Apples, Antibiotics…and Why Johnny is Such a Big Little Boy (Recipe Included!)

By  Jeani-Rose Atchison

Contributing Writer for  Wake Up World

I woke yesterday with a strong desire to do some cooking. My number 4 daughter, Caoilinn, must have had the same idea as she had all my pots and pans out and was playing “restaurant”…with a grin on her face and a pot on her head.

I turned on the oven in anticipation for baking and also to heat up our cold house. While it was warming we went through our supplies and found some polenta and a bag of green apples. I immediately thought about an apple and polenta upside down cake and searched for the other ingredients so we could make it happen.

At the same time Nimue (number three) was walking around with a huge cabbage, which is not unusual in my home. The kids imagine talking vegetables all the time. Once I wasn’t allowed to take the top growth off of the sweet potatoes for a couple of weeks because the girls had adopted a few of them. The sweet potatoes were dressed daily in new outfits including new hairstyles as the “hair” continued to grow.   Chances are if they were conventionally grown sweet potatoes they wouldn’t have been as much fun due to being bald and unable to sprout! I had to finally wrestle with the three of them to bake those potatoes and we all mourned their demise, sort of, as we eagerly dug into the steaming insides.

Anyway, seeing the cabbage made me think it was time to also make another batch of cultured vegies. So we made Nimue hand it over and did just that while the cake was in the oven.

Our recipe was relatively easy. I took a conventional one and tweaked it a bit to suit our needs. Our kids are totally on board with this and come up with alternative suggestions any time we try a new recipe. They all know of course that organic is best but just in case they forget I am always there to remind them why.

Take apples for example. Conventional ones are sprayed heavily in antibiotics. I have written a great deal about the over use of antibiotics and include a section of it in my latest book Food for Thought.

75-80% of antibiotic use is not through direct human intake but rather it is being fed to animals and sprayed on fruits and vegetables.

Dr Stuart Levy, president of The Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics states that just one pound of antibiotics is enough to provide a one-day treatment to 450 sick people. This really sinks in when we know that up to 50,000 pounds of antibiotics are sprayed annually on fruit trees in the U.S. alone.

Streptomycin and oxytetracycline are the two most common antibiotics used for pear and apple trees in the states. A condition called fire blight is the main reason for spraying the fruit. Fire blight has not been found in Australia though with globalization and increased foreign travelers this will happen eventually. And when it does it is already understood that streptomycin will be used as it has proved to be the only product effective in diminishing the problem. Until then, New Zealand’s answer to importing apples to Australia is to have their apples undergo “chlorine treatment”.   That seems a disturbing thought though with the current research on the chemical by product of chlorine, dioxin. As the single most carcinogenic chemical known to science I don’t know if I want more exposure to it than we already have.

On August 08, 2012  a federal court in New York ruled that the FDA can not delay regulatory proceedings for penicillin and tetracyclines used in livestock.  

We have been experiencing antibiotic resistance strains of bacteria world wide and it scares me terribly. I have a kidney anomaly that has seen me in hospitals since I was born and from time to time the only thing that can help me is intravenous antibiotic therapy. When I was a child and young adult I lived on antibiotics. I chose alternatives though in my mid-life and child bearing years and didn’t use drugs for more than 15 years. Recently I have found the need to rely on antibiotics again only to find that several of the drugs I used in the past can no longer be used due to bacterial resistance. I have already had two life threatening instances where I needed to have these drugs. I’m not too happy about the fact that there may be a day in the near future when those drugs won’t work for me any longer.

Peter Collignon, Infectious Diseases Physician and Microbiologist, From the Canberra Hospital stated;

Some of this resistance can be to antibiotics that are “last line” or “critically important” antibiotics that are needed to treat life-threatening infections in people. The development and spread of these multi-resistant resistant bacteria can follow the use of “last line” (or similar) antibiotics in food production animals. Examples include ciprofloxacin resistant strains of Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp. and E. coli, vancomycin resistant strains of enterococcus (VRE) and 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporin resistance in Gram-negative bacteria such as E. coli.

I agree with Dr Collignon and other groups such as The Union of Concerned Scientists in that there are three basic principles of antibiotic use that must be adapted in the agricultural sector if we are going to stop this problem. Before we can’t. And that is

  1. to prevent the use of antibiotics for prophylactic purposes,
  2. “critical” or “last-line” antibiotics should not be used in food production animals or agriculture and
  3. they need to be banned as growth promoters.  

Another interesting thought to ponder is this; Antibiotics are used not to just prevent illness or to spray on crops but also to make animals grow faster. It is common knowledge that people are larger now than they were 20-30 years ago. Quite a bit larger. Drink cups, train seats and dress sizes have all changed to keep up with the times. Denial is a beautiful thing especially when it protects us from asking the question, “What is happening to me?” For those of us that want to know, could antibiotic use prove to be another piece in the obesity picture? If our children are being constantly bombarded with sub therapeutic dosages in their food along with regular rounds of antibiotics from their medical practitioners, how does this affect their growth patterns? Gives a different perspective on why Johnny is such a big little boy, doesn’t it?

There is no question that my family and I will always strive to eat food that is as clean and pure as we can get. Certified organic or knowing my local farmer and his or her agricultural practices are the only way we can be sure of what we are getting.  

Here is our recipe;

Upside Down Apple Polenta Cake

3 medium unpeeled organic green apples, quartered and cored

2/3 cup organic raw sugar (I used coconut)

8 tbs organic coconut oil (or organic butter for those who use dairy)

1 heaping tsp organic ground cinnamon

1/4 cup organic chopped pecans

1 cup organic wholemeal spelt flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp organic good quality sea salt

1/2 cup organic raw sugar (I used coconut)

1 Tbs organic lemon juice

2 tsps organic chia seeds mixed in 1/4 cup water and allowed to sit for five minutes before using

1 Tbs organic vanilla extract

3/4 cup organic soy milk mixed with 1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar (I used this to substitute for organic buttermilk)

1/2 cup organic polenta


Cut each apple quarter lengthwise into 3 wedges. In a 10-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet, over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the coconut oil or butter. Stir in the coconut sugar and cinnamon and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring, until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and add the apples and pecans, gently stirring to coat.

Return the pan to medium heat; cover and cook 2 minutes. Turn the apple slices over and cook 3 minutes more, uncovered; set aside.

With a fork, arrange the apple slices in a spoke design in the sugar mixture, filling in the center with remaining slices. Preheat oven to 180 degree C or 350 ° F. I use my cast iron for this because it can then go straight into the oven.   If you don’t have one just place apple slices and sugar mixture into a prepared cake pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt the remaining oil or butter. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the sugar, lemon juice, chia mixture, and vanilla extract. Whisk in the soymilk and polenta. Add the flour mixture and stir gently with the whisk until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter over the apple slices. Bake about 35 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently pressed.

Remove from oven and run a knife around the edge of the skillet to loosen the cake. Immediately cover the pan with a heatproof plate and carefully invert the two. Wait 1 minute before lifting off the skillet. Serve warm or at room temperature with an organic cream if desired.   We love it with a dollop of   fresh vegan cashew cream.

Article Sources

About the Author

Jeani-Rose Atchison is a health advocate, and home-schooling mother of five who also finds time to write about nutrition, whole foods and environmental concerns. She authored, Every Day Vegan – 300 recipes for healthful eating which is a mainstay in vegetarian kitchens. Atchison’s latest book, Food for Thought – Thought for Food is chock full of delicious whole food recipes. It also takes a controversial look at the food we eat today and the processes involved in bringing it to your table. Can your food make you ill? The answer may shock you!

To find out more go to Jeani-Rose’s Facebook or Website

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