Top 10 Most Delicious Posts of 2014 on Whole Foods Living

Another year is winding down, so I thought it might be fun to warm up a second helping of the 10 most popular posts in 2014!
Graphic Credit: Freeimages
  1. My Gluten-Free Pasta Choice: Mung Bean Noodles
  2. Gluten-Free Food List
  3. Gluten-Free Soy Sauce Alternative: Liquid Amino Acids
  4. Eating Raw Honey
  5. Energy-Boosting B Vitamins
  6. The 8-week Healthy Skin Diet by Karen Fischer
  7. What Is Xanthan Gum?
  8. Are bamboo shoots healthy?
  9. How to Eat Flax Seed
  10. Juicing Carrots: A Burst of Vitamin A
What's your favorite post on Whole Foods Living from 2014? What topics would you like to read about in 2015? Tell me in the comments below and have a Happy New Year!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

5 Fascinating Facts About Peppermint

Peppermint bark. Peppermint tea. Peppermint candy canes.
Photo Credit: Flickr

Peppermint oil may add a seasonal taste to your holiday baking, but how much do you really know about this plant?

Here's five fun facts to share with your holiday guests this week!

1. Mentha piperita -- the scientific name for peppermint -- was used for medicinal purposes as early as 1000 B.C. The essential oil is still prevalent in modern medicines that offer relief from headaches, nausea, irritable bowels, muscle pain, congestion and diarrhea, according to the University of Washington's Department of Family Medicine.

2. Peppermint plants grow in North America and Europe, although the plant originated in the Mediterranean. The herb, which is a hybrid of water mint and spearmint, can grow up to 3 feet tall in a well-tended garden.

3. Peppermint oil can soothe inflammation and sunburns. The oil also soothes itchy dry skin, scabies, is an antiseptic to clean wounds and soothes acne. Children under 7 years of age and pregnant women should avoid using peppermint oil without the guidance of their family physician.

4. In the early 1900's, peppermint was used to control pests. The strong scent of peppermint oil worked as an insect repellent and a lure for nuisance rats. Business owners placed peppermint oil soaked cloths in bags, then had ferrets chase the rats into the bags.

5. Breathing the fumes of peppermint oil though aromatherapy produces positive results for humans. The oil stimulates the senses, mildly reducing fatigue and depression.

Sources and Suggested Further Reading:
University of Washington, Department of Family Medicine: Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
University of Maryland Medical Center: Peppermint
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Peppermint
Annie's Remedy: Homemade Insect Repellent
Earth Easy: Natural Insect Pest Control
Essential Oils: Peppermint essential oil information

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: I wrote this article a few years ago. This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on December 8, 2010.

Book Review: Wheat Belly Total Health


William Davis, MD is back with another delicious serving of grain-free advice in his latest book, Wheat Belly Total Health (2014).

Whether you follow a wheat-free diet or simply want to understand nutrition and how wheat affects the body, Davis is ready to help!

In his fourth Wheat Belly book, Davis makes it very clear that going wheat-free isn't enough. Now it's time to consider trying a grain-free lifestyle. Why? In Wheat Belly Total Health he explains the history of grains and how the body digests these foods.

In a nutshell, grains were initially mass produced to feed livestock, not humans. Animals process foods differently than we do, and we simply aren't designed to get much good from these foods. Davis even points out ailments he feels are caused by and aggravated when modern-day genetically-modified grains are consumed.

Davis goes on to outline how to transition into a grain-free lifestyle including recommendations for what should stay on your menu, including a variety of lean meats, beans, nuts, full-fat dairy products, oils and fresh produce.

Finally, after making the transition, Davis explains that several health concerns, including blood sugar spikes, inflammation and thyroid issues can be calmed with a grain-free diet. As a happy side effect, many people lose excess weight, feel an increase in energy and experience greater mental clarity on a grain-free diet.

Historical references, sourced arguments, recipes and shopping list ideas are also included in this incredibly informative guide to cutting wheat (and all grains) from your daily diet.

Have you adopted a grain-free or wheat-free lifestyle? Tell me how it's working for you in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Disclosure: The book, Wheat Belly Total Health, mentioned in this blog post was provided free of charge for review purposes. No monetary compensation was sought or awarded in exchange for this post or the upcoming book review. All thoughts expressed on Whole Foods Living are solely my own. ~Angela

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Easy Gluten-free Holiday Grape Salad

Over the last few weeks I've been brainstorming a Christmas dinner menu.

Easy Gluten-free Holiday Grape Salad, Photo by Angela Tague
It's a given I'll make my decadent creamy mashed potatoes, a few green veggies, corn casserole, homemade rolls, something for my meat-eating guests, a lentil loaf, homemade candy, a few desserts and a tray of appetizers.

As I made out my list I realized one key food group was being sorely neglected.

Fruit!

On Thanksgiving cranberries get loads of attention in sauces, stuffing and chutneys. Apples make an appearance in pie and salads.

But what fruit is popular at Christmas? Sugar plums? Are those even a real thing?

So, this year I've decided I'll whip up my crowd pleasing simple grape salad. Its vibrant flavor is a refreshing contrast against the creamy, comforting potatoes and gravy. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to make. Delicious AND easy? Sign me up!

Healthy Holiday Grape Salad 

Photo by Angela Tague
Servings: 8-10 side dishes
  • 2 heaping cups seedless red grapes, whole
  • 2 heaping cups seedless green grapes, whole
  • 1- 5.3 oz. carton of Chobani lemon blended Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Wash and pat dry both varieties of grapes. Place them in a pretty serving bowl. Stir in one carton of Chobani lemon blended Greek yogurt and sprinkle the walnuts atop the salad. Cover and chill the fruit until meal time, then enjoy!

Do you have a favorite healthy, whole foods fruit dish to serve at the holidays? Tell me about it in the comments below! I'm still working on the Christmas menu and might be persuaded to make a few more additions!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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FDA Serves Up Calorie Counts on Menus

Photo Credit: morgueFile
Restaurant dinners come with too many indulgences.

Appetizers. Starters. Sides. Desserts.

What ever happened to simply enjoying an entree and calling it a night?

I don't know about you, but almost every meal I eat outside of the home is higher in calories than what I'd cook for myself. Why? Because it feels OK to splurge when you're out.

Well, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is hoping to bring us all back down to reality (and responsible portion sizes) when it comes to those evenings when we don't have to cook dinner ourselves.

A new ruling from the FDA that goes into effect in 2015 states that restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, movie theater snack bars and some convenience/grocery stores with ready-made foods with more than 20 locations must list calorie counts for each prepared food and drink item listed for sale.

In two years, vending machine operators will also have to follow these rules and post calorie counts in a visible area on the machines.

So, in the near future expect to see a calorie count next to items on a salad bar, on your favorite chain restaurant's menu board and on the break room snack machine.

Want to know more details? Read the full FDA report HERE.

So, how do you feel about the new calorie counts on menus?
Will they make dinner less enjoyable because you know how indulgent you're being?
Or, will you make healthier choices since the numbers are right in front of you?

Tell me in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Whole Foods Laxative Smoothie Recipe

Photo credit: Robert Gourley, Flickr
A few weeks ago I had surgery. In my discharge papers, the nurse highlighted my need for extra rest. Apparently my bowels got the message loud and clear too.

If you've ever been put under with anesthesia or taken narcotic painkillers, you know they can slow things down in your body.

Simply said, you can't make bowel movements very easily after surgery.

My nurse recommended sipping a mug of warmed prune juice to stay regular during my recovery. I loved this natural, non-medicinal option and gave it a try. 

After several mugs of juice, things were moving. Slowly. Too slowly.

So, I decided to add a little fiber and see if I could make a gentle, nutritious morning smoothie to keep me regular. (I know, this isn't the sexiest of topics, but it is helpful for those who need it!!) Here's what worked for me!

Simple Laxative Smoothie

  • 2 cups spinach, raw and washed
  • 1 cup prune juice, pure without sugar added
  • 1/2 cucumber (about 1 cup chopped)
Place all three ingredients into the blender and combine until smooth. The prune juice adds a refreshing sweetness to the spinach. 

Plus, this combination is full of vitamin C, potassium and fiber to help get your digestive system back on track.

Do you have an all-natural concoction, food, drink or smoothie you use to stay regular? Tell me about it in the comments below. I'm always looking for ways to stay healthy without the need for a pharmacy.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

4 Ways to Save on Your Online Grocery Shopping

Shopping for groceries online is an easy way to save time and money. But are you getting the best deals out there?
Stock the pantry! Photo Credit: morgueFile

Here are four simple tips for saving some dough next time you're restocking the pantry.

1. Don't pay for shipping
. More online retailers are offering free shipping as an incentive to shop on their site.

One easy way to qualify is to sign up for the site's newsletter before making your purchase. Often you'll receive a welcome message that offers a free shipping code, coupons and a current sale flyer.

But don't stop there: Plan future online grocery shopping around free-shipping promotions, which pop up often on the site's banner ads. Free-shipping usually occurs every few weeks, just before month-end to increase sales or when a minimum purchase amount has been satisfied.

2. Browse clearance sections. Just like brick-and-mortar stores, online retailers have clearance sections. They're the perfect place to stock up on long-lasting staples like whole grain pasta, canned food and sesonal baking mixes.

Online retailers need to clear out their warehouses to make way for new seasonal items, so take advantage of end-of-season deals. Champagne prices drop during December so consumers can stock up for New Year's Eve celebrations, according to Fox Business News.

Just after the holidays get baking supplies for a fraction of the cost. Or, stock up on discount candy at the end of February -- after the Valentine's Day rush. Expect deep discounts of up to 80 percent off food in seasonal packaging.

3. Check your e-mail. It's easy to simply log on to your favorite online grocer and start shopping. Instead, take an extra minute to check your e-mail first. Retailers will send out last-minute daily specials or weekend promotions to move excess inventory. Sometimes buyers overestimate the popularity of an item: Instead of getting stuck with perishables, they pass the savings on to you.

If your online grocer isn't on top of daily discounts, try clicking on the "live chat" feature on the retailer's website and asking for a discount. Since every penny counts, start small and ask for 10 percent off your order, or to match a sale at the company's brick-and-mortar store. If the associate doesn't offer a deal, mention you'll wait and place your order when those items do go on sale. Since no business wants to lose a sale, the associate will probably counter offer with a discount to keep you online and ordering.

To get even more bang for your buck follow your favorite online grocer on Twitter or be a Facebook fan. Many offer exclusive coupon codes and one-day sale promotions to their loyal followers. Shouldn't that be you?

4. Use saved grocery lists. Time is money. Some online shopping sites offer to remember your past orders. If you routinely buy the same products, this feature saves time, advises online magazine Everyday with Rachel Ray. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can be on your way to restocking the pantry without scouring several sections of the website.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: I wrote this article a few years ago. It was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on February 17, 2012. 

Goodnight, Garden. Hello, Winter!

My Iowa garden during winter.
Last week I put the garden to bed for the winter.

I removed the withered foliage and piled the stepping stones in the corner. Now the soil will rest and enjoy natural mulch from decomposing fall leaves and a long winter drink from the upcoming snowfall.

Next spring the garden will get rewarded with a fresh till and new seedlings to nourish.

I'm going to miss my summer garden. So, I've been brainstorming ways to maintain my healthy whole foods living lifestyle when fresh, locally grown produce is at a minimum in Iowa.

3 Ways to Eat Healthy During Winter

  1. Enjoy garden goodies from the freezer. I have several containers of homemade applesauce and bags of frozen tomatoes ready to go.
  2. Buy more fresh frozen fruits and vegetables than canned varieties to avoid added sugar and salt.
  3. Shop at the local meat market which offers some locally grown greenhouse produce and fresh cheese during winter.
How do you make healthy eating decisions during the frozen winter months? Tell me in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Which Color of Onion is Healthiest?


Photo Credit: morgueFile
I've always read that colorful food is more nutrient dense than its pale white counterparts.

So when it comes to white, yellow and red onions, does it really matter which lands in your grocery cart?

Let's turn to The National Onion Association for a little lesson.

Approximately 87 percent of onions grown in the United States are yellow. Just 8 percent are red and 5 percent are white.

The spicy vegetable is grown year-round in 20 states from coast to coast, with Washington producing the most. In a year, the United States grows 6.2 billion pounds of onions!

OK, so back to the nutrition of onions. I reached out to the Onionista at The National Onion Association and here's what she had to say:

Source: Twitter
So, they're all good for you! Pick your favorite color and enjoy!

Photo Credit: morgueFile
Onions are a healthy whole food that are easy to add to any meal.
  • Breakfast: Add onions to omelets, fritatas, homemade sausage, vegetable hash and quiche.
  • Lunch: Top a sandwich, pizza, salad or bowl of chili with fresh onions.
  • Dinner: Try grilling or roasting onion halves and stuffing them as a side dish. Or, serve pearl onions in a cream sauce.
Onions are high in vitamin C, manganese, foliate and fiber. If you're trying to reduce fat and salt, but want extra flavor in your meal, try onions!

I put together a public Pinterest board called "I Love onions!" to give you a little inspiration. It's a collection of recipes, tips for growing onions and even how to use them to make a cough syrup!

So, how do you like to eat or use onions? Tell me in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Eating Bugs: The Secret Behind the Red Food Coloring Carmine

Do you secretly enjoy nibbling on red-colored candy? Licorice. Taffy. Suckers.

You may want to stop daydreaming about those indulgence to digest this bit of news: Some FDA approved red dyes originate from insects.
Photo Credit: Flickr

Yes. Bugs.

Now it's time to scour the pantry. Take a peek at that box of red candy, strawberry cake mix or bottle of red wine vinegar. If you notice the ingredients cochineal extract, carminic acid or carmine -- all common red dyes -- on the label, the foods contain dried bugs.

Red Bugs in My Food
Red dye made from carminic acid is derived from the female Dactylopius coccus costa, or cochineal insect. Although the Food and Drug Administration requires the bug-derivative to be pasteurized or treated with a similar process to eliminate Salmonella microorganisms, the thought of eating foods tinted red with insect innards may make your stomach turn -- or worse, cause an allergic reaction.

Red Dye Can be Dangerous
After accepting the bug-component of cochineal extract, carminic acid or carmine, take heed if you experience allergic reactions to food additives. In a 1997 study by the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Allergy at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor researchers confirmed an allergic reaction to a carmine-dyed frozen treat. Within three hours of eating a frozen treat dyed with carmine, a 27-year-old subject reported anaphylaxis, nausea and hypotension with tachycardia.

Not a New Concept
Native Americans and Mexicans have been using the natural red bug dye for centuries. When carminic acid is mixed with natural dyes from other sources, fade resistant red, purple and blue dyes are created and used to color fibers for cloth making, according to the University of California at Los Angeles' The Midred E. Mathias Botanical Garden. Today, Peru and the Canary Islands are top producers of carminic acid.

Cochineal extract, carminic acid or carmine also add color to non-food items. Before picking up a tube of lipstick, compact of eyeshadow or bottle of shampoo peek at the ingredient list. You might be surprised to find bugs in your favorite products.

Sources and Suggested Further Reading:

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on February 4, 2011.  

Gluten-free, One Pan, 10-minute Vegetarian Stir Fry

I love to cook healthy meals extra fast during my work breaks. Well today I'm sharing one of my go-to favorites filled with a rainbow of veggies and vegetarian protein.

I'm always on the look out for more ways to get protein into my vegetarian diet. Recently I started enjoying tempeh, a fermented soy-based product that can be sliced and used much like chicken breast.

I find that I like tempeh pan fried until it's lightly crisped, then mixed with vegetables. So, voila! That's how I came about this super simple meal that clocks in at about 300 calories.

Gluten-free, One Pan, 10-minute Vegetarian Stir Fry

3 oz. tempeh (I like Lightlife Tempeh with Flax)
1/2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cups Mandarin stir fry mixed vegetables, frozen
Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  1. Put the extra virgin olive oil in a fry pan and warm it to a medium-high setting. While the pan gets hot, cut the tempeh into small, bite-size cubes and slice the mushrooms. I prefer to buy the mushrooms already sliced since they are the same price as whole mushrooms.
  2. Add the tempeh and mushrooms to the oil. Let them lightly brown on one side for about three to four minutes. Toss, and let the other sides begin to brown for another few minutes.
  3. Add the frozen mixed vegetables, reduce the heat to medium and put a lid on the pan. Let the frozen vegetables soften.
  4. Once the vegetables are hot, sprinkle the mixture with some Bragg's Liquid Aminos to give the meal that salty soy sauce-like flavor without any gluten. That's it!

So, tell me: How do you like to use tempeh in the kitchen? I'm looking for new ways to enjoy this protein-packed soy product.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Want more healthy food ideas? Visit my public Pinterest boards: Whole Foods Living and Feed Me Zucchini!

Are You a Wheat Belly Fan?

The last few years, discussions about wheat, grains and gluten have dominated everything from social media news feeds, to health programs on television.

You can barely go a day without hearing something about going gluten-free, avoiding wheat or living a grain-free lifestyle.

Perhaps one of the best known proponents of a grain-free lifestyle is cardiologist Dr. William Davis, author of the famed Wheat Belly series of books.

In September, his latest book, Wheat Belly Total Health, hit bookstore shelves. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a review copy and have the opportunity to ask him a few questions.

So, I'd like to turn it over to you, my faithful readers.

If you could ask Dr. William Davis a question about nutrition, going wheat-free, starting a grain-free diet or anything health-related, what would you ask?

Tell me your questions in the comments below and I'll share what he has to say in an upcoming blog post!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Disclosure: The book, Wheat Belly Total Health, mentioned in this blog post was provided free of charge for review purposes. No monetary compensation was sought or awarded in exchange for this post or the upcoming book review. All thoughts expressed on Whole Foods Living are solely my own. ~Angela

4 Surprising Sources of Salt

During my crusade to live a healthier lifestyle, I've been taking note of the amount of sodium in food.
Photo Credit: Morguefile

Whether you're trying to reduce sodium in your diet to decrease water retention and risk of heart disease, or need add a salt to boost low blood pressure, check out this list of salty foods.

Soda or Pop 

That fizzy carbonated beverage some people simply refer to as a Coke can pack a big salty punch in your diet. 

If you cling to a bottle of Diet Coke or crave an afternoon Pepsi, take a peek at the label. One 16 ounce bottle of Diet Coke contains 60mg of sodium. If you down a six-pack a day, that's 360mg of sodium just from beverages.

Bread

Since salt is used as a preservative, it's commonly found in processed foods. To make bread last longer on grocery store shelves, sodium is added to the dough. A loaf of homemade bread starts to grow mold in just three to four days due to the small amount of salt and a lack of preservatives.

For example, two slices of Sara Lee 45 Calories and Delightful white bread -- which markets itself as a healthy option -- contains 240mg of salt. That's 10 percent of your daily intake of salt (based on a 2,000 calorie diet) in just two slices of plain bread!

Condiments

Sure, many foods taste better dipped in ketchup, barbeque sauce or salad dressing. But, condiments are one of the worst hidden sources of salt. For example, 2 tablespoons of Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing contain 260mg of sodium. If you're like most people, you use more than 2 tablespoons on an entree-size salad.

Other condiments high in salt include pickles, relish, packaged pasta sauces and soy sauce. To keep your sodium in check, stick to small portions and enjoy condiments as a treat, not an everyday indulgence.

Cheese 

Who knew cheese was full of salt? Since I'm actually trying to include salt in my diet, this was a positive finding since I love cheese. I like to top fresh fruit or a salad with cottage cheese or snack on a stick of string cheese. I learned that one stick of Crystal Farms Wisconsin Spiral String Cheese has 200mg of sodium -- a great snack to boost my low blood pressure.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: This article was originally published on Yahoo Voices on April 11, 2012 by myself, Angela Tague.

19+ Healthy Ways to Cook With Fall Apples

Fresh fall apples from the farm!
It's apple picking season!

A few weeks ago I plucked some plump, red fruit from the apple trees on my mom's farm. In addition to eating them as snacks, I've been trying to figure out what to do with all these apples!

Of course the usual fall favorites came to mind: apple pie, apple crisp, apple muffins.

Although those classics are super tasty, they're not the healthiest ways to use this seasonal whole food.

So, I made a big batch of applesauce lightly seasoned with honey and cinnamon -- and it's fantastic! To be honest, I also made one small pan of apple crisp. But, the rest of those apples will be gracing some of these amazing apple recipes I've collected on Pinterest:

Healthy Apple Recipes for Fall


Do you have a favorite fall apple recipe I should add to my Pinterest board above? Tell me the URL in the comments below and I'll check it out!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Don't miss another post from Whole Foods Living! Subscribe (in the right margin of this page) for email updates!

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Is Pumpkin Safe for Dogs?

As the weather cools, pumpkin pies and gardens full of ripening pumpkins often peak the curiosity of the family pet. So, is it safe for dogs to eat a little of the whole foods fall treat?
Photo credit: Flickr

Well, yes and no.

Pumpkin--plain, unflavored canned or fresh--is not toxic to dogs, but some sweetened pumpkin products (pie, muffins, dessert bars) can cause a disruption in the pet's digestion system or serious illness.


A Small Taste of Pie

Many pet owners don't blink an eye at giving the family pet the last bite of a meal. When friends and family gather for a holiday meal, it's likely someone will slip the family pet a few bites of turkey, mashed potatoes and even some pumpkin pie.

According to veterinary toxicologist Dr. Eric Dunayer, a bite or two of homemade pumpkin pie will not harm the dog. However, too much of the dessert can cause diarrhea, an upset stomach or even pancreatitis, an inflammatory condition of the pancreas.

If the pumpkin pie was commercially prepared and sold as "sugar-free", check the ingredient label for the presence of the artificial sweetener xylitol. This sugar substitute is toxic to pets and can cause seizures, liver failure and a sudden drop in blood sugar levels.

Call your veterinarian's office immediately if the pet has eaten any product containing xylitol.

The Dog Ate My Jack-o-Lantern!

If the family pet has a penchant for grazing in the family garden or playing with a carved pumpkin, there's no need to worry.

David McCluggage, D.V.M., C.V.A. from the Chaparral Animal Health Center in Longmont, Colo. recommends feeding dogs fresh foods, including pumpkin. When introduced into the pet's diet gradually, the squash becomes a healthy addition to the dog's meals.

But, if the holiday decoration was painted, embellished with toxic permanent markers or contains a candle, it should be taken away from the pet immediately.

Pumpkin Cures Dog Ailments

Actually, your veterinarian may recommend pumpkin as an all-natural cure for diarrhea. The fibrous vegetable helps restore the balance of moisture in the dog's intestines, making his bowel movements more regular, according to VetInfo.

Pets that turn around and consume their own feces--a condition known as coprophagia--may also benefit from pumpkin. The Partnership for Animal Welfare (PAW) recommends adding plain canned pumpkin (2 to 4 tablespoons) to the pet's daily diet to add an unpleasant aroma to the animal's feces--in hopes of deterring coprophagia.

Additional Information about pet care:
Sharon Kopinak, D.V.M., "Natural Diet and Natural Medicine for Pets", Consumer Health Organization of Canada

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on September 14, 2010 by myself, Angela Tague.

Carbohydrates: Diet Fuel

Today's post was written by guest blogger, Catherine Daniels. She gives us some great insight on the importance of carbohydrates for our bodies. After all, carbs aren't evil. In fact, we need them to stay healthy. Read on!

 

Carbohydrates are the main energy source for the human body. 
Photo credit: Morguefile

They burn much faster than fat because they produce ATPs (adenosine triphosphate) which is the main source of energy for muscle contraction.

Digestible carbohydrates are classified as simple or complex, and are found in grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Plants store starch as a food reserve making seeds and cereals as well as peas and potatoes rich sources of starch.
 
Daily Intake of Carbohydrates
As long as you have enough carbohydrates, proteins will be spared for creation of energy which is their main function. One gram of carbohydrates releases 4 kcal so that means that our nervous system needs around 60g of carbohydrates each day.

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and they provide fuel for normal functioning of our body. The ideal proportion of carbohydrates compared to the rest of the nutrients is 50-50. This is approximately 4 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of the overall body weight. Of course, this depends on your energy level, activities and goals. If you are trying to pack on some weight you should increase this optimal rate. 

The Importance of Fruits
Fruits are the perfect carbohydrate because they digest slowly. They satisfy a sweet tooth and do not lead to a spike in insulin because fruit contains powerful phytochemicals.

Watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene and antioxidants that help prevent heart diseases, defend the body from cancer and stimulate muscle recovery. 

Strawberries contain a larger amount of antioxidants and vitamin C than oranges and they are good for bones and joints.

Mango is a rich source of vitamin C and carotenoids. 

Pineapple contains enzymes that can help improve the health of our joints.

Based on the content of carbohydrates, fresh fruits should be divided into three groups:

  1. Those with less carbohydrates which you can consume in large quantities: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cornelian cherries, melons, berries, citrus, rowan, medlar, oranges and tangerines.
  1. Those with more carbohydrates which should be consumed in small quantities: apricots, peach, plum, apple sauce, orange juice, tangerine juice, apricots, peaches.
  1. Those with the most carbohydrates which should be consumed occasionally: apples, cherries, pears, grapes, bananas, fresh figs, pineapples, mangoes and avocados.
So, eat fruit more often. Enjoy fruit raw to get the most nutrition out of them. 

Catherine Daniels is a freelance writer and fitness enthusiast who promotes fruit-enriched diets and healthy living.

Banana Bread Smoothie Recipe

It's no secret I love to start my day with a healthy, decadent-flavored smoothie.
Photo credit: Morguefile

I often sip on a Chocolate-Covered Banana Smoothie or Raspberry-Banana Smoothie.

Hey, who says breakfast can't be good for me and delicious?

Today I came up with an oh so tasty treat! Fall is in the air and I've been wanting to make up a loaf of banana bread. Or, maybe pumpkin bread. Anyway, since I haven't had time yet, I adapted the flavor into a smoothie. Enjoy!

Banana Bread Smoothie 

1 serving (approx. 300 calories)
  • 1 cup soy milk (I used 8th Continent Soy Milk, Original)
  • 1 large banana, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dry quick oats
1. Place the milk, banana and honey in the blender.
2. Top with the oats and cinnamon.
3. Combine until creamy, pour and enjoy!

*Note: If you are using a small, single-serve blender, invert the layering of the ingredients, so the oats aren't the first ingredient to touch the blender blades.

Do you have a favorite morning go-to smoothie recipe? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: You can find me on Facebook and Twitter for more delicious ideas!

The Easiest Way to Preserve Whole Tomatoes

Photo Credit: morgueFile
You just never know what you're going to learn in yoga class.

Last week I shared some of the garden bounty with a few gals and one told me her favorite way to preserve tomatoes is freezing them whole.

That seems so much simpler than canning tomatoes or making several batches of pasta sauce and chili to freeze for the winter.

So, I gave it a test run.

She said to pick, wash, bag and freeze the tomatoes whole. When you want to cook with them, run the frozen fruits under warm water to loosen the skin. Then, peel the tomatoes, chop and cook.

She likes to use them in everything from soup to sauces. And, she's right! It was super easy and my latest batch of chili turned out fabulous made with the frozen tomatoes. I was worried about a grainy texture, but the tomatoes were perfect.

So, what's your favorite way to preserve tomatoes?

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Healthy Beauty: BWC Tangerine Polish, Rosewood Lip Gloss & Warm Pecan Lipstick Fall Makeup Preview

Tangerine toes!
Here at Whole Foods Living, being healthy expands way beyond nutrition. I also look for cruelty-free, limited-ingredient beauty products to tuck away in my cosmetics bag.

Over the past few weeks I've been giving a few goodies from Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) a good workout. I've chosen to highlight my favorite finds for fall.

But, first, why did I choose to feature BWC? I love their natural, healthy approach to beauty products. They don't endorse or use animal testing, their formulas are vegan, they're SLS and paraben-free, gluten-free and don't use synthetic fragrances. Wow!

Now, on to the pretty things...

Tangerine Nail Color

I've been sporting this nail polish on my toes and it looks fabulous! It's survived a leisurely bubble bath and an hour of swimming in a chlorinated pool -- and the pumpkin-inspired hue still looks fabulous don't you think? 

Some natural, non-toxic nail polishes I've tried in the past peel and flake as soon as I take a shower or wash dishes. But BWC's Tangerine has staying power! As a bonus it glides on easily and looks best with two coats.

Sporting Rosewood Rave!

Rosewood Rave Lip Gloss

At heart, I'm a lip gloss girl. I reach for a tube each time I leave the house. I've been giving the deep, rich cranberry toned Rosewood Rave lots of use. It goes on smooth (not sticky!) and stays put for a few hours, which is fabulous for a gloss.

The best part? It's not made from crushed beetles, the source for carmine, a red coloring in some cosmetics.

 

 

Warm Pecan Lipstick

During the day I like a soft, neutral lip color. Warm Pecan gives a hint of seasonal color and polishes off my look without being too overdone. The coppery color coordinates well with my favorite earth tone eyeshadows and autumn sweaters in shades of cocoa and pumpkin. I love how creamy and moisturizing the lipstick feels when applied.

Do you have a go-to, healthy beauty product you can't live without? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Disclosure: The nail polish, lipstick and lip gloss mentioned in this blog post were provided free of charge from Beauty Without Cruelty for review purposes. No monetary compensation was sought or awarded in exchange for the review. All thoughts expressed on Whole Foods Living are solely my own unless otherwise noted. ~Angela

Eating Healthy on a Budget: 3 Kitchen Staples Revised

Eating healthy on a budget doesn't mean bringing home half-empty bags from the grocery store. By making smart decisions, eating healthy without going broke can become second nature.
Photo Credit: Flickr

Here are three kitchen staples you can easily replace with healthier, inexpensive options on your next shopping trip.

 

1. Rice

If you love stir fries, casseroles and soups, you probably have rice in your pantry. Did you know there are many types of rice available?

The everyday white sticky rice you enjoy in your Chinese takeout isn't the only option out there. Try buying whole grain brown rice. Unlike refined white rice, whole grain brown rice is packed with energy-boosting B vitamins and antioxidants manganese and selenium.

Whole grains help stabilize blood sugars, encourage weight loss and prevent cancer, according to registered dietician Keri Glassman, a contributor to CBS. To save even more pennies, buy rice in bulk. The individual boil-in-bag pouches cost more and produce more waste for landfills.

 

2. Bread

From sandwiches to a morning plate of French toast, bread is a staple in many homes. Eating healthy on a budget doesn't mean you have to give up bread.

The carbohydrate-filled food is a great way to add even more cholesterol-lowering whole grains to your diet. Instead of grabbing the loaf of white bread made with processed bleached flour, opt for something darker. Look for breads made with oatmeal, quinoa, whole grain wheat or brown rice.

These breads not only add fiber to your diet, they also add more flavor to your meal so you won't grab for extra slices just to fill up. Eating less means your cost per serving goes down -- saving you money.

3. Beans

Consider going meatless for one meal a day. To get enough proteins and fiber in your diet, try making a meal based on beans, recommends the United States Department of Agriculture. When purchased dried, you can easily walk away paying a dollar or less for a pound of dried lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans or chickpeas. You know that's less than what you pay for a pound of ground beef. Now that's eating healthy on a budget!

In addition to chili, soups and vegetarian bean burritos, beans can be mashed and made into hamburger-like patties, bean loafs and seasoned for taco filling. As a bonus, beans are extremely low in saturated fat -- unlike most meat-based proteins.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on February 10, 2012. 

Flourless Desserts: 5 Naturally Gluten-Free Treats

Messy, homemade and delicious!
Today is my birthday, so I figured we'd celebrate by talking about dessert.

No matter what type of diet you follow, it's fine to splurge on a sweet treat (in moderation!) on occasion.

Gluten-free deserts are plentiful and simple to make. You don't have to learn how to bake with rice flour or drop some big bucks on xanthan gum to create a wonderful sweet treat.

Here are five ways to end a meal without using wheat, rye, barley or triticale.

5 Naturally Gluten-Free Desserts 


1. Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
This simple two ingredient dessert is a snap to make. First pick out fresh, plump strawberries. Fruits are naturally gluten-free, so you're 100 percent in the safe zone. Next, splurge on a decadent organic chocolate. Choose a bar made with cocoa butter, cocoa or cocoa liqueur. Since not all chocolates are made without wheat-based emulsifiers, make sure the label says the product is gluten-free. Then, melt the chocolate in a double-boiler and dip the berries.

2. Sweetened Rice Pudding
Rice is a naturally gluten-free grain. Rice pudding is usually made by thickening the dessert with cream, milk and the rice itself -- no flour. Depending on your tastes, splurge on a cinnamon-raisin rice pudding, chocolate rice pudding or a recipe that uses honey and apples to sweeten the pudding. Once you find a favorite rice pudding recipe, you can really add any combination of nuts, chopped fruits or sweeteners.

3. Flourless Gluten-Free Desserts
After going gluten-free -- and realizing how expensive pre-made gluten-free treats are in the store -- I've done some test baking. Non-wheat flours don't respond the same way as wheat. Gluten gives bread a chewy texture, makes muffins rise and gives body to a cookie. But, what about baking without flour? It is possible! Check your favorite cookbook or website for flourless chocolate cake (it uses a lot of eggs), flourless peanut butter cookies (they are heavy in sugar) or crustless cheesecake (the creamy filling is the best part anyway).

4. Meringue Cookies
Every Easter my grandmother would whip up a batch of meringue cookies, or as she called them "Kisses." These egg-white based cookies puff up like little clouds, melt in your mouth and can be flavored to suit your palette. She usually made vanilla and chocolate cookies. But, if you're into experimenting with flavoring extracts or fresh citrus zest, you could easily create a new cookie flavor such as almond, lemon, lime or coconut.

5. Ice Cream and Sorbet
When made from scratch, ice cream and sorbet are naturally gluten-free desserts. Cream, milk, sugar and fruit are the key ingredients. So, fire up that ice cream maker collecting dust in the cabinet, or purchase an all-natural ice cream. Choose a dessert that's free of any thickeners, preservatives or emulsifiers. These tend to be hidden sources of gluten.

What's your favorite birthday dessert? Tell me in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on March 7, 2012.

Gluten-Free Eggplant Lasagna Bites

The first thing to ripen in my garden this summer was a big purple eggplant.

I snipped it from the vine and wondered what the heck to do with it. Then I spotted another tucked under the bushy leaves and decided I had to think of a recipe, and fast!

So, I came up with noodle-less eggplant lasagna bites. They're vegetarian, gluten-free, gooey (that's what matters right?) and delicious. And I promise; The eggplant doesn't have a spongy texture. Let's cook!

Gluten-Free Eggplant Lasagna Bites  

Servings: 3 at approximately 300 calories per serving.
  • 2 small fresh eggplants
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups red pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Fresh basil for a garnish
  1. Wash and slice the eggplants into 1/4-inch thick disks. You'll need 9 disks total to fill the baking dish.
  2. Rub each slice (front and back) with extra virgin olive oil. Place them in a hot grill pan and brown them on each side. This removes excess moisture and that unsavory spongy texture.
  3. Place 1 cup of pasta sauce on the bottom of an 8x8 or 9x9 square baking dish. Place one layer of the eggplant slices in the bottom of the pan. You should be able to make three rows, three slices each.
  4. Place a dollop of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese on the top of each eggplant slice. I used Kraft Simply Low Fat 2% Cottage Cheese because it's gluten free and what I had on hand.
  5. Scoop a spoon of the pasta sauce over each eggplant slice. Now sprinkle the top of the pan with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake the eggplant lasagna bites in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the mozzarella cheese gets golden in a few spots. After it cools for a few minutes, sprinkle the top with fresh basil. (I used lemon basil and it was delicious!)
I enjoyed three eggplant slices as an entree with a large fresh salad. I think this recipe would also be good served over a small pile of pasta (cheese ravioli or penne!) or sweet jasmine rice.

So, how do you like to prepare eggplant? I have a few more purple beauties about to ripen and I need ideas -- quick!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Lemon Basil: My Favorite Herb of the Summer

For the past several years, I've thought about planting herbs in the flower boxes by the backdoor. Each year I fill the planters with flowers and scorn myself for not growing something more practical.

But, this year I finally did it!

After an impromptu stop at a local garden center, I was the proud owner of some parsley and lemon basil.

I grew up putting parsley on everything from green salads and roasted potatoes, to hot vegetable casseroles and pasta salads. But the lemon basil was a new herb for my palette.

It tastes just like fresh lemons AND basil. It really is an odd combo at first taste. If you've never had lemon basil, poke around at the local farmer's market or garden center. It is a true treat!

So far I've used it fresh from the plant:
  • as a topper on homemade pizza
  • mixed into pasta drizzled with Alfredo sauce
  • mixed with lemon slices in my ice water
  • chopped and sprinkled on grilled mushrooms
As I research this curious little herb, I'm learning its flavor is most robust when used fresh, so add it to dishes at the last minute or as a garnish. Lemon basil is common in Thai, Laotian and Indonesian cuisine. If you eat at Middle Eastern restaurants often, you might recognize this flavorful herb.

Have you ever tried lemon basil? How to do you like to incorporate it into your cooking? I have a huge plant to use up this summer. Make my mouth water!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Seeing Green? Over 50 Ways to Enjoy Zucchini this Summer

Summer stew with zucchini. Photo by Angela Tague
I've never grown zucchini in my garden. But, thanks to my friends with green thumbs, I always have a lot of the green stuff to experiment with each summer.

Let the zucchini madness begin!

Just the other day a girlfriend shared a bag of the fresh garden goodies and I've already put them to good use. Today I sauteed green disks of the vegetable with yellow squash, broccoli, tofu, red onions and garlic to make a healthy lunch.

I also have a slow cooker downstairs filled with various summer vegetables (including zucchini chunks) that I'm referring to as a summer stew.

In the past I've also ventured into the popular zucchini bread and cake recipes too. But this season I've been looking for some new ideas. So, I turned to Pinterest and started a board just for the occasion. Here's over 50 delicious ways to ENJOY (not use up!) zucchini this summer.

Feed Me Zucchini


So, what's you favorite way to eat zucchini? Tell me in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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What's the Weirdest Food You've Grilled?

The propane tank is full. The charcoal briquettes are stacked. Grilling season has begun!
grilling
Fire it up! It's grilling season!

I love cooking a meal outside just as much as the next gal. But this summer I'm vowing to break out of my usual routine of grilled portobello mushrooms, corn on the cob, tomatoes and foil packet potatoes. I need to try grilling new things!

Recently I ventured into grilling zucchini, onion slices and pineapple rings. Ok, I know those aren't weird foods, but they're new-to-my-grill foods!

To prepare the zucchini, I sliced it to approximately 1/4-inch thick, seasoned it with salt and pepper, then gave it a brush of olive oil so it wouldn't stick to the grill grate. After four or five minutes on each side it was tender and delicious.

My onion slices didn't turn out quite as well. Next time I'll make them thicker, maybe 1/2-inch, so they don't fall apart as easily. I'll also brush them with olive oil to help them stay moist. But nonetheless, the grill char marks made them tasty too.

For dessert I tossed a few canned pineapple rings onto the grill. Since they were extremely juicy, I just put them on as-is. After they got a good sear I gobbled them down. They were a little dried out but had a unique smokey flavor. I think they would have been better served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. There's always next time!

So, what weird, wonderful foods have you been grilling this summer? Make me hungry in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living


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Is ACV a Miracle Cure?

Photo Credit: Flickr
Every time I check Facebook or scroll through my Twitter feed, I see another article touting the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, or ACV.

Now I love a zesty vinaigrette salad dressing or crispy dill pickle every now and then, but drinking plain old vinegar? It just doesn't sound delicious or appealing until you hear about the health claims people are making about it.

According to the Food Matters website (yes, based on the documentary of the same name), apple cider vinegar:
  • fights bacteria and infections
  • is rich in several minerals
  • is a natural probiotic to promote healthy digestion
  • balances cholesterol levels
  • fights allergies
  • prevents muscle fatigue after a workout
  • alleviates arthritis symptoms
  • prevents urinary tract infections
Plus, it does a whole lot more.

So, why aren't we guzzling this stuff by the gallons? Personally, I've tried adding apple cider vinegar to my daily routine to reduce joint pain, and when I had a cold, to speed up the healing process of the accompanying sore throat.

Did it work?

Well, yes, it did actually! When my throat felt like I was swallowing razor blades with each breath, I took a shot of ACV mixed with water and the intense stinging sensation instantly went away. After taking two shots a day for a few days, the sore throat was completely gone.

And I also notice on days when I add ACV to my morning up of herbal tea (yes, it's sour and not wonderful!) I have less joint pain in my fingers and ankles. Nice!!

So, are you a cheerleader for apple cider vinegar? What do you use it for? Tell me in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Let's chat on Facebook and Twitter!

Does the Egg + Banana Pancake Recipe Really Work?

I know I'm not the only one who looks at foodie memes on Facebook and Pinterest wondering if they really work.

The perfect, low-calorie, gluten-free pancakes using only two ingredients sure caught my eye.

They look delicious. But, are they?

I put the pancake recipe to a test. 

If you haven't seen this meme, the picture claims that mixing one large egg and one banana together into a batter and pan frying it makes pancakes. Wow!

So, I made this for dinner last night. After all, the recipe uses two whole foods as ingredients! Here's my take on this recipe.
  1. Texture: I used a very ripe banana, so the batter came out thick and very similar to pancake batter. The cooked pancakes were very moist. They reminded me of a dense omelet, not pancakes.
  2. Taste: They tasted good -- if you like banana pancakes. I think they'd make a good side dish with breakfast, but not as the main entree. The banana flavor is pretty dominant.
  3. Ease: This was super easy to make since there's no measuring or pancake mix to spill. But, they did seem to take a little longer to cook than traditional pancakes. Turn the heat to just below medium and don't flip them until the edges start to look a little dry. (The tops don't bubble like pancakes.)
  4. Calories: One banana, one large egg, 1/8 cup of real maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of real butter for frying and topping come out to roughly 380 calories.
Overall, I thought these were pretty good. Will they be my new go-to pancakes? No. But, will I make them again? Probably. They're simple and taste pretty darn good!


So, have you tried this simple "pancake" recipe? What did you think?

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living
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