Birke Reports – Don’t Let Cooking Oils Fool You

Thank you for following along with my travels on Facebook… I’ll be back soon, but in the meantime I have a special guest post from one of the most inspirational people I met this year – 13 year old – local food and organic farming advocate – Birke Baehr. If this is the first time you are learning about Birke – you’ve got to check out his TED Talk and his new book “Birke On the Farm” – especially if you have kids. I am super proud to call him one of my friends and who knows he might just become a regular around here…so watch out, he’s a firecracker!

First of all, I’d like to thank Food Babe for inviting me to be a guest on her blog, I’m very excited! We have been talking about working together and I really like hearing about her ideas and recent adventures.

I’d like to start by sharing with you a certain line of products that have popped up in my local “healthy” supermarket. The day after Christmas I was shopping and noticed a large display in the middle of the aisle. Spectrum, a well known brand of organic oils and cooking products has introduced some new products. My family has bought Spectrum coconut oil and some of their other organic oils because they have such an extensive line of organic products. But, what caught my eye that day was this whole new line of products they have introduced. They’re canola oil blends and it seems that they have mixed non-organic canola oil with coconut, peanut, and olive oil just to name a few.


Now for those of you who don’t know canola oil is…

“It is widely recognized as the healthiest salad and cooking oil available to consumers.” (But it is not!) It was developed through hybridization of rapeseed. Rapeseed oil is toxic because it contains significant amounts of a poisonous substance called erucic acid. Although canola oil contains only trace amounts of erucic acid it is also one of the top 4 genetically modified crops. You can read more about the history of canola and how it is a big con here.

Spectrum is owned by Hain-Celestial Group; which probably has the largest conglomerate of well known organic brands such as: Arrowhead Mills, Celestial Seasonings, Rice, Soy, and Almond Dream, and the Garden of Eatin’ just to name a few. In 1999 the H.J. Heinz Corporation bought 19.5% of the company but then sold their stock in 2005.
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The Healthiest Protein Powders On the Market

Years ago, I started adding a very delicious vanilla whey protein to my smoothies that I got from GNC. I was religious about using this one brand, and when they suddenly discontinued it, I became outraged!  I called every GNC in town searching high and low for it. It was the best tasting whey protein on the market and I didn’t want to go on a hunt for another kind. Well… long story short, I got to the botttom of why they discontinued it – the health department found rat droppings in samples of the protein at the manufacturing plant! WHAT. I’d been drinking rat droppings for all those years? @#$%&%&*^%^$$!

Needless to say, I have never looked at protein powders the same again. I research the heck out of them before I ever consider putting them in my body.

The key to finding a high quality protein powder is figuring out the right questions to ask…. Is it organic and free of pesticides? Is it GMO free? How is it processed? Does the processing retain it’s nutritional quality, vitamins and minerals? Does it contain artificial or refined sugars? Do they have heavy metals?

Yes…I said heavy metals. Consumer Reports conducted an eye-opening investigation that revealed that several popular highly processed protein powders like Myoplex, Muscle Milk, Designer Whey and GNC brand all contained arsenic, cadmium, and lead. Yikes.
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Food Babe’s Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

These are all the things that make my life complete or that I’m wishing to magically appear under my tree this holiday season…Between the 40 or so items on this healthy holiday gift guide, I hope you can find something to give your loved one or selfishly ask for yourself this holiday season.

I’ve included all the online shopping links and prices to date, to make the craziness of buying presents a little easier… Happy shopping!

Kitchen Gifts

  1. Slow Juicer (from $299) - Juice is medicine, plain and simple. This may be the most powerful and rewarding gift you could give yourself or a loved one. Drinking green juice will awaken you to health, vitality and wellness. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without juice and will certainty thank the person who bought you the juicer until the end of day. Slow Juicers are the best home juicers on the market. They are quiet, easy to clean and preserve nutrients and enzymes much longer than centrifuge juicers. The pulp comes out almost completely dry and will save you money down the road in produce cost making this type of juicer worth every penny of the investment.
  2. MOMA Colorful Rings Cutting Board ($25) – The MOMA Store is a great place to find a whimsical inexpensive kitchen gifts – especially this colorful round cutting board that I recently got a friend.
  3. The Green Pan (Starting at $79.00) – This pan is a must for any healthy kitchen. It is non stick but isn’t coated with toxic teflon and can help you reduce the amount of oil you use in your cooking dramatically – I stir fry things almost dry using only a 1/2 teaspoon of oil or vegetable broth without anything sticking. It’s completely safe and eco-friendly. I have both the Wok and Crepe Pan.
  4. Lemon Juicer ($27) – Teaching someone about detoxing first thing in the morning will be a lot more fun if you give them this gift. I love this lemon juicer because it is stainless steel, isn’t made of plastic or painted with potential harmful chemicals that can leach into your water or food. Hot Water with Lemon in the morning will be an easy ritual with this!
  5. Glass Straws ($31.50 for set) – This gift will be perfect for your favorite eco-friendly smoothie drinking friend or family member. The more plastics you can eliminate in someone’s life the better! These ones have a wide hole for easy slurping thick green smoothies.
  6. Clear Bowl for Kitchen Aid Mixer ($69) – I’ve been eyeing this bowl for a while now – Why all Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers don’t come with this – I just can’t understand. This bowl makes a nice gift upgrade for someone who already owns a stand mixer and uses it a lot.
  7. Bodum Storage Jars (Starting at $8) – Storing your juice, Hari Shakes or other green smoothies is easy thanks to air tight Bodum Jars. Having these jars are a real luxury, making it a perfect gift. I discovered these jars long ago when I received a wedding gift from my cousin in Louisiana. She filled each jar with the dry ingredients to a cookie recipe. I personally like to fill these jars with homemade trail mix or organic butterscotch and cinnamon candies from Yummy Earth and wrap the outside with a ribbon.

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WATCH: Food Babe & Birke Baehr Speak To Youth About Obesity, GMOs & Real Food

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of finally connecting with one of my favorite food heroes – Birke Baehr. We’d been talking for months over the blog and Facebook – but finally we had the chance to meet over dinner at one of my favorite restaurants – Halcyon. Not only did we have a fantastic meal together (and a lot of laughs about me not willing to take his $5 dollar bet to eat pig ears), but we also had an incredible opportunity to give a keynote address to some young adults who are helping their communities fight the epidemic of obesity at the Southern Obesity Conference.

Hope you enjoy the candidness of our talk…You can bet, Birke and I will be teaming up again…

If this is the first time you are learning about Birke – you’ve got to check out his TED Talk and his new book “Birke On the Farm” – especially if you have kids. What an amazing young man he is!
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