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.

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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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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.

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.

Almond Flour Pancakes and Eggs

IMG_1891This week at school was Dr. Seuss week which made for a crazy week for me. Getting up at 5am and getting the kids up just as early to dress up. By the time dinner rolls around I was too tired to think so what a quick easy stand by, breakfast for dinner. Better yet, “green eggs and ham”.  The old me would have added food coloring to turn the eggs green but the new me had to come up with a healthy version.

Green Eggs and Ham

Matt got me this cool silicon bar pan and I hadn’t found anything to bake in it. I decided to make omelet bars.

Ingredients:IMG_3486

10 eggs beaten

5 stripes Applegate  Turkey Bacon chopped up

1/2 cup finely  chopped spinach

salt and pepper

optional: cheese, peppers, onion

Bake for 20-30 minutes on 350

I also found a simple gluten-free pancake recipe that everyone loved. I have tried so many different pancake recipes and this is by far the easiest. I still can not eat them, finding an egg free version has never panned out.

Almond Flour Pancakes

1 3/4 cup blanched almond flour
2 eggs, whisked
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup water
IMG_3478Grass fed butter or coconut oil for frying
Process:
In a small mixing bowl, whisk two eggs.
Pour almond flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Add vanilla extract, and eggs to the bowl.
Mix with a wooden spoon to combine.
Add water, and continue to stir.
Heat 1 tablespoon of grass-fed butter or coconut oil in a large non stick skillet.
Using 1/8 cup, scoop batter into the frying pan, leaving enough space in between pancakes to flip.
Cook 2 minutes on the first side, flip, and cook for a remaining 1-2 minutes. Add additional cooking fat as needed. (It helps to flip pancakes back and forth a bit to ensure they are cooked through.)
Top with your choice of grass-fed butter or coconut oil, and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and serve.

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Zucchini Apple Spice Muffins

Zucchini Apple Spice Muffins
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Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  30 mins
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded (about 1 cup worth)
  • 1 apple (I used gala), shredded (less than ½ cup worth)
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. So you first need to shred your zucchini. Use the shredding attachment on your food processor or take the long and boring route using a cheese grater. Whichever works.
  3. Once your zucchini is shredded, you need to remove the excess liquid. What I did was place a couple paper towels down on the counter, throw the zucchini on top, then place another paper towel on top of the zucchini then squeezed. The more you squeeze, the more liquid will come out. Genius.
  4. Use more paper towels as needed, but be sure to squeeze until the zucchini feels water-less.
  5. Place zucchini in a bowl.
  6. Now shred your apple. I left the skin on the apple and zucchini, but you don’t have to if you’re not a fan.
  7. Toss together your zucchini and apple in your bowl then add the rest of your ingredients and mix well.
  8. Place muffin mix in a greased muffin tin or with muffin liners or silicone muffin liners like I used!
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes of until your toothpick comes out clean after you poke them!
  10. Top with a bit of coconut butter and you got heaven on your hands.
  11. Makes 9 muffins

Valentine (healthy) Treats


heartday

val·en·tine  [val-uhn-tahyn]

 
download (1)valentinesnoun
1. a card or message, usually amatory or sentimental but sometimes satirical or comical, or a token or gift sent by one person to another on Valentine Day, sometimes anonymously.
2. a sweetheart chosen or greeted on this day.
3. a written or other artistic work, message, token, etc., expressing affection for something or someone: His photographic essay is a valentine to Paris.

Valentines day is the biggest candy day of the year! I absolutely cannot stand how every holiday revolves around chemical filled junk. Valentines is about expressing your love and affection for those that mean the most to you. I had to explain to my 15 year old daughter that Valentines is mostly for little kids and their moms finding crafty cute ways so spoil them. For most woman and mostly teenage girls it’s a day of disappointment. That being said how did showing your love for someone become about chocolate, fun dip, and heart shaped pizza? Well because the fact remains  that in America we incorporate food and mostly sugary food into every  social gathering.

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How can you make your kids feel special on Valentines without all the junk? And what do you do about the school party where every Valentine has a sucker or pixi stick taped to it? My kids actually brought home more candy from 3 class parties than the three of them collected trick or treating this past Halloween. Insert face of disappointment here.

Special Lunch of love

For my younger kids I packed them a special Valentines day lunch. This one is for Charley who has lots of food intolerances. He has sweet red peppers cut into hearts, as well as cucumbers and red cherry tomatoes, a pumpkin muffin with a cute Valentines LOVE toothpick, strawberries shaped as hearts, sunflower seeds, an apple that I made by cutting a heart out of a green apple with a cookie cutter and placing it in red apple. I also added a cute little card expressing my love and his little gift of a valentines themed lunch box sized hand sanitizer and the holder he has been asking for.

20130217-234815.jpgLucys lunch was a bit different with a sandwich cut with a larger heart cookie cutter, and little watermelon hearts. I also gave her yogurt with fresh strawberries and raspberries in it. Any red or pink fruit and veggie shaped like a heart makes them happy. Try cutting homemade fruit leather in to hearts.

Teacher need love too

IMG_1661Our teachers Valentines were simple and quick. Again we shared a healthily snack and gave them apples that had the message: “you are the apple of my eye” . A friend shared the idea from Pinterest. They had a “plum perfect”  “bananas for you” and “pear”-fact” all very cute ideas! I also received one from a sweet preschooler that said “you’re a’cutie'” can you guess what fruit that was?

Classroom Idea

For my class party at my preschool I had each child bring a piece of fruit to create a “friendship salad” that they helped prepare. Each child washed their fruit then cut it up before adding it to the bowl. In the end we had a beautiful healthy treat that everyone had worked together to make.

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