Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why You Always Need to Read Ingredient Labels + Roasted Tri-Color Carrots with Chickpeas & Kale

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is getting excited and gearing up for the holidays. While thinking about what I wanted to post on here, I decided to share a recent incident I had at Whole Foods that left me pretty enraged.

Here's a bit of background: I try to cook every meal at home, unless I am out for the day or have plans with friends. This includes when I go to work. I wake up every morning about an hour or so before I have to leave so I can not only cook breakfast, but prepare a lunch for myself as well.

This particular morning, I had to do some writing and also had a chiropractor appointment before work, so I was unable to cook myself any breakfast or lunch. I figured I would just stop by Whole Foods and pick up some clean-eating breakfast and lunch. When trying to think of the healthiest place to get food, I figured, why not Whole Foods?

Boy, was I wrong. It was actually a struggle to find any lunch there that looked light, clean, or plant-based. So I lowered my standards. I decided to look at a Turkey and Swiss Wrap that seemed promising— that is, until I read the label. Not only did the sandwich have added cane sugar, but it had corn syrup solids high up on the ingredient list. Corn syrup solids. In a turkey wrap. I don't even know where these sugars were added, whether it was the dressing, the tortilla, the turkey itself — it didn't say. But I was livid.

Personally, I don't prefer sugar in my sandwiches. But what made me the most upset is that this was happening at Whole Foods. It's one thing if you're going to Subway with the preconceived notion that your sandwich isn't going to be pure. It's a another thing to walk into one of the most well-known health food stores in this country and pick up a sandwich that not only contains sugar, but corn syrup. I'm sure most people aren't like me and don't read every single label on their food, so they go into Whole Foods thinking they are getting the cleanest and healthiest ingredients. Little do they know...

Anyway, in my disappointment, I tweeted at Whole Foods:

And then they responded this:

For those who don't know, HFCS stands for "High Fructose Corn Syrup." While HFCS is inevitably worse for you than sugar or or regular corn syrup, cane sugar and corn syrup are refined sugars, which means they too are bad for you. I was surprised to read that they allow corn syrup to be part of their ingredients.

Feeling deflated, this is what I said back:

And they responded with this:

Here's the thing. I notified them that it was at the Beverly Hills location, but I was in Brentwood today and the same sandwich had the same ingredients. I'm sure many other locations do as well. This just emphasizes to me that no matter where you go, even if the place claims to be healthy or all-natural, you have to check ingredients. There are a lot of claims out there, but it's up to you to make sure you are cognizant of the ingredients that go into these foods.

To prevent this post from being too melancholy, I've decided to included a super-clean and super-colorful recipe that's sure to brighten your mood!

Roasted Tri-Color Carrots with Herbed Chickpeas, Kale, and Pan-Fried Tomatoes

5 carrots (a mixture of orange, yellow, and purple)
1/2 cup chickpeas
2 cups of kale
3 medium tomatoes
1 small lemon
Garlic powder
Dried parsley
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss chickpeas with olive oil and a generous dash of cumin, garlic powder, paprika and dried parsley. 
2. Place aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Spread carrots out on sheet, leaving room for chickpeas, and drizzle with olive oil. Place chickpeas on baking sheet as well, making sure they are evenly spread.
3. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes, until carrots are tender and chickpeas are crispy.
4. While carrots and chickpeas are roasting, heat olive oil in a pan. Slice tomatoes and lemon thinly, and saute in the pan with kale, evenly coating kale with olive oil. 
5. When carrots and chickpeas are finished, place on top kale and tomato mixture. Season with olive oil and lemon as needed. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dining Out and Healthy Eating + Kale & Quinoa Salad with Vegan Green Goddess Dressing

Hello everyone! I hope you all are having a happy and healthy week.

First off, I wanted to let everyone know that I will now be a contributing nutrition and wellness writer for Bustle! I'm very excited to have a venue to write and research about all things healthy! You can read my articles here.

Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is how to manage eating out at restaurants. I find it important to balance my passion for clean eating with my desire to try many different types of food, as I am still a foodie at heart and get great enjoyment out of trying different things. I have always believed in balance, in both the mind and body, and in what you are actually consuming. If something sounds delicious to me, I'm not going to deprive myself and let myself suffer. But where do you draw the line?

I'm sure many people who strive to eat as cleanly and healthfully as possible run into this issue when eating out with friends. I have NEVER been one to deny myself something delicious just because it is bad for you, but this should only be happening on occasion. I don't want to let my healthy habits fall by the wayside because I am constantly out with friends indulging in rich foods. The problem with this though, is that being a healthy eater often comes with the stigma of being a picky eater.

What do you do if your friends all want to eat somewhere, but you have dietary restrictions? It's pretty common to hear people mocking vegans or people who are gluten free, even though there is validity in them choosing not to eat those foods. I definitely don't want to be difficult when I'm out with people, but I also have been realizing I shouldn't forego my personal health just to appease people.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a case of me not wanting to eat a piece of cake because I'm worried about my weight (not that anyone should be judged for that either). The problem is the negative stigma attached to wanting to eat cleanly consistently. I live a pretty on-the-go lifestyle, and it would be unrealistic for me to dictate every place we went to eat. I have just been thinking about the judgment that comes along with trying to put the best foods into your body, and that you shouldn't have to feel shamed for trying to eat purely. Most importantly, I feel that all of these issues would be solved if we had a greater number of healthy and clean food options that could appeal to a majority of people. But until then...

Kale & Quinoa Salad with Vegan Green Goddess Dressing and Avocado


1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups kale, chopped finely
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup cooked lentils
1/2 avocado

For Dressing:

1/4 raw soaked cashews
Juice of 1 small lemon
5 basil leaves
2 small cloves of garlic
2 stalks of green onion
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Cook quinoa and lentils according to package instructions. Chop kale and tomatoes.
2. Massage kale gently with olive oil.
3. Blend dressing ingredients until smooth.
4. Toss all ingredients together with dressing, and top with sliced avocado.