Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Personal Development

Control Consumption, Control your Health

Getting Curious about Ingredients

When I think about controlling consumption as a way to protect my health, I consider food, social media, stress, environmental toxins, etc. I want to focus on food consumption this week as a way to optimize your health.

Here is some information to inform you and also inspire you to get curious about the food you’re eating, specifically any food in bags, boxes or containers. 

“Industrial fat product like vegetable oils are toxic to your arteries because they contain delicate polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are particularly prone to oxidative damage, especially when exposed to heat and when separated from the antioxidants that would otherwise help protect them from that oxidative damage.”

“Prior to Key’s campaign (in 1950 fat clogs our arteries), people ate far more saturated fat and cholesterol-rich foods than we do today, but heart attacks were so rare they were almost unheard of. Over the past century, as butter consumption dropped to less than one quarter of what it was (from eighteen pounds per person, per year, to four), vegetable oil consumption went up five-fold (from eleven pounds per person per year to fifty-nine). In 1900, heart disease was rare. By 1950, heart problems were killing more men than any other disease. Now, at the dawn of the second millennium, heart disease is the number-one cause of death in both men and women. Natural fat consumption: down. Processed fat consumption: up. Heart disease: up – way up.” 

“What’s been dropping us like flies is not any upsurge in saturated fat consumption, but an upsurge in consumption of two major categories of pro-inflammatory foods: vegetables oils (a.k.a unnatural fats) and sugar. Cutting both from your diet will not only protect your heart, it will help protect you from all chronic diseases.”

At the source of most every disease is inflammation. At the source of most every disease is oxidative damage caused by free radicals. 

What I am suggesting is that you start looking at the labels and getting curious about the ingredients. Go open up your pantry and check out the labels of the foods you have in there, how many of them have these harmful oils? (See PDF below for oil information).

Consider purchasing foods that have very little ingredients. Consider purchasing foods that you can easily pronounce all the ingredients and know what all the ingredients are. 

I have attached a PDF HERE for you to review. It offers you information on “good oils” and “bad oils”. The difference between the two is the oil’s ability to handle heat. Good oils can handle heat without becoming PUFA’s which lead to trans-fats and the formation of free radicals which lead to oxidative damage which leads to chronic conditions. 

Use this list as a reference for when you’re grocery shopping. Consider putting back products with these harmful oils and searching for products without them. It will take effort, trust me. Most products on the shelves in the grocery stores contain these harmful oils AND refined sugar. 

Your health is worth the effort and time it takes to do the research.

Information from: Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, by Catherine Shanahan, M.D.

Clean Living, Health and Wellness, Nutrition

Food Review!

I’m a Certified Food Critic…

Not really, BUT I do know what I’m looking for and NOT looking for when it comes to purchasing food in a bag, container or box. 

If you’ve worked with me before, you know I’m not a huge proponent of calorie counting; I like to work on building awareness and leaning into intuitive eating while educating on what can be harmful to your body. If you’ve worked with me before, you also know I’m not a huge proponent of snacking but more on well-balanced meals to eliminate cravings or snacking, however sometimes that sweet craving occurs and it’s nice to oblige every once in a while. 

When grocery shopping and looking for snacks for the kids or myself, I like to ensure that I’m purchasing clean ingredients that will minimize any inflammatory reaction within my body or significant blood sugar spikes. 

A few weeks ago while shopping at Trader Joe’s, I came across this product just as I was about to checkout – they definitely set up the store strategically for impulse buys – especially when you’re in line for checkout. Touché Trader Joe’s, touché. Needless to say, after looking at the label, I caved and hold no regrets about it. 

Here’s my review:

The ingredients are on point – all organic, NO inflammatory oils, and a lot of natural spices to boost the flavor profile of the snack. The snack includes grains, fiber, vegetable (pumpkin) and a healthy fat (coconut oil) offering you some stability when it comes to your blood sugar. The bark is broken into small pieces so you can easily grab one and go. No harmful dyes. It’s made here in the state of Vermont!

The only thing I would like to be different is the percentage of dark chocolate, they use 66%, typically I like to see above 70% for the added health benefits.

Here’s a list of the ingredients: organic dark chocolate (*organic unsweetened chocolate, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter), organic rolled oats, organic pumpkin seeds, organic maple syrup, organic pumpkin puree, organic corn flakes (organic milled corn, organic cane sugar, sea salt), organic brown rice flour, organic quinoa, organic roasted almonds, organic coconut oil, organic sugar, organic vanilla extract, organic cinnamon, organic ginger, organic nutmeg, organic clove, sea salt.

If you find yourself at Trader Joe’s during the Fall season and are looking for something to satisfy that sweet tooth every now and then, I highly recommend Trader Joe’s Organic Pumpkin Spice Bark. 

#Notanad 

Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Recipe

Turkey Stuffed Delicata Squash

A wonderful recipe for a fall evening. The below recipe serves two. Enjoy! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 delicata squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cooked rice (optional)
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped dried cherries
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese


Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  • Brush cut sides of squash with 2 tsp olive oil. Place cut-sides down on baking sheet.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until soft, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • If making rice, cook rice per instructions on label.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in medium pan over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey. Sauté until browned. Reduce heat to medium and add celery, onion, garlic, sage, rosemary and thyme. Continue cooking until vegetables are soft. Stir in rice, cherries, and parsley until mixture is warmed through. Add salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • Turn squash halves over so they are cut-side up. Fill with the turkey mixture and top with parmesan cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted. 
  • Enjoy!

**The picture above is of a delicate squash. I used this image because a few years ago I didn’t know what a delicata squash looked like, so thought it might be helpful for you, if needed. 

Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Recipe

Summer Pasta

Ingredients:

  • Gluten-free pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
  • 2 tbsp basil, chopped
  • Ham, for garnish

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.

Add onion and carrot and sauté for two minutes.

Add broccoli, peppers, and asparagus then sauté for two minutes.

Add zucchini then sauté for three minutes or until veggies have nearly softened. 

Add garlic then sauté for two minutes. 

Pour veggies into now empty pasta pot, add drained pasta, drizzle in extra olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. 

Toss in 1/4 cup parmesan and basil then serve with remaining parmesan on top. Garish with pan fried ham strings, as desired. 

Fiber Fueled, Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Recipe

Mediterranean Grain Salad

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked farro 
1 cup chickpeas
1 large tomato diced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
½ cup seeded and chopped cucumber
¼ cup sliced Kalamata olives
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
 
Zesty Lemon Dressing:
 
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
 
Instructions:

  1. Make the grain salad: Bring 3 cups water to a boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the farro. Cover. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the farro is tender. Drain and rinse under cold water and set aside.
  2. Combine the cooked farro, chickpeas, tomato, red and yellow bell peppers, cucumber, olives and parsley in a large bowl and toss together. Set aside. 
  3. Make the dressing: In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper until well combined, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil. 
  4. Assemble: Toss the dressing with the grain salad until well combined, adding more salt and pepper, as desired. Store in the fridge. Leftovers will keep for 2 to 3 days in the fridge. 

This recipe is from the book, Fiber Fueled by Dr. Will Bulsiewicz. It is delicious, light, and easy to make for lunch or as a side for dinner with some grilled chicken or steak! Enjoy!

Fitness, Health and Wellness, Nutrition

My Top Five Tips for Getting Back on Track

Ever find that after a busy season, holiday or family vacation you need to pull yourself back up onto the wagon to get back on track? Consider these five tips as a way to optimize your health!

  • Movement – 
    • USDA recommends people move their body for 150 minutes per week – this breaks down to 30 minutes, five days a week or ten minutes, 15 times. What I recommend is that you choose an activity that you enjoy to optimize the likelihood of consistency. 
    • When doing movement, stay within your aerobic heart rate zone! When we maintain our heart rate in our aerobic zone, we run our cells aerobically with oxygen, which is up to 16 times more energy efficient compared to our anaerobic heart rate zone. The goal is to stay in that energy-efficient, clean burning, oxygen-eating aerobic zone for the vast majority of time during exercise. Use thisinformation to calculate your aerobic heart rate zone.
    • Put movement on your schedule, ideally in the morning before anything gets in your way. Show up for your movement appointment as you would any therapy, dental, or chiropractic appointment.
    • Breaking the myth – you do not, I repeat, you do NOT need fancy, expensive equipment to get healthy and to move your body. All you need is yourself, and ideally proper footwear.
  • Nutrition – 
    • Minimize processed food – most processed food has harmful, toxic oils in it. The oils are considered TOXIC because they can not handle heat and when they are introduced to heat, they convert to trans fats. Trans fats lead to the formation of free radicals which not only turn normal polyunsaturated fatty acids into mutants, but can damage any part of your body: cell membranes, chromosomes, other fats etc.
    • Minimize refined sugar intake – most Americans are consuming, on average 200-pounds of sugar per year! Consuming refined sugar not only puts you at risk for diabetes, but it changes how your hormones work, significanly impacts your circulatory system, cholesterol, and can lead to birth defects among many other things. Refined sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. 
    • Eat clean – switch to organic to minimize your exposure to harmful pesticides and herbicides, all of which have been linked to cause certain birth defects, obesity, diabetes, ADHD and various forms of cancer. 
    • See food as energy – fuel your body with food in a way that will serve you, your health and your goals.
  • Sleep – 
    • Recommended amount of sleep per night is seven to nine hours. How much sleep do you need to thrive?
    • Minimize blue light at least two hours before bedtime – if this feels impossible, consider purchasing blue-light blocking glasses. Blue light blocks the release of melatonin, a natural hormone that makes us drowsy and promotes our sleep cycle.
    • Create an optimal sleep environment for YOU – what temperature does the room need to be? Does it need to be dark? What about white noise? Do you hate your sheets? Change them out!
    • Consistency when it comes to bedtime and wake up time – yes, even on the weekends. Figure out how many hours you need to thrive and adjust your bedtime and wake up time so you get just that. 
  • Fluid Intake – 
    • Standard recommendation is six to eight glasses of eight fluid ounces per day OR half your weight in fluid ounces. Consider splitting up the day into quarters and set consumption goals.
    • Consider drinking eight fluid ounces of luke warm, lemon water in the morning to assist with boosting metabolism and liver detoxification.
  • Stress Management – 
    • Stress is energy in the body – the three ways to move energy is through movement, sound or your breath. Considering moving your body, breathing it out or screaming it out to let it out. 

Every moment is an opportunity to get back on that wagon, to pursue your health and to choose something that will serve you. 

What will your next choice be?

Blood Sugar Balance, Fab Four Theory, Health and Wellness, Kelly LeVeque, Nutrition, Recipe, Smoothie

Strawberry Basil Smoothie

Ingredients:
1 serving vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp MCT oil
2 tbsp chia seeds
¼ cup diced frozen or fresh strawberries
Handful of spinach
Handful of basil
2 cups unsweetened almond milk

Place all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend to the desired consistency. If you use fresh strawberries, add a few ice cubes before blending to cool. If you’re not into strawberries, consider using blueberries, cherries or raspberries! If you’re not into MCT oil, consider an alternate healthy fat, such as 1/4 of an avocado.

This recipe is from Kelly LeVeque’s book, Body Love. A refreshing smoothie as the days warm up and summer approaches. Enjoy!

Health and Wellness, Kelly LeVeque, Nutrition, Recipe

Greek Chicken Salad

This recipe is from, Body Love Every Day, by Kelly LeVeque. Reminds me of our trip to Greece… ENJOY! (Serves 2)

Dressing:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

2 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced
2 romaine hearts, rinsed and chopped
4 small Persian cucumbers or 1/2 English cucumber, diced
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, 
1 avocado, thinly sliced

In a large bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Add the salad ingredients and toss to coat. Cheese/Feta optional!

Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Recipe

Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potato

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups spinach
  • ½ cup canned chickpeas
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes (chopped) 
  • 2 tbsp Kalamata olives (chopped)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried dill
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
     

To garnish:

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp of water to thin
  • Chives
  • Red pepper flakes  

 
Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Puncture the sweet potatoes with a fork and place them in a baking dish. Bake until soft, and knife slides into the flesh easily, about 35-45 minutes, depending on the size.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa mixture by heating the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients (spinach to salt and pepper) and saute until warm. Keep warm until the sweet potatoes are cooked. 
  • When the sweet potatoes are soft, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Once cooled, transfer them to a plate, split them open with a sharp knife and spoon the quinoa into the center.
  • Whisk together the tahini, lemon, salt, pepper and water then pour on top of sweet potatoes. Garnish with fresh chives and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Fab Four Theory, Kelly LeVeque, Nutrition, Recipe

Southwestern Scramble

Like a little spice to kickstart your morning? Check out this delicious southwest scramble from the book, Body Love Every Day, by Kelly LeVeque!

Ingredients:

6 pasture-raised organic eggs
1 tbsp ghee
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tbsp minced yellow onion
2 tbsp cilantro or other microgreens (or use regular cilantro)
3 baby heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
Salsa, guacamole, diced avocado, or hot sauce (optional)

Instructions:

  • Whisk the eggs in a bowl.
  • In a frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the ghee. Add the bell pepper and onion and sauté until the onion is translucent, 3 minutes. Pour in the eggs and scramble them gently, stirring occasionally with a spatula until cooked through. 
  • Plate the scramble with cilantro microgreens and tomatoes. Serve with salsa, guacamole, chopped avocado, or hot sauce, if desired. 

You could also add beans and corn, as well!

Enjoy!