How to Make Zest

Citrus fruits! Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Want to add a burst of natural flavor and color to your cooking? Add zest! Lemons, limes, oranges and any other citrus fruits can be used to make zest.

How to Make Zest
  1. Thoroughly wash a whole citrus fruit.
  2. Use a peeler or pairing knife to trim slender, thin slices of the fruit peel. Be careful not to get the white underside of the peel known as pith. It has a bitter flavor.
  3. Chop the peelings into tiny slivers (I believe chefs call this julienne) or small pieces.
  4. Or, use the fine grating on a cheese grater to shave zest from the fruit peel. Hold the whole fruit against the grater and gently shave off the skin.
  5. That's it! The zest is ready to use. If you have extra, store it in an airtight container and use it within a day or two before it dries out. 
Add Zest to Your Meal
Here are a few ways I like to add the fresh flavor of citrus zest to food.
  • Sprinkle lime zest on a bowl of cranberry sauce at the holidays.
  • Add lemon or orange zest to a sugar cookie recipe for a springy, refreshing flavor.
  • Dust the tops of pancakes with powdered sugar and orange zest.
  • Whisk citrus zest into homemade vinaigrette salad dressing.
  • Garnish a chocolate cake or cupcakes with slivers of orange zest.
How do you enjoy your zest? Please comment below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: This may be the last day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, but don't forget to drop by on occasion and see what I've got cookin'! Or, follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I'll let you know what I've been up to! :)

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A to Z Blog Challenge Week 4 Recap

We've come to the end of the fourth week of the April 2012 A to Z Blog Challenge!

Each day in April (excluding Sundays) I've been spotlighting one letter of the alphabet. Have you been following along?

Tomorrow I will feature "Z", the last post in the A to Z Challenge!

Although today is a day off from the Challenge, I thought I'd post a quick recap. If you missed any posts on Whole Foods Living in April, here's a list of quick links:

April 1: An Apple A Day: Kicking off the 2012 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge!
April 2: Easy Triple Berry Smoothie Recipe
April 3: Is Cinnamon a Health Food?
April 4: How to Get More Vitamin D
April 5: How to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally
April 6: How to Eat Flax Seed
April 7: Gluten-Free Food List
April 9:   Eating Raw Honey
April 10:  What is Food Irradiation?
April 11:  Juicing 101: 5 Tips for Tasty, Healthy Juice
April 12:  Kale Chips! Salty Snack Attack!
April 13:  Leafy Green Quiz
April 14: Marvelous Mushrooms
 April 16: Why Blog About Nutrition?
April 17: My Love Affair With Olive Oil
April 18: Do You Eat Papaya?
April 19: 3 Ways to Eat Quinoa
April 20: Types of Rice
April 21: Strawberry Sauce in 5 Minutes
April 23: How to Grill Tomatoes
April 24: Do You Love Umami?
April 25: Vegan Vs. Vegetarian
April 26: Whole Foods Quiz: Test Your Nutrition Knowledge
April 27: What is Xanthan Gum?
April 28: A Yam is a Yam
April 30: Z...coming soon! (Hint: It's not about zucchini!)


Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living
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A Yam is a Yam

Yams! Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
I always thought the potato-like vegetable with bright orange flesh could be referred to as either a yam or a sweet potato. Although they are both tubers, they are different plants.

If you live in the United States, you're probably eating sweet potatoes, despite the labels at the grocery store.

Yams are rarely grown in the United States and are not readily available. Yams can grow to the size of a small child, according to one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks. Really!

The tubers are usually sold cut into manageable chunks. If you want to dine on a real yam, go to a Latino market and search for "name". It will likely be sold by the pound in shrink-wrapped packages to preserve the vegetable's moisture.

So, have you eaten real yams? I don't think I have!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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What Is Xanthan Gum?

Wow, transitioning into a gluten-free diet has been a roller coaster ride. Not only do I have to read every food label, I've also had to overhaul my love of baking. While browsing through my new gluten-free cookbooks--looking for a recipe that uses "normal" ingredients--I keep stumbling across the need for xanthan gum.

I want pancakes! Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Since I'm not a fan of preservatives and artificial flavorings, I had to make sure xanthan gum would fit into my new healthier lifestyle. Well, it does!

Xanthan gum is a plant-based thickening and stabilizing agent, according to WebMD. After trying to make my favorite old recipes with gluten-free flour, I can now appreciate the usefulness of xanthan gum. It gives baked goods more texture and rise.

For example, homemade pancakes made simply by substituting rice flour for wheat flour turned out like flat, rubbery crepes. Gluten-free pancake mix that included xanthan gum created fluffy, delicious pancakes!

I'm armed and ready.

I have my first packet of xanthan gum waiting for me in the kitchen pantry. I can do this. I can cook from scratch using this stuff. But, I need your help! Have you baked with xanthan gum? Can you recommend any recipes, hints or tips? Thank you!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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Whole Foods Quiz: Test Your Nutrition Knowledge

Welcome to day "W" of the 2012 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. The month is winding down, so it's a great time to test your whole foods knowledge. Here's a simple quiz to get you thinking about what you put on your plate.
Photo courtesy Morguefile.

1. Which provides the most fiber and vitamins?
    a. One cup of 100% pure apple juice
    b. One cup of unsweetened, homemade applesauce
    c. One cup of chopped, fresh apple

ANSWER: All of these choices are healthy options! But, to really get the most from your apple indulgence, opt for the last option, a fresh apple. Since apple juice and applesauce are heated and processed, they lose some of their valuable nutrients. To learn more about apples, check out "An Apple A Day: Kicking off the 2012 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge!".

2. Quinoa is a
    a. vegetable
    b. grain
    c. fruit

ANSWER: Quinoa is a protein-filled grain. It's similar in texture to couscous or rice. To learn more about quinoa, check out my two posts, "3 Ways to Eat Quinoa," and "What is quinoa?".

3. A vegan doesn't eat
    a. honey
    b. olive oil
    c. pickles

ANSWER: Unlike a vegetarian, vegans do not eat any products produced by animals. So, a vegan would not eat honey, since it is made by bees. Still not sure about the differences between vegans and vegetarians? Check out my post "Vegan Vs. Vegetarian" posted yesterday!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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Vegan Vs. Vegetarian

When practicing a healthier lifestyle, some people choose to adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet. When maintained correctly, both diets are low in saturated fats, rich in vitamins from plant sources and low in cholesterol.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

But, just what is the difference between vegetarians and vegans?

Vegetarians:
  • Do not eat meat
  • Eat grains, vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes
  • Some choose to eat small amounts of seafood and chicken
  • Do consume foods created by animals such as eggs and milk
  • Get protein from nuts, beans, legumes, grains, eggs and dairy products
Vegans:
  • Do not eat meat
  • Do not eat animal byproducts such as honey, eggs, milk and cheese.
  • Eat a diet rich in grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans
If you're considering a vegetarian or vegan diet, talk with your doctor about dietary concerns and how to stay healthy. When I chose to become a vegetarian in 1997, I didn't make healthy choices. I filled up on bread, pasta, pizza and candy bars. That's how you become a chubby vegetarian! Work with a dietitian or your doctor to learn about creating well-balanced meals.

Do you follow a vegetarian, vegan or other specialized diet? Please share how it has affected your health in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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Do You Love Umami?

Do you crave sweet treats? Or does a sour apple make you smile? For some, salty or bitter indulgences make the taste buds sing. But, did you know there's yet another taste to experience?
Sushi. Photo courtesy Morguefile.

Welcome to the world of umami.

This little known flavor is what parmesan cheese, asparagus, tomato paste, mushrooms, seaweed and grilled fish are made of. Umami is described as a savory taste experience, according to Dr. Andrew Weil. Glutamate, an amino acid, is responsible for the flavor.

Me? I'm a sweets gal, with a touch of salt. My favorite indulgence is homemade caramels covered in chocolate topped with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt. (Now, I know that's not nutritious, but I am human. I'm not healthy every minute of every day!)

So, when it's time for a splurge--which taste makes you drool? Please comment below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Want to read more about nutrition, beauty and health? I write and post daily on Facebook and Twitter!

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How to Grill Tomatoes

When the hubby tosses a steak on the grill, I prepare veggie kabobs. In addition to whole button mushrooms, slices of bell pepper and chunks of red onion, I like to add tomatoes to the mix.
Fresh Tomatoes. Photo Courtesy Morguefile.

Since the fruit has a tender, thin skin I've been experimenting with various ways to grill tomatoes. When secured to a skewer they seem to grill--not char--like tomatoes placed directly on the grill.

The easiest tomatoes to add to a kabob are small salad tomatoes such as cherry, grape or pear tomatoes. Just slide them onto the skewer. If you only have large, whole tomatoes available, you can grill them kabob-style too.

Start by chopping the tomato into large chunks, at least 2 1/2 to 3-inches wide. Then, drizzle the tomato with olive oil. Don't squeeze the seeds and juice out of the chunks or they will dry out during the grilling process. Finally, wedge the chunks between two other kabob items to help secure the tender tomato.

Grill the veggie kabobs on indirect heat on an upper grill rack for three to four minutes. Rotate the skewers and grill for another three to four minutes. Then, enjoy!

Have you ever grilled tomatoes? Feel free to share your ideas, tips and tricks in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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A to Z Blog Challenge Week 3 Recap

Today wraps up the third week of the April 2012 A to Z Blog Challenge!

Each day in April (excluding Sundays) I'm spotlighting one letter of the alphabet. Have you been following along?

Although today is a day off from the Challenge, I thought I'd post a quick recap of the previous week, "N" through "S". If you missed any posts on Whole Foods Living, here's a list of quick links:

April 16: Why Blog About Nutrition?
April 17: My Love Affair With Olive Oil
April 18: Do You Eat Papaya?
April 19: 3 Ways to Eat Quinoa
April 20: Types of Rice
April 21: Strawberry Sauce in 5 Minutes

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living
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Strawberry Sauce in 5 Minutes

It's Saturday! As the weekend and warmer weather sets in, so do the summer desserts. Just because I prefer to eat healthy doesn't mean I skip dessert. I love topping homemade vanilla ice cream with my super easy 5 minute strawberry sauce.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

If you think that goopy red stuff they sell in the produce section next to the fresh strawberries is strawberry sauce, you've been missing out! This sauce is simple, delicious and much healthier than the high fructose corn-syrup and sugar infused goo they sell at the grocery store.

Simple Strawberry Sauce
Wash, clean and slice as many strawberries as you have on hand. Place them in a pot and put it on the stove over medium-low heat. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot with approximately 1/4-inch of water. Let the berries slowly come to a simmer and soften.

Use a fork to lightly mash the fruit. As the strawberries soften, they will generate more liquid. When the berries are soft, use a stick blender to puree the fruit into a sauce. Taste the strawberry sauce and add a sprinkle of stevia to sweeten. Let the sauce cook down to the desired consistency.

Pour the strawberry sauce over cheesecake, ice cream, strawberry shortcake or angel food cake. Or, use the sauce as a starter for a smoothie or strawberry daiquiri! Enjoy!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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Types of Rice

Wild rice is a grass seed. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Since the gluten in wheat, rye, barley and some oat products make me sick, I eat a lot of rice. Before I overhauled my diet I thought "rice was rice." Little did I know there are many, many types of rice out there!

My favorite is whole grain brown rice. It has a nutty flavor, is packed with protein and is very filling. My husband prefers the sweet flavor of Jasmine rice.

Here is a list of common rice options that migrate beyond the classic pre-cooked instant white variety to try adding to your diet:

Arborio Rice: White, round kernels used to make risotto
Basmati Rice: White, sweet, great with sweet Asian and Indian foods
Brown Rice: Brown, chewy, it contains the whole grain, which contains magnesium and is healthier than white rice (which has the bran and germ removed)
Glutinous Rice: White, sticky, used in sushi and desserts
Pearl Rice: White, short grains, creamy when cooked, great for rice pudding
Wild Rice: Dark brown/black, chewy and slender, it's actually the seed of water grass plants!

What types of rice have you eaten?

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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3 Ways to Eat Quinoa

When I decided to be a "healthier" vegetarian I researched several foreign-to-me foods, including quinoa. I even wrote about my discovery of the protein-packed grain on this blog back in August of 2010.
Cooked quinoa. Photo courtesy Morguefile.

Check out "What is quinoa?".

Since that was nearly two years ago, I've had a little time to experiment with cooking several types of quinoa. Here are my top three favorite ways to eat the rice-like grain!

How to Eat Quinoa

1. If you're new to the world of quinoa, simply pour a little into a simmering pot of broth-based soup or chili. It thickens the soup while adding fiber and vitamins.

2. Cook quinoa in a rice cooker. Use two parts water to one part quinoa. When done, season with some fresh garlic and use as a base for homemade stir fry in lieu of rice.

3. Use quinoa as a base for a cold salad. Instead of using pasta, toss fresh chopped vegetables, chunks of cheese and your favorite salad dressing with cold quinoa.

So, how do you eat quinoa? Make me hungry!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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Do You Eat Papaya?

Fresh, tropical fruits are generally not plentiful in Iowa. Our grocery stores do get pineapples, mangos and other warm-weather fruits delivered from exotic locations, but they never taste fully ripened or fresh. I suppose that's because they are picked before they naturally ripen, so they won't spoil during shipping.
Fresh papaya. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

One of my local grocery stores carries an assortment of uncommon-to-the-midwest produce. Star fruits, fresh aloe vera, husked coconuts and papaya line the shelves. I think about grabbing one of these delicacies each time I visit the store. I like to broaden my food horizons whenever possible.

To play it safe, I picked out a fresh papaya today. I have eaten the sweet, orange fruit in tropical fruit mixes and pureed in smoothies. But, today was my first experience with a whole, fresh papaya.

After slicing the fruit in half, I scooped out the seeds and discarded them. Oh, I know they're edible but their peppery-pencil eraser type flavor didn't sit well with my taste buds. The orange flesh of the papaya was as soft as ice cream and incredibly sweet. Fresh papaya is much better than the canned tropical fruit variety.

After eating my fill of fresh fruit, the rest went into the refrigerator for more experiments. I'm thinking of indulging in a pineapple-papaya smoothie this evening as a snack.

Have you eaten papaya? Please share your favorite ways to eat this tropical delight!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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My Love Affair with Olive Oil

If I could only have one item in my pantry, it'd be olive oil. Yes, really! This amazing nutrient-rich product is incredibly versatile in both the kitchen and the bathroom.
Olive oil. Photo courtesy Bluescreen, Morguefile.

I love using olive oil to saute vegetables, mix up a homemade salad dressing or drizzle over roasted vegetables.

The oil adds flavor (so you can leave the butter in the refrigerator) and healthy monounsaturated fatty acids to your diet. These good fats lower your risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol and help control blood sugar levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.

As a bonus, olive oil is amazing as a beauty product too. I use it to moisturize my legs after shaving, as a super nourishing hair conditioner and to hydrate dry, chapped lips. You can even use olive oil as a makeup remover!

How do you incorporate olive oil into your day?

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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Why Blog About Nutrition?

Of all the things to write about -- why choose nutrition? I have so many hobbies, from photography and scrapbooking, to pets and gardening, why does food get the spotlight?

Oatmeal and fruit. Photo courtesy Morguefile.com

I've always been into cooking and eating healthy, but early in the winter of 2010, I decided to try using food as medicine.

After taking prescription medications for rheumatoid arthritis for several months, I quit. My hair was thinning and falling out in clumps, I was nauseated daily, I was gaining weight quickly and I felt horrible. I started researching more about autoimmune diseases, and from books to web articles and television interviews, everyone spoke about changing their diets and feeling better.

As a "healthy" vegetarian, I thought I was eating correctly. Vegetables filled my dinner plate, I ate lots of legumes and nut butters for protein and snacked on fruits. But, I also had a freezer full of vegetarian soy burgers, boxed brownie mixes lined the cupboard shelves and my go-to snack was Dorito's covered in melted cheddar cheese.

I was filling up on sugar and sodium-laden processed foods that lacked much nutrition. So, one day I decided to start limiting those foods from my diet. If it comes in a can, box or instructions for cooking in the microwave, I probably don't eat it.

Whole Foods Living is my way of exploring, learning and educating people about nutrition. I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist. I'm just a 30-something gal trying to feel good without popping pills. Food is medicine. Since I've been eating healthier, my body actually punishes me when I eat junk food. Sugary candy makes me dizzy. Artificial dyes make me run to the restroom.

For me, food goes way beyond curbing hunger. Food makes me feel sick, or healthy.

So, why do you blog? What's your topic, and why are you passionate about it? For me, I blog to keep myself accountable. Plus, I learn lots of new tasty ways to eat healthy, thanks to comments from faithful readers like you! Thank you!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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A to Z Blog Challenge Week 2 Recap

The April 2012 A to Z Blog Challenge is nearly half done! Have you been following along? Although today is a day off from the Challenge, I thought I'd post a quick recap. If you missed any posts on Whole Foods Living this week, here's a list of quick links:

April 9:   Eating Raw Honey
April 10:  What is Food Irradiation?
April 11:  Juicing 101: 5 Tips for Tasty, Healthy Juice
April 12:  Kale Chips! Salty Snack Attack!
April 13:  Leafy Green Quiz
April 14: Marvelous Mushrooms

Did you get in on the challenge a little late? Check out my Week 1 recap HERE.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living
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Marvelous Mushrooms

I never really liked mushrooms while growing up. They were those rubbery little things on pizza. Salty. Slimy. Gross. As an adult, I've fallen in love with mushrooms. And, after learning how healthy they are, I eat this fresh whole food almost daily!
White button mushrooms. Photo Courtesy Morguefile.

Did you know raw white mushrooms:
  • Only contain 15 calories per cup
  • Are a source of fiber and protein
  • Are rich in vitamin D and folate
  • Are low in saturated fat   
(Information from Self Magazine Nutrition Data)

Here Are 5 Ways I Indulge in Mushrooms
1. Saute mushrooms and onions, then add them to pasta sauce.
2. Make a fresh sliced mushroom and cheese quesadilla.
3. Top a salad with fresh mushrooms.
4. Partner mushrooms with cherry tomatoes and green pepper chunks on kabobs for the grill.
5. Add mushrooms to risotto, pizza and omelets.

How to you add mushrooms to your plate? Please comment below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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Leafy Green Quiz


Do you know what's on your plate? Since today is day "L" of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge we're testing your leafy knowledge. Peak at this series of photos and see if you can identify these six tasty leafy vegetables. All are edible!







QUIZ ANSWERS:
From top to bottom as you view them on the screen:
Brussel sprouts, red leaf lettuce, cabbage, kale, radicchio and spinach.

How many did you get correct? Please comment below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Photo Credits for the Leafy Green Quiz:
Kale: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kale-Bundle.jpg
Brussel Sprouts: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/755648
Red Leaf Lettuce: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/633729
Spinach: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/805751
Radicchio: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Radicchio_Treviso.jpg
Cabbage: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cabbage_Estonia.jpg

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Kale Chips! Salty Snack Attack!

It's mid-afternoon, and you're craving something salty.
Fresh Kale. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

If you're trying to be healthy, do you grab:
a. A bag of Baked Lays potato chips
b. A handful of salty pretzels
c. A bowl of crispy kale chips

Well, since you know this blog is about whole foods, you better choose crispy kale chips! Who knew the sturdy leafy greens could be made into crispy chips? I discovered this simple recipe when I had an abundance of kale starting to wilt, and needed a quick way to use it up. A Facebook friend said, "Make kale chips!" And, the rest is history! Enjoy!

Crispy Kale Chips
  • Kale, washed and dried
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a sharp knife to trim the tough stems from the centers of each leaf of kale. Arrange the kale on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet making sure not to overlap the greens. Spritz the surface of the kale with olive oil, then sprinkle the greens with coarse sea salt.

Bake the kale in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the leaves are dry and crisp. After the chips cool, enjoy! They will stay fresh in an air-tight container for up to two days -- if you don't finish eating them all in one sitting!

Have you made kale chips? Let me know of any other seasonings you used. I'd like to experiment, but haven't ventured that far yet. Also, have you ever tried making chips from other greens? Please share in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living
Visit me on Facebook!

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Juicing 101: 5 Tips for Tasty, Healthy Juice

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
I love my juicer! I've had it for a few years and have learned much about tossing fruits and veggies in that little spout. Here are five tips for creating tasty juice.

1. Always peel citrus fruits before juicing. The white pith on the underside of the fruit skin makes homemade juice taste bitter.

2. After washing carrots, you can juice the whole thing: greens and all!

3. Mixing fruits and vegetables is a good thing. Some vegetables are bland or bitter when juiced. Try adding an apple to sweeten your veggie drink.

4. Only make as much juice as you'll drink in a day, or a serving. The longer you store the juice, the less nutrients it retains.

5. Don't throw away fibrous vegetable remains inside the juicer. Use this to make soup stock!

Do you have tips for making great, fresh juice? Please share in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living
Follow me on Facebook!

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What is Food Irradiation?

Since I've decided to eat healthier, I read a lot of food labels. One term I come across frequently is irradiation. So, I decided to scout around and see what I could learn about this food processing procedure.

In simplified terms, irradiation is the treatment and preservation of foods with gamma rays, electron beams and x-rays. In the United States, foods processed with irradiation are labeled by the EPA with the Radura symbol or a line of text mentioning irradiation.

(Radura logo courtesy of the USDA, Wikimedia Commons)

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Irradiation :
  • kills disease-causing germs
  • kills parasites and bacteria that cause food born illnesses including E. coli and Salmonella
  • does not mean foods are clean. Irradiated foods should still be washed before eating. They may get dirty during transportation to the grocery store.
  • increases the shelf of fresh produce, inhibits mold growth and reduces sprouting
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Irradiation:
  • does not make food radioactive or change the nutritional value of food
  • does not eliminate all food dangers.
  • makes old produce appear "fresh" and eliminates the "rancid" odor of decomposing produce
  • is not applied to organic foods
So, how do you feel about eating food treated with irradiation? I can't imagine the nutritional value of irradiated foods isn't diminished. I've love to read some credible, not government-based, research about the nutrition of irradiated foods. Please share your comments and links to additional resources below. Thank you!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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Eating Raw Honey

Sometimes the hubby and I like to splurge on an "odd" food purchase. Once, we almost bought a 4-foot long piece of raw sugar cane. But, we decided the dogs would think it's a toy and chew on it before we could learn how to use it.
Honeycomb. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Last week we ventured into the world of raw honey. In the realm of health foods, I know raw honey isn't too strange, but it was a first for us. First of all, it's expensive! I think it was about $12 for a square the size of an everyday, lunch bag sandwich.

But, we love to try new things, so we splurged. Plus, honey is one of nature's perfect whole foods!

Raw honey is delicious. I commented the flavor reminded me of smelling flowers; This was clover honey, so I wasn't too far off. Chewing on the honeycomb is a little strange. It was chewy like gum, but waxy at the same time. I love beeswax in cosmetics, so maybe I should save the comb instead of eating it.

What else did we learn? Raw honey (including the honeycomb) melts in a cup of hot tea. It forms a weird waxy ring around the perimeter of your cup making the tea difficult to drink.

Have you ever eaten raw honey with the honeycomb? I'd love to learn some new ways to eat this sweet treat! Please share your tips in the comments below! Otherwise, I'm just going to keep nibbling on that square bit by bit...

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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A to Z Blog Challenge Week 1 Recap


I did it! I survived week one of my first April A to Z Blog Challenge! In case you missed it, during the month of April I am blogging about nutrition, living healthy, easy recipes and sharing whole foods tips by focusing on one letter of the alphabet each day (excluding Sundays).


 Here's a look back at the past week:

April 1: An Apple A Day: Kicking off the 2012 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge!
April 2: Easy Triple Berry Smoothie Recipe
April 3: Is Cinnamon a Health Food?
April 4: How to Get More Vitamin D
April 5: How to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally
April 6: How to Eat Flax Seed
April 7: Gluten-Free Food List

Want to know what I'll be blogging about for the rest of the month? You'll have to stop by Whole Foods Living to find out! Bookmark this page, follow me on Twitter or stop by and chat on Facebook. I'm always ready to gab about living healthier!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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Gluten-Free Food List

Fruits and vegetables are gluten-free. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Wheat is a wonderfully nutritious whole grain. But, if you have Celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten, eating certain grains -- including wheat -- can make you extremely sick. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. Some oats are also tainted with gluten, because oats are often processed in the same facilities at other glutinous grains.

When I learned I had a sensitivity to gluten, I immediately thought of all the things I couldn't eat. Pancakes, bread, salad dressing, ice cream... the list never ended. But, switching to a whole foods diet and eating very little processed foods made it so much easier to be aware of gluten-tainted foods.

If your doctor has recommended a gluten-free diet, here is a list of naturally gluten-free foods to add to your shopping list. And by the way, you can have Celiac disease and eat your cake too. Just make it with rice flour! :)

Gluten-Free Food List:
  • fresh fruits
  • fresh vegetables
  • nuts
  • meat (not covered in breading or sauces)
  • lentils
  • beans (navy, kidney, pinto, black...all of them!)
  • minimally processed milk and cheese
  • eggs
  • corn and hominy
  • peanuts
  • potatoes
  • seeds
  • rice (jasmine, brown, white...all of them!)
  • olive oil
  • apple cider vinegar
  • agave syrup
See, there really are many, many foods you can still enjoy. This list is not exhaustive, and just what I could think of off the top of my head. Speak with your doctor about any specific food concerns you have while eating gluten-free.

Here are some gluten-free ideas for Easter brunch, or a special weekend dessert!
5 Naturally Gluten-Free Desserts
Gluten-Free Easter Brunch Ideas

Do you have a favorite gluten-free snack? I'm always looking for new healthy afternoon snacks to munch on while I write. Please share your snack ideas in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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How to Eat Flax Seed

Whole Flax Seed.
Photo courtesy Rumun999, Wikipedia Commons.

I love listening to Dr. Oz, The Doctors and health segments on the morning news. But, sometimes they talk about eating things I've never heard of.

Last year someone mentioned the health benefits of flax seed. The first thing that came to mind were the seeds in my pet bird's food bowl. Aren't seeds bird food? Now, a year later, I can't imagine not adding flax seed to my meals and baking endeavors. Here's why!

The Benefits of Flax Seed
Milled flax seeds aid in digestion (um, keeps you regular), helps lower cholesterol and may decrease your risk of heart attack, according to the Mayo Clinic. To get the full benefit of flax seeds, eat them milled or ground. Whole seeds can be difficult to digest, and pass through your system without breaking down. Flax seed oil is also beneficial, but doesn't contain the same amount of fiber found in seeds.

How to Eat Flax
  • Stir a tablespoon of milled flax seed into a bowl of oatmeal.
  • Add a sprinkle of ground flax seed to a fruit smoothie to give it a nutty flavor.
  • Mix milled flax seed into bread dough, oatmeal cookie dough or whole wheat pizza dough.
  • Use flax seed oil in homemade salad dressing.
How do you incorporate flax seed into your diet? 
Please share your tips and tricks in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Flax seed oil is also fabulous for skin care.  
Benefits and Uses of Flax Oil for Youthful Skin
The Facts About Flaxseed Oil for Healthy Skin

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How to Dye Easter Eggs Naturally

Easter is just a few days away! So, I thought a nod to coloring Easter eggs would be the perfect "E" post for the April 2012 A to Z Blog Challenge.

It's probably no surprise that I'm not a fan of artificial dyes and coloring. So, I thought it'd be fun to share a list of whole foods you can use to dye Easter eggs naturally.

Pink or Red: fresh chopped beets, raspberries, red rooibos tea leaves, cranberry juice or cherries
Orange: shredded carrots
Yellow: turmeric powder, curry powder, ground cumin, dandelion blossoms
Green: kale and spinach
Blue: grapes, blueberries, violet blossoms
Lavender/Purple-Brown: grape juice, red onion skins, red cabbage leaves
Tan: black pekoe tea bags or black brewed coffee

Simply soak raw white-shelled eggs in a mixture of mashed fruits, organic flower petals, edible blossoms or vegetables in a pot of boiling water. After 10 minutes of cooking you have a beautifully hard-boiled, colored egg. The more organic matter you toss in the pot, the more vibrant the egg colors!

I created the egg pictured on this post by wrapping the egg in red onion skins and a thin cloth tied with a twistie tie. Then, added dandelion blooms to the boiling water. (See the yellow highlight on the right side!)

After the 10 minutes, add a splash red wine vinegar to the pot of eggs to seal the color. Let the eggs soak for 5 minutes. The acidity of the vinegar makes the colors more vibrant and long-lasting. The longer you soak the eggs, the darker and more vibrant the color. Rinse the organic matter off the eggs, and store in the refrigerator until it's time to eat them!

What are you favorite ways to dye Easter eggs naturally? Please share in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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How to Get More Vitamin D

We all know vitamins are essential to good health, but do you know why? Today we're talking about Vitamin D -- one of the most plentiful vitamins this time of year.
Fresh Salmon. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Why is Vitamin D Healthy?
Making sure you get your daily recommended allowance of vitamin D each day helps your body absorb calcium, which leads to strong bones and teeth. The vitamin also keeps your immune system balanced, is needed for nerve functioning and muscle movement.

Babies up to one year of age need 400 IU of Vitamin D each day. From ages 1 to 70, 600 IU of the vitamin are recommended by the United States Office of Dietary Supplements. Senior citizens age 71 and older should bump up their Vitamin D intake to 800 IU each day.

Getting a Vitamin D Fix
During the sunny days of spring and summer it's easy to get enough Vitamin D. Take a quick break outside in the sun. By exposing the backs of your hands to direct sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes two to three times each week you'll be set, according to Everyday Health. Just don't overdo it -- or your skin will be prone to premature wrinkling!

But, this wouldn't be a whole foods blog without telling you how to get vitamin D in your diet, now would it? During the dreary days of winter, or when you simply can't slip away for a soak in the sun, eat your vitamin D. Try adding these whole foods to your diet:
  • Fresh white mushrooms
  • Salmon
  • Egg yolks
  • Tuna
How do you prefer to get your vitamin D? In the sun, or on your plate? Comment below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Want to know more about vitamins? Check out some of my previous posts:
Energy-Boosting B Vitamins
Juicing Carrots: A Burst of Vitamin A
What Does Vitamin C Do?

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Is Cinnamon a Health Food?

Cinnamon Sticks. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Who knew tree bark could be both delicious and healthy? Today we're talking about cinnamon for the A to Z Blog Challenge! Although medical opinions vary regarding the health benefits and effectiveness of cinnamon, the tree-based spice is known for:
  • reducing inflammation
  • killing bacteria
  • lowering blood-sugar levels
  • adding antioxidants to your diet
~Learn more about cinnamon on WebMD.~

So, why not add cinnamon to your daily diet? Here are five easy ways:
  1. Sprinkle cinnamon on cereal. It works best on hot oatmeal, plain puffed rice cereal or shredded wheat squares.
  2. Mix cinnamon into your favorite baked goods recipe. Don't cinnamon-sugar cookies or apple-cinnamon bread sound good right about now?
  3. Add a dash of cinnamon, a handful of dried raisins or cranberries, and a sprinkle of stevia to leftover jasmine rice. You now have an instant no-fat rice pudding-type dessert.
  4. Stir cinnamon into pancake batter or sprinkle it over french toast in lieu of high-calorie syrup.
  5. And, my final and favorite tip: Place fresh cinnamon sticks in a pot of simmering chili. My husband does this to add a sweet and spicy flavor to his chili. Before serving, remove the cinnamon sticks.
How do you like to use cinnamon? Please share in the comments section!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Don't want to miss any posts on Whole Foods Living? Sign up for email updates in the left margin of this page. Or follow me, Angela Tague, on Twitter, Facebook or Google+! I also play around on Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

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Easy Triple Berry Smoothie Recipe

Sometimes I don't want a heavy breakfast before I exercise in the morning. That's when I turn to my single-serve blender and create a refreshing smoothie.

This easy berry smoothie recipe is a nutritious mix of nut-based protein, vitamin-packed fruits and healthy seeds. People with a lactose intolerance or a sensitivity to soy can indulge without worry.
Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Triple Berry Breakfast Smoothie
2 cups almond milk, regular or vanilla flavored
1/2 cup ice cubes
1/3 cup frozen raspberries
1/3 cup frozen blackberries
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1 Tbs light agave syrup or raw honey
1 Tbs milled flax seed

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse on a high setting to chop the frozen berries and ice cubes. Blend until smooth, and enjoy your berry smoothie.

Next time try a Chocolate-Covered Banana Smoothie or a Raspberry-Banana Smoothie. Both make a great, light breakfast or a delicious afternoon snack.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Did you miss day one of the 2012 Blogging from A to Z April challenge? Check out my "A" post about apples!

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An Apple A Day: Kicking off the 2012 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge!

Fresh Apples. Photo by Scott Bauer.
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, that's the perfect way to kickstart the 2012 Blogging from A to Z April challenge! Today, we're talking about America's favorite fruit: apples!

If you're new to Whole Foods Living, you're in for a (healthy!) treat. Each day this month (excluding the last four Sundays) I'll spotlight a healthy whole food, ways to live chemical-free and helpful cooking tips to keep your meals healthy. I'm even planning a nutrition quiz or two!

So, Are Apples Healthy?
Apples are packed with phytonutrients that help regulate blood sugar and balance the good bacteria in the digestive tract, according to The World's Healthiest Foods. To get the most nutrition from an apple, eat it in it's whole foods form. Apple juice and applesauce are a result of processing, and lack the fiber and vitamins found in a fresh apple.

Healthy Apple Recipes
One of my favorite quick breakfasts is crispy apple slices dipped in nut butter. From peanuts to almonds or cashews, you really can't go wrong. The combination of protein (from the nuts) and sugar (from the apple) is the perfect post-morning workout snack.

If you're looking for a healthy alternative to apple pie, try making sweet baked apples. After halving and coring an apple, place it skin-side down in a baking pan with a little water. Fill the apple with a mixture of organic raisins, chopped walnuts, a dash of cinnamon and a big squeeze of honey or agave syrup. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. This sweet treat will satisfy your dessert cravings without the calories of a fat-filled pie crust or chemically-treated refined sugar.

What are your favorite ways to enjoy fresh apples? Please share your ideas or links to recipes in the comments below! I'm always looking for a new ways to indulge in apples.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Check back tomorrow for day two of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. I'll be sharing a yummy Berry smoothie recipe for the letter B!
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