Tips for Healthy Eating

Hello everyone. Here are some tips for choosing healthy foods to eat. 

1. Color your plate.
Make sure to include a variety of colors on your plate throughout the day by trying different fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. Eating a variety of all of these natural foods will ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs daily. 

2. Eat fresh foods.
Although snacking on a handful of raisins is better than a handful of chips, choosing fresh fruits and vegetables is always best. Most dried foods are packed with added sweeteners and preservatives. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible but if eating dried fruits, make sure to choose ones that don't have any additives. These are hard to find, but are refrigerated in health food stores due to the lack of preservatives.

3. Only buy food in a package if it's something you could make yourself.
I'm talking about foods such as breads and crackers that can be made at home but we don't always have the time and energy to make. These are okay to buy in a package, just make sure you read the ingredient list. If a packaged food has too many ingredients and/or ingredients that you can't even pronounce, then it is full of preservatives and additives that are not good for you. Check out my post on reading a food package for more detailed information: http://apurifiedlife.blogspot.com/2012/05/whats-in-your-food-reading-food-package.html

4. Don't be fooled by the packaging.
Reading labels is important. Marketing is everywhere and words like "All-natural," "organic," "hormone free," and "no additives" on packages are just a way to get you to buy the product. Make sure to read everything on the package. Look for the USDA Organic label and read the ingredient list carefully to really know whether there are additives or not. Always know where your food comes from.

5. Eat seasonal and local.
Nature knows best. Our body needs to be nourished differently during every season of the year. Seasonal fruits and vegetables provide us with the nutrients we need. Due to food processing, all types of fruits and vegetables are available year round at the grocery store but it doesn't mean that they are in season or have good nutritional value. Foods in season are fresher, have more flavor, and have a higher nutritional value. Ideally, the best place to shop at is at your local Farmer's Market. Farmer's Market only provides what's in season. If you don't have one close by, make sure you opt to buy organic and seasonal from your health food store (ask if you don't know which ones are in season).

6. If something can last months or years in your pantry, it's not real food.
Natural/whole food is meant to be eaten fresh and spoils easily. If you have food in your pantry or refrigerator that lasts forever, then it's not natural and you shouldn't eat it. Just think of all the chemicals that are added to a food in order for it to last months or years without spoiling, not very appealing if you ask me.

7. Eat whole foods.
Whole foods provide the most nutrients and are meant to nourish the body. Most foods available are broken down and are not in their original form. Eating whole foods means eating the most natural form. A lot of times when something is fat free or low fat means that it is substituted with other ingredients like sugar or artificial sweeteners. It is important to read the labels (especially for dairy products) and make sure that there are no added sugars, otherwise, it is better to get the whole food form. Fat is a very important nutrient for the body and it is okay to consume natural whole fat products such as eating a whole egg (egg white and yolk) or eating full fat yogurt and cheese as long as portions sizes are kept small and there is awareness of other fat containing foods in the diet such as nuts/seeds, oils, and avocado. Everything in moderation. I used to be scared of full fat dairy products, but now that I am learning more about whole food and how important it is for health I'm no longer in a fat-free craze and am able to enjoy a whole egg or piece of cheese without thinking I'm eating something bad. I opt for choosing the best quality fats and if I decide to buy low-fat yogurt for example, I make sure it only has the live cultures and no additives. Also, make sure to get organic dairy and look for pasture-raised eggs and meats for the best quality. 

8. Balance your meals.
Take a look at your plate once you've served it. There should be a balance between carbohydrates, protein, and fat. If you're eating a bowl of oats with fruit, all you have there are carbohydrates and small amounts of protein from the oats, try adding dairy or nuts to get more protein and some fat. Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables are sources of carbohydrates also.

9. Plan ahead.
Eating healthy is not easy and takes a lot of planning. Planning ahead is good for both snacks and meals. Have a healthy snack with you at all times to avoid going for something out of a vending machine when you're stuck at work/school. Small amounts of a left over meal is also a good snack to have. For meal planning, I usually cook my grains and/or legumes on Sunday night to have ready for the rest of the week and be able to prepare my meals faster. All I have to worry about then is chopping up my vegetables and cooking a piece of fish or chicken which usually takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare. Check out my post on healthy snacks for some ideas: http://apurifiedlife.blogspot.com/2012/04/happy-snacking.html


The World's Healthiest Foods http://whfoods.com
Balanced bites http://balancedbites.com
Natural Chef Training Program, Bauman College


Homemade Almond Milk

Almond milk is a great dairy-free alternative if you have a lactose intolerance or simply like the taste better. Making your own at home is both fun and healthier because it doesn't have all the added sugars, oils, and preservatives that the store-bought ones do. It is low in calories and contains healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Making it is very simple and you don't need a lot of equipment or ingredients. In 10 minutes you will have delicious almond milk to add to your oats, make a sauce with, or simply drink a fresh cold cup of.

Plain almond milk has a great rich flavor, but you can use natural sweeteners to give it additional flavor if you would like. I love it plain! 

You will need

Nut milk bag or cheese cloth
Large pitcher or bowl


1 cup of almonds (soaked overnight in filtered water and drained)
5 cups filtered water

Flavoring options:

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 pitted dates (Medjool or Deglet)

  1. Soak almonds overnight in filtered water. Soaking overnight makes them more digestible and increases nutritional value. If you forget to soak them overnight, soaking them 4-6 hours before is good enough. 
  2. Drain almonds and rinse well.
  3. Add almonds and water to blender and blend until smooth (may take a few minutes)
  4. Place nut milk bag or cheesecloth in bowl or pitcher and pour mixture through it. Gently squeeze to strain until all liquid is extracted from solids. Enjoy!


Almond milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
You can save the solids (pulp) to use in other recipes like smoothies, hummus, crackers, or dehydrate to get almond flour for baking. 


Adapted from Flavors of Health by Ed. Bauman, Ph.D. and Lizette Marx, N.C.


Choosing Healthy Fats

Extra virgin olive oil, ground flax seeds, raw almond butter, avocado, extra virgin coconut oil, goat cheese, raw walnut butter

Fats are essential for our body. Meaning we need to include them in our diet in order to survive. About 60% of our brain is made up of fat. Choosing the wrong kinds of fats and oils or not treating them properly can lead to increased risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

The best types of fats are the unsaturated fats, which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are important for the body and are known to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and exist naturally in unrefined oils (olive oil), avocados, almonds, walnuts, seeds, and unrefined seed oils. Polyunsaturated fats are the essential omega-3 and omega-6 fats that exist naturally in seeds, nuts, legumes, green leafy vegetables, cold water fish, and some grains. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats that a person should get is 2:1 or 4:1. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and exist in flax, hemp, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, and cold water fish. Omega-6 fatty acids are in safflower, sesame, sunflower, soy, canola, and corn oils and in meats. Most Americans consume excessive amounts of omega-6 in their diets and not enough omega-3. It is important to keep a balance of these in order to improve health.

The other types of fats are the saturated fats and trans fats, these are the fats that are solid at room temperature and are most harmful for your health. Saturated fats exist in animal protein (red meat is the highest in fat), dairy, butter, and lard. Trans fats are synthetically produced and exist in processed foods like fast food, pastries (crisco, margarine), and candies. The best way to avoid these fats is by reducing consumption of commercially processed foods.

Knowing what types of fats to use when cooking is important. Fats and oils can get damaged if heated above their melting point and become rancid and harmful to us. Olive oil, for example, has a low melting point of 325 F and should not be used for sautéing, grilling, roasting, or baking at high temperatures. It is recommended to be used without heating like in a salad dressings or drizzled over already cooked foods. Choosing unrefined oils and naturally occurring fats is best. Refined oils usually have a higher smoke point, but are chemically processed and don't provide any nutrients. Here is a list of good quality fats and oils to use and their smoke points:

Smoke Point (°F)
Unrefined Flax Seed Oil
Shouldn’t be heated
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Shouldn’t be heated. Contains nourishing substances (antioxidant) that are harmed when heated close to 300 F. Use as seasoning after cooking.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Good for low heat sauteing or roasting
Toasted Sesame Oil
Okay for low heat sauteing or roasting, but best if used as seasoning after cooking.
Unrefined Sesame Oil
Good for medium heat 
Good for medium heat 
Unrefined Palm Oil
Good for medium-high heat
Almond Oil*
Good for medium-high heat
Grapeseed Oil**
Good for high heat
Extra Virgin Tea Seed Oil
Good for high heat
Ghee or Clarified Butter
Good for high heat
Avocado Oil*
Good for high heat

*Almond oil and avocado oil are refined oils, but are the best choices if any of the others are not available because they still contain some monounsaturated fats. 

**Grapeseed oil is a good option, but also very high in omega-6 fatty acids which are usually already over consumed. 

Note that it is also important to use the best quality of unrefined fats and oils. Go for organic products when possible. Should be USDA Organic Certified. 

I recommend using virgin coconut oil when cooking with high heat. Coconut oil has many health benefits, It supports thyroid function, heart health, and helps prevention of Alzheimer's. Although it has many health supportive benefits, it is still a saturated fat, and like everything else, should be consumed in moderation. It does have a strong taste and will penetrate through your food, but I find it quite tasty. My personal favorite way to cook is to do a "healthy sauté" with chicken broth or vegetable broth instead of oil and I like to get my fats from other foods like raw nuts, seeds, olive oil (without heating), and animal proteins. Keep in mind that the recommended daily servings for seeds and/or oils is 2-3. A serving size would equal 1 Tablespoon oil or 2 Tablespoons seeds. 

I hope this gives you some guidance when choosing what type of fats to consume in order to live a healthier life and reduce risk for diseases. 


Flavors of Health by Ed Bauman, Ph.D. and Lizette Marx, N.C.
Natural Chef Training Program Textbook, Bauman College


What's in your food? -Reading a Food Package

I believe that learning to shop and read food packages is a major key element in health. Reading the package and Nutrition Facts panel of a food product can be a bit challenging. What should we look for? Most of us just turn it around and look at how many calories, fat, or sugar it contains and disregard the most important information on the packaging: INGREDIENTS. This will tell you exactly what you are ingesting into your body. Reading the ingredient list is the quickest way to filter out anything that is not good for you. I strive to buy mainly natural fresh products when I go to the grocery store, but there are some things that do come in a package and reading the ingredient list is the first thing I do regardless of what the packaging says.

Here are some guidelines to follow when reading the ingredient list of a product:

  • First of all, if it has more than 5 or 6 ingredients, it's probably already not good for you. Processed foods contain a high amount of ingredients that are added to preserve texture, flavor, and shelf life and most are harmful to our health.
  • Ingredients are listed in descending order. Avoid products with added sugars that are not natural. Most processed foods hide the presence of sugar with names like "evaporated cane juice/syrup," "corn syrup," "high fructose corn syrup," "fructose," "maltodextrin," "natural flavors," and many others. If something contains added sugar, it is most likely refined and will only spike your blood sugar and leave you wanting more. 
  • Avoid products that contain "partially hydrogenated oils," which are trans fats. A trans fat occurs when a oil is chemically processed in order to be solid at room temperature. The consumption of trans fats can lead to an increased risk for heart disease. Note that the FDA allows manufacturers to list "0 trans fats" if the product contains 0.5g or less of trans fats, which is why it's important to read the ingredient list.
  • When buying bread: Avoid flours that are "refined," "unrefined," "enriched," "bleached," and "unbleached." These are all processes that harm the grain and don't provide the nutrients that the whole grain provides. Look for products that list "100% whole wheat" or "100% whole grain" and watch those added sugars like I mentioned previously. Bread should not contain added sugars or fats/oils. 
  • Watch out for "soy lecithin." Soy lecithin is an oily substance that is extracted from soy beans. It is added to many processed foods and used as an emulsifier (helps keep ingredients together). Most soy is genetically modified (GMO) and it is important to avoid this ingredient in food and/or look for Organic and non-GMO Soy lecithin. 

Now that you have read your ingredient list, let's take a closer look at the Nutrition Facts panel and what are key facts you should focus on:

  • Serving Size and Servings Per Container- Keep these in mind and remember that the information listed is the amount per serving, not per container. 
  • Calories- Make sure these are fairly low and look out for foods with 200 or more calories per serving because overconsumption is more common and may lead to double or triple the calories, especially if you eat the entire package. 
  • Total Fat- This will help you manage the amount of fat you consume daily and remember it is listed as grams per serving and this too could add up if consuming an entire package of something. 
  • Saturated Fat- These are the fats that you should limit the consumption of to avoid an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. Note that saturated fats occur naturally in meats, dairy, and refined oils and should also be monitored. Choose leaner meats like chicken and fish and low-fat or nonfat dairy products when possible. 
  • Trans Fat- These are the kinds of fats that should be avoided completely and are very harmful for our health. 
  • Unsaturated Fat (Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated)- These fats exist naturally in nuts, seeds, unrefined oils, and grains. 
  • Sodium- Most processed foods are packed with sodium. Avoid added sodium as much as possible and look for "sea salt" in the ingredient list to avoid refined salt. 
  • Dietary Fiber- If consuming a food product that claims to be "whole wheat" or "whole grain," it should have at least 3g of fiber per serving.
  • Sugar- Look for products low in sugar and look at ingredient list to make sure there isn't any added sugar. Fruit is naturally high in sugar. 
  • Protein- This is a good way to keep track of total protein daily intake especially if you're a vegetarian or vegan and need to get protein from other sources other than animal products. Nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains can all provide protein for these diets. 
The FDA has some standard rules that food manufacturers have to follow when writing nutrition facts and claims on food packaging. Here are some common claims and what they really mean:

Food Claim
One Serving Contains
Sugar Free
Less than 0.5g of sugar
Fat Free
Less than 0.5g of fat
Low Fat
3g of fat or less
Reduced Fat or Less Fat
At least 25% less fat than regular product
Low in Saturated Fat
1g of sat fat or less
Less than 10g of fat, 4.5g of sat fat and 95mg of cholesterol
Extra Lean
Less than 5g of fat, 2g of sat fat and 95mg of cholesterol
Light or Lite
At least 1/3 fewer calories or no more than half the fat of the regular product
Cholesterol Free
Less than 2mg of cholesterol and 2g or less of sat fat
Low Cholesterol
20 or fewer mg of cholesterol and 2g or less of sat fat
Reduced Cholesterol
At least 25% less cholesterol than the regular product and 2g or less of sat fat
Sodium Free or No Sodium
Less than 5mg and no sodium chloride listed in ingredients
Very Low Sodium
35mg or less of sodium
Low Sodium
140mg or less of sodium
Reduced or Less Sodium
At least 25% less than the regular product
High Fiber
5g or more of fiber
Good Source of Fiber
2.5 to 4.9g of fiber

You now have all the tools to hopefully be able to make healthier choices when buying packaged foods at the grocery store. Feel free to refer back to this whenever you need and/or print it out. You can also contact me with further questions. I am happy to be of assistance and help get you one step closer to purifying your health!


The World's Healthiest Foods http://whfoods.com/
Bauman College