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Is snacking healthy?

As a nutritionist, I am often talking about healthy snacking with my clients.  The goal of healthier snacking is to reduce sugar intake, boost fiber and protein, and increase disease fighting phytonutrients (fight with color!).  By doing this, you are helping to stabilize blood sugar and achieve optimal and healthy weight.

 

How do you know if it is a healthy snack?

  1. You won’t feel hungry or headachy and tired 1 hour later
  2. The snack is made from whole foods
  3. There are no unrecognizable ingredients on the label
  4. There is no added sugar or artificial sweeteners in the list of ingredients

 

In the image below, I have laid out some of my favorite healthy snacks.

  1. Veggies with hummus
  2. Banana with almond butter
  3. Rx Bar – one of the only protein bars all from whole foods (eggs, nuts, dates)
  4. Chickpeatos (roasted garbanzo beans)
  5. Clementine
  6. Sea snax, roasted sea vegetable

You can get the full list Healthy snacks.

 

HOWEVER, is snacking actually good for you?  The research is mixed.  Higher sugar snacking (sweets, sodas) is associated with obesity, while higher quality snacks (nuts, fruit) is associated with healthy weight.  In some studies, overall snacking is associated with greater BMI and body weight but a causal relationship is not established.

 

Snacking is on the rise, due to cultural trends, marketing and food industry growth, it is estimated that for some youth, 30% of their daily calories are derived from snacks.  Snacking in teenagers leads to a greater likelihood of skipping meals.   We live in a time of excess food availability.  Decreasing children’s exposure to unhealthy snacks has been shown to increase fruit and vegetable consumption.The mixed research may be in part because some people eat 4-5 small meals a day while others eat 3 regular size meals with 2-3 snacks.  The the line between snack and meal is sometimes not well defined.  Listening to your body is good.

 

It is OK to feel hungry between meals.  It is a natural and healthy response to intermittently fasting.  Eating at regular times, 3 times a day provides healthy cues to your biological clock which improves sleep quality and overall immune health. Like exercise, fasting between meals provides a healthy “stress” on your body that allows your body to enhance physiological function to adapt to the stressor.  These benefits include improved cardiovascular, learning, memory and cognitive health.

 

My philosophy is progress not perfection.

  • Good – choose healthy snacks
  • Better – eat 3 meals a day, snacking if you are growing, pregnant, b-feeding or hypoglycemic and have increase energy demands
  • Best – Provide healthy meal structure and also listen to your body, eat when you are belly hungry and stop when you are satiated

For some snacking is a part of life.  If people are going to snack, let’s make every bite count for health and not against.

 

 

Chapelot, D. (2011). The role of snacking in energy balance: a biobehavioral approach. J Nutr, 141(1), 158-162. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.114330

 

Collier, R. (2013). Intermittent fasting: the science of going without. Cmaj, 185(9), E363-364. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.109-4451

 

O’Connor, L., Brage, S., Griffin, S. J., Wareham, N. J., & Forouhi, N. G. (2015). The cross-sectional association between snacking behaviour and measures of adiposity: the Fenland Study, UK. Br J Nutr, 114(8), 1286-12

Jello Immune Shots

I love this Jello Immune Shot recipe.  Or you can call it the Jello “No Flu” Shot

Elderberry and Vitamin C can help reduce the duration and severity of a cold or flu.  This is tasty medicine for kids of all ages.  

12 servings, 1 serving contains 750  mg Vitamin C, 1,000 mg Elderberry juice


Ingredients

2 cups juice. We like the Power of 7 Juice at Trader Joe’s with organic fruits and vegetables: pomegranate, tart cherry, red grape, mulberry, cranberry, blueberry, and carrot

1 rounded Tblsp of nonflavored grass fed gelatin, Great Lakes

3 rounded teaspoons of Perque Potent C guard

2 Tablespoons Gaia Elderberry syrup

Instructions for Preparing

  • Mix 1/4 cup Power of 7 juice with gelatin in a bowl.
  • Heat the remaining juice.  
  • When the juice is nice and hot, add Vitamin C and elderberry and stir well.
  • Add the juice mixture to the gelatin/juice and stir well.
  • Pour into a shallow 8 x 8 inch pan.  
  • Let cool and then put in fridge to harden.
  • Cut into 12 squares.

10 ways you can save $, improve your health and help the environment

10 ways image

You can feed 3 birds with one worm.

Call it a three-fer.

Get the FULL 11-page report HERE.

 

DRINK FILTERED WATER INSTEAD OF BOTTLED WATER

Save hundreds of dollars a year, reduce your exposure to health-disrupting chemicals from plastic bottles, and protect the environment from additional landfill waste. Benefits – less plastic bottle waste, save money, cleaner water that is filtered from various toxins.

BREW YOUR OWN COFFEE AT HOME 

Make coffee at home and save hundreds of dollars! According to the USA Today Coffee Calculator tool, the cost for at home brew for 30 years is $867– compare that to 30 years of coffee at Starbucks for a whopping $22,995!  Restrain from fancy coffee drinks to save calories and protect the environment from paper disposable cups. Plus, no waiting in long lines to get your java fix!

EAT LESS MEAT, MORE VEGETARIAN 

Reduce hormone and toxin intake from factory-farmed meat, improve blood sugar and lipids with increased bean consumption.  Although 1 lb of chicken and beans cost the same, beans produce 3 times more servings than chicken does, plus it requires over 10 times less fossil fuels to produce beans.

WALK OR RIDE A BICYCLE TO GET PLACES

This may not be possible for everyone, but there are often ways to get more physical activity in one’s life while cutting costs. Most modern conveniences use the earth’s natural resources and spare us from physical labor, i.e. snow blower versus shoveling, cleaning your house versus hiring cleaners.  The truth is, we need more physical labor and the earth has limited resources. Conserve fossil fuels and burn your own: walking or riding a bike requires no fuel other than yours!IMG_1682

 

EAT YOUR WEEDS, DON’T SPRAY THEM

Your backyard is a medicine cabinet just waiting to be discovered.  Don’t kill those weeds, eat them! Wild weeds are nutrient dense, FREE and reduce the amount of insecticides and herbicides we pump into our ecosystems.  My favorite ways to prepare dandelion greens, chickweed, violet leaves and nettles is as an addition to pesto, salad, smoothies, quiche or green cakes.

 

RE-USABLE FEMININE PRODUCTS

The average woman will have between 350 and 500 periods in her lifetime, and women who use tampons will go through nearly 11,000 in her lifetime (Sutton et al, 2005).  Imagine the landfill waste!  Re-usable cups and pads can save money, 5 years of tampons is $420.  Plus the chemicals found in commercially available pads and tampons are a concern for reproductive health.

COOK AND EAT AT HOME

It could be easily argued that eating outside the home is a major cause of obesity in our countryjunk-food-cartoon-business-vector-character_MypvW1u_.  Let’s reclaim our kitchens for the sake of our families!  It is cheaper to eat at home and you know more about the food that is going into your body, less sugar, salt and trans fats.  Eating at home will help reduce carbon emissions from driving and increase physical activity from cooking and grocery shopping.  Create family-social time, set a good example for your children.

GROW VEGETABLES IN YOUR OWN YARD

Even the smallest patch of soil can usually grow something… how does your garden grow?  If you don’t have a yard, use containers for green beans and tomatoes.  Keep it simple to keep cost down.  Perennials like asparagus and strawberries cut down on yearly costs.  Gardening burns calories, gets you outdoors and helps you control what chemicals are added or NOT added to your vegetables.  Locally grown produce reduces the fossil fuels necessary to get food from all over the world to your grocery store.

BUY GENTLY USED CLOTHING AND FURNITURE

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Reduce toxin (i.e. flame retardant) exposure from new clothing, and reduce landfill waste and resources needed to produce new clothes.  Cost savings can be tremendous depending on what you find!!  Best resources are Salvation Army, Goodwill, Ebay, and Craigslist.

CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL AND CIGARETTES

Cigarettes and alcohol are both addictive substances and even small amounts can affect your health.  They are both expensive habits due to taxes.  The health consequences of smoking are not debated.  Alcohol can be healthy at the rate of 1 drink daily, but larger consumption can have negative health consequences.  Reduce air pollution, harm to wildlife and litter from cigarette use.

 

 

Top 8 Least Expensive, Healthy Foods

1. Water is almost free, particularly if you use tap water or filtered tap water and don’t buy bottled water.  Free of calories, essential to human health, supports detoxification, cognition, healthy blood pressure, reduces overeating and false hunger.  Water consumption reduces the intake of fruit juice, soda and coffee drinks that are high in sugar and cost.

2.  Wild plants, foraging is free.  You don’t need to poach on other people’s property.  Likely you already have a few edible visitors in your own yard. Some common edible plants are – dandelion leaf, chickweed, purslane, garlic mustard, stinging nettles (puree or cook first), tiger lily flower, violets.  Wild edibles tend to be more nutrient-dense than store bought varieties, rich in minerals and “secondary plant metabolites” = good mCouple with packetsedicine.

3.  Beans, approximately $2 per pound of dried beans.  Beans are a powerhouse food.  Rich in antioxidants, heart healthy saponins, fiber and protein. Beans benefit weight loss, they are low glycemic and good for Type II diabetes and diabetes prevention.

4.  Whole Grains, approximately $2 per pound of brown rice.  Best to get a variety of whole grains.  My favorite healthy options are quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, millet and amaranth.  Since wheat is a growing issue for many, I am not listing gluten-containing grains here. Get whole grains not “whole grain” products and rinse and soak for better absoword-spices-cinnamon-vector_GJaaDgDurption of nutrients. Grains are rich in fiber and support healthy digestion.

5. Spices and culinary herbs, starting at 75 cents per oz in bulk. This is one of the few items that will be cheaper in the health foods store than conventional grocer, if you buy bulk.  A little bit goes a long way!  Small amounts of spices and culinary herbs provide health benefits.  In general, this category of foods improves taste, improve digestion, relieve gas, improve body temperature in winter, rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds.onions-vector_My5euxvd

 

6. Least expensive veggies – carrots, onions, cauliflower and cabbage

7. Least expensive fruits – apple, watermelon, banana

Get the USDA’s full report here.

8.  Chicken eggs.  A dozen eggs can be as low as $2.  Get organic and free range and the price jumps to $4-5.  Regardless, chicken eggs are one of the best, iEggs in cartonnexpensive non-vegetarian protein options. They are a rich source of B vitamins, Vitamin D, selenium and protein. Eggs provide a low calorie, high protein source. Many studies suggest that 1-2 eggs a day has little correlation with heart disease

Sample Menu from our Top Ten List

Bfast – Steel cut oats, with sliced banana, pinch of sea salt and cinnamon

Lunch – 1 egg poached over sauteed cabbage, roasted garbanzo beans

Snack – sliced apple

Dinner – Red beans and cauliflower rice

 

Sugar – Tips for minimizing

There is a terrorist among us. It hides. It lures. It will take some of our children. We are smitten and we don’t take a stand. Forgive my alarmist attitude but we need to do something for our next generation. In 2012, this enemy killed 1.5 million people worldwide according to the WHO. Who or what do you think it is?

SUGAR.

So how do we take a stand?  How do we cut back on sugar?

Tip #1
One place to start is with our hearts, our spirits. Loving ourselves more, loving others more, finding the sweetness in life.

“The root cause of sugar addiction is that we are out of touch with the sweetness of life itself.” Charles Eisenstein

Tip #2

If you feed yourself sugar, you want more sugar. Eat a balanced breakfast with no refined starches (cereals, breads), it will cut your cravings for the rest of the day. Some recipe ideas.


expand your palate
 
Tip #3
 
Expand your palate. Include all 5 flavors to create balance. Excess salty can lead to sugar cravings and vice versa. Insufficient bitter taste can lead to sugar cravings.
 
 
“Sweet practice, bitter mind. Bitter practice, sweet mind.” Zen saying
 
 
 
Tip #4
 
Feed yourself some SOUL FOOD.
Often we reach for food when we are not hungry. Why do we do this? We are reaching for something to soothe our feelings, our spirit, make us feel better. What can we do instead of reach for food?
My top 5
Get a hug from human or animal (cuddly furry type)
Sing a song or listen to music or both
Take a bath
Step outside for some fresh air, look at moon and stars
Pray or journal
What is your soul food?
 
Tip #5
When you eat, eat. Pretty simple, I know. The other day I was writing a post for Facebook and eating my afternoon snack (some celery and almond butter), after the snack and the post I realized that I never really tasted the food. What a bummer! I was eating but not really. Eating mindlessly can leave us unsatisfied and reaching for more food.

 

Making kvass at home with berries and ginger

Making kvass at home with berries and ginger

Tip #6

When you are getting a sugar craving, eat some fermented food. It sounds weird but it works.  Eat a bubbies pickle, drink some kombucha, kvass, plain unsweetened yogurt.

Watch Monica Corrado make kvass.

 

Tip #7

Don’t eliminate the natural sweetness of real, whole food.  Sauteed carrots, baked sweet potato, fresh or frozen berries, mashed potato and celery root puree, apple sauce.  Cutting out the natural sweetness found in fruits, root vegetables and grains will stimulate sugar cravings.

Make your own applesauce, no sugar required.

 

Tip #8

Are you thirsty?  Drink water. Sometimes we mistake thirst as a craving for sugar.

When we are missing a key nutrient, or not hydrating, our body is in need of ‘something’ but we can misinterpret the body message.  Balance is key.  Try to avoid extreme diets that limit essential nutrients like fats or all carbohydrates.  Keep a water bottle by your desk.

sensory experienceTip #9
Are you tired? Sometimes we use sugar at night to boost energy and stay awake. For many, night time marks the only “down time” or alone time all day and it feels sacred. Carve alone time out of your day’s schedule so you can sleep at night and avoid night time eating.
 
Tip #10
 
Eat real food. Real food engages all your senses.  Fake food requires sugar and artificial sweeteners to appeal to our senses. 
 

Salty Dog

When I had my own herb product business, Dancing Violet Botanicals, I used to make and package Salty Dog – a salt substitute. It was one of my client’s favorite recipes!  Now with a busy clinical, teaching and mentoring schedule I don’t have time to develop and produce products. When I discontinued making the product, I taught people how to make the recipe.  And now I am sharing with you. You can purchase all the ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs or local health food stores.

Salty Dog Salt SubstituteIMG_2719

5 part Nutritional yeast

3 part Kelp powder

2.5 part lightly roasted Sesame seed, ground

2 part lightly roasted Milk thistle seed, ground

2 part Garlic, powder

1 part Nettles, powder

A part is whatever you want it to be, i.e. 1 part = 1 Tblsp or 1 part = 1 tsp. It depends on how big of a  batch you want to make.

To roast seeds, spread a thin layer on cookie tray and roast in oven at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Grind seeds and nettles in coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Blend all ingredients together. Store in airtight jar.

My favorite use for Salty dog is on air popped organic (nonGMO) popcorn, with olive oil. Spray olive oil on popcorn using a refillable sprayer, try Misto Stainless Steel Olive Oil Sprayer.  Then sprinkle with salty dog.  Enjoy!

Benefits

Nutritional yeast – is derived from a single celled organism, Saccharomyces cerevisia, grown on molasses. It is deactived, dried and powdered. Nutritional Yeast is rich in B vitamins, and offers a small amount of B12 and protein from a vegetarian source.

Kelp – Mineral rich, iodine rich, excellent thyroid supportive food. Make sure to buy good quality, like Maine Coast or from Island Herbs.  Kelp is a good replacement for table salt due to the nice balance of sodium and potassium.

Sesame Seed – Rich in calcium, magnesium and zinc for muscle, bone, immune health to name a few, phytosterols to help lower cholesterol. Adds a nice nutty flavor to the mix

Milk thistle – An excellent herbal medicine for supporting optimal liver function, bile output, supporting blood sugar regulation and detoxification.

Garlic – Excellent flavor option, rich in sulfur compounds, in larger quantities supports heart health, blood pressure, detoxification and joint health.

Nettles – Nettles is a great mineral rich weed, food and medicine. It does sting, but not in the dried, cooked or pureed form. Rich in Vitamin K, minerals, protein and silica, I like to call it “spinach on steroids.”

 

10 Reasons to Eat Locally

What is eating locally?  It is eating food that is grown in your region. This could mean growing your own produce, joining a CSA, shopping at a producer-only farmer’s market or checking the source of your produce at the grocery store.

Why eat locally?Farm Sign 1. Food tastes better. Food is fresher and is harvested closer to the time you eat it and is not ripening on a truck but rather on the vine.

2. Food is healthier. For the reasons stated above, food harvested at the peak time will be more nutrient dense. Avoids the use of fruit ripening agents and coloring agents used to mask lack of vitality in the plant.  Also, animals raised on small farms generally have more humane living conditions.

3. You can talk to the person who grew your food and support your local farmer. Make sure your farmer’s market is a producer-only farmer’s market so you are buying directly from the farmer.

4. Food is generally less toxic. Generally less pesticides are used at small local farms. Most local farmers can’t afford to be certified organic through the USDA, as it costs about 50,000 just to submit an application. But small farmers may use techniques to reduce the need for pesticides such as integrated pest management.

5. Save money. Buying direct from the farmer may be cheaper than going through a middle man.

6. You can support local business and local economy.

7. You can help the environment. Reduces carbon emissions.  Have you wondered how much it costs to ship a garlic bulb from China?

8. Eat with the seasons. Eating food in season saves money.  Also the plants that grow locally are exposed to the same environmental stressors as you are, they secrete secondary plant metabolites in response to those stressors.  Those secondary plant metabolites are the medicinal components of the food we eat.

9.  Try new foods and new recipes!  The farmer’s market or a CSA is a great opportunity to try weird new foods.  What do you do with Kohlrabi anyways!? Live on the wild side and eat purple carrots and potatoes.

10.  Support plant diversity instead of mono cropping.  Monocropping disturbs ecosystems.  Americans are getting sick eating diets that consist of soy, citrus, peanuts, wheat, corn and dairy.  Our ancestors ate diets rich in a diversity of plants.

4 sneaky ways to eat beans

Beans are rich in antioxidants, fiber and protein.  They are rich in plant estrogen-like compounds.  Useful for a variety of conditions, including heart disease, menopause, a variety of female disorders, osteoporosis, constipation, to name a few.

These are tips for sneaking beans into your diet or the diet of a picky eater.

1.  Vector Icons of Beans, Nuts, SeedsMash white beans or northern beans into tuna salad.  1/4 cup for every can of tuna.  I did this the other night.  No one could guess the secret ingredient in the tuna salad.  Get chunk light, skipjack or tongol tuna for lower mercury content. Download the National Resources Defense Council to see lowest mercury fish.

2.  Sneak into chocolate pudding.  Try this tofu chocolate pudding recipe.  You will never know it is made with tofu.

3.  Add beans to smoothies.  The extra protein helps balance blood sugar and provide a more nutrient dense snack or breakfast.  (Thanks to my friend and chef, Bonnie Gray for teaching me this trick).  Basic smoothie recipe – 1 cup almond or other unsweetened milk, 1/3 cup frozen organic berries, 1/2 banana, 1/4 cup white, pinto or fava beans.  Add more liquid as needed.

5.  Make burgers out of them!  This is a favorite recipe from Myra Kornfeld, chef extraordinaire!

Black Bean Burgers a modified recipe, original recipe by Myra Kornfeld

Serves 4

3/4 cup sunflower seeds, roasted unsalted

1 ¾ cup cooked black beans (1 can)

2 tablespoons coconut oil plus more for sautéing the burgers

1 cup diced onion

Salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon chile powder

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup bean cooking liquid or water

Warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt and sauté 7 to 10 minutes until softened.

  • Warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt and sauté 7 to 10 minutes until softened.
  • Add the garlic, cumin, chile powder, and oregano; and sauté another minute. Add 1/3 of the beans with 1/3 cup water (or bean cooking liquid if you have cooked them fresh), mashing the beans with a potato masher or fork. When the liquid is absorbed, continue with another third of both the beans and 1/3 cup water. Continue mashing until most of the beans are broken up and the mixture is chunky. Do this 1 last time with the last 1/3 of the beans and the last 1/3 cup of the water. Cook, stirring constantly at this point until the liquid is absorbed and the beans are very thick but not completely dry.
  • Transfer the beans to a medium bowl to cool until handleable, about 15 minutes. Stir in the sunflower seeds. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Spread a layer of pumpkin seed powder on a small plate. Form the bean mix into 12 small patties.
  • Dredge each patty in the sunflower seed powder.
  • Sauté the burgers; Warm a tablespoon oil in a medium non-stick skillet. Add the patties and sauté in batches until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Add more oil if necessary, just enough to have a thin film. Serve hot.

 

Best Chocolate EVER

Most people prefer to eat sweets in moderation.  Why is this so hard to do?  Let’s face it.  Sugar is addictive.  Some individuals I work with feel that sugar is an all or nothing conversation and that staying away completely works best.  Others find this approach leads to restriction/overindulging swings.  A healthy approach to sugar is not “one size fits all.”

For those that are trying to find moderation and struggling, I have invented the single serving homemade chocolate recipe.  It does not live in the cupboard.  It needs to be made nightly.  It is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free (hard to find in chocolate bars).  And it is arguable the best tasting chocolate I have ever had.

The RECIPE (1 serving)cocoa4

2 tsp coconut oil

1 Tblsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp coconut palm sugar

1-2 tsp milk alternative

sprinkle of sea salt

(optional) raw pistachios or other nuts, dried fruit

Melt coconut oil if not liquid.  Stir in all ingredients except pistachios and milk.  Line very small bowl with plastic wrap.  Place nuts, dried fruit (as desired) on plastic wrap and pour chocolate mixture over top.  Place in fridge for 30 minutes then enjoy.

 

Sports Drinks

There are 9 tsp of sugar in one 20 oz bottle of gatorade.  This amount of extra sugar is useless to most except maybe the elite athlete.

Are sports drinks needed in some cases?

When you are sweating, sweating a lot from exercise, you need to replenish both electrolytes and water.  Sweat contains electrolytes as well as water (thus the salty taste of sweat).  Generally, a typical person who exercise 30-60 minutes a day does not need added electrolytes from sports drinks but rather can acquire them from their food (fruit, vegetables, beans), in addition to hydrating with water.  Marketing has misled some to believe that sports drinks are the only way to replenish lost electrolytes.  Drinking water and eating a balanced diet is sufficient in most cases.  Hydrating is important.  The body will tell you when it is thirsty with symptoms such as a dry mouth.  Listen and drink water during physical activity.

Are there healthier options to gatorade and sugary sports drinks?

Here are a few options to replenish electrolytes and water during a strenuous workout:

  1. Orange juice with a pinch of sea salt
  2. Coconut water
  3. Water, pinch of sea salt and healthy fruit snacks
  4. Ultimate Replenisher (contains corn)
  5. Emergency Electromix (contains corn)