Category Archives: Products

Let’s Go Shopping!

As a health coach, one of the things I do is give grocery tours. Since not all of my readers are local, consider this your free online grocery tour of Trader Joe’s!

“But Trader Joe’s is so healthy!” you say. “Can’t I buy anything there?”

No, my friends. Not all Trader Joe’s offerings are created equal. Many products contain soy and other iffy ingredients or far too much sugar to be healthy. One of the best things you can do for your health is to learn to read labels.

One tip I’ll give you right here, right now is this: the fewer ingredients, the better.

That being said, Trader’s does offer some wonderful products for amazing prices. So let’s get to it, shall we?

1. Organic Petit Pain Pascal 
Trader Joe’s made a winner here. With only 3 ingredients – organic whole wheat flour, water, and salt – this bread is organic, whole grain and so delicious. You’ll find it in the day bread section, which means they deliver them each morning and not every store gets them every day.

Fyi: Do not confuse it with the Pain Pascal demi-loaf. The Petit Pain Pascal is much softer and moister than it’s cousin the demi-loaf, which I found to be obscenely large and rather dry, but serviceable in a pinch.

Check with your local store for the deets. Oh and did I mention it’s $.99?

Makes you wonder why so many companies add more ingredients when only 3 taste this good…

2. Frozen Organic Berries

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.18.52 AMIn my germ-fighting post, I mentioned the importance of eating plenty of berries to stay healthy this time of year. I love that Trader’s has a frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. This combo-pack really elevates a bowl of oatmeal.

Their frozen berry selection is seasonal, though, so at times you’ll find the mixed berries or wild organic blueberries or organic raspberries. All get my stamp of approval on taste, health, and price. $2.99 (rasps)/$3.49 (mix)/$3.99 (bluebs)

3. Power to the Greens Mix

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.44.50 AMSeveral months ago, one of my favorite bloggers, Erika from Raw Green Fitness, brought this product to my attention. And I am so grateful! This bag of mixed greens (baby kale, baby spinach, and baby chard) is super healthy and gets a good mix of different greens into your meal. Cook or eat raw. Each bag is $1.99.

4. Organic Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Treats
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I’ve yet to meet a pooch who doesn’t dig these tasty treats. And at $2.99 a bag, you can feel good about feeding your four-legged bestie good stuff for a great price.

5. Cheapest. Therapy. Ever.

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.19.47 AMI am flipping over their daffodils right now. One bunch of these bright yellow beauties is $1.29, lasts about a week, and makes me smile every time I pass by the vase. Find a bloom that brightens your day!

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Filed under BPA, Fruit, Health, Organic, Product Review, Products, Tips and Tricks, Vegetables

Why Get Sick…

…when you can NOT get sick?

Unfortunately, it’s that time of year…you know the one I’m talking about. The germy, sniffly, feel yuck time of year. Don’t join that party. Because we all know it ain’t any kind of party.

So on that note, here are my best recommendations for fighting off the flus and colds and other gross mystery illnesses:

1. Wash your hands!

Wash ’em right and wash ’em often! Use warm, soapy water. Wash for the duration of 2 renditions of Happy Birthday. That may sound like an eternity, but it’s 10-15 seconds. Let’s not be dramatic.

2. Greens

Eat your greens, drink your greens…whatever. Just get as many green veggies into your body as you can. They are your best defense.

Cooking them is especially good this time of year, as it will be warming to your system and will kill off any bacteria. Don’t overcook, of course. Just lightly steam or sautee them. And add a bit of healthy fat after cooking, like olive oil or avocado, so the vitamins and minerals are better assimilated into your body.

3. Berries and Citrus

Eat your antioxidant-rich foods! Berries and citrus are loaded with Vitamin C and and good-for-you vitamins. It’s very important to eat real, whole foods, to stay healthy and to recover faster if you do get sick.

Additionally, organic blueberries are more reasonably-priced this time of year. And berries are low in sugar. See #7 for more on that.

4. Rest

Tired? Don’t go get a quadruple latte. Take a few minutes to lie down and let your body recharge. If it’s tired and you caffeinate, you’re just going against it and that’s not going to work out well for you in the end.

5. Herbal Remedies

I recommend Gaia Respiratory Defense, Black ElderberryAshwagandha, and Astragalus Reishi. These help you fight stress and boost your immunity. Take note, my pregnant readers: these are not for you.

Screen shot 2013-01-24 at 11.02.42 PMScreen shot 2013-01-24 at 11.24.36 PM

6. Fish Oil

Fish oil fights systemic inflammation, so it’s a good idea to take a high quality one daily to support the immune system and overall health. It also boosts fertility, is essential for pregnant women and their growing babies, as well as those suffering from arthritis, heart disease, or other chronic diseases.

My recommendation is Pharmax Finest Pure Fish Oil Capsules – all pcbs, dioxins and mercury have been removed and these won’t give you fish burps.

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7. Avoid sugar
Know what won’t boost your immunity? You guessed it: sugar. Sugar wreaks havoc on your immune system and leaves you vulnerable to all the nasty bugs out there. And once the bug is in your system, it feeds on sugar and exacerbates the illness.

If you love your sweet stuff, my recommendation is to ease way up when you’re feeling sick. Otherwise, you’ll just be sick for longer. The choice is yours…

Hope you all stay healthy out there!

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Filed under Health, Products, Sugar, Tips and Tricks, Vegetables

Cutting Corners

It’s best to eat whole foods, which are foods in their natural state. I’m talking about fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, meat, fish, eggs…foods like that. These are foods that have not been processed beyond recognition. These are foods with one ingredient, that come from nature.

But we all have a lot going on. Sometimes it’s just too much work to cook up a fresh meal every time. Am I right?

This is why so many people turn to packaged foods. They’re easy, ready-to-go, and last an eternity in your car or bag. Of course, that “lasting an eternity” thing is the problem – they’ve got all kinds of scary chemicals in there that allow them to do that. Don’t even get me started on what those chemicals are doing to your body…

I get that we only have 24 hours in the day. And if there’s too much prep involved, we’re less likely to eat that particular food. So here’s the healthy way I cut corners so that I eat the right foods:

1. Kale Salad

Buying local is best, and cutting your veggies on the spot is best, but with this pre-cut bag of organic kale, I’m getting kale that’s ready to go, along with carrots and cabbage. Saves me a lot of time in prep + 3 whole ingredients in one = Very Helpful.

2. Quick Oats

Sure, steel cut oats are best, but like many of you, I need to expedite my breakfast, so quick oats it is for me. Whole Foods 365 brand makes a great organic option that is ready to go in just a few minutes – cooking isn’t even necessary! Make cold or hot and let them sit for a couple of minutes to let them soak and you’re good to go.

3. Coleman Naturals The Original Brat Hans Cooked Chicken Breast Strips

Now, I don’t know how many places are carrying this – could be a very new product – and I don’t know what is going on with that name, but I just found it at my local Whole Foods in Silicon Valley and it’s great. This is a package of pre-cooked organic chicken breast with a bit of salt, pepper, and onion and garlic powders. That’s it. No preservatives. Throw ’em on salads, sandwiches, or eat right out of the package. Easy. Tasty.

4. Eden Organics Canned Beans

Ideally, you want to buy dried (not canned) beans and soak them. It’s healthier because they’re fresher, cans have BPA, and the contents of cans typically contain a lot of additives. There is one exception: Eden Organics. Their cans are bpa-free and there are no nasty ingredients. GMO-free since 1993, and one of the last independently owned organic companies, this is one company I’m happy to support.

For snack ideas (not exactly 1 ingredient whole foods, but healthy packaged options for on-the-go, quick refueling), check out some of my older posts:

Food Finds, Part 1 and Part 2
In a Pinch
“I Think There’s Something To This Whole Organic Thing…”

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Filed under BPA, Chicken, GMO-free, Health, Organic, Product Review, Products, Snacks, Tips and Tricks, Vegetables

It Was A Shock…It was a Chocolat

That’s right. This post is about chocolate. How fun is that?!

I’m all about health, but I’m all about chocolate, too!

But I should specify – I love quality chocolate. I don’t like weird filler ingredients. I don’t like soy lecithin and emulsifiers. I don’t like artificial this, that, or the other thing. Oh, you know this about me by now. No need to repeat myself. 😉

So that means I like pricey, fancypants chocolate, but we all have our guilty pleasures, right? Craft chocolate is totally having a moment right now, just like beer and coffee. And I am all for taking advantage of it!

What do I look for in my chocolate? Only two ingredients and a whole lotta taste.

Ingredients: cacao and sugar.

Okay, you know I don’t think sugar is so great, but this is my one exception because dark chocolate – when 70% or higher – has antioxidants and deliciousness, and helps to curb hunger. And just a little bit goes a long way. We gotta treat ourselves sometimes, you know? We’re not nuns, here.

Alright, here we go. My favorite gourmet chocolate finds (click on the link to buy):

1. Dandelion – Venezuela and Colombia (both 70%)
Columbia has notes of caramel. Venezuela has notes of cinnamon and fruit. I love caramel, cinnamon, and fruit!

2. Rogue Chocolatier – 70% Rio Caribe
Notes of coffee, blood orange, nuts. Yum, yum, and yum.

3. Askinosie – I love the 77% from Davao, Philippines
This one contains a 3rd ingredient – cocoa butter. I can make exceptions.

4. Mast Brothers – 72% with cacao nibs (which is technically a 3rd ingredient, but doesn’t really count because they’re pure, unsweetened cacao pieces)

5. Ritual – 75% from Costa Rica
I’m not joking when I tell you this tastes like blackberry jam. Sometimes I can’t taste the notes they list on things, but I can tell you, there was no mistakin’ the blackberry in this. (It reminded me of the Friends episode with Joey and the jam.)

The grocery store selection can be good, too, but they typically have more than just two ingredients.

Here’s what I look for:
*soy-free
*organic
*gmo-free
*high cocoa content

I know I’m not going to get all of these from every chocolate bar, but there are a few that come very close. And here they are:

1. Dagoba – 74% Chocodrops
This one does contain soy but it’s organic and gmo-free soy. They make bars, too, but I like the drops because you can just pop a few…or a handful…you know how it is…

2. Fearless – 70% Organic, Direct Trade
They have a few different flavors. All are good, but this is made with raw cacao and tastes a little different. It’s super healthy because preparing it at a low temperature preserves the antioxidant content, but the taste might not be for everybody.

3. Alter Eco – Gmo-free. Organic. Vegan. Soy and gluten-free. Fair trade.
I especially like the quinoa flavor even though the chocolate isn’t as dark.

4. Snake and Butterfly – Fair trade, organic, and milk, soy, and gluten-free.
They have some interesting flavors, like bacon toffee. Never tried that one, though…

Things to keep in mind when it comes to chocolate:

  • Chocolate processed WITH alkali is not as healthy because the alkali strips out most of the antioxidants and flavonoids
  • The higher the cocoa content, the lower the content of sugar (and other stuff if you’re eating chocolate that has more than just cacao and sugar), and that’s a good thing. We want higher cocoa content. So that 85% dark chocolate bar? It has more cocoa and less sugar than that 47% bar. And more antioxidants.
  • For the most antioxidants, eat raw cacao (this is where chocolate comes from but when we heat it at high temps and add in sugar, etc., it loses it’s nutritional punch). It’s delicious in smoothies, chia pudding, oatmeal, in a mix with walnuts and goji berries, in greek yogurt…the possibilities are endless. In fact, raw cacao is a superfood – and it’s the food with the highest antioxidant content on the planet. Yes, you read that correctly. Raw cacao has more antioxidants than blueberries – by a lot. And when eaten with berries, the antioxidant effect multiplies. Pretty amazing, right?  Chocolate is awesome.
  • 1 oz is the recommended daily dose (about the size of a dental floss container) because as we all know, chocolate has fat and sugar and most of us are getting plenty of those from other sources, too. 😉
  • Organic and raw is always a better choice when it comes to chocolate
  • Don’t choose a chocolate…or anything, really…with a long list of ingredients

So there you have it. Go grab my grocery faves or indulge in one of my high-end finds. Either way, it’ll be tasty!

p.s. Oh, husband…if you made it to the bottom of this post…feel free to shop those first 5 links, should you need to find a treat for me in the near future… 😉

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Filed under Chocolate, Gluten-free, GMO-free, Health, Organic, Product Review, Products, Raw, Sugar, Superfoods, Vegan

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