Beef and Snap Peas

This delicious dinner takes under 30 minutes to prepare and is perfect for a weeknight meal.  The tender steak with a sweet Asian sauce and crisp snow peas will be a crowd pleaser – both my husband and my 6 month old liked it!

Beef Snow Peas

A healthful adaptation of the Pioneer Woman’s Beef with Snow Peas recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup organic coconut aminos (say no to soy sauce with this perfect alternative!)
  • 1 tablespoon ground organic ginger
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed beef bone broth
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Optional: you may add a tablespoon of non-GMO cornstarch or arrowroot powder to thicken your sauce, but since I was serving over rice, I didn’t feel I needed it.
  • 1 1/2 pounds grass-fed flap steak, sliced thin against the grain (can also use flank steak)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
  • Couple handfuls of fresh organic snap peas, trimmed
  • 5 scallions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Preparation:

Combine the coconut aminos, ginger, bone broth, coconut sugar and crushed red pepper in a bowl. Put the sliced steak in a bowl and pour 1/3 of that liquid over the beef, saving the rest in the bowl.  Toss the beef and let sit for a few minutes while you prepare the snap peas.

Put the oil in a large skillet and heat over high heat.  Add the snap peas for half a minute to get them bright green, then remove them to a separate plate.

Next, add half the steak to the skillet.  Spread it out and let brown for a minute. Add half the scallions, turn the meat over and cook another half minute to brown that side. Remove to a separate plate.

Let the skillet get hot again, then add the rest of the meat and brown both sides again. Once you flip the beef pieces to brown the second side, add all the ingredients back in – the reserved sauce, the previously cooked meat and snap peas.  Stir for a few seconds, then remove from the heat.

Serve by itself or over jasmine rice or quinoa!

 

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Thrive Market: My Favorite Deals

If you haven’t yet joined Thrive Market, you are missing out! Think of it as Whole Foods + Costco + Amazon. It’s a membership-based online store full of healthy non-perishable food and household products at fantastic discounts. Plus, they have a great mission to provide healthy groceries to families in need. In my recent post about buying all-organic groceries on a budget, I recommended this as one of my favorite ways to save money (and time)!

Here are a few of my favorite items to purchase and how they compare to the prices I was paying at Whole Foods and elsewhere.

Tomato SauceOrganic Tomato Sauce

  • Thrive Market price: $2.95 for 2 cans
  • Whole Foods price: $4.38 for 2 cans
  • Savings = $1.43 (33%)

Einkorn SpaghettiEinkorn Spaghetti – made from einkorn flour, an ancient wheat that is not toxic like today’s wheat and even safe for many who are gluten-free.

  • Thrive Market price: $2.55
  • Whole Foods price: $3.49
  • Savings = $0.94 (27%)

Honey MustardHoney Mustard Vinaigrette with Avocado Oil – this is the healthiest, yummiest salad dressing you can get… very rare to find one made without toxic vegetable oil!

  • Thrive Market price: $5.65
  • Primal Kitchen Online price: $7.95
  • Savings = $2.30 (29%)

Olive OilOrganic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

  • Thrive Market price: $10.45
  • Whole Foods price: $13.99
  • Savings = $3.54 (25%)

CollagenCollagen Hydrolysate Powder – tasteless and water soluble, I add this to smoothies, soup or juice for collagen support for healthy joints, hair, skin and nails and extra protein

  • Thrive Market price: $16.45
  • Amazon price: $21.49
  • Savings = $5.04 (23%)

Raw Dog FoodRaw Turkey Dehydrated Dog Food – I recently made the switch to this raw dog food and my pup loves it! Learn more about why I switched here.

  • Thrive Market price: $49.95
  • Amazon price: $64.79
  • Savings = $14.84 (23%)

Earl GreyOrganic Earl Grey Tea

  • Thrive Market price: $4.95
  • Whole Foods price: $6.49
  • Savings = $1.54 (24%)

Beef Bone BrothGrass-Fed Beef Bone Broth – I make lots of my own chicken bone broth, but never my own beef bone broth.

  • Thrive Market price: $8.95
  • Amazon price: $15.95
  • Savings = $7.00 (44%)

Graze SticksNitrate-Free Grass-Fed Beef Sticks – these are my favorite easy protein snacks!

  • Thrive Market price: $17.95 for a pack of 12
  • Amazon price: $19.95 for a pack of 12
  • Savings = $2.00 (10%)

Sign up now and save 15% off your first order by using this link! Plus, they will donate a Thrive Membership to a family in need when you purchase yours. P.S. you always get free shipping on orders over $49!

 

Christmas Chili

Chili with TamaleIt’s a Texas tradition to enjoy fresh tamales and chili during the holiday season, and I can’t wait to make this for a cozy dinner with family on Christmas Eve.  Today, I’m sharing my super easy, go-to chili recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of grass-fed, organic ground beef
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 16 oz can organic tomato sauce
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can organic kidney beans, drained
  • 15 oz can organic pinto beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup organic, non-GMO cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup bone broth (or beer or water)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Toppings: shredded raw cheddar cheese, chopped red or green onion, tortilla chips (my favorite are Jackson’s Honest brand – the only kind made with coconut oil AND organic, non-GMO corn!)

Preparation:

  1. Put the ground beef and garlic into a large pot and cook on medium heat until the meat is browned.
  2. Drain the excess fat from pot.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and all spices. Stir together, then reduce to low heat.
  4. Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture starts to look a little dry, I usually add some bone broth (or beer or water) a 1/4 cup at a time.
  5. In separate bowl, mix the cornmeal and 1/2 cup bone broth together.  Then dump into the chili. This will be your thickening agent and add that corn flavor. (Beer works really well here too!)
  6. After this, see what the consistency is and add more liquid based on your preference. Typically, I add about 3/4-1 cup of liquid in.
  7. Add both cans of beans and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Now it’s ready to serve with all the yummy toppings!

Wishing you a healthy and hopeful holiday!

Natural vs. Organic – Does it Matter?

CONVENTIONALVSWe’ve all been there… you’re in the grocery store looking at the rows of meat, most on sale for only a few dollars per pound.  You’re overwhelmed with all the confusing labels, not even sure what they really mean. You see the small section of organic meat and they want to charge you an outrageous $13 for a package of chicken breasts.  Considering you need a 3 of those for meals this week, it’s just too much.  You decide to be budget-conscious and go with the cheaper meat, feeling a little better that you’ve at least picked the “all-natural” option. Can you relate?

Since “organic” became a thing, it’s been controversial.  People think it’s a Whole-Foods-created hoax to charge consumers more money.  With so many different opinions out there, its hard to sift through it all and find the facts.  What’s the truth here? Is organic meat healthier than natural?  Are organic vegetables more nourishing than conventionally grown ones?

All-Natural

This word makes us think of rolling green hills, cows grazing, crops blowing in the wind and of a hard-working farmer harvesting his land. Consumer Reports found that 1 in 3 people thought “natural” = “organic.”  Companies put this buzz word and pictures of idyllic farms on their labels to make you buy the product, and even pay more for it. While the term “organic” is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, “natural” isn’t; it has no clear definition.  (Source: ABC News)  So, although we may assume these foods would be minimally processed or not containing any hormones or artificial ingredients, it is in fact meaningless.

Organic

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires all organic foods to meet strict standards on how those foods are grown, fed, handled and processed. Any food with the USDA Organic label must pass organic certification annual inspections. Unlike conventional foods, this ensures that the food has been grown using no toxic pesticides, no synthetic growth hormones and no petroleum-based fertilizers.  And that it has been processed without artificial colors or flavors, without artificial preservatives and without GMOs. (Sources: Consumerist and Organic: It’s Worth It)

NonGMOAdditionally, there is another important label you might find on organic foods – “Non GMO Project Verified.” This certification is managed by a non-profit organization that believes you “should have access to clearly labeled non-GMO food and products.” It is a very strict verification process, ensuring that no more than 0.9% of the product contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs), with complete absence being the goal. “This is in alignment with laws in the European Union (where any product containing more than 0.9% GMO must be labeled);” Europe is way ahead of America on this and other dangerous food ingredients. (Source: Non GMO Project)

Is Organic Healthier?

Now that we understand the labels, the real question becomes: is organic really better for you than natural/conventional?  There are studies that have found organic produce to be no more nutritional than its conventional counterpart.  That makes sense – an apple is still an apple and will still have the same amount of calories.  But, which version causes your body harm?  Let’s look at what “organic” labels promise not to include to see what effects those in conventional food might have on our bodies:

Toxic Pesticides: Pesticides are intentionally toxic substances used to kill living things – aka poison.  They are used consistently in conventional agriculture, even though many studies have shown to cause chronic health impacts like cancer, hormone disruption, neurodegenerative diseases, and reproductive issues. Children are especially at risk, even from minimal exposure, because they absorb more and don’t yet have fully developed brains or immune systems. A study by Harvard University and the University of Montreal found that exposure to pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables may double the risk of developing ADHD. (Source: Toxics Action Center)  Oh, and one of the most commonly used pesticides, organophospate, was first developed as nerve gas in WWII. Hmm.

Beyond the harmful health effects, they also make our food less nourishing.  One of the most popular herbicides (used to kill weeds) on the market is Monsanto’s product RoundUp – the main ingredient, glyphosate, steals nutrients from crops.  And when pesticides are applied to crops, as much as 60% of the antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables are lost.  Antioxidants are what help your body fight cancer-causing free-radicals.

As for how they effect our meat: “In a potato, the pesticide residue is .003 . in a piece of animal flesh, it is .281, nearly 100 more parts per million in every bite. It would take you over 90 days of eating conventionally grown potatoes to get the same amount of pesticide residue that one serving of chicken contains. Why? Because not only do the animals’ bodies collect and concentrate the poisons into their flesh, their feed is allowed to have 20% more pesticides used than that of crops grown for human use.” (Source: Natural News)

Watch this video to see how levels of chemicals changed in the children of a family who switched to all organic:

Synthetic Growth Hormones:  Growth hormones are widely used to increase weight gain in animals and enhance milk production in dairy cattle, one of the most well-known being rGBH.  These synthetic hormones mimic estrogen and, when they are passed on to us as we eat, can have serious side effects. After studies showed a 55-60% increase in breast cancer for women, rGBH was banned in many countries around the world; it’s still allowed in the US.  Many researchers believe that steroid hormones cause children to undergo puberty prematurely, who are now entering much younger than just a generation ago. Just a small amount of these estrogenic hormones can have significant impact on children, both on their development and risk of obesity. (Sources: Genetic Roulette, Health.com)

Artificial Colors: You would be hard-pressed today to try to find an item in your pantry that doesn’t have artificial dye in the ingredients list (Yellow #5, Blue #1). Most artificial colors are made from coal tar. Gross. And more research has been coming out lately linking food dye to brain cancer and ADHD. Not good. (Source: Forbes) While research is still limited on this newer additive, many countries around the world have decided to ban these.

Artificial Preservatives: Preservatives are used to help prevent the growth of bacteria or fungus, to prevent oxidation causing discoloration or rancidity and to inhibit the natural ripening of produce.  Sulfites and nitrates are common preservatives that cause allergic reactions in many people. (Source: Sustainable Table)  More research is needed to determine the long-term side effects of these.

GMOs: Genetically Modified Organisms are created by putting the DNA from one species into another to get benefits from both.  For our food and farming purposes, this means creating a seed that makes a plant produce its own pesticide or makes it pesticide resistant so that farmers can spray without damaging the crop.  It sounds like a great idea, except that it’s all a science experiment in genetic alteration, resulting in mutations and unpredictable side effects, creating toxins, allergens, carcinogens and triggering inflammation. Some of the crops highest (90%+) in GMOs are canola, corn, soy and sugar beets, all of which are extremely common in processed foods. Unfortunately, infant formula is full of both GM soy and synthetic growth hormones (and high levels of aluminum too).

The best example of what this does to our bodies is this: GM corn is created to include BT toxin within the seed. When an insect eats the crop, it is designed to break open the stomach of the bug and kill it.  It does the same to us, opening up tiny holes in our intestines leading to what’s called leaky gut.  Then, when food passes through our intestines, it slips through these holes, entering our body… our body attacks those particles, seeing it as an invader;  over time, we develop food allergies to those items.  To watch an illustration of this or to learn more about the health effects of GMOs, read my other blog post here.

What About Antibiotic-Free, Pasture Raised & Grass Fed Animal Products?

None of these are promises made by an “organic” label, but fortunately many producers who have an organic certification will also believe in these practices too.  While a big part of this is related to the humane treatment of the animals, there are also some health effects to consider.  When animals are kept in close proximity to each other in cages all day, keeping the cages clean is impossible, leading to poor hygiene and the spreading of disease. Antibiotics must be used with these animals to prevent illness and ensure they survive to sell.  When we eat the animals, these antibiotics are passed on to us, worsening the antibiotic-resistance epidemic. In fact, 80% of all antibiotics are used with animals rather than prescribed to humans.

As for pasture-raised and grass-fed meat, it is important to know the sources of the meat, eggs and dairy that you buy.  I buy my eggs from a local farm (at the grocery store!) called Coyote Creek.  The chickens are allowed to forage for food naturally on organic pastures; they are also fed soy-free feed. The grass-fed meat that I buy ensures that these cows aren’t being fattened up by GM corn and soy feed.  They naturally graze the fields, ensuring I am getting the most nutrients from soil rich with minerals. “Research indicates that grass finished meat has superior ratios of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids, linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.” (Source: Eat Wild)

How to Shop:

Even if you’re now convinced that buying organic is worth trying to avoid all those detrimental health effects and ultimately healthier for your family, you may think I simply cannot afford it. Here are some tips on how to make it possible:

  • Compare & coupon – Where you shop can make it or break it. I’ve shopped around and discovered that usually a natural foods store can have the best pricing.  The organic produce & meat at my local grocery store, HEB, is usually several dollars more (sometimes double!) that of a natural foods store.  Farmers Markets can also be inexpensive since you are buying directly from the source.  Read about how I’m able to buy all organic on a budget here.
  • Buy fresh – Organic processed and pre-prepared foods are expensive.  Stick to the edge of the store as you shop and load up with fresh ingredients to cook at home.
  • Avoid the worst – There are some fruits and vegetables higher in pesticide residue. If you can only buy some items organic, at least avoid the conventional dirty dozen. And always thoroughly wash your produce when you get home!
  • Plan ahead – Meal plans, grocery lists and a strict budget can help you stay on track as you shop.

Or you can look at it this way: Is high-quality, organic food really that expensive by comparison?  This awesome 11 yr old kid makes a pretty good argument… “It seems to me that we can either pay the farmer or we can pay the hospital.”

Do you think you’ll make the switch to buying organic?