The Truth About Eggs

The Truth About Eggs

“When chickens get to live like chickens, they will taste like chickens too.”  ~Michael Pollan

BY BRITTRIC

Eggs are truly an ideal food.

Not only are they one of the best sources of protein, but also one of the least expensive. And nearly everyone can tolerate eating them regularly. Many mistakenly believe eggs are bad for your heart due to their cholesterol content, but this is a serious misconception. Aside from being an ideal source of protein, eggs can also provide vital nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin E, omega-3 fats and beta carotene. However, not all eggs are made equal…

Conventional egg production agriculture (also known as a “Confined Animal Feeding Operation” or CAFO) raises hens indoors and in cages. Large commercial egg facilities typically house tens to hundreds of thousands of hens. This has raised concerns about animal welfare, environmental damage and nutritional impacts. Egg-laying hens confined to cages do not have space to move or stretch, becoming prone to skeletal problems and disease. Large numbers of animals confined in small spaces also pollute the air, water and soil with the vast amounts of manure they produce.

True free-range eggs are from hens that roam freely outdoors on a pasture where they can forage for their natural diet including seeds, green plants, insects and worms. According to USDA regulations, free-range, egg-producing hens must be given access to the outdoors. However, many large commercial egg producers get away with allowing their hens access to a tiny, covered outdoor area while still giving the hens conventional feed. The feed is a crucial component, as the main ingredients of commercially raised hens’ diets are genetically modified (GMO) soy and corn. Commercial eggs, even if they state “free-range” on their label, will typically fall into this category.

>> EGGS EXPLAINED

Your best source to buy fresh eggs is a local market or farmer that allows hens to forage freely outdoors. In addition to being more environmentally friendly and humane, free-range eggs are also nutritionally superior. You can tell if the eggs are truly “free-range” by the color of the egg yolk. Foraged hens that are fed a healthy, natural diet produce eggs with bright orange yolks. Dull, pale yellow yolks are a sure sign the eggs came from caged hens that were confined from foraging for their natural diet.

Cage Free Eggs, grain-fed, grass-fed, true forager yolk colors

Ultimately, there is no better way of knowing where your food comes from than to grow it yourself. Raising chickens ensures a steady supply of fresh, nutritious organic eggs free of antibiotics, hormones and other unnatural additives. Next summer, along with a vegetable garden, I am also going to be starting my own backyard chicken coop. For those of you who are interested in becoming more self-sustainable, I will be sharing my research and experience all along the way….stay tuned !

Briar Extended Chicken Coop & Run - Williams SonomaRaising chickens ensures a steady supply of fresh, nutritious organic eggs free of antibiotics, hormones and other unnatural additives.

[Featured photo credit:  Nicole Ricci, Write for You Marketing]

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BrittRic - Lifestyle & Awareness BlogBrittRic is a lifestyle blogger, landscape photographer and environmental conservationist. ::Feel free:: to follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterest and Twitter. Contact: bsricci@gmail.com

DIY | Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

DIY | Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

Ever since I learned how to make natural peanut butter at home it has been one of the main staples in my diet. not only is peanut butter a great source of unsaturated fats and vegetarian protein, it is also an important source of B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant known to have cancer fighting properties.all in one beautiful creamy, dreamy, buttery spread.  friends – i think i’m in love.

this recipe is so easy to throw together. it requires less than 30 minutes and consists of only four basic ingredients.

here’s what you need:
small food processor
1 ½ c. peanuts
virgin coconut oil
raw, unfiltered honey
cracked sea salt
16 oz jar (i just reused an old salsa jar)

here’s what to do:
process peanuts on high for about 1 minute. once they are broken down into smaller bits, add raw honey for sweetness, coconut oil for creaminess, and a pinch of sea salt until desired flavor and consistency. process peanuts for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. you may have to stop a few times to scrape the sides–c’est tout. its that simple !

natural creamy peanut butter | brittric.com

natural creamy peanut butter | brittric.com

beyond being easy to make, this natural peanut butter is incredibly versatile. i lather it on pita bread, serve it alongside carrots, apples or bananas, and sometimes even treat our little pup, “reagan” to a lick of the spoon when i’m done.

a jar of this stuff usually lasts a little over a week in our family =) enjoy.

 

DIY | Almond Milk

DIY | Almond Milk

BY BRITTRIC

I think most of us have been found guilty of buying cheap milk from sad cows on industrial farms. As part of my efforts to achieve a “clean eating” lifestyle, I seek out the best quality milk I can find, from local and organic sources whenever possible. This means milk that is considerably more expensive than the stuff I can buy from the convenience store around the corner, but as with meat and eggs, I think what that extra money buys — better animal welfare, fewer antibiotics, pesticides and growth hormones, support for a more sustainable food system — is well worth it.

Recently, whilst sampling a sip of store-bought Silk almond milk from my parents’ refrigerator, I thought I had discovered the perfect alternative — that is until I read the ingredient label on the back of the carton. There I found industrially-processed thickeners, gums, emulsifiers and stabilizers such as carrageenan, an additive that has been linked to gastrointestinal issues, inflammation, ulcers and colon cancer. So much for being a healthy alternative, huh??

When in doubt, I usually find that DIY is the best alternative. You are in complete control of every ingredient, where those ingredients come from, how much you need and when you need it. It cuts down on packaging waste too. Homemade almond milk is a healthy alternative for those who avoid dairy for personal reasons or lactose intolerance, and is also a clean, smart way to sneak additional nutrients into your diet.

Almonds are a rich source of biotin and vitamin E. Biotin is essential for your body’s energy production, while vitamin E works as an antioxidant to protect your body from free radical damage.

Not only have I found homemade almond milk to be a healthier option, but it is also incredibly easy to make at home — you just need a few basic ingredients, a nut milk bag and a blender.

Here is everything you need >> 1 heaping cup of raw organic almonds, 3-4 cups of water, a high-speed blender, a nut milk bag and a resealable mason jar

1 – First, soak your almonds in a bowl of cold water overnight. Soaking helps soften your almonds, causing the almond to shed its skin and release its nutritional enzymes. Soaking also allows for easier blending and a more velvety milk. ✴ If you don’t have time to soak them overnight, no worries! Just add almonds to a pot of boiling water for 4-5 minutes to achieve a similar effect.

Soaking Almonds

2 – Once your almonds have soaked for approximately 12 hours, drain, remove skins (optional) and rinse.

Rinsed Almonds

3 – Put almonds into your blender with 3-4 cups of water. ✴ For a creamier milk, use 3 cups of water. To get more mileage out of your almonds, use 4 cups. Then, blend at a high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Almond milk blend

4 – Next, set up your mesh nut milk bag over a wide container, pour milk blend into the bag and squeeze, straining out the remaining bits of almond pulp.

nut milk bag

5 – Finally, pour almond milk into a mason jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 or 6 days. Et voilà !

DIY Almond Milk

BRITT’S DIY ALMOND MILK TIPS

✧ Try adding a pinch of vanilla extract, cinnamon, sea salt, raw honey or maple syrup for a little extra flavor. Mmmm =)

✧ Since homemade almond milk doesn’t contain any emulsifiers, it has a tendency to separate. Always give it a good shake before using.

✧ What is a nut milk bag, you ask? My first time attempting this, I didn’t know either. However, when I ran my blender on high for nearly 5 minutes but couldn’t break the specks down any further, I quickly realized why a nut milk bag is so important. They are designed to strain out the almond pulp with ease, leaving behind perfectly smooth, creamy almond milk. And they are very affordable. I purchased my reusable nut milk bag from Diana Stobo online, but have also read of people using other creative alternatives such as  pantyhose, cheese cloths, kitchen towels or even teeshirt fabric.

✧ Instead of discarding the left over almond pulp, save it in the freezer for a later use. Add some to your next smoothie or mix into your baked goods to add an extra punch of fiber. You can use it to make granola bars, cookies, I even saw a recipe for pizza crust! As always, there are tons of ideas on Pinterest. Cheers !

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BrittRic - Lifestyle & Awareness BlogBrittRic is a lifestyle blogger, landscape photographer and environmental conservationist. ::Feel free:: to follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterest and Twitter. Contact: bsricci@gmail.com

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