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Non Organic vs. Organic Meat

5 Jul

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Take a walk down any “natural” or “organic” food aisle at your local grocery store, and you’ll see tons of “organic” foods choices: from produce, to cereals, to chips, to yogurts and even crackers. These choices can be both overwhelming and expensive, as organic foods generally cost more. We don’t eat everything organic but there are certain things that are definitely worth making the cross over for. One of the things we don’t mind spending that extra bit of money on is organic meat! There is a great difference in the practices of organic and non-organic farmers which leads to a difference in the quality and nutrition between organic and non-organic meat. This post will explain why it may be worth it to spend a little more to invest in your body.

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The above photo shows the difference between an organic chicken (on the right) and a non-organic chicken on the left.

Animals that are raised organic are not fed animal by-products and are not given growth hormones or antibiotics. Instead they are fed natural ingredients like grass.

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Non-organic animals are given/fed animal by-products, growth hormones and antibiotics– each of which can causes serious problems if consumed. In some cases, even sewage is allowed to be fed to non-organic livestock – ew! Remember that saying you are what you eat? Keep that in mind when selecting your meat (and everything you eat for that matter J) If you are eating a cut of beef and that cow was given these types of things, then you are consuming them as well.

Animal by-products

It is often cheaper for farmers to feed their non-organic livestock animal by-products. After an animal has been slaughtered, all the inedible parts (feet, brains, lungs, etc…) are kept and reprocessed into food for non-organic livestock. This helps fatten up the animals and get them to slaughter quicker. Cannibalism much??! This method has contributed to outbreaks of Mad Cow disease (BSE) and obviously isn’t great for the animals.

Growth hormones

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To help animals grow quicker and be ready for slaughter sooner, farmers give their livestock growth hormones such as steroids. As you know, steroids are bad…so if the animal you are eating was given steroids, you are now consuming them as well. This creates negative health effects on humans. Growth hormones have been linked to the development of cancer and reproductive problems.

Antibiotics

Non-organically raised animals are given high levels of antibiotics as a preventative measure to ensure the animals stay healthy up until slaughter. The problem is, these antibiotics stay in the meat meaning we consume them as well. When we consume these antibiotics regularly, our bodies get used to them. So, when we get sick, antibiotics can become ineffective because our bodies have adapted to them already.

The following table shows what’s permitted to be fed to non-organic livestock in the United States.

What’s in American meat?

Dairy cows antibiotics, pig & chicken byproducts, hormones (for growth), pesticides, sewage sludge
Beef cows antibiotics, pig & chicken byproducts, steroids, hormones, pesticides, sewage sludge
Pigs antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, arsenic-based drugs (growth hormones are prohibited)
Broiler chickens antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, arsenic-based drugs (growth hormones are prohibited)
Egg laying hens antibiotics, animal byproducts, pesticides, sewage sludge, arsenic-based drugs

Source: Meat, dairy, and eggs buying guide

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We not only recommend making the cross over to organic meat because of what the animals are fed but also because of how they are treated. Organic raised livestock are treated in a more human way. They are given more room to roam and graze, meaning they get exercise which contributes to healthier animals. Think about it, if they are able to roam, then they will be leaner. And if you want to be lean, you should be eating lean meat, right?! Factory farms that raise non organic livestock treat the animals in the opposite way. Their main goal is to produce as much meat as possible with minimal cost. As a result, the animals are subject to inhuman conditions. They are not given the opportunity to move around and often don’t even see the light of day. In fact in non-organic factory chicken farms the chickens are often jammed into a large pen with no room for movement and no natural light is let in. Often times they are not even able to physically move because they are so fat that their legs can no longer support their body weight.

* It is important to note that some organic farms may only do the minimal to meet the requirements of becoming organic, but they are still better than the alternative.

Eating organic can definitely be expensive. But if you are willing to spend a little extra money every week on an organic item, we highly recommend that that item be meat. Organic meat is void of many toxins which can lead to health problems, so we feel that it is worth paying a bit more to really make an investment in your own health!

S & L

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish – The most nutritious types of fish

4 Jul

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When it comes to eating clean, many people have the idea that the only “clean” sources of protein are chicken and turkey – people forget about all of the delicious and nutrient-dense kinds of fish that are available to us.

Many consider fish to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Fish is high in protein, which is great for building muscle and has Omega-3s fats, which is great for the health of the brain and heart and overall health. Fish can also raise good cholesterol, and lower “bad” cholesterol.

Salmon

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For most people, fish = salmon. Salmon is widely consumed and can be cooked in a variety of ways (nothing beats grilled salmon on the BBQ…). Wild (Pacific or Alaskan) Salmon is the most nutritious and has the best quality of Omega fats. Farmed (Atlantic) Salmon is less nutritious and has lower quality fats.

Per 112g

Calories: 170

Protein: 24g

Fat: 8g

Salmon is great, but there are so many more awesome types of fish out there, let’s take a look at some!

Herring

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Herring is a smaller fish that is loaded with Omega-3s as well as Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.

Per112g

Calories: 180

Protein:20g

Fat:12g

Flounder

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Flounder can be found in most supermarkets. It’s a whitefish that is low in fat and is both cheap and easy to cook! It is also a good source of Selenium.

Per 112g

Calories: 104

Protein: 20g

Fat: 0g

Mackerel

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Mackerel has more than twice the amount of Omega-3s per serving compared to Salmon. It is also high in Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Phosphorus.

Per 112g

Calories: 230

Protein:21g

Fat:16g

Snapper

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Snapper is great for building lean muscle. It is high in protein and low in fat. It is also a great source of Selenium. Plus it’s delicious!

Per 218g

Calories: 218

Protein: 45g

Fat: 3g

Halibut

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Halibut is another white fish that is loaded with protein, which makes it great for building muscle.

Per 204g

Calories: 224g

Protein 42g

Fat: 5g

Striped bass

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Striped Bass is a great source of Omega-3s. It is actually better to buy farmed striped bass due to the fact that wild striped bass contains more pesticides.

Per 159g

Calories: 154

Protein: 28g

Fat: 4g

As you can see fish are extremely nutritious, and there are tons of great recipes if you are worried about that fishy taste. I highly recommend adding fish into your meat protein repertoire! Stay tuned for some good fish recipes!

S

Beware of “Fat Free” Foods

20 Jun

Fat-Free Food

We have written about how important it is to read food labels when trying to make healthy choices in the supermarket. One thing you will see often listed on food labels is “fat free”, “low fat” and “reduced fat”.  Now the question is; do these foods fall into the healthier choice category? If you want to know the answer – keep reading!

First of all it’s important to note that food companies are allowed to label foods as “fat free” or “reduced fat” so long as the actual number is lower than a pre-determined number of grams per servicing. So when you see those types of labels you need to understand what they really mean.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

“Free of fat food contains less than 0.5 g of fat per serving of stated size and per reference amount.

… Low in fat food contains 3 g or less of fat per serving of stated size and per reference amount.”

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Often times we see these labels and automatically think that these products are healthier choices than the full fat ones. Unfortunately that’s not really the case. Think about it, if all the fat is removed from something, a lot of the taste of the product will be removed along with it. So what do food manufacturers do to compensate? They add other ingredients like sugar, flour, thickeners and salt. These ingredients add the flavour back in, while boosting the calorie count at the same time. So sure, maybe that “low fat” salad dressing you have in your cart has less fat than the regular one, but it also probably has more crap in it too and just as many, if not more calories than the regular version.

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Fat free may sound like a healthy choice, but the reality is that your body needs fat. And it’s not so much the amount of fat you eat that’s important it’s the type of fat. Remember, there are good fats, and bad fats! When it comes to health you want need to consume good fats. Let’s quickly go over the difference between good fats and bad fats (for more info click here). Good fats are heart healthy such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They can be found in foods such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and fatty fish like tuna and salmon. These types of healthy fats also play a role in your body’s ability to absorb vitamins like A, D, E and K and they help lower bad cholesterol. Consuming good fats will increase your feeling of fullness and supply your body with necessary nutrients – so you definitely want to incorporate good fat into your daily diet.

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Bad fats are saturated fats found in animal products like beef, pork, butter and other full fat dairy products. As we talked about in a recent post, trans fats are another bad fat you absolutely want to steer clear of. They are found in hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils that you are often used in crackers, baked products, fast food and processed foods.

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So to answer the question I posed at the beginning…no, foods labeled as “fat free”, “reduced fat” or “low fat” are not always a healthier choice. It is important that you don’t make your decision to buy food products solely off these types of advertisements. You need to read the entire food label. Check to see what else has been added to the product to make up for the fat that was taken out. Check to see the calorie count and serving size and compare it against the full fat product. And remember, if you are avoiding processed and packaged foods, and making things like salad dressing from scratch, you wont have to worry about this at all J !

L

Making over Summer Calorie Bombs

19 Jun

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Summer is here…and with that comes a lot of events, gathering and traditions revolving around food! More often than not that food is not very healthy – but with a few small changes it could be healthier!

This post is going to hopefully help you defer some common summer calorie bombs by replacing them with healthier versions!

Hamburger

hamburger

A summer classic for sure, but if you are not careful hamburgers can be huge calorie bombs. They can be loaded with bad fat, pre-made patties are often high in sodium, condiments like ketchup are made with sugar and a white bun is just no good for you!  To give your hamburger a healthy makeover, opt for lean means like ground chicken or turkey for your patty. Make your own patties using healthy ingredients (include diced up veggies!) and minimal salt. Instead of a bun use a leafy green, Portobello mushrooms or eat it naked! If you really want a bun, go for a whole grain one, and you can even just have one bun on the bottom. For your sides go for grilled veggies, corn with no butter, salad with a light homemade dressing or sweet potato fries!

Popsicles

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On a hot summers day you may turn to a popsicle or freezy to beat the heat…the problem is they are both pretty much just made from sugar. Instead, make your own popsicles by blending a smoothie, pouring it into a popsicle or ice cube tray and freezing it. Looking for something cold , quenching and sweet? Opt for a homemade fruit salad!

Movie Popcorn

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Summer is the season when all the best movies come to theatres. We love popcorn, and movie popcorn is especially delicious, but it is loaded with calories! If you are going to a movie theatre let’s be realistic, there aren’t any healthy alternatives. So you pretty much have two healthier options: you either you pack a few healthy snacks and sneak them into the theatre…or you order a small popcorn with no butter! I know the large gets free refills and that’s extremely tempting, but by choosing a small it helps ensure you won’t be eating mindlessly, you will probably eat more slowly and the small size and absence of butter will drastically decrease the amount of calories.

Chips and Dip

Chips and Dip

You’re at a BBQ and are looking for a quick pre-BBQ snack for guests. You probably automatically think chips and dip. Obviously, chips are processed and most are fried, so they aren’t a healthy choice. Typical dips you buy in a grocery store are made with cheese, sour cream or mayo…aka bad fat! Instead, buy or prepare an assorted veggie platter.

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And for the dip, chose a hummus (there are so many great kinds!), or if you want a creamy dip make your own using 0% greek yogurt as the base and add fresh herbs and lemon juice to it.

Fruity Cocktails and Ice Cold Beer

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With summer comes summer cocktails and ice cold beer. Most of these types of cocktails are pretty much made up of alcohol and sugar which means they are extremely high in calories. So, if you are planning to enjoy a cocktail, make your own and be smart about the ingredients. Use less alcohol, with and choose ingredients with less  or no artificial sugar.  Instead of having 3 or 4, take your time and enjoy 1. After you have finished the one, switch to something else like spring or sparkling water.

Drinking a 2-4 of beer will not only get you hammered it will ruin your waistline. This summer instead of pounding back the beers why not try a different approach…have one or two! As beer is high in calories, go for a lower calorie of light beer. And who cares if your friends chirp you! You will have the last laugh when they are walking around with huge beer bellies and you are rocking 6-pack abs! 😉

S’mores

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If you are at a cottage or going camping, you will probably stop to pick up three things, graham crackers, milk chocolate and marshmallows. S’mores are a classic treat to enjoy while sitting around a camp fire. If you are looking for a healthier version here’s what we suggest…Marshmallows are sweet, which makes sense because they are pretty much just made of sugar. Out of all the components of a s’more, this is the one you want to throw out the window. Instead, go for a slice of pineapple (stay with us!). Slice up the pineapple and roast a slice over the coals of your camp fire. Then put a square of dark chocolate on one graham cracker and place the grilled pineapple on top of the chocolate. Voila – a healthier version of a s’more! And if you don’t like pineapple try another fruit like a banana- they go great with chocolate!

Summer is an awesome time of year when so many memories coming from being with family and friends are built. Of course you are going to indulge here and there over the summer – and that’s okay. Our goal with this post was to show you that there are healthier versions of summer classics that are just as tasty! If you are going to enjoy a summer classic and you know it’s a calorie bomb – watch your portions and maybe add a little something extra to your workout the next day ;).

S & L

The Truth About Trans Fatty Acids (Trans Fats)

10 Jun

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If you were to walk down the chip or cookie aisle at your local grocery store, you’d see many packages bragging about the fact that they are “trans fat-free”. In the last couple of years, there has been an all out attack on trans fats; from forcing food producers print the amounts of trans-fat on food labels, to restaurants claiming to be “trans fat-free” – there has been a strong movement to get rid of trans fats from the foods we eat. But why?

Today’s post is all about trans fat: how it’s made, which foods have it, and why it should never be consumed by any human being.

transFat-label

Small amounts of trans fats are found naturally in many kinds of animal meats. Because these are natural fats, they aren’t dangerous (just don’t go eating 3 pounds of bacon each day).

Food producers used to use lard and other solid sources of fat to add flavour to their products. However, as people started to speak out about the health problems caused by these fats, manufacturers moved to man-made substances: hydrogenated fats to replace the other fats. The problem is, the new hydrogenated fats are just as bad, if not worse than the older kind.

This dangerous fat comes from a lab… that’s rights a laboratory, where scientists have created a way to create trans fat, through the process of hydrogenation. Hydrogen atoms are added to liquid fats like vegetable oil to make them a solid, and remain solid at room temperature. The problem is, this process creates trans fatty acids (trans fats).

trans fat

Trans fats are dangerous. Eating trans fats, even in small amounts, can dramatically increase your chances of heart disease and increase levels bad cholesterol in your body.

So, which kinds of foods contain trans fat?

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The following foods are known for their trans fat content: margarine, crackers, cookies, doughnuts, baking mixes, chips, chocolate bars, many kinds of snack foods, fried foods and vegetable shortenings.

Many restaurants use hydrogenated oils to fry their foods, so watch out for anyhting fried: wings, french fries, chicken fingers and onion rings.

Despite the fact that a package of food may say “0% trans fat”, the only way to make sure the product doesn’t have ANY trans fats, is to make sure that partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening isn’t  listed as any ingredient. Food manufacturers can be sneaky, so be prudent!

Health Benefits of Leafy Greens

4 Jun

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Eating leafy greens regularly is really beneficial to improve your overall health. These types of vegetables have fiber, vitamins, minerals and plant based substances that may help protect you against diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. They will also help you maintain healthy hair, skin, teeth and bones!

Here are 4 of our favorite leafy greens!

Kale

a culinary kale

Kale is an excellent source of vitamin A, which improves immunity and is good for your bones and teeth. Kale also has Vitamin K which helps prevent blood clotting and is an antioxidant. It also has a good amount of vitamin C, calcium, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and supplies folate, which helps fetal development, increases the production of red blood cells, helps fight depression and is good for the heart. Kale also has potassium, which has a number of benefits including lowering blood pressure and improving brain function. Kale is a high quality carb and is very low in calories which means it is a good addition to weight loss plans. Basically kale should be on everyone’s grocery list!

Spinach

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You’ve seen what spinach did for Popeye right?? That should be reason enough to eat it – but in case it’s not, here are a few others. Spinach is extremely nutrient dense. It is a good source of antioxidants like vitamin C, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which is great for eye sight. It also contains a high amount of potassium and vitamin K.  Need more iron in your diet? Have no fear, spinach has iron as well!

Swiss Chard

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Swiss chard is a good source of antioxidants, vitamins A, C & E .Vitamin A is an antioxidant, Vitamin C helps improve immunity, and vitamin E is good for the health of both the skin and hair. Beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in swiss chard. It also contains minerals such as potassium and magnesium. Magnesium is good for bone health and helps prevent cardiovascular disease.

Collard Greens

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This leafy vegetable is similar in nutrition to kale but collards however have a chewier texture. They are a good source of beta-carotene and vitamin K. They also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which benefit both vision and your eyes.

These greens are all super nutritious and can be used in so many different ways. For example you can use kale and spinach in salads, you can bake kale to make chips, you can stuff a chicken breast with spinach and bake it and you can use swiss chard and collard as a wrap instead of a tortilla or bread. We highly recommend that if leafy greens are not part of your regular eating plan, you incorporate them!

S & L

Cheating Yourself

17 May

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People often make fitness and health “promises” to themselves and then for one reason or another don’t stick to them. They then come up with all types of excuses…the problem with this is the only person who is being cheated is YOU.

By skipping your planned workout, or ordering a pizza for dinner because you “were good all and barely ate” you are only hurting your own body and affecting your own health.

You are worth more – so throw away the excuses and don’t cheat yourself out of good health!

– S & L