Selecting Supplements: A Quick Reference in Sorting Out Quality from Crap

I’m a big proponent of consuming QUALITY supplements. Why? Here’s a few reasons:

  1. A diet consisting of processed and preserved foods doesn’t give us quality nutrients our body needs to function at a high level. And, are you eating the recommended amount of fruits and veggies each day? (the Standard American Diet) I’m totes guilty of eating processed foods and not always eating all the fresh stuff that I should….I’m a work in progress, people!
  2. Thanks to modern farming and the use of fertilizers, the soil where our food is grown has been ripped of nutrient-dense vitamins and minerals, leaving our fruits and veggies also depleted of these important elements. Furthermore, fresh foods are often shipped long distances and stored for long periods of time which causes nutrient quality to decrease. Buy local and support Farmer’s Markets when possible! Best for you AND the community!
  3. Can’t forget to mention those pesky (understatement) pesticides and herbicides. Do they effect the nutrient content of our food? Of course they do! The chemicals in our food, combined with the chemicals in the air, water and beauty/self-care products we use daily, increase our need for extra vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to combat formation of free radicals and the attack on our immune system.
  4. Many fruits and vegetables are genetically modified to improve visual appeal and crop yields, not nutritional value. So the mixing and mingling of all those genes ultimately brings the quality down and disrupts the natural awesomeness of the food. Just say NO to GMOs….selecting-supplements_

What are some important elements to consider when buying supplements? Here are some things to look for and consider:

  • Ingredients and Source. Our bodies were made to absorb nutrients from real food. Are the supplements made from raw food, making them more bioavailable? (ideal) Or from synthetic chemical “nutrients” made in a lab? (not ideal) Do you know where the ingredients come from? Where they are grown and what farming practices are used?
  • Organic and non-GMO. This is more of an issue of what to keep OUT of supplements. If pesticides/herbicides deplete the nutrient content, seems pretty counter-intuitive to consume supplements that are made with harmful chemicals, right? Read my blog on the importance of organic here.
  • Production and Quality. Are they made in pharmaceutical-grade facility? Recommended by doctors and practitioners knowledgeable about nutrition? (read: not all physicians are created equal) Tested for quality? Packaged responsibly?

Trust me – if you are going to invest in your health and buy supplements, be sure to take a little time and research the company. Check out their website for the above. Supplements bought at Target/Wal-Mart/Walgreens are most likely going to be a huge waste of your time and money. Head over to Natural Grocers, Whole Foods or order online.

Supplement companies I use (bonus: recommended or approved by Dr. Patricia Ryan, MD, CCN aka Dr. Mom/GiGi): Thorne Research, Metagenics, Garden of Life, Rainbow Light, Body Bio, Perque, and Nutriwest.

Happy Supplementing!


Black Bean Brownies

Gluten-free. Guilt-free. Yummy-full.

Have fun watching your friends faces after you tell them they are eating black beans in their brownies!

Disclaimer: Are these as good as Betty Crocker boxed brownies? Hell no! But they are pretty darn good and much more healthy. Enjoy!

I have no guilt letting my littles eat these!

In Blender:

  • Add: 3 eggs
  • Blend for 10 seconds
  • Add: 1 can drained & rinsed black beans
  • Blend one minute
  • Add:
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • ¼ cup cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
    • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil – melted
    • 1/8 tsp sea salt
    • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ½ cup coconut sugar
    • 3 tablespoons of raw honey

  • Blend all of the above
  • Add:
    • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
    • 1 tablespoon almond flour
  • Blend again
  • Bake at 350 degrees
    • 30 mins in 8×8 pan or
    • 15 mins in 13×9 pan or
    • 18 minutes for cupcakes
    • Grease pan with coconut oil



Organic : Prioritized

The importance of eating organic (and non-GMO) has been written a million ways by a million people way smarter than me so I’m not even going to go into how EXTREMELY critical it is! (Robyn O’Brien is my fave blogger/expert on this topic if you want more info.)

So, how does the average person on an average budget know how to prioritize? I really struggle in making decisions on where to splurge on organic and when its OK to buy conventional. And if you’re anything like me, I dread coming home after a grocery store visit to my husband asking, “K how much did you spend this week??” So, I wanted to share a few tips.

Now, I must include a disclaimer: most of the information I share in the post comes from my mother, Patricia Ryan-Carlson, MD. I quickly picked her brain while she gave Kate a bath last week (seriously, she’s the best) on why she recommends certain foods MUST be purchased organic. Her order of importance is as follows:

1.) Meat and Dairy – MOST IMPORTANT

Why? The pesticides and herbicides are fat-soluble, meaning they accumulate and are stored in the fatty tissue of the animal. The EPA reports that meat is contaminated with higher levels of pesticides than any plant food. Animal feed that contains animal products compounds the accumulation, which is directly passed to the us. In addition, antibiotics, drugs, and hormones are a standard in raising and slaughtering livestock, all of which accumulate and are passed on to consumers as well. Ick. So much ick.

Grass-fed beef (and butter/milk/yogurt/cheese) and free-range chicken and eggs (Note:  not just “cage free”) are absolutely worth the splurge.

2.) Fruits and VeggiesDirtyClean

Why? There can be as many as FORTY (40!) different pesticides sprayed on each piece of produce (strawberries being the biggest offenders). Check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 here. This guide can help you prioritize which produce items are critical to buy organic and which ones are OK to purchase conventional.

Quick tip: While fresh is always the best, I am big consumer of frozen organic fruits and veggies. It’s totally cheaper!

3.) Everything else: Grains, snacks, processed goods

Work this stuff into your budget when you can. Thankfully, grocery stores like Bakers, Hy-Vee and Costco have their own store-brand organic items. The smallest ingredient list is best and avoid HFCS and artificial dyes. And, remember: just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

My last tip? The 80/20 rule: be good 80% of the time. 20% of the time, give yourself a break. Perfection when it comes to any sort of “diet” is unrealistic. (Hellooooo Bruegger’s bagels and cream cheese).

K sorry. One more tip: Baby steps! Start small. Small changes over time DO make a difference. Slowly move more organic items into your diet.


Kate Berries

Picture because…who doesn’t love a cute baby eating organic berries?!