The Gift of Magnesium


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Can we talk about magnesium for a minute?  Call me crazy, but I can get quite effusive when discussing this powerhouse macro mineral.  In the pantheon of essential minerals, magnesium, in my book, is nothing short of a superstar.  Of course, all the essential minerals are necessary for good health, and they all deserve their due, but hardworking magnesium is truly a miraculous substance — one that we would do well to focus on for the preservation of our own good health.

Every cell in our bodies needs magnesium to function.  It is essential for healthy bones, it helps with protein synthesis and energy creation, it regulates our metabolism, it supports DNA replication, and it modulates our nervous system and mood.  Magnesium is also responsible for keeping our cardiovascular system healthy, our blood sugar regulated, our immune system robust, and our muscles functioning properly.  All pretty impressive, right?  In fact, more than 300 biochemical reactions in the human body are powered by magnesium.  Yet, various studies have shown that anywhere from 50-80 percent of Americans may be magnesium deficient.

How Can This Be?

 Magnesium is everywhere.  It’s found in the earth, in the sea, in plants, and in animals.  It is the fourth most prevalent mineral in the human body, where it is stored in our bones and in the cells of our tissues and organs.  Fifty years ago, magnesium deficiency was a relatively rare phenomenon, most likely because people ate more whole, unrefined foods back then – especially leafy green vegetables — and were less susceptible to the effects of environmental toxins, chronic stress, and systemic inflammation than we are today.  Today’s widespread use of prescription medications and alcohol also contributes to magnesium depletion, as does a diet high in processed foods, sugars, and saturated fats.  Regular consumption of carbonated beverages and coffee also works against us in flushing magnesium out of our systems because of their diuretic properties.  In short, our modern lifestyle effectively sets us up for magnesium depletion.

How Do You Know If You’re Magnesium Deficient?

Are you feeling “wired and tired”?  Do you get muscle cramps or weakness, suffer from insomnia, have nervous tics, or experience an irregular heartbeat from time to time?  Do you get dizzy when you stand up too quickly, experience numbness or tingling in your hands, face, or feet, and/or do you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks?  All of these may be signs of magnesium deficiency, as are high blood-sugar levels, weak bones, a poor complexion, and digestive disorders.

But take heart!  Magnesium deficiency can easily be resolved, given proper attention to getting a sufficient supply of magnesium-rich foods in our daily diet, as well as possibly adding in a high-quality magnesium supplement.  If you begin incorporating some of the following foods in your normal eating regimen, you should soon feel the amazing benefits of the “magnesium boost”:  more energy, a sense of calm, better quality sleep, and fewer aches, pains, and digestive upset.  In short, having sufficient magnesium on board brings your whole body into better balance and alignment.

Best Food Sources for Magnesium

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of magnesium is 400-420 mgs/day for men and 310-320 mgs/day for women, an amount that should be easily attainable.  The following foods all serve as excellent sources of magnesium:

  • Pumpkin Seeds (150 mg per oz.)
  • Leafy Green Vegetables (especially Spinach, Kale, and Chard) (156 mg per cup/cooked)
  • Cashews (82 mg per oz.)
  • Almonds (80 mg per oz.)
  • Walnuts (45 mg per oz.)
  • Dark Chocolate (70-85% Cocoa) (64 mg per oz.)
  • Black beans, Adzuki beans, and Kidney beans (avg. 120 mg per cup/cooked)
  • Whole grains (especially Quinoa) (avg. 118 mg per cup/cooked)
  • Split Peas (71 mg per cup/cooked)
  • Avocados (58 mg per avocado/medium)
  • Fish (especially Halibut, Mackerel, and Salmon) (avg. 53 mg per half fillet)
  • Tofu (53 mg per 3.5 oz. serving)
  • Flaxseeds (40 mg per tbsp.)
  • Bananas (32 mg per banana/medium)

So, take some time out from your daily grind to make self-care a priority – including getting adequate doses of magnesium! Have a cup of hot cocoa, munch on some almonds, and savor the moments.  Life IS better when we FEEL better, and magnesium provides us an excellent path for doing that.  Don’t ignore the gift of good health that magnesium offers us.  A little attention to dietary change can go a long way.  Here’s to your health!


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What’s changed since Power of 10?


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Adam’s Serendipitous Career in Exercise

“I’ve made the mistake of not thinking for myself in a way, just following a strict protocol. Now, I still believe in the principles of lifting weights slowly and safely and there has to be a certain level of intensity, but that’s where the rules end.” Adam Zickerman, owner of Inform Fitness and author of Power of 10, speaks to HITuni about his story and how his perspective on exercise has changed over the years.

Adam has been a successful gym owner since the late 1990’s. In fact, 2018 marks his 21st year in the business of teaching the principles of sound strength training, but how did it all begin for him?

He had always been athletic as a kid and teen playing baseball, swimming, cycling and even pushing himself through triathlons. It was this athletic nature that initially led him into the world of strength training, seeking improved performance in his sporting endeavors.

As a motivated young man, Adam stuck with his physical regime even after entering the working world. At this point, he was exercising 5 days a week and could often be heard espousing the benefits of exercise to his more sedentary work colleagues. It was whilst looking to motivate his boss into starting exercise that Adam had a wake-up call of sorts. Obviously not a man to mince his words, Adam’s boss retorted with words to the effect “For all the exercise you do, you look like shit and as far as I can see your workouts are doing you more harm than good!”      READ MORE

Read HitUni.com’s blog post in a series featuring outstanding individuals from the HIT community who we spent some time with on our trip to the US earlier this year. In this post, we feature Adam Zickerman, owner of Inform Fitness and author of Power of Ten 10.

 


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Turkey Tacos


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MEAL PREP: Turkey Tacos

 

Right now is a really amazing time to be low carb, gluten, and grain free.  There are numerous companies that make alternate versions of your favorite carbs, and these days you won’t lose all of your friends for replacing rice, mashed potatoes, and pizza crust with cauliflower (only most of your friends).  I’m not big on prepackaged foods, but there’s a brand, Siete, that makes tortillas out of almond flour.  I used these Siete wraps for meal prep this week to make tacos.  One drawback of Paleo is that you really never get to eat with your hands, and while a taco salad is delicious and good for you, it’s still a salad.  I love biting into a taco and having its contents spill out all over me as much as the next guy, and thanks to Siete and companies like them, now I can!

 

 Taco Ingredients

 

Ingredients:

2 pounds lean ground turkey

2 red bell peppers

1 medium onion

Spinach

Guacamole

Siete almond flour wraps

Taco seasoning (recipe to follow.  If you want to use premade taco season, look at the ingredients.  A lot of companies (looking at you McCormick and Old El Paso) sneak vegetable oil, soy, and corn or potato starch into their spice mixes.  A taco seasoning shouldn’t have any of that stuff) 

 

Taco Seasoning

2 Tbsp Chili powder

1/2 Tsp garlic powder

1/2 Tsp onion powder

1/2 Tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 Tsp oregano

1 Tsp paprika

3 Tsp cumin

1 Tsp salt

1 Tsp pepper

 

1) Dice red peppers and onions, saute over medium high heat until tender

2) Add turkey over veggies and saute until just browned

3) Sprinkle spice mix over meat and veggies

4) Pour about 3/4 of a cup  of water over entire mixture to help distribute spices.  Mix it all up and let the water cook off

5) If using Siete wraps, you should nuke them in the microwave for around 15 seconds, this will soften them up and stop them from cracking on you

6) Put about 1/3 cup of taco meat onto wrap, garnish with spinach, 1 tablespoon of guacamole, and hot sauce

 

Turkey Tacos 

Meat (1/3 cup): 118 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 15 grams protein, 2.5 grams carbs

Siete Wrap (1 wrap): 100 calories, 5.5 grams fat, 3 grams protein, 10 grams carbs

Guacamole (1 Tbsp): 23 calories, 2 grams fat, 1 gram carbs

 

Per taco: 241 calories, 9 grams fat, 18 grams protein, 13.5 grams carbs

 

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Put Your Oxygen Mask Back On!


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Put Your Oxygen Mask Back On!

“What About Me?” is my summertime inner-self mantra! But rather than speak for anyone else (although surely many empathize), I will reflect on my own experiences. Summer is coming to a close – that’s a Season, not a three-month vacation. I realize now, the grass always appears greener, irrespective of the Season. Schools get out, life appears easier, but before I know it, I am salivating as the count-down to Fall matriculation starts with visions of the heavens parting as the school doors open.

As a mom, the summer season whips off my oxygen mask. My life is nearly unmanageable when schools are in session, with every day feeling like a marathon. That being my status quo, add Summer and the dysfunction unfolds exponentially. Yikes! The real question is how I prioritize myself, and namely my health and fitness, when I am also responsible for the wellbeing of many others, who have the free time I don’t? How do I defend my time, which is so scarce, and when everybody wants it? My answer is STRATEGY. My strategy is the same as always – to get my own oxygen mask on, again, and this time firmer than ever.

Take Care of Yourself Before Assisting Others

As Summer has proved, if I am not taking care of myself, I am unable to be of optimal service to my family and community. Summer has taken its toll on my metabolic health, to say nothing of my sanity. As I never have time to waste on any inefficiencies (especially since so few are even within my control), I need serious bang for my buck. Essentially, I will no longer settle for a strategy that yields less than the highest return, for the lowest level of risk, with only the minimal investment of my own. If I were describing an investment portfolio, you’d all be grabbing your checkbooks. But I am talking about strength training!

Absent this fictional time to waste, my “exercise” must stimulate a positive physiological adaptation that serves to enhance my fitness, without undermining my health. The activity must be safe, efficient and produce measurable metabolic results. While running and aerobics are physical activities, I question the risk (wear, tear and injury) versus the reward (positive physiological adaptation). And, to be honest, even if I loved to run, I don’t have the darned time.

Muscular Strength is My Armor

I armor up for life with muscular strength for optimal movement, energy and protection from injury. My skeletal muscles serve as the engine, chassis, and shock absorbers for my body. I assert, for me, that building muscle is the exercise for this modern working parent! And, it’s the best way to proactively combat the myriad problems associated with ageing, supercharge my metabolism and increase cardiovascular endurance.

Safe, efficient strength training is my oxygen mask. My metabolic health, functional ability and stamina ALL depend on my physical strength: the more muscular strength I have, the more I can do, and the better I will age (and the more fun I will have doing it).


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EXERCISE TO LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT


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Controlling Your Quality Of Life

The true, universal value of exercise boils down to only one thing – your quality of life. Despite tragedies out of our control, genetic dispositions both physical and metabolic, and our society’s shared struggle to prioritize exercise above the myriad seemingly more pressing responsibilities, heedlessly trust that deprioritizing concentrated physical exertion is tantamount to forfeiting the opportunity to live your longest and most enjoyable life possible. Our functional ability and stamina depend on our physical strength – the more we have, the more we can do, and the better we will age (and the more fun we will have doing it). Put simply, use it or lose it.

As modern professional women, we do it all these days: career, family, interests, social networks, higher personal development, etc. But if meaningful exercise isn’t carved out, do know that your quality of life takes the hit. Whether that hit presents in your real-time, day-to-day living or in the ultimate cultivation of a possibly-avoidable, better managed, or even reversible genetic pre-dispositions. You will pay the opportunity cost somehow, at some time.

While we continue to be a visually oriented society, having long exercised predominately to “lose weight,” the presumption is often still that if we look good, we feel good, and as a corollary, are fit and healthy. That presumption is dead wrong, so even if just for a moment, ditch the notion of exercise having anything to do what’s attractive, and focus on your health.

More skeletal muscle, in conjunction with a balanced diet will ensure that your insulin levels remain steady and suppressed. Alternatively, high insulin triggers your stress hormones, adrenaline, and epinephrine to activate a process to metabolize large amounts of fat. Your insulin will block fat metabolism and will instead direct that sugar to be stored as fat, and the resulting body composition will put you in metabolic danger of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and sarcopenia.

Helping Women Fight Osteoporosis 

Or, if you’re one of the millions of women suffering from osteoporosis (or at risk), building muscle directly increases bone density by putting increased stress on the bones, making them stronger, healthier, and less prone to fractures and breaks. Not only does increased bone density slow the devastating bone loss associated with getting older, it also helps to counteract any future loss by building additional bone matter. Your new muscle mass will also serve to protect your bones, guarding them against injury and cushioning the blow in case of a fall.

Aesthetically, well-developed back and shoulder muscles will improve posture, toned arm and leg muscles, calves too, improves appearance (and helps prevent the formation of varicose veins), pectoral muscles enhance the lift of the bust, etc. If you are after a younger looking, more vibrant feminine body, you want more muscle. And, added muscle improves our appearance with definition and helps to fight gravity, holding up our desirable body fat in the right places.

Fight Ageing With Muscle

Building muscle is the best way to proactively combat the myriad problems associated with ageing, supercharge the metabolism and increase cardiovascular endurance. Indeed, osteoporosis, diabetes, impaired cardiac function, weight gain due to decreasing metabolism and loss of glucose sensitivity, joint pain, loss of balance and injury, etc., can all be traced back to the fact that we lose vital muscle as we age. Logically then, one of the best things you can do to enhance your overall health and fitness now is to build muscle, whilst arresting the natural course of muscle loss that occurs as we age. Remember that our skeletal muscles serve as the engine, chassis, and shock absorbers of our bodies.


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FIVE SIMPLE STEPS TO BETTER HEALTH


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For many people, eating right and getting healthy seems like such an elusive task.  I’ve heard all the excuses:  it’s too difficult, nothing works for me, I don’t know which diet to follow… the list goes on.  But I’ll let you in on a little secret — getting healthy doesn’t have to be hard!  It simply requires a willingness to make some basic lifestyle changes that will set you up for success.

 

Here are my top five tips for getting, and staying, healthy:

 

  • Drink More Water. Yes, I know, this sounds too good to be true, but in fact, most of us are chronically dehydrated without even realizing it.  Drinking plenty of clean, preferably filtered, water daily is essential for the functioning of a healthy metabolism and the flushing of waste products and other toxins from our systems.  On average, our bodies are comprised of over 60 percent water.  We need to continually replace that water so we can effectively transport nutrients to our cells, regulate our body temperature, and keep our organs functioning properly.  Staying adequately hydrated also contributes to a feeling of fullness, which naturally results in us eating less.  How much water, you ask?  Recommendations vary, even among experts.  My customizable advice is to halve your body weight in pounds and drink that numerical result in ounces daily — no metric conversion needed.

 

  • Eliminate The Junk. When it comes to toxic substances in our food supply, one need look no further than the aisles of the supermarket.  All those colorful boxes and bags of pre-packaged foods and food-like products are among the most lethal substances out there for sabotaging our health.  Processed foods, sugary cereals, and snack foods are generally loaded with chemicals, preservatives, artificial dyes and flavorings, and refined carbohydrates devoid of nutritional value.  They also tend to be full of added sugar, sodium, and unhealthy saturated fats, all of which work to thwart our efforts at maintaining healthy weight and metabolic balance.  But forewarned is forearmed.  I’m here to tell you that probably the single most beneficial change you can make for your health is to “just say no” to processed food.

 

  • Eat More Vegetables. Yes, it’s true!  Adding a couple of vegetable servings to every meal is an incredibly powerful way to transform your health.  Just as most Americans are chronically dehydrated, so too are we undernourished.  But so many of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that our bodies need to be healthy are found right in our own back yards – or at least, at the local Farmer’s Market or produce section of our supermarkets.  Fruits and vegetables are among Nature’s most perfect foods, and our bodies are biologically programmed to thrive when we include a variety of colorful plant foods in our daily diet.  The phytonutrients they contain are essential for healthy immune function, blood sugar balance, heart and brain health, bone integrity, and warding off age-related degenerative diseases.  What’s more, when you fill up on veggies, you leave less room for the junk.  Please do yourself a favor and eat more vegetables.  Your body will thank you for it.

 

  • Build Strength. We all know that exercise is important, but with our busy lives, it’s not always easy to fit that in.  So, in the spirit of keeping things simple, my suggestion would be to focus on the most efficient way to achieve maximum benefit with minimal time investment:  strength training.  Believe it or not, just 20-30 minutes of slow motion, high intensity weight training once or twice a week is all you need to build lean muscle, which can reap tremendous benefits in terms of your metabolic health.  Not only does it rev your metabolism for more efficient calorie burning, but it also strengthens your bones, boosts your immunity, and elevates your mood.  Of course, adding a variety of other physical activities to your weekly lineup is helpful as well, to include some form of cardiovascular exercise as well as practices like yoga that improve balance and flexibility.  But if you must narrow it down to just one thing, I say go for the strength.

 

  • Sleep. If you’re looking to improve your overall health, one of the best things you can do is catch some zzzzz’s.  Sleep plays such a vital role in our physical health and wellbeing, yet more than one third of Americans is chronically sleep-deprived.  Sadly, in today’s fast-paced world, sleep has become a precious commodity.  It’s no wonder we’re seeing rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease skyrocket, since sleep deficiency increases the risk of all these health problems, and more.  Studies have shown that people who sleep less also produce increased amounts of the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin, meaning they usually end up eating more than they normally would during the day.  Making sleep a priority can truly be a game-changer then, for your health as well as your waistline.

 

If doing all these things at once seems daunting, try implementing just one change at a time and see how it goes.  Your body works hard for you every day.  Isn’t it time that you showed it some love?


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Stuffed Cabbage


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MEAL PREP: Stuffed Cabbage

My favorite cheat meal is a burrito. 90% of the time I follow the Paleo diet, and only eat meat, vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds. I don’t eat grain, beans, or dairy, and a burrito is all of those things wrapped up in another thing that I don’t eat. So it’s a perfect meal for when I want to deviate from my diet. I only do that once, maybe twice a week, so I can’t meal prep a burrito. I got to thinking that maybe the beauty of a burrito, everything I don’t eat inside of something I also don’t eat, could be recreated by cooking the opposite, everything I do eat wrapped up in another thing I do eat. Enter stuffed cabbage. I used a mix of meat, vegetables, and eggs, and I wrapped it up in a steamed cabbage leaf. I’m a genius.

 

Cabbage-Ingredients

 

Ingredients:

1 large cabbage
1 lb 93% lean turkey
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 medium zucchini, finely diced
1 head cauliflower, riced
1 Egg
2 cups tomato sauce (read the ingredients to your tomato sauce, they often have high fructose corn syrup. Please don’t eat high fructose corn syrup)

1) Fill a large pot with about an inch of water.  Place the whole cabbage in water. Cover and steam over low heat for 25-30 minutes.  I’ve heard that if you freeze your cabbage, then let it thaw before steaming, it’s far easier to remove the leaves.  I didn’t do this because I’d just bought my cabbage and needed to start cooking right away before it got too late.  I will tell you that removing the leaves without freezing was challenging.  So if you’re thinking of making this, grab your cabbage a day or so early and freeze it, then remove it from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator the morning before you cook.  Either that, or struggle through the leaving process like I did, just don’t curse my name if the leaves keep ripping on you.
2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
3) Saute the onion, zucchini, and cauliflower rice.  Let cool before handling.  Once cool, transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add turkey and crack egg into mixture.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Get your hands into it and really work the ingredients together.  Once fully mixed, wash your hands.
4) Carefully remove the cabbage from the steaming pot.  Don’t be like me, use a tool to remove it.  Tongs or a big spoon or something, the cabbage will be hot…..
5) Lay 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of a dutch oven or large pot.
6) carefully peel the leaves off of the cabbage one by one.
7) place 1/4 cup of meat mixture in a leaf and roll the leaf, starting with the stem, while tucking the sides in so that each roll is completely contained.  Place the roll, seam down into the pot with the tomato sauce.  Continue until you run out of meat mixture.  Pour remaining cup of tomato sauce over the roll.
Cabbage-before     Cabbage-Roll
8) Cover pot and transfer into preheated oven for 1 hour.

 

Cabbage-Pot

Makes approximately 12 rolls.
Nutrition: 1 cabbage roll, 120 calories, 7 grams fat, 11 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates

 

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One Skillet Cashew Chicken Stir-fry


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MEAL PREP: One Skillet Cashew Chicken Stir-fry

Wedding gifts keep pouring in and I recently received a beautiful Le Crueset cast iron pan in sexy-red (image to follow). With proper maintenance, a good cast iron pan is indestructible! This thing is a work of art, and I was really excited to use it.  So I went looking for a healthy one pan recipe to break it in with.

 

I came across an interesting recipe for chicken stir-fry with a peanut sauce.  I don’t eat peanuts (they aren’t actually nuts, peanuts are legumes, and legumes are against Paleo.  The more you know!), so I got to wondering what would happen if I replaced the peanut butter with almond butter.  Swapping coconut aminos for the soy turned the sauce into a light, creamy, healthy, and Paleo alternative to conventional peanut sauce.  This recipe was fantastic and it’s going to make it into my regular rotation.  Thanks for the pan Steve and Esther, so generous of you.

 

 

Ingredients:

2.5 lbs chicken breast
2 cups broccoli florets (I used frozen.  You shouldn’t look down on frozen vegetables, they’re flash frozen at peak freshness, and are often more nutrition than fresh vegetables.  Plus, I didn’t feel like dicing broccoli myself.  Who has time for all that?)
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1/3 carrot, julienned
1/3 cup raw cashews
1 cup sugar snap peas

1) A cast iron pan is fantastic, but it needs to be ‘seasoned’ by rubbing oil into it periodically.  I used avocado oil, but they say any oil will work.  It’s imperative that you render the pan bone dry after use and NEVER use soap on a cast iron pan!  To clean it use a paste of salt and water then dry it thoroughly.  I towel dried mine then threw it on the stove with the flame at medium for a while to make sure it was dry.  With regular maintenance, these things will last forever!
2) Melt 2 tablespoons cooking fat in pan.  I use coconut oil as my cooking fat.
3) Throw all vegetables and cashews into the pan and stir.
4) Cube chicken, seasoning with salt and pepper, then add to pan.  Add sauce, mix it all up and stir regularly until the chicken is cooked through.  Approximately 10 minutes.

 

Almond butter sauce:

4 tablespoons coconut aminos
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon fresh
3 tablespoons water

Cast Iron Pan 
 
Makes 8 servings (I had it as 6 servings because i’m a growing boy)
8 servings; 363 calories, 15 grams fat, 47 grams protein, 12 grams carbs
6 servings; 484 calories, 20 grams fat, 63 grams protein, 16 grams carbs

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Beef and Chicken and Broccoli


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MEAL PREP: Beef and Chicken and Broccoli

I like Chinese food as much as everyone else does, but when you get Chinese takeout it’s full of crappy oils, crappy ingredients, and leaves you feeling just like it, crappy.  Luckily, you can quickly whip up these flavors at home by swapping out their crappy ingredients with quality ones you already have at home(or can easily pick up) For this week’s meal prep I made a healthy spin on Beef and Broccoli (and added chicken because I’m a grown up and can do what I want!) with cauliflower rice.  You can buy cauliflower pre-riced, which saves time and cleanup.

Feel free to reach out to me if there are other cultural dishes that you’d like tips on how to prepare in a healthier way.  Nutrition is my favorite thing to talk about.  I’m a lot of fun at parties………

Beef Chicken and Broccoli

Ingredients:

1 pound grass fed skirt steak, cubed
1 pound organic chicken breast, cubed
24 oz broccoli florets
2 10 oz bags cauliflower rice (or 2 heads of cauliflower)
1 small yellow onion
2/3 cup coconut aminos (coconut aminos are a flavor enhancer that is interchangeable with soy sauce)
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons cooking fat of choice (I use refined coconut oil.  Refined means they strip it of the coconut flavor)

 

1) add oil to large pot over medium high heat
2) add broccoli, spices, and coconut aminos.  Cook until broccoli softens, around 5 minutes.
3) add cubed chicken and steak.  Cook stirring regularly until chicken is cooked through
4) in a separate pan make cauliflower rice.  To make cauliflower rice you can either run it over a cheese grater, which is labor and time intensive (and leaves a huge mess).  Or you can run it through a food processor.  Just make sure to chop it in brief pulses, if you over process the cauliflower, you’ll get a couscous consistency, which isn’t what you want for this dish.  Dice onion and cook in oil until tender.  Add cauliflower rice and cook on medium high for 5 minutes until tender.
5) divide meat and broccoli over cauliflower rice

 

Beef-Chicken-Broccoli-2

Nutrition: makes 6 servings
Calories, 369, Fat 14 grams, Protein 44 grams, Carbohydrate 13 grams

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Slow Cooker Chicken Sweet Potato Chili


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MEAL PREP: Slow Cooker Chicken Sweet Potato Chili

I’m getting married in October, and I’ve slowly begun to receive wedding gifts, one gift I just got is a truly beautiful slow cooker (Thank you Stewart and Eileen).  With all this great stuff arriving at our place, I think I’m starting to understand why people get married.  That and love of course (heart you Georgia, you’re the best xoxo).

This new slow cooker makes my old slow cooker look like a piece of crap, so I’m giving it to my future sister-in-law, use it in good health.  I really wanted to break in the new machine, so I made a chicken chili.  It was easy, healthy, delicious, and made the entire floor of my building smell wonderful no doubt making my neighbors happy with me, hopefully making up for the sea bass fiasco…………. Anyway, I digress

Chicken-Chili-Ingredients

Ingredients:

2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
3 medium sized sweet potatoes, skinned and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
4 oz can of green chilies
3 cloves garlic
2 cups of bone broth, I used beef Bad To The Bone Broth which is a high quality, small batch, broth made from only grass fed bones and sold exclusively at InForm Fitness (obligatory company plug)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. I like spicy, and between the green chilies, jalapeno, chili powder, and cayenne, this will be spicy. If you don’t like spicy be sure to seed and rib your jalapeno and skip the cayenne
1 tablespoon cilantro, diced
1 tablespoon ghee or grass fed butter
1/2 cup coconut cream
juice of 1/2 a lime

1) Lay chicken breasts in the slow cooker.  Cover them with every ingredient EXCEPT the ghee/butter, coconut cream, and lime juice.  Set slow cooker on HIGH for 3.5 hours, or LOW for 8 hours.

2) Watch TV, see a movie, go for a bike ride, take a nap, drive to Boston, do whatever you want to do for the next 3-8 hours.  That’s the beauty of slow cooker cooking.

3) After 3.5 (or 8 hours) move chicken and only chicken to a bowl.  Add the ghee/butter (this will thicken the sauce giving your pot a more chili and less soupy consistency) coconut cream (the solid white part of a chilled can of coconut milk), and lime.  Recover pot and set to HIGH for 20 minutes.

4) Pull the chicken breasts apart with two forks.

5) After the 20 minutes are up, return chicken to pot and stir so sauce is spread throughout.  Recover and cook on HIGH for 10 more minutes.

Chicken-slow-cooker

6) Garnish with avocado, jalapeno, and more cilantro.  If you’re among the 15% of the population with olfactory-receptor gene OR6A2, and cilantro tastes like soap to you, use parsley instead of cilantro for this and all recipes.  Also, I’m sorry, cilantro is delicious if you don’t have that gene 🙁

Chicken-Chili-Final

Nutrition: makes 6 servings
Without avocado; Calories 331; Fat, 12 grams; Protein, 37 grams, Carbohydrates, 18 grams
With 1/2 avocado garnish; Calories 492; Fat, 24 grams; Protein, 39 grams, Carbohydrates, 26 grams

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Women’s Health and Wellness Summit


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Wednesday, August 29, 2018  –  8am-5:30pm

Dulles Airport Marriott

The Women’s Health & Wellness Summit is coming to Loudoun County, Virginia on August 29, 2018. The Summit  is a one-day event bringing women together and providing them with tools and resources to help achieve better health through better living.

The Summit is a day dedicated to you. To nourish your mind, body and soul and to share awareness and exchange knowledge on Natural and Holistic Living, Mental Health and Well-being, Lifestyle and Fitness, Innovative health practices and Nutrition.  We are bringing together a dedicated community of women that are transforming and inspiring ethical and innovative health practices.

PURCHASE TICKETS

Our vision is to help women make better choices, every day.

Nicole Ann Gustavson

Nicole Ann Gustavson

InForm Fitness

Stop Wearing Your Wishbone Where Your Backbone Ought to Be

How do we define “physical fitness” and what is its relationship with our “lifestyle”? For this Breakout Session, we will be talking STRATEGY – how we as modern professional women prioritize our own fitness in the greatest juggling act of our lives, when we are also responsible for the wellbeing of others? How do you make time for you, when your time is so scarce, and everybody wants it?

Once we establish the goal of exercise, we can debate interactively what the most popular modalities are, whether they are efficient for the busy professional that’s already overbooked, and also how much is really needed. Moreover, what if any significant and long-lasting damage to the body are you signing up for, and how does that fit into your over-all long-term lifestyle plan.

My Presentation will offer a different perspective on exercise, one that must first satisfy three things:

  1. 1) Stimulate our body’s growth hormone mechanism (build muscle)
  2. 2) Prevent the physical improvements we seek (overtraining)
  3. 3) Produce injury (getting hurt)

And then, we have the million-dollar of why we should bother at all – to proactively combat the myriad problems associated with ageing, supercharge the metabolism and increase cardiovascular endurance. That’s WHY we should be striving for physical fitness.

Our lifestyles are what we shape for ourselves. Our physical fitness determines whether we reach our potential quality of life. Shape your own lifestyle, or it’ll shape you.

 

Kristin Spak

Kristin Spak

PureHealth Coaching, LLC / InForm Fitness Leesburg

It’s All Connected: The Things That Nourish Us

This presentation takes a holistic view of health, focusing on the things that nourish us, both on and off the plate. Emphasis will be placed on primary vs. secondary foods, and how other forms of nourishment aside from food (such as our relationships, career, physical activity and spiritual fulfillment) are fundamental to our well-being. The importance of eating clean, whole foods will also be discussed. Attendees can expect to come away with the knowledge that being healthy doesn’t have to be complicated; that simple changes with regard to the way we live our lives can make all the difference when it comes to improving our health; and that the body has an amazing capacity to heal if given the appropriate nourishment.

All attendees will receive a handout summarizing the key presentation points and lifestyle tips. Attendees will also receive a gift certificate for a FREE Body Composition Analysis and Health Assessment at InForm Fitness Leesburg, using our state-of-the-art “InBody” machine. The InBody test records a baseline profile of body composition and metabolic health, as well as measuring hydration levels and water distribution at a cellular level.


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Blackened Chicken Thighs and Bacon Sweet Potato Hash


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MEAL PREP: Blackened Chicken Thighs and Bacon Sweet Potato Hash

On days when I don’t have food prepared for work I often go to Whole Foods and make lunches from their hot food and salad bar.  They’ve recently been stocking blackened chicken thighs.  I like blackening stuff because it healthily adds deep flavor.  The issue with Whole Foods hot food bar is that they have such a heavy hand with the canola oil that you can actually taste it.

If you’re going to be heavy handed with your cooking fat, it shouldn’t be a cheap, processed oil like canola, at the very least it should be a quality fat like a good olive oil, grass fed butter, coconut oil (I know there’s some controversy over coconut oil being healthy right now, I’m still in the ‘it’s good for you camp’), or bacon fat.  Because cooking with bacon fat makes me happy, and makes my apartment smell delicious, I meal prepped blackened chicken thighs and a bacon sweet potato hash.  It came out very nicely and my place smells fantastic!

Blackened Chicken Thighs

8 Chicken Thighs (I used boneless skinless chicken thighs so that I could rub the spice directly onto the meat, rather than into the skin)

Blackening Spice is a Cajun mixture of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, black pepper, cayenne pepper, basil and oregano which is a quick and easy way to add a ton of flavor and kick to pretty much any dish.  I use it on chicken, steak, fish, I even sprinkle it on eggs.  So far the only thing I haven’t tried blackening is a protein shake.  I’m blackening my next protein shake!

    1. 1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    1. 2) Spread chicken thighs out on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper
    1. 3) Sprinkle generously with spice mix and rub into both sides of the chicken
    4) Cook chicken for 35 minutes

Bacon and Sweet Potato Hash

  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 12 oz Peter Luger’s Thick Cut Bacon (I used Peter Lugers because the thick cut dices better than a thin bacon, and also because I’m fancy)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
    1. 1) In a large skillet saute diced bacon over medium heat until crisp, approximately 7 minutes. Maybe wear an apron for this step.  I learned early on in my cooking self-education not to cook bacon shirtless…… Once crisp, remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set on a plate covered with paper towels and set aside.
    1. 2) Add diced sweet potatoes directly into rendered bacon fat and stir so they are coated.  Cover pan and let potatoes cook until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring a few times.  Remove potatoes into a large bowl.
    1. 3) Add diced peppers and onions to the skilled and saute until tender.
    4) Add peppers, onions, and bacon to the bowl with the potatoes and mix thoroughly.

More Blackened Chicken Thighs and Bacon Sweet Potato Hash

Nutrition: Makes 6 servings
Calories, 425; Fat, 23 grams; Protein, 41 grams; Carbohydrates, 12 grams
For a lower calorie option, this can be done just as easily with chicken breast

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“On the Banks” with Nicole Gustavson


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Can anyone tell their true, whole story in 500 words? Not me. But thanks to the River Creek Country Club’s “On the Banks” publication, I was afforded 500 words to share my passion for what I do professionally, the love I share with the people I work with and how unbelievably grateful I am for the life I lead….(still need more word count)! But, bottom line, I work just as hard as our Clients when in the InForm Studio – I put in my A-game for just 20 minutes once or twice a week. Unlike many though, I don’t enjoy it as much as some of them purport to. I simply love to hate it. Notwithstanding, will I ever stop? NO! Even absent the unparalleled time-efficiency and convenience of the 20-minutes, real results, and guarantees of safety – I am simply terrified to stop strength training, because I see firsthand what happens when you do!

We either use it, or we lose it…as we know all too well. And, if not the InForm way, I would never find the time otherwise. As I say again and again, our Protocol is not a big production, but it’s hard work! And just like brushing my teeth, I will do the InForm workout until the day I die, without looking for ways to keep it fresh, exciting, or any of that other nonsense. I save that effort for the fun stuff, outside the Studio! I strength train to stay strong, just as I brush my teeth to protect my overall health. Just the same, I show up to my InForm workout to get it done, protect my health and live life strong – physically, metabolically and mentally – so I can put my best foot forward into each and every day of my life. Without InForm, I don’t think I would be able to find the time to do that. Join the InForm Family – it’s about time!


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Get Stronger for Your Sport in Record Time



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In our latest Podcast, Adam Zickerman and Mike Rogers welcome Laura Crump Anderson, InForm’s Equestrian Fitness Specialist, to discuss the importance of being your strongest and fittest for your athletic sport. Whatever your sport may be, all athletes need to train smart if they want to stay in the game!

Specific to this Podcast, however, Laura’s shameless obsession is clear – the Equestrian Athlete. Laura unwaveringly asserts that your horse is not the only athlete and excellence takes two to Tango. If you are an Equestrian, your horse depends on you being in your best physical shape, period. Regretfully, many overlook this critical fact. If you consider yourself, and not just the horse, to be the competitive athletes you both truly are, the hard message is this: Equestrians need to build muscle to their optimal capacity! Most obviously, muscle protects the Rider’s body from the beating the sport takes on themselves, but equally because a stronger Rider serves the HORSE exponentially! Ironically, the Equestrian will fully appreciate the distinction – if not for yourself, strive to be your strongest if only for the horses you LOVE! Equestrians are so admirably dedicated to their horses, but often at the expense of themselves in a multitude of ways. Every Rider, from Coast to Coast, possesses a sincere love for their horses. In Virginia – give Laura 20 twenty minutes just once a week and she will give you AND your horse the essential competitive edge you seek, not to mention a better life with less injury.

No one serves the (human) athlete better than we do at InForm Fitness. Obsessions aside, whatever your athletic sport may be, InForm Fitness can custom design a program for anyone looking to take their athletic edge to the next level, whether that be from your sedentary desk job to being in the best shape of your life, OR for the elite athlete inside you screaming to get out!

Adam Zickerman – Power of 10: The Once-A-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution: http://bit.ly/ThePowerofTen For a FREE 20-Minute strength training full-body workout and to find an Inform Fitness location nearest you, please visit: http://bit.ly/Podcast_FreeWorkout

Adam Zickerman – Power of 10: The Once-A-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution: http://bit.ly/ThePowerofTen

For a FREE 20-Minute strength training full-body workout and to find an Inform Fitness location nearest you, please visit: http://bit.ly/Podcast_FreeWorkout

 

 

 

Season It Up!


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Ahh, Summer.  After such a long, cold winter, I’m sure that many of us are now happily enjoying warmer temperatures, longer days, flowers in bloom, and of course, seasonal produce.  For me, there is nothing quite like the taste of the season’s first tender asparagus and leafy greens, or the sweet berries, melons, and peaches that appear at the Farmer’s Market soon thereafter.  The flavors and freshness of the fruits and vegetables that are locally grown and in season are unlike anything else that we find in our supermarkets all year round.

When we eat with the seasons, we are making a choice that reaps multiple benefits:

First, to our Health:  Fruits and vegetables that are picked at the peak of freshness and are locally grown not only taste better, but they have higher nutritional value than produce that is shipped to us from across the country or from other parts of the world.  The concentration of antioxidants is higher, the vitamin and mineral content is more potent, and our bodies seem to assimilate them better.  Eating the variety of foods that are available each season also affords us the opportunity to diversify our diets and experiment with produce that we might not otherwise try.  And diversity in our diets adds significant health benefits.  According to Rachel Meltzer Warren, MS, one study that looked at the health benefits accruing to women who routinely ate a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables from 18 different plant families showed that they had “significantly less damage to their genetic material than women who limited themselves to five plant families.” Variety, therefore, does more than just make food more interesting.  It actually protects our health.

Second, to the Local Farmer:  When you buy seasonal, locally grown foods, you are helping to support the regional farmers who depend on these crops for their livelihoods.  In so doing, you are helping to keep your farmers in business while boosting your local economy.  Locally grown foods also tend to be less expensive than the foods you purchase elsewhere, so they are often a more economical choice.  And if you choose to take the extra step and buy organic, you are helping to support that important agricultural sector as well.  It’s important to remember that as consumers, we have the power to “vote with our wallets” to support healthier farming trends.  Supporting the organic farming community is money well spent in terms of the quality and purity of the food available to us.  Last, but not least, I would argue that getting to know your local farmers helps better connect you with the food on your plates by recognizing who grew it for you and appreciating what they have provided.

Third, to the Environment:  There are many environmental benefits that come from eating seasonal and local.  Most obvious is that we reduce the number of miles that our food must travel before it reaches our plates, thereby reducing the fossil fuel expenditures and attendant greenhouse gas emissions involved in its transport.  But locally grown organic foods have other environmental benefits as well, most notably avoiding the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides that can leach into our soil and poison our ground water. Buying local also helps promote our soil sustainability, since farmers must regularly rotate their crops to improve soil fertility and crop yields, which naturally enriches the soil and amplifies the nutrient density of the foods that they grow.  And since most conventionally grown foods produced on industrial farms come from depleted soil, this is a huge plus, both for our health and for the planet.

So, what’s in season, and when?  Here is a general guide for the Mid-Atlantic:

Season It Up - 2

  • Winter: From December – February, look for apples, carrots, cauliflower, celery root, chard, chicory, collard greens, herbs, kale, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, spinach, sweet potatoes, turnips, and winter squash.
  • Spring: From March – May, look for apples, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, chard, cherries, collard greens, fennel, garlic, herbs, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, nettles, onions, radishes, scallions, spinach, strawberries, sweet potatoes, and turnips.
  • Summer: From June – August, look for apples, arugula, beets, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, beans, cabbage, carrots, chard, cherries, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, grapes, herbs, kale, leeks, lettuce, melons, mushrooms, nectarines, onions, peaches, peas, peppers, potatoes, radishes, raspberries, scallions, shallots, spinach, strawberries, summer squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
  • Fall: From September – November, look for apples, arugula, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chicory, collard greens, cucumbers, escarole, fennel, grapes, green beans, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, nectarines, okra, onions, parsnips, peaches, pears, potatoes, pumpkins, radicchio, radishes, raspberries, scallions, shallots, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, winter squash, and zucchini.

Remember, it’s in season for a reason.  Here’s to your health!


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Meal Prep: Mexican Meatloaf


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I meal prepped a Mexican meatloaf this week.  I added a ton of vegetables to it so that it would be more nutritious.  If you are concerned with the higher calorie count in this than in my other recipes, you can switch out the pork churizo with one made with chicken or turkey, or even sub it out for a fatty ground beef.  If using ground beef, just do 1.5x each spice to give it more kick.  I served my loaf over pureed cauliflower, I’ll include nutritional info skipping that ingredient.

Mexican Meatloaf

Dans Mexican Meatloaf-1

Ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey

1 lb churizo sausage (nutritional info reflects pork sausage)

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 bag spinach, steamed (let this cool before handling it!!)

1 70z can for diced green chilies

1/2 cup almond flour (my loaf lost it’s shape a bit while cutting, you may want to consider a full cup here)

1 egg

1/2 Tbsp garlic powder

1/2 Tbsp onion powder

1/2 Tbsp paprika

1 Tsp chili powder

2 cups salsa

1 head cauliflower

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Steam or saute spinach, you just want it to wilt.  Let it cool off before you handle it.   I don’t want you trying to blame me if you burn your hands on this! While not burning your hands, grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with coconut oil.

2) In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients (other than the cauliflower, garlic cloves, and olive oil).  When mixing the ingredients, nothing works better than those meaty hooks at the end of your wrists.  Get in there and mush everything together until fully incorporated.

3) Firmly press the mixture into the loaf pan.

4) Wash your hands.  You should be washing your hands constantly when cooking.  Probably a good policy for life in general. Actually, go wash your hands now, who knows what you’ve been touching.

5) Spread 1 cup of salsa over the top of the mixture.  Place the loaf pan onto a baking sheet to catch the grease in case it spills out of the pan. Put in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

6) Chop cauliflower and steam over high heat for 10-15 minutes.  Add to a food processor along with the garlic cloves, olive oil, and a pinch of salt.  Puree until smooth.

7) Divide cauliflower into 6 servings and top with sliced meatloaf.  Spoon another 1 cup of salsa over meatloaf.

Dans Mexican Meatloaf-3

Makes 6 Servings

No Cauliflower nutrition: 538 calories, 30 grams fat, 33 grams protein, 16 grams carbohydrates

With Cauliflower nutrition: 591 calories, 32 grams fat, 35 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrates

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Horsing Around: The Reclined Half Pass For Your Obliques


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Laura Crump Anderson is an Equestrian Fitness Specialist at InForm Fitness Leesburg. She is certified as a personal trainer by the American College of Sports Medicine and specializes in working with riders of all ages and disciplines. Read more of her EN fitness columns here.

The reclined half pass for the obliques is an abdominal crunch that involves the muscles of the rider’s sides. Obliques are the muscles that one must engage to hold themselves upright in the saddle, so the rider sits centered and is not collapsing to the left or the right side.

It is simple-but simple does not mean easy.

      1. 1) Lie on your back with feet on the floor, and arms raised up with your fingertips touching the side of your head. *Do not apply any pressure or pull on your head with your hands.

     

    1. Reclined Half Pass Step 1
    2. Fiona Coulter, the assistant trainer at Sara Spofford Dressage in Waterford, VA. Photo courtesy Laura Crump Anderson
      1. 2) Bring your knees over to one side, stacked one on top of the other.

     

    1. Reclined Half Pass Step 2
    2. Photo courtesy Laura Crump Anderson.
      1. 3) Start the abdominal contraction motion by sitting up and engaging through your side obliques, bringing your right elbow up toward your right knee. Try and keep your legs down. But as ever, do not let perfect get in the way of good enough. The point is to engage your oblique side muscles.

     

    1. Reclined Half Pass Step 3
    2. Photo courtesy Laura Crump Anderson.
    1. 4) The range of motion and movement should be short, so shoot for five seconds. At the top of the repetition, maintain the abdominal contraction for a two-second squeeze, and then in a controlled and slow manner, un-squeeze, and take another five seconds to lower yourself back down. The intensity will build, but never let yourself rest or disengage your core at bottom of the rep.
      1. 5) Time yourself and continue to do this exercise until the muscular fatigue literally brings you to temporary muscle failure. That’s the GOAL! Once achieved, switch to the other side.

     

    1. Reclined Half Pass Step 5
    2. Obliques are the muscles that one must engage to hold themselves upright in the saddle, so the rider sits centered and is not collapsing to the left or the right side. Photo courtesy Laura Crump Anderson.

Your obliques work together, so best to start on your weaker side first. When you switch to your stronger side, you already have pre-exhausted one side of the body, and the final GOAL is closer in sight. Whichever direction you start, if you are doing the exercise correctly, the second side, irrespective of its dominance in strength, should feel more challenging.

Interested in additional core strengthening exercises? Check out The Plank The One Exercise For Every Eventer and  The Wheelbarrow: Two is Better Than One.


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Feed Your Gut

FEED YOUR GUT

We’ve heard a lot about gut health lately, and with good reason. Good gut health translates to a strong immune system, a balanced metabolism, the effective breakdown and assimilation of our food, and, according to recent studies, good brain health as well. But good gut health is wholly dependent on the maintenance of a strong and healthy microbiome, that colony of “good” or friendly bacteria that lives in our gastrointestinal tract, comprising some 300-500 different bacterial species. Keeping that population healthy and viable is the key to making it all work. And in this world of highly processed food, refined carbohydrates, heavy antibiotic use, and environmental toxins, keeping our microbiomes healthy is no easy feat. Now, I know what you’re thinking — you’ve heard all this before and you know what to do. Just make sure to stock up on yogurt, pop a daily probiotic supplement, and you’re good to go, right? Well, not so fast…

It’s true that we need to consume a regular supply of probiotic and fermented foods to keep our gut microbiome well populated with friendly bacteria, especially since our lifestyle and eating habits often work to their detriment. Eating a variety of probiotic-rich foods daily should therefore be part of a healthy diet. Good examples of such foods include: yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, raw pickles, and raw vinegars. And just for good measure, taking a high quality probiotic supplement is often recommended as well. But we need to continually nourish that good gut bacteria if they are to survive and thrive. Just as with any living organism, our good bacteria will die off if they are not properly fed. That is where prebiotics come in.

PREBIOTICS

Prebiotics are a category of foods that actually feed our good gut bacteria. They are non-digestible, high fiber compounds that are found in certain fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant-based sources. These prebiotic starches, while non-digestible to humans, are highly digestible to our beneficial bacteria, and are essential to maintaining their health. An added plus is that they are resistant to our gastric acid, which allows them to pass through to the intestinal tract intact, where they are then fermented and readily consumed by our hungry microbial population.

The regular consumption of prebiotic foods is important for us all, but particularly so for individuals who suffer from conditions of the digestive tract, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, colitis, and Crohn’s disease. But studies have shown that prebiotics offer other health benefits as well. They help to reduce our risk for cardiovascular disease and Type II diabetes by lowering cholesterol levels and regulating our blood sugar; they promote satiety, thereby keeping our weight at a healthy level; and they help to prevent certain types of cancers, most notably colon cancer. They are a fundamental component of a healthy diet.

WHAT FOODS ARE CONSIDERED PREBIOTIC?

Prebiotic-rich foods include:

  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chicory Root
  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes)
  • Soybeans
  • Legumes
  • Eggplant
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Burdock Root
  • Jicama
  • Chinese Chives
  • Wheat Bran
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Bananas
  • Honey

SO, HOW MUCH SHOULD I EAT?

It is recommended that we consume at least 5 grams of prebiotic fiber a day to maintain optimal gut health.  Much of that should be in raw form, to the extent possible, since cooking any fruit or vegetable acts to break down its fibers.  But a combination of raw salads and lightly sautéed or steamed prebiotic vegetables should be more than adequate to meet our daily needs.

In terms of “bang for the buck”, chicory root delivers the highest percentage of prebiotic fiber by weight, at nearly 65 percent, while bananas deliver the lowest, with only 1 percent of fiber by weight.  The rest of the foods listed above fall somewhere in between those ranges.  It doesn’t take much to reach the desired 5-gram goal, but as with any dietary regime, variety is the spice of life.  Experiment with including a wide assortment of prebiotic foods in your daily recipes, and you should be well covered.

So, the next time you’re at the Farmer’s Market, be sure to pick up some leeks, asparagus, garlic, and onions, thinking of the prebiotic benefits that will ensue!  And while you’re at it, you just might want to throw in some dandelion greens as well.  Your gut will thank you for it.

Back to Basics


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BACK TO BASICS

We are what we eat, right?  We’ve all heard the saying, but the statement is true.  Just think about it.  Everything that we ingest gets absorbed into our bloodstream and serves as the basis for nourishing our cells, building our tissues, boosting our immune system, and maintaining a healthy metabolism.  So, it just stands to reason that our food choices can make all the difference when it comes to defining our health.  But, unfortunately, making healthy choices has become an increasingly difficult task in today’s world.  It seems we are assaulted on all sides by the temptation and convenience of highly processed foods that are largely devoid of nutritional value and saturated with unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, and a chemical cocktail of artificial dyes, flavors, and preservatives.  In truth, the Standard American Diet (aptly known by its acronym “SAD”) is slowly, but surely, killing us.  In the last 30 years, obesity rates in the United States have skyrocketed.  Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases are also on the rise, as are neurodegenerative diseases and mood disorders.  And much of this can be blamed on our diet.

The multi-million-dollar diet industry certainly capitalizes on this national dysfunction.  As more Americans have become obese and disease-ridden, quick-fix diets and self-help books have become all the rage.  So many of us are looking for that “silver bullet” panacea that we hope will resolve all our problems.  But there are so many conflicting options to choose from.  Do we eat low-carb, low-fat, paleo, ketogenic, do a juice cleanse, or follow some other program of pharmaceutical or herbal intervention?  It’s enough to make your head spin.  It’s true that some of these programs do work for certain individuals, but most often, people try something out for a short period of time, but then resort back to their old eating habits.  And in the process, they often regain whatever weight they might have lost, returning to an unhealthy physical state.

SO, WHAT CAN WE DO?

It’s quite simple — we get back to the basics.  Author and food expert Michael Pollan probably stated it best when he advised us to, “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  What this means is that we need to get back to eating whole foods that look and taste the way nature intended.  Or as Pollan puts it, only eat foods your great-grandmother would recognize.  That’s it.  Our fruits and vegetables should come fresh from the farm, orchard, or garden.  Our food animals should be raised without stress and unreasonable confinement, and they should be fed natural diets without added antibiotics, chemicals, or hormones.  Similarly, our grains and legumes should be unrefined, and not subjected to genetic alteration and toxic applications of pesticides and herbicides.  If we follow these simple guidelines, chances are that our bodies will soon heal themselves, our weight will naturally regulate, and our systems will return to a healthy condition of homeostasis.

SOME BASIC GUIDELINES

Here are some general suggestions for optimizing our diet and health:

  • Eat a variety of produce in its natural form, direct from the farm or garden.
  • Choose foods that are organic and locally grown, whenever possible.
  • Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s).
  • Eliminate refined sugar and flours, as well as excess sodium.
  • Eat grass-fed, pasture-raised meats, but keep meat consumption to a minimum.
  • Eat fish that are wild caught, opting for smaller varieties that are less susceptible to mercury contamination.
  • Include modest amounts of healthy, plant-based fats in your diet, such as those derived from nuts, olives, and avocados.
  • Avoid processed foods.
  • Cook your own food and experiment in the kitchen. It’s a wonderfully creative activity, and you’ll have the added benefit of knowing what’s in your food.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep your body well hydrated.

This is not to say that you can’t partake in a favorite food indulgence from time to time.  In fact, I would encourage that.  Occasional treats are part of what makes life enjoyable and keeps you from feeling deprived.  But I prefer to follow the “90/10 Rule”, striving to eat clean and healthy 90 percent of the time, with 10 percent left to delicious discretion.  No guilt, and no obsession.  It’s all about moderation.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates famously said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.  He believed that correcting imbalances or dis-ease in the body could primarily be accomplished through diet.  In truth, I believe that Hippocrates had it right.  Achieving good health is not rocket science.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  It’s about getting back to the basics and tuning in to what our bodies have been telling us all along.  Let’s return to some ancient wisdom.  Let’s get back to our roots — quite literally.  We will all be healthier for it.

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Revise Resolutions Into Goals


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Crowding Out in 2018

We’ve all made those grandiose New Year’s promises, even knowing their fateful doom from the outset. Notwithstanding, most of us start the year off with genuine sincerity and an intent for better bodies, minds, and careers in the year ahead. How then do we so quickly lose motivation to maintain our “resolutions” and then settle back into old routines?

We know the pattern well: gym crowds surge in January, only to start waning thin again mid-February. Whatever the resolution be, either the sense of urgency goes away or its magnitude overwhelms, and the behavioral change we once sought gets shelved either indefinitely, or until next January. The Winter Season is especially tough, when many of us struggle most to maintain any resolve, no less get out of bed.

Our strides for personal progress succeed when we make ourselves the priority, period. Even still, no real success is gained on sheer optimism alone. A common pitfall is that we have too restrictive a focus on what we can’t have, can no longer do, or want to exclude, rather than what we can have more of, want to do and want to attract more of into our lives.

Let’s examine one of the most-common New Year’s resolutions – to lose weight. In this effort, most everyone has a long list of foods in their heads of what they are not allowed to eat. What if instead, we focused on just a list of beneficial foods to incorporate into our diets? ‘Crowding out,’ a term coined by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, refers to the natural process that happens when you add more of the good stuff in first: the more healthy foods you add to your existing diet, the less room you’ll have for junk. Literally, we can crowd out the bad by just focusing on what we want more of, until we reach a balanced diet that is sustainable. This strategy need not only apply to what we eat.

Take this one step further and examine the life-giving foods that are not on our plates, such as healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career and a spiritual practice. Ask whether these ‘foods’ are in enough abundance to fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life. Again, when we feel satiated and in balance, we supplement less, and what no longer serves us will lose ground.

It’s not too late to revise our 2018 ‘resolutions’ into personal goals to ‘crowd out’ the unwanted with more of the wanted. Rather than lofty resolutions, set goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely. Most importantly, as you progress towards your goals, continuallyR re-evaluate them for relevance, make adjustments when necessary, and recognize and reward the smaller successes along the way.

Ultimately, the question we need ask ourselves is whether our personal goals truly inspire us, or whether they are items best kept for a ‘to-do’ list. Long-term success of any goal depends on the formation of positive and sustainable habits that bring enjoyment and enrichment into our lives. Another key determinant of our success is how do we react when we slip up? Whatever the misstep, what matters most is how we handle it. Don’t let your own humanity derail you – accept the hiccup and get right back on track.

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