Entries in clean eating (6)

Monday
Mar122012

Why Processed Foods are so Harmful

A processed food is one that has been altered from its natural state to make it cheaper, more convenient, more appealing or to extend its shelf life – or even all four. Foods you eat should be clean, and by clean I mean as close to its natural state as possible. Processed foods are typically made in a factory, stripped of its natural goodness and usually injected with manmade preservatives.

A food that is natural and has not been tampered with is better for our health, mind, looks and waistline. It’s not to say that you should never have processed food – that would be extremely difficult. However you should make informed decisions when choosing which processed foods to buy. My typical rule of thumb is to go with the packaged food that has the least amount of ingredients, all of which I can pronounce and know what they are.  For instance, organic natural yogurt has only a few ingredients and is much better for you because it has retained a lot of its natural goodness.  White bread on the other hand, has been stripped of its natural goodness and injected with additives.
 

Here are the worst processed foods:
- Frozen meals
- Packaged cakes, cookies and muffins
- Chocolate, candy and chips
- White bread, pasta and rice
- Processed meats (chicken nuggets, hot dogs, lunch meats)
- Soda
- Breakfast cereal (there are healthy options such as the Nature’s Path)
- Diet foods

Food additives and weight gain
Processed foods became big in the 1970s when food manufacturers realised that mass-produced foods that could last a long time would lead to more profits. It’s much cheaper for them to take poor quality food, add sugar (or sweeteners) for flavour and add additives for colour and to extend the shelve life, as opposed to using fresh, high-quality ingredients that spoil after a few days.  But here’s the thing, during this process these packaged foods lose almost all of its nutrients – vitamins and minerals.  The more nutrients a food contains, the more it nourishes your body and the less likely you are to feel hungry and crave sugar. The more processed foods you eat, the more toxic your body becomes. It becomes difficult to feel satisfied with what you eat; you’ll feel hungry and your body will cling to fat.  Studies also show that preservatives slow down the metabolism and interfere with fat-burning hormones.

In addition to reducing the nutritional value of food, processed foods have other health implications.  Colouring, flavouring and texture-enhancing agents are added to foods to make them more appealing. But some of these additives can be harmful.  Trans fats, which is added to store-bought goods, such as cookies and muffins to extend their shelf life, is one of the more harmful. Trans fats have been linked to some cancers, infertility and heart disease.  Although food manufacturers have started to remove trans fats from some packaged foods, it’s important to know which foods contain trans fats (there are still many of them out there!) Please avoid them at all costs.

Tips for avoiding trans fats
Always check food labels. Although trans fats are less widely used, they can still be found in the following:
- Anything that includes the words “hydrogenated" or “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients list
- Margarines
- Fried foods
- Doughnuts, cookies, muffins, crackers
- Processed meats
- Salad dressing
- Prepared meals
- Ice cream

 

What type of packaged foods do you turn to that are healthier than other packaged foods? In this day and age where life is hectic and we're often on the go, it's great to have a go to list of healthier packaged foods that we can pick up when we need to. Are there any processed foods that you know aren't healthy for you but you just can't seem to give them up? 

 

 

Clean Nutrition - Toronto Nutrition & Weight Loss - www.CLEANnutrition.ca

Tuesday
Mar062012

Carrot and Coriander Soup

The other day I was at the restaurant Fresh, a vegan restaurant in Toronto, for lunch.  I had a delicious carrot soup.  I've had carrot soup many times however what made this soup stand out is the coriander. Coriander is used  to lift other ingredients - it enhances and promotes the other flavours in the dish. Coriander and cilantro (the seeds of the plant are usually referred to as coriander and cilantro are the leaves) have various health benefits including cholesterol-lowering effects, antimicrobial properties and antianxiety action.

 

Carrot soup is easy to make. A bag of organic carrots are inexpensive. You can make a big batch for the family or freeze a batch if you are only cooking for one, unless you don't mind eating carrot soup twice a day for 3 days.

Here is the recipe adapted from Fresh:
Serves 6


2 tbsp olive oil (or grapeseed oil)
2 onions, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp coriander, ground (I use my coffee grinder)
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp marjoram
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped (if using organic carrots, I don’t peel them)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
8 cups vegetable stock
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp sea salt
Cayenne pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes until browned.
2. Add the coriander, garlic and marjoram to the onions and cook for 1 minute.
3. Add the carrots and sweet potato to the pot. Sauté for 1 minute.
4. Pour the vegetable stock into the pot of ingredients and bring to a boil. Let simmer until carrots and sweet potato are soft. Add the fresh cilantro, sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
5. Purée, using hand blender or food processor. Garnish with some fresh cilantro.

 

I hope you enjoy the soup!

Saturday
Jan072012

Creating Habits for Eating CLEAN

If I'm away and not eating my healthiest, as soon as I get home I'm back to eating CLEAN and it takes little effort. Why is it so easy? Because it has become a habit.  We are creatures of habit. Habits help us get through the day. It makes satisfying our needs to eat, sleep, work, wash... easier to accomplish because it's habitual and effortless.  Think of how easy it is for you to make dinner in your kitchen, you know where everything is - you've done it many times (hopefully!).  But if you're in someone else's kitchen, it's much more complicated and it takes longer.

Habits are powerful however perhaps there are habits that you would like to change.  And maybe there are habits that you've already tried to change, such as eating healthier.  Habits are very hard to change since they are so ingrained in us, they are second nature. But once you've make the change, that healthy eating habit, for instance, then becomes almost automatic to us.  When you apply personal strengths, such as determination, persistence, fortitude and optimism, you can make it happen.

Break down your goals into smaller tasks.  For instance, if you want to shift to a CLEAN diet, you can first focus on developing a new habit for eating healthy breakfasts. Once accomplished, you can then move on to lunch and then dinner.  So how long does it take to form a new habit? The established rule on habits is 21-28 days, however more recent research from the UK Health Behavior Research Centre came out with research that found it took 66 days to form a habit. I would have to agree with that number. 

Remember to keep your eye on the prize.  Don't let setbacks discourage you, instead use them as fuel to succeed.  Be gently on yourself and remind yourself of the all the times when you've triumphed over adversity in the past.  I know you can do it!!  Believe in yourself.

 

Food Log

Days 4 and 5 were very similar - I am a creature of habit.

Breakfast - Day 4 & 5:

My day always starts with 2-3 glasses of hot water.

Cucumber, 1/2 apple, romaine lettuce, spinach, parsley, ginger, lemon juice

Avocado and cucumber mash on gluten free toast.  (I crave this when I get up! Not a bad thing to crave.)

Lunch - Day 4 & 5:

High energy salad: Mixed greens, avocado, cilantro, parsley, mint, basil with drizzled avocado oil

Dinner - Day 4

Salad - Black bean, corn, red pepper, cucumber, cilantro and lime salad.

7x7 herbal tea

Dinner - Day 5

A little bit of whatever I had in my fridge.  Homemade sunflower dip (see Day 3 post for recipe), rice crackers, clementines and Ying Yang Soyfood organic tofu.  This tofu is so good.  The bf does not like tofu with the exception of their flavoured variety, which he really likes. He's my barometer for what most people will like.

7x7 herbal tea

Hot and warm water throughout the day.

Tuesday
Jan032012

Day 3 - CLEAN Nutrition for 30 Days

Breakfast

Shake: Cucumber, romaine lettue, 1/2 apple, parsley, lemon, ginger.

Green shakes are packed with nutrients.  If you're starting out, the apple is key to balancing any green smoothie.  Green shakes can be bitter but the sweetness of an apple balances it, making the green juice tasty.  I don't always add an apple because I enjoy the bitterness.  I need that to start my day.

Cucumber and avocado mash on one slice of gluten-free bread.

Green tea. 

Lunch

Lentil Soup - I had to finish the last of the Good Luck New Year's batch.

Dinner

I asked the BF to throw something CLEAN together and this is what he came up with:

Tomato, bok choy, portbello mushroom, onion, garlic and tofu topped with fresh cilantroBragg Liquid Aminos and sunflower seed dip on gluten free wrap.

Good job BF - Very tasty!  I love fresh cilantro.

7x7 tea, hot and room temperature water throughout the day.

Sunflower Seed Dip

  • 1 cups hulled sunflower seeds (ideally soaked for 8 hours, see why below)
  • 1/4 cup hulled sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1 lemon - juice of it
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Top with hemp hearts (optional)

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until you get the desired texture - I like my dip smooth. You may add some water if you're having difficulty blending.

** Hemp seeds are a great source of protein, omega 3, manganese, magnesium, vitamin E

The hemp hearts are great to sprinkle into shakes, oatmeal, yogurt... While hemp seeds are a bit tougher to eat so you are better off blending them.

 

Why soak nuts and seeds?

Soaking nuts and seeds beings the sprouting process. This increases enzyme activity, improves absoprtion of its nutritions, and increases digestibility.  The nutrients significantly increase once the sprouting process being.

 

 

Tuesday
Jan032012

Day 2 - CLEAN Nutrition for 30 Days

Eating CLEAN is easy. It does take a bit of practice in the beginning and some getting used to, but it's well worth the benefits.  Organization is key.  If you are not organized and don't have CLEAN food accessible, you'll likely grab that muffin or burger because it's quick and available.  I usually go to the market on the weekend. When I get home, I clean my vegetables, cut them and prepare them for the week.  I typically eat at work, so I pack my breakfast and lunch in the morning - much of the final prep is done the night before.

Breakfast

Green Shake. 1 cucumber, handful of spinach, 1/2 apple, 1/2 lemon, handful of parsley

Cucumber and avocado mash on one gluten-free toast.  This was the first time I had this and may I say DELICIOUS!! I diced up about 1/4 cup of cucumber, mashed in half an avocado and added a dash of Bragg Liquid Aminos.  Bragg Liquid Aminos contains 16 amino acids - the building blocks to protein. It tastes like tamari or soya sauce.

7 x 7 tea: This tea contains 49 herbs.

Lunch

High energy salad. 

- Mixed greens, parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, 1/2 avocado, 1 tomato, sesame seeds, drizzled avocado oil.  I had a burst of energy after having the salad.  It’s full of nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, fiber, calcium and manganese.

Snack

Lentil soup.

- Lentils are an excellent source of fibre.  In addition to lowering cholesterol, lentils also help manage blood sugar levels. They are also source of folate (folic acid) and tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps manage appetite.

Dinner

Lentil soup (It was that good!)

Rice crackers with homemade nut spread: sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, parsley, onion and garlic.

7 x 7 tea

I had hot and room temperature water throughout the day.