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Even Meat Labeled "No Nitrates or Nitrites Added" Contains Harmful Nitrites



For those trying to avoid the cancer-linked preservatives nitrates and nitrites, I have some bad news.

All processed meats -- that's bacon, deli meat, sausages, hot dogs, pepperoni, salami -- contain nitrates and nitrites, even those natural or organic products labeled as "uncured" with "no nitrates or nitrites added." Take a look at the additional (sometimes very fine) print on your favorite "uncured" meat and you will most likely find some wording similar to the following: "no nitrates or nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in ingredients such as celery juice powder, parsley, cherry powder, beet powder, spinach, sea salt etc." (emphasis mine).



The no nitrites exception is easier to find on some labels than on others.

The truth is that both conventional and natural/ organic processed meat products rely on nitrates and nitrites for enhanced taste and shelf life. The difference is the source. Conventional processed meats typically are cured with synthetic sources of nitrates and nitrites, such as sodium nitrite, while organic and natural meats typically rely on naturally-occurring sources of nitrates, such as celery or sea salt, as preservatives.


The Perks of Being a Regular at the Farmers Market

No matter what time of day I shop, this farmer gives me the end-of-the-day special.

Find your local farmers markets here.

I've been shopping at the same small neighborhood farmers market for about four years. Shopping at the farmers market has numerous benefits, from fresher and better tasting produce, to the welcome absence of produce stickers and high fructose corn syrup. Here are some of the perks that I get for being a regular that go above and beyond the regular benefits.

End of the day price

In peak season, our favorite stone fruit vendor sells her peaches, nectarines, peaches, and pluots for $2 per pound at the beginning of the day, $1.50 per pound midday, and $1 per pound at the end of the day. But when I buy stone fruit, no matter what time of day, she always charges me $1 per pound. This means I can afford to buy 7 to 10 pounds of deliciousness every week. This is one example of the many special deals I receive as a regular. Farmers appreciate a loyal customer.

My Surrogate Garden: the Farmers Market



So here's the deal. I don't have a garden. I drool a bit over all the garden photos on The Green Phone Booth and elsewhere. I even have a Pinterest Garden board. I do aspire to having a garden, but I just don't have the mental space, time, or energy to embark on this new endeavor just yet. (If you'd like to come plant stuff in my yard for me and tell me exactly what to do afterwards, just let me know!)

But you know what I've got? I've got the farmers marketAnd oh, how I love the farmers market. I shop at one, sometimes two farmers markets every Saturday and purchase at least 90% of my family's produce there (bananas being the major exception). I kind of like to think of the farmers market as my garden. My surrogate garden, if you will. So for the last few weeks, I've been annoying my children by whipping out my smart phone to take photos at the farmers market.

Are you ready? Here are some photos of my pride and joy: my local farmers markets.

Click here to continue reading at The Green Phone Booth.


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Hate Stirring Natural Nut Butters? Read This.



Does this happen to you?

As I get to the bottom of a jar of peanut butter, or almond butter, or tahini, I feel a vague sense of dread. It's the knowledge that soon, very soon, I will have to open a new jar of nut butter, and that entails trying my very best to integrate that layer of oil sitting on the top into the entire jar. Whether you use a fork, knife, or some other utensil, this process inevitably involves making a greasy mess on your hands, the outside of the jar, and on the surface beneath the jar.

At least that used to happen to me, until I discovered one of the finest inventions ever: the Witmer Mess-free Peanut Butter Mixer.

Are Full-fat Dairy Products Good for You?



Reconsidering Full Fat Dairy


For years my family has been eating organic whole plain yogurt produced by a local creamery. I chose whole yogurt (over lowfat or nonfat) mostly because it was creamy delicious. In addition, I had read that whole dairy products were important for women during their child-bearing years, and that doctors recommend whole dairy products for children under the age of 2 because young children need lots of fat for their developing brains. Also there is the fact that, as a general rule, we aim to eat foods in their most natural and least processed state as often as possible.

But recently I began questioning the healthiness of whole fat dairy.

Easy-peasy DIY Taco Seasoning Recipe



Not so long ago I used Trader Joe's envelopes of taco seasoning to season my taco meat. But then I discovered that it contained sugar, which meant my sister, who does not eat sugar and then regularly ate with us, could not eat it. Of course I had to browse dozens of recipes before trying a few and then finding my own favorite version through trial-and-error. I'd say of all the recipes I browsed, mine bears the closest resemblance to Alton Brown's.

I mix and store mine in the little glass jars that came with my yogurt maker (they hold a little less than one cup). I always make my yogurt in quart jars, so I can use the little jars for other things. After getting tired of searching for my favorite version of the recipe every time I needed to make a new batch of seasoning, I had a stroke of genius and affixed the simple recipe to the lid using part of a blank label.


7 Simple Low-risk Ways to Involve Kids in the Kitchen



Kids benefit tremendously from helping in the kitchen. Kids who help in the kitchen are more likely to try healthy foods and participate in family meals. They are also learning valuable cooking skills and building self-confidence as they contribute to the family. I try to frequently involve my kids in baking and cooking for these reasons.

But sometimes I am too short on time or patience to really let my kids (ages 6, 4, and 2) be fully involved. Or sometimes the child who wants to be involved is under two or just beginning to help in the kitchen.  At those moments, I need a simple way to let them feel involved that still let's me get the job done quickly and successfully. Here are some easy, low-stakes way that I let the kids help me in the kitchen.