Monday, January 31, 2011

Quickie Gluten Free Breakfast Options

Everyone loves a good, well thought out, planned and prepared breakfast, however, being realistic, on some busy mornings that simply can not come to fruition. Since going gluten-free, I have been finding, bit by bit, those breakfast items I can have when on the run. Here are those I try to have in stock for exactly the occasions when necessity arises:

Udi's Frozen Bagels

Before finding out about my gluten intolerance, bagels were one of my absolute favorite treats. Nothing could be more delicious than a freshly baked, warm bagel with my topping of choice. I went six months without one, thinking I would have to suffer a bagel-free existence for the rest of my life when, on New Year's Day, my brother brought in a fresh bag of bagels for everyone to enjoy. I nearly cracked and dove into one of the gluten-y beasts, when I realized this would be the thing that would kill my gluten-free resolve if I did not find a replacement AND SOON. Enter: Udi's.

I found them in the frozen section of my Stop N Shop and decided to give them a shot. Very simple - put them in the toaster, let them heat on up or toast to your liking and add the topping of choice. I have had Earth's Balance buttery spread, honey, jelly, all different types of nut butters (when looking for a little more protein in my quickie breakfast), and one morning, when I had more time on my hands, I even made myself a nice egg sandwich.

Udi's has a lot of gluten-free products to choose from and they are even nice enough to give you a coupon! Check out the Udi's Gluten-free site to get your $1 off coupon right now.
  
Gluten Free Waffles & French Toast

Don't put that toaster away yet! (These are quickie-breakfast options, don't forget.) My first ever gluten-free quickie breakfast buy was Nature's Path frozen waffles. These are quick, yummy and with the right syrup just darn delectable! I prefer the Homestyle version myself, but there are options for you to choose from (Buckwheat Wildberry or "Mesa Sunrise").


On the Nature's Path website, you can check out all the other gluten-free products available, including a number of kid-friendly bars and snacks.

Another company to take note of is Van's Natural Foods. They also have their own gluten-free waffle options (I have not yet tried them), as well as gluten-free french toast. The Cinnamon French Toast sticks smelled absolutely wonderful as they warmed up in my toaster (I am a sucker for the cinnamon scent!). While the "toast" itself seemed thinner than your average slice of bread, it was large in flavor. I will be getting these again. To see what other products Van's has to offer, or where you can buy your own French Toast, check out the Van's Natural Foods website.

Cereal!!


Nothing says you're crushed for morning time like a good old bowl of cereal. I have come to like Barbara's Gluten free Honey Rice Puffins. I usually have them with either my hazelnut milk or almond milk, but, again, this is up to your own liking (and restrictions, if you have any). You can check out Barbara's bakery's website for more information on their product offerings, coupons, recipes and even a link to their appearance in a Bon App├ętit article on healthy cereals.

Barbara's is not, by far, the only gluten-free cereal on the market. (Here is an article about various gluten-free cereals from About.com.) Also, while there are many labeled gluten-free cereals, don't forget the old standbys that just may be gluten-free by default. To illustrate this point, you made have noticed the recent ad campaign by Chex cereals stating, "Hey guys! Wait a second - many of our cereals are gluten-free, too!!" The point is read ingredient labels, and, to be extra vigilant, call the company of any non-labeled cereal that you would like to try out (always double-check for possible cross-contamination if you have a sensitivity or intolerance!).

Et Cetera...

As we get swept up in doing our capitalist duty of buying packaged products from the local supermarket, let's not forget all the other gluten-free wonders on the go in the produce aisle! Please don't forget your fruits, nuts and seeds that are always ready and waiting for you to just gobble them up no matter how crunched for time you happen to be.  Most require little to no preparation (a rinse, a peeling, maybe...) so they are the quickest, cleanest breakfasts that you can find and they are gluten free! So get out there and start finding out which fruits are your favs and make sure you always have them on hand.

What is YOUR favorite breakfast on-the-go?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TAKE ACTION TUESDAY: Let the EPA Regulate Factory Farms!

Since the beginning of this blog, I have been largely concerned about the nature of the factory farms prolific in the food industry. I feel as though it may be at the root of the problem of our food safety, many of our environmental issues and, perhaps even some of our health issues. However, I can say none of these things with confidence, nor can I dispute them with as much because the effects of this type of farming continue to be under dispute without an unbiased third-party evaluator present.

It is for this reason I was happy to find a petition to "Tell the EPA It's Time to Regulate Factory Farms" over at the Food & Water Watch website.

To get an idea of how prolific these factory farms have become, and some of the risks associated with their presence, you can check out the Factory Farm Map on the Food & Water Watch site. Here is a mini version of the map that you can add on your website, if you have one, too. Get the embed code on the site.



Actions to take right now:
  • Check out the Factory Farm Map for the country, your state and filter by various types of animals
  • Sign the petition
  • Tell a friend, or lots of friends via Twitter, FB or StumbleUpon

Monday, January 17, 2011

Five Must-Reads For Maintaining Your New Healthy Self

You made a commitment to yourself to eat better, lose weight, get in shape and/or just feel healthier.  It is a beautiful thing to do for yourself, but I know the hard work that really is! If you are feeling overwhelmed, out of ideas or just plain unmotivated, here is a list of some helpful reads to get you moving back in the right direction.  

1. You Are How You Eat

What you are eating is a very important part of the equation, but too often the how part is overlooked. This first read is a  reminder from Mark Sisson that what you eat isn't the end of the equation. Take a moment to read this post to see how you should be eating for the ultimate healthy meal. 

2. 13 Health Foods That Aren't

This is a really important article to check out if you recently started making changes to your your food purchases in favor of "healthier" options. Very often we are lured into buying things that are not so healthy, or at least not much of an improvement based on some wisely selected marketing tools. Check out this list by Michelle Madden of The Sweet Beet to make sure you are eating what is best for you!  

3. Bob Greene's 5 Ways to Keep Weight Off

How many amazing weight losses have you had? I have a number of acquaintances that can tell me exactly what they need to do to peel off 10 pounds once they "get back on the program." If it were just talk, I wouldn't bother mentioning it, but I have witnessed this happen year after year, season after season, whenever they "need" it, but I am always left wondering - why did they need it again?! As a recent guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Bob Greene came to present what he believes are 5 keys to success in maintaining weight loss. Luckily for us, the show decided to post the list online so we can continue to garner its wisdom.

4.  How To Afford Healthy Food  

One of the things that often has us all turning our backs on our healthier lifestyles is the damage is does on our finances. Unfortunately, it always seems that the unhealthy eating options are the more economic ones! We end up sacrificing our physical health for the sake of our financial health. Well, thankfully, Sophie Uliano of the Gorgeously Green blog has eight easy to implement tips to help us all afford to eat healthy.  After this, we are simply running out of excuses!

5. Check Out FitBlogger!

OK, this is cheating, kind-of. I really wanted to find one or two resounding blog posts from FitBlogger to send you to, to get you motivated in your workout, thinking about nutrition or just to keeping you running through the winter, but I couldn't pick! And, honestly, there is always great stuff going on over there, so whatever day you decide to finally check this out, I believe there will be something timely for you.
    There you have it. I feel stronger already, don't you?
      
    Did any one of the recommendations above resonate with you more than the others?
     What other ways do you keep yourself healthy and motivated all year round?
    Do you have any tips you would like to share with fellow readers or myself?   

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    USDA Revamps School Lunch!

    It has been on the mind of so many for so long... Why are we feeding the kids that in school every day?! Whether you are a parent, a teacher, or just a student wondering why you could not be granted healthier options in your home away from home for just about 50% of every year, the topic of school food has been one of national embarrassment. There were always some schools and some programs that stood out like beacons of light showing what could be, what might be, but it seemed that the school food industry at large was missing the point. That was, of course, until Thursday, January 13, 2011.

    The New Rules
    The USDA released new regulations for school breakfast and school lunch, outlining types of foods, calorie counts, fat and sodium content amongst a bunch of other details to adhere to that are all pointing in the right direction. Let's first take a look at the table that describes the basic breakdown of weekly meals for school aged children as outlined in their report:
    This chart is taken from a very long document called The Fedral Register

    The table has the foods outlined by weekly servings, so the lunch goal is that students in Grades K-5, for example,
    • will have 2.5cups of fruit per week with no less than 0.5 cup per day, 
    • 3.75 cups of vegetables per week, with no less than 0.75 cup per day,
    • 9-10 oz of grains per week, with no less than 1 ounces per day,
    • 8-10 oz of meat or meat alternates per week, with no less than 1 ounces per day,
    • 5 cups of fluid milk per week, with no less than 1 cup per day,
    • staying within a daily calorie range of 550-650,
    • less than 10% of calories coming from fat, 
    • no more than 640 mg of sodium per day, and
    • nutrition labels or manufacturer specifications must show ZERO trans fats.
    That's a lot to take in. God bless the cook! Personally, I get nervous when things get super-itemized, but I guess when working with such an enormous and varied industry, there has to be some way to regulate it.

    The Big Changes
    Here's the real question: How much better is this than what we had before? Well, the good people at the USDA even made a handy-dandy table for that! Check this out:
    Click image to make larger.
    The major improvements I see here are in the vegetables and the grains. We have moved away from merely "encouraging" schools to serve whole grains, to placing a minimum requirement of whole grains on the menu. As for the vegetables, I simply love what is going on there - VARIATION!! How wonderful! All different types of veggies: Dark green, Orange, Legumes and Starchy all have their own minimum requirements, and then there is even more flexibility allowed in the "Other" category. This is something that makes my soul smile.

    How It Translates
    We have looked at it in black and white, now the question is, what does this all end up looking like? A sample Elementary school menu has been constructed comparing the old school lunches to the new school lunches. Here is a clipping from it:

    I don't know how the kids will feel about it, but I am loving the extra fruit and veggies!


    Criticisms?
    I am completely overjoyed by the release of this news and I believe it is going to have an impact on the children that live through it, but I, in all good conscience, can not say that this is yet "perfect." So what are some of the pitfalls, or, rather, improvements for our future, that we can still keep our minds on?
    1. I can't find anywhere in The Federal Register any word about where these fruits and veggies are coming from. Are they locally grown, are they organic? Sarah Parsons of Sustainable Food summed it up well, "Phasing in more organics could have boosted kids' health, as pesticides have been linked to a host of health problems from cancers to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to reproductive problems."
    2. Marion Nestle of Food Politics adds another salient point about the sacrifice we make to meet the strict standards, "...the foods are accompanied by strangely tasting miracles of food technology such as reduced-fat mayonnaise, low-fat salad dressings, and soft margarines.  Why?  To meet nutrient standards." 
    3. And, finally, what about sugar? Why didn't any sugar regulations make it to the regs? When interviewed for Grist, Dr. Walter Willet, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School for Public Health, points a finger squarely at flavored milk.  "These highly sugared milks make absolutely no sense whatsoever," Willet told Ed Bruske in an interview. "The use of sugar as an important part of the diet makes absolutely no sense nutritionally, especially when obesity is the No. 1 health problem facing our nation." 
    So, of course, there is still more to be done, but, for now let us revel in our baby steps toward a healthier tomorrow. Our children will be presented with healthier meals which, in turn can help them become healthier humans to create an even healthier society and planet... life is good!

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Take Action Against GM Alfalfa

    You may be thinking to yourself: "Alfalfa? I don't eat that... What's the big deal?" Well, it is simple really, cattle eat it - both beef cattle and dairy cattle. Honeybees love it, and, with their help, the GM Alfalfa could cross-pollinate all over the place!  So, to preserve the organic crops we do have, take a minute to sign this petition and pass the link along to others who will do the same.



    In case you do not see the petition widget above, you can see and sign the petition here.

    GM Chickens to fight Flu, Why Not GM Humans?

    I don't mean to be facetious (or maybe I do), but based on yesterday's breaking news out of the UK I was left asking myself, "Why don't we do this to humans if it is such a good idea?!" It is a question of curiosity and accusation, I suppose. In case you haven't heard the news and you are wondering what I am talking about here, let me recap the story before I go on.

    Genetic Modification for the Greater Good 
     A team of scientists in the UK have bred the first Genetically Modified chickens specifically engineered to prevent the spread of the avian flu (H5N1). Here is the video from BBC World News that I saw yesterday:


    I was immediately intrigued by the idea. I do love science. I am not sure that comes across on this blog enough, but it is true. However, the debate is on: Is this the way to go? Questions begin to swirl and, I imagine, in the weeks and months to come, many will have their own opinions.

    Why Not Just Vaccinate?
    This was the first question I thought of, I mean, it is what we humans do, so don't we provide ourselves with the best protection available? The answer was staring me in the face, viruses mutate all the time, which is why we are always hoping we have the "right" flu shot for the year ahead. The genetic modification is engineered in such a fashion that the birds will adapt to the mutations and not spread the virus.

    How Modified Are These Chickens?
    According to those involved in the study, the only difference is in the flu protection.
    "Apart from their flu protection, the GM birds are indistinguishable from non- GM chickens of the same breed. Laurence Tilney of Cambridge university said they would be safe to eat.
    'The nature of the genetic modification and the decoy molecule makes it extremely unlikely that it could have any negative effects on people consuming the chickens or their eggs,' said Dr Tilney." (Financial Times "GM chickens boost hopes on Avian flu")
    When Will These Chickens Be In The Public Market?
    This study was released yesterday, January 13, 2011, in The Journal of Science. While it is breaking news, it is fairly early in the implementation phase. Many people have to be given time to absorb the results of the study, raise their own questions and decide which way to move from here.
    "Peter Bradnock from the British Poultry Council said the development should spark a new debate on the use of biotechnology. 'The most important thing is that society will have to decide if it wants this kind of technology taken to all farmed animals. We'd need to have this before farmers could think about taking it up,' he said.
    'I'm not talking about consumers in Britain. I'm talking about a broader debate, because this technology could have very important implications for global food resources and reducing the environmental footprint of animals. If you're keeping animals then you know they are going to survive and not be afflicted by really debilitating diseases which are endemic in some parts of the world.'"(Farmers Weekly Interactive "Scientists breed first GM chicken")
     In other words, the implications of a successful run in this study could be GM pigs, to save us from swine flu and then on to other animals in an effort to protect us from all disease.

    Who Funded The Study?
     According to most sources, the study was funded by an organization known as BBSRC, or "Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council …the UK's leading funding agency for academic research and training in the non-clinical life sciences." They, of course, have their own article about the big news they helped create, on their website. However, Nature.com also sites that Cobb-Vantress, a major international chicken-breeding company played a part in funding the study and has already stated that they will not fund any future studies after this one. It is suspected that this is due to a fear of public perception.


    Will Are Some of the Obstacles to this Becoming A Global Success?
    • Public aversion to GM food
    • This may not be feasible to poorer countries, according to Marc Van Ranst, a virologist at the Dutch-speaking Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium (Nature.com "Transgenic chickens curb bird flu transmission")
    •  Funding for further study
    • Farmer resitance - here is one quote of many I have found arguing simply for better farming practices: 
    "Tim Elsdale, who is an organic farmer in East Sussex, said it was better to adopt good farming practices to avoid animals getting diseases in the first place than to create GM farm animals. 'We don't suffer much from animal diseases on this farm,' he said.
    'Organic methods of husbandry doesn't encourage disease if the animals are well spaced enough. They live in a natural environment and they eat normal food then a lot of diseases that are prevalent on conventional farming would not be apparent to us.'" BBC News "World's first flu-resistant GM chicken 'created'")
     What Will The Consumers Think?
    Well, there we have it, ladies and gentlemen. In the end, Consumer is King. So, what do YOU think? 
    • At first glance, how do you feel about this GM chicken?
    • What are your reservations?
    • What are the benefits?
    • Do you think you will support the production of GM flu fighting chickens when the time comes?
    • Are you in favor of moving forward to GM swine flu fighting pigs?
    • Do your opinions about these genetically modified chickens differ than your opinions about GM salmon, or other GM food products?
    • If you raise your own chickens, are you hoping to get your hands on some GM chickens for your coop?

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    It's Our Turn to be The Wizard(s) FOR Oz

    Dorthy used a pail of water in the Wizard of Oz to defeat her nemesis, the Wicked Witch, in the famous Wizard of Oz. One pail of water took her down and Dorthy was free to explore Oz, find the "magical" wizard, and wake up safely in her home.

    The people of our own real-life Oz, Australia, are battling their own evil right now and the tables have somehow turned - it is not a Wicked Witch that plagues these good people, it is, in fact, Dorothy's saving grace - WATER and LOTS OF IT. I have been unable to turn away from the news of this region all week as this horror progresses day by day. I was mortified yesterday to hear the Prime Minister, when addressing the people of Queensland, say that it was only going to get worse. Unbelievable. If you have yet to see it, here is one video that was plastered all over the news yesterday:



    And, then last night, after praying and wondering about all of the Australian people I didn't know, I was reminded of the global nature of the Internet. I read the blog post of one of my BlogFrog blogging friends, Crafty Mummy. I completely forgot that she lives in the middle of all that madness! I couldn't just simply watch and pray anymore, I had to do something. So this it. My meager attempt at finding help in you.

    Taking my lead from Crafty Mummy, here are two ways you can help right now:

    Queensland Government Flood Relief Appeal This website is taking financial donation only at the moment (which makes complete sense to me). They are accepting both local and international donations and list a number of ways of doing so on the site. If you have any money to spare, please consider this worthy cause.

    Queensland Flood Appeal Auctions If you would like to have something to show for your donation, or are a fan of auctions, in general, than you may want to check these out. A number of bloggers are running auctions right now and sending their proceeds to the Flood Relief Appeal above. By clicking on the badge below, you will be taken to the Make It Perfect blog which is hosting its own auction and, by Monday, January 17th, will be posting a complete list of the bloggers participating in the auction.


    Photobucket

    I wish all our Aussies well - be safe, you will be in our prayers.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Getting REAL About Food

    After the holidays, in the month of renewing and rebirth of oneself, it is time for us to get REAL about our food, and to try to be as frugal as possible as we recover from our excesses. Here are three things I found out on the Internet that are going to help me toward that end in the weeks, months, and, yes, even years to come!

    From GOOD magazine, the "How to Cook Real Good Cheap Easy Food" Transparency, is one I am seriously thinking about printing out and hanging up in my kitchen:
    Click here to go to GOOD's Transparency
    here

    Second tool on the list comes from one of my favorite foodie bloggers on the net: Darya Pino from Summer Tomato. If you haven't started following Darya yet, then I highly recommend you do so. I have had her RSS feed on this blog from the moment I learned how to do such a thing! Anyway, enough with the gush! Darya created a flowchart to be used at the supermarket in order to find REAL food. I am going to give you a teaser of the flowchart, so that you definitely go to Darya's blog to witness her brilliance firsthand!
    For the complete image, check out the post at Summer Tomato
    Finally, I have a link of fun curiosity - the one ingredient ice cream! And, the key for me? It is both gluten-free and dairy-free! Curious yet?! It is a banana ice cream and I found it while stumbling around on StumbleUpon (my profile name is nrivera9, by the way, if you want to be SU buddies!). Here the picture of the delectable treat from Faith Durand at TheKitchn.com:
    Check out this recipe!

    Time for me to go throw some bananas in the freezer!

    Until next time... happy eating!

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Simply Organic Gluten Free Carrot Cake

    Jennifer Esposito, actress model and dancer, probably most known for her role in Samantha Who recently recounted the moment when her gluten-free diet nearly broke her. It was nine months after she was diagnosed with Celiac disease and she decided she wanted, no needed carrot cake. When I saw this interview, I yelled at the TV, "YESSSS!! Carrot cake!! Me too!!" I had been wanting carrot cake for MONTHS! Ms. Esposito, marched into her kitchen and, being a better natural baker than I, made it happen. I have been waiting for the release of her gluten-free cookbook and "Butter and Sugar" products that she has been perfecting ever since her carrot cake epiphany. In the meantime, however, I have finally found something in my very own Stop N Shop to satiate my own craving.

    Simply Organic Carrot Cake Mix. I had purchased their spices before, but I had no idea they were making cake mixes, let alone gluten-free cake mixes! It was so easy to make and so delicious that I have regular gluten-eaters asking for more! The only ingredients needed in addition to the mix were eggs (2), grated carrots (1 cup, which worked out to 2 carrots) and water, it was really simple. I decided to make carrot cupcakes instead of one large cake and I sprinkled them with powdered sugar rather than icing. Warm out of the oven was amazing, but they were still as tasty after they had completely cooled (I think I might have to grab another one after writing this post, in fact!).

    Other reasons besides the simplicity of the recipe and the amazing taste that this Simply Organic turned out to be such a cool find are:
    • the flexibility of their mix. While I am sure this is true of all mixes once you familiarize yourself with its flavor(s) and texture(s), the good people over at Simply Organic actually provided four different recipes to be used with the mix right on the box - carrot cake (of course), a quick switch for a spice cake, an Apple Carrot Cake (Vegan), and a Pumpkin cake. If you go to their website, there are even more..
    • As I suppose their name implies, the product is certified organic. 
    • The product is also fair trade certified. This is one label that has not yet been addressed on this blog and needs to be. The Fair Trade Principles are Fair Prices, Fair Labor Conditions, Direct Trade, Democratic and Transparent Organizations, Community Development and Environmental Stability. I, personally, can not think of a better set of principles to give my support to. To get more information about fair trade, or see where you can find it near you check out www.fairtradecertified.org
    So you're reading this and thinking, "Hmmm... carrot cake does sound good, maybe I should have some!" But I haven't even shown you any pictures yet!

    It started with a box and some carrots,
    then I got my pan ready.

    After some quick mixing, I poured my batter into my cupcake holders.
    About 25-30 minutes after baking, they came fresh out of the oven looking so nice.

    I decided to powder them up and put them on a tray for any and all visitors.

    Then I got to the serious business of having one myself!
    It has been over a week since resolution time, have you given yourself a treat yet?!
    Happy eating!

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Vegetables: Raw or Cooked?

    We all know that eating more vegetables is the key to a more balanced and healthy diet, however, how we should consume them in order to obtain the ultimate in benefits they provide may not be as clear. Over the last couple months I had been hearing and reading a lot about eating raw, so when thinking about eating vegetables I was leaning toward the idea that eating them raw might keep more of the vitamins and nutrients intact for my ideal consumption.

    I was wrong... sort of.

    It seems, when seeking the most healthy way to consume your vegetables - raw versus cooked - that the answer depends on (1) the vegetable that you wish to consume, and (2) the health benefit you most wish to obtain from your meal. Of course there is no simple answer because if there was, we would have all already known it by now! The list of variables and various vegetables one could possibly wish to consume is extensive, so I will start you off here with some of the biggie lessons I picked up in my studies today.

    The Good Stuff
    • Vitamin C If you have procured a particular vegetable with the intention of consuming it to obtain the benefits of its vitamin C content, then you will want to keep it away from the heat. Vitamin C is considered "unstable" and degrades when exposed to heat. Also, vitamin C dissolves in water, so boiling it is out also. Note: Before you give up on cooking your asparagus, tomatoes, bell peppers, and brussel sprouts (just to name a few!) it is important to remember that if not cooked for long periods of time, a vegetable with a high amount of vitamin C will still have some left over after preparation for you to consume (just not as much as it started out with). Also, you can still get a great raw serving of vitamin C from fruits in your diet.
    • Lycopene I was surprised by this. If you are not familiar with it, lycopene, found in tomatoes, is an antioxidant that has been discussed as a possible aid in the prevention of various types of cancer, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. Being born half Italian-American, there is no deficit of tomatoes in my diet, so I wondered which preparation would best serve me if I was looking for a lycopene fix. The answer - cooked tomatoes! It seems that while all tomatoes contain lycopene, during the cooking process the amount of lycopene actually increases because the cooking allows the tomato to change form and release some lycopene that might otherwise be trapped in the plant's cells.
    • Beta-carotene & Vitamin A When the antioxidant beta-carotene enters our body it transforms it into vitamin A for us, it seems, just like the lycopene, that cooking helps this process along. Vegetables like carrots, spinach, cabbage and others, should be cooked if you are looking to get the beta-carotene benefit from them.
    Some Suggestions
    • Eat Your Broccoli & Cook It Too As I am sure you have already puzzled out, this is something you should adopt for many vegetables, broccoli is just one example of a vegetable that has amazing benefits both raw and cooked. In its raw form broccoli contains a compound (sulforaphane) that has been said to help prevent cancer and stomach ulcers. When cooked it forms another compound (indole) that fights precancerous cells.
    • Don't Eat Them Alone For ultimate absorption, it is best to pair up vitamins and nutrients when possible, remembering this when you prepare your meals is great as well. For example, iron is difficult for our bodies to absorb on its own, but it has been shown that pairing it with vitamin C can help it reach our blood cells that need it, so why not have some hummus (source of iron) with some wedges of bell peppers (our RAW vitamin C!). Also, it has been said that pairing tomatoes with some fat helps with lycopene absorption, so drizzle some olive oil over those tomatoes while cooking them up!
    • Keep Those Veggies Out of the Water It seems that everywhere I looked for the "best" cooking techniques for gaining the greatest nutrition out of our veggies, led me away from the water. Steaming, of course, is highly recommended, however, sauteing and baking were also mentioned. When sauteing, no more than 5 minutes, and one shouldn't over-steam either, but I found no hard and fast "time rules" for steaming or baking.
    • Enjoy Your Vegetables Remember that vegetables are not supplements created to carry only one vitamin into your body, they are live things with a system in place that kept their lives going and now they are ready to pass that gift on to you - no matter how you consume them, you are sure to obtain some benefit from them, so prepare them in a way that will get you coming back for more. This raw vs. cooked debate is merely to decide which technique packs the biggest nutritional punch.
    It seems that I will be continuing to diversify my menu ~ a little raw, a little cooked ~ with hopes that I am making the "right" choices along the way!

    Some Resources Used for Today's Post:
    Scientific American 
    LiveStrong 
    The Dr. Oz Show

    Reader Question:
    What is your FAVORITE way to get vegetables into your diet?

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Making a Difference in the New Year

    Download eBook here
    A New Year's Read  
    I have never been one for New Year's resolutions. However, throughout every year I am always seeking ways to better myself and do what I can to make a bit of difference on this big planet. As 2010 came to a close I was made aware of an ebook on the Internet called Small Ways to Make A Big Difference organized by Raam Dev. I thought this might be exactly the kind of read I was looking for not just for the New Year, but also for my life. I downloaded it (for FREE), read it New Year's Day while I waited for all my house guests (and husband) to wake up, and I loved it.

    Why You Should Read It
    We all know that this is the "Lose Weight, Feel Great, Get Back in the Gym Week" for most folks. I believe that one reason that all three of these valiant efforts may not out live the month is because, at each of our cores, we are selfless souls and, therefore, have difficulty allowing ourselves the well-deserved "me-time" that the gym, losing weight and, sometimes, even feeling great require.Taking the time to check out Raam Dev's eBook, may hold the key to the small things that can be done to make a difference, helping to alieviate any guilt and, therefore, allow you to satisfy your own needs as well.


    What You'll Be Reading
    The book is a collection of over 100 ideas on ways to make a small difference in the world that Raam Dev collected from over 40 bloggers. The ideas vary and are all doable, but the thinking is that reading them should inspire you to either adopt an idea to implement, or come up with your own. Dispersed within the ideas are also inspirational quotes from all types of people of power, peace and passion.

    How You Might Want to Read It
    I highly recommend that you take the time to download this eBook. It is such an easy read and can be approached in a number of ways:
    • beginning to end to be overwhelmed by the amount of potential and hope there is in the human spirit,
    • go through the table of contents seeking topics that interest you and reading those ideas for inspiration, or
    • read one idea a day, so that the book and its spirit lasts throughout the year for you (I may re-read the book in this way!)
    If you love the book and want even more, it should be noted that Raam Dev has also created a Facebook Group to keep the conversation going beyond his book.

    What Happens After You Read
    I was excited as I read the book that so many of the ideas I read had been things I had been thinking about or doing already this year - eating local, be sustainable, take action, use a home water filtration system, eat veggies, vote with your money, give to charity, etc. However, there were other ideas that were so simple, that I had become complacent with - hold the door, smile, turn off the TV, etc. As life rolls along, it is easy to forget how it is the littlest things that often make the biggest difference in a day.

    I plan to be more mindful of these "little" things as my year moves forward. I believe that will help create a very joyful year to come. So, I guess, without intending it, I have made a New Year's Resolution after all - I resolve to be a better me this year!

    Special thanks to Meg over at the Be The Change Bookclub for recommending Raam Dev's eBook for January's read.

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