The Price of Organic

Nutrition & Good Eats

We eat organic.

We use pure, chemical free products at home.

Make-up, cleaners, toothpaste, deodorant, diapers, lotions, shampoos, you name it.

Sure, every time I walk through the check stand after grocery shopping I cringe because, according to Parker, “Mommy spends too much money!” There most definitely is a heftier price tag on purchasing organic food and products, but is the extra cost as bad as so many people make it out to be?

It would be quite the challenge to put together an accurate number on exactly how much we spend each month on groceries. And not just food alone, but everything we use on a daily basis for the life we live. Or how much more we spend on homeopathic and natural remedies to add to our medicine cabinet, because, you guessed it! We go natural there too.

Here is my mindset:

The average amount that people spend on medical bills because of illnesses that could be prevented by better food choices, is through the roof! Food alone, really can be what cures or kills you.

Even if you’ve got stellar insurance, there are copays, and deductibles, and those vary. Our deductible is very high, so in order for insurance to kick in, we have to fork out $5000 first. And after some digging, I found that the average yearly deductible for families across America is $8352. That’s a lot of money! So even if we spend $500 more than the average person a month in grocery bills because of purchasing organic, that’s $6000 a year which is still less than that $8352 deductible. (No not our $5000 deductible, but who’s to say the doctor bills would stop there? We are so healthy, I can’t even imagine what it would be like if we had to continually see a doctor.)

We are never sick.

Rarely.

And in our 3 and 1/2 years of parenthood, we have been so blessed, and only had to worry about two times the children were sick. (ear infections, dang it.) I know people whose kids couldn’t kick the cold this last winter. We have family members that always seem to be “getting a cold” or down with some sort of icky. I don’t want to push our luck, but we’ve never had a child throwing up, which is HUGE! Chalk it all up, and it comes down to what you eat and what you put in or on your body, and the way you live your life.

I truly believe that.

Strictly talking about food here for a minute…read the studies that link genetically modified foods, as well as pesticides, and chemical sprays to obesity.

Obesity alone causes a handful of issues. There is diabetes, heart disease, risk of stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, gallbladder disease and gallstones, gout, osteoarthritis, asthma and breathing disorders, high cholesterol, and that’s before even bringing up the problems and imbalances that arise because you cannot move your body the way it should. Mobility issues, joint issues, and overall function may be compromised and lead to more serious problems because of obesity.

In my opinion, why are people so obese today?

Processed foods. Chemicals in or on our foods. And the very sad side-note that people are overall generally unaware of what problems they are creating by consuming such products.

Sure there are other factors, don’t get me wrong. But these are both big deals.

Do the research. There are countless articles, books, and documentaries that explain the connection between obesity (and all its glory) and eating foods that have been genetically modified, overly processed, and/or sprayed with multiple insecticides, pesticides, or other chemical “enhancements”.

beyond-gm.org/eat-gmos-get-fat/

http://www.naturalnews.com/045247_GMOs_weight_gain_obesity.html

htps://fitapproach.com/the-lifestyle-epidemic-obesity-and-gmo-foods-in-america/

Food Inc

Diabetes, a biggy. Researchers using a simulation model have put a price on the direct medical costs of treating diabetes and its complications, during a lifetime in the US. The figure ranges from around $55,000 to $130,000, depending on age at diagnosis and sex.  That’s an average of $92,500. (a lifetime…which is hard to break down because of so many factors)

The average spent in one year per person with cardiovascular disease comes to $18,953. The US spends on average $450 BILLION a year on cardiovascular disease treatment, medication and lost productivity from disability.

Newly approved cancer drugs cost an average of $10,000 per month, with some therapies topping $30,000 per month. That comes to a whopping $120,000-$360,000 a year! That’s an average of $240,000 a year. That’s just on the drugs, not including doctors visits etc.

The estimated annual cost for treating asthma in children younger than 18 in the US is $3.2 billion. I could not find an accurate number for a yearly treatment cost, but these are your children we are talking about! There is NO PRICE that is acceptable when it comes to the life we give our children. Childhood obesity is linked directly to asthma and other breathing problems.

The moral of the story is, I in no way think our family is paying for an unnecessary way of life. I believe that after doctors’ visits, pharmaceutical costs, and ongoing other therapies needed for whatever issues it might be, us eating clean and organic and visiting the doctor maybe once a year is worth it. And in the long run, we don’t have any intentions of changing our routine, so for years to come, I pray we continue to have good health if we take care of ourselves.

I’ve learned to shop bargains, and even if it means going to multiple stores, farmers markets, and ordering online…I’ve found where we can get the best deals for the products we love and trust. AND, the best part of shopping around, is also noticing that more stores are broadening their organic horizons and the prices are actually coming down for certain things. So, there is maybe a light at the end of the tunnel. More and more people are realizing the many benefits (instead of the costs) of being organic and making the switch.

The fear of creating a life for my children that might leave them undernourished, unaware, and unhealthy…I can’t live with that. What I can live with is the challenge of costly organics.

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Where we shop to save a little money when we aren’t shopping locally:

  1. http://www.luckyvitamin.com
    They have so many great products, and when it comes to gluten free (breads especially) they are the cheapest by far. We have also bought body wash, deodorant, diapers, spices, protein powder, essential oil diffusers, and other household items from Lucky Vitamin and have been pleased with what we get.
  2. Costco
    Believe it or not, we get most of our bulk organic items here. From canned foods, to quinoa, to juice boxes. They have an ever growing selection of organic and non-gmo products.
  3. Amazon
    Again, we can buy a wide range of items, and being that we are prime members, they get shipped and delivered fast. Not always are the prices cheaper, so we always double check before purchasing.

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**Note that I in no way judge anyone’s parenting techniques and I do understand that sometimes you can only do what you can. We only do what we can. I only want to share knowledge and my opinion. Please do not take offense if you do not live the same way I do, because I would never mean to come across as judgy. I only hope to encourage others to make even the tiniest changes to better their lives.**

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Zouppa My Way

Nutrition & Good Eats

zouppa

Zouppa.

You know, the Italian sausage, kale soup you can find at Olive Garden and other Italian restaurants? The one that is savory and warm and fitting for a rainy day? Well, we’ve been experiencing our fair share (and then some) of rainy days here on the southern Oregon coast, so this soup sounded particularly good yesterday.

After posting a preview into my dinner plans yesterday, I had a handful of people asking about how I made my version of this soup.

So here it is, Zouppa, my way!

Bear with me, I don’t follow recipes or directions well, so if you’re looking for precise measurements, you should find another recipe.

I begin by deciding on organic, clean ingredients. 

You will need:

  1. a large yellow onion
  2. 2-3 garlic cloves
  3. a package of uncured bacon (I chose turkey bacon this time because it’s what I had in my freezer)
  4. two packages of Italian, chicken sausage links (I prefer links over ground meat)
  5. a package of frozen, whole green beans
  6. about 6-8 red potatoes, depending on size (diced into about 1 inch cubes)
  7. a bunch of kale (don’t purchase pre-cut because the stems are woody and hard to pick out. You can break the leaves off the stems yourself when you buy a bunch)
  8. home canned chicken broth (or an organic free-range version…2-3 cartons)
  9. 1/2 and 1/2 (I prefer half and half over full, heavy cream)

First, chop up both the bacon and the sausage into little bite-size piece. Dice up the onion and mince the garlic. Throw those all into a big soup pan. Lid them, and let them simmer and begin to mesh together.

Once the base of the soup starts smelling delicious, and before you overcook the onion and garlic, add the broth. At this point, I bring the soup the a boil. (If you’re in a hurry, from here you can continue to finish the soup, or you can chose to let the soup simmer instead of boil and let the spices come together a little longer.)

Add the potatoes and green beans.

After the potatoes have softened, but not completely fallen apart, add the kale.

Allow your soup to stop boiling before you add the half and half. You don’t want your milk products to curdle, so this step in important. However, I have had this happen, and I will tell you from experience, the soup still tasted great! The looks of it wasn’t as pleasing though.

I don’t add many spices because the Italian sausage and bacon bring a lot of flavor, however I do add cracked pepper.

And viola! You may serve your soup!

If you’d like, top with a light shaving of hard parmesan cheese and dig in!

I think what I love about this soup most, besides how easy it is, is having it for lunch the next day. ALWAYS make an extra large batch because it heats up well.

(Below are the two meat products I used, but there are many other brands I would trust as well. We have tried this recipe with our homemade elk Italian sausage, and though I love our homemade sausage, it wasn’t my favorite in this soup.)

sausageturkey bacon

Spring Clean Your Diet

Nutrition & Good Eats

I dare you to take a good look at what your grocery list most commonly looks like. What are the foods you most frequently buy? What foods do you keep at home on a daily basis?

What you eat speaks volumes for where your health is (or could be) and it’s all too easy to fall into a poor routine because of convenience, lack of knowledge or habit.

I know for me personally, I have to keep healthy, fresh foods on hand at all times because my kids and I all snack and eat all day, and I will admit, I’m a control freak when it comes to making sure my babes eat a balanced diet. They see what mom eats. They want what mom eats. So mom better eat good. Also, I know I feel better when I eat better…..it’s basic math. Or something.

It’s taken a couple years of establishing our “go-to/must-have” list of foods. Possibly because we haven’t been established in one location for long enough to fully move in anywhere. Maybe because we have had a number of life-changing events happen. Either way, we are here now.

(in no particular order)

1. Bananas

2. Avocados

3. Almond milk

4. Yogurt

5. Peanut butter

6. Eggs

7. Salad supplies (spinach/romaine/cucumber/tomato/bell pepper/carrot etc)

8. Oatmeal

9. Onions and garlic

10. Elk/Deer meat (We have our freezers full, this isn’t on our grocery list.)

11. Convenenient baby food pouches

12. Kombucha and probiotic drinks **EDITED TO ADD, COULDN’T LEAVE THIS OUT!**

13. And let’s be honest….Cabernet

We eat organic and non-gmo and promote clean eating as much as we can. However I also know how expensive it is and understand it is not something everyone can or wants to do. Regardless of being organic or not, I would say this is a decent list of must haves. A list I can be proud of.

Now, can you be proud of your list? Or is there room to improve?

Spring is the perfect time to start cleaning out what needs to go!

 

 

Cancer Causing Foods to Avoid

Nutrition & Good Eats

Cancer.

Such a horrible word, and a disease that has most definitely influenced almost everyone in one form or another. My Grandmother recently passed of it, as did my Uncle last year, and it’s the swear word you hear all too often in bad news.

There are many reasons cancer is given the ability to thrive in peoples’ bodies. Bad habits, genetics, the foods we eat, the environment we live in…

The truth is, not everyone can change everything about their lives in order to prevent cancer. But there are things you CAN do…choices you CAN make on your own.

So what can we do to prevent it? What’s a good FIRST STEP for those who are not accustomed to living a natural life? If you’re not sure how to cut out chemicals in your home and swap them for essential oils, or you can’t quite kick smoking or your use of tobacco, or you’re not able to make your diet organic and clean…there are a hand full of foods you can try to stay clear of to possibly help lower your chances of developing cancer.

If we are strictly talking foods to avoid, start here:

  1. Refined and artificial sugars and High Fructose Corn Syrup
  2. Processed meats
  3. Pickled/Smoked foods
  4. White flour
  5. Hydrogenated oils
  6. Farmed salmon

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White sugar is in my opinion the number one cancer promoter in the average person’s diet. It is everywhere. (Candy is the obvious culprit, but soda, jams, and many prepared and prepackaged meals have added sugar in them) And when you add in the “sugar free” or “zero calorie” sweeteners, those are just as bad. I do not have a sweet tooth like my husband does, but when he indulges in sweets, they are homemade, with organic cane sugar, or coconut sugar, and we use the purest of ingredients we can find locally. If you are able to cut out white sugar from your diet, that is a big first step!

Processed meats include:

  • Lunch meat
  • Salami
  • Bacon
  • Hot dogs
  • Anything with added nitrates and/or nitrites and meats that have been cured.

**When we buy bacon or ham we ALWAYS make sure it is uncured, and does not have any added nitrates/nitrites as well as no hormones or antibiotics ever used in the animal before it was butchered.**

Pickled and smoked foods again, the preservatives and nitrites and nitrates…gross. Try home canning pickles, it’s actually an easy process. We do purchase pickles now and then, but we are picky in choosing which ones.

Lucky for us, I am gluten free and don’t use wheat flour to begin with, so our family doesn’t eat much of it either. When they do, it is unbleached and fully organic and non-genetically modified. Without going into too much detail, wheat is not what it used to be. 

Foods high in hydrogenated oils:

  • Margarine
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Packaged snacks such as chips and baked goods
  • Ready-to-use dough
  • Fried foods
  • Peanut and other nut butters
  • Coffee creamers
  • And many many many other foods

Last but not least, farmed salmon…I am a big believer in no farmed fish for many reasons. Salmon are meant for ocean and river life. It is how they have always been. You take  one of God’s beautiful creations and decide to farm it for “production” (which in my mind means profit) and you modify it’s genes to better suit your agenda and you all of a sudden don’t have what once was a pure being. Not to mention farmed fish means they are treated with antibiotics, and the omegas and proteins found in farmed fish are not the same of those in the wild.

Small changes to begin with… but it means the beginning to a healthier life. Not only are you reducing your risk of cancer, but you are most likely going to FEEL better. Feeling better helps motivate you for making other healthy choices.

It’s a win-win.

Eating Healthy on the Road

Nutrition & Good Eats

I see no rest in sight for our busy “go-go-go” lives! I am definitely learning to adapt and find ways to keep our healthy lifestyle even when we are busy with projects or on the road. This week we had to make a two day trip, which entailed two doctors appointments, two planned errands, a handful of unplanned errands, and a total of 10+ hours in the car with a three year old and a one year old.

While traveling, most parents would say “Hit that next drive-through and continue on the road so we can get this over with!” Am I right?!

Not us. We were fully prepared.

See, I am that mom that stresses if I cannot provide a balanced, nutritious diet to my family. I am that mom that worries if her kids have gotten enough greens, and also if they have all been organic. I am that woman who knows that for myself, I must be prepared because making last minute decisions leads to regret and an uncomfortable belly. Not to mention, I am also that woman who doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg eating out for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for two nights! For a family of four, that adds up to hundreds of dollars real quick.

So how do we do it?

First of all, I ask for help. The day before we leave I sent the kids to Grammy’s house and while they were there I cleaned out the car, packed, and prepared food. I made a packing list so I knew I wasn’t forgetting anything.

My food list looked something like this:

  1. Breakfast: gluten free banana pancakes made and put into the fridge. All we needed to do was heat them up and apply peanut-butter.
  2. Almond milk
  3. Snacks: fruit strips, greek yogurt, apples, banana chips, fig-bars, sliced carrots and pepperjack cheese, cucumber slices, teething crackers, and garlic multi-grain crackers for the boys.
  4. Drinks: kombucha, juice boxes, and black coffee
  5. Lunch: pre-packaged salads, with additional avocado **Typically I make these at home with grilled chicken, however I bought pre-made organic chicken salads because they were on sale, and this made my job much easier for this trip.**
  6. Dinner: Leftovers. **I knew we would be traveling, so for the previous couple nights I intentionally made extra dinners that would be easy to heat and re-serve.**

The one stop we made for food was on our way home, and we expected it. We found lunch at a natural food store that happened to have a deli. For the four of us, our lunch and drinks came to a whopping $19.00! (Not bad ey?!)

So say “No way!” to the ever-tempting fast-food restaurants. I know convenience is a big deal to many, especially to us busy moms…but planning ahead (in my opinion) gives just as much convenience. Not to mention, we got to picnic and enjoy our prepared meals as a family in parks, so the kids could also get out energy along the way. There was no waiting in a busy line for 10+ minutes because EVERY SINGLE drive through is always WAY TOO busy!

So, although a bit tired, we arrived home feeling good about not over-spending, and also about fueling our bodies with healthy foods. The kids actually slept in the car, which makes everyone’s day a little more enjoyable.

Now, here’s to planning the next road trip!