All Posts tagged grocery shopping

It’s National Junk Food Day, but let’s celebrate our health instead

It’s National Junk Food Day, but let’s celebrate our health instead

These days, there’s a holiday for everything, and today is no exception – it’s National Junk Food Day. Though, sadly enough, if we look at the standard American diet (“SAD”), we might assume that every day is National Junk Food Day in this country. In fact, according to Dr. Mark Hyman, the average American consumes approximately 150 pounds of sugar and high fructose corn syrup each year.

The other night as my husband and I wandered the aisles of our local grocery store, I noticed that the ice cream aisle is now longer than the frozen vegetable aisle! In fact, I could find every imaginable variety of ice cream  – from vanilla to chocolate swirl – and yet I couldn’t find one single bag of frozen organic broccoli for the black bean burgers I was planning to make for dinner. And as I looked for a can of white beans, I was left with only one option, which contained preservatives. (Have you heard the popular jingle, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream”?  Well, the scene at the grocery store definitely left me feeling like I wanted to SCREAM!)

Detoxing from junk food isn’t easy. It takes time, commitment and a personal realization of why your health really matters to you. Though I’m a health coach today, I was once an unhealthy vegetarian, and it took time for me to embrace the truth about food, which is: you really are what you eat. I didn’t eat terribly all the time, but I carried daily  junk food habits that continuosly let my body down – cereal for breakfast that contained refined grains and sugar, sugary lattes on the way to the office and caffeinated soft drinks as pick-me-ups in the afternoon, to name just a few. I went years being tired and suffering from join pain, irritable bowel syndrome and migraine headaches. And yet, it took years for me to make a connection between my habits and these health issues.

I know many of you reading this find yourself in a similar position with your health. Or if you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t constantly feel the effects of bad foods, the consequences could sneak up on you at any moment. So, I invite you to take a moment each day to check in with your body. Are you tired? Are you in pain? Do you have digestive issues?  If you answered yes to any of these, consider taking it a little further and reflecting on your food. Are you fueling your body with plant-based foods? Or are you loading it up with not-so-whole foods that come in packages and are loaded with sugar, fillers and preservatives?

Wherever you are with your health and food, opt to celebrate National Junk Food Day in an unconventional way…by celebrating YOUR HEALTH. To begin, start with this small step – acknowledge the food-body-health connection. Then, say this out loud (and let it be your daily reminder to re-fuel with whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains).

When I eat well, I feel well. And when I feel well, life is so much better!

Have a happy National Junk Food  Day!

Want to focus on your health? Take the first step and schedule an introductory health coaching session with me!

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Gluten-Free Labeling in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Mariano’s

Gluten-Free Labeling in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Mariano’s

 

Whole Foods Market
I recently submitted questions to each of the mainstream grocery stores in my area (north side of Chicago – Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Mariano’s) where I frequently do my grocery shopping to determine what their in-store Gluten-Free labeling really means. As you may or may not know, currently there are no FDA regulations in place that require a food manufacturer to prove a food is really gluten free (i.e., contains less than 20 PPM) even if it is labeled as such. There’s good news though – the FDA passed a new rule in 2013 that will go into place in August 2014 that will make this a requirement. (You can learn more about the labeling law on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness website). In the meantime, we should all know what these stores’ policies are in relation to the foods they label as gluten-free in their stores.

Here’s the question I submitted to each store:

I’m gluten-free (by medical necessity) and I’m curious how your gluten-free labeling works. I’ve noticed some of your packaged foods are labeled with a “gluten-free” sign. As you probably are aware, right now there are no FDA regulations in place that require a food manufacturer to prove a food is really gluten free (i.e., contains less than 20 PPM). The FDA passed a new rule that will go into place in August 2014 that makes this a requirement. Can you tell me if the foods in your stores marked with the signs fit within the “less than 20 PPM” category” (therefore most likely certified by an accredited agency like GIG) or if they just mirror what’s on the label, which wouldn’t necessarily mean it was GF at this point in time.

Here are the responses I received:

Whole Foods Market

From Whole Foods:

Thank you for contacting us about in-store “gluten free” labeling. Our policy is to only make in-store “gluten free” claims via shelf tags, signage, etc. for products that have been reviewed and approved by the Global Quality Standards Team. Our position is that a Gluten Free claim should mean that the gluten level in the product is below 20 ppm, and that any Gluten Free product claims should be substantiated by quality assurance and testing protocols that verify the gluten level.

We also have a store specific Gluten Free Shopping list that is continuously updated and only contains products that have been approved and are available in our store. For your convenience I’ve inserted the link that will take you to the online Halsted Gluten Free Shopping list. If you like we can gladly print out a copy for you the next time you’re in the store.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/service/gluten-free-products-list?store=6563

Please feel free to contact us directly if you have any other questions or concerns

From Trader Joe’s:

Hi Joy,

Thanks for the inquiry. All of our products labeled with the words “Gluten-Free” have been laboratory tested to meet the required 20ppm or less per serving. The “No Gluten Ingredients Used” List is for products that are made WITHOUT gluten, but have not been tested for ppm.

You may call us at 626.599.3817 with any questions you have.

From Mariano’s: Note – I have not received a definitive response from Mariano’s yet but did receive a phone call within 24 hours of my request letting me know they are looking into it. I will update this post when once I receive their response. 

 

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Teach your kids to eat healthy foods, part 2

Teach your kids to eat healthy foods, part 2

Last month I joined forces with Karen Orlich, CEO of k.o. kidz, a green-living and organic lifestyle company, to compile some of the best tips (mom and kid tested!) to help you empower your kids to engage in healthy eating. Our tips included “encourage and reinforce” and “hosting ‘Lazy Suzan’ dinners”  This month we’re at it again with even more tips!

Tip # 3: Have some fun at the grocery store with Grocery Store Games!

Getting our kids to eat healthy foods can feel like a chore, and so can grocery shopping! Yet it’s important we do both, so why not combine the two and make your next trip to the market both fun for the kids and an outing you can feel good about as a parent?

Yes, we know, it’s not always easy to keep your child calm in a crowded grocery store. But then again, it’s important to not disengage them from the process completely…kids need to learn about food!

So, rather than placing your child in the cart and handing him/her a box of cookies to snack on while you hurry through the store, think about the grocery store as a learning environment full of COLORS, PLANTS and READING materials! (It’s also a great place to learn manners when interacting with store employees!) It’s with this point of view you can challenge your child to engage in foods and learn about what’s healthy and what’s not. Try these games out the next time you’re at the store:

Search for the Colors of the Rainbow: Bring a picture of a rainbow to the store and ask your child to find fruits or vegetables for two or three (or all!) colors of the rainbow. With this game, teach your children that a healthy diet is a colorful diet. The more colors, the better!Organic Produce

Count the Ingredients: As Michael Pollan reminds us, when we shop for packaged foods, it’s important to choose options with minimal ingredients (he suggests 5 ingredients or less). For kids who can count or are learning, ask them to count the ingredient labels on food packages. If there are more than 5, ask them to put it back and then explain why. (As your kids learn  to read, you can also challenge them to search for unhealthy ingredients like “sugar”, “high fructose corn syrup” or “trans fat”).

Tip #4: Make the ‘Common’ Foods Healthy

This is a great way to transition your kids to healthier eating.  It’s helpful (and fun!) to include them in the food preparation while also teaching them what ‘healthy’ really means.

Gluten Free PizzaPersonal Pizzas: Pizzas can be made from 100% whole wheat (always check the label for ‘whole’ wheat) sandwich rounds or tortillas (for a gluten-free version, check out Amy’s GF sandwich rounds or use 100% corn tortillas) with grilled onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc.  Or, simply bake (we use our toaster oven) the veggies on the bread with tomato sauce.  Olive oil with fresh basil and/or oregano is a delicious alternative to tomato sauce and herbs can be cut from a plant grown in your kitchen or garden.

Hot Dogs: The all American classic!  Unfortunately, traditional hot dogs are loaded with sodium and fat.  Try Applegate Organic Turkey hot dogs, rated #1 turkey dog by Health magazine.  Avoid the salt and high fructose corn syrup, store-bought versions and have the kid help make homemade ketchup (and relish!) with these easy, 15 minute or less recipes from Wellness Mama and Eating Well.

Macaroni & Cheese: The ultimate comfort food for all ages.  Have you looked at the chemical additives and preservatives in that powdered cheese pack?  We know – you’re busy and don’t have time to make your own cheese sauce.  Au contraire!

Start with GF organic brown rice pasta (for gluten-free version) or whole wheat macaroni (yes, your kids will eat it!). Grab a block of fresh organic cheese, cut into thin slices, and add to cooked, drained, warm macaroni (or any small pasta noodle) in pot.  Add light coating of olive oil and mix well with pasta.  Broccoli (or other veggies) can also be added to the pasta for flavor and an added health kick.  We stand the broccoli up to make ‘trees’ and ‘stumps’ in the macaroni ‘field’.  It’s ok to let kids play with their food once in a while if it helps get them to eat it, right?!

Dessert: Every kid wants DESSERT!  So choose tasty alternatives like:

Greek yogurt (double the protein of regular) with fresh fruit, applesauce, baked apple with cinnamon and raisins (core apple, fill with cinnamon and raisins, add 2-3 tablespoons of water to microwave-safe bowl, and ‘bake’ in the microwave until soft), or fruit smoothies (easy to mix in veggies and the kids won’t even know it).  Try one of these recipes from delish.comGF Dessert

We also discovered several websites with recipes for homemade fruit and nut bars (similar to Larabars, which are great GF treat!)  These are a great substitute for brownies and cookies!  An extensive recipe list can be found here.  Delicious and nutritious!  Yum!!

Do you have any tips to share? Like these suggestions? Would love to hear from you! Send me a tweet or post to my Facebook page!

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Mariano’s Market is Gluten-Free and Organic-friendly!

Mariano’s Market is Gluten-Free and Organic-friendly!

Large mainstream grocery stores can be overwhelming to those of us who need to shop for allgery-friendly products like gluten-free or dairy-free foods. And, if you’re focused on organics, it’s often difficult to find a range of options to keep you satisfied. Today my neighborhood – Ravenswood – celebrated the grand opening of the new Mariano’s, located at Lawrence Ave. and Ravenswood, conveniently located right next to the Ravenswood Metra stop. Being that I fit into all three of the above food categories – gluten-free, dairy-free and organic – and help my clients transform their diets to include healthier foods and allergy-free options, I wanted to check out this new store to see what it has to offer. I especially wanted to see if I could rely on this store for my gluten-free and dairy-free staples.

My verdict?  This store is a great addition to the neighborhood, even for those of us who have special dietary requirements. The proof? See my finds below. And what’s more – the employees were friendly, willing to help and well-informed – all great things for those of us with specific grocery needs.

Here are my top Mariano’s Finds!

Lots of Organic Produce!

Organic Kale

Organic Produce

Organic Produce

A Dedicated Wheat & Gluten-Free Section

GF Grocery

Dairy-Free Yogurt 

Diary Free Yogurt

Almond Milk

Almond Milk

Gluten-Free, Organic and Vegan Food Markers (These are part of Mariano’s Wellness program, Health KeyTM)

Organic Olive Oil

Gluten Free and Vegan Food

 Organic Coffee!

Organic Coffee

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My Top Picks for Packaged Foods

My Top Picks for Packaged Foods

I recommend filling your cart with whole and fresh foods. Still, we all know it’s difficult to avoid packaged foods at the grocery store – they make our lives easier! Check out my top picks for packaged foods which includes items I feel good about and bring home on a regular basisMy list will help you make better choices during your next grocery run. Plus, I offer 2 rules to guide you in choosing the right foods for you and your family.

My rules…

Rule #1: Focus on foods that contain only a handful of ingredients. The fewer the better.

Rule #2: Buy foods with only recognizable ingredients. This will keep you and your family from eating foods that are loaded with preservatives, sweeteners and trans fats.

My list…

1. Brown Rice Crackers (by Edward & Sons).

Gluten Free Crackers

These crackers have two simple ingredients – brown rice and sesame seeds. That’s all you need when you’re craving something crunchy to go with your hummus or some cheese.

Gluten-Free Crackers

Gluten-Free Crackers

2. Larabars

Larabar

Not all bars are created equally! Just say “NO” to bars with added sweeteners and a long list of ingredients! Larabar offers nearly 20 bars, many of which have only 3 ingredients and use dates – not sugar – to sweeten.

3. Brown Rice Pasta (Organic varieties offered by Lundberg and Trader Joe’s)

GF Brown Rice Pasta

Whether you’re gluten-free or not, brown rice pasta is delicious. Plus, it’s now available in most stores and is a far better option than the pasta you grew up eating (i.e., Enriched Wheat Pasta). Look for a pasta that contains nothing beyond brown rice and water. There’s no need for other ingredients, pure and simple. If you’re at Trader Joe’s, they offer an organic option which in my opinion is the best brown rice pasta on the market.

4. Frozen Fruit

sugar free fruit

I always have frozen fruit on hand for smoothies. You can also defrost it for morning oatmeal or to top off your waffles in place of syrup. But be sure to check the package  before placing it in your cart – oftentimes companies sneak in sugar, so choose a brand that only gives you fruit – that’s all you need! Choose organic when you can to free your body of toxins from pesticides.

5.  Raw Nuts

Raw Almonds

Nuts are a delicious and filling snack, plus are loaded with beneficial fats. I always have a bag or two on hand.  Look for packaged nuts that contain nothing more than the nuts themselves – you’ll notice that oils, salt, sweeteners or preservatives are often added, but need not be there. 

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