Tag Archives: healthy grocery shopping

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

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

The worst foods parents feed their kids

21 Mar

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We are not parents-but we have both worked with children and therefore seen the type of food that gets sent with them to school in their lunch boxes. It makes us so sad to see children overweight or obese because they are not the ones going to the grocery store and buying the food, they are not the ones preparing the meals and they are not the ones aware of the consequences of living an unhealthy, inactive life.

There are obvious healthy foods (like fruits and vegetables) and there are also obvious unhealthy foods (like a Big Mac and fries). From what we have seen and experienced, it seems that sometimes part of the problem is that people think certain foods are healthy (or healthier than they actually are), but in reality they have little to no actual nutritional value. So, for this post we have put our heads together and come up with our own list of some of the worst, most unhealthy, foods we have seen parents feed their kids for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

For Breakfast….

Sugary Breakfast Cereals

Cereal

Wow! That box of cereal has now has twice as much fiber! It must be healthy right? Wrong. So many kids cereals advertise how they have tons of vitamins and minerals…but the truth is because they contain so much sugar and other processed ingredients the little nutritional value they do offer is squashed. We know that kids love cereal, and we also know that getting kids up in the morning, dressed, fed and out the door on time can be challenge. So, if you are sticking with cereal, try and pick the healthiest ones out of the bunch. Read the nutritional labels to see how much fiber is really in that cereal, because “twice as much” when there was very little to begin with doesn’t count for much. Try and pick ones with at least 3 grams of fiber and very little sugar. Another great quick, easy and healthy option is oatmeal. You can buy plain oats, toss them in a bowl with cinnamon, flax seeds, berries and nuts and add hot water.

Frozen Waffles

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Foods like frozen waffles are filled with preservatives to allow the product to be stored for a veeerrryyy long time. The fact that you can keep a box of ego waffles in your freezer for over a year should be a good indication that there are things in there that shouldn’t go in your child’s body. They are also loaded with sugar and other chemicals. But it’s not just about what’s already in your frozen waffles-you also need to consider that sugary syrup you are letting your kids drench them with. As an alternative, we recommend making homemade pancakes instead. You can choose healthier ingredients, and instead of the sugary syrup, let your kids choose from different berries as a healthy topping.

Packaged “Breakfast” Pastries

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Breakfast pastries like Toaster Strudels and Pop Tarts may be a crowd pleaser in your home, but if you are feeding them to your kids for breakfast, you may as well go to Timmies and buy them a donut. If your children enjoy baked goods for breakfast there are many better, healthier options. For example, on the weekend make a batch of healthy muffins using ingredients like oats, whole grain or almond flour, egg whites, apple sauce, ground flax seed and berries (to name a few!). If you want to add sweetness, ditch the white sugar and replace it with honey or organic maple syrup (sorry, no Aunt Jemima). You can make a dozen and keep them in the freezer as a quick and healthy breakfast option-your kids never even need to know they are good for them!

For Lunch …

Pre-Packaged Lunches

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(doesn’t this look delicious?…)

You know what we mean by pre-packaged lunches right? The kits that come with processed meat, cheese and crackers? Now they even have make your own pizzas.  In all honesty, these types of lunches disgust us, and we can’t imagine why so many parents think this is a good option to send their kids to school with –other than the fact they just have to take it from the fridge and put it in a lunch bag…Everything in them is processed, they are high in fat, sodium and low in fiber, vitamins and minerals. You are better off giving your kids real food!

Sandwiches on White Bread

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We have written before about why white bread is no good, but to sum it up-it has no nutritional value. Now throw in some processed meat, mayo and pre-sliced cheese and you’ve just made your kid an unhealthy, nutritionally deficient lunch. Don’t get us wrong, sandwiches are a great lunch option, especially for kids. But there are good things to use when making them and bad things. Some good things are whole grain bread, wraps or pita for fiber, vegetables like spinach, tomatoes and cucumber for vitamins and minerals and hummus or grilled chicken for protein.

Juice Boxes

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These fruit juices may seem like a healthy option to give to children, but the reality is that they are packed with sugar and most of them lack fiber and vitamins since they don’t really contain much real juice. An alternative is to either blend up real fruits (mixed with 0% greek yogurt, ice and water) to make a smoothie, or send your kids to school with a bottle of water instead.

As Snacks…

“Fruit” Snacks

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These types of snacks seem to be quite popular, but in reality they are pretty much candy masked as a health food. Chances are they don’t even contain and real fruit…a better option is to feed your children actual fruit!

Granola Bars

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Granola bars are another popular snack for kids, and are often mistaken for being a healthy food. Well, we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but store bought granola bars are not a healthy snack. They are loaded with sugar, and contain high fructose syrup and artificial dyes. That, plus the fact that most of them have ingredients like mini chocolate chips, marshmallows and candy. You may as well send your kids to school with a chocolate bar or a few cookies. If your kids enjoy granola bars, you can make them homemade ones with natural ingredients!

Crackers

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Although crackers are a quick snack (and some are advertised as being healthy), they are processed and filled with white flour, preservatives and unhealthy oils. Sure they will satisfy a child’s immediate hunger, but they will not leave them full. If your kids like to eat crunchy things, give them vegetables like carrots or broccoli as a snack instead. You can even throw in some hummus to use as a dip.

For Dinner…

Packaged Mac and Cheese

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Kraft Dinners macaroni and cheese is often a fan favorite. We are not going to lie and say we have never enjoyed a bowl of KD, but that was when we were young and dumb! Now we know better J and would never put that crap in our bodies. Kids should never put KD in their bodies either.

First of all, KD is loaded with simple, refined carbs which offer no nutritional benefit. KD is also loaded with sodium to increase shelf life and is high in fat. Let’s take a second and think… what exactly is Kraft Dinner? Well, it’s processed and nutrition-less noodles, served with a bright orange, processed (and chemical filled) “cheese” sauce. The fact that KD is so bright that it looks like a radioactive substance should scare people away! Not to mention, when people prepare it they add in 2% milk and butter.

Frozen Dinners

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Let’s expand this one to not only include typical frozen dinners, but frozen dinner foods like pizza, pogos, porgies, fries and anything else that fits the category. All of these types of frozen dinners are loaded with preservatives (that’s why they last so long!) and they are high in fat and sodium.

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If you are feeding your kids these types of foods for dinner on a regular basis, you are setting them up for rapid weight gain and health problems. It is important not to forget that foods can be made in your own kitchen and don’t need to come out of a package. If you turn to these types of frozen meals out of convenience, then make dishes like soups, and sauces ahead of time and freeze them for quick and easy access.

Chicken Fingers/Nuggets

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Frozen chicken fingers are often an easy fall back for parents – They are easy to make and can be served with pretty much anything. However, serving these overly-processed pieces of crap to kids has absolutely no nutritional value for them. Many times the meat in these nuggets is leftover and low in quality. Take Janes pub style chicken fingers.

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These things are precooked and lathered in processed bread crumbs. They contain a number of dangerous ingredients including sugar and several processed additives. Janes chicken fingers are also loaded with fat (and not the good kind). One serving (3 strips) has nearly 25% of the recommended value for fat. Chicken fingers are also high in sodium to help increase flavour and to preserve them. Although they are easy, there are NO nutritional benefits to serving chicken fingers. In fact, because of their fat content and numerous unhealthy ingredients, frozen chicken nuggets and fingers should be avoided! Instead, make your own! Take a skinless, boneless chicken breast and bake it. If you want to add a “bread” crumb coating, cover the chicken with oats or almond flour, and use an egg white to make it stick.

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Living a healthy and active lifestyle is not only for adults, it is important for people of all ages. We are firm believers that children should have good, positive role models when it comes to health and fitness so they grow up knowing the benefits of living a clean and active life. It doesn’t need to be a constant discussion in your house, but parents set the example, so shouldn’t that example be one that will teach them to live healthy and enjoy a high quality of life? By feeding kids the kind of junk we mentioned in today’s post, more damage is being done than good. We encourage parents (and non-parents!) to take a good look through their pantries, fridges and freezers and really think about what you are letting your children and yourself put into your bodies. There are so many reasons why ensuring kids are receiving proper nutrition is important, so stay tuned for a post dedicated to those reason!

S & L

Grocery Shopping Tips

16 Oct

Grocery shopping can be a challenging task, especially if you are shopping for multiple people. Here are a few tricks that we use to ensure we are buying the healthiest foods possible!


1. Plan ahead

If you have been reading our posts, you may have noticed that we are big fans of planning ahead. We plan out all our meals for the week ahead of time so that when we hit the grocery store we know exactly what ingredients we need for all our meals and snacks for the week. If you plan ahead you are putting thought into each meal, so chances are you are going to be planning healthier meals. When you go to the grocery store, don’t stray from your list! This will not only help save you money, but it will also ensure you are not going home and stocking your fridge and pantry with unhealthy foods – out of sight, out of mind right?!

2. Don’t grocery shop hungry

This is a mistake I am sure we have all made. We go to the grocery store hungry and walk away with tons of extra things that we don’t really need – and normally those things are in packages and are not nutritious. Our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs, so do yourself a favour, and eat BEFORE you hit the store!

3.  Stick to the outside of the store
If you take a second to look at the layout of a grocery store, you will notice that the meats are usually at the back and produce is at one end of the store. What we aim to do is to do the bulk of our shopping on the outside of the store. In the isles is where a lot of the not-so healthy packaged foods are. Of course there are always exceptions (e.g. crushed tomatoes or chickpeas) – but if you are doing the majority of your shopping on the outside of the store, you are probably doing a healthier shop.

4. Buy one ingredient foods
This is something that was pointed out to us by Mr. Tony Horton himself. Try and stick to one ingredient foods. What ingredients are in blueberries? Blueberries! What ingredients are in Kale? Kale! What ingredients are in Wild Salmon? Salmon! If you are buying one ingredient foods you are buying healthy foods! And where are these foods located? One the outside of the store just like tip #3 mentions! Speaking of one ingredient foods…this is leads us into tip #5!

5. Read Labels
We try and stay away from anything packaged because for the most part – packaged = processed and processed = sugar, preservatives and chemicals = bad for you! However, there are some things that we do buy that come in packages for example, Greek Yogurt. If you are buying packaged foods, pick them up before you put them in your cart and read the label, and check the ingredients. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, chances are it’s not a healthy choice. If sugar is listed as an ingredient (especially as one of the first ingredients) then it is not a healthy choice. If the label says the product is high in fat, sodium or sugar, chances are the food is not a healthy choice.

6. Take your time!
If you are rushing through your shop then you may forget some things on your list, not give yourself the time to read labels and you may be grabbing things you don’t really need, so try and give yourself enough time in the store to go a good, quality grocery shop!
These are all tricks that we use when we do our grocery shopping – we hope they work for you too!

 

 

S & L