Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Baking Corn Free

Avoiding corn during the holidays is even more difficult with the exchange of cookies and treats and shared meals.

Baking is something I thoroughly enjoy and now tackle the task with a more observant eye and wary outlook. I assume that if an ingredient is not self explanatory that it is corn. This is the safest thing to do at this point. Thus, coloring frosting for sugar cookies has been the object to tackle of late. The sugar cookies were a basic recipe:

  • 3/4 cup organic unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup organic white sugar
  • 2 organic free range eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon home made vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups naturally white Hodgson Mill flour
  • 1 teaspoon Hain baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt salt
which I baked yesterday. Using cookie cutters is so fun - creating tasty shapes and making a mess. I ran out of time to make icing though. This morning I made a basic frosting but wanted a colorful frosting in addition to white. I am not certain that food coloring is corn free so it wasn't an option. After making a batch of frosting I took just a little more than 1/2 and set it aside. To the remaining I added a tablespoon or so of organic strawberry jelly and a handful of pureed fresh cranberries. This thinned the frosting out a bit so I added additional organic powdered sugar to add a bit of stiffness to it. Not only is the frosting delicious it looks close to a red color. It's a bit faint but I didn't want to end up with gobs of frosting and thus didn't add more cranberry which would mean more sugar.....
I'm pretty happy with the outcome. My favorite are the little Santa hats... I couldn't figure out what they were pre-frosting. I had some snow flakes which had broken and so I had to eat. ;) There's a pile of cookies left to be frosted. Now I'm inspired. The white frosting and cookies are bland enough to support a variety of additional flavors in the frosting. I have some bells that could really use yellow and Christmas trees that sure would look nice with green. I wonder if I can get the same result with lemon juice & zest for yellow and perhaps some fresh mint leaves for green. I guess I'm off to the market.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pacific Natural Foods

So excited about this link I found. I hate that it hasn't been updated since 06.2009 but I called to ask about their condensed soups - CORN FREE - all of them and requested they update the information. It's a great chart - even if most of their products contain corn or soy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flu Season

Hubs came home last night feeling crummy. Achy, sore throat, head ache. Fabulous. He had called earlier so I changed the menu from a hearty chicken chili to a basic chicken soup loaded with veggies, ginger & garlic.

We can't purchase any kind of safe over the counter treatments or vitamins so standard procedure here is different than loading up on Vitamin C and store bought chicken soup. When allergies are at hand nipping these things in the bud is the best you can do. Lots of sleep, lots of water, lots of veggies and citrus fruits (for vitamins & minerals).

Quick chicken soup
Chicken, boneless skinless breasts or thighs work best
Veggies (I ran to the market and purchased a fresh zucchini & onions. I already had fresh carrots, celery, spinach, canned green beans, & frozen peas)
Broth (I used 32oz box)
Garlic (I used a few cloves of fresh & some powdered as well)
Onion (fresh & a little powdered)
Ginger (powdered - hate grating my own)
Salt & Pepper
small amount of butter/olive oil

Melt the butter or warm the oil in a large pot. Throw in the fresh onions & garlic until they start to become translucent. Chop chicken into bite sized pieces. Brown in the pot with onions. Season well with salt, pepper, onion & garlic powder as well as ginger. Once the chicken is browned pretty well, dump in the rest of the fresh ingredients - minus the spinach and simmer. Carrots & celery take a little while but after a few minutes drop in frozen ingredients. The spinach can be put in the bottom of a bowl or added right before serving into the pot. It really needs only a moment. I always taste the broth. If it's not flavorful enough I add more of the powdered seasoning because it disperses more quickly than fresh garlic or onion.

This soup works well for any occasion but I made a large pot last night and we ate it for dinner last night, lunch this morning and dinner this evening. It's not too filling but it's loaded with nutrients and easy to digest.

Stock up on:
Safe chicken stock
- home made keeps in the freezer for up to a year but takes time to thaw out and requires a little time
- Kitchen Basic Original Chicken Stock in a box is wonderful - you can purchase it in boxes of all sizes and I always keep it in the pantry, it specifically states "corn free" and we have never had a problem with it
- Scrambled eggs are very easy to digest and quick to make
- Fresh, seasonal is best but they have to be used quickly so they don't spoil
- Canned veggies are good and we typically keep green beans (Central Market Organics)
- Frozen, I always have peas in the freezer & if my organic veggies aren't being eaten fast enough I will freeze just about anything. Currently I have bell peppers & spinach that I was afraid we wouldn't eat before it spoiled (HATE, hate, hate throwing away food!).
Spices & Herbs
- Garlic
- Ginger
Honey - we purchase raw local wild flower honey
Orange Juice - Central Market Organics is pure 100% squeezed oranges, nothing added and is less expensive than purchasing oranges and juicing them myself
Epsom Salts - just the salt don't purchase the scented ones they might have corn
Pure essential oils - we add to baths, and "humidifiers"
Since I don't have a diffuser or anything for my essential oil so I boiled water on the stove and placed about 4 quarts of very hot water in a pan with a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a table beside the bed. It acted as a humidifier of sorts.

I'm happy to report that David is nearly as good as new despite being so sick last night.

Helpful links:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Corn Sick

Last weekend David got home early and popped his head in our bathroom - where I was scrubbing down our shower with a really powerful mold killing product....

(I don't like using it but living in the Houston area it's got to be done at least once a month or the mildew takes over the shower in the worst way - it doesn't matter what I scrub with or how often in between my once a month mold & mildew scrubbing.)

I had the exhaust fan above the shower on and the window by the shower all the way open b/c that stuff isn't good for anyone. David still got sick from popping his head in. Grrr.

Yesterday he came home from work sick. Someone had popped popcorn. So aggravating.

I wish he wasn't so sensitive. The peanuts & soy are so much easier to deal with. I keep a small jar of peanut butter in the fridge in fact and eat it w/apples or on sandwhiches (hey, PB is waaaay cheaper than almond or cashew or any other nut butter, store bought or home made) and it never bothers him. I don't keep anything with corn in it though.

A delightful discovery: David can have Horizon Organic Egg Nog. Hmmm........ it's corn free and delicious.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lamb Kabobs

After a hard day of fence building David and I made some delicious lamb kabobs. I could eat kabobs every day. They are beautiful to look at, smell great and are a perfect food combination (protein/neutral veggies).

We used lamb meat from US Wellness Meats. We order a selection of meat about once a month. The prices, even with the $7.50 handling fee (no additional postage or fees), beat that of the prices in our market for grass fed beef and lamb and compassionate certified pork. We have only purchased drum sticks from the chicken selection as our market does have better prices on range free chicken. David has been able to eat their products with no problem including the plain beef franks - impossible to find with out soy else where.

1 pound lamb meat, chopped in cube chunks
1/2 a red onion, chopped in fat chunks
1 Bell pepper, chopped in thick wedges (we had 3 colors so I used about a 1/3 of each pepper)
1 zucchini
Italian seasoning mix
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Basil
Olive Oil
Sea Salt

Thread the meat and veggies onto skewers. Drizzle a little olive oil onto the loaded skewers - this helps the seasoning to "stick". Sprinkle season onto meat/veggies.
Grill about 15 mins turning to evenly brown the meat and veggies.

Unfortunately we didn't get pictures of the grilled product. We were 1/2 way through eating when I realized we hadn't taken a picture.... David and I decided we'd take pictures next time. So the picture is of the raw veggies and meat. It still looks delicious to me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Review by David

Fresh bread is the best and you know it is fresh when the butter melts instantly. The sweetness of the bread balances the tart cranberries. The pumpkin is not too strong but provides a good base flavor. I highly recommend this bread. I am sorry for all of you with gluten allergies as you may not be able to taste these flavors as described. However for those of us with corn allergy....bake on!

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread (corn free)

I haven't baked in a while. Baking is something that prior to David's allergy I took for granted. I could purchase whatever flour was on sale and same for all the other ingredients out there....

I love pumpkin. It signals fall and pies and comfort foods galore. Pumpkin pie, however, was about the extent of previous pumpkin baking in my repertoire. I decided today to search on and see what else was out there for my recently obtained organic pumpkin in a can. I chose to make Pumpkin Cranberry Bread because it sounded good. Also I just opened a container of cranberry juice. Just the cranberry juice, nothing added and NOT from concentrate. That'll put your teeth on edge. We purchase juice like this all the time. And then we typically drink about 1/2 water with the juice. For the cranberry, we needed only about a 1/4 glass of juice to the water. Also we don't have juice every day. We'd rather have high quality real JUICE occasionally than concentrated with who knows what juice every day. That said I figured what the heck cranberry and pumpkin - bring it on.

Adapted from

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I mixed my own)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 cups granulated organic sugar
  • 15 oz of organic pumpkin
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries
  • Pre-heat oven to 350
  • Dump everything except cranberries into large mixing bowl (Kitchen Aid stand mixer to the rescue!) and combine.
  • Add berries and fold in.
  • Pour into two greased loaf pans.
  • Bake 350 for 60-65 mins or until toothpick comes out clean

(my 2 loaves baking away as I post)

It's not personal....

I think something that is really difficult for David and I to remember is that for the general population food allergies are something of an abstract idea - never mind moving into the idea that corn isn't JUST a "food" allergy. The rude deli worker, the less than helpful waitress, the lack of response from a company when inquired.... It's not personal - for THEM. For the allergy afflicted, however, it's VERY personal.

Thankfully with both the peanut and soy allergy the problem shoots through David - literally. Uncomfortable for him, miserable if out in public and nothing he can do/take to slow it down (because again, corn isn't just a food allergy - it's in every OTC medication we have ever tried).

Corn however sits in his system and wrecks havoc for WEEKS.

Unless a person has a food allergy themselves or has PREPARED food for someone with a food allergy on a regular basis, they just won't get it. Period. Yes, eating gluten free is all the rage - but many people do it by choice so if they stumble into something contaminated they are fine. Again, it's not personal - for THEM.

We do run into the occasional really friendly, helpful waitress or manager. The occasional extra sweet deli worker that is willing to let me read the labels on the packages. And sometimes we are lucky enough to contact someone at a company that is sensitive to our situation. But again, it's the exception not the rule.

When I start getting defensive -

(Hey this is MY husband we are talking about here - I work REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hard to make sure that our home, our "stuff", our food, our cleaning products and on and on are safe. So when someone else screws it up because of carelessness it's aggravating beyond words.)

- I remind myself that it's not a personal attack. Sometimes it "feels" that way but it's not. And my getting irate with a restaurant worker or store manager isn't going to help anything. Thankfully, I have never lost my cool but I have watched other people. (Let's just say that NO one looks attractive having a melt down in public - even if for a good reason.) Rather, I attempt to educate as best I can. Some are very receptive while others, have no interest. Again, it's not personal for THEM.

We are blessed to have family and friends that try really hard - and we are thankful. When people want to have us over for dinner I often bring the food and cook myself. Occasionally I will recommend a simple meat and veggie meal with no breads and no spices please. If fat is needed, please use olive oil. (This is David's food allergy but because I do the bulk of the shopping and cooking/baking I am the most familiar with ingredients. He is learning out of necessity and can even make a mean brownie.)

We have to be our own advocates. No one else will. No one else understands. Even with family and close friends. And hey while it is personal for the allergic person, it's not personal against the well intended.

*Sadly the most recent picture I could find of this "corn free" family is nearly 3 years old.*

Thursday, October 21, 2010


It's impossible for us to purchase store bought meatballs. I don't ever remember my mother using store bought meatballs while growing up and I don't actually think I have ever done it myself but now that home made meatballs are a necessity rather than just fun....


Makes About 48 meatballs
*Approximately 2.5 pounds of ground meat (I used about 1/2 ground certified humane pork and 1/2 grass fed ground beef)
*2 eggs
*Ground Oats (amount needed will vary depending on how "wet" the meat is, I grind my own with my handy Magic Bullet knock off)
*A few tablespoons of fresh ground Parmesan
*Garlic powder
*Onion powder
*Italian blend seasoning: (I am able to purchase a blend at Cost Plus World Market that contains only the following so I use it - something I don't have to make/mix from scratch, sign me up.)
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Basil

One large dog under foot (Oh wait that's not necessary AT ALL but Scratch loves meatball making day. Never know what kinds of bits of meat will drop.)

Dump ever
ything EXCEPT the ground oats into a large bowl and mix well. Prior to receiving the gift of a Kitchen Aide stand mixer (Thank you again Aunt Barb) I mixed this by hand. It's gooey and takes a while. If you have a stand mixer use the flat paddle. Let it mix well for a few minutes. It should be sticky. Start adding the ground oats until the meat stays in one large chunk on the paddle and the meat is "mold-able".

Once everything is mixed well, I use a medium size cookie scoop to drop the meat onto cookie sheets as it keeps them uniform in size and shape but prior to the scoop (Thank y
ou again mom) I used my hands and made fist sized meatballs. A broiler pan works well too if you want the fat to drip down. I like my meatballs cooked on a sheet so the fat will ooze out but still add flavor... yummy. A little healthier than just frying 'em in a skillet, which also works.

The meat balls cook about 15-20 mins at 350 but I usually start checking on them at about the 10 min point. If I'm dropping them right into sauce I usually just lightly brown them so they stay together in the sauce. If they aren't lightly browned in the oven they run the risk of falling apart in the sauce. Typically however, I make a bunch at once and freeze most of them.

Grass fe
d beef and high quality pork have very little fat so as you can see in the last picture the edges around the meat balls brown a little but they are by no means swimming in grease.

They are ready to eat RIGHT NOW. Literally. I took pictures while I made them this morning. David is coming home for lunch in a while so we will eat some soon. The rest will go in the freezer.

I typically put the meatballs right into the freezer as is on the pans (AFTER THEY ARE COOL!!) Once they are frozen solid (about 2 hours or so) I put them in Zipperlock Freezer bag. If they are frozen in this manner they don't stick together in a clump and I can take out a few at a time.

  • Meatball grinders
  • Spaghetti & meatballs
  • Pizza topping
  • Appetizer

If sauce is involved I typically put them right in the sauce. If I remember I let them thaw an hour or so in the fridge on a plate but if it's a last minute thing I drop them in the sauce from the freezer. For pizza it's best thawed in the fridge first. Otherwise I stick 'em in the oven or toaster oven for 5-10 mins until warmed through. They are cooked so
it doesn't take much. We don't use the microwave much but I suppose they could go in there for a re-heat.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rookie Error

I spent this weekend in Galveston with two of my favorite girl friends. One of them was one of the main reasons David and I sought allergy testing and discovered his corn allergy. While we were away I brought items to make chili. My friend is allergic to wheat and several other things such as cayenne pepper. I brought along my handy "chili powder" seasoning to add when we made chili. I have been using this repeatedly without reading the label. I assumed it was, literally, powdered chili pepper. My friend casually pointed out the back of the container.



I constantly say "read everything" and work so hard to make sure that our home and our food is corn-free and here I hadn't even THOUGHT to read something I use profusely. My friend was so gracious - I wanted to smack myself upside the head.

Two things are wrong with this label:
1. The ubiquitous "spices" a generic term that is often used and typically hides additional things within that term. When I see "spices" on any label on any food, I drop the item and find something else.
2. While I can't verify it, nearly always free flowing agents include corn products. This product specifically says "silicon dioxide" which should be just an oxide of silicon with a chemical formula SiO2. However, I never purchase items with the words "free flowing agent" of any kind and in any context.

Technically this might be a safe product but had I read the label I wouldn't have continued using it when cooking for Hubs. I left that "spice" at the beach house for future guests. Thanks for the reminder my friend not to become complacent in food purchases and prep!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Simple Syrup

Light Corn Syrup Substitute:


2 cups sugar
1 cup water

1. Combine ingredients.
2. Over medium heat, bring to full boil.
3. Boil for one minute, or until all sugar particles are dissolved.
4. Transfer mixture into airtight refrigerator container.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Yum. I had never made marshmallows before. Hadn't even thought about it. Picking up a bag at the market on the occasions we "needed" them was so simple. Enter corn allergy. Not so simple. Marshmallows are LOADED with corn: corn syrup, corn starch, powdered sugar.....

Hubs and I went camping last weekend for the first time since March. We love camping and cooking over the fire and sleeping in a tent for a couple of days. Hiking and lazing around a campfire... s'mor

Thus began my thoughts of home made marshmallows... I'd already conquered the art of graham crackers and we can purchase corn free, soy free chocolate bars soooo...

e toasted them over the fire - they aren't flammable!!! How exciting for me - she who always ignites her marshmallows. I stuck one right in the flame and it just browned up. That's it. What is in those goofy store bought that makes them burst into flames I wonder... They smooshed well with graham cracker and chocolate squares and were soooo tasty. They don't tend to hold the heat the same way store bought does so we ate them straight off the fire and into the s'more with no burned tongue! Yea.

The first evening we went camping we dropped a marshmallow into a cup of hot chocolate too. They melted perfectly and added such gre
at flavor to the home made hot chocolate mix.

When we got home from camping I made rice krispy treats with the 10oz of marshmallow I left behind for just such a thing. I made the traditional recipe from Kellogg's but of course with organic puffed brown rice cereal because Kellogg's is made with loads of corn. They were so delicious Hubs couldn't keep out of them long enough to "set". I caught him with a spoon going after the warm gooey treats. Several days later he's still taking them to work (I had them in a covered container in the fridge) and they are still delicious. I should know, I ate one with a piece of chocolate and a graham cracker two days ago.

I didn't take pictures of the process because it is SUPER sticky and very messy. It's fun too don't worry but I didn't want to try and mess around with my camera while managing the gooey treats. The website I adapted the recipe from (linked below) has loads of pictures and my experience is basically what she has pictured.

Springy, Fluffy Marshmallows
(adapted from: Smitten Kitchen)

Makes about 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar~~~~
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin####
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup simple syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon home made vanilla

Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar. (Don't be stingy w/the powdered sugar it's what is going to help get those buggers out later! I used a glass pan because that's all I have.)

In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, simple syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer.

In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined.

Pour mixture into baking pan.

Sift 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar evenly over top.

Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (I used an oiled pizza cutter).

(I had a glass pan so I used my thin metal spatula and slid it around the side of the pan and then under the edges and worked the marshmallow out in a big sheet. It's quite pliable and plopped out as intended. I trimmed the edges and stuck them along with other "rough" cut pieces into a glass container until I had the 10oz I needed for Krispy Treats.)

Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.

Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.

~~~~Organic powdered sugar is often made corn free but be sure to LOOK! Powdered sugar often is made with corn starch.~~~~

####I used Knox original gelatin unflavored 4 envelopes 1 oz pack. I called Knox and they assured me that this product was made with beef and pork products only. NO CORN####

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Update on Food Combining

It has now been about 2 weeks of our food combining attempt. I have read more books and information online. We continue to food combine about 90% of the time.

Yesterday Hubs brought home a Greek plate which was NOT properly food combined and we ate most of it and loved it and only once said something about the bad combination. Think moderation in everything. We'll see how we feel today. Oddly enough after a heartburn free day, David had a bit after dinner. This could be from one of two things OTHER than improper food combining:
The food was packaged in Styrofoam - can it be made with corn??? Probably but I haven't checked.
Inside one of the packages (it took 4 to contain this plate intended for one person, one meal, but we both had dinner last night and David had left overs for lunch today) was a fýllo wrapped cheese item. It is nearly impossible to find fýllo that is Corn Free. I have looked. A lot. We picked out what we saw that had transferred but most likely, this is the culprit. They are delicious little cheese pastries but we would have requested it be left out or packed separately had we been paying attention.

Ah well such is the life. This Greek restaurant makes delicious food and we have only had a problem with corn when we order something with fýllo. Which is easy enough to avoid when one remembers.....


Since food combining I have more regular BM's. When one's digestive system is working correctly one should have about one BM per meal (snacks not included) per day. So the average person should be having about 3 per day. When we had corn in our diet I was good if I had one every other day. We eliminated corn from our diet and what do you know about one BM a day for me (and I am NOT allergic to corn - just Hubs). With food combining, I have a BM as one is supposed to when digestion is running smoothly.

While talking about the waste a body produces isn't "proper" conversation it does indicate a lot about how one's body is working and what one is consuming. And not just BM's, tinkle too. =)

Toothpaste and Contact Solution


We have been looking for corn free products. It's quite difficult. Tom's of Maine clearly explains on the package of some of their products where each ingredient is derived from. One has to be very careful though reading labels because not all of the toothpastes have even the same basic ingredients. I did NOT call or contact this company. We purchased this product solely based on label reading and product transparency. I think the taste of this product is comparable or better than the leading brands. It also seems to leave ones breath fresh and clean comparable or better than the leading brands.

Contact solution is a much bigger deal. You stick the product in your eye which is an entry point for germs and infection. So sticking corn in one's eye when one is allergic can be quite traumatic. Toothpaste can be absorbed through the gums while brushing but it's not actually consumed, it is spit into the sink and one typically rinses their mouth with water after brushing. Not so with contact solution. One loads up the lens with it and plants it in their eye for the day. I called the 1-800 number on the box while standing in Target. The representative I reached was very kind and said that while she didn't have the information she would take my number and return my call. After about 4 days of no response I had given up on hearing from Bausch & Lomb about Bio true. She called Tuesday morning and left a detailed message saying that she had confirmation from: the product manager, one of the Doctors on the product and a chemist on the product that there was NO corn used in the making of this contact lens solution. Yea for David!! I wasn't even upset about paying full price. (I'm obsessive about getting the best deals and coupon clipping and bargain hunting.) If one fills out the survey HERE - one can get a $2 coupon to try this product. There is supposed to be a travel size (2oz) but I have not yet found anything other than the size pictured. NOTE: This solution is for soft contact products. David wears soft contacts so he can use this product. I wear rigid gas permeable and this product is NOT recommended for hard contact lenses.... although I think I might just be the only one left wearing hard contacts....

DISCLOSURE: I paid with our hard earned money, full price for both of the items. There was no compensation from either company, I am just really happy about finding corn free products I don't have to make myself. I have however, since printed an online coupon for Bio true that I found on my own time and of my own volition.

.C.ould .O.ur g.R.eed explai.N.

David and I watched King Corn. A documentary made by two young guys, just graduated from college who decide to rent an acre of land in IA and grow corn. Their plan is to follow their acre from seed to product. Interesting concept and of course holding our attention since we seem to do that every day ... trace our products back to corn ...

From Netflix:
King Corn
2007 NR 90 minutes
In Aaron Woolf's thought-provoking documentary, friends Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis move back to America's Corn Belt to plant an acre of the nation's most-grown and most-subsidized grain and follow their crop into the U.S. food supply. What they learn about genetically modified seeds, powerful herbicides and the realities of modern farming calls into question government subsidies, the fast-food lifestyle and the quality of what we eat.
Cast: Curt Ellis, Ian Cheney
Director: Aaron Woolf
Genres: Documentary, Science and Nature Documentaries, Political Documentaries, Indie Documentaries
This movie is: Witty, Cerebral
Format: DVD and streaming

Despite our extensive research out of necessity, we were still surprised at some of the content. While some of the knowledge was "there" it hit home the actual role the government is playing in growing and producing of corn.

The bottom line is that the government, through subsidies, is propping up an artificial (literally) market for corn. Corn derivatives are so inexpensive that it has helped to drive down the annual cost of food in U.S. households, by about 1/2. While it sounds shocking, even in our household since discovering David's allergies and subsequently switching to primarily organic foods our grocery budget has more than doubled. Even 100 years ago, maybe even 50 years ago the thought of having to purchase "Organic" foods was probably ludicrous. Food was still being produced primarily through smaller farm operations - with naturally healthy methods.

I like purchasing organic, corn free products. I DO NOT like the dent that it has caused in our over all budget, but by purchasing responsibly grown plants and animals I am choosing to support small farms and casting my vote for free market - not one propped up with subsidies and corn kernels.

While we don't own a TV I have seen the commercial that is touting all the benefits of High Fructose Corn syrup. The actresses are playing 'mom' in this commercial and one of the 'moms' says to the other "Oh but do you know what is IN that??" And the (obviously more informed mother - typed with only a hint of sarcasm - ) says "What?" And then spouts off all the fantastic things about HFC.

Here is the thing: the guys in King Corn make HFC themselves when companies won't allow them to bring in cameras. They have to wear GLOVES & GOGGLES because of the poison that is required in the process of abstracting HFC from kernels of corn. Pretty sure that I don't want to consume a product made with chemicals that have a skull and bones on it. And I sure as anything wouldn't feed it to kids. No wonder our kids are fat, have diabetes, early periods, and on and on.... The government is encouraging parents to feed their kids crap - literally. It's hard for me to make good grocery store decisions and I have a household of 2. I can't imagine having 4 or 5 mouths to feed and looking at the meat or dairy and having to choose between products. When will the government - especially this current administration with all the talk of healthy eating - stop enabling companies to obtain cheap product. Cheap, unhealthy product.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Food Combining: Day Seven

Well we have some what successfully completed 7 days of food combining. About a year ago I got fat. As in I'm 5'1 and I was ounces shy of 140. BMI 26.4. (Overweight = 25–29.9) I have never really worried much about weight. I've always been less than about 115 with out much effort. I got myself lined up and counted calories obsessively, was hungry all the time and grumpy from being hungry and missed ice cream and wine. But I got to about 123. BMI 23.2 (Normal weight = 18.5–24.9) Then I slowly backed off calorie counting and settled in at 129. BMI 24.4. While not delighted I'm working out and feel pretty good and it's still within that healthy range and Hubs thinks I look hot so I wasn't trying to loose just maintain and preferably rebuild some muscle tone.

All that to say. In 7 days of food combining. Without being hungry and with eating ice cream several days of those 7, I've been sitting pretty at 125 for 4 days. If I could cut out that ice cream.... yesterday I attempted and had chocolate milk (skim milk mixed with Hershey's syrup) instead. When I read the labels though - I should have just eaten my Ben & Jerrys. So when David had some after dinner I did too.....

Food combining is "supposed" to help you reach your pre-programmed weight. I think everyone has one. And if you're destined to be 150 you will never be 115. It's just kind of how it works. Counting calories is all that has ever worked for me to loose or maintain weight so I was a bit worried but figured a week wouldn't kill me. I work out typically at least every other day. I do cardio at least 30 mins (I push myself further by keep a note-book with the stats in it) and then light weight training for 20-30 mins depending on how much time I have. I figured I wouldn't gain/loose much so I'd try it. So I think (cautiously) that I have found another benefit of food combining.

Yesterday for lunch I re-made the Shepherds Pie again. This time I made a grilled sandwich out of it. Rather than cheese I slapped the veggies between two slice of lightly buttered bread and cooked it like a grilled cheese. I also added garlic to the mix to change the flavors. I'm not a huge fan of leftovers but I DESPISE throwing away food even more so....

For dinner I made a beef hot pot. From "The Food Combining Bible". I followed the recipe almost to the "t". Which if you ask Hubs is about a miracle. It was the best recipe yet. We both thought so.

I found another person who food combines... I see her name and think crazy combined family with a weird nephew that lives in the yard in a trailer and stuck up girls and a tom boy... And I think about Thigh Masters....

Yea Suzanne Sommers. It's a bit difficult for me to take her seriously. However, all her books are based on a method of food combining. Her main theory is that sugar is what makes people fat. So in her books she encourages readers to eat fat galore. Chicken with skin, thick creamy sauces.... but to avoid foods that are high in sugars or starch. Even naturally occurring sugar/starch like carrots, potatoes, winter squash and so on. It's an interesting approach that I'm sure Gillian McKeith would preach against and have Kensington and Hays rolling in their graves. But it's out there. And the book I got "Fast and Easy" is riddled with success stories. I am not an idiot, I realize that tipping into the edge of "overweight" is something a lot of people would envy. That being said I wasn't happy and was uncomfortable in my own skin. The people in Sommers books. They were huge. Some loosing over 100 pounds - almost my body weight when you look at it like that.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Food Combining: Day Six

Every morning I sit and eat fruit while I reflect on the prior days attempts at food combining... sometimes I'm drinking coffee, which always comes first, but usually I'm eating fresh, seasonal, usually organic, fruit.

Yesterday was Shepherds Pie leftovers for lunch. I browned a bit of whole wheat bread and tossed it on top for some crunch. It was good.

Last night I baked Rainbow Trout with a bit of almond oil, grated hazelnuts and lemon juice. On the table I garnished with more lemon juice and nuts. David and I made large side salads to accompany the fish. It was actually quite delicious. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get trout that is caught wild. I prefer wild caught, fresh (NOT previously frozen) fish. The selection yesterday wasn't great. The wild caught had all been previously frozen and all the fresh were farm raised. So I went by preference and price. Always good fall backs.

And no pics because we ate it all before I thought about taking a picture. It was actually a pretty plate with the slightly browned edges on the pink fillets and the toasted nuts. We feed our dogs all raw foods (an entirely different topic which would fill an entirely separate blog) and our Bull Mastiff couldn't get enough of the Rainbow Trout before I stuck it in the oven. Of course then he didn't want his chicken later....

Oh and while David did use his cloth towel to prevent food splatter a woman made popcorn in the microwave..... probably not the best day to test theories.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Food Combining: Day Five

Yesterday David packed his own lunch from a variety of leftovers in the fridge. He said he mostly stuck to food combining when eating at work.

I did the same at home. I always start the day now with a breakfast of fresh fruit. Yesterday I blended fresh fruit with a little 100% organic apple juice (NOT from concentrate - no point in buying organic if it's concentrate) for a smoothie of sorts. It kept me full for several hours. Then I reinvented the pasta dinner from Saturday night on the stove top with fresh parsley.

Dinner was Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie. I used the recipe from Gillian McKeiths book but eliminated a few items (kidney beans - to make it food combo friendly, arrowroot - didn't have any, tamari sauce - it's soy and David's allergic) but stuck to the basic recipe and served it with the last of my home made whole wheat bread.

I posted on Facebook that David didn't realize it was vegetarian. He saw the post before trying the meal... He swears it didn't effect his perception. I thought it was really good. I think I will re-invent it today with some kind of crunch on top.

(Since I didn't add arrowroot I drained all the liquid off the veggies before putting them in the baking dish.)

Not Just a FOOD Allergy

Corn. We've call it a "food" allergy. That seems a bit shy of reality. While David would never eat glue or adhesive tape, contact with those items makes him ill. Same with deodorants, soaps, shampoos and so on. Soy is prevalent as well in products such as lip balm and lotion but thankfully, soy seems to truly be just a food allergy. We haven't had any problems with contact reactions that don't involve the actual consumption of soy (products). (We still however, attempt to a avoid products with soy that will come in contact with David.)

David's been having "issues" again at work. Last night as we were drifting to sleep I did my typical 100 questions - or however many he stays awake for.

I've decided that perhaps the problem is his use of paper towels to prevent splatter when using the microwave at work. (I'm hoping *fingers crossed* hoping that he can use the microwave at work because if eliminating the use of paper towels doesn't work he'll have to avoid the microwave completely.) We typically don't use the microwave at home. I prefer to "re-invent" left overs on the stove top or in the oven. At work David doesn't have that option. And it's tough to come up with enough food for him if we don't include left overs from dinner in his lunch kit. Raw fruit and veggies don't cut it out for him. Raw nuts and seeds help but still - not enough. Sandwiches are ok but again, he can eat 4 in a day with out something more filling.

Last night I asked him to take a dish towel to work with him. Specifically a thin 100% cotton towel I like to use for covering dough while it rises. It's light weight, easy to clean and perfect for bread rising, storing, serving as well as laying flat on the counter for air drying hand washed dishes (I detest hand washing but I do still occasionally).

My theory is that microwaving the paper towel some how transfers allergens in a way that simply using it does not. It was the same with plastic food storage containers. While we now avoid use of plastic in the kitchen in any form, he can drink cold beverages from plastic and not have a reaction. When hot beverages, however, go into a plastic thermos, he gets a reaction. When I stored veggies in a plastic container he was fine, but if he reheated in a plastic container he had a reaction....

We shall see. I think I only had 3 of these towels to begin with so it looks as though he didn't take one with him this morning. Hopefully he grabbed another dish towel because I'm pretty sure I was unable to convince him that his pasta tossed with olive oil, Parmesan and cracked black pepper could be eaten cold.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Food Combining: Day Four

I attempted to do McKeiths detox day so David was on his own for food. This doesn't happen much, typically I plan all the meals and cook most. David fried eggs and bacon for breakfast. I'm not sure this was a good combo but David felt more energetic yesterday.

We had leftovers galore from the previous days so he ate some of those and had cereal and bread as well.

I started the day with warm lemon water. Then flax seed in water. Then a run. Then fruit. We went to church so I missed the next several steps in McKeiths detox day which included an herb tea and a juice break, also a broth break I believe. When we got home I didn't take the time to juice my own fruit. I had 100% organic grape juice. Only ingredient: Organic grapes. Then I had some apple juice (same 100% organic apple ingredient). I cooked Quinoa per the lunch for Detox day schedule. I ate only a small amount before I began to feel very sick. David though it was delicious and ate a large bowl of it. I thought I was going to vomit so I took a nap. I slept about 3 hours missing the other steps in the detox day. I attempted to pick up detox day with a snack of raw sour kraut and seeds. Since I still felt terrible I had toast - 100% whole wheat home made bread. Toasted and buttered - a good combination but not at all a part of detox day - for dinner.

I'm not sure if missing the steps made me ill or the combination of grape then apple juice or just detoxing in general but it was pretty awful.

This week I'm focusing on good food combo's. Thus far I've had only coffee this morning. I'm skipping my run since I still feel pretty crumby from yesterday.

For dinner we are having Sweet Potato Shepard Pie. It's a good combo and it's a recipe from McKeiths book.

Here's a web-site that I have found. It's very helpful in determining a foods dominate trait (Fat, Protein, Carb...)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Food Combining: Day Three

Today is the first full day of food combining experimentation. I attempted to make yesterday a full day but had leftover minestrone soup (Poor combination of protein/starch thanks to my addition). We did well with supper last night and that boosted my confidence enough to go full force this morning.

First breakfast:
Chopped nectarine, sliced strawberries, blueberries tossed with a little cinnamon and nutmeg.
(I should have taken a picture of this because it really was pretty.)

Fruit is supposed to be eaten first thing in the morning and with no other foods. With the exception of melon, all fruits can be mixed.

Second breakfast:
Omelets. Whisked eggs with cream, chopped chives, finely diced garlic, a little salt and pepper and grated raw cheddar cheese. Poured into skillet with heated olive oil. Added lots of chopped broccoli to mine and a very small portion to Hubs (he doesn't prefer broccoli in his omelets but he tolerates small portions). Then I grated a bit more cheese into the egg. My favorite thing about broccoli in omelets is the way that the broccoli is perfectly steamed while the egg cooks. It's slightly crunchy but the bite is taken out of it.

This was a protein dominate meal combined with veggies. Veggies can be mixed with anything. Potatoes, however are a veggie that is considered a starch... so don't add those.

Here is another good chart for reference. I printed this one out and put it on my fridge. It's easy to read and use in a pinch. Food combiners differ over technicalities such as combining acidic fruits with non-acidic fruits and so on. The most basic chart is in "You are what you eat" by Gillian McKeith. She breaks food into four distinct groups and explains which groups make good combinations and which don't.

Dinner was a pasta dish straight from The Food Combining Bible.

For the record we purchase primarily ORGANIC, or NATURAL products (all foods, meats, cheeses and other dairy) and attempt to keep it local and in season (fruits/veggies). Clearly it is not possible to do this all the time but we believe that an unhealthy earth or animal can not possibly produce a healthy product. Traditional large scale farming and animal raising strips the ground of essential nutrients and keeps animals on un-natural diets (Such as corn for cows, cows were intended to eat grass. When they are fed corn the occurrences of e-coli become far more prevalent than those on grass diets.) That being said, we don't attempt to push organic lifestyle on others and don't think that one person can make that decision for another. Organic foods are expensive and can be difficult to find. With David's corn allergy organics make additional sense because the labeling is clearer and there are fewer hidden ingredients.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Food Combining: Dinner Two

Grilled chicken & veggies

I think I nailed this one. I had Hubs grill organic chicken breast (protein) with garlic and onion and "Italian Seasoning Mix" from World Market. I steamed carrots. Sauteed green beans in Sweet Almond Oil (only a tad). Mixed raw cucumber with onion and a little vinegar.

(No pics and no recipes - we created this on our own and didn't take pics b/c we had company... it'd be a tad odd to tell them "Sorry folks if you could wait a few mins while we take pics of din-din...")

The meal was protein and veggies. A very happy combination.

Food Combining: Dinner One

Minestrone Soup

Had I followed the recipe perfectly I would have been fine. But alas I am used to using recipes as "ideas" and adding/subtracting ingredients as I see fit.

This soup is from "The Food Combining Bible". It's basically carrots, celery, potatoes, veggie broth, a little oil, some basil and oregano. I think that is it. So starch and veggies. A good combination. With out thinking I added KIDNEY BEANS. A protein. So I totally screwed up my first attempt. I was thinking I could have bread or beans.... yea well potatoes are a starch which eliminated the protein option... Gag. Also the soup wasn't filling enough for Hubs. He was super hungry after only 2 hours. So we had oatmeal. At 8pm. Something we wouldn't typically do. But a starch. Does that make up for the beans? I keep reading the book. I've probably read all of the sections several times now. Today the part that said something along the lines of picking one or two bad combination's and avoiding them stuck out. I really wanted to jump in with both feet. I'm still trying but it's going to take time for it to become habit.

Next time I make the soup I'll add pasta - a starch - and serve it with whole wheat bread - also a starch.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Food Combining

Starting today, I am going to attempt to Food Combine. I've read several books. The two I own: "You Are What You Eat" by Dr.Gillian McKeith (this was actually a gift I requested at Christmas) and "The Food Combining Bible" by Jan & Inge Dries. I picked this one up in a used book store prior to corn allergy discovery (PCAD). McKeith's book doesn't go into detail about the use of food combining but she does write about food allergies and sensitives and the use of ones pulse to help determine them. She also talks frankly about BM's and itchy bottoms. It's quite interesting actually. The Dries book goes into detail (um - hence the name of the book) about food combining. They reference Dr. Hay and Dr. Shelton quite a bit in this book. Both of the good Dr's did extensive research/work on food combining.

Both books discuss the benefits of food combining to aid in digestion and possibly help eliminate or alleviate food allergies. The basic physiological explanation is that when foods are eaten in specific orders they are digested properly and there are no "back ups" in one's digestive track.

"Although allergy is a disorder of the immune system, food combining removes the factors that induce the reaction. Eating different foods, mixed together, disrupts the digestion: gases and toxins are formed, and protein residues remain in the intestines. These are absorbed through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, causing an allergic reaction. Food combining results in perfect digestion, improving the metabolism and making allergic reactions less likely." The Food Combining Bible Dries (pg 79)

This does not mean I am going to re-introduce corn into our diet. That would be ludicrous. My hope is that by food combining we can avoid situations such as the one we are in now - huge reactions, NO idea what from.

PCAD I'd occasionally call David and ask him to pick up dinner on the way home. I didn't typically care what he picked up just so I didn't have to cook and do dishes. While I miss the ease of an occasional to go dinner, both of us have a healthier lifestyle as a result of our meals being home prepared with out preservatives or additives.


Through the course of history and even still today people practice fasting - the giving up of, traditionally food. There are religious reasons to fast and there are health reasons to fast and, I'm sure, there are several other reasons.

David and I fasted on Sunday 07.11.2010 for his health. He'd been sick from the effects of corn for several weeks in a row and we decided that giving his digestive system a break would be very beneficial. We ate nothing from when we got up Sunday morning until we woke, and broke the fast on Monday morning. We drank lots of water, a little organic chicken broth and a little 100% organic, clear fruit juice.

The following Monday morning David felt significantly better and had very little heartburn (which is the first symptom that he experiences from his corn allergy). He was feeling great until yesterday when he experienced heartburn all day. David's symptoms start with light heartburn, build up to chronic heart burn, shortness of breath and skin ailments (eczema, acne, rashes), digestive problems (constipation) and psychological effects (depression, anxiety, irrational thoughts). If we can end the allergic reaction at the first sign of heartburn he typically avoids the other symptoms which typically build within just a few days and not always in an "order" but usually after the heartburn the other symptoms hit together at the same time, or in very short succession.

So we are back to the drawing board on his allergy. He's experiencing more than heartburn right now and it was a quick build. He couldn't think of anything special about yesterday that would cause the problem.

Becca "Did you lick any envelops?"
David "No"
Becca "Did you have any meetings?" (They sit in the old "print" room)
David "No"
Becca "Did you eat anything from a co-worker?"
David "No"
Becca "What did you eat for breakfast?"
David "That new organic cereal" (I read the label 12 times - it shouldn't cause a reaction and wouldn't cause one all day if there were minute levels of corn - not on the label. He'd be sick for an hour or so right after breakfast.)
Becca "Did you handle a lot of paper?"
David "No more than usual"

And on and on and on until David falls asleep and quits responding. It's really aggravating for me to be unable to determine what is making him sick. We keep a corn free house including the bulk of our cleaning products and other household items. I'm careful about cleaning with questionable products in the early mornings so that when he gets home the fumes have dissipated (he's gone about 11-12 hours a work day). I wash all the fruits and veggies we purchase even the occasional "pre-washed lettuce" I purchase. We buy mostly organic because the labels are easier to decipher and 100% organic means that salts can't have "pouring agents." Speaking of salt we have only 100% sea salt that we have to grind ourselves....

(Keep in mind corn can be organic so organic DOES NOT mean corn free it just means it should have clearer labels and no hidden ingredients or miscellaneous "spices" listed.)

Needless to say the grocery bill is OUTRAGEOUS for 2 adults.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

plaCes t O Read iNgredients

I checked a book out of the library that was all about purchasing organic foods. The bottom line was that home cooking from scratch was the best way to avoid additives and preservatives.... Well of course but for those of us with a corn allergy even home cooking from scratch can cause allergic reactions.

This means I'm the one parked in a corner at the grocery store carefully reading all the labels before anything gets placed in my cart. Organic does not = corn free. 100% organic means that in the labeling not much can be hidden under the ambiguous "spices" or "natural flavors". Corn is ubiquitous. It is used as a sweetener, lubricant, thickener, adhesive... and on and on...

Home cooking from scratch is basically all we eat. But chicken is sometimes packed with "broth". Even the whole chickens or the chicken breasts packed separately. Veggies are coated with wax to help prevent bugs and make them look prettier... and that wax often contains corn. One can see where I am headed with this.

I wish that corn and corn products were only found in food items but when I shop I have to read the labels on detergents, soaps, deodorants, household cleaning products, dog shampoos, toilet paper, medicines and so on. We have friends that have an allergy to wheat. I wish David had an allergy to wheat. Avoiding wheat is much more common. Individuals and families avoid wheat not just for allergy purposes but as a diet preference. It is easy to find "gluten free" items at the market in every aisle. I've only found one item that specifically says "made with out corn", but then it's in a list that also includes: soy, wheat and so on. That's ok, I'll take it.

Prior to corn allergy discovery (PCAD) I cooked from scratch for fun and because that's what my mom did. When time was of the essence however, I would occasionally pick up short cut meals such as frozen pasta with sauce in a bag and in the summer I purchased all our bread (we live in Texas and I made all our bread from scratch in the cooler months but hated running the oven in the summer heat). PCAD one could open the pantry, the fridge or the freezer and find these shortcut items. Now my pantry contains two short cut items that I purchase regularly and never make from scratch BECAUSE I DO NOT HAVE TO. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is corn free. (Who-da-thunk??) I've emailed Kraft and have had a response. Ingredients do change in products but David has not had a reaction to this product so we continue to purchase and eat it. And of course Kitchen Basics products.

Happy label reading!! Be diligent even with safe products as companies do change ingredients from time to time.