Monday, May 27, 2013

19 Weeks

Well we're getting pretty close to halfway in this pregnancy journey! Here I am at 19 weeks...


This week's photo background: This week's spot is no ordinary brick wall...



It's the gym where Brandon and I met over 10 years ago! Back then it went by a different name, but the location is still the same. Funny story about how we met...we both actually would go to the gym at the same time, every single day just to see each other (but we would never talk). Obviously we were both too shy and just figured it was a coincidence that the other just happened to workout at the same time. 
The gym (that now goes by a different name)
where Brandon and I met 10 years ago.
But luckily after four long months of drooling over each other, a mutual friend introduced us. We went out on our first date later that week and have been together ever since. The reason I chose the location for this week is that our 6 year wedding anniversary is later in the week, so I figured it would be best to give thanks to the place that made it all happen. Ironically, about a year after we started dating, we both cancelled our membership and started working out from home, and haven't been back since taking this photo.  ( : 

Here we are at our wedding six years ago...

So glad you decided to get a
membership at the gym, Brandon!

When coming back to the gym this time, things were obviously a little different, since it was no longer just the two of us! Make way for Avery...

"Mom...just smile like THIS!"

Without this place, Avery wouldn't even be here! Kind of crazy to think about. Anyone else meet their significant other at the gym? Share below.

"I workout too!"

Questions of the week:

1. How big is the baby (with Avery's help)?

To eat or not to eat...

Clearly the most tempting food to date for Avery. So tempting in fact that you can already see a few bites taken from it!

A few minutes later, there was no taking it back. Luckily
she took a break so I could peel it. 

2. What I'm eating...
A glass of water with crushed ice is my favorite thing right now. Usually after dinner I crave some type of sweet treat or dessert, but lately all I want is a nice, big glass of water (with crushed ice). Maybe it's because the weather is getting warmer here in the Midwest, or by the end of the day I realize I haven't drank enough water so I have a sudden urge to get some hydration...but either way it's my favorite thing right now. 


Okay that was an innocent pregnancy craving...I still have my crazy cravings though there aren't that many. This week's is Trader Joe's Ridge Cut Salt & Pepper Potato Chips dipped in Trader Joe's Bold & Smoky Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce. Kind of strange, like most pregnancy cravings, but pretty dang good when you need a salty snack. And after learning all about GMOs I'm happy to find a GMO-free snack from Trader Joe's who's store brand of products are all GMO-free. Yeah!

Just a chip dipped in BBQ sauce...
nothing to see here. 

3. Anything new this week? I mentioned earlier that Brandon and I's wedding anniversary is coming up later this week and that is actually the same day that we will be having our Gender Reveal Party! Avery's Gender Reveal Party was one of my favorite memories of her entire pregnancy...

Here we are after the cake has been cut and I can see the
"pink" icing! 
For this Gender Reveal Party we are mixing things up a bit and we're going to be revealing the gender in a different way, so be sure to stay tuned later this week to find out what it is. Feel free to cast your vote below as to whether you think it's a boy or a girl. Avery's vote changes daily, which just cracks me up, but she does tend to lean more to saying it's a girl, so we'll see if she's right!

4. Best moment of the week: Feeling kicks! Back around 18 weeks I started to feel a random kick here or there, but in this past week, the movement has really increased. Granted, it's still small enough and not frequent enough for Brandon to feel, but I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before him and Avery can both watch and feel the kicks. In the mean time, I'll enjoy these little kicks to myself.

Here's Avery determined to feel a kick or just "tickle"
the baby, as she calls it.
One time when I feel it the most is when I'm a bit hungry and then I take the first bite of whatever I'm eating, bam...then I'll get a little kick. Almost to say, "It's about time Mom! I was hungry in here, keep that food coming!"Another common time is when I'm laying in bed, about to fall asleep, that's when the movement party begins. Or maybe I've just finally slowed down enough to really feel the movement, but either way, I love how it feels. Now if I could just know who/what to call "it" I'd be set!

Recently this post was linked up to "Tuesday Baby Link Up" over at the blog I Thought I Knew Mama, as well as a number of other blogs that are listed in the link above. So hop on over and check out some other fun baby posts!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How We Say NO to GMOs

Hi greenies, boy am I fired up and ready to tell you all about GMOs. Call me crazy for just now jumping on the anti-GMO bandwagon, but to be honest I really thought I was doing a decent job of keeping them out of my family's food...but I was wrong.



For those of you who don't know, GMOs stand for: Genetically Modified Organisms. GMOs are basically food or animals that have had their DNA tinkered with, often so the crop can withstand heavy doses of pesticide spray (think Round Up and Monsanto) or so that it can kill insects that try to eat the crop. The even more twisted part of GMOs that they combine the DNA from two SPECIES that wouldn't normally reproduce in nature. That just sticks in my mind as being especially odd.  Now what are the health implications that come from combining the genes from two species? Good question...no one knows!

Although an exaggeration, this is essentially what a GMO is:
a little DNA from this and a little DNA from that
 that all combined in the food we eat.

Now those definitions are all nice and fine but the real ramifications go much deeper. GMOS have been linked with producing toxins, allergens, and inflammation in the body which can lead to birth defects and even cancer. Talk about losing your appetite.

Recently a friend let me borrow a copy of the documentary, Genetic Roulette, and although it took me several weeks to finally getting around to watch it, when I did I was shocked....and kicking myself for watching or learning about this sooner, but I'm letting that go.

Here's a preview of the movie....



Two of the many things that startled me the most were:

1.) The fact that Bt (a toxin used in some genetically modified foods) was being found in blood of pregnant women and newborn babies. You heard me right, pregnant women and their babies...you've got to be kidding me! Hold the phone.... are you saying I could be giving my unborn baby GMOs and other toxins related to those GMOs because of food I'm eating right now? What did I pass onto Avery? You've got to be________ (fill with your choice of curse words) kidding me!" As a mom and especially a pregnant mom, the last thing I want to hear is that I am harming my unborn baby in some way and now you're telling me I could be passing on the Bt toxin just by eating a simple bowl of chips and salsa?


As I said before Bt is used is genetically modified foods because it is capable of killing any insect which tries to eat it, which is probably great for keeping crops alive, but what happens when we eat it? Clearly it stays in our system as based on this study, and from there what damage does it do to our bodies and our baby's body? Good question, wouldn't it be nice if it was being tested for safety? Fat chance.

2.) The second fact that really resonated with me was that GMOs are most likely the culprit when it comes to the dramatic rise we are seeing in food allergies. In the March of 1999, the UK who tracks their food allergies yearly, found that they had increased 50% from the previous year, and ironically in the prior year genetically modified soy had just entered it's their food system (learn more here). Also, between 1997 and 2002, the rates of peanut allergies doubled. What was in the food now that wasn't ten years ago or even twenty years ago...you guessed it: GMOs.

To the body, GMOs are foreign invaders, food molecules they have never come in contact with so what do they do? Attack. So even though you think you are just ingesting a typical ear of corn or normal stir-fry cooked with canola oil...your body reacts to it as though it as though it's a harmful substance which manifests itself in food allergy symptoms (hives, itching, swelling of the throat, etc.). This personally affects me because several years ago I came down with horrible digestive issues that plagued me daily, and it wasn't until getting a food sensitivity blood test that I was able to discover that I was "sensitive" (kind of a mild, but still uncomfortable version of a food allergy) to a number of foods such as: yogurt, cow's milk, wheat, gluten.

When given this list of foods that I was now unable to eat, I spent some time wondering and researching where did this come from? How did I get this? I didn't have these sensitivities as a kid, my whole family isn't allergic to these foods? Why do I have them and why do I have so many? Basically found nothing...until now. It clicked like a light bulb me, what if GMOs caused my food allergies? Whether it was rBGH (a hormone given to cows to make more milk)  that was in the milk I was putting on my cereal or the yogurt I ate daily, or the full of preservative-full pre-packeged snacks and dinners I was always eating, I couldn't help but wonder if that was where my problem stemmed from.


To this day, I still follow a gluten-free, vegan diet which stemmed from my many food sensitivities, but now I don't 100% better. I have to take a digestive enzyme twice a day and a pricey probiotic just to keep my digestive system happy.  After learning about GMOs and realizing that I was still eating them, I wondered if that was why I still had issues from time to time.  I wondered if I could remove them completely from my diet would I feel better? Not that I feel completely bad now, but how good could I feel if I was off all the genetically modified food that was confusing the heck out of my body?

Truly those two points are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my awakening to GMOs. And after watching the documentary, I spent the next few days and weeks learning, Googling, reading more books about GMOs and taking in as much research as I could about their dangers, as well as what foods they are most commonly in, and how to avoid them.  The next step was to take a walk through my kitchen to see if I was indeed consuming GMO foods without even knowing it. The answer...yes of course I was.

Here's a video-version of my discovery of GMOs in my food, how I look for them, and how I avoid them now (with some help from my little GMO-detective, Avery):




Don't have time to watch the video?  Let me break it down in pictures and tell you where GMOs are most often found.
They are found in 80% of prepackaged foods in the US and the most commonly genetically modified crops (as of 2011 from this source) are:
  • soy (94%)
  • cotton (90%)
  • corn (88%) 
  • canola (90%)
  • sugar from sugar beets (95%)
So if a food is made from one of those four ingredients and is NOT organic, there's a pretty good chance it's been genetically modified. Other commonly genetically modified foods include: alfalfa, papaya, zucchini, and yellow summer squash.

Now to confuse you even more, there's a list of even smaller ingredients that have been derived from their main source above (in GMO form) and placed into your foods, these include:

Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Dextrose, Ethanol, Flavorings ("natural" and "artificial"), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Flour, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Soybean Oil,  Soy Flour, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protien (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.
Find the complete list of "invisible GMO ingredients" here. 

So basically the only way to know if the food you are buying is GMO-free is to look for:

1.) The Non-GMO Project label (aka "the butterfly" as Avery calls it in the video).



2.) Or a "Certified Organic" label. For a food to be considered "organic" it can NOT contain genetically modified ingredients. 


Here we are checking for the "Non-GMO Project" butterfly or organic label on our foods...

"I see the butterfly!"

Now instead of playing food detective, wouldn't it be nice if each food was labeled as to whether it contained GMOs? Yes! But as many of you know, Proposition 37 did not pass last November in California, a ballot measure that would have required food containing GMOs to be labeled.

source

Did you know that 61 countries have mandatory labeling of GMOs, but the US and Canada do not? Now even though Prop 37 did not pass, 23 other states are working on passing mandatory labeling of GMOs, so that is promising. And on top of that, 92% of Americans want GMOs labeled. (source) So hopefully it's just a matter of time. But until then, thank goodness for the Internet and these two labels.

Okay so now that we know what to look for, take a walk through my kitchen with me as we find the GMO and Non-GMO foods. I don't mean to bore you with every detail and box, but when I first learned about GMOs I just wanted to see what it looked like to really go through each item of food and decide whether or not it was GMO. So come along with me...

"Yup, that's my Non-GMO food!"

When going through my food I did find some "safe foods" that were GMO-free. Some proudly said it with a "Non-GMO Project" label and others were just organic, either way, they were safe. Those included:

1. Most fruits and vegetables. I try to buy mainly organic, so in being organic I can trust that they are GMO-free.

Organic carrots, spinach, Gala apple, Navel orange, and celery.

In case you want to know, a good way to tell if your fruits or vegetables are GMO-free you can use this handy guide to decode it for yourself:

source
2. Grains, beans, and baking flours. I buy most of my beans and rice in bulk and organic, even if you are eating them conventional there's a pretty good chance they as long as they are the only ingredient (no oil added) then it's GMO-free. When it comes to baking flours (they aren't soy or corn-related) most are safe like this sorghum flour and millet flour (common gluten-free flours).

Sorghum flour, millet flour, organic short grain rice, organic
black beans.

3. Non-dairy milks. Here's are top three favorite milk alternatives and how I know they are GMO-free:
So Delicious Sugar-Free Vanilla Coconut Milk (labeled with Non-GMO Project label)
Silk Chocolate Soy Milk (labeled with Non-GMO Project label)


4. Soy products. I was always a stickler when it came to getting my tofu and tempeh organic, but as you'll see later this wasn't always the case with other soy products. Nonetheless, these two were safe!
WestSoy Tempeh Original (labeled with Non-GMO Project Label and USDA Organic)
Nasoya Extra Firm Tofu (labeled USDA Organic)


5. Sweets/Sugar. I steer away from traditional white sugar and syrups as much as possible and stick to natural sweeteners like: Madhava Organic Coconut Sugar (labeled with Non-GMO Project Label), and Field Day Organic Grade B Maple Syrup (labeled USDA Organic and according to their website, also Non-GMO Project labeled). In my baking I rely quite heavily on Enjoy Life's Mini Chips and although my bag did not state it, their website confirms that they are part of the Non-GMO Project. Last but not least, Navitas Natural's Cacao Powder that makes my smoothie-world go round, these are labeled USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project.


6. Baking Powder/Corn Starch. I use: Rumford Corn Starch (which states on the package: "Non-Genetically Modified Corn") and since corn starch is used to make baking powder, I also have the Rumford Brand of Aluminum-Free Baking Powder (labeled Non-GMO).


7. Moving on to Condiments. It turned out that most of our favorite condiments were either organic or Non-GMO:
Tree of Life Organic Yellow Mustard (labeled USDA Organic)
Muir Glen Organic Tomato Ketchup (labeled USDA Organic)
Annie's Naturals BBQ Sauce (labeled USDA Organic)


8. Other dairy products. Being gluten-free and vegan, I don't have many options when it comes to dairy replacements other than things that are already organic or non-gmo...and for once it paid off! Here are some of our favorites:
Zen Chocolate Pudding made with Almond Milk (labeled USDA Organic)
Amande Strawberry Yogurt made with Almond Milk (labeled Non-GMO)
Earth Balance Soy Free Natural Buttery Spread (labeled Non-GMO)


9. Cheese (Vegan Cheese that is). Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds (some ingredients are labeled Non-GMO on the package, but the brand is confirmed as being GMO-free on their website here).


10. Soda. Now I am not a soda person, I haven't drank it in years, but Brandon still drinks it. So I keep some Blue Sky Natural Soda on hand. (labeled Non-GMO). On top of that, Blue Sky is also caffeine-free, preservative-free, and free from artificial colors.


The main culprit in soda is going to be high fructose corn syrup, which comes obviously from corn, so that will be one you want to stay away from. But even with "diet sodas" that do not contain corn syrup, another GMO ingredient is aspartame...which has been linked to a whole host of health conditions, see below:
source

Then came the foods that I thought of immediately after watching the film, and I thought, "Oh that's gotta be GMO...shoot!" Luckily a day or two after making some of these discoveries, I headed to the grocery store and was able to find non-GMO alternatives, so take a look below.

You can find the ingredients listed of the GMO-containing food and I will highlight the possible GMO ingredients to the best of my knowledge, and in case you need a refresher, check the list above of the 4 main GMO crops, and here's a link to those other smaller GMO-ingredients.

1. Corn chips: Ingredients in On the Border Tortilla Chips: Stone Ground Corn, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following: Canola, Corn, Cottonseed, Safflower and/or Soybean Oil) Salt.

Non-GMO alternative: Que Pasa Organic Tortilla Chips (labeled USDA Organic and Non-GMO).


2. Corn tortilla shells: Ingredients in Mission Yellow Corn Tortillas:  Ground Corn Treated with Lime, Water, Cellulose Gum, Propionic Acid (to preserve freshness), Benzoic Acid (to preserve freshness), Phosphoric Acid (preservative), Dextrose, Guar Gum, Amylase.

Non-GMO alternativeFood For Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas (labeled USDA Organic).



3. Wheat tortilla shells: Since I was swapping out my tortilla shells, I figured I would give Brandon's wheat ones a swap too! He used to use Ole Xtreme Wellness! High Fiber Low Carb Whole Wheat Tortilla Shells, Ingredients:  Whole wheat flour, Enriched bleached flour (Wheat flour, Malted barley flour, Niacin, Reduced iron, Thiamine mononitrate, Riboflavin and Folic acid), Water, Cellulose fiber, Wheat gluten, Extra virgin olive oil; Contains 2% or less of the following: Xantham gum, Guar gum, Salt, Mono and diglycerides, Baking powder (Sodium acid pyrophosphate, Monocalcium phosphate, Baking soda), Calcium propionate, Sorbic acid (Mold inhibitor), Fumaric acid, Carboxymethyl cellulose, Sugar, Dough relaxer (Sodium metabisulfite, Corn starch, Microcrystalline cellulose, Dicalcium phosphate), Enzymes.

Non-GMO alternativeStacy's Organic Whole Wheat Tortilla Shells (labeled Organic and Non-GMO).


4. Bread: Gotta love Sara Lee...their ingredient list was impossible to find online, so here's the ingredients for a similar product, their hamburger buns which are similar to the loaf of Sara Lee Soft & Smooth 100% Whole Wheat Bread:  Wheat Flour Whole, Water, Wheat Gluten, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Yeast, Contains 2% or less of the Following: ( Soybean(s) Oil, Salt, Sugar Brown, Vinegar Distilled, Calcium Sulphate (Sulfate), Dough Conditioner(s) (Contains One Or More Of The Following : Mono and Diglycerides, Mono and Diglycerides Ethoxylated, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Peroxide,Datem, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Enzyme(s)) , Calcium Propionate (Preservative) ,Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulphate (Sulfate), Ammonium Sulfate) , Corn Starch, Guar Gum, Flavor(s) Natural, Vitamin D3, Soy Lecithin, Milk, Soy Flour, Sesame Seed(s)

Non-GMO alternative: Rudi's Honey Sweet Whole Wheat Bread (labeled USDA Organic and Non-GMO).
And if you're gluten-free: Rudi's Multigrain Gluten-Free Bread (listed as Non-GMO by their website)



5. Bagels: Sara Lee strikes again with these hideous bagels that I was unknowigly buying for Brandon week after week. The ingredient list is full of GMOs and it's one of the longest in this list of food swaps! Ingredients in Sara Lee Deluxe Blueberry Bagels:  Flour Enriched Bleached (Wheat FlourBarley Malted FlourNiacinIronThiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) [Vitamin B1] , Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) [Vitamin B2] , Folic Acid (Vitamin aB)) , Water,Corn Syrup High FructoseSugar Contains 2% or less of the Following: (YeastSaltWheat GlutenCalcium Propionate andPotassium Sorbate PreservativeGuar GumCorn Syrup,Vinegar DistilledFlavor(s) Natural & ArtificialBlackberry(ies) JuiceBlueberry(ies) Juice,Monocalcium PhosphateDough Conditioner(s) (May contain one or more of : Mono and DiglyceridesAscorbic AcidPotassium IodateEnzyme(s)Calcium Iodate,Azodicarbonamide) , Corn StarchCorn CerealCorn Starch ModifiedCottonseed Fiber,Vegetable(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated (Cottonseed Oil Partially Hydrogenated and/or,Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated) , Color(s) (Red 40Blue 2Green 3Blue 1) ,Blueberry(ies) DriedCellulose GumCitric AcidRice FlourSoy Flour, Soy LecithinSulfiting Agents, Corn Meal Yellow

Non-GMO alternative: Rudi's Multigrain Bagels (labeled USDA Organic and Non-GMO).


6. Gluten-Free Waffles: I really thought this brand of waffles was surely GMO-free, heck they even have some products that are organic, but apparently none at this time that are gluten-free, read more here. Ingredients in Van's Wheat-Gluten-Free Waffles:  Water, Van’s Gluten Free Mix (Brown Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Rice Flour, Soy Flour), Canola Oil, Van’s Natural Fruit Juice Blend (Pineapple, Peach and Pear Juice Concentrates), Baking Powder (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Rice Flour, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sea Salt, Soy Lecithin, Guar Gum.

Non-GMO alternativeNature's Path Organic Chia Plus Gluten-Free Waffles (labeled USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project).



7. Breakfast Cereal: When it came time to dig and find our GMO cereal, we were in good luck...it was all gone, so it was the perfect time to stock back up on some Non-GMO cereal.

But just for fun, let's take a look at a common and child-favorite cereal, Kellogg's Froot Loops. Ingredients in Sugar, corn flour blend (whole grain yellow corn flour, degerminated yellow corn flour), wheat flour, whole grain oat flour, oat fiber, soluble corn fiber, contains 2% or less of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut, soybean and/or cottonseed), salt, red 40, natural flavor, blue 2, turmeric color, yellow 6, annatto color, blue 1, BHT for freshness.

Non-GMO alternatives Kashi Indigo Morning (labeled USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project).
Kashi Berry Fruitful (labeled USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project).
Cascadian Farms Cinnamon Crunch (labeled USDA Organic)
Cascadian Farms Chocolate O's (labeled USDA Organic)


**Beware though, not all Kashi cereals, are Non-GMO!***

Continuing with some other favorites we've recently found...
Peace Cereal Hearty Raisin Bran (labeled Non-GMO Project)
Cascadian Farms Fruitful O's (labeled USDA Organic)


For those of you that are gluten-free, some of my favorites are:
Nature's Path Organic Envriokids Peanut Butter Panda Puffs (labeled USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project).
Nature's Path Organic Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla (labeled USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project).
Nature's Path Organic Envriokids Chocolate Koala Crisp (labeled USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project).


8. Veggie Burgers: Being gluten-free and vegan, most of my veggie burgers were organic or Non-GMO, but Brandon's wheat/soy burgers were not. Case in point: Boca All-American Flame-Grilled Veggie Burgers.


Ingredients: WATER, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, REDUCED FAT CHEDDAR CHEESE (PASTEURIZED PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES, ANNATTO (COLOR), VITAMIN A PALMITATE), WHEAT GLUTEN, CORN OIL, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF METHYLCELLULOSE, HYDROLYZED CORN PROTEIN, WHEAT GLUTEN AND SOY PROTEIN, SALT, CARAMEL COLOR, CHEESE POWDER (CHEDDAR CHEESE (MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), CREAM, SALT, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, LACTIC ACID), DRIED ONIONS, YEAST EXTRACT, NATURAL FLAVOR (NON-MEAT), SESAME OIL, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, DISODIUM INOSINATE, BROWNED IN CORN OIL.

*You'll notice I highlighted some of these cheese/dairy ingredients because I cannot be sure if they are from cow's given the hormone rBGH.*

Non-GMO alternativeSol Cuisine Original Veggie Burger (labeled Non-GMO Project).
Sunshine Burgers Barbecue Veggie Burger (labeled Organic and Non-GMO Project)
Sol Cusine Veggie Breakfast Patties (labeled Non-GMO Project)

Once again, I thought I had a great GMO-free alternative with this Gardien brand since the package states that it uses non-GMO soy, but they couldn't confirm their other ingredients as being GMO-free. See more here from their website:

is the soy in gardein™ non-gmo?
yes. we only use 'identity-preserved' soy protein (which basically means, it helps to ensure us that our soy protein is not genetically modified).


Ingredients in Ultimate Beefless Burger: water, soy protein concentrate*, textured wheat protein (wheat gluten, wheat flour, malt), vital wheat gluten*, organic ancient grain flour (kamut ®, amaranth, millet, quinoa), expeller pressed/canola oil, soy protein isolate*, onions, natural flavor (from plant sources), modified vegetable gum, malted barley extract , yeast extract, potato starch, garlic powder, onion powder, organic cane sugar, vinegar, sea salt, pea protein, carrot fiber, organic beetroot fiber, spices.

9. Spaghetti Sauce: Really thought this one was harmless, but I was wrong. Time to switch to organic! Ingredients in Great Value Chunky Italian Garden Pasta Sauce:  Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Diced Tomatoes In Puree, Onions, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Celery, Green Bell Peppers, Carrots, Zucchini, Salt, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Spices, Parsley, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid. Allergy Warning: May Contain Traces of Milk.

Non-GMO alternativeMuir Glen Organic Classic Marinara (labeled USDA Organic).


10. Vegan Cream Cheese: Really thought this one was safe too! But I guess goes to show that just because it's vegan and you buy it at a health food store, doesn't always mean that it's GMO-free. Ingredients in Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese Imitation Cream Cheese:  Water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, isolated soy protein, maltodextrin, tofu, nondairy lactic acid, sugar, locust bean, guar and carrageenan gums, sugar, salt, veg. mono and diglycerides, potassium sorbate (added as a preservative).

Now usually I would have highlighted much more in that ingredient list, but I did some digging on their website and found this:


"Does Tofutti use non-GMO soy protein?
All of our products use non-GMO soy protein. In addition, if available, we use other non-GMO ingredients, such as our tofu powder and maltodextrin."
To me, that's better than being fully GMO, but I'd love to it to just be GMO-free.

Non-GMO alternativeFollow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese (labeled USDA Organic).

11. Fries: I like to make most things from scratch, but sometimes there is just not enough time! One thing we like to get pre-cooked are Alexia Sweet Potato Julienne Fries and I figured they were a healthy alternative...but what do you know, GMOs were lurking. Check out the ingredients: Sweet Potatoes, Canola Oil and/or Sunflower Oil and/or Safflower Oil, Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Natural Cane Sugar, Cornstarch, Tapioca Dextrin, Sea Salt, Chili Pepper Powder, Salad Mustard (Distilled Vinegar, Mustard Seed, Salt, Turmeric, Paprika), Xanthan Gum, Gluconic Acid.

Non-GMO alternative: I didn't have to look far, Alexia actually has a line of organic fries, they're not sweet potato, but they're GMO-free. Alexia Oven Crinkles Salt & Pepper Fries (labeled USDA Organic).


12. Chips: I don't have any GMO example pictures to show you, but here's the ingredients of a common brand of chips, Lay's Barbecue Flavored Potato ChipsPotatoes, Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Corn/and Canola Oil), BBQ Seasoning (Sugar, Salt, Corn Sugar, Malted Barley Flour, Onion Powder, Yeast, Molasses, Spices, Garlic Powder, Natural Flavors, Paprika, Tomato Powder, Corn Starch, Yeast Extract, and Paprika Extracts. 

Non-GMO alternative: Kettle Brand Potato Chips (labeled Non-GMO). We love the flavors: Sea Salt & Vinegar, Backyard Barbecue, and Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper.


When it comes to other snacks, these are my two of my other Non-GMO favorites:
Way Better Snacks Simply So Sweet Chili (labeled Non-GMO Project)
Mary's Gone Crackers Sticks & Twigs Chipotle Tomato (labeled Non-GMO and USDA Organic)



13. Cookies/Oreos: Someone in my house has a sweet tooth, can you guess who it is? That would be Brandon! Oreos are one of his favorites and when it came to GMO-hunting there was no hiding these treats. Ingredients in Oreos:  SUGAR, ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), FOLIC ACID), HIGH OLEIC CANOLA OIL AND/OR PALM OIL AND/OR CANOLA OIL, COCOA (PROCESSED WITH ALKALI), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORNSTARCH, BAKING SODA, SALT, SOY LECITHIN (EMULSIFIER), VANILLIN - AN ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, CHOCOLATE.

Non-GMO alternative: Country Choice Organic Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (labeled USDA Organic)
Newman-O's Cream-Filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (labeled Organic).


So there you have it, most of the swaps that took place within my house once I had what I call "my GMO-awakening!" I hope you found it helpful. But my final tip is to make things yourself. Things like hummus and salsa, pancakes and muffins, all are frequent items I add to my weekend to-do list so I'm stocked and ready for the week. This way I can control the ingredients, keep out the preservatives, and usually save some money.

My homemade salsa and red pepper hummus. 

Still want to learn more? Check out one of my no-GMO heroes, Robyn O'Brien who is being called "The Erin Brockovich of Food" in this Ted Talks she did about changing the food system one step at a time.  She also has an excellent book about the topic called The Unhealthy Truth. I highly recommend it!



Other great non-GMO resources include:
The Non-GMO Project 
Non-GMO Shopping Guide
Institute for Responsible Technology
Blog: Food Babe (GMO Info & Tips)

I'd like to think that I covered it all in this massive post, but I'm sure I will be back with more info about my family's switch to a GMO-free diet. I will continue to post new brands, stores, and other Non-GMO products, and even some of my favorite GMO-free recipes. Now it's your turn...what's your GMO-journey look like? Are you open to the idea of changing? Are you already GMO-free? What tips can you share, how do you make it work for you, your family and your budget? I'd love to hear it so we can all learn from each other.

Until next time, keeping on saying "NO" to GMOs! Your body, family, and the environment will thank you. Sooner or later lawmakers, corporations, food manufacturers will get the message...but until then YOU have the power. Vote with your fork!

*Disclaimer: I purchased all of these products with my own money and this is my honest opinion of them.*

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