I was delighted to visit with my friend and fellow nutritionist Erika Weissenborn this morning. We enjoyed licorice tea and baked oatmeal on this very rainy day in Vancouver. As we caught up, I quickly remembered how wonderful she is and how fortunate I am to have people like her in my life. It is easy to look ahead and be excited or anxious about what's to come, but she reminded me the importance of staying present and being thankful for what we both have accomplished. I shared with her a conversation I had had earlier this week with another friend who asked, "What would you suggest to someone who can't afford to buy organic, but wants to eat well?" I have a few tricks of my own, but I thought Erika's insights were extremely constructive and important to share before giving my tips. She expressed the importance of understanding that our most valuable possession is our body not our money. If we can change our thoughts to put our health first, we would never worry about spending a little more on organic, locally grown foods. I understand we live in a world where the bottom dollar is usually the deciding factor, but all I ask is that you try to keep your body in mind when grocery shopping, choosing what you want for dinner, and deciding how you want to live your life.
You are your most important asset so choose to do things that are best for you
Why Buy Organic?
Organic foods have been shown to contain significantly higher amounts of vitamins and minerals. They are not chemically sprayed, which means your body will not be ingesting any harmful pesticides that can affect your digestive system, cardiovascular health, and brain function. Organic also means non-GMO (genetically modified organism) a.k.a. the seeds have not been scientifically altered in a lab. GMO foods are quickly taking up the majority of shelf space in supermarkets and it has been shown the body cannot assimilate them the way it can 'naturally' grown foods. Furthermore, infertility, immune function, accelerated aging, and irregular blood sugar are among some of the serious health risks associated with genetically modified foods.
Tips for Saving Money When Shopping Organically
- Shop in Season - Organic produce will always be more most economically when in season. I try to buy larger amounts of fruits and veggies when they are in season and then freeze/dry/can them. This helps us save money and enjoy fruits like blueberries all year round.
- Buy in Bulk - I worked as the bulk foods manager at the Market on Yates before moving to Vancouver to study nutrition so I know just how cost-effective shopping in this department can be. I buy all my grains, legumes, and nuts in bulk, which saves on money and packaging. When I look at some of the packaged food prices as I am perusing down the aisles, I am constantly shocked to see the huge jump in prices within the same store.
- Use Handy Apps - I recently discovered the Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide app for iPhone, which lists all the certified non-GMO foods by brand and product and it is free! This app lists all organic and conventional products that are certified non-GMO so you can feel confident about the purchases you make. Many larger supermarkets also have smartphone apps that allow you to easily view the weekly ads, download coupons, or review seasonal recipes.
- Stock-up on Sales - Some of the hardest things to transition into buying organically are more expensive items like oils, maple syrup, and cleaning products. These are items I try and keep on my radar so anytime I am shopping and see they are marked down, I will grab a bottle or two to keep in the cupboard. That way I never have to buy them at regular price, which can be anywhere from 25-50% more.
- Visit Farmers Markets - The Vancouver Farmers Markets has become one of my favourite things about this city. I love going down on Saturday mornings to buy fresh produce, honey, nuts, baked goods, eggs, and meat from the farmers themselves. If you have a question about how the food is raised you can ask them right there! Everything comes from well within 100 miles, the quality is superb, and your only option is to buy seasonally.
- Clip Coupons - Finally, you can always save money by using coupons. There are a few free booklets, like the Healthy Shopper coupon book, that I will pick up once a year, flip through, and save the ones for brands I already buy. Try to avoid saving coupons for things you don't buy, as this will only end up costing more money. You can sometimes find coupons online on the company websites that you can print-out and larger supermarkets like Whole Foods also offer printable online coupons you can use in their store.
Happy Valentine's Day! I will use any holiday as an excuse to bake something delicious. For this celebration of love, I decided to try a recipe I have been thinking about for some time now. I tried Earnest Ice Cream's Vegan Coconut Kaffir Lime Ice Cream and it was decadent, but it got me thinking... Why not try and bake a gluten-free coconut flour and limey dessert? Voila! February 14th arrived and we have cookies. I decided to still use organic butter and eggs in this recipe, so they are not considered vegan, but you could easily substitute if that was your target audience.
- Coconut flour is made from coconut meat, which is an excellent source of fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E. It also contains potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and iron. Coconut is an excellent source of fibre as well. Its flour contains almost twice the amount of fibre compared to wheat bran.
- Since it is Valentine's, it is only appropriate to try and promote a happy heart too. Limes (and lemons) contain powerful phytonutrients, which are fierce antioxidants that help to protect and maintain a healthy heart. Limes are an excellent source of Vitamin C; a main antioxidant helping to reduce oxidative damage in the body.
1/4 cup butter, room temp
1/4 cup coconut oil
zest & juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cane sugar
1 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
crack of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a stand-up mixer, combine wet ingredients and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix until just combined. Roll dough into two balls, place in a reusable container, and stick in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill. Roll dough out to about 1 cm thick and cut with favourite cookie cutters. Sprinkle with colourful demerara sugar if desired. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks. Enjoy with loved ones on this special occasion!
- Haas, E. (2006). Staying healthy with nutrition: The complete guide to diet & nutritional medicine. New York: Ten Speed Press.
- Mateljan, G. (2007). The world’s healthiest foods. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation.