While I try to eat as many unprocessed, unrefined, whole foods as possible, I don’t do it all the time.
When I do eat something processed, I look for as short of an ingredient list as possible, one that contains ingredients a third grader can pronounce…and ideally has around 5 (not 42!) ingredients.
That’s why I like these!
Way Better Tortilla Chips
These are two of our favorite varieties of Way Better Chips!
Way Better chips contain 6 ingredients and are made from real foods like sweet potatoes, organic chia seeds, and sprouted quinoa, that are not genetically altered like almost every other snack food on the market today. The sprouting process that their ingredients undergo increases the nutrient value compared to grains and seeds that aren’t sprouted and makes them more easily digestible.
Noocho Cheese with Way Better Sweet Potato Chips – yum!
Another plus is that these chips are certified gluten-free, so if you have sensitivities to gluten or are gluten-intolerant, you can still enjoy them! 🙂
Way Better makes a lot of different varieties, but we like the Sweet Chili, Sweet Potato and Black Bean chips the best.
It’ll be worth the read to get to this dairy-free noocho cheese recipe at the end!
One of the reasons a lot of us don’t take the time to cook or try out new recipes is because we are afraid of failing, fearful that we will “mess it up” and that it will have been a waste of money on food.
We’ve all been there, right?
I often experiment with recipes I’ve never made before and ingredients I’ve never used. I learn what I like through trial and error and take the “will this really taste good?” guesswork out of it for you 🙂
As I continue to focus on a dairy-free lifestyle because of how much better I feel eating this way, I’m sometimes challenged to find comparable alternatives to dairy-based favorites.
In my last post, I shared one of the key ingredients I now use in my cooking to impart some “cheesy” flavor. I promised that one of the recipes I would share with you would be a dairy-free nacho cheese sauce (AKA “noocho” cheese, since nutritional yeast or “nooch” is what gives it its “cheesy” taste).
Most of the time when I prepare new recipes, they turn out great and taste delicious, and I can’t wait to share them with friends and family.
We served it with our favorite healthier chips, which I will share more about in my next post! I enjoyed some leftover sauce the next day with baby carrots. You have to try this!
*There’s a good chance that a couple of things in this recipe aren’t already in your pantry…don’t let that stop you! Ordering online at Amazon or Vitacost is super easy, or you can pick them up the next time you’re at the store.
If you don’t know where to find something, ask. I’ve found that people are happy to help!
Tahini (find in the international section of most grocery stores, in any natural food store, or online.)
Roasted red peppers (sold in glass jars in the non-refrigerated section of the grocery store)
Nutritional yeast (you can buy this online at Amazon, Vitacost or other retailers, or at any natural food store, Wegmans, Whole Foods, MOMs, or Roots)
Despite the fact that I was a lifelong lover of dairy products like yogurt (ate it every day!), ice cream, string cheese, and Parmesan cheese, I cut out dairy products a couple of years ago.
It turns out that dairy products were triggering a number of health issues I had for most of my life – from allergies, congestion, sore throats, ear infections, indigestion and acid reflux to skin issues, gas and bloating. I used to get congested frequently, had chronic ear infections (which meant lots of antibiotics), and took Claritin and Zyrtec for seasonal allergies, along with reflux reducing meds like Prilosec (for 10 years!).
For me, cutting out dairy has been one of the keys to begin healing my body, not being sick so often (almost never!)…and getting off of those medications naturally. It’s been pretty amazing!
Check out my *NEW* Pinterest board – Deliciously Dairy Free – for additional articles on the topic as well as dozens of recipes for non-dairy alternatives to foods like cheese, cheesecake, ice cream, milkshakes, dips and dressings. I will be featuring many of them in upcoming blog posts, so stay tuned!
One of the questions people often ask me is, “How do you live without cheese? I could never give up cheese.” The short answer is there isn’t an “exact” match, BUT I’ve found some great options to use as replacements!
One of those foods is nutritional yeast (AKA “nooch”).
Nutritional yeast! I bought this kind at Wegmans, but you can also get it at Whole Foods, MOMs, Roots, or online at Amazon, Vitacost or other health food retailers.
A few years ago, I had never even heard of nutritional yeast and certainly wouldn’t have guessed it was something edible. This is kind of like the eggplant naming question…couldn’t they have picked a more appealing name??
Despite its odd name, this stuff has been a staple in our pantry for the past 3 years. You can find it online, or at Wegmans, MOMs, Whole Foods, Roots, or other natural food stores.
Here’s the 411 on why you might want to get yourself some “nooch”!
This has been one of the most read posts on my blog. I’ve summarized most of it in this video, so feel free to check it out and read below for the full “concoction” recipe and links to learn more.
Sometimes the scientific evidence for something is lacking but anecdotal evidence is strong. That’s the case with what I’m about to share. You’re going to have a hard time finding someone who is going to be eager to fund research about the health benefits of a natural product like raw apple cider vinegar (ACV).
No one stands to benefit financially, which is the opposite of what happens in the case of pharmaceutical research when drug companies benefit.
I swear by ACV as a “cold kicker” and immune booster, which is largely anecdotal but is supported by the experiences of my family, friends, peers and others online.
Apple cider vinegarhelps stabilize our blood sugar by slowing what is known as “gastric emptying,” or the rate at which food leaves our stomach. If it takes longer for food to exit our stomach, we will feel fuller longer!
Not only that, but the main substance in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid, and it has been found to kill bacteria and prevent bacterial growth. This is one of the reasons, in addition to its digestive supportive properties, that ACV is often implicated as an immune booster. Anything that supports digestive health, boosts our overall health and well-being.
Bragg’s Raw, Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar with “The Mother” – this is the bottle to buy!
Regular apple cider vinegar is clearer and kind of looks like apple juice; it’s been filtered. The good stuff (Bragg’s) contains some cobweb-like stuff at the bottom of the bottle called “The Mother,” which is made up of raw enzymes and bacteria that promote digestive health, as they feed the good bacteria in our gut.
I started using this stuff about two years ago when I first came off of the acid reflux medication I had been taking for almost 10 years. Since then, I’ve been using it as the base for an energizing morning drink and whenever I start to feel like I’m coming down with something. I also love using it in salad dressings and to add flavor to a pan of sauteed greens.
My dad – a 67-year-old, 6-time Ironman triathlete – swears by it and calls it “the concoction.”
My Ironman dad swears by Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and “the concoction”
The moment he feels a tickle in his throat or a cold coming on, he throws back one of these drinks (recipe below) and says it prevents his symptoms from progressing! My husband and I do the same thing, and it really does work for us. While there is no research in the scientific literature to support those claims, we’re not the only people experiencing them. Bragg’s has a list of customer testimonials on their website.
The “concoction” doesn’t taste amazing, but chances are, you’ve at least had a shot of something that didn’t taste great but drank it anyway, right? Try it for a week or two each morning and see if you notice a difference.
There isn’t an exact science to the recommended amount to drink, but two teaspoons seems to be the magic number.
*Because the acidity of the lemon juice and vinegar can potentially soften tooth enamel ALWAYS make sure you drink this with a straw AND rinse/swish your mouth with plain water after drinking it and BEFORE brushing your teeth.*
This is not intended to be medical advice. If you have questions or concerns about using apple cider vinegar or are currently taking medication to control blood sugar or insulin levels or stomach ulcers, talk with a naturopathic or functional medicine practitioner, which you can find here and here.
To protect your teeth, drink this with a straw. You can find fun glass straws here.
Alwaysdilute ACV with water and avoid brushing your teeth immediately afterwards, so you’re not scrubbing the acid into your teeth. Rinse your mouth with plain water after drinking this as an additional protective step.
Ingredients for “the concoction”
Have you used ACV before? Feel free to share how you like to you use it in the comments below!
I love peanut butter and chocolate…especially when they’re together.
It’s pretty tempting to take a spoon right to the jar, isn’t it? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t do that at least once a week 🙂
Have you ever had those crunchy chocolate-covered peanut butter balls made with Rice Krispies? The recipe usually calls for a cup of refined sugar, margarine and vegetable shortening. That combo is an inflammation nightmare for your body! I wanted to find a healthier alternative that still had a similar flavor and texture but without all the not-so-good-for-us ingredients.
The combination of crunchy rice cereal, creamy peanut butter, sweet maple syrup and chocolate means these little bites won’t last long. Bring them to a party or just make them for your friends and family. They’re definitely a crowd pleaser!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Balls
Ingredients for these bites of pure peanut butter bliss!
1 cup 100% natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
In my last post, I shared what it means for a food to be considered “organic” and why it’s important to eat organic food as often as possible. Be sure to check it out if you missed it!
Maybe you’re thinking, “Ok, so I get that it’s better for my health to eat organic, but it’s too expensive! I can’t afford it.”
My mission today is to show you how eating organic, nourishing foods is not only doable but affordable, too! Visiting Community Organics would be well worth your time if you are serious about making the switch to organic produce.
1) Plan Your Meals
I know, I know.
I realize this isn’t the most glamorous recommendation, but it will save you a LOT of money. I actually wrote a whole post about how to plan your meals and keep them exciting. The post includes some of my favorite tools and services to use to make it easier, AND my top tips for stocking your pantry, so you will always be prepared to make a nourishing meal at a moment’s notice. To learn more about my six tips for meal planning made easy, click here.
2) Get savvy and buy selectively organic
Download the Dirty Dozen app for your phone
Certain fruits and veggies, known as the “Dirty Dozen,” are the most contaminated with pesticides. Other fruits and veggies are less likely to have pesticide/chemical residues, so they’re called the “Clean 15.” Download this app on your phone for a FREE guide that shows each list! If we don’t have the option to buy something organic or are just looking to save a buck, we buy the Dirty Dozen organic and save money by buying the Clean 15 conventional (non-organic).
3) Support a farmer & buy local
Bill and I have used a service called Hometown Harvest that delivers a customized bag of locally sourced fruit, veggies, and eggs to our doorstep every Friday morning for about $45. About 95% of everything they offer is organic (some items aren’t possible to find locally and certified organic in certain seasons), and is all produced and harvested with the help of good quality equipment (such as that found on fastline) and hard work from the local farmers. They also sell organic animal products.
Another local service that does something similar and has been featured on Shark Tank is called Hungry Harvest. I love what they’re about:
1 in 5 fruits and veggies go to waste because of aesthetic imperfections or logistical inefficiencies.
We believe that no fresh produce should go to waste. That’s why we save this delicious produce and deliver it to your door.
If you don’t live in the Baltimore Metro/DC/Frederick area and can’t access these services, you can find a farmer’s market or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share near you by visiting LocalHarvest.org.
One of our weekly deliveries from Hometown Harvest
4) Focus on frozen
9 times out of 10 the organic frozen produce at the store is cheaper than fresh, especially if the fruit or vegetable is out of season. Stock up on frozen produce, especially when it’s on sale! This includes everything from frozen fruit and veggies to frozen grains like rice and quinoa. Which brings me to my next tip…
5) Stock up and save at wholesale clubs
We have a membership to BJs Wholesale Club and stock up on 3-pound bags of organic frozen berries and tropical fruit for only $10 per bag! We also get a big bag of frozen spinach there, too, and use the fruit and veggies in our morning smoothies. It’s so much cheaper than buying individual organic frozen bags at the grocery store. Memberships to places like BJs, Sam’s Club and Costco are around $45-60/year, and the savings we get on frozen fruit alone makes it worth it. They are selling a lot more organic products these days, so you can save big time by stocking up!
6) Shop online
When I’m buying things like smoothie add-ins (maca powder, chia seeds, flax seeds, etc.), I shop at Amazon because I get free 2-day shipping with my Amazon Prime Membership OR I shop at Vitacost – another great site for saving money on healthy and organic foods your grocery store may not carry (or charge too much for!). A few other websites to check out are LuckyVitamin and Thrive Market.
Yup! It might sound crazy, but you can get great deals on foods like chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa, coconut oil, Way Better chips, and other healthy foods at your local Home Goods home furnishings store. They will always be sold at a discounted price. I’ve snagged some great deals there!
Coconut oil at Home Goods for much less than retail!
8) Use coupons
Simply Organic, which makes spices, seasoning mixes and baking mixes always has coupons on their website here – sometimes more than a dollar off! Whole Foods has coupons here every week for various products throughout the store. MOMs and Roots Market have seasonal coupon books in their stores that we use to save money each time we shop.
Trader Joe’s doesn’t have coupons but they have great prices and a decent organic selection. I’ve found that I get better deals on organic products at those stores, probably because they buy a greater volume of organic products than standard grocery stores and can charge less.
9) Last but not least…Grow your own!
Unfortunately, I was not blessed with a green thumb, so I haven’t made this leap yet, but I plan to start by growing my own herbs this spring. It’s so much cheaper to grow herbs, veggies, and fruit yourself than to buy them each week. If you grow them yourself, you can do so without harmful chemicals. If you do decide to, it might be smart to stock up on tools and a space to keep them. Some people have found great deals when looking for repo sheds for sale. So keep your eyes out on a nice shed so you can get the right tools together to grow all the food you love!
Check out this link for some basic herb gardening tips and this one for organic gardening 101 tips.
A faithful blog reader recently made this comment,
“There are so many conflicting “facts” out there it is often hard to know what is right. Maybe you could do something about organic foods sometime. That label seems to be everywhere.”
Look no further than today’s post (and the following one) for what you need to know about organic food.
The idea of switching to buying and eating organic food really intimidated me at first and wasn’t something I thought I could do or needed to do. But who knew that if you looked hard enough you could find pretty much eveything you’d want, in organic format, like organic drinking chocolate australia!
Did it really matter if something was organic or not? What did it mean if something was labeled “organic”? How could I afford it?
Trying to overhaul everything at once was overwhelming, so I made changes when I was ready over a period of time. A great place to start is getting your own chickens, take a look at these backyard chicken coops if this is something you’re considering.
In today’s post, I’ll be clearing up what “organic” means and why eating organic matters. I’ll also share some helpful tips and guidelines that I wish I had known years ago! Check out this video for the scoop or scroll down for a written summary.
In addition to what I learned through my health coaching training, one of the key drivers for why I started embracing organic eating was the documentary Food, Inc. It’s powerful and eye-opening. You won’t look at food the same way again after watching it!
Order it on Amazon or check it out on Netflix or Amazon Prime!
Before I delve into what organic means, I want to make one point super clear. Don’t let lack of access to organic fruits and vegetables deter you from eating them. Dr. Micheal Greger, found of NutritionFacts.org and author of the book How Not to Die drives this point home time and time again. He advocates for doing whatever it takes to “stuff your face” with as many veggies as possible, even if they are not organic. His research highlights the lack of evidence showing a significant difference between the vitamin and mineral content of organic vs. conventional produce but does reveal higher antioxidant activity in organic vegetables.
The main reason consumers purchase organic food is due to concerns about the health and safety of their family. Much of our food supply (especially produce) has been raised and grown with the help of man-made pesticides, herbicides and insecticides that kill off creatures, critters and other environmental threats that would otherwise harm our crops. Companies can use proper storage means (like those from Storemasta) to help with this, but even so many people want to do more.
People who live or work in areas with high pesticide exposure tend to have higher rates of a variety of chronic health conditions, including brain anomalies, with children being the most susceptible. Unfortunately, long-term clinical studies about the effects of pesticides and genetically modified foods on humans are lacking, so we are a little in the dark at this point.
Because these synthetic chemicals haven’t been around that long and we haven’t studied their long-term health effects on humans, I choose to eat organic as often as possible as a precautionary measure.
Despite the mounting evidence to do so, even thinking about “going organic” can be overwhelming and confusing. Want to see what organic foods are available? Wholesome Hub are an organic food store you should definitely check out if you’re going organic. Here are a few tidbits of information that should help!
Look at the PLU code number listed on the sticker on fruits and vegetables. Any 5-digit sequence that starts with the number “9” is organic. Organic bananas will read “94011.” If the sticker has 4 digits, it was grown “traditionally” with the use of pesticides (i.e., conventional bananas will read “4011”).
Organic foods cannot be made with genetically engineered ingredients (AKA GMOs). This is a huge plus because we haven’t been eating genetically engineered food long enough to know the long term health risks, so it’s best to steer clear of GMOs. Click here to learn more about GMOs and how you can benefit from eating GMO-free foods.
Animal products (like chicken, eggs, butter, milk) are the most important to buy organic because of the combined risk of pesticide, antibiotic and cancer-causing growth hormone exposure. Whatever you do, do not skimp here. Bill and I eat fewer animal products than we used to, so it evens out – pay more for better quality and spend about the same as you would eating more of the non-organic animal products.
When it comes to fruits and veggies, refer to the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen. The “Dirty Dozen” are the fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated with pesticides, and the Clean 15 are least likely. So, if you have to make a choice, buy the Dirty Dozen organic and the Clean 15 conventional (non-organic). Download this free app on your phone to learn more or check out this website for the full lists.
Keep in mind that “organic” doesn’t always mean healthy. The key thing to remember about processed organic food is this – it’s still processed. One of the most important changes we can make to have more energy, lose weight, and prevent illness is to reduce our intake of processed foods – organic or not!
Want to learn more about eating organic? Check out the infographic below or visit the helpful FAQ on this website.
Ingredients for this delicious dish 🙂 I made half the recipe, since I didn’t have enough Brussels sprouts!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of Brussels sprouts…and I don’t mean the overly cooked, steamed or boiled kind. Roasting and sautéing these little cancer-fighting cabbages is the best way to make them taste absolutely delicious and turn haters into followers!
I tried a new recipe this week from my favorite blog, Nourishing Meals. It’s a variation of one that I’ve made roasted, but this time it was sautéed. This recipe has become another favorite of mine, as it includes Brussels sprouts, shallots, cranberries, and nuts, which are all anti-cancer, anti-fat storage GBOMBS foods.
The combination of the slightly bitter Brussels sprouts,sweet shallots,tart cranberries, buttery pecans and a hint of salt packs this dish with flavor!
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Shallots, Cranberries & Pecans
This recipe takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish. I made a few modifications and used pecans instead of the sliced almonds and added some garlic because garlic makes everything taste better!
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (add these in when you add in the Brussels sprouts)
2 pounds Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon Herbamare or sea salt (you can find Herbamare at any natural food store or online)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, naturally sweetened if possible
When I was in college, I was known by some of my friends as “Betty Crocker.” In addition to making chocolate chip cookies the size of your face, I was known for baking cookies and cream brownies on a fairly regular basis for my husband’s fraternity brothers. They were always a huge hit!
Even though I cook and bake differently today, it’s important to me that healthier baking doesn’t mean “boring” or “bland” baking. There’s no sense in eating healthy food if it tastes like cardboard, right? The goal to is to make (and then eat!) nourishing food that tastes delicious!
Last night, while Bill and I were watching The Voice, I brought him one of these chocolatey treats to sample, and he quickly gave it the hubby seal of approval. About a half hour later, he asked me if I needed him to sample another one. That was the sign I needed to know that these brownies were winners!
They are full of flavor, have a nice cakeytexture, and smellamazing when they’re baking in the oven. We’ll be sharing them with our small group tonight 🙂
Chocolate Walnut Brownies (Gluten-Free!)
Prepping all of the ingredients for these yummy chocolatey brownies!
2 cups raw walnuts (don’t have walnuts? you can use pecans instead)
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