Category Archives: Key Ingredients

26Jul

One may say I’m a bit crazy about my love of coconut oil, but over the years I have seen such awesome results from glowing skin, to creamy beverages to tasty vegetables. It wouldn’t be right if I held onto this beauty, baking and bad-*ss fat burning ingredient all to myself, so I’ve decided to just pick my personal top 7 uses for coconut oil and share them with you! If you poke around the internet you will find upwards of 80+ ways to use this oil.  My list below encompasses daily uses in the Davenport Home.  I love that his oil has gone mainstream in the last five years or so.coconut

Isn’t Saturated fat BAD for me?

Yes, coconut oil is considered a saturated fat, which we know is most commonly found in animal products such as red meat, poultry, pork and full fat dairy.  We know the dangers of eating high amounts of saturated fats – increasing your risk of heart disease.  But coconut oil is different.  This particular type of saturated fat is in the form of medium-chain fatty acids versus the long-chain fatty acids found in animal products and these medium chains actually boost your health when taken daily.  
 
Saturated fats in coconut oil have anti-bacterial properties that help control parasites and fungi that cause indigestion and other digestion related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. The fat in coconut oil also aids in the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, making you healthier all around.  Coconut oil has been proven to stimulate your metabolism, improve thyroid function, and escalate energy levels, all of which help decrease your unwanted fat, help control cravings while increasing muscle.

Pick one new use and go wild this week!

A little bit goes a long way – topically and orally – so go ahead and keep a container of coconut oil in your kitchen and one in your bathroom and have fun (separate containers friends, don’t want any cross contamination)!

Where & how to buy?

Because I go through this magical ingredient by the case, I like to buy in bulk.  Costco, Homegoods even TJ Max sells coconut oil at a great price!  Always go with organic unrefined to reap all the nutritional benefits while sparing you of the toxins.  While coconut oil is solid at room temperature it melts around 78°F, so you’ll notice it turn to liquid when it hits your skin or if it’s particularly warm where you store it.

1. Lather up your babies!

Gone are the days of buying Johnson & Johnson lotion for my girls, no offense J&J, I loved working for you all those years, but you can’t get more natural than organic coconut oil! It’s full of vitamin E, leaves your skin silky smooth, and gives you that glow (and who doesn’t love the smell of suntan lotion? It’s one of the most powerful mood lifters for me).  And, I never worry about it getting in my babe’s mouth – go ahead and eat up, Ruby! Since I brought her home from the hospital I’ve applied coconut oil head to toe and she never has had any cradle cap or dry skin!

2.  A little massage?

I love to mix a palm size dollop with a drop or two of Young Living’s essential oils (lemon, lavender, Thieves) and rub my neck, my feet and my back for soothing, uplifting and antimicrobial properties.  Coconut oil is an amazing carrier oil.

3.  Bake baby bake!

Sub for butter, margarine and vegetable oil. This is my go-to oil for baked goods.   You may taste a slight difference, but it’s a delicious variation of your usual suspects.  If you are substituting coconut oil in a recipe just go with a one-to-one swap. I like to melt the oil for more precise measurement prior to adding to recipes.

4. Use it as hair serum/bye bye fly-aways!

A little goes a long way! I’ll rub a little between my hands and apply it to my curls or the bottom of my hair to minimize the frizz.

5. Sautee your veggies with it!

Because of its high smoke point, coconut oil is fantastic for sautéing, roasting and/or baking vegetables.  Do I use it for exclusively? No, I still love a little variation (butter, olive oil, ghee) but I personally think it enhances the flavor of my asparagus, carrots, Brussels sprouts and baby greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard).

6. Swirl half a teaspoon into your morning Joe!

It’s delicious.  Really.  I’ll still add a drop of unsweetened almond milk to my coffee, but gone are days of adding refined sugar, fat free, sugar-free, artificial sweeteners into my morning cup – nothing good comes from those chemicals!  Once you get beyond the sight of the oil droplets floating, you will have a hard time parting with this combination.

7.   Make Chocolate!

Read the ingredient list of a Hershey’s bar (and yes, I still use them to make S’mores from time to time) but the very first ingredient on the list is sugar followed by milk, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR, emulsifier, artificial flavor… a few items in there I’m pretty sure aren’t “food”.  To make chocolate, mix 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil + 1/3 cup raw cacao powder + 2 Tbs. pure maple syrup and a dash of sea salt.  OMG YUM! Drizzle over your favorite nuts, pretzels or fruit and refrigerate for 20 minutes!

Let me know which of these appeals to you most and have fun!!! Being healthy should not be a chore rather a fun way to bring loved ones together!

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09Jan

How to Decode Your Honey…

As a holistic health coach I always talk to clients about where they believe the source of their stress to be, as stress in their lives affects bodily systems and physical health more than they realize.  And in many instances, for all of us, it’s our loved ones who are driving up our cortisol and adrenaline levels and putting a damper on our weight loss goals!  But, I’m by no means a love expert, so this post is not referring to decoding and deconstructing the actions, behaviors, idiosyncrasies and or love language of your man, this post is about the HONEY on your grocer’s shelves (or bee-keeper’s back yard)…:)

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I always suggest that clients become cozy with honey.  We are all in need of some sweetness in our lives and this one for me tops the charts with all the options out there.  The list of naturally derived sweeteners and artificial sweeteners (the enemy to any natural food lover) is longer than I can go into right now.  But my opinion and my personal preferences is to always keep a jar of RAW, ORGANIC HONEY on hand.  

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Why?  First, it’s so sweet and creamy and has an earthy natural taste that just makes me happy! Seriously.  It sounds corny, but it’s true.  I have really come to love and look forward to my rendezvous throughout the day with my honey.

Second, it’s really, actually good for you! Has amazing health benefits!  Raw (uncooked/unheated), unprocessed, unfiltered, organic (pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer free) honey, contains 27 minerals, 22 amino acids and 5,000 live enzymes.  Because it’s a strong antioxidant and antimicrobial It keeps you healthy by fighting disease and boosting the digestive system.

Third, even the bible tells us to eat honey!  Proverbs 24:14 “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste.”  :)

One daily spoonful in your tea or spread on your rice cakes or organic whole grain toast is all that is needed to reap these benefits!   And in terms of antioxidants, the darker the better when it comes to selecting your honey.  How to decode: if the honey says it’s organic – great! You’re steering clear from all those toxic chemicals = cancer causing agents found in conventionally farmed products.  And when I bake, which I do quite a bit, experimenting with healthy hearty sweet treats and breakfast muffins for the family, I will use certified organic honey (not necessarily raw as the honey will be heated in the oven, anyway)!   But there is always a jar of 100% certified RAW organic honey next to my stack of rice cakes for those are eaten as is.  Processed honey is heated, robbing it of many of its natural nutrients. 

As with anything in life, and in your diet – all in moderation.  Honey is still sugar and so we don’t want to be dousing everything we eat or drink with this sweetener, but its affects on the body and mind are so much more beneficial than refined sugar which leaves us with not much more than a spike in our blood sugar followed by the crash and white sugar actually has collateral damages.  Because refined sugars are void of vitamins and minerals, the body must utilize its store of valuable nutrients to digest refined sugar!  This process adds to the crash we feel and it depletes the supply of minerals essential to break down other foods we eat, like cholesterol!

Real food, raw food is so amazing and when you allow your body to experience these foods (combination of raw and cooked in my opinion is the best) you will begin to feel lighter, have consistent energy, increase your immunity and health.  Your hair, skin, smile will all be brighter.

Two of my favorite winter rituals using RAW honey:

1 or 2 organic brown rice cakes with raw almond butter and a smearing of RAW HONEY.

1/2 cup (cooked) steel cut organic oats with 1 tsp RAW HONEY, 1/2 tsp coconut oil, cinnamon, chopped apples, bananas or berries, ground flax seed, unsweetened original almond milk.

So give it a go and let me know your thoughts!

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06Jan

Overfed and Starving – Recipe Included

CCCarotCookiesA number of clients have shared with me that one of their biggest challenges is keeping enough food in the fridge for their growing teenage boys.  ”How in the world can he still be hungry when he can out-eat all of us?! I can’t keep enough food on hand for him!”

This is actually not that atypical a situation.  Teenagers require a great amount of energy (calories) as they are growing at a ridiculous rate on top of all the exercise that comes along with being a football, basketball and/or lacrosse player.  But I tend to think the issue more often than we realize is the type of food they are eating.

Again, this isn’t always the case, but in many instances (for kids and adults), the issue isn’t that they need MORE food, it’s that they need more complex foods.   It’s not your fault moms and dads…blame it on the food industry tricking you into thinking foods are healthy (95% of all marketing and advertisement dollars are spent on processed, packaged, boxed, refined, nutrient poor food, so it’s really no wonder most Americans are living off these foods and are hungry all the time!  When was the last time you saw a commercial for lentils or sliced apples with almond butter?!)   For some unlucky kids, they may develop diabetes and/or obesity from eating too many of these foods, clear indications that change is necessary.  But for others, well, they appear to be completely healthy as they are thin and function “well enough” so the impetus to change is absent.

Both children, despite their weight differences, may be equally malnourished   Yup!  You heard that correctly, your child may eat 10-15 times a day and still be malnourished!  You see it’s less about the AMOUNT of food or the NUMBER of calories they consume which leads to satiety and more about the NUTRITION and TYPE of carbohydrates that are being ingested at each meal.  When we don’t feed our body what it needs to thrive, it will send smoke signals by way of cravings, hunger pangs, headaches, etc.

And here’s the breakdown

Simple Carbohydrates/nutrient poor foods (simple chains of glucose bound together by nothing substantial to feed our cells for the long-term):

Processed cereals, muffins, most sliced breads, bagels, most granola bars, waffles, breakfast sandwiches, crackers, pretzels, cookies, chips, candy.

Complex Carbohydrates/Nutrient Rich foods (long chains of glucose bound by fiber, nutrients, vitamins, which slow the digestive process and deposit “good stuff” into the cells the body can use for energy at a later time):

Oatmeal, oats (steel-cut & rolled), real whole grain bread (Ezekiel, for example), brown & wild Rice, barley, faro, couscous, vegetables.

The foods that are made readily available to us Americans (at drive-thus, in frozen boxes, packaged goods) are mostly in that “simple carb” list.  How angry does that make you!?  These foods provide energy for the cells for the short term, but cells need minerals, vitamins and enzymes to do their jobs properly for the long term (physically, mentally and emotionally).

And so, the never-ending phenomenon of craving food all day long is the body’s way of saying “I’m STARVING FOR NUTRITION.”

My advice is to keep it simple.  Make substitutions or additions before you begin taking away.   And don’t give up just because your new recipe wasn’t a success the first time around.  Getting a kid to change his eating habits is hard work, but it’s worth the effort in the long run.  Our taste buds are adaptable.  Today they may be accustomed to artificial flavors, processed foods and sugar, and so whole natural foods will most likely taste bland at first.  It takes kids and adults 3 – 5 times of trying a food before they really begin to enjoy eating it! So don’t give up parents!!! You’re doing the right thing just by reading this post…

Starting small is the way to make lasting changes.  Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourselves… add in some complex carbohydrates and notice the change you see in the satisfaction your kids feel.

Here is a “healthy cookie” I made this week using whole grains, vegetables and natural sweeteners.  Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Chocolate Chip & Carrot Cookies

Makes 24 -30 cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ c. Carrots (about 4 whole), shredded
  • 3 Bananas (ensure they’re ripe!)
  • 2 c. Rolled oats
  • 4 Tbsp Natural peanut butter
  • ½ c. Unsweetened apple sauce
  • ½ Tbsp Pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c. Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ c. Chocolate chips (go really healthy and break up a bar of dark chocolate with 70% cacao)
  • 1 Tbsp. Honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Chia seeds and/or ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 and grease a cookie sheet  (butter, coconut oil, whatever your choice)
  • In a large bowl mash bananas until they create a creamy paste.  Add peanut butter and stir.  Add applesauce and carrots and mix.    Add all remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.
  • Use a scooper to create round cookies, drop on a baking sheet and slightly flatten with the back of your scooper.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes and enjoy!

AND! They’re easy enough to have your kids help with the baking!!  A great way to get your kids interested in food is to have them join you in the kitchen :) photo

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15Oct

CROWDING OUT is the new IN !

Four workshops in 8 days all focusing on building the “Healthy Lunchbox.”  What a fantastic opportunity it has been for me to reach out to the community (both in Hoboken and in Fairfield, NJ) to talk to expectant parents and new parents about the importance of a nutritious diet.  How do I have the energy to do this with a rambunctious 2.8 year old and a 4 week old at home?  First, pure luck!  In that I was born with an insatiable hunger to help others.  Second, my diet, one rich in phytonutrients (fruits and veggies), lots of healthy fats, whole grains, plant based proteins and essentially zero processed or fried foods.   And third, a tremendous amount of support from my husband, my parents, my sisters and my neighbors (shout out to Dee Bernstein for entertaining Maya while I cook, do the laundry, write blogs and shower for the week!)

So let’s dive right in.

Crowding out. Yup!  Let’s not focus (today) on what you should REMOVE from your diet; rather, let’s focus on what you should add into your diet (and those of your kids).    I’m going to try to make this easy.  Give you stats that will creep back up on you when shopping, cooking and packing those lunch boxes.

65, 35, 5.  These numbers are representative of the breakdown of the average American diet.  65% of the all the calories we take in come from refined grains & sweets (cereal, bread, bagels, pasta, crackers, granola bars, pretzels, chips, cookies, cakes, protein bars), 35% comes from animal protein (ham, bacon, cheese, meat, chicken, beef), 5% comes from fruits/vegetables…  Okay, now remember these numbers 2, 11, 100.

 

NDL

When looking at the Nutrient Density Line (thank you Joel Fuhrman, MD for creating this visual for us) you can see that the MAJORITY of our diet rests on the BOTTOM of the nutrient density line!  In other words, 65% of what we eat throughout the day has a value of “0” or “2” if we’re being generous on how nutritious it actually is.   And what provides our cells with the greatest amount of energy, immunity, strength, endurance, etc, (leafy greens, green veggies, non-starchy veggies) is only eaten 5% of the time!!  The problem?  Food absolutely dictates how we function in society – physically, emotionally and mentally.  So is it any wonder we live on coffee (you know who you are) to get us through the day or that at 3pm without fail, that bar of chocolate is calling our name? Or that 25% of our children take Rx regularly?   Or that this may be the first generation of children to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents (David Katz.  MD.) because of the rise of diabetes and obesity.

  • Food will give us lasting energy or create highs and lows
  • Food will keep our mood stable or it will wreak havoc on our emotional and mental state
  • Food will keep our heads clear or create headaches and withdrawl
  • Food will stave off the disease that lingers deep in our cells or will lead to the expression of symptoms that become chronic disease

And it’s not for lack of caring that we as parents are caught up in this conundrum.  Rather, or at least I believe, it stems from our lack of time, lack of patience, lack of sleep and our kids’ lack of desire to eat the foods we’ve slaved over preparing for them!  I mean, what kid would naturally chose to eat a kale and quinoa salad over a creamy delicious mac and cheese lunch or a salty, greasy hot dog for dinner over a tofu and arugula salad?   And that’s where we come in as parents whose job it is to at least try. Try and try again to offer more variety, more healthy, more whole foods.  And where do I suggest we start? Not in yanking their mac and cheese, or hot dogs for dinner rather by adding in new foods and offering choices for our kids.  It’s not negotiable in other words.  Would they rather have an apple or banana with their breakfast?  Would they rather the sliced cucumbers or the cherry tomatoes before they eat their chicken fingers? Would they rather the turkey meatballs (with hidden zucchini and carrots) or the lentil and barley soup for dinner?  Eventually, they’ll pick one of the two options you give them.

  • Give them choices (between healthy option #1 and healthy option #2)
  • Give them more veggies and fruits at every meal or at every snack
  • Experiment with a new WHOLE grain every week (brown or wild rice, barley, bulgar, couscous, spelt, oats, polenta, quinoa)
  • SNEAK a veggie or two into your typical burger, meatball, mac&cheese or sandwich
  • Find a friend (or a health coach – hint, hint) to lean on for support

Eat this way yourselves before expecting to see a change in them – we need to model behavior first and become convinced ourselves that food actually does change the way we feel.  We have to trust at first that food will fuel us or will act as a toxin, and then use our experience to drive our behavior.  I guarantee you, if you stick to this plan, you will see and feel a difference in yourselves and in your children.

Below are some of the creative ways I used whole foods this week:  whole grains, real fruit, natural sweeteners, hidden veggies.

Apple Cinnamon Drops & Peach-Coconut Rounds in place of fruit rollups or fruit snacks!

CinAppDrops

Veggie Mac & Cheese (sneaking in cauliflower & butternut squash) vs. Kraft Mac & Cheese.

VegMac&Cz

If you’d like to learn how to make recipes like this one, or you’re ready for a change in your own self, reach out @ chrissydavenportcoach@gmail.com

It’s never too late to Revitalize & Nourish YOU!

 

 

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19Apr

My Top 11 Snacks for Kids: Lunch Box’ing 101

So, I hear it over and over again from friends.. well, I hear two things, “I can’t get my kids to eat ANYTHING healthy” and “I run out of ideas and don’t know WHAT to pack for them in their lunch boxes!”  I hear ya!  Wouldn’t it be great if goldfish and fruit snacks were “healthy”? Sure, they’re better choices than fries and candy, but are they really providing our kids with the nutrients they need? sorry, nope!

Here’s a few ways I sneak veggies (fiber, nutrients, vitamins, color!) into their lunch boxes.

1.  ”Green” Apple Sauce:  apple sauce+baby spinach+cinnamon:  sometimes I’ll peel and steam my own apples OR I’ll use unsweetened organic apple sauce and put in my Nutri-bullet with a handful of baby spinach, sprinkle with cinnamon, and I assure you, NO ONE will taste the spinach!  I bought these reusable food pouches off diapers.com and they’re great (and they hide the color “green” pretty well :)

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2.  Persion Cucumbers + Hummus:  these little guys are the best! They’re very crunchy, have little moisture/seeds, so you can peel, chop, and send to school and they won’t get mushy and messy like the regular cucs we’re used to eating.  I’ll either make my own hummus http://www.chrissydavenport.com/hummus.html or I’ll cheat and use store-bought. I like to pair veggies & fruit with some type of protein and/or healthy fat which provides more energy and lasting satiety than the veggie/fruit alone.IMG_7935

3. Orange slices + Cheese:  cut em’ up and pair with cheese. I like “Nature’s Best White Sharp Cheddar” or I’ll buy the organic string cheeses for Maya.  

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4.  Nutty Fruit Mixture:  If you’re kid has peanut allergies or isn’t able to bring any nuts to school, this may have to be adjusted (use just seeds, or skip the nuts all together) .  This is age-dependant, but Maya’s been eating this snack since she was 18 months or so.  I’ll throw in dry roasted, almonds, cashews, peanuts, jumbo raisins, apricots, goji berries and/or dried apples (I’ll cut the larger dried fruit pieces and cut the larger nuts in half)

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5. Banana Sammy:  Slice a banana in half, shmeer some nut-butter, and cut into pieces. Again, if there are nut-allergies in school, try it with some Sunflower Seed Butter – it’s delish!

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6. Pumpkin Muffins:   I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t LOVE the sweetness and gooeyness of these little suckers.  Best of all, there is NO refined sugar, and it’s mostly pumpkin! So it’s a great way to sneak in Vitamin A, antioxidants, beta carotene). If you’re going gluten free, substitute whole wheat flour for almond flour, recipe here (those little white specks are millet – a nice gluten free grain that gives the muffin a bit of “crunch”!  http://www.chrissydavenport.com/gooey_muffins.html

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7. Yogurt Parfait:  it’s a little fancy, I know, but I send Maya to school with a small container of Plain Organic Yogurt, drizzled with my chia seed jam and if it seems a bit bitter, I’ll add some honey.  It’s a healthier alternative to the “Go-Gert” and other sweetened yogurts which are loaded with extra sugars.  Tip: when choosing a yogurt, avoid fat-free, go organic with dairy, and look at the grams of sugar, shoot for less than 18g:  recipe for Chia Jam on this post:  http://blog.chrissydavenport.com/?cat=1

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8. Flax Chips or Black Bean Chips: a GREAT alternative to goldfish, tostitos, potato chips.    Trader Joes has some great brands.  Ingredients on the Black Bean/Quinoa include Stone ground white corn, sunflower oil, organic red quinoa, black beans, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, water, trace of lime… look at that! all ingredients that are pronounce-able! :) (aka-real food!)

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9.  Air Popped Pop Corn:  if you think it’s too time consuming to make you’re own, this batch took 2 minutes 30 seconds, an equal amount of time as the microwave popcorn bags (those little bags come with a host of controversial health issues, so trust me when I tell you when you pop your own, you’re doing your kids a favor).  Add a little olive oil, sea salt, and for some sweet & salty mixture, I’ll throw in dried fruit.  Yes, there’s a very good chance the corn you’re buying is GMO, so just try to look for organic or non-GMO corn kernels.

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10. Homemade Granola Bars:   Making these require ONE bowl and a mixer (or your hand).   I make a batch about every 3 weeks, individually wrap and freeze, take one out each night or morning and pack.  http://www.chrissydavenport.com/granola_bars.html

ApricotGoodnessGranolaBar 

11.  Raisin Bread with Strawberries:  why do I love “Food for Life” Ezekiel breads?  Because they’re truly made with WHOLE grains and nothing added that’s bad for your kids. Most breads are highly processed, have High Fructose Corn Syrup and stuff that’s not easily pronounced = non-food.  If you have a gluten sensitivity, Food for LIfe has a great variety of breads made with rice.  Ingredients include: organic sprouted wheat, raisins, barley, millet, lentils, soybeans, spelt, seat salt, cinnamon.. and THATS it! Yes, I keep it in the freezer because it does NOT include preservatives.  Note to self: the longer a foods shelf life, the shorter yours, my friends :) so it’s a GOOD thing to have to freeze your breads :)  I’ll defrost, smear some real butter and slice some fruit to go along side.

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COMMENTS:1
16Apr

PEANUT BUTTER BALLS and other nutty/seedy snacks!

It’s hard to find snacks that are nutritious, filling, satisfying and delish for the whole clan.. this is one of my family’s favorites… it’s so easy to make – requires no stove top, oven, broiler, microwave, nada… just gather, mix, roll and freeze (for best storage).  Peanut Butter Balls  OR for those with peanut allergies/sensitivities, I gave it a go with Sunflower Seed oil and they’re just as yummy.  I usually offer them to Maya (my two year old) after lunch/dinner as a little dessert, or as a mid-day snack to hold her over.  And just look how happy and sweet they make her :) ha!

IMG_7922  I like them pre-workout or just for something creamy, sweet and satisfying throughout the day.  They’re a bit hard to pack in lunch boxes because they really are best if eaten frozen…. but they’re a great snack to always have on hand.

Here’s how you make em’:

Mix the following ingredients in a mixing bowl with your hand or a spatula:

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1/2 cup Natural Peanut Butter  (you can use Skippy/Jiff etc, BUT those are loaded with extra sugar and sometimes hydrogenated oils – not good for you).  I like to get my nut-butters at Fairway, where we press our own.  I prefer them over store bought natural nut-butters because the oil doesn’t separate from the nuts making it hard to mix.

1/4 cup Ground Flax Seed (I usually buy whole, and use my Nutri-bullet to ground), I store all my nuts/seeds in the fridge.

1/2 – 3/4 cup quick cooking oats (if you’re trying to stay away from any gluten skip this ingredient and add shaved coconut or up the amount of Flax)

1 Tbsp honey (or agave) you can adjust the amount based on your sweet tooth, but this is a good amount to start with.

1/3 cup raisins you could use cacao nibs or chocolate chips -most healthy chocolate is dark chocolate with 70% cacao.

Mix everything together – it’s going to be gooey and a bit rough to blend.  Then use a spoon or scooper and form round balls in your hands.  Place on a paper plate, cover with foil and freeze for about an hour (or indefinitely).

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I will usually remove from the freezer once solid and throw in zip lock bags for storage.

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For my friends with peanut allergies, I used the following seed-butter in place of peanut.  They taste great!  This brand does include some cane syrup but hey, it was the most healthy of the options I could find :)

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My other favorite use of nut-butters is to smear on rice cakes – I know, most people think of cardboard when they think of rice cakes, but they’ve made some improvements over the years.  My two favorite brands:

IMG_7924 The ingredients: brown rice and sea salt.  Maya likes the Quaker because they’re softer and don’t crumble as easily, I prefer the Lundberg, they’re just really crunchy.

I literally have this either for breakfast each morning (or right when I wake, with a cup of tea or coffee) followed by something like eggs and fruit an hour or two later OR I’ll have one as dessert or a snack.

IMG_7925 Keep in mind you’re reading a post from someone who literally thinks the world of nuts and seeds, and basically anything natural and whole… this is my fridge.  I always have plenty of these on hand and refrigerate (or freeze large bags) for best results as the oils will go rancid if stored at room temp.  IMG_7929

Top shelf:  sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pine nuts, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, shaved almonds.  Bottom shelf: pecans, almonds, walnuts, cashews, ground flax seed and lastly a bar of organic dark chocolate 73% cacao (Trader Joe’s brand).

Enjoy, my friends!

 

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14Apr

Breakfast recipes to include CHIA SEED!!

Funny how prevalent the questions and discussions around Chia seed have been lately (on FB specifically).  I personally started buying/cooking with this fun little seed about 6 months ago and it should totally be a household staple for anyone interested in packing in the Omega 3′s and are perhaps a bit over Flax Seed.  I’ll keep this short and simple.

Chia seeds are completely tasteless and are packed Omega-3 fatty acids. They are the richest plant source of Omega-3s (the vital fats that protect against inflammation—such as arthritis—and heart disease). Chia seeds also help you feel fuller faster as they absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel.  You can buy them at most health food stores – Home Goods (my second home) sells big bags of organic chia seeds at half the cost.

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so let’s start with BREAKFAST ideas… in my humble opinion, it’s the key meal for most as it sets the tone for your hunger patterns, cognitive clarity and motivation for the rest of the day.  I feel confident saying that by either skipping breakfast, or by downing a plate of pancakes with Aunt Jemima’s you’ll be left feeling, well, ready for some more sleep in no time! So let’s start with something that’s uplifting and packed with nutrients that will assist you in a productive day.

Oatmeal: with Quaker Instant Oats (topped with Chia Jam), Creative Quinoa bowls (again, drizzle Chia Jam on top) OR add the jam to plain, organic low-fat yogurt (please skip NO-FAT yogurt), OR Chia jam to be used as delicious, sweet toping for any or all of your breakfast selections (pancakes/waffles/toast)

Chia1 chia2  chia4

Making the jam is SO easy.   I usually have a bag of frozen mixed berries in my freezer, and now with spring/summer approaching I like to have some type of fresh berry in my fridge. This weekend, this is what I used based upon my inventory:

3/4 cups frozen mixed berries

1 cup sliced strawberries

1/3 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup water

1 tsp organic maple syrup

In a saucepan, on med heat, I smashed the fresh strawberries with a potato masher and mixed to avoid burning for about 2 minutes, then I added the frozen berries and water.  Continued stirring until all started melting together, I added the chia seeds and 1 tsp of maple syrup (you can use honey or agave) and stirred.  Once the mixture started thickening and getting really hot, I lowered the temp to low and allowed to cook for about 12 minutes.  VOILA!  Store in a mason jar/tupperware whatever your preference in the fridge after you allow to cool on your countertop.

My 2 year old enjoyed eating this totally plain, I added to yogurt last night fora treat after dinner:

Chia Jam

and had some drizzled on my oatmeal this morning  (made with almond milk and bananas).

ChiaJamOatmeal

I have a jar saved to top to my quinoa bowls which are showed below.  One is made with almond milk, chopped apples, raisins, cinnamon and pecans.

quinoaPecanBanana

the other is made with coconut milk, bananas, and goji berries.

QuinoaGojiApple

If you’re feeling tired of your cereal, toast, bagel breakfasts.. give this a try! I’m sure one of these recipes will appeal to your pallet :)

ENJOY FRIENDS!

 

 

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11Apr

“I’LL HAVE WHAT SHES HAVING”… OR SHOULD I? (DIET WARS)

dietconfusion

It happens just about every day, but today’s question came from a very experienced and knowledgeable physician, “what do you think about the Atkins vs. the Weight Watchers Diet?”   Bottom line from my point of view is this…  while it’s important not to succumb to societal pressure to look a certain way, it is crucial for your health and overall well-being that you understand different dietary theories so that you can better understand your body and its needs. Better yet, understand patterns in your eating and behavior, by using a “food-mood” journal for a stretch of time to look for patterns in emotional and physical responses to different foods.   It’s VERY temping to pick up a diet book and just commit it to memory, or to emulate your svelte best friend’s eating habits, but you are in for a world of frustration and disappointment, my friends, if you assume you have the exact same genetic makeup, lifestyle, metabolism, sensitivities, tastes, preferences, blood type etc. as your neighbor.

While there is absolutely room for bio-individuality in customizing a diet, I do believe that EVERYONE can benefit from many of the same premises and I state them below:

CUT OUT (or drastically reduce) PROCESSED, GENETICALLY MODIFIED< DEAD-ENERGY FOOD.

 Sodas/sugary drinks, fried/fast foods, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial colors, sweeteners, candy, pastries, cookies, anything with more than 5 ingredients on the package for goodness sakes.  After that let’s start to incorporate other universal benefits.

EAT WHOLE FOODs, specifically WHOLE GRAINS.  

Sadly, and probably surprisingly, friends, the MAJORITY of cereals, crackers, granola bars, protein bars, bagels, frozen dinners are loaded with partial grains, added sugars, loads of sodium.  There’s a whole lot of not much “whole”ness going on throughout all the isles of the grocery store.  Stick with Natural snacks:  fruit, veggies, nuts and seeds, hummus, nut-butters (almond, peanut, sunflower, cashew butter on rice cakes).   Incorporate more rice, quinoa, and buckwheat into your diet and less pasta, bread, rolls, and biscuits.  Chose local honey, maple syrup and/or organic agave as your sweetener of choice and stay away from aspartame, equal, anything fake!

GUIDELINES FOR FOOD SHOPPING:

  • Shop the perimeter where the produce, meat, eggs, whole, natural, foods reside.  Middle of the supermarket is loaded with engineered food, which resists bacteria, pests, molds – how? ADDITIVES – so it has no nutritional value but it’s got a looooong shelf life – longer it lasts, shorter you will. :) sorry, that’s not a joking matter.
  • Don’t buy food that has ever been advertised.  94% of ad budgets go to processed foods, have you ever seen an ad for broccoli or apples? There’s no money in this!  Okay, as a realist, I’ll remove the “don’t” and just say let’s reduce the amount we are buying advertised food.
  • Don’t eat any food that comes with a “health claim”.  The healthy food is sitting in the produce section very quietly without any claims.  The package can tell you so many grandiose things that foods can do for you. Ignore the glitz and read the label and the ingredients.  The “heart healthy” bread you buy? 99% chance there’s not a “whole grain” in it. Milled wheat yes, but that’s not a whole grain.  The Body knows the difference between whole and partial foods and craves what we deprive it of.  Our pancreas also knows the difference. Insulin levels surge with all the simple carbohydrates and processed foods we eat.  Ladies and gents – it’s insulin secretion that leads to fat accumulation, not healthy fats.   Thank you dear government (USDA) for recommending 6-8 servings of grains a day (which includes the lovely list above) and for scolding us for incorporating fat into our diet.  My preference would have been the suggested “low glycemic foods high healthy fat diets” but that’s just for me (and my clients and blogging fan club to embrace)  :)

 

BE SMART WITH YOUR FAT AND EAT IT!

Sure, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, margarine – NOT GOOD FOR YOU, but enjoy your olive oils, sesame oils, coconut oils, avocados, organic lean meat, organic eggs, fatty fish, any type of nut you like! These fats are loaded with Omega 3s (anti-inflammatory agents) and they will raise good (HDL) cholesterol and lower bad (LDL) cholesterol.  Fat gets such a bad rap! OH! And stay away from manufactured fat-free foods… guarantee they’re loaded with sugar, HFCS, and a whole bunch of other junk which will pack on lbs and lead you dissatisfied… who remembers eating an entire box of snack wells and still wanting something more!?!? That’s “partial food” for you!

In any case, this is just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce), but wanted to get you started on individually sharing a common theme in the HEALTHFUL quest toward nourishment.

Until next time, listen to your body and start with one small step J.

 

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06Apr

MEET YOUR MEAT: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT!

We are what we eat.  The higher the quality of our food, the higher the quality of our cells.

factoryfarm

Even if you’re not all about buying organic (and there’s no judgment here), consider learning the facts behind a few labels when selecting your animal protein.   It’s easy to not think about the process from farm or factory to plate and quite frankly, I think most of us would rather not know as “ignorance is bliss” (for the short term).  But I assure you, once you gain knowledge, you will feel better – morally, physically & holistically – and you will probably thirst for more information, for you and your children. 

The reality is this.  While we would like to believe that the cows, chickens, and pigs that we are eating live happily ever after on green pastures playing in the mud and snacking on natural sources, the truth is far from this perception (in the great majority of cases.  By knowing How these animals are raised, treated or mistreated and how that translates to the quality of the meat (eggs or milk) we eat, might motivate you to spend just a few minutes at the grocery store considering your options which will help you make a more informed decision.

So here goes my cliff’s notes on food claims and labels:

Antibiotic Free:

An animal was not given any antibiotics during its lifetime.  This is a very good thing to look for! Our immunity has been compromised in great part because of all the antibiotics we are ingesting in the meat we eat (animals kept in farm factories “conventional farming” are given antibiotics to prevent sickness and then they are administered more if they contract something… that’s a lot of meds)!

Natural:

This basically means no artificial color, flavor, ingredients are added and there is minimal processing.   BUT it doesn’t imply anything about the administration of hormones or antibiotics.

Cage-Free:  

In reference to birds, they are raised without cages (many conventional farming methods do keep their animals in cages which does not allow for any exercise or free movement and creates a very stressful environment which breeds sickness/disease).  What this doesn’t imply is if the birds had some access to the outdoors or if they were raised on a pasture, or if they lived indoors at all times but were not confined to cages.   It’s a much better living condition than regular “caged” living conditions, just be sure to look for other information on the package to gain more understanding.

Free-Range:

Relating to eggs/poultryThe term means they have had access to the outdoors (which is great! it’s a humane way to treat the animals and we take in the energy of the food we eat).  This term does not indicate how much exposure – the majority of their life? a small amount? Either way, it’s better than conventional farming and/or cage free!

Pasture Raised

The animal was treated humanely and did not live in a factory, in cages, indoors, rather had exposure to natural environments, ate grass and roamed in a pasture.  This is the highest quality and most expensive animal protein available (to my knowledge).  You will taste and feel the difference!

Hormone Free: 

Means that no growth/synthetic hormones were administered to the animal.  This is very important!  Cows, for example, if not “hormone free“ or “organic” are given hormones for the majority of their lives to keep the milk production high – it’s wrong and we are ingesting all those hormones that are inherent in the milk we drink.  Consider organic/hormone free for milk if nothing else.

Grass Fed vs. Grain Fed (for cows):

Grass fed animals are given grass throughout its lifetime, which is the most natural diet for cattle…. this is what high quality cattle are fed.  Grain fed is less expensive and fattens up the cattle for quicker production of meat… most conventional (non-organic) meat is grain fed OR they are given animal byproduct (which is ground up other cows and road kill – no joke).

Non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism)

The animal or plant was NOT engineered / genetically modified to have traits from another organism.  A good example is the tomato we are able to eat all year long.  They are imported from across the country and because they are out of season, they are picked when green, then given hormones to speed the ripening process at the time they hit supermarket shelves.   If you see “organic or NON-GMO” on the label, they are in their natural state, no-GMO going on!

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01Apr

THINK POSITIVE & STAY ON TRACK (yes, it’s possible, ladies)

pregnancy cravings

A positive outlook on your food and exercise program is not about perfection.   While this is important for every man, woman, child and grandparent, this is especially important for all my pregnant friends out there to remember.  Perfection does not exist in the real world and placing this type of expectation on ourselves only sets us up for failure, disappointment and a cascade of poor choices (and having a very difficult task of getting on track once our bundle of joy arrives).  Whether you’re struggling to eat a single healthy meal during the first trimester (when it seems all that’s palatable are saltines and cheese!) or you’re at your peak in terms of fitness and nutrition, I encourage everyone reading to adopt this motto:  it’s about making small (and then larger) steps to improve the way you think, the way you eat, and the way you exercise so you can reach a manageable and healthy weight and ultimately develop lasting self-love and kindness.  And most importantly, view the occasional splurge or the choice to just relax as an “experiment” of sorts rather than a failed attempt at being “good”.    As long as we strive each day to improve and be better than the day before (or the meal before), for that we should smile, pat ourselves on the back, and value our beautiful selves.

A new friend of mine who also happens to be a fantastic health coach, encouraged me to keep track of all the healthy choices I made during those extreme times of nausea, fatigue and moodiness so that I might inspire the next pregnant mama with whom I work J.  For me, it was important to know my options, for the sake of my own body and mind, and for that of the little baby growing inside me.  So much research shows that our behaviors during those 9 months are powerful indicators of the health, personality and disposition of our offspring.  Hopefully my TOP 6 PREGNANCY TIPS will resonate with you, perhaps your aversions and/or cravings were different, but for me, knowing a thing or two about nutrition and listening to my body has yielded this list of “do this”, “not that”….   ENJOY!

I was tired all the time, I wanted to just sleep, relax, watch TV, read…. INSTEAD, I forced myself to get outside (as long as it was above 35 degrees) for a brisk walk.  I found with EVERY walk, the fatigue and nausea subsided and the endorphin release provided me with a bit of energy to carry me through that next hour or so.  Don’t shoot for pre-pregnancy fitness routines and this is not a time to increase the intensity… do what you can so that you feel good!

I craved carbs, and wanted bread, pasta, pretzels and crackers, eating this made me actually feel worse! I noticed when I gave into my cravings I ended up in a perpetual cycle of sluggishness, lack of satisfaction, more hunger and weight gain.  INSTEAD I chose gluten free grains (most of the time).   Knowing gluten is an energy drainer (even if you don’t have a gluten sensitivity) inspired me to change my grains of choice.  I started eating snacks like rice cakes with peanut butter, brown rice, oatmeal with apples and cinnamon  (some oats may be cross contaminated and have gluten, but this choice sat well with me), muffins baked with almond flour, and if I wanted crunchy cereal I went with Crispix or Rice Krispies.  These choices left me feeling not so blah, heavy or bloated.

The nausea was unbearable most days.  INSTEAD of eating my way through, I would rub some Peppermint Oil (my favorite is Young Living) on my temples and rub on my hands and just aromatically enjoy the scent.  Surprisingly, most times it was a relief! As is the scent of ginger or sipping ginger tea is for many women!

I craved comfort food – pizza, Chinese food, diner food (being in Jersey, a diner in most town centers).  INSTEAD of going with the greasiest, most unhealthy option, I would allow myself to order from these places, but I would always order heavy veggie options, only eat a few of the fries, then get back on track for the next meal or snack.   I drank lots of water and herbal tea between meals to help flush out the salt and processed food that was laced throughout my body :)

I needed to snack all the time!  I wanted salty food some days and sweet snacks the next!  INSTEAD of eating chips, and pretzels, and candy, I always carried around with me a small bag of mixed nuts: dry roasted almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds.  For my sweet cravings, I always had a piece of fruit first (usually grapefruit for frozen grapes), and if I still wanted more, I would opt for dried fruit (apricots, dates, cranberries, figs, cherries).  They are all natural sources of sugar and left me satisfied and feeling good about not giving into the alternative.

While I’m ordinarily a veggie lover the thought of leafy greens and smoothies made me want to vomit during the first 14 weeks.  INSTEAD of avoiding vegetables all together, I would sneak frozen peas into my rice, or eat them on the side with some sea salt.  I could eat raw carrots with hummus, so I chose to eat these two snacks on most days.  Find something, anything you can stomach, and try to incorporate it into your daily routine.  There are so many fantastic phytonutrients hidden in vegetables and any amount is better than none!

I could go on and on, but these are just a few scenarios that I thought might help.  For more inspiration, reach out for a health consultation with yours truly :)

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