Healthy Carbohydrates

I know in the past I’ve touched briefly on carbohydrates, one of the three macronutrients – today I wanted to take a deeper dive into healthy carb sources.

I bet all of us have heard somebody say that they are going on a low-carb or even no-carb diet. I always shake my head at this because not all carbohydrates are created equal! Now, I wouldn’t recommend processed carb sources such as bread, cakes, cookies, etc. but all fruits and vegetables have carbs, so they aren’t ALL bad.

I recently started working with Working Against Gravity and have had to up my carbohydrate intake quite a bit. I was definitely nervous about this at first since we have been taught that carbs cause gain weight but they are your body’s go-to source of fuel and I have been feeling pretty good with this diet change. Especially for those of us doing CrossFit workouts, our bodies will utilize this macronutrient first. We want to make sure that we have plenty of gas in the tank for go-time and they can also be used as a great recovery fuel source!

Here are some of the healthy carbohydrate sources that I have been enjoying lately:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Red rose potatoes
  • Plantains
  • Corn tortillas (check ingredients!)
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots

What are your favorite carbohydrate sources?!

How to Grocery Shop on a Budget

Today I’d like to share my tips for grocery shopping on a budget. These are the tricks I’ve been using for years to help me keep my weekly grocery bill low.

  1. Always make a list. Planning ahead and sticking to your list ensures that you don’t get tempted by everything in the store. When I decide what I’m going to make for the week I always check what’s on sale and try to plan my recipes around those items which also saves dollars. An added bonus is that making a list saves me time once I’m actually in the store so that I just get exactly what I need and get out rather than aimlessly wondering around the store.
  2. Shop the perimeter of the store. Most grocery stores are set up to have produce and meats around the outside and packaged/processed foods in the middle. Sticking to primarily buying fruits, vegetables, and meat has saved me a ton of money over the years. Not only is produce typically cheaper but you can buy exactly how much you actually need whereas a lot of packaged foods are larger and can be wasted.
  3. Never shop hungry. This might seem silly but this one is huge! Always try to plan your grocery store trips for a time after you’ve just eaten a meal or snack. If you’re hungry while shopping you’re more inclined to start picking up random stuff that you don’t really need so always go with something in your stomach.

I hope you find these tricks useful the next time you make a grocery run!

My most recent grocery haul – I got all of this for $52!

Organic Series Part 3 – What to Eat

Now that we’ve covered what organic is and what the benefits of choosing organic are today we are going to talk about exactly which foods and organic products will get you the most bang for your buck.

Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) updates their ‘Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce’ which ranks pesticide contamination of 48 popular fruits and vegetables. The guide is based on results of more than 35,200 samples of produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration.

The EWG provides two guides, the ‘Dirty Dozen‘ which has twelve of the most pesticide laden produce and the ‘Clean Fifteen‘ which lists the produce with the least amount of pesticides. Again, choosing to eat ALL organic foods can be costly, so if there are produce items that are staples for you that show up on the Dirty Dozen list, I’d try to make the switch to buying the organic version of those favorites.

Beyond just produce, I really like this article that talks about the most important foods to buy organic, some of it overlaps with the EWG guides, but it covers a bit more. It goes into detail about why the organic version of these nine foods should be eaten:

  1. Baby Foods
  2. Full-Fat Dairy
  3. Beef
  4. Chicken
  5. Eggs
  6. Leafy Greens
  7. Berries
  8. Anything on the Dirty Dozen that’s a staple
  9. Apples

I hope this series has been helpful. Let me know at the gym which organic foods you are buying and loving!

Organic Series Part 2 – Benefits

Last week I talked what organic means. Today we are going to dive into the benefits of opting for organic foods.

Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat.  These pesticides have been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers, and pregnant women, babies, and fetus’ are especially susceptible to issues related to being exposed to pesticides.

Organic food is often fresher. Organic foods don’t contain as many preservatives that make them last longer and are often produced on smaller farms near where they are sold. I personally have noticed a difference in taste when buying organic products, especially meat. *Choose local when you can, this helps boost our local economy by having more money go directly to local farmers!

Organic farming is better for the environment. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Farming without pesticides is also better for nearby birds and animals as well as people who live close to farms.

Organic products are richer in certain nutrients. Because of the way they are grown/produced, many organic products retain more of their nutrient quality than their conventional counterparts.

Organic food is GMO-free. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants whose DNA has been altered in ways that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding, most commonly in order to be resistant to pesticides or produce an insecticide. There is controversy over whether or not GMOs pose a health risk, so I prefer to avoid them where possible..

I want to wrap this up by saying that if you are not in position financially to buy all organic produce and meat, don’t worry about it! Organic foods definitely come with a higher price tag, and eating conventional fruits and vegetables is definitely better than nothing. That being said, next week I am going to talk about specific foods you should absolutely consider buying organic and those that don’t make as big of a difference.

Organic Series – Part 1

I am trying myself to get a better understanding of what ‘Organic’ really means and am slowly starting to shift to buying organic foods so I want to do a series about all of the things that I am learning! We’re going to start pretty basic today.

What does Organic mean, Exactly?

The USDA states that the goal of organic foods and organic farming is to “integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

Image result for usda organic

Put simply, if you see the “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” seal on your food, the item must have ingredients listed and the contents should be 95% or more certified organic, meaning free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering, according to the USDA. The remaining 5% may only be foods or processed with additives on an approved list.

I personally have always been a little skeptical of that USDA organic label but after taking a look at their website it appears that the process of getting this designation is pretty lengthy, and if violated can lead to some hefty fees for companies. Although at times the term “organic” may just seem like a marketing term with little meaning, I’d say that when you buy organic goods at most stores and from most known brands, you can be largely sure that it meets the guidelines listed above.

Next week we are going to explore the benefits of choosing organic foods. Stay tuned!