January: Upgrade Your Favorite Foods
This new year, instead of making the usual resolutions that we’ve given up on by the end of January, we decided to break it up by dividing some big goals into manageable chunks. Each month, we will invite you to overhaul one aspect of your life to reduce toxins, improve health, and increase your peace of mind. Our promise is that these changes will be easy to implement, and we hope will help you avoid the typical resolution overwhelm.
Happy January! This month, let’s work on improving your diet in a super easy way—by simply upgrading the foods you already love, including sugars, fats, packaged snacks, and even wine!
Read on for ways to enjoy better health with zero deprivation.
Resolution #1: Upgrade the sugar you eat.
I never tell my health coaching clients to give up sugar because it’s just too hard! But what I do tell people—and which I’ve seen be highly effective for my clients—is upgrading to a higher quality sugar.
First, be sure to stock your pantry with healthier sugar options for any baking you do at home. For example, replace white cane sugar and brown sugar with coconut sugar, maple sugar, date sugar, maple syrup, or honey. I’ve found that you can always reduce the amount of sugar called for in recipes without sacrificing taste. Sometimes, you can skip sugar entirely and simply use bananas or dates.
If you do decide to eat sugary desserts when you are out of the house, it’s of course critical to limit your intake. Try to take one small bite and savor it, share a dessert with a friend, and be ok with leaving it on the plate after a couple of bites.
Resolution #2: Upgrade the fat you eat.
By now you know that some fat is healthful. The bulk of your fats will ideally come from plant sources, like nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocados, and nut butters like almond butter, cashew butter, and sun butter.
If you choose to eat dairy fats, they should be kept to a minimum, and they should be upgraded to organic and grass fed. I prefer ghee (clarified butter), which in Ayurvedic philosophy is considered a health food. Ghee is especially good for sautéing, since it has a higher smoke point than butter.
When it comes to vegetable oils, the healthiest are olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and toasted sesame oil (as flavor in Asian dishes). Avoid canola, soybean, sunflower, and safflower oils, which are highly processed and almost always genetically modified.
Olive oil is not all created equal. You’ll want to choose high-grade organic extra virgin olive oil and only use it raw, since once you cook it, the healthful compounds are killed. If you want to use olive oil for cooking, purchase an organic extra virgin that isn’t as expensive as the higher grade ones. For the absolute best olive oil, we recommend Organic Olea Blue, which has the highest levels of anti-inflammatory oleocanthal.
Resolution #3: Upgrade your booze.
I like beer and wine, as well as the occasional cocktail. When I decide to indulge in alcohol, I like to buy high quality beers from small breweries like they have in Vermont, or very high quality organic wine.
I have always preferred white wine, but studies show red is a little healthier, so I’ve been working to find reds that I like (namely, ones that don’t feel harsh or hot on my throat). Since I always buy organic grapes (they are a Dirty Dozen produce item, after all), I’ve always been concerned about the wine that isn’t organic.
I tried some organic wines over the years, and the only one I found that I liked was Bonterra Organic Chardonnay, and even that wasn’t incredible. I was very excited to find Dry Farm wines, a wine subscription service that I delivers only organic, biodynamic, low-sugar wines.
I love both the reds and whites I’ve received from Dry Farm Wines, ordered their red bottles and and really loved the taste of the red wines which are organic and sourced from small traditional vineyards. All of Dry Farm’s wines are imported, because all United States wine is contaminated with Roundup (the Monsanto weed killer). Because the high-quality wines sourced by Dry Farms are lower in alcohol than conventional wines, you’ll feel better after a couple of glasses.
Resolution #4: Upgrade packaged snacks.
Most healthy eating plans tell you to give up packaged foods, and this is very good advice! However, this month, I encourage you to simply upgrade your snacks. Some of my favorites are:
Roasted seaweed snacks (great source of bioavailable iodine, polyphenol antioxidants may lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of breast cancer). Be sure to look for the seaweed snacks that don’t have canola oil and are prepared with no oil or olive oil.
Most small packaged yogurts, even the organic varieties have too much sugar to be healthy. I find that it’s better to buy whole fat plain yogurt because just having milk fat adds lots of flavor and you need less sugar. You can add fruit or you can get the Wallaby Organic Greek Yogurt that is sweetened with honey. Check our Safe Yogurt Guide for more on which yogurt is Good Stuff.
Popcorn is a great, whole-grain snack for older kids (because of choking risk I am more cautious with younger ones), but sometimes we don’t have time to make it in our hot air popper. On those days, I love LesserEvil’s Himalayan Pink Popcorn, which contains just popcorn, coconut oil, and Himalayan sea salt.
For more ideas go to Maia’s blog Healthy Packaged Snacks for Kids.
Resolution #5: Go green.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to up the nutritional content of your food is to simply add greens to whatever you are eating as often as you can.
Buy pre-washed greens,and keep spinach, mixed greens, arugula, or micro greens in your fridge and toss some high grade olive oil on your greens with some fresh lemon or high grade balsamic vinegar. I live to chop basil and fresh parsley on all kinds of meals for extra greens. I never have eggs without adding greens. Make January the month that you eat greens everyday.
Maia, Founder & CEO
P.S. You’ll notice in this post that I’ve linked a variety of ingredients to Thrive Market. If you aren’t familiar with Thrive, I encourage you to give it a try. It’s a Costco meets Whole Foods meets Amazon model, with hard-to-find healthful foods delivered, for free, at steeply discounted prices. We’ve partnered with Thrive to get you $60 off your first three orders.
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I am fine with eating it, although I don’t eat it that often. I especially like it for flavoring popcorn. Most people use it for flavoring in place of dairy. It also does have some nutritional value.
Any thoughts on Nutritional yeast?
How do we get $60 from Thrive? I clicked from your website but there was no further information on the discount.
Love your website.
I just read an interesting article on Bonterra Wines! I’m attaching the link!
Happy New Year to Y’all!!
Wow, thank you! We love when our readers reach out with information that is important to know. We cannot possibly know everything. I used to drink Bonterra Chardonnay but I did get suspicious when I found Dry Farm wines because they said that not one US produced wine was pure enough for them. Thanks again! http://www.dryfarmwines.com/gimme