Archive | October 2014

Internship at OEFFA

I’ve just started volunteer work for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association (OEFFA).  I’ll be doing office work and learning about organic certification of Ohio farms.  Even though I’m not being paid, I’m still happy to be working in my field.  Maybe I’ll have an opportunity to gain connections, and maybe a paying position will open at OEFFA.

Foods Banned in Other Countries that are Still Allowed in the U.S.

If you still had any doubts that the current FDA cares only about profits and not your health, those doubts will soon be erased.  Here are 10 foods that are so potentially dangerous for humans that other countries have banned them…and yet they’re still sold in this country.

1. Farm-raised salmon, which is full of antibiotics, drugs, and chemicals, and may be infected with fish viruses.  Banned in Australia, New Zealand, and Russia.

2. Genetically-engineered papaya.  Banned in the European Union.

3. Ractopamine-tainted meat.  Ractopamine is a drug given to livestock to enhance muscles and reduce fat content in meat.  Unfortunately, not only is it linked to loss of reproductive function and increase in disability and death in dairy herds, but it also may cause behavioral changes, chromosome abnormalities, and and hyperactivity in humans.  Banned in 160 European countries (including Russia), mainland China, and Taiwan.

4. Brominated vegetable oil, which was originally patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant.  Now it’s used in citrus-flavored sodas and sports drinks!  It’s also linked to problems in the human body, from rashes and acne to major organ damage, birth defects, and even schizophrenia.  Banned in Japan and 18 European countries.

5. Processed foods with artificial food coloring and dyes.  These foods include macaroni and cheese, Jell-O, and kids’ cereals.  The additives have been linked to behavioral changes, birth defects, cancer, and allergy-like reactions in children.  Banned in Norway and Austria.

6. Arsenic-laced chicken.  Believe it or not, arsenic, the traditional poison of murder mysteries, is used to make drugs that cause growth in chickens, as well as making the meat appear pink and fresh.  I truly wish I was kidding, and I don’t think I need to go into the negative effects here.  Banned in the European Union.

7. Bread enriched with potassium bromate, which commercial baking companies claim makes dough more elastic.  Unfortunately, it’s also been linked to problems in the kidneys, the nervous system, and the thyroid, as well as cancer.  Banned in Canada, China, and the European Union.

8. Olestra/Olean.  This is a fat substitute used in fat-free snacks such as potato chips, and it may cause intestinal problems such as diarrhea and cramps.  Banned in the U.K. and Canada.

9. BHA and BHT, which are preservatives found in beer, breakfast cereal, butter spread, mixed nuts, dehydrated potatoes, and chewing gum.  BHA, known to cause cancer in rats, triggers allergic reactions and hyperactivity in humans.  BHT may result in organ system toxicity.  Banned in the European Union and Japan.

10. Dairy products full of rBGH.  This is a synthetic version of a natural hormone in cattle used to increase milk production.  Not only does it cause adverse health conditions in cattle and contaminate milk, but it’s been linked to cancer in humans.  Banned in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, the European Union, and Canada.

Are you disgusted and outraged?  I know I am.  See the link below for more details:

Fresh & Creamy Guacamole

A delicious-sounding guacamole recipe–I’ve made guacamole of my own before, but I’d be interested in trying this.

nom and nom

Not much beats the freshness of hand-made guacamole. If you have 10 minutes and a handful of simple ingredients, this green beauty can be yours to dress up your tacos, salads, sandwiches, or chips!

Guacamole! Guacamole!


1 1/2 Persian limes, juiced

3 Haas avocados, peeled and pitted

Handful of cilantro (smaller stems are okay!)

1/3 yellow onion

1 large clove garlic, peeled

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp Kosher salt


Combine all ingredients in a food processor, pulsing to achieve the level of creaminess or chunkiness you prefer. I use (and adore) the Ninja Master Prep system. Serve fresh or chilled. Great with chips, on tacos, or as a tasty garnish to enchiladas or soups.

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Microwave Spaghetti Squash

I had quite a hard time with this spaghetti squash recipe.  The original recipe said to cook the squash in the microwave without cutting it in half, but because the squash was so big, it seemed to take forever to get it to soften.  Finally, my mother and I came up with a solution: soften the squash until it’s soft enough to cut in half, then microwave each half for three minutes on each side.

1 spaghetti squash

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 small clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 lb. mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/3 c sliced green onions

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese

Pierce squash all over with a sharp knife.  Place on 2 paper towels in microwave.  Microwave on high about 15 minutes, rotating the squash 3 times during cooking, until you can leave an impression on the squash surface by pressing it with your finger.  Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle.  Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds, and place each piece of squash on a microwave-safe dish.  Microwave each piece for three minutes on each side.

Place oil, garlic, and oregano in 2-quart microwave-safe casserole.  Microwave on high 1.5 to 2 minutes until oil is hot.  Add mushrooms and green onions; cover loosely with waxed paper.  Microwave on high 2 to 3 minutes, stirring once, until mushrooms are just tender.  Stir in salt and pepper.

Using a fork, remove the flesh from the squash shell (it should come out in spaghetti-like strands) and add to mushroom mixture.  Toss until coated with oil.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Farfalle with Roasted Garlic and Eggplant

This is a recipe my mother cut from the Columbus Dispatch in 2007.  We’d been growing eggplant in our garden that year, so we tried out a bunch of recipes.  This was our favorite.

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 small or 1 large eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices

Salt and pepper

1 head roasted garlic

1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 lb farfalle (bow-tie pasta) or rigatoni

3 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Brush 2 Tbsp of the oil onto both sides of the eggplant slices; season with salt and pepper.  Place on 2 baking sheets, making sure the slices don’t touch.  Roast until browned, 20 to 25 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, dice.

Squeeze the roasted garlic into a large serving bowl with the remaining Tbsp of oil, mashing to blend.  Stir in the tomatoes, basil, eggplant, 1/2 tsp of salt, and pepper to taste.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender but still firm to bite.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.

Add cooking water to sauce as needed to loosen sauce.  Serve over pasta.