Health Benefits of Growing Your Own Produce

Health Benefits of Growing Your Own Fresh Produce

As I was writing a GMO-Free Shopping Guide for you, I thought it would be great to talk about the many great benefits of growing fresh produce to get your interest going.

There are many reasons people choose to grow their own fruits and vegetables at home, from saving money to having access to produce without chemicals. There also happen to be quite a few health benefits to choosing fresh produce, especially when you grow it yourself. Here are some health benefits to keep in mind.

It is Loaded With Nutrients

Fresh produce, including fruits, vegetables, and herbs, have tons of nutrients. Many of these are considered superfoods, which have a higher amount of vitamins and minerals. Some good superfoods are blueberries, kale, spinach, and strawberries. All fruits and veggies have a lot of nutrients you want, which are a higher amount with fresh produce. This includes vitamins C and A, vitamin D, folate, potassium, fiber, and lots of antioxidants.

You Can Prepare Well Balanced Meals

Thanks to the nutritious fresh produce and the convenience of having them at home, you can also use them to prepare healthier, more balanced meals. This is an excellent health benefit as your family might be struggling with malnutrition without even realizing it. Sure, you might be eating enough food, but not the right foods. Having fruits and vegetables right in your own backyard encourages you to prepare more of these balanced meals for the good of your family’s health. I share healthy recipes in my upcoming Clean Eating Plan guide.

Gardening is Good Exercise

Growing fresh produce in your backyard is great exercise and good for your health. It helps you burn calories, be more active, and can even get your kids involved. Plus, don’t forget that when you are outside more often by planting your veggies and herbs, you are going to get more vitamin D from the sunlight. This helps to prevent vitamin D deficiency, which is common for many people. Try to get everyone in the family involved in growing your own food and you will all benefit from it.

You Won’t Have Nasty Chemicals

Growing your own produce means you have full control of what is added to it. You can avoid harsh fertilizers in the soil and use pest control methods that are completely natural without chemicals in them. This is the same thing you get from buying organic produce, but when you grow it on your own, you have the convenience factor and save money at the same time. Less chemicals is always a good thing when you are feeding your family more fruits and veggies.

My next article will go over tips for beginners and those starting their first produce garden!

50 Tips for Organic & Clean Living

50 Tips for Organic & Clean Living

  1. Faucet water contains fluoride in all 50 states. Purchase a reverse osmosis filter to remove it. A Britta filter won’t be enough.
  2. Chlorine in water will evaporate after a few hours. Just leave it in a filter or jug in your fridge overnight.
  3. Though Nalgene bottles are BPA-free, they’ve been found to leech other chemicals. Use glass bottles to be 100% safe.
  4. Avoid synthetic anti-bacterial soaps. Residue on dishes and hands gets in the stomach and kills your “good bacteria.”
  5. Cooking with coconut oil is better than olive oil. It has more Omega-3s and doesn’t oxidize in sunlight or high temperatures.
  6. Traditional toothpaste is full of chemicals like Triclosan, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Diethanolamine (DEA). Even though you need to get used to the different taste, use alternative to traditional toothpaste. I use Thieves Ultra Toothpaste from Young Living (I am a member and distributor).
  7. Setting up a vertical garden takes a week or two, but can pay off in organic produce for years. Ask about our “growing your own food” guide!
  8. Coconut or almond based ice cream is a fantastic way to indulge, without eating dairy.
  9. Most organic eggs come from cooped up chickens fed organic produce. For true free range eggs, find a local farmer on localharvest.org.
  10. “Organically made” is not the same as “Organic.” “Freely Traded” is not the same as “Free Trade.” Those former foods aren’t certified.
  11. Avoid cheap vegetable oils, not only are they full of GMO’s they are often full  at all costs. They’re high in Omega-6 and very unhealthy.
  12. Most “grass fed” beef are still grain finished. For 100% grass fed beef, look for a local farm you can buy from.
  13. Many fruits have quite a high glycemic index. The exception are berries (including strawberries) which are low GI and very healthy.
  14. Think you can’t afford organic? Buy foods that are in season. It’s both more inexpensive and healthier. Buy it when it’s in season, then freeze it. It’s healthier than buying it out of season.
  15. Avoid large fish like tuna. Large fish eat small fish and build up higher concentrations of mercury.
  16. Avoid multi-vitamins. Instead, build your own vitamin stack. Most multi-vitamins skimp on the important nutrients.
  17. Consider supplementing Omega-3s. It’s perhaps the most important supplement of all for the health conscious.
  18. Look up and remember when your local farmer’s markets are. They’re cheaper, and you can ask directly about how the food was grown.
  19. Buy green cleaning products to avoid chemicals like ammonia or chlorine in your house. Ask about our “Detox & De-stressing Your Home” class.
  20. Not all food has to be labeled “Organic” to be healthy. If you’re buying directly from the farmer, it can also be organic ask how it was made grown.
  21. Sign up for a local farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to get your local fruit or veggie boxes. Farmers will deliver fresh organic produce straight to your door.
  22. See if there are food co-ops near you. These co-ops grow organic food and sell it to their local markets. Co-op membership fees are one-time, but the benefits last a lifetime.  My family has had a co-op membership for 15 years and the kids use it!
  23. Carrots, beets and radishes are very easy to grow. If you want to give growing a shot, that’s a good place to start.
  24. Try to eat as much of your produce raw as possible. Cooking destroys enzymes and can reduce vitamin content by 12x.
  25. Soak produce in 1/3rd vinegar and 2/3rds water to kill bacteria, if eating it raw.
  26. Check the OCA’s website to buy organic foods online – organicconsumers.org
  27. Trader Joe’s is a great, lower-cost alternative to Whole Foods. Do you shop there?
  28. Subscribe to health coupon sites for deals. organicdeals.com healthsavers.com mambosprouts.com
  29. Look for “specials” in supermarkets (including Whole Foods.) These mean the food’s in season and affordable.
  30. Organic beans are a great source of protein. Make sure you cook them thoroughly, as semi-cooked beans are toxic.
  31. Quinoa is a complete amino acid and provides your body with all the proteins you need. Yummy and easy to cook, too!
  32. Buy your organic chickens whole. It’s cheaper than buying by the part, and you can use the carcass to make broth.
  33. Most coffee shops (including Starbucks) sell Fair Trade but not organic coffee. Organic coffee is available online or at your local co-op.
  34. Use the bulk isle. You can buy everything from beans to quinoa to nuts while saving money and saving packaging.
  35. Never eat the skin of non-organic papayas or mangos. Some are dipped in toxic pesticides when they cross the border.
  36. When buying seeds, make sure you’re buying non-GMO. If it doesn’t say it’s non-GMO, don’t assume that it is.
  37. Make your jams at home. Most commercial jams (even organic) like peanut butter jam or strawberry jam are high in sugar.
  38. Agave nectar isn’t much healthier than traditional sugar. Organic honey is better, while organic coconut sugar is best.
  39. Store your olive oil in a dry place, outside of sunlight. Oxidized olive oil is very dangerous.
  40. Nut milks in supermarkets contain a lot of additive ingredients. For best results, make your own. It only takes 10 mins.
  41. Nuts can be healthy snacks, but they’re also very high in fat and calories. Enjoy them, but eat in moderation.
  42. Bananas are high GI and low in nutritional value. Plantains are low GI and much healthier. But they need to be cooked.
  43. Add a few Brazil nuts to your diet. It’s one of the few foods high in selenium, which is good for your hormones and your thyroid.
  44. Buy good salt. Good salt can add dozens of minerals to your diet. One jar of Himalayan sea salt can last a year.
  45. Avoid Teflon. If you must cook with Teflon, never ever place metal into the pan. I cook with cast iron.
  46. Rice has very little nutritional value, but isn’t unhealthy either. Use sparingly.
  47. Stay late or go at the end of Farmer’s Markets. They’ll often give out last minute deals to clear out inventory.
  48. Put paper towels on the edges of your fridge’s veggie drawer. It’ll draw the moisture and preserve your greens.
  49. Spinach wilted? As long as it doesn’t smell bad, you can still cook it and it will be just as good.
  50. Check Meetup.com for organic potlucks and meetups. They can be a fun way to add variety to your diet!

A full guide to transitioning to clean eating will be available in my book soon!

 

Dangers of Emotional Eating

Dangers of Emotional Eating

There a number of unhealthy habits that can develop over time if you are not mindful of your eating habits. One very easy unhealthy habit to fall into is emotional eating. This can go unnoticed because it’s not widely thought of as dangerous compared to other life threatening habits such as illegal drug use, and many can easily find excuses for it like saying they can simply “exercise more later.” How serious is this issue? Can eating habits really be a danger to you? We’ll be exploring some of these that in the following article.

Awareness is Key

Emotional eating usually hits very suddenly out of nowhere and seeks out specific cravings to be filled. Often times these powerful cravings are for sugar and fat filled snacks because of the powerful rush of dopamine that turns on the reward and pleasure centers of the brain after consumption. Eating like this repeatedly eventually overrides the signals of hunger and satiety. Seeking out comfort food and this kind of gratification leads to overeating and morbid obesity. Children can also develop early obesity when they learn this type of self-soothing. Many snack foods (especially candy and baked goods) are marketed to children. Some other snacks are associated with memories of fun times, childhood, or loved ones. Unfortunately, the methods that are used to produce foods of these foods typically contain high levels of salt, sugars, fats, artificial colors and preservative agents.

It is an Unhealthy Way to Cope with Emotions

Emotional eating is often used as a way to avoid dealing with complex or negative emotions. Not every trigger will be the same for each person, but these could include a range of emotions and feelings including anxiety, boredom, loneliness, disgust, sadness, and even joy. The emotional danger is the continued neglect of the real reasons behind these emotions. A feeling of shame or guilt might follow binges. This is especially true when the behavior is hidden from friends or family. Seek professional help, or tell a trusted friend or relative if you feel isolated or lonely and are forming unhealthy eating habits.

There are Health Risks

If a person uses eating as a way to escape or distract their emotions, a vicious cycle can develop. For example, a person who seeks food to cope with stress will create a paradox where weight-related health issues arise like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and back or joint pain. Beyond the difficulties surrounding obesity,  other health issues such as insomnia, anxiety, malnutrition, digestive problems, menstrual problems, and depression can develop.

Tips to overcome Emotional Eating

If you are overeating and appear to be experiencing any of these symptoms or health problems, it is never too late to make a new choice. After tapping into your support system, here are a few other ways to get back on track:

  • Keep a food diary – even if you use an online one like https://www.myfitnesspal.com/
  • Tame your stress – be intentional about your stress relieving activities. Find some ideas for creating a stress-free environment here
  • Remove temptation – Don’t have a cupboard full of junk food and do not go grocery shopping until your emotions are in check
  • Have healthy options on hand – When you feel the urge to snack in between meals, have something good and healthy like fruit, nuts, vegetables, or lower calorie versions of your favorite snacks
  • Give yourself a break – Don’t punish or deprive yourself. Even if you make a mistake—forgive yourself and recommit to start fresh again. Learn from your experience and plan to do better. Let your support system know that you are serious about changing it and ask for their assistance when needed.
  • Resources:
    Mood, food and obesity. Frontiers in Psychology. September 1, 2014.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4150387/
  • Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342?pg=2

Become Your Own Relaxation Expert

Become Your Own Relaxation Expert

Meditation and prayer have been practiced around the world for thousands of years. It is a practice used to quiet the mind and body, and relieve stress. [See the article about the health impacts of stress here]. Academic medicine and national peer reviewed articles are finally starting to validate meditation as a complimentary modality to healthcare–similar to aromatherapy, color therapy, massage therapy, and other healing practices.  Meditation is used to bring focus, clarity, and calm, and often, after meditating, problems that you have been struggling with, either resolve on their own, or you discover an inspired resolution to. Meditation has also been known to inspire people to write, and spur lucrative business ideas, as your subconscious works in partnership with you (rather than against you) to bring your greatness to light.

Pictured above: abundance oil ingredients: orange, frankincense, patchouli, clove, ginger, myrrh,  cinnamon, and spruce; along with pyrite stone and an oyster shell.

Keep It Simple, Sista. (K.I.S.S.)
The simplest form of meditation, requires you to sit in a quiet room, either on a pillow, or cross-legged on the floor, or in a comfortable chair, making sure your spine is straight. It is advised that you use the same place every day. It is also suggested that you personalize your spot, by beautifying it with candles, oils, plants, flowers,beautiful semi-precious gemstones, and pictures of the people that you love, or a representation of your vision.

The idea is to sit quietly, with your eyes closed, and focus on a point inside of your forehead. Try not to think of anything in particular, but don’t try ‘not’ to think either, allowing your mind to become calm, and peaceful. If you find that your mind is ‘chattering’, don’t try to control it, just let it finish what it is that it is working on, it will eventually quiet down. It is also recommended for beginners to begin with ten to twenty minute sessions, each day. I typically say to the constant chatter “ok, that’s interesting, I’m meditating now, so you can go.” Some other people call on scripture or some others ask God or the angels for assistance. After you get a routine and figure out what works best for you getting into a place of deep relaxation and joy during these sessions will be simple and easy. You’ve gotta try not

Some people can’t still for more than 10 minutes before their mind chatter overwhelms the silence. However, as you stay committed to your self-care meditation practice, you will want to increase the length of your sessions to thirty minutes, or maybe even an hour. In our highly active and noisy lifestyles, we often let stress and tension build up in our space, in our homes and in our minds, until it is unbearable. It is imperative that we include some time for meditation,reflection and prayer (if that is your practice) in our daily schedule in a proactive, preventative way to manage stress and achieve long term wellness.

For more self-care tips, be sure you are signed up for the www.prettyrockgirls newsletter, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram, the links are below.

In Love and Health!

What is a Kitchen Garden?

What’s the Difference Between a Kitchen Garden and a Regular Vegetable Garden?

If you you have you ever wondered exactly what a “kitchen garden” is or how it differs from a regular vegetable garden, read on!

For starters, a kitchen garden is a special kind of edible garden with a rich history the modern practices traces back to French culinary gardens.  However, growing food is a practice of many cultures around the world.

Much like a traditional vegetable garden, a kitchen garden is a chef’s delight filled with delicious fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. In short, a kitchen garden is a celebration of fresh ingredients and delicious home cooked meals.

Both kitchen and traditional gardens offer a sense of satisfaction coupled with tangible rewards for a job well done. Beyond these similarities, there are some distinct differences between the two, however.

A Kitchen Garden Has Three Main Characteristics:

  1. One of the main characteristics of a kitchen garden is accessibility. It should be easy to grab the items you need to your prepare your daily meals. Therefore, a potager should be located as close to your food preparation area as possible.

 Imagine you are in the middle of preparing dinner when you suddenly realize “this marinade could use a little more rosemary.” Rather than trek out to your main vegetable garden while you have pots simmering on the stove, wouldn’t you rather be able to reach right outside your door to snip a couple sprigs?  I grow both a large garden and a kitchen herb garden for this reason!

With a kitchen garden, the easier it is to grab what you need while you are cooking, the better.

  1. Kitchen gardens are usually smaller than traditional gardens because they are situated so close to the house. This isn’t always the case, of course, but having a culinary garden close enough to offer easy access while you are cooking may limit the amount of space available.

 If you only have limited space available to plant a kitchen garden, here is a good rule of thumb to consider: A regular vegetable garden is about planning for the future, while a kitchen garden is about enjoying today. Therefore, the fruits and vegetables you plan to preserve for future use – or crops, such as corn, that take up a lot of space – are good choices for a traditional vegetable garden where space is at less of a premium.

Instead, kitchen gardens are normally filled with the items you prepare and eat while fresh. Therefore, containers of fresh herbs, compact cherry tomato plants, or an assortment of leaf lettuce varieties all make great additions.  If you lack the space for a traditional garden, a small kitchen garden can keep you in fresh, delicious produce all season long.

While a standard vegetable garden is all about utility and production, part of the charm of a kitchen garden comes from its ornamental aspect. Due to its proximity to the house, a kitchen garden is harder to tuck out of sight than a traditional garden. Therefore, they are often designed to add a sense of beauty to your home, as well.

Some herbs, such as lemon thyme, can be used to create a beautiful and fragrant border around plants and containers. Edible flowers, such as violas and daylilies, can be incorporated to add a splash of color. Compact blueberry shrubs are also highly ornamental and make a wonderful, yet functional border.

As you can see, a kitchen garden offers both convenience and beauty in a compact space. The best part is it doesn’t take much to get started. All you need is a couple large pots, some fresh herbs, your favorite compact tomato plant and lettuce varieties and you’ll be on your way!  I’m considering starting a kitchen garden growing group, if you are interested send me note at prettyrockgirls@gmail.com and let me know.  If we have enough interest, we will be growing goddesses this summer!

In love and health!

Creating A Stress-Free Environment At Home

One of the first things to do, when you want to remove stress from your life, is to create a healing environment at home. It is a well-known fact that stress affects both your physical and emotional well-being. So, to feel your best, you need to remove the negativity associated with the stress. In most cases, the negativity is something that has been there a while, and you have built up a tolerance or conditioned response to it.  The good news is… it’s not as difficult as you may think to make a change. Keep reading to learn more.

Let’s face it, a healthy environment makes you feel safe and helps to eliminate feelings of sadness, worry and helplessness. It is void of noise and confusion, which, over the long term, can lead to a long list of health problems.  You may not be able to control all of the environments you encounter every day, but it is critical that you learn how to manage your own personal environment.  The place where you lay your head, or take a bath.  Consider the following tips to help you get started.

The Effects of Stress

There are good reasons to avoid stress.  Studies show that depression and chronic stress accelerates aging, see the study here.

Researchers also found that healthy adults who were mistreated as children may have a higher inflammatory response to new stressors. See the study in Neuropsychoparmacology, published online 29 September 2010.

Research has also found that stress-activating factors can turn on certain genes that were supposed to be silenced.  The findings show that the protective complexes are lost, and selected genes turn on when cells are exposed to external stress factors. See the study here.

Now that you are clear on the importance of managing stress.

Let’s talk specifics.

Your Overall Goal

Your overall goal is to create a nurturing (and therapeutic) space, filled things you love, or fulfills you or gives you great memories or thoughts. Doing so promotes spiritual growth and self-healing. Ideally, this works best if you have space that you can also use as your own special haven. This is a matter of  simply create multiple “mini spaces” throughout your home.

Eliminate Clutter

Have you ever tried to completely relax in a room full of clutter? It’s almost impossible to do, isn’t it? Get rid of things you no longer use. Give these things to charity or have a garage sale. The rule of thumb is:  if you are legally required to keep it, and if it doesn’t bring you joy, then get rid of it!

Utilize Color

Certain colors affect the way you feel. So if you can, you might consider repainting your space. You can either go with a color that automatically makes you happy or choose one known to invoke a positive response. Be aware that the color red typically causes an invigorating, energetic or agitating reaction and whereas blue has the (opposite) calming effect.

More Ideas

There are so many additional things that you can do to create a healing environment in your home. They include:

  • candles or a fireplace
  • aromatherapy (lavender is particularly calming)
  • water fountain or aquarium
  • live plants and flowers (many have air purifying benefits)
  • healing stones and crystals
  • natural  lighting options
  • family photos
  • writing and journaling tools

Quite honestly, the possibilities are endless. If you find it relaxing to read a good book, think about creating a reading corner. On the other hand, if you love to fix things, the ideal healing environment might be a workspace in the garage. The choice is up to you!

Now that you know more about creating a healthy environment at home, what are you waiting for? Remember, you don’t have to complete the project overnight. The idea is to reduce stress, and bring out more healing vibes. This is something that can be done on an ongoing basis. There’s nothing wrong with creating a relaxing environment that is a “work in progress.” I’ve gone from relaxing work spaces to an outright yoga room.

I’ll be offering a course within the next month about cleansing and de-stressing your home. Stay tuned and sign up for the newsletter to be alerted when it launches.

In love and health!

 

 

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) 101

What Are Genetically Modified Organisms?

The term “Genetically Modified Organism” refers to the practice of altering the DNA of a plant or animal so that it contains one or more genes that are not normal or innate to the organism. The genetic modifications are created in a lab environment where the DNA from one organism is inserted into another.

In general, the practice of Genetically Modifying crops has caused little objection from the public. However, as scientists began inserting DNA from viruses, bacteria, and animals into seeds to create ‘super specimens’ people began to question the approach. In the eyes of many there is a big difference between cross pollinating two pea plants for more efficient growing and adding the genes from a fish to a tomato plant.

The US is a world leader in the production of Genetically Modified crops. However, contrary to popular belief The European Union does not ban Genetically Modified Foods. In fact, Spain is a leading contributor too. What makes the EU different from the United States is that they don’t approve domestic cultivation of many GMO crops and they have mandatory labeling laws. The food must be labeled GMO if it contains more than 0.9 percent of GMOs.

This has caused many food companies in Europe to reformulate their products so that all GMO ingredients are removed. They then avoid the GMO label. However, products from animals raised on GMO feed do not need a label, so Europeans continue to use GMO corn and soy for animal feed.

As of 2013, roughly 85% of corn, 91% of soybeans, and 88% of cotton produced in the United States are genetically modified.

GMO’s are typically restricted in an organic lifestyle.

Learn more and stay connected!