From the age of 16, film has been a major catalyst in my life for inspiring good health and wellness. I remember watching Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me documentary for the first time and my body going into shock from all of the knowledge I had acquired that evening. It wasn’t often that I came across a thought provoking movie that shifted me to rethink my food habits and question the lifestyle I was accustomed to from childbirth. After that evening, the notion of McDonalds was never going to be the same for me. Consuming meat would not be in the picture either.
From there, I made it a process to actively educate myself more through my love of research, books and of course, documentaries. Even though the wealth of information I was learning along the way practically traumatized me, consciously choosing a vegan lifestyle was the greatest decision I had ever made for myself and my soul. And it all started with simply changing my diet. And then slowly but surely, I began to develop and propagate morals for animal rights, environmental issues and human activism. And my decision to go vegan was not based on just one thing anymore – it grew to a foundation of all connecting principals that seemingly came together.
Over the past few years, the number of food and health documentaries has tremendously blown up. You now have easy access to watching a myriad of topics too – from food politics to nutrition theory shifts to diet stories. These documentaries have an effective medium to cultivate ideologies and bring awareness in a powerful way to society with the compelling magic of storytelling.
It all starts with awareness, right? So whether you’re looking for a little inspiration to clean up your lifestyle or want to discover more about the food industry and its global effects, watching these 8 food documentaries is a great way to start! All from the perspective of wellness/health, the environment and human ethics.
FORKS OVER KNIVES
HUNGRY FOR CHANGE
Organic is something that almost everyone has an opinion on these days.Eating organic isn’t a new trendy movement. In fact, it is a much older concept as your parents and grandparents probably ate more organic food before. And while everyone may not agree with me about the benefits and necessity to choose organic produce whenever possible, I know that sustaining a healthy lifestyle is something that we ALL can agree on! I’m sure if organic food was more affordable to consumers, there wouldn’t be much debate on the topic. Cause let’s face it, with today’s demand in food transparency, nobody wants to ingest pesticides, chemicals and harmful GMOs.
Essentially, nobody wants to eat crap!
Unfortunately, our governing food system makes it challenging for a lot of folks to conserve an entirely organic healthy diet without completely emptying out our wallets. It’s no surprise that organic food comes with a hefty price tag! It definitely all adds up at the end of the day which can be discouraging and off putting especially to someone who’s on a conscious budget. This is when it pays to attend your local markets on the weekends, perhaps subscribe to organic box delivering services like Mama Earth, or even select and budget which particular foods you buy organic to help save some dollars. If you can lower your exposure to pesticides and chemicals, why not?
Here are my suggested top 5 everyday foods that are worth buying organic (and if you can, local!):
If you eat an apple a day, opting for organic apples should be your first swap. Conventional apples has been ranked as the top fruit contaminated with the most pesticides and GMOs at your grocery store. The peel of the apple is 100% covered with herbicides and accumulated pesticides and you definitely don’t want to be eating that!
2) Leafy Greens
Eat your greens! But make sure you have the good kind. Conventional kale, collard greens, lettuce and especially spinach have been heavily sprayed with scary high levels of pesticides. Pesticides that even a little bit ingested can be an interference to your hormones thus can lead to many illnesses in the future. Do you really want to be eating food that contain obscene amount of chemicals which crop workers wear masks to prevent inhaling? Heck no! So if you’re an avid leafy monster like moi, this is #1 on your food list.
Sorry conventional berry lovers. But the berries you’re eating probably contain more than 10 types of those pesky insecticides. Yikes! Also, ever wonder why conventional strawberries at the store are the size of golf balls these days? You can credit GMOs for that. Organic berries are much smaller, juicier and healthier! Your best bet is to buy them local and in season too. Your smoothies will thank you.
Most corn in the world is genetically modified and engineered. Sad but true. Whether you’re skeptical or not about GMOs, there’s really no reason you should be eating crops that potentially have the DNA and genetics of another species. Corn has been tampered in labs for many years in labs and that should be logic enough for us to avoid it. Or just buy locally harvested organic corn products. I won’t make you give up popcorn or corn tacos. 🙂
5) Bell Peppers
Approx 68% of conventional bell peppers sampled and tested came back positive for pesticide contamination. They are considered one of the most pesticide laden vegetables available today. And bell peppers is a staple in a healthy eater’s pantry. They’re packed with vitamins C and A, so choosing organic peppers allows you to reap all of its nutrients without the added toxins.
Choosing organic/local is great for both your personal health and the health of our planet. After all, Mahatma Ghandi said that ultimately our health is wealth!
I’m crazy for kale! Who isn’t these days?
Kale is taking the food world by storm and almost everyone is using this hearty, healthy green in various things like salads, juices, stews and smoothies!
It’s a nutritional powerhouse and beneficial to your health in many, many ways. If vitamins can be packed and labeled, they’d very much look like kale. From a range of vitamins and nutrients such as C, B, A, iron and even protein, the benefits offered by just one cup of this relatively infamous veggie can trump a lot of other foods combined. Anti-inflammatory, packed with anti oxidants, immune building and impressively fiber and iron rich, this fighting disease leaf is a force to be reckoned with.
Kale is one of the best vegetables for your health that you should happily have everyday. But let’s face it, raw kale isn’t as easy to consume directly like spinach. Sometimes known as “crazy lettuce”, this tough leafy green needs to be tamed in order to fully enjoy its deliciousness.
In this delectable salad, the key is to massage your fibrous kale for a few minutes and let it sit marinated in lemon juice. This simple rubdown step can deliciously transform this green from being bitter and strong to becoming silky and smooth. Pair it with a kick butt lemon tahini dressing and you’ll have one heck of a nutritional and healthy dish that’ll have you forgetting about those Caesar salad days.
Massaged kale, raw
Rinsed and soaked organic chickpeas
Diced cucumbers, raw
Diced bell peppers, raw
Chopped broccoli florets
Finely minced red onions
** 1 small pouch of Natera natural hemp seeds
LEMON TAHINI DRESSING:
1 lemon, juiced (about 2-3 tbsp)
5 tbsp of organic tahini (also known as sesame paste)
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1 tbsp of organic raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of water (add less or more depending on desired consistency)
Optional: 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Add dressing ingredients in a Magic Bullet or blender and mix thoroughly. Pulse well.
Toss with salad ingredients. Combine well until there is not a naked kale leaf left! Sprinkle hemp seeds/hearts and devour.
My healthy Protein Fudge Bar recipe and my advertisement for Absolute Organix/Lifematrix featured in this month’s issue of Wellness Magazine by South Africa’s favourite health chain store, Wellness Warehouse.
You can also find the recipe on the website: www.wellnesswarehouse.com/articles/protein-fudge-bar
So what’s the deal with maca powder, anyway?
I first heard about maca powder when I was modeling abroad in Cape Town earlier this year. While at Wellness Warehouse, a favored health chain store in South Africa, looking for some carob powder (yum!), I came across a pack of maca powder and was intrigued by it especially since I’d never heard of it back in Canada. The package read: Maca, an ancient Peruvian superfood, is a powdered root herb grown for centuries at high altitudes in the nutrient dense soil of the Andes. According to legend, Inca warriors ate Maca before going into battle to give them strength and endurance.
Wow! I had to get it now. South Americans produce some of the world’s greatest power foods, all of which I routinely eat, like chia seeds, quinoa, cacao beans, acai and now…maca was another to add to my list.
One of the lovely ladies that worked there suggested that, like spirulina and cacao, you were able to add them to smoothies and snacks for an extra punch of energy. So being the curious health cat that I am, I bought it then rushed home to further research its roots and benefits.
As soon as I got home, I opened the bag and found it had a bitter, nutty and malty smell and taste. Kind of like cacao (?) but way earthier. Too be honest, it made me a little nauseous. 🙁 In my opinion, you need to dilute the taste of maca in order to enjoy and benefit from it! It’s not a edible flavor on its own.
After an hour of researching, I gathered some astounding nutritional health benefits and facts:
- Maca has gained a reputation for helping balance and manage hormones, especially in women. It helps to relieve menstrual issues like cramps, body pains, anxiety, mood swings, PMS and depression. It does not contain any hormones but rather the nutrients that it contains support and regulate normal hormone production and due to an abundance of environmental estrogens, most people have hormones that are a bit out of whack.
- Maca is also known for increasing stamina enhancement and energy levels. Very recommended for those with adrenal fatigue as it nourishes and reduces stress hormones.
- Maca is naturally high in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, zinc, iron, and magnesium. It provides plenty of vitamin B, C and up to 20 essential fatty acids, fiber, lipids and amino acids. All which your body needs!
- Maca is has also been suggested as “nature’s Viagra” because it’s been shown to be beneficial as a fertility enhancer and helps to improve libido and sexual functions, especially in men!
- Maca is great for general health but it’s highly advised that pregnant women, those with liver issues or high blood pressure and persons with cancer related to hormones like testicular and ovarian, should consult a professional before adding it to the diet. There are no serious side effects, but like any new (natural) supplement, it should not be taken in large amounts.
When you first start using maca, it’s best to begin by taking smaller amounts and building up to an average daily dose. 1/2 a teaspoon was a good place to start for me. I ‘snuck’ it in my garden green smoothie and could barely taste it. Some nights, I’d have it in a warm matcha green tea for an extra boost. After a week or so, I gradually increased my daily amount to 1 tablespoon and anymore than that, just made my smoothies bitter. Like I mentioned earlier, not a fan of the taste but worth it in order to reap the benefits! Maybe I should look into finding maca capsules to avoid the taste? It does taste odd but it gets tolerable…hopefully!
Maca is also enjoyable and easy to incorporate in healthy raw energy goods! And because I care for you, I made two snack options using maca powder so you’re able to choose how you want to enjoy this Peruvian power root. Both recipes are easy to make and don’t require the use of the oven so that you’re able to acquire the full benefits of the maca powder. Of course, I have to mention that these healthy goodies are gluten/wheat free, grain free, sugar free, preservative free and vegan! They’re both filled with rich healthy fats (the good ones!) that will keep you satisfied and energized after just eating a few and you won’t feel the need to overindulge.
Stay healthy, my friends! x
Raw Maca Fudge
1 cup of organic virgin coconut oil, melted
3-4 tbsp of raw cacao or unsweetened carob powder
1 tsp of vanilla bean flavoring or vanilla extract (non alcohol)
1 tsp of raw organic Maca powder
1 tsp of organic chia seeds
Sweetener: packet of stevia or stevia drops (adjust to sweet tooth)
Optional: 1/3 cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Make sure the coconut oil is melted before combining. Line small baking sheet or container with parchment paper and pour mixture into the dish. Add additional cacao or carob powder over the top for sprinkling; this is optional! Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour or until nicely solid. Slice then serve. Store in the fridge until eating and use within 5-7 days.
They kinda remind me of Timbits. Only much healthier of course! 😉
TIP: Ever wanted to know what to do with your leftover almond pulp after making homemade almond milk? It’s pretty much almond flour except it’s not as finely grounded like almond flour products. But for these balls, you don’t need ’em to be.
No Bake Maca Almond Pulp Balls
1 cup of homemade almond pulp (or almond meal/flour)
1 tbsp of raw organic Maca powder
1/4 cup of unsweetened carob powder or raw cacao (you can add a tsp or so more if you want it a little more chocolate-y!)
1 tsp of vanilla flavoring or vanilla bean pod extract
2 tsp of homemade unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tbsp of organic pure almond butter (peanut butter or sunflower seed butter works too)
2 tbsp of organic virgin coconut oil (coconut butter works too or more almond butter!)
1 tbsp of vegan protein powder (hemp or sprouted brown rice)
Stevia packets or stevia drops to sweeten
1/2 cup of shredded coconut and/or hemp hearts for coating
Combine all of the ingredients a large bowl, expect for the shredded coconut and hemp hearts. Mix well. Use your hands to mold into little balls. Cover in coconut and/or hemp hearts. Refrigerate until firm. Pop balls and enjoy!