Vegan Brunch: True Bistro with STEPH’S PLATE + Why Try A Vegan Restaurant?

First of all, I am so honored to have met Steph from Steph’s Plate! She is such a doll you must watch her videos and get inspired on IG.  Secondly, True Bistro is one of the most classy vegan restaurants I have ever been to.  It is definitely swanky enough for impressing a date, yet not intimidatingly so.  Their lunch menu offers brunch options of waffles, crepes, tofu scrambles, as well as classic sandwiches with burgers, salads, and they feature incredible sweets like local FoMu ice cream and fresh cinnamon buns.

 

Steph ordered the crepes with FoMu lavender ice cream and blueberry compote, I went for the more savory mushroom and red pepper tofu scramble with fresh home fries, salad, and a side of their smokey mac and cheese.  Steph’s crepes were incredible.  They didn’t, you know, “taste vegan” at all!  It was so good, like an incredible dessert to me!  My scramble had such a refined savory flavor profile, I was really impressed.  It didn’t taste like eggs necessarily but the combo of herbs and veggies were brilliant- so delicious.  The mac and cheese I actually got to take home for my sister (the cheese lover). It had a LOT of smokey flavor, almost sausage-y.  Anyone who enjoys those smokey tones would adore it.  Can’t wait to try the waffles and I must go for dinner!

 

4 Reasons: Try A Vegan Restaurant:

1. Plant Foods In Your Diet

A whole foods plant based diet has been shown to be the most effective at preventing and reversing disease. According to the USDA’s Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines:

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2. Environmental Impact

It is without a doubt that eating more plant based meals is more sustainable for the long term and environmentally friendly. As described in the USDA’s Scientific Report, and watch Dr. Michael Gregor’s Video:

3. Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer

Saturated fat and cholesterol are well known for their association with causing the leading causes of death: heart disease and cancer.  Fortunately, plant based diets high in whole foods with fiber containing grain products, fruits, and vegetables, can significantly reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

4. Get Inspired

Once you find out how delicious plant foods can really be, you are much more likely to want to get in the kitchen and start cooking!  Keep trying more restaurants and dishes, and before you know it, every meal will be whole foods, plant based, and simply divine.

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5 Vegan Barbecue Family Favorites | Burgers, Mac N’ Cheese, Cornbread, Fries, Grilled Veggies

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The thought of grilling gatherings used to give me the heebie jeebies! As a vegetarian / vegan / high raw / w.e., I try to stay away from the classic American foods.  These recipes are absolutely perfect for meat heads and vegan, gluten-free, even nut-free health nuts alike 😉 .  Last year I made my favorite Watermelon Mint Salad. Check out the recipe video honoring my Grampa here.

1. BBQ Black Bean Burger

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This is my favorite black bean burger that I have made so far – adapted from Minimalist Baker’s Easy Grillable Veggie Burgers. My adapted version of the recipe is here.  I love it served with cucumber and avocado because the burger has so much flavor! The cooling veggies help to balance it out perfectly. These babies are:

  1. Easy
  2. Cheap
  3. Quick
  4. Healthy*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (I have learned in my nutrition classes that vitamins are lost when cooked in excess water or when water is drained off.  Thiamin, (aka vitamin B1) is lost as temperature or pH rises but it is more heat stable in acid, so it would be a good idea to cook rice with some lemon or lime juice, adding acidity to help retain nutrient content. Cook in amount of water that will be absorbed during cooking : 1 cup rice, use 2 cups of water.)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp each: chili powder, cumin, and paprika
  • 1/2 tsp each: salt and black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, well rinsed, and drained
  • 1/3 cup ground rolled oats (throw some oatmeal in the blender)
  • 3-4 Tbsp vegan BBQ sauce*(Look for a BBQ sauce that is free of high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, >300mg sodium / serving. I used Annie’s Organic Original BBQ Sauce. I also really liked Sprout’s brand Pumpkin BBQ sauce that I got in the fall. Check out http://www.fooducate.com to compare BBQ sauce products to find a healthier option.)

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (These also work well cooked on skillet or grill)
  2. Heat a skillet over medium with 1/2 Tbsp oil, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. To a high speed blender or food processor, add walnuts, chili powder,  cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and blend until smooth, but not butter.
  4. Either mash black beans with fork/mashed potato masher in a large mixing bowl or pulse them in blender or food processor.  It is nice to leave some whole beans for good texture
  5. Add cooked rice, spice-walnut mixture, sauteed onion mushroom garlic mix, maple syrup, ground oats, BBQ sauce, and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until moldable dough forms.  If too dry, add a tad more BBQ sauce, if too moist, add more ground oats.  Taste and adjust seasoning as you’d like.
  6. For larger burgers, divide into 5 patties (~1/2 cup in size) or form 10 smaller burgers (~1/4 cup in size). To help form the patties, line your 1/2 or 1/4 measuing cup with plastic wrap and pack with burger mix. Press down to pack firmly, then lift out by the plastic wrap’s edge, and use hands to flatten slightly on the parchment paper, forming a 3/4 inch thick patty.
  7. Bake for about 15-20 minutes on each side for a total of 30-40 minutes cooking time.
  8. Serve over a toasted bun with all the fixin’s like thin cucumber, avocado, tomato, and red onion 😛

2. Creamy Macaroni and Peas

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This is adapted from the star item special at my home base Organic Garden Cafe ❤ It is unbelievable. My sister, (the cheese hound who without shame scrolls through #macncheese on IG on the reg), asked me to make this for her the very day I got back from my 10 day road trip from grad school in Texas.  Yup it’s that good. And it happens to be gluten free, nut free, low fat, high fiber, cheap, and effortless!

Serves about 6:

  • 1 cauliflower, roughly chop into large florets
  • 1 yellow onion, discard outer layer and chop into quarters
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 12 oz dry elbow macaroni pasta (I like using brown rice pasta!)
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas
  1. Steam onion and cauliflower until super tender (about 30 minutes) and boil elbow macaroni to manufacturer’s instructions
  2. Combine steamed vegetables with salt, pepper, olive oil, and nutritional yeast, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor S blade or high speed blender and blend until creamy creamy baby
  3. Pour sauce over macaroni and peas and mix well. Transfer to casserole dish for serving.
  4. Garnish with paprika, parsley, and serve to the cheese lovers in your life!

In the photo above, I used 12oz bag bionaturae brand elbows for the gluten free pasta, I thought it was pretty good! I always try new brands, what is your favorite??

3. Blueberry Corn Bread

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My mother adapted this recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen’s Sunny Corn Muffins and she usually serves it with chili as in the recipe here. My mom puts in less sugar and apple sauce instead of yogurt.

Yield: 24 mini muffins

  • 1 C gluten free all purpose flour (I used a brown rice GF mix)
  • 1 C corn flour
  • 1 Tbl baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C oil
  • 3/4 C non-dairy milk
  • 2 Tbls apple sauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C blueberries
  • fine grated lemon zest of 1 lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 400*F and grease 2 mini muffin tins with coconut oil
  2. Combine dry ingredients (except blueberries) and wet ingredients in separate bowls and whisk separately.  Fold into dry and halfway through mixing, add in blueberries and distribute well.
  3. Pour in 8 inch pan and sprinkle a little sugar on top.
  4. Bake for ~18-20 minutes. Mmm sweet cornbread perfection

4. Sweet Potato Fries

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The image above is one sweet potato and one purple potato.

  • Cut into fries.
  • Thrown in a bowl
  • Tossed with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and a few dashes of cinnamon
  • Baked on parchment paper at 410* F for mm 30-40 mins?  Nope, didn’t even time it. Just make sure they’re soft to perfection.

It is that easy. I LOVE cinnamon on my sweet potatoes but you can certainly get creative and use paprika, or herbs.. spice it up to match your flavah. Ginger powder would have been bomb too.

5. Grilled Vegetables

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I have never and will never operate an actual giant grill. These were made in the panini press at 375*F. (Thank you college life #necessity=invention). Just greased the press lightly with coconut oil, and threw on some sliced mushroom, eggplant, and peeled asparagus, and BOOM!  Nope, didn’t  put any spices.  Feel free to show me up and let me know what you did!  If you are capable of operating an actual grill, my favorite veggies on a skewer are onions, red bell pepper, and zucchini. Yumm. !

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Well, there you have it! Let me know how your memorial day weekend festivities go. Feel free to comment below, follow me @reinesandshine on instagram / twitter, and contact me anytime at reinesandshine@gmail.com. Cheers to life in good health! Enjoy!

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History in the Making: Dietitians of South Texas Tour Their New 100% Organic Grocery Store

In a city of McDonalds, Whataburger, Wal-Mart, obesity and diabetes, a world saving beacon of health and sustainability opens; fully equipped with the highest quality produce/products, demonstration kitchen, vitamins/herbs/supplements, beauty products, books, and, it’s love!

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Natural Grocers 100% Organic Grocery Opens March 15, 2016

Today, I had the opportunity to get a tour of the store with the Corpus Christi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics group lead by the wonderful dietitian there, Kelsey. I was extremely impressed by this tour. A grocery store tour to dietitians? Please, as if they could learn anything more, but we all did! Like how Kelsey pointed out that the hemp seeds, walnuts, and other unstable fats are kept in the refrigerated section (polyunsaturated fats become rancid very easily, creating free radicals, so they must be kept cool). I have learned this previously but I have never seen a grocery store actually put their nuts and seeds in the refrigerator!

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The sign above us says, “100% organic produce,” yes, I am the obnoxious intern that made everybody get in front of the produce section and asked the cashier to take our picture 🙂

The Tour~

Kristen gave us all a LONG list of things that Natural Grocers will NOT carry.  Including ingredients that I am quite familiar with like GMOs (genetically modified organisms), hydrogenated oils (trans fats), bleached flours, parabens (mimic estrogen and cause reproductive disorders), dairy products from cows given rBGH (recombinant  Bovine Growth Hormone), artificial sweeteners (all of them), and artificial colors and flavors, as well as so many that I have seen before but even (a nutrition nerd grad student studying nutrition) have seen but no clue what they are!

Ingredients like DBP (dibutyl phthalate) which is a fragrance ingredient, plasticizer, and solvent that is a reproductive and developmental toxin, endocrine disruptor, and a known human respiratory toxin.  Also, BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) are preservatives that have been shown to be carcinogenic and cause allergic reactions in humans.  I could go on..This place doesn’t even carry chemical based sunscreens or antibacterial soaps! Amen!

A few more reasons why I’m in love with this place:

  • No bags, you have to bring your own! (or they use a cardboard box)
  • GF (gluten free) items are all marked clearly next to price on shelf
  • Local is emphasized and marked clearly with a Texas flag on shelf
  • Lots of cheap “Health Hotline” sale items
  • Bulk specialty items from mulberries and goji berries to raw buckwheat groats
  • WIDE variety of vegan items
  • Reverse osmosis water filter, only $0.25 to refill a gallon
  • Nutrition experts- these people know their stuff!
  • To reduce waste and cut cost of items: no deli/freshly prepared items (ever wonder where all the fresh baked goods from Whole Foods goes at the end of the day? Yup, in the trash #wasteful. !
  • No self serve bulk bins but still has large packages of items in bulk – reduces contamination and food waste
  • Huge wall of shelves with high quality nutritional reference and cookbooks

They even have cool events like this Saturday they have a gluten free tasting expo and health fair! Aw chocolate avocado pie food demo, and “How to live an alkaline lifestyle” is on Monday April 11th. Check out their website for more info on events.

A little bit about my internship…

I can’t believe it, I completed my food service and community rotations last semester and am now half way through my clinical rotation! Eeek! As a snob from the Boston area who  works at a raw vegan cafe called “Organic Garden Cafe” back home, I was nervous that I wouldn’t get to learn new innovations of nutrition while working as an intern in a program that emphasizes the low income communities of South Texas.

I could not be more pleasantly surprised and excited about my feelings towards this internship right now.  It brings me such joy and power to have worked with the people of this community. Diabetics who do not know what a carbohydrate is, teen mom’s going out for a cigarette, and people who are truly afraid to lose weight because they have (and their family and friends) have always been big, so if they lost weight, what would they think!? Many of these people do not want to change, and even if they did, where to even start? As my sister, the writer, put it, “You need to learn the script before you can re-write a new one.

My clinical preceptor now, Shannon Aguilar, has helped me to not only be a much more confident clinical dietitian, but to take it a step further, too.  It is one thing to study nutrition, it is quite another to actually care enough to reflect on our own lives and practice what we preach.  My preceptor, Mrs. Aguilar, is more than a dietitian, she is also a health coach, and helped me to see how important it is to learn who our audience is before we try to help.

Seeing a grocery store like this open in Boston or Vermont would have been a, yawn. Another natural grocery? But, HERE! I get to see history in the making. These people having access to this kind of world saving expertise is dream come true for me.

There is something really cool about the idea of helping people who really need it AND want it. I could talk coconut oil and kale to the organic junkies back home all day every day, but that doesn’t reverse our obesity epidemic now does it? I may have thought that my second round match was a mistake, but actually, it was the best eye-opening and invigorating experience.  To be able to explain what a carbohydrate is to someone who has no clue? Check. Next: to reverse their disease through diet and lifestyle! No matter where I end up, I hope to make a positive impact and continue to be pleasantly surprised by all that I learn from the experience.

Chickpea Scramble | Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan

Happy Sunday! This scramble is savory, satisfying, easy, and CHEAP! Use produce from your farmers market ❤ Inspired by Minimalist Baker’s tofu scramble… I invite you to take this as inspiration and run with it using whatever vegan goodies are in your kitchen to create something that makes you love yourself from the inside out feeling relaxed, cozy, and grateful :-*

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Chickpea Scramble

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpeas (cooked from dry, no salt or fat added)
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium-small sized potato, cubed
  • 1 leaf lacinato kale, rolled up and sliced thin
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh green onion
  • Extra love ❤

Steps:

  1. Dry chick peas triple in size when you soak them so make sure they have plenty of water and plenty of room to grow when you saturate them and soak them for about 6 hours or over night.  Drain chick peas, rinse, and boil them for about 30 minutes or until desired softness
  2. Frying pan on medium to high heat, have water handy.  Add a little water (enough so the potatoes don’t stick) and the cubed potatoes and mix to prevent sticking.  Add water as needed
  3. After the potatoes have gotten a little soft, add red bell peppers. Continue mixing and adding water if needed
  4. Add kale, scallion, and dill and mix.
  5. Measure 1 cup of chick peas and add those to the pan.
  6. Serve with 2 cups mixed greens, 1/4 avocado and plenty of lemon or lime (the vitamin C in the citrus and the red bell pepper helps absorb all the non-heme iron!! 😀 )

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Special Guest: Nutriciously.com | Welcome Fall With This Creamy Fig Smoothie

Thank you Alena for this fabulous recipe.  Can’t wait to try.  Visit http://nutriciously.com for more info and recipes ❤

Drinking fresh, hydrating smoothies during spring or summer time is no big deal and very easy to sustain – but once the days get darker and colder, our bodies naturally crave foods which are dense and grounding. So what is a raw foodie to do once the seasons change?

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The answer lies in shifting your diet away from water-rich fruits in exchange of dense foods and adding in a little more fat too. This will allow you to feel more grounded, satisfied, and full over a longer period of time, since these foods take longer to get absorbed and digested.

One of my favorite fruits that are in season during the last summer months and early fall, are figs. Though they can be bought dried and packaged all throughout the year, I love this little time gap when I can get them fresh and juicy. They look and taste very exotic – but even better are all their great benefits they add into my diet.

Figs tend to have a natural laxative effect, which helps with indigestion, constipation, and preventing colon cancer. They also support weight loss and lower cholesterol, due to their soluble fiber. Another area for which figs provide aid is the strengthening of bones, soothing sore throats, and even treat respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis or asthma. All of this is possible because they contain many beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin A and B, calcium, manganese, potassium, and iron.

The second special ingredient to make this smoothie extra creamy is cashews. Their copper is an essential component of many enzymes, whose job it is to eliminate free radicals, develop connective tissue and bones, as well as building the hair and skin pigment melanin. The heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids found in cashews have zero cholesterol and their huge amount of magnesium regulates nerve and muscle tone. But my favorite benefit is that they can actually lift up your mood and ward off anxiety as well as depression – this is a nice side effect of their tryptophan.

Are you ready for this wonderful smoothie? Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

  • 4 fresh figs
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 dates
  • ¼ cup cashews (soaked)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • Pinch of vanilla

Instructions:

Put the cashews into some filtered water a few hours before making the smoothie. Then peel the bananas, remove the date pits, take the cashews out of the water, rinse and put all the ingredients into your blender. Blend on high until smooth, pour into a glass and enjoy!

About the Author:

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Alena is a food lover and health enthusiast from Germany who spends most of her time studying, writing, playing and meditating. Having read every book imaginable on healthy living, she is excited about spreading this powerful message and reaching out. When she’s not in the kitchen creating awesome meals, she likes to travel, make music or enjoy the world outside. Together with her partner, she created Raw Food Mastery where she loves to help other people to thrive on a healthy plant-based, whole food diet full of raw foods and constantly puts out new content. You can check out their free course on transitioning to a raw food diet, grab a copy of their free recipe ebook and follow them on social media via Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Shake My Head (SMH).

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The controversial pro-GMO vs. no-GMO hysteria has a lot of people talking.  Especially for us here in CornVille (aka Indiana).  Let’s talk food.  Of course it is better to increase fruit and vegetable consumption whether or not it is organic- but think you know what’s on your plate?  Inspired by my Public Health Nutrition Text, pg. 58: “Food is not a constant thing.  Vitamin content can vary… Farming techniques also change our food supply on the most basic level.  A cow fed a corn-based diet is not nutritionally the same as a cow that grazes on grass.  We may think we are comparing the proverbial apples to apples, but in reality often those apples have very different nutrient contents.”  Maybe that’s not the nourishment you think it is… let’s find out!

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What are GMOs? GMO=Genetically Modified Organism.  According to Monsanto’s website, GMOs are plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs. In general, genes are taken (copied) from one organism that shows a desired trait and transferred into the genetic code of another organism.

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Hold up- what is Monsanto? According to the Huffington Post, Monsanto is one of “The Big 6” chemical companies including Dow, Dupoint, Syngenta, BASF, and Bayer.  It was founded as a drug company, and its first product was saccharin for Coca-Cola – a derivative of coal tar that was later linked to bladder cancer.  The Huffington Post describes Monsanto as a company who manufactures the world’s most destructive chemicals, and is a pioneer of biotechnology; their first product being artificial recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), and they have sued companies for labeling their products as “rBGH-free”.

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Why care?  A lot of our food is genetically modified to resist bugs and grow bigger, brighter, and sweeter in all kinds of weather.  In Indiana, most farmland is GMO corn and soy.  The “big 6” companies have a lot of power here.  Our Indiana farmers need to do everything they can to maximize their profits- that means with every new chemically altered seed that comes out- they better invest if they want success.  It is brilliant what these companies have come up with, but there are some adverse outcomes worth discussing.

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Disease and allergies- Fact is- researching health outcomes based on food consumption is difficult.  There are so many barriers and variables.  Studies have been done by the FDA and the CDC that did show allergy and inflammatory responses from people who consumed genetically modified corn products, but they concluded, “These findings do not provide any evidence that the reactions that the affected people experienced were associated with hypersensitivity to the Cry9c protein (a protein genetically modified into the corn). The difficulties of this investigation highlight the importance of evaluating the allergic potential of genetically modified foods before they become available for human consumption.”  Funny thing is about this conclusion, we eat GMOs all the time, and nobody evaluates their allergic potential.  All the evaluations I could find end in questionable conclusions like this.  Nobody even lets you know your food was messed with.  And I won’t go into the science- but you are what you eat, and if you mess with the genes of your food, the potential for mutated genes certainly increases.  #cancer.

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Other Countries, Education, and The Environment:  GMOs are required by law to be labeled in lots of countries including Europe, Australia, and Japan.  Why not America?  Is there something they’re not telling us? Why would they not want something labeled GMO if they are so safe?  GMOs are in almost every packaged food- it’s about time us ignorant Americans actually knew what we were eating.  Might I add the disruption to the soil, and the superbug insects that these technologies could be creating?

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How to avoid GMOs?

  1. Buy USDA Organic certified food and food products
  2. Look for Non-GMO seals.
  3. Grow your own food
  4. Avoid risk ingredients that are commonly genetically modified:
  • corn (as in corn oil, cornmeal, cornstarch, and other corn based ingredients
  • soybeans (as in soybean oil, soy protein, soy lecithin, soy milk, tofu, and other soy-based ingredients)
  • canola (canola oil), cottonseed (cottonseed oil), sugar beets (the “sugar” listed on food labels is almost always derived from sugar cane and genetically modified sugar beets)
  • most Hawaiian papaya
  • some zucchini and yellow squash
  • and beware of dairy products, which may come from cows injected with genetically modified bovine growth hormone, and meats from animals (including farmed fish) that have been fed genetically modified foods.  Look for dairy products labeled No rBGH or rBST, artificial hormone-free, or organic; wild-caught fish; and meat labeled organic or 100% grass-fed.

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This was a hard article for me to write, because I know and love a lot of people in the ag business.  They are kind, whole hearted people, and truly do want the best for the world.  I came to Indiana to see their side of the story.  However, as a dietetics student, it is up to me to educate about exposures to various foods, and the possible outcomes.  There is a difference between a farmer, and a global chemical corporation.  Let’s do what we can.  We can talk to our food providers and parents about starting to grow our own food and consume more local, organic food.  We are the promising future.  Not a science experiment.