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Is Your Pantry Loaded With MSG?

September 21, 2010

I bet you think “oh good!” when you are looking at a Chinese take out menu and it clearly states “NO MSG.”  As mothers we constantly try to buy things that are wholesome, nutritious, and healthy for our families.  I bet if you opened up your pantry you would see things that are “all natural” or “no sugar added.”  The truth is, that if you have anything packaged, boxed, or canned… you have MSG in your pantry.

We all know it’s bad for us, but what exactly is MSG?  MSG is short for monosodium glutamate. It’s a man made chemical used as a flavor enhancer.  For the geek: MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid (thus, the name monosodium glutamate). It was extracted from gluten (wheat) in 1909 and used as a fantastic flavor enhancer in Japan to their soups. Modern technology has helped in extracting more flavor and splitting the process of the sodium extraction; so you will see dysodium 5’-inosinate (IMP) and disodium 5’-guanylate (GMP).

If that just sounded Chinese to you… here is the low down:  MSG is used around the globe in soups and broths, sauces, gravies, and flavoring and spice blends. MSG is also present in a variety of processed foods such as canned and frozen meats, fish, poultry, vegetables, and ready-to-eat food plates, dressings, ketchup, mayonnaise, soy sauce, sausages, snacks, chips, some processed cheeses, soup powders for instant noodles, etc (upsetting… since I lived off top ramen noodles in college).

What really bothers me as a parent is that the food industry knows many of us read labels, that we shop with kids and often cave to what they want, and that we try to buy “all natural” food.  If you see “natural flavorings,” “hydrolized protein,” “spices,” or “seasoning” in a food label you are probably seeing a hidden way to “report” MSG in a food label.

Here is the kicker: open up your pantry (and fridge) and empty on the counter the items that contain any of the above ingredients.  I guarantee you that you’ll be shocked at how much MSG you have in your house. 😦

What can you do?  I try to go by the 80/20 rule.  We eat (at a minimum) 80% organic and wholesome ingredients and I understand that the other 20% I may not have control over. Example: the grandparents house, friends’ house, birthday parties, occasional drive-thru, and the desperate bribe a mother gives her children at the grocery store.

Don’t sweat it, be informed, and be conscious of making healthy choices for the entire family.

For Hidden Sources of MSG:

What Foods to avoid: I was very sad to read this page because I found out that our one drive-thru we visit has MSG in their chicken, sauces, and fries! Ya really wanna ‘eat more chicken?”

Many American’s pantries look like this….

Many of us would not know where to begin cooking if it looked like this…

–This is part of a series on how to have a pantry make over–

Of course, following the 80/20 rule 😉

Stay tuned…

No Beach? No Problem! Create a Make-Believe-Beach-Day

September 19, 2010

We live an hour north of New Orleans. No matter how it may look like to you on a map, there are no beaches here.  You have to drive at least an hour east to hit one in Mississippi; however, anyone from here will tell you that you have to go “at least 3hrs” for a good beach.  Today, I was looking for quality time not quality beach trip.

We have Fountainbleau State Park 30min from our house.  It does not have a “real” beach… but a man-made sand strip that resembles a beach right on the lake. It’s very small.  My kids are 2 and 4… they are small. Perfect match!

We packed our beach towels, folding chairs, soccer ball, buckets and shovels, food, coffee, change of clothes, sunscreen… What else would we need for this beach?

The kids were static when we arrived. They were at the beach! We spent a few hours making sand castles, playing with other families, walking up and down the man-made shore and had play time by the fountains.  Total trip cost: $3 entry fee to the state park.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Saturday off from work.  This afternoon we spent some quality family time and for a few hours we felt like we were on vacation.  The kids were sad to leave, but we promised to come back before it’s time for long sleeve.

Don’t have a Fountainbleau near by? Here are some ideas for you to create your own beach day.

1. Back Yard Beach.

You’ll need:

  • 5 bags of playground sand from home depot ($20).
  • kiddie pool
  • umbrella and any of the other props you may want to “take” to the beach

Inflate and fill kiddie pool in back yard.  Pour playground sand about 3-5ft from pool in mounds.  (Don’t worry, if you have grass you can just spread the sand when you are done). Set the stage.  Open the umbrella, set the chairs, bring out a picnic and let the kids play! Make sure you take lots of pictures!

2. Hike to da Beach

Do you live in the mountains and have no beach? No lakes nearby? I will never forge my Colorado summer back in 2000.  I saw a family in the middle of the mountains that were having a “hike-to-the-beach-day”.  They had done a short hike and settled in the middle of a clearing and staged a beach (no sand and no pool).  They had brought a volleyball net, ball, umbrella, blankets to sit on, food, drinks, radio, bathing suits and spf.  They were having a blast playing cards, eating their lunch and joking around!  Yes, they were in their bathing suits!  Who says you can’t have a beach 6,500 ft up? It may be all make-believe… but that’s ok with me!  Cost: FREE

Whether you go to the beach, go to a lake, create a beach in your back yard, or hike to da beach… Your attitude is what makes the day!  Not everyone has a few grand to spare for a three day vacation to the beach on a long weekend. Get creative… and make your own!  It’s the fun times that create the memories… not the money you spend to get them.

Late Night = Mommy time

September 16, 2010

Like so many other moms out there, I find myself finishing my daily to-do list late at night.  I just can’t seem to finish everything I set out to accomplish for the day.  Good thing that it’s 11:35pm and I still have 25minutes left of the ‘same’ day.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Experts in time management always suggest doing daily to-do lists. But why? Do they not know how many things moms have in their list?  Apparently those experts must not be “moms” themselves; otherwise, they would warn us against making them too long, too detailed, or too time consuming.  Today’s list was LONG and it only got LONGER.

I googled “How to make a good to do list” and not only did suggestions for apps, programs, widgets, and all kinds of things that are beyond my tech knowledge.  I did, however, stumble upon a web blog that caught my eye:  Why would I take advice from someone who calls herself dumb? Curiosity-Here-I-come.

Dumblittleman suggests the following:

  1. Make sure that the tasks you enter (in your t-d-l) are  single ones, ideally taking no more than an hour each. Seriously? I almost fell off the chaise! I have never met a mom who could dedicate one hour to a single task without interruptions.  1hr is how long it takes a mom to build a monument!  A task is 5-8min… thank-you-very-much!
  2. Don’t try to go into too much detail. If a task takes less than 15-20 minutes, it shouldn’t be on your list. Point #2 that his person isn’t a mom.  Has she heard of motherhood-induced-ADD?  It’s the little things I can’t remember… and they are usually important.  For example: Take carpool tag from husband’s car so I can pick up kids. Yes, I write this down too. Why? Because I am usually half way to school when I realize I forgot it at home (like today).
  3. Do you prefer a paper or electronic to do list? Can you really expect me to believe that I can get the same feeling of satisfaction when I click “done” on the electronic version than I get when I manually cross it out? Heck NO. It’s called “pen therapy.”
  4. Should you assign priorities to your tasks? If by priorities she means: GET IT DONE BEFORE KIDS GET BACK, then yes.  Otherwise… just write that stuff down!
  5. Do you use a closed or open to do list? If my list had three things written on it I think it would classify as a closed list.  But the REASON we write a list in the first place is because it has MORE than 3 things in it, right?

I searched further on Google and Bing and again came up with nothing useful. Whaaaatt???  I am realizing that my to do lists are mine. They are my way of staying on track of what my goals for the day may be; no matter how big or how small a task.  Did I write “take carpool” sign? Nope.  Did I forget? absolutely.  My brain is constantly racing and working on what’s coming up next.  I feel the need to cross things off my list that is written on a piece of paper.

Tomorrow is another day… with another list. 🙂

My to do list before and after.  Lots of things crossed!!  (although the list did get longer)

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