I often get asked about the food choices I make when I go to the grocery store, so I thought that I would share the 5 rules of thumb I follow when shopping at my local supermarket:
1) Stay on the perimeter of the supermarket.
That’s where all the freshest ingredients are – the fruit and vegetables, meat and fish. Anything on the inside aisles has been processed and may contain artificial ingredients or preservatives. If venturing into the center aisles, try to purchase products that don’t have an extensive ingredient list. In general, I like to follow the 80/20 rule – 80% fresh and 20% packaged foods.
2) Choose local before organic.
I prefer to choose local ingredients over organic ones, simply because I like to support the small, local farms. I feel better supporting small local farms than large industrial operations, which tend to use intensive farming methods that can deplete the soil. I feel that we are quickly losing touch with the way food is grown and need to encourage small, local farmers who spend their time growing the best produce for us to eat.
3) Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Organic fruits and vegetables have a product code that begins with 9, conventional produce has a product code that begins with 3 or 4, and genetically modified foods have a product code that begins with 8. However, even that could be misleading because the label is optional. Produce that is typically genetically modified includes: papaya from Hawaii, some zucchini and yellow squash and some corn on the cob. Many processed or packaged foods contain ingredients that have been genetically modified. In particular, foods containing soy, corn, wheat, canola/rapeseed, sugar and sugar beets, dairy are most likely genetically modified unless stated otherwise. The main problem with GMOs is that they may have genetic changes that are unexpected and potentially harmful to us.
4) Minimize purchases of packaged and frozen foods.
Just because a packaged or frozen food says it’s organic, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Often, packaged or frozen food – organic and non-organic – have a lot of additives, preservatives and sugar to enhance the flavor and keep the food on the shelf for extended periods of time. Again, if a product has a long list of ingredients, chances are that it’s not so healthy for you.
5) Experiment with new ingredients.
It’s so easy to fall into a rut and prepare the same meals over and over again. I know, I do it all the time. So, once in a while, purchase a new ingredient and try a new recipe. This will make shopping and cooking fun!
In short, it comes down to eating primarily fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh meats, fish and poultry. While this may sometimes take a little longer to prepare, the health benefits are definitely worthwhile.
Pear and Almond Cake
I find this to be a quintessentially fall dish, to be enjoyed with a cup
of tea or coffee.
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup maple sugar; more for sprinkling on cake
1/4 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. sea salt
3 large eggs
4 Tbsp. organic butter, plus additional for greasing the pie pan
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
- 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pie pan.
- 2. Peel and core pears. Cut into wedges. Place in a bowl and pour lemon juice on top so pears don’t brown. Let stand.
- 3. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, sugar, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and sea salt. Mix well.
- 4. In another bowl, whisk eggs, butter, honey, and almond extract. Add to almond and flour mixture and mix well. Pour batter into pie dish.
- 5. Arrange pears in a circle in the batter. Sprinkle with 1-2 Tbsp. maple sugar. Bake for 30 minutes until pears are golden and knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool.