Food Shaming?

I learned something new this weekend. Apparently calling out crappy food is now called “food shaming.”

Seriously?

Is everything a “shaming issue” now?

At what point do we turn a blind eye and pretend that it’s okay to consume 76 grams of sugar in one stupid, “unicorn” drink? At what point do we slide our credit card into the Starbucks machine and willingly drop $5 each to make our children “happy”?

Anthony Bourdain, the famous American chef and TV star said about the Unicorn Frapp, Wow, that’s like four things I hate all in one sentence: Starbucks, unicorns, and the colors pink and purple. Also a Frappuccino! It’s the perfect nexus of awfulness. Just add pumpkin spice to that mix, and you can nuke the whole county.”

Funny comments, but the subtext is important—it is the perfect nexus of awfulness. Giving children crap like this is as bad as giving them a spoon to eat out of the sugar bowl—and who do you think these drinks are aimed at? Certainly not adults—this is blatant food porn launched purposely to hook your kids.

There’s over 1/3 of a cup of sugar in each one of those horrid drinks and yeah, I’m food shaming here! Starbucks, are you listening?

Drinking one of those unicorn drinks is the equivalent to eating 2 big Snickers bars or an entire pound of ice cream!

And parents—I’m not shaming you. Shame isn’t my style.

However, you need to hear the truth and I will not sit quietly while this kind of thing continues to happen—food manufacturers intent on ruining your children’s health in order to make a buck.

I will continue to educate you as long as you allow me to. I will continue to call out crappy “food” (and drink) in an effort to save this next generation from obesity and diabetes.

The addiction to sugar is real—and putting your fingers in your ears in an attempt to pretend it doesn’t exist is partnering with the enemy. Big Food, Big Pharma are preying on your kids. Food is manipulated and purposely made to addict and cause cravings—that is no secret, we’ve known about this for years.

It’s not changing either—witness this latest horrific nonsense in the form of a Lisa Frank inspired drink and you know that to be true.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for children between the ages of 2 and 18—this unicorn “nexus of awfulness” way exceeds that recommendation.

I have been saying for this for years—that food has the power to heal or the power to destroy. Real food is the only choice a human can make if he or she desires to live in a healthy life. There is no such thing as neutral foods—it’s a black and white issue; it’s good or it’s bad.

Good food is the gift we give ourselves and our families. It’s way to nurture and love your families.

And lest you think I’m totally against having a treat once in awhile, let me remind you that one of my most popular recipes is my Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe with the gingersnap crust.

I think treats are fine—but parameters need to be in place. Treats are very occasional things—that’s why they’re called “treats”. And one of the things that I think keeps treats in perspective is making them yourself with your child—that’s transformational and it creates a memory as well, like making cookies with your children (and btw, you can cut back on the sugar for any cookie recipe and still have it turn out just fine!).

And stay tuned for our own Unicorn Smoothie recipe—we’re testing it out as I type! Recipe and pictures are coming!

Love,

Leanne

PS—I know the unicorn drink is gone for the time being. But consider how wildly popular it was—I bet you dollars to unicorns it will be back and probably bring more of it’s evil spawn with it in the form of other sugary, colorful drinks. Popularity breeds contempt in this case!

PPS—Smoothies are my favorite “unicorn” breakfast! 

What veggie can I not get enough of right now?

What veggie can I not get enough of right now?

By: Leanne Ely

 

It’s time for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe! And in honor of this most ultimate summer squash, today we’re giving it the attention it deserves. Sound good?

Zucchinis are packed with beta-carotene, potassium and B vitamins. They also provide fiber and a bit of Vitamin C, but a large zucchini contains only 16 calories!

While zucchini can be used in muffin and loaf recipes, I prefer to eat it in its pure form, simply stir fried as a simple side dish. Oh you know what else is good? Grated zucchini sautéed in olive oil and a bit of garlic with salt and pepper. Absolutely delicious and almost rice-like in texture.

This is one versatile and delicious veggie!

zucchini

Now, it’s time for your Trick:

If you don’t know what to do with all that zucchini in your garden, grate it up and put it in the freezer, sealed individually in one-cup servings.

Your Tip:

Select small to medium sized zucchini if you’re eating them for flavor. The bigger guys start to lose their taste after awhile. They’re okay for purposes like zucchini bread, but they won’t do much for you in a stir fry.

And your Recipe from our new 21 Day Knock Out!

Fried Egg and Veggie Skillet
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 pound zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
4 large eggs

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS: In a very large skillet over medium high heat, melt half the coconut oil. Add onion, pepper, and zucchini and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until tender.

Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in thyme.

Move the veggies to the outer edges of the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Add the remaining coconut oil. Crack eggs into the center and fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Flip eggs over and fry for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until eggs reach desired doneness.

Carefully scoop vegetables out and top with eggs. Season eggs with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

If you want more tasty recipes to help you stay on track and get ready for summer, join me on our new 21 Day Knock Out here!

Top Tips for Grilled Veggies and Fruits

Top Tips for Grilled Veggies and Fruits

By: Leanne Ely

 

I shared some tips with you a couple weeks ago about grilling meats but there’s more to summer barbecue season than burgers and steaks!
grilling asparagus
Why turn on the stove to cook your veggies when you have a perfectly good hot grill already prepped? Never mind the fact that grilled veggies and fruits taste like something out of Heaven — if you know how to cook them properly!

Here are some of my best produce grilling tips:

Don’t use your veggie peeler. Don’t peel your vegetables before you grill them. Another reason why you need to buy organic produce! You’ll lose the nutrients and much of the flavor if you peel your veggies before they hit the grill. You’ll also get a smokier flavor if you leave the peels on. Remember the clean fifteen list and the dirty dozen when you’re trying to decide where to invest in organic produce.

Precook. Some hardier veggies need a bit of precooking to shorten the time they must spend on the grill. These types of vegetables would include: asparagus, broccoli, beets, artichokes, parsnips, carrots, winter squash and potatoes. Steam them or blanch them until they are only slightly tender, then pat them dry and cook them on the grill. That extra step will make sure the outside and inside of those sturdy veggies are cooked evenly. Vegetables like peppers, onions, eggplant, fennel, tomatoes and summer squash can be grilled raw.

Oil them. Rub a tiny little bit of olive oil (not extra virgin) or coconut oil on your veggies before you grill them. This will help prevent them from sticking to the grill, and it will also help keep them from drying out. Just a little bit because if there’s oil dripping from the food, you’ll experience flare ups.

Soak your fruits. Before grilling fruits, try drizzling them with honey or maple syrup, or soaking them in liquor. Talk about a flavor burst! Especially if you’ll be serving grilled pineapple or pears for dessert. Yes you can grill pears! You can also grill apples, watermelon and peaches. Reach for fruit that is firm and just barely ripe for your best options in fruit grilling.

Indirect heat. When grilling fruits and veggies, you want moderately hot coals or indirect heat. You may need to move them around throughout the cooking process to make sure they cook evenly.

Stick it to them. Skewers are great tools for grilling veggies. It’s tempting to make beautiful kabobs out of meat and veggies but if you want to ensure even cooking, skewer all the same type of veggie per skewer. Cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, chunks of onion and pineapple are all wonderful cooked on skewers.

Use packets. Some veggies don’t lend themselves well to skewers or grill baskets. Peas, beans, sliced peppers, etc. For these lovely foods, try making a packet out of tin foil and cook them that way. This is also a good way to cook potatoes, or to cook other veggies with a sauce or topping of some sort.

There you have it.

Have I missed anything? Do you have anything to add?

Budget-friendly crock pot meals

Budget-friendly crock pot meals

By: Leanne Ely

 

It seems like the more you do to feed your family properly, the harder it is to keep the grocery budget in check.

Using the crock cooker is a great way to stretch a dollar for several reasons.

• You can use tougher, less expensive cuts of meat
• Traditional crock cooker meals like chili and soup tend to go a long way
• The convenience of this appliance saves you from spending money on take out
• Crock cookers use less electricity than stoves

Today, I’m going to share some tips with you to help you save even more money with this beloved kitchen appliance.

Make your own stock. If you know me at all, you know I’m pretty big on making stock. With a slow cooker, you shouldn’t ever have to buy canned or boxed broth again. Simply save up bones (I keep one zipper bag for chicken bones and one for beef), trimmings and juices from your roasts and freeze them until you have enough to fill your crock pot about half full. When you have enough, put them in the crock pot, fill the crock 3/4 full with water and let it cook on LOW for 8 hours or so. Then, you can use this homemade broth in your crock cooker recipes and for other uses.

Cook more than you need. Buy a very large, inexpensive chuck roast. Even if it’s much more than your family needs—as long as it will fit in your crock pot, bring it home with you. Put it in the crock pot, fill the crock cooker half way with water (which I would do only for cheap cuts of meat), and let it cook on LOW for 8 hours. Portion the meat and use it throughout the week in lunches and dinners. You can even freeze some of the meat to take out later in the month.

Buy from the Clean 15 list. Even if you make an effort to buy organic whenever possible, you can save a little bit of money on your grocery bill. Use crock cooker recipes that call for ingredients from the Clean 15 instead of the Dirty Dozen list so you can buy the less expensive, conventionally grown option over organic. (You can learn more about the Clean 15 at ewg.org by the way.) Many Clean 15 items are great for slow cooking, including onions, sweet potatoes and cabbage.

If you’re coming up short on crock cooker meal inspiration, are you in luck!

We have a great promo going on right now on our Crock Cooker Classic and Paleo Menus. Find out more here!

Budget Crock Cooker Ideas

Dandelion Greens…the nutritional superstar + a recipe!

Dandelion Greens…the nutritional superstar + a recipe!

By: Leanne Ely

 

Most of us are familiar with the common yellow weed that marks the onset of spring and in many parts of the country.

Dandelion greens are the enemy to gardeners everywhere, but these flower bed nuisances are actually real nutritional superstars.

Dandelion greens are very high in vitamins A, B, C and D. They are rich in magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and calcium. Dandelion greens are commonly used in contemporary herbal medicine because of their diuretic properties. They’re used to suppress appetite and as a digestive aid – dandelion greens are great for gut health.

I know dandelion greens are good for me, but I also love their bitter flavor. I enjoy dandelion greens sauteed in some olive oil, rendered bacon fat or a little butter with garlic, onion and some salt and pepper. They are absolutely delicious served alongside bacon and eggs in the morning. Mmm mmm!

Are you getting hungry for dandelion greens?

Now, it’s time for your Trick!

If your lawn is full of dandelion greens in the spring and you are confident that chemical herbicides have not polluted the soil or air around your home, go ahead and harvest your own! Choose pale green leaves (the pale green leaves are tastiest) and get them before the plant flowers. After the dandelion plant flowers, the greens become more bitter. If you can manage to keep the root in tact with the plant, the greens will last longer in the fridge if you’re not eating them right away.

Your Tip:

Wash your dandelion greens thoroughly under running water after you harvest them, or bring them home from the grocery store. Wrap them in damp paper towels and keep them in the fridge for up to a week. You can freeze dandelion greens after they’re cooked.

And your Recipe:
Green Chili Southwest Scrambled Eggs
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 cups chopped dandelion greens
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
3 (4-ounce) cans diced green chiles
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 eggs, beaten

INSTRUCTIONS:
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat coconut oil. To the oil, add the next 6 ingredients (dandelion greens through garlic powder). Cook for 5 minutes, until vegetables are slightly tender.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and salt and pepper and pour over the vegetables. Reduce heat to low and stir. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until eggs are set and vegetables are tender. Serve warm.

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Dandelion

Dandelion

Composting Made Easy

by Leanne Ely

 

You know my motto when it comes to eating fruits and veggies: eat fresh, eat local, eat seasonal. The easiest way to stick to that rule of thumb is to grow your own. Whether you have a big garden out in the yard or a few pots of herbs growing in a sunny window, there is a certain satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from eating what you have grown.

When growing your own food you want to start with a solid foundation and this is your soil. One of the best things you can use is compost. Composting is the process in which you allow, and even assist, nature to break down organic matter into a very nutrient-rich dark dirt-like substance. By learning to compost you cut down on the amount of garbage you throw away and consequently, create wonderful nutrients for your garden.

compost

Back Yard Composting

To start composting in your backyard, you simply need to start a pile. Pick a good location in your back yard, it doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or shady, just make sure it’s accessible to water and that it’s an easy spot to add in leaves, garden and grass clippings. Make sure its at least two feet away from any structure (including fences).

You should shoot for a 60/40 blend of brown cuttings to green and food scraps. If you chop everything up first, your composting will go faster. Each time you add to your pile, add some water; don’t soak it but make sure its dampened. If your food scraps were wet when you put them in the pile, that should be enough moisture.

The next and final thing you need to do to your pile is to turn it occasionally. This will keep the heat more stable and keep the “food” at the center of the pile. It also helps to destroy disease by bringing contaminates to the surface so that the heat can destroy them. This will add oxygen which keeps the micro organisms that are breaking down the compost alive, and it also reduces odor.

Back Porch Composting

You can buy many different types of back porch compost systems or “tumblers”. These work well for smaller yards. With a tumbler it is more important to chop the ingredients that you put in it and keep a good mixture of organic materials, brown materials such as shredded dried leaves. Check your moisture level and turn often. If it starts smelling add more brown materials and mix well.

Regardless of what you put in your compost the more organic, unprocessed items the better. Here’s a quick list to help you get the most out of your composting.

Brown — 60% Green — 40% Do Not Add
Sawdust Fresh manure Meat
Eggshells Coffee Grounds Bones
Dried leaves (fall leaves) Fruit Peels Fat
Straw Weeds (annuals) Whole eggs
Cardboard Green plant cuttings Dairy
Paper Green grass clippings Feces from humans or pets
Hay Veggie peels Weeds (pernicious)
Tea bags Hedge trimmings Treated Wood