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The Official Blog of The GEM.

Diamonds on your inside. That’s what we want. Don’t you? This blog is a place to visit for guidance, humor and wit about healthy, happy lives. We only have one life. Make it count!

Category Archives: Healthy Eating Tips


Be vibrant—Form a Plant Based Diet, including JUICE!

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JuicerowGEM girls believe juicing is an incredible tool in an arsenal to “reboot” a sick body and mind. It is a significant component to an overall plant-based, whole foods diet—which is the key to vibrant health. It is powerful stuff!

This is something I learned firsthand. I discovered what juicing and alkalinity does to a compromised system when I went through a year-long battle with cancer and chemo. This experience was more than just inspiring and medically apparent for me, it completely changed my life!

But WHY is juicing and a plant based diet such an effective means of changing one’s health—whether the goal is vitality, weight loss or even disease reversal?

Two words: Micronutrients (OK, one, but it sounds more dramatic that way). Cells in the body require micronutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals) to function optimally. When cells receive adequate micronutrients, you feel energized and full. These are nutrient-dense foods. On the other hand, many foods simply provide nutritionally worthless calories and are devoid of the essential nutrients our cells crave. These are calorie-dense, nutrition-poor foods that weaken your body, i.e. things that come in a box. a nugget, or a drive-thru.

A Plant-Based Diet includes vegetables, legumes/beans, seeds and nuts, just like we do inside The GEM.  This diet contains foods that are minimally processed too, with the majority of nutrition coming from plants. This diet is incredibly powerful in achieving optimal health. Plants provide:

Fiber

Diets high in fiber are associated with lower risks of heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes and obesity. It keeps everything moving.  LIterally. There is fiber in broccoli, beans, apples, among other vegetables and fruits. HOWEVER, none will be found in the nutritionally void world of white bread, chips, burgers and most other processed foods.

Phytonutrients

This group of nutrients give the gorgeous colors to our veggies and bring about many health benefits. Found only in plants, phytonutrients are anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. SIGN ME UP. Think GREEN. Or blue, or red, or yellow. There are perhaps 10,000 of these health-promoting chemicals in the edible plant world. (You’ll never find phytonutrients in a Big Mac.)

Antioxidants

Many chemicals (these are good chemicals) found in plants help resist the damage that occurs to the human body from oxygen and the process of metabolism. Chlorophyll, the green energy found in plants, is liquid sunshine that detoxifies and energizes. It’s anti-aging at its best.  Surely the fountain of youth is made of chlorophyll! Oxidation leads to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, compromise brain cells. Our dear friends in the plant world contain TONS of natural antioxidants.

Omega-3 fatty acids

These essential fatty acids are used for the internal workings and repair of cells throughout the body. These are GOOD FATS. They enhance and nourish brain function and help our systems run smoothly.  Flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, algae are rich in this nutrient class. AND…ALL FATS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL!

ALKALINITY

Greens are highly alkalizing to our systems—which is what we want. Disease thrives in acidic environments. CANCER LOVES ACIDITY.  All processed food, dairy and animal products are acidic in our system. Greens are great for improving circulation, lifting the spirit, purifying the blood and strengthening the immune system.

So …. how does this get us back to The GEM and juicing

GEM_slide1It is recommended that we consume five or more servings of vegetables and fruits daily, though many authorities set the bar much higher, being optimal at 10 servings a day. We believe that 80% of what you consume should be plant-based!

In order to consistently ingest this large amount of plant-based material, you need to do some planning. REMEMBER: If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food!

Some ideas to get your greens: prepare large vibrantly colored salads (our KALE salad rocks), add greens in protein-rich soups such as our lentil soup, and blend smoothies with berries, hemp seeds and greens for a power breakfast or a snack. You’ll never taste the spinach! Keep hummus and veggies nearby to snack on in a pinch. Bottled green juice is an awesome option to start your day.

Juicing is just one more tool you can use to build a plant-based nutrition program rich in phytochemicals, and it can make it easier to reach your goal of 10 servings a day of vegetables.

By juicing daily, you provide your body with a high dose of naturally-derived nutrients that boosts your health, support your body’s natural cleansing processes and helps keep you protected against toxins and disease.

Juice:

  • is easy to digest and the nutrients are easily assimilated.
  • is an incredible energy booster, full of chlorophyll, aka liquid sunshine—the real Red Bull.
  • is full of live enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.
  • makes it easy to get more veggies  
  • can curb appetite, and maintain blood sugar levels.
  • makes you happier. Goodness in … goodness out.

Whenever possible, focus on organic foods. Organic really does matter.

Juicing and a plant-based diet will bring you an authentic health and mood boost. I promise!

Any questions?


We Heart Hemp!

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happyhempHemp. Not to be confused with the to the stuff Cheech and Chong made so famous. This miracle seed (plant for that matter) is actually a distant cousin. So, get those thoughts out of your head.

For better or worse, the “high” you can get with hemp is only from your body singing from all the goodness.

Why is it so good?

It’s packed with protein for one thing. Hemp has more protein than meat, fish or tofu. Say wha?? Forks over Knives, for sure!

Additional benefits of hemp include:

  1. It keeps your weight in check because Hemp protein and fiber aid in satiety, which will prevent you from snacking and keep you fuller longer. It actually keeps you from the munchies. HA. A diet rich in hemp also promotes digestive regularity. Giddy-up cowboy!
  2. Keeps you smart. Hemp seeds are one of the few Omega-3 sources found in plants, so listen up, vegans. The Omega-3 fatty acids in hemp reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, and may even ward off Alzheimer’s disease. The protein and omega fats help with brain function.
  3. Hemp can regulate hormone fluctuations and promotes the alleviation of menstrual cramps and menopause symptoms. That sounds like happiness in a bag to me!
  4. Hemp keeps you looking good! It is a protein powerhouse that stimulates skin and hair growth, maintains bone health, regulates metabolism, and helps with brain function. Hemp helps keep your blood sugar level, which is an important way to defy age and prevent disease. Sign me up.

An interesting note: our government outlawed hemp farming in 1958, a shame when you consider how amazing a crop it is. The plant thrives without pesticides, purifies the soil around it, and kills weeds. The U.S. is the only country that bans industrial hemp farming.  Another brilliant food move by our government. Our hemp comes mostly from our neighbors to the north in Canada, who are already attuned to a healthier food supply.

Use hemp in your smoothies as a dairy substitute. Just three tablespoons give you a whopping 15 grams of protein. I keep Happy Hemp seeds in my car to snack on when I’m carpooling. Sprinkle them on your oatmeal, add them to your salads.

I’m telling you, this is some good stuff.


Organic Food & Juice – Are the Benefits Worth It?

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organic food and organic juice Are organic foods really worth the hype and the extra money? These are questions that are raised every day.

In the GEM life, it’s pretty black and white, and ORGANIC WINS EVERY TIME.

The benefits of organic food:

1. No harmful pesticides. Many of these pesticides cannot be washed off of the produce–as they penetrate the entire vegetable. They are also cumulative. These toxins get stored away in your fat cells and continue to build.  The idea of “it’s just a little bit” is as absurd as saying I’ll just have a little bit of arsenic on my apple. You cannot wash enough of the toxins off. Period.

2. No GMOs. That is genetically modified organisms. If you aren’t clear on what those are, don’t feel bad. Even the scientists who created them can’t predict what will happen to humans when they are consumed. Monsanto created the “Round Up Ready” soybean and corn. This means that the powerful pesticide will kill everything around it except the bean itself. Great, you think. Not really. These crops have been modified so that if an insect eats it, the insect’s insides are destroyed. But it’s OK for humans to eat it? I’m no rocket scientist, but … hell no. Did you know that all of Europe, Australia, Canada, Russia and many other countries DO NOT allow these ingredients in their food supply because of the health dangers? We must vote with our wallets.

3. Organic produce contains the same veggie DNA as our grandparents consumed. Sounds a lot more comforting. An heirloom tomato is heaven. Conventional ones aren’t even worth the sea salt and pepper you sprinkle on them.

4. The meats you consume are not over treated with powerful antibiotics and fattened with GMO, nutrient deficient corn. They are also humanely treated–not crammed into slaughter houses and mired knee deep in waste. Happy animals produce happy food. Eat grass-fed, free range, pasture raised. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT, MEAT-EATING PEOPLE.

5. And I have to continue to implore you to never eat artificial food colorings and artificial sweeteners. These cause ADHD and allergies in children, brain tumors and neurological disorders in adults, among other toxic side effects.

The government standards for “organic” include a national list of approved synthetic and prohibited non-synthetic substances for organic production which means that organically produced foods also must be produced without the use of:

  • antibiotics
  • artificial growth hormones
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • artificial dyes (made from coal tar and petrochemicals)
  • artificial sweeteners derived from chemicals
  • synthetically created chemical pesticide and fertilizers
  • genetically engineered proteins and ingredients
  • sewage sludge
  • irradiation

So … conventional, non-organic food may contain these ingredients? Did you know this? I am certain not many of us do, since sewage sludge and artificial growth hormones aren’t on the label. Sewage sludge alone is enough to shift my attention to organic!

Take a look at this experiment. It left me speechless. If this doesn’t confirm the data, nothing will. Way to go Elise!

Love yourself, love your family. Buy organic.

It just might be the best weapon in your arsenal against disease. Organic too expensive you say? Have you priced cancer lately? Pick the Dirty Dozen and go from there.

You owe it to yourself and your family. OH, and drink your organic, nutrient dense juice everyday. It is super power that helps combat and flush out the environmental toxins we can’t help but consume.

See you at The GEM, where honestly organic is how we roll.


Magnesium: Anti-Anxiety Mineral

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keep-calm-image

It’s nature’s xanax and ambien and exlax all in one. 

 

What is it? Magnesium is a mineral that’s crucial to the body’s function. Magnesium helps control healthy blood pressure, supports strong bones, and keeps the heart rhythm steady.

Why else do we need it? Magnesium is a calming mineral that nourishes the nervous system. It helps prevent anxiety, fear, nervousness, restlessness and irritability. It may even have a positive effect on depression. It is a great way to stay regular, treat menstrual cramps, allay menopausal symptoms. SOLD.

Have anxiety? Got constipation? Muscle cramps? Trouble falling asleep? Magnesium can help.

How do we lose it? Most people are deficient in magnesium. Mental and emotional stresses deplete magnesium, and we live in a state of chronic, on-going stress. This environmental reality increases our daily need for magnesium. Magnesium deficiency can be caused by a number of stresses on the body, including emotional stress, some drugs (diuretics, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, insulin, cortisone), heavy exercise, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and too much calcium in the diet.

How do I get it? Supplements for one. Like what?  My favorite way is with something called Natural Calm. It is a powder substance that you drink like a tea. IT. IS. AWESOME. I drink it when I am feeling anxious. Often, it replaces the 5 o’clock cocktail I used to drink. I give it to my kids to help them relax before bedtime. It’s a great nighttime ritual. CALM rocks my house.

A luxurious and easy way to increase your intake of magnesium and relax at the same time is to add about a cup of Epsom salts or Calm Sports Bath to a warm bath—you’ll absorb the magnesium through your skin. It also helps with sore and cramping muscles. Add lavender essential oil and have a ridiculously calming soak before bed. You’ll sleep like a baby.

Where do I get it? Grab some at The GEM of course! Also available at Whole Foods, my other happy place.

What else should I know about it? Not dangerous, but important to note: Too much magnesium or Calm and you will find yourself with loose stools. Remember that slightly inappropriate lady on those Milk of Magnesia commercials?

So start low and work your way up.

CALM is NOT a substitute for a poor diet. So don’t just rely on supplements. Focus, too, on foods high in magnesium.  Foods such as:

• Dark-green, leafy vegetables
➢ spinach, kale and chard, contain plenty of calming magnesium as well as good amounts of the B vitamins.
• Whole, unrefined grains like oats, buckwheat, millet and quinoa also contain both magnesium and B vitamins.
• Lentils, grass fed beef and homemade bone broths, halibut, and salmon, nuts, pumpkin & sesame seeds, bananas, avocados, figs.
• Dark chocolate / cacao are rich in magnesium.
• Chamomile, dandelion, peppermint or sage herbal tea. Mix it with your CALM magnesium for a double kick.

Added bonus: Many high-magnesium foods are also a good source of calcium, especially spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, and sea vegetables. Another way to a happy green lifestyle!

Stay CALM, baby.

Special note: Magnesium citrate is generally not a harmful substance, but care should be taken to consult with a health professional if any adverse health problems arise.

This post was not sponsored by the folks at CALM!

 

 


8 Simple Detox Steps You Can Do NOW!

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From a distance, achieving a cleaner, healthier lifestyle seems daunting.  There are foods you’ve never eaten, supplements you’ve never heard of, and exercises you’ve never dreamed possible. Sure, when you start climbing that mountain of health, the pinnacle is nowhere in sight.  But Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t expect a new lifestyle to simply appear when you blink your eyes. Gradual changes to your daily life will put your body and mind on a path to healthier and happier living.

rainbow-background

Be Vibrant!

So many of our GEMs ask how they can get clean—to feel better, look better, think better.  They have no idea where to begin.  I had the fortune (or misfortune if you are a half-empty kind of guy) of being scared into a clean lifestyle.  One day I was sipping/guzzling Hendricks and sodas living an incredibly toxic life (food, drink, people), then BAM!, the next day I am down in the depths of a super strict, super alkaline, orthorexic-to-a-fault, rid-my-life-of-toxic everything way of life. But you don’t need that kind of fear.  You need a few simple tips to get you on your way.  It’s about being mindful of your body and your environment. Once you can see the benefits of these small changes, your body and your mind will DEMAND more.  THEN, we can talk  about diving deep!

  1. Drink 32 ounces of clean, purified water upon waking.  This means before you drink your coffee, before you go for your run, and certainly before you eat that huge breakfast.  Add a little lemon if you like for added alkalinity. Your body has been detoxing itself for the last 8 hours.  Flush out these toxins.  The water is not only cleansing, it is hydrating and energizing.  TRUST ME ON THIS.
  2. Deep breathing exercises every day.  Measured breathing,(pranayama) filling your belly first and inhale through your nose for 6 seconds, then exhale for 6 seconds. Repeat 8 times. Calms the mind, reduces anxiety and tension, increases metabolism, energizes, strengthens the immune system.
  3. No artificial sweeteners, no artificial colors. Never. Period. Studies show sweeteners can raise insulin levels, cause brain tumors, foggy brain, migraines, fibromyalgia, cancer. Artificial colors are made from petroleum and cause ADHD, and certain cancers among other things.  Seriously, this sh*t is toxic.
  4. Add an extra green to your day.  Add steamed broccoli to your salad, spinach to your smoothie (you can’t taste it, by the way).  Green juice is a great way to to get lots extra veggies. If you want a good recipe, email me! I’d love to share.  Slice up some cucumbers and sprinkle with lime and sea salt. Just one EXTRA a day.
  5. Daily probiotics.  This should come in a pill format—NOT Activa yogurt.  Probiotics are the healthy bacteria our digestive tract needs to keep our bodies healthy.  Our immune system primarily resides in our digestive tract.  The healthy bacteria has been sabotaged with processed foods, antibiotics, and other chemical stresses we put on our bodies.  Sunbiotics, a brand we love and use, brings the good bacteria back so it can fight off illness, enhance digestion, remedies constipation and believe it or not, improves mood and thinking.
  6. Omega Fish Oil.  Nordic Naturals are the cleanest, freshest fish oils on the market–and the only brand the GEM recommends.  These vital nutrients help quell inflammation, boost brain health. 2-3 grams/day.
  7. Brisk walk 3-4x week for atleast 30 minutes.  Good for circulation, mood, metabolism. Duh. Just do it.
  8. Sleep. Get some. Atleast 8 hours.  Adequate sleep will keep your cortisol levels in check (things that make you hold on to fat), keeps your mood elevated.

Practice these 8 things every day and watch a transformation begin. Daily GEM dosing and an introductory meal plan is next on the list, but that is for another day….

Peace and Happy and Juice.

 


12 Healthy Breakfast Options on the Go

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We’ve always heard, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Without question this is true, especially for our kids. For brain development, their daily energy levels, their ability to focus.

An apple a day...It can be a challenge with all of the over processed options you see in the grocery store.

Fruit Loops ARE NOT AN OPTION.

Getting your kids to eat a good breakfast in the morning is simple–if you just do a little planning. You need a few of these quick and healthy breakfast options in your arsenal.

Make a shopping list that includes all of the items below and plan out your week. If you are not a morning person, put out plates, glasses and put ingredients together ready to go from the fridge. If they take vitamins (which they should), place them in little ramekins at their place setting. Still plan to get up 10 minutes early. It makes all the difference.

Breakfast only takes 15 minutes, and it can be a great way to take a moment to set your intention for the day, spend a moment with your kids and treat yourself like the royalty you are.

Feed them royally (as our friends at Hail Merry might say) with some of the following options:

  1. Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats. Just add hot water and wait two minutes. Add maple syrup and cinnamon, even berries for a sweet treat. You can also cook steel-cut oatmeal in your crock pot the night before so it will be ready in the am.
  2. Vital Farms pastured eggs. It is very important to get protein in them, keeping blood sugar levels even. Eggs are SOOO fast and easy to make. Try one over medium cooked in coconut oil. Serve them boiled with salt and pepper. Scramble them with spinach if your kids are open to the next level. And why pastured?
    • 2/3 more Vitamin A
    • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
    • 3 times more Vitamin E
    • 7 times more beta carotene (according to my friends at Vital Farms)
  3. Applegate Farms Chicken Maple Sausage, scrambled egg and whole wheat English muffin–or try a Van’s GF waffle with it, like a wrap! No nitrates, organically grown.
  4. Fresh smoothies made with frozen berries, bananas, almond milk, pomegranate juice, raw protein like Amazing Meals. Stock up on your ingredients. Keep cacao and agave on hand too. Try the Blueberry Brain Boost Smoothie. Sneak in hemp seeds for extra protein.
  5. Vigilant Eats Oat Cereal if you are in a super rush. Just add cold or hot water and go. Spoon is already in the cup! Eleven grams of protein to start your day. Come get yours at The GEM!
  6. Cherrybrook Farms (gluten-free) pancakes with blueberries. This gluten-free brand is amazing!!!! They really are fantastic when cooked with coconut oil. They need almost no syrup! Combine with #2 or #3 to balance with protein.
  7. Healthy granola, like Hail Merry’s Cherry Almond Hemp with vanilla almond milk or organic Greek yogurt. Add fresh sliced pineapple on the side.
  8. Ezekial Bread toasted with almond butter and their favorite jam (not the kind with food coloring and lots of chemicals. Read your labels!)
  9. Make a peanut or almond butter and jelly whole grain waffle. Heavy on the organic peanut butter.
  10. Breakfast burrito–whole wheat tortillas–the fresh ones from Central Market or Whole Foods, not the ones with a gazillion ingredients–mixed with scrambled eggs and pico de gallo. You can drain a can of black beans the night before and add those in the mix too.
  11. Quinoa Cereal.  It’s reminiscent of Cream of Wheat, but SOO much better.  Here’s a recipe.  Play with it–your kids just might love it!
  12. Bonus: invest in a citrus juicer. You can make fresh squeezed orange or pink grapefruit juice in a matter of seconds. It is AMAZING and a tremendous source of Vitamin C. Everyone thinks it’s cool to operate.

And remember this important detail for breakfast: if it comes from a box, read the label. If you don’t know what the ingredients are or how to spell them, toss it.

Do you have a whole food, protein rich breakfast favorite you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it!


Healthy Snacks for Kids: 21 Ways to Feed Your Kids Better.

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So much of what we feed our kids is full of chemicals and overprocessed, nutrient depleted food stuff. Junk food abounds. Providing your family with nutritious, acceptable and SAFE food is HARD to do! Almost everyday inside The GEM, we hear parents wishing they had better options that their kids would want to eat.

Fast foods are pumped full of chemicals (even Chick-fil-A contains food colorings and an “anti-foaming agent” in their fries that is also used in plastics). Packaged snacks are made with hydrogenated oils (Oreos), rendered beef fat (Chef Boyardee). Food coloring is linked to ADHD and depression. Hidden sugars are everywhere.

These things are acidic, linked to cancer, allergies and make their little brains foggy. You can find better commitment to healthier foods just by knowing what some of these things do to you. I know you can!

Here’s where to start:

1. Try to tell your kids WHY unhealthy choices are bad. Make the reasons relevant to them. If you tell your son that he will play better basketball if he doesn’t choose to eat the electric blue cupcakes before a game, he will listen. Tell your pre-teen girl that eating lots more green leafy vegetables will make her skin glow and eliminate breakouts, you have her ear. Tell your 5 year old that super heros eat grilled organic chicken and broccoli and you atleast have a chance.

2. Have easy to grab options ALWAYS available. This IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A PARENT. If you have a bowl of washed strawberries and grapes in the fridge, they will eat them. Have a plate of veggies, dip, cheese cubes and sliced apples out when they come home from school. Fresh made organic popcorn is always a crowd pleaser. They will eat it!

3. Healthy eaters don’t happen overnight. KEEP IT UP. It takes 10 times of tasting for a palate to change. Plus, they will learn to expect healthy options on their plate every meal and know they will have to try atleast 2 bites. I promise it will happen.

21 Good, Healthy Snacks for Kids

  1. Organic popcorn made in a Whirley Pop with coconut oil and sea salt. DEE-LISH.
  2. Sliced cucumbers marinated in water, 2 tablespoons of Braggs apple cider vinegar, a touch of agave. SOOO good.
  3. Fresh pico, salsa and bean dip. Nachos with pinto beans and cheese are a much better option than Cheetos! Always have these in your fridge.
  4. Cubes of yummy, premium cheddar cheese. (Not the Kraft crap)
  5. Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, dehydrated fruits. Pistachios are fun to eat.
  6. Sliced apples with organic peanut butter, if you don’t have nut allergies. Cutie oranges.
  7. Slice bananas and freeze them. AWESOME. Grapes too.
  8. Keep frozen berries (1c), bananas (1), almond milk (1c), pomegranate juice (1/2c) and raw protein powder on hand. Make a Sparkle Berry smoothie. They will love you!
  9. Turkey (Applegate Farms makes a great one) with a little mustard wrapped around a sesame breadstick
  10. Mini pizzas made with whole grain english muffins, fresh marinara (no sugar, all natural), mozzerella
  11. Fresh lemonade will quench any thirst. 1/2c lemon juice, 1/3c (or less) agave, 4 c water. Make a pitcher and keep it on hand.
  12. Lentil Soup with homemade croutons made with coconut and olive oil. Dinner or snack.
  13. Bowl of oatmeal with maple syrup. Healthy granola that doesn’t list sugar as its first 3 ingredients.
  14. Surprise your kids with Breakfast for after school snack: organic pastured eggs (Vital Farms is my fave), Applegate Farms chicken maple sausage. An amazing after school treat.
  15. Sami’s Cinnamon Chips will disappear at carpool time. Kids LOVE these gluten free, high fiber, low sugar (but don’t tell them that) chips. Available at The GEM.
  16. Whole wheat pasta already made. Even better is Tinkyada brand gluten free pasta. Find a pomodoro sauce that is clean and healthy with nothing but tomatoes, garlic, spices. NOTHING ELSE. A touch of olive oil, maybe.
  17. Make your own pita chips–sprinkle whole grain pita chips with parmesan cheese and broil until golden brown. Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies–in a pinch–are okay.
  18. Steam frozen edamame and add sea salt
  19. Roasted chickpeas. So fun!
  20. Make organic oven fries. YUM!
  21. Make your own cookies and brownies as a special special treat.  Just use organic flours, whole butters and real chocolates. A little goodness goes a long way.

 


Makeover: Pantry Edition. Simple Tips and Ideas to Reboot Your Kitchen.

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We all know the kitchen pantry can have an evil, tempting voice that beckons you to do bad, bad things. That box of double stuffed oreos and cheezits refuse to live a life of solitude. They DEMAND your company. Temptation can be difficult to resist, especially if other options are not readily available. Just say no? That simple slogan is not realistic. Here’s a better way. It’s a Healthy Pantry Makeover. REBOOT your pantry and kick start your way to vibrance, energy and love.

There are lots of strategies for a healthy pantry makeover, all of which will be part of a series to teach smarter ways to shop and cook and eat. Here are some starting points.

1. Read the labels. if it sounds like a bonus question on a chemistry exam, toss it.
2. Reward yourself but not with food. A movie or walk with a friend, a lazy soak in the tub.
3. Leave triggers on the shelf at the grocery store. If you know you can’t resist something, don’t buy it.
4. Don’t try to do it all at once. That can be overwhelming and expensive. Start with a few items and work them in.
5. The fewer the ingredients, the better the food, ie, ‘whole food.’

TOSS
1. White rice and pasta.
2. Salty, fried snack foods like potato chips and corn chips. Especially those with chemicals and color.
3. Vegetable oil. It’s acidic and tasteless.
4. Sugary cereals, boxes with BRIGHT COLORS, OR PRIZES INSIDE
5. Canned soups, make your own and freeze the extra.
6. High Fructose corn syrup drinks.
7. Yogurt with artificial sweeteners and colors.
8. Any thing labeled sugar free, fat free or ‘lite.’ If they can’t spell it right, it’s wrong.
9. Take a look at the ingredients in your condiments. Try making your own salad dressing.
10. Frozen entrees. Lean Cuisines are loaded in preservatives and sodium.

EMBRACE
1. Whole grains like long grain brown rice and quinoa. Whole grain cereals. Go Lean Crunch is pretty tasty! Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal is a winner.
2. Nuts.  Raw almonds and pumpkin seeds rock my world. Dried and/or dehydrated fruit. Sliced frozen bananas or grapes are awesome in the summer.
3. Healthy oils like canola, olive, coconut. Spices like Jalapeno Lemon Pepper or Tommy’s Coffee Rub are amazing additions to spice up your foods.
4. There is no finer snack than popcorn made with coconut oil and sea salt.
5. Canned beans: cannelini, black, pinto, lentils. (Dried are best. See easy crock pot bean recipe). Beans and rice topped with salsa and avocado is a perfect protein meal.
6. Sparkling water and limes–the perfect cooler.
7. Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
8. Domestic (or local), seasonal fruits and veggies. Keep all the ingredients for a quick smoothie in the pantry and freezer. Amazing Meals is a great vegan protein addition!
9. Hummus, tamari sauce, salsa, guacamole.
10. Homemade chili or soup.  Keep in the freezer for quick access.

Detox your body, detox your mind and now a DETOX program for your KITCHEN. Good stuff!