Tag Archives: organic

Lust v. Must: Weekend Detox

Tons of bloggers make lists of their “lust” items and their “must” items.  Well this weekend, I have a “must.”  I need to detox, both mentally and physically.  I’ve have an exhausting two weeks (which is probably fairly evident by the lack of posting on here) and I just need to clean out my system.  I don’t really have the luxury of going on a spa retreat, that would be a “lust” so here’s a few things I’m planning on doing this weekend to put my body back on track and get my mind ready for the upcoming week of midterms.

1. Drink lots of water.  With the cold weather, I have a really hard time drinking water and staying hydrated.  I’d so much rather have a hot tea or a coffee to battle the brisk cold, but I’ve been waking up really thirsty, and I feel like my brain and mood is suffering because of it.

Detox Water from Blogilates.com

This water looks delicious and fully of flavor, plus the cucumbers, oranges and lemons all help to eliminate toxins that have built up.  Blogilates explains more here about what each component of this detox water does to help clean out your system  The important thing to remember if you decide to make your own detox water is to buy the organic versions.  Pesticides and other chemicals build up on the peels of these fruits and vegetables and you’re trying to eliminate toxins, not put more in.

I’m planning to start each morning with two glasses of this water, before any coffee or breakfast, and to continue drinking it throughout the day.

2. Warm salads.  It’s cold, so I’ve been really drawn to comfort foods.  Asian stir-frys, although I’m making them at home, they’re still higher in sodium than I’d like and don’t leave me with a good, clean feelings.  Same goes for all of those substituted comfort foods like butternut squash mac and cheese or zucchini lasagna.  I just don’t end up with the same fresh feeling that I do have a beautiful, colorful fresh salad.

The issue I have though, is that it’s cold, so I don’t want salad.  The way I’m going to get around this is by making warm salads.  By using whole grains like quinoa, farro and bulgur as a base, you can throw just about any fruits, vegetables, legumes in that you want and end up with a super healthy, detoxing meal.

This Farro Salad with Winter Fruit Pistachios and Ginger from Foodandwine.com looks right up my alley!

3. Running and yoga.  Last weekend was gorgeous, at least by winter standards.  Sunny, slightly breezy and warm: the perfect conditions for outside exercise.  This week, after some unfortunate shin splints from trying to run in healed boots (high recommend never doing this) and some unfortunate weather (when is the snow going to stop!?) I just couldn’t get to the gym.  I’m planning to go for three four-mile runs this weekend, and do at least two sessions of at-home yoga to get myself back on track.

So, how do you detox when you’re just not feeling right?  I’d love to add more to my weekend detoxing!

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Organic Whole Milk Versus Organic Skim Milk

I grew up during the low-fat craze of the 1990s and beyond.  I was always told to avoid fat and to buy the low-fat yogurt, the low-fat milk, the low-fat cheese and the low-fat whatever else could have fat removed from it.  The craziest low-fat food that I ever saw was low-fat peanut butter that was basically peanut dust (last time I checked, that’s not peanut butter).

As the science behind nutrition has matured and we’re beginning to learn that there are a.) different kinds of fats and b.) our body responds to different fats in different ways.  For starters, we know that trans-fats, which used to be glorified and found in things like margarine and just about anything else, are actually terrible for you and can completely destroy your body’s circulatory system.  We also know that Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids are pretty great and help with all sorts of things like reducing an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s.  We also know that regulating the balance between Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-3 fatty acids is really important and that in recent years, our intake of Omega-6 is much much much higher than it should be.  In fact, the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids that most people consume is the exact opposite of what it should be: we should be consuming much more Omega-3 than Omega-6.

There’s a relatively new (to me) food movement that is built on finding the correct balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in plant oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil.  Omega-3 acids come from fish like mackerel, tuna, as well walnuts and flaxseed.  Recent research shows that Omega-3s are also found in milk, butter and yogurt, if they come from organic, grass-fed cows.  The problem is, in America at least, most of the meat we eat and the milk we drink comes from animals that were raised on grain diets, often involving soy and corn, and not grass-fed diets.

Research out of the University of Washington found that whole milk is actually much better for you than skim milk, but only if it comes from organically-raised, grass-fed cows.  The whole milk from these cows contains a substantially increased amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.  By comparison, cows that were raised on grain diets (such as corn) had much higher levels of Omega-6 in their milk.  Other research found that meat from cows that were raised on grain diets had higher levels of Omega-6 fatty acids than meat from cows that were raised on grass-fed diets.  Another really good example of “you are what you eat.”

So, it turns out that low-fat isn’t always best and that what’s important is what KIND of fat you’re eating.  It is important to be sure that you are watching the calories you consume from fat as fat does have a higher number of calories than carbohydrates and proteins.  The message I’m taking away from this, and of course this is highly individual, is that when I’m eating dairy, I’m going to avoid the low-fat, low-calorie option and instead opt for the organic-grass fed, full-fat option.

What do you think?  Have you heard any other research comparing Omega-3 and Omega-6?  Have you made any changes to incorporate more Omega-3s into your diet?

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Learning to Cook with Chicken Breasts

I’ve always hated boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  They tend to be dried out, unflavored and generally taste like sawdust, so usually I avoid them.  I recently discovered that I don’t hate all chicken though, despite thinking for awhile that I did.  Roasted chicken, chicken thighs, chicken legs, these are all good things.  Organic, farmers’ market chicken also happens to taste better than all other chicken (not exactly a surprise).  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts though?  Still at a loss of what to do with.

I was digging around the internet in an attempt to avoid studying for my Anatomy Lab Practical (let me tell you, if I never have to differentiate between leukocytes ever again, it will still be too soon) and found a couple of ideas for how to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts that don’t taste like sawdust.  Below are a few I found, but I’d really love to know if you have any recipes or ideas on how I can turn chicken breasts into my new favorite food!

How to Make Chicken Breasts in a Slow Cooker from Fifteen Spatulas

Photo: FifteenSpatulas.com

Lemon Chicken Breasts from Ina Garten

Photo: FoodNetwork.com

Parmesan Crusted Chicken from Martha Stewart

Photo: MarthaStewart.com

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Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

Look at this gorgeous roast chicken, don't you want to make one, too?

Look at this gorgeous roast chicken, don’t you want to make one, too?

Confession: I used to hate all chicken.  So much so, that I had completely ruled chicken out until I met my boyfriend.  Chicken that actually tastes good and doesn’t have a dry, saw-dust taste to it is very hard to find, and as a result, I’d just stopped eating it entirely.

About a year ago, my boyfriend decided that he was going to prove me wrong (as he is want to do) and make me a roasted chicken that was going to make me love chicken.  So we went to his co-op in Sacramento, picked out a beautiful, organic, happy meat chicken from Mary’s (read about them, they’re super good to their animals), and he went to town roasting the most beautiful chicken for me.  And, he proved me wrong.  So if you know anyone else who claims to hate chicken, (unless they’re a vegetarian) go ahead and make them this chicken.  See if they don’t change their mind.

Here’s what we used:

  • small, whole chicken
  • whole onion ( cut into quarters)
  • lemon (cut in half and zested)
  • lots of rosemary
  • olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped potatoes (we used purple and yukon, but use whatever you want)
  • carrots (cut into sticks)
  • parsnips (cut into sticks)

Here’s what we did:

  1. Prepare the chicken by removing the giblets and rinsing.  Pat dry.
  2. Stuff the cavity with half of the onion, and half of the lemon.
  3. Prepare a mixture with the lemon zest, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper. Rub this mixture onto the outside of the chicken.
  4. The, truss the chicken.  This involves tying the legs together and then tucking the wings under the chicken (you can click here for better instructions).
  5. Then place the rest of the onion (separate the different layers), the potatoes the carrots and parsnips in the bottom of a cast iron dutch oven.  Squeeze the lemon juice from the second half of the lemon over the vegetables and add in rosemary (if you have any leftover) and salt and pepper.
  6. Place a roasting tray on top of the cast iron pan (this is obviously in lieu of using a roasting sheet, if you have one of those, use that), and put the chicken on top of the tray.
  7. Bake the chicken at 350 degrees for 20 minutes per pound of chicken.
  8. Once the chicken is fully cooked, take it out of the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
  9. Carve and enjoy!
Chicken stuffed with rosemary, onion and lemon.

Chicken stuffed with rosemary, onion and lemon.

Mixture of rosemary, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic.

Mixture of rosemary, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic.

Spice mixture rubbed on the chicken.

Spice mixture rubbed on the chicken.

Root vegetables with rosemary, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Root vegetables with rosemary, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Trussed Chicken on top of our makeshift roasting pan.

Trussed Chicken on top of our makeshift roasting pan.

A perfect golden-brown chicken after roasting.

A perfect golden-brown chicken after roasting.

Carved chicken with roasted vegetables.

We ate our chicken with an Oktoberfest from Great Lakes Brewing Co.  It's a little early for Oktoberfest, but it's hard not to enjoy any beer from Great Lakes Brewing Co. at any time of the year.

We ate our chicken with an Oktoberfest from Great Lakes Brewing Co. It’s a little early for Oktoberfest, but it’s hard not to enjoy any beer from Great Lakes Brewing Co. at any time of the year.

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