We are a society that over-consumes in every sense of the word. We buy unnecessarily and if you just look around, we eat unnecessarily as well. We have been taught (and somewhat scared) into dieting, using artificial products to add to our foods, and forced to read food labels. Much of the cuisines we consume or at least have consumed over the past years are filled with toxins. The process of how food is grown and manufactured has drastically altared. This has transformed our country into an unhealthy cesspool. It is important, then, to stay healthy in today’s climate of uncertainty. “We can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold,” President Barack Obama told Congress. With the rising cost of healthcare, becoming sick is simply not a financial option. Both eating well and saving money, then, are crucial.
Below are some healthy, green eating and cooking ideas that can easily be put into your daily schedule and may even save you a few bucks!
· Grow herbs and vegetables at home ….either in your outdoor garden or on your window sill. It will be a small investment, but will save you tons in the end. Be sure to plant the organic seeds (or purchase a small potted organic herb plant); this way you know from the start it is pesticide free.
· Ban the high fructose corn syrup. This is where reading labels are vital. This sticky sweetener is found in the obvious sodas, juices and many cereals. Go to your cabinet and check out the myriad of products that have this toxic sweetener. D Life explains that “it’s a highly purified blend of sugars (typically 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose) derived from corn. Because the fructose in HFCS is part of a manmade blend (as opposed to the natural compound of sugars found in fruit), the body metabolizes it very differently from other sugars.” If this scientific explanation isn’t enough to change your refined sugar habits, then hopefully the announcement of mercury found samples of high fructose corn syrup will drive you to toss your packaged food out. The Washington Post article warns, “Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered.”
· Sugar alternatives. When Christopher Columbus brought sugar to America, it was, yes, filled with calories, but contained protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Ah, but then the processing of the sugarcane changed dramatically. A few centuries later, the sugar business needed to revamp their processing methods to get more bang for their buck. The essential nutrients were then stripped away in a process that produced what we know today as refined sugars. Basically, a product with loads of calories and no nutritional value. Thus, the root cause for health problems. Then, there came the birth of artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin) filled with synthetic chemicals. Instead, try agave nectar as it has a lower glycemic index. Agave nectar is a great economic alternative to other sweeteners since it has approximately “1.4 x the sweetening power of white sugar and, agave nectar’s mild flavor doesn’t vary widely which will lend a real consistency to recipes.” Also try Stevia as an additive to smoothies, yogurts, coffees and teas. It is not recommended, though, for baking. Keep in mind that most sugar producers practice unfair labor. Although purchasing the organic, fair-trade brands may empty your wallet, at least you know you are supporting a worthy cause.
· Fish and mercury levels. Yes, fish and shellfish are part of a healthy diet. Yes, they are low in saturated fat, and full of nutrients, but then there is the mercury element. It is said that all fish have traces of mercury, but certain types have larger amounts that the public need to be made aware of; especially pregnant women and children. Visit, Environmental Working Group for a list of fish containing high levels of mercury.
· Need to thaw? Do so in the fridge in lieu of running hot water over the food. This obviously will save water and will allow the food to thaw more evenly.
· Cook in advance. If saving time and money are priority, then use (or altar) recipes that call for dry legumes. Allow them to soak overnight in the fridge. If you make enough in advance, you can put into smaller containers in the freezer. Although the canned versions are mighty convenient, some are known to have Bisphenol-A (BPA) an endocrine disruptor in the linings of the cans.
· Cooking is not just for ovens/stoves. I’m not suggesting cooking in the microwave either! How many times do you throw a sweet potato in the oven? Smaller portions can easily be cooked in a toaster oven and it uses much less energy, thus saving money on your electric bill. Slow cookers are also a big hit and try plug-in kettles in place of the tea kettle heating up on the stove.
· To keep the microwave clean in order to maximize its performance. Maximizing energy means less energy used; thus saving money on electric bill.
· To cover pots when cooking when possible. This allows you to cook quicker so that you use less energy.
For more eco-changes, visit Earth Promise and partake in the changes that will help you live a more healthy, green lifestyle.