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Archive for Green Foods

December 11th, 2013

Go Nuts! A Handful of Nuts a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Groovy Green Livin Nuts

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

What’s in Flavored Potato Chips?

Groovy Green Livin Flavored Potato Chips
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.)

photo credit: Adam Kuban via photopin cc

November 4th, 2013

Is Drinking Carbonated Water Safe?

Groovy Green Livin Carbonated Water

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

Get to Know Your Leafy Greens

Groovy Green Livin Leafy Greens

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

Groovy Green Livin leafy greens

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!

Collard Greens

Groovy Green Livin leafy greens

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).

Spinach

Groovy Green Livin leafy greens

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

Groovy Green Livin Leafy Greens

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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August 5th, 2013

Why I’m Not So Crazy for Corn on the Cob

Groovy Green Livin corn

Summer and corn on the cob are almost synonymous in my book. When corn is in season it’s unbelievably sweet and delicious and I can’t get enough. Every trip to the local farm stand or grocery store  inevitably involves bringing home a dozen ears.

While my love of corn isn’t wavering, my willingness to eat it a few times a week is changing.

Most corn in the US is genetically engineered

During a recent family vacation in Wisconsin I couldn’t help but notice field upon field of corn stalks. While staring in amazement at the never-ending ears I began to realize that most of it (if not all of it) was genetically engineered.

Corn is the No. 1 crop grown in the U.S. and nearly all of it — 88 percent — is genetically modified. What’s even more alarming is that although common in the U.S., GMO corn is banned in the 28-nation European Union. What do they know that we don’t? I think a lot.

Groovy Green Livin corn

My love of corn on the cob began when I was very young. Every summer I looked forward to going to the Sweet Corn Festival in Wisconsin. Once the nominal admission fee was paid it was all you can eat. Let’s just say I don’t do well with buffets. I have vivid memories of feasting on sweet corn until I was physically sick.

Fast forward to the present. The sweet corn festival continues in my very own dining room usually 2-3 times a week. Especially this time of year we can’t eat enough-it’s delicious.

There’s no GMO label on my corn

GMO corn has been manipulated in labs to resist disease and drought, ward off insects and “boost the food supply” and the long term damage to us is still being studied.

Europe requires all GM food to be labeled unless GM ingredients amount to 0.9 percent or less of the total, but not here in the US. We know that most corn sold in the US is genetically modified, but it isn’t labeled in the US because it doesn’t have to be. We all have the right to know what we’re eating, don’t we?

Choosing organic corn is one way to avoid GMOs, but organic corn on the cob can be hard to come by.

The health risks of GMOs

The long-term health effects of GMOs are being studied and we have a long way to go. I worry. GMO corn requires massive amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. It can’t be good. How many times have you heard someone say: “I don’t remember kids having food allergies when I was growing up”?  Maybe GMO’s are the cause or at least a factor in this surge of food allergies, environmental allergies, ADHD and other diagnoses.

Everything in moderation

I’ve always been a believer in “everything in moderation”, but there are also foods that just shouldn’t be eaten. Ever. I’m not suggesting that corn on the cob is one of those foods, but I do think it’s time I gave some thought to how often we eat it.

So there you have it. I’ll be scouring the farmer’s market and local farm stands for organic corn and cutting back on the amount of conventional corn on the menu.

Do you avoid genetically modified corn or eat it in moderation?


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June 24th, 2013

It’s Time for an Applegate Wienervention (Giveaway)

Groovy Green Livin Applegate Organic Turkey Hot Dog

Our family’s been eating Applegate hot dog’s for quite a few years. We don’t eat hot dogs often, but when we do we try to make sure they’re Applegate.

Thanks to the kind folks over at Applegate we were able to have our own ‘Wienervention’ and test out a few different types of hot dogs. Our favorite is The Great Organic Turkey Hot Dog.

Groovy Green Livin Applegate Organic Turkey Hot Dog

Their hot dogs come in many varieties, each wearing an all natural or organic label. As we know, ‘Natural’ is a pretty unregulated term. The folks over at Applegate stand behind their ‘natural’ label by assuring us that:

  • The (beef) hot dogs are simple: just beef, water, sea salt, and spices – and they have much less fat and sodium than other hot dogs.
  • Raised without antibiotics or hormones
  •  From animals fed a vegetarian or 100% grass diet and treated with humane animal standards
  • Free of chemical nitrites, nitrates or phosphates
  • Free of artificial ingredients or preservatives

Groovy Green Livin Applegate Organic Turkey Hot Dog

Friends don’t let friends eat bad meat

Groovy Green Livin Applegate Hot Dogs

Conventional hot dogs can be filled with all sorts of  steroids and chemicals, things you really don’t want going into your body. Abscorbic acid? sodium diacetate? Let’s be frank, if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Luckily, you don’t have to. This 4th of July Applegate is going to help you proclaim your independence from bad meat through a Wienervention.

Big news on the GMO front…..

Applegate has committed to removing all GMO ingredients from their products (only 10 remaining) by the end of 2013. Finally a GMO removal time frame that actually makes sense!

GIVEAWAY! Now it’s your turn to win an Applegate wooden cutting board, Chico tote bag and Applegate buttons and stickers!

Applegate Farms Gift Pack

Disclosure: The Applegate product, gift pack, and giveaway have been provided by Applegate. All opinions are my very own.

June 18th, 2013

The Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Groovy Green Livin Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds have slowly made there way onto my growing list of edible seeds. Most of these edible seeds have made their way into my smoothies (my Blendtec has been getting an intense workout this year) and are sprinkled on many dishes throughout the week. These seeds aren’t for smoking, but they do pack a powerful nutritional punch. For the reasons you are about to read about hemp seeds are not only on my list, but they’re making their way to the top since their super hero qualities are hard to beat.

Groovy Green Livin Hemp SeedsOn a recent trip to our local Whole Foods Market I found myself starring at a bag of hemp seeds. I’ve been wanting to give them a try every since chia seeds were such a big hit.

There were several brands to choose from, but I was drawn to this brand (Manitoba Harvest Organic Shelled Hemp Seeds) because it was organic.

Health benefits of hemp seeds

  • Hemp seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Hemp is a high protein seed and contains all of the essential amino acids (similar to flax). Great addition for those eating vegan or vegetarian diets.
  • Two tablespoons contains 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.
  • They’re filled with other nutrients including:
    • Chlorophyll and Vitamin E.
    • Important B vitamins.
    • Folic acid (important for women who are trying or may become pregnant)
    • Phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium, which are involved in energy metabolism, protein and bone synthesis.
  • Generally hemp seeds are easily digestible and don’t leave you gassy or bloated. 

Where do hemp seeds come from?

Many people think hemp is marijuana, but they’re not the same. Though hemp comes from a variety of Cannabis, it contains very little of the chemical THC which is the active ingredient in pot. The hemp plant, even for culinary purposes such as hemp seeds, is for the most part still illegal to grow in the United States. Hemp seeds are mainly grown outside of the US. When Colorado voters legalized marijuana in November of 2012, they also legalized hemp.

What do they taste like?

Hemp seeds look a bit like sesame seeds with a green tint. I found them to taste a bit nutty-but not a strong nut flavor. I’ve heard people describe the flavor as a cross between a pine nut and a walnut flavor.

How to use hemp seeds

I’m just starting to experiment with hemp seeds, but I’ve used them in my smoothies and sprinkled them on salads. Next up testing them out as a nut butter or mixing them into my oatmeal.

What’s YOUR favorite way to eat hemp seeds?

 
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Disclosure: There are a few affiliate links in this post. Any purchases made will help support this blog. Thank you!
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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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