Choose Organic!

Organic Week is approaching us in Canada and I thought I’d discuss the benefits of buying organic and local whenever possible! Now I know the word “organic” can sound just as overwhelming and “trendy” as the word superfoodbut regardless of your diet, buying organic food is a smart and beneficial priority. Opting to buy even some organic and local foods can be an efficacious choice for personal and environmental health.

So why (try to) buy organic? 

Organic food delivers more nutrition and is higher in minerals and antioxidants than traditional foods. There have been many studies that have been shown that show an increased level of some nutrients in various organic foods. On average, organically grown foods provide roughly 20 percent more iron, 25 percent more Vitamin C and 30 percent more magnesium per serving. Significantly more minerals, vitamins, enzymes and micro nutrients than conventionally grown foods because the soil is handled and nourished with sustainable operations by accountable standards. So by consuming organic foods fairly consistently, we technically can double our overall daily nutritional intake!

Buying and eating organic also means avoiding and lessening your chance of chemical absorption. There are a cocktail of chemical poisons and pesticides that can be found in commercially grown foods in today’s society. More than 600-1000 active synthetic chemicals are registered for agricultural use in North America that produce about 45,000-55,000 different pesticides. More than 90 percent conventionally grown produce is guaranteed to contain pesticide residue. Most of them have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency prior to extensive testing for long term effects on our health. When we are exposed to a number of different toxic chemicals, that are most likely carcinogenic, for over a long period of time, we put ourselves at risk for adverse health issues such as cancer, birth defects, mineral deficiencies, hormone system disorders and other diseases. To dramatically reduce our exposure to these harmful. choose to buy locally organic foods that contain much lower concentrations of chemicals whenever possible. Purchasing locally grown food doesn’t always mean chemical or pesticide free unfortunately. The pesticide residue some organic produce sometimes come from the soil that previously sustained conventional farming, pesticide accumulation from neighboring farms or other environmental factors. But certified organic produce is always grown with absolutely no chemicals and pesticides! Better for your body and the planet in the long run.

Eating fresh organic produce also means a decreased intake of food additives such as MSG, food colouring agents, artificial ingredients, growth hormones and antibiotics. Your body will also thank you for providing it with food that doesn’t contain any genetically modified organisms (GMO) and hasn’t been put through irradiation. Popular grocery list items such as apples, strawberries, spinach, almonds, soybeans, and corn that aren’t certified organic and locally produced are contaminated with an alarming rate of GMO, with repercussions beyond our own understanding! Did you know that GMO foods do not have to be labeled in North America? How do we actually know what we’re eating if the government chooses to conceal it from us? Why is everything else labeled and deemed safe to consume but GMOs are kept hidden ingredient lists? Instead of labeling items as “non GMO” or “organic”, shouldn’t that be the natural thing to assume they are and label them when they aren’t? Since the organically grown food supply is not permitted to be genetically modified in any way, choosing to go organic is the only option to steer clear from ingesting genetically modified foods and having to play the ingredient guessing game altogether. 🙂

Sustainable organic food also tastes a lot better! I can’t imagine the amount of times I’ve bitten into a strawberry that wasn’t organic and it tasted like plastic! Not to mention how ginormous they were to begin with. Strawberries shouldn’t be the size of tennis balls. As a matter of fact, they’re actually quite small, sweet and absolutely lush! And if you compare the non organic, non local strawberries to strawberries that aren’t, you’ll not only notice the difference in size, but also in taste – big time! Organic produce tends to taste better and fresher for the most part. Well balanced soil means better produce which means better tasting nourishing food for us! And since most organic food is locally produced, it doesn’t need to travel as far as most conventional foods do. Because they’re picked closer to their peak ripeness, it allows the natural rich flavors to be more delicious and potent. Besides, is it really necessary be eating strawberries imported from Mexico when we’re capable of growing them here? *And by here, for me, it’s Canada! 😉 

There’s a myriad of exceptional decent reasons why you should always try to choose and eat organic whenever you can! Aside from avoiding chemicals and better taste and better quality, you’d also be supporting local economies and farming communities, help preserve our ecosystems, reduce pollution, protect our water and soils and preserve agricultural diversity. While there are some expensive organic items on our shelves today, there are ways to eat organic and local without breaking your budget. You can shop at bulk stores, food coops and/or local farmers’ markets like The Stop @ Wychwood Barns and Evergreen Brickworks which are two of my favorites in the city! If you’re a meat eater, you can maximize your plant consumption and swap for plant based protein options that are definitely less expensive like organic dried beans, nuts and more nutrient dense greens like kale, collard greens and broccoli which are actually affordable to purchase organic!

Some other simple guidelines you can gradually follow that will help you make the healthiest and safest choices:

  • Read the labels that are accessible on all of the foods you buy and learn about the ingredients.
  • Eliminate one conventional processed food product that you normally grab and buy it organic! Non organically grown apples, carrots, seeds and soft fruits are some of the most heavily pesticide sprayed products. If apples are usually on your list, opt to buy them organic. And if that’s not convenient or accessible, it is important to thoroughly wash the skin with apple cider vinegar to reduce pesticide intake. Remember, companies invest big money in chemicals that are resistant to rain drops! So soak, scrub and repeat!
  • Look for Non-GMO options for particular foods like grains, corn, soybeans, beans, nuts and frozen produce.
  • Buy local whenever you can! Try to stay away from produce that’s grown in countries that requires two plane rides! 😉 (It always makes me happy to see a product that’s in my case, 100% Canadian and local.)
  • Focus on buying produce that’s in season. You can freeze summer fruits and vegetables if you live in a country with a not so pleasant winter season.
  • Choose who your money goes to. Buy from companies that are committed to providing you the best worthwhile quality food…

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Mike and Mike’s Organics carries a variety of diverse nutrient packed finds such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits and fresh produce that’s good for you, nature approved and organic! All of their products meet the rigorous standards and handled according to strict procedures in order to be certified organic. This ensures that the quality of their products are deemed safe to consume for everyone. They carry a delicious line of good-for-you healthy munchies that you can happily choose from: raw organic almonds, pine nuts, cashews, trail mixes, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, walnuts – you name it! And all bursting with natural nutrition, quality taste and sustainable substance. Everything you would want (and more) in fresh valued food! Use them in salads, homemade baked goods, savory dishes, or soak ’em then eat ’em raw as healthy delicious snacks! They are all so unbelievably convenient and reasonably priced too (from as low as $3.99 to $8.99 depending.) If you care about your food just as much as I do or starting to make the change, Mike and Mike’s Organics is on your side.

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Organic Select will now be marketed as Mike & Mike’s Organics. Here’s a sneak peek of their new and upcoming brand! Same quality taste only now in a new fresh seal packaging. Easy to open and favorable for any time of the day! You’ll see their latest collections at your local store very soon. 🙂 

I admit, I don’t always buy organic. It can definitely be a challenge at times especially when it comes to eating at restaurants, the limited selections at our stores and of course, the cost of organically grown food. But when I do, I choose companies like Mike & Mike’s to help me out and I buy certain products organic whenever I can like spinach, frozen berries and corn. 🙂 The hope is that when we do start buying more organic food, that prices will eventually decrease. But this is all up to us – the consumers. The choices we make today as consumers not only affect our health but have a profound impact on tomorrow’s future. The best way forward it is to expand our enquiring minds, continuously question the food we feed ourselves today, reclaim our health by simple ways like choosing organic and voting with our dollars.

Do you vote organic? 

Easiest Gluten Free Vegan Pancakes You’ll Ever Make

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Pancakes that are gluten free, sugar free, vegan and dairy free. Score!

My favourite breakfast food are pancakes. It’s just an excuse for me to start my day off with yummy carbs! 😉 I generally like making pancakes made with coconut flour like my previous recipe post because they’re lower in carbs and calories. It’s a lot more “fluffy” and “cakey” like. But I wanted some that were more like buttermilk pancakes and more dense. This new recipe is made with brown rice flour, which is gluten free of course! Use Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flour which you can get almost anywhere these days. ($3.99 at Loblaws.) I made the first batch this morning. I used a lot of coconut oil for frying so the outer layer came out crispier. Still delicious! Keeping my (natural) sugar intake low, I topped it with melted raspberries and unsweetened shredded coconut and served it with a side of berries. The other batch came out more fluffy (less oil) and topped it with pure almond butter. Win-win.

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1 and 1/2 cup of whole grain brown rice flour

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 and 1/4 cup of dairy free milk of choice (I use unsweetened almond)

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (I hear you can use pure lemon juice as well)

2 flax or chia egg (1 tbsp ground flax/chia seed + 3 tablespoons of water)

3 tsps of coconut oil (can omit if desired)

Additional add ons: organic cinnamon, cacao powder, berries, coconut shredding, coconut palm sugar, stevia, etc.

Whisk the milk and the apple cider vinegar together and let stand for a few minutes to create “buttermilk.” Then, mix the dry ingredients together in another bowl. Add the wet ingredients together and mix well. If the batter is lumpy, it’s better! Pour pancakes into a preheated, lightly greased (with coconut oil) skillet on medium heat. Flip pancakes when they start to bubble. Enjoy with fresh toppings of choice!

These make a lot of pancakes! Roughly 6. Make em big or as small as you like depending on how hungry you are. I’m always hungry. 

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Simply Bars on Table Mountain

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Simply Bars + Table Mountain = Match Made in Heaven! 

This is me on top of Table Mountain, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. It’s 1085 metres high. So you can imagine how hungry I was when my friends and I finally made it from our 1.5 hour hike! I am proudly holding my favourite snack: The Simply Bars by Wellness Foods. I brought about 2 dozen of these with me to Cape Town simply cause I don’t like to live without them. They’re a Canadian brand so they’re only available in select North American retail stores. However, you can order them worldwide on Vita Cost but shipping to South Africa can get pricey.

These protein bars are super delicious. I’d like to describe them as a tasty, healthy, crunch bar similar to the texture of a rice krispies square. They’re not like your usual gummy, thick whey protein bars as they’re made from non GMO soy crisps. Gluten free, low sugar (suitable for diabetics), no sugar alcohols, low GI, vegan, kosher, low carb, easy to digest and high in protein and fiber with the least amount of calories – I couldn’t find that in ANY protein bar. And believe me, I was on the hunt for days for a bar like this. All of their products are natural and made with 12 ingredients or less and they don’t use ingredients you can’t pronounce. Each bar contains about 16 grams of protein and more fiber than sugar. It’s a simple as that!

The bar I’m holding on Table Mountain is the Cinnamon Pecan flavour which is my absolute go to. They have a range of flavours like Peanut Butter & Chocolate, Coconut and Raspberry & Cocoa. (I love them all!) But like a lot of the health products out in the market, these bars can be on the more expensive scale compared to a crappy box of Nature Valley granola bars. And once you become dependent (or addicted) to these bars like me, it adds up. The bars retail individually from $1.99 CDN – $2.59 CDN. I always buy a box of them from my local health store in Toronto to save money. But I won’t complain since I get what I pay for! 😉

So forget your average Kellogs “only 90 calories” granola bars, the sugary Lara Bars or your steroid protein bars that taste like chocolate plastic you once thought was all good for you and simplify your life. Your tummy will thank you. 🙂

You can also check out this link on their website to see how their bars compare to the leading brand of protein bars: www.thesimplybar.com/compare

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