Archive for May, 2009

My Story – Why I Made a Lifestyle Switch to Traditional Foods

This is the story of the life I spent eating processed foods and paying little attention to my health and body. I was always a small-boned, petite person. It seemed as though I could just go on forever, eating whatever I wanted. After all, my parents were small people, had no visible health problems, and my metabolism worked overtime which made it difficult to gain weight. What could I possibly have to worry about?

When I was a child, my mother served rice or pasta about once a week for dinner – usually spaghetti with meat sauce or fried rice with meat and vegetables. Our meals were a standard fare of “meat and potatoes” with a good variety of fresh vegetables cooked with oil and real butter. I’m sure my mother used vegetable oil, although I do remember her using olive oil sometimes. Although meats and dairy were a part of our diet at home, I’m sure much of it was processed and full of chemicals. Factory farms were definitely around when I was a child. I would not have known then that eating whole foods was rapidly becoming despised and villan-ized, because processed and packaged foods were starting to take their place at the head of the dinner table in most households, and would do so more and more in the years to come. Read the rest of this entry »

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Solar Water Heaters – An Introduction to Solar

The idea of solar power is nothing new. When most people think of solar they imagine a costly and exotic set of solar panels. At around $15,000 (including professional installation) for a family of four, a modern, and efficient photovoltaic (PV) system is similar in cost to an inexpensive car. But as your vehicle sits in the driveway depreciating, your solar panels will continue to deliver cost savings, long after the car is worthless.

If the idea of  PV solar still seems a bit costly but you’re still interested in going solar – at 1/3 the cost of a PV system – a fantastic introduction to solar savings is to consider a solar water heater.

Consider this: your traditional electric water heater consumes approximately 25 percent of your overall power usage, making it the most expensive appliance you own. Natural gas is a bit more efficient, but with the continuing rise in utility prices, this will dramatically change in the coming years.

At about $5,000 for a professionally installed solar water heater for a family of four, you can reduce your electric bill by around 22 percent, or significantly cut the cost of your gas bill – year round!

A 30 percent tax credit is available through the federal government. So let’s say you purchased a 5K system, you would receive a $1500 tax credit on your federal income tax. In Idaho there is a 40 percent tax deduction the first year, and for the subsequent three years following that you would receive 20 percent deduction.

For incentives in your area go to the to the DSIRE website.

It is important to know that if federal and local government would provide bigger incentives for innovators and installers – such as what people are already doing in Spain and Germany – the United States could lead the world in technology jobs, and solar systems would be much more affordable. With the enormous emphasis on alternative energy sources, the government needs to place more financial support into this important investment. Now’s the time to contact your local legislature reps and national senators and start putting on the pressure to make these incentives a priority! Get involved locally as well and learn how you can impact your neighboring communities by influencing builders, contractors, and government officials to place their money where their mouths are and go green by going solar.

Looking into getting a solar water heater installed in your home right now is a great cost saving idea, and we can look to the near future for PV to become more and more affordable. A January report from USA Today announced that prices for solar equipment, including installation, would be on the decrease by 15 to 20 percent in 2009. Costs decreased around ten percent in October of 2008.  The combination of high worldwide manufacturing capacity for solar equipment and the ongoing recession are credited for this occurrence.

Check back soon on this site for more articles about the benefits of solar energy. Save money and the environment – go solar!

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Is Reactive Medicine Cheaper than Prevention?

Photo credit – Michelle Lanter

Are you in the habit of eating poorly and then taking medications regularly when you become sick? If so, you may want to consider what you spend on medications, insurance premiums, and low-quality food versus preventative care and good quality food. In the long run, preventative care can save you thousands of dollars in prescription drugs and trips to the doctor and hospital. And it can certainly afford you a much better quality of life and avoid suffering, pain, and misery.

As one example, if you went to the doctor and received a prescription for Levaquin, without insurance you would spend approximately $161.00 for ten pills. This medication is used for illnesses such as sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. If you are insured, you are still required to pay a monthly insurance premium to offset the cost of prescription drugs – which will vary according to your plan. Depending on your insurance plan, you will receive certain “benefits” and reductions of those costs. Insurance premiums are only slated to increase over time.

The bottom line is, you are still paying a hefty sum for prescription drugs which may or may not make you well. In general, prescription drugs (at best) will remedy symptoms for a short period of time – but over a longer course of time the problem often remains unchanged and then you have other issues that are caused by the drugs such as side-effects (both short and long term), nutrient depletion, and the fact that what is causing your health issue has not been addressed.

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Saving Money on Your Organic Life

Who says organic isn’t affordable? Would you like to save money on organic products you buy? There are various merchants who provide online coupons for these healthy foods. Here are just a few:

    Here are some other ways to save money on organic:

    • Look for store brands featuring organic items. Many stores are now featuring an in-house brand or off-brands which are more economical such as Whole Foods 365 line, S&W, Private Selection, O Organics, and Eating Right. Be sure to notice which of these products are actually healthy to consume, as many products are labeled organic but are still processed and contain sugar or are artificially high in carbohydrates. Look for the Natural Value brand, a line found in most health food stores which offers economically-priced organic products.
    • Shop locally and seasonally as well. These foods are always cheaper, fresher, and more nutritious. Check this list of fruits and vegetables that are in season, month-by-month.
    • If there are good organic brands you like, go to their web sites and check frequently for coupons and special offers. Sign up for newsletters to get on the brands’ list for coupons and special offers. Also, if you contact the company to make a suggestion or ask a question, many companies will send coupons to you in the mail.
    • Don’t buy processed foods; buy fresh, whole food ingredients
    • Keep your eye open for sales
    • Be willing to substitute one thing for another if the item is cheaper (don’t skimp on quality though)
    • Shop at your local farmer’s market.
    • Join a co-op or CSA. These groups provide benefits and extras to their members.
    • Grow your own in a home or community garden.

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    Strawberry-Frosted Coconut Flour Cupcakes

    I made these cupcakes on Valentine’s Day this year for my son and his friends. The results were fantastic and everyone loved them.

    It was the first time I had baked with coconut flour, and I realized how many possibilities there were from this wonderful, nutritious substance.

    Ingredients:

    1/2 cup of organic coconut flour, sifted (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

    1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    1/4 teaspoon of aluminum-free baking soda

    6 pasture-raised eggs

    1/2 cup of real butter or organic, extra-virgin coconut oil (raw is a plus!)

    1/2 cup of Lakanto

    1 tablespoon of real vanilla extract

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Combine coconut flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl and set aside
    3. Mix eggs, butter, Lakanto, and vanilla in a smaller bowl
    4. Mix wet ingredients into the dry. Use a mixer to blend until you have a smooth consistency
    5. Pour batter into muffin tins – grease with butter or use muffin cups
    6. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes
    7. Allow cupcakes to cool for about 20 minutes, then spread strawberry frosting on top

    Strawberry frosting:

    1/2 cup frozen organic strawberries (feel free to use fresh…when I made this recipe it was still the dead of winter here, so no fresh were available)

    3 tablespoons of Lakanto (depending on your preference, you can add more or less)

    1/2 cup of real, organic butter

    I let the strawberries thaw out for an hour or so on the counter, then chopped them up into small chunks and set them aside in a bowl. Then I melted the butter in a pan, then added the Lakanto sugar (I did this to taste because one recipe I read advised adding 1/2 cup and that seemed like way too much). I stirred the Lakanto continuously with a wooden spoon until it melted. You can add more butter if you want your frosting to be really creamy. Then I poured the butter/Lakanto mixture into the bowl with the strawberries and mixed together by hand, then got out the mixer and blended it all until it was smoother (you’ll still have small chunks of strawberries, which is fine) and more like the consistency of whipped cream.

    This makes 12 – 14 cupcakes (depending on how much batter you spoon into each muffin cup).

    Then I let the kids spoon the frosting onto the cupcakes and decorate with raw, unsweetened coconut and some gluten-free sprinkles I had from the store. The frosting will be a bit runny, but it is soooo good! You could also use other fruits if desired such as blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries.


    As you can see, the kids were all smiles.

    The final product was  a smash…Betty Crocker, eat your heart out!

    This post is linked to in Kelly The Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival.

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