Light? Low? Free? What Does the Packaging Really Tell Us?

There is a lot of lingo thrown at us in the grocery store.  From oatmeal magically lowering cholesterol to fat-free peanut butter? Can this be?! These explanations will help you to discover what the labels mean so you can choose the best option. >> I highly recommend going to http://www.fooducate.com/ or downloading the app- you can look up products and see how healthy they are, quick and easy!

don't be fooled

Descriptions of Nutrient Claims

  • Free – no amount of or a trivial amount of calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium; calorie-free is defined as less than 5 calories per serving
  • Good source – is defined as 10-19% of daily value of a certain nutrient per serving
  • High – is defined as more than 20% of daily value of a certain nutrient per serving
  • Less – is defined as containing 25% less of a certain nutrient than a standard food
  • Light – is defined as containing 1/3 less calories or 1/2 fat of a standard food (is this a good thing!? beware of crazy ingredients on the label that you don’t recognize, it is likely a fake sweetener that is illegal in other countries and linked to cancer!)
  • Low – is defined in certain nutrient terms
  • low fat – 3 grams or less per serving
  • low saturated fat – 1 gram or less per serving
  • low sodium – 140 mg or less per serving
  • low calorie – 40 calories or less per serving
  • more – is defined as containing 10% of nutrient daily value when compared to a standard food

Beware of TRANS FAT

Aka hydrogenated oils or mono or diglycerides on the ingredients label. Food labels are allowed to say that they have 0g trans fat per serving if there is less than 0.5g trans fat per serving. However, it is likely that the serving size is ridiculously small (like on non-stick cooking spray). If you see hydrogenated oil or mono or di glycerides I would not recommend purchasing the product.

hydrogenated oils
Find a brand with zero hydrogenated oils!

Organic Or Natural?

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  • Natural: a product that has no artificial ingredient or added color and is minimally processed. Although consumers purchasing “natural” meat, poultry, and eggs can be happy that there are no artificial ingredients or colors added, it’s important to remember “natural” does not mean hormone-free or antibiotic-free; these are separate labels, also regulated by the USDA.
  • Organic: certified organic and contain at least 95% organic content. Organic food is produced using approved organic farming methods “that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Specifically, “synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used” to produce organic food, meaning that organic food products are not genetically modified and have not been treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers

PLU Codes:

gmo 8

You know, those numbers that every food in the produce department has? They mean something!

  • 4 digit codes: conventionally grown
  • 5 digit code that starts with a ‘9’ : organically grown
  • 5 digit code that starts with a ‘8’ : Genetically Modified Organism *avoid* unfortunately, I have never seen this used.  GMOs are secretive and discretely used in packaged items as corn and soy oil.  Good luck to us Americans! Hope GMOs are clearly labeled soon!

Food Label Health Claims – those foods making health claims must follow the following criteria:

  1. must be a naturally good source of at least one of the following nutrients – vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein, or fiber
  2. foods containing more than 20% daily value of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, or sodium cannot carry health claims

oatmeal-helps-reduce-cholesterol

  • Calcium and osteoporosis
  • Fat and cancer
  • Fiber containing products such as vegetables, fruits, grains and cancer
  • Fiber containing products and heart disease
  • Fruits and vegetables and cancer
  • Folic acid and neural tube defects
  • Saturated fat and cholesterol and heart disease
  • Sodium and hypertension
  • Whole grains and heart disease & cancer
  • Sugar alcohols and tooth decay
  • Soluble fiber and heart disease
  • Soy protein and heart disease
  • Plant sterol and heart disease
  • Potassium and hypertension & stroke

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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What I Ate Less Than $4 / Meal Nutrient Breakdown

Save money and eat a healthy diet? Easy!

Click here to watch video
Click here to watch video

Saving money on a vegan diet is simple, as long as you’re willing to eat simply, haha. Every day is different and variety and adequate hydration are important. It doesn’t matter what I eat, what matters is what you eat and what makes you feel good. Just because I eat this way doesn’t mean you have to to be healthy. (I happened to get 3 boxes of bananas for free and feel great eating them!) The nutrient breakdown of this day will be on my blog to see what vitamins and minerals are lacking. I recommend that you log your food every so often to see what vitamins and minerals you might be low in so that you can research what foods contain those nutrients and begin incorporating more of those foods in your balanced vegan diet.

Today, I am definitely vegan for the animals after seeing a cute kitty smeared on the side of the road. Hope he didn’t know what hit him, unlike all the mass produced animals for food these days. I hate to be a vegan pusher, but I really can’t stand to see people supporting that business, it breaks my heart.

According to supertracker.com. I color coded green = good, yellow=warning to look out for, and red = do something about this! warning: these recommended values are based on a 2200 calorie diet and I wasn’t that hungry today so I only ate 2045 calories.  I am sure I would have met pretty much everything based on a 2000 calorie recommendation. Had I eaten more calories – I would have had higher numbers. Kapeesh!?

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Vegans should consider B12 supplementation or be sure to eat fortified products like plant milks, nutritional yeast, or cereals. Also, spending 10-15 minutes in the sun for fair-skinned individuals provides plenty of vitamin D.
Vegans should consider B12 supplementation or be sure to eat fortified products like plant milks, nutritional yeast, or cereals. Also, spending 10-15 minutes in the sun for fair-skinned individuals provides plenty of vitamin D.

Reds:

Vitamin B12: I take a supplement and normally like to drink fortified hemp milk that has B12 in it (I ran out).

Vitamin D: Sunshine baby! I spend at least 30 minutes in the sun everyday exercising, or just sitting, haha 🙂

Yellows:

% Protein: This is up for debate considering I clearly consumed plenty of protein.  I am only 1% low as well, 10% is recommended and I ate 9% of my diet from protein.  Should have eaten a few more lentils, huh!

% Carbohydrate and % Total Fat: Clearly I ate a high carb diet today.  I feel good and energized eating mostly carbs and have noticed though documenting food in the past that a higher fat percentage for me makes me sleepy.  I used to enjoy peanut butter sandwiches and handfuls of nuts but I honestly noticed they slowed me down a lot, both in my digestive tract and just throughout my day.  So, this is a personal thing, but just shows it wouldn’t hurt me to consume less calories from carbohydrates and more from fat.

Linoleic Acid: This is a very important essential fatty acid that is necessary for formation of hormones, brain function, and cell membrane stability.  It is great for me to see how my high carb diet is effecting my intake of essential fatty acids.  Looks like I need my hemp milk!

Calcium: Also a little up for debate, it has been questioned whether clean eating vegans really need that much calcium since fruits and vegetables have been shown to increase the absorption and utilization of calcium. However, this tells me I could stand to of course eat my fortified hemp milk that I love (the chocolate version is SO GOOD!), as well as more okra, figs, broccoli, almonds, collards, and kale in my diet to get some more calcium.  Calcium is in lots of plant foods, even oranges!

Iron: I was a little low in iron today, 16/18mg. Lentils and greens and beans are great sources of iron.  This worries me a little because plant based iron (non-heme iron) is less readily absorbed than iron from animal products (heme iron). To absorb it better, it is necessary to combine it with a source of vitamin C like red bell peppers, lemon juice, oranges or tomatoes.  Last time I got my blood checked I had more iron than my doctor, so I am not too concerned about it.

Selenium: a little low 46/55. I like to eat brown rice which is a decent source for me, (1 cup has 19 micro grams) also brazil nuts are high in selenium and I like to eat a couple of those once in a while when I get a few from the bulk section at Sprouts.

Vitamin E: This should definitely be higher.  I usually eat more greens, (5 cups of spinach has 6mg vitamin E) I am running low so I am trying to make my last bunch last me for the next two days.  Greens are a great source of the essential cell membrane saving fat soluble vitamin antioxidant vitamin E! I could stand to eat a few more sunflower seeds and almonds too.  Even fruit has vitamin E, 1 ripe mango has 2mg.

Choline: Pinto beans (which I have been loving lately) are high in choline, as well as soy products like soy milk and tempeh, also quinoa, broccoli, and green peas, even oranges, bananas and dates have choline.  I should try some tempeh next week to get some variety 🙂

There you have it! Hope this helps, and I hope you do the same once in a while to make sure you are on track! Not to get obsessive! I don’t record what I eat everyday! Very rarely do I actually measure out my food unless I am doing something like this.  There are lots of sites out there these days, I use http://www.supertracker.com because that is the USDA’s website affiliated with RDs. I like http://www.loseit.com and http://www.cronometer.com and http://www.myfitnesspal.com as well. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.

Fat Free Vegan Blueberry Kale Bliss-Cream

Here, healthy + ice cream + so good goes in the same sentence.

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You will need: high speed blender or food processor

Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 leaves of kale, stemmed and rinsed
  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled and frozen for at least 6 hours
  • 1 fresh ripe banana
  • 1 soft medjool date, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla
  • 2 dashes of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of frozen blueberries

Steps:

  1. Put the kale in first so it is closest to the blade
  2. Add in frozen bananas, date, banana, vanilla, and cinnamon
  3. Blend until creamy
  4. serve with blueberries and a dash of cinnamon
  5. Run around like you were just blessed with those beautiful legs. xo

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5 Recipes To Sneak In More Nutrients

5 RECIPES TO SNEAK IN MORE NUTRIENTS

Banana ice cream with persimmon pulp in a pear cone: YUM!
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  1. Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans (drained)
  • 1 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup cacao or carob powder
  • 2 Tbs flax ground
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbs vanilla
  • 3/4 cup quick oats
  • topping: 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips and/or chopped nuts

Steps:

  1. Grind oatmeal in a food processor until smooth
  2. Add dates, black beans, and rest of ingredients (except topping) until smooth, adding in water or non-dairy milk if necessary to create a smooth, well blended consistency..
  3. Spread batter evenly over a greased 8×8 inch brownie pan
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 0-35 minutes, until desired ooeyness
  5. Serve with banana ice cream
  1. Chicken Wings: (Thank You PETA!)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water or non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup flour (any kind will work, even gluten free!)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into pieces
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (or buffalo or any hot sauce)

Steps

  1. Combine the water or non-dairy milk, flour, and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined
  2. Coat the cauliflower pieces with the slower mixture and place on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes (until cauliflower is cooked and breading looks crispy)
  3. Let cauliflower cool about 5 minutes and then fold them in a bowl with BBQ sauce
  4. Bake another 5-8 minutes on parchment paper.
  5. Serve with vegan ranch dressing and celery sticks.
  1. Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 5 frozen bananas
  • 5 fresh kale leaves, destemmed
  • 7 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup vegan chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or whatever topping you like! (try with cocoa powder and peanut butter!)

Steps:

  1. Wait for bananas to be ripe, with brown spots, but not too mushy
  2. Peel and freeze 6 hours or over night
  3. Put greens in first so that they blend smoothly, put bananas on top and process until smooth and creamy. Takes about 5 minutes
  1. Spaghetti and Marinara (Thank You Compassionate Climber!)

Spaghetti:

  • 2-3 Zucchinis, peeled with a potato peeler or spiralized with a spiralizer

Marinara:

  • 1 tomato
  • 1 tablespoon or more of Italian Seasoning (to taste)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 2-4 dates (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 2 oz (apx 1/3 cup) sun dried tomato

Blend in a high speed blender until smooth

  1. Overnight Muesli (Thank You Chef AJ!)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup quick or rolled oats
  • ½ cup liquid: (water, non-dairy milk, orange juice)
  • 1 Tbs chia seeds
  • 2 Tbs raisins
  • 1 apple, grated or chopped
  • optional: 1tsp vanilla and cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a bowl, mix well and let sit in the fridge covered overnight.