404 weight loss

Get Out Of That Winter Slump!

For us here on the East coast, it’s been a long winter! By now most of us are feeling the effects of being stuck indoors during our free time, which can lead to a lower than usual mood and perhaps even a little weight gain from the lack of physical activity. The good news is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel- Spring is finally here!

I had the chance to chat with Kara and Scot from Channel 3 this week about some simple foods that will help get you out of that slump….simple snacks that will boost your energy, help you shed a few of those winter pounds, and boost up that immune system so you can enjoy as many of the beautiful days to come as you can! Watch the video below to learn more!

WFSB 3 Connecticut 

 

Click Here for the Recipes!

 

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

 

Ana 🙂

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

Grain Free Breakfast Cereal!

Protein is the best fuel you can put into your body first thing in the morning! Without enough protein in the morning, most people find they have a harder time “getting going”, crave more sugar and carbs, and have a harder time focusing throughout the day. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a hot breakfast cereal in the morning, so I came up with this high protein hot breakfast cereal that leaves me full of high quality protein and fiber, keeping me full for hours! Other sources of protein in the morning could include:

  • Scrambled or hardboiled eggs (I make them in advance each week for an easy breakfast or snack!)
  • Smoothie with  whey protein powder (click here for one of my favorite smoothie recipes!)
  • Oatmeal mixed with whey protein powder
  • Plain Greek Yogurt with raw honey and/or fresh fruit
  • Kefir, a cultured, creamy yogurt like product with amazing probiotic contents
  • Organic cottage cheese with fresh berries
Grain Free Breakfast Cereal!
Author: Ana
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1-2
Ingredients
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 2 TBLS coconut flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 scoops (apx. 15 grams) whey protein powder (optional if you are looking to boost protein)
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • pinch ea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 packet organic stevia (optional if you like more sweetness)
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • Fresh/frozen berries and cinnamon for topping
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in blender until just barely combined. Do not over blend- the consistency of the batter should be thick but not dry (add more almond milk if too dry, and more almond milk if too thick). Heat up a pan with 2 tsp. coconut oil. Pour batter into pan and scramble like eggs for about 3-4 minutes, or until batter appears well cooked throughout. Transfer unto bowl and top with fresh or frozen berries, coconut flakes, cinnamon, or any other of your favorite oatmeal/breakfast cereal topping! Enjoy!
  2. PN RX: 2 fats, 2 proteins, 1 fruit per serving

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: Ana
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) [br]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

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding (Purification/Cleanse Friendly)

pudding

I began another 21 day purification journey this past Tuesday, which means tasty, new cleanse-friendly recipes! Most of our recipes on the blog are cleanse-friendly but it can be tricky to make a dessert that doesn’t have any offending ingredients and still tastes like a treat. I have  seen a lot of chia seed pudding recipes online and decided to make a super simple version and see how it tastes. It came out really good! This recipe not only has just five ingredients but it also contains chia seeds, which have many health benefits.

Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family that’s native to Mexico and Guatemala. Chia seeds are most commonly known as a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber but have many other health benefits.

A one-ounce serving of chia seeds contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber, which helps us stay fuller longer, avoid food cravings, and slows the absorption of of sugar into the blood
  • 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain and heart health
  • 18% of the recommended daily intake for Calcium and 27% of the daily intake for Phosphorus, which helps to maintain healthy bones
  • 30% of the recommended daily intake for Manganese, which is important for bones and allows our body to properly use other essential nutrients like biotin and thiamin
  • 4.4 grams of protein

You can add chia seeds to any food since they don’t have any flavor. My favorite way to incorporate them into my diet is in smoothies. Add one tablespoon to your meal and you will be set!

 

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding (Purification/Cleanse Friendly)
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Amanda
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1/4 cup Organic Chia Seeds
  • 1 tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Raw Honey
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients into a glass dish and mix until everything is incorporated. Cover so that the dish is air tight.
  2. Place in fridge for 3 hours and stir every hour or store in fridge over night.
Serving size: 1/2 recipe Calories: 156 Fat: 7.5 Carbohydrates: 15.5 Protein: 7

Hawaiian Cinnamon Breakfast Bowl!

I just got back from an amazing trip visiting some friends and family on the Big Island of  Hawaii. Eating fresh, local foods and learning about tropical region medicinal foods and herbs were the two main themes. 99% of my food was from a local source or grower. Consistently eating plants grown without the use of chemicals and consuming protein from animals fed their proper diet immediately brings an abundance of  life and energy to your body.  Whether it was coconut oil from local coco’s, a star fruit I picked from the back of my cabin, or an avocado from a friend’s backyard, I was always snacking on a high fiber, life giving treat! One thing I did a lot of over there in between exploring some delicious new foods was surf! I needed a quick, high protein snack for before I jumped in the water so I could maximize my time in the waves (after all, I wanted to get in as much water time as possible after the 15 hour journey from winter in Connecticut!). Breakfast bowls are big in Hawaii, and I’ve actually posted a recipe involving a blueberry smoothie as a base of a breakfast bowl as a post surf meal in the past. But since I didn’t always want to use the blender on this trip, I adapted this simple yet tasty version of a breakfast bowl that all of us can  enjoy back here on the mainland but still bring back the flavors and aloha from the island!

Screen shot 2014-02-13 at 11.12.16 PM

A beautiful rainbow on a flat day over a favorite surf spot- Pohoiki’s 2nd Bay, Big Island, Hawaii

Hawaiian Cinnamon Breakfast Bowl!
Author: Ana
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
Enjoy this high protein, energizing treat as a snack, breakfast, or frozen as a sweet treat at night!
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup 2% Plain Greek Yogurt (I like Fage brand)
  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Mango Chunks OR 1/2 Cup Fresh Organic Papaya
  • 3-4 Sliced Strawberries
  • 1/4 Avocado Diced
  • Pinch of Alfalfa Sprouts (get those greens in as much as you can!)
  • 1 Tsp. Cinnamon
  • Pinch Sea Salt
  • 1 Tsp. Local Honey (optional)
  • 2 Scoops Whey Protein (optional- 15 grams protein)
  • 1 TBLS Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
Instructions
  1. Put yogurt in bowl (mix in protein powder if you are using it), and top with sliced fruit, sprouts and avocado. Sprinkle with cinnamon, sea salt, and coconut flakes. Drizzle with honey and enjoy while thinking about a place or person you love!
Notes
** “Dry mix” of cinnamon, coconut flakes, and sea salt can be mixed in advance to save time [br]*** PN RX: 1 protein (2 if using protein powder), 1 fruit, 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

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.

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
Recipe Type: Smoothie
Author: Brendan
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 – 1 1/2 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!
Serving size: 1 smoothie Calories: 324 Fat: 12g Carbohydrates: 41g Sugar: 29g Sodium: 243mg Fiber: 8g Protein: 19g Cholesterol: 25mg
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photo (1)

Balsamic Marinated Beet Salad

Beets are an extremely nutrient dense food. This means they contain a lot of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants without having a lot of calories per serving. Some of the vitamins and minerals in beets include: folate, manganese, fiber, potassium, Vitamin C, tryptophan, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and copper.

Beets also contain phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are substances in food that help fight various diseases. Beets contain betalains, which have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. Overall beets are a nutrient packed food that everyone should try to consume on a regular basis. Now I know this information, but sometimes I am not always in the mood for beets. I tried to come up with a recipe that would convince beet haters that beets are delicious and give the beet lovers a new way to enjoy them! Check it out!

beet salad

 

Balsamic Marinated Beet Salad
Recipe Type: Lunch
Author: Amanda
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 4-5
Ingredients
  • 3 large beets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tsp cumin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap beets in foil and bake in oven for 45 minutes.
  2. While beets are baking gather the rest of the ingredients and place in a large bowl. Mix well.
  3. When the beets are soft enough to put a fork in, take them out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Run beets under cold water and peel off skin. Chop up the beets into little cubes. Mix in with marinade and onions. Marinate in the fridge or eat immediately.
Notes
You can eat this beet salad as it is with some chicken, fish or meat and it will taste great. I put 3-4 big scoops on top of a big green salad that I made and used it as a dressing. Either way it is delicious![br][br]PN Rx: [br]1/5 of recipe= .5 Carb, 1 fat
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