Tag Archives: healthy eating

Part 2: Best Resolutions and Best of Intentions, but Losing a Little Steam?

In part 1 of this article, we talked about a list of resolutions that are nearly universal in the tradition of annual rebirth and revitalization which include lose weight, spend less, learn more, or do something to better your life in some way. In the second part, we want to discuss HOW you can stick to the promises that you made to yourself!

The key is to make sure you are setting realistic goals that you can reach. Many people set the bar too high or make their goal too vague. For example, rather than establishing a normal healthy weight loss goal such as losing one pound per week, a person might proclaim that they are going to lose 50 pounds without really laying out a plan for the appropriate time frame in which they will accomplish this goal. This can lead to a sense of defeat if he/she doesn’t see rapid weight loss.

And whether it’s weight loss, controlling our spending, getting better grades in school, or asking for a promotion at work, our resolutions always take us out of our comfort zones. With that in mind, it’s vital that we set smaller and very precise goals for ourselves—goals that will be easier to reach and help us build our confidence in our ability to succeed.

Start Small, Finish Big.

As you attain these smaller goals, your satisfaction will soar. Nothing helps me put that truffle back in the box like remembering that the last time I stepped on the scale, I was five pounds lighter, and I liked that. Celebrating each small success makes it easier to keep going. Before you know it, you will have reached your goal.

Many people find it helpful to track their progress in writing. You can look back on your journey later and really appreciate the work you put in. Sometimes, reading back over it and recalling the struggle is all it takes to find the motivation to keep going. And who knows, you may use your story later to inspire others facing the same challenges.

It is also important to put a number on it. Instead of just some vague goal like losing weight, set an attainable goal that will be easy to reach like one pound per week for four weeks. That may seem like a small amount, but according to the CDC, people who lose their weight slowly and steadily are much more likely to keep it off because true healthy weight loss is not going to come from a temporary diet, but from adopting a new lifestyle long-term. And, the CDC also says that 1 to 2 pounds per week is an ideal goal. To lose one pound per week, you would need to burn off 500 more calories than you consume on a daily basis (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).

If your goal is to “spend less money,” make this goal less ambiguous by budgeting exactly what money you will spend and where it will go. Make use of a budgeting app like Mint or PocketGuard. You can also just plot it out on a spreadsheet. Whatever method you prefer, by tracking how you spend, it becomes much easier to see where you may be wasting money on things you don’t really need. That is how you start. Once you can highlight the less important recipients of your hard-earned cash, you can figure out how much money could potentially be saved by cutting those things out of the budget.

The key is to take baby steps. Make small changes initially, like opting to brew a cup of coffee for yourself in the morning at home rather than spending $4 at Starbucks every day. Whatever your vice, chances are that you can see big changes in your pocket at the end of the month once you start taking a closer look at your spending trends and making conscious efforts to peel back a little bit at a time.

Remember, write it down, take baby steps, and make sure you know exactly where your target is before you shoot the arrow. With sensible small goals, structured plans for accomplishing them, and a willingness to accept that you just might make a few blunders along the road to victory but that doesn’t mean you give up, the group of people celebrating success this year will probably include YOU. Go do it!

 

Starting a Healthier Lifestyle in 2019? Lettuce Help You with That!

Here are some fantastic options for shaking up your salad routine!

Everyone is familiar with the good old salad standby: iceberg lettuce. But if you’ve walked into any major produce department lately, you’ll notice an enticing assortment of leafy varieties that may be unfamiliar. These can offer great options for spicing up your salads with something a little more exotic and healthy. Here are some of the options you’ll likely encounter:

Arugula
Arugula, the funny-sounding name that reminds one of the horns on old cars, has a distinctive peppery flavor that really brings an exciting zip to your salads. The texture is different from iceberg lettuce, as the leaves of this plant are skinny rather than broad, with a softly undulating border and a smooth surface. This leafy treat weighs in high in vitamins K and A and is a good source of fiber and protein.

Kale
This curly-leafed green has grown wildly in popularity in the past few years and is now finding a place in everything from salads to oven baked-chips and smoothies! While it may seem like a new and passing fad, this vegetable was grown by the ancient Romans.

Kale has a somewhat bitter flavor, and the texture can be rather tough. If you find either to be an issue, you can tear it into smaller pieces in your salad, so as not to have the flavor overwhelm the other ingredients. And give it a good massage with an oil-based dressing to soften the texture.

Kale is one of the most nutritious options for salads with 1,021% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, 308% of the RDV for vitamin A, and 200% of the RDV for vitamin C. With its incredible vitamin potency, it is no surprise that kale has become a hero among the health-conscious.

Spinach
This leafy green became famous after Popeye the Sailor Man gulped it down in his daily cartoon and suddenly burst out with muscles—doing impossible stunts with his superhuman strength—attributable to the magical can of spinach. While this vegetable is certainly healthy, it probably won’t turn you into a muscle-bound superhero in one sitting. It does taste fabulous raw, with a slightly astringent, earthy flavor and is a great complement to any salad. With a huge amount of vitamin K and vitamin A, it beats arugula for nutritional value. It’s also a good source of fiber and protein. While it can’t compare with kale for these vitamins, its dark green leaves boast more folate than kale, making it a definite health bonus for any salad.

Swiss Chard
Boasting even more vitamin K than kale, this superfood could be next on the list of fashionable health foods. Swiss chard, slightly bitter to the taste, contains 1,038% of the RDV of vitamin K, with 122% of the RDV of vitamin A. Chard is also an excellent way to work vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and manganese into your diet and is reputed to have a slightly milder flavor than kale. Another bonus to adding this leaf to your salad is its highly interesting coloration: dark green leaves and a vividly red stem and veins. It adds a very colorful appeal.

Radicchio
Another ancient companion to your salad, radicchio was mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his 79 A.D encyclopedic Naturalis Historia, commenting that this velvety red-leafed plant was good for insomnia and blood purification in addition to boasting a nice taste. He notes that it was Egyptians who bred this variety from the chicory plant.

Radicchio has a bold flavor, somewhat spicy, and is also pleasingly colorful with its purplish red leaves accented by white stem and veins. It resembles red cabbage but has quite a different flavor. A tasty addition to your salad!

Watercress
Once a staple in the diet of Roman soldiers and used medicinally by Hippocrates (the father of medicine),  it should be no surprise that watercress is bursting with nutritional goodness. Unfortunately, over time, the plant became known as the food of the poor and was less fashionable in comparison to the new varieties of salads that were cultivated over the next 100 years.

This ancient green is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables such as broccoli, arugula, kale, and Brussels sprouts. It is high in vitamins K, C, and A. With a tender texture but a slightly peppery taste, this dynamic green is a wonderful addition to your leafy repertoire.

The Lettuces
Whether you prefer iceberg, leaf, Boston, or romaine lettuce, most have a similar mild flavor. The four most common categories are looseleaf, crisphead, romaine, and butterhead. The iceberg lettuce we are so familiar with is a great example of crisphead, with a round head of tightly packed leaves. The butterhead variety is also mostly rounded, but with the leaves being more loose and smooth (usually found in the grocery store in plastic clamshell cases).

While romaine lettuce has rather long leaves and a robust spine, the looseleaf varieties grow as rosettes, with loosely gathered leaves—easily harvested one leaf at a time rather than by the entire plant.

The mild flavors of all the lettuces make them an ideal base upon which to add the spicy, bitter, and peppery varieties of leafy greens listed above.

Whatever exotic varieties of greens you choose to add to your salads this year, don’t be afraid to try something new! Variety is the spice of life, and this is especially true with greens.

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Food Leftovers – How Long Will They Keep?

Over the holidays, you are likely to be preparing a large meal for family and friends. But what to do with all the leftovers? In a short time, you and your family members will be sick of eating turkey or ham sandwiches, hash, or other leftover-inspired dishes.

Knowing prior to a holiday how long you can store certain cooked foods will help you avoid having to throw out food as well as ensuring that it is safe to eat.

These factors influence how long leftovers will keep:

1. How long food is left to sit out at room temperature after a meal. Family and friends often sit around the table talking after a holiday meal and may lose track of time. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, and other side dishes should be refrigerated within two hours of the time it was cooked—not from the time it was served.

2. Whether meat was cooked to the correct temperature

  • Turkey should be cooked until it reaches 165°F as measured by a food thermometer. The temperature should be checked in the thickest part of the breast, the deepest part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.
  • Fresh or smoked ham should be cooked to a temperature of 145°F and allowed to rest for three minutes. Reheat fully cooked ham to 140°F.
  • Beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 140°F and allowed to rest three minutes.

You can store leftovers for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. If you have a larger quantity of food than you can eat within that time, freeze part of it within two hours of the time it was cooked.

If turkey was cooked with stuffing inside, remove the stuffing and store it separately from the leftover turkey meat.

You do not have to let hot food cool off before putting it into the refrigerator but divide it into smaller portions to allow it to cool off more quickly in the refrigerator.

From a registered dietitian, the following guide is helpful.

A Guide to Storing Food Leftovers

Food Fridge Freezer
Turkey, cooked 3-4 days 2-3 months
Meat (ham, beef), cooked 3-4 days 2-3 months
Gravy 1-2 days 2-3 months
Cranberry sauce 10-14 days 1-2 months
Stuffing, cooked 3-4 days 1 month
Mashed potatoes, yams 3-5 days 10-12 months
Soup 2-3 days 4-6 months
Vegetables, cooked 3-4 days 2-3 months
Pumpkin pie, baked 3-4 days 1-2 months

 

Halloween Candy: Eat This, Not That!

If you’re like most parents, you can’t resist raiding your child’s trick-or-treat bag on Halloween night. Or maybe you’re not a parent but can’t fight the urge to eat those Fun-size candy bars you are giving out on Halloween.

Either way, all that Halloween candy can be really tempting. You can indulge and not completely derail your healthy eating habits by choosing your treats wisely and keeping portions to a minimum. In other words, don’t eat a whole bag of Fun-size Twix bars in one sitting! Leave most of the candy to the little ghosts and goblins after you satisfy your sweet tooth with one of these small treats.

Eat this: Fun-size Kit Kat bar
Not that: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

While both candy bars are high in sugar and calories, that snack-size Kit Kat has 3 grams of fat and 7 grams of sugar compared to a Reese’s peanut butter cup that clocks in at 10.5 grams of fat and 6.5 grams of sugar. And who can eat just one?

Eat this: Dark Chocolate
Not that: Milk Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and has less sugar than regular milk chocolate candy bars. Keep portions small though and stick with fun-size options.

Eat this: Sweet Tarts
Not that: Skittles

If hard candy is your weakness, you’re better off choosing Sweet Tarts rather than Skittles candies. Sweet Tarts have 2.4 grams of sugar per min-bag while Skittles have a whopping 14.5 grams of sugar per mini-bag.

Eat this: Smarties
Not that: Fun-size chocolate bar

Smarties have only 5 grams of sugar and no fat, while most fun-size chocolate bars contain 7 grams of sugar or more, and 3 grams or more of fat per bar.

Eat this: Jelly Belly jelly beans
Not that: M&Ms

Jelly Bellies have only 35 calories per serving and no fat, but M&Ms (all varieties) are loaded with both fat and sugar.

What to Do With Leftover Pumpkin Guts?

It’s almost Halloween and chances are, you’re getting ready to carve a Jack O’lantern. If you’re planning on some pumpkin carving fun with your family, don’t just throw out those pumpkin insides. There are lots of easy recipes you can make that put those pumpkin parts to good use.

Plus, pumpkins are one of the most nutritious fruits around—they’re packed with antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C. And don’t forget about the seeds! Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, and fatty acids and make a great fall snack.

Roast pumpkin seeds

Roasting pumpkin seeds is really easy and can be fun for kids too. You can eat them alone as a snack or mix them with other nuts and dried fruit for a healthy, seasonal trail mix. Just put them on a nonstick pan (in one layer), and sprinkle a little salt or other seasonings for taste,  and then roast them in the oven at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.

Make pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup makes a great seasonal meal as the weather gets colder. Use those leftover pumpkin insides to make this creamy pumpkin soup recipe.

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/9191/pumpkin-soup/

Bake a loaf of pumpkin bread or muffins

Separate the seeds from the pumpkin flesh, and use the flesh to make a puree for pumpkin bread or muffins. Follow this recipe to make delicious pumpkin bread or divide into a muffin pan to make pumpkin muffins.

https://eatingrichly.com/how-to-cook-a-whole-pumpkin-and-recipe-for-pumpkin-gut-bread/

Make pumpkin juice

As you are cleaning out your pumpkin to carve, place the stringy bits and seeds into a large bowl, and soak in hot water to help soften. Mash up these pieces, and then strain so you are left with a bright orange juice. Use the pumpkin juice in smoothies or sauces.

 

Pumpkin Spice Season: Choosing the Best Options

It’s officially fall, or as it’s come to be known in recent years, pumpkin spice season!

pumpkin-spice

Pumpkin spice has taken over everything from food products to drinks to candles to cleaning supplies. When it comes to food and drinks, there are healthy pumpkin spice choices and some that are just laden with sugar or artificial ingredients, nothing more than seasonal gimmicks to get you to buy junk food.

You can enjoy your favorite seasonal spice and still maintain a healthy diet if you chose the right pumpkin spice foods. And if you cannot resist that Pumpkin Spice Latte, as long as it isn’t an everyday indulgence, you can still enjoy it in moderation and not completely derail your diet.

Learn which popular pumpkin spice products are good choices and which ones to limit to special treats or not at all.

Limit these pumpkin spice options, or avoid them altogether:

  1. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte – At 380 calories for a 16 oz. with 14 grams of fat and a whopping 49 grams of sugar (even more for larger sizes), this popular coffee drink should remain an occasional treat and not an everyday habit this season.
  2. Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Donut – This dessert packs 19 grams of fat and 19 grams of sugar per donut, and who can eat just one?
  3. Nestle Coffee-Mate Pumpkin Spice Liquid Coffee Creamer – Think you can save money and calories by making your own version of a pumpkin spice latte? Think again. While this creamer claims to be free of trans fats, it contains partially hydrogenated oils, which are a source of trans fats.
  4. Clif Bar Spiced Pumpkin Pie Energy Bars – There are good protein bars and bad protein bars, and this one falls into the latter category. With only 9 grams of protein, it contains 23 grams of sugar, and will only give you a temporary energy boost before leaving you tired and sluggish.
  5. Chobani Flip Pumpkin Harvest Crisp – While this yogurt does contain probiotics and protein, it also comes in at 200 calories and 17 grams of sugar. This one qualifies more as a dessert than a healthy snack.

Say yes to these pumpkin spice products:

  1. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios – Like their original cereal, Pumpkin Spice Cheerios are low in calories and high in whole grains. A serving does contain 8 grams of sugar but is a better breakfast choice than a pumpkin spiced baked treat.
  2. Chobani Pumpkin Spice Blended Yogurt – Curb pumpkin spice sugary cravings with this Greek yogurt that’s packed with protein and live active cultures but still low in calories.
  3. Kashi TLC Pumpkin Spice Flax Crunchy Granola Bars – With whole pumpkin seeds and flax seeds, this treat can satisfy crunchy cravings while providing healthy nutrients. And one serving is two bars!
  4. Pumpkin Spice Quaker Instant Oatmeal – A fall favorite for mornings that’s convenient and easy to make, this oatmeal is low in calories, fat, and sodium.
  5. Yasso Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar – This frozen yogurt bar tastes like the real thing and with only 120 calories and 5 grams of protein, it makes a great substitute for sugary pumpkin spice desserts.

 

 

A Week of Healthy Back-to-School Lunch Ideas

Summer is over; the kids are back in school, and parents are back to the arduous task of packing lunches every day. Make your mornings easier, and keep kids satisfied with these simple lunch ideas for a week’s worth of healthy meals.

Each lunch packs protein, healthy carbs, and fresh fruits and vegetables, but you can mix and match ingredients based on your kids’ taste preferences.

Monday

Deli turkey and ham wrap

  • Use whole wheat or spinach wraps filled with deli turkey and ham and add garden veggie cream cheese.
  • Baby carrots and snap peas with light Ranch dressing
  • Popcorn

Tuesday

DIY chicken tacos

  • Use leftover grilled chicken from a past dinner, or slice pre-made Rotisserie chicken into small pieces
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salsa
  • Small container of shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 small whole wheat tortillas

Wednesday

Hummus, and pita bread wedges

  • Grape tomatoes
  • Apple slices
  • Pretzel sticks

Thursday

Pizza Rollups

  • Easy, three-ingredient pizza rolls freeze well, and kids will love them served hot or cold. For recipe, visit https://www.whatlisacooks.com/blog/pizza-rolls.
  • Fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  • Celery with light Ranch dressing
  • 2 fig cookies

Friday

Yogurt Parfait

Pack in small Bento box (one-serving box) containers for your child to create their own parfait.

One cup plain or low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt

  •  ½ cup low-fat granola
  •  ½ cup Cheerios
  •  ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup sliced strawberries

Sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes

15 Hydrating Foods to Eat During Summer

During these hot, sticky dog days of summer, it’s important to stay hydrated. Overheating and dehydration can occur quickly, especially when exercising or participating in other outdoor activities in high temperatures.

 

While drinking enough water is the best way to stay hydrated, getting in the required eight glasses per day can sometimes seem daunting—and that amount increases when exercising or spending a lot of time outdoors in the heat. The good news is that you don’t have to only drink water to meet your daily hydration needs. You can also get a lot of your daily water intake from foods that have a high water content, mainly fruits and vegetables.

A lot of these foods can be worked into other meals, such as adding a piece of iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato to a burger or adding a couple of slices of cucumber to your water. And what tastes better in summer than sinking your teeth into a piece of juicy watermelon or ripe strawberries? In addition to their high water content, many of these foods also offer important vitamins and minerals and can help replace any electrolytes lost during exercise.

Don’t forgo drinking water entirely, but by working some of these hydrating foods into your daily diet, you will be less likely to get dehydrated when the temperatures are soaring.

Top 15 Most Hydrating Foods

  1. Cucumber
  2. Iceberg lettuce
  3. Celery
  4. Radishes
  5. Tomatoes
  6. Green peppers
  7. Watermelon
  8. Cantaloupe
  9. Strawberries
  10. Oranges
  11. Peaches
  12. Zucchini
  13. Cauliflower
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Broths and soups

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Grilling Recipes for Summer

If you’ve only been grilling burgers and hot dogs this summer, it’s time to take your grilling to the next level. Shake things up with these grilling recipes that are not only healthy but also easy to make. Fire up that grill and surprise your family with new tastes and flavors for the rest of the summer!

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Salmon

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. hot sauce, such as Frank’s
  • 1 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. snipped chives
  • 8 stalks celery, very thinly sliced in half moons on an angle
  • 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • Four 5-oz. center-cut skin-on salmon fillets, about 1” thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for oiling the grill

Directions

  1. Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan on medium high.
  2. Mix together the hot sauce, brown sugar, paprika, and cayenne in a small bowl. Transfer 1 tbsp. of the mixture to a large bowl and whisk in the mayonnaise; set aside the rest of the sauce. Add the chives, celery, and onions to the bowl with the mayonnaise and toss well.
  3. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper. Brush the grill grate lightly with oil. Lay the salmon on the grill, skin-side up, and cook until distinct grill marks appear and the salmon releases easily from the grate, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and brush the fish with some of the reserved sauce. Continue to cook the fish, brushing the pieces periodically with the sauce, until the salmon fillets are glazed and just cooked through, 13 to 15 minutes more.
  4. Transfer the fillets to individual plates and serve with the celery slaw, made with the same sauce, made creamy with light mayo, and brightened with onions and chives.

Find the original recipe here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/sweet-and-spicy-grilled-salmon-recipe-2112185

Chile-Rubbed Chicken with Salsa

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
  • 4 tsp. fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and diced
  • 1/4 c. finely diced red onion

Directions

  1. Butterfly the chicken: Slice each breast almost in half horizontally (do not cut all the way through); open like a book so the chicken lies flat.
  2. Combine the olive oil, garlic, ancho chile powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, chipotle chile powder, 1 tsp. lime juice and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  3. Preheat a grill to medium. Meanwhile, make the salsa: Toss the tomatoes, tomatillos, red onion and the remaining 3 teaspoons lime juice in a bowl; season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Brush the grill grates with olive oil. Grill the chicken, turning once, until marked and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Top with the salsa and serve with the lime wedges.

See the original recipe here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/chile-rubbed-grilled-chicken-with-salsa-recipe-2042792

Mini Pineapple Pizzas

Ingredients

  • 1 medium pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 8 (1-oz.) slices Canadian bacon
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion
  • 2/3 c. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 c. lower sodium pizza sauce
  • 2 tbsp. thinly sliced black olives
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler to HIGH with oven rack 6 inches from heat.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high. Slice pineapple into 8 (1/2-inch) rounds. Using 1 ½ tbsp. of the oil, brush oil on both sides of pineapple rounds. Working in batches, place pineapple rounds on grill pan, and cook 3 minutes on each side, until char marks appear. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Place Canadian bacon slices on grill pan and cook 1 to 2 minutes on each side until heated through. Set aside.
  4. Heat remaining 1 ½ tsp. oil in a separate nonstick skillet over medium. Add onion and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, until softened.
  5. Top each pineapple round with 1 tsp. cheese. Place 1 slice Canadian bacon on top of cheese. Top each with 1 tablespoon pizza sauce and 1 tablespoon cheese. Top evenly with onion and black olives. Broil on HIGH for 2 to 3 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and melted. Sprinkle basil and crushed red pepper flakes evenly over top.See original recipe here: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/mini-pineapple-pizzas.  

How Dirty Are the “Dirty Dozen”?

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has many health benefits: it can protect against many chronic diseases, including heart disease, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes, and protect against certain cancers. But approximately three-quarters of Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables daily, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

With all of these wonderful health benefits, why are so many consumers avoiding eating  produce? Fear of pesticides is one reason.

Most consumers have heard of the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of fruits and vegetables that supposedly contain the highest levels of pesticide residue. The list was started by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in 2004, and the organization releases an updated “Dirty Dozen” list annually, urging consumers to purchase only the organic versions of those particular fruits and vegetables. But consumers who don’t have access to or can’t afford to buy organic produce report that they avoid buying produce at all.

Just how dirty are the “Dirty Dozen,” really? To put the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list in proper context, it’s important to understand that they don’t use the same strict methods for measuring risk that food scientists typically do. They tend to rely on alarmist and sensationalized reports that media outlets love. For example, EWG also annually releases the “Clean 15,” a list of conventional produce that doesn’t have detectable levels of pesticide residues, yet this list does not get the same media attention that the “Dirty Dozen” does. Additionally, a recent Forbes article points out that the EWG has strong ties to “big organic marketers.”

According to agdaily.com, recent USDA and FDA reports show that both organic and conventional food is safe. “According to the sampling data, 99 percent of residues on fruits and vegetables, when present at all, are well below safety levels set by the EPA. And an April 2018 article published on agdaily.com, stated that FDA sampling shows that 50 percent of the foods sampled had no detectable residues at all.

If buying organic is not in your budget, or it’s not easy to find in your area, you can rest easy knowing that conventional produce is perfectly fine. If you still have concerns, simply wash your produce under running water. According to the FDA, you can reduce and often eliminate residues, if they are present at all, on fresh fruits and vegetables simply by washing.

The bottom line is this: don’t believe everything you read about pesticides on produce. The benefits of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables far outweigh any minimal risk a minute amount of pesticide residue that might be on those strawberries or apples may pose.