#atozchallenge: Late X

The challenge is over today.  My last three posts didn’t make it up in April. Visiting with daughter Julie who is an equine vet, makes life very busy. I am learning that it is a blessing to be able to focus on one thing at a time and really be present in the moment. Unfortunately X, Y and Z were not part of the moment.  So here they are now…

X is for xylitol.  Xylitol is a chemical called a sugar alcohol (the “ol” suffix gives that away).  It is a substance found naturally in many plants. It has lately become a popular choice of sweetener because it does not affect blood sugar the way other sugars do, and it has some anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that are beneficial in cases of ear infections and tooth decay.

Xylitol is extracted from plants through a process which results in a hydrogenated sugar.  The plants most often used are corn cobs.  The process involves a heavy metal as a catalyst, which is removed later. It is a highly processed substance and there isn’t a lot of information yet on what happens to those who make it a regular part of their diet.  It is known that tolerances differ but that at some level people will experience intestinal discomfort – gas, bloating, diarrhea.

After reading about xylitol, the pros and cons, I am concluding that anytime we try to process something and mass produce it we are stepping into potentially dangerous waters.  Why can’t we just eat food that grows, in the form that is simplest or with cooking that anyone can do at home without a lot of additives? Food is designed to be good for us.  Don’t mess with it.  Just sayin’…

#atozchallenge: Raspberries, the passion and pleasure

Here they are, today’s star

I come from northern Wisconsin, and a particular part of it that is extremely cold for a good long time in the winter.  We have three months of growing weather in a good year. It can freeze yet in May and probably will in September so gardens go in quickly and get down to business. We can’t really do apples, or cherries or plums but berries…  We do them pretty well.
My first berry experiences were with wild berries. We were always on the lookout for bushes on the roadside or in the woods. Recently cleared fields and brush piles were likely berry patches. When we started seeing the right color on the berries it was time to get the pails and gear up.
There were all kinds of perils. There were bears, of course, and poison ivy, wicked thorns everywhere, a constant halo of deer flies and my most dreaded one, hornets. Long pants, long sleeves, big hat and a bucket on your belt in July meant we were hot and slow moving.
Thankfully, by the time I was married and living in Wisconsin again we had learned about cultivated berries and had a large patch in the yard. Much easier, but there were still chores every year – cleaning out the old canes and pruning. There was also the new problem of the guilt when you just couldn’t pick and eat that many raspberries. They are still my absolute favorite berry for eating fresh.
I don’t know how they do it these days since they are soft and perishable, but  my store has fresh berries almost all year long. Does anyone go out in the woods anymore? I don’t know. Your reasons to eat raspberries, in addition to their wonderful flavor, are a low calorie, high fiber, high antioxidant source with lots of vitamin C and B complex vitamins and a number of important minerals.  Interestingly, they are a source of xylitol which I will mention again when we get to letter X.  And they’re pretty.  And red.

Happy Letter R, my friends.