Have you ever thought about the quality of your produce and where it comes from? I want to share with you a good, better, best approach to picking your produce. First, let’s talk about the common ways to buy produce. You can get it fresh in the produce section at the grocery store, canned in the dry goods section, frozen in the freezer section, from your garden or from your local farmer’s market. I want to eliminate one of these options right from the start. Canned vegetables are often picked at the peak of freshness but are then highly processed reducing the nutrients and often include additives. Additives aren’t good for our bodies nor do our bodies know how to process them.
So, let’s talk about the GOOD option. A good option is to get your vegetables in the produce aisle of your grocery store and buy organic whenever possible and cost effective for your family. The downside to this option is that the produce tends to be picked too early and before the nutrients are fully developed. Not only that, but the produce is then put on a truck or some form of transportation and moved from where it was grown to your location – this can take days or even longer. The longer the produce is in transit the more it degrades, depleting the nutrients even more. However, buying from the produce section is still a better option than no veggies or the processed and canned version most of the time.
Next let’s talk about the BETTER option. A better option is frozen vegetables. Frozen vegetables are picked at the peak of freshness and usually blanched preserving the freshness. Now, some nutrients are potentially lost in the blanching process, but no additives are included and, for the most part, the produce still holds the majority of its nutrients and is fresher than the “fresh produce” found in the produce section at your grocery store. Often, frozen produce may actually be cheaper than fresh, and it has a longer lifespan. When buying frozen vegetables, you still want to aim to purchase organic to avoid a plethora of nasty chemical additives used in the growing process.
Lastly, let’s talk about the BEST option. The best option is to raise vegetables yourself and eat them fresh from your own garden. This option isn’t always feasible, so an alternative is to find a local organic farmer or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to acquire your produce. In addition to this being the freshest, most nutrient dense option, this also encourages you to eat in season produce and explore new veggies. Another side perk is that you are also able to support a local farm and stimulate your local economy!
Here are a few resources to help you find some local produce options!
Who remembers lunch time growing up? It wasn’t always the healthiest meal, especially as we got older. Does anyone else remember middle school and that taste of freedom when you could choose whatever you wanted and had ala carte choices?? Maybe you ate a bag of chips and a juice barrel and considered that lunch. Don’t worry, I did too. I look back and realize that I was definitely not fueling my body. No wonder I was always tired and run down because, in all honesty, breakfast wasn’t much better. As a parent, I have made it my mission to involve my kids in food choices. I help them to understand why we eat the things that we do, why we don’t eat certain things and why we don’t eat certain ways. When kids understand “why” they begin to be able to make their own choices about food and the hope is that, as they get older, they are more likely to continue to make the better choices. When they are given the opportunity to experiment with less than ideal food, they will be more aware of how those choices make them feel and it will be just that - an experiment versus a long term lifestyle choice.
We are daily lunch packers in our family. We have made the choice as a family to eat gluten-free, based on different medical diagnoses and health histories. Our school district doesn’t offer things that meet that minimum guideline and definitely not our more rigid standards of fresh, whole, nutrient dense foods. So, what types of things do I send with my kids to school for lunch?? We tend to go for a rainbow of foods and make sure they have balance. To make portions and variety a little easier when they were little, we started using these LunchBot containers. We love them because they are dishwasher safe and durable – we are headed into year 5 with these containers and they still look like they did on day 1! We try to mix things up and meal prep for lunches at the beginning of the week. We will pull a bunch of grapes, cut up carrots or bell peppers, make sure we have plenty of whole apples to cut up quickly that morning and have other fresh fruits and veggies on hand. When the lunches are made up of fresh fruits and vegetables, it is easy to meet my goal of giving my kids a bit of a rainbow in their lunchboxes. We also cut up blocks of raw cheese at the beginning of the week to put in lunches, but also to snack on throughout the week for a quick pick me up. Instead of buying lunch meat I usually roast chicken breasts or other meats to pack in their lunch, we do this because it is more cost effective and less processed. One of our kids favorite things to eat are salmon pinwheels or chunked wild caught salmon. These are a great source of protein AND mixes things up for them! I will include nut butter in these little containers sometimes for their apples and this adds a little extra protein. We also include a reusable napkin and fork. Typically the only trash my kiddos have at lunch is from their Ningxia Packet, which is a super fruit, antioxidant rich juice pouch that they have every day to help balance their blood sugar for the best afternoon possible!
Do my kids gladly have a sugary treat on occasion…! Yep!...BUT they also pay attention to how they feel afterward. We also talk about the types of treats they can have and how they can make a better choice about what treats they choose. For example, if snow cones are an option – we opt for the dye free so their bodies are only processing the sugar and not also being bogged down by the food dye AND the sugar.
Looking for more lunch ideas? We will be periodically posting lunch box ideas throughout the school year! Remember, these aren’t just for kids ;-)
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As I have begun walking this journey to start a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practice it has been a bit more challenging than expected. I mean, in full disclosure, I was thinking one of the most challenging things was going to be getting my logo just right. Boy was I wrong! The last several months have been full of pivoting, adjustments and challenges that I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams. I have had to rely on the tools in my stress management toolbox as well as grow that toolbox. The first hurdle was finishing school… I know that I require my space and my quiet time to recharge and that is typically when I get my most focused and productive work done. In all honesty, home (with all of it’s distractions) was NOT that place. If you are reading this in the future – please note the date… it is August of 2020, the year of insanity and shutdowns. Let’s rewind to mid-March. The really challenging part of my program was beginning. I needed my routine and my quiet recharge time, but it totally vanished. My quiet time was replaced by having kids home all day trying to do school work, a husband working from home almost full time AND finishing graduate school online IN our shared office space. Last but definitely not least, my little slice of heaven, my escape – my favorite, little, local coffee shop - was forced to go to a take-out only model. Let’s just say my stress level hit a high and I had to find a way to rebalance my world and it wasn’t a quick shift. My family and I had to find a way to all be productive and all stay sane in a constantly changing environment. My children never went back to school and my favorite, local coffee shop was eventually allowed to reopen (THANK GOODNESS) but in the meantime I had to make a few investments for my sanity. The first was setting a schedule for when and who did what. This changed weekly and required my husband and I to reevaluate and really work on our communication (this is something that is ALWAYS a work in progress in our marriage). The second was a portable hammock – I know this sounds like a ridiculous item but it gave me my own space AND it allowed me to get some much needed time outdoors and a quiet space to read and study without the distractions of being inside the house. Taking advantage of the tiniest things can make a HUGE difference in your mental health and stress management. I also had to make sure I was getting appropriate sleep and using the oils that keep me grounded (yep, I am an essential oil junky – more on that in another blog post). All of this helped but we still felt a little claustrophobic and uncertain – which is something no one does well with long term. So… we all finished school and then we completely went off the rails – the kids took advantage of all of the free time they could get their hands on, lots of outside time riding bikes, playing and just being KIDS! My husband focused on work and keeping life moving. Me… I started working on launching my practice.
So, I already told you, I was thinking a logo was going to be my biggest challenge… oh that was a challenge but nowhere near the largest challenge I faced in launching my practice and I think you will notice both logos turned out AWESOME. Starting a business is stressful enough in a normal year but doing it when the country is a hot mess is a totally different set of circumstances. I learned there are options for creating an LLC and actually becoming a business entity. The process was pretty simple, but only after a lot of research and really considering what I needed. It would have been easy to use the readily available, heavily advertised, big box options, but local was much more cost effective and gave me what I needed without all of the extra fluff and cost. Setting up the LLC was daunting at first, but the uber challenging and time consuming task was opening a bank account!! It took almost two months!! I had done my research and was looking for a small business friendly banking option that wouldn’t hit me with constant fees and that was a Credit Union. The credit union wasn’t opening new business accounts because they were focused on existing customers and making sure customers could get the PPP loans they needed (Paycheck Protection Program for those of you that aren’t aware). I think this is awesome but it definitely added to the stress of getting started because everyone talks about how you need to be smart with your business and keep your personal and business finances separate. That gets harder to do when you are unable to open your bank accounts but I did it! Next up was insurance… thank goodness they had talked briefly about this in school AND one of my closest friends is in this industry. It was super confusing and challenging and took the better part of a month to be squared away… and is still a stress point for me to be honest! If you are starting a business of any type, don’t go cheap with an industry plan unless you have fully vetted it and make sure that it covers every aspect of your business. I started down the industry plan path and realized very quickly that the cheap cookie cutter option left me uncovered and that is really scary in this sue happy society we live in – find a broker!!! If you need a referral, I am happy to share my broker’s information. You need someone that actually understands your business and, in the grand scheme of things, the monthly cost is minimal to make sure I am not wide open to risks! This was totally unexpected, but applying for insurance also required me to define my processes and practice management which was a HUGE blessing in disguise.
I know…you are thinking none of this seems that crazy, but I am a Type A person… I have become way more “go with the flow” over the years but that only goes so far. Imagine you are launching a business - and that business looks a certain way in your head - and then all of the sudden it looks nothing like you had planned or expected. Imagine being in the middle of a pandemic and your life twists and turns on the daily. Oh yeah, the major change, did I mention that I had no intention of this being an online practice 6 months ago?? I had planned to have a brick and mortar practice where I would see people, in person, and use ALL of my skills to help them. Instead I have pivoted a bit and am now working with clients online. For now, it is great, and I love my clients but wish I could give them more – it will happen, just not right now.
Now that you know I have pivoted to an online practice, let’s talk about web design and development! I had intended to hire this out when I was opening a brick and mortar because I didn’t think it would need to be maintained as heavily. Oh, how wrong I was! When I went to the online model, I decided I really needed to build my web presence myself because I needed to be able to maintain it on my own. When looking at web design options they don’t always give you all of the details of their pros and cons up front, OR I am unable to understand their lingo. This website has been built three different times on three different platforms from scratch, yep, you read that correctly THREE times! I was never so glad to be Type A. I had written all of my copy and kept it in files offline. Rebuilding was painful, but it made things SOOOO much easier to not be worried about losing things that I had put hours of my heart and soul into. The most fun experience (tongue in cheek) was learning that the platform I was using wouldn’t support a blog – the night before I planned to launch!! As you can see, that is a key item that was not optional. So there I was, recreating my third website, the night before we were scheduled to launch and 45 minutes before we were scheduled to leave for my son’s birthday dinner. . I made the choice to put my son first and go to dinner. I had faith I would get it done after he was in bed. Pushing the launch any further was not going to happen and guess what – that was July 24th and we launched the afternoon of July 25th! The experience was totally worth it and I know we are where we belong and we started right when we were supposed to. I used my tools that day and got through it - the amount of Stress Away and Build Your Dream in our office that night was enough to motivate a small army.
If you have a dream, take the leap even if it is 2020 – you are totally worthy of your dreams and I know you can do it. Use your tools, find your space and GO FOR IT!! I wouldn’t give up any of this experience or any of the hurdles because it has made me more aware of who I am and has really forced me to own it and be proud of what I have accomplished.
Totally taking the chance for a shameless plug – if I weren’t feeding my body properly and hadn’t been helped to find my tools over the last few years I couldn’t be here. If you are searching for those tools – I AM YOUR GIRL!!!
THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE!!!
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Karly is a Wife, Mom, Entrepreneur, FNTP and Non-Toxic Living Specialist and Lover of Food - living in a small suburb of Austin, TX.