Healthful Eating

Remember that commercial?  I loved that little old lady who shouted, “Where’s the beef?”  It was a hit during it’s time.

If someone were to really ask me, “Where’s the beef?”.  I would probably respond, “Who cares?”.  I admit I am not a huge meat eater by any means.  Meat actually grosses me out a little.  I hate preparing it.  The feel and smell of raw meat turns my stomach.  I don’t even like to patty up hamburgers.  Disgusting! 

However, that doesn’t mean I am totally against meat.  I do love a good cheeseburger now and again.  I just don’t ever really crave a steak, or a juicy chicken and you can just forget about eating pork.  Don’t even get me started on pork.  Pork is repulsive.  You know the whole pig/toxin thing don’t you?  Now if you are talking overly processed bacon, that’s another story for me.  I love crispy bacon.  I am a total mixed bag on meat.  However, I recognize that protein is vital for a healthy diet.  Protein gives our bodie’s cells structure, assists in making hormones and enzymes, and also is needed for growth/tissue repair.

Due to my transient and totally emotionally tied repsulsion for most meats, I try to look for more sources for protein than just meat.  I stumbled upon this great list a while back, and while I already use many of these food items in my own diet, I found a couple more great ideas.  I am a firm believer that the lower you eat on the food chain, the healthier the food. Meaning, meats are higher up on the food chain and usually have more toxins.  Plants, minus human applied ferilizers, tend to have few to no toxins. These protein sources fit that criteria as well.

Go to fullsize image1. Quinoa (pronounced KEE-nwah)  Known as the mother grain of the Andes this delicious nutty flavored grain has amino acids, a high iron content, and is quick to cook.  Look for this also in breads, pastas and other grain products.  I learned to love this grain when I was going “wheat free” for a while due to an elimination diet.  I still crave the yummy bread made with this I found at the health food store.

Go to fullsize image2.  Veggie Burgers  That’s right!  It’s a burger but absolutely no beef can be found in these.  Usually made with protein rich soy and organic vegetables, these no meat alternatives come in a bunch of tasty varieties.  Don’t be afraid of veggie burgers, they don’t taste like the cardboard veggie patties from days past.  I admit we don’t eat too many of these at my house.  Tomas thinks the only burger is one made out of beef.  I have yet to find a veggie burger that fits “his beefy manly needs”.

Go to fullsize image3.  Almonds  You all know about the delicious almond, right?  It’s the perfect snack!  High in protein and calcium while low in carbs, this little nut provides a tasty and easy meat alternative.  For best results, eat them raw.  But, don’t just eat the nut itself!  Try almond milk too!  I try to pretend that almond paste is equally as healthy when I am eating danishes or pastries, but I don’t think that counts.

Go to fullsize image4.  Yogurt  Packed with protein, calcium and good bacteria, yogurt is another healthy staple.  Stick to the organic varieties to avoid the processed extras that many brands contain.  Plain, organic, full-fat yogurt is best for you.

Go to fullsize image5.  Tempeh  I haven’t tried this yet, so I will assume that this really would be tasty.  Made from fermented soy beans and rice, tempeh is high in protein and fiber.  I have heard it has a nutty flavor and tastes great in stir frys.  Let me know what you think.  I am usually not an adventurous chef.

Go to fullsize image6.  Legumes  My favorite category!!!  Love these!!  Lentils (yum), chick peas (yum yum) and black beans (yum, yum, yum) are full of protein and fiber.  Find a healthy recipe to combine all three for a protein power pack.  We use all three in combo to make an awesome burrito.  No beef in those babies!  Just legume goodness!  Oh, and don’t even get me started on how great hummus is!

Go to fullsize image7.  Cheese  Oh, my beloved cheese!  I love cheese!  Buy all natural cheese for an awesome addition of protein to your diet.  All natural cheddar and mozzarella are the best choices for protein content. 

Eat up my friends!  As a bonus, you will save a TON of money at the grocery by switching out some of your meat for these protein choices.  Have you seen the price of meat lately??  Who needs it?


Go to fullsize imageI previously wrote about KIND Fruit and Nut Bars.  They were so delicious.  I still think about those little beauties and wish I had more right now.  In the meantime, I have tried the Boomi bar.

Here’s what the Boomi Bar has to offer:  All natural ingredients.  Most have a good amount of fiber.  Gluten free.  GMO free.  No preservatives, sulfur or hydrogenated oils.  No added sugar.  Dairy and soy free.  Totally wheat free.

I have been looking for all of those things in a good snack bar.  So, I picked one up from the health food store and to give it a shot.  I brought it home and that poor lonely bar just sat for ages in the cupboard.  Finally, I decided to give it a shot.  I was afraid that the ever so yummy KIND bar had shot my chances of liking any other bars.

I tried the Cranberry Apple Boomi Bar.  Right away, you can see the large amount of dried fruit in the bar.  It has 4grams of fiber.  Watch out however, other Boomi Bars only had 1 gram.  The ingredients in this bar are almonds, honey, apple, cranberries, dates, crisp rice and amaranth.  That’s it!  I do think I could make this bar myself (If I took the time or had the time, that is).  The first couple bites were great.  It was a little crunchy, really sweet and tasty.  About 1/2 way through the bar though, I started to get sweetened out.  I needed a little more nut to balance out the fruit.  By the end of the bar, I felt like I had just eaten a bunch of dried fruit and a couple almonds.  Plus, 20 minutes later.  I was still hungry for another snack. One day later, I saw no effects from the fiber like I had with the KIND bar.

I am trying not to be to biased but I had spent $1.90 on this bar and wanted something more satisfying.  It might be my personal taste of course.  I like more crunch than squish in my food.  This Boomi Bar tasted fine it was just too sweet for my salt addicted taste buds (since pregnancy, I just crave salty foods). 

 My one major thought was this, for the price and what you tasted/got in the bar, why not go to the grocery, get a bunch of dried fruit and some nuts and make a trail mix?  You would save money per serving (I am sure) and you could control the balance of crunch vs. squish.  In other words, save your $2 for some other healthy treat that gives you a little more satisfaction.

Next up in my quest for the perfect healthy snack bar:  The Larabar.  The Larabar shares many of the same offerings as the past 2 bars and was voted best snack bar by “Men’s Health”.  We’ll see if those men know what they are talking about.  I hope so, because hubby picked up a whole box of them from Sam’s Club.

I have been watching a lot of television the past couple days.  More than I care to admit.  I have come to the conclusion that it’s basically all trash.  Especially, this one particular set of commercials.  The one’s that talk about how high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made of corn, so it’s okay.  It makes my blood boil everytime I see one of them.  Then I go on a tirade informing anyone who’s near me, that the commercials are all lying liars.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s one of them:

My favorite part is the part that says, “It’s just like sugar and okay in moderation.”  Well, that’s the frickin’ problem!  HFCS pushers are making us think we have easy control to keep our intake in moderation.  Have you looked at all your food labels?  HFCS is in many of our “healthy” foods (yogurt, cereals, whole grain breads & crackers, etc.).  It’s in almost any of your sauces and condiments.  Of course, you will find it listed in any type of “snacky type” of junk food.  It is so pervasive. How can we eat this lovely highly processed corn product in moderation if we buy anything that comes in a package?

Nice try, you health destructors!  I will not be fooled by your propaganda!  Sadly, I fear that many Americans may be swayed slightly by their commercial hoopla.  Keep up your guard, people and continue to read those labels to save yourself from the highly unnutritious, severely processed HFCS.  There are options, you just have to be vigilant.

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Since I discovered that Fiber One Bars were the work of the devil, I have been on a search for a new tasty, yet healthy snack bar.  I need high nutritional value, good fiber, and little processed junk.  Numerous people have recommended the KIND Fruit & Nut Bars.  I tried them.  I am hooked.  Hook and line and sinker.

These yummy, yummy bars are hand made in Australia.  Which just happens to be home to Patrick Rafter, one of the cutest tennis players of all time.  Wait, I mean THE cutest tennis player of all time.  That fact just added to their appeal.  The hand made part was also big for me.  I picture my grandma in a kitchen fixing up some KIND bars just for me.

KIND Bars are made with premium almonds, Brazilian Nuts, walnuts, peanuts, and chunks of all natural fruit held together by honey.  Because fruit and nuts can lower your risk of disease, you can feel great about what you are eating.  There are about 10 different KIND bars.  Plus, they just added KIND PLUS bars with added antioxidants and omega-3s.  The Cranberry Almond flavor looks absolutely delicious.

I tried the Almond & Coconut bar.  If you like coconut and almonds, this is the bar for you.  It tasted like the inside of an Almond Joy candy bar.  I was in heaven.  It was a little crunchier than other bars, but that didn’t bother me.  The honey held it together nicely so it didn’t crumble everywhere and created a nice balance of sweetness.  This particular bar is also gluten free, wheat and dairy free.  Has a good amount of fiber (4grams) and absolutely no trans fat.  There were only 7 ingredients in the whole bar to think about too.  Making label reading short and sweet.  The best part was, I never had any GI upset from it and the fiber also “did it’s job” for my intestines.  Unlike Fiber One, which rips a path through your intestines along the way.

KIND Bars slogan is “Be Kind to your body.  Be Kind to your taste buds.  Be Kind to the world.  It is brought to us by Peaceworks.  A not-only-for-profit company that seeks to foster peace through business.  Just another plus to buying these great snacks. 

Then there’s the downside.  The price.  Of course, something this good doesn’t come cheap.  I paid just under $2 for one bar.  Not a real bargain.  But it was a high quality product.  I am definitely going to look for these at a cheaper price, since $2 a bar is not something I can afford on a regular basis.  I noticed that there are online websites that offer discounts for buying them by the box, so maybe that’s a possibility. 

I am going to be trying some more bars, and I will let you know how they rate.  The next one, I have in my little fingers is a Cranberry Apple Boomi Bar.  I like the name and it also has 4g fiber, is vegetarian and also has 7 ingredients.  We shall see how that rates.  It’s considerably smaller in size, but it might be just as filling.  I’ll keep you updated on my quest for a great nutritious, affordable fiberous snack bar.

Fruit of pomegranateOh, pomegranate! Oh, pomegranate!
“You are so lovely with your orb like shape and 600 seeds.
Your juice is ripe with flavor and tart.
Your fruit is edible but I am a juice girl at heart.

Served in a cocktail, a cordial or martini.
All are delicious but what I like most is you in green tea.”

Alright folks! Wasn’t that a lovely little diddy? I wrote it myself. I just thought I would mention that because you probably thought it was Yeats or Dickens and were just going to grab your “Poetry 101” book to find this beautiful piece of art. So stop what your book shelf searching, just go to your higher end local grocer or health food store and find yourself some of this tea I speak of.

I have posted before about tea here. I really try to drink a couple large mugs of green tea everyday.  And now that it’s summer, there’s no better drink than some iced green tea while sitting on the back deck.  Now, for the past year I have been hooked on one certain tea.  Pomegranate Green Tea by Yogi Teas.  So yummy!

Here’s why I like it:  Green Tea is light tasting and mixed with the tart pom, it’s so refreshing warm or cold.  Both green tea and pom are packed with antioxidants.  Pomegranate is a “superfruit” which means it’s been recognized “for it’s nutrient richness and antioxidant qualities with appealing taste”. It’s known for it’s positive effects on cardiovascular and skin health.  

Green Tea itself has been studied for some time for it’s amazing health benefits.  Some claim that green tea will slow down neurological diseases such as alzheimers and parkinsons.  More possible healthful benefits include:  improving multiple sclerosis symptoms, neutralizing free radicals in your body which will damage cell membranes, lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol thus improving cardiovascular health, and increasing metabolism (many claims have been made that green tea assists in weight loss).  Plus as an added bonus, the L-Theanine that is present in green teas is a great natural mood enhancer and anxiety reducer.  Drink up and feel the relaxation flow through your body…Ommm…

Pair these two together and you have a health super power.  Having done an internship researching the effects of antioxidants on precancerous cells and free radicals in the body, I am always up for adding more of these powerhouses into my diet.  I have had numerous family members, both immediate and extended, suffer from different forms of cancer and heart disease.  So, I pay particular attention to foods that have these characteristics.  I am tempted to hook it up in an IV and receive large doses at once, but then I couldn’t taste it’s deliciousness. 

Now, I will tell you that I am sure that many tea manufacturers sell this combo.  However, you must buy Yogi Tea.  Not only do they have one of the best tasting green tea (have you ever had green tea that tasted “fishy”?  That is disgusting.), but on every individual tea bag is a little quote of wisdom or inspiration.  That is the best part of it all.  It’s a little warm fuzzy along with some of the best tasting tea EVER!

Go to fullsize imageThe topic of bottle water amazes me.  I can’t believe that we all spend so much money on water in a bottle.  I I understand it when people are travelling and have no other convenient water source or if people have really bad well water at home and don’t want to drink rotten egg water for ever.  But for most people I know, bottled water is pure luxury.  So what’s the draw?  Most people who I know who drink lots of bottle water, claim it is “more pure” and healthier than regular tap water.  Hmmm…I am not so sure about that.

Have you heard about the bottled “spring water” that actually came from a well located near a hazardous waste site?  Or the “pure glacier water” that came from a public water system in Alaska (a.k.a. “the tap”)?  Did you know that 25% of all bottled water comes from a public water source, the same as our tap water?  Why are we paying oodles of dollars over time for tap water in a plastic bottle?

Like I said, some people feel that bottled water is healthier.  While most bottle water is free and clear of contaminants there has been instances where harmful bacteria and chemicals were found in bottle water.  Just because it’s in a bottle doesn’t mean it’s sterile and safer than tap water.  Tap water is processed and regularly tested for bacteria and chemical levels.  The last major study investigating bottled water was in 1999.  Due to some regulatory inconsistencies, about 60-70% of bottled water is free of FDA oversight and regulations.  This includes those big water cooler jugs.  What happens is that the FDA does require regular testing but bottle water is considered a low risk item and often deadlines for inspection are stretched to make time for more pressing contamination issues.

In fact, you may not even be aware that bottled water has been contaminated.  Often, the bottling company simply has that batch pulled from store shelves.  They are not required to report mold, benzene, coliform, and microbes detection directly to the consumer.  This happened about 100 times in the past 10 years.  Granted, it’s not a major statistic but if you are concerned, you should know the facts.

If you are starting to think that maybe just maybe that bottle water is a little bit of a rip-off join the club.  Save that $1-$2 you would normally and put it into your gas tank.  Don’t contribute to petroluem product dependency and avoid buying those plastic bottle filled with tap water.  Let’s face it, not everybody is as great at recycling plastic as we are!  Go the “Biggest Loser” way and filter your own water into a reusable container.  Keep a jug of filtered tap water (or just tap water) in your refrigerator.  You will save yourself from having to buy bottled water and also save water by not waiting for the blue stuff to get cold as it runs from your tap.

Wait!  There’s more!  A couple friends of mine and I have a running joke that Meijer brand bottled water was simply water that they got from the drinking fountain in the back of the store and put in bottles.  I am not sure about that particular brand’s source yet, but you should not be fooled by words thrown on labels such as “pristine” and “pure”.  Aquafina has started to indicate (in small type I am sure) that their water is from a public water source (tap water from Wichita, Kansas).  Dasani acknowledges on it’s website that it’s bottled water comes from a local source such as tap water from Queens, New York or Jacksonville, FL (with minerals added of course).  Nestle Pure Life water indicates on the bottle if the water is from public, private or deep well resources.

All in all, you will find a lot of he said/she said about tap versus bottled water.  I have simply chosen to drink filtered tap water whenever I can.  I rarely buy bottled water unless I am travelling and it’s all that seems to be available.  I do always start off my trip with 2 reusable water bottles filled with tap water.  I also will frequent a drinking fountain now and again if I am on short jaunts and find myself thirsty.  Remember those things?  I know, they can be a little germy and sometimes taste funny.  But they will work in a pinch.  Also, when I am at my favorite restaurant and they ask if I want “bottled or tapped”, I will always reply, “I’d like to tap that”. 

Bottled water resources:  Aquafina is tapBottle Water Terms/Info$8 million business

Go to fullsize image  Have any of you seen the little video “The Story of Stuff”?    Go watch…Do it…Just do it…I know you want to… 

I watched this 20 minutes of fun filled information a while back and I have kept thinking about it.  It connects environmental issues with social issues.  It makes you think about the process of creating/using/disposing all of the stuff you use everyday.  Okay, it makes you feel like you are back in high school watching a video in environmental science class but if you are interested in the process of rethinking your consumer choices, you may want to take a look at this.  Plus, there’s nothing great on the magic box in your living room anyway.  If you are not up for watching the video take a gander at the facts taken from the video listed below.

I hope all you breast feeding mothers are as shocked as I was about the fact that the food with the highest contaminant level is a mother’s breast milk.  Of course, that’s going to vary from mother to mother depending on what they eat and where they live.  It just goes to show that everything is connected within the environment.  You contaminate the grass(grain) and water with fertilizer and other chemicals recklessly tossed onto earth’s surface.  The cow eats and drinks both of these now chemically laced items and also succombs to chemical “supplements” to make them super producers.  Every chemical ingested courses through their bodies.  Some of them are expelled.  Others are stored within fat or muscle cells.

The cow is butchered for food or milked for dairy products.  We process these food items with more chemicals to maintain freshness and add flavor to the food that has been already modified by synthetic materials twice over.  Meat and dairy are stored and prepared for ingestion by humans in plastic containers which will not only further contaminate the food but also sit in the growing number of landfills around the world for hundreds of years (unless recycled). 

Finally, the food is sitting warm on the table.  The mother eats her “health” piece of food.  The chemicals from the grass, the water, the cow, the processing, and the storage container have now entered into her body and are distributed throughout along with the other environmental toxins she meets on a daily basis.  The baby nurses at this mother’s breast and peacefully consumes every chemical that met the grass, that met the water, that entered the cow, that prepared the meat, and mingled with others in the human body.  It’s the process of accumulation through the food chain.  Fascinating, yet totally disturbing.

Please, make a major change for you and your family.  Eliminate one source of toxin that is entering your body.  For example: High Fructose Corn Syroup.  Once you have settled into that routine, tackle another.  Over time, you will have made some drastic reductions in your chemical consumption and llikely a reduction in chronic/fatal disease.

The Story of Stuff: A Brief List

  • 2000 trees a minute are cut down in the Amazon alone. That is 7 football fields a minute!
  • 80% of the world’s forests are gone.
  • The US has less than 4% of its forests left.
  • 40% of our waterways are undrinkable.
  • The US has 5% of the world’s population and 30% of the waste.
  • 75% of global fisheries have been fished beyond capacity.
  • 100,000 synthetic chemicals are used in production today.
  • Bromated Flame Retardants (BFR) neurotoxins (toxins to brain) are in computers, mattresses, pillows
  • Food with highest level of contaminants is mother’s milk.
  • 200,000 people a day are moving to cities from environments that no longer support them.
  • US industry *admits* to 4 billion pounds of toxic pollution released per year (likely far more).
  • Average person consumes twice as much as 50 years ago.
  • We see more ads in one year than people 50 years ago saw in a lifetime. 3,000 ads a day!
  • People in US spend three to four times as much time shopping as Europeans do.
  • Average house size has doubled in the US since the 1970’s.
  • Average American creates 4.5 lbs. garbage a day — an amount doubled from 30 years ago.
  • For every one garbage can you put out at the curb, 70 cans were filled by all the processes
    needed in order to make it.
  • 99% of all those things we buy are not in use after 6 months.
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