kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

By definition, a GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal or another organism that has had its genetic makeup modified in order to produce a more desirable outcome, such as enhanced nutrition or a stronger resistance to disease.

When GMOs were first invented, they held lots of promise. They were going to produce high yields which would be insect resistant. They were going to reduce our dependence on toxic pesticides.

It didn’t work the way the creators expected.

Twenty years ago, Europe banned GMO foods while the United States went full steam ahead, especially with soybeans and corn.

The yields were not better for GMO crops, and the United States increased its chemical and pesticide use by 21 percent. At the same time, Europe saw a reduction of 65 percent.

The toxic world of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and industrial agriculture is built on false promises from big biotech companies like Monsanto/Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont/Pioneer, BASF and others. They claimed that genetic engineering would transform farming and food production.

They promised that GMOs would reduce the environmental impact of farming by lowering pesticide use. We’ve been promised that it will increase the nutritional content of food. We’ve been told how it will boost farmers’ profits by increasing yields, and that those increased yields will help “feed the world.”

Since GM crops were introduced, there has been a dramatic increase in pesticide use worldwide.

An in-depth investigation by The New York Times in 2016 revealed that, in addition to increasing pesticide use, genetic modification in the U.S. and Canada has failed to bring the expected increases in crop yields. This resonates with the findings of a 2016 National Academy of Sciences report that found “there was little evidence” that the introduction of genetically modified crops in the United States had led to yield gains beyond those seen in conventional crops.

Most recently, U.S. farmers have been suffering from a glut of soy, linked to ongoing trade disputes with China and swine fever which killed 40% of the hogs in China (2018-2019).  This resulted in low prices and farm bankruptcies.

Equally important is the fact that GMOs have failed to feed the world. The main by-products of GMOs are fats and sugars. GMOs, when they’re not being turned into biofuels, are being turned into corn, soy and even cottonseed oil and sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup and beet sugar.

In other words, what GMOs have most successfully done is provide cheap, unhealthy ingredients for ultra-processed “ready” meals, prepackaged foods and fast food restaurants.

Most GM crops fall into one of two types. Pesticide “resisters,” or “Roundup Ready” crops, mostly corn and soy, are genetically engineered to withstand the spraying of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, the active ingredient of which is glyphosate. Most recently, pesticide resisters have also been engineered to resist other highly toxic pesticides like dicamba and 2,4-D.

GM crops have turned glyphosate into one of the most widely and recklessly used herbicides in history. According to the USDA, more than 90% of the soybeans harvested on U.S. farms are genetically engineered to withstand herbicides like Roundup.

Weeds and insects rapidly evolve to be immune to these poisons. Most agricultural weeds have become resistant to Roundup, causing farmers to spray more each year. The heavier use of herbicides creates ever more “superweeds” and even higher herbicide use.

More recently, insects are beginning to be resistant to the insecticides bred into pesticide products, causing farmers to use even more and more dangerous mixtures of pesticides to try and keep them under control

Buying products that are organic or labeled non-GMO are two ways to limit your family’s risk.

10 most common GMO foods:

1. Soy  Up to 90% of soybeans in the market have been genetically modified to be naturally resistant to Round Up. This increased resistance to the herbicide allows farmers to use more Round Up to kill weeds. However, this results not only in a genetically modified food product, but also a food product loaded with more chemicals.

“I used to test for soy allergies all the time, but now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it—unless it says organic.”   -Allergy specialist John Boyles, MD

2. Corn  Half of the US farms growing corn to sell to the conglomerate, Monsanto, are growing GMO corn. Most of this corn is going to be used for human consumption. Genetically modified corn has been linked to health problems, including weight gain and organ disruption.

3. Canola oil  Canola oil is derived from rapeseed oil. It is considered one of the most chemically altered oils sold in the US.

4. Cotton  Even cotton has been genetically modified to increase yield and resistance to disease. Most concern relates to the cotton oil. Cotton originating from India, and China, in particular, is considered higher risk for personal health.

5. Milk  One fifth of the dairy cows in the United States have been fed GM grains and given growth hormones to help them grow faster and increase their yield. These hormones can be found in milk produced by these cows.

6. Sugar  Genetically modified sugar beets were introduced to the US market in 2009. These sugar beets are modified to resist Roundup, like corn.

7. Aspartame  Aspartame is a carcinogenic artificial sweetener. Aspartame is manufactured from genetically modified bacteria.

8. Zucchini  Genetically modified zucchini contains a toxic protein that helps make it more resistant to insects. This introduced insecticide has recently been found in human blood, including that of pregnant women and fetuses. This indicates that some of the insecticide is making its way into our bodies rather than being broken down and excreted.

9. Yellow squash  Yellow squash has also been modified with the toxic proteins to make it insect resistant. This plant is very similar to zucchini, and both have also been modified to resist viruses.

10. Papaya  Genetically modified papaya trees have been grown in Hawaii since 1999. These papayas are sold in the United States and Canada for human consumption. These papayas have been modified to be naturally resistant to Papaya Ringspot virus, and also to delay the maturity of the fruit. Delaying maturity gives suppliers more time to ship the fruit to supermarkets.

These are just 10 of the most prevalent GMO foods found in the supermarket. There are many others currently for sale and being grown for the market.


Oats are a type of cereal grain that refers specifically to the edible seeds of oat grass.  The Food and Drug Administration allows products with oats to claim on food labels a reduced risk of coronary heart disease with the consumption of beta-glucan, a soluble fiber from whole grain oats. Oatmeal is great for those trying to lose weight and control hunger levels due to its high water and soluble fiber content.

Oats are available in a variety of forms, based on how they are processed. The following are the types of oats in order of least to most processed. Although the nutritional content between steel-cut and instant oats is relatively similar, their effects on blood sugar are not. The least processed oats, like groats or steel-cut, generally take longer to digest so they have a lower glycemic index than rolled or instant oats.

  • Oat Groats: The whole oat kernels that have been cleaned, with only the loose, inedible hulls removed. Groats contain the intact germ, endosperm, and bran. Oat bran, which contains the most fiber in a groat, can be removed and eaten as a cereal or added to recipes to boost fiber content.
  • Steel-Cut or Irish: Oat groats that have been cut into two or three smaller pieces either using a steel blade. The larger the size of the pieces, the longer they will take to cook.
  • Scottish Oats: Oat groats that have been stone-ground into a meal, creating a porridge-like texture when cooked.
  • Rolled or Old-Fashioned: Oat groats that have been steamed, rolled and flattened into flakes, and then dried to remove moisture so they are shelf-stable.
  • Quick or Instant: Oat groats that are steamed for a longer period and rolled into thinner pieces so that they can absorb water easily and cook very quickly. Be aware that many brands of instant oats come sweetened or flavored, so be sure to check the ingredients for no added sugar or toxic chemical flavorings.

The nutrient composition of oats is well-balanced. They are a good source of carbs and fiber. Oats also contain more protein and fat than most grains.

Oats are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidant plant compounds. Half a cup of dry oats contains:

  • Manganese: 191% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 41% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 34% of the RDI
  • Copper: 24% of the RDI
  • Iron: 20% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 20% of the RDI
  • Folate: 11% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 39% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 10% of the RDI
  • Smaller amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B3 (niacin)

A half a cup of oats also has 51 grams of carbs, 13 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 8 grams of fiber, but only 303 calories. This means that oats are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.

Oats contain large amounts of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber. Beta-glucan partially dissolves in water and forms a thick, gel-like solution in the gut. The health benefits of beta-glucan fiber include:

  • Reduced LDL and total cholesterol levels
  • Reduced blood sugar and insulin response
  • Increased feeling of fullness
  • Increased growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract

Beta-glucan fiber attracts water and increases the viscosity of digested food, which increases the volume of food in the gut. This slows down digestion and the rate that nutrients are absorbed, which in turn increases satiety. Short-chain fatty acids produced from bacteria that ferment beta-glucan fibers may also increase satiety through a chain reaction of events that regulate appetite hormones.

Cereal fibers, as found in wheat bran and oat bran, are considered more effective than fiber from fruits and vegetables. The breakdown and fermentation of beta-glucan oat fiber has also been reported to increase the diversity of gut microbiota. This may in turn improve certain digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Many studies have shown that the beta-glucan fiber in oats is effective at reducing both total and LDL cholesterol levels. Beta-glucan may increase the excretion of cholesterol-rich bile, thereby reducing circulating levels of cholesterol in the blood. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which occurs when LDL reacts with free radicals, is another crucial step in the progression of heart disease. It produces inflammation in arteries, damages tissues and can raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes. One study reports that antioxidants in oats work together with vitamin C to prevent LDL oxidation.

Whole oats are high in antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols. Most notable is a unique group of antioxidants called avenanthramides, which are almost solely found in oats. Avenanthramides may help lower blood pressure levels by increasing the production of nitric oxide. This gas molecule helps dilate blood vessels and leads to better blood flow.

In addition, avenanthramides have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects. Ferulic acid, also found in large amounts in oats, is another antioxidant. The FDA approved colloidal oatmeal as a skin-protective substance back in 2003. But in fact, oats have a long history of use for the treatment of itching and irritation in various skin conditions. Oat-based skin products may improve uncomfortable symptoms of eczema.

Note that skin care benefits pertain only to oats applied to the skin, not those that are eaten.

How to Buy

You can buy oats in bulk in your local co-op or packaged. If you buy packaged, be sure they are not flavored or sweetened.

Although oats are naturally gluten-free, they are sometimes contaminated with gluten. That’s because they may be harvested and processed using the same equipment as other grains that contain gluten.

If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, choose oat products that are certified as gluten-free.

How to Store

Like all grains, oatmeal should be kept in an airtight container to discourage moisture and bugs. Store in a cool, dark cupboard up to three months or refrigerate up to 6 months.

Due to its high oil content, oat bran should be refrigerated.

Oats contain a natural antioxidant which discourages rancidity, thus oat flour has a bit longer shelf life than whole wheat flour. Refrigerate and use within 3 months.

How to Cook

  • Oatmeal: A breakfast favorite, cooked oats pair well with fruits, nuts, and seeds. Follow package directions for exact cooking times. Generally, less-processed oats such as steel-cut take 25-30 minutes to cook, whereas instant oats take 1-2 minutes.
  • Overnight Oats: A quick, easy no-cook solution for a nutrient-dense breakfast or snack. In a medium glass jar, add ½ cup old-fashioned or rolled oats (not instant), ½-1 cup liquid such as nut milk, and ½ cup of any chopped fruit (banana, melon, apple, grapes, berries). Additional optional ingredients include a few tablespoons of non-dairy yogurt, 1-2 tablespoons of chia/flaxseeds, nuts, or any spices. Complimentary spices for oatmeal include cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and ginger. Tightly screw on the lid and shake the jar vigorously until all ingredients are incorporated well. Refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours. The oats will soften and the mixture will thicken into a pudding-like texture.
  • Oat Flour: These are oats that have been ground to a flour-like consistency. Although it may be tempting to substitute oat flour for regular flour in baked recipes, keep in mind that oat flour lacks gluten, a crucial component that adds structure, moisture, and volume to a baked product; without it, cookies would crumble and breads would become dense and lack volume. However, oat flour can add chewiness to cookies and a boost of nutrients to breads. Substitute 25-30% of flour in a recipe with oat flour for best results.
  • Oat Risotto: Oats can be used in savory dishes. An example is replacing rice in risotto with whole oat groats or steel-cut oats. Typically, the oats are first toasted for a few minutes in hot oil with aromatics like shallots or diced onion. Then vegetable stock and/or water are added, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until the oats are cooked (about 25 minutes).

Other Ideas:

  • Add ½ cup dry old-fashioned oats to batter, such as for breads and cookies.
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons of oat bran to any hot or cold cereal
  • Instant oatmeal may not be used interchangeably with rolled oats (old-fashioned oatmeal) or quick-cooking oatmeal. Since it has already been cooked and dried, it can turn your baked goods into a gummy mess.
  • Oatmeal is commonly used in breads, muffins, cookies, granola, muesli, stuffings, and pilaf, but it is most widely consumed as a hot cooked cereal (porridge).
  • Oat flour may also be used as a thickener in soups and stews.
  • Since its gluten content is very low, oat flour needs to be combined with all-purpose gluten free baking flour when used in leavened breads or the bread will not rise properly.
  • To make homemade oat flour, simply place rolled oats in your food processor and process to a flour consistency. Sift out any large particles.

Equivalents and Measurements:

  • Oat flour may be substituted for up to 1/3 of the required whole wheat flour in baked goods.
  • 1 pound old-fashioned rolled oats = 5 to 5-3/4 cups
  • 1 cup rolled oats = 1-3/4 cups cooked
  • 1 cup raw rolled oats = 3 ounces


Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Adapted from Jolinda Hackett/ Photo credit: DFreshPhotography / Twenty20

24 Servings


  • 3/4 cup vegan butter (I use Melt or Earth Balance.)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 cups rolled (Can be made with quick-cooking oats.)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the sugar, brown sugar, vegan butter, and the vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Next, add in the non-dairy milk and mix together until well combined.
  3. Next, add in the gf flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir until well mixed. Add the remaining ingredients. The cookie dough batter will be very thick.
  4. Drop the cookie dough in 2 1/2-inch balls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten slightly.
  5. Bake your oatmeal cookies for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until done. Cookies will still be slightly soft and chewy when they are done baking.



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