real food

Why You Should Care About Kales Glycemic Index

Why You Should Care About Kales Glycemic Index

Kale Nutrition Facts and How to Incorporate This Powerhouse Food into Your Diet

What is the glycemic index?

I’ve heard glycemic index before, and haven’t spent the time looking into it because it sounded complicated, and frankly irrelevant to me as someone who just eats with balance in mind. But, it is actually a very helpful tool for people for everyone to understand how our body processes food.

The glycemic index (GI) helps you compare how quickly your body digests different kinds of carbohydrates. The GI index was invented by Dr. Thomas Wolever and Dr. David Jenkins at the University of Toronto to help people with type 1 diabetes manage their blood sugar.

The GI index works by ranking foods on a scale from 0 to 100. The faster that food item raises your blood glucose levels, the higher the GI number will be.

Why is it important to watch your blood glucose levels? Your body needs glucose in order to function every day! High glucose levels are a tell-tale sign that your body isn’t producing enough insulin, which can lead to diabetes. Insulin is key for ensuring that glucose can get into your muscle, fat, and liver cells. When left unchecked, high blood glucose levels can lead to a whole range of complications, including eye, kidney, or nerve damage.

High glycemic foods have a score of 70 or higher, and include white bread, baked potatoes, and doughnuts (really yummy comfort foods). Foods with a GI score of 55-69 are considered medium glycemic, and include bananas, pineapple, and certain kinds of ice cream. Low glycemic foods have a GI of less than 55, and examples include skim milk, kidney beans, and raw carrots.

Fruits and vegetables are both necessary for a well-rounded diet. Vegetables tend to have low GI values, and should feature prominently in your diet! Great GI conscious vegetables to include in your grocery planning include carrots, green peas, yams, parsnips, and kale!

Fruits generally have higher GIs than vegetables, but they also are high in fiber which helps slow down digestion. Eating fruit can help with appetite control, delay hunger cues, and help with weight management. Low GI fruits include apples, prunes, grapefruits, pears, and oranges.

Don’t confuse the glycemic index with the glycemic load! Glycemic load looks at the quantity and quality of carbohydrates in foods, with the ultimate goal of comparing blood glucose values.

GL can be calculated by multiplying the glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate per potion and dividing by 100. But don’t put too much weight on the glycemic load! While it’s very helpful for scientific research, the glycemic index is more helpful for the average person.


Why should I follow a GI diet?

You might want to follow a GI diet if you’d like help with the following:

  • Wanting to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
  • Planning and eating healthier meals
  • Maintaining blood sugar levels as part of a diabetes treatment plan

But, as every diet does, the glycemic value does have some limitations. Single food items can impact blood sugar differently than combinations of foods (like 99% of all meals). The glycemic index also doesn’t consider all variables that can impact blood sugar, like how food is prepared or how much you eat. It only contains foods that contain carbohydrates (ignoring most meat and seafood, for example), and doesn’t rank foods based on nutrient content. Foods with a low GI ranking may be high in calories, sugar, or saturated fat.


Does the GI value ever change?

Absolutely! Fat, fiber, and acid (like lemon juice or vinegar) lower the glycemic index. And the longer you cook starches, like pasta, the higher their glycemic index will be. If you want to enjoy a high-glycemic index food like a baked potato, combine with a lower GI food like salsa, or a kale salad, to bring down the meal’s overall GI score.


Wait, kale? Why is kale a great GI food?

Kale is trendy for a reason, it is the king of super healthy greens!

Kale is the ultimate multi-tasker for your overall health.  It provides more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamins A and K. Kale also contains chemicals called glucosinolates, which help neutralize cancer-causing substances. Kale is also a good source of potassium, and has even been shown to help manage blood pressure!

Kale is a low-calorie food; rich in vitamins and minerals like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, lutein (commonly referred to as “the eye vitamin”), and important antioxidants like beta carotene (which is converted to vitamin A), zeaxanthin (helps your vision), and manganese (which helps bone health). Studies have shown that diets rich in lutein and beta carotene may help support eye health, and people who have diabetes may be more susceptible to certain eye conditions).

Kale is a member of the cruciferous (that’s a good one for Scrabble!) vegetable family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, Brussels sprouts, collards, watercress, and radishes. These vegetables are also rich in vitamins A, C, and K; and phytonutrients which may help to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer. Adults should aim for at least 2 ½ cups of these vegetables per day.

There are 4 main types of kale: curly, lacinto, redbor, and Russian (Siberian). Curly kale is definitely the most common, but each variety is appealing to the eye and stomach!


Kale and Oxidative Stress

Kale is also great at relieving oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals (molecules with oxygen and an uneven number of electrons) and antioxidants (molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable) in your body.

Under oxidative stress, free radicals can begin damaging fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body. This damage can lead to a vast number of diseases over time, including: diabetes, atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels), inflammatory conditions, high blood pressure/hypertension, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Oxidative stress can also contribute to aging!

Free radicals are naturally produced in your body through exercise or inflammation. This is completely normal! You are also exposed to free radicals in the environment, through sources like: ozone, certain pesticides and cleaners, cigarette smoke, radiation, and pollution. Free radical production is also influenced by consuming too much sugar, fat, or alcohol.


Kale and Weight Loss

Kale is an incredibly nutrient-dense vegetable, and can be a great component of any healthy lifestyle. Instead of potato chips or other fried snacks, try kale chips baked with garlic. Kale is also a great addition to many soups, stews, or sauces to make them more filling, while keeping the calorie count low. Did you know that kale contains tons of dietary fiber--about 10% of the average daily value?


How can I eat kale?

I get it, kale is good for me.  But it taste's, you know, good for me.

Kale’s unique taste and texture surprises even the most seasoned food veterans. But, kale makes a delicious backdrop in many recipes; so don’t worry if you’re a little bit intimidated by raw kale.

Many of kale’s top health-promoting compounds are even more effective when combined with other food. Kale goes great paired with healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, or Parmesan cheese to make carotenoids--which help deactivate free radicals!

Cooked kale, in particular, has been misunderstood for many years! For better-cooked kale, remember to use plenty of seasonings (garlic, for example, has lots of health benefits!) or try sauteing with plenty of olive oil.  

A leafy green salad can be taken to new heights by adding kale (make sure to remove the stem!) and a lemon based dressing, like this one from The Garlic Diaries. Kale chips are an easy snack to bring on road trips or to work, and are still packed with great health benefits. You can even add kale to smoothies! I’m partial to our Mountain Beef Stew or our BBQ Beef bars.

 mountain beef stew in the wilderness


But I thought Mountain Beef Stew had sweet potatoes?!

If you’re a longtime Mountain Beef Stew fan, welcome to the club! And also, you might have noticed that this meal used to include sweet potatoes, but now includes kale. With our Paleo Meals to Go, we’re focused on jam-packing as many nutrients as possible. Adding kale allows us to accomplish this goal! This change also helps lower the sodium for others who are salt-conscious.

Choosing a Healthy Meat Snack

Choosing a Healthy Meat Snack-Wild Zora

You probably still remember where you were when the World Health Organization announced that eating processed meats increases the risk of colorectal cancer. The announcement that likened bacon consumption to smoking in terms of cancer risk caused mild panic among carnivorous Americans.

As you know, we at Wild Zora make meat snacks.  Should you be worried about eating them?  

Here are four things you need to know:

1. Processed Meat

The WHO defines processed meat as "meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation.  Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but processed meats may also contain other red meats, poultry, offal, or meat by-products such as blood.  Examples of processed meat include hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef, and biltong or beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces."

How are Wild Zora bars different?

The big difference here is that some companies “bake” or “cook” their meat protein-based products at high heat in order to dehydrate them more quickly, which then causes the formation of the compounds that are suspected to cause cancer.  The worst offenders would be grilling, frying, and broiling, but baking too, if it causes a browning action, does the same.  At Wild Zora, we DO NOT do any of these things. We use a more time-consuming (and to be honest, more expensive) low-heat slow-dehydration method which does not cause any browning at all, and so formation of these dangerous compounds is avoided.  

Summary: Look for meat snacks that have been dehydrated slowly, at lower temperatures.

2. What chemicals are found in processed meat?

In the previous section, we mentioned harmful chemicals that develop during high-heat processing.  The main suspects include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic aromatic amines.  In laboratory tests, they were shown to alter the DNA and increase the risk of cancer development. This doesn't mean that they wreak the same havoc when they actually enter your body but because DNA mutation is irreversible, it's a good idea to limit your exposure to these chemicals.  Because Wild Zora bars are NEVER processed in high heat, they don't contain any of these chemicals.
Other chemicals commonly found in processed meats include MSG, nitrites, and nitrates. Let's take a closer look at them:
You are probably familiar with this flavor enhancer.  It is still deemed safe to use despite growing anecdotal evidence linking MSG to a host of health problems.  Why is that?  The scientific evidence is inconclusive, so far.  Lab studies on rats showed no negative effects of MSG.  There are no large scale human studies, only case studies and anecdotal evidence.  Although MSG is deemed as "safe" the growing number of individuals who report health problems after ingesting MSG led us to create and MSG-free meat snack
Nitrates and Nitrites
Nitrates occur naturally in meat and vegetables.  Our digestion system or other chemical processes break them down into nitrites.  Nitrites then can form either nitric acid, which can be beneficial in small doses or a nitrosamine, which can be harmful and potentially support cancerous growth.  Nitrosamine needs high temperatures to develop.  So again, when meats
are processed at high temperatures and contain added nitric acid or nitrites, they are likely to raise your cancer risk. To stay safe, look for meat snacks with no added nitrites or nitrates, like Wild Zora bars.
Summary: Although we need more research, we already strongly suspect that MSG and added nitrates and nitrites in processed meats are harmful to your health.  Read labels carefully and avoid meat snacks that contain MSG, nitric acid, nitrites, or nitrates.

3. Cancer Prevention

Scientists agree that eating diets rich in fiber that include a variety of fruit and vegetables can lower your risk of colon cancer.  Maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity, and lowering your alcohol intake can also help your odds. 

Not only are the Wild Zora bars processed in a safe way and contain no potentially harmful additives, they also contain about vegetables and fruit, giving your body added nutritional benefit.

Summary: Look for meat snacks that also contain fruits and vegetables.


4.  Some Meats Are Healthier Than Others

The overwhelming majority of processed meat start with the cheapest ingredients, which means commercially produced meat.  At Wild Zora, we only use 100% grass-fed meats, or in the case of turkey and pork, meats that come from naturally raised animals.  Commercially produced meat is typically full of antibiotics and growth hormones.  That type of meat doesn't meet our standards and we never use it. 

We found that grass-fed meat tastes better and is better for you.  If you are worried about colon cancer, you should definitely make sure you eat beef and lamb that is 100% grass-fed.  Grass-fed meat has significantly higher levels of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), which has been linked to lowering the cancer risk, particularly in the colon area.

Summary: Choose meat snacks made with naturally raised meat, 100% grass-fed, with no antibiotics or growth hormones, like the meat used in Wild Zora bars.


Ready to try a healthy meat snack?  We have seven delightful flavors - pick a favorite or try them all!



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Why Grass-Fed Beef?

Why Grass-Fed Beef?

Good food starts with good ingredients.  That's exactly what you get whenever you take a bite of a Wild Zora bar.



Wonderful taste and nutritional value are important to us, but we go even further.  The ingredients we use are grown and raised with minimal environmental impact. That's why we make our bars with organic fruits and veggies.  Our meats are locally sourced, to avoid the carbon footprint of international transportation.

Is your beef organic?

People often ask whether we use organic meats.  The answer is shocking to some: No.  We use animals from local farmers, which means we know how the animals are treated and what they eat.  Why not just go with organic?  Organic fruits and vegetables are pretty straightforward: you know they were grown naturally, without pesticides or other harmful chemicals.  Meat production is a bit more complicated.  Let's take a closer look at beef, for example.  The organic label doesn't mean that the animals are grass-fed or raised on a pasture.  For example, they can be raised in a feedlot, standing in their own you-know-what, eating "organic" grains (and getting the same metabolic diseases that we humans get when we eat too much grain!).  So because the "organic" label didn't meet our standards for beef quality, we decided to visit local farmers and find meat that comes from pasture-raised, grass-fed, grass-finished, well tended and healthy animals.

The Label Confusion

"Organic" label is not the only one that can be misleading. When you shop for beef, you will notice there is grass-fed, grass-finished, natural, 100% grass-fed... what does it mean?

Beef Labels

Definitions vary, but unless the grass-fed beef is AGA certified, you can't be sure that the animals were raised solely on grass.  USDA grass-fed certificate is based on written description of farming practices submitted by the farmer; the USDA does not visit the farms!  To muddy the waters even further, farmers can choose to use the grass-fed label (as long as it doesn't say "certified") even when their cattle is grain-finished.
All US cattle start their life grazing on a pasture. However, the majority of them get "finished" with grain on a feedlot.  With grain, they put on weight (and, unfortunately often get sick) quickly, resulting in a lower price of meat.  But that meat can still be sold as grass-fed at a higher price point!  What this means for you: if you want to eat truly 100% grass-fed beef, look for 100% grass-fed/grass-finished beef, like the kind used in Wild Zora beef bars

What's the problem with grain-fed beef?

 Grass-fed vs Grain-fed Beef

It's not healthy for the animals
Cows are meant to eat grass. Eating grains is hard on their digestive system. They are more likely to get sick and require antibiotics.  Also, the delivery of the feed matters.  Grain-fed cattle stand in a feedlot instead of walking and grazing on a pasture.  It is natural for them to walk and to be able to lie down.  The crowded feedlots don't allow for that and the animals are often uncomfortable and stressed.  At Wild Zora, we like using meat from farmers we know:  We know they treat their animals with respect and care.  Clearly, a feedlot is not a humane environment for cattle, even if the grain they eat is organic.
It's not healthy for you
Commercially produced grain-fed beef is likely to contain antibiotics and growth hormones.  And even if you choose meat labeled as "no antibiotics", you are still missing out: Grain-fed beef is significantly lower in Omega-3 acids and vitamins A and E.  Eating 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef will provide your body with CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, which is a powerful nutrient. CLA is thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

How about environmental impact?

You might have heard that grass-fed cattle produce more methane, which is a greenhouse gas.  Articles pushing this outdated claim tend to overlook all the benefits.

Grass-fed Beef

Carbon dioxide reduction
Well managed pastures contain a variety of green plants which use the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere far better than farmed grain fields. 
Less dependency on fossil fuels
Because animals pick their own food, farmers need to use less gas-powered machinery and electricity than when they harvest, process and deliver the grain. The animal waste is dispersed on the pasture, so there is no need to use machinery to move it.
Unlike a grain field, a pasture is a diverse ecosystem with native plants.  Grazing cattle also provide natural fertilizer, encouraging a healthy plant growth and improving the soil quality.



Did we mention that grass-fed beef also tastes better? To see for yourself, try some today!


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Health Benefits of Rosemary

Health Benefits of Rosemary

Rosemary adds its woodsy, crisp flavor to lots of popular dishes.  Today, we use rosemary mostly as a seasoning, but you can take full advantage of its health benefits by using it in a variety of ways. You can inhale its scent, clean with it or eat it.  If you need a quick rosemary snack, grab one of our Mediterranean Lamb bars.  The new Apple Pork Wild Zora bar combines rosemary with the familiar notes of parsley, sage, and thyme.

Throughout history, rosemary was prized for its many qualities, beyond culinary use.  Ancient Greeks and Romans believed rosemary improved memory; when preparing for exams, students wore rosemary wreaths on their heads.

In Medieval and Renaissance times, rosemary was used to ward off plague and as a deodorizer.  It was still believed to help memory and later it became the symbol of remembrance and faithfulness.  As such, it was often used at both weddings and funerals.

Here are three easy ways rosemary can boost your health:


 #1. Plant it for mental clarity

Wearing a rosemary wreath while studying might seem silly, but rosemary stimulates brain activity.  If you struggle with "foggy brain" every afternoon, try diffusing rosemary essential oil or rub a fresh rosemary sprig between your hands and inhale deeply.

Potted Rosemary

Rosemary is easy to grow in pots, so try keeping a small plant close to your work space.  You can grow it outside, too. In warm climates, rosemary is a perennial and will grow into a nice shrub.  If you live in an area with cold winters, you will have to replant your rosemary every year, or you might keep it in a large planter that can be moved indoors during the cold months.


#2 Spray it to kill germs

The medieval beliefs that rosemary will ward off plague were not without merit.  Rosemary has strong antimicrobial properties.  If you like to clean your home without toxic chemicals, rosemary will be your best friend.  By killing bacteria, it neutralizes odors and leaves your home smelling fresh and clean.  Use fresh rosemary, lemon and vinegar to make a simple all-purpose cleaner.

DIY Lemon Rosemary cleaner

 Photo by Mick Telkamp


#3 Eat it for your digestive health

 It's not a coincidence that rosemary is often paired with pork or  lamb.  It tastes wonderful, but more importantly, rosemary helps you digest those meats.  Because it stimulates the bile flow, rosemary is crucial to digestion of fatty foods.  Like other herbs in the mint family, it helps with indigestion, excessive bloating, and stomach cramps.

When cooking with rosemary, try to use it fresh.  Simply strip the leaves off the woody stem (if the stem is soft, you can skip this step), and give them a rough chop before adding them to your dish. You can add whole sprigs to stews, soups and sauces, but be aware that the leaves will fall off and you might need to strain them.  If you use dried rosemary, crush it well, because the dry leaves stay hard and are not pleasant to eat.

Try this recipe:


Not in the mood for a large meal?  On the go?  Traveling?  Get the wonderful benefits of rosemary from a healthy snack, like Wild Zora Mediterranean Lamb Bar.  Don't forget about the new Apple Pork bar!  It combines pork with rosemary, parsley, sage and thyme for your taste buds and your digestive health.

How do you like to use rosemary? Let us know in comments!



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Love Your Body Challenge

Love Your Body Challenge

We live in a culture that promotes perfection. Perfection portrayed by a lean, well toned body. The multi-billion $$ weight loss industry is thriving. There are so many new and improved diets and challenges that claim to lead to a new and better you. And yet, eating disorders and obesity are epidemic. We know something isn’t right.

This Valentine's Day, we present you with a new 30-day challenge. Or a 3-day challenge. Or a new lifestyle. You decide. We challenge you to simply love your body. Stop counting calories, points and steps.


Could LOVE be the solution?

Who do you love? Your significant other. Your family, your friends, your pets. Thy neighbor. But do you love yourself? Do you love your body?



Loving your body is easy. Take a deep breath and let’s get started:


Your words are powerful. Use them  wisely.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. We’ve heard the adage so many times, it became a cliche. Still, most of us apply it only to people we love. How do you talk about your body? So often, people talk about what they hate about their bodies. Be mindful of that. Talk about your body as if it were your dear friend. Embrace it, flaws and all, the same way  you embrace the people you love.


Listen to your body.

You listen to your best friend. Treat your body the same way. Pay attention. How do you feel  after eating sugary treats? How do you feel after taking a walk? You will start making healthier choices if you follow your body’s lead.

If you feel hungry, eat. Eat slowly and pay attention to tastes and textures.

When you feel tired, rest. We know that seems like a luxury not always available. But even closing your eyes for a moment and taking a few deep breaths can make a difference.


Treat yourself.

Your amazing body deserves only the best fuel. Eat well, but instead of trying to ban yourself from unhealthy foods (or shaming yourself after you do eat them), just try to think about treating yourself to healthy ones. Stay away from ingredients you cannot pronounce. The most important ingredient, however, is your mindset. Drop the guilt and the “I should” attitude (don't "should" yourself). Instead, think about your new friend, your body.

The simplest way to start eating well is to choose real food. You don’t have to start munching on kale while dreaming of donuts. But what if you treated yourself to a handful of berries instead of candy? Read labels. Think about what you eat. Is this the food you would want to give to a dear friend?

Eating real food is simple. People are often intimidated by cooking or feel pressed for time. But you can find many easy recipes or quick snacks. Eat as much as you need. Don’t count calories or points. Just let your body enjoy good and wholesome food.



If the idea of weight lifting or a Zumba class doesn’t excite you, don’t despair. We often feel like we need to use exercise as a punishment for our dietary sins. Here is your challenge: Celebrate your body’s amazing ability to move! Stretch, jump, and dance. It’s a party honoring your body!

Go ahead. Love your body. It will love you back.



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