Posted in Healthy Eating

How Healthy are those Strawberries?

Who doesn’t love a fresh picked strawberry?  Maybe you bought them from a local farm stand or farmer’s market. Better yet, maybe you picked them yourself at a strawberry farm.strawberry-farm-trans2

Not only are strawberries delicious, they are packed full of antioxidants, high in fiber, and contain vitamin C, manganese, and potassium.  Unfortunately, they have been listed as having the highest level of pesticide residue.  Washing your strawberries in cold water can remove 75%-80% of the pesticide residue, but what about the 20%-25% left behind?  Hmmmm.  I’m sure you can imagine.

I remember years ago when I lived in Connecticut we had a “pick your own” strawberry farm that I used to take my boys to during the summer.  I remember watching their faces as they would eat strawberries right off the bush instead of putting them in their baskets.  Shhhhh!  I also remember the red itchy rash we would get on our arms after picking.  I thought it was a reaction from the leaves of the strawberry plant.  In hindsight it was because the plants were sprayed with pesticides.  If I only knew then what I know now! Today this is why I only buy organic produce.  I recently posted a blog called, Summer Veggies and Fruit – The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.  This is a good resource to help you decide which produce to buy organic.

strawberries

My husband recently came across a video of an organic strawberry farmer named, Jim Cochran. In 1987, his farm, Swanton Berry Farm, was certified by California Certified Organic Farmers, becoming the first organic strawberry farm in California.  He has a farm stand and u-pick in Davenport, CA and a ranch for u-pick in Pescadero, CA.   Visiting this farm is definitely on my  “to do” list.  I can’t wait!

Posted in Recipes

Organic Blueberry Preserves

I just recently planted two blueberry bushes in the backyard.  Imagine my excitement of having fresh, juicy blueberries at my beck and call.  Thoughts of all the different ways I could use my bounty started racing through my brain.  Blueberry muffins, blueberry bread, blueberry pie, blueberry smoothies, YES..my own blueberry preserves.  I’m in heaven!!  Alas,  my grandiose plans were shattered when I harvested a mere five blueberries between both bushes.  I suppose my blueberry bushes need some time to mature.  Patience is a virtue I’m told.

blueberry-freezer-jam-recipeWell this little bump in my blueberry gardening  was not going to stop me.  I really wanted to make some organic blueberry preserves that did not require canning, pectin or processed sugar.  Off to Whole Foods I go to purchase some blueberries.  I decided to replace sugar with honey and add a little lemon zest. It’s so easy to make, not to mention much healthier than any store-bought brands.

  • Organic Blueberry Preserves – 2 cups
    • 3 cups organic blueberries (fresh or frozen) * I prefer fresh
    • 1/2 cup organic raw honey
    • 2 tablespoons organic, fresh lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from organic lemon)
  1. Place the blueberries in a medium saucepan and crush with a fork or potato masher
  2. Add the honey, lemon juice, and zest and bring to boil over medium-high heat.  Let the mixture boil for about 15 minutes stirring frequently.  It will start to thicken.
  3. When done, skim off any foam that might have developed and spoon jam into a container.
  4. Cool to room temperature and store covered in the refrigerator.

Note:  My preserves last about month.  Freshness may vary.

Happy Preserve Making!!!

ea1b06_spiced-blueberry-jam_s4x3

 

 

Posted in Healthy Eating

Regular Produce vs Organic

organic-expensiveorganic2

Recently I posted a blog called, Summer Veggies and Fruit – The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.  I received feedback concerning the use of pesticides on fruit and vegetables and the expense of buying organic.

There are many good reasons why organic produce is more expensive than non-organic.  I’ve chosen just a few:

  1.  no chemicals = more labor – conventional farms use chemicals and synthetic pesticides which gets the job done faster.  The organic farmers have to hire more help for tasks such as hand weeding.
  2.  demand overwhelms supply -“Retail sales of organic food rose from $3.6 billion in 1997 to $21.1 billion in 2008, according to the USDA, and 58 percent of Americans claim they prefer to eat organic over non-organic food. However, organic farmland only accounts for 0.9 percent of total worldwide farmland, and organic farms tend to produce less than conventional farms.”
  3.  higher cost of fertilizer – organic farmers use compost and manure which is expensive to ship.
  4.  organic certification – USDA Organic Certification is not an easy task.  There are certain standards a farmer must comply with to achieve this certification.  It is also expensive.  Depending on the size of the farm, the annual cost starts at between $400-$2000.  This is a lot of money for the farmer.

“I want to buy organic produce, but I can’t afford to do it on a regular basis.”  Ok I hear you loud and clear.  Organic food costs can really add up especially if you are feeding a large family. If that is the case, try and buy non-organic from the Clean Fifteen list.  These fruits and vegetables are least likes to hold pesticide residues.  If you buy non-organic from the Dirty Dozen, make sure you wash the fruit/vegetables in a diluted vinegar mix.  This will help to rinse off any pesticide residue.

Posted in Healthy Eating

Summer Veggies and Fruit – The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

We are in the midst of summer and supermarkets and farmer’s markets are exploding with fresh produce.  Eating fresh produce is the best way to benefit from the nutrients they provide.  However, most produce you see has been been sprayed with pesticides. Farmers use pesticides for a couple of reasons: to keep weeds at bay and to prevent pests from destroying crops.  Pesticides are toxic and can leave a residue on fruits and vegetables.  This can present serious health risks. Below is a list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteenfarmers-market-local-produce-520

Here is a list of the Dirty Dozen for 2016 (highest in pesticide residue)

  • strawberries
  • apples
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • celery
  • grapes
  • cherries
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • sweet bell peppers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • cucumbers

The Clean Fifteen for 2016 (least likely to hold pesticide residues)

  • avocados,
  • sweet cornasparagus-photorack
  • pineapples
  • cabbage
  • frozen sweet peas
  • onions
  • asparagus
  • mangoes
  • papayas
  • kiwis
  • eggplant
  • honeydew melon
  • grapefruit
  • cantaloupe
  • cauliflower

Research like this always brings me to the EWG website (Environmental Working Group). This site is a wealth of information on healthy living and a healthy environment.    Check them out.

ewg_shoppersguide

 

Posted in Recipes

Banana Pancakes – A Paleo Breakfast

Who knew these could be so delicious?  After taking all things gluten and grain off our menu, the challenge was:  What can I eat for breakfast?  There are many forms of this recipe out there, but I found this to be the best.


Banana Pancakes
– Serves 1banana_on_pancake

1 ripe banana
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 scant teaspoon coconut oil

Mash the banana and whip in the egg and cinnamon.
Heat the oil in a skillet and pour the batter into 3 pancakes. Cook as you normally would.

This is one serving. You can double triple etc. I add in chopped blueberries. No syrup necessary! Trust me. They are that delicious.

Posted in Life in General

The Start of My Organic Journey

Why did I start this journey?  For over a year now my husband has been having lower abdominal pain.  Without getting into the gory details, he has had every possible test (including a full body scan) and all came back negative.  His GI doctor basically threw up his hands unable to recommend other options except to eat yogurt every day and to stay away from alcohol and red meat. WHAT?  Well… we eat yogurt everyday and we don’t drink alcohol or eat red meat.  Not once did he delve into the foods my husband eats on a regular basis.  Hmmmm.

It was time to take matters into our own hands. Diet change – go organic and food elimination. My husband has done a lot of research on the “gut”. He recently purchased the book, No Grain-No Pain by Peter Osborne.  His process is two phases.  Here is what WE have given up.  I capitalized ‘we’ because we are taking this journey together not to mention that my husband is my life long partner.  Okay, so what does the two phase food elimination entail?

  • Food Elimination List
    • All dairy including yogurt
    • All grains /gluten
    • All soy products
    • Most oils – (olive oil organic, cold pressed and coconut oil is ok)
    • All processed and GMO (genetically modified) foods
    • Nightshade vegetables – white potato (sweet potato is ok), tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, chili peppers, eggplant, goji berries.  These have a tendancy to irriate the intestines.
    • All legumes including peanuts
    • Some nuts and seeds
    • Coffee and black tea (herbal and green tea is ok)
    • Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Poultry and Fish
    • Poultry must be organically fed and free-range.  Same with eggs
    • Fish must be wild-caught not farm raised.

I know what you must be thinking.  OMG!  What is there left to eat?  Believe me there is plenty.  Everything I cook is fresh poultry or fish and vegetables.  Breakfast includes eggs and fruit.

So far things have improved, but we are still have a lot of questions which is the whole purpose in creating this blog.  We’ve learned a lot through this journey so far and I’d like to share our journey with you.