Tag Archives: Natural

Let’s Talk Baby Food

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Wow! Thanks for the support of Monday’s post! Turns out y’all really like your bars. Ironic…

Part of today’s post actually is about baby food, but not in the context of a baby eating it. Got your attention, didn’t it? 😉 I’m the one who eats the baby food around here!

Awhile back, I read posts on several of my favorite bloggers’ sites about the pouches their toddlers were eating. That got me to thinking… If these women, who value wholesome, nutritious foods, have sampled them and feel comfortable with their children eating these pouches… they must be good and good for you, right?

I decided to give ’em a whirl. (Not just because I love spending extra time in the Natural Foods section.) I picked up a few varieties at Kroger – blueberry banana, carrot apricot mango, beet-and-something-or-other (I do not recommend the beet flavor; both it and the carrot were very earthy-tasting), butternut squash and banana (I was afraid to try that flavor), so on and so forth. I had my misgivings after trying a few of the veggie-heavy ones. I made faces in class so contorted I was forced to reveal that I was sucking on organic baby food. Yep – I’m that girl. I wonder what Freud would have to say about my choice in snack foods…

All in all, though, they’re delicious. They have a good bit of sugar, but it’s natural. The ingredient list is short and entirely pronounceable and recognizable: organic beets, organic carrots, organic blueberries, organic pureed banana, etc. They’re about a hundred calories apiece, and they’re surprisingly satisfying.

If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to your same-old-same, I give these my stamp of approval.

Switching gears completely…

I want to discuss a commercial I’ve been seeing a lot recently that just bugs me. It’s for the Slimful bar. Have you seen these commercials?

You eat one 90-calorie bar, drink a glass of water, and (presumably) eat less at a meal. In my mind, if you’re going to be consuming approximately 270 calories in Slimful bars each day, why not apply those calories toward nature’s nutritional supplements? (Hippie much?) I mean, instead of a bar, why not toss back a banana and some whole-wheat toast with Nutella? Or an apple with a dab of PB?

I’ll admit that I have no idea what’s in the Slimful bar, but honestly, I don’t want to know. It’s a rapid weight-loss strategy, which in my (observational) experience, is a recipe for unhealthy weight loss and almost immediate weight-gain following the “strategy.” I’m much more pro clean-eating and whole, natural foods. It can’t be that great, or CVS and Walgreen’s would be marketing fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains. Sigh.

What really irks me about the Slimful commercials is the slogan: “Eating less is a beautiful thing.” Of course, of course, everything in moderation. Five small meals a day. Drink an 8-ounce glass of water before a meal. Recognize that sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger. Keep snacks on-hand to avoid overeating/binges when hunger strikes unexpectedly.

We’ve all heard it all, right?

So maybe gorging yourself isn’t the way to go, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. But it just really burns my toast that a bar is being pushed as a substitute for adequate, legitimate nutrition. The commercial even depicts the “meal” consumed after the bar as being a few meager pieces of broccoli and some lame, undoubtedly flavorless meat. Let’s be real – who eats like that? Rabbits? My mouth doesn’t water thinking about some bar prior to a less-than-satisfactory meal; it waters when I think about all the ways there are to fill a plate with naturally delicious, naturally nutritious foods that keep me fuller longer, satisfy my sweet tooth, and give me more energy than some crummy bar.

Please excuse me while I readjust my attitude.

Alright, my apologies. Rant complete. I hope you are having a thrilling Thursday, blends!

P.S. My shipment of Chobani Bite is expected to arrive March 6 – much “oohing” and “ahhing” plus reviews to come!

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My Personal “Hunger Games”

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Maybe I live an insanely blah life, or maybe I tend to enjoy things that other people loathe, but perhaps the only thing I like one of my favorite things about starting a new semester is renewing myself from the inside out.

Last semester, I wrote about my near-constant hunger. I consulted my doctor and had bloodwork done, but I only experienced relief for about two months. Of all of the factors we discussed that could have been contributing to my hunger, my doctor and I never discussed whether I was eating enough of the right stuff. For example, I know my diet is full of leafy green veggies, water, fresh fruit, and a variety of bright colors… but I don’t know whether I’m consuming enough healthy carbs or sufficient protein.

At the beginning of this semester, in order to combat my baffling hunger, I’ve decided to keep a log of the (measurable) carbohydrates, total fat, and protein I’m consuming during the week. Being that I’m not a registered dietician, nor am I in the habit of driving myself insane, by “measurable” I mean that raw, fresh, and whole foods will not be included (unless they are supplied with a label) — because I don’t want to measure the number of raspberries on my cereal or Google the nutrition info for one-third of a cucumber. This also means that I won’t count meals eaten out (which are typically on the weekend, anyway).

I am NOT counting calories. I hate the idea of a restrictive diet; I prefer to make an attempt at eating as many whole, fresh foods as possible to strive for balance. Sometimes, I eat what I want when I want to eat it. C’est la vie. I’m not going to get my panties in a wad over a cookie or a Diet Coke.

I am also NOT turning this exercise into one of my myriad “challenges.” I do not intend to alter the foods I normally eat to fool myself into believing my carb/fat/protein consumption is sufficient or over-and-above. I’m simply making a record so I can ascertain whether my consumption is compatible with my RDV and my level of exercise.

Not because I think you’re on the edge of your seat biting your nails with anticipation, but because blogging is an easy way to hold myself accountable, I’ll be reporting back with stats!

Here’s to (hopefully) solving my hunger woes, and to being one step closer to a fitter, more nutrition-oriented me! 😉

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Could there be a cuter way to take notes?!

[Edited to add: Today I consumed 164g carbohydrates, 39g protein, and 8g fat. Low on all counts.]

Positive Vibes from Eating Out

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My family has been eating out a lot over the holidays — far more often than we usually eat out. It’s due partially to occasions that call for dining out as opposed to coming all the way back home (for example, University of Richmond basketball games), but it’s mostly due to the great deals Groupon has been boasting. Nevertheless, we’ve all been conscious of our need (as well as our desire) to eat healthy, home-cooked meals and watch our waistlines and our wallets a bit more carefully. Tonight, however, Mom and Dad and I decided to try something completely new: Positive Vibe Cafe.

The father and son who cofounded the restaurant in an old renovated bank spoke to my dad’s Kiwanis group about the restaurant’s hiring of men and women with mental and physical disabilities. The son was diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy at a very young age, and his father wanted him to learn job skills and be employable. That’s the entire mission of Positive Vibe — hiring individuals with varying disabilities, providing them training in the food service industry, and helping them seek employment upon “graduation” from the restaurant.

Not only was our service fantastic (and I’m not just saying that in a “Oh, they did the best they could” or a pitying kind of way; we truly had excellent service), the food was incredible. My eyes were a bit bigger than my stomach, so I ordered the Watermelon, Mixed Greens, and Goat Cheese Fritters Salad and the Jumbo Shrimp Stuffed with Crab Meat with sides of Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese and Celery, Apple, and Fennel Slaw. Even with eyes that will permanently overshadow my stomach, I don’t normally order so much rich food. The shrimp were a special, and there were only four of them, so I thought I’d be fine adding the salad onto my entrée and its requisite two sides. Wrong. Everything, however, was fresh and delicious.

[As usual, I would have snapped pictures, but I was ravenous by the time we arrived.]

Oh, and that’s the other great thing about Positive Vibe — the menu is centered around “comfort food,” but many dishes are catered toward being lean, low-fat, and using steroid-free ingredients (e.g. the buffalo burger). Other dishes are created with organic and locally grown ingredients (e.g. the boneless loin pork chop). The menu has a variety of dishes for practically every diet, including specially designated vegetarian and seafood selections. The menu even boasts legitimate family recipes!

If you live in the Richmond area, I highly recommend Positive Vibe. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, the restaurant had the feel of an old seafood place (complete with an anterior bubbling fish tank), and the staff could not have been friendlier or more gracious. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of dining at Positive Vibe, and it didn’t hurt knowing our choice of restaurant was contributing to such a valuable and overlooked mission. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I was highly impressed, and I will be going back.

If you have been to Positive Vibe, what did you think? Would you give it a try?

What Does That Even Mean?!

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Steel-cut oats.
Quinoa.
Chia.
“Whole.”
Roasted vegetables.
Kale chips.
“Clean eating.”
Gluten-free.
“Natural.”
Superfood.
Sea salt.
“Raw.”
Coconut water.
Grass-fed beef.
And of course, the catch-all, the big O: organic.

Raise your hand if you know what all of these words pertain to. Well, okay, so I can’t exactly see your hand raised. (Or not raised.)

These are all buzzwords I’ve heard floating around the wellness and healthy-living spheres during the past year. Quite frankly, I didn’t know what the hell most of them meant until I did extensive research and label-reading. I am not ashamed to admit now that until I tried most of these things for myself, I didn’t at all fully understand their nutritional value or their merit as part of my diet. Okay, let’s be honest — I didn’t know most of these things existed until I ran across them in someone’s blog or the newspaper or on Twitter.

I know I’m not alone in this. We hear something (e.g. steel-cut oats) and we pretend that we know exactly what that is (a different way of cutting oats? a different type of oats altogether?) until we can look it up on Wikipedia or secretly Google it on our cells under the table. I’m not a Registered Dietician or a physician, so I don’t know the biochemical breakdown of every single food I stuff into my gob (i.e. why all of a sudden everyone is gluten-free). Honestly, I don’t see the benefit in pretending to like something just because it’s popular in some social circles or in defying ignorance for the sake of dietary sophistication.

Should I be using fat-free plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream atop my vegan chili? The operative word here is “should.” I should be eating whatever it is that I’m comfortable eating.

What exactly are the benefits of drinking coconut water as opposed to good ol’ H2O? Besides my wallet losing weight…

I’m all for research and experimenting with different foods. That has been the name of my game over the past 11 months. But I’m over feigning understanding about why peanut butter is out and almond butter is in. I’m done nodding and smiling and saying, “Yep, mmhmm,” when someone raves about a particular brand of herbal tea. My eyes are probably glazing… but don’t worry — it’s not you, it’s me. I surrender to the almighty foodie powers that be: I don’t know everything! I don’t think heaven has reserved seating for vegans, while those ignorant to the existence of granola are banished to the smokers’ lounge. Just sayin’ 😉

P.S. Your comments are always welcome and appreciated!

Doctor, Doctor

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For the past few months, I’ve experienced more than my fair share of GI issues. Nothing serious, mind you; just annoyances I have to consider when my planning my day (for example, sitting in class for 2.5 hours at a stretch). If you’ve ever made multiple trips to the ole BR and then made none the next day (…or the day after that), you know firsthand that it’s frustrating and downright a pain in the rear. Pun not (initially) intended. TMI yet? I attributed my tummy troubles to various things over time: running, coffee, fiber intake, water intake, trying new foods, “natural” or raw foods, etc.

So, I consulted my personal MD–Ian. He may not be an established doctor yet, or even close, for that matter, but he has a vested interest in all things health-related. At first he said maybe I wasn’t getting enough fiber. I said, Honey, if I eat any more fiber, I’ll become a fiber bar.

Well, he’s been encouraging me to see a GI specialist or my PCP. I never relish the thought of doctor’s appointments. When I think back to high school, it’s a wonder I didn’t just move into a doctor’s office, between the dentist, orthodontist, dermatologist, orthopaedic specialist, neurologist, and the pediatrician… Let’s not forget my VIP status at Patient First, between getting my hand stuck in the garbage disposal, running out of essential medication, developing tendonitis as a non-athlete, and acquiring poison sumac on Christmas Eve.

Obviously, it’s not that I don’t believe in the power of doctors or anything like that. I’m more of a wait-until-the-last-minute-and-try-to-resolve-it-yourself kinda girl. I did just that yesterday. I was in Kroger, meandering through the Natural Foods section, when I happened upon Stomach Ease tea. On the back, there were even instructions for a yoga pose for “smooth sailing” — catch my drift? (I’m so punny today.)

I was pretty amped up about a more natural type of remedy. Of course, I readied myself for nothing to happen right away. Nevertheless, I brewed myself a cup this morning. The smell from the dry tea bag alone was enough to make me gag. One cup was more than enough to make me believe that maybe I can’t crack this thing with tea, or extra fiber, or a decrease in fiber, or Jamie Lee Curtis popping into my kitchen with her miracle yogurt… I literally finished the tea with my nose clamped shut and my face scrunched up like I was downing cyanide. *Sigh*…

P.S. If you have suggestions for GI regularity, I’d love to hear ’em!