Farm to Label: Are Organics Really Better?


By: Nikki Nies

 The organic market has grown significantly as it accounts for 30% more jobs per hectare than the non-organic market. Here’s an infographic by MPH Online, outlining the meaning behind the organic label, as well as the costs and revenues of the organic market. Check it out!

Farm to Label - MPHOnline

Sources:http://www.mphonline.org/organic-food/

Photo Credit: MPH Online

Review: Dave’s Gourmet


Disclosure Agreement: Review was due to compensation from the company’s whose products were reviewed. We Dish Nutrition tested each product thoroughly and gives high marks to only the very best. Opinions expressed at We Dish Nutrition are our own. 

By: Nikki Nies21967_330688809215_4257624_n

Being able to have one’s cake and eat it too is often times a goal for many, even if they’re not willing to admit said ambition. In regards to those that partake in a Heart Healthy diet, I’m here today to tell you can have your sauce and eat it too. A few tips when choosing jarred pasta sauce: 1) the smaller the ingredient list, the more fresh, less preservatives are in the sauce 2) if you can’t pronounce the ingredients or don’t recognize the name of an ingredient, the sauce is probably not something I want keep in my cupboard 3) Opt for organic.

What brand of sauce fits that criteria? Dave’s Gourmet Pasta Sauces, of course! With Dave’s Gourmet’s Pasta Sauces, which are low in sodium, you can enjoy a pasta filled meal without the guilt that you’re going overboard on the recommended amount of sodium for the day!

Dave’s Gourmet started with the selling of hot products in a small restaurant, Burrito Madness, but now produces a variety of products, from hot sauces to drink mixes.  Again, today I’ll be focusing on Dave’s Gourmet Pasta Sauces.

DARGS-2TWhile Dave’s Gourmet’s Butternut Squash is the best selling sauce, as it’s the WINNER BEST PASTA SAUCE- NEW YORK FANCY FOOD SHOW 2009, I wish there was more of a selection of sauces to choose from. How am I supposed to know how to use the additional sauces if there are a limited amount of recipes provided? I don’t mind experimenting in the kitchen, yet some direction and/or insight on Dave’s Gourmet’s preference of how to use the Red Heirloom or Roasted Garlic & Sweet Basil sauce would be appreciated.

In the past, I always shied away from using jarred pasta sauce since it tastes so “processed”, but with Dave’s Gourmet Pasta Sauces, my mind has done a 160, realizing that there are some jarred sauces that can eradicate that thought. With fresh garlic, herbs and organic heirloom tomatoes, the Red Heirloom is a great sauce to pair with linguine or to add as a base for stews, chilis and/or soups.  Check out the Red Heirloom’s list of fresh ingredients:

Organic tomatoes (heirloom and other varieties), water, organic carrots, organic onions, organic tomato paste, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic evaporated cane juice, organic garlic, organic spices (including organic basil and organic oregano), and sea salt. Gluten free.

Dave’s Gourmet has knocked it out of the park with their sauces, perfecting the necessary consistency, not too thin, chunky or thick. With just the right amount of acid, these jars priced at $8.99 for 25.5 ounces, it worth the purchase! Who needs more than that?

Next, I’ll be getting my hands on Dave’s Gourmet Organic Spicy Heirloom Marinara Sauce, which is the Winner of the 2009 Scovie Award for Prepared/Pasta Sauce! Who wants to join me in eating this scrumptious sauce and having it too?!

Check out Dave’s Gourmet Twitter | Facebook

Photo Credit: Dave’s Gourmet

Sources: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2012/07/21/baked-chips-are-they-healthy/

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm374855.htm

Review: Organicgirl


logo_organicgirlDisclosure Agreement: Review of Organicgirl was due to compensation from the company’s whose products were reviewed. We Dish Nutrition tested each product thoroughly and gives high marks to only the very best. Opinions expressed at We Dish Nutrition are our own. 

By: Nikki Nies

When one sets forth a long term goal, with the right amount of passion, resources and confidence, anything can be achieved. While this scenario can be applicable to various situations, I want to applaud Organicgirl’s team for their continued efforts in offering superb organic produce. The company’s name is fitting, as Organicgirl reflects the company’s mission to provide fresh, youthful greens.  header-r3

The production of quality products doesn’t stop with the supply of greens themselves, as the recycling program (R3)-return, recycle and reward reflects Organicgirl’s sustainability practices ! By returning romaine heart bags back to Organicgirl, the bags are used further production and consumers can obtain free produce by recycling! Can’t get much better than that!

It is important to note, Organicgirl doesn’t ostracize men or boys, as everyone can and should enjoy healthy, sustainable produce. They also provide consumers the confidence needed to buy greens, with all products labeled washed3, signifying the product wasn’t washed just once, but THREE times!

IMG_9258Recently, I had the pleasure of experimenting with Organicgirl’s spinach using Skinnytaste‘s Spinach Dip recipe. Happily, I was able to kill two birds with one stone. 1) use Organicgirl’s spinach 2) make spinach dip! With such an easy recipe, in under 30 minutes, I was quickly able to enjoy the spinach dip, guilt free I might add!  The recipe made 2 1/2 cups of spinach dip, being able to use the dip with my favorite crackers and even as a spread on toast.

I continue to be impressed with Organicgirl’s quality products, with transparency in all facets of production and their continued stance on decreasing the company’s carbon footprint.

To elevate their line of products, it’d be great if Organicgirl started providing its consumers suggestions of how to use the greens in recipes. Organicgirl does a great job of engaging its users across multiple social media platforms, asking consumers how they are using the greens, yet maintaining documentation of suggestions and unique uses of greens would encourage consumers to try different variations and products of Organicgirl’s greens.

Organicgirl offers a variety of greens, more than just spinach, what Organicgirl greens do you find yourself picking up? What’s your favorite way to use theses scrumptious, sustainable products?

Check out Organicgirl’s Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | elist | Contact

Photo Credit: Organicgirl

Sources: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2010/12/hot-spinach-dip.html

High Cost Doesn’t Always ≠ High Quality


By: Nikki Nies

mmix_4432_mOur minds play tricks on us all throughout the day, consciously and subconsciously.  How many subliminal messages and/or marketing techniques do you recognize when passing billboards, posters, advertisements and/or the ubiquitous propaganda? While I’m sure the number of “codes” is well into the thousands, don’t let the food you eat trick you either!

We eat with our eyes, but also with our minds.  We associate paying more with receiving higher quality products.  Yes, canned crab meat is going to cost less than Maryland crab that’s just been shelled and cleaned, but can you tell the difference in food quality between less significant food cost disparities?

We all love to indulge from time to time, my point is remember what you’re eating. High end chefs have a galore of ingredients in their arsenal and they aren’t afraid to use butter! Therefore, it’s not always correct to associate higher cost with higher quality! A systemic review led by Stanford University found there is not strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious than conventional foods. While this has led to controversial backlash, it’s important to your own research on what foods you eat.  Take ownership of your health and aim to consume a more well rounded, varied diet.

Furthermore, a study conducted by Cornell University, revealed that people who paid $8 instead of $4 for the food enjoyed their meal 11 per cent more than those who ate the cheaper buffet.  It’s suggested people tend to associate cost with quality, leading to changes in perception of how food tastes. While price doesn’t seem to impact how much one eats, it affects how one interprets the experience.

What food misperceptions have you unknowingly made in the past? What tricks do you have to assess the quality of food?

Photo Credit:Money Mix  

Sources: http://www.medicaldaily.com/expensive-food-tastes-better-even-when-its-not-optimizing-buffet-experience-280552

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2618967/Food-thought-People-think-meals-taste-better-theyre-expensive.html

Peapod


By: Nikki Niespeapod-screen1

Whether you’re busily getting from one soccer game to the next or your mobility is limited, Peapod, may be the next best service for you to try! Health professionals acknowledge that getting food on the dinner table can be a challenge, so we encourage you to use all the available, realistic “tools” on hand. If this means signing up for groceries delivered to your door will help lessen the stress of homemade meals, so be it.

In 1989, Peapod was started by two brothers, Andrew and Thomas Parkinson in Evanston, Illinois.  Since then, they have branched out, delivering in Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Not only does Peapod sell thousands of national brands, but also carry their own line of competitive store brands.  Additionally, you can set your orders to be delivered any where from the next day to ordering two weeks in advanced.

peapod_logoNot sure if Peapod is worth the try? Peapod promises:

  • Savings with use of clicking on “All Specials”  to obtain thousands of sale items
  • With the use of “Sort Tool”, you can compare side by side unit prices and/or price
  • Use of “Nutrifilter” allows you to prioritize and/or eliminate groceries options due to food preferences, allergies or nutrition
  • Stay on budget by tracking total while shopping
  • Honor double manufacturer’s coupons up to $0.99
  • Carries organic produce
  • Carries health and beauty care products
  • Carries highest quality meat, seafood and deli products

Once picked, groceries are kept temperature controlled containers until delivery.   Furthermore, after entering zip code, you can customize delivery times!

In select cities, one can now pick up groceries at curbside for less hassle free shopping!  Make sure to check out GrouponSaving Beans or Retail Me Not for discounts on your first grocery order!

Photo Credit:Saving Beans and Money Crashers 

Sources:http://www.peapod.com/

 

Cleaner Eating on a Budget


By: Nikki Nies IMG_9404

I recently wrote about the proper measures one may need to take to ensure home safety.  While, that is important, it’s equally important to recognize how all healthy eatomh can fit into a household budget.  Obviously, I don’t know what your family and/or financial circumstances are, but I can make generalizations that you care about your family’s well being, that you want to know where your food is coming from and if you can save a buck or two while eating frugally, why not?

If you found yourself nodding ‘yes’ to any or all of my above generalizations, then proceed to my next point. There seems to be three kind of grocery shoppers, those that stick to non-GMO, organic, pesticide, hormone and antibiotic free, those that pick and choose the foods that are “cleanly” bought while opting to buy the nonorganic counterparts when desired.  And then there’s those like me, may recognize the benefits of “cleaner” produce and products, that are non-GMO, organic, antibiotic, hormone and/or pesticide free, but don’t see how those concepts fit into  our budget.

I can’t help, but look at prices.  However, I’ve doing a lot of reading lately and I firmly believe that these distinctive three groups could be under one umbrella, purchasing cleaner foods in a cost effective manner.

Friendly Suggestions on How to Stretch Food Dollars:4colorsealgif

  • Stick to foods that have the 100% organic, “organic” made with organic ingredients–skip the sections that have “natural”, “hormone free” and/or “free range.”
  • Opt for generic organic brands
  • For each week, plan meals around circular sales and/or dry goods you already have to spare at home
  • Compare different organic variations, including dried, fresh, canned or frozen.  When cooked correctly, all these organic variations can be  equally delicious!
  • Shop around to find “your” store! Perhaps, a closer grocery store has a better organic variety and/or generic options!
  • Always make a grocery list!
  • Join a local food cooperative to learn the latest local news on events, programs and locations to purchase organic products
  • Plant or join a local community garden to grow your own organic produce
  • Limit meat to less than three times a week as meat is naturally more expensive than vegetables, legumes and beans
  • Clip coupons or gather from online newsletters or magazine subscriptions
  • Shop at supermarkets that carry their own generic organic brands (i.e. Aldi)
  • Check out local farmer’s market
  • Buy in season
  • Buying in bulk will not only be less expensive long term due to larger quantity, but due to less packaging costs

I promise, with my next grocery trip, I’m heading straight to the organic section! For those that have been eating only or predominantly organic, how are you able to stretch the dollars?  How can we best incorporate organic foods into our lives seamlessly?

Photo Credit: Back to Her Roots 

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-to-eat-organic-foods-on-a-budget

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/going-organic-budget

‘Smart’ Frozen Meals


By: Nikki Nies

I’m a self-proclaimed realist.  I recognize that TV dinners aka frozen meals are a mainstay in grocery aisles and family households.  Instead of stating one should avoid such meals, I’ll join in on the fun and try to provide some healthier alternatives and guidance on what to parts of the food label one should discern when opting between two choices.

Prepackaged frozen meals take up more shelf space than any other type of food in the frozen aisle!  There’s no way to bypass reading the nutrition fact label to ensure you’re choosing the healthiest option! In other words, please give yourself a few extra minutes to compare meals and perhaps bring a pair of gloves down that aisle if you’re like me and get cold easily!

There are two types of frozen meals one should stick to: esq-iNWyfh-frozen-large

  1. Light Frozen Meals: Less than 300 calories and no more than 8 g of fat
  2. Regular Frozen Meals: 360-400 calories per meal and a maximum of 25 g of fat

Additional Tips:

  • When possible, go for the light frozen meal.
    Make sure to note the frozen meal portion size and grab the meal with veggies, as they tend to be lower in calories and contain more fiber and vitamins and minerals
  • Choose entrees that contain brown rice
  • Opt for lean meats–chicken, poultry and/or pork
  • Stick with lighter brand versions: Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers, and/or Amy’s
  • Hungry Man, Marie Callendar’s and Stouffer’s brand tend to be very rich in calories and fat and less nutrient dense than the lighter brands!
  • If you’re watching your sodium intake, it’s recommended to limit intake to less than 600-800 mg per meal, which is 1/3 of recommended sodium intake for average American
  • Don’t get wrapped up in the health claims the packages toot, this includes “natural” and “organic.”
  • Select meals with at least 3-5 g of fiber
  • Limit fat intake to less than 3 g of saturated fat or less per serving

I recognize these tips may seem overwhelming.  If needed, slowly start incorporating these suggested tips into your daily frozen meal choices one at a time.  Grocery shopping is one of my favorite past times and I hope it becomes and/or stays one of yours as well!

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/top-12-healthy-frozen-dinners

http://www.thedailymeal.com/15-healthiest-frozen-dinners

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for-men/microwave-meals-lyfe-kitchen-1013

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/best-frozen-dinners

http://www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/tips/2012-04/on.html

Kitchfix–CJK Foods


logoBy: Nikki Nies

Want home delivered meals, but want guaranteed freshness? Kitchfix has got you covered! Previously, known as CJK Foods, Kitchfix is founded by Chef Josh Katt and has made quite a name for itself in the Chicagoland area.  The concept of Kitchfix evolved after Chef Josh’s experiences in an after school cooking program in 2010 as well as a personal chef.

As a personal chef, Chef Josh had to accommodate a family’s needs for an anti inflammatory diet.This diet emphasizes the use of whole, unprocessed foods such as fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, and meats, and avoids inflammatory ingredients such as dairy, gluten, soy
products.

Kitchfix cares about:

  • Flavor: By using innovative culinary practices, superfoods work well together with a variety of flavors and textures; Chef Josh Katt is passionate about experimenting with different techniques and cuisines
  • Nutrition: the most nutrient densed foods are used in the superfood dishes; Kitchfix’s nutrition philosophy is based on progressive nutrition research and with the help of Jenny Westerkamp, Registered Dietitian (RD)
  • Animal Welfare: Use only the highest of standards for chicken, pork or poultry; ensured that beef is from a grass fed company, with no added hormones or antibiotics; opt for cage free pork and poultry, which is better for the environments and users’ overall health
  • Local Economy: supportive of local food movement; proudly working with local farms, G7 Ranch Gunthorp Farms
  • The planet: With a rooftop garden, Kitchfix is able to grow their own organic ingredients while adhering to sustainable farming, reducing  their carbon footprint; Kitchfix’s farmers adhere to environmentally conscious practices as well
  • Neighbors: With half of staff hours dedicated to employing from the Cara Program, Kitchfix is able to contribute to the growth of Chicagoland’s economy, providing employees the opportunities to escape from poverty and homelessness
  • You: By providing superfoods that meet Kitchfix’s superstandards, customers are guaranteed to receive the best nutrition with the best flavor

Still not convinced Kitchfix is worth trying? Check out the menu and ordering options! Additionally, peruse the delivery page to find out pricing !

Order Deadlines

  • Wednesday evening for Monday delivery
  • Friday evening for Tuesday delivery
  • Sunday evening for Wednesday or Thursday

Have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact Kitchfix! Have you personally ordered from Kitchfix? What was your experience like?

Sources: http://www.kitchfix.com/faq/

Pesticides, Hormones, Antibiotics, Oh My!


hormones-in-dairy-meatBy: Nikki Nies

Pesticides, antibiotics and hormones are all words we try to shy away from, yet these organic compounds have become a ubiquitous part of our daily food products.  Pesticides are often times in produce, hormones in milk and antibiotics in meat.  While use of these products are intended to heed production and boost food supply, the many downsides of these added products make the argument to continue to use these products are to agree with.

While the testing of these additives has improved for researchers and testers to be able to better identify the contents of products, that has not led to delayed or removal of such products.  Researchers continue to find that the amounts of chemicals found have the potential to cause extensive harm to humans.

Impact of the added pesticides, hormones and antibiotics;

  • Hormones: Added hormones in young livestock leads to an increase in weight faster than normal–>more meat–>more $$; increase the dairy production in cows; most common: rBGH and synthetic estrogen and testosterone; specific concerns of the compound diethylstilbestrol (DES), which has been found to be injected in cows has been found to cause an increased risk of vaginal cancer in the offspring of women who received the medicine,
  • Pesticides: Are often used on many conventionally grown fruits and vegetables; EPA sets limits, also known as “tolerance” on how much pesticide residue can be left on food for consumption;  individual safety profiles don’t take into account the hazard from pesticide effects–while one pesticide may be within tolerance level, it’s hard to tell what the effect of over 32 pesticides combined; highest level of pesticides: peaches, celery, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, apples; by buying organic produce, one can reduce pesticide exposure
  • Antibiotics: farmers have been known to feed their livestock antibiotics to “plump” them up; it’s suspected this practice is contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, but it’s hard to differentiate which meats have been treated with antibiotics and which ones have not since meats are not required to be labeled; can opt for locally grown and/or organically grown 419688902_fresh_vbe3md_xlarge

A lot of the perceived harm related to products has been related to early stage puberty. Yet, there hasn’t been much substantial evidence of such occurences in industry led studies, only in independent studies.  With such inconclusive evidence, the European Union (EU) has banned all beef products.  The EU, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have banned any and all products that contain rBGH, while the U.S. has no major studies underway to test the safety of hormones in milk and meat.

While it’s known that these unwanted additives can be harmful, it’s still unknown how much of these hormones, pesticides and antibiotics can cause harm. There are a lot of natural hormones found in food, so it can be hard to differentiate between natural and added.

Solution: When possible, buy locally.   It’s not realistic to think people will buy organically, as the cost is often times double the price of conventional foods.  However, by purchasing locally grown foods, one can ask the farmers directly what pesticides, hormones and/or antibiotics were used on the products sold.  Hopefully, the answer is zero, but at least one can get a quick, direct answer.

Furthermore, locally grown produce is the freshest, most direct way to buy produce and is a “greener” route to go as it decreases the amount of wasted fuel, pollution and greenhouse gases produced.  Google your next local farmer’s market as there creeping up more and more beyond just the weekends!

Sources: http://envirocancer.cornell.edu/factsheet/diet/fs37.hormones.cfms

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/safer-food-healthier-you

http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/ofp/ofp.shtml

http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/ag101/impactantibiotics.html

http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/about-sarep/def

http://seattleorganicrestaurants.com/vegan-whole-foods/hormones-gmos-harms/

http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/bookstore/foodqa/ch6/6-13.htm

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Food_pesticides_and_other_chemicals

http://www.sodahead.com/living/would-you-be-able-to-eat-only-locally-grown-food-for-a-month/question-1811389/