Top 10 Reasons to Shop at a Farmers Market

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Hello, Friends!  Happy friday!

I’m so excited to visit my favorite farmers market this weekend!  When the market is in season, I spend every Saturday (sometimes other days too) morning shopping local and conversing with the farmers in our town.  I love learning from the farmers and hearing more about their farming practices.  If you wonder how your food is grown and picked, don’t be afraid to ask.  Farmers love to share and provide knowledge.

Did you know that farmers and ranchers receive a small percent of the price of food we eat?  Most of that cost goes towards distribution, marketing, processing and retail.

There are several reasons why I love to shop at the Farmers Market!  Not only do I love shopping local and from small businesses, but I love the quality of farm fresh food.  I am so blessed to live near many farms, so when the fresh and nutritious food is in season, I load up!  Here are several reasons why I love to shop Fresh and Local at the Farmer’s Market.

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1.  Helps the environment

Eating and shopping local saves a large amount of packaging waste, energy and fuel, which is needed when shopping globally.  In addition, farmers commonly use organic or sustainable growing methods, so your food is not dowsed in chemicals and harmful sprays.  Good land stewardship is supported by buying sustainable products.

2.  Support the economy and your local farmers

When we shop at the local farmers markets, we are contributing to the success of new and smaller farms.  In addition, we help to preserve the farmland in our area.  I would much rather give back to my town and the farmers than shop from a store and get produce from “somewhere.”

3.  It’s great for your family

Our family has developed a tradition of going every Saturday.  We have so much fun and look forward to it every week.  When you share this experience with your family, you’re not only spending quality time with them, but your getting them involved.  Kids love to pick out their own items and take them home to prepare.  Plus, there are many markets that have pets and farm animals for children to enjoy.  Don’t forget to bring your puppy dog!  Farmers markets are usually pet friendly too!

4.  Saves money

When you shop at the farmers market, you get much more value for your dollar.  You’re cutting out the middle man and saving more money.  Not to mention, free shipping!  I love to load up on my fresh produce, prep and freeze things for the winter.  I love that I can get 3 peppers for $1 when a bag of organic peppers in the store is much more expensive. I cut them into strips and freeze for stir fry dishes and other meals.  I also freeze them whole (tops and insides removed) for stuffed peppers.  There are many ways to save money while enjoying all of these other benefits.

5.  Get involved with your community

Farmer’s markets often bring friends and family together for conversation, education and activities.  Many farmers markets hold community events, demonstrations, play music and share education about the food.  As I mentioned before, farmers love to talk about their produce and share tips.  We have one farmer at our market who primarily sells tomatoes.  I’ve never seen so many kinds of tomatoes in one place.  I love talking with him because he shares recipes for making fresh salsa and tomato, mozzarella and basil dishes.  Their energy and excitement exudes when they talk about dish ideas.  I love it!

6. freshly picked and in season

Have you ever picked a fresh, ripe tomato right off of the vine and bit in?  It’s an amazing experience and SO delicious!  That’s another thing that I love about the farmers markets.  The food is fresh off the farm and usually brought to the market within hours of picking.  When we get our produce from other areas where transportation is required, it’s usually picked too early and covered in junk for preservation.  Which one do you find more appealing and appetizing?

7.  Treat your senses

Not only do farmers markets provide a fun and energetic environment, but they usually provide a delicious one too.  Many vendors and farmers have samples for you to try their delicious goodies.  Anything from sauces to salsa and meats.  I encourage you to explore the different foods and senses that bring you closer to the farms and nature.  Shopping from the farmer’s market offers a variety of nutritious foods that are in season and readily available.  It’s fun to try new things and experiment with new dishes.

8.  custom sizing

Have you seen the movie “Father of the Bride?  If so, I am sure you remember the scene with the hot dog buns.  It still cracks me up when I think of it!  Seriously, go over to YouTube and see what I am talking about.  Hysterical!

When you shop from the market, you are in control of your  own sizing when it comes to buying produce.  If you need two carrots for a recipe, you can’t go to the store, rip open a large bag of carrots and take two out.  Well, I would not recommend it anyways.  At the farmers market, you can choose if you want two carrots or twenty.  Most food is either weighed, sold in bunches or sold individually.

9.  YOU CAN BUY MORE THAN JUST FRUITS AND VEGGIES

Often times, we think of the farmers market as a place for fresh and local produce.  Did you know that farmers markets provide so much more?  There are usually a large variety of small businesses and vendors, such as wineries, candle makers, florists and many even have dog treats.  I love to buy fresh, local raw honey from the market too.  It’s what I use in my glazed carrots recipe.  Click on the link for the delicious recipe.  Honey Glazed Carrots

10.  it’s just real food

I cannot tell you how much time I used to spend in the store reading labels.  Half of the time, I either couldn’t pronounce the ingredients or didn’t know what something was.  With farmers markets, you don’t need labels for broccoli, spinach, raw honey, tomatoes and kale.  It’s just simple, REAL food!  Instead out pulling out your hair trying to read your processed foods, stop on over to the farmers market for some nutritious farm fresh goodies!

i encourage you to check your local paper or online for farmers markets in your area. the usda has provided a great site for you to look up farmers markets close to your home.  National Farmers Market Directory
Why do you love shopping at a farmers market?  I welcome you to share in the comments section below.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

XO~

Kim

Toxic Beauty

The Toxic Truth Behind Beauty Products

Let’s talk about a dirty topic- toxic beauty and personal care products!

With spring in full swing and our bodies naturally wanting to cleanse, it’s important to consider potential toxic exposure.

Chemicals and toxins are not only in the food we eat and the air we breathe, but they are also present in our personal beauty products.  Examples of, but not limited to, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, and makeup!  The FDA not only poorly regulates our food industry, but does the same with our cosmetic and personal care products.

According to the Environmental Working Group, “Nearly 90 percent of the 10,500 ingredients the FDA has determined are used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by the CIR, the FDA or any other publicly accountable institution.”

Every day, we’re exposed to a ridiculous amount of toxins and chemicals.  Many absorb through our largest organ, our skin.

Our bodies rely on healthy skin for both physical and emotional survival.  Our skin is a waste remover (ridding toxicity), protective barrier, protector from injury, pleasure receptor, natural anti-bacterial and Vitamin D manufacturer.  In addition, our skin is a large diagnostic tool.  Our skin can show potential disease and early warning signs for illness.  Needless to say, our skin is very important in life and we need to take the best care of it.

Using makeup that contains chemicals and toxins is not good for our skin. The toxic ingredients of makeup and personal care items cause a variety of ailments. They disrupt the endocrine system and may have been linked to certain cancers.  Chemicals found in synthetic beauty products injure liver cells, irritate and penetrate the skin and are many times carcinogenic.

When switching to non-toxic products, keep it simple!   Throw out any old products and switch to non-toxic ones. Chemicals and toxic ingredients like parabens are added to makeup to keep mold and bacteria from growing on the packaging. However, these toxic ingredients lead to  disruption in the endocrine system and cause several illnesses.  Other ingredients to watch out for are Phthalates, Synthetic Colors, Triclosan, Toluene and Propylene glycol.  

A common ingredient in many products is Fragrance.  This ingredient is common in perfume, cologne, body wash, conditioner, shampoo and many moisturizers.  Formaldehyde is another popular ingredient that’s linked to skin irritants and harm to the immune system.  In addition to many of the products listed above, it’s found in cleansers, eye shadows and nail polish.

Sunscreen products contain harsh, harmful ingredients.  

The chemicals in sunscreen products function as a sunscreen agent.  These chemicals are easily absorbed into the skin and are linked to disruption in the endocrine system.  Some common names are BAPA, benzophenone, avobenzone, ethoxycinnmate and homosalate.  According to the EWG, of the 1,400+ sunscreens tested, only 5% met their safety standards and over 40% were listed as potentially contributing to skin cancer.  Spray sunscreens may be convenient and easy to apply, but they may also provide additional dangers.

To make sure that you are using toxic-free makeup and personal care products, read the labels carefully. Choose products that contain natural and safer ingredients.  Find products that you trust and feel safe using.  Education and research is key!  Just because you’re spending a ton of money on a product, it doesn’t mean that’s a good quality product.  Check out websites such as EWG’s Skin Deep and GoodGuide

In addition, create a list of all the personal care products you use. As you use up products, start replacing the toxic ones with natural products. Make sure to scan through everything – face lotion, night cream, face foundation, lipstick, face powder. Choosing the right toxic-free makeup can help ensure you and your skin are as healthy as possible.

Research or avoid cosmetic brands because a good percentage of cosmetic brands contain harmful substances. Remember that your skin is the largest organ of your body and very sensitive. Make sure to double-check makeup and cosmetics before buying and applying something on your body.

It is also very important to avoid trusting a brand.  There are many instances where the labels or name brand are the result of clever marketing. Just because you invest in products promoted and advertised well, doesn’t mean that they are good for you.

When it comes to your makeup and other products, it’s very important to make a wise decision. Choosing now to switch to non-toxic personal care products is one of the first big steps to better health.  It’s impossible to completely eliminate toxicity in our day-to-day life, but you can make simple changes for better health today!  Educate yourself, consider possible toxic exposures and drink filtered water.  Avoid foods with additives, chemicals, hormones and antibiotics.  Shopping organic when possible will impact your health a great deal too!

I like to make many of my own products using ingredients like organic coconut oil, organic coffee, organic lemon, essential oils, filtered water and so forth.  Consider what you can switch out and make yourself.

I would love to hear your feedback!  Have you discovered ingredients lurking in your products that you didn’t know were there?  Have you started making adjustments towards improving your own health?

Happy Spring Cleaning!

XOXO,

Kim 

Brussels Sprout Salad

Brussels Sprouts Salad

I’m a huge fan of seasonal eating, but Brussels sprouts are one veggie that I could consume year-round.  Not only are they delicious, but they also provide many health benefits.  They are really east to prepare too!  This Brussels sprout salad is a simple, easy dish that can be served as a side, alone or topped with a protein of choice to make a meal.

Brussels are a food group that is naturally low in fat and calories.  They also provide a good amount of protein.  They are loaded with potassium, calcium, folacin and Vitamin A.  In addition, they provide a good amount of fiber (great for filling you up) and Vitamin K.  Being one of the greatest suppliers of Vitamin K, Brussels are a great choice for keeping the skeletal structure healthy.  This healthy dose of Vitamin K can also help offset poor nutrition and lifestyle habits.

Our immune system and gut health can greatly benefit from Brussels sprouts.  This mighty veggie supplies a large amount of Vitamin C, which is great for combating illness and disease.  Vitamin C helps to reduce inflammation and cell damage, thereby protecting against autoimmune responses and disease.

The phytonutrients, compounds and antioxidants which Brussels provide help support liver function (especially important during the spring season), slow down free radical cell damage and help to detoxify the body.  Again, something which our body naturally wants to do this time of the year as we transition through seasons.

We’ve been learning more about the importance of gut health and its connection to the brain.  Supporting a health gut lining, micro biome and lowered inflammation is important!  Glucosinolates found in Brussels help to protect the lining of the digestive system and stomach. Sulforaphane helps and supports the digestive process, helping to prevent bacteria overgrowth. Fiber, which is provided by this veggie, also aids in support of the digestive system and proper function.

In addition to the many benefits already listed, Brussels also help eyes and skin health.  Furthermore, they may slow the aging process, assist with proper nerve function, may help combat diabetes, balances blood sugar in the body and has been shown to improve brain health.

When cooking Brussels, keep it simple!

As a kid, we may have turned our nose to them because they were served plain and soggy. Personally, I love using them in salads, slaws and roast them for a crisp, tasty finish.  I’m a huge fan of roasting them with avocado oil, coconut oil (or other oils) in a cast iron skillet.  Lightly seasoned or tossed in an infused balsamic.  Want to jazz things up?  Add bacon!

Below is a super simple dish that’s easy to prepare.  When storing or keeping this dish to last longer, I recommend not adding the dressing until you’re ready to serve.  I encourage you to switch it up with seeds, fresh herbs or whatever your taste buds crave.

 

Brussels Sprout Salad

2 cups shredded Brussel sprouts*

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

¼ cup dried cranberries

½ cup shredded carrot

½ cup pumpkin seeds

½ cup Honey Basil Lemon Dressing (see recipe below)

Directions:

Add shredded Brussels sprouts to a large mixing bowl. Top with sliced onion, cranberries, carrot, pumpkin seeds, and dressing. Mix well and serve.

*You can purchase the Brussels sprouts already shredded, or shred them yourself at home with a cheese grater.

Honey Basil Lemon Dressing

Juice of 4 lemons

2 tablespoons honey

1 garlic clove, minced

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried basil

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a fork. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for 7-10 days.

 

Do you have a favorite Brussels sprout recipe that you love?  I welcome you to comment or share below.  Enjoy!

XOXO,

Kim

Spring Into Better Health

As the weather begins to warm up and the days become longer, we may feel a shift in our body and mind. It’s very normal this time of year. It’s a time when our body wants to shed and eliminate things that may have been weighing itself down from the winter.

We yearn to feel lighter and refreshed in mind, body, and spirit!

As the seasons change, a cleanse could be very beneficial. Cleansing should occur at least once or twice a year.  It’s suggested that as the seasons change, a good cleanse can better prepare us for the coming season. Just like the temperature, the foods we eat change throughout the year. Going from spring to summer, the body is preparing itself for some of the busiest months of the year.

Traditionally, cultures all around the world have practiced seasonal cleansing in different ways. Springtime is the time to give your liver some extra love too.  The liver is how the body removes toxins.  That is how the liver earns the spot of one of the hardest working organs!

The liver works with many other organs in our body to detox blood, produce bile and break down hormones.  It acts as a storage facility for our vitamins and minerals. If the liver is not functioning properly, it affects many other areas of our body.

Some more important functions of the liver include removing old blood cells, helping the intestines process nutrients and chemical production for blood clotting.  The liver is also responsible for the breakdown and metabolizing of alcohol and consumed medications, and the production of necessary proteins and cholesterol. When people hear ‘liver disease’, they typically think of alcoholism, but that is not the only cause of liver disease or failure.

Some other risk factors associated with liver disease include low potassium levels, drug use, exposure to certain chemicals, obesity, processed foods, viral infections, and autoimmune diseases. 

If your liver is not performing at its best, you may experience gas, bloating or constipation. Other possible symptoms are heartburn, acid reflux, yellowish tint to skin and eyes, high blood pressure, difficulty losing weight, cognitive difficulties, dark urine, poor appetite, and chronic fatigue.

If you want to support your liver, there are certain foods you should focus on.

These foods include beets, carrots, tomatoes, grapefruit, spinach and citrus fruits.  Cabbage, turmeric, walnuts and  avocados are also beneficial.  Apples, Brussels sprouts, garlic, dandelion root, leafy green vegetables. Also, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green tea, artichoke and olive oil pack many benefits too.  Some examples for alternative grains are quinoa, millet and buckwheat.

There are several food programs, supplements and other programs available to cleanse your liver. It’s important to find the one that is best for you. Consult your doctor if you have any concerns or questions.

Below are some general tips that have worked for me:

  • Hydrate!
  • Eat clean, seasonal, and organic REAL food
  • Exercise regularly or incorporate some type of movement
  • Practice calming techniques like meditation and relaxation
  • Take a good quality probiotic
  • Get the proper amount of sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco products
  • Avoid processed foods and sugar

Adopting a healthier lifestyle or cleansing into the spring season may provide much more energy, improved digestion, healthier and brighter skin, better sleep, reduced stress, and better mental clarity and cognitive functioning; along with a boost to your immune system and more balanced blood sugar levels.

The spring season isn’t just a time for spring cleaning your closet. Especially relevant, it’s important to reflect on things that have been weighing you down or things that may be toxic. Consider different stressors in your life. They play a huge part in your health and body function.

In addition to a spring cleanse, I recommend considering products you may be using, people that are in your life, habits that may need some adjusting, and choices that may or may not be serving you well. Moving forward, listen to your “gut” and give some thought to where small changes could greatly impact your health and happiness.

There is no better time to Spring into Better Health!

XO,

KiM

 

To learn more about my Spring Seasonal Cleanse,

click below!

Spring Cleanse

self love

Love Yourself to Better Health

Many consider February to be “the month of love.”  We often see pink hearts, chocolates, and romance shooting at us like cupid’s arrow.  It’s important to shed light on another kind of love.  “Self-Love” is something that many put on the back burner but should be exercised often.  No matter the day, month or year.

How many times have you said that you’re too busy to incorporate self-love? There isn’t enough time in the day, your workday is long, the kids and your husband need to come first, the dishes are piling up and the laundry needs to be folded. Do you mention any of these common reasons?

Maybe you have a laundry list of your own. Even though life is busy, it’s still important to incorporate self-love. It’s also important to remind yourself that making self-love a priority is not a selfish act.  If anything, when you exercise self-love, not only will you benefit, but those in your life will benefit as well.

Self-love is a positive regard for your own happiness and well-being.

This type of love leads to increased strength and responsibility, mindfulness, increased productivity, increased self-compassion and decreased stress. Studies have shown that when you practice self-love, you are more likely to engage in activities and a lifestyle that contributes to better nutrition, physical fitness and overall improved health.

When thinking about self-love, two examples spoke volumes to me.  Especially during a time in my life when I was lacking a great deal of self-love and placing everyone else before me. The first is the “airplane instruction” example. When traveling on an airplane, we are taught to place and secure our mask before assisting and caring for others. When I first gave this thought some more detail and depth, I immediately thought it was selfish. Then I began to understand the concept more and definitely now see how much it relates to self-love. Our journey can be quite the education tool and reminder.

The second example is the “you cannot pour from an empty cup” concept.  In relationships and life, women especially find themselves burnt out and exhausted because of constant care and responsibility to others. It’s important to constantly ask yourself, “How full is my cup?” If you’re feeling depleted and burnt out, it’s time to add some self-care and love. Doing so consistently will help to keep your cup full and help you maintain better health and happiness.

It’s important to remember to treat yourself with the same love and compassion that you would show to someone you’re in love with. The more you care for yourself, the better equipped you will be to give back to and empower others. The more you give, the more you will receive in return.

Self-love and self-care are much of the same.  Below are some tips that may help you incorporate self-love in your own life.  I encourage you to try to incorporate at least one act every day.  In time, it will become more natural and you will reap the many benefits. Remember, this may be the month of LOVE, but self-love is something to exercise and embrace all of the time.  You don’t need a large budget or a lot of time. Keep it simple, gentle, and see what works for your own unique, beautiful self.

Tips for Practicing Self-Love:

  1. Practice Gratitude: A daily gratitude journal is a great way to express those things you are grateful for.
  2. Self-Acceptance: No matter where you are on your journey, it’s important to tell yourself, “I am enough.”  There is nobody like you and that’s what makes you so special.
  3. Take Time to Be Alone: Being alone with yourself is important when exercising self-love. Take a relaxing bath, go for a walk by yourself or curl up and read a good book.
  4. Make A List of the Things You Love About Yourself: Too often, the self-sabotaging critic is running crazy in our minds.  Whether it’s the critic or the “business” that keeps us from forgetting, take time often (or daily) to read your list.
  5. Accountability and Support: Exercising self-love can take some work. Especially in the beginning. Creating a support-system you trust or finding an accountability partner could be very beneficial.
  6. Find the Joy in Today: Instead of rehashing or reliving anger and shame from the past, focus on the joys of the present.
  7. Allow Yourself to Dream Big: Is there something you’ve always wanted to do?  Now is a great time to explore without placing limiting beliefs and judgement on yourself.
  8. Find Those Things That Inspire You: Passion, purpose and inspiration are big components of life.  What ignites your spark?  What things can you do to feel inspired?
  9. Nourishment and Movement: Fueling your body with foods that nurture you will not only help you feel better but will empower you to take care of YOU! The same goes for movement.  It doesn’t have to be rigorous exercise.  Find what you like and maybe try something new.
  10. Celebrate Your Success: No matter how big or small your accomplishments are, celebrate them!

Click below for addition tips to:

SLOW DOWN

This month and every month, i encourage you to make time for self care and love.  find what works for you and make it a part of your lifestyle.
 please share this post with anyone that you think may benefit. ❤

xoxo,

kim