healthy food lifestyle :: 1

I have talked a little bit here and there about my desire to eat clean, healthy food. The recipes I post typically reflect those preferences as well. However, over the coming weeks, I am going to share in detail, my philosophy on food as well as the "whys" behind my choices and the practicalities of the way I choose to eat.

I have a passion for healthy, delicious food. Over the past six of years, I have modified the way I eat and I have come to live what I call a “healthy food lifestyle”. I call my outlook on food a lifestyle, because what we eat effects every other aspect of our well-being and all aspects of our lives. After slowly educating myself over time,  I know that many things we are told are “healthy”, are, in fact, NOT! Furthermore, in terms of "getting in shape" or losing weight etc., I know that no gimmick diet is the answer.

There is nothing new, magical, or radical about my healthy living lifestyle; my approach simply focuses on basic, healthy foods and making eating healthy a habit, and a preferred habit at that. There was a time when I felt like I wanted to eat healthy, but it seemed too difficult and I wished it were easy. Then, at some point {or maybe at some level of education}, I rounded a corner, it was a turning point for me, and I realized it was easier. Now I am to a point where healthy, clean foods are what sound good; junk foods do not.

A quick note about the lingo I use… I like to call the food I eat fresh, clean, healthy, and whole because, well, it is. And, you will often hear me refer to foods that are unhealthy as bad, junk, damaging, and wasteful because that is what I feel that unhealthy foods are. Unhealthy food is a waste of your money, time, and health. No quick-fix, fast-junk food is worth any amount of money … any savings you think you get from purchasing this cheap (and sometimes not cheap) crap food, is actually lost on medical bills, healthcare costs, and non-monetarily, the loss of your health.

Some of the foods you'll meet over the course of my healthy food lifestyle posts might be new to you; many were new to me at one point. Other foods you meet you may have preconceived notions about, but please bear with me. Keep an open mind, read the facts. Some of the information I present my surprise you; it may even go against what you have been told is healthy {what?! cow's milk is bad!?}.

Over the course of sharing my healthy food lifestyle with you, I will also share my favorite healthy recipes; these are recipes that are  in regular rotation at my house and I chose them, not only because they are in-line with my healthy food lifestyle, but also because they are fairly simple and quick, as well as delicious. This is a good time to mention: there is a major misconception about healthy foods. It is a MYTH that healthy foods have no flavor and/or don't taste good. Throughout these posts you will see me mention specific brands that I like and find to be top-quality.

After I cover all the information on the food portion of my healthy food lifestyle, I will get in to some information about exercise, fitness, and wellness. My belief, with very, very few exceptions is that everyone can be active; and I mean this in a relative way. Not everyone can or should be a marathon runner, but everyone can and should incorporate fitness movement into their lives somehow. The key to starting to get active is to start small. For many people the thought of exercising sounds like torture or sounds intimidating. Well, my suggestion, is to start small. Starting small, you won't overwhelm yourself and you'll quickly find out that your outlook on exercise will slowly change.


Food for thought: sometimes my viewpoint on what is healthy or best will conflict with what we have all been taught about what’s “healthy." I urge you to confront those disparities head-on, check my research and then also consider that the people who decide what’s healthy for us (the FDA, large food companies, large restaurant companies) have other motivations and conflicts of interest. 

Eating Whole

Experts agree, the foods our bodies need to be at their healthiest are all simple and good for us straight from the soil – unprocessed grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. These foods contain the proper balance of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients our bodies need, without any of the junk our bodies don’t need. Through processing, refining, bleaching, coloring, waxing, our food is robbed of those nutrients and turns into something inconsequential, or worse harmful, to our bodies. Unnatural substances are added to further degrade the nutrients, chemical flavors, refined sugar, preservatives, etc. So with all this stripping food of its natural goodness and adding chemicals, is it any wonder why obesity, heart disease, cancer, and auto-immune diseases run rampant in this age of modern food, science, and medicine?

I believe getting back to eating what nature gave us, and not messing with it, is the key. Excuses are easy and we have all used them: eating healthy is too time-consuming, stressful, expensive, not-as-delicious, not filling (“I can’t live on greens, nuts and seeds!”), or fill in your favorite excuse here. We are accustomed to eating fake, processed foods and it has become a habit; the familiar is comfortable, even when it isn’t truly the best way to live. I believe the common excuses are just society-imposed and/or self-imposed barriers to being healthier, feeling better, tasting better, and living a better life.

 If you don’t eat whole, how can your body be whole (healthy)?

The Optimal Diet 

I will explain lots of the items in this Optimal Diet in detail as we progress, but for now let’s take a look at what makes up the healthy food lifestyle. Basically, if you don’t read beyond the next section, but you ate what is on this page, you would be living the healthy food lifestyle.

Fresh, clean, local, organic food is ALWAYS the best choice. 

Your healthy food lifestyle should be dominated by the following foods, in other words, you should maximize your intake of these foods proportionally to other foods.

 • High water content veggies and salads: lettuce, celery, green beans, spring greens, etc.
• Dark leafy greens: kale, collards, spinach, red romaine, Swiss chard, etc.
• Brassica family of veggies: cabbage, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.
• Yellow, red and orange veggies: carrots, onions, beets, yams, squash, etc.
• Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, etc.
• Raw nuts and seeds: especially almonds, walnuts, flax, pumpkin seeds
• Whole grains: quinoa, barley, spelt, kamut, rye, oats, brown rice, etc.
• Water

Other foods that should be included in your healthy food lifestyle, just to a lesser extent than the above, are:
 • Fruits: apples, berries, cherries, melons, pears, pineapples, grapefruit, peaches, etc.
• Flaxseed oil (Udo’s Choice) or Hempseed Oil
 • Olive oil (extra virgin; first cold pressed!)
• Wild fish: salmon, sea bass, halibut, trout, grouper, etc.
• Herbal tea and green tea
• Organic natural live culture yogurt or kefir (plain is best, Greek gives you a boost of protein)
• Butter or Ghee (organic always)
• Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg’s is great), balsamic vinegar
• Eggs (boiled, poached, baked, fried in minimal olive oil)
• Nightshade family: tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers

 You should eliminate the following from your diet or eat them very sparingly:
 • White flour pasta
• Cow’s dairy: milk, cheese, etc.
• Dried fruits (because of sulfite and sugar content)

For optimal healthy food lifestyle, avoid, pretty much at all costs:
 • Hydrogenated oils and margarine
• Alcohol, beer, wine, and soda
• Large amounts of caffeine
• Cream and ice cream
• Processed meats, “cold cuts”, lunch meats
• Sugar and artificial sweeteners

Top Nutrient Dense Foods

With that Optimal Diet in mind, here is a list of some of the top nutrient dense foods you should be eating. Some are repeats from above, but I have also included a little more information about why these foods are good for you.

 • Garlic: anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-fungal properties, aides in digestion because it is a natural probiotic, helps to lower blood pressure
• Lemon/Lime: has an alkaline effect on the body, cleanses the liver, it is great to put lemon in your water (hydration + benefits of the lemon)
• Raw Walnuts: high in protein and essential fatty acids, decreases cholesterol and inflammation, helps with brain function
• Sea vegetables: high in antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and mineral, amino acids, and enzymes
• Cinnamon: high in phytochemicals, Calcium and B vitamins, has anti-fungal properties, and aides in digestion
• Onion: anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-fungal properties, helps clear waste from cells, natural probiotic
• Beans & Lentils: high in protein and fiber
• Wild Salmon: great source of Omega-3s, decreases inflammation, high in protein
• Coconut Oil: contains essential fatty acids, high in lauric acid, healing properties, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial properties, high in vitamin E and minerals
• Quinoa: high in protein, fiber, vitamin B and E, Calcium and Iron, prevents muscle and bone loss, low on the glycemic index, easy to digest
• Spinach: alkaine, high in vitamin A, Calcium, Iron, enzymes, and amino acids, prevents muscle and bone loss, anti-cancer and anti-heart disease properties
• Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries (always organic): high in phytonutrients and antioxidants, anti-cancer and anti-heart disease properties, restore liver
• Seeds (flax, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame): high in essential fatty acids, fiber, and protein, decrease cholesterol, triglycerides and inflammation
• Avocado: high in essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil (first cold pressed): high in essential fatty acids, anti-cancer and anti-heart disease properties
• Whole grains (oat, millet, amaranth, spelt, kamut, barely): high in fiver, vitamin B, E, Magnesium, Selenium, and Zinc, low on the glycemic index, help to stabilize blood sugar
• Pomegranate: high in antioxidants, protects brain and memory, decreases the risk for atherosclerosis
• Raw Almonds (including almond butter and almond milk): high in protein, vitamin E, Zinc, Potassium, Magnesium, and fiber, contain essential fatty acids
• Grapefruit & Oranges: high in antioxidants and vitamin C, anti-cancer, and anti-heart disease
• Green tea: high in antioxidants, vitamin C, flavonoids, increase immune system function, anti-cancer, anti-heart disease, improves blood sugar
• Eggs: high in protein, has good fats, high in Vitmains A and D
• Red Grapes (always organic): high in phytochemicals, anti-cancer, anti-heart disease, anti-inflammatory
• Green Drinks (chlorophyll): high in minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids, helps build blood and increase the oxygen carrying capacity of blood
• Organic grass-fed beef and organic poultry: high in protein, vitamin B12, and Zinc

Favorite Recipe No. 1

Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon 
{photo courtesy of the Kitchn}

Next Week: Organic Foods ... why organic? + Water

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