Farmed vs. Wild Seafood

seafoodwatch-consumer-guide

Many of us know the deal when it comes to industrial agriculture and feedlots.  We know of the crowded conditions under which animals are raised and the less than ideal inhumane conditions in which many are slaughtered.  But what about fish?  Water covers 71% of our Earth and oceans hold about 96.5% of Earth’s water, so surely there is enough fish in the sea to feed us, right?  Sadly, that is not the case.

Overfishing, lack of effective management and overconsumption have led to a decline in wild fish.  Due to demand, industrial-scale fishing began in the late 1800s.  Over the past century or so, this has led to significant declines in fish as natural fish stocks just can’t keep up.  As a result, aquaculture, or farm fishing, has become extremely popular as a way to keep up with demand and continue to provide cheap prices. 

Today, half of the seafood eaten in the U.S. is farmed.  Just like with cattle feedlots, confinement dairies and battery egg farms, fish feedlots have the same issues:  crowding, disease, parasites, pesticides, antibiotics, excess manure and environmental damage.  If a fish feedlot is located near a migration route (as in the case with salmon), parasites from the farm may infect and kill the wild fish.  Pesticides and antibiotics used to control disease and parasites can also leak into the environment, impacting local species and polluting our oceans and rivers.  Many fish also escape from feedlots each year, breeding with wild fish and reducing genetic diversity.

Let’s look at salmon for a sec.  Salmon is an extremely popular fish due to its health benefits, specifically omega-3 fats.  Wild salmon is naturally pink due to its diet of shrimp.  Feedlot salmon, however, is gray.  To give farmed salmon that pink color we crave, it is colored using a dye called canntaxanthin.  Farmed salmon has also been found to have less omega-3 per gram of fat than wild fish.  Wild salmon has about 10 grams of fat, 20% of which is omega-3, compared to 16 grams of fat, 17% of which is omega-3, in farmed salmon.

For many, the issues I have raised regarding seafood and feedlot animals are not an issue.  Maybe they choose to ignore it or the cheaper price and convenience win them over. I have chosen to take a different path.  Not to vegetarianism, but to “conscious omnivorism.” Yep, I think I just created a new word.  I know I cannot live without meat and though I eat many meals without it, meat is a regular part of my diet.  But I am very conscious about where my meat comes from.  I choose to purchase meat raised in the most traditional way possible (on pasture, grass-fed, or in the wild) and try to eat as local as possible.

For those who are interested in becoming conscious omnivores, Whole Foods has a great numbering system to their meat called Animal Welfare Standards, which is very helpful in choosing meat from animals raised in traditional, humane ways.  Go here for more info.  If you are interested in buying online, check out U.S Wellness Meats, whose mission is to “do what’s good for our animals, good for our planet and good for you.”  I don’t know about you, but sustainably raised meat delivered right to my doorstep sounds pretty awesome.

When purchasing seafood, I use a handy dandy guide produced by the Monterey Bay Aquarium specifically tailored to where I live or choose to travel.  The Seafood Watch recommends what items are “Best Choices” or “Good Alternatives,” and which ones you should “Avoid.”  To download and print your guide today, go here.  They even have a free app for download on your smartphone.  For salmon, Seafood Watch recommends buying varieties from Alaska with good alternatives being wild salmon from California, Oregon or Washington, while it is recommended you avoid Atlantic farmed salmon.  An online option for seafood is Vital Choice, where you can find wild seafood and other organic meats and have them delivered fresh and frozen to your doorstep.

Peace, love and “conscious omnivorism,”

The Yogi~Foodie

Advertisements

Farmers Markets and Tomatoes

Late May heralds the return of farmers markets to areas near and far.  I love a good farmers market and am fortunate enough to have three very close to me on three different days of the week.  If you have never been to one, I highly encourage you to find one near you (the website http://www.localharvest.org can help with that) and check it out.  Established markets typically have a little bit of everything, from meat to produce to honey and flowers.  You will probably find a bakery with fresh baked scones or muffins as well.

Not convinced that farmers markets are better than your supermarket?  Here are my top 5 benefits of farmers markets:

  1. Speak directly with your farmer – When you visit a stand at your local farmers market, you have the opportunity to talk directly with the farmer and workers who are growing your food or raising the animals who’s meat you are purchasing.  You can ask any questions you may have about their farming techniques, inquire about whether the farm uses any pesticides or fertilizers and how they butcher their animals.2015-05-23 09.34.56
  2. Smaller carbon footprint – When you buy locally, your food doesn’t need to travel as far to reach you, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint.  Some of the food we find in our local grocery markets comes from places completely across the globe and a lot of energy is spent shipping those goods.  The cost of shipping is passed to the consumer in the price of the product and is also passed onto Mother Earth in the form of pollution.
  3. Food is fresh – As I mentioned in #2 above, food at your local farmers market does not travel very far to come to you.  As it comes straight from the farm, it is picked right before travel to market when the food is at its peak of ripeness.  Produce picked at just the right time tastes much better than produce that was picked prior to becoming ripe and has been out of the ground for the better part of a week.  Don’t believe me?  Try a blind taste test with strawberries, which are in season now through the end of June. 
  4. Food is more nutritious – Most produce in your grocery market is picked prior to ripening and typically ripens while in transit.  Produce picked at just the right time is much more nutritious than produce picked early.  There is also a significant difference between pasture-raised meat fed a traditional diet versus meat from animals raised in factories on industrial farms.  For example, beef from cows raised on pasture eating natural grasses (the food cows have eaten for centuries) has higher amounts of alpha-lipoic acid (essential for metabolism, lowers blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity), contains CLA (an omega-6 fat that fights cancer and builds lean muscle tissue), has higher amounts of omega-3 fats (prevent obesity, diabetes and heart disease), contains stearic acid (a saturated fat that lowers LDL cholesterol), and has vitamins E and A.
  5. Support local businesses – Shopping at your local farmers market will also provide you with the opportunity to give back to your community and support local small businesses.  Currently, approximately 10 large companies control 90% of our food supply.

Open-faced Toasted Tomato Sandwich

Tomatoes are one of the produce stars of the summer.  To me, it is hard to beat a fresh, local tomato just off the vine.  They are bursting with flavor and contain lycopene, an antioxidant that has been found to help prevent diabetes, age-related muscular degeneration and cataracts, aging of the skin, and osteoporosis.  Tomatoes can be eaten in so many different ways – sliced on a sandwich or burger, chopped and put into a salad, eaten raw like an apple, or layered with fresh mozzarella for a Caprese salad, to name a few.  My current favorite is open-faced toasted tomato sandwiches.  Though tomatoes won’t be at their absolute best for a few more weeks, I can’t help myself. 🙂

2015-05-24 10.21.15

Makes 1 sandwich (vegetarian and vegan)

  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 2 slices whole grain bread (my current favorite is Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted 100% Whole Grain Bread)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Sea salt, to taste

Toast bread in toaster oven and spread with coconut oil (about 1 tbsp per slice, load it up!).  Let sit for 30 or so seconds so that oil can melt and seep into the bread.  Lay sliced tomato on top and sprinkle with sea salt.  Enjoy!!

Peace, love and farmers markets,

The Yogi~Foodie

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

I love a good vegetable salad.  They are super easy to whip up, are healthy and the varieties are endless.  Salads are also a great way to bring every color of the rainbow to your plate.  Raw vegetables have a cooling effect to the body, which is why we tend to crave them and other cooling foods such as smoothies during warmer spring and summer months.  As a result, I load up on my raw veggie salads during these seasons and get my fill.  In contrast, during the late fall and winter, when my body craves warming foods, I eat more soups, stews and cooked vegetables.

Spring and summer bring in a bounty of delicious, healthy, in-season produce.  In the spring we have avocados, carrots, grapefruit, lemons, arugula, asparagus, beets, spring onions, lettuce, parsley, peas, spinach, radishes, and swiss chard.  The summer months bring the berries, peaches, tomatoes, watermelon, apples, avocado, asparagus, basil, beets, broccoli, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, radishes, spinach, summer squash and zucchini.  I don’t know about you, but this list makes my mouth water.  For a more extensive list of what produce is in season throughout the year, go here.  Eating in-season means the produce is usually fresh, local and more nutritious.  And typically less expensive too!

This salad is a not traditional lettuce-based salad, though it would probably be pretty yummy added on top of spinach, lettuce or kale, if that’s what you’re in the mood for.  It is simple, delicious, only takes about 15 minutes to prepare with only a little bit of chopping and minimal clean up involved.  I am all about recipes that don’t take time and that you can make in large batches!  This salad can be used as a dip with tortilla chips and as a side at a picnic or social gathering.

The base is quinoa, an ancient grain that hails from Peru and Bolivia.  As I recently mentioned in my Quinoa Breakfast Porridge recipe (located here), quinoa is a complete protein.  This means that it contains all 8 amino acids essential to our health that our bodies cannot produce.  It is gluten free and has the highest nutrient profile of all whole grains.  Quinoa only takes about 20-25 minutes to cook and all you need to do is follow the instructions provided on the package.

The recipe below makes approximately 5 servings and is vegetarian and vegan.

2015-05-10 13.17.30

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed (run under warm water in a strainer to thaw)
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (red, orange or yellow)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 avocado (to add on top when serving)

Add quinoa, black beans, corn, onion, bell pepper and cilantro to a bowl.  Mix together well.  Add lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper, mixing again to coat contents thoroughly.  Place in fridge for 30 minutes prior to serving.  When serving, slice avocado and place on top.

2015-05-10 16.13.25

Enjoy!  More yummy spring and summer salads coming soon 🙂

Peace, love and healthy food,

The Yogi~Foodie

Having a Little Faith

Has something happened in your life recently that has tested your faith or made you doubt a core feeling or belief that you have?

I’m right there with you.  It happens to the best of us.

Faith can have a different meaning for each and every one of us.  To some, faith is a formal religion.  To others it is just a steadfast belief that the Universe is guiding our lives in the direction it is meant to go.  To others it is something else entirely.  We all have faith in our lives, even if it is just faith that you will get through the day on your own two feet.

I had a completely different blog post in mind for this week but something happened to me recently that shook my faith and took me some time to recover.  I do not consider myself a particularly religious person in the conventional sense of the word, but I do believe that we are all put here on this Earth for a specific reason and that discovering the truth behind this reason and living this truth will bring us a life that is fulfilling to both the mind and spirit. 

I believe that I have finally discovered that truth, or a version of it.  It took me about 30 years but better late than never right?  I believe that I am here to help people achieve their goals and dreams and to be the healthiest and happiest people that they can be.  I’m here to help you discover your truth.  My path to this somewhat recent revelation was not easy and I struggle daily with how I am going to develop this passion into a full time endeavor while working 50+ hours a week as an accountant, but I have faith that it will all work out in the end.

My beloved five year-old pup Tucker has had a hereditary heart condition his entire life and a few days ago we learned that it is progressing towards congenital heart failure.  As a mother (furry babies count in my book) my thoughts immediately went to the worst case scenario and I felt my throat constrict and my heart tighten.  Then my heart slowly cracked, just a tiny bit.  I have been mending it ever since through yoga, taking a mental health day off of work and writing.

Tucker has brought so much joy and love into my world.  In fact, he has taught me the meaning of true, unconditional love and what it is like to take care of another living being.  We have been through so much together.  He went with me when I moved to California and was my steadfast companion for two years while I was lonely and sick and missing my family.  He is there for me every day when I get home after working 10 hours and somedays even longer than that.  He is always willing to give kisses and love no matter how long I leave him alone.

2015-05-08 21.48.33

While the outcome of his genetic condition is known (heart failure), the timing of when this will occur is not.  So while I may have been dealt a blow in the cards of life, I need to have a little faith that it will all turn out okay.  Draw on what I have learned through discovering my passion and place in this world.  Tucker is part of my path in life and always will be, no matter how long he may live (and may he live many, many more years).  Be thankful for all of the days and walks we have shared and not take advantage of any further second I have with him.  Shower him with all the love my heart can give.

I also need to honor the sadness that I feel.  Too often we push aside uncomfortable emotions because they are too difficult to deal with or bring up stuff from our past we would rather keep there.  But these moments of difficulty and heartache are where we learn the most about ourselves.  The highs in life wouldn’t mean much without the lows.

So today I am sad and that’s okay.  But tomorrow I will be stronger and better for it.  I will live my life with even more meaning because there is something additional to live for.  To love for.  It will all be okay, I believe that.  Trust the process, trust the path of life.  Live my truth and love my pup.

I read recently that spirituality is “the deeply held belief that we are inextricably connected to one another by a force greater than ourselves – a force grounded in love and compassion” (from Daring Greatly by Brene Brown).  In my eyes, this could not be more true.  Letting that force guide our lives in the direction they are meant to go is faith.  And at the end of the day, love conquers all.

If something has tested your faith recently take a moment to think about it.  Really process it.  Though it may be tough, try to see the positive in this event or circumstance.  How will this make you a better person?  How can you learn from it and move on and become stronger?   How can you let in and give love, in spite of how you feel? Maybe this will help lead you to your truth.  You never know.  Just have a little faith.

Peace, love and faith,

The Yogi~Foodie

Spicy Curry Sweet Potatoes

I have a slight obsession with sweet potatoes.  Maybe obsession is too strong of a word, but I really dig them and eat them all the time.  I’ve determined that, since sugar isn’t a regular part of my diet, the sweetness of sweet potatoes kinda fills the void.  So right about now you’re probably thinking “she thinks sweet potatoes are a good substitute for sugar?  Is she crazy?” My younger self would laugh and agree with you.  But I’ve learned that when it comes to diet, 1. what your body needs is completely unique to you and 2. when you eat in complete harmony with what you body wants, you don’t have the crazy cravings for sugar or salt or [insert your common craving here].  Your body is in balance or, as I like to call it, Wholesome Balanced Wellness. 🙂

I’ve experimented a lot with cooking sweet potatoes and the most delicious by far is roasting them in the oven.  But they can also be pureed, steamed, baked or grilled.  These days I am all about the spicy and this recipe packs a delicious punch.  If you like spicy with a hint of curry, this puppy is for you.  If spicy isn’t your thing, cut the measurements for the spices in half.  Simple as that!  I almost never follow a recipe completely as it is written.  Experiment and find a variation that works best for you.

IMG_1954

Sweet potatoes are reasonably priced and have a lot of healthy benefits.  If you are a potato lover, this may be a good alternative for you.  Regular potatoes are also part of the dirty dozen, so it is encouraged that consumers buy organic.  Sweet potatoes are not, so I buy conventional ones to save a little at my local market.

Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin B6 and carotenoids such as beta carotene (antioxidants that help ward off cancer), are a good source of vitamin C and D, iron, magnesium and potassium, and their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream.  This helps to ensure a balanced, regular source of energy with no blood sugar spikes that are common with our processed food today that lead to fatigue and weight gain.  Basically, sweet potatoes rock.

Spicy Curry Sweet Potatoes

Makes 4-5 servings

  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp each of turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika and curry powder

IMG_1953

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Rinse sweet potatoes thoroughly and chop into 1 to 1.5 inch cubes.  Leave the skin on (it is healthy and adds to the overall deliciousness!).  Toss in a bowl with olive oil, garlic and spices.  Spread on a roasting pan and cook for 30-40 minutes, depending on desired amount of crispiness.  I love my sweet potatoes crispy and crunchy, so I usually roast them for the entire 40 minutes.  But every oven is different and I’d hate for you to burn them (blasphemy!), so I recommend checking after 30 minutes to see how they look.

IMG_1964

Spicy curry sweet potatoes tossed with other veggies, olives, sausage and eggs for a delicious breakfast

Enjoy and stay tuned for more sweet potato recipe awesomeness!

Peace, love and sweet potatoes,

The Yogi~Foodie

10 Simple Ways to Spring Clean Your Living Space

As I mentioned in my recent post on Celebrating Spring, the change in seasons from cold to warm is a perfect time for a good, thorough cleaning.  It helps to wash away the cobwebs and dust that may have gathered over the winter and, energetically, it helps us to open up and embrace the change of season and new possibilities that it may bring.  Below are my top 10 spring cleaning tips, so turn up your favorite tunes and have a little cleaning party.  It is always a bit easier if we make it a little fun.  🙂

Living Space

Breathe_15ml1.  Fresh Air:  The air gets stagnant in our homes and apartments during the winter.  Spring is the ideal time to open the windows to let in some fresh air before it gets too hot and humid outside and we are forced to turn on the air conditioning.  Opening the windows may be tough for those of you who suffer from seasonal allergies.  A natural way to help combat this issue is essential oils, such as doTERRA’s respiratory blend Breathe.  For more information on Breathe and how it may help you, go here.

2.  Get Some Green:  Plants are great to have in your home.  Not only do they serve as a decoration, but they also help refresh the air by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.  A few plants that are known to be the top natural air purifiers are spider plants, Boston fern, palm trees, English ivy, peace lily, and golden pathos.  Don’t worry if yo2015-04-24 19.20.53u don’t have a green thumb, many of these plants are pretty tough to kill as long as you wanter them once a week or so.  Google these guys to see what they look like and hit up your local nursery for some greenery!

3.  Air Filters:  Do you remember the last time you checked your air filters?  Changing your air filters regularly is important for your health and can also help you save money in energy bills.  Filters in your home usually should be replaced every 1 to 3 months, but check the product information on your filters for the manufacturer’s suggested frequency of change.

4.  Fresh Flowers:  Nothing can liven up a living space and boost your energy like fresh flowers.  A bouquet never fails to make me smile.  Treat yourself today and get an arrangement for your table or counter.  It doesn’t have the break the bank!  My favorite flowers that I like to keep around are daisies, tulips and sunflowers.

OnGuard_15ml5.  Surfaces:  A good way to clear away the grit and grime of winter is to wipe down your surfaces.  Counters, windowsills, book shelves, TV stands, dressers, mirrors and windows.  So grab that wood polish and window cleaner and go for it!  For my counters, I love to use essential oils with water to clean, specifically doTERRA’s On Guard protective blend.  This is especially important for my kitchen counters where I prepare my food. I avoid any products that aren’t pure, natural or good for the body.  A few drops on a wet cloth will do the trick.  For more information about On Guard and how you can use it, go here.

Kitchen

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, yet it is probably one part of my house that I clean the least apart from wiping down my counters, stovetop and sink.

6.  Oven:  When was the last time you cleaned your oven?  Most ovens these days are self-cleaning, so switch on the clean setting and let it go.  The entire process takes about 3-4 hours.  It will get hot in your kitchen and may smell a little so if you can, open a window or turn on a fan.

7.  Pantry:  An organized pantry makes cooking easier and faster.  Plus, you are more likely to use everything you buy.  How does your pantry look these days?  Is it disheveled or nice and tidy?  I am the type who likes things organized and in their place, but I know not everyone works that way.  Find a system that works for you.  Take everything out and wipe down the shelves.  Go through your items and toss anything that is no longer good (maybe that old, opened box of crackers?).  Re-organize and put your items back into the pantry.  I love to use mason jars for storage of bulk items.  Glass jars also help to keep grains from going bad.

8.  Refrigerator:  I love to clean but this is one that I avoid like the plague.  I’m sure you probably agree with me!  I don’t keep much more than a week’s worth of food in my fridge, plus a few condiments, but many families have fridges that are chock full of things.  What does your fridge look like?  Do you have something moldy lurking in the way back that you forgot about or condiments that are way past their expiration date?  I’m vowing to give my fridge a thorough cleaning sometime over the next few weeks.

Bedroom

9.  Closets and Dressers:  We tend to hold onto clothes from our past, even if it is something we haven’t worn in years.  Maybe it has sentimental value or we secretly want to be able to fit into it again someday (I have a pair of jeans like this).  The best way to completely and thoroughly review your clothes is to take everything out of your closets and dressers and go through it piece by piece.  Put things in Keep, Donate or Sell piles.  As you go through each item, be honest with yourself.  Does this item still serve you?  Don’t let your brain take over, go with your gut.  Are you making excuses for why you should keep it?  That’s normally a sign that it’s got to go.

10.  Bedding:  I love the feel of clean sheets and make a point to wash them weekly.  But how often do you wash or switch out your bedspread?  I celebrate spring by changing out my duvet cover from a dark wintry color to a lighter spring color.

Peace, love and happy cleaning!

The Yogi~Foodie