Food, grocery shopping, healthy eating

Why Gluten Free? Why?

BRAIN WASH ALERT.

Have you noticed the recent additions to your grocery store shelves?  All over the store, little tags on different shelves and aisles calling to you.  The marketing teams for grocery stores are good.  They are able to capture the consumer’s attention. And what is the current marketing ploy? Gluten Free! Gluten Free is all the rage.  Everywhere you turn you see labeling on everything from sauces, cookies, chips, pastas, drinks and frozen foods.  And why not?  Gluten Free is the current food diet trend, haven’t you heard?  You have to strike while the iron is hot!

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So what’s the deal with Gluten Free?  Why live a Gluten Free life?  Originally it was primarily to support those with Celiac Disease.  The treatment of symptoms and disease related complications.  From there it sprung to Gluten Allergies.  And if you were not allergic, then you were Gluten Sensitive.  Now a days, Paleo, Atkins, Whole30 and other diets follow a Gluten Free based meal plan and hence the explosion of the Gluten Free product.

Don’t get me wrong here. As someone who lives an 80/20 life, I stay away from gluten products.  I understand that it causes inflammation and digestion issues. In addition, I don’t need all the extra calories from something that doesn’t support my nutrition and honestly doesn’t make me feel good at all.  When I do have that piece of bread (typically French bread…love) my stomach bloats immediately and then afterwards I end up in a fog.  That slice of warm French bread tastes delicious, and so I only partake 20% (or less) of my balanced healthful life.

What does gluten actually do to the body?  Why isn’t it good for you?  There are many different reasons and explanations of course. But the simplest way to explain it is the inflammation that it causes to your entire body.  Joints, muscles, organs even your skin.  Inflammation is a way of the body telling you, This isn’t good for you and we’re fighting it off. Everyone reacts differently to gluten. We are not all designed the same, that’s the beauty of Mother Nature. But the simple fact is, if you’re bloated, feel lethargic and have no energy after you eat a slice of bread…it’s not good for you! Listen to your body. It will tell you when you’re eating things that are right or wrong for you and your health.  Be mindful of that.

Back to the where we started at the grocery store and all the Gluten Free products.  Why am I a little peeved by all of this? Because I don’t use the term lightly!  Living a Clean-Eating life means no processed foods, none.  And as I walk down aisle after aisle at the store I see all these over processed foods with a sign in lights, Gluten Free, just calling for shoppers to stop and take a look.  PROCESSED cookies, chips, pastas, drinks and sauces. Gluten Free does NOT mean that it’s good for you. It can be confusing to those who are trying to start a healthy lifestyle to hear things like Gluten Free and think it’s healthy.  It’s really frustrating to me.

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I picked up a box of cookies with the tag Gluten Free and read the ingredients.  First one was SUGAR. How is that healthy?

My service announcement to you: Don’t be brainwashed.  All Gluten Free products are not created equal.

Breakfast, Food, healthy eating, Lifestyle

You’ve got time for THIS breakfast!

Breakfast food items are probably the most consumed processed food in the grocery store besides snacks! And why not? No one has time to make breakfast any more. Your kids need to get to school, you’re running late for work, or you think it’s just not worth the time and effort. Muffins, frozen breakfast meals, granola bars, breakfast bars, cereal and bagels are the quickest and easiest things to eat and in the morning and are always well stocked at your local grocery store.

When I was on Weight Watchers, breakfast was a cinch. Packaged foods, done! Two Kashi Waffles into the toaster oven and 2 Jimmy Dean Sausages into the microwave and within 2 minutes breakfast was served on a paper plate and into the car I went. Believe it or not, that was considered a good choice at WW. I stayed within my points and got some protein.

It’s hard to believe that I ate so many overly processed foods before. My husband and I chuckle about that from time to time. Before Kashi, I ate Eggo’s. There were frozen English muffins, crackers, granola — even frozen pizzas. Ugh, makes my stomach turn just thinking about it.

As someone who eats clean now, that means NOTHING processed. That includes everything from breakfast sausages to salad dressings. If it comes pre-made and I don’t know where the ingredients came from or can’t pronounce them, I don’t buy.

So what’s a girl on the run to do when I’m needing some carbs for my double workout and don’t want Overnight Oats? Quinoa Breakfast Bars, that’s what. I LOVE these bars. They are filled with oats, quinoa, almond butter and banana. All the good stuff to keep you sustained for a busy day or workout. A friend of mine training for Iron(wo)Man makes these delicious bars in a muffin tin, freezes them, and then takes them on her long rides. This way she gets the carbs she needs (about 18.5% per muffin/bar) and protein (about 4% per muffin or bar) without eating processed sports goo’s or bars. WIN!

How long does it take to makes these amazing power muffins? Only 5 minutes to prep and then about 20 minutes in the oven (times will vary depending on pan size). That’s it. The entire family will love them. Make them on Sunday, keep in the fridge, and eat all week. These bars are great with a hard boil egg, smear of cream cheese or slice of chicken breast if you need a little extra protein or more substantial meal.

Quinoa Oat Breakfast Bars
Makes 16 Bars or Muffins

Ingredients:
1 ½ cup quick oats
1 cup cooked quinoa
3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
¼ cup honey, raw organic (can use less if bananas are extra ripe)
¼ cup almond butter (or favorite nut butter)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
Optional:
½ cup walnuts
½ cup raisins
½ cup unsweetened coconut

Procedure:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8x8” baking pan with parchment paper in the center only. Grease the sides, where parchment doesn’t meet the pan.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: oats, quinoa, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg (nuts, raisins and coconut if using). Set aside.

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In a blender, add the banana, honey, almond butter and vanilla and blend for 20 seconds on medium-low until ingredients are smooth.

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(No blender, that’s ok: In a second smaller bowl, mash bananas to a semi-smooth texture. Set aside.  In another bowl, whisk eggs together until scrambled. Add vanilla, honey and almond butter; combine. Add mashed bananas to wet mixture and blend together (a spatula works best).)

Combine the wet and dry mixtures together. Batter should not be too runny (if it is, add more quinoa until desired texture). Add to 8X8 lined pan or 16 muffin cups.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes (muffins about 15) until bars are golden brown and have a spongy firmness to the touch. Remove and let cool completely in baking pan. Cut into 16 squares. May store in fridge for up to 4 days or freeze.

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Here’s the fun part about these bars/muffins, you can create any kind you want. Let your imagination run wild. You won’t mess them up. Like sunflower seed butter? Add that instead of the almond butter. Like dried apricots? Chop those up and use instead of the raisins. Think the recipe calls for too much honey? Don’t add it. It’s really up to you. Because this isn’t a traditional bread or cake all you have to do is touch the center to feel if they are ready. Start baking at 15 minutes and then go from there. They should be just soft to the touch.

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I hope this helps you with your breakfast dilemma and keeps you out of the frozen food aisle, cereal aisle, and bread aisle during your next trip to the market!

Happy Eating!

grocery shopping, healthy eating, Lifestyle, organic

Top 15 Organic Items at Costco!

I’m not someone who strictly follows an organic lifestyle. I stick to the Dirty Dozen and look for pesticide free items at my local Farmer’s Market. I choose organic vs. conventional solely due to the fact that the crops are not sprayed with synthetic fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides. Isn’t that reason enough? On Fridays I go to my local Farmer’s Market. Not only can I find organic and pesticide free produce, I enjoy talking to the vendors/farmers and actually knowing where my food is coming from. I can’t always get there, and when I’m in a pinch I go to Costco. With the amount of greens that my husband and I eat, it makes sense to buy in bulk. Did you know that Costco is known for being a top supplier of organic products? Yep, it’s true. Tons of organic items from produce, to canned diced tomatoes and even olive oil. Costco has even gone as far as to label their organic items in green so you can identify them quickly. Smart and effective!

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Organic Eggs 24 ct $6.99 Kirkland
I eat eggs tons of different ways and they are a must in our household. Typically, I buy an organic, grass fed, no hormone feed egg, which is what the Kirkland brand offers. Eggs are filled with protein, 6g, and at only 70 calories I can have two!

Bananas 3lbs $1.99 One
We joke that we have monkeys living in our house because of the amount of bananas we go through. And at this price, it’s ok! Bananas are great to bake with, eat alone and pop into a smoothie. Oh, and don’t forget a quick dairy free ice cream! Bananas are packed with a ton of nutrition like 422g of Potassium, 17% of needed Vitamin C and 20% of Vitamin B-6.

Romaine Hearts 6ct $3.49 Earthbound Farms
Lettuce is great to have in the house at all times. It’s not only good for salads. I put mine into smoothies, grill it, and more importantly it’s become my substitution for bread/taco shells. Lettuce is full of water which is great for hydration and, believe it or not, one serving of romaine will cover you in Vitamin A for the day, at 148% of the daily recommended serving.

Power Greens 1.5lbs $4.59 Earthbound Farms
The mighty mix of kale, spinach and chard! This bag is filled to the brim with 290 mg of Potassium, 2g of Protein, 90% of recommended Vitamin A and 60% of Vitamin C. I love this mix and use it in things like smoothies, sauteed with onions and, as a salad base. TIP: Toss into the freezer as is and use at a later date in a smoothie, if you’re unable to use it all at once. They freeze and store great!

Baby Spinach 1lb $3.59 Fresh ‘n’ Natural
Spinach is actually a part of the Dirty Dozen. It soaks up all the toxins that are placed into the ground making it important to purchase organically. Again, a powerhouse green, spinach is packed with all the good stuff like Potassium at 167 mg and Vitamin A at 56%. It, too, is great in salads, smoothies and as a quick sautee.

Blueberries 18oz $7.49 Rainier
Anything that shade of blue has to be good for you! What’s great about blueberries is that they have 4% of fiber per serving, satisfying you and giving you a lasting fullness. They are packed with 114 mg of Potassium and 24% of the recommended serving of Vitamin C. These little gems can be topped onto yogurt, put in overnight oats or salads, and are perfect for desserts. Only 100 calories for a cup too! Blueberries come off and on the Dirty Dozen list, so go with the good stuff!

Carrots 5lbs $4.59 Bunny Luv
Baby carrots are my go to when I want something crunchy and need a quick snack. One medium carrot gives you 203% of your Vitamin A serving. Just one carrot! I love having the baby ones around for salads, stews, smoothies and soups.

Broccolette 2lbs $5.49 Earthbound Farms
I love broccoli, but what I love even more than broccoli is broccolette/broccolini. These are great on the grill, roasted in the oven or steamed. So tender and perfect for any meal. I barely use any seasoning on them, just S&P and enjoy! Broccolini has 6g of Protein per serving and 196% of Vitamin C at 117 mg.

Squash Mix 3.5lbs $5.99 Green Wave
Zucchini and yellow squash is a must in my house. I eat them with eggs, grill them, and now there’s thezoodle’ wave! One cup of this gives you 35% of your Vitamin C for the day and 325 g of Potassium. Not to mention other minerals like Magnesium and Phosphorus, which are great for the body!

Green Beans 2lbs $4.99 Green Wave
An entire cup of green beans contains only 31 calories and is filled with Fiber, Potassium and Vitamin C. This veggie, along with most, is so versatile. Right now Beans are in season and we eat them weekly. Try pickling them! Perfect for a snack on a hot evening!

Coconut Oil 5.2lbs $26.49 Kirkland
This is A LOT of coconut oil and comes in two 2.64 lb containers. I highly recommend storing in a cool dark space or splitting with a friend. The quantity seems like a lot but at a fraction of the price for one small container at your local market. Coconut oil is great for so many things: Cooking, dressings, grilling and baking. Not to mention all the homeopathic healing it has!

Chia Seeds 2lbs $8.79 Nutiva
Cha cha chia! I eat chia seeds every single day! Love them. They’re great in my overnight oats and so many other things like homemade granola, chia pudding, salad dressings and smoothies. An ounce serving of chia seeds has 138 calories and has 10g of Fiber, 115 mg of Potassium and 23% of Magnesium. A little goes a long way!

Quinoa 4lbs $14.79 Nature’s Wild Grains
Living a clean lifestyle, I’ve taken out white potatoes and rice but I need a little ‘starch’ every now and again and quinoa fits the bill. There a lot of debate out there if it’s a seed or not…but I’m sticking with seed! Quinoa is great in muffins, stir fries, and salads. 2.8g of Fiber and 4.4g of Protein are only a few of the benefits that quinoa has to offer.

Diced Tomatoes 8cans $6.35 Kirkland
I don’t usually recommend canned products, but every now and again I have to bend because it’s not summer year round and I cannot get fresh all the time! These are a great staple to have in the pantry for sauces and stews. Lycopene is what causes that deep red color and is the best source of antioxidants.

Honey 1.5lbs $13.79 Kirkland
Organic honey is not always easy to locate at such a great price. This product comes in 3 bottles for easy storage and usage. Honey is a natural substitution for sweetener and great to add to just about anything! I use it in sauces, dressings, chia puddings, smoothies and with just a cup of hot water and lemon.

There are many more items at Costco that are organicfar to many for me to list. But these are great daily staples many can benefit from. Remember, every Costco store is different. Prices and items will vary! A Costco in one direction from my house has Kombucha and the one in the other direction doesn’t but has Acai.

Look for the green signs!
Happy Shopping!