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Tag: Nonna Joann Bruso

Drought Drives Up Food Costs; How to Stretch Your Food Budget

As my friend Nonna Joann Bruso predicted, we are seeing rising food prices as the effects of this summer’s drought conditions sink into the food supply chain.

Restaurants are responding by shrinking portions or raising prices, but the home cook needs to get creative to stretch the food budget. Here are some tips for making your food dollars go further.

Cook at home.quick easy healthy Dutch oven recipes

A great way to combat rising restaurant prices is to cook at home more often. Here, of course, I have to do a shameless plug for my Glorious One-Pot Meals cookbook because it introduces a quick and easy technique that makes cooking at home convenient, healthy, and delicious. Check out some video cooking demonstrations to see just how simple cooking this way can be.

Eat vegetarian more often.

Let’s face it, the most expensive part of a home-cooked meal is usually the animal protein. There is already a movement to have “Meatless Mondays,” but you can easily choose to go meatless three or four days a week to cut costs. Who knows, you might even see some other side effects like increased energy and weight loss. Here’s a delicious meatless recipe to try: Farmhouse Pasta!

Stock your freezer.

By loading your freezer up with fresh vegetables while they are cheap and in-season, you can enjoy vegetables all winter long without paying higher prices. Did you miss the harvest window for preparing and freezing your own veggies? Commercially-prepared frozen vegetables may often be less expensive than fresh veggies in the winter. Just make sure that your frozen veggies don’t have any additional additives, and you’re good to go.

Joann Bruso has been devoting a lot of blog space to making your grocery dollars go further, and I suggest you check out her Baby Bites blog for more great tips, suggestions, and recipes for making it through this coming winter of high food prices.

Do you have any tips to share for stretching your food dollars and still eating well and healthfully? Share them in the Comments below!

One-Year Old Happy Meal

My friend Nonna Joann Bruso is getting a lot of attention for her 1-year old Happy Meal from McDonald’s.

A year ago she purchased a Happy Meal and set it on the shelf in her office. Last week, she pulled it back out and snapped a photo of the meal that looks almost identical to the one taken when it was fresh and savory-smelling.

She was amazed that this “food” sat on a shelf for a year and didn’t attract mice or ants. It seems to have dehydrated more than decomposed.

It kinda makes you wonder what kinds of preservatives you need to add to make food not decompose, doesn’t it? Can you help but wonder what happens to your body when it absorbs those kinds of preservatives?

Embalmed from the inside out. Now there’s a disgusting thought.

fresh Happy Meal ~ March 3, 2009
Same Happy Meal Marcy 3, 2010
Same Happy Meal Marcy 3, 2010

How natural are “natural flavors”?

I’m always wary when I see a listing for “natural flavors” on an ingredient list. If it’s so natural, why don’t they just say “vanilla beans,” or “cola beans,” or “strawberries.” Because you often won’t find any trace of anything natural in an ingredient list for “natural flavors,” that’s why.

My friend, Nonna Joann Bruso, publishes an informative little e-zine about raising healthy eaters called “Baby Bites.” In her latest issue she lists all the ingredients that make up the “natural flavors” in a strawberry milkshake. Let me reprise it here for you:

Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, g-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.


Why oh why do companies think they can improve on nature by substituting natural foods for a  compound of more than 50 chemicals and derivatives? You’d think it would be a lot more work to develop this mixture than it would be just to do something really radical, like blend up some strawberries?

But even more horrifying to me is the utter lack of regard for the consumer of these chemical mixes. These ingredients include petroleum byproducts commonly used in products like nailpolish, tanning oils, perfumes, etc… Some of these ingredients, like butyric acid, are known to be cancer-causing, yet they are still included in this “natural” strawberry flavoring.

Even vanillin is synthesized in a petrochemical plant in China or Louisiana to mimic the flavor of real vanilla. Without the real vanilla, of course.

You can argue that you might receive a really small amount of these substances in a single strawberry milkshake. Maybe. But add up all the things you might be eating every day that contain artificial or “natural” flavors and colors, and that’s a lot of toxins to accumulate in your body. Soda pop, snack cakes, cheese-flavored crackers, maple-flavored syrups, mainstream ice creams, cereals, juices… need I go on?

My goal is always to stick to whole foods as much as possible to avoid these hidden killers, but when I do purchase prepared foods I look for labels that list fewer ingredients where all of them are easily identifiable. Unfortunately, the FDA allows companies to hide that ugly list above under the catch-all ingredient of “natural flavors.”

Now you know, though, and you won’t be fooled so easily.