Browsing Category: health/nutrition info

When should I buy organic?

strawberries

I don’t always buy organic fruits and veggies. It depends on the prices, and how much of the food I’m going to eat, and how easy the surface is to wash. And also taste! Organic strawberries and carrots taste so much better than conventional!

But another factor is which foods tend to be most pesticide-laden. Every year, the Environmental Working Group puts together a handy two-part report card called the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen.”

Here’s the list for 2015. (It usually doesn’t change much from year to year. But you can always google “clean fifteen” for the given year.)

What to buy organic - Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen - 2015

 

‪#‎foodismedicine #buyorganic – when you can.

15 tips to make eating healthy easier

15 tips to make eating paleo & Whole30 easier

I recently read a “30 Tips” post on Rubies and Radishes that had some great suggestions to make eating Paleo easier.Most of them will apply to any real-food diet.

But… compulsive editor that I am, I edited it down to what I thought were the best 15 tips for eating Paleo/real food, and add a few helpful items and notes of my own. Here you go!

1. When you’re just starting, plan out meals and snacks several days in advance. This keeps you from caving in on busy days. Once you get the hang of cooking and eating this new way, it will be easier to throw together meals from your well-stocked kitchen. (You might want to read about how I stock my kitchen for easy meals.)

2. If planning all your meals seems overwhelming, try it in phases. Most people don’t need a lot of variety in breakfast, so find one or two healthy breakfasts that work for you and get those nailed down. Figure out how to prep your breakfast so it’s a no-brainer in the morning. (Here are some no-brainer breakfast options.) Then find a few lunches that work for you. (If you eat out for lunch, check out my Eating Paleo/Whole30 When Eating Out post.) Then move on to planning dinners.

3. For encouragement and inspiration, join Paleo Facebook pages. Here are a few:

Also, if you’re on Instagram, follow me at @janalovesrealfood: I often post easy lunches and dinners there, as well as Paleo-friendly restaurant dishes.

For example, here’s a tip from my Instagram pages: a breadless BLT kit using romaine leaves as a wrap makes an easy summer lunch!

Paleo made easier - breadless BLT

4. Cook meat in bulk, but don’t freeze it in a huge chub: portion it out into easy-to-thaw portions before putting it in the freezer. Hamburger, pulled pork, chicken, and your favorite kinds of sausage are all handy to have ready to deploy. You can also cook bacon in big batches and keep it in the fridge or freezer. Have you tried cooking it in the oven? So easy!

5. Dedicate time to prep ingredients every week. Or, if it works better for you, every evening after dinner, prep what you’ll need for tomorrow’s meal(s). Thaw anything that’s frozen. Chop up ingredients. Pre-mix seasonings or sauces. I’ve collected a few tips on ingredient prep, too.

6. Paleo eating and meal planning takes time to adjust to. Give yourself time and grace. Keep at it — it will get easier! It’s only hard until it’s routine.

7. Read labels. Learn to recognize sugar in all its disguises. Yeah, it’s overwhelming and kind of depressing at first, but it’s a necessary education.

cool-whip-lies-480

8. Don’t spend too much time trying to figure out how to substitute or recreate the unhealthy food you once ate. Instead of mourning the loss of food that makes you feel yucky, celebrate new food discoveries that make you feel great! As you stick with this, your taste buds will change and junk food will become less and less appealing.

9. Explore Paleo blogs and books. The more Paleo knowledge you have, the easier it is to stick with your new lifestyle! (Check out my books page.)

10. When you make dinner, make extra. Enjoy it for breakfast (yes, you can!) or lunch the next day, or pack it in the freezer for an easy future meal.

11. One of the hardest things about eating Paleo (or your personal version of it) is the social pressure to eat junk. Always have a plan before going to social gatherings. And focus on how that food is going to make you feel tomorrow! Tell yourself, “When I eat crap, I feel like crap.”

Can you eat that? I can, but I feel better if I don't.

12. Eat a satisfying meal before you go to parties so you won’t be tempted by unhealthy choices. Drink plenty of water while you’re there. Focus on enjoying the people, not the food.

13. If it’s a pot luck, bring your own Paleo dish (or two), because that might be your only healthy choice!

14. Likewise, have a plan for how you’ll eat when meeting friends at restaurants. Study up on tips for Eating Paleo/Whole30 When Eating Out.

15. Remember to get the sleep you need every night, and drink plenty of water. And several times a week, if not every day, try to get a little sunshine and gentle exercise.

BONUS TIP: Expect ups and downs! Give yourself grace if you slip up. As Melissa Hartwig says in Food Freedom Forever, “Insulting yourself over your food choices is perhaps the most damaging behavior of all.”

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Want to cook more healthy at home, but daunted by the meal planning?

Check out my “Meal Plan for People Who Hate to Meal Plan

It’s FREE when you sign up for my monthly newsletter!

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* (Read the original Rubies and Radishes post here, if you have a few minutes.)

Love it? Tweet it! Pin it! 🙂

 

Tips to make eating Paleo easier

The miraculous factory: You

As a hobby, Eric Holubow seeks out abandoned architectural spaces — like old factories, churches, theatres, and prisons. The spaces are usually in some state of decay, and Eric photographs them as an art project, but with a journalistic feel.

Here is one example, from the original article:

Designed in an inspiring Neo-classical style… the massive Richmond Power Station in northeastern Philadelphia was built in 1925…. The plant’s Turbine Hall, one of the biggest open rooms ever designed, once housed the world’s largest Westinghouse turbo-generators, which provided power to the city’s bustling industrial and residential sectors. Closed since 1985, the plant has been used as a set in a number of Hollywood feature films. Ironically, crews that use the structure have to provide their own power generators, as the dormant plant is… no longer connected to the region’s electrical grid.

factory/power plant - photo by eric holubow

I share his fascination for things crumbling, rusty, and history-laden — but that’s not what this post is about.

It’s about you.

Continue Reading

Cream and half-and-half; prices and ingredients compared

Organic Valley - cream ingredients + cost

My husband drinks copious amounts of cream every day in his coffee, and for ages I just picked up the Kroger brand cream at Dillon’s. Then one day I noticed that the ingredients list included more than just cream…

Kroger brand cream ingredients

What the… ?

Food and health geek that I am, of course I had to look all those things up.

I frequently refer to Chris Kresser’s site, because he seems to do a good job of looking carefully at what the facts say, not just passing on the latest hysteria. His take on carrageenan:

“Carrageenan has been frequently portrayed as significantly more harmful than is supported by available evidence. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a known carcinogen, and although some studies implicate carrageenan in ulceration and inflammation, some show no adverse effects…. Because the evidence isn’t conclusive either way, I recommend avoiding carrageenan, especially if you have a history of digestive problems.”  (source)

(Interesting side note: Carrageenan also shows up frequently in soy milk and almond milk.)

Mono and diglycerides are synthetic fats derived from either vegetable oils (not a good thing) or animal fats. (source)

Polysorbate worries me a bit. Some mice studies have shown that “relatively low concentrations” of polysorbate-80 “induced low-grade inflammation and obesity/metabolic syndrome in wild-type [mice] and promoted robust colitis in mice predisposed to this disorder.” (source)

In English? If the mice study holds true for humans, even a small intake of polysorbate-80 could cause general inflammation and/or pre-diabetes in anyone, and severe colitis in people who are genetically prone to colitis.

So, not conclusive evidence, and not terribly precise. But if I can find an easily accessible, not too expensive alternative, I’ll go for it.

Which of course means more research! So I hit a couple stores and gathered some intel. This isn’t exhaustive research, by any means, but it does make me feel like I’ve done my homework and can make an informed decision.

Here are various brands of cream available at Dillon’s and Whole Foods Market in Wichita KS, and their ingredients and cost per ounce.

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Kroger - cream ingredients + cost

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Hildebrand - cream ingredients - cost

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Organic Valley - cream ingredients + cost

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Kalona - cream ingredients + cost

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And, just to be thorough, here’s some info on half-and-half, as well:

Kroger - half-and-half ingredients + cost

Note: Disodium phosphate and sodium citrate are salts used to preserve foods or improve their consistency. I couldn’t find any research on either of them.

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Kalona - half-and-half ingredients + cost

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So, my research concludes: The most pure options are the Hildebrand cream, the Kalona cream, and the Kalona half-and-half. Of these, the Hildebrand cream and the Kalona half-and-half are the cheapest and similar in price.

Note: Hildebrand products come in glass bottles which cost an additional amount for deposit, but if you return them to the store, the deposit is completely refunded. Whether it’s worth the extra hassle is your call.

Changing your diet starts with changing your mind… and then your kitchen

change the way you think to change the way you eat

Changing your diet comes down to some really practical things. And if you can break it down and look at it as a series of small changes, it becomes much less daunting.

I love these seven strategies that Dr. Mark Hyman suggests for revolutionizing your eating habits. And I think the number one item is especially smart:

1. Change your mind about cooking. When you view cooking as an act of love that you share with your family, you strengthen bonds, teach important life-extending skills to your children, and enrich and nourish your bodies and your souls.

How would it change your kitchen if you saw preparing food as an awesome privilege?

This has certainly been the case for me! I used to view cooking dinner as drudgery; now I see it as a creative outlet, and a way to thank my husband for working hard all day! And to bless any friends or family who might be joining us.

(Yes, I work too, but I have more freedom in my schedule than he does, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. Creating a healthy, enjoyable meal is one of the ways I show that gratitude. When he retires, there will be more sharing of the load!)

2. Keep staples nearby. …3. Choose frozen. While fresh foods in the produce aisles are ideal, frozen berries, vegetables, and other foods make longer-lasting alternatives. You can stock up and have [them] on hand in your kitchen for healthy, easy meals when you can’t get to the market or these items are out of season.

Some items I try to always have stocked in my kitchen: a bag of onions, fresh spinach and/or romaine, carrots, celery, cooked/diced sweet potato, tuna, one or more kinds of already-cooked meat, eggs, avocado (or Wholly Guacamole singles), and coconut milk. In the freezer: more meat (cooked or not), mahi mahi, shrimp, frozen berries and/or cherries, green beans and other veggies. More detail in my how I stock my kitchen post.

4. Reclaim your kitchen. Establish your kitchen as the ground-zero family meeting place and establish it exclusively for cooking and socializing.

clear off the kitchen table!

This one challenges me! I think we (me and the hubs) need to kick the laptops out of our kitchen. The clutter we accumulate nearby quickly takes over. (True confession: I tidied up a bit before taking the above picture of my end of the kitchen table!)

5. Re-evaluate your time. Time is the biggest excuse why many of my patients don’t cook. Keep a journal for one week to monitor your time. You might be surprised at how you spend your time.

I highly recommend this! I think most of us would find ourselves much happier and healthier if we gave up a few rounds of Candy Crush or a couple hours of TV or internet or “retail therapy” on the weekend to spend a little more time planning and prepping meals for the week.

6. Make mistakes. If you’re new to cooking or your skills have gotten rusty, don’t aim for perfection with your first recipe—aim for experimenting and practicing. Start with… basic recipes with few ingredients and work your way up to something more complex.

Yes, yes, yes! Just try stuff! Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t come out great. Learn and move ahead!

7. Get everyone involved. Enlist help from family members—drag your kids away from their video games and ask them to measure ingredients, pull food from the fridge, or even chop veggies if they’re ready to take on this task. Decide on meals together to get everyone excited about what’s in store.

Again — Amen! If you don’t have kids, make it time with your spouse, friend, or sister. Or, if you’re an introvert, choose your favorite music, crank it up, and relish the alone time!

If you do have kids, and if having all the kids in the kitchen at once is a sure recipe for chaos and bickering, take one kid at a time and make it a special one-on-one time for the two of you. Let them choose the music. Infect them with a love for preparing good, healthy food! (Spoken from one who wishes she’d done it this way early on. Oh well, maybe with grandkids.)

Start kids (or yourself) off with something fun and easy, like cookies (they could be Paleo! like these coconut cookies), and work your way up to healthier, more complex stuff. My daughter’s love for cooking began early — mostly in her grandma’s kitchen!

changing your diet starts in the kitchen!

 

By the time she was twelve, she was able to make chicken noodle soup from scratch, all by herself. Ten (fast!) years later, she’s now married and easily handles the day-to-day cooking. (I’m so proud of you, Sweetie!)

So don’t make changing your diet overly complicated. Start with learning a little more about prepping and cooking food, with simple dishes, and with changing your mind about creating meals!

(One way to learn? Follow me on Instagram. I often shoot a quick pic of my easiest meals and post them there with brief notes about what went into them. @janalovesrealfood )

“Changing your mind” typography by dudebeawsome on Instagram

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Ready to cut refined sugar and/or grains out of your diet –

but still want to enjoy sweets?

Check out my cookbook…

 sugar-free dessert cookbook now available

Why some foods are more addictive than others

why this food is so addictive

A new study has assessed which foods are more addictive to humans. The authors argue that, like drugs, foods that are highly processed and unnaturally combined start to become more “potent,” and, therefore, addictive.

Following are excerpts from the original article on Forbes.com:

 For instance, chewing a coca leaf doesn’t give a very strong high, but condensing it into cocaine and making it snort-able sure does. So too with foods whose elements are refined and combined in various clever ways – food labs spend lots of time on these calculations – until they become very “high-potency.”

“Addictive substances are rarely in their natural state,” the authors of the new study point out, “but have been altered or processed in a manner that increases their abuse potential. For example, grapes are processed into wine and poppies are refined into opium. A similar process may be occurring within our food supply.”

The ranking [that the study produced] suggests that it’s really the combination of fat and carbs that makes food addictive. And this is probably because our brains are not used to coming across foods that are both high in fat and high in sugar – natural foods are usually high in just one or the other.

So putting these two ingredients together into some wondrously unnatural and magical combination makes the brain go wild. “It is plausible that like drugs of abuse,” say the authors, “these highly processed foods may be more likely to trigger addictive-like biological and behavioral responses due to their unnaturally high levels of reward.”

book: it starts with food

So, maybe your struggle to eat well isn’t just about willpower! Maybe that junk food has a built-in addictive quality.

Want to know more about addictive foods? This book — It Starts With Food — by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig delves into it, also giving you the tools you need to break free from what they call “food without brakes” — amped-up foods that trigger cravings for more, more, more.

Find this and other informative books here.

 

 

Is fat healthy? Experts now saying fat as evil “has no basis in science.”

fat is healthy again - enjoy that bacon!

Until recently, asking “Is fat healthy?” would get you a look of disbelief from most people.

But the tide is turning.

Consider these excerpts from a June 24, 2015 article on Forbes.com:

The latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans – the government-sanctioned recommendations about what we should and shouldn’t eat – will include a game-changing edit: There’s no longer going to be a recommended upper limit on total fat intake.

Here’s why fats are coming back into style. The fats restriction largely stemmed from the fact that saturated fat was once thought to be a major culprit in heart disease – and this somehow extended to all fats. But in recent years, it seems that saturated fat may not be so bad, and may even be good in some ways (as in its effects on HDL or “good” cholesterol)…. This is especially true when compared to a diet high in refined carbs…. In fact, refined carbs and added sugars, which have typically been the alternative to fats, are linked to a laundry list of health ailments.

Placing limits on total fat intake has no basis in science and leads to all sorts of wrong industry and consumer decisions,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, one of the authors of the new paper. “Modern evidence clearly shows that eating more foods rich in healthful fats like nuts, vegetable oils, and fish have protective effects, particularly for cardiovascular disease. Other fat-rich foods, like whole milk and cheese, appear pretty neutral; while many low-fat foods, like low-fat deli meats, fat-free salad dressing, and baked potato chips, are no better and often even worse than full-fat alternatives….”

Research has shown that high-carb diets, which have typically been the fallout of the low-fat movement, increase the risk of metabolic dysfunction, obesity, and even heart disease….

This echoes what the Harvard School of Public Health has been saying for some time:

Findings from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study show no link between the overall percentage of calories from fat and any important health outcome, including cancer, heart disease, and weight gain. (source)

Need another big name to convince you? I just ran across a stunning article from the Wall Street Journal. It’s kind of a long read, but if you want to learn how we got off on such a wrong track for so long, what role Big Food had in the early success of the American Heart Association, and why high total cholesterol may actually be good for women over 50 — yeah, you read that right…

If anything, high total cholesterol levels in women over 50 were found early on to be associated with longer life.

— then this read is well worth your time: The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

Now, go enjoy some real food!

 

Is fat healthy? Yes -- filet for dinner!
I believe the science: had filet for dinner!