Ingredients Demystified

Reading labels is one of the most important things you can do to become an advocate for your own health. It’s a good habit to get into while grocery shopping, even though at times it seems like a foreign language. We are all subject to claims made on the front of packaged items; “natural” or “made with real fruit juice,” etc. are often just marketing tactics and don’t necessarily mean all the ingredients are wholesome and good for you. Some basic things to remember are that ingredients are always listed in order of weight, which means the first ingredients are usually the main ingredients. Also know that the “% Daily Values” is based on a 2000 calorie per day diet recommended by the FDA and USDA. Let’s get into more detail about some tricky labeling. Serving size The nutritional information on packaged food is based on a serving size that is almost never for the entire container. In other words, if a bottled drink reads “2 servings per container,” make sure you multiply all the nutritional content information by two, including the calories and the % Daily Value (right hand side). Sounds like a no-brainer (maybe we’re only supposed to have one of the servings?), but don’t forget how easy it is to buy a package of seemingly healthy cookies and before you know it, there are only a few left… and you’ve just had five servings. Damn those Newman-O’s are addictive. Sodium We sure like our salt, and I don’t just mean adding a few shakes here and there to your home-cooked meals. It’s actually found in the most excess...
Pantry Basics

Pantry Basics

Three reasons why having a well-stocked pantry is necessary 1) You can save money by never having to go out to lunch again. Pressure cook a a pot of beans and rice on Sunday night and you can make 5 days of easy lunch combinations all week. Or, a pot of cooked quinoa is very versatile and lasts several days: just add vegetables or grilled chicken and get creative! 2) You inevitably eat healthier when you make your own food. No additives, no mysterious ingredients. Just whole foods with simple and delicious ingredients. Portion control is more effective as well. 3) It’s pretty to look at. Quite possible I waste time gazing at my cupboard with all the colorful mason jars and rearranging them. Don’t tell anyone. Grains and beans brown rice, quinoa, whole oats, wild rice, polenta buckwheat groats (kasha) soba noodles, brown rice noodles garbanzo beans, black beans, lentils, adzuki beans, split peas popcorn kernels The bulk aisle in most grocery stores is one of my favorite places to go. It allows you to experiment with these different ingredients and buy small portions. Not sure what some of the ingredients are? Play around with some of them by adding different vegetables, spices, and herbs, as well as cooking them differently, and you’ll expand your cooking skills (and your palette!) Oils/vinegars sesame oil extra virgin olive oil coconut oil balsamic vinegar brown rice vinegar apple cider vinegar These are the staples that I always have on hand. Along with a decent spice and dried herb collection you can make almost anything without having to go to the store. Nuts,...