Monthly Archives: March 2014
For years, health experts preached that a low-fat diet was the gateway to health. They proclaimed fats as the enemy, linking them to cardiovascular and other diseases. The food industry jumped on this “theory” and bombarded us with fat-free and low-fat “food” options. A walk down the supermarket aisle will confirm our obsession with fat-free foods. To ensure that flavor was not compromised, sugars were added in increasing amounts. So, while our low-fat options exploded, so did obesity rates, as well as other related illnesses. Clearly, low-fat did not deliver the promised results. We now know that healthy fats DO NOT make us fat. In fact, they are one of the three macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and protein, that your body NEEDS to function at optimal levels. And, truth be told, fats help us stay slim!!
So, why do we need fats in our diets, how much is enough, and what kind of fats should we incorporate into a balance eating plan?
Fats provide essential fatty acids, protect your heart, keep your skin and hair soft and subtle, lubricate your joints, protect your nervous system, and protect cell membranes from inflammation. Fats deliver vitamins A, D, E, and K to your cells and are also are a great source of energizing fuel. So, you can see that your body really can’t function without them!
THE BAD FATS:
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of fats. The SAD diet (Standard American Diet) consists mainly of artery-clogging saturated and trans fats. Why? Because they taste so good and are widely available in our food supply. Fats, together with sodium and sugars, enhance the flavors of foods and keep you coming back for more.
Most of us have heard about bad saturated fats. Usually solid at room temperature, these are found in animal products such as meat and diary. New research, however, shows that some saturated fats, such as coconut oil, can be metabolized by the body faster than others, hence they are rarely stored as fat. Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been altered though the process of hydrogenation to extend their shelf life. These should be avoided at all costs, as they are associated with heart disease and related illnesses (think: packaged cookies, pastries, muffins, candy bars, and cakes).
Healthy unsaturated fats play a huge role in your overall health and well-being. They are either polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats and are considered good fats because they help lower cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Polyunsaturated fats provide us with essential fatty acids, essential meaning we must get them from our diet as our body does not manufacture them. These fatty acids keep your brain functioning well and aid in the healthy growth and development of your body. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, as well as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, are central to reducing inflammation and heart disease. It’s always best to get your omega-3s from food, but supplement if you need to. Most people get too many omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils and margarine. Yikes! Monounsaturated fats are found in peanut butter, nuts, olive oil, sesame oil, and avocado.
For good health and a balanced diet, it is important to get fats from both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated sources. Keep in mind, though, that even the good fats should be eaten in moderation. All fats are calorie dense at 9 calories a gram, so expert guidelines suggest that 20-35 percent of your daily calories come from fat, with no more that 10 percent coming from saturated fats. And remember, the next time you are in the supermarket and spot a fat-free or low-fat label on a food item, take that as a red flag and your cue to run as fast as you can to the fresh produce section!
Delicious Treats Your Taste Buds Will Thank You For
1/3–1/2 C raw honey, to taste
2 to 3 tbsp cocoa powder, to taste
Dash of Celtic sea salt, cinnamon, and vanilla
2 C raw coconut flakes
1 C raw, slivered almonds
Mix the first five ingredients well, then add coconut and almonds. Stir well. Form into little balls and enjoy!
Almond Butter or Walnut Butter or Pecan Butter
1 C raw almonds, ground
¼- ½ C raw honey
Dash of Celtic sea salt, cinnamon, and vanilla
Blend in the blender until smooth.
The almonds can be replaced with walnuts, pecans, or other raw nuts. Add cocoa powder for chocolate butter. Add raw cacao nibs, Maca powder, and chia seeds for superfoods.
Cook homemade applesauce with apples, water, honey, and dash of Celtic sea salt, cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla. Dehydrate the applesauce on a sheet in a dehydrator for 12 hours. Can use alternate fruits such as peace, grape, strawberries, etc.
Sunflower Seed Brittle
1 C raw sunflower seeds
½ C raw coconut chips
2 tbsp sesame seeds
¼ – ½ C honey
Dash of Celtic sea salt, cinnamon, and vanilla
Mix well. Bake in oven for 20-30 min. at 250°F. Cool and enjoy!
4 C old-fashioned oats
1 ½ C sliced almonds
½ tsp Celtic sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Mix these ingredients well.
¼ C coconut oil
½ – ¾ C honey
Whisk in 1 tsp. vanilla.
Pour liquid mixture over oat mixture. Spread in 10×15 bar pan. Bake at 300°F for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Add ½ C raisins or dried cranberries when cool.
Dehydrated Fruits & Vegetables
Wash and cut fruit. Place in dehydrator on parchment paper under 115°F for 12 -18 hours.
Your Wellness Warrior
One way to develop an eye-catching mid-section, strengthen your core and back regions is to incorporate abdominal exercises that work all areas. These exercises develop your core and tighten the tummy, which is designed as a stand-alone workout or add to your circuit training workouts. I also love to do these exercises as part of my 3 and 11-day detox programs alternating with yoga or gentle walk in order to flush out the toxins and keep me moving.
The first exercise is what I refer to as the Jack Knife sit-up. Lay on your back. Hands and feet meet in the center. Slowly extend arms and legs away from center of body. Don’t touch floor with arms or feet. Hold and bring back to center. Do these for 1 minute. Try to do 25-30 reps. If you are a beginner, bend the knees and bring them up to midline and back down.
Leg extension with a workout bar is to use a bar and hold the bar in front of you and just lower the legs while keeping the hands and workout bar in place overhead at waist level. Drop legs 6” from floor, hold then bring back up to the bar. If you don’t have a bar, place hands under lower back and lower legs to floor, approximately 6” from the floor and back up to mid-line. Do each exercise for 1 minute/rest for 1 minute.
Now take the same bar and alternate it from side to side in order to work the oblique.
If you are a beginner, stop when you need to rest and then continue to complete as many reps as you can in 1 minute.
Another great abdominal exercise you can do if you don’t have a bar is to simply do the Classic Scissor Crunch. Lay on floor, hands on head not behind head, so you can avoid pulling the neck and alternate legs to elbow. Right elbow to left knee and reverse, count that as 1 rep. What I refer to as a double count. Do for 1 minute. 25-30 reps.
The next exercise is great for your whole core, The Classic Plank. When done with the scissor crunch, flip over on your mat, place hands under shoulders, lift lower body in straight line, flat back and hold for 1 minute.
The last one is the Classic Crunch. Lay down on your mat, knees bent, hands on head so you don’t pull the neck, lift ½ way and back down, repeat. Complete as many as you can in 1 minute.
Complete all exercises, each one for 1 minute/1 minute rest between exercises. When you are done with all exercises, you will have completed one (1) circuit. Rest after each circuit for 2-4 minutes. Repeat circuit 2 more times up to 5. Complete 2-3 times a week and you on your way to an eye-catching mid-section, while strengthening your core and lower back region.
Eating Healthy When You Are Crazy Busy
I wanted to share some tips with you for when you are really busy but still want to eat healthy, because it makes you feel GREAT to keep eating healthy, right?!
And we aren’t going to let “being busy” stop us from feeling great, right?!
Well, I have some tips for ya on what you can eat to stay healthy when you are busy!
So fast, just pour some coconut water, rice milk or hemp milk into the blender, then throw in your fruits AND some veggies (spinach, cucumber, romaine lettuce, just to name a few).
Add some protein if you like (hemp seed or chia seed, or maybe a scoop of hemp protein powder) and some healthy fats (avocado, coconut milk. or the proteins I mentioned before which also have you covered on the healthy-fat front!).
For extra flavor, add some vanilla extract or dash of cinnamon.
Chop up a bunch of lettuce – romaine or red leaf – and add some spinach. Pile on some other veggies – tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, sliced beets, bell peppers, onions…whatever you like.
Add some protein. Choose pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, cooked organic chicken breast, kidney beans, sprouts, a hard-boiled egg, or salmon or tuna.
Make a quick dressing with stone-ground mustard, olive oil, and a couple sprays of Bragg’s Amino Acids (or just a bit of sea salt if you don’t have Bragg’s or can’t find it). Toss it all together and eat.
If you chop the veggies in bulk you can make a couple salads at a time, don’t add the dressing to them yet, and they usually last a couple days.
Know where you can get healthy take-out.
This could be from a nearby restaurant (I love my local Vietnamese restaurant and it’s really close and inexpensive) or you could find a place like Gourmet Any Day in Amesbury, MA, which I recently explored and am now in love with!! They prepare healthy food to go. I stopped by this afternoon and picked up a couple dishes to tide me over the next few days. They have many dairy & gluten-free dishes. Their portions will keep you on track but you can also get a medium or large size meal if you want to have extra leftovers.
No, it’s not quite as cheap as buying and preparing it yourself, but if you are a busy person (OR you just don’t enjoy cooking) and would just spend the money on junky fast food or pizza delivery, then it’s a much better value.
It’s always the small habits that add up. Don’t let yourself fall back into old habits that cause you to not feel so great!
I’d love to hear from you, too: what do you like to eat when you are really busy?
Your Wellness Warrior
All fresh fruits and vegetables contain magical powers when it comes to shiny hair, clear skin, and strong nails. However, the ones I’ve chosen below are perhaps not as well known for their powerful beauty benefits. Try and include these foods into your diet if you want to look your best without the need for botox or other unnatural remedies.
- Red Peppers. All red and orange colored foods contain beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Red peppers are particularly beautifying due to the minerals A, C, and K. Vitamins A and C can help prevent cell damage that leads to premature ageing, and they can also reduce inflammation, which can cause a puffy-looking face. Pepper also has Vitamin K, which is an excellent property for protecting our cells from damage.
- Spinach. All leafy greens are actually very powerful in terms of being a beauty food because of the chlorophyll they contain. There are also loads of other phytochemicals and fiber in spinach that help build blood that is super clean and which will show through in your skin.
- Turmeric. This yellow-colored, Indian spice has a load of powerful antioxidant qualities. Turmeric assists in protecting our cells from free radical damage and also contributes towards cleaning up metabolic waste in our systems. It is also great as a liver flusher to get rid of any poisons and chemicals which are stored there.
- Pumpkin Seeds. Wow, these really are powerful. What don’t pumpkin seeds have in them?! The humble pumpkin seed contains high levels of zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B, C, and E. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids, all essential for healthy cell maintenance. Make a handful of pumpkin seeds a regular part of your diet, and you will definitely notice a change in your appearance.
- Parsley. Next time your plate is garnished with parsley, don’t push it aside. This is a pretty powerful herb when it comes to anti-aging, as well as purifying and cleansing the body. It contains vitamins A and C as well as anti-oxidizing flavonoids that protect our cells from free radical damage. Parsley also helps to purify the blood, kill bacteria, aid digestion, and cleanse toxins from the liver.
The best thing is that all these foods are easy to incorporate into your diet. Add turmeric to juice and combine the other foods with some other fixings to make a great, beautifying salad. Who said that beauty was hard to keep?
Your Wellness Warrior
We’ve all heard the expression “you are what you eat”, and your skin is no exception.
Simple Fact: Your skin is your largest organ. It is our protective covering and our first line of defense to fight illness and disease. It is also a passageway to our bloodstream. That being said, what you apply topically on your skin, as well as what you eat, will affect the overall health & appearance of your skin.
Let’s get started from the inside out.
A quote from one of my favorite skin docs: “Certain foods have powerhouse ingredients that keep skin supple and smooth and help fight age-related damage”, says Nicholas Perricone, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and author of “Ageless Face, Ageless Mind”.
First off, we need to HYDRATE the skin. That means drinking plenty of water.
You need at least the recommended 6-8 glasses/day. If you are physically active, live in a warm climate, or feel thirsty, you may need to up your daily intake.
Also, as we age, skin tends to become dehydrated a lot more quickly, causing it to wrinkle, so ample hydration is key.
Eat your superfoods!
If it’s good for your health, it’s good for your skin too!
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish, such as herring, sardines, and salmon. Other sources of omega-3s include flaxseeds & walnuts. Omega-3s are known to decrease inflammation and may reduce the risk of acne and other skin problems.
Vitamin C helps produce collagen & prevents cells from damage caused by free radicals. Great sources are oranges, pineapples, tomato, strawberries, & bell peppers.
Vitamin E helps limit sun damage & signs of aging. Almonds are a terrific source of Vitamin E.
Vitamin A revitalizes skin by increasing cell production and rebuilds tissue. Eggs and dark leafy greens are good choices.
Beta-Carotene is needed for growth & repair of tissue. It is found in abundance in orange foods like carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, and cantaloupe.
Other fabulous foods to include to boost your skin health: dark leafy vegetables, avocados, mushrooms, berries, and, surprise, dark chocolate.
Did you know that your skin is a “breathable” organ?
Up to 60% of what you apply topically on your skin will be absorbed into your bloodstream, and children absorb even more than that!!!!
Imagine that products you’ve been using for years actually contain harmful ingredients and could damage your health. If so, your first instinct would be to find a healthier alternative, pronto!
Heightened awareness and potential dangers have caused consumers to take a closer look at what they put on their skin and demand safer alternatives.
Many cosmetic companies do NOT list their ingredients, aka toxic chemicals, because they are not required to do so.
Several of these toxic chemicals are linked to a host of problems including: allergies, skin rashes, cancer, headaches, fertility & reproductive issues, birth defects, hormone inhibitors, and more.
Some toxic chemicals that should be avoided:
- Parabens – often found in deodorants & moisturizers, parabens are hormone inhibitors & believed to accelerate tumor growth
- Artificial fragrance & color – may trigger allergies, asthma, and some colors contain lead & harmful dyes
- Toulene – found in nail polish, hair color products, and some fragrances, this chemical is linked to kidney & liver damage, which may affect fetal growth
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate – a foaming agent found in shampoos and body/facial washes, it dries out the skin & is linked to eczema, hair- loss, rashes, and dry and scaly skin.
- Formaldehyde – used as a preservative, formaldehyde is known by several different names & should be avoided at all costs, as the side effects are numerous
- PEG’s – found in numerous skin & personal care products, this is anti-freeze and should be used in for your car, not your skin!
- Paraffin/Mineral Oil/Petrolatum – clogs pores, causing toxic build-up
- Phthalates – found in plastics, it is a known hormone disruptor
- Triclosan – used in anti-bacterial products, it is a pesticide, harmful to the environment, and a suspected carcinogenic
- Sunscreens –Google some of those ingredients and you will see that they cause possible damage to DNA and many are known carcinogens
*****Of course, there are more, but you get the point. If you wouldn’t EAT it, it doesn’t belong on your SKIN.*****
You can look up what’s in your skin care by visiting one of my favorite sites: http://www.ewg.org
You can also check out this great line of skin care products that are organic and work amazingly well! I use them every day. Pangea Organics
You may have heard the news…the avocado crops are suffering from the crazy weather this winter. We’ll still be able to find them in stores, but we can also expect to pay more for them. And, they are totally worth it!
- I love that your decadence tastes sinfully delicious, yet it’s the “healthiest” of fats.
- I love that you make my skin beautiful. The antioxidants in avocados help to get rid of toxins that promote premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. A lot of the toxins on your facial skin are the residue of makeup. Applying 1 mashed avocado as a facial mask and leaving it on for about 20 minutes before rinsing will help to remove these toxins and soften the skin. I promise, in the end, you will not look like the Wicked Witch of the West.
- I love to use you as a spread on my Ezekiel bread toast with a sprinkle of pink Himalayan sea salt, and red pepper flakes.
- I love that you make my hair shiny. One avocado mashed and mixed together with 1 egg and your favorite essential oil is great for conditioning your hair. The healthy oils in the avocado help to moisturize and soften dry and brittle hair, and the vitamin E helps to restore a natural shine to your hair. To obtain these benefits simply massage the avocado and egg mixture into your hair and scalp and leave in for about 20 minutes. Then wash and condition with your favorite shampoo and conditioner.
- I love to use you in my salads. Any kind of salad.
- I love to use you on my sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.
- I love that you complete me. Avocados provide all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. Unlike the protein in steak, which is difficult for most people to digest, avocado protein is readily absorbed by the body, because avocados also contain fiber. If you are trying to cut down on animal sources of protein in your diet, or if you are a vegetarian or vegan seeking more protein, avocados are a great nutritional ally to include not merely as an occasional treat, but as a regular part of your diet. Highest protein content of any fruit (yes, it’s a fruit).
- I love to use you in my smoothies to add some creamy richness.
- I love to scramble you in my egg white omelet.
- I love that you help me with my ABCs. While avocados have a high caloric count (one avocado is 320 calories), the various nutrients and “healthy” fats make it a must-eat. They are an alphabet of vitamins. One avocado provides your body with vitamins A, C, E, K and B6, along with an enormous amount of potassium and “healthy” fat. Perhaps the biggest health benefit of avocados is that by adding avocado to certain foods, you can improve your absorption of nutrients. This means that when you combine other fat burning foods with avocado, you can improve your nutrient absorption up to 400%!
Oh, yes, I truly do love you.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and sometimes it just doesn’t fit into our schedule the way it should. How we begin the day will determine how the rest of the day goes. It will determine if we feel energized or if we feel dragging with a lack of energy. What we put in our bellies is directly related to how we physically feel. So if you are a “skip breakfast and grab the coffee mug” morning person then this blog is totally for you.
We all need and crave energy. I know I do! Sometimes it is so easy to want to grab a quick bowl of cereal or even forget breakfast and just get through the morning on 1-2 cups of coffee for the energy needed to survive the day. I don’t want you to just survive through the day though; I want you to thrive through the day. I also don’t want you to go on the “crash and crave” roller coaster for the entire day. If you begin your morning with caffeinated coffee and sugar, you will crash, and you will be either too tired to make it through your responsibilities or you will be reaching for another cup of coffee to get through a few more hours.
Smoothies are another quick alternative to a fast breakfast that can help energize us throughout the entire day. When you toss in some greens, a little fruit, and a healthy liquid like coconut water you are bound to feel energetic and ready to take on the day. Starting the day with a smoothie also gives you well needed antioxidants which help protect our bodies from free radicals, and it is a great low glycemic start. Eating a low glycemic breakfast will help curb your sugar cravings for the entire day and it will also help with not crashing.
Next time you want a quick breakfast, try a delicious smoothie that will leave you feeling energized and motivated. A morning smoothie will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to produce natural energy and naturally boost your metabolism. So, what are you reaching for tomorrow morning? I know I will be pulling out my blender and getting ready for some long lasting energy.
I’d love for you to try one of my favorite smoothie recipes!