Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Ah, Love Oil

glass bowl cork bottle
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After the breading material are set up and you have finish3d breading your food you can finally start cooking.

You should have already set up and start heating your oil by now…perhaps I shouuld have posted this earlidr, but let’s talk about which oiil you should be using to fry your food in.

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Smokepoint

When choosing which oil to use whenever you are frying, you need to think about the smoke point of that partcular oil.

It is important that you use an oil with a high smoke point.

But first, I guess you need to know what a smoke point is, if you’re gonna pick your oil wisely.

The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil can be heated to before it begins to smoke and burn…makes sense huh>!

Once your oil has reached this point, the oil will start to break down into its fundamental components—glycerol and fatty acids—and no longer be good for frying.

The oil will also start losing its flavor and nutritional value.

Once it has passed the smoke point, the oil can also be very dangerous, because it is much more likely to ignite when exposed to an open heat source.

Usually whenever you are frying, you want the oil to be somewhere between 350°F and 375°F, so your must have a smoke point that is  high enough to survive this amouint of heat.

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So which oils shoul you NOT be using?

Butter…has too low of a smoking point to be used for frying.

Lard...has a low smoke point

Olive oil...Sure, you could use oil for frying, but I’d stick to using olive oil for sauteeing your foods since that olive oil usually costs more.

Shortening…also has too low of a smoking point to be used for frying.

Sunflower oil…This oil tends to burn more quickly than most other oils.

Unrefined oils of any kind…These have too low a smoke point and can also be very expensive. Note that many of the oil that we will be learning later on that are good fort frying are sold in both refined and unrefined versions, so check the label before you use it.

Your fanciest or priciest oils…Frying reuires a whole lot of oil…using these here would simply be a waste of money. Also, thhe frying process can dim the flavor of, making it no more flavorful than any other given oil.

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And which oils should you be using?

 

Whenever you are choosing which oil to fry in, there are several things to consider. In addition to the smoke point, which should be slightly higher than the temperature at which you will be cooking, your oil should have a neutral flavor that won’t impart iany flavor on whatever you are cooking.

Also it is important that youu  hoose a good quality oil.

Each of the following oils can be a smart choice for frying because they all have a neutral flavor, perform well at high temperatures, and have a smoke point somewhere between 440° and 450°F….which is definitely above the typical temp required for frying, which tends to be around 350°F.

(Note that there are obviously more oils that are commonly used for fryiung—such as vegetable and peanut, but I have limited my list to those oils that we have already talked about being best for type-2 diabetics.)

 

1.Canola Oil

Benefits...Canola oil helps reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the body, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and stabilize blood pressure levels, The FDA agrees that 1-1/2Tbsp canola oil each day could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease when used instead of saturated fat.

Nutrition…Canola oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as the alpha-linolenic acid, as well as monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that is considered healthy for diabetics. At the same time, canola oil is low in the unhealthy saturated fat that mostly come from animal products like meat and dairy.

Uses…Canola oil can be used safely at high temperatures because it has a higher smoke point than most other oils, but doesn’t have as much flavor as some other oils that are available and is not your best choice for certain things such as making your own salad dressing

 

 

2. Grape Seed Oil

Nutrition…this is a rich source of both polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, and is very low in saturated fat

Use…nutty but mild flavor that can be used for all sorts of cooking and grilling and also works well in salad dressings or drizzled over roasted veggies

 

 

 

3. Rice Bran Oil

Benefits….Rice bran oil will reduce your levels of bad cholesterol, and so is great for diabetics and those wanting to keep heart disease at bay.

Nutrition…Rice bran oil is rich in both monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated fats.

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Reusing

You can either reuse your oil or dispose of it after you finish frying.

 

To reuse the oil…

  1. Let the oil cool down to room temperature.
  2. Filter through a cheesecloth…whatever the heck that is…
  3. Return to its original container.
  4. Add a small amount of fresh oil to have extend the life of the oil that you have just used.
  5. Store it in a cool, dark place.

You will not want to use the same oil more than two or three times in a row because each use will release more andf more fatty acids into theoil, reducing the smoke point and making it less and less appropriate to use at the high temperatures required for frying.

If your oil starts to look thick or brown, throw it out.

Never pour oil down the drain…lesson learned the hard way…never pour hot candle wax down the drain either…another lesson learned the hard way…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Green Living 101—First Things First

So now that we have totally gutted our kitchen and started slowly adding items to our dream Bed Bath and Beyond idea board, we find ourselves with six things at this stage. These include…

  1. Saute pan
  2. Wood cutting board
  3. Mineral oil to take of wood cutting board
  4. plastic cutting board mainly to be used for fish
  5. Knife
  6. Knife sharpening tool

But I would much rather cook than shop any day, so can we get on with things—particularly learning the art of sautéing your food so that we can then start back on our trail through the Raw Foods pyramid.

So now armed with your new arsenal of cooking weapons, where do we begin…assuming that you have the vegetables or whatever ingredients that you will be cooking…more on this later…way more…

When you are sauteeing foods, the first thing you will want to do is dry your ingredients off, even if you have been marinading them.

Failure to dry off your ingredients first will mean that you are actually steaming them instead of sautéing…and right now we are only learning to saute.

So first dry your ingredients off with a paper towel.

But I know that the moment I mention the words “paper towel”…we’re all suosed to be learning a greener and more minimalistic ;lifestyle on this website…

So let’s stop and talk about paper products in your home…

Most of us have been using paper towels as a quick and convenient way to clean and dry whatever needs to be cleaned and dried. We absently-minded throw them in the trash like the days back when we were kids, without even thinking about how they affect the environment.

Yet these days more and more of us are starting to think about what we buy and use as consumers…more and more of us are adopting a “green” lifestyle and trying to create an “eco-friendly” home. 

Each year three thousand tons each day is throw away simply in paper towels, meaning that about six million pounds of paper towels end up in landfills each year.

  • 1.Bleach…Bleach is used to whiten paper products such as paper towels and then flushed into our waterways where it often combines with organic compounds in the environment and forms carcinogenic dioxins which can affect hormones and the immunity system of individuals, increase the risk or birth defects, diabetes, and endometriosis. These dioxins also can contaminate our water supplies.
  • 2. Toxic chemicals...Often toxic chemicals—such as methanol, chlorine dioxide, formaldehyde, and toluene—are used to process wood pulp into paper products.
  • 3. Wasted trees…Each year about 110 million trees are used to make these.
  • Wasted water…Each year about 130 billion gallons of water are used to make these.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Share the Challenge

As this new year begins, I have decided to get serious about getting our house in order

Recently I stumbled upon this challenge on organizing one section of your house each week.

This first week we were challenged to clear our counters and sinks.

Honestly this has never been that much of a trouble to keep organized…clean, no…organized, yes…

It drives me crazy to see a bunch of junk on my kitchen counters.

If there is only one area of my house that gets cleaned on a given day, it would definitely be my kitchen counters.

As far as the rest of my kitchen goes, it depends on how the rest of my day is going.

The first few weeks of this challenge revolve entirely around the kitchen…figuring out how best to organize our kitchens for…

  • Cooking (also including food preparation)
  • Eating
  • Family and friends hang out area
  • Family calendar and control central
  • Food storage (both cold storage and pantry)
  • Home office, bill paying center, and/or home mail organizer center
  • Home recycling center
  • Homework area
  • Recipe and cookbooks

My hope is to share my before and after pictures with you as I begin this challenge, and to find other like-minded people to hold me accountable throughout the year.

Join me on this journey…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s In My…School Backpack of Our “Resident Four Year Old”

Today the “resident four year old” starts pre-k for the fall…a moment that any fifty year old chasing a four year old 24/7 looks forward to all summer long.

I imagine that I will drop him off and then come home and sleep until it’s time to pick him back up…I’ll let you know…

So even though he’s only in pre-K and doesn’t need too many things to take with him to school other than his lunch, a stuffed animal, and a nap-pad…(oh year, teachers…good luck getting him to take a nap)…this made me think about upgrading out school and office supplies to more environmentally friendly options.

Even school and office supplies can be unfriendly to the environment, as well as toxic…

A few of the toxic chemicals that are sometimes included in school and office supplies include…

  • asbestos (a known carcinogen) in crayons
  • benzene (a probable carcinogen) in dry-erase markers
  • lead (a neurotoxin) in children’s water bottles
  • phthalates (linked to hormone and developmental problems) in 3-ring binders

Not only that many of the companies that make school and office supplies are not cruelty-free.

So it’s important to think about things like that instead of simpy running to Dollar General and buying the cheapest items so that you can cross them off that dreaded back-to-school school supply shopping list this year…

A few trains of thought as far as shopping for school and supplies include…

1.Backpacks…As far as backpacks are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose natural materials, such as cotton or hemp. Never choose PVC plastic at all costs.

2.  Crayons and Markers…As far as crayons are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose crayons that are composed from beeswax and soy products. Always avoid cheap crayons which may be laced with asbestos.

3. Lunch Boxes…As far as lunch boxes are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose reusable and durable, PVC-free lunch bags and lunch boxes that will last more than one season. Another great options, especially for adults, would be stainless steels. But whatever you do, avoid using plastic baggies and plastic wrap. Invest in a stainless steel water bottle….(I will look at a few more great options as well as ideas as to what to put in your lunch boxes in a future post).

4. Markers…As far as markers are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose water based markers. Many permanent markers contains chemicals such as xylene, toluene, and other VOCs…which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, my “one new thing learned at school today” for today.

5. Paper…As far as loose-leaf paper, notebooks, and binders are concerned, the main train of thought should be to shop for items made with recycled paper, and binders that either do not have a plastic cover or are clearly labeled PVC-free.

6. Pencils and Pens…As far as pencils and pens are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose pencils that are made from recycled materials or wood from sustainably managed forest…and pens made from recycled plastic.

Thankfully there are sources for better school and office supplies that you would typically find at the local dollar store…sure, they may be more expensive…and honestly, these options might not be way more expensive…but depending on how committed you are or are not about the above concerns in all areas of your family’s life, you may want to get out your debit card so that you can buy some really cool new gadgets for the new school year.

Finally, some really great places online to shop or at least browse at these other options include…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Mineral Water At Least Makes Drinking Water Much Less Boring

My very favorite segment of the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is when Charlie and his grandfather drink the bubbly water and float into the ceiling. If they can escape the reality of gravity and this great planet full of chaos and concerns simply by drinking bubbly water, wouldn’t we all be drinking it every day?

Yet, even though bubbly water will not help us reach great heights, there are many types of “bubbly” water available that can add interest to our newly established water drinking habit that not only help with staying hydrated, but also provide many other health benefits as well.

These options include…

  • Sparkling Water…Sparkling water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide, either naturally or man-made, making the water sparkling or bubbly.
  • Natural Mineral Water…Natural mineral water—such as Perrier and San Pellegrino—is water than comes from a  a geologically and physically protected underground water source—such as an aquifer, underground reservoir, spring, or artesian wells—such as in Mihalkovo in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains, in Medžitlija in Macedonia, or most notably in Selters in the German Taunus mountains.
  • Seltzer Water…Seltzer water is a  genericized trademark originally used to market the water that comes from the infamous German town Selters, This natural sparkling mineral water has been commercially bottled and shipped from this town since the 18th century or earlier.
  • Soda Water…Soda water, also known as club soda, contains bicarbonate of soda, which gives them its own unique flavor. This water is popularly used for making mixed drinks—such as whisky and soda and Campari soda.
  • Tonic Water…Tonic water is a form of carbonated water that contains a bitter compound called quinine, along with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

 

And now that we have looked at the different types of bubbly available, let’s think about the health benefits of adding carbonated water to your diet….benefits such as…

  1. Blood Sugar…The bicarbonate found in mineral water helps maintain a healthy pH of the blood so it doesn’t become too acidic or too basic and improves glycemic control.
  2. Bones…Unlike soft drinks, mineral water does not contribute to lower bone mineral density and osteoperosis….mainly because unlike Cokes mineral water does not contain the added risk of having a lot of phosphorus and not enough calcium. In fact, drinking one liter of sodium-rich sparkling water for eight weeks can lead to better calcium retention.
  3. Digestion…Mineral water may help treat digestive problems—such as constipation.
  4. Heart…Carbonated water has several beneficial effects on cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar. People drinking mineral water regularly can reduce their risk of developing heart disease within ten years by 35%.
  5. Motion Sickness…Carbonated beverages without caffeine are known for their ability to help calm that queasiness.
  6. Weight Loss…Just as plain old water does, carbonated water helps you feel full longer…perhaps even better.

 

Now that we have established the fact that sparkling mineral water is a better alternative to Coke...for many reasons…such as Cokes being about a hundred times more erosive to teeth than sparkling mineral water, not containing any sugar or calories, and not being loaded with insulin-raising sugars or filled with extremely health-hazardous fake sugars like aspartame…

And now that we have also established the fact that sparkling water is also perhaps a better alternative to regular tap water…for many reasons…such as the possible, or probable, presence of dangerous toxins in our water supply…as proven by the findings of 316 different chemicals in tap water throughout the United States…

 

Let’s check which options of ready-to-drink carbonated water are the best ones to grab out of all the available alternatives.

  • (to be added later)

Final Thoughts…

  1. Make sure that you are choosing a sugar-free, unflavored sparkling mineral water that doesn’t contain any calories, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, citric acid or any other acids, and any other additives.
  2. Spike sugary fruit juices with sparkling water.
  3. Try infusing your sparkling water just as you would regular water…with options such as watermelon, rosemary, blueberries, cucumber, lavender, and mint.
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

April Essential Oil of the Month—Chamomile—The How?

 

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

We are all familiar with chamomile tea, having been read The Tale of Peter Rabbit,  written by Beatrix Potter in 1902, and hearing how chamomile tea was given to Peter after being chased by Mr McGregor.

But chamomile tea has been around since the Indian days, at least.

And it seemed like the Indians enjoyed their chamomile tea. The Tzeltal Mayan Indians in the highlands of southern Mexico brew chamomile tea with an orange and a lime leaf to “lift the mood.” Aleuts brewed chamomile tea to alleviate gas. Drinking the tea was a Cherokee trick for “regularity.”

 

Today chamomile tea remains one of the most popular varieties of tea in the market. In fact more than one million cups of chamomile tea are consumed per day.

But not only has chamomile used for nearly 5,000 years for chamomile tea. Throughout the centuries, there have been many other uses also, including…

 

Bath Soaks…Lavender Chamomile Bath Soak…Combine 1C Epsom Salt, the contents of 2 chamomile tea bags in a blender. Pulverize into a fine powder. Add 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil and 5 drops Roman Chamomile Essential Oil.

Candles

  • Place soy wax chips in a heatproof glass measuring cup. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat until completely melted.
  • Attach a wooden candle wick to its metal tab. Dip the tab in melted wax. Center at bottom of a glass jar.
  • Heat 1Tbsp cooking oil on a stovetop. Steep two chamomile tea bags and 10 drops lavender essential oil until the oil is scented.
  • Remove the tea-infused oil from the heat.
  • Combine tea-infused and oil and the melted wax together.
  • Slowly pour the mixture into your glass jar. Let the wax  cool and solidify. Trim the wood wick.

 Compresses..Steep a chamomile tea bag in boiling water, as if you were going to drink it. Pour tea into a bowl. Let tea cool completely. Add a few ice cubes. Soak a muslin cloth in the cool tea and squeeze out. Place on eyes or sore area and leave for at least ten minutes.

Hand Rinse…Chamomile has been used as a hand rinse for gamblers needing good luck, because of its supposed magical ability to attract money…Steep a chamomile teabag as if you were making yourself a cup of tea. Set aside 1/4C of the tea to cool. Combine ¼C liquid castile soap, ¾tsp olive oil, 8 drops chamomile essential oil, and several drops of Vitamin E oil. Add tea when completely cooled. Mix ingredients well. Pour into a labeled pump bottle.

 

Liqueur...Chamomile has also been used as a flavoring agent for liqueurs such as Benedictine and vermouth…so why not tequila?!

  • Measure out 1C reposado tequila. Add two chamomile tea bags. Let steep thirty minutes. Place this mixture in the fridge for later.
  • Combine 1/2C honey, 2tsp dried lavender, and 1/2C water in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm, stirring once or twice, until the honey melts to make a simple syrup.
  • Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice.
  • Shake 2oz of the tequila mixture, 3/4oz of the simple syrup, 3/4oz freshly squeezed lime juice, and a dash of bitters in a cocktail shaker.

Mouthwash…

  • Combine 1/4C witch hazel, 1/4C aloe vera juice, 1/8C distilled water. Add two drops of chamomile essential oil and two drops of mint essential oil. Shake well. After thirty minutes, set the mixture in the fridge.
  • To use, combine 2Tbsp mixture with 1/4C warm water. 

Perfume…Perfume has been made from the pulverized dry flowers.

  • Combine 6 drops lavender essential oil, 10 drops chamomile essential oil, 1Tbsp carrier oil, and 3Tbsp vodka. Shake well. Place in a dark bottle. Let mixture remain undisturbed for two days.
  • After two days, add 2C distilled water. Let mixture stand for at least three weeks in a cool, dark place.
  • After this time, filter the mixture. Store it in a glass bottle that has a stopper.
  • To use, dab on pulse points.