fruits

Why Drink Lemon Water?

Why-drink-lemon-water_v2

Lemon water has great powers. Ever since I learned how great it is, I've made it a habit to start my day off with a cup of warm lemon water before I have my breakfast. It's a great way to gently wake up the organs and help their natural detox cycle. It's also great to just drink throughout the day. Simply squeeze a lemon into a cup of water (hot or cold) and enjoy.

Here are some of the amazing benefits of lemon water:

  • Helps with weight loss - Lemons speed up metabolism.
  • Helps flush out toxins from the body - Detox.
  • Cleanses the digestive system.
  • Alkalizes the body - When our body is under an acidic state, it develops sickness and disease, so it's important to try to balance it with alkalizing foods.
  • Improves immunity - High in Vitamin C.
  • Works as a natural diuretic.
  • Acts as a liver tonic.
  • Improves skin tone and quality - The acidity of lemons helps treat acne.
  • Relieves nausea.
  • Relieves constipation.

9 Natural Ways to Keep the Flu Away

9 Natural Ways to keep the flu away_v2

The immune system is what helps us fight virus and bacteria and keeps us from getting sick. During this flu season and cold weather, it's important to give our immune system a boost. Here are 9 natural ways to keep the flu away:

  1. Drink ginger tea. Ginger is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, relieves pain, and aids digestion. To make tea, simmer a 1-inch strip in 2 cups filtered water for about 10 min and then enjoy with some lemon juice. 
  2. Load up on Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts the immune system. It helps to prevent a cold/flu and also helps get rid of it. Foods high in vitamin C include dark leafy greens (kale, collard greens, chard), citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. 
  3. Garlic. Garlic is strongly an anti-bacterial and anti-virus ingredient. Eating it raw (uncooked) provides the most health benefits, but cooking with it is also good. If you can take the strong raw taste, chop it up and throw it on your salads, cooked vegetables, cooked meats, and even smoothies. Otherwise, add to pan towards the end of cooking to expose to heat for only a short period of time.  
  4. Get enough sleep and manage stress. Lack of sleep puts stress on our body and stress weakens our immune system. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night without interruptions. Things you can do to help deal with stress are: take a walk/hike, drink tea, listen to calming music, read a book, yoga, exercise, meditate, take deep breaths, draw/write, take a hot bath, and prioritize your life. 
  5. Cook with spices. Spices like cinnamon, turmeric, and cayenne pepper are anti-inflammatory and help relieve pain and fight health problems. 
  6. Eat probiotics. Probiotics are live cultures that live mostly in our gut. These are good bacteria that help fight off the bad bacteria. Feeding the gut with good bacteria helps heal it and strengthens our immune system. Get probiotics by eating fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir(lactose-free), and kim chi. 
  7. Avoid refined sugar and dairy. Refined sugar (including alcohol) is what feeds the bad bacteria in our gut and allows it to replicate. Refined sugar also weakens our immune system and causes inflammation in the body. Let your sugar come from natural sources such as fresh fruit, honey (good for sore throat and cough), dates, and root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, squash/pumpkin, and beets. Dairy is also something you might want to avoid if having symptoms of a cold/flu because it creates mucus in the body and only makes things worse. 
  8. Drink unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is great for many things. Some benefits are detoxifying the body, feeding the gut with good bacteria, and curing a sore throats, sinus infections, headaches, and the flu. Mix 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with some filtered water and drink slowly. For a sore throat, gargle apple cider vinegar in the back of your throat then spit out and repeat a few more times. 
  9. My favorite remedy - "Voo-doo Juice." I learned this tea from my mom and it's what I immediately go to if I feel a cold approaching. It is packed with immune supporting ingredients and it really does the trick. I add 2 cloves crushed garlic, 2-inch piece of ginger, about 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more if you can take it), and 4 cups filtered water to a small pot and simmer for about 10 minutes. Filter tea into a mug and enjoy with a bit of raw honey. 
Don't forget to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and get lots of fluids from water, hot tea, and chicken or vegetable soup. 
 
Stay healthy. 

 

Alternative Sweeteners

Refined sugar is in everything these days. It's amazing how many products contain it without us realizing. It's in sauces, dressings, nuts, tea, coffee, smoothies, granola, cereals, and most other packaged foods. You'd think it would be easy to point out and eliminate these foods from our diet, but the problem is that we don't even know it's there because it's hidden with names such as sucrose, fructose, dextrose, glucose, maltodextrin, Sucralose, sorbitol, agave nectar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and many others that I can't even pronounce. These sugars and artificial sweeteners are highly processed and harmful for our health. They don't provide any health benefits and just keep us wanting more and more. It's natural to have sugar cravings and although sugar can be addicting, completely depriving ourselves from it is not always the best option because it can lead to increased cravings. It's okay to satisfy your sweet tooth every once in a while if doing so with high-quality, unprocessed ingredients. Here is a list of natural sweeteners that actually support our health and can be used as alternatives for refined sugar:

  • Dates/date sugar
  • Dried figs
  • Palm/coconut sugar (doesn't give a blood sugar spike like others do)
  • Raw honey
  • Grade B Maple Syrup
  • Fresh fruit
  • Stevia
* Purchase organic products whenever possible
These alternative sweeteners are natural but should still be consumed in moderation as they still do raise blood sugar levels. Other natural ways to reduce sugar cravings include drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, eating more fermented foods (sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir), getting more sleep, yoga, and meditation.

Stay healthy!

Not all Fruit is Created Equal

Not all fruit is created equal

Fresh fruits are an important part of a whole foods diet. They are a great source of antioxidants, water-soluble vitamins, and fiber. Water-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C and B vitamins are necessary in our daily diet because our body cannot make them and only stores them in very small amounts. Antioxidants help our body get rid of free radicals that are harmful to us and can lead to disease such as cancer. The high fiber content in fruit aids digestion and is great for detox/cleanse and weight loss. Since fruits are one of the best sources of these water-soluble vitamins and nutrients, making sure that we get 2-3 servings of fruit every day will provide us with what we need to function properly. Serving Size:

1/2 cup or 1 medium piece of fruit (apple, pear, orange, 1/2 banana)

Like any other type of food, each type of fruit has different nutrient percentages. It's good to be mindful of this especially when it comes to sugar (carbohydrates) because consuming too much of it can potentially lead to health concerns. Dried fruits (all kinds) and fresh tropical fruits such as banana, pineapple, and mango, are the highest in sugar. Fruits lowest in sugar include all types of berries and lemons, while all other fruits fall in between. The good thing is that the fruits lowest in sugar contain the most antioxidants.

Some examples of fruit and their sugar content: 1 cup strawberries = 8g sugar 1 cup blueberries = 5g sugar 1 banana = 15-20g sugar 1 cup pineapple = 17g sugar

There are misconceptions with fruit because they are a whole and natural food (if organic) and they do provide lots of health benefits, but they are a source of sugar (carbohydrates) and can add up without us realizing it. So next time you are preparing that smoothie, take a look at how much fruit you throw in the blender and figure out how many servings that is. These sugars are natural, yes, but they are simple carbohydrates which are the same as white sugar and are digested fast to create a blood sugar spike followed by a crash. This is why a piece of fruit alone is not the best snack because it won't hold you over for a long time. Pair your fruit with some protein and good fat to enjoy a delicious snack. Protein and fat take longer to digest and balance blood sugar by slowing down digestion of carbohydrates.

Looking at sugar content is not as important as making sure we get those 2-3 servings of fruit each day, but is a good thing to keep in mind especially when doing a cleanse/detox (detox with vegetables) or watching sugar intake. Organic, local, seasonal, and fresh fruits are always the best option, they provide the most nourishment and health benefits. Remember that moderation is key!

Don't be fooled by food labels - What to look for

We often think we're buying the right thing because we purchase foods with labels such as "All-natural," "organic," "free of pesticides," "cage-free," and "hormone-free." Be mindful that marketers will write anything they can in order to get you to buy their product. There are specific labels that you should be looking for and organic is one of the most important. In order to know if a food is actually organically produced, it must carry the "USDA Certified Organic" label. This label ensures that the food has been inspected and follows the food safety regulations of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).The term "organic" means that a food is free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Choosing organic produce and meats is essential in order to get the highest nutritional value. Conventional foods are filled with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and are genetically modified. Eating these foods can lead to nutrient deficiencies and inhibit the ability of our body to absorb nutrients. By eating organic we are not only getting the most we can from what we are putting into our body, but maintaining soil health and supporting that animals are treated with respect. Buying organic foods might be pricier, but in the long run, it will keep you from having to spend on medications and medical bills due to diseases caused by food.

There are some exceptions when it comes to produce of what you can get by without purchasing organic, but it is highly recommended to always pay the organic dollar for animal products because these are the ones that are most chemically altered and harmful to our health. So don't deprive yourself from the nutrients you need by purchasing conventionally grown meats and dairy products.

"Choose local, chemical free, organic, and delicious foods. You'll feel the benefits and will have peace of mind and body as a consequence" -Ed Bauman, M. Ed., Ph.D

Here are some general guidelines for purchasing good quality meats and produce:

Chicken Purchasing the best quality chicken can be a challenge. A chicken that is labeled organic can simply mean that whatever it was fed (usually grains and soy) was organic. Although you want to look for chickens that are raised on pasture, chickens that are fed organically grown grains and soy still provide more nutrients and better health benefits than those that are not fed organic. Organic chicken can be hard to find and a lot of times what is labeled organic still doesn't necessarily mean it meets other requirements you want to look for.

Now a days, the way conventional chickens are raised is completely inhumane and sad. They are being fed genetically modified grains and kept in tight spaces which makes them stressed and messes with their immune system. This leads to farmers giving them antibiotics in order for them to not get sick and spread any disease to the other chickens. Once the chickens are slaughtered, they are dunked in iced-cold water combined with chlorine and other chemicals to speed up the temperature reduction of the chicken.

With all this said, there are many factors to consider when purchasing chicken. Reading labels carefully is very important because statements on the packaging can be misleading. Make sure to look for the proper wording of certain statements. For example, "antibiotic-free," "cage-free," and "all-natural" don't mean the same as "raised without antibiotics," "free-range," and "organic."

Here is what to look for when purchasing chicken:

  • Organic
  • Free-range
  • Raised without antibiotics
  • Hormone-free
  • Air-chilled
It might be hard to find chicken with all of these factors, but try to at least always purchase organic.

Eggs Look for:

  • Organic
  • Pasture-raised
  • Hormone free
  • Free-range
Note: Remember that "cage-free" is not the same as "free-range."
Organic, pasture-raised eggs
Meat and Dairy 
 
Like chicken, they way cattle is raised in industrial farms is unnatural and inhumane. Naturally, cattle should be fed grass, but industrial farms feed their cattle genetically modified grains and soy because it is cheaper and fattens the animals faster.
The first compartment of a cow's stomach is called a rumen. The rumen is designed to breakdown plant-based foods (grass). When ruminants (animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, bison) are constantly fed grains and soy, they become physically stressed and develop health disorders that ranchers then try to fix by introducing chemicals and antibiotics. These antibiotics and other drugs are present in the meats and dairy products we buy and put us at high risk of developing disease as well.
Meats and dairy products from animals that are fed organic plant foods are shown to have an overall higher nutritional profile. Dairy products include milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Here is what to look for when purchasing meats and dairy products:
  • Organic
  • Grass-fed and grass-finished (The term "grass-fed" can sometimes be misleading because cattle that is fed grass for half of its life and grains for the other half can still be labeled "grass-fed." Look for the term "grass-finished" in order to reassure it was only fed grass. Be sure to ask your butcher for help if not labeled)
To learn more about grass-fed meats, dairy and eggs visit Eat Wild - www.eatwild.com and Michael Pollan's website - www.michaelpollan.com

Fish Choosing sustainable seafood is always the best choice. Seafood that comes from fisheries that meet sustainable seafood standards assures that the fish populations are healthy and that the fish is being caught or farmed in a way that is friendly to the environment. So not only are you getting good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, but you are supporting healthy oceans when you purchase sustainable seafood.

Depending on the species, some seafood is better wild-caught and some is better farmed.

Here are the best choices to make when purchasing seafood:

  • Catfish - U.S. farmed
  • Pacific Halibut - U.S. Pacific, wild-caught
  • King Salmon - Alaskan, wild-caught
  • Rainbow Trout - U.S. farmed
  • Albacore Tuna - U.S. troll/pole
  • Tilapia - U.S. farmed
  • Scallops - Worldwide, farmed
  • Sole - Pacific, wild-caught
  • Atlantic Cod - Iceland, Northeast Arctic, hook-and-line

To learn more about sustainable fish and recommendations visit Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch- www.seafoodwatch.org

Produce Fruits and vegetables are best when organic, but the level of pesticides varies in conventionally grown and some are safer than others.

Ferry Plaza Saturday Famers' Market

Here are what environmental workers call the "Dirty Dozen" which are highest in pesticides and should always be purchased organic:

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Sweet Bell Peppers
  9. Potatoes (white)
  10. Blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/Collard Greens
Here are the "Clean 15" which are lowest in pesticides and are safe to be purchased conventionally grown:
  1. Onions
  2. Corn (non-GMO)
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avoado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet Potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms
To learn more about organic foods and a yearly updated list of the "Shopper's Guide" visit The Environmental Working Group news - www.foodnews.org or www.ewg.org
Amy and I visiting Earl's Organic Produce Market

Soy Due to their low cost, most soy products are unrefined and genetically modified.

Here is what to look for when purchasing soy products:

  • Organic
  • Non-GMO (non-genetically modified organism)
  • Unrefined and Fermented
Fermented soy products are:
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Tamari/Shoyu
  • Tofu (Not always fermented)
Purchasing local, organic, and sustainable foods will always guarantee you the best health. Stay healthy.

Sources Natural Chef Training Program Textbook, Bauman College, Spring 2012

Whole Foods Pantry Essentials

7 easy ways to detox daily_v2

In order to cook healthy you need to have healthy ingredients to choose from. I've created a table to help. Eating a variety of these foods every day will ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs. Purchase foods organic when possible for the highest nutritional value. Organic unrefined ingredients might cost more, but investing in your health now will prevent having to invest in medical bills later.  All the ingredients I use in my recipes are found in this list. Feel free to print this out and keep it somewhere handy for when you go to the grocery store. Happy shopping!

Food
Types
Servings
Nutritional Benefits
Healthy Fats/Oils and Nuts/Seeds (raw or dry roasted)
Walnuts
Pecans
Almonds
Hazelnuts
Brazil nuts
Cashews
Pistachios
Sesame seeds
Chia seeds
Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds
Hemp seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Nut butters
Tahini
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Unrefined sesame oil
2-3 servings per day
A serving of nuts and seeds is 2 Tablespoons 
A serving of fats/oils is 1 Tablespoon
Nuts and seeds are good sources of essential fats (Omega-3 and Omega-6), vitamin E, protein, B vitamin, beta carotene, minerals, and folic acid
Soaking nuts and seeds helps digest them better and increases nutrient availability
Coconut oil reduces inflammation, aids digestion and metabolism, and decreases risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer
Whole Grains
Gluten-Free:
Quinoa
Millet
Amaranth
Buckwheat
Teff
Rice (Brown, Jasmine, Short grain, Long grain, Wild, black)
Contain Gluten:
Wheat
Rye
Spelt
Barley
Oats (oats don't contain gluten, but are usually always cross-contaminated with other gluten containing grains unless gluten-free certified)
1-3 servings per day
A serving is 1/2 cup cooked
Whole grains provide complex carbohydrates and fiber
Gluten-free grains are hypoallergenic and provide B vitamins and magnesium to help with digestion and balance blood sugar
Gluten-containing grains can be inflammatory and hard on digestion
Soaking or rinsing grains before cooking helps their digestion
Spices, Condiments, Supplements, and Natural Sweeteners
Unrefined sea salt
Peppercorns
Tamari, low salt
Vanilla, pure 
Miso
Nutritional yeast
Dijon Mustard
Apple Cider vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Sea Vegetables (Nori, Sea Palm, Dulse, Agar flakes, Kombu, Wakame, Hijiki, Arame)
Dried herb/spices:
Bay leaves
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Coriander
Cumin
Oregano
Pepper (Paprika, Cayenne) 
Turmeric
Fresh herbs:
Basil
Thyme
Cilantro
Dill
Ginger root
Parsley
Rosemary
Mint
Powders/Supplements:
Raw cacao powder
Maca powder
Spirulina powder
Chlorella powder
Protein powder (vegan, sugar-free)
Mesquite powder
Natural Sweeteners:
Raw honey
Grade B maple syrup
Coconut sugar
Maple sugar
2-4 servings per day
A serving is 1 teaspoon - 1 Tablespoon
Spices and herbs add flavor and boost metabolism
Sea vegetables provide amino acids (building blocks of protein), vitamin E, B vitamins, fiber, and minerals
Nutritional yeast provides B vitamins, amino acids, and minerals
Powders and supplements are ingredients that contain high nutrient value in small amounts
Natural sweeteners are unrefined and provide more nutrients than white sugar or artificial sweeteners, but should still be consumed in moderation
Dairy (Choose organic and grass-fed. Choose whole, low-, or non- fat without any additives)
Raw dairy
Yogurt
Goat cheese or yogurt 
Cottage cheese
Kefir
Mozzarella
Parmesan
Romano
Feta
 
1-2 servings per day
A serving of cheese is 1 ounce
A serving of yogurt is about 4-6 ounces
Dairy are a great source of protein and calcium
Calcium-rich foods help immune system, fat metabolism, and protect against bone damage and breast cancer
Dried Legumes and Soy (Choose soy products that are fermented and non-GMO)
Garbanzo beans
Black beans
Pinto beans
Adzuki beans
Mung beans
Kidney beans
Navy beans
Cannellini beans
Fava beans
Lima beans
Split peas
Lentils
Soy beans (Edamame)
Tempeh
Tofu
1-2 servings per day
A serving is 1/2 cup cooked
Legumes are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates
25% of their calories come from protein
Darker legumes contain antioxidants
Soak legumes overnight before cooking to reduce gas
Meats (Choose organic, pasture-raised [grass-fed, not grain-fed] lean meat and poultry; free of hormones, antibiotics, and nitrates)
Chicken
Turkey
Lamb
Beef
Eggs (organic and pasture-raised)
1-3 servings per week
A serving is 3-4 ounces
Animal foods are a very good source of protein and also provide some vitamins and minerals 
Eggs boost brain health, reduce inflammation, and provide heart health
Cold-Water Fish (Choose high in Omega-3, low mercury)
Salmon (wild caught)
Scallops
Tilapia
Ahi Tuna
Cod, Halibut
Sole
Tilapia (farmed in the U.S.)
Trout
1-3 servings per week
A serving is 3-4 ounces
Seafood is rich in protein, minerals, and essential fats (Omega-3)
Vegetables (Choose fresh, organic, seasonal, and locally grown)
Leafy:
Arugula
Bok choy
Kale
Collards
Napa cabbage
Cabbage, red/green
Broccoli sprouts
Brussels sprouts
Mustard greens
Chard, Swiss
Leaf lettuce
Spinach
Mesclun salad mix
Romaine lettuce
Watercress
Crunchy and Starchy:
Broccoli
Radish
Daikon
Cauliflower
Beets
Carrots
Pumpkin
Bell pepper, green/red/yellow
Cucumber
Celery
Zucchini
Summer squash
Green beans
Yam
Sweet potatoes
Mushrooms (button, crimini, enoki, maitake, oyster, portobello, shiitake)
Burdock
Asparagus 
Artichoke
Parsnip
Peas, sugar snap
Peas, green
Tomatoes
Fennel
Jicama
Onions, red/yellow
Garlic
Leeks
Scallions
5-6 servings per day
A serving is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked
 
Vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals that aid digestion, immune system, growth and development, and bone health
Vegetables with the highest pesticide contamination (should be purchased organic) are: Bell peppers
Celery
Spinach
Lettuce
Potatoes
Fruits (Choose fresh, ripe, organic, and in season)
Blueberries
Blackberries
Cherimoya
Cherries
Cranberries
Currants
Figs
Nectarines
Grape, dark skin
Plums
Pomegranate
Prunes
Raisins
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Strawberries
Apricot
Papaya
Cantaloupe
Kiwi
Mango
Nectarines
Peach
Persimmon
Watermelon
Oranges
Kumquat
Lemon
Lime
Grapefruit, pink
Tangerine
Apples
Banana
Pear
Pineapple
Plantain
Quince
2-3 servings per day
A serving is 1/2 cup or 1 medium piece of fruit
Fruits provide complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals
Fruits with the highest pesticide contamination (should be purchased organic) are: Peaches
Apples
Nectarines
Strawberries
Cherries
Pears
Grapes
 
Beverages
Filtered water
Herbal tea
Green tea
Chai
Vegetable juice
Nut milk
Filtered water:
8-10 cups per day
 
Herbal tea:
2-4 cups per day
Beverages provide hydration and help detoxify 
 
Sources
 
Natural Chef Textbook, Bauman College
www.whfoods.com