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Archive for Green Foods
June 16th, 2014
The One Fruit to Eat Organic: Apples
Organic apples are a must.
Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of 12 fruits and vegetables called the “Dirty Dozen”. For over 10 years EWG has published this annual guide to help people eat healthy and reduce their exposure to pesticides in produce. The Dirty Dozen™ list of produce lists the top 12 conventional fruits and veggies with the most pesticides. It’s a helpful guide when deciding where to spend your hard earned dollars on organic food.
EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ list of produce includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Each of these foods showed high concentrations of pesticides when tested.
Why Chose Organic Apples? Apples at the Top of the Pesticide List
When we shop for produce we have many choices -one of the most difficult being whether to invest our hard earned dollars on organic fruits and veggies. While buying organic is always the better option, it can be cost prohibitive to buy everything organic.
Year after year apples have been at the top of the list as a fruit which is doused in pesticides. According to EWG, apples are the single most pesticide-contaminated produce item available at the supermarket.
We eat a lot of apples over here. Going through a dozen apples in a few days is nothing. I do my best to buy only organic apples for my family.
We are very picky about the type of apples we eat. My son loves organic Fuji apples and the rest of us will only eat Pink Lady. They’re hard to find year round at a farmer’s market or our local Whole Foods Market. The conventional version seems to always be available, but I’m not willing to go that route. I only buy organic apples.
Are there certain fruits and veggies you only buy organic?
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June 5th, 2014
When I first heard the words “21 day cleanse” my automatic response was NO WAY.
After a few weeks and much convincing I warmed up to the idea of a 3 week cleanse.
Sounds kind of crazy, doesn’t it?
For the past few years I’ve been doing a 5 day juice cleanse. It was quick and painful. The juice concoction was making me gag by the end of the 5 days. And drinking juice-no solid food-for 5 days wasn’t cutting it. I needed a change.
I don’t cleanse to lose weight. I do it because it feels great. Not only does the cleanse clear out your colon, but it helps clear your mind and every other part of your body.
How the 21-Day Cleanse Works
The plan was to eliminate caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten, nuts, processed food, artificial everything and other possible allergens from my diet for 21 days. Doesn’t leave much left to eat!
My husband and few friends were in.
We decided to loosely follow Standard Process 21-Day Purification Program (affiliate link). I say loosely because we didn’t end up using any of the supplements that came with the kit. Instead we ate fresh, organic fruits and vegetables throughout.
For the first 11 days we ate an unlimited amount of vegetables (used organic whenever possible). Our vegetable intake was supposed to be twice the amount of fruit intake. We also added a cup of lentils or quinoa each day for protein and we were allowed 4-7 teaspoons high-quality oils.
No soda, no GMOs, no sugar, no fast food, no processed or refined foods, no coffee, no grains. No fun. You get the idea.
On day 11 we added in additional protein. Lean meat and fish, preferably organic. The meat servings were around the size and thickness of your palm. No deli meat, no cured or smoked meats, no grilling.
Tips to Cleanse
- Find a buddy. Cleansing with another person makes the process much better, especially if you live with that person.
- Mentally prepare. Cleansing is a mental challenge. Set your mind to it and stick to it.
- Shop for food ahead of time. We planned out our meals in advance, something I’m not used to doing.
- Cook in bulk. This was a lifesaver. We would make large pots of vegetable soup that would last for the week.
- Keep a journal. Throughout the cleanse there are ups and downs both physically and emotionally. Take the time to document your experiences to learn from them.
How I Felt During the Cleanse
Amazing. I absolutely loved this cleanse. As an aside, I’m generally a pretty clean eater so cutting out a lot of the processed foods wasn’t difficult. My challenge was eliminating nuts, pretzels and chocolate, all of which I plan to reintroduce very soon!
One fabulous side effect of the cleanse for me was no PMS. And I mean nothing.
After the Cleanse
It’s time to reintroduce foods back into your system. Standard process suggests that you reintroduce foods one group at a time to see how you feel from each. You can also assess whether or not you have a food allergy or intolerance as the food is reintroduced.
Are you ready to try a cleanse or do you think I’m crazy? Would love to hear your thoughts!
I am not a physician. Please check with your physician before doing a cleanse and to guide you through the process.
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May 27th, 2014
I still giggle every time edamame makes its way onto our dinner table. When my kids were really small, we had a lot of fun with the pronunciation (or mispronunciation) of edamame. It was called “ate-a –mommy” for many years.
Edamame or soybeans have been popular in China and Japan for many years and have finally made their way into other parts of the world.
They technically aren’t considered a vegetable, they’re a legume. You can find them at most grocery stores including Trader Joes and Whole Foods (in the freezer section). The soybeans are crunchy and delicious. Add a little coarse salt to taste and you won’t be able to stop eating them.
There are quite a few good reasons to become a lover of edamame.
- Edamame are fun to eat. The beans are boiled in their thick pods and a little coarse salt is sprinkled on top. After they are cooked the green edamame are popped out of their shell to eat. Sometimes they can fly pretty high-depending upon who’s doing the popping. Don’t eat the outer pod-it’s pretty tough and doesn’t taste very good.
- They’re low in fat. One cup of edamame is about 8 grams of fat.
- They’re low in calories. One cup of edamame is about 189 calories.
- High in protein. One cup of edamame is 17 g’s of protein.
- Edamame are high in fiber. There are 8 grams of fiber in every cooked cup.
- Strengthens bones. Our bodies need manganese to build strong bones. A cup of cooked edamame contains approximately 1.6 milligrams of manganese, which is over half of the recommended daily amount for adults.
- Great source vitamin K which is important for heart health.
- High in folate. Each cup of cooked edamame provides over 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of folate for a healthy adult. Folate is important for all of us, but most important during pregnancy for the prevention of pregnancy defects.
- High in vitamin C. One cup of edamame provides 16% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and helps the immune system work properly.
- Filled with iron. One cup of edamame has about 3.5 milligrams of iron. This is about 44% of a man’s recommended daily allowance and 15% of a woman’s recommended daily allowance (they need about 18 mgs of iron up to age 50). At 51, women only need 8 milligrams of iron so 1 cup of edamame would supply 44% of the RDA.
While soybeans have many health benefits, they can also mimic estrogen. If you have hormone-sensitive health concerns make sure you talk with your health care provider before eating edamame and other soy products.
Do you eat edamame? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?
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December 11th, 2013
I’m on a mission to add more nuts to my diet. The occasional handful isn’t cutting it anymore and there’s a reason.
After listening to a recent edition of Science Friday on National Public Radio, A Handful of Nuts, a Lifetime of Benefits? I’m convinced that nuts are where it’s at for our health. Yes, I know there are a tremendous amount of allergies out there, but for the purpose of this piece I’m taking that factor out of this discussion.
Study Finds Consuming Nuts Reduces Death Rate
In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found people who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20 percent less likely to die from heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses over a 30-year period than were those who didn’t.
The study followed 118,000 individuals for over 30 years those who ate nuts 7 or more times per week and found that they had a 20 percent reduction in dying from any cause.
Wow. 20 percent is a lot.
And any type of nut works. The study didn’t see a difference in the type of nut eaten, but rather focused on all nuts including “tree nuts” and peanuts (which are technically a legume).
There’s more good news. Higher nut consumption doesn’t only lower your likelihood of dying from a disease, it also has been linked to reductions in cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance.
Nothing to blink at.
The study also found there was no difference for men and women. Both should be eating nuts for better health.
But Aren’t Nuts Fattening?
We all know that nuts are fattening. This is probably why I haven’t been eating them by the handful on a daily basis. Let’s face it-an ounce of nuts has 160 to 200 calories, nearly 80 percent from fat.
According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Charles Fuchs, nuts are high in fat-but high in the better types of fats. Dr. Fuchs wonders if nuts could be having an effect on our metabolism since the study found that although they’re high in fat people who eat a handful each day don’t seem to be getting heavier, but in fact leaner.
Maybe nut eaters lead a healthier lifestyle in general? Or maybe since they’re eating nuts they’re less likely to snack on other fatty, processed foods. Whatever the case may be, in study after study, the more often people ate nuts, the leaner they were.
How Many Nuts Should We Be Eating?
Dr. Fuchs suggests eating one serving (one ounce) once a day. This is equivalent to about 24 almonds or 18 cashews.
I’m a walnut, almond and pistachio lover. My plan is to add more organic, raw nuts to my diet. Maybe a New Years resolution?
What’s your favorite type of nut? How often do you eat nuts? After reading this are you planning to add more nuts to your diet?
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November 18th, 2013
Flavored potato chips seem to be all the rage.
A long, unexpected weather delay in an airport yesterday gave me ample time to search far and wide for healthy snacks. I stumbled upon a variety of unhealthy snack options, some of which were downright disgusting. But when you have hours to kill in an airport things that would look appalling on a normal day start to look somewhat appealing. Desperation at its best.
What I discovered is quite simple: If you’re a lover of strange flavored potato chips then the airport is the perfect place for you.
These chip flavors are about as far away from the classic flavored salt and vinegar or barbecue chips as you can imagine. Think Chicken & Waffles or Pecan Pie. Yep. These are (or were) real flavors (I think Chicken & Waffles has run its course).
Not one is appealing to me, but clearly I’m in the minority since they’ve made their way onto market shelves and people everywhere seem to be passing the time snacking on a bag of these flavored potato chips.
Curiosity prevailed and I felt compelled to do a little digging.
What was making these fine flavored potato chips such a hot and tasty commodity?
After a bit of legwork I was able to confirm that Chicken & Waffle chips actually do contain chicken. The natural flavor added to the chips includes chicken flavor. There’s also the chicken & waffles seasoning that makes these flavored potato chips probably taste like the real deal. To be fair, I’ve never tasted them.
And then there’s the Pecan Pie flavored chips by offered by Pringles for a limited time only. Yes, your salty and sweet dessert Pringles have been released. According to the Pringles site these chips are “… like a mega-nutty sweet flavor explosion for your pie hole”. Wow.
While browsing through the lengthy ingredient list I didn’t see pecans mentioned anywhere (nor pie for that matter). A few other ingredients jumped out including: YELLOW 6 LAKE, RED 40 LAKE, and BLUE 1 LAKE. Just like grandma’s real pumpkin pie, right?
And the last flavor I’ll pick on for today: Cheese Burger Flavored potato chips by Pringles. For some reason this flavor tops wins my vote for most revolting. It’s just wrong. I read through the ingredient list several times and I’m still not sure what gives these chips their cheesburgery flavor. It could be the “natural smoke flavor” or perhaps the “natural and artificial flavors”. I’m pretty sure the flavor doesn’t come from the YELLOW 6 LAKE, RED 40 LAKE, or BLUE 1 LAKE that I found in these chips.
Do these chips contain genetically modified ingredients?
Placing all the frightening ingredients aside, there’s one larger issue that you won’t find on most labels. These chips could contain genetically modified ingredients.
In the U.S., Americans spend $10 billion a year on potato chips alone. Approximately 90 percent or more of the nation’s corn, soybean, canola and cottonseed are genetically modified, along with a growing list of fruits and veggies. According to the Non-GMO Project:
Genetically modified NewLeaf potatoes were introduced by Monsanto in 1996. Due to consumer rejection by several fast-food chains and chip makers, the product was never successful and was discontinued in the spring of 2001. There are no genetically engineered potatoes in commercial production, and potatoes are considered “low-risk” by the Non-GMO Project Standard.
So it’s not the potatoes I’m worried about. It’s the corn and soy. Most of these chips contained corn, canola or soy oil and/or corn flour that I found listed as an ingredient in most potato chips.
Find a Safer Chip
Look for organic chips that have the Non-GMO Project Verified label.
One of my all-time favorite chip brand is Late July Organic (affiliate link). They’re not potato chips, but they have some pretty fancy flavored chips including Mild Green Mojo Multigrain Tortilla Chips and Dude Ranch Multigrain Tortilla Chips. All of their chips are organic and Non-GMO Project Verified.
What’s your favorite brand of chips?
Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site. Thank you. (Read all the fine print here.)
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November 4th, 2013
Carbonated water is water in which carbon dioxide gas has been dissolved and little bubbles form. We recently started making our own carbonated water at home with a Sodastream. We generally add a squeeze of lemon or lime to create a low calorie alternative to still water. The kids all love it and our Sodastream is working on overtime.
Personally I’m not a fan of carbonated water, but the rest of my family can’t get enough. Since this love of sparkling water has turned into a bit of an addiction I decided to do a little homework to make sure that consuming a lot of the bubbly stuff wasn’t impacting our health.
Is carbonated water bad for your bones?
The rumors about carbonated water being bad for your health likely began in the early 1990′s when poorly reported studies were published which suggested that drinking soda, specifically cola, raises the risk of bone fractures among adolescent girls and older women who were former college athletes. No association between non-cola soft drinks and bone fractures was found. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) “there is no connection between the carbonation in soft drinks and bone loss. In fact, certain carbonated mineral waters have been shown to improve bone health.”
ANSWER: NO. There is no connection between the carbonation in soft drinks and bone loss.
Does carbonation cause tooth decay?
Usually tooth erosion comes from drinking soda and other soft drinks that are filled with sugar. The sugar combined with the carbonation can cause tooth decay-not the carbonation alone. Be wary of any added flavoring and take the time to read the label even if you think there is no added sugar.
According to a 2001 study published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, “sparkling mineral waters showed slightly greater dissolution than still waters, but levels remained low and were of the order of one hundred times less than the comparator soft drinks.”
The flavor packets that come with most home carbinators should be avoided. That’s where the sneaky sugar is generally hiding.
ANSWER: NO. Carbonation doesn’t seem to have a significant effect on tooth enamel erosion.
Does carbonated water create stomach issues?
When I was a child I remember the first thing my mother gave me to soothe an upset stomach was a glass of ginger ale. The combination of ginger (known to ease a stomachache or to relieve motion sickness) and carbonation worked wonders.
Carbonated water eases the symptoms of indigestion (dyspepsia) and constipation, according to a study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
ANSWER: NO. There are no known negative effects of sparkling water on your stomach.
Bottom Line: Carbonated water is basically harmless. It’s just water and bubbles. An added bonus: by using a home carbonator you’re creating a positive impact on the environment by not using all the plastic bottles and cans generated from the store bought version. You’re also saving money in the long run. Enjoy!
Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site. Thank you. (Read all the fine print here.)
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August 12th, 2013
Walking down the produce aisle at the market and starring at the sea of leafy greens can be overwhelming. If it weren’t for those handy little signs in front of each product many of us would be lost. I have to admit there have been times when the signage has been overlooked and the wrong leafy green ended up in my fridge.
Here are a few tips to keep those leafy greens straight.
Kale happens to be one of those foods that I recently added to my “Must have in your refrigerator” list. Kale is easily spotted due to its ruffle leaves. Kale comes in a variety of colors that range from green to purple and black depending on the variety.
There are so many reasons to keep this leafy green around. Here are a few at the top of my list:
- Steam your kale and eating it could help lower your cholesterol.
- Cancer buster.
- Packed with nutrition including vitamins A C, and K.
- Kale’s flavonoids work as an antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory benefits.
My favorite way to eat kale- kale chips!
Collards are a member of the brassica family that includes highly nutritious vegetables like kale and broccoli. They’re usually associated with southern dishes. This leafy green gives kale a run for its money. If collard greens aren’t cooked properly they can be a bit tough and bitter (I know from firsthand experience!). Here’s a simple way to prepare them-simmer with garlic and olive oil for 30 to 45 minutes.
Collard greens, like kale, are a nutritional powerhouse. This leafy green is a good source of vitamin C and fiber, and can help fight cancer like the best of the greens.
If you’re taking a blood thinner eat your collard greens in moderation since they contain a lot of vitamin K (which helps clotting).
There’s some truth to Popeye’s spinach eating philosophy. Here’s what one cup of spinach is packed with:
- Nearly 20% of the recommended allowance of dietary fiber.
- Over 337% of the recommended allowance of vitamin A which helps to keep colds and other illnesses at bay and also helps to ward off infection.
- One cup of boiled spinach provides over 1000% of the RDA of vitamin K which helps to maintain the strength and density of our bones.
Spinach in a salad, sandwich, smoothie or stir fried with a little garlic and olive oil are my favorite ways to enjoy this leafy green.
Swiss chard comes in a few varieties, some with green, red or multi colored stalks. You may have heard it referred to as silverbeet, Roman kale, or strawberry spinach.
It’s closely related to spinach, although I think it tastes very different with almost a beet-like flavor (it’s also related to beets). Swiss chard is very low in calories with one cup having only 35 calories.
This leafy green is a great source of source of vitamins A, K, and C. It also is a good source of fiber, calcium, potassium and iron. Chard can provide support for your immune system and help protect against vision problems.
When preparing you can use both the leaves and the stalk. Once the cooler months kick in here’s a great swiss chard soup recipe to try.
What’s your favorite leafy green?
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