Lifes Abundance posts created by lifes abundance

6 Foods That Will Give Your Teeth Something To Smile About

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We often eat for our body's health — which is a great thing — but how often do your teeth and gums weigh in on your nutritional decisions?  Many of us forget that the food we eat can help us keep our teeth clean.

Just about anybody can tell you that sweets aren't good for your teeth. Those pesky sugars in candy, soft drinks and even sticky, dried fruits can wreak havoc in the form of cavities. But enough with this negativity! Rather than living a life of avoidance to protect your teeth, start reaching for foods that have a lot to offer your pearly whites (and the pink flesh that cradles them).

There are a lot of great foods out there that help keep your teeth clean and your smile healthy! Here are six toothsome choices that can keep your teeth clean:

1. Dairy. No, it doesn't make your teeth whiter. It does something far better: the calcium in milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products keeps the enamel strong. Plus, a lot of dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, which is linked to lower rates of tooth decay in children. Even better, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that kids eat certain cheeses as a snack or after a meal. “Cheeses such as aged cheddar, swiss, mozzarella and Monterey jack stimulate the flow of saliva, clearing the mouth of food debris and acting as a buffer to neutralize the acids that attack teeth. The calcium and phosphorous found in cheese also reduce or prevent decreases in pH levels of saliva and promote remineralization of tooth enamel.” Huzzah. Pass the cheese board!

2. Get your crunch on. No, silly, not with chips. Crisp veggies and fruits — like celery and apples — are packed with water and fiber and do a great job cleaning as you chomp.  According to the American Dental Association, chewing stimulates saliva, which can wash away acids and food bits and keep your teeth clean. 

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3. Leafy greens.  Crunchy and fibrous greens like chard, kale and spinach help strengthen our gums and teeth. These leafy greens offer the boost of vitamin C many of us are missing in our oral care regimen. Even if you're not a salad person, it's easy to slip leafy greens into your soups and stews. You can even add our Greens Blend to your morning smoothie for a delicious shot of plant power and vitamin C. 

4. Green tea. Yes it's trendy and delicious. But did you know that green tea is super healthy for your mouth? Green tea is loaded with flavonoids, which contain compounds called catechins that fight cancer and act as antioxidants. “Catechins should be considered right alongside the better-known antioxidants like vitamins E and C as potent free radical scavengers and health supportive for this reason,” says a study from the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology. “It has been suggested that green tea also promotes periodontal health by reducing inflammation, preventing bone resorption and limiting the growth of certain bacteria associated with periodontal diseases.” Drink up!

5. Raw onion. Phew! Really? Yes, it's true that raw onions might stink up your breath but some dentists have called them a “superfood for super teeth.” They contain antibacterial sulfur compounds that kill dreaded bacteria that lurk in the mouth and cause tooth decay.

6. Shiitake mushrooms. These mushrooms are currently being explored for their potential for oral health benefits. Recent studies have shown that shiitake mouthwash can improve good bacteria and destroy bad oral bacteria.  But are you brave enough to rinse your mouth twice a day with a pungent shiitake mushroom mouthwash?  If the idea of eating mushrooms instead is easier to swallow, try our Greens Blend drink mix.  Fortunately, it's delicious and comes complete with a 5-mushroom blend, including shiitake. 

Keep in mind just one thing. Although tasty, one should never replace brushing, flossing and gargling with chewing a mushroom or a piece of raw onion. Your significant others will thank you!

Is Therapy Training Right for Your Pet?

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Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, is a wonderful way for your companion animal to help people in need. Registered therapy animals visit schools, hospitals, prisons, libraries, nursing homes and other facilities where interactions with pets could help people. Pet therapy activities, such as petting, brushing, walking, playing fetch, doing tricks or even something as simple as gazing into each other’s eyes, not only help people take their mind off their own problems, they can have physiological effects, too.

Oftentimes, animals can reach humans in a way that other people can’t, making them feel safe and unconditionally loved. There’s no denying that the human-animal bond is powerful. Fearful children and patients feel braver and stronger in the presence of a companion animal. Studies have chronicled numerous positive effects for hospital patients, including lowered blood pressure rates, heart rates and stress levels. Even though cats, birds, rabbits and other small animals make wonderful therapy workers, in this post we’ll be focusing on therapy dogs and what characteristics are needed for a good candidate.

Characteristics Well-Suited to Therapy Dog Requirements

To determine whether or not your dog is cut out for therapy work, keep in mind that the most successful therapy dogs really enjoy interacting with people, willingly allow strangers to pet them, are able to walk nicely on a leash without pulling, are able to remain calm around distractions and pay close attention to their handlers. These canines should be comfortable around children, as well as a variety of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, canes and walkers. They also need to be tolerant of potentially rough handling and jerky movements, as children and people suffering from illness may not be able to be as gentle as you or me. Additionally, dogs who are brave, like to nudge your hand for attention, or frequently put their head in your lap usually make for amazing therapy workers.

Generally speaking, most therapy dog training programs require your pooch to be at least one year old, have proof of up-to-date vaccinations and be tested to ensure they’re free from infectious organisms. To become a registered therapy animal, your dog must undergo a temperament evaluation to establish that his or her personality is a good fit for the program. Even though therapy dog requirements vary, the certification process usually involves two or three supervised visits to judge how well your dog reacts when faced with new environments.

How Do I Get My Therapy Dog Training Certification?

There are several national non-profit programs that certify dogs for pet therapy. Among these, Therapy Dogs International, Alliance of Therapy Dogs and Pet Partners are stellar organizations and great places to start learning more about this community of healers. 

If you feel like your companion animal might be well suited to this important work, contact one of the local chapters in your area. They will tell you everything you need to know about therapy dog training and how to register. Many of you will be happy to note that dogs need not be purebred for certification.

And, remember … a good therapy dog is only half of the partnership. You, as the handler, are vitally important to this equation. Be forewarned, it’s a significant investment of your time, and the work can be emotionally demanding. But most who do this work find the benefits to others far outweigh the personal costs.  

Have you ever had a personal experience with pet-assisted therapy? We would love to hear your story, just leave your comments in the section below.  

LINKS:

Alliance of Therapy Dogs https://www.therapydogs.com/

Pet Partners https://petpartners.org/

Therapy Dogs International https://www.tdi-dog.org

Pantry Staples for Homemade Facials

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While spa treatments are no doubt relaxing, there’s no need to book a pricey facial to reap the benefits of a skin-softening treatment. Just turn to your kitchen for inspiration—chances are, your cupboards are already lined with the following ingredients that, when mixed together, create yummy concoctions that are deliciously good for your skin. Feel free to nibble as you nourish!

Olive oil: This common pantry staple is liquid gold for any natural face- or body-mask lover. Extra virgin olive oil (and make sure it’s unrefined extra virgin because this has gone through the least amount of processing and contains no added chemicals or artificial flavors) is loaded with vitamins E and K and squalene (a nourishing fatty acid), which help moisturize skin. Pair it with sea salt for an exfoliating scrub, with strawberries for radiance, or with milk and turmeric to soothe irritated skin.

Brown sugar: There’s nothing sweeter than a brown sugar scrub. It smells great and leaves your face smooth and supple. Because it has smaller particles than white refined sugar, it’s a gentle exfoliator. According to Livestrong, brown sugar contains glycolic acid, which fights bacteria, and it is a natural humectant, which retains moisture. Plus, it can be paired with a variety of ingredients you might already have in your cupboard. For a particularly nice scrub, combine Manuka honey, brown sugar, coconut oil and a drop of your favorite-smelling essential oil for a special personalized treat.

Sea salt: Not only does a pinch of sea salt make just about any food taste better, it also does wonders for your skin. These days you can find sea salt offerings at every spa and in a myriad of expensive products like cleansing oils, scrubs and moisturizing creams. But really, anyone with a bottle of sea salt at home can benefit from its antimicrobial and absorbent assets. “Minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium [in salt] help moisturize and firm skin,” Ashely Brown, Too Cool for School’s director of education, told Allure. Mix about half a cup of sea salt with our friend olive oil and a few drops of essential oil and you have the perfect homemade scrub. For a delectable recipe, combine equal parts raw honey and pink Himalayan sea salt for an exfoliating homemade face mask.

Bananas: What’s in bananas that make this fruit so awesome for skin? It’s loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, antioxidants and manganese—all of which help with boosting hydration, reducing inflammation and fighting acne. Be sure to mash up and use the banana right away; otherwise it will turn a rather unappealing brown. An easy DIY banana face mask recipe for brightening is one banana, a tablespoon of honey and a splash of lemon juice.

Honey: As you might have noticed, honey pairs well with every above-mentioned ingredient. A natural antibacterial, honey is full of antioxidants, so it’s helpful for acne, cleanses pores and provides a moisturizing boost. In addition to all the tantalizing concoctions mentioned above, you can also do a light homemade face mask of pure raw honey—just smooth it onto damp skin and rinse off after about 30 minutes.

Important note: Always test these ingredients on a patch of skin before full immersion, just in case you have a reaction.

If you don’t have the time or patience to raid your kitchen pantry for an at-home spa day, check out our skin care line, made with organic botanical ingredients.

Cherry Lime Refresher

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If the dog days of summer call out for anything (aside from a fully functioning central air system) it’s a bright, cool, refreshing beverage. And should that beverage also replenish your body’s supply of minerals and antioxidants, so much the better!

Our culinary team has concocted what we hope will instantly become your new favorite beverage from your first thirst-quenching gulp. It's bright as the noon-day beach, bursting with a snappy, sweet flavor and brimming with the nutrients that summer bodies crave, thanks to our fabulously nourishing Minerals & Antioxidants Drink Mix.

Best of all, it's a simple recipe, one you can mix to perfection in mere moments. In fact, we're willing to wager that your taste buds will tingle with anticipation just reading over our recipe! Get ready to wow your friends and family when you serve this drink at your next summer cookout.

Without any further ado, say "hello" to our brand new summer apéritif, Cherry Lime Refresher.

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

In a shaker bottle, muddle the cherries. Add cranberry juice, lime juice and ice. Cover and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a tall glass, then stir in Minerals & Antioxidants. Slowly fill the remainder of glass with the club soda or lemon-lime soda. Stir. Serve with a garnish of lime.

Why Consumers Trust Lifeʼs Abundance Pet Food

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NOTE: Life’s Abundance is not the subject of any FDA investigations or cases of DCM.

The FDA’s June 27 update linking 16 dog food brands to reports of the canine heart disease dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) has pet parents understandably concerned. Our hearts go out to affected families, and we’re happy to address your questions about our brand.

Our Purpose is You

At Life’s Abundance we are fueled by our passion for helping families, including pets, live longer, happier, healthier lives. You and your family are at the top of our minds as we develop products, select ingredients, choose suppliers and answer your questions.

If you already feed your companion Life’s Abundance food, thank you for placing your trust in us. If you or someone you know is considering making a switch, we hope you will choose Life’s Abundance.

Our way of thinking sets us apart, but it doesn’t end there.

  • Authenticity. We don’t buy into fads and marketing gimmicks. Our formulas are based on proven science and evolve only when research confirms that an adjustment will provide a nutritional benefit. In fact, because we are proactive in our approach, we were among the first to include guaranteed probiotics in our foods.
  • Guaranteed Taurine. We guarantee minimum amounts of taurine in all of our dry dog foods. Though this nutrient is not required by AAFCO, we have always seen it as an important and beneficial supplement in our dog foods.
  • Regular Testing. We regularly test all of our dry foods. Some tests are standard protocol and some go above and beyond standard requirements. For example, after a 2018 FDA report indicated there may be a link between DCM and taurine deficiency, we re-tested taurine levels in all of our dry dog food diets. Then, later that year we re-tested Vitamin D after a series of recalls due to an excess of this nutrient. In all cases, we remain vigilant about the safety of our products.
  • Proven Results. For two decades families like yours have trusted us to provide the best nutrition for their pets. Generations of dogs and cats have thrived on our products and thousands of pet parents have shared their experience through reviews we can be proud of.
  • Feeding Trials in Process. We recognize the importance of standardized, scientific testing and the value of Feeding Trials and we are underway with the process to trial all of our dry dog foods.
  • Quick Notification System. We are proud of the fact that we have never had a recall. But, what we are most thrilled with is our Quick Notification System. Unlike most brands, because we have a direct relationship with customers, in the event there is ever an issue with a product, we will be able to notify consumers immediately. Rather than waiting to hear about a problem in the news, from a friend, or never hearing about it all, Life’s Abundance will contact you directly by email, phone or even mail. That’s a level of service you simply can’t get anywhere else.

As a company and as pet parents ourselves, news of events like DCM makes us pause to acknowledge what it means to be based on a foundation of integrity, and to appreciate those families whose well being our products support.

Be assured, we are monitoring this investigation closely and will provide updates as they become available.

Bulletin: FDA Named 16 Dog Food Brands Involved in Official Reports of Heart Disease

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NOTE: NO LIFE'S ABUNDANCE PET FOODS ARE INVOLVED IN THIS FDA REPORT OR DCM.

In July of last year, the FDA's investigation of consumer reports concerning an increase in the number of incidents of a heart disease called canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The dogs did not have a predisposition to DCM but they did frequently eat dog foods containing peas, lentils and other legume seeds or potatoes as main ingredients.

The FDA has updated their investigation into the DCM cases and named 16 brands eaten by dogs involved in the official report. Only brands named 10 or more times are in this list while some reports listed multiple brands and other listed none.

Top 16 Pet Food Brands Associated with DCM Cases:

  1. Acana - 67
  2. Zignature - 64
  3. Taste of the Wild - 53
  4. 4Health - 32
  5. Earthborn Holistic - 32
  6. Blue Buffalo - 31
  7. Nature's Domain - 29
  8. Fromm - 24
  9. Merrick -16
  10. California Natural -15
  11. Natural Balance -15
  12. Orijen -12
  13. Nature's Variety - 11
  14. NutriSource - 10
  15. Nutro - 10
  16. Rachael Ray Nutrish - 10

Officials said “The FDA is working with the pet food industry to better understand whether changes in ingredients, ingredient sourcing, processing or formulation may have contributed to the development of DCM."

If you or someone you know is feeding one of the brands listed above, now may be a good time to make the switch to a premium Life's Abundance diet. If you already feed Life's Abundance to your companion, you can remain confident in your choice and our commitment to helping families, including pets, live long, healthy lives!

Related Post: Why Consumers Trust Life's Abundance Pet Food

DIY Projects to Make Your Home Pet-Friendly

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If you're like a lot of new and prospective first-time home buyers, having your own home gives you the opportunity to do something you've always dreamed of ... welcoming a companion animal into your family!

In fact, it turns out that home buying decisions rely significantly on pet-related considerations. For pet parents, a house in a community with pet-oriented features will almost invariably win out over a community with numerous pet restrictions. With over 60% of American households that include a pet or want one, that's many millions of home buyers focused on their pets' needs.

Our love of pets is not just affecting buying habits, it's driving renovation decisions. This summer, countless families will be starting do-it-yourself projects with an eye toward making their homes more suitable or more comfortable for dogs and cats. In this post, we'll be taking a deep dive on some of the most common DIY projects for pet parents. So strap on your toolbelts, recharge your power tools, dig out your measuring tape, crack your knuckles and let's get down to brass tacks. Or, nails, probably nails would be better. To the list!

Hot Dog a Doggie Door!

Your dog wants to go outside. Then he wants to come back in. Then he wants to go outside again. And the cycle repeats. Rather than giving yourself over to the whims of your dog, who quite frankly will be much happier if he can run around the yard whenever the inclination strikes, why not remove yourself from this equation entirely? A dog door offers the ideal solution. And, as far as renovation projects go, relatively easy to install.

Project Difficulty: pretty simple, actually.

Laying Down the P-Lam

Life is not always neat. Dogs and cats can track in all sorts of crud into your home. And sometimes they have accidents, too. Rather than risk a pee incident with your carpeted house, why not upgrade your flooring to something decidedly more pet-friendly? Scratch-resistant, stain-proof plastic laminate flooring offers a great way to avoid the unpleasantness of carpet stains. New homeowners, be forewarned, though ... tearing out old carpet and pads and laying down all new flooring is a bit of a challenge.

Project Difficulty: moderate, but big payoff.

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The Wonderful World of Built-Ins

Like the groovy conversation pits of 60's post-modern ranch houses, the understated elegance of built-ins to accommodate pet food and water bowls, not to mention pet beds, are all the rage with your fellow DIYers. There's no better way to demonstrate that your pets truly matter to you (as in, this house was literally made for you to be here). Functionally, they're a dream. Straightening up for company has never been so simple. Though it is a bit more labor-intensive than first-time DIYers should tackle, if you have a good plan, anything is possible.

Project Difficulty: complex, unless you've had woodworking experience.

The Deluxe Mud Room

Mud rooms are not just for ranches and farm houses anymore. If you have rambunctious doggos who love to romp and wallow in the dirt, and maybe young children who enjoy the same, having a room between the messy great outdoors and the cozy cleanness of your living areas can provide the perfect buffer. Now, savvy homeowners are outfitting their mud rooms with plumbing! While some install an oversized sink that functions as a doggie bathing area, other deluxe mud room conversions also function as a laundry room as well as a changing area. Wouldn't it be nice to peel off dirty clothes and drop them in the wash before you enter your inner sanctuary? The benefits are tangible and numerous, if you're ready for a bigger project.

Project Difficulty: challenging (as they say, when plumbing's involved, best to leave it to the professionals).

The best part of committing to pet-friendly renovation projects, aside from the obvious benefits of each, is that not only is there very little chance you'll regret your decision but also that you'll almost certainly derive great satisfaction from these renos. A recent survey showed that four out five people were very satisfied post-project, even when they paid someone else to do all the work. And that number only goes higher when you do the work yourself! 

So, the only question left now is, what will you build?

5 Considerations When Choosing Supplements

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There are many wonderful ways to give your health a dietary boost these days, but determining which supplements are best for you can be daunting. The choice for the perfect supplements for your needs really depends upon who you are ... your body’s unique requirements and your personal goals.

If we know anything it's that the internet is rife with unsubstantiated claims and, frankly, bunk recommendations for healthy products that don’t come anywhere near to living up to their hype. Before you start buying nutritional supplements, please carefully consider the following five criteria.

1. Medicinal Intake
Consider your current health and any medicines you’re taking because they might leech your body of necessary vitamins and minerals. For instance, if you regularly take an antibiotic, you might need a probiotic supplement to help keep your gut flora healthy. Or if you’re taking hydroxychloroquine for an autoimmune issue, you’ll need to monitor your folic acid intake. Be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist when prescribed a new medication to see if you need to supplement your diet during the course of treatment. Additionally, you would be wise to ask if the supplements you are already taking might be contraindicated by your medications.

2. Prevention Goals
Some of us might be worried about a specific ailment (such as diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc.) and seek a supplement that could possibly aid in prevention. If this is something you’re concerned about, do your research! Learn which supplements contain the nutritional benefits you are seeking and whether or not there’s science to back up any benefit claims. But don’t trust just anyone, make sure your decisions are based on quality information. A good place to start is the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health or consult your doctor.

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3. Age
As we grow older, our bodies require additional levels of certain nutrients to stay healthy. Older women tend to experience bone loss (which can lead to an increased risk of fractures), so adding extra calcium is usually a good idea. Older men might need extra dietary fiber if Type 2 diabetes and heart disease are sources of worry. If you’re older than 50, ask your doctor or you might want to check out the National Institute on Aging for helpful vitamin and mineral recommendations (they have loads of other great nutritional information as well)!

4. Gender
The fact is, men and women have different dietary needs. Women tend to need more iron and calcium, while men are often deficient in, well, quite frankly, just about everything. So taking your sex into consideration could be more important than you think.

5. Current Diet
This is really the baseline for everything. Maybe you are strictly following a ketogenic diet (low-carb, high fat), or you’re a vegan or you eat whatever you please. No matter what foods you consume, you should keep close track of your diet for a week and then analyze it to identify any nutritional gaps. Common deficits include fiber, vitamins D and E, probiotics and fish oils. For example, one person may eat a lot of fish and white rice, but forget to add fibrous fruits and veggies. Another might regularly eat veggies and fruits, but not enough protein. This is a healthy exercise in that, once you see what you might be lacking, you can make a more targeted effort in your meal planning. Furthermore, now that you recognize your dietary deficits, you'll be much better equipped to determine which quality supplements (such as a multivitaminfish oil caps or plant protein) you need to maintain balanced nutritional intake.

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Once you've had time to run through all of these considerations, you will be so much more confident that your next steps will actually be tailored to your needs. When you're ready to shop for nourishing supplements, we hope you'll keep Life's Abundance in mind to help fulfill your nutritional supplement needs!

Ultimate BBQ Sauce – Father’s Day Recipe

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Question: What's the quickest way to get your dad to say "awesome sauce"?

Answer: This recipe!

Looking for a fun way to celebrate Father's Day? If you're like many Americans, firing up the outdoor grill is action item #1 on Sunday's to-do list. And who can blame us? There's the summer sun. The comraderie of friends and family gathered together. Cool, refreshing drinks. And, of course, seriously tasty foods. With this fantastic BBQ sauce, you better believe there will be loads of tasty foods.

Our BBQ sauce is not just sweet, tangy and spicy. It's made with the health-promoting power of certified-organic greens and certified-organic mushrooms! Our Greens Blend supplement nourishes with our proprietary blend of reishi, maitake and shitake mushrooms (a superb source of iron and B vitamins) and raw greens (a great source of phytonutrients and antioxidants).

Perhaps best of all, it's super easy to make! Let's get to the details ...

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3/4 cup organic ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Life’s Abundance Greens Blend
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/6 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients (except Greens Blend) in a sauce pan over medium heat; cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in Greens Blend. That's it, your homemade BBQ sauce is complete! Serve right away as a condiment, marinate your meats or store in the refrigerator to use whenever you want. Use as a dipping sauce for stuffed potato skins, as a spicy condiment on your burger or even as a sumptuous marinade for ribs, chicken or salmon.

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This Father's Day, give your dad something he'll really enjoy! Who knows, it may end up being his favorite thing of the day!

4 Tricky Fruits & Veggies Worth the Effort

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We have to respect a fruit that can draw blood just by grazing your flesh. But once tamed, the pineapple delivers a bounty of health benefits: antioxidant vitamins A and C, copper, manganese and bromelain, which is thought to ease inflammation. Plus, buying a whole pineapple versus pre-sliced or frozen chunks can save you some cash. And it sure tastes a lot more flavorful and juicier.

But, you might be asking yourself, how the heck do I even approach a pineapple without losing an appendage? Armed with a little know-how, victory can be yours but first, the preliminaries:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before you start handling food.
  • Remove any damaged or bruised areas. If you suspect it could be rotten, toss it out.
  • Thoroughly wash the food under running water. It’s okay to scrub firmer produce with a brush.

So don’t be intimidated. Grab a sharp knife and claim your birthright:

Pineapple

What to Look For
A ripe pineapple is mostly firm but will give ever-so-slightly when you squeeze it. The color should be a consistent golden yellow (but a little green is OK), and the base should smell sweet and bright.

How to Prepare
Chop off the top and base. Next, prop that puppy up lengthwise and use a serrated knife to carefully saw off the spiky skin, top to bottom. Then you can cut it into chunks or slice it into rounds as desired.

Artichoke

One of earth’s natural diuretics, the artichoke has a reputation for fighting bloat. But this vegetable has more than one trick up its thorny sleeve. Rich in fiber and folate, it also has tons of vitamins C and K, copper, magnesium, manganese and potassium. Sure, you could buy a can of artichoke hearts but why deny yourself the pleasure of eating the leaves — or the satisfaction of conquest?

What to Look For
The leaves should be tightly packed, not loose or splayed. They also should squeak when rubbed together.

How to Prepare
If you plan to eat the whole artichoke (leaves and heart) start by using a serrated knife to cut off the tips and stem. Then use kitchen shears to snip off any sharp points on the leaves. Once you’ve boiled or braised it, be sure to scoop out the inedible “choke,” a thistle-like substance, using a spoon.

Ginger Root

Good God. Look at that thing. So gnarled. So rooty. How could something so delicious look so filthy? And yet, there it is. Still, we urge you to look past this plant’s dusty veneer and consider its benefits. Long used to calm nausea and indigestion plus, it tastes and smells divine. 

What to Look For
Pick up the hand — yes, that’s what it’s called and we think it’s creepy, too — and examine its texture. Choose a section with smooth, taut skin, which should be thin enough to nick with your fingernail. You should also be able to detect its spicy scent.

How to Prepare
Break off as much of the hand (shudder) as you need. Pro tip: If it doesn’t snap easily, it’s probably not fresh. Use a knife to pare off any dry ends and nubs, and then hack away at the larger swaths of skin with a vegetable peeler. If any stubborn bits remain, scrape ‘em off with a spoon. You’re left with lovely flesh for grating, pickling or candying.

Coconut

You may take one look at that hairy stack in the produce section and feel a strong urge to abort mission. Resist! Nutrient-rich coconuts aren’t hard to master, and buying them whole is more cost-effective. 

What to Look For
First, check for heft; a good coconut should feel heavy for its size. Next, give that bad boy a good shake. Does it sound like at least a cup of water is sloshing around in there? Great. Now examine the cluster of indentations called “eyes” for cracks, mold or wetness.

How to Prepare
Guys, you get to use a hammer for this! And a screwdriver, which you’ll use to poke a hole in the coconut’s softest eye. Once you’ve pierced the eye, drain the liquid inside by either slurping it up with a straw or pouring it into a glass. Gently hammer a spot toward the center of the fruit until a fracture forms along the circumference. Pull the halves apart and pry the flesh from the shell with a butter knife.

Then, imagine yourself on a desert island and enjoy the sweet bounty.