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Just a Little Food for Thought!

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I know I have said this before, but this time of year it’s as if my body is begging for all those fresh fruits and vegetables that are about to be harvested.  I start looking for new recipes to use all the new produce.  I just want to start “Eating Clean.”

Eating clean is an easy way to flush out the toxins that have accumulated over the winter and get you feeling lighter, cleaner and more energetic!  Here is a great infographic I found which breaks the concept of Clean Eating into a few basic steps:



  1. Eat whole foods- According to Terri Walters from EatCleanLiveWell, this means eating minimally processed foods, from green plants not cement plants! You should try to eat food that looks like it was just harvested or grown, or as close to that goal as possible!  Think of the produce department with all of its colorful fruits and vegetables.  Meats are farther from the original source, but it is better to buy locally if you can from your butcher than to buy deli or processed meats that have added preservatives and ingredients.  It’s even better if the animal was raised on natural foods such as grass and not processed feed.  Many experts agree that eggs from free-range chickens are also better for us.
  2. Avoid processed foods- I talked a bit about that already, but this also includes avoiding foods that come in jars, bottles and boxes – basically, products that have been made by companies with many ingredients and are usually found in the inner aisles of the grocery store.  These products have added preservatives, fillers, texturizers, coloring agents and chemicals that our bodies don’t need.
  3. Eliminate refined sugars- Refined sugars are found in processed foods.  These added sugars have no nutritional value.  They serve to add two things: sweetness and calories.  Fruits and vegetables also contain sugar, but it is a natural form of sugar that is bound with fiber.  This form of sugar supplies us with sustained energy throughout the day.  Processed sugars, on the other hand, give our bodies a quick injection of energy, which feels good for a short time, but is short-lived.  We experience a sharp drop in our blood sugar levels resulting in fatigue, an inability to function clearly and intense cravings for more high calorie, sugary processed foods.  Best to stick with nature’s energy source found in the fruits and vegetables!
  4. Eat 5-6 small meals per day- Many experts recommend spreading your meals throughout the day to help maintain a constant blood sugar level, which in turn will help you avoid the energy highs and lows mentioned above.
  5. Cook you own meals- What better way to know exactly what you are eating?  If you are cooking, you know exactly what ingredients were used in your meal.  You also get the benefit of fresher food.  Produce is freshest right when it is harvested and tends to lose nutrients the longer it is stored.  For this reason, foods grown locally tend to have more vitamins and minerals.  They are also allowed to mature longer on the vine.  The more mature the produce, the more nutrients it contains.  Produce that needs to travel over many miles to reach the stores is picked early, before full maturation, losing flavor and nutritional value.  They may also contain additional preservatives to help keep them looking fresh after the long journey - additional chemicals our bodies don’t need.
  6. Keep a balanced diet- Eating a balanced diet means not overdoing any one major food group and always trying new whole foods. This ensures that we get all the macro and micronutrients our bodies need to function at their best.  For most Americans, this means increasing the amount of produce we consume (especially leafy greens), since most of us don’t get enough.   
The Harvard School of Public Health developed this version of a “healthy plate” in order to help us understand how to eat a more balanced diet.  It is a great visual to understand the importance of eating a plate that is filled mostly with vegetables and fruit (potatoes and French fries don’t count!), the importance of getting healthy fats and protein, eating whole grains (not processed.  It is interesting to note that most breads sold in grocery stores are highly processed and contain added sugars.) and drinking adequate amounts of water to keep rehydrated.  Dairy products are limited and sugary drinks are to be avoided!  In fact, you’ll notice that nowhere is it mentioned a need to add sugar!


A great way to start Eating Clean is to try one new food every 2 weeks.  If you do this, by the end of the year you will have added 26 new foods to your diet! In order to get you started, here is a great recipe for Swiss Chard from myrecipes.com.
 
Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts Swiss Chard

serves 4 golden-raisins-pine-nuts-swiss-chard-ck-l

Simple but satisfying preparation of any of the dark leafy greens!  The balsamic vinegar adds a sweet tang to the dish. Walnuts, pecans or almonds can be substituted for the pine nuts.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup water
12 cups chopped Swiss chard
2 teaspoons balsamic or white wine vinegar
Preparation:

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

2. Add pine nuts to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Remove nuts from pan.

3. Add raisins and water to pan; cook 1 minute.

4. Add Swiss chard; cook 3 minutes or until chard wilts. Stir in vinegar.

5. Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Yours in Health,
Evey

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