functional food

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | LET'S TALK ABOUT FRUIT, BABY

Hi, everyone!

Today I want to address a topic I stumble upon and hear way too often: the demonization of fruit!

Fresh fruit is found in nature–you can go out and pick it from a tree if you fancy! Fruit is not only delicious with many textures and tastes but it is also full of goodness: vitamin C, certain B vitamins such as folate and pantothenic acid; and minerals like magnesium, potassium, copper selenium, zinc, manganese and iron, to name just a few.

So why has this wonderful food, that our bodies can use for fuel and nourishment, suddenly become the source of all evil?

Well...when it comes to fad diets and weight-loss gimmicks, there is always a new source of evil, one that can take the blame for all our food problems. First, everything was blamed on fat and poor nutritious avocados and nuts were shunned. Then, the finger was pointed to carbohydrates and people thought that if they even dared to look at a cup of brown rice or a sweet potato they would suddenly bloat into a balloon–unfortunately some people still believe this–and it’s not true!. Now, the spotlight is on sugar. Not just refined sugar–which I can concur offers no nutrition and does much more harm than good–but any source of natural sugar, such as the natural sugar found in fruit, is considered bad. WTF?

So now, instead of eating fruit, people are being encouraged to eat more and more protein: more protein powders, more isolated nutrients, more science lab experiments, more additives with names I cannot pronounce and have no idea how to spell, and less of the natural whole foods found in nature! Did you know that protein-rich foods can also induce insulin secretion? Studies have shown that a quarter pound of beef can raise insulin levels in diabetics as much as a quarter pound of straight sugar. Holy moly!

Anything in excess–even protein–can be turned to sugar in our bodies. And as with anything in excess, if it is not used as energy it can be stored as fat. I truly believe that foods, including protein, should be consumed in their whole packages. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, they say. It would be silly to think that our bodies metabolize 15 grams of only protein (without the fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fats it usually comes with when consume from a whole food source) the same way as when consumed in a cup of lentils, or ¼ cup of nuts–the other components and nutrients of the food are there for a reason! Anyway, I’m getting off topic…

Photo by Gina Mehta

Photo by Gina Mehta

Yes, fruits contain sugar we can use as energy but they also contain a whole lot of other good stuff. Some fruits contain antioxidants, which fight free radicals and are anti-inflammatory. They can help reduce the risk of cancer and improve arterial function. Adding berries such as blueberries or strawberries to a meal (1/2-1 cup) can minimize the detrimental effects of high glycemic foods.

“But Gina what about the sugar?”, you say. Ok. Glucose, one of the three simple sugars along with fructose and sucrose, is the brain’s primary source of energy, and it is necessary to carry out regular functions. But “doesn’t fruit contain fructose?”, you ask.

Fruit NATURALLY contain fructose. The key word here being “naturally”. No one added anything to it. It was “born” and grew this way! This fructose is metabolized almost completely in the liver where more than 50% of it is converted into glucose (that amazing source of energy our brain and entire cells likes so much better than anything) and it also replenishes glycogen (energy storage) in our liver. And, it does not cause insulin to be released–no insulin spikes; thank you very much!

But that’s not all! Along with fructose, fruit also contains fiber–which also helps to prevent a spike in blood sugar even further–, polyphenols, carotenes, flavonoids vitamins and minerals and is a great source of energy. The problem arises when the fructose in our food does not come from the natural fructose found in fruit, but rather when created in a lab as an isolated additive, or extracted from its whole form. Fructose as a “natural sweetener” has been isolated, stripped of nutrients, and binded with other additives. So, again, it is not the same as the sugar in fruit; the way it is recognized and metabolized in our bodies is completely different. On that note, high fructose corn syrup (aka “Dr. Evil”) is not derived from fruits. It is derived from corn syrup. So as you can see, sometimes all these scientific food experiments, that might have been a good idea at one point, can take a nasty, non-nutritious turn. Just because we are used to eating a certain way it does not mean it is the right way.

You still don’t believe me? In a study conducted with people with type 2 diabetes, participants were divided into two groups: One group was told to reduce their fruit intake and have no more that 2 pieces of fruit a day, whereas the other group was told to increase their fruit consumption and have at least 2 pieces of fruit a day. Results showed that the group that reduced their fruit intake had no effect on the control of their diabetes nor their weight.

So while keeping your blood sugar balanced is extremely important, this can easily be achieved by avoiding refined sugar and refined foods. If you want something sweet, reach for an apple or banana–or whatever fruit you like–before you reach for a brownie or a cupcake. Fruit does not have to be excluded or uninvited from your food plate party!

Lastly, I’ll leave you with one question. Next time you grab a snack, ask yourself what makes more sense: to pick up something that grew from this earth, with all the minerals from the soil and water, with sunlight (!); or would you rather pick something that was made in a lab and was put together in a factory from “nutrients” and then packaged all together in a pretty (but usually plastic) box?

(Hint: grab a piece of fruit and some nuts or seeds and your bellies will thank you ;)


Every couple of weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

Gina-Mehta-Alimental-G-Functional-Nutrition

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | PREPPING IS THE NEW BLACK

Hello, everyone! 

Sometimes, after a long hard day, the last thing we want to do is get home and cook. I can relate: you are tired and you just want to put your feet up and relax. But! you are also starving and want to nourish your body with wholesome food; you want to eat something that will nourish your body, your mind, and fuel those muscles with all the goodness that they need to rebuild, repair, and get them ready for that next workout at Motivate. Who has time for that?!

Although there are options that are readily available (hello, postmates delivery), there is nothing quite like a home-cooked meal in terms of quality, taste, and nourishment. Enjoying food with your partner, family, or just by yourself is a ritual that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Food is life!

So, what to do when you have so little time but don't want to eat microwaved dinners?

Enter meal prepping! If you dedicate just 45 minutes of your week to prepping food in advance (that's less than 7 minutes per day!) you will be able to whip up a bowl-like meal in a matter of minutes any given day! yeah, I said it!

Here's my go-to prepping method:
1.     Bake a big batch of vegetables: Carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, red peppers, even onions are delicious roasted! All you need to do is literally cut them into chunks (in the case of onions they are even more delicious when roasted whole or cut into halves), sprinkle on some dried thyme, fresh rosemary, pepper, a sprinkle of sea salt, and toss them (optional) with 1 tbsp of coconut oil or avocado oil and bake ‘em for 40 minutes in the oven at 400º F. Yum!

2.     Make a big batch of quinoa, brown rice, amaranth or buckwheat. These pseudo-grains (technically seeds, with the exception of brown rice) are extremely nutritious and filled with B vitamins, iron and magnesium. Cook a big batch of one (or two) for the week, and then rotate with another one the next week so you get a different variety of nutrients and you don’t get bored ("Variety is the spice of life" ☺️). Don’t be afraid of complex carbohydrates! These grains contain a good amount of fiber which will prevent your blood sugar from spiking. Complex carbohydrates are essential for energy production–always keep that in mind.

3.     Make a big batch of lentils or beans while you are making your grains.

4.     Steam some broccoli or any vegetable of your choice; you can even sauté them if that's what you fancy.

5.     Make sure you have avocados. Just adding half an avocado to your lunch or dinner plate gives you much needed wholesome fat, necessary to make hormones, for optimal brain function, and for your skin! And you can make guacamole! Guacamole makes everything better! EVERYTHING.

6.     Have a good sauce you like on hand (made out of whole foods with no fillers, or additives). I’m a sucker for hummus. I also like to play around with salad dressings. An easy one is tahini sauce. Mix ¼ cup tahini with 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, ¼ cup warm water, 1 tsp honey, a dash of pepper and that’s it! (Makes about 4 servings)

7.     Always make sure to have some fresh greens. You can simply dump them on your plate. (Kale, which is even more delicious massaged with some avocado, is a great option too. You can do this in advance. Check out Cereza’s recipe). Spinach, romaine….and even fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley and oregano can offer so much nutrition and taste at the same time!

8.     Optional: Have some kind of probiotic food in your fridge to feed your gut. Sauerkraut, plant based kimchee, or organic miso are great ideas.

That’s it folks! The only steps that really require time are 1 through 4, and they are literally just cutting things and sticking them in the oven, or preparing them however you prefer. That won’t take you more than 45 minutes.  If you have a slow-cooker, then lucky you because you can leave your grains and beans to cook and forget about them while you check your instagram feed. It's a win win.

Enjoy!

photo by Gina Mehta

photo by Gina Mehta


Gina Mehta Alimental G Functional Nutrition

Every couple of weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | Fresh Spring Salad

Hi, everyone!

Today I wanted to share a recipe for a delicious fresh spring salad! It actually does not contain any greens–I don’t know if I can call it a salad–but it is made out of two simple and extremely nutritious ingredients: Beets and carrots. “Go, go! Antioxidant Force!” (Sorry, I was a big Power Rangers fan when I was a young pup 😊)

Beets are really good for you but don’t take my word for it. Beets have the ability to stimulate the liver’s detoxification processes. Their beautiful colors are due to the pigments betacyanin (in red/purple beets) and betaxanthins (in golden beets); both pigments are powerful cancer-fighting agents. Beets are rich in folate, fiber, magnesium, manganese, iron, vitamin C, phosphorous, and vitamin B6. The fiber in beets aids in bowel movements and in flushing out any extra cholesterol. It might come out the same color as it came in (I had to do a poop joke 😄).

Additionally, beets contain betaine, which promotes the production of hydrochloric acid (HCl): stomach acid which is essential for breaking down proteins and food.

For this recipe, I say go with golden beets. They have a much milder taste, (in my opinion: better taste) and they are in season right now! This recipe calls for using raw, uncooked beets in order to obtain full nutritional benefits without destroying any enzymes and vitamins, which are often destroyed by cooking and heating foods. Plus, it’s summer. So more fresh of everything, please!

Carrots hold their own as well! Carrots contain antioxidant compounds which can help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer; their lutein and beta-carotene content also promotes good eyesight (especially night vision) and protection against senile cataracts and macular degeneration; they even help to protect against harmful UV rays.

Carrots are an amazing source of vitamin A, biotin (great for our hair), fiber, vitamin K; they also contain significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamine, and potassium.  


Photo by Gina Mehta

Photo by Gina Mehta

Ingredients:

2 golden beets
3 carrots
3 tbsp hemp seeds (optional; they are an amazing source of omega 3-fatty acids and iron)

For the dressing:

Handful of dill
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp raw honey
1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (raw, unfiltered)

 

DIRECTIONS

Peel the beets. Wash your carrots. Chop both beets and carrots into large chunks and shred them; ideally place them in a food processor that will shred them for you!

The dressing is dead easy. Simply add to a bowl a handful of chopped dill, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar, and 2 tsp of raw honey. Mix together.

Mix dressing in with the salad. Top with an avocado and hemp seeds if you like, and there you have it!


Every couple of weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

Gina_Mehta_Functional_Nutrition

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | Spring Cleaning

Hi, everyone!

Spring is finally here! Flowers are blooming, the weather is getting warmer, no need to wear as many layers; yay!

To some–if not most–of us, with spring comes spring cleaning: giving away our old clothes and/or things we really do not use anymore; we aim to de-clutter our homes and closets. “If it doesn’t bring you joy, through it away”, or something like that. 😀

But what about our true homes: our bodies? Spring is the perfect time to clean up your pipes and flush out any waste that has been clogging up; and what better way to do this than with a delicious, nutrient-dense smoothie?

Today, I’m going to share with you the recipe of a smoothie it not only tastes delicious, but is also loaded with fiber and nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, and iron. Plus, it supports your liver, helping it flush out extra cholesterol and hormones it doesn’t need, chemicals, toxins, and any nastiness your body might be holding on to (like a bad ex, yikes!). Your liver, among many other things, plays an essential role in regulating blood-sugar levels, so showing it some love is a good idea! Are you still with me? Ok. Just checking.

The key to this smoothie is to keep it very simple; it only contains vegetables and fruits (no protein powders or anything else).

Enjoy this smoothie in the morning before your breakfast. Chew it for optimal digestion. Yes, you heard me right: CHEW your smoothie. Don’t just gulp it down like you did back in college playing beer pong. By chewing your smoothie, you’ll see how this will get you moving in all the right ways in the morning 😉


Photo by Gina Mehta

Photo by Gina Mehta

Ingredients:

2-3 cups dandelion greens
2 cups spinach
2 stalks celery
1 cucumber
½ cup parsley
½ cup mint
1 banana
6 strawberries
1 tbsp bee pollen
2 cups water

 

DIRECTIONS

Place all the vegetables in the blender first with water. Blend. Add the banana, strawberries, bee pollen and lemon and blend again. Enjoy!


Supporting your digestive system with the magnesium, chlorophyll, B-vitamins, and fiber rich foods provided by this smoothie, first thing in the morning, will support elimination, regulate fluid and pH balance, help alleviate sore muscles, and have you feeling lighter, refreshed and full of energy for the rest of the day!

This simple smoothie provides you with absolutely all the vitamins and minerals your body needs; it is rich in calcium (containing 50% of your daily needs; wow), copper, iron (63%), magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, zinc; vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin E, K and pro-Vitamin A; I mean, wow!

If any of you know me, you know how much I hate focusing on numbers and macronutrients, but if you are into that sort of thing and are wondering: “but, where’s the protein? I gotta have my protein!” This bad boy contains 15.3 grams of protein in it without even trying. No funny, processed powders or weird things added. Only whole-food goodness!

Another good thing about this smoothie is that you can enjoy half of it and save the other half for the next day; you can keep it for about 3 days and you could even freeze it if you wish. You can mix and match the fruits but since dandelion greens (these need to be your new best friend; please read below for more detail about why these are good staple to have) are quite bitter, they pair quite well with banana, plus you get that heavy dose of potassium and magnesium which your heart and your muscles will be needing before and after that workout at Motivate! All the while they even help in regulating blood pressure; so it’s a win win with these nutrients.

Dandelion Greens: Dandelion is a rich source of nutrients; it actually contains a greater nutritional value than any other vegetable! You might have ignored these in the produce aisle, but these bad boys need a steady home in our fridges, ASAP!
Dandelion greens are high in vitamins and minerals (vitamin C, vitamin K, riboflavin, B6, thiamin, calcium, copper, magnesium manganese, iron) as well as, protein, choline and inulin. They have a high carotenoid and pro-vitamin A content (even higher than carrots). Dandelion supports healthy liver function by increasing the flow of bile and improving its ability to remove toxins, it can help improve blood sugar regulation, helps to strengthen bones, and has a diuretic effect (buh bye water weight!)

Parsley: Parsley is extremely rich in a large number of nutrients, chlorophyll, and carotenes. It is a very good source of vitamin C, folate, and iron. It is also a good source of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Parsley has shown to inhibit the cancer-causing properties of fried foods, and its volatile oil components have shown anticancer effects.

Strawberries: Amazing source of vitamin C, which helps keep our immune systems strong (Say goodbye to colds and flu this season!) and aids in the absorption of iron. They also contain vitamin K, flavonoids, dietary fiber, manganese, some B vitamins, and iodine (which is essential to our thyroids – it is needed to make thyroid hormones).

Bee pollen: Often referred to as nature’s most perfect food; bee pollen is a nutrient powerhouse! It is extremely rich in essential amino acids, carotenes, and B-vitamins, as well as vitamin C, E, K, and minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, zinc, selenium, and copper. What’s not to love?

Lemon: Excellent source of vitamin C and extremely cleansing, It is also a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, folate, flavonoids, and limonene (phytochemical with anticancer properties).

Fruit variations: you could make this with mango instead of banana; it works well and also contains a good dose of potassium and magnesium (among so many other nutrients).


Every couple of weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

gina-mehta

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | Treat Yo' Self With This Hot Chocolate

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all doing well! It is still like “winter” out there and I still have been reaching for cozy, comforting foods and drinks. An all-time favorite of mine is hot chocolate. Is there anything more comforting than being in your favorite ugly sweats and drinking a cup of hot chocolate and watching your favorite show?

What if I could tell you that there is a delicious hot chocolate out there that not only nourishes your body and mind but that also helps you balance out your body’s chemical messengers – hormones.

As females, our hormone levels fluctuate throughout our beloved cycles -- that’s just how we roll. Problems arise, however, when we produce too much or too little estrogen in relation to the amount of progesterone we produce: those times where hormones take over. There needs to be a balance between these main players (hormones) throughout our cycle. Excess estrogen can cause bloating, acne, fatigue, an irregular cycle, hair loss–ugh, no thanks! This doesn’t sound fun and it’s not fun for anyone.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we are bombarded with endocrine disruptors that mess with our hormonal balance. From environmental factors like the pesticides in our food to the makeup and perfumes we use, to the cleaning products at home, to the amount of sleep we get and our stress levels. Basically, everything has an effect on your hormonal balance!

So aside from doing our best to get on the green beauty wagon and sleep at least eight hours a night, I think we could all benefit from adding a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ to help us regain, maintain and support hormonal balance.

Say hello to maca. Although there is no isolated miracle food or product that will, by itself, magically solve all hormonal problems, studies have shown that this bad boy (maca) can help regulate hormones (among MANY other things) when accompanied by nutritious food and exercise. So what is this maca I speak of?

Maca is a Peruvian root plant, rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals and it is sold in dried and powdered form. It is an adaptogen, which means it helps the body adapt to stress. Adaptogens support the entire neuroendocrine system, and counteract the adverse effects of stress while regulating immune function. It is also known to boost libido! (shaka waka waka…)

Maca’s malty taste seems to complement cacao rather well making it a great addition to your hot chocolate. Enjoy maca a few times a week in this hot chocolate or maybe add a teaspoon to your smoothie occasionally. If you’re not feeling the maca then simply enjoy the rest of these nourishing ingredients!


Photo by Gina Mehta

Photo by Gina Mehta

Hormone-balancing hot chocolate (Fills a large mug -- satisfies cravings!)

 

2 tbsp raw cacao
2 cups cashew or coconut milk (both are rich, creamy and nourishing. This will work well with either one. Use almond milk if cashew/coconut milk is not an option.)
1 tsp maca
2 dates
1 tsp vanilla powder or 1 vanilla bean

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Warm the milk up first on low heat. Once warm, add it to a blender with the rest of ingredients. Don’t forget to remove the pits from the dates before adding them to the blender!

Tip: if dates are dry or hard, pit and soak them in filtered warm water for 15 minutes prior to adding them to the blender.


Photo by Gina Mehta

Photo by Gina Mehta

Maca powder is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur plus in vitamins C, E and some B-vitamins, it also contains protein.

Mixing maca with good fats (which are essential for making hormones) such the cacao powder and the coconut milk (or cashew milk) make this a great hormone-balancing drink you can enjoy anytime you are craving something comforting.

Cacao contains a hefty amount of magnesium - the relaxation mineral which is critical for energy production, helps to create hormones, to balance blood sugar, support thyroid, and regulate cortisol; it is also rich in antioxidants and helps you produce serotonin – which makes you feel happy and relaxed. So this is a win win!

Note: Cacao is not the same as cocoa: cocoa has been processed; cacao is pure and unrefined, and all of its nutritional benefits remain intact.

Dates are the perfect whole-food sweetener! (Just remember to remove the pit first) They are rich in fiber, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, vitamin K and certain B-vitamins. They provide sweetness along with a hefty dose of fiber. Contrary to popular belief, although dates contain natural sugar they do not spike blood sugar levels significantly and are actually a low-glycemic index food.

Vanilla: this aromatic bean is considered an aphrodisiac and contains calcium, iron, and potassium.  


IMG_2506.JPG

Every couple of weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | Eating Organic: What's it worth?

Hi, everyone! I hope you are all doing well.

Today I wanted to discuss what I consider an important topic: to eat or not to eat organic.
What’s the big deal with eating organic foods? Why is it that organic food is much more expensive? Is there really a difference? And is it really worth it?

To summarize, the answer is YES; plain and simple. Organic isn’t hyped or a fad. Once upon a time, all of our food was grown organically (there was less of an issue with feeding less people, technological/agricultural “advances”, etc.) and what people where buying at the stores then is not the stuff we are normally buying now–those days are long gone.

Now, crops are sprayed with an abundance of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, and other nasty chemicals in order to maintain crops to feed all of us and for farmers to loose less crops and/or make a living. Animals are injected with hormones and given antibiotics. And where do you think all these “goodies” end up? I think you guessed right!  

Everything that is sprayed and/or injected to the food we buy and eat has an effect on our health and, not to mention, Mother Nature–but I won’t get into that. So how do these chemicals affect my health? Well, firstly, many pesticides are endocrine disruptors. They contain chemicals that mimic our own natural estrogen, which causes a complete imbalance in our hormone production and can lead to numerous amounts of reproductive issues such as infertility, cancer, and malformations. Evidence is also growing to show their effect on thyroid, metabolism and weight gain issues too. They also damage the sympathetic nervous system; which in combination with the impact they have on us hormonally, can lead to weight gain. Those chemicals are starting to seem less harmless, no?

When we are constantly eating foods that contain these chemicals, they accumulate and lead to a toxic buildup in our bodies. Yes, fortunately our bodies are resilient and can usually manage the few not-so-good things we put in them but this toxic build up–and it takes less than you think–may lead to many health problems(including those previously mentioned). Antibiotics fed to animals are unfortunately leading to antibiotic resistance in humans. This means that our bodies need stronger antibiotics to fight any bad bacteria and/or infection which in turn cause harm to our intestinal flora and/or the good bacteria that lived in our gut that helps us absorb nutrients from food among many other things.

Additionally, reviews of multiple studies have showed that organically grown plant foods actually contain higher nutrient contents than non-organically grown plant foods. What does that even mean? Well, basically those strawberries are going to have more vitamin C in them if they are organic. You are going to get more calcium from that kale if it is organic. Period.

Ok, so organic foods don’t have nasty things sprayed on them, but why are they so damn expensive? It’s really quite simple. Conventional farmers get much larger subsidies from the government. In 2008, according to the House Appropriations Committee “mandatory spending on farm subsidies was $7.5 billion while programs for organic and local foods only received $15 million”. It seems there is a big interest in producing more and more food to feed everyone, at whatever the cost. More corn is grown to feed livestock and animals, and used as filler in most packaged foods out there or turned into high fructose corn syrup (this stuff is everywhere and for all the wrong reasons). Of course, lobbyists representing these “food” growers make sure that these subsidies keep coming. Meanwhile, organic farmers get just 20% of the subsidies conventional farmers get.  Imagine getting an 80%-paycheck cut. No way!
So while it may be more expensive, at least you know what you are eating. If you buy an organic head of kale or some organic potatoes, that is exactly what you will be getting and/or eating–without unwanted extra chemicals! Not kale with pesticides, or conventional potatoes with chlorpropham, an herbicide that is used to stop the growth of weeds and inhibit potato sprouting. According to the Extension Toxicology Network, chronic exposure to chlorpropham of laboratory animals caused “retarded growth, increased liver, kidney and spleen weights, congestion of the spleen, and death.” No, thank you! Yuck.

I know that it’s not possible for all of us to buy organic all of the time–it can get expensive. That’s why I wanted to let all you know (or remind those of you who may have forgotten) about the “dirty dozen” list: A list of foods that are highly contaminated with chemicals) and are always best bought organic to avoid their conventional counterpart usually filled with chemicals. And also, I wanted to let you know about the “clean fifteen” which are foods that are barely contaminated and are ok to buy non-organic/conventional.
One last thing: talk to your local farmers at your local farmers market. Some farmers do grow foods with organic standards but can’t afford the certification by the USDA–organic certification is a long, expensive process. Some of these farmers might even consider the USDA standards/regulations not sufficient to provide for true sustainability and will not pursue the certification program. You won’t know what they grow if you don’t ask.
With all of this information, I really just want to leave you with one question: Would you rather pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later?

Dirty dozen (Foods to avoid if not organic)

Strawberries
Apples
Nectarines
Peaches
Celery
Grapes
Cherries
Spinach
Tomatoes
Sweet bell peppers
Cherry tomatoes
Cucumbers
Others with high contamination: Hot peppers, kale, collard greens, potatoes, blueberries (Get the full list to over 40 foods you should avoid if not organic here)
Clean Fifteen:
Avocados
Sweet corn (thought it is worth mentioning that non organic sweet corn is likely to come from genetically engineered seeds, so I would definitely recommend still buying organic in this case)
Pineapples
Cabbage
Sweet peas
Onions
Asparagus
Mangos
Papayas (also may come from genetically engineered seeds – go organic with this one)
 Kiwi
 Eggplant
 Honeydew melon
 Grapefruit
 Cantaloupe
 Cauliflower

 

Every couple of weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | Kicking off the Year on the Right Foot

Happy New Year!

Hello everyone, I hope you are all having a great start of the year.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been noticing temperatures a little colder than usual this time of year and I’ve also seen a lot of people coming down with “the common cold”–especially after crazy travel itineraries for the holidays.

With this in mind, I saw fit to talk about the importance of vitamin C in case you, or someone close to you, might need to be reacquainted with this health-essential, water-soluble vitamin to kick-off the year properly.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants help protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease, among many other illnesses like scurvy (not pretty). So vitamin C is our friend. Our bodies actually are capable of producing some vitamins but not vitamin C like some other animals.

Since our bodies can only store a small amount of vitamin C, it needs to replenish levels daily through diet. The best food sources of vitamin C are: bell peppers (including red chili peppers), guava, kale, spinach and parsley (and all dark leafy greens), kiwi, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower), berries (strawberries, blueberries, cranberries), citrus fruits (lemons, oranges), and papaya, to name a few.

Vitamin C is used for the production of all adrenal hormones, especially cortisol. Cortisol and its importance is more than worthy of its own post–more to come. But staying on track, vitamin C is vital for the immune system. When we are stressed (from whatever event or ongoing stress), vitamin C is utilized rapidly to produce more cortisol. The more cortisol made, the more vitamin C is used, which makes vitamin C essential to support adrenal function (control blood sugar, burn protein and fat, react to illness or injury, regulate blood pressure and stress, among others).

So add some spinach to your morning smoothie, add some berries or kiwi on top of your warm oats in the morning (uh! you can even make your own jam!), roast some brussels sprouts, or add some peppers, broccoli, and/or cauliflower to your stir fry. Whatever rocks your boat, make sure you are getting your much needed vitamin C, your body will thank you for it.

Remember to eat the rainbow!

Love,
Gina

Every two weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.

 

FUNCTIONAL FOOD | Fall is in the Air

It officially feels like fall, y’all! (I need to work on my southern accent)

With these colder months, there are not only shifts in the weather but also shifts in the way we eat and the foods we crave. I’m not sure about you but, with these cold mornings, I don’t always feel like having a cold smoothie in the morning to kick off my day; I actually want something that keeps me warm after I wake up from my beauty sleep :D

I sometimes like to start my day with an Ayurvedic practice: a tea made out of ginger, lemon, and raw (local) honey. I feel this tea has all the right mix of flavors: a kick from the ginger, sweetness from the honey and tanginess from the lemon. Not only that but the honey acts as an antibacterial while containing a good amount of antioxidants, while the ginger (which contains plenty of anti cancer benefits) stimulates your metabolism and boosts your immune system, as does the lemon with a good punch of vitamin C–you can drink this if you feel a cold coming. Having this tea is a great way to get your body and digestion moving first thing in the morning–containing both cleansing and metabolism boosting properties.  I do want to point out that It is important to choose honey that has not been pasteurized, processed or heated, in order to preserve its rich nutritional profile of natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, among other goodies.

An Ayurvedic teacher told me recently that the traditional way to make this tea is to peel a small piece of ginger (about two inches), cut it in half and boil it with a large cup of filtered water for 6-8 minutes. Then, mix the “gingered” water with 1-2 tsp raw honey and the juice of half a lemon. It’s that easy!

Now, don’t get me wrong; this in no way is meant to replace your breakfast–porridge anyone? This ginger tea is just a nice addition to your morning kick-off.

In case you are looking for new breakfast ideas though, I wanted to share with you some recent cravings I’ve had:

Avocado toast - Choose a good quality, sprouted bread made with whole grains and seeds.  You can toast the bread or not; it’s up to you. Add some (ripe) avocado, maybe even some ripe tomatoes (that reminds me I need to get some at the farmers market this Sunday), black pepper, and done! You’ll be picking the small crumbs off your plate when this bad boy is gone.

Pancakes!! (I love me some good pancakes) – Here’s my favorite recipe

Antioxidant-rich Chocolate pancakes

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup buckwheat flour

½ cup almond or cashew milk

1 banana

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 4 tbsp water (let sit for 10 minutes)

2 tbsp raw cacao

DIRECTIONS

1.    Mix all ingredients together in a food processor or blender until smooth.

2.    Heat pan with coconut oil (medium heat). When the coconut oil has melted, pour two tablespoons of mix into pan.

3.    Cook until bubbles start to form, then flip and cook for another minute or two. You can always do this on the stove top too ;)

These pancakes naturally have some sweetness to them from the banana. You can top with maple syrup or date syrup (my favorite - I make this by combining a handful of dates with water, and cooking over medium heat until they form a gooey paste), serve with raspberries or strawberries; or how about Cereza’s lovely recipe for blueberry syrup? Also another amazing recipe for pancakes there..

This Chia pudding is also a recent favorite of mine.

Every couple of weeks, I will be posting nutrition and wellness advice, recipes, and interesting findings worth sharing with all of you. I know that we all have different interests and needs so I will try to cover different topics with every post. I would love to read your feedback so I encourage you to share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section below.

If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website Alimental G.