Going Paleo

Most of the recipes I post on this site are either vegan or pesco-vegan friendly, but in all honesty, I follow a mostly Paleo diet. About a year and a half ago, after watching all the plant-based diet documentaries, I decided to cut back on my meat consumption. I went from eating meat twice a week, to once a week, to none at all. Then I began cutting out other things like cheese and cream. I switched to using almond milk in my cereal and tea rather than skim milk or vanilla creamer. Eventually I grew into what I liked to call a pseudo-vegan (I was still eating fish) and began increasing my intake of soy rich foods, rice, legumes, and grains.

Paleo Diet Becauseitsgoodforyou.comIt was fine for a little while, but then I started experiencing some strange symptoms: dizziness, fatigue, mental fog, skin allergies, etc. and I knew something wasn’t right. After sharing these issues with my Naturopathic Doctor, she decided to run a food allergy panel to see if I was allergic to any of the foods I was eating. I also began keeping a food diary and taking note of how I felt, physically and emotionally, after each meal. The food allergy panel came back showing I was in fact showing some allergic reactions toward many of the food items I was consuming on a regular basis. By keeping a food diary, I noticed that many of my physical and mental symptoms I was experiencing resulted after eating a dish with tofu, wheat, rice, or soy. Through drawing my blood, I also learned that I had an O blood type – the most primitive blood type and the type most associated with individuals who thrive off a Paleolithic diet.

According to Dr. D’Adamo, author of “Eat Right for Your Type,” our blood type can help determine what type of foods we should or should not be eating. But he’s not the only one who believes this theory. In Japan, asking someone their blood type is similar to asking someone what their astrological sign is. They believe it not only shows what type of diet you should be on, but it is also an indicator of certain personality traits. For example, an A blood type is said to be creative and analytical, B blood types are known as easygoing and flexible, O’s are objective and practical, and AB’s are intuitive and spiritual. His theory may also explain why many individuals have altered their diet – to either plant-based, lean meat-based, gluten-free, or the like – and seen their medical issues completely reverse. It just goes to show that everyone is unique and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another (you can read how I discovered this notion for myself here).

Robb Wolf is a huge advocate for the Paleo diet. He was a research biochemist who traded in his lab coat to write “The Paleo Solution,” a book that made the New York Times Bestseller’s list. He’s also a strength and conditioning coach, a blogger, public speaker, and has a podcast, all devoted to living a Paleo life. He describes the Paleo diet as the healthiest way we can eat- because it’s the way that our ancestors ate. The Paleo diet is sometimes called the Paleolithic diet, the Caveman diet, Hunter-Gatherer diet, or the Stone Age diet. It’s derived from the principle of consuming an ancient diet of wild plants and animals that hominid species consumed nearly 10,000 years ago, before the agricultural revolution and the production of man-made grains. The basics of it are as follows:

Paleo Diet Becauseitsgoodforyou.comFoods to Eat: Lean proteins such as beef, chicken, duck, lamb, turkey, organ meats, elk, eggs (all must be organic/antibiotic free, grass-fed, and free-range), fish that is low in mercury and caught in the wild or from a company that uses sustainable farming methods, plenty of vegetables, most fruits (low glycemic is best), nuts (except peanuts), seeds, and healthy fats (avocado, coconut).

Foods to Avoid: Dairy, grains, processed foods and oils, sugars, starches, legumes, and alcohol.

The trick to this diet is knowing what to use as a substitute. Coconut milk is a great substitute for dairy products and is a good source of healthy fat. Almond milk also works well as a “creamer” for coffee or tea. Coconut flour and almond meal can be used for baking or “breading.” Extra-virgin olive oil and coconut oil is encouraged over vegetable oils or seed oils (corn, canola, safflower). Once you get the hang of it, eating Paleo is pretty easy. For those of you who are interested in switching to a Paleo lifestyle, stay tuned! I’ll be sharing recipes in my next post to help get you started on your journey.

The Paleo diet also contains many positive anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that an anti-inflammatory diet has helped many individuals suffering from a variety of health issues including asthma, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune disorders. Inflammatory foods not only affect the body, but also affect the brain. Inflammatory responses have even been linked to symptoms of Asperger’s and Autism. For further information on the role of inflammation in the body, you can check out this post here.

Now that you know the ins and outs of going Paleo, do you think you’ll try to make the switch? Or have you tried living Paleo before and found that maybe it wasn’t the right fit for your blood or body type? I would be interested to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. And don’t forget to check back for my future post with some tasty Paleo recipes!

Green Coconut Smoothie

Green Coconut Smoothie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Todays post is going to be short and sweet (literally).  If you read my previous post you know that I’ve been experimenting quite a bit with coconut lately, and I’m so excited to share this amazing coconut smoothie recipe that I finally feel like I’ve perfected. I’ve made many a’ coconut smoothie in my day – coconut milk, kale, and blueberries; coconut milk, peaches, and spinach; coconut milk, blueberries and spinach (you get the idea) – but none of them were anything to write home over. The great thing about this recipe is that it has coconut meat in it, which is the best part of the coconut for you. I guess it was about time to overcome my fear of cracking open an actual coconut, because it was the secret to this drinks delicious success!

Green Coconut Smoothie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 1 Young Thai Coconut
• 1.5 cups coconut milk
• 1 tbsp organic raw honey
• 1 tbsp coconut oil
• 1 large handful spinach/kale/baby kale

Green Coconut Smoothie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

PREPARATION

Serving size: 2 full pint glasses

Crack open coconut with a sharp knife by “hammering” on all sides and twisting to pop open (be careful!). Drain water from coconut into blender. Scoop out coconut meat with a spoon and place into blender. Add honey, coconut oil, and greens. Blend well.

And that’s it! This smoothie is so good you’ll be craving it every morning (I know I do)!

Enjoy!

Green Coconut Smoothie Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU

Young Thai Coconut meat contains only 65 calories and is a good source of manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Coconut water contains electrolyte levels similar to those in our blood and was even used for blood transfusions during WWII – It was known as the “fluid of life” among soldiers and medical staff. In addition, it’s also packed with B vitamins as well as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Juicing 101: Behind the Scenes

juice cleanse becauseitsgoodforyou.com

There were several pro’s and con’s to my 3-day juice cleanse experiment. On the one hand, I realized that multi-day juice cleanses weren’t for everyone because I didn’t quite feel all the positive effects that I read about in the testimonials. On the other hand, I did learn a lot of delicious juice recipes and even began creating some recipes of my own! My juicing has definitely been up since the cleanse and I even find myself occasionally craving an 8oz glass of nutritional gooddness. While my last post documented my juicing experience, this post is dedicated to sharing some of the recipes I made (drank) over the cleanse. I started out the weekend following the recipes listed in the back of Zoe Sakoutis and Erica Huss’s book, “The 3-Day Cleanse,” but about halfway through the second day I began experimenting with my own recipes (mainly because I a) started running out of ingredients and b) have a difficult time following recipes exactly). For more juice and meal recipes, definitely check out Sakoutis and Huss’s book. It’s an easy read and has a ton of nutritional information that anyone can benefit from. But anyway, enough with the rambling and on to the recipes!

*If you feel a bit lost after reading that paragraph, take a look at my previous post: Accomplishing Some Things and Failing at Others: Juicing 101 –  here

I’ll start off with my favorite recipe, the tastes-like-you’re-drinking-ice-cream, CASHEW MILK. This was always the last drink of the day, to prevent you from waking up starving the next morning.

WHAT YOU NEED:

• ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour (in 1 cup water)
• 2 cups filtered water
• 1 ½ teaspoon extra virgin coconut oil
• ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 teaspoons agave nectar
• pinch of sea salt

PREPARATION:

Drain the nuts and combine all ingredients into a blender. Blend well, until completely smooth. Store in a refrigerator and shake well before use.

BLUEBERRY PEACH – This is another easy recipe you can make in your blender. It’s great as a breakfast smoothie or mid afternoon snack.

Blueberry Peach Juice becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 1 cup frozen blueberries
• 1 cup frozen peaches
• 1 ½ cups rice milk

PREPARATION:

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

GREEN JUICE – This one you need a juicer for, but it’s still super easy. There may be a lot of greens, but the apples make it sweet.

Green Juice becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• Large handful of spinach
• Large handful of kale
• 2 Apples (I used Golden Delicious)
• ½ large cucumber
• Small handful of parsley, stems removed
• 1 lemon

PREPARATION:

Wash all ingredients. Cut the peel from the lemon. Cut cucumber into pieces that will fit through a juicer. Core the apple and cut into pieces that will fit through a juicer. Run ingredients through the juicer. Scrape pulp from sides and run back through juicer if needed.

SPINACH BLUEBERRY APPLE JUICE 

Spinach Blueberry Juice becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• Small handful of spinach
• 10 oz blueberries
• 1 Granny Smith apple
• 1 lemon

PREPARATION:

Wash ingredients. Core apple and cut into pieces that will fit through a juicer. Cut peel from the lemon. Run all ingredients through the juicer. Scrape pulp from sides and run back through juicer if needed.

CRAZY JUICE – This is where things started to get crazy (obviously)

Crazy Juice becauseitsgoodforyou.com

WHAT YOU NEED:

• Large handful of kale
• Small handful of parsley
• 1 cucumber
• 2 carrots
• 1 lemon

PREPARATION

Wash all ingredients. Cut stems from parsley. Cut cucumber and carrots into pieces that will fit through the juicer. Cut peel from lemon. Run all ingredients through juicer. Scrape pulp from sides and run back through juicer if needed.

There you have it. Five delicious juice recipes to get you started on your juicing journey. Do you have any favorite recipes? Or have you completed a juice cleanse and experienced similar, or different, results? If so, please share!

Happy juicing!

Hearty Lima Bean and Barley Chowder

Bean and Barley Soup. Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

Several months back I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and I immediately had to buy the cookbook.  For those of you who are not familiar with Forks Over Knives, it’s a documentary that shares success stories of individuals with major health issues (heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol) who have seen their illnesses literally reverse by becoming vegan and eating only whole or plant-based foods.  Personally, I’ve recently become more of a believer in the “eat right for your blood type” ideology (more about that concept in a future post), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great documentary with some amazing stories shared by people who have integrated healthy eating into their lifestyle and seen incredibly positive results.  Also, studies show that Americans typically eat way more meat and dairy than we should be eating, so incorporating more whole foods and veggies into a diet is never a bad thing.  Another pro is that the recipes taste good. I’ve tried a handful of Forks Over Knives recipes and I must admit, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of them.  The only negative aspect of the book are the lack of food photos, so I figured I’d share a couple of my own.  I made this soup last week when we had a whole two days of rain and I felt like eating something warm and hearty.  Now we’re back to 90 degree heat and I’m back to eating salads.  California weather is always a surprise.

Bean and Barley Soup. Becauseitsgoodforyou.com

*Note: This recipe makes A LOT of soup. Unless you are making it for a dinner party, or plan on eating it for 3 days in a row (like I had to), I would recommend cutting the recipe in half. 

WHAT YOU NEED:

• 8 cups water or vegetable stock ( I used 4c water, 4c stock)
• 1 cup dry baby lima beans
• 1 cup chopped white or red onion (I used white)
• 1 cup chopped carrot
• 1 celery stock, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup pearl barley
• 1 tbsp crushed garlic
• 1 teaspoon thyme (or another herb. I used parsley)
• Salt and pepper to taste

BEFORE: Soak lima beans in water overnight then drain.

PREPARATION:

1.  Place water and lima beans in a large pot and bring to a boil.

2.  Add onion, carrot, celery, pearl barley, crushed garlic, and thyme.

3.  Bring back to a boil.

4. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 2 hours, or until the broth is creamy and
the barley and beans are tender.

6. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

OPTION: The next day I decided to sauté some mushrooms, garlic, and kale before adding the soup to reheat.  I topped it with a little Sriracha and the juice from a couple lemon wedges – It tasted even more delicious than the first time!

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU:

Barley may be used to help in the prevention and management of diabetes by slowing glucose absorption.  It is a great source of dietary fiber. Barley also contains phytochemicals which may reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases, as well as antioxidants, iron, magnesium, zinc, and other vital nutrients.

Lima beans are also a high-fiber food. They’re considered to be heart-healthy because they are low in fat and contain no cholesterol. Lima beans are a good source of protein and aid in digestion.

Enjoy!

Makeover + Big News!

If you haven’t noticed, Because It’s Good For You just got a makeover! Big thanks to Hak Lonh of Champion & King for his amazing photography skills and help in adding a little life to this website. Also, thanks to the fruits and vegetables for being such amazing models! Who knew produce was so photogenic? I mean, just look at this artichoke!

artichoke becauseitsgoodforyou

Beautiful, right?! And check out these berries:

berries becauseitsgoodforyou

That just goes to show that the best looking things are natural, not artificial!

ALSO- Because It’s Good For You is now on Facebook! Anything I post on WordPress will automatically be linked to both sites, but I’ll also be adding extra health-related news and fun facts only on Facebook – so please follow both to stay informed! You can find the “Like” box in the upper right hand corner of this page, or you can find a link to it here.

Tumblr, Twitter, and (maybe) Instagram are soon to come as well! Stay tuned!

The Cutest Little Tapenade Stuffed Mushroom Recipe

I’m a big fan of bite -sized food.  Not only are you preventing a mess from forming around the corners of your mouth, but you’re also tasting every delicious flavor of a recipe- all in one bite!  It’s quick, clean, and satisfying.  And who doesn’t love a good miniature?! Like these baby bella mushrooms, for example:

baby bella mushrooms becauseitsgoodforyou

On that note, I’ll share with you a bite-sized recipe that I whipped up recently for a friends barbecue.  The host had already prepared an array of amazing food options, but I wanted to contribute by adding a snack that would appease omnivores and herbivores alike.  I immediately thought of mini stuffed mushrooms, and after some perusing around on the internet, I found this olive tapenade recipe that I thought would be a perfect filling!

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED:

• 3 cups baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and chopped in half
• 1-2 square sheets parchment paper
• 1 1/2 cups Kalamata olives, pitted
• 1 1/2 cups green olives, pitted
• 5 cloves of garlic
• 2 tbsp capers
• 1 red bell pepper, roasted and cut into 1″ sections
• 1/2 oz parsley
• 3 tsp lemon juice
• 1/2 oz basil
• 5 tbsp olive oil

olive tapenade becauseitsgoodforyou

PREPARATION:

1.  Place olives, pepper, capers, garlic, and about half of the mushrooms stems into a food processor.  Push the “pulse” button about 15 times at 1 second intervals.
*Although a  food processor is the easiest method, it’s not the only one.  You may choose to chop the ingredients up by hand, but it could take you a while.

2.  Add the basil, parsley, olive oil, and juice from the lemon.  Pulse again for about 15 times at 1 second intervals, or until everything looks well chopped. Remove from processor and set aside.

 

olive tapenade becauseitsgoodforyou

olive tapenade becauseitsgoodforyou

3.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

4.  Place the baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, on to a plate or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
* If you think you can spoon the tapenade on to the mushroom without making a big mess, a baking sheet may be the better option here, so you don’t have to transfer them to one later.  I learned this the hard way. 

5.  Spoon a small bit of tapenade in to the mushroom where the stem used to be.

olive stuffed mushrooms becauseitsgoodforyou

6.  If you haven’t done so already, place mushrooms on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in oven.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to “sweat” and are soft to the touch.

7.  You’ll probably need to do two rounds of baking unless you have an extra-large baking sheet. If not, wait a few minutes for the mushrooms to cool and enjoy your beautiful (and delicious) bite-sized creation!

olive tapenade stuffed mushrooms becauseitsgoodforyou

olive tapenade stuffed mushrooms becauseitsgoodforyou

WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU:

Mushrooms are often used in weight loss programs because they are very low in calories, sodium, and fat, while adding fiber to your body with every bite.  Mushrooms are also a great source of potassium (1 large Portobello mushroom contains more potassium than a banana),  a mineral that has been known to lower blood pressure and reduce the chance of stroke.  Riboflavin, niacin, and selenium are also a part of  the health benefits of mushrooms and aid in the prevention of prostate cancer.1

Although olives have a high fat content (about 15-30 percent), they still offer several health benefits.  For example, olives are abundant in vitamin E as well as polyphenols and flavonoids.  They are also an anti-inflammatory and can prevent against certain cancers and heart disease.2  Olives originated in the Mediterranean, an area that still frequently consumes large amounts of olives and olive products/fats (such as olive oil).  Research shows that people in this region show fewer instances of diabetes, arthritis, asthma, and colon cancer compared to the United States, whose residents typically consume a diet high in animal fats.3

RESOURCES
1. http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/updates/mighty-mushrooms.php
2. http://www.livestrong.com/article/43114-nutrition-information-olives/
3. http://www.everynutrient.com/healthbenefitsofolives.html

When Can You Break The ‘Organic’ Rule?

We have all heard that eating organic is the way to go if we want to prevent ourselves from ingesting potentially harmful chemicals hidden in our fruits and vegetables.  But how many times have you gone to the grocery store on a budget and noticed that organic avocados are almost a dollar more than non-organic avocados?  Being a recent college graduate, I know what it feels like to worry about those extra dollars adding up.  I sometimes have wondered if one word could really make that big of a difference.  Unless you consistently shop at Sprouts, Whole Foods, or have an amazing farmer’s market in your town, buying organic can be difficult, costly, and make shopping twice as long and frustrating.

Although purchasing (and eating) solely organically grown food is still the best option, there are some non-organic foods that you could slip into your mouth without feeling a tremendous amount of guilt or anxiety that you just ingested 80 different kinds of pesticides.  Psychology Today was kind enough to list them out in a recent issue and I felt like it was also worth mentioning here.  So, here you go:

NON-ORGANIC FOODS YOU CAN EAT SAFELY AND (MOSTLY) GUILT-FREE

1. Onions – 1 Pesticide
Dicloran is a fungicide and the only pesticide that onions carry – and was found present in only .03 percent of samples tested.  However,  dicloran is banned in most European countries, and probably for good reason.

2. Sweet Corn – 1 Pesticide
The neurotoxin dimethoate is the only toxin in sweet corn and was only found on 2.3 percent of samples tested.

3. Pineapples – 6 Pesticides
Triadimefon is the most common pesticide found in pineapples, but was still only present in 4.5 percent of samples. Carbaryl is a neurotoxin found in trace amounts in pineapples and is also banned in most European countries (I think they’re on to something).

4. Avocado – exact number unstated
Abamectin is the major pesticide in avocados and has been known to lead to tremors and loss of coordination in high doses.  However, all avocados are good sources of fiber, folate, and phytosterols (aka – good fat).

5. Asparagus – 9 Pesticides
The pesticides found were only present in about 3.3 percent of samples tested.  These included methomyl and chlorpyrifos, both neurotoxins.

6. Sweet Peas – 12 Chemicals
Dimethoate was found present in over 10 percent of samples tested.  The other chemicals were found in anywhere between 0.1 – 12.1 percent of samples.

7. Mangoes – 2 Major Pesticides + small traces of others
Imidacloprid and glyphosate are the 2 major pesticides in mangoes;  Although glyphosate is relatively non-toxic to humans.

8. Eggplant – 17+ Chemicals
17 looks like a lot of chemicals, but the amounts found in the samples were only small traces.  It’s main ‘star’ is the hormone disruptor endosulfan, which was found in 16 percent of samples.

9. Cantaloupe – 27 Pesticides
Endosulfan is also the most common pesticide found in cantaloupe.  The other pesticides were found in percentages ranging from 0.2-28.8 of samples.

10. Cabbage – 2 Major Pesticides + small traces of others
Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide and nerve disruptor found in cabbage.  Chlorothalonil is a potential carcinogen and can damage eyes and skin in high doses.

11. Kiwi – 2 Major Pesticides + small traces of others
Glyphosate and paraquat were found in 57 and 35 percent of samples. Glyphosate is harmless, although paraquat has been linked to Parkinson’s disease.

12. Watermelon – 28 Pesticides
28 different pesticides were found in 0.2-5.1 percent of watermelon samples. The most common are imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, both neurotoxins, and methamidophos, a far more toxic nerve disruptor.

FOODS YOU SHOULD ONLY EAT IF GROWN ORGANICALLY (AKA “THE DIRTY DOZEN”)

1. Apples – 40 + Pesticides
Workers who apply pesticides to apples, particularly diphenylamine or DPA (which is linked to bladder tumors), are required to wear long sleeves and gloves to prevent exposure to these fungicides and carcinogens.

2. Celery – 64 Pesticides
Pesticides discovered were found on every celery tested, most of which are used to kill moths, beetles, and other bugs by stimulating their muscles to contract.

3. Strawberries – exact number unstated
One of every two non-organic strawberries grown contain the fungicide captan, a possible carcinogen.  Pyraclostrobin is also very present in strawberries and has been known to cause skin and eye irritations.

4. Peaches – 62 Pesticides
Most peaches tested contained pesticides that may cause damage to the liver, kidneys, nervous system functioning, and reproductive systems.

5. Spinach – 48 Pesticides
Permethrin and imidacloprid are found in almost every other leaf of spinach sampled, and can disrupt nerve signals.

6. Nectarines – 33 Pesticides
Formetanate is a neurotoxin that was found in half of the sample of nectarines tested.

7. Grapes – 34 Pesticides
Cyprodinil was found in 3/10 Chilean grapes and can cause eye, nose, and skin irritation.

8. Bell Peppers – 49 Pesticides
26 of the 49 different pesticides found in bell peppers are hormone disruptors, while 13 of them are neurotoxins. Imidacloprid is also present in more than 80 percent of samples tested.

9. Potatoes – 37 Pesticides
Imidacloprid is found again in high doses in potatoes, along with chloropropham which can irritate the skin and eyes in high doses.

10. Lettuce – 51 Pesticides
Imidacloprid strikes yet again in 73 percent of lettuce samples tested. Lettuce also has DCPA, a herbicide, and dimethomorph, a fungicide that can damage lungs if inhaled.

11. Blueberries – 52 Pesticides
Approximately 30 percent of blueberries contain the fungicide boscalid, which is toxic to the liver and thyroid, as well as pyraclostrobin, a skin irritant.

12. Kale – 55 Pesticides
Similar to lettuce, kale contains DCPA and imidacloprid, found in 30 and 50 percent of samples.

TAKE NOTE: This is not a list stating what NOT to eat. All of these produce items still have nutritional benefits and are very good for you! Just remember that when in doubt – choose organic. Then you will never have to worry about eating anything foreign or in addition to the tons of vitamins and minerals that are naturally present in these food items.

If you would like more information or  are looking for a way to eat organic without spending a ton of money, Psychology Today wrote another beautiful online article to help. You can find it here.