404 special events

Dark Chocolate Cherry Holiday Parfait

Everyone loves sweets during the holidays- and most of us love chocolate! It’s normal to crave a little something sweet, even after a healthy meal. Our bodies need certain minerals found in natural sweeteners, for example, magnesium found in unsweetened cocoa and zinc in maple syrup. It’s important to eat natural, unprocessed sweets that satisfy your taste buds, unlike white, refined, packaged, sugary foods that are hard to stop eating once you start. Having some of these basic sweeteners on hand is a must for me:

  • 100% real maple syrup
  • Raw, local honey
  • Fresh/frozen fruit
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 70% or darker chocolate
  • Stevia
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes (even though they don’t have a direct sweet taste, they contain minerals and healthy fat that can help combat a sugar craving)

Honoring your bodies nutrient needs with whole foods and not depriving yourself what your body is looking for is key to succeeding in your overall wellness. Check out this delicious recipe for a quick, simple, and visually pleasing dessert option for yourself or your guests this holiday season.

Enjoy!

Ana and Amanda

Dark Chocolate Cherry Holiday Parfait
Author: Ana
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 serving
Ingredients
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein (sweetened with stevia- or use plain and add 1 packet stevia, or 2 tsp maple syrup or honey)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao nibs
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the cherries and cacao nibs. Combine well until a thick, pudding-like texture is reached. Add more almond milk if the mixture is too thick and more coconut flour if it’s too thin.
  2. Add a layer on the bottom of a parfait cut, followed by a layer of dark frozen cherries, and continue to do this until the mixture is used up. Top it off with a layer of dark cherries, cacao nibs, and a pinch of coconut flakes as a “snow like” topping for winter. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Notes
PN Rx: 2 fats, 1 protein, 1 fruit per serving


“Party Perfect” Hemp Hummus

It’s getting to be that time of year where you’re asked to “bring something” to a get together. Whenever I’m asked this question, I always make sure that it’s something that will be a “safety” food for me- meaning that if there aren’t a lot of other healthy options at the party, I know I can eat what I bring. This hemp hummus is huge hit at parties and get togethers. The hemp seeds add some Omega 3’s, provides fiber and healthy fat to reduce sugar cravings, and adds a delicious nutty flavor to the hummus. We love this hummus because of it’s unique flavor profile, simple instructions, and health promoting ingredients. Check out the recipe below- and be sure to make some extra because this tasty, fiber packed snack keeps in the fridge for up to 10 days!

To learn more about hemp seeds, click here! 

 

“Party Perfect” Hemp Hummus
Author: Ana
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ Cup Garbanzo Beans
  • ½ tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/3 and 3 Tbsp Cup Lemon Juice
  • 4 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
  • 3 Tbsp Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp oregano
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into the food processor or blender and process/blend at high speed until a smooth, creamy consistency is reached.
  2. Add more lemon juice or tahini if hummus is not combining well. Add more garlic and sea salt to taste.
  3. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve with fresh sliced veggies, whole grain or rice crackers, or use as a spread in a wrap or sandwich.
Notes
PN Rx= .5 protein, 1 fat and .5 carb per serving

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

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 🙂

Practical Nutrition Attends Misfit Toys Throwdown

ananda PN

This past weekend PN attended the Misfit Toys Throwdown hosted by Yankee Crossfit and Crossfit Revelation in Enfield, CT. The throwdown was put together by these two gyms to collect toys for less fortunate children during the holidays. It is a great cause that raised a lot of money and was able to donate a lot of toys since there were 220 competitors and each of them brought a toy, along with a lot of spectators.

We set up an awesome booth with a lot of goodies for everyone. It was such a great day. We had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people about their goals and how nutrition would help them get there. I actually competed in the competition with my partner, Laura, and ended up finishing in fourth place. Yay!

 laura amanda

Are you wondering what goodies we had at our booth???

Well, one of them was an herbal energy tonic! The tonic was made with Licorice and Cinnamon Quills. Why these two herbs? Licorice is great for your adrenal glands, which are the little glands that produce all of your stress hormones. It is also helps our bodies deal with environmental stressors and aids in lung function (helps us breathe better). It is a natural energy booster! We added in the Cinnamon Quills to improve flavor, but cinnamon is also beneficial for blood circulation, digestion, and blood sugar levels. The herbal energy shots were a real hit!

pn shots

We also had a raffle where we raffled off a free introductory consult and we gave away some PN recipes. One of the recipes was for a Homemade Sports Drink that we made and were giving to the athletes and anyone that wanted to try it.  It is a very simple recipe with 5 ingredients, one of which is just water. It replenishes important electrolytes like Sodium, Potassium  Phosphorus and Chloride without the added sugar, chemicals, artificial colors, and processing that “over the counter” sports drinks contain (we won’t mention names but the two most popular ones start with G and P!) Everyone really liked it and I definitely drank a lot while I was competing all day. It was the perfect beverage! Here is the recipe!

PN Homemade Sports Drink
Recipe Type: Sports Drink
Author: Amanda
Ingredients
  • 1 Liter of Water
  • Juice of 2 Whole, Fresh Lemons
  • 3 TBLS. Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. Sea Salt
  • Pinch of Baking Soda
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients until well combined. For add refreshment, add ice and mint leaves as desired!

PN Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

pn cookies

 

Do you need a healthy dessert recipe to bring to a family member’s house for the Holidays or maybe just to have at your own? Here at PN we love healthy desserts that won’t leave you feeling guilty. That is why we came up with this simple and nutritious chocolate chip cookie recipe! Check it out!

PN Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Amanda
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Ingredients
  • 2 cans organic chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cups organic peanut butter or other nut butter (unsweetened)
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 1/2 cups enjoy life chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper on two cookie sheets.
  2. Drain and rinse chickpeas then process in a food processor or blender until they start to make a paste.
  3. Add in peanut butter, egg, and honey and process/blend until smooth.
  4. Pour batter into a large bowl and mix the chocolate chips in.
  5. Form into small balls (about 1-1.5 inches) then press flat on cookie sheet. My recipe made 34 small cookies.
  6. Place cookies on baking sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes. The cookies will not harden. They stay soft but are done cooking. Store in fridge in airtight container. These cookies also taste great frozen!
Notes
PN Rx for 1/34 of recipe or 1 small cookie: 1.5 Fats, 1 Carb
3.2.2124

RD’s at the Big E: Fair Food Frenzy!

Child like joy at the Big E!

Child like joy at the Big E!

This past weekend a couple of the Practical Nutrition Associate Dietitians attended the Big Eastern States Exposition…aka Big E! I personally haven’t been to the big E since childhood, so getting into the spirit of the fair was lots of fun. The experience was full of childhood memories, excitement over the 100’s of vendors lining the streets, over crowded conditions (if you like to people watch this is the place to be!), but most of all…“FOOD!” (I have that in quotations because the nutrient depleted, over heated, battered, inorganic, synthetically derived, grossly portioned “food” offered at the fair goes against my every definition of food…but thats not the point of this post!) There were amazingly over 140 locations offering food and beverages ranging from from fried butter balls, to pulled pork parfaits, “Craz-E-Burgers” (bacon cheeseburger sandwiched between two glazed doughnuts), and types of meats and sweets in every shape, form, and flavor. I never thought I could see the word “fried” in front of so many foods- from oreos, cheesecake, kool aid, cream puffs, and jelly beans, to clams, vegetables, and kangaroo!

I went into the day only focusing on the positives…how could I not, its the BIg E! We all know the food choices at fairs are disastrous- and part of me wishes I could have handed out “day after nutrition recovery” cards to reverse some of the damage people were doing to their body all day long. But that’s not why I went. The neat thing about the Big E for me was the variety of “classes” of food available. The craziest food options were found scattered throughout the fair in between tents selling things that were fun to look at but otherwise completely useless. The  interesting and real food options were found on the Avenue of the States.  Each state in New England was designated their own building and featured food and beverage options traditional to their state- of course Vermont had Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and every possible grade of real maple syrup, New Hampshire featured fresh culinary herbs and homemade fudge, Connecticut had local J Foster ice cream and Rose’s Berry Farm, and Maine offered fresh lobster rolls, wild blueberry crisp, and what seemed to have the longest line of them all: Maine Baked Potatoes! These bad boys were the biggest baked potatoes I’d ever seen, loaded with every type of topping imaginable! When I went onto the Maine Potato Board’s website I was amazed at some of the ideas they have for baked potatoes-  breakfast baked potatoes, Maine crab baked potato, and even a sloppy joe baked potato! No one thinks quite like a native of Maine!

Ana: "When in Rome!" Brendan: "Someone get me out of here!"

Ana: “When in Rome!”
Brendan: “Someone get me out of here!”

After a few laps of strolling around the fair observing  the most popular “foods” consumed, we had to try a few! The items of choice for the Practical Nutrition team were as follows: Vermont apple pie with vanilla ice cream, giant turkey leg, home cooked kettle corn, and yep, I’m admitting it…fried butter balls (had to do it!)!

A day at the fair was definitely a bonding and eye opening experience for the Practical Nutrition team. As fun as it was trying a few out of the box foods, we were excited to stop at a local health food store on the way home and pick up a bottle of Kombucha (a cleansing, fermented tea beverage!), some fresh vegetables, and lots of water. The night was finished off with a huge salad, loaded with protein and some more water to wash help regain hydration in our body after all of the offending treats.

Here are my three takeaways from our field trip to the Big E: 

1. Make time to enjoy the simple joys in life…enjoy a ride at a fair… even in the rain…be a kid again!

2. Don’t let a fear of “bad food choices” get in the way of enjoying an event with family and friends-  include detox foods (beets, greens, bright vegetables at most meals, lean protein, healthy fats, lots of water) on a daily basis so your body can handle the once a year you eat a fried butter ball

3. Have a plan after a splurge day to get you back on track with your nutrition maintenance plan. A solid “recovery nutrition plan” includes a meal heavy in greens, vegetables, and a protein the night after, lots of water, a cup of Yogi Detox tea, 2 Cleanse Smoothies the day after, 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise, and being conscious of limiting refined sugars/grains, sugary drinks, alcohol, and excess caffeine 3 days after the splurge to make sure you don’t get caught in what I call a “sugar cycle”- which can dangerously turn a one afternoon splurge into a week long, unintentional spiral of eating fair food!

Keep in mind making healthy choices is something you have to do for yourself, and can’t be influenced by the choices of those around you. Make sure your decisions to splurge are your own. If you’re feeling a treat outside of your usual plan, go for it! If not, hold back even if those around you are indulging…slowing down and taking time before you enter a social situation to identify what’s best for you is the easiest way to succeed in staying on track with your health.

Stay disciplined and treat your body right with real food as much as you can. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Do what you have to do to get back on track when you get off…don’t make excuses. Enjoy life, family, and friends. Its a good life!

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

Ana Elisabeth