Organic Melinda

healthy living with a Latin twist


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Update on All Things Organic Melinda

To my dear followers, I have so much wonderful news.

L.I.V².E. has been met with a ton of wonderful reviews, which I will be posting on the site very soon!
Latino Heritage Month has been very eventful. I have been hosting or have been part of events every single week this month.

The Mami Loves You Blog Series is a hit. There are 5 days left of the series!! Sign up for the last five days and to be included in future segments of the Mami Loves You Blog series.

My second book will be released the week before Thanksgiving. It is entitled, “Pumpkin, Spice & Everything Nice: Local & Organic Recipes to Get You Off the Naughty List.” It will feature holiday recipes inspired by Autumn and Winter flavors.

I am putting my first course together entitled, Eat Like a Vegan. This course is for individuals who want to learn how vegans eat, those who have recently become vegans, and anyone curious about the vegan lifestyle. Registration will begin soon! The course will be a 6 week online course. Stay tuned for my information.

http://www.organicmelinda.com is going to be moved soon. You just have to visit the same URL, though. The change will happen on the back-end.

However, I will be updating to wordpress.org, so it is imperative that YOU, my followers, sign up to my listserv in order to stay up to date an all that Organic Melinda has in store for you and to follow my blog.

Please make sure to CLICK HERE to stay up to date on Organic Melinda.

I have also started a rewards program for subscribers who get individuals to sign up for my Healthy Living Consultations.  If you refer a friend and they mention you to me, you will earn $5.00 for every referral.  No Purchase Necessary on your behalf. For more information, please email me at organicmelinda@gmail.com.

Tomorrow, October 10 at 8:00 p.m. est, I will be part of a Tweet Party with Bloggers of Health.  Use the hashtag #BOHmh to join us.

Registration for the writing course I am TAing taught by Caits Meissner will be closing tomorrow at midnight. For more information and to register, click here! The course starts on October 14th!

Then, on October 15th at 9:00 p.m. est, the Tampa Bay Bloggers and I  will be closing off Latino Heritage Month with a Twitter Party.  Use the hashtag #healthyLatin to join us.

Well, that’s all for now.

Be sure to CLICK HERE to join my listserv for free information, book giveaways, and for updates on Organic Melinda.


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Becoming a Healthier Me

Health, to me, is holistic. It includes your body, yes, but also your mind, heart, and spirit.

Physical health will quickly deteriorate if you are experiencing anxiety, financial difficulty, stress, and fear.

This year, I have made a lot of gains (or losses) when it comes to my weight.  I went from 162 pounds post-partum to 129 pounds, but I haven’t been as healthy as I want to be.

In Progress

In Progress

Emotional eating has been a really big struggle for me this year. I tend to turn to food when I am anxious or overwhelmed with my situation.  But, the tips that Yaritza, Lori, and I came up with have been helping me overcome emotional eating.

Now, I want to make greater strides for my mental health – end my anxious mind.

Exercise is an essential part of that.

I began doing yoga this month, and, mostly, for the spiritual aspect of it.  Holding each stance forces us to quiet our minds and be at peace with the limitations of our own bodies.

Limitations, have, especially, been hard for me this year, because I am used to being strong and capable of taking care of myself.

A car accident in May left me with spinal damage, and I came to discover that I have nerve damage in my left hand.

The goal, now, is to strengthen the nerve in my hand and re-align my spine, so that I can continue my journey towards physical fitness.

Yoga will strengthen my core and improve my flexibility, so that I can do what I really want to do – CAPOEIRA!

I have started doing capoeira, again, but I have lost a lot of my stamina and endurance due to the months that I had to take off from practice. I am also not physically able to do a full range of motions without being in pain later.  I have to be super careful with all that I do and ensure that I do not get hit.  It’s been frustrating that I cannot even play the pandeiro for more than a few minutes because my hand weakens super fast, now.

I really want to go back to the basics of capoeira and re-learn the movements.

So many capoeiristas are in a rush with their careers. For me, I just love the strum of the berimbau and the total feeling of connectedness to the universe that I feel while I am swaying in the roda.

Capoeira is a place of peace for me, which replenishes my mind and spirit while toning my body.

My mental health is my primary concern, right now, because I want to be a conscious parent while raising my little girl.

I know that eating well, exercising, meditation, and self-control are the foundation that I need to be a good, sane, stable mother and a good role model.

On the physical front, I really want to get toned – like super toned.

My original goal prior to my car accident was to compete in a Fitness competition in the Bikini Category.  I had started preparing for it, and had to quickly halt the process.

The doctors have put me on severe no weightlifting restrictions, right now, though, due to herniated discs in my spine, but I am convinced that I will be able to tone my body without necessarily lifting weights.

As my financial and living situation improve, which I know they will, soon, I will really be able to dedicate myself to the craft of bodybuilding and represent vegan bodybuilders and Latinas on that stage.

I have to remember that every meal I consume will either heighten or hamper my chances at strutting myself on that stage.

I want to body build, because I just want to see what my body is fully capable of.  I want to feel like a warrior – strong and confident.

A long time ago, I dedicated myself to being a lot more than just average, and I am on that journey.

Being a #healthyme is vital to being a #successfulme.


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Complete List of LIVE Giveaway Winners!

Organic Melinda, FB Page – LIVE book GIVEAWAY winners!

Winner of FREE Copy of LIVE:
Teresa Forte-Caballero

Runner Ups
Eligible to receive 45% discount on their purchase of LIVE:
Katelynn Arroyo
Leticia Limon Ortiz

To redeem your book or discount, email me at organicmelinda@gmail.com with the Subject “LIVE Giveaway” by Wednesday, September 18, 5 PM EST.

Note: Winners were chosen using random.org to prevent any biases in the selection process.

 

Melinda Gonzalez, Personal FB Page – LIVE book GIVEAWAY winners!

Winner of FREE Copy of LIVE:
Donna Thomas

Runner Ups
Eligible to receive 45% discount on their purchase of LIVE:
Melissa Maracuja Miles
Mae Capoeira

To redeem your book or discount, email me at organicmelinda@gmail.com with the Subject “LIVE Giveaway” by Wednesday, September 18, 5 PM EST.

Note: Winners were chosen using random.org to prevent any biases in the selection process.

 

Instagram – LIVE book GIVEAWAY winners!

Winner of FREE Copy of LIVE:
@paposwiggity

Runner Ups
Eligible to receive 45% discount on their purchase of LIVE:
@erichula
@danieli02

To redeem your book or discount, email me at organicmelinda@gmail.com with the Subject LIVE Giveaway by Wednesday, September 18, 5 PM EST.

Note: Winners were chosen using random.org to prevent any biases in the selection process.

 

Twitter – LIVE book GIVEAWAY winners!

Winner of FREE Copy of LIVE:
@PlantStrongLati Plant-Strong Latina

Runner Ups
Eligible to receive 45% discount on their purchase of LIVE:
Melissa Bailey ‏@hungryfoodlove
Vegan Consumer ‏@vegansumer

To redeem your book or discount, email me at organicmelinda@gmail.com with the Subject LIVE Giveaway by Wednesday, September 18, 5 PM EST.

Note: Winners were chosen using random.org to prevent any biases in the selection process.

 

Tumblr – LIVE book GIVEAWAY winner!

http://the-galway-girl.tumblr.com/

To redeem your book, email me at organicmelinda@gmail.com with the Subject LIVE Giveaway by Wednesday, September 18, 5 PM EST.

Note: Winners were chosen using random.org to prevent any biases in the selection process.

 

WordPress – LIVE book GIVEAWAY winner!

thearl9@gmail.com

To redeem your book, email me at organicmelinda@gmail.com with the Subject LIVE Giveaway by Wednesday, September 18, 5 PM EST.

Note: Winners were chosen using random.org to prevent any biases in the selection process.

Last Chance for YOU to enter this Book Giveaway

Leave a comment

Here’s your chance to win a #FREE copy of my #book!!

Share this image to your social media networks and make sure to tag Organic Melinda (@organicmelinda #organicmelinda).

Please, link to my website: http://www.organicmelinda.com

where you can find FREE information on #organic,#nongmo, #vegan living and #tips on how to #save #money and #balance your #home and #family #life.

Entries will be accepted until Monday, September 16.

#Winners will be selected, randomly.

Make sure to #tag me and #share publicly to win!
#fitfam #giveaway #freebies #organicliving #fitspo

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On Breastfeeding a Newborn turned Toddler

I know women who have fantasized about breastfeeding since they reached puberty, and I know others who don’t want a baby anywhere near their breasts.  I, on the other hand, never thought about breastfeeding until I discovered that I was pregnant in August of 2011. Being the researcher that I am, as I own a research and editing company (http://researchandediting.com), I began to do just that – research.  I read about the benefits of breastfeeding and joining Facebook groups, such as The Leaky B@@b.   I learned about some of the dangers of breastfeeding with an inadequate diet, and, in many ways, the journey from non-pregnant to soon-to-be lactating momma is what really led to what is now Organic Melinda.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has tons of benefits for both mom and baby.  First of all, it is FREE, and when you’re living on a budget, what could possibly beat free? Second, it is perfectly design for YOUR baby.  Third, it requires no preparation.  Feeding is as easy as lifting up your shirt and propping your little one on your breast.

Of course, breastfeeding experiences vary from woman to woman, but I have had the ideal breastfeeding experience. My milk supply has always been ample, my daughter latched on as soon as I gave birth, and at 16 months old, she is still a big fan of the tittie.

Here are a four breastfeeding benefits from the Natural Resources Defense Council:

  1. “Breast-fed children are more resistant to disease and infection early in life than formula-fed children.
  2. “Significant evidence suggests that breast-fed children develop fewer psychological, behavioral and learning problems as they grow older. Studies also indicate that cognitive development is increased among children whose mothers choose to breastfeed.
  3. “Breastfeeding helps a woman to lose weight after birth. Mothers burn many calories during lactation as their bodies produce milk. In fact, some of the weight gained during pregnancy serves as an energy source for lactation.
  4. “Women who breastfeed avoid the financial burden of buying infant formula, an average expense of $800 per year.”

My Breastfeeding Experience

I requested that my daughter be placed directly on my chest the moment she was birthed, and thanks to an excellent team of midwives that was made possible.  I, immediately, presented my breasts to my daughter when she was placed on top of me. She fed from the right breast first and then the left one.  She still, somehow, prefers the right breast over the left 16 months later.  I read that immediate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth are vital to a great breastfeeding experience.  Not women are able to do this because they have C-Sections or other medical problems, which prevent breastfeeding immediately or at all, but if you are able to breastfeed and willing, I believe this small step went a long way in my journey to successful and long-term breastfeeding.

The first three weeks of breastfeeding were definitely the hardest.  When the milk came in my breast were super-engorged. I was sure that my body thought I had birthed triplets.  My tiny baby of 5 pounds and 9 oz was not able to empty them out, so I would pump at night or take hot showers and manually express the milk.  I won’t pretend that there weren’t many sleepless nights those first weeks because there were more than I want to remember.  However, I was determined to have a positive breastfeeding experience in spite of people constantly suggesting that my milk supply would be inadequate.  It wasn’t, thankfully.

I breastfed my daughter exclusively and on demand the first four months of her life.  At four months, she began to sprout teeth and I introduced a mashed up fruit here and there.  It wasn’t very frequent, because the recommendations were to exclusively breastfeed until 6 months old.  However, at four months, she began to show some interest in my food and trying to grab it. I began with an occasional banana or avocado once a week or so.  At 6 months, I started introducing solids about 3 times a week and slowly began to increase her food intake.  I was still breastfeeding on demand but would give the solids first.  I allowed my daughter to lead the process and would often just let grab food out of my plate.  She only ate fruits, vegetables, and nuts for the first year of her life.  After the first year, I introduced eggs and tried other meat products. Even though I am a vegan, her father is not, and we decided to raise her omnivore.  She has never really taken to many meat products and really loved vegetables at first.  But these, days, she is in a crunchy phase, which provides new challenges for me to be more creative in the kitchen with food preparations.  At 16 months, she is mostly vegan with occasional meat since I am the one doing all of the cooking in the household.

My daughter is still a big fan of the tittie milk.  She feeds anywhere between 6 to 8 times in a 24 hour period.  When she’s sick, she breastfeeds more and almost exclusively. She has never been ill for more than 3 days, and had one fever since she was born.  She has yet to experience any major illness, and I pray that she never does.  I should perhaps mention that my daughter is not vaccinated, which is a private decision her father and I made.  As I have explained, I try to live life as naturally as possible, and at this point, we do not want to vaccinate our incredibly healthy daughter.

Myths about Breastfeeding

Some of the most prevalent myths I heard about breastfeeding came from people who had never actually breastfed or known anyone to breastfeed long-term.  Here are three of the myths I heard most often while pregnant that caused fear and confusion in my heart.

  1. You will not make enough breast milk.
  2. You need to use formula for your baby to be full.
  3. Breastfeeding hurts.

Myth 1 – FALSE

While some women will experience ebbs and flows in milk supply, this is usually a natural part of the breastfeeding process.  When your baby is experiencing growth spurts, you will make more milk to meet her demands.  When your baby remains at a steady size for a while, your milk supply will regulate.  Many women confuse this for a drop in milk supply and turn to formula.  In most cases, formula is not necessary.

As I have stated above, there are exceptions.  Some women do experience drops in milk supply which can be caused by many factors, including stress and diets.  When this happens, it is not necessary to turn to formula, immediately.  First, you can try Mother’s Milk tea. I took it about 5 times a day when I was having surgery and needed to store milk for my daughter.  In about 4 days, I was making more milk than I could pump.

If you milk supply does drop or diminish and you cannot build it up, you can get donor milk from a few sources likes Eats on Feets and Human Milk for Human Babies. Please read their protocols for accepting donor milk to ensure a safe and viable product for your baby.

Myth 2 – FALSE

Breast milk was intended for human babies while the formula industry is about 150 years old.  Believing that a child needs formula to be satisfied is denying the evolution of nature.  Prior to the development of Nestle’s first formula, human babies consumed human milk.  The development of formula was intended to be used by mothers who could not breastfeed. It was not meant to be a complete alternative to breastfeeding.  Formula use became as prevalent as it is, today, to mass marketing campaigns which convinced generations of women that breast milk was inadequate.

Myth 3 – FALSE

Breastfeeding has never hurt me.  Sure, you might get the occasional bite, but you can get your kid out of that habit pretty quickly by simply saying “No” and putting the boobie away.  If you do get any sort of chafing, bruising, tenderness, or cuts from breastfeeding, just express some milk from your breast and rub it on your nipple and areola.  That cured any ailments I had.

What if I don’t want to Breastfeed?

Clearly, breastfeeding is your choice. If you feel uncomfortable breastfeeding your child, no one should force you to do so. However, I would strongly advise that, at minimum, you breastfeed for the first 6 months and, most definitely, for the first week of life to give your child the benefit of colostrum.

If you have any questions about breastfeeding, email me at organicmelinda@gmail.com and I would be happy to answer them for you!


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Where Can I buy Organic in Newark, NJ? – Review of Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart

Living in an inner city with a limited income can create many barriers to accessing affordable organic food options. If you don’t own a vehicle, it becomes extra difficult.  In Newark, NJ, which is where I was born, raised and currently live, Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart has opened to fulfill the need for local access to organic products.

I discovered Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart after launching a complaint on my personal Facebook page about the lack of organic foods in the city.  Stop & Shop was two bus rides away from me, and the local Pathmark only carries very limited organic produce, which is very over-priced.  I, often, had to call in a favor to get a ride to the nearest supermarket with ample organic produce, which is a 25-30 minute drive from my house.  I was super excited when a friend mentioned Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart, and I decided to talk a walk from my house in the Ironbound section of Newark to Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart.  It was a nice, warm day and a great opportunity to take my daughter for a walk in her stroller, get some light exercise, and see what Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart had to offer my taste buds.

Located at 392 Broad Street near the heart of Newark’s business district, Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart is easily accessible by walking. You can also take the Newark Light Rail to the location from Newark Penn Station and get off near the Newark Main Library.  The market is located near the entrance/exit for route 280 on Broad Street by the Newark Bears’ Stadium. It is also easily accessible by bus since many lines run on Broad Street.  The hours of operation are 8:00 am to 7:00 pm Eastern Time on Monday thru Friday, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm on Saturday, and 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday.

When I first walked in to Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart, the first thing I noticed was a single step to get into the supermarket, which I required that I lift up my daughter’s stroller.  It was easy enough for me to do so, but I imagine this could pose a problem for someone in a wheelchair or with a disability.  I would recommend that the owners put a ramp where the step is to make it wheelchair accessible.

Personally, I judge a market by its availability of produce.  I prefer to eat fresh produce in every one of my meals.  I do eat some grains, but I avoid boxed, packaged, and canned food.  I do consume them on occasion, but I try to eat food as close to its natural state as possible.    Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart’s produce section was very small for my preferences (see Figure 1), but it did carry some staple items.  There were broccoli, carrots, corn, nectarines, apples, pears, watermelon, and a few other items. Not all items, however, were organic, which is not necessarily a problem on its own.  I will talk more about the politics of organic labeling in a future post.  There were quite a few locally sourced produce items, but all in all, the produce section was quite small for my taste.  It lacked ample greens, which are my favorite thing in a market.  However, with a farmers’ market located a short walk away during the summer months, this is not a real problem for me.

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Figure 1

I was very excited to see environmentally friendly household and personal products (see Figure 2) at Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart, which are things I usually have to travel 20+ minutes away to get, as well.  I will definitely consider going to Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart when I need to restock on household products.

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Figure 2

There is no shortage of packaged organic goods, which I know many people are a fan of for reasons of convenience.  I purchased a package of flour to bake vegetable bread for my daughter.  I noticed that Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart carries a mix of both organic and conventional products.  You will see Eden Organics side by side with Goya products (see Figure 3).

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Figure 3

The freezer section (see Figure 4) also has a mixture of organic and conventional products.  As a vegan, it was great to see that the store carried vegan items as there tends to be a shortage of vegan options in Newark.    There were also quite a few drinks in the refrigerator, including one of my favorite coconut waters by Harmless Harvest (see Figure 5).

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Figure 4

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Figure 5

While I wish that Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart had a much larger produce section for the winter months and for days when the farmers’ markets are not in Newark, it is definitely a step forward in this wonderful Renaissance City.  Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart gets the Organic Melinda stamp of approval for being one of the first markets to actively promote organic produce in Newark, NJ and for carrying affordable options that are easily accessible to the Newark population as well as the wonderful and friendly customer service that I received.  Thank you Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart for doing your part to end food insecurity in our great city.

All photos taken by Organic Melinda (Melinda Gonzalez).


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Which Diet is Right for me?

Dear Organic Melinda,

I recently learned about GMOs and have been trying to eat/cook/drink non-GMO and organic. However, I am overwhelmed with all the information I have been reading that sometimes even contradicts each other.

Also, there are so many “diets” (blood type/paleo/vegetarian/etc) so how do I know which I should do? I have also found so many recipes but I don’t have time to cook every single meal from scratch so I get very discouraged because it seems like too much work. I would love simple meals and snacks that take little time to prepare. What would you suggest?

Sincerely,

Debt Free Annie
www.debtfreelikeannie.com

Dear Debt Free Annie,

First, I want to start by congratulating you on your journey towards becoming a healthier you.  I, too, was very overwhelmed in the beginning.  When I discovered that most of the soy in the world was genetically modified with RoundUp Ready, I was terrified.  “What had I been putting into my body,” I thought.  But, let us start with baby steps.

  1. Keep following my blog.  Over the next few weeks, I will post up a list of food items that contain GMO ingredients or are suspected of doing so.
  2. Start by purchasing non-GMO Project verified foods.
  3. Buy at local farmer’s markets from farms you know and trust that do not use GMO crops or chemical pesticides.  I will, also, be providing a list of non-gmo farms in the New Jersey area in the next few weeks.
  4. As you familiarize yourself with which food items actually contain GMOs, you can simplify your life by buying organic produce.   Click here for my blog post on How to Eat Organic on a Budget.

Now, let’s move on to your second question.  Which diet is best for you?

Diets tend to ebb and flow with the times.  What was popular ten years ago is not the “in” thing, today.  When approaching a new dietary lifestyle, you need to do what makes the most sense for you and your family.  My first piece of advice is to eat WHOLE foods, which are foods that have not been processed, come in a box, or contain synthetic chemicals.

The premise of many diets, such as the blood-type diet and the paleo diet is to get back to a base level of real foods.  Many people lose hundreds of pounds on these diets, which make them appear to be miracles, but it is a lot simpler than that.

If you were consuming a lot of highly processed foods with added sodium, oils, and sugars, and you replace processed foods with fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, of course, you are going to lose weight! It doesn’t take a lengthy scientific explanation to see why this would be the case.  Our bodies can more easily digest food in its natural state, and the elimination of added sugars and fats reduces our caloric intake.  The paleo diet and blood-type diets also emphasize exercise and sleeping in healthier cycles.  These, too, contribute to dramatic weight loss.

So, what are your goals? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to eat healthier? Do you want to help save animals and not contribute to the factory farming industry?

All of these questions can influence your dietary choices.

I have chosen the vegan lifestyle, because I am not comfortable with taking the lives of animals.  Furthermore, I do not want to contribute to the cruel industry of factory farming where animals live in miserable conditions and are tortured their entire existence.  I believe that, because I do not feel comfortable taking the life of an animal, I have no right to consume its flesh.  This is my opinion, but it might not be yours.

So, how do you know which diet is right for you? I suggest that you sample the ones that interest you for 30 days, and see how your body reacts to each. This will be a better indicator than any advice I can give you.

I tried a vegan version of the paleo diet and eliminated all grains.  Through trying paleo, I discovered that I am gluten intolerant. After a few months, however, I began to add some grains back into my high-raw, vegan diet.

You might find that your dietary lifestyle fits somewhere in between two diets, where you borrow from both as mine did.

The goal should be to live a long, happy, and healthful life.  I know this process seems overwhelming, but just take it one day at a time.

I hope to help guide you on this journey as I embark on it myself.

For healthy and easy snacks, you can look forward to my upcoming cookbook, which will be released by summer’s end.  The recipes will be simple and not require many exotic ingredients.  You will learn over 30 easy recipes to help your family eat more fruits and vegetables and live a healthier lifestyle.

I hope I have answered all of your questions.  If you have more questions, please email me at organicmelinda@gmail.com.  I will be answering questions every week from one lucky reader.

Best,

Organic Melinda