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Tips for Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

Thinking about having a baby? Expecting a baby? Just had a baby? Eating healthy in all of those stages is critically important. Whatever stage you fall into, you have come to the right place. Today I’m giving you some easy to follow tips that you can implement at any stage of your pregnancy.

eating healthy

By File photo, Canwest News Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

14 Eating Healthy Tips During Pregnancy

1. Eat for Two?

Nope, don’t fall into that trap. Yes of course you need to bump up your food intake a little but you definitely don’t need to be eating two of every meal.

2. Stay Hydrated

Water is the best choice during pregnancy. Did you know that water accounts for 75% of your baby’s water weight at birth? Lack of water can lead to dehydration, dehydration equals stress and when mom’s body is in stress so is baby. So stay hydrated. Aim for 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water minimum, if you can drink more, go for it. For example a mother who weighs 150lbs would need to drink 75oz of water. Another good bonus is that staying hydrated also helps alleviate morning sickness.

3. Nitrates & Listeria

Packaged lunch meats are high in a preservative called sodium nitrate. Some specialists are of the opinion that sodium nitrates can lead to difficult complications during pregnancy. This is because the body turns nitrates into potential carcinogens. Another issue with cold cuts is that they may contain lots of the Listeria bacteria. Listeria can grow in refrigerated temperatures. This bacterium causes an ailment called Listeriosis which can cause problems during pregnancy such as miscarriage, premature delivery, infections or even death of the new born baby.

4. Good Fats

Don’t be scared of eating good fats. Fats are absolutely necessary for absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K which are vital for baby’s brain and organ development.  Coconut oil, butter, eggs, olive oil, quality red meats, and nuts are good choices for eating healthy fats.

5. Bad Fats

The human body does not have the capability to digest refined oils and trans-fats.  Consuming trans-fats can alter the composition of your breast milk and lowers the overall fat content.

Stay away from oils like: margarine, shortening, vegetable oils including canola oil, all hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils, and soybean oil.

6. Say Goodbye to Processed Foods

Unfortunately we are already passing toxins to our baby through the air we breathe and even chemicals we put on our skin (lotions, creams, shampoo etc.) the last thing we need to do is overload our system with unnecessary chemicals from the food we eat, which also offer little to no nutrition.

7. Fiber is your Friend

Eating healthy with a high fiber-diet includes eating properly prepared whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.  Fiber is important to keep the intestines moving to ensure good bowel function and elimination.  This also helps to avoid constipation, a common problem during pregnancy.

8. No Sugar

Avoid or greatly limit sugar intake in your diet and stick to natural sugars like maple syrup or raw honey in little quantity.  Bacteria, viruses, parasites all thrive off sugar.  Avoid aspartame1, sucralose2 and other artificial sugars, which are all chemical based.

9. Grab and Go

Always have healthy food snacks that are ready to go. When you get home from shopping, wash your produce right away and chop it up, store it in the fridge for easy access when you need a quick grab and go snack!  I liked to chop up carrots, celery, and my sweet husband would always cut me up a whole watermelon and keep it in the fridge when I wanted something for my “sweet tooth”.

10. Big Fish

Accumulate mercury in their bodies, which is transferred to you and your baby. Mercury causes damage to a baby’s nervous system. Stay away from swordfish, marlin, and shark. Limit tuna consumption too.  When choosing fish at the market always look for wild caught fish.

11. Organic

Eat as much organic or locally as you can.  If you can’t buy all of your produce organic, use the Environmental Working Group (EWG) ‘Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen‘ as a reference for which fruits and veggies you definitely should buy organic.

12. No Booze for You

Alcohol is not a bright idea while pregnant. It is linked to various health issues you want to avoid such as premature delivery, low birth weight, birth defects, and mental retardation. A little sip here and there is probably fine, but again, why take a risk?

13. Shop the Perimeter

The best tip when you go shopping is to shop the perimeter of the store, this is usually where all the good stuff is; your meats, poultry, seafood, produce, dairy. It’s when you get into the middle of the store and get lost in all those aisles with packaged and processed foods. This is where you really need to pay attention to the labels, read the ingredients.  Look for items that have less than 5 ingredients (more is NOT better).  Ingredients to avoid are:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Dyes, food colorings (red #40, yellow #5, red # 3 etc.)
  • Hydrogenated / partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats)
  • Artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, saccharin)
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • BHA & BHT
  • Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite (cured meats)
  • Potassium bromate  (found in commercial breads)

14. Double the Protein

When we are pregnant we need nearly twice as much protein. The average intake of protein is around 45grams; 75-80 grams is needed daily during pregnancy.  3oz of chicken breast is around 20-30grams of protein, so don’t worry it’s not that hard to get your protein in.  Here are some other great sources of protein.

  • Grass feed beef, lamb, bison
  • Pastured chicken/turkey
  • Pastured eggs
  • Nuts, seeds,  and legumes
  • Organic Dairy (milk, full fat yogurt, cheese)

If these tips seem overwhelming. Don’t worry you don’t have to add them all at once, but if you do, right on! Start by adding one or two tips, then build on that. Just by reading this you made a good first step to creating a healthy lifestyle for you and your baby!

 

1 – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/16/aspartame-diet-soda.aspx

2 – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/18/sucralose-side-effects.aspx

11 Tips For Non-GMO Shopping On A Budget

Do you want to learn the best ways to go Non-GMO shopping, even on a budget?  Even though the vast majority of processed foods found in supermarkets today contain GMO’s, it really isn’t that difficult to maintain a Non-GMO diet when you know what to look for.  Eating whole, unprocessed, organic food is an easy way to do it; here are some more tips for Non-GMO shopping, especially for those of us on a strict food budget.non-gmo shopping

11 Tips For Non-GMO Shopping:

  1. Look for products that are USDA Certified Organic.  Organic is the gold standard.  By choosing organic foods not only will you be sure that those foods are non-gmo, they will also be free of pesticides, herbicides and other nasty chemicals.

  2. Look for products that are Non-GMO Project Verified.  While you won’t know for sure if there are pesticide residue in the food, you’ll at least know that foods with the Non-GMO Project Verified logo on them are GMO free.

  3. If you see corn, soy, or canola oil on an ingredient label and that product is not organic or labelled non-gmo, assume it is GMO and avoid it.

  4. Learn the list of ingredients that are derived from corn and soy.  Click HERE for a great guide to these ingredients.

  5. Buy whole food ingredients, instead processed foods.

  6. Learn to cook from scratch.  For families on a tight food budget, cooking at home can save quite a bit of money.  Remember to make double batches and freeze meals for those busy nights.

  7. Buy your groceries at health food stores, natural markets or online at stores that disclose the GMO status of products.  Ordering online at shopOrganic assures you that you will not be buying any GMO products.

  8. Find your local farmer’s markets and talk to the farmers about how they grow their foods.  Buying local food in season is the best way to get the most value and nutrition from your food while supporting your local growers.

  9. Stock up when foods are on sale – food storage can be a great way to make your dollars go further.

  10. Learn how to use every part of your fruits and vegetables.  Freezing bits and pieces of veggies to make a vegetable broth is a good way to make sure that nothing goes to waste.  Compost any truly unusable bits of your fruits and veggies to use in your garden.  And speaking of gardens:

  11. Start a garden – it can be small and simply include a few vegetables that you eat regularly.  Make sure to start with organic seeds; carrots and radishes grow quickly and easily, or try lettuce or other greens, or herbs in a pot.

Do you have other tips on Non-GMO shopping?  Share them in the comments section below!

Organic Snacks for Halloween Parties

October is my favorite month out of the year, but I can’t lie, these past few years when Halloween rolls around, I get a little anxious about all the candy, and I have a hard time deciding what to hand out to trick-or-treaters, or what kind of organic snacks to bring to Halloween parties.organic snacks I don’t want to be known as that friend or neighbor that hands out the “weird” stuff to trick-or-treaters like dried fruit or apples. But I also cringe at the thought of knowingly giving kids candy that’s loaded with GMO’s, sugar and artificial ingredients. In the past I would usually cave and end up buying the fun-size bags of popular candy brands – but not these last few years!  Thanks to these organic and natural brands, Halloween just got a little healthier. Trick or treat!

7 Organic Snacks for Halloween Parties

Throwing a party this Halloween? No problem. Head over to Pinterest to visit our Healthy Halloween board to get some great ideas from organic snacks recipes to decorations and much more! Below I’ve posted a few healthier, organic snacks that both kids and adults will love and you can feel better about serving.  And for trick or treat candy that you can feel good about, click HERE.

18 Rabbits

Makes these great organic granola junior bars for kids, which come in some pretty fun flavors like Chocolate Banana, Cranberry Apricot, Mango Strawberry, and Chocolate Cherry. For us adults they have big kid bars with yummy flavors such as, Date Pecan Coconut, Fig Cranberry Hazelnut, and Cherry Chocolate Almond.

Glenny’s Marshmallow Treats

Who doesn’t love a yummy marshmallow treat?! Now you can even feel better that these are organic and also this is a wonderful treat for people who are gluten free.

Popcorn

Can’t have a party without popcorn. Choose from microwavable, pre-popped or pop your own varieties. If you pop your own, try coconut oil for a little extra flavor.

Clif  Kids

They have the choice of organic Z-Bars which are baked whole energy grain bars, which are low-fat, made with whole oats and contains 12 essential vitamins and minerals kids need every day. You can also try the organic Twisted Fruit, it is real fruit twisted into a fun rope shape that’s easy to slip into a backpack, lunchbox or take anywhere kids are on the move.

Jackson’s Honest

These are by far my favorite potato chip. They are kettle fried with coconut oil. Can’t get any better than that. These will for sure be a hit at any party!

Surf Sweets

Made with organic fruit juice and sweeteners and free of corn syrup and GMOs, these organic gummy candies are bursting with flavor.

Pur Gum

GMO and aspartame-free. It’s vegetarian-approved. It’s naturally colored, flavored, and sweetened and tastes super fresh! Great parting treat to give to guests when they leave a party.  They’re also great for giving out to trick or treaters if you get the blister packs and cut individual pieces of gum to give out.

What’s your favorite organic snacks for Halloween? What do you pass out to trick-or-treaters?

Sweet Tooth? Learn More about Organic Sugar & Other Sweeteners

Have you ever gone to the store and became overwhelmed with all the different types of organic sugar and sweeteners now on the shelves? Seems like every day a new type of sugar comes out.  Which one should I choose? Which ones are the best? Will this taste good in my baking?organic sugar  I know those are some questions that I have asked myself also. Today I’m going to take you through some of the more well-known sweeteners, as well as introduce you to some that you might not have heard of before. But before I do that, I have to stress that the most important thing for you to do when it comes to sugar, is to stay away from refined and processed sugars, which have been highly processed and offer no nutritional value to our health. That being said, don’t fret if you get a sweet tooth, I’m going to name a whole bunch of healthy alternatives.

Organic Sugar &  Other Sweeteners:

Raw Honey

Honey flavors can vary widely based on the type of flower and season. Cooking and baking with honey adds acidity and moisture to the baked product. Raw, unprocessed honey is a true Paleo sweetener that is twice as sweet as table sugar. It is also regarded as a sacred superfood, and a remedy for many health ailments.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a popular breakfast sweetener, but it is also a well-known sugar substitute among those who strive to use less refined sugar. This is because maple syrup has many properties that are beneficial for the body, making it a sweetener with a healthy boost. Maple syrup has antioxidants that support the body’s immune system and heart health as well as several beneficial vitamins and minerals. Maple syrup is a great sugar substitute in any recipe. The conversion of maple syrup versus cane sugar in recipes can vary depending on the recipe, but typically one cup of white sugar can be replaced with 2/3 to ¾ cup of maple syrup.

Coconut Sugar/Palm Sugar 

Coconut sugar is produced from the sap of the coconut palm tree. Coconut Sugar has a caramel taste which will impart into the baked treat. The coconut sugar granules are fairly large, so a quick pulse in a food processor will help it absorb better during mixing stages. Coconut sugar generally replaces white sugar at a 1:1 ratio (1 cup of coconut sugar = 1 cup of white sugar).

Stevia

Stevia is a naturally sweet herb that can be processed into a powder or a tincture to use as an all-natural, zero calories, no carb sweetener. It is best used to flavor, tea, sparkling water, coffee, smoothies, and yogurts.

Molasses

Molasses has a rich, full-bodied robust flavor and adds natural color and opulent caramel molasses tones to recipes. It is especially good in gingerbread, molasses cookies, bran muffins, quick breads, chili, BBQ sauces, and in marinades. It is a good source of vitamins, minerals and trace elements naturally present in the sugar cane plant, and is a good source of iron, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Yacon Syrup

Made from a tuber from South America, this syrup is a great replacement to those who are severely sensitive to molasses.  It is dark, thick, cinnamon-like in scent, and only half the sweetness of molasses. It is also quite costly. Reduce wet ingredients by 2 tbsp if you use it. As a molasses substitute, it’s terrific. As an everyday sweetener, it’s a bit on the costly side. If you wish to use it more often, try combining it with another one of the sweeteners here to get more mileage out of it. ¾ cup yacon = 1 cup sugar.

Organic Date Sugar

Date sugar is made from dried and ground dates. It exhibits a sweet almost molasses flavor that can be used in place of brown sugar. Date sugar can also replace white sugar nearly at a 1:1 ratio, however others prefer using 2/3 cup of date sugar to 1 cup of white sugar.

Sucanat

Made from dehydrated fresh cane juice. The process leaves more nutritional components in the product and it contains calcium, potassium, and a small amount of iron. It has a taste similar to sugar and molasses. It comes in both syrup and granulated form and can be used in recipes calling for sugar of all kinds.

Xylitol

Is a sugar alcohol with a sweetness similar to sugar, it contains 2.4 calories per gram, or about two-thirds of the caloric value of sugar. Xylitol appears to have some benefits for dental health, reducing the risk of cavities and dental decay. It may also improve bone density, helping to prevent osteoporosis. Xylitol doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels making it a good choice for diabetics. However, as with other sugar alcohols, it can cause digestive side effects at high doses. If you have a dog in your home, then you might want to keep xylitol out of the house because it is highly toxic to dogs.

I hope this helps narrow down your search at the grocery store when buying organic sugars and sweeteners. What have you found to be your favorite?

Don’t know where to buy these organic sugars and sweeteners? No worries, visit our Sweeteners and Syrups page.

7 Health Benefits of Eating Organic Cinnamon

There is no better way to kick off the fall season then by talking about one of fall’s most loved spices… organic cinnamon!  Mmm I can smell those pumpkin pies baking already! Cinnamon is one of those spices that most of us have in our kitchen cupboards, but many of us may not be aware of the many health benefits it there are in organic cinnamon.

organic cinnamonWhy organic? Well because it ensures you it has not been irradiated, which means being exposed to ionized radiation for a period of time (which may lead to decreased amounts of vitamin C and carotenoids). Irradiated foods contain more free radicals (free radicals make our bodies more prone to chronic diseases, like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes). And, irradiation plants emit ozone into the environment. Pretty good reasons to buy organic cinnamon I’d say!

Some Benefits of Organic Cinnamon:

  1. May help treat Type 2 Diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and increasing the amount of insulin production in the body. Research shows that cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, lowering blood sugar after eating.
  2. It’s a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Has been shown to stop medication resistant yeast infections and also has been effective against three strains of Candida albicans fungus. Not only that, cinnamon is by far the best remedy for stomach bugs and food poisoning like E.Coli, which sickens more than 100,000 people each year.
  3. Cinnamon may actually prevent the spread and growth of cancer cells1. Cancer cells abnormally take up glucose, ignoring regular metabolic signals. Cinnamon may play a role in reestablishing the proper signals and keeping sugar levels under control so cancer cells cannot grow as quickly or spread as far.
  4. So much more than a spice, cinnamon is rich in manganese, iron, calcium, and fiber too. By adding it to any recipe, you are increasing your minerals and it is one of the top seven anti-oxidants in the world, which reduce the formation of “free radicals” that cause cancer and also increase aging.
  5. Cinnamon has been found to be an effective natural remedy for eliminate headache and migraine relief.
  6. In traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon has been used for digestion upset like: gas, nausea and diarrhea and helps relieve symptoms of IBS. It is also believed to improve the body’s ability to digest fruit, milk and other dairy products.
  7. Just smelling cinnamon or chewing cinnamon gum is enough to boost brain activity, according to another study. In fact, test scores were higher, and memory, visual recognition, and motor speed were greatly enhanced in individuals who took a whiff of cinnamon, compared with individuals who smelled jasmine, peppermint, or no fragrance at all. If you put an oil diffuser in your car and add cinnamon oil, studies2 have shown to improve alertness behind the wheel.

Organic Cinnamon – Uses and Tips:

  • Mix cinnamon oil with hydrogen peroxide and spray your cutting board and kitchen sink to clean, especially after you have cut meats. Spray it in your refrigerator. It’s safe and natural.
  • Cinnamon is a well known warming agent making it great for massage. Combined with a carrier oil it is highly effective in relaxing and relieving muscle pain. Some put a few drops in their bath to relax and to sooth tired and aching muscles.
  • Half a teaspoon in a cup of tea with lemon juice and honey when colds or flu strike.
  • In tincture recipes to increase absorption of the herbs and for flavor.
  • A dash or two of cinnamon added to soups such as lentil or black bean may add an exotic flavor, plus provide the warming goodness may bring relief to those feeling under the weather.
  • Cinnamon oil in a diffuser.
  • Add one to two teaspoons of ground cinnamon to your coffee before brewing. It gives the coffee a nice cinnamon flavor and is an easy way to incorporate cinnamon into your diet.
  • Sprinkle or add into your favorite baked goods like, muffins, spice cakes and pies.
  • Add to your oatmeal or pancakes for breakfast.
  • Use in homemade elderberry syrup to protect against the flu.

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19000754
2. http://www.wju.edu/about/adm_news_story.asp?iNewsID=1882&strBack=/about/adm_news_archive.asp

What are your favorite ways to use organic cinnamon?

General Mills Buys Annie’s Homegrown; shopOrganic Offers Alternatives

If you haven’t heard the buzz yet, General Mills has purchased Annie’s Homegrown/Annie’s Naturals.  While they promise that their ingredients won’t change and their commitment to using non-gmo ingredients is as strong as ever, they have allied themselves on the pro GMO side by default.annie's

General Mills may be looking to take advantage of the increase in sales of organic products, but savvy organic consumers are turning away from Annie’s, now that they have been purchased.

With a commitment to not carry any brands whose parent company donates to oppose GMO labeling, shopOrganic will no longer be selling Annie’s Homegrown or Annie’s Naturals products.  We are moving out the remainder of the inventory that we already purchased pre-aquisition and that will be it for our relationship with Annie’s.  We believe in putting our money where our mouth is and we believe that consumers have the power to shape our economy.  Let’s shape it toward organic producers who still believe in the spirit of organic.

I know that many families rely on Annie’s products to feed their kids foods that are familiar, that are fun and that they like to eat.  We’d like to suggest some alternatives for you to choose from.

If you like Annie’s Mac and Cheese:

If you like Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies & Pretzels:

If you like Annie’s Fruit Snacks:

If you like Annie’s Salad Dressing:

If you like Annie’s Gluten Free Cookies:

If you like Annie’s BBQ or Worcestershire Sauce:

If you like Annie’s Granola Bars:

If you like Annie’s Ketchup & Mustard:

Healthy Snacks for Entertaining at Home

As its getting colder out, our activities tend to move indoors, and when we get together with friends, healthy snacks aren’t always the first thing we think of.   Today I’m going to give you some tips and ideas to make your get-togethers a bit healthier!healthy snacks

3 Tips for Making Healthy Snacks for Entertaining at Home

Tip 1: When it comes to grilling beef, poultry, pork etc., always try to use grass-fed beef or organic pastured, free range chicken and pork that is nitrate free, for the best possible quality.

Tip 2: When making your dishes, always strive to use as much organic ingredients as possible, this will lessen your exposure to chemicals, pesticides, and additives, and will ensure you get the most nutritional benefits from your food.

Tip 3: LIMIT or DO NOT USE overly processed foods (if you just can’t give up the chips and dip, make sure they’re organic… but try and limit your intake of chips and be sure to read your labels! The fewer ingredients the better when it comes to packaged foods).

With those three very important tips, you can make any meal or snack a healthier one.

25 Healthy snacks and treats for entertaining at home:

  1. Chorizo stuffed Jalapenos wrapped in bacon (my husband’s favorite snack food). All you need is 1lb of nitrate free chorizo and bacon. Cook chorizo all the way through in a skillet, slice jalapenos in half and seed them, stuff each half with chorizo and wrap in bacon. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30minutes (until bacon is cooked through). You can also grill these too! Note: This normally calls for cream cheese, feel free to add 8oz after the chorizo has been cooked and cooled slightly.
  2. Tortilla chips and salsa
  3. Chicken wings – try these healthier versions here.
  4. Veggie platter with ranch dip.
  5. Fruit platter (or make it fun with fruit skewers)
  6. Potato chips! Jackson’s Honest is my favorite potato chip to indulge on!
  7. Organic roasted pistachio nuts
  8. Trail mix
  9. Organic popcorn popped in coconut oil, sprinkle it with some nutritional yeast for some added B vitamins.
  10. Kale Chips
  11. Guacamole dip: this recipe looks fantastic!
  12. Almond Joy Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  13. Deviled Eggs: Recipe here.
  14. Nachos (if you follow the 3 tips above you will be good, just load them with as much veggies as possible)
  15. Beef Jerky
  16. Pretzels or this recipe for a grain free option
  17. Rice Cakes (be good topped with smoked salmon )
  18. Chili  with toppings (cheese, chopped onion, sour cream, salsa)
  19. Crispy Chicken Dippers  
  20. Pizza – again with following the 3 tips! Or try this “pizza” recipe for something out of the box.  My family loves it!
  21. Sweet Potato Chips
  22. Bacon Chicken Bites
  23. Organic Granola
  24. Prosciutto Wrapped Melon
  25. Bacon Wrapped Dates

 

What are your favorite healthy snacks? Share in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

I hope these tips and snack ideas help you to make your next game day a little healthier!  What are your favorite healthy football snacks?

P.S. Go Hawks!

Easy Organic Dinners for Back to School Season

With school back in full swing, for many of us that means our days just got busier. With kids in sports, organic dinnersafter school activities, lots of running around and homework, I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to worry about is what to cook for dinner. Today I’m going to list a bunch of easy recipes for organic dinners for you, that are going to be fairly quick to prepare, but also healthy for your family. I cook 100% gluten free in my home, so many of these recipe might be on the more “paleo-ish” side of things, but please feel free to switch up these recipes to fit how your family eats!  Just make sure you buy organic ingredients!

Quick & Easy Chili

I personally make this at least once a week, it’s so quick and easy and my family loves it. It’s also a great recipe to switch up the ingredients in from time to time.

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs ground beef (grass fed is best)
  • 1 28oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 14oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 7oz can tomato paste
  • 1 or 2 onions diced finely (I actually pre blend (puree) a bunch of onions with garlic and freeze them in ice cube trays to throw into dishes (saves on watering eyes). I used 6 cubes for this chili.
  • 1 Large bell pepper diced (any color will do, I like to use green)
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped finely (I already pureed mine with my onions)
  • 1 Jalapeño (seeded and chopped) this is optional, just added some extra heat.
  • 2 Tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon each of: cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander
  • ¼ Teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Brown your beef in a pot. When it’s almost all the way browned I like to throw in my diced peppers, and onion (or cubes) and sauté them until slightly tender.

Add your spices, stir well.

Then add all your canned tomatoes to the meat mixture and stir until well combined.

Simmer for as long as you wish. It will be warm in about 10 minutes, but if you have time you can let it simmer all day if you want! Serves 6-8 depending on bowl size.

To serve you have many options: Serve on top of a bed of zoodles (zucchini noodles) or spaghetti squash, or for the non-paleo you can serve over rice, regular spaghetti noodles or even on top of a baked potato. Top your chili with fresh diced onion, sour cream, cheese!

Crock Pot Chicken

This is another dish I make once a week. Because I get two meals for the price of one. It’s so basic, simple and you can go as fancy as you like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 organic whole chicken (my crock-pot holds a 5-6lb bird)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • Crock pot
  • Spices if desired.

Directions:

Properly prepare and handle your chicken. Lay slices of onion on the bottom of your crockpot and lay breast side down right on top of the onions.  For extra flavor you can run your chicken with desired spices.

Add a small amount of water or broth to the pot. I think I do 1-2 cups.

Cover and cook on low for 4-8 hours.  When the meat is falling off the bones is how I like it. To be sure just test your chicken with a thermometer (165 degrees).

Serve with sides of steamed vegetables. Severs 6-8 depending on bird size.

Tip: You will have a lot of liquid in your pot when the chicken is done. You can make gravy out of it if you wish. What I like to do is keep the liquid in the pot with the onions. I get all the meat off my chicken and throw the rest of the chicken (bones/skin) back into the crockpot. I add more onions, roughly chopped carrots and celery and fill the crock-pot up with water. Cover and that cook on low for anywhere from 12 hours or until the next day. Then from there you can strain and make chicken soup for your next dinner, or you can save the broth in freezer safe containers and use for later use!

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound beef tips or any cut of steak (grass fed preferably)
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Onion sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 2 Organic Mushroom Sauce Mix
  • 1 cup organic sour cream
  • 8 ounces egg noodles

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup water on high and brown beef on each side. Add sliced mushrooms and onions (optional) sauté with beef for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn heat to low. Add the 1 cup water, broth and the Mushroom Sauce Mix and stir.

Stir in sour cream.

Leave meat/sauce dish simmering on low heat and prepare egg noodles according to the directions on the package. Serve mixture over prepared noodles when ready. Severs 4-6.

* Instead of egg noodles, try kelp noodles, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles or even gluten free pastas.

Here are links to more Easy Organic Dinners:

When you’re trying to feed your family organic dinners, what are you easy go-to meals on busy week days? Please share your favorites!

7 Benefits of Feeding Your Family Organic Food

I get many questions about the importance of organic foods. People ask if it is really that big of a deal, and some sadly don’t even know what organic means! And so, here’s a quick reminder of what organic means:organic food

Organic (or-gan-ic): Food produced without the use of artificial or chemically formulated substances.

That’s it. Plain and simple. Eat organic and consume less toxic chemicals! A few years ago, I made organic brownies to bring to a social function and a gentleman asked me what my treat was, I told him they were dark chocolate organic brownies…and he immediately said that he doesn’t eat “that stuff”. I said, “What do you mean? Organic just means that no chemicals were used.” This man had no clue what organic meant. It’s so sad, and I know there are many others out there like him.

Seven benefits of eating and feeding your family organic foods:

1. Less toxic load.

We get enough toxic load from the air we breathe (think car exhaust, secondhand smoke, chlorine in our water, etc.).  The last thing we need to do is eat our chemicals. Choosing organic can lessen your toxic load by two-thirds; that’s pretty significant to me, and a much better for your family. A note for babies: The advantages of organic foods might be highest for babies because of the amount of food they eat relative to body size. The average baby is born with around 200 toxins and carcinogens in their body. By the time kids reach their 2nd year, most have passed the lethal limit for the toxins. By feeding your child organic food, they will have about one-sixth the amount of carcinogens in their blood. Thus you will decrease the chances of illnesses significantly. Therefore, especially for infants and children an organic food diet is incredibly important.

2. You know where it comes from.

Food is considered organic if it comes from a farming system that avoids man made fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, antibiotics and growth regulators. Instead, most organic farmers rely on basic crop rotation, using animal and plant manures, and hand weeding to grow their products. That benefits us because the foods contain no hydrogenated fats, artificial colors or flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.

3. Avoid GMO’s.

More recently, an increase in production of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) and the lack of labeling of these foods is causing many of us to choose organic. The impact of GMO foods and our health is still being studied, but the results so far do not look good. Rat studies show depressed immune systems, reproductive dysfunction, cancer, allergies, toxicity and more. In one 2005 study, conducted at the Russian Academy of Sciences, a 55% death rate of rat pups born to rats fed a GMO soy diet was discovered, compared to a 9% death rate of rat pups born to rats fed a non-GMO soy diet. Nearly 70% of all processed foods contain GMO ingredients, so choosing organic is the only guarantee that our food is free of GMO’s.

4. Tastes Better.

Yes! Have you ever ate an organic strawberry vs. a conventionally grown strawberry, or even an organic pastured egg vs. a conventional egg? The taste is so different. You will find that organic fruits usually always tastes sweeter and vegetables will taste bolder in flavor. It’s hard to go back to conventional once you have tasted organic. I think this is also true for how organic food looks. Organic foods just look more vibrant and healthy in size, shape and color!

5. Nutritional punch.

Antioxidants are important nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables and have been shown to impart multiple health benefits, including the prevention of many cancers and helps to slow our aging process. Some studies show that organic foods may have more antioxidants compared to commercial varieties. A 2012 study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture discovered higher antioxidants, including vitamin C, in organic broccoli compared to conventional.

6. Organic meats or meats produced by local farmers are healthier.

As for organic meats and poultry, to be considered organic, animals cannot be fed animal byproducts (which reduces the risk of mad cow disease) and antibiotics additives that means that organic diary and meat products do not contain these residues. Repeated exposure to low doses of antibiotic residues can disrupt the normal flora of the human gut, reducing the number of healthful bacteria and leaving humans more vulnerable to harmful bacteria and illness, because remember 70-80% of our immunity is in our gut. Also organic fed animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, which help to keep the animals healthy.

7. Help Detox.

Eating organic foods for just five days can rid the body of virtually all pesticide residues. Think you can’t afford it? Look for in-season deals at local farmers’ markets, buy in bulk, buy organic food online and preserve the excess to enjoy during the winter months.

I think the best benefit to eating organic foods is the guilt-free pleasure associated with the whole experience. Isn’t it reassuring to know that, by eating organic, you’re not only helping the environment but you’re feeding your family good, pure food that’s fresh and preservative free?! I think so!

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re trying to reduce pesticides and chemicals in your family’s diet, the best thing is either to buy food labeled “organic,” or ask the grower directly if you are concerned about how they grow their food. Most farmers are more than happy to share with you.

What are some of the benefits your family has received from switching to an organic diet?

Healthy Snacks for Heading Back to School

For most of us parents, the back to school countdown has officially begun. I know I’ve got my own countdown going on. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer time with my kids, but I can’t wait for the familiar daily routine we have when the kids are in school. I do know that with school also comes the after school snacks. If you’re a parent you’ve undoubtedly heard something like this a few… hundred times, “Mom, can I have a snack?”   healthy snacksI hear this every single day right after they walk through the door, after they kick their shoes off and set their backpacks down. It’s like clockwork.  Sometimes I actually have a snack ready for them, other times I’m scrambling around the pantry and refrigerator to figure out what I can make with the options I have.  The one thing I do know: every snack I feed them is a healthy snack.   So what kind of snacks are they?  I will list a bunch of easy ideas for healthy snacks, then maybe you can get creative with your own!

20 Healthy Snacks Ideas:

  1. Almond Joy Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  2. Trail mix (1c soaked nuts, 1/2 c seeds, 1/2 c chopped dried fruit)
  3. Homemade Granola
  4. Homemade popcorn using organic popcorn seeds and coconut oil.
  5. Smoothies
  6. Veggie sticks with dip (try making your own homemade ranch dip)
  7. Nitrate free meat or deli slices rolled up with cheese sticks
  8. Peaches and Cream with cinnamon: sliced or diced fresh peaches, drizzled with milk of choice and cinnamon
  9. Cherry Chocolate Truffles
  10. Organic Greek yogurt sprinkled with choice of toppings (chopped nuts, seeds, fresh or dried fruits)
  11. Frogs on a Log ( the classic celery with nut butters and raisins or dried cranberries on top)
  12. Hard boiled eggs with sea salt
  13. Homemade popsicles 
  14. Leftovers (this is especially true if we made homemade pizza the previous night)
  15. Plantain chips with homemade salsa
  16. Toast  (we are gluten free in my home so sometimes they like gluten free bread toasted , spread with coconut oil or ghee and topped with raw honey or homemade jam
  17. Lettuce boats (yep my daughter likes these for snack…butter lettuce or romaine hearts are good for the “boat”, lay some nitrate free meat in there with a little cheese or an avocado slice)
  18. Homemade Chocolate (and yes, it’s healthy)
  19.  Homemade Fruit roll ups (recipe here)
  20. Cucumber slices with cream cheese

I hope these healthy snack ideas gave you a good back to school start! What are you kids favorite healthy snacks? Heck, what are yours?

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