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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!

Tag Archives: healthy eating


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.

 


Kick it to the curb: Eliminate The Toxins

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Toxins make us sick — our bodies AND our mind. They are not just in the air. They are all around us–even where you would never think.

Toxins are also in our:
- Food
- Cosmetics
- Relationships
- Habits

Toxins weigh us down, make us sick, cause depression, limit our horizons. Why do we allow toxic people, habits, chemicals, poor eating habits, and situations to make you sick, fat, angry, sad, self-conscious?

Back to the Just Say No Campaign. The question then is, how do you eliminate toxins out of your body?

These things are bad for your health–both mind and body:

  1. Toxic people: You know the ones. They see everything half empty. They say and do things to make you feel inadequate (that is your insecurity, too, which is something you need to work on). Some of these people are also known as Energy Vampires. You have to set boundaries and keep them on the periphery of your happiness. A brilliant guide to setting these is aptly named, Boundaries, by Cloud & Townsend. Check it out.
  2. Toxic Habits: Looking for the bad, instead of the good. Is your juice glass half empty? “Why does this always happen to me?” Two reasons: A) You are looking for it. B) Your aura invites it. **Look for the positive. Make it the focus.** What else No body movement. Yes, exercise. The kind that stretches and pushes your body. Brisk walks and stretching seem like nothing but will make a huge difference in the way you feel. Try it. I dare you. Simple yoga exercises and eventually group classes are life changers! Group Pilates can be SO MUCH FUN!
  3. Toxic Chemicals: Toxins are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the shampoo we use. There are ingredients in many of your household products that have been proven to cause cancer. And, let’s be realistic, we cannot avoid all of these. We can, however, do a better job of selective elimination. Eliminate: conventional air fresheners, lotions, shampoos. There are many all-natural, non-carcinogenic products available–and not just available at Whole Foods. There ARE natural cleaning products that work, even some you can make yourself using inexpensive things like vinegar and lemon.
  4. Toxic Foods: You knew this was coming. There are toxins in your foods. However, there are two ways I want you to think about this. You don’t have to do this all at once.First, crowding out. Start by simply ADDING more vegetables and fruits into your day. That way, there is less room for the bad. When you start your day with good food choices, the rest of your day will follow. Organic is best, but just considering the “Dirty Dozen” and purchase accordingly.Second, diet drinks, fried foods, sugary breakfasts. Believe it or not, the properties of these foods affect your brain, your mood and how you perceive your day. These foods also make you feel like shit. Oh, and all of those toxins sit in your fat cells and liver for long periods of time. They actually make your body hold on to fat and junk you really don’t want. Read: helps you lose unwanted adipose tissue. Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks you can feel good about!

In the words of my mafia friend, “If you have a problem, eliminate it.”  I think that is BRILLIANT advice–sans the concrete shoes, of course.


To Juice or Not Juice – Revisited

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This is an oldie, but a goodie! This is a repost of our February 12th blog.

What an amazing week! The GEM is open and it is, I must say, FABULOUS. It’s interesting how clean, vibrant things attract bright-eyed, vibrant  people. It is SO much fun being there serving raw juice and smoothies to these SHINY, HAPPY PEOPLE.

So the question arises, “Should I juice, or should I smoothie? What is the difference?

GET JUICED UP! Juices provide nutrients at top speed.  The lack of fiber means our body can assimilate the nutrients in a matter of minutes. Your body has time to heal itself rather that having to work at digestion.  My afternoon green juice during chemo was the shot in the arm I needed to keep going after 3pm.

By doing this 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 well-protected against toxins and disease. A fresh juice stands in a league of its own.  It is simply the best energy drink on the market! Take that, Red Bull.

BE A SMOOTH OPERATOR … Smoothies are a vibrant man’s comfort food. There is nothing better than a rich, yummy smoothie. They can be fruit based, raw chocolate or coconut. It doesn’t matter. They all can offer great benefits for skin, digestion, weight control.

Smoothies contain a good deal of fiber, something that is an important nutrient in itself (see Emerald City Smoothie at The GEM). Fiber is an essential and all-too-often lacking ingredient in our diet; it keeps our gut moving and helps it to stay healthy with the right levels of good bacteria. Smoothies, when done right, can be an excellent meal replacement too–with veggies, fruit and protein mixed happily together in a party cup.

BUT, don’t be fooled by that creepy, fake crap served at fast food joints or even at the self-acclaimed healthy smoothie chains. So much of that is processed and sugar laden. You might as well eat some Ben & Jerry’s. Or … the famed BACON SMOOTHIE from Jack in the Box. A bit of a bellwether for the state of America’s health. Smoothies gone wrong. Watch out for it.  Juice over Smoothie?  We need both.

 


Weed of Wonder: Cilantro, the Great De-toxifier.

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Don’t take this SUPER LEAF for granted. This herb is not just a random garnish found next to the salsa on the condiment bar at Taco Cabana.

It’s a powerful natural detoxifier.

There are many well-documented benefits of organic cilantro. One super cool fact is that Cilantro might just be one of nature’s best chelation agents.

The chemical compounds in cilantro actually bind to heavy metals, loosening them from the tissues, blood and organs. Cilantro’s chemical compounds then help move these harmful substances out of the body. Mercury excess is a common problem that may be the result of metallic teeth fillings or over-consumption of predatory fish such as tuna and swordfish.

But wait, there’s MORE!  Cilantro also …

  • Eases symptoms of arthritis due to its powerful anti-inflammatory capacities
  • Maintains healthy cholesterol levels
  • Brings relief for stomach gas, prevention of flatulence (your friends and family will thank you) and an overall digestive aid
  • Wards off urinary tract infections
  • Helps reduce feelings of nausea
  • Eases hormonal mood swings
  • Helps promote healthy liver function
  • Loads of anti-oxidants that eat up those nasty free radicals in our body…things that make us old and creaky.

STATS for this humble backyard herb: 

15% of folates (recommended daily allowance per 100g)
11% of vitamin B-6
45% of vitamin C
225% of vitamin A
258% of vitamin K, one of the richest herbal sources
22% of iron
18% of manganese

This weed has flown under the radar for too long. Cilantro deserves a bowl full of respect!

So how can you get more of this super green? Add it to soups, sprinkle it on salads, douse it on dips. Too much to think about?

Have someone do it for you! Get a double dose of cilantro love when you hang out at The GEM. You can find cilantro in the soon-to-be famous GEM Quinoa Salad and Jalapeno Pesto. Hustle down and get you some cilantro!


DANGER, Will Robinson! Someone is poisoning you!

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If I tackled you just before you unknowingly drank poison, wouldn’t you hail me as your hero?  Well, consider this your face plant. You probably have been consuming this toxin on a daily basis. Worse, you may even be serving this modern day hemlock to your sweet innocent children.  Does Crystal Light ring a bell?  Sugar free popsicles? Diet Pepsi addiction got you stuck in the drive thru?

Sir! Put. Your Weapon. Down.

Nutra Sweet.  Equal. Aspartame.  Sweet Poison. This chemical, yes chemical, is toxic.  Not a little toxic.  A lot toxic.  There are account after account of reports to the FDA heralding the dangers and side effects of aspartame.  But to no avail.  This chemical breaks down in the body as methanol and formaldehyde. Those guys don’t sound very friendly.  A few of the 92 different reported symptoms listed include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, nausea, extreme depression, irritability, insomnia, anxiety attacks, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.  Chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame: Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes. Gulf War Syndrome.

What is scary is that unlike many things we put into our body, aspartame’s by products go straight to the brain. It actually crosses the “brain / blood barrier” as it is called.  Several of the experts who now speak out against aspartame took part in the research and development of this chemical. One of the world’s foremost authorities informed the development company, Searle,  in 1971 that aspartic acid (a by-product) caused holes in the brains of mice.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

So? You say.  I am not scared of that.  Ok, how about this? Artificial sweeteners can make your body fat.  Yes, fat.  By tricking the body into thinking sugar is coming, insulin is produced awaiting its arrival.  This unnecessary spike in blood sugar is no bueno for your system.  That excess sugar is then stored as fat.  But who cares that you are fat if you’ve got cancer.

Your body begs for diamonds on its insides.  Not corrosive poison.

Start today.  Be a Hero! Throw that sh*t out.  Real sugar is best.  Begin with detoxifying your body of all residual chemical toxins from aspartame’s chemical make up and their toxic by-products, and see if any adverse health symptoms remain.  At the very least, your brain will be clearer and your body more brilliant.

You can thank me later.

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The Land of Conveniences.

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Now taking requests.  I may not use them and secretly scoff behind your back,  but I will graciously consider them.  Like today.  A new found BFF asked me to write about what to feed her kids for after school snacks.  She genuinely wanted some good options.  Not freaky, sprouted tofu options but enticing foods that kids would gladly eat.  Given this is the first week of school for many of us, I felt it fitting.  My post on sweaty back hair must wait til next time. (Certain to be a crowd favorite).

We live in the most convenient city on the planet.  We have everything at our finger tips.  And, for the right price, we can have it.  All wrapped up nicely in plastic wrap.  No extra work, no forethought, no preparation.  This power, my friends, can be deadly when used carelessly.  I’m talking about snacks.  Snacks for you, snacks for your kids.  It is SO EASY to go to the store and pick up the Frito Lay snak-pak of chips.  Cheetos, Doritos, Sun Chips.  Oreos, Nutter Butters, Lorna Doone. Food Coloring, Hydrogenated Oils, High Fructose Corn Syrup. Perfectly packaged for your kids.  An allergy and ADHD cocktail. Trust me, you aren’t doing anyone any favors–unless you are the Frito Lay rep.

The key to having your kids eat healthier snacks is to stay ahead of the game.  Make it convenient for better choices. That means plan.  Just a little.  Give them something to eat before they ask for it.  Have a plate of cheese, hummus, veggies and nuts sitting out on the table.  Or something yummy waiting in the fridge.  Here are a few of my (and my kids’ favorites).  Let me know yours.

Fresh Popped Popcorn in coconut oil. Back to my earlier ‘expose’ on the microwave kind, this popcorn is AWESOME.  You have to get a Whirly Pop  or one of those Cusinart machines. So worth it and fun to make.

ProBugs yogurt drinks are a favorite around here.  9 grams of protein plus probiotics.  They come in several different flavors.

HAIL MERRY! Chocolate Macaroons are amazing.  And made by my very BFF.  Addicting to say the least!

Frozen Grapes.  Just what it sounds like.  Grapes in the freezer.  They are addicting.  On that note, there is a Zoku popsicle maker  that you just pour in any kind of juice and it freezes it in less than 10 minutes.  Super cool.  http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/zoku-duo-quick-pop-maker/?pkey=cctlsptice

Edamame.  Easy to make (buy it frozen, boil for 1 min, add sea salt) and you can keep in the fridge for a quickie.

Tias Ranch flavored tortilla chips.  It is still junk food, but it is under the non-toxic junk food. These taste very much like their evil twin Doritos, but without the unrecognizable ingredients. REALLY yummy.  For that matter good ole Lays chips and Fritos are atleast free of additives and creepy stuff.  Add fresh salsa or guacamole.

Nitrate free beef and turkey jerky. Whole Foods has their own brand.

Frozen Lemonade.  Grab a blender and add some natural lemonade and ice.  Kids LOVE it!

Clif Bars.  They are almost everywhere–and are free from junk additives.

Quesadillas with organic cheese and beans.  Good stuff.

And the good old standby: Peanut butter and honey.  Except choose organic (regular peanuts are RIDDLED with toxic pesticides).  Almond butter is even better. On whole wheat bread, rice cakes,  sliced apples or Elvis style on a banana.

Have a great year!!
Now for the shameless, self-promoting plug.  I am walking 60 miles for Komen Walk for the Cure in November.  I would be humbled and grateful if you would consider a donation on my behalf.  Komen’s research on the drug Herceptin is THE reason I was able to kick that dreadful kancer to the curb.  And BTW, walking 60 miles AIN’T easy.  I thought it would be–but my feet are thinking otherwise.  Cheer me on.  With your mouth and your wallet!  Peace.

http://www.the3day.org/site/TR/2011/DallasFortWorthEvent2011?px=6183831&pg=personal&fr_id=1622