Shopping for Produce A – Z: ASPARAGUS

Shopping for Produce A – Z: ASPARAGUS

Asparagus: Another Nutrition Powerhouse

Fresh asparagus tastes better and retains more nutritional value. Asparagus is a great source of vitamin K, folate, inulin, and glutathione. What are the benefits of these nutrients? Here are ten ways asparagus can improve your health and wellness:



  1. Helps relieve symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.
  2. Helps relieve symptoms of PMS.
  3. Prevents progression of cataracts.
  4. Helps control blood sugar.
  5. A great source of folic acid in pregnancy.
  6. Reduces acidity in blood.
  7. Helps prevent and dissolve kidney stones.
  8. Strengthens the heart.
  9. Cancer prevention.


Since aparagus’ nutrients deteriorate quickly, it’s best to purchase what you need and consume it within a day or two.

Look for thin, tender spears that are dark green, shiny and straight, not bent. The tips should be tightly closed and green or purplish. The cut end of the stalk should be smooth and moist.

Skip white asparagus. It’s just green asparagus that’s been buried in soil so it never sees daylight. It’s tougher in texture and only has 1/7 the antioxidants as the green.

The best asparagus will come from your local Farmer’s Markets. Look for farmers who display their asparagus on ice; they’ll be the most tender because not chilling them makes the toughen.


As mentioned above, asparagus is best when eaten on the day you purchase it so that the nutrients aren’t lost and flavor hasn’t deteriorated. If you plan to keep it for a day or two store is in a microperforated bag. It’ll last only a few days at the most.



Asparagus is best steamed; it only takes five minutes and increases its antioxidant value by 30%

But Why Does My Pee Smell So Bad After I Eat Asparagus?

Studies show 40 percent of people said they could smell the odor in their urine after eating asparagus, and 60 percent said they could not; more women than men.

The odor is due to your body’s reaction to some of the natural chemicals found in the green stalks. Scientists aren’t exactly sure which chemical or chemicals are responsible for creating the odor, but it’s probably due to some of the sulfur-containing compounds found in asparagus

Shopping For Produce A – Z: ARTICHOKES

Shopping For Produce A – Z: ARTICHOKES

Artichokes Are a Nutritional Powerhouse

Artichokes are a lot of work; no two ways about it. But, are they worth it? You bet. They’re surprisingly high in antioxidants and fiber giving them excellent cardiac benefits. They’re high in inulin, a prebiotic that support a healthy gut, and folate, an important nutrient that prevents birth defects, blood disease, and possible cancer.


“After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual “food” out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps.”  -Miss Piggy



Choose large artichokes that have densely packed leaves. They’ll have larger hearts than the slim, pointy ones. Artichokes with a thorn at the end of each leaf have a nuttier flavor; and varieties without thorns have softer flesh.


Artichokes take almost an hour to cook. So, if you’re looking for a faster but equally nutritious option go with packaged hearts; they’re still high in antioxidants and low in calories. Ideally, purchase them in glass packed in water, olive oil, or a spice mixture.


If you see purple artichokes, get them! They’re rich in cancer-fighting compounds anthocyanins which makes them even more nutritious.


Keep artichokes refrigerated in the crisper drawer and eat them within three days. They spoil quickly. Artichoke hearts have a longer shelf life

Shopping For Produce A – Z: APPLES

Shopping For Produce A – Z: APPLES

FLF Blog

Demystifying the Grocery Aisles

An Apple A Day...

Apples are loaded with antioxidants and support cardiovascular and respiratory health and help keep blood sugar balanced. Also, they’ve been linked to a reduction to the risk of asthma and lung cancer.

Sadly, apples are also on the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Dirty Dozen List. A conventional apple contains up to 45 different pesticides!


Always choose ORGANIC. Select apples with firm skin, no bruises, don’t feel spongy, or give at all when you press them gently.

Most Nutritious Varieties:

There are 7,500 varieties of apples around the world. Mildly sweet varieties like, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith (the most nutritious apple; 13x more phytonutrientsthan Ginger Gold. High in fiber and polyphenols and promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the colon), Honeycrisp (my favorite other than the Gravensteins that grow at my home),  McIntosh, Melrose, Red Delicious (the dark red skin is full of healthy antioxidants).

Least Nutritious Varieties:

Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Empire, Ginger Gold, and Elstar.


Apples can last up to ten times longer when stored in the refrigerator. Put them in your crisper drawer and set the humidity to high.



News, Trends, Reviews, & Stories About Good Food.



What does 2019 hold for the future of natural foods and supplements? Here is some food for thought about making choices in the aisles and supporting producers who hold the same values that are important to you.

  1. Regenerative Agriculture: Regenerative Agriculture is agriculture that IMPROVES the land; rather than is “less bad”. Manufacturers, producers, suppliers, and investors work together to bring products to market that rebuild the soil and biodiversity to protect the future of our food.
    Market manifestations: 
    White Leaf Provisions Biodynamic Apple Sauce + Cinnamon
    Patagonia Provisions Mussels
    Dr. Bronner’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
  2. Plant Based Diets Go Mainstream: Sales of plant-based foods like meat, eggs, and dairy substitution have grown year over year. Watch for more products in conventional grocery stores. Also, you’ll see more celebrity athlete endorsements dispelling the fallacy that plant-based eating hinders athletic performance.
    Market manifestations:
    Milkadamia Unsweetened Vanilla Macadamia Milk
    Sweet Earth Natural Foods Veggie Lovers Pizza
    Savory Wild Portabella Jerky Roasted Garlic & Black Pepper
    JUST Egg
  3. Glyphosate (RoundUp) Awareness: The Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted studies funding potentially higher-than-safe levels of the chemical in oat-based products – Hello Cheerios! Monsanto was involved in a high-visibility lawsuit bringing much more awareness to the Glyphosate issue and contamination.
    Market manifestations:
    Foodstirs Modern Baking Organic Chewy Granola Oat Bar Baking Mix
    MegaFood One Daily
    Earnest Eats Superfood Oatmeal Blueberry + Chia + Cinnamon
  4. Time-Honored Ingredients: Ancient wisdom comes back by ancient grains, fermentation, Ayurveda, and herbal remedies. Ingredients like turmeric, ginger, mushrooms, apple cider vinegar, and heirloom grains like amaranth, frekeh, farro, einkorn, emmer, and a host of others trace their roots to other cultures and our grandmothers to cure ailments. These heritage ingredients live on because they work.
    Market manifestations:
    HANAH One Botanical Supplement
    Dram Apothecary Ginger Switchel Drinking Vinegar Concentrate
    Ka-Pop! Olive Oil and Sea Salt Ancient Grain Popped Chips
  5. Freezer Foods Are Cool: Forget about Swanson’s TV dinners of the past. Over the past five years, high-quality, crave-worthy forzen items have hit the shelves. As we now “cope with chaos” in our daily lives, these freezer meals offer relief when cooking a delicious and healthy meal just isn’t in the cards.
    Market manifestations:
    Wildscape Gochujang Cauliflower with Brussels Sprouts, Chickpeas & Quinoa, Riced Cauliflower, Cashews, and Pickled Onions
    Luvo Kale Ricotta Ravioli
    Beetnik Organic Lemongrass Chicken
  6. Keto, Keto, Everywhere: Keto-friendly options abound across food, beverage, and supplements. Keto products prioritize healthy fats and vilify sugar for improved health. Like other low carb diets, keto owes a lot of its success to celebrities and influencers who have used the program to lose weight.
    Market manifestations:
    Dang Bar Lemon Matcha
    Koia Keto Chocolate Brownie
    Nui Chocolate Chip Cookie
  7. Radical Changemakers: Transparency, sustainability, and mission-based companies have been important trends in the natural foods industry. They consider the impact on plants, animals, and humans all along the supply chain from farmer to consumer to waste. This year natural businesses will focus on conscious practices, not just by sustainability efforts but by changing their business models to a more specific mission-based focus. How will they do that? By finding ingredient suppliers who care about regenerative agriculture and fair wages for their people, by getting involved in policy making, and brave social and environmental commitments.
    Market manifestations:
    Kuli Kuli Moringa Energy Bar Black Cherry
    Clif Bar & Company Fruit Smoothie Filled Strawberry Banana
    Numi Golden Chai
  8. Tapping Into the Endocannabinoid System: CBD is barrelling into 2019 appearing in products from supplements to snacks, beverages, and body care. These products are touted as being a way to help with pain, anxiety, inflammation, and healthy sleep. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substance Act. (CBD is derived from hemp and does not contain THC and doesn’t make you high.)
    Market manifestations:
    Charlotte’s Web Original Formula Hemp Extract Oil Mint Chocolate
    Botanical Rush Midnight Beauty Night Cream
    Weller Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites with Hemp Extract
  9. Energy Evolution: We have trouble falling asleep at night, and then we have trouble staying awake during the day. As a result, we turn to energy drinks to keep us awake and productive. Reformulated energy drinks are emerging offering lower doses, “micro-dosing,” of caffeine (35 – 45mg instead of 150mg). Micro-dosing suggests that smaller amounts of caffeine support productivity and minimize jitters.
    Market manifestations:
    Rasa Koffee Adaptogenic Herbal Koffee
    Tempo Sparkling Matcha Raspberry + Lime
    MATI Citrus Energy Drink


Disclosure: some of the above links are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and purchase a product.

Source: New Hope Network, Natural News Today 1/3/19






It’s Cider Time! Get Crafty With Craft Ciders

It’s Cider Time! Get Crafty With Craft Ciders

Stop Drinking When Your Lips Go Numb

We have a family rule, when drinking home brewed hard apple cider, STOP when your lips go numb. Those that don’t heed the warning open themselves to public humiliation when they face plant in their dinner plate. You know who you are. I LOVE hard cider; it reminds me of my favorite season of the year – Fall. Our family gathers for an annual cider press day at the end of October every year; we cross our fingers hoping to get a freeze on the trees before the big day. When the apples freeze before they’re picked and pressed, the sweetness improves and the juiciness increases. We get together, pick the apples from the Winesap trees, take turns pressing the apples, sampling the sweet and tart juice, and divvying it up. A few gallons are always allotted for hard cider. It’s pure and delicious without junk added to it.  Hard cider


Since discovering I have Celiac Disease, hard cider has become my “go-to” instead of beer. Some people think of cider as “apple beer” but craft cider is closer to wine than beer. Think different varietals and fermentation methods. However, not all ciders are created equal. Craft Cider increases in popularity and becomes more mainstream every year. And that means that imposters abound serving up lower quality ciders with added “flavors” and preservatives.



Getting Crafty With Hard Cider

craft ciderWhat is Craft Cider? When making craft cider, the focus is on how and with what, the product is made. It has to come from 100% fresh pressed cider apples. The quality improves when apples are fermented and matured in small batches without added sugar, sometimes small amounts of quality sugars or honey are used to aid fermentation. No concentrated juice or artificial ingredients are added. Craft ciders may vary a bit from batch to batch while big producers will have more consistency. Many craft ciders are only sold locally or regionally. Like wine, there are unique characteristics to each regions apples and climate; if you see a local craft cider give it a try. It’s a lovely way to experience the area and support local producers. Commercial ciders are often produced by big beer companies and are shipped long distance increasing the environmental footprint.

This article in Bon Appetit goes into more detail about what goes into making cider, what to look for when selecting a cider.

If you live in Washington or plan on visiting Washington soon, I’ve included a map and directory of Washington cider makers.

As we spiral into the holiday season, put hard cider on the drink menu this year. When out making merry, look for a local craft hard cider; ask your bartender about the producer. Look for craft cocktails made with hard cider.


But… careful if your lips go numb.


Washington Cider Map & Directory