Good oil/bad oil. Now you’ll know the difference.

Good oil/bad oil. Now you’ll know the difference.

By: Leanne Ely

 

There is a good deal of confusion around which oils are good for cooking and which are not.

Fat is essential for human health. We need fat in our diets for hormone health, cell building, energy, and even for keeping our skin in good shape. There are certain vitamins (A, D, E and K) that require fat to help us absorb them as well.

Unfortunately, however, the average American’s diet today is high in poor quality fats, specifically, vegetable oils. Vegetable oils are relatively new to the human diet (within the past hundred years or so), and they are actually doing more harm than good in the human body. Especially when they are used in cooking.

Canola oil, corn oil and margarine are all examples of vegetable oils that increase inflammation and free radical damage in the body.

The majority of your fat intake should be coming from healthy oils like coconut and olive oil (the main two oils I personally use), and whole foods like avocados, salmon, grass fed animals, nuts and seeds.

With all the oils that look up at you from store shelves, which one should you use for what so that you get the most that you can out of those good fats?

Different sorts of cooking oil, close-up

Good Fats

• Coconut oil
• Olive oil
• Avocado oil
• Fish oils
• Walnut oil
• Macadamia nut oil
• Grass-fed butter
• Ghee
• Flax oil (but needs to be kept refrigerated and is very unstable so not recommended)

Fats to avoid

• Margarine and other artificial trans fats
• Vegetable oils
• Oils made from GMO grains
• Grape seed oil (it’s very high in Omega 6 fatty acids which we need to be consuming less of)

You want to cook with stable cooking oils like avocado oil and coconut oil.

EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) should never be heated up because doing so not only destroys the benefits of the olive oil, but it can also turn that healthy oil into a damaging trans fat that will actually harm your health.

This may be the first time you’ve heard of there being a significant difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. EVOO is what you get after the first press of the olive. The result is a rich, pungent oil, best for drizzling over salads or breads.

When the oil is pressed multiple times, you have a lighter oil that is best for cooking. The more the olives are pressed, the lighter the oil.

I wouldn’t recommend cooking with nut oils, they’re so expensive they aren’t really a reasonable option anyway. Flax is excellent for you, but I don’t recommend buying it in a liquid oil form because of how unstable it is. It goes rancid very quickly.

At the end of the day, you need to know that vegetable oil is to be avoided at all costs (margarine, canola oil, corn oil). Save those fancy nut and seed oils for salad dressings and use coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee for cooking.

Did you know you are allowed good fats on our NEW 21 Day Knockout? Check it out here!

Shopping cart envy

Shopping cart envy

By: Leanne Ely

 

There are two types of grocery store shoppers in the world. There are those who navigate the exterior of the market, list in hand, confidently reaching for fresh ripe produce, organic meats, probiotic dairy items and other healthy exotic ingredients. They stand at the check out, proud of the items they’ve selected, ignoring the strategically placed candy bars next to the magazines.

Then, there are the shoppers who spend a great deal of time in the freezer section, focusing on convenience and price over nutrition. Those carts are full of packaged foods, “fat-free” this and “sugar-free” that . . . foods full of GMOs and empty calories. There might be some apples, carrots or potatoes, but above that, these carts are generally sparse of produce.

Full shopping cart at store with fresh vegetables and hands close-up.

When convenience shoppers find themselves behind healthy shoppers at the check out, they may have shopping cart envy. They might wish they knew what half of those healthy items are and what they would do with them if they had the courage to buy them. They may also be aware that their own cart is being quietly judged by the healthy shopper in line behind them.

Yes, there are generally two types of shoppers, though they may be at various extremes of this convenience vs. healthy spectrum. If you find yourself suffering from cart envy and are trying to get yourself closer to being that healthy shopper, first of all, hats off to you. You should be proud of yourself for wanting to buy healthier foods for you and your family because you recognize that the convenience foods are not contributing to your well being.

If you want to be the one making other shoppers envious of your cart, just go ahead and make the decision to cut out the packages. When you commit to preparing your family’s meals from scratch, you naturally have to bulk up on fresh ingredients because you will no longer be able to rely on those processed foods.

We make eating like this EASY with our brand new Dinner Answers. (Lucky for you, our Dinner Answers membership is on sale right now!) Everyone in the store will be envying your shopping cart!

Looks like a brain to me

Looks like a brain to me

By: Leanne Ely

 

It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a tip, a trick and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Isn’t that great?

Today’s focus is on: CAULIFLOWER

Also known as Cabbage Flower, cauliflower is a member of the Brassica family of veggies, well-known for their cancer fighting capabilities. Mon petit chou means (in French, chou is pronounced “shoe”) “my little cauliflower” and is a term of endearment! How do you like that?

cauliflower

Here’s today’s TRICK:

Take the stem off your cauliflower and keep it in an opened plastic bag in the fridge. It will last a good week, maybe longer!

And here’s a TIP:

To tone down the smell of cauliflower cooking, add a few celery seeds or some celery leaves to your cooking water. It won’t pick up the celery’s flavor, but it will certainly tame the smell!

And your RECIPE:

Bacon and Cauliflower Stir-Fry
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 pound bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 large shallot, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 large avocados, pitted, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups baby spinach

Directions:
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until dark brown and very crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel lined plate; set aside. Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower, shallot, salt and pepper; cook for 10 minutes or until cauliflower is slightly tender. In a large bowl, combine bacon, cauliflower mixture and avocados.

In a small bowl, whisk together honey, lemon juice and olive oil; pour mixture over bacon/cauliflower stir-fry. Serve stir-fry over a bed of baby spinach.

Want more great recipes like this one? (you know you do!) check out our new Dinner Answers here!

 

How to start an organic garden (here’s how!)

How to start an organic garden (here’s how!)

By: Leanne Ely

 

I just love this time of year when those tender green leaves start shooting from the earth. There’s nothing like walking out to the garden with a pair of scissors and bringing in everything you need to make a fabulous salad for dinner.

If you’ve made the decision to plant your own organic vegetable garden this spring, I truly applaud you! If you have children, they are learning an unbelievably valuable lesson by seeing how much work it takes to get a tiny seed to grow into an edible plant.

Believe it or not, gardening isn’t as hard as you might think. Once you have a couple of basics under your belt, it really isn’t very hard. It takes a lot of work to tend to your garden, I won’t lie to you, but it’s well worth the effort (scout’s honor!).

Plus, growing your own organic vegetables is also a very economical way to feed your family the absolute highest quality food that you can and stretch your grocery dollar.

organic garden

Here are the basic tricks and tips you need to start your own organic garden.

1. Gather your tools. You’re going to need a hoe, a pitch fork, a spade, a weeding tool and a trowel in order to plant your garden. You’ll also need a watering can and supplies to build a frame if you are going to do a raised bed rather than digging up the earth.

2. Buy organic seeds. Make sure you have a good quality source for organic seeds. This is especially important when it comes to corn, beets, soy beans, zucchini, yellow squash and alfalfa, which are some of the crops that are legally allowed to be genetically modified in the United States.

3. Start in organic soil. If you’re starting some of your seeds indoors (which should be done for herbs and some crops like tomatoes, peppers and leeks), use an organic starting mix to get the best start possible for your seeds. (Your seed packets will tell you which plants need to be started early.)

4. Make a bed. Three weeks before you’re ready to put your seeds in the ground, you’ll want to make your garden bed. The soil should be good and workable. The earth should be dry enough that it crumbles in your hand rather than clumps together. Dig your garden patch about 12 inches deep. Remove stones and weeds. Rake the soil on a regular basis over the next three weeks—this will help any weeds that want to make their way up do so before you plant your seeds. If you don’t want to dig a bed, you can make a raised garden. Measure the area of land you want to dedicate to your garden and put a layer of newspaper or cardboard down to prevent weeds from coming through the grass. Build a simple frame about 12 inches high around your garden, and fill that with soil.

5. Add compost. Add a good layer of organic compost to the top of your garden and rake it into the soil. You can buy organic compost from a local organic farmer, purchase it from a garden store or make your own out of kitchen scraps,. Compost acts as a natural fertilizer, and it’s very beneficial for the soil.

6. Grid or rows. Decide if you want to plant in trench style (which requires a hoe to make long furrows to plant in) or in a grid pattern. There’s no rule here. You can be as organized as you want to be.

7. Add water. Lightly moisten the soil before you plant your seeds. You don’t want the seeds to get swamped with water.

8. Plant. Read your seed packets to find out how to space your seeds and how deep to plant. Cover the seeds with a small amount of soil.

Until your seeds sprout, sprinkle water over the surface of your garden whenever it looks dry. A spray bottle is great for this, or a watering can will work but remember to only add a small amount of water.

Gardening vegetables is so rewarding and such a great thing to do with the kids. There’s something very primal about eating food you’ve grown with your very own hands.

Our New Dinner Answers will help you use all your produce, wherever it came from! Click here to read more!

Little house on the…forage?

Little house on the…forage?

By: Leanne Ely

 

Now that I have everyone talking Paleo, I thought the timing would be just right to talk about all of the delicious foods you can find in the wild, or right in your own backyard!

We have our ancestors to thank for figuring out that the leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous, but the stalks are a wonderful source of fiber. That the flowers of a dandelion are too bitter to stomach, but their leaves are delicious. It took a lot of trial and error to discover that sweet, edible meat contained inside that ugly oyster shell and which mushrooms were safe for human consumption. They didn’t have a choice since food didn’t just appear in the grocery store like it does for us!

Food is easy for us to find nowadays, but with this huge Paleo movement sweeping the country, foraging for food has actually become rather trendy.

Chanterelles

With spring finally here, this is the time to look for edible wild greens and mushrooms.

DISCLAIMER: Do your homework to find out what’s available and edible (i.e., non toxic) in your own neck of the woods. Please don’t rely on this blog post to identify what’s safe to eat and what is not. There are dozens of varieties of plants and mushrooms around Canada and the US and I don’t claim to be an expert on them all, so do your research!

Daisies

Wild spring edibles

Here are some different types of edible foods you may find in the spring. This list will vary depending on where you live:

• Watercress. Find it in early spring right until late fall in marshy areas near streams and rivers. Can be eaten raw in salads.
• Morels. Find them in fields and forests. Black morels are found in early spring and white morels are found later in the season. Enjoy grilled or sauteed.
• Chanterelles. These beautiful golden mushrooms grow in the woods all summer long. Enjoy them sauteed in butter.
• Fiddleheads. Look for these alongside streams and forests. They are delicious sauteed in a frittata or just served as a side dish with some fresh fish.
• Wild leek. Found in woodlands early in spring and late in fall. Use them in soups and salads.
• Asparagus. Wild asparagus can be found in open fields, mid-spring until early summer.
• Dandelion greens. You can find dandelion greens just about anywhere! Read more about the nutritional value of dandelion greens and about how to enjoy them.
• Stinging nettle. You can find stinging nettle throughout the spring. Harvest them before their flowers appear. Nettle can be used as an herb or eaten as greens.
• Oxeye daisy. Did you know you can eat the unopened flower buds of the ordinary old daisy? Sauteed with some wild garlic and other wild edibles, they make an interesting side dish.
• Wild garlic. You can find wild garlic growing in damp woodlands. It looks like lily of the valley, but when you smell the edible leaves of the plant, you’ll know you have garlic on your hands. Literally! Eat the leaves raw or cooked.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to catch trout from a nearby stream, collect dulse or kelp from the sea shore or gather wild strawberries from the roadside.

There’s a free grocery store right outside your door!

Dandelion

Remember to only harvest these edibles from places you’re confident have not been treated with pesticides. Even then, when you feel the food is safe to eat, give everything a very good wash.

Okay, UNCLE!! We listened! And yes, we’ve extended our sale on our New Dinner Answers! Forage away! 😉 Click here for details!