Things Are Getting Heated

A local homeschooled brings up some great points in her blog about environmental issues.

Think Green

We use hot water everyday, probably without a thought. But, the heating of water can be a huge factor in the inefficiency of your home.

First, traditional water heaters:
The good–By buying a $20 dollar insulating jacket for the heater, you can save $45 dollars a year. Also, a heater of the same design run by natural gas will only cost $4,000 in its life span.
The bad–A traditional water heater run by electricity can cost up to $6,000 dollars in energy use by the end of its life span.
The ugly–Even with the jacket, a traditional heater (natural gas or not) wastes significant energy by having to keep a large amount of water hot throughout the day. And in a large household, this water can run out before everyone is finished showering. This is the least eco-friendly water heater.

The solution:
Tankless instant water heaters. These…

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Better Living Series

        I’d like to share information from my Introductory Class for the Better Living Series that I’m currently offering at Health Touch in Durham. This series is created to help people make lifestyle changes that will bring wellness to their families. We touch on the problems with the current food system and why it is important to take an active roll in knowing what is in your foods, where it comes from, how it is grown and processed, and how all these things can effect how your body responds to eating it. We also delve into how the industrial food system, that has been driving our laws related to food and how it is produced, is destroying our environment, our health and our connection to the Earth. This “instant gratification” model has diminished the importance of preparing foods at home, making that task seem menial and has banished the “domestic goddess” to a roll which no intelligent woman would want to assume.

“Since WW2 and the late 1930’s America has been driving towards easier, faster, and ready-made foods. With the convenience of packaged foods came a loss of taste and nutrient content. The past 70 years has seen a rapid increase in health problems that weren’t seen at these levels prior to this food “revolution”. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases have increased and been reported in younger and younger people.

Another issue with the change to convenience foods from homemade meals is the environmental impact and the toll it has taken on our Earth and bodies. Many bioaccumulating chemicals have made their way into our environment and bodies including PCB’s, BPA, pesticides and herbicides. These not only harm us but all living being in our fragile ecosystem we call Earth.

All of this is connected, the food choices we make not only effect our health but the health of our environment. They determine the economic health of our community or the corporations we support by buying their products. By making conscious choices about where we purchase our food, what we purchase, and how we prepare our meals we determine not only our fate but the fate of our community and our planet.”

        As a woman who at one time had a well paying career as an engineer, I can relate to the attitude about “women’s work” and spending my days in the kitchen. Although, I cooked for myself as a single woman, I also spent a lot of time eating “healthy” processed foods and out at restaurants. Once I became pregnant with my child, something changed within me and I started realizing that I needed to become an educated consumer. I began researching all of the preservatives and additives found in my food and what affect they had on my body. I also found ways to start preparing more of my foods from scratch and preserving foods myself. As my child grew and my knowledge expanded I began learning about fermented foods, enzyme rich and full of nutrients, that have been used for centuries to maintain freshness in food without refrigeration. I dappled in the world of raw foods when I hit my 40th year and learned that my body would likely be needing more enzymes that it wouldn’t produce anymore but could be found in certain foods. The decade that I’ve been on this journey has taken me from a woman who identified with a career, to a woman confident in her ability to maintain health in her family through the work I do in my kitchen. My kitchen has replaced the manufacturing floor and my office is now my dining room table. I have to say, the pay isn’t great but the reward far exceeds anything I could have imagined. Here is an excerpt from the same class discussing why eating “Real Food” is important.

Why is it important to eat “real food” instead of processed, highly refined foods?

Many ingredients used to keep processed food looking and tasting “fresh” have been found to cause illness. A few examples are:

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) – excitotoxin, a substance which overexcites cells to the point of damage or death, it can also cause asthma attacks and gives me a racing heart
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) – effects the neurological system of the brain, alters behavior and has potential to cause cancer
  • Aspartame – neurotoxin and carcinogen, changes into formaldehyde in the body and has been linked to migraines, seizures, vision loss, and symptoms relating to lupus, Parkinson’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. (See tpzoo.wordpress.com link)
  • High fructose corn syrup – contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage, among other harmful effects (I have personally watched this cause behavioral changes in children.)
  • Sodium nitrate/sodium nitrite – highly carcinogenic
  • Sulfur dioxide – bronchial problems particularly in those prone to asthma, hypotension (low blood pressure), flushing tingling sensations or anaphylactic shock
  • Potassium bromate – known to cause cancer in animals; linked to kidney failure and cell deterioration
  • Propylene glycol – industrial uses include automotive antifreeze and airport runway deicer

So, now you are wondering where to find these “real foods”. Well here’s more information from my first class to answer that question.

What are “real foods”? According to the 100 Day Real Food Challenge folks, and my twist on it, real foods are:
1. Foods eaten in as close to their natural state as possible.        
Fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, whole grains
2. Foods found on the perimeter of the grocery store.
3. Foods with ingredients you can pronounce.
4. Foods you prepare yourself from scratch.
5. Foods created by Mother Nature, not technology. (This is really reiterating number 1 but it’s that important)

Here are some resources that shared in my introductory class, if you want to do more research on this topic yourself. If you find others, please share them in the comments section.

Books
In Defense of Food, Botany of Desire and The Omnivore’s Dilemma – by Michael Pollan
Fast Food Nation -by Eric Schlosser
Nourishing Traditions – by Sally Fallon

Websites
Radiant Wellness – http://www.radiantwellnessnc.com
100 Days of Real Food – http://www.100daysofrealfood.com
Environmental Working Group – http://www.ewg.org
GAPS website – http://www.facebook.com/GAPSDiet or http://www.gutandpsychologysyndrome.com/
Gerson Therapy – http://www.gerson.org
The Zoo Blog – http://tpzoo.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/the-top-12-harmful-food-additives-you-need-to-eliminate-from-your-diet/

Documentaries
Fast Food Nation (also a book by Eric Schlosser)
Food, Inc.
Food Matters
Forks over Knives
Food Fight
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Sugar, The Bitter Truth
The Gerson Miracle

To your health and happiness,
Ursula

Eat to Live

        While doing research for my upcoming classes (radiantwellnessnc.com/classes.html) I hit upon an idea that I must share. I’m sure it’s not a new idea and I’m sure I’m not coining a phrase but we need to eat to live. What I mean by that is that the modern lifestyle, that has been in existence since well before my beginning, has ease and efficiency at it’s core. Instant gratification, to be precise. The idea of spending hours in the kitchen preparing, processing and cooking foods to sustain us is downright offensive to many people. Who wants to do that? When all I have to do is run to the nearest grocery store and pick up packaged foods that are just as tasty and nutritious. After all, there are scientists behind those boxes and bags of food who have done extensive research in how to keep people healthy, right? Hmmm, well, I’m not so sure about that.

        First of all, food is big business. Look at how many different options we have these days compared to just 20 year ago, and especially 40 years ago. Grocery stores are huge now, with all kinds of various flavored goodies for us to purchase and consume. There are billions of dollars spent on marketing foods and a lot of that money goes to marketing companies who also employ the help of psychologist to understand human nature and what will pique our desires. There are pictures of lovely farms, animals grazing in open fields, happy farmers with sparkling tractors, fun cartoon characters, and words that make us feel safe and assured that our food is coming from somewhere good and going to be good for us. Sadly, most of the products in grocery stores come from industrial farms, not the small, happy family farm. Most animals are kept in such heinous conditions that the corporations that own these “farms” get people arrested for taking pictures or filming (even if flying over). Our dairy products are pasteurized, homogenized and travel great distances to wet our highly processed, corn, wheat and soy filled cereal bowls. Our government gives huge subsidies to corporate farms to grow corn, wheat and soy, much of which is being grown as GMO crops. GMO crops have never been tested for safety and their efficacy in growing better than conventional crops is proving not to be so great. Lots of money goes into fighting the labeling of GMO foods by corporate farming lobbyists. There has also been a big marketing campaign touting the safety of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in food and drink. HFCS is in everything, drinks, breads, condiments, candies and everything in between. Most of this, if not all, is made from GMO corn. That’s kinda scary to me, considering no long term, third-party, scientific studies have been done on the safety of GMO foods. Many of the additives and preservatives used in foods today are known toxins, carcinogens or have other negative effects to our health. Based on all of these facts, I have changed the way I view food and food preparation.

For most of my life before I hit 30, I ate the Standard American Diet (SAD). I thought I was healthy and that I ate really well. I stopped eating at most fast food restaurants in my early 20’s and ate quite a few salads made with iceberg lettuce and topped with various deli slices, veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts and cheeses. It never occurred to me that I wasn’t healthy. Even though I had chronic bronchitis and sinus infections, was diagnosed with activity induce asthma and had very low energy by 4pm every day. What I didn’t realize is that I was living to eat. I ate out with friends, bought cheap foods that looked good and I could afford, limited my time in the kitchen preparing foods by buying those already processed and easy to eat on the go. This type of eating didn’t meet my nutritional needs. I was starving myself nutritionally but stuffing myself on a regular basis, much like all those eating the SAD way.

What I’ve learned in my, almost, 15 year journey towards a healthy me, is that I was looking at food all wrong. Food is nutrition, sustenance and a basic need. It isn’t cool, fun, exciting and doesn’t make me happy just by eating is, like the marketing gurus would have me believe. Food is food, plain and simple. By keeping it plain and simple, I have regained my health and been free of chronic illness, asthma and even allergies (except for a recent incident with mold) for years. First, I had to recognize the marketing of food and how it was devised to deceive me. (Check out Center for a New American Dream website.) I also had to reprogram my sense of smell and taste, to recognize the chemicals that were being used to trick my senses. Finally, I had to get comfortable in my kitchen and learn how to cook with what was available in my refrigerator and cupboards.

Little by little, over the last 10 years, I have reduced my dependance on processed foods. I have committed myself to purchasing most of my meat, produce, dairy and what ever else is available, locally. My weekly trip to the Durham Farmer’s Market is a highlight of my week. I get to meet the people who painstakingly grow, ship, display and sell food to me every week. I support a local egg business, who sadly aren’t as free ranging as I’d like, but the eggs are fresh and healthier than if I bought them at the store. The rest of my food comes from the local coop and occasionally Whole Foods Market. I purchase foods that need to be prepared, gluten free grains for bread, nuts for milk, baking and snacking, fruit and vegetables for smoothies, snacks, meals and dehydrating, meats for entrees, soups, stews and jerky. I even go out and pick herbs and mushrooms from our surroundings that supplement our diet. All of these foods make up for variety in nutrients and taste that keeps me satisfied in many ways.

I no longer crave those carbohydrate laden snacks in the late afternoon just to keep me going. I am healthy, even when my son or husband brings home a nasty bug that got them sick. (More often my husband than my son, because my son is eating what I eat and is rarely sick.) I have energy to exercise and stay fit, which makes me feel and look good. I’ve crushed the sugar monster inside of me that craved sugar and would get quite angry until it was fed. All of this is due to the fact that I have changed my relationship to food. Whenever I am getting ready to eat something, I ask, “What is the nutrient density of this?” I consider what value the food will offer my body, nutrient wise. I’ve started treating my body the way a gear head treats their performance vehicle, high octane food or nothing.

Reminder

This week begins the Better Living Mini-Series with a FREE introductory class tomorrow at 6:30pm. The classes will be held at Health Touch in Durham at 3500 Westgate Drive, Durham the Conference Center which is on the right side of the 400 building. You can get all the information about this series by visiting my website www.RadiantWellnessNC.com and click on the “Classes” link. Registration is required, as well as payment in advance. Financial aid is available upon request via email at radiantwellnessnc@gmail.com.

Hope to see you at one of my classes.

Love and light,
Ursula

DIY again

With the year ending and the New Year rolling around, I’ve decided to make some changes to my life. The past 10 years of my life I have been working towards self-sufficiency, reducing my impact on the earth and minimizing the amount of money I spend on stuff.

I have a goal to have a garden that produces most of our food this year. I have to figure out how to grow food on our property that doesn’t have any area with sun for more than a few hours a day. I may take my friend up on the offer to use a raised bed on her property which is flat, sunny and well producing. Either way, this should save my family a good amount of money each week but we’ll still use the farmers market for the remaining produce needed.

My family has decided to continue having a green smoothie every morning but we’re going to include juicing a few days a week. I’m going to do a 3 day juice cleanse once a month, also. I’ve decided to make a change to my diet by eliminating red meat and going mostly to a vegetarian diet, where I only eat meat protein once or twice a week. We’ll see how this goes considering I tend towards anemic and at least monthly need to boost my iron and red blood cell count. If it turns out to be a problem, then I’ll incorporate a monthly red meat meal or two during that specific week.

We are also planning on taking more backpack camping trips, at least every other month. I’ll be using my Excaliber dehydrator to make backpacking meals and snacks. I’ve found recipes for beans and rice, as well as other foods you prepare ahead, dehydrate and “cook” on the trail.

Another change I’ve decided on is making my own home cleaning supplies. I used to do this a few years ago. In fact, I used to make my own shampoo, toothpaste, soap and all-purpose cleaner. I’ve still been using my own toothpaste but found a wonderful recipe that I want to try as an improvement over my baking soda and peppermint oil kind. On the same blog (Wellness Mama), I found a recipe for DIY dishwasher detergent. I also found a recipe for homemade laundry detergent, thanks to my mother-in-law, which I’ll be making once I get all the ingredients. My biggest concern was the use of borax which I’ve heard can be toxic, but after reading this post I’m feeling pretty confident that using borax in my household cleaning regiment will be fine. I generally use white vinegar and baking soda as my main cleaning agents for household cleaning and will continue using them unless I find something that works better, in which case I’ll share with you.

Each of these changes will bring about independence and cost savings for my family. If you have a cost savings trick or recipe you’d like to share, please comment below.

Merry everything and happy always!
To 2014 we go…

Official Rollout of Classes Starting in January

Well, it’s official, I’m offering a Better Living Mini-Series at Health Touch in Durham. There is a free introductory class being offered first and then a series of five classes, once per month till May. Here is all the information you’ll need. Please share this with you friends and anyone you know that may be interested in these classes.

Better Living Mini-Series with Ursula Lobacz

Holistic Wellness Consultant,

Reiki II Practitioner,

Ordained Minister.

The Better Living Mini-Series will take you through a wealth of healthy eating information made simple. You will learn valuable skills and glean information that will enable you to take steps towards healthier living. No more wondering what to choose, what not to choose or how to create according to your family’s needs. Ursula has done the research, tested and re-tested and simplified the process for you.
Better Living through Nutrition not Chemistry
: FREE Introductory Class
        This class will discuss why it is important to eat “real food”, how doing so can greatly improve your health and how easy it really is to make changes, now, toward a healthy lifestyle. Ursula will share her journey from eating highly processed, refined foods to eating “whole foods”. She’ll, also, share her experience with taking the “100 day Real Food Challenge”, going gluten free, dairy free and soy free, and how it changed the way she prepares foods for her family. Ursula will discuss food allergies and how they manifest in the body, and how changing the foods you eat can dramatically change your life. There will be plenty of time for questions and Ursula looks forward to sharing her experiences with you, with the hopes that this will motivate you to make some healthy changes in your life. Thursday, January 9, 2014 6:30pm-7:30pm
Nut milk and Beyond
        This class will teach you how to make your own nut milk and how to use the left over nut meal. It will discuss the different types of nuts to use, as well as other options. It will teach you how to prepare the nuts for processing including why it is important to soak nuts and seeds. Then there will be a demonstration of how to make the nut milk, a sampling of different kinds of nut milks and treats made with the ground nuts. Saturday, January 18, 2014 10:00am-Noon

Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids and Adults
        This class will discuss healthy snack ideas that compete with the processed snacks many children and adults eat throughout the day. We will discuss some of the problems with processed sugars and artificial flavors/colors found in many popular snack foods, and offer substitutes for these items. From sweet to savory we’ll cover many options that will satisfy any craving that might come your way. There will be recipes to take home and samples for tasting. Saturday, February 15, 2014 10:00am-Noon

Gluten-free Grains and How to Use Them
        This class will teach about the different kinds of gluten free grains that can be used for baking. We will discuss different methods for using these grains including soaking, fermenting and using them straight from the bag. There will be instructions for making your own gluten free baking mix and a discussion about using different items for binding agents. There will be recipes to take home and samples for tasting. Saturday, March 15, 2014 10:00am-Noon

Incorporating Medicinal Herbs into Your Daily Life
        This class will discuss ways to cook with medicinal herbs that will have your family feeling healthy and strong. We will discuss a few specific herbal remedies to keep on hand throughout different seasons of the year, and have a demonstration on how to make these remedies. Class participants will go home with a small sample of each herbal remedy discussed.
Saturday, April 19, 2014 10:00am-Noon.

Juicing vs. Smoothies
        This class will delve into the different types of juicers available and the benefits of each kind. We will discuss the benefits of of both juicing and blending, and the difference between them. It will offer a demonstration of different ways a juicer can be used and will enable everyone to sample a delicious, green juice. We will share recipe ideas for getting everyone to enjoy eating their fruit and vegetables in either juice or smoothie form. This is the perfect time of year to take advantage of locally grown fruits and veggies, and we’ll be sure to do so during this class. Saturday, May 17, 2014 10:00-Noon

Take one or more classes for $25 each. Take the full mini-series for $110.

Bring a friend and get $5 off.

To Register or for more information contact Ursula at: RadiantWellnessNC@gmail.com

The Better Living Mini-Series is held at:

Health Touch NC LLC Conference Center

3500 Westgate Drive, Suite 405, Durham, NC 27707

I hope to see you all there and share a fun couple hours talking about healthy eating.

New Classes coming in the New Year

This year seems to be flying by and as I wrap things up for the holiday season, I’m now preparing for next year. I’ve made arrangements with the owner of Health Touch in Durham to offer classes in the new year. I’ll be offering a 4-class Better Living Mini-Series starting in January. We’ll cover many different topics around healthy eating. There will be tons of information that I’ve gained for the past decade or so, some demonstrations to let people know how easy it can be, and lots of tasty samples for everyone to enjoy. Stay posted for more details in the next few weeks.