Friday, July 31, 2009

The Shoppers Dilemma

So you're in the produce aisle, organic broccoli in one hand and non-organic in the other, and you're trying to decide which one to put in your cart (and inevitably on your dinner table).

They look the same, they feel the same, they smell the same, but the non-organic is a few bucks cheaper...decision made, the non-organic it is. And you rationalize this decision by saying I got the same thing as the organic broccoli (or whatever fruit/vegetable it may be), and saved a few bucks at the same time... but did you, get the same thing for cheaper that is?

Research shows that organic fruits and vegetables have a significantly higher level of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, polyphenols...) than their non-organic counterpart, without the added pesticides, dyes, and chemicals.

Let's take a strictly logical look at this; you buy food to ultimately refuel the body. This "refueling" requires nutrients to be successful. In reality then when you are food shopping you are actually shopping for nutrients. So if you look at food (in this case the broccoli) as strictly a source of nutrients then it becomes clear that when you made the choice to go with the non-organic produce you actually paid more for less (nutrients that is), so the "savings" is really an illusion.

Shop smart and healthy; buy organic!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Allergy Awareness

With food allergies on the rise in this country allergy awareness becomes even more import, and with children being affected at such an alarming rate it is crucial we do what we can to stay one step ahead.

This means education is crucial, and not just about the particular food allergy you (or your child suffers from) but about nutrition and a healthy diet as well. I believe (and research shows) that a major cause of this disturbing growth rate of diagnosed food allergy cases can be contributed at least in part to unhealthy diets (although I am a firm believer that an unhealthy diet is the MAJOR cause of most health problems in this country).

It is time we migrate away from the processed foods that make up the better part of most typical American diets, and all of the chemicals, additives, and preservatives that come hand-in-hand with these science experiments, and move in the direction of healthier one; fresh organic produce, organic whole foods, and organic grass fed beef poultry and eggs.

Allergy awareness also means alerting others, especially for kids. An interesting site I recently came across Allergy Apparel takes awareness and makes it fun, so check it out!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Grass Fed Proof

I noticed (driving back and forth to work) that many of the local dairy farmers have their cattle out in the fields grazing on what nature intended them to... grass! So I asked myself, why then do dairy farmers opt for free grazing their cattle and many beef farmers choose to feed them corn?

The answer came to me rather quickly... profit, profit, profit! So what's the difference between a dairy farm and a beef farm?

If you have a dairy farm then your major source of income is milk and other dairy products, and in order to be successful you need healthy cattle. They need their cows to live long healthy lives so they provide them with milk for many years to come, and the best way to maintain healthy cattle is to feed them a healthy diet, and that's where the grass comes in.

On the other hand a beef farmer uses their cattle in a very different way. Because the end product (and in turn the profit) is the cows themselves rather than a byproduct of the cow, they have a much shorter life expectancy. In order to make the most profit and compete in the marketplace, a beef farmer needs his cattle to go from calf to slaughter as quickly as possible and be as large as possible, regardless of the consequences to the cows or those who eat the beef. So in order to achieve this "maximum profit" the farmers are less interested in providing a healthy diet and more interested in a diet that can provide them with fat cows quickly, and that's where the corn comes in.

So the next time you purchase beef, ask yourself if a healthy diet (as well as your health) is important to you, and if so then beef from a healthy cow (i.e. a cow with a healthy diet) should be just as important.

Choose grass fed beef and live healthier!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hemp Milk Ice Cream

I've always enjoyed a little vanilla ice cream now and again... a good summertime treat. Of course all that changed when I found out I had a dairy and soy allergy. I went a good year or so before I started looking for a good dairy and soy alternative. Along the way I have found (and posted) about some of my favorites; Laloos Mission Fig Goat Milk Ice Cream (very tasty, but not cheap at $7+ a qrt), and then there was Coconut flavored Sorbet (not quite vanilla ice cream but very tasty non the less).

Just recently though I stumbled on Hemp Milk Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (by Living Harvest). It's marketed as a great dairy and soy alternative, as well as cholesterol free, gluten free, and vegan, and I couldn't agree more. This is a very tasty treat that not only is the perfect vanilla ice cream replacement, at $5 and change a qrt it's a little easier on the wallet as well.

As far as nutrition goes hemp seeds or nuts are a very nutritious and a complete food source, containing all the necessary amino acids and fatty acids (great source of omega-3) required for sustaining human life.

It also comes in Mint Chip, Coffee Biscotti, Chocolate Fudge, and Coconut Lime, for those who are looking for something a little more exotic than vanilla.

So enjoy this summertime treat (in moderation of course) and remember a food allergy does not have to be a prison sentence when it comes to healthy tasty menu choices.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back To The Food Basics

If you suffer from food allergies then staying allergy outbreak free is your primary goal. This can seem like a daunting task, and to many an apparent losing battle. The truth is though that it's not only doable, but it will prove to be a winning battle in more ways than you may realize.

Allergies are a big problem in this country, and studies show that food allergies just may be the primary cause of much of the all too commonly suffered health issues Americans are facing. The importance of a healthy diet cannot be stressed enough, and our shift over the years from home cooked meals made from fresh all natural ingredients to the age of processed foods, and the increase in diagnosed cases of food allergies is no coincidence.

Our bodies were designed to eat what nature provided, a smorgasbord of natural organic whole foods (or simply put un-fooled around with), so it should come as no surprise that when we make a shift in our diet to mainly processed foods closer resembling something from a chemists lab rather than a garden that the state of our health (as a species) is quickly deteriorating.

It's been a long time since most people have really stopped to analyze what exactly it is they are eating. Our bodies are designed to run on a handful of core nutrients (vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, amino acids, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, etc.) not MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Chemicals, Preservatives, Food Colorings, Refined Sugars and Flowers or whatever else these lab rats (with no concept of diet and nutrition) can dream up.

All it takes is years of depleting our bodies of these core nutrients and replacing them with toxins to severely compromise our state of health. A weekend immune system can lead to diseases, chronic pains, allergies, and most of the other health issues we as a civilization are facing.

So get back to the food basics and give your body what it needs to survive!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Healthy Diet... The Only True Miracle Drug

You hear it all the time on the news that statistics show people are living longer than compared to previous generations, but this is (in my opinion) a false statistic.

The truth is obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are on the rise in this country, affecting a staggering number of Americans, but that's not even the worst of it... Each of these, an epidemic in and of themselves, are effecting people at younger and younger ages.

So how can you have a statistic claiming that people are now living longer than ever when health issues like the ones mentioned above (normally thought of as adult concerns) are plaguing children at such an alarming rate?

The answer points directly to a major weakness in western medicine... treating the effects of these diseases and health issues instead of focusing on the causes. All too often, and with the help and support of drug companies (and those who profit from them), doctors waist precious time trying to relieve the symptoms of a more serious underlying problem.

Poor diets can be blamed for much of the health problems plaguing those in this country. The plain truth is processed foods, pesticides and chemicals, as well as unsafe and unhealthy meats and poultry are killing us, and instead of putting time and money into fixing our broken food industry we rely on pharmaceutical companies to invent the next miracle drug that promises to make all our aches and pains go away.

You don't need a miracle, just the desire to live a long healthy life that isn't dependent upon drugs.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Food Allergy Reminder

Don't forget to discuss with your waiter or waitress your food allergies so they are aware of your situation. I bring this up because of an outing over the weekend at an Italian restaurant, which made the typical dairy allergy faux pas.

After going down the menu with the waiter, nixing those items that contained either soy or dairy, I settled on something that both sounded appealing as well as soy and dairy allergy safe; baked chicken breasts with roasted red peppers and potatoes topped with a balsamic vinaigrette. They use olive oil as most Italian restaurants do (not vegetable oil) and the vinaigrette was allergy safe as well.

When I received the meal I noticed that there were cooked carrots on the plate which was not listed on the menu; had it been I would have made sure they did not put butter on them. Well, they of course did and I of course (having experience at this) new this was the case (the waiter confirmed). Anyway, I enjoyed the rest of the meal, and sidestepped the carrots.

The moral of the story is, don't assume the menu lists all of the meals ingredients; be sure to ask questions. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blueberry Season is Upon Us

If you're a fan of the blueberry as I am, then blueberry season is a special time of the year.

Like any food it's always best to eat it while it's in season to insure your enjoying it at its freshest healthiest and most flavorful point, and blueberries are no exception.

If you've ever tried to buy blueberries during an off season time, then you know what I'm talking about. They are 3 times the price and are almost completely lacking of flavor. The blueberry is an exceptional fruit, high in nutrients especially antioxidants, not to mention these little berries pack an explosion of taste that is (in my opinion) rivaled by none other.

So enjoy them while they're here...during blueberry season. Obviously depending on where you are located the season will vary, so watch for the prices to come down, stock up, and enjoy one of nature's "wonder foods" when nature intended it to be eaten.

Here's a little tip for enjoying them during the off season months. Buy them in bulk while they're in season, and freeze them. Although they will not taste as good as when they are eaten fresh, they will no doubt beat the off season impostors that the local food stores try to pass off as a blueberry.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sprout Your Way to a Healthier You

I read an article talking about the health benefit of broccoli sprouts, apparently studies show that eating broccoli sprouts can help those who suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma by triggering an increase in inflammation fighting enzymes.

I've mentioned many times the importance of eating foods in their whole unprocessed form, but there are also many foods (Grains such as wheat and barley, Seeds such as broccoli, alfalfa, and brussels, and Legumes such as peas and mung beans) that you can benefit from by eating them in there "sprout" form.

Sprouts have been a part of human's diets since ancient times, and are often considered "Wonder Foods". The benefits of eating sprouts are endless; increased levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients with the added benefit of increased digestibility.

They are quite easy to grow at home and also available in many food stores, so there's no excuse why there not a part of your diet.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Healthy Ingredients Make a Healthy Meal

When you think of a cheese steak sandwich the first thing that probably comes to mind is greasy, fattening, and unhealthy... not necessarily in that order. This is probably true if you get such a sandwich from a diner, lunch truck, fast food joint, etc.

So how can you enjoy such a meal? How about make it yourself with fresh organic produce and grass fed beef...

I made a cheese steak sandwich the other night using fresh organic onions, cactus (instead of peppers... just to shake things up a bit), goat cheese (cheddar), and stake from grass fed cows purchased at a local farm.

I fried it on a cast iron skillet with some organic coconut oil; took less than 30min to cook, and tasted great!

My point is you can still eat some of the foods that are considered to be a healthy diet "no no", when you prepare them yourself.

When you start with healthy ingredients, you can't help but end up with a healthy meal!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Local Farmers

My wife and I recently found a new (to us anyway) local farm that sells grass fed beef, chickens, eggs, etc.

The great thing about local organic farms is that they're always willing to educate the public about the importance of organic food and grass fed (or free grazed) animals. This particular farm gave us pamphlets talking about just that, and said they would love to give us a tour of the place whenever we wanted (which is always a question I ask them, and you should too).

Where else can you actually learn a little about what exactly it is you're feeding yourselves and your family?

Just try asking your local food store or favorite hamburger joint if they could tell you a little bit about the history of the meat or eggs or produce you are buying. It simply amazes me that no one really seems to care about where the food they eat comes from or the path it took to get there.

If local farms are within driving distance from where you live, then do yourself a favor and take your family on a little road trip. You will be amazed at what you learn, not to mention how much better organic and or free grazed foods taste.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hands Out Of That Cookie Jar!

I know I've posted about this before, but I felt it deserved more attention.

We have all seen this at work at one time or another; the communal cookie jar, or candy jar, or box of donuts, or whatever... bottom line it's a jar (or box) of bad news. So why then is it so popular?

Where I work there is a candy jar, a pretzel jar, and usually a miscellaneous container of sweets that someone brought in, and there's no shortage of takers... but why? Why do people get this urge to snack on crap throughout the day, and do they even realize they are doing it? Do people go into a coma like state of mind when passing by the break-room, conscious to only where they are headed and not what they are doing?

I see these jars and containers start off full every morning and wind up empty by day's end, and I think to myself it's no wonder most Americans get sick a handful of times every year.

I read that due to the fact that our brains cells require glucose (sugar) for fuel as well as the evolutionary process sugar has undertaken over the past century with the help of man (and by evolution I mean the transition from natural healthy sources to the mass production of super sweet man made strands brought to life in some lab rats test tube), that our brains instinctive want or need for this fuel in its most high octane level leads people following a misguided unhealthy path.

Because the brain cells cannot store glucose, we're on a kind of a "usage on demand" terms so you can't blame our brains for this craving, but you can (and should) blame us for satisfying the urge with a very deadly impostor.

Remember that we (and our brains) have been around for a long time, longer than "high fructose corn syrup" and the other culprits, so when it comes to feeding the glucose craving we should do it the natural way; from grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, honey, etc.

Not from cakes, cookies, candy or whatever poison your "communal cookie jar" may hold.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Crock Pot Favorites

So our (my wife and I) first sit-down meal in our new house was one of my all time favorite meals... Pea Soup! It's one of the many meals we make in the crock pot and when made right, with all natural organic ingredients, makes for a very healthy meal.

The beauty of the crock pot is you can set it up that morning and let it do its thing all day, so when you return it's just serve and eat.

As with all healthy meals, regardless of how they're cooked, the most important thing to remember is everything starts with the ingredients. If you start with the healthiest ingredients available, the outcome is not only a tantalizing treat for the senses, but is sure to give your body the nutrients it requires to maintain a healthy state.

So what's in this delightful dish I speak so highly of...

Organic Split Peas
Organic Carrots (chopped)
Organic Onions (chopped)
Organic Garlic (crushed)
Boiling water

Add milk at the end, before serving (for those with a dairy allergy try organic oat milk/almond milk/hazel nut milk)

You won't be disappointed!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Healthy Picnicking

So another Holiday has come and gone, but how did your eating habits fair?

Did you succumb to the pressures of all the picnic celebrations usual suspects?

I hope the answer is no. I hope the answer is you had fun, and although the menu options may have been out of your control, you did your best with what was available. I celebrated the 4th as most Americans do, at a picnic where the menu options, usually starting with unhealthy treats (chips, dips, etc.), and a heavy constant flow of unhealthy drinks (tons of soda, and or alcohol), are topped off with something on the grill and all the side dishes that come with it. And let's not forget all the desserts.

So what do you do when you're faced with such a smorgasbord of foods well outside your normal healthy rations, and all the pier pressure that goes along with it? You do your best with what's available.

When it came to the pre-meal snacks I made sure to do the majority of my grazing on the vegetable crudites (you can usually find one at every picnic), and when it came to dips I stuck with the homemade guacamole and hummus (when made right can actually be a healthy food). When it came to the mane course I went with a burger (no bun do to the soy allergy), a homemade salad (consisting of asparagus, oranges, mixed greens, and a soy free dressing), and a homemade bean salad (beans, corn, fresh cilantro, vinegar...).

Now were the vegetables and/or fruit organic, or the meat from free grazed cows? Most likely not, but when the menu is out of your hands the best, smartest choices you can make are the healthiest ones available at that time; stay away from the soda, go easy on the alcohol (for those common sense reasons), and don't over indulge.

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