Vani Hari, aka the Food Babe: Real Food Superhero, Warrior, Defender

The first time I ever heard of the Food Babe was about two years ago. I was researching the different baby formulas and was trying to figure out which was the best formula to put my daughter on after I was done nursing her.

Being in the entertainment industry, especially in the beauty aspect of it, I felt the pressure of losing the baby weight as quickly as I could. I had decided that I was going to breastfeed my daughter for a month-and-a-half, maybe two, and then I was going to switch her to formula. I was determined to lose the baby weight before I started my show which would start production four months after I had her.

I stumbled across an article by the Food Babe that she had written literally two days before the birth of my daughter called “How To Find the Safest Organic Infant Formula” that completely horrified me. I spent many sleepless nights afterwards researching absolutely EVERYTHING about baby formula and my different options. My findings turned me into a very angry mom and sparked my fierce crusade in the movement to better our food supply and to enroll in nutrition school to deepen and better understand food and our body chemistry.

When that month-and-a-half came and I had to decide whether to continue breastfeeding her or not, it was in that moment that I decided that my daughter’s well-being was way more important than trying to fit back into my size 3 jeans and I was going to nurse her for as long as I possibly could. I was not going to poison my daughter. It was also in that moment that I learned to TRULY love my body – the body that told the story of carrying two amazing and beautiful human beings.

I did eventually have to introduce formula after six months of exclusive breastfeeding when she started to wean herself off of me, but I was able to make an informed decision on the best baby formula for her.

Since reading that article by Vani Hari, the Food Babe, I have followed her fearless in-depth food investigations and campaigns. Hari brings transparency to our food system and holds food manufacturers accountable for the food products that are making us sick.

I view Ms. Hari as a pioneer in the food movement. To her critics, registered dietitians and food scientists say she lacks the credentials to speak with authority. But there is a reason big food companies are terrified of the Food Babe. She holds food companies accountable and exposes the truth about what is in your food.

As a certified holistic health coach who has studied over 100 dietary theories with some of the world’s top health and wellness experts, I can say that you don’t need my type of training or a degree to figure out how to be healthy. Anyone can pick up a food item, look at the food label and figure out whether it’s going to harm you or benefit you. Vani Hari is a fearless leader in this food revolution movement.

In her new book, The Food Babe Way, which releases today, Vani outlines the dangers that lurk in your food, shows you how to decode food labels and offers advice on what to eat and how to shop healthy and organic without hurting your pocketbook.
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I received an advanced copy of the book by Ms. Hari and I highly recommend it for anyone who needs an easy-to-follow reference and guide in navigating the thousands of food products lining our store shelves and takes the guesswork out of shopping for healthy and nutritious food. So if you’re tired of your taste buds being hijacked by the food industry and you want to take matters into your own hands and become your own food investigator, nutritionist and food activist, The Food Babe Way will show you how to live a more energetic and vibrant life while still being exposed to our current food system.

Hari lays out a 21-day flexible eating plan with dozens of recipes along with a list of pantry staples and a snack list. She will take you step-by-step through 21 simple changes that will help rid your body of toxins, lose weight without counting calories and restore your natural glow. These fundamentals are so much more affordable than expensive supplements, workouts and gym memberships.

In The Food Babe Way, you’ll learn how to:
~ Avoid the top 15 ingredients that wreak havoc on your weight, beauty and health
~ Develop 21 simple, lasting habits that will get you off chemical-laced food for good
~ Spot manipulative marketing and manufacturing techniques the food industry uses to get you to eat processed foods or hide questionable ingredients
~ Replace the foods that make you fat, look older and sap your energy with helpful, delicious substitutes
~ Prepare dozens of additive-free meals with easy and delicious recipes

Order your copy of The Food Babe Way here:
http://thefoodbabeway.com
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Eat well. Be well. Live your most beautiful life!

Xo,
Kristine

A Pink Ribbon Culture: Pinkwashing

My grandmother had breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and I can still vividly see the empty space in her clothing.

I was nineteen when I had a lump removed from my breast. I remember the day I felt the hard mass. I was eighteen and it was a cool November evening. It was a daily bedtime ritual for me to check for any unusual lumps. I remember the panic rise in my throat. Any chances of a good night’s sleep were just sabotaged by the thoughts that were running through my brain.

My mom took me to the doctor that week and since she is in the medical field, I was taken to the best physician on the subject. I was checked and he concluded that it was nothing to worry about. I knew my body. I have always been very aware of it and my gut instinct told me something was not right.

I insisted on a biopsy. It was benign, thank goodness, but I still wanted it removed; solely for my peace of mind. My surgery was scheduled a month after the biopsy. It was supposed to be a quick procedure and they were not expecting to find what they found when they opened me up. It had grown from the size of the tip of my thumb to the size of a softball. I had an aggressive fibroadenoma. Needless to say, I wasn’t administered the correct amount of anesthesia and I woke up in the middle of the surgery.

“Doctor, she’s awake… ” …and fade back to black. That was not a pleasant experience.

Yearly mammograms were expected of me post surgery especially because I had a family history. I haven’t had one yet for reasons that I will talk about in another post, but fear being the main culprit. Fear of them finding something.

All of that being said, I was a big Pink Ribbon supporter. Emphasis on the WAS. When an opportunity presented itself, I contributed to the breast cancer advocacy movement. That was up until I met my friend Angela. She is the mother of three young, beautiful girls, an Emmy award winning makeup artist and a two-time breast cancer survivor. Our conversations at work lifted the “pink haze” that clouded my view and gave me an authentic perspective. I have seen the scars on her body, a daily reminder of the worst year of her life. But you would never guess that she had this ugly disease. She is a ray of sunshine and I always find it a pleasure to bask in her strength and endurance.

Angela and I

Angela and I

Coming soon to the blog – she will share her experience with us and the monstrous face of breast cancer. Her view of all this Pink Ribbon “awareness” will make you reevaluate your standpoint on the matter. What also fueled many of our conversations was her decision to opt out of chemotherapy and choose a natural approach to treatment. Using food as medicine was a common thread between us.

We are all aware of this cancer but do we really know what it is? I think it is also important for us to see the faces of those who have or have had this cancer. We should not only be aware but we need to know WHAT it is.

Pink heralds that October is here. Pink ribbons everywhere, football players wearing pink garb, hundreds of people coming together to Walk or Run For a Cure, people sporting bracelets with the slogan “I (heart) Boobies.” I noticed though that Breast Cancer Awareness Month has extended itself to more than just October, making it more of a Breast Cancer Awareness season. And as of late, I feel like the Pink Ribbon has become more of a brand, just like the swoosh of Nike or McDonald’s golden arches.

If given a choice, people would rather give their money to a good cause. But have you ever thought about where the money actually goes and how much goes to the actual research? There have been campaigns from big corporations whose contribution was a penny for every purchase. A penny? Really? Wouldn’t it be easier to just write a check or donate directly to the organization?

I started to dig deeper into this thing called “pinkwashing”. There is a great documentary on YouTube called “Pink Ribbons, Inc.” that I highly recommend.

Also, as people are becoming more aware of what is happening to our food supply, companies are using marketing strategies that tug at our heart strings to help increase sales on the very products that cause cancer. So they make the product pink or they slap a Pink Ribbon on the packaging. There is a great article about this on the Huffington Post called “Think Before You Pink: Stop the Distraction.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karuna-jaggar/think-before-you-pink-sto_b_5910696.html

In the 1940s, a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer was 1 in 22. In 2011, it is 1 in 8. The risk factor? Being a woman. But this disease does not discriminate. We have yet to find a cure because we have yet been able to pinpoint the cause. There are so many factors that contribute to this disease. So what is the best course of action? Because I believe we need to start DOING MORE THAN JUST THINKING PINK.

Your thoughts?

‘We the People’ not ‘We the Corporations’

Before I had kids, I had the worst diet imaginable. I just didn’t really think much about it. As long as it tasted good, it was fast and it was convenient, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I was clueless about nutrition and the powerful effect food has on us and I didn’t know the ugly truth about the food industry.

The birth of my first child, however, inspired an urgency in me because I now had to make decisions on his behalf. And if you are a parent, I am sure you can understand where I am coming from. One of my jobs is to provide him with the very best and to protect him from anything that could possibly harm him.

On top of that, I wanted to have the energy and vitality to keep up with him. I wanted to be my healthiest and live as long as I could to be there for him through this difficult life and to live long enough to see my grandkids.

Not only are those some of the things that propelled me down this path of health and wellness, but what also triggered it is that many people that I loved and cared about have been taken too soon from disease or cancer, or suffering from it. It got me thinking and I started to question what was causing this rampant plague that was ravaging people all over the country.

Is it fate – our genes? Is it what comes with age? I needed to know.

All directions kept pointing me towards our diet and lifestyle.

When it comes to the food that we eat, it is very important that we know where it comes from, who grows it and what the ingredients are. I know I sound like a broken record but I just can’t stress it enough!

Food is a very powerful thing!

The food that we eat becomes us.. literally! It becomes the substance of our muscles, our skin, our hair, our bones – basically every cell of our body. We gain the qualities of the food. Not to mention that our brain, which is a very hungry organ, absorbs around 60% of the food that we eat – and, yes, you’re connecting the dots here – there is a food/mood connection as well.

Our lifestyle and the foods that we eat, have the ability to turn genes on or off. Genetics load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.

As I mentioned in my post The Junk Food Generation, there are 600,000 food items in America today.

Last week, General Mills announced they were buying Annie’s for 820 million dollars. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Annie’s, it is a natural and organic food company who is best known for their macaroni and cheese line.

As people are becoming more and more conscientious of their health, the organic and natural foods industry is steadily growing and going mainstream. We live in a world in which food companies are extraordinarily competitive with each other. Their job is to sell more product; and if they are a publicly traded company, they have shareholders to please. And organic is profitable.

Most of the iconic organic brands today have been bought and are now owned and controlled by the titans of the junk food industry.

Coca-Cola owns:
• Honest Tea
• Odwalla
• Zico Coconut Water
General Mills owns:
• Cascadian Farms
• Muir Glen
Pepsi owns:
• Naked Juice
Colgate now owns:
• Toms of Maine, the toothpaste company

Some say that it is a good thing that the natural foods industry is growing. Others say it is in danger of losing its very soul.

What goes through your mind when you see corporate America taking over the natural and organic food business?

These corporations like Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola and Monsanto and others poured 22 million dollars into fighting the GMO labeling battle. How does that make you feel that the profits that they are earning from the organic brands they now own are being used to fight our access to information?

Why are they fighting tooth and nail to keep this information from us?

We don’t all need to reach the same conclusions but there are beliefs that we all share. There are certain decencies that matter to all of us.

Do we choose to close our eyes and ears to it? Or do we choose to engage in it? These are not radical positions. They are not Democratic or Republican positions. They are not old or young or urban or rural positions. They are fundamental human concerns.

I have strong opinions and I hope that my kids will share my opinions but I wouldn’t insist on it. I am not trying to create an ethical replica of me and it is not to create somebody who acts on my beliefs. It is to help somebody to become an adult who can act on his beliefs. I want my kids to be aware of the choices that are in front of them, be aware of their ability to makes choices and to be confident when making choices that are outside of societal norms.

The extent to which there is corporate control of our food policy and of our food supply has massive implications to the health of the people. What bothers me the most is the enormous effort that food companies are doing to try and sell their products, regardless of the effects of their products on health.

I just want to say, though, that they are not out to poison the world. They will sell whatever sells.

Food choices – how we eat, what we eat and what we buy is a form of activism. When people buy organic, more farmers will produce organics. When people complained that tomato pickers weren’t getting paid enough money, Walmart raised their wage to a penny more per pound.

Think about women’s rights or even slavery. Slavery didn’t end because people started buying sugar-free foods. It happened because people advocated to make it unacceptable and to end it legally.

Anthony Gucciardi said, “There’s a reason that mega corporations like Monsanto are afraid of you, the activist. They know that despite their billions, despite their deception, that you as a consumer ultimately control their fate. Because by changing a single purchase at the grocery store, you change the world.”

So eat well. Be well. Vote with your fork!

Xo, Kristine

Free Workshop – Health Food Store Tour

The first time I ever went to a health food store it was a little intimidating. It is a whole different beast than mainstream grocery stores! I mean, they have a completely different set of foods. It is very important to keep in mind that even though it is a health food store, does NOT mean that everything in there is good for you. Even if it proudly displays a USDA Organic certified seal of approval on its packaging does not mean it deserves a place in my shopping cart.

I try to provide my family with as healthy of foods as I possibly can, but I know that to completely remove certain foods out of their diet is unrealistic. So I have scoured the grocery shelves and scrutinized the information on the packaging of chips, cookies, pastas, candies, pantry items, frozen foods and the personal care section to make sure that the damage is as little as possible.
Many times, I have stood in a grocery aisle and watched people stare at all the different brands of shredded coconut or canned goods trying to decide which one to buy and I have gladly offered my advice, much to their relief.

I know many people want to be healthy and they want to provide their families with the best food… but they need a little guidance. I want to share my knowledge with you so that you can do that and so that your money is spent in the best way possible.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, I will be holding a free workshop – a Health Food Store Tour at Sprouts in Woodland Hills on Saturday, September 27 at 11:30AM. If you are interested, please email me at theroguevegan@yahoo.com by Wednesday, September 24. We will stroll through the different aisles to discover which foods are the healthiest.

Transform your plate, transform your life.

Eat well. Be well. Vote with your fork!

Xo, Kristine

The Junk Food Generation

In my last post, Killing Me Sweetly – Breaking My Sugar Addiction, I talked about sugar’s addictive and toxic nature. I want to dive a little deeper with you into the subject of sugar because it is not just about sugar. It is also about our processed food epidemic.

We are the Junk Food Generation.

Everyone says that everybody should be able to choose what they put in their mouths. I agree 100%. The problem is that you have already been told what to put in your mouth by the food industry because of this change that has occurred over the past 40 years as processed foods and sweets have basically taken over the entire grocery store.

If you go into a supermarket pretty much anywhere in the country and you pick up an item with a food label, the odds are very high that it will have some form of added sugar – most likely high fructose corn syrup, but there are many others as well.

There are around 600,000 food items available in America and, according to the most recent data, 77% of those 600,000 items are laced with added sugar.

What this means is that people can’t find products that would actually be healthy because they have all been adulterated.
It actually limits choice. We need to be able to make choices as to whether to put it in our diet rather than the food industry deciding it for us.

The food industry now employs a whole new breed of mad food scientists that they call “craveability experts.” Their job is to invent addictive, hyper-palatable processed junk foods to ensure that their employer gets the biggest market share – what the insiders call “stomach share.”

If it is true that sugar and highly processed foods affect our brains in ways that drive addiction, then it seems to me that we must, at some point, face the moral question inherent in feeding our children and adults, for that matter, substances that kill more people than smoking, alcohol, cocaine and heroine combined.

A little sugar is okay and had been for generations, really for hundreds of years, but a lot is not.

We have a limited capacity to metabolize this stuff in the same way that we have a limited capacity to metabolize all poisons. The dose determines the poison.

The food industry has learned that when they put the right amount of sugar in any given food, we go hog wild. There are now neuroimaging studies that demonstrate this phenomenon. This hog wild phenomenon – which they call the “bliss point” – is where the dopamine (the pleasure neurotransmitter in our brain) is most active. The problem is not that it causes pleasure. The problem is that it down-regulates its own receptor, which means that the next time you get a hit, you need a larger dose in order to accomplish the same effect.

A new study published online in the journal Archives of Diseases in Childhood indicates that obese children and adolescents have less sensitive taste buds compared to their lean counterparts. The science shows that people who go off sugar redevelop tastes for other foods.

As processed food has taken over the grocery store, our taste buds and our health, there has been a tremendous increase in obesity and diabetes and other related disorders.

Why is sugar such a problem?

Sugar is empty calories – the only thing sugar provides us with are extra calories. But the food industry’s mantra is, “Well, you can get your extra calories wherever you choose. You can get it from carrots, you can get it from cheesecake, you can get it from Coca-Cola, because a calorie is a calorie and it doesn’t matter where those calories come from. Therefore, why would you pick on any individual food stuff or any individual food additive, for that matter, like sugar?”

If sugar were just empty calories, they would be exactly right. However, that is not what the data shows.

The science says something completely different because of the way sugar is metabolized.

The molecule in sugar called fructose, the sweet molecule in sugar, is metabolized by the liver, completely differently from the other molecule in sugar called glucose, which is the energy of life.

Because of the way fructose is metabolized and the amounts of sugar many of us are consuming today, it overloads your liver and causes liver fat to accumulate which then leads to all of the chronic metabolic diseases that we know about: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and likely cancer and dementia as well.

In America, 33% of Americans now have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Considering this was a disease that didn’t even exist in 1980, the fact that 33% of Americans now have it is the true epidemic. Many of them will go on to develop cirrhosis and ultimately either die of liver diseases or require a liver transplant.

Fatty liver disease comes from sugar consumption which then causes the pancreas to make extra insulin to make the liver do its job. That raises insulin all over the body. When your insulin is high, it drives all of those diseases and it drives weight gain.

This is the first generation of American children to live shorter lives than their parents.

Childhood obesity has nearly tripled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

Why is there so much sugar in our foods?

One of the answers to that is because the food industry learned that it is a preservative. It changes the water activity so that it is much less likely that foods will go stale. Because high fructose corn syrup is miscible in food, they can actually add more to extend its shelf life. It works for the food industry, but it doesn’t work for your health.

If sugar is costing society in a big way, shouldn’t we be doing something to intervene?

When you say that sugar is not just a guilty pleasure and it is not just the source of empty calories but it is a health disaster, you are going up against enormous industries with trillions of dollars at stake.

You are also going up against the resistance that each of us feels to giving up the highly sweetened foods that we have come to enjoy and may have come to be addicted to.

Is the food industry violating our health by adding so much sugar to the food products they sell to us? I would love to hear your thoughts on this by commenting in the box below! 🙂

Eat well. Be well. Vote with your fork!

Xo, Kristine

Killing Me Sweetly – Breaking My Sugar Addiction

About eleven years ago, when I was in college in Memphis, Tennessee, I did a speech in my Communications class that I endearingly titled, “Chocoholic”. It was about my addiction to chocolate – to sweets.

Sugar is my vice.

When I was a little girl, my mom used to keep chocolates in these plastic containers on the kitchen counter. I would sneak into the kitchen when no one was in there and eat most, if not all, of the chocolate. One time, I ate almost a whole bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and made myself so sick – fever and everything – my mom had to take me to the doctor. Ever since that doomed visit, chocolate was kept carefully hidden away. My addiction was so strong, however, that no matter how good a hiding spot my mom thought she had, I would search until I found my gold.

It has been a struggle. Especially today – sugar is in EVERYTHING. I cannot even have the tiniest taste without it turning into a full blown binge.

I now understand why.

The refinement of sugar cane was invented in India in 1300. When refined sugar was first sent to Europe in the 1600s it was considered an extremely potent drug. It was handled under lock and key only by the apothecaries, who were the druggist of the time.

In France, it was known as crack.

It became apparent that as soon as enough people were exposed to it, that it had the one characteristic that is the most appealing to businessmen – it was addictive. It was so marvelously addictive that they knew that if they could just get enough of it that their fortunes would be made many times over.

So they figured out how to produce it locally – the only way they could figure out how to do it locally was to start the slave trade. The slave trade was exclusively a sugar production mechanism.

And now we are the ones paying the price – we are the ones enslaved.

When did we start paying this price? In the U.S., where we didn’t have access to much sugar initially (it wasn’t a big industry), we had no heart disease until the 1930s. The first textbook written on heart disease was in 1933 by Dudley White, president Eisenhower’s doctor. Eisenhower was one of the first Americans to get heart disease.

What we have now are the diseases of malnutrition and toxicity, the degenerative diseases, in the diet.

Our weights remained quite ideal through the 60’s, but gradually our health started to deteriorate at the same time sugar consumption increased.

In 2000, the World Health Organization realized the damage that sugar was causing – there was a radical increase in ALL degenerative diseases, particularly diabetes, heart disease and cancer. After five years, they gathered the press from all over the world and made an announcement. They had ONE recommendation to make and it was, “Cut all sweetened foods below 10% of calories.” They were proposing a limit – no more than 250 calories of sugar a day.

This statement was on the front page of every major newspaper in Europe and the rest of the world. Except the U.S., and I think you can figure out why.

Researchers are now showing that, actually, sugar is four times more addictive than cocaine. It also affects the same area of the brain that heroine does.

Sugar is more toxic than alcohol – it kills 35 million people a year. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer – all associated with sugar consumption.

Let’s take tobacco, the bigger killer than alcohol, 5 million a year – this is worldwide.

In the case of sugar, United States’ citizens have been studied and our relapse rate is 97%, which makes it four times more additive than drugs or alcohol.

Sugar gets us high by raising glucose levels. Literally, a glucose high is a high, it feels good. When it plunges down afterward, that feels really bad and then we have to have more sugar. That is one of the addictive properties.

Chocolate – even without sugar – is an opiate, it is a stimulant. It is a very complex substance that is highly addictive in spite of the fact that it is a high source of magnesium and contains amino acids. I still eat chocolate but I choose high quality, organic dark chocolate with real cacao that is fair-traded and I limit myself to a one ounce serving a day. It is really important that if we choose to eat chocolate or meat or eggs or drink dairy that we eat or drink only the highest quality of these foods and it is something I will expand upon in another post.

So when I did my speech eleven years ago about being a chocoholic… chocolate junkie is not a joke. It is a literal fact!

Sugar is in practically EVERYTHING and I combat this addiction by staying away from processed foods and sticking to a whole foods diet. It is the only sure way of knowing what I am eating!

I hope this has helped you understand the addictive nature of sugar and how the food industry has cleverly created that “bliss point” when we eat their “foods” and keeps us coming back for more.

Eat well. Be well. Vote with your fork!

Xo, Kristine

Sowing The Seeds In Our Garden And In Our Children

I am getting very excited. The time I have been waiting for is soon approaching – planting for the fall and winter!

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I love gardening. I find it to be very therapeutic. It is an oasis of calm for me and a peaceful place of escape.

Studies have shown that gardening provides more than just food:

1) Promotes physical health and is a good source of full body physical activity
2) Promotes mental health through relaxation and satisfaction
3) Better nutrition
4) Shown to help dementia in seniors
5) Allows for more whole foods in place of processed ones

When I first started talking about planting a garden in my backyard a few years ago, people laughed! If you knew me then, I was definitely not a get-your-hands-in-the-dirt-and-bugs type of gal and I certainly did not have a green thumb. I killed a cactus once – it is very hard to kill a cactus!

So if I can do it, you certainly can! Even if you don’t have a backyard or much room, potted plants or small vertical gardens are great too! For those of you who use Pinterest, they have some great ideas on urban gardening. There are tons of books and magazines on organic gardening or you can download books onto your iPad, Kindle or mobile device or you can ask the people who work at your local nursery.

I wanted my family to have access to real, wholesome food that was free of pesticides and herbicides and whose genetic makeup was not altered in any way.

One of the biggest reasons I decided to plant a garden, however, is that I want my kids to learn how to appreciate the natural world around them. I want them to develop a sense of pride and responsibility by working the ground and watching it grow. It is a magical place for them and to see them pick the fruit off the plant, brush off the soil and take a bite, opens up a window in a world that is dominated by technology. I want them to have these childhood memories of not just gardening, but of being with mom and dad in the garden.

To eat something you produce is worthwhile, meaningful and empowering.

Food belongs to the people, not to the corporate food companies.

If any of you are looking for a reputable seed source, I recommend http://www.seedsnow.com. SeedsNow is 100% pure heirloom, 100% GMO-free and 100% natural non-hybridized. These seeds are so pure that you can plant them, save them after you harvest your crop and then replant the seeds!

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“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” -unknown

Eat well. Be well. Vote with your fork!

Xo, Kristine

Eat Seasonally, Eat Locally

I love going to farmers markets! In fact, I have an app on my phone called ‘Farmstand’ that I can just open up and it will show me all the farmers markets around me, no matter where in the world I am.

It saved me on our last camping trip this summer when I needed some fresh produce!

Or you can also visit http://www.localharvest.org to find one near you or even join a CSA.

With my foldable, two-wheeled grocery cart in tow (or my “old lady cart,” as my husband likes to call it) and a few totes in hand, I am like a kid in a candy store when I am at these things.

Farmers markets are so much fun, especially for the kids, and it is a great way to get involved and meet people in your community. The fruits and vegetables pale in comparison to store bought produce – it tastes way better, it is economical, sustainable, environmentally friendly and I get to support my local farmer.

Here are some of the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables that are organic, seasonal and grown locally:

1) They are picked at the peak of freshness and offer higher nutritional content than fruits and vegetables that are not in season.

Their full, whole flavor is intact, unlike foods that have to be transported – they must be harvested early and refrigerated so they do not rot on their journey. They don’t ripen as they would in their natural environment and, as a result, they do not develop their full flavor.

2) It reduces the number of miles your food has to travel before it reaches your plate. This helps cut back on the amount of fuel used, which reduces pollution. We protect our water, our air and our land.

Transporting fruits and veggies sometimes requires irradiation (zapping the produce with a burst of radiation to kill germs) and preservatives (such as wax) to protect the food.

3) Organic farmers use sustainable methods of growing that provide us with healthier food and do not expose us to toxic chemicals and GMOs (genetically modified organism). Their farming practices protect our health, our planet and our farmer’s health.

Fact: Did you know that the conventional farmer’s average life span is 49? And their children suffer from health problems or deformities from being exposed by the pesticides and the herbicides used on the farm.

4) They are priced much more economically, which saves you money and helps to grow your local economy!

Tremendous time, money and energy is spent to transport food all over the country and the world so that we have access to things like watermelon or zucchini or tomatoes all year round in our grocery stores. And if you buy organic, those bananas from Chile are not inspected (unless something is really off!) when they enter the country to make sure they meet organic standards.

5) Variety. We get to try something new every few months! Eating with the seasons provides our body with a myriad of important vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. So, be a little adventurous and next time you go to the grocery store or farmers market, throw a fruit or vegetable you’ve never had before in your cart! You may discover something you really like!

We need to honor the natural ebb and flow of nature. A change in the season means changes in what can be grown. It also means changes in what our body needs to thrive in that particular environment.

So check out your local farmers market! By eating seasonally, organic and locally, you will be rewarded with high quality produce that is packed with nutrition and at a lower cost. Your body and your taste buds will definitely thank you for it!

Know your food. Know your farmer. Eat well. Be well. Vote with your fork!

Xo, Kristine

Stay Hydrated with Celtic Salt

It’s the middle of August and it is hot. And when it’s hot, what are we told? Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water!

From the neck down, our body is 75% water and from the neck up, our body is 85% water. We have no reserve tank so the only water our body can use is the water we put in.

Our bodies will secrete about 2 1/2 liters of water a day so it is important that we replenish that loss.

Here’s what I like to do after a workout or if I’ve been sweating a lot: take a crystal or a pinch of Celtic salt, put it on your tongue, let it dissolve a bit and then drink a glass of water.

Why celtic salt?

Celtic salt is very moist because it contains three types of magnesium:
1) Magnesium sulphate
2) Magnesium chloride
3) Magnesium bromide

Magnesium is a very water hungry molecule. Wherever there is magnesium, water is drawn to that area.

So when you take that crystal of Celtic salt, put it on your tongue and drink a glass of water, the magnesium pulls the water into the cell. It is the fastest way to hydrate a dehydrated body!

Here’s the kind of Celtic salt I like to use
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Here’s a fun fact: Cleopatra found that the slaves worked harder if she gave them salt and water instead of just water. That’s because that salt gets that water into the cell and replaces the lost electrolytes.

Sodium is the main transport system of nutrients and water across the membrane lining of our cells. It is vital for our bodies to function! We are salty people. Our blood is salty, our tears are salty, the fluid that a baby swims in when he or she is in its mother’s womb is salty – it has the same mineral balance as salt water.

But we need to take sodium into our bodies as it is found in nature – in its balanced form – not from a factory where it is bleached and refined, aka table salt.

I will go into the difference between table salt and other salts, like Sea Salt, in another post and explain why table salt is a dangerous and slow poison.

Also, it’s important to note that if you are drinking a lot of water and urinating a lot, the water is not getting into your cells!

So go ahead and try it! I would love to hear from you guys! Let me know how it goes!

Xo, Kristine

Sauerkraut: A Superfood You Should Be Eating

The other day, I decided to make some raw, homemade sauerkraut, since it had been a while since I made any. It is one of the top foods I would recommend incorporating into your diet. 70% of your immune system lies in your gut so it is really important that we have the necessary bacteria present to fight off any pathogens that may enter our system.

Reasons I love using cabbage:
1) Unique cancer preventative properties with respect to bladder, colon and
prostate cancer.
2) Rich in antioxidants
3) Rich in anti-inflammatories

Cancer prevention tops all other areas of health research in regards to cabbage. It is impressive in terms of antioxidants, which is partly responsible for its cancer prevention benefits. You can also count on cabbage to provide cardiovascular support in reducing cholesterol. The fiber in cabbage binds to bile acids and when this happens, your liver replaces the lost bile by drawing upon your existing supply of cholesterol, and as a result, cholesterol levels drop.

Given the outstanding benefits of cabbage, when you ferment it or any other vegetable it becomes a superfood. To gain the benefits from sauerkraut, it MUST be made the traditional way and consumed raw.

Apart from its deliciously tangy flavor, sauerkraut offers remarkable health benefits. The fiber and lactic acid bacteria improve digestion and promote the growth of healthy gut flora, protecting against many diseases. It is low in calories, rich in enzymes and high in vitamin C. Sauerkraut has 200 times more vitamin C than the head of cabbage before fermentation!

Lactic acid is one of the most powerful antiseptics. It kills off tons of bacteria… so as the lactic acid starts producing, it kills off the putrefactive and pathogenic microbes and preserves the food. Another bonus to eating sauerkraut, is that it is higher in B vitamins than cabbage, particularly B12, making it an excellent food for vegans and vegetarians. The lactic acid produced by the bacteria actually “digests” the food, making sauerkraut extremely easy to digest and making the nutrients present more easily absorbed by the body.

In a 4-6 ounce serving of fermented vegetables there are literally ten trillion bacteria. That means 2 ounces of home fermented sauerkraut has more probiotics than a bottle of 100 count probiotic capsules. This means one 16 ounce of sauerkraut is equal to 8 bottles of probiotics!

Finnish researchers reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that the fermentation of cabbage produces compounds called isothiocyanates which protect against cancer.

So… if you’re feeling like you need a physical boost of wellbeing… TRY SOME! 🙂

Here’s a basic recipe I like to use to make sauerkraut:

You will need:
A large bowl
A glass jar
Cabbage
Kosher salt (the salt must not contain iodine, which inhibits bacterial growth)

To start, remove about 3 of the outer leaves and set aside.

Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Then slice the cabbage thinly. I like to use my mandolin.

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Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl, adding salt as you go. You want to use a tablespoon of salt (I like to use Celtic Salt) for every 2 pounds of cabbage (generally, a medium-sized cabbage)

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You can use a pounder to pound the cabbage but I like to use my hands and squeeze the cabbage to draw out the juice. You will see the cabbage become watery and limp.

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Pack the cabbage into the jar, pressing down on the cabbage with a wooden spoon while pouring the brine over the cabbage as you go.

Leave an inch or two of space from the top. Roll up the outer leaves that you set aside and place them on top of the sauerkraut to keep it submerged.

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Put the lid on the jar and place the container in a cool, dark place where it will not be disturbed.

Small batches can be finished in as little as 4 days. The time you want to ferment is up to you. I recommend at least 4 weeks for maximum probiotic benefit.

Once your sauerkraut is ready, store it in the refrigerator where it will last a very long time.

Enjoy!

Xo, Kristine