Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Canned Foods & Soups = Poison to our bodies

This article was released last week on canned food and the BPA contained in the lining and it sickens me that the cans are still on store shelves and in your pantry ready to be consumed by your children and yourself. Do you not believe these studies or are you just turning a blind eye to potentially poisoning your children? I grew up on Campbell's soups, Progresso, Spaghettio's and the like - perhaps that's what caused my thyroid disorder...

Here's the article:
People who ate canned soup for a Harvard study had BPA levels 1,200 percent higher than those who ate freshly-made soup. Is it time to nix canned foods from the kitchen?

Eating canned soup can cause the amount of BPA in the body to soar, compared to eating soup made with fresh ingredients, according to findings from the Harvard School of Public Health. BPA — that's bisphenol A, a widely-used chemical found in plastic and canned food packaging — is an endocrine disruptor that some researchers have linked to obesity, breast cancer, neurological disorders and more. The Food and Drug Administration says a small amount of BPA in the body is OK but maintains that its overall health effects are unclear. Meanwhile, Canada has declared BPA a toxin, and Europe has banned BPA in baby bottles. The chemical is thought to be especially harmful to fetuses, infants and young children.

The soup study

To test the amount of BPA absorbed by the body, volunteer participants in the Harvard study ate a can of vegetarian soup each day for five days, while another group ate soup made from fresh ingredients. Then, BPA levels were measured in the participants' urine. For those who ate canned soup, their BPA levels were 1,200 percent higher compared to those who ate freshly-made soup. reports that the Harvard study, first published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to measure how much BPA the body absorbs from canned food. Though the research zeroed in on canned soup, the results likely apply more broadly to other canned foods and beverages, according to

Cabinet overhaul?

The Harvard soup study is part of a growing body of evidence that highlights the dangers of BPA, says Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, the executive director and CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, a Los Angeles-based group that raises the awareness of harmful environmental chemicals. So, is it time to clear canned foods from the kitchen cabinets? "We have to be realistic: especially for busy families, sometimes packaged foods are a necessity," Sarnoff said in an email. "Rather than recommending that parents overhaul their pantries, we hope that parents will read labels and do their own research to make sure the foods they are choosing are the safest possible."

Tips for going BPA-free

  • Look for food manufacturers like Eden Organic that are making the shift to BPA-free packaging.
  • When choosing a refillable water bottle, choose one made of stainless steel, rather than plastic or coated aluminum. 
  • BPA is found on sales receipts from retailers, so wash your hands after shopping.
  • Because BPA is thought to be especially harmful to babies and children, choose BPA-free baby bottles and sippy cups
  • Check your food storage containers as well. Make sure they are BPA-free. Glass is best.
Knowing these facts should make you want to change your food buying habits. But I've told a few people and it's like they could care less. I don't understand it. If you knowingly and repeatedly give your child canned food and soups, you are putting their health at risk. Why won't food manufacturers find an alternative? Ok, I'll get down off my pedestal now...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Holiday 15

You know when you go away to college and gain the "Freshman 15?" Well last year, the period from Halloween to New Years was almost a record gain for me. I vowed to eat clean in September, but didn't set parameters for myself. For example, I was eating platters instead of plates of food. I was gorging on my holiday favorites and by New Year's Day, I was regretting every last bite I put in my mouth. I was eating whole foods for the most part, but too much and not exercising.
So, this year, things are very different. I actually can't eat that much anymore because my stomach has shrunk and too much food leaves me feeling bloated and sluggish. I've learned to eat slower, chew every bite, savor the meal and feel fuller before my plate is finished. I still have a hard time throwing away uneaten food. I think that comes from the years of brainwashing as a child to "finish your plate, there's children starving in Africa." Well, that is true, but forcing yourself or your child to finish his/her plate is a detriment to their health. Kids are born with the ability to know when they are full and they instinctively stop eating. I've had to catch myself a few times when my kids say they are done and I gently nudge to eat a few more bites. I have to respect their tummies and know that pushing them to eat more will only take away that gift of knowing when to say when!
So, this holiday season is going to be different. I've come to realize that if I want to maintain the 31 pound weight loss thus far, I've got to change up some holiday recipes and perhaps even skip making some of my favorites. For example, I'll be revamping my stuffing recipe. I used to use a bag of cubed dressing and a loaf of torn bread - that's going to change.
I also used to make this cabbage casserole with tons of crackers, butter and milk. Now that I'm dairy free and trying to cut back on carbs, this one will go and be replaced with fresh greens like braised kale. I'll probably be disowned if I don't make mashed potatoes, so perhaps I will keep them and just use chicken broth instead of milk.
I'm swapping out pecan pie for pumpkin pie and making homemade marshmallows to put on top of my sweet potatoes.
So, we'll have plenty of veggies, fresh cranberries, a pastured Organic turkey and a yummy pumpkin pie. I don't think anyone will miss what's not there.

Christmas will be a bit tougher. My parents will visit and their eating habits are not the same. Plus, my family sends a big care package full of cookies, fudge, caramels, and treats galore. It's fun to get and savor a treat or two, but if you're like me, I just can't have it in my house or I gorge on it! The temptation is too difficult. Just knowing those warm cookies my mom just pulled out of the oven are right there on the counter is almost too much to bare. I lack sufficient will power. One is not enough. That's why I just stopped buying any kind of treat. There are no cookies, candy or sweets in my house. Does anyone else have this problem? Surely I'm not alone in the "I can't stop eating these delicious cookies" disorder!
I secretly wish I could just run away and hide during the holidays. They are not the simple fun times I enjoyed as a child. Too much shopping, stress, wrapping, card-making, baking, and parties to attend. I think I may even say no to some this year. The less temptation the better. I'm feeling a bit "Scroogey" at the moment. Hmmm...perhaps I just don't want anything to ruin the strides I have made. 31 pounds is a big deal, 2 dress sizes down is huge for me! I've had to go shopping and buy all new pants of course. I have a whole closet full of clothes I can't wear...that's good and bad!
Luckily I have a goal in March. I registered for a half-marathon. Now, I'm not a runner. Not even close! So this is quite a feat for me. Hopefully the running will help work off some of that pie! And a cookie or two!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Menu Planning Ideas

Many of my friends and followers have asked for a list of meals that we eat. I finally put them down on paper. Perhaps it will help me too when it comes to planning our meals! I've started off with just our Fall dinners because I am trying to eat what is in season and available locally. A lot of the dishes are one-pot meals and savory soups. I've listed the recipe source when necessary, but if you have a question on how I prepare something, don't hesitate to ask. Bon appetit!

Fall Menu Planning Ideas:

Main Dish
Chicken/Shrimp Pad Thai (Food
Roast Lemon Chicken in Deep Dish Baker
Chicken Enchiladas
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
Chicken Tacos with bell peppers & onions
Pot roast Meatloaf (Jamie Oliver)
Ribolita Soup
Butternut Squash/Apple Soup
Tilapia (Veracruz-style, pan-seared and panko crusted)
Broiled Salmon (Asian style, honey/ginger, mustard/honey sauce)
Seared Sea Scallops
Crab Cakes
Pork Tenderloin
Pork Chops
Garlicky Veg Stir-fry (w/ pork, chicken, shrimp)
Chicken Cassoulet (
Beef Stew
Beef & Barley Soup
Pot Roast with carrots and potatoes
Beef Bourguignon (Julia Child’s)
White Chicken Chili (Tosca Reno)
Spaghetti & Meatballs (Family recipe)

Steamed Broccoli
Roasted Vegetables with herbs and EVOO (carrots, potatoes, parsnips, cauliflower)
Quinoa with grilled zucchini and feta
Steamed green beans
Sautéed Mushrooms
Orzo with Feta
Raw Kale Salad (Mark Bittman)
Braised Kale
Braised Collard Greens
Brown Rice Pilaf
Couscous with veggies
Sweet Potato Oven Fries
Beans & Greens
Roasted Butternut Squash
Sautéed Sweet Bell Peppers

 Until next time...Eat Real Food!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Calories in, does not equal calories out

Did you know that counting calories is not an effective weight loss tool? We used to think that if we counted the calories in our food and then counted the calories used while exercising, that a weight loss deficit would occur. Sounds simple and easy, but losing weight is a very complicated process that can overwhelm even an educated nutrition or weight loss specialist.
The truth is that a calorie from one type of food is not the same as another. Meaning if you ate 100 calories from one of those 100-calorie bags of cookies, and ate 100 calories from say a teaspoon of peanut butter, you body is going to metabolize them differently. The same holds true for fructose and fruit, if you ate an apple, raisins, dates, apricots or even a banana, you're going to put yourself at risk for increased weight because of the way our bodies metabolize fructose. This is largely because different nutrients provoke different hormonal responses, and those hormonal responses determine, among other things, how much fat you accumulate.
That doesn't mean you should eliminate all fruit, but you should definitely restrict yourself to 1-2 servings a day. Then there's the other fructose, the high fructose corn syrup that is chemically made in a some lab and added to thousands of food products - even those touted as being healthy, like Special K. HFCS is an evil ingredient that you should start avoiding all at costs, especially if you're trying to lose weight.

I'm pretty sure that I've been able to keep my weight off and even continue to lose more weight because I have completely eliminated this ingredient from my diet. I'm now down another dress size. I started at a size 16 last Christmas and now I'm a size 12 and I'm enjoying a new wardrobe of tighter jeans, definition in my stomach muscles and a flat tummy! I never thought it was possible, but I am proof that you can go from being a Pop-Tart queen to a svelte mama in just 8 months! I made a goal of 15-20 more pounds by next summer and I know I can do it!

I'm excited that I've got a few friends joining me on the this journey. I'm curious to know if anyone else is embarking on a clean eating lifestyle. Leave a comment and let me know and if I can offer any help or suggestions. I'm working on a big list of meal ideas to help with meal planning. That was my biggest hurdle - planning meals in advance to avoid the last minute take-out, convenience foods and fast-food. Now, I don't eat that way and it has forced me to start thinking and planning ahead for dinner. It also helps to have a well-stocked pantry to have those special ingredients on hand. So look for that list to be coming soon.
Until next time...Eat Real Food!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Personal Clean Eating List

I've had a few friends ask me for a shopping list, so here is a sample of my clean eating choices. Let me know if you have any questions!

Clean Eating Grocery List
Grass-fed Beef (eat 1-2 times a week)
Chuck pot roast, sirloin steak, flank steak, T-bone, 90% lean ground beef

Grass-fed Pork
Canadian bacon, tenderloin, pork shoulder, sausage & bacon should be nitrate-free

Pastured Poultry (free range)
Chicken, turkey, pastured eggs

Seafood (2 times a week)
Crabmeat, haddock, lobster, sea scallops, wild shrimp, wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, trout, mussels

Dairy – Should be Organic or Raw
Yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, cheese

Nuts & Seeds – Should be RAW and unsalted (not roasted)
Walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds

Grains – Limited
Brown Rice, Whole Grain bread, Quinoa (great protein source), whole grain pasta (limited)

Vegetables – Unlimited! Choose Organic when possible, choose local & farmer’s markets over the grocery store (If you can’t afford all Organic, refer to the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists at the end)
Dark leafy greens like Kale, Collards, broccoli, zucchini red leaf and green leaf lettuce are good choices. Try new veggies you haven’t eaten before like artichokes, eggplant, Swiss chard, okra, or Bok Choy!

Fruit – Choose Organic and limit to 2 servings a day to keep sugar levels down (Refer to Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists below)

Beans – They are best dried or frozen.  If canned, choose Organic to get away from BPA-lined cans and excess sodium. Rinse and drain canned beans.
Black beans, garbanzo, white beans, navy beans and lentils are some of my faves.

Try to make your own salad dressings by keeping Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, Dijon Mustard, lemons and garlic on hand.
Choose pre-made dressings that are full-fat and not fat-free (they have added High Fructose Corn Syrup)
Some brands to try: Newman’s Own, Annie’s Naturals, organic store brands
High Fructose Corn Syrup Free Ketchup, BBQ sauce and mayo
Herbs are easy to grow in window sills or gardens – grow your own to avoid pesticides and use daily!
Sea Salt (instead of Iodized salt)
Organic Low sodium chicken broth in a box, not a can
Chili peppers, red pepper flakes, Turmeric, and curry can add great depth and flavor.

Olive oil, grapeseed oil, real butter, ghee, Coconut oil (no more canola or vegetable oils)
Fare-trade coffee, green tea, lots of fresh water (infused with fresh fruit or cucumber if you don’t like the taste)

Raw honey or Stevia is preferred, comes in liquid and crystals
Organic Cane sugar

Other Items I buy:
Steel-cut Oatmeal, Triscuits, Sprouted Ezekiel bread, Natural Almond Butter, Natural Peanut butter, Old-fashioned rolled oats, unbleached flour, True Whey Protein Powder, Raw Cocoa, Ground Flax seed,  Raw Maca Powder, Gogi berries, plain Cheerios for my kids, Greek Yogurt, Raw honey, Almond milk

My Daily Habits:
Upon waking up, I have a chewable probiotic, then a glass of lemon water.
Then, I work out on an empty stomach.
I start my day with a protein source like a 1 egg omelette with spinach and tomato or a protein shake. I include protein at every meal and loads of vegetables.
I eat my fruit by itself as an afternoon treat or sometimes right after dinner.
I juice in the afternoons using what I have on hand – spinach, cucumber, half apple, 2 carrots, cabbage, garlic, ginger, etc…
We don’t eat starches with dinner anymore. We eat a protein and 2-3 types of veggies. Sometimes I will add quinoa with dinner though.

To find a local farm, co-op, or Farmer's Market near you, visit For fun at picking your own berries, apples, veggies and more, visit

The following lists refer to vegetables and fruits that are either OK to eat in their conventional form (or non-Organic form) and those that it is best to choose the Organic version. The reason being is thin-skinned fruits like berries and apples are heavily sprayed with pesticides and you can’t wash off pesticides from a strawberry, they just soak it all up. But a banana or onion has a thicker skin and the pesticides can be washed away or the fruit/veggie doesn’t require as much pesticidal spray. It’s especially important to buy Organic versions when feeding young children, as their systems are affected much more intensely than an adult.

Clean 15:
1. Onions
2. Sweet Corn
3. Pineapple
4. Avocado
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet Peas (Frozen)
7. Mangoes
8. Eggplant
9. Cantaloupe (Domestic)
10. Kiwi
11. Cabbage
12. Watermelon
13. Sweet Potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms

Dirty Dozen: (If you can, always buy these items in their Organic form)
1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines (imported)
7. Grapes (imported)
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries (domestic)
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/collard greens

Ok, so that’s what I generally buy. You’ll notice there are no boxes of Pop-Tarts, bags of Cheez-its or frozen meals to pop in a microwave. It’s not a perfect diet and it’s not for everyone. You have to plan ahead, set aside time to prepare and cook your meals and plan your shopping around what’s in season. Eating a clean, healthy diet however will enhance your health, help you to lose weight and feel amazing. If you’re ready to get off medication or perhaps avoid taking some, try using food as medicine. It’s a lot cheaper than dozens of doctor’s visits and expensive prescriptions.

Until next time…Eat Real Food!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Motivation to Change

It takes an event or a moving story to usually motivate people to do something big. We usually just don't do something because we know we should. There's most often an underlying motivator that makes us change. For me, it was meeting people who had made a complete lifestyle change and took control of their health, made themselves better and reversed disease in its tracks. Even though I had majored in Physical Education and Health and I knew what I needed to do and what I should be doing for my health, I wasn't. We all know we should eat better, drink more water, and exercise daily, but why don't we? We make excuses, we say we don't have enough time, and we put our health low on the priority list. When actually, our health should be number one on the list.
I'm so glad that I made good health my number one priority. I'm now 25 pounds lighter, I don't suffer from daily headaches, I'm not taking prescription drugs anymore, I feel better, I have tons of energy and I think, I look better! (vain much?!) I've still got another 15-20 pounds to lose, but I know it will happen because I've made exercise and eating properly a priority for myself and my family. I'm 42 and I want to be as healthy and active as possible as my children get older. They are 4 and 6 now and I've got no guarantees that I'll live to 100, but I'm darn sure gonna try and be as healthy as possible along the journey.
It takes something inside you to click and say, I don't want to be this way anymore or I don't want to be overweight or have health problems or have a heart attack like  ____ (insert family member's name here). All you need is that motivator. I hope I can be that person for you. It wasn't that long ago that I was eating cereal, pop-tarts, sandwiches with low-fat mayo (containing HFCS), having occasional sweets, popping a frozen meal in the microwave, not getting any exercise and thinking that I was eating healthy because it said low-fat!  I used to say, there's no way I can give up my favorites, I love cereal, I love sweets. But I've found that by taking a step-by-step slow approach, you can eventually eliminate these things from your diet and you won't miss them. Really! Your taste buds change!
In the coming weeks, I will be unveiling a program to get you on a clean eating path. We'll start slow, eliminate the yuckiness from your pantry and then I'll teach you how to shop for the right foods.
It be be tough for some of you  - after all it was tough on my husband and kids. It took me a while to get him on board, but once he sees you in a skimpy dress on vacation and you feel amazing because you also look amazing - believe me, he will be ON BOARD! My husband realizes the benefit of eating this way, he also sees a negative effect on his health when he travels and eats poorly. He comes home feeling like crap.

Your kids will also take some getting used to the new way of eating. But, if you get them on board right from the beginning, and involve them - ask them to help with meal preparation or growing something in the garden. They will feel a sense of ownership and that you aren't forcing them to eat a freaking vegetable!!  My kids used to eat frozen chicken nuggets, fish sticks, juice, and cookies with HFCS and now they don't eat any of that and we are juice-free! My parents think I'm depriving them of a fun childhood by not giving them treats, but believe me, they get enough sweets at school functions, birthday parties, rewards from reading books, etc...Why is it that kids are rewarded with sweets, candy and junk food? Why can't a birthday party goodie bag just have a toy or bubbles, or a coloring book? No one should ever be rewarded with food. That sends a wrong message. Anyway, I digress...
So, get ready - find your happy place - we've got some work to do. I'm going to help you along this journey. If you make up your mind, that this is IT, we can accomplish this goal together!
Until next time,
Eat Real Food...Cindy
P.S. I've put up an Amazon store link on my blog. The store contains a list of some of my favorite things I purchase from Amazon. If you join Amazon Mom, shipping is free! But most of the time, shipping is free on orders of $25 or more. I get a lot of my essentials here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars

Granola bars are supposed to be made with high quality, natural ingredients. However, when you purchase a processed product, you get tons of added sugar, partially hydrogenated fats, extra sodium and possibly a dash of high fructose corn syrup. You can find a decent Organic granola bar, but you will pay a premium. I found a great recipe for homemade granola bars and tweaked it just a bit. Plus, it's easy enough to get the kids involved for a fun afternoon of cooking. These bars have more fiber, less sugar, no trans fats, and fewer calories. My four year old had a blast making these simple, tasty bars! Bonus: Takes only 10 min to prepare!

Homemade Granola Bars
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup roasted peanuts, almonds and/or cashews (I did a mix)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (unsweetened)
1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup Organic raisins, dried cranberries &/or golden raisins, soaked in water to soften, I used a mix of all 3
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×9-inch baking pan with non-stick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Put the oats, nuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, and raisins in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together with the salt and vanilla, then add to the oats in the food processor, and pulse until the mixture becomes a coarse, chunky paste. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan and spread evenly, gently pressing down to flatten. Bake for 35 minutes or until firm and golden.
Cool and cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container. They will keep for a week in the refrigerator and a month in the freezer.

Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Press into a 9x9 pan.

The yummy bars ready to be eaten!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We did it! One Year of Clean Eating!!

We did it! My family survived one full year of eating clean, whole foods! I'm so excited to celebrate this milestone with my new followers. This past year wasn't without its challenges. There were days when I didn't know what to cook, or days when I did cook and it didn't turn out so well. We tried new foods, some we liked, some we didn't and some that made us sick after eating them for a while (i.e. Chia and flax seeds). My children have gone one year without eating bagged, frozen chicken nuggets, fish sticks and the like. Heck, after a while, they started asking for my homemade versions over the frozen kind! I learned how to can jelly, salsa and tomato sauce.  I also learned how to makeover traditional recipes using healthier ingredients. I even started teaching family members and friends how to do the same!
Overall, I wasn't met with much resistance. My husband eats breakfast and lunch in the city, so he's only faced with one clean meal a day. He didn't have too much to complain about. He says he misses things like hot dogs, fried foods and Dr. Pepper. My kids were a tougher sell. It took a while to wean them from juice and we're still working on breakfast cereals, but they pretty much only eat Cheerios now. My oldest (6) only drinks water now and she will eat pretty much any strange concoction I whip up. It makes me proud when we sit down to eat quinoa, salmon and a raw kale salad and she eats it like it's her job! Both my girls are eating very healthy now and even starting to make healthier choices at home, like choosing grapes over chips (which are only Organic).

I have a good routine now. I wake up, have my probiotic, lemon water and then workout on an empty stomach. I never in my life thought I would a) work out in the morning and b) workout on an empty stomach. But now, I'm not hungry first thing in the morning. I'm eating more protein and veggies and staying fuller, longer. My metabolism is higher and I can take a day or two off the regimen and still stay at the same weight. My main overall goals were to feel better and lose 30 pounds. Well, the first certainly rings true. Here's a round-up of where I was one year ago:
1. Daily headaches, migraines twice a month
2. Sluggish, tired all the time
3. Overweight - I was 178 lbs
4. Hip pain, called Piriformis Syndrome
5. Tingling and weird pain in my legs - doctors thought I was getting fibromyalgia
6. High Cholesterol, high triglycerides
Measurements Before:
Waist: 33'
Hips: 47"
Bust: 36"
Now, I won't call this my after results because I still have yet to reach my ideal weight, so we'll call this the "half-way there" results!
Waist: 31", lost 2"
Hips: 44", lost 3"
Bust: 36", the same
Weight:  157 lbs., lost 21

After losing 21 lbs, I realized that it wasn't really that much and I still needed to lose about 20 more. I'm almost to the weight I was on my wedding day and I thought I looked pretty good then. Turns out, I was about 10 lbs. overweight then. I think my goal is 40 pounds overall. So, I'll get there and see how I feel then.
Otherwise, I am headache free, hip pain is gone, leg pain is gone, sluggishness is gone, cholesterol is normal, as well as triglycerides. I also don't take an allergy pill every day or the migraine medicine.
I will say the one thing that motivates me every single day is getting on the scale every morning and watching the weight go down bit by bit. I deluded myself in the beginning of this journey thinking that clean eating alone would help me lose all the weight. Boy, was I wrong! I started making food from scratch and ate platters of food around the holidays. I actually ballooned up to 181 at Christmas! I wasn't going to share that secret, but I said I was going to be honest...
It wasn't until mid-April that I started to lose weight when I joined a program called "Lose Fat with Amy." My neighbor is my sort-of "health coach" and she started the program. Its components are simple, but you have to be willing to make the necessary adjustments to your life or it simply won't happen. I watched her lose 20 pounds over the holidays and I wanted to do the same! And, I have! If you're interested in finding out more about her program, visit and tell her I sent you.
You do have to move your body, but not in the way I was accustomed to. I thought I needed to sweat it out for hours in the gym, but it turns out that simply adjusting the time and intensity of your workout can make a big difference.
My journey is not over and I intend to keep sharing recipes, tips and my own simple program of how to rid your life of processed foods. Stay tuned for more information about the latter.
My half-way there pictures are coming soon.
Until then, eat real food!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Saving on Organics

Invariably if you tell someone you eat clean, Organic food, the first thing they ask is, "Isn't it more expensive?" And yes, some items can be more expensive, but I'm investing in my future health. I'm also not buying boxed food, bottled dressings, frozen meals, fast food, and canned food. From April to early-November, I'm buying almost all of my produce from the local Farmer's Market. I also grow my own tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, green beans, and peppers. I get my meat from a local farm that I belong to and the rest, like specialty items, from the grocery store.
To find a Farmer's Market near you, visit For fun at picking your own berries, veggies and more, visit

To save on items at the grocery store, become a member of Facebook (if not already a member). Then, "like" the companies of products you use. They often have coupons, discounts and even freebies to giveaway. Several Organic manufacturers are on Facebook, like Horizon, Stonyfield, Boulder Canyon chips, Tribe Hummus, Annie's Organics, etc...If you prefer to not be on Facebook, you can go directly to the company's website and join their newsletter to receive coupons.

Additionally, if you have the time to "hunt" for coupons on the web, there are dozens of websites like Coupon Mom,, and hundreds of blogs devoted to the art of couponing. I actually took a class from a local "coupon expert" and learned some savvy ways to stretch a dollar at the grocery store. Unfortunately, I don't buy much at the grocery store anymore, so most of my coupons go unused. But I really don't need them because I can take $20 to the Farmer's Market and come home with all the veggies I need for the week and then some. I spend about $50-60 a week on my grass-fed beef, pork and chicken. Then another $100 every 2 weeks at Wegman's, my favorite grocery store. They have a great Organic selection!

So that's it. It's really not as much as I was spending before and I'm getting nutrient-dense, vitamin-rich, local Organic food. I subscribe to the SOLE method of eating: Sustainable, Organic, Local and Ethical. I love supporting local farmers over the big box retailers.
I'm just a few days away from my one-year anniversary of clean eating! How should I celebrate? I'm looking forward to my before and after pictures and measurements. I'm proud of how far I've come and look forward to where this will take me!
Until August 30...

Thursday, August 18, 2011


For months now, I have coveted my neighbor's juicer. I watch in envy as she gulps her green glass of delicious vitamins and minerals. Some folks would say, "Gross, I'm not doing that!" But I find it to be a perfect way to get in all those servings of veggies that we need every day. Plus, it's a great afternoon snack when the munchies start around 3:00pm.
So, I ordered one, from Amazon, like everything else I get these days. The shiny Omega 8005 is not a cheap kitchen appliance, coming in around $250, but there are less expensive models out there that can do the job for you.
Why juice, you ask? (Because my husband sure did!) A typical American diet consists of numerous, if not all, processed foods - foods that are denatured, packaged with chemicals to make them shelf stable for months, if not years and the commercial farming industry grows its plants in toxic soils laced with petroleum and other chemicals.  Then there's conventional meats and poultry derived from animals growing on top of each other, being fed poisons like arsenic and given regular antibiotic shots, not to mention their feed of genetically-modified (read: pesticide-laden) corn and soy.
When fresh, natural whole foods are harvested and processed, the nutrients they contained are mostly destroyed, only to be replaced with an array of chemical preservatives, food dyes, additives, and sugar before they are packaged in boxes, cans and plastics and shipped thousands of miles away. By the time you eat said packaged "food," every last drop of vital nutrients, minerals and vitamins are depleted.

So, why juice? When you drink fresh fruit and vegetable juices, you get a product rich in vitamins, enzymes, minerals and other nutrients. The nutrients are quickly absorbed by the body and act as detoxifiers, antioxidants, anti-carcinogens, digestive aids, blood purifiers, immune stimulants and more! So, why wouldn't you juice should be the question! The whole is greater than the sum of its parts applies very well here.

At first I was unsure of what to combine. Would I like it? What ratio should I use? But, after a bit of trial and error, I discovered you could really just put in any veggie you like and combine it with some greens and get a real tasty treat. I also noticed that if you don't like the veggie in its true form, like celery for me, then you probably won't like it juiced - as I did not. After a trip to the Farmer's Market, I came home with a bag of cucumbers, organic baby spinach, celery, apples, purple cabbage, carrots and garlic. With the exception of the celery day, I've liked all my concoctions thus far. I started adding a clove of garlic for a little zing, plus it has myriad healthy properties.
Here's a couple of shots of my creations.
This one has a lot of spinach, half a cucumber and 1 carrot. It was my first. Notice I didn't make a large glass. I was a bit hesitant.

This one was made with the purple cabbage! It gave it a hint of sweetness.
 I'm by no means a juicing expert now. I just know that the healthy benefits I'm receiving from drinking fresh vegetables will help my immune system and give me lots of energy! In case you were wondering why I'm not adding any fruit, it's because of the added sugar. I'm still in weight-loss mode and need to keep my sugar grams under 20 per day. I still eat fruit, but maybe just a handful as a late day snack or after dinner as a treat. If losing weight is a goal of yours, you need to cut out the extra sweets. I'm not going to say where I am yet, but I'm still losing weight every week and that is what's fueling my fire to keep this thing going!
Till next time,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Salad Dinners

The one thing about cooking from scratch that can send a cook running for the closest restaurant is turning on the oven when it's 90 degrees outside. Nobody wants to bake inside their own home. That's why summer is great for salads. The produce is fresh, readily available and so delicious. A few nights ago, I was hot and not in the mood to cook, it was also 6:00pm. I fantasized about our recent vacation to Europe and how clean the Europeans eat. I recalled a fantastic salad I ate in Nice, France. Salad Nicoise. I thought it only appropriate that I eat the salad named for the city. You have to have an open mind and a palate willing to take on tuna, olives, anchovies and hard-boiled eggs. It's not a salad for the masses. But if you like a little adventure and don't mind the prep work, it's a fast and delicious salad to make.
Here's the prep work. The cherry tomatoes are from my garden, as well as the green beans. I blanched those for 4-5 min to get rid of the raw taste. They still had a nice crunch. I used a mix of green-leaf lettuce and Organic baby spinach. I chopped up some kalamata olives and 3 hard-boiled eggs. Then I added a can of tuna fish. You could use salmon and add anchovies as well. Use whatever you like.

I mixed it up in a large bowl and added a little dressing. In a jam jar I mixed 3 T of red wine vinegar (don't use balsamic in this salad, too heavy), 1/4 cup EVOO, sea salt, pepper and 1 T Dijon mustard. Shake and serve.

My husband even ate this, which I feared he would not. Then when my 6 year old saw us enjoying it so much, she started making herself a plate. This salad is a great source of protein, Omega-3's, vitamin C, iron, calcium and more! A healthy dinner for all!

Now I have to quickly share with you my experience and fun canning this past weekend. Canning is something we think of our grandmothers doing. I remember looking in my grandmother's pantry and seeing all these tall jars stocked with green beans when I was little. So, now it's my turn. More people are canning these days and preserving a little bit of summer as we do. I've made a dozen or so jars of strawberry jelly thus far and now I've got 16 pints and 2 quarts of homemade salsa. All the tomatoes were from my garden - 20 pounds of them!! I harvested a pound of hot peppers and bought the rest of the ingredients from the farmer's market. Overall I used 20 lbs of tomatoes, 5 lbs. of hot and sweet peppers, 5 lbs. of onions (sweet and green), 2 bunches of cilantro, 12 cloves of garlic, 10 tsp of sea salt and 4 cups of white vinegar. It's the recipe from the Ball Blue Book, almost tripled. I had my neighbors over to help with all the chopping.

Here's what five pounds of peppers looks like. The small red ones and green jalapenos are from my garden!
Peppers chopped up and ready for the tomatoes! Make sure you wear gloves and protective eye wear is not a bad idea either!

Everything is chopped and ready to cook. It has to boil for 10 minutes. Then it's ready for the canner.

Bottling up my liquid gold! It's fiery too! Nothing beats fresh salsa in the dead of winter!
There's still time for you to try this. Head to the nearest Farmer's Market and pick up a few pounds of tomatoes! Till next week!
Eat real food!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One thing leads to another...

When I started this journey, almost a year ago now, my goal was to clean up my diet, feel better and hopefully lose weight. My goals have since been upgraded to things I would have never considered doing, but certainly enjoy and find fairly easy to do. When you start doing research on clean eating and follow the lifestyle of this flexitarian diet, you start learning about a hundred more things you could be doing to make your family healthier. Like what, you ask? Well for starters, I'm using chemical-free sunscreens, bug sprays, facial lotions, and soaps. Our skin is one large organ and one that absorbs those items slathered on it. So why would you slather on dozens of chemicals onto your skin? Yuck, right?
So, that's one area that was pretty easy. I bought Dr. Mercola's sunscreen, bug spray and Neutrogena's new line of Naturals facial cleaners. I also found some chemical-free body lotions.

Next up: household cleaners. For years now, I've purchased Green Works, 7th Generation and Method cleaners. But you can save even more money by just mixing up a bottle of plain old vinegar and water. I also use a spray bottle of 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide and water to spritz down my shower walls, clean counters, get stains out of laundry and I even spritz our toothbrushes once a week. The main purpose of the 3% H2O2 is to wash all my produce. The anti-microbial properties of this stuff is amazing. You can see the bubbles forming and your dirty veggies start fizzing up a storm. Good stuff!

Want to know how much farther I've gone? Well, I've cut down use of our microwave oven to about 10% now, stopped using aluminum foil to cook things and got rid of all plastic containers that had a 3, 6, or 7 on them. I also bought several tall stainless steel water bottles and a few "safe" (5 on the bottom) refillable plastic ones to cut down on my bad habit of buying bottled water. I also threw away 3 skillets coated with Teflon. Additionally, my husband and I went out to dinner this week for our anniversary. We were at Bonefish Grill. It takes me a little more time to order these days because I have questions and I need to weigh the options. I wanted seafood, but the special was swordfish (large fish high on mercury list) and Chilean sea bass is my favorite but is horribly over fished and almost extinct! Don't order it! I opted for the trout and it was good!  It's all about choices and informing yourself to make the right ones.  I could sit here all day writing about why Teflon and BPA are bad for you, but we'd be here a while. I'm enjoying the book, Easy Green Living, by Renee Loux. She explains how and why we should be cutting these things out of our life. They're leaching chemicals into our bloodstream and into our environment.

I'm by no means done. I've still got more work to do. But I feel good when I remember to take my reusable bags to the store and enjoy getting my 5 cents at Target for each bag! I'm composting all my kitchen waste, growing my own herbs and veggies, buying local and sustainable foods and supporting local farmers. You could say it's time for me to change the name of my blog to UNprocessed living!

My blog is approaching its one year anniversary soon and I'm looking for ways to celebrate. Any thoughts? I've love to get more followers, so if you know anyone who could benefit from this information or is trying to make positive food changes in their life, send 'em my way. If more people start eating real, whole foods, then perhaps it will send a message to the food manufacturers that we need better quality food and to our gov't to stop approving GMO-projects and shut down Monsanto. (more on that next time).
Until then...Happy Eating!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Back from Vacation and Only Two Pounds Gained!

I’m finally home after a two-week vacation that included a 7-day cruise to the Western Mediterranean (saw Spain, France, Italy). I was a bit worried that I was going to gain a lot of weight being on a cruise ship where multitudes of foods are offered 24/7, but I managed to sneak by with only gaining two pounds. Two-three pounds is something I can lose quickly with a few light meals, drinking lots of water and getting more sleep.  Our schedule on the ship was hectic as we pulled into a beautiful port each day at 7:00am and we were out sight-seeing all day long.  I was exhausted by the end of the cruise.  We walked a lot every day and I even got a workout in on the boat. Plus, I tried to make healthy eating choices while on the boat and in port. I ate a lot of fresh salads, tons of grilled, poached or sautéed fish (never fried), small amounts of bread, lots of protein (like omelettes for breakfast), and very few treats. Don’t get me wrong, I savored a small cannoli in Sicily and a mini molten chocolate cake for dessert a few nights after dinner, so I wasn’t completely deprived.  But I just worked it off the next day by tons of walking through ruins, the Vatican and I think I walked a mile in the Madrid airport!  Overall I had a very memorable time and I can’t wait to get back to Florence and Tuscany again – my favorite stops.
I also enjoyed sharing our eating habits with our dinner table guests. They were curious about the food I ordered – staying away from the savory items, bread and ordering fruit for dessert – so I shared with them our new found food religion.  They seemed intrigued, so I informed them of the dangers of artificial sugar (in which they filled their tea glasses with), high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.  They were also curious about the farm where I get my grass-fed beef, pork and pastured chickens.  It amazes me that some folks are completely unaware of these options and that they are nutritionally superior.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see that an overwhelming amount of Europeans are thin. Our tour driver was recommending places to eat and asked if any of us Americans wanted our familiar McDonald’s or Burger King. Blasphemy!  Of course we all said no, we wanted to try real local Italian food. Then, he mentioned out-of-the-blue, without knowing my hatred of those establishments, that a few people he knew were starting to eat there every now and then and they were getting fat. He said it must be from all the chemicals in American food!  How right he is!  I noticed that Europeans don’t snack much either. They eat very well. They eat full fat and olive oil. They drink a lot of wine too. However, the majority of them smoke – like it’s their job – so that could be it too.  Whatever the cause, they are thinner and appear healthier.  I think I’m going to look into the Mediterranean diet (sans cigs).
But now it’s time to get back home and into my routine of early morning workouts and eating my farm fresh food. My garden exploded with tomatoes and peppers while I was gone too. I’m looking forward to getting back into the kitchen and preparing our meals from scratch.  Soon it will be time to harvest everything and can my salsa.
I think I’m also going to plan a fall garden. I’m going to plant more lettuce, kale and research other cool weather garden foods.  I’m going to miss going down to the garden to pick greens beans and tomatoes for dinner once it gets cooler.
That’s all for now and remember the most important thing you can do for yourself is to start reading labels. Stay away from the long laundry list of ingredients and buy from local farms.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Major Milestone Hit!!

 I hope everyone had a great 4th! Our family sure did! Read on to see what happened to me!!
Well it took a bit longer than expected, but I finally lost the first half of my weight loss goal – 20 pounds!!  I weighed myself after Christmas (when I was eating platters instead of plates of food) and I was dismayed. I had actually gained 5 pounds over the holiday. I mean who was I kidding, eating handfuls of peppermint cookies and piles of food onto my plate. Christmas is my favorite time of year for food – all the time-tested family favorites were on display and it’s hard for me to resist.
But now that I'm armed with some interesting food knowledge and working out every day, I can eat a small treat and not feel guilty. I’ve managed to increase my metabolism and can take a day off and still lose ½ a pound. It’s been quite motivating to jump on the scale every morning and see it go down a little bit every day. Some days it’s only 5-6 ounces, but it just makes me work out harder for better results the next morning. I’ve never been on a weight-loss program or diet that actually resulted in me losing weight every day!  A few years ago, I joined a gym and worked my ass off to lose 10 pounds and it took me 6 months!  I just lost that in the last 2 months.
I started an interesting program back in mid-April with my neighbor, Amy Butchko. She is a Holistic Health Practitioner.  Her program of teleseminars included some simple weight loss tidbits and some things I had a hard time understanding, but hey, it worked, so why not? I just wish I had started sooner, I would probably be 40 pounds lighter by now!
Her program, coupled with my clean eating lifestyle has resulted in the following:
·         Very few headaches, compared to daily headaches and 2 migraines a month
·         2 fewer prescriptions
·         Tons more energy
·         Clearer, glowing skin
·         20 lbs lost, 20 more to go
·         Just an overall better outlook and I’m happier!
So, if this sounds like something you’d like to get in on, go to Amy’s website,, and watch her free modules. Tell her I sent you!!
And if you’re still on the fence about how to go about clearing out your pantry and eating more whole, clean foods, send me and email at divainpinksd at yahoo dot com, and we can chat about my step-by-step program for eliminating processed foods from your diet.
Happy Healthy Eating!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Is Sugar the Devil?

First off, welcome to my new followers! I'm happy to see new faces here.
A little bit of eating history - what I remember most about the food I ate growing up is snacks. I would eat Little Debbie Cream Pies, Ding Dongs, Pop-Tarts, Kool-Aid, pudding cups, Popsicles, pinwheels, oreos, Chips-Ahoy cookies, pixie stix, gum and anything else that had sugar in it. You could say that I was probably addicted to sugar at a young age. Most would say that sugary "food," and I use that term loosely, is all part of growing up. My dad even groans that I should be giving my kids more treats. But I believe that sugar is what made me 30 lbs overweight, makes kids behave like caged animals and is making America a sick, obese, diabetes-filled country. You might as well eat this bowl of sugar!

There's absolutely NO reason why these foods need to be a part of childhood or adulthood for that matter.
All of those items above contain high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and bunches of other chemicals created in a lab and labeled as food. Now, I'm not blaming my parents. I mean most of the country eats like this - why wouldn't my parents buy me this stuff? It would be fine if these items were an every-once-in-a-blue-moon treat. But my kids, who don't eat any of these things at home, are bombarded with sugary treats at school, birthday parties, playdates and even at Costco (hello free samples!). So I tell my dad not to worry, they are getting plenty of sugar!
There are ways to give your kids a treat without slowly destroying their health. I started making my own popsicles with fresh fruit (strawberries are plentiful right now!) and my new dehydrator comes today and I'll be making my own fruit leather! (More on that later)
But, since it's been 10 months since going "clean," my kids really don't have a major sweet tooth anymore. My oldest has now shunned juice and drinks only water and my youngest gets about 1 cup of juice a day. They snack on apples, organic berries, and plain yogurt with nuts and raw honey. It is possible to get your kids to eat healthy - you just have to take it slow. I just simply don't buy the stuff and tell them that it's bad for you, bad for their teeth, and after they have had diarrhea from eating too much cake, ice cream and juice at a birthday, I use the opportunity to teach them about how food affects your body.

For years now, we've all been fed the line that FAT is bad, it's evil, don't eat fat. So, for 15+ years, I bought fat-free mayo, fat-free dairy, fat-free everything I could get my hands on. Well food manufacturers have to replace that yummy fat with something, so it was sugar - mostly in the form of high fructose corn syrup. I've slowly watched my waistline and hips grow larger and larger over the years. Yet I was eating low-fat everything!  Our bodies don't know how to process HFCS. The liver stores it in our fat cells. It raises our triglycerides. Do you have high cholesterol? I did, and I hardly ate beef, fast food and fried foods. So why so high? It's the chemically-made sugar and partially hydrogenated oils in processed foods.  So is sugar the devil, in my humble opinion, it is very much so!

Take some time to read ingredient labels and not the nutrition label. If it contains words that are a mile long and you can't pronounce, put it back on the shelf. When grocery shopping, take the time to compare labels on similar ingredients. I usually read 3-4 different labels on loaves of bread till I find the one that I can deal with. They're all bad, but I until I master making my own, I have to deal with a few icky ingredients.

This week's challenge: Make 1 totally CLEAN, WHOLE meal a week.  That doesn't mean tacos with seasoning packets or chicken with cans of condensed soup. Don't know where to start? Here's some suggestions:
  • Chicken Tacos (grilled chicken cut into strips, top with sauteed red & yellow bell peppers, onions, cilantro, lettuce and fresh pico - tomatoes, jalapeno, onion - on a freshly made corn tortilla)
  • Chicken or Shrimp Stir-Fry - stir fry meat, then veggies, season, top over brown rice or rice noodles
  • Baked or broiled salmon or tilapia with a fresh mango salsa, side salad with homemade dressing, steamed broccoli or sauteed zucchini
NOTE: I made homemade corn tortillas recently! They weren't pretty, but they tasted great. All you need is a little masa, lime juice, salt and water. Mix and form into balls, press into flat disc and cook over high heat in a skillet. So easy!

                Chicken Tacos with portabello mushrooms, avocado slices, lettuce, and homemade salsa!

I want to hear about your clean meal! So post your comments!
Awareness is the first step to making a change in your eating habits!

If you're ready to get clean, post a comment or message me and I can show you how!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Magic of Spinach!

I'm very proud to say that my kids have taken to this new "clean eating" lifestyle very well - much better than my grumbling husband. Last night I whipped up something in the kitchen that was clearly a turning point for all of us. Spinach Pesto! Who would have guessed that this little green wonder could have caused so much excitement! On the menu was a roasted pork tenderloin (just tossed in the oven with some herbs, garlic, sea salt, & peppercorns for 30 min, covered with foil to keep it tender & moist), steamed broccoli and pasta shells that were tossed with the magical Spinach Pesto!  For my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants recipe for this, click on the newly added recipe page.

I asked my oldest to try the pasta to see if she liked it and she did. Then, to my amazement, my youngest tried a bite and asked for more as well. Everyone ate the pesto pasta and clamoured for more! What a great way for kids to eat spinach! Mine also contained heart-healthy walnuts, garlic and Organic EVOO.
I'm proud of my kids for trying something new, something green, and something kind of fancy! It's been 8+ months since they've had a chicken nugget, fish stick or a Fig Newton - this August will be a year! Way to go girls!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Snack & Birthday Party Alternatives

I just wrote this article for my mom's club. Just felt like sharing...

Many of you know that I recently converted from eating processed, non-Organic foods to a diet of clean, Organic fruits & veggies, grass-fed meats & sustainable seafood. Along with losing ten pounds, I feel better, have very few headaches and loads more energy. I’m not here today to try and convert you, but to try to give you some simple snack options for you and your children that can give you more energy and possibly even stop the screamy tantrums that happen after your kid leaves a birthday party after consuming a juice box, cake, ice cream and a goodie bag full of candy!

We’ve all fallen into the trap of putting out the usual suspects when we have playdates or parties at our house, but you don’t have to succumb to the standards – you can make a change and your kids will eat it!

Healthy Snack Options:
Whole Grain Goldfish
Seaport Edamame in Pods
Wholly Guacamole Snack packs (or make your own)
GoGo Squeeze Applesauce
Pineapple wedges
Mini apples
Bowl of fresh blueberries, strawberries or raspberries
Pirate Booty popcorn
Hard-boiled eggs
Plain Greek Yogurt, sweetened with Raw Honey
Raw, unsalted almonds, cashews, hazelnuts
Newman’s Own High-Protein Pretzels
Tribe Origins Hummus w/ Veggie sticks (carrots, jicama, celery, bell peppers)
Pumpkin seeds
Refried beans or homemade salsa with tortilla chips
Almond butter or Natural peanut butter with apple wedges
Simply Gogurt
Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies
Whole-grain waffles with nut butter
Organic Tortilla chips, Boulder Canyon Rice & Bean chips, Food Should Taste Good chips

Party Alternatives

  • Juice boxes are convenient but contain way too much sugar, try mini bottled water, Horizon Milk or Honest Kids drink pouches (My kids take their own Honest Kids juice or water to a party)
  • Never use frosting from a can – it contains hydrogenated oils which are trans fats, amongst other chemicals
  • Try serving turkey &/or veggie subs, instead of pizza, big bowls of natural popcorn, homemade pasta salad (instead of the boxed kind) with nitrate-free pepperoni, large green salad with homemade dressing (6 T EVOO, 2 T Balsamic vinegar, sea salt, pepper, 1 t Dijon mustard, 1 minced garlic clove).
  • Goody bags filled with non-food treats, like yo-yo’s, crayons, match box cars, princess jewelry, etc…

Remember, the longer the ingredient list, the more processed the “food” item is. Try to eat more protein and veggies and less carbs and sugar! Everyone will be happy and your pants will get a little looser too!  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recipe Page Added!!

I'm excited to announce the addition of my recipe page! There's only a few there now, but stay tuned, because I'll be adding more clean, whole food recipes every week - especially quick dinners!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Vacation Eating...Lessons Learned

In April, we went on vacation to South Padre Island, TX. I stressed about our trip for weeks. What was I going to eat? Where could I find local, Organic food? How was I going to maintain my new healthy eating habits whilst eating carb-laden Mexican food? I mean I really stressed. I thought about shipping a box of food from my pantry to our rented beach house. But then I thought that was just too extreme. I resolved to just "be where I was." Meaning I would just eat as everyone else did in the area. How did that work out, you ask? Not so well.
The first few days were OK, but by the 3rd day, I was feeling the worst I'd felt in years. I had extreme vertigo, congestion, lethargy, stomach issues, and headaches. I was on vacation at the beach, in a beautiful house, steps from the ocean...and felt like crap. Coincidence? Perhaps. But maybe it was the fajitas from god-knows-where, the chicken thighs from not-so-happy chickens, the cheeseburger from What-a-Burger, the fruit and veggies laden with pesticides or the drinking water that had a funny smell to it.  Whatever it was, I didn't feel good. Even with all the prep I had done, I still managed to feel horrible. Funny thing is, two days after I got home, I started back with my organic, grass-fed foods and immediately started to feel better!
Maybe there isn't a connection, maybe there is, but I'm betting on the latter.
The strange thing is we noticed there are hundreds of doctor offices, therapy centers and children's therapy centers in the area. I mean on EVERY block! Why so many? Is everyone sick here?  Why is autism so high here (it's a statistic)? Is it the Mexican diet? The environment? Everyone is my husband's family uses those Knorr Bouillon cubes to cook rice, beans, salsa and soups. Those things are like little cubes of poison! Throw them out NOW!
I've had a few folks ask me what I was going to do while I traveled. So, I'll share. I packed healthy snacks and sandwiches for the plane ride (turkey sammies, almonds, gluten-free pretzels, organic apples, & lots of water). Saved us money too! When we arrived I found a local store with lots of Organic options. I purchased as many healthy things as I could for the week. I bought natural peanut butter and jelly for the girls and a few Organic fruit and veggies. But I couldn't find nitrate-free meats, sausage, lunchmeat or grass-fed options anywhere. I asked the butcher at the natural foods store if he knew how the meat was processed or where it came from and he looked at me and said "I dunno." Briefly I tried to explain what I was looking for and that I wanted meat from grass-fed animals and he said that cows are supposed to eat grain - that's how they get them fat for us to eat! WHAT!!!!!!!?????  The ignorance and stupidity astounded me. But I see a parallel too. If grain fattens cows, then it's fattening us too!

So, I'm on a new lifestyle path. My goal is to walk every day, eat as little sugar as possible, cut out as many carbs as I can and amp up the protein and veggies. I'm going to incorporate more raw food, fermented foods and more water. This is my new way of eating, every day. It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle. I've been doing it for a few weeks now and I've noticed more energy, less sugar cravings, a few pounds lost and regularity. Ok, getting a little personal, but that's a big thing for someone who suffered from IBS years ago.
As a society, we eat WAY TOO MUCH SUGAR! I realized that's what made me overweight these last 10 years. I was eating fat-free everything and cereals, pop-tarts, baked goods and sandwiches. Carbs, sugar and more sugar! If you look at the label on a fat-free item and look at its full-fat counterpart, you'll see added sugar in the fat-free version, mostly in the form of high fructose corn sugar! The evil HFCS!
So, the next time you go shopping, read the ingredient label, not the fat content. Fat is good, keeps you fuller longer. Sugar and high carbs is what's going to make you fat...I'm the poster girl for that campaign!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another ingredient makes the naughty list! Plus, a new program I developed!!

I subscribe to dozens of health-related email newsletters, blogs, websites, and magazines filling my noggin with so much information that at times, it can be overwhelming. But one of my new faves is from Dr. Mercola. His daily email blast reads like a "Breaking News" alert of dangerous health calamities, but I do find the information trustworthy and timely. So who's on the chopping block now? SOY! For years now we've been led to believe that soy is one of those healthy foods that we need to eat more of - but not so fast. We need to eat more fermented soy!  You can do your own research, but in a nutshell, soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified (yuck), grown with dozens of pesticides (yuck), contains phytoestrogens which sometimes block the hormone estrogen and have adverse effects on human tissues (double yuck),  contains goitrogens which lead to depressed thyroid function (my health problem), and contains phytates which prevent absorption of life enhancing minerals. Here's what Dr. Mercola says:

Soy Dangers Summarized

  • High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking, but only with long fermentation. High-phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.
  • Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals, soy containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth.
  • Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
  • Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
  • Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body's requirement for B12.
  • Soy foods increase the body's requirement for Vitamin D. Toxic synthetic Vitamin D2 is added to soy milk.
  • Fragile proteins are over-denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein.
  • Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
  • Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods to mask soy's unpleasant taste.
  • Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum, which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.
Holy crap!  If you read your food labels, you'll find soy lecithin, soy flour, soybean oil, hydrolyzed soy protein, and plain ole soy listed in everything from bread to snack foods. Why is this product literally in almost every food at the grocery store???!!!!  Food manufactures were looking for ways to use the leftover soybean oil and soy extracts and concocted these lovely creations that is sold to us as "health food." So get to reading, open your pantry and see how many products you have with soy in them. Then, throw them out! 

Dr. Mercola goes on to suggest the "good" soy products:
  • Tempeh a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
  • Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
  • Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor.
  • Soy sauce, which is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes; be wary because many varieties on the market today are made artificially using a chemical process.
Please note that tofu is NOT on this list. Tofu is not fermented.

BIG NEWS:  Do you know how to shop for healthy foods?  Are you unsure of what to buy? Do you want to choose Organic, healthy foods, but think you can't afford them? I've developed a new program for those who are ready to make the change from conventional, processed foods to eating clean, whole foods. I'll take you on a 2-hr tour of the grocery store and show you how to shop for healthy foods, how to save on organic, how to prevent food waste and where to get coupons for healthy foods. If you are interested in learning more, message me or make a comment! First tours start in May!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Grocery List!

Thanks to the many who commented (on Facebook) on my blog! I sometimes think I'm just writing this for myself and two or three people. I'm thankful for the feedback! So, if you're ready to make the change - it's time to go shopping. I've typed up a typical list of what I keep on hand. Keep in mind, I have a 4 and 5 1/2 year old, so you may or may not want to keep Goldfish on hand!
Pantry List:
Skippy or Jiff Natural Peanut Butter
Whole Grain Pasta, like Barilla
tuna fish in water
Rice Select Arborio & Texmati Brown Rice
Annie's Mac & Cheese, All Stars & O's (like Spaghettios)
Muir Glen Organic Canned Tomatoes
Cans of Lite Coconut Milk (to make Thai soup!)
Raw, unsalted Almonds, Cashews, pistachios
Organic Chicken Broth in boxes
Multi Grain Cheerios, Grape Nuts
McCann's Steel Cut Oatmeal
Quinoa, Barley
Organic Basmati
Synder's Organic Pretzels
Organic Tortilla Chips (regular chips are made with nasty oils, these taste much better!)
Pirate Booty
Food Should Taste Good chips
Organic Breadcrumbs (or make your own by toasting stale bread that you run through a food processor, spritz with EVOO, some herbs and S&P)
Raw Apple Cider vinegar
Organic Raisins
Flat Out Flatbread
Whole Grain Bread, Ezekiel 4:9 bread
Bags of lentils, black beans, pinto beans, no cans, too much salt
Organic bouillon, chicken base (regular stuff has hydrolyzed proteins = yuck)
Raw honey
Balsamic vinegar
Zoe Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (from Amazon)
Whole wheat flour and Spelt Flour

Organic milk
Organic juices, Honest Kids juice boxes
Real butter
Greek Yogurt, plain
Organic celery, carrots, blueberries, grapes, spinach, lettuce, kale, bell peppers, apples, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower
Organic applesauce
Onions, shallots, ginger, garlic
Low Sugar jelly, Not sugar free which has artificial sweeteners
Hellman's Lite mayo, lots of mustards
Cage free eggs, bigger, less cholesterol and more yummy nutrients
Nitrate free lunchmeats, bacon, sausage
Whole blocks of cheese for grating or slicing
real maple syrup

sustainable seafood, like shrimp, tilapia and Wild Alaskan Salmon (google sustainable seafood - there's so much wrong with the fishing industry - overfarming, pollution, farm-raised garbage)
Whole Organic chicken
Pork tenderloin
some frozen peas
frozen fruits for smoothies
organic sausage, nitrate free

I shop at Super Target, Wegman's, Safeway and sometimes Harris Teeter. I also buy some things from Amazon like Celtic Sea Salt and the EVOO. I get my supplements from (Vitamin D3, Coenzyme B-complex, digestive enzymes).
Right now, in the winter, it's hard to get certain veggies without paying through the nose for them, so I'm trying to buy seasonally. I ate a lot of butternut squash this winter. I also froze green beans that I bought last summer at the Farmer's Market.
I don't have a lot of grass-fed beef or pork yet. That's a hurdle I have to climb in two ways, it's much more expensive and I can't seem to like the taste of grass-fed beef. Grass-fed Pork and Chicken does taste better though. I just joined an Amish farm and I'm loving the grass-fed chicken and eggs!!
A good book to check out from the library is Nourishing Traditions or buy it from Amazon. It will really open your eyes up about the way we approach food these days. Lots of real food recipes. I've made a ton of turkey, chicken and beef stock lately using their recipes. A little trick is to add a splash or so of vinegar to really bring out the marrow and make your stocks super gelatinous - good for the body!

You may buy some of these ingredients and wonder, "what the heck do I make with this?!!" I starting subscribing to numerous healthy food blogs, "liking" Facebook pages of Organic cooks, getting Cooking Light magazine, Food Network mag and Natural Health magazine. I read whenever I can - stoplights, waiting for water to boil, and sometimes I'm up till midnight reading!
Ok - I think that's it - I'm going off memory of what's in the kitchen, so hopefully I remembered it all. Feel free to ask questions!
Eat Local! Eat Real! Get Healthy!
P.S. I make no claim that this list is perfect. Some whole foodies would scoff at my Skippy Natural Peanut Butter and Hellman's mayo, but let's face it - unless you have nothing going on in your life, it's hard to make everything from scratch. We strive to do the best we can, right??