For The Greater Goods (sm)

Krissy

20 Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

Awhile back I wrote about the many benefits of apple cider vinegar.  Today I’m going to give you a list of actual ways to use this wonderful stuff! Just remember the most important thing is that your apple cider vinegar is raw, organic and unfiltered and unpasteurized, this will assure you are getting the best quality. Bragg’s apple cider vinegar is my go-to brand.

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Photo credit: WebMD

Cleaning with Apple Cider Vinegar

1. Clean Counters and Surfaces

Use undiluted apple cider vinegar, right from the bottle, on counter-tops and other surfaces in your kitchen. This will disinfect them and leave them smelling super fresh and apple scented.

2. All-purpose Cleaner

Add 1/2 c apple cider vinegar to 1 c of water to a 16oz spray bottle. This is great for cleaning countertops, windows and even mirrors.

3. Floor Cleaner

1 part apple cider vinegar to 1 part water in a spray bottle will clean your kitchen floors. Spray on hard surfaces and wipe off with a rag or mop.

4. Produce Bath

To clean your produce of all those chemicals fill up your sink with water and pour about 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. Add your produce and let sit 5-10 minutes. This is clean your produce and rid them of nasty pesticides.

5. Dishwasher

Pour a little in your dishwasher. This helps remove soap scum and will make your dishwasher last longer. It also has a nice smell when you open it up. Kind of a faint apple scent.

6. Wooden Furniture

Dusting your wood furniture, all you need to do is make a 50 x 50 mix of water and apple cider vinegar and add it to a mist bottle. Any wooden furniture you polish with this mixture will look great!

7. No Chemicals Drain-O

Use an apple cider vinegar, baking soda and salt mix to clean and deodorize partially blocked drains. Mix 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl and pour down the drain. Next, pour in 1/2 a cup of vinegar. The apple cider vinegar and baking soda will react with each other giving off harmless carbon dioxide gas. After 2-3 hours flush with water.

8. Fruit Fly Killer

I don’t know about you, but I dread when those pesky fruit flies make their appearance during the summertime, always hovering over the fruit in our house. Using apple cider vinegar is by far my favorite remedy (and most effective one I have tried) to get rid of them. Put half a cup of apple cider vinegar in a glass jar. Place Saran Wrap over the top of a jar and put a rubber band/tape around it to make it tight. Take a toothpick and poke several holes in the saran wrap. Place in the area you’re having the problem.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Beauty & Personal use

9. Tummy Help

Prevent and aid in healthy digestion. Take 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water (add a little stevia or honey to taste) and drink 15-30 minutes before meals.  You can also do this after eating if you forgot to take it before ;)

10. Bye-Bye Bad Breath

Due to its wonderful acidic properties, apple cider vinegar makes a wonderful remedy for bad breath or halitosis. Simply add 1/2 tablespoon of ACV into a cup of water and gargle the mixture in your mouth for 10 seconds at a time until the cup is empty.

11. Yeast Be-Gone

Apple cider vinegar is a very effective in treating yeast infections. Add 1 and a half cups of ACV into a bathtub filled with warm water, and then soak in it for about 20 minutes. This should be done once a day for the first 3 days of the infection.

12. Freshen Mouth

Gargle with apple cider vinegar in the mornings. The vinegar helps remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums. Brush as usual after you gargle.

13. Shampoo/De-tangler

Apple cider vinegar can be used as a rinse for your hair after shampooing, helps to detangle and will boost your hair’s body and shine. Fill an old bottle with 1/2 a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a cup of cold water. Pour the solution through your hair after shampooing several times a week for better results.  I also put 1 tablespoon of ACV into a small spray bottle of water to use as a natural detangled.

14. Soothes Sunburns

Add a cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath, and soak for 10 minutes to eliminate discomfort from sunburn. You can also apply directly to lightly sunburned skin using a cotton ball using part ACV part water.

15. Toner

For a natural skin toner which helps acne and firming up the skin. Mix equal parts of ACV and water and store in the refrigerator. After shower use a cotton ball and apply like you would any facial toner.   Don’t be alarmed that vinegar smell disappears quickly… If you want you can add a few drops of essential oil to the toner to give it a better smell.  Just stay away from citrus oils on the skin.

16. Relaxing Bath

Have sore or aching muscles?  Soothe in a relaxing bath by mixing 1-2 cups of ACV in your bathwater.  Add some peppermint or lavender oil for a nice pleasant scent. I like to take a bath after snowboarding or playing softball. Really helps soothes the muscles and very relaxing too!

Apple Cider Vinegar and a Healthier You

17. Combat Sore Throat

Feel a sore throat coming on. Gargle apple cider vinegar right when you feel that little tickle sneaking up.  I would do this 3x a day until symptoms disappear.

18. No More Warts

Apple cider vinegar is also a natural way to remove warts. For warts, soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar, then fasten the cotton ball over the wart with a Band-Aid overnight. The skin may swell some as it reacts with the solution. However, the wart will fall off. Once it falls off, the treatment should be continued for a few more days, to make sure the wart doesn’t return.

19. Weight loss

Helps aid in weight loss. Apple Cider Vinegar helps to break down fats so that your body can use them rather than store them. For this reason, many diets include ACV in the regimen. For daily weight management, add about 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to 16 ounces of water. This concoction can be sipped throughout the day. My husband lost around 10 pounds in a 6 month period by adding this to his daily routine. He started out with 1 tsp and worked himself up to 2 tsp.

20. Lower Blood Pressure

Some studies suggest that the acetic acid in Apple Cider Vinegar may help lower blood pressure. ACV may help increase production of the blood vessel relaxing compound nitric oxide. It may also help inhibit enzymes that cause the blood vessels to constrict. For blood pressure lowering effects, take 2-6 TBSP a day in water is the usual recommendation.

* Apple cider vinegar should always be diluted when using internally or topically to the skin (especially with individuals and children with sensitive skin).

How do you incorporate apple cider vinegar into your daily routine?  Please share any of your favorite ACV uses!

3 Healthy Dessert Recipes You Can Make At Home

Yes! You CAN have dessert!!  Despite whichever weight loss or healthy living resolutions you’ve made for yourself this New Years, you should never feel as though you’re depriving yourself. Sometimes that feeling alone can lead to unwanted binge eating or giving up on a healthy diet altogether.  It’s time to get out of that mind set and realize that it is OKAY to have a little dessert, especially if it’s healthy dessert! A healthy dessert is not going to make you feel depressed after eating it, or make your kids bounce off the wall.  Been there, done that.  It’s time to start avoiding the cookie and candy aisles, and take making healthy desserts into your own hands.  When you make your own healthy desserts you know exactly what ingredients are in them.  And knowing what’s in your desserts is such a better feeling than eating highly processed sweets like high fructose corn syrups, enriched flours and trans fats!

The healthy desserts I am going to list for you are some that I have come up with on my own and some recipes that I love from various websites.  All of which I or my family has personally loved.  I also like to keep sugar out of my house. I mostly use Stevia, Raw local honey and Maple syrup, as sweeteners in our home.

You can modify all of these healthy dessert recipes to meet you and your family’s needs.  We are gluten free in my home so I always swap my recipes with an organic gluten free flour, so please feel free to change things up and make it your own!

Healthy Dessert Recipes

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix all ingredients except the last two with mixer until blended then stir in coconut and chocolate chips. Drop by tbsp. on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake 20 min. Cool completely before storing!

When I made them they tasted like macaroons and my kids loved them for breakfast!

2 Ingredient Ice-cream

healthy-desserts-2-ingredients-ice-cream

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium frozen bananas (peeled, break into chunks)
  • 1/4 cup of nut butter

Take your frozen bananas and throw them in your Vitamix, blender or food processor.  Scoop in the nut butter of your choice, I’ve used peanut butter and almond butter and they both tasted great!   If you have a Vita-Mix, it takes less than a minute to make, just remember to press the mixture down with your tamper.  And that’s all it takes!   My kids beg me for this “ice-cream” and I just love it.  Sometimes I throw in some cacao powder for a chocolate version.

Double Chocolate “Cupcakes”

healthy-desserts-double-chocolate-cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used homemade coconut milk for this recipe)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted (ghee is also wonderful with these)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (I used 2 tablespoons raw honey and 1/4 tsp stevia)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients then add in wet ingredients, mix well. Add in a few dark chocolate chips or carbo chips if desired. Pour into a greased cupcake pan (or use liners) and fill 2/3′s full (will make about 7 regular cupcakes) then in the oven at 350 for around 20 minutes. Top with frosting for cupcakes or my kids had them with coconut oil and almond butter for breakfast.

My favorite healthy dessert recipe links:

  1. Chocolate Covered Katie – I just adore her site. I have made countless recipes from her and they all have been wonderful.  The recipes are vegan, but you can make them fit your needs.  Trust me you will LOVE them!
  2. Healthy Homemade Chocolate – This is my go-to chocolate recipe. I changed mine up a bit. I use stevia as my sweetener, but my kids prefer the honey. I also use raw cacao powder for some that extra super food boost.
  3. Nourishing Traditions “Macaroons“- Have you read the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (one of my hero’s)? If you haven’t you are missing out.  This recipe is wonderful, love that I can have macaroons, without that overly sweet taste.
  4. Mint Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice-Cream – Who ever thought of a probiotic ice cream?!  I’m all for an ice cream rich in natural whole food ingredients and one that is going to be easy on the tummy!
  5. Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes – Hands down these are my kids absolute favorite right now. They are so happy that mom found a healthy donut for them!
  6. Almond Joy Chocolate Chunk Cookies – I wrote this blog a while back, but this is still a family favorite!

I hope now you feel better knowing that you can still have dessert, just with a little touch of healthy, can’t go wrong with that!   What are your favorite healthy desserts?

New Year’s Resolutions for 2014: Eating Healthy

I have never been all that good at making New Year’s resolutions and sticking with them.  In my younger years I always new-years-resolutions-2014-eating-healthyseemed to fail at them, then again when I look back at the resolutions I made when I was in my teens and 20′s, most of them were weight loss based and very unrealistic. If I didn’t see results after two weeks, I’d be done.  Now that I’m in my mid 30′s my outlook on what resolutions to make and how to keep them is much different. To this day I don’t know many people who have ever really stuck or actually completed their New Year’s resolutions.  If you have then I sincerely applaud you!  What I find works best for me is creating smaller goals throughout the year. Goals that are realistic for me, and writing them down is key (did you know that people who write down there goals are 90% more likely to stick to them? It’s true).  So get your pen and paper out and start a small list of attainable goals.

New Year’s goals and resolutions for eating healthy this year!

1. Give Your Pantry a Makeover

Go through your pantry, cupboards and refrigerator and throw out anything with the following words (these are additives, chemicals and preservatives to stay away from):

  • Partially hydrogenated (usually will be some sort of oil, all are bad trans fats)
  • Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K, and neotame, among others, found in diet sodas, and sugar free snacks
  • Food dyes, Red 3 has caused cancer in lab rats, and Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 may contain cancer-causing contaminants, I would stay away from all to be safe.
  • Watch out the word ‘enrichment’. That means niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, and iron are added after these and other key nutrients are stripped out in the first place during the refining process.
  • Monosodium Glutamate is an additive. It is not a nutrient, vitamin or a mineral and has no health benefits.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) causes insulin resistance, diabetes, hypertension, weight gain and not to mention it is manufactured from genetically modified corn
  • Soy although it’s often lauded as a healthy, cholesterol-free, cheap, low-fat protein alternative to meat, soy is not a health food. Any foods that list soy in any form as an ingredient should be avoided. Like the above, most of the U.S. soy is genetically modified.

2. Drink More Water

Did you know that on average we need to be drinking half of our body weight in water each day? That means if a person weighs 150 lbs they should be drinking 75 ounces of water a day.  Don’t let that overwhelm you, start small: drink a glass or two more water then work up to it. This allows for proper hydration your body needs and helps with eliminating toxins.

3. Get that sugar out

Sugar has no nutritional value and it feeds every fungus, parasite, yeast, virus etc. in our body; it helps them grow and in turn weakens our immunity.  A good swap for sugar is Stevia.  Start small, try a little in your tea or coffee in the morning.

4. Start a Food Journal

To some this may seem like a daunting task. Try it. It works. It really helps you see what you are eating on a daily basis. Also it helps track and narrows down issues you may have with food (food sensitivities, allergies, mood swings etc). When you notice patterns you can eliminate the food you think might be the culprit and see if those symptoms disappear.

5. Buy more Organic food

The more organic and local you eat, the less pesticides, toxins you will ingest. Also eating organic is a good way to keep you away from GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).

6. Be adventurous

On your plate I mean.  Yes, this year try new foods! Eat the rainbow. If all you eat is Iceberg lettuce in your salads try a new green.  Arugula is a wonderful green that has a slightly peppery taste.  You like raisins?  Try a handful of Goji berries, they might surprise you and they are packed full of nutrients.  Eating a variety of foods ensures we meet all of our nutritional requirements, and aren’t missing any essential vitamins and minerals by eating the same things every day.  So have some fun, try a new fruit or vegetable every week.

7. Slow Down

Take your time to eat. So many of us eat on the go these days. What you need to commit to doing, at least once a day, just ONE meal, is to slow down. Take your time to eat and for heaven’s sake SIT DOWN, none of this standing up to eat business.  Also make sure to chew your food, this is so important in order to digest our food properly and it will help with many digestive disorders.

8. Eat more sustainably

I’m not saying become a farmer and live off the land (though I think I would love that!) just make a few easy changes to your usual food-shopping and eating routines. Aim for local and seasonal foods, and start shopping at your local farmers’ market. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, the food is fresher because it doesn’t have to travel as far and you’re also supporting your community’s economy.

9. Plant a Garden

The garden you plant doesn’t have to be a big one. Start small, even an herb garden in your kitchen would be wonderful. Get your kids involved. Nothing could be better than teaching your child about sustainable food.

10. Meal Plan

Meal planning is important especially when health challenges are involved.  Start planning out your meals a week or a month in advanced, this will help you to only buy and use what you need and help you to save money.

11. Move that Body

Thought I’d forget this one huh?!  It’s true a healthy lifestyle includes moving your body.  There are too many benefits of exercise to list. Just remember exercise normalizes many functions in our body, a few being: hormone and thyroid levels, helps plaque from building in our arteries, and helps stimulate the liver (which performs more than 3000 functions). Those are only some of the benefits of adding exercise to your lifestyle.  One of the greatest advantages of moving your body is how much better it makes you feel in every way!   If exercise is new to you, start with a 15 minute walk 3 times a week then work up to 30 minutes!!

If you’re having trouble coming up with your own New Year’s goals or resolutions then please feel free to choose from the ones I’ve listed.  Pick the ones the work for you and DO YOUR BEST to reach them.  You will find that putting these healthy eating habits into practice will not only benefit your health, it will help you get to your desired weight naturally (if weight loss is a resolution or goal for you).  Remember true weight loss is something you cannot achieve with a magic pill.  True weight loss is slow, but you are more likely to stick with it and keep it off.

How to Buy Safe Canned Seafood

Like me, I’m sure you have heard at some point in your lifetime about how to buy safe canned seafood (Tuna, Salmon, how-to-buy-safe-canned-seafoodetc.)  It seems like there is always a new study coming out saying something different about whether canned seafood is safe or not. So which is it, good or bad?  Honestly, I say BOTH.  For me I really think it depends on a few things:

  1. Where was it caught?
  2. Do the cans have BPA?
  3. And what are the ingredients?

Where was the fish in the canned seafood caught?

On the canned seafood cans always look for the words “Wild Caught”, this will insure you that the fish was not farm raised and fed grains and or given dye (mostly found in canned salmon).  My advice is to stay away from commercial brands like Starkist and Chicken of the Sea, both of these brands claim to be wild-caught but they use additives in their canned seafood.

Do the cans the canned seafood comes in contain BPA?

BPA is a chemical used in the manufacturing of some vinyl can liners, including those found in some canned seafood. Researchers classify BPA as an “endocrine disruptor” because it has the ability to disrupt activities in the body’s endocrine (hormonal) system which is linked to a wide array of ailments such as ADHD and heart disease. We’ve only seen a few studies that actually measured BPA in canned seafood, and the results were mixed. Some of the studies showed contamination of the seafood with BPA, and some did not.

What are the ingredients in the canned seafood?

Safe canned seafood should only have 2-3 ingredients including: fish, water and maybe some salt. If it lists more than three ingredients then I’d be weary. If it says vegetable broth (which usually contains soybeans) or Pyrophosphate (a common food grade additive used in a variety of products from chicken nuggets to toothpaste) then I would steer clear from those.

If you look out for those few things on your can, you should be able to select safer options for canned seafood.  For me, I love a good can of tuna or salmon. I eat it at least once a week in a salad or when making salmon cakes! Remember that seafood has some very valuable fatty acids (Omega 3′s) with are essential for our body they give a good source of energy, they are the building blocks for every cell membrane in our body  and are necessary for healthy liver function, just to name a few benefits.  Now you can feel better knowing that you are doing your body a favor by eating fish…even canned seafood!

Here are some trusted canned seafood brands:

Henry & Lisa
Crown Prince
Sea Fare Pacific
Cole’s

What brand of canned seafood is your favorite and how do you like to enjoy it?  

12 Healthy Oils (fats) You Should Be Eating

Unfortunately fats/oils have gotten a bad rap over the past sixty years.   The low-fat/no-fat approach was first promotedhealthy-oils in the 1950’s by nutrition researcher Nathan Pritikin. Initially, Pritikin advocated a no-fat diet, high in un-refined carbohydrates, but after long-term research he realized  that a no-fat diet led to many physiological imbalances including fatigue, mood disorders like depression, nutrient and mineral deficiencies, weight issues and more.  Realizing that fat (fatty acids) were necessary for balanced health, Pritikin began promoting that a low-fat diet, including modest amounts of vegetable fats (from nuts and seeds), was actually more healthful than the no-fat diet approach. Hence, the low-fat diet was born and this dangerously flawed theory is still a core dietary recommendation among dieticians, clinical nutritionists, and doctors.

So throw that myth out the door, that fat makes you fat and is unhealthy for you!  The fact is that the human body NEEDS fat.  Why you ask?  Here are some excellent reasons:

How fats/oils of all kinds benefit our body:

  • Fats and oils satisfy our appetites
  • Fats and oils aid in healthy hormone balance in our body
  • Fats and oils are the main fuel for the muscles which includes the heart muscle.
  • Optimal liver and gallbladder function
  • Fats and oils help to nourish every cell in our bodies
  • Fats and oils allow us to heal quickly and effectively
  • Fats and oils are better source of energy. They are a long burning fuel unlike sugars/carbs which are fast burning.
  • Fats and oils promote healthy cholesterol levels.

Now after having said all that, which fats and oils do we use?!   Well this is where you have to be careful and really read your labels. There is a difference between good fats and bad fats.   When you are looking for good fats always look for the words: Cold Pressed, UN-refined (emphasizing the UN), Expeller Pressed, Organic and Extra Virgin.  Bad (Rancid) fats will say this:  Hydrogenated, Partially Hydrogenated, refined and they might trick you and say Cold PROCESSED (instead of Cold PRESSED) see that little trick they do there!  Dirty isn’t it!    Remember it’s very important to stay away from these oils, the human body CANNOT and does NOT have the capability to digest these rancid, refined oils.   So here is a list of the GOOD oils you should be using:

Top 12 Oils and Fats to use:

Saturated Fats

Best for cooking at higher temperatures and do not turn rancid easily, ideal for baking and sautéing

1. Ghee (Clarified butter) has a 500 smoke point making it my preferred oil/fat for cooking and baking and here is how to make it yourself.

2. Coconut oil, which has a smoke of about 350 degrees and one of my favorite oils.

3. Palm Kernel Oil (made from the kernels of palm fruit, and similar to coconut oil)

4. Lard and other animal fats from healthy sources

Monounsaturated Fats

Lower heat point, good for light sautéing, simmering and stir-frying.

5. Olive Oil (unfiltered is best, should be golden yellow/green in color and cloudy.)

6. Almond Oil

7. Avocado Oil

8. Sesame Oil

Polyunsaturated Fats

Easily damaged by light, heat and turn rancid easily, not used for cooking and should always be stored in dark containers in the refrigerator.

* UNSAFE FOR ANY KIND OF HEAT EXPOSURE! DO NOT USE FOR COOKING!   Use these oils instead as a supplement form or to make in a dressing.

9. Flax Seed Oil

10. Fish Oil

11. Grapeseed oil

12. Hemp Seed oil

Having a good balance of the above fats is key! If you eat a healthy combination of these oils then you will have a good balance of Essential Fatty Acids in your body!!

Oils/Fats that are UNSAFE in any circumstances:

Canola Oil and Cottonseed Oil

Both are HIGHLY processed oil. Don’t let the canola fool you ….listen to how it’s pronounced CON-ola.   Canola is the oil of the industry, and it is the oil they are currently using in the prepared foods at Whole Foods Markets across the country.  It has no place in our digestive track.  Cottonseed oil is one of the most genetically modified, pesticide- laden crops in America.  Stay away from it at all costs, if you eat Crisco…throw it out, cottonseed oil is one of the main ingredients!  So, did I stun you today?!  I hope right now that you are going through you kitchen looking for those bad oils and throwing them out!  If you stick to the list above then you will be okay!

Did this list surprise you or have you been cooking and using these healthy oils all along? 

Saving Money on Organic Foods: 10 Great Tips

Something I hear a lot is, “I would buy organic foods and products if they weren’t so expensive!”  This statement makessaving-money-on-organic-foods-tips me want to roll my eyes… and then roll them again. Really?  Too expensive?  I don’t think it’s more expensive than future medical costs you will incur if you continue to eat processed junk that can barely be called, “food”!  And while it’s probably obvious that this argument drives me up a wall, I have to remind myself that for a lot of people saving money on organic foods, and saving money in general, isn’t just a preference but it’s a necessity.  Not everyone has the luxury of buying all organic (I sure don’t), and some just don’t know where to start. This is where my heart gets soft, because I didn’t know either.  If someone would have informed me when I was younger I would have really appreciated that, not only knowing what foods I should be eating, but how to make an organic diet a sustainable one.  And so I’ve put together a few tips that I hope will make saving money on organic foods a little easier for you, and make your shopping trips more enjoyable.

Saving Money on Organic Foods

1. Did you know that you don’t have to buy all organic produce? There are some fruits and veggies that have less pesticides, making it okay to buy non-organic if you are in a pinch.  With my family of five, this has come in very handy.  Here is a good list to give you an idea of what you should buy organic and what is okay to buy conventional.  You’ll notice the fruit and veggies for which we eat the skin, we should always buy organic and most of the produce that has skin typically not for ingesting or have low pesticide ratings are okay to buy conventionally. Here are examples:

Produce that should be purchased organically:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Grapes
  • Hot peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Collards & kale
  • Summer squash & zucchini

Produce that is safe to purchase conventionally:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Sweet potatoes

2. The next best thing for saving money on organic foods is to buy locally. Some farmers cannot afford to have their farm be organic certified, so in the stores these will be labeled: “Locally Grown” or from local farmers.  Go to farmers markets and buy straight from the farmers where you can ask them questions on how they grow their food.

3. Get rid of the junk!  Buying fewer processed foods means less of your budget going towards junk and frees that money up for buying organic whole foods!

4. Next spring start your own organic garden.  My family did this and it helped lower the cost on produce for a good 6 months.  Plant the vegetables that you buy the most to help costs even more.  Plus it’s so rewarding to eat food that you grew in your back yard.

5. Buy in bulk. When you buy in bulk the upfront cost will be more, but you get more for your money and you will not have to buy those items for awhile.  This option is especially good for the items you use the most in your home like grains, nuts, seeds, flours, spices, beans and even household supplies. You can find a whole bunch of organic items to buy in bulk online.

6. Develop a meal plan.  I find that making a weekly or monthly meal plan helps in saving money on organic foods.  When you develop a meal plan you can make your shopping list very easy and you’ll know exactly what you have to buy and what ingredients you need to buy organic.  This helps on costs because you aren’t just buying things you might need, or might make and that helps not buying things that’ll just go to waste.

7. When you go to your grocery store, co-op or health food store look for the produce that is marked down because they are bruised or overly ripe. This is a good time to stock up. I like it when I get a ton of bananas and apples. I freeze the bananas and make applesauce and apple butter!

8. Go straight to the farm.  Usually when you go straight to the source you can get produce cheaper than the grocery stores and sometimes even a better deal than the farmers markets! You can check the web site Local Harvest for the markets that are in your area.

9. Buy organic foods that are in season. Out of season foods can cost more because of shipping costs, as well as the demand versus the availability of the item. Buying foods that are in season saves on the transport energy, and lowers the cost of the food.

10. Shop for organic foods and products online.  If you are in an area where you cannot get good organic food, and so saving money on organic foods isn’t the primary issue, shop online! It’s nice when you can have items delivered straight to your house and most places have deals for saving money on organic foods.

Have these tips helped you?  What tips can you share for saving money on organic foods?

5 Gluten Free Pasta Options

For the most part of 2013 my family has been doing its best to be gluten free, with the exceptions of my son and my

gluten-free-pasta-options

Photo Credit: Sam Newman

husband (it’s been hard and I think my son will get on board much easier than my husband, but I’m working on them both!).   We found out one of our daughter’s was gluten sensitive early this year and have been doing our best to adapt. One of her most missed foods is pasta.  In the beginning it was very hard, but since there are so many delicious gluten free foods available nowadays, we’ve been adapting fairly well and even my husband likes our gluten free pasta options. Before I give you a list of gluten free pasta options, here is a good read about gluten. Also, check out this article to see if you might be suffering from gluten intolerance and get tips for how to start living a gluten free lifestyle.  Now for the fun part…

5 Favorite Gluten Free Pasta Options:

  1. Believe it or not vegetables make a perfect substitute for traditional pasta noodles; Spaghetti squash in particular is an excellent option. Spaghetti and meatballs is my family’s favorite dish using Spaghetti squash. I have also used thinly sliced, cabbage and zucchini too!
  2. Brown Rice Pasta: I usually have this on hand in my home at all times for quick meals like gluten free macaroni and cheese.
  3. Corn Pasta is another option. I personally have never tried it before, but I’m very curious and I can’t wait to test it out on the family. When buying any type of corn, remember to always buy organic corn.
  4. Quinoa, did you know they can make pasta out of quinoa?  Quinoa is one of my favorites and I just love the taste and texture. Ancient Harvest does a blend of quinoa and corn that’s very delicious.
  5. Kelp Noodles are a great option too. I like these because they are quick and easy. You can rinse them off and eat them as is or heat them up in your favorite dish.  These are especially good in stir-fry’s.

Now that you have a few more gluten free pasta options, I hope you feel more confident in the kitchen knowing that you can use the options above to make your favorite dishes again.  Oh! One last gluten free pasta option! And this was a must: lasagna!  Yes, you can still have lasagna! Can you tell from all my exclamation points that it was my most missed pasta? It’s hard to find a good gluten free lasagna pasta!   I’m part Italian, going gluten free sounded like a death sentence for me at first, so I definitely sympathize with anyone’s gluten free lifestyle change.  I promise you though, you will make it work and in time you won’t even miss those wheat noodles anymore. Plus by going gluten free you are doing your body a wonderful favor so keep up the good work!

What is your favorite gluten free pasta?  Did you have a favorite pasta dish that you re-invented with gluten free substitutes?  

BPA FREE: What Does It Mean & Why Is It Important For Moms-to-be?

Are you pregnant or planning to become pregnant and have been worried about the BPA in plastics? Here is some BPA-freeinformation that can help you stay BPA Free and protect you and your baby before, during and after pregnancy.

What is BPA anyway?

BPA is a chemical called Bisphenol A and is the main component of polycarbonate, the hard, clear plastics sometimes used to make baby bottles, food storage containers, water bottles and much more. It can also be found in the lining in canned foods, filters of cigarettes, contact lenses and it even may be in certain “carbonless” receipts, where it coats paper to prevent ink smears.

How Can This Affect Moms-to-be?

  • Baby girls who are exposed while in the womb to BPA’s may develop behavior problems as children.
  • Children of mothers who have the high levels of BPA during pregnancy are twice as likely to wheeze in early childhood, than the children of mothers with the lower BPA’s.
  • Some studies suggest that possible effects from BPA could be most pronounced in infants and young children. Their bodies are still developing and they are not as efficient at eliminating substances from their systems.
  • BPA is an endocrine disruptor. It changes the way our body’s hormones function, mimicking our own natural hormones, estrogen being the main culprit.
  • Two studies have found that adults with the highest levels of BPA in their bodies seem to have a higher incidence of heart problems
  • Women with higher levels of BPA are more likely to have fertility issues.  Studies show higher risk of miscarriages as well.

*Please remember although this list of possible BPA risks is frightening, keep in mind that nothing has been established. The concern about BPA risks stems primarily from studies in animals – more studies need to be done. I don’t know about you, but as a mom I would rather be safe, and use products that are BPA free, than sorry.

What can you do to stay BPA Free?

  • If you are planning a family, to get ready for the baby and a healthy pregnancy, go through your house and toss out anything that contains BPA’s, this will help limit you and baby’s exposure to the chemical.
  • Start using glass water bottles instead of plastic.
  • Limit and or avoid canned foods (Eden Foods claims to use an alternative to BPA)
  • If a mother is unable to breastfeed her child use glass baby bottles or switch to polypropylene bottles that are labeled “5″ on the bottom.
  • Can your own vegetables and fruits in glass mason jars.
  • Look at the bottoms of plastic containers, if you see a 1 or a 7 it is most likely BPA, avoid those.
  • Read your plastic products (toys, bottles, food containers etc) make sure it reads, “BPA free” on the package.
  • Ask your cashier to throw away your receipt.
  • If you wear contacts make sure they are made from BPA free ingredients.
  • When grocery shopping buy whole foods instead of canned foods.
  • Buy BPA Free Toothbrushes.

I hope these tips will help ease your mind and give you steps towards living a life with less BPA. What have you done to limit use of BPA’s?

Organic Teething Biscuit Recipes

My baby is 2 now, and has cut most of her teeth, so I haven’t had the need to use organic teething biscuits for some time now, but when she was teething, I was baking up a storm of different kinds of teething friendly goodies.  With my first two kids I went with whatever my mom used on my siblings and I growing up which was the Nabisco’s Zwieback toast.  Do they still make that? I’m scared to look.  I also remember using a brand from Ger which I dreaded giving my kids because it made the biggest mess.

organic-teething-biscuit-for-babies (300x200)

Photo credit: Abigail Batchelder

That is why with my last baby and now living a healthy lifestyle I wanted to stray from the conventional teething biscuits I once knew and wanted to make my own organic teething biscuits with healthy baby friendly ingredients.   These recipes are very versatile, so you will be able to substitute many ingredients!

Basic Organic Teething Biscuit Recipe

(Best for babies age 1 and up, see note below)

Mix dry ingredients in.  Add in syrup, if using, and melted oil.  Form date-like shapes and put on greased baking sheet or parchment paper.

Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Flip them halfway through so that you have a nice golden crisp on both sides of biscuit. Store in uncovered dish for at least 24 hours which will harden them even more.

*There are many variations you can do with this organic teething biscuit recipe. Try using pumpkin instead of applesauce and add pumpkin spice, or add mashed banana instead of applesauce with a tsp. of cinnamon.   So many options you can try!

Grain Free (Gluten Free) Organic Teething Biscuits

  • 1 – 1/2 cups Almond flour (or try using 1 cup sprouted flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 egg yolks (pastured raised preferred)
  • 1/2 cup purred/mashed fruit (applesauce, mashed bananas, pumpkin, carrots sweet potato etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I like to use the non-alcohol extract)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of water

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or use bleach free parchment paper . Beat oil and egg yolks together, mixing well. Add mashed fruit or vegetables.

Add in the rest of the dry ingredients and fold into wet mixture until combined. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more water by the teaspoons. The dough will be stiff but should not crumble. Knead the dough and roll out on a floured surface or parchment paper to form an about 12 inch log. Cut small slices 1/4-1/2 inch thick and arrange on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes (depending on oven) and flip half way through for even baking.

If you would rather buy your biscuits try this brand.   Have you made organic teething biscuits before, what were you favorite ingredients?

Notes: 

*Most babies’ digestion is not prepared for processing grains especially wheat, before the age of one.  In order to process grains, we need to make the enzyme Amylase. Babies do not make this enzyme in large enough amounts to digest grains until their molar teeth are fully developed. And for most kids this doesn’t happen until they are closer to 2 years old. So, what happens when babies are given grains that they cannot digest? It irritates the lining of their little digestive tract and can have a negative impact on the balance of good and bad bacteria in their tummy. If babies tummy’s are chronically irritated and inflamed this can lead to a host of problems which including food allergies, asthma and even behavioral problems. Many parents (including myself with my first two children) are fed a diet of  cheerios, toast, pasta and other processed foods that have no nutritional value and that are filled with GMO’s, sugar and hydrogenated oils (trans fats), we are leaving less room in their diet for nutrient-rich foods that they need to be healthy.

*Spouted flours – The grains have been sprouted and then dehydrated and finally ground to make flour. This process neutralized the phytic acid in the grains. Phytic acid can combine with minerals in our body (zinc, calcium, etc.) and block their absorption. This can lead to mineral deficiencies and bone loss.

Eating Healthy: Tips for a Healthy Diet & Lifestyle

Eating healthy is defined many different ways by many people.  Sometimes it can be a little confusing and sometimes, downright overwhelming.  Seems like every few years the media is telling us, “eat a no fat diet”, “stay awayeating-healthy from carbs”, “sprinkle this chemical on your food to make you feel full!” The list goes on and on and on.  So is there really a right way to eat, is there a good diet?   The answer is simply….. YES!  Now to clarify what I mean by ‘diet’ let’s look at the two definitions of ‘diet’.  The first definition of the word diet is the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.  The second definition (which most people think of when they hear the word ‘diet’) is a special course of food to which one restricts oneself to lose weight.

Today we are talking about the first definition: the kind of foods humans should be eating.  Do you know what kinds of food you should be eating in order to be eating healthy?  Well I will give it to you in very simple terms.  We humans should be eating whole foods, a nutrient dense diet.   What does that mean?   Whole foods equal 1 ingredient foods.  That means all your fruits vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds, herbs etc.   If you eat a whole foods diet, you can guarantee that your body will be getting the nutrients it craves.   Now, you may ask, what if I am a Vegan, Vegetarian or Paleo, etc.?   Good question. No matter which lifestyle you lead, you should be following the same rule in order to be eating healthy: eat whole foods.  Did you know that Oreo’s are a vegan food?  Hmm… makes you wonder a little bit doesn’t it.  Most of us know there is nothing healthy about an Oreo cookie. Just because someone is vegan or vegetarian does not mean they are eating healthy. That is why everyone will benefit from a whole foods diet.  Limit or eliminate processed foods.  Try a balance of 80-20 or if you can 90-10 (the bigger number being whole foods and the lower number being processed).  That is a good goal for all who want to be eating healthy to work up to!

Tips to eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle:

1. Eat as many whole foods as you can, shoot for 80% of your meals being whole foods. The average person would benefit from a meal consisting of 40% Carbs (complex healthy carbs from vegetables and properly prepared grains) 30% protein and 30% fats.  We are all different so that ratio might vary from person to person.
2. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. That is where you will find your whole foods like your produce, proteins (meats, poultry, fish) and dairy.
3. When buying your proteins ALWAYS buy and look for words like:

  • Grass-fed
  • Organic
  • Uncured and nitrate free
  • Free range or pastured raised (pastured are the best eggs)
  • Wild caught fish
    *This will help you get the best quality proteins which will be the most nutrient dense.

4. When it comes to your fruits and vegetables always do your best to buy organic or locally to help out and support the farmers around your area.
5. Don’t sweat it, if you have to buy conventional produce from time to time, just make sure you wash your produce really well to get the waxes and chemicals off.  A good tip is to fill up your sink with cold water and add a cup of vinegar.  Add your veggies and let them soak in the cold vinegar bath for 5-10 minutes.  I do this will almost all my veggies (local, conventional and organic).
6. When buying nuts and seeds always look for the word “raw”. This tells you that they haven’t been heated or treated.
7. Be cautious of the word “Natural” especially if you see this on meats, eggs, poultry, pork and fish. I mean all of that is natural, but in the industry it means that the meat contains no artificial colors, it has been minimally processed and there should be no additional artificial ingredients.  What this label is not telling you is how this animal was raised, what it ate or the conditions this animal lived in. I stay away from most everything that say’s “Natural” and doesn’t back it up.
8. Eat FAT!  People these days are so scared of fat I could write a whole book on this subject alone. Our bodies scream for good fats, not only are they good for you, but having good fats in our diets is absolutely essential.  Here is a very quick list of why fats are essential for our bodies:

  • They are our key source of energy, which is a nice long steady energy burn, unlike sugar which is a quick source (which craves you to want more). Fat burns slow which helps us to have more energy for a longer period of time.
  • Good fats are in every single cell in our bodies and they play a crucial role in our elimination of toxins and healthy fats are responsible for healthy liver function.
  • Fats are essential for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K. Which means if we are taking and or eating foods with these vitamins they are absorbed into our body better if we are eating good quality fats.
  • Fats are also wonderful at managing the inflammation in our bodies.

9. Which fats do I eat then?

  • Fats to avoid at all costs are: Hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats, highly processed vegetable oils like :  Canola, vegetable oils, margarines and those fake butters like Promise and Can’t believe it’s Not Butter. These fats are toxic and interfere with the roles healthy fats play within our bodies.
  • Instead good fats to add to your diet are organic, cold pressed and unrefined.  Which means the oils haven’t been heated to kill the nutrients.  These include: Coconut oil, Olive oil, raw butter, Grass-fed butters, ghee or clarified butter, fats from pastured animals like lard and tallow, hazelnut, sesame, flaxseed oil, fish oil, hemp and sunflower oils are all good.

10. Limit your sugar!  This is a huge topic and could be talked about alone. I’ll try to shorten it up a bit. Did you know in the year 1810 the average person consumed around 10 pounds of sugar a year.   In the year 2005 the average person consumed an average of 199 pounds of sugar a year.  Go ahead, read that last sentence again….  I was blown away too.  That’s pretty sad isn’t it?  And people wonder why there is so much sickness. Sugar is everywhere and it has many sneaky names too.  Make sure you read your labels and watch out for all these words: Brown sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, white sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, corn sugar, date sugar, maple sugar, coconut sugar, turbinado sugar. Hidden Names for Sugar: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, disaccharides, molasses, succanat, polysaccharides, sucrose, fructose, invert sugar, dextrose, sucrose, glucose, lactose, sorbitol, mannitol, honey, malt, malt extract, maltose, maltodextrin, rice extract. If you read the label and one of these is listed in the 1st 3 ingredients then you can guarantee it will be a high sugar product.

11. Fake sugars to avoid:

  • Aspartame aka Nutrasweet, Equal and this one is found in sodas, energy drinks, gum and many yogurts. Aspartame is one of the most studied artificial sweeteners, and has been accused of causing everything from weight gain to cancer.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup found in virtually everything from ice cream to spaghetti sauces.  It is highly processed from corn which will mostly likely contain GMO’s.  HFCS should be avoided like the plague.
  • Sucralose aka Splenda found in fruit drinks, canned fruit, etc.
  • Agave Nectar has more fructose than table sugar which, which means it’s less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar, but it is more likely to reduce your metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

There is so much to say about eating healthy, so much controversy, but in the end if you just stick to these couple things you can ensure you are doing right for your body.  So to end just remember these few things: shop the perimeter of the store for your whole nutrient dense foods and read your labels.

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