Cranberry Pecan Sauce

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Did you know that one can of cranberry sauce has 26 grams of sugar? Avoid using the canned stuff and try something new!

Cranberry Pecan Sauce

Recipe from The Voluptuous Vegan, by Myra Kornfeld

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Madeira

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 3 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

  • pinch salt

  • 1/2 cup pecan halves


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove, let cool for a few minutes, and roughly chop by hand.

In a medium saucepan, combine the madeira, maple syrup, cinnamon, cranberries and salt. Cover and bring to a boil, watching carefully to make sure it does not boil over.

Uncover and cook at a rapid simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every so often, until the cranberries have burst and the liquid has reduced enough to become saucy.

Stir in the pecans and pour into a bowl. Refrigerate until cool. Serve cold or at room temperature

Gjelina's Roasted Yams - Happy Thanksgiving!

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I know it’s crazy to mess with family favorites at Thanksgiving. But if you are looking to cook up something a little different from the traditional mashed potatoes or marshmello topped sweet potatoes, this recipe from Gjelina:Cooking From Venice, California gets it right.

Even if you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it any night of the week! It's a snap to make - Large wedges of sweet yams, tossed with olive oil, honey and espelette, and then roasted until carmelized on the edges and perfectly soft inside. I love it served with chicken, steak, or even a simple green salad for a delicious vegetarian meal.

Gjelina’s Roasted Yams

Ingredients:

  • 2 large yams

  • 2 Tablespoons honey

  • 1 Tablespoon espelette pepper, or crushed red pepper flakes

  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • ½ cup Greek style yogurt

  • 4 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced, for garnish

Instructions:

Heat oven to 425. Cut the yams lengthwise into 4 wedges per yam. Put them in a large bowl, and toss them with the honey, ½ tablespoon of the Espelette pepper or crushed red-pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, tossing once or twice to coat, as the oven heats.

Transfer the yams to a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and then bake until they are deeply caramelized around the edges and soft when pierced with a fork at their thickest part, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Combine the yogurt, lime juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl, and whisk to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

When the yams are done, transfer them to a serving platter, drizzle the yogurt over them and garnish with the remaining Espelette pepper or red-pepper flakes, the scallions, and a pinch of salt.


What is Leaky Gut?

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"Leaky gut" is a popular topic in the health and wellness world these days. It's been suggested that it might be the cause of many symptoms and conditions that seem to be all-too-common. Allergies, intolerances, joint pain, bloating, digestive issues and even autoimmune diseases to name a few.

But what is leaky gut, and how can you tell if you have it? We’ll dig into the details below.

What is a leaky gut?

Simply put, your “gut” (a.k.a. “intestinal tract”) is a tube that makes up part of your digestive system. It’s not as simple as a hose or pipe; it’s an amazing tube made of live cells tightly bound together. Your gut helps your body absorb fluids and nutrients, digests your food, and houses billions of friendly gut microbes.

It's also selective to what it allows past its barrier. Your intestinal tract purposefully keeps some things from being absorbed, so they pass right on through to the other end to be eliminated as waste. You don't want to absorb many harmful microbes or toxins into your body, right?

FACT: About 70-80% of our immune system is housed around our gut, so it’s ready for foreign invaders.

Absorption of fluids and nutrients happens when they're allowed through this cellular tube into the circulation. And this is great! As long as what's being absorbed are fluids and nutrients. The blood and lymph then carry the nutrients to your liver, and then around to the rest of your body; this is so that all your cells, all the way to your toenails, get the nutrition they need to be healthy and grow.

How does a gut become “leaky?”

The gut can become leaky if the cells get damaged, or if the bonds that hold the cells together get damaged. Leaky gut can be caused or worsened by a number of diet and lifestyle factors. Dietary factors like too much sugar or alcohol or even eating things that you're intolerant to can all contribute to leaky gut.

Lifestyle factors like stress, lack of sleep, infections, and some medications can also be culprits in this area. Sometimes, if the balance of gut microbes inside the gut is thrown off, this can also contribute to a leaky gut.

Any contributing factors that alter the balance in your gut may cause our gut to become "permeable" or leak. At this point incompletely digested nutrients, microbes (infectious or friendly), toxins, or waste products can more easily get into our bodies.

Scientifically speaking, a “leaky gut” is known as “intestinal permeability.” This means that our intestines are permeable and allow things through that they normally would keep out. They “leak.” As you can imagine, this is not a good thing.

What are the symptoms of a leaky gut?

Because so much of your immune system is around your gut, the immune cells quickly recognize a “foreign invader” and start their response. This is normal and good if the gut is working properly and not allowing too many things to “leak” in.

But when that happens too much, and the immune system starts responding, the notorious inflammation starts. Once the immune system starts responding it can look like allergies, food intolerances, and even autoimmune diseases.

Because the first place affected is the gut, there are a number of symptoms right there. Things such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. Not to mention that if foods, even healthy foods, aren't properly digested, their nutrients aren't properly absorbed. Poor absorption can lead to lack of essential vitamins and minerals for the optimal health of every cell in your body.

Some of the symptoms can also occur on the skin. Acne, dry skin, itchiness, rashes, eczema, and hives can all be symptoms related to leaky gut. Even rosacea and psoriasis can be linked here due to their autoimmune component.

It’s possible that even some neurological symptoms are linked with leaky gut. For example, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, inability to sleep, and general moodiness can also be related.

Finally, a number of chronic inflammatory diseases are thought to be linked with a leaky gut. Things like Crohn's, colitis, celiac disease, IBS, and MS. Even things like heart disease and stroke are possibilities.

What to eat for leaky gut

The general recommendation is to stop eating inflammatory foods and eat more gut-soothing foods.

Incorporating a gut-soothing diet means cutting out grains, legumes, and dairy. Add to that list, food additives, alcohol, and refined sugars.

In their place, add in more green leafy and cruciferous veggies. These are full of nutrients and contain fibre to help feed your friendly gut microbes. You also want to add more sources of vitamin D which can come from fish and egg yolks, and also from the sun. Eat more probiotic foods like sauerkraut, dairy-free yogurt, and kombucha (fermented tea). Make sure you're getting enough essential omega-3 fats found in seafood and seaweed. Finally, make sure you're getting some coconut oil and bone broth. Coconut oil has special fats called MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), and bone broth has essential amino acids.

Conclusion

Leaky gut, or "intestinal permeability" can happen when your gut gets damaged due to too much sugar and alcohol, or eating foods you're intolerant to. It can also be from stress, lack of sleep, or imbalance in your friendly gut microbes. The symptoms of leaky gut are vast - spanning from digestive woes to skin conditions, even to autoimmune conditions.

It's important to cut out problem foods and drinks and add in more gut-soothing things like green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and probiotic foods. It's also important to ensure you're getting enough omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and amino acids.

Recipe (gut soothing): Slow-Cooked Chicken Broth

Serves 6-8

  • 1 whole chicken, cooked, bones with or without meat

  • 3 carrots, chopped

  • 2 celery, chopped

  • 1 parsnip, chopped

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • Herbs and spices as desired: 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon or more of sea salt, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, additional herbs or spices to taste. I also add 2 cloves of garlic for the last 30 minutes of cooking.

  • 2 handfuls spinach

Instructions

1 - Place chicken bones, and meat if using, into a slow cooker.

2 - Add chopped vegetables, vinegar, and herbs/spices.

3 - Cover with hot water (about 2 litres/8 cups).

4 - Cook 8 h on medium or overnight on low.

5 - Add spinach and garlic 30 minutes before serving.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can strain it before serving, or serve it with the cooked vegetables as soup.

References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-is-leaky-gut-and-how-can-it-cause/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-leaky-gut-real#section3

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/leaky-gut-syndrome/

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/837168

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/531603

 

Mediterannean Buddah Bowl

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Say hello to my new dream meal!

Buddha Bowls typically contain a variety of colorful, artfully-arranged vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

To make my Mediterranean version, I layered arugula in the bottom of bowl (substitute with any greens of your choice). Next, I added vegetables, chickpeas, quinoa, and olives and drizzle of Italian dressing. A dollop of hummus completes this protein packed masterpiece!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Quinoa (dry, uncooked)

  • Handful Arugula (or any greens)

  • 1 cup Chickpeas (from the can)

  • 1 Cucumber (chopped)

  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes (halved)

  • 1 cup Red Cabbage (chopped)

  • 1/2 cup Hummus

  • 1/2 cup Pitted Kalamata Olives

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 3 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 1/2 tsp Italian Herb Seasoning

  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt (to taste)

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package, and set aside.

Divide the arugula equally between serving bowls. Top with equal amounts of quinoa, chickpeas, cucumber, red cabbage, tomatoes, hummus and olives.

Add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Italian seasoning and sea salt to a jar. Seal and shake well to combine.

Drizzle the dressing over top of the assembled buddha bowls and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Easy Lentil & Sweet Potato Curry

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This Lentil & Sweet Potato Curry is the perfect comfort food. Especially on a chilly, Sunday evening in fall. So cozy! It was all made in one pot, in less than an hour....a perfect bowl of healthy goodness.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to taste

  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water

  • 3/4 cup red lentils

  • 1 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste

  • 1 can (14 ounce) coconut milk

  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped

  • 2 cups cooked basmati rice for serving

  • fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

  • chopped cashews, for garnish

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 5 minutes until soft. Add the ginger, garlic, and sweet potatoes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the curry powder and cayenne and cook another minute.

Add the broth and lentils. Season with salt. Bring the mix to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are soft and the sweet potatoes tender.

Stir in the coconut milk and spinach, cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

To serve, add rice to a serving bowl and ladle the soup on top. Garnish with cilantro and cashews.


Protein: How Much Is Enough?

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Protein - How Much is Enough?

Protein is not just for great for muscle building, it's critical for your health and wellbeing. Without it, you wouldn't be able to repair tissue damage, digest food, fight infections, build bone, create hormones, and think clearly and have good moods. Higher protein diets can help fight high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Not to mention protein's great benefits for metabolism boosting, satiety (feeling full after a meal), and weight management.

Protein is important, and this is a given.

There are a few factors to consider when calculating how much protein we need. In this blog, I go through those calculations with you. Then I list the amount of protein in some common foods.

How much protein is enough?

There isn’t a real rule that applies equally to everyone. There are a few factors to consider when figuring out how much protein you need.

Start with the minimum recommendation of 0.36 g/lb) per day.

So, for a 150 lb healthy non-athlete adult, this is about 55 g protein/day.

Mind you, this is a minimum to prevent protein deficiency. It may be not optimal for good repair, digestion, immune function, muscle/bone building, hormones, thinking and great moods. It's not enough for athletes, seniors or those recovering from an injury, either. If you fall into one of these camps, you may need to increase the minimum protein intake. Aim closer to 0.6 g/lb per day.

Athletes need more protein for their energy and muscle mass. Seniors need more to help ward off muscle and bone loss that's common in old age. And injured people need more for recovery and healing.

How much protein is too much?

As with fat and carbohydrates, eating too much protein can cause weight gain. Extra protein can be converted into sugar or fat in the body. The interesting thing about protein is that it isn’t as easily or quickly converted as carbohydrates or fat; this is because of its "thermic effect." The thermic effect is the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, transport and store a nutrient. To digest protein, your body needs to spend energy (i.e., burn calories). More calories than when metabolizing fats or carbohydrates.

If you’re concerned that high protein intake harms healthy kidneys, don’t be. If your kidneys are healthy, they are more than capable of filtering out excess amino acids from the blood. The problem only occurs in people who already have kidney issues.

BTW: Plant proteins are especially safe for kidney health.

How much protein is in food?

  • 3.5 oz chicken breast has 31 g protein.

  • 3.5 oz of salmon has 20 g protein.

  • ½ cup cooked beans contain 6-9 g protein.

  • large egg contains 6 g protein.

  • ¼ cup nuts contains 4-7 g protein.

  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds has 14 g protein

  • medium baked potato contains 3 g protein.

Conclusion

Protein is an essential nutrient we should all get enough of. “Enough” is about 0.8 - 1.3 g/kg (0.36 - 0.6 g/lb) per day. If you're a healthy non-athlete adult, you can aim for the lower level. If you're an athlete, senior, or injured person, aim for the higher level.

Too much protein can cause weight gain, so it's best to find the right amount for you!

I’d love to know: Are you one of those people who needs more protein? Let me know in the comments.

Recipe (high-protein): Baked Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

  • 4 chicken breasts, bone in

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a layer of parchment paper on a baking dish.

Place the chicken breasts in the prepared dish. Brush on both sides with olive oil.

In a small bowl, mix spices until combined. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over the chicken on both sides.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through to at least 165°F at the thickest part.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Serve with lots of veggies.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-protein

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/do-you-eat-enough-protein

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-protein-per-day/

 

Za'atar Spiced Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

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A complete meal, prepared all in one pan. I'm obsessed with this method! It's so easy: Arrange everything on the pan or casserole dish, pop it in the oven -- dinner's ready!

This chicken is seasoned with za’atar which is is a mediteranean spice blend of thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. I know it sounds exotic, but I use it all the time. It is perfect for seasoning for hummus, veggies, meat, and fish. Add a little za’atar to olive oil for a delicious dip for a crusty piece of bread.

You can usually find za’atar in the market, or order from amazon.

If you don’t have any za’atar in your cabinet at the moment, you can easily use a combination of dried thyme and oregano as a substitute.

Ingredients

  • One 4-pound chicken

  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1-2 teaspoons za’atar seasoning (or use a mixture of dried thyme and oregano)

  • lemon zest from 1 lemon

  • 20 brussels sprouts , trimmed of outer leaves

  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus wedges for serving

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°.

In a small dish combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon zest and za’atar seasoning. Rub the chicken on and under the skin with the seasoned olive oil mixture. (I use a spoon to get under the skin.)

Place the chicken in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add the brussels sprouts, and butter to the pan and roast for 30-40 minutes longer, until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle the lemon juice and a pinch of salt over the sprouts and let the dish rest for 15 minutes. Carve the chicken, toss the brussels sprouts and serve with lemon wedges.

Black Bean with Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

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If you have worked with me before you know that I am a big fan of Sunday Meal Prep, and today I am posting my favorite prep ahead recipe. Keep this salad in the frig and enjoy it all week as a breakfast, lunch or snack

Black beans and sweet potatoes go great together. In fact, it’s one of my favorite combinations for vegetarian Mexican style food. This salad works perfectly in tacos, nachos, quesadillas, and burritos.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sweet potatoes

  • 1 small red onion

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Juice and zest from 1 lime

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed if using canned

  • 1/2 cup cilantro

  • 1/4 cup pepitas

  • 1/2 avocado, chopped (for serving)

  • 1 cup chopped romaine (for serving)

Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Peel sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and place on a sheet tray. Chop onion into 1/4 inch pieces and add to the tray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on top and add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Toss until sweet potatoes are well coated. Spread into a single layer and roast until sweet potatoes are tender and starting to brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, combine remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a jar with the lime juice, 1 teaspoon lime zest, minced garlic, and chili powder. Shake well.

Once sweet potatoes are done, transfer to a bowl. Add in the black beans, pepitas, and cilantro. Drizzle with the dressing and toss until salad is combined while potatoes are still warm. (Serve tossed with romaine lettuce and avocado if using.)

Creamy Cauliflower and Cashew Soup

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This week we are busy recipe testing for my upcoming 10 Day Detox, and this soup is a hit!

Cauliflower is a key Detox Superfood! It is a good source of fiber which helps to bind to toxins. It contains antioxidants that support Phase 1 liver detoxification along with sulfur-containing nutrients important for Phase 2 detox activities. The glucosinolates in cauliflower also activate detoxification enzymes.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons raw cashews

  • 1/2 red onion, chopped

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped

  • 4 cup Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth

  • 2-3 sprig fresh thyme leaves, (to taste)

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (more or less to taste)

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place cashews in a bowl and cover with warm water. Set aside.

Toss the red onion, carrots, celery and cauliflower in oil and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes or until veggies are golden and the cauliflower and carrots are tender.

Drain the cashews and place them in a high-speed blender. Add roasted vegetables, thyme, and broth. Blend until completely smooth.

Season with sea salt, pepper, and thyme to taste.

Heat and enjoy!

The Scoop On Multi-Vitamins

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Multivitamins are exactly what they sound like: multiple vitamins. They're supplements that contain several different vitamins in each one. They can also contain minerals and other ingredients like amino acids or fatty acids. And because there are multiple ingredients, there usually provide a very low dose of each ingredient.

There are 13 vitamins and at least 16 minerals that are essential to health. You need certain amounts of all of these nutrients for optimal health. In fact, nutrient deficiencies can impact immunity, reproduction, growth, hormone balance and many other important processes in your body.

You may have heard or read on the internet that if you follow a "balanced diet," you'll definitely get enough vitamins and minerals. But the truth is, many people in the US are nutrient deficient.

Do multivitamins work?

So, what exactly do we know about the health benefits of multivitamins?

Here’s a quick summary of the science:

● Multivitamin use is linked with improved moods. Interestingly, if someone has nutrient deficiencies, they may have mood imbalances. So, if the multivitamin addresses an underlying deficiency, this makes sense.

● In terms of memory and cognitive performance (ability to think), there seems to be an improvement in people who regularly take multivitamins.

● In terms of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, there seems to be a slight improvement.

● In terms of heart disease, the results are mixed. There may be an increase, or a decrease, or no effect on risk of heart attacks.

● In terms of cancer, there is a slightly reduced risk of certain cancers in men.

● In terms of mortality (death), there doesn't seem to be a clear increase or decrease in mortality rates for people who take multivitamins.

So the evidence is clear that multivitamins aren’t a magical “good health and vitality pills” They’re not guaranteed to improve your mental or physical health, or help you live longer; but, they do have some health benefits.

Are multivitamins safe?

Just about every study that looked to see if multivitamins were health-promoting, also looked at side effects. They have consistently shown that multivitamins are very safe.

Super high doses of some nutrients can be harmful, but multivitamins are safe for most people. Unless you have a knowledgeable practitioner advise otherwise, you want to stick to the dose on the label.

However, it is not uncommon for some supplements to have been tested and found to contain different ingredients than what's on the label. Sometimes they contain ingredients that are not good for your healthy.

Always check labels and avoid products with the following ingredients:

  • Magnesium Stearate

  • Artificial Coloring or Flavoring (especially in children's viramins!)

  • Titanium Dioxide

  • Magnesium Silicate

  • Anything in a propyl or ethyl group

  • GMO’s

Choosing supplements that are from reputable companies is so important. When shopping for supplements, there are a few things you can keep an eye out for to help ensure that your supplements are free of synthetic additives.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Research ingredients that are banned in Europe, since they have stricter food regulation laws there.

  • Buy non-GMO, organic and vegan where possible or necessary.

  • Buy pure whenever possible – bulk powders, pure liquids and capsules (rather than tablets) are less likely to contain harmful ingredients.

  • Have a conversation! Any solid business – whether it’s the supplier or the actual manufacturer – should be happy to answer your questions.

  • Be extra careful when buying “cheap” products online – if something is unusually inexpensive, it probably means it just has less of the actual substance in the package to begin with.

Conclusion

Multivitamins are not a short cut to optimal health. There is limited evidence that they improve health for most people. But there are some benefits.

Since they contain low doses of many different nutrients, they're also safe (as long as you are taking a high quality product.)

Of course, taking a multivitamin is not going to overcome the negative effects of a poor diet. I always recommend eating a balanced diet of whole foods with lots of nutrients coming from complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Check out my Superfood Salad recipe below! It is chockful of nutritional goodness!

Recipe: Lisa’s Superfood Salad

Serves 2

  • 2 handfuls of dark greens (e.g. kale, spinach, arugula, etc.)

  • ½ cucumber, chopped

  • 1 avocado, chopped

  • 1 bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 carrot, grated

  • 2 handfuls grape tomatoes

  • 1 handful fresh blueberries

  • 2 Tbls hemp seeds

  • 2 Tbls sunflower seeds

  • 2 Tbls pepitas

Salad Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar

  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 2 tsp honey or maple syrup

  • 1 dash salt

  • 2 dashes black pepper

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

Make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, mustard, honey/maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Pour over salad before serving.

Top with salmon, shrimp, chicken or beef for added protein

Serve & enjoy!

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/do-multivitamins-work/

http://thewellnessbusinesshub.com/yes-nutrient-deficiencies-heres-proof-can/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0022955/

 

Apple Cinnamon Oats

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Fall is here and you know what that means—it’s apple season!

Apple Cinnamon Oats make the perfect healthy fall breakfast. Apples are full of vitamins and antioxidants, and they’re a great source of fiber, too. The combination of apples, cinnamon, vanilla and maple sweetness in this recipe is simply divine. This healthful breakfast is dairy-free, and full of fiber and nutrients.  Oats are naturally gluten free, but check the label to make sure they have not been exposed to cross contamination if you are highly allergic.

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cups Whole Rolled Oats (3 minute oats work in this recipe)

  • 1 1/2 Cups Unsweetened Almond Milk

  • 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds

  • 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

  • 1/4 Tsp Nutmeg

  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

  • 1/2 Cup Water

  • 1 Apple (cored and diced)

  • 1 Cup Walnuts (chopped)

Directions

1. Combine oats, almond milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract  and water in a large glass container. Stir well to evenly mix. Cover and store in the fridge overnight.

2.Remove from fridge. Use single-serving size mason jars and place a few spoonfuls of the oat mixture in the bottom of each. Then add a layer of diced apple followed by a layer of chopped walnuts. Repeat until all ingredients are used up.

3.Store in the fridge up to 4 days or until ready to eat. Add an extra splash of almond milk and/or a drizzle of honey (optional).

Notes

  • More Protein: Add hemp seeds or a spoonful of nut butter.

  • Warm it Up: Heat in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds before eating.

  • No Maple Syrup: Use honey to sweeten instead.

Chef Katie's Butternut Squash And Leek Soup

Photo by Cala on Unsplash

When the temperature drops and it begins to get darker earlier, our bodies start to crave warm comfort food. It makes sense then that a hearty soup is such a satisfying meal in the fall, as it soothes both the body and the mind. With fall comes a bounty of produce, like butternut squash, that make the perfect soup ingredients.


Why I Love This:

Butternut squash is a virtual storehouse of nutrients. Unlike summer squash (zucchini, crooknecks, pattypans), winter squash has had a lot more time to develop and pump itself full of vitamins and minerals throughout its lengthy life on the stem. We’re talking oodles more vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and even some extra dietary fiber thrown in.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 cup leeks, chopped (wash carefully)

  • 1 carrot, diced

  • 1 celery stalk, diced

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes (frozen cubes works well here)

  • 32 oz vegetable stock

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 1 tsp dried dill

  • microgreens, goat cheese, or pumpkin seeds to garnish

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks to the saucepan and saute for 6-7 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and saute for 8-10 additional minutes until soft. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so being careful not to burn the garlic.   Add the butternut squash, stock, garlic powder, salt, pepper and the dried dill. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to slightly cool. Puree all the soup ingredients in a blender. Serve and top with the microgreens, goat cheese or pumpkin seeds,

The Best Ever Red Lentil Dahl

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This Red Lentil Dahl is one of the most popular recipes from my 10 Day Reset Detox.

It also happens to be a powerhouse of nutritional goodness, thanks to the wonderful little lentil that’s at the heart of every dahl recipe.

With about 30% of their calories from protein, lentils have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp. Lentils also have tons of fiber, folate, and minerals. When mixed with grains (such as rice), lentils become a complete protein dish, which means that the dish has all nine of the essential amino acids. 

I served this dish at a dinner party last night (my guests are vegetarian), along with Indian basmati rice, a green salad, roasted cauliflower, and Naan and It was a crowd pleaser!

The Best Ever Red Lentil Dahl

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2-3 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (or more to taste, based on preference)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt + fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 handful baby spinach (chopped)
  • Cilantro and green onion for garnish (optional)

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add in oil. Add in chopped onion, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine. Sauté over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened.

Stir in the garlic, ginger and carrots, and continue sautéing for 3-4 more minutes.

Add in the curry powder, cumin, and turmeric. Stir well. Cook for a minute, until fragrant.

Stir in entire can of coconut milk, red lentils, broth, and salt. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered with the lid ajar, for roughly 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils and carrots are tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom. Add a touch more broth if you prefer a thinner consistency.

Once lentils are cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the spinach. Combine it into the dahl well as the heat will help to wilt it.

Serve over basmati rice or quinoa and garnish with cilantro and green onions.

This dahl will keep for up to a week in the fridge or 4-5 weeks frozen and enjoyed throughout the winter.

How To Improve Your Gut Health

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Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

And while this may sound like an over simplification, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we're not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We're talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It's here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We're just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of "the gut-brain axis"). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health.

So, let's talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I'll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.

Our gut’s role in our overall health

Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.

This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.

For one thing, our guts can "leak." Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it's not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can "leak." When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don't seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.

FUN FACT: About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.

A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.

The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.

So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!

How to improve gut health

There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with. How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.

You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.

By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colourful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.

The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.

Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.

And don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.

Conclusion

The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.

The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.

Recipe (Probiotic-rich): Fermented Carrots

For best results you will need Fermenting Jars  or "fermenting weights", to keep the carrots submerged in the brine.

Serves 12

  • 1 L warm water
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 4 carrots, medium, peeled, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)
     

Instructions:

Make a brine by dissolving the salt in water.

Place carrots into a clean canning jar, packing them in tight. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of head space at the top.

Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don't float (you can order fermenting jars on the link above, or use a "fermenting weight")

Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop. Feel free to open and taste.

Serve & enjoy as a side dish or snack

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/does-all-disease-begin-in-the-gut/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

 

Red Thai Coconut Curry Chicken

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Coconut Chicken Thai Curry – a flavorful and mild spicy chicken and vegetable thai curry recipe. Ready in under 30 minutes, and healthy too!

This is my family's current favorite meal, and trust me it will be yours too! 

Notes:

This recipe is meant to serve as a base recipe for the chicken and the sauce, so plan on adding in your favorite veggies. It works well with bokchoy, cauliflower, carrots or red bell peppers.  

Serve over rice, or cauliflower rice for a paleo version

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs Chicken Thighs (skinless, boneless)

  • 1/4 cup Thai Red Curry Paste (divided)

  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil

  • 1/2 cup Red Onion (finely diced)

  • 2 cans Organic Coconut Milk (canned, full fat)

  • Red pepper flakes (if you like it spicy)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Salt and pepper the chicken and then rub with half of the Thai red curry paste.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a cast iron or oven safe skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. Saute the red onions in the remaining Thai red curry paste for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the chicken thighs to the skillet and sear for 3 minutes per side. Add the coconut milk and bring it to a simmer.
  • Add in your veggies.
  • Once the coconut milk is simmering, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, divide the chicken onto plates and

 

3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Banana (ripe)

  • 4 Egg

  • 1/4 Cup Almond Flour

  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil (for cooking)

Directions:

In a bowl, mash the bananas very well until quite smooth. Add the eggs and beat gently.  Mix in the almond meal.

Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of the batter at a time to form pancakes, cooking for about 1-2 minutes per side.

Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a drizzle of maple syrup if desired.

 

 

Mood Boosting Foods

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No question that what you eat can affect how you feel, right?

Mental health and brain health are complex. So are the foods we eat, and the ways our bodies interact with those foods.  While we don't know the exact mechanisms how food and nutrition help, we know a few ways food impacts our moods.

First, what we eat becomes the raw materials for our neurotransmitters. “Neurotransmitters” are biochemical messengers that allow our nerve cells to communicate (the major ones that regulate mood are serotonin, dopamine, gaba and norepinephrine). They are important not just for thinking and memory, but also for mental health.

Second, what we eat affects our blood sugar. And having unstable blood sugar levels can contribute to mood swings.

Mood-boosting foods

Some nutrient deficiencies look like mental health problems; this includes deficiencies in B-vitamins, vitamin D, and the mineral selenium. So, getting enough vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are key. These nutrients not only reduce inflammation but also fuel the biochemical reactions in our bodies. Including those that create neurotransmitters. So make sure you're eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, studies show that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables are the happiest.

Also pay special attention to vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), as it’s not naturally occurring in very many foods. Selenium is an essential mineral found in Brazil nuts, walnuts, cod, and poultry. In fact, 2 brazil nuts provide more than your recommended daily dose of selenium.  Try to add some of those to your weekly diet.

Second, make sure you get enough protein. Protein is your body's main supply of amino acids. Amino acids are very important for mood issues because they are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Protein also helps to regulate blood sugar. I recommend eating protein with every meal.  (organic choices of animal protein and plant protein)

Third, complex carbohydrates like sweet potato, quinoa, and whole grains are great too. They allow better absorption of key amino acids like tryptophan. Tryptophan is used by your body to make serotonin (your “happy hormone”) and melatonin (your “sleepy” hormone).

Fourth, fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, and algae) are also mood-boosting. Omega-3s are definitely “brain food” and may help to ease some symptoms.

INTERESTING FACT: One study showed that giving one multi-vitamin and one omega-3  fish oil tablet per day to prison inmates reduced the incidence of violent behavior by 50%.

Last but not least, make sure you’re hydrated. Mild dehydration can cause mood issues as well.

Mood-busting foods

You won’t be surprised to hear me say sugar and processed foods are mood-busters, right? One study suggests that eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods can increase your chances of becoming depressed by as much as 60 percent!

But, have you ever noticed that some of these mood busters can make you feel better temporarily?

Food companies study how to maximize the "pleasure" centers with the perfect amount of sugar, salt, and fat. Not to mention the color, texture, and taste can light up our taste buds and make us feel good…....Temporarily.

A few other things to avoid if you are experiencing low moods:

●      Alcohol (nervous system depressant)

●      Caffeine (may worsen anxious feelings and ability to sleep)

●      Sugar (worth mentioning again.......messes with your blood sugar and can worsen inflammation).

Conclusion

Bad moods can lead to bad eating habits; and, bad eating habits can lead to bad moods. IT can be a vicious cycle. If you need a mood boost, stick to nutrient-dense whole foods. Things like fresh fruit and vegetables (especially leafy greens), nuts and seeds, green tea, eggs, fish, organic poultry and grass-fed beef.  Take a break from the common mood-busting foods like processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-and-mood

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/how-to-fight-depression-naturally-with-nutrition

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/foods-increase-happiness/

 

Recipe:  Mood Boosting Fig and Ricotta Toast

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Ingredients for 1 serving

  1. 1 slice crusty whole-grain bread
  2. 2 tbls ricotta cheese
  3. 1 fresh fig
  4. 1 teaspoon sliced almonds, toasted
  5. 1 teaspoon honey
  6. Pinch of sea salt

Toast bread. Top with ricotta cheese, figs and almonds. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sea salt.

Tzatziki With Cucumber Slices

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Homemade tzatziki sauce is a simple cucumber and greek yogurt sauce that is so simple to make. Serve this refreshing sauce as a dip with veggie crudite, or pair it with any grilled meat for a mediterranean inspired meal.

Tzatziki with Cucumber Slices

Ingredients

  • 1 Cucumber (divided)
  • 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Garlic (clove, minced)
  • 1/2 Lemon (juiced)
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsps Mint Leaves (fresh, finely chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

Directions:

Peel and cut the cucumber in half and set half aside for slicing later

Take 1/2 of the cucumber and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Grate the remaining cucumber then squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Drain the grated cucumber, then squeeze the cucumber in a cheese cloth (or a strong paper towel) to remove the rest of the liquid.

Stir together  yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, mint and sea salt until thoroughly combined. Add the drained grated cucumber, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Slice the remaining cucumber into slices and serve with tzatziki. Enjoy!

Pina Colada "Nice" Cream

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Sweet and creamy, 5 ingredients, dairy-free, NO ice cream maker required, less than 5 minutes to make.......What's not to like?

Pina Colada "Nice" Cream

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 Banana (sliced and frozen)
  • 1 cup Pineapple (cut into chunks, frozen)
  • 1/4 cup Organic Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tbls Rum (Optional)
  • 2 Tbls Shredded Coconut

Directions:

Add all ingredients to food processor and blend. Occasionally scrape down the sides and continue to blend until smooth (approximately 3 minutes).

Scoop into a bowl and enjoy immediately as soft serve or for firmer ice cream, place in an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 1 hour before scooping.

Add a splash of rum to make it boozy.  Sprinkle with additional shredded coconut to make it pretty.

Keto Diet 101

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So what exactly is the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet is like Atkins but amplified. Instead of just low-carb, it’s “almost no carb” and lots of fat. It’s been around for a long time but has recently gotten a lot of attention.

A ketogenic diet has been shown to help some people lose weight (yes, even with the high fat).  It can also help improve certain health conditions, like epilepsy in children.

Read on for some of the lowdown on how it reprograms your metabolism (for “ketosis”), and whether or not it’s something for you to consider.

What is “ketosis?”

Carbs (sugars & starches) are the preferred fuel for your brain and muscles. They will use carbs first, whenever they’re available.

This is why maintaining stable blood sugar can affect your attention, mood, and energy level.

However, when very low amounts of carbs are available for fuel, your body starts making compounds known as “ketones.” These are your body’s “backup fuel.” And your body makes them from fat.

Ketogenic literally means “the generation of ketones.”

After a while being on a diet very low in carbs, your blood level of ketones increases. This is the metabolic state known as "ketosis." It's the same process that your body goes through if you've fasted for 72 hours and depleted your supply of carbs as fuel. That's the trigger for turning fat into ketones.

Note: “Ketosis” from a ketogenic diet is not the same thing as the dangerous condition known as “ketoacidosis.”

Ketogenic diet for weight loss

With a high fat intake, it may be surprising to know that studies show that a ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss.  But it’s true.

It can also have better results than low-fat diets. At least one study showed that people lost 2.2 times more weight on a ketogenic diet than those on low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.

How is this possible?

Eating all that fat and protein is filling! It helps release satiety hormones that tell us that we're full and satisfied, and we don't need to eat anymore. Many people don't need to count calories or track food intake, as they do with low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.

So, by eating enough fat and protein to go into “ketosis,” you can actually feel fuller and eat less food overall. Of course, this can help with weight loss. 

Ketogenic diet for improved health

Some studies show other health benefits of the ketogenic diet.

As you can imagine, having very low levels of carbs can help reduce blood sugar and insulin issues.

One study showed improved blood triglycerides (fat) and cholesterol numbers. Others show lower blood sugar levels, and even up to 75% improvement in insulin sensitivity.

Several studies show reduced seizures in children who follow a ketogenic diet.

Changing your metabolism has widespread health effects. And this can be beneficial for some people.

How to do the ketogenic diet

Not everyone should go on a ketogenic diet. Make sure you speak with a trained healthcare practitioner before you try it. It can have side effects, including the infamous “keto flu.”

The ketogenic diet involves getting 60-75% of your calories from fat, 20-35% from protein, and just 5% from carbs. Many people find it quite restrictive and are unable to stay on it for a long time.

The foods to focus on for a ketogenic diet are meat, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, avocados, and low-carb vegetables (cucumber, celery, peppers, zucchini, leafy greens, etc.).

The main thing to avoid are foods that are high in carbs. These include sugary foods, desserts, processed foods, and alcohol.  It also includes certain healthful foods like grains, fruit, legumes and starchy vegetables.

Because of the limits on fruit and starchy vegetables, many people on the ketogenic diet need to take supplements. This is because, in addition to their sugar and starch, fruits and starchy veggies are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. So, if you're cutting those foods out, you still need to give your body those nutrients. And often, it means needing supplements.

Conclusion

The ketogenic diet is very popular these days. It can be helpful for weight loss, and other health conditions.

It’s not for everyone, so make sure you check with a knowledgeable practitioner before you begin.

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Keto Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 ounces 100% dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla stevia

Instructions:

1. In a vitamix puree coconut milk and chocolate until smooth

2. Blend in stevia

3. Divide mixture between six 5.5 ounce jars

4. Refrigerate for 24 hours

 

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/ketogenic-diet

https://authoritynutrition.com/ketogenic-diet-101/

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/going-keto-what-science-saying-3-safe-ways-do-it