Preventing the “Holiday Hangover”

Hi everyone!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, ushering in the holiday party season! We know how hard it can be during the holidays to stay on track with a healthy food and exercise plan. When the splurging on treats, big meals and drinking goes a little bit too far it’s all to easy to run into what we call the “holiday hangover.” It can creep up quickly, even after the first few festivities.  You know, the “I’m waking up thinking about sugar” habit starts, the headaches, increased appetite, more frequent colds/sickness from a depressed immune system, and yes…the potential dreaded holiday weight gain.

But! We come bearing good news! Practical Nutrition chatted with Scot and Kara from Channel 3’s Better Connecticut to discuss some simple ways to avoid the hangover (and still enjoy the holidays!). Watch the video below to make this a happy and healthy holiday season!

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Click here to download the recipes and key points featured in the video! 

Click here if you’re interested in joining us for a “Healthy for the Holidays” 10 day cleanse!

As always, stay well, eat well and have a beautiful week!

Ana and Amanda

Fast and Filling Fall Snacks!

Hi everyone!

Happy September! Fall is closing in on us quickly…along with the beautiful foliage and harvest foods comes a busier schedule. For most people, running kids around to sports, rushing through meals, and having less time to meal prep on the weekends means their food choices become less healthy. Fortunately, we came up with some easy, tasty, and healthy snacks for the fall. It’s important to make sure you snacks include protein (whey protein powder or eggs), fiber (fruits/vegetables), and healthy fat (avocado or coconut oil) to make sure your blood sugar is nice and steady. By eating a combination of the right nutrients every 3-4 hours, you’ll experience increased energy levels, less sugar cravings, and a better overall mood. Most importantly, you prevent “hanger” (anger brought on by hunger) and keep everyone around you happier as well!

Check out this quick video of some easy snack ideas and have a wonderful start to the new season! Click here for a copy of the recipes featured in the video.

Have a great week!

Ana and Amanda

WFSB 3 Connecticut

PN News Segment on Better Connecticut: Healthy Summer Condiments

Hello everyone!

It’s finally summer and the weather is beautiful! This means a lot of fun weekends spent outdoors and a lot of cookouts! If you have been eating the Practical Nutrition way throughout the year, focusing on eating foods in their most natural form in a balanced state throughout the day, then you may feel that common summer condiments cannot be included in your daily diet. This is true for many of the common brands found at the grocery store that contain inflammatory ingredients such as vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup, however, you can look out for good ingredients and even make your own at home with 5 ingredients or less! Ana and I discussed healthy summer condiments on Better Connecticut. Watch the 5 minute segment to learn more about what ingredients to avoid and healthy alternatives you can make yourself at home. And don’t forget to scroll down for 3 marinade/dressing recipes with 3-5 ingredients each!

WFSB 3 Connecticut

 

Take Away Points Video:

  • When reading a nutrition label for condiments, dressings, and marinades avoid the following: vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar/cane sugar, artificial colors/flavors/additives. These ingredients all contribute to inflammation, sugar cravings, weight gain, headaches, and fatigue.
  • When trying to find a healthy option for condiments/dressings/marinades look for the following beneficial ingredients: olive oil, walnut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, organic honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, lemon juice, balsamic/apple cider vinegar, and herbs.

 

Maple Pepper Marinade
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Marinade
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • ¼ cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add your favorite protein: chicken, fish, or beef. This recipe has been tested on all types of chicken, fish and beef and everything tastes great! Get creative and add more ingredients if you want or keep it simple and use this easy marinade to flavor your meals all summer long!

 
Homemade Creamy Ranch Dressing
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dressing
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1½ Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Dill
  • 1 Tbsp Apple Cider or White Vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend for 30 seconds.
  2. Store in glass air tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week .

 
Homemade Balsamic Dressing
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • ½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbsp Italian Seasonings
  • sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend for 30-60 seconds until mixture has emulsified.
  2. Store in a glass, air tight container on the counter or in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 

Springtime Super Food (and yummy spring rolls!)

Happy Spring everyone!

For those of you reading this from the East coast, I hope you all have gotten a few moments of solar therapy this past week after a long winter! Seeing the sun shine makes me want to be more active, and it also gets me craving fresher, creative new foods. That’s why I decided to demonstrate how to make Superfood Spring Rolls on Better CT yesterday.

The foods I chose as this year’s “Spring Super Foods” offer your body a broad spectrum of health benefits. To name a few, they are full of nutrients that boost your immune system, help to ward off seasonal allergies, detoxify your body after a long winter, and help slim the waist line to help you get ready for summer! Watch the video below to learn how to incorporate these superfoods into your everyday life by making a simple and tasty Superfood Spring Roll!

  • Citrus: Grapefruits, lemons, or oranges any time of day! Enjoy lemon in your water, grapefruit as a side to your breakfast, or a juice orange for a dessert on a warm day. 
  • Quinoa: Use for cold or hot side dishes, on a salad, or in a Spring Roll!
  • Dandelion Greens: Throw these peppery greens into a salad, in a soup, or in a lunch wrap for an added zing to your meal!
  • Raw Local Honey/Local Bee Pollen: Put in tea, yogurt, smoothies, or enjoy a spoonful raw!
  • Walnut Oil: Use for cold foods only (not for cooking); enjoy its nutty flavor in a dressing or on top of a favorite grain dish such as brown rice or quinoa
  • Asparagus: Grilled, sautéed in a stir-fry, or put in a Spring Roll, asparagus are a hearty spring vegetable full of nutrition that will keep you feeling full for hours!

 

Springtime Superfood Spring Rolls
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • The Rolls:
  • 6 large rice wrappers (found in international section at grocery store)
  • ½ Cup (cooked) quinoa (any variety)
  • 6 grilled asparagus (grilled or roasted with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper)
  • 1 handful of dandelion greens, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 handful of mixed, Asian, or other type of greens (for "base" of spring roll)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped into small pieces
  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves
  • 4 TBLS fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 2 TBLS walnut oil
  • 4 TSP local honey
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of red chili flakes
  • Grilled chicken or shrimp (optional addition for extra protein)
  • Sweet Chili Sauce
  • ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 TBLS Braggs liquid aminos or Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • 2 TBLS water
  • 2 TBLS honey
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Juice of ½ orange
Instructions
  1. The Rolls:
  2. Combine the quinoa, carrots, and dandelion greens into a small bowl. In a separate bowl combine the walnut oil, orange juice, chili flakes, sea salt, and honey into a dressing. Whisk briefly and pour over the quinoa salad, tossing gently. Take a spring roll and gently submerge in a shallow bowl of water for 8-10 seconds. Place on a non-stick surface (parchment paper or cutting board) and line with a thin layer of mixed greens, 1 asparagus, and a thin line of the quinoa salad. Gently fold the top half in, followed by the sides, and gently roll until mixture is tight within the spring roll. Cut in half and serve with the sweet chili sauce as a side dip.
  3. Sweet Chili Sauce:
  4. Combine all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Serve as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, or use as a marinade for grilled chicken or shrimp.
Notes
PN RX (may vary depending on ingredients)
For 3 rolls (with ingredients indicated in recipe above): 2 free veggies, 1 carb, 1 fat

 

As always, stay well, eat well, and have a beautiful week!

Ana

Detox Your Kitchen!

It’s that time of year- the holidays are sadly over and most of us are ready to step up our game in the fitness and nutrition department!  It can be tempting to follow a trendy plan that leads to a quick result. I understand completely the desire to see that quick weight loss, fast muscle building, renewed energy, etc. But if you were really honest with yourself, you would probably agree with me that most of these trends aren’t maintainable. I think the best place to start your journey to better health, increased energy, stable blood sugar, healthy blood lipid levels, weight loss, etc. is right where you (hopefully) do most of your eating- in your very own kitchen! Watch the clip below to learn how to “detox your kitchen” of food offenders preventing us from reaching our goals. Start with this simple task and add in more steps with your diet plan when you are ready.

BETTER HEALTH FOR 2014: DETOX YOUR KITCHEN RECIPES

WHISK THE INGREDIENTS IN EACH OF THESE RECIPES TOGETHER FOR A HEALTHFUL DRESSING FOR SALADS OR AS A MARINADE FOR PROTEIN (FISH, CHICKEN, TURKEY, ETC). STORE IN A GLASS CONTAINER IN THE FRIDGE OR UP TO 3 WEEKS.

PRACTICAL NUTRITION APPROVED “DO IT YOURSELF” SALAD DRESSINGS

“CLEANSING” LEMON PARSLEY VINAIGRETTE

  • 2 TBLS CHOPPED FRESH PARSLEY
  • 1 TBLS CHOPPED FRESH GARLIC
  • ¼ CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
  • ¾ CUP ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
  • 2 TBLS FRESH LEMON JUICE
  • PINCH OF SEAL SALT (OPTIONAL)

ROSEMARY GARLIC VINAIGRETTE

  • 2 TBLS CHOPPED FRESH ROSEMARY
  • 1 TBLS CHOPPED FRESH GARLIC
  • ¼ CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
  • ¾ CUP ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
  • PINCH OF SEAL SALT (OPTIONAL)

HONEY MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

  • 2 TBLS ORGANIC DIJON MUSTARD
  • 2 TSP PURE HONEY (ORGANIC AND RAW IF POSSIBLE)
  • ¼ CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
  • ¾ CUP ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
  • PINCH OF SEAL SALT (OPTIONAL)

PRACTICAL NUTRITION APPROVED SWEET TREATS

PURCHASE A CONTAINER OF WHOLE PITTED DATES. DIP THEM INTO A SMALL AMOUNT OF REAL MAPLE SYRUP AND ROLL THEM INTO VARIOUS COMBINATIONS OF THE FOLLOWING NUTRITIOUS AND NATURALLY SWEET DIPS:
• UNSWEETENED, ORGANIC COCONUT FLAKES
• ALMOND BUTTER
• ORGANIC PEANUT BUTTER/”PB2 POWDER”
• UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER MIXED WITH A PINCH OF STEVIA
• CHOPPED PECANS OR WALNUTS

Springtime Salad & Fruit Spritzer will help you slim down for summer.

Spring has sprung! Are you ready for entertaining and for that warm weather wear? Here are two healthy items to help you get ready for outdoor fun without giving up the great flavors.

 

Spring Detox Salad – Serves 4

Ingredients:

· 1 bunch kale (red or green)

· 1 whole beet; peeled and sliced into thin slivers

· 2 whole carrots; peeled and thinly grated

· Juice of ½ grapefruit

· ½ lemon’s juice

· 1″ cube of fresh ginger; finely diced

· Pinch of turmeric, sea salt, and black pepper

· Red, green, and yellow bell peppers; diced into cubes

· ¼ cup Brazil Nuts (optional)

· ¼ cup pumpkin seeds

· ¼ cup olive oil

Directions:
Squeeze grapefruit’s juice into a medium sized bowl and whisk together with the ginger and turmeric. Combine with the carrots and beets and set aside to allow for marinating. In a another bowl, separate the kale from its spine and gently massage with lemon juice and 2 TBLS. of olive oil for about 5 minutes or until the leaves are notably more tender and smaller in size. Take the carrots and beets out of the grapefruit juice marinade and toss with kale. Add bell peppers. To make the dressing, add about ¼ cup olive oil to grapefruit marinade and whisk well; add a pinch of sea salt and pepper and continue to whisk until well combined (traditional vinegar to oil proportions are about 1 part oil:3 parts vinegar; adjust oil and salt/pepper additions to your liking). Pour dressing over the kale salad and gently combine until all ingredients are well coated. Toss in the Brazil nut slivers and pumpkin seeds, and serve immediately or keep refrigerated for later use. Enjoy as a healthy snack, side dish, or add some protein (chicken, salmon, hard boiled eggs, etc.) as a main entrée.

 

Spring Detox Spritzer – Serves 2

Ingredients:
· 12 ounces plain seltzer

· 20 frozen blueberries

· 10 mandarin orange slices

· Lemon and/or lime pieces, cut small

· 2 lemon wedges

· 8-10 drops of Stevia “Sweet Drops” (natural sweetener)

Directions:
Place fruit at bottom of a glass. Pour seltzer water over fruit mixture and squeeze lemon wedge into glass. Drop 4-5 Sweet Drops into the glass and stir gently. Garnish with lemon wedge and enjoy!

Healthy Foods Your Kids Won’t Refuse

Getting kids to eat healthier is about as difficult a task as a parent can have. Call a truce on the never-ending battle between what your child wants and what is best for them to eat. Ana’s simple principals and tips can help.



Ana’s Practical Tips for Healthy Foods Your Kids Won’t Refuse.

1. Focus on including Nutrient Dense Food- this will keep them full without excessive cravings for sugar.

-Protein (3-4 servings per day)
-Fiber
-Fats (3-5 per day)
-Fruits (2-3 per day)
-Vegetables (3+ per day)

2. Instead of focusing on replacing their junk food, try to identify the taste experience they are looking for with a better option

 

Metabolic Syndrome – How to prevent it or reverse it with smart food choices.

Is your diet putting you at risk for Metabolic Syndrome? Your can prevent or reverse this condition before it becomes a major health problem.

 

1. What is Metabolic Syndrome?

(AKA Insulin Resistance Syndrome, Syndrome X, Dysmetabolic Syndrome)

A combination of lifestyle factors (excess carbs/sugar, diet choices, inactivity, stress) and genetics cause the body to use Insulin less efficiently, leaving our cells constantly starving and craving more sugar. The effect of the body not producing and/or using insulin efficiently is a collection of risk factors (high blood pressure, central obesity, high cholesterol, etc) termed “Metabolic Syndrome”, which leaves one with increased risk of developing a heart attack or stroke, or developing Diabetes

Metabolic Syndrome (reversible) Insulin Resistance Diabetes (irreversible; no more Insulin)

WHY?? Inactivity, excess carbohydrates/sugar, lack of nutrient dense food!!!

2. Who is at risk (meet 3/5 of the following criteria)?

1 in 5 Americans; central obesity (waistline: women, >35 inches, men >40 inches); high triglycerides (>150), high blood sugar (>100 fasting), high blood pressure, low HDL

3. What to do?

The number one way to reverse Metabolic Syndrome is to lose excess weight:
Eat More Of: Healthy Fat (avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, fish oil), Green Leafy Veggies (kale, spinach, collard green, etc.), Lean Protein, Cinnamon, Blueberries, Green Tea, Dark Chocolate

Eat Less Of: Foods With More Than 5 Ingredients: Refined Carbohydrates (breads, crackers, pre made baked goods), Processed Foods (condiments, cheese, deli meat), Gluten Containing Products, Sugary Beverages, Alcohol, Grains in Moderation (1/4 cup at a time); Consume All Carbs (fruit, grains, etc.) With Some Protein

Practical Nutrition Tips To Reverse Metabolic Syndrome:

1. If your great, great grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, don’t eat it!

2. Take time once a week to prep your food- it makes a world of difference!

3. Include daily physical activity and reduce stress

4. Consider supplements/specific foods to help bridge nutritional deficiencies: blueberries, cinnamon, gymnema (herb to help regulate blood sugar), minerals, food-based multivitamins, and essential fatty acids

How to stay on track during the holidays.

Practical Nutrition Tips for a Thinner Thanksgiving (And Day After Damage Control!)

Staying healthy during the holidays doesn’t mean forgoing taste or depriving oneself of holiday goodies. The key is knowing when to splurge, and how to get back on track!

A. Thanksgiving Day

1. Start with a hearty breakfast, hydrate, and exercise
1 cup plain Greek yogurt with papaya and 2 Tbsp. walnuts
Cup of Hot Lemon Water

2. The Meal: The Secret of First’s and Second’s
Appetizers: Have 5 veggies for every cracker or chip; for every drink have 2 glasses of water; dilute drinks with seltzer- make it a “spritzer”; ¼ cup nuts
Main Meal: One serving (1/4 cup) of starchy veggies, grains, stuffing, gravies, sweets
Seconds: Salads, steamed veggies, plain protein
Drink cup of mint tea in between dinner and desert
Deserts: Unlimited fresh fruit; total desert to size of palm (2 small slivers of pie, 1 cookie)
“Calorie Culprits”: Chips, crackers, drinks, toppings, fried food, dressings, gravy, dips

B. Day After Damage Control

1. Focus on high protein breakfast, healthy fat, snacks, potassium, exercise, and hydration
Eggs, avocado, coconut water, celery, water, beets, kale

2. Pre-portion leftovers in muffin tins or snack baggies to avoid over indulgence:
Protein: size of palm
Grains/stuffing/starchy veggies: ½ cup
Salads: 1-2 cup
Fats/Gravies: 1-2 Tbsp.
Deserts: ¼ cup or ½ size of palm

3. Day After Detox Salad
Enjoy your leftovers the day after Thanksgiving in a health promoting salad that will “get things moving” in your body, and help you stay on track for the rest of the weekend! Find the recipe below in the meal plan.

Day After “Damage Control” Meal Plan for 2

Day After Thanksgiving “Damage Control” Meal Plan (for 2)
Avoid snacking on leftover sweets throughout day; focus on a high protein breakfast
Enjoy unlimited veggies and lots of water throughout the day to help satisfy cravings and curb sweet tooth

8 am Breakfast: Turkey Scramble
4 whole organic eggs
½ cup chopped turkey
2 cups spinach
2 Tbsp. dried rosemary
1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil

Over medium heat, sauté spinach in coconut oil. Whisk together eggs, rosemary, and turkey in mixing bowl. When spinach is hot and cooked down, pour egg mixture into skillet and scramble for 3-4 minutes or until eggs are cooked throughout. Serve with a ½ of a grapefruit and cup of hot lemon water.

11am Snack: ¼ cup mixed and medium apple

1pm Lunch: Detox Salad
2 cups chopped kale (raw)
½ cup chopped sweet potatoes (raw or baked)
2 Tbsp. dried rosemary
1 cup diced turkey breast
½ cup fresh cranberries
1 cup chopped celery
½ diced avocado
2 large red bell peppers; cut off top and scrape out inside seeds

Toss together kale, sweet potatoes, rosemary, turkey breast, cranberries, celery, and avocado. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and lightly combine until all ingredients are coated. Split mixture in half and serve inside of the bell peppers.

4pm Snack: Leftover celery and carrot sticks dipped in ¼ cup hummus with ¼ avocado

7pm Dinner: Thanksgiving Dinner Round 2

Choose 1-2 pre portioned servings of protein, 1-2 servings of pre portioned carb/grain/starchy veggies, 1-2 pre portioned fats, and 2-3 pre portioned greens/salads. Follow with cup of mint tea.

Desert: 1-cup fresh fruit with one pre portioned leftover desert

Healthy Halloween: Practical Alternative to Sugar Blues

Kids look forward to Halloween all year, and parents maybe not so much (unless they are looking forward to the sweet treats just as much/if not more than their kids!). Creating rules and regulations around your child’s candy consumption at Halloween, or any food for that matter, usually leads to kids feeling a sense of urgency to eat as much of that candy or food as possible when it is in front of them, not knowing the next time they will get it will be.  A practical alternative might be to fill your kids up with the healthy stuff before hand. Creating an environment which promotes healthy food in a fun way is crucial step in empowering your child to make healthy choices on their own by listening to their own body. Try serving up some of these fun recipes before the kids head out for the treats, or as a dish to contribute to a Halloween party!

 

 
Creepy Crawlers

Ingredients:
5 Dates (pitted)
5 Tbsp. sunflower seed/almond/cashew butter
10 whole-wheat pretzel sticks
1 Tbsp. granola

Directions:
Cut each date in half and smear 1 Tbsp. nut butter in between the two halves. Stick 2 pretzel sticks on top of the nut butter, and place 2nd halfback on top. Stick 2 pieces of oats from granola onto top of “bug” as eyes.

Boo-Nanas

Ingredients:
2 frozen bananas (cut in half)
4 Tbsp. organic shredded coconut flakes
¼ cup orange juice
8 chocolate chips

Directions:
Cut bananas in half before freezing. Remove from freezer, dip each half in orange juice, and roll in coconut flakes. Poke 1 chocolate chip through top of each banana half as “ghost eyes.”

Mummy Pizzas

Ingredients:
10 “Mary’s Gone” Gluten Free crackers (any variety)
5 Tbsp. shredded organic, whole milk mozzarella cheese
30 black beans
Salsa for dipping (optional)

Directions:
Place strands of cheese over each cracker in “mummy” pattern (criss-crossed). Place 2 black beans for eyes, and leave an oval shape without cheese near the mouth. Place cracker with cheese in microwave for 15 seconds of until just melted. Serve with salsa!

Brains and Bugs

Ingredients:
1 spaghetti squash (to cook: poke holes throughout, and cook in microwave on high for 7-10 minutes or until soft on outside)
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup chia seeds

Directions:
Slice off top of the spaghetti squash, and scrape out the seeds and flesh with a fork into spaghetti-like strands. Separate seeds from flesh and place the strands of the squash into bowl. Mix the strands with the syrup, chia seeds, and walnuts, leaving a few Tbsp. of each to “garnish” the brains. Put the squash mixture back into the empty squash and garnish with remaining walnuts and chia seeds. Serve with top of squash slightly ajar.

Ghost Eggs

Ingredients:
5 hardboiled eggs
20 black beans
Small handful of spinach

Directions:
Cut ½ inch off of the bottom of each egg to create a flat and stable bottom.  Carve tiny wedges into the egg white for eyes and a mouth on each egg, varying the placement to allow for the appearance of different shaped mouths. Squeeze a black bean or two into the mouth and eyes of each egg; serve on top of pieces of baby spinach.

Witches Fingers

Ingredients:
5 whole milk, organic mozzarella cheese sticks
4 Tbsp. hummus (any variety)
1 small green and red bell pepper, cut into 1″ squares for “finger nails”

Directions:
Cut each mozzarella stick in half. With a small and sharp knife, make small, careful divots about 2″ below the top of each stick and about 3″ down, representing the knuckle indents of fingers. Carve out a nail shaped “U” on the top of each stick, fill with a dab of hummus and stick a bell pepper on top as a fingernail!

Monster Mash

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados
Sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, 1 tsp. lemon juice
1 whole tomato (optional); chopped

Directions:
Combine avocados, sat, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice until smooth. Add tomato chunks. Stick “witches fingers”, celery, and carrot sticks out of Monster Mash.

 

Remember, these are great snacks for your kids all year round! The key to a healthy snack is combining a protein (egg, cheese stick, etc.) with a bit of carb (fruit, cracker, etc.) and some healthy fat (but butter, olive oil, avocado, etc.).