{My favorite things}

Let’s be real, sometimes you can’t get around buying prepackaged food. Life is busy, and I understand (and know) the need for a quick food fix. In a perfect world, we’d all live off the land, but it’s 2014, and most of us are grocery shopping.

If Oprah can have a list of favorites, I guess I can share my favorite “go to” items in a pinch. So while I’d love to slave over the stove for hours making the perfect pasta sauce (NOT!), sometimes the jar sauce is just fine. And although grinding almonds in a blender to make homemade nut butter seems fun, I think I’ll take a shortcut and get mind from the jar. Don’t get me wrong, I do love making things at home, but sometimes (as in most of the time) a girl just needs a quick fix.

*Disclaimer – I’ve read lots and lots of labels to come up with this list, but I urge you to do your own homework too.

These are a few of my favorite things:

(cue The Sound of Music):

Breakfast Meats:

I have eggs every morning for breakfast, and once in a while, I like to add a little extra protein in the form of a meat or (very) occasionally a scoop of Greek yogurt.

Brand: Oscar Meyer Nitrate/Nitrite free bacon
Pros: Available at Wal-Mart and most local grocers.
Cons: Are there any cons with bacon? I think not, I just don’t eat it everyday. It’s possible that the pigs may have been treated with antibiotics to control diseases or to speed up growth.

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Brand: Applegate (look for the low-sodium brand)
Pros: Available at Whole Foods and some local grocers. Applegate does not administer antibiotics to any of its livestock.
Cons: More expensive than Oscar Meyer, limited stores carry the products.

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Greek Yogurt:

Brand: Fage 2% Fat Plain
Pros: You can find a container at almost any grocery store. The yogurt is so creamy!
Cons: A medium-sized container will cost you about $4. If you buy flavored yogurt, there will be added sugar. Stick to the “plain” variety, and add your own toppings.

Deli Meats:

Brand: Applegate
Pros: The meat is nitrate and nitrite free. There are no added sugars, and there are several ham and turkey options available.  Overall, I think this is the best quality deli meat. Also, the meat is not slimy like other deli meats.
Cons: Based on volume, it may be more expensive that other deli meat, and not every store carries the brand.

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Pasta Sauce:

Pasta sauce is great to keep on hand for quick meals.

Brand: Sal & Judy’s Original Sauce
Pros: You can find it at Wal-Mart. It’s generally less than $5 per jar. There are only 2 grams of sugar, and there is no added sugar.
Cons: You may not be able to find it a grocery stores outside of southeast United States.

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Chicken and Beef Broth (look for the low sodium version)

I use chicken and beef broth in a lot of my cooking, but I don’t always have time to make my own. This is a great substitute.

Brand: The Fresh Market (store brand)
Pros: Cost, it’s usually around $2.99 for one quart container.
Cons: Fresh Market locations are generally limited to larger cities.

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Butter:

Brand: Amish Country Roll butter
Pros: I just found this butter a few weeks ago. It’s more flavorful that regular butter. Not confirmed, but I have read that the butter comes from grass-fed cows. Also, the roll is huge, and could probably last you a few months depending on how much butter you use for cooking.
Cons: Some associated grocer type stores will carry this item, but I’ve never seen it in a “big box” store.

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Nut Butter:

Brand: Justin’s Nut Butter
Pros: There are several flavor varieties available – I like the classic almond butter flavor best. It’s also available in big box retailers like Wal-Mart.
Cons: The nut butter can cost upwards of $6; however; depending on how much you eat, it may last a week or 2.

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Snack on the go:

Brand: Lara Bar (I like the Peanut Butter Cookie and the Blueberry Muffin flavors).
Pros: Non-gmo ingredients. No sugar added. Great grab and go snack if you don’t have a piece of fruit or veggies available.
Cons: The bars still have a high sugar content even though there is no added sugar.

To check out LaraBars visit http://www.larabar.com

Kid Snack on the go:

Brand: Brother’s All Natural Freeze Dried Fruit Crisps
Pros: There is no added sugar, no preservatives, no colorings and no flavor enhancements. They are also allergy friendly since it’s made with just fruit. Yay!
Con: The fruit is not certified organic.

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Protein Shakes:

I use protein shakes for snacks (occasionally), or when I’m in a rush in the morning.

Brand: Plexus 96
Pro: It comes in a travel packet, so you can take it with you, and fix it when you’re ready. There are only 96 calories in the shake (if mixed with water). There is no added sugar, and it’s sweetened with stevia.
Cons: If you have a dairy intolerance, there is whey isolate and concentrate in the drink.

You can easily order the protein by visiting this link http://jadabruce.myplexusproducts.com/products/plexus-96

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Brand: Now Egg White Protein Powder
Pro: The protein is sweetened with stevia. The main ingredient is egg white powder, so it’s great for people with milk allergies or intolerance.
Con: Not many stores carry it, but you can easily order online by visiting this link http://www.amazon.com/Now-Foods-Eggwhite-Protein-Vanilla/dp/B005551JXM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1412732697&sr=8-2&keywords=egg+white+protein+powder

Sweeteners:

I am very picky about sweeteners. While agave and honey are popular options, they are still converted to glucose in the body (sugar is sugar, right?). I prefer to use Stevia (which has actually been shown to stabilize blood glucose levels in some studies.)

Brand: Trader Joe’s Liquid or Powdered Stevia
Pros: $6.99 gets you 400+ servings.
Cons: you may not have a Trader Joe’s store in your area.

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If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area, the NOW brand is just as good, and you can order it online here http://www.nowfoods.com/BetterStevia-Extract-Powder-1lb.htm.

Keep in mind that a little stevia goes a long way, proceed with caution.


 

When the dog bites, and the bee stings, and I’m too busy to remember what to do on the never ending “to do” list… I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel  so bad!

(end Sound of Music)


 

I’d love to hear about your favorite food hacks that make life easier. Feel free to message me at JadaDanos@gmail.com

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. To find out how to get a free Breast Check kit, visit my website http://www.plexusslim.com/jadabruce. While you’re there, be sure to check out all the great products.

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What’s the beef with dairy?

Let me start off by stating that I LOVE cheese, I also LOVE Greek yogurt, I take my coffee with a splash of cream, and when I “cheat” I often “cheat” with ice cream. I grew  up drinking several glasses of milk per day – milk does a body good, right? Or wrong? Isn’t everything we were taught in the 1980s coming back to bite us in the butt?

The USDA recommends 3 cups (24 ounces) of dairy per day for people over 9 years old.  That’s a lot of dairy. An entire “block” of cheese is 8 oz. Most single serving yogurt containers are 5-8 oz (depending on the kind you buy). A traditional scoop of ice cream is about 2-3 ounces. My point in listing this is to show that we’d have to consume a lot of dairy throughout the day to reach the USDA recommended serving.

So why does the USDA make this recommendation? According to the USDA, their claim is that consuming the recommended amounts of dairy will give us the calcium, potassium and vitamin D we need to maintain a healthy diet.

Here’s a list of information refuting the USDA recommendations. The following list is directly from Walter Willett, M.D., Ph.D, the second-most-cited scientist in all of clinical medicine and the head of nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health:

1. Milk doesn’t reduce fractures. Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the Nurses’ Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50 percent!

2. Less dairy, better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.

3. Calcium isn’t as bone-protective as we thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. Vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.

4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Plus, dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factors — a known cancer promoter.

5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn’t. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

6. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products — a problem called lactose intolerance.

Because of reason 6, I am slowing cutting dairy out of my diet. For me personally, while nursing my daughter, I noticed she was extremely fussy after I consumed dairy products. I now try to limit my consumption to less than 4 ounces per day – which is substantially less than the USDA recommendation of 24 ounces per day. Also, please remember to check your labels, many of dairy products contain added sugar, especially ice cream, yogurt and some milks. Additionally, all dairy (unless you find a local farmer who sells raw dairy) is processed in some way. Finally, people who are lactose intolerant may experience IBS, allergy, sinus, and anemia directly related to dairy consumption.

For now I’ll take my coffee with a splash of cream and top my eggplant with cheese (everything in moderation) unless I can find a raw milk farmer!

If you’re considering cutting out dairy, I recommend reading the following articles:

http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/06/24/dairy-6-reasons-you-should-avoid-it-at-all-costs-2/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/dairy-truths?page=2

While you’re researching, check out the USDA guidelines: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/dairy-why.html

Do you struggle with insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, pain? Email me at JadaDanos@gmail.com for a wellness products consultation or visit http://www.plexusslim.com/jadabruce

What is Eating Clean??

What exactly is “eating clean?” I’ve been posting about eating clean on Facebook for a few weeks when I came to the realization that not everyone may know what it means. In trying to come up with a quick definition, I did what everyone else does – asked Google. 4,340,000 results returned.

I’m starting to think there are a lot of views about what eating clean means or that no one really knows what it means!

So here’s my list of what eating clean means to me.

Eating clean is NOT:

Counting calories. not all calories are created equal. The calories in McDonald’s french fries are not equivalent to the calories in an apple. When looking at calories, our thought should be quality vs. quantity. For instance, ask yourself – how is this going to refuel me?

Oh, and you can toss the idea of calories in vs. calories out while you’re at it, and if you have time (or don’t trust me) read the book Why We Get Fat? by Gary Taubes, PhD

FoodFuel

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Point Conversions: Who has time to decide what they’re cooking, check the fat content, convert the fat to a point, write down all the points, then calculate all the points at the end of the day, oh, and don’t forget, if you blow you’re points by 3:00 p.m. – you’re screwed!

A diet: Atkins, Sugar Busters, Hunter/Gatherer, Raw Food, Vegan, The Cookie Diet, the whole food diet, DASH, the list could go on into eternity.

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A starvation diet: You actually get to eat. Actually, even better, when you eat clean, you eat until you’re full, and you eat when you’re hungry – how fun!

A guilt fest: When you eat the foods God intended our bodies to digest, there’s no guilt in the amount, time or quantity you eat.

So what IS eating clean:

According to WebMD, CNN, Prevention and Eating Well (I had to consult several sources to come up with a concise definition) – it means eating whole, fresh, as close to nature food as possible. Pretty simple, right?

If you go to the grocery store, put something in your cart, look at the ingredients, and can’t determine where each ingredient came from, it’s not clean. In fact, the fewer ingredients, the better. For instance, instead of eating a banana nut muffin, eat a banana and some nuts.

Here are a few ways I eat clean (and explain it to others):

– avoid processed foods
– shop the perimeter of the grocery store
– eat veggies at every meal, even breakfast (corn is not a vegetable)
– limit sugar, refined sugar, added sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. If I’m going to eat sugar, it better be the best darn sweet treat I can get my hands on!
– eat protein, healthy fats, and fiber
– drink half my weight in pounds converted to ounces in water per day (ex. a person weighing 100 pounds would drink 50 oz of water)

And most importantly, don’t stress about it and allow yourself to cheat on occasion. We’re human!

This sums it up:

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Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/diet/eat-clean-diet
http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/23/health/clean-eating/
http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/10_ways_to_eat_clean?page=6

No Farms, No Food – God Made a Farmer {Part 1 of 3}

Let me start off by saying, I am not expert. I don’t have an alphabet soup of letters behind my name (nor do I want it.) I’m not even sure why people read this, but they do.

I’m just a mom – hell bent on making things better for my daughter, or at the very least not making things worse. I feel a strong desire to share with whoever will listen. As long as people are willing to read, I will share.

So here we go… This will be part one of three (genetic modification and processed food will be discussed soon.)

150-200 years ago, 90% of the world’s population worked on farms and produced their own food. Today only 2% of the world’s population produces food for the entire planet (7 billion people).

By making things easier (thank you agricultural and industrial revolution) we’ve essentially put a very important job our of business.

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It’s our job to keep the farmer in business. Between raising kids, jobs, family matters, social groups, church, etc., we’ve turned our backs on our food providers and turned to prepacked, convenience, junk.

Someone recently told me, “I don’t accept junk in my marriage, I don’t accept junk from my kids, so why do I accept junk from my food.” This made me think “Why do we settle for less when it comes to food”? Our literal life giving source, has been degraded to a 100 calorie snack pack of Oreos.

Small changes will make a ripple effect. Here’s how you start:

Visit your local farmer’s market. Most cities and town have markets on the weekend (and some larger cities have markets during the week). If you’re in a really small town, visit the produce stand on the side of the road. Just show your support for the local farmer, talk to them, shake their hand, thank them, give them business when you can.

I feel like the dial is gradually turning back to simpler, better quality food. Our health depends on our ability to eat the foods God intended for us to eat – whole, natural, home grown goodness. Let’s put sick care out of business.

“And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.”

For more information visit this website, and fill out the petition. It will only take 30 seconds. While you’re there, you can also learn more about current agricultural issues. – http://action.farmland.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Action_NoFarmsNoFoodPetition&s_src=NoFarmsNoFood&s_subsrc=farm-bill.asp

Overweight, insulin resistant, tired, in pain? Click here.

What Got Me Started

Let me back up. I began my health crusade when I was 27 weeks pregnant with Aubrey. I went in for my first glucose tolerance test, and the only thing I had on my side was my pride. I gulped down the nasty drink, all the while thinking I was going to pass with flying colors.

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Why should I think any differently, I ran during my pregnancy until the 16th week, I worked out several times a week and I ate healthy (or so I thought). A week passed, then I received a somewhat frantic call from the nurse saying I had failed my glucose tolerance test – I actually failed it with flying colors! I was so angry and upset, but more than anything I was determined to clean up my diet.

I started out by making an appointment a dear friend of mine and Clinical Dietitian. Up until then, I believed a healthy breakfast was JIF peanut butter with whole wheat toast, a healthy lunch was a turkey sandwich on wheat from Subway, and a healthy supper was whole wheat pasta with canned spaghetti sauce. I had a lot to learn!

Which brings me to where I am in this moment. Because I had gestational diabetes, my risk for developing Type 2 diabetes in the future has increase exponentially. I also worry for the people I love, and even the people I just like.

The rate of diabetes in the country and world is increasing, and it can directly be related to our diets. Fast food, food that comes prepackaged, highly preserved and highly sugared foods are literally killing us. By trying to make things “easier” for ourselves, we’ve set ourselves up for nutritional failure.

Here’s a few facts for you from the American Diabetes Association:
Nearly 1 in 10 people have diabetes
79 million American have pre-diabetes (about 35% of the population)
$245 billion is attributed to the cost of diabetes (some which is your tax dollars)

So what do we do. Eating healthy is hard, and I’ll be the first to admit it. Yesterday, I was at a pool party, there was pizza, and I indulged. It was easy, it was there, and I wanted it. If I’m honest with myself, I think most people think that way about food. Unlike a drug addiction, if you want your fix, you have to have a dealer, spend lots of money, and there’s a risk you might go to jail if caught. With food, the addiction can be fed (literally) with a $1 box of mac and cheese from Wal-Mart. Every week I find myself shocked during my grocery trip when I realize the literal junk that FDA approves to be sold.

I’ll admit I’m a work in progress, but I’m making forward progress.

If you’re in this same boat, I’d like to share some resources with you:

This is an awesome article from National Geographic about sugar. It’s interesting that the crop that grew on the back of generations of slavery continues to enslave many today.
This is a great article about the food processing industry.

Know anyone with pre-diabetes or diabetes? They may want to give plexus slim a try. It’s not just for weight loss! Based on a clinical trial and anecdotal evidence plexus slim has been shown to decrease insulin levels.

{I don’t understand – food labeling confusion}

I’ve been a fool to food marketing ploys for far too long. While standing over the egg display at Wal-Mart, I’ve found myself utterly confused over the use of words like cage-free, natural, free-range, vegetarian-fed and no added hormones.

I did a little research, and learned that I’ve wasted way too much money on meat, egg and dairy products marketed under the guise of humane living, only to learn I had been duped!

So here we go, my breakdown of all the glitzy, food marketing words that make us think we’re buying this:

free range chicken

when if fact, you’re probably getting this:

factory chicken

Natural:

Natural means minimally processing which does not fundamentally alter the product. Guess what, whole meat purchased is natural whether the label says it or not. This label essentially means nothing when purchasing meat. This term does not reflect how the animal was raised, and only refers to what happened to the animal after slaughtering. Most labels that contain the word “natural” will follow with “no artificial dyes and colors.”

Don’t waste your money!

Vegetarian-fed:

This is one of my favorites. I’ve seen this label a lot lately on chicken eggs, and have been tricked in the past to purchasing eggs from vegetarian fed chickens. Well, stupid me, chickens are not vegetarians by nature, and therefore means the chickens were not allowed to eat their natural diet! Purchasing grass-fed or vegetarian fed cattle, sheep, goat or bison is a good thing because those animals are herbivores.

A vegetarian-fed labeling means that animals have been fed a diet free of animal products. This does not mean animals were raised outdoors on a pasture or were fed a 100 percent grass-fed diet. Also, manufacturers may use this labeling without third-party verification.

Free-Range:

This is a term used for poultry only. It generally means that they are required to have access to outdoors at least 51% of the time. There is no restriction on the type of outdoors provided, it just needs to be outdoors. There is also no independent third-party verification that this practice actually occurs.

Be prepared up to $2 more for a label that states “free-range.”

Cage-Free:

Cage free means not caged inside a barn or animal house without access to the outdoors. Previously, when I envisioned “cage free” I saw chickens roaming on hills with songs from The Sound of Music in the background – not so much.

Don’t waste your money!

No Added Hormones:

This label makes me most angry. Federal law prohibits the use of hormones in poultry and hogs. Don’t pay extra for pretty packing on chicken, eggs, and pork that says “no added hormones”.

Hormones are allowed in cattle to speed their growth, so it would be wise and worth the extra money to purchase cattle products that state “no added hormones.”

 

Don’t take my word for this, do your homework. Visit www.sustainabletable.org to learn more about food labeling and sustainable living.

By local, sustainable food when possible, and don’t be a food fool!