Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Breadman bread machine review

My husband gave me a Breadman Pro Bread machine for Valentines Day this year. I was excited to be able to make fresh bread so easily and we both agree that it’s also healthier than the store bought versions which have preservatives and typically other ingredients that we would like to avoid (i.e. high fructose corn syrup).

Everything was great for a couple months. I made bread about once a week and found a whole wheat recipe that we loved. It also made fantastic fresh bread that we loved with our spaghetti dinners. And it was so easy – just measure everything, liquids on bottom, yeast last and boom, in a few hours you have a lovely loaf of bread. However it soon stopped kneading on one cycle, then another. Since it was still under warranty, I contacted the manufacturer and they sent a replacement.

So the replacement came, a BR2500, so I prepped it and was excited about the delayed timer function. That night, I decided to make fresh bread to have for lunches the next day, so I set the delay feature to start about 3:30am. At about that time, I am awakened by a very loud beating noise, like someone beating metal with a heavy object. I was scared to death someone was breaking in our house. My heart pounding, I headed towards the sound and found it was the bread machine. I closed all the doors between our bedrooms and the kitchen (which reside on opposite ends of the house anyway). Still heard it, so I had to move it behind one more door into the laundry room and stuff towels under the door. I could still hear it, but at least it was faint enough I could go to sleep with a pillow over my head. Hoping for a fluke, I tried again on a different cycle, hoping for a different result, yet it was the same loud beating/grinding sound.

Needless to say, Applica (who manufactures this piece of equipment) got another email requesting a replacement for my replacement. Now, let me back up a second and mention that even though the bread machine is not working properly, they expect you to pay for shipping of a new machine to you, as well as pay for the shipping of the cord to them (with tracking no less). Applica received an earful for this. I was not about to pay for them to ship me a new machine, but I did ship them the cord the first time and got them to waive the shipping of the new machine. The 2nd time however, I was not going to spend another dime, so I requested a prepaid label to ship them the cord of the “new” bread machie.

I am currently awaiting my 3rd breadman. I am reallyhoping it will work. If not, I will put the Zojirushi Home Bakery Bread Machine on my wishlist. While the reviews of this machine on Amazon are not perfect, they are much better than the Breadman.

What do I want out of a bread machine? At this point, honestly, I would love one that just works. I will say the different size loaves, a delay setting, and the ability to customize are nice.

If I were to start from scratch and replace my bread machine today, I would consider these, in order of my preference:

Zojirushi Home Bakery Bread Machine. Definitely more expensive at $227 on Amazon, but this brand is clearly the Cadillac of bread makers).
Panasonic’s Automatic Breadmaker also gets good reviews and is about as affordable as the Breadman at $105, and there is another version with a fruit and nut dispenser.
Sunbeam (reviews are only slightly better than the Breadman, but it’s currently about $55 from Amazon.)
West Bend 2lb Bread Machine gets fairly good reviews as well and is affordable at $60
Cuisinart has an OK one, though the reviews to be put it only slightly over the Breadman

Watch for any Black Friday deals and near-or after-Christmas sales.

High Fructose Corn Syrup contains mercury

A new study shows half the samples tested contained mercury. This includes 1/3 of 55 popular name brands where HFCS is the first or second ingredient.

Mercury contamination is very harmful and toxic in all forms. It should be avoided. Pregnant women are advised to avoid certain fish because of high levels of mercury.

High fructose corn syrup is a synthetic sweetner that has replaced sugar in many items. It’s much cheaper than sugar, so is used by many companies in all types of foods and all kinds of brands. 

“Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,” said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies.

The use of mercury-contaminated caustic soda in the production of HFCS is common. The contamination occurs when mercury cells are used to produce caustic soda. So the good news is HFCS can be produced without caustic soda, the bad news is us consumers do not know if the HFCS containing products we are consuming are produced using caustic soda or not.

What can you do? Avoid HFCS. Read the labels, if it contains HFCS, put it back on the shelf. This is what I have done, even before knowing about the mercury contaimination.

We try to avoid sythetically produced ingredients in our house, opting for the safe and natural stuff. HFCS has also been linked to behavioral problems, but not sure anything has been proven there. Though I know several kids who were taken off HFCS and their behavior improved drastically with this change alone. Proof enough for me. 

Related Articles
Is Horizon milk really organic?
Grass fed beef is healthier
Is your organic food really organic

Is it safe to microwave plastic?

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Sentinel conducted a study on the safety of microwaving plastics. Surprisingly, BPA (bisphenol-A) was found to be leaching from many types of plastic, not just polycarbonate. And these plastic containers are labeled “microwave safe,” a claim that is commonly used yet not regulated.

“The amounts detected were at levels that scientists have found cause neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals,” the paper reports. “The problems include genital defects, behavioral changes and abnormal development of mammary glands. The changes to the mammary glands were identical to those observed in women at higher risk for breast cancer.”

Makes me glad I recently ditched my plastic for glass, and I usually remove the plastic lid before putting in the microwave and ensure no plastic is touching food in the microwave.

BPA was also found in the plastic trays of microwavable meals, microwavable soup containers and plastic baby food packaging. Even in plastics labeled #1, 2 and 5, which are generally considered safe and typically BPA-free.

This researcher simply states
“There is no such thing as safe microwaveable plastic,” said Frederick vom Saal, a University of Missouri researcher who oversaw the newspaper’s testing.

Related Articles
BPA free bottles, sippies and food storage
Baby products packaged in PVC
Canada bans baby bottles with BPA
BPA linked to chemotherapy resistance

Pregnant women told to avoid BPA packaging

I saw this article this morning. Good advice for pregnant & lactating women in avoiding the hormone mimicking BPA.

Pregnant women told to avoid BPA packaging
By Charlotte Eyre
03-Apr-2008 – A US health-advocacy group has warned that pregnant women should reduce their exposure to packaging that contains bisphenol A (BPA) to avoid passing the controversial chemical to their unborn children.

The warning, from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), will serve as yet more negative publicity for packaging companies, many of which use BPA when manufacturing polycarbonates for water bottles, canned soups and drinks, and baby food bottles.

“We don’t want to tell people not to eat canned beans or tomatoes,” said CSPI nutritionist David Schardt. “But at the same time, it makes sense for all parents, and especially pregnant and nursing women, to minimize the exposure of their kids’ developing bodies and brains to BPA.”

The group cites a scientific study published by the National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEH) in August last year, which warned that rats exposed to BPA experienced “a wide range of adverse effects”.

While the influence on humans has not yet been fully studied, the NIEH said that the changes in the animals indicated that BPA may provoke childhood health problems such as early onset of puberty, obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and urogenital abnormalities.

According to the CSPI, these findings are worrying enough to call for pregnant women to boycott packaging products containing BPA.

“In fact, the food industry could make life easier by phasing it out entirely,” Schart said.

Bisphenol A was first studied in the 1930s as a possible mimic of the hormone estrogen in women. The chemical was later developed to make clear plastics for use in the food industry.

Several scientific results have been conducted into the safey of BPA in recent years, and researchers have also linked it to adult health concerns, especially breast and prostate cancer.

In 2007, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) set a maximum limit for human daily intake of BPA of five milligrams per kilo of body weight per day, but stressed that more studies were needed to link the chemical with human health problems.

The Canadian government has also launched a study into BPA, the results of which are expected later this year.

Related Articles:

  • “Cheat sheet” of BPA-free sippy cups and bottles
  • Pregnant women told to avoid BPA
  • Today Show report on BPA & plastic safety
  • BPA may lead to health problems such as obesity and ADD/ADHD
  • Whole Foods private label canned food contain BPA
  • Canned foods and BPA
  • BPA is found in infant formula
  • Gerber baby food containers
  • BPA and other plastic safety
  • Z Recommends: The Z Report on BPA In Infant Care Products, Third Edition
  • Environmental Working Group: Guide to Baby Safe Bottles & Formula
  • Environmental Working Groups Report on BPA in Baby Formula
  • Breastmilk contains stem cells
  • Breastmilk cures
  • Can breastmilk cure cancer?
  • What they didn’t tell you about recent meat recall

    This is disturbing. Once again consumers are not being protected. I have to wonder how often this happens?

    What they didn’t tell you about recent meat recall
    By Stephen J. Hedges

    Chicago Tribune

    So why haven’t those products been recalled?

    They have been — very quietly.

    Nestlé, General Mills, Heinz and ConAgra each acknowledged to news organizations that they have recalled products containing beef from the meatpacking company Hallmark/Westland. Read more….

    Aunt Jemima Pancake & Waffle Mix recall

    I need to check my pantry. I think we have some of this mix. Yikes! 

    Business Week 
    March 4, 2008

    The Quaker Oats Co. said Tuesday it is recalling a limited number of Aunt Jemima Pancake & Waffle Mix products because of potential salmonella contamination from raw or undercooked ingredients.

    The company said a small quantity of Aunt Jemima Pancake & Waffle Mix: Original, Original Complete and Buttermilk Complete products are included in the recall. The recalled products are sold in 2 pound and 5 pound boxes with best-before dates of Feb. 8, 2009 through Feb. 16, 2009 stamped on the top.

    The company added that no illnesses have been reported.

    Quaker said any consumers with the recalled products can return them to the place they were purchased for a full refund.

    The company said it has identified the warehouses involved and is in the process of recovering any products that were potentially contaminated.

    Chicken recalled over bacteria scare

    Another recall I found today…

    By The Associated Press

    A New York company recalled nearly 7,000 pounds of chicken and meat products Tuesday while three other companies recalled another 16,332 pounds of a chicken product because the foods could be contaminated with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.

    Listeria is a microorganism that can cause serious or fatal infections in children, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. No illnesses have been reported to date, according to the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which sampled the products.

    Gourmet Boutique LLC of Jamaica, N.Y., recalled 6,970 pounds of 12 meat and poultry products, which each bear the production code GBD 08058 on the package. These products, which are mostly chicken but also include meatloaf and turkey, were sent to stores in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin, as well as distribution centers in New York.

    In separate announcements this week, three importers recalled 16,332 pounds of Discover Cuisine Red Curry Chicken & Jasmine Rice, with a best buy date of Dec. 18 this year, because the food also could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. This was sent to stores nationwide.

    This product’s recall includes 3,780 pounds from Inovata Foods of Alberta, Canada; 10,368 pounds from Costco Wholesale of Issaquah, Wash., and 2,184 pounds from Meijer Distribution Center of Grand Rapids, Mich.

    For more information on the curry chicken and rice recall, consumers can call Inovata at 780-454-8665 ext. 236. For more information on the recall from Gourmet Boutique, consumers can call 718-977-1200.

    Gorton’s Fish Recall

    Pills found in fish prompt Gorton’s recall

    The recall is for Gorton’s 6 Crispy Battered Fish Fillets

    Gorton’s Inc. recalled about 1,000 cases of frozen fish in 10 states
    Friday after confirming a Pennsylvania customer found pills in her food.

    Gorton’s said it ordered the recall as a precaution while a laboratory
    works to determine the nature of the pills. Those tests should be
    complete early next week.

    “Obviously product alteration is a very serious matter,” said Jud Reis,
    vice president of marketing for the company, based in Gloucester,
    Massachusetts “We are conducting a full investigation into the source of
    the problem.”

    Tracy Rowan of New Freedom, Pennsylvania, called police after she bit
    into one of the pills Sunday and found another on her daughter’s plate.
    On Friday, Reis said the material was some sort of pill, not compressed
    batter or bread crumbs.

    Rowan described the pills as beige and aspirin-size.

    “It’s kind of frightening to not only find something in your mouth, a
    foreign object,” Rowan said Friday. “But then basically my heart stopped
    when my daughter said, ‘I have one in my mouth, too,’ and pulled it out.”

    Rowan, her daughter and her 10-year-old son were checked in an emergency room, then reported the incident to local police. They haven’t gotten sick, and Reis said the company knows of no other incidents.

    Rowan said her daughter cooked the food and was adamant she did not
    alter the fillets.

    The recall is for Gorton’s 6 Crispy Battered Fish Fillets, 11.4 ounces.
    The UPC Code is No. 44400157770, with a date code of 7289G1 and a
    best-if-used-by date of April 2009.

    The fish was sent to nine other states: Alabama, Delaware, California,
    Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

    Consumers who purchased the fish can call Gorton’s at 800-896-9479

    Add Years to Your Life

    Four Healthy Behaviors Can Add Many Life Years
    AHIP Medical Affairs Issues Report
    February 13, 2008

    A study conducted in the United Kingdom looked at the impact of four lifestyle behaviors on mortality. Though the health effects of smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and fruit and vegetable intake have been examined separately in many studies, the researchers wanted to examine the effects of their combined impact.

    The study examined 20,000 white British men and women, age 45-79 years old, first surveyed in the 1990s. At baseline, the participants had no known cardiovascular disease or cancer. Participants scored one point for each health behavior: current non-smoker, not physically inactive, moderate alcohol intake (1-14 units per week), and fruit and vegetable intake of at least five servings a day (measured by plasma vitamin C levels). Participants were asked to complete a health and lifestyle questionnaire, and were examined by trained nurses at a clinic.

    After an average 11 year follow up and controlling for age and other factors that may affect the likelihood of death, results showed that those who scored four points (exhibited all four health behaviors) had one quarter of the mortality risk compared to those who scored zero points. This risk was equivalent to about 14 years difference in chronological age. Those who had a score of two were twice as likely to die as those with a score of four. The trends were strongest for deaths from cardiovascular causes, but there were also associated deaths from cancer and other causes.

    The authors noted that the differences in survival were also observed in people with existing chronic disease. They encouraged public health officials to use this information to educate people that modest and achievable goals have significant impact on health, even later in life and for those with chronic conditions.

    My personal comments: These 4 things are relatively easy, it just takes a little will power for some people. We all know smoking and excessive alcohol consumption is bad, and exercise and eating fruits and veggies are good. For me, it’s finding time for physical activity. I do have a 22 month old, so I at least have help in that respect, but I do not have time to devote 30 minutes to daily exercise. But I do feel pretty good that on most days I am hitting 3 out of 4 of these items.

    It’s also a great idea to go ahead and make this a part of your daily life as a parent and instill these things in your child so these will be natural habits for them going into their adult years. We do not keep “junk food” in our house (not to say we don’t have the occassional Oreo now and then) but to our 22 month old daughter fruits are sweets; and she also loves to chew on carrots, she will eat a big bowl of lima beans, and hummus dip is a daily staple. Some parents say “my child will not eat anything besides junk.” Well, if you don’t have it around to start with, I bet you they will eat the healthy choices that are put in front of them. 

    This article was published in the January 2008 issue of the PLoS Medicine journal and can be accessed by clicking here.

    Cloned Meat, It’s What’s for Dinner

    Ummm, this is pretty gross sounding. Cloning animals to produce more meat for consumption? If there is a shortage, I promise I will cutback! Maybe Hardees is to blame for using a pound of meat in their monster burger. Sure the FDA “says” it is safe to eat cloned meat, but they’ve been wrong before and we know a copy of something is never as good as the original. And maybe it really is safe and just as good for you, but again, cloned meat just does not make me want to run out for a burger. According to a national survey, 89% of Americans would like to know if the meat they are about to buy is from a cloned animal, so I am not alone in my sediments.

    It’s also disturbing that meat in the US is not traceable. That is one reason why I like Whole Foods Market. They guarantee traceability on their meat products. And it’s free of antibiotics and growth hormones, which is really key for my household.

    Here is the article:

    Cloned Meat: Is Dolly for Dinner?
    Company That Tracks Cloned Meat Wants to Pull the Wool From Your Eyes
    By Martin F. Downs
    WebMD Medical News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Feb. 14, 2008 (Boston) — Many consumers want meat produced by cloning to be easily identified as such. Now a company based in Ireland is promoting its system for tracing the meat of any cloned animal wherever it may go in the food supply. For this tracing system to work, however, the unique DNA profiles of clones must be publicly available.

    Patrick Cunningham, PhD, chief science adviser to the Irish government and a founding executive of the company IdentiGEN, advocated for open access to cloned animal DNA at this week’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston. Major chain stores and meat packers in the United States, he says, want to offer discerning shoppers certifiably “clone free” meat products. “They should have a right to do that,” he says.

    Cunningham says companies that clone animals should keep a library of “snips” of their DNA. That way, anyone wishing to screen for traces of cloned meat in food could ask a company like his to compare product samples with the genetic profiles of clones on file. Big retailers and food producers in Ireland and the U.K. now use IdentiGEN to certify other qualities of meat products, as well as to assist in safety recalls.

    In the United States, Kroger, Safeway, Dean Foods, and Whole Foods have considered marketing “no clone” meat.

    Mark Walton, PhD, president of ViaGen, a company that clones animals for use in agriculture, says he doesn’t think a DNA tracing system is justified. “It’s hard to imagine a scientific reason or a health reason that you would need to follow animals at all,” he says.

    FDA: Cloned Meat Safe
    The FDA has repeatedly assured American consumers that meat produced by cloning is safe to eat, and the agency says it will not require special labeling on food containing products of cloned animals or their offspring sold in the United States. Europe’s food safety agency has reached the same conclusion.

    Walton attributes consumers’ wariness of cloning to “the fear of the unknown.”
    The use of cloning for producing food is often misunderstood. For one thing, it probably won’t be used to make thousands of copies of an animal expressly for slaughter. A cloned cow now costs about $13,500, compared with the market price of about $1,000 for a normal steer.

    “Cloning technology is in fact a breeding technology,” Walton says.

    The process is called “somatic cell nuclear transfer,” which is how the famous sheep “Dolly” was cloned in 1996. Producers use this process to clone highly desirable breeding animals. For decades, farmers have routinely ordered semen from choice male animals to artificially inseminate their herds, but one prize stud can only produce so much semen. In theory, 10, 20, 100, or more clones of him increase the yield of his genetic material that many times.

    So the clone’s offspring is what will be most commonly eaten. That doesn’t mean people won’t ever eat clones, however. Even breeding livestock are sold for meat once they’re past their prime. At present, the food industry is supposed to be observing a voluntary moratorium on selling the meat of clones the U.S., but “it’s not illegal to put clones on the market,” Cunningham says.

    A national poll conducted in 2007 by the Consumers Union, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, found that 89% of those polled wanted labels to identify food containing cloned animal products. The Consumers Union opposes the use of cloning in agriculture.

    Labeling isn’t as simple as slapping a sticker on a steak that comes from a clone. Parts of a single beef cow, for example, can end up in countless different consumer products. DNA can be retrieved from meat even if it has been cooked, frozen, or processed in other ways. With genetic profiles, clones or offspring of clones could be detected in anything from soup to sirloin.

    Otherwise, it is very difficult to trace meat in processed foods back to specific animals. Unlike Europe and Canada, the United States does not have a system in place to trace the provenance of meat from farm to feedlot to factory to freezer.
    Walton says it could be years before cloning catches up with conventional breeding methods in terms of cost and becomes widely used, but it is being done today. He says his company has cloned about 400-500 animals in the past four years. “They’re out there,” he says.