Best Cornbread Recipe and GMOs

A conversation in my house 2 days ago:

Pam: I think I’ll make chili and cornbread for tonight.

Dan: You know our deal – you make it, I’ll eat it!

Pam: I just really want cornbread. I love cornbread. I mean I really love cornbread!

I do. And I thought this would be the perfect time to bring up a subject I’ve been avoiding with you. Since the recipe I want to share with you today includes one of the foods that may be genetically modified unless you buy organic, I want to get this unpleasant topic over with.

I want this blog to be a place where we can all be refreshed, encouraged and enlightened. Regarding the enlightened aspect, there’s a very unpleasant topic I just want to make sure you are informed about that might alter your choices when you go food shopping.

What are genetically modified foods? Genetically modified foods are foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMOs have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques. (Wikipedia) The concern is, obviously, that these foods may not be safe for human consumption. Most of the processed food that we can buy in the store has at least one genetically modified ingredient in it.

If you want more information about what that means, a quick internet search will bring up more than enough information for you. Some of the most reputable sites include Appetite for Profit and Food Safety News. There is a very (very!) thorough article covering controversies regarding GMOs on Wikipedia here.

And if you’d rather watch a short video on this topic:

Powerful, huh? And I’m glad she ended it with hope.

We have the ability to effect remarkable change because each and every single one of you has talents and attributes that you are uniquely good at. And when you leverage that with something that you are passionate about, you can effect remarkable change in the health of your family, in the health of your companies, and in the health of our country.” Robyn O’Brien

May I suggest something? If you have a smart phone, listen to her TED talk on your way to work. Or while you take a walk. Or when you’re on your exercise bike (like I did this morning).

Cornmeal. Corn bread. Corn syrup. Cornstarch. Corn chips. Tortilla chips. Corn tortillas. Tacos. Ahh!

Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients. (Center for Food Safety)

A Non-GMO Shopper’s Guide, as well as a plethora of information, is available at the Center for Food Safety’s website.

How can all this be simplified?

I believe wisdom says to stay away from processed foods as much as possible and buy organic when you can. Progress, not perfection. 🙂

This is, in my opinion, the best recipe for basic cornbread. The fat content has been reduced from the original recipe, it can be all whole grain, and options for both gluten free and vegan are provided in parentheses.

Best Cornbread


1 cup organic cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour (or 3/4 cup brown rice flour + 1/4 cup potato starch)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk (dairy and almond both work)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/4 cup light olive or melted coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg (or 1 tablespoon milled flaxseed soaked in 3 tablespoons water)


1. Grease 9″ square or round baking pan. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Mix dry ingredients together in medium bowl.

3. Mix wet ingredients together in separate bowl.

4. Add wet to dry stirring until just mixed.

5. Scrape out into prepared pan.

6. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes until a beautiful golden brown.

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I’ve been asked if there is a way to print out a recipe. I’m going to try this print option below. If this doesn’t work for you, let me know and  I’ll explore other options.


Just got back from the farmer’s market. I bought a few things that are different for me. Turnips, spaghetti squash, poblano peppers. And fresh pears! You may think I’m nuts being excited about pears, but these are just off the tree – they are water-crisp! I didn’t know pears could taste this good. Apples, too, from their local orchard of apple trees. Ten different kinds of apples at the stand this morning. Back in the summer I bought Opalessence apples from them – if you ever find them you have to try them.

It’s the last day of the farmer’s market season for me. So sad.

On a happier note, isn’t it great that sometimes just a tweak to our diet can bring health where there was pain and discomfort? I’m just grateful for that today. 🙂 I injured my knees recently and had to take a break from hiking, and it reminded me of all these years I had knee pain before I realized I was gluten-sensitive. And it’s been such a relatively easy transition. Crazy, but I actually enjoy the challenge of some limitations to my diet. How boring it would be if I could eat everything and anything. And I love helping friends and family find good food to eat that benefits their bodies. So I hope this blog can do that for you!

Worth thinking about…

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates

Enjoy your weekend!

Homemade Almond Milk

For those who would like an alternative to cow’s milk, this may be something you’d like to try. I have tried many brands of almond milk, and a few were okay, but when I read the ingredients, I thought, “Hmmm…homemade would be better.” And it is! (as usual)

These are the ingredients of a popular organic almond milk – “Organic almond base (filtered water, organic almonds), organic rice starch, organic vanilla, sea salt, natural flavor, carrageenan, riboflavin (B2), vitamin A palmitate and vitamin D2.”

Organic rice starch? Why would starch be in a milk product unless it’s to enable the manufacturer to reduce the expensive ingredient (almonds) and make it seem full-bodied by using a thickener? How many almonds might there actually be in this product? I did the math – 1/4 cup almonds has approximately 200 calories. The calorie count for 1 cup of the above-mentioned commercial almond milk is 40 calories. That would be the equivalent of 1/5 of 1/4 cup or less than 1 tablespoon of almonds. That’s about 7 almonds per cup of almond milk. But actually less, because we have to account for the starch calories.

And natural flavor? The exact definition of natural flavorings & flavors from the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Section 101, part 22 is as follows:

The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

Uh…all I know is “natural” flavor seems to be a highly processed food-like product.

And finally, carrageenan. The jury’s out on carrageenan. From an article on Stonyfield’s website, “Undegraded carrageenan is approved for use in all foods and infant formula in the U.S. In the EU, undegraded carrageenan is not approved for use in infant formula, but is allowed in all other foods that might be fed to children of any age.” There might be more to carrageenan than meets the eye, so if I don’t have to have it, I’d just as soon avoid it.

These are not ingredients that I have in my pantry, and I doubt that you do either. When was the last time you went to a neighbor and asked, “Um, could I borrow a teaspoon of carrageenan?” They’re just not what I would consider real food – whole foods created for us by a loving God to nourish our bodies and keep us healthy.

The ingredients in homemade almond milk? Raw organic almonds, filtered water, a tiny bit of sweetener (such as raw unprocessed honey), a pinch of salt, and pure vanilla extract, if desired. That’s it.

Homemade Almond Milk

Makes 3 cups


1/2 cup raw organic almonds

1 cup filtered water

pinch sea salt

1 teaspoon pure maple syrup or other healthy sweetener

1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (if desired)

3 more cups filtered water


1. Put almonds into a cereal bowl. Pour water into bowl to cover almonds by 1 inch. Let sit overnight.

2. Drain and rinse almonds. Discard that water. Place almonds, salt, sweetener, vanilla and one cup of fresh water in high speed blender. Blend for about 1 minute, or until almonds are fully pulverized and liquid appears thick and creamy.

3. Add one more cup of water. Blend to mix.

4. Add as much of third cup of water as it takes to reach the 3 cup line. Blend to mix. Taste, adjust flavors, and strain if desired. (If you strain it, the pulp can be saved and slipped into recipes here and there – even cookies!) If you don’t strain it, shake or stir before pouring.

5. Refrigerate and use within 3-5 days.

One cup of this almond milk has about 132 calories, 5 grams protein, 11 grams good fat (monounsaturated), 57 mg calcium, and almost 3 grams of fiber. It can be poured over cereal, used in cream soups and casseroles, and flavored with veggie “bouillon” and/or mushrooms to make gravy, as well as many other uses. In the next post, I’ll be sharing my recipe for Vegan Creamy Butternut Squash Soup made with this almond milk.

Let me know what you find to use it in!

Green smoothie recipe – and meet some of the family!

My husband and I have three children. Children? Well, grown and married children. They’ve given us the great opportunity to travel by living in states other than our own! Our kids are our favorite people in the world, and we’ve been blessed with amazingly good relationships, so even though we’re apart, we try to keep involved in each others’ lives however we can. Our dream is that some day they will all find themselves living in the same state, and then we will join them when we retire. 🙂

Recently, my house was full – my son will soon be entering an MBA program at a University in the United Kingdom, so he and my daughter-in-law will be there for the next year. How exciting for them! And, like most parents, we get to live vicariously through them! haha! In the meantime, we get to store much of what was in their apartment in our house. Yay! 😉

Jess and Anand were able to free up their schedule to come to NJ to say good-bye to them!

We brought Brian and Jenny to the airport – how do you pack for a whole year?!

There they are – B & J and 200 pounds of luggage!

Bye! Love you! I pray God’s protection and provision and blessing on your year!

(A mom’s heart – thanks for letting me get that out!)

While everyone was here, our eating habits were quite different from normal – waayyy more relaxed! Bagels, a lot of coffee, must-have pizza from Attilio’s. I even ate that in spite of being off gluten for 3-4 months. I did make an almond flour blueberry cake for after dinner one night. Fail! But it looked so pretty in the picture! The next morning I baked it for another hour-and-a-half. It was better after that.

No more bagels! It’s back to green smoothies! I try to have a green smoothie for breakfast every morning. I’ve gotten it down to a science now and have developed one that is my favorite that I’d like to share with you. It’s not overly sweet and has a clean, crisp taste. Mmm, refreshing!

I usually start with greens and a piece of cucumber. Then I add a variety of flavorings and nutritional enhancements. Here’s what I use and why…

(For more extensive information about each ingredient, just click where it’s written in blue.)

Greens – I try to keep green leafy vegetables as the foundation of my smoothie. Kale is my favorite green to use, but you could also use Swiss chard, spinach or collard greens. Mix it up – buy a different one every week. Dark green leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses! They are sources of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber. More specifically, they have calcium potassium, Vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene (which converts to Vitamin A), folate, and Vitamins E and K. Whew!

Cucumbers – Three types of phytonutrients in cucumbers are cucurbitacins, lignans, and flavonoids. These provide us with valuable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits.

Blueberries – Low calorie and low glycemic with high antioxidant value, fresh or frozen, blueberries have earned their place as a valuable  fruit to enjoy daily.

Lemon – Vitamin C is vital to a strong immune system. From neutralizing free radicals to fighting infection, Vitamin C from fresh lemons is a great daily addition to our diet.

Plain Yogurt – I make my own yogurt at home, because I read once that its medicinal property is greatly increased when it’s extremely fresh. Also, it just tastes a lot better! Smooth, creamy, and no ingredients except milk and yogurt. (I’ll post how I do it in a future blog.) Yogurt is rich in protein, calcium, and B vitamins, but more unique is its probiotic value. Research has shown that increased yogurt consumption may enhance our immunity.

4-Seed Mix – I keep a jar in my freezer of equal amounts of milled flaxseed, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and unhulled sesame seeds. These provide Omega-3 essential fatty acids, protein, minerals and fiber.

Green powder – This is optional, but I have a powdered blend of I think 15 ingredients (mostly greens – barley grass, wheat grass, spirulina, etc.), and I use just a teaspoon of it to add even more minerals to my smoothie. When I’m out of greens, I’ll use a whole tablespoon in place of the fresh greens.

Ginger, Turmeric, Cinnamon – I used a small amount of each of these for their anti-inflammatory value.

Stevia – Stevia is my zero-calorie sweetener of choice. From all I’ve read, it seems to be the safest out there.

Vanilla – I don’t know what it is about vanilla, but when I leave it out, I know it.

Now to put it all together –


1/2-1 c plain yogurt

1/2 c water

2 large kale leaves, washed and torn

1/3 cucumber, peeled if not organic

1 rounded teaspoon green powder

1/2 t powdered ginger (or 1/2″ fresh, sliced)

1/2 t turmeric

3/4 – 1 t cinnamon

1/4 t stevia

1 T 4-seed mix

1 t pure vanilla extract

1/4 – 1/2 lemon, peeled and seeded

1/2 c frozen blueberries

1/2 small banana (optional)

1-2 trays of “thin” ice cubes


Put all ingredients except ice cubes in a high-powered blender in order listed. Press “whole juice” and let run through complete cycle until completely pulverized. Taste and adjust for sweetness. If the taste is too strong, add another 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Add ice cubes, then press “smoothie” and let run through complete cycle. Pour into large tumbler and serve with straw.

Made with 1/2 c yogurt and 1/2 small banana, the entire almost one quart of smoothie is only about 200 calories!

Take your time sipping this throughout your morning. It’s filling without weighing you down and should leave you feeling energized!

Protein and Osteoporosis

Are you thinking, “Doesn’t she mean Calcium and Osteoporosis?”

Up until a few years ago, I know that would’ve been my question.

For most of my life, I thought of protein as the most important thing when it came to healthy meal planning. I was always careful to make sure that my family and I had enough protein at each meal. I figured if some is good, then more must be better, right?

Not necessarily. Not in this case.

I started coming across books and articles that talked about how too much protein in your diet can cause problems with bone loss:

(Let me interrupt for a minute – The following is based only partly on my experience. I base all of my informative-type posts on research from the most reputable sources I know, looking for clinical trials when available. I provide this info to you along with links so that you can look further into these topics and make your own decisions. My goal is to empower you to look beyond marketing schemes and crazy fad diets, and to help you to find what will benefit you and your family’s health! 🙂 )

  • “The digestion of protein releases acids the body usually neutralizes with calcium and other buffering agents in the blood. Eating lots of protein…requires lots of calcium. Some of it may be pulled from bone.”  The Okinawa Diet Plan, page 66
  • “In their exhaustive review of the scientific literature, Dr. Lanou and Mr. Castleman found that ‘two-thirds of clinical trials show that milk, dairy foods and calcium supplements do not prevent fractures.’ They conclude that the high fracture rate in countries that consume the most milk and dairy products results from the fact that ‘these affluent Western countries also consume the most meat, poultry and fish.’”
  • Cultures with the highest calcium intake have the highest osteoporosis rates. Support your body’s acid-alkaline balance to keep much-needed minerals in your bones by avoiding excess animal protein, refined grains, sugar, and preservatives.”

So how much protein is too much?

Nutritionists’ research shows that humans need about .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. The amount you need can be calculated by multiplying your body weight times .4. So a woman who weighs 135 pounds needs about 54 grams of protein.

Let’s look at a typical day’s protein intake for a lot of people:

11 g       1 egg, 1 slice whole wheat toast, orange juice

26 g      2 oz. turkey and 1 oz. lite swiss cheese on whole wheat bread, apple

38 g      3 ounce portion chicken breast, baked potato, broccoli, salad with tomato, cucumber, onion and black olives

And don’t forget snacks:

6 g        6 oz. lowfat yogurt

0 g        ½ cup blueberries

6 g        Handful (1 oz.) almonds

The day’s total:  87 grams of protein!

How can this menu be changed to reduce the protein load a bit? Well, have 1 oz. turkey instead of 2 in the sandwich and add lettuce and tomato; make chicken pot pie or soup or  enchiladas using 1 oz chicken and adding vegetables to compensate; or have a vegetarian entree for dinner on a day that you have meat for lunch.

Some surprises:

Did you know that 2 slices of whole wheat bread has 8 grams of protein?

And that 1 large stalk of broccoli and 1 large baked potato each have 7 grams of protein, the same amount that’s in 1 large egg?!

I’m sure most people don’t think of broccoli as a source of protein!

Surprise! I didn’t know that either! 😉

Now don’t get me wrong! Protein is not the enemy! Excessive protein is what we’re concerned with. Protein is important and we certainly have to be aware of getting enough.

But it’s just like with calories.

There’s a specific amount we should have for optimal health,

and too much or too little will eventually cause problems.

It makes sense, right? 🙂

Let’s see what I had today:

13.5 g    Oatmeal with 1 T rice bran, 1 T seed mix, 1 T sliced almonds, ½ c 2% milk

16 g       Huevos rancheros – 2 corn tortillas, ½ c black beans, 1 egg, fresh salsa

3.5 g      5 Brazil nuts

18 g       1 pint 3-bean vegan chili

0 g         Large green salad with tomato, cucumber, onion and olives

My total:  51 grams of protein plus the 6 grams I’ll have later in my yogurt with blueberries

Oh, I also had ½ of a gluten-free vegan banana chocolate chip muffin. Give up chocolate? I’m not crazy! 😉

Is this even important?

For me, it is. You see, I have a family history of osteoporosis.

Even if I didn’t, it’s projected that by year 2020, one in two Americans aged 50 years or older will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis or low bone mass. Some men and many women, even in their 30s, begin to lose bone mass.

So it might be important for you, too.

 Is there anything we can do? You bet there is!

We can take the appropriate vitamins and minerals.

We can avoid foods that can increase inflammation: sugar, processed foods, caffeine, and refined carbohydrates.

We can do weightbearing exercise at least 5 times a week.

And we can play it safe with protein by simply reducing our portion sizes of high-protein items and reaching for fruits and vegetables to fill us up!

For further information:

10 Tips for Increasing Vegetables in Your Diet

What’s not to love about vegetables?

  • They provide alkalinity to balance all the acid-forming carbs and proteins we eat.
  • They provide fiber.
  • They fill you up without adding a lot of calories.
  • They provide phytonutrients, i.e. antioxidants, plant sterols, enzymes.
  • They provide variety of color, texture and taste in a daily diet.
  • They provide water.
  • They help you keep, um, regular. 😉
  • Deeply colored vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins and minerals.

This only scratches the surface, I’m sure, of the benefits of vegetables.

The question is: How can we get more of them into our diets?

Some practical ideas:

1. Make a list of all the vegetables you can think of and keep it on you while you shop. I keep this list in the Notes section of my cell phone.

2. Keep a current inventory of all the vegetables you have in the house (fresh, frozen and dried) on your refrigerator at eye level, and use it to plan menus. Check them off as you use them. Don’t go shopping again until you’ve used them all up!

3. Buy fresh and locally grown, preferably at a farmer’s market – they taste better so you’ll be more likely to eat them!

4. When you go out to eat, try a vegetarian restaurant. They tend to be more creative with their use of vegetables. So many restaurants focus so heavily on meat and starch offerings that they overlook what can be done with veggies. And while you’re there, ask for their take-out menu to bring home. I have many take-out menus I keep in a file. They give me ideas when I don’t know what I’m in the mood for.

5. Make green smoothies.

6. Try three new vegetables every week.

7. Salads don’t have to be made from lettuce. Experiment!

8. Plan on filling at least 1/2 your dinner plate with vegetables. Plus salad on the side.

9. Add them to breakfast – veggie omelets and frittatas, over-light egg on cooked greens, huevos rancheros with plenty of fresh salsa.

10. Have more lettuce and tomato in your sandwich than meat or cheese. Also, try adding thinly sliced cucumber and onion, avocado, sprouts. For that matter, have a veggie sandwich!

Tip Number 2 has been the most profitable thing I’ve done to use more veggies. I mean well, but when my fridge is packed with fresh veggies, things get shoved to the back and I forget they’re there! Now when I think, “What am I going to make for dinner?” I go to that list, choose a few vegetables, then add a protein and maybe a carb.

Personal note: The weight control aspect of consuming a lot of vegetables is what I appreciate most right now. I have struggled to maintain a healthy weight my whole adult life, and for many earlier years, didn’t succeed. So I really appreciate how intentionally incorporating many veggies into my diet has helped in this area. I feel so much better now!

I think mostly it involves a change in thinking.  For years, I thought, “Ok, dinner. Uh…chicken and brown rice. Oh, yeah, and broccoli.” But now I consider vegetables first when it comes to meal planning, pack vegetables for snacks at work, and plan my meals to be at least 1/2 vegetables. That includes breakfast, too, since I have a smoothie just about every day loaded with kale or other greens.

So I encourage you to incorporate some of these practices into your food lifestyle. You will not be sorry!

Nutrition and Arthritis

“When Rebecca Soni won a gold medal in swimming, a reporter asked her what made a difference for her in this race. Her reply? She didn’t look at swimmers in other lanes. She focused on what she had to do. You have a race to complete too–it’s called your life. And you don’t have to be like anyone else. No one can do what you can do or change the world the way you can.”    Holley Gerth @

Along those lines, I have a voice. I’m not quite sure what it’s going to say here as I start this blog, but I guess time will tell!

I celebrated my 56th birthday this week. When my husband asked what I wanted to do that day (after work), I said, “Let’s go for a bike ride!” We did and had a blast.

Still celebrating my birthday on Saturday, we went to the Poconos area and hiked Mt. Tammany. We not only made it to the lookout, we made it back down without incident!

This may not seem like such a feat, but my knees have been sensitive since I was in my 20s and banged them up roller skating. As I’ve gotten older, they’ve only gotten worse. X-rays and MRIs have shown, well, really messed up knees. Sometimes I would even say, “Ow! Ow! Ow!” as I merely went down steps, let alone this rocky trail!

But this birthday, I felt good! Strong! Pain-free!


I want to share about this in case it might help anyone else.

Yes, I exercise. I try to do 1/2 hour on my stationary bike daily as well as a bit of Pilates for core work. And I’ve always noticed a difference for the better when I’ve been faithful to this regimen.

But a few months ago, I felt terrible and was so discouraged and tired of feeling pain. I was determined to try anything (short of drugs) to lessen my joint pain. You see, I had joint pain all over. Right shoulder, knees, wrists…I felt much older than 55. So I went online to find information about arthritis and stumbled across a book called, “Foods that Fight Pain,” by Dr. Neal Barnard. I went right to the library, took it out, and devoured the chapter on arthritis. He explained that in the early 1990s, the role of nutrition in arthritis was established beyond any reasonable doubt:

“In 1991, researchers in Oslo, Norway, reported in The Lancet a study in which they eliminated foods believed to be common arthritis triggers in a group of 26 arthritis patients. The average pain score fell from over five, on a scale from zero to ten, to under three. Joint stiffness, swelling, and tenderness diminished, and grip strength also improved. Most importantly, the benefits were sustained on reexamination a year later.

“Numerous studies have shown that, if testing is done with sufficient care, dietary sensitivities can be identified in 20-60 percent of subjects. Pure vegetarian (vegan) diets appear to benefit about half of arthritis patients, including some who have not identified a specific diet trigger.”

The foods he suggested be eliminated on a trial basis were:

Dairy products Citrus fruits
Corn Potatoes
Meats Tomatoes
Wheat, oats, rye Nuts
Eggs Coffee

So I eliminated them, and I lasted about two weeks! Of all of those foods, I wanted my tomatoes, dang it! But I felt better. I had less pain. So I very gradually reintroduced all of the above foods except for gluten-containing foods. I stayed off gluten for the next 3-4 months, which brings me to the present.

Prior to this elimination diet trial and the discovery that I’m evidently sensitive to gluten, I felt pretty hopeless about my future regarding joint pain. No one’s more amazed than I am that I have no pain now!

I could not sleep on my right side for about 8 months because I had so much shoulder pain. Now I can turn back and forth all I want, and it doesn’t wake me up. And I can be more active! When I tried riding my bike (regular bike) for about 5 miles a few months ago, my knees were inflamed for about a week. On my birthday, I rode for 7 miles with no repercussions!!!

I encourage you, if you have joint pain, even a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, you may want to try eliminating the above-mentioned foods for a short time. Gradually reintroduce one food at a time every 2 or 3 days to see if you react. You may find that your body is sensitive to one of these foods and your joints become inflamed as a reaction to ingestion of that food.

So my new adventure, once the weather is consistently cooler, will be learning to bake with gluten-free flours. In the meantime, I’m just grateful for all the foods I’m NOT sensitive to!

For more information: