Archive for July, 2014

MELT® Organic Love

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Cygnia had the pleasure of connecting with Mariya of Tahoe about why she loves MELT and how its been an essential part of her lactose- and gluten-free diet.

What health issues necessitated your search for healthier foods?

“I had painful stomach issues throughout college that I left undiagnosed because I was afraid of anything getting in the way of keeping up with classes, socializing, working, and eating at the cafeteria. I didn’t want to make my time in college any harder than it needed to be. As a result, I didn’t feel well during all four years in college and I didn’t take care of myself.

A couple of years after I graduated, I decided to get to the bottom of my declining health. By then, my symptoms extended well beyond the gastrointestinal stuff to other issues like anxiety, skin rashes, and a fear of food – every time I ate, I felt like I was going to make myself sick. I started seeing specialists and doctors and with the help of a Naturopathic Doctor I finally got to the bottom of it three years ago.

My Naturopath ran an allergy panel and found I am severely allergic to wheat, gluten, and yeast. I immediately stopped eating wheat, gluten, and yeast; my symptoms subsided for the most part, but I noticed I was still feeling sick when I ate dairy. Even though my allergy panel didn’t show a dairy allergy, I still noticed it was making me sick. My Naturopath confirmed many people suffering from prolonged, unaddressed wheat, gluten, and yeast allergies can develop a secondary allergy to lactose.

I have felt 1000 times better ever since I removed lactose from my diet.”

How do you like eating MELT?

“I am a meat, potatoes, and butter kind of girl – it’s the diet I was raised on, so my transition to a gluten- and lactose-free diet was hard. Three years later, it is much easier but I never found a butter substitute that tastes as good or is as versatile as MELT. MELT feels luxurious to eat and I LOVE it with my food where I haven’t LOVED other butter substitutes. I use on everything and it is awesome.

I use MELT wherever I use butter: gluten-free oats, baked acorn squash, corn on the cob, broccoli, all of my vegetables, gluten-free bread, quinoa… I use it on anything and everything I normally put butter on.”

Parting thoughts?

“I LOVE butter, but it just doesn’t work for me anymore. I have tried tons of other butter substitutes, but yours – bar none – takes the cake. It is amazingly delicious. I find myself craving it during the middle of the day. Thank you for creating such a good product!!! I am telling my family and friends.

I hope I see you guys in every grocery store I go into. I am a diehard fan – I have NEVER written a brand or a product rave. I was sitting at the table eating MELT by the spoonful when my boyfriend said, “You are addicted to that stuff.”  “I know I should just write them a letter and tell them.”  All I keep thinking is the grocery store better have MELT the next time I am there.

I want to help young people make healthier food choices for themselves so they don’t have to suffer for years and years. I want to help get the message out on products like MELT. You can eat healthier without sacrificing anything. It’s all there – the taste, the texture – so why not make a healthier choice for yourself?  I want to thank you and I am super stoked on MELT.”

David and Goliath: Long-Term Study Damming GMOs is Republished in Spite of Monsanto Pressure to Suppress Results

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

In September of 2012, the peer review journal Food and Chemical Toxicology published the most rigorous study of its kind (Séralini et al) evaluating the long-term effects of consuming Genetically Modified (GM) corn and Monsanto’s NK603 glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup on rats.

The results of this study were devastating for the biotech industry on several fronts.

“Significant biochemical disturbances and physiological failures”

The original study found severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances in rats fed both GM maize and low levels of Roundup below allowable limits in drinking water:

  • In female rats, all treated groups died 2 to 3 times more than controls and more rapidly than occurred in 3 male groups fed GMOs. Females developed large mammary tumors almost always more often and earlier than controls. The pituitary was the second most affected organ because the sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and Roundup treatments.
  • In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5 to 5.5 times higher than controls. Significant and severe kidney nephropathies were also generally 1.3 to 2.3 times greater. Males presented 4 times more large palpable tumors that occurred 600 days earlier than the control group.
  • Underscoring the inadequacy of 90-day trials, the first large detectable tumors occurred at 4 and 7 months into the study in males and females, respectively.
  • The effects described above occurred at the lowest doses studied (i.e., most observed effects were not proportional to the dose of treatment) but had a threshold effect at the lowest doses tested.
  • The effects described above occurred in residual levels of Roundup formulations found in contaminated drinking water falling well within authorized, regulated limits.

Study Highlights Inadequacy of Current Safety Testing 

No regulatory authority requires chronic (i.e., long-term) animal feeding studies to be performed for edible GMOs and formulated pesticides. The current approval process is based on animal feeding trials of only 90 days, which is an inadequate duration when chronic diseases in animals and humans do not usually manifest until mid-life.

Moreover, the newly emerging science of epigenetics demonstrates that endocrine systems can be seriously disrupted by the presence of chemical residues at concentrations as low as a few parts per billion. Chemicals like Roundup do not produce a linear response where the extent of exposure determines the biological response. Instead, residues well below legal limits cause serious disruptions; non-linear responses to glyphosate undermine the logic of an approval process based on MRL (maximum residue levels).

Lastly, the studies conducted by the biotech industry focus on one single active ingredient, such as glyphosate in Roundup, instead of the total chemical mixtures that are actually used in agriculture, thus under-representing the potential toxic effects on environmental pollution and human health.

Publication Buckles Under Biotech Industry Pressure, Study Republished Elsewhere

Sustained criticism and defamation by Monsanto scientists successfully forced the editor-in-chief of Food and Chemical Toxicology – A. Wallace Hayes – to retract the study in November 2013 in spite of rigorous peer review. The Séralini et al study was recently republished in Environmental Sciences Europe.

In the republished study, the authors explain the retraction was “a historic example of conflicts of interest in the scientific assessments of products commercialized worldwide… We also show the decision to retract [the original study] cannot be rationalized on any discernible scientific or ethical grounds. Censorship of research into health risks undermines the value and the credibility of science; thus, we republish our paper.”

The republished study contains extra material addressing criticisms of the original publication as well as the raw data underlying the study’s findings – unlike the raw data for the biotech industry studies that underlie regulatory approvals of Roundup, which are kept secret. The new paper presents the same results as before and the conclusions are unchanged.

Paper Subjected to Three Rounds of Scrutiny and Peer Review

Dr Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist based in London, commented, “Few studies would survive such intensive scrutiny by fellow scientists.”

The paper was first peer reviewed for its initial publication in Food and Chemical Toxicology, which passed with only minor revisions.

The second review involved a non-transparent examination of Prof Séralini’s raw data by a secret panel of unnamed persons organized by the editor-in-chief Hayes in response to criticisms of the study by pro-GMO scientists. In a letter to Prof Séralini, Hayes admitted  the anonymous reviewers found nothing incorrect about the results. However, Hayes argued the tumor and mortality observations in the paper were “inconclusive” which justified his decision to retract the study.

Even so, numerous published scientific papers contain inconclusive findings, including Monsanto’s own short (90-day) study on the same GM maize, and have not been retracted. The retraction was even condemned by a former member of the editorial board of Food and Chemical Toxicology.

The study passed a third peer review arranged by Environmental Sciences Europe, the journal republishing the study.

Dr Antoniou states: “The republication of the study after three expert reviews is a testament to its rigor, as well as to the integrity of the researchers. If anyone still doubts the quality of this study, they should simply read the republished paper. The science speaks for itself… If even then they refuse to accept the results, they should launch their own research study on these two toxic products that have now been in the human food and animal feed chain for many years.”

Dr Jack Heinemann, Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Canterbury New Zealand, responded: “This study has arguably prevailed through the most comprehensive and independent review process to which any scientific study on GMOs has ever been subjected.”

New Study Proves Organic Produce is Healthier than Conventional

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

“Is organic produce more nutritious than conventional produce?”

If you believe this is a rhetorical question, you are not alone.

A major new study from the United Kingdom published conclusive evidence demonstrating organic crops and the food made from them are nutritionally superior to their conventional counterparts. This landmark study corrects many shortcomings of earlier studies and puts to rest any doubts about the benefits of organic.

“This is a ground-breaking study [that] … should greatly help to dispel consumer confusion about the benefits of organic,” said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center (TOC). “The nutritional differences between conventional and organic crops have always been a much debated topic,” said Shade. “This significant study reevaluates the issue from a more inclusive, statistically accurate standpoint and strongly shows that organic fruits and vegetables have definite health benefits to conventionally grown products.”

An international team of experts led by Newcastle University analyzed 343 studies in the largest research effort of its kind. They found organic crops and organic crop-based foods are up to 60 percent higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. They also demonstrated conventional foods have greater frequency and concentrations of pesticide residues and toxic heavy metals than organic crops. This landmark report is to be published in the July 15 issue of the prestigious British Journal of Nutrition.

Every Mouthful Counts

Shade states the results of the study have meaningful real-world implications since the antioxidants found in organic crops have been shown to reduce risk of serious chronic diseases.

“Based on the findings of this study, if an individual were to switch from a conventional to an organic diet, they could have a 20-40 percent increase in antioxidants without a simultaneous increase in calorie intake. In other words, for the same amount of food, eating organic delivers a significantly higher dietary intake of healthy antioxidants,” said Shade.

Currently, dietary recommendations include consuming five servings of vegetables and fruits. Based on this study’s findings, beneficial antioxidants found in five servings of organic produce are equal to about one to two additional servings of conventionally grown produce, but without the exposure to pesticide residues and heavy metals.

The Newcastle study found significantly lower instances of pesticide residues and lower levels of Cadmium – a highly toxic metal – in organic crops. Specifically, the study found conventional crops were four times more likely to contain pesticide residues than organic crops. Exposure to pesticides has been found to affect brain development, especially in young children, and pose a greater risk for pregnant women and men and women of reproductive age. The study also found organic crops had on average 48 percent lower cadmium levels than conventional crops. Cadmium can cause kidney failure, bone softening and liver damage. It can accumulate in the body, so even low levels of chronic exposure are dangerous.

Refuting Earlier Studies, Clearing Up Confusion

Professor Charles Benbrook, one of the authors of the study and a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, said, “The findings of this study strongly support the existence of health benefits stemming from consumption of plant-based organic food and beverages. Our results are highly relevant and significant, and will help consumers sort through the often conflicting information on the nutrition of organic and conventional plant-based foods.”

The study from Stanford University released in 2012 set off a heated debate in the scientific and health worlds when it claimed organic foods were no healthier than non-organic. The Stanford report followed a 2009 study commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency that found no substantial nutritional benefits or differences between organic and non-organic foods.

“Where the other studies had failed …the key reason for the success of the Newcastle study in …identify[ing] concrete statistical differences between organic and conventional crops comes down to time and numbers,” said Shade. Since the publication of both studies, there has been more research on organic crops, thus more data to draw from. The Newcastle study analyzed 343 studies, with about 100 of those studies published in the last five years; the Stanford study analyzed around 200 research papers, and the earlier UK study looked at just 46 publications.

A recent survey by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) found eight out of ten U.S. families now purchase organic products. In nearly half of those families, concern about their children’s health is a driving force behind that decision.

“Parents are becoming more informed about the benefits of organic,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA. “[The Newcastle] study will do much to educate consumers even more and help them to make the best choices for their families.”

Best of the Summer Coleslaw

Friday, July 11th, 2014

I love enjoying homemade coleslaw year-round, but coleslaw is truly a quintessential summer potluck dish. What I love most about this recipe is the use of 3 types of vinegars for nuanced flavor and combining MELT® Organic Mayo with organic, plain, full fat yogurt in the dressing.

Felicity's perfect coleslaw

Ingredients

4 cups finely shredded organic cabbage

2 large grated organic carrots

½ cup thinly sliced organic red onion

½ cup MELT Organic Mayo

½ cup organic full fat plain yogurt

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Add the finely shredded cabbage, grated carrots, and thinly sliced onions in a large mixing bowl.
  • In a smaller mixing bowl, combine the MELT Organic Mayo, yogurt, vinegars, salt, and pepper and hand-mix with a spoon until blended together.
  • Add the dressing to the slaw in the large mixing bowl.
  • With clean hands, thoroughly blend all of the ingredients together so the slaw is evenly covered in dressing and the cabbage, carrots, and onions are mixed evenly.

Grilled Rosemary Sea Salt and Vinegar Beet Chips

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Instead of French Fries, try grilling these Rosemary Sea Salt and Vinegar Beet Chips as a colorful, flavorful, and more nutritious complement to your grilled meats and vegetables. Dipped in roasted garlic blended in yogurt, these beet chips are a fun change for grilling season. Leftover beet chips are excellent in mixed green salads tossed with chunks of Greek cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. Recipe inspired by Gina Matsoukas.

beetchips

Ingredients

2 large beets, thinly sliced (1/8th inch thickness)

Rice vinegar

¼ cup MELT® Organic, softened

Sea salt

For the dip

½ cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon roasted garlic

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

Directions

  • Slice beets to 1/8th inch thickness or less using a mandolin slicer or slicing mechanism in a food processor.
  • Place sliced beets in a large pot.
  • Add rice vinegar until just covering the beets. Bring to boil, turn off heat, and let sit for 15 minutes.
  • Warm up the grill griddle on medium.
  • Drain the beets completely. Wipe down the large pot with a  paper towel to remove moisture, add the softened MELT Organic and transfer the beets back into the large pot. Toss the beet slices with the MELT Organic until completely covered.
  • Add the beets in a single layer to the griddle. Fry the beets on each side until they start to crisp up. Repeat with the remaining beet slices.
  • Place the beet chips in a large mixing bowl and toss with sea salt and a spring of rosemary.
  • Transfer the beet chips to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve warm.

For the dip

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix together.

Note:

Rosemary Sea Salt and Vinegar Beet Chips are easily baked as well. Lay the MELT-ed beets on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 40-45 minutes, flipping half way through. Remove the beet chips as they crisp up and brown, since some will be done before others.

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