Let’s Start By Hitting the Fruit Aisle with Great Style — September 16, 2020

Let’s Start By Hitting the Fruit Aisle with Great Style

Obvioiusly fruits are an important part of a healthy diet, but how many of us stumble into the fruit aisle only to look at the pretty colors and then walk away because it would be so much easier simply to grab yet another granola bar out of a box and call it a day.  

But fruit is God’s candy…and far too many of us are missing out on one of His greatest gifts….not to mention foods that rank high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients.

Botanically speaking, a fruit is classified as a drupe as long as that fruit has seeds. So surprisingly, that means that tomatoes, eggplants, peas, beans, and wheat grains are actually all fruits.

In the next few posts, we will be talking about the different classifications of fruit so that we can start hitting the fruit aisle with style.

Fruit is typically classified into five different categories…

1.  BerriesWe probably can all figure out which fruits are berries—those fruits that are small  and juicy and do not have a stone or a pit. Typically when you think about berries, you think of…

  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • cranberries
  • raspberries
  • strawberries

2.  Citrus…These are those fruits that have a thick tangy rind and sectioned pulp inside. Typically when you think about citrus, you think of…

  • lemons
  • limes
  • oranges

3, Drupes…These are fleshy fruits that have a large seed. Typically when you think about drupes, you think of…

  • apricots
  • cherries
  • peaches

4. Pepo…These are those fruits that have multiple seeds throughout the flesh or grouped together in the center. Typically when you think of pepeo fruit, you think of melons.

5. Pomes…These are those fruits that have a fleshy area surrounding a core containing seeds. Typically when you think of pomes, you think of apples and pears.

6. Tropical fruits….Typically when you think of tropical fruits, you think of…

  • bananas
  • guavas
  • mangoes
  • papayas
  • pineapples

In the next few posts, we will keep exploring the grocery store with me…so let’s go shopping…shall we?!

The Ultimate Plant-Based Grocery List — September 14, 2020

The Ultimate Plant-Based Grocery List

  • Perhaps I’m not the only one totally not excited about making this change in diet and lifestyle, but the benefits are far too many to simply ignore…
  •  
  • After all, I do want to keep my diabetic husband around for a while…not to mention that I want to be able to feed my wholeheartedly devoted vegetarian daughter when she comes over for Easter or Thanksgiving or Christmas.
  •  
  • So right now, I am throwing out the bad and ugly…and replacing these nooks and crannies in my fridge and pantry with those foods that are uncooked, unprocessed, typically organic foods…those foods that have not been pasteurized or homogenized…those foods that have not been produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents or chemical food additives.
  •  
  • If you’re like me, you don’t want to all of a sudden completely change your ways, and there is actually no need to totally ditch your old ways completely overnight. Your goal should be to gradually start eating more and more unprocessed whole, plant-based, and preferably organic foods. Raw food should ultimately make up three-quarters of your diet.
  •  
  • Since your goal is not to cook food at temperatures above 100 degrees, you will need to explore alternative cooking methods which will gently cook your foods—such as steaming, juicing fruits and vegetables, sprouting seeds, using your Crock-Pot, germinating, making smoothies for breakfast, eating salad for lunch, dehydrating fruits and perhaps vegetables, soaking beans and grains in water,…instead of eating the fast food you’ve been shoving down for years.
  •  
  • For me, it has been fun to explore specialty stores and websites to expand my food choices beyond our usual grocery store as I learn more and more about raw foods and healthy living.
  •  
  • It has also helped to fill my bookshelves with and actually start reading nonfiction books on nutrition and diet…as well as raw and vegan cookbooks…(more on this later)…
  •  
  • Before we start crawling back up the Raw Foods Pyramid though, I thought it might be handy to go ahead and start a Raw Foods Grocery Shopping List so that we can all get our gears working and not get hungry as we explore these options more closely.
  • After all, I do want to keep my diabetic husband around for a while…not to mention that I want to be able to feed my wholeheartedly devoted vegetarian daughter when she comes over for Easter or Thanksgiving or Christmas.
  •  
  • So right now, I am throwing out the bad and ugly…and replacing these nooks and crannies in my fridge and pantry with those foods that are uncooked, unprocessed, typically organic foods…those foods that have not been pasteurized or homogenized…those foods that have not been produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents or chemical food additives.
  •  
  • If you’re like me, you don’t want to all of a sudden completely change your ways, and there is actually no need to totally ditch your old ways completely overnight. Your goal should be to gradually start eating more and more unprocessed whole, plant-based, and preferably organic foods. Raw food should ultimately make up three-quarters of your diet.
  •  
  • Since your goal is not to cook food at temperatures above 100 degrees, you will need to explore alternative cooking methods which will gently cook your foods—such as steaming, juicing fruits and vegetables, sprouting seeds, using your Crock-Pot, germinating, making smoothies for breakfast, eating salad for lunch, dehydrating fruits and perhaps vegetables, soaking beans and grains in water,…instead of eating the fast food you’ve been shoving down for years.
  •  
  • For me, it has been fun to explore specialty stores and websites to expand my food choices beyond our usual grocery store as I learn more and more about raw foods and healthy living.
  •  
  • It has also helped to fill my bookshelves with and actually start reading nonfiction books on nutrition and diet…as well as raw and vegan cookbooks…(more on this later)…
  •  
  • Before we start crawling back up the Raw Foods Pyramid though, I thought it might be handy to go ahead and start a Raw Foods Grocery Shopping List so that we can all get our gears working and not get hungry as we explore these options more closely.
  • *****
  • Dairy
    • cashew milk
    • club soda
    • coconut milk
    • coconut water
    • kombucha
    • macadamia nut milk
    • oat milk
    • raw eggs
    • soy milk 

 

Yogurt…The Which — March 9, 2020

Yogurt…The Which

These days there are SO many yogurts to choose from…

 

So how do you know that will give you the most health benefits?

Here are a few things to look for…

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Milk

Nowadays yogurt not only can be made with the typical cow’s milk, but can also be made from one of the following…

  • almond milk
  • coconut milk
  • hemp milk
  • oat milk
  • rice milk
  • soy milk

These yogurts are great for people who are either vegan or lactose-intolerant. For more about different types of milk, check my previous post Visions of Veganism—Milk.

 

Each type of yogurt will have its own texture and taste…so keep trying different options until you find the one type of yogurt that you love the most.

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Sweetener

When choosing a yogurt, another choice that you must make is whether to buy the “light” kind of “the other stuff.”

While “the other stuff” typically contains sugar…the light kind contains the other “other stuff”—more specfically artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet.

I personally can’t stand the aftertaste from these sweeteners, so I always buy the “other stuff” that doesn’t contain “the other stuff.”

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Active Cultures and Probiotics

Choose a yogurt labelled that it contains active cultures. Also check the list of ingredients to see if any specific active cultures are listed.

One of the words closely associated these days with yogurt is jprobiotics.

But what exactly are probiotics?

And why should we give a flying flip if our yogurt contains probiotics or not?

Probiotics are “friendly bacteria” that are naturally present in the digestive system….but also can be found in yogurt because yogurt typically contains live cultures.

Probiotics supposedly can do great things like…

 

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The Which

Here are a few examples of some lower fat choices:

 

Dannon…

  • Activia…165 calories…3 grams fat…23% RDA calcium
  • Activia Light…105 calories…0 grams fat…22.5% RDA calcium
  • Creamy Fruit Blends…170 calories….1.5 grams fat…20% RDA calcium
  • Light & Fit…75 calories…0 grams fat…15% RDA calcium…15% RDA vitamin D

 

Stonyfield Farms

  • 130 calories…1.5 grams fat…25% RDA calcium

 

 

Weight Watchers

  • 100 calories….5 grams fat…30% RDA calcium…30% RDA vitamin D

 

Yoplait

  • Fiber One Non-Fat…120 calories…0 grams fat…15% RDA calcium…11.5% RDA vitamin D
  • Yo Plus…165 calories…2.2 grams fat…23% RDA calcium…15% RDA vitamin D Light…100 calories…0 grams fat…20% RDA calcium…20% RDA vitamin D
Yogurt…The What — March 7, 2020

Yogurt…The What

One delicious way to reap the antioxidant benefits of raspberries is to add them to yogurt.

But first let’s take a look at what yogurt actually is, what the benefits of yogurt are, and other ways that you can incorporate raspberries into your healthier lifestyle without sacrificing the taste of foods that you probably crave as you make this transition—such as chocolate and ice cream.

 

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Say “Yes” to Yogurt

For years, I’ve been saying “yes” to yogurt…I pretty much eat yogurt every single day.

In fact people have been saying “yes” to yogurt for many, many years…in fact, for centuries….since about the yrar 500BC.

Yogurt is made by first heating milk to about 185 °F and then allowing the heated milk to cool to about 113 °F.

Next certain bacteria, called “yogurt cultures” are added to the milk. This ferments the natural sugar found in milk, called lactose…fermentation causes the milk to curdle and create lactic acid….giving yogurt both its flavor and texture.

 

 

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Yogurts of Yore

During the late 1800s...after yogurt was studied and shown to be supposedly responsible for the extremely long lifespans of peasants in Bulgaria, it started to become more popular throughout Europe…(but don’t ask me how they actually enjoyed it becasuse at this time, nobody added flavoring or sweeteners to the yogurt…have you ever tried unflavored and unsweetened yogurt…great for making smoothies perhaps…but definitely not to be eaten straight out of the carton).

In 1919, Isaac Carasso opened the first yogurt manufacturing plant in Barcelona, Spain….calling his business Danone (“little Daniel”) after his son. This brand later expanded to the US under the name Dannon…(as if you couldn’t have figured that out, right?!)

Yogurt was introduced to the United States in the first decade of the twentieth century. The person who was fundamental for starting a yogurt trend was John Harvey Kellogg at the Battle Creek Sanitarium…(yeah, the same Kellogg as the cereals that only stock how many shelves at your local grocery store)…

Kellogg treated patients at his sanitarium not only by giving them yogurt to eat, but also using yogurt in enemas…(think I’ll pass on that one)…

It was not until 1933 that people began first flavoring yogurt…by adding fruit jam to their yogurt…(and we should all thank God that somebody had the sense to do this, right?!)

In 1966 Colombo Yogurt started sweetening their yogurt and selling their yogurt with added fruit preserves…first creating what we know as  “fruit on the bottom” style yogurt.

If All Else Fails — March 1, 2020

If All Else Fails

grocery delivery

So what to do if your attempts at container gardening are an epic fail…or while you wait to see if the plants that you do plant actually turn out successful…or if you simply don’t want to go to the trouble of planting your own….or if you don’t have the space to even attempt to grow your own fruits and vegetables….or if you can’t make it to your farmer’s market’s Saturday-morning-only hours…or if you are looking for more variety than what you yourself would even attempt to grow.

Thankfully there are large-scale online organic grocery delivery services and subscription boxes that you can join that will deliver an assortment of organic fruits and veggies to your door to fill in these gaps by sending organic, all-natural produce and products right to your door.

What a convenience, right?!

The only problem perhaps with joining one of these subscriptions if that unfortunately you won’t be able to choose which fruits and vegetables you end up getting…(it’s their choice, not yours…so you can’t be picky)…

But here is a list of a few to consider…

 

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Boxed Greens

boxed greensGoal…to provide fresh fruits and vegetables from farms local to Phoenix, AZ

Options include…

  • The Essential Family…basic produce for four people
  • The Family Gourmand…same as The Essential Family, but comes with a few more unusual fruits or vegetables
  • The Juicemaker
  • The Breakfast Box…seasonal fruits and fresh granola

Reach…offers weekly delivery to Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, and other areas in Arizona…as well overnight delivery both to other areas in Arizone and  nationwide

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Door to Door Organics

door to door organics
Goal…to stock their boxes with pesticide-free produce primarily from local sources…even though they resort to getting produce from warmer climates and international organic farms during the winter months

Reach…several locations across the country, including Colorado, Kansas City, Chicago, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware

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Green Polka Dot Box

green polka dot

What…an online grocery store and buying collective that offers lower prices on brands such as Newman’s Own, Annie’s, Sprout, Tom’s of Maine, and more

Goal…to bring not only organic fruits and vegetables…but also other organic and natural products—including snacks, condiments, baking supplies, and more

How…either a $50-annual Club Membership or a $125-annual Rewards Membership

 

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SPUD-–Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery
spud logo
Reach…the northern West Coast: Seattle, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange County, Vancouver, Van Island, and Calgary

 

How…you design your own Harvest Box by choosing…

  • how frequently you want to get groceries delivered
  • how much you want to spend
  • whether you want to buy local goods only…local goods over a variety of items…or variety over source
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urban organic logo
Reach…New York Tri-State area…imncluding New Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut
Options…offers four box sizes, ranging from The Little Box to the Extra-Value Box
Contents…changes every week…but includes produce such as carrots, greens, broccoli, apples, tomatoes, grapefruit, and tangerines
Juicing Box…also offers a Juicing Box designed for DIY juice and smoothies…which comes with carrots, beets, parsely, celery, ginger, apples, pears, dark greens, and cucumbers

Groceries…also sells canned goods, baby food, sustainably-raised meat and household supplies such as organic cat food and cleaning spray

 

Farmer Brown Went to Town — February 14, 2020

Farmer Brown Went to Town

 

 

Cream of the Crop…Veggies — February 10, 2020

Cream of the Crop…Veggies

Now that we’ve taken a look at which fruits you should be buying in organic form, let’s consider veggies.

The following veggies are ones that you really should be buying in organic form…

 

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Celery

More than 95% percent of the celery sampled by the EWG contained up to 13 chemicals….so this is another vegetable that you should buy as organic.

 

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Corn

Even though the EWG considers to be a low-pesticide crop and tests have shown that less than 2% of sweet corn has any pesticide residue, you really should consider buying organic corn.

Why?

Because much of the corn grown here in the United States is produced from seeds that have been genetically modified….and many of us are trying to avoid foods that contain GMOs…and even the USDA doesn’t consider foods that are grown from GMO seeds to be classified as organic.

 

 

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Collard Greens

Collard greens, even though considered on the hardier vegetables, contain high levels of pesticides.

 

 

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Cucumbers

Cucumbers rank among the list of the top ten vegetables that are grown with the highest amount of pesticides.

Not only that, most cucumbers sold in grocery stores have had synthetic waxes applies on their skins—kinda like apples—and this wax, even though it is applied to preserve moisture, often contains a large number of pesticides.

So always buy organic cucumbers…or at least take the time to peel them before using.

 

 

 

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Hot Peppers

Hot peppers, or simply peppers in general, are always best to buy in organic form because they all have been shown to have high levels of pesticides.

 

 

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Kale

Over 92% of conventional kale samples tested positive for two or more pesticide residues…some containing over eighteen different pesticide residues.

A major pesticide to be concerned about when considering whether or not to buy organic kale is the fact that it has been shown to contain DCPA (Dacthal), a substance that has been banned in Europe for at least ten years and is classified as a potential human carcinogen by the EPA.

Sixty percent of these samples tested had traces of this particular pesticide.

 

 

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Potatoes

You would think that potatoes would be hardy enough not to have to buy in organic form, but nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, conventional potatoes have been shown to have more pesticides than any other crop. since they require nutrient-rich soil and are often grown with artificial fertilizers.

Organic or Not…Here I Come — February 5, 2020

Organic or Not…Here I Come

While two of my main goals lately have been to start eating healthier and to stop eating so much processed food, I also don’t want to blow my budget.

And when looking at my budget, one of my major expenses is Groceries.

And as if I wasn’t already forking over enough money on groceries, now that we’re trying to get healthier, I’m expected to spend even more by buying only organic products, right?

 

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What does organic even mean?

We’ve all been taught that buying organic foods is important. Buying organic can protect you and your family from any pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, toxins, antibiotics and other chemicals  used during the growing practices.

But what does “organic” really mean?

Although what’s considered “organic” varies from country to country, it’s typically required that In order for a food to be considered organic, it must be produced without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), sewage sludge and ionizing radiation.

 

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What does being classified as “organic” require?

Let’s look at a few of the requirements necessary for products to be  considered “certified organic.”

In order for animal products to be classified as organic, the animals cannot take antibiotics or growth hormones, must be fed only organic feed, must spend time outdoors and must have enough space to live comfortably.

Multi-ingredient foods, such as packaged and jarred foods, must contain 95% organic ingredients.

 

 

 

 

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But buying organic can be SO expensive.

Thankfully everything that you put into your cart doesn’t necessarily have to be organic.

There are foods that you should always buy “organic” and other foods you can save money on buying the other stuff.

And thankfully someone else has done this homework for you.

Each year the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization,..working with three organizations—the United States Department of Agriculture, the USDA’s Pesticide Testing Program, and the Food and Drug Administration…conducts tests to determine what are known as the “Clean Fifteen,” a list of the fifteen fruits and vegetables containing the least traces of pesticides, and the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of the twelve fruits and vegetables contain the most. These tests are known as the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

 

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Let’s Go Shopping

Now that we know…thank goodness…that buying organic is not required all across the board…and that someone else has already compiled this list for you, let’s take a look at which items you absolutely should be buying organic and which items you can get by without going organic…so that you can prioritize your shopping and still have the peace of mind that you’re limiting your family’s pesticide exposure…. hopefully saving us all some green when buying our greens.

Great Advice for Buying Grapes — February 3, 2020

Great Advice for Buying Grapes

When shopping for grapes, there are three questions that you should ask yourself…

  • 1.  Are the grapes organic?
  • 2.  Are the grapes fully ripe? How can I tell?
  • 3.  What color are the grapes? What’s the difference?

 

 

 

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1.  Are the grapes organic?

One of my goals in adopting a healthier lifestyle and learning how to take care of my newly-diagnosed type 2 diabetic husband is has been to stop eating so much processed foods…

I am slowly realizing that paying the little bit more for organic produce is almost like paying for a more premium grade of gas whenever at the gas pump…you may not be able to tell the difference now…but once the differences start showing up, oh my, my!!!

Buying organic foods lessen your likelihood of exposure to contaminants—such as pesticides and heavy metals.

When shopping for produce and other products that are organic, look for the USDA organic logo.

 

 

 

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2.  Are the grapes fully ripe? How can I tell?

Fully ripened grapes taste the best and have the highest concentration of antioxidants. You can tell if grapes are fully ripe or not by checking to see if the grapes are…

  • firmly attached to a healthy looking stem
  • free from wrinkles
  • intact
  • not leaking juice
  • plump

 

 

 

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3.  What color are the grapes? What’s the difference?

The color of the grape is important for two reasons—first of all, the taste…and then, the antioxidant content.

As far as taste,

  • blue-black grapes are the least sweet…these grapes should be deep and rich in color
  • green grapes are medium sweet…look for green grapes that have a slight yellowish hue
  • red grapes are very sweet…these grapes should be mostly red
  • As far as antioxidants, choose red grapes.

Be sure that the area around the attachment is the same color as the rest of the grape.

 

Fish…The What — January 19, 2020

Fish…The What

  1. Fish is another food high in antioxidants and other nutritional value, but it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed at the fish counter.

    You want to buy the tastiest, healthiest, and most sustainable choice…but truth is, they all look the same to the normal grocery shopper, right?!

    First we’re going to take a look at the types of fish typically found in a large grocery store.

    Then we’re going to look at the nutritional value of fish.

    And finally some recipes to make with each option…

    So let’s get started…

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    Catfish
    Being from Mississippi, I grew up eating catfish at least twice a month…since most of the catfish sold in the United States are farmed in the Mississippi Delta.
    But this was typically “wild” catfish, which often has a more muddy and stronger flavor than farmed catfish.
    Best for…sautéing or frying

     

     

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    Cod

    Cod has a mild flavor, making it great for a variety of cooking methods—such as sautéing, poaching, steaming, and baking.

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    Haddock
    Haddock…firm, mild flesh that is especially popular in Scotland….and is best for frying and deep frying—(fish n chips, go figure)…

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Halibut

Halibut is typically cut into filets that are firm, meaty, and mild with a low fat content….best for baking.

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Salmon

There are two different types of salmon—Atlantic and Pacific. You will usually find Atlantic salmon at your local grocery store because it is farmed and is available year-round. Atlantic salmon has a meaty texture and mild flavor that is best for grilling, roasting, or broiling.

Pacific salmon—such as sockeye or king salmon—are caught in the wild….making fresh Pacific salmon only available between late spring and early fall (although frozen can be found year-round). Pacific salmon has a stronger flavor than Atlantic salmon and is best for grilling, broiling, or roasting.

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Snapper

Typically you will only find red snapper when you are shopping for snapper…even though there are many different types of snapper that have not been recognized by the FDA.

Snapper can be served either whole or as filets. Be careful when ordering snapper at a restaurant, it will probably be served tail and perhaps head in tow.

Snapper is best for roasting or grilling.

 

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Swordfish

Fresh swordfish is available fresh and typically sold in steaks. It has a slightly sweet flavor and meaty texture that is best for grilling.

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Tilapia

Tilapia has an oily texture and muddy flavor that is bland enough that even those who hate the taste of fish can endure.

Tilapia is best for baking, braising, or poaching.

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Tuna

Most of us have been eating canned tuna since we were born…so I really don’t feel a need to elaborate here.

But it was only recently that I cooked a tuna steak…and man, oh man…ditch the can…

Tuna steaks are typically cooked by either grilling or pan frying.