Reading the code on your produce

One of the most frequent conversations I have with people is a mutual frustration that the FDA does not require special testing, regulations or labeling of genetically modified foods. The consumer has a right to know what is in their food and where it came from. So when I stubbled upon this bit of information I thought it is definitely something I need to share. 

When you are shopping for produce, you will notice a code written on each fruit/vegetable.This is the code that your grocer will type in or scan at the cash register.

For conventionally grown produce, this is a four digit code.  For organic produce, it is a five digit code that always starts with a 9, like the picture above.  Genetically modified produce also have a five digit code but it starts with an 8. I think its great to have this information for the next time I buy my produce and its fair to say that I will be staying away from the 8s.


An heirloom tomato salad

The thing I love the most about heirloom tomatoes is the colors. You get a range of yellows to purple to almost pink and sometimes greens. Plus it doesn't hurt that they are so full of flavor. 
This salad is great as a light lunch and really captures the flavors of the tomatoes. Plus, it also tastes really great with bread! I used Sea Salt Ciabatta from Whole Foods, but really any bread will taste great with this salad. And carbs schmarbs! Who's counting anyway!

Heirloom Tomato Salad


2-3 heirloom tomatoes 
1/4 cup of fresh mint
1/4 cup of fresh basil
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
half a lemon
dash of salt


Slice the tomatoes. Toss all the ingredients together and serve. Super easy! Enjoy!


What does it really mean?

Our supermarkets are full of food products that carry some type of health claim such as "free" "low" and "organic." Most consumers are not aware of what qualifies a certain label or what the label really implies. Here is a breakdown of the most common labels we see in the supermarket.

General Claims:
Has absolutely zero. Other synonyms might be “no” “without” “zero.” When you see this claim it is usually on products that are unlikely to have contained whatever it is free of in the first place.
“Good Source of”
There is about 10-19% of the Daily Value of that nutrient per serving
The product contains an amount that can be consumed often without going over the Daily Value. Also can be called “few” “little” and “low source of”
At least 25% less than a comparison food. Also can be called “fewer” “reduced”
Products provides 20% more of the Daily Value per serving
At least 10% more than a comparison food. Also can be called “added” “extra”
In order for a product to qualify for this label, it must be low in cholesterol, sodium, fat and saturated fat. It must also provide at least 10% of the daily value for Vitamins A and C, iron, protein, calcium, or fiber
This can be put on products that 95% of their ingredients have been grown and processed according to USDA regulations on fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, preservatives, and other chemical ingredients.
“Light” “Lite”
For this label, foods must have 1/3 fewer calories than a comparison food or 50% or less fat or sodium.

Pertaining to Energy:
“Calorie Free”
Fewer than 5 kcal per serving
“Low Calorie”
40 kcal or less per serving
“Reduced Calorie”
At 25% fewer kcal per serving than comparison food

Pertaining to Fat and Cholesterol”
“Less fat”
25% or less fat than comparison food
Less than 0.5 g. of fat per serving
“Low fat”
3 g or less fat per serving
“Percent Fat Free”
Must meet the definition of low fat/fat free and is defined by amount of fat per 100g.
“Saturated Fat Free”
Less than 0.5 g. of saturated fat AND less than 0.5 g. of trans fat per serving
“Low Saturated Fat”
Less than 25% of combined saturated and trans fat than comparison
“Trans-Fat Free”
Less than 0.5 g. of trans fat and less than 0.5 g. of saturated fat per serving
“Cholesterol Free”
Less than 2 mg of cholesterol per serving AND 2 g. or less of combined saturated and trans fat per serving
“Low Cholesterol”
20 mg. or less of cholesterol per serving AND 2 g. or less of combined saturated and trans fat per serving.
“Less Cholesterol”
25% or less cholesterol than comparison food AND 2 g. or less of combined saturated and trans fat per serving
“Extra Lean”
For every 100 g of meat, poultry and seafood, there needs to be less than 5g of fat, 2 g. or less of combined saturated and trans fat, and 95 mg of cholesterol per serving.
For every 100 g of meat, poultry and seafood, there needs to be less than 10g of fat, 4.5 g. or less of combined saturated and trans fat, and 95 mg of cholesterol per serving.

Pertaining to Carbohydrates:
“High Fiber”
5 g. or more fiber per serving
“Sugar Free”
Less than 0.5 g. of sugar per serving

Pertaining to Sodium:
“Sodium/Salt Free”
Less than 5 mg. of sodium per serving
“Low Sodium”
140 mg or less per serving
“Very Low Sodium”
35 mg or less per serving


Enjoy the weekend with a chunky lentil soup

Lentil soup is one of my favorites. Growing up, my mother used to make lentil soup by boiling lentils with carrots, onions, and potatoes until they are soft and then blending them to make a delicious creamy dish. Lately, I have been playing around with different variations of lentil soup and this one so far is looking to be a winner. I love the feel of the different textures in your mouth from the soft lentils to the zucchini.

Lentils are such an awesome source of nutrients. First and foremost they are loaded with folic acid. Folic acid has been proven to prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy. Recent studies have shown that women should start to take folic acid supplements or consume recommended amounts of folic acid in their diet starting from puberty all the way to menopause, basically all throughout their childbearing years. The recommended daily value of folate is 400 micrograms. Half a cup of lentils contains 179 micrograms and a cup of spinach contains 263 micrograms (both spinach and lentils are in this recipe). Lentils are also a great source of zinc, iron and copper.

Chunky Lentil Soup


1 cup of brown lentils
1 cup of chopped fresh spinach (or frozen)
1 zucchini, chopped
1 tomato, cubed
1 onion, chopped really fine
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
8 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
salt and pepper to taste


1. Pour the chicken broth, lentils, and half of the onions in a pot and bring to boil for about 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft and cooked through.
2. Add the zucchini, tomato, rest of the onions, spinach and cilantro and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
3. Add salt and pepper as you see fit (usually when I use chicken broth I don't add much spices because it is already flavorful and you are getting a lot of flavors from the vegetables.)


Welcoming autumn with a creamy pudding

Sometimes in the middle of the day I crave a light desert/snack, do you? I love this creamy pudding because its so easy and fast. Not to mention, I am trying to take advantage of last few fresh strawberries I have as autumn comes in. 

Milk pudding with graham cracker crumbs


1 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of corn starch
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons butter


1. Melt the butter and mix it with the crumbs. Place it on the bottom of you serving glass (do not pat it down, you want it to still be crumbly)
2. Pour milk with cornstarch and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to boil, constantly stirring with a whisk.
3. As milk boils and becomes thick, remove it from stove and allow it to rest a few minutes.
4. Pour over graham cracker mix and serve.


Chick Pea Salad

This salad is one of my favorite midday snacks. It has all my favorites-chickpeas, cilantro, olive oil- Arab much? Its super easy to make and LOADED with nutrients. So not only does the cilantro flush out toxins from your body, but the chick peas are loaded with protein and fiber and are a great source of the "right kind of carbs" for diabetics! Say whaaaat?!

Chick Pea Salad


*1 15 oz can of chick peas
*1/2 cup chopped cilantro
*1 tomato, diced
*1/4 cup of chopped green onions
*half a lemon
*1 tablespoon of olive oil
*salt to taste

This recipe is super easy- Just combine all the ingredients! That is literally all you have to do. Enjoy!


Kicking it at the Farmer's Market

Where would we be without farmers markets? Without them we would buying all our fruits and vegetables under artificial lights listening to instrumentals of 80's songs and the ping-ping of people checking out all the time. Which is not ideal. What is ideal is talking to local farmers and learning straight from them the best way to store and prepare the produce you are buying.

And have you noticed how nice people are there? Its like your back in the 50's and people are just legit happy to see you and ask how your doing. We are hosting a huge barbeque this weekend which will put my farmers market purchases to use (woohoo!) Were going to battle the Texas heat and fire up the grill!