Tuesday, 22 April 2014 23:57

Health | So Just How Healthy Is Organic?

Health // May 5, 2014

Many of us have heard that we ought to buy  certified organic berries, kale, and fuzzy fruits (remember the dirty dozen?), over conventionally grown counterparts to avoid eating genetically modified or pesticide-laden plant products (the list is updated every year; check out the new one here). The label, organic, has become synonymous with being the better option for selecting produce and other groceries. At what point, however, did it become a catch-all term for everything associated with being healthy?

I know, I know, organic fruits and vegetables are healthy. What I’m talking about, though, are the certified organic meats, cheeses, sugary cereals, and cookies. I’ve overheard some people say in the cookie aisle, “this one’s organic, so I’m gonna get it cuz it’s healthy.” (You can also insert gluten-free or vegan, in place of organic.)  

Sadly,these foods are not necessarily healthy (yes, meats, cheeses, and dark chocolate, in small portions can have health benefits, but read: small portions). You can’t eat as much as you want simply because the food is organic.

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The organic label means that a product is a better option over the conventionally grown/raised food. It’s a good guide for avoiding unwanted pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals that may leach into your food, unbeknownst to you. Some research has indicated that organically grown and raised produce and meats have greater nutritional value because they have not been genetically modified. And organically raised animals are fed a healthier diet and are often raised under healthier conditions (not in cages or pumped with steroids or other meds). However, there are other studies that suggest that there is not a significant difference between conventional and organic foods. The Organic Trade Association took a look at the major studies that compared the nutritional value of organic versus conventional produce, and concluding... that more studies need to be conducted. But take a look at their report, and form your own opinions.

If avoiding chemicals in your food is your aim, then stick to organic foods -- if your pocketbook permits it -- otherwise, refer to the list of dirty dozen produce items that you should buy organic and go conventional with anything else. To ensure you don’t gain a few extra pounds, use good judgment and remember that the organic label isn’t a green light to eat as much as you want. Moderation is always the best policy.

Published in Health
Monday, 31 December 2012 05:16

Health | Best Nutritional Juices

Best of 2012 // December 31, 2012

Do you eat between 400 and 600 grams of fruit a day? That is the recommended daily amount. We all know the good ole’ food pyramid and how we’ve been taught to eat since elementary school. But when was the last time you actually ate a whole five servings of fruit in a day? It’s important to eat our fruits and vegetables, and yet we don’t seem to make it happen. For me, eating an orange, banana, peach, apple AND tomato (yes, it’s considered a fruit) all in one day, seems nearly impossible.

There are a few easier ways to get our fill of fruit in a day. Let’s start with buying more juice. However, don’t be deceived. Not all juices are made equal. In fact, many of the juice beverages you find in the super market carry little to no juice at all. For example, a Capri Sun “fruit” drink contains less than 1/8 part fruit. Impostor!

What you need to make sure of when purchasing any sort of juice, is its actual nutritional breakdown. If you want to receive the benefits of fruit, you need to be drinking juice that comes closest to the fruit itself and isn’t made mainly of concentrate. For example, fresh-squeezed, unpasteurized orange juice is the closest thing to consuming the orange itself. The highest-quality, most nutrient rich juices are those without additives or flavor packs inserted. Tropicana, Naked Juice, Innocent, POM Wonderful and Bolthouse Farms top my list of healthy juices available in most grocery stores.

Because fresh-squeezed, unpasteurized juices typically are produced in smaller juicing operations like a local citrus grove, to find juices of this quality, it may mean traveling to your local farmer’s market or a specialty food store instead of the normal grocery store.

Another option is taking it a step further by making your own juice using a juicer after purchasing your own organic fruits and vegetables to throw into the mix. It would be fun, tasty, and at the same time, show you exactly how many servings of fruit you’d be consuming.

Lastly, with the advancement of technology, we now have ways to consume all the vitamins and minerals of fruits in supplement form. In fact we can even get considerably more than 5 servings of fruit a day by using them. One product I highly suggest is called “Isagenix Fruits” which in one serving of nutrient-rich powder provides you the health benefits of consuming the equivalent of 30 fruits. It can be used in a juice you make at home, in a protein shake, or on its own mixed with water.

Through these methods, we can assure that we’re getting quality nutrition into our bodies including valuable antioxidants through the fruits we eat. It may take a little more effort to get your daily intake of fruits but if your body really is your temple then it should be an easy choice. Drink wisely!


Published in Health

September 24, 2012 

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! 

Published in Health
Thursday, 16 February 2012 02:25

Day 16: Healthy Never Tasted This Good

February 16, 2012

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t have it all, because the truth is, you can—especially when it comes to indulging in delicious foods that are as healthy for your body as they are tasty on your tongue. By nourishing ourselves with healthy foods that help us glow from the inside, we grow stronger in mind, bone, and body.  But, as women, we also have crazy cravings that must be cured! I get it. I am a “fit-foodie,” who believes it is entirely possible to have your chips and eat them too without one ounce of guilt and with plenty of pleasure, because what is life without pleasure?

How about chips and a Milkshake for a healthy snack? Don’t believe it can be done? Try the recipes below! 

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Sweet n’ Spicy Kale Chips

Some of you might be wondering how baked kale chips made my “having it all” list. Those of you have tried these, when fresh and well-seasoned, know what I’m raving about. My potato-chip-loving boyfriend now craves these and he considers himself a chip connoisseur. Crunchy? Check. Flavorful? Oh yeah! Do they cure a salt craving? You bet girlfriend. Packed with fat? Nope—packed with nutrients, including vitamin K, which according to Maureen Callahan, MS, RD, is a potent bone builder. “Researchers find that women who eat diets rich in vitamin K are at lower risk of hip fracture. Seems the body requires vitamin K to activate bone proteins needed to ward off osteoporosis, the crippling bone disease that strikes women four times more often than men,” Callahan writes in this article on CookingLight.com. Just know, these chips are addicting and yes, you can eat the whole batch. 

Ingredients

  • 1 large bag pre-washed, pre-cut kale (1 large bunch kale can be used, but you must cut out stems, cut leaves into 2-3 inch long pieces, wash and dry very well in a salad spinner. If there is water on the leaves, they will steam instead of crisp.)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (leaves should be very lightly and evenly coated)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar to taste
  • 2-3 teaspoons chili flakes to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste (I like kosher or course sea salt)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. 
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, toss kale with olive oil just to coat, massaging oil gently into leaves with hands.
  4. Place kale on baking sheet in single layer and bake for 10-12 minutes. When kale chips turn a bright emerald green and feel crisp to the touch, remove them immediately. They will burn easily so don’t let them turn brown. If burnt, they will be bitter.
  5. While chips are baking, in small bowl combine sugar, chili flakes, and salt. 
  6. When crisp, remove from oven, sprinkle with spice mixture, toss in bowl and serve immediately. They are divine while warm, but you can keep them in an airtight container for one to two days. Do not refrigerate. 


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Photobucket 

Mango Coconut “Milkshake”

The next time you want to treat yourself to something cool, sweet and creamy, try this tropical shake made with almond milk and just a hint of coconut. Feeling romantic? Add a second straw for your lover, who will surely enjoy this decadent dessert with you. You would never know it, but you’ll be getting a healthy dose of ground flaxseed, which contains three potentially beneficial compounds according to Maureen Callahan, MS, RD. “Plant based omega-3 fats, fiber, and disease-fighting compounds called lignans [are all found in flax seed]. A Mayo Clinic study finds 40 grams of crushed flaxseed can cut down on hot flashes, and several reports suggest flax can lower ’bad’ or LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. (Interestingly, in one Chinese study, the cholesterol-lowering impact was more pronounced in women.) The brown or gold seeds may even play a role in fighting breast cancer. One caution: if you're pregnant or nursing, some experts suggest avoiding flax until more studies are done,” writes Callahan in this article on CookingLight.com. Cheers to you, another Made Woman!  

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 small banana 
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (rice, soy, or coconut milk can be substituted )
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (brown or gold)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in blender.
  2. Blend on highest setting until smooth. Add more almond milk if needed to blend. Shake should be thick.  
  3. Pour into a tall glass, add a colorful straw and indulge!



This post was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Love Yourself." Each day we released updates of videos, poetry, images, and original content, all based on the theme of loving yourself. Click the link to read more!

Published in Current
Saturday, 28 January 2012 02:32

Health | Best Nutritional Juices

January 30, 2012

Do you eat between 400 and 600 grams of fruit a day? That is the recommended daily amount. We all know the good ole’ food pyramid and how we’ve been taught to eat since elementary school. But when was the last time you actually ate a whole five servings of fruit in a day? It’s important to eat our fruits and vegetables, and yet we don’t seem to make it happen. For me, eating an orange, banana, peach, apple AND tomato (yes, it’s considered a fruit) all in one day, seems nearly impossible.

There are a few easier ways to get our fill of fruit in a day. Let’s start with buying more juice. However, don’t be deceived. Not all juices are made equal. In fact, many of the juice beverages you find in the super market carry little to no juice at all. For example, a Capri Sun “fruit” drink contains less than 1/8 part fruit. Impostor!

What you need to make sure of when purchasing any sort of juice, is its actual nutritional breakdown. If you want to receive the benefits of fruit, you need to be drinking juice that comes closest to the fruit itself and isn’t made mainly of concentrate. For example, fresh-squeezed, unpasteurized orange juice is the closest thing to consuming the orange itself. The highest-quality, most nutrient rich juices are those without additives or flavor packs inserted. Tropicana, Naked Juice, Innocent, POM Wonderful and Bolthouse Farms top my list of healthy juices available in most grocery stores.

Because fresh-squeezed, unpasteurized juices typically are produced in smaller juicing operations like a local citrus grove, to find juices of this quality, it may mean traveling to your local farmer’s market or a specialty food store instead of the normal grocery store.

Another option is taking it a step further by making your own juice using a juicer after purchasing your own organic fruits and vegetables to throw into the mix. It would be fun, tasty, and at the same time, show you exactly how many servings of fruit you’d be consuming.

Lastly, with the advancement of technology, we now have ways to consume all the vitamins and minerals of fruits in supplement form. In fact we can even get considerably more than 5 servings of fruit a day by using them. One product I highly suggest is called “Isagenix Fruits” which in one serving of nutrient-rich powder provides you the health benefits of consuming the equivalent of 30 fruits. It can be used in a juice you make at home, in a protein shake, or on its own mixed with water.

Through these methods, we can assure that we’re getting quality nutrition into our bodies including valuable antioxidants through the fruits we eat. It may take a little more effort to get your daily intake of fruits but if your body really is your temple then it should be an easy choice. Drink wisely!


Published in Health