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!

Health and Wellness, Mental Health, Nutrition, Self-Care, Self-Love, Self-Worth

Maintaining your Mental Health during the Holidays

I can only speak from experience. I can only share with you the things that I do to maintain stability when it comes to the stress, overwhelm and sometimes chaos of the holidays. When it comes to maintaining my health: mental, emotional and physical during a very special time of year, it’s about consistency. I consistently pursue the habits that I have pursued all year that have served me well. 

            Movement – I came to a realization when I lived out in San Francisco, circa 2010/2011. It was Christmas morning, my family was on the East Coast and the only plan I had that day was to work. Needless to say, I was feeling a little down. Until I realized and thought, ‘why don’t I do something I love doing.’ So, I laced up my shoes and hit the streets of San Francisco in the warm West Coast air and had an amazing Christmas morning run. Never before have I ‘worked out’ on a holiday. Prior to this day, my mindset around ‘working out’ on a holiday was, ‘well it’s a holiday, why would I kick my ass on a day that is meant for rest and celebration.’ On this day in San Francisco, I realized and thought, ‘why wouldn’t I do something I love on one of my favorite days of the year?!’ It was this day that completely shifted my perspective about moving my body on any and all holidays. Obviously, moving my body is not always fun. Sometimes it’s frustrating, upsetting, angering or just downright boring BUT EVERY TIME I am done moving my body, I feel grateful that I did it. I encourage you, even on the holiday, even around the holidays, continue to move your body. My assumption is that although it may be hard to put on those shoes you will feel empowered when you’re done!

            Nutrition – 2020 has been a big year in regard to my nutrition and how it can impact my mental, emotional and physical health. In May/June of this year, I found myself slipping into another postpartum depression. It was scary, unsettling and very challenging for me and my family. When I spoke with my doctor, he discussed anti-depressant medications with me, supplements and shifting some of my day-to-day routines. I refused to go on medication again for the depression because of the experience I had with medications previously. So I opted to look at my lifestyle and make some significant changes. One of those significant changes was my nutrition. Since June, my family and I have been eating 85-90% plant-based diet and what I will say is this: my anxiety is hardly there. My depression is gone. My energy has improved. My focus is better. My evening brain fog is also better. I’m not saying this is the answer for everyone, however I am saying that what we put into our bodies: processed food, refined sugar, dairy, meat, fried foods, alcohol, medications etc. all have a SIGNIFICANT impact on the way we feel. During the holidays, the way in which I will focus on my nutrition is to continue with this new way of eating with flexibility and I advise you to do the same. Continue your good eating habits throughout the holidays with some flexibility. Yes, I will eat the turkey, stuffing, my mom’s homemade rolls and dessert, but the next day, I will be right back on my plan that helps me feel my best, because if I can feel good, I can show up well for all the people and things in my life. 

            Sleep – This is NOT the first time I have talked about sleep – it’s crucial to our health. It impacts almost every tissue in our body and impacts growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. During the holidays, make sure you’re getting adequate sleep, at least 7-9 hours per night. And if you have a bedtime routine, stay consistent with it. Continue to go to bed and wake up at the same time as you have been, especially if it helps you to feel good! This consistency will keep you on track. 

These are a few of my recommendations about maintaining your mental health during the holidays and any other time of the year. You can’t be healthy if your mind isn’t healthy. Take care of you and the rest will fall into place.

Book Recommendations, Books, Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Recipe

Recipe Alert!

Sesame Noodle Bowl

Ingredients:

Sesame Dressing:

1/4 cup tahini paste
2 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp tamari
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp 100% maple syrup
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Tofu:
14 ounces firm or super-firm tofu
Olive oil cooking spray

Sesame Noodle Bowls:
8 ounces soba noodles
2 cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed
2 medium carrots, sliced very thin
2 cups cucumber, diced
2 tbsp sesame seeds, for serving
2 tbsp hemp seeds, for serving 

Instructions:

Make the tofu:
Remove the tofu from the package and wrap it in a clean towel or paper towel. Place it on a plate, then put another plate on top of it. Place a few heavy items like cans or cookbooks on top of the tofu. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, or until most of the water has drained onto the towel. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Once the tofu is drained, place it on a cutting board and cut into desired shape. Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil and place the tofu on it in a single layer, then spritz with more olive oil to ensure that the tofu is well-coated. 

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip. Return to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes, or until the tofu is golden brown.

Make the dressing: 
Whisk together the tahini, water, tamari, sesame oil, lime juice, garlic, maple syrup, and red pepper flakes until smooth. Set aside.

Make the Bowl:
Cook the soba noodles according to package instructions, then drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Return to the pan they were cooked in and toss with half of the prepared sesame sauce.

Divide the noodles among four resealable containers, then top with the edamame, carrots, cucumber, and tofu. Drizzle with the remaining sauce, the sesame seeds, and hemp seeds. Serve cold. 

This recipe is from the book, Fiber Fueled by Dr. Will Bulsiewicz. ENJOY!

Fitness, Health and Wellness, Nutrition

Optimizing Your Immune Health

You have the POWER to Boost Your Immune System

When it comes to our health, much of what we see in the news and media today puts a focus on mask wearing, vaccines and social distancing. What about promoting our body’s ability to protect ourself? 

How can you focus on staying healthy and optimizing your health during this time? Here are a few tips:

  • Vitamin A, C and E – help to maintain the lining of the respiratory and digestive tract which acts as a barrier against infection. Consume fruits and vegetables with purple, blue, red, orange and yellow hues.
  • Vitamin D – works with T cells, a type of white blood cell that is key to the immune system’s ability to fight off infection and disease. Consume fatty fish, egg yolks, foods fortified with added vitamin D or a supplement (check with your MD). Also, get out in the sun!
  • Probiotics –  help to maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines, thereby helping to boost immunity. Consume tempeh, miso, kimchi and sauerkraut. 
  • Zinc – helps to fight off certain microbes. Consume ground beef, whole grain oats, turkey, soybeans, various nuts, chickpeas and yogurt.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – essential for reducing inflammation. Consume walnuts, chia, hemp and flax seeds. 
  • Adequate sleep – when we aren’t getting enough sleep, our body is in a state of stress. More stress leads to compromised immunity. Take a nap!
  • Fluid intake – drink the water, flush your system. Without enough water, our body doesn’t have the ability to transport all of these nutritions to each organ system. If you HATE water, add some natural flavoring: lemon, lime, mint, cucumber etc.
  • Eat a diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables – this fiber will feed the good bacteria in your gut which is vital to optimizing your immune system.

Please stop thinking that the only thing that is going to protect you from a virus is a cloth mask, staying away from people and a vaccine. You have the ability to protect yourself with the lifestyle and food you chose every single day.

Books, Fitness, Health and Wellness, Nutrition, Recipe

Optimizing Your Health With a Focus on Wellness

The Blue Zones are 5 different locations around the world where people live the longest.

Sardinia holds the longest living man. Ikaria, Greece has the world’s lowest rate of dementia. Individuals in Costa Rica reach a healthy age of 90 years old and in Loma Linda, California there’s a group of seventh-day Adventists who live up to a decade longer than other Americans. 

What is it about these five different locations that has people living longer and with less chronic conditions and illness? 

1. They move naturally every 20 minutes or so. Going to a friends house, out to eat or to church is an opportunity to move/walk.
2. Loneliness is not an option – if you don’t show up at a town festival or in the village, people will show up at your door to check on you.
3. The people have a sense of purpose, from childhood to old age. Their sense of purpose is embedded in their community, family and / or the next generation.
4. Food – 90-100% of their diet consists of whole, plant-based fare. Not because it’s a fad, but because fruits, vegetables, tubers, nuts, beans and whole grains are cheap and accessible. 
5. They lead healthy, energetic lives.
6. They consume meats or treats as celebratory foods. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into tips from the The Blue Zones in regards to our nutrition:

  • Use fewer ingredients – less variety may help keep people from overeating and keep the immune system strong.
  • Add cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage have been known to protect the heart, stave off cancer and lower oxidative stress. 
  • Beans, beans, beans. – Add them to your diet, they’re a great source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Plus, they’re cheap and versatile. 
  • Finish dinners with olive oil.
  • Supplement with fresh herbs and spices – rosemary, oregano, sage, mint, garlic, turmeric and mugwort all possess medicinal values AND add flavor. 
  • Fiber – Grains, greens, nuts and beans feed the eight pounds of bacteria living in our gut. Some of that bacteria produces toxins like choline; others produce compounds that reduce inflammation, regulate our metabolism, and fuel our immune system. The toxin-producing bacteria tend to feed off meat and eggs, while the healthy bacteria favor fiber. 

The cookbook is called The Blue Zones Kitchen by Dan Buettner.