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Friday, March 16, 2012

Healthy Eating 101


Eating Healthy

If you are wanting to get your body, and your life, on the healthy track,  or you have decided to become vegan but are not sure how to go about it, this blog  post is for you! Discover whole, natural, REAL food. Become inspired by the true seasonal finds at the farmers market! When you discover (or rediscover) what real, fresh whole food is like, you may wonder what took you so long!  I will discuss ways of eating to get your best health and vitality. Here, you will discover healthy, whole food that God has given us, some creative ways for preparing whole food, and hopefully be inspired to eat less processed ‘food-like things’ (with ingredients you can’t even pronounce)  and improve your health, increase vitality, and enjoy longevity. I will identify physically addictive foods, essential cooking methods for healthy eating, nutrient dense foods, and detrimental foods to avoid.

Let’s Get Healthy! READY, SET, GO!

“Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates, father of modern medicine

GET READY ...

Knowledge is power
The top three killers in America are cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. All are directly linked to diet, and all can be prevented and reversed by diet. The planet’s healthiest foods come in their own, biodegradable package! The vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help your body stay healthy are called micro-nutrients. Micro-nutrients are found mostly in plants. For example, an apple has over 10,000 micro-nutrients! Fruits and vegetables come in a rainbow of colors, each containing different types of micro-nutrients. Eat a rainbow everyday to make sure you get them all! Children should eat 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Adults should eat 9-13 servings! A serving is ½ cup chopped veggies or fruit, 1 cup leafy green vegetable, or 1 medium piece of fruit.
  • Eat more vegetables! Add more vegetables, especially green ones, to your plate. If you are ordering Fettuccine Alfredo at a restaurant, add a side of broccoli. Add more veggies to every meal, and shrink the serving of meat over time, Americans get way too much protein in the standard diet anyway! Eventually your taste buds will start craving more vegetables, and eating them will be even more satisfying and delicious! Regardless of what our government recently declared, pizza IS NOT a vegetable! Look at each meal as an opportunity to put something fresh and colorful in your body!

  • Eat REAL food. Real food comes from our Father in heaven: fruit, leafy greens, whole grains, colorful veggies, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts. The more ingredients you see on a package the farther that “food” is from being real food. You don’t want to fuel your body with a bunch of laboratory chemicals you can’t even pronounce! You want to feed your cells what they need: REAL FOOD!

  • Try going meatless on Mondays. Meatless Mondays is a national movement to cut out the meat one day a week. Their website offers tons of support and recipes: www.meatlessmonday.com

  • Pick one or two meals each day to cut out the meat. If you have meat with your breakfast, have a lentil soup for lunch and a big salad with baked potato for dinner. If you are going out for a special steak dinner, skip the meat at breakfast and lunch. You will be amazed at all the things there are to eat if you are no longer focusing on the meat!

  • Think of meat like a side dish, and the vegetables and grains are the main attraction of your meal. We only need 3 ounces of meat, a serving the size of a deck of cards, to get an entire day’s worth of protein; but it is worth mentioning that there is protein in all plants and grains as well!

  • Visit a farm or animal sanctuary. Remembering where our food comes from helps us be more empathetic towards animals and more excited about vegetable options.

  • Avoid the white stuff.  Sugar, as well as white flour and simple carbohydrates, are turned into glucose in the body immediately. Glucose makes it harder to absorb vitamins and minerals, suppresses immune function, promotes silent inflammation within the body, and as you know, also leads very often to Type II Diabetes. Glucose also feeds cancer, and helps it grow faster. Did you know that doctors actually inject radioactive glucose into the body during a PET scan to look for cancer? They do this because cancer loves sugar, it is their favorite food, and the cancer cells ‘gather’ the glucose greedily from the bloodstream, making it possible to see where the cancer has spread. Start replacing pasta, breads, muffins, crackers, flour tortillas, etc with whole grain or sprouted grain products. There are many natural sweeteners you can use too instead of sugar (avoid chemical sweeteners such as aspartame, splenda, etc): maple syrup, Stevia, agave nectar, raw honey (not the processed honey colored syrup in the store that is mostly corn syrup), and evaporated cane juice that is unbleached and processed very little. The more sweetener you take in, the more your body will crave it. You can switch to natural sweeteners, and over time reduce your cravings and ‘need’ for sweetener to the point that fruit will be your dessert.
On the subject of sugars: avoid high fructose corn syrup at all costs! It is a highly processed toxin linked to obesity, heart disease and many forms of cancer. Once ingested, it travels straight to the liver, which turns the sugary liquid into fat, and unlike other carbohydrates HFCS does not cause the pancreas to produce insulin; which acts as a hunger quenching signal to the brain. So we get stuck in a vicious cycle, eating food that gets immediately stored as fat and never feeling full. Read the labels, if High Fructose Corn Syrup, fructose, corn syrup, or modified corn starch appears within the first five ingredients place it back on the shelf and move on.

Essential Cooking Methods for Healthy Eating 
You don't have to be a professional chef to master these cooking methods. Learn each one, and you'll soon have the skills you need to prepare healthier meals without the use of added oils.
  • Blanching: Submerge vegetables (or fruit) in boiling water for just a moment, then remove and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking while retaining crispness and great color. Learn this and bid farewell to mushy broccoli.
  • Ice Bath:  A large bowl half-filled with ice and water is used to stop the cooking process. Simply lower cooked produce into the bowl, and let sit for a minute or so, then strain. An ice bath following steaming or blanching yields beautifully crisp and colorful vegetables.
  • Marinating: Imparts flavors while softening the texture of meat, veggies and fruit. Learn to marinate by using fresh citrus juice, vinegars, beer or wine and stirring in spices and herbs. With these ingredients, you can achieve the same delicious results as a traditional marinade — without the use of added oils. Marinate for about an hour in the fridge.
  • Grilling: Whether you use a countertop electric grill, classic charcoal or a gas grill — grilling is an easy way to cook for healthy eating. Add moisture and flavor to your favorites by marinating them first. In addition, many tasty marinade recipes can be made without using added oils.
  • Slow Cooking: It doesn't get easier than this. This is one of the best cooking methods for beans and stews. You simply cook on the stovetop or in a slow cooker at very low temperatures (175°F–200°F) for long periods of time. Investing in a slow cooker will make your weekly meals a breeze.
  • Steaming: This is the most common cooking technique in many cultures for healthy eating. To retain optimum freshness, texture and nutritional content, steam veggies as lightly as possible. Use the leftover water (contains valuable nutrients from the steamed veggies) in your garden or in soups.
  • Toasting: It's not just for toasters anymore! This is a common cooking method of applying dry heat to foods like nuts, seeds and whole spices. When toasted, they release their natural oils, and their flavors are enhanced. Toast in a dry skillet on the stovetop, or use a rimmed baking sheet in the oven, and stir frequently, keeping an eye on what you're toasting to ensure it doesn't burn.

GET SET .....

Are you ready to make a few simple changes for lifelong health? Whether you're just getting started on a healthy eating path or have been on the road to wellness for years, here are four pillars of healthy eating that can help guide your journey.
1. Eat whole, unprocessed foods
Food in its purest state, the way God made it, unadulterated by artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives, is the best tasting and most nutritious food available. Choosing whole foods is a simple way to ensure that what you eat is micro-nutrient dense and free of unnecessary additives. A "whole food" is any food in its most essential, pure, delicious and basic form: an asparagus spear, a lemon, or a scoop of quinoa. Whole foods are the best ingredients for creating tasty and healthy meals, and, diets loaded with whole and unrefined foods may help keep you healthy.
  • Choose whole, fresh, natural, organic, local, seasonal, unrefined and unprocessed foods.
  • Eliminate artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats from your diet.
2. Plant-strong
No matter what type of diet you follow — including those that incorporate dairy, meat and/or seafood — begin to reconfigure your plate so that the majority of your meal is made from an abundance of plant-based foods. When you eat more plants — like raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains — you're helping your body get the key micro nutrients it needs to function at its best.
  • Emphasize plant-based foods, no matter what type of diet you generally follow.
  • Eat a colorful variety of plants to ensure you're getting the best nutrients for your body, which leads to feeling satisfied.
3. Healthy Fats
Work to minimize (or eliminate) unhealthy fats from your diet that come from animals and highly processed oils. Get your healthy fats by eating whole plant-based foods like nuts, seeds and avocados. Then, work to eliminate the amounts of extracted oils and processed fats you cook with on a daily basis.
  • Choose whole foods (nuts, seeds, avocados) when looking for a micro-nutrient dense source of healthy fats.
  • Minimize or eliminate extracted oils and processed fats like cooking oil, mayo, and margarine.
4. Nutrient Dense
·         Build your meals around recipes that emphasize plant-based foods.
·         Choose foods rich in micro nutrients when compared to total caloric content. Look for the ANDI scoring system in our stores to help guide you.
·         Top Ten ANDI Scores
ANDI stands for "Aggregate Nutrient Density Index." An ANDI score shows the nutrient density of a food on a scale from 1 to 1000 based on nutrient content. ANDI scores are calculated by evaluating an extensive range of micro-nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidant capacities.

·         GREEN VEGETABLES
1.   Mustard/Turnip/Collard Greens                 score: 1000
2.   Kale                                                     score: 1000
3.   Watercress                                            score: 1000
4.   Bok Choy/Baby Bok Choy                         score: 824
5.   Spinach                                                 score: 739
6.   Broccoli                                                 score: 715
7.   Chinese/Napa Cabbage                            score: 704
8.   Brussels Sprouts                                     score: 672
9.   Swiss Chard                                           score: 670
10. Arugula                                                score: 559




·         NONGREEN VEGETABLES
1.   Radish                                                   score: 554  
2.   Bean Sprouts                                          score: 444
3.   Red pepper                                            score: 366
4.   Radicchio                                               score: 359
5.   Turnip                                                   score: 337
6.   Carrot                                                   score: 336
7.   Cauliflower                                            score: 295 
8.    Artichoke                                              score: 244
9.   Tomato                                                 score: 190
10. Butternut Squash                                  score: 156

·        FRUIT - all of the following have an ANDI  score of 1000  
1.   Strawberries                                              
2.   Blackberries                                               
3.   Plum                                                     
4.   Raspberries                                            
5.   Blueberries                                                      
6.   Papaya                                                          
7.   Orange                                                  
8.   Cantaloupe                                                 
9.   Kiwi                                                      
10. Watermelon                                         


·        BEANS

1.   Lentils                             
2.   Red Kidney Beans                         score: 1000
3.   Great Northern Beans                    score: 1000
4.   Adzuki Beans                                score: 1000      
5.   Black Beans                                 score: 1000    
6.   Black-eyed Peas                          score: 1000               
7.   Pinto Beans                                 score: 1000             
8.   Edamame                                     score: 1000          
9.   Split Pea                                      score: 1000         
10. Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans)         score: 1000            

 "The food you eat can be either the safest & most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison." - Ann Wigmore

GO!!

Health Starts at the Grocery Store!
Go shopping and stock up on all of the foods that will keep you plant-strong, whether you are going to try Meatless Mondays or vegetarian/vegan. Always keep lots of fruits and vegetables on hand for snacking and recipes, but in addition, keep your kitchen loaded with non-perishable ingredients to keep you prepared. Getting healthy begins with what you put into your body, and having a good reason for what you do eat. Yes, that means change, a word that scares us, but in this case, it only can lead to better health, less prescriptions, and a longer life. Now isn’t that worth it?
§  A basic pantry list would look something like this:
§  Frozen Vegetables- your favorites!
§  Frozen Fruits
§  Canned Beans- No Salt!
§  Canned Tomatoes- No Salt!
§  Whole Grains such as quinoa, barley, oats, buckwheat, etc. (unless you need to go gluten free, then omit barley, rye, oats, and any oatmeal not certified gluten free)
§  Brown Rice
§  Whole Wheat Pasta or Brown Rice Pasta
§  Dried Fruit- No sugar or oil added!
§  Nuts- No salt!
§  No salt added Spice Mixes- All of your favorites
§  Low sodium vegetable broth
§  Alternative milk- Unsweetened Almond, Soy, Rice, or Hemp
§  Bragg Liquid Aminos, or Coconut Aminos: savory, salty way to get complete amino acids for building protein, and great substitute for soy sauce.
§  Condiments without high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils, &  as few ingredients as possible!
§  No bottled dressing! Replace your salad dressings with fresh lemon juice, Bragg’s, or avocado whipped with soy milk, lemon, and spices to the desired consistency.

These items also happen to be some of the least expensive foods in the store so not only will you stay on a healthy track, but you will save a ton of money. If you want to take the savings to another level, buy dried beans from the bulk section instead of canned; and grow your own organic food. Find 5- 7 great versatile recipes that are quick, delicious, and satisfying and repeat them weekly. The key to long term success living a whole foods, plant based lifestyle is to make it work day to day. By staying prepared, keeping meal preparation simple, and developing a healthy routine, living a healthy lifestyle is a breeze. Be well and stay plant-healthy!
Add flavor, naturally
Cooking with health in mind doesn't mean sacrificing flavor. When you switch to a diet that minimizes added sodium, refined fats and processed sweeteners, you open yourself up to a whole new approach to cooking. Cooking with health in mind uses alternative ingredients and cooking methods that take advantage of flavorful seasonings that don't add undue calories or sodium.
Here are some great ways to naturally enhance the flavors of nutrient-dense foods:
Savory:
Stocks and broths
Fresh or Dried Herbs
Wines
Bragg Liquid Aminos
Vinegars
Ginger, Garlic and Onions
Spicy:
Dried and Fresh Chili Peppers
Mustard
Curry
Spices like Cumin, Cardamom, and Coriander
Peppercorns
Horseradish and Wasabi
Sweet:
 Fresh and Dried Fruits
Fruit Juice
Coconut water
100% fruit pastes, single strength concentrates and purees (like applesauce)


 People just get sicker, and bigger because they don’t make the health connection to food.”– Wendell Berry


A word about Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO’s. The subject could take a whole other class, but a class on Healthy Eating is not complete without mention of it. Please do some research on it. For now, I will say that it is best to eat food the way our Lord made it, not un-naturally altered in some laboratory, especially for the explicit purpose of spraying it full of chemical poisons. 95% of this country’s soy and corn are GMO, and currently there is no labeling required of these “Frankenseeds”. The only way to avoid GMO corn or soy is to look for ORGANIC soy or corn, which can be found at HEB, Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc. and NEVER buy any product containing soy or corn otherwise. Suggest to google Monsanto GMO seeds, and watch “Food, In.” (documentary).
Organic vs. non-organic
If you aren't able to grow your own fruits and vegetables, then you are at the mercy, well, almost, of an industry that doesn’t care about your health. The USDA has standards for what can bear the USDA Organic logo. Foods that are labeled organic are produced by organic farmers who avoid using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. I always purchase "dirty dozen" organic I can compromise on other produce, then, to save money, and thoroughly wash with homemade Produce Wash (recipe below) to remove chemical residue. One reason to buy organic is to make sure the produce or product is NON-GMO. Under USDA guidelines, no GMO's can be labeled organic. The other reason is obvious: avoid ingesting chemical pesticide and fertilizer.
The Dirty Dozen
The Environmental Working Group conducts over 51,000 tests on produce and publishes the worst polluted fruits and vegetables every year. ALWAYS buy these items organic. Read more here: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/.
Although the “dirty dozen” have the most pesticide residue even after you wash it, you shouldn’t avoid eating the fruits and vegetables on that list. Just buy the organic version. It’s more expensive, but any crop that is certified organic (and labeled organic) has not been sprayed with pesticides. For a crop to be organic, farmers are not allowed to use bio-engineered genes (GMOs), synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers.
According to the EWG, the following fruits and vegetables are the “Dirty Dozen.” This means, even after washing the produce, they are the most contaminated with pesticides and chemicals. Here is the “Dirty Dozen” of 2011, starting with the worst offender:

Dirty Dozen of 2012
1. Apples (also affects apple juice, jelly, & applesauce!)
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Imported Nectarines
7. Imported Grapes
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Potatoes
(all root vegetables should be organic to be safe, they absorb more elements from the soil)
10. Domestic Blueberries (all berries really)
11. Lettuce
12. Kale and Collard Greens


The Clean 15
Fruits and Vegetables that are Lowest in Pesticides. The following fruits and vegetables have the lowest amounts of pesticide residues, so they’re the safest to eat without going organic. I have noticed a few variations on this list over the years, sometimes broccoli, papaya, and tomatoes appear in the "clean 15" Here are the EWG list for 2011:

Clean 15 of 2011
1. Onions
2. Sweet Corn
(but it is most likely GMO!)
3. Pineapples
4. Avocado
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet Peas
7. Mangoes
8. Eggplant
9. Domestic Cantaloupe
10. Kiwi
11. Cabbage
12. Watermelon
13. Sweet Potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms


Pesticides: Why They’re Bad for You
According to the EWG’s website, everyone should be concerned about pesticides. They’re designed to kill living organisms, by their nature. Their sole purpose is to kill “pests,” such as plants, insects and fungi.

Different pesticides have been linked to causing health problems, including cancer, disrupting hormone function, brain and nervous system toxicity, and irritation of your skin, eye, and lungs.

The effects of pesticide toxicity on children are particularly troublesome. Long-term studies have tracked the effects of organophosphates pesticides and their long-term effect on children. Research has shown that organophosphate pesticides damage the function of your nervous system by blocking an enzyme that stops nerve cells from firing. As a result, your nerve cells will fire without stopping, which can lead to long-term nerve damage. This also has negative effects on children’s brain development, so pregnant women especially should be careful to eat organic as much as possible.
Produce Wash
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon baking soda
½ lemon, juiced
Directions:
1.   Mix all ingredients together in a DEEP pitcher; it is going to foam up quite a bit. Stir it down and pour into a spray bottle.
2.   Spritz on fruits and or vegetables and allow to sit for 5 or 10 minutes before rinsing.

 “There is no connection between food and health to the average person, or his doctor. People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated, not healed by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.


MORE TIPS ON HOW TO GO VEGAN (also GF) HERE and HERE:



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