July 2016 Favorites | Healthy Food, Natural Beauty, NEW Planner!

July is coming to an end so that means it's time to talk favorites! July has been a great month for healthy food favorites with all of the deliciousness coming in at the farmers' market! I'm also sharing some of my favorite organic iced teas and my new planner!


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Products Mentioned

Mint tea Chocolate mint tea Hibiscus tea Lip balm




Sarah Moran is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

July Garden Tour! Explosive Growth!

It's officially summer and the garden has exploded with growth! It's amazing what a month can do! The garden has come a long way since my last update and it's really exciting. Lots of things are growing and it looks like I'm going to have my best harvests yet! For a point of reference, I'm in Virginia in Zone 7. All of the plants in the garden we either seeded directly or started from seed inside. I like to grow heirloom varieties, so there are a lot of tasty and interesting types that you might not have seen before!


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Tomato cage tutorial: https://youtu.be/67zaGO_k6q0

Paula Thomas Instagram: @gapey

Late Spring Garden Tour!

The garden is kicking off and I'm super excited about it! The garden is finally all set up and we have everything in the ground, except a couple squash plants! In this tour you'll get to see the overall garden layout, as well as what we're growing in each bed. And of course I found a few surprises along the way.

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Garden Layout and What's Growing!

The garden layout is complete and I'm getting super excited for the growing season! The garden layout is complete and I'm getting super excited for the growing season! I'm really happy with how things turned out and I was able to get a lot of the materials for free! Here's a look at the new garden layout, as well a peek at what's growing outside and inside on the grow rack.

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Tea Organization and Favorites!

A dietitian's favorite teas + a tea organization tip! I love tea and I have quite the collection! The problem is, it can become a disorganized mess pretty easily. To solve this problem, I've found a great tool that keeps all of the tea tidy and easy to see when you're ready to brew a cup. I'm also sharing some of my favorite teas that I drink all the time.


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PRODUCTS MENTIONED Tea organizer Gunpowder Green (Numi) Rooibos Chai (Numi) Moroccan Mint (Numi) Basil Mint Pu-erh (Numi) Hibiscus (Traditional Medicinals) Chinese Breakfast (Numi) Chocolate Spice (Numi) Chocolate Mint (Numi)



Sarah Moran is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Egg Labels: What You Need to Know

Egg Labels Eggs can be an incredibly healthy food, but all of the labels and lingo on their packaging can get confusing. Cage free? Free range? Organic? Pastured? What does it all really mean? Here's your guide to understand egg labels so you can get the best eggs for you and your family.


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Cullen and Katie's Vlogs

Is Organic Food Better?

Organic food is often touted to be much better for you than non organic food. But what's the difference? And is organic food really better for you? Here's the breakdown on organic vs non organic and why all organic food isn't created equal. [x_video type="16:9, 5:3, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2" m4v="" ogv="" poster="" hide_controls="" autoplay="" embed='' no_container="true"]

Get more info about the USDA Organic program here

How to Find Local Food

Gardening Playlist

Why This Dietitian Buys Whole Milk

Everyone knows that they should be choosing low-fat and non-fat dairy options, but is this really what's best for our health? In today's video, I share the reasons why I choose whole milk for myself and the one instance you should never buy whole milk. [x_video type="16:9, 5:3, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2" m4v="" ogv="" poster="" hide_controls="" autoplay="" embed='' no_container="true"]

Eating Organic On A Budget

moneypileIt's a common complaint that eating healthy and organic foods is more expensive than eating junk. While this can be true if you buy a lot of specialty or processed products, it can also be affordable to eat well if you know how to do it. With that said, I don't know why it is virtuous in our culture to spend as little on food as possible (see Extreme Couponers). Obviously if you aren't bringing in enough money to feed yourself this should be a concern, but even those who are well off get sucked into this mentality. Spending as little as possible on food and dropping thousands on a designer handbag are both admirable. What? I recently had a request from a reader to write a post with tips for those who want to eat organic, but aren't independently wealthy. I'm here to tell you that you can eat delicious, healthy food on a budget, if you put in the effort. It's all about doing what you can, prioritizing your food dollars, and giving yourself a break some times. Jasen and I definitely don't spend unlimited amounts of money on our food, but we're still able to eat well.

  1. Grow your own. No matter if you live on several acres or in an NYC apartment, you can still grow something. Potted herbs are a great place to start!
  2. Shop at your local farmers market. You can get great prices and, as you start to build relationships with the farmers, you can often get deals or freebies.
  3. Use the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" lists to prioritize your organic dollars. These list which foods have the most pesticide residue (most important to buy organic) and which have the least (less important to buy organic). If you have to choose, you're better off getting organic versions of the thin skinned fruits and veggies like apples and tomatoes, and buying non-organic when it comes to thick skinned foods like oranges and watermelon.
  4. Eat less meat. Organic and pastured meats can be expensive, so, rather than eating cheap meat every night, opt for organic meats 2-3 times per week.
  5. Stop buying chicken in pieces. Buy the whole chicken and cut it up yourself. Not only is this cheaper, but it gives some variety in your diet and you can use the left-over back bone to make stock.
  6. Buy foods in bulk. Often, this can be cheaper (but check to make sure it is)! When it comes to meat, buy a whole cow or hog and freeze it for the year. If you are single and/or don't have a huge freezer to store the meat, go in with some friends and split it.
  7. Don't get sucked into organic specialty products like bars, crackers, and cereal. They're quite expensive. Choose whole, real foods instead.
  8. Make as much yourself as possible. You can save lots of money by taking the time to soak and cook dried beans rather than buying canned. I've recently started making my own yogurt. Start with one change at a time and add them on gradually. As you go, what was once a big deal will become your new normal.
  9. Eat in. Eating out is super expensive and often the quality of the food isn't that great. When you do eat out, make it a special occasion and choose restaurants that specialize in something you can't make yourself and/or ones that use local and organic ingredients.
  10. Find the money. Most people spend some of their income on extra items they don't need. Now, while there isn't anything wrong with this, if you are on a limited budget, you might need to eliminate or reduce these items in order to put that money towards your food. It all comes down to what is more important to you.

A great resource if you need meal ideas is 100 Days of Real Food. After this mom and her family completed a 100 day real food challenge, they went on a 100 day real food on a budget challenge where they spent less than what they would have received on SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits. You can read all about their struggles and tips here.

Even with these tips, the bottom line is that you have to make healthy eating a priority. It does sometimes require sacrifices, but the benefits are much greater.

Do you guys have any money-saving tips when it comes to eating well? Share them in the comments below!

What I'm Reading: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

AnimalVegetableMiracleNothing better than when something good comes out of a bad situation. A couple months ago I hurt my back (working out I think) and was out of commission for a few weeks. I pretty much just lied around all day and answered cooking questions from the couch as Jasen made the dinners I had planned. Once I was finally pain-free enough to be useful, I decided to make walking my workout of choice until I was sure things had healed up (still not there by the way). I decided these walks would be a good time to get into some audio books I purchased a while back. My first pick was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbra Kingsolver. Simply put, it has become one of my favorite books ever.

The basic premise of the book is this: Barbara and her family move from Arizona to a farm property in south western Virginia. Here, they challenge themselves to live for an entire year eating only foods that they grow themselves or obtain from local sources. Barbara's writing ability (she's an author in real life)  makes a huge difference as she takes you through a year of this way of living. Not only does she provide great information, but she weaves it all into a great story. Being able to learn from their experience and go through each season with the family shows the reader how a life like this can still work in today's world. There are also small sections written by her husband on food system issues and her daughter provides recipe and menu planning ideas along the way. This is an excellent starting place for anyone interested in producing their own food, whether you're just starting out or are looking to expand your gardening efforts. For me, it also brought back memories of helping my grandma plant her garden, being sure to place the seeds however deep and far apart she instructed, and sitting at her dining room table shelling peas.

Do you plan to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? What book should I read next? Let me know in the comments below!


My Thoughts On The "Organic Study"

Last week, news broke on a study out of Stanford University comparing organic foods to their conventionally grown counterparts. The main message I heard in the media was something along the lines of "study finds organic food not any healthier than conventional food." Reporters would then go into a few specifics of the study and move on to the next story. I was on the fence on posting about this since I haven't read the full study, but since I've gotten quite a few questions about it in the last week, I thought I could at least discuss some of the details we do know from what has been released in the media. While this may not be the most complete analysis, I do think there are some important points that got brushed over in the media for the sake of a good headline. Here are my top takeaways. 1. What Kind of Study Was It?

Let's start with the basics. We can only interpret the results if we know what kind of results we're working with. This was a meta-analysis of 237 studies comparing conventional and organic food, meaning the researchers compared the results of these studies using statistical methods. While studies such as this are helpful, it is important to know that this was not a study spanning 50 years with thousands of subjects who ate identical diets with one being conventional and the other organic (ideal, but impractical).

2. Nutritional Content is Similar

The study concluded that, on average, organic produce has the same nutrient content as conventional produce. The only exception to this was phosphorus, which was higher in organic produce. Considering this, I do want to point out that shipping produce plays a big role in this area. If you pick an apple from a tree in your back yard and eat it that day, the nutrient content will likely be much higher than an apple grown and shipped across the county, or across the world. Lesson learned, grown your own and hit up the farmer's market.

3. Conventional Produce Has Higher Pesticide Residue

This should come as a no-brainer. One of the major reasons people purchase organic produce is to reduce their exposure to pesticides and other similar chemicals. However, this point been spun in the media to be unimportant with many articles and reports noting that the levels of pesticides found on conventional produce was still far below the levels deemed safe by the FDA. Really? Do they think people buy organic because conventional produce is somehow not adhering to FDA regulations? No! They buy it because they disagree with FDA regulations that say these chemicals are safe in the first place.

4. Conventional Meat Has Higher Levels of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

This makes perfect sense considering animals raised conventionally are pumped with antibiotics to encourage growth (yes, really) and also to fight the infections and diseases that run rampant in the deplorable conditions in which these animals are raised. But what does this really mean? Antibiotic resistant bacteria are a serious issue because, as their name suggests, they cannot be killed with antibiotics. If these kinds of bacteria continue to proliferate, more and more often we will find ourselves with bacterial infections that simply can't be treated.

Overall, the findings of this study (assuming they are valid) largely point to the benefits of organics. Yet, somehow, the media message became "organic food not healthier." Amazing.

What are your thoughts on the organic study? What do you think about the way it was portrayed in the media? Sound off in the comments below. :)

Eco-Emi February 2012

Hi everyone! I made this video to introduce y'all to a new product I'm in love with. Also, let me know if you like the video format and if you'd like to see more videos in the future, or just stick to the written word. On that note, if you like the idea of videos, what kind of stuff would you like to see?




Food Find: Ella's Kitchen Baby Food. It's Not Just for Babies!

I love finding new foods whether it be an interesting vegetable at the farmer's market or a wholesome product on store shelves. Something I've been obsessing over for the past month or so is Ella's Kitchen fruit and vegetable puree pouches. Yes, I am talking about baby food, but, trust me, adults love this stuff too. In fact, the girl at the checkout counter told me so. She's a fan herself and said that many other customers are too. So, I'm not the only adult out there gobbling this stuff up.

Why do I love this product so much? Let me count the ways...

1. Delicious.

I can honestly say I've liked every flavor I've tried. Now, the vegetable ones aren't quite as delectable as the fruits, but what did you expect?

2. Nutritious.

With flavors like peaches + bananas and sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples, + blueberries you can get a variety of nutrient packed fruits and vegetables.

3. 100% Organic

Everything in the puree pouches is organic and the only preservative is a little lemon juice. Processed foods don't get any more wholesome than that.

4. Portable.

With a resealable twisty cap, you don't have to worry about finishing the whole thing at once or discovering a leak later on.

Now, you know I'm always a proponent of making your food from scratch, but I think these can be a great option when you're on the go. Also, if you're ever in a situation (family get together, vacation, etc.) where the food offerings aren't reflective of what you usually eat, these could be a great way to supplement your diet.

To find out more about Ella's Kitchen, check them out their website at http://www.ellaskitchen.com/.

What are your feelings about adults eating baby food?

GMOs Part 2: Where They Are and How to Choose Foods Without Them

After digesting (har-har) some of the information in my previous post, you may want to know more about where GMOs lurk in our food supply and how to avoid them. At this stage of the game, GMOs are not labeled, so you're going to have to play detective a little bit. However, once you know the tricks, choosing GMO free food will be second nature. Here are some tips to remember when you're strolling down the grocery store aisle.

1. Know the foods that are commonly GMO.

Topping the list are corn and soy which are predominantly GMO and used in just about every processed food you can find. High-fructose corn syrup anyone? Also, many of those odd food additives that you're just not sure what they are or can't even pronounce are made from GMO corn or soy too. Canola oil and sugar beets are common culprits as well.

In the produce section, Hawaiian papaya, corn on the cob, zucchini, and yellow summer squash may be GMO as well. Unless they are marked as organic or non-GMO, you simply can't tell.

2. Choose Organic.

As a part of organic certification, foods labeled as organic cannot intentionally contain GMO ingredients. While this doesn't protect you 100% due to issues such as cross-pollination with neighboring GMO crops, it's one of the best ways to protect yourself. Also, never forget that organic does not equal healthy or exempt you from digging a little deeper and reading the ingredients list. As I stated in a previous label reading post, a product labeled as organic must have at least 95% organic ingredients, so there still could still be a few less that ideal ingredients in the product. Plus, organic or not, any food that contains refined grains or excessive amounts of sugar is definitely not a health food in my book.

3. Look for the Non-GMO Project label.

Non-GMO Project is an independent, third-party organization who, according to their website, verifies that "a product has been produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance, including testing of risk ingredients." What this means, is that they can't verify that every product is 100% GMO free because they don't test end products. However, this label is the most rigorous standard and your best bet to finding food without GMOs. For more information on this label, click the picture to the right to link to their website.

4. Know your farmer. Know your food.

The best way to know what's in your food and where it comes from is to step out of the grocery store, head to your local farmer's market or roadside stand, and get to know the people who grow your food. Ask them about their philosophy and growing practices and find out what's important to them. Even better, visit their farm and get a first-hand look at how they do things. Not only will you be supporting farmers in your area, but you'll help to build a sense of community that is invaluable.

Final thought:

If avoiding GMOs is important to you, it's definitely possible. However, I still feel that labeling is essential. Whether you're for or against GMOs, every consumer has a right to know what is in the food they are purchasing. That information shouldn't be shrouded in a veil of mystery or hidden to prevent a dip in sales.

Are you concerned about GMOs and the risks they pose? Would you like to see labeling of these products?

The Rundown on Yogurt and a Recipe!

Yogurt could definitely be called one my diet staples (I usually eat it once or even twice a day). Why the obsession? It's delicious and easy to serve up in bowl for breakfast or throw in my lunch box for snack. However, there are benefits to eating yogurt other than its taste and convenience.

Probably the most touted component of yogurt is its calcium, which is important in maintaining healthy bones and teeth. A second highlight  is it's protein content which can help keep you feeling fuller longer and aid in post-workout recovery. Yogurt is also full of probiotics (check the label for live active cultures such as L. acidophilus, among others) which help to promote the healthy bacteria that reside in our gut and play an important role in the digestion of foods well as the production of vitamin K.

With all of those benefits, you may be thinking that you'd like to add more yogurt to your diet, but it is important to remember that not all yogurts are created equal. When choosing your yogurt there are a few things that you want to avoid.

1. Artificial sweeteners

Aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet 'N Low), and sucralose (Splenda) are all common artificial sweeteners and, in my opinion and the opinion of many others, should be avoided. They fall into a class called "non-nutritive sweeteners," meaning they provide no nutrition. You don't want to spend your money on "food" that isn't really food to begin with.

2. Artifical Dyes

The artificial coloring in foods is believed by many to contribute to ADD/ADHD in children and could have other harmful effects we don't even know about. Even if you think it's just a bunch of hype, the point is that they are totally unnecessary. Fresh fruit is a much healthier and tastier way to color your yogurt.

3. Artificial flavors

If you love the taste of flavored yogurt, buy products that are flavored naturally (always read the ingredients) or, even better, flavor it yourself! Then you have total control over what you're eating. If you're eating strawberry yogurt, doesn't it make sense that it would be flavored with strawberries?

In addition to all this, I recommend that you choose organic yogurt, and dairy products in general, whenever possible. Non-organic dairy cows are pumped with hormones to drastically and artificially increase milk production and then given large doses of antibiotics to fight bacterial infections that may result from being over milked. Both hormones and antibiotics can then be found in the dairy products that these cows produce. A dose of antibiotics in your probiotic yogurt sounds pretty counter intuitive to me.

I love to buy plain yogurt in 32 ounce containers and then flavor it myself. It's much cheaper this way and also healthier as I can control the quality of the ingredients I add. Below is my recipe for my favorite way to eat yogurt. It's OK if you lick the bowl, I do it all the time. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Yogurt


3/4-1 cup plain regular or Greek-style yogurt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I like a LOT of cinnamon so you may want to start with less and then add to taste)

1 teaspoon of honey or maple syrup (optional, I like mine without it)


1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl with a spoon.

2. Eat! I like to add berries or cherries to flavor my yogurt or chop fresh apples and add those to the mix for breakfast. For snack I use it as a fruit dip for pears, grapefruit, and peaches (Greek yogurt is better for dip because it is thicker, but plain works too). Get creative and have fun!

Cracking the Code on Food Labels and Packaging

Knowing how to read your food packaging and what all of those terms and phrases really mean can make all the difference when trying to make healthy choices at the grocery store. No one wants to think they're making the best choice, only to be duped by a clever marketing scheme. Ideally, a large portion of your food shouldn't have any labels because you're choosing lots of whole fruits and vegetables, but there are still many healthy choices that require you to be a savvy label reader.

In the Ingredients List

1. Whole Wheat flour (or "whole" followed by the name of any other grain)

This indicates that the whole grain was used, preserving it's healthy benefits.

2. Wheat Flour

This is another name for white flour. White flour is made from wheat, it is just a much more refined (less healthful) version.

3. Enriched Wheat Flour

Simply another name for white flour. "Enriched" (which all white flour is, by law) refers to the fact that several nutrients have been added to the flour. Essentially, they remove most of the grain's nutritional value to leave behind starch, and then throw some vitamins back in for good measure which are no substitute for all of the health benefits contained in the original whole grain.

4. Unbleached Wheat Flour

White flour rears it's ugly head once again.

5. Corn Sugar

A new name for high fructose corn syrup because people are avoiding products that contain it.

6. Chicory Root

This is an ingredient that is used to give a product more fiber. "Fiber" simply refers to matter that goes undigested in the human digestive tract. The fiber in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is touted for it's bulking effect which promotes fullness and encourages healthy digestion. Fiber derived from chicory root, however, does not have these properties and associated health benefits. Many products use chicory root to add fiber without compromising flavor and texture, so read your ingredients list. Chicory root isn't necessarily "bad", but if you're paying for a high fiber cereal, you want the health benefits associated with it, not a product relying on loopholes and technicalities.

On the Front of the Box

1. Natural

This term is not regulated and has no strict definition. While it may make you feel like the product is somehow better for you, any item can have this on the label, no matter what the ingredients are. The only way to know for sure is to read the ingredients list yourself.

2. Organic

Any product labeled as "organic" and/or with the "USDA Organic" label must be made with at least 95% organic ingredients, excluding water and salt.

3. Made with Organic Ingredients

These products must be made from at least 70% organic ingredients, excluding water and salt. Any product with less than 70% organic ingredients cannot say it is organic anywhere on the packaging, but may note which ingredients are organic in the ingredients list.

4. 100% Whole Wheat/100% Whole Grain

This means that all of the wheat/grains used in this product are whole and no refined grains were used.

5. Whole Wheat/Whole Grain

This is one of those tricky terms. If a product simply states is is whole wheat or whole grain, but not 100%, this means that a majority of the grains used are whole, but refined grains are used as well. The problem is, you have no idea what that proportion is. If 51% of the grains are whole and 49% percent are refined, the product can labeled as "whole grain."

6. Multigrain
Many people see "multigrain" and think that a product is healthier. However, that is not necessarily the case. When you see this, it means that several grains were used in the manufacture of this product, rather than one. This does not however mean that the grains used were whole grains. For example, if a product contains white flour, corn, and oat flour, it's "multigrain." Again, in order to know the truth about the quality of ingredients, you absolutely must read the ingredients list.
7. "No Hormones" or "Hormone Free" on Conventional Poultry and Pork

While no one wants hormones in his or her meat products, it is important to know that hormones are used in conventional beef, but not poultry or pork. While this label may initially make you feel safer about your purchase, it does not represent any added benefit compared to other conventionally raised animals. Poultry and pork never have hormones, period.

Are there any other terms on food packaging that you find confusing?