Thursday, February 25, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I could just sit down and devour a whole pineapple by itself for a meal!
Thankfully, pineapples are also chalk-full of good health benefits! Not only is it a super source of Vitamin C (awesome antioxidant and immune-system supporter) but 1 cup will provide over 100% of the recommended manganese for your day! Manganese is another antioxidant, and also helps with enzymes used in energy production. Pineapple also contains bromelain, which is being studied for its anti-inflammatory and digestive aide properties. And pineapples are on the "safe list" if you can't find organic! They aren't usually too heavy in the pesticide department.
Enjoy pineapple plain, in a smoothie, in a fruit salad, or diced onto a green salad to add some tart sweet juiciness, or puree it with some frozen banana for an icy treat! I’m sure there are many good recipes for pineapple, just try to get more fresh fruit and veggies somewhere!
So enjoy your pineapples and other fruits! Wanna split a pineapple? ;-)
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
And the heart… what a wonderful part of our body! So, for the lovely holiday, let’s take a look at keeping that heart healthy so you may have years and years of twitter-pated fluttering!
The American Heart Association lists 7 simple steps to a healthy heart:
1. don’t smoke;
2. maintain a healthy weight;
3. engage in regular physical activity;
4. eat a healthy diet;
5. manage blood pressure;
6. take charge of cholesterol; and
7. keep blood sugar, or glucose, at healthy levels.
So how are you doing on those?
Part of that healthy diet (aside from just a lot of fresh produce, like you must know I love by now!) is getting a wide variety of color in your produce! Each color is produced from various phytochemicals and nutritional components, and each have important roles in health.
And since it’s Valentine’s Day, I wanted to focus on the red colors since red is for love (*insert cheesy “awwwww” here*) Plus, the dark reds and purples are for – can ya guess? – heart health!
Foods like grapes, blueberries, strawberries, eggplant, açaí, cherries, raspberries, and red apples are colored that way in part because of anthocyanin pigments. These flavonoids are a great source of antioxidants that help protect you from heart disease. Anthocyanins have been shown to help protect cell structures in the body and to prevent oxygen damage in all of the body's organ systems.
When picking out fruits for their anthocyanin properties, make sure you get them fresh or frozen. Anthocyanin is water soluble and relatively delicate, so processing often destroys it. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found anthocyanin levels of red/purple foods were almost undetectable in canned foods.
So enjoy your fresh red and purple foods; indulge in some Spiced Walnut Truffles for your heart; curl up with a good romance book or movie; and enjoy your weekend, however you spend it!
Saturday, February 13, 2010
After the Christmas holidays, Kroger had a big clearance on organic Medjool dates, and I swiped up their entire collection!
Now, unlike an apple or banana, I don’t often just “dive in” to eating a plain date. (Well…ok, now and then I do!) But a date is essentially just natural sugar with a little punch of fiber (2 grams per date.) Yum! Ok, so, admittedly, you don’t want to devour a tub of dates just like you should avoid an entire tub of cookies… but when you need sweet, it’s a natural, unprocessed alternative. Yum yum! There are various types of dates, each with their own hints of flavor – the Medjool actually has almost a caramel-maple flavor to it. Yum yum yum!
And it goes great with nuts! YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM! :)
Dave and I have tried almonds, walnuts, and pecans, but so far, almonds are my favorite flavor combo. And, of course, while each nut has its own unique benefits, I do love the almond for its powerhouse of protein, massive manganese, and vast vitamin E! (And, that lovely tryptophan) And don’t forget its heart-healthy fats. In moderation, enjoy! I usually enjoy 2-4 of these at a time. Be careful! They're addicting!
Dates do have a pit, so I like to cut a slit to the pit, pull it out, and replace it with an almond or two! Crunch with gooey; nutty with sweet; fruit with protein… okay, maybe we ARE going into matchmaking! ;-) But at least it’s a healthy match!
Friday, February 12, 2010
Here's a quick little recipe that's heart healthy and yummy as you may be looking forward to a lovey-dovey Valentine's Day soon ;-)
Spiced Walnut Truffles
2 c walnuts
1 c raisins (or chopped dates)
1/4 c agave (or honey or maple syrup)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
cacao powder for dusting
The happy truffle couple!
In a food processor, process walnuts into a flour-like powder. Then add the remaining items. Blend it all up until you have a crumbly dough that will stick together when smooshed. I like to leave it unprocessed enough that there are little raisin bits in it. If you over process it, you may need to chill or lightly freeze the dough to make it more workable.
Form into little balls (makes about 30) and then roll in the cacao powder. - though Dave enjoyed popping them plain! Or you can roll in other items you may prefer - hemp seeds, shredded coconut, dust of spices, cacao nibs... Or for a bigger splurge, melt some organic chocolate bars (70% of higher cacao, please!) and dip them for the chocolate indulgence. Ahhhh, heaven!
These will freeze well for several months, or even keep in the fridge for a while. Pull 3-4 out of the freezer and let them thaw a little in the fridge (frozen raisin bits are not pleasant on the teeth!) Don't thaw too many, or you just may eat them all at once! ;-)
In addition to their fiber, protein, B vitamins, magnesium, and vitamin E, walnuts have more omega-3 fatty acids than other nuts, and a good source of monounsaturated fats (MUFAs)! Omegas and MUFAs are heart healthy, providing protective benefits against cardiovascular problems, help with blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. They are also an anti-inflammatory that may help asthma, arthritis, eczema, and psoriasis. These little guys also contain ellagic acid which may help the immune system and be a cancer fighter.
And what do walnuts look like? Little brains! And guess what? Walnuts are good for brain functioning! Your brain has a high amount of structural fats in it, and omega-3 fats are very important in helping keep neurons firing efficiently.
Another cool perk of walnuts is they’re a natural source of melatonin. This hormone may help with a better night’s rest. Ahhh, sleep.
Ok, I digress – I wanted to focus on hearth health benefits of walnuts for the holiday; but walnuts just have so much goodness! So, keep enjoying those omega-rich nuts in moderation! Roll out some truffles, toss a batch in the freezer to keep on hand for later, and enjoy a cozy weekend!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
(slow and steady does it! It's not a race to heal your body!)
But, you body IS made to detoxify and cleanse itself naturally. And you CAN do some things to help promote these functions!
Usually DETOXING is the process of loosening undesirable toxins from being stored in the body. Undesirables can be medicines, alcohol, pollution, chemicals, pesticides (go organic when you can!).
(or on a less book-nerdy level, burnt matches!)
But sulfur is a molecule the liver uses to detoxify the body of a wide range of prescription medications, pesticides, and other types of environmental toxins. Other sulfur-continuing foods include onions and garlic. Studies are now also looking to turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice as helpful for the liver detoxing.
And CLEANSING is often your body purging those toxins out of your body completely.
So primarily, your intestines and skin are important routes for disposal. You want to keep these pathways healthy. When I counsel women suffering from constipation, I always recommend “The 3 F’s: Fluids, Fiber, and Fitness.” Fluids keep things soft; fiber helps push it through; and aerobics (even just walking) can also help stimulate movement. These three items work together to help your intestinal tract and eliminations moving efficiently. Go for that Smooooth move!
Regarding skin, general hygiene keeps your pores open so they can provide a way for toxins to leave. Sweating is good! (I hear my little sister groaning now, ahh, the sweet sound!) ;-) But seriously, it can help get some of the junk out, just be sure to wash it off as soon as you can rather than letting your body reabsorb it! And try to avoid caking your face in a make-up once in a while to let your skin breathe! So, due to its skin benefits, yesterday’s Skin-So-Smoothie recipe could possibly even be considered a “Cleansing” drink!
There has been suspicion that there is a link between dairy and acne. There still needs to be more research done to be sure, but one study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology looked at 47,355 women (that’s a lot o’ estrogen!) and compared their dairy intake to acne history. They looked at milk, instant breakfast drink, sherbet, cottage cheese, and cream cheese and all were positively associated with acne. They said “We hypothesize that the association with milk may be because of the presence of hormones and bioactive molecules in milk.” Hmmm… so, if you’re going for the dairy, AT LEAST please grab the organic, hormone-free variety! …But I digress…
Detoxing and Cleansing are very detailed topics in the nutrition world, so I really only touch on them here. But I hope that covers some of the basics, at least! Remember: your body loves you; love it back! :)
I’m sorry if I have disillusioned any “sexy” ideas of detoxing and cleansing. There really aren’t magic bullets, and natural health is best! Your body is made to take care of itself – just don’t overdo the harmful things! And help it along with the right healthy lifestyle.
But, if you want an “unsexy” sounding detox plan… well, try this plan for 7 days and let me know how you feel!
The Unsexy Detox:
1.Eliminate these “toxins”:
-Fast food/highly processed foods
-Foods with added sugars – cookies, cakes, candy, etc
-Refined starches – white flour, white rice, white pasta
2. Drink plenty of fluids
–aim mostly for water (plain or with some lemon, lime, cucumber, mint, etc), and maybe a little tea -Listen to your body, but usually the average recommendation is 6 to 8 8-ounce cups daily.
3. Eat real foods with plenty of fiber
-fruits, veggies, seeds, whole grains
–try some fun grains! Quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat…
4. Get AT LEAST the recommended 5 fruits or veggies daily, if not more!
-Have a green smoothie with some extra kale and collard greens!
-See if you can get 10 servings in! (C’mon, all those smoothie recipes will usually have at least 4-5 servings for just one recipe!)
5. If you need meat, eggs, or dairy, make sure it’s the lean versions, and go organic and hormone free!
Do that, and I bet you’ll feel better (after the first few days), and likely, you’ll drop some weight!
Ok, so that was a long one. But I hope you start to apply some of the ideas and remember how much food can affect your health! Enjoy some whole, healing foods and save that dessert for this Valentine’s weekend!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Skin So Smoothie
3 c. grapes (organic red grapes with seeds are best)
2 collard green leaves
1 c. spinach
1 Tbs flax oil
Throw it all in a blender, and blend it all! I added ice to chill mine.
Grapes: So many benefits in that red skin! And I could probably do an entire post about the health properties. But for today, I’m looking at the grape seeds. The oil in grape seeds is commonly found in facial products because of its beautifying benefits. I talked with a woman who makes her own soaps, trained by her Cherokee grandmother who was a medicine woman for her tribe. She says “You are right about the grapeseed oil. It is VERY good for your skin, hair, nails. It is one of the 11 oils that go into my lotions for its healing properties.” So can you get these benefits by ingesting rather than applying topically? Sure! Beauty really does start from the inside, and can be compounded by the products you use on the outside. Grape seeds and skins also are anti-microbial, helping you’re your pores and cells stay healthy! Additionally, grapes are rich in antioxidants which will help protect your skin from aging oxidative damage to the cells (fine lines, wrinkles, and less firmly toned skin). They are also rich in manganese, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and promotes optimal functioning of your thyroid gland.
Lemons: rich in enzymes, also help stimulate your liver function; and your liver is one of your main organs to rid your body of waste and toxins, and burns fat. They are also packed with the powerful antioxidant Vitamin C. And the Mayo Clinic states that research now suggests a diet rich in vitamin C may promote younger looking skin.
Collard Greens and Spinach: These are rich in vitamin A, which is very important to skin health. It helps with tissue repair, and the formation of skin-tightening collagen and elastin, fibers that help support skin structure. And collards, being from the same family as kale, have strong properties that help your liver detoxify your body.
Flax Oil: Rich in omega-3s and omeg-6s in a healthy balance, these essential fatty acids (EFAs) are beneficial for many parts of your body! One of those benefits being healthy skin. EFAs help with healthy cell membranes, which helps the cells no only work as a barrier for harmful things, but to allow nutrients to cross, and let waste out of the cells. It also will help hold the healthy waters in, keeping cells hydrated and firm.
And of course, the whole beverage is water-rich produce, so that adds extra hydration to your body, keeping joints, eyes, cell, and everything supple and lubricated! The healthier you are inside, the more it will show outside! But it does take time. You won’t notice huge changes overnight, as your body is going to be more concerned with healing your inner cells first. But over time, you will notice your outward appearance picking up the healthy glow!
Drink up :) And keep that hydration going here in these cold, dry days!
Monday, February 8, 2010
30 minutes of moderate walking (3 mph) burns: 100 calories
30 minutes of elliptical machine: 210 calories
30 minutes of moderate biking (12-13 mph): 250 calories
30 minutes of jogging (6 mph): 310 calories
Replenishing drinks, if you insist on drinking them, are more for workouts that last longer than 30 minutes and if you have been working quite intensely and sweating heavily. If you only workout 30 minutes, water is sufficient for rehydrating. Don’t let the calories of these drinks sabotage your workout. Be label savvy!
Saturday, February 6, 2010
So today I decided to do my juice a little differently.
Most people buy their orange juice from the store. But, have you ever had fresh squeezed orange juice?! Oh so yum! But, when you juice a fruit, you leave out so much! You're getting mostly water and natural sugars with some vitmains - but you leave out the fiber and some of the great phytochemicals with it!
So today, rather than juice my oranges, I just blended them! (Can you tell I love my blender? Yeah, I probably use it 3-5 times a week.) Leave on some of the white pithy parts - that's good fiber! And you get all the lovely pulp blended up nice and smooth. It's actually almost a creamy juice with all of that :)
And to chill it, you can either pour it over ice, and ice and make it more of a slushy, or - my fun twist for the day - I used frozen mango! So simple, so good, so healthy.
Oranges are extremely rich in that wonderful antioxidant, vitamin C, packing over 100% of the RDA recommendations in one fruit! (Varies by size, of course. But that’s your average fruit.) Another compontent in oranges, the molecule herperidin, is now being studied for it's ability to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as work as an anti-inflammatory agent. But herperidin is found more in that white pith and the peel, so try to keep what you can of that white goodness! Don’t worry, once you blend it all up, you don’t notice any bitter traces.
Mango has that lovely beauty combo: vitamin A and vitamin C, good for tissue health and bone health. And the beta carotene is also great for healthy vision. And the extra 3g of fiber in mangos never hurts, either!
Orange Juice With a Twist
1 orange, peeled and quartered (get out what seeds you can)
1/2 c frozen, chopped mango
water to blend
Drink up! This is a great variation on a weekend morning juice :)
Friday, February 5, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Ahhh, Devo, the crazy Ohio-based group who brought us “Whip It.” Love the lego-like “Energy Domes” guys. :)
Carolyn made a comment about eating lemons, and the potential danger to teeth. And so I thought I’d bring some of those comment to light!
My first instinct is, use a straw! I pretty much always drink my lemon water, smoothies, and sometimes even tea through a straw. This helps keep the foods off the teeth, which both saves you from potential damage as well as potential discoloration.
And how bad is lemon for the teeth?
Well, as we looked up, lemon has about the same pH (acidic) level as pop! They both range between 2-3 depending on the exact lemon or cola type.
To get a feel for what that is – water is a 7; stomach acid is 1-3, and battery acid is around 1. So, if you feel comfortable chugging down a cola (or battery acid!) without a straw, then you shouldn’t worry about the lemon water. Perhaps you have already lost your teeth from such drinking… ;-) But, on the other hand, I’d rather encourage you to drink both from straws (the pop and lemon, of course! No battery acid recommendations here!!) and then work to eliminate cola all together!
Save your teeth. Collect the whole set.
Smile big and brightly, my friends! It’s Friday eve!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
After a very early morning (had to get up at 5:30am), I was dragging. Not as badly as I expected, possibly due to all the salads and smoothies, but still! Coffee called my name. I don't normally drink much coffee (acidic, possibly demineralizing to your body - read "bad for skin, bones, health, etc") and I wish I had opted for green tea instead. Oh well, I only drank half a cup for now, and hopefully can just keep pushing water and my healthy snacks until I can get to bed tonight!
Ah well, on to the fun of label laws!
Today's term and its confusing (ok, today, it's more like disgusting!) meaning:
Ever looked at the ingredient list for hot dogs? At the top of the list, is the oh-so-yummy phrase "mechanically separated" meat. The USDA defines this as a tantalizing "paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones with attached edible meat under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue."
When the mad cow disease was a risk, the government decided beef could no longer be mechanically separated, but they still do it with pork.
Well, gee golly! Spear me one o' thems and throw it on the bar-B-Q! Sounds mighty tasty!
Actually... I'll pass...
Have a good, natural afternoon!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
A star fruit, that is!
-and star fruit.
Quite a simple dish!
I have gone over all the lovely benefits of bananas in a previous post, but to touch on it again - they're good for the heart, rich in potassium and B6 (good for the nerves, building up healthy blood cells, and helping you break down proteins), have some vitamin C, and are a decent source of fiber!
Blackberries, like all berries - rich antioxidant food! Just don't mind the seeds...
And today's guest star: the star fruit! Also know and Carambola, it's a tropical fruit rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, flavonoids, and also a good 15% of your daily needs of fiber in one little pretty star-shaped package. If you pick a star fruit from the store, look for one that's mostly yellow with perhaps a little browning on the ridges. If there are brown spots, yuck, ya got yourself an over-ripe fruit! If it's too green, it's not quite ready for you to indulge on. Nice plus? You can eat the skin! Zero-prep time! Well, okay - 20 seconds to rinse it off, because you should always rinse off your produce.
I have read various descriptions for the flavor of this fruit, and well, everyone seems to have a different opinion! My thought was the texture somewhat like an orange, with a bit of a sweet melon-like flavor... but that's not quite it. So, I recommend you just go out and try it for yourself :)
When you wish upon a staaaaar.....!
Monday, February 1, 2010
Today I just wanted to touch on a quick topic: breakfast - essential or not?
Most of us have heard over and over "eat your breakfast!" "Breakfast is a key to losing weight!" and other such promotions of breakfast. And yes, nutrition in the morning is good - helps your mind, body, and energy! ...But only once you're ready for it!
Intuitive eating is becoming the new focus for dietitians in helping counsel their clients. Learning to listen to the body, to wait until you're feeling true hunger to eat and then to listen to your body when it tells you to stop, even if there's still food on the plate! And breakfast is as good a meal as any to listen to your body!
Sunday night went out with a bang - weekends are hard for me to stick to healthy eating! But I ate late at night, and ate a bunch of heavy foods. When I got up this morning, well, I was not hungry! So, I didn't eat right away and instead, sipped on water, and then brought a smoothie with me to work. I did not want to be forced to wait for lunch to get the health and nutrition I need, but I also didn't want to overwhelm my bloated tummy. No, skipping meals is not a great idea. But neither is forcing yourself to eat just because "it's time to" If you are able to, take snacks for when you DO get hungry! Take an apple to work; keep a bag of baby carrots in the fridge; snack on a small bag of nuts, have food available for when you are hungry.
So what do you do about breakfast when you're not hungry? Well, make sure you will be hungry! What did you have for dinner? Lots of dense, heavy foods? What time did you eat dinner? Late? Try eating earlier so you have time to digest your food so that you CAN be hungry in the morning! I know, I know - night time is the hardest time to fight those cravings :) But you can do it! Let your body have the night to rest and recover - not get back logged with processing heavy meals and desserts!
You'll sleep better and feel better!