Vitamin D in the Winter

Are you getting enough Vitamin D this winter?  I recently got my vitamin D tested and I was surprised to find out I was just below the recommended range.  My doctor recommended a supplement especially throughout the winter months.  So I thought I’d do a little more research to see how lack of Vitamin D affected our body and mind…

There are two major forms of vitamin D – D2 and D3.  D3 is produced by ultraviolet irradiation (sun exposure), but can found in supplements.  This form of Vitamin D can be found in animals.  D2 on the other hand can be found in plants and chemically it goes through a similar process as the D3, found in animals.  Based on my research, there really isn’t much of a difference in which form  you are taking orally as long as you are taking one.  Of course I don’t necessarily like just running out and picking up supplements.  The easiest and most natural way to receive Vitamin D is through sun exposure.  However, during this time of year the days are shorter and there are less opportunities for sunshine, especially if you are like me and spend 8 hours in an office building a day.  Please talk to your doctor first before starting to take any supplements.  There is a slight risk of overdosing on Vitamin D (orally), however you cannot overdose on sunlight exposure vitamin D.  In fact, its recommended to get 15-20 minutes of unprotected (i.e. no sunscreen, bare arms and legs) sun exposure every day!  This seems kind of contradictory when doctors are always recommending sunscreen daily but this is the best way to get your daily Vitamin D.

I’ve been taking my supplement for about a month now and I’m making more of an effort to get outside at least 20 minutes every day for some sunshine.  I recommend getting yours checked as well!  I consider myself an outdoor person and never thought that I’d be low on this important vitamin. Here are some additional interesting facts about Vitamin D and how you can get it through different dietary sources:

Low levels of Vitamin can result in:

  • Poor Bone Health
  • Increased risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Increased risk for cancer
  • Decreased Nerve and Muscle function
  • Depression
  • Mortality

Besides taking a Vitamin supplement you can find Vitamin D in the following dietary sources:

  • Fatty Fish (salmon, canned tuna in oil,  eel, catfish)
  • Whole Egg
  • Beef Liver
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Other foods fortified with Vitamin D

Resources: www.livestrong.com, http://voices.yahoo.com/vitamin-d-deficiency-increase-foods-high-vitamin-9134203.html?cat=5, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_d.

Review: Broccoli Fries

I love trying new foods especially when they are healthy alternatives to some of my favorite foods.  I’m not a huge French fry fan but my husband loves sweet potato fries.  And since I have a growing boy who is obsessed with everything we eat, I know he too will probably love sweet potato fries (he already loves mashed sweet potatoes).  On our weekly trip to Sprouts I have noticed this product in the freezer section.  Each week I have waited till it went on sale and finally this past week it did!  I baked them according to the directions and served them with a couple tbsp of Ketchup.

Cute name for Broccoli Fries!

Here is the nutrition label:

Not too bad!

Right out of the oven:

broccoli fries and ketchup

Review: B+

They don’t taste anything like real French fries.  But the flavor is good and especially good with the ketchup.  I don’t think I’d eat them without something to dip in.  The package also suggests hummus, but I didn’t have any hummus in the house to try it with.  The texture is not as crispy as a regular French fry (even the kind you buy in the frozen section).  They taste healthy but I personally don’t think that means they taste bad.  And you get quite a few for a serving size which I always love!  Overall, we will be purchasing these again, especially as Bode starts to try new foods and textures.  I’m all about finding new and creative ways to get him to like all types of vegetables.

I just thought this was interesting… I pasted below Nutrition Facts for Broccoli Tempura… Now tell me what’s the better choice?:


Nutrition Facts

  Servings Per Recipe: 4
  Serving Size: 1 serving

Amount Per Serving

  Calories 348.7
  Total Fat 0.2 g
      Saturated Fat 0.0 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 18.0 mg
  Potassium 216.9 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 3.5 g
      Dietary Fiber 2.0 g
      Sugars 0.0 g
  Protein 2.0 g

Have you had your vegetables today?

As you know from previous posts I have been getting my weekly bunch of organic, locally grown produce through Abundant Harvest Organics.  I have been good at eating most, if not all the produce that I have been given but I thought it would be fun to break it down so you can see how many opportunities there are in this little box.

Here is some before pictures of all the yummy produce I received this week and a list of the items and what I made this week:

1)      Oranges

  1. Orange Juice Daily (fresh from the kitchen aid mixer attachment)

2)      Beets

  1. Baby food

3)      Spinach

  1. Condiment for organic beef tacos
  2. Smoothies

4)      Carrots

  1. Baby food
  2. Roasted Carrots

5)      Tangelos

  1. Recipe – Tangelo Scones

6)      Potatoes

  1. Recipe – Mashed Potatoes

7)      Parsnips

  1. Roasted Parsnips

8)      Cilantro

  1. For  – Fish tacos with Guacamole

9)      Garlic

  1. Spinach and garlic mini quiches

Product Review: Beaba (baby food maker)

This was one of my favorite gifts that my girlfriends gave me for my shower (Thanks Katie, Jen, and Melissa!)

Surprise!

The best friends a girl (mama) could ask for!

I couldn’t wait to use it and make my own baby food, especially now that I get a box of fresh, organic, locally grown produce each week.  At first I was intimidated by all the parts but then I realized it was going to be super easy.  First you fill the top with water (follow booklet to see exactly how much but in most cases up to the 3rd line on the main container).   Then you but the strainer inside the main container and fill it to the top with clean produce.  Snap the top on and turn on the steam button. The steam feature takes about 15 minutes and once it’s done you take the produce out of the strainer and put it straight into the main part where the blade is.  Keep the remaining water in the bottom of the strainer to make it easier to blend the food.  Then you turn on the blender and your food goes from steamed to puréed.  So far we have made collard greens, beets, carrots… he will only be eating vegetables at first and then we can incorporate some fruits.  Being that I work full-time, the key will be to make at least a week’s worth of food on the weekend, freeze it, and then defrost pre-portioned amounts of food each night.   My little man is a good eater so I’m hoping that it will continue as we introduce new foods to his diet.  He didn’t really care for the collard greens, and at 28 years old, I had never tried Collard Greens in my life up until this past month, I have to say I wasn’t a fan the first time around.  But I am willing to try a new recipe and hope that that one will be a winner.  If you have that mindset for all new foods, you may surprise yourself and find something healthy that tastes really good.  There’s always more than one way to prepare everything, unless you’re a baby.  I guess Bode will have to wait till he’s older to try collard greens prepared another way besides puréed

Overall Grading – A

This is the perfect product for someone that doesn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen and prefers to feed their baby homemade baby food (whether that be for cost or health issues).  I can’t speak to the price of the product since it was a gift, but I’m sure in the long run this will end up saving you both time and money vs. the other baby food options.  I just hope this food processor lasts throughout the next 6+ months, I may just have to do a follow up blog to let you know!

Namaste

Carrots

The First Bite! (Collard Greens)

A little deceiving since he disliked the collard greens, but my baby is just a happy boy!

 

The Beaba in action (steam setting)

Locally grown, organic produce in a box – YUM!

My new dinner inspiration(s) are coming from my new favorite purchase – Abundant Harvest Organics… Fresh, organic, local produce boxed up and delivered weekly.  Each week I get to enjoy some new and some old favorites both fruits and vegetabales.  This week I received:

1A-Mandarin Oranges
1A-Oranges
1A-Tangelos
1B-Potatoes
1B-Spinach
1B-Artichokes
1B-Carrots
1B-Lavender
1B-Winter Greens
1B-Winter Squash
1B-Shallots

Beautiful Greens

I can’t wait to teach Bode about the importance of color on our plates!  How many different colors did you have in your last meal?

Namaste

Cheese-tastic!

I love cheese because it tastes good on almost anything but regular cheese made from cow’s milk isn’t the best choice for our diets.  I’ve been reading a lot of articles about how we shouldn’t eat dairy.  Yes, I have a degree in Nutrition but since it is such a new science, new studies come out every day.  This was one of the things I loved about college because I was growing as a student along with the science that I was learning about.  Studies show that about 75% of the population cannot genetically digest dairy (lactose intolerance).  Many people might say, “We need 2-3 servings of dairy in our diet, the USDA recommends it in the food guide pyramid, to help prevent diseases like Osteoporosis”…

My little model with both cheese varieties

However, recent studies have shown that the  truth is, there has been little or no success in preventing osteoporosis by eating dairy products. As Americans, we consume excessively large quantities of calcium, yet the risk of osteoporosis continues to threaten millions of Americans. Most people are not aware that the US already has one of the highest calcium intakes in the world. Calcium deficiency caused by an insufficient amount of calcium is not known to occur in humans, even though most people in the world don’t drink milk after they are babies. In fact, nations with the highest levels of dairy consumption are the same nations with the highest rates of osteoporosis.  So you might say, “why not try soy milk or soy cheese?”  I disagree with that choice as well because soy can cause problems to our hormone levels.  Soy is one of the largest genetically modified foods and has one of the highest percentages contamination by pesticides of any of our foods.  Soy has now been linked to cause cancer, lower libido, cause thyroid problems in babies, and many other side effects.  So I went on a quest to find a good cheese not made from soy or dairy at whole foods I found the following two choices (I made 2 separate quesadillas with whole wheat tortillas):

Sample #1 made from tapioca

tapioca cheese alternative

Brand Name:  Daiya

Flavor:  Mozzarella

Melting consistency: very good and it even stretches like real cheese

Smell: it smells like cheese but in a way that you can tell its not REAL cheese

Taste: yummy, not too strong but a nice flavor

Cost: $5.99 for the package (pre-shredded)

Overall Grade: B+

Sample #2 made from almonds

almond cheese alternative

Brand Name:  The Original Almond Cheese

Flavor:  Monterrey Jack-Jalapeno

Melting consistency: it melts and sticks to the tortilla but isn’t stretchy like real cheese

Smell: no smell except for the Jalapeno flavoring

Taste:  delicious, especially because of the flavoring

Cost:  $3.99 (on Sale) for the package

Overall Taste: B

Overall I would not eat these cheeses by themselves but they each have their own taste and flavor to add to a meal.  I could see baking some yummy casseroles or even trying some homemade pizza with the tapioca cheese alternative.  Although I didn’t grade either cheese with an ‘A’ I think its about changing mindset regarding ‘cheese’ and I think both of these are a hit!

Namaste

Holistic Mom’s Group – Raw Dairy

Last week I participated in my first Holistic Mom’s Group here in Santa Clarita.  I decided to attend to learn new approaches to parenting.  Most books and websites only guide you towards the mainstream way of parenting.  The topic this week was on raw dairy.  I knew a few people through my husband (who was once a personal trainer) that ate a raw diet and I myself tried it for about a day.  It is really difficult to find enough foods to eat since I like a variety in my diet.  And in the SCV the only place to purchase such foods is at Whole foods which can be very expensive. 
The reason people eat a raw diet is because cooking food kills enzymes. Enzymes help you digest your food. Your body can create enzymes but that process takes a lot of energy. This process makes you feel tired and heavy after a cooked food meal. Further, the enzymes your body makes are not as efficient and effective as the ones that were destroyed in your food. Consequently, your food is not broken down as well and thus harder to digest. Cooking foods also changes the pH of the food and makes food acidic.  Eating acidifying food makes your body a welcome feeding ground for disease.  Cooking foods can also destroy most vitamins.  (to learn m ore go to http://www.thebestofrawfood.com/raw-food-diet.html)


One of the leaders talked about developing your own raw milk formula, if you decided not to breastfeed your child and also showed us how to make our own raw cheese and butter from raw cream.  It was surprisingly easy and delicious!  I however don’t know if this will fit into my lifestyle now that I am a working mom but it was great to learn about some different options.  My son is currently fed about 1/3 breast milk and 2/3 organic formula (cow’s milk based), and soon enough he’ll be eating solids which I’m looking forward to making his food from scratch.  Back to the Holistic Mom’s Group… I decided I would pay the $45/annual fee to sign up for this group and attend the meetings.  The next topic is regarding cloth diapers, which is another topic that I don’t think applies to me but I’m definitely interested in learning more about!

Namaste