Tricky, Tricky Food Industry.

Oh, Food Industry… How I WISH you only consisted of farmers and organic chefs… Unfortunately, that is NOT the case.  So here’s a guide that I borrowed from them to help navigate the ever confusing and frustrating grocery store aisles.  Healthwashing is the term used for the confusing and ambiguous terms and packaging that companies use to trick you into thinking they’re offering you something nutritious and good for you. (I just found this facebook group dedicated to it… awesome!)

When it comes to weight loss (and general health and vibrancy), one of the most effective actions can be to eliminate excess chemicals and processed foods: Get back to basics! That means preparing as much as you can from fresh, organic sources.  Is it time consuming? Yep, sure is.  Is it worth it?  YES, YES, YES!!!

But when you have to buy something that’s pre-packaged, it is SO SO SO important to read ALL of the ingredients and to know what it is that you’re reading.  We already gave you this post about sugar and how it can lurk unsuspected in a product’s ingredient lists! Here is a more inclusive list of this to know and look out for when it comes to pre-packaged and processed foods.

  • Organic. Any multi-ingredient product bearing the USDA Organic seal must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. But the federal certification process is voluntary -and not every product that claims to be organic undergoes such scrutiny.
  • Made with organic ingredients. At least 70% of the ingredients must be organic. The product cannot carry the USDA Organic seal.
  • Non- or -free. Must have less than the following per serving: fat (0.5 gram), sugar (0.5 gram), cholesterol (2mg), or sodium (5mg).
  • Low-. Generally, the product must have less than the following per serving: fat (3 grams), cholesterol (20 mg), or sodium (140 mg).
  • Reduced. Generally, the product must have at least 25% less of the given component than is typically found in that type of food.
  • Light. If at least half of the product’s calories come from fat, fat must be reduced by at least 50% per serving. If less than half of the calories are from fat, fat must be reduced at least 50%, or calories reduced at least 33%, per serving.
  • Reduced, Added, Extra, Plus, Fortified,Enriched. These claims can be made relative to a similar representative product.
  • High, Rich In, Excellent SourceOf. All designate products with at least 20% of the recommended daily amount per serving.
  • Good Source, ContainsProvides. The product must have more than 10% but less than 20% of the recommended daily amount per serving.
  • More, Fortified, Enriched, Added, ExtraPlus. For vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber with at least 10% of the recommended amount per serving.
  • Lean. Generally, less than 10 grams of fat.
  • Extra lean. Less than 5 grams of fat.
  • Certified Humane. A label for products made by non-profit organizations dedicated to humane treatment of animals. To use the label, animals must have been given no growth hormones or antibiotics, or lived in cages, crates, or stalls; and must have had “access to sufficient, clean, and nutritious feed and water.
  • Naturally raised. A recent USDA standard for animals raised without growth hormones or anitbiotics.
  • Natural. A term regulated only for meats and poultry — containing no artificial flavors, colors, or chemical preservatives — and otherwise meaningless.

Some label terms, although truthful, have little or no real meaning, no standards for definition -and a high potential to confuse consumers:

  • Contains antioxidants
  • Doctor-recommended
  • Free-range (can mean anything from an animal that roams freely to one that is let out of its cage from time to time)
  • Green
  • Immunity formula
  • Kid-approved
  • Made with whole grains
  • May lower cholesterol
  • Natural (for non-meat or -poultry products)
  • Natural goodness
  • No trans fat
  • Non-toxic
  • Parent-tested
  • Strengthens your immune system

Be careful! Be smart! Take good care of yourselves and your loved ones!

Chakra Salad with Enlightened Tahini Sauce


I borrowed this recipe/post from one of my favorite food blogs: My New Roots

Here’s the original post!

As much as I love being a teacher, I really, really love being a student.
This summer has seen me traveling a whole bunch with my cooking classes and I have had a total blast. To compliment all this running around and hearing a little too much of my own voice, I thought that taking a course where I am on the knowledge-receiving end would do my spirit some good.
I decided to take a Reiki class and obtain my level one certification to enhance my abilities to heal myself and others.

What is Reiki (ray-key), you ask? Simply put, Reiki is an ancient, energy-based healing art that works as a support mechanism for the body. The light-touch therapy helps to re-establish a normal energy flow throughout the body’s systems, which in turn can enhance and accelerate the body’s innate healing abilities. The word Reiki can be broken down to two parts: Rei meaning universal spirit, and Ki meaning life force energy (in Chinese this is known as “Chi” and in Sanskrit it is known as “Prana”).

Reiki can be practiced on oneself and on others, and every single person has this capability within them. In fact, one of the most powerful concepts my Reiki master shared with us on the first day of class, was that Reiki was simply “remembering what we already know”, meaning that we are born with an innate guidance system that we often lose track of as we get older. Reiki does not conflict with any religious or meditative practice, nor does it conflict with allopathic medicine. Reiki in fact is a wonderful compliment to other therapeutic treatments such as massage, reflexology, acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, psychotherapy, etc. I have obviously been attracted to more natural, or as some would say “alternative” therapies, for healing any and all body ailments for some time now. I find the less invasive and preventative modalities are more in line with my lifestyle, and I appreciate the fact that everyone in the world can practice this technique simply and safely – it’s like the universal healing tool!

As no class would be complete without homework assignments, part of level one involves completing some out-of-class projects – but the best kind possible (in fact, being the keener I am, I actually asked for extra assignments because they were so much fun!). Our first task was to use the chakra colours in a creative way, so of course my first thoughts landed on food. The Reiki master, familiar with my love for all things edible, quickly told me to step outside my comfort zone and challenge myself to something different (which I will do in time, I promise!), but for now I give you my first homework assignment in the form of a fruit salad. I think I’ll get an A+.

The chakras are the major energy centers in the body, of which there are seven. Beginning at the very base of the spine and moving upward to the crown of the head, chakras are said to be moving wheels of light, colour and sound that regulate all energy entering and exiting the body. The energy that flows through the chakras regulates the healing abilities of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual selves. Although it may sound like pretty far-out stuff, I am amazed and inspired by the marked responses in my own body to this type of energy work.

Something that particularly caught my attention with studying the chakra system (which I was familiar with through my yoga practice), was noticing colours more than usual. As each colour corresponds to a specific chakra in the body, I realized that colours really do play an important role in our lives, and the ones we choose to surround ourselves with say a lot about us.

It is clear that colour is pretty important in my life, as creating vibrant hued food seems to wind up on my priority list almost daily. Although prior to taking this class this felt like more of a health-conscious decision, the importance of “eating a rainbow” and all that jazz, but now I realize that perhaps there is some truth to my cravings for specific colours. Red lentils to ground me when I am feeling a little too head-in-the-clouds, leafy greens for nourishing my heart, and violet berry smoothies when I need a serious spirit lift! Something to ponder at the least…

So yes, I had to make something using all the colours of the rainbow and what a pleasurable job indeed. The summer market called to me, and what I created was a rainbow fruit salad with a bright, light and spiced tahini sauce to bring it all together. The fruits I chose were just what I found and had on hand, but you can of course use any fruits you like and that are in season near you. The Enlightened Tahini Sauce tastes delicious on any sweet fruits. Even just slicing up an apple to dip in the lusciousness would be welcomed. Experiment and rejoice! Anything goes.

Chakra Fruit Salad with Enlightened Tahini Sauce
Serves 4
Fruit Salad:
currants – red / root chakra
oranges – orange / sacral chakra
plums – yellow/ solar plexus chakra
kiwi – green / heart chakra
blueberries – blue / throat chakra
blackberries – indigo / third eye chakra
grapes – violet / crown chakra

Enlightened Tahini Sauce
hemp hearts to garnish (optional)

1. Choose fruits representing every colour of the rainbow.
2. Wash and prepare with love and gratitude.
3. Drizzle with tahini sauce and sprinkle with hemp seeds. Share and enjoy.

Enlightened Tahini Sauce
Makes about 1 cup

¼ cup tahini
1 Tbsp. raw honey (or maple syrup)
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice
¼ tsp. cinnamon
pinch dried ground ginger
pinch of sea salt (unless you are using salted tahini)
4-6 Tbsp. water

1. Place all ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitting lid and shake well to combine. Add more water to thin if desired. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.

Although I can’t claim that eating this fruit salad will bring your spirit closer to enlightenment, I can tell you that your tummy will be. What better way to celebrate summer than with a refreshing bowl of raw rainbow sweetness to share with precious friends and beloved family? No matter how you slice it, nirvana is often found in the place you least expect, and sometimes even on the plate right in front of you.

Peace, bless, and lots of summer love to all,
Sarah B.

Daily Preparation!


Hello, beauties!
As I was crankily (is that a word?) packing my lunch today, I started thinking about how this could be an opportunity to get in the right frame of mind for the day… Yes, it’s 6:30 and I’d rather be curled up in my bed fast asleep, but I have to be awake; might as well make the best of it!!!
So, as a put my carrots in a baggie (to go with my red pepper hummus– yum!) , I think about how I want those carrots to nourish my body. I choose a tea, i choose one based on what I need for the days– which herbs will do what and why… As I pick my grapes, I ponder why I was complaining when I know that this is what’s best for my body and my life!
If you haven’t read this post Monica wrote about making time for a cooking day each week, you should check it out! It will make the morning prep for each day go even more smoothly!

Juicing Guide!

Hello, humans!  I thought it would be nice to have all of our juicing resources in one place!

Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to know about!

Buying a juicer!

The nutritional benefits of juicing!

The detoxifcation/weight-loss benefits of juicing!

A veggie guide– which veggies provide which benefits!

Enjoy!  Don’t hesitate to be in contact to tell us what you’re interested in knowing about!  And while you’re emailing us, why not try to snag one of monica’s remaining FREE strategy sessions???

Keen-what? (A Blog About Quinoa)

It seems the quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) has become increasingly popular these days. I was talking about it in a class last year, and said “I have such a good quinoa curry waiting for me at home!” and was met with blank stares from most of my classmates, and his remark: “Now there’s a sentence you didn’t hear three years ago…” In vegan/vegetarian circles, however, it’s quite a staple. But what IS it??

Webster says: an annual herb (Chenopodium quinoa) of the goosefoot family that is native to the Andean highlands and is cultivated for its starchy seeds which are used as food and ground into flour; also : its seeds

Seeds are a wonder. Think about it: all plant life began as a teeny, tiny seed, and look at all the plants on the planet! Think of all of the life-generating potential in each of those cute little quinoa seeds! Why not eat ’em up, and let all that potential nourish your body and make some new full-of-life cells and then just BE full of life?!?!

The facts are these:

  • The seed is the part we eat commonly.
  • It can be ground into flour and made into pasta. (in fact, you can do this yourself! Look here!)
  • You can buy it in BULK (and I do) and it’s cheaper!
  • It’s gluten-free
  • It takes just 10-15 minutes to cook
  • You can get black quinoa, red quinoa, white quinoa
  • It is a great source of complete protein (8 grams in 1/4 cup)
  • It’s got all these good things in it: “The list of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa is now known to include: polysaccharides like arabinans and rhamnogalacturonans; hydroxycinnamic and hydroxybenzoic acids; flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol; and saponins including molecules derived from oleanic acid, hederagenin and serjanic acid. Small amounts of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are also provided by quinoa.” (whfoods)
  • The cooking process does not greatly diminish the nutritional benefit
  • “As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds.” (ha ha, thank you Wikipedia)

So, next time you’re walking around the health food store and run across this gem, pick it up, take it home, and do some experimenting! I like to cook it with veggie broth and eat it with lightly  sautéed kale and asparagus! Or try it in a recipe instead of cous cous or rice!

What’s your favorite thing to do with quinoa? If it’s new to you, do you think you’ll give it a whirl?

Want someone to give you more brilliant advice about food and nutrition? You can always keep reading our blog, but why not send us an email or leave a comment here requesting a strategy session with nutrition magician Monica? Why put off making big, positive, permanent life changes when you could do it today?