Thursday, June 12, 2014

Shopping Trip to Chuck's Produce

I apologize in advance to any readers outside of the Vancouver, Washington area.  This post will specifically focus on a local store which provides some good prices on many "healthy" items we are looking for.  However, you may see items in this post that can be found locally for you as well!

Items I found at Chuck's:

Rumiano Organic Cheese

This is good cheese, and it's made with sea salt.  I first found this at Whole Foods, but it was $6.99 there and at Chuck's you can get it for $4.99!

Organic high quality unsalted butter

I like good butter for spreading on bread.  I buy regular organic unsalted for baking!

Alpenrose organic milk

Their milk is not ultra-pasturized (high heat treatment which damages proteins) and the whole milk does not have Vitamin A palmitate added (potato derivative).


Both of these salsas have no sugar added and use sea salt.

Organic hummus

This hummus is made with sea salt.

Sprouted Wheat Tortillas

Finding a "healthy" tortilla was not an easy job, but this one is it!

Coconut sugar (bulk)

Coconut sugar is not cheap.  Buying it in bulk makes the price more reasonable.

White Pine Granola

I love granola!  Finding a granola made without any sugar (just honey) was a huge discovery!

Sparkling water

Remember the Izze "soda" they sell at Costco?  Make your own with sparkling water and juice!  I prefer sparkling mineral water myself, but this will do too.

I hope this helps you!

Healthy Shopping at Costco

Costco has quite a few things to buy that are good for our "healthy" (no potato - including dextrose or table salt, no corn, no cane or beet sugar, organic when possible) shopping list!  The selection varies by store and season, but here is what I found on my most recent trip there.

Natural Peanut Butter (organic or regular, both are made with sea salt, YEAH! No more buying separate peanut butters just for me!)

Organic Ground Beef

I would prefer it be grass-fed, but organic is much better than non-organic, and $4.49 per pound is a very good price.

Organic Chicken

In this case I would prefer the chicken to be free range, but again this is better than non-organic.

Organic Eggs

Free range also would be much better for us, but this is a good price for organic eggs if free range is not an option.

Organic Produce
This all depends on how much your family will eat (will you finish it before it goes bad?) and what they have in this season.  You can shop for the "Clean 15" non-organic produce here too (such as avocados, mangoes, asparagus, etc.)  Check out the frozen section for fruits and vegetables that you don't have to worry about going bad!

Almond Flour

If you do any cooking with Almond Flour this is a great place to pick some up!

Organic canned goods: beans, chicken broth, and so on.

This may be a lot of beans, but at least they stay good for a few years so you have time to get through them!

I love raisins & grapes are one of the most heavily sprayed crops- go organic!

Organic Honey & Maple Syrup

A recent investigation found that many stores sell honey of unknown origin & unverifiable ingredients (not really 100% honey)!  Many of those honeys could contain added sugars.  Kirkland honey says it has been verified at the source and is 100% honey.

This is the lowest price on real maple syrup for sure!  And it is organic too!

Need a snack?  I did find a soda and some crackers that fit our definition of "healthy"!

Dr. Kracker's Organic Klassic Kracker 

There are 2 bags in each box, but I just wasn't ready to spend that much on crackers...

Izze Sparkling Juice 

This is as close to soda as you're going to get- no sugars here though.

There are other organic finds at Costco, but here is a sample of things to look for next time you are shopping.

Just hang onto your heart when you get to the check out stand- you know it's going to stop for a minute when you hear the total!

Until next time,

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Healthy Shopping at Walmart

You heard me right.  As demand for healthy and organic food increases, even Walmart's shelves have been rapidly changing to reflect this.  They even have little "Organic" signs hanging off some of the shelves to help you locate the products.  I found a lot more organic food than I expected to during this shopping trip, and I would predict this trend will continue.

In a perfect world I would never shop at Walmart.  I have problems with how they do business as well as how their demand for cheap products fosters a culture of "sweatshop" labor in underdeveloped nations.

However, in the real world the Walmart Supercenter is the closest grocery store to my house.  Sometimes I am running late and I'm out of options, so Walmart is where I end up.  I also realize that a lot of people shop at Walmart and I wanted to showcase the good things that can be found there!  (Remember from my previous post that I am shopping for products without table salt, sugar, corn, or potato.)

Walmart Shopping List   (in order of how it appears at my Walmart Supercenter)
organic lettuce, spinach*, salad
organic baby carrots
grass fed beef
Krema peanut butter
organic tea
Wild Oats organic beans
Muir Glen organic tomatoes*
Muir Glen tomato sauce
Truvia sweetener
Prairie Gold White Whole Wheat Flour
Red Star Yeast
Rumsford Baking Powder 
**optional products, see below
Cascadian Farm organic strawberries*
organic eggs

Step by Step Guide 

organic lettuce, spinach*, salad
organic baby carrots

grass fed beef
this surprised me!  It's not organic, but I was excited about it!

Krema peanut butter
no salt, no sugar

organic tea
{no photo}

Wild Oats organic beans

Muir Glen organic tomatoes* (several varieties)

Muir Glen tomato sauce*
(remember at Whole Foods how the pizza sauce was the only sauce I could find without sugar and with sea salt?  Well, here's another one for much cheaper!)

Truvia sweetener
(I have heard opinions about whether these refined Stevia products are really "healthy" but if you want to try some Stevia this is the only one on the shelf, and there are several, that does not have added dextrose.)

Prairie Gold White Whole Wheat Flour
(this is not organic, but it's non-GMO and I like cooking with white whole wheat flour.  I get the nutrition of whole wheat with the appearance of white.  Since I bake a lot I get the 10 lb. bag.)

Red Star Yeast 
(the only yeast that does not contain potato)

Rumsford Baking Powder (the only baking powder without potato)
{no photo}

**If baking bread is too much of a chore and you want to buy bread, I did see this one that seemed to be "legal"; however, at $4.88/loaf, I would much rather spend $1 to bake my own!

**If you are wanting something different to drink, I did find this one Vitaminwater drink which is sweetened without sugar and appears to be fine, ingredient wise.  But only this flavor- acai blueberry pomegranate.  Sorry the picture is so blurry, I was trying to get a close up of the ingredients!  I bought one and it did give me a headache for some reason though...
The best water alternative I would recommend is to buy some sparkling mineral water at any other grocery store (I've never found it at Walmart), and mix it in equal parts with 100% juice.  Healthy soda!

**Amy's Burritos- only the organic beans & rice, non-dairy variety
If you need to have a convenience food on hand, this one is acceptable.  I do cringe a bit at the price though!

Cascadian Farm Organic strawberries*
*starred items are on the "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with heavy pesticide amounts, get organic!

organic eggs
wow!  Walmart's offerings have changed a lot lately, it wasn't that long ago that I could never find any good eggs here, and now there are several brands to choose from.

Now you may think you can buy organic milk at Walmart, but let me tell you the only kind they have is ultra-pasteurized, which is a heat treatment that is so high it actually changes the protein structure of the milk and it is not good for you.  Alpenrose has a pasteurized organic milk (not ultra-pasteurized), and the whole milk does not have any added vitamin A palmitate (a potato derivative).  I have found this at QFC so far.

I prefer the milk found in the glass jars at Whole Foods and Chuck's, but my family does not always appreciate it's rustic "cream on top" appearance.

Where will we shop next?  Costco!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Whole Foods Shopping Trip

I went shopping tonight & decided to take pictures of what I found. This is for my friend who recently found out she needs to avoid sugars, corn, as well as table salt, and certain other items, and is wondering what she can eat!  Whole Foods can be an expensive store, but if you shop for store brand items (365 Organic) their prices can be quite reasonable.

It is quite a challenging task to find items that do not contain either sugar or table salt.  But I did find some!

Whole Foods Shopping List   (in order of the store layout, at least I tried to do it that way!)
Produce:  salad dressing
Meat Counter: sausages, any meats on sale for a good price
Dairy/Refrigerated Case:  organic unsalted butter, organic eggs, organic whole milk plain yogurt, (all store brand: 365 Organic), Emerald Valley salsa
Middle Aisles:  Maple Syrup (grade B has more minerals, so try it out), organic pizza sauce, organic pasta, organic beans
Cheese:  Rumiano cheese
Frozen Section: store brand frozen organic berries (for smoothies?)

Produce:  If you're going to buy organic produce go to the Farmer's Market or Chuck's!
If you need a salad dressing, I did find a few there for 2.99 that have sea salt in them & no sugar.

However, my favorite easy & cheap salad dressing is equal parts salsa (look for the one I found below) and sour cream (either Daisy brand or Tillamook Natural contain no added ingredients, find them at most stores)

Meat Counter:  If you want to have sausage they have some very good chicken or pork sausages that are made with sea salt.
Sometimes you can also find other organic meats on sale for a good price here too.

Dairy/Refrigerated Case:  
organic unsalted butter (365 Organic),
organic eggs (365 Organic),
organic plain whole milk yogurt (365 Organic or buy Total if you prefer Greek yogurt, just not the 0% or 2%:  add maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon to flavor it, or coconut, raisins, or fresh or canned fruit), 
organic Emerald Valley salsa

Middle Aisles:
Maple Syrup (365 Organic: grade B has more minerals, so try it out), 
Muir Glen organic pizza sauce,

It has been impossible for me to find a pasta sauce that does not have sugar, and/or is made with sea salt, this is the closest I could find.  We had it tonight as a pasta sauce, and it had a bit too much tomato flavor for me.  I think it would taste good if you cooked up the sausage or meat ahead of time with extra Italian seasoning and garlic, and then let them simmer together to meld flavors.

organic pasta (365 Organic),

organic beans (365 Organic)

I bought Rumiano cheese here, because it is the ONLY cheese made with sea salt that I can find.  The kicker is the cost!  6.99 for 8 oz.!  I have bought the same or similar cheese at Chuck's, and it may be a little cheaper there, so I will have to see.  (If you're making a trip to Trader Joe's they have a store brand Monterrey Jack cheese made with sea salt that is much cheaper.) 
Don't let the kids touch this cheese, it is for you only!  

Now you have at least two easy meal nights: pasta night, and taco night (get organic ground beef and/or chicken at Costco- just don't use those taco seasoning packets: use salsa in your meat or make your own taco seasoning, make some rice to have it "bowl" style- I haven't found "legal" tortillas yet).  Add your vegetables and you're ready to roll!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How My Skin Tag Disappeared Using Tea Tree Oil

A long time ago I shared with you that after coconut oil made a wart on my leg go away, then I would try it on the skin tag on my neck (it didn't do anything).  I have had a small skin tag on my neck for many, many years.  It was an annoyance, but not severe enough to merit going to the doctor about it.  Recently I had been hearing that there were ways of getting rid of skin tags naturally, so I decided to do a little internet research.

The first method I settled on involved taking a piece of dental floss & tying a tight knot around the skin tag.  The point is to cut off circulation until the tag dies and falls off.  I had my husband do the honors of tying, but I don't think it was as tight as it needed to be because I started to feel pain & so he stopped short of making it as tight as possible.  The knot either slipped or loosened, because after a few days I noticed that the floss was actually half way up the skin tag, not at the base of it like it should be.  I didn't think much about it & after a week or so part of the skin tag did fall off.  However, the rest of it was still there.

It was sensitive to the touch, and I figured it should be disinfected.  Since I had also heard that people use tea tree oil to remove skin tags I decided to use tea tree oil daily, applied with a swab, to keep it disinfected.  I was using a 100% pure tea tree oil I had ordered through Melaleuca years ago.  I didn't expect anything else to happen, but it did.

After about 5 days I noticed that my skin tag was VERY sensitive and bothering me.  This was a Friday.  I also noticed it was a dark red color and when I swabbed it there was blood on the swab.  I applied tea tree oil to a band-aid and covered it.  I was concerned & even called to make an appointment for the next week with the dermatologist to have it removed.  (I didn't realize this was part of the process of the skin tag dying.)

I kept applying a fresh band-aid with tea tree oil morning & night.  On Sunday I noticed that the skin tag looked rather flat.  It looked like a scab.

My skin was also irritated from the band-aids and tea tree oil, so I switched to a tiny band-aid.  That night the skin tag looked completely dry & as I touched it I could see that it was like a dried scab about to fall off. 

 I gave it a little flick with my finger & that's just what it did- completely fell off!

Tea tree oil did it!  This was several months ago & there is no sign of where the skin tag was.  The redness/irritation from the tea tree oil went away within a day.  I decided to post pictures & my story because although I had read that tea tree oil would take care of skin tags I didn't know how it would happen, so hopefully this will help someone else!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Exploring Weight Gain: is fat or sugar to blame?

For many decades now there has been a widely held and accepted belief that over consumption of fat is what leads to weight gain.  Thus the proliferation of low-fat EVERYTHING, everywhere you look.  Yes, even I used to make brownies with applesauce instead of butter!  However, there has always been a counter culture to this, a belief held in the traditional foods community:  good fat does not make you fat, in fact it can make you fit!  This counter culture movement has been gaining more and more followers in recent years (including myself) and the beautiful thing is that scientific studies are now starting to catch up with what we've held to for years:  refined sugars and carbs, not fat, are some of the main culprits in our obesity epidemic.

I was having the "fat doesn't make you fat, sugar does" discussion with someone recently, and so I decided to try to cull some of the information from the internet that back up my argument with some facts.  I wanted to share this with as many people as possible, so I collected these links here for you to study and evaluate yourself.

How Blood Sugar Levels Affect Weight Loss

4 Ways Sugar Makes You Fat

Eat Fat To Lose Weight

Whole Milk and Weight Loss

Good Fat, Bad Fat (video)

I am sure there is more info out there (such as studies that have shown that nonfat milk drinkers weigh more, studies showing people lose weight faster on high fat/low carb diets vs. low fat diets, etc.) but I think that is a good sampling for you, for now!  You could spend a long time researching all of this, but you can begin by shaking out some of the set beliefs about fat you may have accepted because it seemed simple (fat=fat), and to realize that our bodies are much more complex than that!

It seems to me that to eat foods in their "closest to natural" state (closest to how they were created) is what is most healthy.  This is why it makes sense to me that processed sugars, fats (vegetable oils), and other such foods will negatively affect our bodies (we weren't designed to handle them), while "real" food, such as whole fat dairy, eggs, meats, and natural oils/fats can benefit our bodies.

Let me conclude with some personal examples:

Example 1:  I was 19 years old & I began to read books about how physically damaging sugar is.  I decided to completely eliminate ALL processed sugar.  I mean no ketchup (read the label), no bread with sugar in it, NO sugar at all.  I would eat fruits though.  At this time I was about 10 lbs. overweight.  Do you know that when I stopped eating all sugars, but ate as much as I wanted of other foods, that the excess weight just fell of me?  (Granted, at age 19 our metabolisms are a lot easier to motivate, but let me continue.)

Example 2:  About 3 years ago the fitness center at our office conducted a "Fitness Challenge" for several weeks.  At this stage in life I had already started eating a lot of traditional and whole fat, organic foods.  But at the beginning of this challenge I changed two things:  I started exercising regularly AND I started adding several tablespoons of coconut oil to my daily routine.  Do you know that when the challenge ended I ended up being the female who reduced her BMI/body fat by the highest percentage?  It is not just about exercise- a lot of people were exercising.  Research coconut oil and you will see why I give that oil a lot of credit for that!

Example 3:  In the last month or so I have gotten lax in my daily habits and have been regularly "indulging" in refined sugars: candies, pastries, beverages, etc.  I have always eaten plenty of fat in my diet: butter, whole fat yogurt, meats, and so on.  But do you know what has happened in the last month?  I have gotten "fluffy" around my middle.  I have added extra weight and it is all around my tummy.  The only change I can attribute this to?  Sugar.  (Boooo!)

I am recommitting myself to eliminating refined sugar as much as possible from my diet, as well as my family's (as much as they will let me).  This is not just about weight, sugar also affects our moods, energy, and so much more!  I am ready to start feeling good again!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Recipe Box is Back!

If you have used a recipe from this blog in the past I wanted to let you know that the Recipe Box on the new blog has been updated!  I had to put all the links back in for each one because of the new blog name/location.  So, go ahead and explore in there & you should be able to find everything you are looking for.  What are you looking for?  Chocolate Roasted Almonds?  Buttermilk Syrup?  Baked Oatmeal?  Honey Dijon Chicken?  Ranch Dressing?  It's all in there (and more of course).  Just click on the Recipe Box at the top of the blog.