Monthly Archives: July 2012

Close Encounters for the Second Time

You know how I love my trips to Whole Foods, and last night’s little jaunt ended up being another fun health coach moment.

Remember the last one?

This time it was all about nutritional yeast!

Okay, some of you are probably thinking, “What the what?” We’re getting to that.

So a couple of guys found me grabbing at the kale krunchies and had to ask what they were all about.

“They must be good the way you’re stocking up,” one of them said. Then he read the ingredient list of Quite Cheezy and asked, “Now what about nutritional yeast? Is that good for you? What about yeast problems?”

“Nutritional yeast is the best part!” I screamed. Okay, maybe I didn’t scream, but I was VERY animated.

Here’s what I told him:
Nutritional yeast does not cause Candida (yeast overgrowth) because it is not an active yeast, so no concerns there. What contributes to yeast overgrowth is sugar.

Nutritional yeast is super healthy because it’s loaded with B vitamins, and B12 is the one vitamin that vegetarians and vegans can’t get from any food because it comes from animal products.

Nutritional yeast is also a great source of protein and folic acid. Each tablespoon has only 20 calories plus 1g of fiber and 2g of protein, so it’s a low-cal add-on that packs a hefty nutritional punch.

Now, for why it’s the best part…

It makes food cheesy! I’m not kidding. It doesn’t have any salt, dairy, sugar, gluten, egg, animal derivatives, wheat, corn, starch, soy or any artificial flavorings, colors, or preservatives. And it’s non-gmo. But somehow, miraculously, it tastes like parmesan cheese. I’m not sure why or how but it does and it sure jazzes up many a meal for me. I put it on popcorn, eggs, veggies, and Lydia’s kale krunchies.

So, since I got that question out in the world last night, and since up until a few days ago, two very health-conscious friends of mine who eat very little meat had never heard of it, I figured I’d bring all the rest of you up to speed, as well.

The two main brands are Bragg and Red Star and you can find them at Whole Foods, health stores, or online.

I’m no vegan but I don’t eat a ton of animal products. I’m all for a plant-based diet, but it needs to be done the right way, and getting all your vitamins, especially that B12 is very important. So there you have it.

I can’t wait for my next Whole Foods encounter!

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Filed under GMO-free, Health, Products, Snacks, Vegan

Be Wary of Dairy

Ah, dairy. This subject is hairy.

And you’ll probably want to be a bit chary.

Okay, no more rhyming. But it was fun. 😉

So basically, there’s been a lot of debate over whether or not we need dairy. It’s a great question. Here’s what the argument for it looks like:

1. “I love cheese!”

2. “I love ice cream!”

3. “I can tolerate it just fine.”

Okay, fair enough. Not terribly scientific, but I agree on points 1, 2, and 3!

Now let’s take a look at what the argument AGAINST dairy looks like:

1. A whole lot of people can’t tolerate it just fine

Whole populations around the world and quite a large number of people in this country are lactose intolerant. What does it say that so many of us are unable to eat dairy? Maybe it means we don’t need it.

2. Milk is a baby’s food

We don’t even drink our own milk past childhood. Milk contains carbohydrates, fat, and protein all in one so that babies get the three essential macronutrients from their one food source. Milk makes babies grow. But we’re all grown up. So again, maybe we don’t need it.

3. We are the only species that drinks the milk of another animal

A lot of anti-dairy people say, “We don’t drink our own milk, so why are we drinking the milk that’s meant for baby cows?”

Kinda makes you stop and think, right?

3. Milk isn’t a calcium solution

Wait, what?! Yeah. We have a higher consumption of dairy in this country than in most countries around the world. And we also have the highest rate of osteoporosis. That doesn’t add up. Isn’t dairy supposed to protect us from osteoporosis because it gives us calcium to build strong and healthy bones? Seems people in other countries where dairy consumption is very low, are not only finding enough calcium from other sources, they’re not experiencing bone loss the way we are.

I believe the way we’re eating in this country is stripping our bones of calcium…among other things…but we’re not going into that right now. The main point here is that dairy isn’t making up for it. Yet again, I say, “Do we really need it?”

Some great non-dairy sources of calcium?
Broccoli, kale, bok choy, collard greens, rhubarb, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut milk, blackstrap mollasses, tahini, pistachios, almonds/almond butter, and sardines. I’m sure you can find at least ONE thing on that list that sounds good (what? not the last one?!). 🙂

4. Milk consumption can contribute to disease

This is where dairy gets really scary (sorry! that’s the last rhyme!). Milk contains a lot of hormones that aren’t so good for us. You’ve heard of rBST or rBGH, right? It’s the genetically engineered growth hormone (made by Monsanto – need I say more?) they give to cows to stimulate milk production. This is in conventional dairy and has been linked to various types of cancer.

But even organic rBST-free/ rBGH-free dairy has hormones because cows are milked all the time, which means they are milked when pregnant, and some hormones are sky-high during pregnancy. Then all of the milk from all of the cows is pooled together and we consume a whole mix of crazy stuff…stuff coming from a lot of hormonal females…think about it…

All of these hormones look to be contributing to certain types cancer. Prostate cancer is related to higher consumption of dairy products, as is ovarian cancer, although the link is less clear than with prostate. Endometrial cancer is a hormone-related cancer, so there’s concern for dairy hormones there, too.

5. Low-fat and fat-free dairy is linked to acne

Who wants bad skin? ‘Nuff said.

So do I need to take supplements?

Actually, high calcium supplementation has been shown to be related to a higher risk of heart attacks and kidney stones, as well as a higher risk of hip fractures. Basically, the calcium from supplements is different from calcium you consume in foods – it’s a big hit of the mineral at once, instead of a gradual dose throughout the day with various meals and snacks. Calcium also needs to be taken in tandem with magnesium and vitamin D, so just taking a calcium supplement without these will not facilitate absorption. And calcium that doesn’t get absorbed floats around and ends up where it shouldn’t be, causing heart disease, among other health problems. Not good.

My recommendation is to really try to get most of your calcium from your food and proceed with caution with supplements. Take small amounts at a time, if you need to, and always take it with magnesium and vitamin D.

I’ve found the evidence against dairy pretty compelling. But of course, the Dairy Industry makes sure our government recommends it as an essential part of a healthy diet. Food remains the best way to get calcium, but it doesn’t have to be dairy. If you want to eliminate it completely, or almost completely, that’s great. If not, limit your intake to 1-2 servings per day. Moderation is the key here.

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Filed under Dairy, Diet, Health, Organic

Food Finds, Part 2

We’re back with Part 2 of my new food finds! In case you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

And without further ado…

KOMBUCHA
You know I love water, but now I’m also loving Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha, specifically the Multi-Green flavor.

Kombucha is so healthy for you – the cultures in this effervescent drink work as a probiotic, helping your digestive system do what it needs to do. It works the way yogurt does, adding healthy bacteria to your gut, but without dairy.

Multi-Green is surprisingly sweet (sounds like it would be vegetabley, right? yeah, not so much.) with only 4 grams of sugar in the entire bottle, but with spirulina, blue green algae, and chlorella, which are three superfoods that are amazing for you. I sip it throughout the day (keeping it in the fridge, of course) so that I get a little hit of sweetness and healthy bacteria after I eat.

If you’re not digging the greens, that’s okay – Citrus and Original flavors are great, too. But Multi-Green is packing some serious nutritional punch.

POPCORN

My pick for popcorn these days is the Whole Foods 365 brand of organic, reduced fat, low-sodium popcorn. They use gmo-free corn, which is really important. And this popcorn passed the husband test, which means it tastes good and isn’t cardboardy.

BREAD

And for those of you in Southern California, I want to share with you my new favorite bread and bagel option. Silver Hills Bakery makes some awesome stuff – super healthy and oh so tasty. I’m officially head over heels for the Squirrelly bread and bagels because it tastes delicious and has the cutest name. Plus, the husband likes them.

Pick up these products at Whole Foods, Jimbo’s, Sprouts, Erewhon, or your local health food store.

Now go forth and find a fun, new healthy food this weekend!

Question of the Day:
Anyone ever have anything crazy happen on Friday the 13th?

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Filed under GMO-free, Health, Organic, Product Review, Products, Raw, Snacks, Superfoods, Water

Food Finds, Part 1

I’m pleased to report that I’ve been trying some new foods out these days…doing a little test run of products…and finding some gems!

I’m pretty picky when I read those ingredient lists. So, my basic requirements are as follows:

  • must have some protein
  • must be gmo-free
  • must be low in sugar and sodium
  • no agave
  • no soy
  • organic
  • still tasty!

So, here’s Part 1 of what I’ve found…

RAW KALE CHIPS
Alive & Radiant Kale Krunch makes kale chips so much more than I ever thought they could be.

I am seriously addicted to their Quite Cheezy flavor. The Chipotle flavor is also delicious if you like a little spice to your food.

These are great to take on the go – easy, healthy, and completely guilt-free. With only a few fantastic ingredients, they clock in at 100 calories, 4g of protein per serving, and 7g of fat (1.5g saturated). Sodium is higher than I’d like at 260mg, but kind of worth it. 😉

I’m also loving Lydia’s Organics Kale Krunchies. I get the Mega Green flavor, which has a little kick to them. For the same serving size, these have only 50 calories, 3g of fat (.5g saturated), 80mg of sodium, and 2g of protein.

Both options are raw, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and organic.

GRAIN-FREE CRACKERS
Lydia’s Organics also makes some tasty grain-free crackers. The Luna Nori Crackers are delicious on their own or with avocado spread on them.

Each serving (3 crackers) is 140 calories, 6g of fat (1g saturated), 120mg of sodium, and a whopping 5g of fiber and 6g of protein.

These are also gluten-free, raw, organic, and vegan.

All fats in these products are coming from heart healthy sources – nuts and seeds. Most, if not all, of these items should be available at your Whole Foods. Or click on the pics to buy online!

And make sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2!

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Filed under Agave, Gluten-free, GMO-free, Health, Organic, Product Review, Products, Raw, Snacks, Superfoods, Vegan, Vegetables

Red, White and Blue

Happy 4th of July!

Let’s get patriotic with our food! Yup, we’re talking about red, white, and blue foods today.

RED

Raspberries are one of my favorite foods! They’re one of the lowest sugar fruits (which means they’re low-glycemic), very high in fiber, and also low in calories. Plus, they’re loaded with Vitamin C, antioxidants, and antimicrobial and anticarcinogenic compounds. You get serious bang for your caloric buck here. I recommend buying them organic and frozen because they are cheaper, delicious when they get melty, and don’t get as moldy as quickly as the fresh ones do.

A red food you should really watch out for is the papaya. Most papayas, sadly, are genetically modified (GMO alert!). I love this fruit, which is, like the raspberry, a low-sugar fruit, but now I’m very cautious about eating it. Make sure you know the origins of your papaya before you dive in.

As I’m scaling back on my papaya consumption, I’m turning things up a notch with red beets. This is one red food that I’m just now starting to appreciate. Beets have antioxidant, detoxification, and anti-inflammatory properties. And by increasing your intake of sweet vegetables, like beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes, you decrease your sweet cravings. For some of us, that’s a much-needed trick!

WHITE

White vegetables get overlooked, in my opinion, because everyone is so busy talking about greens. Well, greens are great, don’t get me wrong, but so are whites!

Here’s what the white veggies can do…

  • daikon radishes – detoxification, low in calories, and helps with fat and starch digestion
  • onions – antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, increases bone density, and lowers blood cholesterol
  • mushrooms – antioxidants and immune-boosting
  • cauliflower – good for digestion and detoxification, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory

Make sure to get lots of colorful fruits and veggies into your meals…and colorless ones, too!!

BLUE

Okay, this one is a little tricky. Blue foods are actually kind of purple. Purple mountain majesties? Okay, still patriotic. 😉

I think everyone knows by now that blueberries are packed with antioxidants, so all I’m going to say is that they top the dirty dozen list for produce with the most pesticide residue, and you should make sure to buy them, and all other berries, organic when possible. They can be pricey, so it’s a good option to buy them frozen. They last longer and are still packed with nutrients because they’re frozen right after they’re picked. It’s a win-win.

Anthocyanin, the pigment in blue/purple foods like blueberrieseggplants, figs, blackberries, plums, and grapes, gives us antioxidants, anti-aging properties, and benefits eye and heart health.

So, the bottom line is that the more colors you have on your plate, the better. By getting different types of foods into your diet, you’re getting a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and health benefits. So let’s get healthy and patriotic, people!

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Question of the Day:
What’s the best place you’ve ever watched fireworks?

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Filed under Diet, Fruit, GMO, Health, Low-glycemic, Organic, Tips and Tricks, Vegetables