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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? 

Buying Produce: The Organic Shopping Guide

We’ve put quite a few organic shopping guides together so that our customers can better navigate their way through thebuying-produce-organic-shopping-guide best organic foods and products.  One thing a lot people are wondering about specifically is buying produce.  What produce should you buy organically?  What produce is it okay for you to buy conventionally?  And where are the best places for buying produce that’s organic?

In our recent post Saving Money on Organic Foods: 10 Great Tips, Krissy briefly mentioned a couple of lists you may already be familiar with: the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.  The “dirty dozen” refers to produce you should always buy organically. The reason these foods should be bought organically is because they have skins that we eat, and the skin is what’s exposed to pesticides and chemicals during the growing process.  The clean fifteen refers to produce that is okay to buy conventionally because the skin is not eaten therefore you’re not directly ingesting foods sprayed with chemicals.  In case you haven’t heard of these two lists, here they are:

The Dirty Dozen

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Cherry tomatoes
  4. Cucumber
  5. Grapes
  6. Hot peppers
  7. Nectarines (imported)
  8. Peaches
  9. Potatoes
  10. Spinach
  11. Strawberries
  12. Sweet bell peppers

The Clean Fifteen

  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocado
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Corn
  6. Eggplant
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Kiwi
  9. Mangoes
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions
  12. Papayas
  13. Pineapples
  14. Sweet peas (frozen)
  15. Sweet potatoes

Buying Produce Locally

Buying produce locally is not only good for the environment and local economy, but if you buy from a local farmers’ market or farm you can ask the farmer yourself about how they grew the produce.  Local foods are also usually less expensive than foods that have been shipped from one part of the country to another.

Buying Produce Seasonally

Organic frozen produce is often cheaper than fresh produce especially if it’s out of season when you buy it, but was in season when it was frozen.  You can also buy organic produce in bulk when it’s in season, freeze it, and use it when it’s out of season.

Growing Organic Produce

Start your own organic garden and start growing your favorite fruits and vegetables.  Not only will you save money on buying produce at the store, but you’ll know exactly what’s in the produce you’re serving to your family because you grew it yourself.  Buying organic garden seeds ensures that you’re not planting any GMO’s.

Other Tips & Tricks for Buying Produce:

  • Separate bananas once you get them home so that they age slower.
  • Avoid washing leafy greens or fruits until right before they’re ready to be eaten, this way they’ll last longer.
  • Repurpose leftovers and food waste.   There are so many things you can do with organic vegetables besides adding them to a meal.  Also you can use your own food waste to help fertilize your own organic garden.

Do you have any tips or tricks to buying produce that is organic and inexpensive?  Share them in the comments!

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?

December Specials at shopOrganic

Each month shopOrganic offers a different selection of sale items so that you can save a little money on the path of making better choices.  These specials also give you an opportunity to try some new products that you might have overlooked before. We’ve highlighted some of these great products below, including some products that are great for the upcoming holiday season. Be sure to head up to shopOrganic.com’s Sale section to see all of the December specials at shopOrganic.

december specials

December Specials at shopOrganic

Artisana
Coconut Oil 10% Off

Artisana’s organic coconut oil is carefully created in small batches to ensure the highest quality.  Their products are always raw, always organic, and always delicious.   Click HERE to try this December special now.

Better Than Bouillon
All products 10% Off

Just in time for the holiday season we’ve got Better Than Bouillon on sale.  Great for soups, stews, gravies and other holiday recipes.  Add some concentrated flavor to your favorite dishes.  Click HERE to try them now.

Choice Organic Tea
All varieties 10% Off

These organic and fair trade teas will warm you up on a chilly Fall day.  Choice Organics commitment to fair trade practices will make you feel as warm inside as their tea will.  Click HERE to try this November special today.

Color Garden
All varieties 10% Off

We’re very excited about this brand new product – a food coloring made with only natural ingredients like beet, carrot and red cabbage.  Great for making cake and cupcake frosting without chemical food dyes.  Try them all HERE.

Dr. Kracker
All varieties 10% Off
Inspired by the traditional crispbreads of Europe, Dr. Kracker flatbread crackers are made with a blend of whole grains and seeds, mixed carefully into a yeast-raised dough and artisan baked to perfection. Every bite of every Dr. Kracker flatbread is full of texture, flavor and heartiness.  Great on their own or topped with your favorite foods, from dips to salads, nut butters and jam.   Click HERE to try them now.

Drew’s
Organic Salad Dressings 10% Off
Produced in small batches infused with authentic regional and ethnic flavors, Drew’s unique salad dressings totally transform salads and reinvent everyday meals. With bold flavors and organic goodness, Drew’s salad dressings’ combination of quality and convenience mean more time at the dinner table with your family. Try all of their dressings HERE.

Earth Friendly
Dishmate 10% Off
A powerful hand dish washing product that is naturally hard on grease but not your skin.  Try a small amount into your sponge for cleaning dishes so you can experience the power of this concentrated formula.  Dishmate is also great for hand washable clothes. Try them all HERE.

Edward & Sons
Organic Croutons 10% 0ff
Made from organic whole grain wheat and select organic seasonings, these croutons complete your organic salads and garnish your organic soups. Lightly Salted Croutons add a subtle toasted flavor to your bowl, while Onion Garlic and Italian Herbs Croutons impart zesty flavor that excite your taste buds and enhance your meal. The Italian Herbs Croutons make a great stuffing!  Try them HERE.

Equal Exchange
Organic Baking Cocoa & Hot Cocoa Mix 10% Off
Warm up your winter nights with organic, fair trade hot cocoa from Equal Exchange; a perfectly sweetened treat.  Or enhance your baked goods with their organic fair trade baking cocoa.  Either way you’re supporting fair wages for the small scale cocoa growers of the CONACADO cooperative.  Try them HERE.

Essential Oxygen+
All products 10% Off
Essential Oxygen Brushing Rinse provides a better way to brush your teeth. It works AND it’s clean. This amazing rinse is part organic toothpaste, part organic mouthwash.  Great for all oral issues including natural teeth whitening, gum pockets and receding gums, tooth sensitivity, bad breath, tartar, canker sores and toxic morning mouth, all without objectionable ingredients.  Their Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide is great for first aid, body & oral care, produce, household surfaces, dishwasher, laundry & stains, plants & garden, and pets.  Try them all HERE.

Farmer’s Market
Canned Organic Vegetable Puree 10% Off

With the holidays just around the corner, its a great time to stock up on canned pumpkin, sweet potato and butternut squash.  Great in casseroles, soups, stews and desserts.  Click HERE to try them all.

Flavorganics
Organic Baking Extracts 10% Off

It’s baking season, the perfect time to stock up on your favorite baking extracts.  Flavorganics extracts bring an extra punch of flavor to your baked goods.  Click HERE to try them all.

Heavenly Organics
Organic Honey 10% Off

These honeys are produced by a coop of organic farms in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and throughout Northern and Central India.  With really unique flavors, these honeys are truly organic; the bees do not come into contact with any chemicals or pesticides.  Click HERE to check out this December special.

Mary’s Gone Crackers
Organic Gluten Free Cookies 10% Off
Made with real food ingredients and low glycemic sweeteners, you can eat these cookies anytime. Mary’s Gone Crackers’ Cookies use coconut palm sugar, a pure, whole-food sugar that is made from the deliciously sweet nectar of the coconut palm tree. They also contain chia seeds, an ancient superfood high in healthful omega-3 fatty acids. Try them all HERE.

Newman’s Own Organics
Organic Cookie-O’s 10% Off
Dunk them, twist them apart, eat them in one bite! No matter how you like to eat Newman Cookie-O’s, you can feel good knowing that they contain no artificial ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, and no GMO’s.  They’re our favorite O’s!  Try them all HERE.

Nibmor
Organic Fair Trade Chocolate Bars & Drinking Chocolate 10% Off
Nibmor’s chocolate bars and drinking chocolate are organic, fair trade, gluten free and vegan.  With no refined sugars, you can indulge in delicious chocolate without any guilt! Try them all HERE.

OCHO Candy
Full size bars and minis 10% Off  
Made in small batches with great care, OCHO Candy brings back the fun you remember about candy as a kid.  In flavors that will leave your taste buds tantalized, try them in full size bars or mini sizes.   Click HERE to try them now.

One Degree Organics
Organic Sprouted Grains 10% Off
Using only organic foods grown using natural veganic methods, One Degree is able to track all of their extraordinary grains all the way back to the field for true transparency. By sprouting the grains, One Degree’s products are more digestible and higher in nutrients. Try them all HERE.

Take advantage of these great sale items and more throughout December at shopOrganic.

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.

Organic Turmeric: 5 Amazing Health Benefits + Uses

organic turmericLast month I was coming home from a trip on a cramped and full flight.  After holding my body in an uncomfortable position for over an hour, I wound up with lingering pain in my right shoulder.  I tried massaging it out, using muscle balms and ointments and nothing worked.  I don’t like to take prescription or over the counter drugs but after not being able to sleep due to the pain, gave in to using ibuprofen.  It helped with the pain but if I stopped taking it, the pain came back.  I was frustrated and I remembered that I’d heard that organic turmeric was as effective or more effective than NSAID pain relievers.  I had nothing to lose so gave it a shot.  Within 36 hours of taking turmeric regularly, the pain was gone.  I continued taking it for a few more days just to be sure and when I stopped, the pain didn’t come back.  Score for organic turmeric!

While I was taking organic turmeric, I decided to see what else it was good for and I found quite a bit of evidence that it has a whole lot of healing properties; here are just a few:

5 Health Benefits of Organic Turmeric

1 – Natural Antiseptic and Antibacterial

With a general increase in antibiotic resistance, scientists are studying natural compounds for their antibacterial properties.  Studies have shown that curcumin, an active component in turmeric, has antibacterial properties. 1

2 – Cancer Prevention

According to the American Cancer Society, “Curcumin can kill cancer cells in laboratory dishes and also slows the growth of the surviving cells. Curcumin has been found to reduce development of several forms of cancer in lab animals and to shrink animal tumors. “2  Curcumin has been found to be beneficial in both prevention and treatment of certain cancers: lung, prostate, liver, breast, colon, stomach and melanoma.

3 – Prevents and Slows Alzheimer’s Progression

More than 50 studies on turmeric’s effects on Alzheimers show that extracts of turmeric contain a number of components that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaques that slowly obstruct cerebral function.

 4 – Arthritis Relief

A common treatment for arthritis sufferers are pharmaceutical COX-2 inhibitors.  The COX-2 enzyme promotes the pain, swelling and inflammation that is present in arthritis.  Turmeric contains six different COX-2 inhibitors as well as more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds.  Studies of curcuming for arthritis have shown positive changes in arthritis symptoms.3

5 – Anti Depressant

Researchers have found that turmeric is as effective as Prozac for treating depression.4 Considering the side effects of pharmaceutical antidepressant medications, the use of turmeric is far more beneficial for the body.

How To Use Organic Turmeric

Commonly used in curry, turmeric is a staple in Indian cuisine but it can be incorporated into many other dishes to provide color, flavor, and health benefit.

  • Use in eggless egg salad or tofu scramble for a golden yellow color reminiscent of egg yolk.
  • Bake it into a cake! Sfuff is a middle eastern turmeric cake that is easy to make, festive and delicious.  Find a recipe HERE.
  • Try drinking turmeric tea.  Just simmer 1 tsp of organic ground turmeric in 4 cups of water for about 10 minutes.  Add honey or ginger for flavor and enjoy.
  • Add a bit of organic turmeric to soups and stews – the flavor is mild enough that any richly flavored bean soup, stew, winter squash soup or cauliflower soup will benefit from the addition of turmeric.

If cooking with turmeric isn’t your thing but you still want the benefit, you can take organic turmeric in capsule form.  Just 3 capsules a day will provide you with turmeric’s protective benefits.  Now that you know the health benefits of organic turmeric and some ways to use it, how will you be adding organic turmeric to your diet? Let us know in the comments.

 

References

1. ANTIBACTERIAL ACTIVITY OF CURCUMA LONGA VARIETIES AGAINST DIFFERENT STRAINS OF BACTERIA

2. American Cancer Society – Turmeric

3. Anti-inflammatory Properties of Curcumin, a Major Constituent of Curcuma longa: A Review of Preclinical and Clinical Research

4. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

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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