Being Irish I love March because Spring is coming and of course right in the middle we have St. Patrick’s Day. The kids love it because they get to wear green at school and pretend they are more Irish than they are. My daughter (the actress) loves to put on the Irish accent she learned from her cousins last summer and we have a good laugh at her developing brogue.
The only thing I dislike about this day of celebration of all things Irish, is the association it conjures up with Lucky Charms, a Mc Donald’s Green McFlurry or a green donut from Dunkin. Take it from me – we do not celebrate products like this in Ireland, we don’t even have them. The most I saw growing up was people drinking green beer and even that was frowned upon (only because of the green part, let’s be honest).
So what exactly is in Lucky Charms that makes them Exhibit A in the fight against the fake phood industry that seems to prey on our children by portraying themselves as a ‘healthy’ breakfast?
I don’t know where to begin. I will pick out my top 3 offenders, and you can decide if that’s enough to make you run to the organic section. Also, these ingredients are in most of the more colorful cereals: Froot Loops, Apple Jacks and Trix to name a few.
- Corn Syrup – also known as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This is a highly processed chemical (yes) derived from corn. It is a GMO food which means it contains glyphosate and should be avoided for that reason alone. It is manufactured in a very complicated tri-enzyme process which you can read more about here. If you want to hear about how HFCS can cause type 2 diabetes then Dr. Hyman explains it quite well here. There is also many reports that HFCS contains mercury, one of the most toxic substances known to man. HFCS is in ketchup, soup, pickles, cereal, sodas, mayonnaise, candy, cakes, breads, bagels and so many more things it’s hard to list. Basically – if it’s not organic, it has HFCS.
- TSP: Trisodium Phosphate – an industrial alkalizing cleaning agent doubling as a food additive. The FDA has given this chemical a ‘generally recognized as safe’ or GRAS category. It has given safe limits for this additive (70 mgs) but the general public have no way of knowing how much of this toxic chemical they are consuming on a daily basis which could reach up to 500 mgs daily. In its dry powder form it is incredibly corrosive to the human body when consumed. So much so, the FDA has recommend it be removed from household cleaning products – because it is bad for the environment! So where does that leave the cereal consumer? Caveat Emptor and run for the organic hills!
- Artificial colors: Yellow 5 & 6, Red 40, Blue 1 and “Other Color Added” – right away I see a huge red flag because I don’t know what “other color added” means. It usually means I have to call their consumer help line. But I value my sanity so I’m going to take a guess that it means a substitute for Red #3 (since it was banned), made from the cochineal beetle. The other 4 colors listed are derived from coal tar. Added colors have long been associated with ill-health effects and hyperactivity in children although there are few conclusive studies. The most notable study is the Southampton Study in 2007 which asserted that when combined with sodium benzoate (a popular food additive), they caused more hyperactivity in children and recommended that all colors be labeled in Europe. Food colors have a long history with the FDA and now, out of around 80, only 7 remain legal for the food and cosmetics industries to use. If you’d like to learn more, check out these articles and videos on food dyes on Dr. Greger’s website as he discusses their affect on children’s health and in particular ADHD.
I am only giving you 3 things to remember to avoid like the toxic plague because they transfer to so many other products that I hope you will remember them. I didn’t mention “mixed tocopherols” only because it is a synthetic vitamin e and is generally safe. It is used to replace the highly controversial BHT which is widely suspected to be a carcinogen.
So why not try a new tradition in your family if you like to celebrate our national holiday? Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day breakfast with a hearty, protein-packed traditional Irish breakfast – organic bacon, eggs and sausage… with a slice of soda bread and a healthy pat of Kerrygold butter (see my recipe here!).
“lá sona Fhéile Pádraig duit” – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
I often get asked what I recommend for breakfast to boost protein intake as an alternative to egg dishes or oatmeal (both of which I recommend, see previous blogs here and here), and I always suggest my protein packed chocolate pancakes. Kids love them and moms can be assured that their little ones will get a nutrient packed breakfast that will sustain them all morning without that sugar crash which usually follows a breakfast of cereal or bagels. As with all pancake recipes, you can add or subtract ingredients and don’t forget to ask the kids what they think!
2 cups of your favorite organic pancake mix or flour. Since I like to make gluten and dairy free, I use this mix from Breads From Anna – Non-GMO and allergen free.
2 pasture-raised eggs (or egg substitute)
3 cups of coconut milk or other non-dairy milk. Use whole milk if using dairy.
1 scoop of protein powder. My go-to is Vega chocolate powder as you can also use it in smoothies. The Berry flavor is also excellent.
1 tsp of green super food powder of your choice. I use Vimenergy’s barleygrass but you can use spirulina or wheatgrass. Don’t worry you won’t get green pancakes. Although you can add more for your St. Patrick’s Day pancakes!
2 tsps of raw cacao powder. This gives the pancake more of a chocolate flavor and yet adds tons of micronutrients.
2 tbsps of unrefined coconut oil, melted
1/2 – 1 cup of your favorite berries or chocolate nibs (organic and raw if possible).
1-2 cups of coconut water to vary consistency. Add as needed, do not add all at the beginning.
Method: Mix all the ingredients together and cook in unrefined coconut oil for 5 minutes each side, medium heat. Serve with fruit, organic syrup, honey or specialty chocolate spread. You can make the entire batch to be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or pop them in the freezer to be heated in the toaster when needed. You can also use the mixture to make muffins (bake for 30 mins) for super nutritious snacks on the go! ENJOY!
So another high protein breakfast idea which the kids will love is the Berry Nutty Breakfast Milkshake. I call it a milkshake and not a smoothie because kids tend to think a milkshake is more fun and so I’m just playing with words. You can too! So this shake has protein, antioxidants, micronutrients and you can add additional super-nutrients by adding a ‘super’-powder of your choice. My favorite is immune boosting Chaga powder but you can use any one. Just remember if you add a green like spirulina, it will affect the colour of the shake! So this is just a suggestion, you can play around with it but this is one of my favorites.
1 cup of coconut or almond milk. You can also use a full fat dairy milk
1 cup of organic mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and blackberries)
2 tbsps of nut butter – almond or cashew. You can use peanut but it has a stronger flavor.
1 tsp of Chaga powder extract (optional)
1 tbsp of raw honey
A squeeze of lemon juice and a tiny piece of rind.
Oats or nuts to decorate
Put everything in a blender until smooth. You may need to add more liquid to reach your desired consistency. You can also add ice to make it more of an arctic blast. Top with some oats or nuts and you’re good to go! Of course this is not just for breakfast, it can be a quick snack for those on-the-go moments. Enjoy!
Filed under Food, Recipes
Adding to my recipes that I’m working on that are high in protein, this is one that kids will love. Baked eggs with veggies. So easy and so good.
4 pasture raised eggs
1 cup chopped veggies of your choice – tomatoes, onions, broccoli or mushrooms
1/2 cup of shredded organic cheese or goats cheese
salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the 4 eggs. Add the veggies, cheese (optional) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour into a muffin tin (with liners) and bake for 15-20 minutes. They can be stored in the fridge for a few days so they can be enjoyed as a quick snack too. Voilà! Enjoy.
1 cup of steel cut organic oatmeal
3 cups of water or almond milk
pinch of sea salt
1 organic pear
1 tsp of cinnamon
Making oatmeal from steel cut oats does take longer but it is a healthier option than processed quick oats. Bring the water to a boil in a pot and then add the oats and salt. Bring back up to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes depending on how you like it to taste. While the oats are simmering, peel and dice the pear and put it in a small pot with a little water. You may wish to add some sugar to taste but this is not necessary. Gently bring the pears and water to a boil and simmer for 5 mins.
Once the oats are done, add the soft pears and top with a dash on cinnamon. Enjoy!
Filed under Food, Recipes