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Organic World

Top Ten Foods In My Plant Based Pantry

Plant-Based-PantryIt can be intimidating to stock a kitchen for plant based living, especially if you don’t have a lot of cooking experience or a health coach guiding you. One of my number one tip as a plant based living educator is this: set yourself up for success. If you have a well-stocked pantry, you can be prepared to make all kinds of amazing plant based meals – with just the addition of fresh produce – without a lot of fuss! Read on for my top ten must-have vegan pantry items.

 10 Must-have foods in my plant based pantry:

  1. Beans: Inexpensive, filling, and versatile, beans are a staple in my kitchen. I keep both dried and canned organic beans on hand, and I often cook a batch in the slow cooker on Sunday for use in various dishes throughout the week. My favorites are black beans, green split peas, and pinto beans.
  2. Lentils: Did you know that lentils are “pulses,” the edible seeds of legumes? They are good sources of fiber and protein and also contain high amounts of calcium and vitamins A and B. The most common varieties are brown, green, yellow, and red lentils. The yellow and red ones break down a lot during cooking, while the brown and green ones hold their shape. Make your choice based on your desired outcome, in terms of texture! I use the red ones for my Red Lentil Dal.
  3. Jarred or canned tomatoes: Tomatoes are an excellent base for a variety of soups, stews, and sauces. I keep a variety of them on hand, both canned and jarred tomatoes . Diced tomatoes, spiced or not, are preferred for some recipes, while whole or stewed tomatoes may be better for others. I also keep sun-dried tomatoes on hand for some recipes, as they have a depth of flavor and a richness you don’t get from regular tomatoes.
  4. Whole grains: Whole grains contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions. When processed, meaning cracked, crushed, rolled, or cooked, the grains deliver the same rich balance of nutrients found in the original grain seeds. Brown rice and quinoa are my go-to grains. They are great on their own or with a little sauce/dressing, and they can be incorporated into tons of dishes, like soups, stews, vegetable stuffing, and cold salads.
  5. Nuts: Nuts are versatile in the kitchen and contain healthy fats. Cashews are probably the nut I use most often. With just two base ingredients – raw cashews and water – and whatever spices or flavoring you prefer, you can make cashew cream cheese (enjoy plain or add your preferred flavors – I add walnuts and agave nectar), cashew sour cream (add lemon juice and garlic powder), cashew creamer, and cashew milk. For the creamer and milk, I usually add a little agave nectar and a little vanilla.
  6. Seeds: My favorites are flax, chia, and sunflower. I use the first two in smoothies and breakfast dishes, and I use sunflower seeds in a variety of ways! My favorite way is to soak them and make a white sauce for pasta that is absolutely divine. You can also put them on salads, roast them with spices as a snack, or incorporate them in a stuffing – the possibilities are endless!
  7. Plant-based milks: You can find plant-based milks in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, but I prefer the aseptic (shelf-stable) packaged milks. They aren’t as perishable, of course, and they come in smaller containers! My personal favorite is hemp milk, as it tastes good and hemp is a nutritional powerhouse – packed with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  8. Nutritional yeast: Affectionately known as “nooch” in the veg community, this is a deactivated yeast in powder or flake form that is sold commercially as a food product. It contains folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein, and it is often fortified with vitamin B12. It has a nutty, “cheesy” flavor, so it’s an excellent substitute for dairy cheese in many recipes. I like nutritional yeast best on organic popcorn and as a pasta topping in place of parmesan.
  9. Tahini: It’s hard for me to imagine that just a few short years ago, I had never heard of tahini. Now, it’s one of my go-to ingredients for salad dressings and sauces! It’s simply ground sesame seed paste, and it is commonly used in North African, Greek, Iranian, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is remarkably versatile, and it packs a ton of flavor. It’s usually my dressing base instead of oil – this Tahini Lime Dressing is my absolute favorite!
  10. Agave nectar or maple syrup: I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but a lot of savory recipes need just a touch of sweetness. Agave nectar and maple syrup are my preferred sweeteners. I use one of the two in my plant-based milks when I make them from scratch. I also use one or the other in veggie chili, in some salad dressings, and in a lot of the soups and stews I enjoy.

If you stock your pantry with these staple ingredients, an easy, plant based meal is at your fingertips every day. Just add fresh produce, and the variety of dishes you can make is limited only by your imagination. Bon appetit!

7 Tips On Using Your Garden’s Abundance of Organic Tomatoes

My garden, at this very moment, is overflowing with organic tomatoes and its right about this time of year that I wonder how on earth I’m going to use them organic tomatoesall so that nothing goes to waste!

I love eating my Cherry and Pear tomatoes in salads and my Black Krims on sandwiches but sometimes there’s just too much to use at once and I have to break out my tricks.  Here are some of my best tips on using up all of your garden’s abundance.

7 Tips On Using Organic Tomatoes

1 – Dehydrate

Its easy to make ‘sun dried’ tomatoes in a food dehydrator.  They can be used as is once they’re dehydrated or rehydrated to add a richness to soups and sauces.  All I do is slice them in half, sprinkle a little bit of salt on them and pop them in the dehydrator.  It can take about two days of dehydrating depending on how big your tomatoes are so keep checking to see if they’re dry and once they are, store them in an airtight container. *bonus tip: I like to use a smoked salt when dehydrating cherry, grape or pear tomatoes.  Sprinkled on salads, they taste a little like bacon bits!

2 – Salsa

You can use just about any type of tomato for a salsa and it stores well in the fridge for nighttime and weekend snacking.  Click HERE for some awesome summer salsa recipes.

3 – Spaghetti Sauce

I recently had an abundance of Roma tomatoes so I decided to make homemade spaghetti sauce and it was so good I could barely believe it.  Its so simple yet so delicious.  First you’ll need to blanch your tomatoes: boil a big pot of water and fill your sink with ice water.  One by one, score the bottom of the tomato with an x and place it gently in the boiling water.  As you see the skin peel back, remove the tomatoes and place them in the ice water bath.  The skins will come right off.  Set aside your blanched and peeled tomatoes for a moment.  In a large pot, saute garlic and onion until translucent, then quarter your tomatoes and add them to the pot. Season with salt, pepper and any Italian seasonings that you like.  I like to add a bit of dried fennel and bit of crushed red pepper for a sausage-y taste.  Let this cook down for 45 minutes to an hour.  Once it is at the thickness you like, taste and adjust seasonings then either use right away or freeze for later use.

4 – Flavored Butter

This recipe for Tomato Basil Garlic Butter looks amazing and can be stored in your freezer for use all year long.

5 – Juice it

If you have a juicer or a blender you can enjoy the refreshing flavor of tomato juice.  Add a few other veggies like celery and red onion to kick up the flavor or you can add some seasonings and turn it into Bloody Mary Mix.

6 – Tomato Paste

If you really have more tomatoes than you could ever know what to do with, tomato paste is the way to go.  In the winter months I find myself buying a lot of organic tomato paste, but making use of the summer’s abundance allows me to enjoy the freshness of the season all year long.  Just use the same instructions for making spaghetti sauce, omitting the herbs and spices, and cook for another 2 1/2 hours or so until the sauce is a very thick consistency.  At this point you can freeze or can the tomato paste for use later in the year.

7 – Fried Green Tomatoes

Often at the end of the season as it is cooling down, I’m left with a whole lot of green tomatoes that I know aren’t going to ripen.  That’s fried green tomato season for me!  You don’t have to be Southern to enjoy them – and they’re not very hard to make.  Slice your green tomatoes in 1/2 inch thick slices.  In a shallow bowl make an egg bath with a beaten egg and a little milk (or buttermilk).  In another shallow bowl, add your breading.  You can use breadcrumbs, cornmeal, or a mixture of both.  Heat safflower or sunflower oil in a pan to about 375 degrees.  Dip each tomato slice in the egg bath then the batter, then fry until crisp and golden.  Transfer to a plate lined with a few paper towels to absorb the oil and enjoy!

Of course if you don’t have a garden or aren’t the happy recipient of a nearby gardener’s overabundance, you can always get that fresh flavor of organic tomatoes in a jar.

How do you like to use your garden’s abundance of organic tomatoes?

 

7 Health Benefits Of Black Pepper That May Surprise You!

black pepperIt’s likely that you will find black pepper on nearly every kitchen table and restaurant table in America. As popular as it is, not many people recognize the healing potential of this ever-present spice.  Black pepper is the fruit of the black pepper plant from the Piperaceae family and has been used for centuries used as both a spice and a medicine.

It is the chemical piperine, present in black pepper, which causes the spiciness. Piperine is being studied for its physiological effects, which appear to be wide and varied.1   Nutritionally, one tablespoon of ground black pepper contains 13% of the daily value for vitamin K, 10% for Iron, 18% for manganese as well as trace amounts of other essential nutrients, protein and fiber.

Let’s look at some of the health benefits that you might not realize when you’re dusting your meals with salt and pepper!

7 Health Benefits of Black Pepper

1 – Weight Loss

The outer layer of peppercorn assists in the breakdown of fat cells. This makes adding pepper to foods a good way to help you lose weight naturally.

2 – Skin Treatment

According to researchers in London, the piperine content of pepper can stimulate the skin to produce pigment.  This has lead to treatments for Vitiligo, a skin disease in which some areas of skin lose its typical pigmentation and turn white. Topical treatment of piperine combined with ultra violet light therapy has been used with success.2

3 – Digestive Aid

Black Pepper facilitates digestion by increasing the hydrochloric acid secretion in the stomach.  It also helps to prevent the formation of intestinal gas.  Black Pepper is considered a carminative, a substance that forces gas out of the body in a healthy, downward motion, rather than pressing upward and creating uncomfortable pressure.

4 – Cough & Cold Relief

Black pepper is a natural expectorant that helps break up mucus and phlegm in the respiratory tract.  Ayurvedic preparations for respiratory ailments often include black pepper. It is also beneficial for sinusitis and nasal congestion.

5 – Healthy Arteries

Eating black pepper helps to keep your arteries clean.  In much the same way that fiber helps to reduce atherosclerosis, black pepper helps assist the body in scraping excess cholesterol from artery walls, thus reducing the chance for heart attack and stroke.

6 – Antioxidant Benefits

The antioxidants in black pepper neutralize free radicals and protect your body from many conditions.  Free radicals are the byproducts of regular cellular function that attack healthy cells and cause their DNA to mutate into cancerous cells.  By eating foods high in antioxidants you can even avoid premature aging symptoms like wrinkles, age spots, macular degeneration, and memory loss.

7 – Enhances Bioavailability of Other Nutrients

Black pepper helps in transporting the benefits of other herbs to different parts of body, maximizing the efficiency of the other health foods that we consume. That is why adding it to foods not only makes them taste delicious, but also helps make those nutrients more available and accessible to our system.  This is especially true when black pepper and turmeric are eaten together.  The black pepper enhances the bioavailability of turmeric by up to 2000%.

Preparation and storage tips:
Grinding pepper at home is better than buying pre-ground black pepper.  Even home-ground pepper retains its freshness for only 3 months, while whole peppercorns can keep their freshness indefinitely.  Handheld pepper mills or grinders are helpful; you can also use a mortar and pestle to grind black pepper at home. Black pepper also loses flavor and aroma through evaporation, so airtight storage helps preserve its spiciness and healing properties longer.

Adding a pinch of black pepper to every meal helps to improve both taste and digestion. It also improves your overall health and well being.

How do you like to use black pepper at your house?

Organic Snacks for Kids: The Grab & Go Edition

organic snacks“Mom, I’m hungry, can I have a snack?” That might sound like an all too familiar phrase. I know for me it’s much more common in the summer time, when kids are out of school and constantly rummaging through your cupboards. I’ve found that a little preparation goes a long way in keeping healthy organic snacks within the reach of their little hands. When you are living a healthy lifestyle, eating healthy foods will take some prep-time and that’s okay. Our health and our children’s health is worth the little extra time love and effort! And once you get the hang of it, prep-time is a breeze.

I have many options for you for healthy organic snacks that you will feel good about giving your children.

Tips on Making Organic Snacks for Kids:

  • Buy a variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. They are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, fats and protein, which all kids need for their systems to function correctly.
  • When you get home from grocery shopping, rinse and wash all your produce. This will save a little extra time when you go to use them.
  • Pre-cut your vegetables (carrots, celery, bell peppers), store then in an easy to grab container, and place it in the refrigerator where it is easy to grab.
  • Don’t buy JUNK. If you have junk in your house, your kids will search for it. If you don’t buy junk, they can’t eat junk (well at least at home).
  • Going on a trip, hike, or just going out for the day? Pre-package your snacks the night before. Use little snack size bags or containers.

27 Easy Grab & Go Ideas for Organic Snacks

  1. Celery (some options: celery with nut butter, coconut butter with raisins or another chopped dried fruit or nut)
  2. Olives (drained)
  3. Sliced bell peppers
  4. Carrot sticks (I like using rainbow carrots – purple carrots are especially delicious)
  5. Jicama sticks
  6. Strawberries (any berry that has been rinsed and dried)
  7. Ready to go organic fruits (apples, oranges, pears, grapes)
  8. Kale chips (store bought or make your own: cut the stems out of several kale leaves, sprinkle with avocado oil, sea salt, garlic powder and pepper, and bake at 275 degrees for 40 minutes, turning them halfway through)
  9. Dark Chocolate – Make sure it’s over 70% cacao (will be high in antioxidants and less sugar)
  10. Plantain Chips – One of my kids’ favorites. They taste like potato chips.
  11. Applesauce cups
  12. Pre-made muffins
  13. Granola
  14. Crackers and cheese
  15. Tuna
  16. Jerky
  17. Granola and protein bars
  18. Raw nuts (good source of protein and fat)
  19. Trail Mix
  20. Hard boiled eggs
  21. Homemade fruit popsicles
  22. Dried fruit
  23. Seaweed snacks
  24. Chia fruit squeeze packs (great source of omega-3’s)
  25. Fruit leathers
  26. Bacon (sounds funny, but premade bacon slices, nitrate free of course, are one of my kids favorite snacks)
  27. Stuffed dates (stuff with a brazil nut or other nuts and a couple of organic chocolate chips)

It also helps to have a small container of their favorite dip (guacamole, salsa, nut butter, etc.) for dipping fruits and veggies, handy as well.

Snacking can be made easy. It may take a little effort and prep, but it will be worth it. Another awesome option for some great ready to go snacks is the Greater Goodie Snack Box.  Meant for kids and adults alike, keeping a go-to box of healthy organic snacks within reach of your kids will keep them on the right track.  A perfect choice for families that are on the go, these goodie boxes come in three sizes, all with great choices!

What are your kid’s favorite organic snacks?

Eat These Organic Foods to Fight Arthritis

organic foodsBy the year 2030, an estimated 67 million (25% of the projected total adult population) adults aged 18 years and older will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, but did you know there are two types of arthritis? The most common type of arthritis is Osteoarthritis, a degenerative arthritis (wear and tear of the cartilage) usually associated with poor nutrition and aging. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. That means that the immune system attacks parts of the body. The joints are the main areas affected by this malfunction in the immune system. Over time it can lead to chronic inflammation and joint damage. A lot of doctors just treat arthritis symptomatically, meaning they will give you medication to help with the pain. However, there is growing research that just making dietary changes, like adding these organic foods to your diet, can go a long way with both types of arthritis.

6 Organic Foods to Help Fight Arthritis

1. Turmeric

Turmeric has a high antioxidant value and helps to boost the immune system. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and is popular among those with arthritis and joint problems.

2. Vitamin C Rich Foods

One important function of vitamin C is in the formation and maintenance of collagen, the basis of connective tissue, which is found in the skin, ligaments, cartilage and joint linings, bones and teeth. Vitamin C rich foods include organic:

  • oranges
  • lemons
  • grapefruits
  • limes
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • dark leafy greens
  • cabbage
  • asparagus

3. Fish/Omega-3’s

Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating more cold water fish, olive oil, walnuts or freshly ground flaxseeds. You may also want to consider taking a fish oil supplement to help keep your protein intake low.

4. Ginger

Ginger is another great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it’s said to be a superior anti-pain remedy, beating out over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol and Advil.

5. Berries

Berries including blackberries, raspberries, strawberries have anthocyanin’s which are a potent antioxidant responsible for the reddish pigment in foods, which may help reduce inflammation.

6. Blackstrap Molasses

High in valuable minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, blackstrap molasses has been a cherished home remedy for arthritis for a number of years. As a dietary supplement (easily consumed as a drink), blackstrap can help relieve symptoms of arthritis and joint pain, thanks to its vital constituents that regulate nerve and muscle function, and strengthens the bones. 1-2 tablespoons a day straight or mixed with warm water.

Though there isn’t an official Arthritis Diet (I don’t think), the following could benefit those with arthritis greatly:

  • Avoid processed and fried foods, both of which promote inflammation.
  • Decrease the amount of sugar you intake each day. The less sugar you eat, the less inflammation, and the stronger the immune system to defend us against infectious and degenerative diseases.
  • Avoid dairy products. Dairy has a known protein called Casein which may irritate the tissue around the joints.
  • Refrain from tobacco and alcohol use, which can lead to a number of health problems, including some that may affect your joints. Smokers are more at risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis, while those who consume alcohol have a higher risk for developing gout.
  • Drink your water. Water does more than hydrate you, it also helps lubricate our joints.
  • Limit or eliminate nightshades from diet. They are known to contribute to pain, inflammation and arthritis. Nightshades include: tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant.

Have you found anything to help alleviate arthritis pain? If so tell us what worked for you?

References:

21 Outrageous Organic Recipes: Veggie Burgers

organic recipes veggie burgers

Store bought veggie burgers are an easy ‘go-to’ meatless meal when you’re in a hurry and want to put something warm and comforting on the dinner table, but making your own at home is quick and easy. You’ll also be using cleaner, fresher ingredients with these organic recipes. And in the end you’ll save some money too!

You can prepare any of these organic recipes ahead of time and freeze them for later use, making them super-convenient.  Just lay the patties (raw or cooked) in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for about 60-90 minutes. Once they’re frozen you can stack the patties with parchment paper in between each patty and freeze in a ziploc bag for later use.  Uncooked patties should be defrosted in the refrigerator before cooking.

I’ve gathered a collection of my favorite organic recipes for veggie burgers from some of the best food bloggers and compiled them in the list below.

21 Outrageous Organic Recipes: Veggie Burgers

  1. Vegan Beet Burger from Eat With Your Eyes Closed
  2. Moroccan Yam Veggie Burgers from Oh She Glows
  3. Spicy Curry Chickpea Burgers from Calm Mind Busy Body
  4. Thai Quinoa Burgers from One Green Planet
  5. Spiced Green Pea Veggie Burger from Organic Authority
  6. Olive Lentil Burgers from Post Punk Kitchen
  7. Hijiki Tofu Burgers from Vegangela
  8. Lentil Walnut-Apple Burgers from Plant Powered Kitchen
  9. Black Bean Sweet Potato Tempeh Burgers from The Kind Life
  10. Red Lentil Cauliflower Burger from Vegan Richa
  11. Raw Vegan Spinach Burgers from Choosing Raw
  12. BBQ Tofu Burger from Vegan Miam
  13. Homemade Sunshine Burgers from The Vegan Chickpea
  14. Za’atar Chickpea Burgers from Keepin’ It Kind
  15. Curried Eggplant, Lentil and Quinoa Burgers from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
  16. Walnut Lentil Beet Burgers from Hell Yeah It’s Vegan
  17. Smoky Bean & Spinach Sliders from Thug Kitchen
  18. Smooth Chickpea Kids Burger from The Flaming Kitchen
  19. Fabulous Un-Fried Falafel Burgers from Forks Over Knives
  20. Acorn Squash Veggie Burgers from My Whole Food Life
  21. Roasted Garlic Artichoke Veggie Burgers from Connoisseurus Veg

Do you have any favorite organic recipes for veggie burgers? Share below!

Organic Gifts for Mother’s Day

organic giftsIt really wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I truly appreciated the things my mom did for me and my siblings. I often find myself thinking about her many times throughout the day. I think of her when the kids are fighting, and the house is a mess, and I feel as though I’m about to pull every single hair out of my head. I think, I’m only raising three at home, and she had four! How did she do it?!

When my littlest one falls asleep in my arms and I feel a love so fierce that I just can’t stand it, nor explain it in words, I think of my mom. In those moments I think about all the times my mom held me the same exact way, and felt that same fierce love for me as I do for my daughter.  I don’t think there’s a better feeling in the world than that. No one will love you like your mom and sometimes it takes becoming a mom to truly understand that. I sincerely hope you take as many chances as you can throughout the year to show her how much you love and appreciate her as well.

Here are a couple different ideas for some fantastic organic gifts that I think any mom in your life would appreciate this Mother’s Day.

Custom Organic Gift Baskets

You can really do any kind of basket you want. What does your mom like? Coffee, Chocolates, spices, tea, snacks?

Organic tea basket

Pick out a few organic teas – these are some great brands:

If she likes a little sweetener you can add in a liquid stevia or raw honey

Organic Essential Oils/Aromatherapy Basket

Essential oils are wonderful to use for making home care products and diffusing in the air. Add a few essential oils in this basket with a diffuser.

Organic Spa Basket

What mom doesn’t want to relax? I know I do. Here are some of my favorite items to make a nice organic spa basket.

There are so many types of baskets you could make. You could do an Italian Style basket and fill it with organic pastas, spices and sauce.  What about an organic snack basket? You can fill it with things like organic popcorn, chips, crackers and cookies? Whatever gift you decide to give to your mom this Mother’s Day, is going to perfect. After all it’s not the gift that matters, it’s the person giving the gift! Happy Mother’s Day

What organic gift ideas do you have this Mother’s Day?  

Organic Foods to Ease the Winter Blues

organic foodsDo you find yourself depressed during the fall and winter months? Do you feel a lack of interest in activities, or feel socially withdrawn? Maybe you tend to gain weight or have a loss of appetite. These are all possible symptoms of having the winter blues also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  No fear, I’m here to give you few tips on what organic foods you can eat to help you with your winter blues!

Organic Foods for the Winter Blues

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are packed with magnesium, iron, B vitamins, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. They are also a wonderful source of phytonutrients, helping boost the mood and prevent anxiety. Eat them lightly sautéed, throw them in your smoothie, or eat them raw in a salad.

Proteins

Eggs, fish, shell fish and yogurt are all excellent choices, all of which have a ton of vitamin B12. When we are deficient in B12, we are more prone to winter blues and depression.  B12 is commonly found in animal proteins. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll find B12 in nutritional yeast and in fortified non-dairy milks.

Onions

Onions are a high source of antioxidants, not only that they also help to lower stress and inflammation. Onions are also full of vitamin C, which help boost a good mood and prevent depression.

Dark Chocolate

Research has shown that dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa kicks in the production of certain chemicals believed to up the levels of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter similar to adrenaline in that it helps block different kinds of pain. So when you’re down, pick up a bar with the highest cocoa content you can find and start feeling better instantly. Dark chocolate also lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods.

Oranges

Navel oranges contain about 60% (more than milk) of your daily calcium requirements. Calcium is a critical nutrient needed for preventing stress and depression.  Oranges and leafy greens’ are a much healthier way to get your calcium requirements, and they are full of other nutrients as well. Oranges are especially high in Vitamin B6 and folate, two critical nutrients for preventing unfavorable moods and depression.

Omega 3’s

Omega-3 fatty acids have been praised for their numerous health benefits, including possibly influencing your moods. One study from the University of Pittsburgh found that people with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to experience moderate or mild symptoms of depression. The highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, walnuts, and flax seed/flax seed oil.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan (like turkey), which lowers stress, prevents depression, and helps with anxiety. Pumpkin seeds are also incredibly high in protein. They are one of the only seeds to promote alkalinity in the body, which fights inflammation due to stress and a poor diet.

Other Alternatives for Easing the Winter Blues

Vitamin D

The kind of vitamin D I’m talking about is the sunshine (unfortunately there are not many food sources with Vitamin D). Yes, it’s not a food, but it’s worth mentioning here. Vitamin D, has been linked to huge increases in immunity as well as lowering depression symptoms. The best way is to be out in the sunshine. If you are lacking in sun, I would talk to your health care professional about a good Vitamin D3 supplement.

Exercise

As with other forms of depression, exercise can help alleviate seasonal affective disorder. Outdoor exercise will be most helpful. If you can’t exercise outside because it’s cold, rainy or snowy, choose the treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical machine nearest the window at the gym, or exercise in the comforts of your own home. Do what you can, no excuses. Exercise will also help offset the weight gain that is common with the winter blues.

Have you ever experienced the winter blues? If so, what are your favorite ways to make yourself feel better?

Healthy Eating In The New Year: 10 Green Foods You Should Be Eating

It’s 2015, Happy New Year! This year why not start things out right with committing to healthy eating. There are many ways to go about this, but today let’s talk about the top ten green foods that you should be eating. Adding a combination of these foods to your diet will benefit your health greatly! Maybe there are a few on this list you never tried. Introducing new foods into your diet is a cornerstone of healthy eating. It ensures that you get a variety of different minerals and vitamins, which bring different nutritional benefits.

10 Healthiest Green Foods You should be Eating

 1. Spinachhealthy eating

“Spinach makes ya strong!” That has been the Popeye tale for most of us, and that’s because this dark leafy green food is rich in iron. 1 cup of uncooked spinach has nearly 2mg of iron and only 15 calories. It is also a good source of fiber and has a small amount of protein. It is loaded with vitamin A, folate (folic acid), vitamin C and some vitamin E. The minerals Potassium, magnesium and calcium in spinach are high. Spinach can be a wonderful substitute for lettuce in salads, and lightly cooked spinach is concentrated in nutrients.

2. Asparagus

Asparagus is spring vegetable and the part we eat is actually the young underground sprouts or shoot. The asparagus tips are actually little flowers. Asparagus spears are often more expensive than other vegetables, because of their short season and the work it takes to harvest them. Asparagus have a good amount of vitamin c, vitamin A, sulfur, folic acid and potassium. It has some iron, calcium, magnesium and iodine and a little zinc as well.

3. Avocados

These are one of my most favorite foods ever. Avocados do contain a lot of fat (about 23 grams in a medium-sized fruit), but it’s the cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated kind that nutrition experts love. Avocados also contain lutein, an antioxidant that protects eye health, and they also have some vitamin c, good amounts of vitamin A and a bit of vitamin E. Avocados are a wonderfully versatile addition to salads, tacos, soups, and on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.

4. Kale

On top of delivering a raft of cancer-fighting antioxidants, kale is one of the vegetable world’s top sources of vitamin A, which promotes eye and skin health and may help strengthen the immune system. It’s a good source of heart-healthy fiber and a 1-cup serving has almost as much vitamin C as an orange.  Kale is also high in the minerals magnesium, potassium and iron and well known for folate (folic acid), which makes this also a wonderful food to eat during all stages of pregnancy including pre and post pregnancy as well (that is true for all leafy greens).

5. Brussel Sprouts

These are one of the cruciferous vegetables recently known for their ability to reduce cancer risk. Even though they are not many people’s favorite vegetable to eat – because of their peculiar taste (which is actual sulfur) and the fact that many people find they are gas producing, they however, are loaded with nutrition – they are high in vitamin A and C, folate (folic acid), and fiber and also fairly high in calcium, sulfur of course, phosphorus and potassium. Now only if we can get our children to eat them that would be an awesome accomplishment on all levels!

6. Kiwi

Had to have a few fruits in here! Research shows kiwifruit is surprisingly nutrient-dense. These fuzzy, little, green fruits provide 230 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C (almost twice that of an orange), more potassium than a banana, and 10 percent of the recommended daily allowances of vitamin E and folate. It’s also a good source of filling fiber. Slice some kiwi into your cereal, yogurt, or salad for a refreshing health boost. My kids like to cut them in half and eat them with a spoon!

7. Green Tea

I know this isn’t something you “eat” but I’m throwing this in there because I think it can be very beneficial to add to your healthy lifestyle and it’s green – it has it in the name! Green tea is an excellent source of catechins, another type of antioxidant. A subgroup of this compound known as EGCG has been studied for its potential role in preventing cancer and heart disease. One study showed that drinking one cup of green tea per day could decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10 percent.

8. Leeks

Leeks owe many of their anti-cancer superpowers to their sulfur compounds. These nutrients have been credited with everything from kicking cancer to boosting immunity. Studies also suggest leeks could help protect the digestive system from stomach and gastric cancers. They are a high fiber food that are related to green onions. They are mainly carbohydrate and fiber. They are also rich in potassium, iron and calcium and high in vitamin c.  They can be stemmed or sautéed with other vegetable or used in soup.

9. Cucumbers

The ‘coolest” of the vegetables, cucumbers are actually used medicinally for burns or irritated tissues. That’s why you always see cucumber slices on eyes, because it helps with stress, bags under eyes and inflammation or irritation. Cucumbers are eaten in their unripe state and usually raw. Interestingly they are not very high in any nutrient, but the seeds are actually the best source of vitamin E. Cucumbers also have some vitamin A and C.

10. Seaweed

Seaweed is gaining popularity, in part because it’s chock-full of minerals. Seaweed is a solid source of iodine (essential for thyroid health), packs a healthy dose of iron, and has unique anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. Select a seaweed salad appetizer or sushi rolls made with nori next time you order Japanese food.

Healthy eating can be accomplished in so many different ways. Eating and introducing these green foods is just another simple way to become a healthier you! What green foods do you like best, and what green foods are you curious to try?

Stress Busting Organic Foods for the Holiday Season

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.organic foods

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
  • Alcohol
  • 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 teaProbably 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?

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