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The Benefits of Home Food Canning

food canningAnyone with a backyard garden or a fruit tree is blessed every year with an abundance of produce. It gets ripe all at once, and very few families can manage to use it all. Some people give it away, others throw it away. However, the best use for excess produce is to preserve it by home canning and eat it later, when the fresh foods are in short supply.

Nutrition

Fruits and vegetables preserved at home when they are at the peak of ripeness are much more nutritious than the produce offered in the store. The store produce was picked while unripe and will never reach its peak of flavor or nutritional value. Canning preserves the nutrition so you can enjoy good health and your diet all year round.

No additives

An astonishing number of commercial salsas, relishes and sauces have been loaded up with sugar, salt and preservatives. Instead of consuming these unwanted and unneeded ingredients, home produce can easily be converted into sauces and relishes- without the unhealthy additives- and canned for year-round use.

You may seek out the produce labeled as ‘organic’ in the store, but unless you grow your own, you’re never really sure if it is actually pesticide-free. Shopping at the farmer’s market can give you more confidence in how your produce is grown, but farmer’s markets close during the winter. Eugenia Bone says “Preserving in an extension of the values that made you shop in the farmer’s market in the first place.”

Self reliance

Being able to can and store your own produce might be an important skill in case of a natural disaster. Home-canned foods can last for years if the power goes out. If there is some sort of disruption in the current food supply, you can grow food to eat, and continue to eat it in canned form throughout the winter. Even if there is no natural disaster, canning your own produce is so much more economical than buying commercial produce and canned goods.

Environmental impact

Home canning has very little environmental impact. You grow the food at home in your composted kitchen waste, can it in your kitchen, and eat it at home. You re-use the cans. Compare that to produce grown commercially using artificial fertilizers, trucked for thousands of miles, canned in a factory in a non-reusable container, and then trucked to the store.

Easy

Many home gardeners work hard to generate vast amounts of produce, and then are afraid to try canning to preserve the fruits of their labors. It is, however, quite easy to learn how to can, pickle and make jams and jellies. Practically anyone can obtain the necessary equipment and learn how to do it safely and easily. The United States Department of Agriculture offers free on-line instructional booklet.

 

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Three Diet Tricks That Help Tone Common Trouble Areas

toning areasEveryone has their trouble areas- some people have a tendency to develop thunder-thighs, others get a jelly belly, and many develop “turkey necks”, which lead us to googleing ‘how to lose neck fat’. Although the idea that exercise could spot-reduce fat was disproven some years ago, there is some evidence that dietary manipulation can help reduce and tone specific trouble areas as stated in these Venus Factor reviews.

The belly

The generous, swelling belly is a common problem in both men and women as they get older. Unfortunately, having a large belly is also linked to a host of health problems- cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, insulin resistance. Belly fat is deposited in response to stress, lack of sleep, and dietary carbohydrates. While it may not be possible for you to control the amount of stress and sleep in your life, you can certainly reduce your carbohydrate intake. There is a very strong link between dietary carbohydrates and belly fat. Subjects who reduce their carbohydrate intake develop slimmer waistlines even if they don’t lose any weight according to the scale.

The reduction in carbohydrates necessary to trim belly fat isn’t extreme by any means- replacing a carbohydrate-heavy breakfast of cereal or bagels with an omelet is often sufficient to produce a slimmer waistline within a couple of weeks. Simply avoiding sugary drinks like soda, juice, “smoothies”, sweet coffee concoctions and the like can dramatically reduce sugar intake for many people.

Avoiding sugars can sometimes be tricky- read the labels. Often foods that you’d expect to be low in carbohydrates like yogurt, peanut butter and tomato sauce have been loaded up with sugar. According to Sandy Gigosh, registered dietician, “foods created to be artificially low in fat should never be eaten” – the manufacturers have replaced the healthy fats with belly-enlarging sugars instead. For example, low-fat salad dressing may contain more sugar per serving than a slice of cake.

The thighs

Although depositing fat in the thighs is often genetic, there are dietary strategies that can help reduce thunder-thighs. For example, try snacking on nuts. Nuts are loaded with protein – which encourages your body to replace fat with muscle- and also contain lots of healthy fats, that make you feel full while improving your health. Other similar high-protein, healthy-fat foods include free-range eggs and fish such as tuna and salmon.

The upper arms

For those bingo wings, it’s best to eat a lot of vegetables- aim for at least 50% of your plate to be covered with greens. Salad, broccoli, anything green. Avoid grains of all kinds, even whole-grains. Instead, eat beans. They are loaded with fiber and protein, which will stabilize your blood sugar and make you feel full. The ideal meal to fight flabby arms is a salad loaded with chickpeas or kidney beans.

If you pay some attention to your diet, you can fight your trouble spots. Of course, it never hurts to exercise, too.

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Benefits of Food Drying

food dryingNo-one really knows when preserving foods by drying them began. That’s how old the practice is. The fact that it continues up to the present is testament to its usefulness. Many common foods are the result of this practice with raisins and rice being among the most familiar. Originally, this process was performed relying only on sunlight but has shifted to more reliable techniques starting with the invention of the food dehydrator in France in 1795. The practice has continued up to the present for the simple reason that it has a few advantages over other methods such as the following.

  • Low Energy Consumption
  • Compactness
  • Less Weight
  • Easy Storage

Using Less Fuel

Although some dehydrating approaches like using an oven can actually consume more energy than when canning or freezing, using a dehydrator that desiccates fruits and vegetables slowly with low warmth is very affordable. Using the sun to perform this task is only practical where several clear days are available and the humidity levels are very low. Dried foods consume less energy afterwards, though, since they don’t require a special storage environment like a refrigerator.

Less Room

Fruits and vegetables are mostly water with levels between 80 and 95%. When this moisture is removed, the food items will shrink considerably. For instance, tomatoes will contract to just 1/16th their normal size when dehydrated. This translates into less storage space and more concentrated nutrition in the food items. While drying eliminates more nutrients and water-soluble vitamins like A and C compared to canning or freezing, other vitamins and especially minerals like selenium, iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium remain in full.

Light-weight

Along with less volume, dried foods aren’t as heavy. This provides an advantage in two ways. Carrying them on hikes, to sporting events, or other such situations is easier than with other types of foods so more of them can be carried. The lighter weight of dehydrated foods also means they don’t require the stronger shelves needed for heavy cans or jars of canned foods.

Simple Storage

Dried foods not only don’t need heavy-duty shelving or a freezer, they can be kept in simple packaging that keeps dirt and dust off of them. This can consist of anything from paper bags to plastic containers. It’s important to note, though, that dried foods preserve longer when temperatures and moisture are kept low. Air-tight plastic bags and storage-ware and a cool basement or root cellar work best. As Rachel Inniss, a consultant with the University of Missouri Agriculture Extension, described it, “Foods stored at temperatures under 60 degrees F will keep approximately one year, at 80 degrees F to 90 degrees F the food begins to deteriorate within several months.”

A great article on selecting a food dyer. (A bit old but still applicable to today’s models.)