Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nutrition 101 - Part Two: Now What?

Well I posted awhile back just a few thoughts on nutrition. Here is my first follow-up: Now What? Several have asked me what I feed my family after eliminating all the aforementioned things. Well, read on!

In this post I just wanted to focus on nitrates/nitrites in food. Here is another link that talks about these preservatives in food with several helpful links at the bottom: How Stuff Works - What is Sodium Nitrate? Like so much of this stuff, there is no definitive answer that can be found as to exactly how dangerous these substances are and in what quantities they must be consumed to cause problems. The reality is that we may never know, but there is enough research that shows them (especially nitrites) to be cancer-causing that my family avoids them altogether. Just look at those links and see what else those substances are used in and you'll probably never want to feed them to your family again!

Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite is found in lots of prepared meats you buy at the grocery store - especially breakfast meats and deli meats. Luckily there are tons of alternatives that are really tasty available now. You need to look for uncured natural products. Here are some examples. Click on each photo to go to that product's site and see other products available!

Here is a list of a few of the foods I buy that are natural and uncured: turkey bacon, bacon, ham (I cut into slices and freeze in packs of 3 to cook for breakfast for the boys), chicken breakfast sausage (see photo above), turkey and chicken hot dogs, specialty sausages to grill (my favorite is chicken apple sausage on a big crusty hot dog bun with tons of mustard!), lunch meat (turkey, ham and roast beef), salami and prosciutto. I have yet to find uncured pepperoni to buy in any of my local stores but I keep looking. One of my local stores does carry a gourmet frozen pizza made with uncured pepperoni though!

Each store in my area carries a different selection of these items. What I do is when I happen to be near one of these stores I stop in and stock up. Almost every product I mentioned can be easily frozen. I will buy five packages of turkey bacon and freeze four. I will pull one out each week for the next month before I need to go back to that store. Now before that happened I had to acquaint myself with what each store carried. I also talked with the manager of my default store and requested all the items I wanted. They actually were willing to order several with the stipulation that if they didn't sell, they would not be ordered a second time. A few have stuck around and a few haven't but I was so glad I asked. If you happen to live near a Trader Joe's or a Whole Foods your life will be much easier in this regard.

Last, here is a simple recipe for homemade breakfast sausage. You'll never need to buy the pre-made, chemical-filled stuff again. This only takes a few minutes longer than buying the Jimmy Dean chub and knowing how many chemicals you are eliminating is worth those few minutes.

Maple Breakfast Sausage

1 pound ground pork (no msg, nitrates/nitrites and not low fat!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon sage
3 Tablespoons of pure maple syrup (yes get the real stuff! :)

Mix thoroughly and form into patties. Cook and enjoy! Freeze any leftovers and reheat when needed.

All measurements are to taste. The pork I buy is only preserved with salt so I don't need to add much more. You may want to adjust seasonings depending on the pork you buy. This does not work with chicken or any other lean meat - trust me ;). I make this for my boys so the sweet maple is perfect for them. If you prefer a spicy breakfast sausage google a recipe and you'll get tons of ideas! I usually triple this recipe and freeze the extra sausages in groups of three. I pull one packet out for breakfast, pop it in the microwave on defrost and it's as yummy as when you first make it.

Have fun searching out your local stores' collections of natural products. Let me know what you find.



Sputnik said...

Great tips! I shop at our default store to look for nitrite free lunch meats for our 'faux Subway' sandwiches. :-) I have found several packages of natural nitrite-free varieties to load into the freezer.
Love, Gretchen

thebookbaglady said...

Oooops--I left a comment not realizing my thirteen year old was logged into blogger. I'm cracking up at his name though...'Sputnik'. Love, Gretchen

mom24 said...

I love Applegate Farms and Hormel Natural deli meats. This stuff is the ONLY ham that we buy. carries some nice apple chicken sausages also that we love.
Great info - thanks!

my5wolfcubs said...

I make a very similar breakfast sausage with ground turkey (we don't eat pork)...I don't use a sweetener though. I'll bet it would taste great w/ maple syrup (I buy the big jugs from Costco).

Jennefer said...

Oh Lee!

Do share your turkey sausage recipe! I have tried a few and they were flops. I'd love a tried and true one!!!