Clean Eating Update

I am coming into my 34th day of clean eating from my Digestive Spring Clean and I am starting to feel pretty fantastic.  I was able to stick to my clean eating program while sick, and in all likelihood it probably helped me to recover from my cold a lot faster than I would have normally.

After getting over my sugar withdraw everything has been pretty spectacular.   My eczema (reappearance from my not so optimal food choices) is almost all cleared up, my digestive system is starting to feel way less taxed than normal (less bloating and general uncomfortableness), my face is clearing up and a whole bunch of other positive benefits like more energy and better sleep.

I also think my new organic food delivery has a lot to do with this.  Yes, I am eating clean and changing my diet has a lot to do with starting to feel better and yes, I have started taking my vitamins and supplements again. However the food box that is delivered opens me up to a larger variety of different organic and non-GMO products.  I mean when I do the groceries I load up on vegetables and fruits but being completely honest I go for the same ones time and time again.  With the food box I get a varied assortment of different fruits and vegetables that I would likely only buy on occasion or never (what do you do with a star fruit?) Which leads me to an important part of clean eating, which is mixing it up.

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I find that when I start modifying my eating I end up finding a handful of things that work for me and then just stick with them until I become so sick of them I pretty much never want to eat them again.  Not only do I get bored of the foods I am eating but I am also limiting the type and amount of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) that I am feeding my body.

Our bodies are complicated amazing things that require support from a wide array of nutrients to function and if we want our bodies to function optimally we, as the owners of said bodies, have to do what we can to provide ourselves with a variety from various sources.

So give it a try this week. When you are doing your weekly grocery for the up coming week try and add two items (fruit or vegetable wise) to your cart that you normally wouldn’t select.   Pick something bright and colourful, or maybe it is that yucca everyone is always talking about.   Regardless of what it is try two new things, maybe make it a bit of a challenge for yourself, picking more and more and more new things each week to keep a healthy mix of vegetables and fruits in your diet, who knows you might find a new favorite food.

Happy Thursday Everyone!

 

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Let’s Drop the Beet – 10 Benefits to Eating Beets

I have been pretty inconsistent when it has come to food Fridays for the last little while. Unfortunately I don’t really have an excuse for it other than I have been busy, but aren’t we all.

So I made a point of starting the research for this one early to make sure I wouldn’t abandon all of my lovely readers for another week.   I figured with it being officially fall and all the root veggies and squashes coming into season I would pick something from this “fall” category to highlight.

This time of the year the Farmers market is bursting with all types of vegetables and one of my favorites is beets, especially when I can nab some golden or double coloured ones.  So I figured I would give a bit of a run down on why beets are so amazing, besides because they are delicious.

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  1. Beets are high in carbohydrates that your body can easily turn into energy to keep you fueled for your long busy days, gym sessions, runs and rigorous yoga classes.
  2. Beets are packed full of folic acid.  This is important to everyone as folic acid contributes to the growth of new cells but it is in particularly important to all my friends out there making their families.  Folic acid is super important to the whole developing a baby thing so most people take a supplement, but with an adequate supply of beets to your diet the supplement isn’t really necessary.
  3. Beets are packed with so many different minerals and vitamins it is hard to say anything bad about them.  Beets are full of calcium, phosphorus, iron, fiber, vitamin A and C, niacin and the list seriously just keeps going on and on.
  4. Beets are cleansing.  Beets have properties which will help you to clean up that liver of yours after a summer of beer and over indulgence, it might be a good idea to up your intake and do an internal cleaning up.
  5. Even their leaves are good for you. When it comes to the beet nothing needs to go to waste. Beet greens are filled with vitamin A, C and K and they are so easy to cook up or to include in your juicing process.
  6. The ancient Roman’s used them as an aphrodisiac.  Beets have a high level of boron which has been associated with the production of sex hormones in humans, so if you are looking at spicing it up cook up some healthy beets.
  7. Great complex carbohydrate for weight loss. Not only are beets extremely sweet which helps curb your appetite for pastries and candies, they are also pretty low in calories, weighing in at 60 calories for 1 cup of cooked beets.
  8. Beets are packed with anti-oxidants which means they are helpful at; controlling inflammation, reducing free radical damage, protecting against cancer, heart disease and at keeping you wrinkle free.
  9. Beets are good for your mind as much as your body. They are full of betalains (used in treatments of depression) and tryptophan (helps to relax) this combo helps to keep you happy and relaxed, perfect for the end of summer blues.
  10. Helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.   Sure you are eating your calcium rich foods, but beets contain the mineral silica which helps your body to absorb the all powerful calcium to keep your bones strong for years to come.

If these 10 reasons aren’t enough to get you to buy a bunch of beets on your next shopping trip I am not sure what is.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Food Fridays – 5 Benefits to Pumpkins

I have been having a hard time lately picking a food to highlight and then it hit, pumpkins. Perior to maybe a year or two ago I honestly thought pumpkins were only good for pie, their seeds and making wicked halloween decorations. It wasn’t until I learnt that you can cook and eat a pumpkin in a form other than pie and roasted seeds that I started to get a little more interested in what they had to offer.

It being fall (or at least Starbucks has released their Pumpkin Spice Latte) I felt like it is the perfect time to dive into why these giant orange orbs are so good for you and explain why there is more to them than just making a delicious pie.

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1. It is packed full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are great at fighting the signs of aging, but pumpkin also has a particular antioxidant that is great at helping your body to fight off the dreaded UV ray, so load up on the delicious squash.

2. High in B-complex vitamins. Pumpkins are jam packed with B-complex vitamins such as folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 ,and thiamin. B vitamins are so great because ?????

3. Pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses. Maybe roasted pumpkin seeds is a favourit of yours every year after carving up a pumpkin, well these little guys are giving you a reason to eat them all year round. The tiny little seeds are packed with zinc, vitamin E, iron, and protein, so go ahead sprinkle them on your salad or top your yogurt with them.

4. Pumpkins are swimming in minerals. Minerals like calcium, potassium are found in the pumpkin flesh. For a 1 cup serving there is about 24 mg of calcium which although is not as high as something like cottage cheese or greek yogurt, it provides a nice calcium boost for those who might be trying to add a bit more into their diet.

5. Great for weight loss and weight management. As the weather cools off we all start reaching for heavier belly warming foods that it can sometimes be difficult to remember that the heavy cream based soup we at was super rich in calories. Pumpkins not only make a great “creamy” soup without the dairy they also only have about 26 calories for 100g serving. Next time you are looking for something to roast, puree, or mix into a stew think of pumpkin as a great addition.

Pumpkins are so great I could probably keep going on and listing the host of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. forever, but these are my top five picks. I hope they give you a reason to pick up a pumpkin from your local farmer’s market and test out a new recipe this fall.

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all have wonderful weekends planned.

Food Fridays – 5 Benefits to Watermelon

Keep with the trend of giving some tasty little tid bits about different foods I figured I would pick one of my summer favourites. I know I have talked about delicious this one is in the past but I didn’t get any further than that.

Well friends, I am talking about watermelon. The glorious orb of sweet watery goodness.

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This wonderful little number is more than just delicious it is also great for your health and energy levels.  Here are just a few of the great things that watermelon can do for you:

1. Good for your heart – Watermelon like tomatoes are full of lycopene. Lycopene has been proven to be responsible for helping keep your heart healthy so load up!

2. It will load you up with energy – watermelon contains vitamin B6.  B6 is used to help convert proteins into energy giving you the boost you will need to keep moving through your day.

3. Cancer fighter – watermelons have been proven to have some of the highest amounts of lycopene of any fresh fruit.  Lycopene has not only been linked to heart healthy, but it has also been linked to cancer prevention, in particular to the prevention of prostate cancer.  So boys and men of the world out there get eating.

4. Great for weight loss – Every 100g serving of watermelon has only 30 calories. Although the fruit is high in sugar it is primairly made up of water helping your body to feel satisfied earlier and with less. So not only is it refreshing but it might also help you when to resist that “snacking” feeling.

5. Keeps you healthy –  Watermelons are full of vitamin C which plays a huge roll in your body’s immunity and healing.  No one likes a summer cold so make sure to stock up on watermelon while it is in season to keep you healthy and your immune system strong.

I am sure none of us need another reason other than “it’s delicious” to keep eating watermelon, but if you did I hope these five reasons have won you over!

Have a happy long weekend!!

Food Friday – Kale Express

This Food Friday I figured I would get back to something I have been ignoring for a while. And I have been ignoring it for no other reason than I just didn’t feel like cleaning the machine.

So I sucked it up, got the groceries required and made myself and my husband some delicious juice. The juicing experience has been an interesting one ending up with some complete disasters but for the most part we have been able to find some tasty combinations. Mostly anything that you put carrots, pineapple, apple or beets in turn out pretty decent.  However I have found that foods like ginger and celery (although amazing and super tasty)  take a bit to get used to and find the right balance for yourself.

So today I figured would be a great day to make us some juice seeing how we will be spending a fair amount of our day driving so I figured it couldn’t hurt to get some extra vitamins and minerals in us.   The batch I made could easily be for one person, however I split it in half to be “snack” sized for my husband and I.

Green Machine:

Kale and Pinapple Juice

4 Medium Organic Carrots
1 Bunch of organic Kale
2 Organic Celery Stalks
1/4 Organic Lemon (peel removed)
1 to 1.5 cups Pineapple

  1. Clean carrots, kale and celery by soaking them in a large bowl or sink filled with water and 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar.  Soak for 5-10 minutes.  Scrub the veggies clean with your hands or a scrub brush and rise them thoroughly.
  2. If needed cut your vegetables and fruits so that they will fit into your juicer.
  3. Feed all vegetables and fruits through the juicer.  Once it has been turned into juice, stir and serve.  Drink it as soon as possible to get maxim health benefits.

I hope you all enjoy the juice! It was tasty and refreshing.  It definitely has a “green” flavour to it but that is to be expected of anything that has kale in it, in my books at least.

I hope you all have a great weekend. Happy Friday!

Protein: What is your Deal?

Ever since completing my course on Nutrition and Wellness I have had some friends come to me with questions about what they are eating; is it enough? Is it too much? is there anything missing? Knowing that no one is perfect I think as humans we are always looking for where there is room for improvement and what types of things we can fix. One of the things I have seen the most frequently and something that I personally struggled with was eating enough protein.

What is a protein anyways? Well there are two different types of protein: complete and incomplete. A complete protein is a food that has all 9 essential amino acids in balanced proportions, an example of this is would be eggs, eggs are basically amazing. An incomplete protein, you guessed it, lacks one or more essential amino acids, an example of this would be nuts or seeds. For meat eaters getting all of your essential amino acids really isn’t an issue seeing they are all present in meat (poultry, beef, pork, etc), for vegetarians and vegans or the meat adverse it might just take a bit of extra finagling to make sure you are getting all essental amino acids. A non-meat eater can do this by combining two or more incomplete proteins (e.g. rice and beans) to create one complete protein. There are also foods such as quinoa and soy which are non-meat forms of complete proteins.

Protein CollageNow that we know what a protein is, what are they good for? Proteins are used by the body for just about everything, from tissue (muscle) repair, to helping transport vitamins and minerals all over your body. When you think of all the things that proteins do it makes sense that they should be an important part of your daily meal planning. I believe it is also important to note that protein is essential for all people (sedentary to bodybuilders and professional athletes) the levels of protein your body needs to consume in order to operate at its maximum capacity just change based on your activity levels. It is pretty reasonable to think that a bodybuilder or a professional runner would require more protein than someone that spends most of their day working in an office and rarely makes time for exercise…but this doesn’t mean those who are more sedentary need protein any less for daily functioning.

The average person requires 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight, so about 0.4g per pound, depending on how active you are this number can go up (1.3g per kg if you are active or pregnant and 1.8g per kg if you are an athlete or training). For example if you are a 150lbs woman who is active on a daily basis you should be aiming to consume about 88.7g of protein each day.

How are you supposed to track this? How do you make sure you are getting enough? To find out the quantity of protein in something the first place I look is normally the nutrition lable, they break down how much protein (among other things) per serving and it will give you an idea of what you are feeding your body. Other useful tools for tracking your protein intake are apps such as Lose It that help you to log everything you have eaten in a day and it keeps track of your calories, protein, sugars, and activity levels. Personally I journal, I like the act of writing out the food I eat and I don’t calorie count because well it makes me totally crazy and I find that the ownership behind writing out your meals is enough to keep me on target to meet my goals. That being said everyone is different so be sure to find something that works for you.

When adding or changing anything in your life it is always good to do a bit of research to get a general idea of what is out there. For ensuring you are getting adequate amounts of protein in your diet it shouldn’t be any different. Go out and find out what some of your favourite foods have to offer in the way of protein and maybe check out ways of increasing it. Knowing the average amounts of proteins in food will make it a bit easier for you to plan your meals.

Here are a couple examples of foods and their protein levels; 1 cup of milk has about 8 grams, 3 oz of meat has about 21 grams, and 1 cup of dried beans can have about 16 grams of protein. Now there are other things that contain protein, such as vegetables (e.g. spinach, broccoli, and peas), nuts, legumes, quinoa, chia seeds, sea food (most would consider this meat), any dairy product, dairy substitutes like fortified soy milk or almond milk, the list is pretty endless.

If protein is so essential why aren’t we more aware of it? I don’t think protein avoidance is something that anyone tries to do; I believe that it comes down to education. I think a lot of us, especially meat eaters take for granted that we are getting enough protein because we eat meat, and I think some non-meat eaters may not be aware of the plenitude of options out there. Before I was given guidelines for healthy living I really just assumed my muscles were supposed to be sore for a week after working them out, it hadn’t occurred to me that maybe they needed something more to help them heal.

 Guidelines for Healthy Living

Armed with information I am able to make better choices for my body and I am sure my body and muscles thank me for making healthier choices. To help you make some healthier choices when it comes to protein intake I have included a list of protein packed foods for breakfasts and snacks. I am focusing on breakfast and snacks because I personally find that they can at times be the most difficult ones to figure out in terms of what to include to get your protein.

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healthy-snacks-weightlossI hope these ideas help you in your own healthy meal planning, and I hope that despite the snow today you are having a great day!

Happy Tuesday!


References:

How Much Protein Should I Eat
Protein
Can You Get too Much Protein?
Vegetarian and Vegan Guide to Protein

Weekend Round Up

This past weekend slowed down a bit from the past couple of weekends I have had, which was nice.  It was nice to have a bit more downtime to get some cleaning and food prep wrapped up before the week starts.

This weekend I spent some time making some vegetable stock, preparing some ratatouille for a meal later on this week, bought some new shoes for the gym, and then the usual suspects of running, gym and farmers market. It was all pretty fantastic.

UntitledIt made the house smell so delicious.

UntitledI bought the white and purple ones…they are so amazingly comfortable.

Unfortunately I woke up Sunday not feeling so hot.  My husband had been sick this past week so I wasn’t all that surprised to find out I might be coming down with something.  Although it wasn’t much of a surprise it was definitely a disappointment to be feeling a little stuffed up. Then it happened I woke up this morning feeling as though someone had stuffed socks into my sinuses, it is absolutely wretched.  So today will be spent pumping myself full of vitamins and oranges in the hopes of feeling better asap.

I am lucky enough to have this little lady taking care of me for the time being.
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Happy Monday…hope you are all doing better than me.