Archive for the ‘Reading Ingredients and Labels’ Category


Learning to Eat Real Foods

In Nutrition,Organic,Organic Foods,Raw foods,Reading Ingredients and Labels,Reading Nutrition Labels on January 24, 2014 by organicconversion Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

red appleRight now I’m still juicing + food daily, but I’m working on actually tracking and meeting my daily nutrition goals for fiber, vitamins and minerals.

It’s been interesting to review and learn new things about what foods have which vitamins and minerals this week (lots of web research). I’ve had to find some new foods and things I haven’t eaten regularly at the grocery store this week. I’ve even had two trips to the health food store for things my grocery doesn’t carry.

I started with what I was normally eating anyway and looked at where my nutrition was…now I’m figuring out what needs to be added or changed to meet my nutrition needs and not just be within my calorie range.

This week I’ve been working on how to incorporate the nuts & seeds I need and stay within my calorie range…and…getting my body used to eating them!

You can get a good visual of where you are low, not just on a random day, but across the whole week using a free food tracking tool like the one at that I use.

My first go around, here was my list of things that were really low & a few things you can eat with those vitamins and minerals!

Iron=Red meat, spinach
Copper= Cashews, pumpkin seeds, tahini, sunflower seeds
Selenium= Brazil nuts, tuna, sunflower seeds
Potassium= White beans, spinach, potatoes in skin, acorn squash, salmon
Phosphorus=sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds

For me, it seems like if several things are low on my plan that day, I add a cup of spinach to my plan and all those numbers shoot up to where they are supposed to be (Iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium etc). One Brazil nut has 33 calories, but it also has your entire day of selenium in one nut. Cashews have a lot of calories (320 in .5 cup) so a little goes a long way for nuts & seeds and you have to measure. Cashews also have a ton of copper which I haven’t been getting anywhere else before adding them.

On Spark nutrition entries people are lazy and only put the standard food label values in…that label doesn’t list all the vitamins and minerals in a food. You have to check and either look it up and create your own entry or “favorite” the ones you find that do include it. Nuts and seeds are a good example why that is bad. They have a lot of calories and high fat so people avoid them. They have carbs+protein+(good) fat (a whole food). When you look up the actual nutrition nuts and seeds have a variety of minerals and vitamins in them…naturally vs. fortified foods like milk or cereal where it is only “healthy” because they’ve added powdered vitamin to it.

When I was very little (4 and 5 years old) we lived with my grandparents. When I look back now I can see so many things that were part of a healthy lifestyle that we did, that were lost when we didn’t live with them anymore. I remember my grandma juicing and making homemade orange juice and V8 like veggie juices, carrot juice…I also remember nightly walks after dinner with the cat following us and things like the exercise bike with the speedometer I used to like to ride and the floor exercises my grandma taught me back then. As I’m rediscovering, reviewing, re-learning and learning totally new things about food, exercise and being healthy things like that come back to me.



Natural food labeling vs. Organic food labeling

In Natural Foods,Organic,Organic Product Reviews,Organic vs Non-Organic,Reading Ingredients and Labels,Reading Nutrition Labels on September 11, 2013 by organicconversion

Remember, “natural” food is not the same thing as USDA Organic. Take a look at these Wal-mart fruit bars…(Yes, I found out only later that these are only sold at Wal-mart & Sam’s Club and are not really a regular brand. That would have changed my buying decision, but too late now).

ImageI recently bought these at Wal-mart…looking for a better option that isn’t so expensive as the one I usually buy. I know, big mistake. First, notice the 100% natural on the box…that does not mean organic!

The one we got was the “Caribbean Mix” frozen fruit bar.

Ingredients: Strawberries, Pineapple, Mango, Passion Fruit, Coconut Flakes, Water, Cane Sugar, Natural Stabilizers (Guar Gum, Carob Bean Gum, Carrageenan), Citric Acid.

The ingredients look okay though the stabilizers really aren’t great for you. Carrageenan is a derivative of seaweed. Some studies indicate that it can cause cancer in animals. People can also be allergic. It can irritate the bowel. You can read more about it online at Charis Holistic Center where there are some nice articles on it.

Really, if you look at the nutrition label these are pretty much just sugar.

ImageWorse than all that, they tasted like rotten fruit! We threw them away. My kids are not picky either, they tasted that gross. Save your money and spend a bit more on the good stuff or freeze your own fruit pops.


What is semi-organic? What is organic pesticide?

In Organic,Organic Foods,Organic vs Non-Organic,Reading Ingredients and Labels,Reading Nutrition Labels,Semi-organic on January 9, 2012 by organicconversion Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

What is semi-organic?

Every once in awhile I tag a post or label a recipe “semi-organic”, thinking this would be obvious to people what that means, but I guess it isn’t always obvious since I got this question this week from a reader of this blog!

For me, “semi-organic” simply means that not all of the ingredients in a product I’m reviewing are identified as organic or that not all of the ingredients in the recipe I actually made at home and wrote about were organic. Since I’m trying to incorporate organic items in my cooking, but I’m also on budget most of my day to day cooking is a mixture of organic and non-organic items.

I think that this is a more realistic picture of the average person trying to incorporate more organic items in their health & beauty products and in their cooking than having 100% organic cooking or 100% organic products for cooking, but I’m open to hearing other views and experiences so feel free to comment or just send me an e-mail.


What is organic pesticide?

I did notice something interesting/misleading on “organic” food packaging recently, a package was marked organic, but with an asterisk saying they use short term, non-lasting pesticides. Hmmm, what does that mean?

Want to know more?

Here is an article from the University of Colorado Extension about chemicals allowed in “organic gardening”:

Check out this interesting article out of Canada that talks about U.S. organic farms using “organic pesticides” with naturally occurring oils and sulfur accounting for most of it.



Mmm Salsa!

In Healthy Organic Recipes,Organic,Organic Foods,Organic Product Reviews,Organic vs Non-Organic,Reading Ingredients and Labels on October 7, 2011 by organicconversion Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

I made real salsa for the first time tonight yum! I had a great jar of Desert Pepper Divino Mild salsa and Desert Pepper Chile con Queso set out too which was great, but I also made real salsa for the first time. My friend Dawn got to be my guinea pig-um-yeah…tester! First try-too chunky and diced tomato-like, but after a quick trip to the blender it was great! Who knew that those purple Spanish onions had such a kick? I’ve never cooked with them before, I usually use the yellow “cooking” onions at home. I also made homemade guacamole, yum! We had friends over and ate super cheesy nachos for my son’s b-day and watched Kangaroo Jack!


I guess it was a night for trying out new recipes!

Now, I bought the Desert Pepper salsas in the organic foods section of my store and I looked around online and it is sold at a lot of organic stores, BUT on the jar the ingredients don’t specifically say the veggies it is made with are organic, it just says no preservatives and no additives (which is great), but what do I call that- SEMI-organic? If you know if it is, comment and let me know!

Hmm, we took lots of pictures, but I need to start taking pictures of the food I make!





Paya Organics at the Kalahari (Wisconsin Dells)

In Minnesota,Organic,Organic Beauty Reviews,Organic Companies,Organic Product Reviews,Reading Ingredients and Labels,Wisconsin on June 19, 2011 by organicconversion Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Paya Organics Review

by Kristina Blasen (June 2011)

Last week, we were on vacation at Wisconsin Dells and spent a night at the Kalahari resort on our last day before heading back to Minnesota. It was pretty neat that they had Paya organics shampoo, conditioner and bath soap in the room.

According to their website, Paya products have:

•Biodegradable liquids and soaps made with natural and organic ingredients:
No Parabens, No Phthalates, No Mineral Oil

• Bottles made of PET, the most recyclable resin available

• Cartons & wrappers made with post-consumer recycled materials

• Cruelty free – never tested on animals

• All bottles and soaps are made in the USA

After being in the chlorine all day my hair was feeling dry and nasty, but this shampoo and conditioner worked great. The pool smell was gone and my hair was back to normal. It was strange though that the Kalahari is still using chlorine which is terrible for the body (lots of signs about showering off so you don’t get chemical burns and irritated skin, eyes, nose and throat were posted everywhere) when so many of the other hotels and resorts in Wisconsin Dells have switched to salt which is wonderful for the skin, not irritating and much nicer to play in!

We also stayed at the Wilderness Hotel where we had a great time, but they had the run-of-the-mill unidentifiable whitish shampoo in their bath though they had already switched to salt or some kind of non-chlorine mixture in their pools.


Sample Girl Goes Organic!

In Minnesota,Natural Foods,Organic,Organic books,Organic Companies,Organic Foods,Organic Product Reviews,Reading Ingredients and Labels,Reading Nutrition Labels on May 26, 2011 by organicconversion Tagged: , , , , , , ,

The Adventures of Sample Girl

The Adventures of Sample Girl by Kristina Blasen


Well, I wasn’t thinking of posting here about my book The Adventures of Sample Girl until I was making the sneek peek preview tonight and realized that I thought about going “organic” a long time before I ever started this blog!

There are some funny stories in here about how bad some of the “organic” samples I was giving out actually taste when I tried them out before serving them to the customers and how their “healthy” reputation didn’t always match the ingredients on the box!

Check it out!

Here’s a link to the free preview!

You can buy the book here:


Organic Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup (Recipe)

In Healthy Organic Recipes,Natural Foods,Organic,Organic Foods,Organic vs Non-Organic,Reading Ingredients and Labels,Reading Nutrition Labels,Toxic Chemicals in Food,Toxic Food Additives on April 12, 2011 by organicconversion

Going Organic, Easy Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

by Kristina Blasen (2011)

My son loves Chicken Noodle soup. I think eating chicken noodle soup is fine, but companies like Campbell’s add preservatives that don’t need to be in there and when it is canned soup the metal from the can itself can leach into the food. There is a lot of information about this danger and studies have been done on BPA-related chemicals leaching into food (which is common). Check this out (2007) if you want to learn more about those studies.

Here’s the ingredients in Campbell’s Double Noodle Soup:


I checked out Eden foods organic canned goods since they don’t use BPA in their cans to see if they had a good alternative to Campbell’s, but they didn’t so I went to plan B, making my own homemade and trying to get a recipe as close to the familiar version so my soup-lover would actually eat it!


2 pts. no-chicken organic broth (I used Pacific, but be VERY careful with this, read the label and make sure all ingredients are organic vegetables and spices with no preservatives or anything added. Beware of modified yeast which is basically 78% MSG.)

1 bunch organic celery, chopped

1 bag organic baby carrots, whole

1 large organic yellow onion, chopped

sea salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)

1 tablespoon organic garlic, chopped

3 organic chicken breasts (I cook them in there whole then take them out later and chop)

1 16 oz. package organic noodles (organic durham wheat)


Add all ingredients except the noodles to the CrockPot and cook on High for 2 hours. Remove chicken and chop on cutting board. Return chopped chicken to pot. Depending on when dinner is…turn to low/or keep warm setting until almost time for dinner.

Make the noodles separately in the last 15 minutes on the stove (according to package directions) and add them last or they will get mushy and lose their shape. I used twist noodles since my son likes those and they are more kid-friendly.

For the adults: I add a handful of spinach or kale for greens to my bowl and put the soup on top.