Friday, January 29, 2010

More Restaurant Yumminess!

Well, I don't want to be too much of a food police, taking away foods you may like... but, I do think you may be interested in knowing what you're eating! So, first it was a study about the fountain drinks... now it's the burgers. I must admit, I enjoy the taste of a good steak, or the summer grill foods. But, well, always good to know what's going in to your body!

So, this article was sent on to me from a dietitian colleague who specializes in food sensitivities. The article was published in Daily Dose with William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.

Enjoy! ...and maybe threat yourself to some good organic, local, natural-fed beef if you're really gonna go for that burger :)


The ugly truth behind ground beef

I hope you're not having hamburger tonight...because this story might change your dinner plans.

One of the key suppliers of hamburger "meat" is coming under tests show a disturbing number of E. coli and salmonella pathogens, according to a disturbing report in the New York Times.

Want to know why I put "meat" in quotes?

Are you sure?

In an ideal world, a butcher runs a piece of steak through a grinder, and you get hamburger. That's how I get mine, and if that's how you get yours then you've got nothing to fear.

But fast food, supermarket and even school lunch burgers are made differently. They use "meat" from different sources, like trimmings.

Trimmings are scraps of fatty pieces left over in the slaughterhouse after all the good cuts of meat have been taken. Believe me, I love beef -- the fattier, the better. But this is awful garbage that I wouldn't touch.

Once upon a time, this stuff was destined for pet food. Today, it's added to burgers from coast to coast, thanks largely to a company called Beef Products Inc.

The company developed a technique that liquefies the trimmings, runs them through a centrifuge to separate the fat from the protein, then injects it with ammonia in an attempt to kill pathogens.

Then it's turned into blocks and chips that are used to beef up hamburgers. The company sells 7 million pounds of it every week, and school lunch burgers are now 15 percent trimmings.

Did I mention that it's really, really cheap? It better be -- after all, it was practically worthless when they found it on the slaughterhouse floor.

The Times found one message from a USDA microbiologist who called this junk "pink slime" and wrote, "I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling."

Naturally, he was ignored. So were the other microbiologists who were disgusted by this process.

Instead, the USDA approved this technique and then decided it was so foolproof that they could leave the company in charge of its own testing.

You can see where this is going now, right?

The Times investigation found a disturbing pattern of E. coli and salmonella contamination. that could force changes on the system -- someday.

But as of now, "pink slime" is still in your burgers -- and it's probably here to stay.

The lesson here is to avoid all factory meat. Buy only meat from grass-fed cows from a quality butcher or small farm -- and only eat hamburger when you can see a fresh cut of beef go into the grinder yourself.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday Words: Label Reading

Label Reading

As you probably have noticed, I would encourage you to buy and eat mostly foods that DON'T contain food labels - fresh fruits and fresh veggies. But there will of course be items that do have labels. I just wanted to look at a few terms found on food packaging labels, but there are many, many, many terms.

And, boy howdy, can they be sneaky!

Did you know that "fat free" doesn't really mean fat free? And that "calorie free" doesn't mean there are zero calories?

Ahhh, and the fun begins!

So, here's the top two tricky lingo you may see on a package, and what it can legally mean.

Calorie Free: Less than 5 calories per serving

Fat Free: Less than 0.5g of fat per serving

Yup, on labeling, they are allowed to simply round number down.

Another trick with fat free - it SO does not mean "calorie free"! If there's less fat, chances are the flavor is being made up with extra sugar and/or salt. Just because a cookie is "fat free" or "diet" doesn't mean it's helpful towards your weight goals - and by no means will it guarantee natural and healthy! Chances are, it's a highly-processed nutrient-depleted, love-it-for-a-moment-feel-guilty-later hunk of immediate gratification that does not lend itself towards natural, healthy, beautifying goodness. Better than an even more yucky option? Maybe. Worth it for the moment if you truly enjoy it and won't feel guilty later? Possibly. But that's your call.

Fun stuff, eh? ;-)

When working at a weight-loss retreat, the best examples of this were seen with a spray butter, and artificial sweeteners, both that claimed "fat free, calorie free." One poor woman would douse her potatoes, salads, vegetables... with the "fat free, calorie free" butter spray, assuming that would be conducive to her diet plans. The catch? She was going through about 1 bottle a week, which - despite misleading labeling - contained something like a whopping 200g fat, and over 1000 calories!

Little packets of sweeteners can be the same. Nutrasweet, Splenda, Equal, etc - debates on being potential carcinogens aside - all tend to average 4 calories per packet. So, legally, they can claim to be "calorie free." One woman liked to sweeten her daily yogurt with 3 packs, her cottage cheese with 2 packs, her coffees with 4+ each, her pineapple with 3 packs... In a day, she said she was adding well over 20 packs per day. So, from "calories free" items, she was adding almost 100 calories PER DAY from "calorie free" foods. Perhaps you feel 100 calories isn't that big a deal, but when you're basing your weight goals on counting calories, that extra 100 per day can add up to an additional pound per month that you aren't losing as you expected!

So, be label savvy, and also label minimizing - go for the good stuff! The natural, healthy, healing, vibrant stuff that doesn't need all the confusing jargon anyways!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Smoozie!

So, after enjoying yesterday's prurple-green smoothie/Smoozie, Dave and I enjoyed another one for breakfast today! Sadly, this one didn't seem quite as filling though - perhaps because I did a pretty good workout at the gym before breakfast. (Which is why I always keep a supply of healthy snacks at work!)
After the gym, I enjoyed a glass of water with half a lemon squeezed in. And why is that lemon so good? Vitamin C, alkaline, and healthy enzymes, that's why! Then, after getting cleaned up, I whipped up this bad boy:
Today still had the same green base:
2-3 c spinach
4 kale leaves
Then I added some fruits:
1 apple
1 pear
1/2 lemon
1 orange
1 c blueberries
Quite the antioxidant kick yet again! And all those wonderful detoxing enzymes from the kale. Plus loads of Vitamin C to help the immune system this blustery winter day. Brrr!
Tonight, I just may curl up and study with some warmed vegan hot chocolate - free from all the high acidity and inflamming properties of processed sugars and chocolates, and acidic, mucus-forming dairy. It's a simple recipe if you have the ingredients on hand:
1 c unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbs agave nectar (or to taste)
1 Tbs cacao powder (or to taste)
Warm and enjoy!
Oh, and in case you were curious - those 4 cookies from my coworker yesterday ARE STILL SITTING there! Go will power! I'll enjoy them later this week. But honestly, for now, I'm okay as long as I don't see them!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Smoozie

And the morning is off to a great start, kicking butt of lethargy and disease! Since it’s my late day at work, I got up, did a rather intense 45 minutes on the elliptical machine, and Dave and I shared a giant green smoothie for breakfast!

2 apples, 1 pear, 1 lemon, 1 cup mixed berries
1-2 cup spinach, 3 leaves dinosaur kale
Water to thin and smooth

Even Dave said he didn’t find it to be too “green” a green smoothie (and really, all those berries made it look more like a purple smoothie! Kind of reminiscent of the Smooze from my childhood…. Ahhh, My Little Ponies!)

And, with that wonderful arsenal of antioxidants, fiber, and health, I head to work where (akk! Oh no!) my wonderful co-worker hands me a bag of home made chocolate chip cookies!!


Oddly enough, I didn’t really want them! I was able to tuck them away (definitely an “out of sight, out of mind” thing) and hope to save them for the weekend :)

Work was so busy I ended up missing lunch (*sigh!*) but I’ll munch on my snack veggies as I head home. Broccoli and celery – nothing exciting, but when you’re hungry, it’s mmm, mmm, good! (And as always, mmm, mmm, healthy!)

Got home and dove head first into Fire Ants! And, ok, honestly, sometimes I'm too lazy to make them this pretty every time. Some days, I just dump goji's and raisins in a pile, scoop the almond butter with the celery piece, and just roll that in the berry pile. Either way, yum-tastic health!

Have a great evening!

Hugs and all that good stuff :)


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Natural Growth

Well, ADDN has become An ALMOST Daily Dose of Natural :) Life is busy! But enjoy this story, and let me know if there are topics you are interested in! I have many things I find interesting and want to share, but also love to help teach and un-confuse the chaotic jumble that is nutrition research and media hype! So enjoy today's post :)



(Based on this story)

Just another thing I recommend to stay natural with!

Wow, how hard would it be as an adolescent, to hear your parents were willing to dump some serious money just to make you taller? Would this excite you? Or would it make you feel that you weren’t meeting some crazy potential that they expect of you – even though it’s genetic, and beyond your control? One father was willing to pay $45,000 yearly for a doctor to give his 14 year old growth hormone shots so the son (already 5’6”) would be taller. And these rGH shots can increase chances for diabetes, scoliosis, and even cancer according to some studies.

To me, it’s sad. Your height is your height. As a child, I towered over the kids in my class. And, yes, I hated it. But I never would have desired medical treatment to change it! Today, I have become accepting of my stature, and – though I slip into the old slumping posture at times – I am glad my parents pushed me in things like learning, exploring, and questioning, rather than making me feel bad for having the wrong genes (which were supplied by the parents, might I remind them!)

Lets let children grow naturally, healthfully, to the best potential they have budding within them.

Sorry, that's my soapbox for today. :)

See you soon!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Bananas Galore!

Lately, I have been craving bananas and I’m not sure why. I tend to have at least one a day, and some days as many as 5! I’m going to grow a peel soon!

I felt kind of bad about this, as I always had this view that the banana was the “junk food” of the fruit realm – that it was a higher sugar content and lower nutritional value food. So I looked in to this more. (Of course, I’m not going to beat myself up one way or the other – either way, bananas are leaps and bounds better than the old cheesy, salty, fatty, chocolatey things I used to gorge on!)

As a fruit, it is known as a potassium power house. True, there are other great sources of potassium, but I like my bananas these days! (Especially with a little bit of copper-rich cashew butter. Yumm!) But bananas are also a great source of vitamin B6 and even has Vitamin C!

This little guy also has been found to help with stomach ulcers by helping first to produce a thicker mucus lining in your stomach to provide a stronger barrier against acids. Bananas also contain protease inhibitors which may help eliminate the stomach bacteria that has been accused of causing ulcers. They have also been tagged as a good food after dealing with, shall I say, excessive eliminations from your colon. :)
Need more? The greener the banana, the better for you blood sugar – it will be a much less drastic peak and crash of your sugar levels so that’s good! But what if you like your banana very yellow, even slightly browning? True, it about doubles in the affect it can have on your blood sugar - BUT! The University of Innsbruck in Austria finds that fully ripened bananas carry a heavier antioxidant punch. And it is more alkaline at that riper stage. So, pick your perk! (Maybe add some almond butter to slow the blood sugar spike.)

Yet another added perk: bananas’ high fiber content can protect your heart from disease.

So, while variety is always best, for me and my taste buds, we’ll continue to enjoy bananas as I crave them! :)

Have a beautiful weekend!

PS - An easy recipe idea (not my own - I forget where I first learned this one.)
Take 2 bananas, slice and freeze. Then whip them into submission in a food processor for a healthy, all natural "frozen yogurt" dessert! No fattening creams, no acidic sugars... just pure health! I am experimenting with all-natural, all health cacao sauces, I'll keep you posted :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fire Ants on a Log

Here's a little recipe modification that I like... (and no, it's not actually flambéed, heated, or spicy. Bait and switch! Ha ha! Oh, and no real ants or logs either, just in case you were wondering about that, too...)

Many of us are familiar with the "ants on a log" snack: celery stick with peanut butter and raisins.

I prefer to use other nuts (See Not So Nuts About Peanuts post): almond and cashew are my favorites. If you don't make your own, try to find brands that are organic and definitely make sure they don't have added salts, sugars, or other additives! The ingredient list should just consist of the nut used. And instead of just raisins, I like to use soaked goji berries! (They're red, hence "fire ants.")

I take a little container and fill it with goji berries and water, let it sit for a while - it'd probably be okay with only about 10 minutes, but I just stick them in the fridge the night before so they're all pretty and plump in the morning when I pack my lunch! Spread a thin layer of nut butter on the celery, and top with goji (and maybe some organic raisins.) The raisins can add some sweetness, as I don't think the goji has a whole lot of strong flavors; or, cashew butter has some natural sweetness to it, so sometimes that's enough and I don't need the raisins at all!

This snack is great:

The water-rich celery is packed with Vitamins C and K, as well as phthalides (no, I did not misspell that!), which may help lower cholesterol, and coumarins, that may be useful in cancer prevention!

Goji berries (also called wolfberries), like most other berries, are rich in antioxidants to help prevent diseases and cell damage; and the polysaccharides in gojis may help with prevention and treatment of cancer
. They are usually sold in health food stores dried. If you are interested in trying these, you may want to experiment with various brands, as companies often have varying dehydration times leading to differing hardness levels.

Almonds are full of Vitamin E, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, and even tryptophan - a compound that helps make the happy-chemical serotonin! Good moods, here we come! ;-) They're also a good source of monounsaturated fats (healthy!) And if that wasn't enough - almonds are also good for helping decrease your blood-sugar after eating to help prevent that pesky spike-and-crash.

Or if you went with the cashew butter, then you're getting a great dose of copper (yep, your body needs that! It's not just for pennies!) Copper helps with elimination of free radicals (damaging to your cells and skin – which shows as signs of aging), development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment, melanin. Cashews are also rich in monounsaturated fats - specifically oleic acid, which is good for your cardiovascular health.

And, as always – have fun experimenting in the kitchen! Perhaps you like to drizzle some honey over it; or sprinkle on some cloves; or use dehydrated cherries or apricots… play! And enjoy your wholesome treat!

Have a great evening!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday Words

Today's Wednesday Word is more of a concept: BMI!

To piggy-back on the exercise video... I was thinking more about exercise and healthy weight. Someone made a comment to me that "according to my BMI, I am over weight." And I looked at them, and was shocked they thought that! They looked good and strong, but not with excess fat. So, I thought commenting on BMI and some exercising may be good to put in here...

BMI, or
Body Mass Index, is a generalized formula to figure out the ratio of your weight to your height. More weight typically is interpreted as "more fat." And for some people, that's true. But what about muscle? Muscle is heavy, too! The common example people give for this is Arnold Schwarzenegger (especially when he was a professional body builder.) At one point, while standing at 6'2" and 250 pounds, the BMI chart would have labeled him a resounding "obese" at 32.1 kg/m2. But, since he was probably mostly some good rock-hard muscle, though the chart may have defined him as overweight, he surely was not "over fat." And there is a difference.

The point? Just like the numbers on a scale shouldn't define you, neither should the number on a BMI chart. This BMI concept is not 100% indicitive of your health. Use it to get an idea, and be honest with yourself regarding your health.

BMI is simply one more screening tool to gauge your health, but it is not definitive. Yes, it can give you an idea, but if you are highly focused on strength training (and you should be incorporating at least some strength training!) as you gain muscle, you may not see that scale budge since you might be putting on muscle weight while losing fat weight. What you want to look out for is putting on excess fat weight. If you really feel the need to know numbers, the best bets are waist to hip ratio, or to find your percenft body fat (but that's not always to get the equipment for.) Or don't stress about numbers, and just take the steps towards healthier, natural living! Make sure you are trying to balance healthy nutrition, cardio, strength training, flexibility and stretching, a healthy attidude and stress management skills! These are all important components for a healthy lifestyle.

Breathe deep, you're halfway through the week!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"You Can't Out-Train and Bad Diet"

Hello, hello, everyone!

This post is inspired by this video from my one of my sports nutrition colleagues. I thought this was an interesting video that makes a good point. It's pizza versus treadmill! Fat versus fit!

(Disclaimer: I know nothing about this company,, and have no connections with them. I am simply sharing their publicly posted video, as I like the message.)

The point it makes is one that's pretty simple, yet something I think we often forget. In Diet Vs. Exercise, you have to actually realized that these two shouldn't be fighting. You need to coordinate and team up diet AND exercise to fight the flab! (And fight disease, fatigue, self-esteem, toxins, etc.)

I know, I've been there - I tell myself "it's okay to gorge on this pizza - I'll go for a jog tomorrow." Or even the other way "Well, I did a decent workout at the gym this morning, I deserve that extra scoop of ice cream!" Riiiight? Who hasn't tried to manipulate themselves that way!?

In fact, I’m using writing this post as a distraction from the ice cream in my parents’ freezer, right now!! I ran this morning, don’t I “deserve” ice cream?! Maybe, if I choose that – but I know that I work hard to be healthy, and I prefer to “deserve” more energy, less excess weight, and less aging wrinkles and joint pains! :)

The frustrating thing: bad diet adds up fast! While I don’t do the counting calories deal, I do know that too much processed junk likes to gunk up the digestive system, and adds calories super fast! Fruits and vegetables are about impossible to over-indulge; so I will stick with green smoothies and fruit for now!

The video is a 5 minute clip that makes a fun view of diet vs. exercise. Competitor 1 takes 3 minutes to run as fast as he can on the treadmill (10 to 11 miles an hour! Wow! Maybe some day I’ll get there!!) Competitor 2 is downing a pizza. Who gets the greater calorie change? Well, probably pretty obviously, Competitor 2 ingests far more calories than Competitor 1 burns: 800 calories eaten in 3 minutes; 43 calories burnt. Niiiiiice.

Unless you're one of the lucky few, you probably have a mostly sedentary job and life. When you live a mostly sedentary life, it can be extra critical to keep your food intake natural and modest. And do whatever you can to increase your activity levels! Take a dance class, bike for errands, join an indoor soccer team, volunteer with habitat for humanity... just something to get you up and working in a way you can enjoy! I enjoy my gym visits, but I know that I, too, need to make activity a more regular part of my life.

Good luck, and make sure to balance activity AND a daily dose of natural health! :)



(if only!) :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Siesta!

Just a quick note to encourage you to continue on in health! YOU CAN DO IT!! Keep taking steps towards health - lessening processed foods, caffeine, smoking... Push for natural, vibrant health! Change takes time, and changing a life time of habits won't happen over night. But every step is a victory for the battle towards health! :)

I am enjoying the day off from a long post while visiting with family, but have no fear! I doozey is near!

Tomorrow: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on a favorite snack food... come back and see! :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Simple Crave-Control Technique

Well I am getting ready to kick off a lovely three day weekend with the family :) Hopefully you have some enjoyable things planned.

I hope to just relax!

And along with relaxing – breathing!

(Well, of course you’re going to breath, silly girl – like you have a choice?!)

I mean more than just normal breathing. You may already be familiar with the connection between breathing and stress reduction. If you’re not, here’s the skinny: slow, deep breaths can help reduce stress!

That’s it! Simple!

But I find another benefit to a few deep breaths: regaining control over food cravings.

The conflict of food can be a real source of stress for some people! When something is presented in front of me, my mind beings to wage war – The tongue is screaming to indulge; the body is asking for healthy foods. While it’s subtle, I have noticed that I start to tense up – my mind races between motivational quips to stop me, and simultaneously dumps a whirlwind of excuses and reasonings as to why indulgence is fine. (Don’t get me wrong – occasional indulgence IS fine. I’m taking about an on-going, too-often occurrence!)

When a person is anxious, breathing naturally shallows, along with a host of other automatic
processes. But if you intervene, force yourself to calm down and breathe deeply, quiet your mind, I find you can often regain control and lessen the stress!

It’s not fool-proof, but it has helped me many a’time!

(And I have read from a source that I can’t recall right now, a theory that extra oxygen is beneficial to the body – keeps you more alkaline. And hyperbaric chambers pump oxygen into sick and injured individuals under the premise that various diseases cannot thrive in high oxygen environments. So hey! There may be additional bonuses besides kicking the craving!)

Hang in there, enjoy life, smile, and know you’re lovely! :D


Friday, January 15, 2010

Winter Salad

Boy, it sure can be hard to find good fresh produce during the winter months! I tried some watermelon the other day, and yechk!!! I knew it was a gamble, being out of season, but goodness!

And not only that - prices are higher!

So, I wanted to find a cheaper alternative. And, voila! Winter salad!

1 c spinach
1 c romaine
1 gala apple, diced (organic, with the skin!)
1 Tbs agave nectar, or to taste (or you can use honey, or pure maple syrup)
sprinkle with organic raisins
cinnamon, to taste
1/4 lemon juiced (you can probably omit this if you're eating your salad right away - I put it on because it helps prevent the apple from being oxidized and thus turning brown as it sits at work waiting for lunch time!)

Ahhh, winter produce, with my favorite winter spice: cinnamon!

And the oh-so-humble apple. Such a common fruit, so overlooked. While it may not have a grandiose list of exotic sounding benefits like my friend the kale leaf, apple has its place in the health food hall of fame -- as long as you're getting that skin! Which is why it's important to get organically grown apples, and still wash it off.

An apple has its fair share of antioxidants, insoluble and soluble fiber, and flavonoids - all focused on heart health!
So enjoy that apple a day! (Or other health fruits!)
Have an awesome weekend!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Poop Pop

Mmmmm, with a title like that, you KNOW this is gonna be good!

I hope pop is something you try to avoid to begin with, but now, maybe you’ll have extra motivation to abstain from fountain drinks when you go out!

Pop is already a drink to skip as much as possible with all it’s chemicals and sugar (diet or not!) It’s a very acid-forming food (wrinkles! Akk!), and there are studies now linking soda intake with bad bones. Calcium is a very alkaline substance, so if you’re dumping acid pop (or coffee!) into your system, your body will pull calcium from its stores to help buffer it. And where is a lot of calcium stored? Bones and teeth, my friend. Bones and teeth.

Well, here’s what’s new with pop…

It may have poop in it.
Uh, say again?

The International Journal of Food Microbiology did a study that was published this month. They went to soda fountain machines and tested them for bacteria. In testing, they really did check all options: regular soda, diet soda, water, and even the ice dispenser. Ahhh, and what wonderful little things did they find? Thankfully, the ice water tested just fine. But 48% had coliform bacteria, which can be found in an aquatic environment, in soil, on vegetation, or most commonly… (dun dun duuuuun) in fecal matter of warm-blooded animals. Gross!

The report goes on to say over 11% of the beverages tested had Escherichia coli, and over 17% had Chryseobacterium meningosepticum. But wait! There’s more! A whole line up of microorganisms were waiting in line: Klebsiella, Staphylococcus, Stenotrophomonas, Candida, and Serratia. And to top it all off, most of the identified bacteria showed resistance to one or more of the 11 antibiotics tested.
Awesome. Drug-resistant poopy pop.
Chances are your immune system can handle it, but still! So, if you’re eating out at a restaurant, well, now you have yet another reason to opt out of pop. Go for the water – it’s healthier, it’s cheaper, and it’s cleaner. Squeeze a little lemon in to help with that good ol' alkalinity and beneficial enzymes! And just sip – you don’t want to over dilute your stomach acid anyways, because that's what's going to help you digest your dinner better and faster, not leaving you feeling bloated and backed up.

Have a great day! It’s Friday Eve! :)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday Words

I realized that I have been throwing a lot of terms around, so I thought I'd delve into them now and then.

So, today: Free Radicals and Antioxidants

They go hand-in-hand. Quick and dirty (and extremely simplified): in overabundance, free radicals damage you; antioxidants prevent it.

Free radicals are unstable molecules. They can be formed from pollutants, cigarette smoke, stresses on you and your body, and other unhealthy lifestyle factors. They will go and "steal" electrons from other molecules (oxidize them) to try to stabilize themselves - which essentially begins a large chain-reaction of weakening or damaging your cells. Your body can handle a lot of this and repair itself (the body is an amazing thing! But you do need to treat it well.) If the damage adds up over time, this can lead to cancer, heart disease, early aging signs, and other health problems.

Antioxidants include some vitamins (vitamins C, E), carotenoids, chemicals like resveratol (from grapes) and EGCG (in green and white teas), phytochemicals (other compounds found in whole foods), and many more. They can go in and help stabilize that shaky free radical and even undo some of the damage!

So make sure every day to disrupt the balance in your favor! Different color foods have different antioxidant properties, that's why it's recommended to "eat a rainbow" of produce (no, not Taste the Rainbow of Skittles! Nice try!) Dump in natural foods rich in antioxidants, and cut back how you can on unhealthy lifestyles that promote damage.

Here's the your pot o' gold o' health at the end of your rainbow!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Call on Kale

I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite leafy green: KALE!

("this is my faaaavorite!" -Denise Austin, when referring to about 50% of her exercises or stretches)

Look at that beautiful stuff :) Ahhh, like looking a the Garden of Eden (or Jurassic Park - whichever you prefer!) So dark, lush, and earthy looking!

Well, this is just one version of it - that's Dinosaur Kale.

There's also Curly Kale and Red Kale:

You can see the curled edges - these little nooks and crannies are great for holding pockets of flavor, if you use dressing, toss with some extra virgin olive oil, or other seasonings. You can tear the leaves off, toss with a little flavoring, then dehydrate (or bake at 350 for 15 minutes) to make kale chips! Of course, you may lose some of the nutrients with that high heat, but it's better than potato chips!

Kale is super rich in vitamins K, A, and C, (remember - that A and C combination is great for healthy skin!) It also has good manganese. Manganese is a component of many enzymes and antioxidants; it also helps with protein and carbohydrate metabolism.

Kale will deliver a wollop of cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Hoorah! It has glucosinolates and cystein sulfoxides that help activate detoxifying enzymes of the liver - which is your main fat-burning, cleansing organ.

In one way or another, make sure the kale is really well crushed - chew it well or add it to a green smoothie where the blender will really break down those cell walls and release the health benefits lurking in the cell! As the kale is chopped or chewed, sulforaphane forms, and then triggers the liver to produce even more detoxifying enzymes to help kill those cancer-causing chemicals! In animal studies, it essentially caused colon cancer cells to "commit suicide." Wow!

Let's give our liver all the help we can in clearing our bodies of years of built-up pollutants and toxins!

A word of caution - kale has a rather deep "green" taste, so start lightly. I like to add a leaf or two to a green smoothie, or a few leaves to salad. I hope to work up to being able to use the kale as my salad base, rather than the lighter Romaine!

So give Kale a try! Your body will thank you :)


Monday, January 11, 2010

Super Radish!

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and are ready to continue the fight for good health! Huzzah!

Today I have a lovely little salad for lunch. But I wanted to encourage you to rethink your idea of a salad. Typically, we think of salad as a bed of green, and the some toppings, and a dressing. And that's healthy, too! And, actually, the word "salad" comes from the Latin "salare" meaning "to salt" since salt was often used in the dressing. And a little natural salt is good - let's just not go overboard!

But I guess I tend to think of a salad as any dish of cold fruits and/or vegetables all mixed together.

So, today, my salad was a simple radish-cucumber salad. Radish has a somewhat spicy peppery flavor, so the cucumber is a wonderful cooling balance.

Dice a bundle of radishes, cube up some cuke, and season as desired! That's it!

I like to squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on it, maybe a little pepper or sea salt. If you have a favorite herb, I hear cilantro is a good mix with radish.

Yay radish! It's an awesome mucus dissolver, rich in many wonderful minerals. It's combination vitamin C, sulfur, and silica help with healthy skin tissue formation, which can help make the face glow! Go radish, go!

(photo courtesy of Jeff Bucchino,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Greenie Meanie

Alright, my friend. It's time... Embrace the Green! :) A power house drink to help boost your energy and begin cleansing your body inside and out!

Bear with me - as it can take some getting used to. Raw foodists love this type of drink. All the fresh nutrients in it can pack quite the energy punch! I like to drink some version of this most weekdays before work - since I have started it, I haven't needed coffee. The rich greens are full of energy-boosting vitamins, rich in antioxidants, very alkaline, and full of fiber to help with satiety!

Here's my basic recipe (all organics), but feel free to alter and let me know what types of spin you put on it!

-one apple, cored but not peeled
-one pear, cored not peeled-juice of half a lemon
-1/4th a head of Romain lettuce (or start with spinach, which usually tastes less “green”)
-1 Collard green leaf, or 2 Kale leaves
-water to desired consistency

Put everything in a blender, and give it a whirl! For your first time, you may will want to push some more fruits – pears, grapes, and bananas work well – but really whatever you. You may even prefer to start with just a fruit smoothie with a handful of spinach.

The "greenness" taste was almost overwhelming for me at first, but I've since gotten used to it. Oddly enough, some days I crave this sucker! Well, my body does - my tongue does not always agree! But I know that I feel better, lighter, and healthier when I have this for breakfast. Over time, as you get used to this little guy, you may start to cut back on the fruit, and push some of the darker greens.

Other additions I have made to this (once I realized I was sticking to the healthy, natural diet that I am now on) I went a bought some watercress, spirulina, hemp protein, and goji berries to add.

Having this for breakfast can fill your body with many needed nutrients, hopefully giving you a healthy kick to the day to kill those nasty cravings for useless, processed dead foods! And, then should you eat something less desirable later, well, at least you got this awesome start to the day!

Rock on, my friends, and give that Greenie Meanie a try! Oscar the grouch would be proud do slurp one of these (and maybe he wouldn't be so crabby then! Though I guess his grouchdom is endearing) ;-)

Here's to your Sunny Days, Sweeping the Clouds Away!

~Katie (and Oscar!)

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Happy Second-Week-of-the-New-Year!!!

Hopefully you've been sticking with your resolutions for the week. And, now that the weekend is rolling around, I thought a little kick of motivation may be good! (I know I'm going to be facing much junky foods later today for a belated Christmas/early birthday party...)

Today I wanted to post some quote that I find motivating, or just interesting! Some days, my motivation to stick to a natural, healthy diet wanes (I am probably the only person I know who watched Fast Food Nation and craved a McDonald's burger. Yeah, I have my horrible cravings, too!)

So here are some little sayings that I like to keep in mind for those times.

"The first wealth is health..." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels" -Anon?*

"Poor health is not caused by something you don'thave; it's caused by disturbing something that you already have. Health is not something you need to get, it's something you have already if you don't disturb it." -Dean Ornish

"Living a healthy lifestyle will only deprive you of poor health, lethargy, and fat."
-Jill Johnson

"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but instead will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease." -Thomas Edison

"No matter who you are, no matter what you do, you absolutely, positively do have the power to change." -Bill Phillips

But even if you "fall off the bandwagon," that's okay! You've put in a good week (hopefully) and can't get back up! Try not to let a mistake "give you permission" to crash the rest of the day, though. Take a few deep breaths to regain control, smile, and at least enjoy the food you eat - whatever it may be!

Have a wonderful health-motivated day!

*if you know where this quote originated, please let me know! :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Scale Doesn't Define You

I read an article today that just made me cringe. Apparently there's a dating website out there called, where, once you post your profile, you have 48 hours to get enough "beautiful" votes to be allowed to stay. And evidently, after the holiday splurges of several people, others complained, and those members were kicked out for having gained weight.

Good riddance, I say - who wants to hob-nob with such superficial frivolity?? Ugg!

Robert Hintze, founder of this site states, "Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which was founded."


Curious, I went to the website. Apparently, they think you must be dying to sign up, because your two option on the front page are to sign up, or "Too ugly to sign up? Click here to browse as a guest." Nice. I decided I didn't even want to browse.

While many of us enjoying working towards a healthier lifestyle, know that you are NOT defined by the scale numbers, the pants size, the intensity level on the elliptical machine, or any other quantity! Be bright and loving from the inside, and go find good friends and/or a good mate who looks at who you are, not how closely you resemble a photoshopped supermodel picture.

On that side note, DOVE put out a wonderful clip about the misconceptions of models. It's a short Youtube clip, and I highly recommend you check it out:
Dove's Evolution of Beauty

Love and Sunshine to you, beautiful! :)

You can read the article on CNN's website

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Understanding Cravings

*Warning! This is a long post! But I think it covers a variety of helpful topics that can help you break away from junk and start moving towards a healthier, more natural you! :)

There are many reasons we eat choices that we know to be less than healthy (c'mon - deep down somewhere, you KNOW that cookie isn't healthy! Growing up, my mom always liked to jokingly proclaim "if you break it in half - all the calories fall out!" Pretty clever, right?)

So we try restraining ourselves from “junk” food, we do “low fat”, we do “diet”, we starve, struggle, and diligently record every crumb and morsel that we put in our mouths. (Honestly – I found keeping a log to be quite helpful at times! I’d be too lazy to want to write something in my log, so TADA! I just wouldn’t eat it!) But seriously - who wants to count calories all day? Who has time to?! I probably could, but there are other things I would rather do. So, calorie count no more! Let's look at the cravings and a small glimpse into one of the many reason WHY we eat what we eat.

There's an interesting phenomenon called pica, seen where people eat non-food items because the body is desperately seeking some lacking nutrient. Most commonly, pregnant women crave ice induced by low iron in their blood - but I've worked with many pregnant women who also chomp on tissue paper, dive spoon first into tubs of corn starch, and even go scrounging around their own yards for dirt! Often getting a prenatal vitamin with iron helped lessen these unhealthy cravings.

Is it really so different for the rest of us? Most people don't get their needed nutrients. In a society of high-fat, high-salt, low-nutrition convenience foods, is it a wonder that we're lacking in magnesium, iron, vitamin D, and any other multitude of necessary nutrients? And in lacking nutrition, we crave anything to make that void feel better. In fact, Dr. Joel Fuhrman states “One key factor that determines whether you will be overweight is your failure to consume sufficient fiber and nutrients.”

We are an overfed, undernourished society.

And to make matters worse, the lack of crop rotation and over use of the soil in conventional farming depletes the soil of its health as we burn through it with mass-production; this will further reduce nutrient content of foods (oh dear, I may be opening a can o’ worms with that one…) There was a review of 41 studies that compared organic and conventionally grown produce. It stated that even for someone following the USDA recommendation of 5 servings of vegetables daily, if these foods were not organically grown, because of that nutrient-depleted growing conditions, the produce would be depleted and the person would not be getting their needed intake of vitamin C, while the organic counterparts would!

And today, 85% of farm soils are found to be depleted; and conventional spinach may contain less than 2% of the iron in used to have in 1948!

So how on earth are we supposed to get all the nutrients we need?! Mass fruits and veggies - preferably organic. "But Katie! I've already tried eating another serving of fruits and vegetables! I don't like them, and I still end up craving junk food!" Right? Here's the cool part - if you can commit to just a few days of a few nutrient power-house foods, like the woman who loses her craving for dirt when her nutritional needs are met, your cravings for processed foods and sugary empty calories can diminish! I'm not saying they'll be gone completely. You may have a life time of crave-inducing empty-calorie habits to purge, and the body is made to fight change and maintain homeostasis - even if the changes are for the good. But you can get a great kick-start! And then watch as those cravings continually lessen over time. It's not a quick-fix diet; it's a life-long lifestyle change. But it does get easier!

I went from daily dependence on coffee with a need for dessert nightly (and any other food I could get my hands on as soon as I got home), to coffee-free and satisfied with a 1 ounce square of organic dark chocolate on occasion. For the first time in three weeks, I had a diet coke last night. While this USED to be my favorite drink, I didn't even finish the thing because it just didn't taste right to me! It was sticky chemicalized fakeness. Bleh!

The way that worked for me? A green smoothie for breakfast, and a huge salad for lunch, some sort of “sensible” dinner that includes generous amounts of vegetables, a moderated intake of nuts and seeds, and as many fruits and vegetables as I wanted for snacking.

One thing to keep in mind: you end up craving what you eat, especially when you’re eating fats or sweets – as shown in a study published in Appetite in 2008. So, with a lifetime of processed, fatty, sugary foods under your belt, you will probably experience those cravings. But on the other hand, a vast quantity of fresh produce begets cravings for more fresh produce! One of my friends was encouraging some of her clients to do a very high intake of fruits and vegetables: 9+ per day. To understand what it would take, she decided to “put her food where her mouth is” and also bump up her intake. The result? She would crave an orange for dessert! Now, I'm not saying I never crave my old foods (fast food, cakes, nachos, etc) but the sensation definitely has decreased over time, to the point I find them manageable most of the time!

Sound too intense? Just try to incorporate 2 fruits a day. Not juice, you sneaky person, you! ;-) Whole fruit – in all it’s fiber, phytochemical, and cancer-fighting antioxidant glory! And then begin working on having one salad a day… and work from there. Any little steps are better than none.
Honestly, I find the all-at-once approach worked best for me. I can will-power my way through a few days of intense healthy food, and by then, my craving for other foods was diminished enough that it’s been easy to keep packing in the vegetables – and, shockingly, no, I’m NOT tired of salad! I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t tried it. But you start getting creative with dressings, new vegetables to try, and just feeling more energetic – it’s enough to keep me going.

Another bonus of all the fruits and vegetables – with fewer calories, they still have a lot of volume (turn down those plums, Johnny, the neighbors all complaining again! Hyuck, hyuck… Sorry.)

One of the ways your mind tells you that you’re full is when your stomach stretches! So, a large volume of foods - not a large caloric intake - will cause that ballooning, and your mind will register “oh, we’re full! That’s it! Turn off the hunger cues!” in about 20 minutes (so take your time eating!)

Ok, so, that’s a bit of an overload of information. Where to start?

Step one: go to the store, and buy some fruits and vegetables you know you like to snack on.

Step two: While there, also plan to make a Veggie Weapon salad for the week, so get a few good “salad items” that you like, such as carrot, radish, cucumber, avocado, tomato… Then grab head or two of a leafy green of your choice (Romaine lettuce is good, or Bibb lettuce. Skip Iceberg. As my sister so eloquently puts it – “it’s crunchy water.” Yup, good water content, but little else.) Later, I'll post about green smoothies (and not-so-green-but-still-helpful ones, as well!)

Step three: get it all home, wash it, snack on whatever fancies you, and put the rest away until you're ready for it!

The produce section is your friend. Get to know it! The rest of the store, with a few exceptions, is a waste of space. It’s jam packed with highly processed, low nutrient, crave-inducing marketing ploys. Perhaps I’ll blog later about the psychology of markets – the amount of money that goes into researching HOW to make consumers buy more of what they don’t really need is astounding! But for today, I think I’ve covered enough, and then some!

So get out to the store, and happy shopping!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Acidic Joints

This post is dedicated to my younger sister :) She has been struggling with joint pain in her fingers for several years, and she is finally starting to explore the diet-health connection. (She likes to joke that she does not have blood running through her veins, but cola.)

The doctor recommended to my mom that she push alkaline foods for Carolyn, as an acidic body can exacerbate joint inflammation and pain. There are a lot of health problems that are beginning to be linked to an overly-acidic diet, and sadly, the standard American diet is very acid producing! However backwards as it may sound, an acidic body is NOT caused by eating acidic foods, like lemons and pineapple. Oddly enough, fruits are very alkaline-forming in the body as your body digests it. On the contrary, an acidic body is the result of a high meat, high refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, sugars, pop, etc), high dairy diet! I know it can sound somewhat confusing, but a food's acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. There is a difference between a food being acidic, and being acid-forming.

So, whether you're trying to battle arthritis, bone weakening, or fatigue (all of which may be linked to an overly acidic body!) we could all use a little more alkaline foods.

And what are the best alkaline foods? Yep, you guessed it – fresh fruits and veggies!

Some of the most alkaline-forming vegetables include asparagus, spinach (raw), broccoli, parsley, celery, zucchini, beets, carrots, and tomatoes. Some of the fruits include all citrus, watermelon, cherries, papaya, grapes, kiwi, pears, blueberries, and peaches. (This list could go on.... I can post a more extensive version if you prefer.)

Start your morning off with a glass of water and squeeze in some lemon - cool, or warmed is fine, but don't have boiling water! :) Remember, too much heat will begin to degrade the nutrition of your lemon! Start small, if you like. I now enjoy a half of a lemon squeezed into about 8-12 ounces, but even just a small wedge can provide benefits. It's a wonderful enzyme-full, vitamin C-rich way to kick off the day! (ESPECIALLY with this cold weather! Keep that immune system rolling!)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Smoothie

So I altered my tropical smoothie a bit, and thought I'd share a few photos of it!

While I normally add water to it to help with consistency, I had some left over coconut milk that just begged me to add it to the cool, tropical goodness that was in the blender! Coconut milk has been a hot topic in the nutrition world for a while. Once condemned for its high saturated fat content, there are now studies coming out showing there are different TYPES of saturated fats, and coconut's may not be as bad as once thought. Lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid in coconut, just may be a type of that the body is not going to absorb really quickly, and would rather burn quickly as fuel!
Coconut is also very hydrating for the body (yay for softer, healthier skin!)

I also added in some soaked goji berries - an antioxidant-packed berry with a rich history in Asia as a medicinal food. It is also being studied for its anti-aging effect! Add, maybe of less importance, I find it adds a nice sunset hue to my drink :)

I enjoyed pulling out some party favors and indulging in a hula-style drink, but if you don't have the silly little monkey, you can always garnish with a lime wedge.

I hope you have fun experimenting with your own recipes! You usually can't go wrong with fruit smoothies.
Enjoy, and drink up!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Warming Up From the Inside

It is COLD out! I am getting ready to go shopping, but my car is coated in ice. So I got in, turned it on, and am letting it thaw a bit before I go out to finish scraping it off.

But it made me wonder about what kind of good, raw drink I can have that's warm, or warming.

I often enjoy slightly warmed "hot chocolate" (made with raw, unprocessed, antioxidant-rich cacao -- not sugary, acid-forming cocoa, though!) but I still want my fruit! So, I am going to live the tropical dream today :) A mix of tropical fruits with the addition of some spices that stimulate circulation!

For my Warming Tropical Dream smoothie:
1 papaya

1/2 avocado
1 banana
1/2 mango
water to help blend; make desired consistency
squeeze of lime
sprinkle with warming spices: ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg - maybe a daring dash of cayenne??
sweeten with agave or honey
garnish with a few raw macadamia nuts

toss a cute little umbrella in it, and dream of beaches! (Maybe I'll turn on some good Hawaiian music, too!)

This is a wonderfully healthy smoothie! Papaya is rich in vitamins A and C (which help with skin collagen - keeping it smooth, firm, and healthy!) as well as papain, a enzyme that can help with your digestion. Avocado, rich in vitamin K and fiber, is also a source of health promoting monounsaturated fats, specifically oleic acid. Lime, like lemons, will be loaded with vitamin C and enzymes. Agave and cinnamon are great for blood sugar regulation - agave nectar is a low glycemic food, so it won't spike you're sugar and drop you! Cinnamon will also help slow the rate that the fruit sugars are absorbed, again helping give a smooth, steady sugar ride to your blood stream :)
But before I can indulge in that... it's off to the grocery store!

Have a wonderful, warm spirited day!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ode to Organics

There has been a lot of debate about organically grown foods. What does it mean, does it matter? Well I wanted to tackle that! While I could probably come up with an entire essay on it, I'll try to hit some key points here, and maybe dive deeper another time.

So now that you're hopefully pushing your fruit and vegetable intake (c'mon, you know you should!), you may be interested in this!

To begin with: Organic vs. Conventional = HUGE business and money battles! Sadly, the more research I do digging in to nutritional politics, the more I find that money is a driving force behind it, not necessarily health.

The definition for Organics gets pretty specific when it comes to processed foods, and I can touch on that in the future. But for now, let's just look at produce. Fruit and vegetables basically are either organically grown, or they are conventionally grown.

So let's look at those two questions: what does it mean, and does it matter? Well, if you look at what it means, I would say that it will give you your answer for the latter query!

There are some key points laid out in the Organic Standard rules that growers must meet in order to be "certified organic”:

*No synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers
*No genetically modified (GM) seeds
*No fertilizer derived from sewer sludge (yeah, think what that means if you're NOT getting organically grown foods! Eep!)
*No irradiated seeds or foods
*They must document all of this to prove to the USDA inspectors that they are following the rules

So, um, yeah, I'd go with it's important! I'd rather not have GMO or sewer sludge in my food, thank ya veddy much!

If you shop at local farmers markets, small farms may not have it advertised that they use organic methods, as it costs money to have USDA inspectors come out and certify your place. So just ask them.

If you shop at a grocery store, foods will be labeled.

Opponents of organic labeling continue to put pressure on the government. Registered Dietitian Marion Nestle writes in her book What to Eat:

“Opponents of organics - and there are many, work hard to make you doubt the reliability of organic certification, to weaken the Organic Standards (so you really will have something to doubt), and to make you wonder whether organics are any better than conventionally grown foods."
She goes on to say:
"But as for attempts to weaken the rules, think 'relentless.' Political appointees at the USDA are always looking for loopholes that might favor conventional growers. Just before issuing the Organic Standards, for example, the USDA said it would be fine for farmers to use genetically modified seeds, irradiation, and sewage sludge, and still call their crops organic. After a barrage of 275,000 outraged letters, the agency backed off this peculiar idea.”

Fortunately, for now, the term “organic” is still meaningful thanks to those Organic Standard rules!

I consider it an investment in my future health to pay the extra for organics whenever possible. But, if money is tight, I would say at least treat yourself to the organically grown versions of the “dirty dozen,” the top 12 pesticide-rich produce items; and worry less about those that have become known as the “Clean 15”

The Worst Culprits:
1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Grapes (imported)
11. Carrots
12. Pears

The Safer Options:
1. Onion
2. Avocado
3. Sweet Corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mango
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet Peas
8. Kiwifruit
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Papaya
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomato
15. Sweet Potato
(for the full listing, you can click

So give yourself the best! You're worth your health!