A Healthier SNACK: Organic Popcorn

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Organic popcorn is healthier for you but, only if it’s air-popped. You can use a regular pot which, I’ve used many times over, or you can buy an air popper. They’re sold at Macy’s, Sear’s and Amazon for under fifty dollars. To jazz up your popcorn drizzle extra virgin olive oil over it and sprinkle a ittle sea salt for more taste.

How many calories you end up with depends on how much olive oil you use.

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One cup of air popped popcorn, for example, contains only 30 calories or so. Olive oil contains about 250 calories per ounce (2 tablespoons).

Many American’s buy the microvable brands and it’s actually not healthy for you. Remember the corn is a grain however, it’s the type of corn you buy (Organic or GM Corn) and how you prepare it can really affect your health. A new study at the University of Minnesota showed diacetyl has several concerning properties for brain health and may trigger Alzheimer’s disease.

Diacetyle is an artificial butter flavoring added to microwave popcorn and other snack foods; many microwave popcorn factories have already stopped using the synthetic diacetyl because it’s been linked to lung damage in people who work in the factories. Now imagine popping your microvable pocorn and this chemical goes into your blood stream which the study shows.

Removing Diacetyl from Microwave Popcorn Doesn’t Make it Safe…
As mentioned, diacetyl is known to cause serious, sometimes life-threating respiratory illness in microwave popcorn-plant and flavoring plant workers. Many companies therefore began to stop using the chemical in their products, replacing it with another ingredient called 2,3-pentanedione (PD), which is also used to impart a buttery flavor and aroma.

Now researchers have revealed that PD, too, can lead to respiratory toxicity similar to that caused by diacetyl. The chemical was also capable of pathologically altering the gene expression in rat brains, leading to neurotoxicity. The study’s lead researcher noted:

    “Our study is a reminder that a chemical with a long history of being eaten without any evidence of toxicity can still be an agent with respiratory toxicity when appropriate studies are conducted.”

Not to mention, perfluoroalkyls (PFCs), which are chemicals used to keep grease from leaking through food wrappers, are widely used in microwave-popcorn packaging. These chemicals migrate into your food and are processed by your body, where they can disrupt your endocrine system and affect your sex hormones. PFCs have been linked to infertility, thyroid disease, cancer, immune system problems, and more.

It’s obviouse we’re living in a world where we want things bigger and faster. That doesn’t always mean it’s healthier and better for us.

Source:
WHOLEfoods! Popcorn
University of Minnesota Study
Dr. Mercola – Buttered Popcorn Linked to Alzheimer’s
Study – Respiratory and olfactory cytotoxicity of inhaled 2,3-pentanedione

Superfoods

What is a superfood? I believe a superfood is any food that has the following characteristics: High nutritional density and low calories, high fiber, high in omega-3 fatty acids, loads of antioxidants and has to be rich in phytochemicals.

Green superfoods help to regulate metabolism and burn fat. They are also high in minerals and vitamins. Drinking and eating raw green vegetables is the optimum way to receive these nutrients. chlorophyll is a substance that gives plants green color; green superfoods are high in chlorophyll. It increases the amount of hemoglobin and oxygen in the blood. Here are some of my favoirite green superfoods:

My favorite…

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Kale: Kale has been known to be the “new beef” and “queen of greens”. Just one cup of kale has 5 grams of fiber, 40% magnesium, 15% calcium, 36 calories, 180% vitamin A, 200% vitamin C, 1,020% vitamin K. Kale is also a high source of minerals such as iron, sulfur, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese. It also has anti-cancer fighting properties such as carotenoids, antioxidants, and flavonoids.

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Broccoli: Broccoli has a strong, positive impact on our body’s detoxification system, and researchers have recently identified one of the key reasons for this detox benefit. Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin are 3 glucosinolate phytonutrients found in a special combination in broccoli.

Just one cup of raw broccoli has an excellent source of immune-supportive vitamin C 135.2%, anti-inflammatory vitamin K 115.5%, and heart-healthy folate 14.3%.

It is a very good source of free-radical-scavenging vitamin A 11.3% (through its concentration of carotenoid phytonutrients), enzyme-activating manganese 9.5% and molybdenum 6%; digestive-health-supporting fiber 9.4%; heart-healthy potassium 8.2% and vitamin B6 8%; and energy-producing vitamin B2 6.4% and phosphorus 6%. It is a good source of energy-producing vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, protein, and iron; bone-healthy magnesium and calcium; and antioxidant-supportive vitamin E and selenium.

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Wheatgrass: Wheatgrass is one of the main vegetables used when detoxifying through juicing. Although bitter, wheatgrass is a powerful healing and detoxifying ingredient that is loaded with chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, biophotons, and amino acids. It gives you the nutrients that accelerate and facilitate detoxification, particularly in your liver. The enzymes and amino acids found in wheatgrass can protect us from carcinogens like no other food or medicine. It strengthens our cells, detoxifies the liver and bloodstream,

The enzymes and amino acids found in wheatgrass can protect us from carcinogens like no other food or medicine. It strengthens our cells, detoxifies the liver and bloodstream, and chemically neutralizes environmental pollutants.

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Blue-Green Algae (BGA): Spirulina, Chlorella and more
The single-celled plants known as blue-green algae (BGA) are sold in health food stores as superior sources of protein, chlorophyll, carotenoid antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and disease-preventive phytonutrients. There are several types of BGAs, the most popular being spirulina and chlorella. These vegetables are watercress, parsley, cilantro, leek, chard, endive, mustard sprouts, spinach, algae and cabbage.

The existing research, while lacking in many regards, suggests that BGAs exert some significant and perhaps unique preventive-health effects, most likely due to their polysaccharides, antioxidants, nucleic acids, and peptides. Preliminary evidence suggests that they have the following benefits:

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  • Spirulina inhibits the infectious power of many viruses—including HIV, flu, mumps, enterovirus, measles, and herpes—probably because a sulfated polysaccharide called calcium spirulan prevents viruses from entering human cells
  • Chlorella helps prevent cancer and the growth of tumors, probably because its glycoproteins enhance the migration of T cells to tumor sites
  • Chlorella binds to toxic heavy metals and dioxin and helps eliminate them from the body
  • Chlorella protects the intestinal lining against peptic ulcers

    Resources:

    http://ahha.org/articles.asp?Id=26
    http://www.squidoo.com/what-is-chlorella-good-for?
    http://www.healingcancernaturally.com/cancer-diet-and-nutrition.html
    http://www.oprah.com/health/Can-a-Plant-Based-Diet-Cure-Cancer

  • What are the Health Benefits of Wheat Germ?

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      The health benefits of wheat germ are enormous. It is a grain fortified with vitamin E, folate (folic acid), phosphorus, thiamine, zinc, magnesium and essential omega-3 fatty acids and fatty alcohols. It is an excellent source of fiber.

    The grain of wheat which gives rise to a new plant when sowed is called the wheat kernel or wheat berry. It is the seed which gives birth to the embryo. The germ is that part of the wheat grain which helps in reproducing the plant and therefore has a high concentration of all the nutrients. The good healthy fat in the grain is mostly found in this part. The bran is the outer fibrous layer. The middle layer between the germ and the bran is known as the endosperm. It is this part which is actually milled for flour. When wheat is processed to make everyday all purpose flour, the germ and bran is removed and thrown.

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    THIS IS THE BRAND I BUY!

      More and more research shows the advantages of incorporating the germ in our daily diet. Due to high levels of nutrients, the germ is separated from the grain and made into health supplements. I love adding wheat germ to my oat meals, pancake mixes, muffins, and cake batters.

    Nutrients Behind the Health Benefits of Wheat Germ
    The nutrients which are found in the germ of wheat are as follows:

    •Fiber
    •Iron
    •Magnesium
    •Manganese
    •Protein
    •Omega-3 fatty acids
    •Phosphorus
    •Potassium
    •Selenium
    •Vitamin E
    •Zinc
    •Complex Carbohydrates
    •B Vitamins such as folate, Niacin, Thiamine and Vitamin B6
    •Calcium

    Health Benefits of Wheat Germ
    Vitamin E found in it, is a powerful antioxidant when it comes to skin health and beauty. Vitamin E boosts immunity and has anti-aging properties and can prevent heart diseases and even cancer. It can help control LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and promote cardiovascular health. Wheat germ protein aids in muscle development and does wonders to overall energy, stamina and wellbeing. It contains octacosonal which improves mental agility and alertness. It is used in supplements, especially the ones used in weight loss.

      It also improves metabolism and balances the hormones in the body which in turn helps to cope with stress. Vitamin B boosts immunity, aids digestion, gives healthy skin and enables the body to heal quicker from wounds. Folic acid brings down the homocysteine levels in blood and prevents damage to the arteries.

    Wheat Germ Oil
    The unsaturated oils extracted from wheat germ are a rich natural source of vitamin E. Wheat germ oil can be used as a supplement to boost your intake of this vitamin, which promotes red blood cell formation and supports your immune system. Vitamin E may have antioxidant properties which counteract cellular damage and reduce the harmful effects of environmental toxins. Some cosmetics companies promote wheat germ oil as a product ingredient that may moisturize skin and hair, diminish the effects of aging and reduce the appearance of scars.

    Resources:
    http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/natural-foods/natural-weight-loss-food-wheat-germ-ga.htm
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/health-tip/HT00375/rss=6
    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/health-gains-from-whole-grains/index.html

    Plant-Based Diet for Beginners: How to Get Started

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    Getting started with a more plant-based diet

    Replace one, or better yet, two to three days of your week’s meals to vegetarian options.  Food: The Meatless Monday campaign is gaining nationwide momentum as even celebrity chef and meat-lover, Mario Batalihas signed on. Simply cut back on your meat intake, starting on Mondays. The site has resources, recipes, and a growing online community.

    Education on Environmental Impact: Read Mark Bittman’s New York Times article, ‘Considering the Meat Guzzler‘ to see how reducing your meat intake equates to swapping your SUV for a Prius.

    Add healthy meat alternatives
    Tempeh, edamame beans, tofu, and seitan (wheat gluten) add texture, fiber, and healthy protein to your meal. Make sure to get organic soy products, as most commercial soy beans today are genetically engineered to feed cows.

    Food: Skip frozen soy nuggets and opt for fermented soy products. Like tofu, tempeh will take in any flavor you give it. Traditionally eaten in Indonesia, you can marinate it like you would fish, letting it soak in flavors of sesame oil, tamari, and ginger, and sautéing it. Its texture makes a great meat substitute.

    Soup lover? Add miso paste to make soup – it’s got live cultures beneficial for digestive health. It offers a great savory, chicken soup substitute, and even makes a great wintertime breakfast as part of the macrobiotic diet.

    One product I love is Lightlife Smoky Tempeh Strips. Three slices are just 100 calories with 8 grams of protein, and they taste great in salads or sandwiches for a veggie BLT.

    Legumes all the way
    High in fiber, carbs, and protein, legumes are generally feel-good foods for satiety, balancing blood sugar, maintaining weight and energy.

    Food: Hummus makes a great spread on toast, layered with cucumbers, sprouts, and tomatoes. Look for flavor varieties like cilantro or mint at your farmer’s market, rather than the same ol’ at your supermarket. Make your own with herbs, steamed red bell peppers, nuts, or fresh edamame.

    French lentils are easy to cook, high in iron, and protein. Trader Joe’s sells a handy, pre-cooked and ready-to-eat version that I love over greens with avocado, cherry tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

    Stir it up
    Smoothies are a delicious high-protein alternative to a heavy, egg-centered breakfast. What other drink offers fiber, antioxidants, protein, and healthy fats in one meal? Here’s a vegan protein smoothie recipe from plant-based triathlete, Brendan Brazier (pictured, right)

    Food: Just blend a cup of frozen, ripe banana with any other fruit and fill with almond milk and apple juice. Throw in a handful of kale or spinach, a tablespoon of almond butter, one of hemp protein, and blend for a green smoothie. For extra sweetness, include a teaspoon of agave nectar or maple syrup, better yet: dry dates. Trader Joe’s sells a good quality, cheap hemp protein.

    Know your labels and meat sources
    CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) are the worst kind of polluters with methane emissions and runoff that pollutes bodies of water. The animals are also grown in cruel conditions, and contain a high dose of hormones and antibiotics.

    Food: Choose organic, free-range chicken, beef, and eggs when you choose to eat them. Look for a humanely-raised label too. Support restaurants that purchase these kinds of products and as much as you can, skip the rest. 

    Tip: Next time you’re sorting through dozens of egg brands, choose Glaum for their humanely-raised, vegetarian-fed, AND cage-free eggs. 

    Tip #2: On the go, grab a burrito from Chipotle — Mexican food priding itself in hormone-free and free range meat.

    Education: The Meatrix is a fun, clever, animated short film that goes a long way in explaining some key concepts about factory farming.
     
    Choose your fish wisely, if at all
    Fish gets a lot of health hype for its omega-3 fatty acid content. But at this rate, worldwide supply for seafood like tuna and salmon won’t keep up with demand. Farmed fish is a recent development that is not recommended. Some fish like tuna is high in mercury, and should only be eaten once or twice a month. Make sure to ask where your fish comes from and stick to wild varieties. Give props to sustainable seafood restaurants that make their sources public.

    Food: Include a handful of seeds and nuts on a daily basis for healthy fats: hemp and flax seeds; walnuts, almonds, and cashews, nut butters, and avocados.

    When eating fish in or out, refer to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood chart to help guide your decisions. They also have an iPhone app.

    Give tilapia and sole a try. At places like Whole Foods Market, you can ask at the counter where they come from.

    Eat low on the food chain. Experiment with anchovies and sardines: they reproduce quickly, have low risk for mercury content, and offer plenty of omega 3 fatty acids and flavor to any salad, rice, or pasta dish.

    If you have access to wild salmon, make it an occasional part of the menu. It’s high in omega fatty acids and delicious. Avoid farmed salmon.

    Think of sushi as a treat and support sushi joints with sustainable menus

    Avoid eating shrimp, it’s a bottom feeder that can be high in ocean contaminants. Shrimping practices like trawling ravage ocean life. 

    Education: watch The End of the Line film.

    Get involved
    Eco-conscious foodies are popping up all over through blogs and online communities. Even Michelle Obama’s now tackling child obesity and planting an edible garden. Follow Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Life blog — a fun new space to learn all about the vegan lifestyle and connect with veg “flirts” and “superheroes.” You can go shopping with Alicia, too — here’s hergrocery list. Join a local Meetup to learn how to cook farm-to-table meals. Keep your eyes out for uplifting foodie films like FRESH screening in your local community.

    My Organic vs. Conventional Shopping

    Every week I have to go food shopping. My household consists of five people and that includes me. My ten-year old eats for two so I should say it’s six of us. One of the greatest thing about my children is that they love to eat fruits and vegetables. This past weekend, we’re at the farmers market. My daughter Lily (2) was out of her stroller shopping and picking up fruits and vegetables with me. Everything she picked up she took a bite out of it. It was so funny and I was in disbelief. This little girl picked up a broccoli and started to eat it. She took two bites out of it before I stopped her. Now the only reason I stopped her was because they were not washed properly. Lily loves broccoli so I didn’t think anything of it. But, then she went for the string beans, yellow cherry tomatoes and the peaches. It made me feel real good as a mother to see her at this age eating raw foods. My two boys are the same but they wouldn’t eat the vegetables raw.

    Choosing to buy organic over conventional foods is very important to me. I know that my family is eating healthy and I’m also eliminating certain toxins from their diet by choosing organic. Now I don’t buy everything organic. I definitely follow the, Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen generally have the most pesticide residues when grown conventionally because they’re more prone to pesky bugs. Peeling fruits and vegetables or removing outer layers of leafy greens is also a great way to cut back on pesticide intake. That said, certain fruits and veggies might be more important to buy organic than others.

    Buying organic can be very costly depending on where you choose to buy. I love to shop at the Farmers Market and Trader Joe’s. I’m very familiar with the conventional prices of goods because I use to be that shopper. Whenever I go grocery shopping most of my products in my cart are organic, and my bill comes out to be the same or even less at times. You would be very surprise by the prices. It’s really not that expensive for my family. Here’s two of my items. Look at the difference between the leading conventional brand and Trader Joe’s brand. The conventional brand applesauce cost $2.99 and the Trader’s organic brand is $1.99. Now take a look at the cereals. The Trader’s brand is made from natural ingredients like fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. The prices are very different as well. The leading brand goes for $4.99 or more and the Trader’s brand is $2.99 which is a big difference to me price wise and health wise. I think if you choose organic and natural products it should be able to fit into any budget. Do the research and take the time to compare.

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