Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Have a Healthy Holiday

Everyone wishes others a "Happy Holiday", but I am going to take it a step further and wish all a Healthy Holiday.

Thanksgiving is an example of our, as a society, gluttonous nature at its max. How many times have you heard someone say tomorrow (the day after Thanksgiving) I'm going on a diet?

But it's not just the excess that is so unhealthy, it's what is being eaten. It's not as if the majority of people eat healthy 364 days a year and then let loose on 1 day; unfortunately most people eat far too much processed foods high in fat, refined flowers and sugars, and then look at Thanksgiving as a free pass to eat more of the same but in excess.

Most of the Thanksgiving favorites are those dishes full of heavy cream, butter, refined flower, and lots and lots of sugar. If all that was eaten was a meat (the turkey), a starch (the potato minus all that butter and cheese), and a vegetable (minus any that isn't) along with gravy made only from the juices on the turkey then you wouldn't have to feel so guilty when you eat that piece of pumpkin pie...

You can enjoy the holiday and eat healthy at the same time without sacrificing much at all. Limit your plate to a normal size portion making sure to reduce the amount of refined flower and sugar on your plate as well as the alcohol you drink... and eat slowly (some conversation during dinner helps there), and then wait a good 30min before going back for seconds (once again "conversation" is your best ally). That way you will allow your stomach some time to digest your first plate-full giving your brain a chance to get on the same page with your full belly.

By limiting the amounts of refined flower and sugar you will prevent your blood sugar form spiking and by eating slowly you will allow your stomach to begin digesting. If you still want seconds you will most likely be fuller than if you woofed down your first helping, greatly reducing the chances of you diving back in with hungry eyes.

Add a little more conversation between those seconds and desert and I can assure you, you wont be looking at that smorgasbord of deserts like an oasis in the middle of a desert.

Have a healthy Holiday!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shelf-Life Equals Unhealthy In Many Cases

I heard a conversation this morning in the cafeteria where I work regarding the shelf life of certain products, or should I say the lack of shelf life. A woman was commenting (more accurately complaining) about how some packaged foods seem to last forever in the refrigerator while others spoil quickly.

Achieving a lengthy shelf life is something food manufacturers spend millions on and they use this seemingly positive quality to their advantage (since many shoppers feel the same as my misguided coworker), but it's this very quality of processed foods that make them so unhealthy.

All of those additives fillers and preservatives, as well as that laundry list of unpronounceable words, that clutter the ingredients list on that box or bag of whatever are no doubt a major reason for this countries many health epidemics; obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer...

The truth is all of these artificial ingredients are created in a lab by someone with no education (or concern) when it comes to the human body and what it needs to maintain a healthy state. Their only concern is that of creating something that can go relatively undetected by the taste buds and fly under the radar of the FDA while achieving whatever unnatural goal they're trying to achieve.

If you removed all of the natural ingredients from any package of processed non-organic food you would not be left with much at all, except of course for the dozen or so chemicals food manufactures are not required to list...

Be smart and eat healthy. Leave those science projects being sold as food just where you found them, at the store.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fancy Packaging Equals Unhealthy Food

There is a reason why food manufacturers spend millions of dollars on fancy packaging, and it's not only to get you to choose their brand over a competitors.

There is no question that the competition is fierce in the world of processed foods, and with a target market consisting of mainly on-the-go with no time to spare shoppers looking for the best deal possible (money wise), a manufacturer has no choice but to grab your attention quickly and keep it. But with more and more attention being paid to nutrition labeling despite consumers lacking the proper education and knowledge regarding healthy foods and diets, manufacturers have started using the fancy packaging to their advantage once again.

The majority of shoppers know only the bare minimum when it comes to nutrition, and this lack of knowledge is being used against them. They know only what they've heard on the news, in the media, etc.; avoid foods high in sugar calories fat sodium etc., and look for foods that contain whole grains vitamins minerals omega-3...

Food manufacturers have become wise to this and in response started covering their packaging with "key phrases" for no other purpose than to draw the consumer's attention away from the facts seeing only what they want you to see. They use words like "reduced" sugar / fat / calories or "compared to other leading brands" as if the other leading brands were any better, or they say "fortified with" or "contains your daily requirement of" vitamins and minerals and even antioxidants, or they use the words "natural" or "whole grains", or "healthy heart", and most recently they've stooped to an all time low with "helps support a healthy immune system during flu season"... seriously now?

You're telling me that a product like fruit loops or lucky charms is going to keep my immune system strong? I'm not nearly that stupid and I hope neither are you, but this is what they do. They use a few of these key phrases like "contains 3 grams of fiber", and then give you a few sentences of why fiber is so important to a healthy diet (which it is) and that's all it takes... hook line and sinker.

The truth is nutrient rich foods are the best thing for you, but you will never get this with processed foods. You must make fresh organic whole foods the foundation of your healthy diet. The ONLY reason processed foods contain any nutrients is because the manufacturers put them back in at the end of processing (hence "fortified with"), and the only reason they do that is because the more a food is processed the more nutrients are lost. Processing strips most all color flavor and nutrients from any natural ingredient, so manufacturers are forced to add sweeteners dyes fillers and additives (all in the form of harmful chemicals) as well as fortify them with synthetic nutrients to bring this processed mess up to the FDA's minimum standard.

So don't be fooled by fancy packaging... if Mother Nature is concerned then why should you be?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Popular Cholesterol Drug May Hurt...

A headline in the news today reads "Popular Cholesterol Drug May Hurt, Not Help".

This type of news is becoming all too common. It's a race for these drug companies to come up with the next "best seller", and with the competition as fierce as it is in this multi-billion dollar industry more bad news is sure to follow. It sickens me that so many people put their health (ultimately their lives) in the hands of greedy corporations each with the reputation of having this "get it on the market and deal with the consequences later" motto, and what's worse is the success these drug companies have at convincing doctors that their drug is safe and effective.

A line from today's report reads...

"Statins such as Lipitor and Crestor have long been used to lower LDL or bad cholesterol, and are known to cut the risk of heart problems. Nevertheless, many statin users still suffer heart attacks, so doctors have been testing adding a second medicine to further lower risk."

So the medical communities answer to a drug with potentially deadly side effects is to simply add another drug? Is that what they're taught in school?

I think every doctor should have to learn natural/holistic methods of curing and preventing disease before they can even begin to use a pharmaceutical approach. They should study the human body from a natural stand point (i.e. the important role nutrients play in maintaining a healthy state), and the consequences toxins (from drugs/Rx's, to environmental, to what's commonly found in processed foods) have on the body. Doctors should spend more time learning about the importance of a healthy diet (organic whole foods, grass fed beef, and free range chickens), and what damage the alternatives actually do to your health.

There are a number of proven natural remedies to lowering cholesterol and everyone one of them starts with a healthy diet. And guess what, none of these natural approaches have deadly side effects.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Unhealthy Gym Addict

There's a study being done by French researchers, "Drinkers Exercise Most", and it touches on something I've come to realize regarding the irony with gyms.

Before I continue let me first say that I too was at one time a "gym rat", a slave to all those machines and exercise equipment many of which closely resembling some sort of medieval torture device. This was during a time in my life when I thought I was healthy although my diet consisted of mostly processed foods; a time when I thought I was in great shape although I was riddled with tendinitis in most of my joints; a time when I thought this 5-6 times a week addiction (to the gym) was good for my body despite all the crap (whatever latest and greatest the GNC had to offer) that I was taking.

I feel I can speak the truth on this subject, as painful it may be for all the gym rats to hear, because I too was once an addict. The gym by definition is supposed to signify or at least indirectly equate to a healthy lifestyle, yet most of those who go (at least in my experience) live unhealthy life styles.

Most gym goers fit into one of four categories; the "young and naive" usually doing at least half of the exercises incorrectly and are all too easily influenced by the next group... the "muscle heads", usually taking a colorful assortment of daily muscle growth enhancers some legal and some not and concerned only about size. Then there's the "cardio freaks", those who seem to be going full speed from the moment they get in moving only from on one piece of cardio equipment to the next. Finally there is the "rehab/seasonal group" consisting of both young and old either rehabilitating an injury or trying to look good in a bathing suit, and both usually assisted by the "trainer" on staff.

The problem is most of these people (some more blatantly obvious than others) do not practice the "healthy lifestyle" outside the gym. They either eat poor unhealthy diets and or drink too much, they smoke, they consume way too many drugs (be it pain killers, Rx's, or anything from the GNC), they subject themselves to toxins on a daily basis, and they usually do not know what it truly means to be healthy... I know I didn't.

Fact... the 2 biggest membership periods at a gym are between New Years (the "resolution") and the Super Bowl when most people finally give in to that glutinous temptation, and that "end of winter/beginning of spring" period that ends as soon as the summer beach days begin. That alone proves that the gym drives a temporary urge in many people to "get fit quick", but just as those fad diets drive that "get thin quick" urge they usually falls short of any positive results and seldom result in a healthier lifestyle.

There is no substitute for a healthy diet, period. If you can honestly say that you eat health, and by that I mean a diet consisting of mainly fresh organic whole foods, then and only then should you even consider a "gym" as your method of staying fit.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Not a Power Breakfast

The more I see what others eat for breakfast, the easier it becomes to understand why so many people in this country are plagued with health problems.

How can someone expect to live a healthy life if they start every day in a very unhealthy way?

The importance of each and every meal cannot be denied, but breakfast above them all holds a bit more significance. What you eat for breakfast can and will set the tone for the rest of your day. It can be the difference between your blood sugar fluctuating, rising and falling like the stock market, and holding steady throughout the day. It can be the difference between having energy throughout the day and crashing before noon. It can be the difference between actually staying full for the next 3 or 4hrs and unconsciously snacking through the day like a bear preparing for hibernation. It can be the difference between staying healthy and, well not.

Since none of this should be front page news for anyone, tell me why then breakfast usually gets the least amount of intelligent forethought going into its preparation?

Tell me why then do I see the same co-worker of mine eat two thick slices of "multigrain" bread or bagel topped with enough butter to clog the healthiest arteries and heaping amounts of jelly (loaded with sugar by the way) each and every morning?

What to eat for breakfast... it's not rocket science, just keep it healthy. Organic Whole Foods are your best bet; Free-grazed Eggs, Nuts, Whole Grains, Fruit, Vegetables, and Wild Caught Fish are all good choices.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Teriyaki Chicken with Vegetables

Slice 2 chicken breasts into cubes and marinate ahead of time (a few hours at least) in homemade teriyaki sauce (see Soy Replacements) and some fresh shredded ginger.

In a wok heat up some olive oil over medium heat. Add some water chestnuts, baby corns, bamboo shoots, sliced carrots, and thinly sliced ginger root. Once browned add the chicken and sauce as well as some alfalfa or broccoli sprouts and saute until chicken is fully cooked.

Enjoy a healthy tasty meal!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Swine Flu Skepticism

The swine flu (H1N1) remains a hot topic in the news although lately the focus is not so much the flu itself, but rather the swine flu vaccine or more accurately the hesitation of parents to have their kids vaccinated.

I for one am happy to hear parents are very leery about the safety of this vaccine despite what the government is saying. I am not a believer in vaccinations period and I'm sure others feel the same way, but this mass reluctance to simply obey the government because "they know best and would never put you or your family's health at risk" is about something different.

This is about something different though, this is bigger than the vaccine or any vaccine for that matter.

This is about a countries distrust in its government when it comes actively taking a role in the health and wellness of its people.

This is about a country whose government has failed time and time again as it tries to regulate and oversee a poorly run food industry, leading to contaminated food in the stores and on your dinner table and you in the emergency room.

This is about a country whose drug suppliers (the major pharmaceutical companies) seem to have way to much political power and influence.

This is about a countries "Microsoft" approach to approving the sale of prescription drugs as if it was the next sub-par full-of-holes operating system; get it out there safe or not and deal with the consequences (in reality casualties) as they come.

This is about a country whose people are finally saying we don't feel our government has our best interest at heart when it comes to our health and that of our families.

I think this skepticism is a long time coming and necessary things are ever going to change.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Healthy Holidays

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it's time to start planning that healthy organic feast.

Even if you're not hosting this year you're most likely a guest of someone who is, and that usually means you're bringing something along. Assuming you're not taking the easy way out with that go-to bottle of cheap wine and store bought pumpkin pie, then this is your chance to shock everyone with something homemade tasty and healthy all wrapped into one.

So if it's a side dish you managed to volunteer for then how about homemade ORGANIC mashed potatoes, or homemade ORGANIC butternut squash, or even homemade ORGANIC cranberry sauce. All of these are a Thanksgiving must-haves and any one of them would truly win over even the pickiest of eaters.

Maybe it's a dessert you were able to reserve, why not make that homemade pumpkin pie an ORGANIC one... or those oatmeal raisin cookies for that matter.

Even if all you were trusted with was a lowly bottle of wine, why not make it a bottle of ORGANIC wine.

Trust me, especially on a day when health is usually the last thing on someone's mind, be the one who stands out in the crowd and goes that extra mile. Whatever you make will surely be a hit and when people start complementing you, you can say "And it was ORGANIC".

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Simply a Better Bird

My wife and I had a "pre-Thanksgiving" Thanksgiving dinner-for-two last night with a 3.5lb bird (chicken not turkey) that we bought from a local Organic Free-Grazing Farm.

Hands down it was the best bird we had ever had!

Now I don't want to give all the credit away because bragging aside I think my wife and I are pretty darn good cooks, but the bird has to get most of the credit here. It's one thing when you're talking about some fancy creative chicken dish that one of us whipped together, but when you're simply talking about a few fresh seasonings (onion, garlic, paprika...) a bird, and a Crockpot well let's just say it's all about the bird.

Are they more expensive than what you buy in the store?

Yes, but there's really no comparison so why shouldn't they be. It's not simply the quality "taste wise" although for some I'm sure that would be enough, but the truth is you're paying for a much healthier happier (yes happier) bird. These birds spend their days grazing the fields eating all that nature intended them to, as opposed to being fed grain and never stepping foot on grass. That means an omega-3 rich and toxin/pesticide/herbicide/drug free diet and a stress free life.

And since you are what you eat, literally...

Of course there's always the "other of chickens"; birds crammed together in some building, beaks clipped, fed diets consisting of corn and other grains (high in omega-6) that were probably sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals prior to harvesting, not to mention the colorful assortment drugs they're probably given to keep them healthy up until slaughter. Even if you're buying an advertised organic free-grazed bird at your local grocery store remember this, to be given the label "free-grazed" the animal only needs access to grass, they never actually have to step foot on it.

So if you want the real deal, go to the source and see for yourself.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Local Organic Farmers

I've written about this topic numerous times, but truthfully I feel it can't be written about enough. I feel very strongly about supporting Local Organic Farmers for many reasons, and I believe at least one of them can appeal to just about everyone.

Maybe it appeals to the "save and preserve mother earth" type, since true organic farming, free of chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides, is the only true way to reap the bounty of the land while giving back and at the same time never harming the environment.

Or maybe it appeals to the animal rights activist in you, since organic free grazed animals (cows, chickens, sheep, pigs...) are often animal welfare certified. This means that the animal being farmed is given the best possible life for as long as it's on this planet. Sure you can argue that the animal is still eventually being slaughtered, but I would argue that these animals are "farm" animals. In other words, in this ever growing urban sprawling land in which we live in, if there were no farms then most if not all these animals would probably cease to exist. So if the choice is feed lots overcrowded with cows standing in their own feces, or chickens packed together so tightly they actually have to have their beaks removed so they don't peck and harm the other chickens around them strictly out of boredom, or the pigs packed together so tightly they have to have their tails clipped for the same reason, and none of these animals ever stepping foot on grass... if the choice is between this or organic free grazed animal welfare certified local farms, well it's really a no brainer.

Or maybe this topic appeals to the "pro-community" side of you, encouraging and even supporting businesses in your area.

And even if none of these reasons appeal to you then maybe for selfish reasons alone you realize the importance of organic farming and free grazed animals to YOUR HEALTH!

Support this for your own reasons, but support it none the less.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What Soft Drinks are Doing to Your Body

I thought this was a great article concerning a beverage that is consumed way too much in this country, especially by children.

Soda will kill you, maybe not immediately but it is no doubt a front-runner as one of the leading causes of many of the health problems plaguing our our nation especially obesity and diabetes. There are some things that just shouldn't be consumed, even in moderation it will do it's dirty deed in laying the ground work for a very unhealthy future.

A Must Read by Dr. Mao

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ginger Curry Chicken with Warm Potato Salad

It may sound like an odd combination of flavors, but trust me it makes for a great meal!

2 Chicken Breasts
2 cloves of Garlic
Freshly Grated Ginger Root
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Curry Powder

Marinate the chicken breasts in the olive oil, crushed garlic, grated ginger, and curry powder for a few hours if possible (the longer the better). Bake at 400F until cooked (~30min).

Potato Salad
2 potatoes cut into bite size pieces (w/skins)
1/2 c Canola Mayo
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (with the "mother")
Onion (chopped)
1 clove of Garlic (minced)
Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper to taste

Cut the potatoes (w/skins) into bite size pieces and boil until soft (~15min), then drain water and set aside. In a separate bowl combine all of the other ingredients and mix together, then add potatoes. Mix everything well and serve warm.

My wife and I always use Organic Ingredients in all of our recipes and hope you will as well.

Fall Mashed Potatoes

With fall comes the changing colors from the many shades of green to all the vibrant colors of autumn. So Why not let your meals follow suit...

Try my Mashed Sweet Potatoes and bring out the "fall" in your meal. (serves 2)

*2 Large Organic Sweet Potatoes
*1/2 Medium Organic Onion (sliced)
*4 Large Cloves of Organic Garlic (crushed)
* Organic Unrefined Olive Oil
* Your Favorite milk replacement
(I like hazel nut milk for this)
* Sea salt and Cracked Pepper to taste

Combine water olive oil and a pinch of sea salt in a medium size pot and bring to a boil. Cut the potatoes into small wedges and add them to the boiling water; cook until they can be easily pierced with a fork (~15min). Drain the water and transfer the potatoes to a bowl; mash the potatoes. Add some olive oil to the pot and return to stove over med heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions begin to look translucent in appearance (5-10 min). Add the mashed sweet potatoes and some nut milk and stir. Let simmer over low heat for a few minutes then serve.


Diet vs Depression

Listening to the news on the way in to work today I heard them mention a study being done (in France I believe) as to the effects your diet has on depression; more specifically poor diets high in processed foods.

The number of people especially children being diagnosed and treated with prescriptions for some form of depression on a yearly basis is dramatically increasing at an alarming rate. If you do some research you will see that the numbers are very disturbing.

I think it's great that such studies are being done and I think the medical community should start putting a lot more stock into diet as the cause for many of the illnesses and chronic conditions that plague our society. Modern medicine and medical practices have proven to be very effective in emergency treatment situations and I wouldn't want to live in any other country for that reason alone, but unfortunately this same medical community has proven to be simply horrible at curing or preventing diseases and chronic illnesses. They would rather look in any other direction then in that of basic human health (dietary needs, importance of vitamin and mineral supplements, fresh organic whole foods over processed foods...) resulting in a very arrogant "incurable" label put on just about everything; diabetes... no cure, cancer... no cure, heart disease... no cure, chronic anything... no cure.

I hope this study proves what I've read numerous times in numerous books by numerous authors, that a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle is not only the best preventative medicine but can also cure what ails you.

Start living healthy today!

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