Tag Archives: Milks

What is Carrageenan?

what-is-carrageenan

So I just got through having a very interesting conversation with a fellow tubie mom.  She was looking for advice because her son had suddenly been vomiting his morning blends.  At first she thought it might be a cold but no other symptoms arose.  He was tolerating broth and baby food so it did not sound like a flu bug.  Then she mentioned a change in the coconut milk she had been buying for her blends.  She went from using Silk coconut milk to using Simple Truth coconut milk.  She questioned whether or not it might be a particular additive in the Simple Truth that was not in the Silk.  That additive was Carrageenen.  Since I make my milks fresh, I hadn’t thought about additives and the side effects they might have. I vaguely remember hearing the name but had no idea what it was so I hung up the phone and went looking.

After clicking on the first website that spoke about it and reading the contents, a light bulb went off.  There was a quote from an article that made me feel that this mom had hit the nail on the head:

“Although derived from a natural source, carrageenan appears to be particularly destructive to the digestive system, triggering an immune response similar to that your body has when invaded by pathogens like Salmonella. The result: “Carrageenan predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding,” explains veteran carrageenan researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago. She says the food ingredient irritates by activating an immune response that dials up inflammation. Her previous work showed a concerning connection between carrageenan and gastrointestinal cancer in lab animals, and she’s involved with ongoing research funded through the National Institutes of Health that is investigating carrageenan’s effect on ulcerative colitis and other diseases like diabetes.”

And what do pathogens like Salmonella trigger the body to do?  You guessed it.  Vomit.  Unfortunately a lot of organic foods add these ingredients to stabilize their products and add shelf life.  So it could be that or a number of different additives that could be causing this little tubie’s tummy troubles.  The best answer is to go back to what was working.  If the vomiting stops, you’ve at least solved the immediate problem.  Then, keep a list of ingredients of the problem item in a file.  If a similar problem arises from another product compare the ingredients to see what they have in common.   Then research the side effects of those ingredients so that you can narrow down the list culprits.

It is best, whenever possible to make your own milks.  That way you know exactly what is in it and what, if anything, needs to be removed.  It is also much more cost effective.  I do understand that not everyone has the time to do this.  But, if you are cooking and/or blending for someone on a specialized diet or has multiple allergies/sensitivities, it is well worth the time and effort.

If you are interested in reading more about Carrageenan this article contains a lot of interesting information.

Coconut Milk/Pros and Cons

As Matthew grows it gets harder and harder to keep up with his calorie need without adding more formula.  To complicate things more, in the last 2 years, his bowel has begun functioning much less efficient.  Because of that I tested him for 4 days with coconut oil to make sure he wasn’t allergic to it.  Once I saw that he was not allergic to it, I began making his oatmeal with fresh coconut milk I blend myself.  Since I had already done research on it, I felt comfortable giving it to him.  I will post that recipe and my recipe for coconut seed pudding soon.

Since there is a lot of confusion about the health benefits of it, I thought it would be good to pass on what I have read.  I feel strongly in educating myself on anything I eat but much more so for Matthew.  So many of us race off after every new “super food” that hits the news without looking into the particulars of it.  I tend to look for articles done with research behind them and, because of my medical background, articles written by MDs.  I know there are many doctors who are anti whole food healing but not all of them are.

I read this article about coconut milk and I felt it gave a good picture of the pros and cons of it.  Take a look and decide for yourself.

 

Fresh Almond Milk

This recipe can be found in the Vitamix Whole Food Recipe book.  My twist on it is the added vanilla.  Because I filter my almond milk, I found that adding the vanilla after meant using less of it. Also the mash remains unflavored so it can be used in a variety of recipes.

GE

3 cups of water
1 cup of raw almonds
Sugar or sweetener to taste (optional)
1 tsp of vanilla

1. Place the water and the almonds into the Vitamix container and secure the lid
2. Select variable 1.
3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to variable 10, then to High.
4. Blend for 2 minutes or until desired consistency is reached.

Food Tip: Milk can be filtered through a nut milk bag for a smoother consistency. The remaining almond mash can be used in lots of other recipes. Processed almond milks contain additives and many contain added sugar. One carton I found had 15g of sugar whereas fresh unsweetened almond milk has 0g and it’s always fresh.

Time Tip: Many recipes for almond milk require hours of soaking before blending. With the Vitamix that is unnecessary so it can be made on the spot with no waiting. Freeze the almond mash in ice cube trays so that they can be quickly added to recipes in 1oz portions. You never have to defrost more than you will use.

Money Tip: A quart of processed almond milk can cost $5 but making it fresh is about half if you buy the raw almonds in bulk.