Tag Archives: food

Preserve Your Right to Know What’s in Your Food by Speaking Out Against the Dark Act

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You make smart choices for yourself in all areas of your life, not the least of which happens at the dinner table.  You may have family members with allergies, heart disease or other special needs.  You may be trying to lose weight.  Food labels can help you make informed choices as part of your #CleanCouponing approach, because as much as you like saving money, you know the value of investing in good nutrition.

Could you imagine going on a diet without being able to find out how many calories, grams of sugar or trans fats are in certain foods?  That’s what’s happening now with your right to know about GMOs.

Did you know that TODAY a movement is happening in Washington to deny your right to get accurate, complete food labeling at the grocery store?   It’s dubbed the DARK Act or Deny Americans the Right to Know Act, but your elected representative may only know it as HR 1599, and it’s due for a vote.  This video explains why you might want to know what’s in your food:

You can call TODAY to tell your elected representative that you expect a “no” vote on the infamously nicknamed DARK Act.  Here’s an easy tool provided by the Center for Food Safety that allows you to enter your phone number and be directly connected via your phone to the appropriate Washington office.  It makes speaking up (politely) to your elected official an easy, 5-minute task that everyone can do!

Not only has the Food and Drug Administration refused to label genetically engineered foods otherwise known as genetically modified foods or GMOs, even though they’re often treated with the glyphosate herbicide recognized by top scientists as probably linked to cancer; but the DARK Act legislation would deny states’ rights to require GMO labeling, even if the people of that state vote for it like they did in Vermont and some other states.  If you eat any conventional processed foods at all, you are likely being exposed to pesticide residues and unknown health harms, according to modern science.  So, the DARK Act would make it more difficult for you to make personal choices about the food you want to feed your family.

A few watchdogs like Just Label It and the Center for Food Safety are trying to keep everyone informed and push back against the intense chemical-food industry lobbyists. Those in Washington are bracing for a vote in the US House as early as July 23, so it is critical you call today and make your voice heard with your representative.

If you care about #CleanCouponing, truly knowing the quality of the food you choose for your family, you’ll want to get the most information you can from a food label.  That means a NO vote on the DARK Act and a yes to authentic, mandatory, state-level GMO labeling.

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open faced sandwich cookie

Why I Buy My Kids Junk Food

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I admit it.

I buy my kids junk food.

You too?

stack of chocolate sandwich cookies

But Clean Couponing is all about being frugal with more than money!

How can a parent be concerned about issues like health and ingredients while admitting to buying junk food?

Here’s how:  In a perfect world I would have enough space for not just an organic garden but a mini-farm in my own backyard, where I’d produce enough food for everything I needed in the kitchen. I’d have time to cook absolutely every meal and snack from scratch for my family.  Plus, my kids would have no outside influences tempting them to try greasy, sugary, fattening, processed foods.  That’s not the world we live in, is it?

I do grow organic vegetables in our garden.  I do cook from scratch as much as possible.  I also need time-saving methods.  I also spend time shuttling kids to various activities.  I also give in to their requests for “fun” food.

Where Clean Couponing comes in is that it can help me strategically stock up on the kinds of “fun” meal and snack foods my kids want to eat, while giving me the chance to play defense with the ingredients.  I’m using the term “junk food” loosely, meaning no offense to any particular food or food maker.

open faced sandwich cookie

At some point, the kids will beg for chocolate cookies, and if I’ve checked ahead of time for the cookies without the trans fats and genetically modified ingredients, I’ve accomplished something.  They will want ice cream or candy or gum, so I can choose from the few brands that don’t use coal-tar derived food dyes and suspicious preservatives or fillers.

While I wouldn’t want to serve my family hot dogs frequently, the occasional picnic is a chance to try these made with more wholesome ingredients than most.  (Don’t miss this giveaway that ends soon.)

My kids know I scrutinize ingredients and practice Clean Couponing because I love them. They also know I find creative ways to let them enjoy “junk food” because I love them, too. If I stock up ahead of time, watch for sales, check out brand coupons online, it helps me provide these more wholesome versions of fun or junk foods, which is harder to do at the last minute.  If we really get in a rush, if I’m behind on meal preparation, and if I haven’t stocked up on better “junk” foods, those are the few times when we get into a downward fast food spiral, and that can really wreck a family nutrition plan.

Perhaps the biggest pitfall in stocking up on healthier “junk” foods is that even organic, GMO-free, gluten-free foods can still be high in sugar.  This is a legitimate concern, and a reason to never lean too heavily on processed foods, even if they bear all of the politically correct food labels.  Despite this potentially pitfall, I stand by my method of staying stocked up on some fun alternative foods.

How are you Clean Couponing to make sure your family’s fun or “junk” food is as clean as possible?

 

Grilling Applegate Hotdogs

#GirlsWhoGrill Celebrating Summer with Applegate Grilling Kit Giveaway

Thanks to Applegate for stocking us up on the fixins’ for a backyard picnic!  Get your #CleanCouponing coupons here.

Where did grilling get ingrained in their machismo?  It’s there, from open-fire cooking for survival to boys and their heavy metal grilling toys! Even a man like my husband who’s intimidated by a kitchen recipe with more than three ingredients will proudly reign as king of the outdoor grill, as if pushing that fuel button to light the thing up suddenly imbibes him with the expert ability to prepare a gourmet feast!

He was somewhat uncomfortable with the idea that the queen of the household would be taking over his grill this summer — that #GirlsWhoGrill might put more attention onto the quality of the food cooking on it.  His machismo is a bit threatened.

applegate family

For me as a parent, I care about ingredients, while I don’t plan on taking away anyone’s summer fun.  Hot dogs have been around a long time as a grilling favorite.  So, while I won’t be serving these every week, they’re a once-in-a-while summer treat that my kids & husband want.

What’s the difference between these and your typical dogs?

  • Quality meats raised with humane practices & without antibiotics
  • 100% grass-fed beef
  • All Applegate products going non-GMO in summer 2015
  • Meat as the main ingredient, without junk fillers or added sugars or corn syrups
  • No chemical preservatives
  • No added nitrites (only those naturally occurring in celery)
  • Lower than many other hot dogs in sugar, sodium and fat

Grilling Applegate Hotdogs

Most importantly, these Applegate hot dogs taste great!  Mind you, they’re not as fatty and sweet tasting as some leading weiners because they’re not relying on those junk ingredients to boost their appeal.  These are a real meat lover’s hot dog. We recently grilled the uncured, natural beef weiners from Applegate, dressed up with Sir Kensington’s ketchup and mustard atop yummy buns from Vermont Bread Company.

I understand that some food purists want to avoid processed meats altogether, and that’s an honorable goal.  At our house, the family is going to demand the convenience and fun of something like hot dogs sometimes.  This is the best quality product of this kind that I can give them.

Some of you who’ve championed small farmers (I’ll always be a family farm girl myself, grew up showing hogs at the fair) and supported independent food companies are understandably skeptical, too about Applegate’s recent acquisition by food giant Hormel. Here’s an excerpt from the letter that Applegate’s founder, Stephen McDonnell, wrote about that:

The acquisition will not change our positions on any of the important issues. We will continue to support labeling for GMO ingredients. We will continue to push to remove antibiotics from the farm and to improve the animal welfare standards in our supply chain.

This is all easy to say, of course. So I don’t ask you to take me at my word. Just watch what we do. Our products and practices will remain the same–and some will improve. For instance, as of this month 100 percent of our beef for hot dogs and roast beef will come from pasture raised and grass fed cattle. In addition, by this summer we will have converted 100% of our products to be free of GMO ingredients.

Applegate Kid Hotdog

Family fun, laid back summer times, even giving the man another macho turn at the grill — it’s all part of life.  When I make food purchases, I still care about what’s inside, so choosing a brand like Applegate whenever I can find a coupon for it is still part of my #CleanCouponing strategy.

You have a chance to enter below for your very own Applegate grilling kit, complete with a meat thermometer, apron, grilling mitt and great food!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As always, my opinions are my own, even when sharing sponsored posts like this.

Basil Harvested

Kitchen Garden #CleanCouponing Chat

If you could pick one thing to grow organically in your own kitchen garden, what would it be?  Will you be growing some of your own fresh vegetables and herbs this year?  Join us Thursday, March 12 at 9 pm Eastern on Twitter for our next #CleanCouponing chat on growing a kitchen garden!

Tomatoes Garden Twitter chat

 

What easy plants would an expert gardener suggest you try?  We’ll share those ideas.

Is seed saving really worth it?  I’ll share how that’s been working for me.

Where can you go to find open pollinated, heirloom seeds that you could use to continue seed saving each year?  I’ll share some of my favorite sources for non-GMO seeds.

Be sure to join us tonight at 9 pm Eastern and follow @FlourSackMama and @CleanCouponing.  Use the hashtag #CleanCouponing to join in the conversation!

spaghetti

#CleanCouponing Pantry Meals to Stretch Your Dollars

Post by Jessica

When Christmas is over and the holiday travel is done, our family tries hard to settle back into a routine. But, we usually realize early in the New Year that some of our overindulgences have left our wallets a little thin. And, since it’s not like we can avoid paying the electric bill, we find other ways to tighten the purse straps. The main place to save is on groceries, with some common sense #CleanCouponing techniques.

spaghetti

I like to make the food budget stretch by attempting to use everything (and I mean everything) in the pantry. It seems throughout the year I stock up on good deals. That, combined with my garden canning, can lead to some interesting, but wallet friendly, meals.

Remember that time you bought 20 boxes of pasta because it was on sale?

  • Toss it with some canned tomatoes, Italian dressing and cubed cheese and you have a quick and easy pasta salad.
  • Or use some of your homemade pasta sauce stash, sautéed with ground beef for a classic spaghetti and meat sauce.

I will admit I went overboard with canning this year. I have dozens of jars of applesauce left. But, it makes a nice fresh side for any meal!

  • The ever classic BFD (breakfast for dinner). Scramble up some eggs and whip up some pancakes. Add applesauce on the side and it’s a nice meal, mostly from pantry overstock.
  • Our family likes pork chops and applesauce any day of the week.

Some other family favorites include:

  • Drain a jar of tomatoes, drain a can of black beans, 1 cup of rice and 1.5 cups of chicken stock. Throw it all in the rice cooker and when done it’s a delicious rice meal.
  • Tomato soup made from the extra jars of tomatoes.
  • Pizza casserole also uses a lot of those pantry ingredients (mix together cooked pasta, a jar of pizza sauce and layer it with mozzarella cheese. Top with cheese and pepperoni and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes).

Be creative and have fun with dinner all while saving a little dough the #CleanCouponing way!

Chefs, Home Cooks, Cookbook Authors Talked #CleanCouponing Holiday Food with Flour Sack Mama

How young can we start involving our children in meal making?  Is it really possible for kids to want to eat their vegetables?  What’s a new way to serve up sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving?  These questions and more came up during our #CleanCouponing Holiday Food Twitter chat!  In case you missed it, here’s a recap of some of last night’s flavorful conversation:

Instagram Twitter Party

 

Traditional food

#CleanCouponing Holiday Food edition Twitter Party November 20

Ready for Thanksgiving?  How about winter holidays beyond that?  Do you use traditional recipes for Hannukah?  Do you always prepare cranberry sauce just like your grandmother used to make it?  Are you wondering how to pick the best turkey?  Tired of turkey and looking for alternatives?  What about GMOs in your holiday dinner?

Roasted meat with garnish and cowberry pie on festive table

Let’s talk turkey and more when we gather on Twitter for the next #CleanCouponing Twitter party to talk Holiday Food!  The event is set for Thursday, November 20th from 8 to 9 pm.  Follow along with hashtag #CleanCouponing and if you ask or answer questions, be sure to use the hashtag as well so everyone can have a conversation.

Follow current and former #CleanCouponing panelists here via Twitter list.

We’ll be joined by some special guests from the Pollan Family Table cookbook.  Plus, we’re hosting special nonprofit guest Center for Food Safety.  Be sure to enter here to win a cookbook from the Pollans or a $50 gift card from Flour Sack Mama.  Plus, add your Twitter handle when you RSVP to the event below.  Looking forward to chatting on Thursday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Making Jam2

#CleanCouponing by Gardening & Preserving

by Jessica

It is challenging to feed my family good quality, healthy food while sticking to a budget. I have four kids with big appetites and they love fresh fruits and vegetables. So, over the past few years I have taken on the challenge of giving them these foods they love without draining my bank account by creating a family garden and canning foods for the off season.

Inspecting First Tomatoes Picking Peaches

We began with the basics – tomatoes and bell peppers – in one four foot by eight foot raised bed. The whole family loved harvesting this little garden and as the kids grew, they wanted to try growing new edibles. Now, we have three raised beds as well as two in ground gardens and a significant container garden on the deck. We grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, strawberries, green beans, lettuce, radishes, sweet potatoes, tomatillos, basil and mint.

While the initial investment in creating a garden bed can vary based on location, soil, and type of garden; homegrown fruits and vegetables are significantly cheaper in the long run. And, if you start your plants from seed, the cost is much less than buying seedlings at the store. A quick Internet search will help you find the exact seeds that will grow well in your environment and in a pinch, you can buy the packets from your local grocery or hardware store.

Making Jam2

My kids have loved eating strawberries straight from the garden and digging up our first ever crop of sweet potatoes. But despite having eight tomato plants, the season was coming to an end and I didn’t have any extra tomatoes to can for the winter. And the children ate, literally, every strawberry the garden produced, leaving me nothing to make into jams and jellies — and I really do prefer to feed my family homemade spreads.

For winter food storage on a budget, I highly recommend checking out your local farmers market and farms. I have been able to buy tomatoes in bulk at a discount by talking to farmers. An extra 40 pounds of tomatoes can make plenty of extra pasta sauce and canned tomatoes to get my family to the next growing season.

In addition, fruit is often cheaper at “pick your own” farms. Our family had a couple great days together picking blueberries, blackberries, peaches and strawberries. And each time I open a new jar of blackberry blueberry jam, I remember how much fun we had picking those fruits. Many fruits can also be stored in the freezer.

Don’t be afraid to get creative while trying to save money and still feed your family great foods. You might start with a windowsill herb garden and discover you have a green thumb!

*Find detailed food preservation safety information at the National Center for Home Preservation.

Mark your calender for another #CleanCouponing Twitter party October 23rd!

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Organic Apple

Let’s Talk #CleanCouponing this Thursday Night!

Are you frugal with more than money?  Are you only interested in coupons and discounts IF a product is the best value or meets some special need?  Come join us Thursday, September 25 from 9 to 10 pm Eastern Time for another #CleanCouponing chat!  Follow us here on Twitter and watch for the hashtag.

Twitter chat September

We’ll keep it simple this month.  Let’s share strategies for stretching a dollar with REAL food or for seeking out non-toxic products without spending a fortune.

We’d love to hear your favorite topics that you want to see discussed here, too!

What about a value like supporting local farms and businesses?   We’ll talk a bit about that, as well.

Looking forward to chatting with you Thursday night along with the Flour Sack Mama blog!

 

Organic Apple

An Organic Apple a Day…

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what about the pesticides we’ve been ingesting along with those apples?  It’s hard to say, isn’t it?  Healthy guidelines from places like Choose My Plate tell us to fill at least half our plate with fruits and vegetables each day.

Yet, pesticides have been found again and again as residues on conventionally grown apples.  This, according to government data collected and shared via watchdog Environmental Working Group.

Organic ApplesApples have the notoriety of topping the EWGs Dirty Dozen list that helps consumers understand which conventionally grown fruits and vegetables tend to contain the most pesticide residues.  The American Academy of Pediatrics, the President’s Cancer Panel and other health and environmental experts have long been cautioning about the health dangers of pesticides.

No wonder organic apples have been gaining in popularity, particularly among parents of young children who pound for pound are more susceptible to toxic pesticide exposures.

No doubt, the extra value and extra work involved in producing organic apples can add some expense.  How can you use #CleanCouponing methods to feed your apple-a-day needs?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Use store coupons for dollars off your total purchase, so you can make choices like organic apples and use that discount.
  • Check for discounted organic produce that might not be cosmetically perfect.
  • Shop farmers’ markets or local you-pick farms.
  • Sign up for a local food cooperative that might give member discounts on organic foods.
  • Be flexible and rotate from apples to other organic fruits as stores offer various special pricing.
  • Give up one junk processed food and apply that savings toward organic apples.
  • Split the cost of a bag of organic apples with a friend so you can each use half that week.

What #CleanCouponing methods do you use to make organic apples available for your household?