Tag Archives: kale

Demystifying Health Fads

03-19-14_wt_kale_shutterstock

Here in Los Angeles alone, it feels like you can find a restaurant to accommodate any dietary needs or preferences. Restaurants that serve only cold-pressed juice, vegan items or traditional fare from countries you’ve never even heard of. Gluten-free Southern food sounds like a paradox, but people can try.

There is a lot of talk about what you should be eating more of and what you should be avoiding so we decided to review three of the biggest buzzwords in health and diet these days.

Gluten: 
Everyone’s going gluten free because it’s healthier, right? That’s right, right? Interestingly enough, gluten is only a problem for the approximately 1% of Americans diagnosed with Celiac’s disease who’s immune system actually damages the lining of the small intestine while trying to process it. The problem with everyone else avoiding gluten, according to some experts, is not with the ingredient so much as how easy it is to miss out on other vital nutrients like iron and fiber by avoiding foods like whole wheat. There are certainly grains without gluten but the key here is knowing that going gluten-free isn’t necessarily the key to a healthier lifestyle.

Kale:
Traditionally a winter crop, this hearty green that’s sneaking it’s way into salads everywhere is actually super good for you. It’s got a ton of Vitamins A, C and K. We’re talking 684% of your daily value of Vitamin K in just a cup. It’s low in calories and while it might be an acquired taste, it’s worth considering as a dietary staple. Something to note- Kale will be less thrilling if you are low on calcium or taking anticoagulants as it blocks calcium absorption and can mess with certain medications, so check with a doctor before you start eating it by the bucket loads.

Probiotics:
We spend a lot of money on cleaning products every year to get rid of bacteria from our homes, but so why are buy bacteria to put into our bodies? Made more well-known thanks to the family favorite, yogurt, Probiotics are good bacteria that, when added to your digestive system, can help ease bloating and get your body processing food like it should. Stress, sitting on planes for hours, eating like a maniac can wreck you, or more specifically, the living microbes in your body that break down and retrieve the nutrients you need. Probiotics are valuable to keeping your intestines in good shape otherwise. We’ve also learned that just having some yogurt here and there won’t be enough to set everything back in balance which is why many opt for a probiotic supplement like SCD Essential Probiotics as opposed to consuming more miso soup than you know what to do with.

Before you hop on the health fad popping up in your grocery stores, make sure you know what works best for you and your body. If it means cutting the gluten, by all means. If not, you’ve made a knowledgeable decision. The point is that you’re in the know.

So, maybe have a donut. Not too many donuts. And maybe wait for dessert ’til you’ve had a kale salad.

 

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Better Than Before: Is Juicing Worth the Squeeze?

juicingWhen I was growing up, my mother believed that eating liver was essential for good vision. Animal livers, she insisted, stored vitamins, in particular A and B complex. These essential nutrients help keep the retina in good shape, the visual purple strong, and the eyes well-lubricated. In any event, my mother took it one step further and gave it to us in the most palatable way she could think of – run through a blender (by a housekeeper with nose plugs) until it became juice. Suffice it to say that my brother and I wouldn’t touch the glass, let alone drink the stuff in it, so we discreetly discarded it out the window. Alas, today we both need glasses, but 17 floors below our old kitchen in New York City is the healthiest tree you’ve ever seen.

Liver juice aside, today on almost every corner in Manhattan there’s a bar touting the ‘juice du jour.’ For me, that’s way better than say, Burger King. To The Lawyer, it’s a shameful waste of good real estate, since the thought of kale juice has about as much appeal as, well, a kale anything else. But he does listen to the experts, other than his wife of course. So I asked Michael T. Murray, N.D., renowned natural medicine expert and bestselling author of more than 30 books, including his latest one, The Complete Book of Juicing, Revised and Updated: Your Delicious Guide to Youthful Vitality (Clarkson Potter, 2014) to weigh in.

JWM: We do know the benefits of drinking fresh juices. But many of my readers and listeners have asked me if it’s better to just eat the whole fruit or vegetable. Why juice?

Dr. Murray: Well, if you think about it, the body actually converts the foods we eat into juice so the nutrients can be easily absorbed. So juicing it before you consume it saves the body energy, resulting in increased vitality. It also delivers more soluble fiber faster and in an easier-to-digest form.

JWM: A lot of bottled juices claim to contain vitamins and minerals. Is fresh always better?

Dr. Murray: Yes! Fresh juice contains many more vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional compounds, such as enzymes and flavonoids–than its canned or bottled counterparts, which have been cooked (pasteurized) to keep them on the shelves longer. Cooking can cause the loss of up to 97 percent of water-soluble vitamins (B vitamins and C), and up to 40 percent of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).

JWM: Do homemade juices have increased antioxidant and anticancer properties as well?

Dr. Murray: They do! In fact, a study comparing commercial apple juice with freshly juiced apples found that fresh, raw juice had more antiviral compounds than the store-bought versions. Another study found that fresh, raw apple juice and berry juice (especially raspberries and blackberries) has more ellagic acid, a potent anticancer and antioxidant compound that is stripped from juice when it’s been processed.

JWM: I’ve heard that some fresh juices also help get rid of toxins. How do they work?

Dr. Murray: Speaking just of fresh fruit juice…fruit contains ample glutathione, a small protein composed of 3 amino acids, which are also manufactured in our cells, which aid in the detoxification of heavy metals such as lead, as well as the elimination of pesticides and solvents.

JWM: Talk a little about raw juicing and weight loss, if you will!

Dr. Murray: To begin with, it’s a phenomenal way to reach the goal of ingesting 60 percent of total calories from raw foods. Diets containing a high percentage (up to 60 percent of calories) of uncooked foods are associated with significant weight loss and lowering of blood pressure in overweight individuals.

JWM: Any quick recipe to share?

Dr. Murray: For a delicious, nutritious fruit juice, put two whole apples, sliced in quarters, and 1/2 cup each of raspberries and blackberries through a juicer. Drink it up right away for a blast of energy and nutrients.

JWM: Dr. Murray, leaving the topic of juicing for a moment, I have been aware of your work for many years. And you have been a vocal proponent of natural medicine and healing. Yet, as a society, we seem to be surrounded by illness in epidemic proportions. Why has there been such a lack of acceptance of natural medicine thus far?

Dr. Murray: Thank you for asking that! For the last 30 years I have done my best to educate and inspire others to utilize the healing power of nature. I feel that the biggest factor for this lack of acceptance and use of natural approaches to health and healing is the current financial model of medicine. It is a complex scenario based upon companies and people profiting from a disease-oriented approach. The whole system is based upon the treatment of disease instead of the promotion of health.

JWM: I agree. And like my mother, you were way ahead of your time. What was the inspiration for the first edition of your book, The Complete Book of Juicing, back in 1992?

Dr. Murray: In 1992 there was a tremendous renaissance in the appreciation of fresh fruit and vegetable juice in promoting health. It was really the result of infomercials touting new juicer technologies. My goal in writing the first edition was to use it as a platform to educate people on the factual benefits of drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juice as opposed to the unsubstantiated overstated benefits that were flying around at the time.

JWM: You recently released a revised edition, The Complete Book of Juicing, Revised and Updated: Your Delicious Guide to Youthful Vitality. How pertinent is it for today’s deteriorating lifestyle habits?

Dr. Murray: Gaining the benefits of drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juice is even more important today than it was 20 years ago. The reason for the update of the book is to deal with the explosion of new information on the important healing and health benefits produced by the simple incorporation of drinking fresh juice into a person’s daily habits.

JWM: Cynics aside, over the last three decades, have you seen a growing inclination/awareness/adoption toward alternative medicine? Do you feel social connectedness is a major contributor to this?

Dr. Murray: There has definitely been a tremendous increase in the awareness of many aspects of what is now considered alternative medicine. In fact, in the last 30 years we have seen the acceptance of many truths that were self-evident back then, but were widely argued against by conventional medicine.

JWM: For example?

Dr. Murray: First of all, the notion that dietary factors were the major determinants of many forms of cancer was viewed as being unfounded from a scientific perspective. Now that link is irrefutable, and the link between diet and many other health conditions is also much better understood today than it was then. The health food industry has been the incubator for many changes in our popular culture. For instance, 30 years ago who outside of the health food industry would have heard of probiotics, antioxidants, gluten, omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and herbs like ginkgo biloba?

JWM: I think there are a lot of explanations for the enlightenment of the consumer toward natural health and natural products. But at the end of the day, I don’t think the awareness is the result of some huge advertising campaign. People are actually experiencing positive results from natural medicine and spreading the word to their family and friends. And that’s a good thing. That being said, any final pearls of wisdom for the benefit of Intent readers, so they, too can become Better Than Before?

Dr. Murray: There is no single magic bullet for turning your life and your health around. It requires focusing on all areas of your life. Each component has a powerful effect on the whole system. And, it goes beyond a health-promoting diet and lifestyle. It also requires being a guardian of your attitude and self-talk in order to program yourself to be more positive, adaptable, and committed to life. I do believe that there is a purpose to our lives, and taking care of our body, mind, and spirit is critical in achieving that purpose. So, we need to be very good to ourselves and those around us.

photo by: Food Thinkers

Recipe: Kale and Quinoa Salad For Refreshing Lunch or Dinner

kale and quinoa saladI’ve been trying to lose weight since…well, since birth pretty much. I’ve been trying a lot harder now that I live on my own and have a lot more control over what I eat. One of the first things every diet (and I’ve been on most of them so I’m pretty knowledgeable of the field) is that it’s important to be able to cook for yourself. For the past three years I’ve learned to live mostly off of microwavable Lean Cuisines (have you tried their french bread pizza? Delicious!) but a few weeks ago I decided to give real cooking a try.

It turns out I’m kind of good at it! I started with a few recipe’s from Dr. Mark Hyman‘s book “The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook” because sugar is a huge weakness for me. My dad swears that I must be half ant. Anyway, I made my through sweet potato burgers, lemon garlic chicken, and a few great smoothies. Then shortly into the cooking expedition I started experimenting on my own! I made some really awesome yorkshire puddings and chicken olive oil pasta… before realizing I was heading back into my old carb heavy (and carbs are just bread sugars) habits. So I took some inspiration from Dr. Hyman and from my favorite restaurant in Los Angeles – Franklin & Co. and perfected a kale and quinoa salad that I wanted to share with all of you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium boneless chicken breast / pre-cut chicken strips (can leave out for vegetarian/vegan options)
  • kale (I prefer Trader Joes kale because it’s already washed and cut, but to each their own!)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 avocado
  • dried cranberries
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (Have a bottle ready if you’re going with chicken)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Preparations:

Chicken – If you’re going for the carnivore version of this salad, defrost a medium or small size chicken breast or frozen chicken strips. (I found some really great pre-cut chicken pieces, boneless and not mechanically processed at my nearby Super Target, go figure).  Fill a medium sauce pan with just enough olive oil to cover the bottom the pan and cook chicken on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Make sure to flip over about half-way through. Chicken is properly cooked when the pinkness from the center has disappeared. Add seasoning as you wish – I like a small dash of garlic herb or lemon and pepper – but add a pinch of whatever you like. If you used a chicken breast, cut into desired pieces to add into the salad.

Quinoa – The first time I tried this I used a full cup of quinoa and had some left over for weeks, so I’ve learned to cut down (1 cup of uncooked quinoa = 3 cups cooked, jeez). Add 1/2 cup of quinoa with 1 cup of water in a small pot and cook on medium to low heat until the water is absorbed into the quinoa (Usually about 10-12 minutes, but may vary depending on your oven).

Kale – To prepare the kale, wash the leaves and cut away any extra long and thick stems. Add 1bsp olive oil, 1tbsp lemon juice and 1/4 tsp of sea salt to the leaves. Then using your hands massage the mixture into the kale (just like you’re rubbing someone’s shoulders). You’ll see the kale curl into a rich dark green and you’ll know it’s ready.

Salad – Add the dried cranberries, tomatoes, chicken, quinoa and avocado to the salad and mix. The lemon juice and olive oil you used to massage the kale mix well enough that you won’t need any additional dressing (calorie save, what!).

This has been my staple lunch for a few weeks now because once I got the hang of cooking the chicken it only takes a few minutes to make! Feel free to change up the cranberries for something different if you aren’t a fan (I’ve tried it with strawberries or olives instead, but cranberries are still my favorite). Even with chicken the salad comes in under 300 calories if you are conservative with the olive oil. I’ve heard many of my friends complain about kale’s bitter taste which makes them reluctant to eat it. When you massage it with this scrub it makes it so delicious though. It’s such a refreshing dish.

This post has been part of my intent to cook more and get more confident in the kitchen. Please support my intent or help out by sharing your favorite recipes with me! 

What Are You Hungry For Recipe Round Up: Snacks to Meals and Sweet Desserts

Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 8.20.14 AMFor the last two weeks we hosted a “What Are You Hungry For?” give away and had a lot of submissions for our favorite healthy snack or meal recipe portion. While we could only pick one to win for the give away, we had so many good options that we wanted to showcase them for everyone. So everyone get your bookmarks and grocery lists ready because there are some very tasty and awesome options here for you, for the holiday season and all year round! (All links open in a new tab so it’s easy for you to save and come back for others)

Snacks

Roasted Brussel Sprout Chips – Debbie R.

No Bake Energy Bites – Julia W.

Meals

Paleo Egg in Ham Cups“I’ve been starting my day with this. It’s quite easy to substitute sliced turkey if one doesn’t eat pork.  And there’s so little prep and clean up for such a pretty, fool-proof meal.  I heat the oven while I put the coffee on, pop it in while I shower, and the egg is ready 15 minutes later, perfect timing! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And I’ve noticed a big, positive difference with this perfect-sized portion of pure protein.” – Gentry L.

Ricotta Fritters with Tomato Sauce & Courgette Salad* – “A proper, wholesome meal in minutes. These fritters are an absolute doddle and the crispy creaminess works a treat with the tomato sauce. Delicious at its best!” – Tatjana J. (Featured picture*)

Grilled Cheese Tomato SandwichPinki L.

Vegan

Kale Citrus Salad with Cranberries and Roasted Walnuts – “It is super fresh with vibrant colors, a burst of citrus, tang of cranberries, a nutty crunch, and the star of the show: superfood Kale! This salad is sure to turn any kale-hater around.  With the addition of dried cranberries and toasted walnuts, it is a wildly colorful, incredibly tasty, and amazingly healthy addition to any holiday feast.” – Dawn G. 

West African Sweet Potato Supper with Coconut Rice – “This is one of my family’s favorite recipes I found on the internet: delicious, healthy, filling, easy.” – Irene R. 

Sweet Dessert

Apple Crisp from Whole Foods – “I’ve been making this crisp recipe for years. It combines both apples and pears and is great this time of year! I substitute agave for the granulated sugar and its awesome with coconut milk ice cream on top!” – Stephanie F.

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough DipKarla H. 

Thank you to everyone who submitted! We hope you have fun trying out some of these dishes! If you have a favorite healthy snack or meal recipe you want to share put it in the comments below. And make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter for how to enter our other give aways happening throughout the month of December!

Detox For The Holidays Made Safe and Simple

1369381414_83633With the holiday season right around the corner, there is no better time than the present to fortify our diet and cement healthy eating.  Ironically, while healthy eating is our birthright, for many of us it seems like taking the plunge into eating a whole foods-based diet is the equivalent to traveling to some distant land.  But it doesn’t have to be such a scary or foreign experience.

In my work as a functional medicine doctor, my priority is to guide each patient through a safe, simple, realistic, and  pleasurable transition into healthy eating. Because whole foods-based diets remove all the sugary, fatty, chemical-laden, artificial stuff from the diet, they sometimes get called a detox or a cleanse.

Why is detoxification important?

When our bodies become toxic it means that our natural method of ushering out metabolic waste from normal human metabolism, environmental pollution, and what has become known as the Standard American Diet (or SAD) has exceeded the threshold for what the body’s innate detoxification system can tolerate.  With this toxic load, every system in the human body can become affected.  From our head to our toes and everything in between, toxicity makes us sick!

How do you know if you are toxic and need to properly cleanse?

Usually a constellation of complaints help to determine whether or not you are toxic and to what extent you need to cleanse.  Some examples of what might indicate a toxic system are:

  • constipation
  • persistent headaches, muscle aches, and muscle fatigue
  • inclusion of large amounts of swordfish, tuna, shark, etc. into diet
  • mercury fillings and dental amalgams
  • food allergies
  • stubborn weight loss
  • hormonal imbalances and consistent use of hormone replacement such as “the pill” or progesterone cream
  • consistent use of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • skin abnormalities such as acne, rosacea, or eczema
  • a lifetime of consuming the SAD diet

To find out if you are toxic, take a look at The UltraSimple Diet.

How long should you stay on a cleanse? 

Typical cleanses that harness our body’s natural processes for filtering and removing waste tend to be gentle and can therefore  be tolerated for longer periods of time than more extreme protocols.  A safe cleanse is one which doesn’t make you starve yourself or take fancy pills, potions, or expensive drinks.

Safety means allowing the body to do what it wants to do naturally, with a little assistance from some guided healthy eating, appropriate supplements, and relevant lifestyle modifications.  I usually have my patients do a cleanse for 7 days to 6 weeks, or even longer, depending on their particular needs.  Work with a trained medical provider to help determine what length of time is right for you.

How to prepare for a cleanse?

Like we would plan for any big trip to a new destination, we need to prepare, plan, and set out some main goals for our journey.  And by the way, as in all travels, it’s always a good idea to leave some room for the serendipitous excursions to occur.  When handled properly, they can be the best part of a trip!  So how can we plan for a safe and simple detoxification protocol?

  1. Take some basic measurements before you begin to track your progress as you go through your program.  For example, if weight loss is your goal, measure your waist, hips, and record your weight.  If, migraines are an issue, determine the duration, intensity and frequency.  Keep a journal; this will help you in more ways than one!
  2. Make lists!  Organize your pantry, toss out the junk, gather recipes, sketch out weekly menus, make shopping lists for healthy foods you will be eating and formulate a cooking schedule to ensure you allot time to prepare food for the week.
  3. Use journaling as a way to “cleanse” your inner world and relieve yourself of mental and emotional stress.
  4. Gather any supplements you need to take that have been advised for you by your medical provider.
  5. Think about the kind of exercise that will best complement your end goal and plan for it in your schedule.
  6. Detoxification requires you to slow down.  Make sure you fit time for deep relaxation into your plan.
  7. Often, unsavory side effects appear in the initial phase of a cleanse.  Two side effects to look for and keep track of in your journal are:
  • Constipation.  Move those bowels!  Drink plenty of purified water.  Try warm water with lemon first thing in the morning.  Often, taking 300 mg of magnesium citrate is helpful or try an Epsom salt bath.
  • Food allergies or sensitivities.  These can be obvious or obscure.  But chances are, as your body lets go of toxic waste, it will be easier to recognize a hidden reaction to gluten, dairy, soy or any of the other common food allergies.

Common symptoms the first few days of withdrawal from a toxic lifestyle and the SAD (Standard American Diet)

The following symptoms are very common at the beginning of the program and should dissipate within the first few days. Don’t worry, these symptoms are indicative that your body is eliminating toxins and are a good sign!

  • bad breath
  • constipation
  • achy, flu-like feeling
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • hunger
  • irritability
  • itchy skin
  • nausea
  • offensive body odor
  • sleep difficulties (too much or too little)

These symptoms can occur for a number of reasons. First, eliminating food allergies and un-junking the diet causes reactions similar to withdrawal from other addictive substances like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, or heroin. Note: We are often most addicted to the foods we are allergic to! Getting off those allergens can cause a brief, flu-like achy syndrome that may last one to three days. Second, toxins in our digestive tract may make us feel ill if we don’t eliminate them. The best way to get relief from these symptoms is to follow the recommendations below.

How to avoid withdrawal symptoms

Initially, those who consume the most caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, and those who have the most food allergies, will have the most difficulty. Symptoms usually disappear after three to four days. It is best to slowly reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, white flour, and over-the-counter medications (except as directed by your physician) a week or two before you start your program.

  1. Drink at least six to eight glasses of filtered water daily.  Stay away from plastic bottles; glass bottles are okay.
  2. To prevent headaches, make sure your bowels are clean.
  3. Fatigue is normal during a cleanse so allow more time for rest and sleep. To boost energy, exercise for 30 minutes a day.  Walking outside in fresh air is best.  Roll up those sleeves and let the sun hit you with some vitamin D!
  4. Take 1,000 mg buffered vitamin C with breakfast and dinner.  Take 300 mg magnesium citrate at dinner.
  5. Don’t wait until you are starving to eat!  Balance your blood sugar by eating protein-based meals and snacks every three to four hours.  Excellent sources of protein are baked or broiled fish, lean poultry, and legumes such as edamame or black beans.
  6. Heat is a great resource while cleansing as it helps draw out toxins from within.  Try a sauna or a warm bath with Epsom salts for 20 minutes a few times per week.
  7. While safe, these types of cleanses can still be stressful on the body and mind so remember to relax.  Actively engaging your parasympathetic nervous system helps restore your energy which your body needs to replenish itself.  Meditation, deep breathing, or any calming activity is good.
  8. Eliminate all refined sugars, flours, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, or addictive substances.  By allowing certain triggers to stay in the diet the body stays on the vicious cycle of cravings and addictive behavior.  Reset your biology to eliminate all triggers.
  9. Keep a journal and track your symptoms.  You should feel better in three to seven days.  If you do not feel well at this point, please exercise caution and check in with your doctor.
  10. Tune in to your body and listen to the cues it provides.  A cleanse is a great journey to learn more about understanding how to operate your very own owner’s manual!

Originally posted on my site, DrHyman.com

A Tale of Kale, Tribute to My Sister

Kolorful KaleBy Gloria Loring

It’s everywhere! I have people sending me recipes for it, serving it to me in salads, soups, and stews. Bags of kale chips beckon to me at the Whole Foods checkout counter. But my favorite connection to kale is through my brother-in-law.

For those of you who don’t know one bunch of greens from another, kale is a crinkly edged cousin of swiss chard, yet meatier. As a friend told me, “If kale were a woman, she’d be a real broad.” She’s tough, I can tell you that.

Six days after my sister’s journey with cancer ended, three hundred of us celebrated her in songs, tears, and smiles. To my surprise, my brother-in-law Eduardo, his face taut with suppressed emotion, walked to the podium to speak of the love of his life. His son Ian stood beside him. Eduardo spoke of Peggy’s determination to do whatever was required in her efforts toward healing. Efforts that included eating kale (as part of a vegan diet). Eduardo choose kale as the metaphor for how Peggy would take what looked prickly, ragged, unfamiliar, and lovingly ingest it. He spoke of watching her pray over her plain steamed kale and then eat it happily, when to him it looked like a weed to be pulled from the garden. To illustrate, Ian pulled a large bunch of kale from the plastic bag at his side. Chuckles spread through the crowd. Eduardo ended by comparing himself to the kale, still a bit prickly, but softened by all he had been through and the great gift of twenty years with my beautiful sister.

Two weeks later, Eduardo was at home thinking about the organic garden that Peggy had mothered so tenderly. In her last months she was too weak, the watering system broke, and everything shriveled. Perhaps, he thought, “I should replant it as a tribute to her.” He began walking to the back of the property to assess all there was to do. As he approached, he saw a desert wasteland of raised boxes, except for one tall bushy plant that had sprouted, without water, without care.

Peggy's KaleYes, it was head of kale, growing, flourishing, reaching up toward the light, just as my sister’s spirit did, all through her life, through the hospital stays, the surgery, the radiation, through the difficult nights and quiet final days. Bringing the best of herself, in spite of anything, everything. If that bunch of kale were a woman, she’d be my sister.

* * *

The former “Liz Chandler” on Days of Our Lives, Gloria Loring is a singer, songwriter, actress and author. Her new memoir, titled with a quote by Albert Einstein, is Coincidence Is God’s Way of Remaining Anonymous.

www.glorialoring.com, www.facebook.com/GloriaLoring, @GloriaLoring

3 Delicious Snack Recipes for On-the-Go!

Eating healthy while you’re out and about can be a difficult thing to manage. As you know, I tend to follow the 80/20 rule in my family – eating 100% healthy at home and mostly healthy (with some indulgences) while we’re out. Enjoying a yummy, not-so-healthy treat is one thing, though, and grabbing whatever is available because you’re starving is another. The last thing you want is to be stuck with convenience store food in a pinch, which is why packing nutritious snacks is always a good idea.

Here are 3 delicious, healthy snacks that are very easy to pack in your purse, diaper bag, or backpack for those long errand days:

kale-chipsized1. Vanishing Kale Chips

I call them vanishing kale chips because they do! Seriously. In like 2 seconds. You have never seen a bunch of kale disappear as quickly as this does. The chips are crispy, salty, and oh so satisfying.

I start with organic curly kale. The kale should be on the stiff side and a rich green color. If it is wilted and yellowish it is no good.

Ingredients:

  • kale – 1 bunch, curly
  • sesame oil – 2 tbsp
  • himalaya salt – 1/2 tsp

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 300.

Cut the middle rib out of the kale leaves. Use only the curly green part.

Cut the leaves into bite size chunks and wash well. Make sure that you dry the leaves thoroughly. If the kale is soggy when you put the oil on it it won’t crisp up.

Toss the leaves with the sesame oil. Sometimes I toss them with melted *Ghee which makes them buttery and decadent and taste like movie theater popcorn. Then salt the whole bunch while you are still tossing. Use a good quality sea salt or himalaya salt.

Spread the leaves out on the top of a baking tray; the holes will allow for air to come up from underneath and will result in maximum crunch. Don’t overload the tray. I make it in two batches. By the time the second batch is done, the first one has been demolished.

The kale reduces significantly, so don’t be surprised. When it is done it should be crispy but not overly brown. It takes about 20 minutes.

roasted-G-beans-1024x7682. Crunchy Roasted Garbanzo Beans

This recipe comes with a warning. These roasted garbanzo beans are highly addictive. If you sit down with a bowl of them you will not be able to stop yourself from finishing the whole yummy batch. The good news is that you don’t have to. They are extremely nutritious and low in calories, so go ahead. Indulge.

Ingredients:

  • garbanzo beans – 1 can
  • safflower oil – 2 tbsp
  • salt
  • cayenne powder (optional)
  • garlic powder (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400.

Rinse the garbanzo beans. Dry them with a paper towel. They really need to be dry or they won’t get crunchy.

Place on a flat baking tray, and add oil, salt and spices. I say that the garlic powder and cayenne pepper are optional because you can really add any spice that appeals to you. I use cayenne pepper and garlic powder because my family loves that combination. You can use onion power, turmeric, cumin, coriander or whatever spice combination whose flavors you like.

Cook for ~30 minutes. Shake them around a bit while they are cooking to ensure they crisp up evenly. The beans are done when they are crunchy and have a nice toasted look about them.

They disappear pretty quickly so put some aside for yourself. I have to hide mine behind my computer or I won’t get any at all…

Sam-w-apple-leather3. Apple Ginger Fruit Leather

Fruit leather? You can make it without a dehydrator? Yes, you can. The key is cooking it for a long time at a low temp.

Ingredients:

  • apple – 4 cups, chopped
  • ginger – 1 piece, about 1/2 inch cube
  • honey – 1 tbsp
  • parchment paper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250

Steam the apples and the ginger for about 5 minutes. I recommend steaming over boiling because you don’t want to apples to be soggy. Remember, we are taking the moisture out.

Puree the apples, ginger, and honey.

Pour into a pan lined with parchment paper. The pan I use is 9X12. Smooth the surface of the mixture with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula. Make sure that it is distributed evenly. The leather won’t cook evenly if there are thick parts and thin parts.

Bake at 250 for about 3 hours. Check it every 1/2 hour or so. When the leather is no longer mushy to the touch it is time to take it out.

The leather will be a little hard at this time. It needs to be left out for a few hours in order to soften up. When the leather has some give, cut it into strips and enjoy. It can be left out on the counter in an airtight container for weeks but, believe me, it won’t last that long.

 

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips.

5 Classic American Dishes Made Healthy for 4th of July!

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 1.12.33 PMHolidays almost always provide an excuse to have a feast, right? Unless the occasion calls for fasting, in which case a feast may come later. But for the most part, we celebrate, we commemorate, and we chow.

The 4th of July is no exception. This is a day many Americans spend grilling meat and veggies, squeezing lemons for lemonade, and making blueberry pancakes and apple pie. Because what better way to celebrate independence than to merrily flip hot dogs on the grill, surrounded by friends and family? It’s a bit of a stereotype, perhaps, but we’ll bet many of you have had at least one, if not many, Independence Days that exactly fit that bill.

The unfortunate reality is that many of the “classic American dishes” we enjoy on this and other holidays are not all that healthy, and some are downright vicious to our health. Luckily, there are ways to make some of these beloved recipes more healthy so that you and your family can enjoy an Independence Day feast without worrying about the consequences.

Here are 5 of our favorite recipes:

  1. For Breakfast: Eating pancakes for breakfast is kind of like having dessert in the morning, but it is a holiday, after all. To ease your mind a bit, these delicious blueberry lemon pancakes are made with half white flour and half whole wheat flour, which will at least add some fiber to balance out the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Enjoy with maple syrup, jam, butter, or just one their own!
  2. For Lunch: After that yummy, but heavy, breakfast you may want something light and green to munch on for lunch. Potato or pasta salad is typically the go-to picnic dish, but since we’re already enjoying lots of carbs and starch for breakfast and dinner, opt for something with more fiber. This kale slaw is the perfect choice for a light, refreshing midday meal.
  3. For Dinner: There’s perhaps no dish more classically American than a burger and fries. But this year, instead of wasting the calories on meat, cheese, and a big bun, get creative with this amazing veggie burger recipe. Lentils, mushrooms, and walnuts provide the main substance of the dish, packing lots of protein, fiber, and potassium. Serve these burgers with mustard, whole wheat buns, and sweet potato fries for something classically delicious and blessedly worry-proof.
  4. For Refreshments: It’s summer, it’s hot, you’re thirsty – you’re going to want something delicious and cool to sip throughout the day. Instead of buying juice or soda from the supermarket, make your own fresh-squeezed lemonade! It’s the only way you can control how much and what kind of sugar goes into sweetening your tasty beverage. This recipe calls for 4 cups of sugar, but try using maple syrup, coconut sugar, date sugar, or stevia as alternatives.
  5. For Dessert: Ice cream, ice cream, we all scream for ice cream! Ginger, peaches, and the sweet coolness of a dessert you can savor as fireworks paint the sky above you. Try out this recipe and be prepared to never eat another flavor of ice cream again.

What are your favorite 4th of July recipes? Let us know in the comments section below!

How to Balance pH for the Best Body You’ve Ever Had

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Summer is a season of renewal, and a great time to highlight pH balance, a critical factor in overall health, including maintaining a healthy digestive system, glowing skin, and a strong immune system. Like most things in life, it’s all about balance – in this case, between the level of acidity and alkalinity in your body. If your pH (short for potential of hydrogen) balance is too far in one direction or the other, it can be detrimental to your health.

I enlisted the help of  Dr. Jeffery Morrison to explain the specifics around pH balance, as well as easy dietary choices that help to correct imbalances. A leader in the Wellness field, Dr Morrison is a medical doctor as well as a nutrition expert. He heads up the Morrison Center in NYC and is the author of the book “Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind.

What is the importance of the acid/alkaline balance in the body?

Dr. Morrison: Our bodies work the best when we are able to maintain the proper pH. When the body is too acid or too alkaline, it doesn’t work optimally.

What causes an imbalance?

JM: Our bodies are very efficient at keeping the acid/alkaline balance, but if we carry too much stress and our acid levels get too high, then the body needs to work extra hard to maintain that balance, leaving little energy for healing and repair.

When the body is too acidic, the cells become deprived of the oxygen they need to efficiently deliver nutrients and energy throughout the body. To buffer the acid in our blood and maintain a proper pH, the body also needs to steal calcium from our bones and magnesium from our cells. That is why people who are acidic over an extended period of time tend toward osteoporosis, low energy, and shorter life spans.

If too much acid can hurt us, why do we need it?

JM: We need the acid to help fight infection. We tend to become acidic when we are fighting an acute infection like a cold or the flu or healing a wound. The body’s response to infection is inflammation. Temperature and circulation increase while oxygenation decreases; it’s like localized chemotherapy. As a consequence, acid levels increase.

This is why people tend to get really tired when they are sick. Cells need oxygen to make energy and the acidic environment inhibits the cells from getting that oxygen. This is a healthy response. We want this to happen. This is how our bodies heal. However, when this acute reaction becomes a chronic one, then we get into trouble.

What steps can people make to create more alkalinity in their body?

 JM: Eating the wrong food plays a big role in how acidic we are. People who eat processed food, drink soda, and eat candy tend to be more acidic. Other things that play a role in our pH levels are chronic infections, long-term use of prescription medications, too much protein, and stress.

food-chartWhat foods are best to eat to promote optimum pH?

JM: The best foods to boost your alkalinity are leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, celery, and swiss chard, as well as some fruits. To shoot for an optimum pH, people should eat a diet that is 70% alkaline and 30% acidic. Acidic foods like nuts, grains, and proteins are an essential part of your diet but should make up only 30% of your food intake.

What about non-dietary factors?

JM: The other things that people can do to reduce the acidity in their bodies are moderate exercise, stress management, and to drink plenty of water.

How can people find out if they are acidic?

JM: There is a very simple test that anyone can pick up in a health food store: pH Balance strips. You can choose either urine or saliva, but I feel that urine is more accurate. Use the strips with your first morning urine. If you test below a 5, then it is likely that you are acidic.

What will people feel when they switch over from being too acidic to becoming balanced?

JM: When your body’s pH normalizes, you will feel more energized and less achy. You will sleep better, your mind will be clearer, your skin color will improve, and your ability to fight off infections will increase. This is because your cells will have proper oxygenation which will allow your body to function at its highest level.

For more inspiration, here are 4 pH-balancing recipes:

Kale Chips
pH Balance Juice
Berry Kale Smoothie
Beet Fennel Soup

 

Chart credit: Better Body Choices

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips

Head Into Fall Healing The Body And Mind With Kale!

My last post I mentioned that losing weight and keeping it off is simply not just a matter of calories in versus calories out. If we center our lives around trying to cut out as many “bad” foods as we can and exercise off our guilty pleasures we are spending more time feeling guilty instead of feeling great. That is why I focus so much on inspiring people to think about what you can add to your shopping list instead of what you can remove. There was a point in my life that my list of what not to eat was so long that it only increased how guilty I felt about eating food in general.

I think guilt lowers your body’s metabolism as much as a sedentary lifestyle and overindulgence in unhealthy food. By increasing the list of things you want to add to your diet you may feel less deprived and more fulfilled. You can also add the sweets here and there but your body simply won’t be craving them when it is getting a good supply of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. So eat plenty of the super foods, indulge in natures healing powers and fill up on feeling good. Then once in a while enjoy your cupcake or ice cream guilt free and indulge in living a life you love in a body you love now!

So… all hale kale! Kale is a very dark green leafy vegetable that you might see in the grocery store and wonder what in the world to do with it. You can steam it, sauté it, mix it with fresh tomato and garlic, or mix it with a whole grain like quinoa. If you don’t know what to do with it look online for recipes or ask your vegetarian friends for ideas. If all else fails, go into your local health food salad bar like whole foods. You will always find it there!

Kale is considered the king of greens and is one of the nutrition stand-outs among vegetables. It’s rich green color is a give away for it’s high nutritional value and it’s tough leaf is a sure sign of how rich it is in fiber. Fiber is what makes is so low in calories and beneficial for detoxifying your system. Kale is a health enthusiasts dream food because it is one of the best sources of beta-carotene believed to be one of the major players in protecting against cancer, heart disease and age related chronic conditions. The phytonutrients in kale signal our genes to increase production of enzymes involved in detoxification. It helps strengthen our immune system as well as our bones, maintains healthy nerves and promotes optimal function of your thyroid.

Really the list of benefits for kale goes on and on but the bottom line, it is a super food that heals the body and really does taste good. Next time you see it in your grocery store buy a few bunches. Like spinach, when you cook it, it shrinks a great deal so buy extra and cook plenty so you can indulge all week long.

The next time you are at the local farmers market or in the produce section of your grocery store pick up some Kale and give thanks that everyday you have another opportunity to add more pleasure to you life!
 

PHOTO (cc): Flickr/ photobunny

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