Saturday, December 31, 2011

What Are Whole Foods?

How do we decide what food we should be eating to keep our body in top shape? All the same are whole foods, organic food, and raw foods? Join US for a journey to find out what foods are whole foods. Where to source them and how to prepare meals our families will love.

The keyword on this trip is unprocessed. Whole food is a term, which refers to foods that have not been subjected to some form of process or refinement or at a push has been exposed to minimal interference to its original form. These type of foods are not always organic and vice-versa.

Many or in fact most of the foods in our supermarkets have been processed in some form or another. In their natural form, foods retain their nutritional content. Once sugar, additives, salt or fat are added to improve the flavor or extend its shelf life food loose some if not most of its nutritional value it is no longer a whole food. Cooking food has the same effect and it is for this reason that a diet of whole foods will often contain a high percentage of raw foods.

Where would you go to find the best whole foods available?

Each season has its own of fruits crop, vegetables meat and fish and these will be the best at any given time to buy.

Buy local: in many cities and towns, regular farmers markets are a fixed item on the calendar. Find out what foods are in season and restrict yourself to buying only those. A true farmer's market will be one where you will find fresh unprocessed whole produce. The one exception is produce that has been packaged in conveniently sized portions. These markets are a source of free-range eggs and chicken.

Should you be fortunate enough to have an independent butcher in your area, you can find out where they source their meat. Buy as much local unprocessed produce as you can. This will of course encourage best-sellers of to increase their volumes of whole foods.

Convenience vs nutritional value: As with all things in life we do have to make trade-offs from time to time. If you are not able to find a suitable fresh ginger, the next best choice will be freshly frozen foods. Peas are a good example as they are mostly picked and quick-frozen within hours. You may have to do some research to establish which brands are the best and do not add any preservatives or dyes for the sake of appearances. However, there will be a loss of some nutritional value, but nothing near that of other processed foods. Never buy more than you want to use for your family before the food starts going off.

Preparing foods with whole foods: where possible, use fruit and vegetables in their natural state and if you do decide to cook then try to use methods such as steaming or baking in the oven rather than frying. Make generous use of herbs and spices to flavor your food rather than adding salt, sugar, sweeteners or fat. Preferably use butter and not margarine and in limited quantities.

You may ask why we should avoid cooking food where possible. Whole foods contain the enzymes required to help your body digest the food and these enzymes are destroyed when exposed to heat exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Ever wondered why you feel tired after eating - if the enzymes have been destroyed your body will have to use alternative energy from its own resources to digest your meal.

Eating these type of foods can initially be a bit difficult, as we are not used to the flavors. This is why it is important to plan your meals and introduce the foods by adding or substituting to your tried and trusted recipes.

As your and your family's taste buds become accustomed to new flavors, it will become easier to increase the volume of whole foods in your meals. Use options such as smoothies to introduce new fruits to your family. Bulk up salads with a variety of fresh green leaves (baby spinach, rocket, broccoli leaves and even dandelion leaves) and add steamed fish or grilled chicken with homemade dressings using vegetable oils and lemon rather than vinegars.

The road to eating truly whole foods at every meal, every day may be a long and windy one - but once you and your family start feeling the benefits and living healthy lives you will be happy that you started the journey of a lifetime.

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