Sunday, May 31, 2009

Artificial sweeteners

Here's another E-zine article from called "Lean Body Secrets." I shortened it a bit...

Artificial sweeteners and the huge list of products sweetened with them are marketed to you relentlessly as "healthy foods" or "healthier" than sugar or corn syrup sweetened products. But are they really? Just to clarify, some of the most popular artificial sweeteners on the market today are:
*Splenda (sucralose)



*Acesulfame Potassium (aka - acesulfame K)

These artificial sweeteners are used in abundance in almost every "diet" drink, "lite" yogurts, puddings, and ice creams, most "low-carb" products, and almost all "reduced-sugar" products. Heck, even most protein powders are loaded with artificial sweeteners too (just look on the ingredients and you'll usually see one or more of them).

Splenda is probably one of the worst offenders of claiming to be "healthy" as they say that it's made from real sugar. Don't be fooled! It's still an artificial substance. What they don't tell you is that Splenda is actually a chemically modified substance where chlorine is added to the chemical structure, making it more similar to a chlorinated pesticide than something we should be eating or drinking.

The truth is that artificial sweeteners are not even close to being healthy, and as you'll discover in a minute, can easily be just as bad for you, if not worse, than sugar or corn syrup. Most people think that they are doing something good for themselves by choosing the "diet" drinks or "lite" yogurts compared to the sugar-laden versions, but the problem is that you're exposing yourself to a whole new set of problems with the artificially sweetened drinks and foods.

I know you're probably frustrated by all of the contradicting messages you hear each day about which foods are good for you and which are bad. I'm sure just today you probably saw some clever ad or commercial somewhere screaming health benefits for a food product that is loaded with artificial sweeteners. Don't worry.

Just stick with me and I'll get past the marketing hype for you and decipher the truth. I'll also give you some ideas for great alternatives to artificial sweeteners as well as alternatives to sugar or corn syrup sweeteners.

The fact is, artificial sweeteners vs. sugar or corn syrup is really just a battle between two evils. Which evil is worse?

I'm sure you already know the problems with sugar or high fructose corn syrup sweetened products. The excess empty calories, blood sugar spike, and resulting insulin surge this creates in your body not only promotes fat gain, but also stimulates your appetite further, making things even worse.

On the other hand, artificial sweeteners save you calories, but there's growing evidence that they can increase your appetite for sweets and other carbohydrates causing you to eat more later in the day anyway. Therefore, you don't really save any calories at all. Also, studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can stimulate high insulin levels in your body too, which again can promote fat storage.

All of the 4 artificial sweeteners listed above are nasty chemicals that the human body is simply not meant to ingest. However, most of us are ingesting a whole lot of these chemicals on a daily basis. Aside from the problems I touched on so far, other health issues that have been related to artificial sweeteners in scientific studies as well as observations are:
*some have been linked to potential cancer risks
*negative effects on the liver, kidneys, and other organs
*stimulating cravings
*gastrointestinal problems
*developmental problems in children and fetuses
*and too many more issues to list

Now some of the above potential health problems are definitely not proven as fact in studies. However, some of them have been shown in animal studies given high doses. Regardless of the fact that any real health problems for actual human use are not proven yet, I don't know about you, but I'd rather protect myself and steer clear of these possibly dangerous artificial chemicals.

Of course, despite all of the health issues potentially associated with artificial sweeteners, the companies that sell the products will continue to claim that they are fully safe and they have studies that prove that they are safe. The bottom line is that the body was not designed to deal with foreign substances like artificial sweeteners. Take my word on that one.

So what are your options for alternatives? Well, your best alternatives for sugar or corn syrup are either raw honey, organic maple syrup, or even a little-known high antioxidant syrup called sorghum syrup (common in the southern US). Even though these alternatives still have the same amount of calories as sugar or corn syrup... honey, organic maple syrup, and sorghum syrup actually provide some nutrients and antioxidants, so it's not just empty calories. Empty calories stimulate your appetite more because your body is lacking nutrients.

Now you're probably thinking that you'd like to still save on calories but avoid the nasty artificial sweeteners. Good news... You can!

You've probably seen me reference this natural sweetener. It's called Stevia. I've been using it for years as an alternative sweetener when you still want to save a little on calories and sugar. Stevia is not artificial like the other chemical sweeteners I mentioned above. Stevia is a natural non-caloric herb. It is a South American herb and when dried into a powder, has a sweetness about 200-300 times stronger than sugar.
One problem I've noticed with using Stevia is that the pure powder is a very powerful sweetener, so you can easily use too much. However, I've found some good Stevia products that use a bulking agent added so that you can measure out the stevia powder in direct comparison to measuring sugar.

I've yet to see any negative reports or health concerns regarding stevia and only positive potential health benefits. I definitely give Stevia my seal of approval. Do yourself a favor (and your family), and if you are currently an artificial sweetener junkie, please consider switching to stevia.

One of the best products I've found over the years is made by a company Steviva. They have an excellent stevia product blended with another natural sweetener called erythritol. I suggest giving it a try! Just look for the "Steviva Blend". You can use it in your coffee or tea, to sweeten up plain yogurt, added to smoothies for extra sweetness, on cereals or oatmeal, in baking, or where ever else you might need a sweetener but want to reduce the sugar content.

Well, that's it for today. I hope you enjoyed this important discussion.

I know that was kind of long... hope you got through the whole thing. Thoughts?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Preschool graduation

We are officially done with preschool! J.T. had his preschool graduation and End of the Year Celebration on Thursday night. All of the grandparents were able to join Andy, Abigail and I for the event.

Here are a few pictures I took...

So serious...

Here is J.T. receiving his diploma...

It's hard to believe that he will be in Kindergarten in August.... oh how time flies!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

For sale: Canon 30D

I am thinking of selling my backup Canon 30D camera so I can upgrade my primary camera. Wanted to see if anyone who reads this is interested... this does not come with a lens but I could recommend some depending on what you will be shooting. It comes with the manual, battery charger and battery. I will also throw in a wireless remote to use with it, a "Intro to the 30D" DVD, and a Lowepro backpack camera bag, if you want.

You can buy a new one on Amazon right now for $799, or a used one for $450-600. This camera has only had about 6,100 photos taken with it. The shutter life is typically 100,000 shots. I am thinking of selling it for $450. Let me know if you are interested...

Facebook keeps me from blogging

It's totally my fault, I know, but Facebook has kept me from blogging lately. It's happening to my blog friends too... Shelley and Rosjuane. I have a goal of blogging 4-5 per week, but it hasn't been happening lately. I really don't spend that much time on Facebook but I think I get my fill of online interaction that way. I actually have quite a few topics that I want to write about it.... I just can't get motivated!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Diet soda makes you fat?

I get some E-zine articles called "Lean Body Secrets." There is some interesting information in them. Here's one I got recently (shortened a bit)...

"We all know by now that soda is one of the most evil things you can put in your body... the nasty chemicals, the gut-fattening high fructose corn syrup, and a myriad of health problems caused by this carbonated cocktail worshipped by those that don't care about their health or body.

Surprisingly, many people falsely believe that "diet" soda is in some way a good thing for losing body fat. In fact, I hear people all the time proudly state that they eat so healthy and only drink diet soda. So let's set the record straight...There is NOTHING even remotely healthy about drinking diet soda. In fact, I've even seen several studies that showed dedicated diet soda drinkers got even FATTER than their regular soda drinking counterparts.

Here's some findings from an 8-year University of Texas study that I had read...An excerpt from the study author: "What didn't surprise us was that total soft drink use was linked to overweight and obesity," Fowler tells WebMD. "What was surprising was when we looked at people only drinking diet soft drinks, their risk of obesity was even higher." "There was a 41 percent increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day," Fowler says.

As if we didn't already know how bad regular soda was for us, and now they're showing us studies that diet soda makes us even fatter than the already bad stuff! There's a lot of complicating factors as to why this occurs... One reason is that the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas create a negative hormonal response in the body that increases fat storing hormone production and increases cravings for more sweets and refined carbohydrates in the time period after consuming the diet drink. Another reason is that people may subconsciously think that because they are drinking a diet soda, that gives them more leeway to eat more of everything else, hence consuming more calories overall. I've said this all along, but the bottom line is that if you're serious about your health and body, soda of any kind (and artificial sweeteners in anything for that matter!) should be avoided at all times, except for very rare occasions when you can't avoid them.

So what is a good alternative to diet sodas? The best alternatives are good old water with lemon or unsweetened iced teas... you have plenty of options with teas - green, white, black, oolong, red... be creative in making your iced teas and you'll enjoy it more. Plus, you get a greater array of anti-aging antioxidants."

Pretty interesting huh? I don't drink a lot of soda, diet or regular, so this doesn't affect me too much, but it will keep me from even having the occasional soda.

I have been hearing and reading some horrible things about artificial sweeteners lately too.... I will save that for another blog post. What are your thoughts on this subject?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

First pedicure

Abigail and I went to get pedicures yesterday afternoon. She received a gift certificate for one at Christmas from Tami. Abigail really wanted us to go together so she got me a gift certificate for my birthday. She had a great time and was giggling the whole time. She was just so excited to go, plus she is very ticklish. She picked a bright pink color with purplish sparkles over the top.

I picked the same bright pink color... hold the purple sparkles. She messed up her polish three times before we even left Tangles and then once in the truck on the way home. I was able to fix it, though. It was really neat to see how excited she was about this...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Donuts for Dads

Today Abigail's school had a fundraiser called "Donuts for Dads." It is raising money to buy new books for the school. It started at 7:30 am through 8:15 which is when school starts. Here they enjoying their donuts.

John and Jared joined them too...

I went to the event too. Yes, I know I am not a Dad, but I wanted to help out and be able to take a couple pictures.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Field Trip

On Wednesday, J.T.'s preschool took a field trip to Shane and Kristina's dairy. They are an organic dairy that sells its milk to Horizon.

First, we loaded the kids (and some adults) up on the hay wagon for a ride out to the pastures to see the cows. The kids were able to touch a calf that had been born that day...

Isn't Shane doing a great job as one of our tour guides?!

All the kids got to take a turn feeding one of the calves...

It was a beautiful day and the kids had a great time. Of course, most of this stuff isn't new to our family, but I think it's so important for kids who never see this to get to experience it. Thanks Shane and Kristina!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Teacher gifts

I am struggling on what to give for end-of-the-year teacher gifts this year. Any ideas? I have 8 of them to buy between both kids so I can't spend a lot on each. I want to come up with some really creative idea. I prefer to give something consumable so it isn't just something collecting dust on a shelf. Suggestions????

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Only in Humboldt

I saw this posted on Joyce Benton's Facebook and I just had to share. Here's how Joyce got this shot...

She said, "There were actually two trucks in the parking lot - the officers were inside eating lunch. I was at the stop sign headed toward Ferndale when I noticed and had to turn around in the Creamery parking to get back. The officers were just leaving and I did get permission to take the pic, but they weren't waiting around or posing for me - the other truck was gone before I could get my camera out. Truly, only in Humboldt would you see this unmanned pickup fully loaded while the driver is in eating his lunch!"

Thanks Joyce for letting me share your photo!! Here's a great lesson in why everyone should always have a camera with them... you never know what you will see.

For those of you that can't tell what's in the back of the Sheriff's truck, it is marijuana plants. They must have had another big bust somewhere.

Monday, May 18, 2009

2009 Hot Iron Branding

We survived another Hot Iron Branding and BBQ. This was the 13th year that we have done it. My parents hosted for the first 10 years. We took a year off, and when Andy and I took over the business, we brought it back. We had a beautiful day and I think everyone had a good time. There were so many kids running around that it seemed like the kids outnumbered the adults.

I thought I would share some action shots....

Here are the winners of the "Pro-Am" branding.... Bert, Don, Brian, and Donny. They each received a silver buckle.

And the winners of the "Open" branding... Lane, Cameron, Lane and Wes... They received silver spurs.

Overall, I think it was a great day! Should we do it next year?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Busy, busy

It's been crazy around here.... leading up to a very busy weekend. We've had something every night this week! Tonight we have Abigail's school carnival, then we are going to my parents' house for dinner because Mary, Jeff, and Michela will be here. Tomorrow the craziness really starts! I am taking pictures for 1st Communion in the morning. Then we have our 13th Annual Hot Iron Branding and BBQ in the afternoon and evening. On Sunday, we have Clint's branding. I will try to get some pictures posted on Monday.... Have a great weekend everyone!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Mothers Day gifts

In addition to Andy's perfect Mothers Day gift, the kids made me some very nice gifts too. I wanted to share them....

Here's a necklace that Abigail made...

And a frame that she made at school...

And the necklace that J.T. made me...

And the "Garden Angel" flower pot he made at school...

Pretty neat, huh? This was definitely my best Mothers Day ever...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers Day

Do you hear something? Me neither because it's totally quiet in my house since I am home alone! Yes, that's right.... I am home alone on Mothers Day! This was Andy's gift to me. Don't I have an awesome husband? Yes I do! Andy took the kids out to the hills to some friends' branding today. I was invited too, of course, but chose not to go so I could spend some time with MY mom today. My dad took her and I to brunch at the Scotia Inn. The food was really good and it was a nice, relaxing time to spend with my parents.

I feel a little guilty that I am not spending time with my kids on Mothers Day, but they really wanted to go to the branding today. We will celebrate later with dinner at Andy's mom's house with the whole family.

Now I am off to take a walk in the sunshine! Happy Mothers Day to all of you!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My assistant

I had a photography session today in Ferndale. J.T. was at a birthday party so I brought Abigail along to be my assistant.

When she wasn't climbing the tree...

I had her sit on my stool to check the lighting, etc. She had quite the time... (do you notice the blue tongue? She had just eaten a blue popsicle)....
I guess she figured she could make any face she wanted since I really wasn't trying to get any "real" shots of her....

Here's a couple of the girl I did the session with. She is graduating from 8th grade in a few weeks. Isn't she gorgeous!

I am really happy with how my photography business is coming along. I am not too busy with it so I am really enjoying it. I have a couple "events" to photograph in the next couple weeks. I will try to get photos posted when they are done....

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I had a great day! Andy took J.T. with him to the ranch so I had a peaceful day to myself. Thanks to my wonderful husband for giving me a much-needed break!

I was able to do several of my favorite things... a little shopping this morning, and laying in the sun, taking a nap, and taking a walk this afternoon. Can't beat that!

Tonight we have Kindergarten orientation....

Mothers Day Tea

On Wednesday, J.T.'s school had its annual Mothers Day Tea. My mom and Andy's mom were able to make it. We had muffins, fruit and juice or iced tea.

Yay! I am in a picture! Here's J.T. and I with his Mothers Day gift for me. Do you notice that he picked green and yellow for his paint colors. You probably can't see it, but on his Mothers Day card that he made, he drew a camera! Isn't that cute!

The Childrens Center staff did a great job putting together the Tea and the gifts!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandma Pam!

Last night we celebrated Pam's birthday here. The kids always want to help with blowing out the candles and opening the gifts... this time was no different.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

5 years ago today...

Just for fun I dug this out of the photo archives...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

So sorry

Andy said he's going to stop reading my blog because I never post anymore.... sorry about that, my wonderful husband. :) I haven't been able to think of anything to write about this week... Maybe I need to be asking anyone who reads this how to deal with my 8 year old daughter who I think is a teenager already.... suggestions on how to deal with all this attitude?