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Savory or Sweet: Breakfast the Nutrient Dense Way

I’m a “cereal killer.” You could say my vendetta is to avenge the health wrongs instigated by the refined carbohydrate breakfasts of the American people: enriched flour waffles and pancakes drenched in maple-flavored high-fructose corn syrup; shortening-filled, baseball-size muffins and donuts; insulin-triggering juices; and energy-zapping cereals that create alternating waves of high and low blood sugars in the body.

If you look at non-westernized cultures, their breakfasts look the same as their lunches as dinners: an appealing blend of raw and cooked produce dressed in natural unrefined fats, paired with slow-burning whole starches (like plantains, cassava and brown rice) and wild-caught or traditionally raised animal products.

With the two recipes below, courtesy of the Nutritional Therapy Association, you can return to eating that is in harmony with your physiology. You can satisy your appetite for sweet or savory while eating an optimal balance of carbs, fats, and proteins that won’t send your energy dipping, your blood sugars soaring, and your health plummeting.

Savory Kale and Hemp Salad

The apple cider vinegar marinade makes this massage kale salad as tender as if it had been cooked, while still retaining all of the live enzymes. Serve it with egg and avocado for a well-rounded breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale, washed, thick part of stem removed, and cut in chiffonade (fine ribbons)
  • 1 tsp unrefined salt
  • 2 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Place kale in bowl and add salt. Using your hands, massage the salt into the kale. Almost immediately, the kale softens. Continue for 1-3 minutes. The longer you massage, the softer the kale becomes, acting as if it is cooked. As when you cook greens, the volume reduces greatly. You will create a deep green sauce as well from the massaging technique.

Then add raw apple cider vinegar and toss. Add hemp seeds and toss. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and add chopped tomatoes. Toss once more and serve.

Sweet Omega 3 Smoothie

Spring is all about enjoying the abundance of fresh produce available using easy preparation. Boost the antioxidant content of your smoothie by using dark berries as the fruit component!

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving of your favorite protein powder
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh fruit
  • 1⁄4 cup frozen fruit
  • 1 tsp of your favorite liquid Omega-3 supplement
  • 1 Tbsp full fat plain yogurt or coconut cream

Blend and enjoy!

5 Ways You Crave Sugar

You feel deprived. Or desperate. Or foggy. Or you’re keyed in to a particular food. Or you need a stimulant.

These different ways of craving sweets can be indicative of why you’re craving. And knowing the reason for your craving will multiply your success for stopping your sugar addiction in its tracks!

Would you feed bananas to a cat, or fish to a monkey? Of course not, so why would you correct an emotional addiction with probiotics, or low blood sugars with social interaction?

Sometimes you crave because your customs, habits, and circumstances induce powerful brain cues. For example, you think about cake on birthdays, hot chocolate when it snows, or millk and cookies on Christmas Eve.

But that’s not the same as the signals your body sends out when it is deficient in amino acids or when you’re dehydrated, or when you need fatty acids. In short, nutrient shortfalls cause cravings completely separate from socio-emotional cues. This category includes lack of fuel from hypoglycemia, and also fuel shortages because of insulin resistance.

Then there’s the rush you get because you are addicted to a food. It’s a literal physiological occurrence. The body’s histamine reaction to a food that you are sensitive to is followed by a dopamine hit and an endorphin release. In a strange twist of nature, you want more of the very food that is harming you!

When your gut bugs talk to your brain, it’s a different sort of craving, born by the microbiome’s need for food. Different strains of yeasts, bacteria, and parasites have different fuel requirements. While certain desirable strains feast on vegetable fiber, other less beneficial strains pig-out on simple sugars.

Lastly, you often crave because you are stressed or tired – or both! In either case, you are trying to run on empty and you need a quick fix.

There are different nutritional answers for each of these scenarios. That’s why I have created a class to guide you through the key characteristics of all five types of craving and the strategies you can employ to overcome them. Join me locally here, or request the introductory price when our online version becomes available.

The Skinny on Fats

The 74 trillion cells of your body need fuel to do their work – of seeing, hearing, tasting,  digesting, growing, hugging, loving, and all the other things you do as a human being.

These cells also need raw materials to repair themselves, and to reproduce. When you don’t have enough energy, that’s a sign that your cells are short on fuel.

Nutrition on a cellular level

Maybe you didn’t eat what they needed today, or maybe the supply line has been hijacked. That happens when the membrane around the cell is defective. Every cell is encased by a lipoprotein bi-layer. That’s fancy talk for a two-way window that passes nutrients in and toxins out. It’s made from fatty acids and proteins. For your body to make this bi-layer without appropriate fats would be like weaving a blanket without yarn.

Not only that, fats provide essential building blocks to produce vitamin D when sunlight hits your skin. And dietary fats enable you to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K from food. So a low-fat diet is a low-vitamin diet! Certainly you can’t expect your cells to work for long without vitamins!

And what about energy production itself – the ATP cycle you learned about in your high school physiology class. You body can use ketones (from protein), glucose, or fatty acids.

Fatty acids are the most efficient way to run the ATP cycle. Ketones are used in extreme situations, but are not the body’s normal fuel choice. Glucose comes from carbohydrates and is the fuel your cells use when under stress. But glucose is like kindling. It burns hot and fast and extinguishes in an instant. It must be replenished constantly. So, fueling on glucose actually creates cravings! The body experiences a drop in blood sugars when the fuel runs out, and you feel exhausted and unsatiated.

Fats however, burn slowly and evenly. They create sustained energy. They tell the body that you feel satiated. They free you from dizziness, brain fog, and mood swings. They take you off the roller coaster and restore your energy.

Eating the Right Kinds of Fats

The big question about fats, then, is not whether to eat them, but rather which ones to eat.   Some fats are definitely damaging. Consuming trans-fats and hydrogenated fats is like putting a pancake in a CD player – it just gums up the works!

Fats should be real! A real food occurs in nature, it is just one ingredient, you know where it comes from, and it works in harmony with your body as it has for thousands of years. Some such real fats include butter, ghee tallow, lard, coconut oil, olive oil, red palm oil, nuts, seeds, and avocadoes. Real oils are expeller-pressed and have not been exposed to high heat or chemicals.

Do not use cottonseed, canola, corn, or soybean oils, as these industrial seed oils are often made from genetically-modified seeds, contain high levels of pesticides, and have been processed with toxic chemicals. Do not use shortening or margarine, as they have been hydrogenated.

Try these five ways to get more healthy fat into your diet:

  1. Butter your vegetables. It helps absorb the vitamins they contain.
  2. Cook with heat-stable fat that is solid at room temperature, rather than a liquid oil which is susceptible to oxidation at higher temperatures. Throw away your vegetable oil, and save your olive oil for salad dressings.
  3. Eat fatty wild-caught fish. It is a substantial source of essential Omega 3 (not made by the body) and DHA and EPA, both of which decrease inflammation in the body, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cancer.
  4. Eat fatty cuts of pastured, organic meat, because this is where the Omega 3 fatty acids are stored. However, cut the fat off of feedlot and factory-raised meat because toxins are stored in fat, and these animals have been exposed to pesticide-laden grains.
  5. Eat pastured eggs. The yolk is almost all fat, and if the hens have been free to eat their natural diet in the sunshine and chase crickets, the amount of essential Omega 3’s can be up to 5 times higher than eggs from factory-raised chickens.

Parties Without Party-Pooping

Fall off the diet wagon and enjoy yourself, or stick to the plan and avoid the social event. That seems to be the quandry you face repeatedly when you make a commitment to eat healthier.

These 12 tips can help you navigate the buffet line, the potluck, and the dinner party successfully.

Meal principles, not meal plans

The goal of a meal plan is to teach you how to eat. So take what you know, and go to the party, confident that you can follow general guidelines for health without counting portions or over-analyzing ingredients. Start with the basics: balance your carbs, fats, and proteins; eat only until satiated; avoid empty calories; eat color and variety.

Food quality over food quantity

Research is now showing that the type of food is much more important than how much of it you eat, because you will stop after consuming a certain volume, regardless of what was in it. Brussels Sprouts and pretzels are both carbs with equal filling power. Which will nourish you?

Watch hunger cues, not calories

People who only eat when hungry and stop when they feel satiated are more successful at maintaining a healthy weight and normal metabolism than those who try to outsmart their bodies’ needs by calculating an externally-specified number of calories. Do you  think that a coach on the internet  knows your daily needs better than your own body does?

Progress, not perfection

You are on a continuum of growth. You know how to nourish yourself better today than you did when you were 2. But you are still learning. Bodies change, and science continually adds new knowledge and research to our understanding, so it is unlikely that you will ever reach a state of flawless food consumption. The point is to do a little better each day, perhaps hydrating more, selecting a few more fresh vegetables, or simply adding more Omega 3’s to your routine. Wherever you are, shun complacency, but be realistic.

Your uniqueness is a gift

Instead of being ashamed that your are making different food choices than those around you, who may be over-indulging or piling detrimental options on their plate, see yourself as a ring leader. Perhaps your family and friends just need a little encouragement to follow suit. Your initiative could be the factor that changes your office culture.

More water, less soda and coffee

Have you ever mistaken thirst for hunger? Have you consumed too many calories by drinking them? Since the body is 80% water, you can never go wrong by asking for a glass of fresh water to hold in your hand while you socialize.

The best diet is whole foods

There are many conflicting philosophies out there, from vegan to keto, and from intermittent fasting to eating every 2-3 hours. But all nutritionists will agree that food from nature is superior to processed food. So regardless of what food plan you are following, opt to eat REAL.

Add before you subtract

No one wants to feel deprived. In fact, going without something can actually drive you to it! So instead of sitting at the table with an empty plate, grab a safe option to fill up on. You might try fruit, olives, avocados, crudites, or even nuts to replace dessert.

More IS better with veggies

Fill half your plate with vegetables, if possible. They are so low on the glycemic index, so high in phytonutrients, and so full of fiber and vitamins and minerals, that by the time you finish them, you probably won’t want more food. Even if you do, you will have provided yourself with a nutrient-dense foundation.

Eat protein for breakfast

Breakfast buffets are killers for blood sugars. The swings set up with those pastries and pancakes will plague you with fatigue and cravings for the rest of the day. So do yourself a favor, and opt for the eggs, meat patty, and plain Greeek yogurt to keep yourself stable all day.

To reduce sweets, increase natural fats

Sugars can leave you hungry and roaming for more, like an exhausted fire waiting for kindling. Fats are satiating, providing long, slow, burning fuel, like a log on the fire. Stick to unprocessed choices, like butter, coconut oil, olive oil, or avocados.

DIY is always in style

Special diets are accepted these days: there’s always the gluten-free, the dairy-free, or the meat-free crowd, so by all means, if you are uncomfortable with the menu, bring your own! It’s not hard to say, “I have food sensitivities,” or “I have special dietary considerations.” Most people won’t even ask why, but if they do, you have an opportunity to share your food philosophy!

 

Canary in a Coal Mine!

If you could predict your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease with a single marker, would you use that marker to define your lifestyle from now on in order to prevent the disease?

Insulin Resistance may be that marker – the canary in the coal mine, says Amy Berger, author of Alsheimer’s Antidote.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the Result of an Energy Crisis!

The AD brain is a shrunken brain. The axons and dendrites – the fingerlike sending and receiving ends of the neurons – are shrunken. In this condition, signals cannot cross the synaptic gap between two neurons, and messages fail be to be relayed. According to Berger, the atrophied condition is a protective measure by the body to conserve energy when there is a shortage.

But why would there be a an energy shortfall in the brain? Because of Mitochondrial Dysfunction, which is always found in AD, Berger says. Mitochondrial Dysfunction and the resulting energy shortage triggers the neuron shrinkage!

Mitochondrial Dysfunction Means the Generator is Damaged

Inside every cell is a tiny powerhouse, the mitochondria. It is surrounded by two membranes – an inner one and an outer one. These membranes act like bouncers in a bar – they let the good guys in and kick out the bad ones. For a cell, good guys are nutrients and bad guys are waste materials. The nutrients fuel the mitochondria’s process of creating energy. When the bouncer membrane shuts out nutrients, the mitochondrial generator is incapable of providing enough energy.

Well,  the modern diet is beating up the cell membranes around the mitochondria the way a scoundrel might rough up a bouncer. The membranes need proteins for their construction. But unfortunately, proteins are subject to glycation. That’s a condition where proteins become sticky and cross-linked because of chronically excessive glucose in the blood (think high refined carbohydrate consumption.) A glycated mitochondrial membrane can’t accept nutrients into the mitochondria.

Berger warns that the predominant abnormality in AD is a 45% reduction in glucose utilization in the brain, meaning even when the raw materials are available for energy production, they aren’t being consumed. This reduction in fuel consumption can be observed years – even decades – before AD symptoms present themselves!

High Insulin Precedes Glycation Damage

Insulin actually has a protective role of removing glucose from the blood before it can do any damage. The higher your blood sugars go, the more insulin is released to sweep the glucose into the cells. So if mitochondrial membranes are glycated, that means insulin is no longer doing its job! In other words, you have become insulin resistant! See the cascade? Insulin resistance can occur years before blood sugars become chronically elevated, and chronically high blood sugars are damaging the mitochondrial membrane and causing dysfunction. That dysfunction is a pre-cursor to the manifestation of AD.

What if You Could Stop Insulin Resistance?

You can! By eating a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet, properly balanced! Start by eliminating white flour and white sugar. A nutritional therapist can help you fine tune your diet further.

 

A Love Affair with Curry

This is a guest post from Kathryn Akomah-Mordi, owner and mastermind of Mordi Photographie. She loves ethnic cooking almost as much as she loves natural light photography.

The first time I ever had curry, I fell in love! The flavors were incredibly warm and bright!

Not too long after, I came down with strep throat. I vividly remember sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for the lab results while my mom read a magazine. She excitedly quoted that curry could help relieve sore throats!

I currently have over 8 varieties of curry in my pantry, but only recently did I learn that the health benefits of curry extend beyond sore throat relief. Curry is one of those foods that supports gut health. It helps us break down and assimilate our food.

A good curry is a balance of all 5 flavors: sweet for building the body and storing energy, salty to maintain fluids and for electrolyte balance, sour to tonify the liver and improve sluggish digestion, bitter for detoxification and movement, and umami to insure enough protein to create blood cells, anti-bodies, enzymes and hormones.

Not only are curry dishes balanced in flavor, they also have a balance of macro-nurients. This means that the ratios of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats (the healthy ones, like coconut milk) are just what your body needs to stay fueled for hours. This balance even helps curb your cravings, so that you don’t go looking for potato chips or cookies later on!

Finally, curry is a blend of many spices, each of which have their own health benefits, such as improved immunity, decreased inflammation, lowered blood sugars, and better digestion.

 

Here are some of the most common curry ingredients, and what they purportedly have to offer:
  • Cumin – aids digestion, improves immunity
  • Turmeric – anti-inflammatory, improves antioxidant absorption
  • Coriander – lowers blood sugar, eases digestive discomfort, decreases blood pressure, improves cholesterol
  • Ginger – aids bile flow, digestive stimulant
  • Fenugreek & Fennel – anti gas/bloating
  • Mustard seed – omega 3 fatty acids
  • Cloves – reduce inflammation, improve digestion
  • Nutmeg – relieves pain, soothes indigestion, detoxifies, improves cognitive function
  • Cinnamon – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, fights diabetes and infections, supports heart health
  • Cardamon – GI protection, cholesterol control, improved circulation, helps fight infection
  • Cayenne – relieves migraines, prevents blood clots, supports detox, boosts metabolism, supports weight loss
  • Lemongrass – treats digestive tract spasms, stomach ache, high blood pressure and vomiting; relieves muscle pain
  • Kaffir Lime Leaf – helps the liver and lymphatic system cleanse the blood, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, stress reducer
  • Galangal – anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, eases stomach pain

Now, I don’t go around promising any food as a guaranteed cure to illness, but I definitely like to stack the odds in my favor! So why not use curry as often as you can? You can use these 3 basic principles for creating a good curry dish:

Principle 1: Be generous with your spices. Spices not only bring flavor, but also texture to dishes. Most supermarkets sell spices in misleadingly small containers, so it’s easy to skimp on how much you use. You can buy bigger packets from Asian supermarkets or online to encourage spooning in the spices with a freer hand. (You can store them in the freezer to stop them from going stale.)

Principle 2: Decide what to add to your curry (which meat and vegetables), then how to cook your ingredients. Many curries start with onion, ginger, and garlic. This trio provides the deep base flavor of most curries, equivalent to onion, carrot, and celery in the French tradition. You may choose to simply sweat them for a lighter curry, or cook them long and slow to carmelize them for a richer, darker dish. Next decide whether you will sautee/stir-fry the meat(s)/vegetables, grill them, or simmer them in the sauce.

Principle 3: Choose what will give your curry sauce its body. This will normally be one, or a combination, of the following: tomatoes, pureed peppers or chilies, yogurt or cream, coconut milk, spinach, or finely diced onion.

As you follow these basic principles, you will find the use of curry to be simple and enjoyable. With a little practice, you will be improvising and creating your own curry recipes! You may even wish to create your own curry blend. Heres is a basic yellow curry spice blend to get you started. Adapt it to match your palate perfectly!

 

Yellow Curry Recipe
2 Tbsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 Tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground ginger powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or ground chilies

You Might Be Hypoglycemic If…

Hypoglycemia: (also called low blood sugar) a lack of the body’s main source of fuel, glucose. Characterized by confusion, heart palpitations, shakiness, and anxiety. There are over 200,000 documented cases per year. But for some, it’s a chronic way of life.

Why Does Hypoglycemia Occur?

In the most common scenario, a non-diabetic individual eats a high-carb meal, which is rapidly converted to glucose. This glucose enters the bloodstream quickly and triggers a surge of insulin to escort it into the cells for energy, into the liver for temorary storage, and into fat tissue for more permanent storage. Picture insulin as a roll of paper towels and blood sugars as a basin of water. The more paper towels you use, the more water you absorb out of the basin, right? So, the more insulin secreted, the lower blood sugars will drop in response.

Google says, “Consuming high-sugar foods or drinks, such as orange juice or regular soda, can treat this condition.” Using the analogy above, sugary foods and beverages will add more water to the basin and will require another roll of paper towels to mop it up, so the cycle continues perpetually. A better preventative treatment would be to avoid eating in a way that causes high levels of glucose to enter the bloodstream to begin with. In other words, eating nutrient-dense whole foods, adequately balanced. That means adequate fats, proteins, and unrefined, unprocessed carbohydrates – like vegetables.

Why is Hypoglycemia Harmful?

Hypoglycemia is the first step in what is now being called the Black Plague of the 21st Century – a pathway toward insulin resistance, Metabolic Syndrome (characterized by weight gain, high blood pressure, and rising triglycerides), pre-diabetes (chronically elevated blood sugars), diabetes (blood sugars over 200 mg/dl), and Alzheimer’s (called Diabetes Type III).

If you don’t want to be on this path, you need to take steps now to reverse your direction.

Know the Signs of Hypoglycemia

  • You notice an afternoon slump when you crave, feel lethargic, can’t think, and  get sleepy – otherwise known as the 2 p.m. coma.
  • Your food groups seem to be coffee, sweets, and energy drinks – you need stimulants to keep going.
  • Your moods change as rapidly as the Idaho weather.
  • You wonder if you’re experiencing an earthquake because you’re shaking so much. The hungrier you are, the shakier you get.
  • When you can’t bite into food, you bite someone’s head off. Hangry is the word!
  • Although no one startled you, and it’s not flu season, you could still faint because you get so light-headed.
  • Eating brings such sweet relief! Fasting is out of the question.
  • “You’re not you….” You’re:confused, knucklehead, blonde, hot mess, befuddled, klutz….
  • You’re as nervous as a June Bug in a henhouse.
  • Your vision seems like an unadjusted pair of binoculars.

If these sound familiar, please contact me to get some help before your health gets worse!

 

Inside-Out Sushi

These quick snack “coins” are a twist on sushi because the cucumber is on the outside! Fill them with fish, or go crazy with other international ideas, such as Mexican-, Italian-, or Mediterannean-themed fillings. These are a great way to stabilize blood sugars and stave off your sweet cravings!

  1. Peel your cucumber, then slice it lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Fill the halves with one of these pairs:
    • tuna & daikon radish
    • guacamole & refried beans
    • sausage & marinara
    • hummus & sundried tomatoes
    • cottage cheese & grape tomatoes
    • crab & pico de gallo
    • salmon & cream cheese
    • shrimp & spicy rice
    • olives and feta
    • devilled eggs and pickles
  3. Put the cucumber halves back together.
  4. Slice perpendicular to your first cut, creating “coins.”

 

Are Artificial Sweeteners Okay?

Since sugar isn’t helping you get healthier, can you replace it with a non-calorie sweetener? Let’s look at the pros and cons:

Benefits

Artificial sweeteners, known by such names as Sweet One, NutraSweet, Equal, Sweet ‘n Low, Sugar Twin, Splenda and Truvia, do have one marked advantage over white sugar: they don’t add calories to your diet.

For Diabetes control, they are also purportedly acceptable because they are not carbohydrate, so they can’t spike blood sugars.

Possible Detrimental Affects

The controversy that has been raging for more than 50 years is whether they are actually safe in the quantities that they are being consumed. There is also the question of whether users actually reduce their caloric intake or whether they compensate for the reduced calories by eating more of something else. There is concern that artificial sweeteners retrain the tastebuds to require even sweeter foods, thus causing addictions. Finally, some of these artificial sweeteners are suspected of creating impaired glucose tolerance, which is considered to be a pre-diabetic state.

Beyond The Tip of the Iceberg

Perhaps the question to ask is not whether artificial sweeteners are acceptable, but why you need any sweetener at all. Sure, a treat is nice. But do you have to eat something man-made and refined in order to fill that desire? Can you satiate your craving with a natural food?

If you can’t answer affirmatively to that last question, then it’s time to ask, “What imbalance is driving your sugar-tooth?”

  • Cravings can be caused by emotional or social cues. In that case, feed your human need for connection rather than your stomach.
  • Hunger for sweets can be a sign of deficiency. Are you running on an empty tank? Would a nutrient-dense meal or snack, a drink of water, an increase in protein, a mineral supplement, or a boost of essential fatty acids fill the need better?
  • Food sensitivities trigger the release of histamines and endorphins, giving you a rush. You then want more of the triggering food because of your chemical reaction to it. Avoidance and finding enjoyable activities is a better answer than continuing to indulge.
  • “Yeasties and beasties” in your gut live on simple sugars. If you have an overgrowth, you might interpret their signals as hunger. The answer isn’t to eat, but to starve them out with whole foods that feed your probiotics instead.

The next time you are reaching for either sugar or Sugar Twin, ask yourself what would help you feel more whole, alive, and balanced. Need help working through those cravings? We now offer in-home classes to change your reliance on sweeteners.

 

Sweetheart Pancakes for Valentines Day

Want to show your love through cooking? Your dear ones will cherish these adorable pancakes that won’t put them on a sugar roller coaster all day. They may be showered with candy at work and school, but at least you’ll know you sent them out the door on the right foot.

Ingredients

1 c. flour of your choice (but not coconut flour)

2 Tb. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 c. mashed cooked beets

4 Tb. coconut oil, melted

2 c. coconut milk

Greek yogurt and raspberries for serving

Instructions

Combine dry ingredients. Mix in eggs, beets, and coconut oil. Slowly stir in coconut milk until batter is smooth. Bake on a 325 degree griddle until bubbly on top and browned on the bottom. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes more, until golden brown and set. Serve with yogurt and raspberries on top. Makes about 16 small pancakes.