If you have been reading my blog over the last few weeks, then you know that I have turned a new leaf, trying to balance my love of alcohol and cigarettes with a healthy diet and exercise. They do say you can’t have best of both worlds, but I actually think you can. Maybe I am completely delusional, I guess we can’t really know until this new lifestyle has a bit more longevity.

Since I started this change a few weeks back, I have been using my extra time to research healthier options of the foods I love, or just general research on items I should incorporate into my diet. Of course, when you go to the internet in search of learning more about health, you are literally bombarded. Luckily for me, I used to be somewhat of a health nut so I can kind of filter out the B.S from the good stuff.

I figured since health has been a pretty massive topic for most over the last decade (due to the obesity crisis caused by all the crappy food we have so easily available), maybe sharing what I have started eating and learned about would be good for others. After all, I am always trying to do my good deeds so I don’t go to hell for swearing and drinking so much!

Typical Day *Ballin*

Typical Day *Ballin*

1. Organic Bread

I am sure there may be many skeptics out there when it comes to organic food. I know this because I was one of them.  I have never really bothered to buy anything organic in my life. Items are generally super pricey and a lot of companies have jumped on that gravy train, selling everything “organic”, even when it makes no difference. For example, an organic banana is pointless because  you obviously don’t eat the peel, and the peel is the only place where you need to worry about pesticide. Anyway. If you are thinking of trying organic foods, I say the first thing you try, is bread.

I think most people, by now, know that white bread really isn’t good for you. It’s made up  of unrefined white flour that doesn’t digest well because it simply lacks dietary fibre and nutrients, all together. It also slows your metabolism, check out this link for more on why white bread is bad. If you choose to pay a bit more for your bread and go organic, I can guarantee you won’t turn back. I  bought my first loaf last week, and I am converted. I have literally never tasted bread so amazing. I could literally ramble on for this whole article on how good it was. Ahh. I paid a hefty €6 for a single (large) loaf, so for next time I am going to make my own, which most people do. When I make the first batch, I will definitely share that in a future post 🙂 .

I will quickly tell you why organic bread is so much better than the latter. Organic bread strays away from the typical modern method of cooking bread quickly to aid convenience, which involves additives that reduce nutrients and overall goodness. Organic bread usually has ingredients like oat bran, which is great for cholesterol. Overall, its just more natural to eat the organic bread, not having to worry about the undigested bits that remain after white bread. Quite a disturbing thought, actually…

organic-flax-lg

Organic Bread w/ Seeds = The Best

2. Coconut Oil

Another product that has had a lot of attention over the last while, although I am a new convert. I remember reading about coconut oil about a year ago while  living in London, and was very excited to start using it but it just never happened as I was turned off by the high levels of saturated fat in coconut oil. After doing some further research recently, I am fully convinced that  coconut oil is a real super food. Not only that, but it does wonders for your hair, skin, nails, basically your whole body.

If you don’t know much about coconut oil, let me pass on some of my new-found knowledge to you. After detailed reading I tend to believe that it can help with weight loss and/or maintaining a healthy weight. Why? Because it speeds up your metabolism (burning calories, faster), slows your digestion (so you feel fuller, longer) and is a great detox for your body.  One thing I have read often, is to buy only organic, raw, extra virgin coconut oil. It does cost more, but if you buy other types than you may be subject to coconut oils that have had added chemicals. Kinda defeats the point!

Aside from the whole weight loss factor, it makes for a damn good hair treatment. Just leave it in your hair for no longer than 12 hours (while you sleep?) and wash it out, your hair will be so soft and healthy. For your skin, apply it to your face maybe 3 times a week at night, and it will glow. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will just in case, I am not a doctor, these are my personal experiences, so follow at your own risk. There.  Please don’t attempt to sue me, Thanks.

coconut-oil-uses

Coconut oil. I put that sh*t on everything. Wait, that’s Franks Red Hot.

3. Fennel

There is nothing extremely “super” about fennel, it’s just really damn good. It has this really unique taste to it that I love. It goes really great with steamed spinach, feta cheese and white vinegar, I think that is my favorite recipe for fennel.

So I really thought I was going to have nothing to say about fennel, other than it is awesome. After a brief Google  search  I see that it really is a super food. This website lists that it helps with about 100 things, half of which I have never heard of (what is “angina”? hehe – so immature). The benefits that stand out to me are the fact that it is a mild appetite suppressant, helps aid digestion, and angina (haha, I had to). Ok, so I stand corrected, fennel really is a “super food”. I like to simply buy this yummy veg at the market and cook it, but you an also get fennel tea or capsules. Whatever you fancy!

fennel

Fennel – Best Vegetable Ever

4. Oolong Tea

If I was writing this article five months ago, I would have definitely listed “Green Tea” here, rather than oolong tea. But, a little trip into an Asian supermarket changed that. I knew I had heard of oolong tea before, which I should have considering it is quite a famous tea for those who like to actually drink tea. Tea. Tee. Ok, sorry, distraction. So I picked up a box of oolong for a mere €1 and thought I would give it a shot. It has a really unique but good taste and is really great after meals. Many tea-lovers would see oolong tea as a cross between green and black – strong like black and clear like green.

Oolong tea is from China, and they have drank it for a very long time (centuries). It is said that oolong tea is another great aide in weight loss, preventing skin aging, prevents cancer, strengthens teeth, the list goes on. These few reasons, alone, make it very worth while  to reduce the coffee a bit and opt for some oolong tea. I am a serious coffee addict and have been working on this switch, and I have to say it has been easier than expected! if you like tea, I definitely recommend trying this out.

oolong-tea

Unique-Tasting (But not puke-worthy) Oolong Tea

5. Beets

Ahh, beets. A real childhood memory for me.  My mom used to always buy pickled beets in a jar, and I am pretty sure I would eat them like any typical kid eats candy. I always knew they were good for me, as my mom’s voice echoes in my head from back in the childhood days. Let me sum up some reasons on why exactly beets are so great for you…

First of all, they are really high in antioxidants, which you can never really get enough of. Antioxidants boost your defense system within your body and battle free radicals, which are known to cause cancer. Overall, they just keep you healthy – More energy, better immune system, and great skin! Oh, and before I forget, they have lots of vitamins too.

One thing I find with beets is, there is not a whole lot of different ways to eat them. You can eat them pickled (in a jar) which are super cheap and really healthy, or you can boil them fresh and dice them up in a salad,or throw beets in a juicer with some other veg. That’s about all I know of though when it comes to eating beets. Maybe in the future I can experiment and make them more interesting. We’ll see.

yummy-pickled-beets

Yummy Pickled Beets!

And that about sums up my list (well, my top 5, anyway) of foods I have recently fell in love with (or back in love with). All in the name of health ;). I have noticed after 2-3 weeks of eating extra-healthy and really taking notice of foods, that it isn’t “depressing” or unfulfilling like I and many others would think. Eating extra-healthy is actually kind of fun! You get to learn about the benefits of foods and how they impact your body, and let’s not forget, learning new, yummy recipes for how to cook them!

My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t get to enjoy the foods I love, but I have made really no sacrifice. Just last night, I made an amazing burger from scratch, using salmon and lots of pan-Asian compliments. Not only was it healthy, but absolutely amazing, my new favorite. I am happy to share recipes here on the blog for the yummy new healthy creations. Feel free to share yours in the comments below, too! Thanks for reading!!

homemade-salmon-burger

My Yummy Homemade Salmon Burger!