10May

Crowding out Junk and Adding in Plants – MORNING ROUTINE IDEAS

So I’ve noticed lately that in many of my consultations the question always surfaces…. “How the heck can I squeeze veggies into my morning routine?”  So this morning, I’m providing you with 3 easy ways to do just this.

I’m a big believer in “crowding out” junk foods (processed, sugary, empty calories, low nutritional foods which always lead to roller-coasters of hunger) with healthy, nutrient dense, low glycemic, fiber-rich foods – that’s a much more appealing concept than “removing and depriving”.   Not just at dinner-time, but all times of day.  Why?  Well, for starters, we not only want to LOOK great and LIVE longer, but we want to FEEL great too, right?  Vegetables are packed with phyto nutrients (phyto=plant) that give us energy, strengthen our immunity, aid in  blood purification, are cancer reducing, just to name a few benefits.  AND, the fiber in veggies helps fill us up with the good stuff leading to less cravings soon after breakfast- the cravings and highs and lows are usually a result of refined sugar and carbs… I’m sure most of you can relate to the bowl of cereal at 7 am followed by hunger pains at 9am!

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, control that inflammation, reduce sugar cravings, or just adopt a healthy lifestyle, here are 3 ways I incorporate these powerful plants into my morning routine.

OH! And my first requisite for suggestions on this blog:  TIME SENSITIVITY. Who isn’t overloaded with tasks these days and too little time to do anything but the necessary!? My belief  in living a healthy lifestyle rests in the following: PLAN, SHOP, ORGANIZE, COOK (and freeze!)   Second requisite: BALANCE! I suggest trying to incorporate lean protein, healthy fat and veggies at each meal to keep energy and satisfaction at optimal levels :)

Eggs.  For those of you who LIKE eggs, this is one of my favorites… and I get pushback a lot that people don’t have TIME to make omelets in the morning before work.  If you can break 2 eggs and scramble in a bowl, and wait 2 more minutes for them to settle in a pan, you can do this !

1.  On the weekends, I sauté with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) a variety of the following: onion, green/red pepper, mushrooms, spinach (or whatever I have in the fridge).  I add a handful of frozen peas the last minute of sautéing.  Add some sea salt, and place in a covered bowl and leave in the fridge for the week.

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2.  The morning of, I throw 2 eggs in a greased pan (olive oil spray), toss in 2 forkfuls of veggies, scramble up (I’ve never been crazy about the omelet shape – as long as it’s cooked I’m happy), add sea salt, maybe a little cheese, and turmeric (great anti-inflammatory properties).  In place of cheese I will often cut a bit of avocado – a fantastic source of healthy fats.

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2.  Juices/Smoothies:  As long as you have a good blender that pulverizes or you have a juicer, you’re set. I personally love my Nutri-bullet because it’s compact, easy to clean and affordable :) $85/Costco!

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1. Ensure you always have at least one variety of leafy green on hand, some berries (I always have a bag frozen), perhaps a banana to aid in “creaminess” and some seeds or nuts (this is where the protein/fat comes in).

2.  I’m not crazy about the particulars.. as long as you’re using one type of leafy green, I’m happy! One such example:  1 handful baby spinach or kale (remove the rough stems), frozen berries (low in sugar, very sweet), other great additions 1/2 green apple , 1/2 banana, and always a seed or nut: ground flax seed, hemp seed, chia seed, almonds, walnuts, and enough water to your consistency-liking.  Many people use milk in their smoothies, but try it with water, with the right produce you really don’t need to add the dairy.

3. Veggie packed breads or muffins.  If you can bake once and freeze 12 times, you can do this!!! I bake just about every other weekend. Wrap breads by the slice or through a bunch of muffins in a ziplock bag – grab and go! Or remove the night before and it’s delis in the am.   My favorite veggies to bake with:  pumpkin, zucchini, carrots.

This photo below is of a gluten-free zucchini & carrot bread. It’s great! A bit crumbly, but ‘ve gotten used to the consistency of using almond flour for baking. The key is using a binding agent – something a bit gooey to hold the bread together (banana/pumpkin are great for this).

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Here is the recipe/instructions for this particular bread.. (I used a small loaf pan and made 3 of these)… If you are trying to go gluten/dairy/sugar free, this really is a fantastic alternative because it’s all healthy and packed with protein, healthy fat and veggies.  If on the other hand you’re fine with a little gluten and natural sweetener, you can find muffins on my website which are yummy!

GF Carrot Zucchini Bread

Makes 10-12 servings

2 c. almond flour

2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. sea salt

2 large eggs

1 c. unsweetened applesauce

1.5 c. shredded carrots and zucchini mixture (used a food processor)

1/4 c. sour cream or coconut milk

1/2 c. coconut oil

* this recipe does not call for a sweetener other than applesauce, but if you want to add some honey or maple syrup, go for it! ¼ – ½ cup is usually a good amount

Preheat oven 325.  Grease a 9×5 in. loaf pan with coconut oil (or a few mini loaf pans).

Combine first 5 dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Combine remaining wet ingredients and veggies in another bowl and mix.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry until well-incorporated. If stiff, add a little more coconut milk.

Press dough into the pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out dry.  Remember that when baking with almond flour, the resulting baked goods tend to be more delicate and crumbly, so allow bread to cool before removing.

I used this recipe for Apple Walnut Bread as well! I added in ¾ cups of chopped walnuts to the dry mixture and I removed the veggies and added a banana.  It was delicious!  You could also make Pumpkin Bread by using 1 ½ cups of pumpkin puree in place of the applesauce and adding 1 ½ tsp. nutmeg to the dry mixture.

For more ideas or recipes, contact me at 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

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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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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)

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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).

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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.

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

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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)

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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.

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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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29Mar

THIS IS YOUR (NEW) BRAIN ON EXERCISE

brainexerciseHmmm, should I or shouldn’t I? It’s 19 degrees outside, I’d much rather curl up with a book (who am I kidding, I have a 2 year old at home!) and there are still 3 solid months before I have to don a bathing suit!   BUT, beyond the very obvious benefits of physical activity (toning muscles, improving heart and lung function, reducing my risk of major diseases, and even adding years to my life (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389) the evidence behind exercise and improving cognitive functioning has really inspired me to get up and get moving on some of the coldest and laziest of days.  And this is why; thank you, Dr. David Perlmutter, for your summary!

Physical exercise is one of the most potent ways of changing your genes; put simply, when you exercise, you literally exercise your genes.  Aerobic exercise in particular not only turns on genes linked to longevity, but also targets the BDNF gene, the brain’s “growth hormone.”  More specifically, exercise has been shown to increase BDNF, reverse memory decline in elderly humans, and actually increase growth of new brain cells in the brain’s memory center.  Exercise isn’t just for trim looks and a strong heart; perhaps its most powerful effects are going on silently in the upstairs room where our brains reside . . . which gives a whole new meaning to the phase “jog your memory”. 

In the past decade we have really been able to quantify and qualify the extraordinary relationship between physical fitness and mental fitness. . . The newest findings make it undeniably clear that the link between exercise and brain health isn’t just a relationship.  In the worlds of science writer, Gretchen Reynolds for the New York Times, “It is the relationship.”  Exercise, according to the latest science, “appears to build a brain that resists physical shrinkage and enhances cognitive flexibility.”  And this, my friends, many mean that there is no greater tool at our fingertips than physical movement.

 

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24Mar

FOOD for HEADACHE relief…

stress

Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on using foods to prevent and treat disease. Knowledge of food energetics can help one build a stronger sense of health and well-being by eating different foods that impose different effects. Like the saying, “you are what you eat.”

 

Once you understand the movement of energy, you can treat headaches with food.  Thank you, Dr. Annemarie Corban, for inspiring me to dive into this topic – one very close to home – I swear I can see throbbing vibrations radiating from Craig’s head when he walks through the door after his 12 hour work day, without fail, I hand him some homemade (or organic unsweetened) applesauce and it seems to elevate most of the pain (most of the time).

Keeping it simple, here are just a FEW types of headaches and possible solutions for you to feast your eyes on…. 

Expansive (YIN) Headaches:  from too many expansive foods like sugar, fruit, sweeteners, not enough protein in your diet.    Solution:  salty food – olives, potatoe chips – works very quickly

Contractive (YANG) “tension headaches”:   feeling too tight, perhaps from being overworked, stressed, or from an imbalance in your diet: too much salt, meat, not or not enough food in general / hunger headache.   Solution:  applesauce or apple juice, lemon Italian ice

Liver Headaches:  feels like a migraine, you feel it in your eyes.  Can be from eating too much fat on an empty stomach, usually happens 2-3 hrs after the meal (and in chinese medicine the eyes are connected to the liver).  Solution: drink some lemon tea – squeeze lemon in hot water and include the peel!

Caffeine Headaches:  you get them when you go cold turkey on nixing the caffeine (all you pregnant ladies out there.. you’ve been here!)  Solution:  go the tapering method.  Reduce by a small amount each day until the headaches are tolerable.  

Structural Headaches:  Could your ongoing headache be caused by any recent physical trauma/accident? Perhaps an accident from long ago is rearing it’s ugly head?  Solution:  book an appointment with your acupuncturist or chiropractor – while food is a fantastic healing method, some things have to be given up to the MDs :)

Hope this helps, until next time my friends!

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21Mar

Cravings, Cravings Everywhere! Why they happen & what they reveal

 

cravings

Annemarie Corban, PhD remains one of my favorite lectures as she addresses an extremely relevant issue each of us faces on a daily basis.  She gives food for thought (literally) to why we crave certain foods at particular times of the day, week, month year and I happen to LOVE the way she helps us to deconstruct what is going on in both MIND & BODY rather than throwing our hands up in the air and stating, “I suck! Where’s my will power?!”

And Joshua Rosenthal, you too, are an inspiration on this topic.

So if you’re trying to get to the heart of your crave, first, be calm and be kind to yourself and remember this: the body is truly an amazing work of art.  It knows when to sleep, wake, breath, and repair.  It is a super computer that never makes a mistake.  When cravings occur, ask yourself what your body is seeking – deconstruct the craving.  Not just once, but possibly through journaling as patterns can and will reveal the causes of your desires (it’s 2014, use your “notes” section of your iPhone if you’re not into carrying a journal).   Cravings are not weaknesses but important messages meant to assist you in maintaining balance- your body is knocking on your door asking you to consider letting his/her emotions, deficits and desires to be fed.

Here are the 8 primary causes of cravings that I have discovered in my leanings -

1. Lack of love:  whether it be frustration with a relationship, a job, a friend, boredom in life, a dull exercise routine (or none at all) any one of these might cause emotional eating used as a substitute to fill the voice of something extremely important and overlooked (I ate more candy than ill ever admit while working my first job post-college in the city)

2. Water:  usually too little. When we’re dehydrated our body thinks we need food, when in fact we need to nourish it with O2!   So guzzle down 1 glass before diving in.

3. YIN/YANG Imbalance: this one might take a bit more research (or time with me in session :) to explore.  But if we eat too many Yin foods, which are expansive in our bodies, we might crave more Yang foods, which are contractive.  An example would be cravings sugar (Yin), telling us we need to possibly integrate more animal protein (meat) into our diets, which is Yang.

4 Nostalgia: perhaps we crave something from the past or something your mom used to make -crumb cake anyone? -Don’t ignore it! Embrace it  - perhaps you can choose a healthier version of the taste or flavor from that food.

5. Seasonal:  way back when the hunter/gather ancestors lived, they didn’t’ have apples in March or blueberries in December, they ate what was available that time of year, the season! Our bodies know the temperature, the season and often times it’s telling us what it wants.  So if you WANT to eat salads everyday but CRAVE warm hearty meals, listen to your body and adjust!  June is right around the corner :)

6. Lack of Nutrients:  are you craving salt? Perhaps you have low levels of certain minerals.   Overall inadequate nutrition may be telling you to drink that red-bull or 16 oz. coffee.

7. Hormonal: PMS’ing? Pregnant? Menopause? That’s a WHOLE other ball game which occurs with fluctuating levels of testosterone and estrogen… its’ NOT YORU FAULT :)

8. Self-Sabotage:  sometimes when things in life are going really well it’s easy to just dive into old behaviors or habits and crave foods that throw us off balance.  The cycle of trying to fill a yearning without giving thought to WHAT is going on in our minds and bodies can throw us into a tailspin of eating food that makes us feel worse! This often happens from low blood sugar.

Hope you enjoyed the post! Until next time, be true to yourselves, my friends!

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