Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Battle of the Frozen Treats: Sorbet vs. Ice Cream vs. Gelato vs. Fro-yo

If you’re going to splurge on a sweet frozen treat, which is your best option: sorbet, ice cream, frozen yogurt or gelato? And what are the differences anyway? Let’s break it down and end the battle of which frozen treat is healthiest, shall we?


Sorbet is made up of fruit juices, syrup and water. One cup of an all-fruit sorbet has 184 calories, 34 grams of sugar, 46.2 grams of carbohydrates and no fat. While no fat is good, sorbet is high in sugar and doesn’t have any calcium, like milk-based frozen treats do.

Ice Cream

Ice cream is made from milk, cream, sugar and egg yolk. One cup of vanilla ice cream, on average, has 267 calories, 32.5 grams of carbohydrates and 14.3 grams of fat. That mixture of cream and sugar makes this treat high in calories and fat. To put things in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends that total fat intake should be no more than 25% to 35% of one’s daily calories. Saturated fat should be limited to less than 7% of daily calories, and trans fat should be less than 1%.


Gelato consists of milk, egg yolk and sugar. The lack of cream that is in ice cream means that gelato can have less bad fats. However, what it lacks in fats, it makes up for in added sugar. A half cup of vanilla bean gelato, which is the recommended serving size for the treat, contains 204 calories, 9 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 25 grams of sugar.

Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt consists of yogurt instead of cream, which lowers its fat when compared to ice cream. While frozen yogurt is low in fat, the calories and sugar can be a problem. One cup of low-fat plain frozen yogurt is 214 calories, 2.9 grams of fat, 38.1 grams of sugar and 39.2 grams of carbohydrates. A cup of soft-serve fro-yo yields 235 calories and one cup of chocolate is 230 calories. Don’t forget that those calories don’t include toppings, which can range from the healthier, such as fruit, to the not-so-healthy, like cookie dough.

Women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, while men shouldn’t have more than nine. To put that into perspective, a can of soda contains around 8 teaspoons of sugar.


Low-calorie, fat-free and offering at least some "good" sugars from the fruit juice, sorbet is a tasty way to cool down in the summer. Just eat in moderation and look out for that sugar!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

6 Disturbing Side Effects of Chewing Gum

By Dr. Mercola

The US is among the top three countries with the highest rates of chewing gum consumption worldwide. In the US, 59 percent of people chew gum, surpassed only by Iran (82 percent) and Saudi Arabia (79 percent) (a primary reason why the Middle East may have more gum chewers than the US is because chewing gum is often given out by merchants in place of small change).

In the US, many people chew gum as a snack simply because they like the flavor or the distraction it provides. Some use it for stress relief or even a tool for reducing food cravings (this typically doesn't work, as I'll explain shortly).

But if you're a regular gum chewer, there's compelling evidence that this is one habit you're better off without. From its questionable ingredients to its impact on your teeth and digestion, chewing gum belongs right in the trash – not in your mouth.

Side Effects of Chewing Gum

Before you reach for another stick of gum, consider these rather disturbing side effects that gum chewing can cause.

1. Chewing Gum May Increase Your Junk-Food Intake

Many people chew on a stick of gum to reduce food cravings and, theoretically, help them avoid eating unhealthy foods. However, while research shows that chewing gum reduces your motivation to eat, your hunger and how much you end up eating, gum chewers' meals end up being less nutritious than those eaten by non-gum-chewers.

For instance, people who chewed gum were less likely to eat fruit and instead were more motivated to eat junk food like potato chips and candy. This is likely because the minty flavor in the gum makes fruits and vegetables taste bitter.

2. It May Trigger TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) in Your Jaw

Chewing gum can cause jaw muscle imbalance (if you chew on one side more than the other) and even TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder in your jaw, which can be a painful chronic condition. Anytime you overuse a certain set of muscles, it can lead to contracted muscles and related pain, including headaches, earaches, and toothaches over time.

3. Gastrointestinal Problems

Chewing gum causes you to swallow excess air, which can contribute to abdominal pain and bloating seen with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Further, when you chew gum you send your body physical signals that food is about to enter your body. The enzymes and acids that are activated when you chew gum are therefore released, but without the food they're intended to digest.

This can cause bloating, an overproduction of stomach acid, and can compromise your ability to produce sufficient digestive secretions when you actually do eat food. Some people may also have adverse gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, from the artificial sweeteners that are commonly found in chewing gum.

4. Tooth Damage – Even from Sugar-Free Gum

If your chewing gum contains sugar, you're essentially "bathing" your teeth in sugar while you chew away. This can contribute to tooth decay. Even if you chew sugar-free gum, there are still risks to your teeth because sugar-free gum often contains acidic flavorings and preservatives that may in fact lead to dental erosion, even if it contains cavity-fighting xylitol. Unlike cavities, dental erosion is a process of incremental decalcification, which, over time, literally dissolves your teeth.

5. Sheep Byproducts

Chewing gum often contains lanolin, a waxy substance that's derived from sheep wool, to help it stay soft. While not necessarily dangerous to your health, chewing on lanolin is not exactly appetizing.

6. Release Mercury From Your Fillings

If you have mercury fillings, you should know that chewing gum may cause this known neurotoxin to release from the fillings into your body. According to one study.

"…chewing gum has been shown to increase the release rate of mercury vapor from dental amalgam fillings… The impact of excessive chewing on mercury levels was considerable."

Every time you chew, mercury vapor is released and quickly finds its way into your bloodstream, where it causes oxidative processes in your tissues. If you chew gum, you're going to be chewing often, which is why it's particularly problematic for those with mercury fillings.

Chewing Gum Linked to Headaches in Teens

Teenagers are notorious for gum chewing and popping. If your child is a frequent gum chewer and suffers from headaches, you should know that a link has recently been established.

One study involved 30 daily gum chewers between the ages of six and 19 years. Each suffered from chronic migraine or tension headaches. After quitting gum chewing for one month, 19 of them had their headaches go away completely while another seven had a reduction in headache frequency and severity. Twenty-six of the children then started chewing gum again, only to have their headaches return within days.

The researchers believe the headaches may be linked to chewing-gum-induced TMJ, which may cause headaches. Past research has also suggested chewing gum may cause headaches via aspartame exposure.

Most Chewing Gum Contains Artificial Sweeteners

You might not pay much attention to the ingredients in chewing gum because, after all, it's not actually swallowed. But the ingredients, many of which are potentially dangerous, do enter your body, directly through the walls of your mouth.

As with the toxic ingredients in personal care products like lotion, which are absorbed directly through your skin and into your bloodstream, the ingredients in gum also get absorbed by your body quickly and directly, bypassing the digestive system that would ordinarily help to filter some of the toxins away.

One such type of harmful chemicals is artificial sweeteners, which are ubiquitous in chewing gum. Many people choose sugar-free gum on purpose, believing it to be healthier than other varieties. But even non-sugar-free brands may contain some sort of artificial sweetener. It is very unusual for them not to.

One of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners in chewing gum is aspartame. Aspartame is metabolized inside your body into both wood alcohol (a poison) and formaldehyde (which is a carcinogen used as embalming fluid and is not eliminated from your body through the normal waste filtering done by your liver and kidneys). It's been linked to birth defects, cancers, brain tumors, and weight gain.

Sucralose (Splenda), another common artificial sweetener used in chewing gum, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on only two human studies, the longest of which lasted only four days – even though animal studies found the sweetener was associated with decreased red blood cells (a sign of anemia), male infertility, enlarged kidneys, spontaneous abortions, and an increased death rate. You might also be surprised to learn that consuming artificial sweeteners can cause distortions in your biochemistry that may actually make you gain weight.

Studies looking at this issue show very clearly that artificial sweeteners may actually cause greater weight gain than sugar by stimulating your appetite, increasing carbohydrate cravings, and stimulating fat storage. Several years ago, I wrote a book called Sweet Deception, in which I expose the many concerns related to the consumption of artificial sweeteners. If you want to learn more, this book is an excellent place to start – especially if you're in the habit of chewing sugar-free gum.

Chewing Gum Ingredients to Avoid

Artificial sweeteners are only one reason to avoid chewing gum. Most brands also contain additional chemical ingredients that do not belong in your body. There are natural chewing gum brands on the market that do not contain these questionable ingredients, so if you must chew gum, look for these. However, keep in mind that even natural chewing gum will pose risks from excess chewing, including TMJ, digestive issues, and more.

1. BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)

BHT is so toxic it's already been banned in many other countries. In the US, it's often used as a preservative in chewing gum and other processed foods. BHT has been linked to organ system toxicity, including kidney and liver damage, hyperactivity in children, and may be carcinogenic.

2. Calcium Casein Peptone (Calcium Phosphate)

Found primarily in Trident gum, it's thought this ingredient may be used as a whitening agent or texturizer. As a highly processed milk derivative, little is known about its long-term ingestion, although casein was previously linked to baby formula poisonings in China and is a well-recognized trigger of autoimmunity.

3. Gum Base

It's quite a mystery what "gum base" is actually made out of, but the investigators found it's usually a blend of elastomers, resins, plasticizers, and fillers. Most manufacturers do not reveal more specifics than this. After all, why would they want you to know that you're potentially chewing on petroleum-derived paraffin wax, polyvinyl acetate (carpenter's glue) and talc, all of which are linked to cancer.

4. Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide is often used as a whitening agent in chewing gum, but it's been linked to autoimmune disorders, asthma, and Crohn's disease and is potentially carcinogenic – especially in its nanoparticle form. One study found children are highly exposed to titanium dioxide in confections, with chewing gum containing the highest levels.

Why Are You Chewing Gum?

I generally recommend that you shouldn't chew gum or if you do use gum, use it very rarely or right before a meal when the acid and enzyme stimulation may actually be beneficial. If you'd like to give up gum chewing but are finding it difficult, consider why you're doing it. Below are several common reasons why people chew gum, along with alternative options to help you kick the habit.
  • For stress relief: Try these eight stress-relief tips instead, along with the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is based on the concept that a vital energy flows through your body along invisible pathways known as meridians. EFT stimulates different energy meridian points in your body by tapping them with your fingertips, while simultaneously using custom-made verbal affirmations.
  • To freshen your breath: Carry a toothbrush and toothpaste with you so you can brush your teeth even when you're on the go. A natural breath spray also works well for this purpose.
  • To overcome food cravings: The tapping and positive affirmations of EFT are frequently effective at reducing food cravings.
  • For the flavor: If you're chewing gum because you're hooked on the flavor, remember that both artificial and natural flavors are trying to simulate the flavors that nature readily provides. For healthier flavorful options, try sipping on a glass of water infused with fresh mint leaves, cinnamon, or citrus fruit.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

How to Start an Organic Garden in 9 Easy Steps

The Benefits of Organic Gardening

You've been trying to eat more organic foods, both to decrease the amount of pesticides you and your family consume, and to help protect the environment from overloading with toxic chemicals. But organics can get a bit expensive, we know. Luckily, there's a way to grow your own delicious, fresh produce, while having fun and learning at the same time: organic gardening!

Don't know where to start? It is possible to hire someone to install and maintain a beautiful organic garden for you. But most of us can roll up our sleeves with a surprisingly small amount of effort. Remember, you can start small, even with just a single plant or two. Don't worry if things aren't perfect right away.

Organic gardening means you won't be using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, but that doesn't mean your plants are left to fend for themselves. There are an array of tools you can use to bolster plant health and ward off pests. Organic gardening also isn't just about what you don't do, it's about trying to foster a more holistic, natural ecosystem. Read on for specific tips, taken from The Daily Green's expert garden blogger, Leslie Land, her New York Times book 1000 Gardening Questions & Answers and other sources.

Preparing the Soil

In order to get the best results with your new organic garden, you'll want to make sure the soil is properly conditioned. You have to eat, and so do plants, so make sure your veggies get lots of fresh nutrients. Good healthy soil helps build up strong, productive plants. Chemical soil treatments can not only seep into your food, but they can also harm the beneficial bacteria, worms and other microbes in the soil.

The best way to gauge the quality of your soil is to get it tested. You can get a home testing kit, or better, send a sample to your local agricultural extension office. For a modest fee you'll get a complete breakdown of pH and nutrient levels, as well as treatment recommendations (be sure to tell them you're going organic). That way you can tailor your gardening program. Typically, it's best to test in the fall, and apply any organic nutrients before winter.

Even if you don't have time for testing, you'll want to make sure your soil has plenty of humus -- the organic matter, not the similarly named Mediterranean spread. According to 1000 Gardening Questions & Answers, you'll want to mix in compost, leaf and grass clippings and manure. Manure should be composted, unless you aren't going to harvest or plant anything for two months after application. Preferably, get your manure from local livestock that have been organically and humanely raised -- and never use manure from animals that eat meat.

How to Make Good Compost

All gardens benefit from compost -- and preferably you can make your own on site. Hey, it's free! Compost feeds plants, helps conserve water, cuts down on weeds, and keeps food and yard waste out of landfills (where it produces methane), instead turning garbage into "black gold." Spread compost around plants, mix with potting soil, use to bolster struggling plants…it's hard to use too much!

The best compost forms from the right ratio of nitrogen- and carbon-rich organic waste, mixed with soil, water and air. It might sound like complicated chemistry, but don't worry too much if you don't have time to make perfect compost. Even a minimally tended pile will still yield decent results.
  1. To get started, measure out a space at least three feet square. Your compost heap can be a simple pile or contained within a custom pen or bin (some can be rotated, to improve results).
  2. Add alternating layers of carbon (or brown) material -- leaves and garden trimmings -- and nitrogen (or green) material -- such as kitchen scraps and manure, with a thin layer of soil in between.
  3. Top off the pile with four to six inches of soil. Turn the pile as new layers are added and water to keep (barely) moist, in order to foster microbe action. You should get good compost in as little as two months (longer if it's cold).
  4. A properly maintained compost pile shouldn't smell. But if it does add more dry carbon material (leaves, straw, or sawdust) and turn it more frequently.
  5. Even if you live in a city, you can do some composting under your counter with a tidy worm kit, or partner with a community garden.

Choose the Right Plants

It really pays to select plants that will thrive in your specific micro-conditions. As a general guide don't forget to check the USDA's Hardiness Zones (which have recently been updated by the National Arbor Day Foundation due to climate change). Choose plants that will be well adjusted to each spot, in terms of light, moisture, drainage and soil quality. Most gardens have gradations in these variables. The happier your plants are, the more resistant they'll be to attackers.

If you're buying seedlings, look for plants raised without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. A great place to look is at your local farmers' market, which may also have native plants and varieties well suited to your area. It's better to buy stocky seedlings with few, if any blooms yet, and with roots that don't look overcrowded.

Many things are best grown from seed, including sunflowers, annual poppies, evening-scented stock (Matthiola bicornis), coriander, dill, annual phlox (Phlox drummondii), larkspur, annual lupine, morning glories, sweet peas, squash and cucumbers.

Plant Crops in Wide Beds

Plants that you will be harvesting, such as vegetables or cutting flowers, should be grouped tightly in beds that you don't walk on (raised beds work great). Grouping reduces weeding and water waste, and helps you target compost and nutrients. Easier path maintenance helps lead to healthy soil. Ample space between rows helps promote air circulation, which repels fungal attacks.

Remember that seedlings won't always stay diminutive, and you do want to try to limit over shadowing. It's a good idea to thin crops based on nursery suggestions.

According to Leslie Land, if you have limited space and time, and want the highest returns of fresh organic produce, these plants are typically winners:

1. Indeterminate Tomatoes. So named because the vines keep getting bigger and producing new fruit until they are felled by frost.

2. Non-Hybrid (Old-Fashioned) Pole Beans. They keep growing and producing 'til frost -- assuming you keep them picked.

3. Zucchini. Everything they say about avalanches of zucchini is true, especially of hybrid varieties.

4. Swiss Chard. You can keep breaking off outer leaves for months, and every picking will be tender as long as plants get enough water.

5. Tall Snow Peas and Sugarsnaps. They grow readily and produce delicious rewards.

Proper Watering

The best time to water plants is usually in the morning. Why? Mornings tend to be cool and without strong winds, so the amount of water lost to evaporation is reduced. If you water in the evening plants stay damp over night, making them more likely to be damaged by fungal and bacterial diseases.

Ideally, you want to water the roots, not the greenery, which is easily damaged. A drip or soak system can work great, or just carefully water the bases of plants by hand.

Most experts recommend substantial, infrequent watering for established plants, typically a total of about one inch of water per week (including rain). One or two applications a week encourages deeper rooting, which promotes stronger plants. To avoid shocking tender greenery, try to use water at or near air temperature (collected rainwater is best).

With population growth and climate change putting increasing pressure on our precious freshwater supplies, it is becoming more important than ever to save water.


Ah weeding. Even if you live in the Biosphere, you'll still get weeds, since their tiny seeds are pervasive. Pulling weeds by hand may sound like hard work -- and it can be -- but it also can be good exercise, and gets you outside in the fresh air. You don't want to pour toxic chemicals on your food, or where your children and pets play, right?

Reduce the number of weeds you have to contend with by applying mulch (which also helps protect the soil). According to Leslie Land, organic mulch that will rot down into the soil is almost always preferable to landscape fabric, although burlap and other materials can work in a pinch. Straw is cheap but doesn't last long. Wood chips are nice, but can get pricey. Many people opt to use lawn clippings, although it should be noted that because they are high in nitrogen, clippings should only be used on plants that need a lot of the nutrient, such as squash and lettuce.

If you get tired of weeding or aren't able to bend over, consider hiring some neighborhood kids. It's a good way to get to know others in your community. Remember too that raised beds can be made wheelchair accessible, and others can take advantage of wheeled stools, arthritis-friendly gardening tools and other equipment.

Protect Plants Without Toxic Pesticides

If your plants are being assaulted by pests, it may be a sign of other problems, so the first thing you should do is make sure they are getting enough light, nutrients and moisture. Also remember that a diverse garden helps prevent pests, by limiting the amount of one type of plant offered up to enemies, and boosting biodiversity.

It's a good thing to foster natural predators in your garden, such as frogs, toads, lizards, birds, and even bats. Beneficial insects can be your best friends, especially lady bugs (many nurseries even sell cans of them, though it's true there's a high probability they won't stick around). Leave a small source of water out to attract friendly predators. It's also a good idea to grow plants with small blossoms, such as sweet alyssum and dill, which attract predatory insects. Nets and row covers can also work.

It may sound surprising, but homeowners use more pesticides on their lawns and gardens than farmers do, acre for acre, according to EPA data. But there are organic alternatives that are much safer for you and our environment. Find out what problem you have (an agricultural extension service can help), then look for alternatives.

Organic weapons include Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring bacteria that disrupts the digestion of caterpillars and other leaf-eaters. You can also use horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps and garlic and/or hot pepper sprays.


Don't forget to harvest the fruits of your labor! Fresh organic produce also makes great gifts, educating your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Generally, the more you harvest, the more your plants will produce for you.

During peak harvest season, you'll likely find that it's best to check your garden every day. Got herbs? If you use them fresh pick them right before you need them. But if you'll be drying and storing them, it's best to wait until just before they flower, since they'll have the most flavor. Gather all herbs except basil in mid morning, shortly after dew has dried. Harvest basil in the late afternoon, since it will last longer after some time in the sun. It's best not to wash herbs before you dry or use them, since that can leach flaor (extra incentive for growing organic!).

When harvesting leafy greens pick sporadically from the entire crop, a little from each plant. For broccoli, wait until the central head is as large as it will get, before sending off buds for flowering. Cut it off right above the leaf node, and you'll likely get better production from the rest of the plant. In general, it's best to cut produce off with a sharp knife or scissors, versus ripping with your fingers, which can cause more damage to plant tissue.

If you get too much bounty, remember you can also freeze, store some types of produce in a root cellar, or take up canning. Enjoy!


If you have sick plants to remove, either during the season or at the end of the year, make sure you pull up the entire organism. Don't forget to rake up underneath, since diseased leaves can harbor problems for a long time. Put all infected material deep in the woods, in the ground at least a foot deep, or on the bonfire.

Most healthy or expired plants can actually be left in place over winter. You'll provide some food and habitat for birds and other wildlife, and plant cover can help protect your soil from eroding. It's better to chop off annuals then yank them out, because that way you'll leave soil intact, and help prevent weeds from gaining a foothold.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chickpeas are Chock Full of Antioxidants

Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans are a legume many of us are familiar with, in fact they are the most widely consumed legume in the world, but do you know the many nutritional benefits they have?

Originating in the Middle East, chickpeas have a firm texture with a flavor somewhere between chestnuts and walnuts. Like most beans, they are rich in fiber; both soluble fiber, which helps to eliminate cholesterol from the body, and insoluble which acts like a “broom” in the intestinal tract (more on insoluble fiber later). They are a rich source of folate, vitamin E, potassium, iron, manganese, tryptophan, copper, zinc and calcium. As a high-potassium, low-sodium food they may help reduce blood pressure.

Chickpeas are the basis for hummus, the bean spread spiked with garlic and olive oil, great for a healthy satisfying snack. They're an imperfect round, and beige in color, and give a nut-like flavor and firm texture. More on health...

Full of Fiber!
Recent studies have demonstrated that the fiber in chickpeas can be metabolized by bacteria in the colon to produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs provide fuel to the cells that line your intestinal wall, helping to lower your risk of colon problems, including possibly lowering your risk of colon cancer. The soluble fiber in garbanzo beans also helps with blood fat regulation, including lower levels of LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. Two cups provide nearly 25 grams of fiber! Introducing new fiber rich foods to your diet can cause gas and bloating, so start off slow!

Curb your appetite: a recent study reported more satisfaction with foods when garbanzo beans were included; less calories and processed foods were also consumed.

Full of Antioxidants!
Researchers have recently found that many of the antioxidants present in garbanzo beans are especially concentrated in the outer seed coat that gives the beans their distinctive color. Darker-colored "desi-type" garbanzo beans appear to have greater concentrations of antioxidants than the cream-colored garbanzos, the "kabuli-type" that are regularly found at salad bars and in canned products. Antioxidants are found in both types as well as many minerals and other health promoting nutrients mentioned above. If you have previously stayed away from darker-colored or irregularly-shaped garbanzo beans, now’s the time to try them!

Garbanzo beans can be purchased dried or canned and sometimes fresh. Always rinse canned beans before using and dried beans should be soaked for at least 4 hours before cooking. Read package specific labeling for further details. There are also chickpea snacks on the market, that will leave you feeling full and satisfied – check labels for allergens, etc.

Go Vegetarian, Live Longer

There's plenty of evidence showing that vegetarian diets are great for your heart and waistline and even protect against cancer. But a new study of more than 73,000 Americans showed that it can help you live longer too. People with a plant-based diet in the study had a 20 percent lower mortality rate than meat eaters.

This study is one of the first to look at data from a living population of such a big size and to analyze the participants' eating patterns so meticulously. The researchers also controlled for lifestyle factors that could undermine health and lifespan, such as obesity, smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, poor sleep patterns, and age. Even despite all of these, the vegetarians and semi-vegetarians (one serving of meat per week max) lived longer, healthier lives than those who ate meat even a few times a week.

"Based on this study and other recent research, on average, vegetarians and semi-vegetarians tend to add about 10 years to their lives," says Sam Soret, coauthor of the study and associate dean of Loma Linda University School of Public Health. "This doesn't mean that every individual can automatically extend his life by going vegetarian because, besides diet, the genetic lottery plays a role in longevity. But having these results from such a huge group of people makes it undeniable that diet is a critical component impacting [lifespan]."

What makes a plant-based diet such a life saver? "It seems that there are fundamentally two factors at play," Soret says. "One is that the more plant foods you eat, the less meat you tend to consume. Meat has detrimental effects in its own right, which we know from evidence accumulated over the last century linking it to heart disease and cancer. So the more meat you eat, the more you expose yourself to these negative factors."

Secondly, plant foods provide their own health perks. "We also have important evidence that proves plants contain protective elements such as phytonutrients," Soret says. "Even semi-vegetarians, who eat some meat but still consume a lot of plant foods, minimize their exposure to the bad stuff in meat while upping their exposure to protective stuff in plants. It's a double whammy."

– Melaina Juntti

Monday, July 21, 2014

6 Healthy Easy-to-Make Beverages At Home

In our ever busy days, eating and drinking something nutritious may not be on our top priority. Constraint of time and energy is probably one of the top reasons why we eat so much fast food and processed/frozen food and drinks. Even an extra step of transferring food onto a plate or washing the dishes become a painful chore, let alone cooking from scratch. The food industry has caught on to this and now they offer healthier versions of packaged foods and drinks, boasting that they are healthy with labels like "zero calorie," "low fat," "no MSG," etc. Just remember that as much as you think they are healthy, they can't be as healthy as they are fresh.

If cooking food is too much hassle, try making homemade beverages. It's much simpler, requires minimal cleaning, and a step further towards healthy living. Homemade food and drinks are best because we know exactly when we make it (freshness), how they are made (think about cross contamination), and what we put in it (no funny and harmful ingredients). So let's try one of these to start with:

1. Wheatgrass Juice

Early in the morning, increase our well being and boost our immune system by getting rid of toxins from our body with fresh Wheatgrass Juice. It's rich in chlorophyll, a pigment that helps to detoxify our body, treats bad breath, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help fight infections.

2. Coconut-Chia Energy Drink

To boost energy and keep you hydrated, try this Coconut-Chia Energy Drink that is packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, and electrolytes.

3. Almond Milk

For those who are on gluten-free diet and allergic to cow's milk but needs an extra dose of calcium, vitamin E, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron, try making homemade Almond Milk. This can keep in the fridge for up to five days, so you can make it ahead of time on your less busy days.

4. Water Kefir and Milk Kefir

A healthy gut is one of the cornerstones for a healthy body. Our body needs more probiotics (good bacteria) more than ever before because of all the processed food and drinks we consume and the overuse of antibiotics. This easy to make Water Kefir and Milk Kefir are natural probiotic beverages that can help you balance your gut flora and improve your digestion. It takes only a few minutes to put together, let them ferment for a day or two, and you can enjoy this probiotic-rich drinks anytime at home. Make one big batch and you are set for the week.

5. Fruits and Herbs-Infused Flavored Water

Throughout the day, keep a big bottle of Fruits and Herbs-Infused Flavored Water to keep you motivated to drink and your body hydrated, while reaping the benefits of the vitamins and minerals that are infused into your water from the fresh fruits and herbs.

6. Lemon, Garlic, Ginger, and Honey Tea

When you don't feel well or down with a flu, warm your body with homemade Lemon, Garlic, Ginger, and Honey Tea. Each ingredient provides unique power to fight off infections, balances the body's pH and, speeds up circulation, and boosts our immune system.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ten Great Health Benefits of Eating Cherries

Cherries are a nutritional powerhouse fruit with so many incredible health benefits. One cup of raw cherries has 87 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Enjoy them now while they are at their peak because their season is way too short.  Read on for some of the great health benefits of eating cherries.

Ten Great Health Benefits of Eating Cherries
  1. Cherries, known as a “super-fruit”, are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins which aid in the reduction of heart disease and cancer.
  2. Cherries are one of the few food sources that contain melatonin, an antioxidant that helps regulate heart rhythms and the body’s sleep cycles.
  3. Cherries are an excellent source of beta carotene (vitamin A). In fact they contain 19 times more beta carotene than blueberries and strawberries.
  4. Cherries are rich in vitamins C, E, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber.
  5. Cherries are referred to as “brain food”, aiding in brain health and in the prevention of memory loss.
  6. Because cherries contain anthocyanins, they can reduce inflammation and symptoms of arthritis and gout.
  7. Eating cherries reduces the risk of diabetes.
  8. Cherries are a good source of fiber which is important for digestive health.
  9. Cherries are a great snack or dessert choice important for weight-maintenance.
  10. Because of their powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, cherries are said to reduce pain and joint soreness for runners and athletes after workouts.