How To Eliminate Toxins In Your Food

There are 3 major ways these harmful substances get into what you eat.

This is the fourth post in our series on reducing and eliminating the toxins that threaten our well-being. So far we’ve covered:

 Why You Should Consider A Detox

How To Do A Sensible Weekend Detox

How To Eliminate Toxins In Your Home

This post will cover How To Eliminate Toxins In Your Food.

There are three major ways that toxins get into our food–ingredients, contaminants, and residues. We’ll look at them in the order of increasing difficulty in eliminating them from your diet.

Toxic Ingredients

When you look at the labels on packages of processed foods, you sometimes see dozens of ingredients. A lot of them have names you can barely pronounce, let alone identify. These are chemicals that are added as preservatives, flavor enhancers, and coloring agents. The FDA may have approved them, but your body is not designed to process them. So if you find an ingredient you can’t identify, you probably shouldn’t eat it. Buy foods with simple ingredient lists, or even better, make it yourself.

Toxic Contaminants

These are substances like mercury or BHP, that inadvertently get into your food through the food chain, the supply chain, or even in your own kitchen. For instance, fish can be a great source of of protein and omega-3 fats but certain species have high levels of environmental mercury. Or if you microwave food in plastic containers, the heat can cause chemicals can leach into it.

Toxic Residues

To increase crop yields (and to look for the grocery store), our conventionally-farmed food is sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. The long-term harmful effects of these chemicals has been well-documented. The best answer to this is to grow your own produce or only buy certified organic. However, this can be expensive. So the Environmental Working Group has created the Dirty Dozen Plus (14 foods you should always buy organic) and the Clean Fifteen (15 foods that don’t pass along pesticide residue).
For more information on this subject, see Chemicals In Your Food? put out by the Harvard Extension School.

If you work to eliminate toxins from your diet, you’ll not only feel better, but as you vote with your dollars, you’ll be changing the way our food is produced.

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Photo Credit: Mixed Vegetables by sumi

 

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How To Sensibly Detox Your Home

Why you should sensibly detox your home

A healthy body works to eliminate harmful toxins. You should do the same for your living space.

When an exterminator wants to kill an ant colony, he has the ants do most of the work. He sprays a little nice-smelling poison along their trail, and the ants gather it up and take it back to their nest.

Unfortunately, this is what a lot of us are doing to our homes–when we purchase and use items containing known toxins.

In my past two posts, Why You Should Think About Doing A Detox and How To Do A Sensible Detox, I talked about the reasons and proven methods for helping your body eliminate toxic substances. In today’s post I’m going to discuss a few ways of doing the same for your home.

As mentioned earlier, our generation has been inundated with a greater variety of toxins than at any other time in history. We embrace technological breakthroughs and only later discover their environmental price tag. (Fireproofing textiles is just one example.) Because of this, many of the materials that have gone into the construction of our homes and apartments–carpeting, paint, wallboard, sub-flooring, insulation–have been made with known toxins. These are things you can’t remove without doing a major remodel.

But there are plenty of other items you can easily eliminate immediately. Here are just a few:

Air fresheners: employ carcinogens, volatile organic compounds and known toxins such as phthalate esters in their formulas. Use a natural fragrance, or better yet, clean the room so there’s no bad smell to begin with.

Cleaning products: make our dishes, bathtubs and countertops gleaming and germ-free. But many contribute to indoor air pollution and can be a poisoning risk. In 2000, cleaning products were responsible for nearly 10% of all toxic exposures reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers.

Non stick cookware: are made with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). When heated, these pans are known to kill pet birds. How do you think they’re affecting you?

There are safer, organic alternatives to all of the above and other household items that you’re in constant contact with. I’ve found some great alternatives for bedding, beauty products, and candles (which can be surprisingly polluting).

For a comprehensive list, see Dr. Frank Lipman’s 20 Ways To “Detox” Your Home on the Huffington Post.

Next up: How To Detox Your Diet.

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How To Do A Healthy Detox

Forget the fads. Do it sensibly, using healthy food to support your body’s own detox systems.

In my previous post in this series, Why You Should Think About Doing A Detox,I talked about the evidence that we’re exposed to a staggering variety of toxins on a daily basis. In this post I’m going to outline what you can do to help your body purge toxins.

First of all, you have to remember that every day is a detox day for your body. It isolates and expels substances that are toxic to your system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It does this through three major organs. Your liver and your kidneys filter toxins out of your blood stream, and your colon eliminates toxins that become concentrated during digestion.

Periodically, it’s a good idea to lighten your body’s digestive workload, and give these cleansing systems an extra boost. And the best way to do that is through natural foods that help them function more effectively.

Some people recommend extreme fasting to detoxify, but this can rob your body of the very nutrients it needs to detoxify normally, not to mention slow your metabolism.

The method I’ve found that’s recommended by both medical doctors and naturopaths is to take 48 hours (a weekend) and eat the fruits and vegetables, and drink the juices known to help your liver, kidneys and colon.

An easy, sensible weekend cleanse plan was put together for the Dr. Oz Show (yes, from afternoon TV). It includes a shopping list and recipes that are effective for your detox, but are tasty enough to eat on a regular basis.

See Dr. Oz’s 48 Hour Detox here.

Do a weekend detox and then think about ways to reduce the amount of toxins your body has to deal with on a daily basis.

Next week I’ll cover: Ways To Detox Your Home.

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Photo taken by Cde010

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16 Great, Healthy Dinners in 10-minutes or Less

Post written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.

Everyone knows that cooking for yourself is a great way to eat good food while being frugal, and to eat healthier at the same time.

But not many of us have time to cook up a fancy meal each night — which is why many people eat out instead. Just not enough time and energy in the day.

Enter the New York Times’ article, Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. Now, there are other lists of simple and quick meals, and I always love them, but this one is especially good.

To save you time, I decided to share with you some of the healthier meals from the list — meaning the vegetarian ones. The others sound tasty, but just too much saturated fat to be healthy. The ones that follow sound delicious, and while they’re not all the healthiest in the world, they’re not bad at all.

  1. Gazpacho: Combine one pound tomatoes cut into chunks, a cucumber peeled and cut into chunks, two or three slices stale bread torn into pieces, a quarter-cup olive oil, two tablespoons sherry vinegar and a clove of garlic in a blender with one cup water and a couple of ice cubes. Process until smooth, adding water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, then serve or refrigerate, and a little more olive oil.
  2. Herb pasta: Toss a cup of chopped mixed herbs with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pan. Serve over angel-hair pasta, diluting the sauce if necessary with pasta cooking water.
  3. Eggplant & feta: Cut eggplant into half-inch slices. Broil with lots of olive oil, turning once, until tender and browned. Top with crumbled goat or feta cheese and broil another 20 seconds.
  4. Rustic tomato pasta: While pasta cooks, combine a couple cups chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon or more minced garlic, olive oil and 20 to 30 basil leaves. Toss with pasta, salt, pepper and Parmesan.
  5. Quesadilla: Use a combination of cheeses, like Fontina mixed with grated pecorino. Put on half of a large flour tortilla with pickled jalapenos, chopped onion, shallot or scallion, chopped tomatoes and grated radish. Fold tortilla over and brown on both sides in butter or oil, until cheese is melted.
  6. Spicy garlic pasta: Sauté 10 whole peeled garlic cloves in olive oil. Meanwhile, grate Pecorino, grind lots of black pepper, chop parsley and cook pasta. Toss all together, along with crushed dried chili flakes and salt.
  7. Taco salad: Toss together greens, chopped tomato, chopped red onion, sliced avocado, a small can of black beans and kernels from a couple of ears of corn. Toss with crumbled tortilla chips and grated cheese. Dress with olive oil, lime and chopped cilantro leaves.
  8. Zucchini pasta: Sauté shredded zucchini in olive oil, adding garlic and chopped herbs. Serve over pasta.
  9. Not takeout: Stir-fry onions with cut-up broccoli. Add cubed tofu, chicken or shrimp, or sliced beef or pork, along with a tablespoon each minced garlic and ginger. When almost done, add half cup of water, two tablespoons soy sauce and plenty of black pepper. Heat through and serve over fresh Chinese noodles.
  10. Pine nuts pasta: Put a stick of butter and a handful of pine nuts in a skillet. Cook over medium heat until both are brown. Toss with cooked pasta, grated Parmesan and black pepper.
  11. Pasta with fresh tomatoes: Cook chopped fresh tomatoes in butter or oil with garlic until tender, while pasta cooks. Combine and serve with grated Parmesan.
  12. Rich vegetable soup: Cook asparagus tips and peeled stalks or most any other green vegetable in vegetable stock with a little tarragon until tender; reserve a few tips and purée the rest with a little butter (cream or yogurt, too, if you like) adding enough stock to thin the purée. Garnish with the reserved tips. Serve hot or cold.
  13. Near instant mezze: Combine hummus on a plate with yogurt laced with chopped cucumbers and a bit of garlic, plus tomato, feta, white beans with olive oil and pita bread.
  14. Olive pasta: Pit and chop a cup or more of mixed olives. Combine with olive oil, a little minced garlic, red pepper flakes and chopped basil or parsley. Serve over pasta.
  15. Stuffed tomatoes: Cut the top off four big tomatoes; scoop out the interiors and mix them with toasted stale baguette or pita, olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs (basil, tarragon, and/or parsley). Stuff into tomatoes and serve with salad.
  16. Ketchup-braised tofu: Dredge large tofu cubes in flour. Brown in oil; remove from skillet and wipe skillet clean. Add a little more oil, then a tablespoon minced garlic; 30 seconds later, add one and a half cups ketchup and the tofu. Cook until sauce bubbles and tofu is hot.

Photo credit: punctuated / CC 2.0

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Awesome kale, avocado & brown rice salad

One of my favorite salads is a delicious kale, avocado & brown rice combo. This one is great because you can eat it even when it’s cold out because of one additional ingredient – brown rice. That makes me very hearty and wholesome. It’s also a very simple and filling salad to make. I’ve brought this over to dinner parties and every one always loved it. The key is to “massage” the kale with sea salt. This breaks it down so it’s not as bitter as usual.

Serves around 2 people

  • 1 head of Lacinto kale – sliced into small pieces
  • 2 plum tomatoes – diced
  • 1 clove garlic – minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 Hass avocado – diced
  • 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice

Instructions
Put the sliced kale in a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt, “massage” the kale for at least 2-3 minutes. You will notice the kale’s texture will change. Then add in the diced avocado, minced garlic, diced plum tomatoes, lemon juice, and ground cumin. Mix all the ingredients together. Refrigerate for at least 25 minutes.

Grab another empty bowl and place the brown rice in there. Then add the salad on top of the brown rice.

Serve.

Did you make the salad? What did you think? Leave us a comment below!

Photo Credit: James Wilsher

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Best salad recipe…ever!

I’ve been using my Pinterest account lately to find new recipes and health ideas. I’ve actually found it works great as a search engine to find great enchilada recipes, party ideas etc. Anyway, I found a Grilled Zucchini Salad recipe on there and decided to try my own variation. I know this looks like quite the salad, but trust me there was a lot of arugula under all that yumminess! I might have slightly over done it on the pine nuts (they’re a weakness of mine), but if you take a look at the ingredients and it’s all quite healthy! I don’t really cook with measurements much, so sorry there aren’t more exact proportions, but most likely this salad will serve to launch your own version based on what you’ve got in the fridge!

Anyway, here’s the basic recipe:

  • Arugula
  • Grilled Zucchini – use a vegetable peeler to get really thin slices and then grill them. This brings out their flavors! I used my George Foreman Grill and it worked pretty good with a little olive oil and salt.
  • Shrimp – sautéed with some garlic and lemon juice
  • Goat Cheese – crumbled
  • Toasted Pine Nuts
  • White Mushrooms – quartered
  • Hearts of Palm
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

For Balsamic vinaigrette mix:

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Little bit o’ Honey (note: the honey and mustard act as an emulsifier keeping your oil and vinegar mixed)

Now, sit back and enjoy!

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Connecting Through Food

Fast food. TV frozen dinners. 30 minute recipes. Quick, fast & cheap. This is how I perceive most of our society eats. We no longer have a direct & meaningful experience with food. We don’t gather our fruits, nuts or vegetables (unless you are one of the lucky ones to have your own organic vegetable garden in your own yard or live on a farm). We are definitely no longer a hunter & gatherer society. Instead we are a society of convenience, of mass produce, of giant grocery stores, of fast food chains, etc. We hunt for our food by driving our cars around looking for a restaurant, fast food joint or a grocery store. We are on the go. Never having enough time to slow down and appreciate what we eat. We don’t celebrate our food enough. It’s too easy to just drive through a fast food restaurant, pay $5 for a ‘meal’ and quickly satisfy the hunger.

I certainly do not eat this way. Back in 2006, I did a cleanse with a few of my friends and that started my journey into changing the way I eat and look at food. I am more conscious about what I put into my body. I understand that my body needs fuel to run efficiently and I make sure it gets what it needs and more. During the cleanse, my friends and I would very carefully pick the ingredients of the meal we were going to cook and then cooked together. We read labels, learned new vegetables to try, new types of breads, alternative sugars, discovered quinoa, kale, etc. My friends and I bonded in a whole new way. We learned a lot from each other by sharing what we researched & discovered. We sparked a new connection in our relationship. With the growth of our ‘age of convenience’, long lost is the ritual of catching our food and preparing it with our family members or close friends. Long lost is the art of honoring it and celebrating it by the process of cooking-involving all family members or friends in the preparation. Finally, enjoying the meal together and bonding, really taking the time to smell, taste and give thanks for the food. The bonding experience that takes place when a family or group of friends prepares and cooks a meal together strengthens that connection. I don’t have any ‘data’ on this but this is just something that I have noticed throughout the years.

Why isn’t family cooking a ritual in our society? Cooking is another way parents can connect with their children. I would think that a family that bonds by cooking & eating together is less likely to become dysfunctional. Again, I don’t have any ‘data’ on this (for you left-brain folks ). It’s just my observation. Parents can teach their children how important a nutritious meal is through the cooking experience. The passing of knowledge is important for children and can begin to understand that food is not just something to fill their tummys with but food is energy that helps their body function through good calories, fats, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. And with the right combination, a person’s body can run in it’s most optimum health. But unfortunately in our society, this is not something that most people understand, as you can see in the rise of obesity issues. And also organic, fresh ingredients are not always easily accessible or affordable. Sadly, many people or families choose to eat at fast food restaurants because they can afford it more than a home cooked meal. But through conscious awareness & education we can begin to shift to a new way of thinking when it comes to food. We need to demand organic, nutritious, and wholesome foods. And as a community we can also help each other grow herb & vegetable gardens in our own yards. The gardening trend is increasing. I read in Epicurious.com, “nearly 43 million U.S. households are planning to grow their own produce this year, which is up 19 percent from 2008, according to the National Gardening Association”. It is a wonderful feeling when you pick your own tomato & chard to cook for the evening.

I appreciate the way the Asians & Europeans celebrate food. Dinner plays an important part of their lives and will usually spend anywhere from 2-4 hours bonding & connecting this way. I know that most people or families don’t have this kind of time. But you can always make time for this.

I’d love to hear stories from others. Did you grow up in a family that didn’t celebrate food? Or maybe you did grow up in one? Is this something that you are doing with your family or friends today? Or perhaps you’d like to do more of this? What are your thoughts on this?

Photo Credit: Jason M

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What Are Superfoods?

For the past few months I’ve been on a superfood kick. What are superfoods? These are nutrient dense foods that I add to my dishes or into my favorite smoothies. A friend of mine recommended that I read the book Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future by David Wolfe. A whole new world of rich & nutritious foods opened up for me. Superfoods have been part the greatest civilizations & cultures of the world and they are incredibly nutritious. Eating for me is no longer about just “eating” for the sake of calming my hungry belly or because it’s 12 o’clock now so it must be time for lunch automatic .

I’ve become extremely conscious of what I consume and how the food will affect my body, my mind and my spirit. In other words, I purposefully eat the right foods for my body to make sure I am getting the ultimate nutrition combined through the antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, minerals, vitamins, protein, carbohydrates, good fats from the foods that I consume. I was hooked on the superfoods and went on a shopping spree buying and trying different kinds of superfoods.

Here’s what I ended up adding to my daily diet and a basic introduction into each superfood:

1)      Spirulina: This is a blue-green algae that is found in fresh water, natural springs and saltwater oceans.  It is rich in vitamin C, calcium, vitamin A, B12, iron, omega-3s, omega-6 fat GLA. It is also a great source of plant protein, it is a blood cleanser, and it assists in providing the raw materials for DNA repair, anti-oxidant and also helps the digestive tract by helping balance the gut flora with its microbial effects. My favorite way to consume this is to add the powdered form into my smoothies or as an added ingredient into my salads. You can get it as supplemental pills too. Make sure you research the company that you choose to purchase our spirulina from. If you’re going to purchase the powder form check for freshness from the supplier. (Source: Natural News)

2)      Raw cacao beans: Besides absolutely loving its byproduct chocolate, raw cacao beans are powerful anti-oxidants, they contain around 621 anti-oxidants 19 times more than blueberries, helping heal the skin, protecting us from the crazy free-radicals that damage the skin and you can get a concentrated source of magnesium, chromium and vitamin C with just one of these little tiny beans. My favorite way to consume them is to grind up the beans and add them into my smoothies or homemade raw chocolates. (Source: High On Health)

3)      Bee Pollen:  Made by bees, this contains over 96 nutrients of protein, carbohydrates, fatty acids and numerous vitamins/minerals and is considered to be a “complete food”. Some of the benefits known includes reducing cholesterol, fight cancer, reduce allergic symptoms, increase endurance and energy, improves the immune system, can help lower stress. Something to consider, if you’re allergic to bees it’s best to avoid bee pollen.  (Source: WebMD)

4)      Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO): Very nutrient dense in vitamins A, D, E and K, enzymes, quinines, fatty acids and hormones. This is not only a superfood but also a sacred food going back to the biblical times. Because of its deep, rich pigmentation, FCLO is known for its dense micro nutrients that are up in the thousands. It’s reported that there are over 3000 derivatives of hormone or vitamin D. FCLO goes through a natural lacto-fermentation process that allows the natural vitamin A to be turned into different metabolites that makes it more easily absorbed by the body. (Source: Green Pasture Blog)

5)      Goji Berries: These berries are from China and the vitamin A found in goji berries has compounds that can help with anti-aging by minimizing damage from free radicals, as well as protecting vision, prevent heart disease boost the immune system, lower cholesterol, and prevent cancer and other illnesses with its antioxidant properties. It is also known for increasing calmness, happiness, improves your quality of sleep and overall positively increasing mental well-being. My favorite way to consume this is eating them as dried berries, grinding and adding them to my smoothies, or putting them into raw chocolates. (Source: WebMD)

Since I’ve added these into my diet, my overall well-being has improved significantly as most noticeably my energy and endurance. The list above are not the only superfoods out there. There are many, many more and I’m discovering them constantly. So just do your research and also check with your doctor or nutritionist to see what will work best for you. Each person is different.

Photo credit: Erika Thorpe

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