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Archive for Green Foods

May 23rd, 2016

5 Foods to Boost Your Mood Naturally

5 Foods to Boost Your Mood Naturally

The direct link between food and mood can’t be denied and that old adage ‘you are what you eat’ still stands true. Hippocrates was the first to suggest the healing power of food when he said “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food”. If you’re feeling down in the dumps or a little off there are a few foods to consider adding to your diet that might help.

Here are five foods to help improve your mood**

Salmon (and other fatty fish)

More and more evidence has shown that omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, and tuna) may help boost your mood. Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty fish including herring, sardines and tuna, can impact your mood, behavior and personality.

Chocolate

Any list that includes chocolate is my kind of list! There’s more and more evidence that dark chocolate can enhance your mood. Chocolate has been shown to “improve depression and anxiety symptoms and help enhance feelings of calmness and contentedness.” Make sure the chocolate you’re consuming is dark chocolate without added sugar and milk, organic and fairly traded.

Fruits and Veggies

Eat your veggies! In a study of close to 3,500 men and women those who ate their fruits and veggies were less likely to report feeling depressed than those who ate processed foods, refined grains and high-fat dairy products.

Vanilla Yogurt

We’ve known for a while that fermented foods, including yogurt, help boost our mood. A recent study found that a spoonful or two of vanilla yogurt be a quick fix. What’s the reason that vanilla yogurt seems to do the trick? The vanilla flavor could be comforting. It’s known that certain scents can boost your mood via endorphins and vanilla happens to be one of those special scents.

Of course my favorite vanilla yogurt is Stonyfield!

Swiss Chard

Add a bit of Swiss chard to your diet to bump up your mood. All types of chard contain high levels of magnesium, a necessary nutrient to help your brain and boost your energy levels. Did you know that magnesium deficiency is a common condition among people diagnosed with clinical depression? My favorite way to eat chard is in a stir fry with a little olive oil and garlic. Here’s another Swiss chard recipe that looks delicious.

If you’re looking for a few superfoods to help beat anxiety check out my list HERE.

What’s your favorite food to help improve your mood? I’m still sticking with chocolate!

Remember a change in diet is a only a first step. Don’t forget to get enough sleep, drink water and smile when you first wake up in the morning!

**Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. I do not claim to cure any cause, condition or disease. I do not provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease.


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July 6th, 2015

It’s Time to Stop Refrigerating Your Onions

It's Time to Stop Refrigerating Your Onions Groovy Green Livin

We eat a lot of onions during the summer. There’s nothing like a barbecue with grilled Vidalia onions (so simple and so delicious) or caramelized onions.

I just learned something new that will free up space in my refrigerator: onions don’t need to be refrigerated. When they are kept in the refrigerator they lose their crispness and become soft.  I’ve also noticed that everything stored in the same refrigerated produce bin with onions starts to acquire their smell and taste.

How to Store Onions

  • Your onions should be kept in a cool, dry, dark place with plenty of air circulation. A pantry or other dark, cool cabinet generally works well.
  • They also like to stay in the mesh bag from the store. This bag allows for air circulation.
  • Keep them out of plastic bags. When they’re kept in a plastic bag the air can’t circulate and this will shorten their storage life.

Keeping most onions out of the fridge works, but here are a few caveats:

  • Cut onions DO need to be refrigerated
  • Peeled onions DO need to be refrigerated
  • Refrigerate sweet or mild onions that have a high water content. This will extend their shelf life. Make sure to use a low humidity setting to keep them dry.

Also, them away from potatoes. The moisture and air emitted from the potatoes can cause onions to rot.

Here are a few of my favorite onion recipes for you to enjoy over the summer:

What’s your favorite way to eat an onion? Do you like them raw or cooked? 

Cutting onions and crying seems to go hand-in-hand for most of us. HERE are a few tips for keeping those tears at bay when chopping an onion.


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photo credit: First via photopin (license)

March 18th, 2015

Ask Lori: Should I Peel Cucumbers or Leave the Skin On?

Ask Lori: Should I Peel Cucumbers? Groovy Green Livin

I’ve been asked many times how I come up with topics to write about. Cucumbers for example-how did this make it to the top of the list? Here’s the answer: Readers submit questions all the time and I do my best to respond. I’ve mainly been responding via email. A week or so ago I was meeting with a colleague and she suggested that I use some of the fantastic questions submitted for blog post topics. And so here we are. Keep those fantastic questions coming. You never know, they could end up the topic for “Ask Lori” .

QUESTION: Should we be peeling the skin off cucumbers or just leave it on? I don’t know if pesticides were used in the growing of the cucumber so I’ve been peeling off the skin. What do you think? 

Did you know that cucumbers belong to the same family as melons? The first cucumbers are believed to have come from India. They’re fairly easy to grow here in the Northeast. I grow them every year in my garden.

Cucumbers are low in calories and high in vitamin K, anti-oxidants and potassium. Cucumber peel is a good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers.

I recently started eating  most vegetables whole, raw and with the peel on.  Sometimes they don’t look as pretty , but the taste is sweet and delicious. The peel stays put so I can reap the full benefit from the veggies-lots of fiber and nutrients.  Nature made them that way, and let’s face it- peeling is a pain.

There are a few situations where you SHOULD peel cucumbers:

  • If the outer skin or peel has a bitter taste.
  • When the cucumber isn’t organic and could be laden with heavy doses of pesticides. Cucumbers are listed as one of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen”. The Dirty Dozen is a  list of 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest amounts of pesticides detected on the parts you eat, after typical washing.
  • If your digestive system can’t handle peels.

If you have an organic cucumber leave the peel on. You’re peeling away layers of nutritional value.

Vitamin K and unpeeled cucumbers

Eating an unpeeled cucumber adds to your daily vitamin K intake. Eating 1 cup of unpeeled cucumber provides you with 17.1 micrograms of vitamin K, while peeled cucumber slices contain only 8.6 micrograms.

Cucumbers and Vitamin C

Add unpeeled cucumber to your diet as a source of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid.  Each 1-cup serving of peeled cucumber contains 2.9 milligrams of vitamin C.

BOTTOM LINE: It sounds as though my reader’s cucumbers were not organic. I would suggest peeling the skin off since they are listed as one of the “Dirty Dozen” and trying to buy organic cucumbers in the future.

Do you peel your cucumbers?  Are you willing to try eating them with the peel on?
photo credit: cucumbers en route to pickledom via photopin (license)

 


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March 10th, 2015

Getting to Know Your Oatmeal: The Different Types of Oats

Getting to Know Your Oatmeal: The Different Types of Oats Groovy Green Livin

Oatmeal is a pretty common breakfast food in our house. If I remember the night before, I prep a batch for the next morning in my favorite slow cooker. I’m able to delay the start time so that it’s ready when we wake up. A bowl of oatmeal is an easy, nutritious crowd pleaser. Add a few mix-ins to that bowl of oatmeal and you have your own fabulous creation. Perfect on a cold, winter morning.

The oatmeal aisle at the supermarket can be overwhelming. There’s the prepackaged oatmeal in single servings, the boxes of oats and  bulk oats. If you don’t know your oatmeal, it turns into a guessing game. Here are a few tips to help you make your next bowl of oatmeal healthy and perfect.

Oatmeal: The Different Types of Oats

All oatmeal starts off as oat groats (say that three times fast). An oat groat is the most complete grain of oat, with only the inedible hull removed. Oat groats can be used straight up to make oatmeal. These are best in the slow cooker since they take about an hour to cook. Here’s a simple recipe.

Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are also sometimes called “Irish Oatmeal” and “Pinhead Oats”. Steel cut oats are oat groats cut into several pieces. This type of oatmeal is the least processed and as a result it takes a long time to cook. Well worth the wait. This is my favorite type of oatmeal.

Rolled, Regular or Old Fashioned Oats 

Rolled oats, regular oats and old fashioned oats are all one and the same. They are created when oat groats (whole oats) are steamed, flattened and dried. This is what most of us think of when we envision a bowl of oatmeal. They are slightly processed, but still a whole grain (the whole oat).

Quick Oats

Now we’re talking processed oats. The quick oats used to make your oatmeal are no longer whole grains and loose much of their nutritional value when processed. Quick oats go through the same process as rolled oats, but even more processing. They’re actually rolled thinner than rolled oats. The added processing allows them to cook quickly, thus their name.

Instant Oats

Instant oats are the most processed of all the oatmeal. These oats are pressed even thinner than quick oats, enabling them to cook very quickly. You can add boiling water to these oats and they’ll thicken almost instantly. Instant oatmeal is high on the glycemic index, causing your blood sugar to sky rocket and then drop back down quickly.

Oatmeal quick tips

  • Be on the lookout for added sugar, salt and other ingredients that don’t belong in your oatmeal. Read labels carefully. Be especially wary of the single serving oatmeal in a variety of flavors.
  • When possible opt for steel cut oats and old fashioned (rolled or regular). They are the least processed.
  • Buy organic when you can. There are no GMO oats at this time, but pesticides can be used in the growing process.

What’s your favorite type of oatmeal?

 


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photo credit: Coffee Granola via photopin (license)

January 23rd, 2015

5 Healthier Peanut Butter Dessert Recipes

Healthier  Peanut Butter Dessert Recipes Groovy Green Livin

Now that my son no longer has a peanut allergy (stay tuned for this amazing story) nuts of all kinds have been a staple in our home. And there’s a good reason.

In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found people who ate a daily handful of nuts (including peanuts which are technically legumes) 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.

So in honor of National Peanut Butter Day (January 24th, 2015) I’m going to share with you 5 amazing recipes from a few peanut butter loving bloggers.

But first this fact: Did you know that it takes 550 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter?

Now it’s time to take a peek at these delicious recipes and if something floats your peanut-butter-loving boat click on the link to bring you to the full recipe. My only suggestion-use organic peanut butter without added sugar whenever you can.

Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge by Chocolate Covered Katie

I was so excited to stumble across this recipe for Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge. Something so delicious without butter, heavy cream, or high fructose corn syrup.

Healthy Peanut-Butter-Fudge Groovy Green Livin

No-Bake Energy Bites by Gimme Some Oven

What got me with these delicious treats is the “no-bake”. And they’re incredibly easy to make. Take a peek here.

Peanut Butter No-Bake-Energy-Bites-Groovy Green Livin

Double Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting by Desserts with Benefits

This Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting looks seriously decadent, but it’s also healthier than most cakes, low sugar, high in fiber and high in protein.

Healthy Peanut Butter Cake Groovy Green Livin

 

Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter and Avocado Pudding by Healthfully Ever After

Chocolate, peanut butter and avocado sounds like an interesting combo in this recipe. There are only 7 ingredients and the recipe is relatively healthy! This recipe calls for Greek yogurt and personally I like to add Stonyfield organic Greek yogurt to my recipes. I think you know why!

healthy chocolate peanut butter avocado pudding Groovy Green Livin

Flourless Chocolate Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Topping (Gluten Free!)by Nutritionist in the Kitch

This cake is flourless! Guess what holds it together? Sweet potatoes! Don’t worry, Christal assures us that you can’t taste the sweet potato for all you sweet potato haters.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE BROWNIES WITH SALTED PEANUT BUTTER TOPPING (GLUTEN FREE!) Groovy Green Livin

 Enjoy National Peanut Butter Day! What’s your favorite peanut butter recipe?

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

January 12th, 2015

The Scary Truth About Red Dye No. 40

The Scary Truth About Red Dye No. 40 Groovy Green Livin

I went to the movies with my 11 year old last night. Just the two of us. We went to one of our favorite movie theaters-where the seats reclined and the arm rests were incredibly wide and comfortable.

Before the movie started we waited in line for candy. When we reached the counter my son had a hard time deciding what to get. I tried really hard not to interject (although I was dying to tell him to skip all the candy!). Instead we ended up having a lengthy discussion about which candy was better for you. Seems like a strange conversation to have, but it brought up some real issues. He held up a box of chocolate covered raisins and Sour Patch Kids and we compared ingredients.

The Sour Patch Kids contained:

Sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, citric acid, tartaric acid, natural and artificial flavors, yellow 5, yellow 6, red dye no. 40, blue 1

Not much by way of real food in those little candies. When we checked the ingredient list on the chocolate covered raisins this is what we found: No artificial food dyes.

Dark Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Milkfat, Soy Lecithin, Nonfat Milk, Lactose, Artificial & Natural Flavors), Raisins, Sugar, Tapioca Dextrin, Confectioner’s Glaze (Lac-Resin), Alkalized Cocoa

The raisins won the “better for you” contest, although I’m not sure either one truly belongs in this category.

The Scary Truth About Red Dye No. 40

Red food Dye No. 40 was listed on almost every candy package we looked at. Turns out it’s the most commonly used dye in the United States. Red Dye No. 40 or FD&C Red Dye #40, is widely used in the foods and drugs that we consume on a daily basis. It’s been approved by the FDA for use in food products and must be listed as an ingredient on labels.

And it’s not only found in candy. Red Dye No. 40 can be found in soda, salad dressings, toothpaste, mouthwash, and even medicine (think about the lovely pink hue of your antibiotics).

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest the Red 40 is made from petroleum and possesses a “rainbow of risks to children.” Those risks include hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions.

Here’s the crazy part.

Many candy companies in the U.S. use artificial food coloring for the candy they sell and distribute in the United States, but that same candy sold in Europe gets its coloring from natural sources. Food and other products containing artificial food coloring and sold is Europe would have a warning label in that would say:  “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” We have no warning label in the US.

Red Dye No. 40 Dangers Groovy Green Livin

What continues to amaze me is that these companies are clearly able to remove dangerous artificial food dyes from their products and have done so in other countries, yet they’re not willing to remove them from products sold in America.

What does this say about how these companies value the lives of American children? Seems pretty apparent that they’re less concerned with health than they are with their bottom line.

What you can do about Red Dye No. 40

  • READ LABELS: In America all food labels must spell out which artificial food dyes are used in a product. If you see Red 40 listed (or any other color with a number after it) steer clear. Read your labels very carefully so you can make an educated decision about the food you buy. I think you’ll be amazed at how many times Red Dye No. 40 shows up on a label.
  • SUPPORT COMPANIES that don’t use artificial food dyes. Let your dollars do the talking!

Do you try to avoid Red Dye No. 40 or other artificial food dyes?

 


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photo credit: Special via photopin cc

January 5th, 2015

7 Healthy Foods to Add to Your Diet in 2015

 

7 Healthy Foods to Add to Your Diet

Happy New Year!

With every New Year comes new beginnings and new opportunities. As I’ve mentioned in the past, New Year’s resolutions don’t work very well for me. Instead I try to make simple, small changes throughout the year.

I’m just returning from an incredible family vacation. I hope you were able to take a few days off over the holidays as well. Right now I’m trying to return to a regular routine, including a healthy diet. I didn’t stray far over vacation, but there were sweets hanging around and indulging did happen.

Throughout 2015 I’m going to try to add a few more of these healthy foods to my diet

Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish which is made from a variety of vegetables including cabbage and spices.

Researchers in Korea published a recent study showing kimchi as a probiotic. Probiotics are bacteria that help keep everything balanced in your intestines. Some of the known benefits of probiotics are treating diarrhea, preventing and treating yeast infections and urinary tract infections, treating irritable bowel syndrome, preventing and treating eczema (and potentially allergies) in children and boosting the immune system.

Farro (aka Emmer)

Farro is pretty new to the North American scene, but has been served in Italy for over 2,00 years! Farro is the Italian name for emmer wheat and is best known for its roasted, nutty flavor and chewy texture. It’s a great replacement for rice and other cooked grains. It is a form of wheat so those with a wheat or gluten sensitivities might want to steer clear. Farro is high in fiber and protein and is also rich in magnesium and B vitamins.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is one of the healthiest flours around. It’s gluten free and because it’s not a grain-based flour, it is non-inflammatory and low in carbs. Coconut flour has 5 grams of fiber per 2 tablespoons (with only 2 grams of total and saturated fat). It’s not a straight substitution for other flours since it tends to be dry. Take a peek here for some recipe ideas.

Matcha Tea

Matcha (powdered tea) tea is the dried leaves of  green tea ground into a powder. The green powder is whisked with hot water in a bowl to make matcha tea.

The list of health benefits is long including  providing many minerals and vitamins. It can also protect against many kinds of cancer and help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Here’s the brand I’m going to test out: DoMatcha Organic Green Tea

Dark Chocolate

This is your license to eat more chocolate (provided it’s dark chocolate without added sugar and milk, organic and fairly traded). Chocolate, much like blueberries, reduces cortisol – the stress hormone that causes anxiety symptoms.

Nuts

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.

Lychee

This exotic fruit has a hard shell and a single, glossy, brown seed, that is inedible. Lychee contains oligonol, which is thought to be an antioxidant. It’s also a fantastic source of Vitamin C and the Vitamin B’s including thiamin, niacin, and folates.  It has a high sugar content so those with restricted diets might want to limit consumption.

Watercress

Bring on the watercress in 2015! You might be used to seeing this leafy green as a garnish on your plate, but it’s about to take a front seat. Watercress is an aquatic plant found near springs and is a close cousin to mustard greens, cabbage, and arugula. A 2014 study found watercress as having the highest nutrient score of any fruit or vegetable.

What foods do you want to add to your diet this year? 

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 photo credit: PhilNolan via photopin

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Alper-46

About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

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