What is the Gluten in Gluten Free?

Over the last few years between the grocery store, restaurants and even beauty products - we’re seeing more and more Gluten Free labels. So although I have a brief understanding of what it means - I thought due to its increased popularity maybe I should break it down by starting with - what is GLUTEN... and what are the benefits of a Gluten Free diet and skin care.

Gluten is the generic name for certain types of proteins contained in common grains. Sounds complicated. So I’ll try to make it easier to understand.

The Big Three grains that contain these proteins are wheat, rye and barley. But contamination and cross cultures can affect oats too. Gluten is what gives grain products such as bread and rolls their shape, strength and texture, it is the elasticity of the dough. It can kinda be thought of as the glue that holds food together. A great example of this can be seen when shaping a pizza crust.

Let’s talk about going Gluten Free because you HAVE to for health reasons or you just WANT to for a diet to shed some pounds.

Some folks have an illness called celiac disease, in fact it’s estimated that one in every hundred people have this disease. It can cause uncomfortable even severe painful effects and digestive problems from eating gluten. So they must avoid gluten in their diets.

Many other folks have found a gluten free diet to be beneficial even if they do not have celiac disease. Results have ranged from weight loss and more energy. My Dad is a perfect example of going Gluten Free for a diet. Over the last year he has lost over 30 pounds and claims he feels more energized. Hey… if it works it works right~!

Now, here’s a curveball… People with NON-celiac WHEAT sensitivity can experience symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, which gets resolved when gluten is removed from their diet. However, they do not test positive for celiac disease. Oh Boy~!

For beauty products such as make-up, lotion and shampoo…  gluten can be found in the ingredients list but they use scientific names so it can be tough to decipher. The good thing about gluten is, the molecule is too large to be absorbed through the skin. BUT issues can arise for people who are ULTRA sensitive to gluten because it can be ingested through foundation, lipstick… basically anything around your eyes and mouth.

For labeling purposes, the FDA has issued a formal definition of gluten free stating that the product can NOT contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten.

Now many foods are naturally gluten free such as fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, dairy, beans, legumes, nuts and even rice and potatoes.  The use of the gluten free label is voluntary, BUT it does help consumers identify foods they may or may not want to buy. This is why you can find Gluten Free labels on things like water because it helps people make quick buying decisions while shopping. Plus it kinda sounds healthier doesn’t it?

If you feel like you may have celiac disease, please consult your doctor. Here's a link to the Celiac Disease Foundation for more detailed information: https://celiac.org

Hopefully you have a better understanding of what the Gluten in Gluten Free is… I know I certainly do.

Until next time, Be organic and be healthy.

Two Children Stricken with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy The Palm Family Needs Our Help

The Kat Hall Wiffleball Classic is much more than an event of family fun games & entertainment. Our goal is to raise funds for a local family in need. Here’s a look at our 2018 beneficiaries, the Palm Family. This is why we play. Whether you live near or far you can understand the dire need of the Palm Family. They are a family of six including two young boys suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a disease that has robbed the boys of a normal life and a daughter who has been diagnosed with severe Autism.

Watch their story and see how something as simple as a wheelchair accessible van can dramatically change the lives of the entire Palm Family. These two DMD stricken boys, Jack and Ryan can barely walk on their own and will be permanently wheelchair bound within the year. DMD has a life expectancy of late teens to early twenties. There is no cure.

Thank you to all the teams, volunteers, supporters and sponsors who make this possible each year. We appreciate you all. Learn more about the event at: https://kathallwiffleballclassic.com/

Can't make the event? Please help the Palm Family get the wheelchair accessible Van for Ryan and Jack . Your donation is greatly appreciated. https://www.paypal.me/KWiffleBallClassic

The Palm Family

Lisa and Rob have four children; Alexa (17), Katie (15), Ryan (13), and Jack (10). Katie was a typical child until around 18 months, when we had some concerns. She would not look us in the eye and stopped mimicking words among other things. She was diagnosed with severe Autism around the age of two. In addition, they were concerned about Ryan, as he didn’t walk until 18 months and by the age of three still couldn’t  walk up a stair or curb. After many doctor appointments, they eventually landed at the Neurology Department at CHOP where he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the age of three. Deciding they needed some good news, and confident Jack was not affected they decided to have him tested to rule out Duchenne - he was diagnosed at the tender age of thirteen months. Lisa and Rob were devastated to say the least. They had no idea how their lives would change or how difficult the years would become, from an emotional, physical and financial standpoint. 

Currently both boys must utilize their scooters to get around. Jack has worsened significantly over the past year, only able to take a few steps on any given day. It is heartbreaking to the family and friends to watch them deteriorate. But it is especially hard for the boys to have their independence taken from them in such a cruel way. And with no cure, we all know what the future holds period. 

Lisa and Rob are currently in need of a handicapped van so that they can get to and from their medical appointments, which are happening more frequently as the boys’ condition worsens. 

About Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy - Duchenne is a progressive muscle wasting disease. It results from a defective gene responsible for producing the key muscle protein, Dystrophin, without Dystrophin cells easily become damaged and die. Resulting in death due to heart and breathing failure. 

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is terminal - there is no cure. it is usually diagnosed prior to age five, maybe bound to a wheelchair by twelve.

Most do not survive past their mid-twenties.

The Truth About BPA

What is a BPA, where is it, and should we be concerned about it.

Let’s start with what is BPA. BPA stands for “Biss-Fee-Noll- A” which is an industrial chemical. It has been in use since the 1960’s to make various plastics and epoxy resins used to coat the inside of most canned food.  BPA has been speculated to interfere with the way our natural hormones behave. Babies and young children are said to be especially sensitive to the effects of BPA. Hence the decision in 2012 by the FDA to ban BPA in ALL baby bottles and sippy cups.

At the time of this filming The Food and Drug Administration’s most recent assessment is that BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods. Now… that may be true but for me personally, the less chemicals I put in my body the better.

During a typical day you can unknowingly come across BPA in water bottles, plastic food containers, and even canned food and drinks. Although cans are metal they are lined with epoxy resins containing BPA to keep the can from rusting. Dental devices and sealants can also contain BPA you may want to have a conversation with your dentist before the Novocaine.

The concern is that there is research that shows BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with this chemical. One broad sampling showed 93% of participants tested positive for detectable levels of BPA. Enough exposure can have ill effects on our memory and learning functions, sexual hormones and reproduction for both males and females, and should be especially concerning for parents as this chemical can affect fetuses, infants and children.

Here are some Ways to avoid BPA

1 - Look for the BPA-free Label when buying any type of water bottles, baby pacifiers, teethers, bottle tops and bottles, food storage containers, and other consumer plastics like tableware. When you can’t find a label look for the recycle code. Recycle codes 3 OR 7 have a higher likelihood of being made with BPA.

2 - Reduce Use of Canned Goods since most cans are lined with BPA resin. I have noticed a few cans at the grocery store labeled as BPA Free so you could seek those out instead.

3 - Avoid using any kind of heat with plastic containers. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences made us aware that microwaving polycarbonate plastics, putting them in the dishwasher or even leaving them in a hot car can make the plastic break down over time and allow BPA to seep into foods.

The best solution overall is to choose alternatives such as stainless steel, glass or porcelain containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers whenever available. For baby pacifiers and bottle tops silicone is the safer option.

When there’s the unknown… I prefer to side with caution. And since there are more and more readily available BPA Free products and alternatives out there… why not just play it safe.

Until next time, Be Organic and Be Healthy.

What's in Your Pillow?

Pillows are an important part of of our daily sleep patterns. We utilize them for head and neck support but did you know that they actually contribute to our overall health and environment.

Petroleum based polyester or urethane foams can diminish your indoor air quality.  The synthetic filling within these pillows can collect moisture and become a literal breeding ground for dust mites. Manufacturing these pillows also contributes to water and land pollution. Non organic cotton can have the same effect on our environment.

There are plenty of healthier options when it comes to your head rest and… they are easily available to buy. The most common and easy to find…  is feather... or down filled pillows.

Another great alternative for allergy sufferers is Kay-Pock filling, some may call it Java Cotton. Kay-Pock is a super soft silky cotton like fiber sustainably harvested from the rain forest and makes a comfortable natural fill.

Wool is also a great option. Choosing organically grown wool will ensure that there is no insecticide residue, just read the label carefully to make sure it is not treated with moth repellent because that can create a chemical fume that you probably don’t want to breathe in.

Buckwheat is often a doctor recommended pillow due to its body conforming ability and aptitude to resist dust mites, a huge benefit for allergy sufferers. Be sure the manufacturer has cleaned the hulls of the processed grain inside to eliminate lingering dust that can trigger allergies or asthma.

Lastly, there is a natural latex, derived from the rubber tree.  This alternative is firmer and provides more neck support. It also promotes responsible rain forest management as the trees that give us this material are tapped not logged.

Naturally, you will want to decide which material is best for YOU…  based on your sensitivity or allergies to any of the fillers... as well as take into consideration the various levels of support each one offers. Who would think pillows could get so personal?

Any of these five options will give you a healthier sleeping domain and are great choices for promoting a cleaner, safer planet.

I Want USDA Certified Organic Seafood... So How Can I Get It?

In today’s blog we are going to find out why it’s so hard to find organic seafood. I love Seafood  Why is there no USDA certified organic seafood? And how can a salmon with a “regular” organic label be two to four times the price of it’s farm raised pal laying beside it. You can Watch the Video Here:  https://youtu.be/TdtiQQfRV_0

Organic Roost

Here’s the scoop… Seafood is yet to carry a USDA Certified Organic label, but the good news is, that it’s on the horizon.

Going to the market for organic fish, will likely leave you disappointed. Either you realize it is non-existent or the limited selection is priced like it’s gold-plated. That’s because the only seafood with an organic label comes from Norway and other faraway European countries at this time… unless you’re watching this in Norway than it’s not so far.

The United States sees that the Organic demand is more than just a brief trend and have heard the cries to begin certifying seafood. And they are working on it. Really... they are!

Proposing standards for farm raised organic seafood is on the Department of Agriculture's agenda this year in 2015. They have begun reviewing the recommendations from the past ten years and are beginning to outline the certification requirements for seafood. Then it will be a matter of time before the practices of the fish farms are revised to meet the new USDA standards for Certified Organic labeling.  Among the U.S. seafood that could be covered are salmon, tilapia, catfish, shrimp, mussels, oysters and clams.

Some opinions of the farm raised seafood industry, or who I’ll call fish farmers, are that the cost of the feed alone will be so expensive that the market will not bare the price tag of organic seafood. Well, that will be for you, me and  the rest of the organic shoppers to decide though.

For now, when I want to enjoy some tasty seafood selections, I personally buy something that is Wild Caught.  Hey wait, you might ask, why isn’t Wild Caught seafood organic from the start? That’s a Great question. Unfortunately, there is just no way to monitor if that fish has eaten a 100% organic diet, therefore making it impossible to give wild caught seafood the official USDA Certified Organic Label.

Until then… Be Organic and Be Healthy

Wash Those Nasty Chemicals Off Your Produce With These Easy Tips

Today we are going give you three of the best ways to clean and remove the chemicals from your fruit and vegetables. Giving you a healthier, tastier experience.

Organic Roost

Have you noticed that an ordinary conventionally grown apple has a layer of wax on it that can be thicker than the actual skin? Well, the waxy part is very noticeable, but did you know that there are all kinds of invisible chemicals on the outside too? Most all conventionally grown food from apples to zucchini have been sprayed with herbicides and pesticides throughout its growing process. Then they’re dipped and sprayed again after they are harvested to prepare them for travel to your grocery store. Don’t misunderstand me here, Organic food can also have natural pesticides on them, and when removed, can make them taste much better too.

Cutting the skin off would work but in a lot of fruits and vegetables, that is where most of the vitamins and minerals are… what a dilemma. So if you want healthier, cleaner, better tasting fruits and vegetables try these options.

Option One - The Water and Vinegar Wash. this is economical and it proves your grandmother was right. Vinegar is a great natural cleaner for so many things, including your chemical coated produce. With a four to one ratio of water to vinegar, let your fruit soak from 20 minutes to one hour. Then rinse thoroughly with water. There is no vinegar taste left behind and you will be amazed - and a little grossed out from the dirty brown liquid that is left in the bowl.

Option Two - Homemade Lemon Spray. This is another do-it-yourself, natural method, using items you probably already have in your kitchen. You mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 cup of water in a clean spray bottle. Spray the fruit and produce generously, let stand for about 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. It’s that easy.

Option Three -A  Commercial Wash. These can be found on the shelf at your grocery store. On average, these washes cost about 5 to 7 dollars a bottle. You will need to follow the directions based on the brand you choose. Just be careful and read the ingredient list prior to purchase, make sure that the ingredients are natural. If harsh chemicals are in the wash itself, it kind of defeats the purpose.

Personally, I find the vinegar and water to be the easiest and cheapest solution.

These methods do take a little time, but like anything new, once you make it a routine and clean all your produce at the same time, it will become more efficient and much healthier than trying to scrub those chemicals off with a paper towel or brush in vain.

Don’t take the out of sight, out of mind approach to nasty chemicals on your food. Clean them, enjoy them and feel good about what you are doing for your body.

Be Organic and Be Healthy.

GMO’s & GE’s - Is There a Difference?

As we educate ourselves, we find there are a wide variety of terms to describe organic and conventional food. In this Blog we are going to delve into the difference between a GMO and a GE, no not the electric company... Genetic Engineering.

Since the 1990’s it has become very common for our food to be genetically engineered or GE for short. The FDA defines genetic engineering as “the name for certain methods that scientists use to introduce new traits or characteristics to an organism.” An example of this would be herbicide resistant corn or milk from cows injected with milk production boosting hormones. Not to be confused with a GMO, which stands for genetically modified organism. GMO’s have been around since the dawn of time.

Hold the phone how can that be true - I just started hearing about GMO’s in the last few years. Well the term GMO is quite broad. You see if two plants in nature exchange pollen via a bumble bee, the wind or a hummingbird, that is technically modifying an organism. Of course where the mass production of food is concerned, there is a very specific definition for a GMO, as we have come to know.

A GMO is the result of a laboratory process with test tubes, incubators, syringes and lots of trial and error along the way.

It’s kind of like asking you and your grand-mom to define a tablet, one will say a stack of bonded paper the other will say a thin touch screen computer. Both are right, but today, and for our purposes, when we say GMO, we mean the test tube version.

So there are differences in GE’s and GMO’s - they are subtle differences, but differences nonetheless. And these will come into play as they pass more labeling measures in upcoming years.

That is where NON-GMO’s come in. The Non-GMO Project has done a great job of promoting and labeling verified Non-GMO products. They are the official and only trusted label at this point that certifies NON GMO. But beware - there are also products that simply include Non-GMO, or “Natural” on their label and this is not regulated by anyone, essentially allowing any product to promote itself and appear healthier than it really is.

This is the Official Non - GMO Label

Let’s take a minute here to define why Non-GMO’s are not considered organic. It is because although not engineered or modified in a lab, Non-GMO’s  can be farmed with the use of synthetic pesticides, weed killers, growth promoting hormones, other drug and chemical residues and even human sludge, that’s right the stuff you flush can be taken from a waste water management plant and used as fertilizer.

Many want us to believe that they can’t possibly feed the population without GE’s and GMO’s, that is simply untrue in my opinion. The decision seems to be more about labor-less food and profit. Mass produced, insect resistant, growth promoting, chemical driven seeds and animal hormones brings the cost of our food down. But as more research is done about the ill effects of GE’s and GMO’s on our bodies and our long term health costs, along with the toll it takes on our environment, more countries across the globe are restricting or outright banning their use. To me, that speaks volumes.

Until next time, Be Organic and Be Healthy~!

What Does Organic Really Mean?

When you decide to live a healthier, greener lifestyle the first thing you will typically change is the food you eat. Going from either processed to natural foods or in most cases from conventionally grown to organic produce and meat. What does organic really mean though?  In the United States the Department of Agriculture created the National Organic Program.

This program defines that food which is grown or raised without any synthetic substances can be certified organic. In other words… less potentially harmful Chemicals, from seed to harvest. 

The specifics include restricting genetic engineering, GMO’s or ionized radiation processes in any stage of the growth or process of the food, that animals are raised without antibiotics or growth hormones, and crops are grown without the use of most chemically based pesticides, petroleum or sewage based fertilizers. 

What is a GMO you ask? Well, a GMO or (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Sounds bad for you from the start. 

Neither the National Organic Program or the United States government will state if organic food is in any way more nutritious or safer than conventionally grown or raised food, but there are plenty of scientists that will shout it from the rooftops. YES, organic food can provide more vitamins and minerals to better fuel your body and will prove, the absence of the pesticides, growth hormones and the like will keep harmful chemicals from taking a toll on your energy levels and your overall health. 

Until next time...Be Organic and Be Healthy~!