Every Berry is My Favorite

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Diane Lassen of Women’s Nutrition Matters and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

When I think about my favorite fruits and vegetables, I realize that my favorites change with the seasons. I do my best to eat locally, and plan my meals around those things that are ripening as we speak. Right now, I have only one thing on my mind—BERRIES!

Berries—I can’t get enough of them. They are antioxidant powerhouses, brimming with fiber and wonderful flavor. Did I mention versatile? You can literally eat berries in every meal. I eat them in my breakfast cereal. I add them to my smoothies and toss them into salads. I wander the woods seeking raspberries and blackberries, and have been known to return to work from my lunch break with purple-stained fingers after finding a mulberry tree with low-hanging branches. They are nature’s perfect snack food; portable, packable and freezable.

Strawberries are still available for self-picking in the New Jersey area, and blueberries are soon to follow. I have been picking strawberries at the local CSA for almost a month now! Black and red raspberries are making their appearance in a few weeks as well. Plus, there are so many other berries to try, like gooseberries, cloudberries, wine berries and currents. Many recipes calling for one berry can be easily made with whatever berry is on hand. If you are lucky enough to find a surplus of berries, freeze them! Simply spread them out on a baking sheet. Place them in the freezer and then bag them up when they are frozen. So you can eat berries all year long!

I love my berries in the early summer. They are a breath of fresh air after a long winter of apples and pears! Berries are a perfect cleansing food, full of nutrition and fiber, and can help shed the winter pounds in a very tasty way.

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Bananas Really are the Perfect Food to Me

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Bloggy McBloggenstein of Stop Being So Fat! and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

If I don't have one everyday I feel incomplete. I couldn't think of a better snack to have while on the go that doesn't leave me feeling like I've overloaded on salt or sugar, which most snacks do.

Bananas are the ultimate convenience food! As far as fruit goes (or for that matter any "snack" food) bananas require no washing, cutting, peeling, storage, or packaging. They come in their own biodegradable wrapper that can be removed by hand! What more could you ask for in a convenience food?

Just don't leave the peel lying on the ground. Comedy and/or bodily injury may occur!

And they're so cheap! At least in my neck of the woods, they are usually around $.50 a pound, which can get me 3 or 4, depending on the size. That sure beats spending a dollar at the vending machine for a candy bar that will probably make me feel poorly afterward.

The influence of the Western diet in the past few decades has lead most people's diets to become lacking in enough highly nutritious foods to thrive, especially fruit. Bananas are notably helpful in combating the typical Western way of eating in that they are good sources of several vitamins and minerals that actually help reverse the negative effects of eating too many processed, and not enough whole foods.

Those nutrients include Vitamin C, the great antioxidant; vitamin B6, important for amino acid metabolism as well as even reducing depression for some that are deficient. The minerals potassium and magnesium help to reduce blood pressure, which is great since hypertension rates are skyrocketing mostly due to high sodium intake. Oh, and we can't forget fiber!

With all of these good things to say about bananas, there's really no excuse to not have some on hand.

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I Love Raspberries!

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Melanie Thomassian of Dietriffic and Diet-Blog does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

I love berry season, and my absolute favorite are raspberries. Besides being delicious, they’re also packed to the brim with nutritional goodness. Honesty, I can’t get enough at this time of year.

The sheer amount of goodness packed into such a small fruit amazes me! So, what’s in there? Well, raspberries are a wonderful source of vitamin C (around 30mg per 1-cup serving), manganese, and dietary fiber (30% daily value), and they also contain some vitamin B2, folate, niacin, magnesium, copper and potassium.

In addition to all of this, if you’re eating them regularly, you’ll get a good dose of anti-cancer phytonutrients such as anthocyanins, quercetin, and ellagic acids - these can help improve immune function, and reduce the risk for other chronic diseases such heart disease.

Phytonutrients are actually most concentrated in the peel or skin of fruits and vegetables, and this is why berries, with their high skin-to-fruit ratio, are such a concentrated phytonutrient source.
Here are a few quick serving ideas:

  • Mix 1/2 cup fresh raspberries with millet porridge for a delicious healthy breakfast.
  • Add raspberries to a green salad, or blend and serve as a dressing.
  • Make real fruit ice-pops - blend raspberries, place into plastic ice-pop containers, freeze and enjoy anytime.
  • For a simple dessert sprinkle fresh raspberries with balsamic vinegar.
  • Add dried raspberries to your nut mix for a healthy snack.

Next time you feel like a snack, instead of reaching for cakes or cookies, why not go for the ninja warrior of the berry world, and satisfy your sweet cravings with raspberries!

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No More Cupcakes at Soccer Games!

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Amy Roskelley of SuperHealthyKids and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

I remember as a child going to my brother’s soccer games. When it was our turn for snacks, we would cut up a bowl full of oranges, and the players would eat them during half time for extra energy. Today, our soccer games usually culminate with a box of Kool-Aid and a candy bar on the side. What happened here!

When it’s your turn for little league treats, you want to find something healthy, but you also want the kids to like it, right? During the fall soccer season, I decided to go against the grain, return to days of old, and bring sliced oranges. Those kids loved them!

I had a huge bowl with orange wedges for during and after the game, and every single one was gone before I could have any myself. Often parents underestimate the kids’ desire for solid, healthy food. Here are some other foods my kids love to eat:

  • Sliced apples, watermelon wedges and bananas.
  • Individually packaged non-salted nuts or trail mix
  • 8 oz water bottles, kids like these little water bottles.
  • Dried apricots and raisins in little individual boxes.
  • Baggies of air-popped popcorn.

So, ditch the cupcakes and give kids something better to replace their lost nutrients from playing hard.

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Getting Kids Involved in the Kitchen, Safely...

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Gretchen Goel of Total Wellness Mentor and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

My kids have been using The Learning Tower since they were toddlers and I can tell you it has been the most used piece of furniture in our house! It is as necessary of a purchase as a VitaMix if you have kids or even grandkids. Kids can safely climb up in it by themselves and it can be adjusted to height as your children grow.

I have our tower located next to a large assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables on our counter top. They can climb up and grab a snack whenever they want. We don't have a snack cabinet full of processed junk, just a "snack counter" full of healthy whole foods.

When we cook I move the tower to an open space so they can help measure, pour, stir, peel garlic and onions or chop easy-to-chop foods like mushrooms or herbs. They get a hands on math and cooking lesson every day, which I love since I home-school them.

I find that I rarely have issues with my kids trying new foods because I have them so involved in food preparation. My oldest daughter is 6 and she is already inventing her own healthy recipes using raw foods!

The bonus to using The Learning Tower is easily turns into a "puppet theater" for play during the day. We just throw a sheet over it and our kids sit on the platform and perform!

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I'll Admit It. I'm a Junk-Food Junkie from Way Back!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Jennifer McCann of Vegan Lunch Box and This Is Why You’re Thin and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

Most of my life there was not a sugary, fat-filled food that didn't have my name on it. And even though I've had a lot of success on Eat To Live in the last few years, I've also continued to struggle with the emotional urge to keep eating my old favorites. Foods that, intellectually, I know are bad for my health, but that my mind still thinks of as friends.

Sometimes it's been so difficult. I've even felt like giving up on Dr. Fuhrman's plan altogether. So when his new book Eat For Health came out, I felt like his chapters on "Changing How You Think" were written just for me. That's exactly what I needed to do! During the time I spent reading the book and doing the exercises, I realized I could use this kind of daily mental training to work out my mind and reprogram my thinking, just like I use daily exercise to work out my body.

Dr. Fuhrman's book was one form of mental training for me. Other mental work outs include talking openly with my health-conscious friends, working with a wellness coach to set weekly goals, increasing and reinforcing my nutrition knowledge with books and DVDs and visiting inspirational websites.

Speaking of websites, the popular blog This Is Why You’re Fat has been getting a lot of press lately. If you haven't been there yet, people send in their craziest junk-food creations, like bacon-topped doughnuts or deep-fried pepperoni pizza, for us all to groan and laugh over. I think the blog really is funny, but in the past few weeks I’ve noticed that a lot of people talking about the site are saying the same thing:

"It’s so gross, but now I want some."

"Eww! Oh, I bet that tastes good."

"That’s a heart attack waiting to...mmmm, bacon."

Isn’t that interesting? At the same time that we’re appalled, these images are sinking into our little monkey minds and triggering cravings for these kinds of foods. Is this a form of mental training, but in reverse? Are those images, added to all the commercials and advertisements we see every day for unhealthy food, training our minds to keep asking for what we know we shouldn't eat namely salty, fatty, deep-fried, sugary and processed foods?

I started thinking, what if, instead of looking at images of junk food every day. We served ourselves up a daily helping of healthy images instead? Can healthy images inspire us to want what's best for us, make us crave colorful salads instead of fatty burgers or help us get to the gym?

So, I decided to create the antithesis of This Is Why You're Fat by starting a brand new blog called This Is Why You’re Thin!

I’m hoping encourage exercise and the consumption of healthy plant-based foods through fun, intriguing and beautiful images that will inspire us all. I’m looking for photos of fresh fruits and vegetables, beautiful bean soups or healthy salads, people running, climbing, swimming, stretching and smiling kids drinking smoothies and picking strawberries.

Please visit my new blog and find out how to contribute. I want to fill the pages with lots of Fuhrman-friendly, nutrient-dense cuisine!

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America's Energy Crisis

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Scott Wharton of HealthandMen and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

Is there ever going to be a point where we stop seeing the walls of energy drinks and energy shots at our convenient stores? When I was in my late teens and early 20 there wasn't any Red Bull, Monster or Rock Star drinks. There was only Jolt Cola. Jolt was just like any other cola, except they claimed that it packed more caffeine and more sugar than your average Pepsi. If I was about to embark on a long drive from Quantico, Virginia to upstate, New York I would grab one or two of these for the road. I wasn't much of a coffee drinker back then and Jolt Cola was my pick-me-up when I had to make long trips home. The downfall with caffeine and sugar was the crash. I would often get about 6 hours in to the trip and suddenly start to feel the crash. By the time I got home I would be either be wiped clean of any energy I had.

Truck stops used to have the plastic cases next to or behind the counter loaded with little bottles of mini-thins and similar products. They were Ephedrine or Ephedra based stimulants that were not the healthiest stimulant but then again loading up on caffeine and sugar isn't either. People started dying from overuse of ephedra and the United States took action against ephedrine because of the Meth epidemic. That's the reason you have to go to the pharmacy to get anything with ephedrine in it like Sudafed. The most you see in them now are Stackers and other caffeine, guarana and ginseng products.

These days the energy shots and drinks are still loaded with caffeine, sugar and extra vitamins. We know too much caffeine is bad for your heart and too much sugar is never a good thing for the human body, but what about the vitamins? Vitamins are good, right? That's what we're told as children. People don't know nearly enough about vitamins except for what they might hear on television and rarely do their own research. Naturally if you're told by some random person on TV that B Vitamins are good for you, then you're bound to believe that. Granted, B Vitamins are good for you and B vitamin deficiencies are, well, not good.

The funny thing that people fail to understand when they buy the energy shots like 6 Hour Energy and equivalent products is that most of that vitamin B that is supposed to give you all that energy is just going to waste. If you eat properly you get plenty of vitamin B and there really isn't much need for more. Either way, your body will get rid of any excess water soluble vitamins that it doesn't need and has no need to absorb and pees out. People that take a vitamin B supplement often know how well their body is absorbing it by the color of their urine. Riboflavin or vitamin B2 will tend to make your urine a bright yellow color.

Marketing is an amazing thing because people are so easily manipulated by things that help make day-to-day life more convenient. Fat burning pills, energy supplements and anything else that helps cope with the stress of work or life in general. When you're tired you're tired. There is no other way around it and your body needs rest. No matter how much energy supplements you take, it can not substitute the rejuvenating effect your body gets from a good night sleep. Sometimes you have to slow down, take it easy and let Mother Nature do her thing.

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Local Eating in a Global World

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Diane Lassen of Women’s Nutrition Matters and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

Eating locally is all the rage these days. In fact, “locavore” was the word of the year last year, and there are lots of wonderful books out which really romanticize the idea of eating locally and growing your own food. I have to tell you, I am all for it. I grew up in suburban New Jersey with a Dad who dug up half the backyard for our garden and we ate from it all year long.

Eating locally means eating seasonally, even though nearly every conceivable food option is available 365 days a year in our global supermarket, we should know where our food comes from and we should strive to minimize the traffic that our food must endure by eating foods grown close to home. I love the concept of seasonal eating because it is an intuitive way of eating. It dates back to the basis of Ayurvedic medicine, where with each season came plants that gave us exactly what we needed for that season.

Let me explain. In the summer when it is hot, we have succulent, juicy fruits and vegetables like melons, stone fruits and tomatoes and lettuces which naturally cool the body and quench our thirst. As fall moves into winter, the fall harvest provides us with hearty and sustaining foods, foods that warm us and give us energy such as winter squash, root vegetables, beans and many seeds and grains. These foods are heavier and warming in nature and give us a feeling of contentment and nourishment—much needed in the cold, dark days of winter! Then with the spring comes cleansing sprouts, young greens and berries which help to rid the body of excess weight that may have accumulated over the winter and which cleanse the body of toxins and wastes, thus preparing us for another season of heat.

During the winter, we should continue to focus on our stores of local winter squash, pumpkins and sweet potatoes that are high in carotenoids, the antioxidants that have given us extra protection during the cold and flu season. Look to the veggies such as kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts which, after a cold snap, have higher levels of phytonutrients and antioxidants which help protect us from environmental stress. A good frost also sweetens their flavors considerably! This Brassica family as well as members of the lily family, such as garlic, onions and leeks, are also high in sulfur compounds which protect against cancer and other damage to our DNA. All of these vegetables were the winter staples of our grandparent’s “root cellars” and should find a place in our basements as well.

Then once the winter winds will die down and the sun warms the earth enough to cause our spring bulbs to appear. What a joyous time of year! And just when you can’t eat another acorn squash, it will be time for the spring greens to appear in the marketplace and for wild mustard and chickweed to pop up in the woodlands, begging to be harvested. Our bodies will beg for the bitter greens of arugula and cress, so that the cleansing and detoxifying process can begin again. We will awaken from our long hibernation indoors ready to tackle the garden beds and other outdoor activities that beckon with the coming warm days!

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I'm a Raw Food Dude. I Drink My Greens!

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Linda Wooliever of Vermont Fiddle Heads and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

What I love about the raw food movement is that it teaches people to eat locally, from their own garden, local farmers or community supported agriculture, as well as wild harvested foods, and to prepare and eat minimally processed whole foods. I love that raw foods are some of the best food I have ever tasted, jam packed with water and flavor!

But I don't necessarily like all aspects of the raw food movement. It can be strict and somewhat purist and the message that you can eat whatever/whenever you want so long as it is raw. I took a lot of the messages to heart even though some didn't intuitively make sense. I wanted to believe what I read. I said to myself, "Well, it seemed to work for other people, so why not me?"

I like experimenting with new foods and ideas, so I gave myself a green light to eat WAY too much fat on the raw food diet. I also gave myself the go ahead to eat a lot of raw chocolate, which can also be high in fat and while it is very fun to use wild with raw cacao, I don't recommend it for daily use. Long story short, I began to gain weight on raw food.

Despite having a relatively low caloric intake, most of my calories were coming from fat. After 8 years and much experimentation with my raw foods diet, I started to feel a bit run down and I was a little perplexed about what to do. The books that recommend a low-fat raw food diet, don't really explain how to do it because when it comes time to show recipes, these recipes are nut-rich, very dense and heavy.

Thankfully my friend gave me Dr Fuhrman's book to read as a gift and I really felt grateful for it. His message was very similar to some raw food dudes that I applaud who also extol the importance of a low-fat, minimally-processed, vegan diet. What I REALLY appreciated was actually spelling out the daily food intake goals per day, i.e. a pound of raw greens and other veggies, a pound of cooked greens, etc.

This helps a lot of people, I think, and it helps a person like me. I can very easily adapt how I eat to this daily plan and I make it easy and delicious. I finally felt like I was getting some guidelines that seem doable and sensible. This is a lifestyle and not a diet.

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Discover the Delicious Health Benefits of Organic Food!

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Laura Klein of OrganicAuthority and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

Ok, I’m addicted to organic foods and am a self proclaimed organic foodie! I guess you could say I’m a big fan of organic everything, especially organic food. That's why I founded my own website!

As I studied to be a professionally trained chef in culinary school, it was the tasty flavor of organic foods that got me hooked on the organic movement. Before culinary school, I could have cared less about organic foods and “green” what? I simply couldn’t believe how much better organic foods tasted when compared to the other normal stuff.

As a chef-in-training, all I cared about was what produced the best tasting food products. And what I discovered was the critical secret behind high-end chefs and five-star restaurants. Organic food! You can have all the culinary training in the world, but if you start with low quality ingredients, you get a low quality result.

I also discovered that organic foods are simply more nutritious and a powerful healing tool for the human body. I look at organic food as the most delicious type of preventive medicine available to us! But don’t just take it from me. Other vetted resources agree that organic food is nutrient-rich and fantastic for your health.

In a study published in March 2008 by The Organic Center, scientific evidence settled the lingering question. Are organic foods really more nutritious? And the answer is a resounding YES! Consider the following:

  • Organic plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, grains) contain higher levels of eight of 11 nutrients studied, including significantly greater concentrations of health-promoting polyphenols and antioxidants.
  • Organically grown plant-based foods are 25% more nutrient dense, on average, than their conventional food counterparts. That means they deliver more essential nutrients per serving or calorie consumed than conventionally-grown foods.
  • Nutrients present in organic foods are “in a more biologically active form,” according to Neal Davies, a professor at Washington State University (WSU) and a co-author of the center’s report. A+ for Organic Farming!

In another recent study entitled “Living Soil, Food Quality, and the Future of Food", presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), several inspiring conclusions were offered about the health benefits of organic farming and its nutritional impact in food:

  • Higher levels of fertilizer negatively impact the density of certain nutrients in harvested foodstuffs, which is called the "dilution [of nutrients] effect." Organic farming can, under some circumstances, delay the onset of the "dilution effect."
  • Compared to typical conventional farms, the nitrogen cycle on organic farms is rooted in substantially more complex biological processes and soil-plant interactions; for this reason, organic farming offers great promise in consistently producing nutrient-enriched foods.

Clearly, organic food equals healthier food. It’s that simple. And that tasty too!

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