You would think the answer to this question would be simple. But thanks to modern day efforts in food science, chicken breasts might have more ingredients than they have ever had before. Just a few weeks ago, my mother posted a very simple question on Facebook. She simply asked, “What’s in my chicken breast?” Her question, while seemingly innocuous, garnered a host of responses. Why? Well, because it has actually become a totally valid inquiry.
You have no doubt heard or seen recent criticisms of genetically modified organisms, more commonly known as GMOs. These types of organisms occur when scientists “breed” food DNA. In others words, that tomato on your sandwich might not have come from Mother Nature -- it just might have come from a scientist’s lab. One particular seed producer, Monsanto, has become synonymous with this food modification process. They have cornered the market on seed production for booming crops like corn and soy. Their genetically altered seeds have produced stronger, larger fruits and vegetables, which are more resilient and repellent to farm pests.
This issue has been trending in social media ever since President Obama signed a government continuance bill containing a provision that protects companies like Monsanto from Federal scrutiny. Beyond the politics, there are some key questions about GMOs which should be answered before the American people can accurately gauge any associated risks.
Are GMOs Safe?
Some of the more questionable modifications to common foods raise questions not only about the growing process, but also on the effects on the humans consuming them. Is an apple that never browns truly safe to eat? How would the average consumer know when an apple has gone bad? As food science progresses, these questions will become increasingly important.
Currently, there are no legitimate studies which can definitively prove that GMOs are dangerous for human consumption. But no one can confidently say that they’re safe, either. And that’s where the issue of GMO safety stands: at an impasse.
Do We Really Want to Know What’s In Our Food?
The biggest complaint about GMOs in the marketplace right now is about food labeling. According to a poll from Huffington Post/YouGov, 82 percent of Americans would like their food labeled in cases where it has been genetically altered. GMO firms have been lobbying against this. At the state level, food labeling has not seen a great deal of success. Last year’s California mandate, Prop 37, was defeated by a slim margin after big name food producers like Monsanto, Nestle, Pepsico, and Kraft Foods fought against the legislation.
These types of ballot initiatives have been showing up across the country. Later this year, Washington State will face a similar debate. But, it is highly likely that the same big businesses will mobilize there to eradicate any opposition. In essence, while Americans would overwhelmingly choose to have their foods labeled as GMOs, mainstream companies whose main product is processed foods would prefer otherwise. The good news is that we aren’t completely powerless. Recently, a company named Buycott (clever, right?) created an app that lets consumers take matters into their own hands. The app allows users to scan barcodes on products to see if they were made by Monsanto, the Koch brothers, or other notorious pro-GMO companies.
In the end, my mom’s question, while valid, may have quite some time before it receives an accurate answer. For now, she can rest assured knowing that her chicken breast is made up of something that at least originated as good old-fashioned chicken, and no one can prove that it is a danger to her health. If that is good enough for government, it has got to be good enough for the American people. Right?
A couple of weeks ago during California’s cold snap, I was looking for a lunch recipe for the week. The winter temperatures had me craving something warm and filling. I like to make a large batch of something healthy yet tasty and bring it to work with me – it makes it easier to have a week’s worth of lunch ready instead of throwing it together every morning when I am inevitably running 15 minutes late. I love chili, but I didn’t think meat would store well for more than a couple of days, so I decided to make a vegetarian version of my own chili recipe. Enjoy!
1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow squash, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney or pinto beans (your choice), drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
¾ cup vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth if you don’t have the veggie on hand)
1 tsp. cider vinegar
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
In a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Be sure to lower the heat if the onions are browning – they should just soften. Add garlic, stir for one minute. Add bell pepper and squash to the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften.
Once veggies are cooked, add chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic salt and pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly,then add both cans of beans, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, cider vinegar and Worcestershire. Stir well. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a low boil. Lower heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes (I let mine simmer for about 40 to bring out the flavor). Adjust seasonings to taste.
This is a pretty quick way to make a healthy chili, and it will last in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Feel free to play with the recipe – add mushrooms or carrots or another favorite veggie, add or substitute the spices according to what you like, and swap your favorite can of beans.
Bring along a whole wheat roll or some corn tortilla chips to help fill you up. If you like chili you are sure to enjoy this recipe – coworkers were telling me all week how good it looked and smelled!
The stick you just peed on confirms that you are pregnant. Congratulations!!! Now, you can eat just as much as you want because you are eating for two, right? Ummm…guess again…
The + on that stick does not give you a hall pass in the kitchen, at the takeout window, or at the froyo-by-weight counter. Now, more than ever, you have to think about what you are eating. You are actually eating for 1.1, not 2. Your growing baby is highly unlikely to exceed 10% of your body weight. I’ll bet that the little person will weigh much less than that at the due date.
So, doubling your daily calories does not make sense. Did you know that during your first trimester, you actually don’t need to eat any more than what you do non-preggers? In your third trimester, which is when you will need to eat more, you won’t need much more than 300-500 extra calories per day.
The quality of the food you eat is far more important than the quantity of food that you eat. This is true all the time but especially now that you are pregnant. The body growing inside of you will extract all the nutrients that it needs from your body if you are not getting enough. For example, if you don’t have enough calcium in your diet, your body will “donate” calcium from your bones (where it is stored) to help develop the skeletal system of the baby you are growing inside of you. And, nobody wants to be at a greater risk for osteoporosis after a pregnancy.
Having just gone through a pregnancy and relatively uneventful labor, I am sharing with you my “power meal go-to menu” that kept my baby and me healthy, lean, strong, and happy (yes, I enjoyed my pregnancy!). Often I was still on-the-go, so these meals were pretty quick to prepare:
1. Quick-cook oats and frozen berries cooked and drizzled with ½ cup plain almond milk, fortified with calcium and vitamin D
2. Low-fat Greek yogurt (or dairy-free yogurt made with coconut milk) with a tablespoon of raw honey and slivered almonds
3. Scrambled eggs (scrambled with fortified milk or milk substitute) topped with sliced tomatoes and/or avocado and whole grain toast with a smear of organic unsalted butter
4. Sliced apple or banana with organic peanut butter or almond butter with sea salt
5. Fresh veggies with yogurt dip or white bean hummus
1. Grilled salmon (fish once per week), chicken, or 4 ounces of lean steak over bed of fresh and colorful salad
2. Chicken teriyaki bowl with lots of steamed veggies over brown rice
3. Stir-fried firm tofu (or other lean protein) with tri-color bell peppers and snap peas over egg noodles or brown rice
4. Spicy minestrone soup with a side salad
5. Roasted turkey with sides of sweet potato hash and steamed veggies
!. Berries and/or banana slices with dark chocolate drizzle
2. ½ cup of frozen yogurt with fresh fruit and honey drizzle
3. Baked green apple with caramelized brown sugar (a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream is optional)
Sounds good, right? Well, you don’t have to be pregnant to enjoy these easy go-to meals. They are healthy and energy-boosting for you regardless of whether or not you are growing a “mini-me” inside of you.
Are you tired of spending money on food only to have it spoil before you eat it? Me too! Every year, American households throw away an average of 470 lbs. of food because of spoiling and poor storage. I don’t know about you, but 470 lbs. of food could feed me for a LONG time! Here are some ways to save yourself some cash when it comes to groceries!
Fruits and veggies should be stored separately in the crispers because the gases given off by different types could cause others to rot prematurely. To absorb moisture, lay a paper towel on the bottom of the drawer and replace when wet.
It is best to wrap leafy greens in a dry paper towel and then put in a perforated plastic bag and replace paper towel when it becomes moist. Tip: if you are looking for a lettuce that lasts longer, buy Romaine!
This great site I found lists fruits and vegetables and where they should be stored to last the longest. Check it out!
DO NOT store dairy on the door of your fridge. The temperature from opening and closing the door is too warm for the very perishable items. Instead keep things like milk, butter and cheese in the body of the fridge where the temperature stays more consistent. Always keep cheese in the original container until opened, and then wrap in plastic and store in a plastic bag or airtight container.
Meat is something you should be very careful with since it can spoil easily and can cause illness when not handled properly. Always store meat in its original packaging and never place on top of where produce or other foods are kept. If the package didn’t come with a tray, place a pan underneath to catch any drippings.
Tip: Freezing is a great way to keep meat fresh until you want to use it! Just make sure it’s in its original packaging or wrapped tightly.
You know those little egg trays most refrigerators have on their door?? Or the cute ceramic trays you can buy at Sur La Table? DON’T use them. Eggs need to be stored in their original container as they are built with holes to keep air flowing. Also, like dairy, eggs can spoil quickly when in warm temperatures so it’s best to keep them off of the door and inside the fridge.
Herbs are very similar to fresh flowers because they both need to be kept in water. Trim the stems and place in a cup of cold water and put in the door of your fridge (since this is the warmest area). Change the water and re-trim every 1 or 2 days. Basil or mint store best when in water on the countertop. Always cover the tops of herbs with a loose plastic bag.
Store all leftovers in airtight, clear containers (preferably glass!) and always refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking. It is best to divide food into small flat containers so that they cool faster, but waiting for the food to cool down before storing is unnecessary since most modern refrigerators can handle the heat! Also never store anything in an opened can. Once the can is open, metal on the rim can leech into the food.
Since I started researching how to keep foods fresh longer I have had to throw away WAY less food, which is much better for the environment and my pocket! I have also found that my fruits and vegetables taste better and I eat them more often. So it’s a win for my waistline too!
I am a huge pasta lover, and I am always looking for new ways to jazz up pasta dishes with hearty, healthy ingredients. Last week I needed to make a “clean out the fridge” dinner. I had a half a can of white beans from an earlier meal, collard greens that needed to be eaten up and leftover canned tomatoes. And of course, I always have pasta and an open bottle of red wine on hand (healthy food = more calories available for wine consumption, right?).
Typically you see kale or spinach in pasta dishes, so substituting collard greens really makes this recipe stand out. It was a bit of an experiment, but I thought the collard greens turned out to be a great complement to this dish. They hold up well to cooking and add a vibrant color and plenty of nutrients. White beans add great texture and heartiness, so they are delicious in meatless dishes like this one (though my husband claims I use them too often!). This is an easy, healthy meal that will definitely fill you up but won’t make you feel guilty. If you want to add meat, use turkey Italian sausage. Just add in and brown after the collard greens have started to cook.
1 package whole wheat spaghetti or pasta of your choice
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 small yellow onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how much garlic you like)
2 cups coarsely chopped collard greens
7 oz. white beans (half of a standard 14 oz. can)
14 oz. whole canned tomatoes with juices
¼ cup red wine
Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and salt and cook for 5-7 minutes or until onion is softened and translucent. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add collard greens and red pepper flakes. Once collard greens are tender (3-5 minutes), crush whole tomatoes with your hands and add along with the white beans. Turn to medium-high heat until sauce begins to bubble, then stir in wine. Continue to cook at medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, then reduce heat so the sauce is lightly simmering. Stir occasionally.
Continue to simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5-10 minutes (or longer if desired). Using a slotted pasta spoon or tongs, add cooked pasta directly to the sauce pan (this will allow some of the good, starchy pasta water to work into the sauce). Mix pasta well with the sauce and serve with a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese on top.
Enjoy with guiltless pleasure, and preferably a glass of wine.
The holiday season is right around the corner. That means cocktail parties, cocktail dresses, and of course, the classic LBD. What that also means is you’ll need to gain the will power to "just say no" to your pants with the elastic waistband this Thanksgiving and in the weeks that follow. Here are few simple, easy-to-follow tips to enjoy your holiday eating and imbibing without the guilt.
Exercise in the morning
Plan a hike with your family and/or visiting guests, join a local group bike ride, or check out local fitness facilities that offer special Thanksgiving or other morning classes. On Turkey Day, check to see if your hometown holds a Turkey Trot or another fun 5k or 10k race on Thanksgiving morning. Many of these races exist around the country and most of the proceeds benefit food banks and local charities trying to feed the hungry.
Including physical activity on the mornings of the most gluttonous season of the year means you will be able to increase your metabolism for the day and will likely make better food choices when at the dinner table. If you decide to indulge in an extra slice of pie or glass of wine, at least you’ve burned a few calories first!
Maintain your workout schedule
Company, club, and family parties may interfere with your regular workout schedule. Checking your weekly schedule at the beginning of each week is a good practice to keep, and even more so during this time of holiday commitments. When holiday parties interfere with your workouts, reschedule your workout at a different time. Don't skip your workouts, even if it means abbreviating them. Squeezing in 15-20 minutes will still provide you more benefits than not doing anything at all.
Don’t skip breakfast
In order to prevent guilt-ridden overeating and letting out the waistband on your trousers, eat breakfast. Do not skip meals earlier in the day. Prepare healthy meals or snacks before your dinner to avoid feeling famished, which can result in overeating.
Use smaller plates
I know... you are already dreaming about plates laden with Thanksgiving goodies. But if you want to keep your summer shape, you will have to serve yourself smaller portions all winter long. Serve yourself 1/3-1/2 of what you would normally put on your plate. If you opt for a second serving you should still serve yourself a smaller portion. With this approach you will consume at least half the calories of holidays-past.
Practice conscious consumption
Rather than eating mindlessly while deep in conversation, look at what you stick your fork into before putting it in your mouth. Enjoy the flavors while savoring the food as you chew slowly. You will be less likely to eat the food that is not as satisfying to you, become satiated faster, eat more slowly (which means you will have less time to go up for seconds), and enjoy the taste of your meal at the first plate.
Enjoy this holiday season! And if you follow these tips, you'll be able to do it while staying the same size into the New Year's Eve party. Read: you won't be one of those frantic weight loss fanatics fighting over the treadmill at the gym, madly trying to lose the nine pounds gained over the course of the five weeks of winter holiday festivities. Instead, you’ll look stunning and chic as you ring in 2013.
A couple of years ago I really started focusing on what I put into my body. I read numerous books on healthy/clean eating and I researched various diets, including raw food diets and vegetarian/vegan diets. Through my research I found a few “superfoods” that every diet seemed to be in consensus about. Superfoods are foods that are so beneficial for you that you should be eating some of them every day. Keep these items on your radar:
Berries- Not only are berries naturally sweet and delicious, but they also pack a lot of antioxidants and phytonutrients, with very few calories. They are full of fiber and have a high water content, which fills you up quickly and aids with digestion. Add a handful of berries to your morning cereal or oatmeal. Just make sure to always buy organic due to the high pesticide content and their thin skin.
Quinoa- Quinoa was once hard to find but is now is readily available in almost all supermarkets. It’s high in protein and fiber and is also a good source of iron. It’s one of the best whole grains you can eat and it is easy to incorporate into your diet. Try substituting quinoa for the rice in a stir-fry.
Kale- Kale is a leafy green full of vitamins A, C and K. K is especially important for reducing the risk of developing cancer, and is a necessity for healthy bones and blood clotting. Try using steamed kale in place of spinach or adding some raw pieces to your next salad.
Beans- Beans are one of the best ways to incorporate fiber into your diet. They are a low fat way to fill you up and help rid your body of waste, which is imperative to a healthy digestive system. Beans are also a good source of protein, which means that they can be substituted for meat in a meal. Try a veggie and black bean burrito or make garbanzo bean hummus to use as a sandwich spread.
Salmon- Salmon has a high omega -3 fatty acid content, which is important for the health of your heart. It has a lot of protein, is a good source of iron and is low in saturated fat. Always choose wild over farm raised salmon, and don’t eat it more than twice a week due to its mercury content. Hit the superfood trifecta by pairing salmon with quinoa and steamed kale!
Avocados- Avocados are full of cholesterol lowering healthy, and they’re high in lutein, which aids in healthy vision. They have also been shown to lower the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Another bonus: Avocados are one of the cleanest vegetables when it comes to pesticides. Want to go a nontraditional route with avocado? Puree it and make it into a homemade chocolate mousse for dessert!
Sweet Potato- Sweet potatoes are a very inexpensive super food to add to your diet. They are high in Vitamins B6, C and D and are also a good source of magnesium. Magnesium is necessary for healthy blood, heart and nerve function, as well as healthy arteries. Try making baked sweet potato French fries!
Carrots- Carrots are one of my favorite super foods because they are packed with vitamins (B1, B2, B6 and K) and serve as a good source of fiber, potassium and thiamine. AND they are low in calories! Carrots have also been shown to have strong cleansing properties that detoxify the liver and help with acne. That not enough to convince you? How about this?: The beta-carotene in carrots function as an antioxidant and slow down the negative effects of aging. Run 4 or 5 carrots through a juicer for a refreshing drink.
Nuts- Nuts have a bad reputation because they’re high in calories and fat, but they’re extremely beneficial when eaten in small amounts. Nuts are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and L-arginine, which may help improve the health of artery walls. The best way to eat nuts is in the shells. You’ll eat less because you have to work harder to get them!
Incorporate these foods into your diet and your body will surely thank you. If you have recipe ideas featuring any of these ingredients, share them with us!
You there, eating the In-And-Out burger and the side of animal fries…for breakfast. Your time has come. It’s time to start taking your health seriously, and that means thinking about what you eat. And I don’t mean just opting out of the animal fries. We all hear about how important it is to eat naturally and organically, but how many of us actually do? With all signs pointing to unhealthy eating as the cause of many diseases, cancers and other health problems, we have to start really paying attention to what we put into our bodies.
Supermarket shelves are chock full of preservatives, pesticides, artificial flavors and hundreds of other ingredients that are almost unpronounceable. Do you know what Disodium Guanylate is? I didn’t think so. If you can’t even form the words with your mouth maybe these ingredients shouldn’t get past your lips.
My rule of thumb for shopping is that I don’t buy anything with ingredients I don’t recognize (prepackaged or boxed foods are usually a big offender on this one). I don’t buy anything with more than 5 ingredients (6 different veggies don’t count), and I buy almost completely organic, especially with meats, dairy and most fruits and vegetables. This grocery list is not for the faint at heart.
Even though I may shed a few pounds as a result of eating this way, this is not a weight loss plan. I don’t count calories and I do enjoy cake and pie from time to time, as long as they are made naturally and not filled with processed junk. Another rule I have is if I make it at home, it’s okay to eat because I know what’s going inside, and that doesn’t include blue #2.
I wasn't always this way. I noshed on frozen burritos and Oreos like the majority of America. But learning about nutrition, food and my own body was an eye opening experience. Now I know that “good eats” are not all about what tastes good.
So ladies, it’s time to arm yourself with knowledge about what you eat everyday and how it affects you. These are a few books that I have really found helpful:
Food Rules by Michael Pollan
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
This quote pretty much sums up the list of food rules defined in the book. It lays out rules we should have for ourselves about what we eat. They are things that we all know, but most of us girls don't live by. It’s a quick read and well worth it.
Clean Food by Terry Walters
This is a great book for recipes! The beginning helps you define the foods that are considered "clean" and healthy and then gives you pages and pages of ways to make them into meals.
French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guilano
This book is amazing in the sense that it shows you that you can still enjoy food and eat rich delicious things without gaining weight. It’s all about not over indulging and really being conscious while you are eating. This way you really get joy from your food, and you don't feel deprived and run for the processed junk that hurts your body.
Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink
This book is full of statistics and it gives you great info about why we eat the amount that we do. It also makes you aware of the situations and environments that lead to overindulging and explains what we can do to prevent overeating.
The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose
This book is pretty strict and I don't preach about eating only raw foods (I certainly never will) but I use it as a guideline for what I put into my body. Raw foods are so beneficial to your health and I truly believe that most of your diet should be made up of them. This book got me to add a lot more vegetables into my meals and taught me ways to eat things so they digest easily.
In our youth we're taught that routine makes life simple. We all have daily routines: wake up, brush our teeth, go to work, get home, eat dinner, spend too much time on Facebook, etc. We then have weekly routines: go to the gym, get the car washed, and of course--going grocery shopping. Seeing as gathering sustenance for the week is already incorporated into our everyday, it's simple enough to make some of our weekly purchases organic.
Why, you ask? Well, there are the most obvious reasons: avoiding GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, protecting your body and the environment against potential carcinogens (cancer causing agents), and supporting independent farmers. Simply put, the food tastes better, has greater nutritional value and is less likely to turn you into a radioactive creature from a 50's horror film than its non-organic counterparts.
Here's what to do. When you're in a rush you can shop organic at most major grocery stores; just look for the label that says Certified Organic. And if you have an hour or two to spare, make an outing to your local farmers market. Your produce will cost less, you'll have the opportunity to meet small business owners in your community and who knows? Maybe the vegetable guy will be cute.
I'll go a step further to make buying organic easier for you. Here is a list of foods you should commit to buying organic next time you go to the store. Focus on these first to simplify the process and make a big impact.
These foods go at the top of the list because the non-organic options are the highest in pesticides:
Apples, Nectarines, Spinach, Strawberries and Blueberries
Potatoes, Kale, Collard greens, other Roots or vegetables that come from under the soil.
For a full list check out the Environmental Working groups Dirty Dozen : http://www.foodnews.org/
These foods are next on the list because they are harmful in other ways. Ways we don't always think about when we're filling our shopping carts:
Delicate as a banana? Though not a popular phrase, those of us who have eaten one know how fragile they are. In order to keep bananas fresh, yellow and beautiful, massive amounts of toxins are used on plantations. Among them Aldicarb and DCBP, which are directly linked to sterility and cancer. The vast majority of banana plantations are located in third-world countries, where workers are expected to provide their own protection against these and other chemicals, making it all in all an ugly scene.
The people who work on Coffee plantations generally live nearby and thereby share the plantation's water source. That means if the coffee's not organic the pesticides used not only taint the robust flavor of your cup of Joe, but slowly poison the people picking the worlds most popular bean.
There is a synthetic growth hormone given to cows to increase milk production called rBGH. It does indeed increase milk production. Unfortunately, it also increases a woman's chance of getting breast cancer (amongst others cancers linked to rGHP.) When buying milk and cheese (the hormone is illegal in Europe, so European cheeses are safe) just look for the label that says organic, or no rBGH.
Made Woman Grocery list
Buy These Organic: