Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Survival Gardening

Are you Texas ReadyAccording to The Seed Lady, Lucinda Bailey, being Texas Ready is the Texas model of freedom, capitalism, integrity, independence, self-sufficiency, preparedness and civic responsibility.

Texas Ready is a company that sells seed vaults.  Each vault comes with over 80 different varieties of seeds to feed a specific number of people.  So no matter if you are just two people living in an apartment, or you are a neighborhood starting a community gardening plot, they have something for you.  Not only is their variety so wide, but they also customize the seeds for your region, add seeds for fall back crops in case of crop failure, and the vault is an ammo box so the seeds are safe from light, water and vermin/pests!  Pretty great.

I actually like this concept of survival gardening (gardening to provide for your family in economic failure), but that is not why I like this company so much.  The 'survival gardening' portion is just an added bonus for me.  Due to the specific dietary needs in my family, growing our own food is just a good, smart, money saving idea. 

The seeds purchased in your local store may or may not be suitable for your region, and most likely can not be harvested for planting in future years due to being hybrids.  Most store chains purchase on a national buying market so the seeds in their New York store are the same seeds in their Texas store.  Humm?  These two places have very different growing environments.

The seeds provided by Texas Ready are regionally based, and there are a LOT of seeds.  Added bonus, this company considers them self as a one-time-purchase product because you can harvest the seeds from the plants you grow each year for sustained seed and growing potential!  Of coarse, they also have books and resources available, and some of the vaults even come with these resources.

Check them out, you might find that you want to be a survival gardener too!

This YouTube video is just a WONDERFUL yet small taste of survival gardening.  This is taken at an expo, so the sound quality is poor.

This video is a little more refined and clear to understand.  There is different information in each video, so if you have the time watch both, or watch all of her videos...there are a lot of them.

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Old and New Nutrition Love - Juicing!

As a kid I remember my parents buying this huge clunky juicer, a big back of carrots, a big bag of apples and us drinking fresh juice.  It tasted great, was healthy and was fun.  I loved it, after all, what was not to like.  I remember mixing and matching fruits and making my favorite, green grapes and apples, a lot. 

Actually, if I remember correctly, a lot of our church really got into juicing at that time and a few of the adults drank only carrot juice and their skin began to turn orange.  Seriously, I'm not joking...they were ORANGE!  If you are reading this, you know who you are.

But now that my family and I are juicing again I can see how someone may have turned orange.  It is a good way.  Once you start juicing you begin to crave more and more of it.  Just don't drink all carrots all the time and you will be OK; at least you won't turn orange.

Juicing has come a long way since then.  With the Internet, e-books and health consciousness we now know that juicing is a wonderful art that can lead a person into extremely wonderful health, plus it tastes good.  Some juice blends have the ability to give sustained energy throughout the entire day...bye, bye coffee.

A few juicing tips:

  • Juice vegetables

  • Only juice fruit on occasion.  Rather, eat your fruit.  The fiber helps to regulate your blood sugar so you won't store fat.

  • You can juice some apple or pear with your veggies to give it a sweetness.

  • A little lemon in the veggie juice cuts bitter taste.

  • Carrots are good for your eyes.

  • Beets are good to cleanse the blood and good for the heart. (by the way, beet tops are tender and sweet.  Great in a salad if you don't juice them.)

  • Green juices are amazing for sustained energy and for juice cleanses. 

  • I love kale.  Just a few leaves in my juice and my 20/10 eyesight gets even better!  All Day Long!  Seriously. Sharp. Vision.

  • Use organic produce only (you don't want to juice herbicides and pesticides)

  • If you plan to do a juice fast get the facts.  I like the Alpha Reset program.
A few juicing recipes:
(These recipes come from Fitlife.TV and Rawfully Organic)

  • Lower Cholesterol

    1.       Thumb size slice of ginger

    2.       1 apple

    3.       3 carrots

  • Morning ‘Coffee’ Replaces your morning coffee as Energy Drink and alertness.
    1. Handful Parsley

    2. 5 Carrots

  • Green Gulp (Yummm!  I love this one, but usually add carrots, spinach and celery)
    1. 3 Kale leaves

    2. 1 Granny Smith Apple

    3. 1 Cucumber

    4. 1 lemon

    5. 1 inch ginger
  • Detox Juice (great for fasting)

    1. Handful parsley

    2. Handful cilantro

    3. 2 carrots

    4. 1 apple w/out seeds

    5. 3 celery ribs

    6. 1/2 beet with green tops

    7. 1 inch ginger (or less until you get use to the kick!)
I literally have dozens and dozens of more juice recipes.  I have enjoyed all of the ones I have tasted. 

By-the-way, there is NO COMPARISON to the taste of fresh juice vs. the store bought juice.  With fresh juice you get all of the vitamins and nutrients since there was no shelf life.  The store bought stuff is glorified sugar water that has lost all of it's nutrients, that is why they ADD vitamins and nutrients to it!  Food for thought.

So get out there and start small if you need to.  You may just find that you too have a new love of juice.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Change the World? Reach our Kids!

Our kids are the future.  Seriously, how long before you and I are gone and our kids are the Presidents, Governors, FDA leaders, teachers, police and firemen?  The fastest and most sure way to make 'change' happen is by teaching our kids from a young age so that it becomes a lifestyle.

For instance, our family is into exercise, eating healthy, gardening (again soon), juicing, essential oils, home birth, God, reading the Bible, church, family, relationships, nature, fishing and the list just goes on and on.  If we start teaching and talking to our kiddos about these things at a very young age so that it is second nature to them then hopefully they will teach their friends, future spouse, kids and the chain goes on.

My kiddos already know which essential oils to use under several circumstances.  When they get a bump or bruise they immediately ask for lavender.  If they sneeze or cough they ask for RC.  If they know they are going somewhere that germs spread like wildfire they ask for Thieves.  Sure, we keep teaching and telling them for further learning and reinforcement, but they already get it and know it and use it!

The same goes for our food.  Mackenzie (my 4-year old) almost always asks if an item is all natural or organic.  She also asks about ingredients and food color (she can not tolerate artificial food color).  So she is learning now, and has a basic understanding of what we should and should not put into our bodies.  She even goes so far as to teach her little brother.

A big thing I hear from Mom's and Dad's is that their kids don't like good food; all they will eat is junk.  I feel that one of the easiest and biggest ways to get kids to know about healthy eating as a lifestyle (not diets, not fads) is to get them involved.  (And get the junk out of the house.  Out of sight, out of mind....eventually out of mind.  Hey, a few missed snacks or meals won't hurt them, they will eat what you give them if they have no other choice.)

One way to do this is to let them help you make breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks.  Give them age appropriate tasks under supervision.  My daughter loves to hand shred the lettuce and greens for a salad.  She also enjoys mixing dishes that require a good stir.  My son (age 2) loves to peel soft skin off oranges or bananas for lunch or snack.  Both of the kids like to help me make fresh juice with the juicer by taking turns putting the produce into the juicer and watching the liquid gold come out!  See, it can be just that easy and fun to begin building the foundations of a healthy life at a young age. 

Recently I had an easy learning experience with the kiddos when we bought old fashioned (organic) popping corn kernels.  We needed a snack so I decided to pop the corn the old fashioned way...on the stove top.  They loved it.  While I was popping the corn I explained to them the health benefits of NOT using prepackaged popping corn because of some of the hidden ingredients, and showed them how we can flavor our own corn to fit whatever craving we were having.  Oh, and when I pop corn this way ALL the kernels pop!  So as parents we have to look for opportunities in our every day lives to teach our kids.  Even if they act like they are not listening, guess what?  They are.

If you want to dig even further to help your kids like healthy food then try your hand at gardening.  It doesn't have to be a big, full sized garden, but just a few herbs and tomatoes.  I have found that cucumbers and peas are easy to grow, start with that.  Kids love to watch the seed grow into big plants, flowers start to set, bees pollinate, ladybugs do their thing, fruit begin to set, grow and harvest.  It intrigues them and they learn a lot.  Then when it is time to eat they get really excited that they grew the food them self and they actually want to eat it, and want you to eat it too.  If you want information on how to do a garden in a small space I recommend the book All New Square Foot Gardening.

My Old Garden

Zucchini Flowering
My little tomatoes

Anyway, whatever you are hoping your kids will do in the future, or maybe the dreams you have for generations to come, begin small with the little people in your life.  The time will be well invested, and you just may have some fun along the way!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


A lot of my posts have had a negative undertone lately, so let's lighten things up a bit and talk about Soursop :)  Huh?  What is that?  Good question!

Soursop is a very powerfully healthy fruit.  I have yet to try one as I seem unable to find it anywhere, but rest assured that when I do spot some soursop I will be giving it a try!

The taste of this fruit is described as a combination of pineapple, strawberry and citrus fruit flavors with the creamy touch of banana or coconut.  It can be eaten raw or juiced. 

Unfortunately I can not grow soursop here in the good 'ole USofA unless I live in Florida or Hawaii.  This fruit loves humid, hot and dry conditions, and even the slightest drop in temperatures can kill the tree.

The real wow factor?  Apparently this fruit has a wonderful ability to kill cancer!?!?!  For more on that click here.  Since I have no personal knowledge of this I will just leave it to the article to explain.  So go find some soursop and enjoy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

What Are Natural Flavors?

Oi, what are Natural Flavors?  I don't know, but they are not always so very natural!  Here is a link to Today Food, a branch of NBC News that explains natural flavors.  Is it still confusing after reading that article?  Then let us go a little deeper, but not too deep; otherwise I might not be able to follow my own blog post.  You can check out Wickipedia that may further your understanding, or not.

One confusion is that you will see both artificial flavors and natural flavors listed on conventional processed food labels, but you will also see natural flavors listed on All Natural and Organic food labels?!?!!?  The only difference is that in All Natural foods the base that the Natural Flavor is mixed in has to be from a natural source (the flavor itself is probably not natural), and in Organic foods the base that the Natural Flavor is mixed in and the method of extraction must be organic (the actual flavor itself is probably not organic or natural.).  Natural Flavors are allowed in 'All Natural' and 'Organic' foods, so beware and read your labels!

According to the US Code of Federal Regulations*, a natural flavor or flavoring is:
…the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.
Here is what I do know.  Natural flavors are created by scientists called flavorists that produce these flavors in laboratories (not kitchens) using natural and chemical compounds.  The reason these flavors are lumped into one ingredient called natural flavors is because there are too many ingredients to list, and even if they were listed we would not know what they are.  If you want true blueberry flavor then purchase an item with blueberry listed as the ingredient instead of natural or artificial blueberry flavor!

Photo from

Both natural and artificial flavors are created in the same factories and most artificial flavors are made from petroleum products/byproducts, so cross contamination is possible.

Some artificial flavors are safer than their natural counterparts. Benzaldehyde is almond flavor, and when derived from nature, traces of hydrogen cyanide--a deadly poison--can be found in it.  Also, Vanillan, artificial vanilla, can cause allergic reactions. It can limit the liver enzyme dopamine sulphotransferase by 50%. Its sources are the waste product of paper mills and petroleum. It can be very difficult to know which is better: artificial or natural. It is hard to find a list of all flavorings to research them all. It is thus best to avoid flavorings in general. (yahoo)  Yikes!!!

For some more information here is a great article from Natural News.

Vegetarians Beware: Natural Flavors can be derived from meat, seafood, poultry, eggs and dairy products.  If you are not purchasing an approved vegetarian product but just 'think' it is vegetarian from reading the ingredient label and Natural Flavors is in the ingredient list you may be eating animal byproduct!

I was unable to find a list of natural flavors :(  So I guess the long and short of it is that natural flavors are not so natural after all, but rather just made to taste 'natural'!  And not necessarily organic either.  Read labels and put it back if you are unsure to what you are purchasing.  I know for a fact that many options are out there without natural flavors in them, you just have to be willing to read a lot of labels to find the brand you are comfortable eating!

*In order to read the regulations for flavorings – you need to go to the US CFR site, and search for the term “natural flavor”. The first document returned will have the appropriate information.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What is a GMO?

What is a GMO?  I've never heard of that.  I'm eating it?  It's in my food?  Oh, it IS my food!  Hummmm?  Is it good?  Is it bad? 

Those are the questions and comments I hear from people.  I had heard of GMO's years ago and knew about all the research going into them, but somehow I was acutely unaware that we were already eating them!  Actually, I didn't realize we were eating them until a few years ago (and was outraged).  Thus began my research.

Before we begin I want to tell you a true story.  When I was 15 years old (around 1995/1996) I began having severe stomach aches.  So bad, in fact, that at school they would let me go lay down in the hall during class until the tummy ache passed.  The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong because I ate a really healthy diet and didn't have any other symptoms.  All my blood work and tests came back perfect.  These tummy aches were not continual and only seemed to last about an hour (or less) at a time, but they would come on suddenly and leave just as mysteriously.  Most of the time I had them in the early afternoon shortly after lunch or in the evenings just after dinner.  Was there a common thread?  Looking back I would say YES, although at the time the food log I kept did not show a theme.  What do I think the theme was?  GMO's.  Come to find out that GM soy beans, canola oil, corn, potatoes and cotton were introduced to the public in 1995 (without labels or differentiation)...the same year I began having tummy aches!  Our family has been heavily organic for over a year now, and my tummy aches disappeared (we are also a GMO-free home).  Yup, that's my true story.

Now on to what a GMO is.  GMO stands for genetically modified organism.  This is not a hybrid, grafted or cross pollinated seed/plant, but rather it is a seed whose DNA had been changed using science.  Sort of like a Frankenseed.  Wikippedia's definition of a GMO is: A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. 

Photo from EcoChild's Play

For GMO food's the main purpose is to allow the foods to withstand more and more pesticides and herbicides, or to allow the plant (as in corn) to produce it's own pesticide so that when an insect ingests the food it's stomach ruptures!  (Yikes, maybe that explains my old tummy aches)

Image from

Because these crops kill so many insects not just from ingestion, but simply by flying around the crops in 2006, there was a sudden, mysterious disappearance of honey bees in the United States, Europe and Brazil, and was a reminder of the quote attributed to Albert Einstein, and a wake-up call for mankind.  After all, Albert Einstein said, "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live"? (info from Benefits of honey).  Now Monsanto is reportedly trying to engineer a honey bee that can withstand and survive their GM crops.   For more information on the bees you can check out Natural News or Natural Society
Image from here
Guess what?  As of 2012 there were no approved GM animals, but by the end of 2012 GM Salmon was close to being FDA approved for human consumption.  To help stop GMO Salmon for consumption go here.

What do I do?  Well, to avoid GMO's eat Organic or Non-GMO verified products.  Or, grow some of your own food.  Avoid conventional foods that contain any of the following ingredients that may or may not be GMO (you can find out from calling manufacturers, but if they will not tell you then it is most likely GMO) unless organic or Non-GMO verified: (I underlined ingredients you will see a lot.  Remember, fresh foods fruit/veggies do not contain these ingredients; only processed foods.  If you see these ingredients go for the organic or Non-GMO verified alternative.  Also, added vitamins may sound good, but if they are added they are man made, not naturally occurring.  It may be more expensive, but can you put a price on your health?)

Possible GMO Ingredients:
  • Aspartame (aminosweet, nutrasweet, Equal Spoonful, Canderel, Benevia, E951), Baking Powder, Canola Oil (rapeseed oil), Caramel Color, Citric Acid, Colorose, Condensed Milk, Confectioners Sugar, Corn Flour, Corn Masa, Corn Meal, Corn oil, Corn sugar, Corn syrup, Corn starch, Cottonseed oil, Cyclodextrin, Cystein, Dextrin, Dextrose, Diacetyl, Diglyceride, Erythritol, Equal, Food starch, Fructose, Glucose, Glutamate, Glutamic Acid, Glycerides, Glycerin, Glycerol, Glycerol Monooleate, Glycine, Hemicellulose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Starch, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Inositol, Inverse syrup, Inversol, Invert Sugar, Isoflavones, Lactic acid, Lecithin, Leucine, Lysine, Malitol, Malt, Malt Syrup, Malt Extract, Maltodextrin, Maltose, Mannitol, Methylcellulose, Milk Powder, Milo starch, Modified Food Starch, Modified Tarch, Mono and Diglycerides, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Natural Flavor, Nutrasweet, Oleic acid, Phenylalanine, Phytic Acid, Shoyu, Sorbitol, Soy flour, soy isolates, soy lecthin, soy milk,soy oil, soy protein, soy protein isolate, soy sauce, starch, steric acid, sugar (unless specified as cane sugar), sweet corn, tamari, tempeh, Teriyaki marinades, textured vegetable protein, threonine, tocopherols (vitamin E), Tofu, Trehalose, Triglyceride, Vegetable fat, Vegetable oil, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Whey, Whey Powder, Xanthan Gum  (Source

I have my own feelings about the companies creating GMO products for the demise of the human race, or maybe just because they love the almighty $, but I am not going to list company names here. This is not a finger pointing blog post (although it may seem like it), but rather a place to help people be informed. If you want to know who is behind the creating of GMO's, and WHY I suggest you do some basic research yourself.

What does all of this have to do with my blog name of 'Gifts From Heave'?  I believe that God has given us the tools we need to live a full, abundant and healthy life while we are here on earth.  The tools to be spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically healthy.  One of those tools is in the food He has provided us.  Untainted and natural food from the ground (without the aid of human inventions to help in His process).  I believe His food is a gift to us!  So enjoy it in it's healthy and living form.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our Foods and Drugs

As most of my readers know I am really excited and passionate about our bodies.  I truly enjoy learning about food, drugs, homeopathic alternatives, nutrition, exercise and the like.  Actually, in school and college the classes I thrived in were the sciences; especially medical and biological sciences. 

Over the past year I have been learning at what seems like a rapid rate of speed when it comes to what our food IS and what our food SHOULD BE, so many (if not all) of my blog posts have been about either positive nutrition or negative additives from the food industry.  I have learned so much that it would be difficult to sit and write anything short of a book on these subjects, so I attempt to pass along information in bite sized pieces here on my blog.  I am not the best writer, and I am sure I have offended some of my readers (not my intention) in the process.  I just want everyone to glean something from this vast and exciting knowledge I am obtaining.

Yesterday (thanks to a friend) I had the privilege to watch a full length film on many of the topics I have been writing about and learning about.  Is is a documentary about a boy that goes in search for a cure for cancer and looking for hope.  The film is The Beautiful Truth, and it is FULL of truth(s) that I believe all of us should know and learn.  The boy in this film is searching for an answer for the cure to cancer, but this film in NOT just for those fighting cancer.  It is for anyone with health issues or that wants to prevent futrue health issues.  In my opinion it is about how to be the healthiest You that You can be.  It is disturbing yet very exciting to be empowered.  I double dog dare you to sit down and watch this film.

This is the trailer for the movie.

I have to be honest, this is a difficult film to watch!  It is shocking and disturbing what is not only allowed to be put into our bodies, but what is encouraged.  This film goes outside the norm of just food additives, but also talks about mercury dental fillings and other aspects of health. 

I would encourage anyone that is in search of a healthier lifestyle to set aside their preconceived notions and to sit down and watch this movie.  If you are in search of health I REALLY recommend this movie.  If you are just curious, I recommend this movie.  Realize, though, that after watching this you will not be the same! 

Watch on YouTube here.  The YouTube version has commercial added in that you can skip 5 seconds after they start to resume the film.

Or you can order on Netflix for an un-interrupted version.

Leave your comments below and let me know what you think about the film and everything else.  Post questions also...I may do a blog post trying to answer your question.

*The opinions in this blog post are solely mine and this is not a paid review.  I am not promoting any industry listed here in.*

Friday, January 11, 2013

How to Read Food Labels

Reading food labels can be tricky.  I know that when I first started reading them I would read the ingredients and say to myself, "I just read that, now what?"  Then I would put the item in my cart and take it home and eat it!  I simply did not understand what I was reading.  Now I am much better at reading those labels and my hubby is even better at it than I am.  So I thought I would pass on some general knowledge I have obtained to help make your grocery shopping experience a little easier.

Before I begin the 'list' of ingredients and what they actually are, let me say that Less is More.  On any ingredient list the fewer ingredients that are listed the 'better' that product is gong to be.  10 ingredients or less is a good rule of thumb, and you must not only be able to read and pronounce those ingredients, but you must also recognize and know what those ingredients are.  I might be able to pronounce Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG), but what is that?  If you can make it at home with the same ingredients listed you are probably in pretty good shape.  If you can not make it at home because...what is that?  Then you should probably just walk away, or RUN away.

What Good things to look for:
  • Organic and All Natural (these can still have questionable ingredients, but you will find that these are much better and easier to read)
  • Short Ingredient List
  • Actual food items on the ingredient list
    • Strawberries, not artificial strawberry flavor
    • Pure sugar cane, not high fructose corn syrup
    • Whole wheat flour, not enriched bleached white flour
  • Sugar should be one of the last items on the list (not one of the first items)
  • Realize that items are listed in the order used from most to least.  So if sugar is listed first that is the main ingredient, but if it is listed last then it is used sparingly.
    • First ingredient = main ingredient
    • Last ingredient = least used ingredient
  • Certified Organic
  • Non-GMO Verified
  • Natural colors with the source listed. IE: beta carotene for color.  Good, an orange color from carrots!
What to Avoid:
Read my last post on How to Eat Clean(er) to see what things we specifically avoid.  I am not going to rehash all of those items here, but rather am going to focus on the actual reading of the label.
  • Anything followed by a number.  Ingredients followed by a number are typically man made ingredients that are not food derived, but rather are food additives.  That does not mean that they are made from food, it means they are added to food.  Most numbered ingredients are derived from petroleum (IE: gasoline or coal tar run off).  Examples:
    • Red 40
    • Polysorbate 80
    • Yellow 5
  • Anything Bleached. How do they bleach a product/ingredient?  Well, with bleach of coarse!  Yikes!! Would you eat bleach?  If you would not then don't eat bleached ingredients.
    • Bleached white flour
    • Bleached wheat flour
    • Bleached sugar
  • Words you can not pronounce or understand. 
    • Most ingredients that are not plain English are man made chemicals.  Why are chemicals in our food instead of food in our food?  Well, that is another post, but in short these chemicals lengthen shelf life and make foods addictive so we keep buying them. 
  • Artificial Colors.  Many artificial colors have a number listed behind them, but they can also have great names making them sound good (like blue lake).  These are made from petroleum run off.
    • Brilliant Blue
    • Sunset Yellow
    • Indigotine
    • Tartarzine
    • And the list just keeps on going.  For more information click here.
  • Artificial Flavors.  Artificial flavors are not made from food.  They are actually man made chemical compounds made to taste like food.  For example, many strawberry flavored oatmeal's do not have strawberries in them.  Instead they have bits of apple in them dyed red and flavored to taste like strawberry.  These flavors are shelf stable and last a looooong time, they are also addictive.  They can also cause an whole array of problems.
  • Natural Flavors.  Now this one sounds promising until you find out that these are labeled 'natural flavors' not because they are derived from natural sources, but because they taste like flavors found in nature.  These are basically the same as artificial flavors but have been allowed to be labeled this way to mimic nature.  If it was a real food flavor they would just list the natural ingredient such as apple or raspberry.  If it is hidden behind a word then it is most likely not natural.
  • Spices.  Spices are good....right?  Hummm.  Yes, real spices are good.  We love garlic, cinnamon, ginger and the like, but the word spices on your food label is typically not a real spice!  Just like natural flavors, spices are typically man made chemicals created to taste like natural spices.  Mostly used for their addictive properties.  MSG is often left off an ingredient list because they hide it under the word spices.  If it is a real spice they will list it on the label.  Ginger is easy to list.  A chain of chemical compounds is not easy to list, so let's hide it.
  • Artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oils.  I won't go into this again, but these are awful!
    • Sucrose
    • Fructose
    • High fructose corn syrup
    • partially hydrogenated soy bean oil
    • Splenda
    • And the list just keeps on going.  Just look for cane sugar and get rid of all others for the sweet factor.  And look for clean oils and butters...nothing with the word hydrogenated in it at all!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How to Eat Clean(er)

Happy New Year!

I realize I have been absent from the blog for a while, and probably will be again after this post, but we have been busy around here.  Hopefully, soon, I will have a series of posts for you that are not nutritionally based, but for now you will just have to endure yet ANOTHER post on nutrition.  This one is not so bad, but rather talks about how to eat a clean diet (or a cleaner diet).

What is a clean diet?  A diet of foods that are easy for your body to digest and process, to gain nutritional value from, and that won't fill you up with 'fake' fillers and toxins.  Actually, this diet will help your body to eliminate the natural toxins you come in contact with on a daily basis.  Basically, a diet that will help you look and feel great!  I am sure this looks different for everyone, so don't do what we do, but instead do what you feel convicted to do; or do what makes you excited about your own body and future lifestyle.

One big mistake people make is to try and change everything all at once.  The task then becomes daunting and overwhelming, thus ending in failure after only a few short months, or days, or the next time you go grocery shopping.  My suggestion is to take ONE task at a time and attack it.  Then once that is a part of your lifestyle without you even having to think about it can you move on to the 'next task'.

Once you have changed several items in your diet (or lifestyle) you will find that the other changes come naturally and easily.  For example, if someone had told me to go gluten-free a year ago it would have seemed insurmountable, but now that our family diet has taken on a new direction over the past year we actually eat very few items with gluten (that's without trying) so now, going gluten free would be relatively easy!

What to Avoid:

There are a few things that we avoid like the plague.  Why?  Well, because they could cause the plague!  Seriously!  Maybe not today, but down the road somewhere.  If you are trying to change your eating lifestyle start with eliminating one of these.  Once you have mastered that add another and another until you no longer have these items in your diet.
  • Artificial food color (if you have not read my previous posts about this go back and read them here) - in almost all fast food, and in almost all items at Sonic :(
  • MSG - hidden in sauces, rubs, dressings, meats, and fast foods like Chick-fil-A
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup - hidden is all types of things like bread.
  • Hydrogenated Oils of any kind
  • GMO products of any kind that are not Organic or Non-GMO Verified - corn, soy, canola, cotton and now salmon (Purchase wild caught salmon only)
  • Non-Organic Dairy products
  • Overly processed foods - OK, yes, we do still have packaged and processed foods in our home, but we minimize those.  We basically stay away from all cereals and most chips.  We do keep some heavily processed items on occasion (like granola bars or lentil chips), but we make sure the are all natural and/or organic.
  • Sodas and store bought juice.  Store bought juices are not particularly harmful per-se', but they are basically just sugar water considering all the natural photo-nutrients have been lost by the time the drink reaches your grocery cart.  If you do purchase juice make sure it is organic.  We choose to juice our own juices at home with a juicer and use very minimal fruit for that leaning heavily on the vegetable.
What to Consume:
  • Lots of water!  Half your body weight in ounces every day.  If you weigh 100 lbs then you would consume 50 oz of water daily.
  • Fresh juiced veggies or green smoothies.  Lots of Kale :)
  • Lots of Fresh, raw, organic fruits and veggies.  Yup, as much as you want.  Why organic?  Because non-organic has been doused with herbicides, pesticides and possibly artificial food colors.  Here is a great co-op in the Houston area with a lot of resources.
  • Whole wheat grains, brown rice, quinoa, gluten free products. (if you choose to consume grains)
  • Organic dairy (if you choose to consume dairy)
  • Lentils/beans
  • Fresh, natural, organic meats
  • Wild caught fish
  • Clean oils, ghee, butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil
  • Double check for organic and non-GMO verified products.
Tips & Tricks:
Make homemade snacks, dips, and meals.  This is relatively easy and has a tremendous nutritional and cost savings. 
  • Granola - get rolled oats in bulk and make your own granola and granola bars.  Bake with a little honey, spices and 'extras' to customize.  Yummm!
  • Fresh cut fruits and veggies
  • Hummus
  • Dressings
  • Pop popcorn the old fashioned way...on the stove top.  This is not only cheaper, but healthier. (The bagged stuff has hidden ingredients like BPA and MSG.  You can get organic popping corn that in Non-GMO verified and use coconut oil for popping).  Plus you can add your own spices for flavor variety.
  • Juice your own juice and drink fresh!  Use veggies MORE than fruit!
  • Eat a TON of fruit.  As much as you want.  Experiment with fruits you would normally pass by in the grocery store.  Shop at local farmers markets, co-ops and grow some of your own!
  • Use extra virgin and organic coconut oil and olive oil.
  • Check out 100 Days of Real Food, Rawfully Organic, Food Babe and Juicing Vegetables for more tips and information.
Do A Cleanse:
This one is a little more complicated, but there are various types of cleanses a person can do for health.  One of the cleanses or fasts that I like is a short 3-5 day juice fast (with approval from your health care provider if you have health issues).  Or some people prefer a raw food and water fast where they eat only raw fruits and veggies for a specific amount of time.  Juicing Vegetables/Fit life TV has great tips.
  • Juice fast
  • Juice cleanse/detox
  • Raw food Fast
  • Liquid only fast
  • No meat fast
  • No bread fast
  • No dairy fast
I personally avoid some of these and just stick to raw foods, green smoothies and juice type cleanses.  I really like specific cleanses like a liver, kidney or parasite cleanse... Google these and see what you find.  Also check out YouTube and join forums on FaceBook.

Well, I hope this information helped you out.  It has helped our family and we do all of these now (except for being gluten free, but we will be trying that soon also!)