Monthly Archives: April 2011

Organic Strawberries $1.99/lb at Whole Foods

27 Apr
by Kristen, posted in Uncategorized   |  2 Comments


While getting my green juice at Whole Foods this week, I saw a great deal that I wanted to share with you.  If you remember my post,
“Eating Organic on a Budget,” strawberries were listed as one of the top heavily sprayed foods.  It is very important to either pick your own strawberries from a trusted farm or to buy them organic due to the high amounts of pesticides used on them.

This Friday, April 29, 2011, Whole Foods will be selling organic strawberries for $1.99 per pound.  This is a great price that you won’t want to pass up.  Stock up and freeze extras for delicious smoothies for the summer!

Here is a summer strawberry recipe from Whole Foods:

Strawberry Melon Gazpacho

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 cups (1-inch cubes) cantaloupe
2 cups (1-inch cubes) seedless watermelon
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 pound organic strawberries, hulled, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Method

Place cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber, half of strawberries, and lime juice in a food processor and blend until puréed. Chop remaining strawberries and stir into the soup. Refrigerate until chilled.

Photo Credit

http://naturallyfreerd.com/2011/04/05/eating-organic-on-a-budget/

Allergy Season-Tips for Relief

26 Apr
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  9 Comments


Are you one of millions of Americans who are struggling through allergy season?  You just want to enjoy being outside without all the sneezing, itching, and congestion.  Ragweed, which is the largest culprit in seasonal allergies, grows faster as carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere, according to the National Wildlife Federation and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.  That being said, there is also much evidence showing that the pollen count is rising in parts of the U.S., as well as allergenic trees such as oaks and hickories.

Allergies cause an inflammatory response in the body.  For example, when pollen enters your nasal passages and lands on your mucous membranes, histamines are released.  These histamines set off a host of reactions to get rid of the intruder, such as sneezing, itching, watery eyes, etc.  Another reaction for some people is swelling in the bronchial tubes, which makes it difficult to breathe.

Personally, I have struggled with seasonal allergies for as long as I can remember.  I also suffered from chronic sinus infections, which would lead to secondary bacterial infections and a round of antibiotics.  I hated the feeling of constantly feeling sick and not being able to breathe.  Every night during allergy season, I would have to put eucalyptus oil under my nose to clear my sinuses.  I grew up sticking my head over a pot of an herb solution that my mom made up for me so I could find relief.  In college, I was so desperate for a quick fix that I popped Claritin or Zyrtec on a regular basis and still never got complete relief.  Today, I’m happy to say that I’m symptom free.  No more sinus infections or seasonal allergy issues, and I feel great!  The main solution was in my diet: I took away inflammatory foods.

TIPS TO BEAT ALLERGIES NATURALLY:
The goal is to build up the immune system by avoiding inflammatory foods and enjoying anti-inflammatory foods.

1. During allergy season, avoid sugary products and grains, especially wheat as these foods worsen your allergies.

2. Avoid or limit pasteurized dairy products. Some people may need to be completely casein free (the protein found in milk).

3. Eat more raw fruits & vegetables, which will improve your immune system. Raw foods contain more enzymes, which are essential for the digestive system to work.  Heating foods to a high temperature kills the enzymes, and a lack of digestive enzymes can be a factor in food allergies.  For many people, the underlying cause of seasonal allergies are food sensitivities and food allergies.  Your body (nasal passages, sinuses, etc) may already be inflamed and the seasonal pollen and other triggers only worsen this inflammation.  A food allergy blood test, which can test over 350 potential allergens, may be beneficial for you.  You may not have any food allergies or sensitivities, but most people find that if they at least eliminate wheat and dairy, they see remarkable differences in their symptoms.  Mine completely disappeared when I eliminated these 2 common allergenic foods.  Try it for a few weeks, and let me know how you feel.

4. Eat raw, local honey daily.  The reason why local is so important is that the bees in your area are traveling from flower to flower, collecting nectar from the same plants that are causing your allergy problems.  By eating raw honey from the bees in your area, you are building your body’s immune response to these plants.

5. Of course it’s best to eat foods high in these nutrients, but if that’s hard for you, then take these supplements:

  • Quercetin: Natural plant-derived bioflavonoid that helps to prevent mast cells from releasing histamine.  Foods high in this compound are: citrus fruits, apples, onions, broccoli, and parsley. However, allergy sufferers usually need supplemental form. Start taking supplement before allergy season for better protection.  (500-1,000 mg per day)
  • Vitamin C:  Powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system
  • Vitamin D: Most people’s levels are low.  Get your levels checked & aim for a goal of 65.
  • Bromelain: Found in pineapple. It’s a proteolytic enzyme that reduces inflammation.
  • Probiotic:  Puts good bacteria in your gut

So if you’re miserable during allergy season, there is hope for you.  You can overcome these allergies, naturally.  Happy Spring!

Naturally Yours,
xoxoxo
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN

 

Hot Yoga-Is it Really That Great?

18 Apr
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  4 Comments

Many of you know that I do hot yoga as a form of exercise.  A lot of you ask me, “What is hot yoga and is it really that good for you?”  Let me start off by saying that I have experienced the benefits of hot yoga, and I’m hooked!  My entire life, I’ve been a huge cardio junkie and never cared for yoga because it was too slow and I never felt like I was getting a good work out.  I didn’t give yoga enough of a chance, and my perceptions were definitely wrong.

My first hot yoga class was last September (2010) at Hot Yoga Nashville, and I can’t say that the first class was amazing because it was hard getting used to working out in the heat.  Yet, the feeling I had afterwards is honestly what brought me back again and again.  The more that you go, the better it feels.  It’s hard to describe to you, so you should try to experience it for yourself.  The month of January, I did hot yoga 4-5 times a week.  That month, I felt better, my mood was lifted, my stress levels were diminished dramatically, and I had so much more energy.  After the month was over, I went to the gym to lift weights, and when I started doing lunges with dumbbells, I couldn’t believe how easy they were.  Right then, I realized just how much hot yoga had strengthened my legs.  Hot yoga is one of the ways I de-stress when life gets overwhelming.  It’s very important that you have an outlet for your stress because the toll it takes on your body can be extremely harmful.  The effects of stress are listed here.

What is Hot Yoga?
Hot yoga is a scientifically-designed series of postures that systematically stimulate the muscles, organs and glands, as well as the nervous system. As you progress through the postures, you move freshly-oxygenated blood throughout the entire body.  The studio is heated to approximately 100°-105° so that your muscles are warmed, which helps prevent injury, and it allows you to go deeper into the stretches/poses.  Sweating helps to cleanse your body from toxins through the skin.

Benefits of Hot Yoga:
Yoga builds strength and flexibility to the entire body.  “A recent study at the University of California at Davis found that 90 minutes of yoga practice four times a week over eight weeks increased muscular strength up to 31%, muscular endurance up to 57%, and flexibility up to 188% in a group of healthy college students.”  The average calorie burn is 600-800 per class.  People who practice frequently lose inches of fat, develop muscle tone, and increase strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination.  Many athletes with injuries practice hot yoga in hopes to avoid surgery by strengthening their muscles, ligaments, and tendons.  Runners love hot yoga as they are able to shave seconds and even minutes off their race time.  Hot yoga also helps to:

  • Accelerate weight loss
  • Reduce stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Relieve headaches
  • Increase energy
  • Promote relaxation
  • Lessen menopausal symptoms
  • Reduce arthritic pain
  • Improve coordination
  • Increase strength
  • Build stamina
  • Restore healthy immune system
  • Improve functioning of circulatory system

Hot yoga is for all fitness levels.  The classes are full of people with different levels of ability, so don’t let that scare you.  We are all beginners at some point.  I have experienced the benefits first hand, as have many others.  If you’re in a city that offers hot yoga or bikram yoga, you should definitely give it a try! Namaste!

 

Naturally Yours,
xoxoxo
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN

 

Source: Hot Yoga Nashville
Photo Credit: Cherrios & A Proper Garden

Are You Stressed?

12 Apr
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  4 Comments

Image Credit

STRESS. Seeing that word even makes me feel the effect of it, and I cringe.  Sometimes I get so angry at stress because I feel as if it is controlling me, and I don’t know how to let it go.  What makes me even more frustrated is when I don’t feel like I’m stressed, but internally I am and my body gets hit with the repercussions of it.  Do you ever feel that way? You tell yourself over and over again, “I’m not stressed.  I’m fine.  Everything is good.”  Yet, deep down, you know something is going on because you’re not sleeping well, you’re moody, or your body is holding onto that extra weight even though you’ve tried so hard to be extra healthy.

Well, I’m just going to be honest with you.  I don’t have it all together, and I’m not going to pretend like I do.  Who really does?  I’ve been extremely stressed lately.  There is a lot on my plate at the moment, and I just can’t seem to find time to get it all done.  What I’m learning is that while all the good things in our lives are wonderful, too much of anything can be bad.  You’re probably thinking, “She’s just now learning this?” :)   I feel like this is something that some of us will always battle…the challenge of simplifying our lives when the world around us tells us the complete opposite.  Even though we justify our activities/commitments because they are “good,” it’s imperative for our health and our sanity to practice the magic word, “no.”

Maybe these harmful effects of stress will motivate you to find ways to de-stress:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Weight gain
  • Acne or other dermatological issues
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Insomnia
  • Back/neck problems
  • Heart disease
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Migraines
  • Fertility problems
  • Diabetes
  • Hair loss
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic inflammation
  • And More!

How do I deal with stress?  As I said earlier, I’m slowly learning how to say, “no.”  I also spend much time in prayer and meditation.  Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night is another goal of mine.  Finally, bikram yoga has been great in helping me de-stress.  A study performed by Boston researchers concluded that people who practice yoga 3 times a week report better mood and lower anxiety compared with people who walked the same amount of time.  Of course, ANY exercise is beneficial to help you beat stress.

What about YOU? What are some things that you can cut out so that you’ll be less stressed?  And what methods do you use to de-stress?

Naturally Yours,
xoxoxo
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN

 

Eating Organic on a Budget

05 Apr
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  16 Comments

Of course it would be ideal to be able to eat all foods organic, but I understand that is just not possible for everyone.  The major dilemma I hear from most people is that they cannot afford to buy organic foods.  While eating organic tends to be pricier, it will save you money in the long run due to less medical expenses later on down the road.  Pesticides, found on many of our foods, are said to be linked to cancer, hypothyroidism, ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple other health problems.

5 TIPS FOR EATING ORGANIC ON A BUDGET:

  1. Buy produce in season & buy local. When you purchase fruits and vegetables when they’re in season, you save a great deal of money.  Not to mention, the produce tastes better and lasts longer. (It isn’t sitting in a truck traveling across the country, before it gets to you.)  I love this time of year because the farmers’ markets begin to flourish with colorful foods for your plate.  Another great option is to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Some CSA’s and farmers’ markets are certified organic, and some do not use pesticides or fertilizers but are not certified organic. The great thing about them is that you can actually speak to the person who produced the food, and ask them how they grow it.  To find out more about CSA’s and to find one near you, go here.
  2. Grow your own organic garden. I understand this isn’t an option for everyone.  For example, I live in a townhouse and our HOA doesn’t allow us to plant anything in the ground.  For those of us who cannot grow our own, a great idea is to have an indoor herb or small patio garden.
  3. Avoid buying processed food. It’s a lot more expensive than making things from scratch and storing/freezing in bulk.  It’s also much healthier to make your own foods, because you are able to control what goes in them.  Examples of things to make yourself: Breads, granola bars, trail mix, cookies, etc.
  4. Enjoy meatless Mondays. As you know, meat can be pricey, so a great way to save money is to celebrate “Meatless Mondays” with your family.  See what great recipes you can come up with together that do not include meat.  Great substitutes for meat are beans and lentils.  At our house, we love using black beans instead of meat in our spaghetti and tacos.
  5. Cut those coupons. Even the organic companies have coupons.  Check out sites like Faithfulprovisions.com and click on “Coupons,” then scroll down to “Natural & Organic Coupons.”  Another great way to find organic coupons is to visit the companies’ website. Here are a few: Stonyfieldfarms.com, Mambosprouts.com, WholeFoods, etc.  I actually emailed Amy’s, and they were so kind to send me a coupon booklet in the mail for their organic products.  Love me some coupons!

If you can’t buy all your produce organic, here is the list of the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables.  These are the ones that have the highest pesticide count, so consider these a must-buy organic:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Kale/Collard Greens
  • Potatoes

Here is a printable version of EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides.

In my opinion, other foods that should be bought organic are meat and dairy.  Animal products have added antibiotics and hormones added to them, which is increasing antibacterial resistance in humans, and causing a host of other issues.  (We’ll talk about this on a different blog post.)  It’s important to know where your food is coming from.  (If you don’t believe me, watch the documentary, “Food, Inc.”)

A short book that I recommend you all read is “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan, who is featured in the above documentary.  This easy to read book has simple rules to live by when trying to eat wisely.

I hope this post helps you as you start eating more organic foods!

Naturally Yours,
xoxoxo
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN