Follow me at Gilded Sight!

Hi all! I’ve been MIA from this blog for a while now and have decided to re-brand and start fresh. As many of you have been loyal followers since May 2011 when Avventura began, I wanted to pass along the info for my new blog!

Gilded Sight

Please come follow me here if you’re interested in Discovering the world, Devouring delicious food and drink, and Developing yourself. Gilded Sight is more tightly focused on my key interests and I think you all with enjoy it very much. I’ve carried over some of my travels and will be spending a bit of time over the next few weeks with posts in Iceland, Finland, D.C., and Spain.

Thank you all for being a part of Avventura! I hope to see you all on the other side at Gilded Sight.

Why do we refrigerate our eggs?

I’ve recently started purchasing fresh farms eggs from a farm in Warwick, NY right down the road from my horses stable. They sell these eggs washed or unwashed. When she first asked me this I wondered why on earth I would want to buy dirty, unwashed eggs. After coming across this article, I no longer by washed, but simply wash before using. I’m still in process of mentally preparing myself to switch to no refrigeration. This article is very interesting and will change your perspective on eggs and American standards. Click the link below to be taken to the original article. All text and images below are courtesy of io9. 

Americans – why do you keep refrigerating your eggs?

Americans – why do you keep refrigerating your eggs?

The U.S. is one of the only countries on Earth that keeps chicken eggs in cold storage. But why?

One of the most common health risks, when it comes to eggs, is posed by Salmonella bacteria. There are really only two ways Salmonella can get at an egg: the first is to contaminate the egg externally, on the surface of its outer shell. The second is to spread from the inside. The former occurs after the egg has been laid, most commonly by coming into contact with feces containing Salmonella bacteria. The latter can occur if the egg develops in the reproductive tract of a Salmonella-infected hen.

Research has shown that Salmonella-infected eggs stored at room temperature for periods longer than three weeks tend to become overrun by bacteria in numbers far greater than those stored at colder temperatures. Given this insight, you might assume that Americans store their eggs in the fridge to extend their shelf life, or to lower the risk of bacterial contamination, and you’d be right on both counts.

But then, maybe the question should really be posed the other way around: Given the sanitary benefits of refrigeration, why don’t other countries ship, package, and store their eggs at cold temperatures, like we do in the U.S.? Well, because, unlike America, they may not actually needto. Why? Because here in America, we wash our eggs – and while it may sound counterintuitive, the cleaning process may actually make eggs more susceptible to contamination.

Americans – why do you keep refrigerating your eggs?SEXPAND

We mentioned above that eggs run the risk of getting feces on them. Whether that feces contains traces of Salmonella or not, it stands to reason that if an egg gets poop on it, you should wash it off. And, in America, that’s exactly what we do. In an elaborate automated process involving in-line conveyor belts, massive egg-scrubbing machinery, high-volume air-filtration systems and – last but not least – chlorine misters, American eggs are washed, rinsed, dried, and sanitized in an effort to remove as much dirt, poop and bacteria as possible, all while leaving the shells intact. (Read the details in the USDA’s Egg-Grading Manual.)

Or rather, almost intact. When a hen lays an egg, she coats it in a layer of liquid called the cuticle. It dries in just a few minutes, and is incredibly effective at protecting the egg from contamination, providing what European egg marketing regulations describe as “an effective barrier to bacterial ingress with an array of antimicrobial properties.” America’s egg-washing systems strip eggs of this natural protection. “Such damage,” the EU guidelines note, “may favour trans-shell contamination with bacteria and moisture loss and thereby increase the risk to consumers, particularly if subsequent drying and storage conditions are not optimal.”

Washing eggs is therefore illegal throughout much of Europe. In an interview with Forbes,Chief Executive of Britain’s Egg Industry Council Mark Williams gives another reason for the ban on industrial egg-cleaning facilities:

In Europe, the understanding is that [prohibiting the washing and cleaning of eggs] actually encourages good husbandry on farms. It’s in the farmers’ best interests then to produce the cleanest eggs possible, as no one is going to buy their eggs if they’re dirty.

Okay, fine – but then why not just refrigerate the eggs, anyway? Wouldn’t this just give unwashed eggs an extra line of defense? Perhaps, but the European Union laws again note that – like washing – refrigeration could actually wind up posing a risk to consumers. Again according to European egg marketing regulations, eggs that are stored cold and later left out at room temperatures could become covered in condensation, “facilitating the growth of bacteria on the shell and probably their ingression into the egg.” EU guidelines therefore stipulate that eggs should be transported and stored at as constant a temperature as possible – a temperature between 66.2 °F and 69.8°F in the winter and between 69.8°F and 73.4°F in the summer.

The other reason Americans tend to refrigerate their eggs: our risk of Salmonella poisoning is often significantly higher than it is overseas, because our chickens are more likely to carry it. In the UK, for instance, it is required by law that all hens be immunized against Salmonella. This protection measure, enacted in the late 1990s, has seen Salmonella cases in Britain drop from 14,771 reported cases in 1997 to just 581 cases in 2009.

There is no such law in the United States, and while more farmers are electing to immunize their hens in the wake of a massive Salmonella-related recall in 2010Salmonella infection remains a serious public health issue. Even in spite of our egg-washing and our refrigeration habits, FDA data indicates there are close to 150,000 illnesses reported every year due to eggs contaminated by Salmonella.

Baked Onion Rings

Onion rings are my guilty pleasure. Especially with big, sweet vidalia onions and a delicious beer batter crunch. This baked recipe from Vegetarian Time is delicious!! I’ve also swapped out the plain bread crumbs for panko bread crumbs, absolutely delicious! Also try adding some seasoning. I really love red pepper flakes and cumin. Play around and enjoy these onion rings almost guilt free! The following images and text are courtesy of Vegetarian Times. Enjoy! 

Baked Onion Rings

Baked Onion Rings

Serves 4

Nutritional Information

Per Serving (6 onion rings):

  • Calories: 321
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Total Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: <1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 60 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 650 mg
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Sugar: 15 g
Crunchy on the outside, tender and sweet on the inside, these battered and baked onion rings have a fraction of the calories of their deep-fried cousins.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. salt, divided
  • ¾ cup tonic water
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 2 medium sweet onions, cut into ½-inch-thick slices

1. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Whisk together flour and 1/2 tsp. salt in bowl. Whisk in tonic water, adding more, if necessary, to make pancake-like batter.

2. Combine breadcrumbs, oil, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt in shallow bowl.

3. Separate onions into rings. Dip each onion ring into batter, shaking off excess, then dip into breadcrumbs, coating completely. Place on prepared baking sheet, then place baking sheet in freezer 20 minutes to set batter on rings.

4. Preheat oven to 450°F. Bake onion rings 7 to 10 minutes, or until they begin to brown on bottoms. Flip, and bake 7 to 10 minutes more, or until golden. Season with salt, if desired.

Bourbon Balls

Yum! Etsy can do know wrong when it comes to their Eatsy recipes. This is another little wonder, simple and delicious! Enjoy! The following images and text are courtesy of Etsy.

Eatsy: Bourbon Balls

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goodsPhoto by Kimberley Hasselbrink

continentaldrift

My mother does not like it when I adapt her recipes, but I am a rule-breaker where recipes are concerned. So when I called to ask about bourbon balls, those funny-tasting holiday treats that I vaguely recalled her making when I was young, I warned her that I would undoubtedly fuss with her recipe.

They were, and are, more of a grown-up thing — that intensely boozy flavor wasn’t so appealing as a kid. But now? That strong aroma of bourbon, coupled with a hint of chocolate and the vaguely gingerbready flavors of gingersnaps — well, it tastes like the embodiment of Christmas festivity. They’re wonderfully nostalgic — the kind of thing you might expect at a Mad Men holiday party, but very of the moment now that bourbon is so well-loved again. Their simplicity makes them welcome in this busiest of months.

Bourbon Balls

1 1/2 cups crushed ginger snap or vanilla wafer cookies (tip: use Mi-Del ginger snaps to make it gluten free)
1 cup pecans (or walnuts)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup bourbon (or rum)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons honey

Pulse the pecans in the bowl of a food processor until they are coarsely ground. Add the crushed ginger snaps, along with the confectioner’s sugar, bourbon, cocoa powder and honey. Pulse until the ingredients are combined. Place in a bowl.

Chill until thoroughly cooled in the refrigerator, about two hours. (You can expedite this by chilling in the freezer for about 45 minutes.)

Remove the dough from the fridge. Using a teaspoon as a measure, roll out small balls with your hands, about one inch in size. Toss to coat in a bowl of powdered sugar.

Store in the fridge for up to a week.

All photos by Kimberley Hasselbrink

Kimberley Hasselbrink is a food photographer and blogger based in San Francisco. She is the author of the blog The Year in Food, which is framed around a monthly seasonal food guide. Kimberley enjoys unusual produce, strong coffee, road trips and summer nights.

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Etsy does it again! Another delicious and unique recipe from the bloggers at Etsy. All text and images are courtesy of Etsy. Enjoy! 

Eatsy: Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Photo by Kimberley Hasselbrink

continentaldrift

Two Octobers ago, I hosted a party centered around a theme: each guest would bring a dish that they prepared, and each dish had to include pumpkin. The only thing that wasn’t allowed was pumpkin pie. Savory was encouraged, but not mandatory. Nobody knew what to expect of the evening, including myself. Some guests worried that dishes would be repeated, some doubted their cooking abilities.

But you know what? It was one of the most amazing parties that I’ve ever hosted. Everybody rose to the challenge, everybody participated and nobody knew what the scope of the dishes would be. There was so much surprise: pumpkin arepas, pumpkin chutney, pumpkin curry, pumpkin arancini, pumpkin succotash. Not one dish disappointed.

One of my favorites from the evening was my friend Jacquelyn’s pumpkin seed brittle. It is the perfect homemade candy and its magic, addictive powers will carry you through any social event. You can employ any kind of nuts that you fancy and endless spice combinations. I love when a recipe’s power comes in the transformation of the simplest ingredients: melted butter, caramelized sugar and a handful of nuts join forces to create a crunchy, salty, sweet and spicy candy. Other than frequent stirring and a watchful eye on the candy thermometer, it’s remarkably simple.

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Yield: About 6-8 servings

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas; feel free to use any tree nut you’d prefer)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Candy thermometer

(For the Pistachio Sesame brittle, use 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and 3/4 cup pistachios.)

Grease a 9×12 baking sheet with butter and set aside.

In a small, heavy-bottomed pot over a medium low flame, melt the butter with the cinnamon, chile powder, ginger and sea salt. Add the sugar and stir thoroughly. Continue to stir sugar almost constantly to prevent burning. When the temperature of the mixture reaches 280 degrees, add the nuts. Continue stirring almost constantly.

The sugar will slowly begin to clump and melt. Keep stirring! At 300 degrees, remove from heat and quicky stir in the baking powder.

Working quickly, pour the brittle onto the greased baking pan, spreading with a spatula. Let stand until thoroughly cooled and hardened. (You can expedite this by putting it into the fridge.)

Finished! Pumpkin seed brittle.

Kimberley Hasselbrink is a food photographer and blogger based in San Francisco. She is the author of the blog The Year in Food, which is framed around a monthly seasonal food guide. Kimberley enjoys unusual produce, strong coffee, road trips and summer nights.

Secrets Of The Extremely Fit

Take a look at this for some pretty helpful ideas on bettering your lifestyle and improving your health! Some of these seem obvious, but are you actually incorporating them into your lifestyle? This is written for men in mind, but this applies to you as well ladies! Enjoy! 

The following text and pictures are courtesy of Huffpost Healthy Living. See the article in its entirety here

Secrets Of The Extremely Fit

fitness secrets
By Andrew Heffernan, C.S.C.S. for Men’s Health

There’s no way around it: To gain muscle and lose flab, you have to pay the iron price. And sweat buckets. And rethink your grocery list. But the ultimate cost (in time, especially) depends on what you know. In our never-ending quest to help you get in the best shape of your life, we tapped the country’s top fitness minds and combed through cutting-edge research to find the 25 most effective ways to reveal the stronger, leaner person inside you. In short, we’re about to fast-track your fitness.

More From Men’s Health:
The Men’s Health Workout Center
The Fitness Rules Winners Follow
20 Ways to Stick to Your Workout

1. Rethink Your Nutrient Intake
The traditional food pyramid — which the White House unveiled as a plate-shaped pie chart in 2011 — is heavy on refined carbs and light on protein and fats. So it doesn’t meet the nutritional needs of active men who want to build muscle and burn fat, saysMen’s Health nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, M.S. That’s why he created the “food tower” — it provides the ideal balance of muscle-building foods and flab-defying nutrients. Use it as the basis for your daily diet.

2. Load Up On Green Energy
green vegetables“When athletes start eating more vegetables, they don’t fatigue as easily,” says Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., cofounder of Cressey Performance in Massachusetts. “It’s common to see them setting personal records in the weight room within a few weeks.” His favorite trick: Throw a handful of spinach into a blender and combine with 2 cups almond milk, some frozen berries, rolled oats, chia seeds or flaxseeds, and a scoop of protein powder. You won’t even taste the greens.

3. Get More Vitamin D
A dearth of D can lead to impaired athletic performance, according to a recent review published in the journal Nutrients. Other research shows that men with higher levels of vitamin D tend to have stronger muscles than those with low levels. Odds are that you fall into the latter group; in fact, no less than 77 percent of people in the United States are deficient in vitamin D, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Your goal: 600 IU a day.

4. Spread Out Your Protein
This much is obvious from the food tower: To build muscle, you need more protein. But men who divide their daily protein among six smaller meals instead of three larger ones build muscle faster, say scientists at Skidmore College. “Try to eat 100 grams [more than half of your recommended intake] by lunch,” says Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., owner of Results Fitness in California. Three eggs for breakfast, a midmorning shake, and grilled chicken and Greek yogurt for lunch will do the trick.

5. Find Your Whey 
whey protein shakeDifferent types of protein work better at different times. In the morning, go with whey, which can help control cravings all day, report scientists in the Journal of Nutrition. “Whey is also best pre-workout because it digests quickly,” says Nick Tumminello, C.P.T., owner of Performance University. Postworkout, use casein, which burns slowly to provide a steady stream of protein. Forty grams before bed can also boost overnight muscle growth by 23 percent, say Dutch researchers.

6. Work Your Entire Body, Every Time
When it comes to building strength, how often you work a muscle is just as important as how hard you work it, according to research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. “You need about 10 to 15 sets per muscle group per week to see results,” Tumminello says. Shoot for three total-body workouts a week; during each one, complete 3 to 5 sets per muscle group.

7. Lift Something Weird
Most of the objects you lift in everyday life — shopping bags, overstuffed suitcases, toddlers — aren’t as conveniently sized as dumbbells and barbells. To build strength that translates beyond the gym, incorporate sandbags, kettlebells, fat-grip barbells, and other odd-shaped training tools into your workouts, says Anthony DiLuglio, founder of artofstrength.com. Can’t find such oddities in your gym? Wrap towels around a chinup bar to make it tougher to grip.

8. Master The Pullup
pullup“The pullup targets more muscles than any other upper-body exercise,” says MMA strength coach Chad Waterbury, M.S. And because it’s typically done with body weight, it’s also an indicator of relative strength (how strong you are for your height and weight). “The benchmark is 15 in a row,” Waterbury says. If you can’t do that many, work your way up. “Do 1 set of max pullups each morning and evening for three days; take the fourth day off,” he says. “Repeat the sequence until you hit 15 reps.”

9. Move More Weight (Right Now)

  • Bend the Bar: When you bench-press, try to bend the ends of the bar away from you as you press it up. “You’ll fire more muscles in your upper back, creating a more stable platform on the bench,” says Wil Fleming, C.S.C.S., owner of Force Fitness and Performance.
  • Spread the Floor: As you squat, press outward against the floor with your feet (but don’t actually move them). “You’ll feel your glutes activate, which will boost your power,” says Fleming.

10. Train Your Core The Right Way
Ditch crunches and situps. “Moves like those create motion around your spine — precisely what your core is designed to resist,” says Waterbury To build a chiseled,functional six-pack, do anti-rotation exercises like the single-arm wall push. Assume a pushup position facing a wall with your hands 2 feet from the baseboard. Place your right hand on the wall and push for a slow 3-count. Repeat with your left hand. Do 10 reps per side. Too easy? Do a pushup between reps.

Head over to Men’s Health for the full list.

Amazing Ways to Spike Hot Cocoa

The best things about winter are not comfy sweaters and crisp white snow, or Santa Claus and holiday cheer. It all comes down to the best cup of hot cocoa and what to spike it with to warm you all the way down to your toes. Every once in a while I’ll pop on BuzzFeed at work and check out the latest to amuse myself. Today I spotted the best article yet. Follow text and images are courtesy of BuzzFeed.

15 Amazing Ways To Spike Hot Chocolate

AKA how to live life like a GOD.

1. Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate

Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate

(White chocolate, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie liqueur)

Level of Boozy: Forgetting a lyric to Bette Midler’s solo song in Hocus Pocus.

Recipe here.

2. Mint Hot Chocolate

Mint Hot Chocolate

(Hot chocolate, tequila, and peppermint schnapps)

Level of Boozy: NOT drunk dialing that guy because you’re at an entirely different adult sleepover.

Recipe here.

3. Nutella Hot Chocolate

Nutella Hot Chocolate

(Hot chocolate, brandy, and Frangelico)

Level of Boozy: Silently listing of all the foods that are enhanced with Nutella in your head and feeling overwhelmed and a smidge anxious.

Recipe here.

4. El Dorado Hot Chocolate

El Dorado Hot Chocolate

(Hot chocolate, rum, and cinnamon liqueur)

Level of Boozy: Insisting everyone watches The Road to El Dorado immediately, because nostalgia.

Recipe here.

5. Oaxaca Chaka Cocktail

Oaxaca Chaka Cocktail

(Hot chocolate, cinnamon, and tequila)

Level of Boozy: Tearing up over the Breaking Bad finale, again.

Recipe here.

6. Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Red Wine Hot Chocolate

(Bittersweet hot chocolate and red wine)

Level of Boozy: Two words: Couch coma.

Recipe here.

7. Hot Chocolate Martini

Hot Chocolate Martini

(Hot chocolate, vanilla vodka, and Bailey’s)

Level of Boozy: Politely arguing over whether or not Carrie’s voiceover in Sex and the City adds or detracts from the show.

Recipe here.

8. Hot Mint Chocolate Toddy

Hot Mint Chocolate Toddy

(Hot chocolate, Kahlua, and peppermint schnapps)

Level of Boozy: Taking 20 minutes to decide on an Instagram filter.

Recipe here.

9. Frozen Hot Chocolate Margarita

Frozen Hot Chocolate Margarita

(Frozen hot chocolate, tequila, Kahlua, and Grand Marnier)

Level of Boozy: Making a matching chocolate burrito at 3 a.m.

Recipe here.

10. Orange Hot Chocolate

Orange Hot Chocolate

(Hot chocolate, Pisco, and Grand Marnier)

Level of Boozy: Stealing a laptop to show everyone your photos from your study abroad trip in Peru and how you drank Pisco aaaaalll the tiiiiime.

Recipe here.

11. Coconut White Hot Chocolate

Coconut White Hot Chocolate

(White hot chocolate, coconut rum)

Level of Boozy: Looking up flights for spring break even though it’s October.

Recipe here.

12. Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

(Hot chocolate, homemade peppermint schnapps)

Level of Boozy: Breaking out your “Premature Holiday” playlist on Spotify.

Recipe here.

13. “Grown Up” Hot Chocolate

"Grown Up" Hot Chocolate

(Hot chocolate, marshmallow vodka, and homemade Bailey’s marshmallows)

Level of Boozy: Staring into the bottom of the cup and not talking to anyone because the best thing that’s ever happened to you is gone.

Recipe here.

14. Bacon and Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

Bacon and Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

(Hot chocolate, bacon, bourbon, and Frangelico)

Level of Boozy: Reevaluating your entire life because it never occurred to you that bacon strips could double as stirring spoons.

Recipe here.

15. Irish Hot Chocolate

Irish Hot Chocolate

(Hot chocolate, Guinness, whiskey, and Bailey’s)

Level of Boozy: Truly and inexplicably falling in love with a warm beverage, and not caring who knows.

Recipe here.

8 Foods Experts Won’t Eat

The following article is courtesy of Eat Local Grown. See article here. While we know these foods aren’t the best for us, some of the reasons may surprise you. Eat right and stay healthy! 

8 FOODS EVEN THE EXPERTS WON’T EAT

Author

We asked them a simple question: “What foods do you avoid? Experts from different areas of specialty explain why they won’t eat these eight foods. Food scientists are shedding light on items loaded with toxins and chemicals. The experts offer some simple swaps for a cleaner diet and supersized health.

Food scientists are shedding light on items loaded with toxins and chemicals–and simple swaps for a cleaner diet and supersized health. Experts from different areas of specialty explain why they won’t eat these eight foods.

Clean eating means choosing fruits, vegetables, and meats that are raised, grown, and sold with minimal processing. Often they’re organic, and rarely (if ever) should they contain additives. But in some cases, the methods of today’s food producers are neither clean nor sustainable. The result is damage to our health, the environment, or both. So we decided to take a fresh look at food through the eyes of the people who spend their lives uncovering what’s safe–or not–to eat. ” Their answers don’t necessarily make up a “banned foods” list. But reaching for the suggested alternatives might bring you better health–and peace of mind.

1. The Endocrinologist Won’t Eat: Canned Tomatoes

Fredrick Vom Saal, is an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A.

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi. Exposure to BPA Causes Permanent Damage In OffSpring

2. The Farmer Won’t Eat: Corn-Fed Beef

Joel Salatin is co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming.The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. But more money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.

The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.

3. The Toxicologist Won’t Eat: Microwave Popcorn

Olga Naidenko, is a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group.

The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize–and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

The solution: Pop organic kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix. Make it organic and use coconut oil. If You’re Still Eating Microwave Popcorn, You’re Not Fully Grasping The Health Consequences

4. The Farm Director Won’t Eat: Nonorganic Potatoes

Jeffrey Moyer is the chair of the National Organic Standards Board.

The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes–the nation’s most popular vegetable–they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”

The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh. Budget tip: Organic potatoes are only $1 to $2 a pound, slightly more expensive than conventional spuds.

5. The Fisheries Expert Won’t Eat: Farmed Salmon

Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, published a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.

The problem: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. “You could eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. “It’s that bad.” Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon. Farmed Fish vs. Wild Fish: How Healthy
Is The Fish At Your Favorite Grocery?

6. The Cancer Researcher Won’t Drink: Milk Produced With Artificial Hormones

Rick North is project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society.

The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says North. “There’s not 100 percent proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,” admits North. “However, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”

The solution: Buy raw milk or check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products. Why Do Humans Still Drink Milk?

7. The Biotech Specialist Who Won’t Eat Conventional Soy: GMO Unfermented Soy

Michael Harris is biotech specialist who has directed several projects within the biotech sector including those forgenetically engineered food. He has been a consultant, manager and director for companies such as Xenon Pharmaceuticals and Genon Corporation.

The problem: Genetically engineered food is a cause of great concern due to the manipulation of DNA and genetic code including transfers from one species to another. Fermented Soy Is The Only Soy Food Fit for Human Consumption and since almost 90% of soy in the world is genetically modified, if you are not ensuring sources are organic, long-term health problems are inevitable, especially since soy has been found to affect hormonal balance and even cause cancer.

The solution: Check labels to ensure soy is Non-GMO or organic and never consume unfermented sources. If possible contact the company to find out exactly where the Non-GMO soy was obtained.

8. The Organic-Foods Expert Won’t Eat: Conventional Apples

Mark Kastel, a former executive for agribusiness, is codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods.

The problem: If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson’s disease.

The solution:Buy organic apples or apples from a farmer that you trust!

Nine Foods That Lower Blood Pressure

The following text and images are courtesy of Natural News. See the article in full here

Nine foods that lower blood pressure

Friday, April 19, 2013 by: PF Louis

blood

(NaturalNews) High blood pressure (BP) or hypertension is considered a high risk factor for heart attacks and strokes as well as kidney failure. Many have high BP, but most don’t know as it doesn’t usually have its own symptoms.

Blood pressure readings are in two sets of numbers. The top number, systolic pressure, indicates pressure on the artery walls when the heart beats. The lower number, diastolic pressure, shows the pressure on artery walls between heart beats.

A normal reading is 120/80. Above those numbers up to 140/90 is considered pre-hypertension while above 140/90 is hypertension. But people with normal health in the pre-hypertension zone are not considered at risk for strokes, heart, or kidney failure.

Those who are overweight or diabetic are more at risk with higher than normal BP. Over half of the high BP population is diabetic. Men are more likely to have high BP, and those who smoke and drink alcohol excessively are more likely to have high BP.

Pharmaceutical medications with decongestants, NSAIDs (non-steroid ant-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen, steroids, birth control pills, and antidepressants are likely to raise blood pressure. Mainstream medicine considers salt/sodium consumption as a main factor of high BP.

But processed and fast foods account for over 80 percent of the sodium intake using toxic processed salt, mixed with other health damaging additives such as HFCS and trans-fatty acid oils, which are more responsible for causing high blood pressure than pure, unprocessed sea salt.

Foods that can help reduce high blood pressure

(1) Cayenne is in chili peppers. Using those with food is good for reducing blood pressure, even though it may not feel that way.

Herbal masters Dr. Christopher and Dr. Schulz recommend taking a teaspoon of at least 40,000 heat units of cayenne pepper powder mixed in water two times daily to support complete heart health and more.

(2) Hibiscus or Jamaica (hu-my-ca) tea on ice is well known as a refreshing beverage in the Caribbean islands, South America, and Mexico. It has been clinically proven to lower high BP. You can dowse the flame out of your mouth from cayenne with a Jamaica iced tea and double the benefits.

Dried hibiscus flower petals are used to make the tea. Some health food stores may have them. Stores specializing in Hispanic foods most likely will. Or you can order them online.

To prepare: Simply cover the bottom of a large pan thickly with the petals, then pour hot (not boiling) water over them. Cover and let it steep for a half hour. Strain while pouring into a glass container then refrigerate and use when desired.

(3) A Louisville medical center study found that snacking on raisins three times daily could reduce BP among those in a prehypertension group. Amazingly, they even used processed food snacks containing raisins. [2]

(4) The American Heart Association has discovered through research that eating three kiwis a day reduces BP.

(5) The American Chemical Society claims purple root vegetables, such as purple potatoes, have chemical properties that reduce BP.

(6) A Florida State University study found that watermelon lowers BP. In addition to watermelon’s potassium contribution, they found a specific amino acid that contributes to lowering BP. [2]

(7) Speaking of potassium, don’t forget to eat bananas. The Harvard Medical School reported a UK study that determined foods containing potassium nitrate were even better than supplements using potassium chloride for lowering BP.

(8) Hawthorne berries have both herbalists and mainstream medicos agreeing on its blood pressure lowering ability. Its tea has been a Chinese household heart tonic for centuries. If you can’t find a Chinese food specialty store, go online or use Hawthorne extract supplements. Details here (http://www.naturalnews.com/035685_hawthorn_berries_heart_health.html).

(9) We can’t forget chocolate, can we? It should be organic and dark or bittersweet without milk and with very little sugar. Yes, it has been researched; there are compounds in cacao that dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure (http://www.naturalnews.com).

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/039994_foods_lower_blood_pressure_hypertension.html#ixzz2SFUVGOTw

Homemade Pie Crust

Pie crust is one of those things that seems simple, but to get that delicious flaky crust is surprisingly difficult. Often it comes out chewy and tough. Etsy posted a recipe for homemade pie crust that I tried out last night and it is amazing! I highly recommend this one!

Eatsy: How to Make Homemade Pie Crust

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

acozykitchen

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge summer-lover. I flourish wearing cozy sweaters, curling up with a cup of tea, and cuddling with my pup when it’s cold out. But seeing as seasons change with no regard to my preferences (how dare they!), I’ve decided to be super-excited about putting summer’s delicious fruit to good use and baking up my favorite pies.

If you’ve never made your own pie crust before, it does have its challenges, but the extra effort is definitely worth it. There is much debate as to what fat one should use: shortening, lard, butter or a combination. My personal preference is good quality butter; it yields a flaky crust with a delicious, well, buttery flavor that works ridiculously well when paired with tart, sweet fruit.

What you’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen
3/4 cups very cold water, divided

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Start by mixing all of the dry ingredients together: all-purpose flour, sugar and salt. If you’re making a savory pie (meat hand pies, anyone?), I’d recommend leaving out the sugar and upping the salt to 1 teaspoon.

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Next — and this is my favorite part — use a box grater to shred in the frozen butter. The end goal is to get pea-sized pieces of butter. This helps get you there sooner without over-handling the butter and flour.

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Using your hands, quickly break up the butter into smaller bits and be sure it’s thoroughly distributed throughout the flour mixture. Create a well in the center and pour in 1/2 cup of cold water (no ice cubes!).

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Mix using your hands or a wooden spoon. You’ll notice at this point that the mixture will be shaggy; add a tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture comes together.

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Liberally flour your work surface and knead the dough a few times just until it comes together. Be sure not to over-knead; that will result in a tough crust.

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Form the dough into a disc and divide it in two.

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Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and transfer it to the fridge for 1 hour or up to 1 week.

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Chilling the dough in the refrigerator is important because it does three things:

  • It gives the gluten a chance to relax.
  • It allows moisture to evenly redistribute throughout the dough.
  • The buttery bits re-chill, making the little fat pockets which ultimately create a flakey crust.

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When the dough is done chilling, liberally flour your work surface and your rolling pin. Using your rolling pin, press the dough down and move it from the center outward.

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Next, lift the dough up off your work surface and rotate it a quarter-turn. Continue to roll, lift and rotate a few times, being sure to flour your work surface and rolling pin as needed.

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Since most pie tins are 8″ or 9″ in diameter, roll the pie dough into a 12-inch circle. You could measure it if you have a trusty ruler handy, or you could just eye-ball it by flipping your pie tin and hovering it over the rolled out pie crust.

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To transfer the pie crust, use your rolling pin to wrap it around and lay it over the pie tin.

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Gently press it into the pan.

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Use a sharp paring knife to trim any excess pie crust.

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To crimp the edges, use your thumb as a place holder to keep the inner edge of the pie crust in place. Use your opposite hand’s thumb and index finger and form the crust around the thumb, creating the classic v-shaped crimped edge. Repeat this process until the entire pie crust has those pretty crimped edges all the way around.

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If there are any holes or rough spots that need a little love, patch up any holes or rough looking areas in the pie crust with the scraps. Score the bottom of the pie crust using a fork and transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes. This will ensure the pie crust doesn’t shrink when it hits the hot oven. While the pie crust is in the freezer, preheat your oven to 400˚ Fahrenheit.

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If your recipe calls for a par-baked pie crust, start by brushing the edges with egg wash. Line the pie crust with foil or parchment paper and then fill it with beans, rice or metal pie weights. If you’re making a pie with stone fruit or apples, usually you don’t need to par-bake the crust.

Roll out the second disc of dough and use it as a pie topping. Brush the entire pie with egg wash, sprinkle it with turbinado sugar and bake according to your recipe’s instructions.

Happy pie baking!

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Homemade Pie Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen
3/4 cups very cold water, divided

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly, and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they’re evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas. Add 1/2 cup of water and mix. The mixture will be shaggy at this point. From here, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together. I ended up adding about 5 more tablespoons of water, equaling to 3/4 cup. Flour your counter and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times more until it comes together and divide the dough, forming two discs. Wrap both discs in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour or overnight.

2. Remove one of the discs of dough from the refrigerator. Liberally flour your work surface and rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking, to a 14-inch round. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it over the pie tin. Gently fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pie tin. Trim the dough around the pie tin and using your thumb and forefinger, crimp the rim of the crust into a v-shape. Transfer the pie crust to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. Roll out the second disc of dough and use as you like, whether it’s as a top to your pie, decorated cut-outs or an elaborate pie trim.

All photos by Adrianna Adarme.

Adrianna Adarme is a recipe blogger and content producer living in Los Angeles. She writes the blog A Cozy Kitchen, where she shares comforting, easy, everyday recipes from her kitchen.