The Truth About Peanut Butter

The next time you go near a jar of store-bought peanut butter, take a look at the ingredients list...

Chances are it will say something like: "Peanuts, Vegetable Oil...."

Now, hang on a minute.

Vegetable Oil?

Peanuts are rich in natural oils, why would they need to add vegetable oil?

Hmmmm. Lets MAY have something to do with extracting the peanut oil and selling it off elsewhere for higher profit margins, and then substituting it for some cheap (and nasty) vegetable oil, in the peanut butter.

Not only does it make good financial sense to the manufacturer, but vegetable oils that have been hydrogenated have better spreadability, allows a longer shelf life, and the oils don't separate.

(I'm assuming the vegetable oil has been hydrogenated, at least partially. Natural vegetable oil is liquid at room temperature, not solid.)

If you see a jar of natural peanut butter, you will notice that the oils naturally separate and there is a layer of oil on the top. Don't let this turn you off. This layer of oil is easily stirred into the spread.

You can find these at good health food stores or whole food markets. They should contain no other ingredient, except  peanuts. (If allergies are not an issue, experiment with some of the other nut spreads. Cashew, almond, hazelnut and brazil nut spreads are all delicious.)

Several months ago, I quietly changed over from brand-name peanut butter to natural peanut butter.

My five year old still hasn't noticed...

Make Your Own: Mock Ice-Cream

This recipe is super quick, super easy, and goes down a treat for kids and adults alike...without the sugar overload of commercial ice-creams.

You need:

400g natural unflavoured yoghurt
400g frozen berries, such as blueberries, raspberries or mixed berries
Stevia or Xylitol

Defrost berries for a couple of moments. Put yoghurt and berries and stevia/xylitol in a bowl. (I use a mixture of the two - roughly 1/4 tsp of stevia, and roughly 1 tsp of xylitol. The berries act as a natural sweetener so you don't need a lot.)

Blend well (I use a stick blender), then serve and enjoy!!

This recipe has been slightly amended from one that I found in the book Smart Food for Smart Kids: Easy Recipes to Boost Your Child's Health and IQ

My next project is to experiment with other flavours such as banana with cinnamon or mango with macadamia nuts. (Drool...)

Date and Almond Balls

Since blitzing through our diet earlier this year, and cleaning out the pantry of all nasties, our go-to snacks have been either fruit, or toasted sourdough bread with nut spread (ground cashews, or almonds etc).

But a couple of times per week, I like to make up something for a sugar-free "treat". In the beginning I made pikelets constantly (using a small amount of honey to sweeten), because I couldn't figure out what else to make.

Thankfully my repertoire has expanded somewhat since then, and I'm always on the lookout for healthy snacks that are easy to make.

Recently I saw Date and Almond Rolls at the market, but they were $12 for 400g, and I figured I could work out how to make them myself. And I did. I was rather cautious at first, because I'm not overly fond of dates (the food variety at least!), but I was pleasantly surprised, and my 5-year-old loved them.

The following recipe will make approx 20 - 25 small balls about 2cm in diameter.

You will need:

200g of almond meal (ground almonds)
350g of finely chopped dates
Coconut, to roll the balls in. (Preferably coconut without Sulphur Dioxide on it)

Mix almond meal and dates in a bowl. Add some water (about 5 - 10 tbsp) until it is moist and sticky. With wet hands, shape into balls and roll in coconut.

You can start eating straight away if you want, but the taste seems to deepen if you refridgerate them for an hour or so before eating.

Oh, McHappy Day®...

Because today is the day that Aussies flock to McDonalds to buy a Big Mac in the name of helping sick kids, I decided to do some poking around to find out what ingredients are in the famous Big Mac burger.

I mean, surely it can't be that bad? After all, McDonalds are only too keen to remind us that it's made from 100% beef, with a bit of salt and pepper added.

But wait 'til you hear what's in the bun, and the sauce. That bit certainly hasn't been publicised.

The bun has 26 ingredients, and includes bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, ethoxylated monoglycerides, calcium propionate, sodium propionate, partially hydrogenated soybean oil (high in trans fats), and calcium peroxide.

If you are eating a Big Mac in America, your bun also contains azodicarbonamide (lucky you...), which is an additive already banned in the European Union, Australia, and the U.K.

The sauce has 32 ingredients, and it includes some more high fructose corn syrup, some more sugar, polysorbate 80 (can cause anaphalaxis, and caused infertility in animal studies), vegetable protein (which is a nice name for MSG), calcium disodium EDTA, sodium benzoate, caramel colour, and propylene glycol alginate.

And would you like fries with that???

Just when you thought fries consisted of potatoes, oil and salt...

Here's what you can expect in McDonald's fries: Potatoes, vegetable oil (a mix of canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor (more MSG), and citric acid), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate, salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent (Apparently to make it safer for workers).

And then if you have a Coke, here's what else you're subjecting yourself to: Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup (again), caramel color (again), phosphoric acid, natural flavors (WHAT natural flavours, though?), and caffeine.

Today, McDonald's aimed to raise $2.8 million for Ronald McDonald House charities, which supports sick kids and their families.

Perhaps McDonalds could prove their commitment to kids and their families by cleaning up the ingredients in their foods.

I'm just sayin'....

In Sickness and in Wealth...

, The following two companies are practically household names. But the vast majority of their customers are completely unaware that they've quietly got their fingers in a few different pies, and making a nice income out of it too, thank you very much.

1.) Eli Lilly are fairly well known for producing pharmaceutical drugs.

What many people don't know, is that Eli Lilly also sells rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), which is a growth hormone injected into cattle to increase milk production. It is marketed under the name Posilac, and has been banned in Japan, Canada, Australia, and the European Union, but is still sold in many other parts of the world.

They acquired it from bio-tech giant, Monsanto in 2008, even though they knew that Monsanto's own studies showed cows treated with  rBGH produced milk with high levels of hormones linked to cancer.

I guess Eli Lilly isn't too concerned by this.

Because they also sell cancer drugs, such as Gemzar. In fact, their anti-cancer drugs raked in a handsome $2.6 billion in 2008.

Cows treated with rBGH also suffer more bouts of mastitis.

Never mind. Eli Lilly have that covered. They also sell antibiotics to treat mastitis.

If this information offends your sensibilities at all, please consider joining the Stop Milking Cancer campaign, run by Breast Cancer Action.

2.) And how about Johnson & Johnson...the family company. (Or should that be family OF companies?).

They are well-known for producing baby bath products like talcum powder, shampoos, lotions, and body washes for our little ones.

Now, lets take a closer look at one of their products, Johnson's Baby Bath Milk...         

It has the following ingredients, in the following order:

"Water, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG-150 Distearate, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Sodium Laureth-13 Carboxylate, Acrylates Copolymer, Tetrasodium EDTA, PEG-45M, Citric Acid, Hydrolyzed Milk Protein, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance"

Out of the above ingredients, 4 are known to be allergens or skin irritants, 3 have not been safety-tested for use in cosmetics, 3 caused cancer in animal studies, and 2 showed reproductive effects on animals, even at low doses.

But don't worry, because when your baby gets dry itchy skin, or suffers allergy symptoms, Johnson & Johnson will be only too happy to sell you some cortisone cream, some allergy medication, and if - God forbid - they were ever diagnosed with cancer, Johnson & Johnson will be able to supply some expensive oncology drugs.

That's right. Did you realise that Johnson & Johnson are also a pharmaceutical company, selling over-the-counter medications, as well as prescription medications?

Interesting, don't you think?

Is it possible that these companies are getting rich by causing the problem, and then providing the "solution" to the problem???
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