Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Food Products

Currently there is a big push to EAT basic HEALTHY foods and buy locally.  I definitely agree with that mantra but lets face it, sometimes convenience foods come to the rescue when you just can't manage it all.  My main objective is to find prepackaged foods that are not full of sugar, salt, and chemicals that you can't pronounce.  The least number of ingredients and natural ingredients.  If it says Yogurt, then milk better be the first ingredient and I avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup.  The most heavily used ingredients are listed in the first several slots in the ingredient list on the package.

Here are a few of my very favorite convenience foods that you might want to try.  I would love to know what you can't live without that doesn't contain a bunch of horrible ingredients ... leave a comment!

To reduce my dairy consumption (for pro-humane animal treatment - I don't have my own cow named Daisy) I switched to Almond Milk years ago.  I have found it can be swapped in baking without a taste or texture alteration.  If you like to chug milk in a glass with your Oreo's then I would recommend sticking to dairy milk.  The taste is just not the same, BUT a good substitute for that purpose is Silk Dark Chocolate PureAlmond Milk.  It is different but pretty darn good.  Coconut Milk is all the rage now and is basically equivalent in baking, but check the fat % before buying, sometimes it can be higher than Almond Milk.

I still have a weakness for dairy based Yogurt.  I have tried many different yogurts over the years and have found The Greek Gods Honey Flavored to be the absolute most delicious yogurt on the market.  It does have a higher fat % than some other comparable yogurts but this is my daily indulgence.  I pile it on my Oatmeal each morning and it is like butter on a cake.  It is my last dairy based item because I have yet to find anything non-dairy comparable.

I discovered several frozen faux meat products that even my husband loves!  My favorite veggie burger is Morningstar Farms Mushroom Lovers.  I've tried it seems every brand of frozen faux burger on the market but this is the only one that holds up on the grill and tastes BETTER than a grocery store meat burger.  If you like a big huge pile of meat, this will not satisfy you, but if you like a thin burger loaded with condiments, then this is the ticket.  The other Morningstar varieties are not as tasty.

Gardenin Crispy Tenders and Quorn Grounds, and Quorn Chikin Cheese Cutlets are abfab.  When you are enjoying your dinner, you can be relieved that this was never a factory farmed chicken or cow in a prior life.

I often match my faux meat with a side of homemade beans, salad, or to save time, grill some colorful veggies right in the pan with the frozen meat.

Making wise shopping decisions is your first step to improving your health and our planet.  Some faux meat products contain way too many weird ingredients so look at the label before purchasing.

May be eating meat free is new to you, so start with "Meatless Monday" and give some of my suggestions a try and comment on my blog as to what you thought!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Life Pledge #3

My Gus and Cesar fresh from the Animal Shelter.
Actually, this should have been my Pledge #1 because it has been my commitment for the past 15 years and I feel very strongly about it.

I Pledge to never purchase a pet through a Pet Shop, Breeder, or Online Seller.  I exclusively will adopt from a reputable Animal Shelter, Rescue, or by "discovery".  For the sake of not making this post too long, I am going to talk specifically about dogs but I feel even more strongly about cats. 

Wonderful hound, a typical breed found in local shelters.
Thankfully over the last decade, Animal Welfare groups have taken on the cause of shutting down inhumane Puppy Mills.  The battle is ongoing as is the battle for safe food, fair taxes, and the like.  There always seems to be someone making a buck that is fighting tooth and nail to continue their vice at any cost.  This is the case with Puppy Mill owners.  They will do anything to keep their cruel moneymaker bringing in the cash.

I have seen first hand the misery caused by Puppy Mills.  While the Director of a Humane Society located inside of a county owned kill Animal Shelter, there were many instances of abuse as a direct result of Puppy Mills and irresponsible Breeders.  Personally, until there are no more pets killed in U.S. shelters, I choose to not adopt from responsible Breeders as well.  It's simple economics... Why would I trade the life of a shelter pet for one purchased from a breeder?  I wouldn't. 

A "vicious" shelter Pitbull & PCHS Pres. Rita.
Let's get to the numbers.  You may think only small numbers of pets never make it out alive of Animal Shelter Agencies.  Think again.  In 2011 in the State of Virginia, almost 80,000 dogs and cats never found their new home.  Nationwide in the U.S. up to 4 million are euthanized each year.  The numbers are staggering and to think they have actually improved over the last decade due to the hard work by Humane Societies, SPCA's and dog Rescues Groups.

A growing trend is to hide the cruelity by selling pets on the internet masked by cute or heart wrenching websites.  You may think that "others" are doing their part and picking up the slack for your decision to adopt from an unknown online dealer -- NOT...  According to Wayne Pacelle, CEO and President of the HSUS, only 1 in 5 owned pets are adopted from a Shelter or Rescue.  More people need to face the facts and the numbers that animals are dying directly because of their purchase decisions. 

My sweet doggie Simba, my first shelter pet.
Being part of the humane movement for years gave me that first hand look into what is good and bad.  I can attest that Puppy Mills and breeders, breeding purely out of greed, diverted charity group resources toward animal rescue instead of animal prevention services.  Funds are always limited and can easily dissolve when animals are so mistreated that they require medical care at the charities expense.  Compound this problem with the arrival of 50+ abused and neglected Puppy Mill dogs and you are looking at a huge expense and housing problem.  Many agencies are already maxed out on both fronts.

While I was in the midst of pet madness as Humane Society Director, I often wanted to scream at the top of my lungs (and actually did) for people to take this issue seriously and NOT PURCHASE A PET but ADOPT instead!  Irresponsible breeding takes such a physical and mental toil on the good souls that are trying so desperately to help our little furry babies.  Kindness and love has totally disappeared from the souls of Puppy Mill breeders... it's time they were put to a stop and you can help by making thoughtful and humane purchase decisions. 

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