2011 —> 2012: A year in review

It’s finally 2012! The year that many have anticipated due to the ending of the Mayan calender.

1/1/2012 …the anniversary of my first Tumblr post of the new year, and last night (12/31/2011) was my Tumblr’s official birthday, which started with a post of a quote that inspired the name “Malleable Reality”.  So for me, this really is a year in review.

I’ve learned a lot over the year & really changed/grew as a person.  As I read over my post from exactly 1 year ago, I realized that I ended my post with my “to-do’s for the 2011 year:

- “Learn more about the things I’m interested in.”

- “Continue to take more steps to living a healthier life.

I was happy to read those two things & realized that I accomplished those things to the best of my ability within the year.  I’ve made a ton of changes in my lifestyle and learned a plethora of valuable information, some of it in which I shared here (via Tumblr) throughout the year.  These posts included: Buying organic produce, skin cancer, disease branding, toxic chemicals in our everyday lives, more chemicals in our lives, toxins in our skin care, the dangers of teflon, BPA levels in canned foods, chemicals in baby shampoo, the dangers of water fluoridation, birth control pills, the FDA and arsenic in your chicken, the secret ingredient in your store bought meat, the food revolution, and introduced a Back to Basics series which included posts on some of the changes I’ve made throughout the year that helped me to lead a better/healthier lifestyle.  You can view all of my posts posted within this last year here.

With that said and last year behind us, my plan for 2012 is to continue to learn and grow as a person, and hopefully continue with the changes I’ve made, and make even more changes for this year.  My “to-do” list for this year is pretty much the same as last year.  To continue improving and building on the things I’ve already done.  2011 was a great year for me.  I still have plenty of more information that I’ve learned and continue to learn that I have yet to post in a blog.  I will continue posting Back to Basics posts and updating everyone on my lifestyle changes & the “how to’s” and recipes, as much as I can.  However, this year, the Back to Basics posts will be moved to SUNDAYS, rather than Fridays.  

Back to Basics posts every Sunday for 2012, starting this week!

Back to Basics: On a Quest to Eating Traditionally…

I’ve previously posted an introduction to my new venture in life: eating traditionally (video included).  Today’s Back to Basics post is in regards to some of the changes that I’ve made so far in my quest for a healthier lifestyle. Most of the changes I’ve made are small things here & there, removing some ingredients used & replacing them with healthier, less processed & unrefined choices.  All of these things are simple steps to take in order to begin traditional eating.  Most importantly, remember:  Any positive change (big or small) is better than none at all.

Here are some of the things I switched out over time:

  • Conventional fruit & vegetables to organic.  As much as possible.
  • Pasteurized milk to raw (unpasteurized) milk. Raw milk must be grass-fed/fresh from a farm.
  • Anything white to anything in it’s whole (unrefined/less processed) form. This includes white flour -> whole wheat flour, white rice -> whole grain rice, white bread -> whole grain bread, white sugar -> sucanat/or other natural sweeteners. (I did switch to Sugar in the Raw before I realized even that wasn’t sugar in it’s purest form…just marketing at it’s finest).
  • Conventional, store bought (factory farmed) dairy to grass-fed/pastured only dairy. Including:   Eggs, Butter, and Cream.
  • Store bought (factory farmed) meats & eggs to local/farm meats & eggs.  
  • Prepackaged/processed snacks/foods to made from scratch foods.
  • Vegetable Oils (rancid) to healthy oils.  Corn, canola, & soy oils are oils that I never buy, no longer cook with, & always look for in the ingredients lists of any packaged foods that I might still buy (such as bread, mayo, ketchup, salad dressings — If/when I don’t make my own).  These oils are replaced with coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil.
  • Regular/processed Apple Cider Vinegar to Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Regular/processed honey to raw honey.
  • Table salt (iodized) to Sea Salt.
  • Improperly prepared grains to traditionally (properly) prepared grains.  With anything I make from scratch with grains, I make sure to properly prepare the grains first.  I’ve also been switching from regular whole grain store bought breads & bagels -> only traditionally prepared (sprouted) whole grain breads & bagels.
  • Store bought items with High Fructose Corn Syrup to items with only natural sugars.  This includes pantry items that have High Fructose Corn Syrup as a main ingredient, such as: Jelly (Grape) -> natural/organic grape jelly.
  • Pam cooking/baking sprays (oil in a can) to oil in a Misto oil sprayer.  The mistro sprayer allows you to use any oil that you want, without the use of toxic chemicals and propellants in the can.
  • Canned vegetables to fresh or frozen (organic).

Items I added to the pantry & shopping lists that I never used to use before:

  • Grade B Maple Syrup (not grade A!)
  • Fermented Cod liver oil
  • Butter oil
  • Liquid Whey (homemade only)
  • Arrowroot powder
  • 100% Cacao (REAL cocoa)
  • Molasses (Blackstrap) 
  • Fine & coarse sea salt (including pink Himalayan sea salt)
  • Aloe Vera juice/liquid
  • Fish sauce
  • Coconut oil (organic, extra-virgin, unrefined)
  • Rapadura/Sucanat (whole cane sugar - unrefined/unbleached)
  • Raw honey
  • Raw apple cider vinegar

That’s all I can think of for now! Hopefully this helps give some insight on how I have been transitioning to more traditional eating habits.

For the upcoming weeks Back to Basics posts, I will go into detail of how some of these ingredients can be used and why they are important to have in your pantry/diet.  I will also post recipes in the future, as well as products that I’ve invested in & how I made the switch from using less processed/packaged foods and condiments, and more homemade/from scratch items.

Lately I’ve been finding more and more ways to convert my lifestyle to incorporate more all-natural & traditional ways of eating (and living)! I’m on my way to becoming a “real foodie” — taking baby steps, of course.  But any improvement is better than no improvement at all, and I’ve already come a long way! (More on this in next week’s Back to Basics post)

This video was released just in time for this week’s Back to Basics segment & I thought it’d be the PERFECT way to explain to everyone what direction I’m moving towards and how/why.

In this video, you’re introduced to Sarah of thehealthyhomeeconomist.com. Reading her blog is what initially made me become interested in a traditional/real foods lifestyle.  I learned SO much from reading her blog, as well as other blogs & sources from the world of real foods.  Everything I learned made perfect sense to me.  And although I question everything, this one was a no brainer.  There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be living how our ancestors did years ago. I already had this mind-set anyway, even before I knew about the community of people who live/eat traditionally.  (Remember, before I was interested in the food aspect of it, I already eliminated the use of store bought skin care products & cleaning products by using all natural products that I made myself.  Also, I already started going No ‘Poo way before I was reading into real foods!)  — It all fell into place with what I’ve been trying to do myself this entire time.

Although I’ve been trying to post informational posts for my Back to Basics posts lately, these next few B2B posts will be going in the direction of what I’m doing, specifically, to go Back to Basics and eat and live more traditionally (without the processed, chemical-filled junk).  I’ll use this weeks video post as a preview and overview of what’s to come.

Back to Basics: Why RAW MILK is better for you (a summarized explanation)

Due to Wednesday’s SWAT team raid of Rawsome, the seller of raw milk in California, this week’s Back to Basics post will be in regards to raw (unpasteurized) milk, and why it is better for you than conventional/pasteurized milk that all of us buy at the grocery store.  And yes, raw milk actually goes back to basics  — our ancestors drank only raw, unpasteurized milk at one point…actually, for years!

In my quest for a healthier lifestyle, I’ve been introduced to “real foods”/”traditional foods” — the concept of eating truly healthy and nutrient dense foods, healthy fats & oils, and leaving refined sugars and processed foods out of the picture.  (I’ll save the details of other Real Foods in future Back to Basics posts).  To begin, however, I’ll focus on nutrient dense Raw Milk  (also known as: “Real Milk”).

Pasteurized milk was once raw milk that was heated to such a high degree that it kills off all of the “harmful” bacteria…meanwhile, it also completely destroys all of the GOOD bacteria (that our stomachs love & thrive of off), and kills all of the nutrients that raw milk is filled with. Raw milk only becomes a problem when the cows are not raised properly (producing unhealthy cows) or when the milk is mishandled.  With healthy, pastured cows, the beneficial bacteria in raw milk flourishes. Raw milk from grass-fed, free roaming cows is safe (when handled properly), whereas raw milk from factory farmed, confined, feed-lot fed cows is not.  Pastured cows eat a natural diet of foods that they are supposed to eat/food that they would eat in nature.  Given their natural diet, pastured cows have a balanced pH in their stomachs which becomes present in their milk supply. 

The milk that is sold in conventional grocery stores mostly comes from factory farms where cows get practically no sunlight, are shoved into small stalls where there movement is limited, and they stand on concrete filled with their own feces. They do not get to roam around on pasture like they are supposed to, and definitely are not fed a good, natural diet that they are supposed to be fed. Also, from living in the conditions that they are forced to live in, the cows often become sick and are given antibiotics to allow them to keep producing milk.  THIS kind of milk MUST be pasteurized because of how disgustingly MESSED up the milk is to begin with (filled with pus from udder infections, etc). A healthy cow, who is pastured, is allowed to roam around in natural sunlight, and eat a healthy diet since they eat the grass that they live on (how nature intended cows to live & eat).  These healthy, happy cows produce healthy, nutrient dense milk filled with beneficial bacteria, minerals, and enzymes.

Of course, there’s a very small risk in drinking raw milk (as with any food, really), but the risk here has been proven to be so small that you’d have a greater chance of getting sick or some kind of disease from mishandled meats, or other foods (think of the E.coli outbreak with that bagged spinach, or any other food recalls you can think of) — it can happen with anything, any time (people even get sick from pasteurized milk!)   So you take a risk with everything you eat.  What’s important is to do the research and make informed decisions, weighing out the pros & cons.  To me, it seems that the small risk involved with consuming raw milk is worth it, considering that it’s better for you and the cows the milk comes from are HEALTHY cows.  After looking into it, processed, antibiotic filled pasteurized milk seems pointless even. Adding chemicals and killing off all of the nutrients…what’s the point of drinking it?

In any situation, raw milk should be purchased only from a trusted farm/farmer.  It is important to find out their animal-raising methods and how their milk is obtained and handled. At some farms, farmers go above and beyond to make sure their raw milk is safe for consumption by performing extra tests on their milk supply.  Of course, people with compromised immune systems should be extra careful and stay away from anything unpasteurized (in my opinion, unless the issue is properly researched).

I’ll post more info on “real food” diets in future Back to Basics posts (to document & share everything I’m learning/doing to lead a healthier lifestyle). Meanwhile, do your research & support local & organic farming whenever you can! (I’m trying, and transitioning!)  Feel free to message/ask any questions you have  :)

"Clorox Comes Clean: Company discloses all ingredients in all products"

Great news!  Clorox (finally) actually lists all of the ingredients for each of their products, under various brand names.  It’s a part of them trying to be corporately responsible, and it’s a big step up for a company like Clorox.  By law, companies are not required to disclose the specifics when it comes to the ingredients list.  And no, labels are not regulated.  So, I must give a big “good job!” to Clorox for releasing their ingredients for each product.   You can check out all of the products and ingredients here:  http://www.cloroxcsr.com/ingredients-inside/ (that’s their official website)

However, if you take a look at their “Green Works" brand — it’s definitely not an ALL NATURAL cleaner.  Don’t let labels fool you!

For a simple (and safe!) way to make your own all natural cleaning products, check out my Back to Basics post from earlier this week!

Food Revolution

I’m sad that Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (TV show on ABC) is over, but what Jamie did is just the start of the food revolution throughout America… (I hope, and so far it seems!)

Jamie Oliver is a British Chef who strives to eliminate the processed, unhealthy foods we eat on a daily basis.  He started by campaigning for British school children to have healthier foods available to them while at school.  After being successful with the British school meals, Jamie moved onto the everyday people in England.  Jamie Oliver had a television show in England called “Jamie’s Ministry of Food” which allowed him to inspire people to cook fresh, healthy foods for daily meals. 

In 2009, Jamie came to the U.S. and introduced a television show called “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” with the goal to change the way American’s eat.  Jamie strives to change the eating habits of every day people.  Unhealthy fast food and processed slop for school lunches are two of the things Jamie is passionately trying to eliminate from the lives of Americans.  Having fresh, nutritious lunches in our schools is extremely important.  As Jamie says, your child is in school from (approx) 4 - 18 years old. That’s a lot of years in the beginning stages of their lives to continuously eat pre-packaged, processed food filled with tons of sugar, high sodium, and the very least amount of nutrients.

Jamie continuously proves his point using creative tactics to catch people’s attention and leave an impression. In an episode of Season 2 of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Jamie tries to convince a single father of two that his family’s daily fast food habits are unhealthy and not cost effective.  To do this, Jamie fills the family’s living room with fast food — as much fast food as they eat in one year.  The father is disgusted by what he’s been feeding his kids, and he admits to wanting change, but claims that fast food is convenient, and that he simply can’t cook.  Jamie fixed that.  He showed the kid’s father how easy it is to cook a fresh, healthy meal in 30 minutes. He did this by first teaching the kids how to cook a meal for their father, while their father went out to grab fast food for the family of three.  The purpose of this was to compare how long it took to prepare a fresh meal vs. how long it takes to grab fast food.  Jamie also did a price comparison, per person, between both meals.  The results?  It took the father longer to go get fast food and bring it home, while spending more money per person.  The kid’s cooked a healthy meal at home, using fresh ingredients, and it was ready to eat before their father returned.  This also proved that cooking fresh at home was more cost effective than eating fast food meals.

Jamie’s right.  It’s not hard to cook in order to stay away from unhealthy foods.  Even if you think you don’t know how — learn! You’ll be surprised how easy it is to put something healthy together and create a delicious meal. There are tons of recipes available on the internet. If you can read and follow directions, you can cook.  And no excuses if you’re more of a visual person, there’s YouTube for that.  The step-by-step “how to” videos couldn’t make it any easier.

Fresh food is always the way to go. Ya know, you are what you eat.  This mindset should extend into school lunches as well. Check out Jamie’s website here and make sure to sign the petition to support Jamie’s Food Revolution and remove unhealthy lunches from schools around America: 
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution - U.S. Foundation

Join the 706,168 people who already have.

You will also find some great links to the facts about school lunches, films and books to become better informed about the food you eat, news updates, other school food campaigns going on right now, food blogs, and Jamie’s own recipes.

Leading a Healthier Lifestyle

Today I started a small workout routine for the first time in a very long time.  Not because I think I need to lose weight or because I’m unhappy with anything at all, but because I feel the need to continue to increase the healthy things I do in life.  Over the last 6 months I’ve taken numerous steps to live a healthier lifestyle overall.  I started by using more all natural products on a daily basis, switched to no shampoo, became even more obsessed with my oral health, began eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, ate smaller meat portions, and limited processed foods (more on these lifestyle changes later).  I also watch out for hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup when I’m grocery shopping, and stopped drinking soda years ago.  These changes are obviously beneficial in their own ways, but a healthy lifestyle also requires staying physically fit.  Regular exercise helps to keep muscles and joints intact, as well as increases heart health, provides clarity, and most importantly to me — a healthier spine & better posture (neck & back pain is no fun).

A couple of years ago a massage therapist told me that I could cure the pain in my back and work the slight curvature out of my spine by getting into a workout or yoga routine.  Ever since then I’ve wanted to develop some sort of workout routine, but never had the time or motivation to (specifically since I was living an extremely unhealthy lifestyle, anyway).  However, now that I’ve been adding healthy changes to my daily life, I feel that there’s no better time to commit to a routine than now.  Nothing major, just a simple routine to keep me physically fit.  Well, I should say to “get into shape” — considering I am extremely out of shape at the moment.  Being more in shape is just as important as eating healthier foods, or any of the other ways I decide to try to have a healthier lifestyle. 

I would also like to eventually incorporate yoga into my workout routine (or switch between yoga and a workout) because the benefits of yoga, in my opinion, are greater than the benefits of a workout alone.  Again, this isn’t something that I’ve never thought about before.  I’ve been interested in yoga and it’s benefits for a while and even have a yoga dvd & mat.  Maybe I’ll put those to use sometime soon, but like everything else, I’m taking it one step at a time.  Starting with a workout routine is enough for me for now.