Clean Eating Archives - ig2go

What’s in Season: 7 Spring Fruits and Vegetables and Their Nutritional Benefits

Who doesn’t love spring? Every season has its own charm, but there is something so inspiring about spring—with the fresh blooms and new life everywhere you look. One of the best ways to enjoy the season is by indulging in the fresh produce that becomes available during this time. Here are some of our favorite fruits and vegetables along with all the nutritional benefits they can add to your diet.

  1. Asparagus: Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health, and folate, which is important for pregnant women. Asparagus is also a good source of vitamin C and is a particularly rich source of glutathione, which has been shown to have detoxifying properties and protect against certain kinds of cancer. Asparagus is delicious when steamed, sauteed, or grilled, and can make an easy side dish with minimal effort.
  2. Artichokes: Artichokes are a good source of fiber, which can help regulate your digestive system. Artichokes are also high in antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals, and help improve liver function. Both the artichoke leaves and heart can be eaten and steaming or baking are the most popular ways to prepare them. You can also stuff artichokes for an extra special presentation.
  3. Strawberries: Strawberries are one of the most popular spring fruits. They are a good source of vitamin C, which we all know is great for your immune system.  Strawberries are also high in antioxidants and can help reduce inflammation in your body. Polyphenols found in strawberries can also help improve insulin sensitivity in nondiabetic adults. Strawberries are delicious on their own, but we also love to add them to smoothies, yogurt bowls, oatmeal, or even sliced and added to water for a refreshing spring beverage.
  4. Peas: Peas are really excellent for eye health and can help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. They are also high in coumestrol, which helps prevent stomach cancer, and the high fiber content is excellent for digestive health. In addition, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals found in peas can lower your risk of high blood pressure. Peas can easily be added to pasta dishes that use light sauces, added to salads or simply steamed and lightly seasoned for a quick and healthy side dish.
  5. Radishes: Radishes are crunchy and refreshing spring vegetables that can help with liver and kidney function, and the glucosinolate and isothiocyanate can help to regulate blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes. Radishes are also excellent for overall blood and heart health because they are rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium. incorporate radishes into your spring meals by adding thin slices to salads for a peppery crunch, roasting them with garlic and olive oil, or making your own pickled radishes to enjoy all year long.
  6. Apricots: We generally find apricots as dried fruit, and although those are tasty, we love to enjoy fresh apricots in spring when they are in season. Apricots are sweet and juicy spring fruit that are high in vitamin A, which is important for eye health. They are also a good source of fiber, which can help regulate your digestive system. Beta carotene, also found in apricots can help make your skin more resistant to sunburn, which is super helpful for our sunny climate. Like strawberries, apricots are delicious when eaten whole and do really well in salads and smoothies. You can also make some super tasty spring desserts like apricot tarts, and apricot crisp. 
  7. Rhubarb: Rhubarb is a unique spring vegetable that is often used in desserts. Only the stalks are edible, and you’ll see the best Rhubarb become available in early April. Rhubarb is a good source of vitamin K, which is essential for bone health, and vitamin C, which can help boost your immune system. Rhubarb is also high in antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage and reduce inflammation. The high fiber content is of course also excellent for overall digestive health. Get your fill of rhubarb by making pies, or your own chutney that can be whipped out and added to other dishes all year long.

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is essential for maintaining a healthy diet. During the spring season, there are many delicious and nutritious options to choose from. By incorporating these seasonal foods into your meals, you can take advantage of their health benefits and enjoy the flavors of the season. We encourage you to shop local and find these spring fruits and veggies from local farms if available.

Do you have a favorite on this list? Or a favorite recipe incorporating other spring fruits and veggies? Drop a comment below, or tag us on social media! We would love to hear what you enjoy this time of year.



What is a Mediterranean Diet and why is it so popular?

In recent years, the Mediterranean diet has gained worldwide recognition as a healthy and delicious way of eating and has been consistently ranked as one of the best diets by health experts. The popularity of the Mediterranean diet is for good reasons. The diet emphasizes the consumption of whole, plant-based foods, healthy fats, and lean protein sources and besides being healthy, it’s delicious too. 

What Is Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet is a traditional diet that is popular in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey. This diet primarily includes plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, with moderate amounts of fish, poultry, and dairy and limited red meat and sweets consumption.

In addition, the Mediterranean diet also includes healthy fats, such as olive oil, as the primary fat source. 

Why Is Mediterranean Diet So Popular?

There are so many reasons for the increasing popularity of the Mediterranean diet. Here are some of the most important reasons why you should start the Mediterranean diet: 

Improves Your Health 

When you start the Mediterranean diet, it will help you avoid several health issues, including a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. This diet only includes healthy fats and plant-based foods while avoiding unhealthy processed foods, which improve your health significantly. 

Helps In Weight Loss

The Mediterranean diet can help with weight loss because it contains whole, nutrient-dense foods that are naturally low in calories and high in fiber. The high fiber content of the diet helps to increase feelings of fullness and satiety, which can help you avoid unhealthy junk food cravings. When you cut down the total number of calories of consume per day, it will help you lose weight quickly. 

Easy to Follow and Customize 

The Mediterranean diet does not require counting calories or following strict rules, making it easier for people to stick to in the long run. Besides being easy to follow, you can customize it easily by adding your favorite foods to your diet plan, as you get a lot of healthy options. 

Provides Long-term Results 

When you follow the Mediterranean diet, your body changes internally. It has many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that will heal your body internally and thus provide long-term results. 

Tips for Making Your Mediterranean Diet Effective 

Here are some tips that you should remember to make the Mediterranean diet effective: 

  • Don’t consume many high-fat foods, such as yogurt, cheese, and processed foods. 
  • Reduce your consumption of red meat and opt for lean proteins like fish, poultry, eggs and plant-based sources like beans and tofu.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit sugary beverages.
  • Take your time when eating, savor your food, and be aware of your hunger and fullness cues.
  • Try to be physically active if you want to see the results of your diet quickly. 

Bottom Line 

The Mediterranean diet is not a short-term diet but a lifestyle. You’ll have to be consistent and patient to see the positive results. You can visit Intelligent Gourment to make delicious and healthy food choices for your Mediterranean diet plan! 



Probiotic vs Prebiotic Foods – How to Incorporate Them Into Your Diet

Gut health affects your overall wellness, and what you eat plays a major role in determining the status of your gut health. Recently, probiotic and prebiotic foods have gained popularity as the savers of your gut health. But what’s the difference between these two, and how can you incorporate them into your diet? 

In this post, we’ll explore the difference between probiotics and prebiotics and give you practical tips on how to add these superfoods to your diet.

Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods – What’s the Difference? 

Probiotics and prebiotics foods are not the same. Probiotic foods contain live microorganisms that improve or maintain the number of beneficial gut bacteria in the body. Prebiotic foods contain non-digestible carbohydrates that serve as food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut.

In short, probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that improve the beneficial microflora in the gut, and prebiotics is the food that gut microflora consume, helping them to grow and thrive. Together, probiotics and prebiotics help support a healthy gut microbiome that is essential for the healthy functioning of the gut. 

How to Incorporate Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods Into Your Diet? 

When you’re taking sufficient probiotic and prebiotic foods, you’ll see significant positive changes in your gut health. If you have no idea which foods are the best to get a good intake of probiotics and prebiotics in your diet, here are some of our favorites:

Sources of Probiotic Foods 

  • Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and tempeh are good sources of probiotics.
  • Try adding a spoonful of miso to soups, sprinkling kimchi on your rice, or having a serving of yogurt with fruit and honey to boost probiotics in your diet. 
  • Probiotic drinks, such as kombucha, water kefir, and coconut water kefir, also contain a high amount of probiotics. 
  • You can also snack on probiotic-rich foods like probiotic granola bars or probiotic crackers.

Sources of Prebiotics Foods 

  • Fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are excellent sources of prebiotics.
  • Root vegetables like garlic, onions, and leeks also provide a high amount of prebiotics.
  • Foods like legumes, green bananas, and cooked and cooled potatoes can also be consumed to increase the levels of prebiotics in your diet.

Processed foods are low in fiber and often high in sugar, which can harm the beneficial bacteria in your gut. So, it’s crucial to minimize highly processed foods from your diet if you want to experience the positive effects of probiotic and prebiotic foods.

Tips for Adding Probiotics and Prebiotics Into Your Diet 

Here are some tips that you should remember when you start adding probiotics and prebiotics into your diet: 

  • Aim for various probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet rather than relying on a single source.
  • Gradually incorporate these foods into your diet to allow your gut to adjust.
  • Be mindful of the serving sizes and pay attention to how these foods affect your body.
  • Always consult a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

Bottom Line 

Excited to flourish your gut bacteria using these probiotics and prebiotics foods? Pin this post as a reminder, and come visit Intelligent Gourmet to enjoy wholesome food that will help you improve your gut microflora with tasty organic meals. 

Our Favorite Dishes and Dips for Entertaining – Great Taste and Great for You

We all love a great get-together, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying good company. And nothing warms people’s hearts and brings us together better than good food. And when we say “good” food, we mean food that tastes great and is also great FOR you. We’ve gathered a list of our favorite dishes to serve that will be a hit at your next gathering.

1. Buffalo Cauliflower

Buffalo anything is always a welcome addition to most gameday spreads. We love going for buffalo cauliflower not only for the added veggie benefits, but also to make sure our spread feels inclusive for our vegetarian/vegan guests. Can’t give up the standard buffalo chicken? Serve both, and let your guest enjoy choosing for themselves.

2. Plantain Chips

A wonderful crunchy alternative to your standard potato chip, and plantains are naturally higher in Vitamin A and C. Great served with any dips or even just on their own.

3. Sweet Potato Wedges

If you’re going to do potatoes, we say opt for sweet potatoes. Although potatoes themselves are not a bad food (honestly we don’t believe any vegetable or whole food is ‘bad’), sweet potatoes do have a lower glycemic index, which means the wont cause a sugar spike and crash like other potatoes might.

4. Black Bean Dip

This dip is packed with protein and flavor, and contains zero fat. Great as a spread, or a dip, and the creamy black velvet texture can be a unique eye-catching addition to any table.

5. Babaganoush

Another fantastic and flavorful dip, and because it’s primary ingredient is eggplant, you get the nutritional benefits being high in fiber, and relatively low in calories. Babaganoush is also full of healthy fats from the olive oil and Tahini.

6. Layered Hummus Dip

Who doesn’t love hummus? Take this classic dip to the next level by layering on crumbled feta, chopped cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and olives for a fresh crunchy bite that is sure to satisfy. Start with our classic hummus and add the toppings fresh before your guests arrive.

7. Tomato Bruschetta

Another classic, we love bruschetta for the bright color and flavor of the heirloom tomatoes. Paired with some fresh arugula, balsamic reduction, and crusty bread, you’ve got a combination that won’t disappoint.

8. Spring Rolls W/Prawns

Packed with fresh veggies and protein, with a satisfying crunch, and paired with a perfectly savory Ponzu dipping sauce, these spring rolls are a great way to as flavor and color to your evenings selection.

9. Farro salad

Yes, we’ve included a salad on this list. But this isn’t just any salad. We take Italian pearled farro and mix it with sautéed mushroom and onions, roasted bell peppers, broccoli, and arugula. toss everything in a simple red wine vinaigrette, and you have a salad that’s full of good nutrients and wont leave your guests hungry ten minutes later.

10. Chicken Montanara

We think this one already starts off strong with out organic free range chicken, but it really starts to shine with the addition of bright sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and artichokes.

11. Ahi Tuna Tartar

If we had to pick a favorite on this list, this might be it. The perfect combination of marinated Ahi tuna with the fresh cucumber and green onion relish is a great way to add a touch of elegance and uniqueness to your gathering. Not to mention this dish is full of good nutrients.

12. Flank Steak Skewers

These skewers are honestly so simple, but so perfect at the same time. Beautifully marinated with fresh herbs, and paired with roasted peppers for a flavor that is full and well rounded. They key is the fresh high quality ingredients that help keep this dish flavorful and wholesome.

13. Juice Shots

Whats a celebration without a few shots? We love these for gatherings as a fun creative way to mix things up and give guest the chance to try a concentrated boost of wellness in an easy sip. Serve them on a platter in tiny shot glasses, garnishes with some edible flowers or tiny fruit skewers!

14. Peanut Butter Honey Squares

Sweet and nutty, our peanut butter honey squares are good for more than a quick afternoon snack. These hunks of goodness can provide a satisfying bite to any appetizer spread, are go well with just about anything

15. Dark Chocolate almond Stars

The dark chocolate makes these sweets balanced, and they are perfect for sharing as each bite is already individually portioned

There are many excellent ways to host a gathering and plan a menu that is as nutritious as it is delicious. We love being able to offer these options to make it easy, so no matter if you’re planning a special celebration or a casual get-together, everyone can enjoy the moment while enjoying healthy, wholesome foods.



A New Definition of “Healthy”

We are used to seeing health claims on food packaging, and there are a lot of products that use these claims to mislead or bend the truth about the nutritional benefits of their products. Despite these claims often having a significant impact on consumer choices, regulation of these health claims is relatively new. Turns out that our evolving understanding of nutritional science is making waves and on Sept 28th, 2022, The FDA published a statement that may redefine what “Healthy” means when used on food packaging. Today we’re going to quickly review the new proposed definition, and help clarify what it means for our diets and habits moving forward.

Old Definition

The previous criteria for what is considered healthy was established in 1994 and set a maximum for fat content and minimum for daily vitamin content. This started the popularity of ‘low-fat’ foods that were somehow deemed to be “Healthy” despite high levels of sugar or sodium (for example, low-fat yogurts, or overly processed breakfast cereals). This also meant that healthy fats like Olive Oil couldn’t use the “Healthy” label because the fat content was too high.

What Changed?

According to the FDA statement, the proposed change means that any food with the claim “healthy” on the package needs to:

  • Contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (e.g., fruit, vegetable, dairy, etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.
  • Adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. The threshold for the limits is based on a percent of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient and varies depending on the food and food group. The limit for sodium is 10% of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).

What This Means

  • Under the new definition, the FDA recognizes that not all fats are created equal and that foods with high levels of beneficial fats, such as Omega 3, can now use the “Healthy” label. This means that foods such as salmon and whole nuts can be labeled as “Healthy”.
  • The new definition would also force manufacturers to modify their products so they contain more whole ingredients in order to meet the new standards for “Healthy.”
    • “For example, a cereal would need to contain ¾ ounces of whole grains and contain no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, and 2.5 grams of added sugars.”
  • Different food groups would also be held to different nutrient density ratios, creating a more complete picture of what “Healthy” means for different categories of food. This means that Grain-based products have a higher sugar allowance than vegetable-based products. (For more examples you can view a chart made by the FDA here:

Ultimately, this new proposal is in alignment with more modern ideas of balanced health and nutrition. For years, nutrition recommendations have focused on whole foods, nutrient-dense meals, and minimizing processed prepackaged goods that contain high levels of stabilized, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.

If you’ve been following us for any amount of time, you already know we are huge supporters of fresh, high-quality, whole ingredients. We think this proposed change for what can be labeled “Healthy” is a positive step forward for consumer awareness, but ultimately it is still up to consumers to make healthy choices for themselves. Focusing on fresh whole ingredients, and knowing what works for your body and lifestyle is always going to be the most effective way to get the nutrients your body needs.



The Nutrition of our Favorite Fall Flavors

Although the Fall Equinox is not until Sept 22nd, we are already seeing the early excitement for all of our favorite fall necessities. Whether it’s the seasonal return of the PSL, pumpkin-themed craft brews, or bountiful fall harvests arriving at your market of choice, there is an undeniable shift happening. Today we’re taking a different approach. Rather than sharing our favorite fall recipes (that one’s coming later, don’t worry), today we’re going to dive into fall flavors. What are fall flavors? Where do they come from, and what are the health benefits? In doing so, perhaps we can harness these seasonal trends for the benefit of our health and overall wellbeing.

What qualifies as a ‘Fall Flavor’

The Fall season is harvest season, as many crops and products reach their peak in late August – October. So it’s safe to say that many of the flavors we associate with fall originate from the seasonal availability of these fruits and veggies. Some common fall crops include:

  • Apples
  • Winter Squash (butternut, pumpkin, acorn, etc)
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Persimmons
  • Grapes
  • Cranberries

But this is just half the story, as we also associate a lot of spices with fall. In fact, the flavor we call ‘pumpkin spice’ doesn’t actually include any pumpkin at all. Pumpkin spice is generally a mixture of cinnamon, allspice, clove, nutmeg, and ginger. But you’ll also find spices like cardamom and anise used in various fall recipes as well.

The are a few reasons these spices are associated with fall. To start, spices used to be a luxury item, used only for celebrations and significant events. Despite the modern accessibility of spices, the tradition of spiced holiday foods remains, and two of the biggest US holidays occur in the fall/early winter time frame. In addition, these spices in particular are considered “warming spices”, meaning they offer a sensation of warmth when added to food or drinks. You can find a lot of references to this in Ayurvedic traditions as well. This brings us to our next point:

What are the nutritional values of these foods

Let’s start again with the produce.

  • Apples:
    • High in fiber, excellent for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes-friendly from the low glycemic index, and can contribute to overall gut and digestion health.
  • Winter Squash (butternut, pumpkin, acorn, etc)
    • High in beta-carotene, lutein, and antioxidants. Can reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, and lower blood pressure. Have also been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Carrots
    • Excellent for healthy eyes can help to support your immune system, can help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, and can lower the risk of cancer. The abundance of calcium and vitamin K can also strengthen bones.
  • Potatoes
    • High in fiber which can help balance cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Can also aid in digestion by providing prebiotic benefits to the gut. Also high in potassium which helps decrease blood pressure.
  • Persimmons
    • Rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, which help with immune health and vision respectively. Also been shown to be beneficial for diabetes prevention, and reduced the risk of heart disease and Atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries).
  • Grapes
    • Extremely high in many antioxidants, which means they are great for brain health, and aging, and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Also great for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Cranberries
    • Also extremely high in antioxidants, and can reduce the risk of cancer and liver disease, while also boosting immune health and urinary tract and gut health. They can also be great for Oral health, as they reduce the amount of acid in your saliva, and keep it from sticking to your teeth.

    Just like all fruits and vegetables, these fall favorites are packed with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Many of these are specifically rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants, which means the fall season should be a great opportunity for us to manage our blood levels and our digestive health.

What about the spices? How do those benefit us?

  • Cinnamon
    • Extremely high in antioxidants, and can reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation. Also excellent for managing blood sugar levels. Potentially help to reduce the risk or effect of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Also had ani fungal and antibacterial properties, and can help prevent tooth decay.
  • Allspice
    • Technically derived from a dried berry, allspice has been used to reduce inflammation, and treat nausea. It’s also beneficial for infection prevention, pain relief, and reduction of menopause symptoms.
  • Clove
    • Can help balance blood sugar levels, prevent bacteria growth, reduce inflammation and reduce the chances of developing ulcers. May also be linked to liver health and reduced risk of fatty liver disease.
  • Nutmeg
    • Also high in antioxidants, and surprisingly found in several dental products, nutmeg has been shown to protect against oral pathogens that cause disease and bad breath. Nutmeg has also been used to improve or balance moods, and can possibly help improve sleep quality.
  • Ginger
    • Ginger’s main bioactive compound is Gingerol, which is a strong antioxidant with inflammatory properties. Excellent for treating nausea and motion sickness, and has been shown to help with indigestion and menstrual pains. Also great for balancing blood levels, cancer prevention, and protection against Alzheimer’s.

We’d like to mention that although the above spices do have health benefits, it’s important to not overdo it. Specifically with nutmeg, as consuming 2+ teaspoons in one sitting can be toxic.

We’d also like to come back to a point we mentioned earlier, that all these spices as considered “Warming spices” This means that they literally have the ability to raise your body’s internal temperature, which makes them perfect for cooler weather. The science behind this is slightly different for every spice, but the knowledge and use of these properties are far from new. Ayurvedic tenets hold that our metabolism needs to work harder in winter to fuel the inner digestive fire and that warming foods and spices are needed to stay healthy, with balanced energy systems. In Chinese medicine, these are referred to as yang foods, which are responsible for the activation and warming of bodily functions that keep us healthy and facilitate the flow of qi, our personal energy.

This is far from an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to explore more information on each item if it interests you. We hope if nothing else this has encouraged you to appreciate the flavors of fall with a new lens, one that shows the rich history, tradition, and nutritional science of why these flavors are so popular as the weather starts to cool down.

If you’re interested in indulging in some fall flavors, follow us on social media to see what we’ve got cooking, and watch for our seasonal specials, like mini apple cobblers, and cranberry pistachio muffins (all gluten and sugar-free, as always).



Which Is Better: Total Carbs Vs Net Carbs On A Keto Diet

Carbs have been a hot topic in nutrition and diet culture for decades. Whether you love them or hate them, it’s important to at least acknowledge that not all carbs are created equal. Specifically, we’re going to look at the KETO diet, and what role carbs play within it.

In case you aren’t already familiar with it, a keto diet requires that you get five to 10 percent of calories from carbohydrates (or generally 20g of carbs), 15 to 30 percent from protein, and at least 70 to 80 percent from fat–that is almost double the amount of fat and half as many carbohydrates as a typical low-carb diet would recommend.

Our bodies’ primary source of energy is glucose, which comes from sugar, or carbs. The science behind a keto diet is that by restricting carbohydrates, your body goes into a metabolic state called Ketosis, and becomes highly efficient at using fat for energy because it lacks normal access to glucose. If you’re interested in reading more about the Keto Diet, check out these articles for more specifics.

The Amazing Benefits A Ketogenic Diet Offers

The Keto Diet Can Help You Live Longer


Today, we’re talking about Carbs, and how they fit into all this. Saying you have to “limit carbs” is kind of an oversimplification of instructions. Carbs come in all shapes and sizes, and our body is able to digest some carbs really easily but can’t digest others at all. This is where the idea of “Net Carbs” comes into play.

Let’s look at an apple for an example. Apples are considered healthy, packed with nutrition, contain natural sugars, and fiber, and are a whole, natural, unprocessed food source. But, they do still contain carbs. A large apple has on average about 30g of TOTAL carbs. But some of those carbs come from indigestible fiber, meaning they wont be absorbed by the body. If we subtract the amount of indigestible fiber from the TOTAL Carbs, we get the NET Carbs or all the carbs that are left that the body does actually absorb.

Here’s a list with some examples comparing TOTAL carbs vs NET carbs in common produce:

The argument is since the body doesn’t absorb those indigestible carbs, should they count towards a keto diet 20g daily carb limit? Our conclusion is: It depends on your goals.

Keto diets are not just for weight loss, they can also help diabetic patients maintain their blood sugar levels, or help patients with epilepsy reduce the frequency of seizures. In those cases, it may be best to count TOTAL Carbs, as there are other underlying health implications that need to be considered. If you are only following a Keto diet for weight loss or management, counting NET carbs will probably work fine for your goals.

There’s no real hard line, and the best nutrition plan is one that you can actually follow. Limiting carbs can be a tough adjustment for anyone who’s used to having carbs on a daily basis. Especially since a lot of vegetables can even be pretty carb heavy. So if counting NET carbs helps you ease into a Keto diet, there’s plenty of evidence to show that your efforts will still be effective. If you decide to count TOTAL carbs, you’re obviously going to see results as well.

As with any diet or nutrition plan, it is important to consult with your doctor or dietician. Everyone’s body is different, and everyone’s body is going to respond differently.

If you are on a Keto diet already, we encourage you to stop by our shop to check out our seasonal rotation of low-carb dishes, baked goods, and meal-building options! Our staff is always happy to help if you have questions about any of our offerings. Feel free to order online as well and schedule a pickup for a day and time that’s convenient for your schedule.

Balanced Meal Prep 101

Whether you like it or not, we are approaching the end of summer, and chances are your schedules are starting to fill up again. But a busy schedule does not mean your healthy eating habits have to be paused. If fact, balanced meals can be your saving grace, giving your body fuel to get through your day with high energy and a clear mind. Today we are going to go over methods to plan your meals ahead of time, so you can stick to your health goals even on your busiest days.

Our primary focus is going to be Meal Prepping. Despite what you might think, making a week’s worth of meals ahead of time doesn’t have to consume your entire weekend. Rather than making 4-5 unique meals, meal prepping generally involves making a large batch of the same meals or foods. This condensed version of cooking is a major reason why meal prepping saves time.

There are a couple of different ways to meal prep.

  • Half-Prepped Meals: This method involves putting together a dish ahead of time, and either half cooking it or fully cooking it before storing it in the fridge or freezer. When you’re ready to eat, simply reheat or finish cooking the dish and enjoy. This can be particularly helpful for dinners, or when you are feeding multiple people. Some examples might be lasagna, Chili, Enchiladas, Pot Pies, etc.
  • Batch Cooking: Similar to the above method, but before you package the dish for the fridge or freezer, you would divide everything into individual portions to be reheated for a quick lunch or dinner.
  • Ingredient Prep: With this method, instead of preparing meals, you prep different ingredients that can then be paired together to create multiple different meals throughout the week. This method is great if still want to save time, but you easily get sick of eating the same thing multiple days in a row. Some examples of this meal prep style might be to cook a bunch of chicken, beans, a grain, and roasted vegetables. With those ingredients, you can add the chicken to salads, make quick and simple Buddha Bowls, or throw together a hearty burrito wrap.
  • Pre-made meal services: The full hands-off approach, simply order your meals pre-made from a meal service provider. No cooking, no planning, simply pick up at the start of the week and reheat as needed. This method is ideal if you are really strapped for time, or you simply don’t want to deal with cooking anything yourself.

Depending on what your goals are, and what your schedule looks like, some of the methods listed above may be better for you than others.

The next thing to look at is what types of foods are actually good for meal prep, or rather what combinations of foods. For instance, you can portion out a week’s worth of salads, but keep the dressing and any croutons/crunchy toppings separate. Otherwise, at the end of the week, you’ll be eating a soggy mess that’s lost all its crisp freshness. The same goes for burgers, sandwiches, or wraps. In general, you want to keep ‘wet’ things away from ‘dry’ things when necessary.

Some ingredients/foods that work really well for meal prep:

  • Cooked protein (except for fried)
  • Cooked tofu, tempeh, and other vegetable proteins
  • Cooked quinoa, rice, and pasta
  • Cooked legumes
  • Medium roasted vegetables
  • Fresh crunchy vegetables (think carrots, cabbage, kale, broccoli)
  • Cheese
  • Roasted nuts
  • Hummus, tzatziki, or other sauces/dips
  • Soups, casseroles, or other one-pot dishes
  • Smoothies
  • Overnight Oats

This is not an exhaustive list, but even within these options, you can put together a huge variety of meals. What you choose to make is a matter of your personal taste, your budget, and how much variation you want throughout the week.


Balance is important

As we stated at the begging of this post, the key to successful meal prep is building a balanced meal. A massive plate of spaghetti might be filling and easy to prep, but we would argue that it’s not the most nutritious fuel to get you through the day.

When it comes to planning your meals, we suggest including a protein + grain + vegetable. Or, if you want to minimize carbs, go with a protein + vegetable x2. Throw in some healthy fats and dairy when you want to, but you don’t want to skip out on the protein or veggies. Why is this balance so important? because each of these food groups serves a different purpose. Proteins help repair your body and maintain strength, and will help you feel full for longer. Carbs, or grains, help provide immediate access to energy. Vegetables provide necessary fiber, vitamins, and nutrients to help maintain a healthy digestive system and a strong immune system, among other important benefits.

Some great examples of balanced meals:

  • Tofu veggie stir-fry, with rice OR cauliflower rice
  • Sheet Pan Fajitas with chicken, peppers, onions, and fresh herbs
  • Italian stuffed peppers made with ground turkey and quinoa
  • Chimichurri steak with cilantro lime rice, and roasted vegetables


Meal Prep at IG

Maybe you’re not used to meal planning, maybe this still sounds like a lot of work, or too time-consuming. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t give up hope yet. One of our primary pillars at IG is to provide our customers with healthy & convenient meals. We know it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation, so we’ve taken steps to provide multiple meal prep options.

If you’re wanting a hands-off, fully prepared meal prep service that you can order, pick up, and enjoy, then we’ve got you covered.

On the other hand, if you prefer having ingredients and prepared dishes you can mix and match throughout the week, we’ve got a solution for you too. Our deli cases are full of fresh options that you can purchase by weight, so you can get as little or as much as you need. We always have vegan dishes, lean protein and seafood, and a huge variety of salads and vegetables to pair together. Imagine a whole foods deli/salad bar, but everything is made with local organic ingredients, with plenty of gluten-free, sugar-free, and keto-friendly options.

We know that planning meals ahead of time is not for everyone and that there is joy in spontaneity and following a craving when something sounds so perfect in the moment. But we also hope that this post has helped to shed light on the benefits of meal planning, and how versatile and convenient it can be when you really need it. Meal prepping is a great way to save time on cooking, without sacrificing your health and nutrition goals. We hope that you give it a try, and we’d love to hear your favorite meal prep tips and tricks! Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.



Top 8 Health Benefits of Humane Farming

If you are a regular shopper of the butcher’s department, you’ve probably seen meat packing with statements like “Cage-Free”, “Pasture-Raised”, “Grass-Fed” and so on. The concern over how we raise livestock is not new, and the industry has been slowly acknowledging that consumer sentiment. This week we’re digging out teeth into the meat of the Animal Livestock industry to demystify what “ethically raised” meat really means, how it affects your health, and why it’s worth spending a few extra dollars for it.

To begin with, let’s go over some of the most common packaging claims:

No Added Hormones

  • Applies mostly to Beef, as the USDA does not allow hormone use on poultry or pork. This statement means that no growth hormones were given to the animal throughout its lifetime. This claim does not have to be third-party verified.

Raised Without Antibiotics

  • Applies to any livestock, and means that no antibiotics have been given to the animals throughout their lifetime. This claim does not have to be third-party verified.

All Natural

This statement has to do with how the meat is processed. All Natural implies that no artificial colorants or preservatives were added to the meat products. This claim does not have to be third-party verified.

Grass Fed

  • This statement implies that the animal was raised exclusively on grass pastures (as opposed to dried grains) once it’s been weaned from its mother’s milk. This claim does not have to be third-party verified.

Pasture Raised

  • This signifies that the livestock had continuous access to open pastures and unconfined living conditions. This claim does not have to be third-party verified.

USDA Organic

  • The USDA organic seal indicates that the animal was given only organic feed. The animals can’t be given antibiotics or growth hormones. Even sick animals treated with antibiotics can’t be labeled organic. Also signifies that no synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, or genetic engineering have been used. This claim must be third-party verified.


  • This claim refers to what the livestock was fed, and signifies that the animals were given feed from sources that have not been genetically engineered. This claim requires third-party verification.

Humanely Raised

  • This term has no official definition and it is not verified either by USDA or any independent organization.

Animal Welfare Approved (AWA)

  • Unlike the term “Humanely Raised”, this statement signifies that a third party has verified that the livestock has been raised according to the AWA standards with robust animal welfare and environmental considerations.

As you can see from the list above, many statements can be added to meat packaging that don’t actually require third-party verification. If you care about animal welfare and ingredient quality, it’s important to look for products with VERIFIED claims, such as the USDA organic or the AWA badge.

Why should you care about these statements?

  1. Antibiotics are overused and result in the proliferation of super-resistant bacteria strains that have the potential to spread quickly, and contaminate other food sources.
  2. Animals raised on pastures, with plenty of room to roam are not only healthier themselves, but their meat also contains more beneficial nutrients such as good fats like Omega-3, antioxidants such as vitamin E, and vitamin K2 which helps calcium absorption for stronger bones.
  3. Since pasture-raised animals aren’t subjected to super cramped living conditions, the risks of a disease outbreak are drastically decreased.
  4. The minimization of stress throughout the animal’s lifetime also results in meat with a lower pH that is consistently more delicate than in animals that experience stress during transport, handling, and slaughter.
  5. Animals that have been fed an organic diet contribute less to fertilizer and pesticide runoff from conventional large-scale farm operations.
  6. Pasture-raised poultry contains 50% more vitamin A, an important nutrient for maintaining a strong immune system.
  7. Opting for ethically raised meats often helps support smaller and locally based farm operations, which in turn helps to support and strengthen your community as a whole.
  8. Lastly, there is a cascading effect of ethically raised livestock production that leads to more sustainable farming practices across the board. It is no secret that livestock production has been a huge contributing factor to climate change, and the farmers that make humane choices for their livestock often practice or support other sustainable farm operations. This might include supporting biodiversity instead of monoculture farms, management of soil health and no-till farming, conscious water consumption, and circular farming systems.

So what can we conclude from all this?

Livestock farming practices do matter, and because of the scale of the industry, the impacts of these practices have a huge effect on our health, and our communities. Doing the ‘right’ thing is not easy, and there is a trade-off in consumer costs. BUT we strongly believe that the costs are worth it. At Intelligent Gourmet we take time to source meats from suppliers we trust, who offer transparency and shared values for animal welfare and sustainable farming practices. What we eat not only fuels our bodies, but provides our bodies with the building blocks that it needs to heal, grow, and function on a day-to-day basis. So the quality of that fuel directly impacts our overall health. Not to mention, higher quality ingredients TASTE better too, and we can all agree on how important that is too.



Sugar, sweets, and sugar substitutes

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the…muscles and body experience a boost of energy, and then likely crash shortly afterward. You know it, we know it, we’ve all experienced a sugar crash once in our lives. Today we’re diving into the sweet stuff to figure out if we really need to be so concerned with sugar, how much we should be including in our diets, and some great sources of natural sugar and natural sugar substitutes.

First off, what is sugar?

When you hear the word “sugar” you probably envision the refined white sugar crystals we all know and love. That would be correct, but more specifically that sugar is called sucrose, and it is also a type of carbohydrate. There are many different types of carbohydrates/sugars, Including Sucrose (refined table sugar), Lactose (found in milk and dairy), Fructose (found in fruit), and Glucose the simplest form of sugar. When you consume ANY carbohydrate, your body breaks it down into glucose, which then enters the bloodstream and provides energy to every cell in your body. Without glucose, your body’s primary functions can’t do their job, and this can quickly lead to life-threatening complications.

So needless to say, sugar is an important part of a functioning diet. That being said, not all forms of sugar are created equal.

As we mentioned, glucose is the simplest form of sugar your body can process. Your body doesn’t have to expend any extra energy to get it into the bloodstream. But the more complex the sugars and carbohydrates get, the more energy it takes to break them down into the basic building block of glucose. This is why you hear so many nutritionists vouch for “Complex Carbs”. These carbs are long complicated chains of molecules that take energy and time to break down. Complex carbs are found naturally in most whole plant foods we consume, such as beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits. So although we don’t usually think of grains, or vegetables as being “sugary” or “sweet”, they actually contain sugars, and you can meet your daily glucose requirements by eating these whole foods. the length of time it takes to break the foods down into glucose also helps mitigate the sugar crash. Rather than your body accessing a bunch of glucose (energy) all at once, that same amount of glucose is slowly released into the bloodstream over a longer stretch of time, providing a stable and consistent flow of energy to the body.

Why is sugar sweet?

So we’ve determined what sugar is, and how important sugar is to a healthy and happy body. And we can see that we don’t need refined simple sugar to meet our body’s needs. But our attachment to sugar goes beyond just our desire to fuel our bodies. There’s something about simple sugars specifically that our taste buds tend to get really attached to. So what makes refined sugar “sweet”?

The sweetness of refined sugar is the result of a chemical interaction between the sugar molecules and the taste receptor cells in our mouths. That specific chemical reaction creates a signal in our nervous system that tells our brain we are experiencing something “sweet”. Studies have shown that our brains are wired to release certain chemicals, such as Serotonin when we consume something sweet. Some theorize this is because it was a high-value food that was beneficial to seek out as humans were evolving before it became such a huge and easily accessible commodity. Either way, there are a number of reasons your body can crave sweet things, including:

  • Mineral deficiencies
  • Blood sugar imbalance
  • Nostalgia and triggered memories
  • Cultural norms and routines

Although we are huge supporters of listening to your body, giving into these cravings too often can be detrimental to your health. Sugar is necessary, but too much of anything is rarely a good idea. If you feel that you are craving sugar more often than normal, it would probably help to talk to a doctor or nutritionist about it, and dig a little deeper in case there is an underlying reason for it.

Sugar Substitutes

The good news is that there are some great sugar substitutes available that we can use in place of table sugar when we’re craving something sweet. Some of our favorites that we use in our recipes are:

  • Xylitol – A natural sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and contains about 1/2 or 1/4 fewer calories than table sugar. Although this is still technically refined sugar, it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels so it doesn’t count towards ‘Net Carbs’ from a nutrition standpoint. Xylitol also reduces levels of decay-causing bacteria in [saliva](, so it doesn’t cause the same tooth decay that table sugar does.
  • Monk fruit – Another natural sugar extracted from a small round fruit native to Southern China. The extract can be 150-200 times sweeter than table sugar, so less is needed when you are using this as a replacement in a recipe. Monk fruit sweeteners are made of compounds called mogrosides, which aren’t digested in the upper gastrointestinal tract, so it has no caloric value.
  • Agave – Agave is often sold as a thick syrup or nectar, and comes from the Agave plant native to Latin America. Agave is primarily fructose, and although it provides a wonderful sweet flavor, fructose doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. It is important to note that your liver can get overloaded if you consume too much fructose, so as with everything it’s still important to moderate how much agave you consume.
  • Honey – Likely the most well-known sweetener on this list, honey is produced naturally by bees and has many health benefits that make it a good substitute for table sugar. Although honey is primarily Sucrose, it also contains trace amounts of other minerals and antioxidants Honey also has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, while at the same promoting the health of good bacteria in the digestive tract.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, you need some form of sugar to function, but it’s best to limit refined table sugar, and hidden simple sugars in heavily processed foods. We love each of our listed sugar substitutes for different reasons, and they all have a specific purpose in our recipes. It is important to pay attention to what you eat, but it’s also important to enjoy it. Life should be sweet! and we hope this deep dive into sugar has inspired to you appreciate what sugar and carbs provide for our bodies, and we hope we’ve inspired you to explore some sugar substitutes for your own sweet recipes.