The American diet has evolved over recent decades to rely increasingly on highly processed convenience food that has been developed to accommodate high production volume and our busy lifestyles. Often (but not always) these foods contain excessive preservatives, additives and other additional ingredients that not only diminish the quality of the food, but that are bad for your digestive system and health.
Rather than dwelling on the negative though, let’s keep things upbeat and focus on conscious consumption choices that we can turn into consistent habits to enhance our lives.
When developing more conscious consumption, looking at ingredient lists is key. As a general rule, the fewer number of ingredients the better. If the ingredients listed are real, whole foods with names you recognize and can pronounce, even better. Avoid long ingredient lists and ingredients that look like they came out of a chemistry textbook.
Organic food will yield a higher quality of food and less chemical exposure, so buying organic is always recommended. Cage-free, organic and grass fed meats are recommended as well. When organic options are not available, eyeball your product choices and take the physically smallest one. Genetically modified meat and produce are unnaturally enhanced to be bigger and weigh more. Avoid giant produce and meat filets (especially chicken and fish).
Although changing, much of the country’s diet still consists of processed foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar. Conscious consumption focuses on lowering consumption of refined, processed foods and consuming more organic choices, as well as a sufficient amount of protein. Your nutritional or wellness professional can help you determine what an adequate amount of protein is for you.
Eating well is critical to maintaining nutrient delivery and metabolic function. Because shopping, preparing and consuming food can often become burdensome and time-consuming, hundreds of convenience food companies have emerged to accommodate the demand for low-to-no-prep food. While appearing as otherwise healthy, many of these foods contain hidden preservatives used to maintain food freshness during delivery. This is where checking the ingredient list becomes handy. Again, fewer ingredients are better.
A good place to start is with those store-bought salad dressings in your refrigerator or pantry. Salad dressings are notorious for the diminished quality of their ingredients and the abundance of additives and preservatives. In fact, most store-bought dressings are full of unhealthy ingredients that sadly diminish the overall quality of that “healthy” salad you just made.
To point you in the right direction, here is a quick recipe for a wholesome and homemade salad dressing that is not only healthy but that tastes great too! Enjoy, and cheers to conscious consumption!
Coconut Cilantro Dressing
1 can coconut milk, chilled overnight
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
dash of black pepper
1. Chill can of coconut milk overnight. Do not shake the cans up AT ALL. Carefully turn the can over and open from the bottom. Drain out the liquid, and scoop the white cream into a blender. Discard liquid.
2. Add remaining ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Chill 20 minutes and serve.
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