Being Irish I love March because Spring is coming and of course right in the middle we have St. Patrick’s Day. The kids love it because they get to wear green at school and pretend they are more Irish than they are. My daughter (the actress) loves to put on the Irish accent she learned from her cousins last summer and we have a good laugh at her developing brogue.
The only thing I dislike about this day of celebration of all things Irish, is the association it conjures up with Lucky Charms, a Mc Donald’s Green McFlurry or a green donut from Dunkin. Take it from me – we do not celebrate products like this in Ireland, we don’t even have them. The most I saw growing up was people drinking green beer and even that was frowned upon (only because of the green part, let’s be honest).
So what exactly is in Lucky Charms that makes them Exhibit A in the fight against the fake phood industry that seems to prey on our children by portraying themselves as a ‘healthy’ breakfast?
I don’t know where to begin. I will pick out my top 3 offenders, and you can decide if that’s enough to make you run to the organic section. Also, these ingredients are in most of the more colorful cereals: Froot Loops, Apple Jacks and Trix to name a few.
- Corn Syrup – also known as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This is a highly processed chemical (yes) derived from corn. It is a GMO food which means it contains glyphosate and should be avoided for that reason alone. It is manufactured in a very complicated tri-enzyme process which you can read more about here. If you want to hear about how HFCS can cause type 2 diabetes then Dr. Hyman explains it quite well here. There is also many reports that HFCS contains mercury, one of the most toxic substances known to man. HFCS is in ketchup, soup, pickles, cereal, sodas, mayonnaise, candy, cakes, breads, bagels and so many more things it’s hard to list. Basically – if it’s not organic, it has HFCS.
- TSP: Trisodium Phosphate – an industrial alkalizing cleaning agent doubling as a food additive. The FDA has given this chemical a ‘generally recognized as safe’ or GRAS category. It has given safe limits for this additive (70 mgs) but the general public have no way of knowing how much of this toxic chemical they are consuming on a daily basis which could reach up to 500 mgs daily. In its dry powder form it is incredibly corrosive to the human body when consumed. So much so, the FDA has recommend it be removed from household cleaning products – because it is bad for the environment! So where does that leave the cereal consumer? Caveat Emptor and run for the organic hills!
- Artificial colors: Yellow 5 & 6, Red 40, Blue 1 and “Other Color Added” – right away I see a huge red flag because I don’t know what “other color added” means. It usually means I have to call their consumer help line. But I value my sanity so I’m going to take a guess that it means a substitute for Red #3 (since it was banned), made from the cochineal beetle. The other 4 colors listed are derived from coal tar. Added colors have long been associated with ill-health effects and hyperactivity in children although there are few conclusive studies. The most notable study is the Southampton Study in 2007 which asserted that when combined with sodium benzoate (a popular food additive), they caused more hyperactivity in children and recommended that all colors be labeled in Europe. Food colors have a long history with the FDA and now, out of around 80, only 7 remain legal for the food and cosmetics industries to use. If you’d like to learn more, check out these articles and videos on food dyes on Dr. Greger’s website as he discusses their affect on children’s health and in particular ADHD.
I am only giving you 3 things to remember to avoid like the toxic plague because they transfer to so many other products that I hope you will remember them. I didn’t mention “mixed tocopherols” only because it is a synthetic vitamin e and is generally safe. It is used to replace the highly controversial BHT which is widely suspected to be a carcinogen.
So why not try a new tradition in your family if you like to celebrate our national holiday? Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day breakfast with a hearty, protein-packed traditional Irish breakfast – organic bacon, eggs and sausage… with a slice of soda bread and a healthy pat of Kerrygold butter (see my recipe here!).
“lá sona Fhéile Pádraig duit” – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Each week I run a smoothie club at our local school for 2nd and 3rd graders. It’s so fun to talk about healthy food for an hour with these kids. They are all interested in being healthy and are naturally curious about the food we eat.
Each week we’ve had a different smoothie for each color of the rainbow, representing a different food group or variety of fruits. Tomorrow is our last class and they asked for a fun smoothie that would break all the rules. So I guess that means chocolate. I heard the word “Oreo” so I don’t think my work is done with these kids!
So tomorrow we will make a chocolate smoothie but the Clean Green Pantry way… anti-inflammatory and packed with micronutrients. Here’s the recipe:
One ripe avocado
2 tablespoons of organic raw cocao (or organic cocoa powder)
2 cups of almond or coconut milk
1 cup of ice
1 cup of wild blueberries
1 tablespoon of raw organic honey to taste
Optional for home – 1 tablespoon of nut butter or peanut butter.
Optional – use one banana instead of the avocado 🙂
Optional – use chia seeds instead of the blueberries (soaked in the milk overnight)
It’s been three years since we began our organic journey and our family has benefited in so many ways. I spend a lot of time researching food and how we can improve our family’s health. I try not to worry about being perfect because it’s very difficult to be 100% when surrounded by so many food options, especially for children. It can also be expensive and people ask me all the time; “is buying organic worth it?”. Well I believe it is because our children are growing up with a toxic load which we were not exposed to and I have to do all I can to protect them from that.
After abandoning Costco and other large supermarkets 3 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Costco are listening to consumer demands and stocking so many organic products. I am now a happy customer once again. So I thought I would share what I fill my cart with these days as most of the items are new. I hope that people will take note and support their local stores which make an effort to supply affordable organic options.
- Organic Coconut Oil – Cold Pressed is best.
- Organic pajamas – avoid flame retardant inhalants.
- Organic Maple Syrup – The dark color means more nutrients.
- Figgy Pops – perfect high antioxidant snacks.
- Organic Frozen Fruit for smoothies.
- Organic Go-Go Squeeze apple sauces – 4 flavors!
- Organic Olive Oil – it’s a blend but the real stuff is expensive.
- Kind Bars – 5g sugar box – perfect for those after school snack attacks.
- Organic Chicken Stock – well, Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
- Namaste Gluten Free Flour – perfect for pancakes and muffins.
- Organic Sugar – avoid GMO sugar!
- Organic Bread – non-organic wheat can be contaminated with glyphosate.
- Organic Back to Nature Oreos – my kids don’t know the difference!
- Seeds of Change organic quinoa and brown rice – perfect for last minute meals.
- Organic apples – a little on the large side but great for sharing.
- Organic ground beef and chicken – I prefer fresh from a butcher but good to have in your freezer.
- Organic chia seeds – add to smoothies or make chia pudding.
- Organic Quinoa – make a lot, it lasts 3 days in the fridge.
- Organic Protein Powder – perfect for smoothies
- Organic Linens – including crib mattresses & towels. We don’t need a crib mattress but I sure wish we had this when our kids were babies.
There are so many more things on my organic list but I do avoid the organic and milk and eggs at Costco (sorry!) – only because I prefer grassfed dairy and pasture raised eggs. I would love to eat less processed food but in the absence of living on a farm, we have to use what we have. I will tackle planting a vegetable garden next year!
I had a wonderful summer with my family but now it’s time for back to school and I guess, back to work! My youngest will soon be in full-time kindergarten and I couldn’t be happier (well, sad really) that she is growing up so much and ready for school. Earlier this year I had a health scare which set me back a few months. I have fully recovered and am taking care of my health and well-being more. I am working with doctors on a detox program and I hope to be back into things very soon. Even health coaches need coaches!
So this fall I am sharing a special offer for my pantry clear out services; A 90 minute consult with a full personalized report, unique to your family, for only $95. I can do a free phone consult beforehand to see if this is right for you.
I do not actually clean pantries by the way! My ‘pantry clear out’ is a food education program encompassing meal planning, product suggestions, dietary supplement suggestions and special food allergy advice if needed. I work with each family to develop a plan to maximize nutritional needs for your children (and the adults too!). My specialized area is childhood allergy and food intolerances which I have studied for many years now both personally and with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. In fact I will soon be embarking on an intensive program with Epidemic Answers which will improve my understanding of working with children who have complications due to food intolerances.
So please email me or call if you are interested in chatting about your family’s needs. I can be reached on 917 495 0043 or via email at email@example.com
Happy back to school days 🙂
I often get asked what I recommend for breakfast to boost protein intake as an alternative to egg dishes or oatmeal (both of which I recommend, see previous blogs here and here), and I always suggest my protein packed chocolate pancakes. Kids love them and moms can be assured that their little ones will get a nutrient packed breakfast that will sustain them all morning without that sugar crash which usually follows a breakfast of cereal or bagels. As with all pancake recipes, you can add or subtract ingredients and don’t forget to ask the kids what they think!
2 cups of your favorite organic pancake mix or flour. Since I like to make gluten and dairy free, I use this mix from Breads From Anna – Non-GMO and allergen free.
2 pasture-raised eggs (or egg substitute)
3 cups of coconut milk or other non-dairy milk. Use whole milk if using dairy.
1 scoop of protein powder. My go-to is Vega chocolate powder as you can also use it in smoothies. The Berry flavor is also excellent.
1 tsp of green super food powder of your choice. I use Vimenergy’s barleygrass but you can use spirulina or wheatgrass. Don’t worry you won’t get green pancakes. Although you can add more for your St. Patrick’s Day pancakes!
2 tsps of raw cacao powder. This gives the pancake more of a chocolate flavor and yet adds tons of micronutrients.
2 tbsps of unrefined coconut oil, melted
1/2 – 1 cup of your favorite berries or chocolate nibs (organic and raw if possible).
1-2 cups of coconut water to vary consistency. Add as needed, do not add all at the beginning.
Method: Mix all the ingredients together and cook in unrefined coconut oil for 5 minutes each side, medium heat. Serve with fruit, organic syrup, honey or specialty chocolate spread. You can make the entire batch to be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or pop them in the freezer to be heated in the toaster when needed. You can also use the mixture to make muffins (bake for 30 mins) for super nutritious snacks on the go! ENJOY!
Wild Blueberry & Coconut Popsicles
From Medical Medium – original link here:
1. Mix the wild blueberries and raw honey in a bowl together. (You can also pulse them in a blender, if desired).
2. Assemble the popsicles by alternating a little scoop of the coconut yogurt with a little scoop of the wild blueberry mixture into each popsicle mold, repeating as desired until you’ve reached the top. Swirl gently with a butter knife to give the popsicles a slightly mixed effect.
3. Add popsicle sticks and/or lids and freeze overnight.
Exercise may be the closest thing to the fountain of youth. Not only does regular activity strengthen your muscles and improve heart and lung function, but it can also reduce your risk of major diseases, stimulate the growth of new brain cells, and even add years to your life. Studies show just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that’s required to reap big benefits.
The range of health bonuses now attributed to exercise has surprised even doctors. Many health organizations suggest that regular physical activity may do the following:
- Keep you young. Workouts such as brisk walking or cycling boost the amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. Improving your aerobic capacity by just 15 to 25 percent would be like shaving 10 to 20 years off your age. Aerobic exercise may also stimulate the growth of new brain cells in older adults.
- Reduce infections. Moderate workouts temporarily rev-up the immune system by increasing the aggressiveness or capacity of immune cells. That may explain why people who exercise catch fewer colds.
- Prevent heart attacks. Not only does exercise raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure, but new research shows it reduces arterial inflammation, another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
- Ease asthma. New evidence shows that upper-body and breathing exercises can reduce the need to use an inhaler in mild cases of asthma.
- Control blood sugar. Exercise helps maintain a healthy blood-sugar level by increasing the cells’ sensitivity to insulin and by controlling weight. Regular brisk walking can significantly cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Protect against cancer. Exercise may reduce the risk of colon-cancer by speeding waste through the gut and lowering the insulin level. It may also protect against breast and prostate cancer by regulating hormone levels.
- Combat stress. Regular aerobic exercise lowers levels of stress hormones. For many people, exercise helps relieve depression as effectively as antidepressant medication.
- Relieve hot flashes. Increasing fitness by walking or practicing yoga enhances mood and reduces some menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
- Protect men’s health. Pelvic exercises help prevent erectile dysfunction and possibly benign prostate enlargement, a common cause of urinary problems.
- Prolong life. Studies lasting many years have consistently shown that being active cuts the risk of premature death by about 50 percent for men and women.
 Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Clinic, (2011). Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity. Retrieved from website: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676