I’ve had quite a few questions from friends/family/readers that usually start with “You always tell us what not to eat – so, what do you eat?”
I am, by no means, an expert, BUT I have done (and continue to do) continuous and exhaustive research to try to determine the best truth that I can find, whether about food or supplements or cleaning products or whatever. I will gladly share some selections in my personal life in the hopes that it will encourage you to make the best choices you can for you and/or your family. Understand, these are not endorsements – they are simply my current choices, and they might change as I continue along this path.
This first part will focus on food, drink and vitamins, the second will be about non-food items (toiletries, cosmetics, cleaning products, etc) and the third will be pet related.
Let’s start with supplements. In our technology-driven, ‘go-go-go‘ world, it’s nearly impossible to eat everything that we need to eat to provide our body with all the nutrients that it needs to keep us healthy. It needs our help, and that’s where supplements come in.
A multivitamin is the BEST place to start because you get a bit of everything in it. Let me say that if you’re running to the nearest drug store or dollar store for your multivitamin, chances are you’re getting very little vitamins at all and are instead swallowing a whole lot of filler. READ the label that shows you where the vitamins come from. Example: if the label shows ascorbic acid as the ‘source’ of vitamin C, put it back immediately. Ascorbic acid is synthetic, and it does not provide you with true vitamin C (see my previous post here about this gross farce that is rampant in stores). Even *IF* they pulled the ascorbic acid from a natural source, it’s still lacking. In natural form, ascorbic acid is a part of the complex that makes up vitamin C (like is found in an orange) – you need the full complex for the benefit.
The best kind of multivitamin that you can take is a WHOLE FOOD vitamin. Currently, I take Real Food Organics – Women’s Daily Nutrition. While I am happy with the source of the vitamins, I don’t love the “other ingredients”. I am looking into Vitamin Code’s liquid multi.
The Synergy Company (wonderful company – I encourage you to check out their site) has a multivitamin, plus one specifically made for men and women. The only problem I had with them was the pill size – the sources of ingredients were excellent. If they would only make a smaller one, I’d be golden. I think I’m going to try the Green Food capsules, instead. They’re excellent ingredient-wise, too, and capsules are always easier on the throat.
There is another that I’ve read about recently that I’m considering checking out. I don’t think I’d call it a multivitamin exactly, but it’s made from food, so you are getting vitamins. Balance of Nature has four kinds to choose from – fruit, veggies, fiber and calcium – the veggies is the one that I like because, let’s face it, who eats enough of those veggies listed on the label?
There are tons of other supplements that you might need more of than even a multivitamin will provide. Same thing goes for them – READ the labels and stay away from the ones with fillers (examples of fillers are: silica, magnesium stearate, rice flour, stearic acid, cellulose, calcium silicate, sorbitol, rice powder, millet, etc – leave that mess on the shelf!). Currently, I take olive leaf extract, ginger, gingko biloba, dong quai, maca and kelp. (I’m not going to go into detail on why for each of these; maybe that will be a future blog.)
Dong Quai – Vitamin Shoppe
Maca – Solaray
Olive Leaf Extract – Seagate
Ginger Root – Vitamin Shoppe
Ginkgo Biloba – Paradise Herbs
Kelp – Nature’s Way
As you see, I buy from a variety of companies because one isn’t perfect in its ingredients, and that’s okay. Check wherever you buy your supplements – if you’re not satisfied with the ingredients, look online. You will find a good one, I promise!
* Little side note here – I don’t recommend taking a handful of supplements all at once. I prefer to take the multi in the morning, then I divide up the other six between lunch and dinner. I always take with food.
** Vegetarians and vegans – be VERY mindful of the type of capsule used. If it says ‘gelatin’ without specifying what kind, chances are it’s made from PORK. You might need to contact the company to confirm the source before you commit to taking.
Let’s move on to beverages next. First off, I do not drink soda (see my previous blog here to read about the evils). The mainstream brands (and even some of the ‘natural’ ones) are ridiculously detrimental to your health. My favorite ‘natural soda’ is Reed’s ginger brews. More often than not when I’m craving a soda (because we all do from time to time), I buy seltzer water, add liquid stevia and either an organic flavoring from Nature’s Flavors or a juice concentrate. It’s easy, it’s healthy, it satisfies the craving and I can change up the taste.
Juice is tricky. Apple/orange/grape/etc are good for you, but depending on what brand you buy, they can contain a lot of sugar (and possibly some icky ingredients like ascorbic acid). I buy a concord grape concentrate (because concord is my absolute favorite). Orange is a solid stand by, but the acid gets to me, so I only drink a little. Apple is good, too, but make sure your digestive system is accustomed to drinking it since apple is a good source of fiber. Truthfully, eating fruit provides you more nourishment than the juice because the fruit has not been processed like the juice has, so make sure that you’re also eating some fruit and not just drinking it so you get full benefit.
Then there is juicing…taking veggies and fruits and pulverizing them to make your own juice. I have this one, so I’m always making concoctions at home. (I’m hoping to get a Vitamix soon – you can do even more with them like smoothies!) This is by far one of THE healthiest and easiest ways to ‘get your veggies’. Investing in a good machine is money well spent. This one is our favorite blend!
Water. That’s a given. I don’t recommend eight glasses – that’s been up for debate lately – but you do need to drink some. Personally, I like ice cold water. Around ‘cold season’, I add a bit of apple cider vinegar to it for medicinal benefit. There are many flavorings on the market now, but please, as always, watch the ingredients. Most are nothing but artificial colors and sugar, and that defeats the purpose of drinking something healthy if you’re going to turn it into something harmful.
Milk. That’s a whole blog right there. Simply put, you want RAW MILK from GRASS FED COWS for optimum nutrition. Go here to find some in your area. I’ve tried soy and nut milks and bounced around from one organic to another, but – when I’m out of raw – I buy Organic Valley grass fed milk. Goat milk is another option – very nutritious – but I haven’t found much locally. I do sometimes make homemade almond milk.
I have one cup of coffee almost every morning. It’s about 3/4 Teecino (it’s a coffee substitute and tastes very much like the real thing) with 1/4 regular organic coffee . I use sweetener made from stevia with either organic creamer, raw cream and/or raw milk. Coffee is healthy today and unhealthy tomorrow and healthy again next week – it’s maddening. It comes down to this – if you have a condition that caffeine can worsen (heart issues, anxiety, etc), or if you are taking medication that it could react with, avoid it. Otherwise, a little in the morning is ok. For now, anyway.
Tea is always good – warm or cold! Being a Southern girl, I prefer cold tea…I take a pitcher, dump my loose tea mix in it, fill it with water and let it do its thing in the fridge. I recommend getting a good quality organic loose tea (try to avoid the brands in the regular grocery stores if you can – most are so processed, there’s no nutritional value left). There are many great blends out there – just search on Google.
Food. Well, I can’t tell you everything because that might get to be a little lengthy (and boring). I will highlight some specific foods, but I will also list some brands that I buy. Also, I do NOT use a microwave for cooking. I use the regular oven and my toaster oven – that’s it. (Ok, sometimes the grill, too.)
Some new additions to the food repertoire that we have almost every week are swiss chard, kale and sardines. (No, not mixed together.) The swiss chard gets torn up and thrown into my daily salad. The kale gets torn into pieces, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt/pepper/turmeric/paprika and baked until crispy (also added to my salad and sandwiches). The sardines get heated up in the toaster oven and sprinkled with salt/pepper. Ignore the ick factor that you’ve had towards them for years – I did. They taste like tiny catfish (to me), and they are one of the top three fish to eat for omega oil. If you buy the ones in olive oil, you’re increasing the benefit. Make sure none of your seafood comes from the Pacific.
I mentioned a salad. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “A salad is boring.” “It won’t fill me up.” “It’s just lettuce.” Etc. Right? Wrong. Well, maybe some are those things, but not mine. How do tomatoes, cheese, sprouts, egg, tuna, pumpkin seeds, spinach, chard, strawberries, sunflower seeds, apples, prunes, raisins, dried cranberries, broccoli and baby greens sound? Certainly not boring! And because it’s more than lettuce, it will fill you up. Sometimes, if I have old bread, I’ll make croutons, too. YUM. The dressing? Organic Cowgirl Ranch! I also like balsamic vinegar with olive oil, which I make.
Having a salad every day for lunch (what I do) is excellent for a couple reasons. You can toss a lot of greens in there that you wouldn’t eat otherwise, and we all need more GREENS, trust me on this. Every leafy green in the produce section is packed full of vitamins and nutrients, and the easiest way to eat them is in a salad. Also, you will drop some pounds after a few months. I lost ten pounds in a year by doing nothing more than having a salad every day. I wasn’t trying, either. It just happened. (And that has never just happened!) And the more RAW food you eat, the more ALKALINE your system will be, which is what you want. All disease starts at its most basic level from an acidic atmosphere in the body.
Yogurt is another staple. This is the kind I eat if I can’t get it raw. If I have it plain, I might add either fresh fruit or granola to it. Sometimes I have it for lunch – other times it’s breakfast – but I do try to have it every day. Yogurt has probiotics that our tummies need (especially if you take antibiotics too often), and while you can buy probiotics over the counter now, I prefer to get mine from food.
Fruit is always around, and you can’t eat enough (forget about the sugar content). Apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, blackberries, dates, pears, kiwi, grapes, apricots, plums, passion fruit (my favorite!) are bought often. I’m not a big melon or citrus girl, though I do buy watermelon from time to time – it’s an excellent natural detoxifier.
Eggs are a must! I plan to do a blog about this, so I won’t go into depth here, but research has shown that the ‘don’t eat eggs because they’re full of cholesterol and will increase your risk for heart disease‘ belief was a big ol’ misnomer. There is cholesterol you eat (dietary), and then there are your cholesterol levels (that your body naturally produces). Eating eggs does not affect your cholesterol levels, as once thought. Also keep in mind that eggs contain lutein, zeaxanthin, protein, a slew of vitamins and minerals, all amino acids, omegas 3 and 6, choline, the ‘good’ fat, and they are one of the rare foods with naturally occurring vitamin D. Try to get free range eggs from hens that eat an organic diet. We have three hens – this is one of our girls. (They’re a little spoiled.)
Nuts are another staple – most importantly almonds and walnuts. Keep these at work for when you get the munchies. You will get many more nutrients from the nuts than a bag of chips or a candy bar that you could get from the vending machine. Almonds contain calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, phosphorous, zinc, fiber, folic acid, phytochemicals and protein. Walnuts contain omega 3, phytosterols, vitamin E, B vitamins, L-arginine, melatonin and have anti-oxidant properties. Pecans and brazil nuts are next in line nutritionally, but I prefer almonds and walnuts. (If you have teeth problems, you might want to go easy on the nuts. They have phytic acid in them which – if not handled properly with soaking and such – will make your issues worse.)
Wheatgrass is a very new addition. I’ll be honest…I hadn’t even heard of it until about four years ago. And even then, I had NO idea just how powerful these green blades of grass were. Along with chlorophyll, it’s also packed with amino acids, iron, calcium and vitamins A, C and E. It’s also a natural alkalizer – remember most of our diseases and sicknesses today start, at their very cores, with an off balance pH. This grass restores balance to the body. And get this – 92 out of 102 minerals from soil are absorbed by wheatgrass, so you get them, as well. I can’t stress just how potent wheatgrass is nutritionally. I encourage you to read more about it. If you can’t juice it fresh, you can buy some from the freezer section of your local real food store.
I have a steamer that I use often. If you don’t have one, get one. I put everything in there – carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, yellow squash, zucchini…you get the idea. I’ll either eat as is or mix with basmati rice.
I also have a dehydrator that I’m still experimenting with. It’s wonderful for preserving a lot of the nutrients in foods that would otherwise be cooked out. Fruit leather is fun to make. Watermelon slices are one of my favorites.
Potatoes are limited. I like red/new potatoes (I bake with fresh rosemary from the garden and olive oil), but sweet potatoes are the better choice for nutrients. I bake them, or sometimes I make wedge fries out of them.
Beans are something that most of us don’t eat enough of (including me), but my favorites are kidney beans, black beans and garbanzos (I just started making my own hummus – yum). Lentils and black-eyes peas are also quite healthy (I eat them occasionally).
Condiments and spices. For low to medium heat, I use extra virgin olive oil. For medium to high, I use coconut oil. Both are the BEST oils to cook with, and they are the healthiest. Turmeric is used about as much as salt (not that white table salt – these two only: Herbamare and Himala Salt) and pepper (preferably fresh ground mixed peppercorns). We almost always have rosemary, basil and oregano in the garden, so I use them whenever I can. Remember I’m a Southern girl, so I like my mayo. So far, I have found Vegenaise to be my favorite, but I’ve recently started making my own (which is much better all around). I don’t use ketchup often, but it’s Woodstock when I do (unless I make it). Mustard is organic dijon by Woodstock Farms. I use marinated garlic cloves often. Also, Daisy is my sour cream choice.
Butter and cheese. Well, we know from my last blog that I only use real butter. I recently found some made from goat’s milk, which I really liked and want to get more of, but my main staple is raw butter. I do get Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter now and then. And cheese – who doesn’t love cheese? Please avoid the sickly yellow/orange cheese, though! Have you ever seen milk that color? If your cheese is colored, something has been added to make it colored. If the additive is annatto only, and it’s listed in the ingredients (like the block of muenster I just bought), that’s one thing. But Kraft and Velveeta? Back away from the orange cheese! I also don’t use prepackaged shredded cheese because of the ‘anti-caking’ powder that has been added to it. I buy a block of whatever cheese I want shredded and get the grater out. (Sometimes you can find freshly grated cheese, which is good, too, as long as it is just cheese with no additional ingredients.) Raw cheese (any dairy should be raw) is what I usually have on hand.
I love pickles, but only organic – there are too many additives (including artificial coloring) in the others. I have popcorn occasionally, but I do not buy the bags in the grocery store – very, very unsafe due to the linings and the microwaving. Instead, I buy organic popcorn, put it in a metal bowl with some oil, cover and shake gently over a heated stove eye until it starts popping. It takes about fifteen minutes, but it’s well worth it. Add butter and salt and enjoy! And yes…I even have chocolate! It’s delicious, and you only need one little bite a day – trust me on this!
I enjoy soup every now and then. Amy’s is one of my favorites!
Did I hear someone mention peanut butter and jelly? Why yes – those are staples of mine, too! Sunflower nut butter is also tasty and very nutritious.
Garlic bread. I love garlic bread, but after searching and searching, I just couldn’t find a brand that I was satisfied with as far as ingredients, so I went without for some time. Then I got smart – I made my own. I picked up French bread from a favorite French cafe of mine, cut it into pieces and then topped with olive oil, butter, garlic, multiple herbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It tasted better – and it was much healthier – than any I could buy!
How about chips and crackers? Everyone likes to snack now and then, right? Garden of Eatin’, Back to Nature, and Good Health Natural Foods are some of my favorites. And don’t forget the cookies – how about the ‘airline cookies‘? They are amazing with coffee!
A new addition to the pantry is dried mulberries. They taste like raisins, but they’re not as sweet. They’re also super high in vitamin C and iron. Navitas Naturals is the brand I found, and I’m definitely getting more! Next time you feel a cold coming on, load up on the mulberries!
We don’t eat any chicken (since we have them in the backyard), but we do eat seafood and beef. We get salmon from Washington state along with halibut. We have grouper and shrimp occasionally, but make sure you never buy farm raised anything, only wild caught. The beef must have been feed an organic diet consisting of grass and non GMO feed with no antibiotics.
In sum, eat as organic as you can for everything. Eat more raw food (including dairy).
So, I do believe that ought to keep you busy for a while! Bon appétit!
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