Mercury Levels in Fish

By now you’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t eat too much fish because it’s high in mercury.  But like many people, you might also be wondering, what does mercury do to me and why is it found in fish?

Here’s the deal:

Mercury is a metal that exists naturally in the environment.  But we humans do things that negatively impact the environment, such as factory farming, burning coal, and using mercury in manufacturing.  This increases the amount mercury that flows through the air, water, and soil.

When in water, mercury changes its form and becomes methylmercury. Fishies absorb this mercury just like we often inhale bad chemicals when we breath in oxygen.

All fish and shellfish have some level of mercury, but it’s typically not a huge deal because fish also have so many health benefits.   However, if you eat fish ALL the time, or choose varieties that are higher in mercury (see chart below) it can be potentially harmful.

The good news is, mercury will leave the body over time in the urine, feces, and breast milk.  The bad news is if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding that mercury could have detrimental effects on your little one.

Mercury can also have nevetive effects on us grown ups.  Remember when Jeremy Piven had to drop out of a Broadway show?  Yeah, mercury poisoning is a real thing so read up below and be in the know…

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Chart from Canton Becker

NOTE: Mercury is only an issue with wild caught fish even so, this option is WAY better than farm raised fish.  Fish that are farmed are fed a completely unnatural diet, including dyes to make their flesh appear more vibrant and they are kept in confined spaces where they can’t get enough exercise.

Always, always, always avoid farm raised fish!!!

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Spiced Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Cinnamon Whipped Coconut Cream

Happy Halloween!!!  This is just the beginning of temptation season!  There’s krackles and candy corn as far as the eye can see, but there’s no reason that you can’t stay relatively healthy.

Last year we posted these amazing Peanut Butter Candied Apples which still totally rock our socks.  But this year we’re pumpkin-ify things.

Our friend, Healthy Hungry Girl posted this amazingly comprehensive list of Healthy Halloween Treats which inspired countless “OMG”s and “I NEED TO TRY THAT”s.

We’d like to add our Spiced Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Cinnamon Whipped Coconut Cream to the list of halloween treats.

We know what you’re thinking, “there’s no way they’re healthy”.  But we swear, it’s not a trick.  They are remarkably low in sugar and full of good stuff like fiber (that keeps you full) and cinnamon (which helps stabilize blood sugar).

They have about 1/2 the sugar of most comparable recipe so they aren’t too-too sweet, making them the perfect pumpkin cupcakes for someone with a more refined pallate

Optional: Garnish them with some Pecan Candy

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Spiced Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes (or 1 loaf)
Time: 1 hour

  • 1 can of organic pumpkin
  • 2 heaping tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil  (you could also use butter)
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups All Purpose Baking Mix (Gluten Free Baking Mix works great)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, at least 70% cacao content

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the pumpkin pie mix with the oil (or butter).  Add the sugar and salt, stir to combine.  Then whisk in eggs, one at a time.

Slowly fold in the baking mix using a rubber spatula, making sure not to overwork the batter.  Then gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a spoon place the pumpkin mix into greased/lined cupcake trays and bake for about 30 minutes.  If you choose to bake this as a loaf, cook for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool before frosting with the Cinnamon Whipped Coconut Cream.

Cinnamon Whipped Coconut Cream 
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Time: 5 minutes

  • 3/4 cup full fat coconut milk (use Thai Kitchen organic coconut milk.  This brand is best because the cream separates from the water.  You just want the cream part)
  • 2 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions 

Put coconut cream (not the water) in a medium bowl then add in the other ingredients and whisk together until fluffy and smooth.

Frost the cupcakes with the Cinnamon Whipped Coconut Cream and garnish with Pecan Candy

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How to Talk To Your Farmer

{Re-blogged from Health Coach Quinn}

I talk to a lot of people who are intimidated by farmer’s markets.  They feel like they don’t quite know what questions to ask, who to buy from and end up getting totally overwhelmed by the process.

First thing to note is: it’s up to you to get the conversation going.  

Most farmers are incredibly intelligent, have copious amounts of information about their crops and could talk ad nauseum about them…if you show a little interest.

They are so entrenched in what they do that they assume you know what they know.  Like, if someone asks about your job, you’re not going to immediately offer detailed information about how exactly you do what you do…  People need to ask for it.

Here is your simple guide to get the convo going with your local farmer.  Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question!

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The Basics

  • Do you use any pesticides or herbicides in your field? (just because a farm is not certified organic doesn’t mean they don’t follow organic standards.  It’s always best to just ask!)
  • What’s the freshest today?
  • What is the most ripe? (especially if you’re talking about fruit)
  • What items do you recommend?

A little more in-depth

  • When was this harvested? (harvested=picked)
  • How can I prepare this? (let them give you some ideas, they are happy to share!)
  • How should I store this? (Importanté!)
  • How much longer will this be in season? (that’s an advanced level question)

Your farmer is not some serious, socially inept weird-o.  They want to chat with you!  But they don’t want to assume that you know nothing, so it’s on you to engage them.  Also, a lot of people who choose to work on their own tend to be introverts.

Don’t be afraid to engage them in conversation about what they do and how they grow/raise their food.  Be interested, be curious, be whoever you are.

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All people like to talk about themselves.  Feel free to ask questions like:

  • How long have you been farming?
  • What got you into it?
  • What is your favorite vegetable/fruit/cut of meat/dairy product that you have?

Of course if they are super busy you don’t want to barrage them with small talk.  But these are people who have dedicated their entire lives to this.

Farming isn’t a 9-5 “job”.  It’s a lifestyle, a labor or love, and the people who devote their lives to this are proud and passionate about what they do.

Any other questions you think are pertinent?  Please add to the list in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you!

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The Rules of (Green) Thumb For Shopping at your Farmer’s Market

We get a lot of questions about what to eat during different times of the year and how to keep produce fresher for longer.

The answer to both of those things: Eat Seasonally.  

The easiest way to do that is to make a point of getting to your locals Farmer’s Market as often as possible so you can pick up the freshest produce and eat exactly as nature intended.

We know Farmer’s Markets can be overwhelming so we wanted to break it down and make the experience a little simpler.  Even if you aren’t getting to the farmers market these tips can apply to shopping at your local grocery store too.

Firstly, it’s important to go with some reusable shopping bags.  They make it easier to shlep your bounty and are good for the environment.

Next, put your brave face on because it’s really, really important to talk to your farmers.  Engage them, ask them questions, find out where your food came from!  

Quinn wrote and incredibly comprehensive guide HERE.  She gives you all the questions you can/should ask and tells you exactly how to engage your farmer in an easy, breezy convo.

Finally, here is what you should pick up…

  • 1 Leafy green: Because you should always, always have leafy greens in your diet.  The more the merrier/healthier.
  • 1 Veggie that seems to be abundant: You know, that thing that seems to be at every stand.  Get some!  Veggies that are in season always taste best and when something is abundant it is also very affordable.
  • 1 In-season fruit: Satisfy your sweet tooth with some seasonal fruits.  This time of year it’s all about apples pears or if you can find ‘em, persimmons and pawpaws.
  • 1 Frivolous item that you’ve never cooked with before: This is how you learn!  Be brave, be bold.  And then get to googling…
  • Raw Honey: This is nectar of the gods!  Raw honey has tons of medicinal properties.  Its like a low grade antobiotic so it’s amazing for immunity and will help you build up a tolerence to seasonal allergies in your area.
  • Pasture Raised Eggs: You haven’t eaten eggs until you’ve eaten pasture raised eggs.  They just taste better, richer and have way more flavor.  Crack these babies open and prepare to be amazed at the vibrance of the orange yolk.

looks-like-fall

If you’re in the North East, here’s what’s in season right now

  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (Kale, Spinach, Collard Greens)
  • Onion
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Winter Squash (Butternut, Kabocha, Pumpkins…)

What are your favorite seasonal foods and recipes?  We want to know!  Tell us in the comments below!

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Vegetable and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

We don’t like to pick favorites when it comes to food but we’re sorry: Fall food is where it’s at!

We finally feel compelled to turn on the oven again and start roasting our veggies which always bring out their natural sweetness (we love some sweetness)!

This is also the season that brings us squash (pumpkins are included in that family).

There are a million and one ways to prepare a squash, steam it, braise it, roast it, toast it, but one of our favorites it STUFFED.

Below is the perfect Fall Recipe, Vegetable and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash.  This recipe is beautiful for dinner parties or your own special night with your honey (or friends!).  Enjoy!

What are your favorite fall recipes?  What are your favorite squash recipes?  Let us know in the comments below!
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Vegetable and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Servings: 4
Time: 45 minutes

  • 2 small acorn squashes, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a fine mesh colander
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped into a small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped into a small dice
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes

Optional:

  • ½ cup chickpeas, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios (pine nuts would work well too)
  • ½ cup chopped mushrooms
  • Cheese – I recommend shredded raw goat cheese or crumbled feta

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Brush squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast cut side down on a baking sheet until fork soft. Depending on your oven this can range from 25-40 minutes.

Once squash is in the oven prep all vegetables as mentioned above.

Meanwhile, bring quinoa and 1 ½ cups water, 1 teaspoon sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil to a boil in a pot. Reduce heat and simmer covered until water is absorbed and quinoa is soft, about 15 minutes. Fluff with fork and set aside.

To make the vegetable sauté heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add garlic and onions and sauté until onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add zucchini, chickpeas, sage and thyme and any additional vegetables nd continue to cook until everything is softened and brown.

To assemble stuffing fold together vegetable sauté, cooked quinoa, pistachios, red pepper flakes and parsley.

Taste and add salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil if needed.

Fill squash with stuffing and top with cheese if using. Serve with an additional sprinkle of parsley.

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