Tag Archives: organic

Whole Foods Grocery List

whole foods 1

Want to achieve optimal health and vitality? Then buy these foods and ONLY these foods. Packaged, processed foods are largely devoid of nutrients, contain ingredients we can’t pronounce and the body doesn’t recognize (because it’s man-made food!), and can alter our brain chemistry so we ravenously crave them. GET OUT OF THE BOX!! Your health depends on it.

Vegetables4-7 servings per day

Brassica family

  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnip
  • Watercress

Carotene Family

  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Corn
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Pumpkin
  • Winter squash- acorn, butternut, spaghetti
  • Radicchio
  • Red pepper
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomatoes

Allium Family

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Scallions

Other

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Mushrooms, especially maitake and shiitake
  • Jicama
  • Okra
  • Parsnip
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Summer squash- yellow and zucchini

Fruits- 2-3 servings per day

Flavonoid Family

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Figs
  • Purple grapes
  • Plums
  • Pomegranate
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Carotene Family

  • Apricot
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon

Citrus Family

  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Tangerines

Other

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Pineapple

Beverages

  • Filtered water
  • Chai tea
  • Green tea
  • Herbal teas- ginger, chamomile, liver detox, slippery elm, rooibos
  • Vegetable juices
  • Coconut water
  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk

Whole Grains- 1-4 servings per day

  • Whole grain breads
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa

Nuts & Seeds1-2 servings per day

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Nut butters
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

Legumes– 1-2 servings per day

  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas, hummus
  • Edamame
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Tempeh
  • Miso soup

Cold-Water Fish– 3-5 servings per week

  • Salmon- wild
  • Sardines
  • Scallops
  • Tuna- eat sparingly due to high mercury content and unsustainable fishing practices
  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Halibut
  • Trout

 Animal Foods2-4 servings per week

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Turkey

Dairy– 1-2 servings per day, if tolerated

  • Butter
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Cheese- feta, goat, asiago, parmesan, romano, mozzarella
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt

Herbs & SpicesUse liberally

Fresh Herbs & Spices

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Ginger root
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon

Dry Herbs & Spices

  • Bay leaves
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

Miscellaneous

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Maca powder
  • Dark chocolate
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Sea veggies- hijiki, nori, wakame, dulse
  • Olive oil
  • Salsa
  • Sea salt
  • Stevia
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup- grade B
  • Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • Vanilla extract

Notes

  • Eat organic, fresh, seasonal produce as much as possible. Farmer’s markets are a convenient and cheap way to accomplish this.
  • Eat organic animal products and pastured/grass-fed, if possible. Full-fat dairy is preferable as well.
  • Wild-caught fish are usually preferable to farmed.
  • It’s all about quality over quantity. It’s going to be more expensive to buy organic, but well worth the additional costs.
  • Check the ingredients labels on all packaged goods- don’t buy anything with names you can’t pronounce.
  • Diversity of foods is key. Buy different fruits and vegetables each week for a varied nutritional profile.
  • Shopping primarily at Whole Foods and farmer’s markets will help make the above suggestions easier.
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Reflections on a Cleansing Meal Plan

Spring has arrived! And with it, hopefully, a renewed desired to eat healthy. At least that’s what I was thinking. Though my eating habits never seriously stray into the realm of bad choices, I felt that my boyfriend, Greg, and I were due for a period of conscious clean eating. Nothing too extreme was necessary; this was not a true cleanse- we still ate food! I just wanted to help relieve some problems that were most likely stemming from food choices.

Specifically, Greg has been having some pretty severe gastrointestinal issues lately, which I suspect is a result of his dairy consumption… Actually, he’s had these problems for quite some time, and I am anxious to get to the bottom of it. So, I eliminated dairy to see if this is indeed the culprit. In addition, I basically took out any commonly allergenic foods, such as wheat, soy, and corn, in order to give the digestive system a rest. This is probably pretty obvious, but processed foods, sugars, coffee, and alcohol were also avoided. All animal products, with the exception of fish, were eliminated as well.

Overall, the purpose of this whole foods-based “cleanse” was to provide our bodies with an influx of nutrients through the consumption of organic, unrefined, alkalizing, allergen-free foods that are easily digested and absorbed by the body. Out with the crap and in with the nutrients! SO, I made this 5-day cleansing meal plan to make my goal an empirical, easily obtainable reality. First, let me go over several of the food choices listed on the plan. I want you guys to know there is a method (and reason) to my madness!

  • Smoothies: This is probably a pretty obvious one… These delectable treats are a great source of concentrated nutrients in an easy-to-digest form. Remember, you still have to “eat” your smoothie though! The more you chew your foods, and even liquids, the easier it is to digest them, allowing the body to focus on more important things, like immunity, detoxification, and energy production.
  • Oatmeal: Though this may seem like an unlikely food choice for a whole foods cleanse, I included it for its excellent fiber content and, to be quite honest, its ability to enhance my bowel movements exponentially. TMI. Also, I know some of you are probably anti-agave, so feel free to skip that ingredient and just add cinnamon. Or maple syrup, whatever 🙂 
  • Sardines, Salmon, and Cod: While this meal plan is mostly vegan, I thought adding a little fish into the mix would be good idea because of their high omega-3 content. These fatty acids are a powerful source of anti-inflammatory properties, which are important for me to consume due to my active lifestyle. I want to reduce the incidents of stiff and swollen joints as much as possible! In addition, there are virtually no other significant sources of protein in the diet, except nutritional yeast, and I didn’t want to go hungry (or increase the potential for succumbing to cravings). I don’t necessarily believe in starving oneself during a cleanse. 
  • Beets: These sweet, albeit messy root veggies contain a group of phytonutrients called betalains that have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory, detoxification, and antioxidant support. Detox and cleanse are two words that go hand-in-hand, so I obviously included lots of beets in the plan. And who doesn’t love red poop?! Sorry, there are way too many references to bowel movements in this post. 
  • Dulse: If you don’t know about the wonders of dulse (and sea veggies in general), then listen up! They contain pretty much every trace mineral known to man in super concentrated amounts. You only need a little sprinkle of dulse flakes… so put it on everything!
  • Cilantro: This is another potent detoxifying food. Cilantro can actually chelate (remove) heavy metals from your body so eat this tasty herb often for maximum benefit.
  • Soup/Broth: Liquids are easy for the body to digest and assimilate and soups/broths are mineral rich, warming, calming, and of course, cleansing!
  • Fruit: Though I didn’t want to over-do it with sugars, fruit is a natural source of the sweet stuff so I allowed a little into my plan. Also, fruit is a great snack and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 
  • Various Veggies:The meal plan is predominantly a plant-based diet because these are the foods we need for cleansing/detoxifying the body. The more the merrier!
  • Chocolate: I know what you’re thinking… Chocolate?! Really?! This is definitely not a usual suspect when undertaking a cleanse, but I included it for several reasons. First, like I already said, I don’t believe in depriving or starving oneself when cleaning up the diet. Having a small piece of chocolate at the end of night was a pleasant reward for how hard we were working on eating optimally. Also, dark chocolate contains minerals and antioxidant properties, so the calories are actually quite nutrient-dense. Finally, recent research shows that chocolate is fermented in the gut by our friendly bacteria into usable antioxidants and fiber. Pretty cool, huh?!

Example of Shopping List

Yours doesn’t have to look exactly like this… but try to think lots of fresh. organic, veggies in a variety of different colors and shapes. Don’t just buy broccoli and carrots. Expand your horizons and try a few vegetables you’ve never bought before. Different vegetables have different nutritional profiles, so eating the rainbow is encouraged for maximum nutrient intake.

  • Ginger
  • Green onions
  • Lemons
  • Mushrooms
  • Cilantro
  • Spinach
  • Red pepper
  • Red onion
  • White onion
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Radishes
  • Mixed greens
  • Arugula/bitter greens
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Nori sheets
  • Brown rice
  • Spirulina
  • Flax seeds
  • Canned salmon and sardines with bones (bones=calcium)
  • Miso paste
  • Chickpeas
  • Coconut oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Dulse flakes
  • Cod or other cold water fish
  • Almond milk
  • Hijiki

Strengths of Cleansing Plan

  • Lots of smoothies! I drink them regularly, but not necessarily daily, so it felt great to consume them every morning and notice the extra boost of energy they give me. The alkalizing properties of the veggies offset any excess acidity in the body.
  • Lots of veggies! Actually, that’s pretty much all I ate for the week. There are just way too many reasons why veggies rule to even explain… just eat them. They cleanse, nourish, detoxify, and improve overall health.
  • Lots of bowel movements! Geez, again with the BMs. However, with all the fiber I was consuming, its hardly surprising that this would be the case. If you have any issues with constipation, then this short-term diet is for you! Eating an abundance of vegetables, fruits, and non-glutinous grains is your healthiest and cheapest option in correcting this problem.
  • Some fish! I included three servings of fish for the week because of their lean, easily digestible protein, non-allergenic qualities, and potent anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Just to stress the point: Deprivation wasn’t my intention- eating a variety of the healthiest foods possible and eliminating all the crappy ones sounds more like it.
  • No meat! Though I have a new-found love and appreciation for carnivorous foods, I excluded them from the plan because of their acidic, digestion-challenged nature. I only had five days to really cleanse and detoxify my body, and keeping meat in the equation would hinder these efforts. Giving the digestive tract a little break every now and then is always a good idea. However, small amounts of pastured, organic meats and poultry can be a welcome part of one’s regular diet and is encouraged.
  • No dairy! It’s allergenic, irritating to the GI tract, constipating, acidic, and unnecessary. Not that I don’t eat it… I just consume in moderation and definitely think that complete elimination from the diet is essential during any period of clean eating. Also, Greg is likely lactose intolerant and NEEDS to give his system a break. I suggest that you do the same if you are prone to a dairy allergy or intolerance as well. Sometimes, if you are able to properly and thoroughly repair the gut, then you can eat dairy products on occasion even if they have caused you problems in the past. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed for Greg!
  • My health goals are being realized. I strive to live a positive, energetic, and comfortable life as much as possible and, though I make mistakes and bad decisions just like everyone else, I don’t make it a habit. The point of this cleanse was to inch a little closer to that goal, without killing myself.

Weaknesses of Cleansing Plan

  • The food items should have been more general. For example, there really was no reason to specifically list the vegetables needed for the lentil soup or sauteed veggies in coconut oil. When I was at the grocery store, I took pains to get everything on my list and in the perfect quantity. This was both time consuming and superfluous. Just buy whatever is in season, on sale, and/or tastes good to you, as long as its organic! However, some of the foods are listed for a specific reason, i.e., their detoxifying and antioxidant properties, and should continue to be explicitly stated on the plan.
  • I included way too many liquids. Did I really expect to drink 6+ glasses of water, hot water with lemon in the AM, 3 different types of tea, milk thistle seed extract with water, and apple cider vinegar in water before meals? Oh, and throw in a cup of miso soup or mineral broth and a smoothie while you’re at it. I was literally drinking something all day, every day. And urinating. A LOT. Frankly, it’s just not realistic. In the future I will limit the beverage intake to 1-2 cups of herbal tea/day and allow for less water consumption if broths, soups, and smoothies are on the menu.
  • There was way too much required prep time. Luckily, I had plenty of time at that point to prepare the meals, but someone with a hectic work schedule would definitely find this plan unrealistic to implement. However, making everything for the week on Sunday night is a possibility, as is including leftovers on the next day’s menu.
  • I wouldn’t recommend eating this way for long-term, simply because there is not enough protein. Add in some pastured meat, tempeh, organic chicken, and beans and you’re golden.

Overall, my experience with this cleansing meal plan was generally positive and left me with a greater sense of vitality and energy. There were a few improvements to my health that I noticed:

  • I felt whatever the opposite of bloated means. You know that feeling of “skinniness” you get when you haven’t eaten for awhile? Not that I’m encouraging such behavior, but you know what I mean. Well, that’s how I felt all week, even though I was actually eating quite a lot! This is because I wasn’t consuming allergenic, bloating substances, such as bread and cheese.
  • My energy levels were steady and high all day, every day during the cleanse. I believe this may have been because I wasn’t drinking coffee and, therefore, spiking my cortisol levels. These spikes will lead to an eventual crash and can affect one’s circadian rhythm. Also, eating such healthy foods certainly helped as well.
  • Though the first couple days were kind of rough, things improved each day from there on out. This is a pretty common occurrence when eating such a detoxifying diet because the body is flushing out all the built-up toxins, which is obviously going to feel a little unpleasant. Bear with it and keep in mind the ultimate reward. Sometimes things have to uncomfortable before they’re comfortable.
  • While I experienced gastrointestinal bliss, Greg wasn’t so lucky. I suspect this may have been because of his body’s need to adapt to the new foods he was and wasn’t eating; namely, the increase in veggie intake and elimination of dairy products. Sometimes adding vegetables to the diet in large quantities can initially cause bloating and gas, but this usually subsides after a few days, as it did for Greg. Also, when the body is used to eating an allergenic food, such as cheese, on a regular basis, it builds up a “tolerance” to such foods. When taken out of the diet, the results can initially be uncomfortable, but again, this is usually a short term issue. In addition, after suffering GI damage, it takes the body awhile to repair itself, especially when one is feeding it irritating substances at the same time. Simply eliminating allergenic foods for a few days isn’t necessarily going to fix things immediately. Healing the body may require a long term effort. In Greg’s case, cutting out dairy has been helpful in reducing indigestion symptoms, but hasn’t completely eliminated the issue. This goes to show the complexities of the human body; there isn’t always a simple solution to a problem. Back to the drawing board!

Eating as clean as possible was certainly beneficial and is something I plan on doing every few months now. I’ll just call it… health insurance!

Though I’m back to my normal diet, I still basically try to eat this way… primarily veggies, with small portions of meat and fish 3-4x a week, whole grains, and limited processed foods. The key to living a healthy lifestyle is consistency. I’m not saying you can’t eat the occasional slice of pizza or piece of cake. You just can’t eat it daily. And besides, eating good feels good. Give it a try and see with your own eyes, and healthier body.

Recipes

Coming soon!

When you eat healthy, you can climb mountains, no problem!

When you eat healthy, you can climb mountains, no problem!

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

“How can you afford to eat exclusively organic?!”  “Aren’t organic and grass fed products, like, double the cost of regular food?!”

These are some of the most frequent questions I’m asked when talking to people about healthy eating and living.  And while yes, organic food is usually more expensive than conventional, it most certainly does not have to break the bank! As a broke student (graduating this month!), I totally understand budgetary concerns, but the importance of eating quality food is just too valuable to compromise.  Before I give tips on how to save money when buying organic, first, I’d like to delve into the REASONS behind why eating organic, high quality food is so crucial to our health.

  1. Organic is nutritionally superior to conventional- Organic crops contain higher levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.  In addition, grass-fed animals are lower in saturated fat and higher in omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids, vitamin E, and antioxidant nutrients than grain fed animals.  Plus, though the research is conflicting, I truly believe organic tastes better than conventional, and I know I’m not the only one!
  2. Omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is lower in grass-fed animals- When cows are allowed to eat their natural diet of grass, their body composition (i.e., their meat) will be in its most ideal state, meaning it will contain higher levels of the healthy omega-3 fats and lower levels of the inflammatory omega-6 fats.  Grain fed animals have a much higher O6: O3 ratio because of their unnatural diet of soy and corn, which is problematic in terms of health for a variety of reasons.  Excessive amounts of omega-6 fats have been implicated in the pathology of numerous diseases and conditions , such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, and asthma. In addition, these fats are responsible for inflammation in the body, which is increasingly being viewed as the fundamental reason behind the genesis of chronic and degenerative diseases.  I could go on and on about the importance of maintaining a low O6: O3 ratio in the body, but that’s for another blog post!
  3. Organic food must be certified to contain no hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, or other chemicals- This is pretty self-explanatory.  Do we want these synthetic, mood altering substances in our bodies? I certainly don’t.  Creating widespread antibiotic resistance in the population sounds pretty devastating as well…
  4. Organically produced crops are more environmentally sound- Since organic crops must be grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides, this naturally leads to less damaging run-off and environmental toxins.  Also, farmers that grow organic crops tend to be better stewards of the land than Big Farm operations, using more environmentally sustainable practices, such as crop rotation, cover crops, and biological pest control.
  5. It’s the ethical and responsible thing to do- Commercial slaughterhouses and factory farms receive large subsidies from the federal government, making it possible for them to sell their products at cheaper prices than organic farmers.  Also, while their farming techniques are more cost-effective, the long-term health of the soil certainly isn’t taken into account.  They are trying to maximize THEIR profit at the expense of OUR environment. The inhumane practices going on at commercial slaughterhouses are rampant as well.  Just the other day, legislation was passed in Idaho making it a crime, punishable of up to a YEAR in prison, for someone not authorized to be in an agricultural facility to tape or record the conduct in these facilities. This is obviously to dissuade activists from shining light on the deplorable practices occurring that these slaughterhouses. By buying organic, you’re voting with your dollar to support smaller, more environmentally and ethically friendly enterprises, and that feels good!

So, now that you have a few reasons for choosing organic over conventional, let’s move on to how you can make it happen:

  • Since organically produced food is nutritionally superior, you can eat less and get more out of it, nutrient-wise.
  • Buy local! Shop at farmer’s markets! Not only are you supporting local farmers, but the produce is cheaper than what you will usually find at grocery stores, AND you are being environmentally responsible because less fossil fuels are used for transportation needs. Go towards the end of the day for even better deals; they usually start auctioning off the last of their produce at bargain prices so to get rid of it. Here is a thorough list of all the farmer’s markets in San Francisco, courtesy of Stephanie Morimoto’s blog, Together in Food: http://togetherinfood.wordpress.com/s-f-farmers-markets-the-full-list/
  • Purchase cheap cuts of meat and throw it in your Crock Pot. Even tough cuts will be juicy and soft after some slow cookin’.  Also, try to buy your meat with the bone still attached; it will be more nutrient dense AND cheaper.  After you slow cook the meat, you can use the remaining bones to make bone broth, so every part of the animal is being used as well.
  • Speaking of bone broth, roasting a whole chicken (or buying an organic, roasted chicken from Whole Foods for $16)  is economical because the meat can be used throughout the week for sandwiches, salads, wraps, soups, etc. and then the bones can be made into bone broth.  Another great way to use the whole animal, and cheaply!
  • Organ meats will be substantially cheaper than muscle meats, though I don’t necessarily recommend them unless you’re a fan.  I tried making liver and onions the other night, and oh my god, I literally puked in my mouth upon tasting it.  SO. GROSS. However, making it into a pate is more palatable, I hear.
  • Use the bulk bins at natural food stores. It’s usually cheaper per ounce when using them. Some of the items found here include: nuts, seeds, flours, grains, sea veggies, herbs, spices, and pastas. Whole Foods stores usually have a pretty decent bulk section, and if you live in San Francisco, Rainbow Grocery is unparalleled in its bulk bin selection and prices.
  • Grass fed ground beef is usually around $8/lb, though I’ve gotten it on sale from Whole Foods for $3/lb. You must ALWAYS look for deals. I use it to make tacos, chili, and koftas.
  • Apparently, Costco sells affordable grass-fed products when bought in large quantities. However, I don’t have a Costco membership and cannot attest to this being completely accurate.
  • Making mineral broth from the ends, stems and leaves of veggies is a super economical way of using the whole plant to your nutritional and budgetary advantage. I will post my recipe for making this nutrient-dense and delicious broth ASAP!
  • Refer to the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” charts on Environmental Working Group’s website. When buying exclusively organic is out of your budget range, like it is for me on occasion, using this chart helps to prioritize what to buy organically and conventionally produced.
  • Buy canned salmon to get your fish-fix without spending your last dollar (or $20) on a pound of fresh salmon. Make sure it is wild-caught, Pacific/Alaskan/Sockeye salmon. Atlantic salmon will be farm-raised and fed corn, which is obviously not their natural diet and will alter their O6: O3 ratio.
  • Make your own dressings, dips, etc. Buying the raw ingredients and putting them together is a lot cheaper than store-bought items.  You’re not only paying for the food, but for the packaging as well.  Shop outside the box! Also, a majority of packaged items contain low quality, rancid oils and other hidden ingredients that don’t serve our body. When you make your own, you know EXACTLY what you’re eating.
  • Grow your own food.  Okay, so I know this is impractical for those of us that live in a city, but windowsill herb gardens are totally feasible, as is renting plots of land from community gardens in your area.  To be honest, I don’t grow my own food (hypocrite!), but maybe you can and will!

So, there you have it folks, a variety of ways to eat organic, high quality food on a budget. I hope this gives you some inspiration and motivation to take control of your diet and make the best decisions possible for your body.  It will thank you, I promise.

Does anyone have any more suggestions or tips for eating healthy on a budget?