homemade vanilla into the bottles, cap, slap a label on and you have the perfect gift! You can also leave some of the vanilla bean in the bottle and all your recipient needs to do is top off to keep the gift going indefinitely!