Blog

news and live tips
Ginger Cookies are Big Fat Treat #3

These Ginger Cookies are a Snap!

Who doesn’t love a good cookie? Especially one that is fragrant, warm, and chewy! This gingersnap takes advantage of the earthy spices we seem to crave during autumn. Made without refined sugar and rich in natural fats with a touch of protein, these cookies pair well with fall fruits, such as apples and pears.  Make ’em and bake ’em in under 30 minutes. (You will need a food processor for mixing.)

Gingersnaps

Ingredients

2 c. raw walnuts or pecans

1 c. dried dates (pitted) or figs

1/4 c. molasses

4 Tb. arrowroot or tapioca starch

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cloves

1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Process nuts and dates until they form a smooth paste. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. Form 1″ balls. Place on a greased, sprayed, or parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 18.

Thanks, Snickers!

My Ex has brilliantly described you! “When you’re hungry, you’re not you!” You’re…

 

 careless

confused

crazy

a troublemaker

dramatic

sleepy

befuddled

a klutz

sarcastic

snarky

a knucklehead

a hot mess


Mars got one thing right: that correlation between mood and hunger. It’s real and it’s a trap! The worse you feel, the more you feed the addiction and the deeper you go into blood sugar dysregulation. Your highs get higher and your lows get lower. Like physiological manic-depression, pretty soon you’re hypoglycemic and insulin resistant!

The Mars campaign, by the way, very accurately describes the tell-tale signs of hypoglycemia. But giving a hypoglycemic a sugar rush is like giving an alcoholic another drink just to avoid the eventual hang-over. Sooner or later, it’s gonna hit!

That’s why suggesting the candy bar as a practical solution is downright dangerous!

So I divorced Snickers. Ok, I admit, it was adoring and lustful love for years. But Snickers failed me. Now I’ve walked away. I’m never going back. I’m not sorry. I’ve never felt better!

Yes, I am sweet-talking you – er, rather sweet lecturing you. Your food has more impact on your well being that you realize. You could be diabetic and not even know it. Estimates are that one-third of our population is already pre-diabetic. Ninety percent of the pre-diabetics have no idea their health is at a crisis point.

And the solution is so easy! It takes no medications, no doctor visits, no surgery, no office procedures. It’s as simple as avoiding refined sugar and carbohydrates and eating a balanced diet. Here are some simple guidelines for you:

  1. For every handful of carbohydrate that you eat, grab a thumb-size portion of natural fat, and eat a palm-size portion of protein.
  2. Remember that fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds and sweeteners are all carbohydrates. Carbohydrate goes far beyond bread, pasta, chips, and crackers.
  3. Avoid processed, man-made fats, including soy, canola, cottonseed, and corn oils. Stick to the traditional fats that have been used for centuries.
  4. Be picky about your protein. Avoid products treated with anti-biotics, growth hormones, and steroids. As much as possible, eat food that has been raised on its natural diet, not a commercialized product.
  5. Consume more vegetables! Yes, they are carbohydrate, but they are so low in calories, high in fiber, rich in minerals and full of vitamins, that you can have an almost unlimited amount.

 

Is Your Palate Balanced?

 

Your miraculous body has a built-in detector for the nutrients it needs. Your tongue is a sensitive instrument for discerning the variety of foods that each cell demands. By tuning in to the signals your tongue picks up,  you can satisfy your need for a wide array of nutrients.

From the time you were a tiny baby, you have been attuned to sweetness. When the tongue senses a sweet taste, the mind feels comforted and calm, no doubt associated in the infant brain with warm milk, parental contact, and sleep. Nature provided sweet receptors on the tongue for growth and to prevent tissues from drying out. Sweet foods are “builders” that add flesh. It is not bad to enjoy sweet unless the sensory input is unmitigated by other flavors. When a sweet palate over-rides the taste for other important foods, your moist mucus becomes a ready breeding ground for infection. Then sluggishness and weight gain set in.

The counterbalance to sweet is bitter. You may not appreciate the bite of bitter foods if you were not raised on them. But bitterness helps reduce stored weight, is tonic to the liver, stimulates the removal of toxins and waste through the production of bile, and supports digestion. In fact, literally hundreds of points in the gut are turned on when the tongue tastes bitterness, as if that organ were a gong, signalling the body that it’s time to secrete all the digestive fluids.

Most bitters are herbs and include dark leaves such as dandelion, arugula, watercress, and parsley. Some notable exceptions are extra dark chocolate, juniper berry, and caraway seed. When bitter herbs are served at the beginning of a meal, as salad, or at the end of a meal, as tea, they assure timely movement of the food through the large and small intestines.

Like bitter, the perception of sour is most useful to digestion. It, too, stimulates the stomach and liver. Additionally it can relieve gas and increase metabolism. Some of the most beneficial sour foods are the ferments – that class of foods with multiplied digestive enzyme capacity due to its probiotic activity. A true ferment has live cultures, and does NOT include heat-processed canned products, such as sauerkraut and pickles, but it does include fresh krauts, and cultured dairy products such as yogurt and kefir. Take care that these are not artificially sweetened, over-riding the positive effect of sourness.

The purpose of saltiness is to alert your body to mineral content, especially the necessary electrolytes, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium. chloride, and phosphate. A little salt can stimulate the appetite, but over-used, leads to excessive water retention in your body. Instead of indulging in processed snack foods, like chips or pretzels, you can satisfy your cravings for the salty taste by sprinkling a dash of fish sauce or soy sauce on your food, using smoked meats, brining your meat before cooking, or putting a pinch of sea salt in your water.

A little-known but vital flavor is umami, which loosely interpreted means “meaty.” Your brilliant tongue discerns this flavor to help you identify protein foods – those rich in amino acids. Your pre-disposition for craving these building blocks of the body can lead you to indulge in man-made products that contain MSG, but no substantial protein component, such as condensed soups and soup mixes, or the myriad of potato chip varieties on the market.  Traditional societies gratified their protein detector with bone broth, crayfish, and fish sauce added to recipes.

Two other flavors of note are pungent (or spicy) and astringent, which tend to balance each other, the first warming the body, and the latter cooling it. Your tongue notices spicy foods to allure you to substances that will increase circulation, and trigger sweating for cleansing purposes. Pungent foods include peppers, horseradish, and wasabi.

When too much moisture exists from excessive sweet intake, the tongue can notify you of astringent foods that have drying properties. Some of the most notable astringent foods are cranberry, green apple, and pomegranate.

If your palate is unnaturally conditioned toward only sweet and salty, you may be lacking vital nutrients to keep your body balanced. Try experimenting with new foods that have strange and exciting flavors. Challenge yourself to include 4 or 5  of these 7 tastes in each meal. Ethnic food is an excellent way to broaden your palate, as most societies have a deep food culture that intuitively incorporates the full spectrum of flavors.

 

Are You Getting Full Value?

Eating is a little like giving to your favorite charity. If it’s a well-managed organization, your donation can potentially help thousands of individuals. But if a top-heavy administration is usurping funds, you may be greatly dismayed to find that only 10 or 20% of your contribution actually reaches those in need. Likewise, you may be consuming a healthy diet of balanced macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins), but if your digestive system is being mis-managed, your food may literally get flushed away without every reaching the cells it was intended to serve.

POOR DIGESTION CAN CAUSE YOU TO BE A SUGAR BURNER

Sugar burners are those that have fluctuating energy levels, don’t feel satiated after a meal, feel a need to snack, experience cravings, and often hit a wall during endurance activities. Many of my clients who have been sugar burners for a long time often display signs of hypoglycemia and insulin resistance simultaneously. It’s not a fun way to live, feeling tired and hungry all the time, gaining weight, and being controlled by cravings.

Some of these clients eat clean. They are careful to eat their vegetables, avoid sugar and refined carbs, add natural fats to their cooking, and select healthy portions of proteins. What then is going on? It may be digestive dysfunction. Protein digestion requires a highly acidic stomach to trigger the release of pepsin, the chief enzyme used in the breakdown of protein molecules. But…

STRESS SHUTS DOWN DIGESTION

Your body has to prioritize its energy demands. If the decision is between running from danger or making stomach acid, fleeing obviously trumps. Cortisol, the hormone your body makes when there is any kind of perceived threat, physical or emotional, sends the signal that energy may be needed to make a dash. So when cortisol output increases, your brain turns down all digestive functions, including production of stomach acid, to conserve energy for a quick get-away.

Thus, if stress is a chronic factor in your life, your stomach acidity may be underpar. That means vlauable proteins may literall be just passing through. Because carbohydrate is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, the result is too often a surge of glucose into the bloodtream. Insulin, a dutiful worker, scurries to whisk all that sugar out of the bloodstream, resulting in a dramatic drop in blood sugars. Hypoglycemic symptoms manifest. Repeat that over and over, and your cells become insulin resistant. That is how your donation of good clean food gets wasted by poorly managed digestion.

YOU NEED TO GET PARA-SYMPATHETIC

That means getting out of your head, getting out of the future, getting out of fear and worry, and just being present. The parasympathetic state is one of sensing, connecting, and being. It is not task-focused or deadline-oriented. Here are are some way to do that at meal time so your food contribution reaches your needy cells:

  • Breathe deeply before eating. Shallow breath always accompanies stress.
  • Visualize where your food originated, the care given to bring it to you, and all the energy it has the potential to impart to you. Appreciation does not co-exist with stress.
  • Laugh with friends and family while you eat. Connecting with loved ones switches us into the parasympathetic state.
  • Engage you senses: notice colors and shapes, smell, touch, savor. Get out of your mind; make eating a full-body experience.
  • Chew thoroughly. You can gulp on the run, but chewing slowly and completely requires a deliberate awareness.

 

 

a sheet pan meal with tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and beef

Fall Fare: Oven Roasted Dinners

Comforting, quick, and complete, this one-pan meal allows you to help the kids with homework or run a batch of laundry while its enticing aromas fill the kitchen. You’ll find this hearty meal warm and satisfying on crisp nights. With hardly any planning, the whole family gets balanced nutrition. Mix and match ingredients to adapt to your budget and availability.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork, beef, poultry, fish, or vegan alternative (such as tempeh)
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, ghee, tallow, pastured lard, or virgin red palm oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Several cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped root vegetables: carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, beets, turnips, parsnips, etc.
  • 4 cups non-starchy cut vegetables: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, bell pepper, celery, etc.
  • 1 teaspoon each: paprika, chili powder, thyme, oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar, any flavor

Instructions

Cube the meat and toss with cooking fat and cut vegetables in a roaster pan. Season with herbs, spices, salt and peper. Roast in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through.  When meat is cooked and vegetables are tender, remove from oven and sprinkle with vinegar. Serves 4 generously.

Like this recipe? Find more in our Balanced Bowl Cookbook

Why Sugar Makes You Anxious

Sugar is a thief. It steals your nutrients, your energy, and your health. And it makes you anxious.

Here are just 3 of the many ways eating too many sweetened foods can upset your mental health:

It robs you of magnesium. It takes 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize one molecule of sugar! Since magnesium is needed for relaxation, this puts your ability to calm yourself in jeopardy.

It upsets the balance of microbes in your gut. When pathogens outnumber probiotics, the nerve signals from the gut to the brain are ones of distress. Did you know that for every message the brain sends to the G.I. tract, the gut sends 6 signals back? And since pathogens feed on simple sugars, whereas probiotics eat complex carbs, it’s easy to get an overgrowth of harmful yeast or bacteria if you are loading up on sweets. These, in turn, send messages to your brain that something is not right.

It starts an adrenaline cycle. Not having a balanced plate and eating carb-heavy means your blood sugars are going to swing drastically up and down. When they drop, your brain becomes alarmed, for it must have constant fuel to direct your body’s activities. It recruits cortisol and adrenaline to increase blood sugars. These stress hormones increase your heart rate, quicken your breathing, and tighten your muscles. You become a walking candidate for an anxiety attack as soon as the next stressor comes along.

The solution to reducing anxiety starts with reducing the foods that spike an insuin release in your body.

Swap your refined carbs (pop, pasta, bread, chips, cookies, pastries, cake, tortillas, juices, condiments and sauces) for smart carbs (properly prepared whole grains and legumes, abundant vegetables, and whole fruits).

Second, watch food labels. Sugar is ubiquitous. It’s in so-called health foods like yogurt, protein bars, and even some flavored waters. Your intake of carbs in terms of grams should not be much higher than your intake of protein, so if an energy bar touting 8 grams of protein is 32 grams of carbohydrate, with 14 grams of sugar, it’s not a good choice. Learn to make foods from scratch. For example, spaghetti sauce can be quickly stirred together from tomato paste, bone broth, fresh garlic, and a few spices, avoiding the high fructose corn syrup often included in the canned version of this product.

Next, make sure you are getting adequate amounts of protein and healthy fat. Women should get a minimum of 50 grams of protein per day. Men need closer to 70 grams. Natural fats – everything from nuts and seeds to butter and coconut oil – help slow the absorption of carbohydrate into your blood stream, and give you a slow-burning fuel to maintain energy and stave off cravings throughout the day.

While sugar may give you a rush when your feel blue, in the long run you will be more optimistic and peaceful if you skip this sweet saboteur.

 

Hidden Stressors

Tense relationships. Unpredicted changes of circumstance. Too many demands on your time. These are stressors you can see. But there are changes inside your body that are stressing you out!

Any time your body perceives a threat to its homeostasis (stable equilibrium), it requires extra energy to bring balance back to itself, so it releases cortisol to supply that demand.

Common physiological triggers for the cortisol response are:

  1. Low blood sugars. When you don’t eat enough fat or protein to carry you through to the next meal, your blood sugars plummet. Your brain, which relies on a non-stop stream of fuel 24/7, sounds the alarm for cortisol to raise blood sugars immediately.
  2. Chronic infection – not just recurring viruses, but perhaps an overgrowth of yeast, bacteria, or parasites in your gut that you can’t see; the kind of thing that triggers cravings, creates constipation and/or diarrhea, feeds your vivid bizarre dreams, shows up as a coating on your tongue, makes you feel sick in a musty environment, instigates yeast infections or athlete’s foot or jock itch, create foul-smelling body odors including gas, makes you cramp, and gives you dark circles under your eyes. These are signs that your body is challenged and needs help!
  3. Toxicity. Toxins can come from heavy metal exposure, pesticides and herbicides that you breathe in or ingest, cosmetic products that contain parabens and phthalates and synthetic colors or fragrances, cookware and food or beverage containers made with BPA and PFCs…the list goes on. These disrupt your normal body functions and require extra energy to detoxify them.
  4. Food sensitivities. When you eat something that your body is intolerant  to, you release histamines to inflame the area where the offender is found so that white blood cells can more easily penetrate the tissue to surround and destroy this substance. Cortisol is then released as a follow-up anti-inflammatory – like the clean-up crew after the hurricane that has opened everything up.

Last week, in our post, Quit Stressing!, we discussed five different ways to counteract chronic cortisol output. If you are employing these methods and still feeling anxious, it’s time to see a nutritional therapy practitioner to delve into hidden causes of stress.

Quit Stressing!

Every stress response is a blood sugar response.

When there is stress, there is a demand for increased energy to deal with it. That’s why you have adrenal glands. They secrete cortisol, a stress hormone that increases glucose (sugar) levels in your blood. You need that glucose to provide fuel for the crisis.

But if stress is constant and chronic, the high cortisol output and the resulting high blood sugars are very damaging in at least 8 different ways:

  1. You crave refined carbs. To supply fuel for the constant triggers, you look for a quick way to get sugar into your bloodstream. The need for instant energy displaces the need for nutrient-dense whole foods, and your literally starve your body of minerals while eating excessive calories.
  2. You develop insulin resistance. Since every stress response is a glucose response, it is also an insulin response! (Insulin is the escort that shuttles glucose into the cells, where it is converted into energy). Just as an over-taxed mom tunes out the noise of her boisterous youngsters to protect her sanity, the cells stop listening to insulin after a continuous barrage. Even on a low-carb diet, you can become insulin-resistant, just from stress, and that means fatigue! If the cells are not receiving fuel, you are running on fumes!
  3. Your blood pressure rises because cortisol has a constricting effect on blood vessels.
  4. You get sick. Your ability to fight fight bacteria, viruses, parasites, and even cancer is hand-cuffed by this hyper-cortisol output. Immune functions operate in “rest-and-digest” but are shut down by “fight-or-flight.”
  5. Toxins build up. Detoxification isn’t a drink you consume; it’s a cellular process that occurs 24/7. Your cells are continuously exposed to both internal and external waste. But cortisol inhibits “housekeeping” because the demand to manage the crisis trumps the need to sweep up the trash. We do most of our detoxification at rest.
  6. You have trouble sleeping. Cortisol slows the pineal gland’s production of melatonin. You must have melatonin to drop into a sleep state.
  7. Your digestion turns sour. Stomach acid production, bile flow, enzyme production, and peristalsis are all slowed, to save energy to handle the stress. Next thing you know, you have heartburn, bloat, constipation, irritable bowels, candida overgrowth, or some other issue related to poor gut health.
  8. Your adrenals give out. In spite of a need for cortisol, you just can’t keep producing it, much the way an ocean or forest is damaged when it is over-harvested. So you feel constantly depleted, with even the smallest trigger tipping you over the edge in an inability to cope.  You become edgy and anxious.

You can reverse the effects of chronic stress in two-minute increments throughout your day. Build pauses into your life to take yourself out of “fight-or-flight” when you wake up, when you eat, when you drive, when you get ready to sleep, when you have been sitting at your desk for more than an hour, and when you finish an interaction with a spouse, a child, a boss, or a co-worker. Use this time to get out of your head and re-connect with your body and your surroundings. Here are some actions you can take during those pauses:

  1. Breathe deeply and exhale slowly. Stress makes you take shallow, quick breaths.
  2. Express love and appreciation. When you connect with others, you bring yourself back to a para-sympathetic (regenerative) state.
  3. Notice the little things. Stress is deadline-conscious, task-focused, tunnel-visioned. It’s about doing, not being. When you stop to feel the sunshine on your cheek or spot a spider on a blade of grass, you are breaking free of the constricting influence of stress.
  4. Create a sensation. Literally, make room to feel something – a ball of clay in your hand, sand in your toes, shade across your face, cushioning under your seat, or wind caressing your skin. Stress is future focused. Sensations are in the moment.
  5. Stretch. Stress tenses the muscles. Deliberately and systematically loosen up different areas: your calves and hips, your shoulders and jaw, your back and neck.

If you are in the Pocatello area and would like to learn 25 instant, effective stress hacks, you can schedule a class.

Hazelnut Fudge from Inner Connected Wellness

Carob Hazelnut Power Bites

Mmmmm! Rich! Satisfying! Guilt-free! You’ll feel like a queen. Just one will nip those cravings and carry you through until meal time. Loaded with healthy fat, they’ll give you the energy to pull through that 2 p.m. coma. And with a great blender, you can have them made in just minutes! Throw a few in the freezer to have when “hangry” sets in.

Ingredients

2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes

2 c. raw hazelnuts (may also use raw almonds, cashews, walnuts or pecans)

1/2 c. honey (may also use pure maple syrup, date paste, or fig paste)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. roasted carob powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla powder

optional add-ins: additional coconut flakes, any chopped nuts, seeds such as chia, sunflower, pumpkin or sesame

Instructions

Blend coconut flakes until they release their oil and form a paste. Scrape into a mixing bowl. Do the same for the nuts. Add remaining ingredients. Press into a square pan and chill before cutting into squares, or just roll into balls. Stores best in the refrigerator or freezer.

 

Like this recipe? You can find more in our Balanced Bowl Cookbook.

No Spunk? Feeling Stuck?

” I eat clean – no junk – but the weight won’t come off.”

“When I try to push my endurance, I inevitably bonk.”

If I delay my meals, I’m terribly ‘hangry!'”

These may be signs that you are a sugar-burner, not a fat-burner. That means the stored fats in your body and the fats you eat are not available for fuel, leaving you to run on metabolic “kindling,” rather than “logs.”

Assess yourself on this simple Sugar Burner Checklist:

  • My energy fluctuates and doesn’t flow evenly throughout the day (classic Wired or Tired Syndrome).
  • I fight cravings and don’t feel satiated, even after eating. It’s as if something’s missing from the meal.
  • I’m either revved up after a meal, or just plain tired.
  • I find it very diificult to fast. The need to snack is overriding.
  • I run out of steam during endurance activities.
  • I am unable to shed excess weight.
  • I feel irritable before mealtime.

Human physiology is biased toward fat-burning. It provides sustained energy, creates fewer free radicals, is more efficient, and takes away cravings.

Benefits of being a fat-burner include freedom from dizziness, brain fog, and mood swings.

 

So how do you change your metabolism? Try adjusting your eating rhythms in this manner: After dinner, don’t consume anything else for the rest of the day, except water and herbal tea.

The next morning, eat only fats and proteins, such as avocado with eggs. See how long you can go on that energy. Don’t eat again until your fuel drops off. Then have a meal and call it lunch. You may have carbs, but try to limit them to vegetables: For example, enjoy a salad with wild-caught salmon and a homemade vinaigrette of olive oil, vinegar, herbs, and perhaps mustard.

Refrain from eating again until your next experience of hunger. Then eat your dinner. It should be your smallest meal of the day. You might try something like grass-fed steak, and organic sauteed vegetables in butter. Now, don’t eat again until breakfast.

This regimen is challenging because it demands no snacking, but it re-regulates your blood sugars and enables you to get off the energy roller-coaster. After a couple of weeks, when you are feeling a renewed sense of wellness, you can experiement with bringing more natural carbohydrates moderately into your diet, such as whole fruits, or soaked and sprouted grains and legumes.