Organic versus Conventional – Which Should You Choose?

July 9, 2015
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PART TWO

Lets continue the conversation on some of the main factors that consumers like you consider when making purchases at the food store. If you didn’t read Part 1 of the series addressing the safety and cost of organic and conventional foods, you can view it here.

 Nutrition

Working to improve your health through the food that you eat? Then you want to eat the MOST nutritious versions available, right? It’s more bang for your buck!  The food & nutrition industry has been testing both organic and conventional foods for many years. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a definitive answer of which type is nutritiously superior.  In the early 2000’s, you could find articles that were claiming a significant nutritional disparity between select organic and conventional foods. Only a few years later, there had been new research saying the exact opposite. In 2009, the American Society of Nutrition posted an article  concluding there is no significant difference between organic and conventional foods. Again in 2012, a hotly debated report from Stanford University stated that there is a lack of strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious than conventional foods.

 Today’s research deviates from those studies, showing that there IS a nutritional difference in some organic foods. Reports are showing up to 40% higher in antioxidant activity  in organic fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are comprised of nutrients like Vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids and minerals like selenium and the health benefits of antioxidants are evident.

 What does this mean? It’s apparent that there is more research needed.

 If good health is important to you, then we suggest continuing to choose your favorites until further solid evidence is discovered. Want better nutrition now? Remember VARIETY! Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat meats and dairy will give you a wide spectrum of your daily needed nutrients.

anti-oxidants

Environmental Impact

Soil erosion, decline in crop production, fertilizer runoff, and pesticide resistance are concerns that some take into account when deciding between organic or conventional foods. The USDA has many resources on how farmers can protect and enhance the environment but there are still problems that worry shoppers.

 Scary reports of lake and river “dead zones” occasionally surface after finding considerable deterioration of wildlife and vegetation. This fuels new environmental studies to identify the true offender and will often include testing of new farming techniques and products that can help protect instead of harm.

Consider this: all types of farming impacts the surrounding environment. Organic farms can use natural fertilizers and pesticides that can cause runoff problems. However, the USDA says that organic farming differs from conventional farming because they strive to preserve natural resources and biodiversity with their farming techniques. There also are organizations like the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania that dedicate themselves to researching and testing better ways for American farmers to grow organic foods without harming the environment.

If preserving the environment is important to you, then you may want to consider choosing organic foods. Environment-friendly tip: buy local! As we mentioned in Part 1, think about supporting smaller farms that are local to your home or workplace. This reduces the need to truck food products all over the country, which can produce a considerable amount of fossil fuel emissions.

 Don’t know where to find a local farmer market? Visit here and input your zip code or download an app for your mobile device (we tried Farmstand).

 

FreshProduce at a local farm stand

So, what should YOU choose?

The bottom line is that, as a consumer, you have to decide what’s important to you. Whether you’re concerned with safety, cost, nutrition, environmental impact or something else that wasn’t mentioned, you should always choose what’s best for you and your family. Watch for new research on the areas that are important to you. And in the meantime, purchase and eat healthy food that you love!

Your Resources

For the Organic 101 series provided by the USDA – http://blogs.usda.gov/tag/organic-101/

Antioxidant Health Benefits – http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/

Market Search: http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/

Farmstand App: https://www.farmstandapp.com

B.inspired, B.educated, B.Komplete!

 Photo Credit:

http://abcn.ca/category/diet-exercise/

http://farmersmarketannex.com/fmablog/?p=271

 

 

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Organic versus Conventional – Which Should You Choose?

June 29, 2015
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organic-vs-conventional-640

Deception. Misdirection. Imminent Danger. All characteristics of a villain in the next superhero blockbuster, not the emotions we should have when selecting our next meals.

 With sensational headlines in modern media and new research claims, it’s not surprising that even the most educated shopper can be infused with doubt over what to place in the cart. Shopping at the market should be a pleasant experience filled with delicious options from which to choose.

 Today, there is a wide variety of conventional and organic produce (fruit, vegetables), livestock (meat, dairy, eggs) and multi-ingredient products (breads, pasta, and other processed foods). This is a great success for the US, but it can be very overwhelming for the American consumer.

 Common complications:

  1. We can be inundated with so many choices that it may seem easier to select what was purchased before, without thinking twice.
  2. Organic foods are stigmatized, with some saying that they’re only for the wealthy, for environmentalists, or for parents with young children.
  3. Some food companies have embraced misleading marketing practices to boost sales, touting that their foods are “healthy and natural” or even using “organic” on their packaging. (Other companies are responding to these practices by putting out product lists of their own, encouraging transparency in marketing and making healthy, informed choices.)

 Choosing between organic and conventional foods can be an easier decision. In this two-part series, we’ll address some factors that consumers like you consider when making purchases at the store.

Safety

A concern for some shoppers is safety – safety for themselves, for farmers, or for the animals. Understanding the production of both conventional and organic foods can clear up some apprehension.

 Conventional food products are produced by traditional farming practices used by small family farmers to large corporate farms. This can include using chemical pesticides for pest control and synthetic fertilizers to increase growth margins. For livestock, this includes dosing with antibiotics and hormones to help maintain the health of the animals.

 Governing organizations like the USDA and FDA regulate conventional farming practices and inspect food products for wholesomeness, deeming them as safe for consumption. However, government regulation ends there.

 According to the USDA,  organic operations must use only approved substances and avoid man-made fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms. These practices also promote farm worker health, lowering the risk of inhalation or ingestion of harmful substances.  Furthermore, the USDA organic seal on meat, eggs, and dairy products verifies that producers met animal health and welfare standards, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, and provided animals with access to the outdoors.

 If safety is your priority, then organic foods may be the best choice. On the fence? Start with the Environmental Workers Group’s “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen,”  an annual list distributed to educate consumers on pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables.

Cost

One of the key benefits of conventional food products is their wide spread availability in the US. These products can be found in grocery stores, convenience stores, and schools, to name a few. Simple economics of supply and demand as well as generous government subsidies help explain the lower prices of conventional foods.

organic operations chart

Typically, organic foods are priced higher than conventionally grown foods, which may be caused by the limited availability of organics. America has seen a significant increase of organic operations since 2002 however, so consumers may begin to see reduced prices on certain foods. 

 Consider also the additional fees to the farmers. Farm owners have to pay fees and complete a transition period  before beginning organic operations. To recoup these expenses, additional costs may be incorporated into food prices. Paired with “high-end” public perception and premium upcharges, organic foods will often be more costly than their conventional counterparts.

 If you are concerned about cost, then conventional foods may be best. Still like to buy some organic? Here are some money saving tips:  

  1. Purchase discounted organic “seconds” at your local markets when available. 
  2. Visit local farmers who may follow organic practices but save on operational costs by avoiding the USDA certification process. A few specific questions to the farmer may help save you some money.  eat local

 Don’t know where to find a local farmer market? Visit here and input your zip code or download an app for your mobile device (we tried Farmstand).

 Check back for Part Two of Organic vs. Conventional – What should you choose? We’ll discuss the Nutrition and Environmental Impact of Organic and Conventional foods.

 Resources for you

 

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Pass the Pineapple

June 23, 2015
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pineapple drink

Pass the pineapple! Not only is pineapple a delicious way to get vitamin C and manganese, pineapple provides bromelain which reduces harmful inflammation.  Whether you are looking for a well-balanced smoothie, or a guilt-free cocktail, pineapple is the perfect ingredient to use.  

The B.Komplete Tropical Green Smoothie Recipe:
1/2 cup chopped pineapple
1 ripe banana
1 handful fresh spinach
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/2 plain yogurt (I like Greek)
1/2 – 3/4 cup water (per your consistency preference)
Blend and enjoy!

Easy Pina Colada (via Joy Bauer )
1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple chunks
3/4 cup canned light coconut milk
3 – 5 ice cubes
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
1 shot of run (optional)
Blend and enjoy!

 

 

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Memorial Day: Eat Right for Your Life

May 21, 2015
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Whether you will be hosting or attending the party, there is no doubt food will be a central part of the celebration. Among friends and family, traditional holiday fare and other favorites, you think to yourself ‘there is no way, healthy fits in with Memorial Day’. No need to worry anymore, follow these healthy tips with the following great recipes to help you enjoy the holiday – guilt free!

cilantro-lime-shrimp-kebabs

Go Lean on the Grill.  Enjoy lean meats and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Kebabs

Grilled Salmon Kebabs

Grilled Pesto Chicken & Tomato Kebabs

Jamaican BBQ Pork Tenderloin

Grilled Chicken with Herbs

Veggie Kabobs

Grilled Pineapple

Grilled Peaches with Honey and Yogurt

Ginger-Marinated Grilled Portobello Burger

Grilled Fennel with Parmesan & Lemon

Grilled Garlic Artichokes

buffalo-wings

Recipe Makeover. Enjoy the favorites among family and friends with a healthy twist.

Skinny Buffalo Wings

Jicama Apple Slaw Recipe

Deviled Eggs

Baby Red Potato Salad

No-Shell Taco Salad Recipe

Light Artichoke Dip

Lightened Up Mac n Cheese Bites

Santa-Fe-Black-Bean-Salad

Find Your Healthy Options. The easiest way to fight the temptation is by snacking on the foods that are naturally lighter.

Shrimp Ceviche Cocktail

Edamame Hummus

Bruschetta with Tomato & Basil

Mango, Avocado, & Black Bean Salad

Zesty Lime Shrimp Avocado Salad

Southwestern Black Bean Salsa

Brie, Apple, & Arugula Quesadilla

Black Bean Burger

Red Potato Salad with Green Beans and Tomato

Enjoy the time with your family and friends, and have a wonderful holiday.

 B.inspired, B.educated, B.Komplete!

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Is Belly Fat Stressing You?

April 6, 2015
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belly stress picture

It may be – It has been shown that increased stress can lead to higher body fat especially in your abdominal area and surprisingly higher body fat percentages can make you feel more stressed. This means by reducing either one of these areas you can improve the other!

Stress TipTake daily challenges with a positive attitude. The less pressure that you put on yourself, the better you will be able to deal with unplanned daily stressors. When possible, take 5-minute breaks from your day especially when it feels overwhelming. To find out more about stress and how it affects you: Stress and You

Exercise Tip – Try to fit in a daily moderate-intensity exercise lasting at least 30 minutes. Some examples of stress relieving exercises: Yoga, Pilates, Jogging, Walks, and any intensity weight training. Remember that exercise can be intermittent and 30 minutes does not need to be done all at once. Click here for excellent examples: For Women or For Men

Food Tip –Over eating is a common behavior used to cope with stress and it can lead to significant snacking. Well-balanced snacks (healthy protein, fat and carbohydrate) are a great way to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Remember that portion size is just as important as meal composition. For some examples of healthy snack options visit: Snacking

For more information on recipes please visit the B.Komplete Facebook Page

Works Cited;

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/abdominal-fat-and-what-to-do-about-it

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16353426

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11020091

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Matzo is great with…

April 2, 2015
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Social-Passover Post Picture

Passover doesn’t mean that we can’t still love and enjoy healthy food choices! Matzo is the perfect vehicle for dipping. Hummus is a great option, and what about making a healthful egg salad by swapping out the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt?  Looking for a healthier chicken salad recipe – try out this great one:
Makes 6 servings
3 organic chicken breasts
1 tablespoon bread crumbs
1.5 cups celery, chopped
¾ cups Ocean Spray Craisons
1 ½ tablespoons Smart Balance Mayonnaise

Instructions: Heat your oven to 350 F. Using a nonstick pan add the chicken breasts, and sprinkle the bread crumbs over. Bake for 30 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. While the chicken is cooking you can prep the celery and mix with craisons in a medium size bowl. After the chicken is fully cooked removed from oven, and allow to cool in refrigeration (30 minutes). When the chicken is cool, cut into bit size chunks and mix with the celery and craisons. Then add the mayonnaise and blend.
You can sprinkle some ground black pepper for a little extra kick! 

Product photo credits: canadainprairegarden.com, pixgood.com!, Smartbalance.com, pngimg.com

B. inspired, B. educated, B. Komplete!

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The Best Stress Management Ideas

April 1, 2015
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Stress. All of us experience some kind of stress throughout our daily lives and stress is unavoidable. Some stress can be good; provide motivation, encourage collaboration, or even push you to try new things. However, excessive stress that isn’t managed can be quite damaging to your health. Chronic, unmanaged stress is associated with weight gain, inflammation, decreased immunity, and even heart conditions over time. These health issues make stress reduction crucial for achieving ideal health.

 You can’t eliminate stress, but you can manage it! The following stress reduction practices are proven to work:

Exercise. Exercise is one of the most effective and beneficial stress reduction methods. How does exercise reduce stress? One of the ways exercise reduces stress is by reducing the levels of cortisol and adrenaline, two hormones that cause stress, while increasing levels of endorphins, which are mood elevators. This causes the aptly named “runner’s high” that you may have heard of before.  Another way that exercise can reduce stress is through the benefits that you gain. Exercise allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment as you hit your fitness goals and can also reduce stress by reducing your waist-line and improving self image. Tasks, such as heavy lifting, become easier as you become fit making those stressful tasks look a little more manageable. Exercises like yoga, tai chi, walking and running, as well as others are great stress relievers. Click here to learn about 8 great stress relieving exercises

Yoga in park

Breathing exercises. Rapid, shallow breathing is commonly associated with stress while relaxed, deep breathing is associated with relaxation. Breath yourself into a state of relaxation with these easy steps:

  1. Breath in slowly and deeply using your diaphragm fully.
  2. Hold your breath briefly
  3. Release your breath slowly, thinking “relax”
  4. Repeat these steps, 5 to 10 times

This is a great relaxation technique because it can be used at any time and any place, as needed. To learn more, Dr. Weil offers some wonderful breathing exercises

Meditation. With elevated stress also comes elevated blood pressure and heart rate. You can relieve your stress and its physiological effects using meditation techniques. Studies of Indian yoga masters have shown that meditation can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood adrenaline levels.   Meditation is a useful and effective way to relieve your stress in the comfort of your own home.

Harvard physician, Dr. Herbert Benson gives this quick guide to mediation

  1. Select a time and place that will be free of distractions and interruption. A semi-darkened room is often best; it should be quiet and private. If possible, wait two hours after you eat before you meditate and empty your bladder before you get started.
  2. Get comfortable. Find a body position that will allow your body to relax so that physical signals of discomfort will not intrude on your mental processes. Breathe slowly and deeply, allowing your mind to become aware of your rhythmic respirations.
  3. Achieve a relaxed, passive mental attitude. Close your eyes to block out visual stimuli. Try to let your mind go blank, blocking out thoughts and worries.
  4. Concentrate on a mental device. Most people use a mantra, a simple word or syllable that is repeated over and over again in a rhythmic, chant-like fashion. You can repeat your mantra silently or say it aloud. It’s the act of repetition that counts, not the content of the phrase; even the word “one” will do nicely. Some meditators prefer to stare at a fixed object instead of repeating a mantra. In either case, the goal is to focus your attention on a neutral object, thus blocking out ordinary thoughts and sensations.

o-MINDFULNESS-MEDITATION-facebook

Acupuncture. Acupuncture may sound a little scary when you think of needles being placed in your face and back, however individuals and research have found it is truly a safe and an effective way to relieve stress and anxiety. According to Dr. Daniel Hsu, acupuncture works through placement of a needle about half a millimeter from a nerve. Depending on where the needle is placed, it can cause the release of pain killing chemicals from the nervous system, stimulate the body’s natural healing ability, or excite the part of the brain controlling emotion (leading to decreased anxiety and stress). Those who have received acupuncture, often see results after just one session with improved results upon continuous treatment. I can personally vouch for the benefits of Acupuncture, and look forward to my ongoing sessions with Aaron Cashman, L.OM

What to expect at your first appointment

B. educated, B. inspired, B.Komplete!

 

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Does the Paleo Diet Work?

March 24, 2015
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What is the diet?

The Paleo diet theory is based on citing the errors in current Western eating patterns, and how different these consumption patterns are from the eating design of the Paleolithic period. The Paleo diet advises us to eat similarly to how our Paleolithic ancestors once did; consume foods as close to a natural state as possible, which includes meat and produce. Avoid foods that would not have been available during that time period; grains, dairy products and sugar. The Paleo diet claims that “this is how humans were designed to eat.”

What is good about the diet?

  • Focus on whole foods and eating foods in a natural state. Our Paleolithic ancestors consumed foods as close to fresh as possible. This is sound advice, as the nutrients in foods are typically highest when the food is the most fresh. To find out what produce is in season, check here  
  • Eating grass-fed meat.  100% grass-fed beef comes from cows who have grazed in pasture year-round rather than being fed a processed diet. Grass feeding improves the nutrition of meat making the beef richer in omega-3 fats, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and healthy fats.  For more information on grass-fed meat visit world’s healthiest foods 
  • Recommends eggs, nuts, and healthy oils. Some of the recommended fat sources in the Paleo diet are rich in nutrients, mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants.
  • Limits alcohol and diet soda.  Limiting alcohol consumption (< 1 drink/day for women and < 2 drinks/day for men) is recommended for heart health . While the health verdict is still out on diet soda, consuming less of it may be a good idea.
  • Recommends cooking for yourself. Learning how to prepare meals for yourself and your family is tremendously beneficial; it enables you to control the additives in your food, to season food without adding salt, and generally eat less total calories.

Paleo meat

What isn’t good about the diet?

  • Elimination of major food groups. A Paleo dieter can be categorized by what they have removed from their diet; Paleo dieters generally do not eat dairy or grains of any kind, peanuts, lentils, beans, peas and other legumes are eliminated, and added sugars are prohibited.
  • Whole grains.  Whole grains are associated with healthy digestion and metabolism, and a reduced risk of heart disease. Removal of whole grains makes it harder to get your daily recommendation of fiber. 
  • Dairy.  Consumption of dairy products (low fat and fat free) is associated with satiety, bone health, reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension in adults. Removal of this entire food group makes it hard (if not impossible) to get some of the health benefits that dairy provides.
  • Legumes. Beans are high in minerals and fiber without the saturated fat found in some animal proteins. Eating beans may reduce blood cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease. Adding beans to your diet may help keep you feeling full longer. Removal of legumes will make it harder to get the recommended daily fiber intake, as well as providing a vegetarian protein option.
  • Starchy vegetables.  No more crunchy carrots for a snack. No more corn on the cob at a cook-out. No more baked potato, soup with potato, or even baked potato chips! Reducing the amount of starchy vegetables may be OK for weight loss, BUT to eliminate completely is hard (if not impossible) over the long-term.
  • Diet can be hard to follow, hard to maintain over time, and very expensive. Imagine a life without a sandwich, ever. No more cereal, rice, bagels, or whole grains. Say goodbye to peanut butter. No more milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice-cream. If you enjoy chili, you are out of luck. And like any eating plan, it can indeed be expensive – especially since Paleo relies so heavily on the produce section and meat counter.
  • Not highly researched/without long term studies /making unsubstantiated health claims. “Loren Cordain, PhD, who literally wrote the book on The Paleo Diet, claims that by eating like our prehistoric ancestors, we’ll be leaner and less likely to get diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems” . Many of the health claims made in the Paleo diet books are either not supported by research or have not been studied (1, 2).
  • Hard if not impossible to meet RDA of micronutrients.  Research has shown that micronutrient deficiency is high in individuals who are overweight or obese (2/3 of the U.S. population), and it is unlikely (if not impossible) to correct any micronutrient deficit following any food based diet (3).
  • Can have very high consumption of saturated fat with high meat consumption. Meat is consumed in large quantities, often cooked in animal fat of some kind which is very high in saturated fat. Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood increase your risk of heart disease and stroke (4).

Bean salad

Overall advice

U.S. News ranks Paleo low for overall diet credibility; not guaranteed weight loss or weight loss maintenance, health claims are unsubstantiated, higher than recommended levels of fat and protein, not adequate in fiber, micronutrients (5).

Any diet plan that is very restrictive, hard to follow, expensive, unbalanced in nutrients and even unpalatable doesn’t seem like a sustainable lifestyle choice… My advice is: take the good ideas from Paleo, and modify to fit into a well-balanced, healthy, happy, and enjoyable eating plan!

B. inspired, B. educated, B. Komplete!

Works Cited:

  1. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v68/n3/full/ejcn2013290a.html
  2. http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol7/iss2/4/
  3. www.jissn.com/content/7/1/24
  4. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Saturated-Fats_UCM_301110_Article.jsp
  5. http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/paleo-diet
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Up the Protein in Your Guacamole: Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly Recipe for Edamame Guacamole

March 16, 2015
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Delivering great taste, texture, and beautiful color

Delivering great taste, texture, and beautiful color

Guacamole, we know it, we love it, and we eat it year round at parties,  restaurants, and events. When guacamole is served the traditional accompaniment is tortilla chips. 1 serving of tortilla chips will run you about 140 calories and 6 grams of fat, but who just eats 1 serving of chips? You may ask yourself, “is there a way to make guacamole a more nutrient dense snack choice?” Normally guacamole is full of healthy monounsaturated fats but lacking on the protein. Not anymore! With this delicious Edamame Guacamole Recipe by B.Komplete, you can have all that avocado goodness with the added bonus of extra protein. The serving size for guacamole is 2 tablespoons. However, the typical amount consumed is more like 8 tablespoons. With the typical serving size in mind, the B.Komplete recipe contains 120 calories and 8 grams protein per 4 ounces serving. This makes it a healthy and filling snack when served with some vegetables like radishes, endive, and carrots. If you are craving chips, try whole-wheat tortilla chips to keep the snack as healthful as possible. 

Check out the video below to see how it’s made!

B. inspired, B. educated, B.Komplete!

 

 

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