Cupcakes and Yoga Pants is Coming Soon

Well, it's official -- the new blog will be called Cupcakes and Yoga Pants.

It's the perfect way to sum up my life. I hit the gym five days a week, but have no regrets (well, maybe a few) when I eat cookies and cupcakes.

This new lifestyle blog will go far beyond foodie topics.

I plan to write about fitness, nutrition, health, recipes, gardening, food information, DIY, crafts, volunteering, photography, the environment, fashion, beauty, Pinterest fails, pets and pretty much anything else that fits into my healthy (but, totally not perfect) lifestyle.

Want to be the first to know when Cupcakes and Yoga Pants goes live? I'll send you an email.

You can sign up for an email notification HERE.

Or, send me an email with a message to

I'm excited to share tips, ideas, reviews and random musings on this new blog.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Help Me Name My New Website

For awhile now, I've wanted to expand Whole Foods Living.

Living a healthy life goes so far beyond food. It includes fitness, mental health and finding joy in your daily life. Being healthy means learning how to love yourself, be happy and make time for the things that make you smile.

I'm planning on moving Whole Foods Living to a new web host this summer, and with that move, comes the opportunity to change the name of my blog.

So, I'm asking for your help. What should I call the new blog that will encompass these many facets of health and wellness?

I think it should be catchy, two to four words and easy to spell. Have ideas? Please comment below or send an email to

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

My 3 Favorite Gluten Free Pasta Choices

Photo credit: Flickr
Going gluten-free doesn't mean giving up pasta.

Actually, I pair it with a handful of veggies once or twice a week for dinner. There's nothing better than fresh garden tomatoes sauteed with a little garlic, onions, peppers and extra virgin olive oil over some soft penne, right?

So, when I go to the grocery store, there are three brands of gluten free pasta that are allowed to land in my shopping cart.

Isn't all Gluten-free pasta the same? No!

Why only three? Because the rest that I have tried are disgusting.

They turn to mush when boiled, fall apart when baked or don't reheat well. And we all know I like to cook in big batches to have leftovers. If my pasta turns into paste when I warm up the leftovers, I'm not a happy girl.

My Three Favorite Gluten-Free Pasta Brands

So if you're going to make gluten-free lasagna, reach for Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagne. It's made from brown rice.

When you're craving penne, elbow macaroni or spaghetti, my two go-to brands are Ronzoni and Barilla. I have a box of Ronzoni Elbows Pasta or Barilla Penne Pasta in the pantry at all times for quick meal prep.

Barilla's gluten-free noodles are made from a combination of corn and rice. Ronzoni's gluten-free noodles are a blend of four grains: quinoa, corn, white rice and brown rice.

I've made countless meals with these three gluten free pastas, and have never been disappointed. They get tender without falling apart, keep their form better than other gluten free pastas when reheated (especially the lasagna), don't have a gritty texture and taste great!

What's your favorite gluten-free pasta? I'd love to find a fantastic gluten-free cheese tortellini.

Let's chat in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Disclosure: I write this blog to share my opinions, ideas, and help others on their healthy lifestyle journey. On occasion, I may include affiliate links. This means if you click a link and purchase the product mentioned, I earn a few pennies. And you know what that means? I can keep on blogging! So, if you like my tips, reviews, ideas and insight, consider purchasing the products you read about right from the convenience of this page. Thank you!

Garlic Broccoli with Tempeh (Gluten-Free, Vegetarian)

Lunch has to be quick and easy. One of my go-to meals is an Asian-inspired tempeh dish brimming with broccoli. It has the salty-savory flavor of classic Chinese takeout without the added calories, sodium, MSG and cost!

This soy-based vegetarian meal comes together in less than ten minutes while you whip up some whole grain brown rice in a rice cooker. Easy!

Garlic Broccoli with Tempeh (Gluten-Free, Vegetarian)

(1 serving)
  • 3 oz. Lightlife Organic Flax Tempeh
  • 1 cup broccoli, raw florets
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup dry whole grain brown rice
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • Bragg Liquid Aminos
  1. Slice the tempeh into small, bite-size squares. Place them in a medium-high hot skillet with the coconut oil. Pan fry until lightly browned and crisp on each side. This will take about 2 minutes per side.
  2. Wash and chop the broccoli. Add the florets to the pan while they are still moist from washing. Sprinkle the garlic over the broccoli. Cover the pan with a lid, turn it to low-medium heat and allow the broccoli to steam for 5 minutes.
  3. Mix the broccoli, garlic and tempeh. Drizzle with Bragg Liquid Aminos. This salty condiment tastes similar to soy sauce. Serve the temeph and broccoli over a bed of brown rice.

How do you like to eat tempeh? Tell me in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

What Does Drinking Hot Lemon Water Do for You?

Image Credit: morgueFile
Lately memes with the same foodie theme keep showing up in my social media feeds.

The Benefits of Lemon Water.
How to Drink Hot Lemon Water.
Eat More Lemons.


I love lemon, but why do so many sources say that drinking a cup of steamy water served with a fresh lemon wedge first thing in the morning before having breakfast is so good for you?

In an ABC Good Morning America article online, Mattie Khan chatted with experts who revealed that lemon water can settle your stomach, make staying hydrated more palatable than sipping plain water, activate bile flow to aid in detoxification and emulsify and remove fat-soluble toxins.

Since I love tea, I thought I'd give this close cousin a try.

After drinking hot lemon water off and on for months, here are my observations:
  • I urinate more frequently while drinking hot lemon water.
  • My initial morning appetite is curbed, so I don't grab something unhealthy on a whim.
  • On weeks I drink hot lemon water each morning, I lose a bit of weight, or maintain, even when I've splurged on extra calories.
So, do you drink hot lemon water? Why? Let's chat in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Tips for Mulching Your Garden: 3 Natural, Free Options

The first layer of grass mulch in the garden.
It's finally gardening season in the Midwest. I'm hoping last week was our final frost warning and it's safe to put a few veggies into the ground today.

For the last three years I've explored natural ways to keep weeds at bay and make tending to my garden less of a chore. I want to pick vegetables, not pluck weeds.

So far I've figured out three natural things that work great as mulch.

What is mulch? It's a protective barrier that keeps weeds to minimum, often times provides nutrients to the soil and helps keep moisture in the ground to nourish plants during dry weather.

3 Types of Free, Natural Mulch for Your Garden


Newspaper: The first year I decided to forgo weed barrier paper, I used old newspaper instead. I soaked each sheet in a bucket of water and carefully tiled the garden with the newsprint. Then I cut holes in the paper where I wanted to plant my seedlings.

Since the newspaper is biodegradable and printed with soy inks, it's eco-friendly and eventually disintegrated into the soil. There was one drawback though: wind. I ended up using a layer of grass cuttings and a few stepping stones over the newspaper to keep it in place.

Fall Leaves: Two years ago we ran out of leaf bags and decided to pile the dry fallen leaves in the garden. We planned to later bag them for curbside collection, but that never got done.

They surprisingly broke down over the winter from the weight of snow and created a nice 6-inch layer of mulch around my plants. Some weeds still popped through but over all, I'd say this natural mulch kept my garden 75 percent weed-free.

Grass Cuttings: Last year I decided to try using fresh cut grass clippings as a mulch. Much like the leaves, it works great, and that's what I'm using this summer.

However, after it rains, the grass gets clumpy and has a bit of an odor. And after awhile, the nice green color turns boring gray. But, it still works well to keep weeds to a minimum.

Do you know how to mulch your garden with other natural products? Or, do you use old newspaper, leaves or grass? Please share your tips an ideas in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

In A Recipe Rut

I'm addicted to Pinterest.

I have so many food boards brimming with recipes I want to try. But, I have to be honest (and I know I'm not alone), I pin, pin, pin but never cook, cook, cook.

Well, that has to end.

So many pins, so little time! Screenshot from Pinterest.
I'm in a recipe rut, and it's time to try some new meals. The hubby and I eat the same 10 meals over and over, with variations of course, but it's still getting boring.

With the farmer's market in full swing, an obnoxious amount of recipes saved on Pinterest and a dining room bookcase devoted to cookbooks, it's time to get busy and break out of this recipe rut.

So, how do you stay motivated to cook new meals after a long day of work when your energy and time is waning? I'd love some tips!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Opening Week at the Farmer's Market

Photo by Angela Tague
I've been waiting all winter. The farmer's market is open!

Day one was soggy and slow. But, a sunny second day brought out flocks of people and tons of fresh produce, plants for the garden and even a face-painting booth.

So, what's in season in May in the Midwest?

You'll find lots of fresh greens including kale, arugula and several varieties of lettuce. I also spied multiple vendors with green and purple asparagus. The rhubarb was plentiful and if you love kohlrabi, radishes and turnips, there were no shortages of root vegetables on the tables.

At my local market there are also several non-food vendors. Today I saw a face-painting booth, a musician singing, a wood crafter selling cutting boards, a local winery offering samples and a jewelry maker displaying one-of-a-kind necklaces. You never know what you'll find at the market!

Do you shop at a local farmer's market? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

My Las Vegas Jackpot Moment: Homemade Ice Cream

I hit the big one in Vegas, baby!!

I found a place that makes homemade ice cream while you wait. I'm not into gambling, so for me, indulging in a bowl of made-from-scratch mango ice cream while strolling down the Las Vegas strip was like hitting the jackpot.

Homemade mango ice cream! Photos by Angela Tague
During my random wanderings I stopped by a little shop in the Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. If you're ever in the area, look up IcePan.

They custom make a variety of fruit-flavored ice creams. They also create classic chocolate and vanilla treats and whip up more exotic flavors including green tea and red bean.

I watched the ice cream artist chop a fresh mango, puree the fruit and combine it with soy milk. That's it! Two ingredients!

Then he poured the smoothie-type liquid onto a freezing cold platform and worked his magic. He used two paddles to scoop, fold and mash the mixture until it turned into ice cream.

So, how was it? Creamy. Rich. Decadent.

It was simply amazing. If I'm ever in Las Vegas again, I'll be back for round two, three and four of this healthy whole foods dessert!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Is Your Salad Making You Fat?

Photo Credit: morgueFile
Salads aren't always healthy.

Sure a bed of greens and chopped vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals. But, have you ever taken a closer look at all those salad toppings you pile on?

Beware of These 4 Calorie-Heavy Salad Toppings

  1. Croutons: These crispy chunks of dried bread add minimal nutrition and lots of calories to your salad. Instead try adding a sprinkle of equally crunchy almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds to add texture to the salad.
  2. Dressing: A drizzle of ranch or dollop of blue cheese dressing is just fine. But when your salad bowl looks like soup, you're simply using too much dressing. Experiment with non-creamy dressings like flavored vinaigrettes if you like a lot of extra added flavor.
  3. Cheese: I was shocked when I found out a serving of cheese is the size of two dice. Really? That's tiny! It's easy to sprinkle up to 200 calories and a day's worth of sodium on an entree-size salad without much thought. If you can't part with this dairy topping, opt for lower-sodium cheeses such as whole-milk mozzarella, sliced Swiss and crumbly goat cheese.
  4. Dried Fruit: Skip the raisins, dried cherries and dried cranberries preserved with extra sugar. Use fresh whole fruits like sliced grapes, strawberries or pears instead. You'll use less (since the chunks are bigger) and consume fewer calories.
The takeaway? Enjoy anything you want on your salad, but in moderation. If you're going to use half a bottle of dressing or a cup of dried fruit, you might as well skip the salad altogether and just order pizza.

So, what healthy salad toppings do you enjoy?

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Gluten-Free Food for Life Brown Rice Tortilla Review

I'm always on the lookout for delicious gluten-free bread products. I was thrilled when my local grocery store started carrying wheat-free, gluten-free Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas.

 Finally, I could give corn taco shells and tostadas a rest and enjoy a soft taco or burrito. But, would the rice flour tortilla be as good as a wheat-based tortilla? Here's my opinion.

Tortilla quesadilla for lunch!

What do Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas taste like?
My first impression of these tortillas was positive. I used them to make a quick tortilla pizza piled high with tomato sauce, cheese and vegetables. The grainy flavor of the tortillas blended well with the Italian meal. Although the tortillas have a distinct rice flavor, the taste isn't overpowering.

What is the texture of the gluten-free tortillas?
One of the first things I notice about gluten-free pastas and breads is the texture. Many are crumbly, hard or extremely dense. Once loaf of bread I tried in the past was so dense melted butter couldn't even penetrate the bread when toasted.

I was skeptical when I tried these tortillas. But, surprisingly these tortillas are relatively soft. When taking a bite of a plain tortilla, the texture is chewy but soft. If you fold one burrito style, it cracks and tears.

What are the best ways to use these brown rice tortillas?
My favorite way to eat Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas is by keeping them flat. They are great for making quesadillas, a flat sandwich cut into quarters or as a base for gluten-free pizza.

If you want to fold or bend the tortillas, prepare to bake them with sauce and eat the meal with a fork. Although I haven't tried it yet, I think these tortillas would be great in a baked enchilada recipe or cut into strips and fried for a gluten-free salad topping.

Are these tortillas healthy?
According to the Food for Life website, these brown rice tortillas are kosher and made from sprouted grains. These tortillas include whole grain brown rice flour, filtered water, tapioca flour, safflower oil, rice bran, vegetable gum (xanthan, cellulouse) and sea salt.

Since they are a source of whole grains, these tortillas are healthier than other brands of tortillas made with bleached wheat flour.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: This article was originally written and published by myself on Yahoo! Voices on March 12, 2012.

Help Me Eat Gluten Free and Vegetarian in Las Vegas

Image Credit: Flickr
Next week I'm headed to sunny Las Vegas for the New Media Expo.

Thousands of content creators including bloggers, podcasters, video producers and marketers are gathering to listen to seminars, stroll the exhibit halls and network with potential clients.

And I'm nervous as heck.

No, not about the conference or meeting people. I'm not sure what I'm going to eat!

I follow a vegetarian diet by choice (since 1998) and have to eat gluten-free due to a gluten intolerance backed by multiple blood tests.

So, dear reader, I am asking for help.

Have you been to Las Vegas? Did you notice which restaurants are gluten-free friendly and have vegetarian options? I'm working on compiling a list of possible places to eat during my week-long stay.

I'd be especially grateful for suggestions in or near the Las Vegas Convention Center.

If you have ideas, feel free to comment below, message me on Facebook or send an email to angela.tague(at)

Me and my digestive system thank you!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Can Honey Cure Seasonal Allergies?

Image Credit: Flickr
I’ve heard over and over that if you eat locally produced honey or bee pollen, you can minimize the discomfort from seasonal pollen and tree allergies.

But, is it true?

I decided it was time to put on my researcher hat and dig up some information.

What Honey Can (And Can’t) Do
After doing lots of reading, the honey cure isn’t backed by much credible evidence.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “There is no scientific proof that eating local honey will improve seasonal allergies. One study, published in 2002 in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, showed no difference among allergy sufferers who ate local honey, commercially processed honey, or a honey-flavored placebo.”

However, honey is a healthy, whole foods sweetener that offers other health benefits.

Dr. Brent A. Bauer with the Mayo Clinic explains on the clinic’s website that honey does work as a cough suppressant and has anti-inflammatory characteristics, which might help an allergy sufferer temporarily.

A Word of Caution for Allergy Sufferers
Since raw honey does contain small amounts of pollen, mold spores and bacteria (which are usually filtered out by commercial processing methods), consuming natural unprocessed honey may cause an allergic response in sensitive individuals.

“The ingestion of unprocessed honey can result in an immediate allergic reaction involving the mouth, throat, or skin - such as itching, hives or swelling - or even anaphylaxis. Such reactions may be related to either pollen or bee part contaminants,” according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

So, should you eat honey if you have strong seasonal allergies? It’s best to talk with your allergist or family physician.

Do you know of any natural remedies to lessen the symptoms of seasonal outdoor allergies? I have a hubby and a few friends who would love to know what works for you! Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Whole Foods Living

What are Leeks?

Sometimes I feel like I'm speaking a foreign language. When my friends or family ask me what I had for lunch, it's not uncommon to describe a dish made with quinoa, lentils, tempeh or even leeks.

Then they get quiet -- and remember I'm not a fast-food burger kind of girl.

One mysterious green vegetable that's recently wrinkled noses and turned faces quizzical is the almighty leek. It looks like a fat green onion -- long and slender with a narrow white bulb topped with greenery.

Photo by Angela Tague / Angela's Images

I adore their mildly spicy onion-esque flavor and add them to soups, salads and even roasted them for St. Patrick's Day dinner. Leeks are in the same family of veggies as onions, garlic, chives and shallots.

Awhile back I had the pleasure of chatting with Camilla V. Saulsbury, PhD for an article I wrote on the Tom's of Maine website about leeks. She's a fitness trainer with a background in sociology, health and medicine and the author of Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook.

Here's a few facts she mentioned about leeks:
  • Leeks are a source of allicin which helps reduce cholesterol production, coronary artery disease, strokes, and has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties when eaten in moderate quantities.
  • Leeks are an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, E and K.
  • Leeks also contain manganese, folate, copper, iron and calcium.
  • Leeks are a source of omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber.
So, do you ever add this green vegetable to your menu? How do you like to eat leeks? Tell me in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Bored? Visit me on Facebook! I'd love to chat!

How Lavender Essential Oil Became My Office Mate

I enjoy trying natural health and beauty products.
Photo Credit: Flickr

Over the past few years I've become a cheerleader for natural oils, such as coconut, cocoa butter and jojoba, to use as skin moisturizers.

I've also ventured into taking supplements to boost my energy.

A month or so ago, I was given a free sample of Aromappeal Lavender 100% Pure Essential Oil from Puritan's Pride to try. Honestly, it sat on my shelf for weeks. I wasn't sure what to do with it. Now, I love the scent of lavender as much as the next gal, but I know essential oils are supposed to also have medicinal values, not just smell nice.

So, I started researching.

Overall, lavender is known for its calming and soothing properties. It can be added to a hot bath or a carrier oil and applied during a massage. It's also said to bring a good night's rest when sprinkled on your pillow or used in a reed diffuser in the bedroom. I also read that lavender oil works well for headaches and menstrual cramps.

So, I finally decided to give it a try. One afternoon when I felt one of my cervicogenic headaches coming on, I decided to dab a bit of the lavender oil on each temple. Within a few minutes the pain was less and much more manageable. Usually those headaches land me in bed for a long nap. After using the oil, I was able to push forward on the day's workload.

Later I tried the lavender oil to calm menstrual cramps. I read it was safe to put a few drops of the oil on my belly, cover it with my clothes, then apply a heat pad. This was simple since I had been using the heat pad all morning anyway with no relief. Amazingly, after about 20 minutes of writing, I realized that I no longer had those annoying squeezing abdominal pains. The oil worked!

In the last few weeks, that little bottle of lavender oil had been sitting on my desk. I've dipped into it to soothe regular headaches and calm myself before difficult work projects. I'm not sure whether it's the oil, or simply mind-over-matter, but that little bottle of lavender oil is my new office mate.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Disclosure: The lavender mentioned in this blog post was provided free of charge from Puritan's Pride 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. ~Angela

Note: This article was originally published on Yahoo! Voices on December 20, 2013.

Behind the Scenes at Whole Foods Living

Recently it dawned on me that I've been sharing healthy tips, ideas, insight and recipes here on Whole Foods Living for 4 1/2 years and I've never taken a step back to tell you who is behind this blog!

So, Hello!!

My name is Angela and I live in Iowa with my husband Andrew and two fur babies, a weimaraner named Belle and a bull terrier mix named Orion. I consider the pups my co-workers since I work as a writer from a home office. I focus primarily on journalistic work and marketing content. (Nope, no poetry or fiction!)

I've been a vegetarian since 1998, and have "vegan days" on occasion. I've been following a gluten-free diet since the day after Thanksgiving in 2011 based on a doctor's advice and blood tests for Celiac Disease.

Whole Foods Living is my fun writing. I turn to this blog to tell the world about cool foodie things I stumble upon during my daily research (like a guy who forages for food) or to tell about a tasty, healthy recipe I accidentally tossed together (like my Banana Bread Smoothie).

When I'm not writing about health or nutrition topics here, I'm probably penning it for a client. I'm a regular contributor to the Tom's of Maine Good Matters blog, have written for grocery store blogs and worked on marketing campaigns for DiGiorno Pizza and Fiji Water. Whew!

I'm also a Pinterest addict. I have several foodie boards that you might like to browse or follow. Check out:
  • Feed Me Zucchini: Every summer I end up with too many of these green veggies. I share several ways to prepare it over on Pinterest.
  • Eating Gluten Free: This is a collection of gluten-free goodies, mostly baked goods.
  • Whole Foods Living: If it's a whole food, a blog post from this site or a healthy tip, I probably post it here!
  • Feed Me!: This board includes a variety of recipes, from healthy to sinful, for the hubby and I to try.
  • Healthy Apple Recipes for Fall: I love fall baking, especially using apples my mom's farm.
  • Let's Make Juice: Are you into juicing? Me too!
  • I Love Onions: Need I say more?
  • Eggplant Recipes & Tips: Last summer my garden was overrun with these purple beauties, so I needed lots of recipes to use them up.
  • Health & Nutrition: Random facts, infographics and ideas about living healthy.

So, why not take a quick minute and tell me a little about yourself in the comments below? Feel free to share links to your blog, website, Pinterest or other social media. I'd love to connect!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

My Favorite 100 Calorie Gluten-Free Snacks

Hummus and veggies. Photo credit: Flickr
I like to graze.

A handful of almonds here, an apple there. I'm always snacking on something. But those calories can sure add up quickly, especially when I reach for chocolate!

So today I thought I'd do a fun roundup of some of my favorite 100 calorie (or less) gluten-free snacks to make your next between-meal munching a little bit healthier.

  1. Popcorn - Lately I've been venturing into flavored popcorn. I'm in love with Angie's Boom Chicka Pop Lightly Sweet Popcorn. (It tastes like kettle corn.) This non GMO snack is just 70 calories for 2 cups!
  2. Nuts - Protein and fiber-rich snacks help keep you feeling full. I like to crack open a handful of pistachios in the shell. Half an ounce of nuts, or approximately 25 kernels, is just 80 calories, according to American Pistachio Growers.
  3. Dried fruit - When I have a sweet tooth, and I manage to stay away from chocolate, I love dried fruits. Those little lunchbox size packets of raisins and craisins are 90-100 calories each. As a bonus, they travel well for snacking on the go!
  4. Hummus and veggies - Sabra Hummus is gluten-free and delicious. Two tablespoons is just 70 calories. Try dipping low-calorie bell pepper slices, cauliflower, broccoli, celery or radishes in the chickpea dip.

So, what healthy snacks do you like to grab in the afternoon? Tell me in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Foraging for Your Dinner: Q&A With Alan Muskat

Photo Credit: No Taste Like Home
I've eaten dandelions. Have you?

When I was a tiny tot, my Brownie troop (that's the step before becoming a Girl Scout) ventured into the wilderness and gathered wild edibles, including those robust yellow weeds that most of us wage a war against each spring as we groom our lawns.

Fast forward thirty years or so, and foraging is again back on my radar.

After e-meeting Alan Muskat, the king of finding and feasting on natural foods found in nature, I knew I had to let you all know about his mission.

In addition to spreading the word about eating healthy, simple foods, he teaches people how to safely go into their backyards and find wild foods to make for dinner via his company, No Taste Like Home, and his hands-on tours dubbed Wild Foods Adventures in Asheville, North Carolina.

Muscat encourages "find dining" and looking for food "off the eaten path".  So today, we're going to learn a little about foraging and how it's a healthy whole foods way of living!

Hi Alan! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for my curious Whole Foods Living Readers! Let's get started.

1. What exactly is foraging? I suppose it's a little more than picking fresh veggies out of the garden, right?

Yes. Foraging means gathering free food (the word actually means “to pillage”). You could call it “opportunivorism.” In most cases, it’s used to refer to gathering wild food.

But, you can also “glean” cultivated but unused food, like fruit from a “feral” tree: one that was planted and is now neglected, like an apple or chestnut tree. And then there are trees that have been planted for decoration and no one is eating the fruit. In many cases, that fruit is even considered a nuisance. Their “trash" can be your treasure.

2. So, I live in a small city, near rural areas. Where can I safely forage for wild edibles?

There is actually more wild food in the city than the country. Chickweed, violet, dandelion, and wild onion are just a few ultra-nutritious greens that thrive in urban environments. You don’t need woods for weeds. However, see next question.

3. I'm an adventuresome eater and have no problem trying new leafy greens or an uncommon berry. But, my biggest concern is eating something that may have been treated with pesticides or some other unnatural chemicals. How do you address that concern among your tour group participants?

Yes, contamination is a much greater concern than mis-identification. And I don’t have a simple answer. A person should avoid golf courses, railroad tracks, pristine lawns, landscaping, roadsides, and cemeteries: in short, anywhere that might be sprayed. You don’t want to be near a building or even in an old orchard (where they used to use arsenic and lead). Sadly, heavy metals stick around for hundreds of years, and with any nuclear leaks like Chernobyl, clouds of radioactive dust spread across the world. Wild food like nettle, lambs quarter, and mushrooms in general just soak them up. That’s why they’re so high in minerals.

There’s really no escape from pollution. We literally reap what we sow. The only solution is to start thinking about our children’s children as much or more than ourselves. Besides, if you’re really worried about chemicals then you need to start by buying only local organic food (not USDA “organic”) and eating out as little as possible.

Photo Credit: No Taste Like Home
When you start asking questions, you may not be prepared for the answers!

4. So, what are a few health benefits of foraging and incorporating this practice into our daily diets?

The healthiest food is natural food — food that has not been hybridized — because it’s what we evolved to eat. Wild food — i.e., natural food — has been shown to be 10 to 100 times more nutritious. A single leaf of a wild plant each day is better than a multivitamin. It’s not that wild food is so good for you, it’s that anything else is not. A multivitamin can cause more harm than good. Why reinvent the wheel when the best “super food" is available, free for the taking, right outside your

The act of foraging has other benefits, less tangible but even more important. One is spending time out in nature. Vitamin D is measurable, and we get it best from sunshine, but our need for Vitamin “N,” when chronically unmet, can lead to Nature Deficit Disorder. Gary Snyder says "nature is not a place to visit; it is home.” We evolved to live in “the wild," not in artificially lit and heated little boxes. Comfort and convenience can come at great cost. In the long run, is it really worth

These are difficult, uncomfortable questions. But like C.S. Lewis says, “if you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end. If you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth.”

There’s one more, very tangible health benefit to foraging: it’s more sustainable. We can’t be healthy in a polluted environment. And the most destructive thing we’ve ever done to the environment, without question, has been agriculture. Most of what we call “local food” is hardly that. You can put a golf course in the Amazon and call it “local.” Most of what we have been growing, grain in particular, is not only bad for humans but terrible for the environment. Deserts and dust bowls have both resulted not from factory farming, not from GMOs, but from organic, subsistence agriculture. That’s yet another truth to wake up to.

The only sustainable food is food that thrives where it is grown: food that does fine even if we don't help it. Food that “grows like a weed.” This is what eating local is really all about.

5. Finally, what's the strangest wild edible you've found on your ventures? A rare mushroom? Something with pointy spines you had to cut off  to make edible?

Jeez, I eat a lot of strange things. This weekend, I’m eating roadkill for The Science Channel. And yes, I eat spiny things too. Milk thistle is basically a wild artichoke covered in spines. It’s so good for you, however, that if you eat a deadly mushroom, an extract of the seeds (made by simply soaking them in alcohol) can save you. Instead of dealing with the spines, I simply put it through a juicer. How’s that for a primitive skill?

Thanks, Alan! I think I feel a little more confident about sampling some of the wild raspberries and mulberries that are plentiful during the summer in my little area of the Midwest.

What about you?

Have you ever foraged for your dinner or make it a routine to gather specific wild edibles each season? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Review: Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook by Camilla V. Saulsbury

I've followed a gluten-free diet since the end of 2011.

My last stomach-churning meal was Thanksgiving, complete with a fluffy glutinous roll, classic green bean casserole topped with crispy onions battered in wheat flour and a green salad drizzled with creamy salad dressing containing barley malt as a thickener.

After that, I decided to get serious about being healthier and allowing my digestive track to heal from the damage caused by Celiac Disease.

Since then I've tried replicating my favorite recipes with gluten-free flours. What a disaster! 

Let me save you some time if you're new to gluten-free cooking. Swapping out corn meal or rice flour for "all-purpose flour" doesn't work. There's a fine science to gluten-free cooking, and thankfully, I've learned to seek out recipes specifically created to be gluten free.

As my cookbook collection grows, I've learned these key tips about gluten-free cooking:
  1. You almost always need a blend of multiple gluten-free starches for baked goods to turn out with a "normal" texture and elasticity.
  2. Gluten-free flours absorb more liquid than wheat-based flours, so when you venture into modifying your favorite old recipes, increase the liquid content.
  3. Gluten-free foods can be just as good, if not better, than their wheat counterparts. Ask my husband about the gluten-free chocolate chip cookies we make. He won't waste time with any other recipe now!
OK, so today on Whole Foods Living I want to introduce you to a book that's won a place on my shelf. It's called Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook from Bob's Red Mill, written by Camilla V. Saulsbury. She's a food writer, fitness trainer cooking instructor and one heck of a foodie blogger who knows how to make you drool. You can catch up with her online at power hungry.

First off, I adore cookbooks that I can sit down and read as a resource guide. It's no longer good enough just to woo cooks with colorful photos and tasty recipe titles. Like many, I want to learn about the ingredients, and in gluten-free baking and cooking, that's incredibly important for both health reasons and to avoid wasting pricey ingredients.

The first 38 pages of this book are dedicated to educating the reader about gluten-free grains and ingredients that may not be common place in the pantry. Curious about teff? Wondering how to cook quinoa? Not sure how to use milk made from almonds? Wondering if you can use maple syrup beyond breakfast? It's all in this cookbook.

So, beyond being resourceful, the recipes have to be yummy! The first thing that jumped out at me were the uncommon (to me) pairings.
  • Blueberry Lime Millet Shake
  • Lemony Lentil, Quinoa and Zucchini Skillet
  • Scottish Leek and Steel-Cut Oats Soup
Hmmm...I simply had to try that third one. Oats in a soup?? I've never had such a thing. 

So I whipped up a batch of the simple recipe over a lunch break last week. It was fantastic. I said "was" because it's gone. I ate it for lunch the rest of the week. I made the recipe with almond milk and vegetable broth and it reheated perfectly.

If you're new to a gluten-free lifestyle, this cookbook is a great way to launch into a healthier diet. Camilla shares recipes for breakfast, soups, salads, vegetarian dinners, seafood, meat dishes, breads, snacks and desserts.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Disclosure: Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook from Bob's Red Mill, written by Camilla V. Saulsbury, mentioned in this blog post was provided free of charge for review purposes. No monetary compensation was sought or awarded in exchange for this review. All thoughts expressed in this review on Whole Foods Living are solely my own. ~Angela


4 Healthy Additions to Your Favorite Valentine's Day Cookie Recipe

I love cookies. It's really no secret.
Sprinkle nuts atop cookies! Photo Credit: Flickr

I think the key to sticking with a healthy diet is by having treats on special occasions. (And, by making them just a bit healthier than usual!)

Give your favorite cookie recipe a healthy makeover this weekend for Valentine's Day.

Here are four of my favorite ways to make cookies pack a nutritional punch -- and taste wonderful!

1. Flaxseed
If your go-to cookie contains oatmeal or nuts, consider mixing a few tablespoons of milled flaxseed into the batter. The nutty-flavored seeds are packed with heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, disease fighting antioxidants and fiber to keep you regular, according to registered dietitian Elaine Magee, an expert columnist on WebMD. Although the flavor of flaxseed is mild, it pairs best with a hearty, thick cookie.

2. Nuts
Add some crunch to your cookies by using chopped nuts. Whether you sprinkle them on top of your favorite cookie recipe, or mix the nuts into the batter, your body will thank you. Nuts provide healthy unsaturated fats, skin-clearing Vitamin E and fiber for regular digestion, according to the Mayo Clinic. To trim a few calories from the treats, choose the lowest calorie nuts such as almonds, pistachios and peanuts.

3. Spices
Instead of decorating cookies with colored sugar, try a flavorful ground spice. Cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial spice that can help ease arthritis symptoms and fight the growth of bacteria and yeast in the body, according to the World's Healthiest's Foods website. Cloves also help reduce inflammation, plus they are a source of vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.

4. Fruit
Enhance your favorite Valentine's Day cookie recipe by mixing chopped, dried fruit into the batter. Dried cranberries, raisins and cherries not only provide a dose of vitamins and antioxidants, they also add a festive red hue and chewy texture to your treat. Try giving your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe a makeover with both fruit and nuts. Or, use small pieces of dried fruits to decorate cut-out sugar cookies.

So, how to you like to make your cookies a little bit healthier? Do you have a great refined sugar swap or healthy mix-in you'd like to let readers know about? Comment below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Note: This article was originally written by me, Angela Tague, and published on Yahoo! Voices on February 17, 2012. Since that website is no longer online, I've chosen to reprint this article on Whole Foods Living after the publishing rights reverted back to me.

My 3 Favorite Gluten-Free Breads

Canyon Bakehouse bread makes great sandwiches. 
Just because I follow a gluten-free diet doesn't mean I no longer eat bread.

I simply choose brands made without wheat, barley, rye or other glutinous grains.

Here's my three favorite gluten-free bread products!

For Toasting...

I've tried many loaves of gluten-free bread, and by far my favorite for toasting is Udi's Whole Grain Bread. When toasted it gets crisp on the outside and stays soft inside. Butter or jelly soaks in easily. I mention that because I've tried some gluten-free bread that's so dense butter won't even melt and penetrate the slice. Strange. I know.

For a Soft Sandwich...

When I want to eat bread right out of the package, my go-to is Canyon Bakehouse 7-Grain Gluten Free Bread. The bread is soft, tears and is perfect for making a classic PB&J or BLT. I even wrote a post about how much I like it!

As a Dinner Roll...

At special meals, I like to have a dinner roll option that's gluten-free. For the last several holidays, I've enjoyed Schar's Multigrain Ciabatta Rolls. They warm up quickly, have a crunchy outer crust and the inside is soft. Perfect!

Do you eat gluten-free bread? Tell me your favorite products in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Image Credit: Canyon Bakehouse

Nutritionist Brad Kloss Talks Milk, Protein and Exercise

Image Credit: Freeimages
If you haven't thought about drinking milk since the days of tiny cartons in the lunch food line, listen up.

Today on the blog we have expert insight from nutritionist and health club owner, Brad Kloss. He's the nutrition guru behind FitPro, a lactose-free natural protein shake backed by Super-Middleweight Champion of the World and celebrity fitness trainer, Danny Musico.

1. Here at Whole Foods Living, we love single ingredient foods. Tell us why you think milk should be the new super food.

Milk is a single ingredient food that combines protein with essential amino acids, fats high in CLA, carbohydrates in form of lactose, as well as high levels of calcium.

However, today's technology allows us to gently filter out the lactose sugars and fats from the milk, which leaves us with the much wanted concentrated protein and minerals.  When we developed FitPro, our goal was to remove all the lactose naturally, because we already get enough sugar and carbs from our modern day’s food options.  But getting enough protein is hard: You don't really carry a chicken breast in your back pocket. Additionally, finding convenient, healthy, natural and great tasting protein options is even harder – so we provided an option to fill that nutrient gap in our everyday life.


2. Several readers on WFL are trying to make healthier lifestyle decisions, which include a huge focus on diet and exercise. How does milk fit into this equation?

Milk protein in its natural state is 20% whey protein and 80% casein protein. Whey protein digests within an hour, while casein protein takes 4-6 hours to digest. Whey powders were developed primarily from the byproduct of the cheese making industry.  However, the slower digestion of casein protein helps one to feel more satisfied for a longer period of time.  It’s like a 5-hour protein that keeps feeding your body with essential nutrients. 

A consistent supply of protein, particularly milk protein which provides essential amino acids, is excellent for people who have concerns with their blood sugar levels.  Obese individuals, from kids to grandparents, need to find ways to effectively balance the scale in their favor. The best kept and simplest secret to do this is to balance the protein-to-carb ratio in one’s diet.


3. Some people simply don't like drinking a glass of milk. What are some ways we can get the benefits of this dairy product in other ways?

I have personally overseen and conducted flavor tests of FitPro to thousands of people, and when people taste FitPro, they realize that it isn't milk.  It does have the benefits of the protein from one of nature’s best sources with an excellent amino acid profile, but it tastes like dessert. 

Let me draw an analogy:  Soy milk is also very popular, but when you drink soy milk does it taste like a soybean?  No, it doesn't. It’s the same with FitPro. It doesn't taste like milk, but it uses milks most valuable nutrient – protein.


4. I'm a vegetarian, and am always looking for healthy ways to boost my protein intake. Tell me about your natural protein shakes.

 I have many friends that are vegetarians and love FitPro. One FitPro Daily is similar to a small chicken breast in protein content. My vegetarian friends always tell me that a FitPro and a banana make a perfect breakfast, as well as mid-day snack.


5. So, we all know milk does a body good. But, exercise is just as important. Give our readers some beginner's exercise tips to make 2015 their healthiest year yet.

I have owned more than 20 health clubs over the years and have helped a lot of people to lose weight, become healthier, and achieve their goals. The key objectives for most of us are to exercise to keep our bodies flexible and to rev up our metabolism so that we burn calories all day long.

So get moving with cardio and stretching, maybe take a beginners cycle class or a body pump class at the gym.  Work out for 45-60 minutes at least 3 times a week, and go for a bike ride or walk on the weekends. 

Always change up your routine and use resources to get ideas. For example, check out Celebrity Trainer Danny Musico’s website, which provides some amazing functional training tips that you can use in your living room. Once you get your metabolism kicked in gear, that's when you will see the inches coming off.

BUT... You must not starve yourself!  You must stay in a fat burning mode, and that means no crash diets. My friends at Diet Free Life are experts in knowing how to snack and eat everything you like, but in the right proportions and at the right time. FitPro has just teamed up with Diet Free Life to help people know how to balance their nutrient intake.  Diet fads and super work out videos come and go, but the basics of revving up your metabolism through exercise while feeding your body properly to stay in the fat burning mode is as simple and glamorous as it gets.

Thanks so much for your nutrition knowledge and exercise tips, Brad. We love learning more about the foods we put into our bodies and how they can help us maintain and boost our healthy lifestyles!

Brad Kloss is devoted to his roots as a dairy animal nutritionist who opened his own health club which now operates in multiple states. After he became frustrated with the lack of natural protein products on the market, he realized it was time to merge his knowledge of dairy nutrition together with dedication to fitness to give consumers a better protein source that they both needed and deserved. Working with the University of Minnesota's dairy science lab, he developed a groundbreaking process that takes REAL grade-A milk fresh from American farms then filters it down to become a very high-quality, lactose free, and all natural protein shake.  He also proudly continues the family legacy with his two daughters, who are both actively involved in the business. 

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Trying the 'Reboot With Joe' Juicing Challenge

I'm a sucker for a good documentary. And, if it's about food, health or nutrition, I'm all over it.
Image Credit: Flickr

One of my favorite movies is Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead from Joe Cross. The other night I noticed there was a new (2014) "Part 2" available on Netflix. I queued it up and watched, mesmerized.

I just love what healthy eating and nutrition can do for people.

Then I decided I should try it. I opted for the 5-day reboot. In a nutshell, I've been making fresh juices each day and consuming them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I'm also enjoying coconut water, hot herbal tea and water with lemon. That's it.

Why? Most people try these juicing cleanses and detox challenges to lose weight. I'm at my ideal goal weight already, so I'm consuming enough juice to keep my daily caloric needs in check.

Instead, I'm hoping to:
  • boost my immune system functioning by giving it a flood of vitamins
  • get my digestion back on track and regulated (it's been goofy since surgery)
  • give my digestive system a little healing break since Celiac is slowly damaging it
  • gain some much needed energy from all the nutrients
As I write this, I'm at the end of day two.

On day one I noticed I was urinating much more frequently and was not overly hungry. But, I am already planning what I want to eat once I have solid foods again. Veggie fajitas from my favorite Mexican place sound really good right about now!

Today, day two, was a different story. I woke up this morning feeling really good. I enjoyed my morning hot lemon water and breakfast juice. Then the hubby and I took the dogs for a walk, and things started to go down hill.

I was out of breath from a short walk. I started to get dizzy. Then the ringing in my ears started. My blood sugar was way out of control. I was sweating uncontrollably and had to eat something to avoid passing out.

I'm done with this challenge. Sugary fruit-based juice and hypoglycemia simply don't mix. I'm upset that I wasn't able to give this challenge a full try, but I think it's best for my health for me to stop.

After eating dinner and resting, I feel much better. So, for anyone thinking of doing this challenge, listen to your body. And, if you have issues with your blood sugars (diabetic, hypoglycemic, hyperglycemic) this probably isn't the best option for you. Talk with your doctor first!

Have you done the "Reboot with Joe" challenge from Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead? Tell me your challenges and successes in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Sometimes You Should Eat Weird Things

Purple carrots on my salad.  Photo by Angela Tague
By my friends' standards, I'm an adventuresome eater.

I don't think twice about putting quinoa, tempeh and flax seeds in my grocery cart.

But for me, those are normal weekly groceries.

So, I get really excited when *I* find something truly unique at the grocery store. A few weeks ago my favorite supermarket expanded their organic offerings.

While browsing the fruits and vegetables, I came across a bag of carrots. I know. That's not really exciting. What caught me off guard were the colors!

Purple. Yellow. Lavender.

I instantly knew I had to try them. Would they taste the same as the old garden variety orange carrots I've eaten forever? Or, would they be different?

I made a nice big salad for lunch and topped it with the sliced vegetables. Although they were crunchy and sweet, I couldn't tell any difference in flavor. But, they sure are pretty, especially the two-tone purple variety.

When you're embarking on a healthier lifestyle, sometimes you just have to jump in and try weird foods with funny names or uncommon colors. You never know what delicious item you'll add to your weekly grocery list next!

What's the most uncommon thing you like to eat? Tell me in the comments below about the food that makes your friends and family give you strange looks.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Getting Healthy in 2015: Here's What Worked for Me

Do your New Year's resolution ideas involve getting healthier? Losing weight? Cutting out junk food?

You've come to the right blog to help you along your journey.

I've battled yo-yo weight loss (and gains!) for longer than I can remember. Thankfully in 2014 I made changes that helped me reach my healthy goal weight and feel better on a day-to-day basis.

So, I'm happy to share! It's no secret: make diet changes and exercise regularly.

Halloween at the pool! I'm the "carrot" on the end!

But, here's how I did it. I downloaded a cellphone app called My Fitness Pal. It tracks how many calories you burn when exercising and doing routine things like cleaning the house or walking the dog. It also tracks how many calories you eat at each meal and when you're snacking. This app has helped me realize my portions were out of control, even when I was eating healthy whole foods. If you stick to it, My Fitness Pal WORKS!

I also started exercising regularly. I hate treadmills and don't really care for the elliptical or stationary bikes. So, I found activities that I truly enjoy, including water aerobics, swimming laps, yoga and weightlifting. I try to do one of these activities at least five times each week for an hour at a time.

If you're thinking you're too old, have bad knees or won't fit in at a gym -- think again. I exercise next to 70-year-old women with hip replacements. The gym culture isn't all buff 20-somethings. There's a huge variety of people trying to get healthy.

If 2015 is the year you're going to make a change and get healthy, good for you! Take it one day at a time and remember that each day is a new chance to sneak in some exercise or pass on those second helpings at dinner. You can do this!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

PS: Let's stay connected! I'm on Facebook and Twitter daily!