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.

20-day diet prep plan: Day 19 – salad lab and quiz

make some salad; creamy italian dressing

If you haven’t already read and done Day 20, start there. Seriously; you have to. Today depends on it!

Today’s two assignments: Experiment with salads, and take a couple quick quizzes.

Assignment 1: Make some salads

paleo food gift; creamy italian dressing

Remember those groceries you bought yesterday, based on Day 20? (No? See, I told you you have to start at the beginning!) Make two or three different kinds of homemade dressing, and play around with salad contents. Make yourself a few mini salads, and eat your experiments. Call it lunch or dinner. You might also prep a salad for lunch tomorrow.

Notes for packing salads: You can pack greens and vegetables together, but don’t pack anything containing salt or sugar with the greens or veggies. The chemicals will break down the cell walls and make them wilt. This includes cheese, salted nuts, dressing, and cooked meats, including bacon and salami. Here are some more great tips for packing salads, from The Kitchn.

Assignment 2: Take two easy quizzes

Take these quizzes to help determine which diet might be best for you right now.

You don’t need to figure out what diet is best or commit to anything today. I’ll give you some more guidance over the next few days, regarding what to do with your results.

Prep plan, Day 19

New Year, New Diet: 20-Day Prep Plan! (And my salad equation)

20-day prep plan for starting a new diet

Are you thinking about starting a new diet — excuse me — a new way of eating at the beginning of the new year? Good for you!

applauding minions

 

Why not stack the odds for success in your favor? Instead of just diving in unprepared on January 1, use these last three weeks of December to gird your loins for battle! I’m here to help.

Every day, I’ll be posting an activity or two that will help you mentally or physically prepare for a fresh start on January 1. The weekday assignments will usually be pretty light; the Saturday and Sunday assignments will involve a little more time. But this is time that will pay forward to bring you greater success next month.

And since we’re starting on Saturday, we’re going to dive right into it! Your assignment for today: make a grocery list then do some shopping.

Get groceries for healthy salads

One of the things that can make or break your efforts to stick to healthy eating is knowing a few easy meals that you can throw together based on things that you always have on hand.

Salads are an easy meal, and can be a healthy choice that fits into almost any diet plan — as long as the dressing isn’t full of sugar, corn syrup, and other sugary things.

Here’s my equation for creating a delicious salad:

Greens + onions + something sweet and tangy + something crunchy and maybe salty + cheese (optional) + protein (optional) + dressing, including some healthy fat!

Your greens can be spinach, romaine, kale, mixed baby greens, or any combination. Iceberg lettuce contains few nutrients, though, so you’re better off with something else.

Onions can be white, yellow, green or red, or they may be blended into the dressing. If you’re concerned about onions overpowering your salad, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes or so, then drain them before adding to the salad.

Sweet and tangy is usually fruit, but can also be vegetable. Tomatoes are popular, as are craisins or other dried fruit. Consider other possibilities: fresh berries such as blueberries or sliced strawberries; diced apple or pear; or chunks of mango, orange, tangerine, or grapefruit. Diced cooked sweet potato is another nice option.

Avoid relying on croutons for your crunchy item. Nuts are gluten-free, low carb, and higher in nutrition. Skip anything candied or sugared; use raw or toasted pecans, walnuts, cashews, pepitas, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, almonds slivered or sliced… You get the idea! Crisp/crunchy veggies also work well: celery, jicama, cabbage. Crispy bacon is another solid option. Cuz bacon makes everything better! And a few crumbles of real, good quality bacon is not a diet breaker.

If you’re not avoiding dairy, cheese makes a nice addition to many salads. Popular choices include feta, blue cheese, and goat cheese. Parmesan and cheddar are appropriate for certain salads. Anything is possible, though. Except Velveeta. Please: never Velveeta!

If you’re going to make your salad a meal, some thinly-sliced, already-cooked meats will bring the protein you need. Chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, tuna, leftover salmon or crabcakes are all fair game! Eggs are another possibility: hard-boiled and chopped, or fried and laid on top! (Just look up #putaneggonit on Instagram!)

We’ll talk more in the coming days about the error of low-fat thinking, but for now, please just trust me on this: your salad needs fat! Lack of fat is one of the things that will make you hungry again in an hour or two. (Sugar is the other.) So replacing those low-fat, sugar-filled, store-bought dressings with healthy, whole-food, homemade dressings is going to make a huge difference in the frequency and strength of your cravings.

While there’s great controversy about which fats are healthy and which are not, pretty much everyone agrees on these: olive oil and avocados. Bacon, cheese, eggs, and nuts are other possibilities, but more controversial.

So make sure you have a good quality 100% extra virgin olive oil on your grocery list. (My favorite everyday brand: California Olive Ranch. Because it’s made in America, I figure it’s fresher, which is important. You can get it at Dillon’s and World Market. Possibly other places, but I know those two for certain.)

Oh, and this is not a hard-and-fast rulebook (except for the low-sugar, some-fat rule); just a few parameters to get you started. There are no salad police!

Not sure how to combine these? Study some online restaurant menus for inspiration, or search for salads on allrecipes.com, or your other favorite food blog.

Here are a few of my favorites:

 

antipasto salad

Sugar-free salad dressings

sugar-free poppy seed dressingI have several sugar-free salad dressing recipes on this site. Peruse these and pick out two or three you’d like to try:

Now make a grocery list of salad and dressing ingredients based on what you’d like to try, and hit the store! (If Creamy Italian is one of your picks, go ahead and make it today; it tastes better when the ingredients have had several hours to mellow and blend.)

Want to follow along for the rest of the countdown? You can do that by…

Like this page? – Please pin it!

20-day prep plan for starting a new diet

15 Smart Tips to Make Eating Paleo EASIER!

Tips to make eating Paleo easier

I recently read a “30 Tips” post on Rubies and Radishes that had some great suggestions to make eating Paleo easier.*

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

tips: make eating Paleo easier

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 Paleo, 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 Paleo-friendly breakfasts that work for you and get those nailed down. 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, find me at @janalovesrealfood: I often post easy lunches and dinners there, as well as Paleo-friendly restaurant dishes. You can also search #paleocooking and #paleofood on IG. Or just search #paleobreakfast, or #paleolunch.

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; save in easy-to-thaw portions 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. 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.

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 non-Paleo 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! Here are some of my favorite nutrition books, in my Amazon store. (Not all Paleo, but related.)

5 books on healing food

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 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.

New to eating gluten-free? Or thinking of going Paleo?

Check out my 20-Day Countdown to a New Way of Eating!

* (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.

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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.

Your four hungers. And why you should stop feeling guilty for every craving.

your 4 hungers

You are a four-part person: heart, soul, mind, body; and each of these parts has its own hunger.

Your heart hungers to be known and loved, and to love in return.

Your soul hungers to be filled with truth and peace and to be awed by something bigger than you.

Your mind has a hunger to be challenged by learning, discovery, creativity, or problem solving.

And your body has a hunger for food and water.

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