Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Emmy's Organics

I am a small business owner, so any story that involves a small business that makes it big always excites me.  And Emmy's Organics is no exception!  Started by Samantha and Ian (out of Ian's mom Emmy's kitchen), this little business idea began with coconut macaroons and expanded to include trail mix, granola, sprouted foods and even chocolate sauce!  All of their products are not only super delish, but also vegan, raw and gluten free!  You just can't get better than that.

When I opened the box from Emmy's, I was first immediately impressed by their packaging. I am a packaging snob and a former advertising designer, so I always look for great logos, color combinations and overall brand feel.  They had very clean and crisp labeling, with vibrant, but natural, colors and I always love the matching packaging designs, with just a little color variance. I received 4 flavors of macaroons and one small sample of chocolate sauce.

I should probably say that I had *just* come off of a modified juice fast when this box arrived and all of the flavors just popped like crazy mad on my poor, neglected taste buds! ;)  But, I saved some of each and tried them again yesterday and they all still tasted amazing. So, no juice fasting required!

Ok, down to business...

Coconut Vanilla - If you like coconut, but don't like too many other crazy flavors, this one is for you!  I was obsessed with the subtle vanilla flavor these had. Very coconutty, but that's sort of the point with macaroons, huh!?  These are perfectly sweetened with seriously the most amazing vanilla flavor, and ingredients you can live with.

Dark Cacao -The chocolate flavor of these was intense and perfect.  Again, a little coconutty, but duh. Seriously. Amazeballs. Rich, decadent, to die for, and still a healthy treat!

Lemon Ginger - I am kind of a lemon freak. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors in anything, and these were perfectly flavored. Not too sour, but you could definitely taste the lemon, with a slight hint of ginger. I really liked these.

Mint Chip - So, I'm not going to lie. These were MY FAVE. I nearly ate all three at once because they were that good. But, instead I just ate half of them. Such. Restraint!  The chocolate and mint didn't seem like they'd be a good combo with the coconut, but they were perfect. Still very coconutty, so if you DO NOT LIKE COCONUT, then these are not for you, but seriously. Why ya buying coconut macaroons if you don't like coconut anyway, amiright?   If you like anything chocolate/mint, then you MUST order these pronto.  The mint was a combo of spearmint and peppermint, which is what made these the chicken dinner winner.  Unless you're vegan, which means these were the "chicken" dinner winner.  But either way, winning.

Chocolate Sauce - This was just evil. Here I am on a juice fast and there's this little pot of chocolatey, drippy goodness for me to try.  How is it possible this is still healthy??  It's like magic, or something.  I wish you could taste this for yourself....oh wait!  You can.  Hop on over to their shop and get yourself some of this!  It would go perfectly on some homemade almond flour brownies, fresh fruit, or coconut ice cream.  Or a spoon....not saying I did that, but it could be an option for you!  

Overall, I am very pleased with this product.  So, if you're looking for a sweet treat that won't send you into sugar coma or make your jeans shrink, then you definitely need to give Emmy's a try!  And check out their facebook page while you're out here on the interwebz.  Tell them Whole to Healthy sent you!!  xoxo

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Some berries.

I have something that I need to get off my chest.  I've only been in nutrition school for 3 years now, but I've been a dieting fool for as long as I can remember.  Not only have I dieted, lost weight, fallen off "the wagon", got back on, lost the weight *again*...repeat, repeat, repeat, but I've seen countless friends and family members do the same thing.  I've also worked in the weight loss and wellness field and heard similar stories from all of them, not to mention from my current clients. There’s something seriously wrong with this picture.

There’s no secret that the obesity rate in our country has reached epic proportions, but the bigger problem, in my mind (and most likely a culprit of it), is the dieting epidemic.  All too often we start a diet, only to abruptly end it when we feel like we've failed. We couldn't sustain this way of eating long enough to reach our weight goals, let alone for a lifetime. Then, where do we go? Some sort of "diet wonderland" that rests magically in the middle of perfect and horrible?  Nope, we end up going right back to where we were eating before: Crapville.

Recently, I've read two blog posts by a local physician who leans heavily towards a paleo way of eating, and the wording he used bothered me. He suggested that the vast majority of people should be eating "grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, nuts, and seeds, with carbohydrate sources only from vegetables and some berries". Honestly, I don't care what any one particular person eats. If they are healthy and successful at keeping up that way of eating without feeling deprived or without having to restart week after week, then more power to them. Had these blogs been directed to a paleo community I wouldn’t have thought twice, but these blogs were directed to the general public. A public that is already overwhelmingly confused with what is “right” and “wrong”.

Our country does not have a fruit eating problem.  I don't even think we have a grain eating problem, technically.  And no one that I know has a protein deficiency, that's for sure. What we do have is a country that doesn't eat ENOUGH fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole grains.   But, most people that I know, past and current clients included, DO have a vegetable and fruit eating deficiency.  So, when a doctor recommends "some berries", like that's the only choice of fruits, it really bothers me. And here's why:

I don't know the exact percentage, but I'm just going to go out on a limb and say that well over half of this country is eating Standard American Diet (SAD). If you don't know what this is, it's basically all packaged, heavily processed foods with an emphasis on fast foods, soda pop, white breads, white rice, white pasta and lots of transfats and sugar.  Telling someone who is currently eating SAD to only get carbs from "vegetables and some berries" makes we want to scream that this is what's already wrong with the world!!  This is no different than when I tried to just eat grapefruit to lose weight, or when I tried the atkins diet, regrettably.  If it's too strict for me to do long term, then it certainly isn't something to START OUT with.  If my client is on a SAD, I would gradually get them to eat more and more veggies and eliminate some of the obvious bad habits, like fast food and pop on a daily basis. As they feel healthier and stronger from this change in foods, their taste buds will change and they'll start to desire even more healthy choices.  As eating more veggies becomes easier for them, then, and only then, would I recommend tweaking other areas of their food plan.  I want to empower my clients and make sure they feel in control along the way.  I don't want them caving in after 3 days and giving up completely, only to return to their daily junk food.  When you tell people in general to follow a diet, such as the paleo diet, or any restrictive diet for that matter, you are telling them (especially when a doctor or nutritionist is saying this!) that they can only be healthy if they follow this exact course.   I am here to tell you that isn't the case.  If you are already eating as clean and healthy as you possibly can, and you are STILL experiencing health concerns, and you've met with your physician to address underlying metabolic issues, then it is possible that you can start getting more restrictive with your food.  As you clean up your diet, these choices will not seem as overwhelming, and will therefore be more attainable. Most people can reach their desired health without getting that restrictive, however, so why start with the hardest possible answer?  

I have seen COUNTLESS clients get OFF medications while still eating...wait for it....GRAINS.  Gasp!  I know!  The horror!  I am not a doctor, but if my client can get off the diabetic medication that he's been taking for YEARS, while still eating a diet that he can sustain long term, even if it contains the dreaded grains, then I'm more than ok with that.  Don't shame him into thinking that he's not good enough because he ate more than just berries, or god forbid, had a paleo-ized dessert, or some brown rice.  

Moral of the story:  Treat the person where they are, not at the finish line.  Be responsible with your "health" recommendations and know that not everyone reading your blogs is as strong as you are, or in the right mind set.  They will get there, but on their own time. So, eat those berries, but don't hate yourself if you end up eating a few oranges....a kiwi....or even a watermelon or two.   And if you need a Paleo cupcake, made of coconut, eggs, raw honey and grass-fed butter, just to keep yourself from completely falling head first into a box of Krispy Kremes, then get with me. I can hook you up with a good whole-foods baker. 

Lose the wagon. Walking is better for you anyway. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Grilled salad is my boo!

Top left: romaine, bok choy, red cabbage, fennel
If you follow my facebook page you already know that I'm flat out addicted to grilled salad. What I love the most about this salad is that the combinations are really endless!

Here are some of my favorite veggies to grill right now:
Bok Choy
Portobello Mushrooms
Fennel (fronds removed)
Avocado (this sounds crazy, but OH.MY.GAWD, it's not)
Red onion
Cabbage/Brussels Sprouts
Romaine, of course

Really, any sturdy veggie would be great!

So, here's how to do it:

Slice a head of romaine in half.  Rinse super well, without tearing the leaves away from the stalk. You want that in tact so they will stay together on the grill.  This can be tricky!  I buy organic romaine, so there's always little bugs tucked away down in the nooks and crannies, but you can do this by pulling the leaves back and rinsing them as good as possible, then placing your romaine half, cut side down, onto a towel to drip dry while you prep the rest of your veggies. You don't want soggy lettuce, so make sure it gets fairly dry, but don't go too crazy worrying about it. 

Next, slice whatever other veggies you have into 1/4" slices. I like to brush them all with olive oil, salt and pepper, but I think any spice/seasoning will work well.

Finally, grill the veggies!  Now, wasn't that easy?  We like to put the romaine on the top rack because it will burn a little easier, so keep an eye on it.

Now, if you ask me, the best part of this whole meal is this simple sauce:

Smoky Tahini Sauce
Fennel, asparagus, avocado, romaine
(modified from this one)

1/2 cup tahini (this is ground sesame seeds. I've seen it at Meijer, and can usually be found in ethnic sections or health food shops)
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or more)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (to make this vegan use this recipe!)
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
salt, to taste
5-6 Tablespoons of water, depending on your desired consistency

Place all ingredients in a food processor, except water.  Gradually add water, 1 T at a time until you reach the consistency you want. Blend until smooth.

If this is too sour, add more tahini. If this is not spicy enough, add more smoked paprika or some sriracha.  You can really tweak it until you find your preferred taste. 

Romaine, avocado, asparagus, red onion, fennel
This dressing goes SO WELL with the grilled salad. The smoky flavors of the dressing really enhance the smoky flavors from the grill.  Oh, it's so yummy, I think I want it again tonight!  

I guess if you're going to be addicted to something, it might as well be veggies, right??

Peace, love and veggies!!  <3