health, n, nutrition, organic

Organic foods – An investment to your health!

Kyle Simpson recently contacted me to write a post on Organic foods for The Clean Eating Mama’s readers. I am a big supporter of Organic foods and how important they are to us and the environment. Thanks again, Kyle!
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The Benefits of Eating Organic and Ways to find it on a Budget
Kyle Simpson writes for Medical Coding Certification where you can find more information about a career and training in the medical field. 
Have you joined the bandwagon of eating organic? Studies touting the health and environmental benefits of organic foods have made them more popular than ever. More than 70% of consumers have at least one organic product on their shopping lists, according to one market research firm.
There are lots of reasons for buying organic foods: foods haven’t been doused in pesticides, organic food has higher nutrient levels and better flavor, and you don’t have to worry about additives like hydrogenated fats, artificial colors or preservatives. In addition, when you buy organic meat you know it’s free from any growth hormones and grown in a natural environment.
Organic foods not only benefit your health, but also the environment. By buying organic, you won’t be consuming food grown using harmful chemicals which pollute the environment.
So you’re sold on organic food, but the next question is can you afford it? Organic produce, meat and dairy products can cost 50% to 100% more than conventional counterparts.  Organic foods may be healthier for you, but they can have a sickening effect on your budget.
However, do not lose hope. There are ways to shop organic for less. Here are a few tips:
  • Prioritize the items you feel would benefit you and your family the most. The conventional counterparts to some foods are laden with pesticides and harmful hormones, foods such as apples, lettuce, tomatoes, berries, beef and poultry, and spinach. On the other hand, produce such as bananas, papayas, pineapples, and broccoli require fewer pesticides to grow. The peels on bananas and other tropical fruits further reduce your exposure. If you can afford them, buy all your produce organic, but it you can’t, try not to buy the fruits and vegetables most susceptible to pesticide residue.
  • Read labels. Seafood, cosmetics and cleaning products can be labeled “organic” without the same requirement as the U.S. Department of Agriculture imposes on vegetables and meat. You’ll pay premium prices with no guarantees.
  • Keep an eye out for sales. Yep, organic products go on sale the same as other products. Watch for coupons or discounts advertised in circulars. Be flexible and stock up when something goes on sale. Also, buy fruits and veggies that are in season.
  • Your local farmer’s market can be a great place to buy organic food. Competition helps keep down prices. Also try community-supported agriculture programs.
  • Shop generics. Many supermarkets are adding organic lines to their private labels which allows you to save money over big-name brands.
  • Try growing your own vegetables and fruit in your own backyard or join a community garden.
Can you afford to eat organic? It’s a personal choice, but you might be surprised how much the average family spends on junk food, carry-out food, alcohol and tobacco. Organic food can be seen as an investment to your health and well being.
food, health, nutrition

Playing Favorites

We all have our favorite foods. The ones we must always have in our pantry or fridge. Believe me, I have a lot! But there are a few that I always have, no matter what.

Brown Rice
2956234We all know how important eating whole grains are. I have been cooking large batches of brown rice in a water / low sodium vegetable broth mixture, keeping it in the fridge and warming it up on a daily basis. Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate that provides 15 essential nutrients, including B-vitamins, niacin and potassium. It has a low glycemic index (GI), like raw vegetables and fruits, which reduces sugar spikes in our bodies. Why is this important? High glycemic foods break down quickly and act like sugar, giving a spike of insulin in our bodies. These spikes cause weight gain, sugar cravings and could eventually cause diabetes.  
I love eating brown rice with roasted or steamed vegetables – a simple, yet satisfying meal.

Avocados
ganze und halbe avocado isoliert auf weiss
Avocado’s have been given a bad name by some for their fat content. But this is why avocados are so healthy for us! They contain large amounts of monounsaturated fat which is “the good fat” for humans, especially for women. They also reduce LDL cholesterol, which is the harmful kind, and increase HDL, good cholesterol. Their creamy texture and delicious taste pairs well with so many items! Eat them sliced, diced or smashed! I toss them in my salads, top my eggs with them, smash them on veggie sandwiches and enjoy them plain.

Beans and Lentils
No wonder beans are named the Magical Fruit. They have a high amount of soluble fiber making this an ideal staple food for those that do not eat meat. They also deliver B vitamins such as folic acid, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron – very important for pregnant and nursing women. They are used for meat substitutes, dips, milks, as a binder in recipes and even desserts! Looking for a great vegan veggie burger? Try my Bean Burgers!

Nuts
Nuts are a great source of fiber, Omega fats and over all a perfect food. High in vitamins and nutrients, nuts pack a full punch of sustainable energy and nutrition. Walnuts are known to have the highest amount of good fat, omega 3’s. I buy raw nuts in bulk – almonds, cashews, pine nuts, pecans and walnuts. But because nuts are tightly packed with nutrients and fat, they are still calorie loaded you only need a small amount to benefit from their nutrients. Go with a handful or about a 1/4 cup. But be careful of pre-packaged nuts as they can have a high amount of sodium. Try them in salads, oatmeal, pancakes, baked goods, cereal, granola, with steamed or roasted vegetables… the ideas are endless! Or simply have a handful with a piece of fruit for a snack that will curb the mid-day munchies. See how simple it is to make your own Almond Milk, or try my delicious Cashew Cheese Spread.

Greens
Spinach, kale, mustard greens, chard, broccoli … any green plant is a must have in my diet! Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Plus they taste great and versatile. Steamed, cooked in soups and stews, blended and roasted. Americans do not incorporate enough greens in their diet, besides iceberg lettuce (which has near to zero nutrients). Greens need to be part of our daily diets as they contain so many of the essential nutrients our body depends on.

Our health is based on nutrition – we are what we eat. Be conscious about what you are feeding your body. Eat a variety of plant based foods, limiting your intake of processed foods and un-natural ingredients.
Mother Earth created plants for a reason. Enjoy them!

What are some of your favorite foods?

clean eating, faq, health, nutrition

Bloat – oh my!

Question of the day: I recently (within the last month) began eating vegan/vegetarian. Does the bloat/gas ever go away? Oy! Thanks! Trysha

Bloating This is a very common problem with new vegans and vegetarians, and happens to everyone! While it is rather annoying, rest assure you are not alone in this little, uncomfortable problem. And depending on what you were eating before – and many of us were eating cheeseburgers and fries – the journey into eating a cleaner, vegetarian/vegan diet can be a shock to our intestines.

Vegetables are loaded with fiber and alkalinity – meaning, they are very cleansing! And due to the fact that our bodies were being filled with grease and processed foods, there are a lot of unwanted toxins being stored in our digestive tracts. When we eat foods that are naturally high in fiber, it wakes up those toxins and pushes them out. The release is most likely to cause gas and bloating, but could also cause diarrhea.

Like I mentioned, these symptoms will calm down, leaving your tummy happy and quiet again. My digestive tract is healthy and regular now that I have cleaned up my eating. For years I suffered from constipation, severe abdominal pain and discomfort. If I had only known that eating a plant based diet would alleviate ALL of my digestive problems, I would have made this change years ago.

While you are waiting for your body to get back to feeling normal, here are some ways you can help the transition:

  • Be a food detective. Foods effect us all differently. I suggest examining and make note of what you are eating and when your gas/bloating occurs. For me, soy based products make me feel bloated (tofu, soy milk, faux meats). I try to limit my intake of such foods.
  • Drink your H2O. My water intake helps with my digestion. When I feel dehydrated I feel very bloated.
  • Get some exercise. Walking and/or running can help get things moving down there, literally. Remember, we have gas because our body is getting rid of toxins. And when we are active it helps the process speed up and lets us get back to feeling normal.

One suggestion I have for anyone wanting to transition into eating cleaner, whether that means omnivore, vegetarian, vegan or raw, is transition s l o w l y. Going from black to white over night will only add more discomfort. Your body is delicate and needs time to get used to new foods, and a new way of eating and living.

I hope that give you some peace of mind, Trysha! Good luck on your journey!

Healthy eating,
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health, nutrition

New Year – New Food!

Must have foods for the New Year
Alana Sugar wrote an article about her Top 10 foods that needs to be incorporated into our diet. Some of the items include quinoa, blueberries, nuts and beans. You can read her entire blog list here – it’s a great read!
I wasn’t surprised to read that most of her foods were on my same list of favorites. Here are some of them that I try to incorporate more of on a daily and weekly basis.
Quinoa (keen-wa)

I love Quinoa! By far the best food around! Sadly, I find that too many people are not aware of this super-seed – it’s a shame! It has eight essential amino acids and is considered a complete protein. It also delivers fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A and E – making it a staple food in vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets. It makes a wonderful side dish and a main dish for any meal. With a nutty flavor and a slight crunchy texture, quinoa so versatile you can pair it with any meat or vegetable combo.
If you have not tried quinoa yet now is the time! You can find it in any health food store, as well as the organic and bilk section at your regular market. I buy mine at Costco as I can get a HUGE bag! Just make sure you rinse the seed prior to cooking it – if not it will taste bitter.
Avocado
Avocado’s have been given a bad name by some for their fat content. But this is why avocados are so healthy for us! They contain large amounts of monounsaturated fat which is “the good fat” for humans, especially for women. They also reduce LDL cholesterol, which is the harmful kind, and increase HDL, good cholesterol. Their creamy texture and delicious taste pairs well with so many items! Eat them sliced, diced or smashed! I toss them in my salads, top my eggs with them, smash them on veggie sandwiches and enjoy them plain.
Beans and Lentils
No wonder beans are named the Magical Fruit. They have a high amount of soluble fiber making this an ideal staple food for those that do not eat meat. They also deliver B vitamins such as folic acid, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron – very important for pregnant and nursing women. They are used for meat substitutes, dips and as a binder in recipes, even desserts! Looking for a great vegan veggie burger? Try my Bean Burgers!
Nuts
Nuts are a great source of fiber, Omega fats and over all a perfect food. High in vitamins and nutrients, nuts pack a full punch of sustainable energy and nutrition. Walnuts are known to have the highest amount of good fat, omega 3’s. I buy raw nuts in bulk – almonds, cashews, pine nuts, pecans and walnuts. But because nuts are tightly packed with nutrients and fat, they are still calorie loaded you only need a small amount to benefit from their nutrients. Go with a handful or about a 1/4 cup. But be careful of pre-packaged nuts as they can have a high amount of sodium. Try them in salads, oatmeal, pancakes, baked goods, cereal, granola, with steamed or roasted vegetables… the ideas are endless! Or simply have a handful with a piece of fruit for a snack that will curb the mid-day munchies.
Greens
Spinach, kale, mustard greens, chard, broccoli … any green plant is a must have in my diet! Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Plus they taste great and versatile. Steamed, cooked in soups and stews, blended and roasted. Americans do not incorporate enough greens in their diet, besides iceberg lettuce (which has near to zero nutrients). Greens need to be part of our daily diets as they contain so many of the essential nutrients our body depends on.
Our health is based on nutrition – we are what we eat. Be conscious about what you are feeding your body; eat a variety of plant based foods, limiting your intake of processed. Mother Earth created plants for a reason. Enjoy them!