I can’t lie – it can be tough living a healthy lifestyle. It can be downright confusing, even frustrating at times. Everyday there is something new to learn, something that you shouldn’t be eating, or should be eating, or something you once thought you should be eating, but shouldn’t anymore. It never ends. Bottom line is that unhealthy foods (sugar, processed foods, chemicals, additives etc.) are the reason why people are sicker and even fatter than ever before. How do you know what’s really good for you and what’s just junk food disguising itself as healthy? Check out some of these so-called health food products that may have had you fooled.
5 ‘Health Food’ Products to Avoid
It should really be called, “Sugarwater”. The first two ingredients in Vitaminwater are actually sugar and water. Go figure. The sugar they use in Vitaminwater is called crystalline fructose, a processed sweetener that has been linked to health problems. The sugar content of this drink is seriously disturbing. If you drink a bottle of Vitaminwater, you are actually ingesting 33 grams of sugar – that’s a little over 8 teaspoons in one serving (remember every 4g of sugar is equal to 1 tsp)! The “vitamins” in Vitaminwater, are not really vitamins. They are synthetic, meaning they are made by man. They are not the same vitamins our body can utilize as if we were getting the vitamins from our food. For much healthier options check out these recipes:
2. FroYo (Frozen Yogurt Shops)
Please don’t do it, don’t give into the hype! Frozen yogurt is a highly processed product.
I know, so sad, I can actually hear hearts breaking right now. These cute little frozen yogurt shops that keep popping up everywhere you turn…but don’t be fooled. Just because it’s “yogurt” does not mean it’s healthy. So, even though these little shops are fun and cute they are still serving highly processed dairy products with harmful additives like these:
- Guar gum
- Sodium citrate
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Cellulose gum
- Disodium phosphate
- Red Dye 40
Eek!!! That’s just to name a few! These are actually the ingredients I saw at our local FroYo shop.
What do you do instead? Instead get yourself some good plain Greek yogurt (Greek works best because it’s nice and thick) and instead of being sweetened with chemicals you can sweeten with maple syrup, raw honey or Stevia. And if you feel you’re missing out on the fun topping assortments they have at those shops, make your own little assortment using chopped nuts (pecans are my favorite), seeds (pumpkin, flax, sunflower), dark chocolate, granola, dried and or fresh fruits.
3. Reduced Fat Peanut Butter
Regular and reduced-fat peanut butter contain about the same amount of calories, but the reduced-fat variety has more added sugar, and that is because they took out some of the fat, so they needed to replace it with something. Don’t be scared of fat. Every cell in our body depends on fat, good fats that is, and peanut butter is a natural source of this healthy fat “monounsaturated”.
Instead look for an organic peanut butter and if you want to sweeten it, stir in a bit of honey or maple syrup.
4. Energy Bars
Convenience does come at a cost. Most commercial energy bars are nothing more than candy bars with a few nutrients thrown in (which are most likely synthetic) and contain ingredients are bad for you like soy protein, gluten, chemicals, preservatives and other nasty hard-to-pronounce fillers.
There is good news here. There are a few good energy/protein bars that I have seen. You just have to read your labels, the fewer ingredients the better. Another good alternative to these energy bars is to make your own.
5. Fooled by Fat Free
Often times we see these labels (Fat Free) and we automatically think that these products are healthier choices than the ones without that label. Trust me, I know, I’ve been there too. Unfortunately that’s not really the case. If you think about it, if all the fat is removed from something, a lot of the taste of the product will be removed along with it (because good fat just tastes yummy). So what do the big food giants do to compensate? They add other ingredients like sugars, flours, chemicals, fillers and salt. These ingredients add the flavor back in, while keeping the calorie count high.
Fat free may sound like a healthy choice, but the reality is that our bodies need fat. And it’s not so much the amount of fat you eat that’s important it’s really the type of fat. Remember, there are good fats, and bad fats! When it comes to your health you need to be consuming the good fats which are things like coconut oil, ghee, raw nuts, avocados, and pastured free-range eggs.
There are many more junk foods masquerading around looking like health foods, which other ones have you been fooled by?
With the cold air and breezy winds, our skin takes quite a beating during the cold dry winter months. Chapped skin and lips are no fun, so how do we keep our skin moisturized all winter long? I have a few organic body care recipes I like to keep on hand, especially during the winter when we need to take extra special care of our skin.
You will find that I use coconut oil in all these recipes. There is no doubt in my mind that coconut oil is best skin care product you can use. That being said, a small amount of people are allergic to coconut oil, and can show irritation. Its stability, antimicrobial properties, moisture retaining capacity makes it an ideal protective agent against dry skin and cracking of the skin. Pair this with vitamin-E and it will add to this property greatly.
3 DIY Organic Body Care Recipes
This is a great all body moisturizer from head to feet to help protect you from the cold dry months. I would recommend putting this on right when you get out of the shower, which will help it to absorb into your skin better.
- 1/4 cup shea butter (It has natural antibacterial properties and is great for preventing stretch marks, for wound healing, and as an anti-aging treatment for skin. It naturally has an SPF of about 5)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup jojoba oil (you could use olive oil or almond oil)
- 1/4 cup cocoa butter
- Optional: 10-20 drops of essential oil. Peppermint, lavender, chamomile, tea tree
- Few Drops of Vitamin E
Gently melt and stir over medium-low heat until the mixture is liquid. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to partially set up. I usually stick it in the fridge and check every 10 minutes. Once the mixture is partially set, add the essential oils of your choice, and whip with a hand mixer or mixer (until the body butter is fluffy and stiff peaks have formed.) Spoon into your favorite container. I like to use mason jars.
Chap stick/Lip Balm Recipe
Don’t throw away your old chap stick containers…clean them out and save them to make your own healthy, organic chopsticks. This recipe is so simple and quick. My kids love to personalize them with their own choice of essential oils.
- 4 tsp Organic Coconut oil
- 2 tsp beeswax (used as a natural thickening agent)
- Add in: 1-2 drops of essential oils, we like peppermint and chamomile
- 6-8 drops of vitamin E
You can do this over stove top in a small double boiler pan, or you can do this with a glass measuring cup. Just slowly melt coconut oil, add in beeswax stir until combine and melted. Take off heat… let cool and add in essential oils and vitamin E. Pour into containers. I like to stick them in the fridge until ready.
Face Cream Recipe
- Coconut Oil
For most people, pure coconut oil is all that is needed for moisturizing the face. It is naturally full of collagen supporting lauric acid and is easily absorbed by the skin. Even for oily and acne prone skin, coconut oil’s natural anti-bacterial properties make it a great option.
I always put a tiny scoop on right after I wash my face or shower. I like to keep a jar of it in my bathroom, so I don’t forget.
4 More Tips for Healthy Winter Skin
- Pass on hot showers. I know nothing sounds better than hoping into a nice hot shower when you come in from the cold, hot water dries out our skin and strips it of our natural oils. Instead try a luke warm shower and limit that too 5-10 minutes.
- Water. Water is naturally hydrating, so keep up on your water during the winter months as well. Aim for 8 glasses of water a day.
- Thermostat. When our home is too hot, it can make the air even drier. Keeping the thermostat at a comfortable temperature between 68-72 degrees F will help protect your skin.
- Change out of wet clothes. Wearing wet clothes and shoes can irritate your skin and cause, redness and itchiness. Make sure to remove wet gloves, socks, and pants as soon as possible.
If you don’t want to make your own products try these:
- Nourish – Organic Body Butter
- Andalou – Lavender Shea Hand Cream
- DeVita – Perfecting Time Moisturizer
- Dr. Bronner’s – Organic Lip Balm
What do you use to keep your skin protected from the winter cold?
Organic flaxseed has gained significant popularity among health-conscious Americans in recent years. However, despite the recent hype surrounding this little seed, a lot of people still have never heard of it. It may not exactly be a super food, but organic flaxseed certainly has many nutritional benefits. Although flax has been known to have been used thousands of years ago, even as far back as 1000BC because of its many health benefits, flax was until recently, relatively unknown.
Benefits of Organic Flaxseed:
1. Prevents Heart Disease
Omega 3 fatty acids are considered to be good fats and are important to our health, but they cannot be produced by our body. We must get them in from our foods. Because organic flaxseed is rich in omega 3, it can help to keep your heart healthy in a variety of ways, one way is that it helps fight inflammation in the body, which is a major cause of many diseases. Flaxseed also helps your heart health by naturally lowering your blood pressure. Having high blood pressure increases the chances of having a heart attack or congestive heart failure. The omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseed help reduce those risks.
2. Fiber Rich
Organic flaxseed is rich in fiber, both soluble and insoluble types. While soluble fiber helps to maintain proper gut and colon health, insoluble fiber plays a vital role in keeping the heart healthy by lowering LDL cholesterol levels. This property of flaxseed also aids in maintaining normal blood sugar levels for people suffering from blood sugar issues and diabetes.
3. Good Source of Protein
Organic flaxseed is a complete protein source, meaning that it contains every amino acid that your body can’t make on its own. It’s uncommon to find plant-based foods that are complete proteins, so flaxseed makes a great addition to vegetarian and vegan diets.
4. Boosts your Immune System
Organic flaxseed can help with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other immune disorders by building your immune system (which is mostly in our gut), healing you from the inside out, and preventing illness. Not only will you benefit from eating the nutrition your body is craving, but the flax lignans, omega 3, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals will help your body to heal and repair itself.
5. Aids in Weight Loss
Organic flaxseed forms an essential part of many diet programs, for those trying to lose weight, since it keeps blood sugar levels in check. Due to its richness in fiber, it keeps the stomach full and helps you to not over eat. Also the good fats in flax help keep you full for longer periods of time.
6. Helps to Fight and Prevent Cancers
Studies show that flaxseed may have a role in fighting cancer, particularly colon, prostate and breast cancer. The benefit is based on its high concentration of lignans, which are believed to inhibit the enzymes that promote tumor growth.
7. Boosts Brain Power
Your brain and body must have Omega 3 to function and survive, we must have fats. Omega 3 is one of those essential fats we need in order to prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia as well as helping with many mental disorders, depression, ADD + ADHD, difficulty sleeping, etc. Also, kids need Omega 3 so that their brains can develop properly. The only way for our body to get Omega 3 is through foods we eat, but much of the food we eat is cooked and processed; which does not contain any Omega 3 in it. Flaxseed is the perfect way to get more Omega 3 in our daily diet.
How to Get More Organic Flaxseed in Your Diet
Flaxseed has a light, nutty taste. Here are some ways to add it to the foods you already eat and enjoy:
- Sprinkle flaxseed on your cold cereal or hot oatmeal at breakfast.
- Add a teaspoon of ground flaxseed to the mustard or mayonnaise that you spread on your sandwich at lunch.
- Blend flaxseed into juice or smoothies.
- Sprinkle on salads or in soups.
- Mix a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into your yogurt.
Do you take flaxseed daily? How do you use it?
The jam-packed parking lots, the shopping and crowds, the back-to-back diet-busting parties. The interminable chats with the in-laws, and even finances take a toll. We understand how easy it is to feel not so wonderful at this most wonderful time of the year. That’s why I’ve rounded up some healthy organic foods that are perfect for beating those oh so common holiday blues.
First, What Does Stress do to the Body?
Stress is awful, it weakens your immune system, strains your heart, dampens your sex drive, creates aches and pains, and can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Your body can only work with what you feed it, so if you consume junk (processed foods), you’re going to feel junky in return. Filling and nourishing your body with the right organic foods can help keep your mood bright and the above stressors rolling off your back.
Foods That Add Stress to Body
So which foods should we avoid? The following foods increase stress and anxiety by either stimulating the brain the wrong way or putting the body under stress during the digestion process. Foods to avoid include:
- Coffee, energy drinks, sodas, and other caffeinated drinks
- Refined sugars
- Fried foods
- Foods high in polyunsaturated fats found in processed foods
Now that you know what to avoid, let’s get down to what foods will help you bust the stress.
Stress Busting Organic Foods
- Asparagus, yes I know, these skinny little stalks are known to make your urine smell funny. But they are high in folate, which is essential for keeping your cool.
- Turkey - here’s the reason you feel so relaxed after eating turkey. The acid known as L-tryptophan is releasing serotonin, a chemical that calms your brain. The best turkey to buy is pasture raised turkeys.
- Blueberries have some of the highest levels of an antioxidants and they’ve been linked to all kinds of positive health outcomes, including sharper cognition. But all berries, including strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are super rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in alleviating stress.
- Dark Green Leafy Vegetables Greens carry lots of B vitamins, including folate, like asparagus, which is important for easing symptoms of depression, relieving stress, and reducing anxiety. Good choices are kale, spinach, arugula, and Swiss chard.
- Cashews are an especially good source of zinc. Just 1-ounce serving has 11 percent of your daily allowance. Low levels of zinc have been linked to both anxiety and depression. Since our bodies have no way of storing zinc, it’s important to get some every day.
- Honey - You’ll get an instant kick and energy for the long haul. Plus, research shows that its antioxidant and antibacterial properties may improve your immunity.
- Chamomile tea – Probably the most recommend bedtime soothers around, but in addition to helping sleep it also helps calm the nerves.
- Fatty Fish like salmon, herring, and tuna, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B6 and B12. These essential nutrients promote healthy brain function and elevate your mood—two important aspects of fighting stress.
- Almonds & Sunflower Seeds – These easy-to-find crunchy snacks cut stress like a sharp knife. They contain riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and other important vitamins and minerals. Snacking on seeds and nuts throughout the day can prevent stress from building up. To maximize nutrition benefits, opt for raw varieties over salted and roasted.
- Pumpkin Seeds contain L-tryptophan, which helps with good sleep, lowering depression and combating stress. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin (the feel good hormone) and niacin. Serotonin is also very helpful in helping us to have a good night’s sleep.
- Dark Chocolate, in particular, is known to lower blood pressure, adding to a feeling of calm. It contains more polyphenols and flavonols—two important types of antioxidants. You can safely allow yourself dark chocolate as a snack once a week, or as a conscious indulgence.
I hope you can incorporate some of these stress boosting organic foods into your diet and even your holiday meals to help you calm those holiday blues!
What are your favorite ways to relieve stress during the holidays?
One of the biggest complaints during winter season is having dry, chapped, itchy, and or sensitive skin. The reason is because in winter, there is cold, dry air and very little humidity. If we are not properly hydrated we lose moisture in our skin which leaves our skin feeling and looking less desirable. Before you decide to relocate to a warmer, more humid climate, take these steps to seal in the moisture and repair your winter skin.
Natural Body Care Tips for Keeping Your Skin Hydrated
The first and most important natural body care tip for hydrated skin is water. Water is the most common nutritional deficiency in America. We just don’t drink enough water here. Did you know water cannot be stored, it’s being continually distributed and regulated throughout our body. This nakes daily water intake essential for a healthy body and healthy skin. The rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day (Ex: A person weighing 160 pounds should drink 80 ounces of water each day). If you are one of those people who have a hard time drinking water visit my fruits and herb flavored water recipes and combinations post for tasty, easy ways to drink water.
Rethink Processed Foods
The second natural body care tip for hydrated skin may surprise you – its not about what you’re putting in or on you’re body, its what NOT to! Foods with refined (overly processed) sugars dehydrate your skin, making it dry and less clear. Combined with the winter elements, loading up on these foods (which are usually high in trans fats, MSG, etc.) will leave you feeling blue this winter season. Though I would love to tell you to cut processed foods out completely (we all get cravings now and then), try to limit your processed foods in your home and replace them with more nutritious, whole food options.
You might not like this natural body care tip but it does help a great deal. Even though there is nothing better than taking a long, hot, relaxing bath on a cold winter day, it doesn’t do any favors for our skin. Long hot baths and showers have a drying effect on our skin. To help limit that you can add some bath salts or even sea salt to your bath water and taking shorter and cooler showers. Also applying moisturizer to the skin (coconut oil is my top choice) within 3 minutes of stepping out of the shower or bath will help keep skin hydrated. Avoid using soaps and deodorants with fragrance, or alcohol because they can strip your skin of its natural oils.
Vitamins for Skin
In order for your skin to look great, it has to be healthy. Vitamin B helps to restore collagen (a protein that keeps it firm) in the skin, which is especially important as you age. So load up on Vitamin B rich foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds and protein (bone broth is excellent source of collagen) to keep your skin looking healthy and hydrated! Vitamin E (most abundant nutrient found in the skin) also helps with the formation of collagen, and therefore can reduce wrinkles, scaring and increase hydration. Fish, nuts, avocados, olive oil, and spinach are excellent sources of vitamin E.
Fruit, especially water-dense tropical fruit, is a great way to hydrate and protect your skin. Most fruit contains high levels of vitamins A and C, powerful antioxidant that replenishes nutrients in skin, promote collagen production, and help keep your skin supple and firm. Oranges, raspberries, cantaloupe, mangoes, pineapple, strawberries blueberries, watermelon, and grapefruits all contain skin-boosters, and are a tasty treat too.
Natural & Organic Moisturizers
When your skin needs a little extra in those cold, dry months and you reach for a body lotion, make sure you’re using ones with all natural and organic ingredients. Some conventional lotions contain ingredients that actually dry out your skin. Some of the better brands to look for are EO’s Everyone Lotion, Andalou Naturals, and Nourish.
I hope these natural body care tips help you to keep your skin hydrated and healthy all winter long. What are your favorite tips and tricks to keep your skin hydrated?
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!
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:
- 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.
- Tortilla chips and salsa
- Chicken wings – try these healthier versions here.
- Veggie platter with ranch dip.
- Fruit platter (or make it fun with fruit skewers)
- Potato chips! Jackson’s Honest is my favorite potato chip to indulge on!
- Organic roasted pistachio nuts
- Trail mix
- Organic popcorn popped in coconut oil, sprinkle it with some nutritional yeast for some added B vitamins.
- Kale Chips
- Guacamole dip: this recipe looks fantastic!
- Almond Joy Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- Deviled Eggs: Recipe here.
- Nachos (if you follow the 3 tips above you will be good, just load them with as much veggies as possible)
- Beef Jerky
- Pretzels or this recipe for a grain free option
- Rice Cakes (be good topped with smoked salmon )
- Chili with toppings (cheese, chopped onion, sour cream, salsa)
- Crispy Chicken Dippers
- Pizza – again with following the 3 tips! Or try this “pizza” recipe for something out of the box. My family loves it!
- Sweet Potato Chips
- Bacon Chicken Bites
- Organic Granola
- Prosciutto Wrapped Melon
- 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!
With school back in full swing, for many of us that means our days just got busier. With kids in sports, after 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.
- 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
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.
- 1 organic whole chicken (my crock-pot holds a 5-6lb bird)
- 2 onions, sliced
- Crock pot
- Spices if desired.
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!
- 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
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:
- Paleo Tacos
- Sweetpea Broccoli and Organic Cheddar Frittata
- Organic Pesto Chicken Pizza
- Butternut Squash Soup
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!
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 (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?
There are two ways to dye Easter eggs naturally; either boil raw eggs in the naturally colored water, or soak hard boiled eggs in the colored water overnight. The first way is faster if you’re only using one or two colors but if you want to use a lot of different colors, its easier to make the colored soaking water and use smaller bowls to soak the hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator overnight.
To make the natural dyes, choose a natural ingredient from the list below. The quantity that you use will determine how dark the color is. Add distilled water and either cream of tartar or white vinegar to a non-aluminum pot. Use 1 TBSP cream of tartar or vinegar per cup of water. If you’re using raw eggs, boil them in the colored water like you normally would to cook hard boiled eggs. You can then either remove the eggs or if you want them darker you can continue to soak them in the refrigerator.
If you’re using hard boiled eggs, you can make batches of different colors, then use smaller bowls to soak the eggs overnight in the refrigerator. If the eggs don’t come out as dark as you want the first time, you can make a darker colored soak water and let the eggs soak a second time.
Natural dyes are made with just a handful of ingredients. You’ll need water, the natural material for coloring, and a mordant to help the colors penetrate the eggshell. The mordant can be cream of tartar or white vinegar.
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs Instructions:
- Place the eggs in a single layer in a pan. Add water until the eggs are covered.
- Add vinegar or cream of tartar.
- Add the natural dye materials. Use more dye material for more eggs or for a more intense color.
- Bring water to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- If you are happy with the color, remove the eggs from the liquid.
- For more intensely colored eggs, remove the eggs from the liquid. Strain the dye through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Cover the eggs with the filtered dye and let them soak in the refrigerator overnight.
Here’s a list of some herbs and spices you can use and the colors they yield:
Hibiscus flowers – Reddish blue/lavender
Turmeric root powder – Deep gold
Curry powder – Pale orange
Chili powder – Reddish brown
Paprika – Orange
Dill seed – Golden brown
Beet Juice – Pink
Coffee – Brown
Cranberry Juice – Pink
Red Cabbage Leaves – Blue
Onion Skins – Red or Yellow depending on the type of onion
Orange Peels – Pale Orange
Grape Juice – Lavender
Spinach Leaves – Green
Pomegranate Juice – Red
Find many of these natural dye materials HERE.
What are your favorite Easter traditions? Share with us in the comments below.
In this five part series for Non-GMO Month, we’ll take a look at common food items that likely contain GMO’s and we’ll be offering non-GMO alternatives. Avoiding GMO’s is quite easy once you know what to look for so we’ll be sharing with you some tips on how to keep your diet GMO free.
Most of us fall back on convenience foods once in a while to feed ourselves and our families when we’re just too busy to make a home cooked meal. In a quest to make sure we’re feeding our families wholesome, nutritious foods, you’ll want to make sure you’re avoiding GMO’s in these processed convenience foods. Make sure you’re feeding yourself and your family non-gmo meals by using the guidelines below. Avoiding GMO’s is easy once you know the secrets.
4 Tips for Avoiding GMO’s in Convenience Foods
1 – The easiest way to make sure you are avoiding GMO’s is to buy organic. This goes for convenience foods and any foods that you’re buying. Any product that has the USDA Organic logo on it is by definition non-GMO.
2 – Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified label on packages. Even if a product isn’t certified organic, it can be non-gmo. To be certain, look for this third party verification.
3 – When you’re buying packaged breakfast foods, avoid risky ingredients. Most supermarket convenience foods contain corn, soy and canola – ingredients that are very likely to be genetically modified. Some ingredients will be obvious, like corn flour, corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup, soy flour, soy lecithin, soy protein isolate, soy isoflavone, canola oil, cottonseed oil. Some ingredients are sneaky in that they don’t list what their made from. These sneaky ingredients can be GMO if the product isn’t organic: amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin c, citric acid, sodium citrate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrin, molasses, sucrose, textured vegetable protein (tvp), xanthan gum, vitamins, and yeast. Its a pretty sure bet that conventional supermarket convenience foods contain GMO’s so you may want to read the labels just to see, but I would avoid them at all cost.
4 – Re-define ‘convenience’. I know, its so easy to tear open a frozen dinner, throw it in the microwave and call it a meal, but in the long run your health and your wallet will be better served by preparing some foods ahead of time so that when you really need something quick and convenient you can pull fresh alternatives out of your freezer. It’s a great idea to cook in bulk – make a huge batch of organic rice then freeze individual or family sized portions. Do the same with cooked beans, cooked veggies and fruits. You’ll be easily avoiding GMO’s by preparing your own food at home with simple one-ingredient foods. Then, on one of those nights when you just don’t have the time to cook from scratch, you can just re-heat a meal you’ve already prepared and viola! GMO-free dinner!
Avoiding GMO ingredients is easy when you know you have organic alternatives. The chart above gives you great suggestions for replacements. For just about any convenience food you can think of, there’s an organic or non-gmo version, you just have to know what to look for!
Are there any convenience foods you just love but don’t know how to find a non-gmo version of? Let us know and we’ll direct you to it!