Oven Roasted Sesame Salmon and Broccoli

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Looking to incorporate more fish into your diet? Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which lower inflammation and are amazing for brain health, heart health… overall health!

Oven Roasted Sesame Salmon and Broccoli


Serves 4

4 salmon fillets
4 cups broccoli florets
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste
½ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove
½ inch piece of fresh ginger
1 small carrot, chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 scallions, chopped
2 teaspoons tamari
1 tablespoon honey
4 cups cooked pasta (any shape) or brown rice

PREHEAT OVEN. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

ROAST SALMON, BROCCOLI, AND ONION. Massage salmon, broccoli florets, and onion with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Lay mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 20 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

BLEND DRESSING. Add sunflower seeds, apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, carrot, sesame oil, scallions, tamari, and honey to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Add water, if needed to thin out the dressing to your liking.

ASSEMBLE MEAL. Place cooked pasta or brown rice into a large serving bowl. Pour the blended dressing over the top and mix well. Serve topped with roasted salmon, broccoli, and onion.

Israeli Salad

I adore this simple salad.  It is crisp and flavorful and easy to make.  In the summer, I serve it with grilled fish or chicken. In colder weather, I use it as a healthy side to lighten up heavy meals.  This fresh, light, and colorful salad is sure to become a favorite for your family.

Ingredients

  • 1 container cherry tomatoes, cut in half or chopped tomatoes of your choice

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped

  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Sea Salt to taste

Optional Additions

  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

  • avocado

  • yellow or orange bell pepper, finely chopped

  • shredded purple cabbage

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

  • taboulleh

Stir together tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze lemon juice over salad and stir. Drizzle oil over salad and stir.

Why I love this:   Each ingredient in the salad has unique health benefits. Fresh cucumbers are full of water, and a good source of fiber.  Tomatoes provide Vitamin C, A, and cancer fighting lycopene.  Parsley is a great source of Vitamin K.  It also contains Vitamins C and A, Folate, and anti-oxidants. Lemon juice is full of Vitamin C, antioxidants, and potassium.  Olive oil provides a nice dose of healthy fat!

Want to lose weight, get healthy, and transform your life?  Sign up for my newsletter and get weekly tips, tricks, and support from me!

Magnesium 101

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Magnesium 101: What You Really Need to Know

Magnesium is one of those nutrients we don’t hear about too much, despite the fact that it’s one of the most important minerals for our bodies.

Magnesium is a powerful mineral responsible for over 300 different functions of the body. In fact, every organ in the body needs magnesium. It helps keep your blood pressure normal, your bones strong, your immune system in check, and your heart rhythm steady. It’s kind of a big deal, and a magnesium deficiency can wreak havoc on your body.


So what role does magnesium play?
AND….Do you need to be consuming magnesium or taking supplements?
Let’s find out…


● Magnesium helps lower our stress levels. In fact, magnesium is often referred to as the “relaxation mineral.” Serotonin, which is a natural mood stabilizer found mostly in our digestive system, requires magnesium for its production. Therefore, it is recommended that we take magnesium to help manage our stress, anxiety, and mood disorders. In turn, a magnesium deficiency can affect our stress level and emotional state.
● Magnesium is used in hospitals and given to patients intravenously who are having heart palpitations – the magnesium helps slow down their heart rate.
● Magnesium is necessary for numerous chemical reactions in our body, including making DNA.
● Magnesium helps maintain our brain function by relaying signals between our body and our brain. It prevents overstimulation of nerve cells, which could result in brain damage.
● Magnesium helps regulate muscle contractions – it opposite to calcium to help our muscles relax. Magnesium is commonly recommended for treating muscle cramps.
● Magnesium has also been linked to helping reduce the risk of many diseases, including arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. Several studies have shown that migraine headaches are associated with low levels of magnesium.


Despite magnesium being abundant in our body, many people don’t get enough of it.
Some studies say that up to 68% of adults don’t get enough magnesium in accordance with the recommended daily intake (RDI).


So how much magnesium should we be consuming on a daily basis to keep our body functioning as it should?


Adult men should consume 420 mg/day, while adult women should consume 320 mg/day.


There could be consequences from consuming too much magnesium or not enough magnesium:
● Too much magnesium can cause various symptoms, including diarrhea.

● A magnesium deficiency (called hypomagnesemia) could lead to various health conditions, including muscle twitches and cramps, osteoporosis, fatigue, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.

Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:

Muscle spasms and cramps
Migraines and headaches
Anxiety & depression
High blood pressure
Hormone problems
Sleep issues
Low energy
Bone loss

Now that we know the importance of magnesium, where do we find magnesium?

Research shows that supplementation with an effective, absorbable magnesium can bring freedom from symptoms of deficiency and improve conditions linked to low magnesium levels.


And here’s good news! There are plenty of magnesium-rich natural food sources.


● Pumpkin seeds (check out the recipe below for making Creamy Pumpkin Seed Butter)
● Raw almonds and cashews (raw nuts are better than roasted nuts – roasted nuts lose magnesium during the roasting process)
● Dark chocolate
● Black beans, peas, and soybeans
● Green leafy vegetables (spinach)
● Whole grains (oat bran)
● Herbs (coriander, chives, dill, sage)

Magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin, so consider using a magnesium oil or lotion that contains magnesium. Or, take an epsom salt bath which is rich in magnesium.


However, the easiest (and yummiest) way of getting in your daily magnesium - is to include plenty of food sources high in this multi-tasking mineral, such as this Creamy Pumpkin Seed Butter!
________________________________________
RECIPE:
Creamy Pumpkin Seed Butter
Ingredients:
2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
1-2 tsp. oil (grapeseed or olive)
Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet.
3. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden.
4. Cool for 15-20 minutes.
5. Put the pumpkin seeds in a food processor.
6. Run the food processor for approximately 4-5 minutes, until the pumpkin seeds begin to have the texture of butter. If necessary, stop the food processor and scrape the sides.
7. Continue running the food processor for another 2-5 minutes until the pumpkin seeds have the texture of butter. Add some of the oil, as needed, until the desired consistency is obtained.

REFERENCES:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-magnesium-do

http://www.magnesium.ca/

Creamy Zucchini Soup

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Who says it is too hot to eat a soup in summer? This delicious and creamy Zucchini soup can be served hot or cold, and comes together in about 15 minutes!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
4 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh dill, plus more for serving
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
Lemon juice, from 1 lemon (for serving)

Instructions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-low heat in a large pot. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Do not brown.

Add the zucchini, chicken broth, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.

Meanwhile, toast the walnuts on the stove top over medium heat in a non-stick skillet for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Be careful not to burn.

Add the dill and walnuts to the soup. Purée the soup in a blender. (Be careful when blending hot liquids....Blend in small batches to avoid overfilling the blender)

Add the lemon juice, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with dill, and serve.









Baked Salmon with Lemon And Dill

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Salmon is a delicious, rich source of protein and omega-3s, and this is a simple and elegant way to get it on the table quickly! Serve with lots of veggies on the side, of course.

Ingredients:

  • One 1 1/2-pound salmon fillet, or two 12-ounce fillets, preferably wild-caught

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

  • 1 lemon, cut into slices 3 to 4 sprigs of fresh dill, plus more for serving

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon blanc (you can substitute: fish stock, chicken stock, or water)

Directions:

Heat oven to 350
Lightly oil and season the salmon with salt and pepper.

Arrange lemon slices and fresh herbs on the bottom of a baking dish land then place the salmon, skin-side down, onto the bed of lemon and herbs.

Pour wine (or stock) into the baking dish, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake the salmon for 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Note: The best way to prevent overcooking is to check the temperature of the salmon with an internal thermometer. You want the thickest part of the salmon to read 125 degrees F. Take the salmon out of the oven and loosely cover with foil for 5 minutes (the fish will continue to cook during this time).

Serve with fresh lemon and dill.



Lessons From The World's Longest Lived

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Think living a long and healthy life well into your nineties or even one hundred years old is only for those lucky few who hit the genetic lottery? Think again.

Lifestyle factors, i.e. the things you do everyday over the long-term – can add up to increase the number of quality years in your lifespan.

Look no further than the people of Blue Zones for proof of how powerful everyday habits are when it comes to staying healthy for the long haul.

The Blue Zones are regions around the world where people have very low rates of chronic disease and live longer compared to other populations.

They are located in regions of Greece, Sardinia, Costa Rica, Japan, and California, where a large number of Seventh Day Adventists reside.

Because these communities are home to the greatest number of people who live healthfully into their nineties and even hundreds, researchers have studied them to determine just how they age so healthfully.

Do you have to live in an actual Blue Zone to guarantee longevity? Nope! You can adopt some of the well-studied lifestyle traits of these folks to promote health and longevity right where you are.

Here’s the top 10 life “hacks” of the world’s longest living people, and a blue zone recipe below:

Eat a Plant-rich Diet

Blue Zone residents eat a mostly plant-based diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. Animal foods aren’t avoided – they eat smaller portions of meat a handful of times per month.

You don’t have to become a strict vegetarian or vegan, but it’s important to eat a variety of plant foods daily - they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants that help decrease inflammation and protect you from chronic disease, like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

A simple rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal. Yep, every meal!

Include Healthy Fats

Eat heart healthy unsaturated and omega-3 fats in the form of olive oil, nuts, and fish.

Getting enough omega-3’s helps decrease disease-causing inflammation and keeps your heart and brain healthy.

Eating enough fat also keeps you feeling fuller longer, which can help prevent overeating that leads to weight gain - bonus!

Stop Eating Before You Feel 100% Full

Avoid the clean plate club. Eating slowly chewing your food thoroughly gives your brain and stomach time to register that it’s had enough to eat.

Blue Zone communities avoid overeating and eating beyond feelings of fullness, which again, can help prevent weight gain.

Drink Red Wine

Enjoying a glass of red wine a day increases your antioxidant intake, which is thought to decrease inflammation and help prevent heart disease.

Of course, moderation is key. Six ounces of wine is considered a glass and drinking more than that can be associated with negative health effects.

Move Your Body Throughout the Day

Have you heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”? As in, it’s not good for your health to sit for extended periods of time.

Lack of physical activity and prolonged sitting is linked to weight gain, obesity, and increased mortality. Be sure to look for opportunities to add movement into your regular routines.

You might try:

● Stretching while you watch tv

● Take an after dinner evening walk

● Park farther away from your destination

● Choose stairs over elevators

● Take standing and stretching breaks at work

● Use a stand-up workstation, and fidget while you work (or dance!)

The world’s longest living people live active lives that include daily physical activities, like gardening, walking, and manual tasks.

Know Your Purpose

People in Blue Zones tend to have a strong sense of their life purpose, known as ‘ikigai’ in Okinawa or ‘plan de vida’ in Nicoya, which loosely translates to ‘why I wake up in the morning.’

"Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy." – Dan Buettner

Shed the Stress

Stress is a major cause of disease and unhappiness in the world today. It leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. Stress is a part of daily life and even people living in the Blue Zones experience stress, but it’s how they manage it that makes all the difference. The world’s longest-lived people have routine and rituals for shedding stress.

Put Your Family First

In the Blue Zones, families are kept close. This includes the aged parents and family members, who remain in the home with other family members, or live nearby. They commit to a life partner and invest lots of time and loving energy into their children.

Find Your Tribe

We all know the benefits of finding your tribe. But even more so, being with a tribe that promotes life-affirming, healthful behaviors is even more vital. Other life-affirming habits of Blue Zones people include a lack of time urgency, daily social interactions, a strong cultural community and spiritual or religious connection.

BLUE ZONE RECIPE

Mediterranean Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 15-oz cans of beans, drained and rinsed (use black beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans or chickpeas/garbanzo beans)

  • 1 english cucumber, chopped with skin on

  • 1 bell pepper, diced

  • 1 small red onion, diced

  • 1 cup cherry tomato, halved

  • 1 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped

  • ¼ cup virgin olive oil

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar

  • 2 whole cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 tsp dried oregano or 2 tsp fresh herb

  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

1. Combine beans, cucumber, pepper, onion, tomatoes, and olives in a large bowl.

2. In a small bowl or sealed jar with a lid, whisk or shake together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper.

3. Toss salad with dressing and enjoy at room temperature or refrigerate unused portions.

REFERENCES

Power 9: Reverse Engineering Longevity

Why People in “Blue Zones” Live Longer Than the Rest of the World

13 Habits Linked to a Long Life (Backed by Science)

 

Easy Chia Pudding

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This 3-ingredient, SUPER EASY chia pudding is creamy, satisfying and loaded with protein, fiber and omega-3s.

Ingredients

  • 3–4 Tablespoons chia seeds

  • 1 cup milk (I like unsweetened coconut, almond or cashew milk)

  • 1/2 Tablespoon maple syrup

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

  • Toppings of choice: fresh berries or other fruit, granola, nut butter, etc

Instructions

In a bowl or mason jar, stir together chia seeds, milk, maple syrup and vanilla, if using. If you’re using a mason jar, you can put the lid on and shake the mixture to combine everything.

Once the chia pudding mixture is well combined, let it sit for 5 minutes, give it another stir/shake to break up any clumps of chia seeds, cover and put the mixture in the fridge to “set” for 1-2 hours or overnight. The chia pudding should be nice and thick, not liquid. If it’s not thick enough, just add more chia seeds (about 1 Tablespoon), stir and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

When ready to serve top the pudding with berries and enjoy.

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Salt and Pepper Broccoli

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This delicious roasted broccoli is an easy go-to recipe and takes little to no time to make. The broccoli is fiber filled and nutrient dense then seasoned with ume plum vinegar, a staple in Japanese culture for its salty flavor.

Ingredients

2+1/2 cups broccoli florets

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons ume plum vinegar

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Directions

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Toss the chopped broccoli florets and seasonings together in a large mixing bowl, ensuring the broccoli is well coated.

3. Place a piece of parchment paper over a baking sheet and evenly spread out the broccoli pieces.

4. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, check half way through to toss.

5. They are finished when they are a little bit crispy on the edges and able to easily pierce a fork through the stem.

Spinach Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Parmesan

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Spinach Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Parmesan

This asparagus soup tastes luxurious, yet no cream — just veggies, broth and a hint of Parmesan puréed to silky perfection.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus bottom ends trimmed

  • 1 large handful spinach leaves

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 medium yellow onions, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • Salt and Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon

  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • Handful fresh herbs, such as thyme, dill or basil (optional, for garnish)

Instructions

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Do not brown; reduce the heat if necessary.

Chop the asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.

Add the chopped asparagus to the pot, along with the chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. Add the spinach and simmer for 10 additional minutes

Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Bring the soup back to a simmer and stir in the lemon juice and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. To thicken the soup, allow it to simmer, uncovered, until the desired consistency is reached.

Ladle the soup into bowls top with a sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh herbs (if using), and freshly ground black pepper.

Forest Berry Salad

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FOREST BERRY SALAD

6 cups of organic girl protein greens (or greens of choice)
2 cups mixed fresh organic berries: raspberries, blueberries and quartered strawberries
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
handful torn basil leaves
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Instructions:
Measure out greens into a large bowl.
Make the dressing: in a medium bowl whisk the vinegar and honey together, then slowly drizzle the olive oil into the bowl while continuously whisking. Whisk until dressing is emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle dressing over the greens, season with a little salt and pepper and toss. Place half of the greens in two separate bowls or plates. Layer 1/2 berries, 1/2 crumbled goat cheese, 1/2 chopped walnuts and 1/2 torn basil on each plate of greens then add the remaining half of the greens and layer remaining half of ingredients on top. Drizzle a little more dressing on top if desired.
Serves 2. Add cooked chicken to the salad to make it a full meal.
Enjoy!

Fitness Fuel: What To Eat Before, During & After Your Workout

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Fitness Fuel: What to Eat Before, During & After Your Workout

You’ve just finished your workout and you know you need to eat something. But what?

Workout nutrition may seem rather complicated but it doesn’t have to be. 

Here’s the latest on how to fuel your body before, during and after your workout so you can improve your performance, maximize recovery - and feel better!

Fuel the machine

Skipping your pre- workout fuel is the equivalent of hitting the road with an empty gas tank. You may get off to a good start, but you’ll likely be running on fumes in no time.

When you feed your body with the right nutrients before your workout, you’ll be able to lift more, run longer & faster, and speed up your gains. Plus you’ll feel so much better doing it!

So, what should you be eating Pre-workout?

Since our body’s preferred energy source is carbohydrates, your pre-workout fuel should be higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein and fat.

Protein and fat are harder for our body to digest, and this uses up extra energy that we could be putting toward our workout.

Aim to eat about an hour before your workout to give your body time to digest and absorb the nutrients.

Here are a few Pre-Workout options that work well for pre-strength or pre-cardio workouts:

●      Wholegrain rice cake with 1 Tbsp nut butter

●      Small apple and a handful of raw nuts (or nut butter)

●      ½ cup of plain oatmeal with berries

Sports Drinks or Water?

Just plain water will do the trick during your workout. Experts recommend drinking between 3-8 oz of water every 15 minutes during your sweat session.

Also, you can hold off on the sports drinks unless you’re exercising for 90 minutes or longer, or are exercising in extreme heat.

Sports drinks help to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes but are not necessary for the average gym goer.

Why not skip the sugary, neon-blue commercial sports drink all together and just whip up your own for longer, sweatier workouts?

Just grab a ½ cup pure orange juice, top with filtered water and add a pinch of sea salt or pink salt. You’ve got a DIY electrolyte replacement drink for a fraction of the cost and infinitely healthier ;-)

What to Eat after a Cardio Session

It is still recommended that you eat your post-cardio snack 30-60 minutes after finishing up.

However, you’ll be using more carbohydrate stores during a sweaty cardio workout (think running or spinning) than you would during your lifting session.

This is why you’ll need to eat a snack or meal that is 3:1 or 4:1 carb to protein ratio - similar to your pre-workout ratio.

Try one of these snacks after your next cardio workout to replenish your carbohydrate stores (glycogen) used and to help you recover faster:

●      Sprouted grain toast and nut butter

●      Whole grain crackers & 2 Tbsp hummus or bean dip

●      Small banana or apple slices and a handful of raw nuts or seeds

What to Eat After Strength Training or Lifting Weights

Once you finish that last rep, pat yourself on the back and then fuel up on the protein!  

Aim to eat within 30-60 minutes post workout to help your body recovery and to build those muscles you’ve been working so hard for. This meal should be approximately a 2:1 ratio of protein to carbohydrates.

Here are a few examples of a balanced “post-lifting” meal:

●      Grilled chicken breast or sliced deli turkey with vegetables

●      1-2 hard boiled eggs, small salad

You’ll also love this delicious smoothie - packed with protein, fiber and the anti-inflammatory benefits of tart cherries!

RECIPE

Very Cherry Recovery Smoothie

1 cup of non-dairy milk of choice

1 scoop vanilla protein powder of choice (unsweetened, less processed)

1 handful of fresh or frozen tart cherries (frozen will have a thicker consistency)

1-2 tbsp of chia seeds or hemp hearts

1 handful of greens (spinach or baby kale work well here)

2-3 ice cubes (more if you’ve used fresh cherries)

Blend, enjoy and watch those muscles grow!

REFERENCES

LiveStrong: Post Workout Carb-Protein Ratio

The Washington Post: The Best Way To Eat Before & After Exercise

CBC.ca: Sports Drinks Unnecessary, Counterproductive For Most People

 

Mango Lassi Smoothie

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MANGO LASSI SMOOTHIE

2 cups organic frozen mango
1 cup plain full fat kefir
1 cup milk of choice
2 tsp maple syrup
1 pinch cardamom

Instructions:

Place first 4 ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Sprinkle cardamom on top and enjoy!

2 servings

Edamame and Cilantro Dip

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups edamame (thawed)

  • 1/2 cup cilantro

  • 1/8 cup olive oil

  • 1/8 cup tahini

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (more to taste)

  • 1 Tablespoon tamari (more to taste)

  • 1 Tablespoon water

Instructions

Everything goes in the food processor! This dip will keep in the refridgerator for 5 days.

What That Number On The Scale Really Means

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What that number on the bathroom scale really means

We all know the frustration of working hard to maintain a healthy body weight, only to step on the bathroom scale and see the numbers going in the wrong direction - or not quickly enough in the right direction! 

Here are 6 truths about those annoyingly normal daily weight fluctuations:

1| Scale weight is not a true measurement of your health. It is simply one of many variables you should be taking into account to determine if you are approaching or maintaining your optimal body weight.

2| When you wake up after fasting - usually for around 12 hours, you're completely dehydrated and at your lowest weight of the day. This is why it’s recommended to weigh yourself first thing in the morning after you’ve voided, and before you eat or drink anything.

3| Speaking of voiding… you can experience daily weight fluctuations of 1-3+ lbs due to waste that could be lingering in your large colon. Who knew poop could be so heavy?

Be sure to keep the poop moving with plenty of fluids, plant-based fiber and targeted supplementation, if necessary. (Great recipe below that is delicious and supports your digestive system)

4| Your scale doesn't just weigh fat. It weighs muscle, bone, organs, water, and as you just learned - poop!

When you lose weight, it doesn't necessarily mean that you've lost body fat as the average bathroom scale has no way of telling you what bodily tissues you've lost. Weighing “skinny” on the scale does not always translate into healthy off the scale.

The more muscle you have the more energy your body burns, even when you're just sitting around - due to the fact that it’s a metabolically active tissue. That's one reason why a fit, active person is generally able to eat more than say the chronic dieter who is unknowingly breaking down and losing muscle.

5| Likewise, the scale can't tell if you've gained muscle.

Building muscle makes it possible to drop clothing sizes (and lose inches) without a significant change, if any, in scale weight.

THINK OF IT LIKE THIS: a pound of muscle is like a small, compact brick, whereas a pound of fat is like a bulky, lumpy pillow. So that's why when you gain muscle and lose fat, your figure appears slimmer and more firm - but your scale weight may not change much.

6| It might be your HORMONES!

Some women can gain up to 10 lbs right before or during their period. No joke. This is because of the natural drop in Progesterone just before your period often causes digestive issues like water retention and constipation. (Let’s not forget how heavy poop can be!)

Our bodies also tend to lose Magnesium in the days before menstruation, which drives our Insulin levels up leading to an increase in food cravings - especially for sugar.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that keeps blood sugar levels in check but is also considered a fat storage hormone.

THE BOTTOM LINE: these yo-yoing numbers have nothing to do with your long-term progress and they are just part of the journey.

Simply do your best to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle and understand that daily weight fluctuations are completely normal!

“The scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. That’s it.

It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, life force, possibility, strength or love.”

— Steve Maraboli

REFERENCES: New Health Guide: Weight Gain During Period

RECIPE: Here’s a fresh, high-fiber, plant-powered recipe to keep that digestive system happy and moving along as it should.

Papaya Avocado Berry Salad - serves 2

Combine the following in a medium bowl:

  • 1 medium papaya, diced

  • 1 medium avocado, diced

  • ¾ cup jicama, diced

  • ⅓ cup fresh berries, sliced or whole

  • 2 Tbs or 4 halves walnuts, chopped & toasted

Then make the dressing:

Berry Balsamic Salad Dressing

  • 2 cups mixed fresh berries, frozen thawed ok (like blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries)

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tbs fresh citrus juice (like lemon, lime or orange juice)

  • 2 tsp honey, unpasteurized

  • 1 tsp Dijon or spicy mustard

  • 1/8 teaspoon Himalayan Pink or Grey/Celtic Sea salt

  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

( Optional additions: to kick your dressing up a notch, add 1 small clove garlic, chopped and/or 1 Tb finely chopped fresh thyme leaves.)

In a blender or mini food processor, puree berries. Place a small strainer over a bowl. Pour pureed berries into strainer, pressing with the back of a spoon to remove the seeds. Return pureed berries to blender or food processor.

Add all remaining ingredients except oil; process until smooth. Add the oil slowly (by teaspoons), again until smooth. Taste, then add more honey, salt and pepper if desired.

Gently toss the salad with 2-3 Tbs of the dressing. Enjoy!

Easy Mango Corn Salsa

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Ingredients

  • 2 Mango (peeled and cubed)

  • 2 cups Fresh Corn

  • 2 tbs Red Onion (finely chopped)

  • 1 Red Bell Pepper (finely chopped)

  • 1/4 cup Cilantro (chopped)

  • Juice and zest of 1 lime

  • Sea Salt to taste

  • jalapeno slices (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

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Ingredients

  • 2 heads cauliflower

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup golden raisins

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, torn

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut off the cauliflower stems, then place the heads cut-side down and slice into 1/2-inch-thick steaks. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, flipping after the first 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the pine nuts to a dry medium saute pan and toast over medium heat until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the raisins and butter and season with salt. Cook, tossing, until the butter has melted and coats the pine nuts and raisins. Off the heat, stir in the parsley.

Transfer the roasted cauliflower to a serving platter. Pour the pine nut-raisin mixture over the top. Season with salt.

Healthy Dijon Potato Salad

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This mustardy potato salad is perfect for your weekend BBQ!

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds red new potatoes

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 6 scallions, chopped

  • ½ cup chopped parsley

  • ¼ cup chopped dill

  • Salt and pepper

Place the potatoes in a large stockpot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. When cool, cut the potatoes in half.

Combine the vinegar and mustard in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

Add the potatoes to the vinaigrette, and mix gently but thoroughly. Toss in the scallions, parsley and dill. Salt and pepper to taste.


Everything You Need To Know About Omega -3 Fats

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There’s a lot of talk about healthy fats these days. People are including more fat in their diets and forgetting about the fat-free diet crazes of the past.

You’ve probably heard about omega fats in the mix, but what exactly are they?

What are Omega Fats? Do they all perform the same function in our bodies?

Omegas are a group of fatty acids known as Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9. They’re numerically named based on their chemical composition.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids (EFA’s). The body is capable of producing some fatty acids on its own, like Omega-9 - meaning you don’t need to get them from food.

But the fatty acids the body can’t create on its own must be obtained from food, and therefore, are considered essential. Both fats are needed for good health, but most diets contain an abundance of omega-6 and not enough omega-3.

This skewed ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 is considered a cause of chronic inflammation that can lead to scary stuff, like heart attack and stroke.

A 1:1 ratio is ideal for keeping inflammation at bay, but it’s estimated that most people have a ratio closer to 20:1!

Low intake of Omega-3’s means most people are missing out on the major health benefits of this essential fat.

The protective qualities of Omega-3’s include:

● Improved immune system function

● Decreased inflammation

● Decreased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis, and depression

● Improved triglyceride and cholesterol values

● Critical role in human development – the brain and retina contain lots of omega-3 in the form of DHA

Which foods are the best sources of Omega-3’s?

Omega-3’s actually include several types of fats, including:

· ALA (alpha linolenic acid) – found in plants, like nuts and seeds

· DHA/EPA – found primarily in fish

The best sources of ALA include flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Canola and soybean oil are also good sources of ALA, but these oils aren’t the healthy options since they quickly oxidize and turn rancid, which promotes inflammation and cancels out any beneficial effects of the omega-3s they contain.

While meat and dairy aren’t a good source of omega-3s, it’s worth noting grass fed meat and dairy contain higher amounts of omega-3s than conventional grain fed meat.

ALA needs to be converted into EPA or DHA by the body for it to be utilized. This process is pretty inefficient, with estimates of 1-20% of the ALA we consume being converted into a usable form.

Although it would be hard to meet all your omega-3 needs only with sources of ALA, flax, chia, and walnuts are still healthy fats with lots of other good-for-you vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Since fish contains the ready-to-use EPA/DHA form, it is recommended that most people obtain their omega-3’s from fatty cold water fish, like salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines.

Did you know fish don’t actually produce the omega-3s they contain? Instead, algae makes EPA/DHA and fish accumulate the fat from the algae they eat. Cool fat fact!

How much Omega Fats should we be eating? Do I have to eat fish or take fish oil?

While there are no official recommendations for daily omega-3 intake, it’s thought most people can meet their basic omega-3 needs by consuming fish 2x/week.

To avoid taking in too much mercury, a toxic heavy metal in fish, you should alternate the types of fish you eat and limit varieties known to be high in mercury.

If you choose not to consume fish because of mercury or other concerns, it’s best to supplement with fish oil or, if you’re vegan - try algae oil. Fish and algae oils don’t contain mercury as a result of processing.

It’s generally considered safe to consume up to 3 - 6g of fish oil per day. If you include a high quality fish oil supplement and a variety of sources of healthy fats in your diet, you don’t have to worry about counting omega-3s.

People who are managing symptoms of heart disease or other illness may benefit from even higher, therapeutic doses of omega-3’s.

However, high doses of fish oil could interfere with blood clotting. If you’re currently taking blood thinners or have surgery scheduled, you should check with a healthcare provider before supplementing.

References

Healthline - Omega 3 Fatty Acids: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

National Institutes of Health - Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Precision Nutrition - All About Fish Oil

Precision Nutrition - All About Healthy Fats

Recipe: 

Chia Pudding Serves 2

  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as almond or coconut

  • ¼ cup chia seeds

  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup or honey (depending on how much sweetener you like to use)

  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 cup mixed berries, for topping

  • 2 tbsp raw walnuts, chopped (for topping)

Combine milk, chia seeds, sweetener, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and whisk until well-combined. Alternatively, you can place ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shake to combine.

Refrigerate chia pudding at least 2 hours or overnight. Portion pudding into bowls. Top with fresh berries and chopped walnuts.

Shakshuka

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Shakshuka has more than a few things going for it.....It’s fun to say, easy to make, and tastes and delicious. The word shakshuka comes from Arabic, meaning, “a haphazard mixture” or “all mixed up.”

This middle eastern dish highlights poached eggs in a hearty, spiced tomato and pepper sauce. I add spinach for the extra veggie power - I love the bright green color in the red sauce, and it’s an easy way to make an already healthy meal even more nutritious. I topped the dish with feta cheese, avocado slices and fresh cilantro.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with juices, coarsely chopped

  • ¾ teaspoon salt, more to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, more to taste

  • 1 handful of fresh spinach, chopped (optional)

  • 5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)

  • 6 large eggs

  • Chopped cilantro, for serving

  • Avocado slices, for serving

  • Hot sauce, for serving

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook slowly until very soft, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne, and cook 1 minute. Pour in tomatoes and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; simmer until tomatoes have thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach and allow to wilt

Make a well in the tomato sauce and gently crack egg into the well. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle generously with cilantro and feta cheese and serve with hot sauce and avocado slices

Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you in the comments! I love hearing from you!

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Arugula Pesto

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Pesto is one of my favorite condiments to keep on hand in the fridge. Try this easy variation to brighten a pasta dish, toss with roasted veggies, or serve with crudite’ or crackers.

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Arugula Pesto

Blend all ingredients in the food processor:

  • 2 cups fresh baby arugula

  • 1/2 lemon juiced

  • 1/8 cup olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest

  • 9 large basil leaves

  • 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp pressed garlic

  • 1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.