When and Why To Buy Organic

This is a great article from the Huffington post on which foods you should always buy organic. Eating healthy is not cheap. But these are the top food you need to spend those extra dollars on.  Save the non-organic for items like melons and oranges that you will remove the outter skin before consuming. Eliminating chemicals from your diet is a must when eating healthy.

7 Best Foods to Buy Organic

By Caroline Young

While it may seem like the organic food movement became popular over the past two decades, it is actually a much older concept. Everyone ate organic fruits and veggies before World War II, because all crops were organic. It was after that when many farmers started “conventionally” growing crops: spraying them with new, synthetic pesticides and chemicals to reduce weeds, insects and rodents. Now many of us enter the produce section with some confusion, as we are offered every fruit and veggie grown in two very different ways.

What’s the Difference Between Conventional and Organic Foods?

Conventional foods differ from organics in several ways, including the use of chemical versus natural fertilizers (i.e., compost) to feed soil and plants. Conventional farmers also use synthetic herbicides to manage weeds, while organic farmers use environmentally generated plant-killing compounds. Therefore, organic produce has significantly fewer pesticide residues than conventional produce.

The USDA organic regulations also ban the use of food additives, processing aids, and fortifying agents found in conventional foods, like artificial sweeteners and coloring, preservatives and monosodium glutamate.

Global organic food sales have skyrocketed from a total of $1 billion in 1990 to $29 billion by 2011. However, those numbers only represent about 4.2 percent of all food sold in the U.S. during this time period. And as more and more people buy organic foods for their health benefits, these foods often get a bad rap for higher costs.

In the conversation over benefit vs. price, some studies reveal doubt around organic foods truly having significantly higher nutritional benefits than conventional foods. Despite the skeptics, there is a rising agreement in the scientific community that small amounts of pesticides and other chemicals have negative effects on health. Pregnant women and mothers should especially be aware because studies show fetuses and young children may be more negatively affected by harmful exposure to low levels of pesticides.

1) Potatoes

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When deciding which foods to buy organic, potatoes are a must. Most conventionally-grown have one of the highest pesticide contents among fruits and veggies. The USDA discovered 81 percent of potatoes tested in 2006 contained pesticides even after being washed and peeled.

2) Beef

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When animals are conventionally raised, they are fed growth hormones and medications to fight disease and speed growth, which inevitably end up in our hamburgers and our bodies. The hormones push cows’ estrogen and testosterone levels unnaturally high. In turn, those hormones can possibly have strong effects on our natural body processes. The European Union actually banned all hormones in beef. On the other hand, organic farmers try to match the natural behavior of animals and permit access to the outdoors. To reduce diseases, organic farmers take measures like rotational grazing, clean housing, and organic balanced diets with no animal by products.

3) Milk

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To increase the quantity of milk produced, cows raised conventionally are given rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), which is banned in the European Union and Canada, among others. While there is no solid scientific evidence rBGH can harm us, it may benefit us to drink milk free of rBGH given theAmerican Cancer Society has determined the potential harm to humans is inconclusive and rBGH can cause adverse health effects in cows.

4) Apples

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Apple peel is one of this popular tree fruit’s healthiest parts, offering phytochemicals that can reduce risk of cancer and heart disease. Unfortunately, the peel is where pesticides accumulate, putting apples at the top of the organic foods priority list.

5) Strawberries

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Do you wonder why the conventional strawberries sometimes appear a bit brighter in color than their organic counterparts? It’s because some of them are enhanced with a substance containing thecontaminant fungicide captan. Plus, conventional strawberries with the most pesticides are often the imported ones because pesticide restrictions are not always the same in other countries.

6) Kale and Spinach

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While spinach and kale offer many nutrients with very low calories, they are often sprayed with more than 20 kinds of pesticides before being tossed in our salads and cooked in our omelets. A USDA studyfound 58 pesticide residues are usually contained in spinach.

7) Peaches

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Peaches, while juicy and delicious, are high on the list of tree fruits for being the most susceptible to pesticide residue, and usually contain levels above the legal limits. Contaminants in peaches arefungicides captan and iprodione, which have been linked to cancer.

Going Organic Can Help Our Planet

Production of conventional foods may cost the planet a whole lot more than a few extra bucks at the grocery store. Overtime, pesticides and herbicides used in the harvest of conventional foods contaminate groundwater, promote erosion, and destroy soil structures. Plus, they can threaten the U.S. food supply by contributing to “colony collapse disorder,” or the mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees.

Conventional Produce Is Better Than None

While it is beneficial to our health and planet to buy organic foods as much as possible, it can be hard to dole out the extra cash, especially during slower economic times. If it is just not in the budget, don’t fret. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that advocating for policies to both individual and global health, created a list of produce called the “Clean 15,” which are your safest choices. They have the smallest pesticide load and the safest conventional foods to consume. Some of the foods include mushrooms, pineapple, avocado, asparagus, and sweet potatoes.

Remember, it is important to keep plenty of fruits and veggies as part of a balanced diet, and not to sacrifice the benefits of eating fruits and veggies for the risk of pesticide exposure. Focus on going organic when it fits into your life, especially focusing on the foods you eat most often and high-pesticide foods, including BuiltLean’s top seven.

Blackberry Banana Muffins

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Easy and moist, Blackberry Banana Muffins

IMG_4009Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F
  2. Mix together your eggs, honey, coconut oil, coconut milk, salt and vanilla
  3. Sift together your baking powder and coconut flour and combine with your wet ingredients
  4. Mix your batter well and then fold in your banana and blackberries and mix well until the blackberries continue to get broken into smaller pieces and are spread well throughout
  5. Divide your batter into 11 muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes
  6. EnjoyIMG_4007

Bread Rounds

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These rounds were so easy to make and an amazing hit for a boy that has not had a “real”sandwich in a year!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups (240 g) blanched almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (57 g) yogurt (or coconut milk or other milk) I used coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) unsalted butter, melted (or ghee, coconut oil, or palm shortening)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of toppings such as poppy seeds, sesame seeds (optional)IMG_4201

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C. Line 2 or 3 (depending their size) baking sheets with nonstick baking mats, parchment paper, or other nonstick material.
  2. Place all the ingredients, except any toppings, in a food processor or blender; blend until creamy. Alternatively, you can blend with a mixer or whisk.
  3. Pour 2 tablespoons of batter into pancake-like circles onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each roll. Feel free to make larger rolls by adding another tablespoon or so. If the batter is thick you can spread it around a bit with the back of a spoon.
  4. Sprinkle with your chosen toppings and bake for 15 minutes, or until the rolls brown slightly on top. If you’re making larger rolls, they’ll take a few more minutes to brown and firm up sufficiently. Don’t be afraid to go a little brown with these—that will make them firmer and add a tasty crunch at the edges.
  5. Slide a knife or spatula under each roll and remove to a cooling rack. Let cool completely, seal, and store in the refrigerator for a week or so or in the freezer for a few months.

Makes about 12 small or 6 large rounds

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Paleo Banana Muffins

Banana Muffins Paleo Style

IMG_39334 ripe bananas
4 eggs
1/2 cup nut butter (I used almond)
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. In a blender,  add bananas, eggs, nut butter, coconut oil & vanilla. Blend to combine.
3. Add in dry ingredients and blend that ish in. You may have to help the blender a bit but please do this when it is off. I’d like it if you kept all of your fingers.
4. In a muffin tin lined with cups distribute batter until filled 2/3 way full.  Make 12-14 muffins.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, mine were more like 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
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Fresh Peach Cobbler (paleo)

IMG_3896 Here in Southern Utah it’s PEACH season. 

I happen to have an amazing neighbor that lets me pick my fill. So I had more than enough to spare when it came to making a tasty dessert. I’ve never been one for super sweet treats and it needed to be gluten free as well as egg free. In the end we all loved the final product.

I started with cleaning, pitting and slicing 7-10 large peaches and placing them in a deep pyrex dish. I then squeezed the juice of half a fresh lemon onto the peaches. Next I sprinkled them with cinnamon, and stirred in about 1/3 cup chopped raw pecans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

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Crumb Topping:

!.5 cups almond flour

1/8 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 TBS coconut oil

1/4 cup raw honey

2 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup raw pecans chopped (optional)

Mix everything together. Drop by spoonfuls on top of sliced peaches. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown on top.  I suggest doubling the topping if you are making in a 9×13 pan.  Drizzle chilled coconut milk over top just before serving. ENJOY.

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Banana Blueberry Pancakes

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Banana Blueberry Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour
3 whole eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 small or medium banana
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries (we used fresh)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:

1. Mash banana in a mixing bowl.
2. Add eggs, cinnamon and vanilla.  Mix well.
3. Stir in almond flour.
4. Fold in berries and walnuts.
5. Heat coconut oil in large skillet and spoon pancake batter into skillet.
I have also used this recipe and added diced apples instead of blueberries.IMG_3775
Top with real organic maple syrup!
 Makes 6 pancakes.

Cinnamon Muffin

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If you love cinnamon you will love these moist muffins.

Ingredients:

2.5 cups almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup refrigerated coconut milk (make sure it’s stirred up)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

For the glaze:

1 TBSP cinnamon
2 TBSP pure maple syrup
1 TBSP coconut oil
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a muffin tin with liners. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, coconut milk and syrup. Add to dry ingredients and stir until combined. Pour into muffin tins and drizzle glaze over each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

School Birthday “treats”

A huge concern of mine is all the “treats” or junk my children are offered at school.  In a classroom of 24 kids with 24 birthdays celebrated in 9 months thats 2.7 birthdays a month. Thats blue frosting, high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, preservatives, sugar, and dyes offered to our kids usually without us knowing. It is also 23 celebrations my children cant participate in. Yes, I’m that parent, my kids say “No Thank You” and watch everyone else  consume the dyes and chemicals. So this past year we tried to set an example to show that birthday celebrations do not need to revolve around the consumption of unhealthy treats. I am also trying to change the way our school handles these celebrations and school rewards, by eliminating “food” as treats and turning to prizes or treats that are not food of any sort. Yes, I could have sent fruit or veggies but I was trying to show that we can celebrate without eating something. These are the 3 treats my younger children took this past school year to celebrate their birthdays.

Lucy took jump ropes for each child in her class. She was turning 11 and was in 5th grade. They cost me $1.00 each. We attached a little poem to each one that read:

Hip Hip Hooray,

It’s Lucy’s birthday!

Lets all jump for joy,

because she got you this cool toy!

Thanks for celebrating her day,

now lets go outside and PLAY!

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Charley was turning 9 and in 2nd grade. Charley took pins. These cost me about $.10 each. 

Thank you for making my birthday out of the world.

Thank you for making my birthday ROCK!

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Finnegan was turning 7 and in 1st grade. He gave everyone tubes of glow sticks. Cost $1.00 each.

Thanks for making my birthday CHEERY and BRIGHT!

IMG_3490My Children did not complain that they weren’t taking cupcakes or cookies. They also told me everyone was really excited to have something to take home. Yes we can all complain about the $1 toys and trinkets that clutter our homes but I would much rather have my house  full of clutter than my children full of poisons and chemicals. We may not be able to change how everyone thinks but we can lead by example and show others their are alternatives.

Homemade Granola Bars

Healthy, yummy granola bars

Healthy, yummy granola bars

The perfect on the go snack everyone loves.

INGREDIENTS:
4 cups old fashioned oats (gluten-free if you prefer)
1/3 cup coconut oil*
1 cup raw honey*
4 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups almonds*, chopped (a food processor works great for this)
1/2 cup cocoa nibs* (optional) – These are unsweetened bits of chopped cocoa that contain no sweeteners or other ingredients.
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I actually use 1 1/2 cups of mixed nuts or what ever I have in the house. I also add shredded coconut and chopped dates. 
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place oats on an ungreased 11″ x 17″ rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, stirring every three to four minutes.
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Meanwhile, melt honey and oil together in a medium saucepan over medium heat, being careful not to burn it. Remove pan from heat; and add vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Stir until dissolved.
Add toasted oats to the saucepan mixture and toss to coat evenly. Add chopped almonds and stir. Add cocoa nibs (optional) and stir to combine.
Line a smaller (10″ x 15″) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. (Tip: Sprinkle the sheet with a few drops of water first to help keep the paper in place.) I have found my pampered chef stone bar pan works best.
Transfer batter to this cookie sheet and gently spread to all edges. Once entire sheet is covered, press batter firmly into the pan. You can use a large spatula or your hands for this step. To prevent the batter from sticking to your hands, wet your hands or place a sheet of parchment or wax paper between your hands and the batter before pressing. Pressing them in is key. I use my flexible cutting board under the spatula is the best.
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Bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. The bars are done when they just begin to turn brown at the edges. Don’t wait too long or they may burn. Bars will be moist and crumbly when removed from the oven, but they come together as they cool. (It may take a few attempts for you to figure out the best amount of time in your own oven.)
Let bars cool completely (about 90 minutes on a cooling rack; longer if you don’t have a cooling rack). Transfer bars and parchment paper to a cutting board and cut into 24 bars.
If you like your bars a little firmer and sweeter, store them in the fridge. They also freeze well for later use; and they can be eaten frozen as well if you forget to thaw them out.
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Most granola bars are loaded with corn syrup, soybean oil, coloring and flavoring, and preservatives. These homemade bars are actually good for you and the perfect on the go snack.

Zucchini Gingerbread Muffin

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3 cups grated zucchini (3 medium or 2 large zucchini)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 eggs
½ cup melted coconut oil
¼ cup honey
3 cups almond meal or blanched almond flour
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. baking soda
mix-ins of choice (optional): chopped raw pecans or walnuts, raisins etc. 

Combine all wet ingredients (zucchini through honey) with electric mixer (or if you’re already using food processor, you can do it in there). Add dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in any additional nuts or raisins, if using.

Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 cup full and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

This recipe came from The Preppy Paleo.