Category Archives: Facts

Bean & Butternut Tacos !

Found this recipe a few years ago. My entire family love’s it, plus it’s super healthy for the whole family.Beans and roasted butternut squash make an outstanding vegetarian taco filling. For the best flavor, use fresh, good-quality chili powder and Mexican oregano. Look for both at Latin markets or in the bulk spice section at well-stocked natural-foods stores.

4 servings, 2 tacos each

Active Time: 1 1/4 hours

Total Time: 1 1/4 hours
Nutrition Profile

8 ounces tomatillos
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 jalapeño pepper
1/4 cup sliced white onion
1/2 ripe avocado, diced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste


4 cups diced (1/2-inch) peeled butternut squash
3-4 small dried red chiles
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled, smashed and left whole
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, plus 1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin seeds (see Tip), divided
2 cups cooked pinto beans, drained (see Tip)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 6-inch corn tortillas
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup finely shredded and chopped red or green cabbage
8 teaspoons crumbled queso fresco (see Note), or feta cheese


  1. To prepare salsa: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Remove husks from tomatillos and rinse well. Cook the tomatillos in the boiling water until soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Toast garlic cloves, jalapeño and onion in a dry medium skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until browned, fragrant and soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. When cool enough to handle, peel the garlic. Remove the jalapeño stem and remove seeds if desired. Combine the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeño, onion and avocado in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Stir in cilantro, salt and pepper. Set aside for topping the tacos.
  4. To prepare tacos: Preheat oven to 400°F.
  5. Put squash in a medium bowl and, using kitchen shears, finely snip chiles to taste into small pieces (seeds and all) into the bowl. Add garlic, oil, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt and whole cumin seeds; toss to coat. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until soft and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Peel and finely chop the garlic when cool enough to handle; stir into the squash.
  6. Meanwhile, combine beans in a small saucepan with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt, ground cumin, chili powder and pepper. Heat over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
  7. Warm tortillas one at a time in a dry large cast-iron (or similar heavy) skillet over medium heat until soft and pliable. Wrap in a clean towel to keep warm as you go. Spoon 1/4 cup of the warm beans into each tortilla; divide the roasted squash evenly among the tacos and top each with cilantro, cabbage, 1/2 cup of the salsa and cheese. (Refrigerate the remaining 1/2 cup salsa for up to 2 days.)

Cabbage Good Source of Vitamin A

For those of you that did not know, Cabbage is a great source of Vitamin A and C.  So the next questions is how can I incorporate Cabbage into my daily life.

Try an Asian- inspired slaw of shredded cabbage, cashews and a lime and sesame oil- vinaigrette. When wrapped in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge, it can be stored for two weeks.

Foods to Eat

The Environmental Working Group has released its list of 12 foods most likely to have high pesticides resides.  Since 1995 the group has taken government data and identified which types of produces has the most chemicals.

What this means to you and I is that these are the foods that we should seek out organics foods to avoid all the pesticides.

This year list in order from highest to lowest pesticides resides is:

1. Celery

2. Peaches

3. Strawberries

4. Apples –  We recommend peeling a fruit or vegetable like apples to strips away many of their beneficial nutrients.

5. Blueberries

6. Nectarines

7. Bell peppers –  Safer alternatives include green peas, broccoli, and cabbage.

8. Spinach – One of the most contaminated green leafy vegetable.

9. Kale

10. Cherries

11. Potatoes

12. Grapes – Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically.  No amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape’s thin skin.

It just goes to show you that what many think are perfectly healthy for you may not be the case do to how they are grown and the pesticides sprayed on them to bring them to the market place.

Reduce Your Salf Intake

The National Academy of Science is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to set national standards for salt added to foods.

Salt intake has been associated with increased risk of hypertension, heart disease and stroke.

The Health and Human Services recommends that adults limit their daily salt intake to 2,300 milligrams: about 1 teaspoon. If you are over 40, are African-American or have high blood pressure, you shouldn’t have more than 1,500 mg a day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 70 percent of adults fall into one or more of these three categories.

The average American consumes far more, however, eating about 3,900 milligrams of sodium a day. In a study last month from Stanford University, researchers found that reducing the country’s salt intake by 9.5 percent could reduce nearly half a million strokes and heart attacks and save more than $32 billion in medical costs over the lifetime of adults.

Until standards are set to encourage the reduction of salt intake, it would be a good idea for every one to salt limiting salt intake on their own.

Food Labels

You need to read the labels carefully to make sure you get what you are looking for.  Its no secret that the healthiest foods are not what sells the most because they lack the proper marketing powers.

Its the job of the consumer to explain food labels to see if they are buying what they want.

For example,

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential component of a healthy diet, but that doesn’t mean every product emblazoned with the word is a healthy source of it.

The FDA allows certain foods that are rich in two of the omega-3 fatty acids to advertise that they can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, but only if they’re also low in saturated fats or other risk factors.

Which is why many eggs and some walnuts use this bit of marketing misdirection: The packaging has the phrase “omega 3,” but nothing specifically about heart health, according to the CSPI.

The FDA specifically prohibited eggs from carrying the “qualified health claim” linking omega-3 fatty acids to heart health because eggs are high in cholesterol; it ruled out walnuts because the omega-3 fatty acid found in the nuts isn’t one of the two that has been linked to heart health.

These products, and others, dance around the truth and the law by simply stating that they contain omega 3s, which bathes the food in a healthy light they don’t necessarily deserve.

Another example is free range eggs.  The government does not regulate the use of the phrase “free range” or “cage free” on eggs.    So just because the label says free range does not mean that those eggs that you purchase were raised ethically, with room enough for hens to roam the yard.

And lastly, not all fiber is good fiber.  Unnatural fibers are unlikely to lower blood cholesterol or blood sugar.  Currently fiber is being added to all kinds of foods so that you the consumer think it might help you.

For the real thing in fiber, look for foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans.

Organic Labeling

Foods labeled “100 percent organic” must contain only organic ingredients.

Products containing at least 70 (%) percent organic content can be labeled “made with organic ingredients.”

Those foods labeled simply “organic” must have at least 95-percent organic ingredients, by weight or fluid volume, excluding water and salt.

Anyone who knowingly sells or labels a product “organic” that is not produced and handled in accordance with these regulations can face a civil penalty of up to $10,000.

Foods grown and processed according to the federal standards will in most cases bear the seal “USDA Organic.” As its use is voluntary, companies may choose not to display the seal.

If you see a food that is labeled “transitional,” that means the farmer produced it during the three-year conversion period from conventional to organic.

How Organic Works

The organic food trend that began making headlines in 2000 now appears to be a mainstream lifestyle for some — which translates into big business. So where do organic foods and fibers come from, and what makes them organic?

Organic farming is based on holistic, ecologically balanced agricultural principles involving soil fertility, crop rotation and natural pest control. It may sound like an elusive concept, but the basis for organic farming is actually very simple: Allow nature to do what nature does best.

Many everyday products can be produced on organic farms, including vegetables, grains, meat, dairy, eggs and fibers such as cotton. What makes these things organic is how close to their natural state they stay. When growing organic goods, farmers do not use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers on crops, and they reject the use of synthetic hormones, antibiotics or other medications in their livestock. Animals are provided with organic feed and allowed access to the outdoors.

Stricter Proposed Organic Guidelines

The USDA recently proposed grazing guidelines for certified organic dairy farms that clarify the requirements for pasture grazing.  Organic livestock must be raised without hormones, antibiotics or feed treated with pesticides. Producers were also required to provide the animals with “access to pasture” so they can get out, roam around and graze a bit.
Under the new standards, the term “access to pasture” it means thirty percent of organic livestock’s feed must come from grazing in pasture, as opposed to only eating organically produced food in a feedlot or indoor facility. Organic farms now need to allow animals to graze in pasture at least 120 days a year.

It doesn’t seem like this is a major issue the USDA should be concerned about, right? Not exactly. Consumers and organic advocacy organizations voiced their concerns to the USDA about dairy farms that provide our stores with organic milk but were not providing very much “access to pasture.” This allowed some farms to gain an advantage over other farms by lowering their production costs.

The USDA believes addressing the role of pasture in organic farming will clarify its meaning and allow it to be easier for farms to be in compliance. Many farmers hope these guidelines will not only help ensure adequate and appropriate organic standards are met, but also protect the integrity of organic farming and the products we eat.

Identifying organic food

Processed organic food usually contains only organic ingredients. If non-organic ingredients are present, at least 95 percentage of the food’s total plant and animal ingredients must be organic. Foods claiming to be organic must be free of artificial food additives, and are often processed with fewer artificial methods, materials and conditions, such as chemical ripening, food irradiation, and genetically modified ingredients.

They may also be required to be produced using energy-saving technologies and packaged using recyclable or biodegradable materials when possible.

Early consumers interested in organic food should look for non-chemically treated, fresh or minimally processed food. You mostly have to buy directly from growers: “Know your farmer, know your food” was the motto. Personal definitions of what constituted “organic” were developed through firsthand experience: by talking to farmers, seeing farm conditions, and farming activities. Small farms grew vegetables (and raised livestock) using organic farming practices, with or without certification, and the individual consumer monitored. As demand for organic foods continued to increase, high volume sales through mass outlets such as supermarkets rapidly replaced the direct farmer connection. However, for supermarket consumers, food production is not easily observable, and product labeling, like “certified organic”, is relied on. Government regulations and third-party inspectors are looked to for assurance. A “certified organic” label is usually the only way for consumers to know that a processed product is “organic”.


Organic foods are made according to certain standards.  The use of non-organic pesticides, insecticides and herbicides are greatly restricted.  Currently, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan and many other countries require producers to obtain special certification in order to market food as “organic” within their borders.  Most certification allow some chemcials and pesticides to be used, so consumers should be aware of the standards that qualify as “organic” in their area.