March is National Nutrition Month Processing Processed Food

March is National Nutrition Month Processing Processed Food

Say Hello to the Good Stuff and Later Days to the Bad

Merrian-webster defines Nutrition as: the act or process of receiving adequate nutrition to perform a function or daily task to optimal ability.  To sum this up, what we eat in order to live, love and enjoy the world around us.

So, what is all this hype about nutrition really about?  Turns out studies show American’s are becoming more and more undernourished because of unhealthy eating habits. The over processed fast foods they are consuming have little to no nutritive quantities and are loaded with preservatives and chemicals.  Which means taking the time to invest a little thought into the food you are eating is important. 

Healthy Holistic living follows the guideline: the fresher the food the more nutrients the food will contain and the better your body will feel and perform. Eating natural food with minimal amounts of processing promotes more energy, improved ability to stave off colds, flus, infections and a decreased likelihood of life changing occurrences such as Colon Cancer, diabetes, and neurological disorders such as dementia.

Let’s be honest, most of us do not have the time every week to stop at your local Farmers market for the best in meats and produce.  This is no excuse for not eating healthy. How then do we stock our pantry with quick easy to prepare food that is both good and nourishing? Say Hello to Pre-packed processed foods.  They are convenient, easy to store and downright enticing! There are two simple categories to remember:

Category one:

Minimally processed – Includes pre-cut veggies like carrots and peppers, pre-washed bagged spinach and mixed greens; quality convenience foods with lots of flavor for busy people.  To save money look for the bulk storage bins and pick up dried fruits and veggies, nuts and some great natural organic sweet snacks made with coconut, organic dark chocolate. figs or dates.

Category two:

Foods processed at their peak of freshness– Canned vegetables like green beans, peas and tomatoes. Canned fish such as tuna and salmon. Foods packaged this way are more nutrient dense because they are packaged at their peak. The process of canning requires high heat and sealing the container with an air tight seal to ensure freshness and longevity of the canned food.  The amount of minerals, fat-soluble vitamins, protein and carbohydrates remain basically unchanged. Water soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C and B are decreased; while the antioxidant content such as lycopene in tomatoes is increased. Canned fruit (packed in water or its own juice) is a good option when fresh organic fruit you crave is not in season. Fresh is always best, food from your pantry is always more nutrient packed and better tasting than food from a paper bag or Styrofoam box. (1)

Organic based breakfast cereals are great sources of fiber. Had a long day at work, try a bowl of yogurt topped with your favorite cereal, fresh berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Easy, light and just what you needed for a quick dinner with the added benefit of vitamins and probiotics while not feeling over stuffed.  Who says Cereal is just for breakfast!

Try vegetable-based pastas for another source of fiber with fewer carbohydrates. Spinach ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and grilled chicken seared up with a little avocado oil, add a handful of basil and a little chopped up garlic a splash of tomato sauce and your favorite go to seasoning.  Bamm, one skillet, one plate and one quick meal under 10 minutes under $10.

The frozen freezers at the local stores are now carrying healthier options to frozen meals. Take a quick look at labels. Try adding the 5 ingredients or less rule to the nutrition fact label. If you cannot read the ingredients chances are you really do not want to put this food in your body. Take a look at fresh frozen fish fillets.  Pop the fish in the oven, toss up a salad, add some walnuts and dried cranberries.  Sounds good doesn’t it.

Now time to say so long to the BAD GUYS:   This is where we all get into trouble with obesity, colon cancers, adult and childhood neurological issues, high cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes, IBS, bad skin, lack of energy, heart disease shall we go on………. Lazy food which leaves us feeling bloated and hungry.

Say Later days to Boxed or bagged food.  Read the ingredients that are added for extra flavor and texture, can you pronounce them?  Man-made fake sweeteners, added colors and preservatives have deceived your taste buds into believing this is food. Do not be fooled.   Jarred pasta sauce, pre-packed dry ingredient box food like hamburger helper, most salad dressings, flavored yogurts, cake mixes and icing are full of sugar and chemicals your body is not designed to digest. Fat free most often also contains an increase in sugars to improve consistency and taste. View the label and stick with natural sugar produced by the product itself, honey or fruit juice.

Say Later days to Ready-to-eat foods: crackers, granola, individually wrapped cheese substance and pre-packed deli-meat.  Premade frozen foods and pizza. These items are full of salt and heavily processed.  Choose items which state low in sodium to help decrease your daily consumption of sodium.  Get your sandwich meats from the deli at the grocery store. You can choose the thickness of the slice and the meat is soooooo much more taste.

The only food that should survive more than a 1-2 weeks in your pantry or fridge are dried food like rice and beans, canned products up to two years for freshness, frozen foods or pickled fermented foods.  The saying is true, we are and our families are what we eat. Adjusting lifestyle habits to include healthy food can save money, increase the joy of eating and greatly improve how you perform in your day to day activities. Stop wasting a day because you are too tired or feeling bloated.  Food and nutrition go hand in hand.  Live Life to its fullest.

Minimize your intake of processed food each week by aiming to do just a little more food prep.  Cooking at home can be easy, quick and fun. Take an evening and plan your meals for the next week. Base meals on whole foods including a protein be it meat or plant based, add a vegetable or leafy green and toss it up with some whole grains like quinoa. Our recipe pages will be filling up with ideas for simple fresh meals full of flavor. There are also plenty of on-line foodie sites with ideas that are easy and combine similar ingredients with a slightly different flair.  This nutrition thing is easy and well worth the investment.

Want to know more – we highly recommend you read Rachael Link’s, MS, RD report at, Healthy swaps to the rescue.