Navigate / search

No more potato bashing!!

spicy sweet potato2

No more potato bashing! These root vegetables do in fact have nutritional benefits. All potatoes with skins on (very important to eat the nutrient containing skins) have a healthy dose of fiber which will help your blood sugar level stay healthy. The vitamin C in the potato is great as an anti oxidant in your body as well as an essential compound for the maintenance of our body’s connective tissues like your gums. A third of your daily manganese requirements are met in just one baked potato. Manganese has many functions in your body including keeping your thyroid gland healthy (important for hormone regulation and metabolism), keeping your bones strong, and building and metabolizing fatty acids needed in the body as fuel and in your cell membranes. Potatoes also provide you with almost half your days worth of vitamin B6 which helps you synthesize neurotransmitters, build/ break down proteins, as well as breaking stored energy down for use as fuel. The biggest surprise of them all… blood pressure regulating potassium. Potatoes have one of the highest amounts of potassium compared to any other piece of produce. In fact potatoes beat out bananas, they have more than three times as much (on average) than bananas do per serving. So why all the negative press on potatoes? I blame the French fry. When French fries are made they often peel the potato which holds much of its nutrients, and also fry the potato at such high temperatures that the nutrients are broken down leaving you with only a high fat, high carb, low fiber, low nutrient product. Feel free to enjoy your potatoes. Preferably baked, roasted, or mashed with the skins on. One more tip, the more colorful the potato, the more antioxidants it will hold. Think, sweet potatoes (orange) and even purple potatoes… be brave, they are just as easy to prepare as their less colored counterpart. We do encourage everyone to eat a colorful diet. With lots of colorful produce. So please enjoy your potato with a nice salad or colorful veggie.

Here is a simple and delicious recipe to try this week with some antioxidant rich sweet potatoes…

2 or 3 whole sweet potatoes
3 table spoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
black pepper to taste

Pre heat oven to 450 degrees F. Wash and cut sweet potatoes in half length wise, then dice up the sweet potato halves into approximately a one half inch size. Mix your sweet potato pieces with remaining 4 ingredients either in a large bowl, or a ziplock bag to distribute oil evenly. Pour your sweet potato mixture onto a cookie sheet or roasting pan in one layer. Roast for 20 – 25 minutes or until they are soft when you put a fork in them.

Delicious! Have a healthy week 🙂

A Detoxifying Salad…

You know me… I am a salad snob, and proud of it. Not only am I snobby about how my salads taste, but I am also snobby about what my salad does for my body. If I am going to create a salad… I might as well put my masters degree in Nutrition to some use and make that salad pack a nutritional punch. Game on.

In the spirit of the detox discussion that I started Friday, I would like to share with you my detox salad recipe. Please understand that this is NOT a salad that you must incorporate into an organized detox regime. NO! In fact I don’t really do organized detox regimes… instead I just incorporate detoxifying foods as much as possible into my daily meals. That way your liver is constantly receiving the nutrients and co factors that it needs to effectively turn the toxins that you encounter into waste products. This makes your liver happy, and gives it more tools to do it’s job. Additionally, if you make this salad with organic vegetables, the liver will have less of a work load. Why? Because when you ingest pesticides, your liver identifies them as toxins (correctly) and needs to put them through the detoxification steps in order to turn them into waste.

I have designed this salad to contains many detoxifying vegetables… specifically beets, citrus, and bitter greens (arugula). I also have designed this to contain mostly ingredients that you can buy at the farmers market right now. That way you can have a LOCAL salad which is great for our local economy 🙂 Not to mention healthier since these vegetables have not traveled very far. They are not jet lagged, dehydrated, or malnourished. This recipe is gluten free. At the end of the instructions I have provided a link to a wonderful dressing recipe.

6 cups of arugula washed, towel dried, and chopped into bit size pieces

1 red onion caramelized

1/2 bunch of asparagus roasted

1 orange peeled and diced

2 cooked beets diced

handful of sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil

salt and pepper to taste

 

The salad dressing recipe is linked here salad dressing recipe

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. To roast the asparagus just wash them off and dry them with a kitchen towel. Chop off the woody white ends. Then chop them into bite size pieces. Toss them in a bowl, or gallon size zip lock bag with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, some salt and some pepper. Put them on a greased cookie sheet and put them in the oven. Roast them until desired tenderness… about 25 minutes. Let them cool and then add them to your salad bowl.

Use the butter/ coconut oil to caramelize your onions. Those directions are posted below. Don’t have time? No problem, just cut the red onions into thin slivers and maybe cut the quantity in half. Raw onions are very strong so less of the raw onions will be good.

Combine in a large salad bowl arugula,  asparagus, onions, oranges, beets, and sunflower seeds. Add a little salt and pepper. If you choose to make the salad dressing add about a half a cup of the salad dressing. If you choose not to add about 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

Toss the salad and serve 🙂 If you need help with preparing the beets or the onions, help is posted below 🙂

 

Are you unsure how to cook beets? Here is one method…

Wash the beets and cut the greens off. TIP: Leave the base of the beat stems intact with the beet. Why? Because that way the skin remains intact throughout the boiling process and fewer nutrients are leached out into the water.
Place the beets into a large saucepan with enough water to cover them. Put the burner on the high setting and let them coming to a rolling boil.
Once the beets have reached a rolling boil turn the heat down to the low setting and let them simmer for approximately one hour. When you can pierce the beets with a fork fairly easily they are done. Larger beets will take longer to cook and vice versa. Start testing them with a fork at 45 minutes.

Once they have passed your fork test pour them carefully into a colander in the sink and run some cold water over them to cool them down. Wait a few minutes as they cool. Then after you’ve waited, pick one up and put it under more cold running water. Carefully push with your fingers to remove the skin. WARNING: The beet may still be hot under the skin! The skin should slide off very easily if it is fully cooked. Repeat this process with remaining beets.

Your hands will be stained from handling them but I promise it will be worth it and the pink will wash off within a 2 or 3 hand washes.

Place beets on a cutting board, halve them and slice them.

 Are you unsure how to caramelize onions? Here are those instructions…
Just heat up a skillet/ fry pan (cast iron tastes best) to about medium and add a tablespoon or two of either butter or coconut oil. Add the onions and flavor them with salt and pepper to taste. Stir the onions often to prevent them from sticking to the pan. Add extra butter/ oil if needed. Continue to cook the onions until you get a nice brown color to them. I prefer mine to be even a little burnt and crispy. Once the are browned to your liking transfer them to a plate to cool. When they are cool enough that they will not wilt your salad greens go ahead and add them as a topping to your salad.

 

Detoxifying foods for a healthy body…

liver-detox1

Hello everyone! Friday we covered the first layer of defense that you can provide for your hard working liver fiber, fluid, and physical activity. Today I’d like to explain how the liver detoxifies toxic compounds that it comes into contact with. There are two steps that happen in your liver which turn a toxin into a waste product to be eliminated. Step one is activation. If the liver identifies a toxic compound as such it first activates it by adding a molecular group. Once it is activated, the toxin is now ready for phase two of this process which adds another molecular group that turns it into a water soluble product that is ready for waste. The molecular groups that are added in step two can be methyl groups, acetyl groups, and sulphur groups.

Do you know what helps your liver help you?  Eating foods that contain these phase two detoxification groups. Those phase two detoxification groups can be found in a lot of fruits and vegetables. Eating a whole foods diet with lots of whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables is extremely helpful to your liver. Plant foods contain a lot of those phase two detoxification molecular groups. If you increase the pool of those phase two groups in your liver, you are putting it in a position of success. Additionally, if you buy more organic vegetables you are decreasing the toxic load presented to your liver. The less pesticides, herbicides, drugs, alcohol, and microorganisms that your liver has to clear out, the better off your liver will be. And the more plant foods with phase two functional molecular groups that you provide your liver with, the better it will do at clearing out the toxins.

Specific liver supportive foods…

-Beets! Betaine a phytochemical in beets is very helpful

-Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.

-Citrus

-Fresh produce in general… the brighter the colors the better

-Curcumin (tumeric)

I hope this gives you ANOTHER REASON to love your vegetables. Your liver loves them too. Now please go buy some broccoli (organic if possible) and make sure you follow it with some water and a little exercise.

Have a healthy Wednesday 🙂

Help your liver help you…Detox

happy-liver

While bringing the vitamix to work this week to show patients how to make fruit smoothies with beets (the liver loving vegetable), I have done much review on the detoxification funtions of the human body. This is one of my favorite topics and I’d love to share this with our blog fans! Todays blog is a basic introduction to what the liver does, and a few initial things you can do to support the liver. Tomorrow we will delve into some foods that help your liver detox.

The human body is built with wonderful detoxification mechanisms. It is REALLY cool actually. Your liver is incredible. That thing is so busy all the time and usually… just does not quit. What does it do you ask? Well for starters It filters 1.5 liters of blood in a minute. ONE POINT FIVE LITERS!! That is a Nalgene and a half, or two bottles of wine volume equivalence! Much of that blood comes from your gut after you eat food. That blood in your gut absorbs much of the nutrients and compounds that were present in the food you ate. Some of those compounds in your food were toxins too. Don’t get too upset though…It will be OK. I will explain how to minimize these, and how to help your liver help you. In addition to filtering all that blood every minute, it also stores carbohydrates for you. And it is GENEROUS with giving away those carbohydrates when you need them. Unlike your muscles, they are more selfish and hold onto their stored carbohydrates. Your liver’s generosity in turn helps you out when you have not eaten for a few hours. If your blood sugar drops your liver is the first to give up some carbohydrates to your blood to hold off your hangry cranky mood for a little longer. Your friends and family appreciate your liver’s generosity too. Nobody likes it when you are hangry. It also stores some vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin D, and Iron. Thanks liver. And additionally it builds carrier proteins that transport around your vitamins and minerals. With out those carriers your vitamins and minerals would not get to where they needed to go, to do the things that they need to do. That would be sad. Your liver also builds cholesterol which believe it or not you do need in the correct proportions anyways. And most importantly for the detox discussion, your liver breaks down things that can be harmful to your body like alcohol and xenobiotics. There is your nerd word of the day folks… XENOBIOTICS. A xenobiotic is anything that we come into contact with that needs to be broken down and processed. Like alcohol, drugs (both perscription and over the counter, chemicals (like pesticides, pollution, or from cleaning products etc). Certainly some of these chemicals are found in the air that we breath and some in the foods that we eat.

So the liver clearly has a pretty full schedule every day. It likes it’s job, and does it very well, but sometimes just like you, if you throw too much of a work load at it… it gets over whelmed. And then it can’t do it’s job as well anymore. I’m sure you can relate. We have all had those crazy busy weeks when school or work or familiy commitments overwhelm us and life starts to get messy. So how can we help the liver continue to keep helping us? By taking it easy on the liver. We live in a world that unfortunately has polution in their air, possibly in the water (depending on where you live) and our food sometimes has compounds that our liver needs to clear out. The first layer of helping your liver help you is supporting the organs of elimination. Your skin, your kidneys, your liver, your lungs, and your gut. How do we support these organs? The three “Fs” my friend (even though one of them is a “PH”) FIBER, FLUID AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY!

Fiber helps the body mover everything along. Especially when you follow it with water. Fiber also has the capacity to take some of the excess toxins / xenobiotics right out of the gut with it. We like you fiber! Hydration is very important as well. You want to be sure your drinking enough water so that your cells are not shriveled up and dehydrated. They need to be hydrated to properly function! Plus drinking adequate water helps you move all that food through your digestive tract as well. Drinking plenty of water is also good for your kidneys which are busy doing their own filtering. Just keep things moving… elimination. Physical activity aids your digestion as well, and also increases your sweat. Sweating is another way for you to detoxify your system! Other ways to increase sweat are ofcourse going into a sauna, hot yoga class, or just sitting outside in Arizona. I used to live in Arizona, the whole state is an outdoor sauna April through September. Physical activity is helpful even if you don’t sweat. A brisk walk is still great for your heart and digestion regardless of whether or not you actually sweat.

So the take home message today folks is every nutrition student’s mantra Fiber, Fluid and Physical Activity. Now go eat a piece of fruit, drink a glass of water, and go for a quick walk. Your liver will thank you. Tomorrow we will build on this some more 🙂

Have a healthy liver today!

Why kids sometimes hate vegetables…

kooky-faces-300x225-1

Did it work when your relatives forced you to eat a certain vegetable as a kid? Do you still to this day hate the taste of that vegetable? I bet you do. And the cycle continues. I know it seems like the most responsible thing to do as a parent … ENSURE that your child gets enough vegetables. And I do understand that logic. And you may be surprised by my advice to not force them to eat veggies after all of my pro vegetable posts! However I think it is not effective to force feed any child. As an alternative continue to try creative ways to get them interested in veggies. See above picture for an idea. If that fails just continue to feed them the veggies they tolerate while offering alternative vegetables for whenever they are ready. Just do your best! Eating should not be a power struggle. And learning to eat is far from perfect.

Another thing to keep in mind with children’s eating, it is a scientific fact that many kids are what we call “super tasters”. A super taster is a person who tastes bitter flavors far stronger than others. Why are kids more often super tasters? One theory is that as young human beings, they have heightened senses to taste poisonous plants and that way, intuitively know not to eat them. While broccoli and kale are NOT at ALL poisonous, they do taste more bitter than other veggies due to their sulphur containing phytonutrients …which are extremely healthy for you in fact! So when your kids proclaim them to not taste good, do not dismiss their claim! It may indeed taste far worse to them as those same veggies taste to you. Hold on, I’m not done… if you are able to continue presenting them in the house, they may eventually like them as they mature and loose those bitter receptors that were so strong as a child. Good vegetables for these super tasting kids (or any kids) would be carrots, green beans, corn, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, peas, squash, cucumbers, edamame, and beets. Anything not bitter. You get the idea ☺

Another point about my beloved vegetables… kids sometimes (and adults too for that matter) hate the texture of certain vegetables. To change the texture of vegetables there are a few options, cooking them (of course), and also blending them. For example Kale. If you know of, or have a kid who actually likes kale… congratulations! This one has been a hard sell in my experience, even when I’ve doused it with sugar! However, I am not above putting a little kale or cabbage in a smoothie I am making for a child. Typically if you do not put a lot into the smoothie they will not notice too much of a taste or color change. Just blend that smoothie on the highest setting for about a minute and see how you do. Any smoothie recipe you can add a green vegetable to. Perhaps start with a little spinach since it has a milder taste than kale. Kale is so advanced! I love Kale.

Have a Healthy Thursday 🙂

Why we love whole foods…

image_grains

Whole Food, what does this mean? I am not referring to a grocery store chain right now as you may be guessing. Today I’d like to explain a simple uncomplicated philosophy of food that we tend to be rather big fans of here at HartsSpace, whole food.

Essentially what I mean by whole food is a food that has all its original parts, and has been been minimally processed. When a food is processed it has been changed from its original form. This is not always such a horrible thing, for example rolled (or “old fashion”) oatmeal is the oatmeal grain, that has been rolled flat so that it has a slightly softer texture when eaten. All of it’s fiber containing outer layers are intact and consumed. On the other side of the coin, processing foods sometimes can rob the original food in its original form of some of it’s nutrients and health benefits. Think about the health benefits of a tomato, this nutrient dense plant naturally contains beneficial fiber to all who consume it and loads of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (healthy antioxidant plant compounds). Now turn that tomato into ketchup. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some ketchup! However this is just a good comparison between a perfectly healthy whole vegetable that has been put through heavy processing which robs the vegetable of much of its fiber and adds lots of sugar to make ketchup. Generally speaking during processing and refining of food, nutrients are lost and things are added to the food that are not food (preservatives, colorings, artificial flavors). It even gets to the point in the refining/ processing process where our government ends up fortifying the food with vitamins/ minerals that it contained initially before they refined it!

Take white flour for example. Whole wheat has lots of fiber and B vitamins. However all of that is contained in the bran or husk/ shell of the wheat grain. To make white flour or white bread that fiber and vitamin containing husk is removed. So then they have to add the vitamins in artificially to make sure most of our population is nourished. Is it me or does this seem overly complicated? The reason refined white flour was initially created centuries ago was to extend the storage life of flour, so that people would have it during times of famine or long winters. That is a pretty good reason! Now a days there is less of a demand for long lasting flour and we are lucky enough to have both white and whole wheat flour at our disposal when ever we need them. I like and keep them both on hand in my pantry. However it is always a good idea to choose whole wheat whenever you can. Or another idea is to mix them half in half in baking recipes since sometimes the white flour part helps the final product have better texture. Maybe you have learned this a time or two in your whole wheat baking projects? I know I have.

The great thing about eating a diet based on whole foods is that you are eating foods in their original form which just so happens to be (most of the time anyway) the most healthy form. Take an apple for example. Do you know where most of the nutrients in the apple is located? In the peel! This is true for most fruits and vegetables. Not that I want you to eat banana peels! Or Avocado peels, no please do not do that either. It’s challenging to eat an entire diet every single day made up of 100% whole foods. That should not be the goal. Anyone who has been to a baseball game with me will know that is not my goal. Just fitting in whole foods into your day, or cooking projects where ever you can is something to be proud of.

Have a healthy day 🙂

Vitamin C Supplement vs. The Orange…

vitamin-c

One of the most facinating things I learned in grad school was how powerfully healthy food is on it’s own when compared to individual supplements. When we eat fresh produce and obtain our nutrients in the context of food, we really do benefit from not just a few nutrients, but a whole package deal of healthy goodness that goes beyond just a few vitamins and minerals . In a supplement you often times are sold a single nutrient or a limited number of nutrients.

Aquiring a cold for example leads many people to seek out vitamin C supplements. Often times people will purchase 1000% of the daily recommendation of vitamin C since they have heard many health claims that this is the power house against a cold. It may help don’t get me wrong. But do you know what else will help? Food. That’s right. Try an Orange.  “An orange??? How could that have enough vitamin C in it to boost my immune system?” You may be asking. We have somehow created this belief in our culture that we need megadoses of vitamins to help our bodies heal, or to boost immunity. We need food. It just so happens that food was designed (or evolved) to become quite supportive of our body’s needs. Additionally, often times our body can not even absorb the amounts of vitamins contained in some of these supplements and sports drinks. You just excrete them past a certain point, despite the “energy” that the label may claim it will give you.

Take the orange for example, 139% of your  daily vitamin C requirement is in one orange. That is plenty of vitamin C in one day for your body’s needs. Not only do you benefit from the vitamin C,  vitamin A, thiamin, folate, calcium, and potassium, additionally you are getting five different types of phytonutrients when you eat an orange. Let’s review what a phytonutrient is real quick. It is a plant compound that often times is responsible for the color of the plant. It is not an essential nutrient for a body process like it’s cousins vitamins and minerals are, but they often times are found to have anti-inflammatory or antioxidant properties. So they are non-essential nutrients with beneficial side effects. One of the stars of the phytonutrient show in oranges is a flavone compound called herperidin. This phytonutrient in animal studies has been found to have beneficial effects on blood pressure, and cholesterol results. Interestingly this compound is found mostly in the white pith of the orange… which you won’t find in the vitamin C supplement! You also will not find this portion of the plant in orange juice. UNLESS you pulverize your own whole orange with a little of the white pith attached in your blender. Which I highly recommend. With three ice cubes, a cut up pear, and a mint leaf.

My point is that fruits and vegetables are highly under rated for their nutritional content. And for whatever reason in our society… supplements are highly over rated in their nutrition potential (in my opinion anyways). Don’t get me wrong, supplements are certainly useful in certain situations! And I do take supplements daily for the vitamins that I find important for my life stage and difficult to obtain from food (vitamin D). However, after getting my Master’s degree in nutrition which I worked very hard to get, I am here to tell you… FOOD FIRST!

Have a healthy Thursday 🙂

A new weight management series at HartsSpace….

HartsSpaceLogo-FB

If you are looking for a quick fix plan for weight loss please look elsewhere, we do not offer these. Why? Well because they don’t work. Sure you can loose weight quickly a number of different ways. Statistically though, fast weight loss bounces back just as fast as it is lost. If you are you interested in making permanent life style changes but are unsure of where to begin and how to remain accountable to these new goals then please read on… you are reading the right blog! We have been very busy here at HartsSpace Mental Health & Nutrition  in the past few weeks gathering materials for this series, designing lesson plans, and seeing our first batch of patients who have bravely chosen to prioritze their health! Hats off to our motivated patients!

Our Back to the Basics program is an eight module appointment series which provides patients with structure, tools, meal plans, nutrition education, culinary instruction, and motivational help to assist patients in achieving their  weight management goals. We designed this eight module appointment series to offer those patients with extensive health insurance coverage a continuous weekly appointment during which they will be educated and motivated to positively effect their health. Why did we design this series? Well, since there is so much confusion thanks to the media regarding what behaviors are the most important to change. Fad diets (which are a dime a dozen you may have noticed) offer participants a one size fits all approach that is touted as the “one formula” to encourage  weight loss. Other mainstream diets offer more solid and structured diet friendly advice, but disregard certain other life style factors that need to be addressed for a weight management patient like sleep, stress, and cooking ability. Our goal of this program is to empower our patients to make the best decisions for themselves daily based on the nutrition/life style education & tools that we provide for them. Since it is after all those specific daily decisions that are what helps people change their life isn’t it?? Yes. It all boils down to daily decisions. And in this series we get our patients learning to ask the most important questions about these decisions… What affects your decisions regarding what you  will eat? Or IF you will exercise?  What do you take into account? Let’s make a list of some common factors…

Money

Time

Convenience

Fatigue

Cravings

Mood

Comfort Level

Environment

Social pressures

Habits

Preferences

Hunger

Nutrient Deficiencies

We have found this program to be most helpful for our patients who are seeking a more permanent solution to weight management. Much time is spent during our appointments taking an inventory of all of the factors that affect food, exercise, sleep and stress decisions, and then making a list of those factors that can be positively altered. For example: environment. This is one factor that can be altered to encourage a patient not to over eat or not to over snack. Teaching our patients how  to put the higher calorie foods/ snacks in less convenient locations can be a very helpful cue for many people to snack on them a little less. We also have had GREAT success with making individualized meal plans for many of our patients. Some times these seven day meal plans that come complete with recipes and grocery lists  are exactly what the patient will need to provide them with an understanding of what a day of healthy eating consists of. And they are each custom made to each patient so that they contain meals that we know the patient already likes. No surprises here, and no forcing anyone to eat what they don’t want to. Phew!

It has been a JOY to work with and to continue working with the first group of individuals in the Back to the Basics program and to educate them with SOLID ideas for their health. We will continue to be offering this program to new individuals with certain insurance coverage. For those with less nutrition insurance coverage, we are able to offer most  people with many of our Back to the Basics program concepts in a shorter period of time, typically about three appointments is standard coverage. To those with no health insurance there are cash options as well. Contact us anytime to decipher what your insurance might cover and what your options might be for this program. Our series we like to describe as :

Eight simple steps to restoring health.

Kind of has a nice ring to it don’t you think?

Have a Healthy Weekend!!

 

 

The overpriced, overrated energy drink…

24691_energy-drinks

Water has some sure fire competition these days. The marketing is everywhere you look… sporting events, billboards, at gyms, gas stations, grocery stores. The marketing will make you think that you will be a SUPER HERO if you buy and consume their sexy beverage. Little fridges with logos on them have popped up at cash registers in stores all over America, sporting the ever present new american trend of energy drinks. Their promising claims of  providing “vitality” and “performance” written in exciting language all over their sexy tall skinny cans. In a culture where time is hugely important and multitasking is expected, it is NO SURPRISE that these beverages were formulated and are sold easily. Is it bad that we value time in our society? No. Is is bad that we multi task? Usually not. We certainly have plenty to be proud of as a nation that has accomplished much. But perhaps our life style has become A LITTLE TOO FAST. Our demands these days are for more energy. Where will we get it? The beverage companies have come up with a solution…from a canned beverage with caffeine, B- vitamins, taurine (huh?), and 25 grams of sugar per serving. Oh were you going to finish that 16 oz can? That’s actually two servings so make that 50 grams of sugar or 12.5 teaspoons. That’s more sugar than anyone is recommended to consume all day long by the way. Sure, there are diet versions that are sugar free. But have you read the studies on sugar substitutes? The results are quite mixed. I can’t say with confidence as a nutrition professional that those are a great alternative either.

Remember when sports drinks were more like electrolyte drinks? And when people got caffeine from mostly coffee and soda? Don’t get me wrong I know old school sports drinks are high in sugar and so are sodas of course. But do those cost $4.00 per can? No. Now a days many of us are spending up to four dollars a can for these glorified sodas plus added B-vitamins and sometimes amino acid like compounds. What the heck is Taurine anyways? It is an amino acid that is quite abundant in the human body. It has some function in muscle metabolism which is likely the reason why energy drink companies have latched onto this as a marketable ingredient. But do you need to supplement some Taurine in your diet? Probably not. It is fairly abundant in the American diet since it is found in animal products which we typically eat plenty of. Even if you are a vegetarian your body can make it from B6 and two other amino acids.  Which brings me to another point. Are we deficient in B vitamins? Typically no. B vitamins again are prevalent in meat products, whole grains, and legumes. Additionally many of our starch foods like breads, pastas, rice, and cereals are fortified with lots of  B vitamins so before you even leave the house in the morning, you probably already have consumed enough for the day.

But there you are at 3 PM at the vending machine at work. Feeling groggy as your lunch is starting to wear off and you still have much to accomplish in the next two hours at work. Multi tasking is the name of the game of course! It’s $4 but you will get SO MUCH energy they say and be vitalized! Like a super hero. Will it wake you up? Probably…. 120-160 mg of caffeine will wake most people up. Do you know what has more caffeine than those cans of superhero juice? Coffee. The same serving size of plain old drip coffee has up to 416 mg of caffeine if it is brewed very stong. Around 224 mg if it’s weak. Plus it has a whole boatload of natural anti oxidants with it. And you don’t have to put 12 teaspoons of sugar in it to make it taste good. The choice is yours. I’m happy to report that almost everything in moderation is just fine. So if this is a treat for you, go right ahead. What has me more concerned however is when people use this as a daily treat. Then it’s not a treat anymore. Its excessive calories, caffeine and money spent. 

You might remember a while back a blog that I wrote on adrenal fatigue which is what happens to our health when we reach our max limit for a crazy life style. Essentially, a constant lack of sleep, and high stress situations can throw your hormone balance off which concurrently throws off your metabolism. This disorder can be exacerbated by high caffeine intake since caffeine only borrows energy in the form of temporary mental alertness instead of solving the problem by resting the body more often. Although I enjoy caffeine myself, I recognize that it can be addictive which eventually can lead to more complicated health issues. I am certainly not suggesting that you should not enjoy their caffeine! You sure should in moderation. Try not to overdo it often, and when you do over do it with caffeine, consider taking it easy for a day or two afterwards so that your brain and metabolism can relax. And try to be mindful about the source of your “energy drink”. Is it a natural beverage that provides you with many naturally occurring antioxidants and plant compounds like coffee or tea? Or is it a heavily marketed, overpriced, over sweetened, nutritionally unnecessary beverage?

Have a high energy day, preferably with out an energy drink 🙂

Healthy proteins for Cholesterol…

saladwithchicken

Good Afternoon! Although dietary cholesterol has been recently found to be less of an issue than dietary saturated fat, I still would caution those with high cholesterol against consuming high cholesterol foods. One thing that I’d like to make clear about cholesterol is that it comes SOLELY from animal products. Plants do not produce cholesterol. Instead they produce those compounds that we discussed last week plant STEROLS that are better for our health than cholesterol. What makes me laugh in the grocery store is when a vegetarian product has in big letters on the food label “CHOLESTEROL FREE”… No kidding!! It’s vegetarian. There is no POSSIBLE WAY it has cholesterol in it. Sheesh. They will tell you ANYTHING to get you to buy their product.

So just about any animal product that you eat will contain cholesterol. If you’d like to try a vegetarian diet to combat your high cholesterol that is great! But you do not have to do it that way. If you’d like to continue eating animal products, the leaner the animal product is… the better. Here are some lean meat ideas…

white meat chicken breasts

White meat turkey

pork chops

Wild Alaska salmon

Wild halibut

Wild Cod

When reading labels at the grocery store I would recommend looking for products that contain less than 50 mg of cholesterol per serving, and 5 or fewer grams of saturated fats per serving and please pay attention to the serving size. The serving size will really determine how much fat/ cholesterol you’re eating. If possible, try to get most of your daily fat intake from fish, or plants. Have some avocados with your salad. Use olive oils in your salad dressings or just use olive oil and lemon for your dressing on your salad. Drizzle olive oil over your roaster veggies. Portion out smaller servings of nuts into small 1/4 cup  amounts into snack size ziplock baggies or small tupperware. Remember to eat your pistachios! And peas please. The only vegetarian foods I would be weary of if you have high cholesterol is vegetarian saturated fats. The two most common being coconut oil and palm oil. As with any other saturated fats, they can turn into cholesterol in your body.

So for now remember lean meats and healthy fats! Have a healthy Monday:)