Monthly Archives: April 2016

Deciphering the FDA Food Pyramid.

When I look at the FDA food pyramid & serving recommendations for each food group, I ask myself what a serving really is. Are all servings the same? If not, what is the difference?

It is important to understand what constitutes a serving of vegetables for example. Otherwise it can be overwhelming to think about eating 5 servings! Let’s look at each food group & what we would need to eat according to this pyramid. I am using the older version of the pyramid because it is easier to teach from & to compare to alternative versions.

***You can click on each chart to make it larger & easier to read. I have also provided links to download & print them. 

FDA food pyramid

Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta Group: 6-11 servings per day. Serving sizes:

  • 1 slice of bread.
  • 1/2 cup of cooked cereal such as Oatmeal.
  • 1/2 cup cooked pasta.
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice.
  • 1 cup of dry, prepared cereal such as Whole Grain Flakes.

Vegetable Group: 3-5 servings per day. Serving sizes:

  • 1/2 cup chopped raw or cooked vegetables.
  • 1 cup of leafy raw vegetables.
  • 1 small baked potato.
  • 1 medium tomato.
  • 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (meatless).

Fruit Group: 2-4 servings per day. Serving sizes:

  • 1 piece of fruit or melon wedge.
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) of fruit juice.
  • 1/2 cup of canned fruit.
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit.
  • 1/2 grapefruit.
  • 1/2 cup of berries.

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dried Beans, Eggs & Nuts Group: 2-3 servings per day. Serving sizes:

  • 2 1/2 – 3 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish.
  • 1 egg.
  • 1/2 cup cooked beans.
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter = 1 ounce of meat (1/3 of a serving).
  • 1/3 cup of nuts.
  • 1/2 cup of tofu.

Milk, Yogurt & Cheese Group: 2-3 servings per day. Serving sizes:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) milk or yogurt.
  • 1 1/2 -2 ounces of most cheese.
  • 1/2 cup of cottage or ricotta cheese.
  • 1/2 cup ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Fats, Oils & Sweets: use sparingly/in moderation. Examples:

  • Dressings.
  • Sauces.
  • Condiments.
  • Gravies.
  • Fats.
  • Oils.
  • Sweets.

An example of one day, based on this pyramid, would look like this:

  • Breakfast: 1 piece of whole grain toast, 1 cup of Oatmeal with 1/2 cup of blueberries.
  • Snack: 1/3 cup of nuts.
  • Lunch: Sandwich: 2 slices of whole grain bread, 1 ounce of tuna, 1/2 cup of sliced tomato & lettuce with condiments. 1 sliced apple.
  • Snack: Carrot sticks, celery sticks or cucumber slices with 1/3 cup of hummus as a dip.
  • Dinner: 1 cup of brown rice, 1 cup of chopped vegetables & 2 ounces of chopped chicken stir fried in olive oil, 1 cup of salad greens & 1/2 cup chopped tomato with vinaigrette dressing.
  • Snack: 1 cup of plain frozen yogurt with 1/2 cup of mixed berries.

This is a lot of food! I had trouble fitting in the dairy 🙂 We end up with:

  • Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta Group: 5 servings.
  • Vegetable Group: 4 servings.
  • Fruit Group: 3 servings.
  • Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dried Beans, Eggs & Nuts Group: 3 servings.
  • Milk, Yogurt & Cheese Group: 2 servings.
  • Fats, Oils & Sweets: Olive oil & condiments.

This is a link to a comprehensive guide to the pyramid. It can be printed out for a reference. The Food Guide Pyramid  Well worth it. It explains how many calories per day you would be consuming based on how many servings you choose. 

This is an FDA “Cup-&-Ounce” Equivalents flyer to help you further understand the food pyramid’s serving sizes.

FDA portion sizes

The above charts can be found at: Health.gov Tools & Resources

I still believe using the “plate” is easier & healthier. You can plug in your serving sizes of healthy choices for each food group. Easier to visualize.

Choose my Platevegan-power-plate-680

My favorite food pyramid is still Dr. Low Dog’s. You can still use the serving size guide I listed for you above. Note that the whole grains group is higher up on the pyramid & only 2 servings. The base of her pyramid is as it should be, vegetables. Protein is before fruit, much more sensible! This pyramid can be downloaded at: Dr. Low Dog’s Pyramid.

Dr. Low Dog Food Pyramid

Here is a day of healthy choices using Dr. Low Dog’s pyramid. Smaller meals & easier to manage.

  • Breakfast: 1 cup of Oatmeal with 1/2 cup of blueberries.
  • Snack: 1/3 cup of nuts.
  • Lunch: 2 ounce of tuna on a bed of salad greens, 1 cup, with 1/2 cup chopped tomato & scallions. Mayo, small amount, & chopped pickle mixed in with tuna.1 sliced apple.
  • Snack: Carrot sticks, celery sticks or cucumber slices with 1/3 cup of hummus as a dip.
  • Dinner: 1 cup of brown rice, 1 cup of chopped vegetables & 1 ounce of chopped chicken (optional), stir fried in olive oil, 1 cup of salad greens & 1/2 cup chopped tomato with vinaigrette dressing.
  • Snack: 1/2 – 1 cup of Greek Yogurt with 1/2 cup berries.

We used the following:

  • Vegetable Group: 5 servings
  • Protein Group: 3 servings
  • Fruit Group: 3 servings
  • Whole Grains: 2 servings
  • Dairy Group: 1/2 – 1 serving
  • Fats, Oils & Sweets: Olive oil & Mayo

Another helpful chart: You can download this chart at WebMD Portion Control. I have this chart on my refrigerator for a quick reference.

WebMD Portion Sizes

I want to share the link to Oldway’s Heritage Pyramids. This is not only informative, but fun to look at. The site has Asian, Mediterranean, Latin, African, Vegan & Vegetarian food pyramids. 

Now you know more than you ever wanted to about the food pyramid. Remember that these are only guidelines to a healthy diet, not rules or regulations! Choose the one that works with your lifestyle & use it for a reference…..Mary

Office of Disease Prevention & Health PromotionGovernment site with information regarding the 2016 Dietary Guidelines.

Processed food.

Farm Stand 1When discussing healthy nutrition choices we talk about avoiding processed foods. Lets explore what the word processed means in terms of nutrition. What food items come under this category? Is there such a thing as a healthy processed food? Let’s take a look.

This post idea started when I read an article from Fooducate: Is All Processed Food Bad for Me?  “The term “processed food” conjures images of junk food constructed from unhealthy ingredients. The Fooducate community knows that we constantly promote the consumption of minimally processed fare. But what exactly is processed food? Is all processed food bad for you by default? Let’s define “food processing”: this is a set of methods and techniques used to transform raw food ingredients into consumable food. Food processing can be as simple as cutting up some vegetables to prepare a salad, or as complex as manufacturing a Twinkie in multiple manufacturing facilities.” This article is very interesting. The author delves into the history of processing foods. After reading it, I started thinking about forbidden “processed foods” and what they are. Where do we draw the line. 

The act of processing, as stated in the article, can be as simple as chopping up vegetables for a meal. Obviously this type of processing isn’t what we are talking about.

The United States Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, Section 201, Chapter II defines processed food as “any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration, or milling.” These are all ways to preserve food. It enables us to have fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts etc., anytime we want them. Using these methods ourselves, gives us the opportunity to add only what we want to the process. Canning fruits & vegetables can be done without sugar & with very little salt. Freezing bananas is a wonderful way to have them on hand for smoothies & recipes. I use the oven to dehydrate an abundance of Kale, making the leaves into chips. I don’t mill grains anymore but enjoyed the fresh flour when I did. 

Not many people have the time to can, dehydrate, mill, or even to cook anymore. The cancer patient’s routine certainly doesn’t leave extra time nor extra personal energy to tackle even the basic daily activities. The changes in lifestyles leading to a faster paced life led manufacturers to come up with processing foods to extend their shelf life for busy people. Because it is done on a large scale, processed foods are generally cheaper.

These are just a few ways of processing foods. Some are mechanical & some are chemical processes.

  • Smoking: Meats, fish & even tofu.
  • Irradiation: Contraversial! Used on fruits & vegetables, flour & spices. Controls insect manifestation, sprouting of vegetables, & it slows the ripening of fruits
  • Freeze-drying: Fruits & vegetables.
  • Pasteurizing: Dairy. The purpose is to destroy all pathogens, reduce the number of bacteria, inactivate enzymes and extend the shelf life of a food product.
  • Pickling: Vegetables, eggs, & corned beef. They are preserved in an acidic medium/brine.
  • Fermentation: Kefir, buttermilk, cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots.  Yeast or ferment is added to a liquid mixture of milk, water, & a food. The yeast is allowed to grow.  It has the effect of converting the sugar to other compounds.
  • Vacuum packs: Coffee, & nuts are good examples.
  • Sugaring: Ginger & other fruits. Flowers are sugared for decorations on baked goods.

Foods that are processed but are healthy choices: read the ingredient list!

  • Dairy: Pasteurization is a good type of processing for most of the population. Raw dairy is not a good choice for anyone with an immune system that is compromised. If you are using Kefir or Yogurt as a probiotic, you must make sure that the gut buddies were added after pasteurization.
  • Bread: This one is tricky. The more it is processed the more chemicals, fat, gluten, sugar & salt are added. Read the ingredient list. I only buy organic, sprouted bread that is flourless. It is the least processed of breads. Crackers are the same.
  • Tofu: Handcrafted & sprouted tofu’s are the least processed.
  • Tempeh: Very little processing. The fermented soybeans are in cakes.
  • Seitan: Seitan should be just gluten & spices cooked in a broth. Some seitan I have seen, have other ingredients to extend the shelf life.
  • Canned goods: The stores own brand has less sugar, salt & preservatives added. Look for BPA free cans. Most companies are in the process of switching.
  • Frozen vegetables: I looked at frozen corn by a leading brand & it had oil, sugar & salt added along with preservatives. I checked the generic brand & it had only salt added. Don’t assume frozen vegetables contain only the vegetable.
  • Frozen fruit: Shouldn’t have anything added.
  • Condiments: These are all processed. I couldn’t live without my mustard 🙂 Compare the ingredients with other brands. Condiments are generally used in small amounts.
  • Spices: The bottle should just contain the spice you are buying.
  • Flour: Yep, it is processed. Stick to whole grain flours: whole wheat, brown rice, coconut, & almond for example.

I am not going to even try to list the packaged processed foods that we would consider an unhealthy choice. There are aisles & aisles of them in the store! Besides being processed they would contain several of the following:

  • Preservatives
  • Salt
  • Fat
  • Sugar
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • MSG
  • Chemicals I can’t spell or pronounce

Processed Food: 10 Of The Worst Toxic Food Ingredients: By: Jillian Michaels, Everyday Health. “Most of us don’t think of the food we eat as poison, but some of the ingredients commonly found in processed foods can be considered toxic. By “toxic,” I mean chemicals or highly processed ingredients that aren’t good for you or can cause harm to your health. I’m talking about refined grains, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and all the other artificial junk you can’t even pronounce on the ingredient lists. Any food that has been canned, dehydrated, or had chemicals added to it is a processed food, and these foods make up about 60 per cent of the average U.S. diet. They’ve taken over, and we have to FIGHT BACK.” Great article to learn about some of the worst food ingredients. 

February 13, 2016 House of Representatives relaxes U.S. junk-food regulations in new legislationFast-food chains would get some relief from government rules on listing calories for things like bacon-wrapped deep dish pizza or double cheeseburgers under legislation the House approved on Friday. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain. Republicans say the calorie labeling rules scheduled to go into effect this year are too burdensome, and they have sought to ease the requirements and lessen potential financial penalties for businesses that have to comply.” We are on our own! 

Reading the ingredient list on packages is essential. The label can say it is a whole grain bread when in reality it has only one whole grain as an ingredient, and the rest are in flour form. Don’t assume anything, turn over the package & look at that list! Use your basic cooking knowledge. If it is peanut butter then it should list peanuts & a bit of salt; not sugar, oil, salt, peanuts & “natural” flavoring! 

LabelIf you buy frozen meals you need to look at the nutrition label as well as the ingredient list. How much sugar, salt & fat is there? We all need a break from cooking. There are some very nice, simple, frozen meals out there. I like to have frozen vegetarian patties on hand for busy days. I have found 2 brands that I like; organic, Hilary’s & my favorite, Organic Sunshine Burger. It takes some persistence in reading those labels, but healthy choices do exist.

The take away from this post is to eat foods as close to their natural state as you can. When you buy packaged foods, read the ingredient list!  …………Mary

 

Breathe!!!

photo 1 - Copy (2)

“Nature in its glory at a rest stop!” Photo by MHollander

 

For some reason I have been receiving articles & reminders to simply breathe. I am not sure if I am sending out >>STRESS<< signals or what. But the reminder to just breathe is always welcome. After all it is TAX season! That alone is stressful. Adding in doctors appointments, tests, bills and more; we are heading for a crash caused by stress.

When I have discussed improving your health & your immune system I have listed stress relief as an important tool. I have mentioned a number of excellent complementary therapies to help you with your stress: exercise, mindfulness, art, yoga, meditation to name a few. I forgot to mention the simple act of mindful breathing.

Here is a post I received on my Facebook page…..

Breathe Dr. Low Dog 2

Learn Dr. Low Dog’s simple breathing technique: 4-7-8 Breath Meditation Exercise“I personally really like to use the “4‑7‑8 breath” in my own life. It’s very simple to do, and you can do it whenever you are feeling stressed. I do it every morning and every night before I go to bed.” Watch the short video on the page to see how simple this technique is. This is a tool that you can take with you & use whenever you are stressed. Waiting at that red light knowing you are going to be late. The doctor’s waiting room, chemotherapy room, during diagnostic tests & when getting lab work drawn; our veins “hide” when we are stressed. It will also relax you before you sleep. How simple can it get?

A few minutes spent outside daily will also ease your stress. Here is a beautiful article. A bit long, but well worth reading. This is Your Brain on Nature, a National Geographic article. “When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor.” No need to go anywhere special. Your balcony, backyard or just a short trip to the end of your driveway will do. Look at the sky, the always changing clouds, & any flowers, insects or birds in your path. Use the 4-7-8 breathing technique & relax. When my grandsons were small we had to stop every few steps to “smell the roses”, or just to look at the dirt! Pretend you are that age & learn to enjoy life all over again.

There are many ways to relax, but those two are easy, accessible & free. When stressed or depressed we tend to gravitate towards……

A food item that contributes to that stressful, loss of control feeling is SUGAR. I receive a weekly newsletter from Nutrition WOW, the website of Dawn Jackson Blatner RDN. I shared her website with you before. The newsletter I received on April 6th was  Sugar Swaps . These flavorful foods/spices MIMIC subtle, natural sweetness on your tongue to get you thinking you’re eating sweet but you’re not. Bonus: These Sugar Swaps are no to low calorie, contain no added sugar & provide sweet health benefits! The unsweetened coconut flakes are great on salads too. Check out her ideas.

When we are stressed we reach for our comfort foods. This is a natural reaction & it isn’t that bad. If your comfort food is having a doughnut for example, it is better to allow yourself to indulge in one doughnut. If you deny yourself you will end up eating everything in site, healthy or not, to get that feeling of comfort. The only thing that will give you that feeling is what you are craving at the moment. Go for the doughnut! Just don’t make this a habit 🙂 Keep healthy snacks ~that you enjoy~ available in your home, car, backpack & purse. They are referred to as “grab & go” snacks. Plan ahead.

From the American Cancer Society: Snacks and Dashboard Dining: Grab a cinnamon roll and latte for the morning commute, chips and soda from the vending machine to get through the mid-afternoon slump, a few cookies before bed . . . and you just might have taken in more calories from snacks than from the day’s meals! You can avoid this diet downfall, but still satisfy your hunger between meals and on the go, by trying some of the foods listed here. For a snack that will carry you through until the next meal try to include protein.” Excellent ideas. Be sure & write some of them down or copy & paste into your “notes” on your mobile device. Click on the link above for the list.

I am stopping here so I have time for another walk around our backyard. I do this every morning~before coffee~ to greet the day & to say good morning to my gardens. It is a way of starting my day with Gratitude. When you wake up in the morning, walk to your window, smile, breathe & greet the day. 

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh

****Right now, sit down & practice the breathing technique. Take notice of how you feel when you are finished. Are your shoulders more relaxed? Do you find yourself smiling? Are the colors brighter, the sky bluer? I have found the answers to each of these questions to be a resounding YES! …Mary

Eating Out & other news.

Crescent city Photo by MHollander

Crab Shack, Crescent City, Photo by MHollander

We all need a trip to a Fast Food place or to a nice restaurant. I get tired of cooking every day. I look forward to that night without dishes 🙂 I live in a very small town. There are not a lot of choices.

Crescent City, Photo by MHollander

Perlitas, Crescent City, Photo by MHollander

We have a favorite Mexican food place here. It is family owned & They  cook with fresh, basic ingredients. They will make anything vegetarian or vegan if you ask. I am in love with their potato tacos. I skip the sour cream but keep the homemade guacamole. A new place just opened that serves a homemade veggie burger that is very good. I like this place because you can add what you want to it. They also have fries that are amazing. Eating out doesn’t have to be stressful or unhealthy.

Here are some suggestions when eating out. Bottom line: don’t be afraid to ask for a healthier version of what you want.

  • Find & study the menu on line before you go. You won’t be tempted to make unhealthy choices when feeling pressured to order.
  • Order first. You may cave when you hear your dining companions order before the waitperson gets to you 🙂
  • Appetizers: Skip them. They fill you up before your meal arrives & most of them are high in fat. If bread is brought to the table, ask that it be taken away. You can just order from the appetizer menu or from the “sides”. The servings are smaller.
  • Avoid “all-you-can-eat” places. You will feel obligated to eat, eat & eat!
  • Salad bar: Be careful of those yummy toppings. They can be full of salt, sugar & fat. Be selective & use them in moderation.
  • Salad dressing can be very high in fat, sugar & salt. Ask for it on the side. You can then control the amount on your salad. Another old trick is to dip your fork into the side of dressing before each bite of salad.
  • Entrees:  Pasta, pizza, casserole or burrito: look at what is in it & what comes with it. Sour cream, cheese, oils, salt, & sugar can up those calories. Ask for a smaller portion, have half put in a take out box before it comes to the table, or share with your dining companion.
  • Fish & meats: Ask how they are prepared. Go for the fish. If it is deep fried then ask if they can grill, bake or saute the fish or meat in a small amount of oil. Most restaurants will have a healthier version.
  • Grains & potatoes: Ask for brown rice rather than white rice. Check the sides to see if they have any other options. If you order the potato then skip some of the toppings. Be choosy.
  • Deserts: Sigh…the best part. My husband is great about sharing a desert. That is the only way to go short of not ordering one. It is said that the first bite & the last bite are the best anyway 🙂
  • Skip the latte with whipped cream & order plain tea or coffee for after your meal.
  • Starve yourself by skipping meals that day….BAD idea. If you eat a normal breakfast & lunch, you won’t be tempted to make unhealthy choices at dinner. This is true if you stay home or eat out.

One of our NUTs sent me this interesting link.  5 Things Nutritionists Order at McDonald’s. It would be funny if it wasn’t a real story. Lets look at some of their choices.

  • Grilled Chicken Ranch Snack Wrap and a Side Salad: This is a good choice until the nutritionist says they order a “jug of milk for the calcium to build muscles & bone”. I am shocked that they don’t count the calcium in the salad, dressing & chicken (21 grams/8 ounces of chicken). Drink water, coffee or unsweetened ice tea.
  •  Premium Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken and Kids Fry I like this one. Instead of craving the fries, she orders the children’s size. Smart move.
  •   A Regular Hamburger and a Premium Asian Salad Again they top off the meal with a “jug of milk for protein, calcium & vitamin D”! The burger has 12 grams of protein & 10 grams of calcium. Enough for one meal. 
  •    A Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger and a Premium Southwest Salad Good choices here. Plus, she ordered unsweetened iced tea.  “This combination is the size of a meal I would make at home. It has 460 calories and around 1/3 of a day’s recommended amount of total fat, dietary fiber, and sodium.”
  • Fruit and Maple Oatmeal This one bothers me. “Oatmeal is a great source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, and this 1-cup serving has just 260 calories (less than a bagel!) and 18 grams of sugar — including the fruit (less than some yogurts) — plus 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.” 18 grams of sugar!!! Wow, what kind of yogurt does she eat. Regular oatmeal has 1.1 grams of sugar per cup. This oatmeal has brown sugar (can be optional) & canned fruit. Thumbs down on this one.

Here is a link to the nutritional facts for everything that McDonald’s serves. It is printable: McDonald’s USA Nutrition Facts for Popular Menu Items

CBS News: 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants  This is an interesting article. “Our friends at Health.com surveyed the nation’s 100 largest fast food chains, as defined by the number of locations, and found that many are creating menus that look more and more like what we’d cook ourselves (if we had the time) – from nutritious soups and healthy salads to fresh whole grains and sensible desserts. Even better: They’re offering good-news Mexican, Asian, and Mediterranean fare.” 

OTHER NEWS…

Coffee me 2

Photo by MHollander

Drinking Coffee Daily Lowers Colorectal Cancer Risk- StudyCould not pass up a coffee update! “Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Leck Medicine suggest that coffee consumption decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. According to them, the more coffee is consumed, the lower is the risk.” This study also concluded that the benefits did not seem to be in the caffeine itself. The benefits were with decaffeinated coffee as well. It also appears that it may be the roasting method. More research needs to be done but it is good new to coffee lovers everywhere 🙂 I still preach moderation though.

Mediterranean diet wins again, helps bones: “The Mediterranean diet is well-known for its health benefits on your heart and waistline, but now your bones could benefit too, according to a new study published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

In this study, researchers examined whether diet quality affects bone health in postmenopausal women. They found that women who ate a Mediterranean diet were slightly less likely to suffer from hip fractures.

The Mediterranean diet is relatively easy to follow. It involves eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and peas, unrefined grains, olive oil and fish. You should limit the amount of meat, dairy, and saturated fat you eat, but on the bright side you can have a glass of red wine at dinner.” No comment needed! Best diet all around 🙂

Cheerios maker General Mills to label GMOs in U.S. products: I love this article. It shows how people voting in one small state can effect a corporation. General Mills is one of a group in the US food industry that has spent millions to block mandatory GMO labeling. One tiny state brought them to their knees. Your vote matters! “Vermont state law requires us to start labeling certain grocery store food packages that contain GMO ingredients or face significant fines,” Jeff Harmening, General Mills’ chief operating officer of U.S. retail, wrote on the company’s blog. “We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers and we simply will not do that,” he wrote. 

A General Mills spokeswoman emphasized that the move in no way suggests that the company is backing away from its call for a national standard on GMO labeling. “We have essentially run out of time,” spokeswoman Mary Lynn Carver told Reuters. “We have no other choice. Our supply system doesn’t work state-by-state.”

 

The Women with Wings Foundation has a new guided meditation app for both Apple & Androids. Create to Heal Mobile app……..This app is brought to you by The Women Wings Foundation Create to Heal (TM) program. It is designed to gently take you from your head into your heart, where the healing process begins. Because stress is the number one contributor to all major diseases, including cancer, the goal of this app is to provide you with relief from stress …. through their app’s guided meditations, art, animation and music. This app is unique because of its seemingly endless choices. Give it a try.

 

More recipe links! You can never have enough 🙂

Straight Up Foods: Welcome to Straight Up Food! I’m Cathy Fisher, a chef and teacher whose passion is creating recipes without animal foods, salt, oil or sugar, and very few processed foods. Eating a whole-foods diet dramatically improves the health and well-being of humans, animals, and the environment—there are no downsides, only benefits!” Note: No animal foods, salt, oil or sugar. Delicious recipes!

Organic Spark: A Traditional Foods Blog  “Organic Spark is based in the principles of Traditional Foods, which are the real, whole, unprocessed ingredients of our ancestors’ kitchens. These healing principles are universal and can enhance any individual diet or ethnic cuisine.” This site is for those of you who eat meat. I love the idea of it, using traditional foods in a healthier way. Enjoy!

My Whole Food Life:  I am Melissa, a Boston transplant living in Dallas, Texas. I am a mom, wife, vegan, cookbook author, yogi, lover of almond butter and a Disney fanatic.  Welcome to my blog!  My husband Marcus and I are very into eating and living as healthy as possible to set a good example for our girls, Olive (4) and Meadow (6). My favorite recipe section is Chips & FriesShe loves to bake, so if you are in the mood for something sweet, this is the place!

Enjoy life one healthy bite at a time……..Mary