GMO OMG

I watched this film the other day and renewed my disgust and dismay over the damage being done by GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) to our health and to the environment.

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At the start of the film we learn about the people of Haiti who refused seed donated by one industry giant and had the insight to recognize the motive behind this donation. They wanted to continue planting their own seeds, retain their right to those seeds, and not become indebted to the industry giant.

You may or may not have heard about the battles being fought over our Right to Know and to mandate labelling of GMOs. The fact that we are still fighting for the simple right to know what we are putting in our bodies and what we are feeding to our families while many other countries have enjoyed this right for years is frustrating and downright shameful.

The industry argues that there will be added cost to change the labels but the items they export to other countries are already being labelled! And they argue that if people see “genetically modified” on the label they won’t want to buy it. Doesn’t that prove that people don’t want GMOs and/or don’t trust that they are safe? Few long term studies have been done on the impacts of GMOs and one such study that is discussed in this film was later discredited for questionable reasons.

This film also reminded me of he sad truth that many people are not even aware of what is happening to our food supply. Have you ever asked your family members, friends, or coworkers if they know what a GMO is? Or if they are aware that 80-90% (or more!) of corn, canola, soy, cotton, and sugar beet crops are genetically modified?? And that over 80% of packaged goods contain GMOs???

We need more education and awareness around this topic and it seems we the people need to be the ones to spread the word. Watch this film and share it with your community.

To get the movie or learn more about it go to gmofilm.com

Related:
GMO Quick Info

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Cheers to Spectators!

After months of training this past Sunday the BIG event had finally arrived … the marathon. My friend and I had both had a bit of a rough training cycle, so we had vowed to stick together through thick and thin. We both had our fears that the other would change the plan and decide not to run together. My friend thought I would slow her down, and after coming down with a cold a few days before the race I seriously questioned whether I could finish – and if I would have to tell her to leave me behind.

We had a plan to start slow and try to finsh strong. During the first few miles we were going a bit faster then planned but still slower than “race pace” so we felt pretty good. But over the miles things began to wear and we ran into a few challenges, and while taking a walk break I got a bit chilled and actually put my jacket back on.

I’ve always been thankful to the people who take time out of thier weekend to come and cheer for random strangers running by – but as I was feeling the chill in the air it struck me again. “Spectators are really awesome,” I told me friend as I looked around at the cheering crowds with colorful entertaining signs. “Keep going!”, “You’re doing great!” they yelled as we passed.

I’ve had the opportunity to cheer for others at races, and I have to say – it is no small task! To be out there for a few hours constantly clapping and cheering and shouting words of encouragement is DRAINING! During the colder months you are also enduring cold fingers and toes and faces! You expend loads of energy giving it to those passing by who snatch up every bit of encouragement they can to keep pushing forward.

As they say, energy is not created or lost, it just changes form. I’ve felt the boost from a cheering race fan or high-fiving kid! It can bring the smile back to your face and push you a bit further down the course to the next group of cheering supporters.

If you haven’t been to a race as a spectator I highly recommend you try it. It’s inspiring and uplifting AND you will make someone’s day as you make eye contact and tell them how awesome they are as the run by.

So to all the runners out there, respect and appreciate the spectators for all they do for us on race day!

And to the spectators, hats off to you! You ROCK!! The race wouldn’t be the same without you!

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Help! I’ve Been Greenwashed!!

Have you heard the term “Greenwashing” yet?

I was talking with a friend and venting about my frustration with companies that present themselves as being very health conscious, and their products as natural, safe, and non-toxic only to find on closer inspection that either the products are loaded with chemicals, or they are unwilling to disclose the ingredients claiming that this information is a “trade secret”. My experience with ethical and truly Eco-friendly health conscious companies has been that they are proud to show their ingredient list because they know that their informed consumers will like what they see. When I brought up two companies in particular she directed me to one of her favorite bloggers, EcoFriendlyMamaUSA, and her Greenwashers page: http://ecofriendlymamausa.com/product-reviews/greenwashers/

This page lists many companies that either explicitly or implicitly present themselves as green, earth friendly, health conscious companies and provides honest feedback and information based on the authors research and personal experience. (Both companies I was expressing frustration with are listed here as a couple of the worst.) She also references a couple of websites for the Environmental Working Group for looking up household products and cosmetics:
http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
These are both great resources to learn more about the products you may be using. Get familiar with these sites so you can do your own research!

Wikipedia defines Greenwashing as “a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.”

The color green has taken on meaning, implying a product is natural, plant based, and Eco-friendly, and often this color will be used to best advantage as well as images of nature (forests, mountains, streams, prairies, you get the idea) banking on the hope that you will assume the product is safe and natural … because it looks the part! Unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth in many cases. Turn these products over and you’re likely to be assaulted with a long list of unpronounceable scientific mumbo-jumbo.

Did you know most people have ingested or applied over 200 chemicals to their body before their morning cup of coffee?? Between the soaps, shampoos, conditioners, shaving gels, body washes, lotions, creams, styling products, ointments, toothpaste, mouthwash, supplements, and cosmetics it all adds up quickly! Think about a nicotine patch. Why does it work? Because the nicotine on the patch is absorbed through the skin and into our bloodstream. The same goes for every other product you apply to your body! Read the ingredients of your body cream or your face moisturizer – would you be comfortable eating it? If not then maybe you shouldn’t be slathering it on your body.

Next consider your household cleaning products – cleansers, polishes, pest products, disinfectants, deodorizers – so many chemicals! These can leech into your skin through direct contact during use, contact with the item the product was applied to, and through the fumes you breathe during use and as they linger for hours or even days. Did you know that you have a higher risk of asthma if you regularly use spray cleaners in your home?

The EPA website states: “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) [such as Formaldehyde] are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.”

With the advances of technology many of us are spending more time indoors, and we are breathing a steady supply of toxins from the gases of all of these products! Have you watched Chemericle yet?? Check out my review on Chemericle!

You CAN reduce the toxins you are exposed to on a daily basis – awareness is the key. In an earlier post I stated that my #1 health tip is to start reading labels. This doesn’t just apply to food! Start reading the labels on your personal care and household products, and if you’re not sure what something is, look it up. And green cleaning doesn’t have to be expensive – did you know vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice are very effective and economical cleaners? There are many books and websites with tips and recipes to make your own cleaner – just search “make your own green cleaning products”. Remember, you have a voice and you can vote every single day with the dollars you choose to spend or not spend on these products. Use your vote wisely!

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Will The REAL Healthy Snack List Please Stand Up??

If you’re like me you may often find yourself digging through your desk drawer in the afternoon or aimlessly wandering around your kitchen opening and closing cabinets in the evening. What is it I am in search of?? Oh, right, a snack! Of course there are differing opinions on snacking – some say it’s bad and will keep your body from using existing energy stores (fat!), some say it will rev up your metabolism to help you burn more fat.

There are 2 realities we must face:

1. Each person has their own unique biology and metabolism that will or will not function ideally with snacks. Some people function best on 3 meals per day, period. Others will do better with 3 smaller meals and 2 or 3 snacks. We all have to find what works best for our body.

2. Sometimes we just get the urge to snack! When this urge strikes, it is best to address it head on with a good quality nutritious snack rather than try to squash this urge and berate yourself resulting in feelings of guilt and shame! Associate snacking with negativity and we’re likely to ride that shame spiral full speed into a bag or neon orange cheesy corn chips (you know the ones I mean!) or a box of those cookies you bought from the neighbor kid!

So what’s the solution?

The best place to start is with a Pantry Clean-out!! Go through your pantry, cupboards, drawers, and refrigerator. Throw away all the tempting garbage – your go-to treats and snacks that you know are bad for you but you simply can’t resist! You won’t have to resist them if they don’t exist!

Next, re-stock with healthy options so you have a selection of easy quick nutritious snacks on hand. Having options readily available will give you an immediate snack solution – you can feel good about what you are eating and avoid any negative snack guilt.

So now the big question – what are some healthy snacks I can stock up on? I actually did a search online for “Healthy Snack Options” and as I browsed through the results I was appalled at what some very well known sites were recommending as healthy options. One site listed a whole selection of packaged items without a single simple produce item among the options (umm, apple anyone??). I was so disturbed by what I found that I decided to start my own list.

Now this list is by no means a comprehensive list and some of the items may be deemed more or less healthy depending on your own nutritional beliefs, but this is a list of a lot of my go-to healthy snacks and other options that I would feel good about putting in my body and recommending to others.

And BTW – I don’t believe in low-fat or fat-free options. Good fats are essential for optimal health and generally when fats are stripped from foods they are replaced with the ultimate evil, SUGAR!

My Top 25 Healthy Snacks:
1. Apple slices with Peanut Butter
2. Grapes – fresh or frozen!
3. Banana – fresh or frozen!
4. Clementine, Orange, Tangerine
5. Any kind of berries!
6. Plain Yogurt – add your own fruit instead of getting the kind with syrup-y “fruit”
7. Celery sticks with Peanut Butter and Raw Honey
8. Cucumber slices with Guacamole
9. Cherry Tomatoes
10. Sugar Snap Peas
11. Raw veggies with Hummus (Carrots, Cucumber, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Bell Pepper!)
12. Almonds, Pecans, Cashews, Pistachios – go for raw unsalted
13. Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds – go for raw unsalted
14. Hard Boiled Egg
15. Cottage Cheese with Peaches or Berries
16. Sliced Melon (Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Watermelon)
17. Raisins, Prunes, other dried fruits – go for unsulfured
18. Fruit Smoothie – Banana / Mango is my favorite quick fix!
19. Pickles or Olives
20. Whole Wheat Pita with hummus
21. Whole Wheat Crackers with Sardines or Tuna
22. Whole Grain porridge – Brown Rice, Quinoa or Oats with Almond milk and fruit!
23. Homemade Trail Mix (I make mine with Cashew pieces, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Raisins, and a few Dark Chocolate chips!)
24. Date Balls (check out my recipe for Death by Fudgy Date Balls!)
25. Any other Whole Food or Whole Food recipe!!

Bag the guilt and enjoy a healthy snack!!

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#5 Tip for Better Health

Move your body!  Remember that old saying “Move it or lose it”?  That applies to your body as well!  If you want to stay mobile, be mobile!

Exercise has so many great benefits – it improves your mood, reduces stress, strengthens your heart, helps control your weight, and more!

What is the best exercise for you?  One that you ENJOY!  Some people like the solitude of running or walking alone, while some like to join clubs to meet other people.  Some enjoy the group atmosphere of an organized class like spinning, Zumba, or yoga.  And some prefer sports or activities like softball, basketball, ice skating, or gardening.  Whatever it is that motivates you to get active and stay active – THAT is the right activity for you!

How often should you exercise?  There are so many varying opinions on this.  Ideally you should aim for 30-60 minutes per day of some type of activity.  Often life gets in the way of our ideal goals, so set your minimum expectation to 30 minutes every other day.  If you can’t fit a full 30 minutes into your day in one chunk try breaking it up – 10 minutes 3 times per day or 15 minutes twice a day.  Take a walk around the block during your lunch break and then do some strength exercises before dinner – crunches, push-ups, squats, lunges, bicep curls and shoulder presses with weights.

Get creative!  Too cold outside?  Do laps around inside your office building!  Don’t have any hand weights?  Use soup cans or water jugs!

Make it fun for the whole family!  Turn on music and get everyone dancing!  Go sledding!  Play badminton in the yard!

Make exercise a part of your life and you will reap the rewards in you health and your happiness.

So, how are you planning to get active today?

Get Active

Kale Berry Power Smoothie

This power smoothie is packed with nutrients! Kale is high in vitamins A, C, and K as well as manganese, the berries are a wonderful source of antioxidants, and the banana is a good source of fiber, vitamins B6 and C, and manganese. Aloe juice provides anti-inflammatory properties along with the flax oil’s essential fatty acids. I like the Raw Fiber brand because it includes a good dose of good bacteria so it does double duty for digestive health!

Handful of baby kale or Lacinato kale
5 oz frozen mixed berries
1 banana
4 oz aloe juice
4 oz water
2 tbsp flax oil
1 scoop Raw Fiber (or your favorite brand of fiber powder)

Blend until smooth and enjoy!!

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Death By Fudgy Date Balls

This is a delicious no-guilt treat you can indulge in when sugar cravings strike.  There is no added sugar or other sweeteners – just nutritious real food!  I love, Love, LOVE these!  They do take a little bit of time to make, but trust me – it is SO worth it.  My husband thinks they look festive, so I decided I will be making these to share at Christmas time!  🙂  Multiply the recipe to make more for parties or just to store some extra in the freezer!

3/4 cup raw pitted Medjool dates
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup gojiberries
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
approx 1/2 cup additional unsweetened shredded coconut for coating

Soak dates and goji berries in warm water for 10-15 minutes to soften. Add all ingredients into food processor and process until dates are all chopped and mixture is even.

Transfer mixture to bowl, then pour the additional 1/2 cup of coconut onto a plate. Scoop out spoonfuls of the mixture and roll into about 1″ diameter ball and roll in coconut to coat. Add more coconut to plate for rolling as needed.  Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Makes about 16 date balls.

Enjoy!

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I <3 My CSA!

Well, this summer I finally did it – I joined a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and as a member you commit to supporting a local farm for the season, in sickness and in health. This means if they have a plentiful growing season, you reap the benefits in an abundance of fresh, local, beautiful (and organic if you choose an organic farm!) nutrient rich produce. And if the season is more troublesome (flooding, droughts, etc.) then you may not see as much produce that season.

The purpose of joining a CSA is not only to support your local farmers, but also to provide them a guaranteed income to free them from the added stresses of a constant need to sell and let them focus on growing and harvesting the best produce they can. It’s a wonderful thing to get weekly updates with information on the upcoming harvests and the progress of the new crops and to know where your food is coming from.

Each week I pick up my box of produce, which has been jam-packed lately as we are in the peak of the season, and I am astonished by all of the beautiful veggies (and occasional fruit) that I find inside as I unpack it – it covers my kitchen counter! Veggies have taken over the refrigerator and I have had a wonderful time experimenting with veggies I have never tried before. Fennel, asian eggplant, radishes, and kholrabi are now some of my new favorites – I know it’s crazy, but no, I had never tried a radish until this summer! The tomatoes taste like the ones I remember from childhood, and the melons are so fresh and delicious!! I could really go on and on…

So needless to say, I am a convert. I have already signed up for my winter share and I’m looking forward to some new items to try in the winter crops. I highly recommend joining a CSA in your area. It will make you feel connected with your local farmers and inspire you to try new healthy delicious dishes!

If you live in the Twin Cities area and would like to learn more about the CSA I joined, Featherstone Farm, you can visit their website for more info: http://www.featherstonefarm.com/

Or check out this website to find a CSA in your area: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

Here are a couple pictures from earlier in the season – the last few boxes have been even fuller!

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Autumn Veggies with Butternut Squash

This is a wonderful veggie dish for a cool fall night. The colors of the veggies remind me of fall, and the squash gives the dish a bit more substance. Makes great leftovers too!

1 med butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 white onion, diced
1 cup broccoli florets
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 red cabbage, sliced
1 asian eggplant, cut in half and sliced
8 oz white mushrooms, quartered
2 tbsp coconut aminos
1/2 tsp coriander
fresh ground pepper
pinch of sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 375. Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place face up in pan and coat flesh with olive oil. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until flesh is tender and easily pierced by a fork. Let squash cool as you prepare remaining veggies.

In a large skillet heat coconut oil on medium. Add minced garlic and onions and cook for a few minutes while you are dicing the peppers. Add broccoli florets and bell peppers and stir. Slice up cabbage and add to pan and stir. Cut up asian eggplant and add to pan and stir, then dice mushrooms and add to pan, stir again. Next add coconut animos, coriander, salt and pepper and stir well to distribute seasoning.

The butternut squash should now be cool enough to handle. Make cuts into the flesh lengthwise about 1/2″ apart, but do not cut all the way through. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and add it to the skillet with the other veggies. Once you have scooped out all of the flesh stir the veggies and the cook for a few more minutes.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Enjoy!

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Tangy Home Pickles

This is a great way to use up those extra cucumbers from the garden! These pickle slices are tangy and crisp – a terrific summer treat!

In a small saucepan add the following ingredients, stir and heat on high to bring to a boil:
3 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp turmeric

While brine is heating, prepare and add the following ingredients into 2 – 20 oz. jars (layer onion and cucumber slices to mix it up):
4 tbsp fresh dill, chopped (2 tbsp per jar)
4-6 garlic cloves, sliced (2-3 cloves per jar)
2 large cucumbers, sliced thin (divided between 2 jars)
1/2 red onion, sliced (divided between 2 jars)

Once brine starts to boil turn off the heat and let it cool a bit while you finish preparing the jars. Pour brine over contents in jars – fill to 1/2″ – 1″ below the top, or at least enough to cover the veggies. Let cool before covering, then store in the refrigerator. Allow pickles to sit a few days before enjoying.

Mmmmmm… Delicious!

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