Thursday, December 31, 2009

Can't Eat Just ONE--Pita Chips

Okay, regardless of how healthy or unhealthy you eat, it seems like everyone has a tiny weakness for chips! I don't know if it is the saltiness, crunchiness, or combination of both, but chips are definitely a weakness of mine-- not just any chip tho!  Trader Joes' and Whole Foods both have chips that are reasonably priced and VERY tasty; however, one of my all time favorites are:

Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Pita Chips.

7 chips have:
100 calories
2.5g of fat
260g of sodium
15g of carbs
1g fiber
1g of sugar
3g of protein
2% calcium
6% iron

Ingredients: Pita bread (Wheat flour, yeast, sugar, salt, walter), sunflower and/or safflower oil, sea salt.

How can you go wrong with a snack like that? They have NO PRESERVATIVES, NO TRANS FATS, nothing but ALL-NATURAL ingredients.  And the BEST part is that they TASTE GOOD TOO!


Eat Pita Chips with any of the following:
  1. Garlic Hummus
  2. Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb Cheese Squares
  3. Boursin Cheese
  4. Peach Salsa
  5. or simply PLAIN!!!!
When buying chips BEWARE of the artificial flavors and additives.  Most all chips that have added flavors will contain MSG, autolyzed yeast extract, artificial favors, natural flavors, maltodextrin, modified food starch etc...

Recommended: Lightly Salted Kettle Chips 

Not Recommended: Honey Dijon Kettle Chips claim to be ALL NATURAL; however they have maltodextrin & modified food starch in them. 

Not Recommended: Loaded Baked Potato Kettle Chips have maltodextrin, autolyzed yeast extract (A.K.A. MSG), & natural flavors.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pets are People Too???

Let's talk about something that is VERY near and dear to my TWO pups, Angel and Zeus! 

I know that a bunch of my friends are dog (animal) lovers just like me, but what about those of you who don't treat your animals like kids? Or don't understand what goes into cheap dog food that is sold at Wal-mart, PetCo, and Pets Mart?  Well, I am here to inform you that dogs need the SAME organic, all natural diet as a person does. And here's why....

Just think....if it matters what we put on and in our bodies, don't you think that it matters what our canine and feline friends put in their bodies as well?

Ingredients that should NOT be in your pet's food!
  • corn gluten 
  • animal by-products
  • corn meal
  • "meat" (not listing what specific meat was used)
  • artificial colors (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6)
  • BHA 
  • BHT
  • propyl gallate
  • propylene glycol
  • ethoxyquin
  • Extended list of Ingredients to Avoid 
READ: Comparison of the first 8 ingredients in 14 VERY POPULAR dog foods! Is your pets food on this list???

Here are the ingredients in IAMS Smart Puppy Small Breed Dog Formula:
Iams puppy food meets the unique nutritional demands of growing puppies. Puppies need up to twice the nutrients of adult dogs. Iams puppy food is formulated with optimal levels of chicken, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and calcium. Ideal for puppies from weaning to 12 months. Also for pregnant and nursing dogs. Ingredients: Chicken, Corn Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Fish Meal, Chicken Fat (Preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Dried Beet Pulp (Sugar Removed), Natural Chicken Flavor, Dried Egg Product, Fish Oil (Preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Brewers Dried Yeast, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), Dicalcium Phosphate, DL-Methionine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (Source of Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (Source of Vitamin B2), Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Calcium Carbonate, Rosemary Extract. Profile. Calories: 3,878 kcal/kg, 465 kcal/cup Made in the USA.

Why are these ingredients bad?

A lot of these ingredients are cheaper ways to produce and preserve pet food.  They add no nutritional value to the food, but they DO ADD harmful value to your pets health!  Corn fillers are fattier ways to add more protein to the food, which in return are extremely hard to digest.  Have you ever noticed that when a dog eats corn it goes in AND comes out WHOLE?  Obviously, corn is hard for people and dogs to digest so why should it be added to dog food?

Animal by-products allow anything, usually non-edible parts from an animal, to go into the food (i.e. head, feet, hoofs, lungs, bones, blood, kidneys, stomachs etc...). Ewwww!!!!

When pet foods list "meat" as one of the main ingredients (meaning it is listed in the top 5) that entails anything BUT REAL meat.  "Meat" could mean spoiled, left over meat from the grocery store, road kill, dead animals, etc...  

Repercussions to your pets health

Eating these ingredients will cause your pet to more than likely get one or more of the following:  
  1. diabetes
  2. cancer
  3. allergies
  4. poor coat
  5. poor overall health
  6. rotting teeth
  7. extreme fatigue
  8. poor eye sight
  9. organ failure
  10. loss of appetite
  11. stomach issues
  12. obesity 
  13. And much much MORE....

The first step to a healthy pet is their diet.  If your pet has any of the above problems, then start by comparing their food to the "ingredients to avoid" list above.  More than likely you will find that your pet's food is the reason for all the vet visits, expensive meds, unhealthy fur coat, and lack of energy!!! 


  • Buy all natural, organic treats at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Pets Mart and Petco.  TJ's has big boxes of treats for $2-3. ORGANIC, ALL-NATURAL DOESN'T ALWAYS MEAN EXPENSIVE 

  • Supplement your pet's diet by giving them healthy scrapes of table food like chicken, beef, pork, yogurt, milk, cheese, canned tuna, grilled fish etc...DO NOT GIVE your dog dark chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, or avocados!  
Suggested Pet Foods:
  1. Taste of the Wild 
  2. BG: Before Grain 
  3. EVO Dog Food  
  4. Wellness Pet Food 
  5. Wylie Waggs All Natural Dog Food--use this link for foods that will meet your dogs criteria, like puppy, adult, grain-free diets, heavy protein diets etc....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Para-- What?

I'm sure everyone has heard the word PARABENS, but did you know that they are in 90% of your cosmetics, lotions, and make-up? Do you really know what they are or how they affect you? I'm going to break it down and let you decide if you want to continue using your everyday products or not!

What are Parabens??

Parabens are alky esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid which can be broken down into various chemical substitutions.  Some of the most popular parabens found in your everyday household products are the following: methylparaben (E218), ethylparaben (E214), propylparaben (E216), isobutylparaben, butylparaben, and benzylparaben. These chemicals are used to inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast, and molds in your products; however, on The Truth about Parabens website they say that parabens are unnecessary because there are plenty of self-preserving, organic ingredients out there that create an extended shelf life for products.

Breast Cancer, Estrogen, & Parabens!

Studies have shown that parabens have been linked to breast cancer because researchers have found traces of parabens in samples of breast tumors (Parabens in Wikipedia). In 20 samples of breast tumors, 18 samples had HIGH concentrations of parabens.  Although studies have been done, there is no link that the parabens cause breast cancer, but just that the parabens are found in the tissue of the tumor samples.  The reason that parabens seem to affect the breast is because these chemicals have the same effect on our bodies as estrogen does resulting in, diminished muscle mass, extra fat storage, and male breast growth.  Again, the American Cancer Society still claims that there is NO link between parabens and breast cancer, so you be the judge!

Scientists claim that because of the small amount of parabens in our products and the large amount that was done for the studies, that there is no definite result that parabens cause cancer, specifically breast cancer.  Although more studies need to be done on parabens and our health, there is no denying the fact that our bodies absorb everything we put on it, including harmful chemicals.  And even though the chemicals might be in extremely small amounts, there is no denying the fact that our bodies accumulate these chemicals overtime resulting in allergies, skin problems, and cancer in our futures.  So you be the it worth it?

Products & the length of time on your skin

Products that are left on your body for a long period of time have more time to absorb all of the chemicals into your skin and body.  The following products are the ones you need to be more wary about using:
1) make-up (Suggested: bare minerals)
2) deodorant (Suggested: baby powder, all natural deodorant like Jason's)
3) sunscreen
4) lotions & (Neem Skin Salve @ Whole Foods, olive oil, all natural lotions)
5) skin creams (Avalon organics Vit C--online or at Whole Foods)

Products that are on your body for a short period of time will more than likely wash away all of the parabens before they absorb into your skin.  The following products that don't seem to have as much of a risk are:
1) soaps
2) shower gels
3) shampoos and conditioners

So, you be the judge...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Quick BL&D Ideas

I'm sure ya'll are wondering what BL&D stands for, welp it stands for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  With two wonderful, but very energetic pups, my mornings are usually one big rush, so I am always throwing things together at the last minute.  Here are a few ideas for a rushed schedule:

  1. Boil a few days worth of eggs, so that you can grab an egg from your refrigerator and go
  2. Fry an egg the night before and have it ready in aluminum foil to grab and go
  3. Pour equal parts of steel cut oatmeal and milk into a big bowl.  Add raisins, sugar, nuts, etc... Leave the oatmeal over night soaking up the milk and you have oatmeal ready to grab and go for breakfast
  4. Buy already cooked sausages, hot dogs or chicken sausages, wrap them in paper towels and cook them at work in the microwave.
  5. The night before mix berries, flax seed, raw honey, GREEK yogurt (Nutritional Info), frozen or fresh fruits and nuts together.
  6. Bacon is a great start to the day because it keeps you fuller longer!  I get the all-natural, NO NITRATES ADDED, 40% less fat bacon (Nutritional Info) at TJ's.  You can cook this up the night before or heat it up in the microwave the morning of! 
  1. Throw lunch meat, a pre-cut slice of cheese, lettuce, and a Ezekiel 4:6 sprouted tortilla wrap (Nutritional Info).  Toast the wrap in a toaster, melt the cheese on the toasted wrap and you have yourself a tasty sandwich. (add your choice of sandwich toppings, I usually always have Dijon mustard with it).
  2. Frozen WILD CAUGHT salmon burgers with onions, salt, pepper, and butter.  Throw in the tortilla wrap, cheese, lettuce.
  3. Sourdough bread, Applegate Farms all-natural hot dog (Nutritional Info), cheese.  Toast the bread and add ketsup and mustard.
  4. Pre-shredded broccoli and carrots and add PEACH salsa.  It is healthy and a great snack!! 
  5. Deli style sandwiches: Sourdough bread, hummus, salami, turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and of course my favorite part cheese!  I usually use low-fat white cheddar, but I love feta, goat, and mozzarella cheeses too. If you have a toaster oven at work this sandwich is FANTASTIC toasted.
  6. Frozen spinach or eggplant lasagnas from TJ's.  They have no preservatives and taste fantastic! If you are watching your sodium intake you might want to avoid these.
  7. Almond butter (Nutritional Info) and raw honey (unheated and uncooked) sandwiches with a touch of ground flax seeds.

  1. TJ's has some very fast meals that can be prepared in 10-25mins.  Some that I would recommend are: Spinach Pie (Nutritional Info); Veggie lasagna; pre-marinated, all natural lamb, chicken (pollo asado), and beef. 
  2. Take a TJ's Margarita frozen pizza and add your own toppings. I like to cook up chicken and add spinach, avocado, and onions, but be creative and add whatever you like!!! Try pizza with EGG on top, it is really good!!! 
  3. Frozen veggies are quick, easy AND healthy.  It is always recommended to have frozen, organic veggies in your freezer!  They cook up quick.
  4. Try TJ's frozen chicken and buffalo burgers (Nutritional Info).  They are quick, easy, and VERY good.
  5. TJ's WILD CAUGHT frozen fish defrost very fast and cook up even faster.  Try your favorite fish wtih some salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried onion pieces, and olive oil.  Broil it for 7-10mins.  Add veggies and a slice of sourdough bread! If you want to get creative add some cumin and/or paprika.
  6.  TJ's Polenta, spinach, and peas mixture.  I usually mix this with chicken breasts and add MORE spinach.  Although this does have modified food starch in it, this mixture is so good that it is allowed every now and then! 
  7. Pan fried polenta!!!  TJ's sales organic polenta (Nutritional Info). Cut plenta into thin circles and put your pan on the stove at MED/HI to HI with butter in the pan. Cook until crispy.  Put a smudge of honey on top of them when they are still hot!  They will taste like dessert!!! 

What do you eat for BL&D? 
Let me hear your great ideas for quick and easy meals!!!!  

Monday, December 7, 2009

Friend's Choice Awards

I'm always curious to get YOUR feedback and opinions on things I write about.  Over the past couple of days I asked the following questions to my friends on Facebook:

1) Has anyone ever had a Turducken? Did you like it better than a reg. turkey?  

People who have had Turducken like it and usually keep getting them every Thanksgiving.  Definitely recommended for your next big family gathering!!!! 

My family is getting ANOTHER Turducken for Christmas!  It was just that GOOD! :) 

2) Wines you would recommend?

  • Naked Mountain Chardonnay (VA wine)
  • Schug chardonnay (Sonoma CA-total wine usually has it)
  • Tarara Wild River Red wine (VA)
  • Wintergreen Winery Mill Hill Apple (VA)
  • Any wine by Ledson winery (Sonoma CA- prob online only)
  • Delfosse Winery Petit Manseng or Viognier Reserve (VA)
  • Mountain Cove Vineyards Sky Line Rose (VA) 

3) What ways do you incorporate exercise into your daily routine--esp if you can't make it to the gym that day?

Right when you get home change and go for a run and/or take your dog(s) running.  That way you get in your workout before you get too comfortable being at home.


Clean the house and carry heavy things up and down the stairs.

4) What classes at the gym would you recommend?  

Body pump, Cycling, and Abs classes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Importance of Vitamin D3

As everyone knows, Americans work too hard and vacation too little, and as a result of this we are extremely unhealthy and lack essential vitamins and minerals.  One vitamin that most all Americans are deficient in is Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is not present in many foods and even though food companies have fortified some foods with extra vitamin D, the fortified vitamin is usually D2, a cheaper, synthetic version of vitamin D, NOT the natural D3 found in wild caught Salmon, sardines, and mackerel.  Vitamin D is extremely important for promoting calcium absorption in your body.  Without enough vitamin D, our body does not absorb enough calcium resulting in osteoporosis, brittle bones, and stunted bone growth.  Vitamin D also helps maintain a strong immune system and reduces inflammation, thus essential for cold and flu season.

The need for vitamin D is essential for a healthy body and immune system, so here are somethings you should do to increase your vitamin D deficiency and/or maintain a healthy immune system and body:

          1) Spend approx. 5-30 minutes out in the morning sunlight with 40% of your body exposed with no sunscreen on. (Vitamin D3 is an oil soluble steroid hormone that is created on the surface of your skin while you are out in the sun; however, the D3 takes 48 hours after sun exposure to absorb into your body.  This means that for 2 days after sun exposure you shouldn't wash the large parts of your body if you want to get the optimum benefit of D3 from sun "Sunshine can actually Decrease your Vitamin D levels." YOU CAN NOT GET VIT. D3 FROM THE TANNING BEDS.

          2) Eat fortified, enriched vitamin D foods (OJ, eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk, tuna etc...)

          3) Take a vitamin D3 supplement (make sure it is vitamin D3 NOT another form of vitamin D)--I recommend taking vitamin D3 in a LIQUID form because it absorbs in your body faster and better than pills.  Take 2000-5000 IU daily. **There have not been any studies that show excessive intakes of vitamin D cause harm to your body.  Each person is different so some might need more than the recommended dosage, while others need a little less.

Doing all of the above things will definitely help your immune system, bone strength, and overall health, so if you are feeling weak, worn down, and unhealthy then try incorporating more vitamin D3 into your diet and see if that doesn't help!  

Here is a link that will give you everything you ever wanted to know about vitamin D: Dietary Supplements.

Also check Dr Mercola's Website to find out about vitamin D3 and so much more!

I usually take the holistic, all-natural approach OVER any OTC medicines or man-made drugs, so if you are suffering from osteoporosis, brittle bones, or just the common cold, I suggest you start incorporating vitamin D3 into your diet before starting any medicines.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Wines

Meals would not be complete without the accompaniment of a good glass of wine.  I know my favorites will be on the Thanksgiving table this year. Below are some old time favorites along with some new ones I tried over the holidays.  The below wines should be within most everyone's price range.  Here's a toast to you and me!

Red Favorites:

  • 2007 Trentatre Rosso (TJ's @ $6.99)- this wine is a mixture of 33.3% Cabernet, 33.3% Merlot, and 33.4% Montepulciano, hence the name!  I usually always pair my reds with red foods, but this one is just FABULOUS with or without food!
  • 2006 Tres PinosTierra Roja (TJ's @ $4.99)- very berry, light tannins and very good by itself.  This is one of my most favorite wines at TJ's.
  • 2006 Vintjs Cabernet Sauvignon (TJ's @ $4.99)- Black cherries and plum flavor with a slight spice.
  • Parados Winemaker's Select Red (WF @ $5.99)- this wine is a mixture of 40% Sangiovese, 20% Malbec, and 40% Tempranillo. Berry flavors that go down flavorful and continue to leave a superb after taste!
  • 2008 Menage a Trois Red (Total Wine @ $8.99)

White Favorites:

  • 2008 Panilonco Chardonnay/Viognier (TJ's @ $4.99)- this is a great balanced wine that has the citrus and dry flavors of the chardonnay and the very light sweetness of the viognier.  Very easy drinking wine with or without food.
  • 2008 Contadino Pinot Grigio (TJ's @ $4.99)- sparkling pinot grigio. Very light with citrus
  • 2008 Parados Chardonnay (WF @ $5.99)- pear and apple flavors with a very light oak flavor. 
With dessert my parents opened their bottle of 2006 Shafer Firebreak dessert wine.  This dessert wine is fantastic, but sadly can not be purchased anywhere but the Shafer winery in Napa Valley, CA. The dessert wine is made up of 100% cabernet sauvignon and smells like sweet berries and plum.  It hits the tongue and immediately you get a spicy kick that fills your mouth with berries and plum flavors.  This dessert wine is sweet, but the alcohol content makes this wine more of a wine than a pure sugary dessert port.  Because of the balance of flavors it makes this wine extremely appealing to all palates.  

As far as the TURDUCKEN and the caramelized mashed potatoes recipe go, the recipes turned out amazing.  I put a tiny bite more half and half in the recipe than it called for, so the mashed potatoes turned out slightly more watery than expected, but they tasted GREAT and made an excellent, thick dressing for the turkey and the turducken!  The Truducken was amazing, juicy and full of spicy Cajun flavors. I def recommend a TURDUCKEN more than a regular Thanksgiving turkey.  The flavor and tenderness of the turducken was beyond the tenderness of a normal Thanksgiving turkey.  Even if you marinate a turkey for days, it will not turn out with the flavor that the TURDUCKEN had!!

I also made spinach artichoke dip and it was healthier than normal.  I used just a little bit of mayo and more sour cream and tons of spinach and artichokes.  It was fantastic and better for you than normal spinach/artichoke dip.

Pictures of our Turducken!!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Body Heart-Pumpin'

As we all know eating right is about 80% of your fight to get fit and healthy and the other 20% is working out!  Working out is a crucial part in preventing disease and injury because it keeps your heart healthy, your body fat in check, your bones strong, and your energy level high!  Factoring in ALL of these benefits leads me to one class that will kick your butt, but will be SOOOO worth it in the end.  The class is called Body Pump! This class mixes cardio with weight lifting.  We start off each class with a light warm up and then move into squats that make your legs shake (and this is just the beginning of the 1 hr. class).  After squats we move into arms and then back to legs with the excruciating leg lunge on the stepper.  By this time your legs are shaking so badly that it is hard to balance, but the instructor pushes you through regardless of how tired you are getting.  We then move onto triceps and biceps, shoulders, and back!  We end the class with push-ups and crunches.  By the end of the hour you feel full of energy and wide awake, but already feeling the tiredness of your muscles!

After hearing this description you are probably doubting that you can even make it through the entire hour; however, this is only my second time taking this class and I have made it through each time.  Yes, I am sore for about 4 days after-wards, but it is well worth it!   On the other hand, you might know you can get through the hour class but you just don't enjoy class sessions.  Well my friend, I thought I hated classes too and thought I would get a better work out on my own.  I used to find myself going through the same ol' boring routine everyday and never really getting a good workout in the gym.  That is when I realized that I need the motivation of a class instructor to push me and get me to where I want to be!!

If you belong to a gym I would advise you try out a few classes and see what you think.  They are fun and keep you moving, when otherwise you would quit.  My two favorite classes are Zumba and Body Pump.  Zumba is a dance class that mixes Latin and contemporary dance moves into a full hour of cardio.  It finally makes working out for a whole hour fun!!!

So if you are looking at trying to get into shape start by cutting down on your portions and adding a little bit of a work out to your daily routine.  Working out does not mean going to the gym.

Working out could include any or all of the following:
    1) taking the stairs instead of the elevator
    2) parking your car the farthest away from the store as possible
    3) walking laps around the mall when the weather isn't nice
    4) doing crunches/sit-ups/lunges in front of the TV
    5) brush your teeth standing on one leg
    6) walk your dog(s) for 30 mins.
    7) kick your legs back and forth while you sit at your computer
    8) curl milk jugs or dumb bells at home
            .........and so many more.

There are many ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
So jump start a healthy lifestyle TODAY!!!! 

What are some ways you incorporate exercise into your daily routine?

What are some tricks you have for cutting back on how much you eat?

What are some fun classes you have taken at your local gym that you would recommend to others?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Beginning of Blogging

FOOD, FOOD, FOOD. I feel like as Americans we live day by day by asking ourselves, "So what is for dinner?", or "Where are we going to eat tonight?", or "When is our next meal?" I know that in my family this is definitely the case at home and on vacation. We live for the next meal. My husband and I especially have a deep love for food. We try to incorporate our healthy, organic, all natural, no preservative lifestyle into our daily meals and I have to say that we do a pretty good job of it (not perfect, but who is)! My husband is an amazing chef and I will be getting ideas from him as well. However, my focus is not just on recipes, but on products you can find at Trader Joe's (TJs) and Whole Foods (WF). I got this idea one day when I started researching WF and TJ's products online. I realized that foods, wines, ingredients etc... were not readily available, so that is where I got the idea to blog all the healthy foods, tasty wines, and amazing recipes on my own personal blog!!

Since we are two days away from Thanksgiving, I will start by talking about the traditional and non-traditional dishes we will be serving at our Thanksgiving dinner. This year my mother discovered something new and exciting and we are all ready to dig into the NEW Turducken. Now, I am sure you are all wondering what the heck a Turducken is, so I will tell you. It started in Louisiana and then spread throughout the deep South. Being born and raised in Georgia, I am very eager to try this turkey, stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken--Turducken. You can read more about the history here: Turducken Wikipedia . I can't wait to write the reviews on how it tastes, but I can only imagine that the fats from the duck are going to make the whole thing tender and very juicy, not to mention all the spice rub! As far as the other dishes go, we are going to have my grandmother's cornbread dressing, green beans, sweet potato souffle, chocolate pecan pie, ice cream, caramelized mashed potatoes (a new recipe I am eager to try), and more.

What are some traditional and non-traditional things ya'll have on your Thanksgiving table?  I want to hear all about them!

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Mashed Potato Recipe

As I set out to gather ideas, ingredients, products and more, I look forward to my next post and hearing from all of you!

Let me know your thoughts on the Turducken and if anyone has ever had one before!