I feel like I've been something of a huge killjoy regarding food on here lately, so here's some tasty news.
1. Dark chocolate is good for you in small amounts. It not only has high antioxidant levels, but it now has a clinical study that shows it reduces blood pressure. Granted, the allowance is small, but a little chunk of dark chocolate goes a long way.
Try this. Cook up a cup of plain, whole oats (not pre-sweetened, packaged outs). Toss in 1 tbsp of peanut butter and one tbsp (NOT heaping) of chocolate chips. Add just a little brown sugar. Stir it up, and enjoy a breakfast that tastes like an oatmeal cookie. It's best with a tall glass of cold milk, of course.
2. You don't have to go all-organic. It's simply not worth it in some cases. One reason organic fruits and veggies are so expensive is that they are shipped from across the globe. By the time it gets to rural Kentucky, it's old and has lost a lot of nutrients. Buy from your local farmer's market. The nutrients and money saved likely outweighs the pesticide levels that we worry about.
Besides, many thick-skinned fruits and vegetables absorb very little pesticide (bananas, for example). More porous foods like strawberries or thin-skinned foods like grapes may be worth their organic price, but local and non-organic food is often more nutritious than store-bought organic.
For pregnant women and small children, low pesticide levels are important, simply because the body weight of a fetus or an small child is proportionally much lower than adults. Therefore, ingesting pesticides has a greater impact. Therefore, with small kids and expectant moms, organic is probably best if you can swing it.
I am a big organic food supporter, but having an "organic" sticker does not automatically make it a better choice every time for everyone.
3. Almonds lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Buy some raw almonds and place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and toast the nuts for 6-7 mins. Take them out and let them cool. They will be super-crunchy and flavorful. Replace a couple hundred calories of your daily intake with a good handful of almonds (about 16 individual nuts), and enjoy the taste and the health benefits.
4. Use spicy food to reduce inflammation. If you suffer from sore muscles, tendons, or arthritis, partake of some hot salsa or other food of your choice. Cayenne, chili peppers, or crushed red pepper are commonly used in many Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes.
There are lots of others I can put on here. But, I mainly wanted to say that eating well does not mean that we have to eat blandly or have our food become boring.
Enjoy the holiday tomorrow.