Sandwiches are a go to lunch for so many. And let’s face it they are easy to transport and a familiar meal. For most of my clients, it is a good idea to pass on the bread basket to achieve personal health goals. Some common goals are…
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?
In the image below, I have laid out some of my favorite healthy snacks.
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.
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
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
1 rounded Tblsp of nonflavored grass fed gelatin, Great Lakes
3 rounded teaspoons of Perque Potent C guard
2 Tablespoons Gaia Elderberry syrup
Reflecting back when I first started seeing clients with chronic symptoms from Lyme disease in 2004, there was very little published information on the topic. There were a few herbal pioneers who had published their first work like Stephen Buhner and Dr. Zhang, but still there was a long way to go in understanding how to support those who suffer this disease. So how did I navigate this new terrain?
As an herbalist, we pull our evidence from many sources, particularly when there is limited research. Since, we have a large body of safety and historical data from herb use, the burden of proof lies more with efficacy than safety. For my upcoming talk on Lyme at the AHG Conference, I have categorized the evidence into 4 categories, 1) Current research; 2) Empirical knowledge from laypeople and practitioners 3) Traditional and historical approach to other spirochetal diseases and 4) General knowledge of herbs for immune health, detoxification and inflammation.
There is no published clinical research for herbs and Lyme disease in the US. There may be unpublished research, like that of Dr. Cowden and case studies of his protocol and Allimax nutraceuticals small clinical study on garlic. These studies have not gone through the rigor of peer-reviewed publication. There is a growing body of in vitro research, like that of Brorson and Brorson on the effectiveness of grapefruit seed extract on cystic forms of Lyme in vitro (2006). Or the recent study on stevia whole plant extract on cultures of Borrelia biofilms and organisms, demonstrating that stevia was as effective as 3 antibiotic combinations for persistant Lyme bacteria in vitro (Theophilus, Victoria, Socarras, Filush, Gupta, Luecke, & Sapi, 2015). It is challenging to translate this in vitro research to real life clinical practice. Stevia extract will work differently in a human body than it willing a petri dish, first we must digest and metabolize the stevia extract before it will reach any Lyme bacteria. Some in vitro research is more promising, when compounds are tested versus whole plant extracts. In a comparison of 15 phytochemicals and micronutrients, baicalein (from Baikal Skullcap) and monolaurin (from Coconut oil) were two of the most active against the Borrelia biofilms (Goc, Niedzwiecki, & Rath, 2015).
There is a large body of empirical evidence from practitioners and those who are suffering with Lyme. Since Chronic Lyme disease is an illness not recognized by a portion of the medical community, individuals are often left on their own to sort out best treatment strategies. For better or worse, google and discussion forums become the “doctor” for Chronic Lyme. We have so much to learn from the individuals that have been sick with Chronic Lyme and their experiences. On an informal basis, I have learned so much through the years listening to my patients discuss their experiences with various remedies and approaches.
Recently the Caudwell Lyme Disease Charity in the UK conducted a survey of their members. They found that individuals with Lyme spend on average between 100-250 pounds a month on nutrition and herbal supplements and would spend more if their finances would allow. Some of the most popular products used by surveyed patients were Vitamin C, Omega 3, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and herbal protocols of Cowden and Buhner. There is a strong need to gather and organize this empiricial data in the US through a formalized survey of Lyme patients, similar to the survey that Defeat Autism Now conducted several years back for autistic children and their families.
Lyme disease is a modern disease and so there are no references to this particular disease in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and early American doctors. However, there is a body of knowledge from China on herbal treatment for other spirochetal diseases: leptospirosis and syphilis. Commonly used herbs are Sarsparilla (Smilax glabra), Baikal skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis), and licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). Reported effectiveness is high as is dose used. In the United States, a group of eclectic physicians treated Syphilis without mercury in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s with herbs such as Oregon Grape Root (Berberis aquifolium), Iris versicolor, Poke root (Phytolacca decandra), Corydalis spp, and Echinacea spp. (Ellingwood, 1908).
The root cause of ongoing symptoms of Lyme disease is multifaceted. These include a triggered autoimmune response, elevated neurotoxin load, chronic inflammatory pattern and chronic infection. Because of this, we can pull from the general body of herbal knowledge and utilize herbs that help to reduce inflammation, support detoxification, and support a healthy immune system.
For example, I frequently recommend turmeric and medicinal mushrooms to my clients with CLD. There is an exceptional body of knowledge that has been published about Turmeric (Curcuma longa) as an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, mood stabilizer and an emerging body of knowledge on the immune enhancing and TH1/TH2 modulating properties of medicinal mushrooms like Reishi, Cordyceps and Maitake.
Brorson, Oystein. (2006). An In Vitro Study of Cystic forms of Borrelia burgdorferi. Paper presented at the Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases: Seeking Answers Through Science, Philadelphia.
Goc, A., Niedzwiecki, A., & Rath, M. (2015). In vitro evaluation of antibacterial activity of phytochemicals and micronutrients against Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia garinii. J Appl Microbiol, 119(6), 1561-1572. doi: 10.1111/jam.12970
Theophilus, P. A., Victoria, M. J., Socarras, K. M., Filush, K. R., Gupta, K., Luecke, D. F., & Sapi, E. (2015). Effectiveness of Stevia Rebaudiana Whole Leaf Extract Against the Various Morphological Forms of Borrelia Burgdorferi in Vitro. Eur J Microbiol Immunol (Bp), 5(4), 268-280. doi: 10.1556/1886.2015.00031
Ellingwood, Finley. (1908). Treatment of Syphilis without mercury. Therapeutist, December.
Many people take multivitamin mineral supplements (MVMs), either as “insurance” against nutrients that are likely missing from their diets, or in addition to regular intake of healthy whole foods. Is this a good idea? That depends. It is always best to get your nutrients from food, if possible, and a MVM will not make up for bad dietary habits. There are pros and cons to taking MVMs, and all MVM supplements are NOT created equal. I do often recommend good quality MVM’s to my clients. However, when I learn that clients are using Centrum or similar product, I always advise them to stop.
Pros: A good MVM can boost intake of important nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, and vitamin C when illnesses challenge absorption or there is an increased need.
Cons: Some MVMs may provide too much or the wrong forms of certain nutrients, such as folic acid, iron, and copper, which can be harmful, and often include controversial ingredients.
So what about Centrum? Centrum and other popular MVM supplements may provide cheap, synthetic forms of vitamins and poorly absorbed forms of minerals. For example, inorganic copper is metabolized differently that copper which is derived from food, and is potentially toxic. Likewise, cheaper, synthetic forms of vitamin E, such as dl-alpha tocopherol or all rac tocopherol may actually be increase mortality and risk of some diseases. The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) demonstrated that synthetic Vitamin E increases risk of Prostate Cancer. Centrum and other MVMs include unwanted ingredients like food coloring, polyethylene glycol, the main ingredient in stool softeners, and BHT, which has been associated with liver and kidney damage. These and other “yucky” ingredients are just a few of numerous reasons to avoid common, inexpensive MVMs such as Centrum.
If you want to take an MVM in addition to a healthy, whole food diet, look for one with whole food ingredients, such as fruit and vegetable concentrates, and without additives. Look for MVM’s with natural forms of vitamin E (mixed tocopherols or mixed tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols), and minerals in their most bioavailable forms. For example, calcium and magnesium as glycinate, citrate or malate. I suggest finding an MVM without iron unless you are a woman of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding.
More is not always better and iron is a nutrient that can be harmful in excess amounts.
You can feed 3 birds with one worm.
Call it a three-fer.
Get the FULL 11-page report HERE.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
It could be easily argued that eating outside the home is a major cause of obesity in our country. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 medicine.
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 absorption 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.
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, inexpensive 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
Going dairy free was not easy at first. Not until I found Treeline Cashew Cheese and the very versatile Cashew Coconut Cream. The recipe is simple. You can freeze extra for future use. Cashew Coconut Cream can be morphed into mayonnaise, buttermilk for pancakes, cream for soup, whipped cream and creamy salad dressing.
Here is the base recipe
Makes 1 quart
1 cup raw cashews, preferably soaked 6 hours
15-ounce can unsweetened light or regular coconut milk
Place the cashews and coconut milk in a food processor or vitamix and process until very creamy and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Stop once or twice to scrape down the sides. Place in a container and refrigerate until chilled and thickened, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
Buttermilk substitute – Add 1 tsp of lemon juice per 1 cup cashew coconut cream, and use instead of buttermilk in pancake recipe. See my recipe below
Whipped cream substitute – Add 1/8 cup maple syrup per cup of cashew coconut cream; or add 10-15 drops stevia to 1 cup. Use with fresh fruit.
Mayonnaise substitute – To 1/2 cup cashew coconut cream, add 1/2 tsp herbamare or salt; 1 tsp each garlic and onion powder, 1 T mustard, 1-2 T pickle juice, preferably Bubbies pickle juice which has ferment, and 1-2 T olive oil.
Cream substitute – Try cashew coconut cream instead of cream in soup and sauces. I love using cashew coconut cream in this awesome Smoked Trout Chowder recipe.
Creamy salad dressing – To 1/2 cup cashew coconut cream, add 1 minced clove of garlic, 1 Tblsp olive oil, 1 Tblsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2 lemon juiced, 1/2 tsp herbamare, black pepper to taste, 1 tsp dried herbs (dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary).
Makes 9-10 pancakes
1 cup coconut/cashew cream, 1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup hemp or oat milk
1 cup Bob’s red mill GF flour (or ½ cup chickpea, ¼ cup rice, ¼ cup sorghum)
2 Tbsp ground almonds or almond meal
2 Tbsp coconut/palm sugar or maple sugar
1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp aluminum-free baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground flax in 3 Tblsp water (or 1 egg)
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
Blend all dry ingredients. Blend wet ingredients except coconut oil add to the dry ingredients. Melt coconut oil and add to the mix. Stir well. Warm coconut oil in nonstick pan. Pour batter into 3-4 inch pancakes on hot pan. Flip and enjoy.
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?
So how do we take a stand? How do we cut back on sugar?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.