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It’s Not About The Pasta!

After a recent speaking engagement where I confessed my prior carb addiction, I had a gentleman ask me, “Did you just eat lots of pasta, or something?”

I think noodles are universally equated with carb-loading – maybe a kickback from high school training days when the coach said you had to eat spaghetti the night before an event so you would have plenty of fuel for the race.

But what really constitutes carb loading?

Does it just mean lots of bread and pasta? I was carb-loading when I:

  • added 3 fruits to the morning smoothie.
  • fixed whole wheat waffles and pancakes to provide a “healthy” start to the day.
  • poured a bowl of cereal and put skim milk on it.
  • cooked a vegetarian dinner of beans and rice.
  • ate my vegetables without butter to avoid “clogging my arteries.”
  • baked cake with applesauce to stay on a low-fat diet.
  • had a sandwich and a piece of fruit for lunch, with a cookie or chips as a treat.
  • drank juice with my breakfast.

Carbohydrates include all fruits, all sweeteners, all legumes, and all grains.

Carbohydrates are not bad!

Honey is a whole food, as are lentils, oranges, and oats. I believe in real food.

The problem is two-fold:

First, we eat carbohydrates alone, without the moderating effect of fats and proteins to slow their rush into the bloodstream. Imagine trying to sit on a 3-legged stool like this:

We need balance!

Second, we eat carbohydrates refined – with many of the nutrients removed.

A beet is sweet. Of it’s 7.8 grams, 5.5 grams of that is sugar. That’s why beets are used to manufacture sugar. But the intact whole beet also contains the Vitamin A, folate, and magnesium needed to metabolize the sugar. It has fiber to slow the entry of glucose into the bloodstream. Strip those away, and you have an emergency to lower your blood sugar. Plus, your body goes into a deficit to process the sugar molecules.

So What’s a Body to Do?

  • Substitute an avocado for some of the fruits in the smoothie, then add collagen powder. Use full-fat greek yogurt in place of milk or water.
  • Try almond or coconut flour in place of half the whole grain flour in your pancake recipe. Add chia seeds and top with coconut cream.
  • Skip the cold cereal. Cook steel cut oats in a crock-pot overnight and serve with butter and nuts.
  • Add a heaping scoop of unrefined red palm oil to your bean dishes, along with a pinch or five of dried crayfish, like the Africans do.
  • Dress your vegetables with butter, olive oil, or even homemade mayonnnaise.
  • Use coconut oil in your baked goods, and sweeten with beets, dates or bananas. Mix in sour cream to make cake moist, and beaten egg whites for a fluffy product that adds protein.
  • Bag the sandwich and enjoy soups simmered with bone broth, assorted vegetables, and the protein of your choice. Boil a batch on your day off and portion into smaller container for easy grab-and-go.
  • Complement any meal with crudites, cottage cheese, and a dash of seasoning.
  • Instead of cookies, blend  avocado and fresh fruit for a quick pudding or avocado and frozen fruit for a flavorful ice cream.
  • Drink water. Eat food. Fruit is food, not beverage.

Is it Time to Kiss Sugar Good-bye?

How do you know when your love affair with sweets is betraying you? Check your answers in these 3 categories:

Food Addictions

  1. Are there any foods you feel you just couldn’t give up?
  2. Do you frequently experience rashes, congestion, wheezing, itchiness, or other allergic symptoms?
  3. Do you feel withdrawal symptoms if you try to cut back amounts of favorite foods?
  4. Do you have compulsions to eat, even when you’re not hungry?
  5. Do you experience guilt over your eating behaviors?

Blood Sugar Instability

  1. Do you feel tired after eating?
  2. Is that spare tire around your middle growing, or resistant to weight-loss efforts?
  3. Do you crave carbs?
  4. Do you have high triglycerides or low HDL cholesterol?
  5. Do you have experience irritability, shakiness, the jitters, or headache with fasting or skipped meals?

System Toxicity

  • Do you have a general feeling of malaise?
  • Do you have frequent or chronic sinus infections?
  • Do you regularly experience digestive complaints, such as bloating, gas, reflux, or irritable bowel?
  • Do you have unexplained joint or muscle pain?
  • Are you plagued by moodiness, brain fog, or memory issues?

If you answered yes to more than 3 questions, your body may be telling your it’s on sugar overload. It may be warning you of imminent pre-diabetes, heart disease, immune dysfunction, hormone imbalance, and other chronic health challenges that can be reversed with simple dietary changes. I can help you feel free again. Breaking a sugar addiction isn’t so much about will power as it is about physiology. Nutritional Therapy can show you the path to change your life.

Superfood Snack for the New Year

Here’s a treat that will treat you! With 3 superfoods to supercharge your energy and boost your immune system, these power balls have enough protein and healthy fat to keep your blood sugars from surging.

Goji berries are purported to improve immunity and fight cancer, help stabilize blood sugars, detoxify the liver, boost your mood and increase fertility. But that’s not all. They are loaded with trace minerals.

Hemp hearts have a complete profile of essential amino acids (think protein) and have a perfect ratio of Omega 3 fatty acids to Omega 6 fatty acids.

Cacao powder is not only a mighty anti-oxidant, it is also high in iron and magnesium.

Keep a batch of these Hemp-Cacao Bombs in the freezer for those blood sugar emergencies when you need a boost now.

Ingredients

1/4 c. dried goji berries, processed to a gritty meal

1/2 c. chopped nuts

1/4 c. hemp hearts

1/2 c. chopped pitted dates

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. vanilla

2 Tb. 100% cacao powder

1/8 c. unsweetened coconut flakes + 1/8 c. hemp hearts

Instructions

In a food processor, process the berry meal, nuts, 1/4 c. hemp hearts, dates, salt, vanilla and cacao until the mass becomes uniform, sticky, and forms a lump.

Roll into 1″ balls and roll in the mixed coconut flakes and hemp hearts. Keep refrigerated or frozen.

 

You Might Be Diabetic If…

If you were standing in a room with 9 other people, chances are that one of them would be diabetic. Two, maybe even three of them would be pre-diabetic. The tragedy is that most people don’t know their blood sugars are unstable until damage has been done and a doctor puts them on medication. But luckily, Type II diabetes can usually be remediated with diet and lifestyle changes. Check these warning signs of diabetes:

You might be diabetic if…

  • You know the whereabouts of every public restroom in town.
  • You feel as parched as sage brush.
  • You’re patting yourself on the back for losing weight (when you haven’t done anything).
  • Carb cravings hound you like a stalker.
  • You sometimes feel as shaky as seismograph.
  • You prefer sleep to sex.
  • You could win an audition for Oscar the Grouch.
  • You just scheduled your optician to check your vision.
  • That tingly feeling in your hands and feet isn’t love.
  • You’ve had a Urinary Tract Infection or a yeast infection more times than you’ve seen a movie this year.

If any of these fit, you should request an A1C, also called HbA1c, blood test from a doctor.* This test gives information about your average levels of blood sugar over the past 3 months. A score between 5.7 and 6.4 is considered pre-diabetic. Anything higher than 6.5 signifies diabetes.

If you are concerned about your blood sugars, and are ready to make changes, I can work with you to reduce your A1C reading. ReStart Classes are also helpful.

*Some walk-in labs allow you to order your own lab tests without a doctor’s requisition. There are also drugstore kits available to test your own levels at home.

 

Creamy Oyster Stew

Classic chowder with oysters, broth, and cream is not only a New Years’ tradition and warm comfort food in the chilly depths of winter, it is packed with sugar-stabilizing nutrients! Oysters contain lots of B vitamins, chromium, and zinc, all of which are beneficial for healthy blood sugars. A homemade broth adds the amino acid L-glutamine, necessary for your liver to convert excess sugars to storage, then release them again when your energy slumps.

Additionally, the cream controls your uptake of sugars into your bloodstream, creating an even burn, instead of rocketing and plummeting blood sugars. Our recipe uses cassava root (also known as yucca) in place of flour or potatoes to give it body, cutting the glycemic index to half of what a conventional recipe ontains.

You can’t go wrong with this easy, nutrient-dense recipe. It’s even budget-friendly!

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lb. cassava/yucca root*

3 cups bone broth

2 cans (8 oz.) oysters

1 cup cream (may use coconut cream if dairy intolerant)

2 Tb. red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

dash of red pepper flakes, optional

 

Instructions

In a heavy-bottomed pot, sautee onion and garlic in butter until translucent. Meanwhile, pare the skin from the cassava and cut into 1″ cubes. Add the cassava and broth to the pot. Simmer 15-20 minutes, until cassava is very soft. With an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and heat through.

*found with specialty produce at the grocery store – usually with a waxed coating to keep it fresh. Generally imported from South America.

Find more recipes to support healthy blood sugars here.

 

 

 

Make Your Own Bone Broth

Having the indispensible skill of making broth from bones, water and vegetables will save you money while sustaining you with necessary minerals and amino acids – more bio-available in this form than from a supplement.

Ingredients

Soup bones, oxtail, knuckle bones, marrow bones, ribs, wings, fish bones, or carcass from roasted poultry

Water – enough to cover bones

Vinegar – 1 Tb. for every quart of water

2 carrots for every 2 lbs. of bones

2 celery stalks for every 2 lbs. of bones

1 onion for every 2 lbs. of bones

1 sprig of thyme for every 2 lbs. for bones

Instructions

In a stock pot, add water and vinegar to bones and let sit for 1 hour to begin dissolving the minerals out of the bones.

Turn the heat to medium-high and add the thyme and chopped vegetables. As soon as the water begins to reach a boil, skim off any scum that rises to the top, reduce heat to low and cover.

Cook at just barely a ripple for 2 hours if cooking fish, 4 hours for poultry or 8 hours for beef or pork.

Strain. Pour into quart jars and refrigerate until needed.

Combine everything in a slow cooker and set to low if you prefer! Or put in a pressure cooker and process for 20 minutes.

Merry Christmas and Healthy New Year

I’ll be signing off until after the New Year begins. May you have a joyous holiday. Remember these 6 tips to keep your holidays merry and your new year healthy:

  1. Limit sugar and refined vegetable oils. No other combination of foods is quite as inflammatory, making you susceptible to disease. But if you make choices from the edges of the store (produce department, butcher block, and dairy case), you’ll be avoiding refined and processed foods. So keep it simple, and keep it whole.
  2. Go to be early. Treat yourself to an extra hour of sleep and pamper your immunity by giving your body extra restorative time. You’ll still make it to work on time in the morning, without the stress of snoozing your alarm. Though it is a tempation in these dark winter evenings to let electric light replace sunlight, your circadian rhythm will thank you if you do not use night time to be productive.
  3. Be mindful. Holiday stress can take us all into cerebral ruminations. But stay connected with your body;  delight in all the season has to offer. Find joy in the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of the holidays. Be present and cherish your relationships. Emotional wellness is every bit as powerful as physiological wellness.
  4. Eat DIY meals: the more you cook at home, the more you are able to limit excess carbs, processed foods, unnatural fats, artificial ingredients and preservatives, and set your portion sizes. The health benefits in the long run far outweight any temporary convenience in the moment.
  5. Move often: New research is showing that even marathoners who sit long hours for work have increased risk of disease. Those who stay active throughout the day have a brighter outlook than those who attend the gym for an hour, according to Chris Kresser in his book, Unconventional Medicine.
  6. Remember to take probiotics. Of course, naturally fermented food is the best option for keeping your gut healthy, but even popping probiotic supplements can help maintain your vitamin production, digestion, and even mood throughout the winter.

Holiday Treats That Won’t Let You Down

Nobody likes to feel left out at a holiday party. And certainly no one wants to be sick for Christmas. So how can you have your cake and eat it, too? How can you enjoy social warmth and celebrate festive food without indulging your sweet tooth and weakening your immunity? I’ve scoured the internet to find whole food dessert recipes for that won’t trigger a sugar rush and subsequent crash! Here’s my winning  line-up of TEN remarkable desserts:

Spiced English Pear Trifle from Autoimmune Wellness

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares from Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen

 

Key Lime Pie from Pretty Pies

 

Chocolate Beetroot Cake from the Nourished Psychologist

with Chocolate Avocado Icing from Chocolate Covered Katie

 

batch_carob cup cranberry fig ice cream pro

Mini Carob Cups with Cranberry Ice Cream from Autoimmune Wellness

 

Sweet Potato Pie Pudding from Blissful Basil

 

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookie from Gourmande in the Kitchen

 

Coconut Milk Eggnog from Wellness Mama

 

Chocolate Turtles from Meghan Telpner

 

Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge from Bakerita

 

Safely Steer Through the Season’s Eating

Willpower and the holidays don’t mix. You’ll make it up in January, you tell yourself. But you know you’re going to hate how you feel all month – heavy, stagnant, and bloated. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Remember these key words, all starting with S.

Sleep: You eat to keep going, especially sweet foods that give you instant energy. So being well-rested is the first step to avoid over-indulging this holiday season.

Snack: Rather than skipping a meal and saving up the calories for the party tonight, eat your meals as you normally would, especially breakfast. People who skip breakfast tend to eat heavier later in the day. So eat balanced and stabilize your blood sugars from the start of the day. Then select a smart snack right before the big event so that your appetite is reduced and you can make wiser choices about the holiday fare.

Supply: Offer to bring a dish to that dinner party you’ve been invited to. When you control the ingredients, you can insure they’re calorie light and  nutrient dense.

Select: Be picky about what you eat. Avoid fillers, like rolls. Use the buffet spread as an opportunity to go for the healthiest options. Give yourself permission to NOT clean your plate at the catered event. Stick to the basics: some protein, plenty of vegetables, a bit of complex carbohydrate.

Slow down: You will eat less if you take time between each bite and don’t line up for seconds before your satiety receptors have had time to register your fullness. Wait 10 minutes between courses.

Savor: Be mindful of the tastes, fragrances, and textures. Chew thoroughly, and allow yourself to be satiated without gobbling.

Sit: You should never eat on the run any time of year. But especially during this season, be present with your companions and remember that the gathering is more about the purpose and the people than the food.

Small Sizes: Try using a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. Special occasion food is often very rich. It takes very little to fill your nutritional requirement, so there is no need to super-size your servings.

Sip: Beverages often contain a lot of empty calories. It is smart to take only tiny doses of the drinks. For actual thirst, use plain water.

Skate, ski, stride, shovel, or sled: Staying active throughout the month will help keep your metabolism from becoming sluggish. Take the stairs whenever possible, and fit in 2 or 3 walking sessions of 10 minutes each throughout the day.

Substitute: Instead of making those goodies for the neighbors that you will snitch from, consider more wholesome food options: a soup mix in a jar, a dry rub packet, herbal teas, giardiniera, or granola.

Smile: Last of all, ditch the guilt, and simply feel all the love, gratitude, and cheer that surrounds you.

 

 

How to Stay Well This Holiday

Aside from washing your hands and getting enough sleep, make these two dietary changes to bolster your immunity this Christmas:

1. Avoid Carb-Loading:
  • Refined carbohydrates rob your body’s store of vitamins and minerals in order to digest them, so you actually go into debt with each mouthful. Zinc deficiency, and insufficient amount of Vitamins C and E may hinder your immunity.
  • Sugar decreases the responsiveness of the white bloods that gobble up invading germs – at least for a couple of hours. So if you are nibbling on treats throughout the day, this could effectively take your immunity down a notch or two. Eat more fruits and vegetables instead, to provide antioxidant vitamins C and E. Snack on pumpkins seeds, and increase your meat intake to insure you are getting adequates amounts of zinc.
  •  Eating sugar steals B vitamins from your reserves and thus cripples your liver’s ability to detoxify your body.
  • Blood sugar dysregulation occurs in the absence of healthy. This in turn creates a free radical build-up, which puts the body into a catabolic (breaking down) state, rather than anabolic (building up)state.
  • A diet chronically high in too many carbs and not enough fats eventually leads to insulin resistance. Insulin Resistance blocks the anti-inflammatory PG1 pathway, leading to inflammation and disease.
  • A person with insulin resistance also has mineral resistance because insulin helps carry the minerals into the cells. Since zinc is needed to for healthy immunity, a person with mineral resistance is immune compromised.

Eat Natural, Unrefined Fats:

  • Omega 3’s are involved in the anti-inflammatory response. Inflammation is a well-known symptom of infectious diseases.
  • Fatty acids are used to construct the cell membranes of every cell in the body, including white blood cells. In a low-fat diet or diet composed of modern refined oils, the cell membranes cannot be constructed properly. Since that membrane is what allows the cell to communicate and interface with other cells, a poorly constructed white blood cell cannot do its job!
  • White blood cells also require adequate protein to be manufactured. Healthy fats and proteins often come together. (In nature, meat, dairy, and eggs are a combination of fats and proteins.) A low-fat diet usually means too many carbs and not enough proteins.
 
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