Saturday, July 13, 2013

The GMO-Free Revolution has Reached the U.S.

Of course, the mainstream media has nothing to stay about it, but The Oregonian at least disdained to report on it on their Web site. And the blogsphere has blown up over it. I'm talking about GMO fields being systematically destroyed by fire in Oregon, which the FBI calls "economic sabotage" and even DOMESTIC TERRORISM. Really? So, what exactly does the FBI call the systematic destruction of honeybee colonies around the world, which is threatening the global food supply? Oh, right. It's called "Colony Collapse Disorder" because calling it "Death by Design" isn't as marketing ready. You see, bees, in Monsanto's eyes, have the potential to carry pollen from their genetically-modified crops over to neighboring crops, resulting in cross-pollination and - GASP - completely unintentional copyright infringement. Why should a world power like Monsanto care if honeybees are dying off (though, take what you read on the USDA's site with a grain of is being run by a bunch of Monsanto cronies. I use the USDA as a source because at least Monsanto is putting up some sort of front about tackling the problem)? They're probably already in the process of designing a product that can "replace" the honey bee.

 Despite their efforts the media has not been able to prevent us from catching wind of what's happening to GMO crops around the world. The people have spoken, and now the States are joining in with the chorus. The jig is up, Monsanto. Your products are killing off the world's honey bee population, and we need the honey bee. A LOT.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Crock Pot Lasagna

I don't remember exactly where I got the idea to make lasagna in my Crock Pot, but I'm sure it came from the Internet. Well, I did it first a few weeks ago, posting but a couple of teaser photos on my Facebook, and the feedback was all positive. So this time I took photos of the process. You're welcome.
Disclaimer: I used an additional can of tomatoes that isn't pictured.

This method of cooking lasagna is so easy that you, like me, will never make it in the oven ever again! And p.s., if you aren't already using Crock Pot Liners, you're doing it completely wrong. Plus, way healthier than the pre-fab lasagna you get in the grocery store. I took the opportunity to add carrots, which cook down to tender little salty/sweet morsels, and onions, which are essential for flavor. I just now realized that I didn't put any garlic in the recipe! Oh well. Still delicious. And I'm sure there was some in the sauce and the sausage. I did sneak in a bit of this, though:

It's my favorite spicy go-to: authentic Hatch Red Chili powder

So, for those of you who need it spelled out (no hate, I love you anal types!), here it is:

Crock Pot Lasagna

1 lb ground sausage or beef
1 small onion (I used 3/4 of a medium one)
2 carrots (optional, but highly recommended)
Handful of black olives (optional - they were in the fridge!)
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 jar marinara sauce
1 cup shredded Parmesan
3-4 cups shredded mozzarella (I love cheese....)
Lasagna noodles (approximately 9, broken to fit)
Additional spices to taste

Brown meat in cast iron skillet until fully cooked. Dice onion, carrot, olives and any other veggie you wish to incorporate (experiment!! The first time I made it I used spinach, and it was great. As far as I'm concerned, there are few slow cooker recipes to which you cannot sneak in some additional veggies), add to skillet, mix, let cook for a few minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Line your slow cooker, or coat with cooking spray if you don't know about liners yet (seriously, go get some). Start with a layer of tomatoes and marinara sauce, then cheese, then noodles, then meat mixture, covered in more tomatoes and sauce, cheese, noodles, etc., ending with noodles, heavy tomatoes/sauce and cheese. Cover and cook on High for 3-4 hours, uncovered for the last 30 mins or so to let some of the excess moisture out.

This was obviously a huge hit at my house. You really can't go wrong with meat and cheese and pasta, nor with the Crock Pot. It's super delicious, and will make your mouth start watering after about the second hour of cooking. If you're still in the house, of course. The beauty of slow cooking is being able to do other things while your food is cooking.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Polls Show: Everyone Wants GMOs to be Labeled

According to ABC News, 90 percent of Americans want to know whether or not the food they are eating has been genetically modified. While there is no conclusive data showing that GMOs are bad for human health, health is not the entirety of the issue. Full disclosure is the issue, and it's this writer's opinion that knowledge is power. Consumers should be fully informed about what they're putting into their mouths, but so far, Monsanto is winning the battle against full disclosure.

But public opinion and outcry aren't going to change just because Monsanto was, essentially, granted immunity from prosecution for any possible consequences their genetic horseplay causes. Monsanto is dead set on controlling the food supply for the entire world, it seems, even though the data doesn't back up their claims that GMOs increase productivity. According to the Rodale Institute, which conducted a 30 year study of organic and conventional farming methods, GMOs do not do what Monsanto wants us to think they do:

In a 30-year study that pits organic farming against conventional farming (including genetically modified (GM) farming starting in 2008), organic practices outperformed conventional practices leading to higher yields and higher net incomes for farmers.

The above is quoted from this article on KSL. So, that being the case, why, OH WHY, are we still having this debate? Oh, that's right, because money talks. Don't believe me? Why don't you just go ahead and find out who is heading up the FDA these days. You don't really have to, though, because I looked it up for you. His name is Michael Taylor, and he was appointed to the position by President Obama in January 2010. Guess what his employment history looks like? He was a lawyer, then a lobbyist, for (you guessed it) Monsanto. Shocked? Yeah, me neither.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Disappearing Honey Bees

Ingredients Magazine covered Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in Issue 7, Winter 2012 , and it was bad enough then. Unfortunately, it turns out that the problem is getting worse. This year, there is a serious shortage of bees available to pollinate the almond blooms in California, and that is a serious threat to the entire world's almond supply. The above article from Occupy Monsanto puts it thusly:

"Bee brokers, beekeepers and almond growers around the state say there’s a shortage of healthy honeybees for this year’s pollination, especially after colony collapse disorder took a higher toll this winter. "

Which spells trouble for more than just the almond growers. Without bees, we don't have any fruit, vegetables or flowers anywhere. Now, we can speculate all day about what the true cause of CCD is--personally, I'm on board with what a friend of mine said in reference to the issue today on Facebook: that's what happens when plants make their own pesticides--but arguing isn't going to get us anywhere.

So let's just face it: the majority of crops that bees are exposed to on a large scale have been genetically modified to one end or another, most likely specifically to ward off a type of bug that just won't be stopped any other way. And even if the plant itself isn't a GMO, chemical pesticides and fertilizers used to grow it aren't good for you, and either form of manipulation is definitely not good for the honey bee. 

There are things that you can do to help the honey bee, though, and the really good news about that is the ways in which you can help them enable them to help you! This article in particular, from Mother Nature Network, outlines some really simple ways in which you can make your garden honey bee friendly. Bonus! Annoying buzzers like wasps and yellow jackets aren't attracted to bee-friendly plants. My husband is going to be happy about that :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

As if We Needed Further Proof...

...that corporations and their money mean more to elected representatives than the health and safety of their constituents, Food Democracy Now reports that the Monsanto Protection Act has been passed by the Senate. Anthony Gucciardi from InfoWars breaks it down for us:

"Monsanto would have complete immunity from federal courts when it comes to their ability to act against any new Monsanto GMO crops that are suspected to be endangering the public or the environment (or considered to be planted illegally by the USDA). "

No, this is NOT a joke. And, sadly enough, this is not the first time that corporate interests have won out over individual interests in Congress. Basically, this act is going to make Monsanto exempt from prosecution in the very-likely case that one of their GMOs causes public and/or environmental damage. 

It's up to the President at this point to do the right thing and veto this ludicrous example of government corruption. 

UPDATE 3/28/13: Well, the President let us down, and no one is happy about it

If you're still confused about the whole GMO thing, check out Shad Enkilterra's GMO article in the Winter 2013 issue of Ingredients Magazine.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Black Bean Christmas Chili Enchiladas

I've been on a real cooking kick lately, and it has resulted in some really awesome, and pretty healthy meals for my family. Today's adventure was originally planned as another crock pot recipe, but I ended up doing it in the oven instead.

Here's the thing about me and recipes: I'm not so good at following them. I made crepes this morning, for example, and while I referenced the Betty Crocker recipe, I pretty much went by memory and improvised some things (personally, I like a bit more butter and sugar in mine). Perhaps it is just my stubborn nature, but for the most part I only read recipes for inspiration. My father is the same way. These Black Bean Christmas  Chili Enchiladas are the perfect testament to that. I found a recipe for Crock Pot enchiladas that looked intriguing, so I bought the ingredients, then ended up putting them together for the oven instead.

Confession time: They're filled with canned ingredients. You could probably go all out and prepare everything from scratch if you wanted to, but why would you? I even found canned Black Beans with Jalapenos for extra flavor. I served them with homemade Mexican Rice (have I mentioned that I love my rice cooker?) and canned, no-fat refried beans. I'm calling it a win!

Okay, so here they are before the mandatory covering of deliciously melty cheese
That dusting of New Mexico red chili powder gives them an unexpected kick!

Christmas Black Bean and Chili Enchiladas 

1 can black beans (with or without jalapenos), drained and well-rinsed
1 can corn kernels, drained
Handful of sliced black olives (however many you like, really)
1 can green diced green chili, drained
1 can white chicken breast (or, one cooked and diced boneless chicken breast)
1 large can Green Enchilada Sauce (pictured above: mild)
Red chili Powder (not to brag, but mine is authentic from Hatch, NM)
Shredded cheese (I like a Mexican blend)
12 Tortillas (pictured above: flour. Corn works too, though you may need more than 12 to fill a 9 x 13")

Mix canned beans, corn, olives, diced chili, chicken and a handful (I'd say it was between 1/2 and 3/4 cup) of shredded cheese in a large bowl. Pour a small amount of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a foil-lined 9 x 13" baking dish (mine's Pyrex). Fill each tortilla with a generous amount of the filling and roll; fill pan, then cover in remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle red chili powder evenly, according to your desire for spicy goodness. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, then cover in tin foil. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Remove tin foil and broil for 5 to 10 minutes to crisp up the cheese at the end of baking.
Result! So. Much. Deliciousness.

Prep time: 20 - 30 minutes
Bake time: 1 hour + 5 minutes

This pan is going to feed us dinner at least twice, and I'll be eating good lunch at work this week! I love enchiladas a lot for all of the above reasons. Plus, Mexican dishes like this only get better with time in the refrigerator. 
Seriously delicious. Aside from making the sauce from scratch, I'm pretty sure these could not be improved upon. And, with a filling made mostly of beans and veggies, the argument can be made that this recipe should permanently replace my very favorite Chicken Sour Cream Enchiladas, which are delicious for all the wrong reasons (hint: it's sour cream). 

So, are you like me? Do you make stuff up as you go? Well, why not write it down and send it to If it's good, we may just publish it in an upcoming issue of Ingredients Magazine!

Monday, February 4, 2013

School Lunches

It's no secret that the food options in school cafeterias are often lacking nutritional substance. When I was a kid, school lunches were most often something fried, pizza, pasta or some other type of starch. In the 20 years since I was in elementary school, I gather that there has been little improvement in the selection. So, I am both glad and sad that steps are being taken to make school lunches more healthy. I'm glad because it's about time, and sad because it hasn't happened sooner. There is no bigger killer in this country than obesity, and it gets our kids while they are still too young to know better. It's up to us parents to make sure our kids are putting good stuff into their bodies, but we cannot do it by ourselves. We need our community's support, and that starts with schools. It's good to see that we are, at least, making progress.