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

Quick and Tasty Wheat Free Pasta with Veggie Marinara

Sometimes I crave a good old pasta and marinara sauce dinner! It’s hard to find a recipe that is tasty AND health promoting. Having a bit of high quality protein, veggies, and healthy fat is the best way to make sure you leave a meal feeling energized and satisfied. Amanda and I  have been loving this Gluten Free Black Bean/Mung Bean Pasta lately (like most of our suggestions, you can find this pasta in the Gluten Free section at most major grocery stores). This pasta, combined with this clean and simple homemade high protein marinara sauce, is the perfect alternative to the typical “refined” white pasta you grew up on- and will taste better too! Enjoy!

Quick and Tasty Wheat Free Pasta with Veggie Marinara
 
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Try this quick and easy pasta dish when you're craving pasta or something with an Italian feel! Feel amazing and light after you eat it as it's full of fiber, B Vitamins, and protein!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ½ Bag Black Bean Spaghetti*
  • Sauce:
  • ½ Bag Ming Bean Spaghetti*
  • 6 and ¼ cup water
  • 1 Jar Organic, No Sugar Added Tomato Sauce (made with olive oil)
  • 1 Small Can (6 oz.) Organic Tomato Paste
  • 4 TBLS Italian Seasoning (We like the brand Frontier Organics)
  • ⅛ Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Handfuls Organic Spinach
  • 1 Cup Raw Mushrooms
  • 2 TBLS Chopped Garlic (fresh or from the jar)
  • 1 Avocado (for garnish) and Pint Organic Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Pound Baked Free Range Chicken, Chunked
  • Any Other Vegetable You Love!
  • * Find Gluten Free Black Bean or Mung Bean Pasta at most major grocery stores or local health food store!
Instructions
  1. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in medium pot. In the mean time, combine olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, and mushrooms in a medium sized skillet on the stove top at medium heat. Allow to sit on stove for about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are slightly browned and softened. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, Italian seasoning, and spinach to the skillet. Once water is boiling, add dry Black Bean/Mung Bean pasta to the water and allow to boil for about 7-10 minutes until soft, "pasta like" consistency is reached. Drain the pasta when finished and set aside. Allow your sauce ingredients to simmer for about 10 more minutes or until mixture has come to a slow boil, and the spinach has cooked down/is well combined into sauce. Add chicken chunks (or other desired protein) to the sauce until they are warm throughout, and serve over the Black Bean/Mung Bean pasta. Top with chunks of avocado and cherry tomatoes- enjoy!
Notes
PN RX for ¼ of the sauce and 1 Cup Pasta: 2 Carbs, 2 Fat, 1 Veggies, 1 Protein

Apple Cider Vinegar: Why It’s Good and How to Use It!

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Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) isn’t as “far out” as it sounds- it’s simply made by taking the juice of fresh apples and allowing the process of fermentation (by adding bacteria and yeast) to turn the sugar from the apple juice into alcohol. After a bit more fermentation time the alcohol is turned into an acidic, sour tasting vinegar full of beneficial health properties (letting nature take its course always has healthy results!)  It’s something that is inexpensive, easy to find, and can make a huge difference in overall health (a somewhat rare combination of attributes!). Its unique flavor can add some variety to using the usual balsamic or red wine vinegar in a dish or salad dressing. Including about 2 TBLS of ACV per day can benefit your body in many ways:

  • Assists our body to detox (much needed after the holidays!)
  • Prevents indigestion
  • Helps reduce sugar/carb cravings
  • May help improve a bacterial related tummy ache (or reduce discomfort after eating a large meal!)
  • Helps to combat fatigue (rich in minerals our body may be missing such as magnesium and potassium)
  • Makes your hair shine and teeth whiter- use ~1 TBLS of ACV in cold water a few times a week after shampooing and then rinse your mouth with a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar- who would have thought?!

There are many ways to use ACV- drink 1 TBLS in warm water with lemon and honey as a detoxifying way to start the day, or use on vegetables or salads for a nutrient dense condiment. I always buy mine raw and organic, I like the brand Eden Organics, but any high quality brand will do and last for a while! The dressing in the recipe below is one of my favorites, but definitely experiment with different herbs, 1 part olive oil, and 3 parts ACV for a delicious and health conscious dressing that will keep in the fridge for weeks!

Until next time, stay well, eat well, and have a beautiful week!

Lemon Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing!
 
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 Parts Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Part Olive Oil
  • 3 TBLS Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Garlic Cloves, Finely Chopped
  • Sea Salt to Taste
  • Juice of 1 Fresh Lemon
Instructions
  1. Whisk all ingredients together and store in fridge for up to 3 weeks. Enjoy on salads, cooked vegetables, or anything else you would need a delicious dressing for!
Notes
** PN Rx: 2 tsp oil=1 fat

 

 

Practical Nutrition Challenge: 11 Tips For Better Health

Making the commitment to “better health in 2014″ may sound good, but with so much information out there we recognize it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. We’re so happy you’re taking the time to read this post! It priorities and highlights where we feel your focus should be as you think about health related changes you may want to make for the upcoming year.

PN Mascot: Representing the Foundation Of Health!

PN Mascot: Representing the Foundations Of Health!

Anyone who knows Amanda or me knows that we’re goal setters who are always up for a challenge…especially when it comes to trying something new that we know will benefit our health. Recently, I (Ana) started a new 20 minute “move my body” routine that leaves me feeling amazing even when I don’t have enough time for an “official” workout (you can email Amanda or me if you want to learn more about that routine- I’m hooked!). As we approach the new year and come out of what may have turned into a few “toxic” few weeks food wise, you can set similar goals for your food habits. Here are a few simple ideas to get you going. We suggest picking one a week, and building an arsenal of healthy food related tips and tricks that can make a huge impact on your overall health if maintained over a period of 3 months or more:

  1. Include a mug of hot water with fresh lemon daily- this contributes to alkalizing the body (some studies show that cancer cells cant thrive in an alkaline environment), and promotes gentle daily detox
  2. Drink half your body weight in oz per day of water (more depending on your exercise routine)- this will help you take a healthy poop at least once a day and also keep food cravings at bay
  3. Make sure you are getting enough high quality omega 3 fatty acids on a daily basis. The form our body utilizes best come from cold water, minimally processed fish.  If you don’t eat a lot of  fish take some god fish oil (ask us if you have questions on this- individual needs vary and the quality/integrity issues with fish oils is particularly high in the supplement industry)
  4. GREEN AND RED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES! Get 2-3 cups of these life givers every day (organic if possible!)- kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, beets (check out Amanda’s balsamic beet recipes and develop a new relationship with these guys!), arugula, sprouts, berries, pomegranates, etc. etc.
  5. Buy your meat locally and organic/grass fed (for red meat) whenever possible
  6. Eat 3-4 organic eggs per week (the whole egg!)
  7. Try not eating food that comes in a package for one week and see how you feel- instead make 2-3 “batch” cooked recipes throughout the week for lunches and dinners- cook once and eat 3 times! For breakfast and snacks try some nuts, fruit, eggs, smoothies, or Greek Yogurt- all of these just involves some thinking ahead
  8. Keep a food journal for a week- but don’t focus on the food you’re eating- focus on the thoughts/feelings you have before you eat- what have you eaten all day up to that point? Are you hungry or thirsty? What is driving your hunger- social setting? Routine? Boredom? Other emotions? Getting a handle on the psych behind our own food choices is empowering and ushers in lasting change
  9. Check out the ingredient list on all the food you eat- forget about the number and nutrition facts. Instead, make sure what you’re eating really have in it what it claims to be (i.e. granola bar- is it 1% granola and 99% chemicals and sugar? i.e. sports drinks- is it artificial flavors, sugar, and chemicals or real food based sources of electrolytes (lemons, maple syrup, sea salt, etc) that have what your body needs?) Again, more of a thought process technique
  10. Try including fermented foods every day for a week. Not only do they improve the count of “good belly bugs” aka probiotics (strengthening our immune system and improving brain health- brain/gut connection), they contain live enzymes that help break down our food (you might notice a flatter stomach),  and B vitamins for lots of energy. They aren’t as overwhelming as you think- easy sources are found at all health food stores and include Kefir (much like yogurt!), Kombucha (yummy fizzy tea like drink!), sauer kraut, fermented carrots or cucumbers, etc!
  11. Last but not least, know your body. Take some time to learn what your individual nutrition needs are. Think about what makes you feel the best/most alive/best levels of energy and relate those feelings to the food choices you were making during that time. Haven’t experienced how your food choices can boost your mood, success, relationships, and happiness in your life yet? Take some time and see what you might be missing in your diet- you will be surprised how much a few small changes in your diet can affect many areas of your life for the good

In our mind, overall wellness involves the optimal healthy of mind, body, and spirit. On a physiological level, the above combination of these 10 simple habits result in steadier blood sugar levels, a healthy body weight, reduction of overall systemic inflammation, a stronger immune system, and a more efficient detox system in your body. When thinking about making some health changes for the new year and doing some “damage control” from the holidays, think about all the positive things you CAN do not about the things you will have to give up. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions!

Keys to success always include:

  • Accountability
  • Measurable Goals to Track Your Progress
  • Know Why You Want to Reach Your Goals- Be Internally Motivated and Remind Yourself of This Frequently
  • Predicting Your Potential Road Blocks
  • Just Getting Going…
  • And Just Keep Going!

Here’s to the health and happiness of you and the ones you love! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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

Ana and Amanda :)

Treating High Blood Pressure Naturally, Part 1

Salt-

High blood pressure, aka hypertension, is one of the most common chronic diseases plaguing us today. In fact, it’s the number one most frequent reason for a visit to the doctor’s office, and for good reason… hypertension is a major cause of stroke and heart disease, affecting approximately 1 billion individuals worldwide. According to projections, over 90% of adults in the United States will develop hypertension by age 65, but only 34% are able to return to a healthy blood pressure! That is a problem! 

 

The first thing most people do when diagnosed with high blood pressure is to start drug treatment. While this will lower your blood pressure into a healthy range, and that will make your doctor happy, this doesn’t get to the root of the problem… it just covers up the symptom. There’s a reason your body felt the need to increase your blood pressure, and it’s not because it wants to kill you; it’s because there’s an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

There are two root causes of hypertension in most cases:

  1. Low potassium intake
  2. Weight gain

And that’s where we should target our treatment.  I will get into the details of these and provide practical tips over the next couple of weeks. But today, I’d like to focus on what does NOT cause high blood pressure… sodium. This topic needs special attention, due to the excessive media attention sodium gets.

 

Salt is required for life.

First, you need to know that salt is a nutrient. Salt contains sodium and chloride, both of which are important for our health. Sodium is important for normal cellular metabolism and for maintaining proper fluid volume. It also plays a role in the nervous system, allowing us to move or react to our environment, among other things. Chloride is needed for stomach acid production, a necessary component of digestion and an important defense against food-borne pathogens. Salt is a nutrient that our bodies need, despite the image it gets these days. 

Some of us are more sensitive to salt than others.

In reality, we all respond differently to reducing salt intake. Some experience an increase in blood pressure, others see a decrease, and still others see no change at all. Take this 1987 study, for example. Subjects had normal blood pressure to start, and their sodium intake was restricted to 1600 mg/day, a very low level. This graph shows that the change in blood pressure varied wildly depending on the person. Some people are “salt-sensitive”, while others are not. And it turns out, whether we get enough potassium has a big impact on our salt sensitivity. More on that next week.

salt

Reducing salt too much can be harmful.

There was an article in the New York Times about this recently, click here to read it for yourself. The truth is that restricting sodium to the level that the Dietary Guidelines recommend, 2300 mg per day, can be dangerous. According to a researcher quoted in the article, “As sodium levels plunge, triglyceride levels increase, insulin resistance increases, and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system increases. Each of these can increase the risk of heart disease.” In other words, following the guidelines for sodium can increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

For every study showing a benefit for reducing salt intake, there’s a contrasting study showing the opposite.

 

What does it all mean?

When we have this much conflicting information on salt, it means we’re missing something. I’ll break it down for you.

  1. Foods that are high in sodium tend to be junk foods that are also full of additives, artificial flavors and colors, sugar, and more. Think canned, boxed, and frozen foods. In fact, 80% of our sodium intake comes from processed foods… and there’s much more going on there than just sodium.
  2. People who eat a lot of processed food tend to eat too much food in general and are prone to weight gain (one of the main causes of high blood pressure).
  3. In addition to being full of sodium, junk foods are also very low in potassium (the other main cause of high blood pressure).

Hopefully that clears things up on sodium! 

Stay tuned for next week’s post, where we’ll get into treating the first cause of high blood pressure: potassium!

Tropical Dream Smoothie (Video)

This tropical smoothie will make you forget about the cold and the snow, and it’ll keep your beach vibe going all winter!

 


Tropical Dream Smoothie
 
Author:
Recipe type: Smoothie
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • ½ banana
  • ½ cup frozen mango
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 - 1½ cups baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 8-12 fl oz unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 scoops SP Whey Pro
  • Dash of salt
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender and blend to desired consistency!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 smoothie Calories: 324 Fat: 12g Carbohydrates: 41g Sugar: 29g Sodium: 243mg Fiber: 8g Protein: 19g Cholesterol: 25mg

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Get Out of the Chair and Move!

man-sitting-clip-art-silhouette

Let’s talk about how we spend the 24 hours in a day… we can take 8 hours out for sleeping (If we’re lucky!). That leaves us 16 hours of waking time. How about we exercise for about 30 minutes a day, on average? That leaves us 15.5 hours. You’ll probably spend much of the remaining time at work, maybe some time with your kids, and probably at least an hour in the car. What precisely we do in that 15.5 hours isn’t all that important. What I would like you to ask yourself is this: How much of it is spent sitting?

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2003, about 55% of the average American’s waking time is spent being sedentary. As we’re learning more and more, sitting too much is terrible for your health. In fact, even if you get the recommended amount exercise, 30 minutes a day, you can completely undo those benefits by spending the rest of your day sedentary in a chair. It sounds like common sense that inactivity would be bad for us; if we’re not moving we’re burning fewer calories, so we’re more likely to gain weight. But it goes beyond that. Sitting continuously sets off a series of unwanted cellular mechanisms that immediately reduce your HDL and increase your triglycerides, two common risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Over the long term, we put ourselves at high risk for chronic disease, and that includes heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, as well as postural problems.

The solution is simple on paper but not so simple in practice: move more. Most of us probably don’t realize how much we sit… every time we’re at the computer, when we’re in the car, when we’re on the subway, when we’re at the movies, when we’re watching TV, when we’re reading a book, when we’re eating… it’s a part of everyone’s life. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing and spending time in a chair; just don’t overdo it.

Of course there will be situations when we’ll be forced to sit all day. Many of us work jobs that require us to be seated at a desk most of the time. Luckily for us, there are a few solutions.

  1. Get up and stretch once in a while! Getting up to stretch and walk around for just 2 minutes every hour can mitigate the nasty side effects we get from staying seated.
  2. Get yourself a stand-up desk. Standing up while working is a great way to keep your postural muscles activated and avoid the perils of sitting. In fact, a great many famous people throughout history used stand-up desks, including Sir Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, and Leonardo Da Vinci. In addition to the health benefits, many stand-up desk users report increased productivity and creativity working in this way.

What’s the take home message in all of this? Just because you’re going to the gym for 30 minutes a day doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing your body good. You’ve still got 15.5 waking hours left in your day that can’t be ignored. Be conscious of how much you sit, and do what you can to stay on your feet. Staying active throughout the day is just as important for your long-term health as intentional exercise at the gym!

The Skinny Ideal: It Wasn’t Always This Way

If you’re a woman, I don’t think I need to tell you that society values thinness. Everywhere you look, there are thin models, thin actresses, thin news anchors… it’s a not-so-subtle hint. Thin is considered attractive, and you’ve been hearing the message loud and clear for most of your life. Of course I can’t stand it, but there’s not much I can do to change it. I’m only one man (who happens to like a little more meat on his gals ;) ). What I CAN do, however, is show you that society didn’t always value thinness. In fact, just a few decades ago, thinness was frowned upon!

Take this ad, found in the book “Food in the United States, 1820-1890″. It’s for a weight-gain product called “Fat-ten-u”.

Fat-ten-u

There are plenty of other ads for this product online, you can find a few of them here. Fat-ten-u is advertised to “make the thin plump and rosy with honest fleshiness of form.” Yes, you’re reading this right. There are no typos, and it’s definitely not April Fool’s Day. Here’s a quote from another ad… “[a thin woman] must, in the confines of her bedroom, through shame, try to cover her poor thin figure from the gaze of her beloved spouse.” I couldn’t make this stuff up. Women in the 1890s wanted to gain weight! Plumpness was attractive! Crazy huh?

I say this not to make anyone question their weight loss efforts; I definitely don’t want to discourage you from shedding a few unwanted pounds. But there are two important points I want to hammer home.

1.  Trends come and go. Right now, it’s cool to be skinny. One hundred years ago, it was cool to be plump. Things are always changing. Don’t get caught up in the current trends, and don’t assume that our temporary and ever-changing societal ideals have anything to do with how you should look.

2.  Everyone is different. Many women, no matter how hard they try, will never ever look like paper-thin models; their bodies just weren’t built for it. Many other women will never look pleasingly plump. Everyone’s different. There is no universal ideal body. Know yours, love it, and be confident in it; it’s the only one you’ve got!

:)

Post-Workout Superfood Smoothie

Who wants to spend time in the kitchen after exercising? This simple fruit drink tastes great, is easy to make and is just what your body needs to for rejuvenation. It may be the perfect way to end a workout.

Post-Workout Superfood Smoothie
 
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Drink this scrumptious superfood smoothie after a workout for a dose of quality calories and protein. It'll help kick start recovery and keep you on top of your game!
Author:
Recipe type: Smoothie
Serves: 1-2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 1 banana
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 scoops Standard Process Whey Pro (15g protein)
  • A pinch of Real Salt
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender for 15 seconds.
  2. Drink!
Nutrition Information
Calories: 418 Fat: 11 g Carbohydrates: 63 g Sugar: 35 g Sodium: 204 mg Fiber: 14 g Protein: 20 g

 

Spicy Curry Shrimp!

Amanda's Spicy Curry Shrimp!
 
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One thing comes to mind with this healthful, tasty, quick and easy dinner: batch cook this flavorful bad boy to have some leftovers (if you can resist leaving some behind when you go to clean up!)
Author:
Recipe type: Quick and Easy!
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2lb peeled, deveined shrimp (I used frozen uncooked shrimp I had in my freezer)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2tsp curry powder
  • ¼ to ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Coconut oil for sautéing
Instructions
  1. Place shrimp in a large bowl and add lemon juice and spices. You can let it marinate for 20-30 minutes or just cook it right away.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil.
  3. Once it melts add shrimp and cook for 2-3 min per side.
  4. Make a big green salad with spinach, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, and cucumber and just place the shrimp on top.
  5. "It's just so delicious!" -Amanda