Blog

news and live tips
Antioxidant Strawberries are Valentines that love you

Valentines That Love YOU

Satisfy your sweet-loving heart – and your sweetheart – with Valentines that love you back! These treats bring nutrients to your heart, muscles, skin and lungs, even your very cells. Because you create them from all-natural ingredients, you get no inflammatory lash-back from refined sugars, artificial colors & flavors, and processed oils. No recipe necessary! Just mix and share. After all, real food = romance!

Strawberry Hearts

Dip fresh strawberries in melted dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao), then sprinkle with chopped nuts or unsweetened coconut flakes. Want to send your Valentine some extra love? Instead of dipping the strawberries, draw on them, like Brandi at The Vegan 8, using an icing bag filled with melted chocolate.

White plate of strawberries with chocolate words

 

Valentine Love Pudding

You know the chia pudding that was popular a couple of years back? Why not adapt it for February 14th? Go ahead and mix your full-fat can of coconut milk with a couple of tablespoons of chia, but just before you add a pinch of salt and set it in the fridge to set up, stir in just enough juice concentrate to sweeten it. Try pomegranate, cherry, or cranberry for a beautiful pink color. Then when you are ready to serve it, top it with nuts and fruit, such as goji berries, pitaya, raspberries or cherries.

boysenberry pudding makes a delightful valentine

 

Cupid Chocolates

With just 3 ingredients, you can spread the love! Start with an all-natural peanut-butter, such as Adam’s, and mix in just enough pure maple syrup for a semi-sweet taste. Form into small balls (or even hearts if you like), and chill while you melt some dark chocolate (70% cacao or more). Dip the balls in the melted chocolate and set them in paper candy cups.  Before the chocolate sets, sprinkle with red sugar crystals.

With 3 ingredients, PB chocolates share the Valentine love

A Valentine Mousse to Love

What could be more romantic than a creamy pink mousse, shared by candlelight? Plus, it whips up so quickly, you can spend the extra time getting ready for the big night. Simply combine equal parts heavy cream and softened cream cheese. Add some pureed raspberries to taste and spoon into dessert cups. Chill. Just before serving, top with fresh raspberries and a dolop of whipped cream.

raspberry mousse that loves YOU

Heart’s Delight

Love chocolate and fruit together? Here’s a filled valentine that loves you because there’s no added sugar. You need freeze-dried raspberries or strawberries and coconut butter, plus some melted dark chocolate (70% cacao or more). Start by melting the coconut butter in a double boiler. Meanwhile, using a blender or food processor, powder the berries by pulsing the motor. Add the powder to the coconut butter at a ratio of about 4 parts coconut butter to 1 part berry powder. Pour into candy molds and chill to set. When candies are firm, dip in melted chocolate and leave in a cool place to set.

These valentine chocolates have a surprise raspberry filling

Lover’s Pie

Give your Valentine some love with a light fresh fruit pie. Blend any kind of nuts until they release their oil and begin to stick together. Press them firmly into the bottom of a pie pan. Next, empty about of pound of fresh or frozen berries into a saucepan along with a half of a cup of water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the berries break down. Sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons of gelatin, and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Pour over the nut crust and refrigerate until set. Top with more berries.

berries and gelatin make a fruit pie your Valentine will love

What you eat matters because YOU matter! If you want to live and give your best, you must eat your best! To be someone’s Sweetheart, cherish your own sweet heart by eating only ingredients that love your body back. If you’re confused about the connection between your diet and your symptoms, check out what Functional Nutrition can do for you.

Eating together raises oxytocin

Eat to Raise Oxytocin

Obsessing about de-stressing? Why not raise your love hormone, oxytocin, instead? Since stress is damaging to your health, you’re under pressure to live a more relaxed life. But isn’t relaxing under duress an oxymoron? However, science assures us that stress hormones come down when oxytocin rises, wouldn’t it be simpler to focus on the pleasurable task of raising oxytoxin?

What is Oxytocin?

You might say that oxytocin is commander-in-chief of your body’s parasympathetic nervous system response. This response is commonly called the rest-and-digest state, or the connection-relaxation state. Though many hormonal and nerve changes switch the body to this response from a sympathetic, or flight-or-flight state, oxytocin oversees the process. You see, oxytocin has many more hats to wear than just making sexual intercourse pleasurable and enabling mothers to birth and nurse their babies. It enhances bonding, appears to modulate fear, and has an anti-depressant effect.

Additionally, oxytocin can reduce anxiety, and lessen symptoms of withdrawal. Both men and women secrete oxytocin.

Signs You Might be Making Insufficient Oxytocin

Obviously, given the roles above, you might be low in oxytocin if:

  • You have trouble bonding.
  • You experience chronic depression, anxiety, or fears.
  • Sexual intercourse is mechanical and/or you have trouble achieving orgasm.
  • You crave addictive substances.

Here’s another sign that’s intriguing to me as a nutritional therapist: you crave sweet, high-carbohydrate foods. There is research that oxytocin counters cravings for sweets. But whether it does or not, this much is clear: stress does raise cravings for sweets. And too much of the stress hormone cortisol blunts oxytocin. So, it only stands to reason that raising oxytocin would diminish sugar cravings.

How Eating Can Raise Oxytocin

We know that social contact, looking in the eyes of loved ones, touch, warmth, and verbalizations of love and gratitude heighten oxytocin production. These factors all come together when you share a meal with family or friends.  But there’s more: you need certain nutrients to make oxytocin, so eating foods high in those factors can enhance your ability to manufacture and release oxytocin.

Here are three nutrients that are effective in optimizing your oxytocin levels:

  • Magnesium: This mineral has a dual function. It helps oxytocin receptors work properly, and it boosts oxytocin’s action. Because most Americans are clinically low in magnesium, you could struggle to have sufficient oxytocin due to mineral deficiency. The top foods for magnesium, believe it or not, are not bananas, although this fruit is #10 on the list. The best choices are spinach, pumpkin seeds, lima beans, tuna, and brown rice.
  • Vitamin C: Oxytocin depends on this vitamin as a co-factor in its synthesis. Vitamin C also seems to stimulate oxytocin secretion. Enhance your Vitamin C stores by eating plenty of acerola cherries, chili peppers, red and yellow bell peppers, guava, parsley, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lemons, and papayas.
  • Lactobacillus reuteri: This probiotic augments brain oxytocin. It is found in cultured foods, such as cheeses, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and miso.

My Favorite Ways to Raise Oxytocin

I find it delightful to strive for an oxytocin boost! It’s much more satisfying than writing “manage stress” on my to-do list. Here are just a few of my most enjoyable ways to increase the love hormone.

  • Eat nutrient-rich, whole-food meals with my favorite people. I highly doubt that junk food will give me an oxytocin rush, so I leave processed, refined foods out of the equation.
  • Turn up the heat. Here are several cozy options I indulge in for warming my body: sit in a sauna, soak in some hot springs, place a heated compress on my neck and shoulders, and relax with a foot soak.
  • Listen to relaxing music. It’s even more beneficial to hum or sing along.
  • Engage in body work. I personally find acupuncture, massage, and yoga to be very pleasurable.
  • Notice the sights, scents, and sounds all around: the motion of the clouds, the chirping of birds, the smell of a pine boughs, the laughter of a child, the snapping of a campfire.
  • Engage in deep inhales & long exhales, using the diaphragm, not the chest.

Remember, stress can undermine even the cleanest diet. Contact me to learn more about reducing stress hormones and eating healthier.

Blueberries and cream is a smart snack to stabilize blood sugars

Smart Snacks

Smart snacks keep blood sugars stable, maintain level energy and moods, and provide vital nutrients. Usually, they come without an ingredient list. The best ones require no mixing or cooking. For the most part, you can eat them on the go.

Convenience Drives Foolish Snack Choices

Why are we even talking about smart snacks? Today’s convenience food industry has created products that are the nemesis of health. For example, beverages with high fructose corn syrup are damaging to your liver. Further, highly processed crackers, chips, and baked goods are high in calories and low in nutrients. They can cause your blood sugars to rise rapidly. Chronically high blood sugars contribute to insulin resistance and type 2 Diabetes. Also, packaged snacks with flavor enhancers, food coloring, and other chemical additives affect your mood negatively by altering your microbiome.

Smart Snacks Are Natural Foods

When you run into the grocery store to grab a quick bite, look for items that don’t come in a box, can, or bag. Think about food that existed more than a century ago. Envision going outside to pick it, dig it, milk it, or gather it. Food scientists have invented most of the harmful products on the market today in the last 50 to 100 years. If you can’t pronounce all the ingredients on the label and don’t know what half of them are, that’s your first clue that you don’t need them. After all, who cooks at home with sodium benzoate, BHA, propylene glycol, and azodicarbonamide?

Don’t Leave Out Healthy Fats

Most of today’s snack choices center on refined carbohydrates. Eating high quantities of processed carbohydrates is dangerous for your metabolic balance. Those snacks that do contain fats are made from highly inflammatory oils: soy, canola, cottonseed, safflower, and corn. But your cells – all 37 trillion of them – each need the right kind of fats in order to admit nutrients and expel wastes. Nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, coconuts and dairy products contain natural fats that benefit your health.

Smart Combinations to Snack on

Check out this list of snack pairings, then get creative designing your own. The key is to pair a fat or protein with a fruit, vegetable or whole grain carbohydrate.

  1. Smoked Salmon on multi-seed crackers
  2. Dates & cream cheese
  3. Hummus & baby carrots
  4. Peaches & Greek yogurt
  5. Snap Peas & tahini
  6. Olives & baby bell peppers
  7. Hard-boiled eggs & grape tomatoes
  8. Raspberries & ricotta cheese
  9. Celery & sunflower seed butter
  10. Red pears & cheddar
  11. Cottage cheese & cantaloupe
  12. Grapes & gouda cheese
  13. Avocado cubes & mandarin orange slices
  14. Tuna salad in cucumber “cups”
  15. Nut butter on brown rice cakes
  16. Broiled tomatoes slices with mozzarella
  17. Peel-&-eat shrimp with cocktail sauce
  18. Pistachios & strawberries
  19. Popcorn with butter & parmesan
  20. Sunflower & sesame seeds baked with honey (see recipe below)

Sunflower-Sesame Crisp

  • 1/2 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 c. sesame seeds
  • 1 Tb. honey
  • 1 Tb. olive oil

Toss ingredients together and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast in a preheated 400° oven for 6-8 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, break apart, and cool completely.

Immunity Soup made with lentils

Immunity Soup

Immunity Soup is engineered to deliver vital nutrients while providing a comforting winter meal. The immune system is a nutrient HOG! In order to keep it functioning well, we have to feed it a constant stream of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Benefits of Immunity Soup

We start with bone broth, because it’s rich in magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium, and iron. To that, we add sautéed onion, which has sulphur compounds to help you detoxify. The onion is sautéed in coconut oil with some minced garlic, thyme leaves, and cumin seeds. These all have antimicrobial properties.

We know that zinc is crucial for immunity, so we use brown lentils as an abundant source of that mineral. Then for Vitamins A & C, which provide a shot of antioxidants, we chop some veggies. Rich colors alert us to the presence of antioxidants. We use tomatoes, parsley, celery, carrot, kale, cabbage, and chilies – green for mild, red for spicy.

To get an anti-inflammatory benefit, we add grated ginger root & grated turmeric root (or turmeric powder).To give the immune system a boost, we put in some chopped mushrooms and a couple of bay leaves. A final touch is to add some red wine vinegar, which supports your healthy gut microbiome in fending off pathogens.

Recipe

1 onion, chopped

2 Tb. coconut oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. dried thyme or 1 sprig fresh thyme

4 c. bone broth

1 c. brown lentils

1 lb. ground grass-fed lamb, beef, or sausage, browned (optional)

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 carrots, sliced

1 bunch kale, chopped

4 c. cabbage, chopped

1/4 c. tomato paste or 4 tomatoes, cubed

1 Tb. dried parsley or 1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped

2-3 chilies according to preference

1″ each of turmeric root and ginger root, grated (or 1/2 tsp. powder)

8 mushrooms, chopped

2 bay leaves

3 Tb. red wine vinegar

1 Tb. salt

Combine all ingredients in a stock pot, crock pot, or Instant Pot. Pressure for 20 minutes, or simmer for 30 minutes, or slow cook for 4 hours.

 

 

Linking Insomnia, Anxiety, and Indigestion

What do insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion have in common? That may depend on your own physiological uniqueness. But for many individuals with these 3 complaints, chronic cortisol is the link.

What is cortisol and how is it made?

When your brain perceives a threat – either from within or from without – it needs a messenger to spread the alarm and get the body ready for action. So, the hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary to trigger the adrenals to make cortisol from cholesterol.

You might mistakenly believe that cortisol is the enemy. Many call it The Stress Hormone and give it a bad rap. But what many people don’t realize is that cortisol is critical for you to wake up, focus, set goals, meet your deadlines, and even exercise. That’s because it rouses you out of your resting/healing state. It does that by increasing blood pressure and heart rate and raising blood sugars to that you can have energy to mobilize – whether that be dancing, debating, or dodging a bullet!

The problem is that when cortisol output becomes chronic, your body never gets to rest and digest and heal. That’s when you begin to see health issues.

Why do so many people have chronically high cortisol levels?

First, this is a go-go-go world of ongoing crises from sun-up to sundown, with alarms, alerts, and emergencies all clamoring for your attention. Urgencies control your focus. Your body responds intelligently by producing the hormone that will help you meet those demands. Unless you deliberately choose to slow down, shut down, and turn off, your body will continue to produce cortisol day and night.

Second, 60 to 80% of the American diet is refined carbohydrate, everything from Rice Krispies to Wonder Bread, and from French fries to pasta. And that’s not counting chips, candy, or pop! When you eat like that, your body needs cortisol to come to the rescue. Think of it like this:

What happens after I toss a bowling ball 10 feet in the air? Of course! It comes crashing down! Well, blood sugars are the proverbial bowling ball. You launch them into the air by loading up on meals and snacks that are not balanced with appropriate proteins and fats. The laws of nature say that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, inevitably, blood sugars plummet!

A blood sugar dip may contribute to insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion

Your brain can’t tolerate that. It must be guaranteed a constant supply of glucose in order to direct the minute-by-minute management of all your body functions. So, it declares an emergency, and the hypothalamus signals the pituitary to trigger the adrenals to release cortisol to raise blood sugars back up.  Cortisol alerts the muscles and the liver to release stored glucose for immediate energy. In effect, when you grab a doughnut, a Kit Kat, or a Pepsi, you stress your body into fight-or-flight.

How does cortisol instigate insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion?

Your body is smart. It knows how to put first things first. If you have a battle to fight, it will energize your muscles, increase your blood flow, and sharpen your vision. But…it will also shut down digestion and keep you alert so you don’t drift into slumber easily. After all, those things are a lower priority than simply surviving! Therefore, people with chronically high cortisol often notice symptoms such as heartburn, bloat, anxiety, and insomnia.

How can you reduce insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion?

Start in the morning by building a slow-burning, enduring metabolic fire. You prevent a cortisol spike by avoiding a blood sugar trough. Figuratively speaking, you have to put coal in your steam engine. What would happen if you tried to run a steam engine train with a pile of newspapers? It wouldn’t work! The train would get 2 feet down the track and stop.

Fruit juices, cereal, white flours, and sweeteners are like newspapers. They burn hot and fast, and extinguish quickly. They don’t power you for the long haul. “Coal” comes from healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, butter, coconut oil, olives, and avocados.

That might mean adding Greek yogurt to your oatmeal, putting an avocado in your green smoothie, eating a couple of eggs with your toast or having a sausage patty with your hash browns. Please, please, please don’t grab a bowl of cereal with skin milk, or run out the door with a granola bar!

Next, when you grab a snack, pair a healthy fat with a high-fiber fruit or vegetable. For example, you might eat hummus and carrots, cottage cheese and peaches, coconut milk and blueberries, olives and baby bell peppers, almond butter and apples, or guacamole and mango.

While there are many factors that contribute to insomnia, anxiety, and indigestion, stabilizing cortisol output with balanced eating can improve these complaints dramatically.

Breakfast soup of broth, chicken, and vegetables

Breakfast Soups

What if, instead of cereal, you had soup for breakfast? It might sound odd in America, but all over the world, healthy cultures feast on breakfast soup several times per week.

Historical Bias for Breakfast Soup

There’s an old saying: “Breakfast like a king; lunch like a prince; dinner like a pauper.”  In blue zones – 5 places around the world where people consistently live over 100 years old – breakfast looks more like dinner. In most cases, the first meal of the day consists of protein, plant-based fats (nuts, seeds, oils), and beans or vegetables.

Many Japanese eat Sumo Stew first thing in the morning is normal. Also, Nigerians often enjoy Egg Stew, Chinese slurp Congee (rice porridge with egg and meat), and Columbians have their Changua (milk soup with poached eggs). From Mohinga (fish & noodle soup) in Burma to Lablabi (chickpea soup) in Tunisia, people around the globe have been eating soup for breakfast forever. And let’s not forget Vietnamese Pho, or Indian Ginger Rasam (lentil soup).

Yet, according to a survey that Kellogg’s conducted, only 34% of adult Americans eat breakfast at all.

Advantages of Soup for Breakfast

Here’s how soup beats cereal for your morning meal:

First, it stabilizes your blood sugars. Steaming broths rich in amino acids, and vegetables in healthy fats help insure you don’t have an insulin spike today. Add to that protein-rich meats and legumes, and you have a true winner.

Second, those who eat a hearty meal in the morning are more likely to lose weight. One study followed two groups of people who ate the same number of calories, but distributed them differently throughout the day. This first group ate more calories at breakfast, while the second group ate more calories at dinner. The group that consumed the larger breakfast lost 2.5 times more weight than the the group that ate a larger dinner group. Additionally, the first group lost four more inches around the waist. ”What we have seen is that people on diets with the same number of calories who front-load calories to the earlier part of the day fare better in terms of subjective and objective measures of satiety,” researchers said.

Further, those who eat like a king at breakfast are more likely to have a lower body mass index (BMI). “Studies have found that although people who skip breakfast eat slightly fewer calories during the day, they tend to have higher body mass index, or BMI,” says Christy C. Tangney, PhD, a clinical dietitian at Rush University Medical Center and an expert on the effects of diet and nutrition on heart health.

Finally, an ample breakfast encourages a vigorous metabolism. When you eat well in the morning, you’re telling your body that there are plenty of calories available for the day. When you skimp on breakfast, the message you send your body is that it needs to conserve rather than burn any incoming calories.

Recipes

Not sure you want to eat international fare? Here are some American recipes that will give you the same benefits that cultures around the world enjoy.

Butternut Soup

This recipe comes from Mickey Trescott at AutoimmuneWellness.com.

  • 1 tablespoon solid cooking fat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 lbs. whole chicken
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 cups baby spinach
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  1. Place the solid cooking fat in the bottom of your Instant Pot and select the “saute” function. When the fat has melted and the pot is hot, add the onion, and cook, stirring, until translucent and lightly browned, about six minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another 30 seconds, until aromatic.
  2. Put the water into the pot and turn off the heat. Add the chicken, squash, and sea salt to the pot. Lock the lid, and set your machine to pressure cook on the manual “high” setting for 16 minutes.
  3. When the machine indicates the dish is finished cooking, immediately place a towel over the steam valve, carefully opening with the use of a wooden spoon (careful — you can burn yourself easily here!) to quick-release the pressure. Once the steam is released, remove the lid, and allow to cool.
  4. Once the dish has cooled enough, remove the whole chicken from the pot, take off the meat, and place back in the pot with the spinach and lemon juice. Place back into the Instant Pot container to heat to temperature, and enjoy!
  5. If you are going to be portioning this soup into jars for storage in the freezer, allow it to cool completely and spend 24 hours in the refrigerator before doing so — the soup will have a better flavor when you reheat it!

Sausage and Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 3 cups bone broth
  • 1 lb. ground sausage, browned
  • 2 cups diced raw sweet potato
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 cups kale, chopped
  1. Saute the onion and garlic in coconut oil until translucent.
  2. Put all ingredients except kale in a crock pot or soup pot and simmer until sweet potato is tender (20 minutes on stovetop, 2-3 hours in a crock pot).
  3. Add the kale and cook 2-3 minutes more, just until kale is wilted.
Need to end bloat from too many cookies?

End Holiday Gas, Bloat, and Heartburn

Is binge-eating synonymous with Christmas?  Too often, merry turns into miserable when gas, indigestion, and heartburn strike after a night of gorging on goodies! Functional Nutrition can help you digest and absorb your food better in order to end holiday bloat.

Use these five tips to keep your holidays happy:

  • Eat real. Focus on foods that don’t come with a nutrition label. You are more likely to be satisfied with less when you eat whole foods. Consider which of these offerings is likely to give your body what it needs so it will turn off the hunger signals. They are both fish: Atlantic salmon, and Swedish Fish candies.

salmon dinnerSwedish Fish ingredient list

  • Sip herbal tea: Used for centuries, peppermint and chamomile are two pleasant herbs that can power up digestion, relieve gas, reduce bloat, and end indigestion. Additionally, sipping the hot water can soothe your stomach. As the water moves through your your system, it hydrates your organs so they are better able to eliminate waste.
  • Nibble bitter food. Fennel seeds and ginger root are classified as digestive bitters. A little at the end of your meal will promote gall bladder contractions and intestinal movement to prevent stagnant stomach. You can toast fennel seeds in a dry skillet until golden brown for enhanced flavor and performance. Ginger can be shaved to be eaten in thin curls.
  • Stretch into some yoga poses. Marichyasana improves digestion by twisting and massaging the abdominal organs. Pavana muktasana releases trapped gas and cures indigestion by stimulating peristalsis, the wavelike motion of the intestines.
  • Go for a walk. Rather than slumping onto the couch, which accentuates lethargic digestion, get up and move! Even just a slow stroll will stimulate your organs to work better.

Now, on the list of don’ts: avoid reaching for Tums or Zantac. We believe in functional nutrition that what you absorb is just as important as what you eat. To rev up sluggish digestion, you need MORE stomach acid, not less. So, enjoy good food and good company, don’t rush your meals, chew thoroughly, and implement the strategies above to prevent and end holiday bloat, gas, and indigestion.

 

 

 

Inability to focus may be connected to inflammation

Inflammation Can Bust Your Willpower

Inflammation might be messing with your willpower. Check yourself. First, do you get distracted easily from your goals? Next, does your thinking seem foggy? Finally, do you give in to temptations after you have vowed to abstain? While self-discipline is an important quality, your ability to focus on your intentions may have physiological roots.

A new study tested how inflammation impacted willpower. The results indicated that higher levels of inflammation correlated with undesirable behaviors. For example, subjects were more likely to be impulsive, to delay gratification, and to have difficulty focusing when their inflammation levels rose.

A group of researchers at TCU measured chronic inflammation in their subjects through various blood tests. Then they provoked inflammation by administering LPS (lipopolysaccharide). At length, they determined that the higher inflammation levels were, the more likely their subjects were to report poor concentration, greater impulsivity, and less self-control.

The Role of Inflammation in Your Body

Articles and blog posts lead us to believe that all inflammation is damaging. However, inflammation does play an important role in your health. When you receive an injury, your brilliant body creates inflammation to kill infection and clean up damaged tissues. Once your body heals the injury, inflammation subsides. But for many individuals, inflammation is chronic because the injuries are ongoing from poor lifestyle choices.

Unfortunately, inflammation that doesn’t go away contributes to scores of health problems, from headaches to heart disease, and from constipation to cancer. With the recently-published study from TCU, it seems that inflammation even hurts your willpower. Once deep-seated inflammation takes root in your body, you may be more prone to poor decisions that increase inflammation even more. For instance, you might eat more candy, drink more alcohol, or vape more nicotine because your willpower diminishes. So it becomes a downward spiral. The sugary treat you indulge in once actually makes you less capable of self-control over future temptations.

Sources of Inflammation

Many factors contribute to inflammation. Most of these causes are linked to lifestyle: chronic stress, insufficient sleep, alcohol and tobacco use, and food choices. Diet can have more influence than any other cause. Diets high in sugars, refined and processed foods, and unhealthy fats seem to be the most inflammatory.

Control Inflammation, Control Willpower

Want to reduce inflammation and increase your willpower? There are many tactics you can employ today that will increase your control over your mind. These include:

  • Significantly limiting your intake of sugars and processed foods.
  • Choosing whole foods free of preservatives and additives.
  • Working with a health care practitioner to identify nutritional deficiencies and to make dietary adjustments to return your body to balance.
  • Limiting alcohol and smoking.
  • Participating in moderate physical activity every day.
  • Engaging in stress-reducing activities frequently and consistently.
  • Sleeping more than 7 hours every night.

The bottom line is that to triumph by mind over matter, you need to support matter over mind.

 

omega-3 fats can be obtained from fish

Do I Have to Eat Fish? The Omega 3 Question

Do I really need more omega-3 fat in my diet? How much is enough? How can I increase my omega-3 levels? Isn’t flax seed oil just as good as fish oil? These are questions I hear a lot in my practice.

Why are Omega-3’s Essential Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are classified as essential because your body can’t make them. But you need them for life itself. Every cell in your body incorporates omega-3’s into its membranes, in order for nutrients to enter and wastes to exit. Omega-3 fats are necessary for cell receptors to work properly. Not only that, you have to have omega-3’s to create hormones that regulate blood clotting, inflammation, and arterial dilation. They seems to be important in preventing heart disease and stroke, and may help control eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, and other immune conditions. They may even be cancer-protective.

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA, and DHA. ALA is the most common in the American diet, showing up in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds, particularly walnuts, chia, and flax. The other two omega-3 fats are considered marine oils because they occur mainly in fish. EPA and DHA do not exist in plants.

Why is DHA Important?

DHA, short for docosahexaenoic acid, perhaps should be considered an essential fatty acid in and of itself. While your body can convert some ALA from nuts and seeds into DHA, that conversion rate is less than 10%.

conversion of ALA to DHA is less than 10%

DHA is critical for your brain. A full fifth of all the fat in your brain is from DHA. Additionally, DHA functions like the insulation on all the electrical wires in your house: it forms the myelin that insulates all your brain circuits. The reason animals have DHA and plants don’t is because it’s used for focus, decision making, and problem solving. I haven’t met any reasoning plants, yet.

Studies show that the fewer animal foods you eat, the lower your DHA levels will be.

DHA levels are lower in plant-based diets

How Much is Enough?

The science of essential fatty acids is still young, and there are not defined minimums for omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. But here are some recommendations that we do have: According to the National Institutes of Health, an adequate intake of ALA for women is 1100 milligrams per day (1600 mg/day for men). The USDA 2015 dietary guidelines encourage adults to obtain at least 250 mg per day of marine omega-3 fatty acids to protect against heart disease.

Best Sources of DHA

Land animals have very little omega-3 compared to fish. While grass-fed beef may have twice as much omega-3 fat as corn-fed beef, still it only has about 80 milligrams in 3-4 ounces, compared to 1000 milligrams in the same size serving of salmon. Recently, however, lamb has come to the forefront as an alternative for those who can’t abide the smell or taste of fish. The chart below compares the amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in various cuts of meat.

omega-3 fats in various meats

Still, those numbers include ALA, and are not truly reflective of the amount of DHA available for your body. So, the bottom line is that yes, you do need to eat fish! A good recommendation is 8 ounces per week.

A cornucopia of unprocessed Thanksgiving food.

Thanksgiving Unprocessed

The Thanksgiving dilemma is that we want to FEAST, but we don’t want the food coma that follows!When you make your Thanksgiving unprocessed, you will actually eat less and be more satisfied! Switch out manufactured foods for whole foods that don’t come with a nutrition label to have a truly pleasurable meal that doesn’t leave you feeling sluggish and sick!

Non-boxed Stuffing

wild rice stuffing

It’s time to think outside the box – the stuffing box! In this wild rice stuffing, say goodbye to stale bread & long ingredient lists. Say hello to tender wild rice, crispy bacon, mushrooms, herbs, nuts, & cranberries.

  • 1 c. wild rice blend
  • 2 c. chicken bone broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tb. butter
  • 6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8  crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • ½ c. fresh cranberries
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tb. fresh snipped sage
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Bring the bone broth to a simmer. Add the wild rice, bay leaf, and butter. Then cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onions, mushrooms, garlic and celery in a little bit of the grease left from cooking the bacon. When vegetables are soft, stir in cranberries and cook just until they pop. Mix in the herbs.

Combine the rice, bacon, sauteed vegetables and nuts. Season to taste. Voila! A classic recipe for Thanksgiving, unprocessed and original!

Green Beans with  Mushroom Gravy

green beans with mushroom gr

Forget the canned soup for this green bean casserole that is loaded with flavor! Portobello mushrooms and balsamic vinegar are sauteed in butter and thyme, then topped with baked leeks for a bit of crunch in this amazing unprocessed Thanksgiving comfort food!

  • 1 leeks, thinly sliced (white part only)
  • 1/2 Tb. avocado oil
  • 1/8 tsp. each salt and paprika
  • 24 oz.  frozen green beans
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 c. sliced portabello mushrooms
  • 3 minced cloves garlic
  • 2 Tb. butter
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tb. balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ c bone broth
  • 24 oz. (2 pkg.) frozen green beans

Toss the leeks with avocado oil, paprika and salt. Microwave in a covered bowl for 2 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spreading them out into a single layer. Place 6″ beneath the oven element and cook on low broil for 4-5 minutes until golden.

Saute the onion, mushrooms, and garlic in butter and thyme until tender. Add salt, vinegar, and broth. Simmer 10 minutes. Blend until smooth.

Steam the green beans according to package directions. Fold beans into mushroom gravy. Garnish with leeks.

Traditional Candied Yams

candied yams with dates and maple syrup

Dates, pure maple syrup and cinnamon lend a decadent sweetness to these classy candied yams– without artificial ingredients — to make an unforgettable comfort food for your Thanksgiving Unprocessed.

  • 6 c. yams, peeled and cubed (2-3 yams)
  • 4 Tb. butter, melted
  • 1 c. chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 4 Tb. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ c. unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 Tb. butter, melted

Toss yams with 4 Tb. butter and layer in a 9×13 baking pan. Roast at 425° for 25 minutes.

While yams are roasting, pour boiling water over dates to soften. After 5 minutes, strain the dates. Combine the dates, maple syrup, cinnamon, coconut flakes, and 2 Tb. butter. Toss with roasted yams and bake at 350 for 15-20 more minutes.

Homemade “Cornbread”

millet, cornbread, and sweet potato bread

Pass up the frozen dough and gluten bloat when you make this absolutely scrumptious corn bread from millet, buttermilk, and sweet potatoes. No sugar needed!

  • 2 Tb. coconut oil
  • 1 c. millet flour
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. sweet potato, cooked and mashed
  • 1 egg

Melt the coconut oil in a 10″ oven-proof skillet.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mashed potato, and egg. Add the potato mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until combine

Spoon into  skillet and bake in a preheated 425° oven for 20 minutes.

Fresh Fruit Salad

rosy cranberry salad

In this rosy cranberry fruit salad, there’s no need for imitation whipped topping! The unprocessed burst of flavor comes from honey, warm spices, and orange juice, perfect for your Thanksgiving meal!

  • 5 whole cloves
  • 3-4 allspice berries
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • ½ c. honey
  • ½ c. orange juice
  • 1 pkg. fresh cranberries
  • 2 red pears, diced
  • 2 green apples, cubed

Put spices in the center of a coffee filter. Bring the edges together like a bag to enclose the spices. Secure with a wire twist tie or a piece of string. Put the honey and orange juice in a saucepan. Add spice bag. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by half.

Remove and discard the spice bag. Add the cranberries to the pot and cook until berries are softened. Remove from heat. Cool, then add pears and apples.

Unprocessed Thanksgiving Pie

no bake pumpkin pie with cookie crust

You’ll love this mouthwatering no-bake pumpkin pie! The yummy cookie crust contains only unsweetened coconut flakes and dates. So there are no trans-fats or processed flours. And the delicious pumpkin filling is made without canned milk!

Cookie Crust:

  • 2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 ½ c. pitted medjool dates, roughly chopped

Process the coconut flakes and dates until the mixture resembles brown sugar. Press mixture firmly into a pie tin. If you desire a crisper crust, poke holes in it with a fork and bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes. Cool and fill.

Pumpkin filling:

  • 1 Tb. gelatin
  • 3 Tb. water, divided
  • 2 c. cooked pumpkin (may be fresh, frozen or canned)
  • 2 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ c. butter, softened
  • 1/3 c. honey

Soften the gelatin in 1 Tb. cold water. Add 2 Tb. boiling water and whisk until frothy. Blend the gelatin mixture, pumpkin, spices, butter, and honey. Pour into crust & refrigerate.

Your Thanksgiving Unprocessed

Twisting yoga pose for bloat

When you eat real food, you are less likely to overeat. But if you do happen to gorge yourself on all this appetizing, nourishing food, your best bet is to take a walk instead of hit the couch.

If you feel bloated or have heartburn, try these natural remedies instead of reaching for Tums or Zantac:

  • Sip peppermint or chamomile tea.
  • Nibble a razor-thin slice of fresh ginger root.
  • Chew some roasted fennel seeds.
  • Stretch into some yoga poses for digestion, such as maricasana or pavanamuktasana.